Characters (so far): America, Canada, Seychelles, Spain, Belarus
Warnings: Some violence, a bit of blood, and sailors cursing the way they do.
Summary: AU. When a dying sailor leaves them the fabled map to Captain Roma’s Treasure Island, orphaned brothers Alfred and Matthew will have to stick together to survive an adventure full of pirates, new friendships, danger and betrayal.
The girl was young, possibly even younger than Matthew and Alfred, and impossibly pale. Her hair was long, white and perfectly straight, pulled away from her eyes with a cute black bow that, when coupled with her lacy apron and suede boots, made her look a little like the heroine of a fantasy book they had once read. In one hand, she carried a severe-looking kitchen knife with a foot-long blade. From the deep gashes left in the old wood, they could only assume that was what she had been using on the door.
She stepped into the inn without a sound, her expression as black as a recently- washed blackboard. Her cold navy eyes scanned the dining room, taking in the three figures huddled in the corner – where Alfred was standing in front of Matthew and Seychelles as though he could protect them that way – before they finally landed on Antonio.
A cold smile crept across her features. “Antonio España.”
“Natalia,” Antonio replied, making no acknowledgement of the bizarre second name. “It’s been a long time.”
“Too long,” the girl Natalia whispered, crossing the floor to stand before him. She trailed the fingers of her free hand up the Spaniard’s neck, caressing his cheek and chin. “My dear brother and the Captain have been searching for you, Antonio. They’ve been searching a very, very long time.”
Alfred swallowed heavily, groping behind him until he found Matthew’s hand. From here, he could see Antonio reaching around to the back of his belt. He kept a gun there, Alfred knew. Antonio was afraid of this girl.
“You’ve been a very, very bad boy, Antonio,” Natalia cooed, as though she were talking to a baby. “Did you really think you would get away with it? You tried to take it all for yourself and leave your shipmates with nothing.”
Her eyes flashed dangerously at that, and she dug her nails into Antonio’s cheek. “You thought that you would leave my big brother with nothing.”
She slashed him across the cheek like a cat, drawing blood and leaving long scratched in the seaman’s flesh. Antonio took it without a word. Seychelles gasped in horror.
“That is why they sent me,” Natalia hissed, licking the blood from her fingertips. “Big brother knew that I could track you down, no matter where you tried to hide. And now that I’ve found you, there’s nowhere for you to run.”
Now that her fingers were free of blood, she reached into the pocket of her apron and drew out something small and flat – a piece of paper. She leaned very close, pressing it into his palm and standing on her tip-toes to whisper in his ear. “This is for you, Antonio. From all of us.”
Antonio looked at it, and his hand began to tremble. With a shout, he drew his pistol and shot her, right in the stomach.
Seychelles screamed again, and the twins grabbed hold of one another. Natalia had dodged at the last second and the bullet had missed. Now she was whirling around, her hair snapping behind her like a whip as she brought her knife down. It sliced deep into Antonio’s arm, shattering the bone. Antonio yelled in pain and dropped the gun.
Alfred would have lunged into the fight at that point, but Seychelles and Matthew held him back. With his good arm, Antonio grabbed Natalia by the hair and threw her to the ground.
“You won’t have it!” he raged, lunging for his gun. “Do you hear me? So help me god, none of you bastardos will ever have it! Not you, not Ivan, and not Ar–!”
Natalia let out an animalistic shriek at the second name, slashing up with her knife. It cut deep into Antonio’s side and stuck there, spraying the floor with blood.
Antonio fell to the ground, gasping for every strangled breath. The scream stuck in Seychelles’s throat, strangled by her horror. Natalia fled into the night, leaving her weapon behind.
A single piece of paper rested in the palm of Antonio’s hand. Dead center, it bore a spot as black as the darkest abyss.
“Is…Is he going to be okay?”
Matthew’s words were choked and hesitant with shock. They had managed to slow Antonio’s bleeding with a few spare towels and carried the seaman into his room, but the damage was so severe that they knew it wouldn’t be enough.
Seychelles looked back at him with uncertainty. “I don’t know,” she said softly. “But I’m going to go call a doctor. You boys stay with him, all right?”
The twins nodded, and their governess left the room. Matthew rubbed his eyes, clinging to the old, tattered white bear he always held when he was nervous or scared. Alfred had teased him about it once or twice, but never seriously, just like Matthew never teased him about having to share a bed after hearing a scary story. Even a hero needed comfort sometimes.
“I just don’t get it,” Matthew said gloomily, gazing down at the sleeping Spaniard. “Who was that woman? Why would she want to hurt him? Why would anybody want to hurt him?”
