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The Punishment of Sisyphus

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“We had to make some repairs,” Jack fucking Rackham says, gesturing to Flint’s ship. (Flint’s. Ship.) Which he used to steal Flint’s gold. (Flint’s. Gold.)

(Flint’s crew’s gold. Whatever.)

Flint grits his teeth. The Walrus’s deck still looks the same to him—save for Rackham’s crew milling about— but from the way Rackham is even twitchier than usual, there’s something below that he thinks is going to set Flint off.  

“We also made some modifications inside—some of the walls had taken heavy damage, and we needed all the space we could get. So we went with a more… traditional pirate ship layout.”

“Traditional,” Flint repeats.

“He took out the captain’s cabin,” Anne says. She doesn’t look up from under her hat, but her hands are going to her hips, to which are strapped at least two knives. Clearly, she thinks he’s going to get violent. And maybe he should. Someday, in some world—maybe this one, maybe not—Jack Rackham is going to ruin everything. Flint can feel it. He could kill him right now, solve that problem, except it’s all Rackham’s crew on board here and all Flint has as backup is Dooley.

 “Ridiculous that you still had one of those, to be quite honest,” Rackham says. “It was just you and Bonnet.”  

“Right.”

“It isn’t really in the democratic spirit of the brotherhood, keeping a room for yourself.”

“Right.”

“I mean, the first thing when a crew mutinies to turn pirate, I'm told, is they take out the walls.”

Flint’s eye twitches.

 


 

 

“It’ll be good for morale,” Silver says, because he suddenly cares about things like morale. Or he’s just winding Flint up—it’s been hard to tell with him, lately.

Billy, a leveler to the end, says “sleeping in a hammock with the rest of us will make you seem more like one of the men.”

The men seem to disagree.

The first time Flint drops into a hammock, they all shift around him: some seem to be actively leaning away. It could be funny: they’ve already been sucked into his rage and his vengeance, and proximity isn’t going to change that. Unless someone decides to stab him in his sleep. But Dufrense was the most likely to try that—and the most likely to fail—and he’s gone off fuck knows where so Flint isn’t going to worry. 

Still, he doesn’t sleep at all those first nights.

Half the men snore, and the other half are constantly humming loudly or kicking the snorers to get them to shut it up. Even the creaking of the ship seems louder here. And Paxton seems to feel the need to rub one off before and after he goes on watch.

Flint misses privacy.

But with Miranda gone, there’s no real need for it, is there? He doesn’t need somewhere to store the books he won’t bring her, and he doesn’t have any masterplans left. Peter and Rackham took care of those.

So he swings.

 


 

 

His life, Flint thinks, has more parallels to that of Sisyphus than he's entirely comfortable with. There’s the murders, of course—the one he regrets and the ones he doesn’t—and then there’s his boulders. The Urca gold, the pardons, reconciliation, Thomas and Miranda, all rolling down the hill just as the top is in sight. He lets them roll and he lets them fall and he thinks fool me once before finding another, bigger and heavier, and starting the climb all over again.

It’s all an allegorical build-up to the fact that he’s started to fuck John Silver.  

Started to try, anyway.

(His whole life is a goddamn trial.)

They had managed it once, on Nassau. But after that there had been the raids, then the doldrums, and then they’d been locked in a cage, and then he’d recruited a queen into a war, and now there’s fucking Billy who had just happened by, and urgently needed to talk to them about… whatever. Food? Water? Worms chewing holes in the hull and letting them sink into the cold embrace of Davy Jones? Flint could not give less of a shit right now, because he’s too busy trying to make sure that Billy doesn’t look at his hands—hands that had been down Silver’s pants moments ago, and show evidence of such.

 “Good idea,” Silver says. Flint’s half expecting him to turn, with his shitty grin, and say wasn’t that a good idea, Captain? But he doesn’t. That smile had been lost to a bone saw.   

