Author: Laura H fried_flamingo
Category: slash, PWP
Author's note: My very first foray into slash territory, this is a little vignette I could most definitely see happening in canon. Boys, afterall, need their heroes. A thousand thanks, as always, to salr323 for her fab beta!
Though Old Grog rode the fleet hard during the crossing from Panama, the winds were against them and progress was slow. For four days, the horizon remained empty of any sign of the San Andres coast, where they were to dock overnight and gather supplies for the journey back to Kingston. Puerto Bello had been taken with little resistance and now the crew of the HMS Burford were restless, having readied themselves for a battle that was too easily won; Midshipman Lewis Groves knew that such restiveness aboard ship tended to reveal the storyteller in a man, and the ear of a sailor was always open to a well-woven tale. Though he had been in the Caribbean but a few months, Groves had found that, in these waters, such tales invariably related to the misdeeds of the buccaneers and would be told with equal parts dread and fascination.
So it was, on the second night, that Groves found himself below deck, in the agreeable company of Midshipmen Sullivan and Lambert, and Lieutenant Hughes. And, as they lamented the damned unfavourable winds, conversation turned to the notoriety of their destination.
“‘Twas a favoured haunt of Morgan’s, y’know,” offered Sullivan. “Some say he stashed his loot in a cave there and it has yet to be found.”
“And I’d hazard it will remain hidden from the likes of you, Sully,” Lieutenant Hughes retorted, drawing chuckles from the other men.
“Nay,” said Lambert, leaning forward conspiratorially. Having failed to make it past the rank of Midshipman he was, at thirty-three, the oldest of the group and, without doubt, the most accomplished spinner of yarns. A few other men looked up from their dice game, their interest whetted by the prospect of a good story. “From what I’ve heard tell, Henry Morgan weren’t a man who did things by half measures, especially regarding treasure. They say that, after his sacking of Panama City, it took one hundred and fifty mules to shift the bounty he pilfered. There was so much gold that even through the pitch black of night, the gleam of it was enough to light their way through the jungle. If he’s hidden such treasures on San Andres, I’d bet my eye he ain’t left it where anyone’ll find it in a hurry. Most cunning character what ever sailed the Spanish Main, was old Henry Morgan.”
Groves settled back against a water barrel and tipped his hat over his eyes; he’d heard the legends associated with Captain Henry Morgan more times than he could recollect and he anticipated that the sailors’ desire to outdo each other with the most outlandish of tales of Morgan’s exploits would keep them entertained for a while yet. His curiosity was aroused, therefore, when Sully unwittingly steered the conversation towards a new character; one with whom Groves was, thus far, unfamiliar.
“Cunning?” Sully exclaimed. “Leave off, Lambert! That’s a load of bollocks and well you know it. Morgan may have been the most powerful brute what these waters have seen, but he weren’t no fox. There’s been plenty scoundrels craftier than him who His Majesty would love to see dance at the end of a rope.”
“Ah yes,” interjected the Lieutenant, with a grin, “and I daresay, Mr Sullivan, that the name of one such scoundrel springs more readily to your mind than others, eh?”
For reasons Groves could not fathom, this elicited a chorus of raucous laughter from the rest of the men, while Sullivan’s expression turned thunderous.
“Yeah, Sully,” said Lambert, with a wink. “I heard tell that the good captain is eager to repeat the game of backgammon what you both enjoyed. He said you was a worthy opponent – if a little careless with your moves.”
Once again the laughter brayed, while an irate Sully stormed off to his bunk, muttering under his breath. The evening’s diversion at an end, the men gradually drifted off, some to their duties, some to their hammocks, until only Groves and Lambert remained.
“What was all that about?” asked Groves, unable to contain his inquisitiveness.
“Don’t you know about young Sully’s little brush with the infamous captain of the Black Pearl?”
“Oh come on, son.” Lambert was incredulous. “You mean to tell me that you’ve been in the Caribbean nigh on three months and ain’t heard of him?”
“Heard of who?” exclaimed Groves, beginning to lose patience.
“Captain Jack Sparrow, mate!” From the broad grin on the man’s face, Groves suspected that, behind that name, lay some of the best tales this ocean had to offer.
The hours of the midwatch were long and tiresome and, more than once, Groves found his thoughts occupied with the outlandish tales related to him by Lambert earlier that evening. By all accounts, this Jack Sparrow character was the craftiest, most savvy individual in the Caribbean today; the scourge of both the Crown and the East India Trading Company, having, on countless occasions, evaded capture by agents of both institutions.
“Seven of them, there was,” Lambert had informed him, with something close to admiration in his voice. “East India’s finest, all of them. And he legged it without a blow exchanged. Those who were witness, and I know a bloke whose wife’s brother saw it all, said they gave chase up a blind alley. Now, there’s some what think he flew and there’s others what say it were witchcraft, but the only truth what’s known is that Jack Sparrow managed to give every one of those bleeders the bag. Vanished without a trace, he did.”
