When James first falls into bed with John Silver, it is very nearly exactly as he expected it to be. They are wild and fervent and fierce with each other: tearing at clothes, biting kisses into each other’s mouths, all rushing thrusts, tugs, grunts that end in messy, quick releases. All the months he spent imagining how Silver would be in matters of the flesh, he was like this, full of frantic, greedy enthusiasm. He moans for James, pants for him, rolls over for him, wants it all. Never tells him no.
The reality of it so precisely matches James's months of fantasy that it takes him some time to pay closer attention to the details.
“Do you like this?” James gasps into his ear one night, fucking Silver fast and hard over his desk.
Silver whines under him, pulls one of James's hands from where it holds his hip, and brings it round to his cock that's stiff between his legs. “Does it feel like I like it?” he grunts out, and then he squeezes his inner muscles, and James comes, quaking and arrhythmic and gone. It is only the next day that he realises Silver didn't truly answer him.
“What do you want?” James tries, the next time they are together. He is rubbing the heel of one hand over Silver’s very hard cock while the other traps Silver’s wrists behind his back. “What do you want?” he says again when Silver only pants for breath in response. Silver says nothing. “Do you want me to reach into your trousers and stroke you until you spend?”
“Yes,” Silver moans.
“Do you want to face the wall while I slick you up and fuck you?”
“Do you want me to tease you on my fingers and see if you can come without a touch to your prick?”
“Fuck!” Silver groans. “Please.”
Through lust and dedication, James manages all three that night. It is gratifying, but when the lecherous fog has left him, he thinks on how Silver never quite said what he wanted at all.
It goes on like that for some weeks. James is so caught up in the haze of bodily pleasures Silver has reintroduced to his life, that the pattern dawns upon him only slowly. Silver swarms so eagerly to his every suggestion and sates him so well that he is slow to realise Silver never asks anything of him. He offers only ever those acts James has previously suggested. He will take either part in their coupling, but always at James's urging, and he avoids all opportunity to call for his own desires. Silver is an undeniably talented lover who reads James's body so well that it has seemed as though they are synchronised in this as in all other things. Only, while their shared mind for piracy has been borne of hard-won, reciprocated trust, when it comes to matters of the flesh, it is always, always James who determines the course of their joining.
Once James reaches this conclusion, he feels sullied and selfish. The whole affair feels tainted, as though Silver were merely some strumpet to make use of and discard. He does not feel that way towards Silver. Not anymore.
“I want to give you what you want tonight,” he tries one evening as they lie kissing in his lamplit cabin. Silver is flushed beneath him, hair a nest of sable tangles round his clutching hands and shirt rucked up to bare his firm, hot belly. Silver quirks one brow up at him, then looks pointedly down at the place where their cocks rub deliciously between their bodies.
But tonight, James will not be deterred. “Yes, I know you like this,” he says, with a slow drag of his hips for emphasis that draws a lovely, broken sound out of Silver’s open mouth. “I know many things you like,” he goes on. “But tonight I want to give you what you ask for.”
Silver grins a shark-toothed grin and asks, saucily, “Ah, so you want me to beg. I’m sure you can make–”
“No,” James stops him before the image of Silver begging him for pleasure threatens to distract him. “I don’t want to make you do anything tonight. I want you to tell me what you’d like me to do, and I’ll do it. Gladly.”
Silver frowns. “Do you think I don't like what we do?”
“Not at all,” James assures him, though it does not ease the furrow from his brow. “I merely want– well, I suppose I want to know that– dammit, why are you making this so fucking complicated?”
It is as though he has struck Silver a blow. He startles violently, looking absolutely wretched for an instant before his face smoothes over into obsequious solicitude. “There now, Captain,” he smiles, falsely bright. “I’ll not make anything complicated for you. Nothing at all.” He bursts into a flurry of motion, stripping his shirt over his head and putting frantic hands to James's shoulders, then his face, his neck, his back. “Come here and let me make you feel good,” he says, tugging at James as he tries to roll them over on the cot.
James is having none of it. “Stop it!” he cries, horrified by this sudden attitude of servility. He holds Silver’s hands away from his body and sits up. Though his grip is light, Silver visibly flinches from him. “For God’s sake, you’re not my whore.”
