tagGay MaleThe Pirate King Ch. 21

The Pirate King Ch. 21

bynakamook©

Welcome back. I love you, I've been procrastinating writing this chapter. I've had most of it written since this time last year. Let me know what you think, of me, of the chapter, of what will happen next.

I promise you, things will end up okay.

May you remember in moments of turmoil that there is no such thing as an eternal state. The seas move; mountains rise and fall. Our universe will end and begin again. Nothing is forever, not even pain.

Move forward and strike first. End the times you feel have no right to exist.

Peace, love. Safety. Restful sleep and the knowledge of renewal.


***

The morning brought with it rough waters stiffened by a breeze so brisk it was difficult to stand on deck without your body being pushed.

We were being pushed. It was all that mattered. I disentangled myself from a sleeping Captain (could I ever disentangle myself from this man? His soul, his very being lay so central to my very existence I was not sure that he was not the wind in our sails and I merely the direction, he the force and I, I the impetus, we together something so much more frightening and powerful than our two frightening or powerful bodies separate could ever be) and headed down to the galley.

Cookie frowned at me as I entered the kitchen. "Heavy handed," he chastised me, but it was what I needed to be and we were going where we needed to go and so I ignored him as I measured out ingredients for the morning porridge.

The men straggled in, looking exhausted from battling the storm all night. Some took little notice of who fed them their breakfast; it was simply another morning, and they had not yet blinked the sleep and crusted sea from their eyes. Others, perhaps more observant or simply more cautious were hesitant as they handed me their bowls, eyes hard on my fresh and vibrating form.

Natch came in late. His clothes were damp; he must not have changed from the night before, and so still wore the proof of the nights storm. When he saw me standing in the kitchen, just about to leave with my own food, he froze.

I ladeled a second bowl and made my way over to him. "Natch." I pressed the warm porridge into his hand, smelling the way it made the space between us sharpen with ginger.

He stared up at me, eyes bleary and searching. I saw him trying to make decisions, draw conclusions, but watched as he lost thread after thread in his exhaustion. I took his shoulder and lead him over to the table.

"I sweetened your porridge already." Natch liked his breakfast so sugared your teeth hurt. He nodded his understanding as he sat down, but the knowledge of food did not seem to make it past his brain to his body and so he sat, still and weary, staring down at the bowl on the table before him.

"Natch," Thron prodded. The boy looked up. "Eat your breakfast."

"Aye," he agreed, and picked up his spoon. I watched him eat in routine silence for a moment before turning to my own fare.

There was no chatter that morning at breakfast. The men who had been on shift during the night were too wearing for talk, and the ones who had not were too conscious of the exhaustion in the air to try to craft anything from the energy they held so dearly in their chests. It was a morning to remember how precious sleep was, how unpredictable the ocean could be. I, unpredictable and well rested, took my breakfast in silence and was happy for it.

But silence never lasts. "Ghost," Natch finally said. I turned to look at him. "What the fuck was that last night?"

I slowly put down my spoon. Natch's edges were blurring with the ways he forgot to concentrate on his form, curling tendrils of frustration and exhaustion and confusion reaching out and pulling back as if they did not quite know what to do with themselves. "You nearly killed Eventon."

I did not know Eventon. If I had, my answer would have been the same. "Then he should be a better sailor."

Sharper tendrils at that. Natch pulled back, eyes narrowing. "Ghost."

I shrugged and went back to my porridge. I had asked many men to sail through much rougher waters.

Across the table, the Russian was watching us with interest. "He is mad about the storm?"

I shrugged again as Natch stared me down.

The Russian's eyes narrowed. "But it was a small storm." Natch's body turned to him, perhaps surprised by the nonchalance of his words, perhaps by the comfort he felt in sharing them. "We have sailed through much worse, da?"

I did not often note the state of the sea past the way it sat in my chest and made me feel like I wanted to rip whole ships apart with my bare hands. The Russian knew this and turned to Natch. "You have sailed through worse than that if you are a sailor long."

