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Deep Waters, Strange Bedfellows

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The Dolorosa can't tell how long it's been since That Day. In fact, she can't even tell what day of the week it is. She hasn't felt the brush of daylight on her face in what feels like a year, but surely can’t be, and she hasn't heard a friendly voice in what feels like longer. Her wrists ache from stiffness and the sores worn open from weeks spent in shackles. If she were to be given one wish, it would be for death. There isn't anything left to live for, after all, and with each hour that passes she finds it more and more difficult to remember how to pronounce her name, how to speak, how to be civilized.

It's worse than darkness. Worse than living underground with the rocky sky pressing down on her like a blunt guillotine, worse than sitting in a jail cell with a shaking child curled against her begging for her to leave him. It's worse than anything because, oh heavens, she's alive. She's alive and they're not, she's alive and she's trapped she's alive and-- well, she could go on. She could go on for days, screaming until her teeth shattered.

She's not the only one here. She knows that much. There are hundreds of them, chained up beside one another like dangerous dogs, creatures broken yet still feared. The pretty ones-- the ones that will sell fast-- are stuck up front where they're kept in pristine condition, spoiled and petted-- in and off of the market in the space of a few days.

The Dolorosa had been up there at first. Until her first potential buyer had grabbed her jaw to inspect her teeth and she'd bitten off three of his fingers. Her owners hadn't killed her, as she'd expected. They'd beaten her within an inch of her life and apologized profusely to the poor, innocent victim and, as quickly as possible, had moved her further back. Undesirable, she was marked. Undesirable and dangerous-- but rare. Rare blood, which makes her life worth something. To shed a drop of it is an offense meriting the highest penalty and, while she's very clearly fallen from grace, none of the traders are willing to be the one to heft the blade-- nor are they willing to lower her price.

She can't fathom why none of them simply turn her in for what must be a massive reward. She's not meant to be here, she knows that much. If the world had gone as it should have, they would have put her to death alongside her children. The reward for her literal head has to be far higher than the payoff for selling her, and yet day after day she remains where she is.

No one speaks to her, except to snarl and jab at her. No one wants to risk incurring her wrath because they're afraid of what they've found and shackled. She remains their, hand chained to hand, wrists to feet, coarse leather collar around her throat that's fastened so tightly it's bruising. Whenever someone pauses at her side and says: "she's a beauty," they're warned off immediately.

She can't what day it was when someone stopped before her and wasn't immediately warned off. The slave master walks past with a potential buyer in tow and, when his the buyer hesitates before her, he doesn't issue a disclaimer. The small, cherished fragment of fighting spirit she has left is smug to know how frightened they are. The rest of her, the part that's bruised and still listening to long-silenced screams of agony, begs for death. If she's purchased and fights back, her owner-- her jaw twitches as she reaches the 'w' in her mind-- will kill her for sure. Just let him buy her, please, please, she'll do anything, just buy her so she can go ahead and die.

"Who's this?" He asks, softly, crouching down before her. Rosa wants to bare her teeth, snarl, lash out, to do something that makes her able to tell her pride 'See, you're still scary! You're not pathetic!' but she's tired. She's so tired, no matter how long she sleeps. Even though she's mildly sure she's being drugged to keep her quiescent which, honestly, is the best course of action for everyone involved in this exchange.

Still, even if she cared enough to fight back, she couldn't say a word or even bare her fangs, her two best defense mechanisms. They'd finally summoned the courage to gag her with a strip of cloth, unsure of what she'll snarl out and afraid of what her teeth can do. When the man, a muscular troll with dark gray skin and a shock of white hair, reaches out a hand for her, she flinches away. He jolts away immediately, holding his hands up by his shoulders as if offering apology to an angry housecat.

"My apologies, Miss." He says, reaching up to doff an imaginary hat. It's a wholly bizarre piece of courtesy and the Dolorosa's reasonably sure that she and the slave master would exchange similarly stymied looks if they were on speaking terms. "Didn't mean to upset you. Just wanted to get a better look at you, that's all."

He gives her an awkward smile and she feels her shoulders slump. Oh hell. He's nice. Look at that face. Look at him. He looks like the kind of person who'd go out of his way to help someone else, even if that cost him a fortune. Probably the sort of man who'd defend a stranger's honor by insisting on dueling the offender at dawn, or some such nonsense. She can't hurt him. It's one matter to bite the hand of a trader interested in owning her body, it's quite another thing entirely to bite of the hand of a man polite enough to show an enslaved woman some kindness. Rosa doesn't know why; if he's here in the first place he can't be that good of a person. Maybe he's a philanthropist? Buying women and setting them free? That happens, doesn't it? She sounds like her son, finding the beauty in anyone who ever hurt him. Answering the door to the armed forces there to arrest him, knowing there was nothing left to do but surrender in a way that would keep his loved ones alive. Not that it did any good, considering that three out of the four of them are dead and number four is trying to convince herself that the man crouched down in front of her is going to be nice to her.

When he reaches out for her once more, she forces herself to remain still. No flinching. No reacting to the potential for pain. No shuddering. To her utter bewilderment he reaches out with a slow, steady hand and loosens her gag. The fabric, already threadbare and mangy when it was tied, can barely hold the knot. When he finally pulls it free from her teeth she lets out a shaky breath, anxiously stretching out her jaw. He holds up the cloth and chuckles at the deep rents her fangs have made in it. Oh mother in heaven she'd forgotten what it felt like to move her face. She'd give anything to be about to put her fingers on it, or to bite into something again. The man has been upgraded to 'you're an idiot for thinking he's nice, this is how your son died, stop lying to yourself' to 'well okay maybe you were right the first time we all make mistakes but just so you know he might still be awful'.

"Sir, I really must protest--" The slaver begins, feebly, his thick accent still foreign to Rosa's ears.

"Oh shut up." The potentially-nice man grumbles, waving a dismissive hand. He's perfectly at ease where he is, in the middle of a squalid, probably illegal slave market in some ungodly humid locale, surrounded by slaves who are alternately terrified to be bought and horrified at having to remain. "Save it for someone who hasn't been around this block more than once."

Rosa listens to them with less than half of her brain, too enamored with the wonderful ache coming into her jaw to pay much attention. Oh dear lord, she can move her tongue again, she can swallow properly she's-- well-- she's thirsty, but what's new. And she can't say for sure the last time she's eaten more than the irritatingly stereotypical husk of bread. She should be afraid right now. Or at least ashamed at how easily her affection can be won, but at some point you find yourself willing to forsake the pride you held so dear just five minutes ago and admit to yourself that you're a soulless husk of a being, desperate for anything to end this suffering. Death, servitude-- either means a change of scenery. Being chained up anywhere else would be an improvement, just for the change of scenery.

"You alright there, Miss?" Her new friend asks, his voice low and endearingly solemn. Not trusting her voice not to crack, or her tongue not to spit out obscenities out of reflex, she nods. He smiles once more, this time a little more widely. "Good to hear it."

