To those who have no idea what this is, this is And A Bottle of Scotch, my biggest writing project/my baby. It's pirate AU involving every Mindcracker. It is slow build Single Malt Scotch (Kurt/Zisteau).
Get caught up and read other things relating to AABOS HERE!
Warnings for this chapter: Contains drinking, swearing, and something relating to a panic attack.
A huge thank you to bio-at for betaing!
The early summer sun streamed through the port holes of the captain's quarters. A beam of light hit Guude straight in his eye, waking him from his dream filled with mountains of gold, treasure, and... Pause as a mermaid?
Maybe it was for the best that he woke up.
He sat up and pulled off the colorful blanket he had bartered for off some small island. He stretched his arms above his head, groaning softly as he felt his spine pop. Swinging his legs over the side, he slipped his feet into a pair of slippers that he had gotten off a merchant ship a few years back. Now that he thought about it, as he walked over to his small closet, there were few things in his quarters that shared a similar place of origin. His furniture was crafted out of different wood types from different islands. His clothing was made of different fabrics, ranging from silk from Asia to cotton from the West Indies. He had a whole cabinet of different trinkets that he had picked up (or stolen) on his travels.
As he slipped out of his night clothes into his usual captain garb, his mind wandered to a specific set of isles: the Asylum Chain.
A series of small islands formerly known as Knozims Chain, but renamed to Asylum Chain when people got tired of having to pronounce Knozims Chain, it had been previously owned by His Majesty and used as a break point for soldiers to relax and for ships to stock up. However, once pirates began hearing about how nice the islands were and what a perfect spot it would be for them, things started getting tricky. First, several pirates tried bartering for the islands, using gold, silver, spices, and whatever else they had. They were met with upturned noses. Then they resorted to violence. A huge fight broke out between the navy stationed out at the islands and whatever pirates wanted to come. Guude had been a part of that, before he was a captain. He had a nice, long scar running up his arm to remember it by. Now it was not only a place to get drunk, it was a place to trade and barter, to take a breather and relax after a tough week on the high seas.
A pirate's haven.
But it wasn't Guude's favorite spot purely for those reasons; he liked the Asylum Chain mainly for the owner of The Dancing Lute, Aureylian.
Aureylian was one of Guude's more unexpected friends. They had met during the fight for Asylum Chain and continued to talk after the fighting was over. Aurey had talked his ear off about her ideas for an inn, right where they were sitting, but Guude hadn't minded her chatting in the least (then again, he was fighting off the pain of the long cut in his arm, but he really was interested in her ideas). They had parted ways when he was fully patched up. He had decided to head towards the mainland in search of an old friend and Aurey had decided to stay, mind set on building that tavern. A year or two later, when Guude had come back to the Asylum Chain with most of the current Mindcrack crew, he found Aurey as the owner and barkeep of The Dancing Lute. They had reunited with warm hugs and cold pints of beer as she had recounted her story to him.
After the fight, she had been lucky to come upon many men that were happy to help her build her bar (apparently it was very easy to get pirates to do anything with the promise of rum afterwards). Then she had gotten even luckier when a Navy supply ship holding several barrels of rum hadn’t gotten the message that the islands were being held by pirates, providing her with easy access to her first load of supplies. One of the men who she had grown closest with on the island; Captain Jordan Spark had graciously offered to help out with any unruly customers in the bar. Now her tavern was one of the most popular spots on the islands and one of Guude’s first stops at the Asylum Chain.
And now, after thinking about the islands for so long and remembering all the other times he and his crew had visited, Guude really wanted to go back.
Fixing his coat in the mirror, he yelled for his cabin boy, MC. The young man, who always seemed awake to cater to his needs, arrived at his side shortly. He was dressed in his usual dull orange tunic and brown pants with a green bandana covering his brown hair. Guude felt momentarily bad for waking up the man when he saw the dark circles under his eyes, but he brushed the feeling off. The task wouldn’t take long.
