Jared had ten seconds to blink, bemused, at the elegant straight-backed stance of the man in his cabin before his teapot crashed off the bulkhead behind him. If he hadn't ducked, it would have caught him right on the nose.
"You cocksucking bastard," says the man in Jared's cabin, the man in the bottle-green velvet coat. It must have been the Limoges teapot: there's a dish in the man's hand poised to fly, and a forget-me-not patterned spout rolls forlornly to the toes of Jared's boots. "You thief", he splutters, this man, Jared's new boy, a high flush of colour on the arches of his cheekbones.
And Jared says, wry and tired. ""Pirate? Sweetheart, that's my china you're throwing."
His boots crunch over the shards on the way to his bed. In the early morning sunshine the cabin is finely lit, and light smoothes over the man's coat and layers the lace at his wrists, picks out the shape of his mouth and shadows his eyes black as kohl, but Jared is not in the mood. He's spent the whole of the night shoring up the holes his cannon have made in another man's hull, he's filthy and sweaty and lusting for nothing but sleep. "Break anything else," he says, dragging his seaboots off, "and I'll start on your fingers. Don't wake me up less we're sinking." Shirt and breeches still on, Jared takes one last look at his Captain's share of the evening's loot - mouth like a Tortuga whore's, green eyes lit with sunlight and anger, pretty - and goes to sleep.
He wakes up to the sound of someone saying, "Three tuns of sugar loaf and a case of Madeira? The Captain had Arles brandy in the hold. You've been trawled for a sucker."
It's a deep voice, a man's, pleasing to the ear, with a faint West Country accent that sounds of nothing but England.
"Capt'n knows what he's doing," Southey says, patient drawl.
"So what's this in the books? Tell me there's someone on board can add twelve gross of pinch nails and not make a cider stew of the counting- "
The sunlight is heavy on Jared's eyelids and sweat already dampens his shirt. "Captain's awake," Jared says, and opens his eyes. Catches his new boy staring at him over a stack of books, fine gold-rimmed eyeglasses striking against the green of his eyes and the smudges under. He's not slept, Jared's boy, but he's not scared yet.
"Twenty miles north of Nevis," Southey says, "All's well on the watch."
"That tea?" Jared asks, and rolls out of bed. Mouth on the boy: Jared's cock is heavy in his hand when he aims for the pisspot, lets go with a sigh of relief.
"Seem to be missing a dish or two," Southey says, "Teapot."
There's a bucket of fresh water by the bed, privilege of rank. Jared douses himself down, shirt off, and pulls on fresh linen without bothering to dry. Fresh sweat already prickles his skin and itches at the back of his neck. It's a Carribbean summer, heated and deadly. Half of the white men who sail out to the Indies never make it home, but Jared's ten years down and counting, more at home here on the sun whitened deck of his ship than ever he was on the London wharves. Southey was born in a hammock. Jared's boy, though, he's pale skinned and milk fed, and the sheen of his skin says country bred. But that's not resignation in his eyes: it's a sharp and personal defiance. Kidnapping does that to a man, but Jared had taken one look at those eyes and that mouth, last night, and known. His for the taking. He'd took.
"Had a conversation last night," Jared says to those eyes, stocking-footed on the deck planks and reaching for the dish of tea. "Seems the boy's got issues with private property."
Southey huffs. Boy glares back at him over the books and Jared, smiling, stretches. The cabin ceiling clears his head by half an inch: he's a big man, Jared, and he's happiest making half of his point with muscle. "Cat got your tongue?"
"You took three men off the Saffron," his boy says back to him. "One carpenter, one tailor, and a farm lad from Dorchester. Signed them on. You took a seamstress."
Slammed down under Jared's nose, the ship's rooster lists all four X's in Indian ink.
He did. "Yeah?" he says. He can feel the grin starting behind his eyes. Boy's got no idea where he's headed.
"Crew get shares," his boy says, "I read the articles. Crew get rights."
