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The Pirate and the Diplomat

Chapter Text

Black ink rolled smoothly across faded yellow parchment, the scratching of quill against paper, and the sound of wood creaking, the only thing to occupy the room in which Maxie sat. He could faintly hear the sounds of the crew outside but paid them no heed, too busy writing up an account of the items currently resting within the cargo hold. Cloth, spices, animal pelts, even a few jewels were contained in the ship, a trading of goods with Johto. Hoenn had items that they wanted, and vice-versa. After months of negotiations it was decided that they’d finally become trading partners, with this being their first ‘trade’. He hadn’t wished to go, but as a diplomat of Hoenn he was required to make sure this trade when as smoothly as possible. Any mishaps would be disastrous, as they’d end up losing a valuable partner.

With a heavy sigh, Maxie finished his accounting and placed the quill down before slender fingers reached for a cigar from a silver carry case, engraved with a golden ‘M’ on the lid. He lit a match and placed it against the end of his cigar, puffing out acrid smelling smoke. A few minutes passed before he pushed his chair back, placing the cigar in his mouth and getting up to leave.

Arms tucked behind his back and head held up high, Maxie carried himself with a certain grace that only came from being an authoritative figure. Even with a cigar in his mouth, the diplomat looked refined and sophisticated as he paced across the deck. His eyes wandered out towards the wide expanse of ocean, pushing down a small hint of fear that crept into his stomach. He hated these trips with a passion, preferring to hole himself up beneath deck instead of making his presence known with the crew working so diligently. The ocean was a deathtrap, and it only took an attack or a severely bad storm for them to all go plummeting into its depths. With a noise of disgust, Maxie took a few more puffs oft his cigar before taking it out of his mouth and throwing it overboard, hearing the faint splat of it landing in the waves.

“Sir! It’s a pleasure to see you,” a voice from behind said and he turned to see the captain of the ship, dressed in a fine coat given to him by the government for escorting Maxie on this journey (along with a vast sum of gold to persuade him). He was a large man by the name of Walter, with a greying beard and drooping eyes. His hair was beginning to fall out, and there was a rather unpleasant looking wart on his face. Personally, Maxie thought the coat he’d been given looked absolutely stupid on him, but kept his usual cold look as he nodded.

“I just needed some fresh air,” was his simple reply. He didn’t wish to be dragged into a conversation with Walter; he wasn’t in that sort of amiable mood (he rarely was unless it was for business), however Walter didn’t seem to understand that his short answer was made to get him away. How hard it is for even a captain to get my unvoiced cues?

“The wind has treated us wonderfully, sir. We should be reaching Olivine City within at least the next few days. My men are working as hard as they can to make sure that our cargo gets there all in one piece.”

He was close to sighing out loud and walking away, but knew that acting in such a rude way would end up with him getting punished. Maxie didn’t want to return with such when he got back to Hoenn. Instead he simply nodded, keeping his gaze out across the ocean. In the distance he saw another ship, too far away to properly identify it, paying it no mind. This was a popular route for ships, and Olivine City was the biggest port town in Johto. There were bound to be other ships sailing in the general direction. Of course it also made it a popular route for pirates. Luckily on all this voyages he’d never once been attacked.

As much as he didn’t wish to speak, he decided that it would be kind to at least say something. “Thank your men for me once we dock up. They’ve done a good job.”

He glanced over just in time to see Walter show a set of yellowed teeth in a form of a large grin. He looked away again, trying to forget that he ever saw that. Even the view of the endless blue ocean was much better than Walter’s teeth. Did these men even know basic hygiene? He doubted it, and the thought made him feel queasy.

“I’ll be going now, if you need anything just ask one of my men!” Walter said, breaking an otherwise awkward silence that had settled between them. Maxie nodded, sighing in relief when he heard the heavy boots walking away. If only the rest of the world was educated enough to figure out when someone doesn’t wish to talk them.

His already agitated state was only getting worse with the sound of the crew shouting to one another, or making crude jokes, so he decided to head down to the cargo hold to check they had everything. It was just a simple re-check of their stock, counting everything to make sure his itinerary before was correct. He’d been doing this everyday, making sure nothing was stolen, though Walter often tried to reassure him that his crew would never steal anything. He could never trust these people. Even if they were hired by the government themselves, and were the best group of sailors that they could find, a ship’s crew could mutiny at any moment, and if they decided that what they were getting paid wasn’t enough, they could simply kill him. He may have his sword on him, but that was not enough to hold back an entire crew if they had their mind set on getting rid of him for bounty.

“You’ve gotten this far already… I doubt there’s going to be an attack. There won’t be.” he muttered to himself as he reached the cargo hold, breathing in and out deeply before opening the hatch.

Inside, large boxes crowded the space, labeled with their contents and sealed shut, only possible to be opened with a crowbar. The many boxes he passed contained spices and cloth, things Maxie didn’t care if they were stolen or not. What mattered were the two chests stored at the very back, hidden behind the intricate maze the boxes all formed. Maxie was the only one who held the key to these chests, yet paranoia would always get the better of him, so much so he spent his days at sea worrying one of the crew would pick the hidden chests open.

Finally he reached the chests, unlocking one with the set of keys he’d been given. These two held the most precious of the cargo - jewels and gold. They weren’t brimming with them, in fact the first one was only full of five bags of gold and two of assorted gems, but it was something that Johto had demanded to be included if they were going to be trade partners. It was annoying that they insisted on this being included, but Hoenn was eager to get Johto as a trade partner.

He opened up one bag of gold and checked it briefly. When he had more time, he would come down again and count it all out properly, as there should have been one hundred pieces in each. For now though, just a simple check would have to suffice. He’d return when the crew were all asleep, by the light of a small flame. No distractions, no chance of someone attacking.

After making sure they were all safely back within the chests and locked shut for good, Maxie made his way back up to the deck. He ignored the odd stares he’d get by crew members who weren’t used to his presence on the boat (his bright red hair was often commented on because of its striking nature, something that Maxie simply learnt to ignore) as he made his way back to his cabin, wishing to do some light reading before food was made.

Just as he was about to get comfortable, there was a rapid knocking on his door. He sighed in exasperation and stood up again, heading over to the door to open it with a heavy frown. A crew member stood before him, and shuddered slightly at his look.

“S-sir, captain Walter wishes to speak with you urgently. There’s a ship nearby that’s giving us a distress signal,” the crew member explained, to which Maxie just nodded and walked past him.

When he reached the captain, he was looking through a spyglass with a slight frown. Maxie stopped beside him, looking out across the ocean to make out the distant shape of a ship with a flag flying.

“What’s the flag?” he asked Walter, unable to see it that clearly.

“A Hoenn flag, sir. One for Slateport,” Walter explained, as he continued to observe. “They’re trying to grab our attention.”

Maxie looked on, deep in thought. A ship from Slateport could plausibly be on these waters, it was a popular route for all sorts of ships. What could have happened to cause the ship to be in distress was another thing entirely, one that Maxie did not have enough knowledge on boats to figure out. He might have spent a lot of time on them, but he knew next to nothing about how they worked aside from the mere basics.

“You’re the captain, what do you say we do about it?” he asked Walter, hands tucked behind his back as he straightened up. If this was indeed what they thought it was, a distressed and allied ship, Maxie needed to show them who he was. It was always best to be prepared.

Walter looked thoughtful for a while before putting the spyglass down and passing it to a crew member. “Boys! We have a ship in distress! I want you to change course and head in for assistance!” he called out, and Maxie watched as the crew all got to work. He had to admit, it was rather admiring to see how they worked when receiving such an abrupt order, easily controlling the ship so it turned towards the ship in the distance.

As they neared, Maxie began to feel uneasy yet unable to explain why. Something seemed off, something Maxie couldn’t place his finger on, and it wasn’t until they were within boarding distance that he finally realised what was going on. He watched in horror as the former flag was taken down, replaced with the ship’s true colours - a white stylised ‘A’ against the typical black of a pirate ship’s flag. He reached over and grabbed the spyglass from Walter, opening it up to look through the spyglass to confirm his already forming suspicions. Pirates. Ones that were clearly giving them an option: surrender or die. Maxie felt his stomach churn with fear but forced it back, trying to think logically. Surrendering meant that they would live, however the treasure would end up ransacked and a few of the crew might be taken prisoner or worse, leave willingly. Death… well that was self explanatory. The pirates would target the crew and captain as they boarded, killing them with ease. Walter could even try and bribe the pirates, but that would mean they would given the most valuable treasure.

He wasn’t sure what was worse at that moment.

Unfortunately his thoughts were silenced abruptly as a few warning shots were fired, bullets skimming across the bow of the ship. Maxie knew that this was the pirates way of saying that if they didn’t surrender force would be used. Their guns were in range, and they would be willing to wreck and batter the ship if they had to.

Any normal captain would have surrendered. But, as Maxie glanced at Walter, he saw the man draw his own pistol. He felt utterly confused as to why Walter was willing to lose crew, however he had no time to protest as a bullet whizzed by his head, missing by sheer luck. The crew member behind him was not so lucky, with the bullet going right through his chest. Maxie’s eyes widened and his throat tightened as he watched the man fall to the decking, blood starting to leak from the wound. It didn’t take a fool to realise he was dead.

In an instant, chaos erupted all around him. More bullets from the pirate ship fired, and the crew scrambled to get away. Most were unfortunate, falling down as Walter rallied his own shots back. Maxie was frozen to the spot, too shocked to properly move and get away. He could see the pirates starting to target the sails and rigging, even the rudder, their only chance of escape. It was then Maxie found his voice, shouting above the sound of gunfire.

“Walter, have you gone mad?”

Walter didn’t even give a glance as he began to back up, taking aim at a few more of the invading crew. Maxie watched as bullet grazed his arm, making him wince and falter ever so slightly.

“Your cargo is valuable! I will not let them take it so easily!” he shouted, just barely audible over the racket.

Normally, Maxie would have felt a pang of pride at such a remark. Instead, in that moment all he felt was a severe anger. How could Walter be so stupid?! His crew was in danger, most of them lying in pools of their own blood, and all he cared about was that those damned chests full of treasure. He couldn’t help but wonder if Walter’s true intentions were less valiant than simply protecting trading goods that would secure them a valuable partner. He also thought about rushing to get his sword, to help him, to do something of value, but realised that a man that stupid didn’t deserve his help. He would get out of this hell hole, and he would get out alive. Once he began to hear the sounds of hooks catching in the wood, around the stern of the ship, he did what he had to.

Pushing past the shaking in his legs, Maxie rushed down to the cargo hold. There he would hide, and wait, and pray to whatever gods were watching that he’d end up safe, unknowing just how much his life was about to change.

Chapter Text

Shots came from above deck, mixed in the with sound of footsteps and the occasional gunshot. Each noise made Maxie slink further into his hiding spot, crammed behind the two chests he’d just been checking prior to the attack. It was uncomfortable, with barely enough room to move in, however it was better than letting those brutes capture him and do who knew what. He shuddered at the thoughts, forcing them out of his mind lest they ended up making him panic.

Time seemed to slow as he continued to hide away. Maxie wasn’t usually a religious person, in fact he didn’t believe there was a god out there. But, at that moment all he could do was pray that he wouldn’t be caught, that by some lucky miracle he would be able to get away.

He was a fool to think that he could get away from pirates.

Minutes passed by as Maxie waited, trying to stop himself from shivering to no avail. The cargo hold felt colder than it had done earlier, and even the long red and detailed coat he wore didn’t do much to help. Pulling it tight around his thin frame, all he could do was wait and continue praying helplessly. When there was no sign of any of the pirates, Maxie began to breathe a sigh of relief. It was soon cut short when he heard the door to the cargo hold slam open. With a flinch at the loud noise, Maxie made himself be as quiet as possible, slowing his breathing in case he was heard. All he could do was wait with baited breath as heavy footsteps went down the steps before stopping at the bottom.

They’re looking around… assessing the stock more than likely.

The footsteps continued until Maxie heard the telltale sign of a crate being forced open. Whoever was looking through had an instrument on them that could easily act as a weapon to bludgeon him. There was no escape in sight for the diplomat, but he wouldn’t surrender. It was likely that the pirates wouldn’t listen after Walter’s inability to give up and simply letting the pirates take what they needed. After that little stunt, he wondered what would happen to him. Ransom perhaps? His position was too great a reward to simply let him die.

His wondering was cut short as he heard the footsteps get closer. Fighting the urge to look and see just how far away this person was, Maxie stilled his entire body. He could hear the person’s breathing, and the occasional masculine mutter. His heart pounded in his chest and his palms were beginning to feel sweaty, knowing that now there was no way to escape now without getting caught.

“Oho what do we have ‘ere?” a deep and gruff voice asked, making Maxie’s breath hitch in his throat. This was it. He couldn’t get away. A part of him was surprised he managed to find him so easily, but the more logical side was cursing him for having not found a better place to hide. Of course they’d check the cargo hold! The items inside it were the reason they started this attack in the first place.

He went to speak when he heard the dull thud of the crowbar landing on the floor, and a hand on his hair tugged him upwards making him hiss out as sharp pain flared along his skull. The man before him was huge. And not just in height either. He was broad, with thick muscles almost the size of Maxie’s head. They rippled underneath dark skin, toughened by days out at sea and under the rays of the sun. He wore no shirt, just a pair of navy breeches tied up with a bit of old rope where his pistol sat, and a golden chain. On his stomach was a tattoo of the same symbol they used on their flag, the odd looking ‘A’ shape. He wondered how this man wasn’t caught before realising that when not on board a ship he must wear shirts.

“I suggest you unhand me right now!” Maxie growled as the man leered down at him, pulling his head back as his grip tightened on his hair. The pain made him wince whilst the pirate inspected him.

“Archie’ll be glad we’ve got somethin’ of value on this ship,” he stated, to which Maxie spat at him. He was not going to be treated as a mere object!

