tagNovels and NovellasThe Pirate King Ch. 11

The Pirate King Ch. 11

bynakamook©

Sup, y'all. Long time no post, I know. Things have been kinda funky over here in nakamook world. Benefit for you guys - I decided that if I couldn't be happy, these guys could be, and so this chapter will have the Captain in it. Hope you guys like it, hope it's worth the wait :)

Other than that, enjoy some exposition. I'm still counting this as an islands chapter - even tho there is (finally) a sex scene, although it is short.

Same as always, this is part of an ongoing series. If you find yourself here without reading the other parts firsts, you're going to be really confused. Go catch up; I promise we'll still be here when you get back :)

Alternative title: the stars, the sky, and the sea

I'm going to be moving this to sci-fi/fantasy for the next chapter and all the chapters after that - we're getting into some heavy fantasy shit, and it's just gonna keep in this direction (witches and prophecy and gods, we're gonna bring in god damn Davey Jones himself to chat with. That's right. Try and stop me.) so. If you have feelings about that, let me know. As always, comments and feedback welcome and appreciated.

Peace, love, happiness. Sunshine for your bones and warm baths for your muscles.


***

"I hate this place," I said truthfully.

Val didn't bother with a response. He was lying on his back, like me, waiting. Just like he had been an hour ago when I had said the same thing. Or two hours ago, when I had done the same. Or three hours ago. Or four.

"When can we leave?" I finished up the statement.

Val sighed. "You're whining."

"Am not."

"Are too."

I rolled over and took in his still form. The slight breeze picked at the light silk cloth that he wore draped over his body; other than that, there was no movement. If I had not heard his voice, I would have thought him dead. "Am not."

He groaned and rolled so his face pressed to the floor.

I was bored, and I knew Val was too. Barrow was worse than Hyrun, in every way. It was bigger, a true center of commerce and religion, ships coming and going and people, people, people. Hundreds of people everywhere you stepped. My body was not made for moving through crowds; I was created to move through open water, or through the sky, aided by riggings; I was meant to cross channels and forge my way across stormy seas, to gauge currents and weather patterns and feel the stiff breeze against my skin.

I was not meant to be on land, surrounded by people.

I hated crowds, and I hated the people that made them up. They were nobodies. They were frustrating. They entered my personal space and stepped on my feet.

At least, here, I was staying by the sea. I stretched out on the floor and enjoyed the way the sea breeze pressed against my skin; to be so close to the water was the only gift this place held. I had insisted that we stay on the shore, and Val had made it happen. It was harder for people to find us this way, which was a mixed blessing if you were Val and a perfect gift if you were me. I was tired of the way people looked at me, land boys falling over themselves to get out of my way, the truly land boys not even knowing to do that. I wanted to be back in a place where the people were bold, and laughed at storms, and opened their mouths to capture salt spray and their arms to vicious gales. I wanted the holes inside my soul to close, the hollowness I felt to rectify itself as I fell into the arms of those that knew me, those than understood me for who I was. I wanted things to be right. I wanted to be home.

But we needed to wait. This was where Sneg would come. And I needed Sneg.

I sighed.

There was a knock on the door. There was a long moment where neither Val nor I moved, the crashing of the ocean paces away the only hint of life in our still room. Val was tired, I think, of useless interruptions to the stretching eternity of our existence. And I sure as hell wasn't going to answer the door, only to have some man drop everything in his hands when he saw my frame.

Finally, Val stirred. "Enter." His voice sounded bored, but I heard the edge of annoyance and couldn't help but smile.

The door cracked open just a bit. I was closer to the opening, and the squeak the man let loose told me that I had come into his line of sight. The smile dropped from my face. If Val was getting tired of useless interruptions, I was getting tired of being recognized, but only on such a superficial level as to cause the kind of fear that comes from a lack of understanding, rather than the fear these men should have held, the fear that should have lived in their bones when they truly knew me, saw me, grasped all the things I was and was not.

More men reacted to me in this glancing way than I had expected. Perhaps it had something to do with Val's partner on this island, a small black-haired man named Horace. I'd met him before, back when I was alive, and we hadn't gotten along well then. I suppose it should have been no surprise that he hadn't reacted well to seeing me now.