Silver pulls free from his hold and scrambles away. James, bewildered, can do nothing but sit back to give him room. He grabs for his discarded shirt and mumbles a tight, “I’ll go,” that James can barely hear for how Silver has ducked his head down and away.
James is confused and frustrated, but he knows the last thing he ever wants is Silver gone from his side.
“If you want to go, I’ll not keep you here,” James says, as carefully as he can. “I said I’d give you what you want tonight, and if what you want is to leave, then I’ll abide by my word. But John,” and the unexpected use of his forename stills Silver’s movement, “I’d much prefer you stay and tell me what I’ve done that’s dismayed you so. I don’t want to dismay you. I only want to understand so I won’t repeat my error in future”
Silver stops fumbling for his single boot and turns a confused look over his shoulder at James. “In future?” he repeats.
James nods. “Just so.”
“Then you’re not… done? With me?” Silver asks hesitantly.
James experiences a bulldog urge to gather Silver up in a great rush of protective affection. But Silver looks leery as a powder monkey seeing his first action, and James ruthlessly quashes his instinct. “No, I’m not done with you,” he says with quiet sincerity. “You’re dear to me. I’d hardly throw you over for one moment of miscommunication.”
He reaches out slowly, giving Silver all the time in the world to move away. When he doesn’t, James tucks a curl behind Silver’s ear from where it's fallen in his face. Silver accepts the tender little touch with a relieved sigh.
“I’m sorry,” he says, shoulders still hunched.
“I need no apologies,” James reassures him. “Can you give me an explanation?”
Silver fascinates himself with the rough edge of James's blanket. His mouth works, but he says nothing.
James knows what to do with this. When he and Miranda seemed unable to speak a single kind thing to each other, he could still brush her hair wordlessly and she would sigh at the tenderness and let him sleep beside her that night. When Thomas was too worn from a day of stubbornly arguing in the face of his father’s unrelenting coldness to carry on any further conversation, he still liked to rest his head on James’s shoulder as James curled an arm about him in silence.
Now, James eases himself down to lie back and opens his arms to Silver. He gets only a moment of uncertain wariness before Silver gingerly lowers himself to tuck into James’s chest. James circles him with one loose arm and lets his right leg dangle to the floor to push them into gentle motion, rocking the suspended cot as they lie in the quiet of their shared breathing and the waves lapping against the hull outside the window.
"This is what people want from me,” Silver says into the stillness a few minutes later.
James knows his part and so says nothing, but continues rocking them with the toe of his boot.
Silver sighs into James’s chest and goes on. “I am a clever pastime, I know, and I can suss out what someone wants from their bedsport and provide it well. I thought I was doing that for you. You wanted with such a hunger.” He lifts up on one elbow to—finally—look James in the face. “Have you had anyone since Thomas Hamilton? Was Mrs. Barlow not…?”
James has been a great fool. “We should have spoken about all of this before now,” he starts. “You are the first person I have lost myself with since Thomas, yes. Miranda and I were too twisted round with guilt and loss to bring each other real pleasure, though we did try for a while.”
“And you had no… er… paid company?” It is perhaps the most awkward James has ever heard Silver sound.
“I tried, once,” James says. “In Tortuga, when I’d first come into my captaincy.” There is no need to lay out just how terribly unsuccessful that encounter had been. He settles for, “It was unsatisfying, and I made no repeat attempt.”
“Until me,” Silver adds with an ugly, self-deprecating laugh.
“Hear me now,” James insists, sitting up and bringing a hand to lay along the side of Silver’s terribly unsure face. “You are no disposable baggage. You are not a whore. You are not a pastime. I want to be your lover, not merely some brute of a man who lusts after your body. Yes, you are very handsome, and I know you know it and how to use that to your advantage. But I have come to care for you a great deal, and… and I want to be good to you. Please, John. Please let me.”
Silver looks at him, so young and so wary and yes, so goddamn beautiful, and it’s positively criminal that no one has ever taken proper care of him before.
“How would you do that?” Silver asks.
