“You kicked me," Silver repeated. Dooley answered with a look like he either didn't understand the accusation or no longer understood English.
"Last night, you kicked me in your sleep," Silver clarified. "Do you do that kind of thing a lot?"
Sharing tents with the men was the worst part of spending nights on the beach between loading supplies. In the village, Madi would always allow him to share her bed even if just to sleep in it, but on the sand he was shit out of luck.
Dooley shrugged, not seeming to have an answer. Silver looked down at his leg, or lack there-of. Somehow amidst a fit of jerking about, Dooley's heel had jammed itself straight into the still healing end of it, left him sore as hell until well into the morning and unable to sleep.
Nevermind the snoring and slapping of hands, some of the men trying to spoon or cradle him at times. It was a nightmare.
Grudgingly, Silver picked up his boot from the rock beside him and started to roll up his pant-leg.
"Bad night?" Flint's voice came from behind him, and Silver looked over his shoulder with some surprise, wondering how long he'd been there.
Silver scoffed "The sooner we get this stuff loaded the better," he said. "I've about had my fill of getting pummeled in my sleep in overfilled tents. Tonight, I'll sleep outside."
"Looks like light rain tonight," Flint informed, “if those clouds have anything to say about it.” He gestured toward the sea. Silver looked up, squinted, and there they were. Grey and angry and according to Flint, whose judgement with navigating weather patterns Silver didn’t question, headed this way.
"Fuck." Silver threw the boot just as he was about to line it up to pull it on. If he were any other man he could spend three hours or so walking inland to Madi each night and return early in the morning. But for him it would take closer to five hours and that simply wasn't doable.
"There's room for one more in my tent," Flint said. "You'd be under the desk but I've been told I sleep soundly."
Silver looked back at him. "Jesus," he grabbed the boot by its strap and dragged it back up to him. "Wish I'd known that two days ago."
“Well, you're welcome to join me from now on.”
“You don’t worry about how it will look?” Silver said. “The captain favoring me over the other men by offering me better sleeping quarters?”
“I’ve never worried about that,” there was some humor in Flint’s tone. “You’re the one that worries about that.”
Silver smiled wryly as he buckled the boot around his thigh and tightened the strap.
“Well at the risk of going another night without sleeping at all, I’m sure I’ll take you up on that.”
Flint just shot him a smile, nodded, and then turned and walked away. Silver wondered shortly why he’d appeared in the first place, then assumed it wasn’t just to eavesdrop and then comment on his mood. But he didn’t dwell, and finished securing his boot before standing to help the others.
Flint and a few others were heading inland to pick up some more supplies that had been procured. It was no wonder Silver wasn’t invited, but Flint did have the thought to let him know they were going, and ask if he wanted anything specific.
Silver said no, but waved him off with a “Say hello to Madi for me.”Flint hadn’t taken him very seriously. Madi was likely a busy woman, especially now, rallying her men and arranging the necessary supplies. He wouldn’t pull her away just for a hello that wasn’t directly from the man she preferred to see.
But, just as they were wrapping things up at the edge of the lake, there she was, and looking right at him. As the men continued to seal the crates and prepare them to be carried to the beach, he stepped off to approach her.
“Everything on schedule?” He asked.
“Ahead of,” Madi nodded. “And for you?”
“Likewise,” Flint said. “No problems on our end, and we’re making good time.”
“There’s going to be rain late tonight,” Madi commented. “Will you be returning before dark?”
“Not likely. Once we get these down there there’s plenty of back and forth loading to do,” he said. “Mr. Silver insists that the men not be overworked. We have enough time and he wants them somewhat rested for the battle ahead.”
Madi smiled. “He wants to allow them the luxury of rest, you mean. Whether it will effect the outcome or not.”
Flint looked to her and return the smile, nodding. “You know him well.”
“He tells me a lot of things,” Madi said. Flint looked down and away, because she way she’d looked directly at him when she said it seemed to imply he’d spoken to her of Flint himself. Which was no surprise, but still natural to wonder what he said. But he wouldn’t ask.
“Last time he told me how much he hates sleeping in crowded tents on the sand,” she continued. “I suppose he only finds room to complain because I’ve offered him another option,” she spoke without thinking, and immediately regretted her own implication, pursing her lips and looking away.
“Keep up the good work, Captain,” she said, feeling the need to flee the scene as she turned away.
“He’ll be in my tent tonight,” Flint said, needing to say something to make her feel less unnerved about what she’d suggested. It wasn’t as if he didn’t already suspect. “Plenty of space there, and he should be comfortable. So you don’t have to worry too much for his well-being.”
Madi stopped, and smiled back at him. “Careful, captain,” she said over her shoulder.
“He talks in his sleep.”
“Oh, Jesus.” When Flint had invited Silver to get away from the horrors of men who slept restlessly, he hadn’t considered Silver was one of them.
“I’m glad to hear it, though,” she continued, “maybe he’ll have less to complain about when he returns.”
“Doubt it,” Flint mumbled under his breath, with some humor. Madi smiled, amused, and then turned to leave him one last time, and Flint turned back to the boats.
Silver made use of himself moving smaller crates that one man could handle alone. There were few of them, but his presence alone was an assist in all of the men’s duties, and they did what he said. Flint watched him sometimes. Often, in fact. Watched as men approached him with information, eagerly awaited his responses, and then promptly left to follow his suggestions.
The conversation they’d had the night before the battle hadn’t left him. A lot of thoughts brought on by it it lingered but the one he hearkened to now was Silver’s insistence that he was both feared, and adored by the crew. He seemed correct, though Flint would argue it was more the latter.
On top of being the most trusted among the maroons, and his personal relationship with their force’s commander, Silver was more valuable than Flint could have ever imagined.
He was irreplaceable as an asset, but he was more than that. That very fact could just as easily have been a burden for Flint. It could have been someone he didn’t trust any further than he could throw, like another Billy.
