[personal profile] vicki595



~*~


Diana is in the middle of her first lesson with Mrs. Burke and Caroline when Penny interrupts to tell them that they're coming up on Philadelphia, and if Mrs. Burke doesn't mind, she'd like Diana to come and watch them bring the ship in. Diana is bouncing in her seat, and Mrs. Burke just waves her away, and she follows Penny up through the ship.

With Whalen in the brig, Sue steps forward to take the helm to guide the Storm into the harbor. Penny explains to Diana that it had been Sue's original position when she first joined the ship, and she is still one of the best Penny has seen.

Penny steers Diana to one side, away from the other crew members scurrying around the deck, but still close enough that she can see the wheel, and gives her the most redundant order ever.

"Just stay here and watch Sue," she says.

Diana has to hold back a grin. It's not exactly something she has to be told to do, and she's surprised Penny hasn't already noticed where Diana's eyes always end up.

Sue, she sees, is absorbed in her task. Diana feels the movement as the ship cuts through the harbor, but it's almost as if Sue can tell what the swell of the waves will be before they actually happen.

Orders are being yelled out around her; words and phrases that are still unfamiliar to Diana after her initial brief experience onboard. She's sure Penny will soon be explaining the terms and actions to her, as long as Sue agrees to let her stay on the ship.

Nothing more had been said about her attempt to proposition her captain, and Diana can only hope that Sue has decided to ignore it and won't factor it in to her decision as to whether or not Diana can become a member of the crew. And then maybe she'll be able to find a way to get to really know Sue and prove to her that Diana has really fallen in love with her. She has to hide a smile at that thought, concentrating instead on tracing every curve of Sue's body in front of her. Sue's shirt is sleeveless, and Diana's eyes linger at the lines of the muscles in her arms, glistening and straining as Sue carefully turns the wheel. Diana can only begin to imagine what it would be like to be cradled in those arms; to have them wrapped around her, pressing their bodies together...

She's still staring at Sue as the Storm comes to gently rest alongside a sturdy wooden dock, and finally Sue relaxes at the wheel. Sue glances across, seemingly noticing Diana for the first time and flashes her a quick smile.

"Welcome to Philadelphia," she says.

Philadelphia is bigger than Diana could ever have imagined. Penny takes her firmly by the arm as she leads her through the streets, even as Diana trips over her own feet as she tries to take everything in at once. She's never seen so many people bustling around all at once and it strikes her just how sheltered her life has been.

Penny makes a sharp turn, pulling Diana down into a narrow side street.

"Are you sure you know where we're going?" Diana demands.

Penny just scoffs. "Of course I'm sure," she says, illustrating her point as she pushes open the door to a small shop. "We're here."

Here is a small room with rolls of fabric against the back wall. A half finished dress sits on a mannequin in the middle of the floor, pins glistening as they catch the light of a single lantern resting on the counter. A woman stands behind the counter, her dark head bowed over a book, but she looks up as the door falls shut behind them and smiles.

"Why, Miss Penny, how nice to see you again," she says, putting down her pen. "I see you're keeping new company nowadays."

"Good afternoon, Swin," replies Penny, returning the smile. "We picked up a stowaway after our last stop, and Sue's trying to figure out what to do with her. She was wondering if perhaps you were needing any help."

"Well, I do find myself pretty busy at times," Swin admits, moving out from behind the counter. She is momentarily distracted, grabbing at Penny's sleeve. "What have you been doing to this?" she demands.

Penny tugs her sleeve back, a slight flush on her pale skin. "Never mind," she says quickly. "If you have the time while we're in port, I'll send it along for your tender ministrations."

"I always have time for my one of my best patrons," says Swin, still smiling. "Especially if she's finding help for me."

"Oh, yes," says Penny, pushing Diana forward. "This is our stowaway, Diana. Sue put me in charge of her for some reason, so I'm showing her around the city today and seeing if there's a place onshore for her. And I figured that even if she doesn't end up working for you, you're certainly a person she would do well to know."

"Hello," says Diana, a little nervously. Despite her smiles, Swin seems rather intense.

"So tell me about yourself, Diana," says Swin. "Do you have any experience as a seamstress, or dressmaker?"

