The great merchant ship out of Carolina had surrendered without a shot fired, striking her colors at the first sight of Blackbeard’s flag. Now the Revenge’s boats flitted back and forth between them, carrying crates and casks away from the merchant’s hold, while her crew sat glumly belowdecks with pistols trained at their heads. Another hour’s work and the Revenge would be away on the wind again, without a drop of blood shed.
The merchant could spread more sail than the Revenge, and she might have been able to outrun them, if she’d tried. But everybody knew what happened to you when you ran from Blackbeard.
This was the first prize they’d taken since Blackbeard had returned, but it didn’t seem to have satisfied him much, if at all. Izzy saw him standing on the far side of the deck from the captured ship, staring off at the empty horizon and gripping the rail with white knuckles.
There were times when Blackbeard insisted with a smile that it was better when it happened this way—no loss of men, no torn-up rigging to repair, no blood to swab from the decks. But not today. Today, when they’d first sighted the merchant, Blackbeard's eyes had lit up with the old half-mad fire; and then, when she’d surrendered so easily, Izzy had seen him snarl and turn away, his hand still gripping the handle of his naked sword.
It had been beautiful to see.
Izzy stepped over to where Blackbeard stood and leaned against the rail next to his captain. “Fucking cowards,” he said cheerfully. “Hope the next one gives us more of a fight. I hate to see you disappointed.”
“Is that so?” said Blackbeard.
Tension still radiated from him, in his voice, the tightness of his shoulders, the unnatural stillness of his body. There had been times, before, when he’d released this sort of frustrated violence another way. Izzy did not permit himself to hope for that now. It was enough just to stand there, at his captain’s side, where he belonged.
Minutes stretched by without a word between them, until finally Blackbeard released his iron grip on the rail. He still didn’t turn his head to look at Izzy. “I’m going below,” he said. “Handle the rest of this.” Then he stalked off toward his cabin like an angry cat, giving a brutal shove to a man who didn’t get out of his way quickly enough before slamming the cabin door behind him.
Izzy stood at the rail for a few moments more, to give himself time to wipe the frankly ridiculous smile from his face.
He was back. Blackbeard was back .
Blackbeard didn’t appear on deck again all day, not even at the dinner bell, and he ignored the cook’s cautious knock at his door an hour later. When the sunset faded into twilight and there was still no sign of him, Izzy went to the cabin, opened the door, and stepped inside. He didn’t knock. He had never needed to.
Blackbeard stood silhouetted by the fading twilight, staring out of the ridiculous bow window at the darkening sea, one hand pressed against the bulkhead beside the window. There were dark smudges of facepaint on the fussy woodwork under his fingers.
“Never knew you to stand with your back to a door,” said Izzy, striding across the cabin toward him. “You don’t even lock the fucking thing. I could have been anyone.”
Blackbeard didn’t say a word as Izzy approached. It was as if he hadn’t heard him speak at all. He might have been a statue, except that his fingers gripped the wood more tightly as Izzy came to stand beside him. At his right hand.
“We can run for weeks on the stores we took today,” Izzy said. “We should change course, no need to refit at Nassau now. If we stay on the shipping lanes we might run across a convoy with a real escort, something we could bloody up a bit, get you out of this pissy mood—"
With no warning at all, Blackbeard snatched a fistful of his hair and jerked his head back and shoved him face-first into the bulkhead, slamming his forehead against a piece of wooden scrollwork. Blackbeard’s voice betrayed no emotion at all, low and even, as he said, “What does it take to get you to shut the fuck up?”
Izzy could feel blood trickling down his forehead from where the wood had cut him. A drop landed on his lip, and he could taste it as he said, very quietly, “A word from you.”
Blackbeard’s hand tightened painfully in his hair. He was close enough that Izzy could feel the heat of his body, and he smelled like sweat and salt and unwashed hair and leather. For the first time in months, he smelled right . He smelled like home.
He leaned in closer, pressing Izzy’s head even harder against the wall, and Izzy wondered if he knew that it was bleeding. He brought his mouth inches from Izzy’s ear and growled, “Then shut the fuck up. ”
“Yes, Blackbeard,” Izzy whispered. Yes Blackbeard, yes Blackbeard, yes, god yes…
Blackbeard didn’t move—not toward him, but not away either—and Izzy had to stop himself from pressing his body back against his captain’s, to see if his changeable mood had changed for the better. It often did, when he was this directionlessly angry. Or it had. Before.
Izzy had no idea what would happen now. Blackbeard might give his forehead one more slam against the bulkhead and tell him to get the fuck out, or he might throw him to the floor and give him a kick in the side and walk away.
Or he might not.
