And trust me when I say this, there will be no more month long hiatus' for this fic, I am finally cracking down and finishing this.
If you have forgotten where we are in the story or are completely new, check out the handy-dandy Masterpost for all your AABOS needs.
And now, enjoy Chapter 8, full of ship shenanigans and kitties!
Huge thanks to Vou for beta-ing!
Zisteau smiled to himself as he heard the time go off. 3 o’clock at night, nobody would be awake.
He looked up from the large brown rucksack he had been packing at the center table over to his sleeping crew mate/roommate. At around 8 at night, Kurt had entered their cabin after finishing mopping the deck, shoulders slumped and feet dragging across the floor. At first, Zisteau thought that Kurt had had a bad day, but his thoughts must’ve been obvious because as Kurt sat down on his hammock, he waved his hand in dismissal and said he was just tired. The surgeon had nodded and grabbed the scotch bottle in the upper cabinet (they had gone through three others in the past two months). By the time Zisteau had turned around with a glass of scotch, Kurt had removed his boots, jacket, and vest, leaving only the thin white button up and trousers. Kurt thanked Zisteau for the scotch, downed it in one go, and promptly fell back into his hammock. Zisteau wasn’t at all surprised when, moments later, he glanced back at the hammock to see Kurt fast asleep, body turned to face the wall.
Zisteau thought for a moment about his plan for the night and the man currently fast asleep. It didn’t take him long to make his decision and to loudly whisper, “Hey, Kurt! Wake up!”
No response from the sleeping navigator.
He strode over to where Kurt lay in his hammock. He moved to shake Kurt awake, but stopped, his hand hovering over the sleeping man’s shoulder. For a moment the ship’s surgeon just stood there and stared. Kurt looked so relaxed while he was sleeping, he couldn’t help but look for a moment. His hair was swept off to the right side, lips parted slightly. It would be so easy to wake him up by-
No! Stop- Stop thinking like that! Those thoughts will only get you into trouble! What we have right now is perfect, you don’t want to ruin that by making bold irrational moves like that.
Zisteau mentally shook himself as memories filtered past, each one bringing a sinking feeling to his gut.
Keep those thoughts to yourself and you won’t get hurt again.
The noise of Kurt turning over in his sleep brought him back to the present. He dropped his hand onto Kurt’s shoulder, nudging him awake.
“Kurt… Kuuuuuuuurt. Wake up!” he half whispered.
Kurt blearily blinked his eyes and turned to his cabin mate, “Zist- W-what time is it?”
“Time to get up and help me.”
Kurt crossed his arms over his eyes, as if that would get rid of his hovering roommate, “Didn’t answer my question.”
Zisteau sighed, relenting, “A little past 3 o’clock.”
“In the morning?!” Kurt uncovered his eyes to stare incredulously at Zisteau, “No way.”
“C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
“How can you have fun at 3 in the morning?!”
Kurt rolled over, again facing the wall. Zisteau bit his lip, resisting the urge to just pick him up and haul him out of bed.
“Just get up.” A beat. “Trust me.”
Zisteau went back to his abandoned pack and continued to fill it with all the supplies he’d need. It was almost to the point of bursting when he heard a soft sigh from Kurt’s corner of the cabin. He resisted turning around as he heard the rustling of his roommate getting up and the quiet sound of his feet hitting the floor. He couldn’t help the smile when he felt Kurt’s presence beside him.
“Sooooooooo… what’s all this?” Kurt gestured to Zisteau’s bag.
Zisteau turned to Kurt and grinned, “This is how we have fun.” He hoisted up the bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Now follow me, and keep quiet.”
“You’re really not going to tell me anything?” Kurt asked as Zisteau slipped out the door. When he realized he wasn’t going to get a reply, he sighed and followed the ship’s surgeon to… where ever.
The walk was short; up a level, walk down past several rooms (with both of them being mindful of the occasional creaky board), till Zisteau stopped in front of three that were especially close together. He dropped the bulging knapsack gently on the floor between the last two doors. Kurt looked over his friend’s shoulder, curious as his crew mate reached into his pack. He backed up and Zisteau pulled out a wire brush and two covered wooden pails of paint; one with a thick line of deep red and the other with a line of white painted on.
Zisteau handed the items to Kurt, saying “Here,” and dropped the items in his hands before rummaging around in the pack again.
Kurt looked down at his arms full of supplies, then at Zisteau, who was still crouched beside the bag, his simple brown shirt stretching over his muscles.
The navigator looked away, quickly filling the silence. “Is this a prank?”
Zisteau looked up at Kurt and nodded his head, smiling. “Yep, but not at you though. At Team Canada.”
