Stories Hub / Sci-Fi & Fantasy / The Pirate King Ch. 12

The Pirate King Ch. 12

by nakamook 06/24/17

This is a part of an ongoing series - if you find yourself here without reading the previously chapters, I highly recommend going and catching up. We'll still be here when you get back :)

So it's looking like we'll be moving to a two week schedule, rather than a weekly one. I hope that won't lose me any of you - I'm just struggling to keep up writing this with everything else in my life. Enjoy the chapter, see you in a week or two.

Alternate title: "You got a haircut"

I am living for the responses and feedback and comments you guys have been sending me; its the only reason I do what I do, to make y'all happy. You guys are the best:) Peace, love, be safe. Wishing you all warm baths and someone to share them with.


*****

Natch meeting my brother was a scene in opposite of my reintroduction to Horace.

Natch stood about where Horace had been, his eyes wide, his stance ready. But where Horace had been ready to run, Natch was ready to fight. And the brothel workers were crowded at my back, rather than anywhere but near me, every corner but the corner I had been standing in. And to top it all off, now it was not I but my brother who caused the stir, unlike in the bars, unlike on the streets. Unlike in a brothel just like this one, so few days ago.

I would be lying if I said I did not take a moment to enjoy the shift.

The Captain took charge quickly, pulling Natch aside and speaking quietly to him. I don't know what he said. I know Natch's eyes went wider yet, tracked to me standing so near to this man who caused him fear.

I put a hand on Val's shoulder and I thought his eyes would burst.

"This feels familiar," I murmured to Val, unwilling to not be amused.

"I hate this," he responded. I squeezed his shoulder and he grumbled.

In time, the Captain coaxed Natch over to us. I didn't bother to smile at him as he moved through the open space; he would either trust me or he wouldn't. He should have already made that decision, listened to his captain. If he hadn't, if he didn't, then there was nothing that I could do.

"Ghost," he said cautiously.

"Natch," I responded, ignoring how Val shifted at Natch's name for me. Sybil had told him; he should have expected this. "This is my brother, Val."

Neither man said anything. I turned and gave Val a long look.

Val finally let out a long breath. "You sail with my brother."

"Aye." Natch was still holding himself stiffly, like he expected to have to take a hit at any point. He said nothing more.

"And with." Val shot a look at the Captain, took in those dark eyes that I loved so much. "With my brother's lover."

The Captain's eyebrow shot up. "Aye," answered Natch flatly.

Val glanced up at me. I shrugged. It was up to him how to progress.

He turned back to Natch, and his face set into an expression I was very familiar with. Strange, I thought. I would not have gone with that. "You were the one looking for Yarrick."

Natch stiffened further, his entire body becoming taut, Val's words having the effect of a stiff breeze into unprepared sails, his soul not expecting the force of the sea from this small, grey-haired man. From any man, perhaps, although he should have known better having known me. I wondered if he might keel over from the force of it, if we might have to right him when all of this was done. I looked to the Captain to see if he had the same thought and found him looking at the boy with concern.

Fair, I thought. Concern is fair, and much more succinct.

"Brother," I murmured, but Val raised his hand.

"I track him," he told Natch, his voice holding the first hints of a flurry. I thought I might be able to see his breath in the chill that had descended between the two men that stood before me. "I have to know where he works, so I can try and get to the boys before he does. Or after. I don't know when." He looked Natch over carefully. "I'm sorry, I've haven't been as attentive these past three years."

Natch took a step back.

"But I always know. Consider it my singular hell, to know all the people that I'm personally failing." The smile on my brother's lips was drug up from the bottom of the harbor; it dripped from his face like slime, held things that should not have ever seen the light of day. "Ah, but you don't care. You don't trust. As well you shouldn't. When you want, ask my brother. He'll know where Yarrick is. And if he doesn't, I promise." The smile sharpened itself on a thousand shards of ice. I felt the sea inside of me follow suit as gusts blew through my brother's soul. "I will."

He turned and walked away, and the room was colder than it had been before, and his promise hung in the air like the last flakes of snow, until it settled and melted against our skin.

Natch gasped and dropped to his knees.

"Fuck." The Captain was closer, but somehow I made it to the man first. I think I was the most used to the way my brother could freeze the very world. Or maybe I was the least affected, since my soul was filled with things to counteract his arctic press.

