An Unexpected Treasure
”Alright, Scrap. We're home, " Rourke said as he pulled the keys to the small house out of his coat pocket and unlocked the door. The Gnorbu yawned and stretched his arms as he stepped inside, the captain following suit before he secured it behind him. He knew that it would take more than that to deter a thief, but it was better than nothing at all. He did not possess much, but the Ogrin still valued what he had and was loathe to lose any of it. Rourke had worked all his life to build a home for himself, believing that he needed no other company but his own. His eyes flicked over to Scrap, thinking of how wrong he had been.
"Thank goodness! I'm exhausted, " the Gnorbu mumbled, immediately collapsing on a nearby chair. " I never knew so much effort went into sailing a ship."
"Well, all that hard work is paying off. Your progressing quicker than most boys your age."
"Thank you. That means a lot to me."
"Do you think I'll be as good as you someday?"
"Perhaps. But you will have to continue to work hard."
"I will, Cap. I promise."
Rourke was about to remind him not to call him that particular name when he saw that Scrap had fallen asleep. With a sigh, he bent down and gingerly picked the child up, staggering a bit under the new weight. The young Gnorbu stirred a little, but did not wake. The Ogrin proceeded to walk towards the open doorway of Scrap's room, thankful it was not that far away. Rourke gingerly set him down on the bed and was going to go to his own quarters when he saw Scrap shiver out of the corner of his eye. His hands hovered over the covers for a second before he pulled them over the boy and exited the room. Once Rourke was in his own bed he let his thoughts drift to Scrap. The fact was that ever since he took him in Rourke had felt the bond between them grow from the state of friendship into that of a father and son.
Father. Rourke's mind swirled around that single word, trying to grasp its full extent. He was the only family Scrap had. The child did not remember his parents and said that he had always been an orphan. Scrap had told Rourke that he had only survived by begging and stealing. Oftentimes he had no shelter from the weather and had to huddle under roofs until a merchant chased him away. The captain remembered how grateful Scrap looked when he was told that the small room was his, saying that at last he had a home of his own. Parenthood was something Rourke had never even dreamed of. He had thought it would just be him and the Primella. Then, on that one fateful day, Scrap had been discovered. Rourke had been furious and had wanted nothing more than to throw the little stowaway in the brig. But when Scrap saved him from a giant insect he realized that the child was not so bad. After they were safely back on Krawk Island and went their separate ways, Rourke offered to take him in, as thanks for what Scrap had done back on the Lost Isle.
Then, months later Scrap was kidnapped. Rourke had felt like a piece of himself had been ripped away, leaving a cold and empty hole. It was then that he realized Scrap was more than just some orphan that needed a place to stay. In that instant Rourke came to regard Scrap as his own flesh and blood. When Scrap was finally safe the Ogrin was more grateful than he had ever been in his life. Shortly afterwards he had officially adopted Scrap, even giving him his surname. He repeated the child's full name to himself, feeling warmth flow through him.
For years it had been just him and the Primella sailing across the waters of Neopia. He had never cared to be around others longer than he had to. Rourke knew this caused many to think of him as cold and uncaring, but he was not bothered by it. It was more than enough to watch the first rays of sunlight peek over the horizon and bathe the surrounding landscape in hues of gold so that it looked as if the whole of Krawk Island was a glittering treasure. In the still hours of the morning he would anchor his boat and sit on the deck, letting the cool breeze flow over him. He had not needed nor wanted anything else.
Then Scrap came and he had felt he had gained something that had been missing from his life all along without him realizing it. He finally had someone he could pass his knowledge onto. When Scrap had first asked Rourke to teach him the Ogrin had been somewhat reluctant. He had lost the Primella once and feared that the boy might accidentally wreck it. Besides, teaching was not something he had done before. Still, Scrap seemed eager enough and, after promising that he would follow Rourke's instructions the letter, they had begun.
Scrap upheld his end of the bargain, never once straying from what his mentor told him. He focused on his lessons with such intensity that sometimes he seemed a completely different person altogether. He was a quick learner and Rourke could not help but be reminded of himself when he was that age. The first day of his training Rourke had gotten Scrap out of bed earlier than usual, the Gnorbu surprised when the captain gave him no instructions as they boarded the Primella. He knew that Rourke had a reason behind any action he did, though, and so kept silent. It wasn't until Rourke stopped the ship and anchored it near a shady copse that Scrap began to wonder what exactly the older male was up to. He had only pointed to the sky. Scrap had turned in the direction Rourke had indicated before his eyes widened upon seeing the same sight that never failed to marvel the Ogrin time and time again.
The Ogrin smiled to himself as he drifted off into sleep, dreaming of what was to come. For a good time, he lies there, content in his own world, before a scream tore him from his slumber. Rourke jolted upright and flung himself out of bed, shoving his door open with such force that it slammed against the wall. Fear gripped him like some terrible wraith as he rushed towards Scrap's room. He desperately tried not to think about the last time he heard such a sound but it was futile. The images of that terrible night had never been clearer. Havelock, gripping Scrap as the child squirmed in terror, the pain as the Lupe's dark magic hit him, the pleading in Scrap's eyes to save him before blackness overtook Rourke's vision.
He burst into the room, relief overtaking him when he saw that Havelock was nowhere in sight. Rourke then turned towards Scrap. He sat upright in his bed, his arms encircling his knees which were clutched to his chest underneath the stitched quilt Miss Lillian had given him when he first moved in. By the light of the oil lamp that sat beside his bed Rourke could see he was crying. Indeed, his whole body was shaking.
"C...cap, " Scrap stuttered through choked sobs.
Rourke sat beside him on the bed.
"It's okay. I'm here."
At those words Scrap flung his arms around the Ogrin's neck, burying his face in the soft cotton shirt.
"Havelock returned to take me to the that evil faerie. When I asked why he said that it didn't matter and I should consider myself fortunate that she had any interest in a street urchin. As he dragged me away I called out for you to come to my aid. I screamed until my throat was sore but you never appeared. Then he laughed and remarked that you obviously did not care about me. After all, who wants an orphan?"
The Gnorbu sniffled and looked up at Rourke.
"The night you were stolen from me was the worst one in my entire life. I was prepared to search the whole of Neopia to find you. When I finally did, I was relieved beyond measure. I never want to lose you ever again. This is your home, Scrap, and it will always be."
"Thank you, Father."
Rourke's eyes widened slightly. This was the first time Scrap had ever called him by that title. The Gnorbu drew back, afraid he had offended the captain.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..."
Rourke shook his head.
"There is no need to apologize, Son."
Scrap grinned and hugged Rourke tighter.
"Could we stay up a little while longer and talk? You know, just until I fall asleep again."
So the two conversed well into the night, Rourke regaling Scrap with tales of how his own father had taught him to sail a ship, of the time when he first saw the Primella sitting in Krawk Island's harbor and knew he had to have it, of the adventures he had while travelling across Neopia. Scrap's eyes eventually grew heavier until he couldn't keep them open any longer. Rourke carefully stood up before dimming the lamp and leaving, closing the door behind him with a soft click. As he walked back to his room he thought of what would have happened if Scrap had never entered his life, grateful that such a thing had never come to pass.