"Thank you." She forces herself to whisper, because, oh god she can breathe without the taste of rotting cloth gagging her. "Thank you."

"Of course, Miss." He says just as softly, like they're old friends exchanging gossip. He's scrutinizing her now, his eyes narrowed and dancing over her body in a way that's oddly mechanical. His head shifts as he makes mental notes on something, biting his lip every time he checks something off what seems to be a mental list of attributes. She's got her horns and her teeth, and while she's been captive long enough that her body's not much to write home about, she's probably still attractive to anyone desperate enough to buy their sexual partners from an illegal slave market. The most abhorrent things about her at the moment are a marked lack of hygiene and upkeep, but that can be easily solved with a bath, a pair of scissors and a nail clippers.

"Sorry. This is weird for me too, you know." He mutters, almost apologetically, his slightly sunburnt face going a deeper shade of gray-green. Rosa feels a quizzical eyebrow twitch, managing to suppress it at the last moment. He notices all the same and looks away, embarrassed. Only when he gets to his feet, brushing off the knees of his pants, does the slave master provide the usual warnings.

"She's a dangerous one, that," He says, voice low as if his pitch will prevent Rosa from hearing. "Almost took a man's hand off."

And a few other men. And some women. And some former employees. Oh, and the last few slaves that were brought over to try to scare her into quiescence. There's been a lot of biting.

"I don't doubt it." The other man responds, giving Rosa a ghost of a wink that makes her jolt up a little bit because-- goodness-- no one ever treats her like that anymore. "But I also think you know who I'm buying for, my friend, and you're more than aware of the Captain's feelings on such matters."

"I can't in good faith--"

"I'll pay triple her worth if you release her to me immediately." He pauses, frowns, and turns to her, face apologetic. "And if you clean her up a bit. Or at least give her something to wear."

Well then. Rosa arches her eyebrows, surprised at the surge of adrenaline that surges through her, making her spirits lift in a way she'd deemed nearly impossible just a few minutes before. She always used to warn 'life can change in a minute' but never actually believed it. But, as if the universe suddenly had a twisted sense of humor, her own prognostications are coming true. This is something wholly unexpected. She wants to tell him that she's really not worth that much-- in her current state she's not useful for work whatsoever-- and that his paying an extortionate sum simply because she bleeds jade is preposterous, but she stays silent. No, as despicable as it is-- she's desperate. Death, which seemed the only desirable outcome as of this morning and dozens of mornings preceding it, is suddenly a much less intoxicating prospect than the one hope offers her. She's suddenly desperate to get out of this warehouse, with its low ceilings and sub-animal conditions, spending each night too terrified to sleep and each day too exhausted to keep her eyes open, hungry, bruised, broken, bleeding, crying to herself without any heed for her audience. No, she wants to leave this place, no matter the cost to her dignity. If she can just get out of here-- if she can just get something to eat, maybe she'll want to escape. She starts to wonder what exactly she'd escape for when there's nothing left for her to run to, but she dismisses that as haughtily as she knows how.

Money changes hands. For the sake of her mental health, already held together only by vengeance and paper mache, she forces herself not to notice. Before she's entirely positive this is really happening, she's hauled to her feet. Her knees shake furiously as they're forced to bear her weight. It's almost impossible to walk with the shackles around her ankles dragging against her, but she makes herself grit her teeth and bear it. If she doesn't move, someone else will make her and that's not a very desirable option. A dress is quickly found for her, a filthy, musty thing that was never, at any point, actually meant to be attractive. She has the faint inkling that this it's what the maidstaff wears over their clothes when they come through to clean but she can't be sure. She's only seen them clean three times, so she can't be positive. They're wary of freeing her long enough to get the dress on, unshackling her one wrist at a time. When she's finally shoved out of the door of the slave market, the light-- something she'd long for in her fragile moments of hope-- sears her eyes. She flinches, and her escort is immediately at attention. The sun stings her eyes, her face, her neck-- but oh god is it the more wonderful thing she's ever felt. Eyes still forced-shut, she turns her face towards it and savors the warmth. Before she can acclimate herself to it, however, she's been urged towards a waiting carriage. When she trips inside her purchaser jumps in after her, shouting for a passing courier to join him. He's scribbling frantically on a piece of parchment, signs it and folds it haphazardly before dispatching his message with the young, overly-curious courier. Task accomplished, he glances up and, with one look at her terrified face, gives her a lopsided grin.

"Don't look so nervous. It's not me you need to impress," He mutters, gesturing for her to make herself comfortable. Rosa regards him, warily, suddenly unsure if she's acutally allowed to sit on the seats or if the floor is her domain. They'd sent other slaves to try and frighten her into obedience, all of them telling her horror stories about cruelly strict masters and mistresses who treated them worse than the slavers did. Rosa didn't think she'd be stupid enough to believe them, but now she regrets not listening more closely. He stares at her and coughs, awkwardly. The carriage takes off and decides for her, throwing her against the wall of the carriage. She curls up in the corner of the bench as small as she can, unnerved by the rocking of the vehicle and the loudness outside of it.

"You paid for me." Is all she can think to say, voice still hoarse from disuse.

"Aye, but on my Captain's behalf." He says, as if this makes all the difference. He produces a set of heavy keys from the pocket of his coat and, without comment, bends down and removes the shackles from her ankles. He leaves her wrists secured, apparently kind but not gullible enough to put himself at risk. Rosa approves of this. "I'm just following orders."

That's... not reassuring. But the Dolorosa allows herself to relax, her legs stretching out beside her. He notices her reluctant acceptance with an indecently cheery smile and informs her, in a soft voice, that they're an hour from port and she might as well have a rest.

Despite her intention to stay vigilant for any potential threats, she's soon lulled to sleep. It's the first good, deep sleep she's had in months, and when she's shaken out of it she can barely understand where she is. But the sound of waves lapping against the shore and the throaty calls of sailors is enough of a clue and, without too much mental arithmetic, she knows she's at the docks. When the carriage door cracks open, it reveals a magnificent ship, sails billowing in the wind with the sound of cracking whips, and her woodwork is polished to a gleam. It's utterly alien to her-- it's tall and a hundred times the size the Dolorosa always imagined ships. She'd never been to the ocean as a grub, and her underground adolescence never allowed for it, nor did running away with a stolen baby under her arm. Taking a beach-side vacation with all the highbloods never seemed like a good idea to her, shockingly. The sudden implication of the fact that she's been sold to this man's Captain hits her, hard.

Well. Well oh dear. This is... this is not what she'd been expecting when she was sold. She hadn't thought about it too hard, as she vacillated between 'being so angry that they kill me' and 'so heartbroken she wanted to die'. Planning for the future didn't ever come up, except in the vaguest terms as something sinister and undesirable. She can't do this-- she can't! Everyone knows you don't go near the ocean unless you want to die, and that fact has been honed into her like an arrow repeatedly fired from a close distance.