The strange grammar did not seem to hurt Natch's comprehension. "Yeah," he agreed. "But we didn't have to."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Thron asked. He was watching both the Russian and I carefully in a way that did not conflate us for the first time in years. I wondered if he perhaps, with his view of the Russian, could see me more clearly than most other land boys. "It's not like he can control the tides."

Apparently not. I put my spoon down and turned to Natch, knowing what was coming.

"Aye," he said. "He fuckin' can, and he still makes us sail through that shit."

"What," I asked him, ignoring the way Thron's eyes went wide, how he glanced at his lover with a sharpness that looked too much like fear, "would you have me do? Call a perfect wind every day? A smooth ocean?"

"Yes," Natch said. His eyes were tired and his body nearly limp.

"Blue skies every day? Easy work?"

"I mean." Natch spared a glance across the table at Thron, who was still looking at the Russian, who was looking back at Natch with an expression of amusement that did little to reassure the small blonde. "Yeah?"

"If that is what you wish," I told him as I stood and gathered up my bowls, "then perhaps you should reconsider if you truly wish to be at sea."

The Russian's hearty laughter followed me as I walked away.

***

I pulled Finn aside as I cleaned up after breakfast. He did not look happy to see me. Many of the men avoided me that morning, their eyes hard on my form.

Land boys, I thought. Fickle friends of the sea. How easily they forget the nature of the ocean, the truth of open water. They think it is a different man, a different ocean that can hold a child in the fingers of it's bays and destroy ships in the gales of it's stomach. I watched Finn's eyes dart past me and thought; by tomorrow, they will all once again return to their safer ideas of me and forget the less convenient truths.

I gave Finn a hot cup of tea, an herbal blend made up specially by Cookie for sleep, and asked him to give it to Natch. I did not think the boy wanted to see me just then. I also did not think he would let his body rest from the morning on the deck and I needed him rested.

"Get him below decks," I told Finn. "Give him this." Finn did not look me in the eye as he took the cup.

I spent the morning and much of the afternoon with Hamms. He, of all the men, acted the least skittish around me. As another sailor took a wide berth around my form, the tar snorted.

"They think you're witching up this wind. It's a right unnatural one, never seen one like it in my day. And they're all talking, saying the same old shit, but so what if you are a water wraith of some sort, or a spirit, or a god?" he told me. "Don't care what you've done or what you can do. If you could do it, you'da done it back when we treated you like shite. What's the use of worrying about it now? It's like they forget you used to let yourself be called prisoner." He shook his head. "And besides, you coil ropes better than the rest of this worthless lot," he called to another man skirting his way around our forms.

I handed him a coil and wondered how his vision had become so sharp.

Cookie also had things to say to me when I joined him to prepare dinner.

"You'll draw suspicion callin' winds like this," he told me in a low murmur nearly hidden by the simmer of soup. I scraped tomatoes into the pot and listened to them join something larger than themselves. "And not just from the men on the ship. Yer drawin' attention from those who know these sorts of things."

It was a little late to worry about Dreyfus noticing where I may or may not be moving. He would have known where I sailed the moment our ship crossed the border. I wondered if he was surprised I lived. I wondered if he had received the confirmation of my existence in his world, still, after all he had done to make it not so. Crossing first the border to his birthright, his rum port, and then to his world.

"Sailor." I lifted my eyes and smiled. And with what a man at my side. Or perhaps I was at his, only an accessory for his eventual return...

The Captain stood in the window the kitchen, his thick black curls falling every which way and doing nothing to obscure the frown he held tightly on his face. I handed the cutting board to the frustrated Cookie and left the small room to see what my Captain might need.

"I want to go over some maps with you." His fingers were light on my forearm and my soul was flying. "This wind. It's not taking us North."

"It is not," I agreed.

I felt his moment of hesitation in the pause of his fingertips, the way his breathe didn't match up with mine for all of a second. "Why not?"

I put my hand over his. I smiled. And I told him my plan.

"Wicky."

And my Captain, oh, my Captain. How he smiled back.

***

"You drugged me," accused Natch. He looked better, much better than he had at breakfast, his body now attached to his words in a way that gave him no excuse for the ways in which he was acting.