James brings his other hand to rest on Silver’s other cheek, holding his face softly between hands that have done such dreadful things to so very many people. “However you would like me to,” he says. “I’ll touch you in the ways that bring you the most pleasure. I’ll put my hands anywhere you want them. And my mouth, if it would please you. And my cock, if you want it.” He hears Silver’s sharp intake of breath. Good. “Let me be clear,” he continues, voice pitched low, “I always want to make you feel good, John. I always want to make you come harder than you thought yourself capable of. That needn’t be only from rough treatment. I already know fucking you hard and fast gets you off. I already know how you respond to bites and bruises. I know you know how to enjoy ferocity. What I wonder is how you enjoy gentleness. I’d like the chance to learn that, if you’ll let me. If you want me to try.”
Silver’s breathing has quickened, and James guides him to sit astride his lap, holding more of his weight on the left to keep pressure off his stump. He urges Silver’s hips against his, rocking them together. He can feel Silver’s cock growing thick inside his trousers.
Silver groans, twisting his hips and burying his face in James’s neck.
“No one has treated me gently,” he breathes into James’s skin.
“In how long?” James asks, swiveling Silver’s hips in his hands to press them together at a new angle.
Silver bites out a sweet, sharp cry before giving an answer that near breaks James’s heart. “You mistake me. No one has ever treated me gently. I did not know it was a thing men could be with one another.”
James nudges Silver’s face up with one hand. “I would like to be the person to correct that great tragedy.” He flickers a lick across Silver’s gorgeous mouth. “Do you want to help me?”
Silver whimpers, nods, and dives for James’s mouth.
He is desperate about it from the start, and James gentles him back with one hand on his jaw. “Easy,” he soothes. “Easy now.” He kisses softly at Silver’s lips: top, then bottom, playing his tongue lightly over them. Silver groans into him, but doesn’t try a second time to speed the kiss. “Yes, that’s it,” James presses his praise against Silver’s soft mouth. “That’s it exactly, my darling. Such a clever, beautiful darling you are. Do you want me to kiss you? How shall I kiss you?”
And now Silver is with him and understands and says, “Yes. Yes, kiss me sweetly,” and James does, and Silver melts in close for him. He gives himself up to James, and their kisses slide deeper and longer like drowning in honey in the sun.
“Beautiful boy,” James murmurs. “What can I give you?”
Silver says nothing for a moment as James keeps on sipping at his mouth. Just as James is worried all his convincing is going to fail here right as they’re beginning, Silver puts his mouth to James’s ear and whispers, hesitantly, “I want your skin on my skin.”
James responds by dragging off first his own shirt, then Silver’s, before pulling him back down, closer now so their bare bodies skid against each other in the sweat they’ve both raised. Silver purrs at the contact and reaches for James’s trousers with a, “More” that James could never possibly resist. He lets Silver open his trousers and reach inside for James’s awakening cock, wrapping his hand around it to stroke, at which point James interjects with,
“Is it what you want to pull me off?”
Silver freezes. “Do you not like–“ but James cuts him off again.
“It is no matter what I like, right now,” he says, gentle but brooking no dissent. “What do you want?”
“I… I don’t know,” Silver says quietly, and James aches for how genuinely perplexed he sounds.
“Perhaps it is easier to think of what we have not done together that yet appeals to you,” he prompts.
Silver is silent so long, James worries that this will not work, and then Silver nearly whispers, “I want to look at you.”
“Of course,” James answers. “Like this?” nodding down at Silver sitting in his lap.
“No,” Silver says. “I want… I want to see all of you.”
James eases Silver off him to lean over and pull off his boots, then his trousers and smallclothes until he stands bare beside the bed. He moves to return to it, but Silver stills him with a shy gesture and a, “Would you stay just like that for a moment?”
James acquiesces, and Silver’s eyes roam over his body, drinking him in greedily with their wide and artless blue. “You’re so strong,” he murmurs as his gaze darts across James’s chest and arms. “So broad. So much thicker than I am. I like it.” It sounds a bit as though he’s discovering these things for himself as they come out of his mouth. “Would you turn round?” he asks.
James turns so his back is presented to Silver, perched on the cot. He cannot help but crane his head over one shoulder to watch. Silver reaches out one tentative hand and asks, as tentative in word as action, “Can I touch you?”
“Please do,” James says. “I like your touch.”
Silver glances up at his face and smiles a shaky laugh of a smile, then brings his fingertips to James’s shoulder where he strokes over the skin in caresses like a flutter of butterflies.
“Freckles?” James guesses. He’s some idea, after all, of what his lovers like about his body.