Earnest, buttoned-up face that almost makes Jared laugh. Mouth like that, arse like that, it's a different set of rules. "Crew do," Jared agrees. He up-tips the last dregs of tea, puts the dish gently down, and wanders soft-footed behind his own desk. Boy's shoulders tense, but he doesn't turn. Southey's hiding his grin under salt-tangled grey hair, head down over the manifest.
"Seen last night's tally? Three tuns of sugar loaf and enough nails for the next time we beach up on shore? The brandy's under the bed," Jared says. He reaches over the boy's shoulder to pull the sheet out: it's under the set of books they give the harbourmaster at Port Royal, the false ones. Lays it down on the desk gentle as a parson's mouse. Boy's got broad shoulders under that velvet coat, capable hands, but the lace is grubby and he's missing the ribbon from his queue. His knuckles are white. Boy knows something's coming, but not what it is, and Jared's voice is smooth as honey.
"You read, don't you?" Jared asks, because of course he does, Jared's new boy, schoolmaster's pet with inkstains on his fingers and a frown line between his eyebrows too old for his face. "Nice country lad like you? See, here - " When Jared leans over the desk, his shirt brushes velvet, and the boy flinches and shivers. He's got guts, new boy, though. He's not moving.
"This line?" Jared says, and runs his fingers up the tally list: carpenter's mate, two hogsheads small beer; carpenter, three axeheads, one adze, two silk shawls; shipmaster, one case brandy; Captain... Captain's boy. "You're loot," he says.
Jared grew up in the sewers, a Whitechapel brat with the scars to prove it. It's been a long time since someone got the drop on him, and new boy hasn't a hope. He tries, but he's not got his elbow halfway to Jared's belly before the chair's kicked away, and he ends up shoved face down on the desk with his arms flung wide, winded and wheezing. There's muscles under that coat, but Jared's bigger and stronger, he leans over, thighs crowding against the edge of the desk, and says, "Boy."
"Fuck you," the man beneath him wheezes, "Unhand."
Leaning his elbow on the man's back, Jared reaches down. Unhooks the glasses with care, tucks them safely by Southey's pistol. Boy glares back at him, heaves and struggles under Jared's weight. Ideas Jared's got for that mouth, perfect pink o of it round as a porthole.
"You're indentured," Jared says, bending over, his lips brushing the flushed pink tip of his new boy's ear. "You sold yourself for your passage and spent two weeks before sailing ducked down in the hold, so I'm guessing there's a magistrate's book with your name on. Ackles. Two days past, you ended up in the brig. Ship's not a democracy. Don't cross your Captain," Jared says, and slams his spare hand down hard on his boy's wrist. Before he grasps hold of the fruit knife. "I signed your papers," Jared says. "You're mine." He's amused, and it shows in his voice, but the man under him isn't, twists and fights against Jared's hands supple and strong which is not the way to make Jared let go anytime soon.
"Southey?" Jared asks, and his shipmaster doesn't even look up when he passes the tallow across. He's seen it all before, Southey, and the only time Jared's ever seen him blanch was when fourteen unravished Portsmouth whores on the Antigua run demanded to know what they lacked. There's no easy way of saying, a cock, not to women with knives. But Jared knows what to do with a man, and while women jiggle and bounce on his lap like kittens, him and his crew, they need a calloused hand in the dark and a trusted swordarm to fight alongside.
"See," Jared says, and jerks down the green velvet coat, hard, by the collar: traps his boy's arms elbow to elbow. Boy's got - Mr Ackles: Jensen Ross Ackles, by the book: Jared's Jenny-boy - he's got an arse like a Dorset plum and Jared's hard up against it, he's not stopping now. "You thought you were oppressed, back in England? Press panting down your neck? Recruiting gangs on the village green? You think you're going to be free, right now?" He says the words hard and low, leans his elbow down with most of his weight on the point of it, curls his hand in the tail of that queue and drags Jensen's head up for emphasis. "You thinking radical thoughts, boy?" he says, edge of contempt in his voice, and knows by the cut-off gasp he's right. Boy's still panting under Jared's weight, pushing back off the desk best he can, but he's not going anywhere soon but spitted on Jared's cock. That arse was made for a man.
"Pretty boy like you," Jared says dismissively, and wraps his spare hand on the waistband of green velvet breeches.
