tagGay MaleThe Pirate King Ch. 17

The Pirate King Ch. 17


First things first - I highly recommend going back and reading the rest of the series before engaging with this. We'll still be here when you get back :)

No sex this chapter. Things are... well. The next few chapters might get somewhat dark.

But our lovers are strong, and their love is even stronger, and they will endure. Take the prophecy you find in Sybil's eyes and hold it tight. We'll all make it through this; we're stronger than any storm. All storms break; we, by our very nature, outlast. Some days I don't know how good that is. Other times I get to see the sun and I'm so, so thankful.

So remember that sunshine awaits us all. Even as the days get shorter and the nights colder, there will always be a place for us to find our warmth. Perfectly made first cups of hot cocoa, sweaters that survived the packing of summer and someone to wrap you up tight when you begin to forget where in your body you stored your happiness. Much love, dreams of peace, and as always, a place to call home.


I felt the moment we passed into the cracks deep within my being. It was unmistakable, a crackling opening of energy and disquiet that would have been unnerving if I had not known to expect it, or that we were all safe, that Cookie had laid the correct protections and besides all of that I was me and my daughter was waiting and so it felt more like coming home than slipping into the universe untethered.

The last time we had made this journey I had been too engaged with the feeling of the Captain's arms, the Captain's love, the Captain as family to enjoy this, but this time I was more at peace with the things that I was becoming and in the quiet spaces of my soul I felt the world crack and this time I let myself savor it. We were close. Soon I would be home. My fingers tightened around the form of my love even as my body struggled to contain a shudder.

"Love?" The Captain turned to look at me. We were both having trouble sleeping. I knew that the energy pouring from the fissures were sailing into would cause us to feel energized, our souls buzzing with the vibrations of the world over the next few days even as our bodies begged us for sleep and rest. Existing in this place was like taking a stimulant over and over again. Val said it was the best place for him to live and manage his empire. I don't know how he did it. Whenever I left, my body ached from the disconnect.

"We're close," I told him quietly. I knew he could feel it too. The other land boys might not be able to, but the Captain was no simple land boy. He was the sky, forever and always and mine and he would be more sensitive to these types of things. He would be able to feel the world. Or at least feel me.

He rolled over in my arms and pressed his face to my body. "Is that why everything is so fucking." He sighed rather than finish his thought.

My finger traced over his shoulder and I watched his skin jump beneath me, wondering if he would continue. I knew that he was verbal when I was not. He might feel better giving voice to the things swirling though his core.

He laid silent for a stretch of time. It was apparent that he hadn't fallen asleep from the speed of his breathing, from the way his fingers were tap, tap, tapping against my side. When he finally spoke, it did not come as a surprise to me; I had been waiting for some time. "I feel like the wind is about to shift, only it's inside of me."

It was not a bad description. I often felt like I was constantly at high tide here, pulled up and up and up to the extent of my ability, stretched and not allowed to continue the true cycle until I left and collapsed back into reality. Except, of course, that this was reality. It was the truest form of reality; that was what made it so dangerous. "It will get easier," I told him.

He peered up at me, eyes narrowed. "But does it become less?"

"Probably not." He groaned and collapsed back against me at the truth in my words. My fingers gently traced over his shoulder, assuring him that I was here, that it was okay. That this was something we would pass through, as we had passed through so many things and would pass through so many more. "Sometimes it helps to be moving," I let him know. "It might also not be a bad idea to try and get some sleep." It could possibly be the last sleep he would get while we were visiting; he was not used to this space and would perhaps be more sensitive to the things it held.

"Fuck sleep." His response was immediate and without emotion. Then he turned his head so he was looking up at me. "We could always fuck."

I raised an eyebrow.

He let his breath out in a sudden puff and went back to the shelter of my embrace. "Gods, I want to do something. I feel like I should be doing something, like I forgot to be doing something that I'm supposed to be doing, and it's really fucking important and the longer I lie here. Fuck." He sat up suddenly, those dark brows nearly fused together. "This feels awful. What the fuck is happening?"

