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Secrets and Shadows

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Salt


If there was one thing Celaeno loved more than the air, it was the sea. As a child, she recalled wandering the sandy shores of the south seas. The shiny trinkets she'd save up and wrap wire around, selling for bits Her favorite bauble, however, she still kept tucked under her blouse, hanging from a length of leather cord. The wire had rusted slightly over the years, but the bit of sea glass she'd found still was just as beautiful as when she found it.

 

Nightmares


The sound of rapid breathing wasn't enough to wake Boyle up fully, though the thud and rapid foot exiting the crew mate quarters had him sitting up in an instant. He found Mullet heaving over the side of the airship, shaking with sweat and tremors. He approached the first mate on his sighted side, slowly placing his good hand on Mullet's shoulder.

 

"Same one again?" He offered.

"I couldn't stop him." Mullet rasped. "He had her by the throat and I just---"

 

"I know."

 

"And her eyes just rolled up in her head--"

 

"But she's fine now, Mullet." Slowly, his tremors subsided, and his crewmate pulled him into a one-armed hug, slapping him gently on the arm.

"Let's get back t'bed," Boyle muttered. "Early day tomorrow and you're getting to navigate. No offense, but your sailing sucks."

 

For the first time since Mullet bolted from bed, he laughed. "I'll remember that when you're up in the rigging."

 

Silence


The first night they stayed in Equestria, it was too posh for the crews' tastes. Too clean, to smooth and far to quiet. They'd been given separate rooms to sleep in, a chance to clean up and clean clothes. After a celebration, and a meal like they'd not had in years it was clear they were all exhausted. Heading to their separate rooms they bid each other a tired goodnight, and the click of five doors echoed down the dark hallway. Celaeno had been tossing for hours, the deafening silence that enveloped her room was making it impossible to sleep. She tried pacing, she read a book she found on the massive bookshelf. She tried adjusting her positioning in bed--nothing worked. Mullet came first. Her door clicked open and he was dragging a blanket, he glanced at her, before crawling into the overly large bed. Nearly overwhelmed with something other than silence, Celaeno slid down next to him, the sound of his breathing lulling her to sleep---before more footsteps followed. Squabble, bonk eyed and shirtless crawled onto the foot of the bed, only to be closely followed by Lix and Boyle crawling onto her other side. She felt someone's tail wrap around her waist and finally, the "most feared pirate crew of the skies" was able to sleep.

 

Aftermath


Once the Storm King had been appeased he'd doled out enough punishment for Celaenos arguing, he released her neck and threw her across her own ship. She slammed into a block of crates with a cry of pain as their "employer" stormed off the ship. Lix was over in a heartbeat, looking her over. The cook was missing feathers and a chunk of her tail wrapped up in a bandanna. She apparently paid it no mind as she heaved her captain up to sit, panting for breath and coughing her lungs out. "Mullet, get me some water already!" She called. The wooden mug was lifted to Celaenos beak and the captain was shaking, whether it was from finally being able to breathe, or the adrenaline wearing off, Lix couldn't tell. Once Celaeno caught her breath, Lix carefully coaxed her to sip, muttering quiet assurances all the while. "Crew's fine. Cargo's fine. Ya did great Captain..."



Secrets


They had a history. He was her first mate, she was his captain. Rarely in public did it break any professional barriers. However behind closed doors, in the skies or in the presence of those that were accepting it wasn't uncommon to see his hand on her hip. She was one of the only people allowed on his blind side, more often than not reaching out a hand before he knew she was close. When nights fell and the lamps were turned low they'd bunk up together, her sweeping tail feathers wrapped over both of them, her head tucked under his chin and his clawed hands wrapped tightly around an almost too-thin waist.

Chapter Text

Food


It had been months since the crew had seen the spread the Princess had made sure was set out. Normally having subsided on canned mushy seeds barely passing as pet food, Celaeno had to tell her crew more than once to slow down.

Princess Twilight had been more than accommodating, and given the fact this was a chance for Pinkie Pie to show off her "every flavor every layer cake", Boyle was incredibly pleased to find at least two layers laden with sunflower seeds.

Celaeno was never one for a sweet tooth, but if her crew was fed and happy, she was happy.

