"A whore for every finger on your hand, but your eyes kept drifting to this."
"Me, I can't help myself," John Silver says in a humid brothel in Nassau, "I see an opportunity, I take it. It's a sickness. Truly."
He doesn't share his body with anyone else for some while after that. He's too fixated on his objective: the Urca's treasure. Then Flint. The gold again. Then Flint, always fucking Flint, and the inevitable betrayal. He was never planning to stay.
Then Charles Town leaves him a cripple and a quartermaster.
Now it's late, and the Walrus is quiet, buoyed by the rocking of the waves against her hull, and Silver is half-sitting, half-lying on a sack of legumes, the air cool against his spent cock.
Muldoon finishes with the laces of his own trousers and reaches over to tuck Silver back into his. Neither of them say anything until Muldoon's done. The other man scratches at the back of his neck.
"You alright, Silver?"
Fine seems neither adequate enough nor truthful enough. The pain in his leg is already returning and his head feels flush with something like the fever that dogged him through the first few weeks of his recovery.
"If you don' wan'na - "
"No," Silver interrupts. "I want to do it again."
A hand on an aching cock in the dark of the galley - it's something sailors and pirates alike simply do. He's never passed at an opportunity for simple, easy pleasure when it wasn't a distraction from his ends. But Muldoon is - more than just a hand or a cock to slake his flesh with. Muldoon is, somehow, his friend. A first, for Silver.
Silver is also fairly certain that a man does not typically imagine the way a friend's nipples tighten when aroused, the way a friend's beard brushes against the cradle of a man's thighs, the way the light in his friend's eyes changes when he takes his cock in hand. No, he shouldn't be thinking that way of any of his fellow crewmen - Silver presses his eyes closed against the flash of green he suddenly sees - Muldoon included. But he can't find it within himself to get up.
"I just want to - rest a bit," he says.
Muldoon grins and settles in beside him, his chest flush against Silver's side.
With Madi, everything is different. She's sharp but warm and safe. His harbor. His tether.
He cares so much for her his heart threatens to spill over. His heart doesn't know what to do with itself, as it swells again, when Silver presses a kiss to the soft skin beneath Madi's ear and she gasps against him. But it's more than that; loving her may not be familiar, but at least pleasing her is. He knows all the moves in this dance, or at least, he thinks he does. So even when he's at a loss for words (and that's how he should know - he should know), he's never at a loss to do with his hands or his mouth with her.
Afterwards, they talk. Silver never talks of the past; but Madi does. They both talk of the present, and of the future, when (if) Nassau is free.
"If I were a no-good pirate, I would follow you anywhere," Madi says one night and all his words run out.
Becoming Flint's lover is something else again.
Their coupling is nothing short of momentous, for both of them, for separate reasons. Flint - well, Silver tries to do the arithmetic on how long it's been since his captain has fucked another man, but his calculations are nothing short of depressing. Silver won't begrudge Flint any distance - mental, if not physical - that he needs or wants after they're done but still pressed together.
Silver is more than happy to fill the void, anyhow.
He's never been this close, this known by anyone, not even Madi. And being in such close physical proximity to Flint ratchets those thoughts up further, in ways he'd rather not consider. So he expends what's left of his energy, as he lays in the cradle of Flint's thighs after they're both thoroughly spent, talking of the crew, of the Maroons, of Teach and the plans for their invasion.
Until Flint raises his head, his brow furrowed but his eyes fond. "Do you have to fill every moment with…noise?"
"Noise?" Silver says, his own brow creasing. "I thought you enjoyed the sound of my voice. Or, perhaps you're about to say that you'd like to put my mouth to some - "
"Hush," Flint says, pressing one finger to Silver's lips. Silver stills. It was, admittedly, a trite line if he'd ever tried one, though Flint seems amused. "Perhaps 'noise' was an unapt descriptor."
"Unkind, you mean." Silver lets a pout ply at his mouth. Flint smiles, the calloused pad of his index finger tracing the curving contour of it, rubbing gently over the chapped skin. His captain's eyes are half-lidded and Silver can't resist darting the tip of his tongue out to probe at Flint's finger.
Flint tastes, of course, like the sea.
"You are a gifted elocutionist, and you know how I enjoy that," - Silver scrambles forward a little, trying to chase Flint's own lips, pressing him back against the cot, but his captain chuckles and keeps him at arm's length - "but I believe it has been written that there is 'a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.' Don't you agree?"
"Madi doesn't mind," he protests, though it's unfair - he'd swore, when he and she and he and him started this, that he wouldn't make such comparisons.
Fortunately, Flint scoffs. And lifts an eyebrow.
"Have you asked her?"
"I don't need to," Silver says, with false bravado, which is likely useless as far as his captain is concerned. Maybe he ought to - ought to ask her if it's not just something she tolerates for the sake of having him in her bed; or if having him in her bed is something she tolerates for -
"Where are you?"
Flint is propped up on his elbow again, regarding him eyes so wide and green as to drown the sea.
"I thought you wanted me quiet," Silver says.
"No," Flint says, carding warm fingers through Silver's thick curls, "I want you here. With me."
At peace, just for a moment.
Silver swallows, resting his cheek against the hard but giving plains of Flint's chest as his captain reclines beneath him. All he sees is pale freckled skin, dappled with a handful of small white scars, forested in soft copper-gold hair. He breathes deep, as Flint's arms draw around him.
It's not the sex he craves. In a heated moment, yes, he desires, but the lust of the flesh is easily satisfied. It's - and he admits this to himself - the intimacy that comes after. The unguarded moments.
He feels safe with them.
They're in the governor's mansion in Nassau. In the governor's bed. John Silver is held between two pairs of strong arms, and finds that he doesn't need to say anything at all.