Disclaimer: Disney's. No money. Don't sue.
Rating: NC-17! My third ever! (I'll stop saying that after this one, I promise. ;)
Pairing: Jack Sparrow/James Norrington
Notes: This is a scene that takes place somewhere in those five or so days of captive-freedom Jack decides James oughtta have at the end of Full Moon. It started life as marshmellowgoo-fic (not marshmAllow -- marshmEllow), then twisted a bit into PMS-moodswing-fic. If you're just in a mood for unmitigated schmoopy lovin', don't read this right now.
One More Note: Thanks to monkeypuzzle for the Sex-swing of you-know-what. Thanks to webcrowmancer for encouragement and feedback and for once again pulling the perfect title out of god-knows-where. :)
Summary: Getting better acquainted in the Sex-swing of Luuuuurve.
Archiving: You like it? I give it to you.
Comments: Welcomed in all forms. I'm a very spastic answerer: sometimes I'm Rabbit, sometimes I'm Turtle. But I do read every one.


By firesignwriter

Jack's eyes were closed, his face resting sideways on folded hands over a cushiony pillow over the plump mattress that turned a reasonably comfortable hanging cot into what he'd fondly dubbed the Sex-swing of Luuuuurve.

Not that the mattress was the only ingredient needed to earn the cot that label. The other reason for the name was currently going over Jack's back, inch by thorough inch, learning his tattoos and muscles and scars and vertebrae with a patience and attention to detail he'd seldom shared a bed long enough to receive.

Odd, that, as they'd not been sharing this space for very long at all. Two nights with no lurving; three now with. Perhaps three more to go (if he didn't manage to concoct a few "delays" along the way, which he fully intended to attempt). Apparently his Commodore James meant to soak him up, drink him in, carry something of him back to the lonely life the man so voluntarily, stubbornly, pointlessly insisted on returning to.

Jack shifted to spare a cheekbone the pressure of a ring. Arched a shoulder up into a caress that paid tribute to the mermaid inked there, a cheery and buxom seductress he'd worn for but a few years now. James leaned across his back and kissed the lady softly.

Smiling, not cracking an eye, Jack said, "She's a pretty one, eh?"

"Mm." That, Jack was coming to learn, usually meant agreement. "Where did you get her?"

"Curacao. Young Dutch chap, very nervous to be markin' up the likes a'me. Thought if he flubbed it too badly I'd have his tongue or 'is bollocks."

A snort, tiny warm explosion of air against his skin. "I trust you paid the fellow well?" Thumb tracing the 'maid, curving, rolling over muscle and bone. "She looks worth a fair price."

"He had no complaints," Jack murmured drowsily.

"Hm." That one, he'd decided, could mean a great many things, including that James held doubts about something Jack said. Which James frequently did. Didn't much matter though. He believed what he needed to believe, and he believed what Jack needed him to believe when it mattered. Mostly. Sometimes.

And doubts or no, James had given himself quite wholly to the physical here, in this cabin, with him. He'd been holding a lot in, and for devil knew how long. Might be because of that "propriety" bilge he'd been drinking his whole life. Might be a result of the endearingly awkward shyness Jack managed to startle from him every now and again. Deep waters, this one, for all that he hid them behind steel and stone, sarcasm and solemnity. Acutely uncomfortable about revealing those fathoms.

But growing more and more comfortable with Jack's body, at least. He could feel James kissing along his spine, flicks of tongue, hands spread open as they journeyed complementary paths. Traveling downward, but slowly. Relishing him.

It would not be easy to relinquish this warm, wet, wandering worship. But he'd given his word that he would. And Captain Jack Sparrow was...mostly...a man of his word.

Mouth and lips and tongue lingered over the dragon coiling at the small of his back. The mermaid was fetching; the dragon, brilliantly colored in reds and greens and yellows, took one's breath away. "A souvenir?" James asked against the beast. "Far East?"

"Aye," Jack said, to both. "S'posed to be about wisdom or some such."

