Traveling in ships was something Vicki was accustomed to, but never a ship quite like this.
It was rather funny, now she thought of it. She’d been to planets in galaxies that most humans would only know as nameless points of light, seen through a telescope- but she’d never before traveled in a wooden ship with sails, over her own planet’s seas.
It was a strange new sensation, after the 25th century’s latest, sleekest space capsules, & the Doctor’s impossible, alien timeship, to feel the movement of the water beneath them, and hear the creak of the wooden boards they stood upon, knowing those creaking wooden boards were the only thing keeping herself & the small band of Trojan refugees alive on the immense, fathomless sea. Of course in a space ship it was the same thing, really, and all the more dangerous, for you couldn’t survive at all without your ship in space. But it felt so different; the sting of wind on your face, the smell of the seawater- the sound of the waves churning up as the ship propelled through it; it was like nothing else she’d ever known. It was unnerving.
And it was exhilarating.
She shivered in the wind, and pulled her cloak about her. Then she looked at Troilus.
They were standing at the side of the ship, looking out over the water, and his brow was furrowed as he gazed back at the coastline they’d just departed from, and she could tell he was not quite happy to let it go. She inched a little closer, and put her arms around him.
“I know,” she whispered quietly, looking up at him.
Her embrace startled him out of his reverie, and he looked back at her in surprise for a moment, before his eyes softened at the sight of her face. He seemed almost relieved to remember she was there beside him, his beloved Cressida. He wrapped his arms around her, with a weary but heartfelt smile.
“Can you see into my thoughts as well as the future?” he asked her fondly.
“No,” she laughed, “I can’t see into either. But I do know how you feel.”
“Can you?” he asked. He wasn’t quite bitter, but there was pain in his voice. “I’ve lost everything, Cressida. My father. My family. All dead. I shall likely never see my homeland again. We must go on of course, for we are all that’s left of Troy now. But it’s like a weight in my heart. I can scarcely put words to it myself- how can you know?”
He wasn’t mocking her, she knew, but truly questioning. She could almost see the thoughts and questions churning behind his eyes.
They were the same thoughts and questions she’d had once, too.
“Do you remember,” she asked slowly, gazing at him seriously, “how I told you I came from another place? Another time?”
He met her gaze with equal seriousness, and nodded solemnly in assent.
“Well, lots of things there are different from this time and place, but many things are just the same. Once, I lost someone I loved…” she broke off for a moment, suddenly feeling as though the wind, or something, was choking her as soon as she started to speak the words. But Troilus’ steady, trusting gaze and strong arms around her bolstered her courage, and she went on:
“…And after my mother died, my father decided we should start over. So we left our home, in a ship. And I knew I might not ever see my home, or my friends, or anyone I knew ever again. And I was sad, even though I didn’t tell anyone. I knew my father was just as sad, so I didn’t say. I still had him, and we’d be all right together. Dad always made everything an adventure. But then… I… I lost him, too.”
The words she hadn’t dared speak for a year set off a reaction she couldn’t stop. She tried not to cry- tried not to let the emotions out- but they’d been kept in so long that there was nothing she could do. She turned away from Troilus as tears filled her eyes.
But he didn’t let go of her. Instead, he took her chin in his hand, and gently nudged it upward toward him. When she looked up, all she could see was his face, etched with concern, and love, for her.
And she knew she had to go on with the story, for both their sakes.
She took a steadying breath, and continued:
“…A man- a deceitful, treacherous, evil man- killed my father. I had no home, no family, nothing. Nothing at all. I didn’t think there was anything left for me to make life worth living, but there was. Kind people found me, and they rescued me, and took me away with them. They took care of me, even though they didn’t have to. They became like my new family. We explored and saw the stars- helped people build new worlds. And I realized I was doing exactly as my father had wanted us to do- I was making the new start he wanted, and he would be happy for me. And then I met you. And I knew I’d found where I belong- that we can make that new start- together.”
She took his hand from her chin, and interlaced her fingers with his.
“I know how you feel, Troilus. I know exactly how, because I felt the same way. But I also know that we haven’t lost everything, so long as we have each other.”
And as she looked at his face, she saw the light of understanding dawning in his eyes. He stared at her with something like wonderment, and then shook his head, as though he were shaking off a cloud of doubts and fears. Without words, she knew that there was a new bond of sympathy between them now.
“Oh Cressida,” he murmured, kissing her hand and holding her close. “You have truly been sent by the gods! How can I insult them by lamenting my misfortunes, when they have blessed me with you?”
The warmth in his eyes and in his voice was like an extra cloak against the wind and sea spray all around them. She smiled as she unlaced their fingers in order to wrap a hand around his neck, and bring his face close to hers.
“I don’t know about gods,” she said, “but I do know I believe in you.”
She ventured a kiss upon his lips, and he kissed her back. When they broke the kiss, she took his hand, and began to drag him away playfully.
“What’s this?” he asked laughingly as she pulled him by the arm around the deck, and the crewman, and the rigging, toward the other side of the ship.
She stopped when they got all the way to the other side. She linked arms with him and faced out to sea.
“No more looking back at the shore!” she said. “That’s behind us, and we have great things ahead of us!”
“And you’ve seen this?” Troilus asked eagerly. “With your powers of prophecy?”
“Oh yes,” she replied, smiling. “I can see it clear as day.”
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