This is for novel-bigbang on LiveJournal. Also, it's done and will be posted in eleven parts if I remember correctly. Tremendous amounts of thanks go to both yabureta tsubasa and Nute for being the best people ever. Art is linked on my profile! :D
Full Summary: When kidnapped by a horde of pirates onto an airship, Jonathan tries to make the best of his situation. But it's not that hard with women who care too much, a guard who's angry all the time, and a captain who's intrigued by Jonathan just as much as Jonathan is intrigued by him.
It was dark. Moonlight fell along the dusty grounds of the village. The stars twinkled, clear across the sky and beyond the ocean. On the other side of town, an airship rested on a few mountains not too far away.
Near the center of town was a scatter of buildings, all with open windows, drinking in the night. The moon shone brightly through one particular window, the window of a flat wherein a mess lay. Things were strewn all over the room, including clothes and books that had the name Jonathan scrawled upon them. A young man lay in the bed, half of his face in shadows, the other half under the moonlight that illuminated his open hazel eyes.
Jonathan sighed. He rolled over and tried to go to sleep, although he knew his attempt was futile. He hadn't been able to sleep for the past few hours. He'd been getting up and packing, getting back up and unpacking, then just gave up completely and flopped onto his bed. And he had too much energy at two in the morning to even consider resting. Still, he closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come. If it would come at all.
His eyes were still closed when he suddenly heard a loud noise outside of his room. At first, he thought it was a flatmate, or just a part of his imagination. But then he heard footsteps, climbing up the stairs and then walking through the hallway. Passing by his door.
And then voices.
"… not a good idea!" "Shut up! You don't want anyone elseto hear us!"
"… we just get someone else… Captain said…"
"You heard what—!"
"Who's being loud…!"
"Youare… shh… not it…"
"… sure this is the… no, it can't…"
"… hair, not black…"
"… supposed to remember?"
Jonathan didn't know the voices. In fact, they were in an accent he had never heard before. Frozen on his bed, his eyes shot open.Burglars, he thought grimly. What were they going to try to steal? Everything, from everyone in this building? But it sounded like they were looking for someone in particular. And there were at least three of them, that was for sure.
The footsteps were heavy. They were near his door again. Jonathan also deduced that they were men; they certainly sounded it.
Quietly, he sat up and slipped off his bed, his heart pounding loudly in his ears. He went by his bedside, picked up a lantern and lit it, and then crept across his room. His bare feet made no noise, and he made sure that his brown trouser legs didn't brush against each other too loudly. Carefully he made his way over to his bedroom door—the footsteps had faded away again—and unlocked it, and then peered out into the hallway, holding his lamp above him.
"Hello?" he whispered throatily in the dark.
He heard a few hushed voices at one end of the corridor. And then silence.
"Hello?" he tried again, a bit more clearly this time. "What's going on?"
What was hedoing, trying to talk to burglars, Jonathan thought all of a sudden. He should have just let them go about their business and steal whatever they had to steal. But no, for once Jonathan had decided to be reckless, and now they were probably going to hurt him. And then steal him. Jonathan cursed mentally: they'd probably heard him—perhaps he could try to scare them away by saying that he was onto them. He stepped out into the hallway.
"Don't try to hide," he said, his voice bouncing off the walls. "I know you're—mmf!"
Somehow, the burglars had managed to walk over to him without him noticing, and one of them clamped his hand over Jonathan's mouth. Jonathan struggled and tried to step back into his room—but something—someoneblocked his way and pulled his hands back together and he turned back and then forward. Suddenly he was face-to-face with a large, dark-skinned man: the man who was covering Jonathan's mouth.
Jonathan bit the man's hand and the man yelped. Jonathan struggled with the person behind him, but he wasn't letting him go. He tried to yell, but the dark man clapped his hand over Jonathan's mouth again, so Jonathan just flailed violently against the man who was keeping his arms back, feeling utterly hopeless. The dark man glanced behind Jonathan.
"He's not staying still, Mocca," said a voice near Jonathan's ear, and Jonathan stopped moving in fright.
