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A Change of Duties

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:14 am

The door clicked shut behind him, but he didn't even register the small sound. And then he found himself being held, the unfamiliarity of being cuddled strange, but soothing somehow despite the strangeness of it.

He let the cat go and turned to bury himself in the coat of whoever it was who was holding him. He didn't know whether it was his imagination or who it could be, or why anyone would even bother with him. He just accepted it, and gradually the flow of tears slowed and he became more aware of his surroundings, although he didn't dare look up to see who was holding him.

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Terry Button
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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:29 am

The boy turned and buried his head in the lieutenant's coat, and Leat wondered who Button imagined must be holding him. But the held the boy, waiting as the tears dried up and the shaking stopped, wondering quite what he would do next. Button was most likely to try and bolt when he realised just who he had been sobbing over, but that would not do. He needed to talk to Button, and to do that he must be careful as to exactly what he said or did, else he would hide behind the wall of Lower deck silence and never be able to speak to him again.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:39 am

He finally managed to get himself under control and raised his head, to find that he had been crying all over Mister Leat! He didn't dare contemplate what on earth the officer must be thinking, or what he was going to do to him.

He'd certainly never want to set eyes on him ever again, that was for sure.

He had to get away while he still could... He'd certainly never be able to show his face above deck again, not for ages. He tried to scramble up, his thoughts in a horrified whirl of confusion.


Last edited by Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:28 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:51 am

Wide-eyed horror and a frantic scrabbling on Button's part told Leat he'd been right in supposing the boy's reactions, and simply held him firmly until he decided to calm down.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:53 am

Shit! Why wouldn't the officer let him go?! He didn't dare keep struggling in case he managed to hit the officer somehow, and that would lead to awful, awful trouble.

He settled down, though his heart was pounding, and if the officer wanted him gone, he wouldn't have to say it twice.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:04 am

Button stopped struggled, but Leat knew that at any given moment he might decide to bolt like a hare. Fishing in his pocket he produced his wiper and handed it to Button.

"here," he said, not unkindly. "Dry your eyes and blow your nose on that."

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:08 am

A piece of white cloth dangled in front of him and he blinked at it several times before the officer's words sank in. He took it, gingerly, and scrubbed at his face, still feeling half-terrified of what the officer thought of him and what he was going to say, or do.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:13 am

"And when you've done that you can take a seat on the chest over there," Leat continued, and thought to make a joke of it. "The deck isn't the best of seats, even though it is so clean now."

And damp. He probably had a wet patch on his coat tails.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:17 am

The officer didn't even need to finish the order before Terry scrambled to his feet. Belatedly his brain took in the rest of the order and he perched nervously on the edge of the indicated sea-chest, clutching the damp handkerchief in his hands. He kept his eyes fixed on his bare feet and wished he dared roll his trouser-legs down again.

He didn't think the officer sounded angry, though he couldn't be sure that he wasn't.

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Terry Button
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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:46 am

Clearly Button was not in a frame of mind to appreciate the civility, so Leat got up from the floor (successfully repressing another sigh), removed his coat and hung it over the back of his chair and opening the door called for Markham to fetch a basin of hot water.

"Wash your face with that," he said, handing Button a cloth after the water had arrived and he had shut the door in the inquisitive Markham's face - but not before he had demanded a mug of cocoa from him as quickly as possible.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:49 am

Terry sent the officer a quick sidelong glance as he opened the door before returning his gaze to his own bare legs, praying silently as hard as he knew how that the officer wasn't going to be too angry with him for behaving like a baby.

He didn't sound angry, but you could never tell...

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:37 am

The boy had not moved, despite being handed the cloth.

"It's alright," Leat said. "Just wipe your face over. You'll feel better for it."

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:43 am

Terry bit his lip and accepted the cloth, wiping his face with it. He couldn't help giving a small squeak of surprise when he found that the water was warm - he'd only had time to splash his face with sea-water before coming aft. He glanced up at Mister Leat, hoping that the officer wouldn't be too severe with him, despite everything.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:33 am

Leat hid his smile at Button's surprise at the water being warm and fresh. The poor lad was probably using sea water, even though they were still close enough to land to be using fresh...

A tap at the door announced Markham's return with the cocoa, and Leat accepted it before shutting the door in the steward's face again. On some level it was fun to be getting this small revenge on the steward.