Kurt had been with the Mindcrack for long enough to learn about their odd fascination with teams. It seemed like everyone on board was on at least one team, and as Kurt saw it, there was really no point to them other than being funny. Team Canada was made up of Pause, Beef and Etho; the latter two had ran from the British Royal Navy when the new king came to power, meeting Pause as they ran further into the Canadian wilderness. All three of them were vastly different; their only similarity was being from Canada, thus the name.
The shifting the paint pails and brush in his arms snapped him out of his thoughts as he struggled to hold everything. “And why are we pranking them?”
Zisteau shrugged, “It’s been a while. The prank wars have kind of died.”
“Yeah. It was just something small that was supposed to keep us busy as we sailed long distances, but it grew out of hand.”
“Let me guess… you had something to do with that?”
Zisteau grinned, looking up to the ceiling as he remembered his past pranks, “Weeeeeeeell, I did fill up Guude’s room with sand that one time.”
“You… what? How?!”
“That’s a story for another day, when we’re not in the middle of pranking.”
“Right… what are we doing?”
Zisteau used a paint brush to point to the three rooms, “Painting these three guys’ rooms with the Canadian flag. Paint as much as you want, I have extra paint I you need it. The room to the left is Beef’s; you get that one. I got the room on the right, and we both paint Etho’s in… say, an hour?”
Kurt nodded, "Sure. And you just want flags everywhere?”
“As many as you can fit.”
He nodded again, “Got it.” He turned toward Beef’s room and tried to reach for the door handle. Realization dawned on his face as he saw that he could not reach the handle with his cluttered arms. He turned sheepishly to his crew member.
"Could you..." He tilted his head toward the door.
Zisteau shook his head. "Lazy good for nothing," he said mockingly.
He opened the door with a bow and a flourish. Kurt laughed softly, entering the room.
The other man grinned, grabbing his supplies.
This is gonna be fun.
An hour later, Zisteau wiped his hand over his forehead, accidentally smearing white paint over it. He stepped back to appreciate his work. He had managed to paint large Canadian flags on Pause’s ceiling, floor, and walls. He had also gotten flags on the dresser, table, and the seat of Pause’s chair.
Good job me.
He picked up his paint cans, noticing he still had quite a bit left, and went to check on how Kurt was holding out.
Silently he exited the room, tiptoed over to Beef’s room, and quickly entered, leaving only a small crack of lantern light in. When he turned around toward the room, he couldn’t help his mouth dropping open at what he saw. Kurt hadn’t only painted the ceiling, walls, and floor of the room; he was starting to paint every piece of furniture as well with a Canadian flag, or in just red and white if he couldn’t fit one. The man in question was currently hunched over a wooden table, painting the maple leaf on a wooden cup. He looked up at the sound of the door opening and smiled when he saw who it was.
“Hey,” Kurt said quietly. He glanced quickly around the room then held his arms out, “How’d I do so far?”
Zisteau wiped away a fake tear, “It’s… beautiful.” He added a fake sniffle at the end.
Kurt dropped his arms, laughing quietly.
“In fact,” Zisteau continued, “Now I have to go back to Pause’s room to paint more flags. I didn’t even think of going this far!”
He smiled, “Well I do have a thing for big projects.”
“Good, so do I,” then added, without thinking, “We’d make a great pair.”
Zisteau bit his tongue as soon as the words slipped out of his mouth. Great, wonder how he’ll interpret that.
He silently gave a sigh of relief when Kurt merely smiled and said, “Indeed.”
He quickly excused himself so he could finish up Pause’s room by painting several more Canadian flags on many of his arrows, his cups, and in several other places where he missed. Once he and Kurt were ready to tackle Etho’s room, it was already five o’clock. They only had less than an hour to paint Etho’s room before he, ever the early bird, would wake up. The two pranksters worked diligently, splitting the room in half so they wouldn’t get in each other’s way. When they had finished with their own sides, they worked together on the floor and ceiling.
They were done by half-past five, both exhausted and both covered in paint due to an unexpected mini paint war that broke out when Zisteau “accidentally” flicked red paint on Kurt’s white shirt. The two quickly retreated back to their cabin, careful not to wake any of the other crew members. When they reached their room, Zisteau resisted the urge to just fall asleep in his paint stained clothes, so he quickly changed out of the shirt he had been wearing and laid down in his hammock, shirtless. He turned his head to Kurt, intending to thank him for helping him, but it was obvious by the quiet snore that came from his side of the room that he had already fallen asleep, paint stained clothes and all.
Zisteau smirked and turned the other way, intending on getting as much sleep as he possibly could before-
Knock! Knock! Knock!
“Wake up ya lazies, breakfast’s ready!” Baj called from the other side of the door.
Zisteau blearily opened his eyes. He slowly got up, not fully awake after spending 3 hours last night pranking. He stretched his arms over his head, bones cracking as Kurt was finally opening his eyes.
