Jongin can call himself a lot of things, but lucky sure isn't one of them. He's beginning to think that his entire predicament is entirely his fault, and to an extent, it may be. But he didn't exactly choose to be born nearsighted, nor did he volunteer for look out duty. Alas, someone made the decision that the one sailor with less than perfect eyesight would be the one in charge of spotting potential danger. Subsequently, The Excalibur and her crew hit a (very obvious) (quite avoidable) reef.
Which leaves Jongin in his current situation; caught in a riptide, struggling to stay afloat on a piece of The Excalibur’s obliterated stern, lying next to what is most likely a dead body.
Well, at least what Jongin assumes to be a dead body. There's a lot of blood, and he doesn't seem to be breathing. Jongin refrains from pushing him into the water for two reasons: One, what if he's not dead, and Jongin’s just killed someone and Two, the body of the sailor next to him may be the only thing balancing Jongin’s life-saving debris. There's a whole list of things Jongin wants to do, and drowning is really on the bottom of the list.
Dying in general, if he's honest with himself. He dips his arm into the water, salt water stinging at the deep gash running down the length of it. He's a pathetic excuse for a sailor, but at least he knows how to survive. The salt will help to kill the bacteria in his wound, and maybe he'll die of dehydration before the gangrene sets in.
Jongin sighs, watching as his former crewmates row towards the shore of some uninhabited island he can't recall the name of. There's another ship from their fleet that will be in the general vicinity within days, so they'll be fine. Hopefully.
The shoreline, the wreck of his ship, and the movement of the crew fade into the distance as Jongin floats further out to sea. All Jongin can see is blue, the endless expanse of the ocean.
With a grunt, he rolls his companion onto his side, intent on stealing his uniform jacket as sun protection and yes, okay, there’s some brains leaking from the back of his head. This is, in Jongin’s expert opinion, most definitely a dead body.
He struggles to sit upright on the debris, pulling the uniform from his deceased companion, checking him over for anything that could aid in his survival. He comes up nil, a waterlogged pistol and pilfered bottle of rum the only things on his person--- the pistol completely unloaded and the rum half drunk.
With his feet, Jongin nudges the body into the water. He offers a two fingered salute as the man’s corpse sinks beneath the waves, taking a lazy swig of the rum as a sort of silent tribute.
Silence greets him.
Jongin’s current predicament may be his own fault, but he's going to blame his god awful luck, anyway.
Jongin isn't sure which sensation bothers him the most, the cold or the ache. Then again, they're both the same thing, really--- his injuries are minor but in inconvenient places. Every time he shifts the wound on his arm re-opens, and Jongin has to re-submerge his bloodied limb into the icy water. And the cold, oh the cold, it sinks into his bones through layers of wet cloth and skin. Not even the pilfered clothes he uses as a makeshift hat by day and blanket by night can warm him up.
It's been two days. Jongin is very hungry and completely out of rum. He's fallen off the raft not once, but twice, and judging by the positioning of the stars, drifting further and further from land.
He still holds hope that another ship will find him; he's still floating adrift along the trade route, and the passage is frequently traveled enough that someone is bound to find him. Jongin closes his eyes, attempting to sleep for just a few hours. He hopes he doesn't fall off the raft again. Drowning sounds like a terrible way to die, but drowning in his sleep sounds even worse.
“Oi!” Jongin is most likely hallucinating. Or dreaming. He’s probably thought a ship into existence. The oar poking at his side is just part of his imagination, “Oi, you alive?”
“Somewhat,” Jongin indulges in his madness. It's nice to have some sort of conversation after two days of just the sound of water against debris and gulls circling overhead. He doesn't open his eyes, afraid that waking up to see nothing but ocean will shatter the illusion of his sanity. Jongin would like to pretend, just for a little while.
“We've got a position available on our ship,” The voices have multiplied. There's two now instead of one. Jongin’s journey to insanity is in a rapid spiral, “If you’re interested, that is.”
Pain ricochets through his side as the oar strikes against his ribcage. Sea Madness is either incredibly vivid, or someone is really floating next to Jongin in a lifeboat. Honestly, he hopes for the latter.
He opens his eyes.
Thankfully, there's people, and not just Jongin’s imagination. He knows they're not a trick of the mind, because Jongin’s brain is truly incapable of imagining this.
Two young men sit in a lifeboat, one obviously quite tall, the other… not so much. They're well dressed, too, though their clothes are horrendously mismatched in both colour and style; a kaleidoscope of texture, an awful mix of trends from the colonies.
“I'm interested,” Jongin struggles to sit up, the debris shaking violently with the movement. The two men in the boat make no move to help, regarding him curiously, “What are you offering?”
“Kitchenhand,” The smaller replies. He looks sweet, almost innocent, until a sharklike grin twists his features. Jongin shivers with something akin to fear.
“I'm a little more qualified than that,” Jongin’s lying. But Jongin also hates kitchen duty more than anything else, and if he can wrangle some sort of deal with these unknown sailors he'll be very happy.
“Not on our ship,” The small man laughs, before attacking him with the oar once again. Jongin is beginning to suspect that his savior is attempting to injure him at this point, “Tell me, sailor, what can you do that a pirate cannot?”
Oh. Pirates. That changes everything.
“I speak three languages,” Jongin isn't lying this time, not exactly. He's rather proficient in the native tongues from some of the colonies, not quite fluent but still helpful. At this point, he's just trying to prove his worth, lest his abilities as a kitchenhand are deemed unsatisfactory.
“We already have a translator,” The tall one pipes up, “And he speaks four languages.”
“You work in the kitchen or we leave you to die,” The small pirate says, offering the ultimatum. He doesn't look at Jongin as he addresses him, instead inspecting the buildup of dirt beneath his fingernails, “Those are your options.”
“Well, when you put it like that,” Jongin finally relents, extending an arm so that he may be pulled onto the lifeboat, “Sign me up.”
“Good choice,” He's wrenched into the boat rather ungracefully, hitting his head on the side.
“New crewmate!” The tall pirate cheers enthusiastically, “What's your name, kid?”
“Jongin,” He replies, rubbing at the sore spot on the back of his head, “Kim Jongin.”
“I’m Park Chanyeol,” The tall pirate informs him, taking his oars in hand and readying them into position, “And that's First Mate Do Kyungsoo.”
“Pleasure,” Kyungsoo nods in Jongin’s direction, before handing him the oars, “Now show me what you're capable of.”
“I’m starving and dehydrated,” Jongin deadpans, “I can't do anything right now.”
“Yeah well,” Kyungsoo pulls his pistol from its holster, aiming the barrel at Jongin’s head, “Rescuing you interrupted my nap.”
“He needs all the beauty sleep he can get, honestly,” Chanyeol laughs, before yelping as Kyungsoo’s boot comes into sharp contact with his shin.
“Those oars look quite heavy,” Jongin scrambles, “Let me take those for you.”
“Good boy,” Kyungsoo smiles at Jongin, almost sweetly. It's just as terrifying as his sharklike grin from earlier. His pistol returns to its holster as Jongin pushes through his exhaustion, dipping his oars into the water in time with Chanyeol’s, “You're gonna make a great pirate.”
Jongin’s luck is seriously the worst.
There's only one ship in these parts that Jongin truly fears, and that's The Lady Luck. He's heard stories, frightening tales whispered over a glass of rum or mug of ale. Most sailors in these parts have some sort of information about the mysterious ship, but gossip is as rampant as scurvy within the community, so Jongin takes each of them with a grain of salt.
But within most rumours lies a small amount of truth, and Jongin strips embellished tales down to what he assumes are the facts.
They say the ship is so large it requires near two hundred men to sail it, each one stronger than the average man. They say the combined wealth of the crew is more than even the King’s. Out of all the things said by the colloquial they, it is usually the belief that the Lady Luck is crewed by demons and captained by the devil himself that brings the most fear.
Jongin just assumes that it's a big, scary ship filled with big, scary pirates that are unbelievably good at their job.
Of course, the barmaids trifle in gossip of a different caliber, especially where The Lady Luck is concerned. They do not see the crew as demons, just devilishly handsome.
It's in a noisy tavern in Singapore that Jongin discovers some crucial information, knowledge that must contribute to the irrational fear of the ship, the crew and the captain.
It seems as if the man in charge of the infamous ship holds certain perversions, an affinity for the company of men; the most powerful pirate in the area is as dastardly in his private life as he is in his profession. The mixture of fear, disgust and reluctant respect a cocktail of emotions resulting in rumour.
Jongin is enamored by the idea of the mysterious captain. A handsome, powerful and dangerous man; it thrills Jongin beyond words. He too shares an affinity for male company, and he admits (though only to himself) that a night with the infamous captain sounds rather enticing.
But they're just rumors.
And Jongin indulges himself in fantastic fantasies nonetheless.
Jongin is pulled onto the deck of a ship no bigger than his own. In fact, everything his new home looks exactly the same as The Excalibur, down to the colour of the paint and position of the sails. One of the ships in his former fleet went missing, according to the rumour mill. No one knows what happened the ship, nor her crew.
Jongin’s pretty sure he's found the missing ship, and would prefer to remain blissfully ignorant regarding the fate of her former sailors. He’s already feeling quite ill-- dehydration most likely-- and hearing about the grizzly end of ill-fated sailors is a sure fire way to see the contents of his stomach displayed on the polished deck.
“Fresh meat!” A pirate yells from above. By the looks of it, he's fixing a tear in the main sail. He dangles precariously from one of the many ropes, seemingly unphased by the height and potential danger, “Welcome aboard!”
“If Jongdae falls, you're cleaning his brains off the deck,” Kyungsoo mutters. Jongin doesn't know if he's addressing Chanyeol, himself, or both. He assumes both, “How he's not dead yet, I'll never know.”
The dangling pirate, or Jongdae as Jongin believes his name is, loops a leg around his rope and slides safely to the ground. Jongin winces, the rough texture surely caused some sort of burn on his palm and shin. Jongdae seems completely unbothered by the pain, smiling warmly at Jongin as his feet hit the deck.
“Where’s the rest?” Kyungsoo asks, fixing a glare in Jongdae’s direction, as if he's the one responsible for the suspiciously empty ship. To his credit, Jongdae seems completely unbothered. Jongin imagines that the First Mate’s unnerving facial expressions are something he'll get used to.
“Cap ordered an emergency meeting,” Jongdae shrugs, wiping his hands along his jacket. He's dressed as ridiculously as the other two, as if the absurd fashion style is less of a conscious choice and more of a uniform, “Someone had to fix the main sail, and I drew the short straw.”
