Ah, now—there she is. There she is again—at last. She's still hurting and you know you're far from finished making it up to her. You've failed her for so long, only because you were too much a fool to think the problem through. There was always a way, of course. The simplest thing in the world. You just didn't see it.

So, so much hurt in her eyes still. You might be the rest of your life making it up to her, and still not be done. But—past all the hurt, shines hope—

After all that's passed between you, what you've done just now barely counts as even a start. But it is a start. And you know how to follow it, too.

"Four years and seven months you owe me. That right?" When she hesitates to answer, you shake her by the scruff—not painful hard, not quite. Not this time.

"Yes, Captain." So quiet. So unlike her, who could all but smash the glass out of your cabin windows when she was really going. Quiet now, is she? Well, we'll see about that

"You really think"—another harder shake—"I'm going to let"—and another, harder still—"you out of that so easy?" Getting louder now, and you weren't speaking softly before. "Four years and seven months! And I'm to waste it all, you think?" Louder still. Loud as you were that first day she wandered up your gangplank, floated up it like a ghost. "I'm to hang you from the yardarm now? Damn it all—is that what you think?" And one last shake. "Answer me!"

Her eyes on yours—afire now. Exactly as you want them—