“Come on,” Zisteau said, standing up, “I don’t want to miss Team Canada’s reactions.”
Kurt groaned from where he was still laying down. “Too tired. Go without me,” he mumbled.
Zisteau rolled his eyes. Lazy.
He looked around the room, eyes focusing in on the pitcher full of water on the counter top. Walking quietly to it, he picked it up and went back to Kurt’s hammock, so he was right above him. He upturned the entire pitcher right on Kurt’s head and backed up quickly as Kurt bolted up right, sputtering.
“Was that really necessary?!” Kurt exclaimed, wiping water out of his eyes.
Zisteau set the pitcher down on the middle counter, “Yep. Now change out of those clothes, they’re soaked. Meet you topside.”
He didn’t need to look behind him as he exited the room to know that Kurt was glaring daggers in his direction. It was only after he was out of the room did he realize that he still had no shirt on.
“Hey, Kurt! Could you toss me a shirt while you’re in there?” he called through the door.
Almost immediately, the door opened, showing a slightly grumpy and very shirtless Kurt. Zisteau only had a moment to catch a quick glimpse of his muscles and tats before a shirt was chucked at his face and the door was shut.
“Thank you!” he shouted, slipping on the shirt and upturning his collar.
When the door opened again, it revealed Kurt no longer shirtless and in a gray tunic. He looked much less murderous than he had when Zisteau had woken him. They made their way down the hall to the galley, already the smell of salted beef making its way to the two crew mates.
The galley was fairly simple; two long wooden tables each being able to seat 12 people each, with a large piece of cloth replacing the door and blocking the entrance to the actual kitchen, where Mhykol spent most of his time preparing food. Already seated and talking were the Captain, Baj, Pakratt, Jsano, and a couple other members. Kurt and Zisteau took their seats near the kitchen, away from the main entrance. It was quiet while they waited for breakfast, the only noise coming from the low chatter amongst crew members and the sound of the curtain being pulled aside as more people began to file in.
It was quiet… until Beef stormed in, looking as if he had just rolled out of bed. His hair and beard was in disarray and he was missing quite a few buttons on his blue button down, but judging by the look in his eyes, one of absolute disbelief, he couldn’t care less about his appearance.
“Okay, who did it?” Beef demanded.
“Did what?” Guude asked from the head of the table.
“This!” Beef exclaimed, holding up a red and white painted wooden cup, “Everything in my room is painted with the Canadian flag! And Pause’s and Etho’s too!”
There were a few whispers from other crew members. Not everyone participated in the prank wars and those who didn’t usually would place bets on who would do what prank and who would prank who next. A few eyes flicked to Zisteau, knowing he had a history for large pranks and some money was exchanged.
Guude ignored the bets taking place and asked, “Did they leave a note?”
“Yeah, but all the said was that they’re ‘Team Single Malt Scotch’, which really doesn’t help at all.”
“Weeeeeell, maybe it’s the two people on the ship that only drink malt scotch,” Pakratt deadpanned.
All heads turned toward Kurt and Zisteau. Some more money was exchanged, not expecting Kurt of all people to be involved in the prank wars. The former blushed, ducking his head to look at his plate as Zisteau laughed loudly.
“Happy prank wars, everybody!” he exclaimed, slinging an arm around Kurt’s shoulders.
Even after being on the ship for three months, Kurt still got stuck with some of the more undesirable jobs, such as mopping the poop deck. But he didn’t really mind, it wasn’t like he was opposed to hard work (he was a pirate for Notch’s sake), but after a while, the small of salt water and soap really got to you, even if he had Pause alongside to distract him with his ridiculous conversations.
“I don’t understand how Vechs likes you. He hates anyone whose come on to the Mindcrack! Well… except for Zisteau of course, but he’s just warmed right up to you! I don’t get it.”
Kurt scoffed, looking up from the spot he had been mopping for the past minute as Pause had rattled on and on. “He doesn’t like me.”
Pause gave him a look, “Really? The first time I walked into Z’s cabin when Vechs first arrived, the lil’ shit clawed my ankles to kingdom come! I couldn’t walk without a limp for days!”
Kurt had to hide his giggles as Pause continued his rant.
“Really, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s bad luck to throw a cat off a ship, I’d have chucked Vechs off at the next port!”
“And the fact that he and Zisteau are pretty much attached to each other,” Kurt added.
“Yeah, that too.”
After a few moments of working silently Kurt asked, “So do you not like cats ooooor…?”
“No, no, I love cats, but not hyper-active ones that have their heart set out on scaring the shit out of me.”
“So what cat would you rather’ve wandered on to the Mindcrack?”
