« Captain. »
Hook had heard Smee call him, but he didn't bother to look up. He had gotten so drunk last evening that the morning's unavoidable hangover was even harder than he thought. His men had celebrated all night long the success that came with their latest treasure hunt. After the fiasco they had encountered before, Hook had decided to change his strategy in order to get to the mermaid's lagoon safely. This time, they didn't meet any Indians, and without Jane messing around and ruining things, they succeeded.
It had been a memorable night of junket, compounded with bawdy songs and rhum flowing like water on the deck. However, Hook had decided as usual to retrieve quite early, preferring his own apartment's solitude to get drunk, so that his men would not see him slowly losing his well-build dignity.
« Captain, repeated Smee. I need to talk to you about something. »
With a tremendous amount of effort, Hook finally managed to open an eye, then the other. He had – once again – fallen asleep onto his desk, a flask of rhum still seated into his valid hand. Waking up wasn't going to be an easy thing, and already his headache tormented him like Hell. After a good while, he granted Smee some of his attention.
« What is it, then ? said Hook on a scornful tone. Is it some crew member who needs to walk the plank, perhaps ? Or another one who wants to get more than his fair share from the treasure?
- Well, not exactly, captain. » Smee took his hat off and started to twiddle it between his clumsy fingers. « It's just that... The girl... Well, she's quite ailing, sir. »
At first, Hook thought he had misheard the man. His last – and only – meeting with Jane had happened more than two weeks ago, and he had left right after he had talked to her about his missing hand. He still wondered why he did reveal this to her... And he had been hoping since then to completely forget her presence on the ship. Because of this, he had stricly forbidden his men to even mention her name.
« Ailing, Hook repeated, not quite awake. Ailing. And so what ? She might as well die, for what I care. Smee. Do I really have to remind you why I still keep her aboard ? Because if I let her go, she'll reveal to Pan all of our plans ? » And mostly because if I let her go, everyone will start to think of me as merciful, he mentally added for himslef.
Smee was playing with his hat with even more nervousness. « That is... As I was putting some order in the logbook today, I realised... It's quite embarassing, but we lost a great deal of men, recently, captain. A little bit of extra-help would be more than welcome, and it'd be a shame to waste a potential moussaillon, y'know ?
- I see. » Hook was completely awake, by now. So, aparently, they were so many men missing that Smee was thinking about recruiting a woman – and more than that, a treacherous one ?
« You said that she was in bad shape. A weak sailor wouldn't be of any use. » Clearly, the idea of seeing this insidious girl upon his deck again wasn't pleasant at all. The less he saw her, the better. If he laid his eyes upon this scoundrel again... He didn't even know how he might react.
« Which is why I'm informing you now. If you accepted right away, we'd still be able to get her back on her feet. A few days more, and I wouldn't be so sure about that.
- She betrayed us once. What makes you think she wouldn't do that again ? To let her be free again would be a risk. She could sabotage the ship, for what I know, or poison our food...
- Which is why I'd agree to keep an eye on 'er, captain. »
Well then, Hook thought. Whether he has some kind of soft spot for the girl, whether we really are desperate.
« All right, Smee. You might as well free her... answered the captain grimly. But it is your job to get her well again. And if you fail at watching her properly and she betrays us again... I'll gladly stick my hook through her throat. Or, better, yours, since it is after all your brilliant idea. » The smile he bestowed as he said those words was so menacing that the poor man turned white. Mumbling some vague acknowledgments, he soon slipped away.
Smee being gone, Hook finally allowed himself to sink back into his seat. No matter what this damned girl becomes. As long as I ignore her, everything will be the exact same. Thus reassured, Hook set about facing this new day... As unwell as he felt thanks to the phenomenal hangover he was burdened with.
Jane was about to pass out when her prison's door opened. Her nausea was tormenting her, not to mention the permanent fever that just couldn't let her get some rest. She couldn't stand the fact she wasn't able to think clearly. Everything was blurry around her and in her mind. She felt like she was constantly drowning in an ocean of delirium, and there was no way to get out of it, to get some air.
At least, if I fainted, I could finally get some kind of rest, she thought. As she closed her eyes – her eyelids were burning - she heard footsteps racing towards her, and arms catching her before she could fall to the ground. Everything went black.
Waking up, Jane wondered for a while if she wasn't dreaming. But the mellow texture of the sheets covering her body, the smooth contact of the mattress with her skin were real enough. She got the very dinstinct sensation to finally wake up from a terrible nightmare – a nightmare both indistinct and hectic.
« Miss Jane, better pace yourself here. You caught a horrible fever, down there in the hold. It was too dank and decrepit, and your health weakened considerably. »
Well, I kinda already had suspected that, she wanted to respond, but she felt too tired to even open her mouth. She knew it since her fifth day of imprisonment : she felt herself getting sick, but she had absolutely nothing to get better. The guards ignored her, just like the rest of the crew, and the captain as well. She never felt so alone than during these long days, when she felt like she was losing her mind, and she had nothing or no one to keep her sane. As her mind was slipping away, she lost count of the days and started to wonder if anyone even remembered she existed.
