Actions

Work Header

Steady Seas

Chapter Text

“God-”

“God Dammit!” George yelled, gripping at the sopping wet planks around him, pushing and pulling to find an opening anywhere, anything weak enough for him to break. The anxiety that had been pooling in his stomach was now shooting up into his throat, creating a choking sensation. He swallowed harshly to try and rid himself of the feeling but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t. 

He was panicking.

The angry rush of water pounded through the gigantic hole on the hull of the ship, trapping George to the side where he was left to scratch at the planks above him. The sounds of the water drowned out his screams, he knew it but he didn’t stop. It hurt. His ears were burning, his throat felt scratchy, and his hands were bleeding from trying to rip at the wood around him. Once again he took a hopeful glance at the exit, as if the debris set in place there may have disappeared in the time he hadn't checked. 

The water was now up to his hips, it was hopeless. This was it. This was the end for him. He stopped hammering on the floorboards above him, cradling his bruised and bloody hands close to his chest as he turned to stare at the ocean bursting through the side of the ship. 

Once the cold water found it’s way up to George’s chest he couldn’t hold it in anymore. The first tear slipped out, followed by another, and one more until he was completely sobbing. He placed his face in his hands rubbing his eyes aggressively but he couldn’t stop the tears, he couldn’t stop the shaking. 

“George. There’s something-” A vaguely familiar voice resonated through the hull of the ship. 

George whipped his head up, eyes burning from crying, he frantically looked around for the source of the voice. 

“Hello?” he called, a desperate crack breaking his voice. 

The water was up to his chin now. 

“George!” The voice yelled once again.

“George!-” 

He felt a presence grab his shoulder- 

“George! Wake up!” Hands shook him by the shoulders, shaking his upper body back and forth in his bed. 

“Wha- What the-?” George pried his eyes open, rubbing his eyes once the person waking him up finally stopped shaking him. 

“George I swear to god if you don’t get your perfect fucking ass up right now I will drop kick you into next week.” The voice told him sternly. 

George, disregarding the dream completely, smirked, “Hey Alex.” 

“Don’t ‘hey Alex’ me right now, wipe that smirk off your face. It’s 11 pm George. You are extremely late for the meeting with Phil! I’m not your fuckin monkey, you’re a grown ass adult I shouldn't have to wake you up? What did you bribe the maids with to let this happen?” 

George looked at him with the raise of a single eyebrow, a smirk still laid out on his lips. 

“Okay. Okay, don’t answer that.” Alex turned away, “Get ready now! I shouldn’t have to tell you this shit. Phil’s already pissed that you’ve made him wait this long!” 

And with that his Lieutenant was gone out the large dark wood doors, slamming them purposefully hard behind him. 

With one last grumble to himself and a quick stretch of his arms above his head, George pushed himself up, the warm covers pooling at his waist as he sat up. He swung his legs to the side and stood up. He took a moment to blink and rub his eyes as the ever bright sunlight drifted through his already open blinds. 

Alex had been right about the maids coming in to wake him but he’d convinced them otherwise, promising extra time off over the next few days. What? His beauty sleep was important. How else would he be able to sway the cabinet to listen to his whining and ignore his laziness. Though, the head maid, Dorthy, had decided to open up the blinds and leave them like that despite his protests saying, “Maybe you’ll somehow become responsible and let the light open your eyes a bit”. Old hag, she was. 

George shuffled through his closet, shifting quickly through the coats dawned in medals  and beautifully tailored jackets that hung neatly. He hummed to himself as he grabbed his favorite one, a worn navy blue tailcoat with a golden trim, buttons, and epaulettes. Adorned by one pin on the right pocket, a small token from his mother in the shape of a golden lion head. He gave the pendant a long look before continuing to gather the necessary parts of his outfit, a white undershirt, beige waistcoat, blue trousers, white stockings, and finally a set of nicely shined wellingtons. 

Once he completed his outfit George walked over to the mounted mirror to the side of his king size bed, enjoying the lavish moment and completely ignoring the urgency that was meant to be felt in this moment. He spun a bit on his heel before facing himself and straightening the brooch pinned to his right pocket softly. 

“Now,” He looked up to meet his own eyes in the mirror, “Let’s see what Phil has to yell at us about today.” 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

“George! What the hell is wrong with you! We have been waiting here for at least two hours! Do you think this is a joke?” Phil stood quickly, his chair scratching the floor as it was aggressively pushed back. 

George rolled his eyes as the cabinet stared at him, angry gazes peering from every corner of the room. After taking his time looking anywhere but Phil, he finally met his head advisor's eyes, slightly nervous of what would be said next, but of course, he didn’t let that show. 

“It’s fine Phil. It’s not like the world is collapsing because I was absent for a couple of hours.” He finally spoke. 

“Ahem. Not just absent. He was asleep.” Alex chimed in with a quick glance from Phil to George. 

“Shut up Quackity.” 

“Don’t fucking call me that I swear on-” 

“BOYS!” Phil cut in with a heavy hand smacking the table, “Quit it. Now.” 

George opened his mouth to protest but snapped it shut when Phil sent him one more murderous gaze. He resisted another eye roll and pulled out the chair at the head on the table, sitting down and crossing his legs. He rested his clasped hands on the table and looked across to his advisor, “So, what’s this all about anyway.” 

If Phil were trying to hide his annoyance, he did a terrible job, “Eret. Can you please explain what we have been discussing to the Captain?” 

Eret shuffled the papers in front of himself, clearing his throat before reading what was written, “The king has requested that we double the ships sent to the newest ports in the Carribean, there have been some issues with the locals regarding trading, nothing much but it’ll be important to keep that connection protected just in case of any… mishaps. There has also been word of a new threat roaming the waters, something new. There have been multiple reports of a new ship that none of our soldiers have come across before, they say… they say it’s completely black, like the wood is burnt.” Eret looked up from the pages, giving George a nervous look.

“A black ship? That’s impossible. Are you sure this information is even valid? And even if it is it’s not like we haven’t dealt with this kind of thing before. They’re just another band of p-” The word itself made him want to smash his face in, “Pirates.” He curled his fingers into his palms creating tight fists as he spoke. His eyes wandered around the table, he could basically feel the nerves coming off of everyone in the room.

“It’s nothing. Nothing we can’t deal with. Nothing we haven’t already dealt with.” George reiterated. 

Alex shrugged and leaned back into his chair, “We actually haven’t really dealt with… that. Just saying.” 

“It’s under control.” George shot back.

“It’s really not,” Phil said with an amused grin on his face, his chin now resting in his hand as he leaned an elbow on the table. 

“Why the hell are you smiling. This is serious.” George frowned.

“Oh?” Phil perked up, “Now it’s serious? Because we’re talking about-” 

“Stop! Don’t even say it, I will literally leave this room. You know how I feel about this topic.” George interrupted.

“Oh yeah, we know. This topic is very h-” Alex started laughing mid-sentence, “very- HA, oh my god, very hard f- hehe- for y-you.” He laughed incessantly, holding his stomach and comically pounding his fist on the table. 

“That’s it. I’m out of here. Don’t try to talk to me again unless you’re going to act like an adult.” George pushed out of his chair, standing up and taking a step away from the table. 

“Uh- Sir, wait- I’m not finished.” Eret piped up as soon as George had turned away. 

The captain spun around on his polished boots with an upset pout, “Fine. I’ll stay but only to prove that I am being mature, unlike others-” he looked from Alex to Phil, “in this meeting right now.” 

Alex and Phil exchanged a glance and a small shrug of their shoulders when George sat down again. 

“Since the Commodore isn’t here to do it himself I was told to give you his report. So, here it is.

Captain, 

 

Trade and merchantry have been going smoothly in Tortuga, despite our problems in the past it seems as though the pirate issue we find ourselves dealing with usually has disappeared. Not to say that  I am unhappy with this development but I have to warn you to keep an eye open. You and I both know this is very unusual. I haven’t had notice from any other port so I assume all is well there but I just had to let you know. Although I don’t miss the familiar faces… well, technically it’s not a face but you get my point.

 

Commodore Antfrost.” 

“That is unusual.” Phil spoke first, a thoughtful hand stroked his chin, “Tortuga is usually a hot spot. Do you think they’ve moved to a new target?” 

George was slightly baffled at this new information, “I- I don’t know… We’ll just have to do as Ant said and keep an extra eye out. I’m sure it’s nothing serious. They’ll be back to their old ways within a fortnight.” 

“It’s not that unusual. I mean, they are pirates, right? It’s not like they have some kind of schedule. They don’t look at the clock and go ‘oh look! Time to pillage! If I’m not home by sundown my mother will have my head!’. I’m sure it’s fine.” Alex quipped, still leaning far back in his chair, casually fiddling with a loose strand of his dark hair. 

Phil sighed, “Alex is right, there’s no way to know that these pirates are on some kind of schedule.” 

George hummed, “I guess.” He turned back to Eret, “Get back to Ant, tell him we’re regarding his message but that he shouldn't worry about it too much. Maybe put a little more into it than what Alex said.” 

“Will do, Captain.” Eret nodded. 

George clapped his hands together, “And with that! This meeting is adjourned. Get back to work.” 

Eret and Alex stood. Alex, jogging to catch up to Eret as they left the room together, Alex already going on and on about what one of the female cooks had said to him while he was getting breakfast, Eret laughing along kindly. 

Once they were out of the room, Phil rose slowly from his own spot at the other end of the table. 

“What is it, old man?” George asked without looking up, he was picking his nails now with his boots lazily resting on the rosewood table. 

“George. You know how your parents would feel about your behavior this morning. This is not the behavior the Captain of the Royal Navy should be exhibiting. You’re lucky everyone in this room today was your friend. You’re going to have to grow up before all this childish behavior gets you stuck in a stupid situation.” Phil made his way over to George as he spoke, resting a hand on the younger man's shoulder, “Please, at least try to make your mother proud.” 

He glanced down at the golden brooch on Georges' tailcoat with a somber look before exiting the room after the others, mahogany doors shutting slowly but loudly. 

George swallowed harshly, taking a glance for himself down to the pendant. He was doing his best, okay? He was trying. It’s not like this job was easy. He stood and stalked over to the chalkboard at the back of the room. Maybe doing some actual work would pull him out of the deep pit of guilt he felt. He grabbed for the papers by the chalkboard, something that he had begun working on a couple of days prior. Nothing extravagant but it needed to be thought through more so he began to draw out what he needed to see on the board in front of him. 

Not even an hour had passed before The door suddenly slammed open, scaring George into pressing the chalk too hard onto the board and causing it to snap in two. 

“Dammit! I just had that shipped in!” He grimaced at the broken chalk on the ground. He sighed and turned around. 

Tubbo stood in the doorway panting, his hands grasping his knees as he bent over. He rose a hand, one finger up, signifying that he needed to take a little breather before he spoke. 

“Tubbo? What-” George began, placing the other half of chalk down.

Tubbo whipped his head up and stood stick straight. He threw up a quick salute with determined eyes before he began speaking, “Captain! I have news!” 

George crossed his arms, giving a small head nod, “Yes I assumed as much since you came bursting in here. What news do you bring?” 

“He’s back,” Tubbo said softly, almost so quietly that Geroge had to lean in to hear it. He immediately cringed after he said it, as if it were the worst thing that could have come out of his mouth.

And it was.

 

Oh, 

 

It was.

 

“Shit.” George dropped his arms.

 

This is not what he wanted to be doing today. 



Chapter Text

Why couldn’t George have just one day of peace. One day that he didn’t have to worry about stupid problems that shouldn’t even be problems. Sure he should be wary of potential war or problems with trade in the colonies across the world but pirates? He shouldn’t have to personally worry about these mangey arseholes who suddenly decided to cause havoc and rob innocent people (a/n: lol so did the royal navy but we won’t talk abt that bc this fic is gonna be very historically inaccurate, anyways..). 

He stormed out of the meeting hall before Tubbo got the chance to say anything else, he didn’t even turn back to see if the boy had started following him. He pulled at the lapels of his tailcoat in an attempt to straighten it out before he reached the door to the courtyard, any mishap in his appearance would surely be commented on and he knew that. He hoped and prayed that the pirates hadn’t touched shore yet, so maybe, just maybe, he would have some extra time to prepare or maybe figure out how to scare them off. Due to the individual Tubbo had spoken about in his “announcement” though Geroge doubted they were just waiting around on their ship. 

The Captain of the Ender Eye never had issue with crashing through the main ports of London, extremely stupid in every way. It was actually impressive that the man had never been detained, the slippery bastard always had an escape route. He was spontaneous enough that George never knew what was next with him, never knew how to plan for him to arrive. So, he knew it’d be no different this time. He had no idea what to expect from this man, he was as mysterious as ever. What always puzzled George though is… aren’t mysterious people supposed to be cold and calculating? Especially the most feared pirate captain on the seas? How the hell did he end up with a man goofing around like he’d never done anything wrong in his life? 

He shook the thoughts aside as soon as he reached the main door to the courtyard. He placed two hands on each of the doors and pushed as hard as he could. The large wooden doors swung open with an inordinate amount of force, a quick wind would’ve hit anyone nearby. As soon as his eyes adjusted in the light he could see that there were multiple figures in the courtyard, three pirates and the rest guards with arms ready. 

“Dream!” He shouted, locking onto the smug white mask that always hung over the other man's face.

 Dream looked to George as he made his way down the stairs to the courtyard, “Hey! What’s up with the sour look, sweetie?” He said, a confident grin plastered to the only visible part of his face, “Mind callin’ off the dogs?” He lazily pointed to the guards aiming their bayonets directly at him and his crew. 

George needed to calm himself, he really needed to stay calm, calm and professional… 

“What the fuck do you mean call of the dogs? What the hell are you doing here? You do realize that you are a wanted criminal , right?” George spat. Alright. Not calm. Not professional. Got it. Dream just made his blood boil over the edge. 

Dream clicked his tongue with a small shoulder shrug, “The past is the past, we still haven’t gotten over this?” 

“Gotten- Gotten over this?? This isn’t-” He was sputtering now, taking steps closer, “This isn’t a small thing. You. Are. A. Criminal!” George was now at least a couple paces from the other man. He found his eyes shifting to the blond next to Dream who took a step forward when George got too close, dual swords drawn and ready. He heard the shuffle of metal behind him as a guard noticeably cocked their weapon, George didn’t bother to turn to the guard, instead he held his right hand up as a signal not to engage. 

“Back off Punz. It’s fine.” Dream spoke in a hushed voice to his second mate. The man, Punz, backed up and sheathed his swords. 

“Now, call off yours.” Dream redirected himself back to George. 

George waved his already raised hand as a way to tell the guards off. He dropped his hand back to his side but it remained clenched in annoyance, “You never answered me. What the hell are you doing here?” 

“Weren’t you going to arrest me? I mean I’m willing to try but I’m not really into handcu-” 

“Nope. No. Don’t you dare finish that sentence. Tell me why you’re here.” 

Dream’s smile faded into something more serious for a split second, “You’ll hear me out?”

George hesitated at the change of emotion but he couldn’t help himself, he was curious, “I will.”

“Does that mean we can get this over with now? I’m sick of having a gun pointed in between my eyes for nothin’.” Another voice interrupted. 

George jumped slightly at the sudden interruption of a tense situation, he glanced to the area behind Dream where another pirate was getting up from a seated position on the cobblestone. Once he was stood up full he dusted off his hands on his already dirty trousers, could they even be called trousers? The man’s pants looked like flowing tablecloths tucked into stocky brown boots. He raised his bored gaze to George, making a face as if this was an inconvenience for him. George furrowed his brow at the raven haired man, wondering how the bandana wrapped tightly around his head was any help when the majority of his hair still hung over his forehead. He watched closely as the man approached Dream’s side, crossing his sleeveless arms across his chest, he truly looked like a barbarian, something about this man already annoyed the hell out of George. 

“Agreed, can’t we get this over with?” The Captain piped up.

George let out a disgruntled sigh, how was he meant to accommodate literal pirates without looking like a complete idiot? 

Luckily, he finally heard a familiar voice chime in from behind him, “Tell us what you want and maybe we will consider keeping you from imprisonment.” 

George turned to see that Tubbo had run to get Phil, his appearance sent a shiver of reassurance through the younger man. 

“Who’s this old man?” The dark haired first mate spoke once again.

“I’m Philza. Senior Commander and Advisor of the Captain. Now, explain to us why you’re here.” Phil stated confidently, staring down the intruders intensely. 

“Ah, well, Commander ,” Dream moved his attention to Phil, “This is an extremely important matter that should not be discussed in such a public place. Perhaps we should move inside, I wouldn’t want to stir any panic through rumors.” 

“Inside?” George began, “What kind of rumors do you think that would stir?” 

“Listen,” Dream’s voice took on an urgent tone, “It truly is important. I promise you this. I know we’ve had our problems in the past but I wouldn’t be coming to you, of all people, if I wasn’t serious. Please, just listen to me. Let me explain inside.” 

“That doesn’t-” George was cut off when Phil placed a firm hand on his shoulder. He turned to the older man with a befuddled expression, did Phil believe this- this freebooter? 

“Let him explain, George. He’s telling the truth.” Phil spoke with conviction in a hushed whisper. 

“How do you know that?” George responded, disregarding the whispering, if he were to say something it wasn’t a secret. 

Phil didn’t say anything, he just gave George a knowing look before walking back to the entrance of the main building, leaving George with the last say in this matter. Meaning, Phil wanted him to do what he had said but wanted to make it seem like it was George’s idea, typical. 

He turned back to the pirates, “Fine. You can explain why you’re here inside. Do not touch anything while we’re in there. I don’t trust your filthy hands.” 

With that, George made his way back up the steps, nodding to the guards as he passed, hopefully, they would keep their mouths shut about this.

“For your information, I just washed my hands.” The first mate spoke as he began following behind George.

“Shut the fuck up Sapnap, we all know that’s a lie.” The second mate laughed, shoving his crewmate to the side playfully.

“It’s not Punz. It’s true. I swear.” Sapnap responded, inspecting his hands as if he could see the germs crawling around them. 

George rolled his eyes as he led the three to the main meeting office, he found himself drifting off into his own mind as they maneuvered through the halls. He wondered what Dream could possibly want that was so important, what he wanted so bad that he needed George to be involved. He glanced at the pirate captain, who hadn’t spoken since they began their short trek to the office, he had his hands latched behind his back as he took in their surroundings. If George could see the man's eyes he assumed he would be taking in the magnificence of the oil paintings that scattered the walls and the beauty of the heavy, expensive drapery. 

George’s neck hurt from straining to see if Punz and Sapnap were touching anything, but whenever he looked back they were just pushing and prodding each other, discussing who knows what. He sighed lightly in relief when they finally reached the meeting room, it felt like the maybe three minute walk had taken an eternity. He opened the door and walked in, leaving the pirates to file in behind him. He noticed that Phil was already seated in the seat to the right of the head of the table, where he was always sat, it seemed as though he had gathered some paper and quills to take notes on the upcoming conversation. 

George took a seat at the head of the table, waiting for the pirates to take their seats as well. He felt a small pang of annoyance when Dream sat directly across from him, it felt as though the seating choice was a hit at George’s power and control in his own home. 

“Fancy place you got here.” Sapnap piped up, placing his boots noisily on the table as he leaned back in his chair, not much different to how George had acted earlier that morning. 

Dream wordlessly swiped Sapnaps feet off the table, facing him with what Geroge could only assume would be a stern look. Not that anyone could tell with that godforsaken mask, the only hint was the thin line formed with his lips. Sapnap pouted, crossing his arms once again as he still continued to push back in his chair. 

Dream turned to face George, “Now, down to business. We’re here for a favor. Not really even a favor. More of a warning with an… option to assist us. But before I tell you this I must remind you that we may cause some problems for you but remember that we’ve never once killed one of your own, not one soldier, not one citizen.” 

George’s eyebrows were knitted together as he listened, leaning his elbows on the table and resting his hands just below his nose. Even with that intro he had no idea what Dream could be implying. It was true that his crew was known to not kill, but why was that so important? He looked to Phil for assurance but the Commander looked just as confused as he was. 

“Anyways,” Dream began again, “There’s been a new threat on the waters. The likes of nothing we’ve ever seen before. As you probably know there are many crews of pirates, all of which my crew has dealt with before, none of them pose a threat to me and they’re all too small to even be considered a large issue for you.” He had his gloved hands clenched together on the table. 

“We aren’t on the best terms as I said before. But this isn’t something we can take on by ourselves. I’m-” He stopped, frowning a bit, “I’m here to ask for your help.” 

“You want my… help?” George was dumbfounded, dropping his hands to the table and sitting up slightly. He and Dream had been at eachothers throats for so long, was this threat really that bad? 

“What exactly is this threat?” George asked.

“Another pirate crew. Insanely strong, I don’t know how they do it, I-- They have no mercy, George. Nothing gets through them. I’ve seen them in action, it’s… chaotic and dangerous. Their captain has no remorse, he doesn’t hold back. He’s threatened my crew already, I can’t risk their lives by going against him on my own, it’s not worth my pride.” Dream was getting nervous visibly, his tone was rising, and he was moving his hands more and more. 

George was shocked by the casual use of his name, he couldn’t remember Dream ever calling him by something other than a stupid nickname. He felt a pit growing in his stomach, guilt grabbing at his insides, he couldn’t turn this man down, could he? The annoyance and anger George felt for the pirate subsided significantly after that raw scene, this was a man scared for his friends. He gave Phil another glance, hoping that his advisor would speak. 

“This sounds like what Eret was explaining earlier, remember the letter from Commodore AntFrost?” Phil started, moving his attention back to Dream, “Is this ship fully black, like burnt wood? We’ve had information come in that our ports have been dwindling in pirate activity and that there have been sightings of this ship.” 

“That’s it. That’s The Empress. Nasty looking ship, nothing compared to the Ender Eye’s beautiful fresh oak planking and silver lining.” Dream grinned, despite the dreadful topic of a deadly new pirate crew roaming the seas. 

George rolled his eyes, “So, how do you suggest we fix this problem?” 

“There’s no negotiation with them. I want Captain Mathias Hayward gone. He needs to be jailed and executed.” Dream stated, obviously with his mind made up. 

“That’s where I come into play? I’m to jail this man? Why don’t you just… y’know…” George made a cutting motion across his throat. 

“I don’t kill.” Dream stated, “Please, just-- we need your numbers, death isn’t something I want to discuss right now. I just need you to agree, join our crew, use your men for the right thing.” 

“You want me and my cabinet, along with my top soldiers to go off to sea with you to fight this… Mathias.” George wasn’t sure about this offer, it seemed stupid of him to take. 

“What do I get out of this?” He added. 

“You don’t have to worry about innocent people getting murdered in your precious colonies, I keep wraps on every other crew, but this Captain isn’t my ally. I can’t keep him from doing anything regretful.” Dream explained, urgency laced his tone once again. 

“Phil?” George asked, he needed another opinion. 

“You should do it. Take Alex and the rest of your crew and go. I’ll hold down the fort here. This is the perfect job as the Commander of the Royal Navy, this new threat needs to be taken down.” Phil elucidated.

George swallowed hard, he still wasn’t sure about this whole thing, it truly felt like a fever dream. 

“I’ll take your offer.” He said, standing from his chair. 

Dream’s worried frown turned into a smile quickly, he also stood, meeting George halfway across the side of the table, reaching his hand out. 

George took the pirate’s calloused hand, staring directly into the soulless eyes of the mask hung on his face as they shook hands. 

“Seems as though we’ll be working together from now on.” Dream said with a grin.

“Mmhmm,” George hummed quietly as he prayed that this wasn’t a mistake.



Chapter Text

About two hours later, George was stressing, he held his thumbnail tightly in between his teeth, trying his hardest not to completely rip it off. He watched out the window as Phil and Alex walked the pirates back to the courtyard and, eventually, back to their ship. He specifically kept his eyes on the ever-present smile stuck to Dream’s face, something about it just ignited a rage within him, did the man ever stop with that stupid grin? Like the crudely drawn smiley face on his mask helped at all. 

George sighed and turned away from the window, removing his hand from his mouth to run his fingers through his short hair. He slumped against the cool stone wall next to the window and looked to the portrait in front of him. He found himself staring into the painted dead eyes of his father, why was this portrait even still up? George couldn't stand to see the man who basically quit because George was old enough to take the position of Commander. What a no-good deadbeat, up and left his child alone to have control over a whole Navy to go quote on quote “explore the world” because he was feeling “trapped”. Ever since George’s mother had died his father wasn’t the same, he was never there, he barely acknowledged his son, consumed in his work until the day he just decided to resign and throw everything onto George. 

Everything today was pissing him off. Nothing was going right. He pushed himself off the wall aggressively and began to stalk back to his room before anyone else could try and bother him. Before he even got halfway there he took a sharp turn and bumped straight into someone. 

“Oof!” 

“Ah, fuck,” He muttered to himself as papers and rolled maps flew to the floor, he looked up into the kind eyes of his main scribe and navigator, “Sorry, Karl.” 

Karl looked down from George's eyes to the maps and papers sprawled all over the red carpeted floor, “That’s alright!” He looked back to George with a huge smile and a slightly upset twitch in his brow before kneeling down to gather his things. Leave it to Karl to be upset but hide it behind a sweet smile. 

George got to his knees to help the scribe, “I wasn’t paying attention. Really, I’m sorry.” 

Karl giggled softly, “It’s fine. I promise.” 

George looked up to check if that was genuine. Just as he suspected the slight upset had lifted from Karl’s face, George held back a sigh of relief. 

Once they had picked up everything and stood back up George handed Karl his papers back, “So, what’s with the rush?” The man asked as he politely took back his work. 

“Oh, I just… have a lot on my mind.” George looked to his feet, shuffling them a bit. 

