Chapter 8 – Devastation
The next day, when she woke up, it was around two o’ clock. She figured it must have been lack of food that had caused her to sleep in so late. She was thankful to find the whole crew there, sleeping as well. She stretched, yawned, rubbed her eyes, and stood up, getting dressed as warmly as she could – she could hear rain pounding outside. She put on some rain-boots and went outside. There was a distant thudding noise, but it didn’t bother her. As far as she could tell, she was the only one up. She walked across the deck to the door to Hook’s Quarters. Though when she opened it, Hook was not inside.
“Captain?” she called. No answer. She shrugged and closed the door. She looked across the deck. She walked around the deck a bit, trying not to slip. The rain was pouring harder than she had thought, but there was no sign of a storm coming. She listened closely for any sign of her captain, but there was nothing. She yawned again and walked down the ramp to the docks. Only to find the source of the thudding noise. It was Hook. He was hammering new boards into the place where he had accidentally scuffed the side when Ashanti had kissed him. He was absolutely drenched, and didn’t notice her standing there until she spoke up. “Captain?” she called over the rain. He looked up at her.
“Oh! Ahoy there, love,” he said, blinking the rain off of his eyelashes. She walked over to him, hugging herself.
“What are you doing out here?” she asked.
“Fixing the ship,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
“We have to fix it up before we leave,” he said.
“But it’s pouring rain!” she said, “You’re soaked!”
“I don’t care, love, I’ve been soaked before,” he said, looking determinedly at the ship he was hammering on.
“Do you even know what you’re doing?” she asked.
“Not really, but I think hammering these in should be good enough for now,” he said.
“But couldn’t you wait until tomorrow?” she asked.
“Why are you asking me all of these questions?” he asked.
She stared at him, water pressing her silver hair to her pretty face. “Because I’m worried about you. You’ve been pushing yourself a lot lately. You’re going to pass out soon.”
“Already did, love. It wasn’t that bad,” he said, accidentally hammering the tip of his hook sideways. “Ah, crap,” he grumbled. He looked at her. She tipped her head a bit and drew her eyebrows together worriedly. “Alright, love, what will it take to get you to leave me be?”
“I’m not going to,” she told him. She walked around to his other side and sat down Indian style. “You can keep working, but if you catch Pneumonia, I’m going to catch it with you.”
He watched her, then shrugged and went back to working. “Fine by me,” he said.
She sat there with him until he was done working. He stood up and helped her up. They looked around, realizing for the first time that no one was out.
“Let’s go see that, croc, love,” he said. They began making their way down the muddy paths towards the lake. From what they could tell, the croc had disappeared beneath the water. The gun was no where to be found, and Hook couldn’t tell if it had just sunk, or if someone had come and taken it back to the shop. Hook tossed a rock into the water. It bounced straight back up and into the wall farthest from them, indicating that either the pool was very shallow, or it had bounced off of the croc. “Rest in pieces, beastie!” he yelled. She watched him.
“Did you really hate him that much?” she asked. He gritted his teeth.
“More than you know,” he said, “Why do you think I was so terrified about him hurting you? If you’ve forgotten, it was him who Peter threw my hand to.”
“I haven’t,” she said, her eyes hard.
“Good,” he said. He walked past her, his clothes clinging to his body. She stared at him.
“What’s wrong with you right now?” she asked. He turned around.
“People do funny things when they’re in – love, look at that!” he cried, and walked over to a small building. “This bar is open!” He walked inside without waiting for her to say anything. She followed him.
“Like you need any more alcohol. You’re acting completely wasted right now!” she said. He sat down and ordered two drinks. Whether they were both for him, or one was for her, Ashanti would never know. She sat down on a barstool beside him and lounged around.
“Love, I’ve been on a serious rum withdrawal lately, seeing as how we used the last of ours when we were all dying of thirst,” Hook said, slouching over and picking up the mug. He put it to his lips and chugged.
Ashanti stared at him.
