Sucking the Pirate’s Cock Ch.04 (Gay Adventure)

gay pirate man (2)

Morning watch bells woke me from a dream of warm arms and icy commands. I groaned, stretching as best I could while not knocking myself from the ropes. I looked out over the deck – it was deserted in the early morning mist. The only other living being would be the watchman, up in the crows nest. I squinted up towards the top of the mast, trying to see who it was.

The lad must have seen my movement, because a hand came up and waved. I waved back, although I couldn’t tell who I was waving at. Then I settled myself in and enjoyed the song of the sunrise and peace of nothingness.

Eventually, it dawned on me that everyone else must be at breakfast, which meant that I should be too. I sighed and pulled myself up, wishing I could stay up here forever. I looked down to the deck.

It would take a long time and a stupid amount of effort to climb down like I had been doing, the land boy’s way.

Of course, there was another way. A better way. I’d been avoiding it, because I didn’t want these men to know me for what I was, but at this point it seemed foolish to hide my skills. Besides, my way was more fun, and I wanted the rush. Needed to clear my head, flush my body.

I let go of the ropes.

I was down at the deck in moments, letting my body weight do most of the work. It isn’t hard to get down from a height, really. You just have to fall. The tricky bit is not letting yourself fall too fast, controlling your momentum with checks and yanks to ropes, until you can force the unyielding ground to accept your body once more, trick it into holding you by rolling across its surface like a stone skipping across still water.

I lost my balance at the very end, tumbling across the deck and coming to a stop on my ass somewhere near the barrel pit. But despite it, I couldn’t stop smiling; for the first time in a long time, I had endorphins on my side for no other reason than joy.

I heard a shout go up above me and looked up to the concerned face of the watchman. I laughed and waved, signalling that everything was alright. If I was lucky, he hadn’t seen anything but the end of my descent. Perhaps he would think I had fallen. I stood and dusted myself off, moving towards the door to head below decks.

Just as I reached it, it swung open and I was face to face with the Captain.

This, this was what falling truly was. My stomach dropped out from beneath me, my limbs felt as if they were made of water. I put a hand on the door frame to steady myself, trying to keep my knees from buckling. I had hoped that distance might make this easier, that not sleeping in his chambers would lend me some sort of clarity when I saw him again, but the same war waged within me. I needed him. I couldn’t let him hurt me again.

I couldn’t let myself hurt him.

If my presence had a similar effect on him, he didn’t show it. His dark eyes took me in, noting the marks the press of the ropes had left on my body, the way my shirt had fallen from my shoulder. He paused there for a moment, and I wanted him to have a reaction, to show me what it meant to see my bare skin. Instead, his eyes continued unchanged. I pulled my shirt back onto my body only when he no longer was watching.

“Finn told me you’d slept in the riggings.”

“Yes.” I didn’t really know what else to say, but somehow found myself feeling guilt. This man hurt me, I reminded myself angrily. Intentions that were good or no, it had been hurtful and my anger was righteous. I had protected myself as I had needed to; I had nothing to feel guilty about. I remembered the first night I almost hadn’t come back, how upset the Captain had been. “I’m sorry,” I heard myself start, and was surprised to find that I was.

But the Captain waved away my apology. “For what? For not coming back to my room to be tied up? Like a dog.” I thought there was something on his face at that, and I winced to hear my words used against him from his own mouth.

“I just needed some space,” I said quietly.

“I understand.”

We stood there in silence. I found my eyes wandering his face, his body, looking for any sign that he might still care for me. Natch had said that he wanted me, wanted me so badly he was willing to put his crew in danger; I couldn’t bring myself to believe it. Maybe he wanted my body, maybe my hands on his, my conveniently transient soul.

And yet, if he had only wanted me because I was going to leave, why not take me now? Why shut down so completely when he knew that I was going to be gone?

When he knew he would put me on land.

And that, I hardened again, my knees growing new strength beneath me. I straightened up and crossed my arms.

His eyes dropped to my arms. “Oh,” he said. He sounded surprised, his voice knocked from its previously sterile state. “You’re injured.”

I looked down at the red line Ichor had put on me yesterday. “It’s nothing,” I said truthfully. When I looked back up, I was surprised to see him reaching out to me, his hand hovering in the space between us, and I was surprised that my body didn’t pull away.

It didn’t need to. He let his hand drop before it came anywhere near my skin. My heart sank, and I reprimanded it sternly. He wasn’t to touch me. He wasn’t to –

“A decision has been made, about you. I just wanted you to hear it from me first.” He wasn’t looking at me, instead casting unfocused eyes off to the side. “You’re to be dropped off in two days time.”

“You’ve chosen the island then.” I tried to keep my accusation from my throat.

“Aye.” He sighed. “It’s nice, got a village and.” He stopped and brought his hands together before him.

“You don’t want me with you.” There the accusation was; not even in tone, it manifested in words and leapt unbidden from my tongue.

But he was quick to respond, his eyes flashing to my face. “You’re the one who pushed away. Is this not what you wanted? This is better for you, safer, to be far from me. I warned you, I told you this would happen, and you still -“

We both stopped as the first of the men filtered past us. I stared at the man before me, dark curls falling into his face as he watched the ground between our feet. Did he think he was protecting me? In fairness, I had thought I was protecting myself to stay away from him, but somehow this felt worse. Somehow, this made me feel so guilty. I wanted to reach out and smooth the lines that passed between his eyes, press back the hair that fell between us until we were so close there was nothing, nothing but our bodies.

I didn’t move.

In a break between men passing, he spoke again. “I can’t.” He sounded so broken that I almost cried. How could one man break so beautifully? How could two words make me feel so terribly? It wasn’t my fault, I tried to tell myself, I hadn’t caused this, but I just wasn’t sure anymore.

“I know,” I told him, as softly as I knew how. “I’m sorry.”

“Aye.” He turned to go. “Me too.”

I watched him leave, pushing against the flow of sailors coming up from breakfast. You can’t blame him, Natch had said, and as my eyes followed his shoulders in the sea of nobodies I found that I didn’t. My soul broke, then, the sea flooding from it to try and follow him, to rush forth and take him back but I knew it was too late.

The Captain was gone.

I cursed myself then, cursed my idiotic need for control and whatever thought had lead me to this point in my life. But there was nothing to do, and so I turned and was swept up in the rush of the sailors, letting their bodies bump up against me in ghosts of touches that I dreamed of, and tried to become a nobody too.

Hams asked me if I was alright three times that morning. I wonder if it was because I has slowed down so much from the day before; I wonder if it was because the weight of everything I had done was crushing me as surely as if I were at the bottom of the ocean. When his hand touched my shoulder for the fourth time, I didn’t even jump. The gravity of it all wouldn’t allow me. The rope that was in my hand sunk to the deck.

“My boy,” he told me quietly. “You’ve been at that rope for some time now.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing, Hams.” He knew I wasn’t talking about the ropes. He patted me on the shoulder gently.

“Aye, lad. Why don’t you head down to Cookie; I’m sure he could use your help.”

I nodded, slow, and made my way below decks. I was halfway to the kitchen when I heard a voice call from the darkness.

“Boy.”

I turned and found Wicky, slouching in shadows. He was staring me down, perhaps trying to be intimidating, but I had already destroyed my world and there was nothing he could do to me.

“If I see you with the Captain between now and when you disembark, I will kill you.”

I thought about what to say to that. Better men than you have tried? Give it your best shot?

I settled on the truth. “I’m already dead.”

And it was true; the sea had filled my lungs, my heart had stopped, and when my body had begun again I had lost my name, my ship, my friends, and my life. What could this man do to me that compared?

I turned my back on him and walked away.

“Don’t turn your back on me, you arrogant fool.” Wicky followed me down the hall. “I meant what I said; I will kill you, cut that dick of yours right off. I won’t let you bring the Pirate King down on our -“

He let loose a choked cry as I lifted him by the throat. Poor man; he could not have known the sea flowed through me with my breath. It was so hard to breath, so hard to drag air into my chest past the thick ocean that lined my lungs. He was small, insignificant, and I carried his weight easily in the face of everything else I bore. “You should not worry,” I told him, “about the Pirate King.”

He was kicking, his limbs swinging freely in space, his hands scrabbling at mine. I held him tight. Behind his form, a man rounded the corner. I watched him stop, his jaw dropping at the sight of me holding the first mate aloft, the sounds of choking filling the hall. I met his eyes for only an instant before turning back to Wicky. Nobodies, all of them. I was only vaguely aware when took off at a dead run towards the deck.

“Worry instead,” I told the man turning purple in my grasp, “about his ghost.”

His eyes went big at that, or maybe they were popping from lack of oxygen. I could kill him, I realized. How easy it would be, to hold him tighter, then tighter still, to deny him breath as he had denied me my Captain. The sea pushed against my ears.

The man skidded around the corner again, pointing. “Ghost,” I heard a voice call. I looked up to find the blonde hair of Natch.

I scowled. He didn’t want to be anywhere near this. His eyes took in my form, still and dangerous, and the form I held in my hand. Wicky, too, was becoming quite still, his movements sluggish and slow.

“Holy fuck.” He approached me slowly, as one might a stray dog. I tightened my grip on Wicky, causing him to jerk in my hand, and Natch froze. “Ghost, mate, put him down.”

I didn’t see any reason to. I took in the red face of the first mate, the fear that spread through his body like a sickness. Then I turned my eyes back to Natch.

“Please.” He looked like he might be sick. “Don’t kill him.”

“Two days is long enough to take the ship,” I told him, still looking at Wicky. “I don’t need to go the any damn island.” It wasn’t the island I was upset about. I wasn’t thinking about what I was upset about – I was thinking about how soft Wicky felt in my hand, how fragile. My mouth tasted like salt, whipped up from the storm that brewed in my stomach. The ocean would care for me, I thought. The ocean would take Wicky’s body as a gift and it would be calmed, and I would feel better.

Natch was still approaching, the idiot. “Think of the Captain,” he said quietly. “Think of what he would say.”

The Captain. I took another look at Wicky. “He’ll find out anyway.” I squeezed.

But Natch was at my side, his hand on mine. “Ghost,” he said quietly, guiding my hand to a place where Wicky’s feet could touch the floor. They bowed beneath him, unwilling to hold his weight. “Let him go.”

I felt my face twist, felt my body shift through a million different versions of how this could go. Natch’s hand was warm on mine, and comforting. I felt his kindness calm the storm held in each, the pounding sea retreating up my wrist, returning to my chest. One by one my fingers peeled from Wicky’s neck.

I stood there above the gasping first mate, Natch at my side. Then I turned and continued my way down the hall.

“Natch,” I heard Wicky gasp behind me. “Control your fucking mutt.”

I stopped, my back to them, to listen.

“Oh, Christ,” Natch replied. “You can’t control a dead man.”

Natch might not know who I had been, I realized then, but he knew who I was better than anyone else in my life. I wiped my hands on my pants and walked the rest of the way to the kitchen.

***

When I arrived, I found that Natch had followed me.

“You can’t do stuff like that, Ghost.”

“I thought you understood that you couldn’t control me.” I moved past the confused Cookie, finding the coil of rope more or less where I had left it.

“I’m not telling you what to do, I’m asking – whoah.” Ropes tied and ready, I was midway through stripping. I turned and raised an angry brow at him.

“Your back.” He pointed, as if I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“What of it.” I couldn’t keep the edge from my voice. I didn’t want to talk of my scars, violent and painful, deep uneven ridges that lined the entirety of my shoulders all the way to my lower back. I didn’t care to explain how they had come about. It was an old life, a distant world.

He backed off at my tone. “Nothing.”

“How long until lunch, Cookie.”

“Two hours, give or take.”

“Good.” I stripped of my pants. Natch’s eyes bulged and he turned away. “I’m going for a swim.” Without waiting for a response, I climbed through the window and cast myself to the waves.

Once in the water, I tied myself to the rope. I didn’t want to get lost from the ship, as much as I didn’t especially want to be on it. When I was secure, I ducked under the waves and deprived myself of breath.

Before long, my lungs were burning. Then my limbs started twitching, my head throbbing with my heart. But I would not give my body what it wanted. Submit, I told myself. Give yourself to the ocean. Give yourself to fate. Control your body and nothing else.

You can’t control anything else. You fucking idiot, stop trying to have control.

My limbs relaxed, running out of fight. My brain reached a hazy point of semi-consciousness, floating there in the salt, and I let myself come undone. I lost my hands, then my feet. Then my torso. In time I was nothing but a soul, adrift in the uncaring sea.

I gave my soul to fate, and then I was nothing.

When I pulled myself up to the kitchen an hour or so later I found it deserted. I didn’t mind; it gave me the privacy I still needed. I was delicate from my time in the sea, and took my time washing and dressing.

Cookie came in as I was coiling the last of the rope. He scowled to see me and tossed me a blade, which I caught. “You scared Natch somethin’ fierce.”

I didn’t have anything to say to that. He should be scared. They all should be. It was not my fault they had not taken the time to learn this when they had first brought me aboard.

“And there’s something afoot, some emergency meeting.”

I shrugged. I had asked the sea to care for me; she either would or she would not. My fate was out of my hands. I did the chores that Cookie asked and was not bothered by this news.

Soon, the first of the men began trickling. They looked excited, perhaps even relaxed. As I served them their soup they did not seem to notice my presence. I floated in a haze created by the comfort of the knowledge of my own lack of control.

Then Wicky appeared in the doorway.

Wicky did not eat with the men; usually one of his lackeys brought him his meals in his room, where he stayed squirreled up doing whatever it was that he did. To see him here should have signalled alarm. But he was a nobody, and I had the sea. I reached out for the bowl that he held.

“Two days,” he told me raspily, “can not come soon enough.” He wore a cravat, but I could still see the bruising I had given him. It was already darkening. I felt myself smile.

“Cookie,” he called. “Serve me. I won’t eat food touched by this savage.”