“Does it have anything to do with the pirates that were just here? What the honk was that about anyways?” Karl asked, shifting his hold on the things in his arms. 

George whipped his head up, “How did you know about that? Nobody but the guards saw?” 

Karl rolled his eyes, “You should know by now that word travels fast. The moment those pirates took a step within this building everyone knew. I was told by Ponk who was told by Niki who was told by one of the maids, it’s a whole chain. So, what’s up with that?”

“They came with some important information. Information about a new threat that needs to be taken care of right away.” George explained vaguely. 

Karl nodded, “So, then what’s got you stressed? Isn’t you knowing a good thing?” 

George was taken aback by Karl’s calm tone, “What do you mean ‘what's got me stressed’? They’re pirates Karl! Do you not get that?” 

“But… They told you important information? Why are you mad?” Karl cocked his head to the side a bit, floppy bangs following the movement. 

“I’m- I’m not mad.” George gritted out, “I don’t associate with pirates.” 

“Okay. So what? They left. Are you mad because you had to make that deal with their Captain and now we’re going on an adventure with them?” Karl let a little bit of a grin grow as he spoke, excitement rising. 

“Wha-” George was too stressed for this, “Adventure?- Wait- How do you know that!?” George’s jaw was dropped at this point.

“Okay,” A sheepish smile made it’s way onto Karls's face, “I maaay have been lying about hearing about all this from Ponk. See, I was coming to deliver some maps to you earlier but I saw what was happening outside and then I was like ‘oh I better not get in the middle of that’ so I decided to not do that but also I wanted to know what was going on because, y’know, so that’s what I did. I stood outside the meeting room and listened in. I’m sorry- I had to know.” As he spoke he used his hands quite a bit, swinging them up and down, back and forth, “Sorry. Again.” 

George didn’t have it in him to get any angier, he pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, “It’s fine. Just- keep this on the down low?” 

Karl nodded eagerly, “Of course, but… does this mean I can come with you?” 

“What?”

“I want to come. Since I’m one of the only people who know about it.” 

“Are you trying to… blackmail me?”

“Is that what this is?” 

“You’re using information that I don’t want you to tell anyone against me, that’s blackmail.” 

“Oh. Well, that sounds harsh. I wouldn’t tell anyone really.” 

George sighed, he did need a crew and Karl was trustworthy. At this point he only had Alex and he was not about to be on a ship with a bunch of pirates and only Alex. 

“Fine. You can be part of the crew. Just- don’t spread this around. I don’t want anyone panicking.” George decided. 

“Oh! That’s great! Can Ranboo come as well? He really needs some in-field training, there’s only so much I can teach him about navigation while we’re inside. It’ll be a learning opportunity.” Karl asked, his excitement barely being kept back. 

“Fine. But that’s it. You,” George poked Karl’s chest, “are not allowed to recruit anyone else.” 

“Alright! Thank you, Commander! Ranboo will be so happy to hear this. We won’t disappoint you!” Karl gave him a bright smile before spinning on his heel and booking it down the hallway once more. 

George was left alone once again, standing silently in the cool hallway, nothing but dimming sunlight illuminating the stone walls. He shrugged off the conversation and it’s possible repercussions, continuing down the hallway to his bedroom, he really needed to take a moment to himself. 

Once in his bedroom, George closed the door behind him and immediately made his way to his bed. It couldn’t be later than five in the evening but he was exhausted, he flopped his top half down onto the soft bedding, legs still dangling off the side. Dorthy would be livid if he put his boots anywhere near the freshly cleaned sheets that lay under him. He buried his face into the soft linen and groaned, “What am I meant to dooooo.” He whined to himself. He turned his head to the side, cheek squished down as he looked out the window at the end of his room. He could see the ocean from- He could see the ocean. George popped up from his position in the bed and sped over to the window, he gazed out to the ship docked just off the side of the courtyard, taking up space next to the Royal Navy ships in the harbour. A look of distaste overcame his features as he watched the movement around the ship, he couldn't make anyone out but it seemed as though Dream had all of his crew up on the deck. He scoffed and walked away, he wouldn’t be able to see anything important from his spot at the window. He decided to instead change into more comfortable clothes, he hadn’t noticed how hungry he had gotten while his mind was consumed by worry and stress. Maybe some food would put his mind to rest. 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

George was full and happy now, the warm feeling of good food stuck to him like glue as he entered his room once again. He stretched his arms above his head with a yawn, he was finally ready to get to bed, he hoped it would be a peaceful night's sleep. He quickly got ready to sleep, sticking to a strict bedtime routine of changing into the most comfortable clothes he had, brushing his teeth, drinking one full glass of water, refilling it and finally, getting into bed. He shuffled beneath the sheets until he was comfortably resting on his side, one hand tucked under his pillow and the other wrapped around himself. He sighed into the soft sheets and closed his eyes, hoping sleep would come quickly… 

 

George was in Port Royal. He was on his second trip out of England as training with his father. The excitement had run its course, leaving George with an anxious feeling about the responsibility about to be placed upon him. For his 22nd birthday his father finally decided to let George run his own port, check up on trade and the community within the town. George had the feeling that his father was thinking of leaving soon but he pushed that behind him and tried to focus on his new job. Once he turned 20 his training had gotten more rigorous and this was basically his final test, the best way he could make his father proud. If he did this right, maybe, just maybe, his father would feel proud enough to stay around. 

The dream progressed through flashbacks as George watched himself make rounds through the port town, checking in with the fishermen to the blacksmith to the barkeeps. He felt proud of himself, watching as his younger self checked off all the things that were required of him perfectly. It all changed when George saw himself walk down a familiar road and with that he was transported back into the moment.

George was walking along the dirt path, mentally checking off a to-do list in his head. He nodded to himself with a wide grin, he had this job down to a tee, there was nothing that could stop him from impressing his father. He heard a ruckus behind him, when he turned he saw nothing but a faceful of tan fabric before he was knocked over. 

“Oh! Shit! I’m so sorry!” He heard above him as he sat on the ground, completely in shock of tumbling back. He blinked in an attempt to straighten out his vision, he quickly came back to his senses and looked up. Before him was a young man, maybe a few years younger than him, he guessed from the boy’s voice because… he couldn’t see the strangers face. The newcomer had a silly white mask covering the majority of his face, only short enough to show his lips, which were formed in a concerned grimace. The boy held out a hand to George, “Hurry up man! I’m in a bit of a predicament right now.” 

George grabbed the strangers hand and was immediately tugged along with him. 

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing!?” George yelled, trying to take his hand back as they ran. 

“Just- Hang on a second!” The other boy said, looking around for a place to go next. 

They ended up running through the streets until the boy in front of George tucked them into a thin alleyway. The boy pulled George into the alleyway so they were standing toe to toe. 

“Hey! What’s your problem-” George began but was quickly shushed by the boy placing a calloused hand over George’s mouth.

“Would you shut up for a second?” The boy hissed in a low voice. 

George narrowed his eyes but listened, this boy seemed to have no idea who he was. George was caught off guard by the sound of thundering footsteps coming up the road they had just come from. He watched silently as two men raced by the alleyway with angry looks on their faces. 

The boy… watched? George assumed he was watching by the way his head moved as the men ran by. He kept his hand tight on George's face until the men had completely gone. Once the coast was clear he let his hand drop and gave George a sheepish smile. 

“Sorry about that.” The boy said.

“Sorry!? You just dragged me along for no reason while people were chasing you- why were you even being chased? You didn’t steal anything, did you? I’d have to arrest you if you did.” George rambled, he didn’t even think he could arrest this boy if he tried. 

The boy laughed, a high pitched wheeze coming out every now and then, “Y-You? Arrest me? Now that’s hilarious.” 

“What? How the hell is that hilarious.” George frowned, “Do you even know who I am?” 

The boy looked, or George assumed since his head moved up to down, George up and down, “No? Who are you?” 

“I’m the Commander of the Royal Navy!” George exclaimed, pointing to the badges adorning his navy blue tailcoat, “Are you really that stupid that you couldn’t tell?” 

“I’m not stupid,” The boy frowned, “I don’t pay attention to that shit. Doesn’t matter. You were in the way.” 

George scoffed, “Whatever, you didn’t answer me, why were you being chased?” 

“Oh,” The boy shrugged, “Those were my brothers, I kinda skipped out on my chores and blamed it on them. Y’see my parents always believe me so it works out but they were nun to happy bout it.” 

“Oh- Well, that doesn’t seem so bad…” George didn’t notice the way the boy smirked and leaned forward.

“So, what’s your name anyways?” The masked stranger asked.

“It’s… George.” George spoke slowly, he really should be getting back, “I really should be getting back to work-” He made an attempt to leave when the boy shifted in front of him. 

“But… you can’t leave yet.” He frowned, “I’d be lonely hiding all by myself, plus I dragged you all the way here, why not stay awhile?” 

George couldn’t deny that the boy was charming, in a way. He sighed, he was almost finished with all his duties anyways, making a new friend wouldn’t hurt too much, right?

“Fine… well, what’s your name then?” He asked.

“I’m Dream.” The boy, Dream, smiled.

“That’s an odd name.” George responded. 

“Not any odder than your face.” Dream retorted.

“Hey! Shut up, like you can be one to talk Mr. Weird Mask Guy.” George elbowed at the taller boy playfully. 

“Weird Mask Guy? How original.” Dream laughed again. 

Their conversation went on for a good twenty minutes before Dream abruptly told George he needed to leave.

“Wait- Will I see you again? Do you live around here?” George asked when Dream began to walk away.

“Uh, yeah, I do…” He sounded a bit rushed, “I’ll see you around Commander. Don’t worry about it.” His smile seemed forced before he ran off. 

George leaned his head back against the cool stone brick, it had been a long time since he had made a new friend.. 

George was ripped from his thoughts at the sound of a gunshot, he jumped off his spot on the wall and ran into the road. He saw smoke coming from the docks near the edge of the town, “Shit!” He exclaimed before sprinting down the road, gunshots ringing in his ears as he made his way to the dock. 

Once he got to the source of the commotion he grabbed one of the soldiers by the sleeve, lightly coughing from the smell of smoke, “What happened!?’ 

“Pirates, sir! They just robbed the bank right under our noses!” The soldier exclaimed, “We tried to get to the ship but their Captain came right in time, sailed right off before we could do anything about it.” 

George was shell shocked, his chance. His chance to do his best for his father was completely ruined. Horribly ruined. His father would never stay now. He ran to the docks where the rest of the soldiers stood helplessly, looking at the ship as it sailed away. He looked up to the stern of the ship where a familiar figure stood waving. George’s jaw dropped as he took in the familiar sly smile and white-masked boy he saw atop the ship waving back at him. He’d be tricked. He’d been distracted while the rest of the pirates took advantage of his absence. How could he have been so blind? Now, all he could do was watch helplessly as Dream sailed away with all of the town's money in hand.



Chapter Text

George had been up. He’d been awake since before the sun rose. He couldn’t keep the stress from eating him inside out. He paced the glossy marble floor, every click of his already worn heels resonating throughout his skull. He stopped in his tracks to look out the window for what felt like the thirtieth time that morning. He must’ve been awake since at least four am because the sun had just begun its slow presentation of beautiful pinks and yellows. He turned to peer at the clock hung just above the door, he was right, now that he could see the numbers it read five-thirty am.

He dragged his hands from his forehead, down to his chin and back up into his hair, gripping lightly at the short dark brown tufts. He kept his hands there for a short while before George dropped them down to his cheeks, giving them a quick smack in hopes of knocking his thoughts back into place. As he let his hands fall to his side he could feel a tingling feeling firmly stick to his face as a growing heat followed. 

He flinched when he heard a soft but urgent knock at his door, ignoring his self induced red cheeks George went to open the door. He straightened up before pulling the knob to reveal Tubbo nervously fiddling with the hem of his vest. 

“Oh!” Tubbo looked up, flattening his vest out, “Good morning Commander. I was told to come see if you were awake. Well, mystery solved!” The boy gave a bright smile. 

“Mhmm, I’ve… been awake for awhile.” George stated. 

“I can tell-” Tubbo smacked his hand over his mouth but the statement had already been said. His wide eyes avoided contact with George as he muttered a sheepish ‘sorry’ behind his raised hand.

George couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the boy, “It’s alright, I probably look like a crawled out of a grave.” 

Tubbo visibly relaxed at the sound of George’s quiet laughter, “Nervous about your voyage, I presume? You seem a bit red in the face.” 

“Oh, that’s nothing… Let me guess. Karl told you?” George questioned, at this point he wasn’t even surprised that the other man hadn’t kept his mouth shut. 

“Well, yes. But I also put the pieces together before he said a word to me. I’m very observant, you know.” Tubbo said with a proud air. 

“Of course. You know what? I think I could use someone like you in my crew. You’re very sensible for a courier, always being there when I need you.” 

Tubbo’s smile grew even wider, “You mean it? I can come?” George could practically see the excitement radiating from the kid. 

“Yeah. What’s the harm? Maybe you can keep me sane while I’m stuck on that godforsaken ship.” George grumbled, thinking back to his previous stressor. 

“It’ll be fun Commander! I swear, it’s an adventure! This’ll be my first time out of England anyways. I’m sure you can find a reason to be excited as well. Look at the bright side!” Tubbo said, being the beam of sunlight he’d always been.

“Also, Phil was asking for you. Wanted to talk about something before your-- well, our departure I suppose.” The boy continued. 

George nodded, “Thank you Tubbo. Go on and pack up some fresh clothes and whatever else you’ll need. Pack light but be prepared for anything.” 

Tubbo obliged the suggestion with a smile and ran off to prepare himself without another word leaving George alone with his thoughts once again. 

“Speaking of packing… I should probably do the same.” George spoke to himself quietly, shutting the door behind him. 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵



After about an hour of George trying to figure out what he would need on his voyage, he had finally been decisive enough to have a full bag all packed up. He hoped that what he had would be enough, trading in his expensive clothes for something slightly more common. He wondered if he should change his current outfit into something more timid, something that wasn’t visually extravagant with bright blues, golds, and reds. 

In the end he decided to change, settling for a stone blue waistcoat with a golden trim around the collar, down the center, and on the trim with a plain white sleeved button up. He rolled his sleeves up to elbows, looking himself over in the mirror as his hands worked delicately on the fabric. With the top he wore off black trousers and slightly heeled boots that stopped at his mid-shin. But something was missing. He looked into the mirror as he pondered what the outfit could be missing. He looked around the room, quickly spotting the golden lion brooch that sat on a side table next to his bed, how could he have forgotten. He walked over and picked it up, gazing down to the small object with a soft look.

How would his mother feel about this venture? He was sure she’d be supportive of his decisions nonetheless, she always was when she was alive. She would probably want him to leave England, to go on some kind of adventure while he was still young, that’s what she would have done.

 He sighed lightly and brought the brooch up to his chest, easily clipping it onto the right side of his waistcoat as if the movement was second nature. George then straightened himself out, grabbed his bag, and bid farewell to his comfy bed. 

The walk to the meeting room was dreadful, the halls were horribly silent as he made his way down them. At least if it were noisy he would be able to drown out the apprehensive thoughts muddling his head. He really didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to deal with this. 

“George. You look like you haven’t slept a wink. That’s rare.” Phil spoke as soon as George entered the room. 

“Ha ha. Very funny. I get it, I sleep a lot.” George tossed his bag into one of the chairs perfectly placed next to the large wooden table in the center of the room. 

“I’m glad you’re so self aware.” Phil crossed his arms but he still wore a warm smile, “So, you feeling some first day jitters?” 

“First day jitters? What the hell is that even supposed to mean? I’m not going to my first day of primary school. I don’t want to do this Phil. I want to stay here, I don’t want to leave.” George complained. 

“Are you saying this because you’re lazy-” 

George nodded.

“-Or are you afraid that you might actually enjoy it?” 

George's jaw dropped, “That’s like asking me if I would enjoy the deepest layers of Hell, Phil. Why in the world would I even have the slightest thought of enjoying this?” 

Phil shrugged, “You may be surprised. I think this will be good for you. Get out there a little bit. Personally, I think you like that pirate captain more than you let on. You like how smart he is,” Phil paused for a quick second, a thoughtful, soft look in his eyes, “He’s a lot like you.” 

“I- Phil! You’re talking complete nonsense right now.” George threw his hands in the air in annoyance, “You know how much I despise that man. You remember what he did to me right? Not to mention that he is a literal pirate. He’s got no redeeming qualities.” 

Phil rolled his eyes, “Whatever you say, I’ll be waiting to see the change of heart you went through when you come back.” 

“What do you mean when I get back? You’re coming too.” 

“I’m not coming, George. Someone needs to stay here and keep the operation running smoothly. I’m the only one who has that kind of authority.” 

“But-” 

“But nothing. You’re going with the crew you’ve picked out and I’m staying here. That’s final.” Phil left no wriggle room for any further discussion, “Speaking of the rest of the crew, they’re all ready to go. Unlike you they don’t take hours to pack their bags.”

George pouted, “Phil…” 

Phil shook his head with a small laugh, “That’s not going to work on me George. Hadn’t worked since you were a little lad.” He moved forward to begin to usher George out to the courtyard. 

George frowned, “Fine. Whatever.” George looked around, “Where is my crew anyways?” He assumed they would have met up in the room he was in now. 

Phil motioned to the door, “Everyone is already waiting outside. I’ll walk you out.” 

George grabbed his bag off the chair and followed silently after Phil, trying to think of a way to convince the other man that he needed to come along. 

He trudged along behind Phil with his bag thrown over his shoulder, hardly the position any Commander should take before seeing and addressing a crew. George squinted when the door to the courtyard was swung open by the other man, the sun had taken no extra time to rise. It was already bright and shining, signaling that it would be a long and very hot August day. 

Another thing for George to dread. 

Once his eyes adjusted he stepped to Phil’s side and took the lead, gracefully moving down the stone steps to the courtyard. He took in the faces of his crew as he walked, they were talking amongst themselves, everyone had a bright smile on their face as they spoke. 

“Eyyy, look who finally decided to make an appearance.” Alex was the first to notice his arrival. 

George responded with a quick roll of his eyes, deciding to turn to Karl, “How are you today? I’ve heard that you didn’t keep your mouth closed.” 

Karl’s expression dropped slightly, his big eyes full of a false innocence, “I swear I only told Ranboo and Tubbo.” 

George shrugged, “It’s fine. I-,” He didn’t want to apologize for his actions the previous day but he did feel bad for being so grumpy, “I was… grumpy, yesterday.” He landed on. 

Karl smiled, “That’s okay Commander.” The taller man then perked up once again and pulled the boy standing next to him closer, “This is Ranboo! I know you two haven’t cordially met.” 

George took in the boy, he was tall, very tall actually. George was not envious.. Really, he wasn’t. He was put off by the dark tinted glasses that covered the boy's eyes and the, what looked to be, stitched black and white mask that covered the bottom half of his face. George couldn’t imagine what the getup was for but he was in no place to comment on it, nor did he really feel the need to question it. 

“Nice to meet you properly, I hope this can be a learning experience for you.” George said with an outstretched hand. 

“Yeah! You too. It’s an honor!” Ranboo said, his voice tinted with both excitement and anxiety. 

George gave him a small smile and professional nod. He turned to the rest of his crew, “Alright guys-” 

“AHEM.” Alex coughed, cutting the Commander off. 

“Yes, Alex?” George deadpanned.

“How come Tubbo and I don’t get a formal hello? I literally greeted you first, this is so unfair.” He complained, puffing out his cheeks to make his pout more dramatic. 

“I saw Tubbo not more than an hour ago and I don’t like you. Are you done now?” George responded with a smirk, anytime he got to shit on Alex was a good time. 

“That’s such a lie and you know it. You love me.” Alex retorted. 

“Not true-” 

“Boys! Continue this talk later on, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time on the ship. You do all have a whole other crew waiting on you. I suggest you head to the ship, even pirates are fans of punctuality. Didn’t Captain Dream specifically say that he wanted to set off no more than two hours after sunrise?” Phil interrupted from behind George before the previous conversation could go for any longer. 

George nodded once again, “You’re right Phil. How thoughtful of you.” He gritted out. 

“Of course. Now go on. You don’t have all day. I’ll see you boys in a couple weeks, make the most of this please. Keep yourselves safe as well.” Phil said.

There was a quick chorus of multiple ‘yes’s and ‘yes sir’s before the crew headed off towards the ship docked just through the port town. George began to walk after them when he felt a firm hand grip his shoulder, he turned back to look at Phil once again.

“Keep an open mind. Stay safe. Please try to look on the bright side here, you’ll only weigh yourself down if you keep this up. You know how well weight does in the ocean.” Phil squeezed his shoulder softly. 

George placed a hand on Phil’s, “Don’t worry about me.” 

“I always do, you know that.” Phil smiled softly. 

George couldn’t help but let a small smile creep it’s way onto his face as well, “I’ll see ya, old man.” 

Phil nodded and George walked off towards the port. Smile fading once again while he made his way down the cobbled streets, he busied himself by watching as the town woke up around him. People opening their windows and going to work for the day, a few people nodded to him while some gave salutes as he walked by. He responded wordlessly to the townsfolk until he got down to the port, he saw that his crew was all there, waiting by the start of the docks.

He was going to say something when he was halted by a loud voice coming from above, “You’re finally here! I thought ya guys would never arrive! Sleepy heads, the lot of ya.” Dream called.

George narrowed his eyes, watching as the pirate jumped down from his spot on the bow of the ship, disappearing back onto the deck. He reappeared seconds later, walking down the gangplank, bulky boots padding loudly on the dense wood below him. 

George walked to the front of his crew to meet the Captain as he approached, “Dream.” 

“George.” Dream smiled, his tone the same as George in a mocking manner. 

“You’re actually here. You don’t want to turn back from this deal of ours?” George asked, crossing his arms. 

“I don’t run from deals.” Dream shrugged, seemingly not picking up on what George really meant. Maybe it was stupid to be so passive agressive but there was literally no other choice in George’s muddled head. 

“Well... “ Dream carried on after a moment of incredibly loud silence, he leaned slightly to address the crew behind their Commander, “You look like a well put together crew, I’m impressed Georgie here has capable personnel.” 

“We’re plenty capable for sure.” Alex spoke up, his tone hard to read but sounded more on the friendly side. 

Dream hummed, “Alright then. Follow me, boys. Let's get this show on the road already.” The man spun on a heeled brown boot and walked back up the gangplank, speaking to a crewmate that George recognized from the day before. 

Once they were all on the ship George couldn’t help but already feel a bit trapped, his eyes shifted quickly from face to face as he took in the other people already on board the Ender Eye. Dream had a relatively large crew, considering some of the members probably weren’t even on deck. George found himself fiddling with his fingers as the crew gathered around the newcomers. He wasn’t sure of it but he could feel his men come a bit closer, as if they had the exact feeling as him. 

“Since you’re all new here, I thought it’d be important to introduce ourselves. Savvy?” Dream spoke up once again.

George watched his crew nod quietly, they sure decided to act like pansies. George wouldn’t let the nerves he felt stop him from speaking though, “Of course.” He responded. 

“These two here are Punz and Sapnap, me closest on the crew. If you need anythin’ and I ain’t around you talk to them. Or Callahan of course.” He gestured to the two men standing next to him before pointing over to another man off to the side, who gave a small wave and a smile, “He’s a mute though so, be aware of that.” 

“Movin’ on we got Sam an’ Hbomb, these two make sure this ship runs, Sam’s our master gunner and Hbomb here keeps us all from eatin’ one another.” Dream gestured to a tall man with a green tint to his shaggy hair and the man next him, shorter with a friendly face and a bit of facial hair. They both grinned kindly, something George certainly wasn’t expecting. 

“They ain’t here right now... “ Dream looked around, “But.. Skeppy, Bad, and Alyssa are around somewhere. I told em to be up on deck… Tommy ain’t either. I thought it was too quiet. What the fuck, is my crew fallin apart?” Dream rolled his eyes and George honestly couldn’t tell if the Captain was mad or just messing around. Considering the chuckles and grins coming from his crew thought the assumption that he wasn’t mad was apparent. 

“Anyways, we don’t need em, last but not least is Puffy here. She’s our honorable boatswain, won’t hesitate to give ya a slap if you step outta line though so be careful with that.” Dream pointed to the last member of the crew on the deck, a beautiful woman with a huge head of curly white hair framing her face, she gave a piercing glare to Dream before softening up and wordlessly waving to George and his crew. 

George cleared his throat, “Uh, nice to meet you all. I guess… We’ll all be working together from now on.” He paused for a second, “Anyways… This is Tubbo, Karl, Alex, and Ranboo. Tubbo is my courier, Karl and Ranboo are my navigators and scribes, and Alex in my Lieutenant.” 

“Well, those titles won’t be necessary here. You all work for me now.” Dream said with a bit of a snort. 

“What? That wasn’t part of the deal.” George protested, anger building up over his nerves, he wouldn’t have his crew be overtaken that easily. 

“You didn’t read the fine print?” Dream asked, a condescending tone lined his voice.

George took a step forward with a pointed finger, “There was no fucking fine print, it was a verbal agreeemnt and not once did you mention anything about that.” 

“What did you think this was going to be like? My ship. My rules.” Dream took a step closer on his own accord, pushing close enough so Georges still outstretched finger was pressed into his chest. The taller man loomed over George as the Commander snatched his hand back and attempted to stand tall while being looked down on. 

He had nothing to say. It was true. And he couldn’t back out now. They were already here. 

“Fine.” George said, defeated before he could even try to fight it. 

“Alright!” Dream brightened up and took a step back, “Let's get down to business! First stop, The Isles De Arousa.” 

Chapter Text

George's whole body ached, he felt like absolute dogshit. 

Geroge and his crew had spent a day over a week on the wretched pirate ship with it’s equally wretched Captain and the Commander was more than finished with their venture to The Isle De Arousa. He’d give anything to have his feet back on solid ground and away from the gaggle of pirates that constantly surrounded him.