 

 


Privacy


The chance for privacy was breif, but Mullet would be damned if he left the opportunity slip by. Celaenos obvious gait was easy to pick, and the full many doors leading to rooms was an easy out. He laid in wait until she was close enough, before snapping out his tail and muffling her cry with a hand by yanking her into what he presumed was a guest room.

"Mullet--?"

His hands raked down her sides, plucking at the ties of her jacket, his beak nipping at her overly sensitive tufts of ears and she gave a shiver under his hands.

"Too many meetins'. Missed ya." He growled in her ear. She relaxed under his iron grip. Her expression grew soft and she bumped her forehead against his.

"Make it up to me then, sailor."

 

 

 


Accident


Sweetie Belles wails echoed down the hallways of Twilights expansive castle, the two little fillies with her--Applebloom and Scootaloo dancing around Lix's ankles.

"We're real sorry Ma'am!"

"We didn't mean to sneak up on you! Honest!"

Lix clucked her tounge against her beak and simple scooped up the crying filly. It wasn't a terrible cut, really more of a glancing blow--but to such a little thing that much blood must've scared the lights out of her. Lix had been heading out of the castle when the fillies had bounded past her. She reacted on instinct, lashing out with her tail thinking someone was attacking her.

Sweetie Belle had caught the forked tip on her foreleg, and the yelp she gave was enough to stop the pirate cold.

"It's fine, it's alright. Just show me where the Princess keeps her bandages and we'll fix this right up." She crowed gently. Her apron wrapped around the cut foreleg as the fillies led her into a restroom probably larger than half of the ship Lix lived her life on. Setting Sweetie Belle down on the counter, Lix poked around in the little box Twilight kept for mundane issues.

A swipe of some of her own green salve from an apron pocket, and a wrap of a bandage later, Sweetie Belle was back to prancing around with her friends.

Maybe life on the ground wasn't so bad.

 

 

 

Casual


Boyle was a bird of simple pleasures. His hammock, his hook, and his cider. He liked the quiet and the whispers of the wind in the trees.

The collision that was apparently Rainbow Dash followed by another pegasai crashing into his gut while half awake was not on the plan.

"Gah! Sorry, Boyle!"

A dizzy, magenta-haired filly was wobbling in circles as Dash righted the pirate to sit up. "We're still working on her landings. She's uh...growing into her feathers. Ya know?"

Boyle glanced down at her, then down at his own feathers. "No." He grunted. His tone was stern but his face split into a smile.

Chapter Text


Stillness

Her scent was overbearing, it hung in the air like a tapestry. She was beneath him, his weight pinning her down. Her good leg sat on his hip, trying her best to buck up against him to get some kind of movement. Burying his face in her neck he bit down on her shoulder making her cry out his name. He was thankful he thought to remove his good shirt before getting down to business, otherwise, her talons would've shredded it, much like his back right now.

"I swear if you don't move---"

Mullet pulled his hips back and he heard Celaenos breath hitch, her eyes rolling back into her head and he moved.

 


Coordination

 

Him lacking an eye and her lacking a leg usually meant getting down to business was always a shit show. She didn't like to keep her leg on, it threw her balance off. He preferred to keep his patch on--he was always self conscious about the scarring left behind on his face. Celaeno had always assured him in private that eye or no eye...he was just fine. Their relationship was incredibly private, and she'd sooner die than lead on to what exactly their "trade route meetings" usually consisted of.

Yet here she was, flat on her back as his claws eagerly yanked off her jacket, only stopping to slide a hand down her thigh. He purposefully avoided certain spots, until his fingers came to rest on the cap of her prosthetic. Lowering his long neck, his beak pecked several gentle kisses to her inner thigh just where the nerves were sensitive, before removing it.

Her leg hooked over his hip as if it was made just to hold it and Mullet gave a low rumble of a chuckle in his chest. This was going to be good.

 

Movement

 

Celaeno was pretty sure she was losing her mind. These little meetings she and Mullet coordinated were always just as good but he was particularly aggressive tonight. His claws nipped and tore at her back and she knew once he'd wriggled her out of her pants and gotten her on her back ---on one of Twlights desks no less-- that she was in for a rough ride.

Mullet had dexterity, she'd give him that. His fingers poked, prodded and circled to all those sensitive spots that she normally ignored until she was able to get to him. She never missed when he hit something sensitive and she gasped or swore in his ear and he'd give that low rumbling chuckle she loved so much.

