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The State of Things

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By eleven am the Caribbean sun was swelteringly hot. Beneath the shade of a tree Captain Jack Sparrow took another long pull from a bottle of rum and crossed his outstretched legs in front of him, admiring once again, the breathtaking tranquility of his Lady the sea as she lapped at the shore. Moments later, he passed out.

And that was how Commander John Sheppard found him, drunkenly sprawled out on the sand, propped up against the trunk of a coconut palm.

With a heavy sigh John removed his hat, folded it under his arm and kicked the pirate’s thigh with the toe of his boot. “Wake up, Pirate!” he demanded. Jack grumbled incoherently, head lolling sideways.

John pushed aside the overwhelming urge to bury his face in his hands and call the entire thing quits. “Jack, I’m serious. Wake up. Now!

“Aye, Johnny-boy…” the Captain mumbled distantly, cracking open his eyes and squinting into the sunlight.

John closed his eyes and prayed for strength. When he opened them again he found himself faced with a pair of extremely dilated pupils and an extended arm, the gesture calling for him to give assistance. He grasped Jack’s hand and pulled the inebriated pirate to his feet. Jack stumbled forward slightly, falling against John’s chest (although by purpose or mistake, John couldn’t tell). “Looking good today, Commander,” he whispered, breathing a gust of warm, Rum-scented air over John’s cheek, their fingers still entwined.

“Jack, get on the damn ship,” John hissed, his patience wearing thin. The pirate, now smirking, peeled himself away from John’s body and sauntered off toward the frigate anchored a little way down the beach.

And that was about the state of things.

The search and acquisition of Captain Jack Sparrow was a never ending escapade in which every officer enlisted in the Royal Navy partook. It was lucky for Jack, however, that John Sheppard, Commander of the good ship Atlantis, was on occasion a soft touch. Upon first capturing the pirate, John had thought him to be an uneducated swine unworthy of his attentions, only to find dining with him a wholly satisfying experience; the captain had many tales of the sea to tell, entertaining to the last. A sense of humour John could appreciate, too. He found within two days of seizing the man that he could hardly bring himself to turn Jack over to the authorities and watch him hang for living a life he was born into, the only kind of life he’d ever been allowed to know.

So it was arranged that at the next port Jack would find his way off of the Atlantis, shrouded in darkness he would disappear into the night never to be a hindrance on John or his crew ever again.

Oh, if only things were so straightforward.

Since then there had been a series of misadventures in which Jack succeeded in avoiding apprehension with John’s help, the Commander breaking all of the rules he had sworn to obey under Navel law, continuously under-embellishing the truth in letters to his commanding officers regarding the true state of affairs concerning one Captain Jack Sparrow.

It was unfortunate, John found himself thinking, that a pirate only had room in his heart for three things: the sea, grog and booty, because after a while John could feel himself growing somewhat attached to his ungovernable not-quite cohort.

It was the simple things.

The way in which they would drop anchor, drinking until the moon and stars became blurred and twice too many, and Jack would support the weight of a lower ensign who was overtaken by the ale. He never seemed to mind that he was surrounded by men that could overpower him and take him back to the mainland for trial. As the time passed the level of trust between the captain and John’s men only strengthened, John feeling that perhaps his crew had taken a certain liking to the pirate.

It was the way that Jack would drink too much and swagger into his quarters unannounced, leaning against the door frame as the ship swayed from side to side, raising his eyebrows and smiling coyly. How John would look up from yet another letter full of half truths and brush Jack’s advances aside until the door clicked shut and he was alone.

How, an hour later, he’d catch himself wondering if Jack would return and, sure as the sun would rise, he would appear, waltzing through the doorway once again, perhaps a little more sober than he let on. And John would go to him, not only assured that his advances were received and reciprocated, but knowing that he had made them in his own time and on his on terms. It made John think he were in control of the situation, when he wasn’t, not really.

Jack always smelled vaguely like ancient maps, of half empty bottles of Rum; he tasted sugar-sweet however, like the inside of his mouth had been coated with honey. As such John melted against him, allowing himself to be drawn into an embrace. And sometimes, if the trip had been a good one, and if Jack had obtained the kind of treasures he had planned to pilfer, their touches were unhurried, gentle, and John’s pleasure was drawn out until it became unbearable, writhing beneath hands that had pillaged towns and hoisted a lifetimes worth of sails. Other occasions, when things had not gone as intended, when Jack had escaped death by the skin of his teeth, it was brutal and uneasy; pushing, shoving, until John was pinning Jack down, or being pinned down by him in turn, to keep from tearing each other to pieces in the heat of it.

And he was possessed by Kohl-lined eyes assessing him in the half-light, imagery of Jack’s battle-scarred flesh burned into his minds eye, the remembered feel of it sending shivers through his entire body as he ordered his crew to break starboard, to go to wherever Jack might be.

And John felt as though no hurricane were strong enough to sever the ties he had constructed between himself and the rogue. Drowning in absurd contentment as the other man licked the salt from his skin, creating trails of red-hot desire on his flesh amidst even the most rough of seas.

John was lucky he had been allowed to choose his own crew upon promotion, selecting those closest to him, the men he knew he could surely trust. None had qualms about John’s failure to obey higher ranking command, most were just happy to be out of the endless cold of English winter, delighting in their frequent stops at exotic ports.

His second in command, Rodney- who he was grateful to have onboard when everything went to Hell in the middle of a storm ravaged ocean- would share wine with him and comment on the frequency of their run-ins with the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow; hinting in his own unsubtle way that he understood the nature of the arrangement John and the pirate had. It seemed Rodney didn’t so much disapprove, more that he was worried for John’s safety in the untimely event of his betrayal being discovered by those who ranked above him.

John tried not to think about such an occurrence. Falling instead into the memory of Jack running his palms over the rise of John’s ribs, bending to kiss him fervently, wetly and without grace, then pulling back and considering him in a way that John liked to think was reverent. And perhaps in turn he too felt respect for such a man, one who could go where he pleased without the encumbrance of duty forever on his shoulders.

And John knew when a chapter of their shared time was about to come to a close by the way Jack would say to him, with utmost sincerity, that “all good things come to an end, mate,” always understanding that in the morning the pirate would be gone; knowing full well that ‘an end’ was far from what it was.

Which lead him to days such as these, sweating profusely beneath his weighty uniform on a pleasant island shoreline, once again rescuing Jack from the oncoming tempest of retribution being brought forth by fast approaching ships supporting various Navy regalia.

A large man with an eye-patch and arm muscles as thick as John’s thighs briefly exchanged words with Jack before he and John boarded the row boat destined for the Atlantis. The big oaf grinned at John but it was obvious he felt anything but joy at the sight of him; Jack just patted the other man on the shoulder as they spoke in what could have been another language, tacking ‘mate’ and ‘savvy’ onto the end of every sentence until John couldn’t make out a single word of what they were saying.

Then, as the muscled pirate withdrew toward a path leading to the nearby settlement, they clambered inside the tiny vessel and Jack told him not to worry about Ronon, it was just that his faith in Naval officers was slight, as was the general consensus amongst their kind. John understood that entirely, the mistrust worked both ways. And then they were pushing off, gliding oar-stroke after oar-stroke toward the Atlantis, Jack grinning broadly toward the midday sun, his whole face alight with joy, and John thanking his lucky stars for being blessed with the trust of a scoundrel such as he.