But she doesn't have a choice. It's this or the slave market, and at least here she has the opportunity to breathe fresh air. She's urged from behind, a hand at the small of her back, guiding her towards the ship. There's a long stretch of wood going from the dock to the side of the ship and she's helped up it by her nice new friend, seemingly prepared to handle any eventuality.

"You're alright," He says, softly, and Rosa realizes that she must be showing her fear more readily than she'd meant to. "Easy now, sweetheart. Easy now."

He guides her across the deck of the ship, eventually half-carrying her when her legs decide they've done enough work for today. She's lead to a small room just off the gangway-- she knew there was a word for that!-- or since it's a ship, is it called a cabin? Yes, it's a cabin, she knows that much. It's a small room, with a few pieces of furniture, but all she sees is the bed. He helps her on it, saying quiet platitudes until she stops shaking.

"There. Better?" He asks, quietly, and she can only bring herself to nod. This isn't what she expected whatsoever when she was purchased. Not at all. She was expecting darkness, dankness, pain, the horrible living nightmare of a slave hold beneath the ground. That's what she'd heard whispers of, at the least. But so far, all she's had is blunt kindness and nervous smiles. He even informs her that he'll find her some water and something to eat. She wants a bath first but, she supposes she could find the inner strength to eat something.

He leaves without a word, bowing slightly. The door shuts behind him and she expects to hear the click of a lock, but-- to her immense surprise-- there's nothing.

* * *

Rosa's not sure what she's expected to do now because no one has come to drag her out of her cabin. No one's even come to lock her in. Her companion came back and offered her a half-loaf of bread and a carafe of water, waiting patiently while she broke her fast. It's not a particularly elegant meal, but she's starved enough times in her life that she knows you have to start off slowly. But he offered no wisdom on what she should do now, just giving her a friendly 'you'll be okay' and nothing more. No 'stay here until the Captain needs you' or 'if you try to escape we'll behead you' like she was rather expecting. Instead she's received nothing but awkward cordiality. While it's not exactly the worst thing in the world, it is beginning to make her nervous. Her skin feels like it's crawling and she does her best to calm her frazzled nerves by repeatedly smoothing out the fabric of her skirt.

It's degrading to be like this, surprisingly. Her fear jackknifes like a weak branch in a storm. 'I'm going to die', 'This is so unfair', 'I'm going to die". Rosa doesn't know how she can be expected to behave as if this is completely normal and she was born into this sort of lifestyle. She hadn't been, and she doesn't know how anyone expects her to pass herself off as a successful slave. Yes, she's spent the past few months sitting in chains in the back of the slave market but-- well-- as of yet, she hasn't exactly been... broken in. Oh god that's a terrible phrase. But it's true, she supposes. By this time tomorrow afternoon her will to live will, once again, be absolutely shattered.

Come along now dear, she scolds herself, rising off the bed on shaky feet. There's nothing to be frightened of, hmm? The unknown? You've faced much more trying odds than this! Perhaps you'll be lucky and he'll turn out to be a wonderful young man and you'll fall madly in love and it will all be terribly romantic.

She huffs, blowing her hair out of her face and then, almost compulsively, reaching up with manacled hands to brush it flat once more. Really, they should have had the courtesy to supply her with a mirror. She has to look quite the sight after being dragged through a marketplace and-- to be quite fair to her-- it would only be kind to allow her to present herself in the most appealing light.

The cabin they've shunted her in, at the very least, is far more well-appointed than she'd been expecting. She had heard whispered tales of the sorts of places they stuck trolls in her position and, to be perfectly frank, she'd been dreading the cold dankness of a slave hold more than anything. She could tolerate the abuses and the labor if only she had the small luxury of a clean bed. The little room she's in is small and could rather use a good scrubbing, but it has a pair of portholes that let in just enough of the starlight to give her a beautiful view of the ocean beyond.

She's never seen the ocean before. The thought takes the breath out of her lungs and she sinks onto the bed once more with a jangle of chains. The collar secured around her neck is beginning to chafe and she wants to reach up and rip it off but, dear merciful heaven, she doesn't have that choice. She'll never have that choice.

No. Don't think about that. Think about the ocean. Think about how you can hear the waves from here and how beautiful the sunrise will be in the morning. Think about how much your son would have loved this and think about all of the lovely possibilities--

She doesn't realize how tightly she'd dug her fingers into her knees until the first pinpricks of blood rise. She lets go with a startled gasp, quickly blotting it away. Shifting her hands to the bed cover, she repeatedly runs her hands over it, trying to calm herself with the feel of rough wool under her palms but is quickly stymied. The bed isn't trimmed in wool but rather draped in a feather duvet. She turns her curious stare down at it, eyebrows drawn in tightly.

This isn't right at all. The blanket isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, but it is in good condition. And, as she looks closer, the bed is further outfitted by beautifully trimmed sheets that looks absolutely divine and pristinely clean. How absolutely curious--

Unless. Perhaps... they've stuck her in the Captain's room already? The thought sticks in her mind and rankles until she realizes first, how small the space is and second, that it's distinctly lacking any form of nautical memorabilia.

There's a knock at the door. Rosa gasps, startled out of her contemplation of the bed into a quick focus on the dire nature of her situation. Instead of letting out a soft, obsequious reply like she's probably supposed to, she gets to her feet immediately, fixes her ragged dress and lets out a gracious "Come in."

She regrets the inflection almost immediately, doing her best not to let a sudden surge of panic keep her from being able to breathe. She'll be fine. She'll be absolutely fine. They can't harm her for something as simple as two words, surely?

Her 'friend' is back, giving her another curt yet friendly smile. "Captain's coming. Make yourself presentable." His words are clearly intended as a warning-- a tip off. For them both, she supposes, since he had been the one to make the transaction on his master's behalf.

Should she be sitting on the bed? Is that allowed? Should she be on the floor, instead? Was there a specific position? A barrage of panicked remembrances and advice given by the other captives trapped in the slave market begin to jumble itself up inside of her brain.

"I realize it's a little bit of an imposition, but," He murmurs, stepping into the room. "But I'm going to have to ask you to acquiesce to being blindfolded."

Rosa stares at him mutely, and does her best to find the words to describe the overwhelming sense of outrage that's struggling to make itself known. "Is is... is it necessary?"

"Yes, Miss. I'm very sorry, but it's the only way we have to protect your and Captain if the situation doesn't... pan out."

"Oh." They might send her back? That's. Well. Not good. She doesn't want that. Sitting bored in a nice room is a vast improvement over sitting chained in a slave market.

"Don't look so scared. The Captain's quite nice once you get past the--" He makes an odd hand gesture and wrinkles his nose.

