Hunt on the High Seas

Chapter 7

Disclaimer: I don't own them, they are still in the protective care of Kripke and the CW.

A/N: Finally they are at sea. Thanks for reading and/or waiting to read.

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Out of habit Carmine reached for the camera bag at her feet, a shorter lens would capture the beauty of his pain. Her actions were automatic, the motion fluid, the lens had been changed and as the lens came up and the focus set. He blinked and all the emotion that had been so evident was gone.

Once out of the delta the throbbing diesel engine was shut down, the sails raised and the quiet was broken by the sound of the waves lightly slapping the sides of the Mandalay.

The silence woke the youngest Winchester. "Dean, do you hear that?"

"Wha?" Dean's voice still groggy from interrupted sleep.

"Exactly, it's so quiet." Through the quiet of the night they could hear the slight thwock of a rigging clip against the wooden mast.

"We're awake we may as well get the lay of the land…or ship. We should check out the Admirals cabin. Hey, Sammy have you checked the berth assignments of the missing?"

"I already did that. They were all in different cabins. They weren't from the same cities. They didn't work for the same company or even in the same type of business. The only connection between them is that they all died on this ship."

"Let's go," Taking the stairs outside their room Dean and Sam emerged on the bow of the moon lit deck.

The deck consisted of the wheel house where the first officer, Jones was piloting the ship. Joe had gone to his cabin once they had raised the sails and set the course for Panama.

Talking in hushed voices Forester asked, "So, Jones we heard that there have been some tourists missing from the ship and we were wondering if it's something we have to worry about?"

"I'm not sure what you're talking about," Jones replied as he made a slight adjustment to the wheel. "What have you heard?"

"Just what's been in the papers. You know, passengers making unscheduled departures from the Mandalay, and never turning up at home again."

"Now just what papers are you reading?"

"The New Orleans Gazette, I also found something about it on the web. Anytime I take a job I try to learn as much as I can about the company. I'll read reviews from customers, travel brochures, I google the business and check the hits."

"Why would you do that?" Jones asked.

Teague answered, "I ask myself that same question all the time. It's like he can't help himself. He's always on the computer looking shit up. Hell, when I heard about the job I figured it sounded like a good time, half naked chicks, bored out of their mind and looking for a good time."

Jones chuckled, "Yeah, that's what I thought at first. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of the women on board are married, on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. If you're looking for singles on the prowl you want the big cruise lines."

"Damn," Teague exclaimed as he cuffed Forester on the back of the head, "How come you don't look for that kind of information?"

"I did tell you that, but obviously you went straight to the half naked women part and stopped thinking with the head on your shoulders. You're confusing reality with porn again. Reality. Porn. It was that kind of thinking that made us take the job in the first place."

"So, Teague, are you running from some chick trying to trap you or her old man trying to kill you?" Jones asked with a smirk, he'd seen the type before and it wouldn't be long before Joe ran him off the ship.

"Yeah, well really doesn't matter, I'm outta range of her daddy and I wasn't doing the chasing this time. You know how it is, Jones," Teague said with a shrug of his shoulders and a quick grin.

"Oh, yeah, she was chasing till you let her catch you. Then she goes crying to daddy 'cause you're not her knight in shining armor."

"Nope, this was more like I was standing there, she climbed my frame, stuck her tongue down my throat, step back and bitch slapped me."

Jones laughed at the falsely innocent look on Teague's face.

Forester's laughter was the laughter of first hand knowledge. He had seen Didi do that very thing more than once in the short time they had known her.

"Hey, Jones did you see the broad that came on board just before departure?" Teague asked with a glimmer in his eye. "She looked hot in all the right places."

"Yeah, but Joe doesn't want you messing with her."

"So you think you've got a chance with her?" Teague asked, trying to build rapport with the big former marine.

"Ah, hell no, my wife would make a eunuch out of me as soon I got back to Panama if I even thought about it," Jones said with a shy smile.

"Dude, I wouldn't take you for a whipped man."

