Chapter 1: Chapter 1
George Eacker was fucked.
He realized this the moment that the ship started crashing, and the escape canoe had mysteriously disappeared from the deck.
The clashing and slashing of steel was the only sound that filled the night.
George was in the middle of fierce combat with one of Washington's henchmen; some layabout with big curly hair and an eyepatch over one eye named Laurens.
Laurens was fast and could move swifter than he could blink, but George was stronger and one of his blows was worth five of Laurens's.
The two weren't evenly matched; Laurens was fast and cut George through before he could blink, but when George's mark hit, it was enough to make Laurens stagger at the blow. The two were already battered fighting; George had a thin, narrow gash down his leg and another slice in his side made every step feel like torture. Laurens's arm was dripping with blood, and he cried out in pain every few moments. George had probably ripped at least a few muscles there, and Laurens was beyond pissed.
He was about to deliver the killing blow, and had Laurens in a lock below him, when a cry pierced the air.
He searched desperately as water lapped at his toes, looked around wildly for his crewmates as it engulfed his knees. His heart raced, and blood roared in his ears. He wasn't going to die here, never.
He found the escape canoe, and his crew was in it, though they took no notice of him. He sighed in relief, and started to shuffle over as fast as he could. The water was thick, and it felt like it was dragging him in.
"You came back for me! That's a relief." George was about to say, reaching to climb onto the canoe, before Thomas cut him off at the first few words.
"Nope, off the canoe." He replied rudely.
"What?" George was confused. And a little irritated. They weren't playing a trick on him, were they? "I'm part of the crew, c'mon, let me on, Thomas!"
"Sorry, canoe's full." James added, a smirk apparent. "Find another."
"Captain, tell them to let me on!" George hissed through his teeth, which were clenched tightly to keep him from screaming in frustration. The water kept rising higher, it was level with his waist. "You can't let me die here!" The last part sounded like begging, and George hated himself for saying it.
"I'm sorry, have we met?" The "king," (some king he was) grinned, waving his baton at George swiftly. "I'm no captain."
"Retreat!" It was a loud shout that could only come from one bastard. George's neck snapped in his direction, Laurens temporarily forgotten.
It was Hamilton, the one that they'd been intending to kill in the first place.
He was standing on the front mast like he was a captain (arrogant prick) and grinning wildly.
He was holding something with a gray, leather bound cover...
"Your Majesty, please let me on." George groaned to himself, but didn't let the others hear it. He was being forced to beg, oh, he was definitely flaying the others for this later. The water was rising, he was getting desperate enough to beg at this point.
"Oh, well, if you insist..." He snapped his fingers, and instead of going to his rescue, Thomas and James grabbed their canoes quickly and started rowing in the opposite direction.
It was their doctrines, every one of them compiled into one thick leather book.
He couldn't have it, it was filled with the names and info about every crew member, and every single ship they had and would plunder.
It was too valuable, he couldn't have it, George thought.
That much power...George shuddered to think what Hamilton, of all people, would do with it. None of the ideas in his head had good outcomes.
George did the smartest thing he knew. He lunged, sword clenched in his hand tightly. Laurens was left in his trail, and shouted wildly.
"Alex, look out!"
Hamilton was turning around at the sound of Laurens shouting, and George was waiting for him. He swung as hard as he could, eyes tightly shut, and he didn't miss. He didn't have to open his eyes to know that; he heard the sharp scream of pain coming from the bastard.
"Hey! You can't leave me behind!" George shouted after them. "I'm...I'm your crew." His voice fell, until it was a quiet murmur.
His heart stung, but he should've guessed that they would leave him behind. They were pirates, not heroes who would come to his rescue all the time. It still hurt, though. Ever since his father had left him at the harbor, they were always there. Like family, almost.
Vivid memories flashed by, of all the plundering and killing they'd done over the years. He'd never liked that part, killing the last few (newly widowed) women on a tourist cruise ship, or tossing the remaining children overboard so that they could loot the place. It made him feel worse than he already was.
He looked up warily. Hamilton was clutching his face, staggering back. George didn't wait a moment to take action, he snatched the book from Hamilton's hand, and backed off. It felt lighter than usual.
He certainly didn't expect Hamilton to look up at him.
Well, now he knew for a fact that he hadn't missed.
The blade had slashed a horizontal line right above his eye, and blood dripped into it as he stared into George's very soul. The coldest, sharpest kind of fury reflected back at him.
"I'll remember this." He hissed furiously, and tried to stand. The threat sent involuntary shudders up George's spine. He huffed, he wasn't scared, why would he be scared of such an arrogant prick?
I t would've been amusing, watching Hamilton stagger off of the ship and get carried by Laurens. That threat still rang true in his mind, echoing ominously, and squashing any sort of amusement or mirth.
Would that really be the way people remembered him? He never had time to consider it before.
As the water rose to his chest, swallowing his arms and lower body with it, he wondered what would happen after this. Would he let himself die here?
