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An English Rose In December

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Preface

The year is 1715 and the pirates in New Providence, who’ve grown stronger than ever before, but not strong enough to defeat England, Spain and France, have their own society with their own laws since many years. Before that, long years of skirmish and greater battles with terrible losses for both sides, before England offered the treaty of peace. The pirates will all be pardoned and live as free men, but the pirates have their own demands. In order to honour the peace and leave piracy behind, the following terms have been made considering the controversial relationships in the pirate society:

1.) Neither gender, colour or place of birth will be of any consequence and the only slaves to be allowed are prisoners of war or people in debts who can’t afford to pay. The latters can be kept as slaves until the debt has been repaid.
2.) Matelotages between two men or two woman are to be sees as equal to a marriage in legal terms, as long as the contrac clearly defines wich one in the matelotage who will be the head of the house. The man or woman in charge is to be known as outdoor spouse, and the man or woman taking the submissive role, is referred to as indoor spouse.
3.) The woman in a marriage or the indoor spouse in a male or female matelotage holds no civil rights and is considered the outdoor spouses property. They can’t owe property, can’t file for divorce, can’t be seen outside without their indoor spouse collar and are to obey their outdoor spouse in everything. If they fail to obey, it is the outdoor spouse’s duty to punish their disobedient spouse in order to maintain control.
4.) An indoor spouse who brings shame over her- or himself, the outdoor spouse or their home, will have consequenses for their outdoor spouses role and status in society. In return for the obedience, the outdoor spouse must provide his or her indoor spouse with shelter and protection.
5.) The outdoor spouse cannot take part in any housework, for that will bring him or her down to the indoor spouse level. Exceptions will be made in case of illness or other matters that clearly prevent the spouse to maintain his or her duties. Should the indoor spouse fail to follow the rules or in other ways not be able to live up to an acceptable standard, the outdoor spouse can file for divorce and sell his or her indoor spouse to another buyer, but for a lower price than he or she was first bought.
6.) Should the outdoor spouse pass away before his or her indoor spouse, the law states that the ownership will pass to the closest relative or friend, according to a contract signed and witnessed by the outdoor spouse and the man or woman in question.
7.) Free men and women who hold a public office or have a business of their own, must marry within a year from the opening of their business or acceptance of the public office, in order to keep their status as free citizens. Otherwise, their means will go to the state and they have to close their business. This because it is the firm belief that a society run by bachelors will lead to the ruin of civilization.  

It has now been ten years since the bargain was struck and the life in New Providence goes on in relative peace with the civilised world. The peace treaty is still controversial, not the least to the Christians in Europe, but the man currently being the governor over Nassau, Woodes Rogers, is not a religious man and sees the benefits with the treaty. So do the former pirates, who now can enjoy a life free from the account, generous trading deals and keep their matelotages.

To this controversial but still legitimized society, Captain James Flint, a citizen who for various reasons have been away and have had an exemption from marriage/matelotage, returns after some time away. The law, how ever, states that now as he has returned, he has to get married. Captain Flint has no desire what so ever to enter a relationship, and is all but happy when he finds out an indoor spouse to be with curly hair will arrive from England.

 ***


ChapterOne


”The mistress has sold you.”

He wasn’t sure if he’d heard correctly, not that it mattered. Standing on his knees on the cushion in the master bedroom, head bobbing in a steady rythm with the hard, slim fingers digged into his curls didn’t leave any room for an answer, even if he’d been entitled to an opinion. The broad, meaty member that was shoved down his throat tasted from sweat and lack of soap, but John knew how to keep his opinions and disgust to himself. After all, that was aquired from a house slave who tended to his masters most intimate needs.

Master Ashe came in his throat with a loud groan, scraping his sharp nails deeper in John’s scalp before pushing him away.

”This is the one thing that made us keep you for this long. Wasn’t it for the way your dirty mouth is working, I would’ve had your tongue cut off a long time ago. You can leave now. The mistress wants you to be groomed before they come for you. Tell Mrs. Hudson I’m done with you.”

He knew it was pointless asking questions. He just rose from the floor, bowed to his master and walked backwards out from the master bedroom. The big corridor on second floor, still looked as impressive as it had five years ago, when he first arrived. No, not arrived, John corrected himself as he hurried back to the slave quarters. Slaves didn’t arrive or leave. They were fetched and delivered and shouldn’t ask questions. And in all his twentynine years, John Silver had been really bad at one thing: not asking questions.

He quickly walked the corridor, keeping closely to the right side, not to be in the way for any member of the house or house slave, who could pass with their scrubbers and buckets. The whole house hade been upside down for the last two days, preparing for the Ashes only daughter, miss Abigail, who would come home after having spent two years in Paris, studying arts. John hadn’t been the only one missing her. Unlike her parents, she was anything but snobbish or cruel and she always had a smile and a friendly word or two to give to anyone she met. He would miss her.

Mrs. Hudson on the other hand, an old friend of the Ashe family who’d worked for their close friend Woodes Rogers for many years and was back in London to visit them, was a person John wished he’d never see again. She was a quiet woman with sharp eyes and an even sharper tongue, always willing to tell John about his faults in detail, preferably in front of other slaves or servants. The slave who was set to suck the masters cock, lick the mistress’ cunt and doing all the dirty laundry alone, didn’t stand very high in regard. And now, after five years, he’d been sold again to someone he didn’t have the right to ask who it was.

Mrs. Hudson was, as always in this time of the afternoon, sitting with her embroydery in the salon. The needle flashed in the sunlight fallen from the autumn sky through the big windows as the pale madame created yet another of her perpetual roses on the linen fabric. When John appeared in the doorway, making a bow, she didn’t even look up.

”Your master sent you?”
”Yes, madame. He told me to say he was done with me.”

Her pale, heartshaped face finally looked up from the only roses left to enjoy this late in October and she fixed her brown, cold eyes onto him.

”Pretty little fool… You have no idea, have you?”
”About what, madame?”
”Oh, nevermind.”

She put her embroydery down and rose, straightened out her dress and walked straight at him, taking his chin in a hand that was softer than John had imagined.

”Not that I understand why something as vile as this is permitted, or why anyone but an ungodly savage would tolerate such a crime against God and nature, but as dear papa used to say: peace and prosperity never comes without a price… Well, we’ll see how much a little beauty like you could bring your lords precious coffers. Follow me.”

Lord Ashe’s house was one of the biggest and ugliest in London. Not that John had actually seen any other London house from the inside than his master’s, but he was quite certain other lords couldn’t have this bad taste in furniture and colours. Everything was grand and ponderous, from the heavy drapes in the hallways and the big grandfather clocks, to the amount of busts from the Ashe family tree spread out in the corridors to the dining room and guest rooms.

The Ashe family was wealthy, but their fortune wasn’t entirely inherited and as Lord Peter Ashe was fully aware of that, he’d become a more or less unscrupulous man when it came to protect and polish his family name. For some reason John, one the most insignificant slaves, now had became another tool to make the Ashe name shine a little brighter. Mrs. Hudson opened the door leading to the room where the seemstress who’d made miss Abigail’s clothes to her journey to Paris, had had her working place. Miss Potter, a crafty woman with rosy cheeks and a starched white cap on her head was back, as if she’d never left, but there were no fabrics for fine ladies spread on the working table now.

”Oh, come in boy, I aint got the whole day. There, take your clothes off.”

John flushed.

”Sorry? Here?”
”Yes, little fool. Right here. You aint got nothing I haven’t seen before.”

She was right. Everyone in this house except for miss Abigail had seen the lowest of the slaves naked on more than one occaision. John undressed, trying not to think about Mrs. Hudson’s looks and Miss Potter’s grunts as she took his measures.

”Did the lord ask for any specific colours or fabrics?”
”Only that it should be fit for a noble captain on his most important day.”

The two women laughed and John decided it was safest not to ask who this captain was and why a simple house slave had to be fit for him, dressed in fine linen and silk. Besides, if they were going to tell him, they’d already done it by now. John may not know what they were laughing at, but he sure as hell knew when a question would provide him with a slap for an answer.

Miss Potters’ hands took his measures, wringing him this way and that way, while humming to herself. When she was done, she grabbed John’s cock and he gasped.

”Maybe we should measure this one too, Margaret? You think it’s the right size?”
”Let the captain be the judge of that. And besides, I think he’s more interested in depth than girth.”

Another laugh that made John’s naked spine curl with discomfort, was heard from the harsh seamstress and she pinched his buttock.

”There, there, little pup. Don’t look so sad. We’re just joking and I’m sure your new husband will be pleased with a pretty little thing like you.”
”Hu… Husband?”
”Yes, my pup. You see, I always assumed the master had his reasons why he let you stay this long, despite your lack of manners and noticable skills, but lets face it, dear, a pretty face doesn’t last. And untouched… I mean, not that I understand this… thing, but our masters patience seems to have paid off.”

Mrs. Hudson chuckled.

”It is almost too good to be true, isn’t it, Miss Potter.”
”Well, I aint surprised, Mrs. Hudson. Lord Ashe has always been a man of the future and if he’s made a way to maintain some order among the savages for the price of a pretty face and dashing curls, I aint one to start preaching.”

John’s confusion only increased and he looked at the thin lady in green satin, eyes begging for an answer. She just sighed and gave him an almost friendly smile before stroking his cheek.

”You’re to get married, little pup. Tomorrow, you will be taken to a ship that will take us to New Providence. Don’t worry, I will come with you as your company, since my dear husband is living in Port Royal at the moment.”
”I’m… I’m going to Port Royal, madame?”
”Oh no. You’re going to Tortuga, where a certain Woodes Rogers will take care of you.”

Husband? Port Royal? Woodes Rogers? The room with fabrics, cotton reels and scissors spinned around John’s head and he starred at the two women, who seemed to enjoy this. Mrs. Hudson’s smile disappeared and she looked at him with steel in the eyes.

”There is a thing called matelotage, a sort of marriage like contract among former pirates in the Caribbean. Well, good christians would of course never consider an abomination like that legal in any way, but sometimes smaller sins must be overlooked in order to wipe out bigger ones. Do you know that our government recently struck a bargain of peace with the pirates?”

John nodded. Everybody, from the highest nobles down to the skivvie maids, had heard about the treaty with the pirate fleet of Nassau and the stalemate that forced both pirates and the navy to negotiate. After weeks of threats, discussions and clerks tearing their hair while preaching about the sins of sodomy, the English government found that they simply couldn’t afford an extension of an already costly war. As the only islands in the civilised world, New Providence and Tortuga were allowed to keep their mockery image of marriage called matelotage, under one condition: two men or two women were allowed to live together as spouses, on condition that one in the relationship was utterly and completely submissive. In other words: a slave.

John hadn’t put much thoughts in it. As a house slave in London, this didn’t concern him at all and no one would answer any questions from the lowest of servants anyway. Mrs. Hudson hold up a white linen fabric before him.

”Yes, this will do fine… You see, one of the most feared, barbaric among the sea captains in New Providence, has decided to settle in Nassau and he needs a spouse.”
”Not that he actually wants one.”

Miss Potter let out another devilish laughter.

”The governor has tried to get that old goat marry someone for years and then he said he’d get marry only of the governor could give him a man with dark, curly hair, blue eyes and all teeth still healthy, from London.”
”I bet he thought it was an impossible task.”
”Well I bet he’s sorry for not asking for a girl now!”

A slap on his ass made John jump and Miss Potter hold out her measure stick.

”Remember, pretty boy, that the laws in Nassau may not be as generous to an indoor husband, their vile term for a male housewife, as the ones in London are for proper wives, but I can assure you that you’ll long for your husband in that savage province, if you do anything that will compromise this bargain. You understand?”

No, he didn’t. Nothing made sense, nothing what so ever, but he nodded. And all he could think was if miss Abigail had known of this, she’d speak against it. John wasn’t entitled to any feelings, wishes or desires. He was a slave, a thing to be bought and sold, now being pimped to satisfy an ungodly need with an ungodly man living hundreds of miles from English soil to keep a fragile peace union intact. The world didn’t make any sense, but on the other side, it was long since John Silver had expected anything in the world to work in his favour.

TBC

Chapter Text

”I’m not doing it!”
”Oh, for God’s sake, James, not here! Get inside and close the fucking gate!”

Captain James Flint was a man close to his forties with hard, green eyes, a neat reddish beard and just as flaming hair in a small tail in the neck. Billy Bones had always thought the man looked strangely neat considering how long time he’d spent at sea and the last six months hadn’t changed that. The just as skilled as feared captain had left his duties at sea about three years ago to work in the Nassau chamber of commerce as a commisioner, taking care of the developing trade in more distant islands. Now he’d been back at sea long enough, travelling between the commerce stations for half a year, seemingly happy with the open sea and not very happy to trade that for a seat at the governors council.

Billy Bones, who’d sailed with James Flint as his bosun and later quartermaster until he got married and went on reparing and building ships, knew better than most people how unwilling James Flint was to the prospect of marriage, but the middle of a street in broad daylight wasn’t the best place for a feared captain to throw a tantrum. He opened the gate in the short wall surrounding his house and practically forced the man into the garden.

”Get inside. I’m sure Ben could give you something to ease your nerves.”
”I seriously doubt that.”
”Just as grumpy as three years ago, James...”
”You haven’t changed either, Billy.”

The angry captain threw a displeased look at the tall, brawny man with short, dark blonde hair and blue eyes. Billy Bones snorted.

”Yeah? Well, that’s promising for you.”
”How so?”

Billy opened the front door and bid his old friend to enter. A sound of water being poured into something could be heard from the kitchen and suddenly, a man with blonde hair down to his shoulders, appeared in the hallway.

”Welcome home, husband!”
”Thank you, dear. Ben, this is my friend and former captain, James Flint. James, this is my husband, Ben Gunn.”

The ginger captain took the blonde, blue eyed man’s hand.

”Pleased to meet you, Mr. Gunn.”
”A pleasure to meet you too, Captain Flint. Can I offer you a drink?”
”You happen to have any poison, Mr. Gunn?”
”Excuse me?”

Billy smiled and rolled his eyes.

”Flint is known for his melodrama, husband. Nothing that some of you red wine can’t remedy, I’m sure.”

Ben made a curtious little bow and disappeared to the kitchen. James looked at Billy with questioning eyes. Billy shook his head and lead the captain to a neat and cosy little salon with high armchairs and a sofa with cushions, a small teak table, a bookshelf with some books and a small liquor cabinet. Billy invited James to sit and moments later, Ben showed up with two crystal wine cups on a tray he put on the table. Then he opened the liquor cabinet, looked over the shelves and took out a bottle with a blood red content. He filled two cups and offered first James and then his husband, before leaving. Billy lifted his glass in a toast.

”To your return, old friend.”
”And my forthcoming funeral.”

Billy chuckled.

”It’s marriage, James, and you knew as well as me you had it coming. If you’re really lucky, you may end up with a decent cook.”
”Oh, shut up, Billy. We all know you have the most perfect indoor spouse in the entire New Providence, you don’t have to rub it in.”
”I’m just saying, you shouldn’t think of suicide before you know your bride or groom to be.”
”Groom.”
”Well, that’s a good thing, at least. Think of poor Muldoon who ended up with a woman and now they’re both horny and unhappy.”
”Thank you for raising spirits, Bones.”
”What do you know about him?”

James sighed and scratched his beard.

”That he’s twelve years younger than me, only twentyseven, and property of Peter Ashe.”
”Peter Ashe? Fuck…”

James made a displeased nod.

”It’s getting even better. He actually has black curls and blue eyes… and he’s not born in England.”
”Damn… For a while I actually thought you’d have a loop hole, but it seems like you’re fucked, my friend.”

Billy shook his head. In order to, as Billy suspected, prolong the unwanted marriage state, James had gone a bit further than other men in his demands on his future spouse. He wanted a man with black, naturally curly hair and blue eyes who couldn’t be born on English soil. The governor had, of course, been furious but he couldn’t do anything but swallow the anger and start looking.

James Flint had been one of few legal bachelors and bachelorettes in Nassau, and the subject of both amusement and envy among many married citizens. But now his luck was ended. Not that Billy Bones belonged to the citizens who disliked being married, but his old captain wasn’t the type. Billy decided trying to cheer him up.

”You know, it’s not inevitable to be a disaster.”
”No? Easy for you to say. You’ve always had a good hand with people. Me, on the other hand…”

He had a point. James Flint had lived in Nassau for ten years and never been one to show interest of that sort to anyone. Rumors said he’d had a lover, possibly even a wife, back in England a long time ago, but no one knew for sure and no one dared to ask. In New Providence, he was known for his skills in trading and diplomacy, being one of the leading men in turning illegal pirates into law obiding citizens and making the commerce grow in way not even the most conservative members of London society could fault him for.

Billy Bones, Max Marliot and Anne Bonny were all members of the town council and all of them, alongside James Flint, the reason why matelotages were considered equal to marriage between men and women. The long and gruesome fight against the old pirate community in New Providence had, after the English as well as France and Spain suffered terrible losses in both money and deaths after a number of battles and attacks from the vicious men and women in Nassau, Tortuga and Port Royal, admit themselves defeated and asked for negotiations.

After many months of talks – and screams of agony back in England, Spain and France – the governor in Nassau, Woodes Rogers, declared that marriages between two men or two women were considered equal to marriages between men and women, under one condition. Since the nature of marriage stated the man to be the head of the relationship, two partners in a matelotages couldn’t be equal. One had to take the traditional femal role, with practically no rights, and any signs of breaking this nature law, would lead to hard punishments.

This was in no way what the former pirates had have in mind, but the ten years that had went since the deal was strucked, there was no sign of any malcontent in the population of Nassau. The ”New Providence Marriages” were, in fact, something that had wiped away the threat of piracy, made the commerce grow and gave the rulers in Europe a respite in the endless years of unsuccessful wars in the Caribbean.

The only ones left to nag about this, apart from the clerks, were slave traders who were highly disappointed about the fact that free men and women in New Providence, didn’t have to be white, which made their trade less profitable – and much more dangerous, since they couldn’t just capture any man or woman of colour and assume they could be someone to sell. The governor of Nassau, Woodes Rogers, was however a practical man who looked at profit and stability first and whiny slave traders next, so they had little to do about it but curse in secret or switch trade.

In fact, Woodes Rogers was the man James Flint had reason to curse now. The governor of Nassau kept watch over the society, making sure no free man or woman didn’t fulfil their duties and now, that smug bastard had found a way to undone James’ clever loophole. The ginger sighed.

”I’m not the marrying kind, Billy…”
”I wasn’t either. You learn as you go, James.”
”Any more helpful advices?

Billy stayed silent for a while, as if he was mincing the words.

”Be patient. This man, he’s coming over from London?”
”Next week.”
”Well, then he has most likely never seen anything like this place before, he’s probably shit scared and has no idea what to expect since this is considered a crime in England. And, of course, he’s a slave, so he’ll do whatever you tell him to.”
”It’s disgusting.”

Billy looked a little irritated, as if James was stating the obvious.

”I didn’t say you had to make him feel like a slave, James, only what he’s expected to be treated. It’s the same for Ben. I make the decisions and he obeys. That’s how it works, but it doesn’t mean one has to be cruel.”
”Only an asshole.”
”If I were you, I wouldn’t judge the married person here, when you have no experience of the matter at all, old friend. Do you want advice and help, or being left on your own?”
”Guess some advices would be good…”
”Then stop fucking whining and listen to them. You want more wine?”

James looked at his empty glass. The brew had slipped down almost a little too fast and he nodded.

”Please. That wine was delicious.”

Billy grinned as he refilled their glasses.

”Told you it’s not so bad to be married.”

TBC

Chapter Text

John took a last look in the mirror. The man starring back at him was pretty, he could admit that. A cascade of dark curls down to his shoulders, a string of pearly white teeth in his smile. Lips soft, slightly wet from the balm and the eyelashes lowering themselves over blue eyes, made him look both virginal and tempting at the same time. He wore a new, white shirt, a blue jacket and dark brown trousers. The first new clothes he’d ever wore on his slight, not thirty years old body. Mrs. Hudson nodded.

”There, that’ll do. We’ll have to pinch those cheeks before the ceremony, thou. You’re pale as a sheet.”

She was right. The long journey across the sea had taken it’s toll on him. He’d never been at sea before and the first days he’d been so sea sick he thought he’d die. And he’d wished for it. The last days before the journey, John had done his best not to think about what was laying ahead. It was all too confusing and scaring, and any thoughts of running away were wiped out by the rigorous watch over his every step.

John had never experienced the tropical sun before and to his great surprise, it didn’t burn him red like some of the seamen on the ship. Instead, his skin became a bit brown and if it hadn’t been for the visible fear in the blue eyes he’d looked very healthy.

They’d been anchored in Port Royal for a day, in order for captain Teach to hand over some of his cargo, including John, to Woodes Rogers, a man who only looked briefly at John before handing him back to Mrs. Hudson. Despite John’s feelings for the woman and her mean comments about him, he was grateful for her company, the only piece of familiarity left for him in this strange, unknown and utterly terrifying situation. Mrs. Hudson lifted his hands and inspected his nails.

”Neat and clean. Well, we made a bride of you after all, John Silver.”

Her tone was partly amused, partly disgusted, but John didn’t get any chance to talk to her before the door opened and Captain Teach came in.

”Is he ready?”
”Yes, captain.”
”Good. Follow me then, Mr. Silver.”

A small rowboat took John, Mrs. Hudson and the captain ashore. It was late in the afternoon and the Caribbean sun was lowering over the strange city called Port Royal where, in the port, yet another unfamiliar man waited to take John to his husband. The sun was still glittering over the blue water, the white sand on the beach looked pure as new snow back in England and the air was filled with exotic sounds and scents entirely new to John’s senses.

The port was filled with tanned men in the most shifting clothes John had ever seen before. There were pale man, most certainly from Europe, and men as black as ink, many of them without collars or chains and, which was even more confusing, women walking by themselves unchaperoned by men. Captain Teach noticed Johns’ gaping and snickered.

”A sight to be seen, isn’t it, Mr. Silver? The climate isn’t the only change from England, I’ll tell you that.”

John only looked at him quickly before lowering his gaze. He felt sick, confused and unsteady from the sudden changes and the biggest one wasn’t even presented to him yet. The thought of what lied ahead made his stomach flip and he leaned over the boat and puked.

”At least try not to ruin your clothes, John. I don’t think your husband will be very pleased to have you delivered, reeking like a drunk.”

Captain Teach looked amused.

”Captain Flint has seen his fair share of sea sickness, Mrs. Hudson. I doubt he’ll fault his blushing groom to be for having a gippy tummy. How are you feeling, Mr. Silver?”

John tried to breathe calmly and avoid another vomit.

”I… I’m a little better now thank you, Captain.”
”Don’t worry, Mr. Silver. You’ll get a little time to fresh up before Captain Flint comes for you. And it’s a fine surrounding for a wedding, don’t you agree?”

It was. For any wedding than this. For a brief moment, John considered to jump overboard, but unfortunately he could swim and wouldn’t drown even if he tried to. The port came closer for every row and soon he was leaving the rowboat and tried to get used to solid earth under his feet again. John had never really imagined a land being this hot and bright in December.

”Captain Teach! Welcome back.”
”Thank you, Mr. Scott. Tell me, where is the governor?”
”Oh, he’s waiting for you, Captain. Is this the… cargo?”

The man speaking to the captain was black as night and, to John’s great surprise, not in chains. He’d not seen a black person this close before and he seemed just as human as a white man. Mrs. Hudson pinched John’s arm.

”Stop gaping, boy, or you’ll catch a fly. I told you things are different here, so you’ll better get used to it.”

The black man smiled at John.

”Good evening, Mr. Silver and allow me to congratulate you.”
”Th-thank you, sir, but… to what?”

The black man laughed as if he’d heard a good joke.

”Marriage has shaken the bravest among men in their boots, Mr. Silver, but I’m sure Captain Flint will be happy with a groom as healthy looking as you. Don’t let the sea sickness fool you, Captain Teach. Mr. Silver here will grow into his boots just fine.”

John blushed from the comment and Captain Teach snickered.

”An English rose in December, indeed… Well, if you think you have your guts in control now, boy, we should get moving. The governor is waiting.”

To maintain any kind of dignity proved to be a difficult task. All the different smells from spices, foods and more or less flithy people, alongside with the completely different nature around him, made John’s head spin and he knew he most likely looked like a gaping fool. A carry – John was actually surprised they had carries in this strange land – waited for them a bit from the port and John sighed from relief when the door was shut and closed this strange new world out.

”How are you feeling, my pup?”
”A bit unsteady, ma’m.”
”It’ll pass soon. Tell me, Captain, will there be a quarter provided for me at the governors home as promised?”
”Certainly, madame. You must be tired after such a long journey.”

John hardly listened as the older man and women engaged in a conversation about living standards in England and New Providence, and no one expected him to join in anyway. As soon as he’d sat down in the carriage, he’d had a chain around his wrist, as if he had any place to run – or the strenght to run at this moment.

Lord and lady Ashe, London and the other servants seemed like a lost world now, after his long weeks at sea and this new world, so utterly different from anything he was used to, felt like a strange, feverish dream. All of it wasn’t new, thou. John may not know anything about the man he was taken to, or why there was a law tolerating something that was punisheble by death in England, but he understood that he was to be used the same way he’d seen his master use other male slaves.

The carriage suddenly felt unsteady and John took a deep breath. He couldn’t start puking or crying. It wasn’t something a gift could do and he’d always been good at masking discomfort and confusion before. He wouldn’t make a complete fool of himself in public, but at the very least save his greatest humiliation until he was alone with the fearsome man he’d soon were to address with ”husband”. They stopped in front of a big villa, covered in wild climbing plants and with big, luxurious windows. Captain Teach nodded.

”Here we are, madame. Mr. Silver. Governor Rogers will take it from here.”

John didn’t recall having his chain unlocked or leaving the carriage, but suddenly he was standing in front of a man that looked like he could’ve been one of the men sitting in his former masters salons back in London. Mrs. Hudson made a curtsey and pinched John when she realised he was still standing. John quickly bowed, although not very elegant. The man in cravatt and grey linen coat didn’t seem to take offense though. He even smiled a little.

”Wedding day nerves, Mr. Silver?”

John didn’t answer. Nerves? He was confused, felt sick and more than anything exhausted and terrified. He swallowed.

”Sorry, sir, but what’s happening to me?”

The governor smiled almost friendly.

”I forgot you’ve only just came ashore, Mr. Silver. Please, come inside and rest a little. Your husband to be hasn’t arrived yet.”

He followed the governor on still a bit unsteady legs, careful not to slip on anything and ruining his new clothes. He was lead to a room with a chaise longe and was told to lay down and rest. Someone, a servant he supposed, gave him a cup with a hot, spiced drink and he didn’t dare to do anything but swallow it. At least it couldn’t do things worse.

His stomach actually seemed to calm down from the mulled wine and as he laid down again and closed his eyes, the world slowly stopped spinning. After a little while, Mrs. Hudson came in and her displeased look turned mild.

”You look better, John. Feeling more steady? Rise and let me see.”

He rose from the chaise longe on far more steady legs and the pale, irritated woman smiled.

”I must say you are a pretty boy.”

She took to control his clothes. John had stayed clean and neat and Mrs. Hudson straightened the jacket a little before taking a comb through his curly hair.

”There. Lets have you married off now, John Silver. Your groom awaits you.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Port Royal. Of course it was too much to ask, having this wedding in Nassau. James Flint gritted his teeth as he waited in the town house cabinette for his groom to arrive. The man who’d be holding the ceremony, Jacob Garrett, was known to be one of the biggest bullshit talkers in Port Royal, Nassau and Tortuga combined, and that was probably the main reason why he’d been requested for this spectacle. James was less than amused. He’d barely had his house in order and wasn’t it for that bless of an indoor spouse, Ben Gunn, James would have to bring his new husband home to a dump. Maybe it was a good thing the wedding was hold here.

James wasn’t happy about this and he held no illusions that his fiancé felt any better. He was probably scared, confused and unused to the tropical sun. What was it that Billy had told him…? James thought for a while but couldn’t seem to remember. It was probably something wise, dry and boring anyway. Not that James didn’t knew his duty or how the procedure worked, but this man, who’d just arrived from England where a marriage between men wasn’t a thing, to be married off to a man twelve years older… Why had he asked for an English man with black hair and blue eyes? He should’ve known that Peter Ashe, the governors old friend, would find someone. He should’ve asked for a hermafrodite or a mermaid instead. At least it would’ve been harder to find.

”Captain Flint!”
”Yes?”

He turned around and saw Jacob Garrett smiling a little too wide.

”Your groom, Mr. Silver, has arrived.”

James immediately pulled himself together and assumed a more proper pose, hoping he didn’t look half as angry as he felt. After all, this wasn’t his poor, unfortunate fiancés fault.

The door opened and a woman with reddish hair entered with an elegant curtsey.

”Captain Flint?”
”Yes?”
”Your groom awaits.”

The man was pretty. More than pretty and James cursed silently as he met the dark blue gaze. The man with the stunning dark curls and blue jacket was nothing but a pure beauty. And clearly horror-struck. James walked slowly to meet him and reached out his hand for him to take. He kissed the trembling knuckles.

”Good evening, John Silver. You look beautiful.”

The poor man looked as if he was about to faint and James simply took him under his arm and nodded at the doorway, leading in to the chapel.

”Shall we get this over with?”

The man only nodded and they walked through the doors to the small room where the formal act of matelotages and marriages took place before private festivities took over. Not that it was any festivities connected with this act. James didn’t feel like celebrating and he was pretty sure his soon to be husband didn’t want to either.

The town choir, for some fucking reason, sang Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, that wasn’t even a wedding song, but James assumed they’d just taken to whatever they currently practised for Christmas. After all, it was December and to be fair, his poor groom blushed as a rose. And he was just as beautiful as one.

The ceremony was brief and you could barely hear John’s ”yes” to love, cherish and obey him until death, but James doubted there was any more truth in his own, clearer ”yes”. He didn’t love this man, he didn’t know him and all he was right now was a pretty but terryfied piece of human flesh, for James to handle as he wished, regardless of John’s own wishes. If he’d only been given to someone who actually wanted a husband.

After putting the ring on, he completed the ceremony with the mandatory kiss, shallow as it was, on John’s lips and the man met him just as dutiful, under eyes brimming with tears. James silently handed the unhappy man a handkerchief and then, although he was cursing inside, put the leather collar with the inscription Property Of Captain James Flint around the slightly sunkissed neck and locked it. Now this poor man was his to handle as he wished for the rest of his unfortunate life and James could hardly fault him for crying as the shackle closed around him.

When the papers had been signed, they walked arm in arm from the altar to the waiting carriage that would take them to their wedding chamber. James had strongly refused any wedding reception, suspecting his groom would be too tired, unhappy and tense to take any pleasure in something like that, and instead ordered a suite with a delicious dinner for two to be set in order at the inn for more noble guests. They would be heading to Nassau the morning after and James didn’t want to expose his poor husband for sea sickness right after the ceremony.

The footman opened the carriage door and James helped his husband inside and before sitting down, took the big bouquet with white roses the footman had kept for him to hand over. When the door was closed and James had taken his seat, he handed over the bouquet to his partly pale, partly blushing and, as the carriage started moving, once again crying spouse. James didn’t fault him for the tears, but he wasn’t used to comfort people and the whole situation was very unpleasant for him as well. He looked through the carriage window.

”I… I’m sorry for all this. I understand you didn’t want this and if there’s any comfort, I’m not actually prepared for this either.”

John didn’t answer and James desperately tried to find the righ words to at least make the man stop crying.

”Uhm… I’ve been a sea captain for many years, travelled across the world. Well, not all of it, of course, but I’ve seen quite a bit of it. This marriage contract is something that’s mandatory for free men and woman in Nassau, so when I returned to settle down after some years at sea, I was told I had to get myself a spouse and… well, the governor considered it would be in Nassau’s interest if I took a spouse from Peter Ashe’s household.”

Fuck. What the hell was this for a wedding conversation?! James cursed himself silently for making the man feel more unwanted. The lowered, teary eyes clearly showed he already knew just how unwanted he was and this little declaration certainly didn’t make him feel better. James desperately searched for another subject.

”How much do you know about Nassau?”
”Not much, sir.”
”Don’t call me sir. James or husband will do.”
”Thank you, husband.”
”What have you been told about this place?”
”Only that it’s hot and… different from London, husband.”

James smiled.

”It’s different. Our wedding proves that more than anything, I guess. Have you lived your whole life in London?”
”I have.”
”Did you like it?”
”Sorry?”
”Did you like it? London.”
”Uhm… It was quite cold in the winters, of course. But I never saw much of the town.”
”How long did you live there?”
”My entire life, husband. Twentynine years.”

To be honest, James was a little surprised. Not that he should be. Most people on this Earth never travelled further than the next village and he was a sea captain. And the man was not twentyseven as he'd been told, but a little older. An improvement, small as it was.

”I’ve been an indoor slave, husband. We don’t go out in the town.”
”Oh…”

Well, he was still a slave, technically. As repulsive as James found the thought of claiming ownership of another human being, he owned this man now. Luckily, before the highly unpleasant subject had moved any further, the carriaged stopped and the footman opened the door.

James stepped out first and then helped his husband down. The inn was a grande place, only for wealthy customers and they were greeted in the door by the inn keeper himself.

”Good evening, Captain Flint, and allow me to congratulate you and your husband on this happy day.”
”Thank you, my good sir. You’re most kind.”
”We’ve prepared the suite for you, and hot water and dinner will be brought up as soon as possible. Follow me, please.”

James forced himself to smile as he turned to his husband, now pale as a sheet.

”Shall we proceed, husband?”

TBC

Chapter Text

Married. He was married now. Up to the very moment he’d whispered his ”yes”, John had hoped he’d fall down dead at the spot. He’d wished it as James Flint put the ring on his finger, as his lips brushed his cheek and as he locked the indoor husband collar around his neck with an ominously sound. And as they’d walked out and the echo from the old Christmas hymn, Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, still rang in John’s ears, his tears had fallen down in the bouquet with white roses. Was it really such a terrible sin to take your own life? No one seemed to have any concearns for his immortal soul for being the husband of another man, as long as it didn’t happen on English soil, so perhaps God didn’t condemn suicide either?

He was standing in the suite, starring in terror at the grand bed with veils in thin satin on three sides. He knew what was expected of him and what pain it would cause him. But he was a slave, an indoor spouse as the contract said, and he had as little say in this as in any other aspect of his life. His husband, Captain Flint, was a man with a small, neat beard, red hair and green, catlike eyes. He had freckles and wasn’t very tall. In fact, just slightly shorter than John but nontheless fearsome. John shivered.

”Are you freezing?”

He shook his head. His husband’s voice was low and calm and John tried to smile, but failed miserably. A servant came up with two buckets of hot water, another with a tray filled with food and a third with a bottle of wine. James thanked them, assured they had everything they needed and then, they were alone.

”Would you like to fresh up a little?”

John immediately obeyed. The hot water actually felt good. His hands were, for some reason, cold as if he was still in London and his cheeks were sticky from now dried tears. His wedding bouquet was put in a vase at the bureau and when he looked in the mirror, he saw he black leather collar around his neck.

”I’m sorry, how rude of me… I’ll remove that thing.”

Hands that were more gentle than he’d expected, unlocked and removed the thick collar and put it on the bureau. His husband took his hand and took him to the table.

”Have a seat, John. You look completely exhausted.”

Despite the fear, John laughed a little.

”It’s… it’s been a long day, sir.”
”It certainly has. But don’t call me ’sir’. It’s James or husband.”
”Yes, husband. I’m sorry.”
”Don’t be. You must be starving. Why don’t you have something to eat.”

Normally, seeing a table of plenty like this, being offered to eat from it, John would’ve done so immediately and happily. But this was food that a house slave never ate, it was for free people, people of wealth and John didn’t know how to act. Was an indoor spouse supposed to eat the same as the outdoor spouse? Were there certain dishes he shouldn’t eat from and how much was he allowed to have? When the captain didn’t make a move to serve himself, John blushed from shame. How could he have forgotten about serving? His new husband would have him whipped for this and he quickly rose.

”I’m very sorry, sir… I forgot my duties.”
”Duties? What duties?”
”To serve you, sir.”

Was it possible that the captain had forgot about it too? He looke genuinly surprised as John took the deep dish with smoked deer to serve him.

”Uhm… thank you, husband.”

John filled his husbands plate with the thin slices of steak, glaced turnips and bread. He took the gravy boat with sauce and the man nodded. When he was certain his husband had what he needed for now, he took his own plate and put a smaller portion on it. He was starving, but his stomach rumbled and to be honest, John didn’t know how he would manage to eat at all.

”You don’t have an English accent.”
”Excuse me, sir?”
”Not sir, John. Husband or James. Your accent… it doesn’t strike me as English. You said you lived your entire life in England?”
”I have, si… husband, but they say my mother came from somewhere south. From some of the colonies. She and the cook were from the same place and the cook took care of me.”
”You don’t know where your mother came from?”
”No, she died when I was little.”
”So did mine. Do you know who your father was?”
”No, si… husband. Only that he died in some plague before I was born.”
”I’m sorry to hear that.”

It was hard to know how to act or where to look. John wasn’t used to sit down and eat with only one person, and certainly not a man who wasn’t his equal. He tried to take small bites and the meat was nothing but delicious, but he could hardly manage to swallow.

”How was your journey from London?”
”A bit… bumpy, I guess.”
”You’ve never been at sea before?”
”I haven’t, si… husband.”
”How did you like it?”
”It was… different.”

His husband smiled a little.

”Yes, I imagine it was. I remember first time I was at sea. Was so sea sick I thought I was gonna die. But most people manage after a couple of days.”

John decided it was safest not to tell him that he had spent most of the journey in a sick bunk, puking his guts out. Not only because it was a less than pleasant thing to talk about while eating, but he didn’t want to make himself look more fragile and useless than he already felt. Instead, he tried to swallow some of the food, to ease his rumbling stomach. The wine was sweet and stronger than he’d thought. Maybe if he got himself drunk, the night would be easier? But on the other hand, John was fairly sure he wasn’t allowed to get drunk and that the wine was only because of the wedding.

”Are you not hungry?”
”I… I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I have a small stomach.”
”Wedding day nerves, I presume.”
”Yes, sir… Husband. I’m sorry.”

A small frown was shown in the captains face and John swallowed hard. This didn’t go very well at the moment. They kept eating in silence. That is, the captain ate and John tried to. The wine slipped down easily and even though it didn’t take away any of the gut wrenching fear, at least it made him tired. However the man sitting in front of him wasn’t unpleasant to look at, the thought of the bedding was just a fearsome.

John had seen the act been performed and saying he didn’t look forward to it was to put it mildly. He finished eating before his husband did and spent the time looking down his plate or searching for signs that his husband’s cup or plate needed to be refilled. The man was, how ever, very moderate in his eating and finished the meal by wiping his mouth with the linen napkin. At least he had table manners.

”Would you like some more wine, John?”
”Is… is it permitted?”
”It’s your wedding day. I don’t know how your drinking habits have been earlier and I’ve never been married before, but I consider a wedding day with only one cup of wine to be a bit bleak. And don’t rise, I have plenty.”

John poured a small amount in his cup and sipped on the still unfamiliar, tart drink. The taste wasn’t as good as the warmth that spread in his body. His blood seemed to thaw a little and he shivered. His husband nodded.

”You’re not used to the climate yet, so you might get prepared for some shivering the first time and you have to be careful with the sun. The place where we’ll live lies a bit outside the town of Nassau. It’s a big house with an even bigger garden and one of our neighbors is an old collegue of mine.”

The captain kept talking, telling him things about this new, strange town where men could marry other men, but John couldn’t keep up. He was too exhausted, his nerves had been on the edge for weeks and he still had the dreadful wedding night ahead of him. He could hardly stay focused and his eyes had turn glassy.

”John?”
”Yes, sir… husband?”
”You look absolutely exhausted. Maybe we’d better go to bed. We’re leaving early tomorrow morning.”

He rose from the table and John rose too. He began to collect the plates when James hold up a hand.

”Leave that. I think you’d better get ready for bed.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The mattress was too soft, but that was the least of his problems now. John sat in the bed, naked except for his wedding shirt as his husband undressed at the other side of the bed, partly hidden behind the satin veils. When the Captain blew out the candles and parted the veil, John sat straight up, the side of his face covered by his long, dark curls and waited. The Captain sighed and stopped removing his shirt. The sigh made John freeze in terror. He hadn’t undressed for his husband. He didn’t do his duty. What was wrong with him? He knew what was required, he wasn’t exactly a virgin and he had no right, no right what so ever to even hint that he wished to deny his husband his body.

”You don’t have to crouch like that. I have no wish to begin this marriage by making you uncomfortable, John. If you don’t want me to touch you, I wont.”
”It is your right…”
”It is, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it.”

The bed shifted as his new husband lay down beside him and John tried to stop shiver.

”Are you freezing?”
”Um… No.”
”You’re shivering. That wont do.”

Flint went up and moments later, a thick wollen blanket was draped over the thin sheet covering John’s trembling body.

”Better?”
”Yes. Thank you.”
”I hope you can sleep now. Good night, husband.”
”Night… husband.”

The blanket helped. His body started to warm up more, but he still couldn’t relax. This wasn’t at all what he’d been prepared for. This James Flint made no sense. Did he not find John pretty enough? Or was he unable to perform? The one thing John had known would happen, no matter his own wishes, was that his husband would use his ass as he pleased, probably leaving him all sore and unable to hold his tears back. John was very grateful for not being fucked by this utterly scaring man, but he was still very frightened.

”What is it?”

The voice made him tremble again. It was slightly displeased. Not angry, but annoyed. John swallowed.

”Nothing. I’m just… adjusting the pillow.”
”You don’t need to be afraid of me, John.”

A warm hand reached his shoulder and turned him around to face the fearsome man. John silently cursed himself for acting this weak, for being unable to perform his duties. For behaving like a scared little girl on his wedding night.

”Look at me, husband.”

Flints eyes were hard and green, like the ones of a feral cat. John could barely hold steady.

”God… Why are you so scared of me? You’re not a virgin, are you?”

John shook his head.

”Thank God for that. Have you been with a man before?”
”I know how it’s done.”
”Even better. You should know that this arrangement isn’t entirely my own choosing. In a way, I’m also forced to do this, it’s my duty and I don’t know you any more than you know me. But I do hope that I wont give you reason to shake like a wagon on a jumpy road. The… physical aspect of this arrangement isn’t something we need to rush into. I prefer that both parties take pleasure in the act. You can sleep calmly, I wont attack you in your sleep.”
”Th-thank you.”

Realising how foolish it sounded, John blushed and lowered his head. Flint sighed a little.

”Now, go to sleep, my dear.”

He stroke John gently over the hair and then turned around. Not until John heard his breathing go heavy, did he dare to close his eyes. The wine, the journey and the exhausting, terrifying day, not to mention the man lying next to him, was too much for him and he bit his teeth hard together, trying to prevent himself from crying. A hopeless task, it turned out. He wetted the fine linen pillow case with his tears, as silent as possible not to disturb his sleeping husband.

What if he tried to run away? John almost immediatly wiped out that thought. He wouldn’t get far, the inn was guarded and he’d never been in Port Royal. Where would he go? And what would happen to him when his husband discovered he’d tried to run away? He recalled something Mrs. Hudson had told him on the journey. Slaves who disobeyed their masters were whipped in public here.

But what if he didn’t wore the collar? Then people wouldn’t know he was this man’s property. Maybe… No! It wasn’t worth it. How far could he even run before someone caught him? And he was property, nothing more. If he was lucky, he would catch a disease and die on the way over to Nassau. Or the ship could be hit by a storm and he could drown.

”What’s the matter, husband?”

He was awake. Oh, God, his husband was awake and he seemed annoyed. John swallowed his tears.

”Nothing.”
”Then why are you crying?”

The man turned around and touched his shoulder. John crouched, uncapable of making his body obey. He could barely see the man in the darkness, but he guessed he didn’t smiled.

”I understand it has been a tiresome day and that you’re very unused to all this, but you need to get some sleep now, or you’ll fall asleep standing tomorrow. We both need to sleep.”

He ruined his husbands rest, he knew that, and he dried his tears. Crying wouldn’t do any good, he ought to know that after his long years in the Ashe household, but that was a familiar fear. This, lying in bed next to a man he’d never met before, that he now had to obey and call husband, was entirely something else. Why didn’t he fuck him? Tears certainly hadn’t stopped master Ashe for using his mouth, but perhaps this man didn’t like tears.

His husband had already turned his back to him and fallen asleep. John waitied until he was certain his breaths had gone heavy and then he took a deep breath and tried to relax. The exhaustion took him only seconds later and he fell in a light, uneasy sleep.

A hand, softer than he’d expected, shook him lightly and he opened his eyes. At first he didn’t knew where he was, but then he saw the seams on his white wedding shirt and the reality struck him. He looked up and saw a pair of green, almost feral eyes towering over him and he trembled.

”I didn’t mean to scare you, husband, but we have to rise. The ship is leaving early. Did you sleep well?”
”Y-yes, husband.”

Liar. The man didn’t say it, but he might as have. He left the bed and John rose on his side, grateful for the veil that separated him from the man’s gaze. There were other clothes laying on the chair for him, in more rough material, more suitable for a journey. He dressed quickly and then a servant came inside with the breakfast.

”Have you slept well, Captain?”
”Yes, thank you. Would you be so kind to light a fire. I believe my husband’s a bit frozen.”
”Certainly, sir.”

For some reason, it made John uneasy that the man had discovered that. Apparently he could tell the difference from tremblings of fear and shivers from cold. John took the comb that was laying on the bureau and tried to make his unruly mess of curls lay still. Usually he’d use his fingers, and his thick curls proved to be a lot harder to use a comb on.

”Are you ready for breakfast, husband?”
”Uhm… yes, sir… husband.”

It was hard getting used to that word. Or to the man who hold that title. Or this new land or any of this. John had always been good at adapting himself to the surroundings and people around him, but it was easy when you knew what was expected. The only thing John had been fairly certain to happen after the contract had been signed, hadn’t happened and that left him equally relieved and confused. He knew it was illegal in England, but since people at the inn didn’t seem to bother, he assumed the ungodly Nassau law that allowed this arrangement, reached to Port Royal as well.

His husband was dressed in a simple, but neat black clothes and John had to admit it suited him very well. His own clothes were a pair of loose fitting, black trousers and a brown linen shirt. The collar laid on the bureau and he had to bite his lip hard not to cry again. Instead he went to the table where they’d had their dinner the other night, where a steady breakfast was set. His husband was already sitting and John, desperately searching for anything to look at but him, took the teapot.

”Would you like some tea, husband?”
”Yes, please.”

He filled the man’s cup and then his own, before lifting the plate with breadrolls to serve him. The man took a breadroll and then hold up his hand.

”It’s too early in the morning for you to serve me, my dear. We’ll leaving for the port in less than an hour, so use that time to eat. You look pale.”

He didn’t know if he was expected to answer that, so he just kept his eyes down and waited for the man to start eating. When he lifted his teacup, John figured it was safe to start and he took a breadroll, sliced it in two and stroke a thin layer of butter on it. The bread was still warm, freshly baked and John had to force himself no to moan when he took the first bite. He’d couldn’t remember the last time he’d had fresh bread and butter. The last nights supper had, of course, been luxorious enough to fit for a king, but he’d been too scared and tired to really taste it. This, how ever, was a taste he reckognized and loved, as familiar as rare. Slaves didn’t ate bread still hot from the oven and certainly not with butter.

John decided to enjoy it as much as possible, since it was highly unlikely he’d have it again any soon. The pleased nod from the man across the table encouraged him and for the first time in a very long time, he ate until he was actually full.

TBC

Chapter Text

”How’s he holding up?”
”Again, Captain? Can’t hear ya in this ghastly wheather!”
How. Is. My. Husband. Holding. Up?!
”Oh, your husband! Not too well, Captain. No sea legs on that one, I’ll tell ya.”
”Well, could you tell someone to take to him then?”
”Aye, Captain.”

James gritted his teeth as Jenkins slumped away. The captain cursed. Damn that asshole Teach who couldn’t take the man to Nassau and had James handle both this fucking weather as well as a shit scared man who spent his time puking his guts out or starring into the wall. Why on Earth had he agreed to this? Not only an arranged marriage in a form that frankly disgusted him, but to this delicate, shivering creature who practically looked as if he longed for death.

They had nothing to talk about and he crouched as soon as James came near him. The only way to handle that on open sea, was to leave the man alone, James assumed. They shared his cabin, of course, but not bed and John wasn’t the only one being grateful for that. James was pretty sure he’d never seen anyone this sea sick before and he could only imagine what experience  the journey from England had been to the poor mans guts. Cursed be Blackbeard who ”couldn’t” sail to Nassau, cursed be that smug bastard lord Ashe and cursed be the law that forced a man to choose between his trade and his freedom in bed.

The plan to prolong this shitty deal had backfired. Not only had Peter Ashe actually found a spouse that hold up to the ridiculous standards James had set in order to prolong this nonsens. The man he’d found was also scared, unused to the sea and crouched worse than a beaten animal.

The wind abate later that night and James left the rodder to his quartermaster, Mr. Gates, an old jack who’d been at sea long enough to know it like his own pocket. His spouse, a woman, lived back in Tortuga and they rarely met. It was well-known that Hal Gates and his indoor wife preferred to see each other as little as possible and, as the more quick headed men in the crew said, it was a marriage as happy as one could wish for. No one wanted to see the other and they could live happily apart in separate parts of the house, when they were forced to sleep under the same roof.

You couldn’t just marry someone on paper and then live separately as you pleased, thou, even if the law could be a little more bended when you come of age. First of all, the indoor spouse held no authority what so ever and couldn’t sign papers, owe property or leave the house without collar and permission. And an outdoor spouse could, of course not cook or clean for his- or herself. That would be the most scandalous thing imaginable. Scandalous, indeed… James made a bitter grimaze as he went below deck. In one world the relationship between two men was the scandalous thing and in another, it was those two men working with the same thing. The world never seemed to make sense to him.

John was lying in his bunk, his pale face shifting in green and he looked completely miserable. He’d missed the bucket with some of his vomits, but who could blame him. Old Walrus rocked and turned in the storm and anything that wasn’t firmly attached to the ship, rolled and scattered around. James took a grip around one of the bars in ceiling.

”How are you feeling, husband?”
”I’m dying… At least I hope so…”

James understood more than well. Seasickness wasn’t dangerous, but few other illnesses made you feel so miserable. Being struck with it for the first time was a highly unpleasant experience and most people reacted about the same as his poor husband. Puking and praying for death. James took a wet cloth to the man’s face.

”Please… tell me I’m dying soon…”
”Sorry to disappoint you, but you’re not.”

Good Lord, why did he say that?! John, how ever, didn’t seem to take notice, since his guts once again decided to attack him and he puked all over James’ boots.

”God, I’m… so… sorry…”
”Nevermind the boots, John. The rain will take care of that.”

Still so scared. James wondered if it was the sea sickness or him that scared the man the most in this moment. Most of the long journey, John had kept to himself, keen to not be in anyones way and sharing a bunk wasn’t to think about. Mostly because John spent most nights as spent his days, twitching and turning from the sea sickness and second, he was jumping whenever he was touched.

James sighed and stroke away a dark curl that was stuck in the feverish face. What was it that Billy had said? You learn as you go. Had Ben been this scared? The man seemed to follow Billy’s every wish so naturally it was like he had no personality of his own. Was that how an indoor spouse was supposed to be? A shadow? He already had shadows from the past and he didn’t need one for the future.

”Captain! We need you up here!”

Muldoon knocked on the door and James looked at the man clutching his coat in a vain attempt to make the rocking stop. He gently removed his hands and tucked the blanket a little closer around him.

”Hang in there, John. We’ll be home soon.”

At dawn, the storm was over, but the waves were still quite high and the rain didn’t stop. The ship was soaked inside out and the crew was exhausted. The only dry persons aboard were John and the ships cat Betsy, who’d snuck inside to the dry cabin and jumped up in the bunk. The little animal lay in the warmth at John’s chest. James, who were grateful the man was asleep, changed to dry clothes and then sent in Randall to clean up the vomits, simply because that man was one of few Betsy didn’t hiss at. Before he left the cabin, he nodded at John.

”Try not to wake him up, Randall. And if he should, come and get me.”
”Aye, Captain.”

Later in the morning the sun was bright, the winds favourable and the ship and crew had managed without any bigger damages. John was still in bed, companied by Betsy and managed to swallow some water. His stomach seemed to have calmed down a little and he didn’t twitch and turn. Some hours after midday, James carried him up on deck to have some fresh air. He’d covered his husband’s head with a cloth, as protection against the sun, but it soon turned out that the man coped far better with the sun than he did with the ocean.

He’d been just slightly tanned at the wedding and James assumed he’d been kept below deck most of the journey in order to stay white enough. Damn England and their stupid standards. No wonder his poor husband had looked so fragile. Fresh air and a reasonable dose of the Caribbean sun would do him good.

James would’ve prefered to sit down and trying to talk to him, but unfortunately, the Walrus had other passengers who needed his attention. An elderly couple who were to visit their son in Nassau, and for some reason they were completely unaware of that a captains duties didn’t extend to entertain bored upper class people. However, the etiquette forbid James to refuse them his attention if the ship didn’t need him, and therefore John was left mostly alone in his spot on deck. The crew was curtious to him and Muldoon and Randall even kept him company and told him things about islands they passed or the sea creatures that sometimes rose from the surface.

One sunny afternoon, about an hour before teatime, an island with white shores and palm trees was spotted at the horizon, coming closer by every minute. John was sitting at his spot as usual when James waved for him to come to the rodder. John, who had much more steady legs – not to mention stomach – by now, left his spot and came to stand a respectful bit from him. James hold out his binoculars.

”Come here, husband and have a look.”

John had seen him, as well as other men in the crew, use it a lot of times but never asked to see for himself and James realised the man probably wouldn’t ask. Now he took the binoculars and looked through it towards the beach. James adjusted his position.

”That’s Nassau. Our home lies a bit outside the town, on the eastern side. We’ll be neighbors with two of my former crewmen and their spouses. Billy Bones, who used to be my quartermaster and his indoor spouse Ben Gunn are our closest neighbors and a bit further away lives DeGroot, my former sailingmaster and his outdoor spouse Joji, who’s a blacksmith. DeGroot is not a real indoor spouse like you, but has chosen to stay at home since he’s come of age and suffers from gout.”
”I… I didn’t know you could do that.”
”The contract states that both parties are obliged to provide for each other according to his or her needs. DeGroot is still in charge, but takes to the tasks more suitable for his strenght. You’ll see him out in his garden a lot.”
”Do you have a garden too?”
”Yes, but I’m afraid it’s not very big or well-treemed. I’ve recently bought the house and Ben Gunn has been so kind to help me restore it. I don’t know how it looks inside, but Ben Gunn is a practical man and I trust his judgement.”

John didn’t answer, probably because there was nothing to add and soon the men shouted that it was time to lower the anchor. James had to return to his ship duties and asked John to get below deck with Randall for a while.

”It can be a little hectic up here once we’re tearing the sails.”

His husband quickly went down, probably relieved for not having to engage in further conversation. He was very quiet, but James decided it was too early to say if it was due to something more than weariness from the two long journeys the man had went on these last weeks. As the afternoon sun went a little lower, James Flint brought his groom to the home port and James wondered which one of them was more relieved as he helped John from the rowboat up on steady ground.

”Oi, Flint!”

James grinned. A well-known figured waved at them with a small smile on his serious face and James nudged his husband a little.

”That’s Billy Bones. With a little luck he has a carriage ready for us to take us home.”

TBC

Chapter Text

It wasn’t until later, when his legs once again had gotten used to firm land, that John realised the man his husband had pointed out for him, wasn’t an actual giant. The tall, broad man with arms almost as big as a grown man’s thigh, very short, blonde hair and blue, firm eyes was the biggest man John had ever seen and no less intimidating. But he was most certainly human. He greeted John’s husband with a smile and a steady embrace.

”So, you didn’t flee the altar? What a hero!”
”Oh, fuck you, Bones!”

Both men laughed and then the human giant turned to John.

”And you must be Mr. Silver.”

He reached out his hand and John took it, feeling like the cat had gotten his tongue. The human giant, how ever, smiled friendly and didn’t crush his hand.

”Welcome to Nassau. I’m your husbands neighbor and old friend, Billy Bones. Allow me to congratulate you to your marriage.”
”Thank you, sir.”
”Just Billy. You must be really tired after that long journey.”

Someone had already taken their luggage and loaded it on the carriage and John, who was unsteady on his legs, suffered the embarressment of loosing his footing as he stepped up, only to be catched by Mr. Bones who helped him up as easily as if John had been Betsy the ship cat.

”Steady on! A little shaky from the sea, I presume.”
”Yes. Pardon me, sir.”
”Oh, that happens to every single one who’s not used to the sea. And it’s just Billy, not sir. I walked like an old drunk the first time I’d been out. Thought I could just jump off the boat and wander off.”

James laughed.

”And we know how that went. People screamed that Captain Flint had brought a drunken giant back home.”

He helped John to sit down next to him and then Billy Bones jumped up on the drivers sea and spured on the horse. John reeled a little and James put an arm around his shoulders that felt strangely calming. The town of Nassau passed by before John was able to really see anything and they headed out on a road leading away from the houses, the people and the lights. It was then John realised he didn’t wore his collar and he froze.

”What’s the matter, husband? Are you unwell?”
”No… No, I… I forgot…”
”Forgot what?”
”The collar… I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
”You don’t have to wear collar unless you’re out on your own, my dear. Try to rest a little now.”

The road became less bumpy and John had it far too comfortable against his husband’s shoulder to not fall asleep.

”… in December.”
”What?”

A hole in the road almost shook John out of his sleep, but he remained on his husbands shoulder. The Captain was talking to his former quartermaster.

”What did you say, Billy?”
”That he’s as pretty as a rose in December.”

John felt the grip tighten a little around his arm as he floated on the brink of sleep. Then he heard his husband’s calm voice.

”He most certainly is…”

John kept his eyes closed, hardly believing his ears. Pretty as a… If he hadn’t been so tired, he’d probably be blushing. Before he could put any more thought to it, his eyelids turned heavy again and the sleep took him.

James felt the man go heavy against his shoulder and the thick mass of curls, still smelling from sea salt after the long journey, was soft against his nose and lips. Billy was right. This poor, exhausted and scared man he’d brought to a new world in more than one way, was one of the prettiest men James had ever set his eyes on.

When they reached the house, James realised John wasn’t the only one to step inside a new home tonight. When thinking about it, this was probably John’s first place to actually call home. For some reason that thought felt both comforting and sad. He shook the man very gently.

”Wake up, John. We’re home.”

As bright as the day had been, almost as dark was the night in Nassau. The house that was to be their home now was, how ever, alight in what John assumed was the kitchen. Billy hold the horse and jumped off as John woke up from his bumpy slumber. James still had an arm around his shoulders and the man actually looked adorable being barely awake. His blue eyes were drowsy and he looked around with a confused expression, as if he tried to figure out when exactly the noisy harbour had disappeared from sight.

Billy-the-giant helped him down, but it was his husband who took him under the arm and walked up with him to the house.

”I believe Ben put a lantern in the stove, just to keep you from stumbling over the pots and pans. And if I know him right, you’ll find a basket with something to eat for two-three days or so.”
”A true saint, that man. Give him my thanks.”
”I will. We wont stop by for a couple of days, of course.”
”Thank you. If you’d happen to see someone who wants to pay a visit for some stupid reason, could you please tell them I’m busy?”
”Of course. If it’s urgent, I’ll come by myself.”
”Thank you, Billy. Oh, you and Ben are, of course, welcome. In fact, it would probably be good for John to meet him. If that’s alright with you and he has the time, of course.”
”Ben’s just as curious as me of Mr. Silver, so I think he’d be happy to pay a visit.”

John had listened to the conversation with half an ear, but was too tired to really care about anything but something to lie down on. As James lead him over the staircase and through another open door, he registrated a bed. He was only vaguely aware of that his boots, belt and jacket were removed before he sank down on the bed and went back to sleep with a sigh.

James silently undressed, while watching the sleeping man and doubts, anger and frustration hit him once again. Why had he let himself be persuaded to do this? What, besides a fairly comfortable home, could he offer this man? And who was he, by the way? This John Silver who now slept in the bed they were supposed to share for the rest of their lives together. His breathing was calm, heavy, but James didn’t allow himself to be fooled. This was no happy, blushing groom brought home by a loving husband. John was a slave, sold and bought to honour a deal and shipped away from everything familiar to him. James blew out the candle and pulled the blanket a little further up over John’s shoulder. He lied down as carefully as possible, not to disturb the sleeping beauty.

When John woke up, it was already quite late in the morning. He was lying under a light, but warm blanket and had a soft feather pillow tucked under his head. He was alone and didn’t recognize the room, or the furniture and felt unusually tired, as if he’d not slept enough, but the sun shining in through the shutters and curtains spoke about something closer to noon rather than dawn. The unfamiliar room was quite big with light green walls, white window shutters and thin, white curtains.

The bed had green veils in thinly satin and finest linen sheets. On a dresser to his left, there was a fairly large mirror and on the dark surface beneath it, a big bouquet with crisp white roses was standing in a rounded vase. When he lifted his left hand to remove the blanket, something glittered in the light. A golden ring. As his memory catched up, reality hit him: he was all alone in a whole new part of the world, brought here by a man who’d taken him as his husband to live with him here. For the first time since his wedding day, John Silver burst into tears and who could fucking blame him?

TBC

Chapter Text

James was a practical man. The rule that outdoor spouses didn’t belong in the kitchen surely didn’t apply this particular morning. His poor husband had been exhausted the other night and the bumpy sleep in Billy’s carriage hadn’t given him much rest. John needed a good nights sleep without thinking about getting up and make breakfast for his spouse. All said and done, when the door to the chamber opened and a slightly crouching creature with a mop of thick, dark curls on the head appeared in the kitchen, there were tea, boiled eggs, breadrolls, cold sliced meat and fresh mango on the table. James, who’d been reading while waiting for John to wake up, looked up from his book.

”Good morning, husband.”
”Good morning, husband.”
”Did you sleep well?”
”I did, thank you, sir.”
”Still not sir, but I guess it’s a matter of habit.”

The man looked both confused and scared and James realised he hadn’t seen the house in daylight and probably had been too tired the other night to recognize anything. James rose from the table and pulled out the other chair.

”Please, sit down.”
”But…”

Of course. Serving. But James wouldn’t have that now. Not their first morning at home and not when John still was tired from the journey. James pointed promptly at the chair.

”Not today, John. You’re tired and need to eat. The sea didn’t go easy on you. Take a seat.”
”Thank you, husband.”

He wore the clothes James had put on the chair the other night. Black trousers, a blue striped shirt and a pair of light shoes as a change from the steady boots he’d used on the journey. The dark ringlets that hung loose around the anxious face gave him a fragile, almost petite look and he sipped carefully on the tea, holding the cup in both hands.

The meal was just as strenuous as back in Port Royal. John ate slowly and very little, possibly due to his sensitive stomach. Usually it took a day or two on shore for an unused passenger to have control over legs ands guts again and considering how sick the man had been on the ship, it was no surprise he had no appetite. But he still didn’t dare to look at James unless searching for signs of need to refill his teacup or cut him more bread. It was a strenuous meal to say the least but just as James had decided to mention something about the weather, his husband opened his mouth.

”Thank you for the flowers.”
”You liked them?”
”Yes. They smelled lovely.”
”Most people seem to prefer red or pink roses, but I thought white suited you.”

Pale as a ghost rather than blushing like a bride. Or, in this case, groom. James suddenly realised he hardly knew anything about this man’s previous life. Of course, Peter Ashe who had been his employer, must’ve known that John took a fancy in men but since it was a crime in England, it surely must be quite the shock to be in Nassau, even if the weeks at sea in some way had prepared John for the change. And things would probably be easier once they were both settled. Pity the man was so young. What was it now…?

”You’re twentyseven, right?”
”Twentynine, husband.”
”Oh…”

The furrow in his face made the man crouch again and James smiled.

”That’s not a problem, dear. In fact, I’m glad you’re a little older. I’m thirtynine myself and ten years distance is, at least, a little better than twelve.”

Thank God for the matelotage laws. The thought of having to live with a man this young wasn’t entirely in James’ taste, but a woman this young would’ve been a disaster. At least he didn’t have to worry about children. Of course, John must’ve been properly prepared for this arrangement in some way. The thought of sending a man that didn’t fancy men or couldn’t do traditional women chores oversea for an arranged matelotage was preposterous. And it certainly wasn’t a suitable subject to talk about over breakfast.

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts and he instantly got annoyed. He’d specifically asked not to be disturbed this morning.

”Who is it?”
”Billy, of course. Who else?”

Of course. He sighed.

”Come in.”

Billy looked very apologising and he should. James was more than displeased.

”Good morning. I’m so, so sorry for the intrusion, but Mrs. Guthrie wants to see you in her office.”
”Well, did you tell her I’m busy?”
”I did, but her father is here and he’s turned the consortium upside down in your absence, preventing several merchants from selling their cargo because of some fucking quarrel with Vane.”
”Christ…”
”Yeah… So, as much as I hate to destroy your first morning together, I really think you need to head down to the Guthries before there’s a blood vessel.”
”Of course. You’re coming with me?”
”Yeah. Unfortunately, Ben’s out for the day, colouring fabrics with Idelle and wont be back until supper, so John will be without company.”

James gritted his teeth. This wasn’t at all what he had planned for his newly wedded husband. To be left alone in the house the whole day. Damn the Guthries and damn Charles Vane who seemed incapable of learning the meaning of the word ”tacts”. James sighed and rose from the table. John immediately rose too and James smiled regretfully.

”I’m really sorry for leaving you alone this first day here, my dear. It’s not what I had planned. Maybe you can spend the day just resting and have a look around? And there’s plenty of food in the basket from Ben for your midday meal. Don’t go too far away, thou, and don’t forget your collar. I’ll be home by supper.”

He gave his husband a little nod and collected his coat and guns. Billy smiled at John.

”See you later, John. And once again, sorry for taking possession of your husband like this. Have a nice day.”
”Uhm… you too, sir.”
”Just Billy.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Being left alone to collect your thoughts and sipping on rich tea could’ve been pleasant, he supposed. Having a break from the kind yet fearsome man and wind down. Maybe sit in the beautiful morning sun, relaxing among the many strange, colorful flowers in the garden. Unless you were crying your eyes out, of course. Truth was, John surprised himself with all this crying. Before the wedding he’d rarely cried, not even as a child. It was sticky, tiresome and made him look like a red-eyed drunk.

Although he was more steady on his legs again, his stomach didn’t seem to cope with him at all. Maybe it was the tea? John hadn’t have this kind of tea before and he had to admit it tasted far better than the bleak floral brew he’d always had for breakfast and supper at the Ashe’s. The cook made it specially for him, and although it was very weak and the other servants and slaves used to make faces at him when they saw him drink it, he couldn’t refuse it. He’d always assumed he got the weakest tea because he was the lowest among the servants. A way to have a good time on his expense, so to say, and thou it didn’t taste very nice it wasn’t worth being beated or go without food for refusing it. He’d tried that once and never again.

So, maybe his stomach simply wasn’t used to this brew. John put his palm just below his bellybotton. The feeling wasn’t exactly unpleasant, just new and a little weird. Maybe it just was the sea sickness, after all? Some lingering twitches. After all, he’d been on dry land for only a night and a morning and hadn’t his husband said he’d feel unsteady for a little while? But being a bit unsteady and sick from sea didn’t feel like this. On the other hand, his husband had told him to rest, so maybe that would help.

John put the breakfast away, did the dishes and swept the floor. Then he decided to have a look around. He’d only seen the bedroom and the kitchen, and behind one of the doors, there was a big salon. John gasped.

”What the everloving fuck…?

Through clearly expensive windows, divided into small squares made of teak, the sun shined into a room with a dark floor, a big fireplace with brazen details and the mantelpiece filled with candlesticks and roses in their vases. Next to it, to the right, there was a bookcase with glass doors in an intricate pattern, filled with books. A couch big enough for two with decorated cushions, was put at a comfortable distance from the fireplace and next to it, a delicate little tea table with glass jars filled with what John could only presume was some kind of expensive dainty, strictly for the master of the house and prominent guests.

By the other window, further from the door, stood a beautifully painted cembalo and in a small cupboard with glass doors, there were note sheets and some kind of flute, visible in it’s silk coated folder. John had heard the young mistress, miss Abigail, play and sing beautifully on both flute, cembalo and harpe on several times at the Ashe household. She knew John liked music and on some rare occasions, when no one was around to see, she had let him stay and listen while she practised. John wondered if his husband would let him listen too, when he practised. The thought that he’d be allowed in here while they had guests didn’t strike John at all. The only reason someone like him could be in a room like this, was to be of service or cleaning after guests.

He left the beautiful room, already longing for the dust to fall on the shiny surfaces to give him a reason for going back in there. He went to the bed chamber and opened the window to air out the night, made the bed and emptied the chamber-pot and washbasin in the bucket before emptying it in the privy. It felt very strange to be in a house that clearly didn’t need to be cleaned at the moment. There was no laundry to be done either and as for the dinner, John assumed the captain hadn’t had the time to install a cook yet. Perhaps he or she would come tomorrow and make a real supper. As for tonight, his husband had to be content with whatever they had that was already prepared.

John went back to the kitchen again, looking through the basket from Ben Gunn. A large meat pie, bread and cheese, some fruit and some kind of pudding that smelled sweet and… yes, like oranges! He almost dropped the bowl. This pudding was clearly food for nobles. Was his new husband noble? Did sea captains count as nobles here? But this house was so small in comparison to English houses for nobles. Did the cook live separately? Or perhaps he or she would come tomorrow. After all, the arrival was never certain and John knew that they’d been delain due to the storm. Not much, but with a couple of days. Yes, that would explain it. Relieved to finally see some kind of logic pattern in this extremely confusing situation, John decided to leave the kitchen and have a look in the garden.

The sun was strong and the air hot. It felt strange to know it was already January. It had been close to Christmas on John’s wedding day and during the holidays he’d been lying sea sick in the ship bunk. This island and it’s hot air, sharp sunshine and bright blue sky didn’t was about as far from the grey mists and darkness in London you could come. The garden that surrounded the house wasn’t very big and had high hedges on three sides, secluding the backyard with a wall in the frontyard. The wall was white and had a door on the right side, you could open from inside the garden with a key hanging on a rusty nail in the wall, well-hidden behind a rose bush climbing over the white painted stone.

James hadn’t told him not to open it, but John decided it was safest not to. The thoughts of running away had been wiped out since he’d been lying sick and where would he go? He didn’t know this place and didn’t even know in which direction the port was.

The garden had mostly roses, lemon trees – obviously, John had never seen a lemon tree before – and other trees that had strange, reddish fruits John later would learn were called ackee. The well was built under the shadow of the lemon tree and John was pleased to see the bucket didn’t seem to have any bigger leaks. That, and the sunny weather would make the laundry so much easier. No more frozen sheets or chapped nails from sinking linen in a hole in the ice on the river! He almost jumped by the thought. Maybe there were some good things with this strange, hot place after all.

The warmth and all the new impressions, however, made him tired and his husband had told him to rest from the journey. John had never had this much rest before and he decided that out of all strange things with this, lying on the bed and just seeing the sun dance through the window shutters was something he had absolutely no problem adjusting to.

Now, as he’d seen his immediate surroundings and knew he was allowed to rest – and in big, soft bed! – John started to relax a little. The situation was still both terrifying and fucked up, he decided. Non of this was natural, least of all being married to another man when the laws of God and nature clearly condemned it. But John had never been a very religious man and as a slave, all he knew about was to bend to others will. If God, as he’d always heard, wanted a slave to obey without question to please Him, and Christian men could sell a male slave to marry another man, then it must mean that marry and bed another man couldn’t be a sin if it was arranged like this. Could it? Not that John had to think about wheater it was a sin or not. All he needed to do was obey. It would just have been so much easier if he knew what was expected.

Despite his long night rest, he immediately felt drowsy in the bed. It must be due to the long journey and this new climate. He loosened his belt and frowned as he realised he was hard. Now that was a fucking mystery. Truly. John Silver couldn’t remember having a hard on since he was fourteen or so. He’d never even given much thought into it. After a while it had just ceased to happen and it wasn’t as if fucking anyone was a thing for him anyway. He had two holes and two hands for pleasuring others which, after all, was all that was required for a house slave in this matter. And the only reason he’d not been fucked up the ass, was due to the fact that virgins were more attractive to a potential buyer. John knew lord Ashe had wanted to fuck him, but apparently found it more important to make good profit than having his ass. But still, it was strange to feel something that almost reminded of lust for the first time in fifteen years. Of course… he didn’t have a rumbling stomach! It was his fucking underbelly reminding him of it’s existence.

Was an indoor spouse allowed to touch himself? Probably not. But he was alone and no one needed to know. John slipped his hand down his trousers and started stroking the aching length. His release came far sooner than lord Ashe’s used to and to John’s great surprise, it actually felt pretty good. As he washed off the mess, he realised that whatever would happen to him, at least he’d never get that bastard lord Ashe’s cum in his face again. One more good thing with this terribly confusing place, besides the permission to rest.

TBC

Chapter Text

”How’s things going with that boy of yours?”
”He’s adjusting and don’t call him boy, Teach.”

James was in a terrible mood. The Guthries were annoying, Vane was his usual blunt self and then there was Blackbeard who’d refused to take John all the way to Nassau. James hade been little more than angry with that, but since meeting John he’d realised his husband probably would’ve been teeth chattering and passing out during the ceremony if he’d been forced to sail with that man for any longer. And he needed to get home to him now. The meeting had been too long already and it was close to supper time. Vane nudged Billy.

”Hey, how’s Ben doing?”
”Fishing for another meat pie, Chaz? You should get married.”
”I’d rather cut my dick off and feed it to the dogs.”
”Christ…”

Billy rolled his eyes and James frowned. Vane had no business of his own nor a public office, so he was always happy to remind people how much he hated the married state. By simply sailing under Blackbeard, who let him do pretty much what he wished as long as it didn’t ruin the trading man’s reputation, and not having any home in Nassau, Vane had escaped the married life. James had never liked the man very much, unruly and savage as he was. If anyone here actually needed an outdoor spouse to look after him, it was Vane.

Eleanor Guthrie, the daughter of the islands retired governor, Richard Guthrie, would’ve been perfect for the job, but she’d chosen the clever, French woman Max Marliot instead. And governor Rogers, the bastard who’d suggested –in other words demanded – Flint to marry John, had travelled to Spain in some arrend Flint didn’t care to look further into, leaving his wife Charlotte, their five children and the ruling of Nassau in Guthries care until his return. And Vane was still happily unmarried, flirting with everything with tits or cock. For the moment, Billy was the target.

James couldn’t understand why the man didn’t take offense. But on the other hand, Vane didn’t flirt with Ben, so there was no serious business that demanded any actions. You couldn’t insult an indoor spouse, since they were technically property and outdoor spouses were free to take as many lovers as the wished. James could imagine how that curtious, pliable Ben Gunn would feel if he saw this, but Billy seemed to brush it off like nothing. At least, he didn’t encourage Vane.

As soon as the meeting was over, James and Billy made company back home and before leaving, Vane made an obscene gesture at the tall man who answered with a wicked grin and a lewd swirling with his  tongue between two fingers. When they finally were on their way back, James looked surly at his former quartermaster.

”The fuck was that about?”
”Vane?”
”Yes, Vane.”
”I’m not fucking him and I’m not going to. He is who he is.”
”Arrogant, thickheaded and lewd.”
”I never thought you for the prude type, old friend. Chaz is just a tease.”
”He’s doing that in front of Ben too?”
”Why? You’re caring about what an indoor spouse is thinking?”
”Oh, so he is doing it?”
”For fucks sake, James! Do you want to know the origin of this tease, huh? Ben once served him one of his meat pies and Chaz moaned in it, declaring it tasted even better than pussy. So whenever Chaz knows I want to get home for supper, he does that gesture.”
”Oh…”

Billy just smiled and shook his head.

”He’s not flirting with me, James, and even if he was, my bed’s already pretty occupied.”
”That’s enough details, Bones!”

Billy laughed.

”Please tell John I’m sorry for stealing you like this. He looks pretty scared.”
”Well, he’s more scared of me than anything so I’m sure he’s relieved to have some time on his own.”
”Perhaps, but this is such a strange place for someone who’s barely sat his foot outside London before.”
”Don’t remind me of it. He’s been shaking in his boots since we walked down the isle. Crying.”

He made a displeased grunt, it was a bit shameful to say it, but Billy didn’t seem the least surprised.

”Ben cried too. So did Max.”
”Mrs. Guthries’ wife?”
”Yes. Most of them cry on their wedding day, James. From nerves, I guess, and in Ben’s case of fear. Pretty sure that one goes for John too.”

James gritted his teeth. He’d never been good handling crying people and he’d never met a person being so scared of him as John Silver.

At least, they’d reached home and Billy dropped him off outside the gate.

”Tell him I’m sorry, James.”
”For him marrying me or you taking me to a council meeting?”
”Christ… Stop being so bloody grumpy and try to look a little less murderous when you walk inside.”
”Murderous looks comes natural after a day like this. Could you take Ben over tomorrow? I think John needs to meet another indoor spouse before he starts thinking he’s the only one.”
”Certainly. We’ll drop by after breakfast.”

The house was lit and when James walked inside, the swift, light steps from his husband could be heard from the kitchen and the man showed up in the hall.

”Welcome home, husband.”
”I’m sorry you had to wait. The meeting was much longer than I’d presumed. Is supper ready?”
”Uhm, yes.”

The man looked just a scared and tense as this morning and James decided not to complain about the supper, that was merely the supplies from Ben Gunn’s basket. A cold meat pie, bread, cheese and fruit. John looked causiously at him.

”I… I didn’t know what you prefer to drink.”
”That’s alright, I forgot to tell you.”

James took to the salon. Strange. It didn’t seem as if John had been in there. There was no fire going and everything looked untouched. But maybe he’d prefered the garden today. James opened the whine cabinet and brought a dusty bottle back to the kitchen. The house didn’t have an actual dining room, but most people in Nassau, hig or low, had their everyday meals in the kitchen. It was more practical that way since there was few servants on the island. The indoor spouses took care of the homes, so the need for servants had been drastically decreased. It was a lot of prestige in having a good indoor spouse and the more he or she could do on his or her own in the home, the more glory for the outdoor spouse.

The supper was tense and quiet. James was still annoyed by the council and figured it was best not to speak a lot until he’d became less irritated. John ate slowly and very frugal, perhaps his stomach was still sensitive, and drank even less. As always, the indoor spouse had less wine or ale than the outdoor spouse, about half the amount, and in John’s case it seemed to be a good thing. He already looked exhausted and glassy-eyed and he clearly wasn’t used to liqor. James had have in mind to sit in the salon with him this evening, but thanks to that fucking meeting, it was quite late and John was still tired from the long journey. It was easy o forget how people unused to sea and this climate could react. James figured perhaps it was a little early to expect a hot meal, at least for a day more or so. And the basket from Ben was plenty and more than enough to feed them both for two or three days. Yes, that was probably for the best. Let the man settle and get a little more used to the situation before taking on any bigger household duties. And seeing Ben Gunn would be good for him as well. James finished his plate.