"We're nearly at my home." I pulled myself so that I was leaning against the headboard, then opened my arms for the Captain. He frowned at my form. "This is where my daughter has to live."

"We came this way before," he reminded me, ignoring my inviting gesture. "This didn't happen before."

I shrugged. It was worse this time, there was no denying that. But before the world might not have been so invested in us, or perhaps it was that our names had not been held in quite such high relief in the ways such things are known, or perhaps we had simply gotten lucky. Or were distracted. "Things change," I summed up for him, and he sighed and collapsed so suddenly onto my lap I nearly let out a sound.

"And your daughter," he said, ignoring my surprise. "I mean. You have a daughter. We've never really talked about that, not really, I mean you mention her and all that but you don't talk, you know? Not really. Not about things like this, things that are beyond our ship or really anything that's bigger than just us. And I mean. Family." He shook his head, his hair tickling against my bare skin. One hand came up to rest on my stomach, drawing restless circles. I sighed each time his fingers reached their zenith. "You never cease to amaze me." Another circle. "How can you exist like you do, continue in this way, with everything that you have?"

He meant how did I continue to be nameless. "I do."

"Ha." It was more a word than a laugh. "And you say shit like that, like they just are. Like." He looked up at me, those dark eyes tickling at my gaze with mischief and love and just a dash of frustration. "'There is nowhere you can go that I cannot find you,'" he mimicked. I raised a brow. "'I killed a sea god and drank its blood. I'm immortal.'"

"I did," I said. "I am." He rolled his eyes. "But it was a long time ago. I'm not that person anymore." Probably. Perhaps.

"Or what about, 'I am the sea'," he laughed, spreading his arms out wide with the sound.

"Well." I was feeling just a bit put out. "I am."

"Aye, my love. I know you are. But isn't it a bit, I don't know, more complicated?"

I frowned down at him. "No."

"It has to be." He frowned right back up at me. "You can't just say things and then they're true."

"I don't." My arms shifted until my fingers could reach his hair; he pressed into my touch even as his head tilted back, frown set in place. "It is true and then I say it."

"But what does it mean?"

"What I say."

"Gods, Sailor," he laughed. "It really is that simple to you, isn't it?"

Could it not be? I watched him lay in our bed, naked, loved, and tried to imagine some other way of existence.

"Some of us," he told me, those eyes of his dark with a kind of laughter only he could hold, "need just a bit more explanation."


There was a stretch of time as I continued to cord my fingers through his hair.


I frowned. "So what?"

He sat up. "So are you going to explain it to me?"

I stared at the fingers that had so recently been touching the man I loved. "Explain what?"

"Sailor. Christ, you're hopeless."

I stared at him, confused and riled by the winds of the world.

"Your namelessness," he prompted.

"Oh." I wanted to touch him again; my hands were already reaching out. "I am nameless."

"Sailor!" He caught my hands and pulled them down. "I know that. I want to know why, for how long, what made you this way, how is it that you can have things like family and ships and gods, a child. How these things don't name you, how you could lose your name, your identity, and they don't compromise that. I mean, your ex is a godsdamn seer!"

"My child is as well," I said, which only seemed to agitate him more.

"Exactly! So how do you do it?"

I frowned. I did nothing; it just was. I wasn't sure that answer would satisfying him, however, so I merely shrugged and laced my fingers though his.

He sighed. "Fine. Can you at least tell me how it came to be?"

"What? My family?"

"No, Sailor. Gods. I know how families work." He seemed to consider that for a moment. "Your daughter is natural born, right?"

I blinked at him.

"I gotta check, you're so fucking -" He sighed and shook his head. "You're never what I expect."

I squeezed his fingers, feeling slightly worried by that expression of frustration, but he smiled at me. "That's a good thing, my love." Then, without losing his smile, his tone grew more serious. "Can you tell me about your namelessness?"

"Oh. Probably," I admitted.

"Will you?"

I thought about that. I want being obtuse on purpose, hadn't hidden this information for any reason. I just hadn't seen any reason to say it. Words are useless without purpose, and these had no purpose. I had died. I lost my name. What more was there to say? But if he was asking...