"No, I don't," replies Diana. "I can sew. I did help my mother make and mend our clothes back home. But I want to stay onboard the Storm." The last was said with a pointed sideways glance at Penny.

"She says that even after being under my thumb for the past few days," Penny remarks casually. "Sue has yet to make a decision if she wants to keep her onboard."

"Aw, now I'm sure you're not all that bad," says Swin. "Although speaking of Sue, I'm surprised not to see her here with you."

"She'll be along later. She had something to sort out at the docks," Penny explains. "I was meant to pass that message on."

"Well, then I guess I'll be able to tell her herself when she comes," says Swin. "If she doesn't want this young lady here, I'll be willing to help Sue out and take Diana on as an assistant. It's the least I can do after everything she's done for me."

"But..." begins Diana, but is immediately cut off by Penny glaring at her and falls silent.

~*~


"I don't want to stay in Philadelphia!" Diana exclaims once they have left Swin's shop. Penny had placed an order for two new dresses for herself, as well as suggesting to Diana that she should get one as well. Diana has already realized Penny's suggestions are not to be ignored, and so she had quickly nodded her agreement. "I want to join the crew."

"Trust me, Diana, if there's anyone who knows that, it's me," Penny says patiently. "But while Sue will seek my advice, and listen to what I have to say, she is the one who has the final word as to whether or not you can stay aboard. Now, we are going to be down a crew member when we leave, so that may work in your favor. But it's Sue's decision, and it's Sue you will have to convince."

"Where is she?" demands Diana. "Can I talk to her?"

"Perhaps," replies Penny, nodding her head forwards. "We're going to her brother-in-law's shop next, so she may be there still."

"What does her brother-in-law do? Why are we going there?" questions Diana, crossing her fingers that Sue would be there.

"He's a silversmith," Penny explains. "Sue said that you'd mentioned helping your father in his forge and she thought that perhaps you might like working for John, if Swin didn't want you, or your sewing abilities were not sufficient."

"She really doesn't want me onboard, does she?" says Diana sadly. "Why else would she be trying so hard to get rid of me?"

Penny stops and pulls Diana to the side of the street. "I've told you before that Sue is not your typical pirate. She's not really typical in any way really," she says. "She doesn't want you to think that joining the crew is your only real option. A life at sea isn't glamorous, it isn't easy and it's not for everyone. She wants you to realize that. It's not that she's trying to get rid of you; it's that she's trying to make sure that you choose somewhere where you truly belong. And her trying this hard is her way of caring about you. She wouldn't be doing it if she didn't like you."

"She likes me?" blurts out Diana, before coloring slightly at just how childish that sounded to her own ears.

Penny gives her an amused look, and tugs on Diana's arm to get her to start moving again. "She likes you," she says. "Do you honestly think she would have let you stay with her overnight if she didn't?"

"Well, no," replies Diana. "I'd forgotten about that." That was a complete lie, for every last detail of that night was crystal clear in her mind, although Sue's rejection was hardly an indication that she actually liked Diana. But Penny was clearly unaware of that little incident, and as far as Diana was concerned, she would continue to stay uninformed.

"There you have it," says Penny firmly. "Seriously, if she didn't like you, she'd let you do whatever you damn well pleased, and suffer for it if necessary. And also, if you do sign on and do hate it, it also gives her the ability to crow 'I told you so' at you, which she will do, trust me. I'd advise you to never bet against her. She's usually right."

"Who's usually right?"

Diana's heart leaps at the interruption, and she glances across to see Sue sling an arm across Penny's shoulders. Under the brim of her hat, Sue's dark eyes are sparkling with merriment, grinning as she matches their steps.

"You are," says Penny, returning the grin and Sue laughs.

"I thought I was always right," she says. "Isn't that a perk of being captain?"

"You're in an awfully good mood," Penny points out, neatly sidestepping the question. "Did you visit a tavern after we docked?"

"I'm not sure what vice you're suggesting I indulged in, but no, I did not," Sue replies lightly. "I am in an awfully good mood, as you put it, because our cargo turned out to be much more profitable than we originally believed. Something about a previous shipment getting caught in bad weather; they were a little hazy on the details, but what it amounts to is significantly more gold in our pockets and an empty hold. We therefore have no need to continue up to Boston, which means I get to spend more time with my sister and her family, before we load up again and sail on to Bermuda. I'm so thrilled that I finally get to meet the new baby, even though he must be a good eight months old by now."

