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Black Sails Drabbles and Outtakes

Chapter Text

Idelle looked up as a purse full of coins was dumped unceremoniously on the dresser where she sat, unweaving her sleep braid.

 

“What’s that for?” She asked, not bothering to put any politeness into the words.

 

“It’s money for a gravestone. I can show you where we buried her.”

 

Idelle turned to look at Anne Bonny. She was wearing her hat again, pulled low so she could only see the slight downturn of her lips.

 

“Why?”

 

Anne shrugged.

 

“You were right. She didn’t deserve what I done to her. Don’t know about him. I reckon most men could do with a knife in the gut now and then. But she didn’t deserve it. Nothing I can do for her now, but I can do this, see she gets something proper to remember her to her friends. To you.”

 

Idelle nodded, not quite trusting her voice, and Anne turned and left the room as silently as she’d arrived.

 

She waited until the door was shut and she was sure she was alone, then she allowed herself to cry for her friend, for Charlotte.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

They'd roughly cleaned out his wounds with wine and water when he’d first been brought to the fort, but now they seemed intent on undoing their earlier aid. They'd ripped out all of his fingernails on his right hand without ever asking him a single question. He'd gritted his teeth against the pain, but had thrown up twice regardless. He’d tried to think of other things, to distance himself from the hot agony that his whole arm had become, but he’d started off in a pretty shitty state in the first place and wasn’t having much luck. He didn’t have any delusions on how long he’d last if they started asking him questions. For all that he’d been betrayed by his brothers, he still wouldn’t give these red coat scum an easy time of it if he could help it.

 

After a few days, he started to ramble about anything he could think of: books he’d read as a child; the stench of the graveyard behind the room his family had lived in; he gave himself permission to share anything as long as it wasn’t related to his life as a pirate.

 

On the fifth day, he cried in his cell after they cut off his left thumb.

 

On the eighth day, he told them about Avery’s maps.

 

They left him alone for a little while after that, and he tried not to be grateful.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Mr Silver.” Thomas said, as he entered the kitchen.

 

“Yes Mr Barlow?” Answered John, equally formal.

 

“I’m afraid that when you returned my husband to me last night he was most disagreeable.”

 

“Was that so, Mr Barlow, I am pained to hear that.”

 

“He fell asleep almost instantly and could not be roused until this morning.” Thomas continued.

 

“I apologise, that must have been most frustrating.”

 

“Quite. I thought our agreement was that you would strive to return my husband to me in a more useful state.”

 

“I do apologise, Mr Barlow, I will make more effort to return him to you in a more usable state in future.”

 

“Thank you, Mr Silver, I am much obliged to you.”

 

“Are you two idiots quite done?” James enquired from his place at the kitchen table. He had achieved some higher state of embarrassment about three seconds into the ridiculous exchange, and now felt that he would never be rid of this blush again.

 

“I trust that he was in better shape this morning?” John asked, ignoring James altogether.

 

“Yes,” Thomas nodded seriously, “I was able to make adequate use of his mouth.”

 

“Fuck.” James said indistinctly, from behind his hands. He was getting hard again and he hadn’t even had a chance to eat his porridge yet.

 

“He does take it well.”

 

Jesus, he had survived things that would make most men expire in fear, but he was going to be done in by his lovers simply talking about him .

 

“Yes, I do love a man who enjoys being on his knees.” Thomas said, in the same way he might offhandedly speak of the weather.

 

He put a hand on his erection under the table and squeezed a little.

 

“James,” said a voice in his ear and he jumped a little. He turned to John, who had snuck into the seat next to him whilst Thomas was talking. He didn’t have to look to know that Thomas was smirking from the other side of him.

 

“It seems a little rude to be touching yourself under the table, don’t you think? Why don’t you sit back a little so we can both see?” John continued, coaxing and calm.

 

James nodded, and pushed his chair back a little.

 

“Good, now, why don’t you take your cock out for us?”