He felt the smirk of a smile. It changed the air between them just a little, almost a tangible thing. "And were you hoping it would impart a measure of that cardinal virtue?"

"Then all I'd need is, what...temperance, courage an' justice?" Jack mumbled absently. "That'd complete the set, aye?"

A pause in movement of hands and kisses. Startlement from James also changed the air, though in a way that made Jack grin with probably unfair amusement. It was just too much fun to shake the man up, challenge his entrenched conceptions, show him a different face of the world he'd once thought he knew.

"I must say, Platonic philosophy is a decidedly odd fit in your bed."

"Keep going in the direction you're goin', mate, there won't be nothin' platonic about what happens next."

James tasted the dragon. Edged lower. "I don't get you, Jack."

Beginning to wake in more ways than one, Jack writhed a little beneath him in lascivious invitation. "Been gettin' a lot more of me than most do, Commodore James."

"One minute you're spouting Plato." Hands nudged Jack's thighs apart. Teeth nibbled the swell of one buttock. "The next you're mangling English."

"Aye, well..." He shifted again, taking pressure off the stirring demand of his cock. "English is a language what can use a little mangling."

James nipped lower, sharply, where ass met thigh, the sting of it startling, wince-worthy. Depth of spirit and surprising touch of tenderness aside, he'd been dangerously excited to find the commodore had a bit of an edge to him in the sheets. A bit of bite.

"So which is it, Jack? Are you an educated man?" Fingers slid between his parted thighs, down to tickle his balls. "Or merely very good at...pretending?"

Jack's breathing quickened a bit. He still kept his eyes shut, his hands beneath his head, but his legs were sliding over sheets and mattress, propping, shoving his backside up to that promising mouth while the hand between his thighs took the hint and closed 'round his stiffening cock. "Does it matter?"

"I'm curious."

"Few days ago you didn't care t' know a bleedin' thing about me."

"And a few days ago you would have helped Black Bart scuttle my ship."

"I'd still help 'im scuttle your ship if you insisted on being fool enough to fight the both of us at once."

Another nip, rebuking, drawing a hiss. "Dangerous admission, Captain Jack, when I've your...goods...at my mercy."

"Aye," Jack breathed, "I suspect it was." He pushed back to elbows, forehead pressing into the pillow. "You plannin' t' do something with that fine instrument in your hand there?"

The hand, lazily stroking, stilled. Jack cursed.

"You're terribly pushy," James observed loftily.

Enough of this. Jack reached underneath to pry those fingers off of him -- thankfully James wasn't in quite the mood to test how far he might push back just now -- and flipped over, his motion setting the cot to swinging irregularly. James caught a suspension chain for balance.

"I," Jack said, emphasizing every word, "am the captain of this ship. It is my right -- nay, my prerogative, to be pushy." He propped up on elbows, matching the other man's arrogance in face and voice with hardly any effort. "And may I remind you, sir, that you are, in fact, my prisoner, as it were."

James arched an eyebrow. "I could have sworn you named me a free man."

A slow, sly leer. "Bein' my prisoner is a rather liberating experience, wouldn't you say?"

"So it would seem." And the commodore stretched out alongside him, propping his head on one hand, dark coffee hair decidedly mussed. He looked younger now than he had those handful of days past, when he'd come aboard the Pearl with his pride a sour lump in his gullet and his courage all the more obvious for the trepidation he'd been unable to entirely hide. Then, Jack would've put him near his own age, plus or minus a year or three. Now he wondered.

Of course, now he could ask. "How old are you, mate?"


"Must there be a reason?"

Faint smile. "You've still not answered my question. Why should I answer yours?"

"I forgot yours."

"Your education," James reminded him patiently. "Where did it come from?"

Ah. Still trying to reconcile a learned pirate with the upbringing that had taught one James Norrington to disbelieve in even the possibility of such things. "Where'd yours come from?"

"Private tutors mostly. Then the Naval Academy, of course."