No. Not now.
He salvaged through the wreckage, and managed to grab a few stray wood planks. He clung to one of them as it floated over him, completely soaked. He clung to it tightly, tightly enough to make the wood groan, and managed to roll on top of it.
It was a miracle that the thin, weary wooden plank was able to support one heavy, soaked human. He took rough, slow breaths, and closed his eyes.
He was fucked, wasn't he?
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Philip reminisces, and thinks about why he's here, and ends up meeting someone new.
this was relatively short, sorry ;-;
I'll try and get to longer chapters as time goes on.
this is dedicated to the person who needed more again, i adore your positive comments!
Philip stared at the map in his hands.
He almost screamed in frustration.
The corners of the page crinkled with his tight grip on it, and the rips only got bigger. He loosened his grip on it, trying not to completely destroy the map. He still needed it. Even if he did, he had to admit...
This made no sense! How could his father have read this?
Everything had confusing symbols and labels on them that he couldn't be asked to understand. Some of them looked like they were just spilled drops of ale or water that cluttered the map even more.
He couldn't tell what was land and what was ocean, and what each landmark was (if it even was a landmark, and not just a blot of ink dropped by clumsy fingers or a spilled drink).
Every location on the map had quick, rushed handwriting around it. Some footnotes from his father, he assumed. Not like he could read them, so they weren't much help.
How had his father been able to make his way around the ocean with this mess as his map?
Philip's brows furrowed, and as he tried to make heads or tail of the map, his mind wondered why he even bothered. It was wasted effort, Angelica had said.
His father was probably fine!
He's probably on his way home right now, a reassuring voice in his mind soothed. His mother's voice. It made his heart ache with homesickness.
Maybe he even passed the ship while I was asleep, He thought. His mind started to settle into a quiet calm. Yes, that's probably it...
He's been gone for a month! His brain reminded him quickly, breaking the calm demeanor.
He cried in frustration, and tossed the map to the wall. Tears pricked the corners of his eyes, and one rolled down his cheek.
Philip buried his face into the rich-smelling pillows and sheets; the only reminder he had of home, and the only thing in the entire ship that wasn't infested with the scent of salt and ocean water. It was a nice smell, but he was absolutely sick of the scent. It reminded him of the disgusting reek of fish from the harbor at this point, and that was a smell he'd much rather forget.
If he concentrated hard enough, he could almost smell the fresh raisin bread that his mother was probably baking right now, the warm scent carried on the wind, and the honey from the meadery floating on the breeze.
He took a deep breath, and tried to conjure up the sound of his mother singing next to him, soft and quiet and beautiful. Her fingers strumming across an old, worn lute, singing some gentle lullaby. The words were unrecognizable, but it sounded nice, and Philip's head bobbed silently at the sound.
I should go home.
His mind carried him back to the sound of his father's voice, praising him kindly for one of his poems or peering over his shoulder and offering kind criticism for the picture he was sketching.
Philip was carried somewhere distant and cold by his thoughts. Torn by two sides.
His mother, who only wanted him to be safe, warm and content.
His father, who had always had so much pride for him.
How did it all come to this?
He remembered, of course, but that didn't mean he wanted to remember it.
He turned over on his back, staring at the ceiling and trying to burn a hole in it with his eyes. The effort was unsuccessful.
The gentle rocking of the ship, that might've made others feel calm and peaceful, made him nauseous. The sound of the waves lapping at the sides of the boat only further encouraged the sick feeling coiled at the bottom of his stomach.
He knew why he was here.
His father was gone, and it had been his own fault. Philip didn't have to be a genius to know that.
It was supposed to be a typical voyage.
Depart for a few days, and come back with a mountain of gold to pay for a week of absence. Another con of having a treasure hunter for a father was the constant, painful absence.
But when a week passed, worry started to rise.
Two weeks, and everyone was in a panic.
Three weeks, and people's panic melted into a sharp, painful thought that still pierced Philip's heart.
He's probably dead. Him and his entire crew. Most whispered.
Killed by some creature, maybe those pirates. That King's crew probably could damage them enough to kill. Others murmured.
Poor boy, orphaned by that bastard of a father. He deserves better. And so young, too... Some said, right to his face.
Philip shook it off, closing his eyes tightly. A string of thoughts ran through his mind, filling his head with a false sort of hope.
His father wasn't dead, he was fine, the rumors were all wrong, and he was going to find his Pops if it took crossing the seven seas to do it.
Philip was forced out of his thoughts, broken out of them by a loud noise.
The ship came to a stomach-wrenching halt that made him want to hurl. He could taste sharp bile in the back of his throat, and he tipped back nauseously.
He tightened his grip onto the bed frame, and peered out his window. The ship had stopped moving, and only rocked from side to side idly.
He huffed in frustration. Probably a rock. Maybe an island.
