Lookie here! It's my one year Salad Anniversary :D Yep, a year ago today, I found this place and got hooked!
And now, another addition to my story "And A Bottle of Scotch"! This time, it's before any of this pirate nonsense ever started.
Written in response of lemonzest's prompt, where she wanted to hear the Robin Hood-esque adventures of Brian Lorgon 111 and Kurt.
If you have yet to read And A Bottle of Scotch, you can read it all HERE or the individual chapters will be posted at the bottom because it won't make sense at all unless you read it.
This is probably the most proud I am of something I've written btw.
Kurt didn't remember much of his family. Memories only came in small, distant fragments that randomly pop up because of conversations. Talking with the baker’s son brings up a soft voice. Old shopkeepers shooing him away, making large gestures with their hands reminds him of large, calloused hands, much gentler than the shopkeeper’s would ever be. Throwing objects to divert attention bring up those large hands again, this time, helping Kurt notch the arrow on to a bow string. And sometimes, when he’s racing down the street, past mindless people, trying to get away from the cops, he remembers voices shouting, a loud bang....
Kurt shakes his head, erasing those thoughts. Gone were the days of… whatever life he had before. He was a street kid now (if he could really count as a kid at 16), his only goal in life is to survive the streets of London.
Which is why I should be focusing on making sure this guy doesn’t wake up.
All it takes is one yawn, just one more yawn and....
Kurt sprints across the street, hiding behind yet another cart, this one right next to the one with the dozing vendor.
And the delicious, red apples...ugh. Focus!
Another look and Kurt is sure that the fruit seller won't hear him, he’s fast asleep. He quickly reaches out to grab an apple and hit something warm, fleshy, and not at all apple-like.
Both Kurt and the other person grunt in surprise and, oops, guess he wasn't that asleep, wake up the vendor.
The seller gets up alarmingly fast and yells, "Eh! Wot are you rotten kids doin' 'ere! Git away!"
Kurt jumps up just as quickly and manages to grab one apple before turning around and running as fast as his legs can take him.
He hears another set of feet behind him, running just as swiftly, but he doesn’t bother to look back. If it’s the vendor, Kurt is confident he can easily outfox him. The other thief, however, well, who knows what tricks he has up his sleeve. Kurt easily pushes all thoughts out of his head and focuses on not tripping over the cobbled street.
It's only when his legs feel like they’re burning and his chest is heaving that he starts to slow down and ducks in to an alley. My alley.
Well, it’s not his, but it’s where he’s slept for the past 8 years and no one has tried to join him, so he considers it his. The ground between the two buildings (a bakery and a print ship) is strewn with garbage and old newspapers, the largest pile of papers near the back of the alley being his bed. The worn leather rucksack barely hidden under said newspapers is the only thing he has from his old life, filled with whatever small knickknacks he found interesting.
He flops down on the ground against the wall, chest heaving and breaths loud in his ears. It takes a minute for the adrenalin to die down, but when he’s off the high, he realizes that his hand is slightly wet. He looks down. Oh yeah, the apple. It’s a little squished from the run, but he doesn’t care. He’s eaten worse, that’s for sure. He lifts the apple to his mouth…
“Ahem,” says a voice from the front of the alley. Kurt turns his head quickly, sitting up a little straighter. A boy his age is standing in front of the entrance. He’s about as tall as Kurt and the same build, possibly a bit buffer. His short brown hair is sticking up in all sorts of ways and he has the beginnings of a rough beard. He’s just as dirty as Kurt is and it’s easy to tell who he is.
“You’re the guy from like, 10 seconds ago, right?”
“Yep, and I’d like my share please.”
Kurt blinks, and then asks, “Come again?”
“Well, the shop keeper ended up chasing me around and I got him off our tail, so I would hope my efforts weren’t in vain.”
Kurt looks at him for a moment. Well, he did help me get away…
He nods and pulls out his small pocket knife he found one day in an alley and cuts the apple in half. He throws the other half to the other man, who is able to catch it even though it was a bad throw.
The man smiles, “Thanks,” and takes a bite.
Kurt thinks for a moment that that's the end of it, that they'll part ways like most of Kurt's relations in the past, but then, the man surprises Kurt by moving closer and asking, "So... um, what's your name?"