"And you've learned nothing outside of that?"

Green eyes, browned by lamplight, took on a considering cast, thoughtful. That so-often-frowning mouth thinned absently as he was forced yet again to question himself. Jack rather thought James wanted to resent him for that. Were the man less honest, less willing to acknowledge truth when it hit him upside the head, no doubt he would.

A bit of a scowl creased lips and pale brow. "You expect me to believe you're entirely self-educated?"

"No man -- nor woman, for that matter -- educates himself in isolation. Or herself. Or itself, I suppose, in the case of eunuchs, of which I've only met two I can confirm."

"What does that mean?"

Jack fell back to the pillow with a soft whump and stared up at the dark wood paneling above them. "It means we learn where we learn how we learn from whom -- or what -- we learn it from."

"Could you try to be a bit vaguer, Jack? I very nearly followed that."

Obligingly, Jack lifted arms to gesture expansively, and quite vaguely. "Y'see, mate, we are all of us but the wee-est of babes toddling through the great an' terrible enigma that is this adventure we call life..."

James shushed him with smiling lips upon his. Pulled away just enough to speak and told him, "I'm thirty-one."

Thirty-one. Christ. Jack smoothed a thumb over that solemn brow until the lines that shouldn't be there eased away under the touch. "See? Practically an infant."

"Thirty-one is hardly young."

"Say that when you're forty."

Green eyes flew wide. "You're not."

"Not what?"


"Very well then."

"Then how old...?"

"Eh? Oh. Forty."

James blinked. "Forty years?"

His hand slipped down to chuck the whelp beneath his chin. "Aye," he said simply. "As of June."

"But you seem so..."

Baring teeth, Jack wriggled up against him, catching behind his neck and tugging him down. "I must be doin' somethin' right, eh?" he said between kisses. "Could be in nine years you'll be laughing at forty."

"I'm not even laughing at thirty-one," James muttered far too seriously.

"Could be..." He watched those closed eyes, caressing lips to parted lips. "...you change your life now...head off in a new direction...could be..."

Eyes opened. James pulled back an inch, staring at him. The muscles along the back of his neck were tight beneath Jack's hand.

Jack sighed to himself. Right, right. Duty, obligation, honor, all that rot. It wasn't fair, apparently, to remind the man he had choices.

"It could be that if you changed your life now, you'd be alive when I'm not laughing at forty," James told him, voice rather flat. Quite cold, really, for all the heat of his body full length along Jack's.

Jack began to remember why that certain subject wasn't worth broaching here. It tended to kill the mood. And honestly, what good was having a commodore in his cot if he didn't get to use him?

He smiled, offering peace. Said noncommittally, "Could be." And to change the subject, veer it towards physicality and touch and the things he knew James knew he could do to his body, he caught his companion's right hand and pulled it before him, palm to his face, frowning with great concentration.

A hint of reluctant smile. "What are you doing?"

"Reading your future."

"Reading my future."

"Aye," Jack said gravely. "Now stop distracting me, man, or I'll read it all wrong."

James fell silent, watching him. Let his hand be moved pliantly between Jack's manipulating fingers. Tension still lingered in his body, however, and not the kind the pirate preferred to find there, so Jack casually flopped a leg across his, knee hooking over a naked thigh, the shift bringing him close enough to remind the man's half-erect organ that they had unfinished business yet. James chuffed a quiet laugh.

"Shhh," Jack chided.

"Aye, Captain Jack."

"I do so love the sound of that... Say it again."

"Captain Jack?"

"The whole thing."

James leaned in close. Tucked hair aside and breathed into his ear, "Aye...Captain...Jack." Then turned it into a sojourn down his jawline to mouth the strawberry blotch of birthmark half-hidden under beard.