"You think I couldn't see that?" growled the dark man. He looked down at Jonathan again. "Though you might'a scared him."
"I've never been called scary before." The voice chuckled.
The dark man, Mocca, leaned in and narrowed his eyes. He smelled like the sea. "Don't know why Cap'n wants you," he muttered to Jonathan. "There's nothing special 'bout you."
"Getting jealous?" said the voice behind Jonathan, sounding amused.
Mocca glared up above Jonathan. "Shut up," he said. "He just ain't gettin' attention that he doesn't deserve." He glanced to the side, and Jonathan saw another man with straw blond hair, holding a bundle of ropes. "Tie him up," instructed Mocca.
This was Jonathan's chance. The moment the man behind him loosened his grip on his wrists, Jonathan shot backward, intending to make as much noise as possible. Unfortunately, however, he managed to shove the second man aside and fell back into his room; he heard someone outside curse. Scrambling up from his reclining position, he raced to the back of his room as quickly as he could as the three men in the doorway started coming toward him.
Jonathan wasn't paying attention to where he was going and didn't realize that there was nowhere else to go until his back was flat against the wall. But before he could think out a plan or cry out for help, his head crashed into something hard on the side—then Jonathan blacked out.
"… and fuck you."
"Now, now, is that any way to talk to a woman?"
"I said, fuck youBelle. You're fuckin' lucky to be working on this ship. When Cap'n hears about this—"
"Oh, but the only thing the Captain will be hearing is how you're refusing orders. From me."
"I don't needto take any orders from you, and you're gonna go in and deliver whatever the hell this is yourself!"
"You're the man's guard—and speaking of, is he awake yet?"
"I dunno, I haven't checked, have I? That's not my effin' responsibility—"
"Your responsibility is this man, and you doneed to see if he's awake—oh, the poor dear, he looks so thin. Oh, is he conscious?"
"Look what you've done now, woman, you woke him up!"
Jonathan stirred. His eyelids felt strangely heavy, and his neck was sore—and he knew that he was definitely not at his flat. Where was he? That deep voice sounded familiar, though he didn't know the female one at all.
The first thing he saw was the wooden ceiling. It was almost like his flat's, but different: dirty and slightly charred. Sunlight shone through a nearby window; it was morning already. Jonathan wasn't so sure if he had been asleep, considering his head hurt quite a lot and he didn't feel well-rested at all. He had a vague idea what was going on, but it didn't hit him until he suddenly realized that his wrists were tightly bound together, behind the back of a wooden chair.
The room had also gone quiet.
He shot his head up, only to see an extremely young woman staring down at him. A dark brown bowl was in her hands.
"Are you all right?" she said, her eyebrows furrowed in worry.
A dark man near her—Mocca, Jonathan recalled—snorted. "That's not something you should ask a prisoner, you know," he said, walking over to her. "Gimme that!" He snatched the bowl out of her hands and glared.
The woman tsked. "You are so rude," she said. "I'll be complaining to the Captain. Don't blame me if he demotes you."
"Oh, I'll be soscared," said Mocca sarcastically as the woman started marching out of the room.
The woman turned around and looked back at Jonathan, still seated and tied to his chair. "I'm so sorry, dear," she said. "That you have to be stuck with him." She shot one last glared at Mocca, and then stalked out.
Jonathan struggled with his binds, but they were too strong. He gazed back up at Mocca, who was now chuckling.
"Don't try," he said, moving the bowl toward him. "Cyrus is one mean knot-tier."
Jonathan stared into his eyes as Mocca kneeled down to be level with him. "Where am I?" he cried, and felt a bit stupid that he sounded so scared. "Who are you? What are you planning to do with me?"
Mocca ignored him. "Drink up," he said, nudging the edge of the bowl on Jonathan's chin. Jonathan glanced down: porridge.
What if it was poisoned? "No," he said stubbornly, lifting his chin up. "Now tell me where I am."
Mocca's eyes flashed. "I said, drink up," he ordered, shoving the bowl against Jonathan's cheek.
