Chapter 10

Callum pushed his plate back and leaned back in his chair. His gaze went slowly around the room, viewing the other patrons. Most caught his gaze as they were mostly seamen as well. Nods were given in his direction as eye contact was made. Callum slowly returned his gaze to who sat across the table from him.

Dustin was just staring at Callum as Callum was surveying the room. Dustin was still feeling hurt from the conversation that they had had. He was feeling suddenly uncertain about where he actually stood in their relationship. Oh, he knew how Callum felt about him, but what would happen to him if something else caught his eye? Would his position aboard be in peril? His new living arrangement?

Dustin had been on his own since he was six, making it for ten years now, surviving, doing what it took to make sure that there was another day to live for. He had no siblings, and no other family that he knew of. Being taken in by Callum was like going to heaven for Dustin. It was warm, comforting, caring...everything that he had been missing in life...everything that he had never known before. And suddenly, he felt afraid of losing it. Losing this warmth that had filled his heart and his head, after so very little time. For once in his life, he actually felt like crying. His eyes began to tear up, and his throat went tight. He struggled not to show it.

"What's wrong, lad?" Callum asked, as he leaned forward a little.

"Nothing at all." Dustin replied, giving Callum a quick smile.

"You look as if you're about to drown in tears."

"It's the smoke in here." Dustin said, shrugging his shoulders, looking at Callum, who obviously didn't believe him. "I assure you, that is truly the case."

"We'll let it go at that, then. But, there are only two out of a dozen that are smoking." Callum said, raising an eyebrow. "If you wish not to discuss it, that is well with me, then."

"I'm sorry, sir." Dustin said, looking down at the table.

"We're back to 'sir', again, and not even aboard ship." Callum sat back again. "Shall we take a walk, or retire to our room?"

Dustin lifted his reddening wet eyes. "Which ever you prefer, sir. You lead, I will follow."

"Oh, so that's the way of it then?" Callum asked, pulling some coins from his pocket, tossing them on the table to pay for dinner. Callum got to his feet, looking down at Dustin. "Very well then, Mr. Perkins. I shall take a walk, to help digest this stone of a meal I just consumed. As for you, sir, you should retire to the room. Get comfortable, as I know that the days journey was long. I shall join you shortly."

"As you wish, sir." Dustin said in a hushed tone, then looked down at the table again. He didn't lift his gaze as Callum walked by him, toward the front door. Dustin heard the latch on the heavy door, and then it close and catch. He took in a deep breath and then stood, not knowing what to do or where to go. Dustin's eyes went wide when he was touched on the shoulder from behind. He jerked his head to the left, toward the hand.

"You alright, son?"

"Oh, Mr. gave me quite a start, sir." Dustin exhaled.

"Sorry, my lad." Farrow leaned closer. "Are you on your own now?"

"Uh, no, sir." Dustin swallowed hard. "The Captain went for a walk to help with his dinner. He should be returning shortly."

"I see." Farrow let go of Dustin's shoulder. "Well, that's too bad. Watching you too from over there, it seemed that there was a little bit of trouble."

"No, sir." Dustin's reddened eyes widened. "No trouble at all."

"Then I suppose you'll be wanting your room, then?"

"Yes, sir. Please, sir, if you wouldn't mind."

"Top of the stairs, second door on the right. I believe your driver still might be up there."

"Owen?" Dustin asked, looking toward the stairs.

"I haven't seem him come back down." Farrow folded his arms in front of him. "Nice looking young man, he is." Farrow watched as Dustin just walked away without saying another word. "Hmmm. You're welcome, my lad, very welcome."

Dustin walked up the stairs, then down the narrow hall to the second door on the right. He lifted the latch and slowly opened the door. He looked in, and then stepped through. He didn't see anyone at first, and then looked toward the small window. There, in the chair, was a form of someone. As the room was mostly dark, Dustin couldn't really see who it was. He walked over and saw through the light of the window, it was Owen, fast asleep in the chair. Dustin smiled to himself. Let him sleep, he thought. Dustin turned and walked over to the bed and lay on the edge of it. His eyes eased and blinked a few times, and then he was fast asleep himself.

