It is something of a low point for a pirate captain of such prestige as The Black Stache to be on the deck of a tiny boat rocking lightly in the evening tide. Especially since he’d been living on said tiny boat for about a month now, after losing his last crew to a particularly nasty hurricane. He might say he was laying low for a while to build suspense. Of course, laying low didn’t need to involve such cramped quarters, but the boat had no holes in it, and the lantern illuminated what little boat there was in a nearly pleasant glow of soft gold. There were worse places to be, surely. Stache just hadn’t been to them yet.
Oh, and Smee was there. That was a given. He was always there, right when Stache needed him. It felt good to have such a loyal minion of Stache’s evil. No, minion wasn’t the right word, too lowly. A loyal sidekick, perhaps. A loyal right-hand man. A loyal first mate.
“Care for some more mead, captain?” The corners of Stache’s lips curled up at the title. Even with a crew of two, Smee was there to flatter him.
“Well, I suppose, if you insist.”
“Only if you insist, sir.” Stache rolled his eyes. Sometimes loyal was too loyal.
“That was a yes, Smee.”
“Oh.” Smee rushed to his side and upended the dark brown bottle into Stache’s silver mug. “Looks like we’re plumb out, sir. I can, uh, get you ano-” Stache held up a hand, silencing him mid-word.
“No need, Smee. Surely it’s God’s way of telling me I’ve drunk too much, the bastard. But, since the drinking’s all over, that means you pick what we do next. Within reason, of course -” Stache leveled his gaze at Smee - he would not make the mistake of letting Smee talk him into pogo-fishing for a third time.
“We could play a game, sir. Poker, or charades, or,” Smee laughed nervously. “Spin the bottle.”
“We do have a bottle right here.” Stache tapped his fingers lightly on the glass.
“Oh, captain, that was only a jo-”
“How do you play?”
Stache stared up at Smee with inquisitive eyes, and for a moment, Smee wondered if he was also joking, but then that moment passed and he realized the captain was serious.
“It’s a party game, sir.”
“Well, we’ll be a party of two. What are the rules?”
“They’re mighty simple. You just, um,” Smee gulped, “well, usually you’d be sitting on the floor.” Stache shrugged his shoulders and complied, sliding effortlessly to a new lounging position. Smee plopped down across from him. “Then everyone takes a turn; you spin the bottle, and you kiss whoever it lands on.”
“Kiss, you say?” Stupid idea, Smee, stupid, stupid!
“Well, we don’t have to play-”
“No, no, your game, your rules. Alright, I’ll go first.” Stache stood the bottle up on the floor. “How do you span this?”
“On its side, sir.” Smee reached out and gently balanced the bottle on its side. It rocked slightly with the gentle sway of the boat.
“Spin the bottle, then!” Stache announced as he grabbed the bottle and gave it a twirl, sending it sliding in a small circle. He kept his eyes trained to it eagerly as it swung to a slow stop, pointing towards a pair of leather boots. “Ah, the first victim!” Before Smee had time to react, Stache snatched up one of the boots in his hand and planted a kiss on it. He brushed his mustache back into place as he put the boot down. “Doubles as a polisher, wouldn’t you know! Alright, Smee, it’s your turn.”
Smee released a breath that he didn’t realize he’d been holding. Right. Even if there were only two of them, the odds that the bottle would land on Stache over, say, a coil of rope or a tackle box were fairly slim. Smee reached forward and gave the bottle a hearty shove.
The bottle spun for much longer this time, but it did not land on a coil of rope or a tackle box. The neck pointed perfectly, as if drawn to him by a magnet, to Stache. Stache raised his eyebrows, and a long silence passed between them.
“Aren’t you going to play?” Stache smiled slightly, though it was barely perceptible beneath his facial hair.
“Yes. Right.” Smee looked down at the bottle, and then back up to Stache. “Of course, we could always-” but Smee was cut off, as he had been so many times by his captain, but not with words. Stache leaned forward, closing the gap between them in an instant and kissing Smee squarely on the lips. Smee hardly had a moment to close his eyes before it was over and Stache rocked back to his original position, grabbing the bottle and giving it another spin.
“My, what are the adds?”
“Odds,” Smee corrected, instinctively.
“Odds. I’m assuming that I get bonus points?” Smee blinked his eyes to double-check that, yes, the bottle was pointing toward his knee. What were the odds?
“There aren’t any points, but depending on the house rules, if you have to kiss someone a second time, the kiss is longer.”
“And what of the boat rules?”
“It’s up to you, cap’n.”
Stache leaned forward more slowly this time. He felt Smee’s rough hand make its way up to his cheek, but the touch was not altogether unpleasant. Smee was much softer than he’d expected, and he tasted disgusting - salty, leathery, fishy. Still, Stache wasn’t repulsed. His breath was probably twice as bad. And the kiss felt good. Stache felt warm in his chest, and his stomach began to twist. Wait, were stomachs supposed to twist this much?
Stache bolted up suddenly, breaking the kiss and dashing to the side of the boat, where he promptly retched into the water. In an instant, Smee was by his side, holding a rag so he could wipe his mouth.
“Sorry, cap’n, I didn’t mean to.” Smee looked down at his feet.
“Does that always happen? With kissing?”
“Or is it just because of all this -” he let out an impressive burp - “mead I’ve been enjoying up to this particular point in time?”
“I can’t say, sir. It’s only my first one.”
“So it was, Smee. So it was.” Stache squeezed his eyes shut, trying to push the dizziness out of his system. Right. He’d been drinking. He was drunk. Rose-colored beer goggles and all that. “Well, I’d best be taking my repose.”
“Goodnight, Smee.” He gave half a wave as he stumbled back towards his cot, not daring to look back at his first mate. Rose-colored beer goggles, he assured himself. Tomorrow, Smee would be Smee and he would be The Black Stache and they’d sail the seas in search of treasure to pillage and ships to burn. Like it was supposed to be.
Tonight, though, he slumped to bed and dreamed about salt and waves and something that, if he were an honest man, he might call his first kiss. But bloodthirsty outlaws are rarely honest men.