 

He was burning up, humiliated beyond the telling of it, but so fucking hard. He freed himself from his loose undergarments and groaned a little at the feel of his hand on his naked skin.

 

“Lick your hand, that’s good.” Thomas said from his other side.

 

God, they’d never done this before: both of them standing over him - it was almost too much, so he closed his eyes.

 

“Now, now.” John said softly, and turned James’ head with his hands so he could kiss him deeply. James made a soft noise in his throat, already too far gone to participate fully in the kiss. The second John released him, Thomas pulled him around to kiss him, whilst John reached under his straining cock to cup his balls. He moaned into Thomas’ mouth, who smiled into the kiss.

 

“Do you like having us both watch you?” Thomas asked.

 

James gritted his teeth against the answer that he half wanted to give voice to, and half wanted to keep to himself. John put his hand over James’, stilling his movements. He let out an involuntary sound at the lack of stimulation, and Thomas grinned wolfishly at him.

 

“Answer the question and we will let you continue.”

 

James swallowed heavily.

 

“Yes. Yes I like it.”

 

“Good.” Thomas kissed him again, long enough for James to forget himself a little. John did not let go of his hand though, just kept it over his, squeezing a little now and then.

 

“Now, why don’t you tell John why you like it.”

 

James took a second to understand what was being asked of him, then turned to a little to John who was watching them both, rapt.

 

“I like…” He started, then licked his lips and tried again. “I like being good for you both.”

 

He was aware in a far away place that he might not have admitted such under normal circumstances, but it seemed to matter less here, with John allowing him to stroke his cock once more, whilst Thomas whispered filthy things into his ear.

 

“You're so good for me. Perhaps next time I will let you get down on your knees and rub yourself off on my leg whilst John watches. Would you like that? Hands tied behind your back? Humping like a stray dog on the floor?”

 

James moaned as he started to come, so warm he felt he was dying of the heat in this tiny kitchen, his lovers either side of him.

 

......

 

Once he had gotten his breath back he made John clean the underside of the table and Thomas clean the floor.

 

 

Chapter Text

Somehow, and Jack really didn’t want to know how, his room in the brothel had been invaded by lace and stockings. Apparently one of the new girls had gotten a little confused as to whose room was whose, and the end result was that he had staggered in with a tipsy Charles hanging off him and had fallen into a bed full of silky underthings. After the initial shock they had gotten themselves vertical again and now Jack was busy pairing stockings and moaning about the unpleasant surprises that had not been part of the small print when they’d murdered the former owner and taken over this place, whilst Charles sat on the one clear part of the bed and ignored him.

 

He eventually managed to clear enough space to perhaps sleep when he noticed that Charles had a white knuckled grip on one particular froth of white lace and silk.

 

It was, of course, a little difficult to negotiate a sexual relationship with partner who had both a history of massive trauma and a tendency to communicate solely through the medium of tensed shoulders, but thankfully Jack had prior experience.

 

“Charles?” He tried the direct route first.

 

No, more tense.

 

He picked up another slip of silk and folded it carefully, avoiding looking directly at his lover.

 

“That would look well on you, I imagine, with your complexion.” He said, after a pause.

 

He flicked a look up to the other side of the bed, but continued to keep his hands busy. A little less tense. Interesting.

 

“I, of course, would be delighted either way, but if you wished to say... suck my cock whilst wearing it I imagine the effect would be most gratifying.”

 

No reaction. Jack was debating whether to leave the whole topic well alone when Charles stood up suddenly and started stripping. He was a little hindered by his seeming refusal to let go of the robe he had claimed as his own, but he was still down to just his breeches when Jack’s brain caught up long enough for him to do something other than stand there.