He slammed the mug on the counter and sighed. “Ah, rum is good,” he murmured.
“You know that I’m leaving in a minute, right?” she asked.
He stared at her as though he just met her. “What? You’re leaving? Why?”
“Because you’re being a pig!” she yelled. She strode away, slamming the doors behind her.
Of course, being the pushover Hook was right now (Not to mention he was curious about why she was so angry), he followed her. “No, Ashanti! Wait a second! Come back here and enjoy some rum with me!” he demanded over the pounding rain. She whipped around.
“You can’t make me do anything!” she yelled.
He watched her closely. “Sorry, love,” he said at length. She strode over to him.
“What is wrong with you? You’ve been acting really immature ever since you killed the croc,” she said.
“Aye,” he said, “I’ve realized that. But you don’t know how much torture he’d been inflicting on me!”
“You’re right. I don’t. But it’s all in the past, right?” she asked, “I want you to go back to the Hook you used to be.”
“What? The tormented soul who spent hours every day sitting in a corner, yearning for death but unable to get it because he’s so cowardly he can’t even gut himself?” he asked.
“No!” she cried, “This Hook, right here, who can have a conversation without being immature!”
He blinked a few times, then licked his lips. “Ashanti,” he said gently, setting his hand and his hook on her shoulders. He moved a bit closer, so she had to look up to see him. He stood silent for a few moments. Behind him she could see large splashes of water as rain plummeted into the lake where the croc was. Little mini-streams of water, overflowing from the beast’s grave, dribbled down the sloped path, eventually ending in the ocean. Ashanti could hear some people laughing in a building somewhere around them. “You weren’t joking when you told me you loved me… were you?” he asked finally. The rain hadn’t let up in the slightest, but they were close enough that she could hear him.
“… No…” she said, shaking her head slightly, “… Why?”
“Nobody…” He paused, never taking his eyes off of her. He shifted around a bit.
“… Nobody has ever loved me. No children, no adults, no one in between. Everyone’ s been afraid of me.”
“But I’m not,” she said.
“You were,” he said. She twitched. She didn’t want that statement to be true, but it was. She sighed.
“But I’m not, anymore.”
“Do you get the point?” he asked, narrowing his eyes and shaking her back and forth softly. She gazed into his eyes, searching for whatever it was he wanted her to find. “Why am I so frightening to people?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “I’m not one of those people.”
He gave her a small smile. “Thank goodness for that,” he said gently. Just seeing him smile made her want to smile. But his smile quickly vanished, as did her urges. “But before you, who did I have to love? And who was going to love me in return?”
“What about that sultana girl you were telling me about?” she asked.
“She had to go back to Greece long ago, so she isn’t on Neverland, is she?” he asked.
“As far as I know, no…” she said.
“Than you get my point,” he said. She nodded slightly. They said nothing for a moment.
“So there is some love in that blackened heart of yours, huh?” she asked. He stared at her, shivering in the cold. She gave him a comforting laugh and put her arms around his shoulders, pulling him close. His fingertips found the back of her neck, as he rested his head on her shoulder. He had never been so thankful for someone’s arms. Not even his mother’s, though he couldn’t remember her embrace. He guessed it must have been something like this.
She could feel him sobbing against her, but he did his best to keep it quiet. She didn’t mind either way, and began stroking the back of his head, urging the tears out of him. With every comforting gesture she gave him, she could hear him getting louder and louder, even if he was trying to keep the tears back. She squeezed him closer, as did he to her, closing his eyes tightly and crying on her. And that’s the way she stayed for as long as need be. As long as he needed to cry. She didn’t make any efforts at hushing him. She knew that would do no good. He needed to cry right now. And he needed her with him right now. All she did was tell him that it was okay to cry.
He finally pushed himself away. It was hard to tell the difference between his tears and the rain, though every now and then she would catch an obvious difference. His eyes were framed in pink, and swollen.
“Why are you doing this to me?” he asked, his voice terribly unsteady.
