A crisp, clean white shirt and a smooth, satin blue cravat that made Thomas lift his chin in the mirror of his father's home; his home. Mother sat downstairs in the living room with a cup of Earl Grey. All was well again. He had paid his own bounty and opened up a bank account for his mother. Books of aroma therapy sat on shelves collecting dust as the former sky captain smiled at books on forensic science. He would rejoin the justice system with a container of volcanic ash in his pocket and possibly a scalpel in his hand. This was life from now on. No running, no gun barrels except for the weaponry he would use to compare samples during ballistic investigations, no pirates,….no pirates. That was behind him, his days of leading the rough life and joining ships out of desperation. This was better. This was how he was raised. This was how it was meant to be. A bell rang and Thomas left his room, shined shoes clacking on marble flooring as they quickened down steps while the man adjusted the cuff of his sleeve. 

   "A miss Chrysanthemum Merrenhaw, sir," curtsied Margerie, one of the maids, as Thomas' fiancee smiled into the room with a sweet sunny smile. Thomas had to admit, she was amiable and sweet, beautiful but not intimidating. Sunny blonde hair fell halfway down her back in tempered waves that curled at the bottom. Her green eyes were big with a childish light catcher that made her seem younger than Thomas, much younger, even though she was only a year below him. Flat, but sculptured lips, perfect for the smile of a mischievous young lady, stayed to a limited, appropriate smirk until Thomas reached the bottom of the steps where they opened for a delighted grin. She was a bit shorter than many girls but not so much that she was stumpy. A light pink day dress with brown leather lacing at the back fit her form splendidly. Yes, Chrysanthemum would do nicely to be shown off at balls and dinner parties. If only she weren't so….

    "I'm sorry to have come without invitation. I just wanted to surprise you." Chrysanthemum curtsied. 

    "it's alright, Chrys, I'm not engaged with anything important at the moment. Would you like to take a stroll through the park? Perhaps have lunch? A cup of tea?" Thomas asked gentlemanly, 

    "I'm so sorry. It wouldn't be any trouble, would it? Are you not actually busy? You don't have to be polite, I can take it." Chrys backed up a little when Thomas stepped forward for a hug. Yes, if only she weren't so shy and unconfident. Thomas was never amused by the way ladies were brought up these days. They were always taught to be modest to the point where it was drilled into them until the concept morphed accidentally into a defaulted, unnecessary, overdose of shame. Chrys was always saying sorry for things that she didn't need apologize for and it made Thomas' want to punch a child. 

    "Chrys, I offered the walk." Thomas forced a smile. The girl thought for a moment and nodded, realizing how silly she was being. 

     That night at his own flat, he grabbed a bottle of scotch out of his kitchen and poured himself a drink as he went to studying but halfway through the first page of his book, he found he couldn't concentrate. He thought about his betrothal to Chrysanthemum  Merrenhaw and his mother sitting down in the living room, not speaking to him. He thought about that big house and the number of parties he would have to host in order for it not to feel empty. Would he even have children? Of course he would. He would have to continue the family line. It was expected. Everything was expected and foreseen and planned. Staring out his window with the bottle of scotch in his hand, he took a swig as rain glistened on the street. Down below an automaton in a grey jacket walked along with a package as children came up and threw pebbles at it. Would he have preferred to be low born? Probably not but who knows what adventures could have occured on the S.S Silver Widow if he had not provoked Arabella into throwing him out. Even then, he could have started a crew of his own and fought against the system. Still, what made him come back? The gears turned in his head as he took another swig of scotch and another. He didn't even know what he wanted. Minutes went on, looking out that window until he pulled up a chair and stared out. Another swig of scotch. All these decisions and paths and no way to choose. Another swig of scotch. The only thing he could do…burn it down. Burn down one option so he couldn't go back. 

     "Burn it." Thomas Dunning whispered in the dim light of his flat. "Burn it down." 


     "Why can't we just cut the bars in the cell window and pull her through?" Dominique asked. 

     "No, it's too high and too small. She has nothing to stand on too. Jabber used to grab my things from the front counter and drop my gun through the window so i could shoot my way out. He also used to get the key for me." Arabella rested a defeated head in a defeated palm as she leaned on the dock house table. Ben sat across from her and Marlow paced around the table. 

     "Where has that furry thing been anyways?" The french woman asked, leaning back in her position a bit. Ara just shrugged. 

      "Probably with Sam and Zachary by now." She said. 

     "Maybe we don't need to necessarily work with the window." Marlow pointed out, "Do we know if she'll be hung?" Ben sighed and tilted his head to look up to the ceiling past the rafters. Spiders seemed to sleep in their webs and Ben wanted to do the same with his bed. "Why don't we get her at the gallows?" Marlow continued. 

     "And risk her neck breaking before we can get to her? We can't risk the timing of that. They'll be keeping her in there for at least a few days." Ara argued. Dominique gave a hum of approval and sat on the table, facing her friend. 

     "Why has no one thought of undercover yet?" Ben chimed in.

     "They know me too well. We'll get caught." 

     "Who said you would be the cop?" Dominique smiled as everyone turned their head to her. Grins played on everyone's face but the confused Ara. 

      "Well, I might as well stay at the ship th-" Ara looked around the room as she realized what the others were thinking. "No,…" She said at first but then thinking about Captain Bennet she looked up at the others. "Oh, dammit! fine! Do what you want!" 

      Charlotte jumped awake when the charcoal covered man was pushed to the ground in her cell. The full jail cells shook with excitement and noise as the other prisoners shouted nasty things to the cops. The man hunched in his place, pulling his knees up to be on all fours, brown hair disheveled. He coughed and fell to his side until the two officers came back, one with a bucket that he tilted over Charlotte's new cell mate, a giant splash of water crashing down on the poor man, causing his stomach to hit the floor again. 

      "Welcome back to the yard, captain." One of the coppers snickered, receiving a high five from his friend as they walked off, throwing the bucket on the floor. The blackened figure coughed again, his grey smeared white shirt bright in the sun while his face hid in the shadows as he curled up and lay down on patches of straw. the girl stared at him for a long time before realizing that he wasn't going to start conversation. Did he even know she was there? 

      "you a regular around here or something?" She asked. There was no response as he readjusted his position by shuffling his back side around a bit, sniffling in and clearing his throat. "Are you deaf or rude?" She asked a bit louder. The man's head seemed to move towards his chest as he turned his ear as far as he could towards Charlotte. 

      "I used to work here." there was a sort of feeling in his voice that Charlotte couldn't quite make out. 

      "What did you do that they threw you in a cell?" She asked. 

       "I burnt down my flat building." 

       "How'd that work out for you?" 

       "Nothing, left…" He said slowly in a hushed tone that made her want to scoot back a few paces into her own corner.

       "Do you have a name?" she dug further,

        "It's Thomas." He replied. Her mouth dropped open a bit before a look of irritability rose onto her countenance.

        "You don't even recognize me damn voice!" she stood up slowly and Thomas turned on his back a little to see who he was talking to. The pirate's hands clasped strongly to her hips as she rested with one foot slightly more forward than the other. 

        "Charlotte Bennet?"

        "No, Queen bloody Victoria!"


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