"Lover," he'd said, rushing forward to take Val into his arms. "Donar wrote me. Is it true?"

"Is what -" Val had started, but Horace's quick skipping eyes had already made their way to my form. It had taken Val an hour to calm him down and convince him that I wasn't a ghost, sent from the gods to exact vengeance upon the living.

I remained silent through the exchange. I didn't think "Yes, Horace, I am a ghost back to exact vengeance," would be helpful words to hear at the time. Even if they were true.

Horace was in charge of all the Barrow's brothels when Val was away, and was nearly as well connected as Val was. News of my return, therefore, traveled quickly, although Val had asked him to keep it quiet. ("Drey will find out you are back," he hissed to me, frustrated and nervous, but I merely shrugged. If Drey did not already know I was back he was far weaker than he had been when I had left.) As a result, men like this one were just as like to squeak in fear as they were to run, or stare wide eyed at my form, or dare not come near me in the first place.

It was fucking annoying.

"I hate this place," I said to Val again, ignoring the frightened man and his frustrating way of being.

Val pulled his arms over his head and groaned. He had not escaped the rumor mill, rooming with me, constantly seen with me. Being brothers with me. This took it's toll on him, I think, although he would never show it. Mostly, I think he was bored. There was nothing to do here since we couldn't really go out. The bars wouldn't serve us, the gambling dens let us win. The brothels held no interest to me. There was little else to do on an island that catered to pirates and outlaws.

"What," Val directed at the man still refusing to enter the room.

"A missive for you, sir." His voice shook. Could he not see that he was doing nothing but annoying both of us with his fear? I rolled my eyes and looked askance of Val.

Val couldn't see me, because he was still lying face down on the floor. "Bring it over, then."

The man didn't move.

"Is he moving?" Val asked.

I sighed deeply, causing the man to jump. "No."

"Damnit." Val rolled over and sat up, shooting a frustrated glare at the cowering man. It did nothing to calm his fear. "Bring it over, man."

The man glanced down at me. Oceans were calmly pulsing in me, rushing in and out with my breath, but I don't know that he was the type of man that could tell the difference between a calm sea and one about to kill him.

To be fair to him, as he was, any sea would kill him without a second thought. He was inconsequential. It wasn't my fault that my form brought the fear of his own mediocrity to light.

"Brother," Val sighed, and I realized the man was trembling. I sighed and stood.

"I'm going out." The man pressed himself up against the rough doorframe as I swept out onto the beach.

Val came to join me some time later. He settled his body against mine, leaning his head against my shoulder, and I felt some of the tension press from my body at the weight of it. We sat there for a moment, watching the waves pull up onto the beach, dragging the sand where it was wanted, creating smooth planes and hidden dips and valleys. Then Val flipped his wrist so his hand was before my chest.

"Someone's looking for you."

I didn't answer, nor did I take the paper he was offering. The ocean held more interest to me than any paper, any person who might think they could find me. I knew Val would relay anything that was important.

"On Hyrun," he continued, like I knew he would. He tapped the paper on my chest and I continued to ignore it. I wasn't worried. Let them look; those that could hold fear for me would never let themselves be seen coming.

Val sighed and pulled the paper back to his body. "Blonde. Blue eyes. Small kid, young. Used to work in the brothels, but not mine." I still didn't react, but I could feel Val shifting to look up at me. "He also asked after Yarrick."

"What?" I snatched the paper from Val's hand, sitting up so fast I nearly dumped him into the sand. He grumbled and made a show of adjusting his clothes as I greedily read everything the missive said, which was everything Val had already told me.

"Friend of yours?"

Natch, I thought. My thoughts swirled, building towards things I wasn't sure I wanted to understand. It had to be Natch. But why would Natch be looking for me? Worry built in my stomach as I swallowed possibility after possibility. There were too many, and none of them were good, none of them stopped the swirling storm building within my chest. The Captain was hurt; the Captain was in danger; the Captain was dead and it was already too late, there was nothing I could do, how could I have left him, how could I have believed this would be okay...

"Brother." Val snapped his fingers before my eyes, and I breathed in with a start. When had I stopped breathing? "Come back to me. Do we need to be worried?"