I looked into his open face, his endless love. "Okay," I told him.

"Like pulling fucking teeth," I heard him mutter as I pulled myself up to begin.

"I suppose," I started, knowing it was true but feeling the need to soften it for him for some reason, "that the sea stole my name from me when I was drowned."

"Drowned? Is that how you were killed?"

"No." I paused. There was no way to soften this. But we were not soft things, the Captain and I, and death was never soft and it was not right to make mine into something it was not to placate some part of me that was afraid for parts of him that did not exist. And so I took a breath and shaped the truth on my tongue. "I was drug under the ship until I passed out. Or bled out. I'm not sure which happened first. Then the sea filled my lungs and I was dead."

The room was very quiet. The Captain's hands were very tight in mine. When the Captain spoke his voice was the same, tight and laced around me like he was afraid I might disappear.

"He keelhauled you?"

I remembered the feel of irons binding my hands. I remembered the taste of blood in my mouth as barnacles ripped into my flesh, the salt of seawater. The way those parts of me had mixed together and filled my lungs. The light. The blackness. The nothing that had come after it all.

"Yes," I told the Captain. "He did." I glanced up at his face and found it dark, dark, dark. This was why I hadn't wanted to speak of this. It was past; it was done. He had killed me and I would kill him. That was the truth of it, the end and the beginning and as much as anyone needed to know. Any more was unnecessary. And yet I found myself continuing to speak. "It was a foolish action. He knew what I am. He should have killed me on land. On the sea -"

"You are the sea. I know." He squeezed my hand and gave me a small smile, his lips tight and still holding all the pain he knew I had been through.

I frowned. I was going to say on sea, revenge is assured. If not from me then from one of the allies who would see what he had done and find him at fault, his soul wanting. On sea, it was impossible to hide the truth of his actions. My death was a known thing. My names were as numerous as the currents.

But I am the sea did sum it up quite well.

"So. He." His hands tightened in mine just for a moment. I knew he was struggling with this and gave him his space. Keelhauling was a violent death. A painful one. In my lifetime I had seen only one other man meet the same fate that I had, and he had deserved it.

I did not think about what that said about me, or if it said nothing about me what it said about the type of men who used such methods of death on men who were not deserving. It was easier, so much easier to say He killed me. That was that. I wanted to leave it be.

But the Captain was not yet satisfied. "And then what? I don't understand why that makes you how you are. You lost your name that way? How? Why?"

"I had many names." Hundreds, they had said of me. It might have been that many. It might not have been. I had never taken the time to count. "Some of them had power and some of them did not. When Yarrick pulled me from the sea and pounded the water back from my lungs, they were all gone. I don't know how. I don't know why." I shrugged. The sea had seen it fit make me this way; who was I to question the things that I was?

"Fuck." He sat with that for a moment. "What a violent way to lose who you are."

"I am still who I was. I had only lost the ability for others to understand that." My sense of self had suffered at first, of course, but in the end one does not need a name in order to exist. A name only serves to differentiate a person from the others in their lives. And I had already done that in my actions, in my existence. What use was a name to me?

The Captain was looking at me skeptically. "I suppose."

"Did you lose yourself when you gave up your name?"

"I felt like I did." He laid back down and placed his head in my lap. "It was so. I don't know, the only word for it was lonely. To not even have a way to refer to myself. I only had memories to fall back on to define myself, and." He broke off abruptly, brows drawing down. "I'm not my fucking past."

I passed a hand lightly over his forehead, willing him to relax. Slowly I watched his eyes return to now, his body remembering that it was with me and only me. Only then did he continue. "And I was told you couldn't become too close to anyone, because they would get an idea of who you were and then they might accidentally create a name for you. You know? Because they knew you and all that."

"I know you," I told him, my fingers happily back in his hair. "I don't name you."

"You do too," he reminded me. "Just not to anyone but you."

It was true. I let my hand press against him for a moment and felt him press back.

"How does it work with your family?" he asked. "When you lost your names? How does that. I mean. They still know you."