Cookie moved, but I put a hand up to stop him. “I serve the food,” I told him quietly. The room had gone very still behind Wicky, all eyes pretending not to watch what was happening. I took the bowl from his hand and filled it, slow and deliberate. I placed the bowl on the counter.

Familiar, I thought. How strange to do something so similar, and yet for it to feel so different. “What a difference a man makes,” I mused aloud.

Wicky’s face clouded. In a parody of my previous motions, he reached out and took the bowl, then slowly turned it over and let the soup fall onto the counter.

I watched it fall, felt it splash upon my person. I really need to launder this shirt, I thought. Then Wicky slammed the bowl down on the counter and stalked away.

I sighed and began to clean the mess he had made.

When I sat down that day with Natch and Finn, they both leaned in. “You can’t let him get to you,” Finn whispered.

I frowned. “Wicky?”

They nodded.

“Why would he get to me?” He was a nobody; I had the sea. I took a bite of soup and enjoyed the taste, ignoring the look of concern that passed between the two men.

In time, I became aware of a presence above me. I looked up to find Thron, his hands awkwardly filled with his bowl.

I glanced at Natch. He shrugged. I signaled for the large man to speak.

“Ah, yeah. I was just coming over to. I was meaning to say.” He took a deep breath. “I wanted to apologize for Ichor in practice yesterday. It’s my job to make sure things like that don’t happen; he won’t be invited back.”

Oh. Ichor. I had almost forgotten about the attack; the wound barely throbbed, washed clean by the salt of the sea. I gestured for Thron to sit, and space was made for him.

“There’s no need to apologize. I was distracted.” I lifted another spoonful to my mouth. “As for Ichor; if he comes back, he comes back.”

“Yes, but.”

I drew my gaze up to him and he swallowed. I must still have the sea in my eyes, I thought idly. I tried to blink it away, but soon gave up, instead watching Thron. I was surprised by the change in him since yesterday. This was new for me; I did not usually see men become aware of reasons to fear me. It was usually my policy to give them all the reasons they needed the first time we met.

“Do what you will,” I finally said. “It’s your practice sessions.”

He nodded, smiling at me. I pushed him a second piece of bread I had stolen from the kitchen when I was back there and went back to eating.

“He probably won’t try to show up anyway, really. Training tonight will just as like be short, and under attended,” Thron said, sighing a little.

Natch nodded. “That’s what happens when the men get a sniff of the rum.”

Rum? I looked up, confused. “Are we heading to a rum port?”

All three men looked at me. “Cor,” Finn said. “He is a pirate.”

Natch must have kicked him under the table, because he jumped and cursed. The men must have been talking about me, I realized. “Aye,” Natch said. “The men realized how close our port is to where we’ll be dropping you off tomorrow’s tomorrow, and insisted that we stop.”

I nodded. That made sense. Rum ports were sacred among the men, islands where Captains kept large stocks of the beloved liquid hidden away. That way, the men would always have a supply, and you could cut down on drinking on the ship. “Was that what the meeting was about today?”

They looked uncomfortable. “Nay,” Finn told me. “T’were about you, I’m afraid.”

I frowned and looked to Natch to further explain. But it was Thron who took up the mantle. “Cap was just letting us know where and when we’d be dropping you off. Took a little longer than it should have. Things got -“

“Heated,” Natch finished. “Lots of men still want you dead.”

I shrugged. Let them try.

“Cap made this little speech, all offhand, like he didn’t care and such?” Thron continued. “But we know him, right, and he was pissed. Said you’d been injured and that wasn’t okay, because, how’d he put it Natch?”

“A prisoner, just because he isn’t able to defend himself against more capable foes, should not be considered an easy target.” Natch raised his eyebrows at that but didn’t say anything more. “Said you had his full protection, by law of the sea.”

Finn nodded, picking up the narrative. “Gods all, Wicky looked as if he was like to blow his top. His men had to calm him down.”

“Did he say anything?” I asked, offhand.

Finn frowned. “Say anything about what?”

Natch was the only one who truly knew what I was talking about. “No. How could he? Cap had just called you an easy target; couldn’t exactly say he’d been taken down by you just minutes prior, not without losing major face.”

“You took down Wicky?” Thron looked from man to man, trying to get some confirmation. He must have found it, because he leaned back and whistled. “That explains his actions.”

I shrugged again. “His actions have always had the same explanation.”

They all looked to me.

“Fear,” I told them. “Besides, it matters not. I’ll be gone soon.”

“Will you come back?”

I looked up. They were all looking at me, staring very intently. Would I come back after being marooned, is that what they were asking? Did they want me to?

I let my eyes meet Natch’s; I had offered to come back for him. They had discussed that I was a pirate; had they discussed this as well? Natch stared back steadily.

“We’ll see.” They nodded, and I went back to my food.

We’ll see.

***

When I got back to the deck, the first thing I did was seek out Hams and thank him for his kindness. “There aren’t many who would take the time for a prisoner,” I told him. “If there’s anything I can do -“

He smiled and patted me on the back. “Just coil your ropes, laddie.” As he walked away, I heard him snort. “Prisoner my ass.”

I liked Hams.

Wicky stalked the deck, his red cravat acting as a beacon for all. Men scattered to get out of his way. I felt almost guilty for bringing this on them, but in the end I was not in control of Wicky’s actions. I kept my head down and coiled my ropes, as instructed.

I skipped out early to go and help Cookie prepare. “Not gonna jump out my window again?” he growled.

I shrugged and set to work chopping ingredients.

I served all the men in due order, then went and sat with Finn and Natch. I was surprised that Thron had joined us again, and had brought a friend from the training sessions, a fellow who went by the name of Gret.

I nodded my acceptance and sat watching the door. The Captain should walk through it any minute, to get his dinner. I had things to say to him, I realized. Apologies to make. I ran through possibilities in my head, trying to find an acceptable order of words that would make him understand where I sat. Understand that the hurt I had felt was all my own creation. Gods all, that man made me feel like boy. A bumbling, idiotic, foolish boy.

“He’s not coming, lad.” Finn pulled me from my pretend conversations. “He took his dinner in his room today.”

“Not that he’ll eat it,” muttered Natch. I frowned at him. “Ghost, you made it. You think he could bring himself to eat anything you touched right now?”

“What?” I looked around at them, found no eyes willing to meet mine. “What do you mean?”

“Have you talked to him recently?”

“Yes,” I answered Natch. “This morning.”

“And?”

I scowled. I didn’t want to remember that conversation. “He blames me. Wants me off his ship.”

“Ghost…”

It was a warning, and a fair one. I knew that what I had said was untrue. The men waited.

“He has guilt,” I finally acquiesced. “He thinks he hurt me.” It was painful to say aloud.

Natch put a hand on my arm. “You need to talk to him.”

“I know.”

“Gonna be hard,” Finn informed me. “He’s sequestered himself away in that room of his, won’t even entertain Wicky.”

“At the rum port,” suggested Gret. “We all disembark there.”

Natch shook his head. “Too public.”

But Finn suddenly looked very worried. “Aye, lads, the rum port. D’you remember Cap before we came south?”

Gret and Thron leaned back, faces suddenly serious. I sat up straight, concerned by their reactions.

“You don’t think -“

“A habit is a habit.”

“And if he’s feeling this bad…”

“Aye, but that was something else entirely. This shouldn’t even compare.”

“Sorry,” I interrupted. “But Natch and I are lost.”

Three sets of intense eyes turned to me. I could see calculations running in each, trying to decide how much to say.

“Cap likes his drink,” Finn finally said.

“Especially when -“

“Cap,” Finn said forcefully, “likes his drink. That’s all there is to it.”

The other two men met his eyes, then nodded. I looked to Natch, who only shrugged.

I turned back to the others. “But this wasn’t a problem before?” I needed to understand what was happening. If they were worried about the Captain, if there was something that was wrong…

“It’s worse when he’s upset,” Finn conceded. “Just be mindful, lad. Bad decisions have been made at the rum ports.”

“Ships have been lost,” Thron said quietly.

“I’ll be mindful,” I promised.

Training that night was neither short nor poorly attended. Men who I had never met nor taken the time to know their faces showed up, forming a circle around me as I walked to gather my training blades. The enclosure set my teeth on edge, making me look for any ambush, but they all were simply watching me, silent. I gathered my supplies and moved towards Natch.

“What’s going on,” I asked him quietly.

He shook his head, his eyes on wrapping his hands. “Word got ’round that you were training.” He stood and stretched. “Looks like more of the boys want some guidance.”

I frowned. I hadn’t really been giving guidance, just trying to get these land boys to fight half decently so I could get some sort of a work out. Still, if there were more of them, maybe they wouldn’t tire as quickly…

I made my way to my practice spot. “Alright,” I said, crouching low into a defensive guard. “Who’s first?”

***

Ichor showed up about halfway through training. I put the kid I had in a headlock down upon the wooden planks and turned to meet him. We stood, mirrored, our shoulders squared. Thron was making his way through the group, no doubt to turn him away, but this man was no threat. I waved him off and he stood down, frowning.

“Why are you here?” I asked Ichor. He shifted his feet, looking uncomfortable.

“I want to be better.” He wrung his hands, not meeting my eyes. “I didn’t know… I mean, I thought I was…”

I pointed vaguely at the men around him. “Check him for knives.” When he was cleared, I sparred with him, and threw him almost instantly. I could see his body tense when mine was on top of his, and eased off immediately.

“Stop planting your feet; you’ll do better if you have more mobility.” I reached down to help him up. “Again?”

He looked up at me, suspicion clear on his face. I waited.

“Again,” he agreed. He took my hand and we began.

***

The rum port turned out to be a nice little island, complete with sandy beaches and fresh water and not a soul for miles.

“Why didn’t they just maroon me here,” I muttered to Natch as we rowed up to the beach.

He laughed. “And have you drink all our rum?”

Fair point.

It took quite a few trips to get everyone over from the ship. Natch and I were on one of the last shuttles. By the time we reached the beach, the party was already in full swing. We were met by a grinning and ruddy-faced Finn, who pressed a tankard to each of our hands before spinning away, laughing.

“Lightweight,” Natch accused softly, and I laughed.

I nursed my tankard the whole night long. I could have drank much more and been alright, but I had been without alcohol for three years and didn’t want any surprises.

Besides, I needed to watch the Captain.

He sat by himself, a whole bottle of rum sequestered for his personal use. I watched him work his way through it, his body slumping further and further into the darkness as the bonfire flickered and leapt.

“Natch,” I said quietly. My companion had been quite into the rum himself. He leaned against me at his name, humming happily. I was surprised to feel his warmth; Natch did not often touch others so intimately. I draped an arm over him gently, happy to see him feeling so safe around me.

“Ghost,” he slurred. “You’ll come back for us, right?”

I squeezed his shoulders and didn’t make any promises.

When I looked up to the Captain again, he was staring right at me.

I froze, my eyes locked with the Captain’s. He was arranged over a log, his legs spidering out before him, that black cloak of his making it seem as though he simply expanded into the universe. As I watched, he took another swig from his bottle, swaying slightly. Although it was hard to tell from here, the angle of the bottle as he moved it to his lips made it look like it was nearly empty.

This couldn’t be good.

The Captain pulled himself up, staggering dangerously close to the fire. The light of the blaze lit him like nothing I had ever seen, making his eyes shadows but his hair pure light. He was judgement, and I waited for it to come down on me.

To my ears, it seemed the entire beach become silent but for him and I. I know that this wasn’t true; men were singing, the ocean responding, the fire crackling and sending sparks up to keep the stars company. But the Captain’s eyes held me. Nothing existed but for us.

He lurched, making the last few steps towards me. Then, he pulled out a knife, and everything slammed back into reality.

The knife was at Natch’s throat before either of us had time to react. It was a thin blade, sharp and refined, a perfect fit for the Captain. One false move could pierce Natch’s neck in an instant. He was frozen, his arms up, his eyes huge and glued to the sand beneath his feet.

“Cap,” he whispered. The knife jerked and he stopped talking.

The beach had truly fallen silent now. All eyes were on us. My eyes were on the Captain. He was swaying where he stood, his gaze unfocused, the knife held surprisingly steady. I could see a bit of blood gathering at the point. Natch’s breath was growing quick.

“Captain,” I said quietly. His brows drew together, as if he were listening to something far away. I reached out and gently pushed his hand down, freeing Natch from the blade. He gasped and spun away, collapsing on the sand and scrabbling out of view.

The Captain cast about, seeming confused. My hand still on his, I worked to remove the knife from his grasp. “Sir,” I let myself say, my voice low and intimate. At that word, he let me have the knife, his gaze traveling up to my face.

“Oh,” he said, sounding surprised. “It’s you.” His body lurched, his knees giving out beneath him. “Oops,” he muttered as he dropped. “Fuck.”

I went down with him, unwilling to have this man kneel before me. He ended up on his knees in the sand, still unsteady, my arms caught around his waist loosely to anchor him. I felt him sigh, all through his body. I felt him. His skin gave me chills.

“It’s you,” he repeated. I nodded.

“I’m here.” My voice was fragile, delicate like the way I felt, the way it was to be so close to him. I was here. I couldn’t be anywhere else.

“I’m sorry,” I heard him slur. He lightly rested his face on my collarbone.

I shushed him, pressing my lips to his temple. He had nothing to be sorry for. Nothing at all. I felt his hand travel up my arm, clumsily make it around my neck. I let it settle there, felt my breathing settle into his. He was perfect, this was perfect, and I was never going to let him go.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered again. I tightened my grasp around his waist and he settled into my arms. Nothing had ever felt so comfortable as this. Nothing had ever felt so right. “Don’t go,” I heard his voice say, heard him plead, and my soul broke against him and reformed as something better, something altogether new and completely incredible and I knew that I would never be able to truly leave him again.

I looked up and found a sea of eyes, judging and watching and waiting. “I’m taking him back to the ship,” I stated. I made my voice hard, tried to shield him with it. How had he become so fragile, gone from dangerous to in danger in such a flash? I wouldn’t let anything hurt him, I knew. I would keep him safe. “He needs water and rest.”

