They're back to not talking to each other, just like when the ship set sail. Merida hates it. Elsa avoids her like the plague now, only talking to her when there's absolutely no other way.
Merida is fine with it. Or at least, that's what she tells herself. She isn't going to be the first one to try and engage in conversation again. If Elsa doesn't want her around, she'll give her exactly that what she wishes for.
She uses the time she has for herself to spend more time with the crew. Hiccup proves himself to be a great friend, and Tadashi and Hiro are pretty cool too. Hiccup wasn't kidding when he said he'd find a great crew; Wiesel was the only person to think about mutiny, the rest are loyal and friendly. As friendly as pirates can possibly be, that is.
Elsa is still on the back of Merida's mind, though. No matter how hard she tries, she can't forget about the blonde pirate. She finds herself hoping Elsa will just take the initiative and talk to her again. Which doesn't seem to be happening any time soon, but they're still on this ship together, with that deal they made some time ago, and Elsa can''t avoid her forever. Merida is tired of making amends all the time and swore to herself to stubbornly wait for Elsa to make things right this time.
The only thing that really clears her mind of the Captain, is dinner time. She eats with the crew, laughs with them. Elsa is never there, probably eats alone (it doesn't surprise Merida at all). The food isn't anything to write home about, but it's good enough. Cook does her job and makes edible meals out of food that looks like something her mother would've had the servants throw in the trash weeks ago.
She watches as Hiccup pours her a bowl of hot soup.
"There ya go." He says with a smile.
Merida gratefully accepts the soup. It still surprises her that the food is so different from what she got at home, much simpler. She loves it that way. Learning to eat it wasn't difficult at all.
Not that she wouldn't eat it if she didn't like it. She wouldn't get anything else and she's seen how Cook looks at the people who think the food is disgusting. Hiro claims that Cook can kill grown men with a mere teaspoon, and while she doubts his credibility, she is not going to test it.
So she spends another evening laughing and talking with the crew. Also drinking. Pirates really do have the best rum, and she's happy she's good at handling alcohol. It takes a lot to get her drunk, a skill that comes in handy in this kind of life.
After two bowls of soup and three glasses of rum, Hiccup gently reminds her that it is her turn to help Cook with the dishes, wearing a smug grin; He had to help yesterday, now he watches how Merida suffers.
Doing dishes isn't that horrible. Cook is an excellent conversation partner (Certainly better than a pirate captain she knows).
Merida has decided that she likes Cook. Heck, she likes everyone. Elsa too, even if the woman is a damn idiot.
A sexy idiot, that is.
Fuck. This is exactly what she did not want. She's falling for a pirate, the coldest one, one who might not even like her… at all. She should want to kill pirates, not kiss them, dammit.
As if reading Merida's thoughts, Cook steers their conversation to another subject: Captain Elsa Arens.
"Do me a favour, Merida." Cook points at a bowl of soup on the table with the spoon she's washing. "Bring that to the captain when you're finished, will you?"
Merida nods, putting a now dry glass down. "She hasn't eaten yet?"
Cook focuses on her dishes again. "See, the captain eats only when she tells me to make her something, and it's been two days. Girl's got to eat something, right?"
Two days. Two fucking days. Elsa, what the hell is wrong with you?
Merida contemplates it. Part of her wants to say no, wants to let Elsa take care of this herself. It's a weak attempt to keep her promise to herself. She goes over the list of character traits and other things she has mentally noted, and asks herself: 'Would Elsa overwork herself so much that she forgets about eating?'
The conclusion she reaches is: Yes. Yeah, she goddamn would. She doesn't know if that realization or the fact that she's most definitely going to break her vow to herself frustrates her more.
"Sure, I'll do it. No problemo, Cook!" She throws the towel down to get the soup, but Cook pulls her back.
"No way in hell, young lady. Dishes first!"
Well, it almost worked.
She can't just let Elsa starve, she decides. She cares about the girl more than she probably should, and if she has to move mountains to get Elsa to eat, then that's what she'll do
Don't fall asleep. Don't dare to fucking fall asleep.
Elsa rubs her eyes. She's tired, exhausted, but the guaranteed nightmares are enough to keep her awake. She's good at avoiding, does it all the time. She can't avoid sleeping forever, she'll sleep eventually, but not now. Now is not the time.
Speaking of time, she doesn't even have enough of that to sleep. She has the book, that little book on magic she got when she involuntarily stayed at Motunui. It has to be translated. She needs to figure out everything, to find out what's happening to her, to find out more about the hypnosis she suspects Hans is using. It can't wait. Sleep is less important than the mess that is this book and its content.
The translation has proven to be difficult. With nothing but Chief Moana's notes on the language to aid her in her work and the issue of the Tokelauan language being an absolute mess, the task is time-consuming and incredibly frustrating.
She is rudely awakened from her semi-asleep state by someone swinging the door open. She panics a little when she sees all the red hair. She is so not ready for this confrontation, no matter what it's going to be about.
Merida marches in and sets a bowl of soup down on the desk, almost spilling a little on her carefully translated documents.
"Merida, what are you doing?" She asks, more confused than annoyed, while trying to collect her papers in a calm, non-suspicious way.