Better be an island, he thought. I'm sick to death of this ship already.
He got up, feeling the wood planks groan with his footsteps, and reached for the doorknob. He pulled it open quickly, and stepped out into the deck.
He instantly regretted it, as an icy cold wind shook him to the bone. He rubbed his arms with a shiver, and shuffled towards the mast, where he'd be able to actually see.
There was no island, and no rock. Foaming, navy blue water stretched out for miles on, and the only thing he could see was the shattered mast of another ship, poking out of the sea.
Philip slid down, and made a move to turn the ship around, and sail around the wreckage. The ship turned so slowly, and his only indication of progress was that the mast looked like it was moving further and further away.
He was about to sail ahead, past the mast and the shipwreck (he wondered when it happened; it looked relatively new, who had attacked that ship?) when he heard something that made his blood run cold.
"Wait! D-Don't go!" Philip he stiffened visibly, looking around. Surely nobody was here, in the middle of the sea? The sea was pure water for miles on. Just a voice in his head, or paranoia?
"Please, don't-" a hacking cough, sharp and very, very real. "Don't leave me here..."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
this chapter was ages long
i might not be able to update every week anymore, considering school starts for me next week
so this should cover me for a while
When George Eacker saw the ship, sailing his way, he almost sobbed in relief.
He would've, if it weren't for the fact that he'd already hacked up just about all the water in his body. No room for tears, aside from the ones he'd already shed due to the pain.
His neck hurt, his back hurt, his legs burned like the fiery pits of hell, and his entire body ached with the effort to keep himself afloat. Not to mention the wounds that Laurens had given him, on his leg and his side. The salty waters did nothing to soothe the pain, and only made it sting even more.
Then he noticed the flag on the mast of the ship. A bright red, rippling swath of fabric taller than a man, with the Hamilton seal on it.
They'd come back for him, that was it.
To kill him, he presumed. He considered letting go of the plank right then and there. Drowning in the ocean was probably a better fate than whatever Hamilton and his men would do if they found him.
He remembered his threat, clear as day. With a deep slash pouring blood into his eye, he'd looked dead into George, a cold sort of anger creeping into his painful gaze.
I'll remember this. He'd hissed.
George never imagined he'd live up to his word.
He was just about to let go of the plank. Let the ocean swallow him up in its cold, freezing arms, and let the black cloak of death consume him.
Until the ship thudded into the broken mast of the wreckage, the wreckage of his ship.
He heard some groaning, and the sound of a door opening. His grip on the plank loosened, and he started to give way to the ocean's icy current.
Until he saw the boy.
Barely more than a lad, really. He looked young, and was probably younger. George had the best view of him; from here he could see everything, and the boy was practically basking in the moonlight. Every one of his features was painted in the pale, milky light that shone down from the full moon.
And yet George was in the ship's shadow, perfectly hidden. He had the best possible cover, to sneak (swim?) off and live another day. Maybe seek out revenge on his rotten crew, or perhaps take the safe route and go into hiding for the rest of his days. Either one sounded good, better than drowning in the ocean.
But he couldn't possibly just leave. Something in him was practically screaming to stay, stay and watch this boy.
It wasn't as though his thoughts were without reason. The boy was truly something else.
George had been trained, ever since he joined King's crew, to never give into his more...base needs. Never allow himself to be fooled by a pretty face.
But he was being more than fooled.
He would be tripping over his own feet right now if it weren't for the fact that he couldn't, seeing as how he was partially submerged in water.
The most noticeable feature about the boy were his eyes. They were deeper than all of the oceans in the world, and twice as blue. His face was covered in freckles, as was the rest of his body; he could see them peeking out under the sleeves of his warrior's garb.
His face was small and childish; a button nose and soft features that made him look pure and innocent. His pale pink lips looked well suited for talking, kissing, and activities of the more erotic nature...
He was armored with nothing more than a small dagger. It was like a butterknife, and it would do nothing to protect him in battle. George almost wanted to laugh, but he settled for covering his mouth to stifle a sigh. It would've sounded almost...lovestruck. If he had a mirror, he would've been able to see the moony look in his eyes. His crew would've laughed at him if they could only see him now.
The boy peered over the mast to see, and caught eye of the shipwreck. His gaze lingered over George for a minute, and the two caught eyes.
He knew that the boy couldn't really see him, but that didn't stop him from sinking just a bit lower into the water.
Then his hands found the wheel, and he started to turn the ship around. He was going to swim away!
No, no no no-
George didn't want to be left behind. Again. The boy was the first person he'd seen in hours (or was it days? He never had a good sense of time, and being stranded in the ocean certainly didn't help) and he wasn't about to let them leave.
The shout pushed out of his lips before he could stop it.
"Wait! D-Don't go!" He couldn't help the stutter; he was cold and wet and his teeth still chattered. The boy's silhouette stiffened, freezing up.
He heard me!
His head was turning, looking every direction but George's.