In response to his defiance, the man brought his knee up to his stomach, winding him greatly. The hand on his hair loosened enough for him to drop to his knees, clutching his stomach as he tried to get his breath back. The pirate didn’t bother waiting, grabbing both his arms and bending them back tightly, one hand holding onto his wrists to keep him there whilst the other pressed his pistol into his back. Maxie growled and twisted in his grip, but the pain was too much. He’d rather not die here.

“Walk on. And if you try and escape this will go through yer head,” the pirate ordered, and Maxie heard the click of the pistol’s hammer being cocked into place. All he could do was obey, knowing that this man could kill him easily even without a weapon.

It was a shame Maxie was too stubborn to back down.

“Is it really a good idea to simply kill me if I disobey? I mean, I am worth almost as much as the cargo in ransom.” he explained. His captor just twisted his hand against his wrists, causing even more pain which Maxie had to try and ignore. He wouldn’t show weakness to these brutes.

“I don’t make the decisions ‘ere. If Archie wants you dead, he’ll kill ya without a second thought. He doesn’t give two shits whether yer the fuckin’ richest man in Hoenn. He does what he wants and we simply obey his commands.”

Maxie growled, not liking the sound of what he assumed was the captain of the ship, as he was led back to the deck of the ship. When he finally appeared his stomach churned at the sight, having never seen so much blood and death around him. Dead crew were being chucked overboard, their bodies landing in the sea with a loud splash. Blood stained the wooden planks on which they walked, some puddles dried and others still fresh. He felt his legs falter, but was pushed roughly by the pirate behind him which made him stumble. Most of the crew ignored him, however one of the pirates looked over as soon as he emerged from below deck whilst the other knelt beside them (obviously looting a corpse from what Maxie could see) simply kept his back turned away. Tied up on the floor by their feet, arms and legs bound, was Walter. Maxie almost felt a pang of pity for the man, but it was because of his arrogance that they were in this mess.

“That the only one hidin’?” one of the two pirates, who Maxie was surprised to notice was actually female, asked the one that had captured him.

“Aye Shelly. Captain, what shall I do with him?” his captor responded to the man next to this Shelly person. The man who ran the entire ship.

“Tie him up to the mast. I’ll deal with him soon,” the captain ordered, and Maxie didn’t have time to protest as he was shoved against it. Shelly walked over to help, tying thick rope around his middle and legs to keep him immobilised. It was tight enough to chafe, sure that it would cut circulation to his arms and legs if he stayed bound for too long. Of course the pirates couldn’t care less, in their eyes you never treated an enemy with kindness, or so Maxie assumed. Maxie began to struggle, yet the rope was well tied and he could hardly move against it, making him growl in annoyance.

He used this time to take a look at the captain, who was currently throwing a few more orders at the crew. As he finally stood up, Maxie noticed that he was actually quite broad, though nothing like his captor, with the same darkened skin. A thick beard framed his jaw, and he hid his hair under a dark blue trilby hat. The coat he wore was a deep navy blue (Maxie thought it was black however as he stood up and into the sun he realised he was wrong) with golden trims, unbuttoned to show a loose and dirtied white shirt underneath. Around his waist sat a belt which held his sword and pistol, as well as a dagger which he pulled out as he crouched by Walter.

“I’m wonderin’, what should I do with ya?” he asked, a smirk on his lips as he cut the rope that kept him from speaking. Walter whimpered before going to surrender, making the captain bark with laughter.

“Did ya hear that?” he asked his crew as he stood up from his crouch. “He thinks he deserves to surrender now, after we gave him ample opportunity to give in and let us just take what we needed. So… what shall we do with him?”

A chorus of shouts rose from the crew, and the things Maxie heard the most were ‘Kill him’ or ‘Push him overboard’. He shuddered at how eager the crew sounded towards the prospect of Walter suffering for his fate, knowing that he could very well end up in the same situation.

When the crew settled down, their captain continued to smirk menacingly. “I could be kind and give you a quick an’ painless death but I don’t feel like doing that. Ohhh Matt!” he almost sang in delight as Matt, the man that had found him, walked forward and grinned. The grin made Maxie’s mouth go dry whilst Matt picked Walter up as if he weighed nothing.

Walter began to struggle as he was lifted, beginning for mercy with his cries falling on death ears. Matt lifted him above his head with ease, and Walter began to sob whilst he begged. Maxie thought he looked pathetic, tears streaking down his puffy face. It made him realise how weak these captains really were, especially when they were faced with the prospect of death. However a part of him wanted to rush in and help, not that he could actually do anything bound so tightly to the mast. Instead, he simply watched Matt throw him overboard. Walter screamed as he fell, a sound that made Maxie’s stomach churn, and his screaming continued as he fell into the depths below them.

Minutes passed back, the entire ship silent save for Maxie’s ragged breathing and Walter’s cries. They heard his pleas of mercy become garbled as water filled his lungs. Being bound meant that, with no way to staying afloat, it didn’t take long for the sea to claim another victim, dragging him down to more than likely become food for whatever creatures lurked the depths. A mixture of fear and anger coiled up in Maxie’s chest as he swallowed down a lump of bile, nails digging into the wood of the mast, ignoring the stabs of pain as splinters pierced his skin. He felt he had to do something even if it ended up terribly. Of course he couldn’t fight or move in his predicament but they hadn’t gagged him, which was unfortunate for them.

So he did what he knew best.

He shouted.

“You lot are brutes! You don’t care about anyone, and even if they surrender you kill them because you are thoughtless savages!” Whilst he disliked Walter’s crew and couldn’t trust them with the cargo they held, they were innocent, not deserving to lose their lives to pirates whose greed got in the way of actual sense.

The captain sharply turned to him, regarding him like a wolf would see its prey, and Maxie felt his blood go cold. He took a few steps and stopped right in front of him, gazing down at him with a grin that chilled Maxie to the bone. Up this close and personal, he could see a fine scar shaped like a cross between his eyes, and he couldn’t help but wonder how he’d gotten it. It definitely wasn’t recent, the skin long since healed, slightly darker than the rest of him. One of his fingers moved to press under his chin, to try and hold his head no doubt, so Maxie snapped at it, growling at him. He didn’t care if he looked uncivilised, nothing could be worse than the thoughtless acts of murder these pirates had just committed.

“My yer a feisty one, red. Never thought someone this pretty could have a bit of fight in him. This is gonna be fun,” the captain said, his lips curling up into a smirk that showed slightly pointed teeth.

Maxie continued to glare at him, struggling to keep calloused hands well away from him. “Leave me alone you disgusting animal!”

Laughter left the captain’s lips as he backed away, walking off to retrieve something that Maxie could not see no matter how much he craned his neck. He noticed the captain returning to him with a sword in his hands.

Maxie’s own sword, to be precise.

Of course the diplomat could recognise his blade made of the finest steel, imported directly from Kalos, anywhere. The hilt, that had been designed for his hand, looked stupid in the captain’s grip, and that only helped make his anger grow at the fact his own weapon had been stolen from him.

“You take your filthy hands off my blade right now.” he ordered, voice low and threatening, though it was pointless to try and order a pirate.

The captain simply raised an eyebrow quizzically, as if he couldn’t fully believe the man he’d captured was trying to order him about. Before Maxie could protest further, though, he’d stepped forward again and forced him mouth open, grabbing his tongue to pull it out with no thought about Maxie’s discomfort. Pale blue eyes widened when Maxie felt the cold press of steel against the underside of his tongue, whilst he struggled not to move, to try and get away from the feeling of a blade pressed against his tongue. The captain’s lips moved to his ear, hot breath hitting the lobe and making Maxie’s nails dig further into the wood of the mast.

“You had better watch yer tongue… or I’ll have it out.”

A threat. One that this captain was more than willing to go through with, especially if the crazed look in his eyes was anything to go by. The blade wasn’t pulled away either, so Maxie had to keep his body as still as possible to stop it from cutting his tongue.

“Now, I think introductions are due, don’t you?” he continued, an oddly amiable smile creeping to his lips. Maxie knew not to trust that smile. When he didn’t even try to move his head to agree or disagree, the captain just shrugged and went on.

“If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m captain of that ship you see over there,” and here he nodded with his head to the ship behind Maxie. Not that he could turn to look at it, or that he wanted to either. “The name’s Archie Brimsey, maybe you’ve heard of me. I have gathered quite the reputation.”

With this, he pulled the blade away, obviously expecting Maxie to respond. And since he couldn’t resist antagonising Archie, he did.

“A reputation for being a mindless, murdering savage?”

The slap he got in response stung, the force sending his head reeling to the side. He could feel the wood press into his right cheek and he smirked to himself. If the pain was anything to go by, that slap was bound to leave a mark.

“Didn’t I warn ya to watch yer tongue, red? I really don’t wish to mark such a pretty face.”

“I have a name…” Maxie growled, turning his head to stare at him, eyes burning with his rage. He’d make this pirate regret every action he’d ever taken since getting into such a disgraceful line of work. As well as that stupid nickname. Being called pretty only heightened his anger. Who did this man think he was, trying to flirt with him as if he were a tavern wench?

More laughter, loud and deep this time. “I have a name, he says!” Archie mocked, before his eyebrows furrowed to glare at him. “Listen, red, you haven’t told me yer fuckin’ name, and I don’t give two shits who you are anyway. If you expect us to know you, and to be scared because of that, you have another thing comin’.”

“The name’s Maxie. Maxie McDewitt. And no matter what you just told me, it would be a good idea to start getting scared since I can make your life miserable,” he threatened, wishing there was a way out of those blasted ropes tying him up.

“What’re you goin’ to do all tied up? Glare at me until I piss myself?” Archie asked, obviously trying to get Maxie to react with anger. Instead, Maxie just gave him a haughty look, not letting his mocking words get to him.

“Listen, I have the power to make sure you and your entire crew are all hanged for the crimes you have committed. I’m well known in Hoenn. If we land there and you start parading me outside, you will get caught.”

Maybe it was stupid to tell him that, but Maxie doubted that Archie would actually listen to his words. He was beginning to doubt that he listened to anyone like Maxie. He probably thought every word he was saying was a lie, and while he may have exaggerated the truth, he could in fact kill Archie with a few mere words to the right people.

“If that was trying to scare me, it’s done the complete opposite,” Archie commented, idly playing with Maxie’s blade. Another threat, this time not as obvious as when he’d pressed the blade to his tongue. One wrong word and that blade would be through him.

“Do you even know who I am?” Maxie asked. He would not simply back down and let Archie control him.

“Personally? No. Like I said, I don’t care. But I do know yer a diplomat, ya work for the government. That means yer one of those money grabbin’ bastards who take from the poor, and ya keep takin’ and takin’ until they have nothin’ left.”

So this was what it was about: helping those who were simply too lazy to work and contribute to society. Maxie tried not to laugh in delight; oh how he loved people who thought they could change the system that was already in place. The system was there and it worked, it needed no changing. All that was needed were stricter laws to those scoundrels who tried to cheat the system, and from what he’d discovered there were quite a few.

Archie stepped forward again, one hand curling into his shirt so tightly Maxie was afraid the fabric would rip. Luckily for him it didn’t.

“I want to see every one of you bastards pay for what you’ve done…” he growled. Archie’s look changed to one of realisation soon after and he rummaged around in his coat pocket before pulling out a silver case. Maxie’s cigar case.

Maxie felt a pang of anger at the fact these brutes had rummaged through his personal belongings as if they owned them. First his sword, now his cigars…

“Greedy fat cats and their silver…” Archie spat before opening it up to reveal the cigars. He pulled a face of disgust at the sight. “These won’t be worth anything, but the silver might be.”

He turned to look back at Maxie, watching his face closely before his lips pulled up at the corners. He grabbed a cigar, making it look like he was going to light it up, before throwing it over his shoulder into the ocean. Maxie grit his teeth, watching as golds worth of tobacco was thrown into the ocean.

“What the hell was that for?” he cried out, watching as each cigar fell into the ocean.

Archie walked over and jabbed him in the chest with his finger, making him hiss in annoyance more than pain. “Now look ere’ guppy. I feel like I gotta make a point here. Ya know what that shit stick does? It hurts ya. Rots ya from the inside. But you know what’s unforgivable? That all while yer hurtin’ yerself, yer hurtin’ all life around ya!” He turned to look back at the ocean, sighing in irritation. “And I don’t like hurtin’ the sea, especially as it’s the very thing I need most in my life, but I feel like it’s redundant if ya keep smokin’ like a volcano.”

Maxie chuckled, watching Archie’s face twist with annoyance. “It’s nice to know you care about my health.”

He wasn’t expecting fingers to dig into his cheeks, leaving crescent shaped marks where his nails pressed into flesh. “I’d like ya to rot from the inside. But I’d also prefer it if ya didn’t hurt life while ya did it.”

When he let go, he turned to Matt and Shelly, rubbing his scar as he did so. “Any ideas with what I should do with him?” he asked as he placed his sword down nearby, tantalisingly out of reach. He thought about rushing forward as soon as the ropes were loosened enough to grab it, to give himself at least some defence.

“He’s too valuable to just kill.” Shelly stated, arms crossed over her arms as he regarded Maxie with contempt.

“How about we lock him up until he either gives us information or we find someone who can give us the money he’s worth?” Matt suggested, and Maxie could see Archie thinking about it before nodding.

“Take him to the cell when we board, I’ll interrogate him later,” Archie ordered, before telling his crew to get everything of value and then board onto their own ship.

Maxie was untied but before he could dart and grab his sword like he’d planned, Matt had him pinned whilst Shelly wrapped the rope around his body, immobilising him once again. Instead of forcing him to walk, or hop as the case may be since his legs were bound in rope, Matt picked him up and carried him over his shoulder like a sack. He cried out and protested, wriggling around to no avail.