Get past the what? What does he mean? What does that mean! She needs to know what he means, oh god what does he mean what if she can't get past it, what if--

"Just don't let on that you're afraid and it'll all go dandy." He says with a reassuring smile.

* * *

Dandy. Sitting on the edge of the bed, now blindfolded in addition to manacled, the Dolorosa wants to strangle him. Dandy? Who uses an expression like that to describe handing over an enslaved creature with free will and independent hopes and ambitions to their new owner? No one, that's who. Well, perhaps total assholes but she doesn't like to use language like that.

Now that she can't see, the smell of the room is beginning to bother her a bit. The ship had cast off it's moorings a good hour ago, now, and between the rocking and the odor, she's not sure what's more alien. It's not a bad smell, mind you. She's smelled a plethora of terrible things-- corpses, murder victims and singed flesh included-- but it's a stale smell that indicates that the room hasn't been aired out for quite some time. It makes her want to shuffle over to the windows and throw them open and maybe find some flowers because wouldn't that be lovely?

No, Rosa. She scolds herself, jangling the chains around her wrist. Honestly, what was wrong with her? Captive on a merchant ship and all she can think about is redecorating. Shouldn't she be more concerned with her well-being? Think about that! Think about the horrible things this Captain is probably going to do to you. Any man who would buy someone without vetting the purchase first can't have good taste whatsoever.

Honestly. Except for that the ship really is quite gorgeous, with beautifully carved detailing on the bow and railings and the brief glimpse she'd had of the bridge had shown her that it had lovely stained glass windows and--

Rosa. No. No. Stop that.

You really are quite dreadful at this, she scolds herself. Perhaps it's the fact that she knows perfectly well nothing worse can happen to her than--

Well, we're not going to discuss that right now. Because bursting into hysterical sobs and hiding under the bed isn't exactly an option, now is it? Honestly.

It has to have been at least a quarter hour, now. How long do they expect her to sit here in absolute darkness like this? It’s a bit silly, isn't it? Who are they trying to protect? Surely if the Captain isn't fond of her they can simply slit her throat and throw her overboard without any sort of difficulty whatsoever. They are heading towards the middle of the ocean, after all.

There's a loud 'thunk' from the wall to her right and Rosa jumps, nearly tumbling off the bed. There's a sudden flurry of activity from outside and she hears quite a fair amount of indistinct shouting and more than a little foul language. Then there's the sudden, familiar sound of boot heels on wood. Each step that their owner makes is authoritative and assured and, to her surprise, there's a sudden echo of a sultry female voice. The Captain's Matesprit, perhaps?

She can't make out what the woman is saying, but the clip of her heels-- because those have to belong to a woman, she knows what sound men's heels make and it's far more clunky than the exact, sharp snap of a woman’s heel. The sound of heels making their way across the ship is a little heavier and more assured than she's used to hearing, but with a shrug she writes it off as a side-effect of being romantically involved with the Captain of such a lovely ship.

It is a lovely ship, she muses, even if it could use a little more... detail oriented cleaning. But that's neither here nor there, given the situation. Perhaps she needs to stop and consider what in fresh hell the Matesprit is going to do about her consort keeping another woman instead of worrying about her happiness. She sounds like she's yelling about something, so she's clearly not in a very good mood to begin with.

Oh dear. Things she hadn't considered yet--

Suddenly, there's the voice of the troll who'd brought her here. He's saying something about the Captain and welcoming back and lots of rather lovely, polite nonsense. So the Captain must have come aboard with his high-heel wearing companion, then.

Then, to her shock and generalized horror the words 'girl' (she's hardly a girl, although the implication does make her flush a little with pride) 'bought' and 'guest quarters' are mentioned. Oh, this is the guest room then? That was rather nice of him to put her in here. She really should write him a thank you note-

Rosa stop that. Sarcasm isn't going to make things any better.

There's some indistinct grumbling. She makes out the words 'what am I going to do with' and 'you keep doing these things' and it's not very reassuring whatsoever because that must be the Captain and with such a surly attitude Rosa's not going to be in for very kindly treatment but then there's someone opening the door and-- well--

She doesn't hear voices anymore, which is a surprise because shouldn't everything have gotten louder? But then there's a sharp intake of breath and a soft hum of approval and-- well--

"I think we can raise anchor, Marcus." The voice is low but still distinctly feminine and it curls around her ears like the shudder of a cat brushing against her leg. "And I take it back. I'm not going to throw you overboard."

"I thought so, Captain."

* * *

The cabin door shuts with the ominous click of a lock. Rosa is still too busy reeling from the sudden realization that her new Master is actually her Mistress and has a voice that sounds like liquid sex. It's a voice that demands to be impressed, and she finds herself sitting up taller, trying to make herself as presentable as possible.

There's silence for a good few moments, during which she can practically hear herself being judged by the Captain. Her breathing is soft and after while she laughs to herself and strides forward.

"My my..." She purrs, her fingers curling around Rosa's jaw in a gentle caress. Her hands are encased in leather gloves that feel stiff against the roughness of her skin. Rosa expected to feel the warmth of her new Mistress's hands through the hide, but instead all she feels is a chill.

p>"Aren't we gorgeous." She purrs and there's the sudden feeling of warm breath curling around her face as the woman leans in closer, chuckling. Her words make Rosa shiver and unconsciously attempt to lean away. Oh dear. That's... that's... well, that's a compliment. But one that sounds like a threat of things to come.

She swallows, hardly able to remember how. What is she supposed to do? How is she meant to react? Oh dear-- She goes rigid as a thumb brushes over her lips. She lets them be parted, breathing deeply to keep herself from whining. Oh dear indeed.

The Captain tsks in mocking disappointment. "Nothing to say to your Mistress, little one?"

Rosa somehow manages to rein in her bolting courage, bringing it to attention. You've faced down armies. You can face down a single woman. "Thank you, Mistress." Her voice comes out warm and rumbling and ever-so-slightly wry and she regrets it almost immediately because, well, it's hardly an appropriate tone to take, is it?

"Oh my, my..." The Captain murmurs, her hands tracing up across her cheekbones then up to outline the shape of her horns. "Someone has a bit of a tongue."

Rosa's breath hitches in her throat as a thumb traces the curve of her hooked horn. She desperately wants to nuzzle into the caress, even though she knows this is a polite way of inspecting her purchase. It's incredibly degrading, of course, but she appreciates the tact-- at least her jaw hasn't been wrenched open so her teeth can be inspected. But it's very hard to experience this objectively when she's being touched like this.

"My apologies, Mistress." She says with a bit of a nervous quaver to her voice. She knows her eyes are wider than they should be behind the blindfold-- she's hardly naive, and it's hardly right for her to be so ridiculously embarrassed by mild flirtation. But. Well. There's something a little exciting about this, degradation or not.

