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matelot just doesn’t have the same ring to it

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They went back to the Walrus in a longboat after the ceremony. Flint wanted to spend more time on some maps and Silver didn’t want to be alone, not so soon after the matelotage. After all, it was like being married, was it not? Silver figured that if they were alone on the ship they could at least consummate their union or whatever married couples did. He knew now, after the conversation they’d had in the woods, that Flint had previous experience with men, but would he agree to it now?

In no time, they were walking into the captain’s cabin. Flint settled at his desk as usual, while Silver sank on the cot with a grateful sigh – thankfully, Flint had had the good sense of substituting the damned swinging bed for one that was nailed down to the floor-boards. Silver was already removing his coat and boot, along with the peg, when he noticed that Flint was apparently serious about studying his maps.

“Captain,” Silver called, after clearing his throat. He reclined against the pillows in a sprawl as Flint made an absent humming sound in response.

“Pay attention to me, please.”

At that, Flint turned his head towards the bed the slightest bit, just enough to let Silver know he had his ear.

“Can I call you James now?” When Flint didn’t reply, Silver went on, “What about Jimmy? Jim? Jimbo?”

Flint released a drawn-out, put-upon sigh, and finally turned fully towards Silver, who had also ditched his shirt in the meantime, and was smirking up at the captain.

“James is fine. What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

Flint’s expression was still neutral, but Silver suddenly felt exposed and ashamed. Dammit, he thought Flint had been looking for an excuse to be alone with him, and he’d been so eager to…

“Nothing,” he stammered out after a tense second, scrambling to put his shirt back on. “I thought- Nevermind. I’ll be in my bunk if you require my assistance.”

He was swearing at his boot, fumbling with the strap, when Flint spoke again. “Silver- John. Our matelotage is a tactical move, after Billy decided to crown you king. We have to present a united front.”

“Of course, yes, I-“

“That does not mean that that is all there is between us.”

Silver froze, his hands still trying to buckle the peg leg to his stump. “What?” He managed, weakly.

“I thought you knew about – after what I told you…”

“What are you saying?”

Finally, finally, Flint moved from behind the desk to join Silver on the cot. He gently took the peg from Silver’s hands and set it aside. Then, with the slowest of movements, he proceeded to undress himself. After the coat had gone, Silver was already breathless. Was it really happening? Were he and Flint really going to-?

“Tell me you want this,” Flint said, voice deep and hoarse.

“Are you kidding me?” Silver’s eyebrows shot up, and he would’ve laughed if it hadn’t been for how serious Flint’s expression was.

“John- I know you. I saw the way you distance yourself from physical intimacy and I know how you present yourself as an enthusiast to mask that.”

Although the words weren’t said with an accusing tone, Silver felt his cheeks burn. He hadn’t realized how close he and Flint had become, how obvious his usual survival mechanisms had become to the other man. But it was clear now that no one else knew him as well as Flint did, perhaps not even himself. Not only that – he felt like it was the same for him with Flint himself, and that meant that sooner or later he would have to give him back something real.

“I do want you,” he murmured at end of a long pause. He wasn’t looking directly at Flint, but he reached out to him so that their sides were now pressed together.

“But?” Flint prompted gently.

“I’ve never- I mean, I have, but- What I’m trying to say is-“ Silver bit his lower lip, frustrated at his own inability to articulate his feelings. Having Flint so close to him, looking so soft and concerned, didn’t help matters at all.

“It doesn’t matter, we can take it as slow as you want,” Flint cut in when Silver didn’t continue, his brow now scrunched in confusion. Silver almost snorted – figures, that Flint would be so bold now, even if Silver had been the one so eager to be alone with him in the first place.

“That’s not – I’ve been with men before. Not with anyone I ever trusted, or cared for, though.”

Now that the words were out, Silver felt lighter, somehow, though he still couldn’t find the strength in himself to look up at Flint, too scared that he would only find pity in his eyes. He felt the other man shift at his side with almost imperceptible movements, like he was trying not to scare Silver. Slowly, hands reached for him, and after a moment’s hesitance, he let himself go with it. Before he knew it, they were lying down on the bed, facing each other. There was nothing else in the world but them, their legs tangled together, the warmth of their bodies shared in the small space.

“Do you want me?” Silver hated how small his voice sounded, but he wanted, needed to hear it from Flint.

“Look at me.” Flint waited for him to make eye contact, before continuing with a smile, “I have wanted you since the first moment I set eyes on you, even if you were a pain in my ass.”

“Hmm, but you couldn’t resist my charm for long.” Finally relaxing, Silver moved even closer, nuzzling under Flint’s jaw.

“Alas, I fell prey to it.” Flint chuckled, shifting so that he could hold Silver closer and cover both of them with a thin blanket. “And now I will have a constant pain in my ass whom I shall call husband.”

“Oh, I’m sure it will be const- wait, what did you just call me?” Silver looked up from where he was nibbling on Flint’s throat, his eyes wide with wonder.

“Matelot just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”

“Husband,” Silver repeated, letting the word roll out on his tongue, almost tasting it. “I like it. You’re only allowed to call me that from now on.”

“Only if you’ll do the same.”

Flint smiled down at him, and finally moved closer to press his lips against Silver’s, swallowing his teasing response and stealing his breath. He poured all of himself into the kiss, and Silver did the same – all their insecurities, all the unsaid things between them, all the feelings they had kept secret until that point. All of it was out in the open in the space of a kiss that felt like it lasted a lifetime, and in the next, and in the one after that.