But instead John Silver, his friend, was the piece holding everything together.
Silver’s gaze met with his and they shared a look for just a few moments before Silver smiled at him. Strands of his hair got swept up with the wind as he raised a hand from his crutch to wave. Flint’s eyes flicked away and he shifted his weight before he started over to him.
“We remain ahead of schedule, and should have the current load secured within the hour,” Silver spoke as he approached. “Good timing, too. That rain seems about to come down.”
Flint hummed, “the men would work through the rain.”
“Now they won’t have to,” Silver said, seemingly pleased, and Flint shook his head, smiling and thinking that Silver would probably never know how to not care in the oddest ways. Flint may have welcomed him into the darkness but there was a light somewhere in there that he wasn’t sure he could touch if he wanted to.
“You’re staying in my tent, right?” Flint asked. Silver nodded.
“Thursday should be the last day for non-perishables, and we’ll head inland the day after,” Flint flicked his head toward the tent. It was pitched a little further away from the others and looked like someone had put more care into it as well. No doubt that was Flint himself. “Care to share a drink tonight?”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t ask,” Silver answered with a small smile. Flint returned it, and stepped around him to head for the tent.
“Madi told me your secret,” Flint said as Silver tilted the bottle back agains his lips. Some of the booze dribbled down his chin and he wiped it as he looked at Flint in wonder. He didn’t know of any secrets.
“That we’re fucking?” He offered, completely confused as to what else it could be. Flint laughed, eyes shifting away, and he shook his head.
“That you talk in your sleep,” he clarified.
“Damn,” Silver sighed, and raised the bottle to him. “And here I was, so close to taking advantage of your hospitality.”
Flint snorted, “and here I thought I could trust you.”
“I promise I’ll only say nice things,” Silver said. “Compliments, about your daring, your heroics, your incredible head of hair,” he went on, grinning at Flint and watching the amused smile grow on his lips in turn.
He shook his head as if he were holding back laughter, and a contagious grin spread across his face as he spoke.
“It’s all right, really. I’m used to it,” Flint rubbed his hands together with some discomfort that Silver was currently unable to place. “Miranda was an exceptionally talkative sleeper.”
Silver’s expression change and he listened, and closely. Flint brought up Miranda or Thomas occasionally, and sometimes Gates. Often he seemed reluctant, like he shouldn’t have. But Silver did his best to let him find was much comfort in it as he could. To simply remain attentive when Flint’s voice cracked, or his eyes flicked away. Flint speaking of any of them, especially Thomas, felt like he was opening a door he rarely let himself touch the handle of, full of things he wasn’t sure he could face. Silver was obliged to be a part of what allowed him to do that.
“Incoherent things, mostly, but sometimes sentences. Thomas told me he’d wake up to her scolding or shouting at people, though I mostly heard bouts of sarcastic politeness,” Flint started fidgeting with his knuckles at the feeling of the name on his tongue, eyes locked on them.
“You seem like you sleep like the dead in comparison,” Silver commented. He’d hardly ever seen Flint so much as move in his sleep, let alone speak.
“That’s what I’ve heard,” Flint agreed. “Thomas would always make the comparison on nights where it seemed she was scolding me in her sleep while I was just lying there.”
Silver laughed gently, and ever bit of it was genuine, including the warm smile that followed. It seemed to be getting easier and easier for Flint to talk about the two of them and the positive memories he had.
“I’ve been told mine’s mostly mumbling and repeating things,” Silver said, smiling and keeping the mood casual. “Also random cursing without context.”
He was glad when Flint met his eyes. “I’m surprised I didn’t hear it the time you stayed in my cabin during your recovery.”
“Maybe too much dope?” Silver offered. “A woman I slept with once told me I spent hours calling out for a Lucille. She was offended in the morning because she assumed Lucille was my wife or another lover. Never did get a chance to explain I was dreaming about chasing a rabbit by that name.”
Flint snorted. “That’s the sort of dream a dog has.”
“How would you know? Do you know a dog?”
Flint laughed and took his point, pouring more rum into his glass and shaking his head. “Not personally, no.”
The night went on fairly late as one conversation lead to another and the two exchanged stories like they so often did. Silver embellished and invented some stories, if only because he wanted Flint to keep telling his. He had so many, and many of them referred to a certain, short amount of time he spent in London. Silver loved hearing about bits and pieces from that time once Flint opened up to it. It was the way his voice sounded, and the look on his face when he spoke of them. It was different from any Flint Silver had ever seen. This Flint was softer, and he felt especially warm even with the hint of sadness.
When they finally decided to call it a night, Silver was sure they’d both had too much to drink. More than they usually did, but they were still laughing about little things as they found their way under the sheet. Silver lay half under the desk, Flint in his usual space about a foot away. He could already feel himself on the verge of getting a much better night’s sleep than he had in the past four days.
He was out before he knew it, dozing off to the sound of Flint shuffling around to put out the candle and settle in.
Silver came out of sleep slowly. Warm, almost too comfortable to even consider moving, and at what appeared to be the crack of dawn. In the first few moments since opening his eyes, he almost forgot where he was. He was even sure he could feel Madi’s arm thrown over his side, her breath on the back of his neck—
The arm wasn’t an illusion, nor the breath, but neither of them belonged to Madi. He tensed at the feel of rough whiskers against the crook of his neck, the realization that the body he’d fallen asleep a good foot away from was now all but pressed against his back.
He didn’t know why he didn’t move, beyond his lingering state of morning fatigue. If he woke Flint up like this, he’d certainly move away. Obviously he hadn’t done anything on purpose and there was no fault in it. They’d think nothing of it and start the day as usual. His half-alert eyes moved lazily down to where the thickly ginger-haired arm was loosely thrown over his waist.