“Could you take inventory on the sugar and other spices we got in that raid we did last week?” Guude asked, looking at MC through the mirror.
“Of course, Captain,” MC said shortly, making move to leave.
Guude turned and held a hand out, “Actually, take inventory of any sugar and spices we have on board. And get First mate Beef for me.”
“You got it Captain,” MC said, smiling slightly before exiting the room.
It wasn’t long until Beef was knocking at his cabin door. He had always prided himself on having the best crew. Guude smiled to himself before calling for him to enter.
Beef stepped in, looking like he had just tumbled out of bed. His beard and hair had yet not been combed and his shirt was askew. It reminded Guude of how he had looked weeks ago when he had stormed into the galley, fuming about his and the rest of Team Canada’s rooms being painted with the Canadian flag.
He had to stop himself from giggling at that thought.
Beef sat down in one of the wooden chairs and placed his hands behind his head. “What’s it that you need?”
Guude turned to Beef and sat down in another chair, “I feel like visiting the Asylum Chain. When was the last time we sailed there?”
Beef thought for a moment before responding. “I’m pretty sure we were planning on going like 4 months ago, but then Kurt joined and we just never got around to it.”
The captain hummed in response. “Well, more the reason to go. I had MC got check inventory. Might as well make some money while we’re down there.”
Beef nodded as he continued. “Go find Kurt for me and have him set a course to Asylum Chain.”
“I haven’t seen Kurt all morning.”
“You haven’t? Hmmm, then find Zisteau. He has a built in Kurt-detector.”
Beef laughed, getting up out of his seat, “Okay, I will boss.”
He stepped out of the captain's quarters and was immediately blinded by the bright sun. He held his hand over his eyes, wishing he had worn his hat and that it wasn't sitting on top of his dresser.
When the spots had dissipated from his vision, he scanned the deck of the ship. If his clock had been right when he had left his room, it was roughly nine, just when breakfast was finishing up and the deck was starting to get crowded. Luckily, Kurt's white button-up was easy to pick out in a sea of short-sleeves and bare torsos (the latter thanks to Pause for setting that trend).
Beef called out, "Kurt! To the wheel!" and turned to make his way to the small staircase that led to the poop deck.
He didn't have to wait long for Kurt to join him beside the wheel.
With a bright smile, the first mate loudly said, "Set us on a course for the Asylum Chain!"
A few people on deck cheered upon hearing the order because they knew that it meant that soon, they wouldn’t have to work. For an entire three days, they could spend all their time at bars drinking and with pleasurable company.
Kurt looked at the cheering crew to Beef, brow furrowed, "The... what?"
Beef's smile faded, "You know, the Asylum Chain?”
Kurt slowly shook his head, confusion still evident as Beef tried again.
“The Knozims Chain?”
Nothing. The crew was now quiet, watching the exchange with rapt attention.
Kurt shook his head reluctantly, biting his lip. It was obvious he did not like the attention their conversation was getting and Beef couldn’t help but agree. The two had grown close and the last thing he wanted was to make his friend embarrassed.
"I...okay," Beef scrubbed a hand over his face. He turned sharply toward the crew, stalking closer to the lower deck and barking out orders to get back to work. He usually wasn’t so harsh to the crew, but his main goal right now was to divert attention away from them at the wheel. The crew hastily acted like they had seen nothing, getting back to their daily chores. Beef breathed a small sigh of relief.
He quickly scanned the deck for one person in particular. When he found him, he made a subtle motion for him to come to the wheel.
Paul Soares Jr, their old navigator, walked as quickly as he could to the wheel. He wasn’t as good as Kurt was (but there really was no other navigator like Kurt), but he knew his way around interpreting maps and that like. More importantly, he knew the way to the Asylum Chain like the back of his hand.
When he got to the wheel, he didn’t ask any questions. He just got behind it and glanced at some of the maps Kurt had left last he was steering the boat. With a few calculations in his head and a look through his sextant, he turned the Mindcrack in the direction she needed to go.