He knew what made her whimper, what made her demand, and what she loved from him. Probably one of the best parts of being her first mate.

As his fingers slipped into her she grunted, taking a slow shuddering breath in as he worked her. Tiny whimpers escaped her mouth as she buried her head in his neck. He whispered in her ear things he wouldn't dare say even around the rest of the crew. When he hit the spot he was looking for she groaned out his name, and he knew he had her.

Pulling back, she squirmed and he pinned her beneath his hips, sliding into her effortlessly. He wasn't able to hold back a moan of his own, his head bowing down to kiss and nip at her neck. She was tight, wet and fit him like a glove. He didn't miss how she was struggling to increase the motion, to move the heavy pressure she'd suddenly be filled with.

"I swear if you don't move---"

He pulled his hips back and with massive pleasure, he saw her eyes roll up and her chest heaved. He pushed, she nearly screamed. She was pent up, he was no better. The desk rocked under them, the sturdy hardwood giving him all the leverage he needed.

She usually reached her peak first, her knees tightening around his hips and she gasped, rolled her hips and arched her back as she hissed his name. He was quick to follow, collapsing down on her with a soft moan. With displeasure, he pulled out of her and scooped her into his arms.

"I can walk you know." She muttered drowsily into his ear.

The bed was soft under their aching muscles, and sleep was quick to follow.

 


Mornings

 

It was always the mornings after they were together that Celaeno found to be the best. She was always the early riser, and with Celestia keeping the sun rising at a decent time, it shone right into her room she kept at Twilights. Mullet's raspy breathing was in her ear and she rolled over, flopping an arm over his torso.

Normally by this hour, they'd have been interrupted. Squabble with some new trinket to tinker with, Lix barking about breakfast or Boyle rummaging through crates. More often than not after their meetings, it was a hasty night in a hammock followed by one of them rolling out of bed to put clothes on.

This...she could get used to this.

She felt Mullet take a deep breath beside her and bury his head in the feathers of her neck, his beak nipping at the skin beneath it.

"That one was fun....shouldn't tell the Princess about her desk though."

Chapter Text

 

 

Captured

The bars to the cage clinked open and Celaeno was unceremoniously hurled into her cell, quickly followed by a bound Applejack being launched inside, sliding across the floor to slam into the wall.

The blonde pony let out a grunt of pain as their captors left, and the Element of Honesty cracked open a swollen eye to look up at the pirate captain.

"Ya know...when ya said that ya owed em money...could'a warned me b'fer we went an' kicked the door in..." She chuckled.

Celaeno was at her side in an instant, talons slicing through the ropes and helping the battered pony to her feet. "So whats the plan Cap'in?"

The parrot glanced up out the window, huffing out a tired breath.

"We wait."

 


Questions


"Are ya really a pirate?"

"Did'ja ever steal some booty!?"

"How'd you lose your leg?!"

Celaeno without missing a beat gingerly stepped around the three eager fillies bouncing around her ankles. They reminded her of herself when she was little, seeking out adventure and itching for a new story to find.

"Yes, Yes, and you're not old enough, in that order." She laughed and leaned against a tree. Sliding down the trunk to sit, the rough bark bit into her back but she didn't care.

The earth pony---Applebloom plopped down next to her, the other two--Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle if she remembered right, on her other side. It wasn't that Celaeno didn't -like- kids. These were the siblings of the group that got her crew back on their feet per se.

"If you keep staring at it kid, it's gonna bite you." the parrot teased. Applebloom snorted and crouched down further to examine the green gem that made up her peg leg.

"Who made it anyway?"

With a roll of her eyes, Celaeno rubbed at her damaged leg, it was sore from walking around. "Boyle did. He's good with gem cutting. Said it looked nice with my feathers."

"Are you dating him?! My sister says mares LOVE when stallions bring them jewels!" Sweetie Belle squealed from her hip.

Plopping a taloned hand on the hyperactive unicorns head, she laughed. "No, we aren't uh...dating. That's not what pirates do!"

"Yeah." Scootaloo chimed in. "Besides, she was in the broom closet with her first mate the other day! Rainbow Dash never lies!"

Celaeno was going to tie that rainbow tail into a million bowsons knots.

 

Injury


Mullet finally came too--and all he saw was darkness. His heart hammered in his chest as the pain in his head sent him into a panic. His feathers puffed up and he wheezed, struggling to stand up.

