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pulling the puzzles apart

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At hour three, Sidney begins to wonder if murder is legal in international waters.

Jack will not. Shut. Up. At all. He’s been singing the same God-awful song for who knows how long, and while his voice is passable while sober, when drugged up on narcotics, it’s downright grating.

After exactly half an hour of his incessant ramblings, Sidney had snapped.

“For chrissakes,” they had screeched, “if you have to make some kind of noise, at least stop talking! Please.”

Jack had paused for a moment, and then immediately began singing. Fifteen seconds later, Sidney had, for not the first time since their arrival, considered diving out porthole and throwing their lot in with the fishes.

They hadn’t, of course, because there was work to be done, but the option was still tempting. They throw another glare over at the warbling menace, and squint back at their graphings, as if the wonders of math and science would somehow make sense of it all. Even since day one, things had been ridiculous. Their captain was a pathetic, insidious piece of gutter trash, the geologist was far too peppy for Sidney’s tastes, they had a goddamn English major on their boat for God’s sake, and then… then there was Jack.

Of course, Sidney never called him by his first name out loud. Heaven forbid some semblance of familiarity be established between them. Out loud, Vernon was a wild card. A nuisance. A showboating miscreant with a propensity for saying things that were less than necessary.

His flirtations with Barry had laughable, seeing as she had established herself as uninterested in men the moment her doe-eyes at Ramirez had begun. His efforts had been a good source of talk, but everyone was well aware of the futility of his efforts.

Everyone, of course, except Jack.

And that was the problem, wasn’t it? Because every time the man had brought Barry up, Sidney had found themselves rankled with- something. It was unidentifiable, which annoyed them more than words could express, but the comedy of the situation was not lost on them. Of course their emotions involving Jack would be impossible to explain. The man himself was.

Sidney may have not been able to put a name to the feeling, but he could certainly observe it. Here is the list of symptoms he found:

  • Irritation. However, this was only natural when Jack began talking. He was the personification of “hot air”, filling the room with nonsensical musings about whatever popped into his head. It grinded on Sidney’s nerves like a file, and the current situation was not helping things.

 

  • Secondhand Embarrassment. Any excessive display of emotion was obviously cringeworthy, but Jack tended to take it to the extreme. One time, he had boasted of fixing some pipes with his shirt off, and “romancing the bloody hell out of Jamie”, although Sidney had later noted that Barry had appeared immensely uncomfortable. They had snorted at the notion that a half-naked Vernon could romance anyone, to which Jack had taken offense to, and insisted upon removing his shirt yet again. Sidney had squawked at the extremely inappropriate nature of the action, then flushed from cheeks to chest at the sight. Jack was repulsive, but the sight of him shirtless, still sweaty from his repairs and smirking like a cat that found a canary warehouse, was decidedly… not.

 

  • Anger. Not at the fact that their time was being wasted, but, oddly enough, something else. It slithered and writhed in the pit of his stomach, furious that Jack was waxing poetic about such an undeserving topic. Here he was talking to them, and all he could think about was stupid Barry. Why had he specifically sought Sidney out just for that? Was it deliberate? Was he just trying to make them mad? If so, it was working.

 

  • Heat. An odd kind, and one they had never particularly felt before, or at least not in a while. It was different from the slow warmth of pride he felt when praised for his accomplishments. And certainly not the bubbling glow that rose in his chest at the sight of something particularly funny. No, this was a different kind. It simmered inside of him, tingling in his fingers and cheeks like a gentle kind of pins and needles. The feeling frightened them, both in its unfamiliarity, and its intensity. Sidney had done their best throughout the course of their life to maintain a steady coolness towards the outside world, but the anomaly that was Jack Vernon had slipped under their skin and left it buzzing with warmth.

Sidney considers the situation. The emotion was certainly a strong one, and probably negative, but prompted thoughts related to Jack’s oddly soothing accent, and the strange endearing quality of his crooked grin.

However, it still caught Sidney’s ire, which, to their horror, raises only one solution:

Sidney is jealous.

The realization brings a panicked laugh to their lips. Jealous! Them? Of Jack Vernon? No-freaking-way. That would imply a fondness for the man that Sidney certainly did not possess, as well as desire for his attention and affection. It was a disgusting idea that sent a shiver crawling down Sidney’s spine.

