"Seems like it's just a stable fracture and not fully broken," Markus said. "You were lucky."
"Lucky's not really the word I'd use about being trampled by a guy over twice my size," James said as he looked down on his left leg stretched out on the table in Cassandra's cabin, with a plastic spread underneath it. Markus was standing next to the table, squeezing various parts of James's left leg below the knee to figure out how damaged it was. "But I guess Muse got him away from me before he cracked it too much..."
"Well, we should get a cast on this to be safe, and it should be healed soon enough," Markus told him and put some rolls of bandage on the table. "I'm gonna need some water," he told Rink, who was sitting on the stairs leading down into the cabin, watching Markus and James. Muse had elected to stay outside, and Mirise was busy trying to plot some kind of course after their hasty exit from Kurita.
Markus and Rink had reached Cassandra a full fifteen minutes before the other three, and as soon as James had been laid down on a mattress in the cabin, Mirise had, with Muse's assistance, steered them away from the island and gotten them out into open waters. Not many even saw them leaving, and no one paid any specific attention to them. While Mirise figured that Taggart would delay it for at least a little while, people would eventually find out what they did even if they hopefully wouldn't find out who did it. Their first stop had certainly been something, at least, but Mirise hoped that they wouldn't get that much excitement at every island they landed on.
Rink stepped out on deck with an empty bucket in hand. Muse was sitting down next to the cabin door, tinkering with or cleaning her bow - Rink wasn't sure what, with how weird she found that thing. She didn't know much about weapons.
"So..." Muse begun. "How's the leg looking?"
"He'll be fine," Rink replied as she walked over to the edge of the boat and leaned over to fill up the bucket. "Wasn't even broken. He told me about the fight you had with that big guy, and from what I heard you both performed quite well."
"What about you?"
"Those bodyguards were nothing," Rink said. "I think I had the easiest job."
"With those powers of yours..."
"Devil powers are good to have but they're never the answer to everything," Rink replied as she opened the door back inside. "It's not always easy... and not being able to swim is kind of a bother."
"I can imagine," Muse said as Rink disappeared into the cabin and closed the door behind her. "Here's the water," she said as she descended the stairs and put the bucket on the table.
"Good," Markus said and started unrolling the bandages. "Could you hold his leg up for me?"
"Like this?" Rink said and raised James's left leg a bit.
"Ow! Be careful with that!" James exclaimed.
"Right, right, sorry," Rink said.
"That'll do nicely," Markus said as he dipped a length of bandage into the bucket and started wrapping it around the leg. A few rolls later, James's left leg was covered from just below the knee to the ankle. The freshest bandages were still dripping somewhat, but the plaster was drying and hardening quickly. "That should do it."
"Now what?" James asked.
"Now we wait for it to heal," Markus said. "Should be a couple of weeks, probably."
"Now you get off the table," Rink said.
"So can I walk now, or..."
"No, no, you have to avoid putting any weight on that leg until it's healed," Markus replied.
"So how am I going to get around?"
"We'll have to get you some crutches, but I don't have any with me," Markus said and looked around. "We'll get some on the next island... until then, well..."
"Until then, what?" James asked.
"You'll just have to keep still for the most part, but I guess... you could use this if you absolutely have to move until then, maybe?" Markus said and picked up Galt's cane that he had left standing against the cabin wall. James grabbed it and looked at it. It wasn't much longer than his leg, but...
"Well, fine," he said.
"And now you get off the table," Rink repeated. "I'll make us some dinner and then I think we all need a good night's sleep."
"Yeah, you're going to have to help me with that," James said as he started shifting around a little, obviously not used to having his leg locked like this.
"Fine," Rink said and turned to Markus. "Let's lift him down..."
"Right," Markus said. "We just have to keep his leg straightened..."
"One and... two," Rink said as they picked James up and put him down on the wooden bench to the left of the table, his leg stretched out on it. Markus rolled up the plastic spread he had put on the table and put it back in his bag, along with any other equipment he had used.