"You told him," Natch whispered.

"I never would." I put a hand on Natch's shoulder and was pleased to see that he did not pull away, but pressed into it. I waited until his skin felt warm again before I reached before him to try and help him up.

He took my hand and stood, if a bit unsteadily. "What is he," he asked, awe clear in his voice.

I met his eyes. "My brother."

He searched my face for a long moment before nodding. Natch, as always, understood more of me than most men.

"Is he dead too?"

Beside me, the Captain frowned and crossed his arms. I shook my head.

"Val is very much alive."

"And yet still like you."

I was saved from having to explain that the sea in fact predated my current existence, that my death in this form was a gift by the very ocean itself, which just seemed like a complicated thing and honestly not related to Val at all, by a gentle voice at my shoulder. "Excuse me."

All three of us turned around. A large teak-skinned man stood behind us, resplendent in silk. "It grows late; your bodies must grow weary. Valdrin decreed that there were to be rooms for you here, if you so desire."

I turned to look out the door. The shadows were growing long on the street - how had I missed that on our way over? I must have been focused on the Captain, on Natch waiting for us here. "Thank you," I told the man.

"We should go back." Natch was quick to suggest it; he still looked unsettled. Pale. Cold.

"Yes," the Captain agreed. His hand found mine and squeezed tight. I knew why he that wanted me to go back with him. I knew that he wanted to spend the more than night with me, wanted me to stay, forever, by his side.

I also wanted to spend the more than night with him, but I could not go back to the ship. Not yet. "I can't," I told them both. My voice was quiet but firm.

The Captain might have argued. Natch knew better than that. "Well, I can't stay here," he said. His hand was bouncing on his leg. Now, I thought. Now is the time for concern. To have this man, so practiced at holding the things he felt out of view of those who might use them against him being so open, so careless. I watched him as his eyes darted around the brothel.

"It's nice here," Val's man told him. Natch shot him a look that he ignored with practice. "There are baths."

"I know what the inside of a brothel looks like," Natch hissed.

Now it was the man's turn to shoot Natch a look. "Most men do."

"Fuck you." Natch was practically vibrating; it was a wonder that he did not fly apart at the seams. "Can we get the fuck out of here. Please."

The man's head moved back slowly, almost imperceptibly. He seemed to see Natch for the first time. I watched him gently take in the smaller man, watched him see all the things Natch would usually be hiding, and considered how much Val needed this man in his business.

"I don't see why you can't just come with us to the ship." The Captain continued as if nothing was happening. For his part, he seemed at ease. Perhaps all the pressures he might have been feeling were condensed into a single hand, so tightly wrapped around mine. "You're here, I'm here. We cut it a month short."

I brought him close, pulling his arms around my waist. "You know that I cannot."

"Fuck that," he stated. But, I noted with a smile, it wasn't a very angry statement. If only I could get him to spend the night with me...

"I gotta get out of here," Natch repeated, and the smile fell from my face. What to do with Natch? I wanted to be with the Captain, but it felt wrong to leave him alone.

"There's a bar." The man interrupted my thoughts. I turned my head to him slowly; his next words would determine if it was good that he had gotten my attention. "We go to it sometimes after work. They have rooms, too." He was still standing carefully,

resplendently, but there was something more real about his demeanor. "I know the owner."

Natch didn't relax. "I don't have money."

A hand was waved lazily; he must have gotten that from Val, it looked so familiar. Or maybe they all learned how to make the motions like that, easy, soft. "I'll take the money from the till. Val won't mind."

"Horace will," I interjected. The hand wave this time was much less lazy, much more pointed. I met his gaze and smiled to see the mischievousness he hid behind his eyes.

Natch was still not convinced. He stiffly extended an arm towards the Captain and I's entwined forms. "Only if they come with."

The Captain winced. I didn't think he wanted to be in a bar right then; I didn't think he wanted to be around people at all, unless people included me and only me.

But there was a bigger problem with that plan, one I saw Val's man trying to find a way to voice. I did it for him. "They won't serve me."

Natch frowned. "Because you're the brother of the Worm?"

I raised an eyebrow, saw Val's man start. Watched the way his gentle gaze became much more pointed on Natch's stiff form. "No."

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