"Mullet no!"

Clawed hands grabbed at him, tried to force him down onto the bed. Mullet had no choice but to seize his attacker and heave them up, hurling them away. He heard a splintering of wood and the cry of a female in pain. Bandages were wrapped around his face, and he clawed to get them off, only to come to knots and adhesives in his way.

Stumbling to his feet, he tried to locate the door, before meeting a solid wall of muscle and feathers. He squawked, lashing out with his long neck and beak to try and snap at his assailant.

"Mullet stop! It's me! Boyle!"

The first mate froze, panic still gripping his chest as the panic continued to rut through him. Gentle hands stroked his back, and picked him up. Footsteps carried him back and set him on the bed.

"What...what happened?" A cup was put in his hands and he drank down the water.

"Well ya----what did ya do to the Captain!?" Boyles heavy footsteps ran to the corner of the room, and Celaenos groan floated into Mullets ears.

"It's fine....Its fine Boyle. I started him. Nothing a drink won't fix. Nothing's broken."

He'd hurt Celano.

As if she'd been able to read his mind, she felt him sit on the bed and gently rake her talons through his red crest on his head. "We were getting that sand shipment remember? You took a hit to the face. You got lucky it was just the one side." Her tone was calm and gentle.

Vaguley, he recalled things. It was fuzzy, and the throbbing in his temples subsided. Boyles heavy foot falls left the room, closing the door to Celaenos cabin.

She stood and he wondered what was going on, and he heard the rustling of fabric--she was taking off her coat. There was a creak of the lamp being turned down and she slid into bed next to him, his arms wrapping around her waist.

"Sleep. I'm not going anywhere." His head moved to lie on the soft downy of her chest, and sleep overtook him.

 


Helping Hand

The door to the cabin was closed, the curtians were shut and the lamps were low. The rest of the crew was busy with their own buisness, short of the three safely tucked away in Celaenos private quaters.

Mullets claws dug into her hips as she rode him, her talons digging small holes in the matress next to his head. Her breaths came out in short whimpers, his grunting beneath her as every now and then he'd give her sensitive tail plumes a tug, making her hiss out his name in a swear.

"Boyle...help the cap'in out...she's tired ya see."

Large clawed hands wrapped around her hips, as Mullets moved down to the apex of her thighs, and lifted her up, helping her along. Celaeno leant back against Boyles broad chest, gasping for breath as he forced her faster, before there was a sudden clench in her belly as Mullet found that one small bundle of nerves he'd been searching for and it all came crashing down.

She thrashed and bit down her beak to keep from crying out, Boyle nipping at her neck while Mullet grunted from under her, a low moan and a rush of heat signalling he'd reached his climax.

The captain was still twitching as she was moved to lie between the two of them, wrapped up in a tangle of arms and long tails.

Chapter Text

Freedom

 

After the menace of the Storm King had been ended, came the aftermath. The castle may have been repaired but there was still the tedious task of freeing those locked in the cages. Celaeno took note of the anxiety mounting as Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash took to nearly bowling over each other to empty cages.

Her crew was more than happy to help, Boyle and Lix using their lock picking skills to open whatever couldn't be blown open.

"Applejack!" There was a tiny squeak of a voice behind Celaeno and a yellow blur blew by her, tackling the aformented sibling in the process. "Applejack ya did it!"

Celaeno pretended not to see the hard-working pony nearly crying in relief her youngest sister was alright, and took to helping Rainbow Dash. The pegasus was currently slamming her weight into a cage where a purple haired filly was crouched in the corner. Rainbows shoulder was already bruised and the feathers were crumpled from her attempts to break open the lock.

"Dash wait!"

Celaeno hurried over, lockpick in hand and deftly picked it open, allowing Rainbow to hurry in. "Scoot...you okay?!"

The little filly--Scootaloo--she'd later come to find, was fine. A little scared, very tired, but mostly glad to see her friends again.

The only left Rarity, who was working herself into a tizzy. She was running from cage to cage, and Celaeno knew panic setting in when she saw it. She was hollering Sweetiebelles name--to no avail.

There was one final cage that hadn't been looked through lying on its side. It had been tipped over in the scuffle. Tucked in the corner of the street where a dingy white lump could be seen. Despite the soreness in her muscles, Celaeno plowed forward, pushing boxes out of the way. The limp little ball of fur and purple mane couldn't belong to anyone else.