After their first introductions the crew got to work as if nothing had changed and Dream had no issue putting George’s crew to work as well. He gave them all miscellaneous jobs whether they were necessary or not, George was sure the jobs he got were meant to spite him. Mostly swabbing and working in the dark below deck. The only prosperous part of being on the ship was, surprisingly, the crew Dream had created. George found himself striking up pleasant conversation with almost everyone on board, they didn’t seem to mind that he was an outsider or the fact that he was well known for hating their Captain. 

One thing that he heard most when Dream was brought up was to not judge the man so harshly, that he was doing his best with what he had. No one ever went into detail on why Dream acted or lived the way he did but Geroge decided it was best not to pry, it’s not like he cared about Dream’s darkest secrets anyways. 

He had also noticed that his own crew of four was getting on quite well, they did as they were told after George and Dream had “agreed” upon Dream being in charge. Alex was the only one to speak out but that was just his personality, the others stayed quiet for the first few days. After the dawn of the third day George noticed that his crew had also begun to make friends, specifically the relationship between Tubbo and Dream’s cabin boy, Tommy. It was as if Tubbo had previously met the rambunctious teen.

Dream’s first mate, Sapnap, showed up around Karl and Alex for the most part, engaging in long and many conversations with the both of them. George had also been approached by the first mate multiple times and as annoying as he was George couldn’t help but feel close to the fiery man. 

The one person George hadn’t been interacting with was Dream. For the most part they stayed away from each other… well, George stayed away from him. Dream had come up to him multiple times but with every chance of interaction George turned away, not allowing any conversation between them. But Dream was persistent, popping up out of nowhere when George was completing tasks around the ship. The Captain asked him questions, then would begin babbling on about whatever when George didn’t respond, the Commander never noticed the dejected frown on Dream’s face whenever he walked away afterwards. 

George now found himself in a weird moment of relaxation, finished with his tasks early in the morning. He wondered how close they were to the Isle, they had to almost be there, the ship had traveled no less than a thousand miles by now. 

“God damn! That kid is annoying as hell.” Alex threw himself to lean on the edge of the ship where George stood idle. 

“Truly.” Was all George could say before a loud voice came ringing clearly from across the deck. 

“Big Q! I haven't finished telling you about what I’m going to do as soon as we get to the Isle! It’s going to be amazing! The best idea ever!” Tommy called, walking quickly across the deck towards them, not surprisingly, Tubbo was following along close behind. 

Alex groaned and turned around, “Tommy. You have told me.” 

“But not the really important parts. My brain never stops working Big Q, it’s always coming up with amazing ideas, maybe you could learn a thing or two from me!” Tommy said proudly, pointing a thumb to his chest. 

“Doubtful.” George scoffed under his breath.

“Commander!” Tubbo cheered from behind his blond friend. 

“What did you just say, Gogy?” Tommy narrowed his eyes and turned to George, cutting Tubbo off with an outstretched arm. 

George frowned, “I said, it’s doubtful that you can come up with great or important ideas, and don’t call me that.” 

“Well, Gogy, I’d like to see you try to come up with something as amazing as me, do you even have a brain up in that stupid head of yours?” Tommy grinned, as if he was really insulting the older man.

“Tommy… You’re being rude.” Tubbo warned, pulling lightly on Tommy’s shirt. 

“Tubbo it’s fine .” Tommy turned to his shorter friend. They looked at each other for a while, Tubbo staring deeply into Tommy’s bright blue eyes with a stern glare. 

Tommy broke eye contact first and rolled his head back, “Fine! Okay, whatever.” He sighed, turning back to Alex. 

“Come on, let’s talk.” The boy grabbed Alex before he could protest, dragging the smaller man behind him as Alex shouted for George’s help. Tubbo gave George a sweet smile and a little wave before jogging after the two as they made their way to another corner of the deck.

Once again George was alone. He turned to look out to what he expected to be an open sea but as he turned he saw that just over the horizon was the slightest sign of lush green land. If George were any more dramatic he would’ve cried out of joy at seeing such beauty before him, he was so happy to see their destination.

“Land Ho!” Puffy yelled from the Crow’s Nest, quickly making her way down the ladder after the announcement. The crew cheered and rushed over to see the slowly approaching island. 

Puffy ended up standing next to George at the side of the ship, “Amazing, isn’t it? I bet you’ve never been here?” She asked kindly. 

George shook his head, “No.. I’ve actually only been away from England four times, nothing compared to what I assume you’ve explored.” He laughed lightly, keeping the conversation bubbly. 

“Well, this is a good start!” She said with a quick pat on his back, her tone was kind and lofty but her eyes said otherwise, a playfully mischievous look to them. 

It took another two hours for them to actually reach the shore of the island, the wind kept them from properly docking for what seemed like an eternity. At this point the sun was hung high in the middle of the sky, close to what looked like noon. 

“Alright! Lets get her moored up! We’ve got work to do here! We need all the time we can grab here.” Dream called from up on the quarterdeck. 

The crew moved quickly around George as they worked together to park the ship next to an empty dock quite a ways from the main port of the island. 

“Why are we docking down here? Shouldn’t we be in the main port for the inspection?” George grabbed Sapnap by the sleeve, asking before the other man could walk by. 

“Inspection? Who do you think we are? They ain’t gonna be doin’ that here.” Sapnap gave him a quick grin and walked off, helping maneuver the gangplank off the side o the ship. 

George didn’t have time to ponder what that meant, he felt a light pat on his left shoulder, he turned to see Ranboo standing behind him, a nervousness radiating off him. 

“Hi Commander, uh.. I just wanted to see if it was okay if I didn’t come into town with you.” He spoke with a small quiver to his voice. 

“Oh, well, of course you don’t have to come along if you don’t want to, I’m sure they’ll need help stocking up the ship, right? I assume there will only be a small group actually going into town anyways.” George explained. 

The boy visibly relaxed, “Oh, that’s great.” He laughed in what George could only assume was relief. 

George nodded him off and made his way to the gangplank, wondering who would be in the company heading to the town. He watched as Dream ordered a few people around before turning his head to the people already on land. He saw that Karl and Alex were standing in a group of three with Sapnap already. 

With a small hesitance he walked towards them, “Has Dream made a plan on who’s coming into town?” He asked. 

“You’re lookin at us!” Karl said cheerfully, pulling Sapnap and Alex closer to himself. 

“So, just you three?” He pondered. It was a pretty small group. George was surprised that Dream had picked two of George’s men over his own crew but he decided not to question it. 

“Yep! It’ll be fun! Right boys?” A hand grabbed George’s shoulder, causing him to flinch. 

George turned to glare at Dream, “Get your hand off me.” He shrugged his shoulder and moved away. 

Dream’s hand fell back to his side, “At least you actually spoke to me.” He said, a hint of annoyance behind his mostly cheerful tone. 

The awkward silence that followed was deafening. George felt all eyes on him as he let his gaze fall to the sandy ground, god, he wanted to disappear. 

A loud clap broke the silence, “Okay! We’re all here. Let's get a move on, we don’t have all day.” Alex grabbed George's wrist and pulled him along in front of the group, walking briskly towards the town. 

George sighed heavily, daring to look back at the three others, now engrossed in what seemed to be a pleasant conversation. He turned his head back to Alex, whose gaze was focused on the path in front of them. 

“Alex--” George began,

“You’re being too hard on yourself.” Alex finally let go of his friend’s wrist, turning his gaze to him. 

“Hmm do you think…” He paused for a second, contemplating if he should say what he felt, “do you think I’m being too hard on him? Not on me.” 

“I think that maybe it is a little rude to not even speak to the guy…” Alex said, his tone cautious, “We have been on a boat with him for a week.” 

George groaned, “I don’t-” He couldn’t find the words, didn’t know what he wanted to say. Why was it so complicated to talk about Dream. 

“If I’m being completely honest,” They made it to the town, Alex pausing so the rest of the group could catch up, “You don’t hate him as much as you think you do and this grudge is pulling you down mentally and emotionally. Forget it. Give him a chance. Maybe if you treat him with respect he’ll give you the same treatment. I know for a fact that he’s willing to be open to you. e’s been open with the rest of us.” He placed a hand on George’s shoulder, being as serious as George had ever seen him. 

Once everyone had caught up they made their way to a bar in the middle of the town, Dream insisting that he knew a barkeep there that could help them. 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

“Vikk! Nice to see you again!” Dream leaned against the bar with a cool grin on his face, “How have you been, how’s the wife? Any kids yet?” 

The barkeep, Vikk, frowned, “You know I’m not even married yet, she’s good though. No kids. Why are you here, Dream?” 

“I’m looking for someone, I was hoping that you had some information.” Dream continued. 

“A lot of people come into this bar Captain.” Vikk grabbed a glass off the shelf, cleaning it with a spare rag, turning his attention away from Dream almost completely. 

“What do you want Vikk?” Dream asked, voice lower than it had been. 

Vikk’s gaze shifted over the rest of the crew that were waiting with Dream, “Tell them to leave and then we can discuss, I don’t want five sets of ears listening to this information coming from me.” 

Dream looked to Sapnap silently, who nodded and turned away, “Let’s get a table.” 

As if George wasn’t already put off by the general vibes of the town and the bar, this new interaction put him over the top. He followed after Sapnap and the others, finally taking a real look around the bar. It was full of people who looked like they’d each killed at least one person or maybe, had never taken a proper bath. 

As they sat down at a small table in the corner, George finally spoke up, “What exactly do the people on this island do?” 

Sapnap laughed, “These idiots don’t have jobs, Commander. Everyone you see around here is a pirate or some kind of outlaw. Bounty hunters, gamblers, criminals, they’ve all got something nefarious under their belt.” He grinned. 

George shared a worried look with both Alex and Karl, none of them were overly comfortable with being in such a dangerous place.

“Do- Do they know that we..” Karl gulped, dropping his voice to a whisper, “aren’t from around here.” 

Sapnap leaned back in his chair, “Of course they do! I’m surprised nobodys tried to jump us yet. Especially with his pretty little face accompanying us,” He pointed a lazy finger at George. 

“Me?? Why me!?” George shouted, shrinking back in on himself when multiple heads turned to stare at him.

“You’re literally the Commander of the Royal Navy, people back home would pay a pretty price to get you back if you were ever captured, right? Especially that Phil guy, acts like he’s your dad or something.” Sapnap explained. 

“He’s right, we really should lay low, I can’t believe I didnt think of that.” Alex joined in. 

“Why haven’t they tried yet? I’m sure with the reputation this place apparently has, they’d kill the lot of you and do what they would with me!” George was slightly panicked now, the thought that he and his crew was in danger from just existing on the stupid murder island. 

“Why do you think? Dream would quite literally rip anyone who tried to touch you limb from limb.” Sapnap said, casually signalling a waitress and giving her a quick wink. 

“He would?” George didn’t know how to react, his mind was reeling a bit. Why would Dream care that much about his safety? 

“Of course, we need you for this plan to work. Y’know, I think you should lighten up around him. He could throw you to the sharks if he really wanted to. But he doesn’t.” Sapnap seemed as though he wanted to say more but he kept his mouth shut.

Conversation continued around the table but George wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying, his gaze focused on the pirate Captain across the room who had now taken a seat at the bar. He and Vikk were still speaking, another man had also shown up behind the bar to join the conversation, George wondered who he was. 

As time passed, the bar became more crowded, the voices got rowdier and the drinks kept coming. Sapnap had no issue ordering drinks for the table, telling many stories about his travels on the Ender Eye and his favorite adventures. Both Karl and Alex were enthralled by the man, listening intently as they downed beer after beer, George prayed that wouldn’t get too drunk. 

“How long does it take to get information.” George mumbled under his breath, annoyed glare pointed towards Dream who was still laughing with the two men behind the bar. He had had a few drinks himself, feeling slightly tipsy, he could feel the warm buzz at the back of his mind sending a tingly feeling through his body. 

“I’m gonna go find the toilet.” George announced, standing up quickly and swaying a bit at the sudden headrush he got. He groaned quietly and held a hand up to his forehead before moving on.

“Be careful!” He heard Karl call from behind as he walked towards the bar. 

George wasn’t going to the toilet, he wanted to talk to Dream. He wanted to leave the noisy bar, surely he had the information he needed. 

With his gaze set and fully focused on Dream, George walked in a semi straight line up to the bar. But before he got there he bumped into a tall man who stepped out into his path, breaking the shorter man’s concentration. He stumbled back a bit on clumsy legs, almost tumbling over when a warm hand grabbed his forearm to stabilize him. 

“Are you alright, cutie?” A friendly voice asked, one laced with a familiar british accent. 

George looked up at the stranger. Oh, he was handsome. What? 

George blinked slowly taking in the light curly brown hair, kind smile, deep brown eyes, and angled face before him. He found himself finally registering what the stranger said, a dark flush attacking his cheeks. 

“Oh- uhm, yes, I’m fine.” George fumbled with his words, damn the alcohol in his system. He stood there awkwardly just staring at the man in front of him, “Uh, I’m sorry for bumping into you.” 

“That’s alright! Where are you from,” The man’s eyes wandered down to the golden brooch placed delicately on George’s chest, “that’s a pretty powerful ornament you’ve got there.” 

George looked down, protectively covering the brooch, “My mother gave it to me, it’s nothing. I’m from…” He had to think, he couldn’t say he was from London, “London.” 

Fuck.

“London, huh? High class aren’t you, makes sense, you truly are a beauty. Could be royalty I reckon.” The man continued, another rush of heat creeping onto George’s face. 

“No.. definitely not. You’re flattering me too much.” George giggled, unable to stop himself from the natural reaction. It had been awhile since he had someone outwardly flirt with him, it felt nice. 

“You must be humbling yourself. What’s your name? I’m-” 

“Wilbur!” An angry shout cut through the chatter of the bar. George jolted slightly at the commotion, whipping his head to the side to see that Dream was approaching him, a deep frown carved into his features. 

“Well, shit. What have I done now, Dreamie-poo?” The man, Wilbur, in front of George raised his hands in defense.

“Get away from him.” Was all Dream said, maneuvering himself so that he was in between the two brits, his back to George. 

 “What? Is he with you?” Wilbur raised his brows in a sly surprise, “You move quick.” 

“No-- that’s not,” Dream stuttered, “That’s not what I mean. Well, it is. But not in that way, whatever. Just get back, don’t cause a scene.” 

George was annoyed, he didn’t know what was going on but what right did Dream have to interrupt a nice conversation. Before Wilbur could respond to Dream, George wiggled his way back into the fray by pushing Dream back a bit. 

He turned to Dream, “What’s wrong with you? You can go off and have a conversation with strangers for three fucking hours but as soon as I talk to someone it’s a problem?” 

“George- you don’t understand-” Dream tried,

“George? That’s a pretty name, sounds very familiar. Sounds rich.” Wilbur smirked, pulling the attention back to him. George didn’t notice but the man’s gaze was still stuck to the gold brooch he wore, in such an easy to grab place. 

George didn’t know what came over him but he felt the strong urge to spite Dream by continuing to speak with Wilbur like the pirate wasn’t there, “It is, very much so. Wilbur is a nice name as well, why don’t we get out of here?” 

“George! What the hell?” Dream grabbed George’s wrist, “I don’t know what’s up with you or if this is how you usually act but you cannot leave this bar with him.” 

“You’re not the boss of me you asshole!” George tried to pull his arm back from Dream but the Captain had a strong grip.

“Let the man do what he wants, Dream.” Wilbur cooed, gently holding onto George’s hand in an attempt to pull him away from the pirate. 

Dream didn’t hesitate to smack Wilbur’s hand away and give him a strong shove to the center of the chest, sending the other man stumbling backwards into another customer, knocking them over into someone else, and that person into another. 

The domino effect of bumping into other people quickly made way for angry responses, the customer's invloed all getting pissed at one another. George watched in shock as the bar suddenly turned into a fighting frenzy, punches being thrown left and right out of nowhere. 

“Shit.” Dream hissed under his breath pulling George by the arm out the door of the bar, once they were outside and a little ways down the street Karl, Alex, and Sapnap came bounding after them. 

“What just happened!?” Sanap exclaimed, looking back and forth between George and Dream. 

“This idiot was flirting with Wilbur Soot.” Dream turned to George, “You would’ve gotten robbed blind if I didn’t interfere.” 

George knitted his brows, “I think you were just jealous!” 

“Jealous? Why the fuck would I be jealous?” Dream asked, his voice raising in pitch as he defended himself. 

“You were! You started a whole bar fight over it.” George pushed on it, clearly making Dream even more annoyed. 

“That- You are such an idiot, I did it to protect you.” Dream looked back towards the bar, “I’ve got the information we needed. We’re leaving.” 

And with that, the Captain ran off ahead of them, leaving the crew to follow. 

“I didn’t need protecting.” George frowned, a pout finding its way onto George’s face.

“He was right about Wilbur though,” Sapnap chimed in, “That man is a well known thief. Got the lightest hands out there, you woulda never known what hit ya.” 

George’s frown deepened, that meant Dream was right. Again. And George had just made a fool out of himself once again. 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

The next time George saw Dream again was back on the ship, but not until after dinner. They had a wonderful night, Hbomb had cooked what seemed like was the best food George had ever had. With the restockment of the ship, there was more food than the crew knew what to do with. It was the best meal he had had since he’d left England. 

During dinner he had wondered where Dream was, going as far as to ask Sapnap if he knew. Sapnap had told him that he decided to eat in the Captain's quarters, mulling over and mapping out their next destination with the information he had gotten from Vikk at the bar. 

The crew was now busying themselves with drinking and dancing in celebration of the slightest lead they’d gotten. The band played a shanty that George had never heard but enjoyed, the lighthearted and jovial music filled his ears and the night sky. He wondered what really would’ve happened if Dream hadn’t stepped in earlier, he felt stupid, the way he would’ve walked off with a random stanger just to spite Dream. What was wrong with him? 

He leaned on the mast in the center deck watching with a small smile as everyone laughed together, enjoying the music and good news. Maybe being on a pirate ship wasn’t the worst thing in the world. He could feel it changing him though, he wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing. 

His attention was caught when he noticed Dream had come out of his quarters, speaking to Sam on the sidelines, watching Tommy and Tubbo bounce around to the music along with some other crew members. George didn’t notice that Dream had been focused on him until the Captain began to walk over to him, making his way through the crew, the low light illuminating his dirty blond hair. George wondered what he looked like under that mask. 

“Hey.” He said once he had gotten over to George.

“Hello.” George responded quietly, running a nervous hand over his opposite forearm.

“I’m sorry.” Dream rushed out.

“Sorry?” George looked up, staring into the drawn eyes of the white smiley faced mask, “What are you sorry for?”

“I’m sorry for interrupting your conversation. But it was the truth. Wilbur would’ve snatched that brooch right off your chest as soon as he got the chance.” Dream pointed to the brooch in question. 

“Oh,” George found himself with a hand over the item once again, “Well, that’s okay. It’s not your fault. I should’ve been more careful.” He kept it abrupt there was so much more he could say but the air around them felt closed off and distanced. 

“Yeah…” Dream trailed off. A beat of silence between them. The music was slowed, not so much of a shanty anymore, replaced by a sweet instrumental with a swaying rhythm.

“Would you like to dance?” Dream asked, pulling George out of his thoughts. He had a hand outstretched, his face absolutely unreadable. 

George’s eyes went wide with surprise, he pulled his hands close to his chest, his heart was pounding, he could hear the beat up in his ears. A light burning sensation traveled up his neck to the back of his ears, he swallowed hard. 

“I- uhm” He didn’t know what to say.

He swallowed nervously again, “I think I’m going to head to bed early.” He nodded, walking away quickly before he could receive a response. 

George quickly made his way down into the ship, heat now burning his face down to his shoulders. His heart was beating like a rabbit running from a wolf and to him-- 

 

There was no explanation for it.



Chapter Text

“Dream! Dream-” Tommy nagged the captain, running after him and grabbing the back of his shirt, “Bring me an’ Tubbo along this time! We can help! I swear.”

George watched with a subtle amusement as he stood next to Tubbo, looking on as the young blond tried to wiggle his way into the next mission. Tubbo stood fiddling with the hem of his shirt, staring at the scene with a concerned look,

“It’s okay Tommy-” He began, 

George placed a hand on Tubbo’s shoulder, “Let him do it. I want to see what happens next.” 

Tubbo shot George a look, not exactly disappointment but it was pretty close. George couldn't help but giggle a little bit at it, looking back to the mess of an argument happening in front of them.

Dream finally turned to Tommy, placing both hands on either of the tall boy’s shoulders, “We already have everyone we need Tommy. You and Tubbo will only slow us down.” 

Tommy smacked Dream’s hands away taking a step back, “Get rid of Sapshit and the other idiots then! They went last time!” 

“Tommy this isn’t up for negotiation.” Dream crossed his arms.

“Sure it is! C’mon, please big man, i’ll do anything!” He paused, “Not anything.” 

Dream sighed, “This could be dangerous Tommy.” 

“Danger is my middle name.” 

“No it’s not, I’m not having this discussion.” 

“Oh, but you are. C’mon, just… let us come! We can be helpful I promise! I swear, Ranboo probably needs a break from us anyways. Have Karl stay so they can do navigator shit together, that’s what he’s here for anyways,” The boy turned to George, “Right, Gogy?” 

“Don’t drag me into this.” George frowned, it was true though, Ranboo was supposed to be learning more than he was at the moment. 

“Oh fuck you, unhelpful dickhead,” Tommy muttered, obviously loud enough for everyone to hear, “PLEASE.” He begged, slapping his hands together and shaking them at Dream. 

George rolled his eyes, “Just let him come along.”

“Are you kidding me? Why the hell should I do that?” Dream directed his attention to George past Tommy’s bony shoulder. 

“To get him to shut up, what’s the worst that could happen?” George shrugged. After their second week on the ship the tension from the last stop on Isle De Arousa had considerably lowered, making George more comfortable when it came to pitching ideas to Dream. 

“The- What’s the worst that could happen? We could be killed becasue this idiot couldn’t keep his stupid fucking mouth shut. That’s the worst that could happen.” Dream was frustrated, his hands balled by his sides. 

“Tommy, you can come if you promise to keep your mouth shut. Tubbo will make sure of it.” George said, patting the back of the boy next to him. 

“No-” Dream started but Tommy was quicker to respond, talking at one hundred words a second. 

“YES! Thank you so much George,” Tommy made his way over to George, grabbing the other man’s hands and shaking them vigorously, “I- I mean, WE won’t disappoint you! I promise you that!” With that, he slung his arm over Tubbo and dragged the other boy away to prepare to leave the ship.

“George! What the hell?” Dream made his way over to the other man, a couple weeks ago George would’ve flinched but being on the ship long enough he learned Dream was all bark and no bite. 

“Yes?” George responded sweetly, “Is there a problem? I’ll go tell Alex and Karl they’re staying on board. They won’t mind. You do whatever you want with Sapnap.” 

Dream didn’t get a chance to respond before George had already walked off, no doubt that he was even more pissed now. George liked to make him mad, it was always so funny. 

And easy. 



✵                                ✵                                  ✵



Around an hour later the final crew going out to the island was decided. Tommy, Tubbo, Dream, George, and Sapnap. Karl and Alex hadn’t complained too much at being kicked out of the group, they had been playing a game of cards with Bad and Ranboo. 

“This island isn’t empty?” Tubbo asked, staring off the ship at the lonely looking island, from the side they were seeing there were no signs of human life. 

“This is the one Lazar said, Vikk backed him up on it. Apparently there had been talk about a secret hideout somewhere on the island in the bar, some of the crew members from The Empress had visited a couple days before us.” Dream said as he untied the rope holding up the longboat on the side of the ship, lowering it into the water slowly. 

Once it had reached the ocean, Sapnap tossed a ladder over the side, “Ladies first.” He said to George, he swung his arm to the side with a small bow. 

“You’re a fucking idiot.” George scoffed, shoving him hard as he passed by, quickly hopping over the side of the ship and climbing down the ladder. 

The others followed suit, leaving Dream to give Puffy instruction on keeping the ship in order before climbing down himself. Once in the longboat he sat towards the front, grabbing a paddle and beginning to row. 

George and Tubbo watched as the other pirates followed his movements, deciding to also pick up the last two paddles and row.

It was a quick trip from the moored ship to the white sandy beach but George’s arms were aching, was he really that out of shape? Tubbo dropped the paddle back into the hull of the boat and looked at his hands, they were a little red from tough work that he’d never experienced. 

“Something new and different, right?” George asked, nudging the smaller boy. 

“I like it.” Tubbo smiled widely at him, “Feels like an adventure.” 

“Yeah, an adventure.” George echoed as they all exited the boat, Dream already over at the treeline, searching around for any sign of human activity. 

“So! What’s the plan? Sneak attack? Oh! Or we could find them and trap them in their hideout and just leave em there.” Tommy went off again, speaking quickly and surely, grabbing a stick to draw lines in the sand. 

“Well, first of all, we need to find a trace. I’m not seeing anything right now. We don’t even know if they’ve really been here.” Dream responded, rubbing his chin in thought. 

“Do you think Vikk would lie?” Sapnap asked, holding a large stick, a bit of a char on the end of it. 

“Where did you get that?” George asked, grabbing the stick out of Sapnap’s hand, closely examining the char at the end of it. 

“Hey! That was gonna be my walking stick! I found it over there, it was laying right next to a bunch of others, go get your own.” Sapnap snatched the stick back. 

Dream was over at the area Sapanp got his stick before anybody could blink twice, he crouched next to a pile of charred sticks and burnt out coals, “Looks like we have our lead. Someone has been here.” 

