As Barbossa's shade lay dreaming over past moments in the netherworld, thoughts of apples and tartly-sweet juice dripping from bruised flesh as he bit into succulent fruit were soon joined by the memory of half-forgotten exploits he'd long since dismissed.
He longed to banish them, these exquisite tortures, as he himself was banished to this place, no fallen angel and certainly as wicked as any man he'd dispatched into the Land of the Dead during his mortal lifetime.
But he fancied he could feel his lungs filled yet in the wake of swift and shallow gasps even as he remembered a time when he'd not hated, but desired. His murderer. His tormentor. His nemesis. His heart.
Drunken moments, true, and hardly more than fumbling, feeling foolish; and he trembling like a novice and not the man of superior years at all as rum made them both reckless and clumsy with fierce need and throbbing heat, the dark of the room close about them and covering their sin with the modestly averted gaze of descended curtains in the nameless brothel in the squalid port town on an equally unremembered island.
The drink and the desire in those dark eyes had seemed not to taunt then, by the flicker of candles and the whisper of his captain's silken skin against his own, but to invite him hither. That wicked gaze, never leaving his, had been spark to tinder, and he'd emitted a near-feral growl even as he'd bent to take that lying, pretty mouth with his own.
But his prey had surprised him, meeting his passion with equal fervor, stripping the last vestiges of civilized men from that desired body and revealing a youth and nakedness only seasoned by years at sea, his only adornment the ever-growing collection of ornaments in those dark locks. That sun-bronzed skin spoke of something exotic in his ancestry, even as Barbossa's tongue had eagerly caught the wayward droplet of sweat running down the paler inside of Jack's thigh, and reminded him not of Dublin but the South Seas, of wanton wenches and sultry, sloe-eyed lasses of Istanbul, covered with black gauze like widows, and the ringing bells of eldritch dancers of savage tribes.
It had excited him, that salty taste of skin, of exertion and desire, and he'd pressed upwards for more, rising up at last to trap Jack's wrists above his head, noting how his captain's cheeks flushed, betraying his own response, although it must be admitted too that the slighter man twitched also, as if not sure he would surrender fully at the last. And it had been this small resistance that had broken him, oh-so-arousing, and Barbossa had bent with a growl to fasten his mouth on that slender neck, making it arch and the man beneath him groan helplessly, a sibilant and desperate sound.
Ten long years had done nothing, it seemed, to dim the bright flare of this particular memory, and the specter alone in the cavern of the Dead winced as the remembrance caught him up with it in a spiraling reenactment of wistful longing, spent too quickly and all too soon reaching the crest of passion and pleasure, like a meal too swiftly consumed and not savored long enough.
Where had it gone wrong? When had he lost his way? Had it been afterwards, in the knowledge of the pale, cold light of dawn, that they were only men, and it had not been passion at all but something sweeter and far bitterer? Something one could not taste but the once and expect then to be able to give up? Something best forgotten and buried and pushed out of the way, so as to not interfere with his plans and his need for his own importance, his own rise to power?
The rum had given way to fire that night, no more women between them, and had flooded his veins as he'd caught Jack's eyes, his lower body throbbing with the aching need to take him, his chest pounding with the elation of finally, at long last, holding him fast under him, the terrible beauty of something so simple as to have this man in his grasp.
Oh-too-terrible, indeed, to have finally that ivory-and-gold smile turn to open-mouthed anticipation… as full lips parted in surprise, and he leaned down to capture them with his own, his fumbling caresses too driven by need and bestowed with unfortunately trembling fingers, the tremors in his body easily transmitting to his lover that which he dared not speak aloud.
His heart had burned as Jack's eyes had stared back up into his, seeming to look into his very soul, exposing all of him and all his petty wants, all his whims and foibles and even darker, grander schemes. He'd looked away then, caught in the net of his own making, seeking respite from that innocent-yet-knowing expression in the deer-like eyes of someone far too experienced in the ways of the world to be anything other but like him: a pirate, a scoundrel and an outlaw, for all that Jack had mastered the ability to adopt a fey and winsome turn of his head.
But even as his eyes fell further, taking in the heaving chest exposed to his gaze, those breaths obviously coming too short and swift and mirroring his own, he felt Jack's desire echoing his, where their groins were pressed together, lower down, and with a whimper of longing he'd risen up again to catch that curve of demon-beauty of that slight smile; allowed at last to partake of those lush lips and to feel them part under his, forcing them open and swallowing every sweet moan and panted breath.
The slender body he laid upon was writhing against him, driving him mad, even as Jack's hands caressed him, moving up beneath his long shirt he still wore. Naught else was necessary but that touch, though, calloused and hot on his own flesh, touching him for the first time, and the initial release had tumbled over him far too quickly as he spilled with helpless thrusts into the sweat-slick skin under him.
But Time had been his whore that night, paid well in advance to bugger off and leave him with his prize for several short hours until dawn, and he'd slaked himself with slower delight afterwards.
Yet it had seemed not enough, never quite, though he'd taken his pleasure from him and with him and inside of him, over and over, his lust reviving out of sheer despair and urgency to drink long and deep of the ecstasy so furtive and hard to pin down until then.
He'd made him beg, and that had brought him greater satisfaction than anything. Oh-so-lovely, the begging, coming from that self-assured and usually so smugly self-satisfied throat, in the voice that had always infuriated and irritated him, now made hoarse and softened by helpless pleading…To have that victory over him.
And to relent, to be the one to send him into that wordless abyss of painfully-delicious cresting, to touch that peak of white fire as lightning and the flash of powder-traces hung about them behind closed eyes and muffled shrieks cut short by another's mouth. Shuddering bombardment of pleasure had taken the place of empty, bitter longing, leaving gasping and drowning, straining and cleaving limbs struggling against each other for support, weakened by desire and shaking.
Drunk on heat, and lust, and power, and pleasure, he'd uttered whispered words he'd thought in the dark of his own mind but never meant to speak aloud, and the world had gone still around him in the darkness, as Jack had frozen momentarily; words that had no place between them and that he'd not remembered until this time.
Words he'd never meant until recalling them in this dark and lonely cave, with only a gibbering, mindless monkey for company, only vaguely aware of his presence, and that unhealthy, unnerving hum from the cursed chest of Aztec gold that had ruled his existence up until that final moment of Jack's one, last shot entering his undead heart.
His black heart.
The one he'd thought long-gone. The one he didn't think could feel anything at all, especially dead. The one that now skipped inside of him and tripped, stumbling, as he realized he had never betrayed his captain, his enemy, his beloved. No. He had only betrayed himself.
Just as he'd betrayed himself that night, with words of love that his tongue had let slip unbidden, loosened by rum and longing. So swiftly forgotten, shoved aside and ignored, lest he be made a fool of.
Anger and pride had been swift on the heels of fear, certainly.
They crept away now, in the wake of memories; and the unshed tears of regret joined the heart that no longer beat inside his breast, not now and not for these ten long years past.
Yet, it was a miracle of another kind, for he found he could once more feel.
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