Then again, it would likely be a few hours before the night watch began to wake everyone.
Silver closed his eyes. He was tired still, likely mildly hungover. With the drink still lightly hanging around in his system, it made it hard to stir the morning into starting early. Flint being so close to him was a different way to start the day but it was warm, maybe a little right, and the arm thrown over his waist made it even more work to get up.
He relaxed, shifted his weight to settle himself, and opted to sleep a little longer.
What he didn’t count on was sleeping-Flint feeling him shift and feeling the need to shift as well, tightening his loose hold around Silver’s waist to the point where his hand pressed lazily against his stomach, and rubbed it idly through his shirt. A sleepy sigh floated over the side of Silver’s neck.
Silver froze stiff, now wide awake. For a split second he thought Flint was awake and mistaking him for someone else. Thomas Hamilton, Miranda Barlow— names flashed through his mind and he almost jerked away, the very thought given the circumstances felt like an unforgivable intrusion. But he couldn’t do much more than remain still. If Flint was awake, he’d realize the mistake soon and pull his hand away and it would be much less awkward than Silver springing from his touch like he was on fire.
Then came a wheeze directly behind Silver ear, soft, almost a snore but not quite— it confirmed Flint was in fact, still asleep.
Decidedly, Silver took a deep breath, “Captain,” he muttered, not loud enough, he knew. He started to roll over. “Captain,” he repeated louder, looking back over his shoulder. He couldn’t see much, but after a moment Flint sucked in a sharp breath, sounding surprised. Silver knew he’d awoken.
He was silent for a few moments as the arm around his waist was pulled away. It was done casually, probably to rub his eye or scratch his head.
“Fuck,” Came a disgruntled voice. He was probably only just realizing where he was, and where he was not. Who he was with, and who wasn’t here.
Silver felt strange, still frozen, still stuck in the place he was ten seconds ago. But he knew he had to say something. He and Flint had done awkward. They’d done not understanding, not caring to understand, not caring at all. He’d long since wanted them to be past all that.
“Sorry,” he said, lifting his head to look back at Flint. “You were sort of holding me.”
Flint was rubbing his eye with his palm, and let out a snort with an ironic smile. “Apologies. I noticed.”
“When we discussed this arrangement you failed to warn me that you were cuddly,” Silver commented, feeling better about the whole thing at the sight of Flint’s smile.
It disappeared and was replaced with a scowl and one glaring eye that wasn’t being rubbed at with his palm. “Please,” he said, “don’t call me cuddly.”
Silver laughed as he relaxed against the pillow, one arm moving behind his head. “All right. There was no cuddling,” he ceded. “What’s on the agenda for today?”
Flint pushed the blanket aside, and jammed his fingers and thumb against his eyelids as he continued to rub. “Aside from the hangover it’s hard to complain about an early start,” he said. “Any chance you’ll help me wake the men ahead of schedule?”
“You could do that,” Silver said, shrugging. “Or, you could lie here a little longer. I’ll bring you fresh water and they can sleep until that hangover goes away.”
Flint sighed heavily. A moment later he’d lain his head back on the pillow.
“Water then.” He said, gruffly and quite clearly making himself comfortable. Silver grinned victoriously and used the desk to help upright himself.He stepped out of the tent and paused just beyond it, looking out at the camp, the other tents, the men on watch down the beach, the crates that were yet to be loaded. He looked at all they’d prepared, reminded himself what it was for, and breathed it in before continuing out. An hour or so of peace before it all started again could make it all worthwhile.
He returned with a pitcher in one hand and a crust of bread in the other. Flint wasn’t expecting the latter but he was a mixture of happy and surprised to see it. Silver handed him the bread and Flint took it with a nod of thanks, and then Silver turned to pour water into two glasses.They shared silence together for some moments before Flint spoke up.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” he said. Possibilities raced through Silver’s head as he looked up from his glass in askance.
“Later, after everything’s squared away and it’s left up to the men…” Flint started. “Would you join me up on that hill by the north beach?”
A smile tugged at the corner of Silver’s mouth. “Dragging me off somewhere to take care of me out of sight?” He offered.
Flint returned the smile if only for a fraction of a moment, then looked down. “Something like that.”
Flint’s little get-together had been with a mind to teach him to fight— or to fight better, among other things. He’d also found or had made for him a crutch, but outside of their meetings on the hill Silver continued to prefer his boot. Being with Flint on that hill made things easier, and harder. It made everything they were doing feel far away, even as he trained to ensure their success. Somehow it managed to feel less like training by way of Flint’s presence alone and Silver didn’t know for certain what to make of that.
But on the beach it was directing men to ready the Walrus for the assault. There was no illusion about it here.
Silver didn't do a lot of hands-off work, even now. He was encouraged by Flint and the men alike to take on the role of overseer, but he never took the advice.
Flint wasn't surprised when he walked away from his charts to find Silver helping to haul a crate out to one of the longboats.
He was stumbling over his footing. Only on occasion, and only subtly, but Flint had seen him in action enough to recognize how hard he was working to make sure no one noticed how hard of a time he was having in the sand.
Flint understood why he insisted on standing beside them, to maintain the fact in their minds that he still could. But he also knew it wouldn't be long before they'd have to get him off that boot. To make the transition from a man pretending not to be missing a leg to one who unashamedly is, and is no worse for it. Silver was still resisting that transition.
Flint fell in behind Silver and picked up some of the slack on the crate they were hauling. Silver walked a whole five steps with Flint behind him before he either sensed him, or just happened to look back.
"Fancy meeting you here," Silver said as they walked.
"Yeah," Flint replied. "You know, I'm sure the men would just as easily accept you overseeing things while I did this."
Silver huffed, "what's to oversee? These men know what they're doing better than I do. A portion of them, anyway.”
"Besides, don't you have charts to course and weather patterns to predict?"