“That’s preposterous,” retorted Groves, reluctant to believe such blatant fiction, but enthralled by the tale nonetheless. Lambert had just shrugged and, with a knowing wink, took a puff of his pipe.
“So what about Sully then?” Groves had continued. “Was he present for this remarkable feat of levitation?”
Lambert had laughed and shook his head. “No, mate. Sully became acquainted with… ” He’d paused. “Well, let me just say this. Flying isn’t the only talent of which Captain Sparrow is, apparently, capable. The man has charm enough to lure the fins off a fish.”
Groves had looked at him expectantly, not having the faintest inclination to what he was referring, and awaited clarification. Lambert, however, merely tapped his pipe on the deck, clearing out the tobacco remnants and got to his feet.
“Y’know what, mate? I’m thinking maybe this is a story for another time. Or better yet, you, yourself, may be fortunate enough to cross paths with the good captain during your spell in the Caribbean.” He’d said this last with a grin that left Groves feeling tremendously ill at ease, and now, as he scanned the empty horizon, he could only speculate on what heinous acts had been committed by this notorious pirate, that had left poor Sully in such a state of distress.
Two days on and, at last, the island of San Andres was sighted in the distance. Immediately the spirits of the men lifted with the prospect of a night spent ashore and, in the final hours before the ships made port, they derived great pleasure from detailing the pursuits they hoped would occupy their time on leave. Inevitably, it was the intention of most to seek company, and San Andres was not without its share of bawdy houses. There were, however, those amongst the crew who were unwilling to part with coin in order to procure such company.
“I’d rather fetch mettle meself than pay for it,” said Lambert to Groves, as they readied the Burford for docking. “There’s plenty of biters in town that’ll give it away for nothing, lad, and I know the very place to find ‘em. You’re a mug if you open your purse for a bit of skirt.”
Groves nodded, but said nothing. His intention, once ashore, was to head for an inn, that he might enjoy some decent fare and a soft bed for the night – a bed empty of the diseased wenches with whom his crewmates seemed so enamoured. Though Groves had lain with women before, the congress had always been a tedious, unrewarding affair, devoid of the passion with which it was associated by the other men. It was difficult for him to comprehend why they looked forward to the pastime with such eagerness.
“Tell you what, mate,” continued Lambert, with a conspiratorial nudge, apparently oblivious to his friend’s lack of interest in the current subject. “I know of a certain ale house, shall we call it, on this island where there’s a few comely chick-a-biddy’s who’ll practically jump on a young buck like yerself. You stick with me, sonny, and old Lambert’ll see you right.”
Smiling weakly, Groves occupied himself with the bower cable, reflecting upon how he might sidestep the proposed encounter with the aforementioned chick-a-biddy. Lambert, however, misunderstood his reserve and turned to him, a look of consternation upon his face. “Blow me, mate! You’re not still spotless, are you?”
“What? No! No, of course not!” Groves fought, in vain, the flush that spread across his face and wished, hopelessly, for a sudden squall to arise, that the subject of his alleged virtue would be forgotten.
“Thank the saints for that,” said Lambert, though his tone implied that he was not fully convinced by Groves’ assertions, “for San Andres is not a place for a man intent on steering clear of sin. I daresay you’ll encounter a few thieves and beggars on these shores.” The man grinned. “Wouldn’t it be a lark if we ran into the very bloke we spoke of earlier. Can you imagine young Sully’s face?”
And suddenly, to Groves, the conversation had become infinitely more interesting. “You mean Jack Sparrow?” he asked, a little too eagerly perhaps. “Will he be there, do you think?”
Lambert shrugged and began coiling a line. “No way of telling, mate. He’s an unpredictable sort of fella, is Jack Sparrow.”
“Have you ever seen him, Lambert?”
“Aye, I’ve set eyes upon him more than once in my time in these waters. He’s a…” And for a moment the man’s hands stilled in their activity, his gaze drifting out towards the open sea, though some aspect of his countenance gave rise to the notion that it was not the waves upon which his sight was fixed. When he spoke again there was a thoughtfulness to his voice that belied his usual gruffness. “He has a strange look about him… for a pirate. A cocky fella and no mistake, with a grin like a shark. But when he doesn’t smile, when he…” Lambert paused, a slight frown etching more lines into his craggy forehead. “Like a painting, he is. Like something beautiful, painted in oils.”
The idea hung there in the silence between them, a silence which Groves was loathe to interrupt, though he longed to hear more about this captivating rogue. Then, as if suddenly remembering his situation, Lambert shook his head and, with a coarse laugh, clapped Groves vigorously on the back. “But who wishes to think on bloody pirates when there’s many a short-heeled wench to be had in port, eh? I feel me bishop twitching already.”