 

He bent to remove his boots but went no further, wanting to make sure that he had not completely misread the situation before bringing his own nudity into the equation. He walked barefoot around the bed, where Charles was now stood very naked and very erect, the robe still bunched in his hands. Carefully, Jack took it from him, speaking mostly on autopilot about the French origins of the garment, keeping a sharp eye on Charles’ reactions and as he draped it around his shoulders, helping him to slip his arms into the loose sleeves. Charles continued to stand there, avoiding eye contact but breathing a little heavier than usual.

 

“Well, don’t you look a picture?” Jack said, softly. He carefully reached to tug Charles’ hair from under the robe, then laid a kiss on his jaw.

 

“Shall I get you something to kneel on?” He asked. Charles enjoyed the act, within certain boundaries, but could not bring himself to ask for it, so this had become their shorthand. If Charles said no, then he was saying no to the activity in its entirety, rather than merely Jack’s cushion-fetching offer.

 

Charles briefly met his eyes though before nodding, so Jack did just that and Charles made himself comfortable on the floor, nuzzling a little at his cock through his breeches. Jack pulled in a sharp breath. Perhaps he was not so displeased with the evening if this was the turn it was going to take. Then he forgot all about the brothel and attendant problems as Charles freed his cock from his breeches and swallowed him down in one breath.

 

“Fuck.” Jack said, less than eloquent.

 

Charles could not stand to have Jack put his hands in his hair, but running his hands over silk covered muscle seemed a wholly adequate alternative.

 

“God, you look so good like this, so fucking pretty in silk.”

 

Charles hollowed out his cheeks and Jack fought not to thrust.

 

“We should… we should get you more lace things… Perhaps, ah, perhaps some stockings, or a strip of white silk to hold back your hair. A gown in blue, sheer with lace. Ah! Charles, I’m…” He pulled off at the warning, and Jack collapsed gracelessly onto the floor. In a stroke of genius he wrapped both their cocks in part of the robe before rubbing them together, which caused enough of a reaction in Charles than he made a low moan.

 

“Yes, just like that, my beautiful Captain.” Jack babbled, almost beyond thought as he tried to judge how close Charles was to coming. He lay his forehead onto Jack’s shoulder and Jack put his hand on the back of his neck, both of them breathing hard. Charles came first, and Jack followed swiftly after, making an impressive mess of the silk.

 

He stole a kiss as they sat there recovering, but it was Charles who deepened it. Jack knew a thank you when he received one, but he said nothing as they put themselves to rights and got into the lace-free bed.

 

--

 

“We should keep that one, perhaps.” Jack said, as they lay together. Charles was sat up, smoking, and Jack was sprawled half on his lap.

 

“Oh yeah? And how would you explain that?” Charles asked, his usual bravado creeping back into his voice.

 

Jack shrugged, “I would say it was for me.”

 

“And you wouldn’t care what anyone thought?” Charles asked, disbelieving.

 

“Anyone who thought less of me for wearing women’s clothing has obviously not met enough women. Also, no-one is stupid enough to insult me in earshot of either you or Anne.”

 

“You know, you’re a mouthy little shit when she’s stood next to you.”

 

Jack shrugged as much as he could whilst lying down. “She enjoys getting her swords a little bloody, and I enjoy being a mouthy little shit. It’s a good match.”

 

Charles snorted his half laugh.

 

“As are you and I.” Jack couldn’t resist adding. Charles looked down at him, then roughly ran his free hand through Jack’s hair.

 

“Yeah, we are.” He agreed.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was early when he heard the knock at the door. Well, it was less of a knock and more of a single, hard thump, as if the knocker had heard of the art but not had the practice to perfect it. James got up with a low groan, Thomas still dead to the world. He threw on breeches and a shirt and went to see who the incompetent knocker was, sheathed sword in one hand.

It was only Anne Bonny though, in hat and coat despite the rising heat.

“Charles here?” She asked, without embellishment.

“Yes, he arrived drunk, drank most of my good wine then passed out on the guest bed some time early this morning.” It happened only occasionally, but often enough that it was no longer remarked upon. “You’re welcome to him if you can rouse him.”