"I already have our course, and you can't make good guesses on weather this early."
"I see. So here we are," They'd made it to the longboat and propped the crate up at the front so the other men could drag it in.
"Make sure that and two men are all that goes in this boat. Wouldn't want it to sink."
Silver wouldn't have known to make that call-- another reason an overseeing position wasn't ideal for him. He nodded to the other men to make sure they'd heard, and they confirmed.
From there he started walking up the beach alongside Flint in the direction of the other crates. Flint stopped half-way there, and Silver noticed and stopped to, turning in askance.
“I wanted to take a boat back to the Walrus to retrieve a few things from my cabin before we move inland,” Flint said. “It’d make sense to go with a boatload of supplies to unload myself, and save the men a trip.”
Silver simply stood there as he spoke, as if waiting for the reason Flint was telling him this. “Care to join me?” He offered. “I’ll need a second pair of hands.”
“Is this just your plan to get me to stop carrying heavy boxes through the sand?” Silver accused.
Flint thought about it, unsure, and then decided that yes, it was partially that, and nodded.
“Sounds good to me,” Silver said, grinning and making his way back toward the loaded boats. Flint smiled with some humor back and followed after him.
They’d unloaded their longboat into the hold, made some observations on the space they had left, walked the undercroft of the ship for reasons Silver wasn’t certain of, but he assumed Flint was considering using other rooms for more supplies. Somewhere along the way Silver had been pulled aside by one of the men about some water-logged crates whose bottoms were falling apart, and Flint had slinked off.
After observing them and deciding they needed to be repackaged, Silver wasn’t surprised to find Flint in his cabin. After all he’d said the reason the rowed out here was to pick up a few things, and that’s where his things were. Flint had his back turned when Silver approached, he must’ve been deep in thought because there was no way Flint didn’t hear him coming.
“Looking for a new bedtime story?” Silver’s voice came from the doorway. Flint’s hand hesitated on the spines of the books in his display, and then he looked over his shoulder.
“Suppose I am,” he said idly, then turned back and pulled one down.
“Anything good?” Silver approached him, curious eyes on the book he’d chosen. Flint had opened the book to a place near the back, and he didn’t answer Silver at first. Curious, Silver stepped up behind him, looking over his shoulder. The words were too small to read, so he stepped a little closer, and leaned in to see if he could catch a familiar title or name. He didn’t read quite as much as Flint, however, so he wasn’t surprised when nothing rang a bell.
Flint tensed suddenly and turned his head, eyes locking with Silver’s, his face only inches away. He opened his mouth as if to speak, and Silver’s eyes fell to his lips perhaps awaiting his words, and in the very same moment Flint froze.
Too many seconds passed and Silver’s eyes slowly moved back up to Flint’s. Flint’s were pointed at something lower as he released a shaky breath that made Silver’s jaw drop just slightly in realization and then—
—the book snapped shut, and there was suddenly a good foot and a half between them. “An old favorite.” Flint muttered, and he looked down at the book with too much interest as he stroked the spine thoughtfully— or nervously, with his thumb.
“Well…” he then said. “…An old favorite of Miranda’s.” He remembered now that he found it significantly less interesting than she had, but when he’d picked it up he somehow felt as if it had been something he cherished.
Now, he thought, it was.
“This will do,” He raised the book to show Silver he’d gotten what he’d come for. He then grabbed a sack from the desk that was at a guess, full of other items he’d gathered to bring back to camp. Without noticing the state in which he’d left his quartermaster, he was gone.
The boat ride back had been uneventful on account of Flint having delved into his book as Silver and a third man rowed quietly. Once they arrived on the beach the other longboats had all been loaded, and it only took an hour or so more for their contents to be transferred. By then it was dark, and Flint had retreated to his tent without Silver noticing.
As tiredness crept up on him, Silver considered approaching Flint to sleep alongside him and avoid conflict with the men’s habits again, but he noticed as it got later and later that the lantern remained lit in Flint’s tent. It was likely he’d be up reading for quite a while, and Silver didn’t want to disturb him.
An hour or so after deciding to retire, Silver lay awake at the far end of the shared tent. It was preferable to get an end spot, and the first night he’d managed to since they’d ended up out here. Since Joji won't sleep next to Ben and Matheson will throw a childlike fit if he isn't on the farthest end of Mason’s snoring, it’s hard to secure that spot.But Matheson stayed inland that night so here he was, lying awake, distancing himself from Joji who lay next to him fairly still, the only noise or movement in the tent was a snore a few bodies down. He could have fallen asleep. After all the ridiculous things he’d trained himself to sleep through, it would have been easy.
That is, if it weren’t for all of the thoughts swimming about in his head.
He lay still, on his back, eyes drifting across the tent sheet above him as it moved softly under the pull of the wind. The splinters of the wood that held it, the stains from who knows what that he preferred not to guess on. He turned on his side restlessly, shutting his eyes tightly as if it would do him any good. He took a deep breath, and then they were wide open again.
He rolled onto his back once more, turning his head to look down the line of his crew sleeping soundly.
He sat up.
He looked out at the moonlit sea through the space between the tent flap. He looked down at his foot and the void next to it at the end of the sprawl underneath the thin, shared blanket.
He threw the blanket off himself, and reached for his boot.
Flint tensed at the sound of footsteps outside coming so close to his tent. If one of the men were taking a piss, they would have gone the other way, so what—
He relaxed when Silver’s head appeared beyond the flap, and their eyes met. Flint was lying down with the book in hand, looking half-awake, but the candle was still lit.
“Can I sleep here?” Silver asked, voice a little breathy.