"Mmm, none needed, Pet." The wandering hands are now at the neckline of her shirt-like dress. She tenses under the proposed examination and lets out a nervous whine. The hand stills. There's a tense moment that's drawn out, painfully, until the fingers retreat. Rosa wonders if she should expect violence, but has no idea what quarter that might take. Finally, her Mistress growls in irritation, but pats her on the cheek and steps away. With a sharp tug at her collar, still painfully tight, she urges Rosa to stand. "Get up."

Rosa hesitates.

"Up. Now." It's a sharp, petulant demand, leaving no room for rebellion-- at least not this early on in their acquaintanceship.

She gets to her feet, slowly-- blindly-- her pride keeping her from reaching out and using her owner to steady herself. Only the soft jangling of the chains betrays her nerves, as the rest of her trembling could easily be explained away. Rosa knows how to carry herself in difficult times, and it usually requires looking as sure of one's self as possible without seeming conceited. She knows she must look almost farcical-- standing there with a frown and confidently set shoulder while wearing manacles, a blindfold and a dress that is probably made from old sacks, not to mention a worn out leather collar with a tarnished brass ring.

The Captain, however, doesn't seem to mind any of those flaws. She lets out a slow hum of appreciating, and Rosa feels hands trailing down the curves of her waist.

"You are a treasure, aren't you? My, my, what was such a prize like you doing in the middle of a slave market? Poor darling," She says, almost saccharine in her sympathy. Rosa can't tell if she's teasing or mocking, but either way it hardly seems sincere. Rosa tilts her head back as the Captain strokes her hands over her neck and collarbones, making contemplative noises as she does so. There's a slight tug at the collar once more, and then an indecipherable noise of disapproval.

"Do you have a name, Pet?" She murmurs, finally ending her inspection and-- from the sound of it-- sinking onto the bed with the sound of shifting bedframe. Rosa's not sure if she's allowed to sit or not so she remains standing, her hands clasped before her.

The Dolorosa doesn't answer. She bites her lip and stares at the ground. She doesn't know what to say. Indecision strikes like poison, making her head swim. She's exhausted from a day of unexpected events and suddenly just wants to cry or sleep. First she was afraid, then she was bored, now she's dealing with a flirtatious sailor and doesn't even know what name she's supposed to give. No one's called her by her 6-letter name since she tended the Mother Grub and even then she hated being called it. The second of her wayward children was the one to first call her 'Dolorosa' and that was meant as a fond, exasperated rejoinder in the face of her near-constant solemnity. 'Rosa, Rosa, Rosa, we're not dead yet, stop looking so sad' he'd laughed, from the other side of their jail cell, the sound indicating fear more than amusement, although it was always hard to tell with him. The joking title doesn't seem funny anymore.

If she's going to be known as anything, it should be 'Dolorosa' she supposes. But titles are always unique, and admitting that she's called 'Dolorosa' is the equivalent of saying 'oh, yes, I was the mother of the Signless, oh? What's this? Arresting me?' because-- it occurs to her belatedly-- a captain of a ship is likely to be a highblood (unless it's a pirate ship, but even she's not that fanciful).

"Or, perhaps," The Captain's voice is surprisingly gentle and not in the silly mocking way it was only moments before. "A title you'd prefer?"

"They call me the Dolorosa, Mistress." She finally murmurs, her fingers clenching around her dress. She waits for a noise of scandalized horror, but all she gets is a bored noise of dismissal.

"Dolorosa, hmm?" The Captain stands, slowly, after a few moments of contemplation. Rosa flinches and cries out as the Captain's hands curl around her hair and struggle with the knot. She yanks Rosa's hair a few times, but it's better than the anticipated strangulation. Eventually the Captain swears and Rosa hears the rasping 'shing' of a knife coming free of a leather sheathe. The Captain makes a noise of smug victory, yanking it free. Rosa blinks slowly as she's confronted with the coy smirk of her new owner. "I don't think I like the ring of that."

"My apologies, Mistress." She can't tear her eyes away from the Captain's, even though she knows she probably should. But her eyes are a deep blue the shade of sapphire-- or maybe its cobalt? something with a 'c'-- a blue like the color a forest lake. Rosa's not used to blue eyes, let alone beautiful blue eyes in an equally attractive face.

The Captain chuckles in apparent delight, not minding Rosa's stare. Her smile spreads to reveal a pair of perfect fangs that even Rosa envies. "Darling, I hardly think it's your fault. Perhaps... perhaps I'll call you Rosa."

Her honest answer would be 'everyone does, don't worry about it' but that doesn't seem an appropriate thing to say. "If you wish, Mistress."

"Do you mind?" She says, her voice placing sharp emphasis on the last word, seeming to dare Rosa to say otherwise. Possibly wanting her to. Rosa doesn't know what to make of her, yet.

"No, Mistress. I don't." Rosa ventures a slight shrug, desperately wanting to know if she can get back on the bed now. Her bravado won't last much longer before she collapses, and she'd like to avoid making a spectacle of herself.

"Good girl." She pats Rosa's cheek with a leather-gloved hand and Rosa shivers at the contact, more out of pleasure than fear. "It's been a pleasure, Rosa..."

With a final smirk and a once-over that promises devious things to come, she departs. The door closes behind her with a loud 'thud' and Rosa collapses onto the bed, finally, trembling and panting into the pillow. What just happened? What the hell just happened?

* * *

Rosa is left, once again, to her own devices. No one seems concerned about the possible dangers of leaving a brand-new slave unattended. Probably because they're on the ocean and she has no place to run. Her mistress hadn't replaced the blindfold and she hadn't said anything about responsibilities or behavioral expectations or, um, anything even remotely useful. Except for making it devastatingly obvious that Rosa hasn't been brought aboard to do menial labor.

Lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling is hardly the most productive means of passing the time, but she's the most comfortable she's been in years, with a pillow under her head and a mattress at her back. Isn't this just her luck. Get forced into slavery, end up purchased by an absolutely stunning woman and have absolutely no idea what her intentions are. Not not really be able to say 'no'.

She's alone in the cabin for what feels like a good hour or so before the Captain returns. This time she seems a little more relaxed, still in boots but out of that wonderfully dramatic coat and left in a pair of tight pants and a loose button-down. She still looks attractive, though, damn her. Rosa sits up so quickly that she gets dizzy.

Balanced precariously in the woman's hands is a tray of food, which Rosa is happy to see, and tucked beneath her arms is a bottle of wine and a bottle of what appears to be rum.

Normally Rosa wouldn't approve of alcohol as a coping mechanism but in this case-- enslaved on a merchant ship bound for heaven knows where at the whim of an admittedly gorgeous woman who's completely entitled to have her way with her-- it doesn't seem to matter.

She isn't sure if she should feel relieved or horrified by the fact that she's assuredly destined for sexual service. Her entire body begins to warm at the thought, more from fear than anticipation, and she instinctively tenses as if her posture can ward off any untoward advances. She knows perfectly well, in a biological sense, that she is most suited to sexual slavery. It's a bit crass to say so, but it's true. First of all, she is female and second of all, living in an underground cavern with a large group of similarly repressed women has a tendency to destroy any chances of freeing yourself from shackles of purity and, well-- she's not suited for much else, now is she? Intense physical labor would kill her in a few short years, and she has no useful physic talents to be exploited.