She tightens her arm around Penny's shoulders, her smile growing even wider.

"If you ever wanted to ask her something, now would probably be a good time," says Penny dryly, glancing at Diana.

"You want to ask me something?" Sue asks. "Penny's correct; now is a good time. You probably won't see much of me until it's time to sail again."

"Can I join the crew?" Diana asks, a hint of desperation creeping into her voice. "We met with Swin, and she's nice and everything, but I don't want to be a dressmaker. And I'm sure your brother-in-law is nice as well, but I don't want to work for him either. I want to join the crew. I want to sail on the Storm."

Sue sighs, and Diana feels her heart starting to sink. Perhaps Penny was wrong and Sue really doesn't like her and doesn't want her onboard.

"You truly feel that you will be happy at sea?" Sue demands. "You understand what we will expect of you, what we'll make you do? For starters, there'll be no more bunking in with Penny – you'll be down below decks with the rest of the crew."

"I understand," Diana blurts. "I don't care where I sleep or who I sleep with."

"You might want to care about that second one," Penny murmurs and Sue snorts with laughter. Diana flushes bright crimson.

"That's not what I meant," she mutters embarrassedly.

"I know," says Penny. "But you'll have to put up with teasing like that if you join the crew."

"When she joins the crew," says Sue quietly.

Diana stops dead in the middle of the street, ignoring the man who bumps into her, swearing at her sudden stop. "Really?" she exclaims. "You're saying yes?"

"I am saying yes," Sue confirms, steering Diana out of the way of an oncoming ox and cart. "I'll draw up the relevant papers and you can sign them the day we sail. That will give you a couple of days to change your mind."

"I won't change my mind," Diana exclaims. Doesn't Sue understand this offer is what she has been longing for? She goes to throw her arms around Sue, but stops herself. She knows smiling like a fool, but can't seem to bring herself to care. "Thank you so much. I won't let you down, I promise."

Sue has pulled out a small leather pouch and counts out a handful of coin, which she passes on to Penny. "One last imposition on you, if you'll let me," she says. "Make sure she gets everything she needs. Oh." She adds more coin. "That should cover the cost of that dress of yours she borrowed that first day." She turns back to Diana. "I'm advancing you your share from our next trip," she explains. "I'll add that to the articles you'll be signing, and I'll go over it in more detail when you sign them."

Diana just nods. Sue could tell her anything right now and she would agree to it. She was going to be a pirate!

~*~



Despite the warnings, Diana finds nothing much changes now she is officially a member of the crew. She still spends most of her days doing what Penny tells her, although every morning finds her joining Caroline for lessons with Mrs. Burke. The ship's articles she had signed had included a stipulation that she would learn how to read and write, or at least, that was what Sue had told her. She had read the whole thing to Diana, who couldn't really recall most of the details of what she had signed; instead focusing her attention on the soothing sound of Sue's voice and the way her tongue would dart out every so often to moisten her lips. Diana would much rather not learn how to read if it meant that Sue would read everything aloud for her instead, but she doesn't voice that particular preference.

Even bunking down with the rest of the crew isn't as horrific as she had been lead to believe. Big Syl helps her string up her hammock, and doesn't laugh at her the first night when she tangles herself up in it and half falls out.

She doesn't see much of Sue for most of the trip; Penny keeps her busy, and if not Penny, then Shea or Mrs. Burke always seem to manage to find her with a new task for her to complete. She catches glimpses of the captain across the galley, watching in envy as Caroline abandons her books to skip over and launch herself at Sue, and treasures a brief moment when she is rigging the staysail and Sue glances at her work, smiles and says, "Good job."

The night before they are due to arrive in Bermuda, Diana is assigned to her first night watch. After dinner, she makes her way to the stern of the ship and settles down for the long night. The last thing she remembers is trying to count the stars before she's woken by someone nudging at her. She startles, horrified that she's fallen asleep on duty and even more horrified when she realizes the person nudging her awake is none other than the captain herself.