”Tomorrow, Billy and Ben will come over after breakfast, so you and Ben can be properly introduced. He’s a sweet person, easy to talk to and it’ll be good for you to meet another indoor spouse who can show you around a bit more. Some things are done different here, as I guess you’ve already figured out, and Ben Gunn is pretty much the best guide to Nassau, a newly arrived indoor spouse could get.”
”Thank you, I’m grateful for some guidance.”
”I figured you’d be.”

James finished the meal earlier than he usually would have. It was uncomfortable eating with someone who hardly said a word and never unless being spoken to. The governor had told him that John Silver had been a very well-seen servant in the Ashe household, most skilled in all things a good indoor husband should know and especially with cooking. But of course John was still too tired from the journey and there were lots of food in the caribbean kitchen that was new to him as well. Maybe, when he’d gotten a little stronger, he’d take pleasure in exploring all the new fruits and fishes the island could offer. But right now, cooking or other household duties were not good conversation subjects.

He asked John to leave the dishes for the morning and the man just put the food away. James took to the salon, but to his surprise, John didn’t come. He went back to the kitchen and saw the man sitting by the table, apparently mending a shirt.

”Why aren’t you coming to the salon?”
”Beg pardon?”
”I thought we could sit in salon after supper. Will you not join me?”
”Me? In the salon?”

John looked completely taken aback and James frowned.

”This is your home now, John. You can be in any room you like. You’re my husband, not my servant. Now, come with me. The light is better in there as well and I don’t want you to strain your eyes by stitching in the darkness.”

Sitting in the salon was no less straining than having a meal together. John sat like he’d swallowed a fire poker and kept his eyes on the needle. James escaped to a glass of scotch and a book. He was half on his mind to offer John a drink too, to soften him up a little, but considering how unused he was with liqor, he’d probably just feel sick again. They read and sewed in silence, only listening to the cracking fire, the sound of pages turning in James’ book and the night animals outside who began their activity now. James was just about to tell John about the magnificant White-tailed Tropicbird with the long tail who sounded almost like whistling human, but then he saw that the man’s hands had gone still and the curly head hung heavy. John was asleep.

TBC

Chapter Text

The man standing just slightly behind Billy Bones was definately not as tall as is husband, but to John’s slight discomfort he was exactly as tall as James, which was almost two inches taller than John and left him the shortest. Billy nudged at the man.

”Come forward, husband.”

His voice was as stern as his looks and the man approached. He was pretty, John had to admit. The blonde hair fell down his shoulders in beautiful, sunbleached waves, his short beard was well-groomed and the bright blue eyes were warm and friendly.

”Ben, this is James’ husband, John Silver.”

A slightly floury hand took John’s and Ben’s sunny face broke into a light smile.

”Good day, John and welcome to Nassau. My name’s Ben Gunn and I’m, of course, Mr. Bones’ indoor husband. Allow me to congratulate you to your marriage.”
”Thank you, Mr. Gunn.”
”Just Ben. We don’t have to use titles with each other. I hope you’ll enjoy Nassau. I know it’s a bit strange at first, but once you get used to it, it’s a really fine place.”
”I imagine it is.”

Ben gave him another smile and then made a small, but respectful bow to James, before going back to his husband’s side. He tugged his shirt a little and Billy leaned down with furrowed eyebrows to listen. Then he nodded and turned to look at James again.

”My husband is making a steak today. Would you care to have supper with us tonight?”
”Thank you, we’d love to.”

Billy nodded.

”Around seven.”
”Thank you, Billy. Ben.”

James nodded too and then they left. John didn’t know whether he’d feel relieved or not. He was used to formal tones, but not this kind. An indoor spouse clearly wasn’t a slave in the way John had been at the Ashe’s, but the respectful distance Ben kept to his outdoor husband and how he bowed to James before turning to John, left no room for questions. Obedience was the key, but unlike the slaves in Ashe’s household, Ben looked healthy and well nourished. John had no illusions about eating as well as he’d done these first days from the filled basket, but considering how Ben looked, it seemed as if an indoor spouse didn’t necessarily lived on bread, salted herring and potatos all the time.

Back at the house, John immediately took to the dishes. It felt a little easier, doing something familiar, but to his great malaise, his stomach still didn’t seem to cooperate with him. It wasn’t just his stomach today. His whole body felt weird, as if he’d woke up a number or two bigger than usual. It reminded him a little about his youth, the time between childhood and manhood when his body seemed to grow by every day and his voice was unsteady. It was about that time, when the cook had started to give him that strange, floral tea John secretly wished he’d never have to drink again. Thankfully, he’d not seen it in this kitchen, but perhaps it was given to him for this reason. His body behaved very strange at the moment and he actually missed the tea a little, because at least it was familiar.

He spent the rest of the morning mending clothes on the backporch, grateful for having something familiar to focus on. A lot of his husband’s shirts and trousers had loose buttons and smaller tears, and mending clothes was something John was quite skilled with. The air was a little cooler this day and it was relaxing to be left alone. He didn’t know what his husband was doing and he didn’t care to know. It wasn’t his place to ask about such things. If the Captain wanted him to know, he’d tell him and no one liked a slave or servant who spoke before being spoken to.

After the midday meal, once again made from the food from the gift basket and eaten in silent discomfort, the Captain told him to rest. The aloof man was not mean to him in any way, he didn’t even speak hard to him and hadn’t beaten him yet. John assumed that meant he wasn’t a complete disaster yet or, more likely, that his husband was an extremely patient man. And good Lord, it was wonderful to be allowed, even ordered, to rest. It was strange not to be fucked of course, but maybe his husband was too tired from the journey as well and wished to wait until tonight.

John most certainly didn’t look forward to it. To be perfectly honest, he dreaded it. He knew what was expected, of course, but the pain would be huge and although John was pretty good with keeping tears and screams away when being beaten, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep silent while having a cock mercilessly shoven up his ass. If he was lucky, his husband would  use enough oil not to make him bleed too much. The man had said they didn’t need to rush into it and of course it wasn’t very appealing with a husband who was currently too weak from the journey to fulfill his duties in a satisfying way. John was more than grateful to be left alone, but it was also unnerving not to know how his husband was thinking about this part. And being a bit unsteady, tired or a little feverish didn’t mean you couldn’t be fucked or suck a cock.

He didn’t recall falling asleep and when his husband carefully rubbed his shoulder, he sat up so quickly he got dizzy.

”Easy, John. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
”God… How long have I slept?”
”About five hours.”
”Five hours?!”

Oh no. This couldn’t be… He’d slept like a lazy dog during the day insted of tending to his duties! John couldn’t help but whimper and he hid his face in his hands.

”I’m so sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to sleep this long and usually I never do, I swear!”
”Jesus… Stop crouching like that, John! You’re tired from the journey and the new climate, of course you had to sleep. In fact, I’m glad you did, because otherwise you’d probably fall asleep at Billy’s and Ben’s dinner table tonight.”
”You’re… you’re not angry with me, sir?”
”Why on Earth would I be that? And please, stop calling me sir. It’s James or husband.”
”I’m sorry, but I’ve never called anyone husband before. Or James.”

The man laughed and shook his head. Then, to John’s great surprise, he stroke his curls in an friendly, almost gentle way.

”No, I figure you haven’t, little poodle. And I realise you’ve never been invited to dinner before either, right?”

John shook his head, too taken aback to answer. His fearsome husband looked at him in a way John couldn’t read. He didn’t seem angry or displeased, thou.

”I’ve put clothes for you on the chair and there’s hot water in the basin for you so you can fresh up a little. I’ll wait in the hallway for you.”

John stared at the man as he left the room. Little poodle? This was… No, there was no use to even try to make sense of this right now. Instead he left the bed and took his clothes off, washing himself with the hot water and a piece of luxurious soap. The clothes he was supposed to wear was far too nice for a slave, but so had his wedding clothes been. The brownstriped shirt wasn’t in the usual linen material, but felt softer and lighter against his skin and the black trousers had a thick belt embellished with details in metal.

The boots were clearly not cheap ones either and John could hardly believe his eyes when looking in the mirror on the dresser to comb his hair. The man looking back at him didn’t look like John Silver, but as something almost reminding of a… well, not gentleman, but definately not a house slave. He made sure his face and neck looked clean and then he stroke back his disobedient curls in a hard tail to the neck before going out to his husband in the hallway. To his horror, the man frowned.

”Why did you do that?”
”I’m… I’m sorry, husband, I don’t understand?”
”Your hair. You’ve hidden it.”
”I… I thought it would be more… tidy this way. Was it wrong?”
”No… no, my dear, it’s not wrong. But your hair is beautiful and it would be a pity to hide it away.”

There was no way he could find out a proper answer to that, but he quickly untied his hair and combed it with his fingers before looking at his husband.

”Is… is it better like his?”
”Much better. Have a look.”

He pointed at the mirror and when John went to look, the man came up behind him and opened a small leather case, folded with dark blue satin. John just starred in disbelief when his husband took up a thin silver necklace with a pendant engraved with the pattern of a dragon holding a rose in its claws and put around his neck.

”Jesus…”
”It’s a slightly delayed wedding gift.”
”For me?”
”No, silly poodle. For my other husband I married right after our wedding. Of course it’s for you. Do you like it?”
”It’s… absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much, husband.”

He’d said the right thing. His husband’s smile was content and he nodded at the door.

”Shall we?”

TBC

Chapter Text

”He looks like he’s expecting punishment for his sole existence.”
”If I only knew why.”

James was standing in Billy’s salon, sharing a drink with his old friend as their indoor husbands stayed in the small drawing-room. James suspected John would find it easier to talk to Ben, than sitting like a mute fire poker in the salon with twice as many horrifying men than usual. Billy didn’t seem to be the least surprised.

”I told you, James. He’s shit scared and you’ll need a lot of patience.”
”Patience never was my best skill.”
”Well, now you have the perfect opportunity to get some practice.”
”Very funny, Bones. I tell you, this is really unnerving.”
”Then imagine how it must be for John. Do you want to make him more scared?”
”Of course not.”
”Then don’t show him you’re nervous.”
”I’m not nervous!”
”Oh really?”

Billy smirked as he finished his drink.

In the drawing-room, placed closer to the kitchen where the dinner was almost done, John was sitting with Ben by a small table, sipping on a drink. The blonde man with blue eyes was the first person John had met who was in a similar position as himself and he wanted to ask all sort of questions, but it wasn’t really a good time. Ben, however, seemed to understand exactly how nervous John was, and what his flickering glances meant.

”It’s quite a shock, isn’t it? This place.”

John laughed. A shock was an understatement to say the least.

”It is. I’ve lived my whole life in London.”
”Yeah, Billy told me. I presume this is the longest journey you’ve ever done.”
”Never even sat foot outside the town before, so apart from going to church, this is the only journey I’ve ever done.”
”Fuck, that’s a bit hard. Was sea sick myself when I sailed from Scotland, but we made several stops on the way.”
”You’re Scotsman?”
”Can’t tell from my dialect?”
”Haven’t met a Scotsman before. I was a house slave, so I rarely left the house and my master and mistress didn’t have any Scotsmen in their circles or among the servants and slaves.”
”I see. But you don’t strike me as British, really.”
”They say my mother was from the south. Uhm… How did you end up here?”

The friendly man’s smile darkened a little.

”I was the last survivor of a pirate crew after a shipwreck just outside Tortuga. The ship that found me was a slave ship and they sold me and other people they’d captured when they reached Nassau. I was sold off to the inn to be a molly, but the place was short for a cook and… well, I knew how to cook.”
”So, you didn’t work as a molly then?”
”No, thank God. Then some months later these matelotage laws came to pass and a lot of free people who wanted to keep their businesses and remain citizens, started to search for spouses. Billy took a fancy in my cooking and, well, then he married me.”

John bit his lip.

”I didn’t know you could marry another man. When my master told me I was to be sold, I thought I was to be taken to another house in London in a week or so. That’s how it’s usually done. Instead the family seamstress started to take measures and an old friend to my master who was visiting, said I was to be married. To an, as she put it, old, barbaric goat in New Providence. The next day I was on the ship.”
”Jesus…”

Ben Gunn’s face was filled with nothing but deepest sympathy.

”How cruel! They didn’t prepare you for this at all?”
”No. How’s this legal here? Two men being… I don’t understand. Or how you can be both spouse and slave at the same time.”
”We’re not slaves, John.”
”Aren’t we property?”
”Yes, but our husbands have obligations. The law states they have to make sure we have a roof over our heads and they need to provide for us and protect us. Then, of course, there’s the unwritten rules.”
”Unwritten rules?”
”A sort of honour code. Guess you could call it the Nassau version of gentlemanship.”
”And what does that mean?”
”That an outdoor spouse takes pride in seeing his or her indoor spouse obey without cruelty. You’re not a slave, John, you’re an indoor spouse who’s primary duty is to obey and bring honour to your husband and your home. You’re not supposed to work yourself to death or starve and it’s actually not legal to kill us.”
”It’s not?”

He’d been confused every waking moment since the day in Mrs. Hudson’s room all those weeks ago and the time he’d spent in Nassau had been one of equally much distress, confusion, discomfort and pleasant and interresting things. To know that his husband didn’t have the right to kill or starve him was a big surprise. Ben smiled.

”Don’t worry, John. You’ll understand and adjust in time and your husband is not a cruel man. I’m sure he understands how strange all this is to you. And you can always talk to me. Indoor spouses can visit each other without there outdoor spouses, you know.”
”They can?”
”Of course. I was really excited when Billy told me his former Captain was getting married to a man close to my age. Since we’re neighbours I’m sure our husbands have it in mind to let us see each other so I can show you how the indoor life works here.”

John was so relieved he almost got teary-eyed. Ben rose from the couch and took John’s empty glass.

”You want to come with me to the kitchen or wait in the salon with our husbands?”
”Can I come with you?”
”Of course. They’re probably just talking about ships and the consortium and frankly, that’s fucking depressing to listen to.”

TBC

Chapter Text

John had hated his former master, but he had to admit it had it’s benefits to have seen how noble people ate and behaved. Scared or not, John was a quick learner and he had a table manners as good as lord Ashe’s daughter, who was a proper lady. But it was a very strange and, to be honest, quite uncomfortable thing to sit in a dining room and being served. James had explained to him that due to the etiquette, John was as much of a guest as James and he shouldn’t help out with anything.

The three course menu was nothing but delicious and John did his best to eat slowly. When being asked if he wanted a second plate of the main dish, he was so surprised he hardly knew where to look. He didn’t want to seem greedy or wanting, so he told Ben how delicious it tasted and politely declined a second plate. The steak had tasted even better than the one he’d had on his wedding day and the peach puff with cream for dessert was by far the best thing he’d ever tasted in his life.

During the dinner, Ben told him about Nassau and it’s beautiful nature. It was a safe conversation subject that didn’t dug into John’s previous life or how he was settling. And it really was exciting to hear about all the strange birds, beasts and plants on the island. For the first time, John felt more curious than scared about something in this place.

After finishing the dessert, Ben began to take out the dishes and John asked to help, which he couldn’t. But he could keep Ben company in the kitchen and hear about some of the herbs he used for tea. John didn’t know anything about such things, but came to think about the awful brew he’d had back in England. Although he didn’t want to ask directly about it, since it felt somehow private, he carefully asked if there was some blueish plants on the island Ben used for tea, but the man couldn’t come to think of any and then John had to tell him about the tea.

”How does it taste?”
”Awful.”

The man laughed.

”Then why drink it? If you want tea, then make a kind you enjoy, John. What’s the point of drinking something you don’t like if you don’t have to?”

Of course, that was a good point, and John dropped the subject. He really hated the brew, but his stomach had behaved strange since he came ashore and not in the usual way that forced you to spend endless time on the privy. Maybe he was just nervous.

As nice and curtious as Billy Bones and Ben Gunn were, John couldn’t help but feeling both tired and uncomfortable. The other three men he hardly knew seemed completely relaxed with this. Men being married and living together as if it was the most natural thing in the world. And yet, for only a few weeks ago, John had lived in a place where something like this wasn’t even heard of and anything reminding about it was punishable by death. In a place where John had been a slave who’d never get married or have a home of his own. He’d never had wine, never wore delicate fabrics or jewlery. Never be invited to dinner or being allowed to rest during day.

John was adjustable and quite good at reading other people, but in this environment and with these men, he was completely lost. Which role was his to play? Was he to be some kind of wife to James? But if so, why hadn’t the man gotten himself a proper woman? What was the difference between a wife and a indoor spouse? And apart from cleaning, doing laundry and being fucked, what was his role? He couldn’t bare children, didn’t know how to cook and even if Ben had explained that he wasn’t a slave and James treated him almost like he was a blushing bride, being more kind to him than anyone ever had been, the full realisation of just how completely upside down this was, suddenly struck him with full force.

”John? What’s the matter? Are you unwell?”

Unwell? He felt completely lost, scared and uprooted and above all that, his body had turned against him as well. John left the kitchen without answering Ben and went outside. He threw up just beside the front porch and tears streamed down his face like a fucking floodgate. Why was he here? Why him? Why this man? Was it all a cruel joke from lord Ashe? Did the Captain and his friends play a trick on him, pretending this upside down world existed, only to have a good laugh at his expence later? Why had he been married off to a man? Marriages between men didn’t exist! And why had no one told him about this strange place before?

”John?”

James came to sit down next to him and unwillingly, John crouched. He expected a hard tug in his hair, a slap on his cheek or maybe a kick on the chin but instead he felt his husband’s arm around his shoulders, pulling him close.

”John, dear, are you listening to me?”
”I’m so-so-sorry, husband! You’ve been so kind to me and Billy and Ben too, and I just… Please don’t punish me in front of them! I don’t know what I’m…”
”Husband, please. Just listen to me. Breathe and listen. Ben just told me you wasn’t prepared at all. For the marriage. Is that true?”
”Yes. I found out the day before the boat left.”
”Oh, fuck…”
”Please, I’ll adjust, I promise! Please don’t send me back to him!”
”Of course I wont send you back, John. Don’t be stupid. But I have to ask, and you must tell me the truth: did you even know that marriage between two men existed?”
”No!”
”Christ… Asked for a man with blue eyes and dark hair. Maybe I should’ve been more specific, but I took for granted that Woodes Rogers apparently not so reliable friend Peter Ashe knew I meant a man who was prepared to be the indoor spouse of another man. Oh, don’t cry, John, it’s not your fault. This is hardly an ideal situation, but we have to make the best of it.”
”I’m so sorry for ruining the dinner.”
”You didn’t ruin anything. You’ve behaved well and I should’ve asked you more about your life. I just took for granted that you knew a little about what to expect.”
”The closest I’ve been to a dinner table is when I’ve polished it.”
”And of course you’ve never had wine either…”

James suddenly laughed.

”Well… John Silver. This is hardly an ideal situation for any of us, but at least I understand you a little now. I’ll ask Billy to let Ben teach you about cooking and guide you around the indoor spouse places on the island. And as soon as my duties allows it, I’ll show you the rest of it.”
”You’re not angry with me, husband?”
”Not at all. But I’d like to keelhaul Peter Ashe.”
”Will Mr. Bones and Mr. Gunn be very angry with me?”
”Of course not. I’ll explain it to them and I’m sure Ben will be a very good help for you to adjust. But at the moment, I think you need to sleep, little poodle. I’ll take you home.”

TBC

Chapter Text

He was avoiding him. Hardly something you were expected to do this early in the marriage, but he couldn’t stand being near him. James sighed and waved at the wench with the tray.

”Another rum, please.”
”Aye, sir.”

He’d made excuses for three days now, had both dinner and supper at the inn. Since his duties at the Guthries office really took a ridiculous amount of time at the moment, leaving very little time to spend at home, maybe not all of it were only excuses, but enough of it to make James admit it to himself. It was unnerving to be near his husband and unfortunately, Ben wasn’t around to help him at the moment since Max Marliot, Eleanor Guthries indoor wife, was in the midst of a big and heavy work with coloring fabrics that took days. Being an indoor spouse didn’t mean you couldn’t have a work as long as it didn’t affect the home duties badly or made the outdoor spouse look bad. But you couldn’t count on any help with it, unless someone else was willing to lend out his or her indoor spouse. Fortunately, Billy Bones wasn’t stingy when it came to let Ben Gunn help good friends. When that colouring work was done, Billy had promised to let Ben introduce John to both the town and the indoor spouse life.

James took a gulp one could only call angry. He was avoiding his own home and his newly wedded husband deliberately. Since the dinner at Billy and Ben and John’s little breakdown where he’d told James about his total lack of preparation for the marriage, the man had walked around with a constant face of fear and disgust. Had he even lust for men? If not, then this marriage was doomed for real. John knew how it worked between two men, but did it mean he wanted a man himself?

All of this was James own fault. Well, first of all that fucker Woodes Rogers and his damn marital laws that prevented free men and women from having a trade if they weren’t married. A peace treaty that had seemed just when it was striked, but right now James wasn’t so sure that it had been worth it.

He could sell John, of course, wich was an even more disgusting thought. James had never embraced the slave society and if there was one thing Nassau could take real pride in except for the acknowledge of same sex marriages, it was the ban against slavery and automatic female submission. Since about ten years, your status in Nassau wasn’t about your colour, your sex or even sexual interests. Rogers demands for striking the deal with the now former pirates, had been that if gender, sexual interest or colour would no longer be counted as a measure of your place in society, something else had to. Equality and marriage was a contradiction in itself and the deal that was struck, allowed relationships the rest of the civilized world condemned, as long as they bowed to the nature law of diversed roles, duties and rights. In other words: if you wanted the benefits, you had to pay the price.

To deliberately delay this marriage by making ridiculous demands on looks and birth country, James had escaped the deal for a long time and now his years in absolute freedom laughed at him while fading away. And his poor, unfortunate husband cried. Avoiding him was the best thing James could come up with to make both their lives more barable at the moment. And still, John had begged him not to sell him, so what kind of life had the man lived until now if he prefered this? Oh yes: the one of a slave.

James gritted his teeth. He had to get back home now.

”Evening, Captain.”

He looked up.

”Mrs. Guthrie. Good evening.”

The blonde, brilliant and beautiful woman sat down and ordered an ale. She was, as always, as beautiful as practical dressed with the brown leather west over her blouse, and broad belt with keys and purse hanging along with knife and a gun. Considering the beauty she’d married, those weapons came well in hand when people who were unfamiliar with the laws on this island came to visit and thought you could grab ass unpunished. Eleanor got her ale and took a gulp.

”You look as grim as English weather. Shouldn’t you be at home with your husband? From what I’ve heard, he’s a real beauty.”
”We all know how you feel about dark curls, ma’m and who could blame you. Mrs. Marliot is as beutiful as she’s smart.”

Eleanor smiled.

”Too smart for my own good, Captain. But rather that than a boring governor.”
”And to be honest, you’d never made a good indoor wife.”
”Not in a thousand years, Captain. How’s your curlyheaded husband settling?”
”Well enough, but he got badly sick during the journey, so he’s still a bit unsteady and tired.”
”Understandable. Never been at sea before?”
”No.”

He wasn’t going to give away any information about exactly how unsteady and nervous John was. More than once, the man cluthed his stomach as if he still felt nauseous and sleeping in the same bed was equal to, if not ruined so at least disturbed sleep. After the dinner at Billy and Ben, the man had puked twice more and the other night he’d cried in his pillow, unbeknownst that James was awake and didn’t know how to comfort him. Eleanor sighed.

”I’m sorry things are taking so long, but you know my father… Every fucking detail must be looked into and we both appreciate your help.”
”And I’m happy to provide it.”

The different treaties with partners and the way the trading were handled really needed to be gone over. Richard Guthrie, the retired governor, had been a good ruler but not as good with the islands trading partners and this meant a lot of work for both the new governor, Woodes Rogers, as well as Richard Guthrie’s daughter Eleanor, who’d spent most of her childhood in meetings instead of the nursery and probably was a more skilled business person than the two men combined. But when it came to ships and sailing, the true expertis on the island were James, Charles Vane and Anne Bonny. The latter was married to Jack Rackham, who’d left his captaincy after catching a lung illness, in order to be an indoor spouse on the same terms as James’ old sailingmaster DeGroot.

If an outdoor spouse turned ill, the indoor spouse could take over his or her role as the provider while the outdoor spouse took to the household. That was the case with DeGroot and Joji, who now worked as a sword smitter while DeGroot stayed at home, cooking, cleaning and mending their garden. Of course, DeGroot was still in charge and Joji still wore his collar, but with the mark that showed his status. The same went for Anne Bonny, who sailed Jack Rackham’s ship Colonial Dawn as Charles Vane’s business partner.

James finished his drink and rose.

”I have to get home to him now.”
”Give our husband my regards. I’m looking forward to meet him soon.”
”I will. As soon as he’s a bit more steady and used to the climate change, I’ll take him down here.”
”Good. Have a pleasant evening, Captain.”
”You too, Mrs. Guthrie.”

The woman’s insinuating smile would’ve made him smile back if he didn’t know how unpleasant his – and John’s – evening probably would be and he left the inn before someone else could bump into him and ask questions he didn’t want to answer.

He hadn’t gotten any horses yet, it had been too many other things to attend to, and James enjoyed a good walk even without the excuse of avoiding a scared husband who didn’t want his company. But now he saw the house and the light in the kitchen. When he came closer, he saw John sitting at the table, mending clothes while waiting for him. James felt a stinge of bad conscience. He was well more than three hours late for supper and the man didn’t know when to expect him home. He opened the door and John immediately showed up in the hallway.

”Welcome home, husband.”
”Sorry for being so late.”

He gave John a shallow kiss on cheek, and the man twitched a little. Maybe endearments of that kind wasn’t a good idea at all.

The kitchen table was set with two plates and cups and James frowned.

”Have you not eaten yet?”
”I was waiting for you, of course.”

John looked as if the very idea of him eating alone was preposterous and James was too tired to have a discussion about this now. Maybe it would be better when John could spend some time with Ben. Surely that man could explain these things far better than James.

They ate in silence, it was still only cold meat and bread from Ben’s basket and John served a tea that tasted so bland James couldn’t hide his surprise.

”Exactly what did you do with this?”
”I… brewed it?”
”You absolutely did not. Can’t you feel how blend it tastes?”
”I… I’ve never had this tea before. I don’t know how it’s suppose to taste.”

James just starred at him.

”You don’t know how to make tea?”
”No… I wasn’t permitted in the kitchen apart from mealtimes and to deliver things.”

Had it been any, literally any other person than John Silver saying that, James would’ve laughed at the obvious joke. But he certainly didn’t feel like laughing right now. He put down the cup with the bleak, blend brew.

”Are you telling me you don’t know how to make bread, pluck a chicken, cook a stew or boil an egg?”
”I don’t. I… I had no idea this was expected of me, sir. I’ve chopped wood, scrubbed floors, made beds, mended clothes and washed linens, sir, but the closest I ever came to the stove was to rake out the ashes.”

Oh, perfect. Now he was crying again. James felt he had little patience with this right now and he left the table to get himself some ale. He patted John’s shoulder and the man immediately froze. James sighed.

”Please, stop crouching like that and don’t call me sir… We’re both too tired to deal with this right now, John, and especially you, it seems. Did you not rest?”
”I did, husband, and I’m so sorry I…”
”Stop bloody apologizing all the time!”

What a good way to handle an already scared and crying man. James could’ve kicked himself for it when he saw the man crouch, like he was expecting to be beaten. He forced himself to sound as calm and soft as possible.

”I’m sorry for blurting out like that, husband. I can be a bit… irritable when I’m tired, but I’m in no way angry with you. I realise it’s not your fault you haven’t been prepared for this… at all. Why don’t you go to bed. You look exhausted.”
”But the dishes… I should…”
”Go to bed, John.”
”Yes, husband. I’m sorry for this.”
”Don’t be. Just sleep.”

The crouching man took to the bed chamber and closed the door. James sighed and poured himself a large cup of ale. He’d wondered why the man had served him that for breakfast, but been far to occupied with the consortium problems to put any real thought into it. He deserved a slap in the face for not asking questions. And when it came to a certain lord Ashe, keelhauling or maybe hanging upside down like a human Jolly Roger during a longer journey in rough weather seemed like a fitting punishment.

TBC

Chapter Text

During the previous visit at Bones’ house, John had been too focused on behaving properly, to really notice how perfect Ben Gunn’s kitchen was. The grumpy cook at the Ashe’s would’ve been blushing from shame, seeing the clean working table, the shiny cups and all the clever ways Ben used to keep rats and other vermin away from the food.

”I never make large quantities of anything that’s best when it’s fresh, unless it’s necessairy. Hate to waste food and you never know if there’s a bad harvest, sickness or storms coming that cuts off deliveries from the inland.”

The man gave his pantry an almost tender look and then he noticed John’s questioning face and laughed.

”I’m sorry, I keep forgetting how strange it must be for you to even see a man dealing with domestic labour, not to mention have it as his main duty. Lets have some tea first.”

The strong brew had a lovely taste of some sort of fruit and Ben put a plate with swirled pastries at the table.

”You ever had one of these?”
”No, I can’t say I have. What is it?”
”Try it and see for yourself.”

John took one of the strange breads and had a small bite. Nothing but a minor explosion of sweet, fresh and exotic spices hit his tongue and the blonde, blueeyed man smiled widely.

”Your face expression right now is the only verdict I need.”
”Sweet Jesus, what is this?!”
”Cinnamon, vanilla, wheat, fresh milk, sugar and butter.”

John starred at the grinning man. This was food for nobles, for fucks sake! He immediately put the breadroll down. Ben nodded at it.

”Eat it, John. Our husbands have explained a little about your life in England, so I understand more about how strange this is to you. But trust me, it’s absolutely allowed for an indoor spouse to eat cinnamon buns and have properly made tea. We’re not supposed to eat shitty food if it’s not necessairy and indoor spouses eat just as well and much as outdoor spouses. I assume the dinner was a bit of a shock to you.”
”The dinner. This place. My husband. Everything…”

He swallowed.

”I’ve lived on turnip stew, barleycorn porridge and black bread with lard for nearly thirty years, Ben. I’d never even seen the ocean close before I was put on that ship, I only left the house to attend service.”
”And you had no idea marriage between men even existed… Your former master must’ve been one of the biggest assholes in London.”
”Ben!”
”What? He is.”
”But… you can’t speak like that. Can you?”
”Just did, didn’t I?”

Ben smiled wickedly and collected his hair in a tail.

”You realise you hold no duties towards your former master anymore now, right? Peter Ashe is not one of your husband’s friends and in my kitchen we can speak as much shit about that asshole as we want to. If Billy was here, he’d agree.”
”He… He would?”
”You should’ve heard him when James came to speak to us. I believe ’pig cunt’ and ’lord shit eater’ were among the nicer words my husband used to describe your former master.”

John coughed out his tea and Ben patted his back.

”Easy on the tea, John. If you end up shoking on my food instead of learning how to cook it, your husband will most likely have me skinned alive. And then, my husband will kill him and well… that seems like a bit high of a price to pay for a cup of tea and a pastry, don’t you agree?”

John laughed. It was a bright, easy sound that even surprised himself. Then, without warning, tears streamed down his face for the umpteenth time these strange weeks that had passed since he cried down his wedding bouquet with white roses. And he kept laughing. And cried. Couldn’t seem to stop and Ben laughed too and shook his head.

”As fucked up as this must be to you, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it, John. Possibly even come to like it a little.”

Spending the morning in Ben Gunns kitchen was the most pleasant thing John had done since… well, he didn’t care to remember, actually. The man didn’t act smug or mocked John’s total lack of cooking skills at all, but explained things with patience and friendly smiles in his Scottish dialect.

It was decided that James and John were to have their midday and evening meals at their neighbours until John knew enough to make some of the easier dishes on his own. Ben quickly realised that not only didn’t John know how to cook. His experience with different flavours and spices was, as the skilled indoor spouse put it, ”limited even for an Englishman” and the Scotsman cursed both English and Scottish soil for some of their dishes.

”When I got married, I prayed to God for not making Billy ask for haggis and bean pottage on daily basis, preferably not at all.”
”And how did the Lord answer you?”
”In the best way imaginable. Unless we’re left with no other options, those dishes will never be prepared in this kitchen. The lack of spices in English and Scottish food is a pure insult to God.”

John couldn’t help but comment on that.

”And what of the sin of sodomy?”
”Mashing a sheeps insides and wrap it in the poor creatures own belly and call it food, is a far greater sin than cock up the ass and an insult to the sheep as well. Every sane person ought to understand that.”

Well. Ben Gunn was the one who could cook, so who was John to argue with that? The midday meal was fried fish with lemon gravy and Ben put John to peel potatos while showing him how to clean fish with the sharpest knife John had ever seen.

In fact, Ben’s belt was full of deadly sharp tools no English house slave would be allowed to carry around. He moved around his kitchen like he was a cook in a castle or something, and John slowly realised the man was proud of, even liked his pots and pans. And the way he cleaned the fish told John this man would probably be able to slit and clean out a man just as easy, should he need to. Ben noticed he was staring and smiled a little, like he knew what John was thinking.

”How’s Billy allowing his little male wife to carry deadly tools around like this…”

The man’s tone was amused, higly excessive and very, very Scottish. John blushed, embarressed of the fact that he was so easy to read. Ben placed lemon and herbs on the fish and put the pot with potatos on the stove.

”If I had a reason to slit my husband’s throat, I wouldn’t be doing this, John. Obedience isn’t equal to cruelty.”
”And if it was?”

Ben just looked at him with undecipherable eyes.

”Then I’d be serving Billy haggis and bean pottage for the rest of our lives.”

TBC

Chapter Text

It was difficult to decide if Captain Flint was more intimidating than Billy Bones, or the other way around. They were both very serious men and, John suspected, used to be obeyed. John was skilled in obedience, but only when it was clear to him how he was expected to behave. When he knew that and knew the best way to do it, he was a part of the furniture. Just another piece in his masters environment to be used, sometimes seen and preferably never heard.

But this, to obey a husband, was another thing. Ben’s explanations – and even more his calm and friendly company – had been more soothing than any of John’s husband’s words or actions. The breathtaking silver necklace he’d let John wear at the dinner, was back in the satin folder leather case and John wondered if he’d be allowed to wear it again sometime. ”It’s a slightly delayed wedding gift.”  Those were the exact words the Captain had used, but of course it must mean that John should wear it on special occasions to honour his husband. John hadn’t dared to ask.

Since this midday meal wasn’t an invitation, but more of a cooking lesson, John joined Ben to serve their husbands. Indoor spouses cooked and served their outdoor spouses and didn’t sit down until their significant other had his or her plate and cup filled and had started to eat. John was too nervous to make a plate for himself and Ben solved it by doing it for him. Neither Billy Bones or the Captain were big talkers during mealtime and Ben seemed to be perfectly comfortable with that. John kept his mouth shut and his eyes opened, looking at Ben, his own plate and his husband’s plate and cup, to know when it was time to ask if he wanted more ale or food.

Usually, the outdoor spouses used to have a rest before they went back to work, but today both Billy and the Captain were very busy and had to get back to the consortium and the harbour as soon as possible. Ben asked when they’d be back for supper and asked if he could take John with him to the market later. Billy looked at his blonde husband.

”Do you need anything at the market?”
”No, not really.”
”Then it’s a no, Ben.”
”Of course, husband.”
”But, if James allows it, you may take a walk to the bay.”

The Captain nodded.

”That’s alright with me, but I’ll have to get the collar first.”

John froze. He’d almost forgotten about that. The collar. Of course he had to use it outside home, but since he didn’t have to wear it in Billy’s and Ben’s house, the notion that he had to wear a dog’s item in public, had slipped his mind. And that Billy refused Ben to visit the market felt strangely offensive. Maybe it was the contrast between the confident way Ben ruled his kitchen and the reminder of how powerless the man really was. That a man who was nothing less than a master cook, had to ask for permission to take a walk and wear a collar like a dog.

When the Captain returned with the collar, Billy had already locked Ben’s around the man’s neck. The giant gave his husband a shallow kiss on the hair and something that almost reminded of a smile. John’s husband was gentle when he put the collar on, but he didn’t kiss him, not even a slight brush on cheek and he frowned. John swallowed. Had he misbehaved in some way? Was his husband displeased? Maybe he didn’t want John to visit the bay?

”Behave properly now, John.”
”I-I’ll do my best, husband.”
”You stay with Ben the whole time and don’t wander off. I’ll see you tonight.”
”Thank you, husband.”

The outdoor spouses left and Ben patted his shoulder.

”Relax, John, they’re gone for the day now.”
”Why can’t you go to the market?”
”Because Billy said no.”
”But if you wear the collar…”
”John, you have to understand one thing.”

Ben looked at him with serious eyes.

”I don’t have a say in this. There’s no room for debate if our husbands make a decision we don’t like. Oh well… maybe if Billy should tell me to destroy perfectly edible food or make clothes too small for him, then I’d argue because you can’t let your husband get away with sheer stupidity, but if he says I’m not to leave the house, then I don’t question it without a good fucking reason.”
”And what’s a good fucking reason?”
”If the house is on fire or he’s in danger and I have to save his sorry ass. But otherwise, he makes the decisions and I obey.”
”What happens if you don’t?”
”Well, he punishes me, of course.”

John swallowed. If this perfect man was punished, then just how sorry would John’s ass be if he didn’t behave? Ben bit his lip.

”Look, now I’ve scared you, John and that wasn’t my intention, but it’s not as if we’ve not been punished by masters in the past, right?”
”That’s what scares me. And you have to excuse me, but this really sounds like a slave thing, not a spouse thing.”
”Women get beaten by their husbands in England, Scotland and I guess all over the so called civilized world and no one bats an eye. We’re not women, but we’re indoor husbands who take to many of the traditional female duties. We’re the men who obey and our husbands have every right to discipline us, with one major difference.”
”And what’s that?”
”The law states that our husbands must provide us with shelter, food and protection.”
”Yes, and?”
”Well, if you beat your spouse senseless, you’re not much of a protector, are you?”

John guessed he looked just as confused as he felt, because Ben squeezed his shoulder a little and then went to put out the small cooking fire.

”Come on, John, let’s get done with this so we can take to the beach. And don’t think too much about this discipline thing. I don’t know your husband in person, but I know Billy wouldn’t be friends with a cruel man.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The bay was by far the most beautiful place John had seen in his entire life. When first arriving with the ship, he’d been too nervous to find peace in anything but the thoughts of jumping to his death at the rocks in the water, and therefore hadn’t really paid that much attention to the beach. Now, as he walked with Ben Gunn as his calm and confident guide, it was a whole different thing. The high palm trees moved softly in the cool breeze from the ocean and made the afternoon sun easier to stand.

Ben had wrapped a slightly wet cloth around John’s head as a protection against the heat, but didn’t cover his own head.

”I’m used to the sun and I rarely get burned so I don’t have to cover my head unless it’s around noon. It’s a very good thing you’re so dark, John, that’ll make it easier for you here, but I think it’s safest for now to cover your head. Have you been in the water yet, by the way?”
”No.”
”Then lets go.”

The man took his boots and socks off and turned up his trouser legs. John hesitated.

”Can I do this too?”
”Of course you can. Why wouldn’t you?”

John felt a bit irritated.

”I don’t know, Ben. Maybe because there’s a lot of stange fucking rules here that don’t make sense to me. I can’t leave the house without permission, but I’m allowed to bathe my fucking feet for fun. I’m not a slave, but I have no say in anything. My husband can’t beat me to death, but I’m still a possession. I have jewelry and clothes in fabrics that nobles wear and I can sit at a dining table as a guest, but in the same time I’m a servant. I can have liqor and the same food as my husband and yet I wear a collar like a dog… I’m… I’m just… I’m married to a man, Ben, for fucks sake! I’m not ungrateful, I’m just so…”
”Confused, scared, lonely and far away from all things familiar to you.”

The man’s smile was friendly and his blue eyes very serious. He sat down and patted next to him for John to sit down. He put an arm around his shoulders and John started to cry. He tried to apologies, but Ben just squeezed his shoulder gently.

”Believe me, I cried a lot in the beginning. And remember, unlike you I was prepared for this. Or, at least as prepared you can get. Cried on the journey, cried walking down the isle, cried as Billy took me home. Was practically a whimpering pile of Scottish flesh and bones and he was the biggest fucking man I’d ever seen apart from the fat quartermaster on the ship that brought me here. And unlike that man, Billy was both patient and handsome as fuck.”
”Christ… People get hanged in England for this!”
”Another good thing among many others we’re not in England, my friend.”
”But we’re men, Ben! Men can’t fucking marry other men!”
”So they say and yet, here we are, with rings and everything.”
”It’s a mortal sin. A crime against nature! It’s… disgusting, Ben.”

The man looked at him for a while, like he was scrutinizing his own words, looking for the right ones.

”Do you think I’m disgusting, John?”
”What? No, of course not!”
”What about Billy?”
”No, and even if I thought he was, you can’t bloody expect me to say it to your face. You’d deck me with your largest cooking pan.”

Ben chuckled.

”I probably would. But I don’t get this… When I was offered to Billy, my owner knew I preferred men. I mean, you told me you didn’t know that marriages between men existed, but I assumed you… took a fancy in men.”
”I don’t. I don’t have any… fancies of that kind.”
”Jesus…”

The man looked positively shocked.

”But… what about women then?”

John shook his head.

”I don’t fancy women either. I don’t have fancies, never had.”
”Sweet Mother of God… Does he know?”
”Who? God? If He knows, He most certainly doesn’t care.”
”No, stupid! Your husband.”
”Why would he care?”
”Uhm… maybe because it could be kind of hard to do your duties in bed…?”
”So? I only have to spread my legs, right?”

Ben just starred at him.

”I… I’m not really sure I’m allowed to talk like this with you, since it’s a very private matter between spouses, but you must tell your husband about this, John. I can’t do it, it’s not proper and I most certainly can’t talk to Billy.”
”Thank God for that!”
”Promise me you’ll talk to Mr. Flint. I mean this is… A man who’s to be the indoor spouse of another man is supposed to know about these things and most definately take a fancy in other men.”
”Well I don’t. I’ve never felt anything of the sort. Not with women, or with men.”
”You mean you’re like a… eunuch?”
”What’s that?”
”Sweet heavens… It’s a man who’s been castrated, John. Who’s had his balls cut off.”
”Holy shit!”

John immediately covered his crotch as if there was a knife pointing at his genitals this very moment and Ben sighed.

”Well, from your reaction at least it’s certain you’re not a eunuch. And no one will turn you into one, so you can stop covering your crotch. Fuck, this is the strangest conversation I’ve ever had…”
”Oh yeah? You’re feeling strange!? My heart goes out to you, Ben. What’s that? Oh, yeah… The sound of my sanity jumping from a cliff! Hell, why not marry…”

He looked around and his eyes fell on a grand parrot, grooming the colourful feathers, in the top of a palm tree.

”A parrot! Yeah, let’s marry a fucking parrot and live in a palm tree! How’s that for strangeness, Ben? May I introduce you to Mrs. Silver. She’s a bit shy and prefers to stay in her tree, but she’s quite the little housekeeper and she makes such wonderful tea!”
”Darling, that’s a male parrot, his name’s Sir Lancelot and he just took a shit on a coconut.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Whatever magical powers Ben Gunn possessed, they seemed to work. John still looked more or less scared, but it was clear that he’d became friends with Billy’s husband and James was more than grateful for that. The indoor husbands shared jokes and smiles, even laughed a little as they served the supper and Billy looked unusually pleased. James couldn’t help but thinking the man was a bit too strict on his pliable indoor husband, but who was he to judge? He’d only been married for some weeks.

Problem was, the magic ceased to work once James and John were on their way back home after once again having supper with the couple. James’ curlyheaded husband suddenly seemed very tired and he walked slowly. James, who also was tired after the long day, turned around and sighed.

”Will you please hurry up a little? You’re walking as if… John?”

The man was crying. Again. James had lost counting and he’d never been good at handling tears. Thomas would’ve known how to… No! He couldn’t start thinking about him. Not now. John shouldn’t remind about Thomas in any way. But the voice in James’ head didn’t shut up. John needed someone who could comfort him. Someone who was patient, loving and devoted. The man looked so terribly small and lonesome, crying silently while walking some steps behind James. This was just too much. James waited for his husband to up walk to him and then he carefully pulled him close.

”What’s the matter, little poodle?”

No answer except for more tears and James realised the man probably was exhausted. A sudden wave of tenderness rushed through James’ body as he hold his husband in his arms and he buried his face in the curls.

”John, my dear, what can I do to help you? I can see you’re unhappy and I don’t want you to feel miserable. Are you tired? Was it too much for you, being with Ben all day?”
”No… No, he’s so kind. You all are, but…”
”But what, little poodle?”
”I… I’m not feeling well, husband.”
”Are you ill?”

James quickly lay a hand on his forehead, but he didn’t seem feverish. Just so very tired. John sighed.

”I don’t think so, I just feel… overly sensitive. Usually I’m really, really not one to cry this much, husband. I honestly don’t know why I do ’cause you’ve been nothing but kind to me…”

Another wave of tears followed and John leaned against his chest, holding on to his coat. Every last ounce of irritation left James and he forgot all about how he’d wanted to get home quickly and have some time on his own, reading in peace and quiet as John fell asleep. The only thing that interested him now, was to make John stop crying and have him smile a little. James entangled his fingers in the curly hair and caressed the head.

”Sweet husband, I realise how strange and difficult this is for you, but you should know that you can talk freely about it with me. You’re not supposed to feel lonely or miserable. I took a vow to care for you and I intend to keep that. I may not be very good at it yet, I’m new to all this marriage thing… but I promise I’ll do my best. And I’ll try not to sound so… irritable. I know I can be an old goat sometimes…”

A small, but bright sound suddenly cut through the sobs and his curlyheaded husband started laughing. It probably surprised him as much as it surprised James, but it was a most pleasant surprise and James smiled in the thick, dark curls, stroking the man’s shoulders. When they came inside, maybe he could…? Yes, that could actually be a good idea. He placed a small kiss on John’s forehead.

”When we get home, we’re gonna try something I think you might like. And no, it’s nothing of that kind, don’t worry. Let’s get inside, shall we?”

The man just nodded and stroke away his tears. They walked slowly and James hold one arm around John’s shoulders and let the man hold on to the other. When they reached the front porch, James unlocked the door and helped John to sit down on a kitchen chair.

He made a fire in the salon and then simply carried his exhausted husband to the couch, took his shoes off and lifted his legs up before draping a blanket around him. Then he put two cushions behind him and lit some candles. John all but stared at him, but didn’t say anything. His blue, stunned eyes reminded of wet flowers and the long, dark eyelashes made him look even more fragile.

”Can you read?”
”Um… A little.”
”Have you read the story about King Arthur?”
”No, I’ve… I’ve read the psalms. Some of them.”
”That’s a bit bleak. No one told you the story of Camelot? No old kitchen maid who told fairytales?”

The man shook his head.

”Only from the Bible.”
”Well, John, that simply wont do.”

He opened the bookcase, took out a leatherbound volume and put on the small sidetable. Then he went to the kitchen to get two cups, a small pan on three legs and some wine. He heated up the drink and gave John a cup before opening one of the glass jars on the sidetable and put some sugared almonds and chocolate on a small plate. He placed the plate on John’s lap and put one of the cups in his hand.

”Lift your feet. I’ll read a fairytale to you.”

The man took his feet down just as James caught them. He sat down and took John’s feet on his lap, draped the blanket around them and opened the book.

”First chapter. How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again. It befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine…”

TBC

Chapter Text

The town of Nassau didn’t remind John of London at all, not that he had thought it would. It was smaller, of course, and the people different. Men and women wore more colourful clothes and people of colour walked around without chains and shackles. He asked Ben about it, as he walked with the man through the market for the first time.

”How come slaves walk around without shackles?”
”They’re not slaves, John.”
”What?”
”One of the deals that was struck with England, like the one that allows marriages like ours, was that neither colour, gender or place of birth would be of any consequense here.”
”That’s… absurd!”
”Welcome to Nassau, my friend. A town ruled by a nation of thieves, sodomites, negros and hookers with a little help from an English governor. You do know that James and Billy used to be pirates, huh?”
”What?”
”Oh, I guess you didn’t. Why am I suprised… But we can’t talk about that here. It’s not…”
”Proper.”
”You’re learning. We’ll talk about it later.”

One thing John noticed, apart from all the strange smells from spices, perfumes and the usual smells from newly butchered meat, fish and poorly washed people that rose as high as the morning sun, was how easy it was to move around. No one pushed them and wherever they walked, people greeted Ben with friendly words and smiles. To his huge surprise, they also greeted him and congratulated him to the marriage. The first time it happened, John was so taken aback he didn’t know how to answer, and the greyhaired woman, who’s name was Mrs. Mapleton, looked like she took offense. Thankfully, Ben explained that it was John’s first day out after his long journey from London and he was still unused to the public life. The woman laughed.

”My goodness, Mr. Silver! I’ve not lived in that shithole since I was a sixteen year old lass and I still remember how happy I was when we’ve sailed far out to not see land no more. This place may have it’s bastards as well as London countryside, but at least we don’t have to walk in waist high snow to freeze our asses of on the privy. Tell me, did you live in or outside town?”
”In town, ma’m.”
”Poor bastard! Oh, and I don’t mean it as an offense to you, of course.”

John felt confused and when he didn’t answer, Ben smiled friendly at the woman.

”Of course not, Mrs. Mapleton. Mr. Silver has lived his whole life in London, but I doubt he misses the mud anymore than I miss the Edinburgh rain.”
”God forbid. Well, I shouldn’t occupy you gentlemen any longer. I have bread to make and poor Esther is in bed with a cold.”
”Oh, I hope it’s not serious.”
”Oh no, she’ll be on her feet in a day or two. A steady lass, that one.”
”Give her my regards and tell her I have more of that lemon tea if she’d like some.”
”You’re too kind, Mr. Gunn. Please, send Mr. Bones my regards.”
”As always, Mrs. Mapleton.”
”And you, Mr. Silver, send my gratulations to Captain Flint.”
”Thank you, ma’m. I will.”

The neat old woman left and Ben nudged John.

”That was the former inn keeper, Mrs. Mapleton. She’s been retired now for a couple of years and Billy swears she looks younger than ever.”
”He knows her?”
”Oh yes. Billy’s lived here since he was seventeen. He knows everybody.”
”But he sounds English.”
”He is. Thank God our parents didn’t live to see their sons marry the enemy.”
”What?”
”Scots and Englishmen have a long history of mutual, passionate hate. Our parents would turn in their graves if they knew.”

John couldn’t help but snort.

”So, Billy being English is like no fucking way alright, but it doesn’t matter he’s stuffing cock up your ass? No offense.”
”Non taken. I like his cock up my ass.”

Ben showed him around the entire market, buying fruit, vegetables and eggs.

”We don’t have any layer at the moment. All of our hens got caught by wild dogs. The fence was damaged after a storm and before we could think of saving the outhouse, we had to fix the roof. In the meantime, the bastards took our hens. Have to wait for the next ship from the inland until we can get new ones.”

Another interesting thing was that people were curtious. John was used to be pushed, pulled and even kicked whenever people were in a hurry and decided he was in their way. Men and women in all ages and all sorts of clothing – rich or poor – treated him with courtesy and kindness. He leaned down to Ben and whispered:

”Why are they so polite to me? And how do they know my name?”
”Because you’re Captain James Flint’s husband, John. Whatever you feel about your marriage otherwise, fact is your husband is a man that people hold in very high esteem and that means you’ll be shown great respect too.”
”But they don’t know me.”
”Honey, all you have to do, is to be a good indoor spouse and behave well. You may not like that collar very much, but the mark that says you’re married to Captain Flint pretty much guarantees that people will treat you with kindness and respect. If they offend you, they offend Captain Flint. Same goes for me. Treating me poorly is an offense against Billy and believe me, no one in their right mind would want to anger James Flint or Billy Bones.”

John shuddered.

”Finally something that makes sense here.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”How was the maiden voyage into the deep, Flint?”
”Fuck you, Vane.”

The rough, unpolished captain chuckled as he went to James’ and Billy’s table. He wasn’t really a mean person, James knew that, but he was increadibly annoying and James didn’t like the lewd way he talked about other peoples indoor spouses. Billy slapped the rude man hard on the ass.

”Fucking behave, Captain, or James might have to take actions.”

Vane just grinned devilishly.

”Billy Bones, the last real gentleman. Should’ve snatched you when I had the chance.”
”Who said you had a chance?”
”You’re right. You wouldn’t suit for indoor life.”
”But you might. Don’t you agree, James? Surely you can picture Chaz mending clothes and peeling potatos, perhaps singing while sweeping the floors… Hey, watch it!”

Vane had slapped Billy’s head, but the blonde giant just laughed.

”You’re a fucking savage, Chaz, and you always will be. Now sit down instead of standing there like some lost tavern wench.”

James wasn’t particularly interesting in sharing a drink with that man, but for some reason Billy liked him, despite all the lewd comments that came out of Vane’s mouth as fast as the drinks went down. A woman in a wide hat and long coat took a seat at the table and took the hat off.

”Evening, gentlemen.”
”Evening, Bonny. How’s old Jack hanging?”
”Burning the food and reading bad poetry, as usual.”

Billy smirked.

”Don’t know who’s the worst indoor spouse, Anne. You or Jack.”
”Oh, fuck you, Billy. If, God forbid, your husband would take ill, you’d die from starvation while searching for the pantry.”

All three men laughed and Billy freely admitted she had a good point.

”Joking aside, how’s his coughing?”

Anne shrugged and took a large gulp from her ale.

”As usual. Not better, not worse, so I guess one has to be grateful for that. Oh, and by the way, congratulations to your marriage, Flint. Jack sends his regards.”

James smiled, but there was no real joy in it.

”Thank you, Bonny. Tell him we’ll pay a visit when I have a moment to spare.”

Anne Bonny just nodded. Jack Rackham’s lung sickness had made his grumpy spouse even more sour, but that was perfectly understandable. Too many outside visitors and trading partners didn’t fully realise that the old worlds gender rules didn’t apply in Nassau and outdoor wives like Eleanor Guthrie or outdoor working, previous indoor spouses like Anne Bonny, were often treated like women in the old world by new visitors. A behavior they deeply regretted when seeing a beneficial trading offer go up in smoke. The only certain way to know the status of a citizen here, was by the wearing or lack of collar. Anne Bonny’s collar had the burnt crescent in the front, just like Joji, that showed her status of outdoor working indoor spouse.

”Think courtesy visits are off for a while, Captain.”
”How so?”

Anne gritted her teeth.

”Because we’re taking off again.”

Billy frowned.

”So soon? You’ve only just come back from Tortuga.”
”Yeah, and in two days time, we’re going back again.”
We?
”As in me, you, Flint and Chaz.”
”Are you fucking kidding me?”
”Wish I was.”

James sighed.

”And who’s splendid idea was this?”
”Rogers and Richard Guthries, of course. They got a tip on a huge prize we simply can’t throw away.”
”Privateering… Piracy when it suits the governor.”

Vane tapped lazily on his cup.

”You have a problem with that, Flint?”
”No, but it’s a bit early to leave John alone for so long.”

Billy finished his drink.

”He can stay with Ben.”
”But this little arrend could take weeks.”
”Even better to give them both some company. And DeGroot can take the keys.”

He didn’t like it. Not that it wouldn’t be a relief to get away for a while. It most certainly would feel good for John too and James trusted both Ben and DeGroot as much as he trusted Billy. And in the meantime, perhaps John would learn enough about cooking not having to lean over poor Ben’s shoulder all day. But it still felt too early, leaving a newly wedded husband alone. On the other hand, John simply had to stop shaking and crying and know his place. James just nodded at his former, now suddenly temporarily, bosun.

”Sounds good to me. But tell Ben not to let John disturb him too much.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Once he’d stopped throwing up, John decided this was fucking ridiculous. Something very strange was happening with his body and he was tired of puking, crying and trembling like a knocked up kitchen maid. Especially since he’d never been so well treated before. He washed his face in the basin and looked firmly into the mirror.

”Get your fucking shit together, John.”

He’d not felt this weak outside a sickbed in his entire life and he’d been ashore long enough to have his land legs back. What the fuck was wrong with him? He cried for nothing, puked on the most strange occasions and then of course, it was that fucking dick. Every god damn morning, he woke up with a rock hard boner he didn’t dare to deal with in another way than dipping it in cold water behind the screen he used for privacy while dressing. He’d taken care of it once, but couldn’t make himself do it when his husband was still at home.

It was nothing but annoying and stupid. He didn’t need a boner, for fucks sake. He was supposed to spread his legs and bend over, or open his mouth. That was his task in bed and you didn’t need a cock to do that. His husband had left early this morning and had not yet taken on any of his rights. He’d not fucked John, not had him suck his cock or even touched him besides from a few embraces and shallow, almost brotherly, kisses on cheek.

John was more than grateful for that, but it was confusing and also, when he allowed himself to think about it, a bit distressing. Was he not attractive enough? That his husband would even think of John’s own feelings about this was so far away from John’s conceptual world, the thought didn’t even occur. All he could think was that his constant crying and the lingering sea sickness must have made him less attractive to the man and that he had to find a way to be appealing to him, no matter how horrifying the thought was. But he also recalled something James had told him on their wedding night: The physical aspect of this arrangement isn’t something we need to rush into.

Not all men had a strong urge of that kind. John knew that better than most people. But it seemed quite weird to marry another man if you didn’t desire men. It wasn’t as if they could conceive and only be fucked to bare children. No, this lack of sex was probably due to John not being attractive enough. Not that he wanted to be fucked, but it was his duty and his husband was after all very kind to him. John had never gone this long without getting half-choked from a cock deep down his throat, having flocks of his hair pulled off or bruises all over his arms and legs.

People didn’t yell at him, didn’t mock him or spit in his porridge. In fact, he’d not had a single spoonfull of barleycorn porridge with lard since leaving the Ashe’s. Instead, he’d had fresh breadrolls, butter and fresh meat. He’d been served sweets, pastries, decent tea, exotic fruit and delicious wine. He slept in an fucking featherbed, for fucks sake! He shouldn’t be whining and crying. He should be kissing the ground his husband walked on. Well, James Flint wasn’t home now and it was said that DeGroot would pick John up at noon. James had locked the necklace around him before he left and, John assumed, handed DeGroot the key right before leaving.

Did he have the right to whip him in James’ absence? John shivered. But DeGroots outdoor working, previous indoor husband was probably even more scaring than DeGroot. The mute, Chinese swordmaster with long, black hair had sharp, dark eyes and during the whole journey from England, John hadn’t seen him smile once. The thought of having him handling the key almost made John miss the harsh Billy Bones.

Still, it felt pleasant to be on his own right now. John sat by the dresser and combed his hair and felt pretty… scandalous. It was still quite early but the sun shined bright and he wasn’t even dressed yet. Instead he had nothing but a thin sheet draped around his hips and now as the nausea had passed and he’d washed up, with the dark ringlets falling slightly wet over his shoulders, John actually felt almost pretty. The hairbrush James had given him, was as costly as one of those in miss Abigail’s dresser and he’d slept on satin sheets ever since coming here.

Fuck. Tears again. John stopped himself from throwing the brush in the mirror in the last second. If he broke the mirror, then he’d have a good fucking reason to cry when his husband came back. The only thing John could connect all this damn sobbing with, was the weather change and perhaps the lack of that awful tea. People could get weird if they spent too much time in the sun and down here the sun shined so much stronger than in London. And no matter how much he’d hated that brew, perhaps it had prevented him from feeling so strangely sensitive.

John suddenly got very tired of it all. Enough with this shit! He’d never ever be as perfect as Ben Gunn, but he’d fucking try his best and stop sobbing. He didn’t know how to cook, but he knew about almost everything else to make a good wife… indoor spouse! He could scrub and wash, chop wood and mend clothes. He was no bloody delicate molly boy and was used to hard labour. And right now he had a stupid boner to get rid off.

Just like the first time he’d taken care of this matter, his release came very quickly and without thoughts about anything special. His only experience of this kind of fancies was the ones of lord Ashe and of course he knew how it worked between a man and a woman, and between men. Men could fuck and suck, but that was about as far as John’s knowledge went. The pure physical act that had nothing to do with his pleasure.

He recalled Ben Gunn’s words: I like his cock up my ass. John almost blushed by the thought. How was it possible to like something like that? And not that John would know a thing about it, but Billy Bones was a big man and so was probably his cock. Even if you liked such things, it had to hurt. But John didn’t fancy men. Not that it mattered, of course. His role was to do as he was told, no matter what. Finally he’d stopped crying.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Looks like we have the wind on our side this time, Captain.”
”For once.”

Billy had climbed down from the riggings and came to stand by James’ side. It was always a bit strange to hear the former quartermaster shift from ”James” to ”Captain” after a time on shore. Since getting married, Billy had prefered to have his work closer to home, since it was out of the question that an indoor spouse could work side by side with his or her husband. Too bad, James thought, since Ben was just as strong as any of their riggers, skilled and very responsible. Sometimes James couldn’t help but wonder how the former pirate, who’d been captured, sold and later married off to one of the most feared privateers in New Providence, could stand being cooped up in a kitchen. Billy starred out over the water.

”Don’t worry.”
”What?”
”I can see that you’re worrying about John, but he’ll manage.”
”Will he?”
”He’s stronger than he looks and he’s one hell of an observer.”
”Observer?”
”He may look completely lost and shaking in his bones, but you can tell that when he’s looking around, he’s really trying to understand and adjust.”
”How can you see that?”
”Because I’ve been married for three years and Ben reacted in a similar way.”
”Only he didn’t crouch and cry all the time.”
”Of course he did.”

Billy let out something between a sigh and a laughter.

”Dear Lord, how that man cried… After two months I swear I thought he was gonna dry out.”

James swallowed.

”Two months? He cried for two fucking months?”
”He did. I had to sleep in the other room.”
”You left the bed and let him stay?”
”The fuck was I suppose to do, Captain? Couldn’t bloody comfort him, he just went horror-struck when I approached and we both had to get some sleep. And I can’t recall signing a vow to throw my husband out of bed for crying his eyes out.”
”So you…?”
”Slept in my own guestroom for two months.”
”You didn’t!”
”I most certainly did.”

James just starred at him and shook his head.

”And what good did that? Ben’s still afraid of you.”

The giant man snorted.

”Vane, Teach and my mother are afraid of me.”
”Your mother is dead.”
”And may she rest in peace. Otherwise she’d probably hunt me down and have me hanged.”
”For piracy or sodomy?”
”For marrying a Scotsman. My father would’ve gone for the piracy and then after they’d killed me twice for those things, they’d take to the sodomy part. My parents always knew how to prioritise.”

It was afternoon and they were far from Nassau. The prize they were seeking was a French merchant ship, L’aurore, carrying sugar and tobacco from Boston. Eleanor Guthrie had gotten a tip about it from one of her countless informers and it was too big a prize to take the chance on sending out only one ship. James looked at the blue sky, promising good aiming sight for both sides. If he’d die on this hunt, Billy was to take care of John until he could be married off again, as James would do the same for Ben if Billy fell. Should the worst happen and they both died, both their husbands would be taken care of by DeGroot.

James trusted his former sailingmaster. He was a calm and reliable man who loved his garden and preferred civilised conversations instead of barking to make people understand if they’d fucked up. They’d all been surprised when DeGroot married Joji, especially since it was quite a big age difference, almost twenty years, and the old sailingmaster had been known for being a ladies man in his youth. When James had finally asked him, they old sea bear simply said he wasn’t in this for fucking and had had enough of women in his youth:

I need peace and quiet, Captain. I’m feeling my legs and back and I don’t have the patience with, or lust for women no more. All I want is a strong helper who can take care of my bloody knees and keep me company by the fire, sharing a drink in silence and help me with the heavy stuff. And should my Joji wish to get laid while you’re in another port, he has my permission, even blessing.

It was an odd arrangement, since non of the two men had lust for men at all, but when the mute swordsmaster was taken as a prisoner from prize and sent to the Walrus to train the men in sword fighting, he’d also brought knowledge about how to cure muscle pain and the men who’d sailed with the grumpy sailingmaster the longest, swore that they’d never seen him smile as much or grunt as little since the Chinese man had come aboard. It seemed as if Joji liked the older man’s company as well and when they came back to Nassau, DeGroot had already asked Joji to be his matelot.

Matelot. Most men who were married to other men in Nassau, didn’t use that term anymore, since a matelotage was a contract between free men and also didn’t necessarily involve marital duties in a physical way. Equality between lawfully contracted bed partners didn’t exist anymore, but DeGroot was old and stubborn and had no intention of bedding his husband. They had separate beds and when Joji came back from the account, the couple used to sit in their garden in the evenings, sharing drinks in silence and enjoying the peace and quiet. The old sailingmaster had taught Joji how to read and write and when gestures weren’t enough to make himself understood, the swordmaster simply used pen and paper. A strange relationship if ever there was one, but both men seemed to be content.

James went up to the rudder to release Mr. Gates. That man was almost as old as DeGroot and tough as old leather.

”How many knots, Captain?”
”Almost six.”
”Good.”
”I can take over now, Gates. Get some rest, we’re gaining on L’aurore already and with this speed we should get ready for battle before dawn.”

And perhaps survive and return to husbands who are probably praying to God for letting the ocean swallow us whole.

TBC

Chapter Text

”No, that’s too soft, John. You have to really knead it.”
”But it’s so sticky!”
”It’s fucking dough, John.”

Ben shook his head in exasperation, not for the first time these days, as he watched John’s sad attempt to take to cooking and baking.

”You have to work it harder.”
”Can’t you just pour more flour to it?”
”Only if you want bread dry as sand. Stop whining and knead. Christ… Yeah, that’s better. Now, keep doing that.”

John muttered at the dough.

”Had no idea this was so fucking complicated.”

Ben laughed.

”Bread? That’s the most basic fucking thing to do in a household. ”
”I didn’t pretend to be wife material in case you thought so.”
”Figured you didn’t, and we’re still not wives. How’s living with Flint?”
”Why?”

John kept kneading, secretely pleased to notice it was becoming less and less sticky. Ben, who leaned against the wall, supervicing the process, chuckled.

”Uncomfortable question?”
”It’s not. I just don’t know what to answer. Hardly know the man, we’ve been married for a few weeks and now he’s off, while I’m stuck here in this… fucking house, doing fucking chores I’ve never done before in my… fucking life! I’ve never been inside a kitchen long enough to even find a kettle!”
”John?”
”And even if I from some fucking miracle managed to find one, I probably wouldn’t be able to use it without setting fucking house on fire!”

Weeks of closed off emotions, stress and fear were literally causing a flood of tears and Ben, bless that fucking perfect indoor husband, offered a steady shoulder to cry on, patting John’s back.

”Is it so bad, huh? He’s not mean to you, is he?”
”No. I told you. I hardly know him and I… I… shit, this is so fucking humiliating!”
”Calm down, John. It’s only dough, not the end of the world. And I’m to help you, remember?”
”But I’m fucking useless!”
”You’re not and you have to stop crying and accusing yourself like this. We have bread to make, a floor to scrub and a dinner to prepare. Dry your tears and start peeling those carrots, I’ll handle the dough.”

With help and emotional support from Ben, John learned how to prepare vegetables and cleance fish, when a bread dough was considered done and how to not overdose on sand and soap on the salon, since John had only scrubbed kitchen floors. At noon, Ben boiled some eggs, cut thick slices of a loaf, put John to slice up some smoked ham and goat cheese and setted the table. Ben tapped up ale in two pints.

”As Billy is, of course, out during the day and can’t really take the time he deserve at the midday meal, I prefer to serve something steady but simple at noon and then make something warm for supper. It’s a habit, so I see no point in breaking it now. Put the carrots in cold water when you’ve peeled them, to make them stay fresh. We’re doing a vegetable soup, fish pie and lemon pudding with cream for supper.”
”That’s… three courses!?”
”Yeah, it is…”

Ben didn’t seem to understand John’s horror at all.

”This is the most important thing an indoor spouse is doing, John. To manage the houshold, make sure our outdoor spouses are well fed, well dressed and can invite guests to his home without feeling ashamed of their indoor spouses and homes.”
”Then why did he marry me, Ben?! I can’t cook, can’t bake, can’t behave and he doesn’t even fuck me!”
”Hey, hey, John… calm down, for Christ sake! Come here.”

Ben pulled him close in a friendly, comforting hug and patted his back.

”It will get easier, John. James isn’t some uncivilized old goat who wants his spouse to feel miserable. He knows you’re unused and new to this and he’s a patient man.”
”And what would happen to me if he dies at sea?”

The blonde man visibly tensed and his voice went slightly more stern.

”You’ll be taken care of by Billy or DeGroot, but we shouldn’t think about such things. It’s pointless to worry about things we can’t do something about anyway. And tears wont help you, John. Only make you too tired to function.”
”I know, but I really can’t help it, Ben. They just keep coming for no fucking reason. It’s not on purpose and half of the time I don’t even know why.”

Ben frowned.

”That’s odd.”
”No shit?! Feel like a fucking damstrel in distress, only ten times more pathetic.”
”You’re not pathetic, John, and I’ve already told you, I cried a lot myself.”
”Then why do you tell me to stop, huh?”
”Because I know how fruitless it is. How long have you cried this much?”
”Since Port Royal. I cry, I puke and I have a fucking boner in the mornings!”

The laughter eliciting from Ben was the happiest, lightest sound John had heard apart from the birds morning serenade outside the bed chamber. The man laughed and buried his face in his hands, tears streaming down his cheeks.

”What’s so fucking funny?”

The only answer to that was more laughter and John frowned.

”Happy to see you’re entertained, Mr. Gunn.”
”Oh, dear Lord… I’m sorry, John, I just… I’m not laughing to mock you, but how the fuck is… Sweet Jesus, forget about the beach talk! This is the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had. Don’t even know where to start. Where on Earth did Captain Flint found you?”
”Apparently in London, now could you please tell me what the fuck’s so funny?”
”Just… just let me catch my breath. Tap up some more ale for us, we both need and deserve it right now.”

Puzzled and annoyed, John refilled their cups as Ben tried to calm down. He stroke his blonde hair from his face, shaking his head and visiby tried not to laugh again. He took a big gulp from the cup and leaned forward on his elbows, looking as if he tried to figure out how to start.

”First of all, this stays between us, John. You’re not supposed to keep secrets from your husband, but that doesn’t mean you have to tell things they don’t really need to know. So, you don’t have to worry about me running to Billy or Flint, talking behind your back, alright?”
”Alright. Now, what’s so funny?”
”When we were down the bay, you told me you’d never had any fancies, right?”
”Yeah. So?”
”Have you been with a man or woman before? I mean, apart from your husband?”

John blushed.

”I have, yes. Didn’t like it.”

Ben bit his lip.

”Alright. But, the reason why I laughed was that… you know, it’s not exactly uncommon to have a boner in the mornings.”
”It is to me.”
”You mean you’ve never…?”
”I was around fourteen the last time anything like that happened. And not just in the mornings.”
”Never? Not at all?!”
”No.”
”Uhm… Have you not been like… overly sensitive, unstable and horny while you were younger?”
”No. Well, maybe a bit too sensitive but not like this.”
”And then it just… stopped?”
”Pretty much. Had some troubles with unsteady legs and the cook made me that tea. It helped, but… Oh… Oh, fuck!

John just gaped and Ben looked about as stunned himself, tapping his cup.

”The tea you had, it was always the same…”

John nodded.

”What colour was it again?”
”Bleak yellow and…”
”And the flowers were blueish. Of course…”
”What?”

Ben bit his lip and shook his head in disbelief.

”That tea they gave you is made of the flowers from the Chasteberry Tree.”
”The what?”
”Chasteberry. It’s a plant monks used to well… stay chaste. Basically turns you into a eunuch without cutting your balls off. Jesus… How long did you drink it? Was it only you who had it?”
”Yes… It was made specially for me. Two or three cups a day, every day since I was about thirteen.”
Two or three cups a day?!
  
Ben looked positively shocked.

”You’re not sick or overly sensitive or whiny, John. You’ve been… I don’t know how to describe it but  temporarily castrated and…”
”And what?”
”Well, putting it frankly, your cock has realised it can do more than piss. Only like… fifteen years later than usual. Why the fuck would they give you that? Wait... Did your owner fuck you?”
”No, but I sucked his cock and licked my mistress cunt.”
”Holy Mother of God!”
”Well… at least no one fucked me. Realised later that they’d let me be to make a bigger profit. Guess even ass virgins counts as fucking untouched.”

And, of course, he was crying again. But this time, Ben didn’t told him to stop. Instead he filled up more ale and dragged John with him to the backporch and a bench standing there, shadowed under the roof. They sat down and Ben put the cup in John’s hand.

”Drink.”
”But what about the cooking?”
”Our husband’s are away and I can change the menu if you’re not dying for lemon pie.”
”I can manage without it.”
”Then fuck the dinner and lets get wasted.”
”Wasted?”
”Drunk, John. Really, fucking drunk.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The strange and to be honest, far too personal, conversation with Ben made things feel very different for John. It could be due to the strong content in Ben’s liqor cabin, but John was fairly certain the talking had been the real important thing. And to be even more honest, Ben was really funny getting drunk with.

They sat on the backporch, or rather, John lay with his head in Ben’s lap, listening to stories about Nassau and looking up the sky.

”Do you know what… what we should do, Ben?”
”What?”
”We, no I should cook something really… disgusting and make’em eat it.”
”Nah, why?”
”Because Billy’s so damn hard on you all the time. I don’t understand it, Ben.”
”No, you don’t.”

The man smiled. He was more than a little drunk and seemed very relaxed. He suddenly waved.

”Oi, Mr. DeGroot! Good evening.”
”Good evening, Ben.”

John sat up quickly, both scared and ashamed for laying like that. A steady, greyhaired man with a leather vest over his shirt and a tattoo of a turtle on his neck came up to the backporch. Ben rose on slightly unsteady legs and made a silly little bow.

”Mr. DeGroot, may I introduce you to Mr. John Silver, the blushing groom of Captain Flint and our new neighbor.”

The man had a steady handshake and an amused little smile on his weatherbitten face.

”Pleased to meet you, Mr. Silver.”
”Plesed to meet you too, sir. Pardon me for… for being a bit tipsy. Please, don’t tell my Captain… I mean, husband, ’bout this. Guess I’m not behaving properly right now.”

DeGroot just smiled friendly.

”Oh, don’t worry, lad. Not that you’re forbidden to get drunk with a friend, but I wont tell the old goat, I promise.”
”Oh… Thank you. Have you come to temporarily free me from the goat… I mean oak, Mr. DeGroot?”
”I have.”

The man took up the keys. Wearing the collar all day had been a bit annoying, but it wasn’t really uncomfortable. But getting it off was really nice. He unlocked Ben’s first and the man scratched his neck a little.

”Would you care for a drink, sir?”
”Oh, I know your brews, Ben. Dangerously addictive and strong enough to make a giant pass out.”
”We’ll, I’m married to one. Gotta have some weapons against those fucking arms, right?”

DeGroot just snickered and shook his head in amusement.

”Don’t suppose you have some of the rum from last year, old friend?”
”I sure have. I’ll be right back.”

Ben went inside and John looked carefully at the elder man. DeGroot laughed a little.

”You look like you’re expecting me to eat you for supper, Mr. Silver. How has your first time here been? Is the old goat treating you well?”
”Ye-yeah, he is. I mean, he’s not a goat, sir.”
”He most certainly is, Mr. Silver. Grumpy and sour as old milk and with a temper matching his hair colour.”

Ben came back with a steady drink.

”Hey, don’t scare the kid, DeGroot.”
”I’m no kid! I’m twenty-twentynine.”

DeGroot shrugged and took the cup.

”Young enough to be my son.”
”And how old are you, sir?”
”Old enough to be your father. Damn… this was a good sort, Ben.”
”Thank you, DeGroot. You want a bottle to take home? Doesn’t help as good as Jojis ointments, but it warms the blood a little.”
”Thank you. What would we do without you, Ben… Is Billy aware of how lucky he is?”
”He’s pretty pleased with me, as far as I know.”

The blonde man’s smile was a little strained now and DeGroot just nodded and finished his drink. Ben quickly went to get another bottle and handed it over.

”Send Joji our regards when he comes back. In case we don’t see him with our husbands.”
”Of course. Ben, Mr. Silver. See you tomorrow.”

He nodded at John.

”Good evening, Mr. DeGroot.”
”See you, DeGroot.”

It was fairly late and John, who wasn’t used to liquor, yawned constantly until Ben put out the candles and offered a hand to drag him up from the chair.

”Let’s get to sleep. You’re looking like you could fall asleep standing.”

The guestroom was, as everything else in Billy Bones’ and Ben Gunn’s home, neat and clean. John was too tired to have a proper look and he got out of his clothes and crawled into bed, just enough sober to realise he’d have a bad hangover in the morning.

He fell asleep almost immediately, but woke up only an hour later, having to take a piss. He didn’t reckognize the room at first, but when he saw his own clothes on the floor, he remembered. He left his bed and walked as silent as possible, not to disturb his host. When he passed Billy’s and Ben’s bed chamber, he could hear a muffled sound from behind the almost closed door and against better judgement, John leaned to look through the chink.

Ben Gunn was crying. The perfect, friendly and generous indoor spouse with the sunny smile, cried in his pillow as the moon fell through the window shutter, making the man’s golden hair shimmer in the light.

TBC

Chapter Text

Billy gritted his teeth as he removed his thick leather belt. The Walrus had returned earlier this evening and after loading off the goods and sharing the profit, Billy and James had hurried back home, greeting their lenient and submissive husbands and receiving the collar keys from DeGroot before separating, each pair to their own house.

Now it was almost dark and Ben put out the pillow on the bed. Sometimes he wondered if it wouldn’t be easier if Billy just gave him a proper hiding in the open, as so many other outdoor spouses did, to really make a point. He arranged the pillows and patted his husband’s shoulder before leaving the room. Any nousy neighbour or passing person, could soon hear Billy Bones ”beating his indoor husband” about as much as expected to keep him pliant.

Ben waited in the kitchen, leaning against the wall, sinking down on the floor. He was a damn lucky man, he knew that. He’d been so fucking scared at his wedding, seeing this intimidating but nontheless breathtaking handsome man for the first time, realising that his former owners fists would be nothing compared to those huge fucking muscles. Billy Bones, his husband and owner, was a fucking giant that could literally crush him with a single strike. And that man had never laid a hand on him and actually felt bad for even simulating the beating.

By twenty strikes, it stopped and Ben rose from the floor. His husband came out from the bed chamber, putting his belt back on and then scooped him up, kissing him almost violantly. Ben stroke his hair.

”You’re the best husband in the world, Billy.”
”Well, I hate the world.”
”And I love you. Would you like something to eat?”
”Not until I’ve made sure you’re alright.”

Ben sighed. Pretending to use the belt on him, always made Billy feel like he had actually hit him. The law that allowed the population on the island to keep their matelotages, stated that their could never be two men in charge, only one, and couples had to be very, very careful not to show even the slightest hint of equality. It was as if the so called civilized world couldn’t stand the thought of people being happy. Billy hold him tight, kissing his neck.