“You missed a whole fire pit? You really are an idiot, ain’t ya Sapshit.” Tommy cackled 

“Hey! I didn’t even notice that. I was focused.” Sapnap shoved at the boy, a pout on his face. 

“It’s fine, search around, maybe we can track them down, there’s got to be footprints somewhere around here.” Dream’s voice was on edge, he knew something was close, it had to be.

Hours passed. 

Nobody had found anything. 

George had walked up and down the coast multiple times but nothing had come up. The only notable thing was a bunch of rocks near the south side of the island, it would be an easy hiding place but George hadn’t discovered anything over there. No sign of anybody ever being there. 

He was walking back when he heard a rustle from the treeline, his hand shot to the small dagger he had stuffed through his belt. He watched the forest with a close precision, listening quietly as the birds continued to chirp and the cicadas began to whir loudly. 

After a moment of silence he eased up and looked to his right, checking to see if the group was in sight. From where he was he could see the rock formation but he could barely see the crew in the far distance. 

He heard a shuffle in the brush again, this time he was concerned. It was loud enough to be something big, and not just an animal. He watched closely one again, this time inching closer to the sound, knife drawn from the sheath that had held it to his body. 

“Hello?” He called out, hoping it may just be some traveller who had gotten stranded on the island. 

He got to the treeline, he peered into the forest, the light dimming slightly creating a dark shadow under the trees. He couldn't see very far into the dense wood, but the hair stood up on the back of his neck, he could feel eyes on him. 

He was about to call for Dream when the quick movement of a shadow caught his eye, he turned his head back to the sylvan. He whipped his head to the side, catching sight of a woman who had just jumped out of the shrubbery, she gave him a chilling grin, her right canine a solid piece of shining gold. 

“Watch out pretty boy!” Was all she said, a thick accent coating her voice, before running off towards the cove of rocks George had checked about four times. 

“What-” George was about to give chase when a man emerged from the forest in front of him. This man was huge, muscular and hairy, oh god, and smelly , George gagged a bit when the man came at him, he had no time to react before the man grabbed his thin arms with his well worked, rough hands.

George lost grip on the knife he had as the man pulled his wrists behind his back, “Hey! Let go off me you- you fucking createn!” George fought with all his might against the man as he felt rope work its way around his slender wrists. Fuck. He wasn’t getting out of this one on his own. 

“DREAM!” He called as loudly as he possibly could, voice scaring some of the nearby birds, they flew out of the trees, creating a sort of flare to Geroge’s location. 

“Shit.” He heard the man mumble. The man abruptly dropped George into the sand and took off in the same direction the woman had gone. 

“Oof-” George fell face first into the sand, his hands tied tightly behind his back, he could feel the bristly rope rubbing away at his skin as he struggled. He used his legs to flip himself back over, trying to get the sand out of his face with his shoulders once he was on his back. He attempted to sit up, successfully sitting up in two tries, he yelled again, “TUBBO! SAPNAP! DREAM! EVEN TOMMY WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU GUYS!?”  

A couple moments later he saw their figures coming closer, running towards him, but it was too late, the other pirates had gotten to their hidden rowboat and were hauling ass away from the island. George watched in astonishment as a large black ship came out of nowhere, beelining over the horizon to meet the small rowboat. He struggled against the ropes again, there's no way these fuckers were getting away now.

Dream was the first to reach him, skidding to a stop in the sand and immediately crouching down, “What happened? Where did they come from? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine! They came out of nowhere! They’re getting away!” George struggled against the rope more, the roughness of the material digging into his skin. 

“Stop moving so much, I’m going to cut you out.” Dream said, taking the dagger held on his right thigh out of the sheath. 

“What happened!?” Tubbo panted as he approached with the others.

“That’s a big fuckin’ ship!” Tommy exclaimed.

“You let them tie you up George?!” Sapnap asked.

“Shut up, we have bigger issues to worry about. How are we meant to catch them!?” George asked no one in particular, watching as the boat and ship met, The Empress was just as intimidating as the stories said. 

“We need to get back to the Ender Eye immediately.” Dream spoke lowly, snapping the last rope from George’s wirst. 

George brought his wrists up to his chest, rubbing them lightly, a red ring surrounded each one, the skin raw from being rubbed back and forth. He got up, wiping the sand off his clothes, “Let's go then.” 

“Wait- Where’d Tubbo go?” George looked around frantically for the younger boy. 

“We don’t have time for this.” Dream exhaled loudly, looking around as well. 

“Guys!” Tubbo popped out of the brush next to them holding a ripped up, dirty piece of paper, “I think I just found us a clue!” He stated proudly. 

“What is it?” Dream asked, looking from Tubbop back to The Empress. 

“It’s a map! They’ve got this area right here marked off. It could be a lead. It seems to be the end of a route. It’s probably their next stop! We could beat them there! This is perfect!” Tubbo was practically bouncing up and down in excitement. 

“Hell yeah! That’s my best friend!” Tommy grabbed the other boy into a quick celebratory hug. 

Dream took the map from Tubbo’s outstretched hand, taking the markings on the map into consideration, “Where was this?” 

“Well,” Tubbo was released from Tommy’s excited grip, “I saw a little bit of shine near the treeline. There’s a compass over there, I didn’t think it was important but that map was a couple paces to the side of it. Those other pirates must’ve dropped it while they were making their escape. I wonder why they stopped at this island though.” 

“According to the map this was a meeting place. Those two we saw must’ve come from a neighboring island for the ship to pick them up inconspicuously.” Dream guessed, face still in the map. 

“Let’s head back to the ship. This is great news. But we’ve got no time to waste. We need this lead.” Dream announced, rolling the map back up. 

 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵



Spirits were at an all time high, thanks to Tubbo they had the lead they needed to catch up to Captain Mathias Hayward and finally put a stop to his pillaging days. The crew was now celebrating, as the sun set happy voices and music filled the air, a beautiful array of pure bliss washing over every single face. 

George felt a pang in his heart seeing the reactions of everyone on board. He never expected to feel so close and safe with a raggedy bunch of pirates. They were all outlaws, technically, morally, George should still hate them all. He should. Deep down he knows that given his position he should have arrested the whole crew when he got the chance. But being with them for the long weeks crossing the seas, he couldn’t find it in his heart to hate people who had shown him and his men nothing but kindness. He could barely stand the relationship that had formed between Tubbo and Tommy, sickeningly sweet, it is. But in truth, it made him happy. Tubbo hadn’t had anyone in the ranks that were close to his age, George had always seen him by himself. Seeing him mesh so well with the abrasive blond was quite the scene but they just… fit. 

He’d also noticed that the rest of his crew had created bonds throughout their time on board, with almost everyone. No one pirate on the ship was ill-willed to any of them, all of them open to new relationships and conversations. Karl and Alex had gotten quite close to Sapnap, even George found himself enjoying the stocky man's aggressively kind nature, it was endearing. Even Ranboo, silent and shy had been getting along with the others his age, Tommy and Tubbo practically adopting him into their newfound pack. 

George watched the festivities from a bit of a distance, leaning against the sideboard of the ship, the cold ocean air nipping at the nape of his neck. He hummed quietly to the music, a small smile on his lips, arms crossed comfortably. By now, the sun had gone down and the stars began to show themselves, the light of the moon pooling into the deck of the ship fighting with the orangey light created by the many lanterns littering the ship's stern. 

Around 30 minutes later the excitement died down and the crew ended up splitting off, some heading to their quarters under deck, some staying on deck to talk in quiet circles. George shifted to a different spot on the ship up on the quarterdeck, listening to the hushed whispers fade away as the sound of soft waves pushing up against the side of the Ender Eye took over. He leaned over the railing on the left side of the ship, watching intently as the ocean lapped at the planks below him, it was calming to say the least. It rid him of any thoughts he had been holding onto. 

“Beautiful. Isn’t it?” A voice came from beside him, a voice that he barely recognized. He glanced over, Dream’s voice was softer than he had ever heard it, barely over a whisper. 

“It is.” He replied, looking back over the sea, a building sense of tension growing in his chest that he wished would go away. 

Dream shifted beside him, leaning the small of his back on the side of the ship and placing his elbows on the railing to support himself, “It’s nice to see the crew so happy.” 

George nodded, stealing another look at the Captain, his dirty blonde hair looking almost golden in the moonlight. The mask covering his face shone under the light as well, casting a dark shadow on his cheeks, covered in freckles George noted. He’d never noticed before. How unintimidating. He couldn’t help but let out a breathy laugh. 

“What?” Dream turned his head to look at George, a worried frown on his face.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” George waved his hand nonchalantly, “I just… noticed you have freckles.” 

Dream brought a hand unconsciously to his cheek, as if he could feel the freckles, “Oh, yeah, I do. You’ve got some too.” 

“What? No I don’t?” George tilted his head to the side a bit.

“You do,” Dream tapped the middle of his mask, “Right on the bridge of your nose, they must’ve popped up since you’ve been in the sun so much.” 

“I hadn’t noticed.” George chewed on the bottom of his lip, trying to not think too much about the fact that Dream had noticed a change in his facial features before he did. 

“As much as I love the freckle talk,” Dream began, making George’s heart spike in anticipation, “I actually did want to talk to you about something.” 

“O-oh? What’s that?” George asked. His mind was running through the things Dream might say. Maybe ‘get off my boat, we don’t need you anymore we’re abandoning you on this island’ or possibly ‘i don’t want you getting in my way anymore, I’m throwing you overboard’ or ‘any last words?’ or-

“Why do you hate me so much?” Dream derailed George’s downspiraling train of thought, “I know we didn’t have the best first impressions but was that really something to hold a two year grudge over?” 

The masked man fiddled with the one of the rings on his left hand, turning it in what seemed to be a nervous manner, waiting patiently for a response. 

George didn’t know where to begin. He did hate Dream. Well, hate is a strong word. George wasn’t sure how he felt anymore really. After spending some time together he couldn’t find a single real reason to dislike the Captain as much as he did.

“I don’t hate you, Dream…” He let fall out before he could stop himself, he couldn’t bear the anxious energy coming from the other man. This moment was the quietest George had ever seen the pirate. 

Dream took a large breath, “What happened two years ago still matters to you though. I know it does, you wouldn’t be so cold to me if it didn’t matter. And I know you don’t just hate pirates because you talk to everyone else on board so, why?” He turned to face George. 

George straightened up, looking up at the man before him. He couldn’t just tell Dream everything . Could he? 

“It’s personal.” George ended on, “A long story.” 

“We’ve got time.” Dream responded, obviously he was not leaving this conversation without some kind of answer. 

George exhaled sharply, looking out to the sea once again so he wouldn’t have to look Dream in the… face, while he spoke. 

“When we met it was my first ever solo mission. The first time I was fully in charge of a routine checkup in Port Royal.” He took another breath in, pausing for a couple seconds before continuing, “My father has never really been a great support in my life. He expects the world but never gave me the chance to give it to him. So, Port Royal was my chance to show him that I was capable of doing what he wanted me to do.” 

George took a small moment of silence to look at Dream, the mask stoically silent, no sign of emotion behind the drawn features. George didn’t let him deter him, he knew Dream was listening intently, “When you distracted me that day it was great. I shouldn’t have let it happen but in the moment there was just something about you that I couldn’t let get away-” George felt a bit of a flush on his cheeks, he pushed through the feeling and continued, “When I got down the port, after you had sailed away, I had to deal with the consequences of not being vigilant. Once I was back in England I was immediately called a failure. My father left. The last thing he said to me was that he couldn’t stand to look at my face anymore. That he needed to get away from me, against the King, against everyone. Because of me. You know, he’s wanted for abandoning his post. The search never lasted long but he abandoned his job because of my failure. I knew that he wanted to leave, I thought that if I did one thing right he wouldn’t go. That he’d stay and teach me. Be the father that he was supposed to be but… no. He was too disappointed to stay. It’s not like much has changed, I’ve always been a failure. I don’t even do my job right. I had to get the help of pirates to stop more pirates! I just-” George ran his fingers through his hair, burying his face in his hands, he didn’t want to talk anymore. 

“George-” Dream started, his voice compassionate and understanding.

“And I blamed you. I despised and resented you for years all because I couldn’t do one thing right and I ruined my fathers life because of it.” George mumbled into his hands solemnly. He didn’t want to cry. That would be ridiculous. 

His eyes began to water. Tears coming to the brim of his eyes, not even daring to fall over the edge. He looked back up to Dream, wishing just for once he could see the other man's face, see what he was thinking, “I’m so-”,

Dream stepped forward without warning, pulling George into a tight hug. He felt a warm hand on his back, a thumb rubbing deep circles into his shoulder blade comfortingly. At first he tried to shove Dream away, a small “no” escaping his lips as he pushed weakly at the taller man’s chest. When he gave up he curled his hands together between them, burying his face into Dream’s shoulder, his head lined up almost perfectly to fit just above the other’s clavicle. He didn’t struggle but he kept his hands to himself, quietly trying to force the tears back as he let himself be comforted. It was nice. It was something he didn’t know he needed. 

It felt good to get everything off his chest. It felt even better to have Dream accept his apology. It was a direct apology, if one at all, but the younger man seemed to understand what George had wanted to say. 

They stayed like that for a while, Dream running his hands slowly and softly down George’s back. George took deep breaths in, carefully calming himself down before he pulled away from Dream’s chest. The captain let his hands drop from George’s back but they lingered, sliding from his back to his shoulders and down his arms. A tingly sensation ran through George as Dream’s fingers moved, soft and light, they stayed on his forearms for a short while before giving him a light squeeze and letting go. George never could’ve imagined he would miss the feeling of the gentle calloused hands on him, leaving sparks across his skin. 

He looked up to Dream, still wishing it wasn’t a mask. He couldn’t help but wonder why the mask was even there. What in the world could be so terrible that the pirate was hiding his face with a mask he never took off. George decided in that moment that he wouldn’t pry, he didn’t have the energy. 

“Thanks.” He mumbled, wiping the remaining wetness off of his cheeks with his sleeve. 

“Are you feeling any better?” Dream asked, a lilt of worry to his tone. 

“Yeah, actually, much better.” George shrugged, a small smile coming to his face. 

“Good.” Dream mirrored the expression, “I’m glad that… that’s all out in the open now.” 

“Now you know why I hated you.” George sighed, looking back to the floor. He felt strange saying it now. 

“Well, that’s in the past,” Dream placed a gentle hand under George’s chin, pulling it back to face him, “You don’t hate me now… do you?”

George faltered, surprised by the bold move of the pirate, he swallowed hard, “N-no I don't. I don’t think I could… Well- I mean- I-” George stuttered, a deep red falling across his cheeks and down the back of his neck. There was no way Dream couldn’t feel the sudden heat from him. 

Dream dropped his hand like it was nothing, perking back up, “Good! Glad to hear it. Wouldn’t really be able to get anywhere if you did. I don’t hate you either.” 

George quickly recovered from the moment, rolling his eyes, “You never did, you idiot.” 

Dream’s smile softened, “You’re right, I never could.” 

George’s eyes widened slightly. Dream knocking him out of the trance by placing a hand on his shoulder, “I think I’m going to head to bed, you should get some sleep too. We’ve got a long day tomorrow.” 

George just nodded, watching quietly as the other man walked back to the Captain’s Quarters. He stood there in wonder, questioning his every movement, his every thought. 

His heart was, once again, beating in his ears. He placed a hand over it, maybe in some hope that it would stop racing, but it didn’t. 

He didn’t hate Dream.

In fact, he didn’t think he ever really did. 



Chapter Text

The night before had lifted a weight off of George’s heavy shoulders. He had gotten many emotions off his chest but he found himself challenged by new ones. He had gone to sleep content, giddy off the good lead and the release of tension between him and Dream but now, sitting underdeck in a hammock he thought to himself of the way Dream’s hands had travelled over his body. Imagining the invisible sparks emitting from the other man's touch brought a hot flush to his face. He stood abruptly from the hammock when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs behind him, whipping around to see Alex standing at the base of the wooden steps. 

“Woah, were you jackin’ it or something? What’s with the reaction.” Alex laughed.

“I was not! That’s- That is so gross.” George crossed his arms, wishing his face hadn’t gotten even redder. 

“Then what were you doing?” Alex questioned, walking over and sitting in the hammock next to George, swinging back and forth with his toes barely touching the floor. 

“I wasn’t doing anything, I was just… thinking.” 

“Thinking about what?” Alex smirked, “Jackin’ it?”

George had enough, he punched his friend in the shoulder. Hard. 

“Ouch!” Alex brought his hand to the place of impact, rubbing it furiously, “Okay, jeez dickhole it was a joke. Dios mío, golpeaste fuerte.” He muttered to himself

“I can’t believe I was actually going to tell you about what happened.” George said, wait- oh shit-

“What happened? What do you mean ‘what happened’? Something happened?” Alex dropped his hurt act and stood up to grab George by the shoulders, “You have to tell me now!” 

“I meant, just… about finding the lead. I was thinking about how I’m glad we’re getting closer to being done with this whole excursion.” George found himself looking anywhere but Alex’s eyes. 

“You are so lying to me, you can’t even look at me. Tell me the truth George, I can tell if you're lying. I know things. I’m like a human lie detector.” 

George chewed on his lip a bit, it was true, Alex had always been good at picking out his lies, “Fine. Dream and I had a little talk last night. Some things were shared and we’re on good terms. At least, I assume we are.” 

“A talk? What about? I thought you despised him.” Alex pressed on. 

“Well, you know about my Dad… I just realized that all that pent up anger was wrongly placed on Dream. Nothing more.” George fiddled with his fingers nervously. 

Alex gave him a reassuring smile, knowing full well just how George felt about his father, “Good for you. I’m glad that you talked about it. That’s great!” He gave an affectionate squeeze to George’s shoulder before letting his hands drop. 

“I’m glad we talked about it too. It was honestly getting exhausting to hate him, he makes it so goddamn difficult.” George sighed, his body relaxing from the stiffness he hadn’t even realized had him standing stick straight. 

“I guess you’ll have to wipe hate sex off the board then.” Alex tapped his chin with a false thoughtfulness. 

“Oh would you shut the fuck up. I can’t have one nice moment with you.” The blush George had fought against was back as he shoved Alex away, moving to go up the steps.

“You know me! I’ve gotta say what I really think!” Alex called from behind him, “Be careful up there! Tubbo and Tommy are dueling.” 

“Dueling?” George echoed, not bothering to look back. He never knew Tubbo to be much of a dueler. 

He found he was right when he reached the main deck, seeing his courier fall flat on his bum with a dull blade to his chest. Tommy standing above him with such pride, looking down at his fallen foe as if the battle had been well earned and not something of ease. 

“BAHAHAHA TUBBO YOU SUCK AT THIS!” Tommy exclaimed, pulling the sword back and holding out a hand for his friend. 

“I told you Tommy,” Tubbo grabbed the other boys hand and hoisted himself up, “I’m not trained in sword fighting.” 

“I ain’t trained either!” Tommy rebutted. 

“Yeah but you have experience with a sword. I don’t think I’ve even held a real one before today.” Tubbo patted the dust off his trousers. 

As the boys continued to talk George walked up to Sam, who was leaning against the mainsail mast, “You get stuck with babysitting duty?”

Sam nodded, “Everyone else has got something to do. I thought I’d chaperone so Tommy doesn't accidentally kill Tubbo.” 

“Well, that’s nice of you.” George looked back to the boys who had started to duel again, Tubbo’s attacks were messy and unplanned giving Tommy the perfect opportunity to strike with an aggressive offense. 

“Tubbo! Keep your guard up at all times. Don’t let him push you into a corner. Shoulders up as well, keep your strength in your lower body, it’s all in the footwork!” George called from the sideline, hoping maybe he could help. 

“You trained in swordplay?” Sam asked, his eyes still tracking the movements of the younger boys.

“Well, I have to be.” George rolled up his sleeves, now feeling the heat of the summer sun blasting down on them, “Couldn’t be Commander of the Royal Navy without that knowledge. I’ve been taught just about everything.” He kept his eyes on Tubbo, movements slow and awkward, “Watch his eyes Tubbo, don’t let him distract you!

“I bet that doesn’t mean anything for your skill.” A voice said from behind the two of them.

George rolled his eyes, “Shouldn’t you be steering the ship or something, Captain?”

“Nah, that’s Skeppy’s job anyways, he’s got it. I just finished routing our course with Karl and Ranboo, your men are surprisingly helpful.” Dream said, stopping to stand next to George.

“Of course they’re helpful. Otherwise they wouldn’t have come along.” George watched as Tommy shoved Tubbo to the ground again with a small wince, “Maybe I should help him more.” He said softly, mostly to himself. 

Dream snickered, “He wouldn’t be able to beat Tommy with your training anyways.” 

George’s features furrowed, “The hell is that supposed to mean? You think I can’t fight?” He looked up at Dream, unconsciously trying to peer under the mask from the side. 

Dream turned his head to George, “I’m saying that your training couldn’t have been as good as mine. It’s a completely different kind of swordplay. Nothing you’d understand.” 

“Can you even see through that stupid mask?” George asked, crossing his arms.

“I have my ways. Not like I couldn’t beat you with my eyes closed anyways.” Dream smirked, irking George even more. How pretentious. 

“Oh really? You think you could beat me in a match? I think I’d like to see you try.” George said as confidently as he could. 

“Of course I could. There’s no doubt. Right, Sam?” Dream asked his helmsman.

Sam shrugged, “I don’t know Dream, I’ve known you for a long ass time but I can’t say anything without seeing George in action. He could be better than you, though I can admit it’d be difficult.” 

“Let’s put it to the test then.” Dream said, turning to Tommy and Tubbo who were about to start their third duel, “Tommy! Give me your sword.” 

“Dreeeeam what the hell I was just about to beat Tubbo for the THIRD time.” Tommy whined, his shoulders slumping. 

“Oh thank god.” Tubbo muttered, quickly shuffling over to George, “Take this, please, my arms are aching.” Tubbo sighed, a tired smile still adorning his face. 

“Gladly, I can’t wait to see his stupid reaction when I kick his ass.” George took the sword from Tubbo, his competitiveness kicking in. 

“Go get em’ Commander.” Tubbo cheered weakly from his newfound spot next to Sam. 

“You better count your blessings, Gogy! There is no chance in hell you beat Dream.” Tommy boasted while passing George to go stand by Tubbo and Sam. 

“We’ll see about that.” George muttered to himself, twirling the handle of the sword in his hand, adjusting to the grip. It was a lot heavier than the swords used in the Navy but that didn’t mean he couldn’t adapt. 

“You really wanna do this? I’ll give you a chance to back out now. I won’t be going easy on you, y’know?” Dream spoke from the opposing side of George, the sword hanging loosely in his right hand. 

George grips the hilt of the sword with a crushing tightness before relaxing it a bit, he can’t let Dream’s cockiness put him off, “I don’t need to be babied. You’ll be sorry I didn’t go easy on you after this.” 

George didn’t let Dream get another word in, lowering himself and surging forward without warning, it wasn’t what he was taught. It was what he taught himself. Turns out for a young kid swinging a sword with the only intention of beating something up out of frustration turned out to be quite useful. The way he fought was a mix, a whirlwind of unexpected jabs that came from his own teachings and calculated steps only taught by the best tutor the Royal Navy had to offer. 

Dream obviously wasn’t expecting the sudden, threatening shift in energy, whipping his own weapon up just in time to stop George’s blade, “We’re on good terms,” He grunted with a smile still on his face, “Right, Georgie?” 

George was pushed back, stumbling back on his heels, he kept his gait wide, “Of course we are.” He mimicked the grin on his opponent's face with a mocking squint of his eyes. 

“You sure about that? Because I truly think you,” Dream moved forward, swinging his sword towards Goerge, “wanted to kill me.” He finished as George quickly maneuvered away. 

“Do you always talk this much during fights?” George asked, the metallic clang of weapon on weapon rang through the air as they collided again, George looking up into the middle of Dream’s mask. He wished he could see the other man’s eyes, he was quite unpredictable with them hidden behind the white monstrosity covering his face.

“Do-” George spun on his heel, away from an attack, placing himself in an offensive position, “Do you ever take off that stupid mask?” 

The swords smacked together again, dragging down the blades until the hilts were less than two inches from each other, George and Dream face to face. 

“Never. Why are you so obsessed about it?” Dream responded, his voice low, just loud enough for the two of them. 

George rolled his eyes dramatically, knocking Dream back and taking a step away in the process, “I'm not obsessed . Maybe I can slice it off for you. Sure would be less obnoxious to see your face.” 

“You really wanna see my face that bad, George?” Dream cooed in a sweet tone, 

“That’s not-” George started,

“Are you two gonna stop flirting anytime soon? I’m getting bored .” Tommy shouted from the sideline, his thin pale arms crossed lazily over his chest with a deadpan look on his face. 

“We aren’t flirting!” George yelled back, a heat raising back to his cheeks as Dream chuckled from opposite him. 

They had accumulated quite the crowd while they fought, more than half the crew had created a semi-circle around them. George even caught a glimpse of Punz sliding Sapnap a small leather coin bag, most likely some kind of bet on the fight. He looked back to his opponent, “Let’s get this over with.” 

George’s heart was in his ears and he dodged and weaved from Dream’s attack, looking for a way to get back on the offense. Sweat from the hot August sun was dripping down his face, he tried to ignore the feeling of his sleeves falling from his elbows and sticking to his forearms. He made a point not to wipe the sweat from his eyes, any wrong move and Dream would have him staring up at the cloudless sky with a blade to his neck. 

If he were a weaker man, which he is not , George would have been distracted by the looseness of Dream’s white tunic, the string holding together the long V on his chest slipping from its hold, exposing his tanned skin even more. George’s eyes most definitely did not get stuck on the shine of sweat coating the sun kissed expanse. Nope. Eyes up. 

Shit!

