Also, please note that I made a few changes in chapters one and nine. They are just little bits that set up for the plot later, so you don't really have to read them, but they are referenced in later chapters. I set them off with a line of space for easy finding.
Disclaimer: I own nothing; Scott Westerfeld owns it all.
Newkirk placed yet another borrowed shirt in his travel bag and latched it, hefting it off the bed and walking into the hall.
There was giggling coming from Alek’s room.
Newkirk rolled his eyes. It was just him and Dylan, who were as friendly as a box of kittens, just like they’d always been; except for those few days in Asia.
He peeked in. At least their bags were packed. “Aren’t we leaving soon?”
“Right. Shall we?” Alek stood and made his way to the door, only limping slightly.
He didn’t understand why they all had to bring so barking many clothes. He expected it of Dr. Barlow, but Dylan and Alek hardly seemed to need so much. All the three of them were doing was escorting Singe to the Leviathan while it was resupplying in Paris, France. Not that he was complaining, of course; he’d take all the time with his old friends he could get. The ship just wasn’t the same without Dylan and Alek.
The three of them walked down the hall and out to the carriage together, and loaded up their luggage. Following shortly after was the lady boffin, who had as many bags as the three of them together, and Tazza alongside her, bouncing around on his leash and yapping at anything that moved. The birds sang in the crisp spring air, some green just returning to the world after the winter.
All five of them piled into the carriage, Dylan and Dr. Barlow on one side and Newkirk and Alek on the other. As soon as they pulled away from the mansion, Newkirk joined in a lively debate with Dylan and Alek, and the lady boffin sat quietly, stroking Tazza’s head.
The train station was a bustling place filled with all sorts of shops and people. A plump old man at the ticket desk reminded Newkirk of Master Klopp more than a bit, with an unmistakable Austrian accent to boot. He took their tickets with a smile and twirled his mustache as the pointed to their platform. They found a bench to wait on, and Newkirk was sent to find a coffee stand for some beverages. The noise of conversation and train whistles buzzed in Singe’s ears as he wandered, fingering the few coins in his hand.
“Hey, there, laddie! You need somewhere to spend that money of yours?” a greasy old man called to him with a sneer that showed a small number of yellowed and chipped teeth.
Newkirk kept walking, pretending not to have heard.
“I know just the place,” he continued, and smoothed his thinning hair down. “A young man like you must be needing the company of a lady.” The man caught Singe’s arm just as he walked by, somehow in his reach. He stifled a cry of pain--his arm hadn’t healed right from when it had been broken in the Kjolen mountains, so it hurt almost constantly now, but not anything unbearable; now a bolt of fire shot through his arm.
“Get your barking hands off me!” Newkirk snarled, trying his best to sound threatening instead of hurt.
The man curled his lip. “You shouldn’t talk to your elders like that, boy,” he said, and spat in Singe’s face with impeccable aim. “It’ll come back to you in a bad way! It always does.”
He rubbed the spit away hastily and retreated into the crowd, and he could hear the cackling behind him but didn’t dare look back, tears prickling in his eyes. His mum was always telling him that, and once she spat in his hand for good measure. It was so hauntingly familiar that he almost felt he’d been cursed.
As fast as he could, Newkirk found a coffee stand and bought four of them and rushed back to where the others waiting, so eager to leave the man behind he sloshed coffee on his shirt.
“What’s go you in such a hurry?” Dylan raised an eyebrow at the stain. “You’ve got the coffee all upset now; it’s jumping as much as Tazza!”
Alek laughed at the comparison, but all Singe could do was frown. “Sorry, someone bumped into me. It isn’t exactly easy to carry four cups with two hands.”
Dylan rolled his eyes and took one from him. “Lighten up, man, I’m only playing. Stop taking everything so seriously, Mr. Newkirk, and have some fun.”
Taking a deep breath, Singe nodded. “Aye, aye, sir!” He was saluting the boy just as the whistle of the train filled their ears.