It was a cold, dim morning on the sea, and the fact that both the sky and the water seemed grey didn't make it feel any warmer. The sun was already up, but it didn't give much warm light through the thick pale clouds.
Pavo was leaning on the ship's wheel, almost slumped across it, reading a book in the light provided by the morning.
Regularly some more people would be up by now, but there was no danger to be seen, no goals to achieve, and the morning felt very, very tired.
Mr Pavo was only up because he couldn't sleep anymore. He didn't like the chill in the air, and the thin fabric of his clothes didn't do much good for the warmth.
He borrowed his assistant's coat, not bothering to wake him up and ask if he can do so. The answer would be obvious anyway.
The coat was too big for the boy, but still too small for Pavo and his long lanky arms, but at least it provided some comfort out in the cold air.
Not expecting anyone to be up anytime soon, Pavo was somewhat surprised to hear slight tapping coming from the board. It would be barely notable, if the ship wasn't as quiet as if it was haunted.
Turning around, Pavo lay his eyes upon a scruffy ex-Armada captain, who seemed somewhat lost.
He rolled his eyes – one would think he would get used of the ship by now.
The blind man felt his way around with a wooden stick, possibly looking for a living soul.
To make it easier for him, the peacock cleaned his throat loudly, instantly getting the white-haired blind man's attention.
The man quickly, but carefully, made his way up to the deck, not being able to see the look on his crewmate's face, which was a mixture of curiosity and slight annoyance.
"Good morning," the tall lanky peacock greeted him, putting his book into his bag. He won't need it now anymore.
"Yeah, morning," replied the swan, with a husky, worn-out voice.
"Fuckin' cold today, ain't it,"
"It's chilly," Pavo replied with a slight shrug, not pointing out that the sleeves of the swan's old tattered uniform were rolled up.
The swan sighed loudly.
To Pavo, that was a clear sign something must have been bothering him. Or maybe he just wanted someone to talk to.
However, Pavo - being an awful person that he was - didn't ask him about it.
They stood on the deck beside that wheel for a while, in silence only disturbed by the calming sounds of the peaceful ocean waves.
Though, the longer they stood there, the more curious the native became.
He had learned that Cyg had a quite interesting, although upsetting life behind him. The grumpy old swan was an extremely interesting man – Pavo hadn't met many like him before.
"Do you ever miss it?" he asked.
"Miss what? My sight? The Armada? My parents? My comrades? Good food? My virginity? What?" the swan snapped, but it wasn't because he'd be angry, that's just what he was like. A very, very rough man. Just about anything he said could be taken as an insult, just because of how he said it and because of the tone in his voice that he was always using. He was like a rusty axe.
Pavo raised his eyebrows a bit.
"The Armada, you sailed on their ships for what... Thirty years? More?"
The swan shrugged a bit, nodded, shook his head and then nodded again before he decided on a good answer.
"Give or take."
"How many years did you spend as a captain?"
Cyg frowned a bit, thinking and calculating.
"I dunno... like five, seven at most? I don't know man, I drink too much," he said, but his expression changed from a frown to something a bit softer as he sighed again.
"You miss that, hm?" Pavo asked, drilling deeper into the corrupted man's emotions.
"You don't have much to do on this ship, due to your inability. You used to be the main man on the ship like this one, or even bigger. Must be a pretty bad downfall for you..."
"Pavo, you don't know shit. I started like this - a nobody on board. It ain't that awful for me."
"But back then you could see. You had work to do. Now you are useless—"
"Aw man, thanks, ain't that kind of you," the swan said, but didn't really sound offended. The poor man must've been used of this kind of talk – even worse, he probably felt they are all right about him.
"I see you watch- I'm sorry- hang around the wheel a lot." Pavo said, observing the reaction on the other man's face.
The swan looked somewhat embarrassed and annoyed by the peacock's observance.
"You miss it, don't you. Being the boss."
To his surprise, Cyg shook his head slowly and tiredly. Pavo was pretty sure that was what has been bothering him, and he knew Cyg wouldn't lie, especially when they spoke alone.
"I don't care about the ranks," the swan said slowly, sounding a bit sad.
"It's the ships I miss. I miss seeing them, and navigating them, and driving them - it's why I joined the Armada in the first place... well, that, and I wasn't good at anything else," he shrugged, seeming upset.
Pavo had to admit to himself that he felt a little bit bad for misjudging the situation for quite a bit. He himself was not a big ship lover, but he knew many men that were, the current ship's captain included. There's a certain passion to it, he figured out. It's different than his own love for books and knowledge.
What came next was another long silence, this time it was more awkward than before.
Cyg always quieted down once he revealed another part of his painful past, and Pavo always felt a bit bad about it, because it was always him who made him talk in the first place.
He watched the swan's pale, unshaven face, with his dark eyes staring forward at nothing, winking every so often.
When he was calm and withdrawn like this, only in those moments Pavo could actually look at him and see that this man had really been though a lot.
"Cyg," he said, to get his attention.
The man looked over, quickly paying attention again.
"Do you want to take over the wheel?" Pavo offered. He figured it probably won't be the same for him, but at least Cyg could pretend, or so Pavo hoped.
"With my sharp wits, I'll probably sink the damned ship," the swan replied. It's what he usually did when Pavo offered help. He was too proud to give into it, at least at first. He might have been ashamed he actually missed something from the Armada, which was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
"Don't be ridiculous," Pavo said, smirking.
"There's just open sea around. And even if you would somehow manage to turn towards rocks that would magically appear on the horizon, I'll be here." He shrugged, watching how the swan was slowly about to give in to the idea.
"Okay, since I know you won't stop..." he said as if it was a chore, but Pavo could clearly see the sparkle of excitement in his dark eyes.
He took the swan's hand to lead it to the handle, assuming Cyg needed help, but the pale hands quite quickly found their way to the wheel, holding it like it probably held it a thousand times before.
Pavo could see the former Light River Armada's captain beam with joy, a grin spreading across his face.
It was such an honestly happy grin, that it looked charming even with those missing teeth of his.
Even though the worn-out man couldn't see the beloved ocean in front of him, and even though he knew that the official first man on the ship was right behind him, ready to take over the wheel if he would happen to mess up anything, the memories of his best years overflowed his mind, and Cyg was content with this little gift given to him by a pirate.