"I'm not whipped, I'm loved by the mother of my six kids. All it takes is one look from Maria and we're well on our way to number seven."

"Well, Jones I guess that makes you one of the lucky ones. I'm just glad I won't be competing with you for the lovely photographer's charms."

"Yeah, lucky you but you'd better watch out for your buddy here," nodding towards Forester. "He and the lady in question watched the sunset and seemed very aware of each other and not much else."

"Is that true, Sa… ah, Dean?"

"What? Yeah we watched the sunset and we talked for a few minutes," Forester said distractedly as he pushed his hand back through his bangs.

"You know if that hair of yours is getting in the way Morris can take care of it for you."

"Who's Morris?"

"He's the head cook, he'll join the cruise in Panama. He was a barber in the Corp and got into cooking when he got out. He could shear a recruit in less than three minutes without a nick. If he went any faster than that and the recruit would likely bleed to death. You ever see a head wound bleed?"

"Yeah, I've stitched a few, from bar fights mostly." Forester answered.

Joe laughed as he glanced at Teague, "Be careful about fighting on the ship, there's not much room for it and Joe will bounce your ass right off the deck. Then you'll be dealing with that little girl and her daddy."

Chuckling, Teague acknowledged, "That sounds like good advice. Not sure I can follow all your advice but I'll sure put an effort into not fighting. But I can't promise not to chase the skirt. That goes against my nature."

"Joe doesn't have many rules while on board but fighting is number one and fraternizing with the clients is a close second. Watch yourself, because I'll back him up 100%."

"Okay, Jones I got the message, no fighting and no chasing women on the ship. We better let you get back to your duties." Turning from Jones, Teague and Forester headed to the stairs to go below deck.

….

During the four day journey to Panama Teague and Forester learned the ropes of their respective jobs.

Sam "Forester" was not surprised by the duties of being a bartender. The bar had a copy of 'The Complete Bartenders Guide to Mixology', so he spent some time studying the guide. Sam also learned that while not on duty he was expected to help with maintaining the appearance of the upper decks by polishing the many brass fittings and swabbing the decks.

Dean "Teague" on the other hand learned that his job boiled down to being a glorified motel maid while on the ship. He spent his time learning the proper way to clean a berth and which passenger items he was allowed to move while cleaning the berth. Once he had cleaned the berths he would help out in the galley as needed.

Dean "Teague" sat in the bar with the crew not currently on duty the last evening at sea and nursed his beer, "Hey, Forester it looks like you drew the plumb job, swabbing the decks and polishing brass in the morning then tending bar in the evening."

"Oh, yeah there's nothing like working half the night then getting up before the birds to wipe everything down while you lay in bed till nine, play motel maid then cut veggies in the galley."

Chuckling at his brother Dean answered, "But you forgot my most important duty. While everyone else is dining on my perfectly cut veggies I'm in their room leaving fresh towels on the end of the bed, turning down the sheets and placing a chocolate on the pillow."

"I don't want to hear about it," Sam answered good naturedly, "You chose the job you wanted giving you access to all parts of the ship. It's not my fault that you threw yourself in front of the Ship Steward bus."

Carmine walked into the lounge and all eyes followed her progress the bar, "Dean," she said to Forester, "could I have an Appletini tonight?"

"Sure, Carmine would you like that shaken or stirred?"

"Stirred please and why don't you try one of those cool bartender tricks and flip the straw from the mixing glass to the serving glass. I hear that trick once mastered is a sure tip getter with the young single crowd. Who knows it might work with the honeymooners or anniversary set."

Having tended bar while at Stanford Sam already knew the technique and executed it flawlessly. He thought derisively, 'see all that time spent at college wasn't a total waste of time.'

"Hey you're a quick study," Carmine said as she dropped a dollar on the bar, "and if I was one of the young single crowd I might write my number on the bar napkin and tuck it into your hand when I accepted my drink. But I checked earlier and we still don't have cell reception so that gesture would be wasted."

"Well in that case I won't have to tell you that the Captain frowns on the help fraternizing with the guests."