It didn’t take Matt long to carry him down onto one of the small rowing boats they’d used to board up, and when it was as full as possible, it was rowed back to their ship. They boarded swiftly, obviously used to this even with a prisoner, and Maxie was impressed at their efficiency, though he’d definitely not show it.

Once on board Archie’s ship, Matt carried him off below deck to a tiny room that could barely be called a cell. It was hardly big enough for more than one person, with no window to shed light into the room, only a lantern that was currently unlit. The door was solid metal, surprising for what he assumed was a merchant’s ship, with a small sliding partition obviously meant for food to be thrust into the room. Luckily for Maxie, he wasn’t thrown into the room, but instead sat on the floor. A blanket lay nearby, covered in dirt and holes and who knew what else, making Maxie pull a face of disgust. Matt didn’t seem to care as he got out a dagger and cut free the bindings on his legs, however didn’t bother with the ones on his arms.

“Excuse me? Are my arms to stay bound like this?” he asked Matt who simply grunted and walked to the door.

“Captain’s orders,” was all he said as he slammed the metal door shut. Maxie scrambled up from his seat, his legs wobbling and barely holding his weight. As he reached it, he heard the familiar clunk of the door being locked, and he cried out in annoyance.

His cries obviously went unnoticed, so all Maxie could do was slide down to the floor and wait for whatever would happen to him next.

Chapter Text

It seemed like an eternity had passed as Maxie waited in the cell, dull aches forming in his arms from the way they were bound. He could tell the boat was moving through the slight sway as it traveled over waves, his stomach beginning to churn. It didn’t help that he was also desiring a drink of some kind to wet his parched throat. He couldn’t exactly remember the last time he had had a drink, but it must have been well before the attack on the ship. Add to the fact his cheek throbbed from the earlier slap, he really wasn’t in the right mood to talk to anyone, let alone the captain who wanted answers in the first place.

Which was why when the cell door finally opened, his first thought, as he scrambled to his feet, was to rush forward and try to escape. Usually Maxie planned ahead, making sure every part of his idea went exactly as intended, however he was not in the mood this time.

He really didn’t know why he was expecting such a stupid action to work in the first place.

"And where do ya think yer goin’ Red?" Archie asked, putting a hand out and pushing him backwards before he could register what was going on.

Maxie growled as he lost balance, and with no way to cushion the fall, he landed down heavily on the wooden planks below. A spike of pain came from his temple, a trickle of blood running down his face when he managed, after a few unsuccessful attempts, to push himself up without the use of his hands. He cursed as he felt the blood, turning to glare at Archie who just had a smug grin on his face. Oh how he wished he could wipe that look off.

"So eager to see me that ya wish to rush into my arms?" Archie teased as he shut the cell door behind him, leaning against it with his arms across his chest. The slither of light coming in through the window sent shadows across his face, making Maxie use all of his willpower not to shudder at how intimidating he looked.

"Fuck you," he spat, his glare intensifying as much as possible.

Archie simply looked unperturbed, shaking his head. "Tut tut tut, Red. Did you kiss yer mother with that mouth?"

In response, Maxie just growled at the captain, itching to injure him in some way, to let this brute know he was not some puppet that he could play around with as he saw fit. If the captain thought that every diplomat was weak and unable to fend for themselves, then he’d prove him wrong. Maxie would make this captain’s life hell until he was freed.

"So feisty, aren’t ya? Oh, this is gonna be a fun time," Archie’s grin only got bigger as he watched Maxie glare at him. It would have been rather frightening if Maxie wasn’t tied up, now it just looked pathetic.

"No it won’t, I can promise you that," Maxie replied, his voice cracking from how thirsty he was.

Archie noticed that and shook his head before walking out of the room, locking the cell door behind him to hear Maxie’s muffled voice call out to come back. He simply ignored it, whilst Maxie sat and seethed with anger at Archie’s behaviour. He thought the captain wanted answers, but instead he was simply toying with him. Of course he would do that, play around until he finally got what he wanted. And then what after? Throw him overboard or leave him on a deserted island?

He wasn’t expecting Archie to come back to the cell a few seconds later with a bottle of what Maxie assumed was rum.
Maxie continued to glare at the captain as he closed the cell door again, angered that he’d really stoop so low as to tease him with the drink that he couldn’t have. What he wasn’t expecting was Archie to crouch down in front of him and offer him the bottle instead.

"You’re trying to make me drunk so I just say what you want to hear…" Maxie accused, glaring at him as he shuffled back. The captain was too close to him, and it was making him feel sick.

"No. I don’t want ya dyin’ of thirst before you tell me the important details," was Archie’s reply, face unreadable. It unnerved Maxie more than he’d like to admit.

"What a gentleman…" Maxie muttered sarcastically, frowning as that caused Archie to grin in delight. “You do realise that it takes much longer for a man to die of thirst right? And how will I drink this when my hands are tied?"

In response, Archie pressed the bottle to his lips and tipped it, most of it running down his chin in defiance before he finally gave in to open his mouth and drink. He swallowed as best he could, but ultimately ended up choking. At least Archie had the courtesy to pull the bottle away when that happened. When he was finished coughing, the bottle was pressed to his lips a little more gently, and this time Maxie was prepared to drink it down. He never did like the taste of rum, preferring much finer drinks like wine, but at this moment he didn’t care about the taste nor the slight burn in his throat. All he cared about was the fact that the drink was hydrating him enough so that he could talk properly.

When he’d depleted about two thirds of the bottle, Archie pulled it away from his lips. He couldn’t help but gasp in a breath of fresh air, licking at the rum that had spilt down his chin.

"Are ya always so eager to drink pirate's rum? I could have poisoned it for all ya know," Archie chuckled, obviously amused.

"You wouldn’t dare. I hold information you desire, you said so yourself," was Maxie’s response, having not tasted anything abnormal in the rum either.

"Of course, I shouldn’t underestimate yer knowledge."

Maxie just stared at him, unable to pinpoint whether the captain was being serious or not. He could very well be trying to get on his good side, but even then sweet words and compliments weren’t usually something pirates cared about giving, especially not to diplomats like himself. This man was confusing and angering Maxie at the same time.

"So… spit it out. What do you want? And what will capturing me succeed in doing?" Maxie asked, breaking the silence that had settled between them. Archie, who had gone back to leaning against the door during this time, brought the bottle of rum up to his lips, pulling a face as he drank it down.

“You always this bossy to a man who could shoot a hole through yer head?”

"If I said I was?" Maxie sneered, staring at Archie’s face to try and garner some sort of reaction.

"I’d say yer a fuckin’ idiot that’s what," Archie commented with a small shrug.

"Then I’m a ‘fucking idiot’, simply put," Maxie’s sneer only got bigger as he said this.

Archie shot him a look that could have been a glare, Maxie wasn’t too sure on this in the light, before stepping forward enough so that he was right in front of him. The diplomat opened his mouth, ready to say something, when Archie crouched down and grabbed his jaw with a grip strong enough to bruise, forcing his mouth shut.

"Listen here Red, I was ready to be patient but that patience is startin’ to run thin with yer sass. Yer not in a situation where ya can just get some government asshole to kiss yer sorry ass before they come rescue it. No one here likes ya, and no one is ready to save you either. Now, when I ask ya to answer I want exactly that, an answer. Ya hear?"

Archie slowly loosened his grip on Maxie’s jaw, which he opened and closed a few times, not caring how ridiculous he looked. He felt the hatred for every pirate in Hoenn bubbling inside him, clenching his bound hands to force himself not to say something stupid.

"Fine then, what is it you want?" he asked, and the stroke that Archie gave to his cheek was gentle, loving even. It made that hatred turn into something much more sour.

"I knew ya could comply, just had to knock some damn sense into ya," Archie replied before standing up, towering over Maxie once again. "Now, tell me where you were headed with all that fine cargo. I know for a fact that the captain wasn’t a sailor known to ship high end crap like that."

"You’re a pirate, why didn’t you check the records when you raided the boat?" Maxie asked, wondering why he wanted to know such an easy thing to find out.

"Ah there’s that knowledge, was wonderin’ when you’d use it again," Archie smirked, and Maxie’s lips twitched in annoyance. “We did exactly that, but your dear captain could have had a lick of sense to create fake ones in the event of being raided by pirates.”

"Walter isn’t the man to—"

Archie cut him off with a raise of his hand. "Not that you think so, but ya hardly even knew the man and you don’t trust any sailors, if that look on yer face says anything."

"Are you trying to imply I'm wrong?!"

The pirate captain growled in annoyance, obviously holding himself back from hurting Maxie again. Maxie felt an odd sense of glee that he could make the man act in such a way with a few well chosen words. It leaked, and he began to chuckle.

"Shut yer fuckin' mouth for one second!" Archie finally snapped, baring his teeth in anger.

Maxie stared at him and silenced his small victory, but the look in his eyes said it all. Archie clenched his fists, before managing to relax himself.

"Now, answer me truthfully, where were ya takin' that cargo?"

Maxie decided that, for now, complying would extend the time it took for Archie or another crew member to stick a bullet through his head. He exhaled heavily before answering. "Trading goods with Johto. We decided that this would mark the two regions being trading partners, until you decided to target the boat and raid most of the stuff before killing their captain."

"Hey I'm a pirate, it's what we're prone to do," Archie shrugged, back to being relaxed. It seemed he could anger yet calm quickly, which Maxie made a mental note about. "Now about that chest Matt found you hidin' behind…"

Maxie sighed heavily, shoulders dropping in defeat. "Held the most expensive of the items being traded, yes. And now it's in your possession."

The grin that Archie gave him made Maxie grimace, looking away to stop himself from doing something he'd ultimately regret.

"Ain't ya just the kindest!" Archie replied before taking a long gulp of rum from the bottle, and Maxie couldn't help but watch the way his throat bobbed up and down with the action. He felt his cheeks burn with a sudden shame, reprimanding himself for eyeing up his captor like some lovestruck fool. Yes, he was conventionally attractive, but he was everything Maxie hated. He wouldn't let his guard down around his man, not even once.

Luckily for Maxie, the captain didn't seem to notice as he finished the bottle and sighed in content. "Nice talkin' to ya, Red," he smirked before opening the door, closing it with a loud bang that made Maxie shut before the turning of the lock was brought to his attention.

He struggled to get to his feet, hands still bound behind his back, kicking at the door with enough strength to send a sharp, stabbing pain up his leg.

"Quiet in there!" a crew member he hadn't realised had been standing outside barked and he grit his teeth in anger.

"No! Get me the captain right now!" he shouted, kicking again despite the pain.

"I ain't taking orders from you!" the crew member snapped, making Maxie growl as his anger flared once again.

"I will continue kicking this door until you get your captain!"

The crew member just laughed and Maxie had to bite his lip hard to stop himself from cussing at the man. "You do exactly that, all it'll do is make your foot hurt."

Maxie cried out in annoyance before, reluctantly anyway, sliding down to sit by the door, grumbling to himself as he cursed Archie and his entire crew.

***

Time felt as if it had slowed to a crawl as Maxie waited for something to happen, like Archie finally deciding to set him free, though a large part of him realised he may be being a little too optimistic with that. All this time he thought about ways to get himself free from Archie's crew, realising that their ultimate goal was, of course, some sort of treasure.

As he stared at the wall in front of him, his mind drifted to the meeting he was supposed to be going to a few days after reaching Olivine City. He remembered that this meeting was compromised of two parts: officiating the trade with Johto, and then a more personal deal with an official who lived on the outskirts of the city. They hadn't specified in their letter to him a few days before he set off what the deal was about, only that the offer at stake was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Maxie realised it was the offer that would save his life.

In an instant he was scrambling up onto his feet, kicking at the door to get the attention of the crew member on guard. "If you're still out there I need to speak to your captain!" he cried out hastily, hoping the crew member wouldn't ignore him.

Surprisingly, it was Archie who spoke up. "I'm here, what do ya need? If ya pissed yer pants or somethin' I ain't helping ya there."

"I'd prefer to speak to you face to face not through a door," Maxie grumbled. "I didn't do that either, you disgusting swine!"

Maxie heard his irritated sigh before the door unlocked, stepping back to allow it to swing open without getting hit by it. Archie stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest as a frown settled on his brow.

"Now what the fuck do ya want, Red? If it's just to piss me off, I'm not in the best of moods," he asked, his frown only getting worse. Maxie wondered what had happened to get him this annoyed, but didn't question it.

"I've got information you will need," he began, watching the interest settle on Archie's face, the frown lessening.

"Well?" Archie made a gesture with his hand for him to get on with it.

"I won't tell you until we settle on a bargain."

Archie sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "My patience is already runnin' thin, so if this isn't good-"

Maxie cut him off quickly. "I want you to take me back to Olivine City, in one piece preferably."

A thick eyebrow was raised questioningly. "Ya know that's not a bargain. What's on yer end of the deal? If it's just to make accusations whilst lookin' pretty, sorry but I'm not shakin' on that."

Maxie felt his cheeks redden with shame, glad for the dim lighting in the cell.

"I know of treasure that can get you millions," he told him slowly, watching the interest spark back. When he didn't interrupt, Maxie went on. "There was an added deal to the trade agreement with Johto, one for me personally. I was told to meet up with an official in their house in the outskirts of Olivine City. I don't know what this deal is about, but I'm pretty certain treasure is involved if the letter gave any indication to it."

"Do ya have the letter?" Archie asked, the interest mixed with apprehension. Of course he would act like that, unsure whether Maxie was telling him the truth.

"I don't know, since you ransacked through all my personal belongings," Maxie snarled. Typically the pirate would ask a stupid question like that.

"But we didn't get rid of 'em all. They're in my quarters, I was lookin' through 'em for things that could be of interest."

Maxie felt even more anger at this confession but didn't voice it, instead letting his anger known on his face. Archie just scoffed before shaking his head, not bothering to comment further.