“The hell you are.” Wicky stepped forward. He was flushed like the rest of them, from anger perhaps rather than the drink. His cravat was gone, the bruises I had given him clear and brutal. “Him in that state. You, as you are?”

I tensed at the implication. Against my chest, the Captain squirmed, muttering something. I gently kissed the top of his head and he fell quiet. My eyes never left Wicky’s, and I could feel them filling up with all the things that had kept me alive, all the pieces that should scare a mortal soul.

“Like hell I’m letting you take advantage of him,” he continued, seemingly unaware of the danger he was in. He took a step forward, a blade appearing in his hand.

I still had the knife I had taken from the Captain. I raised it, then, showed it to Wicky. A warning. The air was thickening, something coming to a head that had been brewing for quite some time. I could finally kill this man, I thought. The ocean would have it’s offering.

Then movement caught my attention. Thron had come up beside me, his big body lending weight to my threat, weight I might have lacked while carrying the Captain’s. On my other side, Natch appeared, small, maybe, but he carried the least amount of land of all these men. Perhaps that made him the most dangerous; perhaps that just made me trust him more.

Other men began to move. I watched, dumbfounded, as man after man from the training group stood and leant their support to Natch and Thron and, I supposed, me. Wicky’s face grew dark, his eyes flicking from figure to figure. He could not have seen this coming; had not seen this coming.

The idiots, I thought. Aligning with a prisoner who throws them on their backs for exercise. Who can’t even get things right with their Captain, might have put them all in danger. Showing their allegiance like this, just before I was to leave. Drunk. Outnumbered. On land.

I could have taken Wicky, maybe. I could have taken Wicky and his one or two dedicated lackeys. All of them, perhaps, if I had someone to watch the Captain. But this show of support was forcing the other men to pick sides, and it was in danger of becoming an all out mutiny. I couldn’t have that, not here, not now. Not with the Captain so delicate in my arms. I looked down at the knife in my hand.

“Natch,” I said quietly. “Get them to stand down.”

He did so immediately, sheathing his knife and turning to the others. I tossed the blade in my hand over to Wicky. “Keep hold of that,” I said casually, as if this show of force had not just occurred, as if Wicky had not just learned that some men on his ship would fall behind me in a fight against him, as if I had not just commanded his men without words and without asking. “He’ll want it back when he’s sober.”

“You don’t tell me what to do,” he snapped, but he picked up the knife all the same.

“Natch, Finn,” I called. “We’re going back to the ship. Wicky will come with us.” I scooped up the Captain, holding him in the crook of my arms like a babe. He was light, so much lighter than I’d expected. He made a small noise against my chest. His arms were so loose around my neck, so weak. I held him tight. “He’ll bring whatever men he sees fit.” I turned to head back to the boats.

“Ghost -” Thron said warningly, his eyes hard on Wicky. I paused in my path next to him.

“This is for the Captain,” I told him quietly. “We need not fear Wicky; he is inconsequential. The Captain is what matters.”

Thron nodded, but he didn’t look especially happy.

In the end, Wicky brought four of his bigger goons. I brought Finn, Natch, and the Captain. All of them were drunk, and I was confident that if it came to it, I could dispatch every single one of them and still get the Captain back to the ship safely. But it wasn’t needed; the boat made it safely back to the ship.

Wicky tried to say he should carry the Captain up to the deck. I leveled my gaze at him for just a moment, just long enough that he would understand how little I cared about his opinion, then I hooked the Captain to my chest and climbed up one-handed, as smoothly as I could.

He was not doing so well, the Captain. Halfway to the ship he has stopped speaking coherently, just quietly babbled and tried to run his hands through my hair clumsily. I shushed him over and over, kissing his temple, and eventually he had calmed and simply rested heavy in my arms. I was worried about him, about how much he had drank. He still held the bottle clutched tight in his hand, wouldn’t let it go, would yell if we tried to pry it from his grasp. It was a constant reminder of how we had gotten to this point, the near-empty bottle clinking and catching on doorways and bodies as we moved through the ship.

When we reached his room, I gently laid him down on his bed. He looked so beautiful, his hair spilling out over the covers. I watched him try to raise the bottle to his lips.

“No,” I reprimanded quietly, pushing it away. He whimpered, but let me keep the liquor from him. I turned to Wicky. “I’m staying with him tonight.”

“Like hell you are.” The first mate was standing in the doorway, his arms crossed, all four of his goons behind him. “The Captain needs his privacy.”

“The Captain,” I said firmly, “needs to be watched. He could hurt himself.”

Wicky scoffed. “This isn’t his first time doing this. He did fine without you, he’ll do fine when you’re gone. Come on, I’m locking you up.”

I shrugged. They couldn’t keep me away, not really. I walked over to the window and opened it. “Fresh air,” I explained. Wicky rolled his eyes and hurried me along.

Wicky took me to the cells. A week on the ship, and finally I was getting to sample the cell’s hospitality. One of the cages was opened for me.

“You’ll stay here all of tomorrow,” he told me. “Then the next day, I’ll be rid of you. You’re bad for this crew, you’re bad for the Captain.”

I let him walk around me as he would. Nothing would keep me from my Captain. As he tied up my arms and legs, I didn’t pay him much attention. When would these men learn that knots –

The cold kiss of iron slammed against my arms.

I gasped and looked down into Wicky’s smug face. “Cap said you weren’t to be in irons, but.” He shrugged, anger making him uglier than ever before. “Let’s see you untie this.” He laughed as he walked away, his goons smiling among themselves.

“Wicky!” He didn’t turn. “Wicky!” I roared it. I let it tear loose from my chest, everything in my lungs becoming weaponized and dangerous.

But he was gone.

I stared down at the irons. I could do this, I told myself. My heart was pounding, my chest aching. It was nothing but irons. Two and a half years of my life spent in them, yes, but I was not there anymore. I was on a ship. I was with the sea.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could do this. Even in irons, I could do this. What were irons to me? I just needed a plan. I would get to the Captain, and I would take care of him. And then I would kill Wicky. And then I would – what?

I would figure it out from there. For now, the Captain needed me. That was my first priority.

There was a window at the end of the row of cells. If I could get myself out of the cage, I could reach the Captain through the outside of the ship. These men could not keep me from him. These men were nothing; I was the sea, and the Captain was the sky, and I would not be denied. I had carried him in my arms, I had touched him. I put that from my mind. It was more important than that. I imagined him, so drunk he couldn’t speak in that room. Upset. Alone.

No. It was even more simple than that. He had asked me not to leave him.

I had to go back.

I undid the knots that Wicky had left me in. I spent some time looking for rust on my irons, looking for weak spots, but where Wicky’s knots had been weak his choice in irons was strong. I gave up, wanting to scream. I could do this, I reminded myself. For the Captain, I could do this.

I turned my attention to the door. Option one was picking the lock. I could do that, but it took time and tools, neither of which I had. Option two was hitting it until it gave.

I took option two.

Luckily, where my manacles had no rust, the door was riddled with it. My body weight carried me through the hinges on the fifth try.

At that point, I suppose I could have looked for a key, or something else to release me from the last of my confinement. But I had already wasted enough time, and the Captain needed me, so I hurried to the window and began to climb towards the Captain’s.

It was harder than I expected to make the climb while constrained, and I lost time that I needed. That the Captain needed. I almost fell twice, my grip slipping when I reached for something that I did not have the span to reach. When I finally reached the right window, I didn’t take the time to look inside and make sure it was empty, I just hauled my body inside.

It was a small miracle that the room was unoccupied. I did a quick scan, listening and looking, but there was nothing but the sound of quiet murmuring outside the door. Wicky must have posted guards, the sanctimonious ass.

There was nothing.

I stopped, suddenly very concerned. Where the hell was the Captain?

A small moan drew my attention to the bathroom, and I made my way across the room. Fuck, I thought. Fuck fuck fuck. He had to be okay, I had just gotten him back, he had to be okay…

The Captain sat slumped against the wall, his shirt drenched in vomit. It looked like he’d tried to make it to the toilet, or maybe the bin, but had fallen and hit his head before he could. A bleeding cut on his forehead was testament to his struggle. He raised his hand feebly as he saw me enter the doorway.

“Oh, shit,” I breathed. I was going to kill Wicky. I was going to destroy him, separate his soul from his body and rip each apart separately. I would bury him at sea with no silver and no way to guide him to the afterworld, and when his ghost came to haunt me I would do it to him again, and again. “C’mon.” I kept my anger out of my voice, feeding it to the sea as a promise. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

I grabbed a damp cloth and a glass of drinking water, then slid myself between the wall and him. I don’t know that he recognized me, truly, but he seemed to relax in my arms all the same.

I gently cleaned his face, then got him to down some liquid. The manacles made things awkward, but he hardly noticed in his drunken state, and it was best to go slowly anyway. Soon he was clean from the neck up. When it came time to take off his shirt, however, I found him reluctant.

“No,” he muttered, pushing at me. At first I continued, thinking he just didn’t understand what was going on, but he was becoming agitated, almost afraid. “Please, no, I don’t want to, don’t make me. I’ll be better, I’m sorry.” He squirmed in my grasp, fighting me, his face twisted in an emotion that I didn’t want to link with any action I would ever do, not to him.

I stopped. “Okay,” I murmured. “Nothing you don’t want, okay.” I pressed my face to the top of his head and tried not to let his words sink to my stomach, didn’t let myself think about what they might mean. “I’m here. Nothing can hurt you.”

That seemed to reach him. When he was settled, I gently extricated myself from his body. He made a small noise of protest, and I almost stayed, but I needed to find something.

It felt invasive, to go through his drawers, but I found what I needed quickly and was soon back at his side. “Look,” I told him, bringing his hand to the shirt I had found. “I have a new shirt for you.” He felt the shirt, took it in. “Will you let me take this one off? It’s dirty.”

After a time he nodded, and I slowly pulled at the bottom of his shirt until it come off over his head. I caught my breath at the sight of him there, even sour smelling as he was, at the feel of his bare skin against mine. I washed him gently, thoroughly, but quickly, keeping my fingers light and delicate. I wanted to grab him, to run my hands over every part of him that lay exposed, but I was careful to only touch what I needed to. I watched his face as I did, making sure I wasn’t upsetting him, but he seemed okay.

When his skin was clean, I pulled the new shirt over his head, ending with my arms around his waist. He sighed and settled back against me.

This was perfect. This would be perfect, I amended my thought, if only he were sober. I sighed, feeling him fall asleep against me. It wouldn’t do to have him asleep here, not in the cold bathroom. Not against me. I didn’t want him waking up confused and lost, to find himself wrapped in arms he might not actually want.

I shook him awake gently and got him to drink more of his water. “Sailor,” he slurred, looking up at my face with eyes that made my heart want to burst. How could one man’s face be so perfect? It wasn’t fair to everyone else in the world. “When did you get here?”

I smiled down at him and pressed the cup to his lips. My manacles rattled, and he looked down. “Your hands are stuck,” he told me, pulling away from the cup. I nodded. He collapsed against me again, his eyes fluttering closed. “That’s hot.”

Despite everything, despite how much I hated what these irons meant to me, what they had done to me in the past, at his words I had to smile.

When he finished his water I carried him to bed and left him there as I cleaned up the mess in bathroom as best I could. There were no more towels, so I sacrificed my shirt to the cause. When I returned to the bedroom, I found that he had tried to climb from the bed and was now kneeling on the ground, his head still on the covers. I sighed and lifted him back up.

“Don’t leave me again,” he mumbled.

“I’m right here,” I told him. “But now it’s time to sleep.”

He nodded, curling up, and I tried not to smooth back his hair, I really did, but my hand moved on it’s own accord and he relaxed so immediately, so completely under my touch that I did it again.

As his breathing settled, I sat back and looked across the room to the chair. To be fair to him, I really should sleep there. It would give him distance, and from there I would still be able to keep an eye on him.

I looked down at the figure before me, crouched on the doorway of sleep. He was murmuring something again, and I reached out and let my hand rest on his shoulder. He settled instantly under my touch.

I couldn’t leave him.

Besides, it would be better to sleep on the bed. I would be able to feel any sort of movement that he made and would be able to react much more quickly. This was the safer option, I told myself.

The window was still open, letting the cool night air into the room. I gently slid him under the covers, then settled myself next to him on top. That, I thought, would remove any ambiguity. We couldn’t touch on opposite sides of the sheets.

Next to me, the Captain stirred. I stretched out my hand and let my fingers touch his palm. His hand immediately curled against mine. My stomach twisted, seeing just that small gesture of affection. I watched him for a long time, my hand in his, his face so serene, before drifting off to sleep myself.

***

The Captain woke sometime in the night. He opened his eyes drowsily, feeling the familiar haze of rum swimming through his head, and expected to see the floor of some room, or perhaps the side of his toilet. The Captain was no stranger to drink; for a long time, it had been his only friend, his only confidant.

Instead of unforgiving wood floor, he found himself in his bed. He felt comfortable, foggily safe even. A warmth spread through his body, and he realized that he had even made it under his covers. How strange, he thought. How did this happen? He opened his eyes to further explore this anomaly and that’s when he understood that he was dreaming.

Across from him was the most beautiful man he had ever seen. And he had seen this man before – had dreamed of him so many times, had watched him from across the ship and yearned, and needed, and tried to absorb without the luxury of touch. And now he was here, right here, so close the Captain could feel the air moving as it escaped his lungs. His face was so soft, his breathing so gentle as it pulsed through his bare chest that the Captain almost forgot to breathe himself. He traced the lines of this man’s body with his eyes and found his hands manacled, the irons making his shoulders set at the unnatural angle they were at, the only unnatural angle on his entire body. He followed the arms further and discovered that his hand was in his, their fingers gently entwined.

This man, of all men, in his bed. In irons. Touching him. The Captain smiled. What could it be but a dream.

Well. He was going to enjoy it. It was so rare that he got good dreams these days.

He closed his eyes and fell back asleep.

*****

I woke up the next morning to find the Captain’s body pressed against mine.