”Billy, are you crying?”
”No…”

He definately was. This whole thing was exhausting for both of them, but this particular part was worst for Billy and Ben kissed his cheek, nibbling his ear.

”Look, darling, we’re keeping up this damn charade like royal fucking theater people. I’d never thought I could be this happy with anyone and I know you fucking hate that we have to pretend like this, but… I’m so happy, husband…”
”So am I, Ben. But I… I can’t fucking stand treating you this way in front of others. I hate to see you crouch like that, charade or not. I’m a fucking brute to you, darling.”
”You’re pretending, my love, and you’re doing it so fucking well even John thinks I’m trembling with fear before you.”

Billy took his face between his large, warm hands, worried eyes following every line in Ben’s face.

”You’ve been crying, husband...”
”Every single night. Was so afraid you wouldn’t return to my arms.”

The man’s answer to that was to lift his husband and carry him to the bed chamber, closing the door with a kick and pull the curtain over the already closed and covering window shutters. Billy carefully put Ben down on the bed and entangled his callous fingers in the golden hair, all but whining against his neck.

”One day we’re gonna leave this place, going somewhere I can love you freely, where I can treat you like a man and not some fucking boy or slave…”
”You are treating me like a man, Billy. The happiest man on this fucking island…”

The men got rid of their clothes and went under the patchwork cover, bodies slotting together in a warm, naked embrace. Ben catched his husband’s lips in a heated kiss, tongues swirling as he tasted him again. They were both too tired from work and role playing to have a proper fuck, that would have to wait until tomorrow and Ben moaned from the thought.

”Tomorrow night, darling… You know what I’m gonna do then?”
”What, sweetheart?”

Billy’s voice was pained and Ben straddled him, locked him with his thighs and started grinding their cocks together in his large fist. His husband groaned and grabbed his hips, squeezing the firm ass as Ben worked them wet and shivering.

”Tomorrow I’ll take you so fucking deep, you’re gonna feel me in your lungs…”
”Fuck… yes, Ben, please… Please…”

They’d been without each other and were both too exhausted from the fucking role playing to last very long and Billy came with a deep moan, his wetness pushing Ben’s own release.

Afterwards, Ben leaned down on his husband’s chest, burying his face against the slowly relaxing puls as Billy’s arms came around his back, tucking him closer. The outdoor husband sighed as he came down from the high, slowly caressing his all but submissive indoor husband’s back.

”I missed you so much. Dreamed about you… How you’d be fighting by my side, sharing my bunk and never leave my side again. I was so relieved when it started raining so I could cry without anyone noticing…”
”Had a hard time sleeping without you. Harder than usual. Have been crying myself to sleep and one night I’m pretty sure John heard me.”

Ben let his fingers comb through Billy’s short hair.

”I wish I could tell him… how it can be, Billy. Wish James could… John is so scared and I can see how confusing all this is for him.”

Billy sighed.

”I tried to give James some advice, but I’m starting to believe we’re a little too fucking good with this charade, you and I, because he more or less said that you’re still scared of me.”
”He’s judging you?”
”Believe it or not, but yes.”

Ben snorted.

”He’s been married for a few weeks and John’s more scared than I ever was.”
”You think James is beating him?”
”No, I’m pretty sure he’s not. John’s really confused by all this new things, but maybe he’ll be as lucky as me in the end. On second thought, no he wont. No man or woman on this damn island will ever be as lucky as me, Billy. No one.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Even if James hadn’t been good at reading other people, he would’ve recognized his husband’s discomfort miles away. John looked beautiful as always when James came to take him home. He’d greeted James with a nervous smile and accepted a light kiss on his cheek, but judging by the way he lowered his eyes and the strained goodbye to Ben, he’d prefered to stay with him. And James couldn’t help but get irritated.

It was custom for married crew members to pick out gifts for their indoor spouses after the governor had been given his share from the booty. First, the Captain, the Quartermaster and the First Mate got a small extra share as compensation for their expanded responsibilities and then they were allowed to choose gifts for their spouses first. Of course, there were limits on how much they could give, but it was all about common sense. Greedy leaders could easily find themselves without a crew if they took more than their fair share. And, inversely, to pick out too cheap or worse, no gifts at all, to your indoor spouse would show that you weren’t pleased with your marriage which, sooner or later, would lead to gossip.

Billy had chosen some shirt fabrics, a new dagger with an intricate pattern on the handle and an extremely expensive perfume for Ben. James wasn’t really sure about what John would like, so he’d picked out silky sheets, coffee and a small crystal jar in the shape of a swan. They were highly valuable gifts and the fact that his husband didn’t seem to be very happy for them, but still seemed to be uncomfortable having to leave Ben, wasn’t quite the reaction James had hoped for. Of course, the man had thanked him, but he didn’t seem to understand how valuable the gifts were and that made James frustrated. John had worked in an extremely wealthy home for a long time. Surely he could reckognize costly items for what they were. Instead he just looked at them, spread out on the bed. James frowned.

”Don’t you like them?”
”Of course I like them, they’re beautiful. You’re too kind to me, husband.”

Then why so dull, husband? James didn’t ask, because he most likely would’ve get a ”proper indoor spouse” answer anyway. This marriage wasn’t about love for any of them and to be honest, James already longed for an excuse to leave again, now as he knew that the poodle could manage on his own with help from Ben. James needed to fresh up from the journey and he didn’t want this nervous puppy to be around, looking like he was trapped in a cage with a beast.

”Maybe you should think about supper, husband.”
”Yes… yes, of course. Don’t know what I was thinking. Excuse me.”

John put his gifts on the dresser and hurried back to the kitchen. James sighed. A man with dark hair and any eyecolour but blue. The last part had clearly been misunderstood and that was the least problem with this union. It was ten years since James had been with a man, the only man he’d ever wanted and although John Silver’s shade of blue didn’t remind very much of the passionate, confident and warm eyes of Thomas, they were still... well, blue. And he wasn’t Thomas. Not in any way.

He was a pretty man, no one in their right mind could argue with that, but a pretty face and dashing curls didn’t make a tolerable spouse. And whatever colour of eyes and hair, John Silver was nothing but an insecure, ungrateful little fool who, despite how his previous life had been, clearly was disgusted by any affectionate touches from another man. Well, at least John didn’t need to worry about that, since James didn’t necessarily have to bed him. In fact, he was happy not to. The very thought of any intimacy with that shivering, puppy-eyed boy was about as tempting as sleeping in a hair shirt on a lumpy sack of hay.

Though, for some reason, it felt disturbing that he had lied to John about the eye colour. Or had he? The exact words James had muttered were: Asked for a man with blue eyes and dark hair. Maybe I should’ve been more specific… And only half of it was true. James wasn’t even sure why he’d lied. Maybe not to hurt the man. After all, you couldn’t change the colour of your eyes. And even if John’s hair colour had been blonde, James most certainly wouldn’t ask him to dye, cover or shave it. The dashing curls were the man’s best feature, sad as it was.

James waited for supper in the salon, reading, and when the puppy showed up, telling that supper was ready, James reluctantly put the book down. John had, as earlier, set the table in the kitchen and for some reason it made James even more irritated.

”Why haven’t you set the dining table?”
”Excuse me?”
”The dining table, husband. The one in there!”

He pointed at the small drawing-room next to the kitchen where you were supposed to take your everyday meals. Hadn’t Ben told him that? John looked completey surprised.

”I’m… sorry? I didn’t know what was in there.”
”You’ve had plenty of time to get to know our home, John. Maybe you should’ve had a closer look? Or did the Ashe family have their meals in the kitchen, like some damn scullery maids?”
”No, husband. I’m sorry, I’ll reset the table.”
”Nevermind about that now. It’s well passed supper time anyway.”

The meal was bleak and tasteless, but at least not inedible. A fish stew with shrimps and onions, served with bland potatos, boiled for too long and then some diced mango with cream for dessert. As usual, John looked down his plate while eating and made no attempt to start a conversation. James had no wish to talk either, but the silence was uncomfortable.

”How was your time with Ben?”
”It was good.”
”Did you behave properly?”
”I... I hope so. At least he didn’t tell me otherwise.”

Did you behave properly? Why on Earth did he ask him that? He wasn’t a child and James felt a sting of shame for his behavior, but he was still irritated. This crouching ruined his appetite far more than the tasteless food, but saying that would only make the man crouch more.

”Did you learn anything from him?”
”I think so. He taught me how to cook this fish.”
”And did he taught you how to spice it as well?”
”Well…”
”Because it doesn’t seem like he did. Or perhaps he did, only you didn’t pay attention.”

Seriously. What was he doing? Why did he talk like this to his husband? John didn’t behave improperly or rude and as being the first hot meal he’d served, the stew could’ve tasted far worse. James put his napkin down and rose.

”I’m going for walk.”
”Do… do you want me to make something else for you, husband?”
”No, you’ve ruined enough food as it is. Make sure you’re not leaving any candles lightened before you go to bed.”

He left the drawing-room without looking at his sad excuse for an indoor spouse and once he was on his way to the tavern, the worst tension finally left and he could start breathing normal again.

TBC

Chapter Text

Something had changed. Radically. John wasn’t sure exactly what or how, and most definately not why, but his husband was clearly not pleased with him. He’d been very patient with John’s crying, hadn’t touched him in anything but a comforting and friendly way and even brought him expensive gifts from his journey. He knew that John was a beginner in cooking and although the fish hadn’t been a culinary masterpiece of any kind, it wasn’t at all inedible. Until James last comment before leaving the table, John had almost been a bit safe, even happy.

From that moment, John had seen very little of his husband. He left immediately after breakfast, had his midday meal and supper at the tavern and didn’t return home until long past supper time. The third breakfast, John finally found the courage to ask what his husband was doing at work, only to get a shallow ”nevermind about that, it’s non of your concern” for an answer. He didn’t ask anymore questions after that and what little words they shared during the mornings and nights only stuck to what was strictly necessairy.

Sleeping next to the man was even more nerve-racking. Whenever any of them turned around in their sleep and their bodies accidently touched, James would grunt and move further out on his side of the bed, as if the mere presence of John disgusted him. Now, John was hardly unused to angry, disappointed, disgusted or indifferent looks, but this sudden change in his husband’s behavior was extremely confusing and didn’t hold anything of the previous tenderness or patience.

John didn’t dare to sit in the salon anymore and James didn’t ask him to. Maybe he’d decided that reading aloud for John was too low a task for a sea captain after all. John didn’t argue with that even to himself. In fact, the sweet moment he’d spent with his feet in the man’s lap, tasting fine wine and sweets while being read to like he was a person of consequense, had become a rather uncomfortable, even painful memory, as if he’d recieved a generous glimpse of world not belonging to him and been caught wanting it again, like some insolent, ill-mannered house maid, touching her mistress’ fine dresses with her red, chapped working hands.

All John could think of doing to at least not make his husband more displeased with him, was to work. He rose early, got dressed as quiet as possible and carried in fresh water, wood for the cooking fire as well as the salon, fed the chickens and picked the eggs. James had brought home ten hens and an imposing but ill-tempered rooster, who seemed to be just as unimpressed by John as a certain other redhead was. John named the crowing poultry Captain Flint and felt a tiny bit pleased with himself for the secret ”revenge” on his incomprehensible husband.

Ben Gunn was busy as usual with his housework and since John really had no excuse to visit him and didn’t dare to ask James for permission, he didn’t see much of the perfect indoor husband who apparently cried himself to sleep. And every now and then, John could swear he was hearing the sound of whipping from the neighbors, a sound he prayed James didn’t notice. Not that John hadn’t expected James not to whip him, but he certainly didn’t want him to be reminded of that even an indoor husband as perfect as Ben was regularly disciplined by his husband. If Ben deserved twenty lashes a couple of times every week, what wouldn’t John deserve? And as things were at the moment, John didn’t want to know how hard and long James would whip him if he was rude or lazy.

So he worked. He planned the next day’s meals before going to bed and made an effort to serve his husband something warm and fresh every morning. At least the man ate it without looking too displeased, but it was impossible to tell whether the food was just edible or if John’s cooking had improved. When James left, John aired out the bed chamber, made the bed and swept the floor. His husband hadn’t given him anymore flowers, the ones he’d found on the dresser his first morning in his new home had long since withered and John didn’t dare to pick any new to replace them. Their garden was filled with flowers and herbs and the whole island swam with wild flowers anyone could pick, but even with the collar, John couldn’t make himself leave home without permission, or pick anything in the garden.

He used his mornings for cleaning, chopping wood, preparing the midday meal and see to the chickens. He fed them, cleaned the chicken coop, checked the fence to make sure no one could escape and scolded at the rooster Flint for his stupid red crest and his haughty strolling.

He had his midday meal on the back porch. Mostly just cold, sliced meat on bread and some fruit and water. To be honest, even if the ale and wine was delicious, having a meal on his own with water to drink was definately better than the most delicious wine and his husband with it. It was in those moments, alone in the shadow under one of the trees in their big garden, that John for the first time since eating with Ben, felt completely relaxed during a meal.

The afternoons were spent with laundry or mending clothes on the backporch and, as a variation, reading. Ben had, since John let him know he could read a little, lent him a housekeeping book called The Compleat Servant-Maid, written by a woman called Hannah Woolley. Ben had received it from the cook on the ship he’d served at before being captured and the slave trader had actually allowed him to keep it, after Ben had proved to him he could actually cook. A man who could cook and read, and even brought a manual for housekeeping with him, conditioned a higher price when being sold. Billy had also allowed Ben to keep it as his own, even if indoor spouses couldn’t actually have any possessions, and Ben was free to lend it out as he wished.

John couldn’t read very good, but at least he wasn’t completely lost and during his hours on the backporch while waiting for his husband to return home for supper – or not – he carefully read the book and made notes on some pieces of paper he’d stolen from James’ desk. Not being able to maintain the household duties seemed as a more severe sin than stealing papers for a purpose that could help him to make his husband a bit more pleased, so John didn’t bother with feeling guilty for the act. He kept the papers and the book  in the armoir, hidden inside one of the folded bedlinens, a place where he was fairly sure James wouldn’t accidently stumble over them. And since the man didn’t mentioned anything about missing papers or the fact that one of his pencils seemed to have been mysteriously well-used, John came to the conclusion he’d not noticed them gone missing.

John guessed it wasn’t exactly a bad thing for an indoor spouse to know how to read, but he wasn’t sure if his husband would seem it fit for him to write. Things were upside-down in so many ways here, you couldn’t make conclusions based on things the same way as in England. Until John knew how his husband thought about him writing, it felt more safe to keep his studies a secret. He told himself he couldn’t expect Ben to lend out his books too long and that it would serve both the gentle indoor husband, John and the grumpy captain much better in the long run, if John had some household manuals on his own.

Since John very rarely had been told when doing something right, apart from fellatio and cunnilingus, not to mention doing it well, his concept about ”learning fast” was a bit… clouded, to say the least. During his lonely hours in the garden, the number of times he turned the pages quickly increased as the time it took to fill the ”stolen” papers decreased. The crooked scrawl slowly got more straight and easier to read and John began to feel something that, if he’d had been able to reckognize it for what it was, reminded of confidence and pride.

The sense of pride, how ever, vanished as soon as his husband returned home. By that time, John was exhausted from his long working and studying hours and even though the Captain should’ve been more pleased with a husband that wasn’t idle during the day, he never said a word of praise, complaints or anything that showed he’d even noticed any difference. John found it safest to keep his own mouth shut and his hands occupied and after serving his husband a late night meal of some wine, fruit, bread and cheese, he bid the man goodnight and went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately, completely exhausted from the housework, the reading and most of all, the short moments in his husband’s silent, displeased company.

TBC

Chapter Text

”You look tired, John.”
”I’m not. It’s just the sun. I’m still not used to it, I guess.”

He was lying and he could tell that Ben knew it. They were on their way to the market and it was early. James had finally given John access to the household money for food and Ben had planned his arrends to be able to keep John company. And in addition to giving household advices, the gentlehearted man also knew when it wasn’t a good time to push for an honest answer, so he let John off the hook and talked about what he’d done since the last time they’d met.

Apparently, Billy and James were pretty occupied with preparations for the next journey and John felt a strange stroke in his chest when he realised James hadn’t felt it necessairy to tell him about it. He didn’t want to let Ben know that, so he simply said his husband had mentioned it, but it had slipped his mind. Helpful as always, Ben told him that it was a trip to Tortuga, delivering nothing but a wealthy bride to be to a man of great importance. For a second, John silently praised the Lord for the prospect of being left alone with Ben for weeks, until the man happily announced he was going with them.

”Since it’s not really about business that may involve combat and the cargo is but a woman this time, there’s place for some indoor spouses to come along too. I haven’t been outside Nassau for at least eight months, John and it’s been almost two years since Billy made a trip suitable for marital company. I’m so happy they’re letting indoor spouses coming with them!”
”Sounds like you’ll have great fun.”
”You mean we’re having great fun. Of course Captain Flint will take you with him. We’ll be away for at least a month. Maybe he wanted it to be a surprise and therefore hasn’t told you about it.”
”Perhaps. When are they… we leaving?”
”Tomorrow morning. I can’t imagine why the Captain didn’t told you. I’ve been preparing the trunk for days now. It’ll be nice to get out on the sea again and rest a little.”

Ben’s happiness and excitement would normally have rubbed off on John’s mood, but today it just fell off him. John was very good at keeping a sunny face if he had to and they made their arrends, talked to the merchants who were, as always, very curtious and friendly, before heading back home to prepare the midday meal. John didn’t dare to tell Ben that James always took his meal at noon elsewhere these days and so John was left alone once again, eating bread with salted pork, some ale and dried fruit before allowing himself a little rest and some very pleasant hourse with pen, paper and books in the shadow.

When the sun began to lower, John brought his secret items to the hiding place, washed up to make sure there were no traces from the pencil on his hands and started to prepare the supper from some smoked pork and dried peas, along with bread, cheese and fresh fruit.

It was later than usual when his husband came back, silent and seemingly absentminded as usual these days, and he didn’t taste the food, only the ale. John assumed he’d been eating at the tavern and simply took away the plate and put the pea stew in a bowl to cool down before putting it in the pantry til next day. He refilled his husbands cup and the man finally spoke.

”You’ll be alone for a while. I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for Tortuga and Ben is coming with Billy so I’ll leave the keys to Mr. DeGroot as usual.”

John swallowed.

”I see.”

I’m not going with you? You’re leaving me here all by myself, without even Ben to keep me company?

”Don’t pout about it. There’ll be more journeys and you didn’t take to well with the sea as I recall.”

It was my second time ever at sea, I was shit scared and it was a fucking storm!

”I’m not pouting.”

And you’re not gonna see me beg to come with you.

He left the ale jug on the table and made sure his voice was steady.

”Would you like me to help you packing your trunk, husband?”
”Why would I need your help?”

Suit yourself then. You’re not gonna see me cry, you grumpy old goat, and don’t bother with any gifts this time, not even for show.

John left the kitchen with as much dignity as he could muster and went outside to lock the hens in for the night. The rooster, Captain Flint, strolled around with his ridiculous crest, probably feeling like he owned the place and John scolded at him.

”That’s right. Inside with you, damn poultry. Stupid, fucking asshole bird! You’re not even laying the eggs around here. Just strolling around like some damn peacock. Well, let me tell you something, Mr. High and Mighty: one day you’ll end up in my stew! See how much you’ll be strolling then.”

Stupid enough, it felt good to spill out his anger on the rooster and John let the innocent bird know exactly how abnormal his husband was.

”You know, Captain, my husband is probably not fit to be married, actually. At least not to a man, and speaking of that, it’s not fucking natural for two men to marry. Well, perhaps it is for Ben and Billy, but not for that fucking redhead. And if it was so fucking important to live with a man, why the hell did he choose one he doesn’t even want to fuck, huh? Could you help me make sense of that?”  

The stupid bird just glared and John closed the door to the coop and locked it for the night. He went back inside, locked the door and snuffed out the fire. His grumpy husband seemed to have gone to bed and John went to their chamber. The man was actually in bed and John undressed, washed up and brushed the knots from his curls before getting under the cover. James sighed when the mattress shifted and John quickly turned to lie as close to the edge of the bed as possible.

”Goodnight, husband.”

James' voice was hard, almost scornfull and John felt the fear from their wedding night fall over him again. It took all strenght he could muster, to answer the man with a calm, steady voice:

”Sleep well, Captain.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”You did what?!”

Billy Bones’ face was one of disbelief and shock. The last yawl, containing James, his luggage and one of the riggers, had arrived to the Walrus just as they were ready to leave and with Ben below deck and Billy busy with the sails, they’d not noticed John’s absence before leaving the port. James didn’t have time to deal with that now and hissed:

”Keep your fucking voice down, Bones!”
”Not until you’re telling me why the fuck you left John in Nassau!”
”You know damn well why. He has no fucking sea legs and would only spend the time puking and whining.”
”This is your husband you’re talking about, Captain, not some damn wench or molly boy! You can’t be serious leaving him home by himself. Tell me you’re fucking kidding me?”
”DeGroot has the keys and it’s time John learns how to manage on his own.”

Billy looked exasperated.

”When did you decide on this? And why didn’t you tell me before we were leaving?”
”Why would I do that?”
”Because if I’d known that, I obviously wouldn’t have taken Ben with me!”
”Just because your husband is the best damn indoor spouse in Nassau, it doesn’t mean he has to assist mine. It’s well on time for John to learn how to manage on his own. And DeGroot will look after him, if he’s too fragile to handle a little solitude. He doesn’t need Ben to hoover over him.”

The sails was already up and the winds were strong. They couldn’t turn back now and Billy looked at his captain and old friend with disdain in his blue eyes.

”With all due respect, Captain, you’re a fucking asshole.”

The man went below deck, probably to talk to Ben and honestly, James didn’t care. John had no sea legs what so ever and would only end up getting in everyones way, causing trouble and make a fool out of himself, embarressing James.

Asked for a man with dark hair and any eyecolor as long as it’s not blue. That was the part he’d not been honest about and it had been nagging him ever since the wedding. It shouldn’t matter this much and the fact it did, only made James feel more contemptious. But to himself. The man he’d left behind had no choice, he couldn’t change his nature to suit someone else. James closed his eyes. An English rose in December… Next to Thomas Hamilton, who belonged to another time, another life, James had never seen a man as beautiful, innocent and in the same time strangely tempting as John Silver.

Ever since he’d laid his eyes on the nervous, lithe man who cried down his wedding bouquet with white roses, there’d been this urge to comfort him. To let him know that a life with James Flint could be tolerable, even good, and that he didn’t need to cry anymore. It wasn’t perfect, far from it, but what James hadn’t counted on, a thing that effected him far more than John’s seemingly lack of interest for men and all the crying, was the man’s eyes.

Ten years. Ten gruesome years and all he could see while looking at his husband’s questioning, insecure and frightened eyes, was the man he’d loved. The man he still loved, that John wasn’t and could never be. He shouldn’t have agreed to this arrangement. He should’ve picked his spouse himself. But as usual, Captain James Flint had been too busy with his longstanding relationship with the sea to be bothered, and now he was stuck with a blue-eyed, curlyheaded puppy who couldn’t cook, didn’t fancy men, had a sad lack of sea legs and didn’t know how to show simple gratitude when recieving a gift. As much as the thought horrified, even disgusted him, James knew he had no choice. When they came back home again, he had to search for another spouse and sell – how he hated that word! – John to someone who could be a more suitable match for him. A woman, of course, closer to John’s age who was willing to take a man with no cooking skills but a pretty face and lithe figure as her indoor spouse. Someone who wouldn’t make the man tremble with fear or turn away in disgust.

That’s how it had to be and to hell with Billy Bones’ fucking advices on patience. When they came back, James had to file for divorce and hand John over to a woman. It was the right thing to do. Wasn’t it?

TBC

Chapter Text

”Helping me with the garden, you say?”
”Well, maybe not exactly helping, Mr. DeGroot. I mean, I don’t actually know anything about gardening so I don’t know how much of a help I can be, but…”
”You’d like to learn, my back pain is killing me and Joji is on the account so I could use a hand?”

The old man chuckled and John felt himself blush. DeGroot shoved the pitchfork in the vegetable field and wiped off his hands on his trousers.

”So the old goat just left you at home…”

John nodded, still blushing and DeGroot made a displeased grunt.

”Well… He’ll be gone for a while and so will Billy and Ben. Have to admit I was a bit surprised when Joji handed me the key. Figured James wouldn’t want to leave you on your own this early, but on the other hand, that man has always been a mystery… Would you like to stay with me or on your own?”
”Uhm… Thank you, but maybe it’d be good for me to… you know…”
”Get yourself settled in peace and quiet while the redhead is off? Of course. And don’t look so scared, lad, I understand you more than well. It hardly gets easier to walk in a pair of new boots when the cobbler is watching your every step. And you really need to remember covering that curly head of yours,especially if you’re planning on helping me in the garden.”
”So… it’s a yes then, Mr. DeGroot?”
”In my age I’d be a bloody fool to turn down an offer of help, Mr. Silver, and believe me when I tell you I’ve done my fair share of stupid things, but I’m not that stupid. I’d be most grateful for your assistance. Tomorrow morning, around third hour*?”
”I’ll be here, Mr. DeGroot.”
”Just DeGroot. And don’t worry, lad. The old goat will come to his senses. Eventually…”

When John had gone back to his now very empty home, he felt just as angry as afraid, which was the first time since knowing he’d been sold. The fear had always had the upper hand until now. And as he closed the door and his eyes fell on the salon door, he felt strangely… relieved. He went to the bed chamber to wash up and change to lighter shoes. He took to the pantry and poured himself a generous cup of rum. Then he, very resolutely, walked straight into the salon, grabbed himself a handful of sweets from the table and stretched out on the sofa, talking to his absent husband:

”So, Captain, you’re disappointed with me? Then I’ll have you know I’m quite disappointed with you too. What’s that? Ungrateful, you say? Oh yes, because being pimped with jewellery, sleeping in satin sheets and being served sweets on a silver plate is, of course, things I’m so used to I ought to know exactly how to act, right? You fucking dumbass! I didn’t quite hear you, Captain? Oh, I can’t bloody cook? My heart goes out to you, but maybe you should’ve thought about that before you ordered a bride or groom or pet or whatever the fuck you asked for? Perhaps having a fucking look for yourself would’ve been a good idea, huh? But oh no, that was too much trouble for such an important and civilised gentleman as Captain James Flint!”

Good God, this felt good. The liqor, the sweets, the barking while lying shamelessly in the salon, but most of all the solitude. He didn’t know it himself, but in this very moment, weeks and weeks of tension fell off him with nothing and no one there to stop him in any way and it was fucking glorious.

TBC

*Third hour = nine o'clock in the morning

Chapter Text

”Husband…”
”Yes, dear?”
”I absolutely forbid you to feel responsible for this.”
”I don’t.”
”Yes you do. We’ve been married for more than three years and I know how you act when you’re feeling guilty for something you had nothing to do with.”

While talking in his low, calm voice, Ben didn’t even raise his eyes from the thread he currently used to mend one of his husband’s shirt sleeves. The ship’s cat Betsy slept in his knee and the strong, callous fingers let the needle dance in the sunlight as one of the six indoor spouses allowed on the trip, mended his husband’s shirt with skilled hands.

Billy loved to see him needle. It was one of the first things Ben had done for him when they got married. Mending Billy’s shirts. A lot of them had been teared up from working in the rigging and Billy’d praised Ben for the good work, telling the man just how hopeless he was with needlework himself, that he always ended up stitching himself or someone else and the very first smile had showed on his newly wedded husband’s blushing face.

Ben Gunn was an observer. He saw the tears in his shirts long before Billy noticed them and he could sense Billy’s shiftings in the mood like it ran with his own blood. Love was in the hands mending that sleeve and Billy was sometimes embarressed by himself for getting so sappy by the sight. His quiet, blueeyed, Scottish husband with strong hands and a dangerously clever mind under the golden hair. And no one knew… Betsy yawned in his lap and Ben smiled tenderly at the little creature. His own shirtsleeve was upfolded in the heat, revealing a just slightly rounded, muscled arm with light hairs and Billy had to picture something that really turned him off, to not let his blood rush to the wrong places. Luckily, Ben helped him with a reminder of his guilt.

”You didn’t know he was leaving him at home. Me neither. When I spoke to John, I thought James wanted to surprise him and had kept silent for that reason. And I, stupid as I am, thought it was to make him happy.”
”You’re not stupid, husband. I’d thought the same. Should’ve kicked James overboard and have him swimming back to shore.”
”As much as I’d loved that sight, I’m glad you didn’t.”
”Aren’t you worried?”
”Of course I am, love, that’s why I’m stitching. Since I can’t help out with all these manly tasks onboard, I guess I have to take it out on your shirt sleeves. Feel free to tear them up, I have lots of thread with me and even more time to spend.”

It was very difficult to read Ben Gunn. It had taken years and lots of patience for Billy to get to know the man who was as skilled aiming a long shot with a pistol as he was mending socks with almost invisible stitches. Who could kill a man with his bare hands, the same ones that made delicious pastries and hung up herbs to dry for his teas. Right now, as he fixed the tear in the sunlight, Billy was reminded of their first weeks together.

He’d not really had any wish to get married. A long life as a pirate had put thoughts about a steady home far away and a wife… Well, Billy’d never been interested in women. He’d tried, but neither whores or free women made his pulse raise in the right way. And men? To be honest, Billy found most men gross, boring and quite frankly stupid. They weren’t interested in anything but their own satisfactions, had little patience and took no pride in doing smaller tasks well. Billy Bones had lost count on how many times he’d hit his hammock with a hoarse throat from a whole day of constant education of men who didn’t understand what to do, or knew what to do but tried to sneak away earlier by doing a shitty work. And then came Ben Gunn.

Billy’d seen the man at the tavern together with some other prisoners who were put on the market for either slavery until working off a debt, or marriage. Around six inches shorter than him, messy blonde hair and a thin body whos features told he’d starved for a while and was used to hard labour. A body that, once it had some rest and could fill out a bit, would be an asset to any crew in need for a rigger. The blue eyes, however, were empty and tired, like he’d seen too much and long since stopped giving a shit about what happened to him. Billy’d just had a short glimpse of the man before he’d headed out on the account again, but had found himself thinking about the man every now and then.

The offer of working yourself to freedom was of course tempting for most prisoners, until they realised that not many of them would survive the quarry or other gruesome tasks during endless hours under the Caribbean sun. Many men and women prisoners chose to be either prostitutes, get married off or become house servants who technically weren’t slaves, but poorly paid employees who had to work long years before they could be free. The one good thing was that the governor was very strict on keeping count on days of serving and that people from his office would come to check that the employers didn’t treated their workers as slaves. The food should be proportionate to fit the work, rests during the hottest hours as well as a decent bed for the night were required.

Ben later told Billy he’d thought that would be his fate, until the Madame at the inn saw him and thought he’d fit to be a molly once he’d gotten a bit healthier. So, instead of more hard labour, Ben Gunn found himself working in the kitchen at the inn, eating quite well and being prepared to work as a molly.

Billy, being unused with anything that reminded of steady relationships and with the law of marriage in his heels, simply saw the man at the inn and asked about him. Was he available, did he fancy men and was he indoor material? The answer was yes on all three questions and Billy had thought he could start talking to the man a little, to see how he’d feel about a union. The problem was, more free citizens than Billy Bones needed a spouse and before Billy had a chance to speak with the man, he found out that both Singleton and the old goat Captain Lilywhite were about to get their hands on him.

And maybe Billy was a bit conceited, but he couldn’t imagine that the pretty man would have it better off with any of those bastards, so he put the highest bid and suddenly he had a husband. A shit scared, lonely and very skilled indoor husband who, after crying himself to sleep on their wedding night, spent his first day as an indoor husband by mending a pile of Billy’s ragged clothes, while trying to hold his tears back. Not knowing what to talk about with his newly wedded husband, Billy took to the first thing coming to mind: praising Ben for his needle skills, the kind words rewarded with the sweetest smile imaginable, sending a vibe of wanting through Billy’s body he didn’t knew one could feel from a smile.

”Husband…”
”Yes?”
”You’re starring at me.”
”It’s hard not to.”

And no one in their right mind should blame me.

Billy swallowed. Having your spouse with you onboard meant that you could fuck while on break, as long as you kept to your bunk, pulled the drape and didn’t make too much noise. An indoor spouse couldn’t refuse sex for any other reason than sickness, or recent childbirth if it was a woman, but a decent outdoor spouse shouldn’t force him- or herself on his or her indoor spouse like some animal either. Billy was very happy that his husband took as much pleasure in the act as he did and also felt free to say no if he wasn’t in the mood. Ben’s needle kept dancing in the sunlight and he smiled.

”You’re on break now, aren’t you?”
”I am.”
”Long enough for us to take to the bunk?”

Ben talking like that, low while looking like the model of decency, only with the slightly teasing smile on his lips, could still make Billy loose his breath and his blood forgot all about being properly spread out in his body, rushing to his cock with lightening speed. He leaned down to his husband’s ear.

”The bunk. Now.”

Being prevented from positions or actions that could reveal sweetness or anything even slightly reminding of Billy not being in absolute control, their options were a bit limited, not only due to the quite narrow bunk. Ben went in first while Billy looked through his bag for the oil and received some encouraging grins from some in the crew before he pulled the drape. Ben had already pulled down his trousers, went down on all four and spread open for him.

Billy’s mouth watered as he saw the man. The strong thighs, the firm ass and the clenching hole, all pretty and pink, longing for his cock. He wanted to taste it, bury his tongue in that glorious heat and make the man wet and shivering… Sighing from the thought, he leaned to Ben’s ear, whispering as low as possible:

”All I want is to taste you, Ben… Want to lick you so wet I wouldn’t need any oil…”
”Damn it, Billy…”

Ben’s voice was a restrained, panting whisper and he grabbed the base of his cock. They’d not fucked for days, the time hadn’t really felt right for any of them, and now they were both aching with need for it. Billy quickly slicked himself and slipped his index finger inside the heat with ease. He worked his husband open with skilled fingers, planting mute kisses over his back. Billy was, as both men and women had pointed out over the years, very well equipped and not taking time to prepare Ben properly, would lead to pain.

He loved to work him up. To feel the wet, hot skin clench around his long fingers for long minutes– not to mention his tongue – before finally, when the man was desperate for more, all but cried for his cock. This was, how ever, not the right time or place for such languid, intimate coupling and as soon as Ben was wet enough, Billy pushed slowly through his entrance and the tight skin squeezed his cock, forcing him to hold back a moan.

They couldn’t keep going for very long and soon Billy worked up a steady and fast pace, stroking Ben’s cock with an oily hand in counterpoint, squeezing the shaft and rubbing his thumb over the leaking slit and Ben came with an almost completely mute sigh. Billy came only seconds later as he felt the tightness inrease and his balls pulled up as streams of pleasure rushed through him, filling his husband with his release.

Later, as Ben once again sat with his needlework, talking to the ships surgeon, Dr. Howells knitting indoor wife Penelope, Billy stole himself a moment to turn his face away from everyones sight, looking out over the water with a blissfull smile on his serious face. Having ones heart just ten feet away, beating just for you, what man or woman of flesh and blood could possibly not tremble inside from such sight?

TBC

Chapter Text

”And this is chickpeas. You dry them, just as with yellow peas.”
”What do you use them to?”
”Stews, soups and you can mash them and use on bread if you’re out of butter or lard.”
”And what’s that? The big black things?”
”Oh, thats egg plants, or aubergines. Goes well with stews, but I prefer them fried i oil with a bit of garlic and pepper. My Joji came up with the recipe by accident, actually. He didn’t know what to cook and we were out of fish and eggs, so he decided to experiment a little. Turned out to be one of my favourite dishes.”

Walking around DeGroots and Jojis crops was a lesson in flavors and colours, as well as a beautiful sight. The different plants varied in size, colour, form and smell. There were lemon trees, orange trees, a circle shaped piece of land for herbs and lavender, filling the air with the most refreshing fragrances and furthest away in the garden, hitting a piece of the surrounding stonewall, were two big garden plots, one with potatos and one with corn. DeGroot nodded at the corn.

”It’s not a very large growth as you can see, but since there’s only two of us, there’s food on the market and my legs aint what they once were, it’s about what I can manage. Well, Joji helps me with the heaviest stuff, of course.”
”How… How is it being married to him? If it’s not rude to ask.”
”Nothing like being married to Flint, I can assure you.”

When John blushed, the old man smiled friendly and patted his back.

”The nature of mine and Jojis matelotage is nothing like a marriage, John. We’re not intimate like a man and wife, two husbands or two wives.”
”It’s… not required?”
”Even if it was, who’d know about it? It’s not like people expect Jojis belly to start growing.”

John involuntarily put his palm at his own belly with an expression of absolute horror and DeGroot chuckled.

”In case there’s not another arch angel coming down for a divine visit, I seriously doubt you need to worry about a growing belly, John Silver. Well, maybe from Ben Gunn’s pastries. They tend to be addictive. But you’re a quite lithe lad, of course. Some rich, fresh food would do you good and gardening is a good way to get you some appetite.”

Since fresh food, working outside and being exposed to the sun still was novelties for John, gardening turned out to be a challenge. It wasn’t really harder work than he’d done in London, but it was a different kind of work and just the part with taking in all the new information, learning how to treat the tools and how the different crops worked regarding watering, growth, sun and vermin were things it took time to understand. DeGroot found an old hat for John to use as a protection against the sun and although the former sailingmasters cooking wasn’t as exquisite as Ben Gunn’s, it was rich and plenty and John found out that he enjoyed the man’s company.

John had his breakfast alone at home, fetched water and wood and took care of the hens early in the mornings. Then he went to DeGroot, helping out while learning about gardening and was served a simple, but hot and steady meal at noon before resting at the old man’s backporch during the hottest hours. After another hour or two, working with the crops, they had a cup of tea and then John took his leave.

DeGroot, being the man he was, didn’t care much for the whole necklace thing, but since the law demanded John to wear it, the neighbor locked it around his neck before John took to the bay for a swim. Now, he couldn’t actually swim, so he had to stay close to the beach and getting naked was of course out of the question, but DeGroot had helped him with that. The man had simply given John some of Joji’s old clothes fit for the purpose. A thin pair of trousers with very wide legs and a thin, enormous shirt that made John look like an unusually neat scarecrow served to make his bathing routine decent enough for no one to bat an eye and John came to love the feeling of washing off the dust and heat in the blue, shimmering water at the bay.

He spent the rest of the early evening trying to read and write, and then go back to DeGroot for helping with the supper. John was pretty tired by then and the silent, friendly company from the older man did him good. He learned a little bit more about simple cooking, dishes he could make once his grumpy husband returned and spending time with the former sailingmaster, in the garden or at his backporch, made things feel… easier. John still cried every now and then, but unlike his husband, DeGroot didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

Before John took to bed, he did one more thing he was pretty sure he wasn’t allowed to do, but by then he was a bit too tired to feel ashamed or insolent for the act. The beautifully painted cembalo in the salon, reminded John about the only person in the Ashe household who’d been nice to him, miss Abigail, and how she’d allowed him to listen while practising. And since he’d loved the sound of it and no grumpy, fearsome redhead was there to punish him for the act, John tried to play.

John couldn’t read notes and had, of course, no musical training what so ever, but when it came to memorizing, he held the upper hand over many schooled people. If he closed his eyes, he could evoke very clear, detailed memories from watching Abigail Ashe practising, recalling melodies she’d played and let his own hands try to form them on the keys. The music, just as the gardening and the cooking, the books, the writing and the company from DeGroot, slowly but very effectively made John feel like he wasn’t a complete disaster. An understatement if ever there was one, but who was John Silver to know.

TBC

Chapter Text

”If you keep complaining about him or treat him poorly, I’ll rip your beard off, James.”
”Manage your own husband, Bones.”

Ben, who was the one supposed to be managed, sat quietly on the carriage with his new embroidery – a gift from his husband – and seemed to be doing just fine without any more managing, neither from his husband nor anyone else. Billy glared at his Captain. James had been unusually silent and edgy even for him during the whole journey and Billy reckognized the absentminded look in the green eyes and the short tone in the voice. The man had complained about John ever since Ben had mentioned how nice it would be to see him again and as their house roofs started to appeal before them, Billy’d had enough.

”At least tell me you bought him a proper gift.”
”I didn’t.”
What?
”He didn’t seem to like what I gave him the last time. Why should I waste any money on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Ben suddenly cleared his throat and nudged his husband. Billy, keeping his usual strict face as always while being in company with others, frowned.

”What is it, husband?”
”Pardon me for intruding, but may I speak?”
”You may. What is it?”

The blonde, meek indoor spouse swallowed and looked at the Captain.

”As far as my knowledge goes, John has been a servant all his life, has he not?”
”He has. In a wealthy house.”
”Yes, I believe he mentioned that and one can assume it would make him understand the value in costly things. Right?”
”Yes, that’s right. Go on.”

James frowned, but he didn’t seem angry, rather confused. Ben kept needling and continued:

”Well, it’s just that, maybe he does understand the value and that’s why he can’t really… take it.”
”And why wouldn’t he take it?”
”Because it’s… too much, Captain. Too big a step from being a slave emptying the privy to suddenly be dressed in fine linen and silver. Nothing in his life has prepared him for going from coal buckets and eating rubbish, to sleep in satin sheets and have a jewelry box. Pardon me for being so outspoken, Captain, but I don’t believe your husband is rude or ungrateful at all, at least not on purpose. Only confused and scared.”

Those were bold words coming from the lenient Ben Gunn, or any indoor spouse for that matter. Bold, though not improper or rude in any way and Billy didn’t correct him or seemed at all displeased. On the contrary, he gave his husband an affectionate pat on his thigh and looked at James with a face that left no doubts what so ever. Billy Bones agreed completely with his husband on this one and didn’t seem to have anything to add.

Ben didn’t say anything else, but returned to his embroidery, creating a beautiful pattern with thistles in light purple and green. Indoor spouses, naturally, didn’t owe any money and spending money on them was an important way for the outdoor spouse to show gratitude for the housework as well as a compensation for long time spent away from home. The fact that James hadn’t bought John a gift was nothing but outrageous and Billy shook his head in exasperation. James shrugged.

”Too late to do anything about it now anyway.”

Ben looked at his husband with a strange, pleading gaze he rarely used and Billy nodded, seemingly able to read his husbands thoughts.

”You can buy one of the gifts I bought for Ben and give to him. Not to make you look better, but for John’s sake. He needs a gift, especially since he was the only indoor spouse being left home. For more than three weeks.”

The tone left no room for argument what so ever and James hated the man for being right. He sighed.

”Alright.That’s very generous of you. What may I buy from you, Ben?”
”Well, what do you think he’d like, Captain?”
”What? I don’t know that!”

Billy muttered something barely audible about almost impressive stupidity and Ben assumed a very innocent face.

”How about a bath oil, Captain?”
”Excuse me?!”

James looked positively shocked and Billy had a very hard time not to laugh. Ben just kept on embroidering, keeping his eyes on the needle.

”Billy gave me some lovely bath oils and you may buy one of those, Captain. What fragrance do you think he’d prefer?”
”I… fragrance? How would I know something like that?”
”Well, you’re his husband, are you not?”

James blushed and Ben put down his embroidery and began looking through one of his many gift parcels from Billy. In a rather large box, several glass bottles with expensive bath oils in different colours with beautifully written labels were embedded in several layers of woll and hay, protecting the fragile items from the bumpy ride and James blushing increased as Ben handed the box over.

”Pick one you think he’d like.”
”How much do you want for it?”

Ben looked at Billy, who turned to James with a very firm gaze.

”How sorry are you for leaving him behind for almost a month, on one of few trips suitable for indoor spouses, and then not buying him any gifts?”

James sighed and took up his pocket.

”Name your price, Bones.”

TBC

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often James Flint was left speachless. In fact, it had only happened three times in his life as he recalled. The first time, Thomas Hamilton had smiled at him, fixing his blue, lively gaze in James’ eyes, making him stutter and swallow. The second time, the very same man had kissed him in front of his own wife. The third time was happening right now.

He’d went to pick up his fragile, pouty husband, hoping he’d not been too much of a trouble for his former sailingmaster, only to have DeGroot sending him home with a smirk on his face. And there, standing barefoot in a new field with crops, his muddy trousers legs folded, calves sunburnt and a big, riduculous hat over the curls as a protection from the sun, was his husband. His brown shirt had it’s sleeves folded to the elbows, revealing two lean arms, glimmering from sweat in the evening light and he was working in the field efficiantly, as if he’d done nothing but doing this his whole life.

James was dumbstricken. After being scolded at by that insufferable Billy Bones and his neat, spoiled and perfect little indoor husband, James had been half on his mind wishing he’d find John doing something that would give him an excuse to scold at him. Lying drunk from fine liqor on the sofa, perhaps, or maybe standing outside sooty all over from almost setting the house on fire, from a disastrous cooking attempt. Or crying. Anything but this. The garden was the one thing James had been forced to put on the future, and now, there was… a new fucking vegetable field standing almost exactly were he’d planned it and in it, his husband walked around cupping maize.

The curls had grown a little bit and were tied up under the hat. John was dirty, sweaty and his clothes dusty from dry soil catched by the wind. A disobedient curl had slipped loose from the braid and kept falling in his face, where a dark stubble covered his chin. A completely different man than the one crying down the isle, and yet the same. John looked up at the sun, realising the late hour and turned around to leave the crops. As he took off his hat and looked at the house, he twitched and his mouth dropped just a little. James didn’t know what to do, he just waited for John to walk out from the crops.

”So, you’re back now.”
”I am.”
”No deaths or injuries?”
”Paul, one of the riggers lost his footage up the main mast.”
”Don’t recall him. Had I known you’d be back this early I’d made something to eat. You must be hungry.”

John shoved the fork in the ground and collected his shoes. James looked at the corn, the herbs and the potatos growing in the newly digged fields and his husband nodded at the crops.

”DeGroot showed me. There’s corn, potatos, onions and some herbs. Thyme, lemon balm, basil and tarragon. And pumpkins, chickpeas and eggplants.”

He couldn’t find words. He just kept starring. At the crops. His husband. The herb garden. And then his husband again, looking at him with blue, serious eyes. A sound from the chicken coop had him turn away.

”Have to see to the chickens. I’ll make you some supper.”

The man went on his way and James swallowed.

”John.”
”Yes, husband?”
”I’m… glad to see you’re looking so well.”
”Thank you.”

John’s voice was calm and he left to see to the chickens. James starred at the man until he disappeared behind the door. Then he could start breathing again. He hurried into the house, found the kitchen in perfect order, chopped wood in a neat pile and fresh water already brought in for supper. James fled to the bed chamber, as if hoping there would be a complete mess in there, but everything was neat and clean. In a last desperate attempt to regain some of his right to be annoyed at John, he took to the salon, only to find it as neat and clean as ever.

He went to the backporch, looking at the garden. He should be angry about this. John hadn’t had his permission to do it. Hadn’t asked what crops James wanted or where he’d wanted to have the fields… He cursed at his own childishness. DeGroot had, of course, helped John with that. The old sailingmaster knew more than well how James would like his garden and what was more important, he knew far better than James how it should be planned to get the best out of it.

The rows with corn, potatos, eggplants and onions were not the fruits of an easy, light work. Nor one of a simple scalary servant, or a pouty, sensitive boy. This was weeks of hard labour. John must’ve practically lived in the field. And, of course, forced poor DeGroot to exhaustion. When thinking about it, how the hell had John paid for the crops?

”A fine piece of work if ever there was one, Captain.”

James turned around, spotting the greyhaired neighbor who stood almost lazily by the corn.

”He made you do this?”
”All I did was showing him how, Captain. He came over, shortly after you’d left, and asked to help.”
”In your garden? But he doesn’t know shit about crops.”
”He does now.”
”And these crops? How did he came over them? I didn’t leave any money for that.”
”I paid him with them, Captain.”
”Excuse me? Why would you pay that boy anything?”

DeGroot, smoking his pipe, frowned.

”That boy, as you seem to call your husband, has been almost as good of a help for me as my Joji or Ben Gunn. He’s worked long hours in my garden, every day since you left, and I wanted to pay him for that good work. And since you needed crops and your husband isn’t just quick on his feet but in his head as well, he figured he’d might as well take to the task.”

James didn’t know what to say and DeGroot snorted.

”And as you can see, if your head’s come out from your ass, he’s done one hell of a job. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to see to supper. Good evening, Captain.”
”Good evening… And DeGroot?”
”Yes, Captain?”
”Thank you.”

The sailingmaster dug in his pocket and threw him the key to John’s collar before he went back inside. James left too. There was water in the basin in the bed chamber, a clean towel and clean clothes put out for him on the chair next to the dresser. He slowly undressed, careful not to put his dirty travels clothes anywhere but in the sack John apparently used for laundry. It was almost filled.

While washing up and changing from the long journey, he could hear sounds travelling through the house. A table being set. A thick pancake baking in the pan. Water boiling, bread sliced and – a low humming. James put on a clean shirt and walked quietly to the kitchen. John’s hair was tied up and he was just about to cut the pancake, goldenbrown on the surface and filled with pork when he noticed James in the doorway.

”Supper’s ready.”

When John had served him and James took his first bite of the pancake, he gave up. At least in silence. There was nothing he could complain about right now. His husband had most certainly not spent the last weeks on a chaise longue, sobbing and pouting. In fact, he looked stronger, healthier and most of all calmer than James had ever seen him even close to. And the pancake was as good as if it had come from Ben Gunn’s kitchen.

”How was your journey?”
”It went well.”
”Are Ben and Billy back as well?”
”They are.”
”Good. I’ve missed Ben.”

But not me, little poodle, and I don’t blame you.

Somehow they managed to have an almost normal conversation. John didn’t show any signs of disappointment for being left behind, in fact, he was even more difficult to read. James felt like there was an invisible, yet very distinct border between them. One that hadn’t been there before his journey. John, somehow, didn’t seem half as uncomfortable as James did, and when they’d finished their supper and John had put the kettle on for the tea, James finally asked what had puzzled him since the sight in the cornfield.

”How did you manage all this?”

His curlyheaded indoor spouse opened one of the jars with tea and filled the pot with generous spoon before looking up, meeting James eyes with a firm gaze.

”Just because I’m not used to the sea, it doesn’t mean I’m made of glass.”

TBC

Chapter Text

When seeing his grumpy, indecipherable husband again, John didn’t know how to act. But that was, of course, nothing new in itself. He’d lost track of time while working in the garden, and hadn’t counted on James seeing him standing barefoot in the crops like that. To John’s slight relief, his husband had seemed more lost than him, for once.

They’d had their supper without any complaints about the cooking – or the tea – and whatever James had expected to find at his return, this wasn’t it. He looked around the house, the garden and the chicken coop, as if trying to find something to complain about. John had expected him to at least go on about the missing liqor and sweets, even if he’d only had a small amount of it. Not because James was cheap, because whatever faults the man had, miserliness weren’t among them, but to simply have something – anything – to be displeased about.

But there were no complaints. Non at all. Nor any praise for John’s work. Sure, his cooking wasn’t even close to Ben’s, but it was most definately edible and as for the garden, maybe something more than a how did you manage all this could’ve been said. John knew that DeGroot had been grateful for the help and he’d praised John’s work effort and how he’d handed the crops more than once. As far as John’s knowledge reached, James should’ve been far more pleased seeing evidence of his husband adjusting to the life in Nassau, the indoor life, than finding John idle and pouting.

Now, John wasn’t used to be praised for his work, since being a skivvy boy meant being the lowest in the household and the tasks he was set to do, weren’t difficult, only heavy and dirty. Therefor he didn’t at all reckognize the feeling that had started to grow inside him, little by little, as he tried an unfamiliar task, sometimes failing and then trying again and getting it right. Sometimes on his own, sometimes with DeGroot. It was a feeling that followed him throughout the day, a soothing notion of doing something right, wheather it was harvesting herbs and hang them drying to make spices, tend to the potato field or cooking a porridge that wasn’t burnt.

It came to him as the lines in his husband’s books got easier to understand, as his own scrawl got more and more straight and readable. It accompanied him after finding sheet music of a song he actually knew, Greensleaves, and spending long hours of cursing and discord before finally connecting the black spots on the paper with the right keys. If someone had ever praised John for something, or had he ever been given a chance to try more challenging things, he’d most certainly reckognized the feeling for what it was. But pride was a new feeling and no one had been there to tell him about it. That was, until Billy Bones came to visit one morning, two days after their return.

James was, as usual, in town doing something John didn’t care to ask about and Anne Bonny had showed up on Billy’s doorstep the same morning, asking to borrow Ben for an emergency dinner, since Featherstone's indoor wife Idelle had turned sick and they had long-distance guests of importance arriving who expected something more than bread, cheese and cold meat on their plates.

So, Billy Bones, who of course had given his permission, decided, after kissing his husband goodbye – in secret – to pay John a visit. He’d already heard about the garden from DeGroot, but as he went through the small door in the wall leading to Flint’s backyard and saw John on his knees in the crops, Billy couldn’t believe his eyes. When John turned around to see who the unexpected intruder was, he made half a smile and rose from the ground.

”Good morning, Mr. Bones. If you’re looking for my husband, I’m afraid you missed him by two hours.”
”I’m not looking for him and it’s still Billy. Good lord, John… I heard from DeGroot. This is… absolutely fantastic. You’ve created something beautiful.”
”Thank you… Billy.”
”James must be so proud of you.”
”He seemed to be surprised.”
”Just surprised? He should be singing your fucking praise, John.”

John shrugged and Billy, who’d been momentarily stunned by the garden, remembered how angry he still was with his old friend.

”It was very wrong of him to leave you behind, John. We didn’t know. Ben and I had already went onboard and we were ready to set sail when James came. I was in the rigging, took for granted you’d gone below already and Ben thought you were on deck.”
”Well I wasn’t.”

The man his old friend had brought home from England looked different. Stronger, steadier and definately more healthy, but living with a man who’d walked around with a more or less constant look of fear and discomfort the first time of their marriage, Billy Bones reckognized the look of a hurt and lonely husband when he saw it.

”What did he say to you, John? What happened when he came back?”
”Nothing. We had supper, he didn’t complain and I asked about the journey. He said it went well and then he asked how I’d managed to do this.”
”That’s it?”
”Well, he was tired from the journey so he went to bed early. And he left early yesterday, came back late. Left early today…”

And the gift he’d bought from him and Ben, obviously hadn’t been delivered. Billy sent a silent prayer of thanks for not asking John about it, as well as a silent curse over James. Damn that asshole and to hell with acting like the perfect outdoor husband who shouldn’t show a friend’s indoor spouse too much tenderness! Billy pulled John close in a hug and the poor man had probably been on the edge for days, because he practically drenched Billy’s shirt with his tears.

”Poor little dear… Your husband is a bloody idiot, not to mention a lousy piece of shit for leaving you behind like that.”
”I… I don’t know what he wants from me, Billy! I don’t understand him.”
”Come here, John.”

Billy lead him to the bench standing by the wall and sat down, still holding a burly arm around him.

”James is… a hard man to get to know. I’ve worked with him for years and even though I’m the closest to a friend he’s got in Nassau, I wouldn’t say I know him very well. He’s not cruel, just a bloody pain in the ass who’s made a habit of walking around with a constant look of discontent on his stupid face.”
”I just want him to be pleased with me. I know I’m not as perfect as Ben, but I’m trying.”
”Ben’s not perfect, John. Neither am I or your grumpy captain. And you shouldn’t compare yourself to Ben. He was more or less raised in a kitchen and had spent years cooking on ships, taverns and even in some wealthy households before we got married. It’s not your fault that James decided to marry someone without being sure the man could cook. And I assure you, that if I’d came home from a journey, finding Ben growing a garden like this, people would have to strike me unconscious to stop me from bragging. You have every reason to be proud of yourself, John.”

John laughed. It was the first laughter he’d let out in weeks and however small and teary, it was still a laugh. Billy Bones was still quite frightening, but at least he knew how to talk to a man.

”Would… would you like to see the lavender plot, Billy?”
”You’re growing lavender as well?”
”Uh-huh.”
”I’d love to.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”Well, Miranda… Thomas. What do you have to say?”

The wind and the waves spoke in their stead, leaving him without an answer, but he didn’t need any. He already knew exactly what his loved ones would think of his behavior. James glared at the waves, as if the sea who’d brought the man to him was responsible.

”Don’t bother with scolding. Billy’s already done that plenty. The poodle couldn’t handle the sea last time and I thought… Actually, I don’t fucking know what I thought anymore, but it can’t stay like this, Thomas. And above everything else, he’s got your eyes.”

There. He’d said it out loud. The man he’d taken as a husband, had his first true loves eyes – and his second true loves nose. Seeing the man in the garden, raising his head slowly, woke up the memory of Miranda Hamilton looking up from her roses to greet him. Ridiculous. It was a damn nose, for fucks sake, and now James had hurt the man once again for no other reason than ghosts from the past, John Silver didn’t know anything about and couldn’t defend himself against.

Pretending Thomas and Miranda could see and hear him, made it easier to be honest and James looked out at the sea.

”He’s afraid of me, Thomas. I have nothing of your natural kindness, nothing of your gentleness. And even if I did, he doesn’t take an interest in men. He’d be disgusted if I tried to touch him like a husband.”

But you don’t know that. Don’t you remember how he blushed when you said he looked beautiful? How he leaned against your shoulder in Billy’s carriage? How much he enjoyed the reading, having his feet on your lap… He wasn’t disgusted at all, he was amazed.

And scared. Weak? No. But scared. But of what? The anger? The silence? The touches? James couldn’t tell and asking was out of the question.

”He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, Thomas. Of men, women, things of nature and things made by the hands of mankind. And you know I was never one to handle delicate things, nor living, nor dead. And I desire him… By God, I desire him! Seeing him in that field, Miranda, wearing that stupid hat just like you, looking back at me with Thomas’ eyes, just showing me with his whole being how hurt he was, I just…”

Just what? Felt ashamed? For what, dearest James? For wanting him? Or for him finding out you’re seeing something more than a crying burden you didn’t ask for?

”You know I’m not like you. It’s never been easy for me to bare looks of resentment. And I know I… I couldn’t bare to see it in his eyes.”

You’re about to fall in love with him. No matter the colour of his eyes.

”You’ve always been such an idealist, Thomas! And where did those high and just ideals lead you? Don’t think I’d make the mistake of looking for something that will never happen. He resents my touch, he’s either stiff like a broomstick or shaking like a leaf when I touch, or even look at him.”

But so did you, my love.

”What are you talking about?”

You’re trying to convince yourself that you’ve forgotten all about it, but that memory is as clear to you as the smell of John’s hair when he slept on your shoulder in the carriage. The dining table, my father speaking down to me, to Miranda, to you. And you were the one standing up to him, because you couldn’t take the way he stomped on our dreams.

”Thomas, stop it, I don’t want to…”

It was beautiful to see you, James. You and Thomas. I was watching as you finally dared to admit what you felt. When my husband kissed away your shame and you his. Now you’re ashamed again, and so is your husband. You have to do something about it.

”But I don’t know what. Or how. You realise I have to file for divorce?”

After a few months of marriage, whence one on a ship, another on a travel you didn’t let him to…

”Stop it! You know why. I thought he’d feel better without me.”

Finally, James.

”Finally, what, Miranda?”

A little honesty. You couldn’t stand the thought of him sharing your cabin. You were afraid of having him turning away in disgust, crying and trembling…

”He’s just a boy!”

Now, come on, James… I know he’s young, but he’s nearly thirty and hardly a boy. And you’ve seen him undressed, haven’t you?

”I have not!”

He’s beautiful, James. A beautiful, intelligent and sensitive man who’s just as confused as you. Neither of you know how you feel, but that doesn’t mean you can keep on hurting him like this. He’s trying so hard to please you. Don’t mistake his fear for rejection or disgust.

”You make it sound so easy, Thomas.”

And how easy do you think this is for him?

”Thank you, Miranda, but I already have one insufferable Billy Bones. I don’t need another.”

Then perhaps you should start listening to him, James. Who’s shoulder do you think your confused poodle is crying against when you’re treating him like a leper?

”Then what shall I do?”

Be the gentle, kindhearted man who shared our home and bed. Have patience and be strong. Your husband is a strong man, but he’s also lonely, confused and unloved.

”Unloved?”

Oh, for Christ’s sake, James! Look at him! He’s known care and kindness about as little as he’s known how it is to wake up in silky sheets or go to sleep with a full belly. Can’t you see how unused he is to this? Can’t you reckognize the fear for what it is?

”And what’s that, Thomas?”

The longing for something he doesn’t have a name for, yet… Just as you, my love, so many years ago.

The wind had fallen, the waves turned still and the faces of Thomas and Miranda Hamilton were gone.

TBC

Chapter Text

If the reunion with his husband had been tense and the reunion with Billy teary-eyed, the one with Ben later that day was sweet as the man’s pastries. Ben looked happy and instead of the shy handshake on their first meeting, they shared a hug and Billy’s indoor husband practically jumped with curiosity and praise over John’s garden.

”I’ve never been good with herbs, John. God knows why I can’t seem to make them grow properly, I’ve tried numerous times, but I guess I just lack the touch.”
”You could ask Mr. DeGroot. I did that.”
”Believe me, John, I have. I think we agreed that I shouldn’t be let near crops still growing.”

The realisation that Billy’s perfect husband actually wasn’t perfect with everything – and didn’t seem to care about it – secretly made John a little proud. Ever since meeting the man, John had somehow felt like he was taking part in a contest he was doomed to loose. Now, for the first time, he could show something to be proud about. Still without really understanding that was what he was feeling, but it was nontheless a progress. Ben wanted to know everything about the crops and herbs and the hour turned late when an amused Billy Bones came walking, wondering if there was no supper this evening. Ben immediately blushed.

”God, how could I forget about time like that… I’m so sorry, husband.”
”Oh, I wont starve to death, Ben. And this garden is a perfectly good excuse for forgetting supper.”

John suddenly got worried. James should be back now as well and he looked at the front porch, but Billy just shook his head.

”I’ve not seen him, John. Why don’t you have supper with us?”
”But, what about James…”

John hesitated, but Billy smiled.

”I’m sure Ben could make a portion for him as well.”

The indoor husband practically ran away to his kitchen and John threw a guilty look at Billy.

”I’m sorry for making Ben forget about time. Please don’t be mad at him, it was all my fault.”
”I’m not mad at my husband, John. Not in the least. And not with you either.”

John followed Billy back to his house and the homey kitchen where Ben was already halfway done with chopping goat meat and vegetables for the stew and John quickly lend him a hand by setting the table, cutting the bread and slicing up peppers and onions.

”Holy shit, I’m crying again!”
”What?”
”Huh?”

His eyes were all teary again and John got so frustrated he slammed the knife against the onions while Ben and Billy looked at him with very confused eyes. John sighed.

”Can’t even cut fucking onions without sobbing!”

Ben cleared his throat.

”You’ve never handled raw onions before? Ever…?”
”No! I carried wood and water, scrubbed floors and washed linens. I told you earlier I was never let near the food apart from mealtimes. Damn it, this is stupid… Crying for some fucking vegetables…”

Billy looked at his husband. Ben looked at Billy. Then they looked at John again. Seconds later, both men were laughing and Billy shook his head.

”God, how did Flint found you, John Silver…”

Ben fetched a wet tovel for John’s eyes and then quickly cut the remaining onions for the stew, while Billy, still laughing, explained the nature of raw onions. Within minutes the stew was boiling and just as Ben served his husband ale, the door went open and James came inside. John involuntarily tensed but Ben went out to greet the man.

”Welcome, Captain.”
”Good evening, Ben. I found a note from your husband about an invitation for supper.”
”That’s right. I occupied John in the garden for too long, so I thought I could make you supper as an apology.”
”It’s hardly your fault John forgot about time, but I’m very grateful for eating at your table, Ben.”

Because we all know my husband can’t cook. It was true that John was in no way near Ben Gunn’s skills, but he could actually cook simpler meals now without destroying the food. Not that John dreamt of talking back to his husband, but it was still unfair.

Ben served James first, since he was the outdoor guest, then Billy who was the other outdoor spouse at the table. Then John and at last himself. In an attempt to ease things up, Billy talked about John’s garden and asked about how DeGroot had chosen the different plants. Ben was very interested in the herbs and John told about how he and DeGroot had planned the location in order to get the most sun.

”I hope you didn’t brought the old man to exhaustion, John.”
”I didn’t, husband. I did the heavy work myself, he just showed me how.”
”It didn’t occur to you that I might wanted to have a word about how to plan the garden?”

”James…”

Billy looked at his old friend with a warning but also pleading gaze. John swallowed.

”I asked him about that and he said you’d already told him that you trusted his judgement. I didn’t decided any crops or locations myself, I promise. And as for the payment for the seeds, I worked in his garden. You can ask him if you don’t believe me, husband.”
”Well, that’s reassuring. But it’ll be lots of hard work for you, John.”
”I’ll manage. And I thought you’d be pleased with something that means you don’t have to spend as much money on food from the market.”

He wasn’t rude, he knew that. He may have been taken some liberties, but he’d done it with the blessing from DeGroot, who was an old friend of his husband, and it was all done for something that would be beneficial to James. John felt the tension increase but then, suddenly, his husband smiled.

”Of course I’m pleased, John. I guess I just wasn’t really prepared for the sudden change.”

You weren’t prepared? You? Sudden change? It’s a fucking vegetable field! I was put on a ship to a new continent, to marry a man – not a woman, a freaking man! – I’d never met before, to live on an island with weather, food and customs so unfamiliar to me it could might as well belong to another world, and you weren’t prepared for me growing some fucking potatos and lavender?!

But he knew how to hide his feelings. Apart from the initial shock of the marriage and the new world, and the weeks of raging fluids coming to life before they calmed down enough not to make walk around crying all the time, John was very good putting a neutral face on. He smiled curtious at the unprepared, grumpy ginger.

”I hope you’ll come to like it, husband.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The garden. The music and the books. Billy’s praise and Ben’s company. Those were the things that hold John up for the following weeks. He rose at dawn, worked in the garden, fed the chickens and picked up the eggs before making breakfast, eaten in mostly silence with his husband. When James left, John spent an hour practising the cembalo before preparing the midday meal. By doing it early, with doors and windows closed – and curtains pulled – he could do it without raising too much attention. James, Billy and Joji were all in town, DeGroot had a bad hearing and wouldn’t notice and Ben was mostly occupied with indoor chores at this hour.

Before leaving the salon afterwards, John made sure any sign of anyone having touched the cembalo was gone. He was starting to get quite skilled, not that no one knew, but the lonely hour with the instrument had a soothing effect on him. While letting his fingers wander over the keys, John temporarily forgot about James’ displeasure with him and the new kind of discomfort that had started to grown since his return. Just as with the pride and the care, John wasn’t used to feel frightened for being good at something. Not being good enough at chores expected from him was highly stressful in itself, but having to hide accomplishments out of fear for displeasing anyone, was ten times worse.

He still used a little time in the afternoons practising his reading and writing, but he didn’t dare to borrow any books from James now as the man was back home, but asked to borrow some of Ben’s instead, after being assured of his silence on the matter.

”Can you promise me not to tell James about this? I know we’re not supposed to lie, but it’s just books, right?”

The were sitting in Ben’s kitchen and it was afternoon, with at least two hours before they could expect their husbands back and had taken some time to rest and have a drink as Ben worked his needle. The blonde man had a concerned expression on his face.

”Of course I wont tell him, if you don’t want me to.”
”How about Billy?”
”It’s my books and I don’t need his permission to let you read them. And it’s not like he’s gonna look for them anyway. Cooking and poetry aren’t really his cup of tea. Of course you may borrow them, on one condition.”
”And what’s that?”

Ben put his needle down and took a sip of his drink.

”Why wont you borrow any of James’ books? He’s got lots of them and on far more interesting subjects than my small collection. He knows you can read, right?”
”I’ve mentioned it. He didn’t sound displeased.”
”But?”
”Can you keep another secret?”
”As long as it’s not something that would put any of us into serious trouble, I can.”
”What counts as serious trouble?”
”You’re not planning on stealing anything, running away or get yourself hurt on purpose, I hope?”
”God no! No there’s nothing like that, I promise.”
”Alright then. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”
”Even with Billy?”
”On my word. Now, tell me what this is about, I’m getting really curious.”

John bit his lip.

”Since you went away on that journey, you know I’ve spent a lot of time with the garden, right?”
”Uh-huh.”
”And James didn’t seem to be very pleased. Well, maybe not displeased, but I got the feeling that he didn’t like me doing it.”

Ben snorted.

”Then he, if you pardon my boldness, is either mad or stupid. Don’t tell him or Billy I said that, for God’s sake!”
”My lips are sealed. Alright then… I’m… I’m learning how to write and play the cembalo.”
”You what?!”

John swallowed. This was a mistake. He shouldn’t have told Ben.

”Please, don’t tell him about it! I’ll stop it, I promise, just don’t…”
”This is amazing, John!”
”What?”

Ben looked at him with nothing but pure admiration in his blue eyes and his face lit up in a light, cunning smile.

”You spent that old goats absence creating a garden, reading, practise writing and learning to play a fucking instrument? You really are a man of many talents, John Silver…”
”Could you please, please, please promise me not to tell him about this?”
”You’re asking me to pretend you’re less talented than you really are… Fucking depressing. But of course I’ll shut up about it. Not a word to anyone. Not Billy, not the neighbors and most definately not your husband.”
”Thank God… You’re a true friend, Ben.”
”So are you. But I still can’t understand why you think James would be displeased with this. A husband who’s well-read, musical, is making a garden and knows how to write... Any man or woman in their right mind would love the prospect of a spouse that talented. Indoor or outdoor. A good behavior, cooking skills and sweeping floors aren’t the only desireble talents for an indoor spouse, you know. You know that Idelle, Max Marliot’s indoor wife, plays the fiddle?”
”She is?”
”And well I might add. An indoor spouse who can play an instrument is absolutely something an outdoor spouse would take pride in. Actually it’s one the things both spouses can do. Billy is quite skilled with the lute and I play flute on occasion. Not that I’m skilled, but at least it’s good enough for dancing with friends.”
”Oh… So… you think James would approve of me playing the cembalo?”
”I can’t imagine he wouldn’t. I know he’s fond of music. You will tell him, I hope? I mean, now that you know it’s something that’s both allowed and desireble?”
”Yes, but not quite yet. I’d like to get a little better first.”
”And then surprise him?”

Ben’s smile was warm and John couldn’t help but blush a little. Knowing that non of his developing skills not only weren’t forbidden for indoor spouses but even desired, suddenly made things feel a lot easier.

”Something like that, yeah… Hopefully he’ll like it better than the garden.”
”Oh, John, he do like the garden.”
”It certainly doesn’t seem so.”
”Well, if there’s any consolation, both me and Billy think it’s fantastic. And from what I’ve heard, DeGroot spoke very highly of you with Max at the tavern a couple of nights ago.”
”Really?”

Billy’s indoor spouse refilled their cups and grinned as he rose his own in a toast.

”To your secret skills, John Silver. And trust me: when James learns your true value, he’ll realise he’s a very blessed man.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The change in John’s behavior wasn’t noticable if you didn’t know him. Or at least had met him often enough since his arrival to Nassau. The scared man with eyes wide in either surprise or fear and legs shaky from the climate change was nowhere to be found. In his place, a tanned, slightly muscled and, at least physically, very stable man had taken form.

He rose early, worked hard and the usually so unreadable face, could break up in a smile even more stunning than the long, thick curls. He didn’t crouch in the bed anymore either, not that he had to. James was more than certain that his husband was happy to be left alone. Although, sometimes it was hard to not reach out and touch him. The only times James dared to touch the man, was when the blue eyes were shut and the soft mouth breathed calm and heavy in deep sleep. Only then, when the beautiful man slept soundly beside him, James could allow himself to touch him.

Just watch him sleeping was a painful pleasure. The tanned skin from long hours of work in the garden, the curls smelling from sunlight and herbs and  the hands he used to put lavender oil on after washing, to keep them from getting too chapped from laundry or bristly plants. Once James was certain the man slept deep, he carefully buried his nose in the curly tangles, only enough to feel the scent of the man without risking to disturb his sleep.

So much beauty. Too much. It was agonizing sleeping next to the man. Promising not to touch him had been easy for many months, since the crying, pale and scared man was hardly tempting and also very skittish. And now, as the months had passed and their first anniversary was already behind them, the only visible sign of affection had been a large bouqet with white roses on John’s dresser. He’d hung them up to dry before they withered and James had taken it as a sign of at least some kind of acceptance. But they’d not shared more intimacy than shallow kisses on cheek and a few embraces.

To refuse sexual intimacy wasn’t an option for an indoor spouse and James was fairly sure John didn’t want any of the sort. He’d decided to spare them both the discomfort and embarressment of the man’s almost certain disgust for the act, but to James’ great worry, it had been harder to remain abstinent. And so, James had turned to the only weapon he had left: fear.

Oh, how he despised himself! Gone were the comforting touches, the soothing words and friendly smiles. The short time he’d been able to show the man tenderness, to indulge and comfort him was gone as if it had never existed. The gap between them had only increased once James had decided not to take John with him on the trip to Tortuga. Even though the man had accepted the decision without questioning, the hurt look on his face only appearing for a moment before it disappeared, should’ve made James change his mind. But the moment was too short, the blue eyes turned indecipherable again and James never opened his mouth.

He’d spent the journey in silent agony. There was no other word for it. Aching for a man than didn’t want him, who had to obey him and wouldn’t even wear the necklace given to him triggered some very unpleasant, and quite frankly, highly unfair thoughts about his husband. James decided not to buy him any gifts. If the man didn’t even want to wear the jewelry already given to him, he wouldn’t bother to buy anything more. The bathoils he’d later bought from Ben, were locked inside James’ desk and instead of a gift, John had received scorn.

God in heaven… Seeing John in the field with the hat on just like Miranda! It was more than he could take. He’d had to take his husband down, couldn’t risk to elicit that stunning smile, see it reach the eyes. He’d gone mad from it. From guilt and sorrow. From lust. From wanting a man who did anything he could to please him, but still was afraid of him. Still didn’t want him and never would. Only a slave with another name, who’d never see James as anything but a fearful master.

It wasn’t John’s fault. Of course James knew that. He wasn’t able to lie quite that much to himself not to admit it. His husband worked long hours, eyes weary from the day, and James knew it was too hard. The burden the man had taken on to himself was too heavy but everytime James wanted to tell him that, to show care, something stopped him. He couldn’t find the words and John’s confused and worried face expression only made it worse. James Flint couldn’t handle a man like John Silver. The changes, the silence, the sharp mind he tried to hide to not displease James, completely unaware of how much that developing intelligence increased James’ lust for him. It was nothing but torture.

He couldn’t divorce him. Not now as it was clear to all how capable John was. That had been James’ initial thought. To find a pleasant woman who’d be able to give John a kind of intimacy the man wouldn’t despise. Someone who could reward him for his efforts in a better way than James. Those had been his thoughts and as John kept his distance and didn’t seem to be in need of his comfort anymore, the more it felt like the right decision.

When Eleanor Guthrie asked James if he could take a shipping with cigars from Havannah on very short notice since both Vane and Bonny were otherwise occupied and Blackbeard had caught a really bad lumbago, he accepted without hesistance. The preparations didn’t take much time and the only small bother was that the usually reliable Billy Bones had to be temporarily replaced. Ben had caught a fever a week earlier and even though he was much better, he felt unusually tired and Billy was highly reluctant to the idea of leaving Ben alone for weeks. Especially since they’d been far more often than usual the last months.

No one argued with that decision. Staying home to just keep your spouse company was hardly acceptable, but to leave a sick or weakened spouse alone for more than a couple of days was considered breaking the honor code of an outdoor spouse, so Anne Bonny took Billy’s place and the remaining preparations went smoothly. James left home early in the morning, after being served a steady breakfast and giving his husband a shallow kiss on cheek. And that should’ve been it. If he hadn’t forgotten his damn watch.

He was almost halfway to the harbour, when he’d noticed it. Since he’d left quite early, as usual avoiding John’s company as much as possible, there was plenty of time going back to get it. And as he, over an hour after saying goodbye to John, reached the house, he heard it.

He froze on spot below the front porch. Miranda… The floating, soft sound of her cembalo. Greensleaves taking form from skilled fingers. He couldn’t breathe. He just stood there, listening in silence and the music stopped. Then steps and a door being shut. John had left the room and James couldn’t move. He stood frozen for at least ten minutes, before he finally lifted his feet, opened the door quietly and walked inside. The watch lay on the chair in the hallway and as he took it, John came out.

”Oh… Husband! You scared me. Why are you back?”

The fingers who’d recently walked over the keys on Miranda’s cembalo were holding a bucket with water and James lost it. He dropped his watch, took the bucket from John’s hand and slapped him hard in the face. The man let out a small sound of shock.

”James… What are you…?”

Another slap on the other cheek and then James grabbed the curls and forced the man into the bed chamber.

”Husband, please! I don’t understand, what have I…”

He didn’t listen. Refused to. Instead he pushed the man to the bed, ripped off his trousers and put him over his lap.

He shut his ears. Forced himself not to listen to the mans cries of shock, fear and pain. He hit him with his palm, over and over, as hard as possible, not seeing the markings he was leaving. Not hearing his husband crying and begging for forgiveness for whatever he’d done.

”God, please stop! Please tell me what I’ve done wrong! I don’t understand…

TBC

Chapter Text

He’d stopped screaming only when the slaps had stopped, when he was released from the humiliating position and the cold, emotionless voice told him to compose himself. And then, without another word, the door slammed and his husband was gone.

The only thing keeping John from falling to the floor, was the fact that the bed was within reach and shaking like never before, he lay down on his stomach over the embroided cover, crying from pain, humiliation and the pure shock. What had happened? What had he done? After months of not even a slap on cheek when crying too much, his husband suddenly… put him over his lap like a child. No warning, no words, nothing. Just an ice cold, terrifying green gaze looking right through without really seeing him, a slap on cheek that hit the nose, making it bleed and then…

He buried his face in the pillow, muffling the sound of his sobbing. The fear that had started to decrease a little was back in full, the last weeks sense of strenght and confidence shattered to pieces along with his pride. His husband had punished him without warning, ripped his trousers and treated him like a disobedient child, not even telling him what he’d done wrong.

James had never hit him before. Not once and he’d wondered why. Even Ben Gunn got whipped as far as the sounds from his and Billy’s home could tell. If John hadn’t heard the sound from Billy’s thick leather belt, he’d actually found it hard to believe. Billy was strict, hard even, but also understanding and comforting. And John knew this wasn’t how Billy punished his husband. Not in this humiliating position. Not without telling him what he’d done. Not until he bled… Oh, how could he have let himself be fooled like this? Believing James wouldn’t hurt him, wouldn’t humiliate him.

It seemed like hours until he heard steps and he crouched on the bed, covering himself by pulling a piece of the blanket over his hips.

”John? Are you here?”

Billy. The man couldn’t see him like this and John prayed the man would leave.

”John, it’s time for su… John? What happened? Are you unwell?”
”Please, just go…”
”Are you ill?”

John let out a small whimper when he felt the cover be lifted.