“He was purposely given the short straw,” Chanyeol whispers to him, “He's always up on the ropes, anyway.”
“I heard that,” Jongdae supplies, but doesn't refute the claim.
“What's the meeting about?” Kyungsoo pushes. He seems quite annoyed that he's been left out of official ship business. But then again, that could just be his face.
“Whether we kill him or keep him,” Jongdae jerks a thumb in Jongin’s direction.
“Keep, if you don't mind,” Jongin manages to reply. He really, really doesn't feel like dying.
“You're not loyal to the Crown?” Jongdae tilts his head, regarding him curiously, “That's interesting.”
“I joined the Navy so I didn't starve to death,” Jongin shrugs. His hometown has no jobs, and the unfortunate expectation for Jongin to marry a woman. After the death of his aunt, the last remaining member of Jongin’s family, he took his meager inheritance and ran, “The only thing I'm loyal to is my stomach.”
“So if we asked you to identify which ships contain profitable cargo?” Jongdae trails off, fiddling with the hem of his coat distractedly.
“I'll tell you everything you need to know,” Jongin confirms.
“Good sense of self-preservation,” Kyungsoo claps him on the back. It hurts far more than expected, “I’ll make sure the Captain doesn't use you as shark bait.”
“Much appreciated,” Jongin wheezes, the force of Kyungsoo’s hit knocking the air straight from his lungs.
There’s a commotion below deck, voices echoing from the depths of the ship. Footsteps sound as Jongin’s new crewmates climb the steps and join them on the deck.
There's seven in total, each one regarding Jongin curiously. They keep their distance, but every single one of them keeps an idle hand on his sword or pistol. One pirate has a hand on both, twirling the gun around his thin fingers and playing with the hilt of his saber.
“Is he worth keeping?” The pistol twirling pirate asks. He catches the weapon in his hand before aiming it in Jongin’s direction.
“Yes,” Kyungsoo replies. He offers no other reasoning than his word. As First Mate, the crew is inclined to believe him. Their stances relax, hands dropping from weapons. The pirate previously threatening Jongin’s life re-holsters his pistol with a disappointed sigh.
The crew stands equally, as if they are all of the same rank. It seems the captain isn't among them, meaning that Jongin’s new ship is run by a grand total of eleven men-- twelve, if he's allowed to live. It’s not impossible to run a Navy vessel with such a small crew, but it'll be hard. Jongin now knows he was picked up for more reasons than kitchen duty; an extra hand on deck, and a knowledgeable one at that. A former member of the King’s navy to sail on a former ship of the King’s fleet. Jongin gets to keep his life, and the pirates get insider information. It's a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
Of course, they had to test his loyalty to the crown. There's no use keeping him if he's just going to betray them later.
There's no chance of that. Despite the death threats, the pirates seem far more pleasant than the crew of The Excalibur. Which is ridiculous, quite frankly, that a group of thieves and murderers are nicer than a ship filled with law-abiding sailors.
“Where the fuck is Byun?” Kyungsoo asks. Jongin shakes his head, trying to clear the water still lodged in his ears. Byun is a surname no sailor ever wants to hear, and Jongin just hopes that there's more than one Captain Byun sailing the waters.
The dread sets in, and it must show on his face, because the crew starts to snicker.
“Oh?” Kyungsoo hums. His shark-like grin is just as terrifying as the last time Jongin saw it, “You've heard of him, then?”
The snickering of the crew becomes an outright chorus of boisterous laughter. Jongin takes it back, takes it all back. His new crewmates are all assholes, taking immense joy from his fear and discomfort.
“Welcome to The Lady Luck, sailor,” Chanyeol laughs into his ear.
He continues to speak, a sort of follow-up statement reminding Jongin that rumours aren’t always true.
But Jongin doesn't hear it.
He's already fainted.
Jongin comes to with a gasp. Unfortunately, he gasps at the exact moment a canteen of water is tipped into his mouth, meaning there's an awful lot of coughing and spluttering going on. Water drips down his chin and onto the pirate pinching the skin of his wrist. It’s a way to check for dehydration, Jongin realises. The skin doesn't immediately snap back into position, and the pirate frowns.
“Yeah, he's dehydrated,” He wipes the water from his face with a grimace. Wordlessly, he hands the canteen to Jongin. He finishes the water quickly, it sits heavily in his empty stomach and does nothing to quench his thirst. It'll take effect, eventually, but Jongin would just like to rest until that point.
“I thought you passed out because of the captain,” Chanyeol snickers, offering a hand and pulling Jongin to his feet, “Because that would have been hilarious.”
Jongin should reply with something fearless, something to earn respect from his new crewmates. Instead, he lets out an embarrassing yelp as his legs buckle underneath him, weakened by shock and hunger.
“Speaking of the Captain,” One of the pirates, the one with the delicate hands and itchy trigger finger, looks Jongin up and down, “Our fresh meat is just his type.”
“So the rumours are true,” Jongin rasps, mostly to himself, “Interesting.”
“You got a problem, sailor?” There's a blade at his neck, and the furious face of a pirate lies behind it. He speaks with an accent, probably someone picked up from the colonies.
“Rule number one,” Sneers the pistol twirling pirate, “A problem with the captain means a problem with keeping your head attached to your neck.”
“Tao, Sehun, calm down,” The pirate who reprimands them is still slightly damp from Jongin’s regurgitated water. He feels a little guilty, but it's probably not the worst thing he’s been covered in, “Well grill him when he's not half dead.”
“Junmyeon’s mothering you,” Chanyeol pulls him from the deck once more, this time looping an arm around Jongin’s waist to steady him, “That's a good sign.”
Jongin is too exhausted to reply.
“Don't worry too much about the captain,” Chanyeol continues, gingerly walking Jongin below deck, “I mean, he'll definitely be into you. But he respects boundaries. Just push him off, and he'll get the hint.”
Chanyeol is stronger than he looks, lifting Jongin effortlessly from the ground and placing him on a hammock. They must be in the crew’s quarters, and Jongin assumes that he's in his new bed. The other hammocks are decorated, to a degree. No one blanket is the same and few even have pillows. Jongin’s is bare, his blanket thin and itchy. It reeks of mold, and although Chanyeol hasn't drawn the cloth to his chin, the scent still radiates.
“Rest,” Chanyeol says quietly, “We'll initiate you once you're feeling a little more alive.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Jongin asks, though his eyes are dropping and sleep is mere moments away, “You're not supposed to be nice.”
“You can't work if you're dead,” Chanyeol replies with a shrug, “And I'm sure you’ve figured out that we need extra hands.”
It's hardly the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to him, but on board the The Excalibur, he'd surely have been whipped for succumbing to exhaustion.
Sleep takes him, the gentle rocking of The Lady Luck drawing him into slumber.
Jongin dreams of things he shouldn't, of opportunities lost and a man without a name.
He re-lives, as he often does, the most perfect weekend of his life. There's no pirates with the reputation of demons, only a man who looks like an angel yet loves like the devil.
It's only a dream, and Jongin knows this, but he yearns. He aches to feel the nameless man’s breath against his neck. Jongin wants to tug at strands of soft, brown hair as his cock is taken into the most beautiful mouth. He wants to return the favour, before sucking marks into soft thighs as the nameless man recovers.
He wants and he craves but Jongin has never been lucky, and so the nameless man slips from his grasp and becomes nothing more than a dream.
“He's alive!” Jongdae is hanging from the ropes, again, and from his vantage point, he's the first to spot Jongin as he emerges from below deck.
The ship is in full motion, and there's a flurry of movement on the deck. The crew is in the middle of a directional change, so he's barely greeted past a few muttered greetings.
Kyungsoo stands at the wheel, barking orders. Jongin isn't instructed to help, but he does so anyway. The callouses on his hands haven't softened, so the rough slide of rope against his skin doesn't hurt as much as he was expecting. Jongin is still a little weak, but the extra manpower allows the mainsail to rise faster, the entire ship jolting as the fabric catches the wind.
Jongdae cheers excitedly as he slides down the rope.
“Where are we headed?” Jongin asks. He's addressing no one in particular. If it were night, he might be able to take a guess based on the position of the stars and their general direction. But in the light of day, he's got nothing to go off. Blue skies look the same no matter where they are and Jongin is hopelessly lost.
“Singapore,” One of the crew supplies. He introduces himself as Yixing, the ship's navigator, and shakes Jongin’s hand in greeting, “We're about a month out.”
Jongin freezes. If all goes to plan, their trip to Singapore will coincide with his old crew’s shore leave. They'll be surprised to see him alive, though not happily. If he's not dragged back onto the ship and whipped for causing the wreck, he'll be hung for going AWOL. Neither of those things sounds particularly appealing.
“Don't try and escape while we're there,” Two sets of arms loop around his neck, and Jongin is drawn into stride with two impishly grinning crewmates, “Because we'll find you.”
Tao and Sehun, if Jongin remembers correctly, are still threatening to kill him. But there's more smiling this time, and fewer weapons aimed at his head. Jongin assumes they're warming up to him.
“You kill him, you're in the kitchen with Luhan!” Kyungsoo calls out from his position behind the wheel, “Just warning you!”
The crew groans in unison.
“Should I be worried?” Jongin asks, suddenly nervous about his new role.
“Extremely,” Sehun replies.
“Oh no he's precious,” Jongin can't see anything other than chest as the man he assumes is Luhan pulls him into a hug. He's shorter than Jongin, so the position is awkward and straining on his back.
“Oi, let go,” Someone decides to spare Jongin the torment, wrenching him from Luhan’s hold, “You’re a lunatic, honestly.”
Jongin suddenly understands why no one wants kitchen duty.
“Don't let him fool you,” There is a very large hand on Jongin's shoulder. Judging by the height and overwhelming presence behind him, Jongin is willing to bet that the man behind him is the infamous Captain Byun, “Minseok is the reason we're called demons.”
“I resent that,” Luhan scoffs, folding his arms across his chest, “I was there, I played just as big of a part.”
“You weren't the one who force fed a man his own intestines,” The captain says, “That was Minseok.”
“Yeah, but I was the one who cut him open!” Luhan interjects. Neither of them seems ashamed of their actions. Demons, indeed.
“He had a problem with the captain,” Minseok explains, directing his gaze at Jongin, “I'm sure you know what that means.”
The hand on his shoulder tightens.
“I’m aware,” Jongin replies, voice far calmer than it should be, “And I don’t have a problem with it.”