Jack tipped his head, inviting more nibbling, but kept up his examination of that captured hand. Not so rough as his own. There were calluses aplenty here, though, from diligent sword-training like as not. He knew from a good number of hours of feeling those hands all over him that the right was tougher, more conditioned than the left. He'd have to remember to mention that later...tell James to practice more with his weaker side. Sometimes such versatility made all the difference in a melee where no one deigned to follow the "proper" rules of engagement.

"Long life," he said, thumbing a groove across that palm. "Good health."


"You doubt me?"

"I didn't say that," James told his throat. "Please go on."

Another line, deep and distinct. "According to this you're a..." Deliberate pause. Haughty inflection. "...reasonably intelligent man."

A breathy chuckle. Lips closed against the side of his neck, and then there was hard, almost painful suction. Marking him -- claiming him? Oh dear boy.

"D'you want children?"


"I see children. A great many children, all a credit to their father, naturally." He followed a random curve over the heel of the hand. "Except for Jimmy Junior here. He plans to run off an' turn pirate."

"Does he." James rolled in a little, knee flexing and pushing Jack's draped leg up. His cock, more than half-hard now, pressed along Jack's thigh. "Are you implying..." A pause to work a trail down his chest, breath hot and moist over a nipple. "...that you will have some influence over my children?"

"Only Jimmy."

James licked. Firmly. "And if none of my sons are named Jimmy? Or James?"

Sparks flickered through his veins, shooting outward from chest and groin in tandem with that stroking tongue. "What? You think I was born Captain Jack Sparrow?"

Lamplit eyes flashed at him. He realized belatedly that he'd just invoked another curiosity in his companion, and swore inwardly. Unreasonable, it was, that the man could still think so clearly even with that increasingly more insistent erection burning into Jack's thigh.

He laid a finger over James's lips to fend off questions. Shook his head slightly, unsmiling.

Those eyes studied him a few heartbeats, the thoughts behind them indiscernible, but a moment later James kissed his finger in tacit agreement and bent back to that nipple he'd taken such a liking to.

"Do you see..." Lick. "...the woman who's to help..." Nibble. "...with the making of all these children?"

"Ah..." He blinked, trying to refocus on that hand again. "Have you any prospects at present?"

"No." With an unmistakable trace of bitterness. Still not over Elizabeth? Well, Jack supposed she'd be a hard one to move on from, once the heart settled there.

But no reason he couldn't spin a hopeful little fantasy... "I see a woman of strength and intelligence." Presumably James liked his women thus, as Elizabeth could never be mistaken for lacking either. "Beauty, no doubt."


"A great and very necessary patience, of course, if she's to be paired with you..."

"I might say the same for anyone who shares your company for any length of time," James muttered wryly. "Little wonder you're not married."

"How d'you know I'm not?"

Another glint of inquisitive eyes. This time, however, perhaps finally giving in to the growing demands of his body, he let the question rest.

Jack felt an anticipatory thrill as James rubbed against him, erection throbbing. His own cock bobbed sympathetically. "Does she have a name," James asked, sounding rather uninterested, "this fine woman?"

"For certain." Jack drew his hand down and tasted the wrist, reacquainting himself with the flavor of commodore. "That's best left secret, however. You wouldn't want to be chasing her away by acting out of sorts when you meet her, savvy?"

"Mm." Pulling his hand from Jack's grasp, James ran it down his torso in a steady glide to his cock, which he took up without delay, pumping unhurriedly, those sword-calluses sweet torture in the ring of that sliding grasp.

Jack's breathing sounded jagged, harsh already in the quiet of the cabin with the soft creaking of the chains as the cot swung gently to and fro. Outside on the main deck the crew was just starting to put some volume to their nightly distractions, louder and more flagrant with their cavorting than they'd normally bother to be. The HMS Encounter, shadowing them, had his people edgy. They needed to burn off the energy and thumb their noses at the Navy at once. Last night he'd walked out in the midst of the revelry to find a whole row of scallywags flashing their bare arses over the bulwark at the Encounter.

Only with a great exercise of willpower had he resisted joining them.