”Jesus…”
”Don’t look at me! I… please… I… I don’t know what I’ve done, Billy! He didn’t tell me, he just… ripped my trousers and… put me over his lap! And then he left!”
”Wait… He didn’t tell you why?”
”No!”

His voice broke as the tears started to flood again and Billy went down beside him. He tried to tell Billy about it and the man listen patiently, holding a big hand on his shoulder. John knew he cried like a boy, but he couldn’t help himself and when he heard Billy snort, he was sure the man despised him.

”Please, I know I probably deserved it, but…”
”No, you didn’t.”
”What?”

John forced himself to look up at the man, who had his lips pressed hard and scowled.

”I don’t know James’ reason for punishing you, but this isn’t how you’re supposed to do it. You don’t punish your spouse before he knows what he’s done wrong and had a chance to explain himself and…”

Billy gritted his teeth.

”You most certainly don’t put a grown man or woman over your lap like a child and then fucking leave afterwards! I don’t know what’s gone into him, but this is just wrong, John.”
”He has the right to…”
”Now you listen to me, John. To discipline and humiliate are two different things and frankly I don’t give a damn about what reasons James thought he had to do this, because he fucking shouldn’t have! Just lie down just as you are and don’t move.”
”Are you gonna punish me too?!”
”No, silly poodle, I’m going back home to tell my husband we’ll have to wait with supper and then getting some of his ointment. I’ll be right back, dear.”

In fact, Ben came with him and despite the humiliation, John was grateful that the indoor spouse took care of his sore ass instead of Billy. Ben was very gentle, but it hurt badly and the man shook his head.

”You aint gonna sit on that for a week or more. I’m serious, John, you’ve gotta eat standing.”
”So what? It’s his bloody right, isn’t it?!”
”Hey, hey, don’t get yourself all worked up, John.”
”No, of course I should take it as fucking dignified as you, you bloody saint! But your perfect husband is of course so fucking moderate and predictable, right?”
”John! You mustn’t speak about my husband like that.”
”I don’t give a fuck! He and James can take fucking turns on me if they wish! And you can use me as a bad example!”

Ben threw an exasperated look at his husband.

”Billy, help me…”

The giant bit his lower lip.

”Go get something from your cabinet, dear. Something really strong.”
”Of course. Should’ve thought of that…”

When the indoor spouse left, Billy sat down next to John and stroke his hair.

”Has he done something like this before? With no warning and in that… position?”
”No. Never…”
”And he didn’t say anything, didn’t yell at you or corrected you for something?”
”No! If I knew what I’ve done I’d tell you!”
”Alright, alright… Easy now.”

Ben was back with a bottle, he must’ve been running the whole way and gave Billy cup as the giant took a firm, but gentle grip around John’s head.

”Lift your head.”

The drink Ben had brought him burned his throat and he coughed.

”My ass is already on fire, you’re gonna lit up my mouth too?!”

His manners were gone with the wind, but non of the men seemed to take offense and soon the burning beverage made John very drowsy and the pain faded away. When Billy was sure the man had passed out, he wrapped him in the sheet and took him in his arms. He nodded at Ben.

”Could you lock the door, darling?”
”Of course.”

Ben gave Billy a pat on the shoulder and took the keys.

TBC

Chapter Text

”How could he do this to him?”
”If I only knew, darling… If I only knew.”

To say Billy was shocked was somewhat of an understatement. He’d carried the hurt, humiliated and passed out man in his arms and put him to bed in the guestroom, where Ben had taken care of the badly trashed skin. The blooded cloths and Ben’s hard eyes as he came out from the room, were more than enough to understand how badly John had been beaten. The blonde indoor husband poured out the basin on backporch and rinsed out the cloths. He came back in, sat down by the fire with his husband, starring into the flames.

”I thought he was in love with him, Billy.”
”So did I.”
”The way he looked at him, the smiles and… I just thought he’d gone a bit aloof again to, you know…”
”Not diving in too fast.”

Billy sighed. How could he’ve been so wrong? And not just him, Ben too. His husband had been almost certain that James didn’t hit John and to be honest, law or no law, Billy hadn’t thought James would want to punish John like that. It didn’t fit with the way James looked at John when the curly poodle didn’t know he was being watched. Billy’d never seen his harsh Captain with that gaze before. For the first weeks, the green eyes had oscillated between confusion and frustration, a gaze revealing the insecurety the man felt with his fragile husband.

Then, for some weeks, the frustration more often than not was turning to tenderness. Something with John made the aloof, peevish man soften, almost instinctively and his husband, although just as oblivious as the grumpy ginger, clutched for every single piece of sweetness the man gave him. As long as he could understand it. Neither of the men had been prepared for each other and, what was worse, they were both too afraid to ask the right questions.

He’d tried to ask John for any reason, not that Billy would ever consider it an acceptable one, for the action, but the heartbroken man hadn’t been able to think of any and Billy suspected he really didn’t know. He’d never seen John so scared before and to think that it was the man’s own husband being responsible for the fear, made Billy’s mind running wild with violent thoughts, but it was Ben who gave voice to them, when he came to sit by the fire.

”Billy?”
”Yes, my love?”
”How fond are you of my hair?”
”Very. How so?”
”Then I suggest you do something about James before I see him, because otherwise your meek husband is in a very real danger of being flogged and get a haircut in public for having disgraced his outdoor spouse by beating up the neighbour.”

Billy grabbed the man’s wrist and pulled him onto his lap. He buried his nose in the golden hair and kissed it.

”Any man or woman who pulls even a strain of hair from your head, will regret it for the rest of their lives… And believe me, dearest husband, my heart and soul… If James isn’t already trembling inside of guilt and regret, he will once he returns…”

TBC

Chapter Text

”Husband, please! I don’t understand, what have I… God, please stop! Please tell me what I’ve done wrong! I don’t understand…”

It was the fifth night and the same dream that woke James up. He sat up in his hammock, heart beating and sweat dribbling all over him, together with the disgust and remorse. He’d done the one thing he’d promised himself never to do, what he’d been certain of never be able of doing from the very moment he first lay eyes on the trembling man in the town house cabinette in Port Royal. The man who’d cried down his wedding bouqet of white roses, as the choir sang the old Christmas hymn that didn’t fit for a wedding, but fit for his… Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung. It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night.

James Flint had been dead inside for years. His night was not half spent, it was a never ending darkness. The moment he’d seen the man, the lithe figure, the eyes blue as wet flowers and the ringlets falling down the shoulders, he’d known it was a mistake. That he shouldn’t do it. But James Flint, dead inside or not, wasn’t one to run away from duty and he’d taken the vow to love, honor and protect the trembling man by his side, who’d spoken his vows with a voice that echoed from the fear and angst of every bride married off by force since the beginning of time. The only difference was that it was no bride, but a groom and what a man it was…

The desire for him had came slowly. Small things. A smile, the lowering lashes or the absentminded way he chewed on a curl while listening to a story. The amazed expression on his face everytime he tried to understand and digest the strange things in this new world. He’d done it with honor and pride and sometimes James had to force himself not to say out loud how amazed he was with him. With every little progress, with every burnt portion of porridge and poorly fried ham.

It came late at night, as John curled up to James’ chest in his sleep, obliviously searching for warmth, comfort and a closeness he backed away from in his waking hours. He couldn’t see his own worth in anything, couldn’t understand kindness shown to him, while he would gladly do whatever James wished to please him. The thought of anyone hurting this fragile yet strangly tough creature made James’ blood boil with anger. And the only one hurting him, was James, with his bluntness, his bad temper and irritation. With the memories floating before him, dead shadows that got in the way and clouded the picture of the very much alive man standing in sight.

He’d failed so completely. He’d wanted to be a protection, but had been the threat. The one causing pain. And the one he’d hurt, was the first human being he’d loved in ten years. Just as the rose had started to bloom, he'd ripped it's petals...

TBC

Chapter Text

An extra note before the actual chapter begins:

I know the last chapters have upset you and even though Flint treated John really bad, we must remember what time and era this is supposed to be.

In the 1700th, husbands were supposed to use corporal punishment against their wives as well as their children. Men who didn't seem to have enough control over their families, would get a bad reputation that would also affect their wives and children.

Now, in "my Nassau", outdoor spouses who don't discipline their indoor spouse, may end up in a situation where they're forced to whip him/her in public, as a punishment for not showing enough control. Why? Well, because the law that makes it legal with same sex marriages, states that there must be a clear and visible difference in power between the spouses. Any hint of equality could jeoperdise not only the couples reputation, but also lead to people starting to question wheather the same sex marriages really can be counted as marriages. And if they'd be illegal... well, then we have a really bad situation.

So, if you're not as smart as Billy Bones - or as in love with your husband/wife as he is - you discipline your indoor spouse. You'll use your belt or a smaller whip on his/her back, but you're NOT supposed to leave real markings and definately NOT make them bleed. To put your indoor spouse over your lap isn't forbidden by law - you can pretty much be an asshole to your indoor spouse as long as you don't kill him/her - but just as in modern society, there are things not forbidden by law, that you "just don't do".

Treating your indoor spouse as a child, is one of those things you "just don't do", so by putting John over his lap and spank him with the hand on his naked ass, James has done something you "just don't do", which is why Billy Bones without any risk of appearing "not strict enough" can condemn James behavior in front of John. If John had received twenty strikes on his shoulders with his shirt still on, Billy wouldn't be able to comfort him, no matter how sad John would've been, since revealing that care could potentially put his own marriage - and Ben - in danger.




Chapter 44

”Darling, will you go to him…?”
”Of course…”
”Thank you.”

Ben gave Billy a kiss on cheek before he left the bed and put on some clothes. It was the second hour after midnight and he went to the guest room, kneeling by the bed.

”John…? Hey, sweetheart, are you having a bad dream again?”

The man just whimpered in the mattress and Ben carefully helped him to move further in and lay down beside him, offering an arm as a pillow. Billy’d gone to him twice already this night and now it was Ben’s turn. The blonde man hold his friend soft and carefully, offering tender strokes on the tense shoulders.

As the whipped skin had stopped bleeding and started to heal, Ben had decreased the amount of strong liqor and herbs he used to make John sleep, to not make the man addicted to the mixture. It was necessairy, but also very exhausting for all three of them. John woke up from his nightmares several times every night and four nights in a row with interrupted sleep had started to take it’s toll on both Billy and Ben.

John cried so heartbreaking against Ben’s arm, that Billy eventually came in as well and simply lifted the sore poodle to their own bed, putting him to sleep between them. With the curly head on Billy’s arm, the wet face against his chest and Ben’s arm around his shoulders, protected from all sides but with a safe distance between his wounds and any pressure, John could finally sleep through the night.

He couldn’t stand or sit. Couldn’t sleep on his back. He spent his few waking hours on his stomach or either side, as Ben kept watch while stitching, knitting or reading. Other things had to be set aside at the moment. In John’s garden, DeGroot and Joji tended to it, and in return, Billy went all the arrends to town for all of them. Captain Flint remain absent and despite Ben’s and Billy’s lust for blood, they were grateful for the asshole staying away, wherever the fuck he was. Anger didn’t help John right now. There’d be a time for that, but it wasn’t now.

After little more than a week, John’s skin had rested enough for him to leave the bed for shorter moments. His legs were stiff and Billy helped him getting the blood circulation going by massaging the tense muscles. When he was able to sit on a soft pillow long enough to have a meal without too much pain, Ben started to make him hot baths every third night, in order to decrease the tension.

John had never had a bath like that before. Usually, servants and slaves didn’t really take baths in London and to sink down in Ben’s tub with hot water, perfumed with lovely bath oils, was heaven to a hurt poodles skin, muscles and heart. Ben used to massage his shoulders while in bath and one night John asked if Billy wouldn’t take offense from it. The blonde indoor spouse didn’t understand what he was talking about.

”Why would he take offense?”
”Well… I’m naked.”
”So?”
”In England, two women couldn’t do this. Not if they weren’t sisters or grand lady and servant. And absolutely not two men.”
”Oh, I keep forgetting about that. Since we’re indoor husbands, we’re not considered a sexual threat left alone together. We could even share a bed, only for sleeping of course, and no one would bat an eye.”

That sounded very strange and Ben tried to explain.

”You know two friends, male friends, on an English ship, could share a bunk if necessairy, right?”
”Yeah.”
”People wouldn’t assume they’d be fucking just because they’re sleeping next to each other.”
”Of course not.”
”And the same with two women, lets say two neighbor women who’s husbands are away at war. The wives help each other while their husbands are absent and if it’s winter and they can’t waste firewood, then they could share home and also keep the warmth by sharing the bed.”
”Huh… never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense, I guess.”
”And that’s why it’s not considered immoral for two indoor spouses to help out with a bath, tend to more… private wounds and so on.”
”So, Billy doing this wouldn’t be…?”
”Oh, God no!”

John laughed. A small, sad laughter but it was still a laughter.

”You realise how strange this island still is to me, right?”
”I do, but you’re handling it the best way possible.”
”Am I? My husband doesn’t seem to think that…”
”What he did to you was wrong, John.”
”Like Billy’s not beating you…”

Ben sighed.

”Humiliation isn’t considered proper discipline. The way he… It’s not looked well upon.”
”He’s my owner, Ben. He can do whatever he likes.”
”It may look like that’s the case, but it’s not that simple. And in addition to the law, there are some unwritten rules about marriages as well. One of them is that discipline can’t leave bruises or make you bleed.”
”Guess James didn’t know about them.”
”You think you’ll forgive him?”
”Does he need my forgiveness? I’m property.”
”Believe me, he does. No man in his right mind could share bed and bread with a husband who wont forgive him. And we’re not property in that sense. We’re not animals, tools or slaves, John, and our husbands must care for our well-being, body and soul. Of course James will need your forgiveness.”
”So I have to say ’I forgive you’ if he comes back?”
”Of course he’ll come back, John, and no, you don’t have to forgive him. You don’t even have to say the words if you don’t want to lie. Not even the strictest, richest or most powerful outdoor spouse can rule over his husband’s heart and forgiveness can’t be demanded. It must be earned.”

John closed his eyes, allowing himself to relax in the strange situation and Ben stroke his hair.

”I’ll leave you alone for a while. Seems like these baths do you good.”
”They do. Had no idea it could be so nice to have a bath…”
”You have no tub at home?”
”Don’t think so.”
”I’ll talk to Idelle. She could ask Max to keep an eye on the next cargos.”
”Aren’t these things expensive?”
”Not necessarily, but even if they were, your husband can afford one easily. And it’s no more than fair that he’s getting you one.”
”And how would you make him do that?”
”Oh, I’ll just ask Billy to buy one for you and then he’ll force James to pay for it when he comes back.”
”And what if my husband doesn’t want to pay for it?”

Ben snorted.

”Yeah, I’d like to see him try not to…”

TBC

Chapter Text

James wasn’t surprised that Billy Bones looked like a thunderhead or that the man didn’t say a word as the carriage move from the port. When they’d passed the town and no people were to be seen, Billy suddenly stopped the carriage. James sighed.

”What?”

The next second Billy’s large fist landed in James’ face and he was falling most ungraciously to the ground.

”What the fuck was that for?!”

Billy jumped off and towered over his old friend.

”If you don’t know that, maybe you’ll need another one to fucking remember?”

He rose his fist and James hold his hand up in surrender.

”I’m sorry, just stop it! I shouldn’t have hit him.”
”You just came inside, tugged his pants off and put him over you lap? And then you left just the same, no explanation, no comfort, no fucking forgiveness! What the hell is wrong with you?! The poor man couldn’t sit for days and he’s mortified, James. Fucking mortified!”
”Oh, like you’re not beating Ben!”

That was low and Billy didn’t take the bet. He looked disgusted.

”Until you see me treat him like you just treated John, or you find Ben crying in bed with his ass bleeding, you don’t get to compare us, James.”
”I spanked him, he didn’t bleed.”
”He was bleeding, James! And even if he wasn’t, it was an utterly improper and humiliating way to punish him. Jesus... If you were worried that people wouldn’t think you were being dominant enough, the way John screamed in fear and pain for the whole neighborhood to hear, was pretty damn effective. I hope you’re happy now. Your husband is hurt, humiliated and more scared than he was when he first came here.”

Billy looked exasperated and he sank down on his knees. James knew his nose probably needed some attention but he knew he’d deserved it and more. Billy sighed.

”Please tell me you have some fucking explanation to this. Good or bad, just something.”
”People were talking.”
”About John?”
”No. I was down the tavern some days before I left and I heard Jenkins talking about Beauclerc.”
”Beauclerc? Vanes sharpshooter?”

James nodded. He was good at lying when he had to.

”His spouse, Camille, they said she’d been whipped by the authorities, bare back in front of the whole street because some rat ass person spread the rumor that Beauclerc didn’t discipline her at home.”

That wasn’t a lie, but James wouldn’t give Billy the true reason behind his disgusting actions.

”Yeah, I heard of that. Poor woman…”
”Poor woman, indeed. And then Singleton implied that John seemed unusually… comfortable and I guess I… I don’t know, but I didn’t want any rumors, especially not while I was away.”
”So you decided to make sure there was no rumors to be spread… I see.”
”I’m not proud of it, Billy.”

Billy snorted.

”You damn well better not be. Because right now, you have a husband who’s cried himself to sleep for two weeks and looks like he’s expecting to be thrown out on the street when you return.”
”Shit…”
”Now you come back with me and fucking apologies down your knees. You’re going to tell him exactly why you did it and that he’s done nothing wrong. And if I, or Ben for that matter, even suspect that you’re fucking John before he’s trusting you again, or that you haven’t apologised properly, or even think about treating him like that again, I’ll deck you with Ben’s largest frying pan. Understood?”

James just nodded in shame and Billy gritted his teeth.
 
”And while I’m on it, you owe me and DeGroot for working in your garden since your husband hasn’t been able to leave bed for days from the wounds. He’s had nightmares, James. He’s been forced to allow us helping him in the most intimate way, assisting him with needs no one but his husband should help him with. And not only weren’t you here to help him, you were the fucking cause of it, and if I didn’t want you to go home and take proper care of the damage you’ve done, I’d beat you black and blue all over. Is that fucking clear?”

Whatever mad things James were guilty of, picking a fist fight with Billy Bones wasn’t among them and that bleeding nose and bruised cheek bone were pretty mild, compared to what he’d done to his husband. Billy rose from the ground and wiped off his trousers.

”Get back in the carriage, James. And if I were you, I’d start working on a very sincere apology. Not that you deserve his forgiveness, you piece of shit.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”Can you forgive me?”
”What did I do wrong?”

They were alone in Billy’s guest room and the door was closed. John stood by the window, arms folded and his voice was stern, the face like stone. His hair was tied back in the neck and he hadn’t bothered with shaving, so a short beard covered his chin. He must’ve cried a lot, the blue eyes were bloodshotted and had lost all warmth.

He turned to stand right in front of James, face lifted and James realised the man for the first time was more angry and sad than afraid. It was hard to meet the eyes and James swallowed.

”Nothing.”
”What?”
”You didn’t do anything wrong, John.”
”So you… what? Spanked me like a disobedient child for no reason at all?”
”I had a reason, but it wasn’t you.”

The man looked completely taken aback.

”Wait… Hold on, husband. You once told me I didn’t need to be afraid of you. I know I have no rights and that you have every, but please do me the favour of punishing me for things I’ve actually done. Things I have a chance to avoid doing. Even lord Ashe did me that favour. What did I do?”
”I told you. Nothing. I had no reason what so ever for punishing you in any way and I have no right to your forgiveness, but I’ve regretted what I did ever since I walked out on you and I beg you to forgive me.”

John’s lip was trembling, his stunning curls fell so beautifully down his shoulders and his eyes were cold as ice. His pride was tattered and he approached James and slapped him hard in the face. The force in the strike took James completely by surprise. It was so full of disappointment, of his husband’s humiliation and anger. Another strike fell on the other cheek and when James turned his head he saw no fear in John’s eyes. Only deep sorrow and loneliness. A man who didn’t really care what would happen to him, as long as he could regain a sliver of his dignity.

”I forgive you, Captain. Go on now and punish me for this, like a real outdoor husband should, using your fucking belt on my back with my fucking clothes on. I’m a man, not a damn child.”

James just starred at the man as if he’d never seen him before. His cheeks heated from the strikes and he knew what was expected of him, after an outburst like this from his indoor husband. Instead he pulled John into his arms and hugged him hard, burying his nose in the messy curls. John shivered and James knew he’d never lay a hand on him again, whatever people or the law said.

As he hold the man in his arms, James began to realise how much he’d changed since the wedding, not only in a physical way, but inside. John Silver was no crouching, former house slave anymore, but a man who’d found some sense of self value, just like James had wished he would. And he’d forgiven him, despite the unfair and cruel humiliation he’d suffered. James kissed his hair.

”I don’t deserve you, John Silver.”
”If I was allowed to an opinion, I’d agree with you, James Flint.”
”You realise I neither can nor want to punish you for that slap, no matter what the law says?”
”I only know you can do whatever you and the law tells me you can, husband. And that I depend on your mercy and protection only. But I still didn’t deserve this.”

The words made James tremble inside. The tone, the firmness, the still lingering anger reminded him so much of Thomas, of things he never thought he’d find in another man and certainly not in his indoor husband. James knew that no matter what, he’d never do anything to intentionally hurt or humiliate John again. When he finally let go of him, his husband brushed his fingertip over the bruise.

”Billy?”
”He wasn’t too happy with me either.”
”I can see that.”

John bit his lip.

”Will you read to me again?”
”All night if you want.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Forgiveness isn’t equal to a regained trust, James quickly learned that once he’d taken John back home again. They fell back in the everyday routine, where James left for work at the consortium and John took care of the household and his garden. Yes, James could admit to himself it was John’s. It was he who’d made it and managed it, and when James – with a very shameful look on his face –  had paid DeGroot for the work he’d done while John was in bed, he went to have a proper look himself.

John was busy in the kitchen and while James walked around the crops, he forced himself to let go of the picture of Miranda. John didn’t know about her or Thomas, or anything else of importance about James’ previous life and the fact that he’d suffered a painful and humiliating treatment because of James’ lacking self control, made the Captain’s cheeks heat with shame once again. To share bed and home with a beautiful man who’d never want his touch, was no more than he deserved and James swore a silent oath that no matter what, he’d never loose control of his emotions, whatever their nature, in front of John again.

As James walked around the garden, he started to really think about John’s behavior before James had treated him in the most disgraceful way. In some way, the man’s searching for closeness reminded of the one of a frightened child or a suspicious cat. John’s looks and touches simply seemed to lack anything connected with sexual desires. Although the man clearly knew what was expected of him and had seemed equally confused and relieved for being left untouched, he hadn’t resented being hugged, hold or kissed in an innocent way. Not even now, after what James had done to him, did he stop curling up against him in his sleep.

It was as if it was a nature force behind it. An oblivious searching for contact, for some kind of protection. Against what James didn’t know and his husband’s face didn’t show the slightest hint of any conflicted emotions ones he was awake. Terrified with himself, James came to the conclusion that he’d actually missed John’s crying some time before he’d hit him. Fear and gratitude were the only emotions his husband couldn’t hide from him and as James had watched him in secret through the window, playing so beautifully on the cembalo, John’s face showed no fear or gratitude. It was relaxed and in the same way focused, determined to unlock the secrets behind the notes and keys.

A part of James wanted to surprise him while playing, but it took time before he heard him touch the cembalo again. As much as the sound of it had pained him while discovering John’s secret, he didn’t want the man to stop and he feared that stopping would be just what John would do if he found out he’d been discovered. James decided he’d allow his husband to think he’d kept his secret, since the hours by the cembalo seemed to make the man, if not happy so at least a bit eased. Also, James didn’t want to erase the look of relief and relaxation on John’s face, only because those emotions were nowhere to be seen in James’ company.

But more than that, John’s music was beautiful. James wondered if he’d already known how to play the instrument before coming to Nassau, but judging from the stream of curses that sometimes followed during his practising, it didn’t seem so. And hearing his husband cursing over his own ”stupidity” while almost getting a quite complex hymn right that Miranda used to have trouble with after years of practising, almost made James forgetting himself and shout through the window that most people didn’t learn to play that well even after a couple of years with a skilled tutor.

James realised, not only from the secret cembalo practising, that his husband was far more intelligent than the man himself realised. And, to his own shame, far more than James had cared to find out. If John wished to keep his secret, James wouldn’t force him to reveal it, but from now on, he’d do whatever he could do to encourage John’s talents, even if it had to be done in a way that made the man believe he’d not been discovered.

TBC

Chapter Text

Things had changed again, but this time, John decided it was for the better. To his great surprise – and confusion – it felt good to sleep next to his husband again. In fact, he actually seemed to sleep better while having him close. John guessed it was about habit. The bed felt a little empty without the other man and even in this hot climate, John was a bit frozen on nights sometimes. James didn’t touch John, but the warmth from his body that spread out in the bed was comforting.

John had stopped playing the cembalo, but after some weeks, the temptation was simply too great and he took up his secret practising again. One day while they were having their midday meal, James asked him to sort out a box full of books and papers he’d brought back home from Max, when he had time.

”She said there might be some cooking books and recipes in it, but it’s probably just garbage.”
”How do I know what’s garbage, husband?”
”If you find any recipes, you can save them, but otherwise I guess it’s more fit for the fire.”
”You don’t want to look it through for yourself? I mean, to be sure.”
”No, I trust you with it, husband.”

As soon as James had returned to town, John looked through the supposed garbage and he could barely stop himself from jumping with excitement. The ”garbage” were lots of old notesheets with songs he hadn’t played, several wrinkly but empty arks with paper, perfect for his writing practise and a bunch of books. This was almost too good to be true. Borrowing books in secret was a habit that was very difficult to keep a secret and John was terrified for leaving any signs of him using them without permission. Although James had told him he could help him to find something suitable to read, John never really felt comfortable asking. His answer to the question wether he could read or not, had been ”a little” and James must’ve taken for granted he couldn’t write, which was true at the time.

John, who still had no concept about the level of his skills on the area, guessed that even if his playing and reading, not to mention writing, got better and better, these were skills he shouldn’t show his husband, no matter what Ben Gunn had said about it. John wasn’t at all sure that James would approve of this and to suddenly have a bunch of own books and papers to use without the fear of leaving any traces, was a huge relief. The only problem, in fact, was the time.

To keep practising and reading enough to feel satisfaction from it took a little more time as his skills increased and he needed more challenging pieces and books to stay motivated. Together with the work in the garden, the cooking and cleaning, the laundry, the couture and the weekly trips to the market, it was only a matter of time before it would be too much. And as with so many other things, a different person than John Silver, would’ve realised long time ago it was an insanely amount of work for one man, especially one who was a beginner several things.

By rising earlier, using the siesta for needlework instead of resting, work faster and sneak up after James had fallen asleep to steal another two or three hours for reading, John could get enough time for it without revealing his secrets and so, the problem with time was solved and another problem occured. Fatigue.

John had never really been a decent sleeper who’d mostly slept about six hours per night and never had a rest during day, but that had been in England where the sun didn’t paralyse a whole country every day at noon. He didn’t connect the headache, the strained eyes or his fatigue as signs of a too big work load, but of weakness. An indoor spouse should work hard and he didn’t count his private studies as work, since it was for his own personal enjoyment and he didn’t want to give that up because of some stupid sun he surely would get used to.

His husband was also different. He praised John’s work efforts in a curious, discreate way John didn’t quite discover at first. He would ask to have a second portion of John’s simple fish stew, claiming it had a nice spice mixture. He thanked John for the fine stitches on a shirt he’d mended or implied that the laundry was actually cleaner now when John took care of it, instead of the women at the inn who used to do bachelors laundry for coin. That, how ever, didn’t exactly work the way James had inteded. When finally getting some approval of his household work, John became terryfied by the thought of not receiving praise for it.

Instead of feeling pride and relief from James’ praise, John came to the conclusion that he absolutely couldn’t make his husband disappointed at him again, now that things finally began to run a little smoother. An indoor husband who took a rest during the day was one thing if you were as good as Ben Gunn, or old enough to earn it because of the years in service. But John admitted to himself that he wasn’t prepared to give up either the music or the books and as he slowly got more and more tired instead of getting stronger, the silly poodle once again came to the fucked up conclusion that he was really lousy indoor husband material.

TBC

Chapter Text

One good thing about this weakness, was that his cock finally had stopped misbehave. What little Ben had told John about the matter had been enough to make John’s ears heat and he was more than grateful for Ben not bringing the subject up again. To realise that the problem with a boner, as well as the strange but not unpleasant feeling in his belly, had decreased just as the friendly neighbour had said it would, was a huge relief. Since they hadn’t developed the subject any further, John simply assumed that he’d stop getting those damn boners once his body had adjusted and since they now seemed to have vanished, John took it as a sign of good adjustment.

He could admit to himself that having a tug in sweet privacy had been a quite nice although sticky business, but he was happy to find that it was rarely needed anymore. For John to know that a too heavy work load and too little sleep was a very effective way to keep a cock limp as a boned fish was, to put it mildly, a bit of an uncharted sea. To John, things were simply back to their usual state. What wasn’t back to ususal, how ever, was the fact that a certain ginger John used to instinctivily crawl up against in his sleep, seemed to react to the closeness in the opposite way and everytime John felt the hardness against him, he froze on spot and James mumbled something or sighed in his sleep before turning around to lay back to back instead.

They’d been married for quite some time now and the fact that James hadn’t fucked him yet was still something that puzzled John’s mind. All James had to do was to put John on his stomach, slick him up a little and take his right as a husband. It would be very painful, of course, but John knew it was something he had to endure no matter what, so when James didn’t take advantage of his rights, it made John feel both grateful and worried for not being attractive enough.

He scrubbed himself hard every evening before James came home, because most of these days, John looked like he lived partly in the crops and partly in a bucket of sand and soap. Since James left home every morning and apart from the midday break, didn’t return until supper, the only people who noticed John’s work pace were Ben and sometimes DeGroot. The older man simply told John to slow down and that was it, but Ben started to get a little worried.

One afternoon, James had left for a shorter trip to the nearby Paradise Island on an arrend who’s nature John had forgotten about the moment after he’d asked his husband about it. He was scrubbing laundry on the backporch and was supposed to stay with Ben and Billy for the night. Not having to make supper made John so relieved he almost felt teary-eyed by the thought, which immidiately reminded him about the sad state of constant crying during his first time in Nassau. An experience he most certainly didn’t want to repeat.

Ever since James had come back and asked for forgiveness, things had been good between him and Billy, much to both John’s and Ben’s relief. Even if John wasn’t exactly happy for his husband’s absence, he couldn’t help but feeling relieved for getting some help with chores and to sleep on his own. Now, sleeping next to his husband wasn’t half as fearsome as it had been before. On the contrary it was mostly quite pleasant, but it also made John a bit nervous since James always seemed to pull away as soon as John got the slightest tense. Maybe sleeping alone in Billy’s guestroom again would be nice.

The pile of laundry was larger than usual. At least it felt larger, dirtier and fucking endless. It wasn’t even midday yet, but it was already very hot and despite the bottle with water he kept near, John began to think he hadn’t have enough water. He felt tired. Far more tired than usual at this hour and he had to take a moment and sit down. But to rest this early wasn’t good indoor spouse behavior, it was only quarter of an hour until midday meal, and John forced himself back to the laundry only to stumble and hit his knee in the wash tub. And there they fucking were again: the damn tears. Good Lord how he cried… And he wasn’t even sad! Or having trouble with his stupid cock. Just completely exhausted and unaware of how restraining it had been, having James pulling away all the time, leaving him unsure of wheather his husband was pleased with his company in bed or not.

”John, what’s the matter?”

Billy’s concerned voice could suddenly be heard and the giant, who’d went looking for John when he didn’t show up for the midday meal, stood next to the laundry. John laughed.

”Oh, hi, Billy. I’m fine, really, it’s just that…”
”Did James treat you bad again? ’Cause if he did…”
”Oh, no! No, not at all.”
”Then why are you crying in your laundry?”

John practically bursted into laughter. He cried and laughed, laughed and cried and Billy looked at the bottle.

”Have you been drinking this early?”

He took it and sniffed and John kept laughing. He was so tired, his body ached and he couldn’t stop laughing even though he had no idea what had been so funny. Billy looked puzzled but then his eyes widened.

”Christ, John. You’re bleeding!”
”No, I’m not.”
”Yes, you insufferable poodle, you are! Your nose is dribbling with it, hold still!”
”What? I’m fine!”
”You most certainly aren’t. Lie down.”
”Not in the laundry! I can’t… can’t fucking wash bloodstains as well…”
”Hold still, John. Please.”

The last thing he remembered before passing out, was how the gentle giant covered his face with a heavenly soothing, wet cloth and hid the burning sun.

TBC

Chapter Text

”That damn little idiot! Can’t we go faster?!”

Ben urged on the horse. He’d been the one to pick up James, since he’d had an arrend to Max anyway. Now he had some packages with new wollen fabrics, some of her employee Idelle's strong wine and and a very worried Captain on the carriage, who didn’t run fast enough. Trying to explain that John wasn’t actually ill with a disease, but merely exhausted and was taken well care of, didn’t seem to calm his husband who looked as if he expected to find a corpse.

”What happened, Ben?”
”I’ve already told you, Captain. Billy went to tell him it was mealtime and he passed out. Billy said he laughed and cried and then he started to get a nose bleeding.”
”He was bleeding?!”
”Please, Captain, you’re scaring the horse. It stopped almost immediately and it hasn’t happened again.”
”Is he eating? How’s his sleep?”

Despite his own suspicions about James’ true feelings for his husband, Ben was quite surprised by the openly expressed concearn.

”He hasn’t much of an appetite, but he eats when he’s told to and he sleeps a lot.”
”Thank God. What a fool… Didn’t he cover his head properly? One could think that he’d learned about covering for the sun by now, but that man’s a fucking mystery. Why didn’t he just rest, dammit?”

It wasn’t really Ben’s place to talk to James about his husband, but this stupidity had been going on so long it had made John sick.

”Captain, I know this is not really proper, but may I say something?”
”Of course, Ben.”
”John has been rambling a little…”
Rambling? Has he gone…?”  
”Oh, no! No, no, no… There’s nothing wrong with his wits, I assure you. Please, don’t scream like that, Captain, you’re scaring the horse.”
”Just tell me what’s wrong with him, Ben!”
”I believe he’s afraid for not being a good husband.”

James just starred at him, as if looking for signs of him being joking.

”That’s… ridiculous. No, it’s fucking preposterous! How did he… That can’t be, he’s…”
”A damn good indoor husband?”
”Yes!”
”Does he know you’re thinking that, Captain?”
”I… what? Yes, of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? He has to know!”
”Well, have you told him?”
”Yes. I praise his work efforts every day, Ben. I know you and Billy have reasons to question me, but of course I’m praising his work. Maybe just not…”
”Just not…?”
”So openly.”

Ben looked confused.

”Not so openly? I don’t… Pardon my bluntness, Captain, but how do you not praise a good meal, a new shirt or a big, blooming garden openly?”
”I… He… John doesn’t take compliments well, Ben.”
”He’s not?”
”No! To put it frankly, he seems to be uncomfortable with it. With praise, with talking to me, sharing his interests… Did you know he’s been practising the cembalo in secret for months? Months, Ben! And he’s playing really well! I put together a stupid box with old notes and books together with some garbage, pretending I’d found it in the house and didn’t have time to go through it myself, so he could get some more note sheets and books, because for some fucking reason he wont ask me!”
”Oh, sweet Mother of God…”
”What?”

Ben cleared his throat.

”I believe you and your husband may have shared the same secret, Captain. And I’m afraid I’ve helped John keeping it. He told me about it in confidence and I had to promise him not to tell anyone. He started to practise writing and playing months ago.”
”Writing?”
”Uh-huh. I tried to tell him you’d be happy to have a well-educated husband, but he didn’t seem to believe me and he was so desperate to keep it a secret I couldn’t find it in me to tell you about it. He’s been borrowing my books since he was afraid you’d notice if yours went missing.”
”He thought I’d disapprove…”
”I’m really sorry for this, Captain. I should’ve told you about it.”

The Captain just starred right out in the air and then, to Ben’s great surprise, he laughed.

”Good God, Ben… Is there a prize to win for the most stupid and oblivious husband in Nassau, because if there is, I think I'll take it without competition, with John as the second. Well, not that he’s tupid, sometimes he’s too clever for his own good, that’s for sure, but to think that I’d disapprove with him being educated…”
”In his defense, Captain, he was brought up in an orphanage in London and worked as a scivvy most of his life.”
”He’s an orphan?”
”With all due respect, Captain, but has any of you tried to actually talk to each other? I’ve heard that’s a good thing to do sometimes when you’re married. And sorry for speaking out of term like this, but I don’t think curtisy is necessarily more important than seeing things as they are. You don’t deal with problems by not addressing them, Captain, and unlike John I wont ask you not to tell my husband about my acting. I know he shares my opinion on this matter, even if he may not agree with my way of speaking about it.”

It was clearly not proper indoor spouse behavior, but unlike most indoor spouses in Nassau, Ben knew he wouldn’t be punished for it and perhaps it was about time the Captain saw a different side of the meek, well-mannered Ben Gunn. The carriage kept rolling and they sat in silence as the mighty, harsh and aloof Captain Flint digested more answers than he’d received in months. After a long moment of silence, when they could start seeing their homes, the man sighed.

”Is Billy aware of how lucky he is being married to you, Ben Gunn?”

TBC

Chapter Text

The first thing he noticed when he woke up, was the bouqet. On the dresser next to the bed, there was a pitch filled with white roses and he realised he wasn’t laying in Billy’s and Ben’s guest room. He was back home in his own bed. He tried to rise, only to fall back against the pillow.

”Be still, John. You need to rest.”
”Husband?”

John slowly turned his head – fuck, he was tired! – and saw James sitting on the other side of the bed, not looking very fresh either. He had dark rings under his eyes and his clothes were wrinkly, as if he’d slept in them. John tried to smile.

”You’re home. I’d make you supper, but…”
”Just lie still, little poodle. You’re not leaving that bed any time soon.”
”But…”
”No ’buts’, John. Lie still. It’s an order.”
”Aye, Captain.”

His husband took his hand, brushed his thumb over the back of it and smiled softly.

”You’re just unbelievable, John Silver. I guess I should scold at you for your recklessness, but you’re making it very hard for me to be angry with you.”
”Then I hope it stays that way, husband, ’cause you’re quite scaring when you’re angry with me.”
”Do I have a reason to be angry with you, John?”
”I don’t know.”

James sighed.

”You’ve been hiding things from me, haven’t you?”

In his exhausted condition, John couldn’t hear the gentle tone in his husband’s question and if James had known that, he would’ve chosen other words. His husband’s face went even more pale and the weary eyes turned wide from fear.

”Oh, God… Please, don’t punish me yet! I know I shouldn’t have…”
”John, calm down. For Christ’s sake, husband, I’m not angry with you, just come here, little poodle…”

His husband pulled him close, shushing him softly while stroking his back. Once John had calmed down enough, James kissed his curls and sighed.

”Listen to me, John. I’m not angry with you, so please let me finish. I’ve known about the music, the books and the writing for weeks.”
”What…?”
”Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to learn how to play and write?”
”You’re… You’re not angry with me for…?”
”No, I’m proud.”

John didn’t know what to say. He just opened his mouth, then shut it and opened it again, but he was lost for words and James stroke his cheek.

”The only thing that makes me angry, well not angry, more sad actually, is the fact that you didn’t think I’d approve. I wondered why you didn’t want to borrow any books, since I knew you could read a little, but I assumed you wasn’t very interested and I didn’t want to push you. And since we’re on the subject, when did you find time to study?”
”Uhm… I went up early…”
”How early?”
”About four…”
”Four o’clock?!”
”And I may have skipped siesta, and sometimes I waited until you were asleep so I could sneak away and read… Played on the cembalo when I was certain you wouldn’t be at home.”

James swallowed. The cembalo. The one thing that had triggered the senseless, disgraceful and horrifying punishment, John crying and screaming in fear and pain… James kissed his forehead, entangling a callous hand in the curls and pulled the head even closer to his chest.

”From now on, you’re not gonna have such secrets, John. Not for me, not for anyone. I’ll get you all the papers, pens, books and notesheets you want. The cembalo is yours and you can play on it whenever you want, on one condition.”
”And… and what’s that?”
”You have to promise me you’ll never work yourself this hard again. You’re a good husband, who’s managing the home so well and I’m sorry for not giving you enough praise for it.”
”But… you’ve given me nothing but praise, James. That’s why I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t go back to be… a disappointment again.”
”You thought I was disappointed…?”

John laughed.

”I burnt the food, cried day and night, puked like a knocked up kitchen maid and you didn’t bed me. What was I suppose to think? That I was your fair maiden with blushing cheeks? You scare me, husband, and if I wasn’t so damn tired I guess I wouldn’t tell you that…”

The curly head went heavier and James realised it’d been too much for his exhausted husband. And maybe it was just as well they didn’t talk anymore right now, before James had taken some time to think things through. He pulled the blanket further up around John’s shoulders and buried his nose in the curls.

”I’m glad you finally told me, little poodle… Sleep now, you’ve earned it.”

And with a small sigh, John fell back to sleep as his husband laid next to him, trying to digest all the secrets his silly, brilliant little poodle had carried around for the last months. James wasn’t going to leave again for quite some time.

TBC

Chapter Text

James thanked his lucky star he’d talked to Ben Gunn. And Billy Bones. While the quartermaster still wasn’t very pleased with his Captain and scolded at him for allowing his husband work himself to exhaustion, James knew that he had both Billy and Ben to thank for a lot of things concearning John, so for once he let the man lecture him without defending himself. Billy Bones wasn’t one to hold a grudge once things had been cleared out and neither was his husband.

John remained in bed for many days. He wasn’t in pain and had no fever, but he was really extremely tired and, as James discovered, not always aware of it – or how it effected his temper.

”Just an hour, James!”
”No.”
”But I feel stronger, I promise!”
”You’re not leaving that bed until you can sit up for more than an hour without getting dizzy, John. End of discussion.”
”I am sitting up, old man!”
”Supported by four pillows, you insufferable poodle.”
”You’ve imprisoned me! And what about my garden?”
”I’ve told you: I’m taking care of it with help from DeGroot. You don’t have to worry about me making your precious crops getting eaten by the birds.”
”Because you’re standing in the field like a scarecrow?”
”Very funny, little poodle. I’ll open the window a bit more, but that’s it for now.”
”Yes, mother.”

James just rose his eyebrows. His husband was half sitting in the bed with his shirt halfway unbottoned, arms crossed and a very disgruntled look on his pale face. Utterly adorable and just as unaware of it.

”Behave, poodle, or I’ll read the entire Genesis for you aloud while you’re in bed. Slowly.”

Clearly not happy with the prospect of being forced to listen to one of the most boring parts in one of his least favourite books, John just glared.

”Poodle will behave. But you’d never go through with that threat anyway.”
”Oh, wouldn’t I?”
”You’d get too bored to finish it.”

He was right, of course, and James pressed a kiss on his forehead.

”I bet you’ll be at sleep less than two minutes after you’ve put your head down.”
”We’ll see about that.”

John rearranged his pillows and laid down his head with a defiant look on his face and James forced himself to suppress a smile. He rose from the bedside and went to open the window a little to let in some fresh air. When he looked at the bed, his husband was asleep.

The man slept the whole afternoon, but woke up in the evening and after the most ridiculous refusing to take the mixture Ben had prepared for him, pressing lips together and turning his face away like a child, James had no choice but to start negotiate.

”I’ll let you sit by the window if you drink it.”
”The garden.”
”The window.”
”The garden.”
”The window.”
”The backporch.”
”The window.”
”The garden.”
”The backporch.”

James realised he’d been tricked and John’s face lit up in a big smile. Oh well, if the poodle was gonna play tricks, than James certainly wouldn’t let him win that easily.

”The backporch, but you’ll have to have a blanket.”
”If you say so, husband.”
”And since you’re about as stable as a Jack Rackham after too many drinks, you’ll sit in my lap. That’s the terms, or you’ll have to stay in bed. We have no stable chairs to put outside.”

John looked a little taken aback, but then he smiled.

”Will you read to me then?”
”I will, but if you don’t take that mixture, I’ll read Genesis and Job’s lamentations for you. In here with curtains closed.”

The pouty poodle quickly swallowed the mixture and grimased.

”There. Now take me out, Captain.”

It was a beautiful evening and since they hadn’t have any supper yet, James made a simple tray with bread, cold sliced goat meat, some cheese, fruit and wine for them. Then he went to get John, who snorted when his husband insisted on carrying him.

”I’m not an invalid, you know. Let me down.”
”If you say so, husband.”

That should’ve made John suspicious and as he sank down to the floor and got catched by his husband, he found it wisest to keep silent about it and allow himself to get carried out to the backporch.

Sitting in his husband’s lap and listening to The Fisherman and the Jinni from A Thousand and One Nights while eating small bits of food, with the crickets as background music in the calm evening was a thing John would not have been able to picture even in his wildest dreams and when James’ was finished with the story, John tugged at his arm, highly reluctant to break the moment.

”Another.”

And James, long since amazade by the situation, the way John leaned against him, once again seeking closeness, of course couldn’t say no.

TBC

Chapter Text

After several weeks at home, where he’d spent most of his time taking care of his temporarily weak indoor husband, James was once again back on The Walrus for a little longer periods and when the same new feeling had struck John enough times, he realised it was longing. John never would have thought he’d miss his husband for real when he left for sea again, but once he’d reckognized it, he accepted it with slight irritation.

Since the first time being allowed outside, sitting curled up in James’ arms, John had started to long for the closeness. The time spent in James’ company had been relaxed, safe and enjoyable in a way John couldn’t have imagined even in his wildest dreams and now as he once again spent his nights in another bed, he missed the feeling of James’ body next to him. Instead he slept in Billy’s and Ben’s guestroom once again and helped Ben in the kitchen when he wasn’t busy with the garden. He’d promised James to take it slow, but it was irritating to know that Ben, who cooked for one more person now, couldn’t get more help from him. Billy, who once again was off duty from ship service and worked down the harbour with ship repairing, was as strict as usual, but the moments of tenderness the fearsome man had showed after James’ outburst, had made John a bit suspicious and by watching the couple very cautiously, he made some interesting yet confusing discoveries.

One afternoon they worked with the laundry. By doing the heavy work together, Ben meant they could spare both time and John’s still weak health a bit and when Billy gave his permission, James was more than grateful for the offer. And so was John. But he couldn’t help but notice that the usually so tireless Ben Gunn didn’t walk as easily, like his feet hurt. He almost limped and John had to force him to rest.

When Billy came home, the giant noticed that as well and demanded his indoor spouse to sit down and let him have a look. John peeked from the stove and saw how Billy Bones took his husbands feet in his hands, bending them gently.

”We need to get you new shoes. And tonight you’re resting.”
”But John’s so tired. He’s worked very hard with the laundry and really need some rest too.”
”Then you’re both resting tonight and no, Ben, it’s not negotiable.”

Ben’s tired smile had a glimpse of the tenderness John had seen in the nightly embrace.

”Thank you, husband. That’s very sweet of you. May I serve you supper?”
”You just sit down and tell me what to serve.”

Being served by Billy, an outdoor spouse and not even his own spouse, was almost shocking, but John didn’t say a word about it, since Billy’d already made it clear it wasn’t negotiable. The meal was, as always, very good and Billy looked very pleased when they were finished.

”This was delicious, Ben.”
”Thank you, husband.”

Billy rose to clean the table and John immediatly rose as well, but the tall man shook his head.

”Please, sit down, John. You’re our guest, you’ve worked hard today and you’re still not fully recovered. As I said earlier, both you and Ben are resting tonight.”
”Thank you, Billy.”

Ben still limped while moving to his chair in the salon. Billy made a fire going and, to John’s big surprise, went outside to get a bucket of cold water for Ben’s aching feet. The man visibly relaxed when he sank his feet down in the bucket and Billy looked at his husband with a concearned expression.

”Does it help?”
”Like magic... Thank you, dear.”

The giant then poured up two cups of liqor and gave Ben one and John the other.

”There, get some rest now.”

John was grateful he was good with hiding what he thought and felt, because this was more than confusing. Not the curtisy Billy showed a guest, or the fact that Ben could rest, but the small, almost hidden signs of care. After the painful experience with James’ sudden wrath and what followed it, John had been in too much pain and too devestated to pay much attention to the couple who took care of him, so to say this was strange was an understatement.

After finishing the dishes, Billy came in to the salon with some ointment and, to John’s astonishment, began to rub his husbands feet. Ben sighed with pleasure and his serious, stern husband gave him a look of nothing but tenderness, as if they were alone and John’s cheeks heated from the sight. This most certainly didn’t make sense of the indoor husband crying himself to sleep some time ago and… Oh. Oh. John’s mind, however far more clever than he was aware of but still with very little practise of these things, suddenly understood something he’d been far too inexperience and new to this place, to see the night he’d heard Ben crying.

Ben Gunn missed his husband. Billy Bones cared about him. They just didn’t show it. With that discovery, John started to see the couple in a different light. He knew that it was considered rude to discipline ones spouse while having guests, so the fact that he never saw or heard any signs of Billy punishing Ben during his visit, was in no way strange and John was very grateful not having to experience it.

James hadn’t hit him since that one time. John’s husband’s touches were nothing but kind, gentle and respectful. Now, even if John somewhere doubted that James would punish him really hard again – and most certainly not over his lap – he naturally expected that his husband would start discipline him in the correct way once the man had stopped fussing over John like a mother hen after the exhaustion.  After all, if Ben Gunn was disciplined regularly, so should John be. And of course Billy’s thick, broad leather belt must hurt, but the way Ben leaned back on a chair while resting, didn’t show even a hint of pain and John’s admiration for the man increased even more, as well as the nagging thoughts that something was fishy about this.

The answer, that evoked even more questions, came to John the last night before James’ return. He woke up in the guestroom around three in morning, suddenly unable to sleep and after a while he got irritated just lying there and stare up the roof. His thoughts, as always when being by himself these days, turned to his husband and he fingered restlessly on the necklace James had given him the first time they had dinner with Billy and Ben. John had started to wear it since getting better from the long convalescence and by the look James had given him while seeing it, John felt pretty sure that he wasn’t displeased with that, quite the contrary. John rarely took it off these days.

The highly annoying restlessness didn’t stop and John realised he’d just be more irritated lying there. He rose from the bed, put some clothes on and left the room. When passing the couples bed chamber, he saw that the door once again was a little open and the curiosity took over. Maybe it was due to how exposed he’d been while being cared for after the disgraceful punishment, that made him push away thoughts about intruding marital privacy.

The only sound to be heard from the room, was a soft breathing from the two sleeping men and when John looked through the door chink, his heart jumped. There, sleeping soundly, Ben laid in Billy’s arms. The bigger man hold his husband so tenderly John couldn’t believe his eyes. Neither could he stop looking. The moonlight shined through the shutters on the two men, Ben with his head on Billy’s chest, tucked in the massive arms. The cover had slipped down a little and the smaller man’s naked shoulders bore no signs of whipping what so ever. John was stunned. What was this about? Billy sighed in his sleep, and John quickly moved from the doorway and slunk back to his own bed. Once he was back under the cover, his mind began to wander off.

What he’d just seen didn’t make any sense. He’d heard the sound from Billy’s belt more than once, last time the day before James left, yet Ben’s back had looked completely smooth in the moonlight. But it wasn’t just that. The way they hold each other, the affectionate embrace and the absence of scars on Ben’s back left him no peace. Was it… no, that was proposturous! But maybe it… Could an outdoor spouse pretend to whip his husband? Like Billy’s not beating you… Coming to think about it, Ben had never really answered him. He hadn’t said Billy didn’t beat him, but he hadn’t confirmed he did either. The gentlehearted indoor spouse had only used the word discipline, but never specified what it meant. Not lying, but not telling the truth.

It was an absurd thought, of course. The idea of a marriage without any form of corporal punishment for the submissive spouse was almost as unfamiliar to John as the idea of two men being married had been as he came to Nassau. The fact that James hadn’t punished him at all before that day, John had guessed was about James, as the man actually had told him, simply being new and unused to the role of a husband. Maybe because James, in fact, had shown John that he had both patience and compassion for how new everything was to him. And also perhaps because he’d already heard John crying enough as it was and didn’t want more whining. All of it quite understandable reasons for being a bit lenient.

But the sight of Ben Gunn sleeping naked and peacefully, like a human blanket over Billy Bones, with his big arms around him in the most intimate embrace was something else than an indoor husband who had a predictable and just husband. The way Billy had rubbed Ben’s sore feet in his big hands wasn’t the image of a man who wanted his housekeeper to be able to stay fit for work. As little as John Silver thought he knew about the subject, and how difficult it was for him to identify the feelings that James’ touches had started to wake up inside him, he was fairly sure that whatever Billy and Ben felt for each other, it was probably something at least close to the thing called love.

TBC

Chapter Text

The feeling that John would be better off without him or that the man resented his touch was gone. At least to some extent. The man searched for his touch, James was fairly sure about that. It didn’t felt sexual, but rather innocent and a bit confused, but absolutely not childlike, as if John wasn’t really sure what exactly he searched for and definately not sure about what he expected to find. The man had expected James to fuck him, but seemed strangely unfamiliar with his own urges.

Over the years, James had met a few men and women lacking any need for that kind of intimacy, but when it came to John, that didn’t seem to be the case. If anything, the man looked puzzled when they were close. Not scared or tense as in the beginning, but as if he had discovered another unfamiliar piece in his new life and didn’t really know where it would fit, struggling to understand it. And  James didn’t want to scare him back to a state where he felt trapped. No matter how lenient John appeared, how eager he was to please and how hard he worked, the man was in no way one to open up if he was pushed. His husband knew how to keep a secret, a painful lesson James didn’t want to go through again. John was a man who needed time to think, to digest and experience things on his own to feel comfortable.

James had never been uncertain about his own nature. He’d felt uncomfortable, afraid and at one time even disgusted with it, but he’d known what he felt when Thomas and Miranda Hamilton had smiled at him, been close to him and touched him. He’d loved them both just as much, but as Miranda pointed out without any jealousy or bitterness, what James and Thomas shared was entirely something else than the love she and her husband shared, or the one she had with James.

Loosing them had been like being swallowed by the sea, without the realease of death to come and save him. To see Thomas’ eyes and Miranda’s hat – although it wasn’t Thomas’ eyes or Miranda’s hat at all – painted pictures of a love no one now working or fraternising with James Flint knew anything about. A picture waking up sorrow and pain, yes, but also lust.

Because James Flint wanted John Silver, body and soul, flesh and bones. He wanted to kiss him deep, taste his tongue and elicit sounds of pleasure from his lips. He needed to have his hands over that soft, sunkissed skin, feel the roundness of the firm buttocks against his fingers, place kisses all the way down the spine and bury his tongue deep inside him, to hear him gasp and moan. James cursed in silence. He was alone in his cabin and it was after midnight. Still drawn between bad conscience for his previous actions and the fear of being rejected by his husband, James allowed himself to spend a moment in lustfull oblivion, releasing himself to the fantasy image of John laying spread out before him, all wet and eager with the hair in a mess and a wry, lustful smile on his lips and chewing on a disobediant curl, while James slowly pushed inside the tightness between his legs.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Ben?”
”Yes?”
”Can I ask you something?”
”Of course.”

They were sitting in the kitchen, doing needlework and having tea. Ben had poured them some brandy and they rested their feet after a long morning of garden work, repairing the wagon, ironing laundry from the day before and helping DeGroot to get rid of a bird who thought it was a splendid idea to make a nest in DeGroots and Jojis chimney. Now, as they had put their feet up, the strong brandy together with the slight weariness from the work made John less cautious than usual.

”I realise this might be… improper.”
”Are you having secrets for James again, John?”
”Oh no, nothing like that.”
”Good. And there’s nothing wrong going on between you?”
”Uhm… no, I don’t think so. He’s really nice to me, Ben.”
”As I suspected. You’ve had the look of a lovesick maiden written all over you for weeks now.”
”I have not!”
”No? Then why the constant blushing, the sudden deafness and the long gazes towards the road, Mr. Silver?”
”I’m not blushing and I’m certainly not gazing a the road!”
”No, of course you aren’t. My eyes must’ve gone weak.”

The humorous tone and the teasing smile on Ben’s face, told John that it was pointless to convince him and he waited until Ben took his cup and was about to swallow some tea before he answered:

”Well, what would you know about blushing? It’s not like you and Billy are romantic or so.”

The words had just the intended effect and Ben coughed out his tea while John patted his back.

”Oh, excuse me. Did I say something improper, Ben?”

The man cursed and then he started to laugh.

”You are a little shit right now, John Silver.”
”I blame the brandy. It makes me behave badly.”
”Alright, what kind of improper things do you want to ask me about?”
”Could you promise not to laugh at me? I mean, I’m almost thirty, I should know about these things, but…”
”Is it about sex?”

John was now red as a tomato and Ben smiled friendly.

”Come on, John, I’ve been married for more than three years and was hardly a virgin when Billy had me the first time. What’s bothering you? Isn’t your fluids back to their natural state yet?”
”That’s the thing, Ben. To you this is natural, to me it’s still kind of weird.”
”You haven’t consumed the marriage yet, right?”

John shook his head.

”No.”
”Well, do you want to? I know we have no say in it according to the law, but I’m quite sure that James wouldn’t fuck you if you didn’t want him to. He’s not that kind of man and neither is Billy.”
”I’ve figured that one out.”
”So what’s the problem, John?”
”Uhm… well, I still get hard. I mean, I haven’t had that tea since my wedding but I thought I might have… you know, been adjusted by now.”

Ben’s mouth had the shape of a small ”o” and he put down his embroidery.

”John… my dear, oblivious friend: what do you really know about sex and lust? Because it seems to me as if we need to have a real talk about this that our husbands mustn’t know about.”
”We don’t have to talk about it if…”
”Oh, hell no we’re stopping this conversation, John. In fact, I think some talking is overdue.”

A couple of hours later, Billy came back and the moment he walked inside the door, a very much blushing John Silver mumbled a ”good evening” and then practically ran outside to do ”some stuff”.

”What’s his problem?”

Ben, who was putting some garlic in the stew, threw an exasperated look at his husband, almost as red on his cheeks as John and with the appearence of someone who wanted to sink through the ground.

”Billy, dearest husband, just how much do you love me?”
”More than anything and anyone on Gods green earth.”
”Then allow me to wait with telling you about ’John’s problem’ for some time.”
”Uhm… yeah, sure, but why are you blushing?”
”Please, Billy?”
”Alright, alright, I wont ask.”

Billy kissed him on the neck and looked in the stew Ben was stirring in.

”Salmon? Not that I’m complaining, but didn’t you say something about fried potatos and sausages for tonight?”
”Billy?”
”Yeah?”
”Please, I beg you: not another word.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”Sure you’re not too tired?”
”To read to you? Of course not.”

James was back from the journey, they’d just finished supper and the Captain followed his husband with his gaze as he cleared the table. John had greeted him with a tight hug, almost clutching a little at his coat and then he’d served a meal containing a delicious meat pie, freshly baked bread with butter and then apples baked in wine with cream for dessert. After having praised his husband’s cooking until the man blushed, James offered to read to him again. An offer John was more than happy to accept.

Soon John was laying with his head in James’ lap on the backporch, listening to Don Quixote and having his husband’s hand entangled in his curls. James had bought the book, among other things, as a gift and John had barely been able to keep his hands of it, even while making supper. He kept walking between the pie and the book until James removed it from the kitchen with a chuckle, telling him to have a little patience.

His human poodle of a husband was in a peculiar mood. He seemed absentminded, yet a bit nervous and James knew him well enough by now to know it wasn’t a good moment for questions. John was clearly digesting some new knowledge he’d come across during James’ absence and hadn’t really come to terms with it yet. He was quite adorable in those moments, James admitted to himself.

John had gotten rid of his beard and James realised he missed it a little. It had given his husband a more mature look, less boyish and made the years between them seem fewer. The man had changed very much during their first year together. On their anniversery, 22 December, James had placed a bouquet with a dozen white roses on John’s dresser in secret before he, together with Billy and Joji, left for a highly unexpected and most unwelcome hunt they couldn’t refuse. John had spent Christmas with Ben and DeGroot and when James came back in the midst of January, the bouquet was hanging on a nail in the wall next to the dresser, dried to be saved before it withered away.

James dreaded having to tell John he had to leave soon again. Not that he was worried about him. His husband seemed to be, if not happy so at least quite content with his situation and could manage well on his own. He had friends to keep him company and the garden kept him busy, but James had been away more often than not since John had recovered and didn’t feel too keen on leaving him alone again so soon. But he had to, and not only due to things concerning business.

The scared, malnourished and tense boy he’d married back in Port Royal, who’d cried down his wedding bouquet and whispered his yes with a voice baring the agonies of every scared, unhappy bride being married against her will throughout history didn’t exist anymore. Captain Flint’s indoor husband was a highly capable, accomplished man who managed their home more than well and who’s garden people would talk about with the same admirition they spoke about Ben Gunn’s kitchen.

More than one of the girls at the taven had joked about what a waste with beauty it was, that a man as pretty as John Silver had been married off to the grumpy Captain Flint who seemed to be more of a human rain cloud than an actual human being. James was aware of how people talked and it only made his own thoughts more disturbing.

He could take him. All he had to do was telling John to take his clothes off, go down on all four and spread his legs. He could take as little or as much time as he wish to make the man slick and open and then take his right as a husband. John wouldn’t protest, he’d obey and try his best to hold back any sign of disgust and pain. And yet, the man seemed to search for closeness. He would crawl up to James in his sleep, lay down to rest his head in James’ lap while being read to and the way he’d clutched the coat was a sign clear even to James. Whatever John felt for him, he wanted him home, but it wasn’t enough for James to let go of his earlier thoughts of divorce.

He’d imagined that John would be more comfortable with a woman and there were more than one female outdoor spouse candidate who’d be happy to have John Silver as indoor husband. That would be the least selfish thing to do, instead of forcing this beautiful, talented and gentle man to live like a monk and freeze dead everytime he felt James’ desire press against him in the night. James had to start looking for a suitable outdoor wife for John. It broke his heart even to think about it, but the thought of causing John more pain was worse. The rose blossomed now and James refused to make it wither again.

TBC

Chapter Text

What did he do wrong? Was it the beard? Apparently not, because James didn’t seem overly happy that he’d shaved it off. On the contrary, he commented John’s smooth chin with a slightly disappointed hint that he looked more boyish now and even though his husband was a fucking human riddle, at least that was a hint John had no problem to understand.

Since the conversation with Ben, John’s mind had been more or less constantly occupied with the subject. The man’s information about oil slicked fingers, different angles and positions and the fact that sexual climax wasn’t something only for the one who did the fucking, but also for the one being fucked had made the prospect of carnal activities looking far more interesting, if also strange. John had seen and heard whores and mollies being fucked by lord Ashe and there had been no pleasure for anyone but him. Women, girls and boys had been in pain, they’d cried and nothing in the act had given John reason to believe there was any pleasure in it for the receiver. Some had even blead. From the pussy or the ass. John had been spared in a way, only receiving a very sore throat and bruisings on the neck. Not that John for a moment believed James would act like lord Ashe, but for John himself to get actual pleasure, not only absence of strong pain, was a very new thought. That the feelings he’d felt so strong after stopping with the chastising brew, even if they’d decreased to a more manageable level, wouldn’t go away until he became a really old man, that was if he didn’t got ill or injured in some way that would effect his fluids.

It worked differently for every man and woman, Ben had told him. Some people had strong urges, some had less strong and if John felt too embarressed to talk to James about it – no shit?! – he could try to ”explore for himself”. Fingers, oil and solitude could get you a quite long way. And for God’s sake, John, keep your nails short and rounded!

John hadn’t actually dared to try that. The whole idea made him feel embarressed and uncomfortable even for himself, so he figured it would be best to leave the matter to James. If his husband could just take him to bed, John wouldn’t have to think about anything but spreading his legs and try to relax. He was sure that James would be gentle and try to make it as painless as possible, but the man didn’t show any signs of wanting any intimacy.

John worked hard and James praised him for it, so it couldn’t be that. And no man in his right mind would marry another man if he had no lust for men, so of course it wasn’t that either. And since John disliked filth and bad smells as much as James, he made sure to always be as clean as possible, taking regular baths and not being sloppy with the house cleaning or laundry. He tried, in his own inexperienced way, to be appealing to the man by searching for physical contact, but after a while that didn’t seem to please James, who answered with shallow pats on his hair or a kiss on cheek, as if John was a child or a pet.

It was, to be honest, quite hurtful, being rejected like that and to John’s horror, it made him feel incomplete and unattractive, waking up old feelings of incapability and failure. Strangely enough, he’d come to long for the bedding as much as he feared it. If James kissed him during the act, maybe it would be less painful. And John was very good with silent crying. James wouldn’t even have to see his tears, since John would be on his hands and knees, ass up and face turned away. But before any of that could happen, the man had to desire him.

James liked his hair, at least that was clear and he also liked cleanliness and soft skin. He liked fresh breath and to see John wearing the jewlery he’d given him. So, with tricks as old as time, John carefully began to seduce his husband. Now, he didn’t call it seducing, of course. Not because he was unfamiliar with the word, but John connected seducing with people who could feel pleasure from sex and he didn’t do this to gain that kind of pleasure, but to secure his place by James’ side. In no way did John expect to take pleasure from it in the way Ben seemed to do. Even if the information he’d recieved from the gentlehearted man had been more about practical matters than feelings, it had been very clear to John that for Ben, sex wasn’t just about spreading eagle and count the minutes until Billy was done and satisfied. I already told you, John. I like his cock up my ass. I actually fucking love it. He’s gentle, patient and it feels just so fucking good.

That was about as much information about another couples intimacy John could handle and he still blushed everytime he thought about it. But to have the knowledge and the marital expectations didn’t mean he was any closer to make James fuck him. And it only seemed as John’s efforts had the opposite effect. He was prettier than ever, and still as untouched as on his wedding night.

TBC

Chapter Text

As the weeks past and his husband didn’t show any signs of wanting to bed him, but in the same time didn’t push him away physically or used words of malcontent, John came to the conclusion that if anything was supposed to happen in this matter, he had to be the one doing something about it. And he started with things he was familiar with.

Nicely tasting meals was the first thing. He knew James’ favourite dishes by now and when the man came back from his latest trip, declaring he’d be at home for at least two weeks before the next hunt, John quickly changed the menu to suit his husband’s taste. Smoked fish, heated breadslices with melted butter and boiled eggs or wheat porridge with cinnamon and honey were favourites. Lemon tea, coffee and fresh fruit were also very much appreciated. He made steak with roasted potatos and fried tomatos for midday meal and kept James’ favourite white wine in cold water in the shadow to cool down before serving.

He used an ounce of lavender and rose oil in the bed linen laundry and cleaned the bed chamber neatly every day to make it more appealing. And he started to bathe more often. John had always disliked feeling dirty and having a hot bath with perfumed oils was heaven. The thing was, they didn’t have a tub large enough to lie down in, only a smaller one where the legs didn’t fit and even thou the ocean was the biggest tub one could ask for, it really wasn’t the same. He mentioned to James ”in bypassing” how nice it would be to have a proper tub and ”suddenly”, after one of Jame’s trips, there was one in their bed chamber. John thanked him with a breathtaking smile while James mumbled something unhearable and went to get a package containing a glass bottle.

”Peach oil. For your bath.”

John barely had the time to thank him before he left, mumbling something about ’proper gifts’ and John stood there with the bottle and sniffed cautiosly on the content. It was lovely. Making a hot bath took some time and effort, but considering how nice and relaxing it was, John decided it was definately worth it.

He started to take his baths late in the evenings, when the chores were done for the day. When James shook his head and asked if John had became tired of books, he just rolled his eyes in exasperation and mumbled – quite audibly – something that sounded suspiciously close to ”old bonehead”. Since he took his baths in the kitchen and ”unfortunately” couldn’t close the door, John used the dressing screen to create some privacy before he took his clothes off and sank down in his hot, perfumed bliss. And before that, he’d made sure there were no excuses for James to go outside and do any chores.

This night, by coincidence of course, John’s hair had tangled something terribly and, oh how unfortunate, John’s hairbrush was laying at the dresser in the bed chamber. Naturally, it would be a bad idea to leave the tub and dribble water all over the floors in the kitchen, the hallway and the bed chamber and John really had to entangle his curls so what to do but calling for help?

”James! Husband?”
”Yes, dear?”
”Could you help me with the hair?”
”Uhm… your hair?”
”It’s tangled and I forgot the hairbrush.”
”Your hairbrush?”

John cursed in silence.

”Yeah, it’s on the dresser and I don’t want to dribble water all over the floor.”

When James came behind the screen and handed him the brush, John shook his head.

”What? You wanted it. Take it.”
”Nah-uh. Poodle wants help.”
”Christ…”

Mumbling and grunting, James took a chair and sat down behind his head. He started to brush John’s hair, but it was too thick and tangled – not at all on purpose – and he put the brush down to use his fingers.

”How on Earth did you manage to mess it up like this, John…? Maybe we should cut it?”
”Hey!”

John covered his precious curls and James snickered.

”Just joking, little poodle.”
”Poodle isn’t laughing. I thought you liked my hair.”
”I do.”

James combed the thick, brown locks with hard, callous fingers and John leaned back against the bathtub edge, enjoying the slow caressing of his hair.

”Am I pretty, James?”
”What?”
”Am I pretty?”

His husband, who’d moved from fingers to hairbrush after a while, dropped the item on the floor with a small slam.

”By all Gods… Yes, of course you’re pretty, John. Only a fool would think otherwise.”
”I’m not really interested in what anyone but you thinks about me, husband.”
”Your husband thinks you’re a very pretty man.”

He continured to brush the hair, a little faster now and when all the knots were entangled, he rose from the chair.

”Um… Have to make sure the chicken coop is locked for the night.”
”I did that earlier.”
”Better check it anyway. I’ll be right back. Enjoy your bath.”

Check the chicken coop? How fucking stupid did James think he was? Enough to embarress himself with a pathic attempt for seduction, only to be adandoned while sitting in a perfumed bath. The shame burned inside him and to make it worse, he had tear in his eyes. His husband may thought he was pretty, but he clearly didn’t think he was desireble. John had never felt so humiliated in his entire life.

TBC

Chapter Text

Why did he do this? Why did a man who wasn’t sexually interested in other men try to… seduce him like this, when it was already clear that he didn’t have to take part in that kind of intimacy? James walked fast. He’d already forgotten about the chickens, a lie John surely had seen through.

John Silver. A duty. An unwanted burden. A crying, puking landlubber who trembled from the slightest touch. A child in a man’s body. Dark ringlets, blue incredulous eyes and a toothy smile, capable of melting all snow in England.

”Fuck!”

The evening was beautiful and it mocked him. The way John had greeted him, the tight hug reminding of a lover longing for your return. The splendid meal… Soft curls in his lap, the necklace laying on the collarbone, visible where the shirt had slipped to the side. Peach steams from the bath, John undressing behind the screen. Am I pretty?

James wanted to scream. He couldn’t handle this anymore. Not when John tried to make himself desireble – as if he needed to make an effort to make Jame’s heart flutter! – looking at him with those questioning, scared eyes. He had to go back now and tell John he didn’t need to do this. Tell him he could get out of this if he wanted to. It was the right thing to do and it hurt almost as much as loosing Thomas. James turned around and started to walk home.


TBC

Chapter Text

This was too much. He’d left the tub, dried himself with the shame burning inside him. He put on a grey linen shirt and was just about to find his trousers as he saw James. The man was standing in the doorway and John turned around, legs and feet bare under the shirt and wet ringlets falling over his shoulders. James looked at him with exasperation in his green eyes.

”Don’t do this, John.”
”What?”
”This. Showing yourself to me like this.”
”You don’t desire me…”
”God… You don’t desire men, John.”
”How do you know that?”
”I… what?”

John swallowed hard, tears prickling his eyes but he damn well wasn’t going to cry. He fixed his husband’s eyes.

”I said: how do you know what I desire, James? You’ve never asked me.”
”You were married off, against your will and it’s all but clear to me you don’t desire men.”
”Well, then it’s clear for one of us, ’cause I don’t fucking know, husband.”
”How... How could you not know something like that?”

James looked completely abashed, as if John was from another world, not entirely human, and John bit his lip.

”I’ve not felt much… lust before. Not for men, not for women. Not at all. And now I don’t know… All I wanted was to please you, husband.”
”Hold on, John. What do you mean? You don’t have any urges?”

John shrugged.

”Remember how much I cried in the beginning?”
”How could I forget…”
”Well, it turned out it wasn’t just because I was scared. Actually, it was Ben who helped me figure it out… It was the tea.”
”Ben? Tea? I’m… I’m sorry, John, but I don’t understand.”
”I don’t really know how to talk about this, husband. I feel so embarressed…”
”Don’t do that, John. Come here. If you’re not disgusted by it, at least let me hold you?”
”Disgusted? You thought I… Oh, shit…”
”Please, just come here, darling.”

His husband’s arms were strong and warm and John buried his face against James’ chest. The older man sighed.

”There’s something with you that I can’t understand, John, and I think we need to have a proper talk now. And before you ask, there’s nothing with you that I’m displeased with. Nothing.”
”Then why don’t you take me to bed?”
”Because I don’t want to make you do something you might find… offputting. But we’ll get to that later, ’cause I want to know what tea it is your talking about?”
”Can we sit down?”
”Of course.”

James lit a fire in the salon and poured them some wine while John put his trousers on. Then they sat down on the sofa and John took a huge gulp from his cup.

”Sorry, but if we’re gonna have this conversation, I might need some help from the liqor. And can I ask you not to interrupt me, ’cause I’m not sure how I can continue if you do?”
”I wont, sweetheart. Take all the time you need.”

John emptied his cup and put it on the small sidetable. Then he started to talk. He told about his time with the Ashe’s, how he’d served the lord and lady with his mouth and how he had the special herbal tea every day. How they’d stopped giving it to him when he left for sea.

”I was so sea sick and my whole body was in disorder. I thought it was only because of the sea and then of course, the nerves. But it didn’t stop and I recalled the tea I had. I was the only one who had it and it was disgusting, but it was made specially for me and guess it sounds silly, but it felt… good to know they, you know, thought about me. And then, when we came here and all I fucking did was crying and puking…”
”Yeah, I remember. Felt so sorry for you.”
”That, and you were bloody irritated.”
”I was.”

John smiled a little.

”My body, you know, it behaved like it was some fucking war in my insides. And… can you promise me not to laugh?”
”Laugh? Why would I…?”
”Just promise, alright?”
”I promise.”
”And don’t look at me while I tell you this, I’m not drunk enough not to be embarressed.”
”I’ll close my eyes, dear.”

And when James had closed his eyes and John felt the liqour spread through his body, he told him about the tea, what Ben had told him and the shock and disgust he’d felt when his cock suddenly started to get a will of it’s own.

”I’d never had a fucking boner before, James, and there I was, lying in a fucking luxury bed with that… thing hoisting itself while I just threw up and blubbered like a fucking pregnant woman. It was horrible and I felt completely disgusting. And then I talked to Ben about the tea, it wasn’t about anything impropriate, I just thought I needed the tea and since he had like the most perfect kitchen, I thought he might know.”
”Did he?”
”As a matter of fact, he did. Turned out that the tea I’d had two or three times a day since I was fourteen, was made of a sweet little thing called chasteberry.”
Chasteberry?
”It’s just as stupid as it sounds. Apparently, Peter Ashe wanted me to, I don’t know…”
”Not have any urges… Of course…”

James shook his head.

”Such a pretty scalary boy couldn’t just be allowed to… Jesus, John…”
”I’ve never been fucked, thou. Guess it was to make a bigger profit once they sold me, but my master and mistress used to… uhm… I pleasured them with my mouth.”
What?
”Uh-huh. Quite disgusting. The lord used to fuck me down my throat until I got bruises.”
Oh, God… Lord in heaven, John! You’ve been through this without anyone to help you? To comfort you?!”
”Was a male scalary maid, James. Lowest in rank and it could’ve been worse, I guess.”
”How… Jesus… What kind of life have you lived?”
”The only life I’ve known, I guess. Meeting you, coming here… Guess you can imagine what a shock it was to me. I didn’t know how to cook, had no sexual urges and all I did well was cocksucking… You were the first person who treated me kindly and I was terrified I would displease you.”
”I… I don’t know what to say, John.”

John laughed.

”Don’t worry. I know exactly how that feels. Ben said I’ve probably been through the changes to normal manhood in some weeks, well not in all ways of course, but in that particular, you know… area. He said it was a quite confusing thing spread through a couple of years or so.”
”And you went through it in some weeks… In the same time as you were suppose to get to know your new home and…”
”And chores I’d never done. Do you know I wondered where your cook was? I didn’t dare to ask, I just assumed you’d have one since I was just a scalary boy.”
”I’ve wanted to kill Peter Ashe for a very long time, but if I ever get my hands on that rapist asshole, I’ll save him for your knife, John. Raping and fucking castrating an innocent man… I’ve never heard a lower thing in my life and I’ve heard a lot…”

John shrugged and refilled his own cup and then James’. He was more than a bit drunk by now, but it was needed. John starred into the fire.

”Yeah, well… Where do we go from here, husband?”
”Well… Since this hardly is something I’ve been prepared for, I honestly don’t know.”
”Good.”
”How’s that good?”
”Because then you understand how I felt when I was told I’d been married off to a man.”

He sighed deeply.

”Husband?”
”Yes, John?”
”I feel so… tired and lonely. Please, just hold me a little…”

And on a rug on the floor, in front of the fireplace, James Flint hold his drunk, crying and completely exhausted yet relieved husband in his arms, waiting for the storm to abate. And the feared Captain tucked the human wreckage close to his chest, carrying it ever so gently through the shame and pain, as if the wreckage was the finest treasure who, fragile and lonely had drifted off from home, finally reaching safe shore.

TBC

Chapter Text

”And what now, Thomas? Miranda? Any advice?”

They hurt my husband. They hurt, used, humiliated and raped my darling man. The very air pierced his body, his heart, now as he couldn’t cry anymore. After all, there was a limit for how many tears you could shed at one cry. Now, Captain James Flint craved blood.

The man in his arms was asleep. The poor man who’d wanted him to bed him, to be desireble, still so insecure of his position, even after having slapped James in the face, not giving a damn about consequenses as long as he could reclaim just a little dignity. How could James take care of this man the way he deserved? How could he not? James leaned down to kiss the cheek.

”All I know, John, is that whatever you remember about this when wake up, I’ll be by your side.”

Love. Such an unreliable thing it was. Just as life itself. The creature in his arms never stood a chance. He’d been oppoused by God, humans, a country and his very own nature, working together in the most cruel way. And after over a year with struggles, hard work and an all but understanding husband, the poor man had made a desperate attempt to be… desireble. James had wondered where in all this John’s own desires fitted, while John still tried to decide if he had any, while the thought about his right to be respected for who he was, set up his own bodily boarders, were practically non-existent. There’d never been a home, a safe haven or lovings arms waiting anywhere for this man, only men and women using him to satisfy their own desires.

So many things were different now. Both the present and the past. The crouching, the neverending tears and the nausea. The external calm, hiding and suppressing the shock and fear. How had this man survived? How had he managed this far without perish? How would James continue from here?