There's a moment of silence, Minseok and Luhan regarding him carefully. The hand on his shoulder remains tight, bordering on painful. A warning.
“Uh, Yifan?” Minseok gestures to the man behind him, “You're gonna break his shoulder.”
The man behind him is not the captain, as it turns out. Captain Byun’s given name isn't common knowledge, but he's got this unfortunate habit of carving his initials into the chests of his victims. No one but the crew knows his first name, but everyone knows it begins with a B.
“Sorry,” Yifan replies, “I'm used to holding people still while these two kill them.”
“Why does everyone on this ship threaten to kill me?” Jongin asks. Well, he whines. Loudly and like a child. It prompts a laugh from his crewmates, a few well-natured pats on the shoulder.
“Pirates,” Luhan supplies, handing Jongin a knife and gesturing towards a pile of potatoes.
“You'll get used to it,” Minseok adds. Surprisingly both he and Yifan join them in preparing food for the crew. Jongin expected to work alone with Luhan and his sporadic, suffocating hugs.
It's not a quiet affair. Three of them bickering while Jongin tries not to cut his hand open during the peeling process.
Luhan and Yifan change languages halfway through a conversation, gossiping away in their native tongue. Jongin is shocked for a moment but Minseok seems unbothered. It’s probably a common occurrence for discussions to slip into Mandarin from time to time. Just something else for Jongin to get used to.
He pretends he doesn't understand what they're saying.
“The captain will want to meet him,” Luhan says, shooting a glance in Jongin’s direction. It would be obvious that they're talking about him, even if Jongin had no idea what they're saying.
“Yeah,” Jongin supplies, “Where is the captain?”
“Goddamn it,” Luhan curses, “Another one we can't gossip about.”
“You know Mandarin?” Yifan questions.
“Enough,” Jongin shrugs, “I know some Vietnamese too. A little bit of French, but not much.”
“I'll teach you French,” Yifan replies. He must be the translator Chanyeol and Kyungsoo told him about, “We can swap. My French for your Vietnamese.”
“I don't know much,” Jongin says, “But I'll try.”
He pauses, “We were talking about the captain? Where is he?”
“Drunk,” Luhan supplies.
“Asleep,” Minseok shrugs.
“Heartbroken,” Yifan says, glaring at the other two, “But probably the other two as well.”
“Usually, you have the respect to gossip in a language I don't understand,” Someone says from behind them. The voice sounds awfully familiar, Jongin’s almost certain he's heard it before, “Honestly, the disrespect.”
“I take that back,” Yifan says with a sigh, “He's behind us.”
“Yes, and I'm---” The captain trails off. Jongin stands with his back facing him, a little terrified but mostly because the others haven't moved either, “Turn around.”
No one is named in the instruction, so all four of them shuffle to face him. Jongin’s breath catches in his throat.
“You,” He croaks, taking in the captain’s appearance. Jongin knows this man, thought he'd never see him again.
“You,” The captain sneers, “What are you doing on my ship?”
“Don't talk to me,” The captain draws his sword, pushing the tip into Jongin’s throat. There's not enough pressure to break the skin, and it's a little too dull to make him bleed on contact. But the threat is there, possibly the most genuine death threat he's received so far, “Mister Lu, Mister Kim?”
“Yes, sir!” Minseok and Luhan reply in unison. They're confused, but still ready to obey orders.
“Lock our new friend here in the brig,” The Captain hisses.
“I'm sorry, sir?” Luhan asks.
“I’m going to kill him,” The captain says, retracting his weapon and pacing around the kitchen, “But I don't know how.”
“May I suggest force feeding him his own intestines?” Minseok replies with a wicked grin, “That's always a crowd pleaser.”
“Overdone,” The captain says, waving his hand dismissively, “We need something with more of an impact.”
“But no one's going to see it?” Yifan interjects. It's amazing how blasé they are about it all. They're discussing Jongin’s violent, untimely death like they would dinner plans.
“I'll see it, and that's what matters,” The captain nods to himself, “To the brig with him, we'll figure out what to do later.”
“Aye sir,” Minseok replies, grabbing a fistful of Jongin’s hair and leading him towards the deck. He could struggle and escape the grasp with no problem. But there's nowhere to go; he's in the middle of the ocean, on a ship full of pirates who want to kill him. Wonderful.
“I don't know what you did to the captain,” Minseok hisses in his ear, grip on Jongin’s hair tightening until the point of pain, “But you're going to suffer for it.”
Jongin is pulled by the hair to the brig, his scalp aches and burns but he doesn't give Minseok the satisfaction of hearing him cry out in pain. He's stronger than that.
“Try not to drown,” Minseok says, throwing Jongin into his cell. There's obviously a slight leak in the bottom of the ship, the lower level submerged in ankle-deep water. If he tries to lie down, there's a very real chance of drowning, “Wouldn’t want you to die before Baekhyun gets to you.”
“Baekhyun, huh?” Jongin whispers to himself, watching as Minseok retreats. It's a nice name. It’s far less of a mouthful than The Nameless Man.
“Baekhyun is overdramatic,” Chanyeol doesn't spit on Jongin’s food before handing it to him. It's a nice change. Luhan has left his customary gift of maggots on the sole slice of stale bread, but they're easily shaken off. “I want your side of the story.”
Jongin has been fed exactly four times since the incident in the kitchen. Five, including Chanyeol’s offering. He assumes he's been locked away for five days, and for each of those days a new person has delivered his meal of stale bread, maggots and saliva with the opening sentence of I don't know what you did to the captain, followed by some creative ideas regarding his fate.
Yixing decided to sit with him on day three, eating his own meal of corned beef and potatoes, and regale him with all the ideas the crew has come up with.
Jongin wonders if the idea with the cannons is still the leading contender.
“How much do you know?” Jongin asks.The crew has no idea. They always demand information, but Jongin stays silent. If Baekhyun wanted them informed on the situation, they would be.
“Too much,” Chanyeol deadpans, scrunching his nose in disgust. There's a spare bucket floating around, the movement of the ship nudges it against Chanyeol’s leg. He pins it to the floor, using the amount not submerged in water as a makeshift stool, “But tell me again, from your point of view.”
“We met in a bar in Singapore,” Jongin starts, tracing the bars of his cell, “He called me beautiful and bought me a drink. I have no idea how he knew, but he was so sure that I wouldn't reject him.”
“One of the barmaids is an informant of ours,” Chanyeol shrugs, “She gives us information on the cargo coming in and out of the port, and points Baekhyun in the direction of handsome sailors who don't show interest in women.”
“What do you give her in return?” Jongin asks. It makes sense that their meeting was a setup. He should be offended, but all things considered, he doesn't have the right to be. He squashes the feeling down.
“Trinkets and spices,” Chanyeol shrugs, “Luhan, on occasion.”
“You sell your crewmate’s body for to barmaids for information.” Jongin deadpans. Pirates, honestly.
“And he loves every minute of it,” Chanyeol replies with a laugh, “But we're not talking about Luhan. We're talking about you.”
“Right,” Jongin clears his throat, “We flirt, he gets handsy, we leave. I'm sure you can guess what happened next?”
“I don't have to guess,” Chanyeol looks like he's in pain, “I wasn't exaggerating when I said I knew too much.”
“So you know about---”
“I know everything, Jongin,” Chanyeol doesn't rise to Jongin’s bait as expected, “I know every single place his mouth has been, and I will never look at either of you the same way again.”
“He has an incredible tongue,” Jongin replies. He leans through the bars, making a show of licking at his teeth while he smirks.
“There are some places that tongues do not belong and his has been in yours,” Chanyeol is borderline hysterical at this point. Jongin laughs at his obvious discomfort.
“More than once,” Jongin supplies happily, “We did spend an entire weekend together.”
“Can we skip this part?” Chanyeol shudders, “Maybe move onto the part where there's no tongues involved?”
“Fine,” Jongin sighs, “When tongues weren't involved, we… well, we fell in love.”
“The look on your face right now is almost worse than the bit with the tongues,” Chanyeol replies, “But Baekhyun’s lovesick face was far more disgusting, so I'll let it slide.”
“We didn’t exchange names, we just talked,” Jongin sighs, “But we did agree to meet again in two months.”
“Now this is the part I wanna hear,” Chanyeol leans forward on his makeshift seat, eagerly awaiting the rest of Jongin’s story, “Two months later, he's there and you're not.”
“We got caught in a storm,” Jongin says, “Put us off course by about eight days.”
“He waited a week,” Chanyeol replies quietly, “On the eighth day we sailed out.”
“I waited for him, too,” Jongin fiddles with the bars again, unsure where to cast his gaze, “I knew he was gone, but I still waited.”
“So you didn't reject him?” Chanyeol says slowly, “If you didn't run into that storm, would you have still met with him?”
“Better,” Jongin smiles, “I was planning on going AWOL and joining his crew.”
“Funny how things turn out,” Chanyeol says, “Here you are, AWOL and part of his crew. Just like you wanted.”
“Yeah,” Jongin replies softly, “But you know what I really wanted? Another chance to get his dick in my---”
“Jongin!” Chanyeol cuts him off with a pained screech, “Please stop.”
“Sorry,” He replies with a laugh, “It's just too funny.”
“You're awful,” Chanyeol grimaces, “The both of you.”
“We're pirates,” Jongin replies, “You'll get used to it.”
“Yeah,” Chanyeol breathes. There's a small smile on his face, peaceful and genuine. It's the first display of emotion he's seen on the ship, “I guess I'll have to.”
Jongin has mastered the art of sleeping in a sitting position. There's too much water to even consider lying down; even the smallest of movement sends waves putrid water in Jongin’s direction. Even if he doesn't drown, he'll end up with a mouthful of water tainted with all sorts of things he'd rather not think about.
As it is, every now and again he's hit with a wave to the chest. It's like Kyungsoo is purposely steering the ship in an erratic manner, purely to keep him awake and covered in filth. Jongin wouldn't put it past him.
“You need to teach me how to gamble,” There's a jingle of keys and a laugh as Jongdae unlocks his cell, “Honestly, anyone who can best the captain has to be good.”
“What?” Jongin slurs. He's too tired to think at this point, the smell of the brig is making him dizzy, and he hasn't slept properly in days.
“You beat the captain in a game of poker,” Jongdae says, struggling to pull the bars open. They're a little rusty, and Jongin is showered in small, orange flecks as the hinges move, “He was convinced you cheated, but has since changed his mind.”