"Fine then somewhere in that lot, if you haven't already thrown it away like the barbarians you are, is a letter addressed to me. When you find it, read it and then we can talk about this bargain, how about that?"

Archie's lips pulled up in a smirk as he nodded and left the cell, leaving Maxie alone again to wait and hope that the letter would convince Archie to go along with their plan.

Luck seemed to be on his side that day for soon Archie came back, the letter in his hand. Maxie watched him as he read it aloud, the interest returning to his face, fighting off a lot of the apprehension that had gathered there.

"Whatever's bein' sold to ya seems mighty important, which makes it valuable," Archie grinned in delight as he looked at Maxie.

Maxie kept his face unreadable when he looked back at Archie, hoping that he'd accept his offer now that he had proof it was a real thing.

He got his answer with an extended hand.

"Ya got yerself a deal, Red. I'll protect ya, if yer reasonable of course, and let ya work on the boat until we get this treasure," Archie decided after a few minutes of thoughtful silence. Maxie, who hadn't realised he'd been holding his breath, let it all out in a sigh of relief.

Archie opened the cell door and leant out, speaking to the crew member outside about gathering the others onto the deck for a small 'meeting' as he called it. He then turned to Maxie before taking out a dagger, indicating for him to turn around with his finger. Maxie reluctantly did as asked, fighting off the irrational fear clawing at his stomach, surprised when the rope on his wrists got cut away. He moved his arms, wincing at the ache in them, rubbing both his wrists to get the blood flowing back. Archie stood nearby, watching over him with distrust as he finally got his arms feeling normal again.

"Just one thing Red…" Archie began suddenly stepping forward, too close for Maxie's comfort. Maxie frowned, backing up to get away from the man before his back hit against the wall. As Archie leaned in, the hairs of his beard and ghost of his lips against his ear made Maxie shudder, feeling much warmer than the boat actually was. "If ya step out of line, the deal's off and yer dead. Got it?"

Maxie felt unable to speak, only nodding in a dumb way that annoyed himself, gritting his teeth when Archie gave a predatory smirk.

“I cut yer hands free, now shake like the proper gentleman I know ya are.”

He extended his hand and shook firmly in agreement before the captain was walking off up to the deck. All he could do now was follow, his legs feeling like jelly.

The top deck was crowded with Archie's crew mates as they stood or sat around, awaiting their captain. When he appeared from the lower parts of the ship, they all turned and a chilling silence settled along the ship. Maxie noticed the stares he was getting full of mistrust, contempt, even pure hatred. Instead of letting them feel like their looks were affecting him, Maxie simply stood up straighter, head held high and arms tucked behind his back. He heard a crew member snicker, trying to humiliate him, but he simply ignored it. Once Archie told them about their deal, these crew members couldn't do a thing to him.

"Why the fuck is he out of his cell, Archie?" a female voice cried out, and Maxie looked over to see the female pirate from before, Shelly, if he remembered correctly. He finally got the chance to inspect her properly, noticing she wore her shirt in a similar way to Archie, with the top few buttons undone to expose her cleavage. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail, kept out of her way with a blue bandanna.

Maxie gave her a blank stare, forcefully hiding how annoyed he was at her. "A mere wench like you has no say in what your captain decides. Especially one that merely warms his bed at night."

He hardly had time to dodge a dagger as it flung past him, embedding itself into the wooden mast behind him with a twang. He stared at it, eyes widened with shock, before Shelly pushed away the people in front of her as she walked towards Maxie, playing with another dagger in her hands. Maxie's eyes flickered to Archie next to him, outraged that the man was simply smirking and doing nothing to stop Shelly. A painfully hard jab in the chest made him turn back towards Shelly.

"Listen, I don't know what sort of plan you two have come up with, but if you think that means you can talk like that to me then you have another thing coming. Oi, Amber!" she called out, and Maxie noticed a bald man walk to the front of the crowd of pirates, sneering at Maxie. He held up his right hand, three fingers missing. "You see? I did that. He was new here, made one comment about me sucking Archie's cock. Before he knew it, his hand was soaked in blood and he was crying out like a piglet in pain."

Maxie stared at Amber and then at Shelly, trying to keep his composure despite suddenly fearing that, if Archie didn't kill him first then one of the crew members would be glad to.

"So if I hear one more piece of shit comment out of your disgusting mouth, I will not be afraid to cut off your fingers."

"I'd say cut off more," Archie finally commented, and Maxie glared at him. He almost missed the threatening grin spreading across Shelly's face.

"Why, dear Captain, you give me such fantastic ideas."

With that said and done, she walked back to her spot from before, glaring at Maxie from afar. Maxie just returned to his previous posture, trying his hardest to ignore the glares, and the urge to kick Archie overboard.

"Now bet yer all thinkin' the same things," Archie began, his voice booming across the ship's deck. "One, why the fuck is lil' Red out of his cage? Two, why are we all here?"

"Certainly felt like a damn cage…" Maxie muttered quietly, the corners of his lips twitching up into a smirk as Archie frowned at him.

"I was speakin' to Red, and he said he can make us rich," Archie continued.

"We can sell him off! Then he'll make us rich!" a crew member shouted and everyone around him laughed. Even Archie chuckled at the idea, something which made Maxie clench his hands from behind his back.

"He'd certainly get a few grand on looks alone!" Archie added, making the crew laugh more before he silence them with a raise of his hand. "Unfortunately, sellin' him is out of the picture for now."

"For now? You agreed to the deal!" Maxie snapped, unable to contain his anger.

"Like I said, the deal's off as soon as ya step out of line. My patience is thin with you," Archie snarled, eyes darkening with the threat. Maxie turned to look away, feigning annoyance.

"What deal's this?" Matt asked, leaning against the railing with a concentrated look on his face.

"He's promised us treasure, probably more expensive than sellin' him can be. In return I have to get him to Olivine City in safety. There he'll find a way to get us in on this business deal he has with an official." He waves Maxie's letter out to the crowd to prove the officiality.

Murmurs rose from the crowd, some interested, others concerned. It seemed as if this sort of deal hadn't been done before, if the discomfort on the faces of a few crew members indicated anything. Maxie wondered if he could use that to his advantage.

"You do realise Olivine City is quite a way out of the waters we usually patrol in, right?" Amber asked.

"I know, I'm not stupid." The captain glares. “Once we reach Johto's waters, we'll be in unknown territory. Everyone will need to stay alert and on guard at all costs."

"And what about getting there? We don't have a charted map of the area of Johto, only Hoenn," another crew member added.

"Ah, and here's where our dear Red will be of help." he announces, giving his captive a firm slap on the back. “In the next few days we're goin' to make a stop at Sea Mauville, there we can find out a bit more about Johto as a region and Red can start charting our course there."

"I've never done that sort of work before in my entire life!" Maxie shouted, both shocked and appalled that he was being forced into this.

"That's where Amber comes in. He can teach ya the basics. I'm assumin' you've been to Johto after all."

"And if I haven't?"

Archie scoffed before shaking his head. "Yer a diplomat for Hoenn, 'course you've been to Johto. Don't play dumb with me."

He could only sigh before nodding in agreement, frowning as Archie clapped his hands in delight. "See? Only have to cooperate and you'll be just fine!" He then turned back to his crew. "He'll be workin' on this ship tomorrow. I don't care what happens, but if ya harm him in anyway I'll chop more than yer fingers off."

The crew grumbled their affirmation, obviously disheartened by the fact they couldn't hurt Maxie. The diplomat didn't know whether to felt relived or concerned about that.

"One more question, Captain?" a crew member queried. Archie gave them a look, telling them to go on. "Where's he goin' to be stayin'? We might need the cell for other people, yet the barracks below are full up."

Archie's lips pulled up into a delighted smirk. "Don't worry, I've got some surprises planned for our dear Red."

Chapter Text

After the conversation with the crew about Maxie's new position on the boat, and the temporary truce that they'd decided to settle on, Archie had ordered Maxie to follow him. He hadn't said a word about where he was going with Maxie, or what he was planning to do for that matter, giving Maxie time to think about the possible actions Archie would end up taking.

None of them were pretty.

The last thing Archie had said to his crew before they walked off by themselves was that he had surprises planned for their captive, and if the rapacious look in his eyes when he said that gave anything away, they were nothing pleasant. He doubted that Archie would give him a bottle of wine and more extravagant finery to replace the current clothing he was wearing. A small, almost nagging voice in the back of his head started to warn Maxie that the captain's intentions were far worse than what he expected, that Archie's switch to flirting was meant for more than simply annoying the feisty diplomat. Despite this, he couldn't help but play around with the idea that Archie's true intentions were, at a closer look, more sexual in nature. He proceeded to think about the mindless brute of a captain wanting him in such a way that he resorted to keeping him prisoner on a ship.

It was in this moment, he vividly recalled when he was a teenager starting to learn more about his own sexuality, reading a book about a young man being captured by a pirate and, consequently, the suggestive escapades they ended up having. In his almost flustered state at having remembered that book of all things, he hadn't realised Archie had stopped until he was walking straight into his back. He spluttered before backing away, anger covering his face.

"Watch where yer goin', Red," Archie warned, throwing him a smirk over his shoulder.

"You should warn your guests when you plan to just stop in the middle of the path!" Maxie snapped, not focusing on what was in front of his captor.

"You should realise that we've reached a door instead of fantasisin'," Archie joked, yet the accuracy forced Maxie to hide his shock. Archie wasn't a mind reader, was he? "Besides, since when were you my guest?"

Maxie couldn't answer without stuttering like some fool, so instead opted for a growl. He began ignoring Archie's chuckle as the captain rummaged in his coat pocket before producing a key. He noticed that it was made of brass and was quite well looked after, polished to a clear shine. There was something oddly comforting about the fact Archie took good care of a mere inanimate object.

The door swung open with a heavy groan when Archie turned the handle, and it didn't take a fool to realise that he was about to step into the captain's quarters. His thoughts snapped back to the book, and he sneered at his mind. His feet began to unconsciously follow Archie into the room. From the lack of snide response, he assumed that Archie was expecting him to follow.

When he stepped inside, he didn't know what to focus on first. On the right hand wall there was a large bed, the rather elegant looking sheets in a disarray. A small pistol sat on the table next to it, as well as a small lamp. Opposite was a large chest, securely locked with a large yet rusted padlock, making Maxie wonder how it still worked. There were multiple shelves and various chests scattered around, with some items either burnt or destroyed beyond recognition. On the wall above these various items, a portrait of some official Maxie didn't recognise hung precariously, marks in it indicating that someone had flung sharp objects into the painting. Hanging up on a coat hanger nearby was an old jacket, one he noted as a governmental jacket, yet he wasn't sure who it would have belonged to for the fabric was torn so badly there was no sign of regalia. He didn't want to think of that as his jacket, so instead turned his attention to the rounded table in the centre of the room, covered in various maps, another lamp, a few bags of gold, and a collection of daggers (these Maxie realised where obviously used to target the portrait). The windows in front of him gave a view of the bow of the boat, and the intricately carved figurehead.

Archie had walked over to the table, placing his hands down on the biggest of the maps he had, stooping over the wood. The map was aged, the corners curled up and ripped in a few places, with various ink markings scattered over the browned parchment. When Maxie walked closer, he observed that the map was of Hoenn, detailed perfectly. Whoever had made this, they had obviously been genuinely skilled in the art.

"Where are we on this map?" he asked Archie, forgetting why they'd even come to his quarters in the first place to marvel at the map before him.

Without even having to think, Archie pointed to an area of ocean a few miles out from Mossdeep City, the area from where Maxie and Walter had disembarked. He reached out to the map, placing his own finger down besides Archie's. The captain watched him as he ran his finger up along the ocean to the top of the map, where he believed Johto to be.

An undignified yelp left his mouth as Archie grabbed his hand and moved it further up, off the map and onto the table.

"That's where Johto is. Well relatively anyway," Archie told him, still with a rather tight grip on his wrist.

Maxie made a sound of annoyance and struggled to get his wrist free from Archie's grip. "Unhand me, brute!"

Archie sighed, surprisingly complying and taking his hand off of Maxie's wrist. Maxie moved the hand that Archie had just touched close to his chest, rubbing at his wrist with an irritated expression. Archie just chose to ignore it, straightening up to his full height once again.

"Why are we even here?' Maxie asked, noticing the look his captor gave him. 'If you plan to bed me like the savage you are I will have to decline," He felt a spark of embarrassment at himself, wondering why he even said something so absurd.

"Don't get yer hopes up Red," Archie replied, smirking in that obnoxious way of his, to which Maxie scoffed. "I'm here because this is where you'll be sleepin'."

Maxie frowned before Archie gestured to a curtain partition he hadn't noticed before. He gave him a look, to which Archie nodded, before walking over and pushing the curtain back. It was a rather small room, almost closet sized, with a hammock being the only furnishing.

"Why, of all places, am I to sleep here? Right near you?"

Maxie almost jumped at Archie's voice behind him, much closer than expected. He had to suppress a shudder going down his spine from the tone.

"I don't trust ya with any of my crew, and like ya heard the cell could be useful in the future. We at least care enough that two of ya in that small area is too much."

"Oh how thoughtful…" he mumbled, making Archie chuckle. He had to suppress another shudder, and rolled his eyes at the 'generous' hospitality.

He heard Archie walk away but didn't follow, looking at the bare room and thinking of ways to make it feel less barren and more like his proper quarters. After a few minutes of pondering, he decided to think about it later and left the small closet. Archie sat on the table, cleaning out his flintlock pistol. When he noticed Maxie, he looked up with a questioning look.
"Ya done being in yer own little dream world?"

Maxie rolled his eyes, leaning against the doorway. "I was thinking. I doubt you even know what that is."