Sometime in the night the covers had been pushed back from the Captain, removing any barrier to this happening. As a result, or maybe inevitably, his body had found it’s way into my arms, his forehead resting against my collarbone, his breath dusting my chest. He, in turn, had draped his arm over my hips and held me tight. Our legs were mutually entwined; I could find no single fault there.

I didn’t want to move. I had never felt so complete as in that moment; it was as if I had been as a song without the melody for years, and hadn’t known. He was my melody. He was the sky and I was the sea. We were meant to be, inextricable, unbreakable together.

But I needed him to make that decision for himself. Awake, and sober. And I didn’t want him to think I had come to him the night before for this, or for more. I ignored how my soul berated me and began to pull myself away.

He tightened his grip against me. “Don’t go,” he muttered against my skin. I froze, every molecule in my being listening to his command. My body tingled, sparks radiating out from where his words had touched me, landing in my stomach and setting my entire body aflame. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be under his spell. I nodded and settled back against his body.

He was still for a bit, and I thought he had fallen asleep again until he spoke. “I thought it was a dream.”

“I’m here,” I told him and kissed the top of his head. I would never leave him again, not truly. There would always be a part of me with him, a part of him with me. I felt him sigh against me, his body melting into mine.

“You’re shirtless.”

I didn’t really know how to respond to that. I knew how this looked. “I needed to clean something up last night.”

“Shit.” I could feel his scowl, feel his eyebrows knitting against my chest. “Did I throw up?”

“It’s okay.”

He didn’t say anything to that.

“How are you feeling?”

“Hazy,” he admitted. “And my head hurts.”

“Will you let me get up so I can get you a glass of water?”

I felt his hand tighten against me, then, but he agreed. I lifted my hands over him, mindful not to hit his head with my manacles. The noise drew his attention.

“Oh, fuck,” he breathed, “Did I do that?”

He looked so scared, so upset, that I immediately gathered him back up into my arms. “Of course not,” I told him. “Why would you think that?”

“I remember,” he started. He wasn’t looking at me, and that made me nervous. “I woke up, and I saw you, and I remember being happy seeing you like that – shit!” He hid his face in my arms. “I thought it was a dream.”

Warmth passed through me as I felt him take refuge in my embrace, watched him turn to me for comfort. I wanted to sing; if you had asked me in that moment to fly, I would have tried, I believed the world so possible.

I took hold of his chin and lifted it so that his eyes met mine. “You didn’t do this. This,” I said, rattling my irons, “was someone else.” I smiled at him, seeing him take this in. “Although you did say it was hot.”

“Fuck.” He pulled from my grasp and hid again as I chuckled. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” I reassured him. “You were drunk.”

“But I still knew. I know how much you hate these.” He drew a finger over the links.

I watched him, waiting. Eventually I prompted him. “So is it?”

“Is it what?”

“Hot.” I muttered the word into his hair.

His finger froze. “No,” he whispered. “It makes me livid.” He paused for a moment. “Who did this?”

I didn’t feel the need to protect Wicky from the Captain. My motives were selfish; I wanted that man all to myself when he drew his last breath. “They thought it would keep me from you.”

He thought about that for a moment. I watched as a frown moved over his perfect lips, his beautiful face. “Maybe it should have.” He pulled himself up, lifted himself from my arms. “You shouldn’t have come; I’m dangerous when I’m drinking.” Quietly, he added, “And you said I wasn’t to touch you again.”

“You asked me not to leave you.” I stayed where I was, looking up at him. Dangerous? I thought. He’d been nothing but affectionate. I suppose he’d attacked Natch, but he’d been deterred easily enough. “And I was wrong.”

He didn’t move right away, and I was afraid that my words hadn’t reached him, that he carried his guilt so tightly wrapped that even my presence wouldn’t convince him of my word’s legitimacy. Then he reached down and gently corded his fingers through my hair, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I lifted my head into his hand, and he released whatever breath he’d been building up, whatever tension he’d let himself create.

We stayed like that for a long time, just existing. His fingers passed through my hair again and again, each time more steady, more sure of their path, their right to exist on my skin. I tingled under his touch. I needed more, but I knew he wasn’t ready. I could wait. For him, I would do anything.

“Did I… I mean, I didn’t hurt anyone last night. Right?’

I shook my head, I little surprised by the question, then reconsidered. “You held a knife to Natch.”

“Natch?” His fingers froze; he sounded genuinely surprised. “What for?”

I let myself run my hand over his skin, enjoying the texture, the way I could convince his blood to drop beneath the skin and leave patterns in the wake of the pressure I applied. He wasn’t going to like this answer, I thought. “May be that he leaned against me,” I said. He cursed. “I had my arm around him, too.”

He was quiet a long time, fingers still against my head.

“Jealous?” I asked.

“No.” He sighed. “That boy deserves to have people in his life he trusts to touch. Fuck,” he finished, frustrated. “What else happened?”

“I took the knife.” You asked me not to leave you, I thought. You touched me so sweet my heart broke and healed, all in an instant. “You were nothing but affectionate.”

He frowned. “Overly?”

“No, no, just.” I brushed my fingers over his stomach lightly and thought I saw him shiver. “Sweet.”

He nodded, leaning down to kiss the top of my head. I closed my eyes and let his warmth flood my being. “I should have keys that fit those, you know.”

I looked up to him, saw him looking at the irons. If he wanted me to keep wearing them, I would. At this point I understood that I was safe around him.

He pointed at the chest across from the bed. “Under the back left corner of the covering. That’s where it was last time I needed it, anyway.”

I nodded and rolled out of bed, immediately heading for the bathroom.

“Hey! Where are you – That’s not -“

I emerged with his cup of water that I pressed to his hands. “You need to stay hydrated.”

But his eyes were wide and staring, and only then had I realized what I’d done.

“Oh,” I said, knowing exactly what he was reacting to. “I thought maybe, the other night…” but of course he hadn’t seen it. We’d left my shirt on; the scars had been covered.

“I didn’t know,” he whispered. His hand was in his hair, pushing his forehead smooth. “I didn’t – fuck, sailor.”

I sat down on the side of bed and watched him struggle with this. “They’re not as bad as they look,” I lied, trying to keep my voice soft. He laughed incredulously and then immediately put a hand over his mouth.

“I didn’t know,” he repeated. “Fuck, how did I not see those?”

“I hid them,” I told him. It was as simple as that. I reached out and took his hand. The rattling of the manacles caught his attention. He didn’t seem to be able to look away; I pulled my hand back.

“Take them off,” he whispered, his voice shaky.

I looked at him, concerned. “Captain -“

Take them off.” He looked away. “Please.” I could hear the pain in his voice and moved quickly to the chest where he said I would be able to find the key. It was right where he said it would be, and I removed the irons as quickly as I could.

I turned to find him staring at my back again, and was surprised and horrified to find that he was crying. “Hey.” I moved towards him quickly, concerned at what effect I might have had on him. “I’m here, I’m okay, everything is okay.”

As I reached him he turned away, trying to turn his pain to anger but I would have none of that. I grabbed his hands in mine and searched his face. “It’s okay.” I let my voice tap against his chest as gently as I knew how, turned my words into lapping waves. “We’re safe here.”

“I’m sorry.”

My hand moved up to cup his face, caressing his cheek. I wiped away a tear and felt it’s ocean wetness against my finger. He sighed and leaned into my hand, leaned into it with his breath, his body, his very expression. He had nothing to be sorry for. Why was he apologizing? I kissed him on the forehead and tried to make him understand.

“I didn’t… You’ve been hurt before, and then…”

“You did nothing wrong,” I whispered, understanding his concern.

“Fuck.” I smiled at his eloquence, tracing my fingers over his chin.

“I’m okay,” I reminded him again.

“But you weren’t.” He wasn’t looking at me. “And I hate that. To think of you in pain…”

I didn’t have anything to say to that, but it filled my stomach with a warmth that was wholly unknown to me before I had met this man. I kissed his hairline gently and felt the exhale that proved to me that he was going to be alright.

We stayed like that for a moment, my hand on his chin, my lips on his head. Then he reached up and laid his hand on mine. “I just.” His voice was almost to quiet to be heard. “I can’t believe I’m touching you.”

I wanted him to touch me more. He was being so ginger, so careful, but I had a feeling that was as much for him as for my perceived self. I nodded against his head.

His hand tightened on mine. “Why,” I thought I heard him say.

“What?” He didn’t respond, and I lifted his eyes up to mine. “Why what?”

“Why did you come back?” He met my gaze for an instant then looked away. “Those scars on your back. You’ve been hurt before, you should know to stay away.”

Those words emptied out whatever warmth I had been feeling. You are nothing like this, I wanted to tell him. You are worlds apart from this. This was hell and betrayal and death, and you are light and darkness and everything that I need but I had already told him this, or versions of this so many times and I didn’t know how to make him believe it so instead of trying to find words I simply lifted his lips to mine and kissed him.

The kiss was not passionate. It was not full of fire, or sparks. But it held the ocean, and the sky, and everything that was right in a world that tried to keep us so wrong and by the end of it I wasn’t sure which of us I had been trying to console, because I was crying too.

I looked down at him, tears in my eyes, and smiled. “How could I stay away?” I asked him, and I watched my words slip into his soul and become like stars and he reached up and kissed me again.

I kissed him back, lingering and sweet. I never wanted this to end, just lying with him, existing in the simplest of ways. When he lifted my head it was only to rest his forehead upon mine, lips just out of reach. I had shifted down below him, and his thick black hair cascaded around us, sheltering us from the world, keeping us contained and safe and away from those who would have us apart.

Who could have us apart? He was my world, and could begin to believe that I was his. He lifted my chin, gently, raising my lips to his again, and I lost myself in the realities we created.

They were instantly shattered when a knock sounded at the door.

He didn’t let me pull away, not right away. He kept his fingers on my chin, tighter now, as if he could feel something slipping away from him. It wasn’t me, I wanted him to know. It would never be me. I was his, now and forever. I lifted myself and kissed him deeper, taking advantage of his surprise to break from his grasp.

The noise he made as I pulled away could have broken me, if I were not so sure that I would return. “The door,” I said quietly, sliding out of bed.

“They’ll go away.” He caught hold of my hand and pulled me back. I let myself be sucked into his orbit for another kiss, soft and long and forever and the only thing that mattered. But the knock came again, and I pulled away.

He fell back against the wall and watched me, frowning, as I shoved the manacles under the bed. My shirt would be out of sight in the bathroom, and even if they came in it was unrecognizable. I looked around for a place to hide.

“What are you doing?” I held my finger to my lips and decided that just behind the door would be the best spot; I could open it to conceal my body. There was nowhere else to hide my bulk. I positioned myself and nodded to the Captain, my finger still on my lips.

He nodded back, then called for the knockers to enter. The door opened, but no figures stepped through.

“Just wanted to see if you needed anything, Cap. Breakfast, water…”

“No, thank you Ichor. I have everything I need.” His gaze traveled to me for a moment, and I felt my heart flutter.

“Aye, Cap. We’re right outside if you find you have need of anything. Just shout.” The door began to shut.

“Wait.” The Captain held up his hand, peering out. “Is that Natch?”

The door froze. “Aye, Cap.”

“Will you send him in?”

“Uh.” I could sense Ichor’s hesitation, but couldn’t tell if it was Wicky’s influence or worry for his mate. “Yeah, Cap. Whatever you want.”

The door stayed ajar as he leaned out to get Natch’s attention. I was a little concerned at the Captain’s nonchalance; he couldn’t know that Natch was a friend. But I trusted him, unequivocally. He would keep me safe.

The door opened a bit; Natch’s voice floated through. “You wanted me, Cap?”

“Aye.” He gestured him in, then held up his hand. “Hold, that’s far enough. And leave the door open.” Natch obeyed unthinkingly. The Captain had given me perfect cover from prying eyes, and I was thankful, but I still didn’t know what he wanted with the boy. From the way Natch stood before him, nervously, he didn’t either.

The Captain swung his legs from the bed, and I watched him, worried. He looked vaguely unsteady on his feet as he made his way over to Natch. Natch, for his part, also looked vaguely unsteady watching the Captain approach.

When he reached Natch, the Captain put his hand on the smaller man’s shoulder. I saw him tense, unsure of the intention, but it was just to steady him. He was hungover, and possibly still a little funny from the hit he took to his head. I frowned as he gathered himself.

“You alright?” he asked Natch. Natch nodded, a little hesitant. “Good. I’m sorry for what I did, how I acted. You didn’t deserve it.”

“It’s alright, Cap.” He patted the Captain’s hand, and the Captain smiled. I could see his legs shaking. “I should know better than to touch -“

The Captain was going down, I suddenly realized. I closed the door behind Natch, causing him to spin. As the Captain lost balance I darted forward, catching his frame before it hit the floor.

Ghost,” Natch hissed. “Holy fuck, you fucking idiot.”

“Whoah,” the Captain mumbled.

“Do you know what Wicky will do when he sees you here?”

I didn’t answer, my eyes on the Captain. “Why am I so unsteady?” he asked me, clinging to my shoulders.

“You hit your head.” I guided him back to the bed. “And you need food.”

“I’m fine.” He leaned around me. “You shouldn’t feel like you can’t touch – did you call him Ghost?”

He will kill you,” Natch hissed. “He’ll kill me, for being here with you, oh, holy fuck.”

“Natch,” I said calmly. “Please go to the kitchen and tell Cookie I need a Minnie’s Breakfast Special.”

“Are you even listening to me? He’s on a rampage, trying to figure out how you busted out of your cell -“

“Don’t say I need it then.” I gazed at him levelly. “Get it for the Captain.”

He stared back at me, his mouth stuck open. “Okay,” he finally said. It was the only option I had given him, and I was pleased to see him take it. “Just.” He shook his head. “Okay.”

I walked him to the door. “Knock to be let back in. Once, then twice, then once again.” He agreed, still shaking his head.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” he muttered. I opened the door and let him out into the hall.