Callum returned to the inn, coming through the heavy front door. He made sure the latch was secure upon closing it. He stepped inside and saw most of the tables were filled with more patrons. The air was heavier with smoke, laughter, talk, and the smell of lager. The fire in the fireplace was larger now, throwing more light across the large room. A few patrons looked in Callum's direction, but then went back to what they were enjoying. Callum smiled openly seeing what was going on around him. He stepped up to the long counter, seeing his old shipmate filling more tankards out of a cask. Callum waited until Farrow turned.

"Well, you finally returned. Was thinking you were going to berth out on that old barge of yours." Farrow said, as stepped in front of Callum, leaning on the counter that separated the two of them.

"Hardly." Callum raised an eyebrow. "You seem disappointed that I am here."

"Only because I thought I might have a go with your young one, if you didn't return."

"He has better taste than that, Farrow. Perhaps I should step back out and find some urchin in the gutter to satisfy your need?"

Farrow leaned closer to Callum, narrowing his eyes. "I find what satisfies my needs, myself, thank you."

"Speaking of he up in the room?"

"Top of the stairs, second door on the right. He, and your driver are up there."

Callum's eyes flashed anger, bringing a smile to Farrow's lips. Callum turned and walked up the stairs, taking two at a time. He reached the top, and walked quickly down the hall, reaching the door, he leaned against it, listening for a moment, and then slowly opened it. The room was dark, only faint moonlight came through the small window at the other end of the room. Callum could see the outline of a candle in the pale light, sitting on a table at the window. He crossed the room quietly till he reached it. He felt on the table top, around the candle and found a flint, and then a cumbridge rod. He struck the two together a couple of times and was able to light the candle. The flame grew to full height, making the room glow. Callum looked down, seeing the sleeping form of Owen in the chair next to the table. Callum lifted the candle and turned, seeing Dustin asleep on the edge of the bed. Callum smiled openly. He looked about and saw more candles on sconces on the wall. He walked over and lit them as well. The room was now bathed in total light. Callum returned to the table, setting the lamp down. He reached out and gently touched Owen on the shoulder, shaking him gently. Owen's eyes opened and he became startled.

"Easy...easy. You're alright." Callum said in a soft, low voice. Owen lifted his gaze to meet Callum's.

"Oh,'s you." Owen looked around, than back at Callum. "I'm sorry, sir. I must have drifted off. I'll be downstairs in the livery."

"Easy, lad. Is there a place there for you?"

"In the coach, sir."

"Those benches are like boards of a deck. Nonsense, we'll figure something out." Callum looked over his shoulder at the still sleeping Dustin. He stood and took off his tunic, folding it in half and draping it over the back of another chair. "Have you eaten anything today?"

"This morning, sir. I have some left down at the carriage..."

"The landlord's cooking isn't much, but at least it's hot." Callum said, holding his hand up. He reached into his pocket and pulled some coins, dropping them in Owen's firm hand. "Go and have yourself a hot meal, and then return here to us." Callum backed up a step, giving Owen room to stand.

Owen looked at his palm and then back at Callum. "Thank you, sir."

"Don't mention it." Callum said, quietly. He turned and walked over to the edge of the bed, where Dustin lay. Callum bent down and removed Dustin's shoes, as Owen walked out the door, closing it softly. Callum rolled Dustin to his back, undoing his belt, and then the buttons on his pantlet. Callum smirked at how hard Dustin slept, silently wishing he could do that himself. Callum pulled, rolled, tossed, and bent the youth to remove his clothing and then finally had him nude. Callum, holding Dustin, in one arm, pulled back the bed coverings of heavy cotton, and then lay the sleeping form out, then covered him back up. Callum crossed the room and sat in the chair that Owen had occupied. He settled and slipped off his own shoes, and sat back, watching the sleeping form of his Dustin. Callum sighed heavily to himself.

"What plagues you so, my love?" Callum thought to himself. "You seemed so troubled this evening. We were both in such good spirits until we set foot here..." Callum sat up in the chair, as if he had been slapped. "Of could I have been so blind?" Callum stared intently at Dustin, unconsciously rubbing the wound in his leg. "Oh, my love...I see it now...I see it all too clearly. I have pained you. Oh, Dustin, that was not my intention...I am so sorry. I wish that you were awake, so that I may apologize to you, to explain to you...oh, Dustin..." Callum leaned back in the chair, rubbing his forehead with one hand.