Quietly, he told Beef, “We should arrive in one to two days.”
He nodded, glad he had gotten that moment over with quickly. Turning around, he meant to dismiss Kurt and have him return to his chores, but he saw no one but PSJ. He sighed, mentally cursing himself as he walked down the staircase, ready to continue on with his day and hopefully find Kurt and apologize to him.
Two days later, the sky was a light gray color as the Mindcrack cut through the sea. White seagulls and other birds cawed to each other, some even landing on the ropes of the ship before being shooed away by Baj. Low clouds hovered over the placid waters, making it difficult for PSJ to navigate, but it didn't matter. Every crew member, save for Kurt, could feel it in the bones that they were close. After taking the same course over and over to the same islands, it wasn't a wonder that they had an internal compass pointing directly to the Asylum Chain.
Zisteau folded his arms over the railing at the bow. A small smile grew on his lips as the Mindcrack parted through the mist.
"Hello Horseshoe, did you miss us?" he mumbled to himself as the familiar chain of islands appeared into view.
The Knozims Chain was made up of 5 islands; 2 large ones and 3 smaller ones. All of them together created a crude "U" shape with the two larger islands as the top and the smaller ones as the curve. The large island to the east, where most of the shops and bars and taverns were, was considered the main one. The other big one was mainly used as a place to get repairs on everything from compasses to clothing to ships. The three other islands were mainly rocky and covered with forests, so little to no people stopped there.
As the Mindcrack came into port, the rest of the crew was busying themselves, gathering together everything they'd need for a few days of fun. Guude stepped on to the upper deck to remind everyone that they were leaving in three days’ time and that if they weren't on board by then he'd "Send Baj to collect you, and trust me when I say you do not want to see Baj hungover".
Zisteau left his spot at the front as Etho jumped over the railing on to the dock to tie up the ship. He weaved his way through the throng of people anxious to get off the ship. Luckily, the staircase down was clear and he stepped down to his room.
He pushed open the door, only slightly surprised to see Kurt standing by one of the counters, cleaning his gun.
"Don't think you'll need that here," he said off-handedly, making Kurt jump slightly. He continued to his pack as his roommate began to reassemble his gun.
"Well..."Kurt said stiffly, clicking pieces into place, "You never know who you may run into."
The other man snorted, "Trust me, when you’re on a group of islands whose nickname is the ‘Asylum Chain’, you don't run into many people who are looking for a fight. And even if one does break out, it's usually handled quickly."
Kurt made a noncommittal noise, gun pieces still clicking together. Zisteau glanced at his roommate as he walked into the room, getting his pack out from under a shelf. As he filled it with what he’d need, the space between them became awkward and the silence heavier. After a few minutes of this, he couldn't help but get the feeling that he was getting the cold shoulder.
He sighed, dropping the flask into his pack. He turned around, back to the counter with arms crossed.
"Alright, what's wrong?"
Kurt turned his head, but didn't look at him, "Nothing."
"Bullshit," Zisteau quickly shot back, "it's because you didn't know about the Asylum Chain, isn't it? You're still hung up about it."
Kurt's shoulders tensed. "So what?"
Zisteau walked so he was behind his friend. "You know, Avidya didn't know what it was when he joined the Mindcrack either."
"Yeah, but wasn’t he a merchant before joining? I've been a pirate for just about 10 years of my life and to not know about this 'Pirate Haven'... It just-"
"Makes you feel pretty stupid?"
"Exactly!" Kurt spun around, light clear in his eyes.
"Well, I think you can forgive yourself for this one. I mean," he glanced down at the floor, unsure of how to phrase what he wanted to say, "I… I’ve heard the Emerald isn't all fun and games."
Kurt snorted, ducking his head down, "That's an understatement."
"And really all we ever do on the Asylum Chain is have fun. So you don't have to beat yourself up for this."
"I guess you're right."
Kurt's shoulders slowly relaxed. Zisteau smiled, ignoring how his stomach knotted itself after making Kurt feel better about himself. He slapped a hand on Kurt's shoulder.