Rarely anyone has bothered to ask Kurt that question since he's been living on the street that it takes him a moment to reply, "Um, Kur-Kurt J Mac."
Then the man smiles again and says, "Nice to meet you. I'm Brian."
Kurt nods absentmindedly, trying to absorb the knowledge that he's having an actual conversation with someone. He can't even remember that last time that happened.
"So... is this your place?" Brian asks, taking another bite while looking around.
"Nice alley," Brian says, still standing just inside the entrance, "The place I'm living isn't half as nice as this. There’s, well, waste and garbage everywhere and... everything."
Kurt doesn't know what possesses him to say, "You could stay here for the night if you want" but he does. Seems like Brian didn't expect that either judging by the slight bulging of his eyes.
"Oh, um, no, that won't be necessary. I-I've bothered you long enough. Thanks for the apple!" and with a nod of his head, he's gone.
Kurt just sits there, first in shock from the abrupt leave, then from replaying the conversion over and over in his head. Was... was he on the way to making a friend? Is that why Brian sought him out? His thoughts soon got to be too much for him and he moved over to his newspaper mound and tried to fall asleep as quickly as possible.
Unlike most days, Kurt wakes up to the smell of freshly baked bread the next morning. He abruptly wakes up and finds Brian in his alley, cradling two clothed bundles. Brian lifts his head up at the sound of Kurt waking up and gives a small smile.
"Morning, I...I felt like I should repay you for that apple yesterday, so I got, well stole, you this," Brian explains, holding out one of the bundles.
Kurt's head is still fuzzy with sleep when he takes the package and opens it. Inside is a freshly baked loaf of bread and Kurt is sure that is he broke it open now, he would end up with a face full of steam.
It's the nicest thing anyone has done for him in a long time.
"Um, thanks," Kurt says, smiling and finally getting a good look at Brian. He’s wearing a shirt that could’ve been white at some point, but it’s now yellowed and dirty and the brown pants he has on are ripped at the knees and just as dirty as the shirt, if not more. His hair is a little bit longer than Kurt’s and just a touch darker.
Kurt tears his eyes away and focuses on the hot loaf of bread in his hands. He rips it in half and sets the larger half aside and then goes to town on the bread.
He hears a snort and looks back up at Brian, who has a small piece of his loaf of bread in his hand and is smirking. “Wow, you definitely were hungry.”
Kurt swallows the piece in his mouth and blushes. “Well… it’s really good bread.”
“Yeah, Gleeson makes the best bread in town.”
Brian giggles, actually giggles, “Indeed.”
They eat in silence for a few minutes, sitting across from each other. Then Brian asks, “Why did you break your bread in half?”
Kurt smiles a little, “You’ll see.”
Just then a white blur pounces into Kurt’s lap. Brian is on his feet in seconds, but relaxes when he realizes what that white blur is.
“Is that a dog?”
Kurt moves away from the tongue attacking his face, “Yep, and he thinks I’m his owner.”
“Ooooh, is that what the other half of the bread is for?”
“You bet,” Kurt says before saying, “Get off me Wolfie,” and pushing the large husky off his lap and reaching for the other half of the bread. He’s just about to grab the bread when Wolfie runs off his lap and snatches it up. Brian can’t help but laugh.
“That’s some dog you have there.”
“Yep.” Kurt reaches over to where Wolfie is now sitting, chewing contently on his piece of bread, “He’s one of a kind.”
From then one, it’s a tradition for one of the two to bring breakfast over to the other’s place, where they end up talking for a while before parting ways and getting on with their day. Wolfie ends up joining them every time, usually having to follow Kurt when he’s the one bringing food. Their routine is nice.
Then one day, Kurt comes over to the section of alley across town that Brian lives… and he isn’t there.
He looks around the garbage piles, under the thin blanket Brian had somehow managed to get, looks around the corner into the next alley.
Kurt is beginning to worry when he suddenly hears loud shouts from up the street. He runs toward the cacophony and ducks into the crowd surrounding one of the bakeries. He pushes his way to the front.
Oh. Shit. Well THERE’S Brian!
Brian has somehow managed to get caught by the baker and is now on the hard, cobbled ground, being yelled at by said baker. There are two bundles of something being crushed in the baker’s hands and-
Oh. OH. Dammit Brian, that’s my job today.
