He stretched his leg out, avoiding a rather deep puddle of muddy water. Despite his rather high boots, he preferred not to get them dirtied up if he could avoid it since he didn't like tracking anything the city had in it on his ship. Scrunching his nose up some, he fixed the cuffs of his shirt, flattening the white fabric down over his wrists.
His stomach rumbled, and he was sure the whole world could hear it for the way it echoed in his current hidey-hole. It was the fifth day… or maybe the sixth and he hadn't eaten since third day. But still somehow he was alive so he couldn't complain much more than that. He had tried his hand many a time at pick-pocketing the lines of crowd along the way, nimble fingers collecting two out of every four times he tried and even if his hide was sore for the two times he got caught, continue trying he did.
Uruha stepped out from the alley, kicking a rat out from in front of him and slid out like a sylph onto the streets. Everybody was too drunk to notice him, which he didn't mind. A few coins along the way, cautious bumps and accidents making way for him to gather the currency he needed for food and water and perhaps shoes somewhere along the way since one morning he had woken up without them. Today though, he would make it three out of four, as he snuck up behind a well dressed man and slid his fingers into the pocket of the fine black jacket while pretending his way past through a thick push out crowd. He'd make it. Yes, yes he would.
Kaoru probably wouldn't have noticed the young man at all if it hadn't been for the fact he felt fingers go into his pocket. He smiled some, taking a step to the side in the direction the boy wanted to go to make sure he was blocking his way. The young thieves today seemed to think a man was weaker on his left than on his right, which was true for most instances, but for a pirate... Well, they didn't keep much of anything of value in their left pocket due to that. The boy’s fingers took hold of the few necklaces he was bringing back to his few favorite whores and he reached out with his left, taking hold of Uruha's wrist.
"I suggest you let go," he stated, turning his head to look down to see the quite delicious young lad. He looked too thin and too dirty to be delicious but at the thought of what the boy would look like clean... "Truth," he said. "How many have you stolen from?" he questioned, making his tone rough in order to scare the youth.
He watched the three out of four skip merrily away into the distance away from him, breaking into the crowd with dirty rambunctious laughter. "OH!" He growled, being displeased with himself before having to stop in his tracks and look up through his dirty blonde bangs up at the man who had caught him. And with the tone of voice, rougher than any of the men coming through his village had ever use with him, he became a little uneasy to the stomach while he considered that the well dressed man might be one of the ones he sought /I want to find a different one/; enough to stop him yanking at his tightly held wrist and trying to escape with the useless jewelry in his clenched fist.
"You wish me to count the number sir?" Uruha remarked sassily, with more courage than he felt in the primmest tone he could muster. "More than you could no' on both your hands and toes." His fist opened as told though, letting the necklaces slide from his palm.
He laughed at the boy's response and pulled his hand out from his pocket. "And what was it you were plannin' on buyin' with all you stole?"
"Shoes. Since I lost mine somehow on first night." Uruha looked down to his feet, dirty with moldy brown and nicks of dried crimson red across the almost pallid skin. "I don't know otherwise." Aside from the obvious necessities of food and water.
Giving a short snorting sound, he started to pull the boy along with him toward the brothel of Cape Millay. It was nothing like the brothel in Port Royale but it was still nice nonetheless and where he lived when he wasn't out at sea.
"Eh... 'Cuse me, but isn't this the part where you let me go with your boot to my behind and a warning?" Or something aimed at his head. Anything violent like that, which is exactly what he was expecting. Uruha scowled, at first trying to get his wrist free so he wouldn't be pulled along any further then just trying to stay upright as his clumsy legs too over and tried to trip him up every step along the way. Just where was he being pulled along to anyways?
"I won't be letting ya off the hook so easily," he stated, stopping outside the brothel doors and giving a good, solid knock on the door. Three women rushed to the door, the whores that Kaoru had at the same time most of the time when he was 'home'. "Captain Kaoru!" they squealed, fawning over the man as he handed them each their necklace. "I don't have time tonight but I'll be back tomorrow," he said. They whined, of course, but let him go since they knew that he could rather irate when he wasn't able to get back to his 'work' right away.
