A decent woman
Mission: Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys
Akito was cleaning up in the galley, after cooking dinner. He'd discovered a passion for cooking and food, that he had not been aware of. He had know he liked good food, but after a couple of meals cooked by McGinty, anyone would have come to that conclusion. But the beauty of finding the right mix of ingredients, prepared a certain way, even making it look aesthetically pleasing to look at; he enjoyed it. And most of the crew enjoyed it too.
"Cleaning up, Himuro?" a nagging voice interrupted his train of thought.
"Go away, O'Toole," he said in a quiet voice. Dottie got under his skin more than other women. She refused to be ignored, she always butted in with her opinion when no one asked and she was often drunk. Unseemly for a woman. And, he grudgingly admitted, she was better than him at playing cards.
"Shall I get you a nice pink apron?" Dottie leaned against the door frame, plucking at a cigar stump she desperately wanted to light. But it was her last, she'd save it. Picking on Himuro was a good distraction. But Himuro wasn't playing. He turned his back on her, while wiping down the wooden table in the mess hall. Dottie noticed his hands, which usually had stains of coal and grease on them. They were clean, even under his nails. "Or shall I draw you a bath, with bubbles and a baby bath toy?" She said it in an imitation of Remington's accent, which didn't sound as good as it did in her head.
Akito straightened up and sighed, then threw the cleaning rag on the table. "I shall put you on report, and tell Naji that you're not at your job."
"Report?" Dottie sniggered. "What do you think this is, a Brittish naval vessel? And what job? The ship is landed, everything is packed, there is no job!"
Himuro tried his best to swallow his anger, picked up the rag and continued cleaning. Dottie was not deterred. She stuck the cigar between her teeth and hissed around it: "Did you notice anything... odd?" She sucked on the cigar and took it out of her mouth again. "Like, those two people, who came to the ship? They were hanging around the wagons for a long time." The wagons that the captain had hired had been loaded with personal belongings, some loot that they would sell and supplies. The two people who had been hanging around the ship had been different from the teenagers who had been gawking at the crew and the ship. They seemed to have been looking for something, or someone.
"I haven't been on land since we landed," Akito murmured. "Now go away." Dottie picked up a chair and turned it around, sitting on it backwards.
"It's just... There was that life boat that was sabotaged. And then things started to break and disappear. I know they blamed that icari for most of it. But still...," she looked thoughtfull at Akito's back. "What do you think?"
"I think, you should go away." Dottie scowled at the answer Akito gave her.
"No wonder you have no friends," she said looking sour. Akito turned around and leaned on the table on the opposite side of where Dottie was sitting.
"I have friends," he said. "I have respect on this ship. I am not the failed first mate who sleeps around, and who doesn't know how to dress like a decent woman."
Dottie's mouth fell open. "I do not sleep around!" She looked down at her trousers and shirt. "There's nothing wrong with my clothes!" She didn't touch on the first mate issue, of course. "And I would love to see you dressed up as a decent woman!" She grinned as she added that. "You should ask Mrs. Perry for some tips on that!"
"Mrs. Perry is not decent either," Akito huffed. He still had the image burned in his mind of walking in on them in the mess hall, where they did unspeakable things on this very table. He unconsiously scrubbed the table surface a little harder. He was sure he had never met women who were as brazen and outspoken as the ones on Steamhawke. And it didn't seem confined to the ship. He felt most comfortable in the engine room where there were men. Just men.
"Well, there is just no talking to you," Dottie said as she got up. "I guess that's why you're always in the engine room. I bet you and Brem just sit around silently all day and all night." She frowned. "How can that be fun? Don't you feel like you're wasting your life there, passing up all the fun?"
She walked up to the engineer and poked at his chest. "I dare you. I dare you to go into town with me and try and outdrink me. Have some fun, loosen up!" Akito grabbed her hand, noting it was rough and calloused from the same kind of hard work he did. But smaller. He looked angry, but felt more exasperated. He had never been invited to go out for a drink. That was the reason he was always in the engine room. Brem had a drink with him now and then. But he had never been asked along on shore.
"Alright." He said it with quiet determination. He would go to the town centre. He'd have a drink. He'd show O'Toole how real men drink. "I will outdrink you."
Dottie laughed loudly. "I don't think so. I have had lots of practice."