George was knocked onto his arse, his sword bouncing out of his hand when it smacked against the wooden planks of the ship. He immediately scampered into an upright position, the crew was getting restless, they reacted to his every move.

“Haha! I’ve won George! We really should’ve wagered something other than pride on this.” Dream took a step forward and that’s when George saw it, an opening. He swung his right leg from under his body out in front of him, using the force of Dream’s forward step against his leg shooting in the other direction.

With luck the Captain stumbled over George, tripping down to the same level as the Commander. Unluckily, George was still unarmed. In the moment of chaos he got to his feet, taking the few steps over to grab his weapon once again. When he turned around Dream was making his way back to his feet, George jumped into action. He brought his foot up with haste and pressed his boot against the other man's chest, breaking his already unstable balance. Dream fell back onto his back with a quiet ‘oof’, looking up to George who held his sword to his opponent's throat and a boot on his chest. 

“I think,” He panted, “I’ve won this one.” 

Dream frowned, letting his head fall back against the deck with a loud groan, “You fought fuckin’ dirty.” 

“How else would I?” George asked, the crowd of crewmates cheering and laughing as he extended a hand to the fallen Captain. 

Dream wordlessly grasped George’s hand, pulling himself up, George felt a shiver run down his back when Dream pulled him a bit closer by the hand when they were both standing again. 

“I’d lose to you anyday if I get to see that look in your eyes again.” He said in a hushed tone, backing away as quickly as he’d drawn the other in. 

George watched as he walked off, a familiar heat rising from the back of his neck. He starred as Dream began talking to a distraught Tommy and Sapnap who had been certain he would win. George guessed Sapnap had bet against him. He laughed breathlessly to himself. What a duel.

“That was sick!” Tubbo yelled excitedly, running up to George, breaking him out of his half trance. 

“I can’t believe you actually won! I thought he had you there at the end but then you switched it on ‘im. You gotta teach me to do that kinda stuff soon Commander!” Tubbo spoke a mile a minute, excitement prominent on his face. 

“Maybe someday. It’ll be good for you to get a handle on good swordplay techniques. If you want to beat Tommy that is. He had a good teacher.” George ruffled the younger boy's hair. 



✵                                ✵                                  ✵



The sun hovered beautifully just over the horizon by the time they docked. The ship was in need of another restock if they were to continue on their path to their final destination and everyone was getting a bit restless on board. George was looking forward to a night on land, he would finally be able to rest without the constant swaying of the sea rocking the ship constantly. He envied Dream for the bed in his cabin, something they had indeed fought over at the beginning of their stay on the ship, George pulling his Commander card but of course that never worked. He had been downgraded to a hammock in the crew quarters since the start of their journey. 

His back ached from the fight earlier in the day, when he had fallen back it left a sore spot around his lower back, nothing horrible, better than a loss of pride. He grinned just thinking about it, Dream hadn’t even looked him in the eye since the fight, cutely pouting in his quarters. Cutely? George shook his head, opting to help Punz move the gangplank as they reached the port. 

Again, it was unlike any place George had seen. He actually had no idea where they were. Somewhere close to Spain, on the waters between the Alboran and Balearic seas, a gorgeous clearness to the bright blue ocean gave George a sense of peace. 

The ship came to a halt at the dock and everyone began to unload, George grabbed what he could and walked onto the shore. He placed down the small barrel he had grabbed and looked around, the port was relatively empty which was odd.

He turned to Sapnap, “Where are we anyways? There’s nobody around?” 

“Port off the coast of Andorra, not a lot of people know about this particular place, that’s why it’s empty. But they’ve got enough shops and supply to get us what we need. We won’t have a place to stay though so I assume Dream’ll have up camp out on the beach tonight. A bit of time off the ship will be good for everyone.” Sapnap explained as he counted the number of barrels coming off the Ender Eye. 

“I guess I’ll help with that then.” George walked off to find a way to aid the crew, he had gotten used to doing the work around the ship with everyone else. He never would have thought pirates were so hardworking and open to doing different jobs. Everyone helped each other, including the Captain. It was different from the Navy, George never had to raise a finger, just give orders. 

They took a good while to set up camp, half of the crew taking their stock into town to get refills on food and fresh water while the other half set up a fire and sleeping accommodations a little bit down the shoreline. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon now, allowing the fire to spread its light across the sand as the moon and stars became more visible. 

The other half of the crew arrived back to the campsite omitting a few four to stay behind and keep watch over the ship and new stock. They all gathered around the fire, conversations flowing loudly as they ate and drank until they fell back with full stomachs and a light buzz. George enjoyed watching the others but he found his eyes trailing back to Dream, he wondered why he was so captivated as of late. Without his so-called hatred blurring his thoughts he seemed to be able to see the man in a different light, a better light. The Captain was basically glowing, interacting with his crew as if they were his family, he watched as Dream nudged Punz playfully as they argued with Tommy (and undecidedly Tubbo). 

He was taken away from the scene when he felt someone sit beside him. He turned his head to see that Sapnap had taken a quiet seat next to him, leaning back on his elbows, “I so thought you were losing that fight today.” 

“I saw. You and Punz made a bet. How much was it?” George asked gleefully, moving his gaze to the pirate next to him. 

“Not much. 20 shillings.” Sapnap sighed, “Still hurts though.” 

“I’m sure. Maybe you shouldn’t have bet against me then, hmm?” George smiled. 

“I thought Dream had it, he’s always been great with a sword. Since we were little, always so intent on being the best he could possibly be. But it was a fair fight, you got him in the end.” Sapnap chuckled.

“You knew him when you were younger?” George was intrigued, he didn’t know much about Dream. 

“Oh yeah. We grew up together.” Sapnap sat up and pointed to Sam, “It was me, Sam,” He moved his pointer to Callahan and then to Punz, “Callahan, Punz, and Dream. We’ve been together since the day I set foot on a ship.” 

“So.. you’ve been a pirate for a while then? I mean- all of you.” 

Sapnap nodded, still watching his friends with a soft smile, “Yeah, it’s crazy to see us now and think back to those days. The days Dream claimed he’d become the greatest pirate lord that ever roamed the seven seas. And he was right.” 

George followed Sapnap’s gaze to watch Dream again, “He really believes in you, you know.” 

George brought his gaze back to Sapnap, “What?”

Sapnap turned his head back as well, “He was persistent in getting your help. Wouldn’t let us even try to say something against the idea. Kept saying he just knew that you would agree. I don’t know what it is about you,” Sapnap’s gaze was critical and fixed in, “Seriously. But I guess you are different from the rest of the Navy.” 

“Why? Because I’m friends with you guys? I- I was persuaded.” His eyes flickered back to Dream for a split second. 

“Persuaded yes but you had the choice.” Sapnap shrugged

“What are you trying to say?” George was confused. 

“I’m saying that you could’ve spent your life hating Dream, you could’ve refused us, could’ve arrested all of us but you didn’t. I’m just wondering if you ever really did dislike our handsome little Captain over there.” Sapnap grinned a little. 

George fiddled with his fingers, “It’s not that.” He scoffed, eyes down on the sand, “I just had some self realization to do. I was dealing with my own things. Still am. Not important. Can we… talk about something else? This topic is-” George trailed, the familiar heat rising to his face again, literally everything led right back to his inevitable thoughts and feelings on Dream.

“Sure.” Sapnap smiled widely, “That gives me the information I wanted anyways.” 

“What does that mean?” George frowned. 

“That you like Dream.” 

“What?” George’s palms were clammy now. 

“Oh come on George, didn’t you just hear yourself? It’s all in the tone man.” Sapnap laughed kindly 

“I don’t- well, I like him of course but not in that way. No way,” George stole another glance to Dream, shocked to see that the man’s attention was on him from across the fire, “I don’t even know what his face looks like, what’s with the mask anyways?” George turned back to Sapnap, trying to change the subject.

“Not my place to say, he hasn’t always had it though. He’s handsome, trust me. No more changing the subject.” Sapnap effused. 

‘I’m not talking to you anymore.” George mumbled. 

“Fine, have it your way. But it’s true. You can’t see the way you look at him.” Sapnap said as he got to his feet, brushing the sand off his pants before making his way to sit with Dream and Punz. 

George got up himself, finding his way to a place he could sleep. He found that the majority of the crew was already asleep, he chose a spot close to to the edge of the group, next to Alex. He laid down and got as comfortable as possible, looking up to the bright stars, the hushed voices on the wind slowly lulling him to sleep. 

It couldn’t be past four am when George was awoken by a shuffle in the brush near their campsite. He pried his tired eyes open to see what had made the noise, surprised to see that Dream wasawake. The man finished tying the mask back around his head before taking a look around and making his way into the deep forest close to the shore. 

Where could he be off too? George thought before sleep captured him once again.

Chapter Text

“We need to avoid the current that’ll push us too far into the Levantine Sea, it’d take days to get back to our destination. You said the map was marked around Greece?” Karl asked, leaning back on the brilliantly crafted mahogany desk in Dream’s cabin. He brought his index finger to the old map in his hands, trailing down the imaginary current in the Mediterranian. 

“Yes, it’s the black ink x on the island off the west of Athens.” Dream responded, looking over Karl’s shoulder. 

George watched the two from the other side of the cabin, he had taken it upon himself to do a little explorining. Who knows what secrets the Captain’s cabin may hold. His eyes flit around the space, from the soft red sheets of the large bed off to the side of the room to the beautifully manufactured globe in the corner next to some tall bookshelves. George wondered if Dream was an avid reader, he took a book from the shelf, flipping quickly though the well loved pages. It was obvious that this room was lived in, it even smelled like the particular cologne Dream wore, light and woody, something akin to a walk through a cedar forest. 

“Ahem,” George’s head spun around, “Are you going to continue to snoop or can we discuss this?” Dream grinned, his words were lighthearted. 

“Ah,” George sputtered, putting the book back, “Yes. Of course. I wasn’t snooping.” He turned and walked back over to the desk, the orangey-red light coming through the large glass windows illuminating his flushed cheeks. 

“Whatever you say.” Dream turned back to the map as Karl giggled. 

George gave the navigator a rotten look that just made him giggle even harder. The commander rolled his eyes and peered over the side of the map to see what exactly they had been discussing while he was… distracted. 

“What are your thoughts George? You’ve surely sent ships on this trade route.” Dream questioned, repeating the trailing motion on the map across the route he was talking about. 

“I’d say we try to stay away from the trade routes, it’ll put us out in the open.” He scanned the map, eyes following the swirling arrows, “Is there a way we can avoid the current while staying straight on course here?” He pointed on the map, moving his finger straight from their current position to the black mark on their destination. 

Karl hummed, “I believe so… I think we may be able to loop below, here, and then come back up from the other side. That way we’ll be out of sight of regular routes and we’ll have an easy trip to the island.” He followed the path with the tip of a quill, the soft feather trailing across the paper. 

“Then that’s what we’ll do. We need to get there undetected. If Hayward gets any advantage we’re royally fucked.” Dream nodded. 

George sighed, their final days were coming up and he was getting nervous. It wouldn’t be long until they arrived at the small island, perhaps even less than a day. There would be a fight by the morning of the next day. 

“Well, if that's all you need from me I promised that I’d help Hbomb with dinner, Sapnap requested my special garlic potatoes and how could I say no?” Karl grinned, placing the map back on the cluttered desk. 

“Yeah, with the track settled I think we’re alright. Thanks Karl.” Dream smiled as the other man excitedly bounced out of the cabin, immediately dragged to the side by Alex, who had been waiting for him outside. 

“So, I guess I’ll go see what I can do to help out-” George began to head for the door when he felt a warm hand wrap around his wrist.

“Wait-” Dream let go quickly, as if he’d been burned, “We- We need to talk about the plan for tomorrow, right? We can’t just go in blind.” 

George lowered his gaze to the way Dream’s hand was clenched by his side before moving back up to the mask, “Are you… nervous?” 

Dream scoffed, “It’s not what it looks like.” 

“Sure it isn’t,” George grinned, “You’re so stiff!” 

“Well, it’s not like this isn’t a big deal, George.” 

“Well, Dream ,” He mimicked the other’s tone, “I know that. I’m just pointing out the obvious.” 

“It’s not obvious.” Dream countered. 

“What? You literally look like you need to take a shit and you’re telling me it’s not obvious?” George put his hands together before imitating an explosion with them, “Dream’s gonna blow from the stress in T-minus 3…” 

Dream groaned, “You are so obnoxious sometimes.” 

“2…” 

“I’m not nervous.” 

“1!...” 

“Okay! I am nervous. But… it’s not about Hayward. I- I could care less about whatever fight is gonna go down tomorrow.” Dream folded his arms across his chest, keeping a guarded position.

“Then… What is it? You know you can tell me.” George laughed humorlessly, “I already poured my heart out.” 

Dream shifted, nervously fiddling with one of the golden rings around his fingers, “I can’t tell you.” 

“Why not?” George pushed, he wasn’t quite annoyed but it did hurt a little. He thought that they had gotten through to one another recently. 

“It’s not for you to know.” Dream stated. The nervousness in his voice replaced with something more stern. 

George’s features furrowed, “What is that supposed to mean? I can’t know anything about what you’re thinking? I’d like to know, especially since we are literally going into a battle in the morning.” 

George had a bit of venom to his words now, what was Dream hiding? The man he had been completely vulnerable with for the past week wasn’t able to speak now? No. That wasn’t going to slide. 

“Stop prying. Don’t make this personal.” Dream frowned, “This isn’t about you.” 

“I’m not making it about me? What the fuck is your issue? Why can’t you just tell me what’s going on-- I thought,” George paused, “I thought we were friends.” 

“Just because I don’t tell you everything doesn’t mean we aren’t friends George, I just said not to make this personal!” 

“You! You are such an idiot! If anything we’re both at fault here. I can admit that. You just keep pushing me away and I don’t like it. So, please, just… tell me.” George pushed again, a softer tone, hoping he could deescalate the situation. Unconsciously he reached out to hold the other man's arm, it stung when Dream backed away. 

“You call me an idiot, say you’re the one at fault then pry even more? Were you not listening to yourself?” Dream’s frown had become permanent, his stature stiff and protected. 

“I just want to understand why you’re being so… cold. You’re acting like there’s something up! I just want to know! If there’s something that’s wrong I need to know. Do you not get that this is a dire situation? I’m trying to keep the crew safe.”  George tensed his hands in front of him, struggling to find the right words

“Are you doubting my ability to keep them safe?”

“No that’s not--” 

“That’s exactly what you just said,” Dream interrupted, “Fuck the plan. Just, get out. I’ll deal with it myself.” 

George was lost for words. Dream had never shown this side of himself. He looked like a criminal denying murder. Spoke as if he had done something wrong. Stood like he was guilty. But, if this is what he wanted, George wasn’t going to push for them. He wasn’t up for the fight, he needed to focus. Needed to keep the crew together. He couldn’t let whatever this is get in the way of what really mattered, the capture and defeat of Hayward. 

“Have it your way then. Don’t come crying for my help when you need it.” George stated with an icy tone, he turned away from the taller man and made his way out of the cabin making sure to slam the door on the way out. 

What a prick.

“Hey how’d it go? Karl just sent me up to-” Alex asked as George stormed onto the deck. 

“He is such an asshole! Uhg, I never want to see that man again.” George huffed loudly as he pushed past his friend, he needed some air.

He stalked to the stern of the ship, leaning over the railing with his head lowered into his crossed arms. He heard footsteps approach timidly behind him, “What happened?” 

“Go away Alex.” George mumbled into the worn wood.

“As your best friend I’m obligated to stay.” He felt Alex lean onto the railing next to him

“You know it’s probably bad luck to have a fight with your ally before a big conflict. I… assume that’s what happened.” Alex spoke to the wind, clicking his tongue to occupy the silence. 

“It wasn’t a fight.” George lifted his head, staring at the sun dipping below the horizon.

“Sure sounded like the aftermath of one? Why else would you say you never wanted to see him again? Sounds pretty harsh Georgie.” 

George shoved himself up from the rail and turned to Alex, “Me being harsh? Alex, he won’t talk to me! I literally poured my heart out to him and- and we’ve been getting closer and I thought there was something… there. He doesn’t trust me. I guess I was wrong. Sapnap was wrong.” 

Alex looked at him sympathetically, “Do you-” He shrugged, “I mean- Does he really matter that much to you?” 

“What do you mean? Of course it matters to me. Trust is important in any friendship.” George fidgeted with a loose piece of wood on the railing.

“I didn’t say ‘it’, I said ‘he’. Does he matter that much to you? That he got you so wound up for not telling you his secrets. You know he isn’t obligated to tell you everything.” Alex said, he was obviously trying to tread carefully. George couldn’t help but think he was pushing for a specific answer. 

“Of course I feel obligated! He’s my friend.” George scoffed, “What do you want me to say?” 

“Obviously you don’t know consciously so I won’t squeeze it out. I think you’ll figure it out. Eventually. Just remember how you’d react if I didn’t want to tell you everything and put that up against how you reacted to Dream.” Alex said vaguely. 

“Why are you acting like a sophist? Stop being weird and vague.” George scrunched his nose. 

“You know, I am very wise George. I know everything.” Alex grinned.

“Yeah, sure you do.” George rolled his eyes. 

“Just think about it man. C’mon let’s go eat! Karl made his special garlic potatoes!” Alex grabbed his hand and dragged him off to the dining room. 




✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

It was time. George was abruptly woken by someone shaking his hammock. 

“George! How are you not awake? We’re less than several kilometers from the cove! You’ve got to get up!” Tubbo explained, his voice high and nervous. 

George pried his eyes open, looking up at the boy, “Already?” 

“Yes already! Come on!” Tubbo pulled on his arm, “Everyone is up on the deck. Dream is explaining the plan to everyone.” 

George sat up with a groan, he had a horrible night’s rest, the words of his best friend swirling around in his mind all night. He couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened between him and Dream. He couldn’t put his finger on it but something wasn’t right. He shook it off, standing from the hammock and pulling on his boots and his navy blue overcoat. He prepared himself with the clothing he had left England with, feeling constricted as he put on the uniform. To finish off the outfit he attached his mothers lion brooch, hoping that maybe it would bring him some luck and maybe some extra confidence. 

He straightened the overcoat and walked up the steps to the main deck, heels clicking loudly against the wooden planks below him. He was met with a sense of tension once he arrived at the top of the steps, everyone was quiet, either standing off to the side or talking in private voices. He furrowed his brow, he thought the ship would be taken with excitement for being so close to the completion of their goals. Even Tommy was quiet, speaking in a somewhat hushed voice to Tubbo and Ranboo by the flag mast. 

George looked through the crew, Dream and Sapnap were missing, they must’ve still been discussing whatever in the Captain’s cabin. He made his way over to Puffy, one of the friendlier faces this morning.

“What’s with the dull mood?” He asked, “Don’t pirates enjoy fighting?” 

Puffy laughed stiffly, “Usually yes but we all know the importance of this battle. This isn’t just some small squabble.”

“I guess that’s right. I’ve never seen Tommy so quiet.” He looked to the younger boy, catching his eye before the blond quickly broke the connection, looking to the ground. 

Now that was slightly unnerving. 

He turned back to Puffy, “Is- Has Dream said anything yet?” 

She shook her head, “Not yet.” 

George shifted awkwardly, uncomfortable with the ridgid feeling aboard the Ender Eye. He brought a hand to the lion brooch on his chest, fiddling with it as he looked for Karl and Alex. He noticed them speaking to one another on the other side of the ship, he gave Puffy a quick nod before making his way to them. 

“Do you two know what’s going on?” He asked.

“No idea.” Alex spoke first.

“Everyone seems so… upset?” Karl looked around, “Nobody will look me in the eyes.” 

George hummed, leaning over to look past the ship's railing, they could see the island now, the cove Tubbo was talking about was only minutes away now. 

His attention was grabbed when the Captain’s cabin door opened, Dream and Sapnap coming out one after the other. Sapnap immediately found George’s gaze, something unreadable in his eyes. 

 “Everyone! Let’s get ready for this. I know you all are nervous but we’ll be fine. You’re all extremely capable and hopefully, this won’t be much of a battle. If the plan works…” Dream paused, avoiding looking to George, “We won’t have any conflict. You all know what you need to do. Get on it.” 

George frowned as everyone scattered to their stations, “That’s it?” He questioned no one in particular. 

“Dream!” He shouted, walking over to the Captain, “What do you mean everyone knows the plan? You didn’t say anything.” 

“It’s fine George. You don’t need to worry about it. Just let me talk to my crew. You’re not the one in charge.” He walked off before George could speak again. 

“What the fuck?” George watched as he maneuvered through some crewmates to talk to Sam. 

Sapnap placed a hand on George’s shoulder from behind, “Don’t worry about it George, he knows what he’s doing.” 

George shoved off Sapnap’s hand, “Why is everyone acting like this is totally normal? He didn’t brief anyone on anything!”

“Fine. If you want to know the plan so badly it’s all written down in Dream’s cabin, I don’t want to explain it to you. Go find it if you’re that worried.” Sapnap spoke as if he was reading words from a script. 

George couldn’t care less about the weird vibe. He needed to know what the hell was going on. He moved past the taller man and walked into the cabin, going over to look through the papers on the desk by the windows. 

“Where is it?” He asked himself, shuffling through the stacks of papers messily sprawled across Dream’s desk, “Does he really work like this?” 

After some time looking, George continued to flip through the papers, picking up maps along with documents of all different types but nothing that looked like a plan for today. He sighed, he really didn’t want to ask for help to find it, that would be stupid. Maybe Sapnap would help him out. 

He walked to the door, looking back into the room as he left, “Hey, Sapnap-'' He turned, paralyzed in shock by the sight in front of him. George’s eyes widened taking in the scene, his crew tied to the mast, tight ropes constricting them to the thick wood, their hands shackled with the same rope in front of them. George found Alex’s eyes first, a panicked look urging him to go back in the cabin and lock himself away, trying to find out a way he could save himself. Karl, Tubbo, and Ranboo also raised their heads, a chorus of muffled yelling and struggling following. 

“What the fuck?!” George shouted, his anger came rushing up quickly, he clenched his hands, he didn’t even have a weapon. What the hell? What- He started to panic, the fear and anger creating a horrible stew in his stomach. He felt his hands shake, eyes looking to every single member of Dream’s crew, they all looked guilty, fuck them, they should be, fuck. 

George’s eyes caught movement coming down the stairs behind him, he glanced up to the side, “Dream! What the fuck is wrong with you.” 

He ran to the bottom of the stairs, fist ready to upper cut the asshole into next year when a pair of arms took him from behind, looping under his armpits and pulling him backwards. 

“I- I’m sorry George. This is how it has to be. Take him to the brig.” Dream sighed out, he sounded genuine but the anger was blinding George, taking hold of every fiber of his being. He’d never felt so betrayed. Never did he think his heart could be broken so badly. 

“Fuck you.” He spat, fiery tears threatening to spill. 

He was taken to the brig, tossed in by another person he thought was his friend. He landed on his knees with a small grunt. George continued to sit on his heels, head down, staring at the wooden planks in disbelief. He heard the cell door shut behind him.

“I’m sorry George. This- This really is for the best.” Sapnap said in a low voice, I promise-” 

“Oh fuck off Sapnap, I don’t want your bloody reasons. Just go.” George hissed, not bothering to turn his head, “Tell it to Alex and Karl.”

He heard a deep exhale from behind him. When he looked back, the other man was gone. He was alone and his friends were as good as dead.

Chapter Text

Dream felt like shit. He had to force himself to turn away from the broken look on George’s face, he clenched and unclenched his fists, he needed to focus on the task in front of him. He couldn’t have this plan fail. 

He looked to the four men tied to the past, worn out from thrashing and yelling, he felt the pit in his stomach grow. Dream looked to Sam, giving him a slight nod. The green haired man moved forward to begin untying Alex first, once the shorter man was untied though, the Captain regretted his choice. 

Alex ripped the gag out of his mouth, running forward before anyone could stop him and giving Dream a solid right hook to his cheek. 

“Fuck you!” The man yelled as he followed through, trying to grab at Dream again when Sapnap swooped in, pulling him back.

“Alex stop!” His first mate begged.

“No!” Alex glared at Dream, “ You fucking asshole! I’m going to throw you over this goddamn ship and watch you drown!” 

Dream took a deep breath, “Alex, listen to me, this- this isn’t what you think. Please, let me explain.” He looked over to where Sam had untied the rest of George’s crew, they still looked pissed but ready to hear what he had to say for himself. He was lucky how forgiving the three were. 

“Explain yourself then.” Karl said quietly, a seething underlying anger behind his sad features. 

Dream gave a quick look to Alex, who had loosened a bit but was still ever so slightly trying to loosen Sapnap’s grip on him.

“Okay. This, you guys have to try not to hate me more than you already do. I’m just trying to keep everyone safe-” Dream began.

“Bullshit! How is tying us up and throwing George in the goddamn brig keeping us safe?” Alex countered quickly. 

“If you’d let me finish you would know.” Dream frowned but he understood, he looked like a complete psychopath right now. 

“I’ve made a deal with Hayward. I told him I would bring him George, and in return he’d give me free range over his territory. Obviously, that’s not what I want to happen. George needs to be hidden in order for Hayward to believe any of this. I want to create a stalemate, maybe we can just... talk to him.” Dream tried to explain.

“Talk to him?? You made a deal with the devil there you dick.” Alex mumbled. 

“Wait. Why didn’t you just… tell us?” Tubbo chimed in. 

“You think George would have gone along with this? He’s way too headstrong, to orderly, he would have gotten us caught. It needed to be realistic to keep him from being involved at all. I’m trying to keep him safe. You know he’d agree then make up his own shit in the end.” Dream answered. 

Alex sighed, “You’re right. He would’ve tried to come up with something else. Goddamnit George.” 

“Is that really worth… betraying him? I don’t know if he’ll forgive you so easily, Dream.” Ranboo spoke up this time. 