But I knew where the Captain was, and the Captain was not on Hyrun. The Captain was not dead; I would have known if he were, certainly, the world would have fallen, I would have ceased, how could I exist in a world where he did not? And so he was still alive, that was truth. And I was quite sure the sea would have told me even if he were simply injured. But when he had fallen in his bathroom, when he had hurt his head or when he had been attacked during the meeting, the sea had not warned me then, I had received no notice of his injuries before coming face to face with them. It was possible, then. My heart raced. The storm swirled. What if he was sick? What if he needed me?

I stood quickly, my feet digging into the sand. I heard Val huff behind me, but paid him no heed. I needed to know where the Captain was. I needed to know where he was now.

I strode to the sea and dropped to my knees.

Val knew better than to interrupt me while I was like this, no matter what I might be doing. I was grateful for that, grateful for that knowledge for it allowed me to concentrate deeply on myself, on my soul, on the ways it was the same as the wet salt that flowed around and within me, the same as every molecule that made up my being and my vibrating lungs exhaled storm gusts as I leaned down and gently pressed my forehead to the waves.

I don't know how long I spent there, in the waves, with the ocean. When I emerged dripping from the water the sun was going down, dappled light catching on the white sands and making them look pink, orange, purple. Val rose from where he had been watching me, worry clear on his face. I ignored him; he might have spoken to me, might have asked for me to explain myself in that moment, but there were more important things. I strode down the beach, feeling the tug the ocean had given me, the quiet instructions I would never be without, ignoring the way the wind slapped at my wet clothes. I would rather be wet with the sea's blessing, cold with the love of the ocean, than not know this.

It took twenty minutes to reach the dock. I crossed my arms across my chest and stared at the beautiful schooner tied up to the docks.

What were they doing here?

Val came up beside me. "What is it?" I sighed, not answering him. The Captain's ship was here, but the man himself was not. But that was all I knew; he wasn't here. He wasn't on the sea at all.

This was the end of my ability. If he was not on the sea, I couldn't find him.

But I knew someone who could. I turned to my brother.

"I need your help."

***

"It isn't easy finding someone who doesn't have a name," Val said for the fourth time.

I was beyond answering that. Instead I paced the floor, frustration flipping with fear in my stomach every second. Why would he come looking for me? What was wrong? I needed to find him, and needed to find him fast.

"I don't see why you couldn't just ask -"

I turned on Val, then, hissing out my frustration. Val knew damn well why I hadn't gone on that ship and asked. It was a waste of time, when Val's men could do it just as well and twice as quick. When I didn't know what the Captain's message to me was. What if there was danger on the ship, and he needed to leave? What if the ship was not safe for him, and me asking after him there put him in more danger? But no, that couldn't be it, because there was Natch, and Finn, and Thron and perhaps Ichor but Natch had been on Hyrun, I didn't know where Ichor was and even then, even if they were all there that that wouldn't be enough, not for the Captain, I needed him to have everyone on his side, needed him to be safe.

Why had he come looking for me?

There was a knock on the door, and I ripped it open before the man behind could lift his hand a second time. At the sight of me he nearly turned tail and ran, but I grabbed him by the arm and brought him bodily over the threshold, tossing him towards Val even as I resumed my pacing.

There was a moment of incoherent babbling, and I paid no attention to it. And how had the Captain found me? It was not common knowledge that we had come from Hyrun to here; if we were seen on Hyrun, that was one thing, but could news have traveled so fast back to Hyrun of my sightings here? Traveled so quickly through these land channels? I didn't think so, not with all I knew of land boys and the ways they thought a quick trip was weeks. I knew that Horace had written to Donar, and of course Donar had known where we were going, but he had better sense than Horace and wouldn't go spilling it all over the damn island, and certainly not to some man who as far as he knew was a stranger.

Certainly not to a pirate. Not when the King was who he was.

"Brother!" I jumped at the hand on my forearm. Val was looking up at me with eyes full of concern. "Ready?"

He knew. He had found him. My breath left my lungs and I don't know where it went; it must have dissipated through my skin, or slipped into my blood, because I don't remember breathing and then it was gone, I had no oxygen, and of course I was ready because the Captain was here, the Captain was on the island and Natch had come looking for me.