Anne snorted. “I’ll wait,” she said and followed him into the main room where she sat at the table.

James, for something to do, started preparations for tea.

“Is Max well?” he asked once the water was hot enough to pour, “I heard there was trouble last week.”

“Yeah, she’s fine.”

James served her and Anne looked at her tea as if it might bite her, then took a loud sip.

“She wasn’t best pleased though for a bit.” She added.

James raised a brow in question, and Anne carefully put down her teacup before answering.

“Said I shouldn't’ve killed him, wanted to question him. Was alright later, thanked me.“ She shrugged. "Don’t think she understood - couldn't’ve not killed him. He came at Max so I took him apart.”

It was the most words he’d ever heard her say. Miranda had never set foot in this house that he and Thomas now shared, but he could hear her voice nonetheless, ‘say something, James.’

“I killed Thomas’ father.” He wasn’t sure where the confession came from, he was feeling his way through the conversation: the unknown lying either side of it.

Anne looked up at him, making full eye contact for the first time since she’d walked in.

“Yeah?”

“He was responsible for Thomas’ imprisonment and, at the time, I thought his death.”

“He forgive you for it?” She made a brief gesture towards the room where Thomas slept on.

“Yes.” Well, it was a little more complicated than that, but as far as James was concerned it was the least of his trespasses against Thomas. “It was as you said: there was nothing else I could have done.”

She nodded and they drank their tea in silence until Charles staggered into the room, and James went to wake Thomas.

 

Chapter Text

There is an animal struggle for air, his body fighting beyond conscious thought. Just at the point he thinks it cannot continue, that it is too much suffering to bear, there are familiar hands supporting his weight.

 

First there is Teach, and for a moment Charles is small enough that his mentor can take his whole face in his warm hands, looking down at him as he tells Charles he’s proud of him, that he has done well. Then there is Jack and Anne, Jack kissing him roughly on his brow and telling him he is loved, his words warm enough for both of them. Even Flint, stony faced, stands to one side, regarding him as his equal. But it is Eleanor who holds his hands in hers as his feet touch the floor again.

 

Again, and for the last time.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A small, falling down cottage just outside a Spanish village named Abaicin, June 1716

“Are you singing?” Charles asked, his disbelief clear.

“No, of course not.” James replied, then felt himself blush a little when he realised that, yes, he had in fact been singing. We’ll roll the old chariot along… Thankfully Charles said nothing more on the matter. That was until, of course, Thomas staggered out of bed and joined them.

“Did you know that your husband can sing?” Was the first thing out of Charles’ mouth. Thomas hadn’t even sat down at the table yet.

“No, no I did not. I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure.”

The porridge was well and truly done now, but James just knew that if he turned around he’d be confronted by two expectant looks and he was never ever going to sing again. He stirred the porridge a few more times, just to be contrary then, hoping his silence spoke for him, turned and placed breakfast on the table.

They were both smirking at him of course, but Thomas thankfully started speaking about some finer point of pirate lore with Charles, and James was left in peace.

 

–----

Nassau, 15 months later…

If he had stopped to think about it, having a motley assortment of pirates, former Lords and the Queen of the slave resistance in his kitchen might have given him pause, but he was well used to absurdity by now.

“To Max!” Julius was toasting - his seventh such toast to members of their group, “to her cunning!”

“TO MAX!” Ten variously drunk people chorused, although he was sure that Anne and Madi were still stone cold sober despite the amount of spirits they’d imbibed and their, comparably,  diminutive size. Max herself had begged off their celebration, but the others had been happy to drink he and Thomas out of their not inconsiderable stores of spirit. John and Charles had added a jug of rum each, and here they were. Thomas was talking animatedly with Jake; Eme was sat with Madi and Anne; Jack was talking with Charles and John, although only John seemed to be listening; and Julius was toasting everyone he had spoken to in the last six months.