"Older than- " Jensen starts to say, and he probably is, in years.
But Jared rips the breeches down with a scatter of buttons and a riptear of rending linen, and it's only then that his Captain's share of the prize, his sweet Jenny, gets a clue. He rolls himself over the desk, kicks out with his hobbled feet, screeches like a parrot, and Jared's laughing. Leans back just to watch that pretty, plunging arse rub up and down the stand of his cock.
"Get your hands off me," Jensen hisses.
Jared gouges his fingers through the tallow. Warms it in the palm of his hand, the stuff almost liquid against the sweat of his skin.
"Let me go." It's almost a shout.
Jensen's got a tight arse on him, and a clenched tight arsehole to go with it, and he's clean, which helps. Jared punches his first finger inside, smooth with the salve, and near gets his nose smashed in return when Jensen bucks off the desk. No summer romps in the hay stacks, then, for pretty Jenny boy, and Jared's guessing no laughing girls, not with those ink-stained fingers. Jensen's a good boy, kept himself clean and fresh for his man. It makes Jared feel soft, sentimental: he curls his hand round the back of his boy's neck when Jensen's pressed back face-down on the desk, strokes a thumb over the soft skin under under his ear.
"Sodomite," Jensen hisses.
Jared knows that. He grins, shoves two blunt fingers up Jensen's pretty pink hole just to prove it, and the muscles at the mouth of it spasm and grip while the insides of him are nothing but soft. There's salve a plenty, but Jared gets a choked out grunt and a flurry of kicked-back feet for his trouble, and muffles another grin against velvet.
"Sweetheart. C'mon," he coaxes, fingers sliding and stretching in flesh. He can be nice, despite the sniff Southey favours him with.
"Not a - gentleman - " and there's a whine of desperation, now, under the bitten-back fragile defiance of Jensen's voice that goes straight to Jared's balls.
"Nah," Jared agrees, pulls his fingers out and yanks his breeches open, slicks his cock and realises, then, his own breath's coming short. He wasn't raised a gentleman and he's got no reason to wait. He pushes his cock up past his fingers, straight into that sweet curved arse in one long thrust that's got to burn like hell. So tight, that arse, he nearly spends in the heat of it, and under him Jensen yelps high and harsh as a manatee stabbed to the heart. Boy's going to have to get used to the feel of a cock in his arse, because Jared's never plowed one so fine.
"Sweet Jesus," Jared gasps, tries to keep still, and under him Jensen struggles and writhes and wriggles and fucks himself upwards and backwards and round on Jared's cock. Breaths out little gasps like he's choking on cock, not riding it. Jensen's only got himself to blame: Jared pulls out on a groan, slides back on a sigh, and can't stop. Fucks in quicker and harder and sharper than he meant to, this first time, thrusting himself home on a rush of lust that's got him tight round the balls. "Fuck," he says, and looks down. Jensen's arse curves round the shape of Jared's cock, and his hole's pinked and clinging and glistening with salve, stretched thin. Jared's not small, where it counts, and watching his cock spear over and over again into that flinching mouth is obscenely graphic and real. He owns this. It's his, these green eyes and tangled dirty blonde hair, this radical mind and this arse.
"Jenny," Jared says helplessly, wraps his hand in the end of that unribboned queue, drags the man back. His thighs are shaking with strain and his muscles burn and he's going to spend, he knows it, too fast and too soon. "Jenny." He does come. It's worse than a premature cannon blast next to his ears, deafening, devastating. Amazing. Feels like his soul tears free with his come, burns Jared inside, sets him reeling, dizzy and spent. He bows himself down over Jensen's back and pants with the beats of his pounding heart, lets his softening cock pulse close in Jensen's arse.
"Hasty," Southey observes.
Jared grunts. Beneath him, Jensen's still, breathing in breathy gulps, his shoulders shaking. Velvet's warm and smooth under Jared's hands. He could stay here a while. He should offer a reach round, tug Jensen off while Jared's still stuffed up his arse.
"Capt'n," Southey says.