“Freckles,” Silver confirms. “There’re so many of them.” He sounds entranced. “And then they fade,” as he runs his hand down James’s back to his arse. “And here you’re so pale.” He strokes James, who hums at the feel of it. Which reminds him,
“You may keep touching me if you like, but do you have other wants I can see to for you?”
This time, Silver does not hesitate at the cue. “I want to be naked under you.” He raises his head to look at James, and his eyes have gone dark and witchy with want. James groans aloud, aroused as much by Silver’s gentle exploration as by the desire he is evincing. He turns once more to the bed and waits for Silver to strip off his own trousers before climbing back on. Silver lies back, and James holds himself up on his arms for a moment, teasing, until Silver pulls at his shoulders with both hands and brings all the length of their bodies into touch with each other.
They both groan this time, James wordlessly and Silver with a long, sighing, “Oh, yes” that sounds like a sweet, fair wind in James’s ear.
“You are naked under me, I believe,” James smiles down at Silver’s open face. He rubs his hips over Silver’s and delights in the choking moan he gets in response. “How else can I please you?”
Silver bites his lower lip, which is entirely unfair to James’s attempts at restraint. “This,” he pants. “Just this for a moment.” And it is no burden for James to continue the rhythmic slide and press of their bodies, to revel in how soft and firm and smooth is Silver’s skin, in how hard his cock is already. He watches as Silver tosses his head on the pillow, feels how tightly his fingers dig into James’s hips, how they slide up his back to pull him down, bring him closer.
“You love this, don’t you?” he asks, delighted by just how much Silver is enjoying this simple rubbing of skin against skin.
“Yes,” Silver moans back. “Only– oh, that’s good– only…”
“Only what, my beauty? Anything you ask,” James says.
Silver gasps at the endearment, then manages, “Kiss me.”
James obeys. He kisses Silver’s seeking mouth with a deep, slow thoroughness that brings a chorus of whimpers and moans and half-words from the man beneath him. Here is a man who has done a whole host of positively obscene things to and with and upon and inside James’s body—not to mention what James has done to him—and he is falling to pieces for kisses and basic, animal friction.
It makes that protectiveness rise in James that wants to wrap round Silver and bark ferociously at anyone who tries to come near. He wants to gather him in with all the muscle and strength he possesses, and how dare the people who’ve come before him not have known what they had when they had this canny, marvelous creature twisting hedonistically beneath them.
“Love you over me,” says the man in question, and James snaps focus back to Silver and lets the bulldog in his chest subside. Instead he listens to what Silver says, and what he does not say. Silver, whose eyes keep flicking to the broadness of James’s chest and whose hands return to the span of his shoulders.
“You enjoy that I’m bigger than you?” he asks, and Silver nods vigourously in response.
James takes that in and, well, he looms. He lifts up on his elbows over Silver, spreads his arms wide as he can, hunches forward as far as possible without breaking the rhythm their hips have found together.
Silver trembles. “Yes,” he sighs as though a great weight has been lifted from him. “Take me over until I don’t have to see or feel or think of anything but you.” He curls himself in, contained within the bounds of James’s body, touching all the places in James’s chest and arms where the muscles stand taut to keep him in position. There is a softness, a relaxation in Silver’s face that James has never seen before.
“You like that, hm?” James asks, voice slipping deep as he watches Silver begin to truly let go.
“Yes!” Silver exhales. “Yes, oh God, it’s good.” His hips, one place he is anything but relaxed, writhe under James like a tempest. “Kiss,” he demands again, so James does, leaning down to slide their mouths together until he must break away for air.
Silver whines. “Your mouth,” he cries, and James thinks he wants to be sucked. Only, as James moves to comply, Silver whines again in protest and holds James hard about the shoulders, keeping him in place. “No,” he says. “Stay up here. Just… fuck, just…” he is losing words in his pleasure, and it is intoxicating.
“Anything you ask,” James says again. “My mouth where?” But Silver can only whimper and pull James’s head down to his neck. “Ah,” James understands. “Just keep my mouth on your skin, is that it?”
Silver nods fervently and moans in relief as James plies his tongue along the sweat and corded tendons standing out in gorgeous relief along Silver’s golden throat. He laps into the dip at the base of Silver’s neck, where the wings of his delicate collarbones join together. Silver calls out beneath him. James answers by skating his mouth along the muscles of Silver's chest. Silver moans like it’s the best thing he’s ever had.