“To Anne and her swords!” He announced, and everyone drank enthusiastically, partly, he imagined, on account of the fact that Anne and her swords were sat in the same room as them.

“James should sing.” Charles said to the room, who were drunk enough to salute anything at this stage of the evening.

Unfortunately, John chose that moment to attack.

“Yes, Captain - how about Roll the Chariot?”

“I don’t know that one,” Madi added from across the room, “would you sing it for us?”

Sometimes, he reflected, he deeply regretted introducing Madi to Thomas: they seemed to have a knack for taking turns at using gross emotional manipulation on him.

“I’ll start us off,” Jack volunteered, and launched into the tune.

Oh, we’d be alright if the wind was in our sails

We’d be alright if the wind was in our sails

We’d be alright if the wind was in our sails

And we’ll all hang on behind…

And we’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

We’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

We’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

And we’ll all hang on behind!

The little house was filled with the sound of their voices, Thomas laughingly trying to guess the lyrics and Anne smiling to herself in the corner by the fire. Madi joined in quickly, and Charles’ deep baritone was a nice counterpoint to John’s terrible tone deafness. Julius was, surprisingly, next to lead, and his chosen lyrics had everyone standing and stamping in time with the rhythm:

Oh, we’ll be alright once we’ve killed the slavers dead

We’ll be alright once we’ve killed the slavers dead

We’ll be alright once we’ve killed the slavers dead

And we’ll all hang on behind….

And we’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

We’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

We’ll ro-o-oll the old chariot along!

And we’ll all hang on behind!

Everyone, even Anne and Eme were singing at that point, and James gave up any attempt at dignity and sang as loudly as he could, their voices mingling to shake the very rafters.

 

 

Chapter Text

When she had been young and headstrong, Awa had told her father that she had seen the man she was going to marry as she walked to a neighbour’s house with her mother. As the daughter of one of the most respected men in the kòmò, it was not her place to choose her husband, especially when her choice was a humble tradesman, no matter how pretty he was. But she had been determined, and her eldest brother had supported her. Her father had laughed at her at first, but he had eventually given in. She would marry Elhajj Messaoud, and he told her that when she was poor, she would regret it.

 

Now, some thirty years later, she sometimes thinks of telling her father that he was wrong all those years ago, that she had made a good choice in her husband, perhaps the best choice. It did not feel as satisfying as she thought it would.

 

When she had been 18 there had been a second uprising in Jenne against the Saadi governors, and her father had been implicated as agitating on behalf of the Dendi Kingdom. The whole family was taken into slavery as punishment.

 

Elhajj had whispered to her that first night as she had cried, he had told her they would buy their freedom, and she had believed him. Why would she not? All her life she had known slaves, and all her life she had known this truth: your freedom could be earnt. Was that not just? To come into another tribe, as the spoils of conflict, yet be able to work towards your own freedom? But white men were not just, and there had been no pathway to liberty.

 

“Did you ask him?” She had asked her husband the first day in their new master’s house, “Did you ask the man the price for our freedom?”

 

“I asked.” Elhajj had replied, but would say no more.

 

For years she had thought he had simply named a sum to high to ever be repaid: it had not occurred to her that there was no escape for them.

 

He had found a way though, this good man whom she loved so much. This man who had hidden two water skins under his clothes before they had been loaded onto filthy ships and taken to the New World; who had held her hand as she sweated and cursed her way through the birth of their daughter; who had comforted her when their masters had forbidden them to pray to their god.


“You are so brave.” He had said to her, before he died. It was he who was brave though, and his strength allowed her to be strong. Elhajj had fought to save her and their daughter, so she had fought to save her island of people; and now, at this very moment, their daughter was fighting to save the whole world.

 

Chapter Text

Abigail had met many types of women in her short life. First, she had only met the type of women that she was to grow into herself: elegant, chaste and gentle. She had of course had nannies and maids by the dozen, but she can see now that she never really known them - there had always been a sense of distance between her and those whom her father would have considered lesser. Then she had met Eleanor Guthrie, and had quickly realised that there was perhaps more to being a woman than she had been taught. Lady Miranda Hamilton as well had straddled worlds: both gentle and fierce, she had pushed out Abigail’s boundaries a little further.