"Yeah," says Jared, and levers himself upright. He slides out slow, luxourious, watching his cock slip free from Jensen's arse with regret. Against the reddened, sore mouth of Jensen's hole his own come's white, seeping slow. If they had time, Jared would drop to his knees, lick Jensen clean, lick him open, make him come -
"Watch is changing," Southey says, head cocked for the bell, and Jared shakes his hair back. Buttons up his breeches and ducks into his swordbelt. Jensen's still bent over the desk, his arse bare.
It surprises Jared, the unexpected tenderness that grips his belly. He tugs Jensen's breeches up, smooths them back into place, pulls the coat up and the man back into the chair and nearly apologises when Jensen flinches as his arse hits wood. There's a box of receipts from Havana: Jared stacks them up on the desk, pushes over the inkwell, and opens the ledger.
"Get the books up to date," Jared says roughly. There are tear stains on Jensen's cheeks, but his eyes are narrowed and furiously green. He says nothing.
Shrugging, Jared follows Southey to the door. He hesitates, looking back, hand on the latch. "There's pillows on the bed. You might need one."
He had thought he was being kind. But Jensen throws the inkwell at him, hard.
Curled up together in the Captain's chair, Billy Cartwright and Samson Freeman have identical grins, smug and altogether too knowing. They'll have fucked over the desk, then, but not in Jared's bed which would have earned them both a taste of the rope's tail end. Billy and Samson, they're matelots, one entry on the rooster between them, one hammock, one sea chest, married for all but the words.
"Time's up, lads," Jared says, and looks round. His deckplanks are holystoned clean, his casements are sparkling, and the mess of papers on his desk are tidier than they've ever been before.
"Trussed him up for you," Billy says.
They have. Stripped him down to his small clothes, too, and gagged him tight. He can't do much more than wriggle, Jared's Jensen, but if he could kill with a look Jared would be pinned to the door and bleeding out.
"Got a right clever tongue on him," Billy says, bemused admiration in his voice. "Knows some demmed long words, too."
"Yeah?" Jared says.
"Didn't lay a hand on him," Billy says virtuously, and Samson nods in agreement. "Don't hold with mutiny," Billy says. "Not on the Firefly, see. Boy didn't know what he meant. Set him straight," Billy says. "Went through the articles. Twice."
Like most of the crew, Billy can't read: Jared himself learned his letters on his back, surgeon's boy on a French brigantine out of Martinque. But all of them know the articles by heart, the agreement that binds the crew to their own pirate's code. Jared stood up for his captaincy on an unnamed beach on the Panama coast, five years past, and it's not by his swordarm but by his good judgment he's kept it. Seawise and lucky, Jared has a plantation on Jamaica and a shipping house in Bristol with his name on, for when they retire.
On board, though, captain's word's law. "Grog's up," Jared says, and nods his head at the door. "Two measures," he says, as Samson ducks his head for the doorframe, and hears Billy whoop in reply. Then he says, "Next time you throw something, don't stain my deck."
Gets a glare in return. Jensen's trussed up tighter than a storm reefed topsail, and the gag pulls at his mouth, knotted firm. He's all skin and eyes, Jared's boy, and he shivers, delicious, when Jared sits down on the bed and heels off his boots. Jared's been half hard all day, pulse of blood in his cock that's nothing but fierce.
He cuts off the small clothes with his poinard. Rendered naked, blushed pink and squirming, Jensen's finer than any French etching. A man, not a boy, pale skin over muscles, heavy, rounded cock falling loose over his thighs. Mouth watering, Jared grins: plants one hand on Jensen's stomach and one on his balls, presses him down in the mattress. Spreads himself comfortable and runs his tongue straight up the vein of Jensen's cock. He can hear the man gasp through the gag, and he'd like to say something witty and sharp about swords and words, but Jensen's cock twitches against his lips. Grinning, Jared sucks him down, mouthful of blood hot hardening, velvet-smooth skin, and presses his thumb right where it matters, that sweet spot behind Jensen's balls. He's got a lot to learn, Jared's boy.