Feeling slightly guilty for the whole ordeal, Kurt feels he should get Brian out of this mess. He crouches down to Wolfie and hopes that for once in his life, Wolfie won’t be the ridiculous dog he usually is. He whispers a command in to the mutt’s ear and then goes to the spot in the crowd where there are less people, near the left. When he’s situated, he lets out a short whistle and Wolfie pounces on the baker, thoroughly distracting him from Brian, who leaps up and sprints right into Kurt.
He catches Brian’s arm, “Come on!” and they sprint back to Brian’s alley.
They don’t stop running until they reach Brian’s alley, where they flop down at the entrance. There are a few moments of silence while they catch their breath. When their breathing has finally calmed down, Brian rearranges himself so he’s sitting up, wincing only once.
Immediately Kurt is at his side, “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“No, just some bruising. I…” Brian sighs, leaning his head back in the cold brick wall and closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He stays like that before looking back at Kurt and whispering, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Kurt whispers back, before cracking a smile, “It seems as though we do better working together, huh?”
That gets a laugh out of Brian, “Yeah, indeed.”
“Huh, not a bad idea.”
“Brian Lorgon 111, that’ll be my name.”
“Brian Lorgon 111… not bad. Why the 111?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure my birthday is the 11th of January, so 1/11.”
“If you could get a tattoo, what would it be?”
“Hmm, I don’t think I could get just one.”
“So, multiple ones?”
“No, no. I-I like the look of a whole sleeve of tattoos. Yeah, if I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be a whole sleeve.”
“That’s cool. But what of?”
“They sky I think. It’s really pretty at dusk, isn’t it?”
Brian tilts his head up.
“Yeah, it really is.”
“What about you?”
“Something small. Maybe something circling my wrist.”
“Oh! I know! The words ‘For the children!’ around my wrist!”
A snort. “That would be perfect for you.”
“Yeah, and it could be the base of your sleeve!”
“Well then, it’s settled. We’ll get that tattoo together when we get the money for it.”
They get the tattoos the day before Brian’s birthday after saving enough money from pickpocketing and the small job Brian some how managed to get. The tattoo artist gives them a funny look when Kurt hands him the drawing of what they want, but he complies. Brian bites his lip the whole way through, his right hand tightening into a fist as soon as the needle touches his skin.
If Kurt feels any pain, he doesn’t show it, but he is quiet the whole way through.
Their lives aren’t perfect, but they’re happy living like this for four years.
Then the flyer makes its way around town.
“Lorgon! Look at this!”
“Hmm? What? Why did you have to wake- oh.”
“Yeah ‘oh’, isn’t this brilliant! Imagine the money we’d make! “
“Yeah it is, but, really Kurt? Pirates? The Emerald?! They’re ruthless and notorious and… just bad news all around.”
“Yeah, I know, but… I’m tired of this life Brian. I don’t want the only adventure I have is running away from some old storeowner! I want… oh man, I want something more in my life!”
“I know, I do too but… I don’t what you rushing into something you’ll regret later.”
“… Yeah, that makes sense. I’ll think about it. G’d night, sorry for waking you up.”
Kurt first shows signs that he’d be a great pirate is a week later, when the two are walking aimlessly along the docks and are somehow roped into a gambling game.
“Just hit all five bottles with fives stone and you’ll get the pot!” one of the older man slurs out.
Kurt glances at the pot, and then glances again because wow, that’s a nice compass in the middle of all those pounds.
He feels a tugging on his shirt and he looks down at Brian (he really hit his growth spurt these last few years) who whispers, “Not worth it.”
Yes worth it.
“Don’t worry,” he whispers back, then fishes out a couple of shillings and drops it into the pot. He can practically feel Brian cringe behind him. He turns back to the group of men.
The old man smirks then, with a flourish of his hand, he gestures to the five rocks lined up to the glass bottles a couple of meters away.
Kurt steps up and picks up a stone. It’s about the size of his palm and is relatively heavy. He tosses it up a little then turns around sharply when he hears a loud cough. The men are waiting for him to make a move. Brian looks as white as a sheet.