 

There had been many, so many more women over the years: Max and Madi, Eme and Idelle, and they had taught her so much about both herself and the painfully limited life that she had had before Savannah, before James and Thomas had come for her.

 

But none, she felt, were more different than the woman she currently shared a table with: the pirate Anne Bonny.

 

She had come looking for Charles, of course, but he had gone out she knew not where and Thomas and James were out also, so here she was.

 

“It is quite hot, don’t you think?” She commented, in desperation. It was her sixth such attempt to make conversation, and so far she had received naught but a snort and silence in reply. She was determined though: she would be on good terms with this fearsome woman even if it was the last thing she ever did.

 

“What you doing? Why you speaking to me?” Anne sounded angry, but Abigail had heard her speak before and felt this was just her manner, so she was not deterred.

 

“I have been in Nassau for over two years and I know almost all of Thomas and James’ friends, but I know nothing about you. I would like to remedy that.”

 

Anne continued to stare at her from under her wide-brimmed hat.

 

“I wish us to get along.” She clarified.

 

She got a snort for that, and Anne tilted her hat down again and went back to ignoring her.

 

Not for the first time she thought with some no small amount of annoyance that Miss Marton’s etiquette class had not prepared her adequately for life.

 

“I never had many close female friends when I was young.” She said, once the silence had again begun to grate on her. If Anne would not talk to her, then she would talk to herself, she decided. “I always thought to have a best friend would be very pleasing, but perhaps it is best that I did not. I can’t imagine that both of us would have survived… well, it is a miracle enough that I am here now, and have my freedom. It would have been too much to expect that two would have come through unscathed, so in a way I’m glad I had no-one that I was close to when I was younger.”

 

There, that was better. She would prefer an active partner in her conversation, but she could do well enough alone. “I …” She started again, but Anne interrupted her.

 

“Had a best friend once.” She announced, to Abigail’s astonishment. So surprised was she that she forget the very first rule of conversation, and only stared instead of offering some reply. Obviously no-one had taught Anne the rules, or possibly any rules at all, so she continued, seemingly unbothered by Abigail’s rude silence.

 

“Died when we was little-uns though. I’d almost forgot.”

 

“I could be your best friend.” Abigail offered unthinkingly, and then winced inwardly.

 

She got that same unblinking stare in response, but now that she said it she could see that she would still very much like a best friend and, more that that, she would very much like Anne Bonny’s friendship.

 

“Yes. I could help you darn your clothes and you could teach me to fight,” she continued, warming to the idea, “and two heads is better than one when dealing with a drunk Charles. Yes, I think we would make excellent friends, don’t you think?”

 

Anne was still staring, but she looked a little less defensive than before, so Abigail got up and went to her room to fetch something. When she came back she held out a pair of silk stockings to Anne that she had sewn herself from the remains of a ruined dress. They were pale blue, and she had embroidered fine navy flowers along the top.

 

“Here, I will start: I made these and I think they will do very well on a ship where everything is getting so wet all the time. I imagine dry stockings are hard to come by.”

 

She held both the stockings and her smile in place until Anne hesitantly reached out and took them from her. Anne ran a finger over the embroidery for a moment, before she seemed to come to some decision: she reached down into her boot and pulled out a short, sharp blade in one smooth motion. Perhaps Abigail should have been afraid, but she knew only too well that you could not tell evil by the clothes it wore or the weapons it carried. Anne Bonny was no monster, therefore she didn’t even flinch when Anne held out the blade for her to take.

 

Abigail gripped the knife tightly in one hand, unable to stop the grin the spilled onto her lips. She nodded, and Anne nodded back.