“Oh,” Jongin’s head swims. He's glad he's being released, but can't help the feeling of hurt. The captain has spun a story about their brief history, yet none of it is true. Is Baekhyun ashamed of him, of what they did? Jongin doesn't know what to think, “That's good, then.”
“No hard feelings?” Jongdae is kind enough to help Jongin from the floor. The pirate is stronger than he looks, as he's able to lift Jongin’s much larger form with no trouble at all, “I know we overreacted a little, but we thought you had a problem, is all.”
“No hard feelings,” Jongin confirms. His movement stirs the putrid water, and the foulest of smells wafts towards him. Jongin wrinkles his nose in distaste, rather used to the scent. Jongdae, on the other hand, dry heaves. Jongin rubs his back with a sigh, “In fact, next time someone has a problem, let me deal with it?”
“You’d kill for the captain?” Jongdae replies. He could hold a tone of disbelief, or he could still be nauseous. Either way, really, “No offense, but he's done nothing to earn your loyalty.”
Except he kinda has, but Baekhyun seems unwilling to tell the crew about their little weekend rendezvous in Singapore. Jongin will keep his mouth appropriately closed.
“He spared my life,” Is what Jongin says, instead, “So I'll use it to protect his honour.”
“Do you know the story of The Lady Luck?” Jongdae asks. The brig still smells awful, but neither of them attempt to leave. Jongin’s on the receiving end of a Very Important story, one that cannot wait for fresher air and dryer scenery, “I mean, you know the rumours, but do you know the truth?”
“No,” Jongin shakes his head. An unidentifiable piece of gunk flies from his hair and splatters onto the wall with a splat!, “People tend to think you're demons.”
“Minseok,” Jongdae shakes his head with a laugh. No gunk flies from his hair at the action. Jongin feels both unclean and jealous, “He's good fun, that one.”
“Our story starts with a young merchant sailor and his best friend,” Jongdae says after a moment, “Two boys who were treated like dogs on an honest ship.”
Jongdae’s lips curl in disgust, “Good men don't beat children for fun,” Jongdae says, “But the captain and Chanyeol have the scars that prove they do.”
Everyone's been whipped at least once. Jongin doesn't know a sailor alive that manages to avoid punishment. His own back has three diagonal scars running across his shoulder blades, one for each time he fell asleep while on duty. He remembers Baekhyun’s back, more scar tissue than unmarred skin.
“Sick of the mistreatment, the Captain stages a mutiny. He, his best friend and the new cabin boy kill them all, and take over the ship,” Jongdae points to himself with a wry smile, “I was the cabin boy.”
Jongin nods to show he's listening.
“We sail to the nearest port to pick up a crew, but no one wants to sail under the command of a kid,” Jongdae shrugs. Jongin doesn't blame the people from the story. If asked to follow the commands of a teenager, he’d have laughed it off, too, “So we grab who we can. Sehun, the pickpocket who wants to see the world. Minseok the bartender with a mean streak. A couple of Chinese guys who can't find work.”
Jongdae smiles. His story is full of death and hardship, but their humble beginnings must be full of pleasant nostalgia, “The rest we picked up on ships we targeted,” His face morphs unpleasantly, a terrible attempt at imitating Kyungsoo’s customary grimace, “Kyungsoo shot his old captain straight through the head, before asking if he could join the crew.”
“The captain immediately made him first mate,” Jongin guesses.
“Absolutely,” Jongdae confirms with a laugh, “Someone as ruthless as that deserves a place on the ship, you know? Even the captain is scared of him.”
There's a pause in the conversation, a lull where the only noise is the sound of the ocean as it laps against the ship.
“We steal and murder and we're brilliant at it,” Jongdae says, “We're not good, nor honest, but we're better men than the people we target.”
He swings the keys around his fingers, a subtle threat. Jongdae is unarmed and he could probably kill Jongin with his bare hands. But the implication is there; the wrong mentality won't last long on The Lady Luck.
“So,” Jongdae says after a pause, “Are you a good man, or are you better than that?”
“I'm better than that,” Jongin confirms. He never really liked the Navy. Perhaps his true calling lies on the other side of the law.
“Excellent,” Jongdae says. The keys on his fingers slow to a stop before they're pocketed, “Come along now, the captain wants to see you.”
“Oh,” Jongin replies meekly.
“Privately,” Jongdae’s grin is positively wicked. It looks like the sort of expression Kyungsoo would make, a far better imitation than his previous attempt. It’s like Jongdae knows about Jongin and the captain, although he positively doesn't.
“Oh,” Jongin repeats.
Jongdae’s grin doesn't fade, he merely begins to whistle a cheery tune, his bony elbows digging into Jongin’s ribs as he pushes him up the stairs.
Jongin has never seen the inside of a captain's quarters. The temptation was there, of course, at times when his old captain wasn't on the ship. He's always refrained, for the punishment would surely be severe if he were ever caught. But he still wonders, remains ever curious.
Baekhyun’s quarters are far less glamorous than he’s imagined. He was expecting grandiose opulence, trinkets and spoils. In reality, it's basically bare, containing a table, a bed and not much else. There's also curtains, which are a luxury on their own. Jongin has never known someone so well off that they can afford to waste fabric in such a manner. Even before his time with the Navy, curtains were mere rags and nothing else.
“Leave us,” Baekhyun is pouring over maps as Jongin enters the quarters. He doesn't raise his head in greeting, merely dismisses Jongdae with a wave of his hand.
“I was going to bribe Luhan with gossip,” Jongdae whines. He’s part of the most feared crew ever to sail the ocean, yet he pouts like a child, “You can't take that away from me.”
“You can gossip with Luhan when you're on kitchen duty,” Baekhyun rises from his chair. He's small, yet still intimidating; it's easy to see why those who have met him and survived still speak of him in terror, “For an entire week.”
“One week?” Jongdae screeches, “Baek, you're killing me.”
“I could,” Baekhyun shrugs, “If that's what you want.”
“Kitchen duty sounds great,” Jongdae replies hastily, scrambling for the door, “I'll leave you to it.”
There's an echoing slam as Jongdae retreats, the framework shaking from the force. Jongin keeps his eyes glued to his feet, he’s too scared to raise his head, even as Baekhyun’s footsteps draw closer.
“Chanyeol told me what happened,” Baekhyun says quietly. Presses his fingertips into Jongin’s chin, gently encouraging him to raise his head. They make eye contact, and Baekhyun is just as beautiful as Jongin remembers, “I overreacted and I'm sorry.”
“I'm sorry, too,” Jongin says. The air is charged, and he has no idea what to do with his hands. Jongin has spent months imagining his reunion with Baekhyun, although none of his fantasies included being covered in mystery gunk and standing on a pirate ship, “You thought I stood you up.”
“You can't change the weather, Jongin,” Someone must have told Baekhyun his name, because they haven't yet been formally introduced. Baekhyun traces his fingertips along Jongin’s cheeks and jawline, softly and as if in awe. It would feel disgusting, as Jongin is dirty and covered in stubble, but Baekhyun doesn't seem to care, “Unless you can command storms as well as hearts?”
That makes Jongin laugh. He's disgusting, yet Baekhyun still finds him attractive. The command of hearts, indeed.
Jongin shakes his head, allowing his hand to rest on Baekhyun’s wrist.
“Oh I don't know about that,” Baekhyun laughs, “I'm sure my head isn't the only one you've turned.”
It's not, but Baekhyun’s gaze is the only one that's truly mattered. He's the only person Jongin has wanted to see the morning after, the only one of his bed partners he's wanted to find by his side as the sun rises.
“You're a pirate,” Jongin says, instead, “You told me that you're a merchant.”
“Would you have gone to bed with the infamous pirate Byun Baekhyun?” He asks, fingers tracing a path from Jongin’s cheek to his neck. Baekhyun is so close, and seems to want to kiss him despite the smell, “Would you have let me do what I did if you knew who I was?”
“Honestly?” Jongin breathes. If Baekhyun doesn't mind his lack of hygiene, then who is he to deny him? Jongin wants nothing more than to kiss the man in front of him, but their teasing banter is just too much fun, “I would have asked you to take me on the spot.”
“In front of everyone?” Baekhyun’s voice hitches, his hands shake as they come to rest on Jongin’s chest, “My, aren't you naughty.”
Jongin hums in response, licking his lips. Baekhyun watches with dark eyes, and Jongin is secretly thrilled.
“You're attracted to power and danger, aren't you?” Baekhyun’s question is rhetorical, Jongin doesn't even have to confirm his musings, “You're even more perfect than I remembered.”
“I wanted you to take me to your ship,” Jongin tilts his head, angling their faces so his lips brush against Baekhyun’s as he speaks. The hand on his chest tightens into a fist, gripping at the damp fabric, “Then take me to your bed.”
“Well, you're already on my ship,” Baekhyun breathes, “And my bed is just there…”
He trails off, eyes closing.
A knock sounds at the door, Chanyeol’s voice echoing through the wood.
“Land!” He shouts, and Baekhyun breaks into laughter. He drops his hands from Jongin’s shirt and steps backwards, wiping the grime onto his pants. Chanyeol’s comment confuses Jongin. By his calculations, they're still at least three weeks from arriving in Singapore.
“There's an oasis ashore,” Baekhyun comments, answering Jongin’s question before he has a chance to ask, “We'll wash up and resupply.”
Baekhyun exclaims suddenly, rushing to his trunk and rummaging through the interior in a flurry of movement.
“Here,” He throws several items of clothing over his shoulder, expensive pieces made of dark velvet and trimmed in gold. If Jongin saved his old Navy wage for a year, he still wouldn't be able to afford even one of the garments in his hold, “I got these for you. Or rather, I stole them for you. I was supposed to gift them to you in Singapore, but we both know how well that turned out.”
“They’re beautiful,” Jongin whispers. The clothing in his hands are clean, new and unworn. They're the first things he's owned that haven't been partially owned by someone else. The first gift he's ever received, “Thank you, captain.”
“Out there, I'm captain,” Baekhyun says sternly, “In here I'm Baekhyun, and I'd much prefer you to be moaning my name than saying it.”
“You're insatiable,” Jongin laughs, giddy because of his gift, giddy due to Baekhyun’s presence alone.
Baekhyun grins, advancing on Jongin until he's within enough distance to smack him squarely on the ass.
Jongin gasps in shock and arousal, hands still holding his new clothes and unable to react.
“We're talking about that later,” Baekhyun mutters darkly, pushing past Jongin and out of his quarters, “We're talking about it, and then we're doing it again, and you will not be wearing clothes while it's happening.”