He nodded, and set the book down above the pillow. He scooted himself away from the desk a bit to make space for Silver to get underneath it. He left more than enough space, but Silver didn’t take advantage. He hit his knee at the end of the sprawl before he removed his only half-strapped boot, and set it aside. He then crawled up, lying down directly beside Flint on his back. He stayed there, appearing to have no intention of distancing himself like he had the night before.It was a little cramped but there was still room, so Flint had no complaints. He turned over to face the other way. He could still feel the heat of Silver’s body close to him, now at his back, and it was hard to ignore. Silver had been hardly sleeping for days, so he’d accept it as long as he got his much needed peace.
Deciding he’d done enough reading for one night and that Silver could use the light’s-out, he sat up and put out the lantern, then settled back. Moments past in which he found himself more than content to fall asleep to the sound of the waves in the distance and Silver’s soft breath behind him. His eyes opened slowly when he realized that Silver’s breathing was coming a little to fast and hard for a man on the verge of falling asleep.
As if on cue, hand fell upon his shoulder. A gentle touch, but it squeezed and then pulled as if asking for something. No words came with it, so Flint started to roll his body back over. He made it halfway before he was met with the reflection of moonlight on Silver’s eyes in the dark. Silver was on his side, elbow underneath his head, incredibly close, merely inches from his nose. Flint found it hard not to look straight back into his eyes, part of him wondering if Silver could even tell he was staring straight back in the dark.
Flint could see the edge of Silver’s mouth stretch into a smile, and Flint was confused but felt compelled to return it.
Then the smile disappeared, and Silver leaned in.
It was short. Their noses bumped, Flint felt the scratching of his beard and the full of his lips as he closed them against Flint’s mouth. They pulled away after only a few moments, and Flint didn’t realize he’d shut his eyes until he was opening them in time to see Silver open his and look back at him.
Flint’s breath was coming double-time and his eyes, well-adjusted to the moonlight, roamed Silver’s face— his eyes, his neck. He swallowed hard.
Silver leaned in again. This time Flint met him, making the kiss his own. He moved his mouth slowly, forced a less panicked pace because Silver was shaking with need. But Flint was moving in slow motion, savoring every movement, drawing them out, giving special attention to the touches that Silver relaxed under.
Silver’s body came seconds after his mouth, hands and arms pulling it closer as he pushed his lips into Flint’s again and again. Little moans, breath lined with a soft sigh as he intruded on every inch of Flint’s space, hands grasping onto anything they could find but moving quickly from place to place as if he had to have all of it in the same moment.
Flint gave him what he wanted as best he could, and rolled Silver over, breath coming in short, shaky huffs as he shifted himself on top of him. Their chests pressing against one-another as his hands couldn’t be bothered to hold him up while he was holding Silver’s face and sliding his tongue along the crease of his lips. Silver’s mouth fell open with a breathy moan and Flint’s tongue had breached his teeth before he was even sure he told it to.
Silver was warm and wet and welcoming and Flint was lost in it before he had time to remember how long it had been since he’d had his tongue in another man’s mouth, or since he’d felt anything like this at all.
Coherency returned along with some surprise as Silver’s hands slid down to grip Flint’s waist. His hips arched and rubbed against Flint’s stomach, the move accompanied by the distinct feeling of something hard pressed up against him.
Flint had to pause, lifting his head to look at Silver’s wide eyes that stared dumbfounded back at him, breath heaving.
“Captain…” Silver’s exhale sounded like begging, and Flint crushed his lips back down against his, allowing his hands to drag roughly down his sides and allowing himself to get lost in the feeling of this and declining to take time to wonder what it meant.
Silver opened his eyes to daylight and the sounds of the island’s birds, which had grown familiar to him.
He was on his back next to the legs of Flint’s desk. He could feel his trousers pulled midway down his thighs. He remembered Flint’s kiss, his chest pressing down against him, his hand around his…
There was a cool, and which he touched it— sticky substance smeared on his unclothed upper thigh under the sheet. A second spent wondering who it belonged to before he shook the thought away almost in a panic, and turned his head.
He half expected to be alone. But there was Flint, back facing him, unmoving and appearing to still be asleep. The sheet was on him, but it was pulled down to his waist, and he was shirtless. Silver remembered tearing his shirt over his head and throwing it aside, letting his hands wonder the expanse of his body under nothing but the moonlight.
Silver remembered kissing him. He remembered lying awake, unable to think of anything else and crossing the darkness to reach his tent and losing himself in the feel of him. He remembered getting his hands in Flint’s trousers and hearing the sounds he made while so eagerly at his mercy. Watching and feeling his body let itself weaken and nearly collapse on top of him under his hands.
He remembered his rough, hot palm against and wrapped around his cock and he remembered being so exhausted that he’d passed out without any memory beyond spilling hard in Flint’s hand, breathing him in and masking a cry with his nose and mouth pressed into his shoulder.
He hadn’t yet considered the difference between it being a one-time itch that needed scratching or something continuous. But lying there, eyes raking over the freckles on Flint’s back and shoulders, the urge to touch and hold him was overwhelming.But any one of the men could walk in at any second, so he shouldn’t.
He settled for placing a hand softly against Flint’s shoulder, and slowly dragged it down his side until his last two fingers disappeared under the sheet, and he stopped. It was warm there, under the cover and against Flint’s skin. Silver’s breath picked at the urge to kiss the expanse of the other man’s back as he let his hand slip down a little further.
When Flint shifted, Silver battled with the urge to remove the hand. They hadn’t spoken yet— not about any of this. It had been almost entirely non-verbal side a few moans, and he wasn’t sure what he was going to say.
He didn’t move his hand, thinking, perhaps, that leaving it there could say a lot.
Flint began to roll onto his back, and Silver’s hand adapted, moving meaningfully across his hip to rest on his lower stomach, his pinky underneath the hem of Flint’s unclasped trousers.
Flint looked at him, eyes filled with questions Silver knew he was going to have a hard time answering.
“Captain!” The voice came from just outside the tent and was followed in no time at all by the sound of the tent flap being pushed aside.