Coming helpless, jerking and twisting against the ropes, anguished pleasure on his face, Jensen looks so good Jared does it all over again. Then he tugs himself off over Jensen's face, five strokes of his palm wrapped round his own cock and the look in Jensen's eyes, horrified, hot, setting him off. Done, he strips off the ropes - seaman's knots - and undoes the gag, but he's not letting Jensen go, and he wipes up his own come with his fingers and makes Jensen lick them clean. They smell of each other. Content, Jared pulls his boy close and sleeps.
In the morning, he makes Jensen suck him off, Jared's thumb shoved between his back teeth just in case. But, eyes closed, Jensen whimpers soft and helpless, his mouth hot and wet and his tongue urgent, just like Jensen's been starving for cock all his life and not known. When Jared's done, when he's panting and pulling Jensen back up the bed, he reaches down to close his hand round his boy's cock and it's already hard and wet. Jared huffs out a laugh, triumphant and enthralled, and squeezes, hard, and when he comes Jensen moans better than any paid whore Jared's ever bedded.
Velvet's too hot for the tropics. Jared unpacks muslim shirts and homespun breeches, and Jensen goes barefoot, his hair streaking blond and his skin tanning a pale rich brown. He's got a sharp tongue and a sharper mind, Jensen's boy, and there are factors in four separate ports rueing the way Jensen trades. Jared's accounts are pristine, and his Bristol bank sends him four new charters and a silver teapot in thanks. In Martinique, Jared buys Jensen silk ribbons for his hair and a silver-chased pistol: off Domenica, becalmed, he teaches the man to fence. At night, Jensen rolls over for him eager and wanting, spreads his legs and keens at the thrust of Jared's cock. He's shy, Jared's boy: scrunches his eyes shut and whimpers when Jared can't wait and takes him quick and sharp heaved over the capstan. Shudders, blushed pink and ashamed, when Jared, grinning, jerks him off in firelight, so very pretty when he comes Jared wants to share. It takes months before Jensen realises he's made his own place in the crew, that no one cares if he's down on his knees, Jared's cock in his mouth, or booted and wigged with three months of accounts under his thumb and a deal to make.
But, on a Jamaica beach, Jared offers him a pen and the ship's articles, and Jensen doesn't sign.
"I wanted... " he says awkwardly, that night, to Jared's back in bed, and doesn't finish.
But Jared knows what Jensen wants. Jensen wants paper, and ink, and a press, and freedom: Jensen signed up for five years on a Barbados plantation, but what he wants is a passage to the American colonies as a free man. Jensen reads pamphlets and books, writes letters, won't toast the King. Jared wants nothing more than the tilt of Firefly's deck under his feet and her helm in his hands, but Jensen's dreams are not the same, and Jared's not enough.
"Tortuga," he says to Southey, that morning, and Southey looks sideways at him and says nothing at all.
"They say there's a Spanish girl at the Three Tuns can make a man spend by squeezing her cunt," Jared says, toying with his knife and with no appetite for either food or whore. Whitefaced, Jensen stares at him over the desk. "Don't you ever dream of it?" Jared asks. "Smell of a woman? Silk skirts up round her thighs, your hands on her titties, bent over and wet for your cock? There's baths in Tortuga," Jared says, "Last time I was there, I had three of them, one after another, squealing like -"
But Jensen has gone, slamming out of the cabin to sleep on the deck.
In Tortuga, Jared hands over eighty gold guineas for a passage to Carolina with a captain he trusts, and checks the cabin before he agrees. Packs half his loose coin and a satchet of jewels and an old velvet suit in a sea chest, shovels Jensen's books, his cancelled indenture papers and his pistol on top, and locks it. It's Southey who bundles Jensen up in a quilt and takes him away: Jared can't watch. The captain's promised. Ship sails that night, and Jensen stays locked in his cabin for the first two days.
Without him, Jared's cabin's too big.
His bed still smells of the salt on Jensen's skin.