"OH!" It was his favorite expression and properly announced the youthful pouty displeasure. The doors swung open and his tried to hide behind the pirate or assumed pirate as the rush of women towards them took him by surprise. Nothing like the women of his village, unobsessed with the frappery and fineness that the three seemed to explode with. So he didn't bother trying to hide his disgust with such women and ignored them as best he could, again trying to get his hand free from the grip. "Why have you brought me here." He asked with a hiss.
"Because I had to stop here," he growled out, raising the boy's arm up higher as he gave each woman a kiss on the cheek before turning and dragging the boy back the way he had come from his ship. That was right, the boy was going to get punishment on the ship, which varied, from the flogger, the 'cat', to irons, and other harsh punishments.
"Lemme'go!" Even if it was easier said than done. This man was nothing like the pirates he'd met. And he was about to whine, whine and complain and hopefully annoy the man enough for him to just give up and toss him into the water or something instead, because the things to come could not be good at all. Everything was silenced though, as soon as his eyes met again with the glorious ships that lined the docks while he stumbled to his knees.
Kaoru continued to drag Uruha, ignoring his pleas to be freed and was rather glad when they arrived at the docks that the boy had silenced himself. Yet the second the boy dropped to his knees, he heaved him up, not stopping for a second. "Best to stay on your knees for you'll be on them throughout the night," he growled, jerking him along.
And so in combination with everything else, mud, dirt and puddle residue, blood too tracked down his skinny legs to fall to the ground from his ankle. Uruha could tell already he disliked being man-handled so and was now at a loss of what to do aside from follow and just keep his mouth shut and hope his legs didn't trip him over again. All the while hoping that the grip about his wrist wouldn't shatter the bones again. "What do you mean by that?"
“Your back and rear will be too sore to sit or lay," he stated as he paused for a brief moment to heft the boy into his arms. "If you're hungry, you'll stand the punishment."
Uruha squeaked the moment his feet were off the ground, his hands gripping onto the man's shirt wherever they could in his moment of fright. Down... on the ground right now is where he would prefer to be. But any of his words were again stolen while his face contorted with the thought of what was to happen but that mention of hunger set off the sound in his stomach. But could he actually stand it? He'd try...
Kaoru continued to carry the boy, with thoughts of how the boy was like a sack of bones with skin on it. He walked up the long plank to get onto his ship, small smile on his full lips as he set the boy to his feet before ushering him over to the mast by the back of his neck. "Get me the lanyards," he called out loudly.
Ground was good. Well not really ground since it still shifted the slightest with the waves underneath it but he was on solid ground which just happened to be a ship. A pirate ship. It was luck and a beastly curse all at once. /Lanyards?/ He decided he didn't want to know and had no choice now but to block his ears somehow, practice his wince and get what ever would happen over and done with.
A few of his crewmen came up and tied one of each lanyard around his wrist and the other tightly around the mast. "This boy here tried to steal the necklaces I was taking to my three beautiful women," he said, getting his men roused up. It was about time it was someone not from the crew who was going to be beaten. "Shall we give him the taste of the cat? Or just something to smarten him up?" he questioned, looking around. When it came to his own personal body that someone assaulted in any way, shape or form, he was in charge of the punishments.
It wasn't all that interesting watching his wrists be tied though to have no control struck fear right to his very core and rattled the weak bones that his thin skin encased until he was sure the sound was a cacophony that everybody could hear. Uruha kept his eyes down, watching a gap in the boards with intense scrutiny so he couldn't see what he assumed were frightfully joyous looks on the crews ugly faces to match the excited jeers that followed.
The crew was shouting that the 'little wench' should get a taste of the cat while others were shouting that he should only be smartened up. The smartened up sounded better since Kaoru had indeed dragged the poor boy around behind him for a good bit of time. "The flogger," he said, holding his hand out. His 'weapon' of choice was set in his hand. With his free hand, he reached forward and tore the boy's ragged shirt open down the back, exposing pale, bare flesh.