Silver had removed his hand at the sound of the voice, but it was somewhat pointless. They were both lying there on the same sprawl, shirtless and only inches away from each other.
“Rackham’s back.” It was Dooley. Silver looked back at him as Flint moved to stand up, and watched Dooley’s eyes roam the scene before him, watched his expression reveal an understanding of exactly what had happened. He looked at Silver and nodded, just barely, like he was agreeing to terms Silver hadn’t set yet. Something about the look on his face assured Silver he wasn’t going to go around spreading rumors about this.
“He wanted me to give you this,” Dooley stepped half-way into the tent, holding out a folded piece of paper, eyes having trouble deciding where to look as Flint turned around to face him. “It’s a list of all the supplies they got. He wants to meet to discuss how to divide them.”
“Right now?” Flint asked.
“They’re unloading most of it onto the beach at the moment, but he seemed to expect you soon.”
Flint nodded him off, and Dooley nodded back. He paused before leaving, though, eyes shifting between them and then down to the ground before he exited. A long period of silence occurred before Flint finally spoke.
“Well…” he said, eyes fixed on the list Dooley had given him. “I suppose this means a few more days on the sand for some of us, but we still need a group to ready the food and water from inland to be brought down,” he then looked at Silver. “I’ll stay here if you’d like to take a group of men to handle that.”
Silver opened his mouth, closed it, looked away, swallowed hard. A million thoughts were swimming through his head, the most prominent one being that this Flint, War-preparation-focused Flint, had no interest in hearing any of the others.
Finally, he nodded. “Of course,” he agreed to the suggestion, and that was that. Flint left him— not coldly, but with a hand on his shoulder as he passed by and then disappeared. Silver stayed back for a few moments, stuck on the fact that last night happened and now he wouldn’t be seeing Flint again for days.
On the other hand, he had to talk to Madi.
Despite a lack of experience Silver lived by the idea that relationships were typically exclusive unless explicitly established as otherwise. But it went without saying that his relationship with Madi thus far had been in some ways merely a haphazard testing of the water. That was likely the reason she hadn’t come to mind when Silver had approached Flint, but it didn’t stop him from feeling like he may have betrayed an unspoken trust with her.
Telling her about Flint was something he felt he had to do, and perhaps even an apology was warranted. But through doing so there may have also been a chance to cement the nature of their own relationship.
But did that remove the possibility of anything more becoming of he and Flint? It was uncomfortable to think about, especially with the way Flint sent him off in the morning without a word exchanged on the subject. Silver had no way of knowing how he would feel when he saw Flint again now that that door had been opened. All hew knew was that right now, he missed him for a million reasons and had an overwhelming need to see him sooner than his duties would permit.
He didn’t mention it when they met to catch up on each other’s progress, nor when she kissed him by their makeshift war table after introducing a new idea for a plausible tactic from one of her men. He had to get the work to be done out of the way first, and he couldn’t fathom that she wouldn’t understand that. Both she and Flint did and likely would always put this war before anything else. She would agree that it could wait.
So night came, and he met her in her room as he usually did now without need for invitation. She embraced him with a smile and a caress of his face, and he couldn’t return either.
“Is something wrong?” She asked, almost immediately.
“There’s something we have to discuss.”
He chose not to be specific about what had happened, only that enough had happened and he’d instigated it. Revealing it to her was more difficult than he expected, not because of who she was to him but because of how quickly he was realizing who Flint was to him. Telling her he’d gone to bed with Flint quickly threatened to become telling her he had real feelings for Flint— whatever the hell that meant, and that had twice the repercussions.
Madi stayed silent, and listened. It didn’t take long to get out considering he didn’t say more than he needed to. When he was finished, she still didn’t speak. Not at least, for a few moments as he stood there, feeling like he might implode.
“Are you telling me this because you feel you’ve violated a romantic agreement between us and you wish to apologize?” She finally spoke, “or are you telling me as a friend in need of advice?”
Silver wanted to say it was the first one because he was certain that if he were a better man that’s what it should have been.
“Both,” was what he muttered in reply, and it was the truth.
Madi sighed. “Given that we’ve never established any ground rules or… any details as to what we are to each other, I don’t feel I should be angry with you,” she said. “More than that I simply don’t feel angry, if it eases your mind.”
Silver shifted his weight nervously. “Have you…” he started, delicately. “…been with others, since we…”
Madi shook her head. “No, not since we…” she trailed off the same way he did, mocking him through a small smile. “Though were there a person I had a complicated history with whom I had newly realized feelings toward and the opportunity arose, I may have.”
Silver felt a sense of relief wash over him, and on top of everything else he was feeling he could feel himself falling harder for her. Choosing between them would be difficult, if not completely out of the question.
“Let me be clear in that I want to be more to you than a friend, John Silver,” she said. “But I would not be opposed to not being the only one who is more to you than that.”
Now it was Silver’s turn to listen attentively, even as her words lit up his eyes.
“But in the future I expect to be approached before anything between you happens, were you to develop feelings for yet another party,” she looked at him pointedly, and Silver sputtered a laugh.
“Believe me, I don’t at all expect that to happen. I don’t actually do this sort of thing often. Or… ever.”
She replied with a nod, seeming to accept this. Silver then stepped forward.
“You said we’re yet to establish details or ground rules for what we are…” Silver started. “…I’d also like to be more than a friend to you, so I think we should discuss that further.”