“He calls you Ghost?” The Captain was giving me one of those funny looks again. I shrugged.

“It was a joke.”

“Didn’t sound like one.” He readjusted, trying to get comfortable. “And since when does Natch listen to you,” he muttered. I climbed into bed next to him and he fell quiet, his arm reaching around my shoulder to pull me close to him. I responded by wrapping mine around his waist, letting my cheek rest on his chest.

Before long my other hand had found its way under his shirt, exploring the perfect expanses of his skin on his stomach. He shuddered under my fingertips, letting his body react as it would to my gentle enquiry.

“How come,” he asked quietly, “I have a shirt on and you don’t?”

“I already told you. I had to clean something up.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Me.” He pulled me closer to him. “This isn’t the same shirt I was wearing yesterday.”

“No,” I admitted. “It isn’t.”

“Why didn’t you just leave me shirtless?” He traced his fingers up my arm and I shivered. “I want to be closer to you.”

I felt my fingers slow. I wasn’t sure how much of this he wanted to hear. How much I was supposed to have heard. “You seemed to want to stay clothed,” I settled on.

His fingers paused at that. I could feel a moment of hesitation dripping from his fingers over my skin, and it made me shiver again, this time quite unpleasantly.

“Not for you,” he said quietly. I looked up at him, concerned, and he met my eyes with his dark ones, intense like I hadn’t seen them since the night before. “Whatever I said last night, it wasn’t for you.”

I nodded, and he shifted his body down so that our eyes were level. I lost whatever concern I might have had in his eyes, in his lips, in the way they touched my skin. I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled him as close to me as he could get.

“Closer,” he whispered, shedding his shirt. I hated that motion for a second, hated how it came between his lips and my body, but in the next instant I found that everything was perfect because he was perfect and his chest was perfect and it was there for me. How long had I waited for this? How long had I denied myself? I let one hand explore his chest, feeling the way he pressed his bare skin against mine. I couldn’t pretend that my body didn’t react to this, and he didn’t pretend not to notice, pressing against the growing bulge with his leg.

I let forth a small gasp at the motion, felt my breath begin to come in a less controlled rhythm. I put my mouth against his neck and let him feel the change in my breathing, wanted him to know what he was doing to me. What he always managed to do to me.

“Closer,” he whispered again. I knew what he wanted, knew an order when I heard it. My mouth refused to leave his neck, worshiping it’s perfect arch, it’s softness that made him moan and hard lines that made me crumble. My hand reached down, skimming over his stomach until I reached his waist and there it sat, fumbling at the laces of his breeches. When I got them loose he kicked them off impatiently, pushing his cock into my waiting and trembling hand.

To feel him, to feel him like this, it was a dream and a reality all collapsing into a supernova of feeling and I bit his neck to keep it all inside. He moaned and tilted his head back, gave me what I wanted and what I wanted was him.

His own hands were shaking, his body shivering between my arms. He wanted this as bad as I did, I knew. He sunk a hand into my hair, pulling my lips from his skin. I protested, heard myself whimper as he kept me from what I wanted, needed, but he didn’t take me far, just rested his mouth against my ear.

“Get your pants off,” he growled, his voice violent in his desire. The command strung through my body, snapping at my nerves and vibrating my soul loose from the parts of me that knew what I was doing. I had been denied this too long, and the way his command set me aflame turned me into something I barely recognized. I found myself moaning, pulling against his hand to press myself against back to his neck. My teeth scraped against his skin, causing him to gasp and twist, even as my hand began to work at his cock, picking a rhythm that his hips soon reciprocated. We tangled together, a mass of limbs and teeth and hands and cock until he suddenly ripped my head back again. I felt as though my eyes were spinning, it was so hard to focus. He pressed his forehead to mine and panted, trying to find his bearings.

“Pants,” he finally commanded again. I nodded, able to follow the thread of his demand this time, controlling my own desire. As I took my hands from his body, I was surprised to find the path of my lower hand blocked by his. “This one,” he told me huskily, “stays here.” He guided it back to his cock; when I touched it, we gasped together.

I stroked him as I worked on my breeches, our heads pressed together, our gasps mingled between our lips. I marveled at the noises he made, the little things I could do to make him twitch and collapse as he came undone under my fingers. Finally, my distracted hand finished with my pants and I kicked them off, tangling them with the sheets at our feet.

Fuck,” the Captain exhaled. “Finally.” He let go of my head to grab my ass with both his hands. I gasped as his fingers dug into me, pulling me up his body to just above his cock. His fingers spread my cheeks forcefully, not painfully but firmly, and I felt how open I was for him, how easy it would be for him to take me and a shudder passed through me. He felt it and froze.

His hesitation concerned me. My shudder had been one of anticipation, not of fear like I knew he must be thinking. I bit him again, wrapping my leg around his back. I wanted him to know I was okay. How could I be anything but okay when I was with him? He understood and relaxed, running shaking hands up my spine. I shivered at his touch.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, feeling my scars. “I just don’t want to hurt you again.”

I lurched forward, sinking my lips into his. I kissed him like he had kissed me the first time we met, that first night when I learned that I would need him always, a deep and passionate attempt to drive everything but me, now, here, from his mind. I didn’t want him to think about the things I had told him before; I had been wrong. My words were not with me to explain that to him now. All I had were my lips, my tongue, my teeth, the way I could use them to take away his breath and give him mine.

He immediately reacted, his hips jerking up under mine. The tip of his cock rubbed in the crease in my ass, found my hole and I couldn’t help myself, I moaned and gasped into his mouth, feeling my small noises slip over and under his tongue as he tasted them, caught them for his own. I knew I had to stay quiet, knew there were guards at the door but it was so hard, so impossible already with just the slightest of touches.

I forgot that I had been doing this for him, that there had been a goal behind this kiss and I gave in to my desire, rolling my body into his. My hips rocked against him, my cock rubbing against his stomach even as the tip of his pressed, hot and slick, against my asshole. I wanted him, wanted him so bad, but his hand on my ass kept me from pressing down. I bit his lip in frustration and he pulled my hair, moaning.

Three times I tried to pull back, and three times the Captain kept me locked against him, his hand tight in my hair. The third time, he pulled me back to his lips so hard I gasped and as my cock rubbed against his stomach I could feel him chuckle, a deep and dangerous sound, his belly jumping as he swallowed my delight until he became distracted once again by the feel of my tongue against his lips.

When we finally came up for air, I felt light headed, my breath ragged in my chest. He didn’t let me go far, trapping me against his forehead. Our eyes were locked, pupils tearing around the edges with all the things we held there. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of his lips, swollen and perfect and I wanted them again, needed them again. I tried to move back to him but his hand in my hair kept me away.

His other hand had never left my ass. Dextrous fingers found their way between my cheeks, tracing circles around my hole. My eyes lost focus at his touch, my body reacting involuntarily. I felt myself push against him, my cock rubbing along his stomach, my head desperately pulling against his hand. He held me at bay, watching me writhe in his grasp.

“I want to be closer,” he told me, his voice as ragged as his eyes.

I nodded against his hand. I needed him closer, needed him inside of me. But he just kept rimming my asshole with his fingers. Suddenly, he stopped doing even that, his hand pulling away to rest on my lower back. I protested quietly, mindful of the men at the door.

I could feel his hand shaking, knew it was from holding back. Let go, I wanted to shout. Do what you want to do; I want it too, whatever it is. But I had lost my words, lost them in the things he’d been doing to me.

“But I need to know that it’s okay.”

I didn’t hear him, not really. All I knew was that he’d stopped. Why the fuck did he do that? I thought. I was frustrated, needing him, my body wound up and my soul even worse. If I had been thinking, I would have been able to understand that he was scared, that the last time we had done something like this he had almost lost me. But where I was at that moment was; don’t you fucking hold back on me now.

Lube, I thought. He just needs lube. I cast about for it, trying to see where it was. The shape of the jar finally caught my eye on the bedside table and I lunged for it, catching him totally by surprise by the suddenness of my movement. I felt my cock slide across his chest, heard him gasp. Jar in hand, I settled back beside him, pressing my ass into his hand and finding the tip of his cock with my asshole, my hips moving on their own accord. His eyes were huge, his mouth hanging just the slightest bit open. I pressed a kiss to those perfectly opened lips even as I reached down and pressed the lube to his chest. My leg wrapped itself back around his waist and I smiled against him, smiled with my whole body.

When I lifted my lips from his I found him still shocked, but much less concerned. “Fuck,” he whispered, sounding a little dazed. “Fuck, okay.” He traced his hand down my back, but this time he wasn’t feeling my scars. His fingers moved towards a sensitive and waiting destination, raising goosebumps as they went. I slid my mouth down his neck, waiting for what I knew was going to come next. When he slipped his fingers inside of me, I bit just above his collarbone to keep from crying out from the pleasure of it.

He played with me for a little, burying his face into the top of my head and listening to me whimper into his neck. His other hand, also covering in lube, made its way up around my leg. He shushed me firmly as it landed on my cock, his commands pushing the noises back from my mouth and turning them to choked exclamations in my throat. I could feel him breathing heavily against me, his now-slick stomach shuddering against the tip of my cock as his hand stroked my length, his other hand on my ass with two fingers in my hole. I felt him push a third in and wanted to cry out, but he gently, coldy, sweetly commanded my quiet and I made my body obey.

I thought about begging him to fuck me, breaking down and using my words to drive him to take me, but what use were words when my body so clearly needed him? I wore my soul just under my skin this time, made no attempt to hide it, had no illusions about why he affected me the way he did, and I knew that he could tell my soul needed him as badly as my body. I had no need of words, not unless he commanded them from me; besides, I was beyond them, my body shimmering with the sensation of his cock so close to entering me, his hand stroking my shaft. He pulled his fingers from my ass and I moaned, driving my fingers into his back. I felt his body press into mine.

“Ready?” he whispered, and I nodded furiously into his neck. I’d been ready for fucking hours. I’d been ready for years.

He shifted beneath me, and I felt the slick head of his cock press against my hole. I gasped into neck and he cursed.

We both jumped when the knock at the door split the air.

“Shit,” he muttered, his hand freezing on my cock.

One, I managed to think. Two more knocks sounded, then one again.

“It’s Natch,” I whispered. I reached down and grabbed the covers, pulling them up over our naked forms. He gave me a look, but I ignored it, settling back against him. He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me in tight and causing my sensitive dick to slide across his stomach. I gasped.

“He won’t mind,” the Captain said, dark eyes never leaving my face.

“No,” I agreed, a little breathless.

“Tell him to come in, then.” His eyes were so intense on mine. I felt his hand tighten on my waist.

“Natch,” I called. I couldn’t break myself from the Captain’s gaze. “It’s unlocked.” His fingers dug into me and I gasped.

“Say it,” he commanded.

“Come in,” I said, and I didn’t think Natch could hear, but I wasn’t saying it for Natch.

“Okay,” he responded quietly, his eyes flaring and a smile flitting across his lips.

Oh, shit, I had time to think before the Captain slowly pushed into me.

I curled around him, my fingers digging into his back, my teeth scraping his shoulder to keep my cries in my mouth. The pressure so slowly moved into me, the Captain, the Captain was inside of me, going so slowly and it felt so fucking good.

He pressed his lips into my hair, shushing me firmly but gently. I tried to obey him, but it was so hard when his cock was so perfect inside my ass.

I heard Natch moving around the room, and wondered if I should care. Part of me must have, because I tracked him, unable to fully give myself to the sensations and the Captain. The Captain must have noticed. He ran his hand up and down my spine, adding another thing for my already overstimulated body to try and take in. I gasped for air against his neck.

“Relax,” he whispered, kissing my temple. I felt his smile against my skin and relished it, the warmth of the expression mixing with his voice and the relentless press of his cock. “You said Natch wouldn’t mind.”

“Fuck,” I responded, but I felt my body relaxing under his touch.

He rested his chin on my head to talk to Natch for a moment, and I let myself focus on the things he was doing to me, to my body. He was fully inside of me now, base of his cock pressed flat against my ass, his fingers still flitting across my back, my shoulders, my waist. I couldn’t track them; they were everywhere, nowhere, in all the right places at all the right times. This, I thought, this is as close as we can get. I kissed his neck gently and felt my body shudder with the intensity of the moment.

“Ghost,” I heard someone say above me. “Ghost, are you even listening?”

Was Natch still here? I turned my hazy eyes up and found his blue ones looking down, a serious expression on his face.

“Natch,” I said, my voice slightly lost in everything that was happening in my arms, between my legs, inside my ass.

“You need to seriously get out of here.” He blinked when I didn’t respond. It was hard to listen to him.

“Make him leave,” whispered the Captain in my ear. I felt myself turning into him as he kissed just beneath my earlobe.

“You should go,” I said, but my voice was distracted and Natch shrugged it off.

“Wicky will kill you,” he said. He’s already said that, I thought. The Captain was still at my ear.

“Make him fucking leave,” he whispered again, his eyes meeting mine, but this time it was not a wish but a command. As he spoke, his hand slipped over my chest, down past my stomach and landed on my cock.

I moaned, feeling all of the sensations crash around that one focal point for just a moment. “Natch,” I said, my voice ragged. The Captain smiled to hear the way my voice ran from me. I needed Natch to listen to me, I thought. I pulled the sea from just under my skin where it sat in my soul, gathered it into my eyes. The Captain blinked and pulled back, surprised perhaps to see me turn so cold so suddenly, but this was not for him. I turned my head and met Natch’s eyes.

He jumped, physically jumped away from me.

Get out,” I told him, and my voice was the sea, it carried shadows of the intensity I was feeling, the need I had been living under for days. It was cold and hard and crashed like a storm and Natch swallowed. He turned and scrambled from the room.

I sighed, feeling the things I carried settle back into the various parts of my body. A gasp left my lips as the Captain reached out and pulled me back towards him.

I wordlessly folded into him, feeling his hand come up to rest on the back of my head, his other still working my cock.