"Aw, you hurt me Red," Archie mocked as he finished cleaning up the pistol. It was during this moment that Maxie noticed a suit case on the desk next to him, and perched on top of that was a familiar blade.

"Why is my sword there?" he said, growing defensive. He didn't trust the man with his own blade within an easy reach.

"Hm?" Archie looked up before noticing the case and blade. "Ah yes, I was thinkin' 'bout being a nice person and givin' you back yer blade. For self defense ya know?"

Maxie watched with a wary expression as the captain picked up and blade and inspected it, pressing his finger against the tip gently, yet still managing to draw a bead of blood. He scoffed before licking it off, turning the sword in his grip.

"Where'd you get such a fancy blade anyway?" Archie questioned.

Maxie paused for a moment, wondering if it would be a good idea to explain the blade's origin before a small smile tugged at his lips.

"My father gave it to me as a present for my twentieth birthday. It was commissioned by the Fleur-de-lis family, though I've doubt you've heard of them," he began.

Archie gave him a look. "I've heard of 'em. Their son's an ambassador for Hoenn, and next in line to be heir or somethin' along those lines."

"How did you know?" Maxie replied, a bit shocked at this.

"You really think I travel 'round Hoenn and don't hear 'bout these things?" Archie rolled his eyes before continuing. "How'd you get a sword commissioned from that family anyway?"

"Being a nobleman, we have our relations with other families. Their son hosted a party and took a shining to me, or so my father told me. Our families are close friends, and it was Lysandre that commissioned the blade."

Archie frowned, muttered something inaudible that Maxie hoped was the seed of doubt being planted in him, before putting the blade down. His gaze flittered between the blade on the table and the captain sitting next to it, wondering if there was a chance he could grab it. Even if Archie had made a deal to keep him safe, he didn't feel that way at all. Any means of protection would ease his worry more than being merely defenceless.

However, he didn't want to rush in and realise there was no chance to get his blade, and his patience was starting to dwindle drastically.

"So, are you planning on giving me back my sword?" he asked, a demanding edge to his voice.

"Patience is a virtue my dear Red," Archie replied with a smirk.

"Just give me my sword!"

Archie stared at him before bursting into laughter, shaking his head. "Temper, temper!"
He realised that he'd have to rush in if he was to have any chance of getting the blade back and so growled before lunging, his hand brushing against the pommel just as Archie grabbed a hold of his collar and pulled him back, cutting off his airwaves for a few seconds. He heard the distinct click of the flintlock being cocked into place, the barrel of the gun just by his forehead as he stared up at Archie before him.

"Listen, Red, you know the deal. Any funny business and it's off, whether or not yer promised treasure makes me the richest man on this planet. So, I suggest you learn some fuckin' patience else yer gonna get a hole through yer head."

"The gun's not loaded," Maxie stated, standing up tall and staring the man down. Archie smirked, moving the gun away and pulling the trigger, to which nothing happened.

"Yer observant, but ya not bright at all," Archie commented, before putting his gun away and taking Maxie's sword. "I'll keep this until I deem it right to give it back, sounds fair doesn't it?"

Maxie clenched his fists and refused to answer before noticing his pack. "Can at least have my case back?"

Archie turned to look at it before nodding. "Tonight, I'll give it to ya when I've checked that there's no tools you could use to murder me. Now follow me, yer goin' to work like any other crew mate on this ship."

Maxie was ready to object yet realised that it would be useless and so just gave in, following Archie up to the top deck. A few crew members were mopping at the deck, yet turned when they heard Archie shout for Shelly.

Shelly looked up from where she was perched, chatting to a few of the other ship mates idly. If it bothered Archie that they were slacking, he didn't seem to show it. She grinned before jumping up and sauntering over, eyeing Maxie in a way that made him glare. Of course Archie would put him with the woman that threatened to cut off his fingers…

"I'm guessing you want me to break him in," Shelly said, her eyes gleaming with mirth at the idea as she smirked at Maxie.

"I wanted him down in the kitchen but I realised that if he was given a knife he'd stab someone with it," Archie explained, ignoring the look Maxie gave him.

Shelly giggled before winking. "Don't worry captain, I'll show him around. If he steps out of line though…" here she took out a dagger from the belt around her waist.

"Just make sure you don't get carried away," Archie warned before walking off, leaving Maxie alone with a woman who he was starting to fear more than the captain himself. He didn't let that fear show though, staring her down.

Shelly sighed, running a hand through her hair as she put the dagger away again. "I don't know what the captain sees in you but it's obviously enough to keep you alive," she muttered before walking off towards the cabins, causing Maxie to follow.

"Well, I can make your entire crew rich. Enough for each of you to make a life for yourselves away from the sea," he commented as they made their way through the inner workings of the ship. He could see her shaking her head at that comment. "What's the disagreement for? It's true isn't it?"

"Archie wouldn't just pack up being a pirate because he got rich."

Maxie frowned in confusion at Shelly's remark. "But that's what pirates do, they attack other ships and steal their items for their own personal gain since they can't be normal citizens and get a job," he told her, letting his own thoughts show.

Shelly spun around so quickly he almost stumbled in shock. Her hands were curled up into tight fists, and by the looks of it she was gritting her teeth.

"You don't know a fucking thing about why Archie does what he does, but things will make sense if you do find out."

With that odd response out of the way, she turned around and stormed off. Maxie stood there dumbfounded for a few seconds before following her, head held high and a cold expression replacing his confused one. When he found Shelly again, she had various cleaning items on her, including a mop and a bucket of water. It didn't take a genius to realise what his job was to be.

"Seriously? Of all things to do on the ship I have to clean?" he questioned.

"What? You expected us to give you an important job like manning the ship itself?" Shelly replied before bursting into laughter. "You diplomats are fucking idiots!"

Sighing in frustration, Maxie swiped the mop and bucket Shelly had in her hands, standing before her with a glare.

"Guess you can be taught to behave after all," she commented before showing Maxie what to do.

***
Maxie spent the rest of his day cleaning the lower deck, under the watchful eye of Shelly, who would occasionally help out with certain parts she didn't trust Maxie with. When Shelly finally called it a day and took him back to the deck, he was surprised to find that the sun was starting to fall. He took a look around the deck, watching the crew as they started to get ready to stop for the night to come. He was about to walk off to continue following Shelly when a crew member walked over. He was a broad man, though not as broad as Matt, and looked at Maxie with contempt.

"You've got an invitation," he told Maxie, voice deep and gruff.

"From?" Maxie asked, crossing his arms over his chest and lifting his head up high.

"Who'd you think?" When Maxie didn't answer the man grunted in annoyance. "Captain Archie wants you in the galley for dinner."

Maxie opened his mouth to answer but the man just turned and walked off, leaving Maxie standing there, wondering why he was going to be invited to the galley.

Chapter Text

After being allowed to get ready, under the watchful eye of one of the crew members in case Maxie decided to do anything funny, he was finally prepared to go to the galley. Dread was starting to settle in his stomach as he was told where the galley was ("You can't miss it, it's where all the laughter and shouting is"), yet he tried his hardest to quell it and focus on getting there. It was a straightforward enough trip, the galley not too far from Archie's quarters. When he neared the galley, Maxie could begin to hear the raucous laughter and shouts that the crew member before had told him about. Something about the entire situation confused him immensely, he was the ship’s prisoner and had only recently been let out of the cramped space they referred to as a ‘cell’, yet their captain had simply invited him to meet with him in the evening. He wondered if Archie was trying to make him lower his guard, but he wouldn't allow the pirate to sway him that easily. As a diplomat, Maxie knew to keep his guard up at all times, no matter what.

With a heavy sigh, he pushed open the door and was greeted with a scene of complete chaos. A long table covered in pieces of gold, half molten candles, empty plates, and half eaten food was where the majority of the crew sat. Even then a few of them weren’t sitting at all. They all had tankards of some sort of alcoholic beverage, the scent of which hung heavy in the air, so much so Maxie thought he’d pass out. Sitting at the head of the table, legs tossed over one of the arm rests, sat Archie. An empty chair occupied his left hand whilst Shelly sat at his right, back turned to the door as she sharpened a dagger. Matt was not too far from either of them, chatting to the bald man from before (Amber was it?). The captain himself was idly picking at his teeth with his dagger, an action that disgusted Maxie, when he noticed the diplomat in the door way.

“Ah, Red!” he called over the chatter of his crew, whilst Maxie bristled with anger. He hated that nickname, but he knew that Archie wouldn’t stop using it. Archie slammed his dagger into the table, making a new mark to join the hundreds already littered around him. “Glad ye decided ta join us!”

He ignored the sneers and snickers from a few crew mates, stepping over the sleeping body of one of them as he made his way over to the seat offered to him. Right next to the captain himself, wasn’t he lucky…

Keep your back straight and head up, Maxie. You’re a diplomat, do not let these brutes show your weaknesses.

Tucking his arms behind his back, he stopped beside his chair, leering down at the captain.

"You know, when I'm invited to a meal it's usually done by candlelight with the finest of wines available, not in a galley so messy even pigs wouldn't want to live here and with a bunch of drunken idiots." He couldn't help but smirk at the look Archie gave him after making that comment.

"Can't appease everyone, Red. Now sit yer ass down," Archie ordered, swinging his legs over the arm of the chair so he was sitting properly, elbows propped up on the table.

"I do suppose that it's too classy for a ship rat like yourself," Maxie responded, noticing that darkened look in Archie's eyes. Good, his words were getting to the pirate.

When he'd finally seated himself, keeping himself well away from the table, he turned to look at Archie. He was fiddling with the dagger, almost ignoring Maxie completely. He decided to try and test his luck with Archie's own patience.

"So, spit it out you brute. What is this all about?"

Archie's eyes wandered up to look at Maxie, and the look would have intimidated Maxie if he wasn't prepared for that. He didn't flinch, instead staring at the man with contempt. It was as he was staring at the pirate that he noticed Archie's eyes were a deep auburn, information he wasn't exactly sure how to process. A feeling he couldn't quite explain began to fester inside him, yet he didn't wish to show Archie this slightly weakened state and simply stared back with contempt.

"Can't I give my prisoner a meal once in a while?" Archie asked, breaking the silence that had settled uncomfortably between them. It gave Maxie a chance to avert his gaze, the same look of scorn on his face.

"Usually a prisoner's meal is in the cell they're kept in."

"Guess I'm not a usual pirate then. I'm showin' you hospitality, my dear Red!" Archie commented, before calling Matt over. As if to force the fact it was a 'meal', Matt even had a bowl of broth prepared for him, placing it down in front of the diplomat.

Maxie looked down at the bowl, the broth sending a pleasant aroma to his nostrils. It looked good too, the vegetables used within it seemingly fresh and there seemed to be pieces of meat in it as well. Rarities like these weren't often used on a pirate ship as they often spoiled quickly, so Maxie couldn't help but feel ever so slightly surprised. However, he knew that, despite how delicious the food might look, he was still in dangerous territory. He had to be careful.

"This isn't drugged is it?" he asked, raising one fine eyebrow up at his captor.

Archie stared at him for a few seconds, a dumbfounded expression on his face (and he looked positively stupid but Maxie didn't dare comment) before bursting into laughter, loud enough to make the chatter of the other crew members stop. Heads turned to stare at their captain, and Maxie felt a blush creep up on his face. Matt's expression didn't seem to change, yet Shelly tilted her head in mild confusion.

Through his laughter, Archie finally managed to find his voice again. "Wow, I never thought diplomats could be so stupid!"

A growl started to bubble low in Maxie's throat, slender fingers digging into the wooden table below, knuckles turning white from the force of which he gripped the table, fighting back the spike of pain as splinters slipped underneath his nails. His cold look worsened, deciding not to respond, conscious of the fact that it was what Archie would have wanted.

The side of Archie's mouth twitched into a smirk when he realised that Maxie wasn't playing along with his little 'game'. "Don't worry Red, I prefer ya when you're tryin' to fight back. If I wanted ya complacent, I'd have drugged ya long ago."

Bile began to rise in Maxie's throat at the idea of him being complacent, allowing Archie to do whatever foul things the pirate had planned for him. The scent of the broth was beginning to nauseate him at this point, yet he pushed aside the feeling and slowly began to eat, hearing Archie's soft chuckle. The chatter from before gradually came back, but this time it was less rowdy.

A few spoonfuls in, and Archie leaned in close to Maxie, elbow on the table as he rested his cheek against his hand. Maxie could just about smell the rum on his breath and had to fight the desire to punch Archie in the face.

"So Red, how's the broth?" Archie asked, and when Maxie flickered his gaze towards him, he noticed the glimmer of mirth in those auburn eyes.

If Maxie were honest, the broth was some of the best he'd tasted in a long time, the flavour rich, the vegetables and meat cooked to near perfection. It was obvious to him the spices within were stolen. They were probably from Walter's ship, but he simply continued to eat, too hungry to make a fuss over where these thieves had gotten such exquisite food from. Instead of giving a proper response, he just nodded his head a little to at least acknowledge Archie.

"Matt, he approves of yer meal! Think ya should feel blessed that such a high member of society likes yer cookin'," Archie told Matt, reaching out and swatting Matt's arm playfully.

Maxie's eyes widened slightly, looking up at the large and rather imposing man before going back to his food. His shock was obviously clear on his face, as Archie chuckled again.

"Yes, I'm the one that made this meal. I'm the ship's cook," Matt explained, yet face unreadable.

"Well… you're surprisingly good." Maxie gave in, confessing his true feelings about the food before him. Maybe complimenting Matt's food would get him on his side, and maybe he could see reason and stop whatever plans his captain had formulating away.

Matt stared at him, and Maxie wasn't too sure if that was a smile on the man's lips or not. "Thanks."

With that said and done, Matt simply turned and walked off, leaving Maxie ever so confused. "Not a man of many words?" he decided to ask Archie.