Diana is convinced she's blown it, and starts to babble out her apologies, swearing that she'll never do such a thing again. Sue just laughs softly, placing one hand on Diana's shoulder as she lowers herself to sit down on the deck next to her.

"We've all done it before," Sue says, patting Diana's shoulder. "That's why there's never a single person on nightshift, just in case."

"Is that why you came to check on me?" Diana asks, trying not to act too surprised at Sue's touch. "Because you thought I'd have fallen asleep?"

"No, I couldn't sleep and I thought I'd come and see how you were doing," says Sue, and in the dim light, Diana thinks she can see Sue ducking her head slightly. It's an uncharacteristic action for Sue, and when Diana leans in closer, she is not surprised by the strong smell of rum. "See if you've changed your mind about being a pirate."

Diana shakes her head firmly. "No, not at all," she says. "I like it."

"Well, that's good to know," Sue says warmly, and Diana likes to think that Sue's smiling, but she can't see clearly in the dark. "Not that we've done any pirate-like activities yet. This tends to be a rather quiet and easy route for us, but once we sail towards the Caribbean again, I'm sure we'll find ourselves in the thick of things. Which reminds me, we need to add weapons to your training as well, although I don't know who can handle that."

"Can't Penny?" Diana asks, excitement lacing her voice. She has seen various crew members practicing with long wooden training swords, stopping to stare at their fluid movements, thrusting and parrying in a twisted dance. Penny would deftly change the subject any time Diana had tried to raise the idea of her learning, and she had been wondering if she would ever get the chance to wear a sword.

"While Penny is perfectly adequate with her sword skills, I would prefer not to burden her further with more teaching," Sue explains.

"Well, what about you? Couldn't you teach me?" Diana asks, almost hesitantly. "You're the best on the ship. Everyone says so."

"Flattery will get you nowhere," says Sue, laughing slightly, elbowing Diana gently in the ribs. "I don't exactly have an abundance of spare time myself. Perhaps in the future, if you truly show a talent with a blade, I could provide some instruction. But someone else will be showing you the basics – Shea perhaps. She was well known for her prowess with her sword before her injuries more or less confined her to the galley."

Diana vows to herself that she is going to make Sue want to teach her, no matter what it takes, and is about to tell her so when she's distracted by a flash of light in the sky and she gasps.

"Did you see that?" she demands, turning to Sue.

"See what?" Sue asks, sitting up straight, instantly alert.

"There was a streak of light. In the sky," says Diana, staring upwards. She can feel Sue relax next to her; her body warm and solid against Diana's and suddenly Diana doesn't care about the sky anymore.

"It was most likely a falling star," says Sue. "Make a wish."

"Wha'?" Diana is confused.

"You're supposed to wish whenever you see a falling star," Sue explains.

"Oh. I wish..."

"No! You can't tell me what you wish for, else it won't come true!" Sue exclaims, her voice merry as she nudges at Diana.

Diana turns to stare at Sue. She's close enough that Diana can see the expectant look on her face, even in the dim light.

"Can the wish be about someone else?" she asks.

Sue shrugs. "Sure, I don't see why not," she says easily. "I don't think there are many rules about what you can wish for."

Diana just smiles.

~*~



Sue is the first ashore as the dingy pulls alongside the pier in St. George, taking her leave even before Seimone has tossed the rope over the mooring post. She had been quiet during the short trip from ship to shore, merely nodding her greetings to the others present and not saying anything to Diana about their encounter the previous night. Diana scrambles off the boat as soon as it's secure, holding a hand out for Penny, who is dressed in skirts for trading.

"You know, I don't really need all this help for what I have planned today," Penny says, readjusting her hat. "Why don't you take the opportunity to have some time to yourself and see the town? Bermuda's beautiful and there's really no other place quite like it. We're frequent visitors, thanks to Sue's connections, so if you are to stay with us, you'll do well to find your way around."

"Really?" Diana asks eagerly. She doesn't remember the last time she has truly been alone and with no responsibilities.

Penny waves her away. "Really," she says. "Just be back here by the time dusk falls, else you'll have to find somewhere else to bunk tonight. And while I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem for you, I repeat, we're frequent visitors, so please behave yourself."