The door opened slowly. Callum lifted his gaze toward it. In the candlelight, Callum could see it was Owen. The door was closed softly. Owen walked across the room toward the candle and Callum.

"Did you have your supper?"

"I did, sir. Thank you." Owen said softly, coming closer to Callum.

"I am sorry he is not a very good cook." Callum said softly, as Owen knelt before him to one side, resting an arm on the table.

"It was hot, and a sight better than my mother's cooking, sir." Owen chuckled a little. "I'm not one to complain."

Callum chuckled himself. "I suppose I am one to complain. I have grown accustomed to Martha's cooking. It's far better than anything that I have ever had in my life." Callum shifted his gaze toward Owen. "Perhaps, when we return home tomorrow, you should dine with us to sample her cooking. I know that you will not be disappointed."

"Very generous of you, sir. I shall look forward to that."

"Afterward, you may find any excuse to stop by when it is meal time." Callum said softly, and then winked.

"It would be difficult to explain to my mother, sir."

"Dustin was entertaining thoughts on how to get Martha on board ship to cook for our next voyage. And, more, sir. I'm Quintan." Callum stretched out his hand. Owen took it slowly, yet firmly.

"Pleasure, Quintan."

"After all, we're neighbors."

"True enough." Owen pulled his hand back, and looked over at Dustin. "He sleeps firmly, doesn't he?"

Callum looked at Dustin as well. "He does at that. I have said that he could probably sleep through cannon fire. I, on the other hand, sleep very light. Any stirring awakens me."

"Hmmm. That might be difficult at times."

"It has served me well over the years. Especially in the service." Callum said softly. He snapped out of what thought he was getting lost in and turned and looked at Owen. "So, which brings us to tonight. Loose yourself in the bed. I can say that Dustin will not mind. He will probably sleep soundly until morning."

"Oh, I couldn't. Where would you sleep?"

"I slept some on the way here. I will be fine here, and very comfortable, as well." Callum looked up into Owens face, stopping the argument. "You have to drive us home tomorrow. I can sleep on the way back. Besides, I should go down and have a chat with the landlord." Callum stood. "Leave a candle burning for me, please. I shall return after a while."

"Certainly. And, thank you, again."

"Nonsense." Callum said, placing a hand on Owens shoulder. "Good night."

"Good night, Quintan." Owen said softly, watching Callum go to the door.

Callum emerged from the narrow stairwell into the large room. The long counter was to his left. He looked about the room. There were only a couple of patrons still there, they sat near the fire at a table against the wall. One was pulling from a long pipe, sending the smoke spiraling upward slowly. The other was leaning on the table on folded arms, a tankard in front of him. Callum could tell they were seamen.

He crossed and sat a table in the midst of the room, in front of the fire, but not too close. He leaned back in the chair, stretching out his long legs. His eyes saw the approach of someone, he half grinned. Farrow sat two tankards on the table, and sat in the chair opposite Callum.

"So, the great Sea Lord can't sleep, and with all that company he has as well. My, my."

"If I didn't know better, I might think you were jealous, Farrow?" Callum said as he leaned forward and took a tankard. He pulled from it, and then set it down, staring at Farrow.

"You might be right, Callum. Tell me, how is it you always end up with the pretty ones?"

"My natural charm, I suppose. Is your bed that empty these days, Farrow? As I recall, you never had any trouble filling it."

Farrow's eyes narrowed. "You're right, I never have. So, you and the boy, how long has that been on?"

"Not long."

"What about your...driver? You three...?"

"No." Callum answered with a sharp tone.

Farrow pulled from his tankard, then sat back. "So, what are your plans, then? Staying in Portsmouth till your ship is ready?"

"We will leave in the morning for home. We are to sail in more than a week with the squadron."

"Where to?"

"I don't know yet. My orders are not confirmed." Callum leaned forward on the table. "You seem very interested in it. Do you miss it, Farrow?"

"At times, yes." Farrow looked around, then back at Callum. "I make a modest living here, and I'm my own master. Not having to deal with the whims of another."

"Powers was never given to whims, and you know it."

"Callum, please. He was a self serving pompous ass."