"Please, don't-" George was cut off by his own coughing, as all the evils in the world infested his throat and kept him from speaking. He breathed, in, out, and managed to regain his voice. "Don't leave me here..."
It came out hoarse and pained, but the boy heard him, and that was all that mattered. Finally, the boy turned his head, looked at him, and his eyes flashed.
His body was now half submerged in shadows, and the other half was where the moon shone down, painting him black and white.
The boy squinted, as if he had to believe what he was seeing. George shifted so that he had a better grip on the plank, and started waving.
"Can you... let me on?" His voice hurt from talking so much after such a long time of silence. "Please..." He added, for extra measure.
The boy nodded quickly, seemingly at a loss for words, and started to lower a ladder.
Oh, why didn't our ship have one of those?
He paddled himself towards the ladder, the plank barely keeping his body afloat. All of his effort was put into getting to that ladder, so close, too far.
When the plank snapped in half under his hands, he abandoned it and started to swim. His chest ached with the effort, but he made it.
The moment his hand made contact with the lowest rung, he climbed like the devil was scorching his feet.
He threw himself onto the deck with a groan, leaning against the railing and trying to catch his breath. He felt sick.
The world became blurry, and he tried to stand up on his own.
Definitely a mistake.
The world became fuzzy blobs of color, and he rocked back on the balls of his feet, falling backward.
His back didn't hit the hard wooden planks, instead something soft. Fingers clenching on his soaked shoulders.
The boy had caught him, and was trying to lift him back on his feet. He tried to make it easier, putting some weight on his legs so that it wouldn't be that much of a chore.
"Don't try to walk, you're...hurt." The boy seemed a bit out of breath himself. It was the first time George had heard him speak, and it was wonderful, so wonderful. Soft and magnetic, but with an edge that suggested he could be loud if need be.
George practically melted at the tone, and let himself go limp in the boy's arms. He felt a little bad making the boy drag his weight (which much have been even heavier since he was soaked in water). The world passed by him in a blur of motion and color, and the only thing that felt real was the warm arm around his shoulder, fingers brushing against his jaw every so often, pressed up against him.
Then they came to a room that was accessed via a ladder (dragging George down the ladder must've been quite a workout, and the boy looked ready to drop by the time they got down). The room was lit by a dim lantern. The candle inside flickered and lit the room with a pale orange glow.
The boy dragged him onto a warm, soft bed, and George sunk into it and let his body go limp, limper than it already was. He had been in the ocean for such a long time, he could still feel water burning in his lungs, and started coughing. He held one arm up to cover it, and hacked his lungs out to his heart's content.
The boy moved in and out of the room, getting things and grabbing items off of shelves. Soon, the sound of footsteps lulled him into a peaceful slumber.
There was absolutely no water in his dreams, not one drop. Something he was thankful for. Instead, his dreams were filled with sandy beaches and colorful birds flying through the sky. The taste of fruit and berries lingered on his tongue. Birds cawed and chirped in the distance. The sun was nice, warm and welcoming.
He had always dreamed about something like this, a paradise just for him. Sweet, sweet solitude, as far as the eye could see. Of course, he ended up abandoning that dream, instead pursuing a life of crime with his good-for-nothing crew.
The dream ended almost as quickly as it came, leaving George grasping for thick grainy beach sand and yearning for the sound of a paradise bird's gentle chirping.
He woke up in the same soft, plush bed that he'd fallen asleep in. A thick gray wool blanket was tossed over him, and he held it close to preserve the warmth.
Something smelled burnt, but it smelled like food and that was all that mattered. He got up with a yawn, stretching his arms back. His body still ached, though he felt a bit better after some rest.
He heard some hurried footsteps coming his way, and he instinctively pulled the blanket closer to his chest, before realizing that he already had clothes on.
They weren't quite his clothes, though. A light brown t-shirt that was soft, like cotton, that smelled nice. Like lavender, and peaches, almost. Better than his blood-soaked pirate's vest and pants, and the old scraped boots that were a step away from falling apart. He took a deep breath, and tried to focus on that smell, soothing in every way. He detected a tang of salt, carried from the sea by a fresh breeze.
He tried to get up, and found that his legs wouldn't cooperate. He couldn't suppress a little gasp as pain sliced up his leg like a fresh wound (well, it was).
He eased back with a soft groan, and the bed creaked loudly.
Suddenly, there were hurried footsteps somewhere above him, the sound of floorboards creaking, and curses muttered under one's breath.
Then the door swung open, and George's head snapped up. He instinctively pulled up the blanket to cover up his body (then put it back down again), and relaxed when he saw the boy.
He was balancing three plates in two hands, and he looked one clumsy misstep away from dropping every one of them. He shambled over, and dropped the plates on the table next to the bed, which he hadn't noticed.