 

Chapter Text

 

Charles snarled at him, which Jack had thought was only a literary device until he met him.

Jack sighed, not even a little intimidated after all this time. Not that Charles didn’t have a bite to go along with the bark, but Jack seemed to be the exception to his habitual violence. He leant back in with the water and wine mix.

“Hate that fucking stuff,” Charles huffed, as if sharing a dark secret. Which he was, in a way. Admitting to discomfort of any kind was a rare event.

“And I dislike having to peel you off the tavern floor on a semi-regular basis, but yet here we are and—will you stay still?” Jack added, as Charles leant over and scrabbled in his sheets until he came up with his pipe.

Jack sighed again, louder.

“Charles.”

“Yeah?” Charles replied, leaning back at an alarming angle as he searched for his flint box.

Jack knew it was hopeless—it wasn’t as if he hadn’t made the request before but, well, hopeless was his strong suit.

“Would you please put that down, just for one evening?” He asked, aware of the note of pleading that had crept into his voice.

Charles regarded him for a moment with the seriousness of the very drunk, then he carefully put the pipe on the table next to him and slumped forward, hands dangling between his knees.

“Thank you,” Jack said, and dabbed again at the wound along Charles’ forehead.

Charles closed his eyes, inching further down on the stool and seemingly falling into a stupor.

Jack finished up his doctoring and helped Charles tip sideways into his nest of blankets before getting up to leave.

“Yer welcome,” Charles muttered behind him. Jack smiled to himself, and pushed out of the tent into the warm night air.

 

 

Chapter Text

Have some Joji headcannons, please excuse my patchy historical knowledge.

Joji’s grandparents were from Kyushu, Japan, and converted to Christianity when their feudal lord converted. They were not directly involved in the Shimabara Rebellion of 1638—an uprising of starving peasants who happened to be Christian—but fled Japan as policies banning Christianity were tightened. They moved to China, and eventually found work in the salt warehouses of Yangzhou.

Joji’s father was born not long after they arrived in Yangzhou, and when he was 19 he married a local woman and a few years later Joji was born. Joji’s grandfather retained his Christian faith, but his grandmother practised Shinto—passing on her beliefs to her son, who in turn passed them onto Joji.

Joji worked alongside his father in the salt trade his grandparents had worked in. He spoke Japanese and Old Mandarin and loved to hear stories from the few Rōnin who had found their way up from the port to the great trading city of Joji’s birth. As he became older he traded food and labour for lessons, and his parents were immensely proud of his skill with a sword. His katana was a gift, left to him by one of the Rōnin who had taught him so much.

His parents encouraged him to travel and he learnt to sail by accompanying the salt they sold on the Chinese junks that travelled up and down the coast.

He does speak English—and some Spanish—but he was mocked for his accent as he travelled further from China, so he isn’t fluent and prefers to keep his thoughts to himself where he can express himself fully in his native languages.

His prized possessions are his sword and the small carved shrine that had once belonged to his grandmother. He can’t remember most of the traditions any more, but he always prays on the first day of the year, and he stays up to watch the first sunrise. It’s good luck.

He had a young lover once who persuaded him to teach him a few words of Japanese (the tones in Mandarin were impossible for him to pronounce, so Joji only taught him Japanese), but he was one of the many men that boarded another ship one day and never came back.

Joji keeps his words to himself now, until he finds another worthy of them. Or until he finds someone worthy of killing him in battle, and has no breath left to speak them.

Chapter Text

 

Madi traced the brutal arc of a lash scar over his shoulder as he lay on his front, dozing in the morning light.

 

“I was glad when I first learned of how you got these,” she told him, knowing he listened. He always listened to her, no matter how awful the words she gave him. She felt as if she had been a sponge all her life, soaking up the hurt that her people offered up to her. She listened to their stories, heard their nightmares, witnessed them flinch from a slammed door or a raised voice. 

 

“I thought: here is justice,” she continued, “here is a white man who knows what it is to be a slave.”