"Rarity! I found her!"

For everything, the diva was, neglectful wasn't one of them. Blue magic crumpled the crates leaving splinters in their wake and crushed the door on the cage. Rarity climbed inside, mindless to the dust staining her coat and gently nudged her little sister.

"Sweetiebelle?....Darling wake up."

By this time the scuffle had drawn a crowd, and Twilight had hurried over. Rarity had her little sister tucked under a foreleg, pulling her out and cradling her. "Sweetiebelle? It's...it's time to wake up darling it's all over." She gave the filly a shake again, panic cracking at her voice.

Despite the slow, even breathing of the filly, she didn't wake. In a last-ditch effort, Rarity sent a small zap of blue light smack between her sisters' eyes and Sweetiebelle gave a small groan.

"Rarity...? Rarity!" The filly grabbed her sister by the neck and hugged her tightly, babbling nonsense all the while.

Celaeno stepped away, knowing this wasn't her territory. She found her own crew still hard at work freeing others.

 

Deceiving

"Why didn't he come talk to me himself?"

Celaenos tone was quiet, and Boyle wilted slightly under her stern expression.

"He said he wanted t'be alone. You know Mullet. Once he gets into these funks it takes him a while. He said he was going down to the shore."

"For three days? Boyle -really-?" Her talons tapped on her hip as she shifted the weight off her bad leg. A storm was on its way and with her first mate AWOL for three days with apparently -everyone- on her crew knowing but her...she was irritated.

They docked and Celaeno went hunting. She found him a few hours later sitting under a shady spot overlooking the water. Approaching him on his sighted side, he snorted.

"Figured you'd come find me."

 

Sarcasm

Wind was rocking the airship and Celaeno was struggling to keep it up and riding the ever-shifting turbulence they were experiencing. Mullets claws tied a lifeline around her waist.

"This is fine! We've sailed through worse!" She laughed. Her hat was below deck, the rain soaking her green crest of feathers down to the back of her neck. She was soaked to the bone, cold, and utterly alive.

"This is the exact -opposite- of fine Captain!" She heard Boyle call in the rigging.

With a whoop, she turned the airship and sailed further into the storm. Thunder drummed in her ears, lighting was her own light show, and the rain was nothing but applause.

She loved her job.

 

Light

Mullet was convinced that the fire that had once existed in Celaenos eyes had died out for good. She was listless, stern, but still cared for her crew. However, that fire that had kept her going for so long had just died down to a bare flicker of what it once was.

It wasn't until he saw her pull her prized hat that he realized the fire was back in her. Her stance stood stronger, her smile wider.

His captain had returned.

Chapter Text

Endings

Celaneo felt it in her bones...it wouldn't be much longer. A few more months maybe. Possibly the end of the season. She pushed herself up and shuffled to the bow of her air ship, she leaned heavily on a cane. The once vibrant colors of her feathers had faded, and there was an ache there that hadn't been years prior.

The deck was bustling with activity. Young, eager explorers looking to find their places in history as they went about their business. One of her longest-standing helpers, an Abyssian named Slick was giving out orders, he'd aged, but nowhere near as delicately as his captain.

Squabble had been the first to go. He went peacefully in his sleep, not a mark on him. Lix had said it must've been something about his brain...it simply just couldn't contain itself with the frequent headaches that plagued the cross-eyed pirate.

Lix herself was next, gone before she hit the floor and caught by her assistants.

Boyle's death had been quiet and swift. He'd been mid-speech before drifting off, his arms slowly sinking down and slumped in his chair. His heart simply wasn't able to keep up with his age.

Letters from Princess Twilight had born good news. Rainbow Dash was well, as were the rest of them. It would seem the passage of time wasn't ravaging them, something about the Elements of Harmony preserving longevity.

Mullets passing hit her the hardest. They'd gone to bed and when she awoke...he was gone. She'd cried like she hadn't in years, holding onto him until Boyle had come to find them.

The sun was hanging low, and Celaeno felt tired. She passed off the watch to a fresh-faced assistant and headed into her cabin.

As she lay down, there was a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye, and Celaeno realized she was no longer alone. The princesses Luna, Twilight, Cadence and Celestia were in her cabin.

"What in the...."

"Captain Celaeno...you've done well in your time on this earth." Luna spoke gently, standing tall next to her sister and friends. "However...your watch is over."

