“Good job crossing, Tom.” Tom smiled at the navigator. It felt nice to have someone he knew officiating in a strange place, even if it wasn’t his favorite person in the world.
“Yeah, not bad for freezing up. I thought you’d delay me.” Tom turned to see Nathan hopping off the bridge after him, having crossed it quickly. The navigator snorted derisively, but Nathan ignored her. “C’mon, we have a lot of exploring to do.” He set off onto the deck, and Tom began to trail after him. He thought it odd that Nathan was so disrespectful to a teacher, but decided it wasn't worth fretting over.
Tom looked around to see if he knew anyone. He knew that he and Nathan couldn’t be the only ones exploring the foreign ship, and knowing where other people were that he could meet up with would be comforting. Nathan walked too fast, though, and Tom had to abandon his search to keep up. What was he in such a rush for?
“Hey, wait up!” Tom ran to catch up to the blond.
Nathan turned in exasperation. “Hurry up, then! We have a lot to see!”
Tom frowned. How could they see anything when they didn’t even stop to look?
Tom hadn’t known until now the difference longer legs could make when walking the length of a deck. It was just another thing that irritated him about Nathan sometimes, even though it wasn’t truthfully Nathan’s fault.
“Where are we going!?” Tom yelled ahead.
Nathan didn’t slow, but yelled casually over his shoulder. “How should I know? I’m just looking for something interesting.” Tom could sense Nathan’s grin.
He had to admit it was strange, though. Nathan seemed as if he knew where he was going, despite his denial. How could he, if he had never visited the ship before? Did someone describe it to him?
While Tom pondered this, Nathan came to a dead stop, Tom almost running into him. He had stopped by a staircase that led straight down to an area below decks, an architectural feature that Ruthen’s ship did not share. Tom craned his neck to try and look down. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to below just yet; he hadn’t seen everything on deck. More accurately, he hadn’t seen anything on deck, due to Nathan’s impatience.
Typically, though, Nathan didn’t give him a chance to voice his displeasure. “C’mon, let’s go.” He practically shoved Tom down the narrow stairs, following after him to almost force him to walk down. Tom did so, though not without a bit of resentment. He vowed to explore the ship on his own later on, when Nathan wasn’t around to be annoying. Why did Nathan want Tom to come with him anyway? Nathan could be nice if he wanted to, but sometimes Tom felt weird around him. Nathan was such a jerk sometimes, and when he wasn’t he was…confusing.
Tom was so focused on his thoughts that he didn’t notice the two missing steps at the bottom of the stair case. “Watch it!” He heard Nathan yell at the last second, but too late, and Tom fell. He managed to keep himself from face planting, but he hit his knees painfully on the wood of the floor. He stared at the planks for a moment, his eyes tearing. It was glossy and well finished, but it didn’t seem fire forged. He could barely see the grains it was made of. How odd…
“Are you okay?” Nathan grabbed his arm and hauled him up, interrupting his study of the floor. “You didn’t hit your head, stop looking moronic.”
Tom forgot about the odd floor, pulling away from the older boy. “I’m not moronic! Why did you shove me down the stairs anyway?!”
Nathan looked at the wooden ceiling above them and sighed. “I didn’t shove you. You fell. Now let’s go, as long as you can keep from falling on your face again.” With that, he walked off down the dimly lit hall. The oil lamps weren’t as strong as on Ruthen’s ship.
“I didn’t fall on my face!” Tom shouted, running after him.
Nathan didn’t respond. The interior of the ship was very different from Ruthen’s. Tom ran his hand along the wall as he walked, and was surprised at the smoothness. If he had done the same on Ruthen’s ship, he likely would have ended up with nasty splinters.
Nathan walked ahead in a slouch, his hands in his pockets. If Tom didn’t know any better, he would say Nathan was nervous. About what, though? Tom smiled and ran up to him. It served Nathan right for trying to control everything.
“What’s wrong? It was your idea to come down here.” As he ran to Nathan’s side, Tom’s flimsy sandals clacked on the floor. Another odd effect of the wood, he guessed.
“Nothing’s wrong!” Nathan snapped, straightening. “Don’t be idiotic!” He walked faster, ahead of Tom, who shrugged his shoulders and followed. Nathan was definitely uneasy, but Tom had no idea why. He continued running his hand along the wood, and tried to dig his nails into it. It didn’t work, it was too slippery. Tom decided that whatever wood Auros used to design his ships was cool. Dragging his nails along the wood made a funny scratchy noise, and Tom grinned at the sound, his sore knees forgotten.
“Would you STOP THAT!?” Nathan whirled around to face Tom, his yell echoing down the lengthy corridor. Tom jumped and backed up against the wall, and Nathan advanced on him angrily. “Do you have any idea how annoying-DAMNIT!” Nathan had put his hand on the wall in an attempt to force Tom to back up, and now he pulled it back as if burned. He shook it, cursing, and Tom darted out of the way. Nathan looked like he wanted to punch somebody.
“Um…are you okay?” How could Nathan possibly hurt his hand leaning on a wall for a half second?”