"I didn't like you at first, William," André Côtard confessed when they lay tangled with each other and the sheets.
Much to his surprise, William laughed. "First Archie, now you. Why do people dislike me?"
"I cannot speak for Mr. Kennedy, but as for myself, you refused to give way to me like most people I knew." André propped himself up on one elbow so he could look at William properly. "You stood up to me and insisted on proper naval protocol."
William raised an eyebrow at André. "Proper naval protocol keeps the ship running, André."
"I know that now. I didn't at the time." Smiling, André gently smoothed back strands of hair that had fallen into William's eyes. "However, as we spent time together, I came to like and respect that you refused to defer to me simply because I demanded it. I had to earn your respect. Do you know how rare that is for a man of my station?"
His lover smiled, reaching up to tuck a strand of André's hair behind his ear. "I've some idea. You're not the first noble I've met, you know."
"Indeed?" André wondered who else William knew. Dropping that line of questioning, he returned to what he'd been saying. "I liked that I had to earn your respect and I found you quite attractive from the first."
Chuckling, William shook his head. "I don't know what you find attractive about me, but you're not so bad yourself." He feathered his fingers through the hair at André's temple, pale blue eyes turning serious. "For the first time since I went to sea as a boy, I found myself wishing to be back ashore. I wanted more time with you."
"I am… very humbled, William." André had wondered if William thought of him during his voyages. "I've thought of you often, wondering what you were doing, if you were keeping your captain and ship safe."
Smiling once again so the corners of his eyes crinkled, William drew André's head down for a kiss, slow and sweet this time. "I'm touched."
André rested his hand over William's heart, feeling the beat speed up. "We both face so much danger, William. I ask only for some of your time when we're both ashore."
"Gladly, André." William covered André's hand with his, squeezing gently.
"Merci beacoup, mon cher." With that André leaned in to kiss William again.