"Come on, pretty sure everyone's off ship now. Let's go get drunk!"
There wasn't any drinking until the last night on the Horseshoe, when the two had stumbled upon several crew members wandering the dirt streets, trying to find some other crew members to get hammered with (or rather, all of them get hammered while Beef sat off to the side, watching them make fools of themselves).
Zisteau had spent the first day showing Kurt around the main island. They had looked at practically every shop and building (except the brothel, which made Kurt blush when he realized what it was and Zisteau let out a storm of innuendo, which landed him a punch to the arm for the really bad ones). He had shown Kurt all the best places to eat, get a new gun or sword, and best places to get drunk. The second day had been spent on the other large island. Zisteau's gun had been misfiring too often in practice while Kurt's cutlass had a large chip in it.
So the last day was left for drinking, and there was only one place Zisteau trusted to get good drinks on the island:
The Dancing Lute.
It was one of the first buildings you could see after making port. Despite other buildings that were hidden from sight by large palm trees and brush, The Dancing Lute was in full view from the port. It was a huge place, with three floors and a large patio out on the front with a pink and white striped awning hanging over and several rocking chairs. It had a dark wood exterior with light oak for the interior. The large windows on the first floor brought in all the natural light and were adorned with potted plants near its base.
On the inside, each floor was something different. The third floor was where Aureylian lived, the second had several small rooms that someone could rent for a night or two, and the first floor held the main attraction.
The first floor was the bar.
Most of the left wall was taken up by the bar, with a multitude of colored bottles and glasses shelved on the wall. The rest of the floor space was packed with tables and chairs, with the far right corner cleared out for music (and the occasional dance, if people got drunk enough).
"Hey Aureylian!" Zisteau called from by the front entrance.
The woman at the bar perked up at that, turning towards the door. She was pretty tall, with long, wavy red hair flowing down her back. She wore a dark red blouse held up by a leather corset. None of the men could see, but they all knew she kept herself armed and ready, with knives and guns hidden wherever she could reach.
When she saw the familiar faces, she grinned and waved them over. It took a little while to make their way through the throng of tables and drunks, but they managed to all get stools at the bar next to one another, with Beef farthest left, then Pause, Zisteau, Kurt, Avidya, and Coe sitting closest to the door. Aureylian took care of her other customer quickly before moving on to the group of five.
"Hey boys," she greeted, leaning her hands on the counter, "I see someone here that I don't recognize, which is saying something because everybody passes through the Horseshoe."
Kurt introduced himself, "I only joined a couple months ago."
"Yep," Zisteau said. He clapped a hand on Kurt's shoulder, only making him jump slightly, "Found him half stranded on a piece of wood in the ocean and brought him up.
Pause snorted, "Oh there is so much more than that. Zisteau was the first to spot him and then when everybody was deciding whether or not to bring him on board- because we didn't know who he was- guess what he did?"
Before Zisteau could slap him, Aureylian piped up and asked, "What? What did he do?"
He continued, smirking, "He fucking striped down to his pants and jumped overboard! Just like that! With not a care in the world about whether this man is dead or dangerous or whether there were goddamn sharks in the water, just started swimming up to him. By the time we had gotten a rowboat ready to save their sorry asses, he had already started dragging Kurt, who we had no idea was actually from the Emerald, toward- OW!”
Pause's monologue was cut off by Beef slapping him upside the head.
"That's enough, Pause. You're not even drunk yet and you're already making a fool out of yourself."
The bowman rubbed the spot where Beef had hit him, glaring, before turning to Aureylian with a smile. "Speaking of getting drunk, why don't we start doing that?"
The barmaid looked to Zisteau who looked at Kurt. He seemed unshaken by the mention of the Emerald and he took that as a good sign.
Fucking Pause bringing up memories. Fucking Pause stretching the truth. That's not how it happened.
He looked back to Aurey, and gave a slight nod.
"We'll take 2 rums, a whiskey and 2 scotches."