Diana nods eagerly, before darting down the pier and into the streets of St. George. Nobody gives her a second glance as she melts into the crowd, smiling and nodding at total strangers. She is free to do what she wants for the first time she can remember, and she has to laugh out loud in delight, drawing a few curious looks from passer-bys. She just smiles at them, tipping her hat to the ladies. One smiles back, coyly batting her eyelashes, and Diana's smile grows wider before she is distracted by a familiar figure up ahead. Diana has stared at Sue enough that she can easily spot her in a crowd, and she quickly loses interest in the other girl as she moves to follow Sue.

The previous night had been the first time she had been alone with Sue since her disastrous attempt to offer herself as payment and the rest of that incredibly awkward night which had been forced on them. And Diana was reasonably confident that Sue had been perhaps more than a little drunk as they'd sat under the stars together, so she wasn't sure if that truly counted as spending time alone together. Diana is desperate just to spend more time with Sue again, still trying to prove to the captain that she really is in love with her.

Even if Penny hadn't told her that this was Sue's hometown, it is readily apparent to Diana as she follows Sue through back roads to a small church. Sue heads straight to the graveyard, and Diana lingers in a moment of indecision on whether or not to follow her. But hanging back has never been a part of her nature, and she strolls on into the cemetery.

"Well, fancy seeing you here." Diana is trying to act casual, and watches as Sue startles for a moment, her hand instinctively reaching for the sword at her waist. Diana takes an automatic step backwards, relaxing only when Sue does.
"I wasn't expecting to see anyone else here," says Sue, glancing back at Diana, before returning her focus to the headstone in front of her.

Diana shrugs, moving to stand next to her. "Penny said I could take some time to explore, and I found myself here," she says, conveniently leaving the part out about how she had followed Sue. She nods towards the tombstone and asks, "Friend of yours?" before wincing at the inane question; Sue would hardly be visiting the grave of a total stranger.

"My father," says Sue softly.

"Oh," says Diana succinctly. Reading is still not one of her strengths, and she silently sounds out the letters to read, 'Here lies Harold Bird, Governor of Bermuda.' "Your father was the Governor?" she blurts.

Sue just nods slowly.

"But that makes you the governor's daughter!" Diana exclaims redundantly.

"That is usually how these things work," replies Sue, slightly bemused as she glances across at Diana.

Diana shakes her head, trying to clear her thoughts. "It's just that I didn't think governor's daughters grew up to be pirate captains," she says.

Sue laughs softly. "Well, they don't usually," she points out. "I didn't plan on being a pirate captain when I was growing up. It's just how my life went."

Diana is still trying to reconcile this new information about Sue's background with everything else she knows about Sue's history. "But what about your fencing training? And learning how to sail?" she demands. "Those surely aren't subjects considered suitable for a governor's daughter."

Sue turns back to the headstone, biting on her lip. "My father wished for a son, and instead had two daughters," she says. "So, he raised me as he would have a son. He was an exceptional man."

Diana shuffles her feet uncomfortably, reaching out to awkwardly pat Sue on the shoulder. "When did he die?" she finds herself asking.

"Two days after my tenth birthday," replies Sue, blinking rapidly as she leans her head back. "It's been so long that some days I can barely remember what he looks like."

Diana doesn't know what to say, doesn't know what to do as she watches the usually composed captain swallow hard and wipe a hand across her face. She can see Sue is hurting and just wants to make it stop.

She takes a step closer, and places one hand to the side of Sue's face before leaning in to kiss her. Sue's lips are as soft as Diana has always imagined, with a faint taste of rum, and for a split second, she's kissing Diana back and everything feels perfect.

But then Sue pulls away with a soft "No," so quiet that Diana isn't even sure she heard it. She can only just stand there, staring incomprehensibly at Sue.

"No," Sue repeats, her voice stronger, even as she turns her eyes away from Diana. "Diana, we can't do this. I can't do this."

"But..." Diana is lost for words. This is the second time Sue has rejected her, and this time she can see no reason as to why.

Sue is just shaking her head. "But nothing," she says, a faint quiver in her voice. "There is nothing more to say on this subject. And if you don't mind, I'd like to spend some time alone with my father."