Jongin trails behind him, grinning happily, “Maybe you should be naked too,” He replies. The crew has already detached the lifeboats, a small trail of them dot the expanse of ocean in between the ship and the shore. They're alone, and Jongin can speak freely, “Naked and inside me? How ‘bout it?”
“Now who’s insatiable?” Baekhyun mutters, lowering their lifeboat into the sea below.
“Then sate me,” Jongin wraps his arms around Baekhyun’s waist, kissing a line down the captain’s neck as he feeds the rope through the pulley, “Captain.”
“The sooner we do our jobs, the sooner we get back on the ship,” Baekhyun breaks free of Jongin’s hold. He swings his leg over the railing, grabbing onto a length of rope in preparation to abseil down the side of the ship, “And stop saying captain like that.”
“Aye, captain,” Jongin responds with a laugh.
He takes the rope as Baekhyun’s weight slackens it, sliding down with one hand and cradling his new clothes in the other. There's a fresh set of burns on his palm by the time he reaches the lifeboat, and the oars do nothing but aggravate it. His hand stings, his muscles ache from lack of use, but Baekhyun is smiling and basking in the sunlight.
Jongin’s palm hurts a little less.
Washed, fed and shaven, Jongin feels like a new man. The clothes Baekhyun gave him fit perfectly, and he's been promised a visit to a cobbler whilst in Singapore. His Navy issued shoes are awfully restrictive and look far too respectable to tread aboard a pirate vessel.
He spends the afternoon gathering coconuts, native fruits and fresh water to be kept on board. Their haul is enough for all of them and a little more to trade, as apparently the life of pirates occasionally involves honest work. It makes Jongin smile.
“Can't be too pirate-y in Singapore,” Junmyeon informs Jongin when asked, “We trade on occasion, just to keep the navy off our trail.”
He hands Jongin another net full of fruit, and directs him towards the lifeboat with a wiggle of his fingertips, “Be a good boy and take that to the ship, will you?”
They return to The Lady Luck at sunset, the sky illuminated with pinks and oranges, the first stars of the night peeking through as it bleeds into midnight blue. It's only at sea that Jongin notices the skies, which is a shame, because the view is breathtaking.
“Jongin will sleep with the captain tonight,” Chanyeol proclaims loudly over dinner. A few people choke. Sehun and Tao, still with mouths full of food, nudge Jongin in the ribs and wiggle their eyebrows suggestively. Sitting between them, Jongin laments, was a terrible idea.
“I don't quite trust him,” Baekhyun doesn't usually dine with the crew, but he's made an exception for the evening. Jongin was confused at first, but after Chanyeol’s outburst his presence makes a little more sense, “He'll stay with me until properly initiated.”
“We told you,” Sehun whispers.
“Totally his type,” Tao finishes for him.
“What's the initiation?” Jongin asks, ignoring Tao and Sehun completely. Luhan, for all his quirks, is an amazing cook. Having lived off nothing but stale bread for a week, the simple plate of meat and potatoes in front of him is like a feast, “Do I have to kill someone?”
“You can kill Chanyeol if you want,” Baekhyun mutters, resting his head in his hands, “It might cheer me up.”
“He doesn't mean that,” Jongdae says, mostly to Jongin. The story of The Lady Luck may have started with Baekhyun and Chanyeol’s prologue, but Jongdae was introduced in Chapter One. He's known them longer than anyone else, “The captain loves Chanyeol, really.”
“Not like that!” Chanyeol scrambles desperately, “His tongue hasn't been anywhere near my---”
“Chanyeol,” Baekhyun hisses, striking his fist against the table, “That's enough.”
“Initiation?” Jongin asks weakly. Baekhyun seems intent on hiding their relationship for whatever reason. Chanyeol and his lack of filter are a danger to secrecy.
“You have to try and out drink Minseok,” Kyungsoo’s grin is scary. Again. Jongin likes to drink as much as the next man. Judging by Kyungsoo’s reaction, Jongin won't want to drink again for a long time.
“Try being the operative word, here,” Junmyeon adds. He reaches across the table to pat Jongin’s arm in a sympathetic manner.
“You're going to fail miserably,” Kyungsoo finishes. Unlike Junmyeon, he seems rather apathetic to Jongin’s forthcoming hangover, “But we're going to have fun watching you try.”
“What are initiations like under the King?” Yixing asks as an attempt to distract Jongin. Or cut Luhan off, the cook’s mouth hangs open in preparation to speak. Jongin doesn't want to imagine what Luhan’s input may be, “Surely the Navy would have some sort of welcoming ritual?”
Jongin’s first day on The Excalibur was cold and cruel. The older sailors dousing new recruits with buckets of dirty water, tripping them and subtly kicking their sides as they lay on the ground. Their soft hands, all but shredded by the ropes, were smeared with salt at the end of the day. Out of care, they said, the salt would help heal the wounds. But the sailors pushed the coarse grains along the torn skin without remorse, only amplifying the pain.
Cold, wet and aching, the new sailors were left to sleep on the floor with rats.
“Awful,” Jongin says quietly. His admission stuns the crew into silence. Even Tao, whose utensils are primed and ready to fling unwanted potato at an unsuspecting Yifan, lowers his fork out of respect, “You're better men than they could ever be.”
More silence, an approving nod from Jongdae and a curious gaze from Baekhyun.
“That's what we like to hear!” Roars Luhan. He's apparently taken sight of Tao and his plans, and launches a handful of potatoes straight at his unsuspecting, unguarded face.
In celebration, or something. Jongin still doesn't quite understand how pirates operate.
The reaction is immediate, with Tao, Sehun and to Jongin’s surprise,Yixing, all reaching for their leftovers. Yifan yelps and hides beneath the table. Jongdae and Junmyeon leap across the table, restraining as many limbs as possible. Kyungsoo simply stands, before walking straight out of the room.
Baekhyun sits with his head in his hands with Chanyeol patting his back.
“You're the most feared pirates the world has ever known,” Baekhyun says slowly, hands curling into fists, “Act like it!”
The crew pause, lowering their utensils and hanging their heads. They murmur a chorus of apologies, and it seems to pacify Baekhyun to a degree, as his fists uncurl and he lets out a disappointed sigh.
“Jongin,” The captain stands, motioning for Jongin to do the same, “Come with me, please.”
“Aye, sir,” Jongin responds. Sehun wolf whistles. The murmured apologies of the crew turn into conspiratorial whispers ad Jongin dutifully follows the captain from the dining hall.
“If he's limping tomorrow…” Jongdae trails off. Junmyeon elbows him in the ribs, offering a small, encouraging smile.
“You forget that I can easily find a new crew,” Baekhyun says, hand settling on the door handle. He stops so suddenly that Jongin almost runs into him, “One that doesn't thrive on gossip.”
“You wouldn't,” Pipes Luhan, “You're worse than we are.”
Baekhyun doesn't offer a reply. Surely there's a story behind Luhan’s comments, one Jongin is not yet privy to.
“Clean up after your little food fight,” Baekhyun says. His back is facing the crew, yet he knows them well enough to assume that their utensils are being primed with ammunition, ready to fire once he's departed, “If I don't see any evidence, I can pretend it never happened.”
“Aye, sir!” The crew chorus.
Baekhyun takes Jongin by the hand and leads him into the night.
As much as Jongin appreciates his new clothes, he likes them better on the floor than on his body. Especially when his skin is stripped bare, covered by Baekhyun’s hands and lips instead of clothes.
“I've missed you,” Baekhyun sighs into Jongin’s neck, punctuating his sentence with a nip of his teeth, “I can't believe I nearly killed you.”
“I'm glad you didn't,” Jongin’s breath hitches as Baekhyun’s tongue slides along his collarbones.
It's not unlike their time in Singapore, unhurried pace and careful touches. Clothes stripped with dizzying haste, only for the tempo to slow dramatically as skin touches skin.
Jongin has missed this, whatever this is, as much as Baekhyun has. The moment is something to be treasured, cherished. They may serve on the same ship, but their time is limited; there's only a small window in which they can be together. A few short hours where they are not captain and crew, but two men on the brink of something beautiful.
It's like Singapore but in a way, it's completely different. Jongin now has a name to whisper, a counterpart for Baekhyun to groan into soft skin. Hushed murmurs and pants replace the once loud and free flowing noise; there is always someone awake, someone to overhear. It is not their business what happens in the captain’s quarters as night falls.
The sounds Jongin makes as he comes a treasure only for Baekhyun to keep.
On board The Lady Luck, water licks the side of the ship as Baekhyun pushes into Jongin. The ocean aids the rocking of Baekhyun’s hips, and it's so wonderful, so fitting; Jongin gives his body to a man of the sea, and the waters in which they sail set the pace.
Jongin became a sailor out of desperation, out of wanderlust. He's still desperate and lusting, but now it's for an entirely different reason.
Baekhyun kisses his mouth and swallows his moans as he comes.
Jongin has never loved the sea, but he just may be falling for it.
If the crew has any suspicions of Jongin and Baekhyun’s relationship, they don’t voice them.
Jongin spends his days manning the ropes and cleaning the ship; he's a good sailor and he pulls his weight, both figuratively and literally.
When the seas are calm and the sailing true, Jongin’s crewmates invite him to spar and sharpen his skills with a blade. In return, he teaches them about the ship, ins and outs and secrets they would never have known.
“This isn't your first ship, is it?” Jongin asks one day. They're about a week out of Singapore, the air still hot and humid despite the ocean breeze. The current version of The Lady Luck is a newer model of Navy vessel, one that wouldn't have existed when Baekhyun first staged his mutiny.
“We've upgraded a few times,” Jongdae shrugs. Jongin likes him a lot, and often finds himself climbing the ropes to aid Jongdae in his tasks. Kyungsoo’s threats have upgraded to cleaning both Jongdae and Jongin’s brains from the deck, “We see a pretty ship, we take it.”
“No one's ever been suspicious?” Jongin’s learnt a trick or two from Jongdae, they converse while upside down, ankles looped around sections of rope as they dangle in mid-air. Jongin has taken to performing showy tricks as he descends from the sky, antics that always cause Baekhyun to gift him with a fond smile.
“We've made a few adjustments,” Jongdae gestures vaguely towards the ship. Of course, there are differences to The Excalibur, but Jongin always thought they were minor, signs of a newer fleet. The crew has altered the ship to look as if it's a good copy of a naval vessel. Something not entirely unheard of. While having a young crew would definitely be cause for alarm, a well-spun story of an old captain leaving his ship to fresher blood isn't all that unbelievable. Especially when both the crew and the captain are gifted with silver tongues.