“He’ll just have to, okay? It’ll all work out in the end.” Dream waved his arms in front of him, he didn’t want to think about the flaws in his plan, now the seemingly many, MANY flaws in his thinking. 

“We need to get ready. Just, act like a part of my crew and everything will go smoothly. And for the love of God let me do the talking.” 

The next hour they spent preparing, moving ammo from one side of the ship to another, loading and sharpening their weapons, and getting in the right mindset. As the ship moved closer to the cove the black sails of The Empress got larger and more threatening, their dark shadow covering the bright brown of the Ender Eye. 

Dream’s heart was in his throat but he couldn’t let his nerves get the best of him, he needed to keep his crew safe. If all went his way, this would be over before the sun began its descent beyond the horizon. 

“You’re sure this’ll work?” He heard Sapnap from behind him, he turned to his friend, a small smile on his face.

“It’ll be fine. I won't let anything go wrong.” Dream reassured the shorter man.

“I’ve heard that before.” Sapnap rolled his eyes, “You know, your plans are always so… all over the place.” 

“Shut up.” He playfully shoved his first mate. 

“You shut up.” Sapnap laughed, nudging Dream with his shoulder. His face dropped again, looking at the black ship, “I sure hope you're right about this one. For the crew's sake. For George’s sake.” 

“I know.” Dream said, matching the sullen tone. 

“I get it though. You do anything for the people you love.” Sapnap shrugged as if what he said was something to be taken lightly. 

Dream choked on his own spit, “What??” 

Sapnap looked to him, a devious glimmer in his amber eyes, “Oh you know what. Don’t play dumb. Both you and George do this shit.” 

Dream straightened, “It- It’s not like that. George- He isn’t even- The guy despised me!” 

The other man rolled his eyes, “Keep telling yourself that. I’m going to finish up. Get everyone in position. Get yourself ready. Karl says by this wind stream we’ll be side by side with The Empress in less than a few minutes.” 

Dream swallowed hard as his friend walked away, he turned back to watch the sea, What have I gotten myself into. 

The crew was ready. Everyone in their respective positions, keeping space between themselves as the Ender Eye pulled next to The Empress. 

“Drop the anchor!” He heard Punz shout from the main deck, watching as Tommy and Tubbo worked together to release the large metal hook from it’s chamber. 

The ship came to a slow halt, just enough space between the two vessels to place a well balanced gangplank. Dream looked across the gap to the other ship, for the first time he saw Hayward in all his glory, standing at the edge of his ship, smiling at the other Captain.

“Why hello Captain Dream!” The burly man bellowed, his grin hidden slightly behind a large, half braided brown beard. His hair was long and dark, reaching to his shoulders, covering the black Captain’s coat resting on his torso. Dream immediately noticed the weapons the man was carrying, two knives strapped to his legs, a pistol, and a sword slung across his back. Instinctively Dream’s hands wandered to his hips, feeling for his gun and sword head. He was ready. 

“Hello, Hayward.” Dream responded calmly. 

“It’s such a pleasure to see you again.” The man's smile was wretched, twisted and scarred, “Get yourself and that crew of yours over here!” 

Dream nodded, “Drop the gangplank.” He said to Hbomb, “I want Sapnap, Punz, Puffy, and Sam with me. Everyone else, keep to yourselves but be ready for anything.” 

Once the gangplank was dropped Dream was the first to cross it, keeping his gaze with Hayward, the man stared directly into his very soul, dark eyes penetrating through the mask covering Dream’s face. 

“How are you, Dream. It took you a while to get here after I left you that little map on the beach. How did you fair? Well, I guess I know. I did meet with you in Greece afterall.” He smiled. 

Dream nodded curtly, “Yeah. We had a bit of… rough sea troubles. It doesn’t matter. I have important things to talk with you about.” 

“Oh? What would that be? You’ve completed our deal, right?” The older man asked, Dream noticed the quick turn in his tone, his eyes darting to the crewmates scattered around The Empress, looking ready for a fight.

“About that…” Dream began. 

Hayward stiffened, “About that? We had a deal , boy. You know what happens to liars on these seas, you’ll be dancing with Jack Ketch if you screw me over and your crew’ll be vistin’ Davy Jones permanently .” He threatened. 

Dream sighed deeply, “I haven’t lied to you. I had him, I had the Commander, he bailed on the last stop. Left in the night, we… lost him.” 

“So, you just failed me. You think that I would allow such failure to slide? You think I would just let you walk away?” Hayward scrowled. 

“I- I’m not asking for you to let us walk away, we- we can figure something out.” His plan was falling apart in front of him, he was such an idiot. George would’ve known how to handle this. Fuck. Dream should’ve just-

“I think we can.” Hayward interrupted his thoughts, stroking his beard thoughtfully, “I know you wanted a fair share of “your” seas,” The man laughed heartily, “Well, we can solve that issue by taking out the key problem. Your ship.” 

“What-” Dream’s eyes widened, he felt a jolt of panic rush down his spine. 

“Dream-” Sapnap pulled on his shoulder.

“DO IT!” Hayward yelled. 

Dream had no time to react. 

The loud shot from the cannon rang in Dream’s ears, he flinched at the sound. He turned to face the damage, his ship, his beloved Ender Eye could be torn to shreds from one blast. Once he faced the ship his eyes widened, Dream’s mind was racing, George was down there. 



✵                                ✵                                  ✵



George sat in the cold cell, picking at the loose stands of wood that had chipped from years of ware and water damage. He had lost the energy to be angry, he didn’t know what was going to happen to him or his crew. He was afraid, scared for the lives of his loved ones after the man he had trusted whole heartedly betrayed them. It was his fault. He never should have trusted Dream. Never should’ve gotten close. Never should have developed attachments and-. He shook his head, it didn’t matter now. He couldn’t change his past actions. 

He felt like crying but the tears wouldn’t come, instead he curled in on himself, hugging his knees tightly to his chest and believing the worst had happened to his crew. God, he’d miss Alex. Miss his stupid jokes and his lame advice. He’d miss Tubbo and Ranboo, two of the brightest young men he’d had the pleasure of getting to know, barely setting off on their future adventures. And Karl, sweet Karl, the man who could do no wrong, who was nothing but kind. George dug his nails into his shirt sleeves, pulling his face down into his knees. Dream wouldn’t… kill them? Would he? He didn’t know.

George felt as if he didn’t know the man at all. He wondered to all the times he’d felt a connection, a true connection. He thought back to the worry in Dream’s voice when George was in danger, the Captains seemingly genuine laughter, the way he treated his crew with the utmost respect, and how his only viewable facial features were his dazzling smile and adorable freckles. George thought about how Dream may have looked under the mask, but it was better not knowing. If he had a face to attach his feelings to, he’d never be able to forget them. 

George lifted his head when he heard a loud bang and the ship began to rock dangerously. 

“What-“ He began, with no chance of finishing his very thought before a blast came in through the side of the Ender Eye, immediately destroying the inner workings of the ship. George could barely react as the ship fell apart and water began to rush in, the dark, cold liquid quickly coming up against his boots. He stood quickly, his heart racing, the sound pounding in his ears as adrenaline took over his senses. 

His breathing became ragged, not knowing how to deal with the level of panic surging through his body, his eyes darted around, looking for an exit. 

The water was rushing in faster now as the planks began to break and bend under the sudden pressure, the roar of the waves was loud in his ears. George tried at the metal bars keeping the cell shut, banging on the lock with whatever he could find, his hands and various pieces of split wood. The lock didn’t budge, it was hopeless, he couldn’t break steel with his fists alone. 

With the salty water up to his knees now, he waded through to the front of the cell once again, resorting to shouting for help, maybe, with some small chance, someone might come to help him. 

“HELP!” He yelled as loud as he could, “ANYONE, PLEASE!” 

He kept repeating the phrases for what felt like hours as the water approached his hips, his throat running dry and scratchy from screaming. He gripped the cold metal bars, looking desperately at the wrecked steps heading to the second deck, it was dark, the water had destroyed any light that may have been able to shine through. 

He moved back to the wall on his left, maybe now that the planks were wet he could get through them, so that’s what he tried, scraping at the wall to the side and above him in a desperate attempt to escape the crashing ocean waters. 

“God-”

“God Dammit!” George yelled, gripping at the sopping wet planks around him, pushing and pulling to find an opening anywhere, anything weak enough for him to break. The anxiety that had been pooling in his stomach was now shooting up into his throat, creating a choking sensation. The panic was hard to bear. He swallowed harshly to try and rid himself of the feeling but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t. 

It was his dream. 

This is what he had dreamed about all those weeks ago. 

The nightmare of dying at sea was a reality, it was real and he couldn’t just wake up. 

He smacked the wall, running in down the planks at such an angle that his hand was ripped open by a sharp piece of wood. He yelped, pulling his hand back and cradling it to his chest.

“Shit!” He looked down to assess the damage, his hands were wrecked, scratched up and bruised from his non-stop slamming on the walls. The gash down the center of his left palm wasn’t as bad as he expected, it bled slowly, red liquid filling his hand and dripping into the water below. He drove his hand into the water, flinching at the sensation of the salt covering his wound. 

The water was now up to his bellybutton, it was hopeless. This was it. This was the end for him. He stopped hammering on the floorboards above him, he pulled his hand back up and cradled them close to his chest as he turned to stare at the ocean bursting through the side of the ship. 

Once the lukewarm water found it’s way up to George’s chest he couldn’t hold it in anymore. The first tear slipped out, followed by another, and one more until he was completely sobbing. He placed his face in his hands rubbing his eyes aggressively but he couldn’t stop the tears, he couldn’t stop the shaking. 

“Fuck.” He sobbed out, he couldn’t stop thinking. His mind was racing over everything that had happened in the past few weeks, he couldn’t believe that it was all ending now, he never could have predicted that he would end up in this situation. 

He thought about Dream, he didn’t want to but the thoughts of the other man were as intrusive as his thoughts of anything else. He reeled through the moments they’d had together again, the hot tears running their path down his pale cheeks.

He wanted to stop thinking but how could he, maybe this is what people mean when they say your life flashes before your eyes before the end. 

He thought of his dream, how there had been a voice… one that was unfamiliar at the time. He racked his mind trying to remember what they had sounded like, who he had been hearing, who he had thought might’ve saved him… 

“George!” The voice called.

Don’t. 

“George!” It called again, a painful similarity to Dreams. 

His mind couldn’t be playing tricks on him now, wasn’t drowning in the bottom of a pirate ship suffering enough? He screwed his eyes shut, trying to accept his fate. The water had slowed, barely reaching below his armpits, but another thirty minutes…

“GEORGE!” Dream’s voice shouted once again ignoring his internal pleas for it to go away, a loud bang shot through the cell cabin, ricocheting off the metal lock on the cell’s entrance. 

George pulled his eyes open, looking over to where the sound had come from. 

Dream. 

Was he hallucinating? 

“George! Are- Fuck,” The other man struggled agaisnt the water, “That door won’t stay open forever, it going to create a suction, we need to get out of here!”

George furrowed his brow, this couldn’t be real. Why would Dream come to save him? 

“You’re not real. I really am dying, maybe I’ve already drowned.” George laughed humorlessly. 

“What the hell are you talking about, I’m right here!” Dream pleaded. 

“You can’t be! Why the fuck would Dream come to save me? He doesn’t care about me! He never did!” George turned away from the figment, he didn’t want to argue with his own head.

“You’re such a fucking idiot.” Imaginary Dream muttered from behind him, “We’re leaving. I- I’ll explain everything once we’re out.” 

George felt a warm hand wrap around his bicep, he whipped around, met by a worried frown and a busted white smiley faced mask.

“You’re here.” 

“I am.”

“Get the fuck off me.” George ripped his arm away from the taller man. 

“You wanted me gone, let yourself finish the job.” He spat, his previous anger coming back full force. 

“Are you fucking kidding me, you- we are literally about to drown and you want to argue with me? This is exactly why I couldn’t tell you anything! You would’ve done this exact thing! You have no control over your fucking feelings.” Dream tried to grab him again, George moving back against the current to get away from him. 

“Tell me what? That this whole thing was a scam to kill me and my crew? You know you won’t get away with it, right? You’ll have the whole Royal Navy on your ass by morning.” 

“That’s not it! I made a deal!” Dream confessed, the metal door slamming behind them, the rest of the cell ringing from the impact, “Shit,” Dream looked back to it, “Fuck.” 

“Good going asshole that was our one way out.” George murmured. 

“Me!? You are the one fighting with me! There’s literally ocean water to our chests!” Dream accused. 

“Well I wouldn’t be fighting if you hadn’t fucked me and my crew over.” George slammed a finger into the Captain’s chest, “This is your fault!” 

There was a moment of silence between the two, George staring angrily at the stupid mask smiling back at him. What a joke. 

“It is! It is my fault. Fuck, George. I was wrong. I was stupid and selfish,” Dream exploded, leaving George speechless, “I should have never trusted that Hayward would keep his word, I- I just wanted to keep you safe, I thought we could trick him. It was easier that you didn’t know, it was better for me that I didn’t have to tell you. It was stupid that I didn’t. This would’ve gone so much better if I had just told you the truth but… I knew how you’d react. I knew you wouldn’t like the plan. I knew you’d try to wriggle your way into it somehow and I needed to make sure that you were safe under any circumstance. But- I never thought it’d end up like this, I never believed that he’d try and destroy my ship, and that you would be caught in the crossfire.” The words spilled out like a waterfall, rushing from Dream’s mouth, each packing a shit ton of emotion that George hadn’t expected. 

“Dream…” George began, he didn’t know what to say.

“No. Don’t call me that. It’s Clay.” Dream-- Clay, looked back to the cell door, “I don’t see another way out George, I-” He turned back to the shorter man 

“Why are you telling me this now?” George’s eyes burned, he wanted to cry but all his tears had already fallen. 

“Because I want to. I wanted you to know.” Clay’s hands moved up to the latch on the side of his mask, George’s eyes widened as the other man released the clasp, the leather strap falling limp and the mask dropping to the water below. 

George’s heart stopped in his chest as sharp green eyes stared back at him, a nervous nature hiding behind them. His gaze made its way across the new features of the Captain’s face, his freckles made galaxies across his face, a warm flush lighting them up, his messy sandy hair was pressed to his forehead. George took in the way his face matched up to everything else, it reminded him of every time he had wondered what Dream could’ve possibly been hiding. 

“Dre-” He stuttered, “C-Clay, I-” His eyes tracked the roughness of the others face, scars crossing his nose bridge and coming up across his right eye, little nicks white from age, his cheekbones sharp and centered, worn from days in the sun. 

Beautiful.

George found himself blushing, his face heating up instantly after the thought. 

“Fuck you.” He mumbled out, “You--” He took a shaky breath, “Do- Do you know how much this means? Do you know how much you make me want to explode? You know how much you make me want to run and never look back? You scare me. I don’t know what I’m feeling half of the time when I’m around you, it-- hurts. ” 

“It scares me too,” Clay whispered, a hand coming up to wipe away a tear George hadn’t even realized slipped down his face, “I know-- Well, I don’t know but… I think we’re thinking the same things here.” 

George’s breath hitched at the light touch, the realization that Clay had inched closer, heat radiating off him as the water touched their collarbones. 

“You drive me insane, you know that?” George scoffed. 

“Can you forgive me?” Clay asked, leaning his head down slightly. 

“We’ll see. Maybe if you get us out of here.” George took a small step away, “The water is rising fast.” 

“George, I don’t think there is another way out. I blasted through our only exit, it’s impossible. My gun is waterlogged now.” 

“Can’t we just try the door again? How strong could the suction be?” He waded over to the cell door, pushing through the water.

He pulled at the metal bars but the water was too strong pushing against them, they weren’t going to budge. Clay moved over to help him, tugging with George at the bars, still to no avail.

“Wait… Once the water fills up to the top of the cabin, do you think we’ll be able to get the door open then?” George could feel his feet starting to come off the floor as the water level rose, “We could try, right? The pressure should dissipate.” 

“You’re a genius George! I could kiss you right now!” Clay grinned, George caught off guard by finally being able to see the way his face lit up and his eyes scrunched to show off his deep crows feet. 

“W- Well,” George stumbled over his words. 

Clay flushed, “I-” 

The tension between them stuck out like a sore thumb, George swallowed his embarrassment, “Let’s try it then. We can get out of this.” He quickly changed the subject. 

“Right.” Clay nodded, the water now reached the bottom of his chin, the both of them beginning to tread, they’d have to be under water for at least two minutes for this plan to work. 

“Can you hold your breath that long?” Clay asked.

“I think so, I went through a lot of training for it. If it’s the time I think it will be I can make it. You?”

“Definitely, with the amount of times Sapnap has forced my head underwater I’ve developed my own special type of gills.” 

This was no time to laugh but George couldn't help but giggle, he felt light with a new sense of determination. He needed to continue his life, this couldn’t be the end. 

“Ready?” He asked as the water flowed just above his chin.

 

Clay nodded, his mouth already submerged.

 

Then, they took the plunge, diving themselves into the water in a last attempt of freedom.



Chapter Text

George burst through the surface of the salty water, gasping for air as if his life depended on it. The sweet taste of the warm air was better than anything he had sensed in his life. He was out. His plan had worked.  He treaded water, looking around when Clay popped out of the depths a few seconds later, the same gasp for air escaping him. His shaggy sandy hair was pressed down against his forehead, some strands closing in on his eyes. George still was yet to get used to the beautiful glow of the Captain’s emerald eyes. Before he knew it he had reached a wet hand out and pushed the hair to the side of Clay’s face, retracting it quickly after he realized what he had done. 

Clay smiled, “You okay?” 

George nodded silently, they stayed like that for a while, their eyes on only each other. 

“W-We should get going. We’ve got an evil pirate lord to beat up.” George shattered the quiet moment. He was right though. They still needed to deal with Hayward and his crew.

“Shit. I hope the crew is holding up.” Clay coughed a bit, moving towards the staircase. George swam after him, climbing up quickly as the water continued to rise behind them. He took a look back to the almost fully swallowed brig, he’d be surprised if the Ender Eye survived the next hour. 

He wasn’t ready for the scene when they got to the main deck, a loud shot rang out across the clashing of many swords and endless shouting. George's eyes made their way around, darting from person to person, his only comfort was the playful smirks across Dream’s crew's faces. They knew what they were doing. 

He watched with a grin on his face as Tommy and Tubbo double teamed a member of Haywards crew, the burly man backing up until he tripped backwards clumsily over Ranboo’s awaiting foot. Looking to the right he saw Sapnap just barely catch a sword with his own before it hit Karl in the back, his breath hitched for a moment while he continued to watch as Karl turned with wide eyes. Sapnap pushed his enemy off and towards the edge of the ship, leaning his opponent over the side before sending him overboard. George sighed in relief as the man fell and Karl surged forward to hold Sapnap in a large bear hug, he couldn’t help but soften at the sight. 

However, he was taken away from the moment when Clay grabbed his hand. George jolted, looking back to the Captain with wide eyes. 

“You ready? Stick close to me. We’re going to take out Hayward.” Clay grinned mischievously, like a child getting ready to play an awful prank. 

“Aye aye Captain.” He mocked with a fake salute and a little giggle. 

“You’re such an idiot.” Clay mumbled, a hint of humor behind his soft tone. 

George just smiled as Clay dragged him to the edge of the ship. Only problem was the gangplank was gone and with the Ender Eye sinking quickly they were going to need a way to The Empress quickly. 

There was a shudder as the ship sunk deeper, sending Clay and George into shaky stances, both of them struggling to keep their balance. Clay tugged on George’s hand for stability, in return it kept George from toppling over as well. 

“We’ve got to get off of here quick.” George swallowed nervously, looking at the gap that was continuously growing between the two ships. 

“I’ve got an idea, come on.” Clay tugged him along once more, leading them up towards the bow of the ship, it had begun to tip upwards, making the trek a bit difficult. Clay let go of George’s hand to untie a part of the rope connected to the headstay, he peered across the gap carefully, calculating eyes taking in the distance compared to the height and angle of the Ender Eye compared to The Empress. 

“Okay. We’ll make it. Probably.” Clay said, gripping the rope he had pulled down. 

“What do you mean-” George began to ask when Clay wrapped a strong arm around his waist wordlessly, eyes still trained forwards. 

George’s breath was caught in his throat as the warmth from Clay’s arm melted into his side, it was all he could feel. He couldn’t even say anything when Clay titled his head to look at George, “You trust me, right?” 

The both of them cringed a bit. That was still a soft topic. 

George rolled his eyes, trying to push back the past and control his wild blush, “I guess I can make an exception for this moment.” He responded slowly. 

“Good. Hold tight.” Clay said, looking forward once again, a determined look in his eyes. He pulled the rope taught before running forward and leaping off the edge of the ship, giving Geroge barely a second to tighten his grip around the Captain’s shoulders. George squeezed as hard as his arms would allow him, digging his face into Clay’s shoulder, eyes closed tight as they swung across the gap between the ships. 

When they landed George stumbled over, cursing his feet as he pulled Clay down as well. They toppled over each other, landing with a loud thud into the middle of the battle. It was quite the entrance. 

George groaned, his back ached already, he had little time to register the fact that Clay was draped over him before a loud voice interrupted any incoming thoughts. 

“So you do have him!” Hayward bellowed from across the ship as the fighting continued around them, George almost half expected the battle to stop when they landed. Clay moved from on top of him, quickly gathering his bearings and standing up, tall and confident against the bigger man. Surprising, considering Clay was already somewhere over six foot. 

Clay drew his sword with a loud schwing sound, lowering it to his side as he grabbed the waterlogged revolver from the holster on his thigh, “I do, but you never will.” He scowled. 

Hayward burst into a hearty laugh, George could only describe him as pirate Santa Claus… but evil. He got to his feet and stood beside Clay, or as close as he could before Clay threw him an over-protective glare. God, it was weird to see the man’s eyes, they were intense. 

“Just look around, Dream. You aren’t winning this fight. Just hand him over and you can go.” George brought his gaze back to Hayward as the pirate began to speak again. Hayward brought his shadowed gaze to the Ender Eye, “Well, going anywhere might be an issue for you now.” The man sighed, “I guess we’ll just have to kill you then, no use in leaving you stranded and letting nature do it for us.” 

George's eyes scanned the crowd, Hayward was right, they were losing, half of the crew was now disabled in some way while the other half was being backed into a corner in many different ways. There was no getting out of this for everyone without sacrifice. 

George stepped up, pushing past the bodily barrier Dream had placed between the Commander and Hayward. He stared forward, directly into the eyes of his opponent, unwavering. 

“George!” Clay hissed from behind him.

George looked back and tried to give him a reassuring smile, “I’ve got this.” 

“Oh, do you?” Hayward towered over the smaller man, looking down on him as if he were a lower being. 

“I do.” George scrunched his nose in disgust, the pirate was incredibly musky up close. He kept a straight face though, keeping his gaze stone cold as he looked the man up and down, assessing what he was about to get himself into. 

“I suggest a duel. Parley. One on one. Let's settle this like civilized men.” George put on his most proper accent, giving Hayward a bored gaze as he pulled and fixed his wet sleeve cuffs. 

“A duel? Hmm, I don’t think so Sir Commander. I’m not as stupid as I look. I’ve got the upperhand here.” Hayward let a wicked grin slip onto his face. 

“So, you’re afraid?” George wouldn’t let it sway him, this was a mind game. He checked his nail beds before looking back up to the Captain. 

“Afraid?” The man chuckled aggressively, a few laughs scattered throughout the crowd, “Why would I be afraid of you?” The captain took a step forward into Geroge’s personal space, now looking down on him even more than before, “You’re puny.” 

George looked up, “If I’m so puny why won’t you fight me? You’ll win won’t you?” 

Hayward scoffed, taking a step back, “What’s in this for me then? Hmm?” 

George looked back to Clay, a worried look still plastered plainly on his face, he shook his head. 

“I suggest that if you win, you get me and rule of the seas. Dream’s crew will leave or join you, your choice… and if I win, you give us your ship and let us all go.” George offered, turning his gaze back to Hayward. 

The man pondered, running his stocky fingers through the wiry hair accumulated to make a big and bushy beard. George watched in interest at the rings adorning the man’s hand, one with a beautiful metal rose along with a skull and some plain bands, such nice jewelry for someone so gruesome.  

“So?” George prompted.

“You’ll give me access to the Royal Navy if I win?”  Hayward asked

“Yes.” George responded bluntly.

The grin on Hayward’s face split even wider, “You’ve got a deal, kid. You’re going to regret this.” 

George took a deep breath, “I wouldn’t be so certain about that.” 

“You know the rules, Commander? Well, even if ya do. I’m going over them again. I won't be havin’ you wiggling out of our contract.” Hayward stroked his beard as he spoke, he clambered over to the edge of the ship, standing up on the ledge of the ship. 

“Aye! All of you blidgerats better listen up!” The Captain bellowed, “This duel here will be between me an’ the Commander, there will be no meddlin’, ya all know the code here. This squabble will be takin’ place on the beaches of the cove. Any hornswagglin’ and there’ll be issue, got it? We’ll do it old fashioned,” He looked to George and pulled the pistol from his side, “Back to back, 10 paces, fire.” He aimed his gun to the center of George’s forehead and mocked firing it, “The quartermaster will be in charge of the count.” 

Hayward stepped back onto the main deck, making his way back to George with an outstretched hand, “We got a deal then?” 

George swung his hand upwards, taking up the other man’s with confidence, “Of course.” 

“Be on the shore by the time that shadow covers the ship.” Hayward pointed to the hooded cove. It’d be about 5 minutes for the shadow to move as far as he said. George nodded and Hayward moved away to collect his crew. 

George sagged his shoulders and sighed in relief, just to be overwhelmed by Clay and the crew as soon as Hayward had backed up. 