"No." Jonathan moved his face out of the way. "I'm not going to eat anything. And you're going to tell me what I'm doing here."
"You're in no position for making orders," growled Mocca, and he toppled the bowl's contents right onto Jonathan's closed lips. Jonathan didn't bother opening his mouth, and all of the porridge spilled right on his front, dripping on his chin and splattering his buttoned shirt. Mocca let out a sound of frustration, stood up, and moved toward Jonathan, looking as if he was about to punch him. Jonathan closed his eyes, bracing himself for impact—
"That's enough," said a cool voice suddenly, a voice Jonathan hadn't heard before. He opened his eyes to see a man in the doorway.
The man was unlike Jonathan had ever seen before. While Mocca and the woman had been dressed in what Jonathan had presumed to be the uniform—dark red shirt and pale trousers, or just a dark red dress in the woman's case—this man was wearing pressed black slacks, black boots with shining silver buttons, and a gold-lined black coat, a regal white shirt underneath. As if to add to his intimidation, his black hair barely made it past his eyes, which were grey and cool as they raked around the room.
"You can go now, Mocca," the man instructed. Mocca made a slight bow, and then left, shuffling across the room. The man and Jonathan watched as the door swung shut, and then the man turned back to Jonathan.
A small smile broke through his features.
"I'll have a talk with him later, to go easier on you," he said. His eyes didn't seem so cold anymore. "I'm glad you're awake."
"Where am I?" blurted Jonathan.
The man continued smiling. "My ship." It seemed as there was nothing more to his answer. Jonathan wasn't bothered by this.
"And who are you?"
"Demetri. Captain Demetri, if you will," he added, "but I don't really see it as a necessary prefix. Or an epithet, although my crew tends to disagree."
"And what exactly do you want from me, CaptainDemetri?" demanded Jonathan, angry all of a sudden. "What do you want? Why am I doing here? And why—"
"Hmm, we should get you a change of clothes," said Demetri suddenly, cutting him off and gazing at his shirt. "Not just because it's dirty, you know," he added to Jonathan, eyeing the porridge dripping from Jonathan's chin (Jonathan blushed and wished that he could wipe it off. If only his hands weren't tied.) "But your clothes look awfully uncomfortable."
"My clothes are fine," defended Jonathan, ignoring the slight itch in his trousers. "And if you don't mind, can you please tell me why I'm here on your ship, trapped here and tied?"
Demetri looked at him for a moment. Then he started pacing across the room, glimpsing for a moment out the single round window on the right wall.
"There is a story that goes around the great cities of this world," he said. "A story that has been passed down for centuries, a story that all the great pirates have heard. The story speaks of a great king who had a great treasure, and when he died, he hid it away from every other human on earth. Pirates for the past millennium have been looking for this treasure, searching far and wide, every part of this earth—but it's been so long since the story was started, that it's been rendered a myth. And many have considered that it doesn't even exist."
"So?" said Jonathan impatiently. "What's the point?"
Demetri looked at him.
"That treasure is here on this island."
"Well," said Jonathan, not believing him for one second. "If it's on this island, then search the island all you want! You don't need me for anything!"
"Yes I do," Demetri said simply.
They stared at each other for a few moments.
"What do you want to do then?" said Jonathan sarcastically. "Want me to be your treasure detector? Find it for you? Because that's not likely, and since you're already here, you can just go in and take it yourself—"
"But we can't," said Demetri, shaking his head. "See, this is the problem, Jonathan—"
"How do you know my name?"
"—it's in your town, and we can't just go in and raid it." Demetri started pacing again. "It's at the edge of the village, but the caves are by the shore and we can't just move our ship right next to the beach, or else everyone will notice. We have to cut across the village before we can find it, and we want to do it without causing any mayhem."
"You don't sound like a bunch of pirates to me," accused Jonathan.
Demetri ignored him. "And that's why we took—why we kidnappedyou," he corrected himself. "Because we need someone from the village to help us get through unnoticed."