 

“And now?” Charles asked when she didn’t go on. There was nothing in his voice but curiosity: he’d experienced worse things than any horrors she could visit upon him.

 

“Now I love you, and I would bury the men who did this to you with the men who did the same to my people.”

 

He didn’t move or acknowledge her words, but that was just his way. The first time she’d told him she loved him he’d said nothing, but two days later he’d pushed her hair back from her face and said it back, his words sincere and sure. It was the same now: they got up a short while later and continued their day, only coming back together as the last of the sun was slipping over the horizon. In the pitch dark while she lay waiting for sleep, he spoke again. 

 

“When I was small I used to dream of someone who’d save me. Sometimes it was my ma, sometimes it was one of the other men, one who wasn’t so rough. Imagined maybe he’d look over one day and say run boy and I’d race through the trees as he stopped anyone from coming after me.”

 

“When did you stop believing?” She asked.

 

She felt him shrug where he lay next to her.

 

“Don’t think I ever did. A part of me was always there, maybe always will be—waiting for a hand on my shoulder in the dark. I looked to Teach to save me, then Eleanor. You though, you make me feel like I can save myself.” 

 

“You already did,” she said, pulling him close and kissing him fiercely, “you already did.”

 

 




Chapter Text

 

The pale yellow walls of the room she had been placed in shook, dust falling from the ceiling. Miranda forced herself to her feet, swallowing down wretched nausea to walk unsteadily to the window. She could see nothing but blurred shapes through the badly blown glass. She tried to pull the window open, but it was locked just a tightly as it had been the first half dozen times she tried since she’d first awoken. She had no idea how much time had passed since she’d lain unconscious on the floor of Peter Ashe’s dining room, the sound of the ticking clock slipping away from her. The pain and the raw line to the side of her forehead showed how close she had come to death. 

 

A deep boom sounded, like the cannon of a ship, and she felt the vibrations in her bones. It should not have been a sound she welcomed, but she did because if there was anyone who had caused cannons to be shot in Charlestown, it was surely James. 

 

She thought about hammering on the door again for attention, but quickly decided it was best if everyone’s attention was elsewhere at that moment. She looked appraisingly at the door, then back at the heavy oak chair that stood by the bed. She hadn’t even taken a step towards it though when the door opened behind her. She turned sharply, only to have to put her hand on the bed post as the world continued to spin. 

 

“Miranda?” Asked a light voice.

 

Abigail put a hesitant hand on her arm while Miranda blinked at her for a moment. An almighty crash forced her back to herself, and she brought her hand up to place it over Abigail’s where she was gripping a handful of her sleeve tightly.

 

“Time to go I believe, my dear,” she said, and Abigail nodded.

 

“Follow me.”

 

They saw only one servant, who took one look at Abigail’s determination and disappeared back the way he’d come. When they stepped out of the front doors it was clear why order had broken down within the Governor's mansion: it was chaos. A cannon ball whistled high over their heads to land with a sound that was indescribably loud; a number of soldiers marched past them, some already bleeding from what appeared to be shrapnel wounds. And all around people ran and shouted, a melee of fear as they found themselves trapped in a nightmare of their own making. These people had sacrificed her freedom for the appearance of safety. They had sacrificed Thomas’ life and James’ happiness along with countless, unnamed others who had not fit into their narrow definitions of love, of civilisation . Miranda saw their fear and was wholly, viciously glad of it. 

 

“Come,” she said to Abigail, taking her hand in hers, “we must find James.”

 

They ran together towards where Miranda could hear gunshots, as she imagined that James would be wherever everyone else was running from. 

 

She had been wrong to crave a return to society, to crave companionship with those who had killed her Thomas. Too long in the wilderness had allowed her to forget the indignities she had suffered in London: a death by a thousand cuts was still death. She would not compromise again: she would have her life, culture, beauty, music and power, with James at her side once more. 

 

She would have her freedom.