Diana just nods, turning away to leave the graveyard. She tells herself that she won't look back; she will walk away with her head held high. But her head whips around as she thinks she hears the sound of a choked sob. Sue is kneeling on her father's grave, silhouetted against the midday sun and for a moment, the light catches her and surrounds her with a golden glow. Diana can only stare, her heart heavy as the image burns indelibly into her mind.

This is the last time, she tells herself. The last opportunity she'll take to indulge in the childish fantasy that is love. She doesn't need Sue Bird.

But even as she continues her trudge back to the docks, she knows that she is lying to herself.

~*~


The George and Dragon is not the closest drinking establishment to the docks, which suits Sue just fine. She has no desire to run into any member of her crew as she calls the barmaid over. The whiskey is smooth down her throat, and she slams the empty glass back down on the bar.

"Again," she demands shortly. She can still taste the faint traces of Diana's kiss and the warmth of the alcohol pales in comparison to the warmth of her mouth pressing against Sue's.

"Rough day, hon?" The barmaid's voice is sympathetic as she pours, and Sue knocks down the refill.

"Bad enough that you might as well leave the bottle," Sue remarks wryly. The barmaid fills the glass again, and Sue lifts it, studying the amber liquid for a moment before she drains it.

"Now, I can't do that, but I can certainly stay here with you and the bottle for a little while," replies the barmaid. "We're not exactly overwhelmed with customers and I'm sure Dan over there can deal by himself for a little while."

Sue just shrugs, holding out her glass again. "I'm not going to be very good company," she says. "I'm just trying to forget today ever happened."

"Want to tell me about it?" the barmaid asks. "Being a good listener is part of my job description."

"I... I think I broke her heart," Sue says quietly, staring at her drink. She's starting to feel the effects of the alcohol.

"I'm sure she's not the first one whose heart you've broken," says the barmaid. "I knew from the moment you walked in my door that you're a heartbreaker. So there must be something different about this one."

Sue sighs, as she empties her glass again. "Everything," she says. "I think I'm falling in love with her, even though I've only known her two weeks. But she's a member of my crew. I can't just start sleeping with someone I'm supposed to be in charge of."

"Why not?" the barmaid asks as she pours again.

"Because... because not!" Sue exclaims. "I can't just let myself fall in love with every pretty face that comes along."

"Sounds to me like you've only fallen in love with one pretty face," replies the barmaid, shrugging. "It doesn't seem like it's a problem to me."

"It is a problem. It's a big problem. A huge problem!" Sue exclaims.

"Well, maybe I can help you with your problem," says the barmaid, leaning over the bar and giving Sue an unobstructed view down the front of her dress. She trails one finger down the front of Sue's shirt, batting her eyelashes. "How about I help you forget her?"

The alcohol has done nothing to wash away Diana's kiss. Sue swallows the rest of her drink and nods. "You got a room nearby?" she asks.

The barmaid smiles, and unties her apron, leaving it on the bar. "Just upstairs," she says, turning to the other barkeep. "Dan, I'm taking my break."

"One more for the road," Sue declares, grabbing for the bottle and refilling her glass again. She's more than a little unsteady when she slides off her stool, and slings an arm around the barmaid's shoulder, allowing her to lead her to the back stairs.

"What's your name anyway?"

~*~


The last thing Diana expects when she opens the door to a pub is to see Sue draped over another woman. She stands frozen in the doorframe, unable to draw her eyes away as Sue nuzzles at the woman's neck, laughing slightly as they stumble up the stairs together.

She thinks a dagger would hurt less than the sight she's just witnessed.

"Oi, are you coming in or not?" demands the barkeep.

"I..." Diana begins to stutter, before turning on her heel and letting the door slam behind her.




Part 2
Part 4
Table of Contents

Date: 2010-10-28 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sexonastick.livejournal.com
I will leave a proper comment when I reach the end, but I actually clapped and squealed when Swin appeared. So. I mean.

SWIN.

Date: 2010-10-29 12:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vicki595.livejournal.com
SWIN!

I am sad that she didn't get as much of an appearance as originally planned. *SIGH*

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