"So what's on the menu?" Markus asked Rink as she went over to the kitchen corner of the cabin. It was situated immediately to the right of the stairs when entering the cabin, and consisted mostly of a wooden bench with cupboards over and under it, as well as a small cast iron stove with two hot plates and a small oven compartment.
"Onion soup," Rink replied. "You can come help me slice the onions. I understand you know a thing or two about cutting."
"Sure thing," Markus replied and joined Rink. She got a pot and a cutting board out of the cupboards, as well as a few onions that she handed over to Markus. He got a knife from the knife block (one of several additions to the kitchen that Rink had made before they left Avasine) standing on the bench and started cutting as Rink lit the fire in the stove, before she returned back out to get some things from the storage space under the front deck.
By now, Mirise had joined Muse at the front of the ship. She was holding a folded map under her arm and was looking at the night sky through a sextant.
"Any progress?" Rink asked.
"I think so," Mirise replied without looking at her. "I think we're on a proper course, but I won't know for sure until the sun goes up. How's James?"
"He'll live," Rink said and opened the hatch in the middle of the deck. "He won't be walking properly on his own for a while though."
"That's good, at least," Mirise said and lowered her instrument to look at her map again, but looked over at Rink as she crouched down in the storage first. "Oh, are you making dinner? I was getting a bit hungry."
"After what we've done tonight I think we all are," Rink replied from below.
"You want any help?" Mirise asked as she studied her map for a bit before folding it back up.
"I already put Markus to work," Rink answered as she came back up holding a bottle of wine, a small bag of flour and a few other assorted ingredients. "There's not really room for more than two people in that corner we call a kitchen anyway. You focus on making sure we're going the right way, I'll call you when it's done."
"I'm done for tonight anyway," Mirise said and folded her map back up. "I'll come inside."
"If you want to," Rink said and looked over at Muse. "You coming as well?"
"I'll stay out a little longer, thanks," Muse replied. "Just tell me when it's time to eat..."
"Sure thing," Rink said as she went back into the cabin, Mirise following.
"So what are we having?" she asked.
"Soup," Rink answered as she placed her ingredients on the bench and dropped a lump of butter into the pot. "Done with those?"
"Just about," Markus replied with a sniff and tears in his eyes.
"You okay?" Mirise asked.
"Oh, yeah, it's just onions," Markus said with a chuckle.
"Oh," Mirise said and sat down at the table, across from James. "How are you doing?"
"I've been better," he replied. "And I've been worse."
"So, um... how was your fight with Atlas, anyway?"
"It was... something, all right," James replied. "I thought we were done for at least twice..."
"But you won," Mirise replied.
"Yeah, somehow... I still can't believe we actually did that."
"It was for a good cause."
"Good cause or not, it almost got me killed."
"I guess that... when you want to do the right thing..."
"It's not always the safe thing to do," James filled in. "It's something you have to learn."
"You... don't consider it my fault, do you?"
"What, the leg? Nah, don't worry about it," James said. "You wanted to help, and I'm pretty sure that even without you Rink would have roped me into it anyway. Don't get me wrong, it's good that you want to do the right thing, but sometimes self-preservation has to come first, y'know? Being out on a journey like this... it's not going to be like your Avasine life."
"I've understood that," Mirise said with a nod.
"You're not regretting coming with us, do you?"
"Oh, not at all," Mirise said. "You're right... I do have a lot to learn about this kind of life. But I want to learn, and being around people like you two, and mister Flint and miss Muse... I'm sure I'll figure it out."
"So anyway, you seem to have gotten out of your thing unharmed... whatever it was you did."
"I fought mister Taggart," Mirise said. "It wasn't a long fight, but... he was strong."
"You seem to have come to some sort of agreement, given that you weren't really doing anything when we found you," James said.
"We... talked," Mirise said. "He cares for the island... I think he understood what we were doing and why. If there's someone that's going to make sure that the island is alright after all that... it's him. I'm sure of it."
"We can at least hope," Markus said from the kitchen. "Kurita's going to need someone to hold it together... and hopefully... it will be someone who cares."
Cassandra hadn't been built to accommodate five people, and it showed. Even without James taking up a whole bench on his own, they would have had to bring in the storage chest for someone to sit on (currently shared by Mirise and Muse) and there wasn't a whole lot of room left on the table with bowls and glasses of water and wine (whatever was left in the bottle Rink had used for the soup) for all of them.