And, after all, she knows her price was higher for having been untouched (to put it delicately).

She wanted to remark upon hearing so that inexperience in a coerced sexual partner probably wasn't an asset, seeing that-- in addition to having to forcibly overtake her to engage in the coital act-- the purchaser would also be forced to endure a rather unpleasant series of intimate encounters, but she didn't think saying so could possibly benefit anyone. The only possibly useful facet of her virginity is the fact that anyone who copulates with her wouldn't be exposed to anything untoward. But in her mind that doesn't really seem like much of a valuable factor.

This train of thought isn't going to go anywhere beneficial in the slightest, so she abandons it. Stop that, Rosa, she scolds for what feels like the tenth time today. Pay attention!

"I apologize for not being able to assist you, Mistress." Rosa murmurs, hands neatly folded in her lap. The Captain chuckles and places the tray on the small table beside the bed. The two bottles soon follow and then, to Rosa's almost incorrigible shock, she's fumbling in her bodice for something. With a triumphant caw she produces a key. She inserts the key into the shackle on Rosa's left wrist and gives it falls to the floor with a crack and a snap, soon joined with its right-sided brethren.

"That's better, Pet." Her Mistress murmurs, kicking them far under the bed. "Nasty things. Ugh. Remind me to throw them overboard."

"If this is some form of psychological warfare, I must be honest and inform you it will be effective." Rosa can't take the words back and, for once, she doesn't really want to. She's too fixated on how light her wrists feel without the irons clapped around them. Between being arrested for treason and being pressganged into slavery, she's been in shackles for... ugh she doesn't even know how long.

"It's not. I don't have the patience for that shit." The Captain gives her a small, sincere smile, pulling up the one chair and sitting with a leg tucked beneath her. She extends a hand and curls her fingers in a beckoning gesture, indicating Rosa's hands. Without thinking, Rosa complies. It's the right thing to do, but as the Captain's fingers, rough and calloused, trace over the raw, bruised skin of her wrists, she starts to fear something far worse than a pair of handcuffs is in her future.

The Captain seems to anticipate this and keeps the contact brief before releasing Rosa's hands. Rosa gratefully returns them to her lap, her heart thump thump thumping in her chest. She'd curl them protectively against her, but she wants to salvage some of her dignity.

"I am the Marquise Spinneret Mindfang and I am the Captain of the good ship Black Widow." The Captain finally breaks the terse silence with her velvety voice, languorous with her elocution. "I will be frank with you and inform you now that we do not fly the flag of the empire."

"Oh. A pirate, then?" Rosa asks, almost laughing. The Captain, Mindfang, nods.

"And I am your new mistress." She’s watching Rosa for any sign of reaction which she does her best not to give. Not taking that bait, thank you though. "I am hoping we can get along amicably."

It's not a threat, but it's not a friendly proposal. It's something in the middle, a very clear indication of what Mindfang expects. She isn't threatening her because she knows it will not be a problem, because no one in their right mind would be stupid enough to disobey her. "I-- I am sure we will, Mistress."

"Good." She smiles, a little more sly than friendly. "I would hate to be in disagreement with such a beautiful woman."

Rosa does her best not to shiver and stares once more at her hands. They're genuinely beginning to ache without the familiar presence and she almost wants to ask that a suitable replacement be found because the prospect of being freed, even if it's free on board a ship, is beginning making her incredibly uncomfortable. There must be a price to be paid for her physical freedom-- you don't simply receive a favor without the expectation of future repayment.

Mindfang follows the line of her gaze and sighs, broodingly. "See? That's why I don't see why anyone thinks those awful things are a good idea. Look at what they did to you, hmm? That lovely skin of yours."

Her voice is full of a sharp anger that makes Rosa flinch without meaning to. Anger is bad, anger is very bad--

Mindfang huffs and pads over to the door, throwing it open. She bellows something that doesn't make any sense to Rosa but seems to be coherent to the crew. Someone shouts 'YES, CAPTAIN!' and, in the distance, Rosa hears her knight errant bellowing 'FOR FUCK'S SAKE DON'T YELL IN MY EAR'. She's somewhat glad to know he's still here.

"Honestly. You can get padded handcuffs, you know." Mindfang mutters, letting out a frustrated sigh. "Is there someone I can complain to about this?"

"I-- I wouldn't know, Mistress?" Is she joking? Or is she honestly asking? Either way, Rosa doesn't know how to be blase about months of imprisonment bordering on torture.

"Mmmrggh, probably a lot of paperwork anyways."

One of the sailors appears at the doorway with something. Mindfang takes it from him with a gruff 'thank you', and closes the door. It's a beat-up looking canvas bag on which someone has scrawled 'FIRST AID KIT' and underneath that 'ASK HOLLIS BEFORE USING'. She's quite taken aback by the sight of it which is silly, but...

Well maybe it's not silly. Maybe it's rather sensible. After all, who in the world takes so much concern over their slave's sore wrists? Not many people purchasing their slaves off an illegal market, she assumes.

"Let me see those, Pet." Mindfang murmurs, gesturing for her wrists once more. Rosa extends them without hesitation. Mindfang allows her to rest them against her arm as she rummages through the first aid kit. Wouldn't it be smarter to put that in a metal box? Rosa's no doctor, but allowing things to knock together like that can't be good.

Eventually the pirate produces a small amber glass jar, full of an unidentified ointment. When she cracks the lid both Mindfang and Rosa flinch back from the smell of tea tree oil and eucalyptus. It might make her eyes water, but it feels almost heavenly when it goes across her skin. She hisses in pain the entire time, hoping for it to be over with while rejoicing in the relief.

"Better?" The Captain asks with a small smile. Rosa nods and Mindfang looks rather pleased with herself. The irritated skin is wrapped in gauze and carefully taped before she feels allowed to take her arms back. The feeling of the bandages is enough of a reminder of her position and, for the moment, her nerves about being 'freed' are quelled.

"I don't mean to be rude, Mistress but--"

"If you don't want to be rude then don't ask anything stupid." Mindfang says crisply, crossing her legs and arching her eyebrows. She holds Rosa's gaze until she turns to stare at the floor.

"My apologies, Mistress."

There's an awkward silence for a few moments, broken only by Mindfang cracking open the bottle of rum and filling a tumbler. Rosa watches in mute admiration

"You don't seem like you're worth the trouble of manacles." Her mistress murmurs over the rim of her glass, rolling her eyes. "Honestly. I was expecting a bit of a spark from what Marcus was saying."

