It's a mark of just how far gone he is that it takes John so long to notice what's happening.
The first day, he wakes to a newly carved crutch waiting for him, leant against the wall by the bed. Its smooth, dark wood gleams, and the grip is carefully carved with ridges for his fingers. If John didn't know the worth of such things, he'd swear it was mahogany. He does know there's only one person on this island capable of making this, and it's a person who shares his bed.
"James," he calls, for the man is—unfortunately—not sharing his bed at the moment. He makes use of the new crutch to move into the kitchen, where he finds his erstwhile captain reading a book over his morning tea, hair sleep-mussed and nightshirt slipping off one shoulder. Fuck, but he loves those freckles. John can't be held accountable for the smile that steals across his face.
"Whatever is this for?" he asks, holding up the crutch.
James looks up with one brow raised, for all the world like John's nothing more than a pest disturbing his peaceful morning. He grunts noncommittally and shrugs his bare shoulder. The sunlight from the window apparently also loves James's freckles.
"I didn't need a new one," John insists.
James looks back to his book, muttering about a spare piece of wood in his shop.
"This wood is much too expensive to go spare, and you know it." He reaches out with the end of the crutch and gently nudges James's chin up to meet his eyes.
James huffs at him and puts the book down. "Small town like this has no market for anything in mahogany."
It's John's turn to raise one skeptical brow. "You could easily have used this to make several dozen pieces to sell around the island, and my old crutch was perfectly serviceable."
James takes hold of the tip of the crutch under his chin. He tugs it carefully, slowly, and John follows the pull, hopping forward twice until James can drop the crutch and instead catch him about the hips and rub his face against John's belly like a great ginger tomcat. He murmurs something into the folds of John's shirt that sounds suspiciously like You deserve better than serviceable, but by this point John's brain has been made vestigial by sheer affection, and he'd rather pet his ridiculous tomcat than force the conversation any further.
The next day there are fresh mangoes at breakfast, the first of the season, delightfully rich on John's tongue with their particular velvety sweetness. He thanks James thoroughly and stickily.
The day after that, James fills their tub with hot water, hauling and heating bucket after bucket and then coaxing John into the decadent, steaming soak. John sighs as his perpetually tight muscles relax in the heat. He does some coaxing of his own, and once James joins him in the tub, a great deal of the water ends up splashed out onto the floor.
The next evening sees James arrive home with a book of newly-collected Quevedo poetry. He reads to John from it, and they laugh over the satires and discuss some of the more philosophical inclusions. As was frankly inevitable, though, John's not able to focus for long on anything but how James's rum-dark voice sounds flowing over the Spanish vowels. And once he starts reading about beauty and desire for a lover's hair unbound, John unbinds his own hair and wrestles James to the floor to show his enjoyment
It lasts three more days before John sees the pattern. James has, on the fifth day, baked the soda bread John especially likes, on the sixth, finished all the mending John finds so tedious, and here, on the seventh consecutive day of unexpected treats, James is methodically working a comb and sweet-smelling oil through John's just-washed hair.
Christ, he loves the simple bliss of James's strong fingers digging circles into his scalp. "A man could get used to this," he sighs as his head drops forward to his chest.
James laughs gently from above John's head. He's perched himself at the edge of the bed, and John is seated on a cushion on the floor like some pasha from the East. John is still sometimes surprised by the gentleness in his once-fearsome pirate captain. This quiet, bookish carpenter who takes his tea steeped nigh unto death and his lover any which way he can get him is a long way from that terror of the West Indies. Captain Flint's campaigns were a touch more bloodthirsty and certainly less generous than this. Hang on...
And right here is where John reverses the past days in his head and realizes that...
"You've been particularly attentive to me this week," he says. "Have I forgot an occasion I should be remembering?"
James's fingers still for only a second before they return to carding smoothly through John's hair, root to end. "No," he says. "No occasion."
"Then the gifts are for..." John trails off expectantly.
"Gifts?" James asks, but it's got a smile in it, and though John isn't looking at James, his mind can see quite clearly the way one corner of his favourite mouth is turned upwards.
"Yes, you sneaky bastard, gifts," John laughs and turns himself round on his cushion to look up at his lover. "The fruit and the poetry and the baking and the crutch and..."
"The bath was a good one. Don't forget that," James reminds him.
"Oh, I'm not likely to," John grins. "I've had some memorable hot baths in my time, but they haven't all ended with handsome men riding my cock 'til they swooned."
"They haven't all ended that way, eh?" James grins right back.
"Only a handful."
"You cheeky little shit," James says, and it sounds as much like affection as it always does. "And I didn't swoon." He smoothes an errant curl behind John's ear.
"No?" John says, resting his cheek against James's thigh and looking up coquettishly through his lashes. "What would you call the part after you came where you were most emphatically not-awake on top of me?"
Instead of answering, James leans down for a kiss that feels like a definite thank-you for their bathing adventure.
The thank-you's continue for some time.
When he returns to his original question, sometime later, John is sprawled atop James on their bed. Their shirts are gone and John is fairly confident their trousers will be soon. He is kissing at James's arched throat, and he looks up through his still-damp hair to ask, "Why all the gifts, love?"
James tips his head down to meet John's eyes. He looks luststruck and flushed and like a man pleased with his life. "That's exactly why," he says. When John frowns, confused, he clarifies. "Love."
John's heart swims in the rushing wave of tenderness in his chest. "Oh," he says. It's somehow all he can manage just now.
"I love you," says James. "I don't want you to doubt that or ever for a moment think I am not grateful that after all the horrors we've suffered through, we've arrived here. Together."
He cups both weathered hands around John's face and pulls it up to his own. "Every day we're here is a good day." And he's so painfully, wonderfully earnest as he says, simply, "I love you, and I appreciate you, and I thought that worth demonstrating."
John surges forward and kisses James with a great deal of enthusiasm and little finesse. His heart is so full it seems to be spilling out through his suddenly-wet eyes. "Thank you," he murmurs into James's sweet, smiling mouth. "I feel very appreciated. Also, I love you. You know that, too, right?"
James huffs a warm puff of a laugh into John's face. "I believe I do, yes."
"Good," John says. "Then I'd like to finish out this John Silver Appreciation Week of yours with whatever your plans for tonight may be."
"I think that can be arranged without undue difficulty," James answers, both hands sliding into John's trousers to grope his arse. John hums his pleasure and gives himself up to however James wants to make him feel good tonight. He'll start planning for James Flint Appreciation Week tomorrow.