(Written with dethnus)

Rayna slid her eyes over towards Simon's shadow as he blocked what little light a hanging lantern offered. Between the happenings of Grenshaw and yesterday's exhausting journey she hadn't seen him for more than a moments time. Something about his demeanor warranted bad news. She offered him a faint smile as the night wind made her cloak dance about her slender frame. "Are you avoiding the same nightmares as I am in your insomnia ?" Rayna  asked keeping her voice low, so as not to wake the others.

Simon walked to Rayna's side and looked out to the eastward skies. It was a pleasant night, one that made him remember his days of youth."I saw a house in Grenshaw," he said slowly, "and in it was the majority of the population brutally murdered."

Rayna sighed. It was apparent that the tragedy was poisoning Simon's spirit and weakening morale aboard the ship. Rayna stole a glance at Simon. What little support she could offer without appearing weak, would be a brief message in the empathetic look she exchanged with him. Killing and dieing was the price one would pay for survival amidst a warship. She said no words aloud but moved closer to Simon. She touched his hand reassuringly, grateful that no one else was awake to see the gesture.

Simon allowed himself a smile. He knew the gesture, and how awkward it was for someone like Rayna to be reassuring. His smile was not to last though. "Does the hourglass mean anything to you?" he asked, hating himself for ruining her attempt at comfort.

Rayna tilted her head curiously. "It means nothing more to me than it should for anyone else. Why do you ask such an odd question Quartermaster?"

Simon sighed. "I don't know...," He admitted, "But it feels like it was left for us. The timing is just... too perfect." He looked to see her reaction.

Rayna balled her hands into fists. Her throat went suddenly dry as she willed herself into words. "Asher, he's going to come back for me. This is all part of his twisted little game you see! I have to find him before he finds us...again."

Simon nodded, realizing the truth to her words. Coty had thought the same thing. Yet he had been hesitant to believe her. Asher was the only one it could be. He had even been aboard the ship the other day. It was the missing piece. Simon smiled then. "You lost to him, didn't you?"

Rayna narrowed her eyes in response. " I didn't lose to him he simply refused to fight me." She tilted her chin arrogantly without meeting Simon's eyes. Failure didn't come easily to Rayna and finding the strength to admit it never came to her at all.

Simon laughed, feeling a little better. "How about a match, then, if you're so good?"
Feeling sour and slighty annoyed with Simons newfound giddiness Rayna crossed her arms and muttered something barely audible.

" I'm sorry what did you say?" Simon asked. 

Rayna groaned. Was he really going to make her repeat herself? Apparently." I said the bastard stole my sword! Alright?"

"Well," Simon said, drawing the long katana called Freed from his back, "I promise not to take your sword." He could use a match to get his mind off things and Rayna was the only one on board who could match him, though she rarely fought him with all the work lately.

A slow smile crept upon Rayna's face. She gracefully accepted the Katana and bowed at her opponent.

Simon pulled the other sword, this one an odachi named Gleam, and bowed back. This would be fun.

It took Rayna a moment to grow accustomed to the new sword. It was heavier than her rapier. She felt clumsy on her feet at first. Simon gracefully lunged at her with his odachi. But Rayna was quick to throw herself on the deck and roll out of Simon's way. She quickly kicked out her foot causing Simon to topple onto the deck himself. Rayna laughed as she gained the momentum to throw the weight of her body onto her feet. She stood over the quartermaster and pointed her sword at his chest, wearing a smug smile on her face.

Simon smiled up at her. "This reminds me of something..." With a flick of the wrist, Simon knocked the blade of Freed to the side. Then, quick as he could, Simon knocked Rayna back to the ground with a sweeping kick and took his place on his feet. "This time, I will be the one standing, and you the one on the ground."

Rayna scoffed. "It will take more than disarming to stop me old man." She kicked out her foot and delivered a solid kick to Simon's shin. The impact made him stagger backwards.

Damn! The woman did not play fair! Simon clutched his shin as Rayna grabbed her sword. Despite being a large man a kick in the shin hurt! This woman, captain or not, needed to be taken seriously. "So, should I fight you with the intent to kill?" Simon asked mockingly.