“Have you seen our colours?” Jongdae asks. Of course, Jongin has seen the British flag they keep on board. It's good for sneaking up on unsuspecting ships, he assumes.
“No,” Jongin shakes his head to the best of his abilities. Being upside down requires a whole new set of motor skills, “What are they?”
“Hoist the colours!” Jongdae yells, alerting the crew below, “Jongin hasn't seen them!”
They scramble, all hands to the flagpole as the colours-- the true colours are hoisted into the sky.
They're beautiful. Jongin has never felt a sense of loyalty or pride at the sight of the King’s flag. But the interlocking white boxes and pure black of the background instill something within Jongin that he can't quite place. He's never truly understood the loyalty of men who would die for King and country, but he's honoured to serve on board The Lady Luck.
“He's seen them, now take them down!” Baekhyun barks. The closer they get to Singapore, the higher the chance they have of running into another ship. The colours are flown as an intimidation tactic, a declaration of war. It would bring nothing but trouble to display the flag of pirates so openly in such waters.
“Awesome, huh?” Jongdae says wistfully. There's another story there, another anecdote for Jongin to hear at a later date.
“Oi, you two!” Baekhyun’s shouting orders again, this time directed at Jongdae and Jongin, “Get down from there, you've got other things to do!”
“Aye, sir!” They reply in synch, righting themselves in preparation for their descent.
“You've got yourself a good man,” Jongdae’s comment is offhand, but he casts a curious gaze in Jongin’s direction. It's a terribly kept secret, what Baekhyun and Jongin do when the sun sets. Jongdae is the first person to assume so openly, “Don't break his heart.”
“If I break his heart, he'll kill me,” Jongin laughs, “Actually, he'll let Minseok kill me. That’s a far worse way to go.”
“I'll be the one killing you both if you don't hurry up!” Kyungsoo yells. He's steering the ship, positioned a little higher than the rest of the crew and evidently able to overhear their conversation, “We need to adjust the mainsail, and we can't do that while you're hanging from it!”
Jongdae offers a rude gesture before sliding down his rope, and Jongin follows suit.
Minus the gesture, of course. Kyungsoo is still terrifying.
“We're swapping rosters today,” Baekhyun addresses the crew. They've dropped anchor close to a set of uninhabited islands, pausing all duties in favour of a ship meeting. Minseok and Luhan are absent, having been sent ashore to look for supplies, and hidden storage facilities to plunder.
“Yes!” Chanyeol hollers excitedly, “No more Second Watch!”
Even Kyungsoo seems thrilled by the turn of events, patting Sehun excitedly on the shoulder as Baekhyun relays the news.
Jongin usually works the Second Watch with Chanyeol, working from dawn until early afternoon and awakening occasionally for dinner. They aid the Forenoon crew, currently consisting of Minseok and Luhan, until they retire to the sleeping quarters.
Forenoon and Afternoon workers have a harder job but more time to rest, as the ship sails mostly in daylight. The tasks are more taxing, and all shifts cross over for a few hours shy of dinner, all hands on deck to prepare the ship for night time sailing.
“Everyone will rotate as expected,” Baekhyun says, casting a glance at his wayward crew to ensure he holds their attention, “Except Jongin and I. We'll be taking the First Watch.”
The crew nods in agreement.
“I want us to make good time, try and get to port a few days earlier than planned,” Baekhyun continues. He has this habit of pacing as he talks, arms crossed behind his back and staring off into space, “We're all due for a little leisure, don't you think?”
“You just want to hole yourself away with Jongin for a week,” Sehun scoffs. The room stills. Baekhyun stops his pacing. Finally, the proverbial elephant in the room is being addressed. Jongin was scared that the crew would treat him differently. He's definitely on the end of some preferential treatment. It's not necessarily attention the crew wants for themselves, but it definitely means that Jongin is held in higher regards in the eyes of the captain.
Jealousy is an awful thing among sailors, countless mutinies spawned by misguided feelings of envy.
“Please don't fuck on the deck,” Junmyeon says, shaking his head in disgust, “I don't want to pick splinters from Jongin’s back.”
“Speaking from experience, are we?” Yixing replies. The navigator is full of surprises, often offering quips and gossip that Jongin never expects.
“I don't want to know,” Tao mutters, curling into Yifan’s side for comfort.
“Ever had that moment where things that didn't make sense before suddenly start to make sense?” Chanyeol adds, wringing his hands together nervously, “Because I just had that moment, and I'm not quite sure how to process it.”
Jongdae, usually the first person to join in on the teasing, remains suspiciously silent. Baekhyun catches Jongin’s eye and offers a wink.
“I don't know,” Jongin says slowly. He reads the room, trying to gauge the crew’s reaction before he continues, “I was hoping to be bent over the railings, not fucked on the deck.”
The change in mood is instantaneous; the crew roar with laughter, save for Chanyeol who promptly chokes on oxygen. Baekhyun smiles brightly at Jongin, both pleased with his comments and the reaction from the crew.
There's no malice, only lighthearted teasing. The crew sees Jongin no differently now that he's openly admitted to being the captain’s lover. In their eyes, he's the same man he was only minutes ago-- a new crewmate, still finding his feet and place on the ship.
It's the best reaction he could hope for.
The First Watch is by far Jongin’s favourite shift. He shares a small meal with Yifan and Yixing before he starts, the brief snack acting as his breakfast and their final meal of the day. They're joined by Baekhyun on occasion, Luhan when he can't sleep, and it's always a calm affair. Just a group of men bound by sea and service, taking a moment to enjoy each other's company.
There's no a lot to do. Mostly, he talks with Baekhyun, alters their course as needed. When Baekhyun sits in his quarters and maps their course, Jongin practices his tricks on the rope. He's getting good, perhaps even better than Jongdae.
The time alone with Baekhyun is wonderful. Though despite the crew’s teasing, it's rare for the two of them to go past the point of heavy petting whilst on shift.
Of course, Baekhyun bends Jongin over the railings as requested, sucks marks into the skin of his neck. Jongin inhales the ocean air, and kisses Baekhyun with the salt still on his lips.
“Hey,” Jongdae wanders onto the helm, blinking back sleep. He often joins Baekhyun and Jongin on First Watch, his sleep patterns disrupted. Jongdae is scheduled on for the second watch, his time on deck beginning as the sun rises above the horizon. Sometimes, sleep escapes him, so he chooses to aid Jongin in his tasks instead of listening to Chanyeol and Minseok attempt to out snore each other, “The view is much better from the forecastle.”
Baekhyun’s hands are on the wheel while Jongin’s hands rest on his waist. It’s their preferred position, one that allows them to keep in physical contact at all times whilst also doing their jobs. Every now and again, Baekhyun instructs Jongin, teaching him how to handle The Lady Luck as she glides through the waves, claiming that every crew member should have the ability to steer the ship. Just in case.
“Someone needs to man the wheel,” Baekhyun points out, leaning back into Jongin’s hold. They’re becoming more at ease when showing affection in front of the crew. Most of them find it hilarious; a feared pirate captain reacting like a lovesick teenager. They’re particularly relaxed around Jongdae, his frequent appearances during First Watch have him almost accustomed to the levels of intimacy they display, “And I am only one man.”
“I’ve manned the wheel before,” Jongdae rubs at his eyes tiredly, but his grin is bright, “I am more than capable of doing it again.”
“If you insist, Mister Kim,” Baekhyun replies sternly.
He takes Jongin by the hand, all but running towards the front of the ship. Jongdae is right, the view is stunning. From their vantage point, Jongin can see the stars, the moon, the vast stretch of ocean. It looks like a scene from a painting, one worth more money than Jongin could ever imagine. If Jongin could paint, he’d depict a scene such as this, then gift it to Baekhyun so that the sea could always be with him.
“Jongin,” Baekhyun says, breaking the silence. His thumb slides across Jongin’s knuckles, comforting and affectionate, “Look at me.”
The view is stunning but Baekhyun is breathtaking. As Jongin is kissed, soft and wet, he realises; he is so unbelievably lucky to have him.
“Captain!” Chanyeol is often heard before he is seen, and this is no exception. With clumsy hands he fumbles with the handle to Baekhyun’s quarters, cursing loudly as his fingertips slip from the polished metal, “Captain, we’ve caught sight of a ship.”
It's midway through the Second Watch, most likely during a tea break for the crew. Chanyeol is acting captain during this time, as both Baekhyun and Kyungsoo are asleep, having control over First Watch and the Afternoon shift respectively.
Only Baekhyun is not asleep.
Baekhyun is currently between Jongin’s legs, sighing dramatically into the skin of his thighs. They've wasted precious water for Jongin to clean himself in preparation for this, both he and Baekhyun impatient and eager to have tongues in places Chanyeol probably doesn't want to see.
“Baekhyun!” The handle rattles as it's turned, Chanyeol all but falling into the room, “Orders, sir?”
His sentence trails off.
Jongin covers his face in mortification.
Baekhyun simply lowers his head and resumes the task at hand.
“Do you have to?” Chanyeol groans. Jongin peeks through his fingers to see Chanyeol doing the same, “I don't want to see this.”
“I don't want you seeing this,” Baekhyun says simply. He says it, but continues anyway, making a show of the way he spreads Jongin’s cheeks and drags his tongue across his hole, “Yet here we are.”
“What's taking so long---”
Sehun joins the spectacle, gaping rather unattractively as he takes in the sight, “Well, I'll go keel haul myself,” He says. Through his fingers, Jongin can see the utter mortification on his face. Baekhyun simply pushes his tongue deeper, completely unphased by his audience, “The mental image is never going away.”
“There's a merchant ship ahead,” Chanyeol stutters out, hands still firmly across his eyes, “We want to know if we should make contact.”
Baekhyun sighs, the puff of air hits the saliva soaked skin of Jongin’s rim and causes him to shiver.
“Keep the distance for the time being,” Baekhyun says. He’s too busy speaking, so he uses his fingers to play with Jongin’s hole in the meantime, “Once I'm finished, we’ll raise the colours and engage.”
“How long are you gonna be?” Sehun enquires. Apart from the initial shock, he seems completely unbothered by what he sees, “Jongdae will need to adjust the mainsail, because we're gaining on them.”
“I'll take as long as I please,” Baekhyun says simply.
“You're insatiable,” Chanyeol replies, “Honestly.”
“So I've been told,” Baekhyun has a shark-like grin, too. Though while Kyungsoo’s grin makes Jongin shiver in fear, the same expression on the captain’s face makes him shiver for an entirely different reason.