Beef cut in, "And one water."
"And put it on Guude's tab!" Coe said.
"Alrighty, got that coming up," Aureylian smiled, starting on the drinks.
There were a few moments of silence as she prepared the drinks, but they guys didn't mind. They were content to just sit back and either take a look around the bar or, like Zisteau loved to do, people watch. Bars always had interesting characters, from old men who spouted stories about far off lands of magic and mystery, to girls with vibrant colored hair and others with little clothing on. There were a few people who he deemed interesting enough to spy tonight; a loud man who claimed he had died and come back to life, a girl (barely even a woman) who was casually shooting the breeze with some of the more intimidating men like it was nothing, and a man in the back, hidden by shadows, who wasn't doing anything but like Zisteau, was looking at the crowd of people, specifically his eyes seemed trained on the bar.
The sound of his drink being placed on the bar top snapped him out of his thoughts. As he turned to down his scotch, all the people he had taken note over had disappeared out of his memory, as most inconsequential things do.
He placed his glass on the table after drinking more than half and turned toward the barmaid, who was pouring Pause and Coe’s drinks.
"So what did you and Guude do this time?" he asked.
Aureylian looked up and smiled.
"A lot, actually. To make up for the time we missed, he finally taught me how to fire a pistol like he promised."
"How'd you do?" Kurt, who had been listening in, asked.
She giggled, "Not bad, apparently. I mean, I hit the actual target three out of the seven times, which is apparently good for a beginner."
Zisteau nodded, downing the last of his drink. "I remember I could hit anything when I was young. I may have hit it once out of like ten tries."
"Well I guess I'm a natural then," Aurey giggled.
She turned to Kurt, the determination to get to know him better clear on her face. "What about you? How were you your first time with a gun?"
As the night wore on, they continued to talk; swapping stories of their first times with guns and swords. Pause told and exceptionally funny tale of how he had accidentally shot the hat off of someone’s head when he was first learning. Coe told about his first time with a sword and how he has taken a wrong swing at a target and managed to lodge his blade deep into a tree trunk. When they were all about 3 drinks in, their tongues began to loosen and their pool of topics grew wider.
"I still can't believe you haven't been to the Asylum Chain!" Z exclaimed, not quite slurring yet, but getting close.
Pause stepped in, "Yeah, we go there, what, three times a month, if we're not busy."
"But aren't a lot of those visits for trading and whatnot?" Kurt said. He was much more sober than the two of them, yet drunk enough not to be affected by the question.
"True," Coe said, "but we manage to get in one or two drinks in."
Beef laughed, "Or three or four or five or six."
"Beeeeef,” Pause whined, “You're making us look bad."
"Oh really?" he smirked, "I didn't know you guys needed help with that."
“Oh fuck off,” Pause replied, making a feeble attempt to push at his friend.
Behind them, the musicians, who had just been playing some slow sea shanty, picked up their instruments with renewed vigor and started playing a faster song, something more suitable for dancing. One by one, people all over the Dancing Lute began to congregate on to the area specified for dancing and before long people had to start pushing aside tables and chairs to make more room. Pause was now pulling on Beef’s arm, trying to get him to hurry while Beef was doing his best to get Kurt to join in.
“Come on, Kurt, it’s just dancing!” he exclaimed.
“I’m not really one for dancing,” Kurt replied, eyes flickering from his half empty glass of scotch to Beef.
Zisteau, who had previously had been just eavesdropping in on the conversation piped in.
"Well that's because you haven't had the right music," he pointed to the band in the corner, "Now there's a band who knows how to play."
"Oh," Kurt said, putting down his glass and turning toward Zisteau, "you've heard them play before?"
"Never before tonight," Zisteau admitted with a grin, "but if they're good enough for Aurey, they're good enough for me." He leaned against the counter, "Right, Aurey?"
Aureylian looked up from the other side of the bar, taking her eyes off pouring a couple of drinks for a couple of men. She gave a thumbs-up before returning to the drinks.