There's a half finished pamphlet on Jared's desk. Rights of Men, it reads, in Jensen's elegant, cramped hand, and Jared can read no more than the first line before he rips it to shreds. There's a bottle of rum with his name on it at the Three Tuns, and half his crew for comiseration. A bath. A whore. Several whores. He doesn't fucking need to think of the way Jensen's mouth opens when he comes, of the flush of blood under his skin, the shape of his cock in the palm of Jared's hand -
Fletcher's rates are nothing but outright extortion. Jared hands over forty pieces of eight for a room to himself, and takes the bottle of rum to the baths. He's paid for a whore, but, clean, half way to not sober, the thought disgusts, and he shakes his head to Fletcher's raised eyebrow as he goes up the stairs. His crew raise him a toast as he goes, but Jared's sick at heart and wants nothing more than to crawl into his bed and sleep.
But when he opens the door, there's a woman in his room. Standing at the window, her back straight and her skirts elegant cherry-striped silk.
"Get out," Jared says. He says it as politely as he can, but he's so very angry: she's not what he wants, she's not who he wants, the man he wants is halfway to Carolina -
Then she turns round.
Jensen doesn't look like a woman. He looks like a man in a dress, exotic and strange. The silk pulls tight over his chest, narrows down, and he has to be corsetted, has to be: Jared could span his hands round that waist. His shoulders rise broad and muscular from the ruffle of lace at the neckline. There's rouge on his mouth and kohl on his eyes and his face, his face is held so very still.
"Jensen," Jared says, and can't think. Blood rushes so fast to his cock it leaves him light headed.
"I know I'm not what you want," Jensen says, and his eyes are huge over the rouged bow of his mouth. "But if you could, pretend - "
"Get on the bed," Jared says, and hardly recognises his own voice. He kicks the door shut as Jensen moves, ridiculous rustle of silk. His knees are trembling.
As he climbs on the bed, Jensen looks over his shoulder. "All fours," Jared says. "Hike your skirts up." He can barely breath between the words. Jensen moves so very carefully, as if it hurts, the way he's strapped himself into the dress, and the laces of the corset must be pulled so very tight, but when he inches up the skirts he's wearing - oh god -stockings. Lace and silk shaping the tender arches of his feet, the muscles of his calves, his thighs, framing the heart shaped curves of his arse.
"Higher," Jared says, hoarse, and Jensen whimpers as he rucks the last of the skirt up, and all Jared can see is cherry striped silk and Jensen's hands, holding himself open, and the gleam of salve on his hole that means Jensen's wet and stretched and ready.
Jensen screams when Jared takes him, balls-deep in one thrust hard and fast, and Jared's never felt so powerful. His hands are clenched round Jensen's waist, he could hammer nails with his cock, and Jensen's arse round his cock is the best sensation he's ever felt. "Don't ever," Jared growls in Jensen's ear, and Jensen tries to push back against Jared's hands, begs with his hips, pants and gasps. It's Jensen: Jared can slam his cock home, bite at the muscles of the man's shoulders, wrap one hand over Jensen's hipbone and hold him in place. He's going to spend in seconds: he has to fight his way through layers of silk to get his hand on Jensen's cock, but the man's so hard Jared only has to close his fingers for Jensen to come. And that, the way Jensen's arse clenches and grips, the way he arches off the bed and tries to breath and can't and pants out Jared's name and shakes - that sets Jared off harder and stronger than he's ever come in his life, before.
The corset's pulled so tight the laces stripe Jensen's skin, red pressure bruises crossing his back. Jared's hands are tender, gentle, unlacing, and he drops kisses on each bared inch of skin. "You didn't need," he says, still almost unable to believe this is Jensen under his hands. "I didn't need-"
Jensen's blushing again, face half-buried in the pillow. His eyelashes are still damp.
"You want to write politcs," Jared says. "You're safer on board. There's a press on Nevis," he offers. "Can call in with the trades. Order paper from Flanders."
"Jared," Jensen says. There's a smile starting at the edges of his mouth.
"It's a long time to wait for books, but the bank's sending catalogues," Jared says. He pauses, silk still half way down Jensen's thighs. Rubs his cheek against Jensen's, backs off and looks him in the eye. "Stay with me," Jared says.
And Jensen's smiling. "Yeah," he says.
He never does sign the articles. Jensen's not crew. He's Jared's.