Uruha hadn't noticed the coolness of the salt-laced air until then, as his shirt was torn open. And he added that to the list. Shoes, find a new shirt somewhere. It was becoming mighty long his list was. A permanent scowl set across his forehead and his eyes closing cut off his scrutiny of the wooden board and he forced himself to stop shaking. This was going to hurt, he just knew it. He told himself he wouldn't cry either. Wouldn't disgrace his abandoned best friend with such a thing. Whenever the captain was ready, so was he.
Sweeping his arm to the side, he did a practice swing. The air whistled over and around the flogger before it rested at his side and he turned his attention back to the boy. "Ye ready, boy?" he questioned. Before the child would even have time to respond, he rose the flogger and lashed it down over his back which brought the pale skin to a nice pink just from the first hit. The quartermaster went easy on the crewmen when it came to punishments, the captain, however, did not.
Hurt was an understatement. Uruha cried out, the returned shaking in his legs forcing him off kilter and halfway to his knees. He bit hard into his cheek, dug his nails into his palm, anything, as he returned to his feet and clung to the rope around his wrists to keep him stumbling next time. "Ready." he managed through gritted teeth, wondering if he was to be thought of as weak if he cried out each time the flogger hit his skin.
A few of the crew members whistled when the boy got back up to his knees, knowing the captain was going a little light on him since he was a kid but they knew that it hurt like hell. Kaoru smiled, setting his hat to the side to rest on a hook that was on the mast before he raised the flogger and brought it down again. One thing he didn't like about flogging anyone was because his arm was usually sore for a couple days after while the person who received the beating was sore for a good week after the punishment. He brought the flogger down a third time, then a fourth, then a fifth and stopped. "Shall you steal from your captain again?" he questioned.
Uruha had counted up the five times his back was flogged and blinked back a weak tear and a whimper for each. Punishment in his village was easier to bear than this. "No." He promised after a moment steeling his voice so he wouldn't need to repeat himself. But it was okay. He could deal with it (he hoped), he couldn't do anything else but and the salt air was already working its agonizing magic. But just what did the captain mean by 'your'?
"Good." And that was all that was needed to be said as the few crewmen that had tied Uruha up released him and Kaoru too hold of the boy, that vicious beating seeming as though Kaoru hadn't been the one to give it with how gentle his hands were when he took the boy in his arms. He held him so his side was pressed to Kaoru's front and his arm was over his shoulder blades where he had mainly avoided hitting him and his other just beneath his knees. "Bring our dinner to my quarters."
As much as Uruha hated being picked up and having his feet off steady ground it was easy enough to let himself be held so comfortably, at least for a moment. Eww. /Stop pining idiot, it's too late for back home. Think of what Ue would say if he saw you like this/ "I can walk." He stated, abstaining from wriggling his way out, considering he'd most like be dropped the moment he started. It was just a matter of pride and Uruha would like to keep the small tiny amount he had left unbruised. Hopefully food wasn't being held at ransom by the concession he let himself be carried.
"Try to keep up," he stated. He set the boy down, saying nothing, as he knew he wouldn't be able to walk after such a beating. Full-grown men ended up lying for hours on the main deck after taking such a beating.
Maybe, but he'd try. In an effort not to be defeated. Which turned out to be pointless the moment he took a step in some uncertain direction, felt the skin at his back twist in some seemly un-natural way and fell back down to his well abused knees with a quiet howl of displeasure. One. Two. Then took a hold of the nearest thing in a pained effort to get himself standing again. /Idiot/ Though it took him a while before he finally admitted defeat.
Kaoru turned around, watching Uruha struggle. He had no look of ‘I told you so’ on his face, or of anything smug, just a blank expression as he waited to hear the words he wanted to hear.
And what exactly were those words? "Help, please?" He whispered shamefully, not looking up at the captain, just incase he was wearing one of those looks. Uruha was shaking miserably on his knees with his hands to the deck by this point, holding his breath in an attempted to get back under control.
"I suggest you watch what you say and think further ahead of your actions," he said as he knelt down and slipped his arms beneath the boy's body to pull him into his arms again.
Uruha just barely nodded, letting go of his held breath as soon as he was hovering in the hold of arms and looked elsewhere for visual reference with a blank look and a pout on his face again as he was carried off to wherever the captain's quarters were.