He looked back to Kurt and the others. "See?! She agrees!"
"That's only cause she can’t hear you," Pause said, half accusingly.
"Hey, I'm trying to help you two get Kurt off his ass. Don't go disproving me!"
Pause shrugged, grabbing onto Beef's arm, "Eh, I just want to get Beefy-kins in the dance floor with me," he turned, half dragging Beef away from the bar, "If you want to come, join us!"
When the two left, Zisteau looked at Kurt. The man's face was flushed, presumably from the alcohol. He was trying to covertly look at the band and crowd of people around it, but he wasn't doing such a good job of it.
Zisteau sighed, downing the last of his scotch in one go. He wasn't such a big fan of dancing, but for a friend- for Kurt, he was willing to do it.
Standing up, he walked so he was right in front of Kurt's view of the band and held out his hand. Kurt looked up, eyes traveling all the way up his body. He raised a single eyebrow in response, to which Zisteau sighed, not doing a damn thing to hide his exasperation.
"I don't want to watch you pine over the dance floor all night. So come on."
And Kurt did so, standing up and taking Zisteau's hand, something he wasn't expecting but was perfectly fine with. They walked to the area designated for dancing, which was almost the size of the entire floor by now, weaving in and out between people walking (and sometimes stumbling).
When they got closer to the band, the musicians were playing something heavy on drums, but with enough violin to get every person nearby dancing, and soon enough, everyone was moving their body this way and that, no one knowing the proper moves but with no one caring. The two looked to each other, neither have expecting what they got the other into. Finally, they grabbed the others hands and started dancing, letting the music tell them where to put their feet.
The songs ran together, a never ending cycle of fast and slow with Kurt and Zisteau feeling like they were in the center of it all, spinning and turning around each other. They had long since let go of their inhibitions, laughing when they accidentally bumped into someone else before they were at it again, moving with the song and the body of people around them. Zisteau was barely aware that he had let go of Kurt’s hands early on and now had his arms wrapped around Kurt’s waist.
He was finally beginning to see the appeal of dancing.
As the latest song slowed down and the two of them stopped laughing after nearly stepping on each other’s toes multiple times, their gazes locked and as Zisteau started into Kurt’s eyes, there was no question in them as to what to do next. He leaned across, eyes closing slowly and-
Pause butted in just at the last minute, as the band began to play a lively song.
“Partner switch! I call Zistykins!”
Zisteau stood in shock as Pause took Kurt’s place and he went over to where Beef was. It took Pause nudging him several times and other people bumping into him to get him to pick up his feet and dance along.
“What the hell was that?!” he exclaimed, shock and fury still evident. “I was gonna-”
“I know what you were going to do, you idiot, that’s why I did it!” Pause replied.
“You’re drunk, Z! How do you know that you wouldn’t have regretted that in the morning?”
“Because-” But he had no good answer. He was drunk, pretty damn drunk, so anything he said would be the drunk in him saying it.
Pause continued, “And how do you know Kurt wouldn’t of regretted it? What if you guys stopped talking cause it would be too awkward? Huh?”
Zisteau squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. He didn’t want to think of that, didn’t want to think of how his life was before meeting Kurt. Man, he hated when Pause was right, especially drunk Pause.
“Fine, I get it. You made your point. Now let’s dance, you asshole.”
Pause grinned, clearly happy with himself.
They danced for several fast songs and Zisteau couldn’t help but look into the crowd to see where Kurt and Beef were. When he was able to pick them out of the mob of people, all he could see was them laughing together, swaying with each other and looking like they were having the time of their lives.
He couldn’t help the constricting feeling on his heart.
When they parted and went back to their original partners, Pause gave him a pointed look before going back to Beef. Zisteau attention immediately zoned back to Kurt, who was smiling and sweating and looking happier than Zisteau had ever seen him.
This is much better. This is how it should be.
