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Chapter Text

The dusky light is soft as day sounds ease into quiet.

This between hour has become the agreed upon time for honesty between two once-scheming pirates. An improbable tradition for improbable men.

“You understand I could not see you exiling me to a labour camp as an act of love," says one.

The other nods. "And you understand taking you captive utterly broke my heart."

"Yuh," grunts the first. "I know you love me now."

The second man smiles, sweet and fresh. "As I trust you'll keep my heart whole."

They clasp hands and sit quietly as evening comes on.

Chapter Text

Thomas Hamilton's had many delightful surprises, but this is his new favourite.

“Is there a reason you’re naked in my bed?”

It is James, in Thomas’s sheets, presenting such fair, freckled skin that Thomas is put in mind of his frequent phantsies. James goes blushful.

“Do you not want…?”

“I do want,” Thomas hastens to assure him. “Very much. I am merely surprised.”

His heart jerks at James’s pleased, crooked smile. “It seemed time to move things along,” says James. “Between us,” he adds when Thomas only gapes.

“Forgive me, but I thought you’d never…” Thomas trails off dumbly.

James laughs outright. “I’ve lived my life in the Navy.” He cocks one russet brow.

Thomas chuckles ruefully. “Of course. And here I’ve been deferring to your modesty.”

“No such virtue at sea,” James shrugs. He turns aside the bedclothes.

Fair. Freckles.

Apparently Thomas's phantsies needn’t be only fanciful after all.

Chapter Text

James wakes to bright, white light. And Thomas.

“Is this heaven?” he croaks, bewildered.

Thomas’s face has lines that are new. “You’re in my cabin in Savannah,” he says. “You fainted… straight into my arms. You know, if you wanted my attention you didn’t have to go to such extremes.” His cheekiness is familiar.

James touches those sun-etched lines. His hand remembers gentle. “You’re real,” he manages. “You’re still so beautiful.”

Thomas flattens James’s palm to his cheek. It’s wet. “You’re still my handsome sailor.”

They stare a moment longer, then Thomas grins. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Chapter Text

“Forgive me, my Lord, but this strains propriety, even for you.”

Thomas Hamilton wears nothing but a draped cloth, short well beyond immodesty. It makes James's heart thump with discomfort he is loathe to examine.

“Come, lieutenant.” Hamilton adjusts the wreath of gilt leaves atop his bare head. “The ball’s mythology themed. Greek gods hardly wore breeches and stockings.”

James swallows. “And the paint’s supposed to go where?” He brandishes the tin Hamilton’s handed him.

The man grins, a devilish thing. “Wherever you'd like.”

James can feel his cheeks glow. This golden nobleman will be the death of him yet.

Chapter Text

James McGraw playing with a toddler may well kill Thomas.

He stepped out of Peter’s study to send Miranda word that they’ll work through supper. He returned to find James, repeatedly ducking below the desk, then popping back up with a Peekaboo, to delighted giggles from Peter’s daughter, perched on her father’s knee.

Seeing Thomas in the doorway, James abruptly, awkwardly rises.

Abigail, however, is far from finished. “Boo!” she demands, and when James hesitates to comply, adds “Boo!”

“You heard the lady,” Thomas prods, and appreciates the doorframe’s support as the lieutenant flushes rosy and returns to the game.

Chapter Text

“...and then you took my ship, and I became your cook.”

Flint stares across the fire. “That’s your past?”

John nods. His heart’s in his throat, the rum to wash it back down gone.

Flint rubs his beard in his agitated way. “When we sparred, you refused me this. Why tell me now?”

He answers true. “I would have honesty between us. You shared the road you’ve traveled to come here. I offer mine.”

Flint grins, sparkish and sharp. “And—honestly—you’ll be my end?”

“Yes,” John mutters. “Well...”

But Flint leans in and stops John’s mouth with his own.

Chapter Text

“I’ve seen the way you look at me when you think I don’t notice, Captain.” It is the Maroon princess, who has—again—taken James unawares.

“It is like the way you look at John,” she continues, assured, confident.

James strives for calm and feels anything but. “Which is how, pray tell?”

“With respect,” she answers. He nods. That’s safe. “With admiration.” Another nod. “Sometimes with desire, I think.”

He tries to remain stoic, but she sees something in him, because she clicks her tongue and says, “Why is desire of such concern for men? It does not concern me if you desire John or myself.”

She gives him an appraising gaze, foot to head. “In fact, should you like to explore further—with John or myself—I would not be averse.”