You have to tell him about us, James. About me and Miranda.

”Not yet, Thomas. It’s too early.”

I didn’t mean right now, my love. But you above all know how it is to conceal your deepest wound.

”I miss you so much, dearest. You would’ve known what to do…”

No, James, I would not. You have to let go of the image of me as the savior of hearts. I was only an man. No more, no less.

”To me you were the only man.”

But not anymore. Whatever happens, whatever has happened, John Silver holds your heart. He’s your savior, not me.

”Even if that was true, who’ll save him?”

You, of course.

”Miranda?”

Always so surprised, dear James. Even if you lost us, even if you must let go of some parts of us to make room for the living, we’ll never truly leave you. We’re still a part of your life and as long as you remember us, we’ll always live on in memory. Use your own pain, your own loss, my love.

”And how would that help him?”

He’s been alone, so terribly alone for almost all his life, James. Beneath the silence and the calm, there’s always been an isolated, ignored and unloved soul drifting on it’s own with no one to guide him, to keep him safe or hold him close. You gave him satin and silver, dearest James, and all he was capable to wish for himself, was a piece of steady ground for him to rest on. A place where the waves couldn’t reach him, where a hurt, lonely and mistreated little soul could catch his breath…

”I can’t save him, Thomas… Couldn’t save Miranda, couldn’t save you…”

And yet you must. It’s not me you’re seeing in those blue eyes, James. It’s not Miranda’s hands making the music flow through the house or planting crops. We’ll always be a part of you, but we’re the past and John is the now and the future. And yes, you’ll stumble, you’ll make each other cry and you’ll bicker until you both make serious plans on running away, but in the end, all those rocks, traps and slippery ground will be treasures you can point at and say: look at all those times we saved each other. Again and again, without even notice…

”James…?”
”Yes, darling?”
”Who are you talking to?”
”No one, sweetheart.”
”Am I drunk?”
”I certainly hope so. Otherwise it was a waste of some fine liquor.”

The sweetest giggle could be heard from the thick mass of curls.

”Don’t suppose you could… help me to bed, Captain?”
”I’m at your service, Mr. Silver.”

For life.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Lord have mercy…”

His stomach was apparently making cartwheels, his throat was hoarse and his head seemed to have come loose from the neck, because the world was most certainly not straight in any way. How much did he have to drink last night? And what had happened?

John felt absolutely miserable, in the way one usually do the morning after mixing different kinds of spirits in fast speed during an emotionally exhausting event. Thank heavens there was a bucket close.

”John? Are you awake?”
”Unfortunately I am… Oh, my poor, poor head…”
”You had quite a lot to drink last night.”
No shit… Excuse me, husband…”

His stomach made another vicious attack and the most pathetic whimper loosened from his throat.

”Sweet Mother of God… Have I been poisoned?”
”Only with a royal hangover, little poodle.”
”Please, kill me. Put me out of my misery!”
”I’ll try to ease the misery a bit, but I’m afraid killing is out of the question.”
”You’re a cruel man, Captain.”
”That I am.”
”Have you no compassion for a poisoned poodle?”
”Lots, but not that much. I’ll give you some breakfast instead.
”Food?! You really do hate me.”

It was already late in the morning and despite his cruelty, the Captain had pulled the drapes in the chamber and shut the sun out. When John’s stomach had calmed down a little, he took his sticky clothes off and dipped his whole head in the water bucket by the dresser, dreaming of drowning. James, who had his own memories of terrible hangovers, just shook his head at the view of his butt naked husband kneeling on the floor with the curly head under water.

When the head came up to the surface again, James cleared his throat.

”I’ve made you breakfast. It’s fruit, flat breads and coffee. And lots of water. I’m going over to Billy to see if Ben’s at home. Maybe he has something that would help.”
”No disgusting tea!”
”You want to ease the hangover?”
”No, I want to die!”
”That’s what all men want after that combination of drinks.”
”You were the one pouring them into me!”
”And you swallowed, little poodle. I’ll be right back and don’t try to stand up without holding on to something steady.”

Fortunately, Ben was at home washing the windows and when James told him about John’s hangover, he quickly went through his medicine cabinet, took out some bags and jars and made one of his brews, as he looked curiously at James.

”You need something too, Captain?”
”Only the fastest ship known to mankind, a reliable crew and the best winds God can create.”
”And where would that wind take you?”
”To England, where I would make the whole damn British upperclass tremble every time the hear the name Captain Flint.”

The man rose his eyebrows and James sighed.

”Don’t listen to me, Ben. It’s… Lets just say it’s been one of the strangest, worst and in the same time relieving nights in my life.”
”What did he tell you?”
”His lifestory. Oh God, Ben…”

James usually wasn’t one to cry and he really didn’t have time with that now. The gentlehearted indoor husband pulled him close in a hug, patting his back.

”I guess the hangover is a reasonable price to pay for yor husband then.”
”How much do you know?”
”Well, he came to talk to me about a… marital matter.”
”The fucking tea…”
”Huh… so he’s finally told you… Good.”

James tried to stop crying and Ben sighed.

”If I know John right, I believe that whatever he told you last night, it’s not something he wants to think about. Bet it went far deeper than he’s ever let anyone close enough to know before. John’s not one to open up easily to anyone, if I’m not mistaken.”
”You’re not. What am I to do, Ben?”

The Scotsman pulled away from the embrace and looked at James with firm, blue eyes.

”Endure. And when it’s worse than usual and you want nothing but running away, try to remember it’s ten times worse for John. He’ll probably try to regain some control by pretending that some things weren’t said, or maybe even claim he doesn’t remember anything. That man hates to feel vulnerable, Flint, so allow him to withdrawn.”
”Withdrawn?”
”Whatever truths he’s told you, they were probably very, very hard to tell. If he needs to pretend the conversation never took place or that certain things weren’t said, allow him to do so. We indoor spouses are already vulnerable enough as it is. Allow him to keep his thoughts if he wants, just let him know he’s not alone.”

Ben stirred the brew one more time, sealed the bottle and handed it over.

”Thank you, Ben.”
”No problem. He’ll hate us both for it, but it’ll help. Oh, and don’t let him mix that much wine and rum again.”
”As a matter of fact, I encouraged him.”
”Well, then I guess you have a day with emptying buckets ahead. Good luck.”
”Thank you, I’ll need it.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”I’d be glad to help, Flint, but why me? And why now?”
”It’s about time, I guess, and you’re one of the most skilled swordsmen in Nassau, Bonny. Or, swordswomen.”
”Of course I’ll help him, but just out of curiosity…”
”Why not Joji, Billy or Ben?”
”Exactly.”

James gritted his teeth. Most of the Walrus crew were sitting on the tavern, drinking after a long day of careening and Bonny, who’d just returned from a hunting, had been there just in time for a little talking. James was pretty fond of Rackhams outdoor working indoor spouse. Unlike her husband, she was one to get to the point quickly and was a woman as discreat in her missions as deadly with her blade.

”Without going into any details, I’d say my husband feels quite… weak right now. And he’s furious.”
”Furious?”
”Yes. For good reasons.”
”Reasons you can’t tell me, but it’d be good for him to take out his rage on something and also learn how to protect himself? Yeah, I understand, Flint. Don’t need to know than that. How often do you want me to come over?”
”That’s entirely your decision, Bonny. I’m just grateful for your help, and I’ll pay you good money for it, of course.”
”Money ain’t something we need to discuss now, Flint. At first I have to know if he wants to learn. Did he ask for this himself?”
”Of course not.”
”That’s what I thought. What if he doesn’t want to?”

James snorted and took a gulp of his drink.

”I’m not one to act like a tyrant at home, but in this matter I have the final word.”
”I’m not wasting my time on someone who doesn’t give a shit, Flint.”
”He’ll give a shit and if you can promise me a trial period for… lets say two months where you give him lessons every day you’re on shore, I’ll pay you enough to hire a damn good cook so you’ll never have to eat your husband’s food again.”
”And he doesn’t have to eat mine. Alright, it’s a deal, Flint, as long as you answer my question. Why me?”
”Because you learned how to fight in a constant disadvantage, Bonny. I know no one who’s more experienced than you when it comes to fight people who sees you as an easy prey.”
”Because I’m not a man…”
”Exactly.”

Anne Bonny nodded.

”I’ll take the offer, but if he’s not taking it seriously, it’s off.”
”Deal. And I guess I don’t really have to add the importance of discretion?”

The readheaded woman just glared and James rose from the table with a smile.

”We’re not heading out for at least six days, Flint. How about tomorrow morning down the beach?”
”Where on the beach exactly?”
”The old smugglers cave? Around eight.”
”Perfect. And thank you.”
”Yeah, whatever, Flint. Just make sure he’s there on time and brings water.”

TBC

Chapter Text

They argued about it, of course. From the moment James came back to tell him and every waking hour until that insufferable redhead practically dragged him to the beach, during wild protesting.

”I can’t fucking hold a sword, James!”
”I know. That’s why we’re here.”
”I’m not fucking doing it.”
Yes, you are, husband!”

John glared, but shut his mouth. It wasn’t often James used his authority like that, but when he did, it wasn’t negotiable.

”I’ve never even met her before.”
”Then it’s about time. And trust me, John, you don’t want to mess with Anne Bonny.”
”Why can’t you teach me if it’s so bloody important to you?”
”Because she’s ten times better than any man on this island, including me. Now keep moving, you insufferable poodle.”
”I’ll only disgrace us both!”
”Yes, you will, if you don’t obey and behave. Or do you really want people to talk about how Captain Flint’s husband not only didn’t obey, but openly rejected the most skilled sword fighter in Nassau instead of being damn fucking grateful for the opportunity to learn from the best?”

John gritted his teeth but started walking again.

”This is still a stupid fucking idea.”
”If you say so. But I warn you, John. If you don’t behave in Bonny’s presence, you know what I have to do.”
”Will you do me the favour of taking my shirt instead of my trousers this time?”

James quickly turned around, took his husband’s face between his hands and kissed him hard on the mouth.

”Be-fucking-have, John. No one, not even Vane or Blackbeard, is mad enough to be disrespectful to Anne Bonny. You’re going to give this a proper chance without testing her patience, or mine. If you’re acting like an ass instead of the smart, well-mannered man I know you are, I might end up being forced to whip you in public before shaving your hair off and that, my dear, is something I’d like to spare us both. You agree?”

Reminded of the punishment for indoor spouses who disgraced their outdoor spouses in public, John kept his mouth shut and started walking again. He knew just as well as any indoor spouse, how strict the law was on that matter. If John disgraced himself in public, James would loose his good reputation and by that his possibility to make a living and provide for them. And the only way to reclaim his good name, would be to make John bend on his knees in the square while James first shaved his head and then gave him thirty lashes with his belt. John hadn’t seen it happen to anyone yet, but Ben had witnessed a couple of those punishments and the social stigma that followed them. Hearing about it had made John shiver inside, espcially since it was something his husband wouldn’t have any say in.

”Yes, husband, I agree and I’ll behave. I’m sorry for acting like an idiot and of course I don’t want to disgrace you or myself.”

James stroke his cheek and planted a soft kiss on his hair.

”I know you don’t. And I’m sorry for being hard on you, little darling, but trust me, this will do you good.”

They kept walking and when they saw Anne Bonny’s hat, James patted his husband’s shoulder and nodded at the woman.

”Bonny will take you home afterwards. I’ll see you at noon.”

When James left, the deceptively slight woman took off her hat and coat, took up two swords and approached John.

”Take off your jacket, John and cover your head. We’ll start with some balance practice. Stop starring and take up fucking sword. First lesson: always move fucking feet.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”How did he manage?”
”Well enough. Especially for a pup. See you tomorrow, Flint.”
”Send Rackham my regards.”

When Bonny had left and James was alone on the road home, he smiled. A well enough from Anne Bonny was a very good credential. John was stubborn when he had the chance and it was often a virtue, but sometimes the man needed some guidence and the only man who could make Anne Bonny pull back was Jack Rackham. Naturally, when James walked through the door, there was a very sore pup with a bandage around his left hand who stirred in a stew and had a most defiant look on his face. James gave him a kiss on cheek.

”Good evening, husband.”
”Good evening, husband.”
”What’s for supper?”
”Chickpea stew, salted pork and crisp bread.”

Chickpea stew? That meant a very affronted pup and James quickly took to the bed chamber to fresh up. James had learned when it was best to leave his husband alone and when they’d eaten and John had taken care of the chickens and had his usual evening stroll in the garden, the man disappeared into the bed chamber without a word. James assumed he was only pouting but a moment later John came back with a bottle in his hand and a look that wouldn’t take any resistance what so ever. James put down his book.

”What can I do for you, dearest?”
”I’m so glad you asked, husband. I just remembered I havent properly thanked you for the excellent swordfighting lesson you forced me to attend after you’ve talked about public whipping and cutting my hair.”
”Yeah, about that…”
”Oh, you absolutely don’t have to think about that, dear husband. I just hope I wont disappoint you in any way by not being strong enough. We wanted to avoid public disgrace, right?”
”Yes, my dear. What’s your point?”
”Well, since I’ve spent some long fucking hours, getting my ass kicked in the morning sun on the beach, by a fucking demon with hat on your order, and you seemed to be a bit… disappointed with supper tonight, I have a little suggestion.”
”I’m listening.”
”Of course I wouldn’t dream about disobeying you, but those sword fighting lessons will give me less time for other duties, since I don’t know how to extend time.”
”I’ve counted on that.”
”Good. Because if you’re not comfortable with walking in public in dirty or ragged clothes, or having peas and pork for supper three times a week, you have to make a choice.”
”And what choice is that, dear husband?”
”Either I’ll go to my lessons and you’ll get ragged clothes and peas, or I’ll go to my lessons and you get a nicer menu, clean clothes and giving me massage regularly.”
”What?”
”You heard me, Captain.”

James felt himself blush and John looked at him with a gaze telling him he had no chance on this one.

”My muscles have been screaming in fucking agony since this morning, Captain, and unless you want to hear me curse and move around in bed all night, and having pork and peas for supper tomorrow, you’ll give me a massage.”
”But… I’ve never given massage before!”
”Oh yeah? I’ve never used a sword before. Didn’t let me off the hook, huh?”

Torture. That was the most fitting word for this, James thought a little while later as he dribbled oil on his husband’s naked back and shoulders. Since they’d brought up the subject of John’s earlier life after the failed bath, neither of them had mentioned either of it and James understood more than well that this was John’s own little revenge. His poodle would have it his way.

John’s skin was soft and warm, sunkissed and smooth. He was naked apart from a tovel around his hips and James had to bite back a moan as he started to move his palms over the tense muscles. Revenge or not, the muscles really were tense and soon little yawning sounds of pleasure came from the man, only making James’ erection increase. The tovel had slipped down a little, revealing just a hint of the firm buttocks and James swallowed.

”What’s the matter, husband? Is it uncomfortable?”

John’s voice was teasing, as if he was an experienced lover who could take a quick fuck, but James knew all too well how much of that game wasn’t even played, but an expression of confusion. He had to focus, keep his head clear. John’s experiences with sex had nothing to do with his lust, love or devotion. He was strangley innocent and in the same time cynical. And right now he tried to regain some of the control he’d lost in their argument about sword fighting, by making James show he wanted him but without breaking his word of not doing him any harm.

The realisation hit James with full force as he worked through the tense muscles. Despite the theoretical knowledge or all the prooves he’d had of James’ patience and care, the concept of sex still didn’t make John think of his own pleasure. To John, his body was merely a tool for others to use for hard labour or sex as they pleased. Well, if John was trying to make James loose his mind, he’d be disappointed. Or, as James hoped, pleased.

He kept moving his hands over the aching muscles, realising John actually really liked it, relaxing faster than ever under his ministrations. And not once did the skittish man froze in discomfort, fear or pain.

TBC

Chapter Text

To be honest, John hadn’t realised how good it could feel to be touched like that. Once he’d gotten used to the way James’ hands wandered over his skin, he started to relax very quickly. After all, he knew his husband’s touch by now, at least enough to know it wasn’t unpleasant. And this kind of touch? Far from unpleasant. James’ fingers left trails of shiverings all over his back and sent unusual yet pleasant pulls down his belly. He knew that feeling by now and he realised he was getting hard. But he didn’t made the slightest hint about it. Instead he waited to see what way the feeling would take. Would it increase? Decrease? Stay the same? When the gentle fingertips reached his lower back, John was pretty sure the feeling wouldn’t decrease in quite some time.

He wanted those hands all over him, wanted them to move lower, to touch him more and when the hands began to go back up again, in the opposite direction John wanted, he reach back with his hands, grabbing James’ wrist and moving him lower. James sighed and John opened his eyes.

”Husband?”
"Please, don’t do this again, John.”
"But… I want to please you, James.”

The fear. It was back again and John felt his heart running wild. James leaned down to kiss his hair.

”You do please me, John. So much more than I’d ever dreamed of. But that’s the problem. I won’t be able to control myself in the long run when you’re… like this.”
”I don’t understand.”

James gritted his teeth in frustration.

”This, John! You, making yourself even more desireble by every day… I want you, John, but I refuse, I simply can’t give in to that desire just because you want to please me.”
”James…”
”I know what you’re supposed to do, but I’ve said so many times I won’t force myself on you.”
”Husband, please…”
”And if you’re doing this to please me when you’re not…”
”Shut up and listen to me!”

John’s outburst seemed to shock him more than it shocked James and the curlyhaired man buried his face in his hands.

”Oh, God, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to… I don’t know what came over me, husband! But I, I want you, James. I’ve tried to show it… I’m so sorry for speaking out of term like that.”
”You… you want me?”

James’ didn’t know what to believe. His beautiful husband was once again so scared he should abide to anything James asked from him, but the outburst wasn’t like him. I want you. I’ve tried to show it… And now he was shivering. James slowly lay down beside him.

”John? Look at me, please?”

He used his softest voice, the one that usually made his skittish husband to look up, but not this time. James reached out his hand, only to make John twitch and he swallowed.

”You didn’t dislike it? I’m not angry with you for blurting out, John, not at all. You didn’t dislike it?”
”No. I…”
”Go on, my dear.”
”I want to… want to be desireble to you, not just because you’re my husband, but…”
”But what? Go on, I’m not angry with you, John.”
”I desire you.”
”What?”
”I think I desire you, James. I thought it would be obvious by now… This is the closest I’ve ever been to… this in my entire life…”

The slightly trembling lower lip, the eyelashes against the thin skin under the blue eyes. When James put his hand under John’s chin, he blushed. His beautiful, frightened, impossible husband blushed from James’ touch. There was fear, but not only. Not even mostly. James let his thumb brush over the lower lip and John gasped.

James put his hand on John’s neck and squeezed the tense muscles softly, eliciting an almost inaudible moan from the slightly parted lips. When he leaned in to kiss him, John immediately opened up. His husband tasted like chocolate and almonds and James was lost in the sensation. The hot tongue, the way the tense neck tilted and the sensitive hands stroke over his chest. The lithe body was still tense and James drew back a little, fixing John’s questioning, longing and frightened eyes with his gaze.

”I want you to be happy, John. To feel safe and cared for. I… I want you to know pleasure. Would you allow me to try and give you that? Not for my sake or for the sake of an inhuman law, but because it could make you feel good?”

The man bit his lip and James kissed his forehead.

”Tell me what’s on your mind, dear. Don’t be afraid.”
”It’s just that… I don’t know how it feels when it’s… good.”

James mouth dropped a little.

”You mean you can’t tell at all?”
”It’s never been in my place to ask for pleasure.”

John swallowed hard. The very thought of pleasure being a possibility was still so new to him. He’d only wanted James to take him to bed to make sure he was still desireble to his husband. To secure his place a little, but never for a moment had his own pleasure been a part of that plan. Possibly absense of too much pain, yes, but pleasure? To have a husband that was kind to him, was more than he’d ever expected. To be asked if he, John Silver, an indoor husband, had felt pleasure from this kind of act as if it actually mattered was just… so far from anything John considered to be possible, he didn’t know what to answer.

”John, dearest… If you don’t know pleasure, I would very much like to help you discover it. I know you’re afraid, but I’m also starting to believe that you, to some extent, long for it. May I have the honor to be your guide, John Silver?”

John couldn’t help but smile. He nodded.

”You may, James Flint.”

The room was half dark and James pulled John gentle on to his lap. John still shivered and James just wrapped his arms around him and the body immediately tensed.

”I will only touch you above your waiste now, John. Like this.”

He let his right hand slide over John’s chest, down to the the bellybutton and up again. He repeated it, again and again, until his husband began to relax a little.

”Does it feel good, my dear?”
”Yes... It does.”
”How about when I do this?”

He circled his hand over the right side of John’s chest, just as gentle, and after a short moment of increased tension, his husband relaxed more and tilted his head sideways.

”Do you like it, John?”
”I do. It’s… unfamiliar but it feels good.”
”As it should. Would you allow me to continue with the other side?”
”You don’t have to ask for permission, husband.”
”But I want to. I want you to learn about pleasure, John, and you can’t do that if you don’t tell me how it feels. Please, help me to make you feel good.”
”I… I like it when… the thing you do when I’ve been sad…”

The words almost seemed stucked in his mouth.

”Holding me… close… like I was dear to you…”

James swallowed. The vulnerability in the voice, the man so unused to pleasure he didn’t even dare to ask for it. James laid a hand on John’s cheek, caressing the skin with his thumb.

”You are dear to me, John. I’m not always very good at showing it, but you’re not just a necessairy evil to me, or an inconvenience. I care for you, I desire you and you’re very dear to me, husband. I would be happy, if you’d allow me to show it to you…”

Careful, warm hands released him from the last layer of fabric while soft lips, surrounded by a slightly scraping beard, kissed his skin. John knew he could look desireble with clothes on, even pretty, but he’d never felt beautiful and certainly not when being seen in flesh. His arms automatically lowered, to cover his nudity. James took his hand.

”John? Look at me.”

Trembling, John turned around and tried to meet the green gaze. There was nothing but gentleness and care to be seen and it stirred up emotions he wasn’t prepared for. His eyes got teary and he inhaled sharply.

”I’m… I’m sorry I…”

His apology was shushed by a soft kiss, only a brush over his lips. Then, callous fingers stroke the tears away.

”You are so beautiful, John. Your eyes, your smile… I love your smile, husband.”

John still trembled when James pressed his mouth against his lips again, opened up like a flower to the sun and soon he leaned in for the kiss, as the tension died from his lips. John just remain like that, allowing himself to taste the pleasure as his hands wandered over James’ thighs touching the fabric.

He’d already learned, on so many occasions, how gentle his husband could be, but he was still unprepared for the eagerness lurking under the kindness. The desire for him, not just desire in general, that his husband bore along with the care and tenderness. It was almost overwhelming, and the kisses grew deeper, longer and more heated as he dared to show his own desire with the increasing strokes over James’ back. It felt so strange. John knew about this, he’d even seen it being performed by others, but to be the one given and recieving pleasure was still so new to him.

”Try to relax, John. I know this is new to you, it’s new to me in a way too.”

John’s lips slipped a moan as James nibbled his earlobe and his cock started to leak when he felt James’ hands sliding over his hips. The hands found his inner thighs, squeezing ever so gently and John pushed his hips forward, instinctively searching for friction. He gasped and got tense when James laid a hand on his thigh and the man moved to stroke his hair instead.

”We’re not going to sleep together tonight, John. You’re too tense and it would only cause you pain. Instead, we’re just sleeping next to each other.”
”You mean, you’re not gonna…?”

His surprise must be visible because James smiled very gently and stroke his cheek.
 
”No, it’s too early. When we consume our marriage, I don’t want you to feel any worry, fear or pain, my dear. I want you to long for it, feel more curious than nervous, feel that you can trust me.”
”I do trust you, James.”
”More than I thought you would, and I’m so grateful for that, but I can wait little longer. I care deeply for you, John. You’re a gentle, intelligent, generous and very lovable man and I want to try to be the husband you deserve.”

Words like these was something John could hardly imagine being spoken to anyone outside a fairytale. He blushed, didn’t know what to say and the whole situation was utterly confusing, but not unpleasant. James laid out his arm and pulled him close. John laid his head to rest on his husband’s chest and felt the strong arms cradle him.

”You’re safe with me, John and I don’t want to cause you any pain. The physical aspect of marriage shouldn’t be rushed or forced, that’s my firm opinion.”

He bit his lip, felt himself going tense again and James stroke his arm and back.

”You’re tense and I don’t want you to be. You don’t have to be afraid.”
”I’m… I’m not afraid. You’re very kind to me and I want to show you how grateful I am for your patience.”
”I don’t want your gratitude, John. I want you to be happy.”
”Happy…”
”Or at least, as close to it as possible. When I make you this tense and afraid, I feel like I’ve failed to make you feel safe. The physical act doesn’t have to be painful or humiliating at all. It’s supposed to be pleasant for both and trust me, it can be. But in order to be pleasant, you have to feel relaxed and safe with me first. There are other ways to experience this kind of pleasure than intercourse. Things that are primarly for your pleasure, not mine.”
”What?”
”I’ve come to realise how extremely strange that prospect is to you, John, so I’m not sure I can make you understand it with words. I want to show you, slowly and in a way that doesn’t make you scared. I promise, I swear on all things sacred, that we wont have intercourse until you’re truly ready. It just wont happen, you’re not going to be taken in any way. I know pleasure, I don’t have to discover it, but you don’t, so I’ll try to teach you and we’ll take it slow. I’m beginning to learn more how you act when you’re not feeling well, so let’s spare us both some time and discomfort by you telling me what you’re comfortable with.”
”I…”

It was so hard, like doing something that was completely against all things normal to him.

”I like when you hold me… I like your… kisses…”

It was merely a whisper, and he didn’t dare to look. He felt a hand entangling his hair, soft and warm, lips brushing softly against his mouth, so gentle and careful. The kiss was shallow, but warm and John felt himself leaning in to it, searching for James’ lips to deepen it, almost aching for it and he opened up with eager and longing.

His body seemed to respond to the kiss in a way completely new to him. The tension was still there, but not all of it was painful. James’ hands and mouth woke up urges inside him, made his belly tingle, his cock swell and his hips searched for… something, anything he didn’t have words for and a moan slipped from his lips. James broke the kiss slowly.

”Do you like it?”
”Yes… I, I don’t know what I’m… but I like it.”
”Can I touch your hips?”
”Yes, yes…”

Skillful, tender hands squeezed softly over his left hip and buttock. Fingers stroke the skin, caressed the muscles and made John breathe faster. It felt good. Unfamiliar, but very good and he wanted more, his cock was so hard and he pushed forward, searching for friction.

”John…”
”Yes…?”
”Do you remember what I said about pleasure? That I know about it and want you to feel it?”
”Yes, yes I remember.”
”I want you to try something that I think will feel good. I’ve done it myself and it gives me pleasure. Would you like me to show you?”
”I… I think so… Yes, yes I want to know, James.”
”Then I’ll show you. I’ll place my thigh between your legs now.”

The hard muscle in his husband’s thigh slowly settled between his own thighs and John’s body reacted almost on it’s own, pushing up against it.

”That’s right, John… Press against it. Can I kiss you?”
”Please…”

He had no idea something like this existed for an indoor spouse. He rutted against his husbands’ thigh, felt pleasure build up and take over in a completely new way. Being guarded almost every moment hadn’t made it possible for John to discover anything about his own body and the daily drink he’d had to keep his lust in check had deprived him of the urge to even look for pleasure. It simply wasn’t a thing for someone like him.

But this. The warm friction against his crotch, the way James kissed him and caressed, made his body tremble in a whole new way. His hips moved faster, he moaned and panted, gave in to the new feeling like it was just as natural for him to have pleasure, as it was for James. Then, he felt a warm sensation deep inside his belly, something entirely new and his movements became erratic and desperate until a whole new feeling took over.

”Oh, fuck, I think I’m…”
”Come for me, John… Take your pleasure…”

The feeling that went through him as his cock pulsated, squirting all over James’ thigh, wasn’t like anything he’d felt before. It was nothing but pure pleasure and relief and he was totally unprepared for it. It sent waves through his whole body, made it tense for some seconds and then… relaxed. He panted loudly, almost whimpered and James put his arms around him and pulled him close to rest against his warm chest. He spread his legs for John to lay between them and caressed his back in long, tender strokes from the shoulders all the way down to his ass.

”Just lay still, my love. Don’t talk, just rest a little.”

His husbands strong arms cradled him as his body slowly came down from the sensation and John’s voice was thick with emotion and suprise when he panted:

”If I behave really well, can we do this again sometime?”

James smiled.

”What a strange, sweet man you are, John… This is not a reward for good behavior, but a way to be intimate, as husbands ought to be.”
”How would you like me to give you pleasure now?”
”This might be a hard blow against everything you thought about marriage and the world, but tonight I’m only giving pleasure, not taking it, John.”
”I… I don’t follow… You don’t want me to…?”
”You’re not going to satisfy me in any intimate way tonight, my dear. Tonight was for your pleasure only and believe it or not, an outdoor spouse can feel happy for giving something that’s only for you. And besides, I think you’re exhausted right now…”

John laughed. He didn’t know why really, but the situation was so confusing and pleasant at the same time his nerves were completely freyed from it. He felt good, relaxed and safe. Confused, but not nearly as frightened as before. James smiled.

”I love that sound, John… Your laugh is beautiful.”

John was too confused and exhausted to do anything but laugh again. James reached for a cloth at the sidetable and wiped him from his release, before blowing out the candle, cradling him again and pull the cover over them. John felt an arm under his head and another around his chest, taking his hand to hold it steady. He could feel James’ arousal against the swell of his ass and stopped breathing for a second. James kissed his neck.

”Trust me, we’re not gonna do anything but sleep now and my cock doesn’t wither from not getting what it want this instant, John. I don’t care how much it whines about it, it just has to wait until I say so and now is not the time. Try to sleep now, little darling…”

TBC

Chapter Text

John had never been shy. Not shameless either. He was used to get his body inspected, commented and used by others. There’d never really been anything about him that was his own. The first year of marriage had taught him that he had the right to eat well, sleep well, stay warm and rest. That he could learn, was allowed to enjoy music and books. To have friends, be a dinner guest, have a hot bath and receive gifts from a husband.

He’d learned that his husband was a patient man, that he didn’t want to cause him pain and that he, John Silver, had an actual sense of pride. He wasn’t a slave, a servant or even a guest in the Captain’s house. This was his home. His clothes, his garden, his jars with tea from herbs and flowers he’d picked and dried himself. He’d learned that he was good enough an indoor spouse who could cook, clean, do laundry, manage a garden and be of help to others.

He’d been the lowest skivvy, chastised and with more access to cock and cunt than food for his belly. From a tool to be used and only taken care of enough to make it work. A thing to be bought, sold or given away as it pleased others, who’s desires had only reached to more or less naive wishes of a calm nights sleep without freezing too much, a day where the mountain of laundry reached a little lower and the firewood didn’t have to be chopped in an icy wind. Where a cup of chastising tea, that had robbed him of his manliness and urges, had been a sign of care and the only one offering an honest and friendly smile, a little kindness, was the lords daughter. Hush, John! If you’re really quiet, you can stay and listen. Me, miss Ashe? Listen to miss while miss is playing? You’re the only one with an ear for music in this house, John. Just hide behind the drapery and be quiet. I wont tell!

John turned slowly in his bed. He’d fallen asleep in his husband’s arms and they were both naked. A litte kindness. That was as far as John’s wishes had reached when James Flint had put the ring on his finger over a year ago and even after many months experience of the man’s patience and kindness, the life in Nassau with the hard, unfamiliar work and surroundings, the bodily changes he’d went through, the newly founded sense of pride in the role as an indoor husband and the act of marital love he’d only had but a small, prior taste of the other night, suddenly came crushing down on him.

The contrasts, the changes not just in his own body, but between how lord and lady Ashe and James had touched him. The first time here, he’d felt like a broken tool, useless in every way. As the time passed, he’d learned, gotten used to and taken some control over his work and time. He’d grown in every way, learned how both personal strives, failures and progress felt. He’d felt pride, confidence and usefulness. Then, for some months, he’d felt insecure and unwanted again. Later angry, hurt and humiliated. Feelings he’d not experienced earlier in that way. As if he’d been a free man who had the right to be respected, even by the man who technically owned him. And last night, that man had showed him pleasure.

In the calm, silent dawn without any urging duties, John’s already severely pressured emotions couldn’t handle the amount of impressions, memories, contrasts and new discoveries and he completely panicked.

”John?! What on Earth is the matter?”
”Please, don’t touch me! I can’t! Can’t now!”

He panted heavily, his heart was raised and he crouched. Not because of James, but the panic raising inside him.

”John, dearest, are you unwell? Did we went too far last night?”
”No! No, I… I don’t know what it is. I… I feel things, James. I don’t do that! Not like this, it’s… too strong and I don’t know what it is! You mustn’t touch me, I can’t have more things that feels right now!”

He barely noticed when his husband left the bed and said something about ”right back”. His whole body was at war with him again and this time the attacks came from everywhere and nowhere. After a little while, a cup was put to his lips.

”Drink this, dear.”

He swallowed the brew and remained as he was in bed for several minutes before his body and mind calmed down. The relief made him burst into tears, much like the shock of the first morning he’d woke up in this bed had.

”I’m not unhappy, James. I… I’m just so fucking unused to… feel. Last night was, I never thought it could be like that, and… I didn’t know I could… Oh, God, I’m so sorry for acting like this!”
”Just tell me if I can hold you, John.”
”You can.”

The strong arms, a safe haven. A loving husband, a life so unfamiliar to a then twentynine, now thirty years old John Silver, that this final confirmation of his whispering vow, had simply been too much. And luckily, a certain Ben Gunn had prepared John’s husband for that. That man hates to feel vulnerable, Flint, so allow him to withdrawn.

James didn’t move his hands, he hold his crying husband swept in the sheet, giving him a little cover for the physical nakedness and a shoulder to hide his inner nudity against. John didn’t search for James’ comfort now, but for cover and some steady ground. James hold him steady, just rocking the trembling body very, very slowly while waiting for the stirred up emotions to calm down. His poor husband didn’t need to make choises or explain anything now. He needed a firm hand to guide him through this chaos, much like when James had demanded him to take lessons from Anne Bonny. Something that released John from the constant worry of not being good enough.

”John?”
”Yes?”
”How are you feeling, sweetheart?”
”Better. I don’t know why I acted like that, husband. I’m so sorry for…”
”Hush now. I understand better than you think, little poodle. I think that neither of us realised how strenuous this would be for you. We need to find out a way to keep you stable again.”
”I can’t.”
”Of course you can, John. Don’t be silly.”
”No, James, I mean it. I really can’t.”

Something in John’s voice was different. It wasn’t like with the swordfighting lessons, or the cooking. It lay deeper and James realised this was about a lot more than sex or general self-confidence.

”You feel like you’re on uncharted seas…”
”Something like that.”
”What do you want me to do, dear?”
”Take charge, husband. I’m running wild right now and I need…”
”Someone to obey.”
”I think so.”

How perfectly ironic. But for once James thought he actually understood his husband. Emotionally, the man was still a virgin, in some ways almost like a child. This amount of emotions crashing down on him, the delayed coming to manhood he’d gone through in a very short time had taken it’s toll on both body and soul and emotionally, John must be completely exhausted.

”You want me to be a stricter husband, John?”
”Yes.”
”Even if I’m not very keen on acting like that?”
”Please?”

The plea was serious and James sighed.

”You think it would help you to handle your emotions? To feel better?”
”And stronger, yes. I know you say I’m strong enough, but that doesn’t help me when I can’t feel it myself. Please, husband. Take me down to steady ground again. At least until I feel as strong as you think I am.”

My English rose, growing stronger and more beautiful than ever, but still so lost… James took his husband’s face between his hands and planted a soft kiss on the curls.

”I’ll always try to be the husband you need, John Silver. Don’t worry, I’ll take charge.”

TBC

Chapter Text

It was with a calm surprise that John realised he wasn’t scared of his husband anymore. He respected him and wanted to please him, but the pure fear was gone. Instead, he’d gone afraid of his own mind and the one who could offer a respite from it, was James Flint.

The strange thing was that John Silver really wasn’t obedient in mind. He’d never been lenient in that way and he’d started to suspect that people could see that. Men and women of all kind had been hard on him. From the nuns at the foundling home where he’d been left on the doorstep in a box as a newborn, to the supervisor in the workhouse who let John’s hair grow out only to have him shaved and sell the locks to a wig maker. If it had been about money, a lot of other boys would’ve had the same treatment, but John was the only one. As if getting rid of his unruly hair could make his mind lenient.

Naturally it didn’t work and when he was taken to be a servant boy in a merchant’s household, his new master and mistress found him just as bad-mannered and John mostly went to bed with an empty stomach, red buttocks and a scalp sore from rough hairpulling. He’d slept on cold floors, worn rags for clothes, walked barefoot in snow and stopped crying because it didn’t help anyway.

Then, one late summers day when John’s face was brown from the sun and his short curls wet from a long day of laundry, his master had a visitor. A man with blonde hair under his wig, who looked at John in a strange way. His master and the visitor locked themselves in the salon and later, John was called on. The visitor had inspected him, felt on his arms and legs, nothing unusual since that was how people did with slaves. The next day, John was sitting on a wagon that would take him and a lot of other things the blonde man had bought.

At first, the work was nothing strange. Sometimes the master and the mistress – a high and mighty looking lady – would look at him in a way John didn’t really like, mostly because he couldn’t figure it out. His head wasn’t shaved anymore thou and it was easier to stay clean in a rich house. John quickly learned how to behave, but it didn’t stop the other staff from taking every opportunity to scold at and punish him. The gardener spanked him with birch twigs, the cook with a large wooden spoon and the woodsman who managed the large forest on Ashe’s lands, used a firewood. It didn’t seem to matter how he behaved, ’cause there was always a reason to punish him.

One day, a couple of years later, when John unbeknownst had been rude to young miss Ashe, the punishments suddenly changed. Little miss Abigail, who was always very kind, tried to tell her parents John hadn’t been rude and therefore shouldn’t be punished, but she spoke for deaf ears. John had been whipped in front of the whole staff and late at night, he’d been called to the master bedroom. It had been the fist time he’d served his master and mistress in that way and when he cried, lord Ashe had sighed. Spare me your tears, boy. Be grateful you’re pretty enough for this task. Keep your whining and your rude thoughts to yourself and I’ll let you off easy.

No matter how disgusting and horrifying it was, serving the Ashe’s in that way soon was one of John’s main duties. The beatings stopped quite suddenly and John was very relieved because he had trouble both sitting, walking and lying down without pain. Young mistress Ashe had left home by then and suddenly, John was on a ship to another world. He’d obeyed all the way from the foundling home to the altar and his mind had resisted until the moment his husband to be offered his arm and they walked down the isle.

It seemed like a lifetime ago, the first time John Silver had ever felt a true urge to obey. To be good, pliable and obedient in order to spare himself unknown pain from an unknown master. And then as a sign of gratitude for being treated with gentleness. This time it was different. He’d wanted it, he’d asked for it and it was the most glorious relief John had ever experienced, knowing that for as long as he needed it, he could be hold steady, feel protected and flee to his husbands arms for safety, comfort and discipline.

At first, James refused to discipline him. Not only was the memory of his transgression still fresh enough to itch, but the Captain found it nothing but ridiculous that anyone would ask for a punishment freely. John, who despite the new boundaries, still felt tormented by his own mind and had daily struggles to keep his feet firmly on the ground, answered by threatening to only serve food James didn’t like until he changed his mind. After a week with peas and pork, James gave up and asked his husband to lean over and hold on to the table. Five firm, but not particularly rough swats later, John asked for five more and later that night, his husband most reluctantly had to admit it seemed to worked like magic. John was unusually calm and curled up in his arms like a happy cat.

Their marital intimacy continued, how ever slowly. They were still at the stage of simply rubbing against each other in various places in the house. John’s favourite soon came to be straddling James in the armchair by the fire, both of them dressed, and rut against him. James quickly learned that kisses were out of the question in the armchair, after an overload of emotions that left his husband in tears and in need for more boundaries. One thing at a time. Slowly, but surprisingly efficiant, the boundaries and discipline John had asked for, made the man calmer and less scared of his emotions. And as the fear slowly decreased, John Silver finally started to understand how to deal with pleasure, and discover how it felt to long for more without being shattered inside.

TBC

Chapter Text

”If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone in here is in love.”

John looked up from his new embroidery and saw Ben smiling wickedly as he darned one of his husband’s socks. John snorted.

”Yeah, you.”
”Oh, by all means, yes, but that was three years ago.”

John looked horrified and Ben laughed.

”I love my husband, John, but to be in love is really not the same thing.”
”How’s that?”
”You don’t see me go around blushing all the time, not answering questions and trying to do needlework without a thread, while smiling like a fool, right?”

John looked at his needlework, a beginners embroidery James had bought him on one of his trips and yes, he’d been stitching without a thread for a while. Grunting and mumbling, he took a new piece of thread and started over. He’d made quite a lot of ”stitches” without a thread and Ben, that bastard, had just been watching. The blonde man choked another laughter and rose.

”How about some coffee?”
”With brandy and shell breads?”
”Do I look like a savage to you? Of course we’ll have brandy and shell breads. Jesus…”

John chuckled. Ben was so particular with food and what was acceptable to serve and not. And a little treat in the afternoon was practically mandatory. Sometimes John couldn’t help but comparing the tall man with narrow waistline and visible muscles to the English housewives, ladies and cooks he’d met. Even compared to the young, more wellfed and stronger women in Ashe’s houshold, proud of their skills, Ben outmatched them all. As long as he wasn’t troubled with something – like worrying for his husband during his absence – Ben Gunn was more or less sunshine on two legs.

Indoor spouses didn’t wear swords or guns, but Ben’s belt was heavy with different knives, one more deadly than the other, and the catlike way he moved, especially in crowded or scarcely accessible places, reminded far more of a trained swordsman than a pastry baking, needleworking housewife. John glared a little at him.

”I’m not blushing.”
”If you say so, sweetheart.”
”For fucks sake, Ben!”
”Touched a nerve, did I?”
”I should punch you…”
”Even if you did, you’d still be in love, only with a bruise added to the blushing. Not even your fearsome husband is certain of winning a fist fight against me.”
”You’re a very evil man, Ben Gunn.”
”Oh, you flatter me. I’ve not killed anyone in years.”
”You’ve killed people!?”
”Uhm… Yeah, that kind of happens on the account, John. Are you forgetting I’ve been a pirate once?”
”Strangely enough, your flower embroidery and pastries make me forget about that sometimes.”
”I’ve been both sharpshooter and rigger, John. Embroideries and pastries came along later.”
”Do you miss it?”
”The account? Hell no.”
”Not even being free?”
”If free means working on one ship or another with idiots who only think of rum and cunt and not having anyone to miss that misses you, no, then I can’t say I miss it. And from what I’ve heard, a certain Captain Flint looks more displeased than ever, every time he sets sail to leave Nassau these days…”
”Shut up.”
”Oh, and not to mention how happy he looks whenever he comes back… And it’s funny, because Billy says he’s never been one to care much for items and now he’s reminding of a magpie.”
”Ben…”
”What? I only retell what my dear husband told me.”
”Speaking of your husband, you don’t miss him much while he’s at sea, right?”

It was only teasing and Ben knew that. He poured the hot water into the pot with coffee and looked at John with incredulous eyes.

”Only from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep at night.”
”You love each other…”
”Very much. I think I know where you’re going with this, John.”
”You do?”
”You’ve known that my marriage isn’t really what it looks like from the outside for a long time, I suspect. Just as I know yours isn’t. And don’t worry, it’s not visible for people who’re not really close. As long as we act like we’re supposed to in public, we can be ourselves at home.”
”Yeah, but I never said i was in love.”
”And I never said you could peak into our bed chamber.”
”I… what?”

Ben gave a sweet smile and John blushed.

”I’m glad you looked. And very grateful you didn’t tell anyone.”
”And now you want me to admit I’m in love with James?”
”You already did.”
”Really? I don’t remember me saying that.”
”Oh, you don’t have to say it, John. You already confirmed it.”
”If I was, how did I confirm it?”
”You’re blushing and constantly looking at the door, while biting your lip. And you’re still trying to needle without a thread…”

TBC

Chapter Text

The evening was calm and John lay with his head in James’ lap, trying to focus on Don Quijote. Normally he had no problems with that, but tonight his mind seemed to loose track constantly. The air coming through the bedchamber window was fresh, James’ shirt smelled from lavender and for once John reckognized the feeling inside. He felt at peace. Completely relaxed but not tired. He closed his eyes, unaware of the soft smile on his lips.

”You’re not falling asleep already?”
”Not at all.”

He felt James’ thumb brush lightly over his lower lip, the fingers entangling his hair and he shivered. His husband put the book down.

”Are you freezing, my love?”

My love. John swallowed, obliviously nibbling for James’ thumb and another small thrill moved through his body.

”No.”

He was definately not freezing and with eyes still closed, he reached up his arm to press James’ head down for a kiss. He’d come to love the taste of those kisses, the warmth and the slightly scraping feeling of the beard. The way James’ tongue swirled around his own, sending small hits of tingling pleasure down his belly. Yes, he shivered, but not out of cold.

He’d learned to reckognize the sensations, how they felt and the intensity of some of them. The knowledge made him relax more than ever before, made the previous shocks to barely more than manageable surprises. And although still so inexperienced, John was pretty sure of what he wanted now and before any lingering fear could stop him, he grasped for James’ hand and pressed it to his own chest, tugging at the buttons in his shirt to open up. When he felt a thumb brushing over his nipple, he couldn’t hold back a small moan and search for his husband’s lips once again.

James’ arms came around his back, tucking him close but not letting go of his mouth and John whimpered.

”Please, James… I don’t… don’t want to wait any longer… Have wanted this for so long now…”
”You think you can handle it, love?”

John thought about the risk of emotions come crashing down on him and he looked up at his husband, searching his eyes.

”If you take charge, I can. What… what we’ve done so far has felt all good, James. I trust you.”

The green gaze was heated yet filled with care and a tenderness that made John’s cheeks flush. James stroke his hair.

”Whenever, wherever it’s uncomfortable, painful or too much, promise me you’ll show it, because then we’ll stop whatever we’re doing, no matter how far we’ve come. You promise?”
”I promise.”
”Even if you think I want to keep going, the very moment it doesn’t feel right, tell me and we’ll stop.”
”Even if you’d be about to…?”
”Oh yes, my love. Remember: I’m not to take pleasure you don’t feel you can give me. I know how important it is to feel calm and relaxed. We have all the time and privacy we need, John. Not to mention, we’re both fucking experts on patience.”

John chuckled, feeling another wave of worry leave his body, making him eager and hot.

”That we are. And I’ll obey your orders, Captain.”

James smiled and had a teasing glimpse in his eyes. He pulled John up from his lap to lay beside him, resting with the curly head on his arm. He stroke his husband’s back slowly in circling moves and leaned close to kiss him. He started with just the brush of lips, pulling back each time John tried to deepen it until he grew impatient to the brink of frustration. When John moaned from another pullback, obliviously pushing his frame forward, James finally opened up and deepened the kiss.

During their earlier intimate moments, James had realised his husband was a very skilled kisser. He entangled his fingers in the curls, massaging the scalp with slow moves while exploring the sweet mouth, tasting from coffee and mint leaves from the garden. John’s hands grasped for James’ shirt, tugging a little and James slowly pulled it up from his trousers, just enough to let John search his way over the skin himself. His hand stroke over the chest, fingertips eliciting goose bumps and James had to force himself not to move his hips closer.

Just getting rid of their shirts seemed to take ages. John felt slow despite his eagerness, the lust that was building up inside him was out of step with his mind and he wanted to be touched but couldn’t say it, couldn’t show it and he sighed.

”What is it, John? Is it too much?”
”No, it’s… I want your…”
”My leg?”
”No, not this time. Your… your hand…”

Why was it so hard to speak? To say the actual words. James gave him another soft kiss.

”It’s alright, John. You can tell me what you need, there’s nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. I’m your husband and we’re not strangers to each other.”

He closed his eyes as he felt the now familiar hand move over his chest and belly, leaving trails of lingering shivers reaching out in his body. His fingers and toes, but mostly his loins where his cock was already hard and leaking under the trousers fabrics.

”Can I touch you, John?”
”Yes… God, yes…”

James didn’t kiss him while doing it, which was probably best, because the warm pressure of the palm cupping his still dressed cock, closing around it and the brushing from the thumb was almost too much in it’s own. It wasn’t that he’d not experienced pressure, because he had and he’d loved it, but to be touched by someone that careful and yet teasing right there was a whole different thing and it wasn’t long before John pushed against the hand, searching for friction.

”You feel good, love?”
”Yes… Can you… can you kiss me again? Want to see if I…”

If he could take it. Two kinds of stimulation at the same time. John hissed from it. By God it felt good. So good and he wrapped an arm around James’ neck to pull him closer, getting lost in the kisses while rubbing himself against the hand.

”Can you… inside…”

It was almost harder to use words than experience the feelings, but James knew what he meant and began to untie his trousers. John had never showed himself naked like this before to him. Not without the protection of bathing water or sickly exhaustion to cloud his mind and protect him from feelings of exposion.

”Relax, John. You’re doing just fine.”
”Feel so stupid…”
”No, you’re not. Look at me.”

The hand leaned up to his belly again and he opened his eyes, blushing as he faced his husband. James pressed a kiss on his forehead, then his nosetip, his cheeks and last his mouth.

”You’re not stupid, John. You’re my beautiful, intelligent and brave husband who also happens to have an impressive cock.”
”What?!”

It was a mix between a squeak and a cough and it sounded so ridiculous, John couldn’t help but laugh and cover his blushing cheeks. James laughed too and buried his nose in the thick mass of curls on his head.

”I feel quite honored to get to know it, husband, if I may proceed.”
”Heavens, I feel awkward… Yes, you may fucking proceed, Captain!”

The few experiences he’d had of his own touch, didn’t compare to the soft, skilled hand wrapping around his hardened lenght. Slow, tender strokes shifting with a gentle rub on his bellend and when James pressed just a little harder at the leaking head, John moaned loud and fought to make his hips hold still.

”Good God, John… You’re so beautiful like this... So beautiful when you’re taking your pleasure.”
”Be-beautiful…?!”

James kissed him again, shallow not to risk an overload of emotions.

”You feel so good to touch, John. You’re such a beautiful man. Do you like what I’m doing? Is it too much?”
”No, it’s not… It feels good… really good, James… Oh, fuck!”

James had leaned to nibble his ear, which made John shoot up his hips again, fucking into James’ hand. It was fucking glorious and his urges took over so naturally, all he could think of was the pleasure, the building feeling in his body and how fucking good James’ hand felt around his cock. He whimpered when he felt the brush of James’ thumb over his bellend again.

”Are you close, love?”
”I… I think so…”
”You want to try something else to finish?”
”What…?”

His hips were undulating under the hand and he didn’t care for anything but the pleasure, but James let go of his cock and he pushed up in empty air with a displeased moan. James went back to kiss him, stroking his hair and rubbing his shoulders to give him a respite from the unusual emotions building up inside his body.

”What… what is it you want to do, James?”
”It’s only a suggestion, love, so don’t panic. If you don’t want to, we wont do it, remember?”
”Yeah… I… I remember. Now tell me.”
”I’d like to take you in my mouth.”
What?!

John was so shocked he barely knew where to start and he just starred at his husband, who looked more than a little surprised by the outburst.

”John, if you don’t want me to, I wont do it.”
”But… why would you do it?”
”Because I want to give you pleasure, of course. Am I missing something here, John?”
”That’s not for you, is it? I mean, you’re outdoor spouse, you shouldn’t have to… You couldn’t possibly want to…?”
”Pleasure my submissive indoor husband with my mouth?”

James smiled friendly and stroke John’s hair.

”I think there’s still a little too much of England left inside your head, John. This is Nassau where our union is legitimate and respected. The outdoor and indoor spouse rules have nothing to do with how to act in bed. We decide together how to give and take pleasure from this and if I didn’t enjoy cock, why would I marry a man?”

John swallowed. The way James put it made sense, but still…

”Can… can I ask something?”
”Of course. Anything.”
”Have you done that before? I don’t mean to snoop, but...”

He bit his lip and James smiled again.

”Darling, I’ve been both dominant and submissive in bed with a man and I’ve taken great pleasure in it. I’m not ashamed of my urges and why deny myself or you pleasure because of some ridiculous ideas of what we can and can’t do in bed, far from other peoples eyes? I know that being the one doing the sucking, is considered lower in the so called civilised world, but we’re in Nassau, dear husband, and the world’s rules on these things doesn’t apply here.”

John laughed.

”No shit… I should’ve stopped being surprised a long time ago, I guess.”
”You can still surprise me, John, so don’t think you’re alone in this.”

James let his fingers stroke loosely over his hipbone and John decided to get rid of England.

”Show me how it’s done in Nassau, then.”
”Are you sure?”
”Guess I’m not sure until I know how it…”

He bit his lip and closed his eyes as James moved to sit between his legs, placing John’s knees on his own thighs. Hands caressed John’s thighs and hips for a while, until his back relaxed more against the mattress. John bit back a moan as he felt James’ beard scraping softly over his belly, his mouth placing wet kisses over the hipbones. When James grabbed his cock by the base and licked a slow stripe from the root all the way up to the head, John shouted, his cock already leaking more than ever before and he cursed when James pulled back.

”Dammit, James! Don’t fucking stop now!”

The hot, velvet soft mouth took his length slowly, swallowing it whole and when James began to move, John lost it. He moaned, tried to muffle his sound by pressing the bend of his arm to his mouth while his hips moved erratically, loosing sense of rythm as he, almost without realising it, fucked his husband’s mouth, chasing pleasure in an anything but submissive way.

Being as inexeperienced as he was, it didn’t take long before John was on the edge and he pulled out, afraid to come in Jame’s mouth, but his husband leaned down again, kissing around the base of John’s cock.

”Are you close?”
”Yes… Fuck, yes…”
”You want to come in my mouth?”

John was so surprised he couldn’t even make a sound and James buried his nose in the dark, soft hair between John’s legs.

”There’s no shame in any of this, John. No shame and I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t want to. Can I?”

John could only nod, being too far from anything he’d experienced to do anything but hang on to the experienced man, and James leaned down again, bobbing his head faster, taking the whole lenght and John screamed as he reached climax, the sensation shooting through his body into that incredible, glorious mouth and the beard scraping against his pulled up balls as he shot streams after stream of white relief, lost in pleasure.

TBC

Chapter Text

Whatever he’d hoped for, this was far above any expectations and wishes. James watched his spent, exhausted husband, who’d curled up like a cat under the sheet and slept soundly. After he’d come down from the high, James had given him some space to catch breath and, of course, cry. James could tell the difference from his husband’s tears of fear and emotional overload pretty well by now and these had definately been caused by the latter. James hadn’t tried to make it stop, because considering how new all this was to John and all the intense emotions he’d been put through for the last hours, James had actually expected him to cry. In fact, it would have been worrying if he hadn’t, since some of the emotions and most of all the intensity of them had been completely new to him.

James pulled the cover up a little further over the sleeping man. John was sweaty and the bed chamber smelled from body fluids, but James didn’t want to disturb him by drying him off. He needed to stay warm and calm now, rest from all feelings and impressions. Had to feel safe.

John’s curls had stuck on his forehead and James carefully removed the tangles from the face. He wondered how much John trusted him when he said how beautiful he was. His husband wasn’t unaware of that people could desire him, but only on a shallow level. To feel beautiful in the eyes of a loving husband was entirely something else. The kind of beauty that didn’t wither with years and age, only shifting form. James put another blanket over him, tucking him in before he left the bed chamber. He’d come back to sleep later, but it was still early and he needed some air.

He poured himself a drink and went to the backporch, looking out over the garden. It had been more than ten years since last time he’d made love to a man. He’d desired many, but compared to Thomas they’d all fallen short. And for a long time he’d been almost sure of that his marriage with John Silver would be a very platonic one. James sighed. The man would’ve submitted himself to any treatment expecting nothing but pain, when he really only deserved to be loved and cared for. James could never show impatience with this, never ever expect something his husband couldn’t give. If John woke up and felt disgust for what they’d done, or simply just overwhelmed, James had to make one thing very clear: John would never have to submit himself to any intimacy he didn’t wish for. Ever.

He really didn’t know very much about his husband’s earlier life. Did he remember anything from his mother or father? Did he have any siblings? John had barely touched the subject and since coming to Nassau, there’d been so many new things for the man to take in. And James had never been open about his past himself. What was clear about John, was that he had a strangely combined personality of innocence and cynism. He’d been completely unaware of some aspects of life no man in his age who hadn’t lived on a desert island his whole life shouldn’t know about. He’d probably survived this far without loosing his mind, because of his ability to adjust and his lack of limits for what he could accept.

”James?”

He turned around and his heart almost exploded from the sight. Barefoot with only a sheet draped over him and the curls in a complete mess over the shoulders, stood his husband.

”John, dearest, I thought you were asleep.”
”You were gone…”
”Oh, I just went to get some air. Come here, darling.”

John really reminded of a little poodle now and he nuzzled James’ neck.

”Don’t suppose we have any rum?”
”Of course. I’ll bring us some.”

He went inside, poured two cups of rum, fetched his old linen coat and grabbed the book laying on the table in the salon before returning to the backporch. Just seeing John sitting there, naked and vulnerable under the sheet was enough to make James weak inside. He handed over one the cups and sat down in the big chair. John immediately curled up on his lap and James draped the coat around him. A small hum and the way his husband snuggled into him, searching the closeness, assured James that apart from overwhelming emotions, John felt completely comfortable in his arms.

TBC

Chapter Text

”I thought it wasn’t supposed to come in for another two days.”
”That’s what Mr. Scott said, but DeGroot just came back and said it had arrived earlier.”

The expecting cargo with new spices had originally been delayed due to bad weather and when finding out it had arrived two days earlier made Ben and John abandon some of their planned work for an early trip to the market. They where out of muskot and chillipepper, John needed olive oil and Ben had have his eyes on a new comb since his own was broken, thanks to his husband.

”That’s what happens when you let Billy comb you. If he lets his hair grew out, he’d break every comb in Nassau in a month.”
”Then why did you let him comb you?”
”We were both drunk and it seemed like a good idea at the time. It really wasn’t.”

John laughed and shook his head. He smiled much more than usual the last days, blushing and daydreaming. He happened to burn the porridge one morning because his mind had been elsewhere, meaning the bed chamber and the lovely cradle of James’ arms. His husband had forgiven him as soon as he pouted his lips a little and looked fragile. Puppy eyes were very effective sometimes.

”It suits you.”
”Huh? What?”

John came back to reality and Ben’s teasing smile.

”What suits me?”
”Being in love.”
”Oh, shut up.”

Ben chuckled.

”I’m just teasing you, John. But you do look happy these days.”
”Stop making me bloody blush!”
”Pretty as a rose in December…”
”What?”
”That’s what Billy said when he came to take you and James home.”

John blushed.

Low, how a rose e’er blooming… Funny… a Christmas song on a wedding.”
”A Christmas what?”
”At our wedding, the choir sang that old hymn for some reason. Was close to Christmas, of course, but still. Thought one didn’t sing such songs outside the church, but what do I know.”
”Maybe they thought it suited you.”
”Sure, I was pale as a sheet and cried. Not much of rose. But the bouqet was white…”
”White roses?”
”Uh-huh.”
”Goes well with your hair.”
”James gave me white roses on our wedding day.”
”Billy gives me rain lilies every year.”
”You had them in your bouqet?”

Ben shook his head.

”Didn’t have any bouqet and if I’d had I doubt I’d remember it. Cried throughout the whole ceremony and I’m not actually sure if I ever said ’I do’. Not that it mattered. Billy gave me the rain lilies next morning, that sweet man.”

John smiled.

”Imagine I actually wanted to kill myself when I was on the ship to Tortuga…”
”Considering how unprepared you were for this, I don’t blame you. But if I’m correct, you don’t miss England.”
”If I’d be brought back there, I would kill myself.”

Ben patted his back.

”I don’t think your husband has any wish to return to England again, so I wouldn’t worry about that. After all, we’re all crooks in Nassau. Why would any of us walk freely to our death sentence?”
”James and Billy are privateers, not pirates.”

The blonde man laughed.

”You think that would make any difference to England? And even if it did, men get hanged for fucking other men.”
”Are you never worried? When Billy’s away.”
”Honestly?”

Ben’s face had turned serious again. They were only some feet away from the town gates and you could sense the smell from newly caught fish and slaughtered meat from the butcher. The meak indoor spouse stroke a strain of golden hair away from his face.

”I’m a good indoor husband, John. I know my reputation is the one of an endless working, tireless and lightsome spouse who brings fucking glory to my husband and never troubles him with burdens or bad temper. I don’t complain, I don’t whine and I don’t let anyone, well apart from Billy and now you, know that the moment I know another day without him is finally over, my chores are done and I don’t expect any visitors, I soak my pillow until I fall asleep from pure fucking exhaustion.”

John swallowed.

”I heard you once…”
”And I bet you though I was weeping because Billy made me unhappy?”
”Something like that.”

Ben stopped. He peered at the market, covering his eyes with his hand from the sharp sun.

”When I’d been here for three months or so, Billy and I were intived to dinner at Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham. I was still quite scared back then and I remember I was so worried I would disgrace Billy in any way. When we’d had dessert, Anne Bonny cleared the table and Billy left to take a piss or something and left me alone with Jack. He saw how uncomfortable I was and poured me a drink. Then he said: ’When things seems too hard or just fucked up, remember we all have our roles to play, Ben Gunn.’ I didn’t understand what he meant, of course, and Billy came back inside only a moment later so I didn’t dare to ask. But Jack winked at me and said: ’Think about what I said, Ben. All of us.’ Billy looked confused, of course, but he never asked me about it.”
”And you play your role to perfection… As does Billy.”
”Listen to me, John. I know you’d never betray me, Billy or anyone you care for. Just because being alive in Nassau is far better than being hanged in London, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.”
”What do you mean?”
”Hide those blushing cheeks, my friend, and play your role. You’re a natural when it comes to hide your thoughts, John Silver. Just don’t forget that hiding your feelings is just as important.”

They were about to enter the market now and people who recognised the indoor husbands of Captain Flint and Billy Bones, greeted them with curious smiles and friendly words as John and Ben moved around the market stalls and did their purchases. And the blushing had faded from John’s cheeks, the sweetness hidden away so well, not even Ben Gunn could’ve done it better.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Ben Gunn…”
”Captain Vane. Captain Rackham. Good morning.”

The two men outside the tavern made John more than a little nervous. They were done with their arrends and were about to head back home when they were stopped and even if the tall and scrawny Jack Rackham didn’t look very fearsome, Charles Vane looked like he could crush John with a single punch. Rackham, however, smiled and reached out his hand.

”I’m afraid we haven’t been properly introduced to each other, Mr. Silver. You are Mr. Silver, right? Captain Flint’s husband.”
”I am, sir.”

He took the hand and hoped his smile was less sheepish than it felt. Rackham’s smile got wider and he had a sardonic glimpse in his eyes, as if he could read John like an open book.

”Well, I guess it’s a little late to welcome you to Nassau, but unfortunately I’ve not been out in public very much the last year, so I’ve only heard about Captain Flint’s curlyheaded Englishman from others.”
”Only good things, I hope.”

John was more nervous than he wanted to admit, especially since the man was married to Anne Bonny and must know about his more or less successful and always straining swordfighting lessons.

”Well, old DeGroot has made me quite curious of that garden of yours, Mr. Silver, and my own dear wife has only good things to say about you.”

Charles Vane rose his eyebrows.

”Anne knows him? How?”
”Oh, you know, even Anne is in need of a little indoor chat every now and then, Chaz.”

Rackham actually winked at John. The man definately knew. Anne Bonny was as much in need of a chat as Charles Vane or Billy needed more muscles. Ben, that blessed man, saved the situation.

”I’m glad to see you’re looking better, Captain Rackham.”
”Thank you, Mr. Gunn. Well, I must admit it’s not half bad not having to wrap myself in wollen shawls and freeze like a dog out on open sea all the time. Indoor life can be quite nice.”

Charles Vane laughed.

”You’re a fucking horrible indoor worker, Jack, and Anne’s even worse.”
”But she’s a damn good captain.”
”And better than you.”
”Better than me, Chaz, but I have more style.”
”Style? Even Mr. Silver here has more style than you. Right, Mr. Gunn?”
”Are you two harrassing our husbands?”

All four men turned around and saw Billy Bones and Captain Flint grinning at them in the middle of the street. Ben and John immediately went to greet them with lowered eyes and curtious bows, as the law and custome prescribed. Rackham scratched his chin.

”Well, good day, gentlemen. Chaz was just praising my indoor skills and my dear wife’s cooking, and I was thinking about why on Earth you haven’t introduced me to your husband yet, James.”
”Maybe I wanted to keep him away from bad influence, Jack.”
”Then why did you marry him?”
”Touché.”

Billy smiled wickedly.

”What are you two doing here anyway? I thought you and Anne headed out yesterday, Chaz.”

Charles made a displeased sound.

”Yeah, that was the plan, but thanks to the law you all seem so fond of, the Ranger is currently without a sailingmaster.”
”How so?”
”Holmes’ wife happened to be rude to the governor in public.”
”Oh, fuck…”

The other three men looked horrified and John wanted to ask, but didn’t know how. Charles nodded slowly.

”Yeah, it wasn’t her fault to begin with. The bastard pushed her, by accident of course, so she dropped a whole weeks worth of eggs. Naturally, she was pretty pissed and said some things she should’ve kept to herself. Not that I blame her, but she’s already been whipped in public once for rudeness.”

Billy bit his lip.

”So I guess it’s the razor now, then?”

Vane nodded.

”And since we can’t head out before it’s done, we might as well not leave them to face the hyenas all alone.”
”Chaz…”

Rackham threw a conceared look at the man and then at the street, but no one outside the conversation was close to hear. Then the bell sounded and Vane started walking towards the center of the square. Rackham looked at them.

”I guess it’s good day here, gentlemen.”
”Hell no.”

Billy’s voice was stern as steel.

”Esther may be Holmes’ spouse and Holmes is not a part of our crew, but this could happen to any of us and we’re not leaving them alone in this. There ought to be some people in the crowd who’s not fucking cheering. Come with me, husband.”

Ben followed him and John looked at James. The man looked like he tried to decide wheather he wanted to spare John from the sight or not, but by doing that he’d show a concearn that wouldn’t fit with his role. He made a nod at the square.

”We’re going, husband.”

John was no stranger to public punishments and humiliation. He’d seen his share of both hangings and floggings, like every other person living in a big town with unforgiving laws. He’d seen crying widows, blood from cut off limbs squirting on the street and men loosing the control of their bowels, shitting themselves in the very moment of death as the noose was tightened around their neck and their legs kicking beneth them in an idle attempt to feel ground instead of empty air. But as soon as he saw the woman and her husband walking up to the podium where the magistrat and two guards were standing next to a small table with a whip, a scissor, razors, a bowl of water and soap, John wanted to run.

The governor, clearly an Englishman, spoke about the crime to the crowd, but John didn’t hear a word. He just starred at the poor woman and her husband and he felt a firm hand on his shoulder. His husband leaned down and whispered, so quiet even John could barely hear it:

”I’d burn this island to the ground before I let this happen to you, no matter what you’d done.”

The words, but most of all the steady grip on his shoulder, made John pull himself together and watch the gruesome scene before him. The lashing was bad enough and even thou Esther tried her best not to cry, thirty lashes with a belt while trying to cover her breasts and hearing the scorn form the crowd was an impossible task. After ten lashes she sobbed and by fifteen she cried. The last ten she screamed like a hurt animal and Holmes’ face was white from anguish.

When the lashes stopped, the bleeding woman was given no respite. One of the guards handed over the scissor to Holmes and John couldn’t help but shutting his eyes. James leaned down to his ear again:

”Look at them, John.”
”I can’t…”
”It could’ve been us up there, could’ve been Billy and Ben. Look at them, husband. They need other gazes than the ones filled with spite and malice.”

And John looked. He watched the beautiful woman being deprived of her waist-lenght hair to the sound of a cheering crowd and the stonecold face of her husband, who looked like he was about to kill the next person within reach of his hands.

But there were those who didn’t cheer. Men and woman who looked at the scene with compassion and clearly restrained hate. Not to the disobedient indoor spouse or her husband, but to the men on the podium who put the couple through this.

”For fucks sake, Rogers!  Isn’t it fucking enough now?”

Vane’s voice cut hard and clear through the crowd when one of the guards pointed at a spot on the poor woman’s head that apparently had too much hair left. The guard forced the woman’s hand away from her frame and the sounds from the crowd got significantly less cheerful and more angry and displeased. Even the mob had limits.

”At least let her cover herself now! Have you no deceny, governor?”

James’ voice was no less sharp than Vane’s and when Rogers realised the crowd was about to speak more loudly about it, he made a sign to the guard who took the blade from Holmes and let the man cover his wife’s nudity with his coat. Billy cleared his throat.

”I’ve lost my appetite, husband.”
”I think we all have…”

No one seemed to notice that Ben didn’t use Billy’s title. They were all too disgusted with the scene in front of them and John watched his husband exchange gazes with Billy, Vane and Rackham. Gazes he couldn’t quite read and honestly wasn’t sure he wanted to. Billy whispered something to Ben, who nodded and looked at James.

”I’m about to go back home, Captain. Will John stay here with you or can he make me company back?”

John wanted nothing more than leaving the town and he looked at his husband with almost begging eyes. James nodded.

”Of course. I’ll see you at supper, husband.”
”Thank you, husband.”

John and Ben nodded curtiously at their husband’s friends and collegues and left the market. As soon as they were out of sight, John kneeled by the sideroad and threw up. Ben just hold a hand on his shoulder, waiting for him to get control of his stomach and then they kept walking without a word.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Do you need help to calm down again, dear?”
”Please…”

He’d tried to keep occupied, to rest, walk in the garden, make a more complex three-course meal and have a large drink. Nothing helped and as he cleaned up after supper, he felt completely exhausted and in the same time incapable of relaxing. His husband took the cup from him and kissed his neck.

”Lean forward, darling.”

It was so strange that it helped. It didn’t hurt very much and didn’t last for long, but it made him calm down enough to at least be free of some thoughts. When it was done, James pulled him to his arms.

”I’m sorry you had to see that today.”
”Why is it like that? The law?”
”You took it hard?”
”Yeah… I mean, I’ve seen hangings and floggings and shit but that was… I don’t know…”
”It’s the humiliation, John. To force someone to inflict pain and humiliation on his or her own spouse, for anyone to see.”
”She was a beautiful woman.”
”And she still is. But maybe you understand even better now important it is that you never cross me in public. I’d have to choose between marring your beauty and reputation or overthrowing the governor and start a war against England. And at the moment I don’t have enough men to build an army, little darling. How are you feeling now?”
”Better, I think. You’re protecting me, aren’t you?”
”Until my last breath, John. Remember this: no one’s touching your curls unless they want to be seriously injured. Anyone who’s cutting a lock from your head, will find themselves missing parts that wont grow out again. Come now, I’ll read to you.”

Laying nestled in his husband’s arms in the salon while being read to, had quickly become John’s favourite moment of the day. When the chores were done, the door locked and James wouldn’t have to leave him until morning. When John was calm enough not to have his mind wander off.

James could touch him almost without any crouching from his side now and John had come to long for his husband’s touch and body in a way he’d never thought to be possible. The warmth and strenght, the hands that caressed him in all the different ways he needed. The arms cradling him, made him feel safe and cared for. A new but very addictive feeling once he’d given in to it. In his husband’s eyes he felt beautiful and… He didn’t dare to take the word in his mouth, barely even in his thoughts, but the way James looked at him, the way he touched him and all the big and small things he did only to make him happy, was far beyond even greater gentleness. The words about starting a war against England rather than seeing John’s precious curls being shaved in public was of course exaggerated, but the emphasis wasn’t on the eventual revenge James would or could actually have on his behalf, but on the fact that John was dear to him. That he didn’t want to see him hurt and humiliated.

After only a chapter, John began to tug a little at James’ shirt, nuzzling his neck. He loved being read to, but the quite recent discovery of how pleasant the marital duty could be, had become a pretty loud rival in the battle for attention. And James encouraged it, that lewd ginger. Not that John complained, but seriously, it was almost ridiculous how quickly James’ attention could be turned in that direction.

John’s fear for the act hadn’t only decreased. For a little time now, he’d felt more curiosity and anticipation for it, than fear and confusion. Ben had no reason to lie, and certainly not James. They’d both said, if only very briefly, that the act could be a nice experience even for the receiver. Slowness, patience and oil were the main three things not to forget and if you ”knew your things”, as Ben put it, the experience had the potential of being ”very, very pleasant”.

And so, John’s mind started to drift away from the book James was reading from, to the lovely freckles on his skin, the scraping of his beard against John’s cheek and the way his free hand caressed John’s chest in slow movements. The way his hand, seemingly very innocent, had a not so innocent effect on John’s blood, who rushed to his cock, didn’t escape James’ notice and he put the book down and nibbled his husband’s ear.

”Enough reading for tonight, darling?”

John only moaned in response, since James had turned to nibble his earlobe softly. Apparently, he had a very sensitive spot there and he made an almost frustrated sound when James stopped nibbling to bury the nose in his curls instead.

”You want to take to bed, John?”
”Yes… I’d like that, husband. How about you?”
”It sounds very interesting, my love.”

John smiled.

”You’re the one with all experience here, husband.”
”Every man is different, John, and I happen to be very fond of experiencing these things with you. I’d go so far to say it’s addictive…”
”Well, maybe we… If it’s alright with you, of course…”
”Go on, dear.”

John felt himself blush, but he’d thought about this enough now.

”Uhm… maybe we could, you know… do it properly?”

James stroke his shoulders slowly.

”Are you sure, John?”
”Well… I don’t know, really. How do you know when you’re sure?”
”You know I don’t want to use any liqor to make you relaxed in that situation, right? I need us both to be present and clearheaded.”
”I’ve only had one cup of wine and a small amount of scotch today.”
”Good. And we’ll stop as soon as you feel uncomfortable.”

John rolled his eyes.

”Christ, James! You make it sound about as fun as climbing the rigging. Is it a working task, or something one’s supposed to do for fun?”

His husband laughed and shook his head before leaning down to kiss him deeply.

”Believe me, my blunt little poodle. It can be great fun.”
”Then show me.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”James, you sappy… Put me down!”
”Oh, I intend to, little poodle. But I can’t imagine why you want to do this on the floor when we have a bed?”
”James, I… Oh, for fucks sake…”

Being carried bridal style into their bed chamber was something James knew his husband would protest against, but ridiculousness was of need now. John was still partly afraid and tense, nervous and unsure of what he would experience. There was a clear risk of overwhelming coming up and James thought prevention would be far, far better than cure. A little sappy foolishness could ease the way and the defiant but glittering look John gave him while being put down on their bed confirmed it was a good idea. John kicked his shoes off and nudged James’ shoulder lightly with his foot.

”Apparently, my husband’s a bloody romantic.”
”Poodles seem to have that effect on me.”

James lay down beside him and reached out his arm.

”Come here, darling.”

A tangled mop of curls landed on his shoulder and James turned to the side, facing his husband and threw an arm around him, pulling him close. The blue eyes were in the same time wanting and insecure, teasing and impossibly innocent. The perfect image of his husband, James thought as he entangled his hands in the curls, carressing the scalp with his fingertips in circling moves. The slight neck was tense and James moved down to massage it. John made a pleased sound.

”You like that?”
”Mhm… It’s… very nice, but is it… uhm… necessairy?”

James pressed a soft kiss on his forehead and leaned down.

”Look at me, John.”

Still so insecure. James kept working his fingers over the neck and kissed him slowly.

”Feeling good is necessairy. For you to feel good with me is the whole point. To feel good, you need to be relaxed. There’s no rush, my love. If you get overwhelmed or uncomfortable or just need to pull back a little to collect your thoughts and calm down, then that’s what you’re gonna do. If you feel too tense it can cause you pain and the very second anything of this, no matter what you think or have heard you have to endure, just tell me. Whenever you want to stop, for any reason, you let me know and we’ll stop. Alright?”
”Uh-huh.”
”Would you like some massage, dear? That’s something we’ve done before and I know you like it.”
”I take great pleasure in it, husband.”
”Then may I proceed, Mr. Silver?”
”You may, Captain Flint.”

Ridiculousness. Thank God for that, James thought as he slowly undressed his husband. He kissed the stomach, buried his nosetip in the bellybutton and  began to untie the lacings on John’s trousers, now tight around the bulge and with the fabric already wet from the leaking cock. John lifted his hips as James pulled them off and then he tugged at Jame’s shirt sleeve.

”You’re not gonna let me lay here all naked while you’re still dressed, I hope?”
”Not on your life, poodle.”

He took his shirt off but when he got to the lacings on his trousers, John removed his hand.

”Let me?”

John felt himself blush. He’d never actually touched James before. Not there, and though John was no stranger to please men, this felt very different. He cupped the clothed cock, just holding his palm around it and watched James close his eyes while pressing up against his palm. It was a whole different thing, seeing his husband move under his touch like this and John quickly began to untie the lacings and a moment later, he watched his husband completely naked for the first time.

He was beautiful. John let his eyes wander over the muscled belly and thighs, the slender hips and waiste and the slightly darker curls between the legs where a rather large cock now had sprung free and John closed his hand around it. James hissed.

”Fuck, John…”

He moved to lay down on the side and John followed, facing him while moving his hand loosely, pace slow and teasing, watching his husband’s reaction to his touch. James bit his lip, eyes closed and searched for his mouth. The soft, sliding grip around his cock, the slow kisses John leaned in to so natural made him almost crazy with need. Just knowing there was an actual chance to have him completely…  He moved John’s hand.

”Did I do it wrong?”
”Oh no, quite the opposite, love. Keep doing that and I’ll be on the edge far to quick. I would like to try something else.”
”What?”
”Lay down on your stomach.”

John hesitated and James pressed a kiss on his hair, caressing his shoulders again.

”I promised you a massage, didn’t I?”
”Oh… oh, yes, you did.”

John turned around and out his arms over his head. Laying like this, completely naked in this very vulnerable position would’ve been impossible without crying a year ago, six months, even three months ago… But now he didn’t feel any fear. Tension, but not gut-wrenching terror. His husband’s tender hands moved over his neck and shoulder, undoing knots and tension with a little help of ointment and oil and it wasn’t long before John’s hips pressed down to the mattress, to get some ease for his aching cock. James nuzzled his neck.

”Feeling more relaxed, love?”
”Very much…”
”Good. I have a question…”
”Yes?”
”Before I ask it, I want you to know that even if it’s not something people would speak very openly of even here, it’s not uncommon between men and it can be very pleasant.”
”Now I’m curious. Tell me, husband.”
”I’d like to pleasure you with my tongue.”
”You mean…?”
”You’ve heard of it?”

John blushed and nodded. Ben had told him about the practice and John had had a hard time to even look at Billy’s mouth for a while after that, knowing that it had been there on Ben. And now James wanted to… He swallowed.