“You,” he murmured in my ear. He might have said something else, but I had stopped listening because his hips began to finally shift, moving the teasing pressure that had existed inside of me for the entirety of Natch’s visit. I moaned my approval into the small of his neck.

He fucked me quietly, gently, his rhythm always slow and steady. I didn’t want anything but this. I was amazed at how good it felt to have such a controlled and tender pace; but of course it felt good. It was the Captain. We pressed against each other, our edges blurring with the pleasure of it all, the closeness of the gestures, our souls rubbing up against each other under our skin.

I felt his hand trembling against my head, and knew that he wouldn’t be able to hold off at this pace for long. Gentle was good, and tenderness was important, but we were not gentle men. He needed more, just like I did.

I was right, his rhythm speeding up with his breathing, curses falling from his lips to land in my hair. My mouth responded, falling back to his neck. Wherever it landed it began to coax his blood to the surface, using teeth and lips to mark him as mine, always mine. He moaned into my hair and increased his rhythm again.

His hand was still pumping on my cock. I wouldn’t last much longer at this faster pace. I tried to hold off, not sure if he wanted me to wait for his command, but it soon became too much. “Please, sir,” I tried, my voice unsteady between his thrusts and my moans. I wasn’t sure I would be able to create any more words from the air I could barely keep in my chest, but he saved me.

“Come,” he whispered in my ear, voice ragged. His command was all I needed to push me over the edge, and I felt my body seize around him as waves of intense pleasure flooded through my core.

Fuck,” he moaned. He must have felt my orgasm, must have caused one so deep it traveled all the way down to where his cock thrust in and out of my ass because his hips hitched in their rhythm. The hand in my hair tightened, and I cried out. Reflexively he brought his other hand, still covered in my cum, up to my mouth and covered the opening, trying to keep any other noises in.

I gasped at this new form of control, watching his eyes go wide at the sight of me before him. He held my head back and watched me, one hand tight in my hair and the other pressed against my lips. I tasted my cum on his fingers and moaned. He was close now, I could feel it in the way he no longer shook against me but let his body do what it wanted, in the ragged panting that slipped from his lips mixed with curses. Then, suddenly, his hand dropped from my mouth to my shoulder, pressing me down on him. In the same moment he brought my lips to his.

I kissed him, slipping curses over his tongue. I could feel him coming, the heat of him so deep inside of me I wanted to cry from pure perfection. I closed my eyes in the face of it, unable to take in anything but the feeling of him, of the fire inside of me, of the sea that roiled through my core.

At the end of it all, I didn’t want to open my eyes. I was afraid that if I did, everything would turn to smoke. Maybe I would find that this had never happened; the tremors of pleasure sliding through my body were a dream, the hands on mine were a dream, I had made him up and I would open my eyes and wake in the mines, or alone somewhere on another ship, or dead at the bottom of the sea.

“You’re shaking,” he whispered. His voice was real, at least. I took that in, pulled it into my soul.

I kissed his neck, lightly. His neck felt real. He had no room to talk; he had been shaking nearly the entire time. Tremors still moved through his limbs; those felt real as well. I readjusted my grip, pulling him closer.

“Sailor.” His voice was light, reaching for me. “Sailor, please look at me.”

I opened my eyes and gasped. His face was close to mine, and very, very real. My first reaction was to kiss him again, because how could I not? His lips were there, and they demanded it. His body relaxed against me, feeling the – dare I say it? – feeling the love in my kiss and reacting.

“Fuck,” he said quietly when the kiss was over. He traced his finger over my cheek, his eyes following the path they took. He didn’t say anything else.

I let him look at me for a little, then settled back against his neck. He was still inside of me. Neither of us made any move to change that fact; we wouldn’t be so close, then. It was important to be close, right now. I felt my breath collect in his collarbone as his fingers traced circles on my shoulder.

I could have stayed there forever, breathing against his body. But we didn’t have forever, and the world makes you remember that, one way or another. “Aw, fuck,” I heard him mutter. I looked up to see him lean his head back, his eyes squeezed shut.

I suddenly remembered the night he’d had before. Hungover, bashed up, and now crashing off endorphins; he could not be feeling good. He needed food, and water. Now.

I pulled myself from his body, gasping as his cock slid from my ass. I wanted to savor that moment, wanted to let myself enjoy it, but there were more important things right now.

He opened his eyes and frowned down at me, but I moved past him to where Natch had put down a tray of food. I settled against the wall beside it, reaching down to grab the Captain. He protested as I pulled him up between my legs, shutting up only as I leaned his head against my shoulder and kissed him.

While he was distracted, I grabbed the bowl that Cookie had sent up. As the kiss ended I slipped it into his hand, then grabbed a spoon and pressed it into his other hand. I had a moment of indecision, then decided he should start with hydrating, so I took the bowl back from him and handed him the cup instead.

He looked like he was going to say something, so I kissed him again. I smiled down at him, happier than I had been in months. In years. My last motion was to pull the covers up over his lap, then I sat back and wrapped my arms around his waist.

He sat there for a moment, finding himself suddenly sitting leaned against me with a cup in one hand and a spoon in the other. Then he sighed, slowly laying the spoon back on the side table. I kissed the top of his head and he leaned into me further, letting his back press into my chest. I watched him take his first sip of the liquid in the mug.

He immediately spat it back out. “The fuck?”

“Lime juice,” I told his hair. “Sugar. Salt.”

“Salt?” He frowned into the mug.

“Cures hangovers.” I shifted my head so that I could look at him; he looked so skeptical I wanted to laugh. “It’s good for you.”

He made a face, but took another sip. I smiled into his temple.

When he was was halfway done with the cup I reached over and grabbed the bowl again. He grumbled, moving to put down the cup, but I pressed it back into his hand. I took the spoon and stirred the porridge, tasting it. Cookie added less ginger than Minnie, but Minnie thought ginger was a gift from the gods and could do no wrong. I gathered up another spoon and held it before the Captain’s mouth.

He stared at the loaded spoon incredulously. “Are you seriou-“

I took advantage of his open mouth and slid the spoon in, and he fell silent.

He let me feed him another two bites before he snatched the spoon from my hand. “Can feed my fucking self,” he snarled. I kissed the back of his head and held the bowl for him as he ate.

After a time, he let the spoon fall into the bowl. I returned the bowl to the table beside us and wrapped my arms around his waist.

But he didn’t go back to leaning against me. “Sailor,” he said quietly. I wasn’t sure I liked his tone. It edged on nervous, riding the line between scared and determined. I pulled him back against me, making him feel my skin against his, my breath even and steady to be so close to him. I was comfortable with him. I was happy. Please, I thought, just let this be. Let it go.

He settled against me, but I could feel that he wasn’t fully comfortable. “Sailor,” he said again. The edge slipped towards determination and I sighed.

“Yes.”

“I need to know.” He rested his cup on my hands, fidgeting with the metal. I took it from him and returned it to the side table along with the bowl, then took his hands in mine. He stared down at his hands. “I need to know, so I don’t do it again.”

I tightened my hands around his.

“I can’t lose you,” he said quietly.

“You won’t.”

“I did.” He shifted over and looked up at me. “And I can’t do it again.”

The look on his face brought an ache to my chest, and I felt the chasm of guilt open in my gut again. “You won’t,” I told him again.

“I don’t know that,” he said, frustrated. Confused. Hurt. “I don’t even know what I did.”

“It was a mistake,” I said quietly. “My mistake.”

He took that in, then shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

I didn’t want to say this. My stomach was opening so quickly that I was afraid I would be sucked away. I kissed him deep to anchor myself. “I didn’t realize. I didn’t. I just.”

He needed to hear this. He needed to know. I took a breath. “You’re nameless.” He nodded, looking up at me with eyes that were big and beautiful and full of hurt, hurt that I had put there. “With Wicky, I thought.” It seemed best to just say it and so I did. “I thought that it was for him, and I assumed that you used me.”

I watched his mouth drop open, his eyes sharpening as he understood what I was telling him, what that would have meant for me. He knew, now, what he was to me. He had always known, because I was the same to him. “I’m sorry,” I told him quietly. “I didn’t know that what you did was for me.”

“Fuck, sailor,” he exploded. “Everything I’ve done since you’ve stepped on this ship has been for you. Every decision, every touch, every goddamn stupid breath.” He stopped and closed his eyes. When he spoke again, his voice was choked. “I thought I was doing what you wanted.”

I felt my hands tighten around him. “I didn’t understand.” I kissed his temple softly. “I was wrong.”

“I was so fucking lost without you,” he whispered.

I didn’t have anything to say to that. I held him tight and hoped that would be enough.

He wrapped his hands tight around mine and pressed against me. “I thought you hated me.”

“Never,” I told him.

“I didn’t know. I thought it was.” He paused, collecting something. “I was so rough with you, that last time.” I could feel his emotion in how tight he held my hands. I let him squeeze as much as he needed, hoping that would drive whatever was within him out. “You trusted me, and asked me to guide you, to help you for you first time, and I…” He tilted his head forward, his hair tipping down and over his face. I leaned down after him and kissed the base of his neck.

“You deserve better,” he said. His voice was getting lost in his hair; I closed my eyes to hear him better. “You deserve to be held so soft, and I always end up hurting you.”

I freed a hand and lifted it to his chin, tilting his head back against my shoulder. His eyes didn’t lift with his head, but I would get them up. I was here, and he was with me. The world was right. I kissed him gently, my lips lingering on his as I made him understand this.

“I deserve you,” I told him. He frowned, those brows drawing together. “And you deserve me.” I kissed him again before he could come up with any stupid arguments; I was right, and that was that. He would come to understand it.

It took three more kisses until he was melted against me fully. On the last kiss, his arm reached up and wrapped around my head, twisting his shoulders into my body. He used his hand to press my mouth more deeply against his.

“Do you trust me,” I asked him.

He froze at that, his arm holding my lips inches from his. He searched my eyes with his, the darkness in them swirling, for a long time.

“Yes,” he finally voiced, sounding so surprised I smiled. I wasn’t surprised, not in the slightest; I had known the answer before I had bothered to ask the question. But he needed to know it, too, needed to understand.

“Then trust that I will never let you hurt me.” I smiled at him, but he didn’t smile back. “Besides,” I continued, feeling my smile quirk around the edges, “I like the things you do.”

He looked at me so shocked that I had to kiss him again.

He indulged me, then let me pull him back against me, his head on my shoulder. I rested my chin on his head and wrapped my arms around his waist. I wondered what he was thinking about. I wondered if he was thinking about the things he had done, how I had reacted, trying to see if I was telling the truth. I fought to keep my fingers from tightening against him as my thoughts began to drift in that direction.

He reached out and took the cup again, looking at it thoughtfully.

“Who’s Minnie?”

I was very still for a moment. That, I thought, was not where I thought this conversation was going. “A friend,” I finally answered.

“And Cookie knows her as well?”

I didn’t want to out my friend, but Minnie had provided me another way. I smiled. “Any good ship’s cook knows Minnie.”

“Is that how you know her? Were you a cook?”

I pressed my smile into his hair. He harrumped and sipped his drink.

Minnie. I missed her, the ornery woman. I would have to find her after I got dumped on whatever island we were headed for. Her, and Sneg, and we’d need at least one strongman, and a ship. But not a crew, not a full one. I had a crew already. Had a steward who was good at his job, and loyal. Men who were decent at arms, if not excellent. A first mate picked out, if I could get my Captain to agree.

Because I had a Captain. He was coming with me. My heart sang to think of it, my cells vibrating with the possibilities.

So the crew, that was taken care of. All that really left was the ship.

I looked at the man before me. Why not ask the Captain? “What kind of ship do you want?”

“What?”

“When I come back for you.” I felt almost giddy. Everything was perfect, and the world was at my fingertips. I drummed them against his stomach. “What kind of ship should I bring you?”

He turned to look at me. “Come back? You’re not fucking leaving.”

I blinked down at him, surprised. “I have to.” Tomorrow I would be marooned. That had been decreed by the ship’s vote.

“I won’t let you go.” I heard the stubbornness in his voice and believed him. It frightened me.

“You have to. The men, the vote -“

“I’m the Captain. What I say is law.”

“Sir.” I kept my voice soft in the face of the hardness he had suddenly brought into our space. “I won’t be gone forever. They can’t keep me from you, you know that.”

He stared at me, defiant and angry.

“Don’t invite mutiny over something so temporary,” I told him quietly.

I watched the hardness drain from his face. It had been a shield, I saw, for the war that waged behind. The pain that still swirled. “But I just got you back.” He sounded like he wanted to cry; maybe he did.

My heart broke and I wrapped him up as tight as I dared. “I need to go,” I told him. “I need to, for you, for your ship, for me.”

He frowned at that.

“There are things that need my attention.” I kissed him on his nose. “Like getting whatever ship you desire, so that I can bring it and myself back to you.”

“I like my ship,” he told me stubbornly. “I like you on it.”

My eyes caught the healed cut that slid across his chin. “Your sailors don’t.”

He pulled away. “They don’t matter.”

“Captain.”

He put his hands in his hair and wouldn’t look at me. I sighed and leaned back, letting him work through it as he would.

“They won’t accept you,” he finally said. “I tried, I’ve. They won’t.”

“No,” I agreed. And they wouldn’t. His men had fear, or at least half of them did. Maybe they would come around, maybe they wouldn’t. But to them I represented the end to their protection, and they valued that over their Captain’s joy.

Cowards.

“How’s this,” I offered, keeping my voice genial and soft. He had no reason to know my opinion of his men. “I give you three months, three months to warm your men to the idea of you and I on the same ship. You give me the same amount of time to get a ship and bring it back to you. If you like mine better, we take the men we’ve won and the new ship. If not, the ones who have a problem will have another place to go.” And I will kill Wicky regardless, I thought. And Natch will be your first mate. I reached forward and linked my fingers around his chest, burying my lips in his hair. He smelled like the sea and sweat, and I breathed it in deep. “How’s that sound?”

He thought about that. I felt his body leaning into mine. “Three months?”