Archie laughed and placed his feet up on the table, ignoring the sneer that earned him from Maxie himself. "Matt's talkative alright, couldn't get him to shut the hell up when we were workin' together on a previous ship. Ain't that right boy-o?"

Matt emerged from what was obviously the kitchen and gave his captain a look. "You were just quiet, Captain."

Archie laughed to himself, picking up the tankard on the table and draining it of whatever alcohol was left in it. Maxie, however, tried to wrap his mind around what he'd just discovered. Matt and Archie were closer than he originally realised, meaning that Matt obviously had a high position in the hierarchy. He couldn't help but wonder if Shelly was the same, her interactions with the captain a lot more informal that he would have expected from any other crew member. It was with disappointment that Maxie realised his plan to get Matt on his side would be either impossible, or much harder than originally planned.

He didn't get very far with those thoughts when Archie clapped his hands together loudly, the crew all turning their heads to look at their captain as he swung his legs down from the table and stood up.

"Alright lads, since pickin' up dear Red, there's been a change of plan to our course of action. I've decided that we'll change direction and head to Sea Mauville for tomorrow. There we can trade whatever items from Red's ship that are useless to us for some money, and possibly gather information. I'll assign a few of you to go and scout for any maps on Johto along with Amber in the morning. Do you understand?"

A chorus of 'Aye Captain!' came from the crew gathered around Archie, and he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Maxie went to get up with them, wanting to get away from the smell of alcohol, but was stopped with a hand on his shoulder.

"Not so fast Red, I need to speak to ya." And with that Maxie was being forcibly pushed back down into his seat, whilst Archie sat up on the table right near him.

"Can it wait? Not everyone can tolerate this disgusting stench of alcohol," Maxie snapped, tensing up when a dagger was suddenly pressed against the skin of his throat.

"Cut the fuckin' lip Red, my amiable mood won't last long. Tomorrow, yer to stay with me, got it? Wherever I go, you follow. And if you dare escape, I will find you."

"Whatever will they think with a pirate working alongside the very people he's meant to hate?" Maxie teased, his growing smirk being cut off as the tip of Archie's dagger pressed further into his skin. He tried to keep his breathing calm, blocking out the short stab of pain.

Archie moved closer, his coarse beard rubbing against Maxie's cheek as he hissed into his ear. "Luckily I seem to have more brains than you do. Now, go to my quarters and wait for me there, got it?"

Maxie wanted nothing more than to ignore that order, to aggravate Archie even more, but he realised that Archie was more than willing to slit his throat at that moment, and the risks outweighed the reward.

In the end he nodded and the dagger was moved from his throat, not before Archie reached out a finger and caught the small droplet of blood that had escaped the cut. Maxie felt his stomach churn in disgust as Archie, regarding him as a wolf would regard its dinner, licked the blood clean off his finger.

Of course, later he would deny any accusations that he fled from the galley as he was a McDewitt. And a McDewitt did not flee from anything. However, deep down he truly knew he was running away in fear.

***

When he arrived in the captain's quarters, Maxie's hands were shaking and he needed to sit down, but he dare not to just in case Archie walked right in. He reached up and touched at the wound on his throat, swallowing audibly and flinching at the sharp stab of pain. Luckily it was only a small cut, like ones he'd had when shaving, but he still felt fear settle in the pit of his stomach. He hadn't felt fear like this even when Archie had threatened to cut his tongue off, something in Archie's eyes making him more afraid than before.

Get it together Maxie! You cannot let this man and his brutes get to you!

He continued to chastise himself for getting scared, breathing in a lungful of oxygen before letting it out with another shudder. Just as he was about to continue this practise, the door swung open and in strode Archie, slamming the door behind him (and it took all of Maxie's willpower not to flinch visibly at that). He slowly turned to look at Archie, head held high just like before, deciding against holding his hands behind his back in case Archie accused him of having a weapon on him.

"Could you be a little less noisy?" Maxie snapped, trying to hide how he felt at that moment.

Archie looked at him before simply shrugging, making his way to the chest Maxie had noticed earlier on in the day. He pulled out his set of keys from his trouser pocket before jamming one into the lock, jiggling it around for a few seconds until it clicked properly and he could turn it to unlock the chest.

"My only piece of advice to ya, Red, is never let a lock get rusty," Archie told him, chatting away as if they were friends. Maxie couldn't be so easily fooled so just grunted to acknowledge him.

It seemed to work for Archie looked up from where he was bent over the chest and gave Maxie an indiscernible look before rummaging around in the chest, muttering to himself as he went on. During this time, Maxie had gotten bored of standing around so pulled out a chair by the table and sat on it, ignoring the way Archie audibly murmured "Lazy fucker" in his direction.

"So, exactly what is this for? Do you just adore my company, but are too afraid to say it? I mean I don't blame you, I am a delight to be around." Maxie idly inspected his nails as he said this, legs crossed elegantly, trying his hardest to fool Archie, to hide away the fact he'd been visibly scared.

Archie didn't respond, and instead threw something behind his shoulder, in what Maxie realised was his direction. With a heavy sigh he got up and reached out to grab the item (which he'd figured was cloth by the way it almost floated on the air). To his surprise it was a maroon coloured shirt, much like the one Archie was wearing beneath his coat.

"I don't know if giving shirts to your prisoner is pirate custom but-"

"Shut up and put it on," Archie interrupted, standing up and turning to look at him, arms crossed over his chest.

Maxie made a sound of annoyance, shaking his head. "I will not wear anything of yours. Who knows how many lice infect it!"

Archie pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. "Listen Red, if ya go out there in that," here he stepped forward and jabbed Maxie's chest, "then you're going to fuckin' regret it. We're goin' to a place where yer kind isn't welcome, and the promise of treasure ain't goin' to stop all those pirates from killin' you. I'm protectin' yer sorry ass by lettin' ya dress up as one of my crew, so ye better be grateful."

Maxie stared up at him, brows furrowed and teeth gritted together, clutching onto the garment given to him so 'generously'. He didn't want to give in, however he also didn't want to get killed by some random pirates that he was sure Archie would not bother to fight off. The man hated him, he was no knight in shining armour.

With a heavy sigh he gave in, turning around on his heel before striding to his little 'room', keeping well away from Archie's line of sight. Last thing he wanted at that moment was the pirate eyeing him up like some sex deprived pervert. Trying to keep his thoughts in check, he shrugged off his coat, feeling exposed without it covering him, protecting him. He could feel the slight chill in the air now only in his waistcoat and undershirt, dealing with the buttons slowly. When he finally took them off, he could feel the chill get worse as he stood shirtless, the hairs on his arms raising as his skin became covered in bumps. He was glad to get the shirt on, though it was more loose fitting than his usual outfit, and he felt oddly exposed with the way the collar dipped, enough to show off his collarbones and a slither of his chest (unlike Archie, he did not have the physique to pull it off properly, and he figured he looked rather ridiculous).

He gathered he could get away with the trousers and socks he was already wearing, however to add a little bit of 'flair', he purposefully kept his breeches not fully tucked in, not wanting to seem too orderly if he were to be disguising himself as a pirate. Taking a look at his coat, he dug around in one of the pockets before retrieving a red ribbon, tying his hair up into a messy ponytail with it. When that was done, he finally stepped out, trying not to instinctively adjust his collar as Archie's eyes fell on him.

There was something almost unnerving in the way the captain regarded him, eyes darkened with something Maxie couldn't describe, the side of his lips quirking up into a smirk as he stroked through his beard thoughtfully. Maxie wasn't sure if it was the lighting in the room, or if Archie's eyes had wandered down to the dip in his collar, and he didn't wish to find out the truth.

"Yer look surprisingly good fer a stuck up asshole," Archie complimented him (at least Maxie assumed it was a compliment, he couldn't be too sure). "However, that hair will give you away instantly, so you'd better wear this."

Maxie looked confused before Archie held out his hand, in it a black bandana that he'd seen some of the crew members wear. He took a look at it before sighing and taking it, placing it over his head and tying it up, pushing his ponytail underneath the fabric effectively managing to hide most of his hair.

Archie's smirk turned into a full on grin and he stepped forward, clapping Maxie on the back almost hard enough to wind him. "Ya could almost be mistaken for one of my crew. And since you've been such a good boy, I'll give this back to ya."

Maxie felt an odd bit of glee as Archie grabbed his travel case and passed it to him. He picked it up, but in that moment the diplomat knew something was amiss. The case was light.

"You still have my blade," Maxie pouted. Upon hearing a chuckle, his eyes darted back around to the captain, and he could visibly see his blade newly placed on the table, tantalisingly out of reach. "Doubt you trust me with my blade, even with our deal."

Archie, noticing Maxie's gaze, followed it and chuckled. "Not yet. Ya might get it back if yer a good boy tomorrow, but we'll see. For now though, ya better get some rest. Got a big day ahead and I don't want his Highness to be all tired," he mocked.

"His Highness will smack you round the face if you continue that," Maxie spat, and the sudden shift in Archie's lighthearted mood to a darker one was enough to catch him off guard.

"Ya wouldn't fuckin' dare Red."

And with that threat, Maxie turned and pulled the curtain on his little room, wondering to himself just how he'd manage to live through the night.

***

Surprisingly, Maxie awoke in the morning all in one piece, though he hadn't slept too well in the first place. The swinging of the hammock had been hard to get used to, and he wasn't sure what time it was outside when he finally managed to drift off. He could hear shuffling from Archie's quarters and assumed the pirate was awake. With a heavy sigh he swung off the hammock, landing on the floor with a heavy thud that he was sure Archie had heard.

He opened up his travel case and rummaged around in it, trying to find the pocket watch he knew he'd packed in there, unless Archie had realised its value and decided to keep it to auction off like the barbarian he was.

"Mornin' Yer Highness," Archie drawled from the doorway.

Maxie, realising he was only in his nightclothes, made a noise of shock and turned to Archie to order him to leave, however the words died in his throat as soon as he took one look at the captain.

Archie had decided that going to bed clothed decently wasn't something he wanted to do, for the captain was simply wearing some loose fitting trousers and nothing else. Of course, this normally wouldn't phase Maxie (or so he kept telling himself) but he was well built, and Maxie found himself unable to simply look away. His dark skin stretched over clearly toned muscles, defined pectoral muscles rising and falling in time with Archie's breath, coarse hair covering his chest and leading down to his-

What are you, Maxie?! Some lovestruck fool simply because the man that captured you happens to be mildly good looking?

He swallowed past the forming lump in his throat, trying to ignore the amused glint in Archie's eyes, knowing that the captain had caught him staring.

"Another custom for you ship rats, I take it," Maxie commented.

"I got no idea what yer talkin' 'bout Red." Archie grinned before turning and walking out the door. "I need you to be ready quickly."

Maxie stared at the place Archie had just been standing, cursing himself inwardly for letting himself get so distracted by Archie's body. Had the captain planned that? Did Archie, knowing his own good looks, decide that he'd catch Maxie off guard? Or was he simply too weak with his preference in men?

"No. I won't let him seduce me at all, whether that's his plan or not," he whispered to himself before donning the outfit he'd been given the night before. The chill was worse this time in the morning, and he shuddered as he stepped out of his room and into Archie's. The captain was already fully dressed, minus the coat he'd been wearing yesterday, arms crossed over his chest.

"It'll take an hour or so to arrive at our destination," Archie told him, giving him a look that Maxie couldn't fully understand. It was a mixture of contempt and an emotion that Maxie didn't recognise, yet there seemed to be something primal about it. He involuntarily shuddered, Maxie blaming it on the cold when Archie raised a brow in question.

Archie seemed to buy his explanation and just snorted. "You'll get used to it."

"I really doubt that. Pirates don't seem to think practically when sailing the oceans, where warmer clothing is more or less a necessity. Anyway, you told me we'd be there in an hour and yet had me scramble to dress?" he snarked, picking at the thin fabric of the shirt.

"Yer a scrawny bugger, no wonder yer cold. And just 'cause yer a rich bastard doesn't mean I plan to treat ya like one. You wake when we wake. That's the rule," Archie responded before walking over to the door. Maxie, understanding the silent order, followed the captain all the way to the deck of the ship.

The crew that were already working on deck greeted Archie and ignored Maxie, just how he preferred it, a few giving their captain bits of important information on the state of the boat. When that was done, and Archie had allowed them to finish their chores, Maxie couldn't help but wonder something.

"Do you have a name for the boat?" he asked Archie as they made their way to the galley. Archie gave him a look, possibly wondering why he'd asked such a question. "You know, it's a normal thing for captains to name their vessels."

"Leviathan," came Archie's response, and Maxie felt even more intrigued by the name.

"May I ask why?" he dared to ask.

"Well, the legends say of a giant leviathan that is a master of the seas. Felt it fitting to name her after a legend," Archie shrugged, pushing open the door to the galley as they reached it.

Breakfast was a calmer affair than their dinner the night before, with members of the crew coming in at random intervals to get their share of food before discussing what they would do when they docked. When it was finished, Archie ordered Maxie to stay on deck and not go anywhere, warning him about the consequences if he did. Maxie gave in and made his way above deck, watching the crew work and ignore him, just like when he was on Walter's ship.

His attention was drawn to the ocean, where he could make out the form of a large island silhouetted against the morning sun. It was larger than he expected, though it was still too far away to make out properly, but he did see a few boats docked up. They were making a rather speedy pace towards it thanks to the wind being right in the ship's sails.

A hand came out and clapped him on the shoulder, causing him to flinch and then curse at whoever it was, before hearing Archie's obnoxious laughter.

"Easy there Red, don't want ya dyin' of fright."

"No, you'd rather be the one to kill me," Maxie muttered, pushing Archie's hand off him.

Archie's lips twitched at the corners, and Maxie tried to fight off the roll of nausea clawing at his stomach. Instead he turned back to look at the island, now much closer. They would be there soon.