Now he is sure he fails at stoicism. “I– I am–“

“Yes, Captain,” she smirks, “You certainly are.”

Chapter Text

The sun sets orange–red–purple–dark on their first night reunited.

The sweat of love cools across them both. John supposes it is, in fact, the sweat of love mixed with anger and fear and longing and sweet resolution like rain on drought-blighted earth. To have this man in his arms has made him melodramatic.

“I wish never to be parted from you,” James whispers. It seems John is not the only one afflicted with melodrama.

“You needn’t be,” he assures James. “Our parting was my fault, and I’ll be damned if I make the same mistake twice.”

Chapter Text

 They exit the Hamiltons’ carriage into torrential rain that soaks them both in seconds. Add this to the tawdry soliloquy Thomas delivered in the carriage about his evening plans, and James is understandably impatient to be inside.

On achieving the threshold, however, he realises that Thomas has stopped under the drenching sky. The madman turns his face up and laughs just as thunder crashes, stunning the air.

“What on earth are you doing?” James calls.

“Why, enjoying glorious nature, lieutenant,” Thomas answers.

James sighs and forges back from the harbouring doorstep into the hammering downpour. His coat will be hours drying. Thomas’s wig may be done for.

“Thomas,” he says quietly as he approaches close. “You’ve just spent the ride from Peter’s telling me in great detail how you’d like to be fucked in your warm, dry bed.” That pulls Thomas’s attention from the rain. “And now that we’re here, and I’m stiff in my trousers, and your bed is quite near, now we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm and you want to stop and feel the rain?”

Thomas appears flushed. “Well, when you frame the issue in such persuasive fashion.” He grins and gestures James towards the house.

Chapter Text

Silver stares, eyes owl wide and tongue—for once—mouse quiet.

Fool, he curses himself. He wants to scream, or flee. Or weep. He’d been so certain of Silver’s affections, of their laden looks, their mutual trust, their partnership.

But his kiss has not been welcomed, and little’s more definitive than a kiss unreturned.

“Apologies,” he grits out, and turns to escape those round blue eyes.

His wrist is grabbed before he can retreat. Silver’s face opens wide and wondrous as the horizon. He smiles shyly, earnest like Flint’s never seen, and tugs Flint back in with a gentle hand.

Chapter Text

“I’ve found something of yours.” John thuds a red leather-bound book to the table. 

Meditations. James believed it lost to the water years back. He’d mourned it, last trace of Thomas’s hand. Only then Thomas was returned to him, hand and heart, whole. By this man.

“Where...?” He stops. It hardly matters where. John has always done this, found and returned what James has lost. Pages, lovers, happiness, peace.

“Thank you,” he says, simply, kissing John’s hand. “For bringing back all my treasures.”

And John Silver, villain of the New World, smiles sweet and answers, “Anything for those we love.”

Chapter Text

John wonders what tales the future will tell of this moment. He doesn’t know. All he knows is his heart: rabbiting away in his chest. Is Flint’s eyes: angry or curious or something John doesn’t dare hope for.

It’s like the aftermath of a fired pistol. The bullet’s out into the world. No calling it back.

Which is how John is with his captain. With all they’ve done and been to each other.

So he's spoken his love out into the world. And he awaits the response, knowing whatever comes next decides how the story of them will be told.

Chapter Text

“What are you scheming?” Silver asks, lying beside him in the golden afternoon light.

“Nothing,” he answers.

“Truly?” Silver’s voice drips suspicion.

“I swear,” Flint sighs.

“I’ve seen you swear and be forsworn.”

“I’ll not be forsworn this time. There’s no scheme.”

Silver rises to one elbow, disturbing Flint's drowsy peace. “I'm to trust that Captain Flint's energy is bent on... nothing?"

“Mother of Christ, you shit,” Flint groans. “Can't I lie quietly with a man I love in my arms!?”

He doesn't regret the outburst when Silver's Oh comes so small and sweet and he turns so fetchingly pink.

Chapter Text

John Silver likes discovery but this really is a bit much.

There should be nothing appealing about a man beating another man to bloody, ignominious death with his bare hands. And yet. 

And yet, here is this pirate captain, this Flint who’s been nothing but a mark. Who’s fighting with an essential, elemental fury so raw it approaches divine grace. Who’s proving precisely how dangerous he is.

Silver feels a swoop in his belly, a fire under his skin. Somehow, what he wants, unbelievably stupidly, is to take this Flint to bed.