“Great,” Billy says, and whatever his plan was apparently involved Silver because Silver their little hidden corner with him. He says something after that, but all Flint can catch is “—said respect…”   

 


 

 There are stacks and stacks of crates in the hold. Hard to see around. Perfect place for discretion, if both partners can stand comfortably. Unfortunately, Silver can’t, and Flint can’t mention this or else he’s not getting laid at all.

“You know,” Flint says, surveying the doomed venture. He pitches his voice low so that they won’t be overheard by Howell, Dooley and Joji, who are trying to look like they weren’t using one of the crates as a card table. “I used to have a bed. Behind a door. With a lock." 

“Fucking Rackham,” Silver agrees.

“I’m sorry, didn’t you think it was good for morale?”

“Did I say that? Excuse me, I have to go make sure our fine crewmen aren’t gambling.”

Maybe he should take a page out of Joji’s book and jerk off on the figurehead. Randall isn’t alive anymore to rat him out.

 


 

 

“Holy Shit Jesus, I thought you were invaders.”

Silver hauls himself to his feet. It’s a somewhat painful process, and they all pretend not to notice. “There’s no other boats for miles, Dooley.”

“Well, that Vane thing got me shook up is all I guess.” Dooley looks around. “You guys don’t have to try and sleep out here, the others kicked Paxton to the poop deck for the night so we can all’s get some peace.”

“Well then,” Flint says. “Thank you for that information.”

“We’ll just be going back down to the hammocks, then,” Silver adds. “Since there’s…  no need to try and sleep on deck.”

In a corner. In the dark. With the watch up in the rigging. They had been positive

“Happy to help,” Dooley says. “Wake Howard up while you’re down there, yeah? He’s sleeping just to the right of the stairs.”

Flint’s latest boulder goes rolling back into Tartarus.

 


 

 

“Even if there were no one around, is it possible to fuck in a hammock?” Falling seems like the most likely outcome. Might as well have sex on the floor and accept the splinters in your ass. 

Silver considers the question. “I dunno. You think Rackham and Bonny ever managed?”

They both look off into the distance, pensive and thoughtful. It would look to any of the crew like they’re planning their next strategy in this war they’ve started.

“Let’s not ask,” Flint says.

“Let’s never.”

 


 

 There are men in the mess at all times. Flint eyes the tables and benches—there’s definitely potential there— but short of banning everyone from the ship for a few hours, he doesn’t see how to make it work.

“We sneak back when they’re all on shore?” Silver offers.

“You want to row to the beach, set up a tent, steal a boat, come back to the ship, climb on board, come down to the mess, fuck, and then do the same backwards and hope no one notices?”

“Well, do you have a better idea?”

 


 

 

Silver rolls into a patch of sunlight like a goddamn cat. “Finally.”

“Mhm.” Flint can’t do much more than agree right now. If he’d known ‘private tent on semi-remote beach’ came with ‘convince the Maroon Queen to join their war,’ he might have been able to argue even more passionately.

Probably not.

But he doesn’t feel the need to be particularly logical or studious in his priorities right now.

“How the fuck did that take so long?” Silver is stretching now, and that’s unfair, that’s—

“Captain, if you’re in there I-- Jesus Christ.” Billy can’t actually slam a tent flap, but he does a damn good job at trying. “If you’re quite finished.”

“Yeah.” Nassau. Gems. Rackham. Yeah. To Silver he adds, “that’s how.”

“Goddamn good-for-nothing pirates,” Silver agrees, although he doesn’t sound too put out. 

“Today,” Billy stresses.

“Yeah.” Flint reaches for his pants.

 


 

(“Hey, Rackham,” Silver says, all soft and confidential in the firelight. “Have you and Bonny…”

Rackham twitches again. “Have we what?”

“Ever fucked in a hammock?”

If they weren’t attached to his face, Rackham’s sideburns might have curled up in shock. “I—how dare—I—we—” he stops. “Have you? Is that possible?”

Flint looks at his hole in the ground and thinks he might prefer Tartarus to swallow him up anyway.)