Establishing the nature, limits, and freedoms of their relationship didn’t take long. Madi seemed content to compromise and Silver seemed uncertain of what he truly wanted beyond confessing he was enamored of her. Moreover Madi seemed to sway interest very quickly from talk of their own relationship to talk of Silver’s with Flint.First she seemed concerned— referenced all of the the mistrusting, uncertain things Silver had shared with her about how he saw Flint, about the man Flint was to those around him. But it was becoming clear to Silver that Madi was developing a fondness for Flint, if only because of their shared ambition. She took his explanation of his change of heart quite willingly. This quickly moved to her teasingly prying about how long Silver had felt this way, how Flint reacted, what he was going to say when they saw each other again.Kissing and holding her at the end of the night until they fell asleep made all of the conflict seem far away. It made facing Flint seem easy.And then Flint was right there.Silver had approached him at the dock like it was the easiest thing in the world, and Flint had smiled at him like he always did. He exchanged some words with the men that would be going back across the lake, and then turned back to Silver.
“Walk with me,” he said, and Silver nodded with pure complacency and some nervousness as he walked after him.
Flint told him about the weapons and supplies Rackham and Teach were able to procure, complained about how irritating Teach was during arguments about small changes in strategies. Silver listened and stored all of it for safe-keeping, but he would have listened better if he weren’t becoming aware of how the route Flint chose to walk was bringing them to less and less populated areas of the camp.
There were no rooms considerably private for either of them at the maroon’s camp, but they’d found plenty of opportunities to talk out of earshot in the past. Flint leading them to a place that wasn’t just out of earshot, but out of sight, couldn’t have been an accident.
“How’s everything on your end?” Flint had asked.
“A good number of fruits and vegetables won’t be ripe for a few days but that’s all according to schedule. That which is and can be made to last is being loaded as we speak,” Silver said. “Though, if I’m honest, Madi had it under control. I don’t think I really needed to be here.”
“The men like having their quartermaster around at very least when they’ll be taking orders from outside parties. I wouldn’t have expected you to do much more than keep them civilized.”
Silver opened his mouth but found no argument, and simply nodded, and swallowed at his own mistake in questioning what he should have already understood. What he would have, were his mind not so clouded.
“Madi…” Flint said, and his tone changed. He had that softened voice, the one Silver wanted to describe as the man he was when he wasn’t Flint. When he was, for the briefest of conversations, just a man. “…How are things between you?”
Silver wasn’t looking at Flint as they walked but he wished he was. Then he stopped, between two huts with no one in sight and Silver stopped too.
“Things are fine, of course.” He said as he turned his body to face Flint.
A heavy silence fell between them and Silver was merely itching for it to end. Suddenly he didn’t want to confront any of this. Suddenly he just wanted to keep walking and go fight a war until someone ran a sword through him and—
“Why did you kiss me?” Flint asked, and Silver’s body went rigid.
More silence, more passing minutes only this time Silver was just sorting through his own thoughts, looking for an answer. Flint waited for the answer there with so much patience, Silver was sure he wouldn’t lose it until the world fell out from under his feet.
Finally, Silver opened his mouth, and at first nothing came out until he strained himself to speak. “What have we been doing all this time?” He finally said, voice cracking slightly.
Flint tilted his head to one side. “What?” He asked, gently still, and Silver was having a hard time dealing with that— with this. Gentle, tentative Flint, shooting him those genuine smiles that made his heart beat faster. Spending evening hours teaching him swordplay and making small talk, appearing so content it was easy for Silver to forget he had bigger things to be focusing on.
Silver cracked a smile, looked away, laughed with some nervousness at Flint’s obvious state of confusion. He breathed in deep. “I did a lot more than kiss you,” he said. “Well— maybe not a lot more, less than I wanted to, but—,” He shrugged, cutting the sentence short.
Flint’s demeanor had changed, ever so slightly, but the most prominent change was the ever so slight inch forward of his left foot toward Silver. Silver failed to stop his eyes from zeroing in on the movement, which caused Flint to retreat back if only slightly.
Silver raised his eyes to Flint’s and Flint’s fingers twitched at the single strand of curly hair that fell just out of place in front of his ear. Touch it, brush it aside, push it back…
Child-like laughter rang out through the small space and a young girl chased a smaller boy between them, paying it no mind when she bumped Silver slightly backwards. The two of them stayed still for a few moments, before shouting of two names could be heard from a woman. Presumably a mother calling after her kids.
“I should see the Queen,” Flint said, the calling voice getting louder, and Silver nodded. They were walking again, and they didn’t say a word.
Flint found Madi quickly, who explained her mother was currently detained, after which he saw fit to share updates with her instead. She took in the information with little to say in reply, though remained attentive and thanked him in the end.After that she looked to Silver, then back to Flint, opened her mouth as if to speak only to simply close it again, and then with far too little subtlety, left the room. Flint had watched all of these movements as if they were a language he understood.
Seconds passed before he spoke.
“You did tell her.”
“Of course I did,” Silver said a little roughly.
“What did you tell her?” Flint asked, looking him in the eye again which made Silver release a huff of a sigh. He was tired of stalking around the maroon camp with this thing between them eating away at them.
“I told her what happened, what I did,” Silver said, simply. “What we did…” The memory started to make saying these things slightly less simple.
“Was she upset?” Flint seemed genuinely concerned.
“Did you tell her it wouldn’t happen again?” Flint asked, and that sounded more like a challenge, one that Silver rose to with almost too much aggression as his boot thudded against the floor with a step toward Flint.
“I told her it absolutely would,” he said, accompanied by a shrug, and watched Flint go speechless. He almost smiled, relishing that taken aback look on Flint’s face before both of their feelings were interrupted once again.
“She’ll see you now,” Kofi said, tone plain. Flint seemed to jump at the chance to follow him out of this conversation, and Silver trailed with some reluctance.
The remainder of the day slid by painfully slow. Much of it was spent walking back to the beach with a group of other men. Silver walked alongside Flint— resisting the urge to use his shoulder for support and help with keeping up, which seemed to be earning him some concerned glances from Flint. But neither of them spoke.