"You're awake! Thank the gods, I thought you were dead, which would suck considering I used most of my first aid kit on your wounds, and also because you're the first person I've seen for miles that wasn't dead or creepy, and..." The boy rambled on, and spoke in run-on sentences that seemed to have no point. But, his voice was nice to hear, soft and calming.
"Can you...slow down? Please?" George didn't quite want to sound rude.
"And I know this isn't much, and I'm sorry that I can't really cook that well, and this probably isn't the best food you've ever eaten and I'm...oh. Sorry." The boy blushed lightly, and laughed, scratching the back of his head nervously. "Uh, I have a habit of doing that. Sorry."
"It's alright, I just need a moment to..." He took a breath, and a familiar smell wafted towards him. "Is that cinnamon?"
"Uh, yep. Cinnamon rolls. My Ma's recipe." The two of them sat there for a moment of brief, awkward silence. "Here, try some."
He thrust one of the plates in George's face. On top of it was three cinnamon rolls, still fresh and steaming, with sloppy amounts of icing added on top for good measure. He took it, and picked up the fork, taking one bite.
He chewed slowly, letting the flavors seep on his tongue.
"It's delicious!" George grinned through a mouthful of cinnamon dough.
It's awful, George thought.
But the boy looked so hopeful, watching him eat his cooking. How could he say that to his face?
He wolfed down three of them, and ate like a starving man (which was what he felt like, really) despite the horrible taste. The boy smiled from ear to ear when he'd finished off the contents of the plate, and offered him some water to wash it down.
He took it gratefully, and waited for a while for the food to settle.
"What's your name?" George asked curiously.
"Philip Hamilton, at your service." Philip bowed dramatically, and George laughed a little.
Before the reality set in, and he scooted away.
"Hamilton, huh?" The words came out before George could stop them.
"Uh, yep! You might've heard of my Pops. Alexander Hamilton. He's pretty famous." He scratched the back of his head bashfully.
"I've heard of him, all right." George muttered under his breath. "I'm George." He decided not to omit his last name, just in case Philip knew his crew member's names.
"Nice to meet you, George." Philip held out his hand for him to shake. "How'd you end up stranded in the ocean with bloody wounds, anyways?"
"That's quite a tale. Not sure I have much time to tell it." George propped himself up against the bedframe. "How'd someone," beautiful, George thought. "like you end up on the lonely blue sea?"
Philip didn't bristle at the change of subject, instead pulling up a chair.
"Like you said, it's a long story. Where do I even start?" He appeared thoughtful for a moment. "Well, it all started a month ago. My father set off on a sea voyage to do what he always does. Adventure across the ocean blue, finding treasure and busting heads." A bit blunt, but George laughed a little. That was a pretty accurate description of Hamilton's work, he had to admit.
"Except...He didn't come back." Philip's light, playful tone fell short, and he appeared much more somber now. "One week, two week, three weeks...They couldn't go by any slower. Everyone sort of assumed he had died after some time, and moved on with it." There was an unspoken but at the end of his sentence.
"Not you?" George guessed. He nodded lightly, fiddling with his bandolier idly.
"Not me. It just didn't feel right. This might sound dumb," He leaned a little closer. "But I just felt it. In here." He tapped his chest.
"I knew Pops had to be alive. If he had died, I would've felt differently..." Philip's voice was quieter, now.
"I didn't really tell anyone. I packed a lot of supplies in my Aunt's ship, and I set off in the dead of night." He looked away pitifully. "I still feel bad. I never told anyone, they must be worried sick about me. I still think about going home, sometimes."
George didn't quite know what to say. He put a hand on Philip's shoulder, hoping that that would be enough.
Philip brushed away, looking towards the floor.
"I don't regret what I did," He said quickly, more to himself than anything. "I really don't."
Philip looked up. "Can we talk about something else?"
"I guess." He fingered the sheets of the bed idly.
"Your wounds are pretty deep, but they should heal soon. I'd give it a week. Then maybe you can start moving around, but for now, you should stay in bed." Philip shifted in his chair. "I'll bring you food and stuff."
"Thanks." George sat up again, pushing his back against the wall. "What can I do to pay you back?"
"This is just kindness." Philip offered quietly. "
"All the money I had went down in the shipwreck, but I can probably come up with something, and I can probably pay you back in other ways."
Philip didn't seem to hear the suggestive tone he took on at the end, and laughed.
"I could use the company." He cut George off in a hurry. "It gets too lonely out here, I'd appreciate another person around to talk to."
"That's it?" He looked at Philip curiously.
"That's it. Just the pleasure of another human's company." He answered. George relaxed, staring at Philip even when he looked away.
That was a first. Usually he had to repay someone in gold, or work, or other favors, some less honorable than others. But this boy only wanted his company?
He wasn't so sure that his company could be described as pleasurable, but he wasn't about to throw away his shot at a place to stay, so he kept quiet. This would be fine.
He just had to keep his mouth shut until he recovered.
It would be okay.