“George!” Tubbo yelled, grabbing him and tugging him into a tight hug. 

George patted the smaller boy’s head, “I’m fine.” 

Tubbo looked up with a melancholy smile, somewhat of a ‘sorry we listened to Dream’ smile. 

“Glad you’re still kicking! I also beat the shit out of Dreamie over there when he pulled that stunt!” Alex chimed in, coming in to also give George a hug. 

“Throwing yourself into danger again, already?” Karl pointed out, a small smile on his face, he looked relieved though. 

“It’ll be fine. I have a plan.” George reassured them and the crew gathered around him. 

“What’s the plan?” Clay came up from behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder. 

“I’m not going to shoot.” 




✵                                ✵                                  ✵



George stood on the hot sand, he had taken off his boots. Sapnap had insisted that he’d be faster and more stable without the small heels, which wasn't completely wrong. 

 

“You’ll get them back after you scare this bastard off.” He had said, holding Georges boots high in the air. 

George had rolled his eyes before Clay came up to him, “Are you sure about this?” He’d asked. 

“I’ll be fine Cl- Dream.” George responded, his eye contact wavering at the trip up on the other man’s name. 

“You can call me Clay if you want, the whole crew knows.” 

“But- Hayward?” 

“Eh.” The blond waved his hand, “Doesn’t matter. You’re about to kick his ass anyways.” 

George laughed, “Yeah, that’s the plan. I’m just hoping I’m not wrong about him turning to cheating.” 

“I’m sure he will. He’s gone against the code before.” Dream explained 

“It’ll be fine though. If anything goes wrong, I can handle myself.” 

“And I’ll be there- well, the crew’ll be there to save you if you can’t. I didn’t mean just me- I mean, like, I don’t even have to save you or, er, I wouldn’t have to- WE wouldn’t have to-” 

George smiled as Dream continued to ramble on, it was endearing, “Good to know that everyone is there to protect me.” 

Dream shut his mouth and nodded with a quick smile, “Good luck.” 

George put up two enthusiastic thumbs up to Clay and the crew as he walked away. He turned towards the opposing side and darkened his gaze, Hayward didn’t know what was about to hit him. 

 

He now stood face to face with Hayward, Punz’ blunderbuss held tight in his sweaty hands. He wasn’t used to holding a gun, he’d shot one a couple times but he’d only had to use them as trainin g. 

George ran his pointer finger along the trigger, watching carefully as Hayward inspected his own weapon. The pirate snapped the barrel closed after placing a last bullet into the cylinder, he then looked up, a dangerous look in his dark eyes. 

He began to walk forward, taking his pace slowly until he met Hayward in the middle of the beach, not once did he break eye contact, he wasn’t going to be threatened. 

“I won’t kill you, but don’t be expecting to get out of this without some bloodshed.” The man grinned. 

George scowled, “You won’t get the chance.” 

“Whatever you say lad.” The man turned, leaving George to stare at his back. 

George turned on his heel, forcing himself to focus on the beach in front of him and not on his crew, he couldn't have any distractions. 

The quartermaster called for them to begin, 

“Pace one! Begin!” 

He stared down at the gun in his hand and gripped it harder. You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. 

“Two!”

He can do this.

“Three!”

Everyone is safe. 

“Four!”

He stared at his feet. 

“Five!”

His heart was pounding.

“Six!” 

He took a long breath through his nose. 

“Seven!-” 

 

The sand moved, a sound of shuffling interrupted the count as a gunshot rang out. George couldn’t turn fast enough. He brought his hands to his chest. No pain. No blood. What happened? He looked up to see Hayward grinning wickedly at him. He turned his head and all of the sudden the world began to slow as time turned to syrup. 

Clay- 

George’s eyes widened, a shrill ringing in his ears as muffled shouting and scrambling of bodies wrapped around him. Tunnel vision blocked his peripherals as he kept himself upright despite a dizzy feeling. 

He stumbled over to Clay, clasping the other man’s face with his hands and coming back to his senses, “Clay!” He shouted. 

Clay coughed, groaning in George’s hands as he clutched the area right below his collarbone, any lower and- 

George shook with emotion. Anger, fear, worry consumed him as he watched the pained look on Clay’s face grow. 

He looked around wildly, everyone had gone into battle. He needed the medic, where was she? His eyes searched the fight, looking for the familiar light brown hair in braids, “Alyssa!” He called out. 

“I’m-” He heard her shout, “Coming!” 

She kicked through the battle, knocking another pirate to ground before running over to them. She quickly kneeled down, ripping the bottom part of her shirt off to push it into the wound before it could continue to bleed any longer. 

Dream hissed in pain, his eyes screwed shut as Alyssa pressed on his chest. 

“Clay-” George placed a soft hand on his face again, trailing his thumb on the Captain’s freckled cheek. 

Clay opened his eyes, they immediately widened, “W- Watch out!” He coughed out. 

George barely turned around before a sword came barreling down towards him. He grabbed the dagger from Dream’s leg holster and whipped his arm around, clashing with the sword and sending it to the side so that it only nicked his other arm. He got to his feet and backed away, he needed to keep Hayward from Clay long enough for Alyssa to get him back to the ship. 

“Go! I’ll hold him off!” He shouted at Alyssa before turning back to Hayward, taking a protective stance between them. 

Hayward chuckled, “You really don’t understand that I get everything I want, do you?” 

George grimaced, ‘Well aren’t you a spoiled brat.”

Hayward huffed but said nothing else before attacking again, he brought his whole body forward, putting all his strength behind each swing of the sword. George dodged and weaved through the hits, every so often using the dagger in his off hand to deflect swings. 

He still held onto the gun in his left hand, well aware of the fact that Hayward also still had his blunderbuss on him. He made a mistake taking his eyes from Haywards to check where the pirate held his gun. The next thing he knew the dagger had been smacked from his hand and he was on the ground with Hayward stepping on his chest, the Captain’s boot came down hard right above his lungs. George gasped for air that wasn’t there, shutting his eyes in pain. Hayward kicked his other wrist, making him lose grip on the gun in his hand. 

“You know what, you’re more trouble than you’re worth… George. I think I might just off you here and now. I’m sure your friends back in England will be willing to listen if I bring them back your lifeless corpse.” He sneered, pulling the gun to face George, aiming in straight at his chest. 

“It’ll be so easy once you’re out of my way.” As he cocked it, George’s mind was racing. 

His eyes darted to the gun he had dropped, it wasn’t far.. He could… 

Hayward’s finger moved on the trigger. 

 

It’s him or me.

 

George snatched the gun from the sand.

 

BANG!

Chapter Text

BANG!

 

There was a scream.

George’s hands shook, he held the gun tightly staring up at the wide eyes of the man hovering over him. 

He barely heard the thud of Hayward’s blunderbuss as it fell into the sand, eyes trained on his opponents. His heart was pounding, he took his eyes off Hayward’s face as they trailed to the man’s chest where a large red splotch began to grow. George felt himself get dizzy at the sight of the blood, he held back the urge to retch, almost gagging in response. 

He sat up as Hayward stumbled back, a person who George assumed was his first mate rushed to his side. She was probably the one who had screamed. George watched in silence as the world moved around him, he couldn’t hear anything, he was surprised when he felt a hand grab his shoulder. 

He turned his head, eyes still wide in what felt like a mix of fear and guilt. Karl squeezed his shoulder, there were tears in his eyes, he hadn’t been involved… Why was he crying? 

“Are you hurt?” The young man asked, his words muffled to George’s ears. 

George could only shake his head. He turned to look over at Hayward, the man was now laying in the sand with his first mate crying over him. George slapped a hand to his mouth as he gagged again, he felt tears begin to prick his own eyes, he looked back to Karl. Alex was by his side as well now. 

He found Alex’s worried eyes, “I- I killed him…” Was all he could say. 

Alex nodded his head solemnly, “You did what you had to George.”

“But I killed someone.” George repeated. 

Alex brought a gentle hand to George’s shoulder, gripping it before pulling him into a secure hug. George buried his face into his best friend's shoulder, his arms wrapping quickly around the other man.

He didn’t cry. He couldn’t. Even though he had killed Hayward he had no emotion towards the man. No empathy for someone who had taken so many lives already. But the knowledge that he had taken someone's life in order to keep living bore down on him as heavy as a ton of bricks. It wasn’t the plan. It wasn't anyone's plan but it had happened and it wasn’t going to be reversed.

He pulled away from Alex, immediately looking to Dream’s crew. What would they think? He was sure all of them thought he was a monster now. He found Puffy’s eyes first, he had expected the worst but she stood with confidence, a sense of understanding and comfort around her as she held his gaze. The rest of the crew followed suit, not one of them looked scared or disappointed, they were all a bit roughed up but the relief that the fight was over was apparent in all their faces. 

George watched in silence as Punz made his way to the other crew. He couldn’t hear the conversation but he assumed it had something to do with the pirates code, about how the duel was won in fairness and how they would have to accept their loss. He kept his gaze away from where Hayward laid in the sand, turning his head back to Alex to keep himself from feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt again. 

He looked up to the crew again, the numbers were dwindled. There were almost half missing, what had happened-

 

Clay

 

“Shit.” George went to stand up, his bare feet shaky as he put weight on them. 

Alex stood up with him, “Woah, woah, woah, where do you think you’re going? You’re still in shock.” His friend held him by the arms to stabilize him.

“Where’s Clay?” He asked.

“Clay? Who’s Clay?” 

“Dream. I- I need to make sure he’s okay.” His breaths started to shorten, “Alex, did he get to the ship?” 

Alex smiled lightly, “He’s fine. He’s got Sapnap, Alyssa, and half the crew with him. They wouldn’t let him go even if he was on the very brink of death.” 

George sighed, he took a second to balance himself, “You’re right. But… get me out of here. Please.” 



✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

George took no extra time busting into the captains quarters, “Clay!” He shouted as soon as the door was cracked, nerves making his fingertips tingle. 

“Shh!” Both Sapnap and Alyssa hissed at him, bringing a finger to their lips at the same time. 

George stopped in his tracks, snapped his mouth shut and stared at them, eyes wide. Alex ran in behind him panting, “S- Sorry guys, he’s fast.” He whispered. 

“Sorry.” George lowered his voice, walking lighting to the bedside. Clay was passed out, his chest rising and lowering slowly, a therapeutic rhythm that calmed George down. 

“How is he?” He asked, standing awkwardly to the side. 

“He’s going to be okay. The bullet just missed his heart, got lodged in his collarbone. If it had been any lower I don’t think he would have survived, even if it didn’t pierce his heart.” Alyssa explained, running a tired hand through the Captain’s sandy hair carefully. She sighed, she was obviously relieved that he was okay, they’d been friends for so long. 

“What happened to Hayward?” Sapnap looked from George to Alex. 

“He’s dead.” Alex stated, a nervous glance making its way to George. 

George frowned, wrapping his arms around himself, “He would have killed me if I didn’t-” 

Sapnap shook his head, “You don’t have to explain yourself George. The bastard asked for it. Fucker cheated us.” 

George swallowed hard but he nodded. Sapnap was right. 

“What’s going to happen to Haywards crew?” Alex piped up.

“I’d ask Dream but... '' Sapnap motioned to the Captain, “He’s obviously of no help right now so as first mate I say we leave them behind. Give them provisions and a spare rowboat but for all I care they can rot in hell for almost killing you and Dream. Not to mention all the other lives they’ve taken or ruined. But without Hayward, I doubt they’ll be an issue anymore if they ever get off this island.” 

“We’re really just going to leave them here?” George shuffled his foot.

“George. They are monsters. Are you sure you’re a Navy Commander?” Sapnap deadpanned. 

“I know. I just-” He stopped, Sapnap was right again. He couldn’t argue so he dropped the subject. 

Sapnap stood from his seat on the bed, “It’ll be okay. We’re done! Everything is normal now! We’ve got this new ship and everyone is alive. I’d say that’s a pretty good resolve, right?” He gave George’s hair a messy ruffle. 

George swatted his hands away, a small smile finding its way onto his face, “You’re right. I hate to say it but for once you’re saying something that’s not completely idiotic.” 

George’s eyes wandered back to Dream’s sleeping form. He let his eyes trail over the other man’s face, he looked so relaxed, none of the stress of the day could be seen on his sharp features. 

“You want to be alone with him?” Sapnap asked, a knowing smirk playing on his lips. 

“Oh shut up.” A blush fought its way to George’s cheeks as he shoved Sapnap with his elbow. 

“Alyssa, Alex, let’s give the lovebirds some time alone~” Sapnap sing-songed quietly, clasping his hands together and closing his eyes blissfully. 

Alex stifled a laugh, “I think that’s a good idea.” 

Alyssa rolled her eyes and stood up, walking over to them. 

“Go throw yourself into the ocean Sapshit.” George rebutted, the blush growing. 

“Whatever you say.” He smiled, shutting the door behind him. 

George rolled his eyes to himself as the doorknob clicked behind the trio, why did Sapnap have to be so right about everything. The thoughts he’d been ignoring for so long were finally breaking through to the surface with every passing hour. 

He looked to Clay. The thoughts swirling around his mind like a muddled soup. When George thought he'd lost him, he realized just how important his feelings were and how much he wanted to tell Clay what he was going through. 

George made his way over to the bed, quietly sitting on the edge with his leg tucked under himself while the other kept him propped up from the floor. He reached his hand out timidly, brushing aside loose strands of hair that had made their way back into Clay’s closed eyes. He flinched at the contact, barely touching the other man’s face as he wiped the hair to the side of his face. It was soft. Softer than he thought it could be. 

Clay stirred slightly, George tugged his hand back to his chest, watching silently as Clay’s features skewed from their previously restful state. He took a deep breath in, wondering if he should stand, by the time he even thought about getting up though, Clay’s sleepy green eyes were on him. 

“George..” He croaked.

“G’morning Clay.” George smiled softly. 

Clay dropped his head back on the plush pillow before he sat straight up, looking around with wide eyes, “We’re on the Empress?” 

“Clay! Lay down you idiot, you’re going to reopen your wound.” George jumped into action, carefully pushing the other man back down into a lying position.

Clay rolled his eyes, “It’s barely a scratch.” 

“Oh yeah?” George lifted a brow, pressing his thumb near the area covered in bandages.

“Ge-ORGE!” Clay exclaimed, flinching forward.

“Hurts. Right?”

“Yeah! What the hell is wrong with you?” His voice got higher, making George laugh. 

“You’re too stubborn. It was the only way.” George giggled. 

Clay’s gaze softened, “Me? Stubborn? No, that’s all you.” 

“Lay down you dumbass.” George reiterated.

“Fine.” Clay leaned back on his elbows, looking up at George shyly, “But… only if you lay down with me.” 

“What?” George’s face went bright red in an instant.

Clay plopped all the way down in the pillows, turning his head to the side away from George, “Nothing.” 

George could see the tint of red coloring the tips of the other ear. He felt like he was grinning like an idiot, seeing that he wasn’t the only embarrassed one. 

George huffed and got up, lifting the blanket and sliding into the bed next to Clay. It was now or never, what was the worst that could happen? 

Clay shifted to his side, looking at George, “What are you doing?”

“What do you think?” George laid down beside him, shifting onto his side so that they were face to face, “I’m doing what you asked.” He said, before quickly adding, “Only because you’re injured.” 

Clay laughed at that, “Oh yeah? No other reason?” 

George pulled the covers up to his face, choosing to ignore the question, “Don’t you think it’s weird we’re in Hayward's bed?” 

“He never used this thing. From what I can tell he spent most nights in that chair over there.” Clay pointed an arm over George to bring his attention to a large red armchair in the corner of the room. The seat was so dented that it looked like someone had been strapped to it for years. 

George moved back, “Hm. I guess you’re right then. I was wondering. The sheets feel crisp.” 

Clay nodded, “I’d be a little upset sleeping in a dead guys used bed.” 

George furrowed his brow, “You knew?” 

“I was in and out of sleep for that conversation. You kinda woke me up with that loud entrance you had. Were you worried?” He smirked.

“Of course I was worried about you, idiot.” He frowned, “You got shot.” 

“That I did.” Clay chuckled, bringing his hand to his wound, “But it’s okay. It means that this moment got to happen.” 

George was flustered once again, “You’ve got to stop saying stuff like that.”  

Another grin cracked on the blond’s face, “Stuff like what?” 

“Quit prying.” George mumbled.

“You sound like you did back in week one on board.” Clay huffed. 

“Oh shut up. You know I don’t mean it like that.” George brought a hand from under the covers to give the other a small shove. 

Clay tensed at the touch, his features clenching.

“Oops, sorry.” George bit his lip, “I forgot.” 

Clay shifted to lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, “I still can’t believe it’s over.” 

“I know.” George breathed out, “Feels like it all happened in a flash. I’m…” He thought back to the wild look in Hayward's eyes down the barrel of his gun, “I’m glad he’s not going to be an issue anymore. I saw that man’s bloodlust first hand. There was no going back. Prison would have only pissed him off more. I just wish it could’ve been different.”

Clay’s gaze found him once again, “You’re right though. Prison would have made him crazier. We all knew that deep down. He was a cheater and a liar.” 

“What pirates are supposed to be.” 

Clay furrowed his brow in a cute annoyance, “What’s that supposed to mean.” 

“You and your ragtag bunch are nothing close to what pirates should be and you know it.” George pressed a finger between Clay’s eyebrows to release the pressure. 

“Yeah,” He agreed, “None of them would hurt a fly without being threatened. They’re a good bunch. I’m lucky to have ‘em. They’ve really changed me.” 

“Have they?” George pressed on lightly, he wanted to know everything.

Clay moved his head back to face the ceiling, “Before we met. Before I was Captain of the Ender Eye, I was like Hayward. The captain before me was like him, as his second hand, I was similar. I’ve done some serious shit George.” He glanced to George, a guilty look in his eyes, “I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if I didn’t have Sapnap through it all. It’s why I wore that stupid mask. Why I still wore it. It was a shield between the past me and the real me, without it I’m just… Clay. But when I have it on, I’m Dream, the man who has done all those awful things in the past. Then my crew came along, they showed me that it was okay to let go of the past and look to the future, that it was okay I was who I was as long as I had changed. I have. I’m different now. Past me would’ve given you to Hayward in an instant for one shilling. I wouldn’t dream of it now.” He laughed humorlessly.

“After you told me all of that stuff out on the deck that one night I wasn’t sure what to say. All I could think of doing was giving you that hug. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything at that moment. It didn’t feel right. You seemed just so unreachable and I knew I couldn’t get to you without tears down my own walls right then and there. I never told you anything because I was keeping so many secrets I couldn’t risk one of them slipping, it would have untangled the whole mess of shit I’d been keeping up. Again, I’m sorry about that. I was being a selfish idiot.” 

“It’s fine Clay, it’s in the past.” George smiled softly, it was nice to just hear the Captain finally talk about himself, “It’s nice to finally hear you talk about yourself, you know.” 

“Yeah? I thought it might be about time I shared with you. I’m actually surprised you’re even with me right now honestly. I betrayed you not more than three hours ago, I was closed off and cocky this whole time and you’re still here. Why?” He questioned.

“Because, despite all of that. I trust you. Based on my own thoughts and the thoughts of others. You’ve been there for me. Don’t forget the fact that I hurt you first. It’s not like… a fair trade or something but… I’m not innocent either. We’ve both made mistakes. What matters now is being able to confront those mistakes.” George explained quietly, looking to his hands. 

He twitched when Clay’s hand came to grab his own, he looked back up, the other man had turned back to his side. 

“You are so different from when we first made our deal. I don’t understand it.” Clay gave him a confused look, lightly squeezing his hand. 

“What can I say. I had something to grow towards.” George smiled shortly. 

“I can tell.” Clay sighed out, he looked tired. 

They stayed like that for a while. The silence between the two was deafening but looking into Clay’s eyes was like watching waves crash on a beach, it was never strange, never awkward. George’s heart fluttered when he could’ve sworn the other’s eyes drifted quickly to his lips before they returned to his own mismatched colors. His heart raced even faster when Clay’s head tilted forward, his eyes widened at the movement, the blood was roaring in his ears. 

Their foreheads touched softly, George could feel the warm breath on his nose. He held his own, scared to make a single movement. 

He swallowed the lump that was building in his throat, “Clay?” He asked.

“Yeah?” The other responded, his voice resonating all throughout Geogre’s head. 

“Are you tired?” 

“I am.” 

“Do you want to go to sleep?” 

He nodded, his soft hair rubbing across George’s forehead. 

“I just want you to stay.” He whispered. 

“I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.” George chuckled quietly, his heart rate slowed steadily. 

“Good. I need someone with me.” He clutched George’s hand again, tightening from the loose grip he had on it before. 

“Someone?” George asked. 

“Not just someone.” He murmured, his eyes were closed now, “Just you.” 

George’s heart spiked once again. He wondered if Clay knew how his words had such an affect on him. 

He ran his thumb carefully along the others hand in a soothing manner, methodic circles on the back. He traced over the apparent freckles that covers his fingers, running over the bones and knuckles that poked out slightly. Before long his own methods put him to sleep as well.  

 

So there they stayed, huddled close together in a peaceful slumber. 



Chapter Text

When George awoke the next morning he was half expecting Clay to be gone. Somewhere off doing the daily Captain duties he had neglected the day before. Even though he was injured, the only real reason he didn’t let a gunshot wound stop him was because of George. George felt a slight comfort in that, a tingly sensation overwhelmed him when he thought about him being the only one who could stop Clay from doing just about anything. 

He opened his eyes slowly, squeezing them tightly before letting out a small groan and allowing the light come in. He squinted in the early morning light, surprised to see two bright green eyes staring right back at him. 

“Good morning.” George giggled slightly, Clay looked shocked that he had been caught staring. 

“I- uh-” Clay stumbled, “Good morning.” 

George couldn’t help but let a sleepy smile slide onto his face, “Was this the real reason you wore the mask? So you could stare at me with no repercussions?” 

Clay clicked his tongue with a pout, “You know that’s not why.” 

“I’m joking, dummy. I know.” George laughed again, turning onto his back and stretching his arms above his head. 

“It was nice when you couldn’t call me out like this though.” The blond added. 

George rolled his eyes, a light blush sitting at the top of his cheekbones, “You have  horrible bedhead.” He changed the subject. 

Clay looked up as if he could see his hair, ruffling it quickly with his tanned figers, he flinched, pulling his left arm back down. He brought a hand up to the bandages on his shoulder, “Shit, forgot about that.” 

“You forgot you got shot?” George deadpanned. 

“Hey, it’s not like I get shot everyday. I’m usually very good at not getting injured.” 

George brought a hand to Clay’s cheek, softly running his thumb down a scar that ran across the other mans face, “Not getting injured, huh? What’s this then?” 

Clay batted George’s hand away, “That was a long time ago! I’ve gotten better.” 

“Okay, okay. I believe you. But I expect you start remembering about your wound soon, I don’t want it opening up again. You’ll give poor Alyssa a heart attack.” George led his hand down to the bandages covering the injury, they had gotten messy during the night, becoming loose and still stained with the blood from when they were applied. 

“I know, I know…” Clay’s voice lowered, his eyes trailing the movements of George’s hand, “You’ve gotten very touchy, you know. When we met I wasn’t sure if you’d ever get anywhere close to me.” 

George snapped his eyes up to Clay’s, they sat together in the bed, George’s legs curled up to his side as he held himself up with one hand with the other on Clay’s chest as the other sat up against the wooden headboard. George hadn’t even noticed that he was leaning over and into the Captain, he also never would’ve imagined them in this situation. 

“Me either. But, people change.” George shrugged, he didn’t want to dwell on it, he wasn’t ready to come to terms with anything. 

“Do you want me to clean your bandages? I don’t want to bother Alyssa with it again, you should have seen how stressed she was, that girl literally saved your life.” George shifted the topic. 

Clay nodded, “Yeah, she’s always been like that. She’s amazing with a needle.” 

“I’m pretty sure she left some extra bandages in here for later.” George looked around the room, spotting them quickly on the desk across the chamber. He shuffled out of the bed, missing the warmth as soon as he placed his bare feet against the cold wooden floor. 

“Do you think he has any liquor in here?” George asked as he grabbed the bandages, no doubt Clay’s wound would need to be cleaned. 

“For sure. There’s no way he doesn’t. You smelled the man, he was basically covered in the scent of brandy.” 

George hummed in response, taking another quick look around the room. He held the bandages in his right hand as he searched for some kind of alcohol, preferably something around 150 proof, something that would definitely do some heavy lifting. He wandered to the other side of the large mahogany desk sitting atop a layered rectangle on the floor next to the windows. He leaned down to open the cabinet, sighing with relief when he found what he was looking for. 

“Ah, a man of fine taste.” George grimaced, holding up the handle. He hated the thought of an alcohol content anywhere above forty percent. 

“Is it 75?” Clay asked from the bed, “Looks like Pitorro.” 

“That’s exactly what it is. Since when were you such an alcohol connoisseur?” George asked, making his way back to the bed as he looked at the label. 

“Eh, I’ve had my fair share. I always taste test when I’m in a new place. The best rum is in Jamaica and the Bahamas, that’s just a fact. Every place has gotten something a little different to offer.” Clay explained, watching carefully as George set the bottle and the bandages down on the side table. 

George took a seat on the bed next to Clay, propping himself up with his feet on the floor as he twisted his torso to begin taking off the bandages. 

“You sure have had an interesting life, Clay.” George said as he unfurled the soiled dressing. 

“You have too.” Clay responded, once again watching as George’s dainty hands worked across his chest. 

“I guess but…” He sighed, “You’ve just been… free. I’ve been stuck in England my whole life. This mission is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.” 

“Then…” Clay grabbed Geroge’s hand, making him look up, “Stay.” 