"Have a sip of this," he said, holding the mug out to Button. "It's a bit hot mind, so drink it slowly or else you'll scald yourself."

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:36 am

He looked up in surprise as the Lieutenant held a mug out. It was steaming, so whatever was in it was hot. He put the wash-cloth down and took it gingerly, hoping desperately that he wouldn't do something stupid and spill it all over his best shirt.

He took a sip and looked up, startled at the sweet taste.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:39 am

Leat could not help it; he smiled, amused by Button's astonished expression.

"Have you never had cocoa before?" he queried.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:44 am

He shook his head, careful to keep from slopping the liquid in the mug. "N... no, sir. Some-" He broke off, and looked down again, chewing his lip nervously, and flushing with embarrassment. It wasn't a good idea, ever, to say something to an officer that wasn't an answer to a direct question. The last time he'd done that, he'd got a scolding, even though he hadn't meant to say anything then, either.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:06 am

The boy had been about to divulge something voluntarily, but had realised and shut himself up. Leat, however, was curious; and if the lieutenant was going to make any peace with Button the lieutenant would need his trust.

"Go on," he prompted gently. "You were about to say something?"


Last edited by Edward Leat on Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:37 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:23 am

He dared a quick glance up. The Lieutenant didn't seem to be angry, which was strange enough, after everything that Terry had done wrong. He even sounded, well, maybe friendly wasn't the right word, but he couldn't think of a better one.

"S...some of the men l... like it, s... sir," he managed, still nervous that he was going to be snapped at, or glared at again for daring to speak out of turn.

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Terry Button
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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:40 am

A small smile quirked at the corners of Leat's mouth.

"Do you like it, do you think, Button?"

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:50 am

He tasted it again, cautiously. He was being asked for his opinion - that had never happened before, never. Even with the sailors, nobody cared what he thought, not really - he was only a boy, after all.

"Y... yes, sir, I f...fink so," he dared, still nervous but no longer quite as scared as he had been earlier. He couldn't completely relax, though - he knew what a dragon Mister Leat could be if roused, and he didn't know what he might do or say that would anger him again.

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:04 am

Leat's smile became somewhat more defined.

"Good," he said.

Getting up from his seat the lieutenant picked up Emily from his cot, then sat back down with her in his lap, where she settled under his hand, purring contentedly.

"You came aboard from the Marine Society, did you not, Button?" he queried. Leat remembered the day well enough; Button and little Jacky Fisher brought to their allocated ship by a toadying foreman, wide-eyed, skinny and clutching their few belongings nervously. Button was still terribly skinny, though there was a little more flesh on those bones. "You did not like it there, did you?"

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:13 am

He followed the Lieutenant's movements, more out of habit than anything. After all, if you knew where someone was, it wouldn't come as a surprise when they hit you.

"Y... yes, sir," he said, his gaze locked on the contented grey cat purring in the officer's lap. He frowned and looked down with a shrug. "Was all right, sir. Better'n the Foundlin' 'ome, at any rate."

And why in the world was the officer talking to him like this? It didn't seem at all natural. And he'd gone and cried all over him, too. He bit his lip, trying to remember what he'd said to the cat, and wondering how much of it the officer had heard. He hoped he hadn't said too much, or said the wrong thing. And... he hadn't even finished scrubbing the floor, had he?


Last edited by Terry Button on Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:39 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:22 am

Leat nodded, absently stroking the cat.

"It is difficult," he said, his thoughts jumping on a stage further. "Coming aboard a ship for the first time - and frightening. No one finds its easy. It becomes easier, though, and then before too long it is hard to imagine any other sort of life."

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Re: A Change of Duties

Post  Terry Button on Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:29 am

He wanted to wrap his hands around the mug he was holding, but the tin was too hot for that. He also wanted to roll his trouser-legs down and take the pail of water and get the hell out of here... but that wasn't going to happen any time soon, was it?

He nodded, then shrugged, unsure what response Mister Leat wanted.

It wasn't the ship itself, or the sailors, that he found frightening. It just seemed to him that every time he was around an officer - any officer - he always screwed up somehow. Even that day when he'd spoken with the Captain, he'd managed to drop his hat on the floor, and the Captain himself had picked it up and given it back. He flushed even pinker at the memory.

How in the world could things ever get easier?

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