Rayna smiled at her friend. Later she would be sweet and apologetic but now she needed to be on her feet." Whatever your intent be, be prepared to lose." She charged Simon with her katana and knocked his sword out of his clutch, sending them both on the deck floor.
Simon reacted by grabbing a knife from his dress coat and charging his captain. She was ready for him, and managed to dodge his first slash and punch him in the stomach. Grunting, Simon punched her back, his fist connecting to her side. 

"So, you want a fist fight," Simon said, dropping the knife and cracking his knuckles while Rayna clutched her side,"Well, bring it, Iron Viking"

Rayna tilted her head as Simon's fist flew at her face. She gasped as she felt the harsh blow connect with her jaw. The effect had her coughing up blood. Rayna turned feral as she glanced up with Simon, murder in her eyes. She grabbed for anything she could use against him in use combat. A pistol on the holster at her hip. Everyone on the ship carried one.

Simon rushed to Rayna and grabbed her pistol just as it left the holster. He managed to get it free, but he suffered three hits to the ribs as payment. Rayna was not big, but she WAS powerful and skilled. Simon was at a disadvantage, so he backed off and rolled toward Gleam and Freed.

Rayna wiped the blood from her mouth with the back of her hand. Suddenly she felt that if she charged Simon she wouldn't be able to stop herself. Rayna stood frozen in her tracks as Simon ran at her full force. She dodged out of the way and let him collide with the cannon.

"Damnit!" Simon yelled as he crashed into the cannon. With a sword vs sword, Simon always beat Rayna, but somehow she was a better fighter in any other way. Rolling over and standing, Simon looked at Rayna, seeing that she bleed from her mouth and cheek. Simon himself stood with blood on his forehead from the cannon.
They both stared at each other. Then, as if cued by some force, begun to laugh.

Rayna slid back down to the floor and leaned against the cannon. All she wanted to do was catch her breath but she couldn't seem to stop laughing. Like Simon, she was covered in blood and sweat. Soon she would have to jump in the water and bathe to rid herself of the blood souvenirs of their near death fight.

"Well," Simon said, sitting down beside his friend, "that was fun."

- "Did I give you a workout old man?"

"Maybe just a little one, little girl."

"Perhaps you are not as agile as you were when I saved you years ago."

"Haha, well, I would say I am better than then. And you were only a little thing yourself. My great abilities must have rubbed off on you."

 Rayna smiled. " I'll give you that one friend but you would be lost without me. Admit it."

Simon laughed. "I suppose I would be more than lost. Try dead from a sword through the gut."

“Well,” Rayna said, “We need you alive to help us catch Asher so I guess that’s a good thing.”

Simon laughed again. “Hey, I bet you I can get his blood first.”

Rayna grinned mischievously. “You’re on!”

Rayna sat still for a moment, allowing the night breeze to cool and relax her sore muscles. While she stared out into the darkness she couldn't help but shake the feeling that someone was watching her.

-"Something the matter?"

Rayna shrugged it off. She didn't want Simon to worry unnecessarily. " Perhaps you should get some rest Quartermaster. The hour is late."

"The hour is late, indeed," Simon said, checking his pocketwatch, "But I already rested enough." He smiled, remembering something. "You know, I did save you from that Count." He laughed softly. "Doesn't that make us even?" He meant it as a joke. She would have beat him without Simon's help.

Rayna pulled her knees in towards her chest as she absorbed Simon's words. He was right. He had long since paid off his debt to her. What was he still doing fighting aboard the Asterius? He paid his dues. If anyone deserved to live a domestic lifestyle it was Simon. He could get married, raise a family..." You're right. All this time wasted helping me, you could have been... It's time for you to leave us Simon." Rayna admitted quietly.

Simon stared at Rayna. What... was she saying? "What do you mean?"

Rayna's muscles seemed to grow more tense. "You're free to go," she said with more conviction. 

"I see." Simon stood and walked toward the Asterius' side, leaving Gleam and Freed on the deck beside Rayna. It was time to do what he had sworn years before. With himself no longer bound to his word to Rayna, he had to follow through with his first mission now. It pained to leave the Asterius. It was a home to him. A place he had come to love. Yet, he had to do what he had sworn many years before.
He would get his revenge and kill his brother, Kamen.

The End

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