“Doing what?” she asked, concerned.
“Your comfort is just making this worse,” he said, “It’s just making me cry harder.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” she asked, releasing him for a moment to push some hair away from her face.
“I can’t look pathetic in front of you,” he sobbed, “I’m your captain, for goodness’ sake.”
“Pathetic?” she asked, setting her hands on his face. She stared straight into his heartbroken eyes. “It doesn’t make any difference to me whether you’re the toughest man alive or the most tenderhearted. You’re mine.”
He tried his hardest not to, but her innocence and her feelings for him and her willingness to stand there and let him cry on her… it was all too overwhelming. His confident features distorted once again to a broken man. She pulled him again into her arms, the rain still pummeling them.
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed, his voice hoarse. She stared into space, leaning her head against his neck.
“Sorry?” she asked, “For what?”
“For any pain I’ve put you through, I’m sorry we argue so much, I’m sorry I’m so stubborn, I’m sorry for everything, love,” he said loudly.
“Oh… No, don’t apologize,” she said, “Bickering, I thought, was a part of any pirate’s life.”
“Not the bickers we have,” he mumbled. She squeezed him closer.
“Well, either way, you don’t have to apologize,” she said.
“Yes, I do,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” he said. She blinked against the rain hitting her eyes, then pushed him away.
“Apology accepted,” was all she could say at the moment. He gave her a smile as she wiped the tears from his face. He pushed some of the hair away from her eyes, leaning forward towards her. She leaned forward as well, knowing exactly what was coming. Their lips gently met, lingered for a few moments, then Hook pulled away. His eyes glistened with fresh tears. She stroked his face.
“Don’t be so intimate, love,” he said after a moment of enjoying it. She gave him a gentle laugh, but said nothing. He smiled and closed his eyes. She grabbed his arm and pulled him in the direction of the ship. Once they were at an agreeable pace, she linked arms with him so he could lean against her and continue crying if he wanted. It was depressing to see him like this, but at the same time she could tell it was relieving him of some kind of stress. He gave a large sigh and looked around. It felt as though the rain was letting up, but no one could be sure of that. The sea was spraying around violently, though not as bad as in a storm.
They walked up onto the ship and Ashanti led him to the captain’s quarters, both of them still sopping wet. He took off most of his extra clothes and dropped them on the floor, including his shirt. He took off his boots, which were full of water, and put them on the floor, and his socks. He grabbed his hair and twisted it around his wrist. Water dripped everywhere, but mostly onto the rug. Ashanti just watched. With his shirt off, she could now see complicated system of leather straps and buckles that kept his hook connected. He was undoing it all. It fell to the ground with a thud next to his clothes, revealing the hand that wasn’t there. Ashanti gasped. He leaned forward to organize some of his clothes, and she ran over to him and grabbed him from behind, embracing him. He scoffed and stood up straight, turning to look at her.
“You’re still wet,” he informed.
“So are you,” she said, closing her eyes tightly. He smirked a bit.
“I’m sorry, love, for spoiling those innocent eyes of yours,” he said. She scoffed.
“It’s only your shirt,” she said. He cocked his head and gave a slight shrug.
“I’m going to sleep, seeing as how the weather is so depressing right now and there’s very little we can do,” he said, “Good night, love.” He turned her around and gently pushed her towards the door. Right as she was about to turn around she heard the sound of a zipper. She blushed horribly.
“Good night,” she mumbled, and left the room, closing the door behind her. She sighed. Somehow, she knew the next few days were going to be awkward.
The weather was much less depressing the next day. The sun was shining through a blue sky, and snow white clouds speckled the sky. The town was again bustling with people, and Ashanti could go outside without fear of getting drenched.
She managed to wake up early the next morning, and when she did she found that the rest of the crew had gone out. She went outside and saw Hook working with his crew, swabbing the deck.