Laughing coquettishly Carmine tossed her head saying, "Good thing I'm not a paying guest then isn't it?"

Ducking his head to cover the blush that sped up his features Forester turned to busy himself with arranging the back bar area.

"But you're a guest none the less," Joe said as he entered the lounge. "I'm glad I found all of you here this will save sometime. I just wanted to let you know we should be in port tomorrow evening. Saturday afternoon we'll take on our passengers and we'll be leaving port by 6 p.m."

"Teague, Morgan and Connors, that means you'll have a busy morning as the passengers are boarding, show them to their berths and place the luggage on the rack. Give them directions to the lounge and dining room."

"Morris and the rest of kitchen crew will come aboard tomorrow evening with supplies and will begin preparations for Saturday. Dinner will be served in the galley at 7 p.m. so the passengers can enjoy an after dinner drink on the deck with the sun going down."

"Johnson, Andrews, Smith, Hernandez, Grainger and Forester you'll need to start early on the decks then we'll need to make sure the bar is stocked and ready to pour shortly after they come aboard."

"We've got two medics joining us tomorrow night. We don't expect them to be terribly busy with anything more than sunburn or hangovers, but we'll be prepared for anything."

"Carmine, could you possibly help us out? The photographer that we usually use can't join us this trip, his wife is expecting their first child in the next two weeks and I haven't found a replacement. Could you take pictures during the cruise? I don't want you to feel pressured into doing it and you'll be compensated for your time."

"Let me check with my boss and as long as there's no conflict of interest I'm sure it won't be a problem. I'll need to get releases signed so I can use some of the photographs in the article, but that was our plan."

"I don't have a problem with that as long as your boss is okay with the arrangement."

"Before you get too excited about me working for you, wait till you hear my asking price."

"I'm sure we can negotiate a reasonable contract," taking Carmine by the arm Joe led her to a table to continue negotiations.

…..

The days passed quickly for the Winchesters, there was always work to be done and when their duties allowed they continued to search for the passenger most likely to set the Woman in White on her path of destruction.

Sam "Forester" was busy cleaning the wheel house when he found a plaque with the name Hussar and the date August 2, 1923 on it. All the embellishments on the ship had thus far been brass this one caught his attention because it was silver and if he remembered correctly Hussar was the original name of the Mandalay.

Heading back to the cabin he shared with his brother, Grainger and Hernandez he hoped to find Dean and verify his facts about the original name. Not sure if the plaque had any significance in the case.

So far neither Winchester had found any sign of the Woman in White. It was looking like they were on the hunt that would never happen.

Taking the stairs from the aft deck Sam dropped into the hall and ran into Carmine. Reaching out to steady her after their collision "Forester" greeted his new friend. "Good morning, Carmine. What has Joe got you doing today?"

"He's got me slaving away underwater today. I'm going scuba diving with a group of ten this morning then this afternoon I'm to swim with the fishes and a group of twenty-five."

"Well I guess that's better than being feed to the sharks," Sam said with a full dimpled smile.

"You'd think so, but most of our male guests are land sharks. I've turned down eight or ten guys looking for a high seas romance. I've even considered carrying a spear gun while on board."

Laughing "Dean" brushed his bangs back form his face, "Do you really think that's going to deter anybody?"

"No. But I'd feel better if I was armed and it's the only weapon I've seen on board. It's either armed or attached to some big strong man," Carmine reached out to stroke the definition line of his bicep.

Jumping as if he'd been burned by her touch Forester rubbed his arm to lessen the goose flesh that had immediately sprung up. Blushing at his over reaction he asked, "Carm," ach chem he vocalized as he cleared his throat to try again. "Carmine, have you talked to Joe about what's going on?"

"No, I haven't. It might surprise you but I don't make a habit out of running to the boss when I get harassed, it's not like this is the first time it's ever happened. I've always handled this kind of stuff myself."

"Why do guys think they can pull this kind of crap?" the concern in his voice echoed in the deep furrow of his brow.

"Dean, it goes all the way back to the cavemen. I think most guys are just hardwired to be that way. Present company excluded, of course."