"I don't understand."

Twilight stepped forward, setting a foreleg on her knee. "You've saved so many people, rekindled friendships, and helped our kingdom reclaim itself...we just wanted to see you off." Her smile was kind, but her eyes were sad.

With the confusion mounting, Celestia stepped forward, pinning her wings back in the confined space. "Your sun is setting, Celaeno. You and your crew have done more than enough to help my people."

"So...you're basically here to see me die?"

Cadence cleared her throat delicately. "Your love for your crew has sustained you all this time. It's time, Celaeno."

"But I---my crew---"

"Geeze Celaeno. You make it sound like I'm gonna let them get lazy."

The raspy, teasing voice echoed in the room, and Rainbow stepped into her field of vision. She ambled up to the elderly pirate and grabbed her in a tight hug. Celaeno held onto her tightly, burying her face in the brightly colored mane. "Did you really think I'd let you go without me saying goodbye?" The Wonderbolts voice was tight.

There was a sudden flare of light from the four princesses horns, and Celaeno felt her chest grow tight. There standing in front of her stood her crew. Her blessed, fantastic crew looking young and fit like they had in their youth.

From behind Boyle, out strode Mullet and if Celaeno thought she was dreaming, at this point she swore she'd be dead already. He reached out a hand and pulled her up. He pulled her flush to him and kissed her, unafraid of the company currently in the room.

Celaeno became acutely aware that she no longer ached. Sounds of the sea and air hit her ears, and they unconsciously perked up. She could see her airship, her -original- airship.

Twilight made a 'go on' motion with her foreleg, and Celaeno realized they'd been wiping their eyes.

With one final look over her shoulder, she let Mullet pull her onto the deck of her ship. She pulled her hat down to shield her eyes from the sun, the warmth soaking into her bones. Her crew...her WHOLE crew ran about the ship, carrying crates, adjusting rigging, setting out maps. Her family was here.

Mullet passed her the telescope, and she'd briefly glance through it, collapsing it and his hand settled on her hip. Taking her place at the helm, she curled her hands around the warm, familiar wood.

"Bring me that horizon."

Come the next morning, the body of Captain Celaeno was found in her bed, having passed in her sleep. Clenched in her hand, were cyan colored feathers and a small smile on her face.

Chapter Text

Domestic

Surprisingly, it wasn't Lix that handled much of the repair work that came with uniforms or the cooking -all- of the time.

 

For his lack of depth perception, Mullet found himself quite at peace working in the galley. He handled knives with ease learned after losing his eye. The galley always smelled heavy of coriander, turmeric and other far-off spices and his favored dishes were always curries and thick cubed cuts of meats over grains seasoned in heavy broths.

 

A breeze blew through the open window of the galley and Mullet was busy at work preparing the crew dinner. Lix was enjoying the evening free from cooking and was dozing off somewhere.

 

It wasn't until Mullet felt arms wrapping around his waist and a familiar feminine figure pulled up flush against his back that he stilled his dicing.

 

"Smells good." Celaenos voice rumbled in his ear.

 

With a chuckle, he dipped a wooden spoon in the pot and blew on it gently, lifting it to her beak. She made a noise of approval and hummed, burying her head in the downy feathers of his shoulder and neck.

 

"S'gotta simmer for a good half hour..." his tone drawled.

 

He was infinitely pleased that the galley had a locking door.

 

 


Handle with Care

 

"Who'd have thunk they'd let a bunch of -treasure hunters- into the Crystal Empire huuuh?"

 

Dash was plunked at Celaenos elbow, the captain sat stiffly in a chair, her good leg crossed over her bad and bobbing it anxiously. She and her crew had been asked by name by Princess Cadence and Shining Armor. Whatever it was...if a royal asked for it...Celaeno supposed they got it.

 

There was a breif opening of doors, and Celaneo struggled to stand. The cooler, moist air was havoc on her already tired joints, and her peg leg ached. Mullet was at her side, subtly offering a hand to pull her up and his hand lingered on her back until he was sure she was steady.

 

The Crystal Empires royal family was everything the talk claimed to be. Strong, beautiful, and bloody -shiny-.

 

"Princess Cadence. You called my crew and I...and here we are. What can we do for you?" Celaeno questioned gently.