Izzy was certain that Blackbeard didn’t know, himself, what he would do; the balance might tip in any direction, at any moment. He watched a drop of blood fall from the tip of his nose and spatter on the floor. He tried not to tremble, and failed.
Then the hand tightened in his hair again, so hard that he gasped, and Blackbeard wordlessly shoved him to his knees.
He was facing the bulkhead, still; he scrabbled to turn himself around and banged his mutilated foot against something and hissed in pain. Blackbeard let go of his hair and then grabbed it again, pushing his head backward against the wood. Izzy looked up at his face, but it was lost in shadow now; the twilight had faded into night, and there were no lights in the cabin. He couldn’t even see whether Blackbeard was looking back down at him.
But he could see that he was half-hard.
Blackbeard was still again now, still and silent. That wasn’t like him. He loved to talk, always, and usually when he had Izzy on his knees he would say the most perfectly filthy things; Izzy had never known how much of that was for Blackbeard and how much of it was for himself, because Blackbeard could see that he liked it. But there was none of that now, no elaborate taunts or dares. Just the silent invitation of Blackbeard standing there in front of him.
It was more than enough.
Slowly, half-expecting his hand to be slapped away, Izzy reached for the laces of Blackbeard’s trousers. The hand tightened in his hair again.
God, it had been so fucking long. Even before the recent… interlude, it had been too long. Those last few months before the Revenge, the captain had swayed between melancholic and manic by the day or even hour, and in neither state had he allowed Izzy to touch him this way. The last few times Izzy had tried, he’d been refused, and then he had stopped trying—only for a while, he’d hoped. Only for a little while.
He didn’t even try to hold back his sigh as his fingers found his captain’s cock. Not quite fully hard yet, silky and yielding and so, so fucking familiar. Izzy knew just what he liked. He dragged his fingers gently, tauntingly up the underside of the shaft, twice, three times, and then he brought his mouth to the tip and licked it lavishly, bottom and top and slit and sides but nothing else, not yet, that always drove him mad, and, fuck, he tasted so good, like a man, like the sea…
He felt Blackbeard lean forward, resting his free hand against the bulkhead and pulling Izzy’s head in closer. He was fully hard now and his breathing had gone harsh and loud, but he still hadn’t said a single word.
Then I’ll fucking make him , Izzy thought.
Without any more preamble, he gripped the backs of Blackbeard’s thighs and opened his mouth and slowly took his captain’s cock as deep as it would go, past the back of his throat, so deep that he could feel muscle constricting around it as he swallowed, so deep that he couldn’t breathe.
He was rewarded by a ragged gasp from above. He pulled back, so slowly, drew Blackbeard’s cock all the way out again, gave him another taunting lick across the slit before taking him all the way down again, and Christ, the captain felt so good in his mouth, he could do this for hours, just like this…
Then Blackbeard shoved Izzy’s head back against the bulkhead and drove his cock down his throat.
And then it was fucking merciless. No artistry from Izzy now, no teasing, no control at all, just Blackbeard pounding into him over and over, choking him with every thrust, forcing tears from his eyes as he struggled to keep breathing. He was painfully, deliciously hard but he didn’t touch himself, not yet, that didn’t matter yet; all that mattered was breathing and keeping his teeth out of the way and giving his captain what he needed. He dug his fingers into the backs of Blackbeard’s thighs, hard, he wanted to leave marks, he wanted to make his captain feel his touch for days after this, make him remember how good it could be, just the two of them, together—
Blackbeard came with no warning, shooting messily across Izzy’s tongue mid-thrust, and Izzy swallowed it all, and yes, yes, fuck, Captain, yes …
The hand untangled itself from Izzy’s hair, and he could still feel the pull of it, deep in the roots. He looked up and saw Blackbeard leaning against the bulkhead with both hands, his face still shadowed.
“Go away,” he said.
Izzy pulled himself slowly off the floor, favoring his painful foot; he thought it might have begun to bleed again, and he didn’t care, because every stab of pain it gave him was a reminder that he finally, finally had his captain back. His captain, his Blackbeard, the brilliant, capricious, terrifying man he loved.
“Yes, Blackbeard,” he whispered again, and the words went straight to his cock; he walked to the door, half-limping, and closed it behind him, wiping the sweat and blood from his face.
Then he scampered off to his cabin to give himself the frigging of his fucking life.
If Izzy had heard and understood the catch in Blackbeard’s throat, and ignored his order, and finally looked him in the face, he would have seen that the black paint beneath his eyes was smeared and streaked from tears. If he had lingered disobediently by the door and listened, he would have heard Blackbeard’s breath grow ragged again, then heard it turn to quiet sobs; and he would have heard the name that Blackbeard whispered into the emptiness of his cabin.
But Blackbeard was his captain, and it would never have occurred to Izzy to do anything but obey.