"Thanks, but it's too bad more guys don't contain their baser urges."

"Dean, are you sure you're not involved with Teague?"

"What?" he asked incredulously.

"Are you sure you're not involved with Teague?" Carmine asked very slowly.

"He's my br… he's like a brother to me. And no we are not involved. In fact he's one of the cavemen, he thinks he's god's gift to women and that they are there for his enjoyment."

"So would you mind playing my big strong boyfriend for the rest of the trip?"

"I'm not sure how much good it will do, I don't have much time to spare."

"If you'd rather not it's okay, Dean. Just don't blow me off."

"I'm not blowing you off. I'm trying to explain, I just finished my first shift, I've got four hours off before I have to work the bar. I don't finish at the bar until 2:30 or so then I start again at 7."

"Do all of you work that much?"

"Yeah, everybody has a least two or three jobs to do throughout the day."

"I didn't realize Joe enforced slave labor."

"It's not so bad and the money is pretty good. I'm making good tips and I don't have anywhere to spend the money."

"Well you still have to eat, come on let's go have breakfast in the dining room."

"You know Joe doesn't go for the help fraternizing with the guests."

"Yeah, I know but then he hired me to photograph our lovely guests, so that makes me one of the help, so that argument won't fly."

"That's what I mean, we can't eat in the dinning room with the guests."

"But your being my big strong man won't play if the guests don't see us together."

"Just so we're clear, what are your expectations of my big strong man services?" the dimples on his face deepened as he smiled shyly through his bangs.

"How about this, any meals that we can share, maybe a little hand holding, moonlight strolls. You know, couple stuff."

"Well the hand holding and meals will be easy but the moonlight strolls are going to be tough with me working into the wee hours."

"How about we start with breakfast and we'll see how that goes," taking Forester's huge hand she wove her fingers into his grasp and lead the way to the dining room. Looking down at their entwined hands Carmine smiled mischievously as she wondered if it were true about the size of a mans hands in relation to the size of other, more interesting parts of a man.

…..

"Damn these people are slobs," Dean muttered. The compact cabin didn't leave much room for clutter but the inhabitants had things strewn all around.

The bathroom was a real mess, after removing the dirty towels Dean set about cleaning the sink and counter, and then wiped the shower stall and toilet. Dean then used a clean cloth dipped in bleach to wipe the floor. The soft click of the door alerted him to the presence of another, before he could straighten up his chino clad butt was being caressed.

"My gawd you've got a tight ass," the woman drawled as Dean straightened. "Are you almost done here?"

Clearing his throat and turning to remove her hand from his ass, Dean answered, "as soon as I've straightened the bed I can be out of your way."

"I was hoping that we could spend some time rolling around in the sheets before you straightened it up."

Stammering, Dean answering, "uh, ma'am I'm sorry but that's not one of the services the Mandalay offers."

"But it's a service I'm more than willing to pay for," the woman purred.

Dean's face registered shock while the voice in his head screamed, 'She's willing to pay me for sex, awesome!' But his voice of its own volition said, "I'm flattered but I could lose my job for that." Inside his head his inner voice exploded, 'are you freakin' nuts! She wants to have sex, she's willing to pay and it's not like you're trying to keep this job.'

"Look honey, my husband is off diving with that photographer girl and I don't have much time before they're due back. So what's it going to be?"

As she waited for Teague's reply she shrugged out of the sheer white dressing gown to reveal all she had to offer.

Teague had watched the garment slide down her body and pool at her feet, his gaze then traveled up her shapely legs, over her trim waist and stopped at her perfectly shaped breasts. Stepping towards her he reached out to take the weight of her breast in his hand.

"Take me home," the woman said before Dean was slammed against the bulkhead of the ship and slipped into unconsciousness.

"What the hell?!" Dean said as his hands came up to cradle his aching head. Turning quickly he scanned the room, no one was there and the dressing gown that he had watch fall from the woman's body was nowhere to be found.

Stepping across the cabin he jerked the door open to check the passageway, still no sign of the woman.