"In your view, sir." Callum said in an angry tone. "You never gave him what he asked for. You fought him at every turn. I will not have you slander his memory, sir."

Farrow grinned. "You were always his favorite. Always at his elbow. So close that you were almost a second skin to him. It's a wonder he never took you..."

Callum came across the table at Farrow, catching him off guard, as fast as he had moved, pushing Farrow backward in the chair. Callum landed on him, pinning him to the floor, straddling him. Callum pulled back his right fist and held fast for a moment, then let go. The fist impacted on Farrow's cheek with a heavy thud, rolling Farrow's head to the right.

Farrow used all of his strength to lift and twist out from under Callum, tossing him to the floor. The two became locked in a struggle for control, wrapping arms and legs around each other. The two patrons sitting at the table did their best to get out of the way, but Callum and Farrow rolled to them.

"Easy now, gentlemen." The older patron said, setting his pipe down on the table. Callum and Farrow struggling at his feet. "There's no need for this..." He said, as Callum got away from Farrow, getting to one knee, Farrow still on his back on the floor. Callum had Farrow by the shirt collar with one hand, pulling Farrow up a little, then Callum balled up his fist and let it fly, short jabs to the cheek, again, again, again. Each hit was rolling Farrow's head to the right.

Farrow's eyes flashed a deep anger, and he spun out of Callum's grasp. They both stood at the same time, but Farrow was a little faster, and leveled an upper cut to Callum, sending him backwards, making him impact a nearby table. He lay out on it, as Farrow leapt on him. Now, it was Farrow's turn to pound Callum's face. Over and over Farrow landed firm punches until his knuckles were wet and slick. Farrow could see blood pouring from over Callum's left eye and his nose. Farrow grinned an evil grin as he knew he had Callum where he wanted him, under his control. Farrow pulled back his fist, tightened his arm, to give the blow everything he had to finish Callum. But, Callum shifted, raising both hands to Farrow's throat. Callum gripped it as he would a sail line and squeezed, stopping Farrow. Farrow choked, and his eyes widened. Callum saw fear in Farrow's eyes and reacted to it. He drew Farrow closer to him as he clenched his jaw, knowing he had him, and then pushed him away with all his might. Farrow coughed and choked as Callum got up off the table and lunged at Farrow, both fists flying, knocking Farrow back. Callum pressed his attack more with each punch landing on it's mark, knocking Farrow back further and further until Farrow hit the corner of the counter.

He supported himself with one arm laying on it, while half slumped to the floor. Callum stood over him, both fists ready. Farrow was breathing heavy, and slowly looked up at Callum.

"Feel better?" Farrow asked as he inhaled deeply.

Callum was confused by the question. "About what?" Callum asked with a growl, expecting another attack.

"How..." Farrow was breathing out, then coughing, "long have you wanted to do that?"

"Years." Callum growled. "Want another?"

Farrow raised his free hand to stop Callum. "No...I think I've had enough." Farrow said slowly pulled himself to his feet, sliding up the counter. He leaned against the counter and then looked at Callum, who was still guarded, fists balled. "Have you?"

Callum eased a little, and then backed up a step. "I suppose." He lifted one hand and wiped away the blood in his eye, then looked at it, then back at Farrow. "Makes up for a few things."

"I thought it might." Farrow whispered. He slowly turned and walked around the counter. He reached down and pulled out a cloth and wiped his own face and then looked at the cloth. Farrow tossed the cloth in Callum's direction, who caught it.

Callum dobbed it to his brow, then looked at it. Blood was everywhere on the cloth. Callum placed it again to his brow and turned and went to a chair. He righted it, and then sat down. One eye was on Farrow, as he came back around the counter, carrying something in his hands. Callum watched as he set what he had on a table and slid that table closer to Callum. Callum saw now what it was as Farrow slid the glass in front of him.

"To Captain Powers..." Farrow said, holding up his glass. Callum picked up his and held it in the air. "may God have mercy on his soul." Farrow said quietly, and then swallowed the whiskey that was in the glass. Callum swallowed his as well, then set the glass down. Pain was now Callum's tormentor. The whiskey would help, but it wouldn't be enough. Callum's brow was throbbing now, and still weeping blood. Farrow went back to the counter and returned with a basin and a pitcher. He poured water in the bowl and reached out and pushed away the cloth and Callum's hand.