He started to sit up. James covered him instead in a swift, constraining motion, barely room enough between their bodies for his continual stroking, pulling, kneading of Jack's cock. It seemed the man was done with words; he put his mouth to better use, crushing lips against Jack's, tongue forging between his teeth with an insistent, irregular rhythm that brought to mind choppy seas, unpredictable swells, the ocean in one of her bitchier moods.

Jack gripped his hair. Kissed him back with matching force, giving over to the nearly violent accord.

Slowing suddenly, deepening the kiss and making each movement more deliberate, James curved fingers against the head of his cock, smearing and gathering fluid. Jack sent a hand to explore the readiness of James's erection. At his touch the man flinched with a sharply inhaled sibilant, the sound like pain. Jack touched him again, liking the response, but James twisted away.

"I want to have you," he whispered roughly into Jack's mouth. Slicked fingers slid down, prodding for access. Jack drew his legs up. "Be inside you."

He quaked at words and sensation both as a finger pressed into him. "Developed a...taste for it...have you?" Only last night had he inducted the commodore into the semi-exclusive club of men who'd buggered Captain Jack Sparrow. By the end of these five (or more) days, he fully intended to have also introduced James to the roster of men who'd been buggered by Captain Jack Sparrow, though he could tell already that would take a bit of doing. The proud officer got twitchy whenever he strayed too near the backdoor. But Jack had considerable -- certainly justifiable -- faith in his powers of persuasion, and if anyone could manage it...

"Holyjeezusfuck," he gasped when another finger worked inside, deep enough to graze that wonderful something that made his cock jump in tortured joy.

"Where's the oil?" James muttered, fingers still stroking in and out as he looked around them. "Where oh where..."

"Jar," Jack said, panting, pointing, "floor."

James leaned over him, looking down. "Damn."

Grasping at air off the side of the cot, Jack commanded the little jar, "Jump." Nothing sprang to his hand. "Please jump?" It failed to so please.

The bland look James gave him, even while fingering him quite imperatively, suggested that Jack's solution left something to be desired.

Fine then. He'd just have to do everything. "Don't let go of me," he warned, squirming sideways, then diagonally to lean head and shoulders backwards off the cot. The fingers in him stilled, started to withdraw. He pulled up, horrified, sending an imploring look. "Don't stop!"

Laughter. James curled an arm around one of his thighs, holding it securely to his chest and leaning back to counter his weight. Thrust fingers inside with a twist and a flex. Jack, forgetting to breathe, hung limply from the cot, a hand and most of his hair brushing back and forth on the floor. No reason he couldn't just stay here a little while...oh...they were such long and...and splendidly wriggly fingers...

"Jack." A tad strained there, Commodore. "The oil, Jack."



He spied the jar. Reached for it. "Now who's pushy?"

James hauled him up and back to the center of the cot, the whole assemblage rocking in a decidedly perilous fashion beneath them. Quite impatient now himself, Jack slapped the jar into his waiting hand, instantly mourning the loss of those fingers as they abandoned him to open it. While James hurriedly anointed himself Jack grabbed a pillow, pulling it down to shove beneath his hips. Comfort was not a thing to be frowned upon.

When James saw what he intended -- just like this, face-to-face -- something flickered through his expression that had the appearance of sudden doubt, very nearly alarm. Smiling enigmatically, maybe a little cruelly, Jack let him know he saw it. Said not a word to acknowledge the hesitation. Last night the commodore had fucked him from behind. Searingly exciting and wildly pleasurable, aye, but Jack had a mind to test some limits here tonight. Face-to-face meant eye-to-eye. Meant locked gazes and forced acknowledgment of just whose body was providing these sensations, the mutuality of the experience.

In a word, it meant intimacy. And Jack felt a certain wicked urge to see just how poorly this man dealt with it.

Eyes hooded, not quite concealing his unease, James moved to kneel between Jack's quickly lifted legs. In a moment the slippery head of his erection nudged for entrance, pushed inside.