The expression on Merida's face is mix of anger and concern. "Cook told me you haven't eaten anything in two days."
Oh. She forgot again. She doesn't know how to explain to Merida that she doesn't need the food, that if she forgot, she probably just wasn't hungry and that she doesn't even have time to eat, she has to get her work done.
Apparently she's taking too long to answer, because Merida feels the need to explain what's happening.
"This is soup. It's something you can eat. And you are going to eat it, that's for sure." Merida pulls the familiar chair up again to sit down, which is strangely comforting.
Elsa is about to just get over with it and eat to get Merida out of here fast, when she remembers she's the captain of the ship. She's not going to be bossed around by a random hot girl, and wait, what was that adjective? Oh god, this isn't happening. The lack of sleep must be getting to her.
"As captain, I refuse your offer." She slowly states, reaching out to grab her quill pen to start writing again.
Merida literally slaps it out of her hand, with just enough carefulness to not injure her. "As someone who cares about the captain's health, I demand you accept my offer."
She cares. Why does Merida still care about her? Elsa can't say she's treated the other girl with a lot of kindness the last few days. And why is she so glad that Merida doesn't hate her after all?
"I'm going to sit here until you eat. I have time, I can do this all night, every night." Merida crosses her arms, still staring at Elsa with that mixed look.
Merida isn't going to let this go, not today. Elsa can feel it. So she yields and tells herself it's because she wants the redhead to leave quickly and that it's definitely not because Merida saying that she cares made her feel a little better.
"Fine, I'll eat. Only because you asked so politely."
Merida's face lights up, not even bothering to comment on Elsa's last sassy remark.
The soup does taste good, especially after two days of nothing at all. Merida keeps watching, making sure she does eat everything.
"Are you happy now?" Elsa shoves the empty bowl off of her paperwork.
"Very." Merida picks up the bowl and gets ready to leave, when she suddenly gets an idea. "By the way, we're gonna do this every night."
"You heard me. I'll eat with you instead of with the crew."
"...Why would you want that?"
"I don't want you to die because of your ridiculous stupidity." Merida opens the door, but Elsa walks up to her and stops her. She needs an answer.
"You know, I don't understand you either! I keep pushing you away, but no matter what I do, you come back. Why are you still trying to get close to me? Why can't you just hate me already?"
Merida closes the door again, realizing the conversation isn't over yet. "Why would I hate you?"
Damn it. She's revealing too much. "…Because I'm a pirate…"
liar. It's because you're a monster.
"Do you want me to hate you?" Merida asks slowly, as if she's trying to solve a challenging puzzle.
"Yeah. Yes. Well, no, not really, no." Elsa doesn't know what she wants anymore.
"Can you explain that?" Elsa sees that Merida tries to be careful with what she says, probably hoping to steer clear of another fight. There's not a high chance of more fighting; Elsa is too tired to try.
"I... I hurt… everyone." She manages to choke out. It's not even a lie; it's part of why Merida should stay away, though it's not the main one. The magic. The magic can hurt her. Elsa can hurt her. "My parents died becauae of me. Anna and Kristoff… I don't even know, but whatever they're going through, it's my fault. Hiccup losing his leg was my fault."
It's the truth, nothing bit the truth, and yet, it's still.a lie.
"Is that why I shouldn't get close to you?"
"It's why you should stay the hell away from me. For your own good."
Merida is radiating conflicted feelings; if Elsa had to guess, she'd say that Merida's thought process is a mix of 'I sort of understand but I think it's ridiculous and I'm not sure if I can handle you and all your goddamn complications'. But of course, that's just a thought.
"Listen… I want to make another deal with you."
Elsa finds herself nodding. This is business. She can talk business.
"You stop shutting me out, or at least try to, and I promise you I won't let you hurt me, while I doubt that's a thing that could happen. Deal?"
Oh, you wouldn't know how badly I'll hurt you. I'll break your heart into a thousand pieces and tear you apart with cursed snow and ice. It'll hurt me more than you can imagine, it'll destroy both of us. It's what I do. It's what monsters do.
Elsa doesn't speak that scarily disturbing thought out loud. She knows she needs to refuse this, needs to make Merida just go away, away from her, so she can't be hurt in any fucked up way. But she knows it won't lead anywhere. Merida is too stubborn and reckless to know what's good for herself and she won't leave Elsa alone, she's proven that. She's not leaving. She has to leave, but she doesn't. Because she cares.
And secretly, Elsa is extremely happy she does.
"Deal." With that one word, she seals both of their fates. There is no way back.
Merida pulls Elsa into a hug. "Awesome! Thanks! Oh, wait…" She quickly releases the pirate, blushing slightly.
Elsa wants to yell at her for touching her and risking getting hurt by cruel ice, but it would reveal everything. She goes with her other option: be nice and say you don't mind. "Oh, uh, doesn't matter. It's fine." Again, only half of a lie. Hugs are nice, she likes hugs.
"Yeah, still a little... embarassing…. I'll just… leave... as in, right now." Merida practically runs put of the cabin, while Elsa watches with a tiny smile tugging at her lips.
The paperwork can wait; maybe it's time to get some sleep.