“Ah, love, you’re awake!” Hook said, leaning on his mop. Ashanti looked around, squinting in the sunlight. Suddenly she realized that everyone was wearing a hat. She would have, if she had one. She walked over to Hook and squinted at him. Though it was blindingly sunny, it wasn’t hot. It was actually rather nice.
“You’re working?” she asked.
“Well, yes,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
“Why is it so strange for me to be working on anything?” he asked, referring to her when he was working on the ship.
“Well, maybe the fact that you’re the captain,” she said.
“So?” he asked, “I like working.”
“I just didn’t think that captains did any work,” she said.
“Are you calling me lazy, love?” he asked. She didn’t know if he was being sarcastic or not.
“No, but… Just give me a mop,” she said. He handed her his.
“You can have this one. Captains aren’t supposed to do any work, anyway,” he mocked, shrugging.
“Shut up,” she said, pushing the mop back into his hand, “I’ll go find my own.”
He scoffed. “You want to do work?” he asked.
“Shut up!” she cried. She went below deck and brought up her own mop, deciding to try and annoy him by sharing his bucket.
“So, here’s the plan, love,” he said.
“Oh, you’re making plans now?” she asked.
“Aye, it’s what a captain does,” he said, giving her a smirk.
“Funny. Last I heard, a captain does work around the ship.” She returned his simper.
He just narrowed his eyes, still smiling. “I do that, too,” he said.
She rolled her eyes, rather annoyed by his smart-aleck remarks.
“Anyway,” he said, “Once we’re done swabbing the decks, me and the crew are going to gather food for our voyage. We’re setting sail tomorrow.”
She paused. “‘Me and the crew’?” she asked, “You make it sound like you’re going to leave me here on the ship.”
“I am, love,” he said.
“What?” she asked, “Why?”
“Because it’s bright outside and you don’t have a hat,” he said.
“I’ll borrow one of yours,” she said.
“This is the only one I have,” he said, gesturing to the one he was wearing. She groaned.
“Well, just because it’s bright out here is a stupid reason to keep me cooped up,” she said.
“But I have something for you to do,” he said. She gazed blankly at him.
“And that would be?” she asked.
“All in good time, love,” he said. She hated it when he said that.
Once they were done swabbing the decks, Hook brought Ashanti into his bedroom and sat her down at the table. One of the maps was spread across the table.
“You look at the map and find places likely to hold uncharted islands,” he said.
“That’s it?” she asked, incensed, “That’s all? That’s all you want me to do?”
“Well, that and guard the ship,” he said. Without waiting for any more comments, he walked away. “See you later, love,” he said. She groaned and rested her head on the table.
Charting out their course was a very dull job, and she couldn’t get her mind off of how badly she wanted to go outside. After circling a few random spots on the map, she went over to Hook’s bed and collapsed, staring out the small window to the docks. Before she knew it, she was asleep.
Suddenly there was a thumping noise of feet on the deck. She roused quickly and looked around, waiting for Hook to come into the room and greet her. But he never did. Instead she heard a gruff voice shouting orders to the many feet.
“Search the ship!” She stared in horror at the door, then at the window. She didn’t know who was out there, but she knew it wasn’t Hook. She made for the window, but it was too high. Suddenly the door opened. She clung to the wall and looked back. A dirty old man smirked at her.
“‘Ello, lassie,” he said, and closed the door. “Captain, we’ve got a woman on board! What do we do?”
“Lock her in. She’ll be blown up with the rest of the ship,” said the captain. Ashanti stared. She could hear the sound of them somehow latching the door closed. She immediately ran over and grabbed Hook’s scarf, shoved it in her pocket, and then ran back over to the bed. She pushed it over under the window and stood on top of it. Now she could reach the window, but she couldn’t get through. The glass was too thick. She searched around the room for something to smash the window with. She finally settled on a candlestick, which she jabbed into the glass as hard as she could. A crack appeared. She flung it again. The crack grew larger. She flung it again. Finally the window shattered. The pirates were running for it off the dock. She climbed up onto the window, desperate to get out.