Jack took a shaky breath at the long, slow, careful glide. Here was that concern, that self-restraint. It called from memory a terse explanation once uttered from those lips for his ears: I serve others, Mister Sparrow, not only myself.

So that's what that meant...

James stopped, flush against him now and breathing harshly, holding in place with Jack's legs anchored over his shoulders. Looked down into his face. Seemed bemused by the curve of his lips, the fragment of a grin there.

Jack's hands pulled him down to plunder his mouth as the commodore's hips began to thrust. James groaned a low, hungry rasp of a sound, eyes closing.

Maybe the man was really falling for him. He'd thought so after their first night of shared and traded pleasures -- after he'd broken through that frigid, self-satisfied mask and teased James out from the safety of Commodore. Then, mere hours later, he'd been forced to reevaluate. Stood to reason a man who'd fallen for him would want to be with him, and yet his not-quite-offer of kidnapping had been summarily rejected.

But then there was that declaration to consider. I serve others...

Against him, inside him, James swelled and ran out like waves on the shore -- surging push up (in) over, caressing, shoving, displacing...dragging, reluctant draw (out) back to the sea, only to build and surge again. His face, laid bare by greedy need and that truly surprising tenderness, fascinated Jack, held his focus even as the hard shaft struck bone-like against the spot over and over again, even as Jack's aching cock throbbed against his abdomen.

Those eyes hadn't opened. Jack wondered if James knew how telling that was. Not thinking about it, he drew his head closer and kissed one eyelid, the other. If the man would only look at him...only brave his feelings and look at him...

The thrusts picked up speed and force bit by bit, Jack squirming to match and counter them, swearing between his teeth, wanting to send his hands ranging but curiously reluctant to release James's head, his face. Curiously unwilling to stop studying him.

It would be quite a boon, having a man of this one's rank and authority wrapped around his finger. He'd return to these waters in time, after all, and no doubt by then Black Bart would be gone, leaving Jack Sparrow and his nonpareil Black Pearl the most coveted outlaw targets in the entire ocean. Then, for survival's sake, he might well need this man to love him. If he could manage the trick. If James would open his eyes.

"Jack," on a hoarse groan, "oh god..."

James tremored atop him, his bracing arms tense. Jack touched lips to his shuttered eyes again, each one, then abruptly found himself caught in another of those bruising, needing-taking kisses, James's tongue pistoning through his lips as tempestuously as his loins thrust against Jack's pelvis.

Jack's eyelids fluttered, widening and then shutting, the totality of sensation building like a wave, roiling, rising, rumbling towards the break. He felt James pull back from his lips. Felt the furious motion slow, gather, the whitecap forming on the crest.

Jack opened his eyes. Met a sea-green gaze of shattering intensity that swallowed him in and took him apart, piece by piece, in the space between heartbeats.

"Jack," James mouthed, nearly voiceless.

"Oh fuck," Jack managed, brokenly. And shut his eyes tight.

The wave crashed over him with drowning strength. He swore profusely, the words meaningless, their only worth in channeling his sudden panic into something less helpless than stammering cries. All but untouched, his cock jerked and unloaded in spasms of white.

A hollow, aching moan. James shuddered, thrusting shallow and quick and then lunging, body arching, his outcry buried in the hollow of Jack's neck as he gave his release to Jack's clenching ass.

The chains, Jack noted distantly, were squeaking near-constant complaints at the disturbance to the cot's equilibrium. The sound seemed unnaturally loud. So did James's ragged breathing. So did his own hammering heartbeat, thumping a rabbit-warren-alarm against his breastbone.

Slowly, he eased his legs down. James pulled back, sliding out of him, then stretched to cover him again, uncaring of the mess smeared between them, catching some of his weight on forearms to either side of Jack's body. He let out a long, unsteady breath against Jack's neck.