“Beats me, Mattie,” Alfred said, and frowned. Antonio was still clutching the piece of paper that the girl had handed him, the black spot watching them like an unblinking, unseeing eye. Alfred reached for it. “And what do you think about this thing, huh? What is it, anyway?”
“The Black Spot!”
Matthew yelped and Alfred leapt back as Antonio suddenly snapped back to consciousness, drawing in a harsh breath. “The Black Spot! Dios mio, they’re coming for me! The Black Spot!”
“Antonio, please calm down!” Matthew gasped. “You’re hurt!”
“Yeah, you’ll be in big trouble if you keep trashing around like that!” Alfred chimed in, trying to hold the Spaniard down. “Quit freaking out over that stupid piece of paper!”
“You don’t understand!” Antonio insisted, grabbing Alfred by the collar and dragging him down until they were face-to-face. “The Black Spot is a pirate’s death sentence. They’ll be coming to finish me off! Tonight!”
He choked then, coughing up a mouthful of blood. Alfred shoved away from him and scrambled back, grabbing onto Matthew. The Spaniard moaned pitifully and writhed in pain against the mattress until he finally lay still. Blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth.
Mathew stepped forward, clutching his bear. “An-Antonio?”
Antonio coughed, grasping the air with his good hand. Matthew clasped it with his own and allowed himself to be pulled to the bedside. “Mateo. Alfredo. You’ve always been good boys, you have. Los bueno ninos…”
He coughed again, and more blood came up. Alfred crept up beside his brother, placing a hand on Matthew’s shoulder. Though they had never seen it before, something in them knew: they were watching a man die.
“You have to take it.”
“Take what?” Matthew asked, breathless.
“The map. Take the map. From my sea chest,” Antonio motioned weakly to the chest at the end of his bed. “There.”
The twins exchanged a look. Alfred went around to the trunk and began digging through its contents. Matthew stayed by the bed, holding Antonio’s hand. “I don’t understand,” he said softly. “A map of what?”
“An otherwise uncharted island in the heart of the Caribbean sea,” Antonio chuckled. “You follow those coordinates and directions, and it’ll lead you straight to old Roma’s treasure.”
Alfred’s head snapped up. “No way! You mean you really–?”
“Aye,” Antonio whispered, lost for a moment in the fond memories. “Old Roma was a regular bastardo, but he made a good captain, were you willing to loyally serve. I gave eight years of my life under his flag, and as my reward, he gave me what I needed to be set for life.”
Matthew pulled his eyes from the dying man and looked to his brother. Alfred was digging through the chest again, pushing clothes and tools and papers to the side. Finally, his hands fell on a worn, leather cylindrical case that was just soft enough to be easily storable and just sturdy enough to protect its contents.
Alfred held his breath as he undid the black ties that held the cylinder closed. With careful hands, he drew out the parchment inside and spread it out on top of the chest.
It was exactly as Antonio had said: the map to Treasure Island.
“Beware!” Antonio gasped, and choked on the word. “G-Guardese ninos…”
Alfred jumped, rolling the map back up and stuffing it away, rushing back to the bedside. “What? Beware what?”
“The rest of old Roma’s crew,” Antonio insisted, still coughing heavily. “They’ll be coming for me and the map, tonight. You have to take it, and you have to get out of here, both of you and Seychelles, or they’ll butcher you all.”
Alfred clutched the map with one hand and grabbed his brother’s shoulder with the other. He could almost hear them, on the boundaries of his imagination, charging up the cliff with guns and swords and death in their eyes…
“That girl who came today, her brother is the most vicious of the lot. He is tall, a giant, and pale like her. In vicious anger, his fury cannot be matched. But he is not the worst of them.” Antonio coughed again, splattering blood across the pillowcase, and clutched Matthew’s hand like the lifeline in a storm. “Beware the one-legged man…”
“What?” Matthew gasped, clutching his bear with one arm.
“Beware the one-legged man!” Antonio shouted, loud enough to leave their ears ringing. “He’s the one who have to watch out for, god yes. Heart’s as black as pitch, he’s ruthless and stingy and cruel to boot. Never turn your back on him, and if you see him coming, get away as quickly as you can. He’ll stop at nothing to get that map, nothing!”
He cut off with a strangled choke, making a weak final squeak. He sank back against the pillows, his eyes unfocused for a moment before they finally closed. His mouth was red with his own blood.
“Antonio?” Matthew asked, hesitant.
“Do you smell that, ninos?” Antonio asked with a smile, his nose sniffing at the air. “Smells like…tomatoes…”
And with those final mysterious words, he died.