Shot to the Truth
Deryn entered her private chambers, exhausted from three days of nonstop work on the Leviathan. Finally she was able to take a few minutes to change out of her sweaty uniform and change into something more appropriate. She sighed, remembering that they'd arrive to Japan the very next day and Alek would vanish from the Leviathan forever. He would probably vanish into the wilderness and somehow find a way back to the main land and hideout until this barking daft war would be over. Deryn shook her head, clearing her thoughts of Alek from her mind, reminding herself that he was a barking prince -that's archduke you dummkopf!- and she was a lowly mooneye-eyed lassie that served as an airman. She couldn't fall for him; she couldn't, unless she wanted him to run a mile. Anyway once Alek was gone, so would her feelings for him, too. Deryn put on a determined look on her face and chased away all thoughts of Alek that entered her mind. She opened the door to go assist the boffin when to her surprise she met face to face with his archdukeness.
"Alek what barking madness brings you here? Aren't you supposed to be going somewhere?" Deryn exclaimed, baffled to see Alek standing here, on her doorstep.
Alek's surprise of seeing Deryn flashed on his face, replaced by a strange look, "Dylan, I-I would like to talk to you before I... leave. Is that alright with you?"
Deryn collected herself, stepped aside thinking that the boffin would have to wait a smitch as she sorted things out with Alek, and replied, "Uh, um, sure, your archdukeness. What's bothering you?"
Alek wandered in and sat on the chair by her desk, on which she drew her sketches on. Deryn gave a small sigh, seeing that Alek wasn't going anywhere, and went to sit at the base of her bed.
"Aye, Alek, what did you want to talk about?" urged Deryn, after a very long uncomfortable silence.
"Well, I haven't been honest with you Dylan... about my birthright..." Alek trailed off, clearly nervous.
Deryn remembered the night before Alek was supposed to escape into the wilderness of the Ottoman Empire and telling him about her da's death. She remembered how Alek covered the light to hide her awkward emotions from him. This time it was her turn to comfort him, so she crawled over to his side, leaning against the desk's leg. Soon the words flowed out of Alek as if there was an endless river of emotion inside of him.
"When the Holy Father, I didn't know what to do. I knew that providence sent me to end this war and take my place as the next heir of Austria. The pope's letter was there in my hand, Dylan, depicting that my life wasn't supposed to take the course of just being a prince and not being able to do anything with this war, chosen or not by the people. I knew for once that my life wasn't as empty as I thought it would be. Now that the Holy Father died my life is again in chaos.
Alek finished with a strangled upset voice that betrayed his immense sadness, and remained silent. As Deryn mulled over Alek's words, she felt something warm splash onto her shoulder and realized Alek was barking crying over his confusion. At first Deryn was mad over his pathetic crying over just the barking death of the pope and she opened her mouth about to say that when a thought entered her mind. What if she her secret was found and she was never going to fly again? Then her whole life would be over, she realized, just like Alek's right now. Without the Leviathan, Deryn was nothing, she realized, just as Alek thought he was nothing if he couldn't reach his throne. Deryn shut her mouth lightly and rose to drape her arm over Alek's, trying to let him know that he did have a friend in her, to let him know that out there was a shoulder for him to cry on.
After a while Alek's sobbing lessened, and opened his mouth to speak, but Deryn whispered, "No need to be ashamed, for crying Alek. You're in a tight situation and I understand how you feel right now laddie. But you wanted me to tell you what I thought you would do in this situation, right?"
Alek blinked his last tears from his eyes and whispered in a rough teary voice, "Y-yes Dylan. I am sorry for interrupting you, Dylan. Go on."
Deryn paused for a squick, sitting back down, getting her thoughts together and replied slowly, "You know Alek, I've been watching you for a while now on the Leviathan-" Yeah, watching, right, more like stalking, "and I think that you really belong here up on the Leviathan Alek. The crew knows you and treats you just like the others, your clanker engines are a ton lot better than the ones we had before them, and the beasties aren't afraid of you at all," Deryn swallowed painfully and spoke the words that were really important to her, "Alek, stay here on the Leviathan. You won't regret it and if you do, I swear I'll help you get out of this airship safe and sound, even if it means breaking my promise. I know you, Alek like no other boffin on this ship," Yeah definitely like no other man on the ship," and I know you would choose the Leviathan over your homeland. You just don't realize that the Leviathan is your home or at least, a better home than your throne. Please Alek just listen what I've said, and understand that I'm right for once about you. Please understand." Deryn took a deep breath and waited for Alek's reply, the reply that would either push him away from her or push him closer.
Alek sat quietly for a very long time, such a long time that Deryn was afraid he had fallen asleep.
She reached her hand out to shake his shoulder when Alek's voice answered into the dark whispering its eternal sadness, "I-I'm sorry Dylan, and know that I mean no harm and that I did take your words into consideration but... I...I'm choosing my throne over your words." Alek sighed and the words flowed out of him again but Deryn was half-listening now catching only bits and pieces of it such as, "...providence led me..." or "...my birthplace is my home..." Deryn felt the same sadness well up within her just like when her da died and she was left alone, all alone. She fought back against the sadness staring at one point at the wall which was a hidden portrait of Alek she secretly sketched and hid behind a bookcase she had. The portrait would be the most hated yet also the most liked portrait in all of her sketches she drafted, Deryn knew. She stared at that point where the portrait was located and glared at it with such intensity pushing back at the intense sadness, intense heartbreak, and the pain slowly receded, enough to let her rise and reply to Alek's excuses.
"I see Alek," Deryn replied coldly and with a slightly teary voice, "So you think that the throne is more important than what your real calling is," Alek stuttered at that but Deryn smiled at his futile attempts to make her see what he did and for once she felt strength from those excuses. Deryn knew Alek would return to beg her forgiveness for not seeing the truth about his true calling; him belonging on the Leviathan. So now she would make him squirm, for later on revenge for making her feel this heartbreak, for upsetting her so.
"It's okay Alek, I understand, you for choosing the throne over the Leviathan. Anyway you do have to save the whole barking-" but Deryn didn't finish as a tremendous explosion rocked the cabin and both of them leapt up at the blast. Deryn was out the door in a flash dashing to the top of the airship to see what was going on. As she sprinted along the corridor she subconsciously understood that this could be the last time she ever saw Alek.
END OF CHAPTER 1