Jonathan thought for a moment. "Well if you're going to the shore, you'll need a license first," he said. "They usually don't let people out there unless they have permission. There's dangerous stuff out there."
"We can handle dangerous stuff." Demetri nodded. "Go on."
"And you'll have to dress like a traveler, since everyone basically knows everyone already," Jonathan added thoughtfully. "And none of those fancy clothes, because then people will know you're pirates… or something."
Demetri nodded again. "I'll let our women know to make clothes."
"Great. Now that I told you everything I could, can you let me go, please?" Jonathan was tired, and in the back of his mind he was wondering if anyone at the village was worrying about him. Had they even noticed yet? Someone must have had.
But Demetri said, "No. I can't let you go yet," and he actually sounded quite apologetic. "It's not going to be that easy for us. And that means it's not going to be that easy for you."
"B-But—" spluttered Jonathan. Gods! He couldn't just stay here on this pirate ship! "I have a wife! A-And kids!" he lied, thinking wildly on the spot. "I just can't leave them in the village! They'll miss me, and my parents—"
"Your parents think that you're having a wonderful time without them," interrupted Demetri. "And you have no kids. Nor a wife, although you do have a girlfriend." He smiled a little at the baffled expression on Jonathan's face. "There's a reason why we took you, Jonathan, and not any other person in the village. It's because you're the most resourceful, the most efficient, the most independent… the least missed."
The words stung Jonathan, a little. He glowered up at Demetri.
"Oh, I didn't mean it like that," said Demetri, catching a glimpse of his expression. "It's just that people won't know the first or the last place to look if you went missing. You do so many things by yourself, you don't need anyone. And as a result, very few people need you.
"But don't worry." Demetri's lip curled. "We need you. And you won't be leaving soon, anyways. So I think it's best that if you just stay here and do as you're asked. Don't you agree?"
Throughout the day, Jonathan was mostly left alone in his room. He had been untied shortly after his talk with Demetri and had been encouraged to look around the ship. But Jonathan wasn't fooled. He knew that these people just wanted to get him comfortable, because then when he least expected it, they would spring up on him and attack him for information. Or something. Jonathan just knew that these people couldn't be trusted.
They were definitely pirates, by the way Jonathan could tell that everything about this ship was against the law; but they didn't act very much like the type of pirates who were stupid and greedy. The man who had brought him lunch—the man with the straw blond hair, Jonathan had recognized—wasn't kind, particularly, but he had politely given Jonathan the slab of meat and the piece of bread, and then sat back and watched silently as Jonathan ate his meal. Jonathan was tempted to yet again question what exactly they were doing (and why, of all people, hewas here), but then decided against it.
He didn't have the same leisure when his dinner came in, however. It was delivered to him by the man named Mocca.
"You just wait," said Mocca, sneering and throwing the bowl onto the desk, next to where Jonathan was sitting. "The cap'n may be crazy, but soon enough he'll see that you're just nothing' but a filthy peasant."
"I've been a filthy peasant my whole life," said Jonathan, scowling right back and picking up his spoon. He looked into his bowl. "What's this?"
"Soup," grunted Mocca. "You'd better enjoy it; don't know if we'll have enough leftovers for you the longer you stay here."
"I don't plan on staying long," Jonathan shot right back. "And lunch certainly didn't seem like leftovers." He looked down at the soup. His stomach growled in hunger.
"Well you're just lucky then, aren't you?" Mocca gestured to his bowl impatiently. "Drink up so I can get outta here."
Jonathan was half-tempted to finish his soup as slowly as he could, except he wanted Mocca to leave as well. He started drinking the soup quickly. Apparently it tasted better than it smelled, though not by much.
Mocca soon left with the empty bowl in his hands, grumbling about feisty prisoners. Jonathan sighed. He had probably already been here for twenty-four hours, and there was nothing he could do about it. He sat on the bed that had come with the room—which was surprisingly comfortable—and stared out the window. The sun was setting over the horizon. Jonathan suddenly realized that they were somewhere in the mountains, for there was a deep slope below them, and the clouds were level with the ship. What's a ship doing in the middle of the mountains?Jonathan frowned. They were probably on some lake that they found through an obscure river. Jonathan didn't know how pirates traveled.