With that he ambled off and Groves was left to ponder on the oddly alluring prospect of an encounter with legend that was Captain Jack Sparrow.
By the time they made port, Groves felt his wits return and had begun to suppose that this Jack Sparrow was no more than an elaborate fiction. He had no doubt that a pirate by that name existed, but it was his presumption that the exploits with which Sparrow had been credited were merely highly crafted fabrications; designed, perhaps, as a jape to fool some hapless sailor. Well, fool, he was not. Flight, indeed!
Dusk was fast approaching and those amongst the crew, fortunate enough to have been granted leave, set off for the town of San Andres. Despite his best efforts, Groves had been unable to avoid the company of Lambert and now found himself walking alongside him through the town’s main thoroughfare, which bustled with activity. By all accounts he had expected to find a wretched hive of debauchery, where villainy lurked on every corner. However, San Andres was much like the other harbour towns he had encountered during his travels; voices and laughter filled the air, mingling with music drifting from the open windows of taverns; vendors sold their wares from trays or carts, the aroma of cooked fish and sweetmeats filling the air. “You had me thinking we were headed for Sodom and Gomorrah itself, Lambert,” said Groves with some measure of relief. “I’ve seen nothing that I would consider so immoral.”
Lambert winked. “We ain’t got to where we’re going yet, sonny.”
Puzzled, Groves could only follow as his crewmate led the way along the busy street, and before long, their route took them away from the town and into the hills. Struggling to keep up, Groves slipped and stumbled his way up the muddy hillside, continually having to bat foliage from his path in an effort to keep Lambert in his sights. “Slow down, man!” he cried, but Lambert ignored him and strode onwards.
Then, just as he was about to turn about and make his way back to the town, he saw it. A light up ahead. Pushing his way through the undergrowth, he stumbled into a clearing and almost crashed into the back of Lambert, who said, “There be yer den of iniquity, mate,” and gestured to the source of the light. Up ahead sat a ramshackle wooden building, with lanterns strung across its rickety porch, which cast off a golden glow in the darkness of the jungle; from within, the sounds of revelry could be heard.
“It’s a brothel,” exclaimed Groves, but Lambert laughed.
“Better than that, mate,” he replied and set off towards it. Groves hung back, cautiously, as Lambert stepped onto the porch and knocked on the door. After a while, a hatch was drawn back and a ruddy, female face appeared in the little opening. A wide, toothless smile spread across her face at the sight of Groves’ crewmate. “Why, Mr. Lambert! A pleasure it is to be seeing you again,” enthused the woman, pulling open the door.
“Evenin’, Mrs. Babcock,” replied Lambert, leaning on the jamb. “You got some room for two weary sailors in this fine establishment of yours?”
“Always got room for you, duck. And will it be Mr. Sull-” Her sentence trailed off as Groves stepped onto the porch and into the light. “Ooh, you’ve brought us a new one, Mr. Lambert, and a pretty one at that. I’m sure there’s many a young maid in this house won’t be averse to gracing his lap.” Mrs. Babcock looked at Groves, slyly. “Or perhaps, Mr Lambert, your friend would prefer a different sort of company?”
“I’m afraid I’m quite at a loss to understand your meaning, madam,” replied Groves, stiffly.
“She’s asking if you come in by the back door, sonny,” guffawed Lambert, slapping him on the back. Groves was affronted, but rendered speechless by the woman’s impertinence and therefore ill-equipped to challenge the slight. “I think the lad’s strapped a bit too tight to be up for much o’ anything this night, Mrs. Babcock,” said Lambert to their hostess, dropping a few coins into her palm.
“Oh, but he ain’t seen what delights me fine establishment has to offer, has he, Mr Lambert?” And with that she stood back from the door and bade them enter. Whatever mortification Groves had experienced at Mrs. Babcock’s inappropriate implications were nothing compared to his shock at the sights that greeted him within. Barely clad females draped themselves, brazenly, across men who lounged upon the low settees dotted around the room; Groves eyes widened even further when he realised that, upon one settee, the coupling consisted of two women, engaged in such debauchery that he flushed to his very toes. Brightly coloured drapes, made of fine muslin, hung over the doorways that separated this parlour from three other chambers and, beyond, silhouettes moved in rhythm. Through one doorway, Groves was certain that he could discern the outline of three figures, but he looked away quickly for fear of what devilment he might witness.
Angrily, he grabbed Lambert by the elbow. “What kind of ungodly hole have you brought me to, man?”