"Harker." Farrow said, without looking at the two patrons who were still there. "Would you be a good man and fetch Dr. Stemmans around the corner? Tell him to bring his bag."

"Certainly, Farrow." The man said, looking at Callum and all the blood as he walked by, heading for the door.

"He's a good man, Stemmans." Farrow said, leaning closer to Callum, looking at the wound. "I think you need a couple of fish hook knots in that."

"Thanks to you." Callum said dryly, placing the cloth back to his brow.

"Anytime...anywhere. You need another good pasting, you come and find me."

"That pasting will be on you next time, as well. Let's not forget who was still on their feet whilst the other asked if it was enough, hmmm?"

Farrow leaned forward and narrowed his eyes. "Then shall you stand, sir? Or shall I drag you to your feet?" Callum went to get up, but was stopped by the remaining patron, who stepped between the two of them.

"I be thinkin there by enough blood on this deck for one night, gents." He said looking down at Callum, and then back over his shoulder toward Farrow. He turned back and looked back at Callum, "Besides, Cap'n, if you beat Mr. Farrow to a pulp, there be no one to serve his grog, and I'd be a might dry."

"Very well." Callum said, still holding the cloth to his brow. "Mister...?"

"Collins, sir." The patron said, tipping his obedience.

"Very well, Mr. Collins. I shall hold off on that pasting," Callum leaned around Collins, looking at Farrow, "until such other time that bar help can be secured for the patrons."

"I need no such help." Farrow spit out. "I can deliver your pasting and wait tables at the same time."

"Really?" Callum asked. "When walking and thinking at the same time cannot be accomplished? You must be speaking of another, Farrow?"

"Get out of that chair, Sea Lord...I'll prove it to you."

"Now, now, gents." Collins said, holding Callum in the chair with one hand and Farrow at the same time with the other. "The Doctor be here in no time. Let's be calm for now."

"Perhaps you're right, Mr. Collins." Callum said in a low tone, and then eased in the chair.

"Always the voice of reason." Farrow muttered, turning away, going back to the counter.

The door opened, and in walked Harker, followed by an older, rounder man. All eyes in the room went in their direction. Callum assumed that the rounder man was Dr. Stemmans. The round man walked over, carrying a small black bag, setting it on the table, his other hand went to Callum's brow, pulling away the cloth.

Without looking behind him, he spoke flatly, "Are you hurt, Farrow?"

"Barely a scratch on me, Doctor."

"Fighting dirty again then, I see." Stemmans got closer to the wound, squinting. "Bring me a lamp and a clean cloth. I see you already have water at hand." Stemmans turned and opened his bag. He pulled out a small bottle of clear liquid and set it down. He reached back in and pulled out a small hook with a long piece of thin cord tied to it and set it down as well, then a pair of scissors. "Whiskey, Farrow." Stemmans said, calmly.

"In a moment, Doctor." Farrow said, as he walked around the counter, returning with a bottle, setting it on the table. Stemmans picked up the bottle and filled the glass on the table that was Callums.

"I do not require that, Doctor." Callum said, glancing from the glass to the doctor.

"I apologize, young sir, but that is not for you." Stemmans said, picking up the glass. He put it to his lips and drained it in one gulp. "Ahhh. It is for me." Stemmans refilled the glass, then set the bottle down. Callum watched him intently. Stemmans picked up the hook and dropped it in the glass, then stuffed the cord in with it. He saw Callum staring at it. "It helps to make it slide through when I stitch you, young sir."

"Doctor," Farrow said, stepping up behind the round man, "may I introduce you to your patient. This is Captain Quintan Callum."

Stemmans bowed slightly. "A pleasure, sir." He then turned and uncorked the small bottle. "Bring that lamp closer, if you please." Stemmans grabbed the new cloth on the table. He picked up the bottle and dobbed the liquid on the cloth. "Now, Captain, if you would remove that cloth from your brow, please."

"What is that?" Callum asked.

"Why, it's just..." Stemmans began as he slowly wiped away the blood from the wound, "it's Witch Hazel. It's suppose to be a new type of cleaner of wounds." Stemmans said, as Callum winced from the stinging. "All the doctors in London are using it in their surgeries." Stemmans wiped a few more times, then looked at Callum. "Stings, does it?"