Rosa's pride demands she prove wrong any assumptions of good behavior in the future, but she's force to admit that it's true she never tried to escape her captors. And right now she's hardly likely to run. She's disoriented and caught off-guard. The only misbehavior she's likely to indulge in is oversleeping or overeating. "I'm sorry to disappoint you Mistress." She replies, keeping her voice soft and downtrodden.

"Hmph. I suppose you're enough of a treasure to make up for boredom."

What, does she want a bit of feistiness? Because Rosa's quite capable of being feisty. She took out half of the imperial guard and spent half of her life slaying the predatory beasts that liked to prey upon the little ones in the caverns. She's hardly a pliant little obedient wretch-- She stares down at her fingers and winces. Perhaps that's what she's become, lately. But it doesn't mean she doesn't still have feelings to the contrary.

"Don't look so frightened, Pet." Mindfang mutters, snorting to herself as she pours a glass of wine. Rosa's startled by it because she's already downing a second glass of rum, but Mindfang instead shoves it into Rosa's hands. When Rosa simply sits there and stares at her in astonishment, she huffs and carefully guides the glass towards Rosa's lips.

"I'm hardly going to beat defiance into you, am I?" Mindfang sniffs, looking utterly disparaging and, queerly, a little disappointed.

"Well, Mistress, you never know. Only time will tell me if you're intelligent or just have a nice voice and a massive vocabulary." In an attempt to look more at ease than she actually is Rosa sips too much once at once. It is, at the least, very good (for all she knows). "I have only had the pleasure of your acquaintance for two hours, Mistress."

As far as comebacks go, it's pretty tame. Normally she's a bit more caustic than that, but her other ideas mostly alluded to her being a hot pirate and that doesn't seem like something she should admit to just yet. The incredulous look on Mindfang's face is almost comical. It would be completely amusing if it weren't for the fact that Rosa's suddenly not sure it was a very good idea to show her cards so early on in the game. "...I retract my previous statement."

"My apologies Mistress." This really is wonderful wine. It's going to go straight to her head in all of six minutes but the idea of that isn't exactly as terrible as it could be with the look Mindfang is currently giving her. Rosa has a feeling she's about to be tackled to the bed and-- well-- reminded of a few things. Oh god she doesn't want to be beaten. That's hardly a good way to begin a relationship.

"I think we're going to get along." Mindfang finally says, a little hesitantly and with the slyest little smirk. "I think we're going to get along quite well."

Rosa returns her smile with a half-hearted one of her own, not sure how to respond. She settles for sipping at her wine once more. Mindfang's still looking at her, her eyes making slow movements over every inch of her. The Dolorosa does her best not to let it rattler her and instead focuses on looking blithely unaware that she's been sized up like a potential rival. She briefly wonders if she's going to be allowed to eat anytime soon because that looks just like some very lovely cheese and--

"You're absolutely stunning." Her mistress repeats, tossing back the last of her rum before returning her glass to the silver tray. "I mean absolutely stunning. How the fuck did it take you so long to fall into someone's hands?"

She shrugs, softly, and stares at the floor. "I don't know, Mistress."

"Oh, come now, Pet," Mindfang coos, climbing off the chair and looming over Rosa. She tilts her head back with her fingers, blue-spectrum touch cold against Rosa's green-spectrum skin. She traces her lower lip once more, eyes glimmering with mischief as she gauges Rosa's response. "Don't be a shrinking violet." Rosa only has time to stare back before she swoops in and captures her, the soft touch on her chin anchoring against any attempts to get away.

The wineglass almost slips out of her hands. Mindfang catches it without breaking the kiss, deftly setting it onto the table In the same fluid motion she climbs onto the bed and pushes Rosa against the wall, finally pulling away with a satisfied grin. She's still smiling like a cat who’s just realized there's an unguarded canary in the front room. Rosa's already turning several shades of embarrassed.

"Shhht." Mindfang purrs, straddling her easily. Rosa squirms in an belated attempt to get away, her emaciated body useless as she tries to shove her away. The woman remains, statuelike, where she is. Her efforts at escape eventually trail off to pitiful whining, unverbalized pleas aborted before they can turn into syllables. Rosa slumps against the cabin wall, realizing that any efforts will, at best, amuse her mistress. There isn't any way of getting out of this. She won't have a choice in the matter. The best she can do is shut up and endure this with dignity. Rosa stays pointedly limp as Mindfang nuzzles her neck softly and runs her fingertips up and down her arms. "Shhht Pet, shhh, good girl."

Swallowing dryly, Rosa does her best to keep from crying. How did she think this was going to turn out okay? How could she be so damn naive? She was bought by a pirate, what did she expect?

"My poor little pet." Mindfang kisses her again, this time carefully drawing her lower lip into her mouth and nipping it softly. The kiss endures for a good three minutes, Mindfang kissing her passionately and Rosa struggling to maintain her composure. It's hard to keep her hands folded in her lap because, quite frankly, she's in serious danger of enjoying this. She wants to kiss this woman. Is it really such a bad thing? It probably is, but right now she just wants to give in and get it over with. Partially to avoid violence and partially because of how aroused she is. But giving into her advances means accepting her servitude as well as the losing the virginity she's managed to hold on to for more than twenty sweeps now.

Eventually, though, Mindfang lets up, her lips trailing down the side of Rosa's neck. When she lingers at her collarbone long enough to leave a bruise, Rosa decides to calm down and enjoy herself. She's just settling in to accept things when her mistress slips off of her and returns to her chair. Rosa's shocked and a little too disappointed. Mindfang is smirking like a champion and very intentionally crosses her legs.

Mindfang looks incredibly smug and Rosa can't blame her. She wants to blame her, wants to glare and inform her how rude she's been by not requesting permission to violate her personal bubble. Of course she's relieved that nothing more than a kiss was expected of her, but if the woman's going to be all over her like that, she should have the decency to live up to it But she can't help the fact that she just wants to crawl off of the bed into Mindfang's lap and let herself be cosseted for hours because oh god she hasn't been touched in god knows when. She'd forgotten how good it felt to be caressed. Or maybe she'd never learned to begin with? Either way, she feels like she needs a fan and a basin of ice to cool off her face.

Oh dear, she's probably looking at her Mistress with a ridiculously love-struck puppy eyes even though she's barely crossed the border into mildly affectionate. She hasn't had much experience with anything beyond a bit of illicit flirting and this is... well... it's all a bit too flattering and a bit too fast for her comfort.

So instead of doing anything sensible, like offering to polish the floor of the cabin or cleaning the portholes or even apologizing profusely for her behavior, she lays there on her side and stares unabashedly. Mindfang stares back until the tension in the room builds to the point that they're both starting to turn a little warm in the cheeks.

"Are you hungry?" She asks, finally breaking the silence, sounding a little embarassed. "You look half starved."

Rosa nods, and sits up slowly, propping herself on her hands. She's a little shaky and it's terrible and wonderful at the same time.