But Lambert merely smiled, and calmly withdrew his arm from Groves’ grasp. “Settle down, sonny. You’re wound tighter than a thrupenny watch and I’m figurin’ it’s a good knockin’ you need. No better place than Mrs. Babcock’s pleasure emporium to satisfy that particular requirement and the best thing about the whole arrangement is that it don’t cost a thing, save a shilling at the door. Consider this one my treat.” He swept his hand around the room. “We’re all ‘ere for the same thing, mate. I suggest you just loosen up and let yourself enjoy the experience.”
“I’ll be doing no such thing. I have no intention of tarrying in this house for one moment longer!”
Lambert shrugged. “Suit yourself, mate. But I will be tarrying here for a good many moments, so good luck for finding your way back to town through that jungle.” And with that he hooked his arm around the shoulders of a passing wench and set off for one of the vacant couches.
Groves spirits fell when he realised that he would be stuck in this heinous situation until Lambert had sated whatever desires currently consumed him; if he didn’t wish to become lost in the jungles of this strange isle, he had little choice but to wait. Scouting the room, he spotted a darkened alcove under the stairs, partly hidden by a heavy velvet curtain. Eager to seek refuge from his current situation, Groves darted towards it and threw himself inside, pulling the curtain closed behind him. For the first time since he had entered this place, he felt the tension leave his bones and sank to the floor in relief.
Groves sprang back in alarm at the voice which cried out from somewhere beneath him. “I… I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t realise anyone was here.”
“Bloody hell, mate, you almost broke me legs there. You should watch where you throw yourself in an establishment such as this. People might get the wrong idea, savvy?”
As Groves’ eyes became accustomed to the subdued lighting in the alcove, he saw the reclining figure of a man, sprawled across some cushions, which had been strewn on the floor. Though his face remained in shadow, Groves could make out fine, bejewelled fingers and elegant hands; his form was lithe, almost too slender for a man, but his open shirt revealed a tanned…
“See something you like, mate?”
Groves started, pulling his gaze away with a frown, and ignored the implication in the man’s question. “As I said, sir, I offer my apologies if I caused you any discomfort.”
The stranger’s hand fluttered in the air, dismissively. “I’ve experienced more discomfort than that,” he slurred, “and at the hands of blokes not nearly so pleasing to the eye.”
A sudden heat burned in Groves’ cheeks at the impropriety of the compliment, spreading quickly through the rest of his body. Indignation, he told himself; how dare this fellow make such remarks to a gentleman. Yet he found himself unable to leave the alcove and remove himself from the man’s company.
“So tell me,” continued his strange companion, “what’s a lusty young sailor like yourself doing hiding under the stairs, when there’s an abundance of wagtail out there eager to take a stroke with anyone what’s up for it?” The man paused and then added, cautiously. “You’re not a eunuch, are you?”
“No, I most certainly am not, sir!” cried Groves.
“Oh,” he replied, and sounded almost disappointed. “I’ve always wanted to meet a eunuch.”
“Sir, I would thank you to keep your bawdy-house tongue still!” exclaimed Groves, unable to contain his ire a moment longer. “I find myself in this establishment against my better judgement and against my will. I assure you, my sense of common decency would normally prohibit me from frequenting such a place.”
But the fellow merely chuckled. “Settle down, mate. I ain’t here to condemn you to fire and brimstone. Me blood’s red, same as yours, and I understand that when a bloke’s got an itch, then it’s in the best interests of all that said itch gets scratched with some expediency. I, meself, prefer to have others do the scratching, rather than do it by me onesies, for I’ve heard that such a solitary activity can be hellish on the eyesight.”
“Sir, I have no itch,” said Groves, tersely.
The stranger shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he replied, and lay back, languorously, on the cushions, his fingers idly stroking the dark skin of his chest. Groves took a shaky breath, feeling a sudden unease at the silence that had fallen between them. Despite the inappropriate nature of the fellow’s blathering thus far, he was possessed by a need to fill this silence.
“I might ask you the same question. If you are so predisposed to enjoy the company of such wanton females, why do you hide behind this curtain?”
“Mate, I’m predisposed to enjoy the company of anyone who happens to fall in me lap.” Though Groves still could not see the man’s face, he was sure that he had winked at him. “But to answer your question, in all honesty, I was hoping to catch meself forty winks. There’s biters out there what expect you to keep it up for hours at a time and, being the obliging chap that I am, I don’t have the heart to disappoint. Such an energetic pastime does, however, leave a bloke knackered after a bit, and I was enjoying the respite until you stumbled upon me hidey-hole.”
Despite himself, Groves grinned at the exaggerated weariness in the man’s tone.
“Ah, so that’s what your pearly-whites look like,” said his companion, in response to his expression. “You should do that more often, mate. You’d have maids beating at your door for that smile.”
With a laugh, Groves shook his head, the man’s blithe nature beginning to rub off on him. “As I’ve said, sir, I have no interest in maids beating at my door.”