Cradled in Cadences foreleg, the tiny princess Flurry Heart began to stir, and something cold dropped into the pirate captains belly.

 

"My husband and I would just like to extend our thanks for all of your aid during the seige of Canterlot. We wouldn't have survived without your help." Cadence explained. Flurry began fussing and the princess shushed her gently, rocking her as she spoke. "I'm aware of how...unorthodox it was in order to get your help but Rainbow Dash has been known to be -very- persuasive!" She laughed.

Celaeno nodded, laughing gently. "Yeah...Dash is pretty darn good at that."

Dinner followed, and the crew was given lodgings for the night. Cadence glanced in her room when she realized she'd be sharing it with Mullet, and only found one bed. Glancing over to the alicorn, the Princess of Love gave her a knowing look.

"You may keep it quiet; which is your full right. But there's no reason for you to have an empty bed across the castle from him." Cadence explained gently. She gently bumped the captain's arm with her head. "Your secret is safe with me."

A look of relief passed over Celaeno, and she eagerly followed Mullet into the room. Mullet was already in bed, and his captain was eager to follow suit. He smelled of pipe tobacco and soot--sleep was soon to follow.


 

Celaeno awoke to the sounds of crying.

Groggy with a sudden awakening, she rolled out of bed, fumbling for her leg and pulling it on. The hearth was dying, and she'd toss on a few more logs before slipping out of the room to find the source of the noise.

She found Cadence pacing the royal kitchens, rocking a hysterical Flurry in her foreleg. A bottle was warming on the stove. The princess looked frazzled, her hair unkempt, exhausted and on the verge of tears. Upon realizing she wasn't alone, the princess attempted a grasp at regality before the squealing of her daughter took precedence.

"Captain I apologize--"

The parrot held up a clawed hand and shushed her, striding to the pot holding the bottle and plucking it up, testing the temperature. "May I?"

With a moment of hesitance, Cadence passed the crying infant to the pirate, and with practiced ease--almost like riding a bike--Celaeno popped the nipple of the bottle into Flurry Hearts mouth and began gently swaying from side to side.

"Never thought you would be much with babies, if I may say so, Captain Celaeno."

There was a comfortable silence that fell in the kitchens for a while, the only sounds being the gentle creaking of Celaenos brace, and the eager devouring of a baby with a bottle.

"I know its hard, Princess. It's rough the first year or two. Once she's done weaning it gets easier."

Cadence fixed her with a strange look, briefly drifting down to look at her belly. "Did you---"

"We did. Mullet and I. Years ago." Her tone went tight, and the pirate captain lowered her head to briefly take in that familiar scent of baby lingering in Flurrys downy soft hair.

Cadence opened her mouth to speak when the door creaked open. Mullet stepped in, sans shirt and eyepatch. He surveyed the trip, before making his way in. "Figured when she was out of bed it had something t'do with this." He rumbled lowly.

The princess looked at the two of them, "So...what happened to the baby then...?" She questioned hesitantly. She instantly regretted it when Mullet's arm wound around Celaenos hip and his face grew tight.

"Lucien...he wasn't a healthy baby." The first mates voice was strained. "Doesn't mean she's lost her touch though."

Celaeno gently took the empty bottle away and passed it off to Mullet. Cadence watched in awe as the two battled hardened pirates maneuvered around the unfamiliar kitchen in sync, cleaning the bottle, seizing a wash rag and Celaeno gave a few pats to Flurrys back releasing a belch that would've made her father proud. Saited, the infant settled down to sleep and was gently passed back to her mother.

"Like I said, Princess. The first year or two is the worst. Once shes weaned, solid foods is usually a good start."

"Peas."

Mullets voice cut in again. "Lucien liked mashed peas. His favorite, actually."

The first mate turned and stalked out of the kitchen, his shoulders tight. Celaeno watched him go, before casting a sad look to Cadence. Her claws reached down and gently pushed a curl behind Flurrys ear. "You're very lucky." She muttered.

Cadence watched as Celaeno turned and left. For once, she had no words.


 

Celaeno found Mullet on the balcony of their room, sitting on the railing and smoking his pipe. She wrapped an arm around his chest, tucking her head against his shoulder.

"It's alright to miss him, Mullet." She whispered.

Her first mate had always been stern, immovable, unbreakable. For the first time in a long time, he crumpled and sagged against her. She pulled him down and he sobbed into her chest like a child.