When they arrived back at the beach they parted ways by way of Rackham approaching once again, and Silver found himself disappointed the moment Flint was out of sight. He hadn’t seen Flint in two days and now it was near impossible to spend a moment with him that wasn’t interrupted by… well, all of this.
Dusk came and went and Silver was still yet to see him again. After some time he chose to retire, with some distant hope of a chance at peace in the morning. They’d certainly visit that cliff one-on-one at some point, so it wasn’t as if there would never be a chance to… to what?
Since Rackham and Teach’s men had set up camp nearby a lot of the tent sharing had changed, which somehow managed to result in there being less men per tent. Silver didn’t realize he was exhausted until he’d lied down, and at that moment everything but sleep flew away from his mind.
That was, until only a few moments later, as if on cue, one flap of the tent was pushed aside and there was Flint.
Silver sat up immediately, like he hadn’t just been on the verge of passing out seconds after lying down.
Flint gestured for him to get up, and come with him with only a nod. Silver reached for his boot, but then stopped, glancing over at the men who were already asleep. Instead he shoved his hand underneath a folded, unused blanket, and pulled out his crutch.
When he exited the tent, he saw the silhouette of Flint standing beside a torch under a lone-standing tree just a few yards past where sand became grass.
He was a foot or so from the tree, hands clasped behind his back, looking up at it. Silver thought he could probably see the moon through the thin array of leaves. It was full that night, and while Flint’s back was to the torch, it was bright enough for Silver to see his face. He looked thoughtful, and even as Silver drew close, he remained still. Silver wanted to know what he was thinking. He always wanted to know. Sometimes he could venture an educated guess— that was their supposed connection after all. But right now he didn’t want to just know, just have an idea. He wanted James to tell him, to hear it from his lips or feel it in his touch.
“James,” He greeted, and the name felt soft on his lips, felt warm, felt right. Flint looked at him immediately at the sound of it, and Silver was glad to have gotten his attention. He took a few steps to the side, and leaned casually against the tree, setting his crutch against it as well.
“Good to see you using that,” Flint nodded toward the crutch.
“It’s a process,” Silver merely shrugged. Flint’s shoulders swayed as he took a few steps toward the tree, toward Silver, almost like he was trying to be subtle. Silver tried to stop the corners of his mouth from turning up into a smile.
“Not long before we set out,” Flint said as he moved a little closer, stopping directly in front of Silver, less than a foot away. “Best to make sure you’re prepared,” he gave a sharp nod.
“I’m prepared for anything,” Silver forced a smile, voice shaking a little because maybe he didn’t want to talk about Nassau. He wanted to talk about how even now, Flint was inching closer.
Flint regarded him quietly at his answer, and Silver assumed Flint knew he wasn’t talking about fighting in a war when he said he was prepared. “Good, that’s good.” Flint nodded, and he took a meaningful step forward, and now their chests were only inches apart.
By now every bone in Silver’s body was aching with anticipation. Flint’s eyes moved over Silver’s face as the light from the torch fire flicked against it.
“I wanted to apologize.” Flint said, and Silver’s eyes searched for an answer to the question what the fuck for while screaming shut up and touch me. “For sending you away that morning. That wasn’t—,”
“Do we have to talk about this?” Silver interrupted, voicing cracking with some urgency and betraying far more emotion than he would normally have liked. But that was fine because it was Flint and neglecting to hide from Flint made him feel safe and daring at the same time.
Flint didn’t continue to speak, instead just tilted his head with those soft eyes like he did.
Expressions that Silver was new to receiving, and ones he counted and stored and would never forget. He saw his hand moving to cup Flint’s cheek before he knew he’d commanded himself to raise it, and watched Flint relax against it when it touched him. Silver’s thumb touched the very edge of his bottom lip and he quivered as Flint closed his eyes and turned his head so his lips touched Silver’s palm.
He kissed it, and Silver started to breath harder. He raised his own hand and slotted their fingers together, and dipped his head to kiss his wrist. Silver’s breath was coming in short, audible huffs, “James.”
Flint looked at him, a glint from the moonlight in his eyes as he held Silver’s hand close to his lips.
“Captain,” Silver tried. Flint sucked in a breath and turned Silver’s hand over so they were palm-to-palm, entwined their fingers and pressed the back of his hand against the tree above his head. Then he took Silver’s right hand in his and did the same with it.
Silver looked at him in awe and askance, breath heaving as he waited and as Flint just looked at him under the torch and moonlight. Silver stared back at him, for the faintest of moments desperate only to know what he was looking at, what he saw, what he was looking for.And then Flint kissed him and everything was gone but the feel of his lips, the pressing of his chest against his front and his back against the tree. That night in the tent when Silver kissed him because it was the only thing he could think of doing. In the captain’s cabin when Flint nearly leaned in. Waking up in his arms before he even knew how much he wanted to.
He tilted his head sideways and pushed back against Flint’s lips, breathing in sharply through his nose. Flint released one of his hands to bring it against Silver’s face, pressing a thumb against the corner of his mouth under the kiss as Silver’s fingers clutched tightly to his sleeve.
Flint pulled back suddenly, chest heaving, breath coming hard and mingling with Silver’s until Silver bowed his head to avoid breathing straight into Flint’s face as he tried to catch his as well. It wasn’t long before he felt Flint’s lips press against his forehead, and he shut his eyes.
“You looked tired,” Flint said, his whiskers still scraping Silver’s skin, lips still ghosting over it. “When I came to get you earlier you looked tired.”
Silver laughed on a breath, and shrugged. “A lot happened today,” he admitted. He raised his head then to look at Flint’s face, which looked back at him with a small, crooked smile.
“Stay with me?”
Silver smiled back and nodded. Flint was still holding his right hand, and he kept holding it as he stepped back, allowing Silver to re-position his crutch under his arm. He turned around with his arm and hand trailing behind him, Silver holding onto the tips of his fingers as he followed Flint through the night.