"I want to absolutely devour you, Pet." Mindfang mutters offhandedly before passing her the dinner tray. "You've only been here for two hours and I already want to--"

She notices Rosa's nervous, frightened stare and trails off. "Darling, relax. I'm not going to hurt you."

"Thank you, Mistress. I appreciate your good intentions." She says, laying out a few slices of cheese onto a slice of thick, fluffy bread. Mindfang pours her another glass of wine which is a terrible idea, and Rosa starts to eat with more rapidly than could ever be considered polite. It's the only thing she has to cover her nervousness.

"I do apologize," She coughs, softly, swallowing too large of a mouthful. "But I can't recall the last time I've eaten anything passable."

"Don't say that I'll start crying." Mindfang does actually look rather upset, her eyes widening enough to make her look soft and innocent around the edges. Then, before Rosa has a chance to go 'oh, no, darling, don't look like that, your pretty eyes', she's smirking and looks every inch of the pirate Captain she was when she first stepped through the door.

"You're the picture of perfection, if a little skinny, and while you're vastly cleverer than expected you should hardly be handcuffed to a wall and spanked. Although in a different context that would be an exquisite experience--"

Rosa starts to choke on her wine. It burns as it goes down her throat and her eyes begin watering furiously. Her gaze is wide and taken aback and Mindfang chuckles wickedly at the sight.

"Darling, you're acting like you've never--"

Rosa's flushing again. She knows the shade isn't visible but it has to be impossible to miss the sudden change in hue.

"Oh, my dear." Mindfang looks exaggeratedly scandalized, her eyes wide with shock. She flutters her hand in front of her face and pretends to be gasping for air. Someone should tell her she's stumbled into the wrong career path-- the number of facades she's assumed in the past eight minutes alone are worthy of the imperial globe theater. "Either you're younger than I thought or you've been living in a cave most of your life."

"The latter is closest to the truth, Mistress."

"Oh my god." She sat back in her chair arching her eyebrows. "So you mean to say that no one has ever..." She paused. "I'm trying to find a way to be polite about this."

"Mistress, if I could be quite honest-- no matter how you phrase it, the answer will be yes." She's blushing even more now, the color spreading up from her neck into her face.

"Well, well, well..." She says with a bit of a Cheshire smirk. "I suppose that's good news, hmm?"

Rosa doesn't know how to reply so she settles for turning back to her lunch. The food is remarkably good for ship's fare and she's reasonably sure she's being spoiled right now. She knows that this is probably some manner of inducing her trust and affection but she appreciates it all the same. A little bit of humane kindness never hurt anyone and she hasn't had anything halfway palatable to digest in, well, eons. And while her taste buds might be a little rusty, she knows decent food when she sees it. Well, smells it rather. Or is it tastes it?

"Do you want some more wine, Pet?" Mindfang asks, softly, holding up the bottle. Rosa wants more wine but knows she should know better but before she can say 'no thank you Mistress', she's nodding and the glass is half-full.

They both eat in silence, Mindfang sitting back in her chair as if she's comfortable in a theater and Rosa is the headline act. She wants to do something to acknowledge the attention-- play the coquette, flirt, bat her eyelashes, do something alluring, but the very thought of interacting makes her seize up like a goldfish out of water. The wine isn't helping much either, making her more inclined to giggle hysterically at every thought that passes through her head.

Like, for example, the fact that she's ended up at sea, sitting across the room from one of the ocean’s more feared and, needless to say, attractive pirates. She wasn't supposed to end up at sea, she was supposed to remain safely ensconced an average of eighteen feet below the planet's surface looking after newborns until she got so weak from old age they ate her alive while she was making her rounds. That was a dignified death. That was an honorable death. An honorable death was anything but whatever death she was on the course for. At least now she was going to go out with a bit of fun, it seemed like.

"Well, now that this has become suitably awkward for the evening, I think I'm going to retire." Mindfang's still smirking but it's a little more sweetly that Rosa had expected. She looks seconds away from kissing her again but there's a queer sort of affection present there and Rosa's heart starts to clench and beat faster. She blushes brightly and stares at her hands folded in her lap.

Mindfang seems to notice her discomfort and laughs softly. She gets to her feet slowly, carefully straightening her clothing. She looks impeccable already but Rosa still wants to get up and help her arrange everything, smooth out the frizz in her hair and re-do the buttons she's done up incorrectly. But it's hard to stir herself; it's hard to think about what the implications are in that sort of thing. "I'd extend an invitation, but I don't think you'd take that well, my darling little thing."

"Not quite that drunk." Rosa says before she can stop herself, staring pointedly at the ceiling to avoid giving her blood color away too prematurely. She's going to be found out sooner or later but there's something in her that makes her hope it'll be later. She doesn't even want to know what color Mindfang is beneath her skin but she does know because there's no way she can have eyes like that and not be blue-blooded.

Mindfang laughs, thankfully, tucking her rum bottle under her arm. In the starlight streaming in from the portholes her hair looks like mirror-polished obsidian. Rosa dreamily wonders if it's half as soft as it looks but then shakes off the thought like an unwanted cobweb. "Getting there, though, darling?"

"Yes." She says with a rush of guilt and slight panic because oh goodness she shouldn't be drinking. But her mistress wants her to be drinking, doesn't she? This is getting more than a little bewildering and her brain feels like it's wreathed in smoke and--

Still smiling with a degree of warmth and affection that Rosa can barely understand, Mindfang leans toward her and presses her lips to her forehead. It's a gesture that makes her heart stop pounding with it's chasteness. She smells like expensive perfume and sea air and just a little like something sweet and delicate.

"I see we're going to have to work on your alcohol tolerance, Pet." Mindfang says with a wicked grin, “You're only halfway through the bottle."

"Well, if this is to become a common occurrence, Mistress, then, yes please." Rosa says, blinking twice and rubbing her hands across her cheeks.

With a sinuous swing of her hips and a sashay towards the cabin door, Mindfang turns to smirk at her. "Ohhhhhhhh, trust me Pet. It will be."

The second the door slams shut Rosa collapses onto the bed once more. The wine bottle is still sitting on the nightstand and the moonlight glints through the glass bottle in a way that's almost indescribably fascinating. She lets out a long, low groan and forces herself to sit up because she wants to drink until she forgets all of this.

So she does. She fills her glass to the rim and downs it in a few gulps and she's feeling warm and fuzzy in the best way and with the next glass her insides feel like liquid velvet and with the last of the bottle she falls back onto the bed, emotionally drained, full of adrenaline and seconds away from giving up all hope of deciphering just what in god's name is occurring and bursting into tears.

Thankfully, however, she falls asleep before any of that can occur. Her last thought is of how glad she is that she hasn't been chained up in the hold because being all wrapped up in a feather duvet with food in her stomach and her feet warm is quite possible the best outcome she'd ever allowed herself to contemplate, even in her most outlandish fantasies.

This, she thinks, is rather nice.