He needed to get out of here as soon as possible. The problem was, he didn't know when—he could figure out how later. As far as Jonathan knew, Mocca was supposed to be his guard, which meant that he was standing right outside his door. But guards should sleep sometime, shouldn't they? And neither Demetri nor Mocca had mentioned a second guard, which meant that either Mocca was impeccably awake that every hour of the day… or that his door was unguarded for a while during the nighttime.
As soon as the thought struck him, a plan began forming in his mind. He would stay awake and listen and watch until Mocca left or slept, and then sneak out. He could probably find his way well around the ship; it wasn't thatlarge, right? And then he would just leave…
Jonathan glanced around the room, and cursed that there wasn't anything he could use to help him. The room he had been put in was about the size of his old flat—which wasn't very large, actually. The room had only a bed, a desk, a chair and a small chest of drawers; add a cupboard and a few clothes, and it would be almost identical to his flat. The only thing it was missing was the adjoined bathroom, though Jonathan didn't quite feel like pissing at the moment. He supposed that he could always prowl through the chest of drawers to see if anything was in there, but he doubted that something would magically appear since he had already checked three times today. So all he had was himself.
It felt like forever until the sun had finally disappeared and the moon was young in the sky. Jonathan watched and waited as the sky grew darker and darker, consciously listening to the voices outside. He heard Mocca conversing loudly with the other people on this ship outside his room, sometimes in heated voices, otherwise with rambunctious laughter. But as soon as it sounded like no one else was there, he'd peek out to see if Mocca was asleep. Then he'd go.
A part of him couldn't help feeling a little bit guilty for leaving—he definitely wanted to leave, but after all the trouble these people went through to capture him… But they kidnapped him, didn't they? Just so these greedy pirates could get whatever treasure they were going after? It was their fault that he was leaving, because they had taken him in the first place. Jonathan didn't belong here.
He was startled out of his reverie when he realized that quite a few minutes had passed without a single sound of conversation outside his door. He gazed out the window again, seeing nothing but the bright moon and dark blue skies spattered with stars. It was time.
He got up from his chair and quietly walked over to the other side of the room, feeling a slight déjà vu of what had happened the night before. He opened the door to a crack and peeked outside. It was dark, much darker than outside the ship—but he didn't see anyone. He couldn't even hear anyone in the corridor. That meant that Mocca was gone, and that he could move about the ship without causing any trouble. Holding his hands together in thanks, he quietly stepped out into the hall, closed the door, and started walking.
Everything seemed to be made of wood. Jonathan walked through what seemed to be the parlor, right outside his room, with built-in benches and chairs. He glanced around. A single hallway ran up and down the side of the ship. There were doors on each side on the wall, but the right side seemed to be significantly shorter than the left. Jonathan assumed that it headed either toward the back of the ship or the front, so he turned to the left and started walking, wondering what exactly he was looking for. As he walked, Jonathan felt like something was off: it was almost tooquiet, and like earlier throughout the day, there was no sign of any other life outside the ship—no seagulls squawking, ocean waves crashing, boat rocking back and forth. Only the silence, and the smell of fresh, wild air.
Jonathan continued on cautiously, making sure that he wasn't bumping into anything in the dark, and kept his eyes and ears open for any source of noise or other movement. Not like he knew what he would do if he was caught, but it was always good to have an excuse ready. Maybe he would say that he was looking for a toilet, and he could try to sneak out later. Luckily, though, he encountered no one (although he didwonder where the toilets were.)
Jonathan reached the other end of the ship after what felt like forever, and swore to himself. What washe looking for? Well, he realized, it wasn't like the ship had only one level. He would look for a staircase which would lead him to another floor, hopefully up to the deck. Jonathan turned around and started back down the hall, this time looking to the side corridors to see if they led to anywhere else other than to the other side of the ship. Consciously, he felt like he was being watched, and darted his eyes around in the dark—but saw nothing other than the wooden halls and the wooden floors.