He would follow Philip and find Hamilton, and then he'd take care of the man for good.
Then, maybe he'd run off to his little paradise island in the middle of nowhere, and start up a new life.
But until then, the pretty face that looked back at him was definitely something he could get used to.
This might not be so bad after all.
George can walk, Philip has a surprise and it's not sex.
(they both wish it was though)
"You're going to kill me, Philip." George's first words to Philip one morning weren't pleasant. Philip laughed apologetically.
"If I told you that I don't know what I'm doing half of the time, would you believe me?" He gave George a hopeful look.
"Yes. Yes I would." He replied, completely serious.
Philip had kept George up all night with the rocking of the ship. He really didn't know what he was doing. His turns were so sharp and jerking that they made George's head spin (along with the entire ship). He was an experienced sailor, and something like this shouldn't have made him as nauseous as it did. It had been a particularly stormy night, so he didn't blame Philip for it as much as he acted like.
"It was so windy, you're lucky the ship didn't capsize." The two nodded in agreement.
"Then I would've been really pissed." George joked, and Philip doubled over laughing.
George ate as much as he always did when it came to Philip's cooking.
Usually, that meant either wolfing down the entire thing and acting like he was hungry enough for seconds, or barely touching the plate. There was no in-between.
Today, he was more hungry than anything, and gratefully took the stew Philip gave him (He had a feeling it was supposed to be beef, but couldn't really take a guess at the meat floating around in the stew) and drank it down.
"You know, I've been feeling a lot better lately." George added after he'd thorougly finished the stew. Philip smiled.
"That's what recovery feels like, George." He pointed out with a nod. "Do you think you'll be able to walk?"
"Maybe." George looked at his legs, which hadn't done much more than the hurried shamble to the ship's dirtroom in the dead of night.
"It's okay, you can take your time." Philip said reassuringly. "I'm not going anywhere, and neither is the ship." He cocked his head in thought. "Actually, the ship is going somewhere, but you get what I mean."
"Yeah," He murmured, and then there was silence because what could be said?
The day after that, he tried to stand upright when Philip was off tutting about some rocks in the distance.
It was unsuccessful. He collapsed the moment he set foot on his own, and had to drag himself onto the bed before Philip investigated the sudden thump.
After a few more days of rest (and failed attempts at standing) he managed to balance himself enough to stand upright on the floor. His legs still ached from lack of use, but he could stand, and he was happy.
Walking proved to be a different challenge, and every step he took hurt just a little more than the last.
But he was filled with a determination. Not just determined to walk, but determined to run into the kitchens and cook something edible for the two of them.
That determination was what got him up and out of his bed, jogging up to the deck. He winced with every movement, but when Philip saw him up there, he beamed.
"You can walk now! Congratulations, I knew you had it in you." He gave George a joking wink.
"Now that I can walk, I assume you'll be putting my hands to use, doing some hard labor as repayment?" George still had that same hopeful sort of tone in his voice, which he still tried to shake off.
"Nope. Nothing harder than fetching a box of potatoes from across the room or grabbing a cup of tea. I just enjoy the company, remember?" George made a little noise, and stared at Philip.
He'd been serious? He was expecting, at the very least, some work to repay for the food and trouble.
"Now that you can walk, you can help me move this." Philip gestured to an old crate the size of a coffin. George looked at it unsteadily, sizing it up.
"What's this for?" He had asked as they were walking down the stairs, each lifting one side of the box. It weighed quite a bit, he had to admit, and his legs were close to buckling from the pressure.
"Just a little something I found in the storage bunk. This way, watch out for the loose-" George slipped with a yelp and fell flat on his back.
"Floorboards..." Philip finished nervously. He was having trouble holding up his side of the crate, barely keeping it from crushing George.
He stood up hurriedly, ignoring the fiery sting that crawled up his leg, and lifted up his end to keep Philip from falling.
"Thanks, uh, over here." The two started walking again, and George had to keep one eye over his shoulder to make sure he didn't trip on anything. His steps were tentative and gentle, not wanting to upset any more loose floorboards.
When they eventually got to where Philip wanted them to be (which was a small, empty room with cobwebs collection on the corners) George all but dropped his end, Philip doing the same.
"What's all this about, anyways?" George asked, leaning on a wall to catch his breath.
"Your room, actually." He replied flatly. "I know it doesn't look like much now, but I'm working on it."
George blinked in surprise. He was sort of hoping to room with Philip forever. It wasn't that bad; he didn't hog the blankets and he only snored a little bit. Maybe he just wanted his own space.
"That's great," He replied happily. "Do you want me to help you set stuff up?"
"No thanks, I can take it from here." Philip shooed him off in a hurry, and George peeked over his shoulder to see Philip busting the crate open before he left.
A few days later, George was graced by Philip's presence. 'Graced' meaning 'jumped at' while he was walking down a nearby corridor and scaring the ever-living daylights out of him.