The native stopped mopping. He crossed his arms over the top of the mop before saying, “A cat that would just catch mice and the rest of the time just sit and not give a shit.”
Kurt nodded absentmindedly, moving his mop to a different spot.
They worked in silence until there was the soft noise of nails being caught on wood and scratching.
Pause turned his head to the right, “Oh hey, speak of the little hellion.”
The navigator looked over to where Pause was looking and saw the thin tabby sauntering over. It’s red and orange coat shone in the afternoon sun as it walked to where the two crew mates were. Expertly avoiding the wet patches in the wood, Vechs ended up at Kurt’s feet. It immediately started to purr and rub its face and body against Kurt’s bare feet.
“See!?” Pause exclaimed pointing to the cat. Vechs stopped rubbing to give Pause a glare only a cat could. The cat then got on his hind legs and started to paw at Kurt’s knee.
The navigator rolled his eyes, “He just wants attention.”
Pause snorted, “Vechs isn't the ‘pay-attention-to-me’ type. He's more of the ‘back-the-fuck-up-before-I-shred-your-
Kurt waved a hand, smirking slightly. “Whatever. My pants are rolled up today, he can’t get them.” He knelt down to pet Vechs. He hoped that as he did so, the cat would be appeased and would leave them alone so they could finish their work.
However, when he got close enough to the floor to comfortably scratch the tabby’s ears, he wasn’t planning on Vechs to immediately drop into a crouch, jump gracefully on Kurt’s shoulders, and sit there like a king on a throne with no intent on moving.
Kurt stayed there, frozen, without a clue as what to do as Pause laughed his ass off to his side.
Thankfully, he spotted Zisteau walking out of his room and he was able to grab his attention.
“So,” Zisteau said when he reached them, barely being able to contain his smile, “How’d you get into this predicament?”
Kurt was a bit hesitant in saying, “Would you believe me if I said that he tricked me into getting down here?”
Zisteau chuckled, “Knowing Vechs, anything is possible.”
He then explained how Vechs would jump on his shoulders constantly if he wasn’t doing any hard manual labor and that this was the first time he had seen Vechs on someone else’s shoulders (which made Pause shout “See!?” again.)
“You just have to be careful, but you can still move around. Here,” Zisteau offered a hand that Kurt graciously took. He pulled Kurt up as Vechs was rearranging himself.
“Don’t worry, he’ll usually stay like that for an hour at most,” Zisteau said, leaving the two with a wink (that most certainly did not make Kurt blush).
By the time the sun was low in the sky, Vechs had remained on Kurt’s shoulders, now lying across like a scarf. When Kurt got back to the cabin (after a very slow decent of the stairs as to not disturb Vechs), he glared at Zisteau half-heartedly. He wasn’t really mad at the surgeon; it was actually nice to have the comforting weight on his shoulders.
“Well,” Zisteau said, stifling his giggles, “he never does that.”
“Wonder why I’m the exception then,” Kurt joked, walking over to where the scotch was kept.
That’s what I’m wondering too.
“He’ll get off of you when he sees a mouse.”
And almost as if called by name, the two crew members barely heard the small “squeak” before Vechs jumped off and sprinted like a red bullet toward the noise.
“Ey, you were right!” Kurt grinned.
It was a quiet night in Zisteau’s cabin. He was writing down things to do in the next few weeks while Kurt was sitting on his hammock on the other side of the room, fiddling with something he had found while on deck. They worked in comfortable silence, with the exception of the scratch of Z’s quill and the occasional metallic click from Kurt’s side of the room when he finally got something to fit together.
After a bit, Zisteau heard the other man put down the device on the counter top and sigh.
Not looking up he asked, “Somethin’ wrong?”
“No, I- I just remembered I left my pack up on deck and I need to get something from it.”
Without missing a beat, Zisteau said, “Get it yourself, lazyass.”
Zisteau looked at Kurt, glanced at the slightly ajar door, and then at the clock secured on the wall.
He shrugged, closing his notebook, “Tell ya what, I’ll grab it when I go get dinner whiiiiiich would be right about now.”
“Really?” Kurt grinned, “That’d be great, thanks.”
Zisteau grinned in return, “No problem.” He got up and pushed open the door-
-to a large bucket of freezing ocean water falling on his head. He stood there soaking wet in shock for a moment, Kurt’s loud laughter sounding distant as he put all the pieces together.
That son of a-
Without a moment’s hesitation, he looked for the bucket, which had rolled over to his feet and picked it up. He sent a quick thanks to… whoever, that there was still some water left in the bucket and turned back to the cabin.
It was so worth the cold dinner they ended up with because of the tickle fight that ensued after he dumped the rest of the water on Kurt (as were the looks they got from their crew mates in the morning. But come on, their laughter hadn’t been that loud).