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Doing It Well   1520.05.01  
Creators: Deirdre / Wyld_Dandelyon (Writer)
Life on board the Rainbow Chaser is pleasant, but confusing for Ferelye.
Posted: 05/22/13      [No comments yet] ~ 1163 words.

Ferelye sat down in the galley, reflecting that life on an ocean ship was definitely different than life in small town Tifureir in many ways, but one thing they shared was that everyone knew everyone. At least in the small town, Ferelye had been able to run off to the cliffs by the ocean or hide in ru own room when ur wanted privacy. Shipboard, the only privacy anyone had--or any regular sailor had, anyway--was in their own mind. People--especially the broad-shouldered first mate, Del--were always around.

As a result, Ferelye came to enjoy climbing the rigging to the crow's nest at the top of the mainmast. Ur had to keep a sharp eye out for sea monsters, of course, but at least there ur could be alone. Ur grew strong and tanned, taking a turn learning all the tasks of sailing in the mornings, and then learning more about healing in the afternoons from Medic Doiyerl.

This was the first place Ferelye had been since roi classmates hit puberty that no one cared about ru gender. It was very strange. For all that Ferelye had hated how every interaction in town had seemed to pivot on that topic, ur wasn't quite sure how to handle conversations that totally ignored it.

Because Ferelye had good night vision, and because ur didn't mind missing the evening dice games, ur was assigned monster and pirate watch after dinner. Ur really appreciated the chance to think over the day in peace and quiet before heading to bed.

Everyone was friendly, which was very pleasant, though that, too, felt strange. The crew teased ru for roi mistakes, but no more than they teased Avlei. Avlei had been hired out of second form to train as a common seaman to take the place of a crew member who had been killed in the monster attack. And ur had a new friend in Reika, whose sense of humor and joy of wordplay matched Ferelye's. Even the ever-present first mate, Del, always had a ready smile for Ferelye when ur had questions or needed something demonstrated.

It was a good life. Ferelye was starting to regret that it would end even though that would signal ru arrival at the University in Affabreidalam, where ur hoped to study to become a medic or a surgeon.

"What are you brooding about?" Reika slid onto the bench beside Ferelye, sliding her dinner tray into the groove designed to hold it in place in bad weather.

Ferelye smiled at roi friend. "I'm not brooding, just thinking."

"About the end of the world?" Reika tucked one of her many thin, dark braids behind one ear.

"That already happened. It wasn't as final as our ancestors thought it would be." Ferelye shook roi head, and a red curl fell across roi forehead. "No, I'm just thinking that soon I'll be leaving The Rainbow Chaser to go to school."

"That's a good thing, right?"

"Of course it is. It's just --"

"Are you two plotting a mutiny?" Del slid his tray onto the table and sat down, smiling at Ferelye.

Ferelye blushed, "I -- no, of course not." The ship rolled just as Ferelye tried to stab a bit of fish with roi fork, and ur barely missed stabbing roi own hand.

"You look serious enough to be planning a mutiny." Del was still smiling, his blue eyes twinkling.

Reika patted Ferelye's knee under the table. "Del, stop teasing our temporary crewmate. You'll give ru palpitations. Ferelye here was just worrying about how hard studying medicine at the University would be."

Ferelye opened roi mouth to protest. That wasn't what ur had said at all. Reika kicked ru under the table.

Del, apparently oblivious to that exchange, ducked his head and apologized from behind pale blond bangs. "You'll do fine at the University. Even though you're studying with the medic in the afternoons, you're learning sailing as fast as Avlei, and Avlei will make a fine seaman one day."

Ferelye blushed again, then wished roi skin wasn't so pale.

Reika quickly changed the subject, launching into a long, convoluted Irfai tale of a one-armed sailor who single-handedly defeated a thirteen-tentacled strong-arm. It was preposterous and delightfully funny, even if it did make some of the Duurludirj sailors frown. When it was finished, Ferelye headed up the rigging while other people brought out dice or crochet hooks. But try as ur might, Ferelye could not figure out why Del would accuse ru of plotting mutiny. It made no sense at all. Ur watched the horizon and the waves, but that night the peacefulness of the elements didn't calm roi thoughts, and ur slept poorly.

The next day was fine and clear. The ship pulled into Tiffeilani to drop off long-overdue cargo and take on supplies. Medic Doiyerl declared Ferelye looked tired, and should have an afternoon off. Reika offered to teach Ferelye line fishing, and the next thing ur knew, they were pushing off in a little dinghy with a pile of almost familiar gear.

The first few ten-ticks were taken up by Reika showing Ferelye the equipment. After that, there was time to relax and talk quietly, waiting for fish to bite. At first it was just little things, wondering what the new fashion color would be and the things they each missed about home, but the previous night's exchange weighed on Ferelye's mind. Finally, knowing there would never be a better time to ask roi friend, Ferelye blurted out, "What did Del mean by asking if we were planning mutiny?"

Reika laughed. "Oh, he was just teasing you. He wanted to say something, but I guess he didn't know what to say."

"He's the first mate. He can say anything he wants."

"Well, sure, if he wanted to talk about the ship."

Ferelye looked at roi friend, trying to puzzle out what she meant. Reika seemed relaxed and comfortably amused. It still made no sense to Ferelye. "Accusing us of mutiny is about the ship!"

"You really don't get it do you?" Reika fiddled with her fishing gear. "Del was flirting."

Ferelye felt roi jaw drop. "But I'm no gender."

Reika looked up. "Does that mean you're not interested in sex or romance? If so, I can--"

Ferelye was shaking roi head. "I--that's not it at all." All the jeers that ur would be single forever rang through roi head. "But there's no point in dwelling on it." Ur could feel the tears welling behind roi eyelids. The sunlight on the water hurt roi eyes.

"Oh, honey," Reika patted roi knee. "They may not admit it in Tifureir, but there are people who aren't interested in men or in women, and other people who just don't care about gender."

A breeze ruffled Ferelye's hair and suddenly, the sun seemed only warm and welcoming. "Del was flirting--with me?"

Reika nodded.

Ferelye's face broke into a huge smile. "Well then, he's not very good at it, is he?"

Author's Notes

Written during the April, 2012 Muse Fusion to a prompt (a painting) I'd offered as a prompt last month.

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Characters Featured:
Ferelye, Doiyerl, Del, Reika,

Story collections:
A Friendship of Fashion
All Empire Stories and Art
Mysterious Sigla
Building a Home
Song for Jrilii

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