“Is that right?” asked the stranger. “Then it ain’t maids what you’re after, eh?” As he spoke, he leaned into what little light streamed through the crack in the curtain and, to his chagrin, Groves uttered a gasp at the face that was revealed to him. Never before had he laid eyes upon a man with features such as his. Dark, long-lashed eyes, bordered with black and holding the weight of every sin condemned by God; skin, too soft for any man who called himself sailor; cheekbones that Michelangelo himself might have carved from the finest marble in Italy.
Groves’ lips parted, his mouth suddenly dry and his heart beating a rapid tattoo in his chest. “Sir-” he began, but found his voice hoarse and words beyond him.
The man’s hands were on his leg suddenly, fingers moving over the muscles of his calf. A dizziness had come over him and, for a moment, Groves felt that he might pass out. Such thoughts were flitting through his mind, such wicked, sinful thoughts, yet he found himself unable to move from beneath the stranger’s touch. Would it be so bad, in a place such as this, so far from the town, even further from the ship, would it be so bad for him to let events follow whatever course they might take? The man’s hand was on his thigh now and Groves reached up, fingertips grazing the tawny, tattooed skin of his arm…
“There you are, Jack Sparrow!” Light streamed into the alcove as the curtain was pulled back and Groves sprang hastily to his feet, eyes squeezed shut against the glare.
“Bloody hell, Agnes! You gave me the fright of me bloody life!” cried the stranger, holding his hand up to shield his eyes. “What d’you want?”
“You promised Louisa and I a tumble tonight, Jack Sparrow,” mewed the girl who stood framed in the alcove, “and you know how sad it makes us when you don’t keep your promises,”
“Well, I was a bit busy here, love, as you can see,” he replied, fluttering his hand towards Groves, who was trying, desperately, to regain his composure. Through his intense mortification, though, realisation began to dawn, and he prayed that his ears had deceived him.
“May I… may I ask your name, sir?” he asked, his voice strained and dread sitting low in his stomach.
A broad grin split the stranger’s face. “Oh, I think you know me name already, mate, and as sorry as I am to interrupt our little rendezvous, as the French call it, it appears I have a prior engagement which clear slipped me mind. Another time maybe?” He sketched a quick bow and then made off down the hall, pulling a giggling Agnes behind him. Seconds later, Groves heard heavy footfalls, bounding up the stairs above his head and he was left alone, the sharp sting of humiliation burning, fiercely, in his chest as he realised he'd been played for a fool.
Groves burst, angrily, from the alcove, wishing he had upon his person the pistol which lay in his trunk on the Burford. He set off to find Lambert, and after much embarrassment and muttered apologies, eventually discovered him with company in the third room adjacent to the parlour. “Lambert, he’s here! The blackguard’s here!” he cried, shielding his eyes, as much to protect his own modesty as that of Lambert’s half-clothed female paramour.
“Can’t you bloody see I’m in the middle of something?” yelled Lambert, struggling to pull up his breeches.
“There is a far more important matter that demands out attention, man! We have a villain to apprehend!”
“Eh?” Lambert squinted at him, nonplussed. “Calm yourself down, sonny. What’s got yer knickers in a twist?”
“Jack Sparrow, man! He’s here!”
Lambert looked unconvinced. “Jack Sparrow is here? And how would you know Jack Sparrow from Adam?”
Lambert’s apparent lack of concern at the presence of such a diabolical reprobate, not ten feet from where they stood, was becoming frustrating. “Because one of those clap-ridden wenches called him by name, that’s how! And to think that the fiend had the audacity to… to…” But Groves’ attempts to articulate the sinfulness of Sparrow’s advances were cut short by a loud guffaw from Lambert. The man laughed until he could laugh no more, clutching his sides and wiping his eyes. “I find no humour in our current situation, Mr. Lambert! We are representatives of the King’s Navy, yet the man mocks us by flaunting his depravity!” His crewmate’s reaction only served to intensify Groves’ ire. “We are duty bound, sir, duty bound to apprehend him!”
Gradually, Lambert’s uproarious laughter subsided to a chuckle, but rather than accede to Groves’ demand to accompany him in Sparrow’s arrest, he flung himself back onto the bed next to his harlot.
“Mr. Groves, this is San Andres, we’re on leave and I’ve more pressing matters what demand my attention. You want to try and make a name for yourself by being the one to arrest Sparrow, then have at it, mate. But I’m thinking the real reason yer all in a tizz is because the blighter gave you a bit of chat, fluttered his pretty lashes, and then ran off with a tasty bit of skirt.” Groves, incensed at the charge, opened his mouth to protest, but Lambert carried on. “And if that’s the how it was, then think on this. You won’t be the first one he’s charmed in such a way, and you certainly won’t be the last. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” With that, Lambert turned his attentions back to the girl laying next to him and Groves found himself forced to leave the room. But before he did, he snatched up the pistol, which lay discarded along with Lambert’s shoes and clothes, upon the floor.