He gives a smile he hopes is reassuring then turns back to the bottles ahead of him. He throws the rock straight up into the air, and then throws it hard at the leftmost bottle.
Kurt smiles to himself before picking up the next rock and throwing it at the next bottle.
Kurt can’t help the shit-eating grin on his face when he turns back towards the men. All their jaws have dropped, including Brian’s. He’s still grinning when he shrugs off his rucksack and collects the pot, putting the compass he had been eyeing earlier in his pocket. He shoulders the rucksack on again and grabs Brian’s elbow, steering him out.
He can’t help himself when he turns his head and yells, “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen!”
Brian regains his ability to talk when they get back to Kurt’s alley.
“How the heck did you do that?”
Kurt looks up from where he’s sitting. Brian’s standing right in front of him, hands on hips.
He just shrugs, “I’ve always known how to do that.”
“You mean you were born with precision accuracy?”
Kurt snorts at that, but then his face hardens a bit, “No, I mean… I think my dad taught me.”
That makes Brian let his hands fall limp and crouch down. “Really?” he asks.
Kurt nods, “It’s just a vague memory, but I remember… his hands positioning mine and… I think there was a line of broken bottles like meter away.”
They sit in silence for a moment before Brian asks, “Is there anything else you can do?”
Kurt just smirks a little.
Any spare time is spent seeing what Kurt can do, although it takes a while to get the right supplies. It takes more than two weeks to get enough money to buy a gun and bullets and just under a week to by a bow and arrow.
Turns out it’s worth it because Kurt is a natural with both (which kinda scares Brian, but also makes him even more happy Kurt is his friend and not his enemy).
They end up spending more time at the wharf, shooting random bits of junk, seeing how far Kurt can go before he loses his accuracy (which is a long way away).
Brian can’t help but think back to the night a month and a half ago, when Kurt had said he wanted to join The Emerald. At the time, he had been scared that Kurt would hurt himself on the high seas, what with the swords and big, burly men and, well, pirates and Brian would never be able to see his best friend again.
Now he’s worried what will happen to Kurt if he stays here.
Brian’s surprised with himself when, that night, he says, “I think you should go.”
Kurt looks up from petting Wolfie, who’s in his lap and asks, “What?”
Brian sighs, shifting closer, “I think… you should join The, um, The Emerald.”
There’s a beat of silence before Kurt says, “What?!”
Brian manages a smile, “You’re not going deaf are you?”
“No I just… weren’t you telling me not too just a month ago?”
“Yeah but… it’s been a month and… I, um, think you’d do okay.”
Another moment of silence. “What, um, what made you change your mind?”
Brian picks up a small rock and looks down on it, “Probably because if I-”, he throws the rock straight at his friend and Kurt is able to duck, “do that, that happens.”
Kurt looks down on Wolfie and his next words are no more than a whisper, “The boat is leaving tomorrow, isn’t it.”
Brian nods, “Yeah.”
If it weren’t for the complete silence, Brian probably wouldn’t have been able to hear the sniffle.
“You really think I’d do good on The Emerald?” Kurt whispers.
“Kurt,” Brian says, and that gets Kurt to lift his head up, “I think you’re going to be one of the best.”
Kurt smiles a little at that and that in it of itself makes Brian happier about the whole ordeal.
The next day, they’re both quiet, with their only words to each other being “Thank you” when Brian hands Kurt breakfast for today.
They’re still quiet when Kurt backs up his meager belongings into his rucksack, but the silence is broken when Brian shoves the gun into his face.
“Take it,” he says, “We both know I can’t shoot unless it’s point blank.”
Kurt just nods and takes it and the ammunition and tucks the gun into the holster they also bought that is attached to his belt. It doesn’t take long before he realizes he’s finished packing. Throwing on the brown coat he has that’s one size too big, he turns to Brian, who’s leaning in the alley wall, hands stuffed into his pockets.
“Walk to the dock with me?” Kurt asks as nonchalantly as he can, trying to ignore the tugging at this heart.
A smile flickers over Brian’s face. “I don’t think you could stop me from walking with you.”
And so they do, with Wolfie on their tails. They walk side by side, sometimes their shoulders brush against each other, but neither of them says anything.