She tried to get up, and the only thing she managed to do was to let out a painful moan.
« Don't move, miss ! You should try to get some more rest, y'know. You'll get back on your feet faster this way. » As he fetched some water and a towel, he turned back to her to add : « Oh, and miss, don't you worry from now on. You're safe. »
Bloody hell, how I hate to be weak, was Jane's last thought before she sunk back into slumber – slumber she hoped to be renovator enough for her to whack the hell out of this damned Hook once she woke up.
It took Jane three days before she could put stand up steadily again. Three days where Smee politely practised careful treatments, even if she kept telling him she was fine, really. Her first contact to the ground wasn't as successful as she expected – as soon as she put her feet down, her legs failed her and she fell back onto her bed. But with another careful attempt, she got stable enough to finally put a foot before the other. Oh, what a privilege it was to be able to do again what was once so simple !
Smee found her walking around the room meticulously. As soon as he saw her, he clapped his hands in glee :
« What a great joy it is to see you up and kicking once again, miss Jane !
- I wouldn't be here without your help, Smee. You're the only member of the crew who cared enough to help me out of this prison. I don't know how you convinced the captain to let me be free again, but I owe you one. » She gratified him with the most warmheartedn smile. Smee flushed a bit.
- Well, to be completely honest with you, miss, I gotta say... The capt'n only accepted because... We've somehow been lacking crew members, recently. And, your help would be greatly appreciated, miss.
- Hook would let me circulate on the ship... freely ? Jane was astounded.
- How can I say... Not really... Not at first, at least. I'll have to watch you, for sure. But I'm sure, if you don't do nothin' wrong, we won't need that at all, later. »
This was alright for Jane. If having Smee keeping an eye on her was the price to pay to be free again, she'd gladly accept it.
« When should I start ? She inquired.
- Oh, please, don't put any pressure on you already. You need to rest a bit more, or you'll have a relapse faster than I could say ! »
It finally took Jane three more days before she could work aboad the ship once more. As promised, Smee followed her at all times, but he wasn't so hard to bear. Of course, she sometimes wished for some moments of solitude, just for an hour or two, but she knew perfectly she didn't earn this right – yet. Trying to escape would be no use, and she knew it. Smee had luckily convinced the captain to be generous once, but he would show absolutely no kindness if she was caught trying to run away once more. Also, run away – but to go where, she wondered. At least, here, even if she wasn't entirely free, she was safe. Any fool could have understood that, and it would take someone twice as fool to screw this up by breaking the rules established.
So she waited patiently. She'd be watched as long as she hadn't convinced the whole crew she was irreprochable... But that could take months, or even years. And Smee wasn't the one who had the final say in all of this : the captain of the Jolly Roger did.
However, this one was rarely showing up, and when he did, he completely ignored her. He must hate me, she reflected, and he has his good reasons. But, hey, he didn't do anything to be likable either !
Anger grew within her guts as she thought about the captain, and she consequently scrubbed the floor with more intensty. When she thought she almost started to have some compassion for the man... Until Smee admitted he had once said he didn't care whether she was dead or dying in her cell ! He would have let her rot in her prison without ever doing a single thing about it. And that was this kind of man who possessed the key to her freedom ? How could she convince him that she didn't need to be watched all the time, that she wasn't going to cause any problems aboard, if he acted as if she didn't exist ?
Standing in front of the helm of the Jolly Roger, he overlook the deck and his men. From this height, the captain had an excellent view over the crew and could easily inspect the work done. He gazed over the pirates working here and there... And his look irresistibly landed over her.
The young Jane looked absored by her task, which was to scrub part of the deck. Kneeling and turning her back to him, she sometimes raised to wipe off the sweat from her brow, pleated with concentration, in a raging way with the back of her hand. She kept on working so, without ever complaining, from what he had heard from Smee.
Suddenly, Hook realised he was peering at her – for a little bit too long – and he sheerly looked away. He tried his best to ignore her, but every day he couldn't help to give her some furtive glances here and there. Why was that ? She was a traitor, a filthy one who'd betray him again if she had the chance. He still couldn't believe he had told her about one of his greatest pains – the loss of his hand. She could use this against him any time, he was sure about that.
Bad move, Hook, he kept muttering to himself.
But still... He couldn't help but to be fascinated by her. To see her undertake the hardest tasks with more will than most of his men was enough to understand that she was inhabited by fire.
All of a sudden, she got up and turned to him. Hook realised – too late – that he had been looking at her again, and by pure accident, their eyes met. She looked full and straight at him, as if she could read his very thoughts. As for the captain, he couldn't read through her for sure, but he thought – for a second – he saw a gleam of... curiosity ? Enhance her pupils.
He turned his back to her at once, hoping that his own face didn't betray his thoughts. But what kind of thoughts were his ? He didn't know that himself. Maybe simple curiosity, he reflected. It is rare to see a traitor work this hard to get along with the crew unless they're up to something. I must keep an eye on her, or she'll stab me in the back faster than I would know.
Convinced to not look back at her once more, he headed to his own cabin, to focus on things much more important than a lass... but oh so much duller.