There were few passengers aboard the ship, and Wilde and Zolf had sequestered themselves away as much as possible from any interaction, in case they encountered someone with this strange new sickness that spread so insidiously. The passage across to Japan had been turbulent from the start, but now the waves were taller and the squalls angrier.
Even if he’d have liked to get some fresh air, to clear his head above decks, Wilde wouldn’t have been able to, due to the gale that pounded the ship from all sides. As such, he’d been pacing across the cabin he shared with Zolf, before a frantic wave cast the ship on its side and sent Wilde tumbling.
Zolf barely managed to catch him before his head clattered on the bunk. On unsteady sea legs, Wilde allowed Zolf to pull him onto the mattress, sitting beside him.
“Feeling alright?” Zolf asked, his arm still around Wilde’s shoulders.
“Not really,” he admitted. “Forgive the expression, but my head is swimming.”
“‘Forgive the expression’? Since when have you regretted a pun? You must be sick,” Zolf joked, and Wilde mustered a smirk. “We should only have a day or two more of this.”
Wilde groaned and leaned a little more heavily into Zolf’s side.
Zolf had kept his arm around Wilde to provide some comfort, some stability, as the room shook, but he couldn’t deny how natural it felt. Even if the squall stopped suddenly, he wouldn’t want to move.
Shaking his head and pushing those thoughts from his mind, Zolf attempted to find an anecdote to clear the silence and distract Wilde from his building seasickness.
“Lots of people get sick on boats. You should have seen me on that airship we took to get out of Paris. I was a mess.”
Wilde laughed. “You? Really? But you’re a sailor! You should be used to boats!”
“Not when they’re in the sky!” Zolf exclaimed, then smiled as Wilde continued to laugh. It had been a long time since either of them had properly laughed. The scar across Wilde’s face may have dulled his smile, but his laugh was as resonant as ever.
“Hopefully the storm will pass soon,” Zolf remarked, even though they both knew it would likely only get worse. “If the rain clears, you’ll be able to look out the porthole again. I was always told that the best way to get over seasickness was to watch the horizon. It doesn’t shift the way the ship or the ocean do. It’s steady, constant.”
Without looking, Zolf could feel Wilde gazing over at him, before he murmured, “I think I understand that. Eyes on our horizon.”
More nervous than he’d care to admit, Zolf turned to look at Oscar. He’d only seen that softness in Wilde's eyes on rare occasions, when he thought Zolf wasn’t looking. But Zolf had noticed them all, even if he ignored the way it made his stomach fill with knots. Just another way Wilde had devised to annoy him, Zolf figured.
But now, with Oscar in his arms, looking at him like he was the only safe harbor left in the world, Zolf couldn’t ignore those feelings anymore.
He pressed his lips to Oscar’s forehead before he realized what he was doing. Oscar tensed, then softened, melting into Zolf’s half-embrace with a contented mumble. He casually placed an arm around Zolf’s back as he shifted positions, his head now entirely resting on Zolf’s shoulder.
“And if you should stumble again,” Zolf said quietly, “you know I’ll be there to catch you.”
“And I, you,” Oscar replied and nuzzled sleepily into Zolf’s shoulder.
Truthfully, sleep was the next best way to conquer seasickness, and Oscar was already sleep deprived. As the two of them began to doze off, leaning against each other as the ship continued to sway and buck, they stayed steady, reaching for their horizon.