The captain dragged his steel-toed boots along the rough deck. He looked at his pitiful excuse for a crew. The man, the ex-convict, seemed to be one of the few who appeared strong enough to do any sort of strenuous work. There was a workman among the school boys, Jacobs knew, but the man blended well enough that he didn't stand out. Captain Jacobs was about to speak when two street urchins ran up the gangplank and came to a panting stop in front of him.
"Who are you?"
The taller one chewed a little on his chapped lip. "We're the Gondenne brothers, here to enlist." The youth said in a voice that was raspy as if he'd been screaming too much, but rough as if from under usage
"It won't do to have two sailors of the same name." Jacobs said, regarding the boys closely. They seemed familiar, and he was racking his organized brain for a memory that included them. The smaller one squirmed under his gaze, but was the first to speak.
"I'm Guppy. Never known no other name." Guppy grinned, and his dirty face folded into precious dimples. His eyes were playfully regarding everything, their clear blue reflecting the sky. His hair was thick, light, and tussled, and he radiated innocence. "I'm twelve."
Jacobs nodded and turned to Guppy's brother. The older boy said nothing, regarding Jacobs with a gaze far past his years. He couldn't have been more than fifteen, and yet his eyes made him seem like an old man. They were an amber color- nearly yellow, and blank as if their owner was unaccustomed to feeling any emotions. The boy wore an old cap that concealed most of his hair, however an auburn lock curled on his forehead.
The two boys were the different personifications of the typical Parisian street urchins. One was the eternal child, the other was corrupt and broken.
"And you, mon garçon?"
Guppy poked his brother in the back and said in a soft voice, "C'mon, Mar, give le Monsieur your name."
"Marcel." He said, after a moment of consideration. Jacobs raised an eyebrow, uncomfortable with the pause that the boy'd given. "Sorry, Monsieur, I'm a little hard of hearing. Gettin' over s'mthin' terrible." He offered, and Jacobs nodded slightly, accepting the excuse. For now…
His eyes met those of the ex-convict, Fauche, and then his eyes flickered to the man's son, who stood very close to him. Fauche prodded the boy, and he spoke in a clear tone. "I'm Eric Fauche, Captain."
Jacobs looked closely. The boy was quite pretty, with full lips, clear, porcelain skin and wide blue eyes. His cheeks were full and splotched as if with rouge. He radiated innocence and purity, and Fauche seemed to be very protective of the delicate boy.
"Are you one of my ship's boys?" Jacobs asked. The boy shrugged. "You are now. Parsley, you too." He pointed at the young man they had picked up in the tavern. "Along with Marcel and Guy."
"Guppy." The child corrected, but Jacobs' attention was fixed on the Parsley boy, whose face was flushed a scarlet color.
"But, sir, I'm twenty one-"
"There will be no 'But's on this ship. This is the S.S. Law and should be treated as if you lot actually respect its namesake." This earned some murmuring from the schoolboys, and Jacobs glared at them, causing the majority to shut up.
The captain walked along the line of boys, inspecting his crew.
Most of them slumped or crossed their arms over their under-toned chests. One of them had already managed to get into the liquor store on board; other than him, there was a singular figure that stood out. Instead of looking defeated, the boy stood erect and still, his chin up and his arms stiff at his sides. Jacobs came right up to the blond statue and looked at him closely, green eyes boring into icy blue. "Name, boy?"
"Jean-Luc Estellon." He responded, shortly. Although Jacobs regarded them all as traitors, he knew that he needed a second in command. This man seemed the closest thing to a leader that the crew had, and so he nodded at the boy.
"You're First Mate Estellon, now."
The boy nodded. Even after Jacobs walked by, he kept his proud stance and never once let his chest cave. Jacobs saw this out of the corner of his eye and was inwardly impressed. He went around, asking questions and assigning jobs based on this. His crew was abnormally small, consisting of under twenty sailors.
Jacobs wasn't looking forwards to this voyage.
Tiné was beside herself. Parsley was him! The handsome boy who she was used to spotting on the street. Although she regarded other men in the same way, he was never far from her mind. She felt quite exhilarated just to be in his company.
Guppy, the small boy, was chatting off Parsley's ear as the four headed down to their cabins. The ship was of a decent size, so there were about two or three men assigned to each cabin. Tiné was nervous. She figured that Marcel would want to room with his brother, which would force her to sleep beside a handsome man she was not married to, but the boy almost immediately said, "Guppy, you go with Monsieur Parsley."
"None of this 'Monsieur' business. We're to be friends. I am Christophe, but je m'appelle Topher." He insisted, sticking out his hand towards Marcel, who nervously looked away. Sighing, Topher put his hand towards Tiné and she took it. There was a sudden shock between them, and she pulled away. She saw in his eyes that he felt it as well.
"Okay. Fauche? This is ours." Marcel interrupted, suddenly looking very uncomfortable. Tiné nodded, still looking into Topher's captivating cobalt irises. Tiné and Topher were too absorbed in each other to notice as Marcel pulled his brother aside and murmured something to him. "Not a word about anything. Especially not father."
"Yeah, Yeah." Guppy mumbled, pulling himself free of his sibling's grasp. "Got it, Mar."
That night, Tiné made sure that Marcel was asleep before she unwound her hair and released it from the cap. She had considered cutting it, but decided against it, not willing to part with her blond tresses. She had brought a comb with her, and started to run it through her hair- attempting to pull out the knots that had clumped during the day.
She was getting frustrated with the back of her head- used to having her maid do it- when suddenly someone took the comb from her hand.
"Here, let me." Marcel said in the stiff air. He gently separated her hair into its usual glossy wave, starting from the bottom and carefully making his way up. Once he was done, he started to braid her hair with his dirty, bony fingers. He did it so that her long hair was braided around her head and would easily stay under her cap and stay relatively neat. Once he was completely done with her hair, no questions asked, he got really close to her, very nearly resting his chin on her collarbone. His lips were close to her skin, and there was a playful tone in his voice. "Your disguise isn't very convincing, Madamoiselle."
A/N: Romance for our spoiled brat? Marcel or Topher? Neither?
And can I get a hand for the ever adorable Guppy? :)
*Mon Garcon- My boy
*Je m'appelle- I call myself