Hook was walking leisurely around town with his crew, carrying bags of food that wouldn’t easily spoil. They were headed back towards the ship, and failed to notice that enemy pirates had just evacuated.
“I ‘ope when we set out tomorrow, ‘verything’ll go smoothly,” said one of Hook’s crew.
“Aye,” the captain said, “We can only hope.” Suddenly there was a loud and huge explosion. Hook’s eyes widened. “Holy seagulls, what was that?” he cried, not noticing that it was his ship that had just exploded. People who were walking ducked down, or ran in the direction of the ship. People who had been near the giant explosion went flying. “Come on, men! Let’s go!” He took off running, his crew close behind. He stopped in front of it, scanning the docks and ducking under the smoke. “Where’s our ship?” he asked. He looked at the huge pillar of smoke and fire, and the blood spattered across the dock. “Oh, my gosh, that was our ship!” He dropped the bags of food and ran over to where the boarding ramp should have been. The whole deck was gone, revealing the innards of their tiny ship. Water would sink it in no time. He looked around. “Ashanti!” he yelled. No answer. “Ashanti! Are you there?” He looked around. The blood across the dock continued all the way across, and was splattered on the hull of the ship next to them. Hook stared into the water. His beaten, bloodstained purple scarf was floating idly on the surface.
Terrified, he dived into the water, paddling through the cloud of blood for Ashanti. She appeared dead, sinking to the bottom. He paddled to the surface, took a large breath, and went back down. Fish were beginning to examine her. Hook swatted them away as he paddled towards her. But she just seemed to be getting farther and farther away. He paddled harder and harder, until he was close enough to pull her up by the hair. He resisted the urge to just hug her and paddled towards the surface again, his lungs burning. As soon as he broke the surface he took in as much air as he could.
“Smee!” he yelled. Smee and a few others in his crew ran over.
“Cap’n!” said Smee. Hook grabbed his scarf and pushed her up towards them. They grabbed her by the arms and pulled her away. The others assisted Hook in getting back up. He ran down the dock and then ordered her to be laid on the ground. He did the same thing he did when he had pulled her onto the Jolly Roger – shoving her chest, willing her to live. Her skin was charred and bloody, and parts of her clothes were melted to her skin. She didn’t move.
“Ashanti!” he said, “Breathe for me. Please.” Still she didn’t move. “Please.” He continued to push on her chest, trying to get her to spit up the water. “Breathe for me!” he yelled, desperate now. She made strange choking noises, but ceased to breathe. He continued with his procedure, even if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. She rolled over and coughed up a mixture of water and blood, then went back to an unconscious state. “Love, you breathed for me before, breathe for me now, dang it!” he screamed, tears shimmering in his eyes. “I’m not giving up on you… until you breathe…” She began gasping, and Hook suddenly wondered if he was doing the right thing or not. Was he just letting her suffer, or did she really have a chance?
She suddenly began making noises. Strange ones, like a cross between a choke and a moan and a scream. He continued, hopelessness settling on his shoulders like a bag of bricks. Suddenly she gagged, and then spit up quite a lot of water – more than Hook thought a person was possible of holding in their lungs. He rolled her over, and she continued choking it up, until she was finally heaving and gasping for air. Hook rolled her over once more onto her back. Her eyes were shut tightly, and she didn’t move except for her heavy breathing. Hook bit back the urge to pull her close while he waited impatiently for the paramedics to arrive.
Finally they did, and carefully piled Ashanti onto the stretcher. Hook stood up.
“Do everything you can to make her better. I’ll pay you everything I have,” he said quickly to the medics. It seemed to him that they were ignoring him, but he couldn’t be sure. They took off running in the direction of the hospital, and Hook watched, breathing heavily. He sighed and shook his head, watching until they faded out of sight. The crowd that had gathered around suddenly noticed that there was a ship burning on the water, and ran to get help. Hook turned to Smee.
“Time to find another ship,” he said dejectedly. Smee nodded sympathetically, and they began traveling up the road.