George felt his heart twist, “I can’t do that, Clay. I’ve got responsibilities back home.” 

“What about that blond guy? Can’t he step in for you? It’s not like you’re the only one that has to do work there. Would they really need you that bad?” Clay pushed. 

“I couldn’t do that to Phil. My father already abandoned his position. I’m not going to follow in his footsteps.” George looked back down to continue with the bandages.

“But you’re miserable there. You could be happy here, I- I’d make sure of it. You’d never be bored, or sad, or angry, nothing.” Clay rambled on.

George felt the familiar twinge in his chest again, why would you do all of that for me? You’re acting as if you might lo- 

George shook his head to clear himself of the thought, no way. He looked back to Clay’s emerald green eyes, they were full of concern and something else Geroge couldn't quite explain. Is there any way he… could be? 

“Clay.” George said softly. 

“George.” The Captain responded, his tone softer but it carried a sense of sterness. 

They stayed silent for a while, neither failing to look at the other in the eyes. Surprisingly, Clay was the first to break their quiet contest. 

“I get it. I just wanted to be a bit selfish.” He muttered, looking down at his hands. 

“Selfish? How would keeping me here be selfish?” George knew why. He thought he did. He just wanted Clay to say it first, so he pushed, leaning forward slightly. 

Clay shifted his gaze up once again, a light red tinting his tanned cheeks, “It’d be just for me. I want you to stay with me.” 

George swallowed the nerves buzzing in his throat and responded with a simple, “Why?” 

Clay bit his lip, his brows were tensed, it was on the tip of his tongue. Was it wrong for George to push him like this? 

“I think you know why.” Clay skipped around it once again, was it really so hard to put into words? We’re they both so absorbed in their own thoughts that they couldn’t speak freely to one another? 

“I don’t. Tell me.” George stopped beating around the bush. 

“I-“ Clay took a deep breath in through his nose, “I need you here. You…” He paused, bringing his eyes to the wooden floorboards as the blush on his cheeks grew deeper, “You complete me. I didn’t realize I was half full before you came along.” 

“Clay-“ George felt a lump in his throat, it wasn’t from nervousness, or anger, or fear but from trying to keep down painfully relieved tears. 

Clay looked back up frantically, “I- I know it’s stupid and you don’t have to say anything and I shouldn’t even have brought it up. I just- I thought it’s what you wanted to hear and now I’m kind of regretting it and it feels awkward and you look like you’re about to cry and please don’t do that. I swear I didn’t mean to upset you. You know what? Forget I said anything, it doesn’t matter-“ 

George cut off his rambling swiftly, leaning forward gently and closing the remaining distance between them. He had always wanted to get closer, as close as possible and now— he could. Their lips touched with a sweet innocence, soft and fast as if nothing but a passing butterfly had flown between them. A shared nervous energy hung between them as George pulled back slowly, desperately trying to find a green light in the Captain’s glazed vision. 

It was George’s turn to be flustered, “Sorry- I wasn’t thinking, I just couldn’t stand it anymore.” He stopped abruptly when Clay brought a gentle hand to his cheek, maneuvering it quietly to the back of his neck where his fingers played with the soft brown swirls that fell upon George’s nape.

“Don’t think.” Was all that was said before Clay brought George back in, this time the kiss was filled with a passion George had never experienced. Fueled by a fiery desire to be in the others presence, to be the only person on the others mind. The kiss was deepened quickly, George leaning fully into it, focusing on the way they fit together perfectly. He thought about the heat left by Clay’s hands on the back of his neck, still lightly playing with the small swirls of his grown out brown hair. He thought about the times before he’d pictured this moment, realizing now that he’d had the idea more than once throughout this journey. George immersed himself in the kiss, focusing back on the feeling as he moved his hands to cup Clay’s cheeks, to hold him in place as long as he could keep him. 

After what felt like a lifetime Clay ducked back first, pulling back slowly as the two of them continued to catch their breath quietly. George’s eyes peaked open for the first time since they had begun, squinting in the bright light filtering into the room. It lit up Clay’s dirty blond hair making it look golden, the same color of the lion brooch he held so dearly. His eyes made their way to meet Clay’s, the green was spectacular in the golden light, they shone like bright emeralds from a hidden treasure chest. George’s chest tightened as a soft smile crossed Clay’s face, he breathed out a small laugh but there were tears forming in those beautiful gems. 

George bit his lip as a tear trickled it’s way down the other’s cheek, he reached out, swiping his thumb across the soft area, “I’m sorry.” 

“I know. It’s okay. I knew what I was getting myself into.” Clay responded, holding onto the hand touching his cheek 

They sat in silence for a while, George letting Clay just hold onto him. They could stay like this. At least for a little while. For a moment George could have what he wanted. 

“Let me finish fixing you up. I’m sure everyone is wondering where we’ve been.” He finally said, the words coming out solemnly.

 

“George!!” Karl called, running up and giving him a large hug, pulling him in as if they hadn’t seen each other in years, “How did you sleep? Are you hungry? I’ll make you something-” 

George smiled, “I’m fine Karl. Where’s Alex?” 

Karl looked around, “I think he’s with Sap, they had something to discuss? Not sure what… Oh! But… I do have something I need to tell you.” 

George furrowed his brows, confused by the shift in tone, “What is it? You’re okay, right?” 

Karl let out a long sigh, preparing to speak, “I’m all good. I just need to get this out of the way. I don’t wanna ruin the celebration on the trip back but- It’s just that-” He paused, looking to the side, “I don’t think I’m coming back to England.” 

George’s eyes widened slightly, “What? Why?” 

“I don’t want to leave,” He coughed, a hint of a blush coming to the apples of his cheeks, “Sapnap asked me to stay.” 

That hit George like the bullet from an overcharged rifle. But Karl could do that. Karl was allowed to stay. He was allowed to leave his life behind. He didn’t have any responsibilities, not really, he could be replaced. It would hurt like a bitch when he was but it wouldn’t be impossible. He couldn’t say the same for himself, no matter how much he wanted too. It wouldn’t work. It can’t work.

“I’m glad.” George mustered a smile, “You should do what you feel is right.” 

Karl immediately slackened, relief obviously filling his body, “Oh thank God. I thought you’d be mad. Ranboo will be taking my place. Actually, surprisingly, Tubbo and he convinced Tommy to stick around with them. I think he’s planning on leaving the crew.” 

“What?” George was shocked, “Tommy is giving up the pirate life? That’s-” 

“Surprising, I know!” A voice jumped into their conversation from behind. George spun around to see the blond devil himself, holding his head high with pride. 

“I’ll be coming back with you! So you better be givin’ me a good job!” Tommy placed his hands on his hips. 

“Tommy- You- You can’t just leave , can you?” George asked. Did Clay know about this? He hadn’t seen the man in question since their time in the cabin earlier in the morning. 

“Sure I can! Dream said it’s okay! He said somthin’ about followin’ yer dreams… Ironic right? Him being Dream and all?” Tommy laughed.

“I guess… It’s fine then.” He looked back and forth between the two, “I’m happy for you two.” The familiar claw at his heart came back full force. He wished he could make those kinds of choices. 

“George!” Another voice hopped into the fray, George turned to see Quackity and Sapnap walking over to them. Karl immediately brightened up again hopping giddily over to meet them. George watched in astonishment as Sapnap grabbed Karl’s hand softly, he moved his gaze up to give the black haired pirate a confused look. Sapnap held his gaze and shrugged lightly, George rolled his eyes, he wouldn’t be getting a solid answer about that. 

“How are you feeling?” Alex asked.

“I’m doing okay. Uhm-” He looked back and forth between Alex and the other two behind him, “I’m… happy for you.” 

“Happy for me? What for?” Alex cocked his head to the head slightly like a confused puppy. 

“For… staying? It’s what you want right?” George mumbled, he didn’t want to lose his best friend. It hurt to even ask. 

“I’m not staying, George.” Alex moved forward, gripping his friend's forearm, “I wouldn’t leave you like that.” He turned to Karl, “No offense.” 

Karl laughed lightly, “It’s fine.”

George smiled, sighing with relief, “Oh thank God. I don’t know what I would have done if I was saddled with Tommy without you.” 

“Hey!” Tommy yelled from his place with Tubbo and Ranboo by the stairs to the quarterdeck. 

George giggled, “That seriously makes me feel so much better.” 

“It’s good to see that smile on your face again!” Karl chimed in.

“Yeah, it’s been away for a while,” Sapnap continued, “Speaking of that… Can I talk to you George? One on one?” 

George was confused all over again, “Sure.”

He said a quick ‘see you later’ to Quackity and Karl before walking after Sapnap who led him to the foremast. He watched as the other turned and leaned on the banister behind him, crossing his arms loosely across his chest. 

“What did you want to talk about?” George asked. 

“Dream. He’s acting weird. Did he say anything to you this morning?” Sapnap responded quietly, “I didn’t want to ask but… he’s my best friend and I’m worried.”

George gulped, “Uhm… I-” Could he tell Sapnap? Hey, I kissed your best friend then basically told him I couldn’t stick around, probably breaking his heart in the process along with my own? 

He scratched the back of his neck, feeling the heat from Clay’s metaphorical hands touching him again. 

“George.” 

George snapped out of his trance, “I kissed him.” 

“You what? ” Sapnap’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head. 

George blushed hard, harder than he had before, “I don’t know! I just got caught up in the moment and I can’t stay and he cried and-,” He began to tear up just thinking of the interaction, “-now I feel horrible and I’ve broken both of our hearts and I think I’m in love with him-” He slapped a hand over his mouth, shocked by his own words. 

Sapnap’s jaw hung open. 

George buried his head in his hands, “I’m so conflicted, I- I don’t know what to do.” 

Before he knew it he had been pulled into a warm hug, “It’s okay. Fuck. I don’t really know how to deal with this. Just- Don’t cry…. Please.” Sapnap said, his voice rumbling deep in his chest. 

George let out a watery laugh, “I wish I didn’t have to cry.” 

Sapnap backed out of the hug, placing his hands on George’s shoulders, “Why can’t you just… stay?” 

“I’ve got duties, Sapnap. I’m the Commander of the Royal Navy. It’s not a position I can just leave. The king would have a bounty on my head so fast and I don’t want to follow in my fathers footsteps, I can’t just drop everything in the pursuit of adventure.

“But you're not dropping it or adventuring. You’re dropping it for love.” Sapnap spoke quietly. 

“It’s the same reason. I can’t- I can’t leave it all behind. It’s the same reason Dream can’t leave to be with me. He has his responsibilities and I have mine. It’s not meant to be.” 

Sapnap was quiet before he sighed heavily, “You’re right. Dream wouldn’t leave the ship. The sea is his home. He couldn’t leave us…”

“Exactly.” George hugged himself, “It’s an impossible situation.” 

“Have you talked to Dream about this?” Sapanp asked.

“Not really. But he knows. I don’t have the heart to say anything more.” 

“It’ll be alright.” Sapnap rubbed a gentle thumb into George’s shoulder, “You guys will figure this out, right?” 

“I don’t know Sapnap. I don’t know if we can.” George sighed, “It’s not in our control anymore. None of it ever was.” 

 

The rest of the day passed slowly and painstakingly. Clay was hung up in his responsibilities as they sailed, already making preparations for their journey after dropping George and his crew back in England. It hurt to see the other already so engrossed in what was to come after George was gone. It made sense though, George had already been thinking of ways he might distract himself once he got back to England. It wouldn’t be enough. He didn’t think it’d ever be enough. He’d be losing his new best friend. His new… more than friend? He didn’t even know where their relationship stood but he knew that it couldn’t ever progress past friendship. Their lives we’re too different. Strings of fate being tangled and torn by the duties they held, never to be restrung. 

It’s not like you’ll never see him again, George thought to himself as he aimlessly tied a rope to contain some barrels to the inside of the ship, It’s not like he’s going to disappear. He tied them tight, his hands hurt from the tight grip he held the rope with, Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. I want to stay with him. Have a life with him. Spend time together. Go on adventures. Be there for him. 

George brought his hand back, it was red from his handle on the rope. He needed to calm down. Perhaps the night's activities would leave him feeling lighter, afterall, it was always pretty fun when everyone was drinking, dancing, and talking on the deck under the stars. 

He made his way back up the stairs to the main deck, seeing that the crew was already sprawled out. He watched as Tubbo chased Tommy around, Ranboo laughing quietly trying to help his shorter friend. Puffy, Punz, Sam, Bad, and Skeppy stood in a small circle, talking loudly and laughing at what seemed to be Bad’s expense. George couldn’t help but smile at that. Hbomb filled the space with music as he played his fiddle next to Callahan who blew happily into his penny whistle along with the rhythm, Alyssa sang along with them, a tune that George had heard many times on the ship, it seemed to be their favorite. In the center of the deck Sapnap, Karl, and Alex took up the dance floor moving as if they all had two left feet. George stifled a laugh, they looked ridiculous but that was just what made it endearing, it lifted his mood quickly. He looked around to finally find Clay, leant against the mast, watching with a happy glint in his eyes as he swirled a flask around in his hand. 

George swallowed hard and made his way over to the tall blond. He’d missed seeing his face all day.

“Hey Captain. Enjoying the entertainment?” He kept it light, ignoring the negativity and regret swirling in his stomach. 

“Of course.” He swayed a bit, “They really are something to see, aren’t they.” Clay hiccuped quietly, watching Sapnap and Karl intently, something brewing in his deep green eyes. 

“They are.” George sighed, leaning against the mast with him, letting himself tense when their elbows brushed. 

“You know. You turned me down when I asked you to dance.” Clay finally turned his head to face George. 

George smiled smally, remembering the moment from what felt like forever ago, “Does that surprise you?” 

“I guess not,” Clay shuffled his boot against the wood floor. The music shifted slightly, a slower tone that matched the tone that had been playing that first night, the mood that had made George run away back then. Alyssa’s voice slowed to what could only be described as a siren's call as Callahan’s whistles came low and long, the shift made George shudder. 

“What about now?” Clay asked quietly. 

“Now?” George looked up to him. 

“Would you dance with me now?” He asked again, holding a timid hand out in front of George. 

George’s heart was racing again. It felt like it did the first time only this time he knew why. He took Clay’s hand with certainty, “Of course I would.” 

Clay breathed out what sounded like a sigh of relief, taking George’s small hand into his own. His hold was warm and secure, everything George wished it would be like. He heard a small “oooooh” come from who he assumed was Tommy off to the side, he would roll his eyes but he was too immersed in the way Clay’s hands were manoeuvring to hold him. 

George lifted his hand to rest on Clay’s shoulder as the other stayed put in the taller man’s outstretched hand. He could feel every spark that came from Clay’s light touch on his waist. They were close. But that was okay. It’s what George wanted. Once again, he could have this moment. George brought their hands in closer, listening to the music and dropping his head onto Clay’s chest, now interested in the sound of Clay’s quickening heartbeat. They swayed slowly to the music as it continued on its beautiful rhythm, George let himself be fully engulfed by the safe feeling squeezing his whole body. The moon and stars shone brightly, leaving white light reflections across the calm oceans waves as the ship moved forward through them, sparing no time for the timeless moment happening onboard. 

For such a silent moment, it felt like some sort of closure. Clay wasn’t mad at him. He and George both knew why they couldn’t be together. 

George lifted his head, placing his chin in the crook of Clay’s neck instead, “I- I think I might be…” He whispered, struggling to get the words out. 

Clay leant into the soft tufts of brown hair, finishing his sentence in a whisper against his ear, “falling for you?” 

George tightened his grip on Clay’s hand and shoulder, squeezing the other shirt in his grasp, he laughed humorlessly, “How did you know?” 

“Oh come on… It’s not that hard to see. I’m in the same boat anyways. You make me want to rethink my whole life George.” Clay whispered again, sending a shudder down George’s spine. 

“I do?” George asked, turning his head in, he wanted to see Clay’s face. 

“Of course you do. You literally make me crazy. I can’t make rational decisions when you’re around.” Clay backed his head up a bit, their faces were as close as the moment after they pulled away from their first kiss. 

“You know it’s the same for me. You make me want to drop everything.” George admitted. 

“But you can’t... “ Clay took a deep breath in through his nose, “And I can’t either.” 

George nodded slowly. They were on the same page. 

“But, for now, let's just stay like this. I don’t want to think about tomorrow right now.” Clay squeezed George’s hand lightly. 

 

God, you drive me crazy. I’ll never be able to forget you. 

 

✵                                ✵                                  ✵

 

The light was blinding on the waves below the ship, the wind whipped the sails as the ship maneuvered close to the shore. George could see the coastline now. It was right there. They were home already. 

He gripped the sideboard tightly, staring into the wind, ignoring how his eyes burned and his hair whipped in the breeze. He wasn’t ready to be back in England, he thought he’d have his mind made up after three days but he didn’t. He didn’t know what to do even after all the time he’d spent thinking about it. Clay seemed okay with it but deep down George knew the Captain had just been telling him what he wanted to hear. He wanted to hear that Clay was perfectly fine with him leaving, that he wouldn’t be shattering the other man’s heart, along with his own, by doing what he thought was the right thing.

Was it the right thing?

Or was he just afraid. 

He’d tried so hard not to be afraid anymore but the nasty plague that is fear clouded his judgement. 

All he could do now is push it down. Leave the ship and forget all about the time he’d had.

The preparations to dock started, the crew already bustling, getting ready to pull into the port that they had left about two weeks prior. George’s mind cleared for a split second when he saw Phil, the man was waiting by the front of the dock, patiently waiting with his arms folded across his chest. George needed to tell him everything. Needed to show him how much he’d changed. 

He walked over to the others preparing the gangplank to dock. He wasn’t ready. 

He looked to see Clay coming out of the Captain's Quarters, locking eyes with George almost immediately. 

“Clay.” He dodged around the others in order to stand face to face with the blond man.

“George.” Clay responded, his tone was sad. It cracked George’s heart once again. 

“You ready to go back home?” He continued the conversation as if everything was fine. 

“I- yes.” George bit his lip, “I- I am.” 

Clay nodded, “I’ll miss you.” 

George felt the tears coming up, “I’ll miss you too, Clay.” 

“Fuck.” Clay’s face twisted with emotion, his frown deepened as his nose and eyebrows scrunched up. 

George moved forward, pulling the taller man into a tight hug. His fingers grasping the fabric of Clay’s loose shirt, he felt Clay snuggle his face into George’s hair as he hugged him back. It was so constricting, the most constricting hug he’d ever given or received, he could feel the way Clay was afraid to let him go. Once he let go, they’d be done. 

“George! You coming?” Tubbo was the one to interrupt, his voice soft and understanding. It’s as if he knew to rip off the bandaid. If George didn’t leave now, he never would. 

Clay pulled back, cupping George’s cheek, his eyes were sparkling with tears “I’ll see you again?”

“I’d never allow it any other way.” George sniffled. 

He held onto the last moments as Clay’s hand dropped slowly from his face. Clay gave him a soft nod before George turned around to follow his crewmates off the ship, saying his goodbyes as he went, giving hugs and sharing laughs with the rest of Clay’s crew. He gripped Karl and Sapnap extra tight. 

“Take care of him for me, okay?” He asked Sapanp. 

“You got it.” Sapnap grinned, a sad look stuck in his hazel eyes. 

George made his way off the ship, the solid wooden maritime felt foreign to his feet. 

 

Don’t look back.

 

He made his way over to Phil, basically falling into the other man’s open arms. 

“Well, how was it?” Phil asked.

“Hard.” George cried into his shoulder, unable to hold the tears in. 

Phil rubbed his back softly, “How about you tell me about it later. I have a feeling you don’t want to right now.” 

George nodded, pulling his head back up. Phil’s eyes were understanding and kind, he didn’t realize how much he had missed the older man.

“Home sweet home, huh?” Alex came up from behind him, taking a deep breath in and closing his eyes in the wind as it blew the hair sticking out of his bandana. They walked up the stone path towards the Navy building through the town, following behind Tubbo, Ranboo, Phil and Tommy, who was now introducing himself to Phil with the utmost excitement. 

“I guess.” George responded quietly.

“You don’t seem all that excited. What happened?” Alex asked but George had a feeling he already knew. 

“I think you know.” He stated.

Alex grinned, “You know me too well. Sapnap told me. You really stressed him out, y’know?” 

George hung his head, “I know… I just broke when he brought it up. I’m such a mess.” 

Alex placed a hand on his shoulder, “You’re not a mess George. You’re just a little… caught up. I have complete confidence that you’ll make the right choice in the end. It’s all up to you.” 

George turned to face his friend, “But it’s not. It’s not up to me. I can’t decide on this stuff. My life is on a straight track.” 

Alex sighed and punched George out of nowhere on the shoulder he had just placed his hand on. 

“OUCH! What the hell, you idiot!” George jumped up, a defensive hand going to hold his shoulder. 

“Stop being dense George! Do you ever learn? I didn’t think I'd have to spell this out for you! Your life is your choice! Don’t you get that? What the fuck is holding you back? The king? Phil? Your dad? Get the fuck over it man!” Alex pushed on, “You’re always so in your head. Always thinking about what other people need. What other people expect. Why? It’s your life and I’m sick of you throwing it away for something that makes you miserable. It’s dumb as hell and I can’t continue to just sit here and watch you trn away from who i’d describe as your goddamn soulmate!” 

“What- Alex-” George was stunned to almost silence, staring at his friend with wide eyes. 

“GO! I don’t want to see you moping anymore! I don’t want you to stick around. This is ridiculous. I’m trying to help you here but you’re so fucking stubborn!” At this point the black haired man was yelling, attracting the attention of nearby bystanders. 

“You want me to drop everything? For what? Something that was just a waste of time? I’ll be over it in a week!” He was lying, he knew he was, “I’ll- I’ll forget about the whole thing!” 

 Their arguing finally caught Phil’s attention, he turned back, “Boys-” He began but was cut off by Alex’s next outburst. 

“But when has love ever been a waste of time? When has love ever been the wrong thing to do? Loving someone is never the wrong thing to do. Loving yourself is the best thing you can do, and why not love yourself and love someone else. That's the best of the best. When you see the person you love, when you see them and you just know. That is something great. Don’t let that go. If he’s the one. You need to stay.” Alex shouted, breathing heavily afterwards. 

“What the hell happened on that ship?” Phil asked, confusion muddling his features. 

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later but right now I need George to leave.” Alex huffed, not taking his eyes off of the brunett. 

“You fell in love, huh?” Phil looked to George. 

George blushed, “I- I did... But it-” 

“Doesn’t matter? Sounds like it does. I don’t know what happened between you and Dream but I can see from this passion that it wasn’t something that was supposed to be short lived. What do you want George?” 

 

What do I want? 

 

“To be…” George paused, “On that ship. Goddamnit!” He turned his head, watching the ship, it looked as if they were already leaving the port, pulling back from the dock. 

“I have to-” He took a deep breath in. Was he doing this? 

“Go.” Phil said. 

“Go?” George echoed, looking back to his lifetime mentor. 

“I’ll take care of everyone around here. Say you were lost to the sea. We’ll deal with it. All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy. You’ve always been miserable here. I don’t want to see you go down the wrong path for the sake of what other people expect of you. It isn’t right.” Phil explained, lifting a hand and placing it on George’s shoulder, “Do what you believe is right.” 

“Go get em George!” Tubbo called from farther up on the path.

“I called it! You owe me 20 shillings!” Tommy cackled next to him. 

George’s heart was pounding in his ears, he turned to Alex, “You’re not staying here, are you?” 

Alex grinned widely, “Why George, I never thought you’d ask. That okay with you Phil? You okay with the children?” 

Phil laughed, “I’ll manage. Go you two. Don’t forget to visit though. I’ll miss you idiots.” 

George could cry, he probably was but he was too overwhelmed to do anything but run back down the hill to the dock, pushing past people as Alex trailed behind him. 

This was it. He’d been so stupid. He’d been overthinking everything. He didn’t need anything here. He wasn’t who he was supposed to be in England, he couldn’t be who he wanted to be. His future had been sitting in front of him for days and he hadn’t realized he could take it. He wasn’t like his father. He wasn’t anything like him. He wasn’t leaving for greed, or fear, or laziness. He was leaving for a life of his own, a life where he could be with those who mattered most to him. 

“Wait!” He called out, running as fast as his legs could carry him across the maritime, ignoring the annoyed fishermen and dockmasters. 

He waved his arms at The Empress, praying that it wasn’t too late, that they would see him before letting the last rope loose. 

His heart spiked when he caught a glimpse of a familiar puff of white curly hair. Puffy peered her head over the side, “Oh! Look who’s back! Couldn’t get enough of me, huh?” She joked, yelling down to him.

“Of course!” George laughed, he’d never felt so excited. 

“George?!” Karl stuck his head over the side of the ship, “Why are you back?” He looked to Alex, “Why is Alex back?” 

“I’m coming with you! We’re coming with you! I was being an idiot! Let the rest of the crew know!” 

Karl disappeared and not a few minutes later the gangplank was let loose from the side of the ship. After it had barely touched the surface of the dock Clay was already at the bottom of it. 

“What- What are you doing?” He asked, walking over to the two quickly. 

“I’m coming with you.” George stated confidently. 

“What about England? What about your duties? You’re… leaving them behind?” Clay looked confused, stumbling over his words a bit.

“I’m following what’s important to me.” George couldn’t take it a second longer, he pulled Clay into his, bringing the taller man’s face down to own and giving him a swift kiss. 

He could feel Clay reel, the shock leaving his body once their lips were connected once again. 

“You’re such an idiot.” Was the only thing he could say when George finally pulled back. 

“You love it.” George smiled. 

“I do.” Clay laughed. 

“Alright then. Let’s get this show on the road!” George exclaimed, running to the gangplank, pulling Clay along by his hand. The hand he’d never let go of again.

 

He knew what he wanted now and he took it.