Chanyeol replies, but Jongin doesn't hear it; not with the way he moans as Baekhyun’s finger pushes inside.
The door slams and Baekhyun laughs, sucking a mark into the skin of Jongin’s thigh.
“You're awful,” Jongin says, finally. He swats at Baekhyun’s arm half-heartedly, but curls his other hand through the captain’s hair, “Truly awful.”
“Pirate,” Baekhyun smirks, “You'll get used to it.”
They're greeted with wolf whistles as the emerge onto the deck, hastily clothed and bearing fresh hickies. The whole crew is present, armed and ready, though a few members still look a little sleepy.
“Alright,” Baekhyun’s voice booms. Jongin has never seen him in true captain mode, has yet to experience the Captain Byun everyone fears, “What have we got?”
“Merchant ship,” Kyungsoo replies. He stands at the rails, telescope pointed ahead and slightly to the right. There's a vaguely ship shaped blob nearing the horizon, but Jongin isn't sure if it’s blurry due to distance or his god awful eyesight. “No colours, but the design looks French.”
“Ready to translate?” Baekhyun addresses a sleepy looking Yifan.
“Always,” He says with a yawn, “I've taught Jongin a few phrases, so he should be able to join in with the threats.”
Jongin was under the assumption that he'll stay on the ship. Baekhyun obviously treasures him, would assumedly want to keep him from harm.
“Excellent,” Baekhyun says, “They'll be more cooperative if they're scared.”
“So I'm coming along for the raid?” Jongin asks, playing with the hem of his coat nervously, “I'm not staying here?”
“You're good with a blade, able bodied and capable of yelling at them in their language,” Baekhyun deadpans, “Of course you're coming along.”
“I wanna see Jongin fight using his rope tricks!” Tao exclaims, “Imagine the rumours they'll spread about him.”
“Can you do that?” Baekhyun addresses him. He doesn't speak to Jongin like a lover, not in times like this. It's a good thing, and Jongin respects him so much more for it. The crew too; they're completely devoted to Baekhyun, unrelentingly loyal and protective. No one has said anything, but the fact that Jongin’s preferential treatment doesn't make him a freeloader is greatly appreciated, “The more fear we can generate the easier our jobs become.”
“I'll try,” Jongin stutters nervously. Sure, he's sparred on the ropes a few times, but it's hardly been in life or death situations. The crew members have avoided cutting the rope from above his head, making sure their blades connect with his and nowhere else. Sailors defending their ship will not hold the same courtesy.
“Not good enough,” Baekhyun says calmly. He speaks to Jongin as he would speak to the rest of the crew, “You either can, or you cannot.”
“Then yes, I can do that,” Jongin replies. He's proven himself useful, what with his knowledge of the ship and willingness to aid the crew. But he's not yet proven himself worthy; if the crew so demands it, he could be left in Singapore when they make port, or simply thrown overboard to save them the trouble. Baekhyun’s feelings come second to the will of the crew and he knows it.
“And so a pirate is born,” Luhan sighs wistfully, darting across the deck with swords in his arms. He hands one to Jongin, before all but dancing in the direction of the rest of the crew.
“A truly beautiful moment,” Minseok follows, far less gracefully but still with an unsettling skip to his step. In his arms lies a pile of pistols, all contained within holsters. Each one is decorated and personalised; Jongin can tell which one is Chanyeol’s, purely because his name is etched into the dark leather.
Eventually, he'll have personalised weaponry of his own. The thought alone is enough to bring a smile to his face.
“Do me proud, Jongin,” Baekhyun says, resting a supportive hand on Jongin’s shoulder, “Do me proud.”
Kyungsoo’s knowledge of ship design is truly remarkable, Jongin notes. From such a large distance, he’s able to correctly identify a vessel’s country of origin. The French sailors are slightly less appreciative of his talents, however, the entire crew scrambling as they’re boarded.
Yifan sounds absolutely terrifying in every language he speaks, rapid-fire French spitting from his tongue and adding to the overwhelming nature of the situation. They’re but simple merchants, a group of traders who rarely have to fight for their lives. It’s exhilarating, exciting in ways the Navy never was. He repeats the phrases Yifan has taught him, adding his own comments of On the ground, before we kill you to his crewmate’s declaration of their identities.
“We are the crew of The Lady Luck,” Yifan says to the crew, “I’m sure we need no other introductions.
One of the Frenchmen speaks up, says things that Jongin doesn’t yet understand. Whatever it is makes Yifan laugh before his own response. Tao looks at Jongin questioningly, a silent request for a translation. Jongin shrugs his shoulders, the extent of his French already exhausted.
“Ask them if there’s anyone else on the ship,” Baekhyun says, pacing in front of the kneeling crew. There’s just over fifteen of them, but they keep squirming and shuffling about, so it’s hard for Jongin to take a proper head count.
Yifan relays the question, the man Jongin assumes to be the captain replying, rage and hatred filling his eyes.
Jongin’s crewmates take no notice of the loathing glares, carefully stepping around puddles of saliva as the French crew spit at them from the deck. It’s the only way they can accurately show their distaste for the pirates, anything else would result in a bullet to the head.
Their ship is filled with things to pillage, spices and cloth, a few pieces of jewelry here and there. Jongin, as requested, makes a show of climbing the ropes with grace and ease, jumping from the mainsail onto a connecting line and swinging himself onto the helm. The French crew put up too little of a fight, most of them already subdued by the time Jongin clamoured aboard their ship. But he’s been asked to make a spectacle with his aerial skills, and so he obliges.
“There’s a cabin boy!” Yifan yells. The crew nod in acknowledgment, “But he doesn’t care if we kill him.”
A pause, more French. Jongin picks up a few words, but it’s not enough to make sense of it all.
“Actually,” Yifan says, his voice dark and rather displeased, “He asks us to do him a favour and kill him anyway.”
“Find him!” Baekhyun barks, motioning for Chanyeol and Junmyeon to search the ship, “He’ll probably be hiding in the brig, you know how we were as cabin boys.”
“I never hid in the brig,” Jongdae says, rushing past Jongin with his arms loaded with stolen goods, “That was more Baekhyun’s thing.”
Jongin still needs to make an impression. He shrugs the jacket from his shoulders, balling the fabric around his hand. With the added padding, he slams his fist through the glass of the captain’s quarters, shattering the window and allowing him to unlock the door from the inside. He’s under the assumption that the captain of this vessel is the type of man who keeps the spoils for himself, living lavishly as his crew remains tired and hungry.
His assumptions are correct, as the quarters reveal to be filled with luxuries and art worth quite a pretty penny.
“Help me with this?” Jongin pops his head out through the doorway, motioning for Yixing and Kyungsoo to join him, “The captain is an art collector.”
They strip the ship almost bare, leaving only the smallest amount of food on board and taking the rest. The cargo hold and captain’s quarters are completely emptied, leaving nothing but the bed. Kyungsoo and Sehun argue for a good few minutes over the merits of bed theft, deciding at the last minute to leave it behind, solely because it’s far too big to fit anywhere on the ship.
Sehun does, however, take a blanket and a few pillows for himself, claiming their usefulness during the colder months.
“Found him!” Chanyeol yells, emerging from the brig with a struggling boy hoisted over his shoulder. He looks to be no older than fourteen, thin and malnourished. His clothes are in poor condition and Jongin can see splotches of red blooming along the back of his shirt.
Chanyeol would not have harmed the boy, not usually. And any wound created by Chanyeol would result in a tear or damage in clothing. The cabin boy’s injuries are preexisting. He slumps to the floor next to his crew, exhausted and terrified, the second Chanyeol removes him from his shoulder.
“Yifan,” Baekhyun motions towards the boy, “Tell him to remove his shirt.”
As he’s told, Yifan translates. Another member of the crew spits in Baekhyun’s direction, muttering darkly.
Yifan shoots him through the head. It happens so quickly that Jongin doesn’t even notice his weapon being drawn, only hears the crack! followed by a thump! as the crewmember’s lifeless body hits the deck.
“Ahh,” Baekhyun hums thoughtfully, tapping his pointer finger against his chin, “Now, I don’t speak French, but I can imagine what he said.”
“The usual,” Yifan replies with a shrug, “The rumors are true, you’re disgusting and so on.”
Baekhyun smiles. It visibly unsettles the crew, even more so than the dead body lying amongst their ranks.
“All hands!” He cries, and the pirates of The Lady Luck assemble.
Jongin hasn’t been briefed at all, but it’s easy to understand that he’s expected to stand behind the French crew. Beside him, Jongdae and Junmyeon have their pistols pointed at the heads of their captives. Jongin moves to do the same.
“You look more like an angel than a demon,” The man before him says. His hands are folded behind his head in surrender, he speaks Jongin’s native tongue, “Why does a messenger of God sail with the Devil’s crew?”
“What makes you think I'm an angel?” Jongin asks. His lips curl into a smirk, and he's inwardly delighted at the look of terror on his captive’s face. It's a rush of power, something almost addictive.
Yifan decides their interaction needs to be translated, informing the crew of the discussion happening within their midst.
“You are too beautiful to be a man,” The terrified sailor replies, almost shaking in his fear, “And too beautiful to be a demon.”
“Is he tempting you, sailor?” Jongdae sneers, grabbing a handful of the poor man’s hair and tilting his head backward, “Does he make you want to sin?”
“Yes!” The sailor cries. Though in desperation or pain, it's not quite evident, “Yes he does!”
Jongin’s crewmates laugh.
“Mine,” Baekhyun replies simply, before repeating the phrase in awkward French, “Sorry about that.”
“Um,” Chanyeol interrupts, pointing at the cabin boy sobbing quietly at his feet, “Sorry to interrupt, but what are we going to do about this?”
He nudges the boy with the toe of his boot. Jongin can clearly see the wounds on his bare back, deep and oozing with blood and pus. There's five of them, all of them relatively fresh.
Five lashes on a boy that size is practically an attempt on his life, Jongin notes. It's a cruel punishment, and on most ships the result of a ridiculously large mistake.
“You,” Baekhyun seethes, pointing his pistol at one of the Frenchmen, “Captain?”
It's a word everyone knows in their language, and it's obvious that the man understands as he nods just a second later.
His head barely straightens into position before there's a bullet through it, smoke rising from the barrel of Baekhyun’s pistol. His face is calm, passive as he re-holsters his weapon, clearly unbothered by the fact that he's just committed murder.