This is such a bad idea.

He grins.

Chapter Text

“How shall we observe Hallowtide?” John asks, flushed with autumnal chill. 

James has given it little thought and says as much while John settles beside him.

He thinks to tease John for false protestations of devotion either Christian or pagan, until John says, quiet and somber, “I plan to give thanks. When we were apart, I was a haunted creature who cried to rival the sea. I’m glad to have my beloved dead returned.”

What can he say to that?

“You great fool,” he manages, throat gone tight.

“You love this fool,” John smiles.

He is, of course, entirely correct.

Chapter Text

The Maroon queen’s birthday comes just as the Walrus men have recovered enough to celebrate. They are invited to feast and, inevitably, to dance. 

When called to join, John achieves some halting, jerking movement, aware of the value in observing protocol. He’s grateful when Flint joins him, supporting his weakened side, aid masked by celebration.

“Thank you,” John breathes.

Flint shrugs and says, “I dance with you tonight, we make revolution tomorrow.” His voice is gruff but his face soft.

“That you dance with me tonight gives me purpose to make tomorrow’s revolution.”

Flint smiles. Something new inside John glows.

Chapter Text

John Silver, fucked, is gorgeous beyond James’s power of speech. He abandons himself to carnality so completely that James, in fevered ecstasy, wishes he could paint, could record John like this to look on whenever he chooses. John sighs and moans and calls for James to rock his hips faster; to ply his tongue there, oh, again; to map John’s skin with grasping hands. 

And James does it all: hands and mouth and cock. Gladly. For John, who twists so sweetly against him and whose golden skin fair glows in the silvered moonlight and who is as greedy for James as James for him.

There is the heart of it, truly.

Somehow, despite his cruelty and his coldness and the sharp-bladed horrors he’s committed in the name of an old love, James has earned this new one. This brilliant beauty, his match in every way, who wants to fight with him in battle and writhe with him in bed. John demands that James give him more and all and everything. And James gives it, and gives a turn of his hips that makes John cry out, and gives thanks to whoever is listening that life has brought him this man.

Chapter Text

John tilts his head to appreciate the... athleticism of the gifset on his dash. Definitely a keeper. He right-clicks and saves it into the rapidly growing folder labeled “Tumblr Purge Rescues”. 

James glances from his book to John’s screen and sighs. “I told you: delete your blog.”

“I will!” John groans. “It’s not like I like the blue hellsite. I just have to save the good porn gifs first.”

James snorts.

“Oh, because you never look at them,” John scoffs.

James arches a skeptical brow.

“You love the Jon Snow cosplay one,” John prods.

“Eh,” James shrugs.

“The pirate one with the antique guns.”

“Don’t really care.”

John rolls his eyes. “The one with the ginger pulling the other guy’s curls!”

“Not that hot,” James says, his mouth tugging into the tiniest of smiles.

“You heartless, remorseless, sexless–“

“I’ll show you sexless,” James growls and tackles John into the couch.

Chapter Text

“Tell me truthfully,” James murmurs, “Did you ever in your wildest imaginings see us here like this?”

His voice is so low and loyal and beloved, and John muffles a smile in his massive bundle of scarf and responds, “Squirreled away from navies and empires and pirate revolutions, keeping the Boston lighthouse lit while I knit my fingers off to keep us warm on this frigid little island? See us here like that, you mean? No, I can’t say that ever did figure in my imaginings.”

James curls his arm tighter, pulls John closer, and smiles the smile that crinkles all the fine lines beside his eyes. “I meant see us here, safe and settled and loved.”

Oh. Well that did figure in the very wildest of John’s imaginings, yes. And he stretches his cold nose out of his scarf to put his mouth on James’s and tell him so.

Chapter Text

“What’s in that head of yours?” James pries.

John with a secret is a fine sight indeed. Finer than the finest diamond brooch; finer than a shelf of leather bindings; than a fresh, clear day at sea.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” John says, eyes aglint with mischief.

“I’m to stew in my curiosity, then?” James asks, ruthlessly suppressing his lips’ desire to curl upward.

“Yes.” John is prim. “Until your birthday, I’m afraid you are.”

James sighs broadly. “Then I suppose I’ll have to find another way to pass the time.” And John laughs as he’s pulled close.

Chapter Text

It’s hardly news that Captain James Flint looks good in a white shirt.

John congratulates himself on this understatement as his Captain (in a delightful recent development, also his lover) crosses the decks.