No matter, he thought to himself, I shall make the arrest on my own. Sparrow had appeared to be without swrod or pistol during their encounter in the alcove and, though he did not wish to think on the particulars, Groves supposed that whatever activity the man was engaged in above stairs would preclude the need for him to be armed; if caught at the right time, Jack Sparrow, would have no weapon that could be used to his advantage. Straightening his shoulders, Groves set off determinedly up the stairs.
At the top was an L-shaped corridor, with various doors leading off; chinks of light shone through the gaps beneath each one, and such ungodly, animal sounds could be heard within. To his dismay, Groves realised that, in order to find which room contained his quarry, he would have to search each one in turn. His hand had closed on the first door handle, when a voice from further up the corridor grabbed his attention.
“Steady on, love. It ain’t a turkey leg yer gnawing on there. Less of the teeth, eh?”
Rounding the corner, Groves found three more doors, the first two of which were closed. Light streamed into the corridor from the third and he crept towards it, outrage building with each step. Pressing his back against the wall, Groves concealed himself in the shadows of the hallway and looked through the open door. What he saw inside made his breath catch in shock.
Upon the bed, lay Sparrow, his torso bare, clothing strewn on the floor. Sweat glistened upon his body, pooling bright at the hollow of his throat and along the shallow valley of his chest. Groves swallowed, his throat constricting at the sight of the woman, Agnes, kneeling between the man’s legs, head moving rhythmically as Sparrow’s hand threaded into her hair, gripping tight, urging her onwards. “Ah, that’s it, love,” he breathed. “Oh…”
Sparrow’s head fell back, sinews stretched taut on the dark skin of his neck; black hair, long as a maiden’s, trailed across his shoulders, and a few strands stuck to the sweat on his forehead. Perspiration beaded on Groves’ own face and he felt it turn into tiny trickles which ran down into the neck of his shirt.
As he watched, the scene turned from shameful to debauched, when a second female came to lie at Sparrow’s side, naked and wanton. The pirate turned to her, mouth curling into a lascivious grin. Freeing his hand from Agnes’ hair, he reached out to cup the girl’s breast, thumb brushing over her nipple, making her sigh with delight. With a slight flick of his head, he summoned her towards him and she gladly obeyed. He kissed her deeply, brazenly, and from where he stood, Groves could see Sparrow’s tongue thrusting between the harlot’s lips.
Suddenly, she gasped and Groves realised that Sparrow’s hand had travelled from her breast towards the mound of hair between her legs. To his horror, he heard himself gasp also and the pirate turned his head, sharply, at the sound. Groves’ eyes locked with his and for a moment he was transfixed, like a serpent caught in a fakir’s spell; he could only watch as this black hearted wretch, rather than cease his activities at the presence of another, let his fingers continue their journey towards that hidden spot.
The wench cried out as he entered her and she writhed beneath Sparrow’s touch. His fingers moved, harder and faster, and the woman’s cries became wilder, her back arching in ecstasy, but all the while the man’s black gaze did not leave Groves. At last, being able to take no more of the depraved exhibition and he burst into the room, pistol trained on Jack; both women screamed in alarm at his sudden entrance and fell back, but Sparrow barely stirred.
“You make a move and I shoot you where you sit, Sparrow,” spat Groves, his voice maddeningly hoarse. Sparrow merely grinned and leaned back; being threatened with a pistol had done little to diminish his arousal and Groves tilted his chin in an attempt to avoid the sight.
“Girls, it appears we have unexpected company,” he drawled, with a smirk. “How about you leave us two gentlemen alone to discuss a bit of business, eh?” Plucking their clothing from the floor, the two women scurried from the room, casting dark glances in Groves’ direction at his interruption of their evening’s pursuits.
When they had gone, Groves said, “I see only one gentleman in this room, Sparrow. Don’t dare presume that you are my equal.”
Sparrow chuckled. “No, mate,” he replied and glanced down at his lap. “I daresay there are aspects in which we are both definitely… unequal.”
Groves struggled to keep his eyes on the man’s face. “You cannot shock me with your vulgarity, Sparrow.”
“Me vulgarity isn’t intended to shock, son,” said Sparrow, standing and pulling up his breeches. “It’s intended for far more pleasurable things.”
“Enough! Jack Sparrow, in the name of the King and the British Empire,” said Groves, unsure exactly what wording should be used when apprehending a notorious pirate, but willing to improvise, “I order you to accompany me to the HMS Burford, where you will be placed in the custody of the Royal Navy.” He stepped forward, pistol still trained on the smiling Sparrow, and reached out to grasp him by the elbow.