Finally, after what seemed like hours upon hours of dancing, the band started to play slower songs and after a brief look at one another, took that as their cue to stop dancing for the night. The two made their way back to the bar, both drenched with sweat and panting lightly. They sank into their stools, muscles aching, but it was a pleasant ache. It was the ache of doing something worthwhile. Zisteau raised his hand to call for Aureylian, but before he could wave, two glasses of scotch were put down in front to them. Both drank greedily, Kurt almost downing the entire glass in one go.
Zisteau smacked his lips when he was done with his glass. "Thank you Aureylian, you are a lifesaver."
"I think that's the first time anyone has mistaken me for her, but thanks," Zisteau turned to look and, sure enough, Aureylian wasn’t there. Instead, a man with tanned skin, brown hair, and wearing a brown tunic had taken Aurey's place as bartender. "She left a while ago, by the way."
He pointed to himself, "I'm Sevadus, but most people call me Sev."
Zisteau held out his hand to shake. "Guess we should be thanking you then for this life saving scotch."
Sev laughed, taking Zisteau's hand. "Yep! Well, if you need any more of it, holler and I'll fill it up."
As the night wore on, the music got fainter and the dance floor got smaller as more people decided to move tables back to sit and drink for the rest of the night. Sev had to refill the gas lamps several times before giving up and just dimming half of them, shrouding the half of the inn not by the bar in shadows. By now, Beef and Pause had rejoined them by the bar with Coe and Avidya nowhere to be found, probably having rented a room. And they all were beyond the point of tipsiness, swaying slightly in their chairs and slurring words.
Of course, Beef was still completely sober, which led to some interesting conversations between him and Pause
"Mmmmm?" Beef was still holding on to his water, more tired than anything.
"I don't think we need to go treasure hunting anymore."
Beef sighed, "And why's that, Pause?"
"You got all the booty I need.” Pause leaned over Beef, making pathetic attempts at grabbing said booty.
Beef sighed again, putting a hand at Pause’s chest to stop him from getting any closer. "If Etho could hear you right now, I don't think you'd have hands."
Pause tried reaching a few more times, each one not getting any closer than the last, before eventually giving up, leaning back with a huff.
And to Zisteau’s surprise, Kurt also got chatty as he got drunker.
“How come you always have your collar turned up?” Kurt asked, head tilted drastically to the side.
Zisteau faltered in response. The rest of the crew and his friends had just accepted the fact that that was how he wore collared shirts, he had never been asked that. When the silence continued, Kurt leaned forward.
“You’d look better,” Kurt said, “like this.” He set down his drink and dragged his hands up Zisteau’s shirt, fingertips just barely touching the fabric. He gripped the collar and shifted his hands so they were in position to fix his collar, but before he could do that, Zisteau grabbed Kurt’s wrists in a grip that was probably too tight, but he didn’t really care right now. He brought Kurt’s hands down and away from his collar.
“I didn’t know you were an expert on fashion, Kurt,” he said, a pathetic attempt to forget what just happened.
He let go of Kurt’s hands then. He pulled them back almost immediately, holding his hands close to his body as he rubbed circles where the surgeon had grabbed him. Zisteau felt a stab of pain go toward his heart when he saw the red marks he had left on Kurt’s wrist.
I didn’t mean to hurt you! I just- ugh… Way to ruin the night, Z.
The two fell into awkward silence. Zisteau turned toward the bar, sipping his drink and mentally berating himself for what just happened. Kurt turned the other way, mindlessly staring at the far wall. Their friends just looked to one another, silently communicating before making their way out of the bar, letting the two have their space.
Sev put two more scotches in front of them, the small tink of them hitting the table sounding loud in their ears while still being drowned out by the noises of the rest of the place. Zisteau grabbed his, taking a drink and glancing as Kurt took his.
The sound of glass breaking nearby made Zisteau go stiff for a moment, almost making him drop his glass. He turned to see Kurt, pale faced and back rigid. His right hand was holding an invisible drink, his real glass shattered on the floor. Zisteau put his hand on Kurt’s shoulder and was surprised when Kurt jumped a mile off of his seat.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Zisteau said softly. Kurt whipped around so he was facing Zisteau, panting heavily. Zisteau risked touching him again and was mildly happy that Kurt didn’t jump this time. Maintaining eye contact, he massaged Kurt’s shoulder, hoping that would help calm his friend down.