"It's complex," I told him. "My names are gone. I'm dead. But I'm still me." I looked down. "Understand?"

"No," he responded instantly, drawing a smile from my lips.

I thought about it, wondering how best to explain something that seemed so simple to me. "It's like this," I began, than shook my head because it was not like that at all, it was like it was and there were no words that were right to explain it if the way that it existed did not innately make sense. But the Captain looked up at me, and asked, and so I tried again. "Like this. The things that make me up, the things that I am. My family understands that. But a name, especially a name of power, it can sum up those things and allow people to hold the things that you are in their mouth. Strangers, enemies, they can hold your being on their tongue with comfort." I had many names of power, once. Not all of them had been comfortable to say. But still men had tried, and some had even succeeded. Those were not moments I enjoyed, when a being that should have been an enemy stood before me and showed that they held my power in their chest. "My family doesn't need those names to summarize me. They understand me without them. And my enemies, they will now have to come and learn of me in person if they wish to know me."

The Captain was still for the first time since we had come into the cracks of the world. "So a name is like a shortcut."

I thought about that for a moment. "A shortcut," I agreed, "and a buffer." A shield from your true self. "That's the way I understand it, at least." There were a thousand explanations of namelessness. This was just the one that sat in my truth.

"So then, the prophecy -"

I blew air from my lips angrily.

"What?" he looked up at me in surprise. "What's the issue with the prophecy?"

The buzzing of the world made me feel loose, easy. "Fuck the prophecy."

"Whoah." The Captain sat up.

Now it was my turn to look askance of him. "What?"

A smile smile spread over his lips. "I think that's the first time I've ever heard you curse." The smile quirked. "Besides when you're begging me to come."

I waved a hand to spread those words throughout the cabin we shared. The Captain smiled at my expression. "But in truth. Those are strong words, Sailor."

I shrugged. They were strong feelings.

"So what's your deal with the prophecy? You don't think it's true?"

If I had listened, I would perhaps have heard a twinge of fear in his voice. Fear or maybe just an opening, a stretching as he reached for something in me. But I was not listening to him; I was listening to the world, feeling the way it pressed up against me and made me so much more and so much less. Wore thin the parts of me I usually shored up, stirred currents that I had worked so hard to calm. And so when I answered him I did not answer the real question he had asked of me, but instead the words that had passed from his lips, and the call that came from within my soul.

"I think," I began, feeling the buzz of my home, my family, my past so close to my skin I nearly reached up and tried to itch it away, "that it's nothing but words. That there are a million ways to become nameless and a million more to become named, and there's no way to know which way the original prophetess had in mind when she spoke her words because the King at the time had her immediately killed." My father had believed in negative reinforcement and let the whole world know. My father had been assured of his immortality by witches he threatened with their own death. My father had been killed in the night by children and he had deserved to die. "I think three Kings have been killed or deposed since those words were spoken, and all of their killers or usurpers could have been convincingly argued to have been nameless or named at the time the throne changed hands depending on how you want to spin it or if you want the prophecy to be dead. I think the prophecy is vague and not worth the effort and stress." How many hours had I had to sit through of men telling me of this nameless fighter or that nameless child, of this rumor, that folk tale? In the end my brother had drug me beneath my childhood home and, armed with the prophecy, I had not seen it coming. "I think Dreyfus is a fool for taking it so seriously, especially since he has seen all the same shifts and changes that I have, especially since he might have killed the prophecy himself." He might have been nameless when he killed me. He had a name, sure, but was it his? It was given to him by our father. Everything we had was given to us by our father; our ship, our food, our names, our very lives, and he made sure we knew it. Can something ever be yours if you don't make it yourself? Had I ever been anything but a ghost? "Or the prophecy might have been dead before it passed the lips of the witch, dead with her because she knew she would die for telling the King of his mortality. Or perhaps it was always going to come to pass, and that is a tragedy but everyone dies and what is the point of living with one foot in the future, one foot in the past with a woman who is long since gone? The world exists now. I exist now, with you, here, and isn't that enough? Can't that be fucking enough?"

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