"Yes." Callum mumbled.

"I heard it does." Stemmans looked over the wound with the lamp light, turning Callums face with his fingers on his chin. "That seems alright." Stemmans said, and then reached into the whiskey glass, pulling out the hook with one hand, while turning Callum's face toward the lamp with the other. "I'll be done with you in a few minutes, Captain." Stemmans said, as he pierced the jagged skin with the hook. Callum took in a deep breath as he felt the push of the hook point into his skin.

"Keep them tight, Doctor, so as not to destroy his pretty looks." Farrow said in a snotty tone.

"His looks will remain intact." Stemmans said as he drew the cord through the skin, pulling it tight. He looked at Callum. "It will be fine, Captain, I assure you." Stemmans whispered, making Callum look up at him with only his eyes. There was a reassuring smile given as well. Callum winced again as the next jab of the point came. "Many of my patients would be crying out by now, my compliments on your bravery, Captain."

"I have been sewn on before, Doctor." Callum said in a low tone. "You have a gentler touch than my ships surgeon, I must say."

"Thank you, Captain." As the next jab came to the other side of the wound.

After a few minutes, more dobbing of the clear liquid, more wincing from the stinging, Stemmans backed up, surveying his work. He leaned closer, holding the lamp closer. The inspection, complete, he set the lamp down and rinsed his hands. He packed his things back into his bag, and then looked at Callum, frowning.

"What is it, Doctor?"

"I was thinking, that I should add another stitch here at the end."

"Is it sealed up?"

"Yes, but there is a small tuft that should be tied down, I should think."

"Has the bleeding stopped?"

"For the most part, yes. It will weep for a while longer. But, within a small amount of time, it will stop, I'm sure."

"Very well, then." Callum said, reaching into his pocket. "What is it that I owe you for your ministrations?"

"A shilling."

"Fair enough." Callum said, pulling out some coins. Callum held out his hand, Stemmans opened his, letting Callum drop two coins in his palm. "Two shillings for you, Doctor, and my thanks."

"The pleasure was mine, Captain." Stemmans bowed a little toward Callum. He picked the whiskey glass up off the table and drained it, then set the glass down. "Can't let it go to waste, now can we?" Callum half smiled in his direction. Stemmans picked up his bag, and then turned and walked toward the door. "Goodnight, gentlemen." He called out as he walked away.

Callum got to his feet, feeling just a little dizzy. He steadied himself, and then turned to the two patrons standing there. Callum nodded toward them, and they tipped their obedience in return to him. He turned and walked toward the stairs. He took them slowly and carefully, using the rail as he climbed. He slowly walked down the hall and then opened the door quietly. He stepped in and then closed it behind him. He turned and moved toward the only candle that burned at the table near the window. He moved slowly, being careful to not make any noise, but stopped as hear something behind him. He slowly turned, seeing Owen rise out of the bed, watching him.

Owen came around the end of the bed, wearing only his long breeches, and a look of concern. Owen stepped up to Callum, looking him up and down.

"That must have been quite a talk with the landlord." Owen said.

"What makes you say that?"

"Why, because, you're covered in blood. And even in the low candle light I can see the swelling of your eye. Are you alright?" Owen asked, as he clasped his hands on Callum's upper arms, guiding him slowly to the chair behind Callum. "Here, sit down."

"I did not wish to disturb you."

"You didn't. I, too, am a light sleeper."

"I see."

"I'm afraid that your blouse is ruined. I have another down in my bag, I'll just fetch it." Owen said. "It is not as nice as this one was, but it should do." Callum reached out and grasped Owens wrist, stopping him.

"That won't be necessary. I'll be fine here until tomorrow."

"Well, I'm not so certain of that. Come, let's get you into bed." Owen said softly. Callum went to protest, but Owen cut him off. "I've had my rest. I'll take the chair now."

Owen got Callum to the edge of the bed and lay him down. He covered him up and then went over to the chair and sat down in it. Callum put a hand to his swollen eye, touching it gently, probing the lumps at the stitch points. He sighed softly to himself and lowered his hand. He was breathing through his mouth as his nose was plugged up. It was soon that he drifted off. Owen blew out the candle when he had seen Callum close his eyes.