Around them, a few people were staring, muttering to one another while Sev walked around the bar, towel in hand. Kurt suddenly snapped his head to look back at the wall, breathing much more normally. He looked down, noticing the broken glass for the first time.
“Oh man, I- I’m sor-”
“It’s okay,” Sev said, “Happens all the time with usually more things broken. It’s nothing.”
Kurt didn’t seem convinced, but let it go anyway. He looked back to Zisteau, who was still grabbing his shoulder and staring at him.
“I didn’t mean-”
"Shhh, that doesn’t matter,” Zisteau said quietly. “You okay? It looks like you just saw a ghost."
Kurt swallowed, eyes flickering back to the wall, "I- I'm okay. I'll just, uh, I'm just going to get some fresh air. Bit stuffy here."
Shrugging off Zisteau’s hand, Kurt got up off the stood and headed towards the door, gaining speed with every step he took. Zisteau dug his nails into the bar top, wanting nothing more than to follow Kurt, but knowing he needed his space.
Whatever scared him is still in this place. Now what was he looking at?
Zisteau’s eyes scanned where Kurt had been looking at. There was nothing unusual; no pieces of paper pinned to the wall, no messages, nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing that could've possibly upset Kurt was the man.
He got up, trying to remain inconspicuous while getting closer to the man in the shadows.
The man looked, well, not normal, but not abnormal either. He was tall and probably would looks taller if he wasn’t leaned up against the wall. His black hair was slicked back. He was wearing black pants and a gray vest, showing off multiple scars on his chest and arms and also a large tattoo. From what he could see, it was a large black serpent of some sort, winding up and around his left arm. The head was hidden by his vest, but he was betting that its jaws were open, ready to strike.
One of the strangest things about the man was that despite Z never having seen this man before today, he couldn't shake off the feeling that he'd seen him before.
So of course, as the feeling lingered, Zisteau's drunken rationale increased and he decided to go right up and tell the guy just that.
As he got face to face with the man, he didn’t move. In fact, he seemed unscathed by Zisteau’s presence.
"You look familiar," Zisteau said, squinting his eyes, "have I threatened you before?"
The man only smiled and said, in a gravelly voice, "Trust me, if you have, you wouldn't be talking."
The man turned around and walked away. As he did so, he made a very deliberate attempt of reaching around and scratching his back, revealing part of the serpent’s head, which did look open.
"What a dick," Z muttered to himself.
Zisteau waked away, headed towards the exit, but not without leaving a generous tip for Sevadus and Aurey.
Outside was much cooler, a constant wind making gas lamps flicker and gave the street an eerie feel. The street itself was quiet, as were most of the buildings. Had he not just come out of the bustling bar, he would’ve felt like he and Kurt were the only two people on the island, and wouldn’t that be interesting?
Kurt was sitting in one of the rickety wooden chairs on the patio. His hands were clasped together, head on top of them, staring straight ahead at nothing. If he noticed Zisteau’s presence, he didn’t comment, too lost in his own train of thought.
The ship’s surgeon made no move to disrupt the silence. He just moved out on the way of the door and Kurt, content to lean against a wall.
It was only when the sky started to lighten did he speak.
“Ready to head back?”
Kurt looked up, not as quick to snap out of his daze as he would have if he wasn’t drunk.
“Yeah,” he said, voice cracking for a moment. He dropped his hands and got up, stretching his arms over his head.
A/N: Bit unrelated, but if you wanted to know, for the most part, everything I'm going to be writing for the main story is going to be something I knew I was going to write when I first had this idea more than a year ago
EDIT: I forgot to mention that the inspiration for Nebris' tattoo came from the lovely trend ficney started a while ago. Here's the original and here's some of the products.