”Wouldn’t it be… disgusting for you?”
”God no, John! If I didn’t want to, if I’d feel disgusted by the thought, I’d never suggest it.”
”Oh… of course not but… isn’t it a bit… dirty?”

James laughed a little.

”It’s very dirty, in the very right way.”
”You don’t want me to wash myself?”
”Only if you’d feel more comfortable if you did.”

John swallowed and nodded.

”I would.”
”Then do it. I’ll wait.”

James knew it wasn’t really needed, but perhaps his husband needed a moment to breathe on his own again, hidden form his gaze behind the screen. When John came back, he looked like he didn’t really know what to do and James reached out his hand.

”Come, darling.”

He wasn’t really tense now, but more nervous and James made him lay down on his stomach, high up in bed.

”How do you want me to be?”
”Just spread your legs.”

James swallowed. The sight of John spreading himself up to him, the firm ass laying all exposed before him forced him to grab his cock by the base. He leaned forward and began to kiss John’s neck again, moving lower until he’d reached the tailbone. John had stopped breathing a little.

”Are you alright? You want me to continue?”
”Uhm… yes, I… I think so…”

He grabbed the cheeks gently, exposing the puckered skin around the hole and leaned down. The next moment, a wailing moan went through the room.

”What the fuck, James?!”
”You don’t like…”
”Don’t stop!”

He’d not felt anything like it before. The hot, wet softness lapping his most intimate part like it was a dainty. Keeping silent under such a touch was impossible, the pleasure was too shocking and he fell apart under it, cursing and moaning like a wanton whore, but he’d never felt less like one than now. His cock was leaking and he didn’t dare to touch it from fear of coming too soon under the caressing tongue that pressed into him, making him crazy with need.

”James, please… I need, need you to…”

He had no more words at the moment, but his husband knew. After a moment of respite, he felt a slicked finger slide between his buttocks, not pressing inside, but only touching the sensitive skin around his hole. Then, impossibly slow, James pressed his fingertip inside and John pressed back against it, encouraging him.

”Good God, John… You taste so good, feel so good… You like it?”
”Yes… God, yes…”

James slid his finger in and out for long moments, then he add another, slowly opening him up with tender, skilled moves until John practically fucked himself on his fingers, shooting his hips against them faster and harder, panting heavily. It was nothing but beautiful, seeing the man fuck back wildly on now three fingers, almost whining from the up until now unknown pleasure. The man opened up so beautifully to his touch, the pretty, pink hole clenched and released around him as he added a forth finger, all but the thumb to pressed into the slick, tight heat. John didn’t do this to please him, or because it was expected of him in his role as an indoor spouse. The man wanted it, needed it and it was the prettiest thing James had ever seen.

John felt the fingers withdrawn and he whined involuntarily from the loss. He felt no pain, no shame or fear, only pleasure and he wanted more, even if his mind felt lost and oversensitive. James turned him on to the side, made him lay with his head on a freckled arm and slowly caressed his chest and stomach.

”How do you feel, my love?”
”Good. So good, James…”
”You want me to stay with only fingers for now or…”
”No! God, no! I’m not fucking waiting any longer now.”

His husband kissed his curls and reached for the bottle. He slicked his cock generously, lifted John’s leg to rest on his own thigh and then he placed his cock in the crack between John’s thighs, just rubbing it over his hole while stroking his cock loosely. Then, very slowly, he started to push in.

It was a feeling John couldn’t describe. It didn’t really hurt, not in the way he’d expected, but it was slightly uncomfortable at first and when James was halfway in, John froze. James stopped immediately.

”Are you in pain, John?”
”Yes, and no. Fuck, I don’t… I can’t relax.”
”Just breathe, John. I’m not moving now. If I pull out now, it will be painful since you’re so tense, so we must remain like this until you relax a little bit. Then I’ll pull out.”
”Alright… I trust you.”

The man was so tight around him, it almost hurt. James started to stroke John’s chest and belly. Slow, tender caressess without moving his hips. He nibbled his ear, whispered soft words and nuzzled his neck and hair. Words about how much he loved him.

Yes, he loved his husband and the man had never heard him say it. He’d told him he cared, that he was proud of him, that he wanted to see him happy, to feel pleasure, but he’d never said the simple truth. That James Flint had come to love his skittish, intelligent, strong and adorable husband and maybe it was the wrong moment, maybe it was the right, James didn’t know and didn’t care. All he wanted was for his husband to open up to him in every way, be a part of him and never be afraid anymore. And maybe it wasn’t the words that was the key, but James could feel John relax around him, letting him slide in a bit further, then a bit more until finally, James hips were flush against his ass.

The pleasure built up slowly, as the last tension and fear faded away. The thickness filling him up completely, the slow moves eliciting shiverings in the tightened skin that clenched around it and it felt incredible. Every stroke released more tension, brought more pleasure and John was a mess from it. When James slid further in, changing the angle slightly and found a particularly sweet spot, John shouted, suddenly hearing himself begging for more, just there, right there on that spot and soon he was undulating from the feeling, fucking back on James’ cock to get more, more, more of that sweetness, whatever it was.

When James increased the pace, John was already on the edge and James started to stroke his cock, stimulating him from both ways until he was practically sobbing from it. It felt so good, so gloriously fucking good and when his release came, he cried out, panted and moaned for a long moment until he felt James push hard and fill him up.

TBC

Chapter Text

”You’re seeing it, James…?”
”Seeing what?”
”I’m not overwhelmed…”

James smiled and a moment later, his husband was in a flood of tears. No, not overwhelmed at all. When he’d pulled out from him, John had been a mess, literally and figuratively. Piece by piece, limb by limb, the man had fallen apart in his seams only to seem more whole than ever. He’d come undone, yielded to pleasure and given in return. And now he cried in James’ arms again.

He hold the man just close enough not to leave him alone with the feelings, but still loose to give him space. It had taken far over a year for John to feel safe and whole enough to give in. To gain a sense of self-value, security and coming to terms with his own nature. But more than that, to feel trust. James was very aware of that he once had almost destroyed what trust had been built up. Billy’s words about the forgiveness he really didn’t deserve, that John had given him anyway but not without first expressing his anger, humiliation and disappointment had been ringing in his ears ever since that day.

As John’s tears of emotional exhaustion slowly began to decrease and turn into small, breathy sobs, James pressed a light kiss on his forehead.

”I’m gonna get a cloth and something to drink, darling. I’ll be right back.”

John just nodded. The emotions he’d experienced were still boiling inside him, he felt strangely empty and light, despite the heaviness in his muscles. He’d never been so relieved, never felt so utterly relaxed and safe before and the tears came back again, not out of overwhelming, but of an emotional and bodily relief he didn’t knew existed and if he’d known, he’d never thought it could be for him. To feel so safe while being exposed to all these new emotions, as if his feelings weren’t only acknowledged or accepted, but important. The weight of suddenly realising how a man’s touch could feel when it didn’t only search it’s own pleasure, but also – no primarly – John’s, was too much to bare and he cried, allowed himself to cry because right now that was all he could do.

James came back, put two cups and a bottle on the dresser and then sat down beside him and helped him to sit up. John leaned his head on his shoulder as James gently washed the sweat from his back with a soothing, wet cloth before rubbing him dry with a towel. The bedsheet was wet and stained and James put a clean sheet behind John and helped him to lie down again, before continuing to wash and dry his exhausted, heavy limbs.

When he was done, James took another clean sheet and a blanket, tucked John in and gave him one of the cups. Then he took the other, went to sit behind John, legs spread so John could lean back against his chest. He wrapped his arms around him, pulled the cover over them and kissed John’s curls.

”Drink, sweetheart. You’ve earned it.”

John took a large sip and made something between a sigh and a laughter.

”That I have.”

James smiled against his neck and kissed the still overly sensitive skin. John sighed.

”That was… I don’t know…”
”Unexpected?”
”You could say that, yeah…”
”Interesting?”
Very.

He laughed. An exhausted, breathy laughter and swallowed the rest of his drink in one go.

”It was just… bloody amazing, James. And you have to excuse me in advance, because I’m not entirely sure how I’ll handle all this. I might get a bit crazy, you know, but I loved every second of it…”
”So did I, John. And I understand you need time to pull yourself together. I’ve counted on it.”

John snuggled into his chest with a pleased sigh and then he laughed again, already half asleep. James smiled.

”What’s so funny, poodle?”
”You realise how unruly I’ll be when I’ve had some sleep, right?”

James chuckled and put the cups away.

”Don’t worry, pup. I think I have the means make an unruly or upset husband calm and obedient."
"Thank God..."
"I can always step in and help you if it’s too much going on, John. You’re never to feel alone or defenceless again. Sleep now, my love…”

And laying all safe, warm and snug, nestled in his husband’s strong and loving arms, John nuzzled the soft skin on James’ chest and fell asleep with a pleased little smile on his face.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Husband, come inside now.”
”In a moment, I have to…”
Now, Ben.”

It wasn’t often he used that tone with his husband when they were alone and Ben glared at him.

”Yes, husband. May I take the laundry inside, perhaps?”
”Just hurry up.”

Ben muttered something, probably some insult in gaelic since Billy didn’t know his husband’s native tongue. Billy cursed himself for being like this when no one was around, but he was worried and when Billy worried about his husband, his mood quickly hit rock bottom. It was a bit chilly evening and he put more wood on the fire. When Ben came back inside, Billy just nudged at the comfy chair.

”Sit down.”
Happily.”

His husband sat down with a more than displeased look on his face and crossed his arms.

”May I ask why you’re going all outdoor spouse on me tonight, dear husband?”
”Sorry… Lift your feet.”

Ben shook his head but did as asked. Billy placed his feet on his lap and took the shoes off.

”You’re limping again.”
”I’ve just overworked myself a little. Ouch!”

Billy threw a glance at the shoes, glaring like they were a personal offense as he rubbed Ben’s heels.

”Didn’t mean to sound like a demanding asshole, Ben. Sorry.”
”Just tell me what you’re worried about, love, instead of acting like we’re in public. What’s troubling you?”
”You are.”

Ben rose his eyebrows.

”How so?”
”You’re overworked, your feet hurt and you haven’t smiled once today. I can see something’s not right.”

Ben sighed and collected his hair in a leather strap.

”You’re right, my feet hurt. I’m not tired, but I’m having trouble walking and standing for longer moments.”
”For how long?”
”A few weeks.”
”For fucks sake, why didn’t you tell me?”
”Because, as I said, I think I’ve just overworked myself.”
”But why, Ben?”
”Because just like you, I have a fucking reputation to think about. Billy Bones fears no one and Ben Gunn is tireless. And frankly, your reputation isn’t less worrying than my aching feet, I can assure you.”
”How do you know that?”
”Because I’m the one who has to wonder if I’m to be a widower every time The Walrus leaves, since even though I’m a far better rigger and sharpshooter than anyone but you in your crew, I have to stay here and play a housewife, keeping a smily face in public and trying not to picture you being captured, shot, drowned or fucking hanged. If I don’t keep occupied and moving, I’ll loose my mind, Billy.”

Billy leaned down to kiss the sore feet.

”Do you want me to get off the account?”
”What? You can’t do that.”
”Yes, I can. I’ll search for a position in town.”
”You’ve served as bosun, quartermaster and first mate and been on the account since you were seventeen. You’re successful, stronger than most, you have no severe injuries and you’re only thirtytwo years old, my love.”
”In other words: staying ashore would rise suspicions?”
”Exactly.”
”Not if you have trouble with your feet.”

Ben looked at his husband as if he was a child who’d suggested to bring down fucking moon or something.

”Billy, you’re the sweetest man on Earth and I love you, but an indoor spouse’s sore feet is not a good reason for you to stay ashore.”
”It is to me and even if your feet were perfect, I’d still like to spend more time at home with you.”
”Really?”
”Of course I would, Ben. You know I hate leaving you alone so much.”
”I do, but it’s nice to hear you saying it…”
”We should be allowed to work together. Separating husbands like this is ridiculous and we would need you in the crew.”
”You would, but if I have to choose between being Flint’s sharpshooter and sharing home and bed with you, I’ll always choose the latter and you know that.”
”I know, but I just wish there was another way of living…”
”There is. We can abandon our home and life here, join the black again and get out on illegal hunts. But I don’t think any of us wants that. Not if we risk loosing each other. And we’re hardly the only couple singing for our supper to be left in peace.”
”I wonder how many others there are… Like us, I mean.”

Ben smiled at him.

”More than you know and far, far more than the governor knows.”
”What are you implying?”
”Only that it takes a good actor to know when others are acting. I watched peoples faces when Esther was humiliated. I watched Holmes’ face. It’s not the people of Nassau that want these obedience rules, Billy, and words on the street don’t speak for Rogers law, but for Esther and Holmes. Most people cheered, but even among those who did, I could tell that they did it for show, to save themselves from suspicions about them not approving.”

Billy looked at his husband. Ben’s eyes where mild, but very serious. He obviously wasn’t joking. Billy was very calm when he answered.

”Your thoughts on this matter are dangerous, husband. Very dangerous. And I like that.”
”You think there’d be any outdoor people sharing these thoughts?”
”I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are.”
”Only they’re afraid to speak out.”
”Because it can risk the whole deal and throw us into another war.”
”Yes, but I’m starting to think there are those who’d rather see a war, than keep living like this.”

Those were dangerous words, not matter if they came from an indoor or outdoor spouse and Ben sighed.

”Pretending to be stronger than you are is hard, Billy, but trust me: pretending you’re weeker than you are, is much harder. And from what I’ve seen in Nassau, the so called ’natural law’ of men being more fit to rule and decide than women, men who really believe in that are either extremely afraid of sharing power and would do anything to not let it happen. If marriages would work just as well or better without the women being obedient, it would mean that men suddenly have to make an effort not to act like assholes. To allow matelotages on those terms, isn’t that a violation of the deal?”
”It is.”

Billy kept rubbing his husband’s feet with a puzzled expression on his face.

”Ben, darling, I don’t think it’s good for any of us to talk too much about this even with each other, but we should think about it… Think long and hard, keep our eyes and ears open and our mouths shut. No one must hear a word about this, not even John or James. We have to observe people, dear husband, to see if there’s even a chance for…”

He didn’t finish the sentence, but he didn’t have to. Ben just nodded. They were alone in their home, on a safe distance from eyes and ears seeing and hearing things that weren’t for them, but words can be dangerous, even when only being shared  with the one that holds your heart. And sometimes all you could do to keep them away, was to be on your feet, work yourself tired to the bone and keep focusing on all the small drops of sweetness no governor, king or country could steal from you. To keep in mind that life isn’t fair but every resistance, no matter how small and invisible, is another piece of armor, another weapon forged for the only fight that really matters: the one about your right to not make yourself less of a human than you are.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Are you done already?”
”Just another stitch…”

The bonnet was lovely. It was made of dark green satin with lace ribbons and simple yet beautiful silver embroideries on the sides. John had insisted on making it himself, only allowing Ben to take measures, cut out the fabric and draw out lines for the stitches. John cut the last thread and gave Ben the bonnet.

”What do you think?”
”It’s beautiful. Stunning, actually.”
”Worked on it all night.”
”You haven’t slept?”

John shook his head. The short time that had past since consuming the marriage in full, most of nights had been so lovely his cheeks would heat from thinking about them, but last night his eyes had been open for a whole different reason, with his husband’s blessing, of course. John nodded at the basket Ben had brought with him.

”It looks pretty full.”
”Both Holmes and Esther are very well liked people, especially in Vane’s crew but everyone knows Billy’s a good friend of Vane’s so…”
”People with spouses in other crews are happy to give a share if Billy Bones’ husband is walking with the basket?”
”Well, one has to use what little influence one has.”

From the basket’s content, that influence was more than little. Expensive liquor, silk stockings, perfume bottles, a satin corsette Max Marliot had made and a belt from her outdoor wife Eleanor Guthrie, simple yet perhaps even more valuable despite the lack of garnments. Eleanor was the daughter of Nassau’s former governor and hold in very high esteem all over the island. Wearing her belt in public would be a very effective weapon against malicious tongues. Esther hadn’t been seen in public since the punishment and Eleanor had sent Max to look after her until she’d recover enough from the whipping to have guests again.

Ben Gunn’s basket was a proof of both his own and Billy Bones’ reputation, as well as Eleanor Guthrie’s and Max Marliot’s. But more important, it was proof of peoples compassion and care for poor Esther and Holmes. Esther’s external wounds would heal and hair would grow back but the humiliation she’d suffered wouldn’t heal that easily and it would take time before she could walk with her head high and proud again. The beautiful bonnet wasn’t made to hide her shaved head, but as a protection. People would know that no one but the indoor spouse of the feared and respected Captain Flint had made it specially for Esther. A steel armour and guns couldn’t be a more effective protection. 

John and Ben left with their baskets, passing by DeGroot who gave a bottle of Joji’s mixture for wounds, fresh fruit and flowers from their garden and a small package with saffron, a highly valuable gift. DeGroot made a displeased grunt.

”This wasn’t what people hoped for with the legalisation of matelotages. A damn shame, that’s what it is. A disgrace against everything we once fought for...  Give them both our regards and tell Esther she and her husband are always welcome at our table.”
”We will, Mr. DeGroot.”

They bid farewell and left. Holmes and Esther lived close to the tavern and right now that was a good thing. People were, as always, very curtious and had nothing but friendly smiles and words for Ben and John. When they passed the butcher, Mr. Falorion, the man greeted them both very friendly.

”Well, good morning, Mr. Gunn, Mr. Silver.”
”Good morning, Mr. Falorion.”
”Good morning, Mr. Falorion.”

John always spoke after Ben, both for convenience and out of respect for a friend who’d lived there longer than him. Mr. Falorion was a man with a round, good-natured face and arms almost as big as Billy’s and he nodded at their baskets.

”Lots of arrends today?”

Ben shook his head and smiled friendly.

”Only one, Mr. Falorion. We’re bringing gifts for Mr. Holmes’ dear wife Esther.”
”Oh yes… I saw it happen.”

Mr. Falarion’s smile disappeard and he shook his head, before taking a look around. Then he, very discreet, took one of his finest pieces of fillet, wrapped it in a parcel and handed over with a wink. Ben gave him a sweet smile, winked and took the parcel.

”Thank you so much, Mr. Falarion. I’m sure my husband will love supper tonight.”
”I certainly hope so, Mr. Gunn. Please, send him my regards.”
”Of course. Good day, Mr. Falarion and send our regards to dear Gilly.”
”I sure will. Good day, Mr. Gunn. Mr. Silver. And please, send Captain Flint my regards.”
”Certainly, Mr. Falarion, and give Mrs. Falarion my best wishes. Have a good day.”

They left the butcher and John realised another thing about courtesy and kindness. While courtesey was always mandatory, some people couldn’t afford to show kindness in public. Mr. Falarion was a good butcher, but he wasn’t the only one. Showing sympathy for a disgraced woman openly could lead to people choosing another butcher and also lead to a less pleasant social life for both Mr. Falarion and Gilly. Only people in absolute top of society, people who didn’t depend on common peoples’ money to survive, could afford to show sympathy for a shamed person. John and Ben were the husband’s of two of the most successful Captain’s and Quartermaster’s in the entire New Providence and it was first now, as his already full basket with gifts got more filled on the way to the unfortunate woman, that John Silver realised why Ben didn’t identify their position as the one of a slave the first time they’d had a proper talk in private.

As Captain Flint’s spouse, John Silver’s opinion mattered, even if it was expressed without words. By supper this evening, every man, woman and child in Nassau would know that the beautiful bonnet, lying very visible in the basket, was made specifically for Esther Holmes by John Silver himself and no one who cared about his or her own reputation, would dare to treat either Holmes or Esther badly. The gossip and private malice was harder to do something about, but at least they’d be able to show themselves in public again.

John and Ben were just two streets away from the couples home, when they were stopped. Two men in the governor’s uniform, blocked the way and one of them, a big man with a scornful smirk on his face, nodded at their baskets. He pointed at John’s with his musket.

”Out for a little outdoor breakfast, are we? How about sharing a little with us, pretty boy.”

The other man, who had a nervous gaze, looked horrified and cleared his throat.

”Please, Mr. Gunn, Mr. Silver, pardon my collegue! Mr. Hume here is new to Nassau.”
”I can see that, sir.”

Ben’s voice was still courteous, but cold and his blue eyes were hard as he looked at Hume.

”I know more than well it take some time to get used to a new place, Mr. Hume. You’re from England, I presume?”
”I am.”

The lack of ”sir” didn’t escape anyones notice and Ben rose his eyebrows at the poor collegue who looked like he wanted to sink through the ground. Ben turned to Hume again.

”Well, Mr. Hume, I’m sure you know that things work a little bit different here, than in England. I also know that our most respected and valued governor, is a man who believe in good order – and good behavior. It makes me sad to see a respectable and friendly man as Mr. Daniels here, being forced to witness such lack of grace from a collegue.”

He turned to Mr. Daniels.

”I can assure you, Mr. Daniels, that we hold no grudge against you or the governor’s soldiers for this and nor will our husbands do when we tell them about Mr. Hume’s… little transgression. I’m sure this will never happen again.”
”Never, Mr. Gunn. I can only give my sincerest apology for my collegues poor judgement and assure you this will not go unnoticed.”

Ben gave Mr. Daniels a very friendly smile and John did the same. He hold up his basket.

”If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Daniels, Mr. Gunn and I have an arrend.”
”Oh, of course! I’m so sorry for this, Mr. Silver. Please send my best wishes to Captain Flint. And you to Mr. Bones, Mr. Gunn.”

The mention of their husbands made the already quite pale Mr. Hume, loose the remaining color in his face and he swallowed hard as he moved aside to let John and Ben pass. The two soldiers left quickly and John could here the one called Hume talk to his collegue in a very upset tone:

”That was Ben Gunn and John Silver?! I’m a dead man!”

Ben smiled wickedly at John.

”He sure is. Now, lets give Esther some comfort.”

TBC

Chapter Text

John was in the garden when he came back. It had been later than usual, it was well past supper time and James had sent Joji with a message home earlier not to worry John. The evening sun was almost gone by now and the hat John usually wore while gardening was laying on the backporch. His long curls glistened in the sunlight and James sighed. He loved seeing his husband in the garden, bent over his herbs and vegetables, caring for them with capable, earthy hands.

When words came to the consortium that John and Ben had paid Holme and Esther a visit, it didn’t take many hours before the most malicious tongues went silent. People respected John Silver as much as they respected Ben Gunn now. James watched his husband finishing his work for the night and felt a shiver through his body. If anything happened to him… No, he didn’t want to think of such things. Not now. Not when he was home and didn’t have to care about the world outside their garden until morning. His beautiful, capable, intelligent and kind-hearted husband was waiting for him and James had already made him wait too long. He went to the vegetable field and John smiled and went to greet him with a kiss.

”Finally. I’v missed you, husband.”

James shivered from the words, the longing, warm tone in John’s voice and he put his arms around John and lifted him from the ground.

”Hey, what’s this about?”

John laughed and James pressed a kiss on his chest where the shirt was open and revealed tanned, slightly sweaty skin from a long day of work.

”I’ve missed you too, dearest.”

He entangled his fingers in the curls and hold his husband on a little distance, just watching the man.

”Look at you, John Silver… How did I end up with a man like you?”
”You married me, Captain Flint.”
”And how you cried…”

John smiled and kissed his forehead.

”Not anymore, James.”

Not anymore. John’s smile was a toothy, slightly wicked grin and his eyes glittered in a mischievous way. James catched the grin in a deep kiss and pressed John closer. The man leaned in to his touch these days in a way James had never dared to dream about. Longing and fearless, now as he’d finally learned how the touch of a loving husband could feel. And James loved his husband deeply, even if he didn’t dare to speak the exact words yet, hoping that John would be able to understand it without the words until James dared to speak them. And whatever John felt or thought he felt for him, James knew that the way his husbands looked at and touched him, wasn’t only out of obedience, kindess or even simple lust. It went deeper than that, even if John didn’t know the word for it yet.

John broke the kiss reluctantly.

”Are you hungry?”
”Not for food.”
”Is that so?”
”I’m afraid so…”

James smile was mischievous and he kissed John’s curls.

”Words came from a very reliable source that my husband stood up for a certain disgraced couple today.”
”Pleasant words?”
”Very.”
”You didn’t disapprove then?”
”Not with that, but I’m afraid I don’t take kindly to insults directed to my husband.”
”I didn’t think so either. It took a while before a particularly slow soldier understood that.”
”Then I guess he didn’t only deserve, but actually needed a second lesson.”

John smiled and nuzzled James’ neck.

”Let me guess. He was granted with two teachers and he didn’t even have the courtesy to thank you for the lesson?”
”I’m not sure. He may have uttered a word or two close to ’thank you’, but it was hard to tell. It’s not easy to speak with your mouth filled with blood and loose teeth. Billy and I were, of course, very sorry for having to do that to him, but some people just seem incapable of learning without violence.”
”Sad, but hardly your fault, dear husband.”
”I thought you might see it that way. How did poor Esther feel today?”
”Angry, humiliated and she’d cried a lot, but she loved the bonnet. It suited her very well.”
”Holmes told me. They’re both more than grateful. What you did today meant a great deal to them both.”
”I’m glad. But…”
”But what, dear?”
”Now that you're home, can't we forget about the world a little? Please?"
"Gladly. You said something about supper. Or a replacement for it…”
”That I did. Well?”
”Well what?”
”We’re standing next to the cornfield and I don’t know about you, Captain, but I’m not sure this is the right place for supper. Or supper replacement…”
”No? Then we better get inside, husband.”

Dear God, I love you, John. And I wish I didn’t have to hide it for the world. Or you.

TBC

Chapter Text

What once had scared him, now was something he longed for and the long years of lacking lust had turned into daily cravings. I’ve missed you, husband. All the words of which some he didn’t dare to speak and some he hadn’t yet formed for himself, boiled down to that simple sentence. It contained all John’s lust and longings, the urges and feelings he’d so recently discovered they still overwhelmed him sometimes.

He was straddling James’ hips in the chaise longue with the cracking sound of fire behind him and the heat from his husband’s breath against his neck as he leaned down. The hot air seemed to sink in through his skin, life streaming into him from James’ lungs. His husband’s life given to him, the touch almost reverencing as if the man saw something invisible to John on his own body. Hands loosing his shirt from his trousers and searching for his skin, travelling along his naked spine. Touches replacing words not yet taken the shape of sounds from his lips. I want you so much, husband. You and no one else. The one making me fly high and then bringing me down to steady ground again.

His once sleeping, and later slowly waking up but still wordless hunger had words now. There was a name, a face and a body added to it. Security enough to seek it, but not to take it. Not yet. Not without the calming words, the firm touch holding him steady. Don’t worry, John, I’ve got you. If you loose your footing, I’ll catch you. If you need space, I’ll pull back. And if the urge, the feelings it triggers, seem to take over and leave you drowning, I’m here, bringing you back to surface. I’ll hold you close, cover you with my body and be your shelter until the storm has passed by.

It was terrifying. Going from not wanting, not even being allowed to want or have limits, to this consuming delight he’d never known existed, not even for free men. The sounds James’ hands and lips elicited from him were of a kind he’d never uttered before, sounds he didn’t knew he had inside him. From the loud and shameless, the sharp cries and shouts, to soft purrs and breathy gasps. Terrifying, addictive and utterly consuming.

He swirled his legs around James’ hips, allowing him to carry him to bed. Needed to feel safe, needed to not admit it. Still so vulnerable. The need, the fear bleading obliviously from his every touch as he clutched for the man he’d promised to love, honor and obey. Obedieance came naturally for him, honoring had demanded more. Love… His heart and mind had never been obedient, but never searched for freedom either, for what should someone like him do with it? Heart half asleep, beating only for survival, a small shed of safety and longing for no one. Longed for by no one. Until now.

He wanted the man who lay upon him, waking up his body, making him harder than he thought was possible, wet and wanting, hips searching for touch, all his empty rooms to be filled. James worked him up slowly, his slicked fingers so gentle while building John up for not only taking him, but having pleasure. And it still made John cry. He couldn’t help it, he wasn’t in pain, it wasn’t too much, only at the brink and so James kissed the tears away and kept sliding in and out, pace increasing as John’s body relaxed even further, waiting until John practically begged for more.

”Please… Please, James… Just fuck me!”

Had he paid attention, he’d seen in James’ face that it was the right thing to say, but he had his eyes closed, vision being one stimulation too much, the intensity in the green eyes would be too much as James placed himself between his thighs, letting his cock slide teasingly over his perineum and John let out a stream of barely conscious curses as James slowly pushed in.

The only reason why this was considered a crime in England, must be due to a fear of men taking too much pleasure in life, was John’s only sensible thought as the thickness filled him. I want this. By God, I didn’t know I did, didn’t know I needed to feel like this. The slow pace, the kisses he now could take at the same time without getting overwhelmed, feeling so good as James hit that sweet, glorious fucking spot deep inside him, only increasing his lust.

”Yes… Just… just like that… Oh, God, James…”

Incoherent syllables, cries and moans he didn’t seem to have any control over, as if James was possessing his voice using cock, hands and mouth to elicite the words he wanted him to say. This position felt different from the usual, the angle pressed on other buttons of lust and made him beg, curse and pant like a wanton whore, careless about his vulnerability as long as he could have the pleasure. James leaned down to kiss his panting lips, sliding down to his earlobe.

”You’re making me mad, John… So pretty, feeling so good around me, my darling… My sweet, darling man…”
”Fuck, James… Please, I’ll probably… probably start crying but don’t stop. Don’t fucking stop… I… I… Oh, fuck!”

The pleasure hit him like a strong gust and he undulated wildly against the thick, throbbing cock, every muscle in his body giving over to the exploding sensation, his lower back coming up from the bed when James’ hand worked his cock, prolonging the extacy as he increased his thrutsts, pounding into him hard and relentless, hot liquid filling him up as his husband followed him over the edge in shameless, blissful release.

TBC

Chapter Text

Billy dried his tears for the umpteenth time. Your reputation isn’t less worrying than my aching feet. He wanted to scream, crush something but the man he’d just laid to rest shouldn’t be disturbed. Do you want me to get off the account? What? You can’t do that. I could do anything for you, my love. My life, my heart, my soul. And still, I didn’t pay attention...

His husband was burning from fever, raving and unaware of his surroundings, unable to reckognize his home or even his own husband. Since two o’clock this morning Ben, who’d felt a bit more tired than usual when he went to bed for the night, was badly ill with fever and Billy refused to leave his side. Fuck the consortium, fuck the sea, fuck his reputation and fuck the law. He bathed the forehead with a soothing cloth, kissed the golden hair that of course wasn’t golden at all, but always had shimmered like gold to him. Sweet darling, dearest husband, my soulmate… Please forgive me all the times I was too hard on you, even if it was for show. Don’t leave me, I’m nothing without you. Only a tool for rigging and fighting. I’ll flee this place with you, I’ll carry you in my arms, row a boat through a storm and reach safe shore, my love. Just don’t leave me…

He should’ve been more strict. Demanded obedience and forced the man to rest. I have a fucking reputation to think about, Billy. Ben Gunn is tireless. I’m the one who has to wonder if I’m to be a widower every time The Walrus leaves… keeping a smily face in public and trying not to picture you being captured, shot, drowned or fucking hanged. If I don’t keep occupied and moving, I’ll loose my mind, Billy.

Cursed be this island! Cursed be the fucking governor and cursed be the peace treaty!

”Billy…”

His husband was partly awake and Billy sat down by the bed, leaning down to the pale lips.

”Yes, love?”
”Get… me off…”
”Off what, Ben?”
”The ship! Why did you… take me with you in this storm… Take me home to Edinburgh again…”

Billy choked a squeak that tried to get loose. The ship’s name had been The Dutchess and on it’s wreck, sailing all the way from Scotland, a blonde man had been clinging on for his life, only to be rescued by slave traders.

He’d felt sorry for the man. He’d seemed so off at the inn and the first time Billy’d even been able to embrace him, was during a nightmare. Sleeping in separate beds didn’t mean Billy slept any deeper, quite the opposite. Hearing the man crying his eyes out, either from nightmares or sorrow, was torment and Billy tried to talk to him. To assure him he had nothing to fear, that Billy wouldn’t force any intimacy onto him. That he didn’t even count on Ben wanting to consume their marriage. That he’d only thought Ben would do better with him than Singleton or some other brute. And then, the man would allow an embrace.

A little later, he came to care for the man. Found out he liked roses and picked them for him, one every Saturday for no other reason than that the man was fond of them. Learned that he liked coffee and praised him for his lovely pastries and neat needlework. And he missed him while at sea. Braught him gifts, not to secure affection, but to show he cared. That he thought about his indoor husband when he was away. When he found a beautiful comb on one of his journeys, about two months into the marriage, the man let him comb his hair. They’d had supper and were sitting on a mattress by the fire, drinking one of Ben’s teas and it was raining. Ben had washed his hair and Billy asked if he wanted him to comb him. That’s very kind of you, husband.

Billy’d loved the hair from the very beginning. It fell beautifully over his husband’s shoulders and combing it made Billy’s fingers tremble a little. He was very careful, his touch light and he resisted the temptation to lean closer and nuzzle against it. Soon he could hold the man a little. Just have him leaned back to his chest in bed, have him sleeping on his arm and allowing them both to get used to the odd but very pleasant feeling of the other man’s warmth. The day Billy’d declared he didn’t want to hit him, not for any reason, and presented his idea for keeping gossip away, Ben’s eyes had shifted from fear and weariness to something careful but warm and soft, making Billy’s heart melt right where he stood. Now, a couple of hours before dawn, it was bleeding, and if things didn’t turn to the better it wasn’t Ben who’d be a widower. Cursed be the laws of men, cursed be this world where care had no place. And without you by my side, the world has no place for me either.

TBC

Chapter Text

He was only there to deliver the medicine. He’d not meant to spy on them. Jesus, if it wasn’t for that loose window shutter, he’d not seen any of it. And he’d not been standing there, starring. James knew Billy cared a bit more for Ben than was considered healthy, but not just how much.

The tall man held his sick husband in his arms like he was the most precious thing alive, singing softly and planting kisses on the golden hair. The rain outside drenched any words whispered in the poorly enlightened room, only Billy’s moving lips and the soft rocking of Ben’s body in his arms spoke. And the tears. Billy cried silently, to not disturb the sick man and the sight reminded James about his own husband laying exhausted in bed from overwork. James had hold his hand, kissed his hair and tried to comfort him. It had felt good to be able to do something for his husband, that was only for him. To care for John when he was too tired to be afraid or put his sunny, smiling guard up. Outdoor spouses weren’t supposed to care for their indoor spouses like that.

But there he was, walking around the room with Ben in his arms. Billy Bones, the burly, intimidating man, cared for his severly ill indoor spouse as if there was actual love between them. The kind of love James had seen between Thomas and Miranda, in a world far away from Nassau. And back home, he had a husband he already cared for a great deal more than he could admit to anyone. Especially not the man himself. Would he carry John like that? Yes, he would.

When word came that Billy’s husband was ill, it was soon out on the streets. Ben Gunn was a very well liked man among both indoor and outdoor people and gifts were soon sent to the couple. One day when James were at the inn to pick up a basket with medicine and food from Max and Eleanor, he heard people talk about the man:

”Yeah, Ben’s pale as if he had one foot in the grave already and Mr. Bones looks more pale than a ghost, I’d say, poor man… Seems as if he’s grown fond of the man and who could blame him? Best damn cook on this side of town, I’d say. Gonna be hard to replace.”

It took all James had not to punch the unknown man in the face. Replacing Ben, who’d been Billy’s husband for more than four years and, if James’ wasn’t mistaken, was deeply cared for, perhaps even loved? James was relieved to see the asshole leave before he was done with his arrend. He hurried back home, went to the neighbors and knocked. No on answered, but James hadn’t counted on it. He opened the door and went inside.

”Billy?”
”James?”

The voice came from the chamber. Billy was laying in bed with his back against the door, holding Ben in his arms. The man was hardly to be recognized. The fever had hit him really bad and Billy looked like he was about to have a breakdown. James put the basket by the bed.

”How’s he?”
”Fever’s still high… He’s managed to swallow a little water, but…”

James had never seen Billy Bones cry. The big man was holding his thin, pale husband in his arms, crying quietly in his hair.

”I love him, James. Dear Lord, I love him so much… Don’t know what I’ll do if…”

Until you see me treat him like you just treated John, or you find Ben crying in bed with his ass bleeding, you don’t get to compare us, James. So it was true then… James swallowed. The scene, the heartbreaking words threatened to break him as well and he couldn’t do that in front of his friend.

”Don’t think like that, Billy. Ben’s strong and we can’t loose hope now.”
”Billy…”

The sick man mumbled in his sleep and Billy swallowed hard to keep his voice in control.

”Yes, my love?”
”Water…”
”Yes, yes of course, darling…”

Watching Billy tend to his husband reminded James that he had to get back home soon. The basket with medicine and food was delivered and he gave Billy a pat on the shoulder.

”You make sure you’re letting me know if you need anything.”
”Thank you, James, I will. And give John my regards. Don’t do the same mistake as I did. Take good care of him, even if people start talking…”
”I will.”

James was just leaving when Billy spoke.

”I never hit him, James. Not once.”
”What?”

He turned around and looked at the broken man.

”Used a leather belt on a hard pillow. Makes about the same sound… I just couldn’t, James. I don’t have it in me… The way we’ve been acting in public, in front of you and John, it was all for show… Maybe you already knew. Ben’s sure that John knows… And I can’t put on a show anymore, James. Not for you. Not now.”
”You don’t have to, my friend. I love my husband too. And I understand your anger better now…”
”We all have our roles to play… But was it worth it?”

Billy’s voice was bitter and James didn’t know what to say now when the truth the man had tried to hard to conceal, and done it so well he’d even foolished his oldest friend. To hide a love from malicious eyes. James knew more about that than Billy, Ben or even John would suspect. The harsh, controlled Captain Flint didn’t know how it was to conceal a love, but James McGraw knew. Or did Flint know now too? He wasn’t sure. Wasn’t sure of anything but how far a human being could go to keep the hearts greatest treasure safe.

TBC

Chapter Text

Was this worth it? The way they were forced to treat their spouses in public, how they were supposed to treat them at home. To humiliate and scare them. Was the married life between men and women in the old world so unhappy and unforfilling that people couldn’t stand the thought of happiness? The matelotages had never been about obedience. They were unions between free men sharing life and bed with each other, sharing plunders equally and caring for each other in sickness and in health. No one had to be forced into them, not for keeping a work or having someone to support them. These marriage contracts were nothing about care and companionship, and certainly not love. They were all about obedience and forcing men and women to act unnatural.

James walked aimlessly on the beach. He had to be alone, had to think. Of course he wasn’t the only one loving his spouse. He’d seen Holmes’ face when being forced to humiliate and whip his wife. He’d met several indoor spouses who moved around with pride, heads high and their voices so mild and curtious it seemed as if all good behavior had left England and been shipped to Nassau. John had never been so praised for his timidity and courtesy as now. Now when he wasn’t afraid anymore.

The show Billy and Ben had put up wasn’t strange to James. He should’ve known. He’d played that game in an even more dangerous place and when he thought they were about to reach safe shore together, he’d lost them both. Miranda and Thomas… He had no grave to visit, he bore it with him in his heart. He’d never thought he could love again and then John Silver came. It had been a long and partially painful road, but as time passed by the skittish man had played, smiled, cooked, gardened, yelled, screamed, cried, fought and laughed his way right into James’ heart. The ice had melted so slowly, James had never seen the spring arrive, not until the rose blossomed and James had almost destroyed it.

Don’t do the same mistake as I did. Take good care of him, even if people start talking… But what of the people who didn’t talk? Charles Vane, Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham… Of course, Jack could talk the breath out of anyone, but he was by far too intelligent and deceptive to let people know anything more than he wanted them to know and so was Anne.

They’d all wanted peace. Tired of the endless war and the peace treaty was better than anyone of them could’ve hoped for. At least back then. The governor back then, Richard Guthrie, had been very convincible. All pirates were to pardoned, without even having to give up the piracy alltogether, as long as the raided against French and Spanish ships and not English. They could keep their way of living, could end a hopeless war with a peace treaty unique in it’s kind. Civilization was built on families, on proper alliances and it seemed as a cheap price to pay at the time. Until the papers were signed, the law declared common and accepted and people started to realize what price they’d truly paid. Forced marriages and roles to be played for no other reason than to prevent another war. But how many more people were there who put on a show? Who locked their doors, pulled the curtains and shared their stolen moments of love and devotion before the dawn came and with that, the force to put the masks on again. When did it all become too much to bare?

He stared out over the sea. The act he’d played together with Miranda and Thomas hadn’t been enough. They’d barely escaped after being discovered and until the storm came and took his heart, leaving him shattered and without a heart to become one of the most feared pirate captains the Caribbean had seen, and the name James McGraw wiped out from the world. No one had discovered his true identity and the irony, the utterly mockery from all gods when he, who’d been forced to flee for his love for another man, was forced to marry a man he didn’t want, who certainly didn’t want him, it seemed like the ultimate punishment. A humiliation and revenge from England, so complete as a revenge could ever be.

There was only one problem. Homeland of Shakespeare or not, England never counted on love. And it had almost made free men and women stop counting on it too. And it was time to make resistance. There were times when Captain Flint had been known as James McGraw, a man who’d believed in the peace treaty, but when the sea took his loved ones, he’d finally realised just how broken England was. And that sooner or later, a good man or woman had to resist it.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Stop…”
”Ben?”

The man he’d watched over for five agonizing days and nights, still had his eyes closed, but the chapped lips were moving.

”Stop… fucking… crying, Mr. Bones… I’m not dead yet, you doilleir.

Scotish gaelic for idiot and Billy cried even more as his badly ill, but not dead husband patted his hand on the cover. He’d survived. The fever was almost gone and his husband had survived, cursing with a very weak voice, but clearly not raving.

”You didn’t really think I was… leaving you alone, you silly man. You’d just… fucking starve to death or have yourself… killed in a stupid tavern fight…”
”I can cook…”
”Yeah, right… And you’d never draw your pistol if someone insulted my memory…”

Ben almost chuckled.  

”And then you’d have to marry some poor sod who you’d only compare to me and make him miserable… because he… can’t make cinnamon buns they same way… I do… Leaving you would be… a crime against… decency, Billy Bones… And besides… I love you far too much to just… take off like this…”

Billy carefully lifted the tangled, sweaty head and put on his arm. He buried his face in the blonde hair, not caring about the sweat or dirt after long days in bed.

”There’s so much I wish I’d done different, Ben… All the times when I was too hard on you…”
”Stop it. If I could… relive my life, I’d still choose you, Billy. You’re the only man I’ve ever loved, the only man I’ve ever wanted. It’s been worth every… every second of acting…”

Billy swallowed, tried to hold his tears back, but he couldn’t.

”I’m not going back on the account again, Ben. I don’t care how I’ll do it, but there’s no fucking way I’m leaving you behind anymore.”
”Don’t think about… that now, my love. You’re with me now, I’ll get well again and… that’s all that counts. Fuck the rest…”

The last words were merely a whisper. His husband was about to drift back to sleep again, but the fever was gone. Billy managed to have him swallow some water before he passed out and then he laid down beside him again, tucking him in, closing arms around him like a shield. Ben’s heart was beating against his chest and Billy cried silently in his hair, sending a prayer of thanks to a God he wasn’t sure would hear him or even want his gratitude. But Billy didn’t care. His husband would live and that was all that mattered.

TBC

Chapter Text

The news about Ben’s return from the brink of death would’ve been on everyones lips, if it wasn’t for the nothing but shocking news that his husband, the most wanted man for any crew, had declared his wish to leave the sea, not only during his husband’s slow recovery, but altogether. At first, Woodes Rogers had denied the quartermaster’s request, claiming it was only a desperate wish to remain at his husband’s side, wich Rogers fully understood, but Ben Gunn would recover and Billy Bones was too valuable on a ship to stay ashore.

So far, Rogers thought it was all pretty clear, but he hadn’t counted on either Billy Bones’ or Ben Gunn’s reputation. The couple was practically flawless in the common opinion and no one had a pejorative or hard word to say about either of them. So, when the normally so calm Billy Bones was seen leaving the governors office in rage, slamming the door and spitting on the ground for the entire street to see, Rogers learned something new: A seemingly harmless man, so obedient people would hold him for the model of indoor spouses, could force a governor on his knees.

In any other case, Rogers would’ve treated an outburst like Billy Bones’ as a little inconvenience that would soon be forgotten once the man had a moment to think. People would’ve shook their heads by the thought of an outdoor spouse as strong and capable as Billy Bones being allowed to leave the account simply outrageous. But when the governor’s own lenient indoor wife Charlotte only had hard words to report from her trips to the market, stopped getting tips about the most fresh meat and three dinner invitations from different couples suddenly were cancelled due to ”family business”, in a way not even the slowest among men could’ve missed, the governor started to realised he’d lost.

The resistance had been legal, discrete and whatever words Billy Bones had called him to his face, they were but dust and wind compared to Ben Gunn’s flawless reputation, not only as a loyal, capable and hard working spouse, but as a helpful, friendly and caring neighbor, friend and customer. If Woodes Rogers had never understood the power of kindness before, he certainly did now. The obedience law, set to keep at least half of the adult population in Nassau under control, had backfired in the most unimaginable way. So, for the first time, Woodes Rogers wrote and signed the document to release Billy Bones from the account and allowing him to find a suitable work on shore.

It was all in good order, both according to the law as well as for the public opinion and common order, but the governor still felt somehow tricked. And if he’d hoped for at least some spiteful comments on Billy Bones’ decision, he hoped in vain. When support for the couple came from both Guthrie, Vane, Flint, DeGroot, Rackham and even Blackbeard, the governor finally gave up and accepted defeat. Billy Bones started working in the harbour, helping out with ship repairing and spending a fair amount of time taking care of his husband, who was too weak to leave home for a long time.

In order to help their friends and neighbors, John and DeGroot shared some of Ben’s duties among them, doing the couples arrends to town, their laundry and cooking exept for breakfast. James hired one of Vanes’ men, Beauclerc, temporarily before he could find a permanent replacement in the riggings, while Mr. Gates resumed his former role as a quartermaster.

John, who’d been devestated when his friend turned ill and almost as relieved as Billy from the recovery, was watching the changes on a distance with his mouth shut and eyes and ears opened. The fact that it hadn’t gone without saying that Billy would be at home according to the law of an outdoor spouse’s responsibilites, had been a quite hard blow against what John thought he knew about this strange society that hadn’t felt strange to him in a long time. Nassau had, in one way or another, become home to him. Ben was the first person who’d been his equal, a true friend and confidant in everything from baking bread to the art of lovemaking. And Billy, who’d first had seemed so harsh, even cruel, had turned out to be a man with the most gentle heart, prepared to put on an act everytime he was in company, to keep his husband safe.

The sight John had seen when peeking through their chamber door, had not been a one-time event and he began to understand the enormous burden the meek Ben Gunn and harsh Billy Bones had carried around for years. What a price to pay for a small slice of happiness that didn’t hurt anyone. The anger John had felt from the unfair beating he’d had from his husband was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the hate streaming through him like a dark creek. Living almost all of his life with no sense of self-value or connections to other people, the feelings of vengefulness and hate were as new to him as comfort and pleasure had been. And what surprised him more than the actual feelings, was how good they felt.

They’d hurt his friend and his friends husband. Ben had worked himself to exhaustion, not out of fear for not being good enough, but to keep his thoughts and feelings in check. Billy had done the same by putting on his harsh mask of a strict, demanding outdoor husband and John, who’d not cared about politics and only recently discovered the concept of self-value, found out how good it felt to let go of all the obedient, lenient and sunny thoughts and dive head on into the darkness.

TBC

Chapter Text

”He wont let me sit by myself…”
”You’re right about that, husband. I wont.”
”Because he thinks I’ve somehow lost my spine.”
”Behave, Ben.”

John couldn’t help but smile at the couples bickering. Had he not seen earlier proof of the gentleness between the two men, the sight would’ve made him drop the basket and possibly question his own sanity. Covered from sight by the fire in the salon, Ben was sitting in Billy’s lap, carving on a new knife handle with slow strokes. The man had clearly not recovered yet, but the teasing smile was back and he looked more relaxed than he had in months.

”I would make you tea if I was allowed to move, John, but I’m afraid I have to remain as I am.”
”If you’ll allow me in your kitchen, I could make you some tea. In fact, I brought supper. It’s nothing special, just some everyday food.”

He put the basket in Ben’s lap and the man smiled widely as he saw the content.

”Pork pancake and apple pie… I could kiss you, John Silver. Well… if I was allowed to, of course.”

John’s answer to that was to lean down, put his arms around the couple and give first Ben, then Billy a kiss each on cheek before turning back to the recovering man.

”Don’t ever scare us like this again, Ben Gunn. Shall I heat up the pancake?”
”You’re staying for supper, I hope?”

Billy sounded much more mild than usual and John nodded.

”Gladly. James is still in town and wont come back until late. He’s having supper at the inn.”

It was a whole different thing to be with the couple now. John suspected that they’d both agreed it was safe to let go of the masks in front of him and it was beautiful to watch. All the small signs of care John had catched glimpses of blossomed beautifully before him now. It wasn’t overly sappy, not at all, but the two men were visibly much more relaxed and they touched each other almost constantly, seemingly unaware of it, as if they couldn’t stop themselves. Billy planting shallow kisses on Ben’s hair, smiles being shared that John had never seen before. Hands entwining, thumbs stroking on the other man’s hand.

How they shared jokes and smiles, leaving John out without noticing, but he didn’t feel left out. Quite the contrary. Seeing this hidden, common yet absolutely stunning love in the light only made John feel blessed. He wouldn’t use that word, of course, since it was yet another unknown feeling for him, but the sight before him dragged him up from the darkness, to a shed of light.

He’d never seen love like this, not from another couple. He couldn’t recall his former master and mistress share affectionate touches or looks like this. Billy seemed being able to read evey little gesture, look or face expression from Ben and the difference from the harshness was, even with John’s knowledge, almost shocking. The large, careful hands that touched Ben’s tired, slowly recovering body showed nothing but love and care. Billy’s blue eyes were only for him, only for the man in his arms but it was impossible to feel neglected. This was the gratitude, the relief and happiness from a man who could’ve been a widower but had been allowed to keep his heart close. Being allowed to see it was a gift.

Ben soon got tired and fell asleep in Billy’s arms in the middle of a sentence about John’s garden. Billy carefully took the cup in his husband’s hand and put it on the floor. The fire had almost burned out and the former quartermaster gave John a grateful smile when he put more wood on the fire and fetched another blanket for his husband, along with two cups of wine.

”Has he told you?”
”Who has told me what?”
”Has James told you he’s in love with you?”
”What?”

John starred at the man who’d tucked in his sleeping husband and buried his nose in his hair. Billy looked up with friendly eyes.

”I’ve known for a long time, John. He’s not told me, of course, that bloody old goat, but he doesn’t need to.”

John swallowed, feeling his cheeks heat, his heart beating faster. He took a sip of the wine.

”How… How can you tell he…?”
”It was Ben who saw it first, of course. The looks James gave you, how he smiled when he thought no one looked. Ben’s always seen such things far better than me. Don’t know how he does it, really…”
”And you?”
”I suspected it when he didn’t bring you with him on the journey. Not at first, but when he didn’t buy you any gift, claiming you didn’t want any, Ben found out he’d given you a small crystal jar earlier.”
”For my jewlery…”

John obliviously touhed his necklace and Billy smiled.

”Well, Ben told him you probably liked it, but just wasn’t used to get any gifts.”
”He was right. I love that crystal jar.”
”But James thought you didn’t want gifts from him and he tried to make it sound as if you were ungrateful, but it wasn’t hard to tell he felt rejected.”
”So he didn’t bring me a gift…”
”As a matter of fact, he bought one of the gifts I bought for Ben from us, to give to you. I was already pretty pissed at him, so I guess he didn’t dare to refuse.”
”The bathoil…”

John blushed from the memory.

”Sometimes I think he… sees something strange when he looks at me. Not all the time, but there are these moments when he sort of freezes, just fixing my eyes or hair for a moment and then he… I don’t know, it sounds stupid, but sometimes it’s like he’s not seeing me, but someone else reminding of me in some way. It doesn’t happen as much now, but in the beginning and when… when he hurt me that one time… I still don’t know what it was, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the cembalo.”
”The cembalo?”
”It’s not that he’s disapproving, but… I think that it makes him sad in one way or another.”

Billy looked at him with a strange gaze.

”I’m not really sure I’m the right person to bring this up, John, but if you can promise me not to tell James about this, I can reveal a little piece of the secret with the cembalo.”
”Of course I’m silent.”
”I know. Well, that cembalo wasn’t James’ from the beginning. It belonged to a woman called Miranda Hamilton.”
”Miranda Hamilton?”
”I don’t know anything about her, only that she and her husband Thomas Hamilton were close friends to James and that they both drowned on their journey here many years ago. I thought he’d told you.”

John shook his head.

”He’s never mentioned any of them.”
”Maybe he’ll tell you when he feels it’s the right time.”
”That’s why he hit me… I played on her instrument… Her notes.”
”He has portraits made of them. I’ve seen them, but I think he has locked them away somewhere.”
”How… How did they look?”
”He was blonde with blue eyes, she had dark, curly hair and brown eyes.”
”Oh, God…”

The realisation of it all was like having the last piece of a puzzle being put to place. John breathed fast, his heart was speeding up.

”He wanted someone who didn’t remind him of… Oh, God… Oh, God…”
”John, listen to me. James is very, very much in love with you and things you can’t do anything about happens to remind him of two other people he loved.”
”It’s not me he wants, it never was…”
”Yes, he does, John. Not at first, but you didn’t want him either, right?”
”No…”
”And I did’t want Ben and he certainly didn’t want me. But sometimes, such things change by time… And as a man who knows how it is having to conceal your feelings, I didn’t find it hard to read the looks he gave you. And Ben has no problem seeing the same thing in you.”

John blushed. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone in here is in love. It suits you. Being in love. He glared a little at Billy.

”You two see far too much.”
”Says the one who peeks into other peoples chambers at night.”
”Fuck…”

Billy grinned and John realised how pretty the man was when the harshness was replaced not only with care, but joy. John bit his lip.

”Things like these are… very new and still strange to me.”
”You’re right, I shouldn’t be teasing you. And please don’t be angry with James for not telling you about the Hamiltons.”
”What do you think he’d say if I told him you told me?”
”I’m still stronger than him, so should he pick a fight, I’ll just punch him harder this time. If you remember, he didn’t look very pretty for quite some time.”

John smiled and tapped his now empty cup.

”Believe me, Billy, I’ve got a long fucking memory.”

TBC

Chapter Text

He wasn’t angry or disappointed. Not even affronted. Keeping secrets, closing the door to hide things you wanted to have for yourself was something John had craved his whole life. Before Nassau he’d never had anything to call his own but his thoughts and feelings. All other things could be given to, but mostly taken away from him, except from that. The cook at the Ashe’s had once liked him by a mussel. John Silver was the skivvy who rarely spoke, but kept his ears and eyes opened. But no one knew anything about his life that he didn’t share with every other foundling. That he’d be left on a staircase to the foundlings home, an indication that his mother, whoever she was, didn’t have the heart to kill him. His name had been given to him from the name of the orphanage, St. John’s home for poor orphan boys and the name Silver was added because his mother had left a silver coin wrapped in a piece of paper, probably as a payment.

He’d stopped searching for comfort or closeness very early. He rarely cried, never screamed and was a quick learner. Or, as the head of the orphanaged called it: unnatural, wayward, cunning and rude. An ungrateful bastard with craving eyes and ungodly gypsy curls. He’d been starved. He’d lied with scrawny knees pressed to his ribs, trying to trick his empty stomach to believe it was something in it. He’d shared bed with three other boys, and as a matter of course, been given the place closest to the window, where the cold would stream down as icy rain during the long winter nights.

He was sitting by the dresser, combing his hair. What would a five or ten year old John Silver had said if someone told him that one day, he’d be sleeping on a thick feather mattress and satin sheets in a beautiful room where the sun would wake him up every morning, shining through thin curtains? That he would be married, not to a woman, but a man who’d be waiting for him in a land far away from England, where no cold or hunger would ever make him shiver and cry through the night. What would the young man, sleeping in the dark cellar on a thin mattress at the Ashe’s have said if someone had told him:

There’s a man grieving the love of his life far across the sea. He waited for him, but the sea took him. One day, you’ll be sent to him as a gift. He doesn’t know it yet, you’ll both resist it, you’ll be confused, scared and hurt each other, but as time goes by, you’ll discover things you yet can’t even dream about, John Silver.

The brush he used for his hair was made of ivory. His hair was longer than ever now, reaching down his shoulders in dark ringlets, partly tied back with a simple leather strap. He had a husband who cared for him, who he cared for and maybe Ben was right, maybe Billy was right too. But John hadn’t shared more than he felt forced to tell from his earlier life and he’d always hated when people weren’t content with stealing his food, warmth, clothes or hair, but also demanded his inner thoughts.

No, he wasn’t angry, disappointed or affronted. James had allowed him to keep his secrets with the books long since it was discovered. He’d been patient, caring, affectionate and John wouldn’t change his life with him for the world. To reward that by acting like the loss of loved ones was something John was entitled to, would be wrong. Yes, he felt shut out, but how would it be to see the eyes of someone you’d lost forever in a stranger’s face every day? To hear him play a tune you last heard another loved one play?

John put down the brush. His hair fell in thick ringlets down his shoulders. Miranda’s curls. His eyes, clearblue and bright, looked into the mirror. Thomas’ eyes. But he wasn’t Miranda or Thomas Hamilton. Their ghosts weren’t what James should see in his eyes and curls. He was John Silver with his thoughts and feelings, his own memories and desires. And for the first time in his more than thirty years long life, he was in love.

TBC

Chapter Text

”He’s asleep?”
”Well, you’re home very late.”
”It was a lot to discuss.”
”Yeah, I thought so.”
”He didn’t disturbe you?”

Billy just rolled his eyes as he closed the door behind them.

”James, please… You don’t have to act in front of me anymore. Your sweetheart is sleeping in the guestroom.”
”My what?”
”You heard me. And lower your voice. If you wake up my sweetheart I’ll commit mutiny, Captain. Good night.”

James murmured a good night and went to the guestroom. John, who wasn’t his sweetheart but his husband, was sleeping soundly in the bed, curled up like a cat with the thick curls in the usual mess on the pillow. James’ heart melted for about the hundred time from the sight, forgetting what had been said about his sweet… Oh, right.

He took his clothes off and washed up a little before he lay down beside his husband, who was warm and soft, relaxed in his sleep and smelling just like he should. A hint of soap and sweat, sunshine and gardening, sweetness and something that was just John. The man always slept in this position if he was alone in bed. With arms tucked around his legs, knees pressed hard against his chest as if he tried to keep himself warm. An old habit from another life where a warm bed hadn’t been something he counted on and the sight awoke every feeling of protection in James.

He spooned the warm, naked body and put an arm around the chest, tucking them both in. Earlier, John would’ve said his name partly asleep, to make sure it was him but now the man just wriggled back a little to get closer and entangled his fingers with James’ against his chest. He knew who it was, he wanted the closeness, wanted the touch. James’ searched for the neck and planted a kiss on the spine. He knew his husband’s body by now, but there were still questions he one day wanted to be answered. The almost invisible markings on legs and shoulders, the curled up position but most of all the fear.

John had been afraid for so long, it wasn’t until it the fear was almost gone, before James noticed the difference. Before he realised just how deep that fear had reached. The kind of fear that a life of loneliness, exposedness, hunger and cold lead to. A life where no comfort, no kindness or love had been offered. Where a human could be treated like an inconvenience, a burden, a tool. Where a man could be sold off like an animal, forced to yield for cruel laws and the powerful men’s desire for power and wealth. England had not treated John any better than it had treated Thomas and Miranda Hamilton, James McGraw, William Manderly or Benjamin Gunn. Old names belonging to an old life lost to them. But there’d been new life to find, for four of them. Safety, positions, friendship and even love.

A man who pretended to beat his husband, but refused to do it. Feelings growing slowly over time, a rose blooming again despite once being withered. A husband hiding his skills, another husband hiding his care to protect love. Proud men, rebels who put on a show of meekness and harshness, hiding the soft looks, the tender words and loving touches behind locked doors and closed shutters. Just like in England, only under a different form. Because what would happen to the world, if people learned that it was possible to live and love as equals? Without contracts or vows of obedience. Without the threat of violence. Where men and women could be allowed to be good.

But right now, good men and women were not what the moment required. The time called for dark men and women, to do dark things, in order to keep the light in their lives. Wheather it had golden locks or dark curls.

TBC

Chapter Text

His big, sappy husband was absolutely hopeless. Every time Ben as much as coughed he was there, looking like the Reeper was visiting. He practically force fed him, refused to let him leave bed for longer moments than half an hour and looked at visitors as if they were walking threats to Ben’s health, not allowing them more than a few minutes with him at a time. One afternoon when John was visiting and had tea in the chamber with him, it took a fucking eternity before Billy allowed them some time on their own and when he finally left, Ben sighed.

”Thank God! I’m not made of fucking china…”
”You almost died.”
”But I didn’t. Almost is pretty far from ’did die’, isn’t it? And it’s about time he knows what it feels like to stand helpless and not knowing if one’s to be a widower.”
”You’re a cruel man, Ben Gunn.”
”I take that as a compliment, John Silver. Please tell you have some rum?”

John just laughed.

”Are you trying to make Billy throw me out with my head first in the dunghill?”
”Well, I need some amusement…”

He was tired. So fucking tired and John saw it, he could tell. Ben wasn’t used to feel this exhausted and useless and it was unnerving to say the least. He couldn’t embroider because his eyes were too tired and he only managed carving for short moments. Instead he knitted. He could do it without even looking at the knits and Billy had bought lots of yarn for him, probably more out of kindness than actual need for more knitted clothes. John took up one of the many balls of yarn and looked at it with skepticism.

”There are like… fifty of them, Ben.”
”I know. You need a new blanket for the bed? Or a cloak, perhaps?”
”No, thank you. Make a pair of trousers for Billy, in English colours.”

Ben giggled and shook his head.

”And you call me cruel. How are things going on with your Captain, by the way?”
”Good.”
”And?”
”And what?”
”John, I’ve spent an eternity in this bed with a muscled mother hen watching over me, making sure I don’t have too much fun so the biggest news I’ve heard in two weeks have been about DeGroots new scarecrow and that Esther’s pregnant.”
”She is?”
”Third month, so I figured I could make something for the little one.”
”You know, sometimes you’re so good you make me feel sick.”

Ben just laughed.

”Come on now, John, I have to spend my time here in some way. Why don’t you give me some gossip from your bed chamber.”
”Hey!”
”Just kidding, just kidding… Your cheeks tells me all I need to know anyway. I’m very happy for both of you.”

John blushed. Most of their nights were nothing but sweetness now and during those few nights when they couldn’t sleep together like husbands, he longed for it. Longed for James, body and soul. For his eyes, his smile, the lovely freckles and scraping beard. John’s long hours of sword practicing with Anne Bonny had been extended with riding lessons as well and James had more than once expressed his admiration for the muscles John’s thighs had started to develope from all the exercise.

He was faster, stronger and steadier on his feet than ever before and it showed as much as it felt. John wasn’t the only one to get sword lessons from Anne Bonny these days. It was never said out loud, but he’d seen other indoor spouses who had suspiciously similar bruises on their wrists as himself –and various difficulties not to limp. The lessons with Anne Bonny had decreased a bit and instead, John was sent to no other than Charles Vane to – and he could hardly fucking believe it – wrestle. At first, he’d refused just as with the swording lessons, only to get one the rare gazes that meant his husband wouldn’t take no for an answer. And so, twice every week John went to bed with sore muscles and bruised skin from Vane’s iron fists, once with aching thighs from the saddle and once with smaller sword cuts here and there.

Of course, being the gentle husband James was, he’d always make a hot, soothing bath for him on those evenings, and patiently listen to all John’s whining, cursing and pouting. Other days, John was sent to Joji, learning how to sharpen swords and knives, while DeGroot taught him about ships and battles at sea. All this was strange, very strange indeed, but John didn’t have it in him to question something that his husband so firmly refused to discuss. He didn’t like the secrecy, but since he learned a lot and realised he learned from the best, it would be highly ungrateful and a waste of time to question it or start nagging when it was already doomed. On some rare occasions, his husband didn’t only expect, but actually demanded absolute obedience and rebellious at heart or not, long years of being forced to obey weren’t as easily wiped out.

There was something within John Silver that craved this kind of obedience. It made him relax and feel trust, as long as James would make up for the lack of information and the amount of pain in John’s muscles, in one way or another. As the weeks past by, John mastered a new level of pouting that almost drove James mad. But since John was obedient, diligent and didn’t ask for more information than his husband was willing to give him, James had to endure his pouting and whining. And a lot of their evenings were spent with James giving him massage and hot baths, indulging him with sweets and, when John felt especially sore and couldn’t fuck – fellatio.

”John? Are you still here…?”
”Wha…what?”

He came back to Ben’s and Billy’s bed chamber and the man knitting in the bed. Ben looked both amused and quizzical.

”You’re staring worse than Joji when he’s displeased with a sword’s egde, John. What’s going on under those curls?”
”Nothing.”
”Nothing has freckles and a long coat, I guess.”

Ben smiled, but his hands moved much slower now and his eyes were a bit glassy. John looked at the door.

”I think you’d better stop knitting now, Ben, before Billy sees how tired you are.”
”What’s he gonna do? Yell at me while I’m asleep?”
”Or confiscate your knits and stop all visitors, perhaps?”

Billy stood in the doorway, looking quite amused and Ben glared at him.

”Longing for haggis and bean pottage, husband?”
”Longing for another week in bed, my dear?”
”I’d like to see you try.”
”I can borrow a shackle or two from The Walrus.”

Ben threw a defiant look at his husband and put down his knitting. He was far more tired than he wanted to admit and John rose.

”I think I’d better be going now. Good to see you’re better, Ben.”

He gave his friend a kiss on his forehead and  gave Billy a warm smile. The giant man still looked quite amused and as he turned to look at his highly displeased husband, his blue eyes went all soft. John quickly took his leave, to avoid a scene that would make all three of them blush.

TBC

Chapter Text

”How are things proceeding?”
”Slow.”
”Good.”
”How’s that good, Jack?”
”Because, Chaz, that means  we’re discrete and since we don’t have to worry about time, we can build up the army in our own speed with less risk of getting discovered.”

The scrawny man poured himself and his friends another drink. They had the meeting around Rackham’s sickbed this evening and for the first time in weeks, Billy had attended as well. Ben felt a lot better now even if he was still in bed and his husband had decided John could keep him company for a few hours.

James Flint had never been very fond of either Rackham or Vane, but he reluctantly had been forced to change his opinon of them. Despite being known as a blabbermouth and dandy, Rackham was quicker than most to realise what was important and the amount of his ability to read other people, both friends and enemies, was sometimes a bit scary. Vane on the other hand was more impatient, but not at all impossible to deal with as long as you didn’t fell for his teasing. When things really mattered, both men could put all unnecessairy things aside. Max, who was sitting in a comfy chair, smutting on some wine, cleared her throat.

”Idelle’s kept counting of the soldiers' visits at the inn for some time now and her most trusted girls and boys have found out an interesting way to make them talk more.”
”And what’s that?”

James generally didn’t like the idea of too many people involved, since it always increased the risk of wrong information reaching the wrong ears, but Max looked calm.

”It’s quite simple, really, and very hard to discover. She’s made some of the liqour stronger and the girls are very particular on which customer is served wich kind of rum.”

Vane snickered.

”That’s fucking brilliant.”
”She’s a clever woman. Right now she’s found out that quite many of the soldiers are a bit displeased with both salaries and a certain Captain Hume.”

James scratched his beard.

”The salary issue is nothing new. Soldiers always want more to risk their lives for a cause they mostly don’t understand. What’s the problem with Hume, besides that the people don’t like him?”

Max took a sip of her wine.

”He’s tried to ban visits to mollies back in Tortuga among his men.”

Anne and Jack both laughed and Billy shook his head.

”What an idiot.”
”And that’s what we’re gonna use, Bones.”
”How?”
”By sending one of you to Tortuga and try to convince enough skilled and pretty mollies to take employment here, of course.”

James nodded. It wasn’t a bad idea, not at all. In fact, it was brilliant. There was but one problem.

”The best mollies are expensive and to be honest, I don’t like the idea of buying them from their pimps like a slave trader.”
”Not even if they’ll make more money with less trouble?”

Rackham rose his eyebrows.

”And how are we gonna pay them without raising suspicion and even more important: with what will we pay them?”
”That’s the beautiful part, Jack. We wont pay them, at least not from our pockets.”

Eleanor, who’d been quiet during most of the meeting, gave a dangerous smile.

”We’re not paying them a single piece of eight. England will. We have a wildcard no one will count on. A man who’s face and colors are unknown to England.”
”Who?”
”Ned Low.”

James starred at the woman.

”Ned Low? Have you lost your mind?”
”Not in the least, Captain.”
”He was banned from the island by your father under pain of death.”
”Well, my father’s dead and I doubt anyone’s missing him. Ned Low can do something you, Bonny, Vane or Teach can’t. He can sail under an unknown banner and take what we need from England, France or Spain without raising any suspicion towards us.”

Rackham twisted his moustache.

”And what would he get in return?”
”What he loves more than anything: blood.”
”While we’re sitting here, telling the governor how angry we are with Low for disturbing the peace treaty…”
”Exactly.”

It was a dangerous plan, James realised. Brilliant, but dangerous, to unleash a man like Ned Low. It could go wrong, very wrong, but the Irish captain was the only one who’d refused the peace treaty and kept plundering. And there was another weakness.

”Why would Low want to help us now? He despised us all for signing the peace treaty, so what’s in it for him?”
”Low’s not been able to sell his plunder for three months. His men are stubborn and loyal, but they need to eat and by offering Low an opportunity to keep his way of living, giving England what it deserves and avoiding the risk of mutiny among his men while providing them with better weapons and tips on plunders, I think they can be persuaded.”

Eleanor was right. She was raised on this island and no one knew the minds of it’s citizens, pirates and visitors better than she did. James nodded.

”I think it’s worth a try. At least we can be sure that Low wont betray us. How’s the combat training proceeding, by the way?”

Everyone turned to Anne, who was sitting on a stool next to Jack’s bedpost and hadn’t uttered a word yet. She shrugged.

”Not bad, I must say. But we have to make proper trousers for the women. Right now they’re practising in borrowed men’s clothes or by scooting up their skirts and that makes’em slower due to all the extra fabrics.”

Max nodded.

”Bring them to me, one at a time and discrete, and I’ll have my girls take measures for more fitting clothes. I cannot point out enough the importance of discretion and patience here, ladies and gentlemen. If any of you believe your or someone elses indoor spouse is unfit for this, due to their physics or lack of strenght in their minds, you can’t let it bypass. One loose tongue can be our doom in this operation and I’m no stranger to turn a ship or two into a floating prison for those who could be a threat to this. Is everyone clear on that?”

Billy, who was leaning against the wall, crossed his giant arms.

”As far as I’m concearned, there will be nothing but adherence to the principle that we are, none of us, safe until we are all safe. This is not a war for money, plunder or a king, but for ourselves and all the people of Nassau who want true freedom.”

The others just nodded, there was no need for an addition to that and Rackham simply rose his cup.

”Amen to that.”

TBC

Chapter Text

When Billy brought him here, it didn’t feel like coming home. But no place had been home to Ben for long years so nothing was new about that. The weeks he’d been at the inn after the auktion had left him off. He’d closed his mind and heart to the fear, the sorrow over lost brothers and the humiliation. Nassau was not a new place to him and he was treated fairly well at the inn, compared to the one in Tortuga. But he hated the way the visitors looked at him, as if he was an animal. An ox or a horse to be inspected.

To be a molly was hardly preferable, but cooking for the guests was almost good in comparison. Not that it felt like that. Ben had never been special to anyone and for the first time, that felt good. He disappeared among the more lively mollies and tried to do his best in he kitchen and with the serving, staying as invisible as possible. Then, one evening, two different crews were staying at the inn and one of the topics among both gatherings, was the new marriage treaty and the fact that one couldn’t open up a business in Nassau without being married. One man and two women had already made inquiries about Ben and when the women found he held no interest for ladies at all, there was only one bidder left.

Singleton was a man with shaved head, hard eyes and even harder hands. Squeezing, slapping and grabbing Ben whenever he had the chance. There had been a tall, broad man with blue eyes and short hair, no beard, who’d looked at him as well, but never made any advances. He seemed young, but even older men treated him with respect. And he didn’t treat the whores and mollies badly either. He was courteous, quiet, kept his hands to himself and didn’t drink himself halfdead. He didn’t seem interested in getting himself a spouse or even a fuck.

When the Madame came to tell Ben he was about to get married, he was sure it was one the greesy bastards who’d put their hands on him who’d bought him and he remembered wanting to kill himself before being dragged to an altar or whatever they used here. One of the other men who’d already become a molly, asked him what the fuck he had to look so dull about, since he’d been lucky enough to get the notorious bachelor Billy Bones, who wasn’t only respected, but actually both clean and decent, as a husband:

”When he found out that man Singleton wanted you, he asked what he’d offered and then he made it double! Double, Gunn!”

No man or woman had been bought for a prize that high and despite that and the relief of not having to work as a whore or end up with Singleton, Ben didn’t feel very grateful. Billy Bones was as intimidating as he was pretty and had the biggest arms Ben had ever seen. He was six foot five, making Ben feel small with his five foot eleven and that was a most unwelcome feeling. The madame and a couple of men, probably to make sure Ben didn’t escape, took him to the townhouse in Nassau where Billy Arms – which Ben called him in silence – waited and hardly looked like a happier groom than Ben. But unlike him, Billy didn’t cry and Ben hated himself for not being able to stop.

There he was with a ring on his finger, a leather collar around his neck proclaiming he was Billy Bones’ indoor spouse and the contract had been signed. Non of the other disgusting men or women who’d wanted him could touch him now which Billy made very clear as they were going home and an unknown man who apparently knew him, gave Ben a slap on his ass, commenting what a ”fine piece of meat” Billy’d come across. Ben’s intimidating husband decked the man with a single fist, turned to Ben and said he was sorry he had to come across such a rude asshole.

Billy’s home was very simple and with few furniture, as if he wasn’t plan on actually living there, but at least it was clean and the bed had clean sheets. Billy’d tried to talk to him. He had a low, quite soft voice and his eyes weren’t hard or spiteful. He didn’t touch him or used hard words. Instead he made some heated wine, made a fire and promised Ben they didn’t have to share beds until he was ready, a kindness that only made him cry again. They slept next to each other in the bed for two nights, but by then Billy’d have enough sleep deprivation and got himself a bed he put in the second room, leaving Ben alone in bed to give them both some much needed sleep.

He was a kind man. Harsh in public but never when they were alone. He gave compliments for Ben’s cooking, needlework and other housework tasks. He never talked harshly to him, avoided criticism and made it clear from the beginning there would be no beating. He didn’t drink too much, was lettered and seemed to appreciate a man who didn’t acted like his crew. And when Ben found out he’d never had cinnamon buns and asked if Billy perhaps would like to try them, the man declared he’d readily try anything Ben could cook and give him the money needed to make whatever he wanted to do. The first time Ben made him wheat buns with sugar and cinnamon, served with rich tea as a dessert during a midday meal, Billy had kissed him on the cheek before returning to town and when he came back for the night, he’d bought Ben a new comb.

That’s how their intimacy began. With cinnamon buns, tea, a kiss on cheek and an ivory comb. With a husband who wasn’t harsh at all unless they were in public, and never treated him with anything but patience and kindness. And after some weeks of Billy combing his hair, kissing his cheek and allowing him all the space needed, Ben started to relax. The collar made him untouchable when he moved around Nassau, the home became more comfortable as Billy more or less gave him free hands to buy whatever they needed and he didn’t flinch as much when Billy touched him. He even came to miss him when he was away.

Space, kindness and patience. Those were the things that made the fear slowly melt, that made Ben long not only for his husband’s company, but actual closeness. Billy was a very pretty man and Ben’s fear had nothing to do with the marital act in itself, he’d fucked and been fucked before, but for this specific man and the fact that the whole situation still felt so strange. And as with everything else, Billy was patient. Ben easily got a bit cold in the evenings and Billy would make him heated wine and fetch a blanket for him. Then, one evening, he simply asked if he could hold him.

The fact that it was a question was almost more strange than the actual question itself and Ben just nodded. He ended up leaning back against his husband’s chest by the fire, knees covered by a blanket and a cup with heated wine in his hand. It was one of Ben’s sweetest memories, the first time he’d dared to lean back and actually feel his husband’s embrace. And when he’d shivered a little, Billy’d kissed his hair and said that he didn’t have to be afraid. That he thought Ben was the sweetest husband one could ever wish for and that he wanted to know what he could do to make life a little easier for him. There would be no demands from his side about the physical side of this arrangement, but he wanted Ben to know that he very much appreciated everything he did in the household and should Ben wish to share his bed, even if only in terms of sleeping, he’d be happy.

It took several nights after the offer until Ben dared to take it and lay down fully dressed next to his husband, who’d kept his trousers on but no shirt and offered an amount of bodyheat not even Ben’s shivers of fear could resist. And now, more than four years later, Ben loved the man who held him in his arms. He’d loved him for a very long time and Billy loved him. Home was Billy combing his hair by the fire, telling about his day and asking about his. Home was sitting nestled in Billy’s arms while reading to him in highly exaggerated Scottish accent, making the big man giggle and nuzzling his neck. It was sleeping in his embrace, safe and happy, knowing that the kindness had grown to love and that whatever plans his husband was involved with, he’d never go through them without counting on Ben by his side. And so Ben didn’t ask about the meetings he knew Billy attended to, and Billy on his side knew to value, admire and take great comfort in the level of trust his once so skittish husband showed him.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Please, not that…”

His fingers went numb, his throat tightened and the fear came back. He couldn’t turn around, he was sitting as he was on the stool, his hands not touching the keys anymore.

”Any song but that one, John.”

He didn’t know why he was afraid. Maybe it was the fact that he’d not heard James entering the salon, or due to the low, strained voice. The tone made his neck stiff, his muscles preparing for lowering down, taking cover, get some protection before it was too late. He forgot his fighting skills, forgot the safety and the kindness, his own strenght and James’ loving hands. All he knew was that he’d done something he  shouldn’t have done, except no one had told him not to.

”John? Husband?”

Who did James see when he was looking at him by the door? When he was walking in on John with steps so soft they were almost mute? And In Nomine IX by John Bull was suddenly… forbidden?

”I love to hear you play, but not that song.”
”Would… would you like me to play something else, husband?”
”I’d love to, John.”

Greensleaves. James had never heard him play it. And certainly not sing it. John didn’t know why he started singing. It was low but on tone. He knew he could sing, but he’d never done that in front of anyone. Two verses in, his voice suddenly died, his hands grew still.

”Don’t stop, Miranda. It’s beautiful.”

Miranda. The air went thick and John’s chest felt too small for his lungs.

”Who was she? The woman you see in my place… And the man who’s eyes I have…”
”John…”
”I know it’s not me you’re seeing or hearing, husband.”