"Herbal tea is not drugs." I pushed the food over to him for the third time. For the third time, he pushed it away with a scowl. I felt a flutter of impatience beat against my chest. "You needed to rest."

"I needed to be with my crew."

"They did just fine without you."

"But they didn't need to. I should have been there."

"Natch." I took a breath. I let it out. The ocean beat against my chest, the stiff breeze tugged at my skin, ever close to breaking, ever pushing me on, on, on... "The ship moves with or without you. It's destination -"

"Is what? Already known?" His voice was louder than perhaps he meant it; the men eating nearest to us looked up. Thron did not join us for dinner, and neither did the Russian. I had not seen either of them, together or separate, since breakfast that morning.

"Yes," I told him simply.

"And who's call was that, Ghost? Who decides where we sail? You? Or the captain?" I saw the frustration in the way he was slowly rising from his seat, the fear he hid just behind it. The ocean pressed, and pressed, and pressed...

I told Natch the truth. "I do." His scowl darkened and I leaned back. "But the Captain -"

"The Captain what? Agreed after you made it so?" He was angry, so angry. The men around us were silent and watching, waiting. The sea within me rising. "You don't get to just come in here and take control -"

I slammed the bowl down in front of him, splashing soup and oceanic force far enough that the man to Natch's left stood, his hand on his knife. "I am," I told him, and my voice was everything I had been holding back and I saw him shrink before me, "the sea. I make the swells. I destroy the swells. I decree which days are flat and which are rough. Your Captain, my Captain, he is in as much control of the sea as he would be if you did not have the luxury of having me aboard. He captains the ship. The ship sails the sea. The sea is unpredictable and ever changing. He reacts to that, has always reacted to that. Will always have to react to the ocean, because he sails upon it. And you. You, a mere mortal, a sailor, you have the chance to find out the sea's moods and whims and still you complain because you think you do not have enough control?"

The mess hall was silent. All eyes were on us.

"You," I reminded Natch, "are a sailor. You have always been at the mercy of me." I pushed his bowl a bit closer to his frozen form as I stood. "Eat your dinner. You'll need your strength for the battle we're coming up against."

I did not look behind me to see what I might have left behind as I made my way from the mess hall and towards the deck.

***

Usually Natch would climb up and find me in the riggings to come and practice with the men. But that night there was no sparring, no unnecessary use of energy, and so I draped myself across the riggings like another rope holding this ship together and looked to the sky to do the same for me.

When the moon rose, I slipped through the ropes and beneath decks to find the Captain.

He did not look up from his desk as I quietly let myself into our room, latching the door behind for the night. Instead his focus was on the maps before him, his instruments splayed across his table as he tracked our progress.

I could have told him it was pointless. I could have told him that I was taking us where we needed to go, that I was the currents and the wind and the direction and the end of the whole of it, but he was the captain of a ship and would still have done the measurements.

No, more than that. He was the Captain. If he had done the measurements and decided that we needed to go further north, there was nothing I could have done. I could blow and pull and push the ship as much as I could, but a Captain works with what he is given and no matter what I gave him, I knew. I somehow knew it would always find control within my existence.

I made my way over to him and sat down on the floor at his feet, pressing my body against his legs. He glanced down at me for a moment in surprise, then slipped a hand over my shoulders as he finished with his measurements.

We sat there in the lamplight, the only sound the scratching of the Captain's pen and our breathing, synching up until an outside observer would have reported back only one body in the room rather than two.

Finally, the Captain put down his quill and leaned back. He looked down at me, settled against his leg. "You okay?"

I thought briefly about lying, but what was the point? "No."

"Did something happen?"

I sighed. It was a few breaths before I had gathered enough words to answer this man, this Captain. "I yelled at Natch."

"Why?"

I was not sure I had the answer. My oceans pulled and shifted and I sought the response I needed. "I think I was simply too... Too much."

The Captain slowly stroked my hair. When he spoke, his voice was soft. "Did he provoke you?"

"He asked if it was you or I that controlled the path of this ship."

The Captain's hand paused in it's motion. I waited to see what would come next.