In an instant, though, and with surprising strength, Sparrow had seized the barrel of the gun, wrenching it from his grip. With his other hand, he grabbed the collar of Groves’ jacket, shoving him backwards until he collided with the wall. Groves cried out in shock at the sudden assault, trying in vain to keep hold of his weapon, but it was for naught. He heard the click, as Sparrow cocked the pistol, and felt the cold metal press against his temple. It had taken seconds for him to lose the advantage he’d held and now he found himself cornered, weaponless and at the mercy of the most abominably cunning knave to ever sail the Caribbean.
“Well, mate, looks like you’ve got yourself in a bit of a situation, here,” said Sparrow, with a smirk and, still clutching the fabric of the jacket, tilted his head to one side. “And I’ve always been of the opinion that when a man finds himself in a situation which could be considered difficult, then he should do whatever it takes to get himself out of said situation without delay. Whatever it takes.” Slowly, his eyes raked Groves’ body and he pursed his lips as if contemplating what he saw.
“Unhand me, Captain Sparrow,” said Groves’, but his voice was husky and held little conviction. He felt something move across his chest and, looking down, he saw that Sparrow was unfastening the buttons of his waistcoat, his fingers tracing lazy patterns between each one. He felt that he should repeat the demand to be set free, but Sparrow still had the pistol aimed at his temple and, regardless, Groves found himself reluctant to utter the words. All the while that damned cocksure grin did not leave the pirate’s face.
“Sir…” Groves croaked, but could say no more, because his waistcoat was finally undone and Sparrow’s hand was moving across his stomach, causing Groves to wish, suddenly, deliriously, for the absence of his overshirt that he might feel the man’s touch upon his naked skin.
“Mate,” murmured Sparrow, “there’re two things what tell me you ain’t so eager to extricate yourself from your current predicament. You want me to tell you what they are?” Groves, still incapable of speech, nodded. “Well, the first is this.” Reaching down, Sparrow ran his hand over the spot where Groves strained against his breeches and, slowly, he stroked the hard, shameful evidence of his desire. Oh, if only this cursed man’s touch did not arouse in him such wicked longings; if only his caress did not make his damned traitorous body throb so.
“And the second?” he asked Sparrow, in a whisper.
Sparrow chuckled. “The second is that I dropped the pistol onto the floor some minutes ago. You’ve been free to go for a while now, mate, and yet still you remain.” With a jolt, Groves realised that he spoke the truth, that both the man’s hands, now empty of a weapon, were occupied with, slowly, pulling his shirt free from the waistband of his breeches. Hot breath ghosted on the skin of Groves’ neck as Sparrow leaned into him, moving closer with each word. “Now, tell me, mate what might keep such a god-fearing, morally upright young bloke like yourself in the company of a black-hearted scoundrel like me?” When he spoke again his lips grazed Groves’ ear, causing a tremor to course through him. “Tell me that.”
Groves closed his eyes, his head falling back against the wall. He was so close, close enough that Groves could feel the hardness in Sparrow’s own breeches. His shirt was loose now and, just as he had craved, he could feel the rough surface of the pirate’s palms moving, languorously, over the skin of his torso. Groves’ eyes were drawn to that curve of Jack’s body where shoulder became neck and was overwhelmed, suddenly, by the desire to taste him; to let his tongue run over the sweat that shone there, let his teeth graze the line of his jaw…
“This is sinful!” he cried, pushing Sparrow away from him, wishing to be free from his corrupting power. Groves’ breath came in laboured gasps, his heart beating rapidly against his chest. “You are the devil, Captain Sparrow, and I’ll not be defiled by whatever perversion of nature you have in mind.”
But Sparrow merely staggered back to lean upon the bed frame, that golden smile upon his lips once more, his long, tarred fingers playing over the skin of his stomach. “Don’t think ‘twas just meself what had sin in mind, but have it your way. There’s the door,” he said, with a nod of his head. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d send Agnes or Louisa me way again, seeing as I’m all primed up here with nowhere to drop me anchor, as it were.”
Groves drew himself up, tucking his shirt back into his waistband and trying to collect whatever remained of his dignity. It was just as he moved for the door that it happened; one fleeting instant, one tiny movement and Groves was lost.
Stretching his arms behind his head, he arched his back, gracefully, dark skin and muscle pulled taut over his chest and down, over his smooth stomach, to that gathering of hair above his open breeches; a slow, lazy sigh escaped him as his body relaxed. Groves crossed the room towards him in two strides, his hand grabbing onto the thick braids at the back of his head.