Not me you want.

”Every man has a past, John. A lost love…”
”I don’t.”

His voice was cold now. Calm and emotionless.

”I was no one. And then I was sent to Tortuga, you married me and I became something else.”
”John…”
”Did you hear me play that day? When you put me over your lap…”

Emotionless in his voice, but not inside.

”Yes.”
”I was trespassing…”
”John, dearest…”
”I know you have a past, husband and I would be a fool to fault you for that. No one has ever treated me so kindly as you. The life you’ve given me is beyond anything I could ever imagine and I would do anything you ask of me.”
”I know that.”
”But I can’t be them. With her hair and his eyes… I’m not a shadow from the past.”
”Be silent. You know nothing about them, you’re not to speak about them.”

The warmth in James’ voice was gone. The room felt cold, contaminated.

”I’ve given you a life you, as you say yourself, couldn’t even dream about and yet you feel entitled to more?”

His husband sounded spiteful, despising. A voice John had never heard from him before and he didn’t dare to look at him, to move. His neck was sore, his whole body tense and he was once again a slave. A thing, a burden, a gift to be handled in whatever way his owner wanted to.

”I’m not ungrateful, husband. I’d be heartbroken if I gave that impression. I just… want to understand what you see when you… look at me like that.”
”I see an indoor husband who’s forgotten his place and need to learn it again.”
”I ask for forgiveness, husband and I promise to do better.”
”Good. As a punishment you’re not allowed to play anymore. You understand?”
”Yes, husband.”
”Now leave this room.”

John immediately rose and left, without daring to look at his husband. He went outside, to the garden. It was late and he walked down to one of the bigger trees and climbed up. When he was seated comfortable and safely hidden in the leves, he let his tears flow as they wished. He’d allowed himself be fooled by the kindness. The remorse James had showed him after the beating. The reverance in his eyes and hands. The ecstacy when they made love. Oh, yes, James Flint was in love, but not with John Silver. And nothing, no beating, cold, hunger, loneliness or hard words John had received in his life, had hurt more.

TBC

Chapter Text

He’d been mean again. He’d hurt the man he loved, the man he didn’t intend to hurt, didn’t want to love. The pain in John’s eyes had been impossible to avoid without telling him to leave the room. So he had. And his husband was once again confused and hurt. The difference now was that he didn’t seek for James’ forgiveness, comfort or even explanations. Instead he pulled back, in every way but one.

No matter the lack of explanations or even talk at all, John still gave in for carnal pleasures. Not submissively or even subtile, but it was obvious that the man’s urges weren’t easily put to rest once woken. And James was so weak for him. He didn’t dare to slap him as before, as John once had asked of him and felt safe from. Instead, whenever John put his hands on the table, James would fuck him. Not without permission, he wasn’t a rapist, but they didn’t use words.

And John opened up for him so naturally, it was impossible to resist. The man was intoxicating. The curls had grown longer and was kept in place in half a ponytail and he’d let his beard grow just enough to cover his chin neatly. The once malnourished, thin body was now as muscled as any crewman’s from long hours of heavy work in the garden, the field and the house. He handled tools, repaired roofs and doors, chopped piles of wood and spent long hours practising fighting and swimming. He worked hard without whining about it and to resist that firm ass being offered when John put his hands on the table and spread his legs was more than James could find himself to resist.

He would get behind him, open the man’s belt and buttons, tug the trousers down, now sitting so perfectly snug over the ass, round and muscled from all the horse riding, and thighs hard from hours of practising. James would work him up roughly, but never to make it actually painful. He knew his husband’s body and how he needed to be touched to open up. And the man showed it, as well. He pressed back, clenched and released in a way that could drive James mad with lust, teasing him relentlessly until James would take what he wanted and pound into him, hard and deep.

To make it worse, keeping John’s hands down to prevent him from touching his own cock, didn’t seem to make it any harder for the man to reach climax. Ever since coming together in full for the first time, John’s natural urges had been fiercely unleashed and seemed to take James’ call to ”take his pleasure” literally. The man crawled under his skin without even realising it and left James feeling more powerless than ever before, so he turned mean.

It wasn’t even deliberately. Just slightly accusing or scornful comments about anything from John’s appearence to his work efforts. Nothing seemed to please James anymore and everytime he realised he’d critisized John again, he despised himself and felt ashamed. His husband was grace and beauty, intelligence, virtue and diligence.  And the more he did to please James, the more the distance seemed to grow between them. Because one thing was painfully clear: John would never be able to share things with him on a deeper level. He tried, but when it happened, all James could see before him was Thomas and Miranda. He’d even called John by her name… And even if his husband wasn’t aware of showing it, the pain of not being seen for who he was, had been written all over his face, hurting him far deeper than anything else had.

James told himself it was for a good purpose. The fact that John enjoyed their bodily intimacy, that he was a very skilled indoor husband and was increasing his battle skills in a very satisfying way and did anything to please James, had nothing to do with love. It was something, it was more than lust, fear, kindness or comfort, but John was simply impossible to read beyond a certain limit and that made James feel insecure and exposed. Pushing away, pretending it would make John stronger and learn to handle things on his own, was a way to deal with it, even if it meant that he constantly hurt the man. And not to mention, a fucking impossible fight to win against a man who’d been alone his whole life.

When John had been ignorant about the way of life here, afraid and confused in an unknown environment, he’d shown weakness, trust and a need for comfort in his own way, leaving James a small passage to his heart and mind, but now that door was closed. John Silver asked for nothing but doing his duty as a husband, and kept his thoughts, feelings and urges safely locked behind his calm, lenient surface. The people of Nassau may be preparing a war, but England seemed to be a far easier nut to crack, than John Silver.

TBC

Chapter Text

To know when you’re reaching a limit, you must be allowed limits to begin with. John Silver’s limits were all about how much he physically could take before being worn out. But his heart had never been anything but a muscle making him work, at least it had never been seen as anything else. Before Nassau he’d never known about friendship, love or lust. He’d not known what it was like to belong to someone, to be someone to another person and now he cried for not knowing what was requested of him.

Yes, he cried again. He’d climbed up in one the trees in the garden, and covered by the green crown and the silent night he buried his face in his hands and cried like he was about to burst. It was completely different from the tears he’d shared from fear, emotional exhaustion or when his body adjusted to not having the chastising tea. It wasn’t tears out of cold, hunger or beating. He felt humiliated, but most of all once again thrown out on uncharted seas, expected to know the waters and being mocked at for not navigating correctly. He’d shown weakness but it wasn’t enough. James didn’t like what he saw and John could feel it with every inch in his body. He was tired. His mind and heart were anxious and exhausted from the tension and he wanted to be alone, not having to feel ashamed. And no one could own a tree. Not even the fucking ginger who’s garden it grew on.

”Husband, come down…”
”Fuck you.”

That alone gave James every right to simply grab him, pull him down to the ground and beat him senseless, but John was past caring about such things now and James didn’t seem to want to climb up after him – or tear him down either. Instead, the fucking ginger sat down by the foot of the tree.

”You’re acting like an idiot.”
”Yeah, why not? That’s what I am, right?”
”You can be smart when you want to, you just choose to show your most stupid side now.”
”I’m choosing to be an idiot? Thank you, asshole.”
”John…”
”Yeah, I know. Public whipping, cutting my fucking hair. Go ahead, I’ll heal and it’ll grow out. It’s grown out before.”
”Why are you suddenly acting like a fucking street urchin?”
”Maybe because I am one, you asshole?! You married a fucking scivvy boy, Captain! Where the fuck did you think I came from? What do you think I expected from life?”

He jumped down, suddenly so angry from the ignorance he didn’t care about being punished or seen crying. He grabbed James’ coat, yelling to his face:

”What the fuck did you think I expected from life, James? My mother left me as a newborn on the staircase at the foundlings home S:t John’s in a blanket, with a silver coin wrapped in a piece of paper. I was named John after the place and Silver for the coin. One bastard kid among hundreds of others, named after an institution and a whore who didn’t have the decency or heart to drown me. It used to snow on my bed in the winters, for fucks sake! I was told the Devil lived in my hair, that I had gypsy curls and they shaved me and sold the hair to a wig maker. I was beaten black and blue for even fucking existing and I still have scars!”

John was furious and he pressed James to the tree.

”Our wedding dinner was the first time I ate until I was full, James! Some days at the Ashe’s I had more cock and cunt than food in my mouth… This… the life you’ve given me is so far beyond anything I could imagine I still have to pinch myself sometimes. You… you can’t fucking expect me to be like someone else I can’t possibly compete with! Some noble people who’ve had their portraits painted. I’ve never asked for anything but predictability and all the things I have in my life that are good, I have thanks to you… If I’m not your husband, I’m no one, for Gods sake! I was a thing to be sold, nothing more… What you ask of me… I don’t even know what it is, James. This isn’t about food and shelter, protection or fucking, husband. It’s about me not knowing what you want of me. Who you’re seeing in my place.”
”I don’t see anyone but you.”
”Yes, you are! Your eyes change sometimes when you’re looking at me. I know I’m not what you wanted and I understand you have memories I have no part in, but please, don’t treat me like I’m stupid.”

He’d been pushed too far. John Silver had a limit and it was reached now.

”Don’t you realise how… how impossible it is to know who you want me to be? To be compared with people you chose? I can’t choose so stop fucking treat me like my opinion matters, when you’re not asking for it! And I don’t care if you trash my back or shave me. You’ve made it clear that you don’t like what you see, so maybe it’s better if you make some improvements. All I know is that I could live without all this luxuary, and that I’d probably be too stupid not to survive without you bodily. I’d just obey whoever who’d buy me, like a stupid dog, but I’d never be happy again. I’d miss you every waking moment, I’d never want anyone else and I’d feel half for the rest of my fucking life. And if that’s what it is to love someone, then I guess I really fucking love you, James Flint.”

He loosened his grip and sank down to his knees, suddenly empty for words and emotions and far beyond caring for the consequenses. He just cried. James took his coat off and draped around the exhausted, trembling form that now was John’s body and then pulled him close.

”I loved Miranda and I loved Thomas. I loved them more than anything in the world.”

The words made the tears increase and he wet James’ shirt with them, still too shocked by the situation to know what to expect. The man he’d just yelled at like an insane person, rocked him slowly and kissed his curls.

”I will tell you about them, John, but not tonight. I’ll only say one thing. Just because I loved them it doesn’t mean I love you any less.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”I was an lieutenant in the Royal Navy. I came from a simple background, my father was a carpenter but he made sure I was lettered. My mother died when I was born and my childhood and upbringing was pretty much as any other child’s, I suppose, with the difference that I was a bit educated. My father made all sorts of furniture and one day an admiral came to ask him to do a wedding gift for his bride to be.”

It was before dawn and the two men were sitting in the kitchen. Neither could sleep and over a cup of floral tea by the cooking fire, the Captain told his story with low voice.

”My father made a small cabin with glass doors and ornaments and the admiral and his wife were so pleased with it, they asked if they could do him a favor, apart from the payment. My father asked if I could be allowed to try for a career in the Navy, and I was.”

The Captain’s husband was curled up on the chair, holding his cup between both hands, while listening in silence to the man.

”After many years, my father died in fever and I sold the business, since I was a captain by then. I’d made myself a career, money, an honorable name and friends. My closest friends were Thomas and Miranda Hamilton and together with another friend, we became involved with the pirate issue. Thomas, who was an idealist if ever there was one, wanted to work out a pardon for the pirates in Nassau and I was working with him on that. The third man, our friend back then, was Peter Ashe.”
”Peter Ashe…”
”Yes, him. I’ll come back to him later. Anyhow, what happened was that I, well, fell in love.”
”With Thomas…”
”And Miranda.”
”You mean…?”
”Yes, we had a relationship all three of us. It had to be kept a secret, of course, and for a long time it was, but then someone betrayed us and we had to leave London. Since I was in grater danger at that moment, I left in a hurry the same day we found out about the treason and they were supposed to come after and they did… But they never reached Nassau. It was a storm one night and…”
”God…”

John Silver was shocked and he squeezed his cup hard between his palms, not noticing it was getting cold. The Captain sighed.

”I lost them both, John, and many months later I received a letter from Thomas’ father, declaring I was persona non grata in London, that he knew all about the affair and that it was my fault his son was lost.”
”How… how did he found out about…?”
”Peter Ashe.”
”What?”

The Captain nodded.

”He told about us to gain a better position in politics, among people who didn’t like Thomas’ liberal ideas, and he succeded.”
”And you became… a pirate?”
”One of the most notorious. After a while, a pact was made between me, Vane, Blackbeard, Rackham, Hornigold and Low. With six notorious pirate captains fighting together and England, France and Spain fighting both each other and us at the same time, we came to a stalemate. We signed a peace treaty with England and became privateers in exchange for keeping our island and way of living. Sort of.”
”The marriages…”
”Yes. It seemed like the best option at the time. Imagine, the first society allowing the kind of love so many had been harrased, persecuted, imprisoned and even killed for…  But there was a problem. You know that in a traditional marriage, the wife must obey her husband?”
”Yes.”
”Well, that was their last demand. We could keep our sinful way of living, if we submitted it to their ideas of a marriage. No eqaulity. And above that, the law that forbid us to have positions as captains, quartermasters or have our own business for more than a year if we remain bachelors.”
”You… you truly had to marry?”

James Flint made a grimaze.

”I had to, Billy had to, we all had to if we had our homes in Nassau and suddenly time was running out for me. I prolonged it as long as possible and then I made that… headless request, hoping it would be impossible to find me a spouse. I asked for a man with dark hair and any eyecolor but blue. An Englishman… I guess it was my way of mocking the country who’d taken everything from me, by asking for a willing man – the upper class is full of men and women getting away with the crime I was banished for – and I thought it would be a suitable punishment…”
”So that was what I was supposed to be…”

John Silver seemed numb and James Flint laughed. A hard, bitter sound.

”I never for a moment thought they’d actually find a man, because I couldn’t imagine them searching for one among those who couldn’t choose. Peter Ashe, who of course had no idea that the notorious Captain Flint was the same man he’d once betrayed, probably didn’t think about it twice when Woodes Rogers contacted him. A chance to lick the governors ass by only sending a pretty boy across the sea… When I saw you in the townhouse, I was stunned, John. I’d been raging for weeks and then you were standing there, shaking and crying only a door away from the altar and I realised what I’d done. I’ve despised myself since that day, John, and I’ve been cruel to you.”
”No, you havent…”
”Yes, I have. You’re right about what I’ve seen. For a long time I saw Thomas’ eyes everytime I met your gaze and I was unable to find a way to tell you exactly what a cruel trick I’d played on you. Instead I let you take the burden of my guilt… I can’t imagine how frightened you must’ve been sometimes.”
”I was used to it, James.”
”That’s no excuse. I never expected you to want me, sharing any intimacy or even wanting to spend time with me, John. I’ve been harsh on you to… to give you a way out.”
”What?”
”I figured you, for obvious reasons, was very unhappy with the arrangement and I thought it… well, was a bad idea to decrease the distance. I wanted you to not miss me, not need me, John, so I could find you a better spouse.”
”You… you wanted to get rid of me?!”

The horror of that thought almost made John drop his cup and James took his hand.

”For a time, yes. I could see you were unhappy and that you didn’t want intimacy. And you were young, you could get a beautiful, capable outdoor wife and have children… That was my plan, as soon as you were more settled and felt comfortable and strong.”
”Then why didn’t you?”
”Because I’m selfish. I’d already lost two people I loved and I didn’t want to loose another. But more than that, because I couldn’t stand the thought of putting you through something like that again. You’ve never been a tool for me to use, John. A part of me has wished for nothing but keeping you safe and happy since the first time I laid my eyes on you. And I thought the best way to do it, was to keep my distance…”

James rubbed his thumb over his husband’s cheek.

”I love you, John. I’ve loved you for so long and all I seem to be able to do, is hurting you. Again and again… I never wanted to force a man to the altar and I’ve mourned my lost love for years. Never for a moment think that I wish you away, or that I want to see someone else when I’m looking at you, John. I wouldn’t trade you for the world. If I would wake up tomorrow and have them back in my arms and you’d be gone, I’d be as devestated as when the sea took them. I’d see you in Thomas’ eyes, in Mirandas curls. You’re not a replacement, John. You’re your own, unique and fantastic person and I’d want no other man or woman by my side.”
”Then I guess lord Ashe’s plan backfired.”
”How so?”
”Because I don’t want anyone but you either.”

The tea had long since went cold and the older man took the cup from his husband’s hand. The sun would rise soon, their secrets were out in the light and they’d survived the night.

”We’ve been strangers to each other for so long, John, and that’s my fault. I counted your for far less than you were capable of and I promise I’ll never underestimate you again, or let you carry the burden of my ghosts. I can’t express enough how much I regret all the hard words and the way I’ve treated you, when you’ve shown me nothing but strenght and gentleness in return… If you want my heart, it’s yours in full and I wont ask for anything in return but a chance to do things right.”
”You… you don’t want my love?”
”More than anything, but I’ve not earned it, John.”
”I don’t think love is something one can earn, James. It… it just seem to be.”

James sighed and hold his hand out. John immeditely left his chair and curled up in his arms.

”You’re mine, James. You get that? And if you love me, I’ll forgive you anything.”
”Oh, John…”

There were hands clutching for closeness, begging for forgiveness already given. Tears falling down John’s neck, watering the English December rose who’d been left to dry out for so long. And when the green eyes met the blue ones, when the hand pulled through the dark curls, all the eyes saw, all the hands could feel, was John Silver.

TBC

Chapter Text

He’d not been at sea since the journey from Tortuga and it seemed like an eternity had passed. One of the first things John noticed, was how different his body reacted this time. A year and a half ago, he’d been a landlubber if ever there was one, and far too frightened to enjoy any beauty the sea could offer. Together with Ben and some other indoor spouses – Esther, Holmes’ wife whos hair had regrown a few inches by now was one of them – John was heading to Ocracoke Island. Of course, he didn’t know that since he was blindfolded.

To be fair, James had taken it off after a while, but John still didn’t like it. He could just’ve stayed below deck if it was so fucking important he didn’t know the route or even the place he was going to. Ben and Esther didn’t seem to be offended by this as all and spent their time knitting and stitching, talking housework and sharing tips about cooking.

Esther, who’d avoided the public like plague since her disgraceful punishment, lit up in Ben’s company and John could certainly understand that. He had Ben to thank for a lot of things. All the practical help with tutoring and getting to know the indoor life, of course, but most of all the man’s kindness and friendship. The bonnet he’d made for Esther had been very appriciated and the woman had thanked John too, claiming the embroideries made people stop and admire her instead of remembering the humiliation.

Passing time like this, listening to stories and feeling the fresh wind in the hair didn’t remind John of captivity or danger, but he was no fool. He understood more than well why the indoor spouses had been blindfolded and ordered to stay below deck for a part of the journey. They were not on an official mission, on the account or a joyride, but the fact that indoor spouses used to be invited to a trip with their outdoor spouses crew sometimes, was a perfect cover-up for whatever the plan was.

Asking too many questions was not a good idea, John assumed. In his past, he’d avoided that not to get punished, but he wasn’t afraid of punishments anymore. Not from his husband. He trusted James and was intelligent enough to realise there was a good reason for keeping him and the other indoor spouses unaware of certain things. Knowledge was power after all, but a man or woman who didn’t possess knowledge that could end up being a weapon for an enemy, couldn’t give the wrong information away. By keeping them partly oblivious, their outdoor spouses tried to keep them safe.

Eme, one of the outdoor wives who’d recently joined the crew, had brought her indoor husband Dufresne with her and they made a quite odd couple, John thought. Eme was as dark as night and very skilled with the blade, had a loud and cheerful laughter and friendly eyes, while Dufresne was a man who constantly seemed to worry about everything and everyone. He’d never fired a gun in his whole life and only when John told him he hadn’t either, the poor man relaxed a bit and took out his knitting.

”They’re gonna train us for battle, you know. I think they’re taking us to Blackbeard.”

John looked up from his needlework.

”Edward Teach?”

Dufresne nodded.

”That’s right. You know him?”
”He shipped me to Tortuga for my wedding.”
”Oh. Did you like him?”

John shrugged.

”I hardly spoke to him, to be honest.”

Esther was stitching on a pair of trousers and looked up from her work.

”He has a reputation of being both mad and cruel as the Devil, but Captain Teach is a good man.”
”You’ve met him?”
”Several times. Deadlier than most with his blade, but he’s a very courteous man too.”

Before coming to Nassau, John would’ve questioned the existance of that combination. London and England seemed so far away now, just like his life there. It belonged to another world and time now and so did the shivering man who’d left it.

The life on the ship was very different now, compared to the journey he’d spent in sickbed. Following a special routine, the indoor spouses days were filled with lessons. That would be the correct way to describe it, John thought. Learning how to climb the rigging, navigate and effectively manage the daily chores on a ship was no child’s play. It was heavy work and the midday rest more welcome than ever.

Non of the indoor spouses did any fancy needlework now. The fabrics and stitches were all practical and hardwearing and the trousers, shirts, jackets and hoods all made to last through rough times and weathers. Idelle, the indoor wife of Captain Bonny’s quartermaster Featherstone, had secretly taken every reliable man’s and woman’s measures and there were a lot of clothes to make. No skirts, definately no corsets and silk stockings and any garnments were absent. Instead there were trousers with practical pockets, belts with steady purses and dark cloakes.

Sharpening tools, especially swords and knives, was another interesting thing. Joji, the mute swordmaster, was extremely particular with this and was never satisfied after the first round of sharpening. A blade could never be sharp enough according to Joji, who didn’t look pleased until the person doing the sharpening cut him- or herself in the finger. Then the bastard nodded and took his blade.

Climbing the rigging was something John hated deeply, since he was uncomfortable with heights. Billy solved the indoor spouses fear for the rigging by attaching a steady rope around his belt and the other end around the shaky man or woman who was to climb after the giant to the top mast. The only indoor spouse who needed no help getting to know the ship was Ben, who climbed the rigging as light and quick as a cat, receiving impressed glances from more than one in the crew – until Billy noticed their shameless looks on his husband and people suddenly became very interested in things on a lower height.

John was also an object for admiration, not that he saw it. Some of the men in his husband’s crew had not seen him since he was a shivering, fragile creature crouching in a corner and shaking from even a look. It was obvious that they found John’s transformation very pleasing. As the Captain’s spouse, John shared his private cabin, of course. Their days were filled with hard work and practising and they couldn’t share more than a shallow kiss and a smile, but the nights were their own. The law that forced people to treat their indoor spouses harshly, weren’t honored on this journey. To John’s great surprise he realised that even though he was sure that no one – maybe except for Ben – had a sweeter and more caring spouse than himself, the outdoor spouses weren’t at all hard on their indoor spouses.

He could see outdoor spouses soften up, smiling and letting go of harsh words and indoor spouses not lowering their gazes or be at service all the time. This was very interesting indeed. John had assumed that Billy and James were exceptions, rare men so to say, in the way they treated their husbands, but the more he studied the couples on the journey, John realised that there were a lot more people in Nassau who knew how to put on an show in public. And funny enough, the ones that seemed most relieved by letting the public masks go, were the outdoor spouses.

TBC

Chapter Text

His husband was heavily displeased this evening. He didn’t show it in public of course, but once the door to the Captains cabin was closed for the night, a certain poodle became the most whiny and pouty man alive. Every night, James decided he’d had enough and had to punish him, and every night he ended up changing his mind about that. And the reason for that? Well, his husband was adorable and the harsh Captain was weak.

This particular night, John was curled up in the windowsill with a blanket draped around his knees, reading while chewing on one of his long curls. He had some bruisings on his left forearm from battle training – that was his weak side in sword fighting – and a very sore outer side of his left knee. Joji was a demanding teacher and there were days when James wished he wasn’t. The human poodle refused to look up from his book and James tried not to smile.

”What are you reading, husband?”
”The tale of the murdered poodle.”
”And the cruel killer captain?”

James was too amused to conceal it and poured two cups of wine before heading to the windowsill. John still kept his eyes on the book and James reached him a cup.

”Would the poor, mistreated poodle like some of the cruel killer captain’s best wine?”
”Poodle would.”

God, how was it possible for any human being to be this irresistable while being so silly? Ever since their mutual love declaration, James had felt like his heart was constantly fluttering. John had never been more beautiful, more desireble than now and James had to admit to himself that he finally understood the ”touch and I will kill you slowly” looks Billy used to give people who looked too long or greedily at Ben. Every single strain of hair on John Silver’s curly head belonged to James and no one else and the poor unfortunate soul who thought otherwise would be very sorry.

James had never liked whiny people who wanted attention to feel better about themselves, but John didn’t do it like that. His husband had, step by step, built up a strenght and almost worrying independence. He didn’t make close friends with people, but seemed more than content with Ben and Billy in that regard and kept a curtious and friendly, but nontheless clear distance to other people. Sometimes when he sat with his knitting or couture on deck with the other indoor spouses, he seemed to be… alone. Yes, no matter how charming and friendly James’ husband was, he didn’t seem particularly interested in making friends.

He was very keen on treating everyone the same and keep a low, almost humble profile. A wise decision, since most people on the ship had lived in Nassau longer than he had. John seemed to prefer staying in the background and rather listen than talk. If he was uncomfortable with his high social position as the Captain’s husband, he didn’t show it. Until the moment the cabin door was closed for the night, John was a model of good behavior and diligence. Then a long day of restrained emotions unleashed and he turned into something between a damstrel in distress, a needy kitten and a very sore and grumpy poodle.

When John had emptied his cup, James took the displeased man to lean back at him on the windowsill. John always grunted a little when he did that, but soon he would wriggle back, adjusting himself to a comfortable position against James’ chest and snuggled up in his arms. It had taken a very long time to reach this kind of trust and comfort, but James decided it had been worth every agonizing moment. Not that he didn’t regret certain things, but the frustration he’d once felt in his husband’s company was gone now.

The feeling of the sore, but muscled and lean body resting flush against his chest was something James could never get tired of. John was so strong now, stronger than the man would like to admit to others. It was an old habit, James guessed, not to show other people things that could make them see him as a threat. It was the same thing when John learned to write. He’d been a slave for most of his life and not many people liked a slave who was intelligent. John knew this, but he’d never learned what made people feel threatened about him. He couldn’t control his face enough to hide the fact that he had opinions. No matter how obedient and skilled he was, no matter how curtious, there was a certain independence in his eyes, shutting even the mightiest men and women out from his true feelings. And James began to understand that this ability to shut people out, was something that had caused John much pain.

It wasn’t enough for people to just rule over a man like John Silver. They could feel his judgement under the submissiveness and when they couldn’t treat him poorly due to an openly rude behavior or bad work, they punished him for daring to have a soul. It was now, as the man was curled up in his arms, that James slowly realised how much John had suffered in his life. How strong he really was and how much he needed to be weak sometimes. To rest and have a small piece of safety he’d never had as a child. And James would happily hold him in his arms.

John was so beautiful. Inside out he could wake up James’ desires in an instance and this time and place was no exception. James let his arms slide across his husband’s thighs and John hummed pleased in response.

”Am I improving?”
”In what?”
”Battle skills, of course.”
”I would say so, yes. Especially horse riding.”

John chuckled.

”You’ve never seen me ride, Captain.”
”Well… then maybe we should do something about that now.”
”I don’t think I follow.”

James stroke all over John’s thighs, squeezing a little as his own cock started to swell unmistakingly against John’s lower back. When his husband wriggled back, rubbing himself against it, James nuzzled the sensitive spot in John’s neck and made him gasp.

”How would you like to take a ride on something else than a horse, little poodle?”
”Uhm… You mean…?”
”Not that I don’t love to have you on your back, but a little variety is never wrong. I’ve longed for you to ride me, darling.”

John couldn’t help but blush. They’d kept to positions that were more submissive for John and this was a suggestion he hadn’t counted on. He still felt a bit self-conscious in this area and what if he’d not make it good for James that way. He bit his lip and James kissed his neck.

”What is it, love? You don’t want to?”
”It’s just… Isn’t indoor spouses supposed to…”
”Not be on top?”

He blushed again and James stroke his cheek gently.

”John, if we’re fighting England, do you really think we should invite her to our bed?”

John laughed and shook his head. Since telling about his past, James had seen the man laugh and smile more than ever, as if months of tension had finally left him. He was a truly remarkable person, John Silver, and James sometimes wanted to keelhaul himself for taking so long to understand that. There was no judgement, no lack of understanding or even jealousy from John’s side, only compassion after telling him about Thomas and Miranda. And as time had passed since that day, the eyes, the smile and the hair seemed to loose more and more of the features James connected with his lost love.

The windowsill was big enough for what James had in mind and John made a pleased hum as he started to touch him. Having John in his lap, legs wide spread over his own thighs as the bulge in the man’s trousers grew bigger under his touch and John’s voice was barely a low mumbling, was mesmerising. The man allowed himself go unleashed when they were together as husbands, in a way he’d never even come close to otherwise. It was John and in the same time not. Or, more likely, just another side of him.

James had, as so many other men in his situation before getting married, been forced to take his pleasure alone and for a long time he’d felt shame for his urges, but John had never learned how to feel that kind of shame. Not the way James had and in that regard, John was the strongest of them. John’s vision wasn’t clouded with that kind of moral issues. He’d never had the luxuary to have a choice and knowing that despite all he’d been through, John was capable of this trust and devotion, only made James love him more.

He opened the lacing in their trousers and scooted down the fabric enough to let his cock rub along John’s perineum. His husband moaned and got off him to get the vial with oil in James’ desk. James slicked a finger and moved to make John sink down on it. Seeing the man who’d once been so afraid and tense, wriggle and push against his hand, begging for a second, a third finger – ”stretch me open, Captain…” – while moaning softly, as if he had to hold back to not sound too much, could make James almost mad with lust. He’d never seen any man or woman relish in pleasure like this, so shameless and yet never lewd or ugly. John rode his fingers until his cock left stains of wetness on them both and the curlyheaded man was a mess of need, begging for James’ cock with small, whispering moans.

”Please, James… I want… Please, just let me…”
”You want my cock, darling?”
”Yes, God yes…”

James removed his fingers and poured more oil to slick his cock, before guiding John down. The man hissed as his positioned himself and James stroke his thighs.

”Feel good?”
”Very…”

James pulled him down to kiss him and John sighed. James squeezed his slender hips and pushed further inside him, eliciting a breathy gasp.

”Ride me.”

Seeing John like this, feeling the slick, hot tightness around his cock as the man rode him, could easily have pushed James over too fast. Because the way John moved, sounded and looked was just tantalizing. He squeezed and released so good and after a while his cock was weeping over James’ skin. John’s eyes were half shut, he bit his lower lip and when James increased the pace by lifting John’s firm buttocks and squeezing them while fucking hard from below, the man almost sobbed.

”See, I told… told you I… Ah… I could ride…”
”You feel so good, love. So tight and hot around me… Are you close?”
”Yes…”

His voice was almost broken and James’ belly was smeared by his precum.

”Please, let me come, James… I’ve been good, haven’t I?”

Good Lord. James grabbed his husband’s hips and slammed inside him, fast and almost punishing as John came all over James’ chest under breathy moans. Seconds later, James emptied himself inside him, almost unaware of how hard he fucked the man. John still moaned as James went soft and slid out of him and James pressed him down to his chest, not caring about the wet seed smearing out over them both.

They stayed like that, just breathing for a while and then James lifted John’s head, took it between his hands and pressed a soft kiss on his lips.

”You’re priceless, you know that, John Silver?”

His no longer displeased husband answered with just the hint of a smile as his locks fell over his flushed cheeks. And the mischievous glitter in the blue eyes was entirely John Silver’s own.

TBC

Chapter Text

Billy Bones had more than once cursed the rule that forbid indoor spouses to work on ships. Not only because he wanted to have his husband close, but because the man was a natural in the riggings and with guns as well as knives. Ben Gunn was a very deadly man and one more good reason for England to fear the liberation of Nassau. He was also reliable, never allowed his emotions to take control over his actions and had a dangerously good eye for peoples qualities. When Billy and the other commanders had meetings to talk about the progress, it was often Ben’s view that Billy shared. He trusted his husband completely on this subject, for good reasons. What Billy didn’t trust, how ever, was the one thing that sometimes made him rethink his view of allowing indoor spouses to work on ships. The crew’s looks.

Of course, no one in their right mind would try anything with Ben Gunn, but Billy had no problems reading the glances some men and women threw at his husband. Ben didn’t take notice, but that was his usual way to deal with things in public: to remain calm and appearing innocent and oblivious. A skill he shared with John Silver, which Billy had discovered, and a useful one. How ever, Ben was popular among the crew and Billy admitted to himself he didn’t quite like it. Ben was his husband, his alone to drool over in private and by nightfall, when they had supper and were done with the practice and planning for the day, Billy remained glued to his husband’s side.

They were sitting by one of the small fires spread out in the camp, Ben was carving out sticks for arrows – you never knew when you had to take to old weapons – and talking to some of the indoor spouses. Billy was tired. Not from work, but as he was watching his husband’s skilled hands and the golden hair shimmering in the firelight, four years of forced harshness suddenly seemed too heavy to bare. He didn’t want to keep this distance anymore, not here, and so the harsh Billy Bones approached his husband, sat down beside him and pulled him onto his lap, wrapping his arms around him for others to see. Esther and Dufresne smiled and Idelle, who was making a net with John, grinned widely.

”Finally, Bones.”

Billy didn’t answer, he just smiled and blushed a little. He was holding his man in public, not as an owner or a ruler, but as a loving husband. Ever since falling in love with the man, he’d felt sad about keeping it a secret for the world. For a time he’d even kept it a secret from the man himself, but looking at it now, Billy was pretty sure Ben had known before the words were said.

What once had started as a necessity, had transformed to a strong bond, a mutual love and devotion that didn’t care about laws and rules. Billy’d never expected this, and surely not Ben, but they’d come to love each other so much it was painful to hide it. And to never show it, to even be hard to his heart in public, sometimes made Billy want to scream in agony. This, being soft and sweet to his darling man whenever he wanted, was the only natural way to act. Of course, it didn’t stop Billy from throwing glares at anyone who may even think about taking liberties. Not that Ben needed protection, but as a matter of principle. It was hardly Billy’s fault that they hadn’t snatched Ben before him and they only had themselves to blame.

The first day on Ocracoke had, despite the severity of the situation, been somewhat of a rest for Billy. He loved to see Ben free to do outdoor duties, to see his husband with head up high in public, not being force to crawl for the sake of a cruel law. Similar changes were seen among the other indoor spouses as well, but Billy Bones only had eyes for this man. The strong, steady hands that made weapons in the light from the fire, had once been shaky and nervous. Insecure and afraid.

Memories floated inside him while holding his man. The night they’d consumed their marrige took place long after the wedding, when Billy’d been away on a trip and came back with a necklace for Ben. After supper that night, Billy’d given him the gift and put it around his neck, not being able to resist kissing the fetlock under the warm skin or stopping a you’re the sweetest man on Earth, Ben Gunn from passing his lips. They’d been alone, safe from other peoples eyes and ears in their own home and the words had made Ben lean back against him, allowing shaky hands to go back around Billy’s waiste. Please, tell me you’re not leaving again anytime soon, husband… I… I want you here with me…

Those words had made Billy drop every last defense and he’d declared his love against Ben’s neck, cheeks blushing and eyes closed because he was afraid. Afraid Ben wouldn’t want him and he was prepared to let him be or even allow divorce if he didn’t want Billy, but he refused to share bed if Ben didn’t feel for him. He’d talked for quite a while, not noticing how Ben held him closer and put a hand back on his nape, stroking it gently. He’d interrupted Billy’s stream of words by simply turning his head and pressing Billy’s forward, making him shut up with a soft, warm kiss. And then the only sounds coming from any of them for quite a while, was on the unintelligent, breathy kind as they left a trail of clothes after them to their bed chamber. Afterwards, when Ben laid on Billy’s arm while they were both breathing heavily and Billy kept pressing small kisses over that golden hair, any thoughts that Ben would not want him were gone. And now, some years later, Billy could finally hold him for their fellow crew mates and spouses to see. And maybe, just maybe, there was a better world ahead when loving a man was the natural thing and possessing him like a slave would be frown upon. Either way, Billy would hold his Ben to the end.

TBC

Chapter Text

Ned Low’s reputation was even more notorious than Blackbeard’s, Vane’s or even the so called monster Captain Flint’s, and in many ways it was truly justified. The few surviving victims from his raids told stories about how he would cut out the hearts of still living men, broiling the organs in front of them as they died – and then eat them. With his one damaged, milky-blue eye, the scar crossing his right side of the face and the cold grin, many people would surrender long before he even drew weapon.

He was ruthless, merciless and as feared as hated. A beast among men seen as animals and the only one among the pirate captains in the Caribbean who’d turned down the offer of pardon. Abigail Ashe knew some of the stories, the day The Good Fortune was burning behind her as she and her baby girl were brought to the notorious pirate captain’s cabin. The only thing keeping Abigail calm, was the thought of her daughter, who was sleeping in her arms, unaware of what danger they were in.

”Are ya hungry, my lady?”

Abigail twitched as she heard the drawling voice coming from the door and she clutched the baby tighter to her chest. The only thing she knew right now, was that no matter what, she’d not give up her daughter. If she was taken from her arms, she’d not leave this boat alive, that she swore in silence as the man the voice belonged to, approached.

”You’re right to be afraid of me, my lady, ’cause I aint someone ya want to defy. But I don’t kill women and children.”

The sneer – or was it just the scar and the eye that made it look like a sneer instead of a smile? – made the man look even more repulsive and Abigail may have been a lady, but some kind of disgust was impossible to disguise even for a lord’s daughter.

”Yar name’s Abigail Ashe, I understand.”
”No, you’re wrong… sir.”

He chuckled.

”Ya need to practise if ya’r to make a living out of lying, madame. Yar Abigail Ashe alright, the paper’s aint lying and this, I guess, is yar…?”
”Daughter, sir. Her name’s Elizabeth.”

She didn’t know why she said that, but the sneer suddenly disappear and for a moment, the monster looked like a man.

”Elizabeth… Her father was on that ship?”
”No, sir. He died a while back.”
”I see. And y’re heading to…?”
”Havannah, sir.”
”Havannah? All alone with yar lass?”
”My father lives there, sir.”
”Oh, I know that, my lady.”

The devilish chuckle again. Abigail pressed her daughter even tighter to her, and the girl immediately started to protest. The vicious man must’ve seen the terror in Abigails eyes, but he just put his hands up.

”As I said, I don’t kill women and children, my lady. But I’m afraid I can’t just let ya go to Havannah, ’cause this ship’s heading to Nassau.”
”My… my father will pay money for me, sir.”

He sneered.

”I’m sure he will, my lady, but I prefer to decide when and where and in what I’ll have my prizes. So for the time being, I suggest ya keep calm and take care of yer lass, without thinking about escape. I rule my men but let’s just say yer both safer in my cabin than elsewehere. Ya’r nursing yar lass still?”
”I am, sir.”

She blushed. His one seeing eye sweeped over her breasts in a way that made her shiver inside, but he just nodded and rose.

”I’ll make sure ya’ll have proper food, my lady, and some rags for the little one. Ya’r both coming with us to Nassau and if I were ya, I’d not make any scenes while on my ship? Understand?”
”Yes, sir.”
”Good. I’ll send someone to tend to ya and no one’s allowed any… liberties with any of ya. I’ll make sure that’s clear among my men.”

The man left and Abigail sighed. She’d never been more exposed to mortal danger in her whole life, childbirth included, and the only thing she could thing of, whas how hungry she was. Little Elizabeth made a noise and Abigail opened her dress. At least she had food for her daughter. To think any further on right now, did no good, so Abigail focused on the suckling mouth on her breast, and wondered wheather she would ask God why He’d let this happen to her, or thank Him for having her baby in her arms still.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Are ya’ll out of fucking mind!?”

Ben was a man who was prepared for a lot of things. Storms, wars, waiting at home for his husband while screaming in silence for not knowing if he’d be a widower this time. If there’d be a situation where there’d be short of supplies to stay alive, he knew how to live of the land and if things would come to the worst, he was one of the best sharpshooters in whole damn Nassau, but to take care of a fucking baby?! But there they stood: his sappy husband and Max with the screaming, probably wet thing in a basket, handing it over to him, in the middle of fucking night. Max sighed.

”It’s only temporarily, Ben.”
”I don’t give a fuck! I know nothing about bloody infants, Max. Jesus, who’s mad fucking idea was this and who’s damn spawn is this, by the way?”

His husband gave him a glare.

”Don’t wake her up, for fucks sake. She’s just gone back to sleep.”
”Oh yeah? Since you seem to know one or two things about babies, maybe you should take care of it, husband?”
”It’s Abigail Ashe’s baby.”
”What?”

Ben just starred at his husband, then the baby, Max and his husband again.

”You’re mad… Both of you… Holy Mary of God, husband, can you please fucking tell me what’s happening here?!”
”As soon as you stop yelling, darling. Or do you want to wake her up?”

Ben threw an exasperated look at them and pointed towards the chamber.

”In there. Did anyone follow you?”

Billy shook his head and Ben snorted as he locked the door.

”Before any of you ask: no, we have no milk.”
”Max brought that with her, along with cloths, swaddling bands and some blankets.”
”Who’s idea was this, Billy?”
”Actually… it was Ned Low’s.”
Ned Low’s?!
”Hush, don’t wake the baby.”
”But why…”
”Because we live far from town, darling, and believe me, I’m not happy about this either, but it’s an emergancy.”

Ben cursed in gaelic and started to make a fire.

”You can bring in some water, Billy. The spawn reeks.”
”Yeah… we didn’t really have time to…”
”Just. Bring. The water.”
”Alright, alright.”

Ben knew very little about children, hardly anything about infants and he’d never been fond of them but he knew how to wash them. He tied up his hair, fetched some soap and oil and when Billy came back with the water, he warmed it and made a bath for the screaming little monster who didn’t seem to enjoy Max’s arms one bit. Ben added some flings of soap in the water and groused:

”Give it to me and make me some coffee.”

Max, who was very relieved to be rid of the baby, almost fought with Billy to get to make the coffee and get away from the baby. Ben glared at them and then put the baby in the small tub he used for washing vegetables, not children. The girl was still screaming, but getting rid of the wet, dirty cloths and being washed at least didn’t increased the screaming. Ben cooed and smiled the best he could and apparently it helped, because the screams turned into small whimpers and gurgles instead. Ben made a grim smile.

”Well, at least you have the decency to not thank me with more screaming, miss Ashe.”
”Her name’s Elizabeth.”

Billy, who’d poured his most displeased husband a big cup of coffee and some milk for the girl, looked at the scene with little too shiny eyes. Ben, who’d carefully washed the girl and was about to dry her, didn’t even look at him, but kept talking to the baby.

”Elizabeth, is it? Well, I’d bid you welcome to our humble home, miss Eliza, but to be honest you’re not very welcome.”
”Husband…”
”Oh, and yes, the giant that brought you here, who I’m not very happy with at the moment, seem to have forgotten all about just how much I dislike children, miss Eliza.”
”Ben…”
”And right now I fucking dislike men too, miss Eliza. Especially the one I’m married to.”

Billy just shook his head, knowing when it was best to just shut up, and returned to Max. Ben wrapped the baby in some cloths and a blanket, before sitting down and trying to feed her with a spoon. It could’ve gone worse and most of the milk actually went into the baby’s mouth, which made it far more difficult for her to scream. Max smiled at the scene.

”You’re a natural, Ben.”
”Go fuck yourself, Max. And no, Billy, this is not a good time for one of your ’behave, husband’.”
”I wasn’t…”
”You were.”

Billy gave Max a look and she shook her head. Definately not a good time. The man put the coffee at the kitchen table where Ben, still bleary-eyed, was currently feeding the baby on his arm. Billy kissed his husband’s hair and the man muttered.

”Now, please tell me this is a bad fucking joke? She’s not staying here. And how the fuck did she end up in Nassau?”
”Ned Low captured a ship that apparently was carrying only human cargo. Well, almost. Abigail Ashe, daughter of Peter Ashe and recently a widow, was travelling to Havannah when Low caught up on them. The girl is her daughter.”
”Christ… And where’s the mother now?”
”She’s safe on Ned Low's ship.”
”And could you perhaps tell me why the girl’s not with her mother?”
”Because she went feverish and we need someone to take care of the girl until she’s better.”

Ben sighed. The girl in his arms was good at eating and didn’t scream at the moment.

”Why me?”

Max poured herself a cup of coffee.

”Because you live outside town and no one would think about looking for a baby here.”
”And who would look for a baby?”
”Hopefully no one, but when words are coming to the governor about…”
”Whoa, whoa… The governor? I’m not having a fucking baby hidden here if that asshole’s looking for it!”
”Calm down, Ben, he’s not looking for it and if he would, he’d look for it in a place where he knows there are at least one woman living.”
”So you’re saying I’m to be a little mother here until the real mother can get her spawn?”
”More or less…”

Max looked a bit regretful and Billy had a suspiciously soft look on his face. Ben glared at him.

”Are you having second thoughts about fatherhood, husband?”
”No, for God’s sake, no!”
”Because if you have, you’ll have to pray to God for giving me a womb and then pray for me to not have you keelhauled.”

Max cleared her throat.

”She can be of use.”
”How?”
”Abigail Ashe is the daughter of Peter Ashe, who’s a friend of the governor. Ned Low isn’t an animal, but he refuses to let go of Abigail until the governor agrees to a meeting. He didn’t want the baby on his ship but he’s no animal either, so…”
”He needed someone to take care of the spawn, I get it. And in the meantime, the girl’s poor mother is devestated and I’m to be a nanny. Fucking brilliant.”

Max shrugged.

”Well, at least she seems to like you, Ben.”

Ben looked down at the girl, who’d finished eating and put her on his shoulder to make her burp. Then he rocked her gently in his arms while letting her grab for his hair until she started to get drowsy. Billy still seemed far too taken by the view and got another glare from his husband.

”Not a word, Billy. Not a word.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”One more. Please…”

James slapped his husband’s pretty, pink ass again, seeing the cheeks quiver a little from the swat. If he’d not seen how hard and wet the man was, he’d stopped several swats ago, but there was something in John’s plead he couldn’t ignore. His husband had been exhausted when they met for supper this night and his eyes were weary in a way that told James John was worried about more things than being a good husband these days. The man sighed heavily and took his hands from the wall.

”Please, sit down, husband.”

A bit confused, James sat down on a stool in the chamber and his husband immediately kneeled and laid himself across his lap.

”Continue.”
”Are you sure about…?”
”Please, James, I beg you.”

Take control. Manhandle me. Make me feel safe. James leaned down to adjust his husband and kiss his shoulders, before continuing the swats, just hard enough to make the red skin sting. John’s erection hung hard, heavy and thick between James’ thighs and the muscles in his legs were glistening from sweat. James was hard as well, but his husband’s cock already leaked all over the fabric in James’ trousers. He stopped the slaps and rubbed the cheeks fondly as his husband whined a little and James teased his hole.

”So pretty like this, John… Such a good man, so well-mannered…”

John whined again as James removed his fingers from the puckered skin and continued to spank him until he started sobbing a little.

”You’re alright, darling?”
”Yes… Feels so good, James… Don’t understand why, but...”

He didn’t continue, he was far too lost in the sensations and by the way his body went more and more heavy and pliant, James realised John was finally feeling better.

”You’re gonna fuck me now, right?”
”Ask nicely.”
”Please, fuck me, husband. I need your cock…”

John practically wailed when he was kneeling on the bed, legs wide spread and James shoved his tongue up his fluttering hole. To think this was a punishment, was something only a fool would believe. The mixture of stinging pain and the ministrations from James’ tongue made John’s previously so tense body sing. He moaned, panted and sobbed in a way that reminded of a person in some kind of ecstacy and James couldn’t tell what was more addictive: the sounds coming from John’s lips or the taste of his rim.

When James finally slicked his cock and pushed inside the man, John was wet and loose, still sobbing and crying out for him to fuck him harder and deeper. James fucked him in an almost punishing rhythm and snaked his hand around John’s balls, feeling them pull up as his husband came hard all over the floor. James entangled his fingers in the curly mop of hair, pulled John a little closer and shot his load inside that hot hole, still clenching from the prolonged orgasm. When James went soft and slid out of him, John giggled a little.

”That… was fucking increadible, James…”

James smiled against John’s warm, sweaty neck.

”It was, sweetheart. You’re making me weak, my love…”

John turned around to kiss him.

”I feel so much better now, you have no idea…”
”You’re right, darling, I don’t.”

His husband just smiled again. A soft, pleased and impish smile James could never get tired of. A smile he hardly ever saw these days if he didn’t ”discipline” his husband. It seemed as if every step John took towards more strenght, skills and independence, the more did he crave this. The only thing that could make him relax properly.

James rubbed lotion on the sore skin and kissed it. It was hot and flushed, but not damaged in the least and John made a pleased hum.

”You’re the best husband in the world, Captain Flint.”
”Is that so, Mr. Silver?”
”Well, I don’t have anyone else to compare with, but… Hey!”

James nibbled his ear playfully and made him giggle again. It was already late and darkness had fallen over Nassau. John closed his eyes, dwelling in the sense of feeling safe. It was a sweet illusion, but still an illusion and John knew it, but when darkness fell and he was relaxing in his his husband’s arms, he could allow himself to believe it wasn’t.

”Will you read to me tonight, husband?”
”Of course, my love.”

My love. It came natural now. Just like the playfulness. John had always known he could tease, but playfulness had never been something he’d connected with himself. Or his husband, for that matter. But as a matter of fact, they both enjoyed playing and not only between the sheets. With James there was always a challenge and John had discovered he actually liked it, even if it was frustrating sometimes. It didn’t scare him anymore, didn’t make him feel shut out, only curious. And they’d both discovered how little they’d been able – or even allowed – to play as boys.

John knew now that despite the safety of a good father who could teach you a profession as well as reading and writing, it didn’t necessairily make you a happy man. His husband had been a lonely small child, an even more lonely boy and that loneliness had pursued him until the day he met Thomas and Miranda Hamilton. Then, a short time of happiness until he was alone again. John didn’t know how that kind of loneliness felt and he didn’t want to know.

A little while later, he curled up in his husband’s arms, naked except for a thin blanket, and nuzzled the freckled skin like a kitten. James chuckled and planted a kiss on his curls.

”Right now it’s very hard to believe how deadly you’ve become with that sword of yours.”
”It’s not very sharp now…”

He got a teasing pinch in his cheak for the bad joke and James stroke his chin.

”I have to admit I love that beard…”
”Really?”
”It makes you look so manly.”

John blushed. Manly had never been a word he’d used to describe himself, but when he looked at his hands a part of him had to admit that his husband had a point. No matter how glittering his eyes could be, or how all but innocent –and still innocent – he looked while swirling a lock of hair around his finger and giving his most boyish grin, he’d not looked boyish or fragile in a long time. His hands were hard, his beard thick and he had small wrinkles around his eyes that James claimed he loved.

Suddenly, James stiffened and lowered his eyebrows.

”Listen…”
”What?”
”Is… is that a baby?”
”Are you drunk? Who around here have a baby?”
”Maybe DeGroot managed to grow one in his potato field.”
”Yeah, or maybe Billy made Ben conceive. He’d be a perfect mother. No more drinking for you tonight, Captain. It makes you hear things that aren’t there.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”It’s the best option, Flint!”
”No fucking way!”
”Why?”
”Because… We don’t know a shit about sick care!”

Eleanor rose her eyebrows at the raging Captain. The consortium had been summoned at dawn with greatest discretion and now they were sitting, bleary-eyed around the table at Mrs. Guthrie’s residence, sipping on some coffee and discussing the problem named Abigail and Elizabeth Ashe. At the moment, baby Elizabeth was safe and sound, taken care of by Ben Gunn, but the poor girl’s mother Abigail, was raging with fever in the fortress under Vane’s supervision and that man knew as little about sick care as Ned Low, who’d brought the mother and child ashore.

The suggestion from Mrs. Guthrie, to let Abigail Ashe stay at James’ and John’s house until she got better, was not something the ginger Captain wasn’t even remotely happy with, but it had less to do with lack of sick care skills than a certain John Silver’s background. Something he didn’t want to share with anyone arund this table. James gritted his teeth.

”Max or Ben would be far better for this task. John is reliable, but he’s never taken care of a sick woman before.”
”But we have to keep her close to the child.”
”Then why not Joji and DeGroot?”
”They live closer to the road and their house is smaller than yours.”

James glared at Rackham, who was supported with pillows this ungodly hour. His lungs were a little bit better again, but rising this early and being exposed to the cold air of the dawn was not good for the man and Anne Bonny sat close by his side. That couple would almost be an even worse option than Vane or Low.

Problem was, James couldn’t refuse without a good reason and the one he had was to remain a secret. He made a displeased face.

”Fine. Looks like I’m outnumbered here. But don’t expect me or John to be some kind of servants or nannies to that girl. And another thing: what shall we do when she demands to see her child?”
”That she will once her fever is gone.”

Anne Bonny seemed just as unaware of how a mother believing to have her child taken away from her could react. James turned to the Irish Captain.

”Did you know who’s ship it was, Low?”
”Nah, did not. And ye’ve all given me free hands with English ships, aint that right?”

They had and to be honest, James was surprised that Ned Low had let any of them live, not to mention bothered to take them ashore or keep them separated due to the mother’s illness. The one-eyed man snorted.

”Bet ya’ll thought I’d throw’em both in the sea, huh? I’m keepin’ em separated due to the fever, I’m no feckin’ animal. Have always spared women and children and never forced married men to join my crew.”

That was true and they all knew that. Ned Low was a mad man in many ways and completely ruthless, but not when it came to women, especially mothers, and children. He always allowed women and children on his prizes to return safely to port unharmed, so his actions with Abigail Ashe and her daughter didn’t really come as a surprise. The notorious Captain tapped resteless on the table.

”I’ll take the woman ashore and then ya’ll free to do with her as ye please. Have no time for this shite and if ya’r interested, there’ll soon be a feckin’ fleet lookin’ for the lass. Ye want me to have her and the child onboard, huh?”

James sighed.

”Fine. We’ll take the woman. But do it quietly. Give her laudanum and let someone who’d be more likely to have an arrend to us bring her here, well covered.”

Anne, who was the only one in the room that didn’t look tired, nodded at him.

”I can get back with Low, using our carriage. Most people know I run arrends for DeGroot every now and then, when Joji’s at sea. If we just cover the girl properly it wont raise any suspicions. And she might be calmer with a woman going with her.”

The rest of the people in the room nodded and Eleanor gave Billy a teasing smile.

”And no woman here could be a better wetnurse for her daughter than your husband, Billy.”
”Go fuck yourself, Eleanor.”

The former governor’s daughter dipped two fingers in her cup and licked them with a grin.

”As soon as I can get back to my bed, knowing that your husband and James are taking care of the woman and child, I will fuck myself because efficiant men always make my pussy wet. Now, get moving.”

TBC

Chapter Text

”A naoidhean bhig, cluinn mo ghuth. Mise ri d' thaobh, O mhaighdean bhan… Ar righinn oig, fas as faic, do thir, dileas fhein…  A ghrian a's a ghealaich, stuir sinn, gu uair ar cliu s ar gloire… Naoidhean bhig, ar righinn og mhaighdean uashaill bhan…”
”You’re a natural…”

Ben Gunn looked at him briefly and kept rocking the girl, singing softly in his mother’s tongue. John didn’t understand a word, but the lullaby seemed to do the trick. The little girl was sleeping again.

When James had come back from the consortium and told him about the prisoners, the ginger had been stupid enough to do that while John was moving a pile of tea cups from one cupboard to another. Now they had to buy new tea cups and John had a small bandage around his hand. He was standing in Billy’s and Ben’s kitchen, watching the tired Scotsman rock the spawn of Abigail Ashe in his arms. The highborn lady herself was being brought to John’s and James’ guest chamber in this very moment and John had not known where to go and ended up going to Ben, as usual.

It felt unreal. His former owner’s daughter and her child was in Nassau. Miss Ashe – but she was a wife now, of course – was lying sick in her former house slave’s guest chamber and her baby was lulled to sleep by a former pirate. John swallowed hard and Ben mistook his face expression.

”Maybe we should’ve brought her to Joji and DeGroot instead. She was unkind to you, right?”

John shook his head.

”She was the only one who wasn’t…”

The early hour and the shock clearly contributed to his tears, but mostly it was the memories. The kind words in passing, the friendly smiles and the occasional dainty she gave him when no one saw. She’d come to his defence if she saw him being ill-treated and she’d never used hard words to him. The baby had almost woke up again, interrupting his thoughts and Ben started singing.

”A naoidhean bhig, cluinn mo ghuth. Mise ri d' thaobh, O mhaighdean bhan… Ar righinn oig, fas as faic, do thir, dileas fhein…  A ghrian a's a ghealaich, stuir sinn, gu uair ar cliu s ar gloire… Naoidhean bhig, ar righinn og mhaighdean uashaill bhan…”

John cried in silence. The one good thing he’d had before James brought so many painful memories with her. Memories that were not of her making at all. Abigail Ashe had never showed him or the other slaves anything but kindness. She was grace, beauty and goodness personified and neither she or her daughter should suffer because of her parents actions.

Cryning in silence was a skill John had learned long before he came to the Ashe family, but the skill had never been so useful as in their household. Apart from miss Abigail’s kindness that she showed every man, woman and child she met, John had never experienced a moment of care, friendship or gentleness in that place. Her smiles and words, her warm eyes and how kindly she’d treated the skivvy boy who sucked the master’s cock had sometimes been the only thing that had kept John from lacking any signs of kindness in the Ashe house.

The little girl slowly came to rest in Ben’s arms as long as the man kept humming and rocking her. John wiped his tears.

”They’re not gonna do them any harm, right? Miss Ashe or the girl.”

Ben shook his head.

”Of course not. Ned Low doesn’t kill mothers and children, that’s common knowledge.”
”And Vane?”
”Absolutely not!”
”Then what will happen to them? Lord Ashe will come for them. And the governor…”
”Woodes Rogers is a piece of shit who’s far too comfortable in his position and the very second Peter Ashe sets foot in Nassau, your husband will slit his throat.”
”And his daughter and granddaughter?”
”Do you really believe your husband’s capable of doing innocent women and children any harm?”
”No…”
”But?”
”But what?”
”I can see you’re not convinced.”

John shrugged.

”James has his own reasons to hate Peter Ashe, that have nothing to do with me. The ones concearning me wont change that.”
”Of course they do.”
”I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to make James hate that man more.”
”Except for treating his husband badly.”
”Well…”
”Trust me, John. I know how a vengeful husband’s eyes look like, no matter if they’re blue or green. But no harm will come to Abigail or her little girl. Neither of us are married to evil men just because England want to brand them as such.”

He knew better than questioning the Scottish man who seemed to have far greater power than Billy over things when it really mattered. Not listening to Ben Gunn was a stupidity John didn’t want to be guilty of. But why did they all listen to the timid man? John, James, Billy… John watched the sleeping baby, with the small head tucked into the striped fabric in Ben’s shirt. The man occasionally pressed light kisses on her head and looked more than ever like the model of an indoor spouse. Why was it so hard to go against him?

The answer was simple, but John was someone who had to experience certain things first hand to see them in others. To be a kind, gentle spirit in a harsh world and make the one you were supposed to obey blindly, to shiver before you from the sight of your smile or the fragrence of your hair, was power. To make men, women and children surrender to kindness. While caring for Abigail Ashe’s baby, Ben was the very image of a mother, father, brother and sister. Of a husband and wife, a friend and a wetnurse. If people allowed him to, Ben would make them surrender to his kindness and suddenly John understood that non of Ben’s household skills mattered to Billy in the end. To this timid man’s gentle love, the harsh Billy Bones who towered over most men would always yield and do so gladly with trembling hands and blushing cheeks. And the little girl in the former pirate’s arms slept as calmly as if it was her own mother holding her.

TBC

Chapter Text

The last time he’d seen this woman, she’d been a little girl clutching to her mothers skirts. It was many years ago and long before his husband was working in the house as an ill-treated, abused and tormented slave. The girl had her mother’s eyes, but right now James didn’t thought of that as a comfort, even if they were closed in peaceful sleep. His husband had suffered severely from Abigail Ashe’s parents hands and to see this shadow from John’s past was painful.

John was staying with Ben and the baby right now and Billy kept James company by the fire in the salon. Abigail Ashe was sleeping soundly in the guest chamber, treated as kindly as any guest, but her precense made James’ heart ache.

”You think they’re handling it?”
”John and Ben? Of course they are. Ben’s a natural with children, even if he refuses to admit it.”

James smirked.

”And what about John?”
”He’s gentle with all fragile things. I seriously doubt he’d be rough with an infant.”
”Probably not.”

Billy took another sip of his ale and looked into the fire.

”Who is this Peter Ashe to you, Captain?”
”John’s previous owner. And the reason why I became the most notorious pirate captain in the Caribbean and remained so for many years.”

James former quartermaster rose his eyebrows.

”Are you telling me you became a pirate due to this… Peter Ashe?”

James sighed.

”Yes and no. When I lived in England I was a lieutenant in the Navy for a time and I got to know the man since he was a friend of my lovers.”
”Your… lovers?”
”A married couple, Miranda and Thomas Hamilton. We had a secret relationship all three of us for some years and one day Peter Ashe found out and decided to use that information to raise in ranks of the politics.”
”Holy Mother of God…”

Billy looked positively horrified and James made a bitter smile.

”We managed to escape only to be caught in a hard storm not far from Nassau. I lost them both that night and instead of taking my own life, I went on the account, swearing to take my revenge on England in one way or another… And the rest you already know. I’ve been the living nightmare on the sea for years now, Billy, and the last thing I expected, was to end up getting forced to marry a man when I’d been on my way to the gallows for loving one…”
”And this baby…?”
”The granddaughter of Peter Ashe and daughter to the only one who’ve treated John kindly before he walked down the isle… And her grandfather has caused John nothing but pain and…”
”He’s also the reason why Captain Flint came to be… I don’t know what to say, James.”
”You don’t have to say anything. Even if I’d been one to hurt women and children and the hate I have for Peter Ashe will follow me to the grave, I can’t let the one person who’ve treated John kindly in that living hell, or her innocent child, suffer for her father’s sins. They bare no blame. And besides, Ben would probably kill the first one to lay hand on the girl.”

Billy smiled.

”Dear Lord, how I love that man…”
”You’ve never regret marrying him then?”
”Not once. Hasn’t always been easy for either of us, but I’ve never regret walking down the isle with him.”
”Funny…”
”What?”
”A year ago I’d laughed at you for saying that.”
”I think you’re laughing more than ever these days, old friend. And I swear John’s smile has never been brighter.”

James green eyes went soft and he starred into the flames.

”There’s no way I’ll be able to keep that man in line for much longer, Billy. He’s the one in charge and has been for quite some time now. I don’t even bother to feel ashamed of it anymore.”
”What’s there to be ashamed of? We’re long past the time when we thought we had to hide things from each other, James. I’m not ashamed of how weak I am for Ben. To see him happy makes me happy and I’m done pretending for everyone. And who the fuck’s in control of his own heart?”

Blue eyes, unruly curls, tantalizing smile… The sharp mind under the lovely tangles and the gentle heart covered with warm skin. Your eyes change sometimes when you’re looking at me. John’s words had hurt, because they were true. But not anymore. James had no control of his heart when it came to that man, just as he hadn’t with Thomas. Only this time, he didn’t need to control it. John was his treasure, his everblooming rose and the one who’d made his heart beat again in another rhythm. Made his blood dance to another song, his thoughts follow another tone.

Abigail Ashe had been the only one showing his December rose any kindness and James would be forever grateful for that. But there was still a piece of the secretive Captain’s heart that couldn’t stop crying for all the pain his unruly, loving, wild and increadibly strong husband had suffered. Despited what they both had suffered, they were lucky men in many ways. So were Billy and Ben. And hard as it was to believe it, kindness seemed to be the way even when the heart wanted revenge. Thomas and Miranda would’ve understood that. They’d say: listen to your husband, James. And James still listened to those voices from the past, that somehow always ended up with him listening to his present and future. How much more power could another human being hold? And hadn’t he already surrendered to it, happily and with a fluttering heart?

TBC

Chapter Text

The room was small, but very neat and tidy. That was the first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes and realised she was not on the ship. In fact, she wasn’t on a ship at all, but in a house. The bed had fine, clean linen sheets and a thick blanket and through a small gap between the curtains, sunlight was playing on the floor. It took several moments before Abigail realised it wasn’t only the ship that was missing.

Almost immediatly after her scream, the door went open and a man with curly hair came inside.

”Don’t scream, my lady! Your daughter is perfectly safe.”
”Where is she?! Where am I?”
”She’s in the house next door. You’ve had a fever and we had to keep you separated. She’s been well taken care of and she’s just fine. We’ll have her brought to you soon.”

His voice seemed familiar, so did his eyes. Abigail, still shocked from the abscense of her child and the new environment, couldn’t seem to place him.

”I… You seem familiar, sir. Have we met?”
”Yes, my lady.”
”Are you a friend of my parents?”

His eyes twitched, as if being reminded of an unpleasant memory.

”No, I’m not, my lady. But you were always very kind to me when I served in their household. I knew you as miss Abigail back then.”

Dark curls, watchful eyes. Abigail’s mind searched through the memories.

”John… Silver?”
”You remember my name, my lady…”
”Good God… How did…? Is this your…?”
”Yes, this is my home, my lady.”

His smile was friendly, but strained.

”Imagine that… A lord’s daughter sleeping in my guest chamber. Lord and lady Ashe’s daughter being the guest of her parents former skivvy boy…”

He had changed, probably even more than she noticed, but right now all she wanted was her baby and she looked at him, begging written all over her face.

”Mr. Silver, please… My child…”

He twitched again, as if he’d been caught in his memories and he nodded.

”Of course, my lady. I’ll have her brought here immediately. Just wait here, please.”

She nodded, confirming she understood, but inside she was screaming. What if Elizabeth had been taken away from her? What if the man that looked like John Silver and answered to that name was lying? Abigail wanted to rise and run, screaming and shouting, but her body was exhausted and just lifting her head was straining. When the man claiming to be John Silver came back he had no Elizabeth with him and he made a hushing sign.

”She’s asleep, my lady. Our neighbor has taken good care of her and he’ll bring her to you, but don’t scream. She’s just fallen asleep.”
”She’s…?”
”In our kitchen, my lady and the man who’ll bring her to you is a very good and caring man, I assure you.”

Everything in Abigail’s mind was no focused on her child and she nodded. She was a lady, a lord’s daughter and knew how to keep her emotions in control. But when the blonde, unfamiliar man came inside with the little dumpling in his arms, it was very hard to not scream of relief. The man who had friendly blue eyes placed the dumpling in her arms very carefully and when Abigail saw it really was her daughter, sleeping peacefully and looking safe and sound, she cried and clutched for the unfamiliar man’s hand, whispering:

”Thank you, sir… Thank you, who ever you are…”
”I’m glad you’re awake, my lady. My name’s Ben Gunn and I’m John Silver’s neighbour.”

Little Eliza slept in her arms again and Abigail had never been so relieved in her entire life. The weariness came back and she had to lie down. The man claiming to be John Silver, helped her with gentle hands and soon she could rest against the pillows again, with her baby in her arms.

”She’s been fed and changed recently, my lady. I’m sorry we had to keep you separated, but we didn’t want her to caught fever.”
”No… of course you didn’t… I don’t know how I could thank you two gentlemen enough…”
”We’re just glad you’re both safe, my lady.”

The blonde man, Mr. Gunn or something, had a very friendly smile and despite all the confusion and the weariness from the fever, Abigail felt almost calm now as she had her baby with her again. But where was…?

”The captain… Mr. Low…”
”He brought you here. A ship is not a good place for a sick woman or a little child.”
”He attacked our ship…”

The man claiming to be John Silver, bit his lip.

”He’s a pirate, my lady, but he’s not one to harm women and children. Did you have family or friends on the ship?”
”No. I’m… I’m a widow, Mr. Silver. I was… on my way to Havannah when… My chambermaid died on the journey before Low attacked us so…”
”I’m so sorry, my lady.”

He really sounded like he was sympathic. There were so many questions Abigail wanted to have answered, but she was too tired, too confused from the situation and she clutched her baby closer. Mr. Gunn smiled.

”Don’t worry, my lady. No one will take your baby and we’ll do our best to take care of you both. A friend of ours, Max Marliot, will send you and your daughter some clothes later today and perhaps we can find you a temporarily chambermaid. I assume you’d feel better being waited on by a woman.”

She would, but wasn’t sure she dared to say that, since just being rescued and laying in a warm, clean bed, having her child safe and sound because of the kindness from two strangers, seemed to be far more than any woman in her situation could ask among… Good Lord! In sudden horror, Abigail starred at the men.

”Are you pirates?”

The blonde man chuckled.

”No, my lady. I was once, but that’s many years ago and John Silver here is definately not a pirate. We’re indoor husbands, or as one would call it in England: men doing female chores.”

The man claiming to be John Silver smiled.

”That means you’ll be very well taken care of, my lady. Mr. Gunn here is the best cook on the entire island and apart from most men in the world, we both value cleanliness and comfort. I hope you find the bed comfortable enough?”
”Oh… yes, very much, Mr. Silver.”
”Are you hungry, my lady?”
”Well… I… I’m so sorry, gentlemen, but this is all so confusing. You’ll have to excuse my poor behavior.”

The blonde man shook his head.

”There’s nothing to excuse, my lady. This must be a shock for you and we realise that it’s not easy to just trust unfamiliar faces. We certainly wouldn’t, so rest assure, we understand you and all we can do is to show you that we can be trusted. But you’ve been quite sick, my lady, and has only been able to drink water for a couple of days. You need to start eating as soon as possible to get your strenght back. And don’t worry about your little girl. She’s been having goats milk and has a huge appetite, so if you’re too tired to feed her yourself, she wont be starving.”
”I’m very grateful for your kindness, gentlemen.”

Now as she was fully awake, had her treasure close and was more aware of her surroundings, Abigail slowly realised how lucky she was considering the circumstances. The man claiming to be John Silver, smiled again.

”What would you like to eat, my lady?”
”Um… anything you could spare, gentlemen.”
”Oh no, that wont do, my lady. Our stores are filled, Ben Gunn here is the best cook on the entire island and I bet it’s been some time since you had fresh food. What would you like, my lady? Fresh bread and butter? Some fruit? Tea?”

Just the mention of fresh food after long weeks at sea with salty, dried food made Abigail’s mouth water. She nodded.

”That… that would be like a gift from God, Mr. Silver.”

Both men smiled and the man claiming to be John Silver nodded.

”I’ll make you a tray, my lady. Would you like a basin with water as well?”
”If it’s not too much trouble, Mr. Silver.”
”Non at all, my lady.”

They left, Mr. Gunn with a curtious little nod and John soon returned with warm water, towels and a put a basket on the footend of the bed.

”There’s things for your daughter here and I’ll knock on the door before I bring your tray. I’ll leaved the door slightly open, thou, in case you feel unsteady on your feet.”
”Thank you, Mr. Silver.”

He nodded and left again. Abigail forced away the troubling thoughts about her current situation and the very uncertain future and focused on her daughter. Not to be ungrateful, but Abigail had never seen a man taking care of a baby and she had to check little Eliza’s cloths. Grateful, surprised and a little bit ashamed, she admitted no mother could’ve changed and washed her little one better.

She laid little Eliza on the bed and rose up. She felt very tired and a little unsteady, but there was a chair she could grab hold of as she used the chamber pot and the water basin was placed within reach from the chair on the dresser. There was even a soap and some oil smelling from lavender. How strange… Was there a woman living in the house? The clothes she had on, was a man’s shirt and trousers and Abigail’s face heated as she realised that someone, maybe a man, had put these on. But a dress being wet from fever sweat was, of course, no good and she reminded herself that there were times when normal decency had to submit to necessity.

It felt very nice to wash up and change to clean clothes. Her old dress had been washed and mended and even thou it was hardly suitable to wear anymore, at least it was clean. A comb was laying on the dresser as well as a braid and when she was done, she felt more like a lady than a shipwreck. A slight knock on the door caught her attention.

”Yes?”
”May I enter, my lady? I have breakfast for you.”
”Thank you. Um… you may enter, Mr. Silver.”

It felt very strange to allow him inside a room that was his own. Abigail didn’t know if she was a prisoner or guest or something in between, but the tray her former house slave put on the small table next to the window brought very pelasant smells in the room.

”I have tea, fresh breadrolls, butter, fruit and some egg and bacon for you here, my lady.”
”Oh, heavens… That’s breakfast for a queen, Mr. Silver. You’re being very generous to me.”

The man shrugged.

”You were always very kind to me, my lady. I’ve not forgotten that.”

He took the basin and her chamber pot – Abigail was very grateful it had a lid on – and left the room. He turned around in the door run and looked at her.

”Just call for me if you need anything, my lady. My husband will come home later and even if he looks a bit harsh, you don’t have to fear him. He’s a very nice man.”
”Sorry? Hus-husband…?”
”Nassau is a strange place, my lady, but not to all English people. It was your father, lord Ashe, who sold me off to get married to another man. And strangely as it feels to say it, I should actually thank him for it… Enjoy your breakfast, my lady. There’ll be time for questions later.”

TBC

Chapter Text

He’d expected John to stay strong. Well, to show a mask of strenght. His husband was strong, stronger than most people James had ever met and he knew that John would not let his feelings, whatever they were, loose in any company but James’. Ben was tending to Abigail Ashe in the guest chamber and John and James had locked themselves in their own chamber.

James slowly stroke his husband’s curls as the man cried in his arms. The mask could only be held up in public, he realised as the tears wet his shirt. And the highborn lady in their guest chamber awoke many painful memories. Things that had made John shiver with fear for so many years, that had made him crouch and go tense for a very long time after the wedding. Men and women who’d inflicted pain on him for no other reason than to enjoy his submission and discomfort. Abigail Ashe was innocent, she’d even tried to make John’s life a little lighter, but her presence still made his darling man cry.

James was fairly certain she didn’t know what her father had done. Not to John or to James, Thomas and Miranda. If it wasn’t for Peter Ashe and his lust for power, wealth and influence, maybe James could’ve left London together with his lovers, without secrecy or rush, and start a new life in Nassau. A life where they’d live together, all three of them, and take up Thomas’ dream of ending piracy with James as his companion. But Peter Ashe, the man they’d all believed to be their friend and ally, had betrayed them for money and power. His greed had not only killed Thomas and Miranda Hamilton. It had also killed James McGraw and given birth to Captain Flint.

John still cried against his chest and James kissed his curls, clutching him closer. The vulnerability his husband showed surprised him. The submissiveness in their ”calming John down” sessions was one thing. James spanked his husband only because it somehow helped him relax – it helped very good, even James had to admit that – but John didn’t cry in those moments and he appeared less and less vulnerable and weak for every day that passed. Being spanked turned the man on like a feral animal and seemed to make him reach higher peaks of pleasure afterwards. If a tear slipped his eyes, it was from emotional relief, nothing else.

But right now, John didn’t feel relief of any kind. He was once again a small, wounded and lonely man who’d suffered greatly and was too confused to hold the turmoil back and James was his safe haven. James had stopped crying over his loss a long time ago and he’d never been one to cry much. He went through his suffering by inflicting it on others. By letting Captain Flint be the vessel for James McGraw’s anger and sorrow. Together with captains like Vane, Blackbeard and Rackham, he’d made England tremble enough with fear to surrender to a peace treaty. A shitty one, as it turned out, but it was still more than that shithole of a kingdom had ever expected from the pirates. Little did they know, that the lieutentant they’d once banished from their land, possessing more knowledge about their fleet than they could imagine even in their darkest nightmares, had become the name of the thing they feared at sea.

Since none of the captains in Nassau hurt women and children, or killed men that surrendered, stories had started to spread in Tortuga as well as Port Royal, about Nassau as a story of success for the civilization – and how well they worked to minimize the damage that animal ”The Wild Dog” caused. James smiled hard for himself in John’s curls. It was actually nothing but increadible that they’d managed to keep Ned Low’s true identity a secret for so long. The Irishman had even changed his banner to a horrific dog biting a man’s throat and simply changed back to his usual banner before coming in sight from Nassau. Mr. Scott was involved in the secret and ”forgot” to search thorugh The Fancy before someone from the consortium could come down to the port in secret.  

Mr. Scott had as little to gain on more ”civilization” from England as the rest of them and although he didn’t wish to be a part of the consortium, he was a very important ally in the port – and their most important deliver of news. No gossip about a missing woman, or any female visitor, was spread in the port and Abigail Ashe’s arrival had been as secretive as an abductor could wish for. If the circumstances had been different, James Flint would’ve felt triumphant for the opportunity to strike a horrible revenge for Thomas, Miranda and John, but all he felt now was sorrow, tenderness and a very protective love for his crying husband.

”She was always kind to me, James, and yet…”

Another flood of tears released from the already red eyes and James shushed him softly.

”I know, love. I understand. She brings back memories… She was only a little girl when I met her and her father is the reason I lost Thomas and Miranda. It’s painful to me as well, John.”

Far more than he’d realised. He’d never cried in John’s presence for various reasons, but his darling man’s pain affected him. It reminded him of his own wound, the horrible pain he’d felt from Peter Ashe’s betrayal, from a man he thought was his friend, and then from the loss of Thomas and Miranda. John’s tears bore witness of the secret sorrow and pain the man had been forced to live with for so many years and like the sun melted the icicles in spring back in England, John’s grief reached the secret wound, melting down James’ many layers of protection and allowed the first tears in many years water the hard, green gaze and finding a safe haven in John’s hair.

TBC

Chapter Text

What was it with women and Billy Bones? Of course, Ben knew exactly what ”it” was, but still… This Abigail woman was, even in her poor state, starring at his husband with that kind of big puppy eyes that didn’t expand from fear or surprise and Ben just rolled his eyes for himself. Women gaped and drooled over Billy all the time and earlier in their marriage, Ben had actually felt jealous from that. At least until he’d seen a very annoyed Billy peel off clingy girls and women a number of times, and at one point making it very clear that he ”was happily married to a man”.

When Ben’s heart had melted – in secret – from hearing that little love confession, he’d made Billy’s favourite dishes for a week ”for no special reason” because his adorable husband didn’t realise that Ben had seen him reject the woman. Ben had never felt anxious about women’s looks on his pretty husband since then. The men was another problem, but Billy seemed completely uninterested in them as well and so the one being worried about having his husband snatched away, was Billy and not Ben. People could look if they wanted, but Ben wasn’t really comfortable with this kind of drooling. The poor woman was sick and all, but seriously… This was just ridiculous. Ben cleared his throat.

”Yeah, as I said, my lady, this is my husband Billy.”

Billy smiled at the woman.

”Good day, my lady. I hope you’re being well taken care of.”
”Yes, I… I certainly am, Mr…?”
”Bones, my lady. But Billy will do just fine.”
”You’re… married?”

Ben was almost about to say something when Billy put an arm around him and planted a kiss on his hair.

”To the best man in the entire New Providence, my lady.”

By deliberately misunderstanding the question and kissing his hair, Billy somehow made Ben’s irritation disappear immediately. Billy smiled at the confused woman.