Checking anchor cables. Assessing wind. Pirating... piratically.

Oh, who the fuck cares what he’s doing when his trousers cling so and his belt encircles him and he turns ‘til the breeze billows that bright shirt about him like the caress John should be giving and–

“Captain! A word? In your cabin?”

Because the one way Flint looks better than in a white shirt is out of it.

Chapter Text

John’s warm skin and muscle writhes against him beneath thin fabric. Their embrace is lustful, but also, James thinks—before the thought flies from him at a particular turn of hips—a place of true satisfaction. A surcease of the sadness James had come to expect as his life’s lot.

“Should you be curious,” John grins at him, repeating that turn of hips, “that is not a banana in my pocket.”

James laughs, startled and smitten and sharp. “I love you,” he mouths against John’s lips. And though he gives the words no volume, he knows John hears them nevertheless.

Chapter Text

James loves words, yet cannot find the right ones for John. It is a private challenge he sets himself: make an orderly description of the disorderly, indescribable emotions the man evokes in him.

The concussive vacuum in the instant after cannonfire.

The sleek, purring pleasure of sensual satisfaction.

The elusive, mutable essence of van Helmont’s gas.

He keeps a journal of these fragments. Has done for years. Since long before John was his lover, his destruction, his salvation. His partner.

Someday, perhaps, he’ll share said journal with said partner. Today, though, he’ll keep coaxing the words to come just right.

Chapter Text

John is a terrible nuisance when ailing. James removes the wet cloth from his warm brow, and is met with,

“Cruel! Practically in the coffin, and my love has no compassion for me."

James suppresses the reflexive smile at ‘love’ and wets a second, cooler cloth as John carries on.

“Woe, I shall cross the bridge into death, unmourned and forgot."

This, though, roughs raw.

“John.” He twitches at how his voice—aimed to soothe—comes gruff. “You’ve a minor ague. You’ll be better soon. Perhaps less reference to our more… distressing years."

John grunts an only-slightly-chastised acknowledgement. “I suppose,” he murmurs, “you might return me to health.” Then, more quietly, “And mourn me if not.”

James places the refreshed cloth on his head. “You know I would, you little shit.” It comes out unbearably fond, and James flushes, glad John has already drifted back into healing sleep.

Chapter Text

James likes his simple homespun. He doesn’t miss the stiff Navy togs, nor the showier fashions he’d worn as Flint, all selling images of himself that never sat easily.

He does miss the rings they took from him in Georgia, all those years gone. Misses the fiddling focus they gave his anxious hands.

John seems to like taking that focus, these days. Butts his head into James’s shoulder seeking attention, purrs when James strokes his hair, his neck, his–

“What’s this?” An unfamiliar silver chain rounds John's so-familiar neck, catching the fireplace’s glow. James makes to pull it free, but John stays his hand and flushes a thrilling, ruddy hue.

“Don’t laugh,” he says, strangely bashful. “Or yell.” James’s curiosity is truly piqued as John withdraws his hand, and James withdraws the necklace to find…

He doesn’t want to laugh, nor yell, when he sees his old rings dangling from John’s chain.

When John peers up and breathes I kept them. Thought they were all I’d ever have left of you, James mainly wants to weep.

When he adds, heartstrong as anything, I’m so glad I was wrong, all James wants to do is kiss him.

So he does.

Chapter Text

A gasp and James turns from the mirror to John, ghost pale in the doorway. “It’s not so bad as that, is it?”

“I never thought you’d really do it.”

James rinses his blade and his face. “If it’s such a crime, you needn’t worry. It’ll grow back.”

John comes toward him then, staring. “No. It’s just...” He plies his fingertips over new-revealed skin. “I’ve never seen you barefaced.”

“And?”

After a moment, John flicks pure flirtation up from under his lashes. “You look quite distinguished. Would the gentleman care for a bit of rough?”

Shaving was definitely worth it.

Chapter Text

“I’ll not lie. Adult trick-or-treating isn’t an easy task.”

John affects his most pensive stare. “You have some experience with this, I imagine. With your little witch hat and ginger beard.”

James looks down, mouth a-twitch. “Yeah, I do. It’s about spooky, yet nonthreatening.”

“Teach me your sugar-charming ways.”

James assesses John’s costume across a plastic Jack-o-lantern brimming with sweets.

“A cute bat might’ve been better, but we can work with this pirate look,” James nods.

“I can’t tell if this was a warning or a welcome.”

James pops a candy into his mouth and finally lets his grin loose.