When they get to the dock, it’s louder than usual. The large ship in the wharf with the black flag fluttering high in the breeze can only be The Emerald. There’s a multitude of people going on and off the ship. The men with more muscle are hauling large barrels of water and foodstuffs on board and there’s a line of women saying goodbye to their husbands who are going on to a different ship. Wolfie shuffles closer to Kurt’s legs. Kurt’s eyes spot a line of men and he can tell it’s the line to go to join The Emerald.
He turns to Brian and says, “Well, wish me luck.”
Brian looks like he’s going to say something, but Kurt stops him with a finger to his lips, “No, no goodbyes. There’s always the chance that they don’t accept me.”
Brian just shakes his head as Kurt moves to join the line.
It takes a while to move to the front of the line and while he’s on it, he sees more people rejected than accepted. He doesn’t know if he should be happy with this statistic, or upset. His mind wanders to whether he’s truly ready to leave his life here in London for some silly desire for adventure and-
“Next!” a gruff voice shakes him out of his daydreams as he steps up.
“Name?” the man behind the table asks.
“Kurt J Mac,” he replies with as much confidence as he can.
“D’ya own a gun?”
“Yes I do. Here-here it is.” He takes it out of the holster and holds it up.
The man doesn’t look impressed, “Can ya shoot it?”
“Yes, very accurately,” he manages to spit out.
The man raises one eyebrow before saying, “I don’t believe ya.”
Kurt’s about to say something in hopes he’ll retain his dignity, when a familiar voice says, “I believe ‘em, BTC. In fact, I’ve seen ‘em at work!”
Kurt looks over to where the voice is and oh!
“You’re that guy at the wharf!” Kurt blurts out just as the man behind the table shoots up, saying, “Captain Generik.”
The man, no captain, smiles and hooks an arm around Kurt’s shoulders, even though he seems a few inches shorter. “This man right ‘ere knocked 5 bottles with 5 rocks without missing and without pause. ‘E would be absolutely lethal with a gun. Sign ‘im up, BTC!”
“Right away Captain,” BTC says, scribbling down his name as the captain turns to Kurt.
“What did you say your name was again?”
Kurt repeats his name and the captain sticks out his hand, “Nice t’ meet ya Kurt. I’m Captain Generik of The Emerald. Welcome aboard!”
Kurt tentatively shakes the captain’s hand before sputtering, saying he has to say goodbye to his friend.
“Of course, of course. Just be quick. We leave soon!” With that, Captain Generik turns and walks aboard his ship.
The ship you’re going to be a part of. The ship you’re already a member of. The ship you’re going to leave the only home you’ve ever known and the only friend you can ever remember having… Oh God, what have I done?!
Kurt turns on his heels and runs to wear Brian is still standing with Wolfie. He stops just short of crashing into Brian and spits out, “Imadeiton.”
Brian, what with being his friend for four years, manages to understand that and offers a small smile.
Kurt is just about to let all the anxieties he’s feeling out, when Brian swoops in and hugs Kurt tight. He stands motionless. They’ve never done this, hugging. It’s never more than a clap on the back here, and high five there, but never a hug.
“But I’m gonna miss you,” Brian says, still hugging fiercely.
That is what snaps Kurt. That is what makes Kurt wrap his arms around his friend, the one person who’s been with him these past four years, through thick and thin, and hug just as hard back, pouring all of his worries into this one hug.
After a few seconds of just hugging, they pull back. Kurt is only able to mumble, “I’ll miss you too.”
They don’t say anything about returning. They know the dangers of Kurt living on the high seas; they don’t have to say anything, so Kurt just nods his head and the crouches down to Wolfie, scratching the mutt’s big, furry ears.
“Take care of Brian for me, Wolfie,” he mutters before standing back up. He holds his arm out and Brian grasps his wrist in true brothers-in-arms style. Kurt nods his head again before letting go and turning around, starting to walk for the ship.
A bark stops him in his tracks. He turns around and Wolfie is there, right in his heels, big tongue lolling out of his mouth.
It takes up all of Kurt’s strength to say, “Wolfie, sit,” without his voice cracking.
There are tears welling up in his eyes when Kurt says, “Stay.”
Wolfie stays there, on the dock as Kurt walks up the gang plank, up to The Emerald.