It's the first time Jongin’s seen his lover take a life, and he's slightly unnerved by the fact that he doesn't think any less of him for it. If anything, it's increased his affections. Jongin resists the urge to kiss the captain, just to see how their captives will react.
Baekhyun may be cruel, but the men he kills are often worse. A man who issues harsh punishment unto children is not a man worthy of life, Jongin believes. The condition of the poor cabin boy-- starving, beaten and mistreated--- must have struck a chord in the captain, dredging up painful memories and inciting his rage.
“Ask the boy who whipped him,” Baekhyun commands. Yifan translates obediently. Jongin’s arms ache as they're extended in front of him, but he watches with glee as one of the men under Sehun’s watch squirms nervously.
As expected, the boy extends a shaking finger in the crewmember's direction. Sehun smirks, before pulling the trigger.
“Goddamn it,” Baekhyun curses, “I wanted to chew him out before you killed him.”
“Whoops,” Sehun looks entirely unapologetic.
“Why don't I get to shoot anyone,” Luhan whines, stomping his feet, “It's always Sehun.”
“I think we're done here,” Baekhyun cuts Luhan off before he launches into a tirade. Yifan dutifully echoes his words in French, “On your knees until we're out of sight, if you follow us we kill you all.”
Baekhyun waves his hand flippantly, “I’m sure you’re aware that we've shown both mercy and restraint,” He continues, pacing, “We will not be so kind the second time around.”
The sailors nod in understanding.
“Well gentlemen, it's been an absolute pleasure,” Baekhyun bows mockingly, gesturing for his crew to return to The Lady Luck, “Your cooperation has been greatly appreciated.”
A quiet murmur of conversation arises as they make their way towards the ship. Jongin has done well, he thinks, or well enough given the circumstances. He’ll at least have another opportunity to prove himself the next time they confront a ship, perhaps one filled with sailors more skilled and willing to fight.
“Filth,” One of the crew mutters. It’s not the man enamoured with Jongin, but another who speaks. It’s surprising, for no one else showed any understanding of Jongin’s crew as they bickered in their native tongue, “You sail under an abomination, your captain’s existence is an insult to God.”
The man charges, unarmed and blinded by fury. Jongin understands, to a degree. If a group of men walked onto his ship, stole their belongings and killed members of the crew, he’d be angry too. But what Jongin cannot comprehend, is the issue this man has with the captain, has with him.
It’s entirely on reflex that Jongin draws his sword, entirely on happenstance that he’s the first pirate the sailor meets. He rants and raves, slings insults at Baekhyun, curses him to the depths of hell. Without thought, Jongin swings his blade, the metal slicing through skin and bone. In one swoop, his head flies clean from his shoulders, severed by the force of Jongin’s attack.
The ship is silenced. Wordlessly, Jongin takes the head of the fallen sailor, blood from the wound dripping onto his shoes and pooling around his feet.
“Anyone else got a problem?” He asks. Yifan doesn’t bother with the translation, as Jongin’s stance, the look of pure rage on his face, speaks for him. Silence greets him, “That’s what I thought.”
He resists the urge to smile, summoning an air of nonchalance about himself. He throws the head overboard, sauntering back towards the ship without a care.
“You did good, kid,” Kyungsoo says, smile a little less unsettling than normal. He extends a hand, helping Jongin back onto The Lady Luck. There’s a commotion on board the French ship, two members of the crew lifting the lifeless body up and over the railings. From the corner of his eye, Jongin sees the man who called him an angel help the struggling cabin boy to his feet, “We’ll make a pirate out of you, yet.”
“He cut a man’s head off,” Yixing points out, follows Jongin over the rails. Kyungsoo doesn’t offer to help at all, “That’s the most pirate-y thing I’ve seen all day, and we just robbed a ship.”
“Jongin hasn’t had his initiation,” Tao points out, “No pirate title until we see him lose to Minseok in a drinking competition.”
“It’s a rite of passage,” Sehun adds, “Everyone’s gotta do it.”
The rest of them murmur in agreement.
There’s no time to revel in their spoils, as there’s no guarantee that the merchant ship won't attempt to follow after them. The crew will be in shock, without a doubt, but by the time they recover, The Lady Luck will be long gone.
Coarse ropes slide through Jongin’s hands; they’re calloused and worn, and the burn doesn’t sting like it used to. His crewmates sing as they work, Jongin joins them in places, still learning the lyrics of pirate shanties. From his place at the wheel, Baekhyun leads them; both in song and as captain, his voice ringing loudly over the crew.
Their gazes meet and Baekhyun offers a smile.
Jongin used to think he was unlucky. But every misfortune he’s ever experienced was just leading him here, to this moment. It wasn’t so much bad luck, but the intervention of fate; on board the ship, in the captain’s bed. That’s where Jongin belongs.
He’s hardly unlucky, in fact, he might just be the luckiest man in the world.
“Best be careful,” An old man joins Jongin at his table, sipping thoughtfully at his mug of ale. The Singaporean tavern is as loud and lively as Jongin remembers, filled with yells and cheers, music and chatter, “I’ve heard The Lady Luck has been spotted in these waters.”
“I’ll keep an eye out,” Jongin replies. He tries to keep the smile from his face and his expression schooled into nonchalance. He’s not quite sure how successful he’s being, but the elderly sailor is most likely too drunk to notice, “Thanks for the warning.”
“You talking about The Lady Luck?” Another sailor joins them. He’s a little younger, dressed a little nicer. Behind him trails a teenager, sixteen at most. Probably the cabin boy from the newcomer’s ship, “Because I’ve heard a few things.”
“We’ve all heard a few things,” The old sailor says, downing his ale, “Big ol’ ship filled with demons and all that.”
“You know what I’ve heard,” The younger man continues, ignoring his elder in favour of addressing Jongin, “They say the demon crew has a new member.”
“Now this I haven’t heard,” Mutters the old man, waving down a barmaid and ordering a drink. Jongin recognises her as one of their informants, and Luhan’s date for the evening. She winks at Jongin goodnaturedly, skipping away to retrieve his companion’s order, “C’mon, tell us. What do you know?”
“They say,” The young sailor says, leaning forward and pausing in order to create tension, “They say he’s fresh out of hell and craving human blood. There’s not much to say about him, apparently, because not many of his victims ever live to tell the tale.”
“I’ve heard differently,” Baekhyun appears behind them, swinging an arm around Jongin’s shoulder. To anyone else, it looks like a friendly gesture, but he plays with the hair at Jongin’s nape in a manner that’s not at all platonic. The old and young sailors pay his actions no mind, but the cabin boy looks at Jongin with understanding, “I’ve heard he’s an angel, tempted from heaven by the devil himself.”
“The captain,” Their companions muse in unison.
“The captain,” Baekhyun confirms. They’re on shore leave but still working, to a degree. Notoriety makes their job a whole lot easier, and so Baekhyun and the crew make sure to spread as much gossip about themselves as physically possible.
Jongin’s reputation as an angel is somewhat of an in-joke. Following Jongin’s admirer on board the French vessel, Baekhyun is the only one to call him by name, the rest calling him “Angel” instead. The decision to portray him as a celestial being a unanimous decision of the crew, much to Jongin’s chargin. Even Luhan, still desperate for a reputation of his own, gleefully spreads the misinformation to anyone who listens.
“But why would an angel fall for the devil?” The cabin boy speaks for the first time. The way he smiles causes Jongin to believe he's seen right through them, can guess that they tell their own story. Then again, he could just be paranoid, “Aren't angels pure and good?”
“Angels are beings of love and protection,” Baekhyun continues, unbothered that their story is being questioned. It's not often that sailors show disbelief in regards to tales such these, lapping up every detail eagerly and without a doubt, “So this angel fell in love, and now protects the captain with his life.”
“He,” The young sailor mutters, “So those rumours are true as well?”
“Without a doubt,” Baekhyun nods solemnly, “A friend of a friend had the unfortunate luck of running into Captain Byun and his crew, and apparently the angel is so beautiful he can tempt righteous men from their paths.”
“The power of God harnessed by the Devil,” Jongin recites his lines, trying not to wince at the cheesy dialogue, “Truly, the captain holds incredible power.”
“Does the angel have a name?” The cabin boy asks, eyes dancing in mischief. So not paranoia, then, Jongin realises. A teenager has seen through their story so easily.
“No idea,” Baekhyun says, waving his hand airily to dismiss the question, “But I've heard he kills in the name of the captain, so most people tend to call him The Angel of Death.”
“I hope I never run into him,” The old sailor shudders. At least their story is believable to one person at the table. With any luck, he'll be the one person to spread their carefully spun tale, “A fallen angel sounds far more terrifying than a devil.”
“What's more,” Baekhyun says, voice filled with anticipation, “I hear he's the only being to have the captain's initials carved onto his chest and survived.”
Baekhyun plays with the fabric of Jongin’s shirt, right over his heart. The skin underneath still itches something awful, the tattoo on his chest still healing. After befriending some lovely Islanders, the entire crew left their hospitality bearing some sort of intricate mark on their person. Jongin and Baekhyun have matching designs, completed during a ritual not unlike marriage. The thought brings a smile to his face, small and unbidden.
The cabin boy smirks. Jongin internally reminds himself to ask Baekhyun if they're in need of a new kitchenhand, because he's pretty sure he's found the perfect candidate for the job.
“What's your name, kid?” Jongin asks, peering at the cabin boy curiously.
“Taeyong,” He replies simply, offering his hand to shake, “Anyway, this angel,” His fingers curl into quotation marks, “Do you think he regrets it? You know, falling from grace and loving a demon?”
“No,” Jongin answers sincerely, “If he fell, he wasn't destined for heaven, anyway.”
“Besides,” Baekhyun adds, slowly picking up on the situation. Their companions grow bored of Taeyong’s unusual line of questioning, focusing their attention on the barmaids instead, “He's got a fantastic lover, if you know what I mean.”
Taeyong’s nose wrinkles slightly, not at all unlike Chanyeol’s whenever they show too much affection in front of the crew. He'll fit right in.
“He fell from grace and into the arms of a demon,” Jongin says, “And he doesn't regret a thing.”
The share a smile, small and secret. Baekhyun glances around the room, making sure the patron’s attentions lie elsewhere, before pressing a kiss to Jongin’s mouth.
Somewhere in the background, Taeyong whispers something to the effect of I knew it, grumbling quietly to himself about pirates and their stories.
Jongin doesn't notice, he's enthralled by Baekhyun to care; his captain, his lover, the man he'll serve as long as he shall live.