When James glances down between their thrusting hips, he sees Silver’s cock, hard and dark and urgent-looking. He’s spilled what seems a lake of fluid across his stomach, leaking steadily now as it all smears wet and viscous between their heaving bellies. “Look how good this is making you feel,” James croons.
Silver looks down and nods. “Yeah,” he says, then lifts James’s chin with a needy hand. “Kiss,” he insists, and James is only too happy to comply.
“You want closeness and kissing,” he murmurs into Silver’s mouth, “then I’ll give you as much of them as you like.”
Silver mmmms into him and gasps back, “Good… close… safe,” and then goes rigid beneath James, frozen with his eyes closed and his hands clutching at James's back. His mouth opens soundlessly beneath James’s own, and his hips are the only motion in his body as they buck again and again, his cock spurting hot and slick between them.
It awes James to be the one who has roused John Silver to transports this ecstatic.
It awes him, and it makes him so fucking hard.
So when John finally opens his eyes to gasp, “Now you. Finish on me," it is as though the gates are all thrown open on James’s arousal.
It rushes through him in a flood and speeds his hand on his cock as he braces one-armed over John. John, who still heaves for his breath, whose hair is snarled and stuck against the sweat on his brow, who is golden and gorgeous and covered in streaks of his own spend that James brought him to simply by treating him like the beloved partner that he is. His hand flies, squeezing just right, and then the lightning sizzles through him and he grunts a hard, “Ah!” and his hips spasm mindlessly as he watches jet after jet of his own release fall across John's glistening, heated skin.
Once he’s come, all the strength vanishes from his arms, and he slumps atop John, both of them breathing ragged, steadily calming until James can shift some of his weight to the side and look John in the face. After this, he’s not sure he’ll ever think of him as ’Silver’ in his head again. He looks every bit as spent as on any of the nights they’ve indulged in their accustomed vigourous play. He also looks suspiciously sheepish.
“So,” he says, with a hangdog self-mockery that sounds a great deal too much like shame for James’s liking. “Apparently, tonight we've learned that I don’t need any real fucking at all and that I’m so easily undone by ridiculous child’s play that I’ll spend before anyone’s cock goes near anyone’s arse."
James catches John's chin in his fingers so he can’t look away from James's adamant, earnest reply. “I don’t know whose bed you were just in, but that’s not at all what I learned tonight. For the first part, you found release at my doing and I found release at yours, and that’s the best definition of ‘real fucking’ that I know, so no more of that. For the second part, I've learned that what you want from me is sweet touches and protection and a surfeit of kissing, and those are all well within my purview as your lover, so I’ll gladly give you those things whenever you like.”
John flushes rosy and tries to duck his head, but James keeps a hand at his chin and ducks right along with him and goes on. “There is nothing unmanly about wanting to have someone else take care with you, and anyone who ever showed you otherwise was wrong about it. Do you hear me?”
John looks at him, bashful and unsure, from under his lashes, and the bulldog inside James growls for a moment. “I mean it,” James insists. “If it makes you feel good and everyone’s willing and no one’s harmed, how can it be ugly? It certainly wasn’t ugly when you looked like an angel, debauched. And it certainly wasn’t ugly when it made me come nearly as fast as you did.”
At that, John gives a little grin. A mere shade of his usual, but there nevertheless.
“All right,” he mutters. James well knows it’s not that simple, but John is happy and sticky and sated in his arms, and that’s no bad way to end a day. John looks up at him with a growing smile. “But only so long as you’ll still give me the rough way sometimes, too,” he says. "It’s not as though I’ve only been pretending to like that.”
James buries one hand into John's riot of wayward curls and smiles back. “I don’t think I’m capable of resisting you like that, and I haven’t any reason to try, now do I?”
John shakes his head, tugging purposefully against James’s hold in his hair. He likes his hair pulled, and he knows James knows it.
“Sleep, you wicked, beautiful thing,” James laughs. “If you want more rough fucking, we need rest.”
John sighs, broad as a player, and says, “All right, old man. I’ll let you regain your strength.”
James swats at his hip, then shuffles about to curl behind the warm, lean length of him. The bulldog settles in to guard its territory, and James drifts off with his heart in his arms.