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i.

It is their third or fourth time hunting together, and they are still becoming accustomed to always having an eye on one another, watching for signals.

This is how Crusoe ends up in a metal cage. It swallows him, springing from the ground when he steps on it, the bars closing in on him inch by inch, powered by some hidden clockwork.

There's an inscription on the inside of one of the metal slats, and Friday leans across to read it aloud in Portuguese. He translates it to English the best he can, filling in the words he doesn't know with their French counterparts, as he has taken to doing.

Crusoe still doesn't understand fully. Something about a treasure and a curse. Hogwash.

"Friday, I approximate that I have perhaps ten minutes more of mobility in this small prison, and no more than a half hour until I am crushed, if the bars continue to move at their current rate." Friday says nothing, but eyeballs the cage and nods, apparently having gotten the gist. Crusoe sighs. "Anything helpful?" he asks hopefully, tapping the carved words with his finger and craning his neck to look at his companion.

"No helpful." Friday shrugs and starts looking around for anything that might be of use. "No worry, Crusoe. I find way for you safe."

He does, and it is the first time Friday saves Crusoe's life.

ii.

Olivia keeps up an impressive pace for such a little person, and Crusoe is grateful. They are making their way back to the treehouse from the cliffs, Crusoe following a few steps behind the young surgeon. Friday is ill, a violent stranger in a cage he and Crusoe had built together.

"Olivia?" he calls, and she doesn't break her stride, but instead turns to face him, walking backward for a few steps then turning back around, just acknowledging him. Crusoe continues, "You said before that I shouldn't have introduced Friday to Paradise Lost." He walks a few steps in silence, casting a weary eye across the jungle out of habit. "Am I to blame for Friday's madness? Could we have avoided all this? Or would a Sonnet have taken root in Friday's mind as Paradise Lost has?"

She doesn't answer right away, but he can see a smile on her delicate cheekbones as they round a bend in the trail. "Probably so. But I imagine his illness would have revealed itself very differently had it been the Sonnets."

Crusoe might not have been able to discern her meaning were it not for the derisive laughter in her voice. "Oh," he conceded, eyebrows raised. "Probably for the best I went with Milton, then."

Olivia laughs openly now, joyfully, at Crusoe's expense, but her pace doesn't slow.

iii.

"You have told me that you made a vow to your wife, and that this vow created a sacred bond." They are on the edge of the jungle, just above the beach, watching Crusoe's latest and greatest chance of escape sail into the sunset along with the righted mutiny. "I would like to make such a vow to you now, Crusoe."

Crusoe's mouth opens wordlessly and Friday catches a glint in his eye. Then, "Friday, my time here has been trying, but I doubt that I shall ever miss my wife that much."

Friday rolls his eyes and clenches his jaw in the manner of someone who has suffered long and with no prospects for reprieve. Then he continues as if Crusoe hadn't spoken. "You have given up the thing that was the most important to you, in order to protect my freedom. I will use that freedom to ensure that you some day return to England, Crusoe. That is my vow."

"Friday." Crusoe clasped his friend's shoulder. "You have no debt to me. You have saved my life more times than I care to recall. If we were to keep score, I should save you a hundred times over and still find myself in your debt.

Friday's smile shone in the fading light. "Then we shall serve each other, my friend."

Crusoe smiles back. "As long as we both shall live."

iv.

On a rare restful day when they're stocked up on fruit and it's hot enough that neither cares to hunt, Friday and Crusoe go to the beach to cool off. Crusoe digs his toes into the sand while Friday throws a stick for Dundee again and again.

Friday is happy on the island. Certainly the conditions aren't ideal; there are many things he would like to have--things that not long ago he would have said he couldn't live without, and although he now finds he can live without them, he'd prefer not to.

But despite his yearnings, he's happy here. Happy enough that his strongest desires to leave these shores come in the form of the sympathetic pain of a true friend. Crusoe had been stranded here for far longer than his companion, but unlike Friday, the Englishman's yearnings have not abated.

While Crusoe stares out over the waves, Friday throws the stick and considers the nature of Crusoe's bond with his woman. How it is stretched across the vast ocean and years of absence, but it seems as strong as though it weren't stretched at all, and likewise unweathered by time.

Friday knows that the connection gives Crusoe the strength to never abandon his hope of returning to his people, no matter how many times he meets with failure. Crusoe once referred to his Susannah as a beacon, calling him home over the endless leagues.

But Friday also sees an unpleasantness there. What dark magic would keep Crusoe's soul in one place while his mind and body were trapped here?

Shaking himself from his thoughts, Friday notices that Dundee has given up on him and left the stick at his feet. The dog has retreated to the shade of a large rock, still panting from the pressing heat and his exertions a few minutes prior. A wave washes over Friday's bare feet and he picks up Dundee's stick to keep it from being washed away. Dundee's eyes follow his movements and his mouth closes in concentration, but otherwise he doesn't move, and Friday smiles.

Yes, he could be happy here for a good while more. The island provides for them, and he has books to read and plenty to learn and to teach, and oddly full and exciting days and the occasional boring day like this to relish.

He glances down the beach at Crusoe, who is standing in the water, trousers wet up to the thigh, his eyes serious and locked into the line of the horizon as though he might see her there.

Friday reels back and throws the stick over the water with all his might, and Dundee is out there after it before Friday can even blink. The stick flies across Crusoe's view, but his eyes remain fixed afar. Friday shivers in the heat.