"Gods, Philip, you can't sneak up on people like that!" He clutched his heart, taking a breath.
Philip giggled, and a hand flew up to cover his mouth.
"Sorry, I had something that couldn't wait!" He announced eagerly, dragging George behind him. "Come! It's very important."
Maybe George misread his tone of voice.
Maybe he was just still dizzy from fantasies about the curly-haired boy.
But, for some reason, he thought that this surprise would be something of the more intimate nature.
So, he followed, excitement building up in surging waves of holy shit we're finally going to fuck.
He was dragged to the old room that they had dragged the old crate into.
It had certainly changed since he'd last seen it.
With a thick red rug, a few full bookshelves, a small desk in the corner, and a large bed that looked feather-soft and welcoming. A large lantern flickered and swayed on top of the desk. There were no candles, no rose petals, no hand-fed chocolates and romantic confessions underneath a moonlight garden.
Maybe it was just wishful thinking.
"So? Do you like it?" George looked up at Philip, shock and surprise written on his features. Philip looked so hopeful, downright giddy, almost. He couldn't say no to that!
"I love it, Philip! All this space, just for me." He admired the soft sheets of the bed idly. "It's great. I have no idea how I can thank you for this."
"I have an idea of how you can thank me." Philip said, smiling cheerfully. George stared at him, his mind slowly working at that comment. He moved closer, and he could've sworn he could hear his heart racing. Philip probably could too. This was it, finally.
"Could you get the old quilts out of the storage bunker?" He asked, breaking whatever tension there was.
"Huh?" George raised an eyebrow, blinking in surprise. "I thought - "
"It gets awfully cold at night, I still have some old quilts for you to use. They're in one of the big crates, you'll find them." George turned on his heels and darted as though someone were chasing after him.
He spent much more time than necessary in the storage bunkers, doting over the ancient quilts he found and doting over Philip. He thought about the situation with a particularly precise view.
He was just in it for the fuck. He reminded himself. Philip was a pretty face with a good personality that he enjoyed purely to admire. Not because he enjoyed Philip's company, not because there was some sort of charm in the way the boy laughed at old jokes and anecdotes as though he was hearing them for the first time.
Philip was little more than that, George reassured himself. Little more than a pretty face with a good personality.
The fact that he had to remind himself that just to be sure wasn't very good.
He had fallen deep down the rabbit hole, hadn't he?
Philip gets talked into doing something with George, and sort of regrets it (and sort of enjoys it).
Philip was...well, reluctant was the wrong word.
But George would say it fit perfectly.
"Come on, we can have some fun! Don't you want a break from this dreary ship?" George asked, pointing to the distant little settlement among shallow rocks. Philip glanced back, frowning and looking at George.
"Whose ship are you calling dreary?" he asked, poking George in the chest accusingly.
George laughed, light from the candles around them dancing in his eyes. It was a pretty look.
"Yours," George chuckled, leaning against the door frame and crossing his arms, "Come on, I love it here but you gotta admit it gets boring."
Philip huffed, staring down at the frustratingly difficult map on his desk and avoiding George's eyes. The saloon looked kinda fun, actually, from the outside. The lights were a warm golden color, and reflected on the water and made the place look rather welcoming. Even from a distance, Philip could hear cheering and dancing from the inside. It sounded much more fun than sitting inside of the big, boring ship all night and listening to the sound of water drifting.
Still, it was...threatening. A good amount of ships and canoes were clustered around the saloon, and giddy shouting and drunken babbling echoed across the reef.
Philip was pretty bored, though, and didn't want to spend another night poring over the map and wondering if he was headed in the completely wrong direction. It would be a little embarrassing to ask George, so he didn't really bring it up.
Eventually, he looked up at George, offering a smile. "Okay. Let's go."
George grinned, grabbing Philip by the hand and pulling him from the tightly cramped office with a relieved sigh.
"Great, come on. Nothing better than food at a sea saloon," George promised, chuckling and picking up the ladder. For the most part, Philip judged that he was okay with doing most physical things, like walking and running and lifting the occasional weight. Philip was a little concerned about the idea of drinking, but as they steered the ship into a wall of rocks that was lined with other, larger ships, George promised not to drink any more than a few pints.
They stepped onto a rickety wooden bridge, crossing it hesitantly.
George had grabbed one of Philip's jackets from his room (all he wore were Philip's clothes, considering some of them fit quite well and looked nice on him) and was humming contentedly. The door was guarded by a lock, and George pointed out the small slit that was just tall enough for a small, narrow pair of eyes to glare down at them.
The person behind the door didn't say anything, just stared, and the silence was long enough to make Philip shift uncomfortably. Maybe this was a bad idea, the ship seemed much more welcoming now.
George raised one hand, and started to knock. Once, twice, three times, over and over to a specific rhythm. After about five seconds of the repetitive rhythm, the slit closed and the eyes disappeared. The sound of clicking, sliding and rattling of locks and chains could be heard, along with muffled words on the other side.