"Sea Mauville. Special island hidden away from most authorities. Basically, the pirate's sanctuary," Archie told him, crossing his arms across his chest. Maxie dared to look up at him, caught off guard by how the sunlight framed his face in just the right way to make him look rather handsome.

Maxie blinked before looking back at the island. "How does it stay hidden? It's a large island in the middle of the ocean, you can't miss it."

Archie shrugged. "No one knows."

With that, Archie walked off again, leaving Maxie to continue watching as the island got closer. When they finally reached the port, it was a sudden rush of activity on board to get the boat safely docked and moored up. Maxie watched in slight fascination as they worked perfectly in time with one another, obeying commands from their captain without even thinking, and before long the ship was safely in dock.

Archie returned some time later before indicating to the platform leading down to the dock itself. "Shall we?" he suggested, almost amiably.

Maxie stared at the plank leading down wondering, if he moved at just the right time, if he could run away from the pirates. He then recalled Archie's comment about how this island was full of people that hated him, and if they found out who he was he knew that they would find pleasure in ending his life. Or maybe they would torture him first, draw his death out as slowly as possible as punishment for who he happened to be.

He shuddered and decided that staying with Archie was safer for the time being. Even if he seemed to be more than willing to throw him out to the wolves.

Eventually he made his way down, feeling a sudden weirdness in his stance as he found himself on solid ground again. He'd gotten used to the sway of a ship shortly after spending time on Walter's ship, so to find himself back on land made him almost stumble as he tried to get used to it. Lucky for him, he didn't actually trip and instead stopped to allow Archie to pass, following a few steps behind.

"Yer walkin' like ya have a stick up yer ass," Archie hissed quietly, voice a harsh whisper against the wind blowing around them.

Maxie looked down, realising he was walking as he would if he were on official business, so instead tried changing his pace to match Archie's knowing he probably looked ridiculous.

They made their way through the dockside, surprisingly busy for the time of the morning, many of the workers carrying large boxes of assorted goods. Maxie tried not to stare at them, instead focusing on following Archie through the small crowds. Once they were off from dockside, they headed down what seemed to be a main street before reaching a large building, and the swinging sign outside read 'The Whale and the Knight'.

"The first thing you do when you get on land is go get drunk? You really are a disgusting brute," Maxie spat in disgust.

"Easy Red, gotta act like one of us now if yer thinkin' of gettin' out of this alive," Archie commented, pushing open the door.

Once again, the thick scent of alcohol hung heavy in the air and Maxie nearly gagged, but kept his composure. Luckily the bar was mostly quiet for the morning, with a few pirates sitting around and drinking.

Maxie ended up following the captain towards the bar itself, sliding into a stool next to him and noticing a young looking female smile as soon as she laid eyes on Archie.

"Captain Brimsey!" she greeted flirtatiously, battering her eyelashes like a young maiden.

"It's good to see ya again Violet. How's the bar been doin'?" Archie asked, and it seemed he didn't even have to order for she was already pouring him, and to Maxie's dismay himself, a pint of beer. Archie produced a few coins and laid them on the bar when they were given their drinks, to which she smiled before tucking them in her bosom.

"Oh same old, same old. Been surprisingly busy lately, but I'm glad I can provide you with a chance to relax and unwind," she replied, her smile indicating that 'relax' to her meant more than simply giving these pirates a drink or two (or more). Maxie realised that it was probably what she wanted out of Archie, a chance to relax with him.

Archie simply smiled in his usual, friendly manner before downing some of his drink. "Any news I should know?"

Violet put a finger to her chin and tilted her as as if lost in thought before making an 'aha!' noise and putting her finger up. Maxie couldn't help but notice how characteristic this barmaid seemed to be.

"I've heard that there's been a government ship on your usual travel path. Didn't seem to be patrolling from what I've heard, but you'd best be careful anyway." Here Violet leant forward, cleavage on show as she patted the captain's hand. "Wouldn't want anything to happen to my favourite captain.

Maxie briefly wondered if she called every captain she bedded her favourite, or if she genuinely preferred Archie, however was more distracted by the news of the government ship. Had it been Walter's? It hadn't technically been a government ship, yet they'd kept the Hoenn flag flying high to try and deter pirates away. They hadn't been patrolling either, meaning that her news could likely be about him. He looked down at his mug of alcohol, which he hadn't touched, realising in his sidetrack of thoughts he'd been staring at Violet's breasts.

Archie just waved his hand, as if brushing away her concern. "Don't worry 'bout me. I won't let them buggers even put a hand on Leviathan."

Violet laughed, a rather sweet sound, before finally seeming to acknowledge Maxie. She smiled sweetly, though not with the same intent as she had done with Archie. Maxie was glad for that.

"Who's the new guy? Seems a bit scrawny to be part of your crew," Violet asked, laughing once again.

"Oh him? New guy from a recent raid. Wanted to join, seemed like he was pretty good at his job so I let him on board. Probably didn't have a captain as nice as I am, that's why he's got no meat on 'im, but we'll fatten him up," Archie replied before sharply elbowing Maxie's side. Maxie made to take a drink of his beer, hiding how his lips turned into a snarl.

"Not much of a talker?"

"Nope. What he lacks in speech he makes up for in performance though."

"Well," here she addressed Maxie again, "I'm glad we could meet!"

Maxie was surprised by her kindhearted behaviour and nodded, wondering if in another life he would have bedded her. He stopped himself from letting his thoughts get too out of control, continuing to drink until he'd finished.

Archie seemed to finish soon after and stood up, adding another few coins onto the bar. "I'd love to stay, but I've got to look 'round fer a few things."

Violet seemed a little disheartened but the look passed and she smiled. "I hope you decide to stay next time!"

Archie grinned and left the bar, Maxie following behind him, wondering how the trip to Sea Mauville would play out.

Chapter Text

"So, exactly what do you have planned?" Maxie asked as he followed Archie through the streets of Sea Mauville, streets the captain seemed to know almost inside and out for he hadn't faltered once in his steps. Even replying to Maxie, all he did was turn his head a little, keeping on the path without a single misstep.

"Well we need to stock up on a few things, and I was hopin' you'd be able to play along and write a letter to yer contact in Johto saying that yer pretty little head is still on yer shoulders. Sound fair?"

"So you dragged me out here, kept me by your side like some… some animal, all so I can write a letter?" Maxie asked, frowning to himself.

"Aww, have I upset you?" Archie mocked, before chuckling a little. "How am I supposed to trust you on my ship? If I just locked ya up, you'd complain, because that's all yer ever good for."

"I'll have you know I'm good for other things." For example stopping scum like you.

"Oh really Red? Do indulge me, what might they be?"

"Swordsmanship for one, that's why you let me stay aboard your ship," Maxie replied, keeping up the facade that he was a crew member as a few people passed them, close enough to hear their conversation. Albeit he was acting like a rowdy one that liked to defy his captain's orders, but still a crew member to those not fully paying attention.

"Fair point, and what else? Swordsmanship is somethin' all crew members are s'posed to know. Though I doubt ya know how to care for yer blade." Maxie couldn't see his face, but he could hear the smirk in Archie's voice. He puffed his chest out a little.

"I'm a fair rider," Maxie told him when the small group of pirates were out of earshot.

"That a euphemism? 'Cause I mean-"

"No, you dirty minded savage, I meant horseback riding!" Maxie snapped, interrupting Archie. The image of Archie, shirtless and standing in his doorway, flashed in Maxie's mind and he grit his teeth together, hands curling into tight fists.

Archie laughed as they reached the door of a small post office, it's sign faded to almost no recognition if Maxie didn't know that, in Hoenn, almost all post offices looked the same. Before they entered Archie turned to him, an eyebrow raised.

"Anything more ya wanted ta add?"

He looked up at the captain, a defiant glint in his eyes. He always had something to add, this was no different.

"You think my hair is pretty. I'm good because I'm pretty." Maxie smirked as he opened the door to the post office, noticing the way Archie's jaw slackened slightly before he righted himself and walked through, trying to act like he owned the place with his steps.

Maxie waited as Archie paid for the required things needed before pointing to a small table, conveniently made for those wishing to write a letter.

"I was right wasn't I?" Maxie asked almost gleefully as he dipped a quill in the ink pot.

"Shuddup and write the goddamn letter, Red."

Maxie rolled his eyes before beginning to write, hoping it sounded convincing enough to both Archie and his contact.

Dear Preston,

As I am writing this, we have made our way to Johto, and I thought I should send you some correspondence for we have reached port for the evening. Luckily there was a way to send this message to you. Unfortunately, the weather has turned foul, so much so the captain that is taking me to Johto has decided to port up to keep all stock safe.

As for the stock, it is all there. I have voiced concerns about it being stolen, but vigorous checks have eased my worries. Walter, my captain, has also said that his crew are to be trusted, and they have shown some generosity towards my nervousness.

It felt weird talking about Walter as if he was still alive, despite having seen him being murdered, and standing right next to Maxie was the man that had murdered him. He tried not to shudder at that thought, and continued writing.

Unfortunately, this storm seems to have damaged the boat, which will be fixed as soon as possible whilst we stay at port. I should hope you get the message on time, and I apologise for the delay that this has caused.

Yours,
Maxie McDewitt.

When he'd finished, he placed the quill down and pushed the parchment towards Archie, giving him a look. Archie took the letter and read through it before nodding, going through the necessary steps to get it sent off, before Maxie gave the address of the place, glad that he had that memorised of all things.

When all that was done, they left together heading back the way they'd came towards port.

"Not staying here for the night I take it?" Maxie asked.

"Why bother delayin' the journey any longer? The sooner we can get that treasure and leave yer whiny ass behind, the better."

"I'm charmed, honestly," Maxie scoffed.

It didn't take them long to arrive back at the port, Leviathan sitting peacefully in the water whilst members of Archie's crew inspected her hull and other vitals, just to make sure she hadn't taken any damage that would impede their journey. Standing in front of the ramp up to the ship were Matt and Amber, with Amber carrying a rather large piece of parchment. Archie practically beamed as he saw it.

"That a chart of Johto?" he asked, seemingly surprised at what they'd managed to find.

"Aye. Only one we could get our hands on without spending a load of coin."

"It's good enough. Amber, take Maxie with ya and and try to teach him a few things, make him do somethin' useful fer once," Archie ordered, ignoring the slight glare from Maxie. "Matt, with me." With that, Archie and his first mate walked up the ramp to front of the ship, whilst Maxie unwillingly followed Amber into Archie's chambers.

Amber let the parchment slowly unfurl from it's scrolled up state, being careful of the paper lest he rip it. When it had fully uncurled, Amber placed it down on the table, over the larger map of Hoenn. He grabbed a small paper weight, made to look like an anchor (typical stuck up pirate) before turning to look at Maxie with a sharp gaze. Maxie was glad he was at least taller than this man, standing up straighter to stare down at Amber with an expressionless face. He couldn't help but notice that Amber looked out of place on Archie's crew, but he couldn't exactly pinpoint what is was that made him think that way.

"So, what exactly do you do on this ship?" Maxie asked, mildly curious about Amber. He hadn't been as outspoken as Shelly, nor as intimidatingly big as Matt.

"Isn't it obvious? I'm the navigator. I help get the ship from point A to B, whilst the helmsman steers her so she doesn't hit anything," Amber replied, looking at him as if he were dumb. Maxie bristled in anger, but didn't show it.

"From my knowledge, those who navigate the seas are often educated. How did you happen to get lumped with a bunch of crooks and scoundrels?"

Amber regarded the map with a thoughtful expression, before speaking. "The captain saved my life."

Maxie tried to hide his shock at that comment, but it obviously hadn't worked for Amber sneered at him.

"Shockingly, not every pirate is some heartless crook, like you narrow-minded rich folk seem to think," Amber spat.

"Then explain why Walter was thrown overboard and left to drown?" Maxie asked, keeping his own expression cool after the initial shock had worn off.

"What, and let him go running back to Hoenn and find some one that could apprehend and then kill Archie?" Amber shot back.

"Or, someone could have struck a deal with Archie. Keep him alive and he pays them back by clearing out his own kind. I hear, with the right magistrate, that sort of work can pay well," Maxie replied.

Amber snorted, obviously amused by Maxie's suggestion. The diplomat couldn't help but grimace slightly, leaning against the table. "And what is so funny?"

"You really think those deals ever work out? No, you greedy fat cats will find any excuse to hang us, that's why Archie's accepting his deal of yours and is ready to slit your throat at any given opportunity." Amber stared at him, hard, before looking down at the map, voice lowering. "And if I were you, I'd refrain from mentioning magistrates to Archie, if you value your life."

Maxie stared at Amber, almost in challenge before sighing. "Just get on with teaching me how to navigate. Or… whatever Archie wanted you to do."

***

Surprisingly, Amber was a good teacher, and when their little lesson had finished, Maxie had learnt quite a bit about navigation. Of course, it wasn't enough to replace Amber as navigator, not even for a little while, but it got him out of the way for the past hour. He'd been so engrossed in his work that he hadn't even realised the ship had set off, and was leisurely cruising through the water.

When he emerged from Archie's quarters and onto the deck, it was to Archie staring through a small telescope, looking thoughtful. Matt was next to him, hands on his hips as he stared at whatever had caught their attention. Amber walked over, getting the attention of his captain.

"What's going on?" Amber asked, and Maxie looked out in the direction to see a ship in the distance, gradually getting closer.

"Matt told me 'bout the ship in the distance…" Archie muttered, and something seemed off about it all.

It was a few seconds before Maxie processed exactly was wrong.

"It's coming straight towards us."

Archie gave him a questionable look before nodding, passing the telescope to Amber.

"At this rate, neither of us will have enough time to pass, so either their captain is stupid or-"

"Or they're planning something that requires our eyes on them," Maxie finished off for the captain, tucking his arms behind his back as he looked out at the ship. There was a strong enough wind coming in an easterly direction, the same direction the ship was coming in from. It would be too late for Archie's crew to turn the ship in time if the captain didn't plan on stopping.