”Life here in Nassau is a bit different than in London, my lady.”
”I… I’m starting to understand that, sir.”
”Just Billy, my lady.”
”Billy, then.”

Ben looked at her.

”Do you need any help at the moment, my lady?”
”Oh, no, thank you. I have all I could wish for right now, Mr. Gunn.”

Fortunately, little Eliza woke up and wanted her mother’s attention and after a curtious goodbye, Billy left with Ben holding his hand, practically dragging him from Abigail Ashe’s sight. Ben went fast back to their own house, not letting go of his hand and once they were inside, he pushed Billy to their chamber and down on the bed, straddling him. Billy looked at him with mildly amused eyes.

”What’s this, Ben? Don’t tell me that my darling man, whom I love above all things in the world, is jealous?”
”Your man can sometimes get tired of how women are looking at you, like you’re a piece of meat.”

He leaned down to nibble at Billy’s ear, eliciting a quiet laughter from the man.

”But I’m your piece of meat, my love… Ah… And I’m yours to handle as you please…”
”Is that so, husband?”
”Uh-huh. I don’t want anyone else but you, darling, and you know that, don’t you?”
”I do, but I love to hear you say it…”
”You’re the only one I want, Ben Gunn. No man or woman could ever make me leave your arms.”

Ben moaned into the man’s neck, drawing the scent from his skin. He loved the way Billy’s skin smelled. Just a small hint of sweat, soap and sunshine. His husband was warm by nature, like a source of heat and for more than a thousand nights, Ben had slept in his arms, dwelling in the warmth and comfort. In the embrace of those arms, the shivering had stopped and the tears had dried. Ben had searched for the man in his sleep, waking up close to his chest, resting on his arm and felt a calm he didn’t know existed. And when Billy’d said you’re my husband and I’ll never hurt you,you’re the only man I want and I’ll always protect you, the frighten, cynical and lonely part of Ben’s heart simply gave up and leaned into the touch.

Billy moved to swirl his legs around Ben’s waist and lifted his ass to rest on the man’s thighs. His husband rubbed against him, he was so hard already and Billy moaned.

”Please, Ben… fuck me… It’s been so long since…”

Ben answered by pushing harder against him, bending over to kiss him. Billy loved this. It had taken some time before he’d dared to ask the man for it and to his tremendous relief, Ben had been into the idea. Billy’d never been able to understand why one would deny oneself or ones spouse a pleasure for the sake of an assumption of roles. No one was there to peak inside a married couples bed chamber – hopefully! – and no one had anything to do with what happened there exept for the couple. And if couples were the woman was in charge over the husband, or a woman over her wife could shift, why wouldn’t two men do the same? An outdoor wife riding her indoor husband’s cock wasn’t submissive in any way, that sort of thinking belonged to the old world.

And Billy loved to be fucked. The first time he’d taken that role, Ben didn’t feel comfortable being on top in every way and so Billy’d rode him. It was a long time since that little problem had vanished. They removed their clothes and Billy lay down on his stomach, spread eagle with his arms stretched out in the most submissive way possible, like he was about to surrender or pray and it made Ben weak with both love and desire.

Billy closed his eyes and relished under his husband’s hands and mouth, moving down from his neck over his shoulders and the muscles in his back. When he felt Ben’s breath closer to the crack, he moaned softly and squirmed a little. The soft scraping of the beard aginst the sensitiv skin, the shallow kisses that would increase to teasing licks effectively broke him down as Ben worked him wet and open with skillful moves. A long, slicked finger played around his puckered skin until his body tried to suck it in. Ben wanted his body to beg for the touch and it did so easiily. Ben kept kissing his shoulders as he moved his finger, adding another after a while and slowly making him flower open for him.

The touch made his mind flutter. It felt so good to be filled again and when he was wet enough, he flipped around again, pulling Ben down and moving to nuzzle the man’s curly hair between his legs. Ben made a small, pleased sound as Billy took him in his mouth and moved the tip of his tongue over the slit. Billy hummed.

”Fuck… I love to taste you…”

Ben only moaned softy, digging his fingers in Billy’s short hair. Billy treated his cock as if it was a delicious dainty, lapping up the leaking fluid under almost wanton noises. It was almost too good and Ben moved his head gently, turning him to lay on his back.

”How do you want me to take you?”

He said it as a tease, knowing how much Billy loved to hear him say it and Billy spread his legs, lifting one of them to rest on Ben’s shoulder and the man moved closer to rub his cock over his perineum until Billy couldn’t take it anymore.

”Please, Ben… I need you…”

Needed him so badly and his body opened up for the man so naturally. Ben cursed and Billy understood, because he must be fucking tight now after so long time. Slowly with lots of oil and short breaks to adjust and get used again, Ben entered him all the way and it was glorious. Billy moaned from the friction and grabbed the sheet with both hands.

”Fuck, you’re huge…”
”Want me to stop?”
God no!”

Ben chuckled and when he was flushed against Billy’s ass, he bent forward to kiss him. Billy leaned in to the kiss, allowing his body to go weak and relaxed as Ben began to thrust slowly while his tongue swirled in his mouth, kissing as deep as he fucked, devouring his husband with his body.

Increasing the pace, Ben hit that sweet spot deep inside him and Billy let out a string of curses. His husband was so thick and hard inside him, pulsating and stretching him open by every thrust. Shifting between faster and slower moves, slightly changing the angle by bending Billy’s legs further down, Ben reached so deep inside him, Billy almost lost his breath. Every thrust elicited high pitch moans from him, incomprehensible syllables and beggings to be fucked harder, deeper, more and Ben certainly wouldn’t deny his husband that.

Billy was halfway gone in pleasure, his hot shin squeezing so tightly around his husband’s cock, Ben knew it wouldn’t take long. He started rubbing Billy’s cock, wet and slick from precum and the man folded his legs hard around Ben’s waist and pushed his shoulders further down the mattress, trying to get even more of the man inside him even if it wasn’t possible and when Billy came, his hole squeezed so tight around Ben, the man couldn’t move.

Seeing Billy come undone like this was something Ben could never get tired of. His husband was a mess of broken moans and lingering pulsations from the climax and Ben leaned down to nibble his ear.

”Could a woman make you feel like this…?”
”No… never. You’re all I want, my love… All I’ve ever wanted. You make me feel so good...”

And only then, Ben pushed hard and came deep inside the silky heat in his far from dominant husband, still moaning and panting under his touch, grasping for him to come closer. The man almost sobbed under him when they were coming down from the high.

”Never change, Ben… Promise me that. I don’t want anyone but you and only you.”

Ben pressed a soft kiss on his husband’s lips.

”And I you, just as you are, and no other. Ever.”

TBC

Chapter Text

She looked the same and yet different. The colour of her hair, the eyes. It was Abigail Ashe, no doubt about that, and the years and childbirth had not made her any less beautiful. Or maybe it was his own eyes that had changed the way he saw her. He was not a crouching slave anymore, desperate for any word, gaze or touch that didn’t came out of malice. He put the tray on the small table.

”Good day, my lady.”
”Good day, sir.”
”Please, just… John.”
”Only if you call me Abigail, sir. I’m not your mistress anymore.”
”Abigail, then…”
”Thank you, John.”

She was sitting in the armchair James had brought in to the guest room. She had a blanket over her lap and her little daughter in her arms. Someone, probably Max or Idelle, had made her some new clothes and she was neatly dressed in a simple but beautiful dressing gown. Some dresses were hanging on another chair and when Abigail saw he was looking at them, she smiled.

”Your friends made me these. I’m very grateful for all the kindness me and my daughter are shown. I didn’t expect that…”

John smiled at her.

”From former pirates? May I sit down?”
”Yes, of course.”
”You still prefer cream with your tea?”
”Oh, yes… yes, please. You stillremember that?”
”Of course I remember, my lady.”
”Just Abigail.”
”Sorry, old habits…”

He filled two cups with the rich peach tea and poured a small amount of cream in Abigail’s cup. She thanked him and took a small sip.

”Heavens, this is delicious!”
”Thank you. It’s made of peaches. One of Ben’s finest teas.”
”If only our cook back in Boston had been half as skilled…”
”Try the croissant.”

The face she made when biting in the freshly baked pastry didn’t leave any room for questions and John chuckled.

”I think I made a face like that when I first had one of Ben’s cinnamon buns.”
”He made this too?”
”Actually, no. I did. But he taught me how.”

Abigail put down the pastry, finished the bite and took a sip of her tea.

”First the breakfast and now this… You’re truly treating me like a queen, John. But why?”
”Because you were always so kind to me… Abigail.”
”How did you end up here?”
”Your parents didn’t told you?”

She shook her head.

”I came back home from Paris some weeks after your leave, I think. When I asked about you, my father said a gentleman from New Providence had bought you as his personal servant. He said you were happy when you left, but…”

John waited and Abigail sighed a little.

”I knew you were treated poorly, John, and I know my parents never cared much about our servants, so I just hoped you’d come to someone who would be nice to you, but I had no illusions. All I knew is that my father made a lot of money by selling you. It made me wonder.”
”It was Woodes Rogers who bought me, to be married off to James Flint. I don’t know how much you know about the laws in Nassau, but they’re… quite different from the ones in the old world when it comes to marriages.”
”Well, I’ve understood that… But still, how could my father to that to you?”

John's smile turned a bit sad.

”Actually, that might be the only good thing he ever did to me. I’m sorry, Abigail, I know he’s your father but my life in that house…”
”I understand, John. You don’t have to pretend or talk kindly about my father. He made a great deal of money by marrying me off to my husband and God may forgive me for saying this, but the day my husband died, I was more relieved than a widow should be. I’m not the delicate, innocent girl I was when you knew me as miss Ashe, John. Even the man who burned the ship, Captain Low, treated me better than my late husband, may God have mercy on his soul. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive my father for marrying me off to that brute…”
”I’m so sorry to hear that, my… I mean Abigail. But no one will treat you or your baby bad here. You’re our honored guest.”
”Or honored prisoner?”

She smiled in a way that reminded John about himself during his first time in Nassau. The smile of someone who knew that the kindness being showed to you could just as easily be taken away and replaced with malice. When you knew you depended entirely on others mercy. John swallowed.

”Believe me, Abigail, when I say that I understand some of what you feel right now. I’ve felt it almost all my life and only discovered very recently how it can feel to not live in constant fear.”
”This Captain Flint… I’ve heard stories…”
”About his malice and cruelty? About how he betrayed England and left to leave an ungodly life, killing all things in his way...”
”Yes.”
”And your father sold me to him, knowing that…”
”Good God, John… I’m so ashamed…”
”Don’t be. You are not responsible for your father’s actions and the stories you’ve heard about the cruel monster Captain Flint, are nothing but lies. Marrying me off to him might be the only good thing your father ever did to me.”

He sighed.

”I understand how my marriage must look to a christian woman of noble birth, but the life I have here is one of happiness and love. I’m treated with kindness, I have a position in society that gives me respect and most of all, my husband loves me and I love him. I’m not a slave anymore, Abigail, but the honored husband to a Captain and although it’s not always been easy, I wouldn’t trade my husband or our life here for anything or anyone in the world.”
”And now I’m the one at mercy…”

That was true and she must be afraid. John filled her cup.

”I know it’s pointless to say you don’t have to be afraid, but all we can do is trying to show you that it’s true. I have no wish to let you and your child take the conequences of your parents actions towards me. Yes, you are our prisoner, I wont deny that, but this place is a far better prison than an unhappy marriage or a pirate ship. If my husband would allow you to go out here as you please, you could end up getting hurt. Nassau is a dangerous place and for the time being, you’re far better off here than on a ship or walking on your own. And you have a quite skilled nanny in Ben Gunn.”
”Oh, yes… He seems to be a natural… The other man, his… husband…”
”Billy Bones?”

John smiled at her blushing cheeks. He could very much understand why Billy made her blush and why Ben probably would be most unwilly to leave his husband alone in Abigail’s company.

”A pretty man most people throw their looks at when first seeing him. Ben is used to it and mostly he doesn’t care, but I guess it can be a bit tiresome sometimes.”

She blushed even more at his words.

”I should be ashamed of myself… Looking at men like that.”
”This is Nassau, my lady, I mean Abigail. Things aren’t the same as in England and sometimes they’re better. The fact that you’re a woman doesn’t make you a property here. Things are more complicated than that. You can look, but please don’t look too much at Billy in Ben’s presence. It makes the poor man nervous enough to see people look at his husband in public. We should spare him that in his neighborhood.”

He gave her his most disarming grin.

”Now I have a very important question to you, Abigail, and it’s important that you answer it honestly.”

She looked a bit scared, but nodded.

”Of course, John.”
”Do you like chocolate?”

TBC

Chapter Text

”We’re not ready for a battle of any sort yet, Flint.”
”Who said anything about a battle?”
”We’re holding a highborn, English lady as a prisoner, for God’s sake. How long do you think it’ll take until some of Low’s men talk too much?”
”I have that lady in my home, Eleanor, and I’m well aware of the danger, but as long as no one in here are talking too much, it’ll remain a secret.”

The secret consortium hold the meeting at the Guthries this morning.  A strange choise of place perhaps, but sometimes doing things in public made people less suspicious. And people knew that both Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham attended those meetings, since they had dispensation from the indoor/outdoor rules. Max Marliot’s presence as an serving woman was not strange either, since her wife was the head of the consortium and it was common practise that the heads indoor spouse provided the attendents with food and drink during longer meetings. Eleanor sighed.

”What if John or Ben say the wrong thing in the wrong ear?”

Billy just snorted.

”You clearly don’t know our husbands, Elle. If they wanted too, those two could keep things secret even to themselves. I swear Ben have secrets to himself he’s struggling to find out.”

James couldn’t help but laugh.

”He’s right about that, Elle. I’ve been married to John for quite some time now and I’m fairly good at reading people, but even I can’t read John if he’s made up his mind to keep something a secret.”

Eleanor made a self-ironic grin.

”Well, then I’m not the only outdoorer here, struggling to understand my indoor spouse.”

Rackham snorted and pointed at his silent wife.

”I can assure you, Elle, that woman is a mystery to me.”
”Fuck you, Jack.”
”See? She’s not even good at pretending she’s an indoorer and I still can’t read her. Don’t worry, Elle. I don’t know John, but I know Ben well enough to know he can keep a secret better than most people and John is very hard to read. They know as well as anyone here what’s at stake here.”

No one answered that, because they all knew far too well. Billy broke the silence.

”How far are we with the training?”
”Quite far, I’d say.”

Anne sounded far less displeased than usual, which was a good sign, since she was known to be a pessimist by nature. If she said ”quite far”, it meant something between ”done and ready” and ”really fucking good”. The weeks that had passed since the practise had started, hadn’t only been about battle skills. Ocracoke Island was a base these days, guarded to the teeth on a strict schedule and with a very large stock of supplies, not only weapons, but also dried food that could last for a long time in the heat, and barrels with fresh water. There were battle clothes for woman, made to be able to wear underneath long dresses to cover them when needed and light enough to wear under the dresses not to rise suspicion.

”The difficult part is the fort.”

The redheaded woman sighed.

”We need to know exactly how the fort’s defenses are built up and how many prisoners it can hold.”
”Prisoners?”

Vane frowned and Bonny threw out her hands.

”Well, we can’t just kill’em off, since there are no good place to hide that many bodies without raising suspicion. Bodies will be found too easily on this island, that’s just a matter of fact, and so we need a place to keep’em imprisoned. If no bodies are found, then the governor can’t rise suspicions about it.”

James scratched his beard.

”Speaking of bodies, how are things going at the tavern? With the extra strong liqour.”
”Oh that…”

Max laughed.

”I must say I’m proud of Idelle. The English soldiers are completely at her and the girls feet from that brew. Their forces are very relaxed and more than one soldier has been very interested in the prospect of not returning home at all.”

Vane snickered.

”That’s interesting… They’ve come to despise civilization?”
”Well, let’s just say they’ve discovered things in the more uncivilized world of Nassau they realise they wont be able to enjoy back in England.”
”Like cock, peace and no fucking uniform?”
”Among other things, yes, Chaz.”
”This is all good news, but what about Abigail Ashe?”

James hated being the one to destroy the good spirit in the room, but sooner or later, someone would come looking for her. Eleanor nodded.

”Our main problem is that we’re not ready for a battle yet and that woman could either be a valueable prisoner or a very dangerous one.”
”John refuses to kill her.”

Anne rose her eyebrows.

”And since when does John or anyone of us indoorers have anything to say in this matter?”
”Because Abigail Ashe may be the reason why he even survived back in England. If we do her any harm, he’ll kill me in my sleep.”
”And I’ll help him, Flint.”

They all turned to look at Ned Low, who was sitting a bit further away from the table, with his legs hanging over the armsupport. When he saw their looks, he just shrugged.

”Ya’ll know how I feel ’bout killin’ mothers and children. Don’t look so feckin’ surprised. If I’d wanted her dead, I’d not brought her or her gal here in the first place.”

Rackham rose his eyebrows.

”One day, you have to explain your moral code to me, Captain Low, because it simply doesn’t make any sense to me right now.”

Low grinned.

”When we’ve defeated England, Rackham. Or are on our way to the gallows after we’ve been defeated by her.”

Billy tapped his cup in a, for him very unusual, impatient way.

”Maybe Low should stay here for some weeks for a start. There’s always a chance that someone would reckognize your recent banner and make the, for us, wrong kind of connections. And we’re not moving this Ashe girl.”

Vane snickered.

”And forcing Ben and John to be her attendents and nannies?”

Billy shrugged.

”Isn’t it better for all of us, if she’s seeing some of Nassaus’ residents as her rescuers? If she’s feeling grateful and is treated with kindness, maybe she’ll see us all in a better way?”
”Kindness?”

Bonny sounded as if she doubted the very concept of it, but Billy just nodded.

”If she discovers that we’re not the scum of the world, if she’s forced to see us as humans and even have us to thank for her life and comfort, not to mention the life and comfort of her baby, she can’t keep the image of us as animals anymore…”
”And if she realises that a life here could be far better for her and her daughter than in England…”

James never finished the thought, but suddenly he realised that Abigail Ashe might not be a threat to them, or even something to bargain with, but actually an opportunity to make her see another life ahead of her, than the one of a recent widow with a child, once again being put out on the marital market to the highest bidder. He nodded.

”We’ll treat her as an honored guest, showing her a way of life she wont have if she returns…”
”A life where a woman doesn’t have to be a property…”

Max added that with a smile and her outdoor wife, Eleanor, took her hand and squeezed it. They had despised the marriage laws from the very beginning and sometimes had a hard time not showing it. The secret consortium was, as the time on Ocracoke had been to others, a space to breathe in for their marriage. James had no illusions that every marriage in Nassau was a secretly happy one, but there were far more happy marriages here than he’d ever imagined. And people were ready to fight for that happiness.

TBC

Chapter Text

She wasn’t stupid. She was clearly a prisoner and wouldn’t be allowed to leave, but in the same time, Abigail had to admit she was still treated like a queen and little Eliza like a princess. And comparing to both the ship she’d travelled with and Ned Low’s cabin, it was pure luxury. A caged one, but still a luxuary. And the company was… well, to be completely honest to herself and Abigail usually was, it had been a long time since she’d had such pleasant company and she silently prayed to God that He’d forgive her for those thoughts, but she couldn’t help them.

First of all, she didn’t feel threatened by the men keeping her imprisoned. They all treated her and her daughter like royalies and made sure they didn’t lack anything. The clothes made for her was of the practical kind, but very comfortable and, as she discovered, didn’t require help from a chamber maid to get dressed into. And they weren’t at all improper or poorly made so how come English women didn’t dress like this when it was so comfortable?

No one peeked on her while nursing Eliza or when she bathed or changed clothes and to her pleasant surprise, she slept very well during nights and so did her little girl. The food was nothing but delicious and John brought her books to read and let her sit in the salon in Ben’s company while the guestroom was cleaned. One afternoon when Eliza was asleep in a big basket in the kitchen, Abigail sat by the table looking at John preparing the supper. It was a very well organized kitchen, at least she assumed it was, because like other noble ladies, Abigail had never been allowed near the servant areas in the house. Not as a child and not as a married woman.

She had to admit it felt strange to see a man in a kitchen, especially since it bore so many signs of domesticity. The pots and pans shined, the surfaces were clean and the floor – as she discovered after a while – was scrubbed every night after supper. Jars and bins were neatly organized and when John allowed her to have a look in the pantry one day, she was right down impressed and when she said that, he laughed.

”Heaven forbid you’d ever see Ben Gunn’s pantry, because his kitchen is probably the model of all kitchens. I think I suffered a minor shock when I saw it for the first time. But I was looking for… Oh, that’s right. Would you like a piece of chocolate with your tea, myl… Abigail?”
”Yes, please.”

She prefered to sit in the kitchen, seeing John work, than being by her own in the salon. Ben Gunn had made little Eliza a ragdoll and whenever she needed to be nursed, the men would allow them privacy. There was only one thing that made her feel uneasy and when John was sitting down with her at the table, serving them both tea, she finally gave voice to it.

”Pardon me, John, but may I ask you a question?”
”Of course.”
”I realise this is non of my business, but… I’ve hardly seen your… husband.”
”That’s because he’s avidoing you.”
”Oh…”

He smiled.

”I know I’m a bit blunt sometimes, but that’s the truth, myla… Abigail.”
”Have I done something to offend him?”
”Oh no, not at all. But the name Ashe is… how should I put it, not only bringing me back to unpleasant memories. And no, don’t apologies again, because non of my sorrows or my husbands, are of your making.”
”It still makes me sad knowing I remind you both of painful days. Seems like a very poor way of showing my gratitude for your kindness.”
”You didn’t choose your parents and I certainly didn’t choose mine, so please, don’t feel any guilt for things you had nothing to do with. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised you’re taking all this so well.”

Abigail laughed a little at that and took a bite of the freshly baked chocolate pastry she’d been served to her tea. It was just as good as everything else she’d been eating during her ”imprisonment”. In fact, it was delicious.

”The things I’ve heard about pirates… I’ve been told they’re barely human, even if they repent. That they’re forever damaged, their souls beyond salvation…”
”And the way you’re treated here doesn’t make any sense. I understand that.”

John looked at her with friendly, but serious eyes and Abigail was struck by how much older he seemed. The beard added to that impression of course, but more than that, the eyes did. As if he’d seen too much in a short time, or lived life faster than she had during the years that had passed since they last saw each other back at her parents’ home. Their roles may not be reversed now, but they clearly weren’t the same in matters of power and Abigail was very aware of that.

”Do you need something for your hands, Abigail?”
”Excuse me?”
”I can see you’re nervous and to me it usually feels better if I have something to do with my hands. Do you still do embroideries?”
”Yes… yes, I do.”

John rose from the table and went to the salon. When he returned, he had a large sewing box with him that he put on the table. He opened it and looked through it before he took out a piece of linen fabric and unfolded it.

”My husband bought this for me and I happened to already have a similar pattern. It’s roses and I think I have… yes, here they are.”

He took out some yarns in three different shades of red and put on the linen.

”Maybe these would do.”
”They look lovely, John. But are you sure you…?”
”Of course I am. You’ll get stircrazy if you don’t have something to focus on when your little one is sleeping.”
”And I’m not going anywhere…”

She’d not meant to say it. It just slipped her lips, but John didn’t seem to take offense at all. He just cut her a piece of thread for the needlework and gave her.

”No, you’re not. And you’re smart enough to understand why it’s a really bad idea. Nassau is quite civilized, but even civilized cities are dangerous to a lonely woman and her infant. I take no pleasure in keeping you here against your will, but when darkness falls and drunken men get their eyes on a lonely woman or man that bares no sign of being the spouse of anyone, she or he will be prey.”
”I… I still have my wedding band.”
”In Nassau you’ll need either a collar around your neck or a wrist band with a key on. Something that prooves you’re a citizen or belongs to one.”

Focusing on the embroidery really helped. It was familiar and so was the tea. Back in Boston, she’d sit like this in her home with her neighbour ladies and stich while having tea and pastries. Only it had happened very rarely. Her husband had not been very fond of her ”sharing gossips and eating herself fat” with friends, so Abigails social life had been quite small and restricted. Mostly older women who prefered praying and preaching about the importance of having sons. This was actually the first time since getting married, that Abigail had truly enjoyed herself in another company than her now dead chamber maid.

A slight knock on the door interrupted her thoughts and John rose.

”It’s probably Ben. We usually spend the afternoons together after we’re done with our chores. I hope it’s alright with you?”
”Oh, yes, yes of course.”

A prisoner, but still a guest. Things were clearly very strange here, but she couldn’t complain. When the blonde man joined them, he was just as polite and friendly as earlier and had his own basket with needlework with him. John served him tea and then Ben took out something that looked like a small cover in soft, pink calico.

”I thought your little girl might be short of a blanket in her size, madame.”
”I… Oh, I’m… Yes, she is, sir. This is… I don’t know how to thank you, Mr. Gunn.”
”Ben will do, madame.”

The cover was beautiful and embroided with flowers, but it wasn’t done yet and Ben’s skilled hands moved very efficiantly over the fabric, slowly leaving a pattern of white flowers after them. Abigail might be very unused to this society, but she was not one to shut her eyes when they were once opened to new things. The homes she’d seen here, the way she’d been treated, the food and how well her little girl had been taken care of by these men rose a lot of questions.

Clearly some men could do women’s tasks here without feeling the slightest ashamed for it, and some women could do men’s tasks as well. It was all a matter of which role you had, not the sex. This was a very strange and probably ungodly thing, but that was a thought only a fool would give voice to in this situation. Abigail Ashe was no fool and as the calm afternoon passed in this surprisingly pleasant company, she obliviously became quite fond of it.

TBC

Chapter Text

”Who am I?”
”What did you say, John?”
”Who am I, husband?”

James entered their bed chamber. His husband was sitting by the dresser, looking into the mirror. James had come back much later than expected, long past supper time and John was getting ready for bed. He’d combed his hair, floating over his shoulders in long pitch curls. James walked over to him and put his hands on John’s shoulders.

”You are John Silver. A man who I’m proud to call my husband.”

He kissed the hair.

”A man I love, who brought me back to life when I thought I could never love again.”

He entangled hands with his husband’s and squeezed them, while nuzzling his neck.

”You’re not a slave, not a thing to be sold or owned and the only reason you’re obeying me these days, is to keep the public eyes away and because it makes you feel good.”
”I’ve become rugged and ugly…”
”What? Why do you say such things, husband?”
”Because they’re true. Just look at me…”
”John… Come here, my love.”

James pulled him up from the chair, took a blanket from the bed and went to the small brazer they’d lit earlier. He put the blanket on the floor, sat down and pulled John to sit in his lap, wrapping his arms around him.

”When I first saw you in the townhouse, I thought about two things. Firstly, what a bad idea the marriage was and secondly, how stunning you were. So pretty and so fragile… Stunningly beautiful, but so scared and sad. I felt like a predator looking on a prey I hadn’t chased after.”

His husband sighed.

”Stunningly beautiful…”
”But not nearly as beautiful as now.”
”How can you say that?”
”Because I wanted a man, not a boy.”

James started combing the thick curls with his fingers, eliciting pleased hums from John.

”When I agreed to marry you, I was stupid enough to assume you were about my age. It was one of Ashe’s friends in Port Royal who told me you were only twentyseven when the deal was already struck. When you said you were twentynine it was the first good news I’d had about my marriage. I still felt ancient to be honest, but ten years gap seemed slightly better than twelve.”

The dark mass of hair, slowly started to become free of the worst knots.

”I couldn’t see you as a man back then, John. Your fear, your submissivness, your posture… Not a man and not a boy. And so frightened of me… I wanted that fear to go away and at the same time, I was disgusted by myself. Knowing how the plan I’d worked out to sneak out of marriage, had backfired against an innocent man. I despised myself and everytime I saw you, trying to please me, crouching or crying, all I wanted was a way out. For both of us.”

He kissed the neck.

”You were a responsibility, husband only to the name and a reminder of my bad judgement. Then you became the good husband who’s efforts and progress I didn’t notice and who’s silence I took as a sign of disgust for me. And I could understand that, so I tried to avoid you and compensate that disgust by making sure you felt the right to enjoy the comfort in our home. And I started to desire you…”

John sighed a little as he felt his husband’s beard scrape softly against his neck and James pressed another soft kiss on the sensitive skin.

”For a long time, you were a beautiful, desireble man I didn’t want to desire because I was so certain it would nevere be a mutual feeling. I feared your rejection, your disgust and it seemed impossible to think of anything better or deeper than a brotherly acceptance could develope between us. I fell in love with you, John, but didn’t understand that myself.”

John’s body shivered a little from the touch and James slowly wrapped his arms around him.

”You’re my husband, John, but what’s more important is that you’re the love of my life. I want you and no other by my side. Every day I wake up, every night I go to sleep, you are the first and last my eyes and thoughts will reach out to. If there’s a God and if He listens to any of my prayers, He knows you’re the thing I will be forever grateful for and worry about. If I loose you, John, I’ll not only loose a husband and a lover, but a piece of my soul… Look up into the mirror, my love…”

John did as asked and looked at the two faces. James smiled softly.

”Do you know what I see when I look at you, John Silver?”

John shook his head and James stroke his index finger over his husband’s cheek.

”I see the man I wanted when I thought I was given a boy. The most beautiful man on Earth, aging with me and sharing his desireble body, loving heart and brilliant mind with me. A treasure I for a long time didn’t know I had and therefor didn’t value, that I want to cherish and care for the rest of my life. I see my present and my future, the joy of my life and the reason I don’t go to sleep or wake up with memories and shadows anymore. I see you, John Silver. Only you.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Whatever flaws Ned Low had, an unreliable tongue or unruly men weren’t among them. Not one word about their prisoner had slipped away and one reason for that was Low’s very real threat to cut the heart and tongue out from anyone who didn’t keep silent – and fry the body parts in front of them and force them to eat them. From another captain than Low, that might have been seen as an empty threat, but the one-eyed Irishman was no liar and what little compassion he had for humans, was reserved for the women and children. Ned Low had his standards. He did’t mind cutting up a man like pork and use the remains as fish bate or slice a prisoner’s veins shallow enough to let him bleed slowly to death, but one thing he didn’t do, was lying. Especially not to his men. So when he, in his calm, almost slow way declared that anyone who let his tongue loose about the human prize they’d taken would be eating his own tongue and teeth before being left to slowly die from hunger in the cargo space, his men knew it wasn’t a joke. And Abigail Ashe or The Good Fortune were never heard of in the Nassau tavern or anywhere else on the island.

Ned Low himself didn’t visit the tavern other than to discuss the war. As far as the Irish captain could tell from the ships he’d taken, England was in no way prepared for even a large battle at the moment. He’d questioned every captain carefully and since he was so unheard of considering the few female prisoners he’d come across who were the only ones to survive his raids never could tell which banner he had, his absent eye and Irish accent was the only things his survivors could tell about. And the fact that he didn’t only spare women and children, but treated them if not kindly so at least respectful. The reports about the mysterious pirate captain that hadn’t signed the pardon were few, contradictive and to Governor Rogers and Captain Humes great dismay, not as easy to deal with in public.

The population in Nassau didn’t show any signs of wanting to get rid of civilization, but as the soldiers could report back to Hume, people on the street would often meet the governor’s statements about Ned Low as an ungodly animal who wouldn’t hesitate to slay every human being on the island, with the simple, undeniable truth that no woman or child had died, being raped or even wounded intentionally in those raids and that was more than one could say about any raid from the king’s men. And since Rogers was in no way a stupid man, he didn’t try to deny that truth. He’d never pretended to have any sympathy for the former pirates or their way of life, but unlike many men in his position, he didn’t underestimate them.

Everyone thrived from the deal that had been struck. There was peace, the raids had decreased to a fragment of their former number and some of the most feared names in the Caribbean, Vane, Flint, Teach, Rackham, Bonny and Hornigold, had not crossed the deal once, but all seemed to honor it. There was only one problem. Since the punishment of Esther Holmes, even the more God fearing people in Nassau, who’d never been a part of the piracy in any other way than buying the most basic things for survival from them and certainly not been in favour of the matelotages, had showed their malcontent and despise. Not in an illegal way of course, or even rude, but Charlotte could once again tell her husband that she didn’t receive the usual invitations or finer goods anymore.

Now, the governor wasn’t a vain man, but he knew that when small signs of approval or liking decreased or even stopped entirely, it was cause to listen. No names could be pointed out, since the sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Holmes was of a kind that you honestly couldn’t take for disrespect against the governor or England. They were both well liked people and Billy Bones’ and James Flint’s spouses had both helped the couple to rise from the gutter by a simple act of kindness that somehow made the social effects of the punishment take far less time to go away. And since no crime had been committed and not even the most scrupulous supporter of England had anything to report about Ben Gunn or John Silver, there was nothing to do about it. And to be honest, Rogers didn’t care much about it for any moral reasons. Kindness was, after all, something that the pirates were supposed to appreciate if civilization would ever work.

No, Rogers had no problem keeping the population in order. In fact, if you didn’t know Nassau had been a pirate city for so many years and that at lest every third man you saw on the street had been a pirate once, it was a more calm place than a city of the same size in England. You could almost mistake it for a Christian place. At least until you realised that more than tenth of the population engaged in sexual relationships with a person of the same sex, that the black and asian people were not slaves and some women had more power than men, even in marriage. The roles were upside down in many ways and the people who attended service in the small chapel, may look like they listened to pastor Lambrick’s sermons about the natural order, but no one seemed very keen to preach for people outside the choir.

The govenor was, how ever, very interested in what the island’s only priest had to say, and the two men had a private conversation at the governor’s place over a cup of wine, while the pastor told him about the situation, that was more complex than one might think.

Seemingly godfearing, properly married couples with children who behaved as decent as one could wish for and attended mass every Sunday, were also seen exchanging friendly smiles and kind words with whores and sodomites while doing their arrends in the market. When the governor asked pastor Lambrick about it, the young priest simply shrugged and said that separating the sheep from the goats didn’t necessairly mean the sheep had to spit in the goats direction. The pastor had a very good view of his flock and pointed out that if the governor wanted the congregation to preach openly against sodomy and other unnatural behaviors, things that the pastor had to point out the governor himself had allowed despite the congregation’s – and God’s – opinion on the matter, then the congregations future could be in danger.

And, as the pastor also could tell from the congregation gossip: with or without the law that allowed matelotages and women to be the head in a marriage, and no matter how important his flock thought it was to keep to the law and punish those who violated it, seeing a husband being forced to humiliate his wife in public like Holmes had been forced to do to Esther, awoke more sympathy for the couple than the law. Because, as the pastor already had told the governor before and was more than willing to tell him again: just because the marriages and matelotages forced the indoor spouse to utterly and complete obedience and submission, and mostly were arranged in a way that reminded of slavery, it would be a huge mistake to take it as sign of lacking love or care.

Now, naturally, the pastor knew that the matelotages and the marriages with the wife being head of the house were abominations to God, but considering how well the outdoor women could handle things that the church and of course pastor Lambrick himself, had thought to be impossible for the fairer sex, and all of that without any signs of decreasing child births or a raising number of miscarriages, deformed or stillborn children. Another thing the pastor had noticed, was the fact that children born out of wedlock were actually rare on the island, even among those who didn’t belong to the congregation. One of the surgeons and two midwives in his flock who’d all lived and worked on the island for over twenty years and previor to that in England, could tell about significant low rates of both venereal diseases and fatherless children among both Christians and the rest of the population.

All of this was, of course, something that puzzled the pastor and although he belived in the Holy Word and would rather die than deny his God, he also knew that he was just a humble sinner himself and that God worked in mysterious ways. Sometimes a little too mysterious, but to meet sinners who didn’t act violently towards Christians or tried to lure them into sin, but simply let them have their faith and church in peace – and even helping out with both material and work force for free one time when a storm had destroyed the church roof – with threats of hell and eternal damnation would, no matter how righteous it was, only lead to more division. Pastor Lambrick was a far too practical man to risk that.

So, if the governor was interested in taking an advice from a simple pastor, it would be to have awareness of the fact that people in Nassau generelly, even if they were true Christians, also were very pragmatic people who had no wish to submit themselves to laws that looked good and godly on paper, but would lead to division in the community. The thing was, as the pastor finished his private cermon for the governor, that without any prooves of these malcontent people actually breaking the law, there were only three ways to handle the situation. The governor could keep on as he did, and see the order kept to the prize of decreasing popularity among most citizens. Or, he could enforce new laws that made matelotages and marriages with women in charge illegal, and by that risk an uproar lead by men like Flint, Vane and Blackbeard – the very thought of that scenario made the governor shiver inside – not to mention women like Anne Bonny and Eleanor Guthrie. And not that pastor Lambrick imagined a simple clerk like himself knew anything about warfare and politics, but from his point of view, that scenario seemed very, very unfortunate for everyone.

So, what was pastor Lambrick’s humble advice? Well, basically: don’t give Ned Low a reason to live up to his reputation by upsetting the population in a way that make them feel that the original peace treaty isn’t enough. The governor refilled the pastor’s cup and smiled.

”You’re a very cynical man for being a clerk, pastor Lambrick.”

The pale clerk shrugged.

”It’s always easy to be an idealist when you don’t have to meet the unpleasant or complex sides of life, governor. And in the end it’s neither England nor the pirates who’ll judge. What can a man do but act according to his conscience and hope for God’s mercy with a humble heart?”

The governor had to agree with that, but as they finished their drinks, Woodes Rogers couldn’t help but wonder how a man as steadfast and virtuous as pastor Lambrick could express, not sympathy, but some form of understanding for the ungodly ways of the matelotages and even point out good things that had come out of something that was considered an abomination. Maybe the simple answer to that was a mutual care and respect, perhaps even love, even if it was a twisted and perverted form. And no matter what the pastor, the governor or any other man thought about this way of living, only a fool would shut his eyes for the benefits these liberal ways had brought not only to the island, but the Christian world who didn’t have to fear unleashed pirates on the seas anymore. Oh, if you didn’t count Ned Low. And Woodes Rogers started to have an increasing feeling that men and women who once had all the freedom in the world and could compare it to this relative freedom the peace treaty gave them, may be tempted to cast it away, if the price seemed too high to pay in the long run.

TBC

Chapter Text

When Charles Vane came back from one of his raids, he had a quite unusual cargo with him. At least for his ship. If Anne Bonny had not been with him as his quartermaster, he may not have done it because even if men who preferred men were fewer than those who wanted women, ten molly boys from milky white to Tahitian pearl black, with soft hands and glittering eyes was a temptation horny sailors found it hard to resist.

Technically, Vane had bought them from different brothels, but he hadn’t paid for them himself – the whole secret consortium had – and the thought was to give them a better life as well as use them to help the silent revolution proceed. Therefore it was crucial that they were treated kindly and with respect. The price for that was a couple of malcontent men in the crew who’d gotten themselves a black eye and shallow cuts from Anne. Cuts that would be much deeper, longer and wider if they made that mistake again.

The girls at Nassau Inn were prepared for this and since they all had more clients than they had time for, the ten mollies were actually welcome. And most of all by some of the governor’s men who now could enjoy a vice that would have them hanged back in England. Eleanor Guthrie who ruled over the inn had given the girls very strict orders not to sabotage for the new employers in any way. They were to be seen as assets, not competitiors, since the men and women who prefered men didn’t make the market for female prostitutes smaller. But, and this was important, the mollies were not to be trusted with spying, so from now on, everytime one of them had a client, one of the girls was to peep on them from the other room.

Peeping at co-workers and clients was not a very pleasant task, but as Max pointed out, they’d all had worse tasks and God knew a poor whore needed some time off to rest her cunt and mouth every now and then. And they’d be paid to peep, so they wouldn’t miss out on opportunities to earn money. The extra strong booze they’d served the soldiers for a while now, started to have effect now. Max had been concearned that the method actually costed more than it paid, but Idelle had been positive about the investment:

”It’s supposed to work slowly to not rise suspicion, and we get more information from them the more hooked they get on that brew.”

And she was right. The information went straight from the loose tongued soldiers to the girls sharp ears and then to Max and Eleanor, who brought the valuable pieces to the consortium. While the secret battle practising, the making of weapons and clothes, the repairing of ships – seemingly completely innocent and a sign of good captainship – and the stocks of fresh water an dried food, mostly pemmican and fish kept growing, the indoor spouses who were most skilled with sickcare, educated the rest of them in smaller groups, while those who were good swimmers taught those who weren’t.

Another important thing was to get to know as much of the island as possible, know which paths to take to avoid being seen and how to move silent in the darkness. Vane and Anne Bonny were pretty much naturals and they were hard and demanding teachers who often finished their lessons by telling exactly which ones among the indoorers who’d be dead if they’d been attacked during the practise.

But the most important thing in this silent war, was silence and acting natural. No one outside the allied could know about how good the indoor spouses were when it came to defend themselves or using weapons. They had to act ignorant, resist any temptation to reveal their skills. If someone on the street, a visitor or clerk, asked them about something an indoor spouse shouldn’t know about, they had to act like they would have done before. If drunken rude outdoorers, soldiers or visiting merchants acted disrespectful or even threatening towards them, they couldn’t show they carried weapons. Only things like knives, small daggers and scissors, tools an indoor spouse was supposed to use in his or her work, could be seen.

”Swallow every insult, every hard word or lewd behavior from the soldiers as far as possible and don’t give them any reason to take you to the governor’s men.”

DeGroot hold that lesson for a group of indoorers one afternoon when they were gathered for ”fabric coloring” at his and Jojis house. Of course, they were coloring fabrics for show, supervised by Ben. Then, in groups of three, the around twenty participants, took turns to learn about the art of avoiding trouble. The old sailing master smoked his pipe while talking about the virtue of being a coward:

”You see, since we’re all gonna die, there’s nothing honorable about death in itself, folks. To take risks in order to seem brave is something that’ll get you killed and you aint gonna hear no applause six feet under, so don’t try to be heroes. The most victorious battles are the ones never being fought and the second most victorious are the ones where we don’t get wounded. It’s always the one who thinks he’s a hero who’ll underestimate the enemy and probably end up getting killed or badly wounded. I’m not alive primarly because I’m a skilled shooter or swordsman, oh no. I’m alive and have all my limbs in their right places, more than anything because I’m more interested in survival than my reputation.”

He sucked on his pipe and blew out a big cloud of smoke, before pointing with it to the audience.

”And so should you be. No one will thank you for dying in vain and if your husbands and wives are anything to hold on to, they’d say the same. Glory is not much of a company the fire. Remember that. A spouse dying a so called glorious death because he or she was stupid enough not to run for cover in time, wont be much of a solice for the one who’ll eat and sleep alone after digging your grave.”

The older neighbor’s words stuck with the indoorers and John was no exception. He talked about it with Ben later that afternoon, when they were doing laundry and their guests/prisoners were sleeping. Abigail seemed to take her imprisonment quite well considering the circumstances, but naturally, she was never left unsupervised. James, Billy, Joji and DeGroot took turns keeping watch during nights and even if the highborn lady was allowed in the garden if John was working with the crops, she could not go for a walk unless it was after nightfall.

James had decided there was no way they could let her do that without leaving the child in the house and at first, Abigail had declined the offer of a walk under those terms, but after three weeks in this highly comfortable and neat prison with friendly guars, she longed to stretch her legs a bit more, and so she submitted herself to the terms and dressed in male clothes, a cloke and accepted the shackle around her wrist, with the other end attached to Billy Bones’ belt.

The idea of going alone with a man, not to mention a former pirate, shackled in the darkness only to get to stretch her legs, would’ve been something Abigail couldn’t have dreamed about in her earlier life, but since the capturing, she’d been forced to re-think about a lot of things a lady was supposed to not even know about and certainly not experience. The old Abigail would never have felt anything but horror and panic walking around late at night, chained to a man more than six feet tall with arms almost as big as her own thighs. But the time she’d spent with these men, had changed the way she thought about them.

At first most reluctantly, Abigail had to admit that apart from the sin of sodomy, these men behaved better than many nobles she’d met. They had manners, they were educated and skilled in a lot of women’s task without lacking any manly strenght. Ben Gunn took better care of her daughter than her late nursing maid ever had and non of the men drank too much or acted in a lewd manner. The most diffult thing apart from the uncertain future, was to see marital intimacy between two men. To see how Billy Bones and Ben Gunn looked at each other, how the taller man kissed his husband on the cheek or stroke his hair in passing, and how the shorter man smiled back, the blue eyes seeing only the other man as if the rest of the world seized to exist for a moment.

Abigail had not seen that kind of affection before. Not between a man and a woman and of course not between two men. She knew she should be disgusted by such a perversion, such a twisted mockery of the holy matrimony where sodomites dared to risk their immortal souls by living in sin like this. She knew what she was supposed to think about these men, but her mind refused to fall in line. Her eyes simply refused to see two vile, wretched and lost souls in the two men holding each other close in a tight embrace, while Billy kissed his husband’s hair and Ben stroke his husband’s shoulders, whenever they met after a day when Billy came back from whatever it was he worked with.

The short walks in the darkness didn’t give Abigail time to ask questions, even if she’d wanted to. But one late night when they were walking on the beach, she couldn’t help but open her mouth.

”May I ask you something, Billy?”
”If you do it in a low voice.”
”Your… marriage… Is it…”
”Are you asking how it comes we’re not acting like demons from Hell despite our mockery of holy matrimony and the word of God?”

His smirk was teasing and she blushed.

”Well, I didn’t mean to… put it like that.”
”No, but that’s what you’ve been taught, ma’m, and I don’t expect you to change your view on sodomy just because my husband’s a damn good nursemaid.”

She bite her lip, didn’t know what to say to this man who seemed able to read her like an open book. He smiled friendly at her and leaned down to whisper in her ear:

”You know what’s the most sad thing about England, ma’m? That forcing young girls to the altar to marry an old man they’ve never met, for political or financial reasons is considered a good thing, but for me to live with, care for and love another man without gaining any power or money from it, is a sin. I don’t ask for your blessings, ma’m, only your acceptance.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Captain Hume was in a very bad mood for several reasons this morning. First of all, the climate on this island was terrible. The English commandor cursed himself for every time he’d spoke ill about the weather in London, because he was clearly not fit for the Caribbean sun. Secondly, the governor seemed determined to allow abominations that should’ve been banned the same day Rogers sat his foot on this cursed island and thirdly, the pastor out of all people didn’t want a ban on the matelotages either.

Yes, Captain Hume had every reason to be sulking. For instance, there’d been no executions in over a year which could only mean that the laws were too lenient, women were allowed to rule over their husbands and worst of all: the Nassau Inn had molly boys as employees these days which had made the soldiers visits to the brothel increase in a horrifying way. Captain Hume was a practical man and knew when to look the other way to focus on the bigger goal, but the fact that men who slept with other men, an abomination that would have sent them to the gallows if there was any real civilization to talk about, could live together openly and even – and this was the worst of it – call each other husbands.

Since the day he’d made the mistake of getting in those disgusting boys Ben Gunn’s and John Silver’s way – and suffered a good beating from their fearsome husbands afterwards – the Captain only had to feel with his tongue for the holes after three missing teeth to be remined of the injustice he’d suffered. And now, his men were falling for this abomination as well. Not all of them, of course, but the time his men spent at the inn during their time off, had increased and there were daily incidents where Hume had to give reprehending speeches to one, two or even three men – and not even the same men, the behavior was spread all over the troups! – about the importance of sobriety, keeping order in their quarters and doing their duties in time, not to mention attend service on Sundays! It wasn’t too much to ask of soldiers who were paid to keep peace and maintain civilized behavior among this rotten islands citizens. If any real civilization had ruled over this place, men like James Flint and Billy Bones, as well as their disgusting and unnatural boys, would’ve rotten in the gallows for their sins a long time ago. Instead, a man who were keeping the true laws of God and the English king, was attacked by these creatures and when complaining to the governor, who indeed should’ve taken Hume’s side on this, Hume had suffered the humiliation of being reprimanded.

Woodes Rogers. A man he’d looked up to, turned out to lack in moral standards as much as the false pastor Lambrick. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Hume had tried to talk privately with the governor about what the Holy Bible said about this, the man had dared to compare the sin of sodomy to whoring and greed, talking like the fact that mockery of holy matrimony had been named far few times than the sin of whoring and sex outside wedlock where just as bad according to the Word of God!

Another great injustice the poor, Godfearing Captain was suffering right now, was boredom. One would think that an island full of former pirates, lewd whores and negros and women walking around freely like they were the white man’s equals – the lack of proper slavery on this place was another thing Hume was certain that God hated just as much he did himself – would provide lots of opportunities to punish immoral and disrespectful behavior but reports of such things had been quite few ever since Hume came to the island and it only seemed to decrease.

If Captain Hume had belonged to the new world, he would’ve seen the benefits of it. He would’ve thought about the decreasing costs for war – and wars were always expensive and the profit uncertain – and the increasing number of healthy men among his soldiers, instead of mutilated or dead ones. He would’ve felt pride to know that since the deal with England, large parts of New Providence were even more safe than London and that the number of men caughting the French disease or the number of bastard children being born was far lower than in any other city in England. But, as so many men who were brought up believing their power over other people – if so only wife and children – was a right they’d earned by simply having a pale cock, Hume was more frightened by the Nassau peoples way of life, than liberated by it.

The poor Captain’s morning didn’t turn to the better when he ran into Jack Rackham and his wife Anne Bonny down the harbour. The fact that both of them had to be addressed with Captain was an insult to anyone who deserved the title and Humes couldn’t stand the swift tongued, smug Jack Rackham or his snake of a wife, who looked more like a femal assasin than a wife. She was an indoor wife, for God’s sake! Had she no children or laundry to take care of? The idea of allowing these so called indoor spouses to take on to outdoor duties when their spouses turned ill was just another example of how ungodly this system was. It allowed men and women to switch duties and roles in a way that threatened the very nature.

Rackham and Bonny were, of course, curtious as always, but Hume knew they didn’t respect him or England or even God himself. The way they lived was a proof of that in itself and even if this island had gone mad and even turned the heads of men who’d been stable back in England, Captain Hume didn’t shiver in his boots. He honored the king of England and the laws of God that for some mysterious way seemed to be designed to make men like him prosper more than other people, because God worked in mysterious ways and to be the white man trying to bring true civilization to beasts and sodomites was a heavy burden.

It was when Hume kept lingering his eyes on certain outdoor men – the outdoor women were of no consequence since the nature itself had made women weaker in every way no matter which laws these ungodly people lived by – that his thoughts about the injustice increased. And he became far more strict when it came to looking for behavior among the population that violated the laws in any way. Disrespectful indoor spouses were reported more often to the governors visible displeasure, but not because of the minor faults. No, the ungrateful Woodes Rogers asked, no ordered Hume to not ”trouble himself with petty crimes that were hardly intentional law breaking”.

If Hume had ever been forced to get by in the world without his name, his high place in society, his sex and his sexual nature as door openers to freedom, respect and wealth, he may had been able to realise that his freedom didn’t have to decrease because other people could enjoy theirs. But Hume was a true child of the old world who had a firm belief that other peoples chains and unhappiness was natural price to pay for his happiness. He would have the goods and others would pay the price because that had been the order of the world since God created man and Hume didn’t like change.

TBC

Chapter Text

The silence in the room was so heavy, Abigail thought she’d be able to cut through it with the scissor she used for her embroidery. The man had avoided her ever since she came to this place and seemed more uncomfortable with her than John had ever done, even as a house slave. John had even said it himself, but Abigail had not dared to ask more about it.

After all, she was a prisoner and even if she, as far as she could remember, had tried to treat every member of the staff in her childhood home with kindness, she realised that John’s memories of that placer were far from pleasant. She wasn’t clear about how the marriage between John and the Captain worked, but it didn’t seem like John was displeased with his situation. If the Captain cared for him the way Billy Bones cared for his husband, he could very well hold a grudge against Abigail’s parents for the way they’d treated John.

Abigail didn’t knew any details, of course, but her memories of John as a house slave, were the ones of a crouching, skinny boy with frightened eyes who looked like he was expecting to be punished for even breathing. And he had been punished for listening to her playing. Abigail had protested, but to no use, and John had never dared to listen again. Abigail had been lectured about the impropriety for a lady to entertain a giving sweets to a skivvy boy and the staff had made a huge effort to make sure they saw as little of each other as possible after that.

Abigail respected her parents and even if it was hard to forgive them for marrying her off to a brute, because his wealth and title were beneficial for their social status, she tried to remember that she could’ve had a far worse fate and that her husband’s true nature of course was impossible to know from a letter correspondence. And even if John seemed to have a far better life here with the Captain than in her childhood home, Abigail never for a moment believed that the arrangement had been done with the intention of giving John a better future. Marriages, no matter if they were godly or ungodly, seemed to be all about power and none about love. Abigail tried to focus on her embroidery and thanked God that little Eliza was asleep. The Captain didn’t look like he cared much for babies.

”Do you have everything you need for yourself and your daughter?”

The first words he directed to her were as surprising as the fact that he spoke to her at all and she nodded.

”Yes, Captain, sir.”
”Flint will do. I’m not your captain, ma’m.”

He turned around to look at her and she had to use all her willpower not to crouch over her needle.

”You don’t remember me, do you, ma’m?”
”Pardon me, sir, but have we met before?”
”We have, but you were only a little girl at the time. I was a friend of your father and I used to visit your home in London often.”

Fragments of a man and woman with kind smiles who would give her sweets and their friend in uniform who sometimes went with them searched their way through Abigail’s memory.

”I… I recall a couple, she had dark hair. You used to come and visit together with them.”
”Thomas and Miranda Hamilton.”

His voice sounded as if he was reliving an old pain and Abigail realised he probably was. His green eyes seemed less feral and he sighed.

”My husband has told me you were the only one in your father’s household who treated him kindly. For that I’m forever grateful and I’ve promised him to not do you or your child any harm.”

Abigail swallowed hard. She heard the threat lying underneath the assurance and her eyes immediately went to her sleeping daughter in the basket beside her. The Captain looked at her.

”Did you love your husband, ma’m?”
”Excuse me, Captain?”
”Just Flint. Did you love your husband, Abigail Ashe?”

There was something with this frightening yet at the same time socially unrestricted situation that made her lay the etiquette aside and she looked him straight in the eyes.

”I did not, Ca… sir. He was a brute and the only good thing he ever gave me, was my daughter.”
”I’m sorry your marriage wasn’t happy, ma’m. But I’d been surprised if it was. Peter Ashe was never one to care more for daughters than money.”

It was true and the fact that she couldn’t protect herself by calling him a liar, made Abigail even more sad than she’d been if it had been a lie. She swallowed hard and forced herself to face him.

”I know my father, sir. I’m not one to hide from a truth once it’s revealed to me. My father is a man who’s whole life has been about wealth and social status and he’s never hesitated to use other people as pieces in his gameboard. I may be his daughter, but when it came to marriages, I was just a thing to sell to the highest bidder, just like your husband.”
”Except you were a cherished daughter and he was a beaten, starved and defenceless slave.”

The voice was hard and accusing.

”I know that you treated my husband kindly, ma’m, but even if you had no say in your marriage, you have no right to compare your situation to John’s. Your father didn’t only send him to me for money, but to use him as a tool to make me suffer. And if that’s not disgraceful enough, to inflict more pain on an old friend he’d already betrayed once for money, he was willing to ruin an innocent man’s life for a little money and the chance of making me suffer again. I don’t  mean to diminish your suffering, whatever it looked like, ma’m, and I know you are not to blame for your parents actions, but I doubt you can imagine the fear and confusion John felt when he was crying by the isle.”

She was about to answer that she knew, but he didn’t gave her a chance to talk.

”My husband was completely alone, terrified and unprepared for what was going to happen and I’ve cursed your fathers name more and more, day and night since that day. And I already cursed it years before that.”

He looked so pained now that Abigail didn’t dare to speak, even if he’d known what to say. Her hands had gone still on her embroidery and all her being was focused on the man’s calm rage and sorrow under the strained voice.

”The man and woman you remembered, who were in my company, were more than friends to me. They were both the love of my life and when your father found out about our relationship, he betrayed us, who he’d called friends, for money. Me, Thomas and Miranda Hamilton had to leave England separately not to get caught and their ship sank.”
”My God…”
”There was no God that night, ma’m. Your father caused my loved ones death and ten years later, he thought it fitting to hurt an already tormented man and a completely innocent skivvy boy to gain more money and power.”

The air felt so thick it was almost hard to breathe. The man’s pain was so clear, so sharp that Abigail knew there was no lie or exaggeration in the words. It was the simple, ugly and horrifying truth that was presented for her and her mind forbid her to hide from it.

”You will never hear a word in his defense from me, Captain Flint. I may be his daughter, but I won’t hide from things I realise must be true, even if I’ve not witnessed them myself. And I’m genuinly sorry for your loss and the pain my father has caused you, your friends and your husband.”

He looked at her for a long moment, as if he tried to figure out wheather she spoke the truth or not. When he spoke, his voice was more strained than ever.

”As much as I want to have your father pay for his crimes, I’m not one to punish his relatives for sins they’ve not committed. Whatever England is saying about the monster Captain Flint, I’ve never murdered women and children. You didn’t choose your father, ma’m, but I can’t allow you to return to London or go back to Boston.”

That didn’t come as a surprise. In fact, Abigail was surprised she was still alive, and she nodded to show she understood. The man with the hard eyes looked almost regretful.

”It may not do any difference for you, but you should know it’s nothing personal. Well, at least not towards you, ma’m. As long as you’re doing as you’re told, nothing bad will happen to you or your child. If you cause us any problems, we might have to separate you and that would bring me no joy.”

But he would do it if she was causing any troubles. She understood that and nodded again.

”I… I wont cause you any problems, sir. You have my word.”

He looked at her again as if tried to decide wheather she was trustworthy or not. Then, his intense green eyes looked away and without another word, he left the room.

TBC

Chapter Text

Jack Rackham had never been one to underestimate women, not even as a boy, and the day he met Anne Bonny, he knew why. He’d killed her asshole of a husband and freed her from the chains of a bad marriage and no matter how grateful she was for that, she’d refused to marry him for years, until the civilization came to Nassau and they both had to give in or risk loosing their ship. Of course, technically, it was Rackham’s ship, since Anne was the indoor spouse but he never thought of the Colonial Dawn as his property anymore than hers. Actually, Jack thought of himself as Anne’s property.

Their marriage didn’t mean that Anne was his spouse in that way. I can't be your wife, Jack. But you and I are going to be partners until they put us in the fucking ground. Those were her words and Jack knew that she would stay by them until the end, no matter what. He trusted her with his life and knew more than well that she was a better fighter and sailor than he would ever be. That didn’t bother Jack Rackham at all. Men who had problems with intelligent women, who didn’t want to be defended by women simply because they were women, were idiots. And when Anne had promised to obey Jack by the altar, they both knew that a bigger lie had never passed her lips.

The completed each other. Jack was a bad fighter but he knew how to manipulate people. With Anne it was the other way around. Her feelings were written all over her face and Jack protected her from being manipulated by other people. They were both vulnerable without each other and they knew it. Mutual need was a much stronger bond between two people than passing romantic or horny feelings. It was even stronger than money and most certainly stronger than stupid ideas that men could not be defended by women.

Jack Rackham was damn proud over his spouse’s progress in teaching the other indoorer sword fighting, knife fighting and sneaking around lightly. Thanks to the very unpredictable schedule for the lessons, it was practically impossible for anyone to discover a pattern and be suspicious. Jack Rackham’s wife was literally training an army of assassins right under the governor’s nose and in the evenings she would come home to him and sit by the fire, drinking beer, asking about his day and curse over squeamish and weak indoorers who didn’t learn as fast as Anne wanted them to. So when Jack’s partner, wife only by the name, came home one evening and answered his question with ”they could probably take’em down soon” and a shrug, he knew that Anne had trained one hell of a sword fighting army.

By the next secret consortium meeting, it was clear to all of them, that their defenses were about as good as they could be under the circumstances. Almost four months of practising had turned more than half of the islands indoor spouses into decent swordfighters, sharpshooters, riggers, sailors and really good swimmers. Of course, not all of them were good at all of those things, but the ridiculously large stocks of food, clothes and other important things to survive a blockade or siege was just as important. They kept guards on Ocracoke day and night to watch over the stocks and Dufresne and his outdoor spouse Eme kept books over everything that was brought there, making calculations on how long they could stand a blockade.

Charles Vane had, of course, expressed his opinion about the ”ridiculous” preparations and went on about lions that kept no den, but Rackham pointed out that the one who wanted peace should prepare for war and they all knew how cranky a certain captain who’s initials were C.V. got when he was hungry. That was something one should never underestimate.

Eleanor Guthrie and James Flint thought further ahead than Charles, but no one was surprised by that. Billy Bones did the same and even the coldblooded murderer Ned Low had a patience Rackham hadn’t expected. The number of ships the Irish captain had captured was now so high that it wouldn’t be long before someone actually found out who he was. A number of different black flags had been made and they even changed the wood work on the ships to make them less reckognizable. But, as Ned Low pointed out himself, it wouldn’t take long now before people put two and two together and found out that the still unknown pirate who spared women and children, but slayed every man and burned ships faster than the Royal Navy could send new ones, had support from New Providence. And if they would have any use of the ships they’d captured, they needed more men who could sail them. That’s where the indoor spouses came in. When all of those who’d been educated the indoorers had put their numbers and progresses together, it was clear that they, in fact, had an army.

Billy and James spent long hours with Eleanor and Max, to just figure out exactly how many capable men and women they had for each task and the numbers looked far better than anyone had imagined. They also had different strategies built on the risk that one or many key figures got wounded, captured or killed. The whole point was to be unpredictable and it was clear that the English soldiers didn’t count on women – outdoor or indoor – or indoor men to know a thing outside the domestic area. An arrogance so common in the so called civilized world, James was sometimes surprised they managed to survive at all.

The only real problem they had at the moment, was Captain Hume. He was openly hostile against indoor spouses, but in a way that didn’t broke the law, which made it difficult to make complains. Even the most lenient indoor spouses had a limit for how much insults they were prepared to take and it wasn’t always easy to keep calm when your trips to the market were equal with insults and scornful smiles fron Hume’s men. It was a problem in more than one way. If the outdoorers did nothing about it, they looked weak and like they didn’t care about their spouses, which could lead to a decreasing respect for especially the same sex marriages. And if they went too hard on the soldiers, there could be a hostile spirit among the population that could harm their cause the day they would need support.

All this made things work very slow, but it also gave more time to dig out information from very drunken soldiers who had no idea that their drinks were twice as strong as usual and the whores and mollies ears were filled with far more information than they were supposed to have. Things concearning discontent with salary, working hours, press ganging and bad food for the soldiers. Men who longed for their wives and children, men who were afraid that their molly visits would give them a bad reputation, perhaps even be punished, if they went back to England. There were men who never wanted to return to England, who despised Hume and were afraid that all soldiers would suffer for his arrogance. Most of them were, just as the former pirates, just humans who tried to survive in a shitty world and would put their own survival and happiness above king and country if they could. And they tended to be far less interested in taking out their displeasure on the citizens, when they were provided with opportunities to not only get sexual, but emotional relief from the whores and mollies.

To take back the power over Nassau would’ve been far more difficult, if it wasn’t for how much the English soldiers would underestimate women, indoor men, whores and mollies. Jack Rackham, who often recieved the reports from Anne in his sickbed, was sometimes stunned by how little the soldiers thought about the indoor spouses, and women in general. If Anne’s army – Rackham always thought about it as her army – wanted to, they could take over the fort and have the island attacked from at least four different positions at sea. With a little luck the cynical Rackham didn’t believe in for one second, the number of deaths could be the least costly thing with this war. But he also knew that there was always a risk that the words he and Anne would exhange everytim she went on the account would come true. That the next time they’d see each other again, would be on the other side.

TBC

Chapter Text

It wasn’t only due to avoid people asking too much that made John stay away from the market as much as possible. Or the fact that their prisoner needed a guard. Painful memories or not, Abigail Ashe turned out to be a quite pleasant company and even though John was hardly aware of it, he wanted to show his former young mistress how good a life could be in Nassau. The young lady didn’t know anything about household duties, of course, if you didn’t count embroidery since highborn women weren’t supposed to know about such low things as cooking.

But as John had guessed, sitting in the salon doing needlework and take care of the baby could get quite boring after a while and even just watching John bake, cook or make new herb mixes for tea got tiresome when you only watched. So, when John thought Abigail was bored enough, he asked if she wanted to help him to decorate the small apple pies he’d made by cutting out leaves from dough. In an apron and a cloth around her head, the highborn lady took to the task with almost the same determination John had when Ben first learned him how to cook. And John realised he liked her company.

The life the lady had lived in Boston had of course been nothing like this, but the marriage had changed her and a few innocent questions made it clear to John that the lady’s marriage not had been a happy one at all. The man she’d been married off to was twice her age and had already gotten grey hairs. He’d been a very rich widower who’d paid good money to once agian crawl down with a virgin under the sheets and John had no problem whatsoever to believe the highborn lady when she said that the only good thing she’d had from her marriage was little Elizabeth. And even though Abigail couldn’t leave Nassau – or even the house – at the moment, she would often say things that made John wonder if her marriage and life in Boston hadn’t been more of a prison than this place.

That evening, Billy and Ben would come over for supper. Ben still got small hits of heavy weariness every now and then after his severe illness months earlier and John would happily invite his best friends to ease Ben’s work – and because he loved them both. Also, it could make things a bit easier socially, since it was obvious that James had problems being his usual self in Abigail’s company while Ben was a natural with the woman as well as her baby no matter how much the man insisted he wasn’t, and no matter how much Abigail was looking at his husband, Billy was completely hopeless when it came to realise how women looked at him.

John had made a steak with roasted potatos and vegetables, fresh breadrolls and the small pies, a feast that had his once again a bit grumpy husband crack a soft smile and kiss him on the mouth without even caring that Abigail could see them. John blushed, he had flour on his clothes and cheek and he mumbled something about getting flower on James’ coat, making an attempt to draw back a little, but his husband seemed to have missed him more than usual and clutched him closer. When James let go, John felt like he’d been hit by something only it didn’t hurt and he gave his husband and warm kiss before excusing himself, saying he had to look to the chicken.

He left the kitchen before his husband or Abigail could say anything and hurried to his garden. Yes, it was his garden, everyone said that, and John went to the most hidden spot, a bench placed in a half circle of rose bushes, hidden from sight with a view to the sea. He sat down and stared at his still floury hands and then, without any real warning, he bursted into tears.

Since the effects of the chastising tea had gone for good and John’s body had gotten used to his new set of feelings and urges, he’d never cried like this, seemingly for no reason. Only the reason was actually quite obvious this time, only the timing was surprising. If your name wasn’t John Silver and your heart and mind still felt like they were walking a very long and narrow path, surrounded with endless darkness on both sides and the only light to hold on to, had green eyes and freckles.

He wasn’t stupid. He realised more than well why the indoor spouses were trained for battle, why they put up stocks of weapons, food and clothes on Ocracoke. He knew how dangerous it was to keep Abigail Ashe at home and that whatever plan his husband and the other leaders of the secret consortium had, they were too dangerous to share with people who could break down during a hearing. John’s way of dealing with that worry, had been to throw himself into the battle training with a fierce glow that even scared himself sometimes. The darkness luring underneath his calm surface, made him dwell in violent thoughts after a session with the sword or the pistol and in the nights, his dreams were visited by lord and lady Ashe, the staff at the orphanage and other faces he couldn’t place, reminding him of years of fear, pain and loneliness. And when the turmoil couldn’t find another way to leave his soul, he cried. Not silent and calm, but with undignified sobs and whines, his face hidden in his hands in a vain attempt to keep his tears invisible.

He didn’t hear his voice, but he would reckognize the steps anywhere. One time, it seemed like a lifetime ago, those steps had made him freeze in fear. Now they were the sound of love and comfort. The lifeboat reaching out to him when he was too far out on troubled waters to make it back to safe shore on his own. Loving hands he’d once feared surrounded him, pulling him close and hold him steady.

”Whatever ghosts from the past who’re haunting you, my love, I promise they wont get you. You showed me that once, dearest husband. Neither mine nor yours can hurt us anymore. Not when we’re facing them together.”
”The supper…”
”Billy and Ben have arrived. Ben will look after the food and Billy can talk to the blushing woman who’s busy staring at him anyway. We can take our time and you are more important to me than any dinner guests.”

Apparently, he was overly sensitive to a new degree, because those words made the tears stream wilder and James carefully moved John to sit on his lap. It was as if all the pain, struggles and emotions that had come to him since leaving the life in London, were crashing down on him. The memories Abigail Ashe brought with her still hurt, the wound was in no way healed and the contrast between the scared and hurt skivvy boy and the strong, respected and loved indoor husband hosting a dinner for his friends had been too big. He buried his face against his husband’s neck.

”I’ve ruined the dinner…”
”No, little poodle, you have not. Billy and Ben know about your past and have been through their fair share of pain to understand a reaction like this. And if madame Ashe would see you as worthy of less respect for feeling torned from treating your former owners daughter as an honored dinner guest, she’s not worthy of a single tear. Especially not yours. Do you think I should feel ashamed for having loved Thomas?”
”What? No! Why would… what a strange question!”
”Then why should you feel ashamed for what others have done to you? I wish I’d been brave enough to cry when I realised how much you reminded me of Thomas and Miranda. If I’d been able to cry, maybe I wouldn’t have hurt you the way I did. Maybe I would’ve allowed myself to love you earlier.”

James took both his hands in his and looked him in the eyes.

”John Silver, will you do me the honor of remain my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part and then meet me again on the other side?”

John let hear a small, teary laughter and squeezed the hands.

”With all my heart, Captain Flint. Will you do me the same honor, even if I’ll be serving this supper with red eyes?”
”Even if you serve it both burned, cold and poisoned. I’ll be sick, grumpy and probably quite irritable for some days, but I’ll still give you my yes every day for as long as I live.”

He kissed the teary cheeks and used his shirt sleeve to wipe John’s face. The blue eyes seemed to be done with tears and a small smile curved the soft lips when his husband entwined their hands.

”Shall we have dinner then, James?”

And the harsh Captain Flint fell in love all over again.

TBC

Chapter Text

The days spent in these strange men’s company had made Abigail realise just how many things in the world one couldn’t be prepared for. She had a lifelong practise in etiquette behind her and had dined and danced with nobles both in London and Boston. She knew how to greet guests, how to behave and which topics of conversation that were suitable on christening, a ball, a tea party or a family dinner. But here she was, placed between John and Ben at the round dinner table in the Captain’s house, being served delicious courses and exquisite wine from former pirates. Little Eliza was sleeping in the small sitting room in a crib made by Ben – bless that man! – and the dress Abigail was wearing, was both comfortable and decent.

She was a prisoner, but felt more like a guest. Maybe it was foolish to believe these men to be curtious or friendly in the long run, but what good would it make to fill the head with ”what if:s” and worries she couldn’t do anything about anyway? The amount of liqor being served was not larger than on any other dinner she’d had back in Boston or London and all four men had very good table manners. There was a certain order in which things were done on a ”pirate husbands dinner”. First of all, she was served by John, who then served Billy, then Ben, then his own husband and last of all himself.

Maybe they made an extra effort to behave, but it didn’t seem like that. The way they acted looked very natural and if anyone of Abigail’s friends had looked on them from the doorway or the window without knowing who these men were, they’d taken all four of them for very civilized gentlemen. The conversation was one that not even the most sensitive lady could bat an eye at. John’s garden, the weather, food recipes and music. And apart from most men Abigail had met, they didn’t treat her like a little girl, didn’t smiled in a smug way at her or exchanged looks that suggested she was not worthy of being listened to.

Anything that could be lead to her parents, the capture or England was avoided with an elegance reminding of the delicacy and discretion of her grandmother, who’d been called ”the queen of courtesey” back in London. And still, the conversation was lively and natural. Even when trying, Abigail found it harder and harder to see the way the husbands looked at and touched each other with judging eyes. Her childhood home had never been strict when it came to religious matters, but she knew what the Holy Scripture said about sodomy. To see it as an evil thing had been easy when you’d never seen this side of the sin. The kindness, the care and the love Abigail’s late husband had sworn to give her by the altar, but never showed her.

These men could have treated her like a whore or a slave. They could’ve separated her from her child, could’ve killed her little one or both of them. Ned Low could’ve passed her around his crew, could’ve let her daughter drown or worse. John and Captain Flint could’ve let her suffer for her parent’s crimes, for crimes they were, all the things they’d put the two men and the Captain’s friends through. And even if they should have reason to lie to her, Abigail knew her parents well enough to realise there was truth behind the words and most of all in the pain that was visible in both men’s eyes even when they smiled friendly at her.

After the dinner, Ben and John cleared the table and allowed her to help them with the tea, probably because they realised she was a bit nervous in the two outdoor husband’s company. John took the tray into the salon and as he and Ben took up their needlework, Abigail was relieved she could join them with her embroidery after making  sure Eliza was still asleep. Captain Flint and Billy were playing chess and the cracking fire spread a comforting warmth in the room. When Ben shivered a little, his husband immediately turned from the chessboard, with a concearned look on his face. Ben seemed to notice that without even looking up from his needlework.

”I’m fine, husband.”

Billy didn’t answer that, he just left the room and returned with a grey shawl that he draped around his husband’s shoulders before kissing his hair. The small signs of endearment was something that one would expect a good husband to show his wife, but Abigail had not experienced that in her marriage. The way Billy showed care seemed to come just as natural as Ben took care of little Eliza. Like he had a sixth sense for his husband’s needs and just knew.

A part of her felt jealous. Or was it just sadness? The realisation that an immoral, ungodly and sinful mockery of God’s nature could be more full of love and care than the sacred union she’d entered? Because the more she watched them, the less sin she seemed able to see. She watched the Captain smile at John, and the man respond with cheeks blushing over his embroidery and how he went to refill his husband’s cup. The way they thanked and adressed each other. Husband. Dear. My love. When her late husband had called her wife, it had sounded hard and commanding. Impersonal, like she wasn’t someone he cared for. She couldn’t help but wonder how her name would sound if being uttered with the softness of Ben’s voice, Billy’s warmth, the Captain’s sligtly dark but caring tone or even the careful but also a bit teasing John, who seemed to smile in every word when talking to his husband.

When Billy kissed Ben, not shallow, but slowly and deep, she wanted to cry. How could this be a sin? Wasn’t this what she and her friends had dreamt about, when listening to Solomon’s Canticle of Canticles or even slightly improper poems that made their cheeks blush? John moved to the cembalo and started to play a song that had Billy pulling up his husband on the floor and putting a hand around his waist and the other entangled in the man’s hand.

Abigail had never seen a more beautiful dance in her life. The knot in her chest that ached from something that seemed like jealousy, dissolved and instead she felt… blessed. There was beauty in the slow dance, the music and the men in this room, who not only treated her with all the courtesy a lady could ask for, but also allowed her a peek into their lives. Because the one thing she was certain of from all that she’d experienced so far in this strange place, was that there was room for happiness here. And the way Billy Bones had eyes for no one but the man he softly moved with over the floor, didn’t put thoughts about sin and perversion in Abigail’s mind. Even if she’d never had what the men on the floor had, the highborn lady could see the love between them, floating and natural like two rays of sun meeting together in a pool of light. And she would lie to herself if she refused to admit the warmth in it.

TBC

Chapter Text

”I’m not sure if you’re hallucinating or just stupid, Captain Hume.”

It wasn’t very often people dared to cross Billy Bones for any reason. He was known to be a very strict husband, but those who mistook that for a lack of care for Ben Gunn, would quickly realise the mistake. Billy was looking very firmly at the English captain who clearly hadn’t gotten used to the way things worked here and Woodes Rogers just sat calmy behind his desk.

”Well, Captain Hume, are there any witnesses?”
”Yes, me, Governor.”

Billy just snorted and the governor looked like he was dealing with a rude child who needed to be lectured but was too stupid to understand why. He looked at Hume.

”You do realise there’s only your word against his, Captain?”
”An indoor spouse’s word.”
”This is not England, Captain Hume. Even if Mr. Gunn, as all indoor spouses, is under guardianship of his outdoor spouse, it doesn’t mean his word counts for less in court than anyone elses. I can’t hand out whippings and haircut punishments everytime someone claims an indoor spouse has been rude, Captain. And Ben Gunn has no previous record of poor behavior at all. In fact, I think some of your soldiers would need a lesson from him in courtesy.”

Hume looked like he was about to say something he would regret and Billy Bones rose his eyebrows.

”Are there anymore complaints against my husband, or the way I handle him, Governor? Becuase if there are, I would very much like to know what he’s accused of and by whom.”

Clearly, the man hadn’t reported the beating he’d gotten from Billy and James many weeks earlier and to be honest, Billy was more than a little surprised that the man tried to retaliate in this way. Billy didn’t like the governor, but Rogers wasn’t known to hand out punishments without trying to be just. He didn’t thrive from others pain or humiliation and that made Billy tolerate the man. Hume was a different kind of man and even before these ridiculous accusations, Billy had hold no respect for him. Now he despised him and both the captain and the governor were very aware of that now. Rogers looked at Hume.

”Well, Captain? Are there anymore accusations against Mr. Gunn?”
”No, Governor.”

Rogers smiled.

”What a relief, Captain. I’m very grateful that you spoke to me first, before making Mr. Gunn come all the way here for nothing and I’m sure you are as well.”
”Of course, Governor.”

Hume looked far from grateful, but even he wasn’t stupid enough to continue a lost case when he had both the governor and a prominent citizen against him. Billy cleared his throat.

”If I’m not wrong, Captain Hume is fairly new to Nassau, Governor. Well, maybe not that new, but nontheless, it takes some time to get used to our way of living here. Maybe someone could… help the good Captain to adjust a little better? After all, there must be more important tasks for a trusted commander in the Royal Navy, than watching over other men’s husbands in public.”

As sugarcoated as it was, it was still meant as an insult and Hume was clearly boiling inside from the humiliation, but he still nodded and Billy smiled friendly.

”That’s what I thought. Now, can we consider this little misunderstanding cleared, Governor?”
”Of course, Mr. Bones. I’m sorry for taking up your time.”

The more than six feet tall retired quartermaster reached out his hand to Rogers and smiled again.

”Nothing to be sorry about. I’m just glad we could solve it in a civilized manner. Please send your wife my regards. Good day, Governor. Captain.”

The smile had turned dangerous when he addressed the captain and then he left. Billy didn’t go back home thou. He walked a bit from the townhouse and waited, seemingly enjoying the morning sun and when Captain Hume left Roger’s office, Billy leaned into him and simply snatched him into an alley with a large hand pressed over his mouth and the other in a painful grip around his right arm.

”Now you listen to me, you worthless piece of shit. You know just as well as I do, that those accusations were completely false. You claimed that my husband was rude to you at the market yesterday, when there are no witnessess, simply because he wasn’t at the market at all. I know my husband’s routines very well, Captain, and if I’d asked any merchant to witness on his behalf, they’d all say they didn’t see him yesterday and you’d come across as a liar to the Governor.”

Hume groaned and Billy tightened the grip, leaning close to his ear.

”I’m not sure what it is you’re trying to achieve, but this is not England and if that’s a problem to you, then I suggest you ask for a relocation. Because if you, or any of your men, as much as look at my husband in a way I don’t l