"This is quite delicious," Markus stated after a few spoonfuls. "I didn't know you were a cook too!"
"I'm far from being a cook," Rink, sitting next to him, replied with a chuckle. "I just... like cooking."
"You have to have learned it somewhere," James said. "Everything you've made so far has been really good."
"Well, there's... I used to travel on a ship with a larger crew and I was on kitchen helping duty a lot," Rink explained. "So I picked up a few things there, and I keep some cookbooks around... I didn't cook much while I lived in Avasine, though. Sometimes they'd let me use the hotel kitchen when there weren't any guests, but with the salary I had I could afford to eat out every day... or, y'know, I'd just eat at the hotel."
"Well, your cooking's great anyway," James said and continued eating.
"Agreed," Mirise said. "I can't cook this well."
"You chose the right traveling partners," Markus said with a nod towards James.
"I don't know if that's true all the time," James replied and looked down on his leg.
"Hey," Rink said.
"But they're certainly interesting," James continued with a smile. "And the good has outweighed the bad so far."
"So how long until the next island, anyway?" Markus asked Mirise.
"Four days, I think," she replied.
"That eager to get away from us?" Rink asked.
"The sooner the better," Muse added.
"Actually..." Markus said and looked at James. "I was thinking... maybe it's for the best if I stick around until your leg has healed fully."
"I don't know if-" James begun.
"Is that really necessary?" Muse asked.
"It's not a serious fracture, but it could get worse if you're not careful..." Markus said.
"I don't mind you staying, but it's James's ship," Rink said.
"We're friends already," Mirise said. "So..."
"Rather than that, there's..." James said and looked at Muse.
"I don't want to stay either," she replied to his unspoken statement.
"Well... you don't have to stay," Markus said. "You made a promise to me, but... we've taken care of Galt."
"But..." Muse started.
"Okay, okay," Rink said, as if to interrupt the argument that hadn't really started yet. "It's been a long and exhausting day for all of us... let's eat up and then sleep on it. We'll talk about it in the morning."
"I agree," Markus said and continued eating, with the rest of the meal taking place in silence. They emptied the pot, cleared the table (leaving doing the dishes to the next day) and started preparing for the night - which was something they had not thought much about until now...
"Well, he's not sleeping in the hammock with that leg," Rink said and nodded towards James after having rolled out her mattress. Mirise was sitting on hers, having changed into her pyjamas already.
"Absolutely not," Markus said. "You only have those two mattresses?"
"Yep, for me and Mirise," Rink answered. "So..."
"I guess... I'll take the hammock, then?" Markus said.
"I guess James can take mine," Mirise said and stood up. "We'll figure this out."
"We'll just have to share," Rink said with a shrug and a smile. "I've always got room for one more, but I guess there's three of us."
"Don't worry about me," Muse said. She had wrapped a weaved blanket around herself and sat down in the corner on the other side of the cabin.
"You're going to sleep like that?" Rink asked and raised her eyebrow.
"Why not?" Muse replied.
"Well, whatever makes you happy," Rink said.
"I don't think anything does," James offered.
"Hush, James," Rink said. "Well, I assume you need help to get into bed now too."
"That... would be appreciated."
"Here goes," Rink said as she and Markus lifted James down onto the mattress. He quickly closed his eyes as Rink started changing into her nightgown before laying herself down as well.
It didn't take long until most of them were sleeping soundly - Mirise in between James and Rink on Mirise and Rink's combined mattresses, Markus in James's hammock and Muse in her corner. The only one still awake was James, his sleep being delayed by still not being used to the feeling of the cast on his leg. What they had done over the last couple of hours was finally sinking in... it wasn't the kind of thing he had expected to partake in during this journey, but if what Markus had said was true... Kurita would be better off thanks to them. Mirise had been right - it was for a good cause, and even if it was better if nobody else knew he had been part of it, James still felt a bit proud for having done it. Maybe there was something to this whole doing-the-right-thing business, after all.