Jack stared at the dark ceiling flickering with the amber light of the lamp, his eyes feeling too wide, his heart not seeming inclined to slow anytime soon. Something, he decided, had gone very very wrong with the Plan. According to the Plan, right now the good commodore should be lying in shocked silence with his lungs incapable of drawing deep breath. Not the pirate. Where had he miscalculated? Had he forgotten to carry a two...?

"Jack...?" Spoken into his skin, warm enough to make him shiver. James sounded sated. He sounded concerned.

"'m good, mate." Only a little lie. He cleared his throat. Steered away from that dangerous reef. "You might have a bit of a gift for this, I think."

A smile in that voice. "Oh?"


"It seems a shame, then, that I shall have so little opportunity to practice it."

Jack crossed arms over his sweaty back, palms circling languidly. "Eh?"

James shifted a little to the right, taking more weight on that side and touching his left hand to Jack's face, tracing the bridge of his nose, the curve of his cheekbone. "Even if I were inclined to simply indulge with any willing body -- and I'm not -- my life is rather...public."

Jack gazed upward. That hand wandered his face, memorizing, reminding him with every motion that its owner would soon be gone. Back to that public life while Jack returned to trying to sneak up on whatever existed just past the skyline. Just him and the Pearl and a suitably crazy crew, voluntarily exiled from this place.

"Once Bart's gone..." he began, not sure where the thought would take him. Not sure where it could take him.

James stroked a thumb over his lips, stilling them. Resettled his cheek against Jack's chest. His voice, musing, detached, struck Jack as very, very military. "There's apt to be a knighthood in it for me, if I'm the one to take him down."

"A knighthood." His hands lay flat, heavy on James's back. On the commodore's back. "Well. Bully for you."


He didn't much like the sick swirl happening in his gut. Really didn't care for the memory image that sprang to mind just then: the decaying corpses on display at Gallows Point outside Port Royal's harbor, swaying helplessly in the wind. Swaying with a rhythm not wholly unlike that which the Pearl's steady rolling gave this cot holding them.

I serve others, Mister Sparrow...

A slow breath, indrawn and exhaled. Yes, it meant that too, didn't it?

"Am I worth a knighthood?"

The thumb lazily stroking his cheekbone faltered in its motion. "Not to me."

Jack dredged up a bit of a smile at that. "Call me presumptuous, mate, but I'd already figured on that much."

Another shift to the side. James lifted to look at him, and for all that the intensity was once again buried, Jack found his gaze little easier to take now. "Quite sure of yourself, aren't you?"

Jack regarded him, half-lidded. "Should I not be?"

An eyebrow tilted. "For the life of me, I cannot understand how your overconfidence has failed to kill you already."

He shrugged one shoulder. "Aye, it's a mystery, innit?" Then ran a hand into sweat-dampened hair atop that serious face, ruffling the untidy locks briskly before sidling away, slipping from the cot to feel the Pearl's reassuring solidity beneath his feet. He hunted down his breeches and stepped into them, lacing up as he walked to the water jug, then dampening the washrag and swabbing his abdomen, his chest.

"Going somewhere?"

"Crew's too quiet. Best be certain they're not takin' the boats across for a little nighttime assault on your bonnie Encounter, eh?"

Once again the military man, James sat up swiftly. "They wouldn't."

Jack flashed teeth. "Pirates, mate. Unwise to put money on what they wouldn't do." He wrung out the rag, soaked it again, squeezed most of the water from it and tossed it to James. "Be right back."

"If your men attack my ship, Jack..."

At the doors, with his back to James, Jack paused. Said over a shoulder, "Let's not be makin' unnecessary threats, Commodore. I wager no one out there's gonna earn you that knighthood."

The silence following that was a bit heavy, a bit stunned. Constantly redrawn between them, these boundaries were, and he doubted James knew anymore than he did just where tolerance ended at any given moment.

"Likely not," the man said after a moment, stiffly.

Jack scrubbed a hand over his face, muttered something rather vile beneath his breath, and pushed the doors open to escape into the humid night.


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