“Yes,” I confirmed. I needed time to find my skeleton crew; needed to check up on a few things. I didn’t know where he’d be dropping me off, didn’t know how long it would take me to get to where I needed.

When he spoke again, his voice was quiet and held none of the determination from before. “It’s too long.”

“I’ll be with you. I’ll never not be with you.” He nodded, understanding that, but also understanding that it wasn’t enough.

“And how will you find me? We are hidden, we sail under false markers to hide ourselves from the King.”

I laughed, letting my mirth drift through my stomach and into his back. I could feel him frowning, even though I wasn’t able to see it. As if he could hide on the sea from me.

“I’ll find you,” I told him. “Have faith.”

“A ship,” he muttered. “Who will you find to help you get a ship?”

I didn’t respond. He would trust or he would not, and I already knew which he would chose.

He grumbled against my chest for a little while longer, nursing the drink in his hand.

“How come Natch listens to you?”

I didn’t answer. I didn’t have an answer, not really. I was the sea; Natch was a sailor. What sailor wouldn’t listen to me? I traced my finger over his neck, looking at the damage I had done while under his influence.

“Sorry,” I murmured, not sorry at all. He turned to me, brows pulled together and I smiled. “A few marks, there.”

His eyebrows raised and I got the distinct pleasure of watching his eyes turn from worried to mischievous. “Are there, now?”

I nodded, kissing his forehead.

“Don’t recall asking to be marked,” he said quietly from somewhere under my chin.

I froze, feeling a tingle start to build deep within me. There was that voice again, that damn dangerous voice. It drifted under my skin and turned my blood to ice, made my soul so hot. I shivered involuntarily.

His fingers traced my own neck, and I felt my head tilting back to give them more room, to extend the amount of skin they would be able to traverse. I could feel his appreciation in the way his fingers took their time, skipping over my skin, catching on my collarbone. “You don’t have any marks.”

“No,” I said, my voice a little too light. It was hard to find the depth that was supposed to be there when his fingers were making everything come untethered. “I don’t.”

He flipped his body around, straddling me. “How will they know that you’re mine,” he whispered into my ear. I shuddered; I was his to do with as he pleased, and he knew it. When his lips landed on my neck I gasped, my hands flying to hold onto his back.

He grabbed my wrists and drug them away. “Oh, no.” I could feel him smiling into my neck and I shuddered. “You know better than that.” I let him push my hands to my sides, felt his fingers spider up my arms, my shoulders, returning to my neck. “Stay,” he whispered, and I knew that I would have to even as all I wanted to do was touch him.

One of his hands slipped into my hair and I moaned, knowing what was coming. He pulled my head back, tracing his fingers down my exposed neck. They ended up in the soft spot at the base of my throat. I could feel their pressure against my breath, against my quickening pulse.

When his teeth bit into my flesh, I cursed and jerked, my hands seeking his body even as I kept them where he had demanded them to be. He tortured me, working on my skin until it was dangerously tender and then tracing over it with nimble fingers and blowing breath that sent white-hot tingles through my entire body.

“Put your hands on the headboard,” he commanded quietly, and I moved as carefully as I knew how, afraid that my arms would burst through the motions I moved them through and take their own path in the desire the Captain was building in me. They made it to the headboard successfully, and I gripped it tight just in time for the Captain to bite a spot that he had already made so sensitive that my entire body seized.

With my hands there he was able to watch them, see how hard I was working for him, the way my fingers turned white with effort each time he made me whimper with pleasure. His fingers pressed harder against my throat, sending waves of pleasure crashing into the pain he was coaxing from my skin. I tried to curse but found that I was moaning instead, and the fingers pressed harder.

My cock was hard again, and pulsing with need and the inevitable release that was building just beneath my skin. “Sir,” I choked out. These things he was doing to me, the way he touched me, needed me, marked me. It was all too much. I wouldn’t last much longer. “Please.”

He lifted his head, taking me in. His eyes drifted to my cock. “I haven’t even touched you,” he murmured, sounding surprised.

He was touching me, touching me in all the ways I needed him to touch me. “Please,” I tried again, but the word turned into a groan as he skipped his fingers down my chest. He tapped the tip of my cock and I almost doubled over, gasping.

He looked at me a moment, the smiled soft. “No,” he told me. Then his lips were back at my throat.

I was panting. “Sir, shit. Sir,” I tried again, but I didn’t get any farther before he pulled my head bodily down by the hair.

“I said no,” he hissed in my ear. He took a moment for that to sink in, then very gently flicked his tongue against my earlobe.

I cursed every curse I could think and then some more.

He guided my head back to the tilt he wanted it at and went back to marking me as he saw fit, filling my soul with pleasure and pain in equal and insurmountable measures that I never wanted to end. I was losing myself in his lips, his teeth, his breath, all the ways he had of touching me and then denying me of him, surprising me as he came back not where I expected him. I couldn’t last, not like this. Not with him, not the way he made me, not the way my soul howled for him.

“Gods,” I gasped. “Sir.”

He pulled back and took me in. I watched him smiling down at me, his eyes wide and hungry, and that was almost too much. I moaned and tried to roll away from his gaze but his hand in my hair held me tight, my hands on the headboard obediently staying put.

“You want to come?” he asked me, his eyes flaring. I lost my words in their dark brilliance, squirming beneath him. I barely managed to nod. “Then you need to ask.”

Cruel, I thought. He knew, had to know by looking at me that I had no words left. He was cruel and I loved it, wanted more. I whimpered and begged him with my eyes.

“Say it.” His hand had found it’s way to my hipbones, dangerously close to my cock. I was close to tears. “Say it or I can’t let you.”

“Please,” I managed. “Sir.”

He watched his fingers circle my cock. “Say it all.”

Fuck.” His wrist had brushed the overly sensitive tip; my body twitched and twisted.

“Say it,” he commanded, and his fingers were on my cock, and I was going to lose it.

PleasesirmayIcome,” I rushed out all at once, all in one breath. The relief from saying it was immediate, and I let myself smile, believing that my release would soon begin.

But he simply narrowed his eyes. “Sorry,” he said. The grin slid from my face, and I watched it climb onto his. “Didn’t understand that.”

“Fuck,” I almost cried as his fingers landed on my cock. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.”

“Careful what you wish for.” His hand was almost lazily brushing up and down my length. The sensation was so extreme, so intense. It was as if all my nerve endings had been brought from everywhere else in my body to just under his fingertips, my body responding to his touch in all the ways he demanded, just to torture me. The feeling was so far past anything I had ever felt before. “If I fuck you, I won’t let you come until I do.”

I moaned at the coldness in his voice, found myself pushing into his hand.

“Is that what you want?”

“No,” I managed. I wanted him to fuck me, but I needed to come. I needed to come now.

“No, what?”

“No, sir,” I gasped out as his fingers traced over the tip of my cock.

“Then what do you want?”

“Sir.” That word was easy at least. It sat on my tongue like a curse, after what he did to me. Gods, I loved this man. I made the rest of the words careful, clear. It was so difficult, my tongue wrapped up in the breath I could barely breathe, the electricity my brain was pumping out into every part of my being. “Please let me come.”

He wrapped his hand around my cock and my entire body collapsed around it. His other hand brought my head forward, brought my lips to his. He kissed me, and I swear to you I had never been kissed like that before, cold in the face of all the fire I held contained within me, a sudden calm in the storm that raged against my very soul.

“Come,” he whispered against my lips. And gods, I did. I had never come so hard in my life, my entire body focused on that one command, on the pleasure crashing through my entire body, because it was my entire body, not just the parts that should be for sex, he had made my entire body for sex, my entire body his, and I came for him with an intensity that brought tears to my eyes.

He stroked me through it, his lips on mine to capture the noises that I couldn’t help but let slip in the throes he had put me in. It was everything, eternal, a blinding white-red intensity that took over my entire world and was over far too soon.

Even when it was over, my body didn’t seem to want to let me return to normal. Sparks were firing sporadically in my brain as I began to come down, my body spasming with no clear rhythm or intention. I knew that I was still so sensitive, could feel the very air swirling around me, and so when he kissed me again I almost lost my mind.

“Huh,” I heard him say. His hand released from my hair to trace down my cheekbone, coming to a rest on my chin. His finger brushed against my cheek, wiping away a tear that had slipped from my eye.

My eyes, I thought. I’ve closed my eyes. I wasn’t quite sure when that had happened, but it wasn’t what I wanted. At least, I didn’t think it was. It was hard to think in the sudden stillness that enveloped my soul, the punctuating, racking quakes that swept through my body still.

I let my eyes float open and found his only inches from mine, hot and hungry, and felt my breath stop dead in my throat.

“You can move your hands now,” he told me, and I let them drop, shaking, from the headboard. He watched them with that same hungry expression and I shivered. It was all too extreme, all too at once, and I found my head slipping forward to rest in his neck, seeking the warmth and darkness that I knew I would find there.

“Shit.” His hand was back in my hair in an instant, a welcome and comforting pressure. “You okay?”

I nodded, too lost in the everything he had created inside of me to find words.

“Was that too much?”

I shook my head. He corded his fingers through my hair, a simple rhythmic motion that slowly helped bring me back to where I needed to be. I breathed, just breathed. I had never felt so spent, so emptied of everything and yet filled with the intensity of the world all at once. His fingers slipped over and around my hair, shaking further shivers down my spine. He felt them and pressed a kiss to the top of my head.

“You sure you’re alright?”

I nodded again, pressing a kiss to his chest. I felt him shudder beneath me and did it again, slower. More deliberate. Thought about what would happen if I added teeth.

“You really do like this, don’t you?” he murmured, shaking me from my thoughts, I kissed his chest again. “You know,” he continued, the shaking in his voice just enough to give me goosebumps, “I had convinced myself that my memories of how much you were, how much you made me, were just excuses. Or dreams.”

I slipped my arms around him as he shook another shiver loose in my body.

“A dream,” he repeated, kissing my head. The fingers in my hair caught, began to pull and tug. My sensitive skin sang, and I made a noise that caught the breath in his throat and held it there until I stopped. “Oh, the things I could do to you,” I heard him whisper, and this time he said it I knew that he would, and that made the words all the more unbearable.

That was how Natch found us when he slammed into the room without knocking.

I didn’t lift my head from the Captain’s shoulder; I wasn’t ready to face the world yet, and I knew the Captain would care for me. But I could hear what happened. The door opened as Natch entered, then the door latched behind him. There was a yelp as he realized what was before him, and a quick scuffle.

“Wicky is on his way here right now and he will kill you.” Natch’s words were strangely muffled; I peered over the Captain’s shoulder to see why and found that he had turned around and buried his head in his arms, double protection against the sight of the two naked bodies entwined before him.

All around me, the Captain sighed. “How long do we have?”

“Like, three minutes. Tops.”

The Captain leaned down and kissed the top of my head. “Why do you think, my love? Should we stay?”

My love, I thought. My love. I looked up at him, my face open and flowing with all the things those words had done to me.

“He will kill Ghost,” Natch said again. “He has made that very clear.”

“And I am the Captain. I think that should count for something.” His eyes had not yet left mine. My love, I thought again. I reached up and touched his face.

“Cap, respectfully.” I could hear the nervousness in Natch’s voice; I took a moment to wonder if he was nervous for me or for Wicky. “I don’t think that will make much of a difference.”

I lifted my lips and kissed the Captain softly. He kissed me back, so delicately that something inside of me broke. The sea rushed into the cracks, and it sang. My love, my thoughts echoed. My love.

Captain,” Natch pleaded.

The fear in Natch’s voice broke through my pleasant haze. I sighed and lifted my head away. “I’ll go, Natch.”

The Captain frowned down at me. I smiled back up at him. “They can not keep me from you. And they will know that I am yours.”

His eyes drifted to the marks that must decorate my neck. I could feel them tingling still, the air more sensitive around certain spots of skin. He confirmed my suspicions as his eyes caught in those spots, his grin growing. It wasn’t a grin, truly, not as a grin would be defined. It looked like a grin, but the expression was dark, as dark as his eyes, as dangerous as his voice, and I felt my skin prickle in anticipation.

“Well, then. Let’s get you dressed.” He pulled himself off of me, calling me to follow with a finger under my chin. It was impossible to break my gaze from his, his eyes commanding mine so effortlessly, so deeply. I crawled over the bed and allowed him guide to to standing.

He found my pants and handed them to me, then smiled that smile again. I felt a shiver threaten my spine.

“I have just the shirt for you,” he told me softly. No, not softly, not really. I shouldn’t pretend that a quiet voice is soft, because his voice was hard, pricked my skin like so many needles. I watched him carefully as I pulled on my breeches. The stack of shirts he had gathered for me days ago were still there, pushed off to the side, a reminder of our mutual misunderstanding and rejection. Now he rifled through them, seeking out his prize. When he found it he held it aloft, grinning.

“Don’t lace the front,” he commanded me. I nodded my understanding and pulled the cloth over my skin.

It was soft, the fabric well-worn and gentle against my delicate nerves. More importantly, it sat loose around my shoulders, baring my neck and chest for the world to see. The Captain stepped back and took me in, that hungry look bleeding into his smile.

I stood and let him stare, not trying to hide how my body trembled and shook.

He stepped back up to me and pulled me down for a kiss. “Brings out your eyes,” he murmured, and I grinned against him.

Captain.” I had forgotten all about Natch. He was still facing away from us, unwilling to look at our naked bodies, but unwilling to leave us until he knew we were safe. “He needs to go now.

I sighed. The Captain put a finger on my cheek and guided my lips to his once again, taking his sweet time. I could feel notes of desperation in the kiss, even as he tried to hide it behind nonchalance, even as his hand was so light against my skin.

“He’s here, oh fucking -” Natch was bouncing up and down, the stress in his voice palpable.

I pushed the Captain from me gently. We could hear Wicky shouting as he came down the hallway. “They can’t keep me from you,” I reminded him. He frowned but had no other response, merely stepped back and let me move as I would. The sight of him there, covered in the marks I had placed on him, the cum that he had coaxed forth from my body, it was enough to make me want to run back to him, to take him in my arms and damn whatever would happen when Wicky came through the door.