Sparrow was apparently unsurprised by this change of heart and Groves thought that perhaps the yawn hadn’t been an entirely innocent occurrence. “Fancy getting yourself defiled after all, do you?” His hand curved around Groves’ throat. “Well, mate, there’s none better than Captain Jack Sparrow to do the defiling,” he purred and guided him towards the floor. All semblance of rational thought fled; there was no right and no wrong. There was only the delicious heat of Sparrow’s body as it pressed against him, weighing him down and sending fire through every extremity; the feel of sleek skin under his fingertips, the dark, welcoming abyss of black eyes. He felt Jack’s hand slip below the waistband of his breeches, warm fingers encircling the length of him.
“Easy, mate. Easy,” murmured the pirate, as he stroked him. “Let me show you how to bring a man to his fall.” Jack’s lips closed upon his own and Groves knew that he was truly undone. As he arched beneath his skilled touch, one final lucid thought passed through his mind. If this is sin, then let me be damned.
Morning brought with it filtered sunshine and the strange chorus of Caribbean birdsong, that sounded like nothing else on this earth. Lewis Groves made to rise from the bed, but his limbs ached wearily and with a groan he sank back into the soft cloud of linen. He was alone, as he knew he would be, but his solitary state did not prevent the slow smile from creeping across his face. This was, indeed, a new morning.
Sleep still hanging at his eyes, he let them drift closed, savouring the images from the previous evening that floated in and out of his thoughts; running his tongue over his lips, Groves was sure he could still taste him, could still feel the press of Jack’s fingers into his flesh. Sure enough when he looked, Groves saw small round marks purpling on his upper arms and his thighs; he smiled, too, at the fine ribbons which stung his back, the agony still sublime, hours after the fact.
A sudden noise at the door pulled him from his reverie, and he realised, with some chagrin, that it had been left ajar throughout his tryst with the pirate. “Is someone there?” he called.
Slowly, the door swung open to reveal Mr. Sullivan standing on the threshold. “It’s only me, mate.” Groves sat up, pulling the sheet across his naked body. As blissful as his situation had been a moment ago, he was, suddenly, acutely aware of the consequences, should the crew discover whose bed he had shared last night. Scanning the room, he searched for any lingering trace of Jack Sparrow. Finding none, he tried to ignore the faint stab of disappointment.
“I wouldn’t bother. He never leaves anything behind.” Sully leaned against the door jamb, unsmiling but with a look of knowing on his face.
“I… I don’t know what you mean.” Groves tugged the sheet tighter around him. Can he smell him? he thought. Can he smell him the way I still can?
“‘Course you do, mate,” said Sully, walking into the room and flopping onto the chaise longue. “Old Lambert tipped me the wink that you were here. Said you might need a bit of help after last night and I see that he was right.”
“I need no help, Sully. I’m fine and I still don’t know what you’re talking about.” But Groves knew his lies were unconvincing.
“Oh come off it, Groves. We both know who had his gob round yer pintel last night,” said Sully, with a wry chuckle. “But what a fine gob it is, eh?”
The denial died on Groves’ lips as realisation dawned and he recalled the mocking taunts of the crew aboard the Burford. “You?”
Sully shrugged. “I’m only human, mate, and he’s so… he’s so…”
“Enthralling,” Groves finished.
“Yeah, that. It were like I were under a spell or somethin’. Like witchcraft.” Sully frowned and then said, forcefully, “I ain’t no molly, y’know!” He looked to Groves, as if waiting for a similar assertion, but Groves said nothing and the man’s eyes fell to studying his fingernails. After a moment he spoke again. “Sometimes I think he might be the Devil himself.” He looked up, something akin to a plea in his eyes. “Do you, Groves? Do you think ‘twas black arts he used upon us?”
Groves took a breath, feeling a degree of sympathy for his conflicted crewmate. But, search though he might for that flicker of shame he was certain should burn in his conscience, he could find none. “No, Sully. I don’t think Jack Sparrow is the Devil,” he replied, after a time. “I think he just does what it takes to survive.”
Sully sighed, resignedly, but said no more on the matter. “Suppose we better get you back to the ship then, eh?”
“I’d be most appreciative,” said Groves, and held up his wrist, so that Sully might unscrew the manacle currently chaining him to the bedpost. Once free, he rubbed the raw skin on his arm, yet another badge in honour of his night spent with Jack Sparrow.
“I’m curious, mate,” said Sully, a puzzled frown on his face. “If you didn’t know you were going to meet Sparrow, why the dickens did you bring shackles with you?”
Groves coughed, self-consciously, and began to dress. “It wasn’t me who brought them,” he muttered, and tried to ignore Sully’s brays of laughter.
As they both walked back to the dockside, Groves tried to prepare himself for whatever ribbing he would have to endure at the hands of his crewmates. However, his thoughts insisted upon returning to Jack Sparrow; he couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever again set eyes upon him and, if he did, what circumstances would bring such an event to pass. But even if he was destined never to be in his presence again, Groves was certain of one thing.
Captain Jack Sparrow was possibly the best pirate he had ever seen.