March threw up over the side of the boat. Behind him, Jild laughed and shook his head. They'd been drinking, but March had had too much, and now the tossing of the waves had gotten to him.
It had been months since they'd seen land. Nothing but a vast empty desert of water. Naturally, this meant drinking and horsing around among the crew.
Jild was their leader, but he didn't want to be their Captain. Horsham was the Captain, giving orders to raise and trim the sails, and when to clean the boat. Sometimes Jild would help them, but he did whatever he wanted. Horsham was Captain because Jild wanted him to be the Captain, not because of the iron law of the sea. Not because of the undying loyalty of the crew, but because someone had to give the orders.
Someone had to give the orders and Jild wanted to do what he wanted to do.
March wiped the remaining vomit from his mouth with the back of his arm. As he turned to walk back to the others, he remembered exactly how much he'd drunk. It was much harder to walk than he'd anticipated, so he paused a moment.
Jild was already back playing cards. Despite being older than dirt, Jild was only above average at cards. Clearly good, but he could be beat. Trevor was trying his luck. Even drunk, March could tell when Trevor was bluffing.
A few short steps later, March was back at the table. Intending to genially clap his hands onto Trevor's shoulders as he walked up, instead he misjudged his control again and half-slapped, half-grabbed Trevor to steady himself. Already high-strung from the strain of putting on a bluff, Trevor yelped in surprise and jumped up, knocking over the barrel they'd been playing on.
This sent Jild into a fit of laughter. Deep belly laughs as he bent over, stamping his foot. Other men were laughing as well, but Jild was the one howling. March and Trevor had an uneasy time being shipmates, never having seen glint to gleam before. What might have been a tense moment with harsh words if they'd been alone... Well, instead it was like Jild's howls of laughter washed the tension from off their bodies.
March's shame at having heaved, slid down the deck, as Jild's laughter hosed him off. Trevor's fear of being caught out bluffing, his flash of surprise at being pounced upon felt like it just evaporated. The two of them laughed. The two of them and Jild laughed. The two of them and Jild and the ship laughed together. They laughed and laughed, the sound echoing over the water. Out into the vast black of the night over the calm waters.
They were a crew, and Jild was their leader. They were of one body and Jild was of another. Standing ten feet tall, born from the immortal sky, the boat strained to contain his life.