But I needed to make things good for him. And this was the way to do it.

I bent down and grabbed the manacles. “He’ll expect me as he left me.”

I watched him blink at that for a moment. “Wait,” he said, frowning. “Wicky put you in the irons?”

Oops, I thought. But I didn’t have time to fix it, not really. I kissed the Captain in a glancing motion as I moved towards the window. “You should get dressed.”

The captain grabbed my arm. “I’ll kill him.”

Wicky was right outside the door. I could hear him arguing with the guards. “Please, sir,” I said, and watched his frown deepen even as his body shuddered. “Don’t.”

“But he -“

“Sir.” He met my eyes, and this time I was the sea, and he saw it. It wasn’t a threat, though, not like so many of these sailors saw it. It could never be a threat. Not for him. How could the ocean threaten the sky? How futile, how inane. Instead, I met him with a promise, and I watched his eyes harden and sparkle as he understood. “I want him for my own.”

There was a banging on the door, and the Captain and Natch both turned their full attention to the noise. I took the moment to slip out through the window.

Whatever happened next in the room, I don’t know. I would have loved to see what happened when Wicky burst, angry, through the door and found Natch alone with the naked and obviously recently sexed Captain. I would have loved to see Natch try and deal with this moment; I would have loved to see the Captain’s smile.

But instead I busied myself with making my way back to the cells. The return trip was much easier than the trip out; I had no worry to weigh me down, and this time I had my full arm span. I was back at the cell window in no time, confident that Wicky was still trapped in the confusion I had left behind in the Captain’s chambers.

I peered into the small window. All looked to be still, which of course made sense; why would they guard an empty cell? I slipped my body into the small opening, dropping to my feet just as the door at the end of the hall opened.

I met Ichor’s shocked gaze with a finger to my lips. He stared at me, mouth agape, as I slipped into the cell that had been mine for less than twenty minutes, took a deep breath, then reattached the irons to my wrists.

I had just enough time to give Ichor a look filled with every polar gale that had ever screamed before the door slammed the rest of the way open and Wicky all but spun into the room.

He gaped at me, manacled and standing easy in the cell he had put me in. I watched him take in my mussed hair, my relaxed stance, the marks on my neck. The shirt that was obviously different than the one I had been wearing ever since I had crashed onto the deck of this ship and upset his world.

I felt myself begin to smile.

Wicky’s face turned bright red. His open mouth twisted, readying to form words. I watched his body bunch under him and made mine ready to receive his anger, my smile growing.

But before Wicky could move, a hand reached through the door and clamped down on his shoulder. It was not a friendly touch, and he winced under its pressure. I followed the hand up to a wrist, then a shoulder. A marked neck. Finally the Captain’s dangerously grinning face stepped into the room.

My stomach did a flip. It had barely been minutes that we had been apart, yet seeing him again fed anticipation to my soul at an unsustainable rate.

“There you are.” He smiled as he spoke, and I bit back a shiver. “There was some – confusion – about your whereabouts.” At the word confusion, he had squeezed Wicky’s shoulder so hard the man had squawked. I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I would have loved to watch the small man squirm in pain, would have loved to see what the Captain’s words did to him, but my eyes were caught and held by the Captain’s. My gaze was locked with his, commanded by his eyes, his to control. Always his.

He made his way over to my cell. I felt my breath quicken as he approached. Finally, he broke his eyes from mine to take in the damage I had done to the door on my way to him. I watched his face carefully, wondering what this display of violence might mean to him, but his expression was closed off, his emotions tucked away somewhere where I could not read them. “I think this man deserves commendation, Wicky. You put him in a broken cell, and yet here he still is.” His eyes found mine again, and I drew in a deep breath. His eyes had only deepened, his hunger somehow grown. “He obviously knows how to stay when commanded.”

At the flare that blazed in his dark eyes I almost moaned.

“I. He was not. This cell was empty!” Poor Wicky, I almost thought. My gaze was still locked with the Captain’s, his eyes pumping the threat of vulnerability – no, the promise of it – through my entire core. I wanted to drop to my knees right there, to submit before this man who was my world. I wanted to be his, in every possible way. I watched his eyes drift to my neck, and I tilted my head back so that he would have a better view. He took in every mark in turn, and I hoped that he was sizing them up, deciding which would need to be redone. Imagining where new ones would fall.

His eyes continued to drift further down, and I watched them land on my irons. I knew this was despite himself, but I didn’t care. I loved his eyes on me, loved what I could do to him, loved what I could do for him. I pressed my hands against the restraints slowly and watched him suck in his breath.

“And. His clothes! The marks, the, the.” Was he still talking? I stretched my hands out, showing my Captain my captivity in full. Before me, he shifted just the smallest bit, his gaze stuck on those irons.

“Ichor!” Wicky turned to his man, and I felt my head turn as well. Ichor had seen me out of my cell, might have seen me come in from the window. Before me, the Captain frowned at my sudden change in demeanor. “You saw it, the cell was empty. Say it! It was empty!”

But Ichor was not saying anything. Instead, he was looking at me, and I was the sea.

I watched him gasp for air in the face of everything that he faced, the sudden decisions that he was having to make. I raised a single eyebrow and met his eyes steadily. I wonder what he will chose, I thought idly. A red-faced first mate, or life.

Ichor was no fool. “No,” was all he said, shaking his head wildly. He repeated it a few more times, slowly backing up against the far wall.

When I was convinced that Ichor was not going to voice anything I did not want, I turned back to the Captain. I found him leaning on the bars of my cell, smiling and amused. “You,” he said, hunger making the wonder in his voice sharp. I smiled back, a little confused but very willing to give him whatever it was he wanted.

The Captain was just opening his mouth, perhaps to give me the instruction I so craved, perhaps to tell off Wicky, perhaps just to tease me further, when the door opened again.

We all turned to face the most recent intrusion. “Oh, the sea have mercy, there you are!” Cookie bustled up to me, grabbed a ring of keys off the wall as he came. I watched, amused and surprised, and he slid himself into my cell and positioned himself between the Captain and I.

“I have been looking for you everywhere, sorry Cap, need him for help with prep, hope you won’t mind, now we must be going, yes now, out you go lad, out, out, out.” He hissed the last word, pushing my unyielding body. I shrugged, dropping the irons on the floor with a regret that genuinely surprised me and smiling at the Captain. The Captain, in response, grinned lazily back. He knew where to find me.

Cookie caught the exchange and shot the Captain a look so dirty he actually took a step back, surprise blossoming on his face fast and angry. I snorted my amusement and followed the cook out the door before the Captain had a chance to respond.

As soon as we were alone, Cookie turned his ire to me. “Gods all and the sea herself, do you have any idea what you’re doing? Half the ship wanting you dead, the other half talking openly about leavin’ with you, lad, a hornets nest, a hornets nest, and then you up and go missing.” He drug me through the hallways with a mindless determination that he usually saved for onions. “And then they’re saying you’re in the Captain’s quarters? Boy, are you mad?”

“No,” I answered, but he was already steaming ahead.

“He is nameless. And on top of that there’s the world of hurt he’s already piled on you, you’re just asking to be hurt again, and I won’t be the one picking up the pieces of your heart off my kitchen floor, oh no I won’t, not Alan Turnbeck, I’ll kill him myself before I see the day he breaks your heart -“

“Cookie.” I grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop, still amused but now just a touch worried. This man was Minnie’s brother, I reminded myself. He meant every word he said. He let me halt his forward motion, turning to me with his arms crossed and his eyes filled with anger and concern. “It’s okay,” I told him. He frowned up at me, and I smiled back. “I promise.”

He grumbled something about ‘those damn marks’ and keeping my head down, and I knew that he had heard what I needed him to. I patted his shoulder and walked with him to the kitchen.

Lunch was an interesting experience. I was a bit surprised that I had been allowed to stay in the kitchen and work after Wicky had been so obviously invested in my capture; apparently, so were the men. One by one they made their way up to the counter, taking in my unbound hands, my new shirt. Their eyes always seemed to get stuck on the marks that graced my neck, courtesy of the Captain. One or two of them opened their mouths, but well-timed throat clears from Cookie shut them up quite well.

You don’t piss of the chef.

In time all the men had been served. Cookie came up behind me, waiting even as I was. The whole room was waiting, pretending that it wasn’t, a contained mass of bated breath and furtive glances shifting through the mess. I felt Cookie’s hand land on my arm, but I wasn’t going to leave just yet. The Captain knew where to find me. The Captain knew…

And then he was there, filling the doorframe with his hungry smile and demanding eyes. I heard a gasp go up through the men as they took in the marks on his neck that mirrored mine and did my best to stifle a smile. The Captain didn’t bother, his grin sliding easy and dark across his face as the sight of me.

He strode through the mass of nobodies, his body cutting through the thick air as if it were nothing, as if these men were nothing to him, and my smile broke through as I realized that they were. Nobodies, a vast expanse of nobodies, and through them waded the Captain.

My love. My everything. My only.

I took the bowl that he handed me. I felt his eyes on my back as I filled it, making my motions smooth and deliberate for him, a performance for one, the only one that mattered. I was careful to let my shirt slip past my shoulder, exposing half my chest and every single mark to the air. Behind me, I heard the Captain carefully let out a breath.

“Your soup,” I said softly, turning back to him. The intensity in his eyes hit me so hard it almost knocked the air from my lungs, but I gathered whatever shreds were left and crafted them into a word, a plea. A promise. “Sir.”

His eyes crinkled in happiness and I pressed the bowl into his hands.

Behind him, benches scraped across the floor as men stood in shock. No weapons, no one coming for him, I had time to think before he lifted his hand to my hair and pulled my lips to his.

I think Cookie made a noise behind me. I think more people stood behind him. They must have, because when he pulled away, smiling, nearly the entire room was on its feet. I was aware of that in only the smallest of ways, just as I was aware that Cookie had pressed the handle of a paring knife to my hand before moving off to stand just on the periphery. Just.

“Your men,” I said quietly.

“After lunch, come to my room. We need to discuss your marooning.” His voice was all business, but his hands were anything but. His fingers slipped down my neck and traced the the dark bruises he had coaxed from my skin; I shuddered under his touch.

“Yes sir,” I voiced obediently. Beside me, I heard Cookie make a noise of incredulity.

“And I’ll take my dinner in my room. You will serve me.”

“Yes sir,” I said again. I could feel Cookie glowering.

He smiled and I leaned down instinctively. His lips pressed against mine for just an instant before he was gone, leaving me off balance and almost falling over the counter. I could hear him chuckle as he twirled and left the room.

I leaned against the counter, watching him go. My eyes traced down his flowing shirt, landing on that perfect ass just in time to watch it disappear.

“Who the f-” I heard a man start. I could have let him finish, I suppose, but I wasn’t in the mood for the kind of shit that fell from the mouths of men like that. My body twisted; the paring knife flashed.

I sighed, watching it skim an inch above the man’s head and bury into the wall. His eyes were huge, staring at the space in my hand that had previously held the blade.

“Your knives are unbalanced,” I told Cookie drily, my eyes on the forehead that should be sprouting a blade, the man still alive by the grace of non perfect cookware.

“They’re for cooking, not for throwing. And you’d better not have nicked it. For all the grace, into the goddman wall. Lad, it’s not a weapon it’s a tool.”

All tools are weapons, I thought to myself. I knew Alan would be thinking it too. It had been one of Minnie’s favorite phrases, and she had repeated it until it was gospel, until the words would ring in my head whenever someone spoke of tools or weapons. All tools are weapons. You can defend yourself with anything, if you have enough desire.

And desire, oh, I had enough of that.

I smiled. The room was beginning to find its way back to seats vacated in shock, but was carefully staying silent. Sure of the men’s momentary compliance, I turned to serve myself.

“Commanding you,” I heard Cookie grumble behind me. “Does he know who you are?”

“Yes.” I turned and leveled my gaze at him. “His.”

That shut him up for the time being.

I placed my bowl in my usual spot, then made my way over to the wall, dislodging the knife. “It’s fine,” I told Cookie, tossing it back across the counter. He scowled and grabbed it before it hit the floor.

When I settled across from Natch, he leaned forward and grabbed my hand. “You’re not really going back there.” He spoke in a whisper, trying not to disturb the silence that still weighed heavy all around us.

I blinked at him. The Captain had commanded. I would do as he said. He saw the look on my face and groaned, putting his face in his hands. I heard him whispering curses mixed in with prayers from where I sat.

I looked over to Thron. “Wicky is very upset,” was all he had to say. I shrugged. As if I cared about Wicky.

I ate my soup quickly, mindful that any delay to the lunch would keep me from my Captain. When I was finished, I brought my bowl back up the kitchen. No one else seem much motivated to move, so I brought their attention to the need to disperse by slamming my bowl against the counter. The noise, and my careful stare, broke the spell that had been sitting over the room. The sound of sudden haste met my ears, and I let myself smile.

Within a few minutes, all the men but Natch and Finn had hurried from the mess, their bowls neatly stacked for once against the counter walls. I raised an eyebrow to Natch. He was practically vibrating.

“He’s standing guard.” Those blue eyes were filled with worry, and I was sure now that it wasn’t for me. “If you go back there – “

I walked away before he could finish his thought.

“Lad.”

I turned back and found Finn holding out a blade. I blinked at the metal in his hand, caught off guard by the gesture from the affable steward. Arming a prisoner carried severe punishment, and we all knew it. My hand was gentle as I took the blade, knowing that he knew what I aimed to do with it.

“Be careful,” he told me quietly. Beside him, Natch nodded his head in rhythm to his bouncing body. I placed a hand on each of their shoulders in turn and made my way up to the Captain’s room.

4 thoughts on “Sucking the Pirate’s Cock Ch.04 (Gay Adventure)

  1. Michael says:

    PLEASE! Will there be a Chapter 5? I have been glued to this story and I relive it in my head when not reading it. MORE, PLEASE!

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