Soon, he discovered a hall that had a dip in the middle, and he crept through to see that there was a large staircase, which spiraled both upwards and downwards. Jonathan debated where to go; he was rather curious as to what could be below. But he told himself that he would be leaving, not exploring, so he gathered up his wits and made his way up the staircase.
The night sky came as a shock to him. Jonathan blinked, adjusting his eyes to the dark blue skies in the distance. The stars were as bright as ever here, sprinkling across the sky like bits and pieces of dust. Jonathan was mesmerized for a moment; and then he snapped out of his trance and took a look around the deck of the ship.
It was large, and marginally bigger than the level below—which was saying something, because Jonathan had probably been wandering around for about a half an hour now. The deck was just as wooden as every other part of the ship, though the railings were golden and made of metal. There were two large rooms on the deck, stuck to the floor like stacked blocks. The bow—Jonathan decided that the direction he was facing was the front—had a large nose jutting out in front, almost like it could bring the ship off-balance with its size. And attached to this nose, like on the stern, was a long steel rope, winding higher and higher, holding up onto…
… a large grey balloon.
Jonathan stared, and almost shrieked.
It certainly looked like a balloon: it was fat and puffy and Jonathan highly doubted that anybody was actually in it. It was rumbling slightly, sort of like the sound of an engine or a generator, and Jonathan realized with a sickening feeling that it wassome sort of engine. What kind of ship was this? He stared around: one of the deck rooms was attached to the balloon. Of course. And the metal masts on the side, they connected to the balloon as well. Was this even a boat at all? Jonathan ran toward the stern and looked over the edge.
His stomach dropped.
There, right below him, was a large wooden wing, coming out from the bottom of the ship. Probably for steering. And below that was nothing—absolutely nothing. The bottom of the ship was in a crevice between two large rocks in a mountain, and then there was just darkness underneath that. In the distance, Jonathan could see other mountains, and also streams and forests. And waterfalls. Which seemed to be miles and miles below them.
This wasn't an old fashioned ship that went across rivers and lakes.
This was a ship that flew.
A ship that flew.
"Holy fuck," breathed Jonathan.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
Jonathan yelped and swiveled around. Demetri was standing there, smiling. Jonathan noticed that he was no longer in his fresh outfit, but in another dark outfit that must have been for sleeping in, yet he still looked like the intimidating captain he was.
"It's all right," said Demetri, gazing off the ship as well. "I don't blame you for wanting to leave. I'll have to have anothertalk with Mocca." He rolled his eyes.
"I-I wasn't—" Jonathan blabbered, and then stopped. "I wasn't trying to leave," he said, keeping his voice as controlled as he could (which wasn't very controlled.) "I was just—looking for the toilet."
"Well if you were looking for the head, there's one on both sides of the dining hall. And there's one in there, too." Demetri pointed to one of the upper level rooms, the one that wasn't attached the balloon. "However, if you areinterested in leaving, there's a gate with a ladder on the other side of the deck. But I wouldn't recommend using it. You might fall."
"I—" Jonathan didn't know what to say. Here he was, caught by the captain of the ship who was wearing silk pajamas, and he had nowhere to go. And even if he wanted to leave, it was evident that he couldn't. It was physically impossible for him to get off this ship. Unless he had a death wish.
"I'm a light sleeper," Demetri said conversationally, looking back at him. "Some may say it's a good thing, being captain." He drummed his fingers on the railing. "At least I found you up here. Or you'd probably never find your way back down."
"I can find my way back down quite fine, thank you very much," Jonathan snapped, and then flushed in embarrassment. What was he thinking? He was a prisoner.
"Oh, I doubt that." Demetri continued smiling that half-smile of his. "Airships tend to be bigger than they look. And you can't see very much in the dark, can you?"
Jonathan opened his mouth to retort, and then found that he had nothing to say.
"Come on," said Demetri, stepping away from the edge. "You should get a good night's sleep. And I should, too." His grey eyes glinted with amusement in the moonlight.
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