"Well, well, well. Sheila, look what we got here," When the door opened and a burly, tattooed man climbed out, Philip was totally not considering how long it would take for both of them to run and board the ship. Not long enough, and they would definitely find themselves in what looked like a death grip from the man. "Someone's come crawlin' back, huh? Long time no see."
For a second, Philip would think they were talking about him, but no. The man turned to George, giving him a crooked grin that George seems glad to return.
"Reynolds! You been lookin' worse for wear lately, or are my eyes playing tricks on me!" George chuckled, taking the man's outstretched hand with a smile.
"It's been too long, Eacker, you gotta visit more often!" Reynolds snorted, leaning against the door frame with a raised eyebrow. Reaching up, he adjusted the hood of his hat. The name sounded familiar, but Philip couldn't really understand where he remembered it from.
"Oh? Sorry, I've been a little busy," George waved one hand, shrugging, "Wanna let us in now? I could use a drink."
Reynolds glanced at Philip, eyes raking over his body in a way that made him shiver a bit.
"Us? Thought you said courting was a waste of time, George," Reynolds gave George an apprehensive look, and Philip stiffened.
"Reynolds, it's not-" George was cut off by a chuckle, and Reynolds turned around and allowed them to step inside. George shrugged, giving Philip an apologetic look and pulling him inside.
The first thought that Philip could muster about the place is one word.
Well, he can't really muster a thought, because he can barely hear himself think.
People were talking, drunken rambling, and the constant sound of glasses clattering and clinking against each other is prominent and deafening. Philip ends up sticking close to George's side, glancing around much like a small puppy would look in a new room.
George is chatting it up with Reynolds, and it becomes clear that the two were, at the very least, old friends. Everyone in the saloon seems to know George, actually, and most smile and wave at him as he passes. Some even call out his name, to which George only laughs and waves in their direction contentedly. In a place like this, George actually looks content and relaxed, clearly familiar with his surroundings.
Reynolds leads the two of them to a table in the corner of the room, pulling up two chairs for them to sit in. Philip sits down reluctantly, and George does so as well, glancing around. The other people at the table are playing cards and chuckling, and look up at George with raised eyebrows.
"Well, you look like a sight for sore eyes," One of them finally says, flicking his dagger at George with a playful grin. "Eacker, you missed us?"
"Not at all." George replies smoothly, taking the handful of cards that one of them gives him.
"That's a shame. Deal me one." Another chuckles, shuffling the deck with a hum and continuing. "Say, you still doing what you usually do? Sailin' the seas and getting your ass in trouble?"
George opens his mouth and says something, but Philip completely blanks out, staring at the wall and saying nothing. he watches the cards pile and pick up, seeing their mouths moving but not really caring enough to listen.
Eventually, George slides a drink in Philip's direction. The glass is cold to the touch, but Philip takes it, downing the whole glass in one go.
The drink makes him giggle a bit, a tingly twitching that races up his body and makes him feel less on edge. It's nice, and soon Philip drinks a second. George sips from his first glass slowly, peering at Philip over the rim of the glass with a grin.
George glances at one of the men he's playing cards with, and hums, looking around with a bit of a frown. "I love the clatter, but where is the music? Don't you got that band somewhere?" George drums his fingers along the table, sliding one of the cards into a pile.
George seems close to winning.
Philip isn't really keeping track of the game.
"Nah. They got fired. Maria is here, though. Dunno if I can get her singing again." Reynolds shrugs, and Philip notices something angry flashing across George's eyes. It's quickly replaced with a friendly (but tight) smile. "Maria? Don't you think it's high time to get a real wife?" Philip wants to ask what George means by that, but it would be rude to interrupt, so he just listens.
"I'll go get her. Gimme a minute," Reynolds stands up, waving one arm in their direction as he passes through an unmarked door behind the bar.
A few minutes later, he emerges, and what he has around his arm makes Philip's jaw drop.
A woman with honey tanned skin that seems pale and lacks pigment, although makeup dusts her cheeks and face.
She walks with a slow, dragging pace, digging her feet into the ground and looking reluctant. Eyes scanning the crowd, dark brown and holding more than what meets the eye.
Eventually their eyes meet.
Philip offers a friendly smile, but terror flashes through the woman's eyes and she looks away, ducking her head fearfully.
Most of the men have fallen silent, eyeing her with looks of arousal and hunger. Philip wants to yell at some of them.
But the woman's most shocking feature is not her dark red dress, nor the low-cut hemline that shows just enough and leaves little to the imagination, nor the way the fabric tightens around her like a constricting collar. And it isn't the actual collar around her neck, underneath layers of pearl necklaces and jewelry.
It's the webs that stretch between her fingers, and her fleshy, triangular ears. Philip recognizes the features immediately, just as she hobbles onto the stage.
This woman is a siren.
A siren that is about to sing.