“Hey Doc, you alright?” Jack slurs.

Speak of the devil.

They sigh heavily. “I’m fine, Vernon, and the sooner you are as well, the better. Now stop talking and start singing. Quieter, please? And maybe something a little less likely to give me auditory cancer?”

Sidney turns impatiently to see Jack give them a loopy grin. It sends another shiver through them, for all the wrong reasons.

“A’ight, I’ve got a tuner for ya that’ll blow your socks off.” He winks sloppily, then began to sing. Sidney balks at the words.

I’ll swim and sail on savage seas
with ne'er a fear of drowning.
And gladly ride the waves of life
if you will marry me.”

“What the hell are you singing.” they say flatly, struggling to hide their flush at the fact that Jack had chosen that particular song at the moment. Jack pauses and smiles widely.

“It’s a love song! From those Norse folks; saw it in a movie once. Pretty good, huh?”

“Spectacular. Please choose something else.”

In response, Jack shrugs and continues, “Not scorching sun nor freezing cold
will stop me on my journey.
If you will promise me your heart
and love me for eternity.

At this point, Sidney’s face is on fire. They storm over to where Jack lay, and force hand over his mouth.

“If you sing that song one more time, I will cut out your liver and feed it to you.”

Jack blinks up at them. “My dearest one, my darling dear-”

“Shut up, shut up!” Sidney yells exasperatedly, yanking their hand away and shaking it. Jack lets out a shout of laughter and flings an arm over his eyes.

Sidney runs their other hand through their hair and groans. “What am I going to do with you?”

Jack gives them what might have been an attempt at a seductive look. “Oh doc…” he says mock-coquettishly, “what are ya gonna do with me?”

With a noise like a wet cat, Sidney takes a halting step back. “What the- what the hell are you saying, Vernon? You’ve caused me more than enough trouble in the past few days, I will not have you playing some idea of a joke on me just because you’re bored and high.”

Jack gives them an almost wounded look. “I ain’t playing with you, Sid, I promise!”

“Do not call me that.”

“Siddy-”

“No.”

“Sydney?”

“We are not on a first name basis!”

“Alright, Petersen, look: I’m sorry. I did- didn- wait, hold on- didn’t (yeah, that’s it!) mean t’hurt your feelings. Cause, I mean, I can’t do that… y’know? Y’saved my bloody life!”

Sidney rolls their eyes, but their heart flutters with the compliment anyway. “I didn’t save it, you stupid bonehead. I just patched you up a little.”

Jack shakes his head vehemently, eyes tumbling around like pinballs. “No! No no no no no! Y’did! Cause you’re… you’re… a doctor! Yeah! Like, ah, ‘Doctor Sexy’.”

Sidney’s face burns, and they twist it in displeasure. “Vernon, I am a lot of complementary words, but ‘sexy’ is not one of them.”

Jack wriggles onto his side to face them. “Nah. You’ve got, like… eyes, y’know? Like little brown spot thingies. Most times they’re all cold and creepy, but when you’re working and everything, they get all warm an’ pretty. So pretty.”

“I- Jack, stop-”

“An’ the little clouds you’ve got! On your skin! It’s all dark, so the white spots look like puffy little clouds, or spilt milk, or- or creamer in a coffee! God, I haven’t had real coffee in forever down hear. Miss it like a lost arm.”

“Jack…” Sidney pauses, not sure how to address the nicest praise they’ve ever received for their appearance. As a child, their brown eyes had been called plain, and their vitiligo always made fun of, but here was Jack comparing it to clouds and cream. It was all too much, and especially from the person in question.

“Jack,” they say tentatively, “you don’t know what you’re saying. You’re high as a kite and barely coherent. Stop rambling on and shut up; you’ve been awake long enough that you can go back to sleep now.”

Jack gives him a pair of puppy dog eyes, and oh, Sidney is in so much trouble. He sighs happily, as only the truly drugged up can, and curls up on the cot, falling asleep almost instantly. Before he completely passes out, Sidney hears him mumble something about clouds and darling dears.

They let out a strangled cry and cover their face with their hands, trying to process this new situation. Jack is stupid. Jack is ridiculous. Jack is messy and shameless and utterly, utterly charming in a way Sidney hates that they’ve suddenly noticed.

And of course, Jack hasn’t noticed it either.