Another man might have asked me to answer the question for him. Might have felt threatened that his men were asking such a question at all. And perhaps he should have, and perhaps he would have been, except I was there by his leg and I felt him press his hand against my cheek as he asked, "Would you like me to take some of that control away?"

It was not the question I had anticipated, but my soul immediately recognized it as the one I needed. My head nodded before I even fully registered the words, so sure was I of the rightness.

"Okay," I heard. Then the hand in my hair slowly closed until the Captain held me tight against his leg. I heard his other hand tapping the table rhythmically, not speeding up, not slowing down. I breathed in the smell of him and waited to see what he would do with me.

"Okay," he voiced again suddenly, and then I was being pulled up by my hair. I stumbled, my body twisting in ways it was not expecting, but the Captain was there like he'd known exactly how I would move and he caught my arm with his and pulled it behind my back in a motion that both put me further under his control and kept me from falling.

He pulled me back against him, our arms held between his chest and my back, his free hand roving my stomach and hips. I shuddered to feel his touch, his breath against the skin of my neck.

"Clothes," he commanded. I could not hide the way that single word sent a full shiver down my spine and he did not pretend not to appreciate it, dropping a kiss on my neck and then another and another, tasting my skin. "Take them off."

He stepped back from me then and I mourned the loss of his touch. But when I turned my head and caught a glimpse of those eyes, so cold, so endless, so hungry for me...

I swallowed and began removing my clothes, my hands shaking and my thoughts filled with nothing but him.

He watched me silently and I loved him for it. His eyes roved my body as if he were seeing me for the first time, as if he couldn't get enough, and then he looked again more slowly and I could see him planning, could watch the way his eyes went darker still and the small, sharp smile his lips began to carry and felt my stomach begin to flip.

"Oh, my love," he murmured as he made his way back over to me. "Are you sure you want to be out of control? I can take all of that away, I can make you helpless." His fingers slowly pushed me and I walked backwards, eyes locked with him, until my knees hit the bed and I toppled onto the mattress. His eyes were sparkling with the light stars bring to the world and I wanted him to write me into his constellations, I wanted him to teach me how to be so cold and so dark and so bright and he leaned down and did not touch me at all, hovered just out of reach as he whispered, "Oh, the things I could do to you."

The shudder his words and proximity brought to my body lit up his eyes in ways I never knew the night sky could look.

"On your knees, back to me," he told me as he walked away. I watched him from the corner of my eye as he went to the trunk and began rummaging around. "Hands behind your back. Fingertips to -"

I glanced behind me to see why he had stopped talking and found him frozen, staring at me with a hunger my oceans wanted to crash up against, wanted to fill, to sate, knowing full well I never would.

"Fuck," he whispered to the air, to the ocean, to me. He was across the room in a moment, dropping a load of supplies beside me in order to run his hands over my shoulders, down my arms. His lips landed on my neck and I bit back a moan. "Love you like this. You're so fucking hot." His hand reached around to my stomach, the back of his hand brushing my cock and this time I could not catch my moan in my throat.

"Soon, baby," he whispered. "Gotta get you all ready first." His hands traced back up my hips to where my arms waited for him. "Make you helpless."

I shuddered again and he felt it, pausing. "I'm gonna do some things that we haven't done before. If you ever want me to stop, you just have to say so. Okay? I don't want to go farther than you want to go." He pulled my head back so that our eyes met. "Okay? I never, ever want to go farther than you want to."

I leaned forward until our lips brushed. He sighed against the kiss, touching his forehead to mine. Then he pushed my head forward and again began focusing on my body.

"I'm using ropes," he told me, and something in my chest loosened to not have a choice in the matter. "It's going to look amazing on you." I felt him wrapping my forearms together, then was surprised when he brought the rope around my chest. He tied another knot and did the same thing again so that I had two strands of the rope across my chest and my hands fasted tight behind my back.

"Gorgeous," he breathed. "Absolutely gorgeous." I felt my hands move slightly, the rope tightening against my chest, and realized he was pulling on the knots he had fastened somewhere above my hands. He pulled harder and my entire body jerked backwards. My heart quickened to be moved through space so quickly without hands to balance, to catch myself.

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