Continuing through the ship, he came to a halt at a rather finely decorated door. "What's your name, boy?" he questioned while he unlocked and opened the door to his quarters. "Calling you 'boy' won't merit you anything considering that's what most of the lads are called."
"Everyone calls me Uruha. A pirate gave it to me." Came as a solemn reply, as he craned his curious head as much he could to look within the quarters, soon becoming intrigued with the designs in the door though, since they were the only things he could completely see clearly. "What's yours?" Uruha finally turned his attention away from other things and looked up at the captain with widened eyes.
Dark eyes glanced down and he was silent for a moment while entering the room and closing the door behind him. "Kaoru. My mother gave it to me." And it was left at that about his name. He wasn't about to mention that she had chosen it in hopes he would be a girl.
"I like it. It suits you." He commented boldly while closing his eyes to have the pain focus shift elsewhere. Ache ache ache, that's all his back did and it was constant, like nothing he'd ever felt before. Most of all though he just wanted to have solid ground underneath him somewhere.
The older male blinked, taken aback by the comment but smiled some, a genuine smile that he didn't share with his crew. "I've never had such a compliment," he said as he gingerly set the boy to lie on his side on the bed. "Best for you to stay on your side for now while I get some ice set up for your back."
He had been about to make another comment about that state of things, but kept his mouth shut incase his words were not wanted. But he liked Kaoru's smile too and wondered what else he could do to see it again since such smiles had been few and far between the last days. Uruha nodded quietly with the instruction and tried to stretch out just a little to get comfortable... or as comfortable as he was ever going to get. "Thank you..."
"There's no need to thank me," he said. "For this, anyway. You can thank me when you get food in your stomach." With that he left the room to get some ice from the mess hall.
Uruha gnawed on his lower lip with a slight nod as he rumble in his stomach began again and he wanted to hide for the shame of being weak. The boy held his breath as the door closed before snuggling further into the covers he had been placed on top of and closing his eyes. Perhaps he could sleep for a moment. Just for one.
A good twenty minutes went by before Kaoru returned with another of his crewmates following behind him carrying a tray of food. The captain had a leather pouch that one would normally keep a large amount of liquor in and set it on the chair nearest the bed. "Uruha," he said softly, reaching out to touch the boy's hair. "Time to eat."
Uruha frowned and pouted; scrubbing his face the moment the word 'eat' was mentioned. "A-ah... I'm sorry I didn't mean to fall asleep." He stuttered, trying to sit up in sleepy shock before quickly leaning back down with a whimper. But still... he had to sit up to eat. "Thank you..."
Kaoru slipped his hand beneath the boy's side, quiet as he picked him up and sat him in the chair so he was sitting on the could pouch of ice. With the ice in place, he grabbed the table in his room and pulled it close. With it being in front of Uruha, he dismissed the chef and scooted the tray of food closer to him. "Eat up."
The ice, no matter how cold was an instant pleasure against his back and his face was awash with the soothed pain. He disliked having to be helped but that in itself couldn't be helped. Uruha smiled gratefully at the retreating crew and cook then at Kaoru before bowing his head and doing as he had been bidden and started to eat rather hungrily.
"When you're finished, you may sleep on your stomach so the ice pack can keep your back cool."
"Okay." He just wasn't sure where he was to sleep really, since the bed he had been resting on moments before was the captain's and he couldn't stay there. It was bound to be figured out in the end when he was done anyways. And since his hunger was terribly intense, it didn't take him too long to finish, satisfied as only a teenager could be.
Once the boy was finished, he pushed the table back to where it had been and hefted him up. He made sure to avoid the welts on his back and rested him down on his side before he rolled him onto his stomach back on his bed. "You can sleep here for the night." He reached over, picking up the ice bag and laid it over the boy's back. "We'll keep this on you for a little longer."
"Oh? Okay.... Thank you... but... Where are you going to sleep?" Uruha blinked up at Kaoru, however snuggling again into the comfort of something soft under him and the continuing cool on his back for the first time since leaving home which had long since passed from his recent memory.
"I'm staying up tonight," he said simply.
He guessed it might be too annoying for him to ask that question of 'Why?' so just slipped back into quiet, curling his arms underneath his head and closing his eyes to return to that sleep he'd been awaken from a while ago.