His eyes blinked as he tried to focus. He wasn't really sure where he was at first. The room was unfamiliar to him, the ceiling, the woodwork lining the walls. He slowly rolled his head to the left and then saw his Dustin laying next to him. A smile crept across his lips slowly. He reached out with his hand and touched the bare shoulder that was exposed from the bed covers. He looked beyond the bed and Dustin to the slumped form in the chair at the window. Callum lifted his head slowly from the rough pillow. He could see it was Owen, wrapped in a blanket.

The room had a little chill to it from being early morning. Callum thought to himself it was starting to change seasons to here at the sea early. He sniffed at the air of the room, it was stale like it had been sealed up with no breeze to refresh it for quite some time. He pulled back the covers slowly, but his muscles resisted being used. They were very stiff this morning. The memory of the night before flooded back to him, as did the feelings he had felt. Anger flashed through him like a lightning bolt, his anger at Farrow, and then frustration being rekindled at being humiliated with his new wound.

Callum slowly swung from the bed, putting his feet on the floor. He looked down and realized he was still dressed. His shirt stained with dark spots and runs, obviously it was blood. In the limited light, it was hard to tell. He blinked a few times and his eye was tight, and felt restrained. He lifted a hand up to his eye, slowly feeling it. He was shocked with how swollen it felt to him. He could feel the dried blood sticking to his skin. He looked about but didn't see a looking glass anywhere. He slowly stood, putting his weight to his feet. His thigh ached a little, probably from the strain of the entanglement from last night. He heard something behind him, and slowly turned.

Dustin rolled over in the bed, starting to awaken, his eyes fluttered open, and then focused on Callum standing there. Dustin looked and then looked again, harder, seeing Callum standing there, and then focused clearly.

"Quintan, my God!" Dustin gasped, sitting up in the bed. "What has happened?"

"Nothing, is nothing."

"Your face." Dustin said, as he raised up out of the bed. He crossed the bed on his knees, not realizing that he was naked, hands reaching out toward Callum. "What happened, Quintan? Were you attacked?"

"A minor altercation, you might say." Callum said, taking Dustin's hands in his. "It will be fine, I assure you." Callum looked Dustin over, loving his nakedness in front of him. His eyes shifted to the stirring of Owen at the window, then back to Dustin. "Your clothes, Dustin. They are next to the bed there."

"My clothes?" Dustin asked, then looked down at himself, seeing he was naked, then looked back at Callum.

"We don't want our friend, Owen there, to be shocked to badly."

Dustin pulled his hands back and spun on the bed. He made it to the edge and then set foot on the floor. He gathered his clothes and started to dress, as Owen rose out of the chair, tossing the blanket aside. His eyes watched Dustin dress as he slowly came round the bed toward Callum. He looked at Callum with concern as he neared.

"Why don't you let me look at that, Quintan?" Owen said in a soft tone. "I have some experience with this."

"I have no doubt. I'm sure it will be fine."

"Oh, I'm certain of it as well, if you will let me attend it."

"Very well, then. If you must." Callum said as sat at the end and edge of the bed. Owen gently touched around the stitches, checking for secured structure.

"Dustin, as you're dressed, would you fetch some water and a cloth, please?"

"Certainly, Owen."

"There is a privy at the end of the hall. There should be some there."

"I'll be right back." Dustin said, and went through the door quickly.

"Your pardon, Quintan, but he worships you."

Callum's eyes widened at Owens words, then he eased. "I think you see something that isn't there, my friend."

"It is there, believe me. It is as plain as day." Owen looked over the wound closer. "You are a lucky man to have one such as him. I'm certain he would give his life for you."

Callum half smiled. "I would gladly do the same for him."

"Perhaps you should tell him that then. I'm not certain he realizes it." Owen said softly.

Callum tilted his head, giving Owen a puzzled look, when Dustin walked back into the room, carrying a basin of water, a cloth draped over his arm.

"Dustin, would you help him get cleaned of this dried blood. I will go down and retrieve that shirt I was talking about last night for you." Owen picked up his clothes and dressed quickly as Dustin soaked the cloth in water and then wrung it out. He slowly began to wipe away the remnants of last night from Callum's face.



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