Gods all, why had he come looking for me?

I was out the door before Val, only waiting for him to lead because I did not know where we were going.

I might not have known where we were going, but I recognized where we ended up. I pulled up to a stop, frowning. "This is yours," I told Val unhelpfully, staring at the brothel entrance. The red silks in the windows snapped angrily in the strong winds. I wanted to snap back.

He nodded and pulled me around the back. "He's not asking for you anymore."

That barely registered. He was here? Why would he be here? He couldn't know that Val and I were connected, unless someone had seen us together, which I supposed was possible, more than possible, it was even likely. But still, why come here of all places? If he knew enough to know that I was here, and that I was brothers with Val, then he should know where I was staying.

What was going on? The storms in my mind whirled; my lungs had not had oxygen since we had left our rooms.

We went up some steps to a mostly-hidden balcony that overlooked the main floor, where I knew Val or Horace or whoever was running the brothel that night could lurk and make decisions about which patrons could go upstairs and which had to leave. Tonight, the brothel was shockingly empty, the only patron a single man leaning on the bar. And when I saw him.

When I saw him.

Ah, to exist in the eye of the storm. Danger still whirls around you, every direction the same mix of terror and wind and rain, but in that moment. In that place. There is nothing but peace. There was nothing but him.

I had still half expected it to be Natch, even though I knew, I had known it in my soul that he would be here. I could feel it, the closer we had gotten, but Natch had been the one looking for me, and so why shouldn't it be Natch again?

But of course it couldn't be Natch. It would always be him.

There was something dangerous about the lines of his body. Something cold. His tight pants heightened the curve of his ass, out for all to see as he had forgone his black cloak in the Barrow heat. I watched as he lifted a bottle to his lips (damn his lips, bless his lips) the motion opening the dip in his white shirt and baring his chest to the room. Baring his chest to me.

I gripped the handrail tight to keep myself from falling. It was a futile gesture. I had already fallen, would always fall for him.

"I take it this is your man." Val sounded... I don't know what Val sounded like. I wasn't listening to Val. Instead, I watched the Captain tip the bottle back again, feeling something drop through my stomach even as I was so relieved that he was here, that he was safe.

"Where the fuck is he?" the Captain shouted, and his voice. It reached me in a way that no voice had reached me in weeks, and I realized that I had been deaf, that I had been living in a world without sound and his voice, the sound of his presence was the first thing I had heard since I had leapt from his ship.

A server came up behind him, and I watched him whirl, his slender blade pointing as more of a promise of possible violence than any form of violence itself. The server backed off, but the Captain didn't relax. "Show yourself!" he shouted, his eyes casting about wildly. When they passed over us I held my breath - the moment felt so delicate I was afraid that even my exhale would cause it to break. "Worm!" he continued, and I heard Val sigh beside me. "Fucking show yourself!"

Worm? I thought. I had another moment where the storm crashed everywhere but with me, and then it was again in my mind, in my chest, in my soul. Worm. That isn't me. Who the here for, who is he calling worm? I wasn't upset that he was calling for someone else; I was upset that the action of doing so seemed to hurt him so much. To see him so close, and then for him to be in such pain? It was torture.

I watched him pull the bottle back to his lips and sucked in a breath, trying to find some oxygen. That might have been a mistake. The situation felt combustible; any oxygen would have allowed the whole thing to go up. But I wasn't thinking about that, I wasn't thinking about anything but him, his voice, his hand holding the knife. His other hand holding the bottle.

"He's drinking," I said, confused, upset, stating the obvious and hoping that it would make it make more sense. Why was he drinking?

He doesn't like himself when he's drinking, I thought, remembering the way he had existed with me that morning, the words he had said, the ones he hadn't. I couldn't let him get there again. I need to be there for him, I thought. I need to get to him before he does something he regrets. That was what did it; I needed to be there for him, because I knew what path he was moving down and the shadows of his pain, present and future, were doing nothing for my empty lungs. I turned and pushed past Val - why did Val look so upset? No matter, can't think about that now, the Captain was here and the Captain needed me - and all but threw myself down the stairs.

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