Archie once again gave Maxie a look, and the diplomat couldn't help but smirk at him. Whilst he didn't have the same knowledge as the captain, he'd spent enough time on sea to know a thing or two about how these things worked.

"Well what do ya know, Red's more attentive than he let's on," Archie commented, making Amber chuckle as he passed the telescope back.

Maxie just raised his head a little higher, giving Archie a haughty look. "I spend a lot of time on ships, it comes with the job."

"Oh, then haven't we found the perfect catch."

Matt coughed to get their attention, and they all turned to look at the ship again. It was creeping closer, and there didn't seem to be any signs of it stopping.

"Matt, turn her around as much as you can, I want to minimise damage," Archie ordered, before shouting at his crew to help out.

There was a sudden flurry of activity that gave Maxie a chance to grab the telescope from the captain, ignoring his protests to look down it. When he managed to get a good look, he frowned in confusion. It seemed to be a rather small vessel, much like a merchant's ship, yet something still seemed off. He pushed down the nagging feeling inside and passed the telescope back to Archie, turning on his heel. He was about to stride off back to his room when Archie grabbed his arm roughly before spinning him around, so that he was facing the captain again.

"Where the fuck d'ya think yer goin', Red?" Archie asked, irritation lacing his voice.

"I'm going to change. That way they can assume you're the ship I'm traveling to Johto on," Maxie replied, trying (and failing) to shake Archie's hand off.

"Oh no ya don't. If they see ya dressed like that, they'll realise ya don't belong here, I ain't got the fancy garb that yer Walter had. If they find out, they'll want to 'trade' for my ticket to treasure. Or just fire dead will at my ship, and I ain't havin' either of that."

Maxie gave him a look before sneering. "And here I thought you wanted to get rid of me."

Nails dug into his cheeks as Archie grabbed his face, bringing his own close, fire in his eyes. "Ya made a promise, Red, and I'm gonna make ya keep it. I'm not gonna let ya put my entire ship in danger."

Maxie stared him down, before his lips pulled up into a smirk. "Who knew that Archie Brimsey had a soft side?"

Archie looked like he was thinking of slapping Maxie before he was called over by Amber, who had been keeping an eye on the unfamiliar ship as they'd tried to hurriedly move Leviathan out of the way.

"That's Captain to you," Archie snarled over his shoulder once he let go, walking over to Amber.

Unfortunately, Maxie didn't have enough time to celebrate the little victory for getting Archie riled up, as they'd noticed the other ship lower its sails, slowing down just a distance from Archie's ship. Everyone seemed to stop and stare, watching as the ship's true colours were raised, and Maxie got the feeling of deja vu.

"They're plannin' on boardin'…" Archie said, more to himself at first before turning fast to the crew. "GET YER WEAPONS!"

The shout was just heard over the sound of a gunshot from the other ship, and Maxie watched, transfixed on the scene as smaller rowing boats were boarded. Archie growled in frustration, taking out a gun from his belt and turning off the safety.

"I want crew on every side! We cannot let them board!" Archie shouted, before looking to Maxie. "As fer you… try not to die."

Maxie didn't have time to protest that he had no way to defending himself before Archie was shooting at the now unbelievably close boat, narrowly missing the person that was swinging a rope up. He could hear various other gun shots being fired, as they tried to stop their ship from being boarded.

Unfortunately, they didn't have enough crew to stop the men already beginning to climb up, nor did they have enough time to cut through the thick ropes they used. Maxie could hear Archie bark more orders to his crew before managing to hit one of the men beginning to climb in the arm. He flinched, which gave Archie time to grab another gun and shoot him again, this time in the head. The men that were following had to scramble back down as his body fell, falling into the water.

The others looked shocked at the body before climbing up again, seeming determined to raid their ship for whatever reason they had planned. Archie's crew were frantic in trying to stop them, yet they weren't quick enough as a few men managed to board, rushing towards Archie's crew to attack. Maxie could hear Archie curse before he worked on trying to cut more of the ropes.

It was as Archie was busy that Maxie remembered he had to find a weapon to defend himself with. He looked to the men fighting, and then glanced to the door that led to Archie's quarters. If he ran fast enough, he could grab his blade. He at least knew how to fight with that. A quick glance back to Archie showed him he was still busy, and he began to make his way towards the door.

Just as he reached it, he heard Archie yell at him, narrowly managing to miss a pirate lunging at him. He gasped before sprinting to Archie's room, ignoring the captain's shouting for him to get back. It swung and slammed, and Maxie was glad that it was unlocked prior, and that his blade was right where Archie had last left it. With a smirk, he grabbed the blade, hearing a few more gunshots and shouting from the deck.

"Well what do we 'ave here?" a gruff voice came from behind, making Maxie tense up. He hadn't heard the door reopen.

"I'd ask the same question considering pirates don't often attack their own people," Maxie replied, deciding to keep his cool and continue to keep his back to the pirate. He could hear footsteps indicating that he was getting closer.

"Don't think you've got any business questionin' our motives," the pirate commented, now right behind Maxie. He was glad that his smirk couldn't be seen as he felt the muzzle of a pistol press into his back, heart beginning to thump not through fear, but surprise exhilaration. His eyes cornered on a dagger left on the table, obviously part of the group that were stuck in the portrait on the wall, not too far out of his reach. He just needed to find the right time to attack.

"And what makes you think that?" Maxie asked, not even flinching as the pirate grabbed his jaw (and wasn't that becoming a common occurrence now). His head was forced to the side, and he managed to get a look at his assailant.

Oh, but he was an ugly man.

"You're either new to this ship or aren't meant to belong at all. Stick out like a sore thumb, you do. Bet you came in here to hide, like a coward."

That was all the cue Maxie needed as he brought his elbow back, winding the pirate and allowing him to slip out of his grasp. He didn't have time to use his sword, the pirate was too close for that to be efficient, so he reached forward and grabbed the dagger from the table, a crazed grin on his face as he turned around.

"I suggest you take back the coward comment!" Maxie laughed before lunging forward, pushing the dagger into the other man's throat. The pirate let out a garbled cry of pain, and Maxie felt a thrill of joy pass through him as blood ran down the front of the man's clothing, his body spasming before, after a few tense seconds, he gave one final choke.

Pulling the dagger out, Maxie didn't even bat an eyelid as he let the weapon fall to the floor alongside the body. All he felt was a weird pleasure rush through him, his blood pumping through his veins. He'd been taught to fight at a young age, having started out in the art of fencing before he learnt any moves that could kill someone. Even then, there had always been a finesse to his lessons, a chance to show off and impress his family.

None of that mattered on this ship.

Fighting here was dirty, it was a means of survival. It was chaotic and unpredictable compared to his sheltered lessons. Here, he didn't have to impress anyone. Even the fact he'd killed someone didn't faze the diplomat, after all he'd killed out of self defense. All he had to think about were his instincts.

In a rush, he grabbed his sword and ran back out into the main foray, looking around for Archie. The captain himself was blocking blows from an enemy, pure concentration on his face. As he was watching, Maxie just about managed to whirl around and block a blow from another pirate, gritting his teeth before lunging forward, just as the attacker readied to use another attack. It was a risky manoeuvre, but his sword managed to hit first, going right through his attacker's chest.

When he pulled his sword out, he saw Archie looking his way, having managed to kill his own assailant. The captain had an almost shocked look to his face, though it left as he grabbed one last gun from his belt, pointing it straight at Maxie. The diplomat ducked quickly to the side, turning in time to see the bullet land through someone's head.

"Nice shot," Maxie complimented as Archie walked over.

"Ya weren't bluffin' when ya said you were good with swords," Archie responded, a smirk plastered on his face.

Maxie simply snorted at that, falling into step with the captain surprisingly easy. Their fighting styles were completely different, one was cultivated from years on sea, raiding just to survive, whilst the other was an art taught as a last resort. Archie wasn't afraid to hack and slash, whilst Maxie preferred to block and wait for the right time to lunge. They didn't even have to watch out for one another as they fought together, and any other time Maxie would wonder how this was happening, yet at that moment all he could feel was the excitement and the bloodlust.

Of course, it wasn't to last as they managed to finally fight off the last of the attacking crew, the final assailant's body falling ungracefully to the floor. With a wave, Archie's crew had now begun to check bodies for any valuables. Maxie stood there, breath coming out in short pants, heart still thumping in his chest as he surveyed the area. Only a few crew members had gotten hurt, wounds being tended to whilst their captain walked around and inspected both crew members and the dead alike. When he made his way back to Maxie, it was with a frown on his face.

"You disobeyed me."

Maxie sighed as he looked at Archie. "There's a dead body in your quarters, and all you can think about is how I disobeyed you?"

Archie grunted in annoyance before heading to his quarters to inspect the dead body, leaving Maxie to watch as the bodies they'd checked over were thrown overboard. He couldn't help but wonder why another band of pirates had attacked Archie's ship, knowing that it wasn't a common thing to happen at all.

After a while of wondering, Maxie still felt some pent up energy left within him so wandered back to Archie's quarters. There he found Archie crouched beside the dead body, a pool of blood spreading out onto his floor. However, it wasn't that that had caught Archie's attention, in fact he seemed oblivious to the blood as he read from a rather crinkled letter.

"There's blood in your own sleeping quarters and yet you're devoted to reading," Maxie commented as he went and perched on Archie's bed.

"Considerin' yer the person that put this body here, I got bigger things to worry about," Archie muttered, not even looking up at him.

"What exactly is so invigorating about that letter that you're focused on reading it rather than removing the dead body?"

Archie stood up and pointed to the body. "An answer to this attack. Now get up, yer cleanin' this mess."

Maxie stared at him before sneering. "Excuse me?"

"Don't think that just 'cause ya happened to kill a man that you don't have to pull yet weight around here. Anyway, ya disobeyed my order, so I should be makin' ya swab the whole damn deck," Archie replied, a cool look in his eyes.

"And here I was thinking that I was a valuable asset to treasure."

"You? Valuable?" Archie laughed, a harsh sound that made Maxie snarl. "There ain't nothin' valuable 'bout ya, now clean this mess up and then help out above deck. I'll meet ya tonight in the galley."

Maxie was about to argue but stopped himself as Archie walked past, spitting on the body when he went by it to leave, and Maxie just growled in annoyance before grabbing the body and taking it above deck.

***

It took a good hour or so for the deck (and Archie's quarters) to be clean from the evidence of attack. Leviathan was finally moving after having another check on her vitals, which had luckily not been damaged, and the crew was in high spirits despite having been attacked.

Of course, when a ship's crew was happy, there was only one way to truly celebrate a victory.

With food and a copious amount of alcohol.

When Maxie finally entered the galley, after Shelly said Archie had given him permission to enter (and yes, he was still annoyed that Maxie had taken his sword, though hadn't made efforts to take it back), it was to the crew all shouting and cheering. Without really thinking, Maxie made his way over and sat in the same spot as before, right next to the captain. Archie himself was lounging in his chair, tending to a small fiddle, much to Maxie's surprise.

"I didn't expect you to educated enough to read, let alone know how to play a fiddle," Maxie taunted, watching as Archie looked at him, eyes narrowing slightly.

"Yeah well, not everyone was kissin' the government's asses just ta get a special education," Archie shot back, before standing up when he'd made sure everyone was in. With a few loud claps, the entire room had gone silent, all eyes on Archie.

"Today's attack was rather unexpected, and I gotta admit you lot did a good ass job keepin' each other alive," Archie began, a surprising note of sincerity in his voice that made Maxie continue listening.

"Archie, what the fuck were they attacking for?!" Matt cried out, and the captain's expression grew feral as he lifted up the letter he'd found on the body that Maxie had killed.

"This was found on the body of a crew member that attacked Red. Surprisingly, he didn't last long," Archie continued, putting up a hand when the crew started to murmur and look at Maxie, who just glared at them. "I know, it's fuckin' crazy what he did, but we can discuss that later.

"For now, the important deal is this here letter. We pirates don't often attack one another, not when everythin' is against us, so this attack was planned by someone other than a captain and his crew.” He folded the parchment. “Here,” Archie shoved the letter to Maxie. "Read it, Red."

Maxie gave Archie a look before snatching the letter, needing to only read the beginning line to understand exactly what the letter was. He took a breath before reading out loud.

"Letter of Marque and Reprisal, in authorisation to Captain Aldrich Denholm," Maxie began, listening to the concerned murmur from the crew before continuing on.

"To hereby and henceforth known to the Crown and Realm as lawful privateer in service to the Royal Navy commanded to protect Sinnoh's interests, persons, and assets upon both earth and sea, for the glory of the Land. We herein exempt the bearer of this Decree, from any and all charges, past and present, associated with and pertaining to piracy, indecency, and otherwise unsundry acts.

"As representative of our Realm, the Good Captain is henceforth vowed to detain any ship suspected of piracy in Hoenn's waters, be it through capture or death."

As Maxie passed the letter back to Archie, now knowing why Archie had spat on the body, he was expecting the crew to break out into an argument, to shout and question why this was allowed. Instead they simply kept silent, and that unnerved Maxie more.

"The thing that I don't get," Archie said accusingly, "is why Sinnoh is attackin' pirate ships in Hoenn waters…" His eyes moved to Maxie, who sat up straighter and held his head a little higher.

"Are you sure you want to know the answer to that?" Maxie asked.

"Oh so ya do know, d'ya Red?"

Maxie sighed before looking straight at Archie. "Sinnoh has been getting a little… how should we put it? Aggressive? Yes, aggressive towards Hoenn. We're afraid one wrong move and there will be war. My job in all this? To make a trade negotiation with Johto, in the hopes that we become trading partners, and then possibly allies. Sinnoh obviously thought it was a good idea to send this ship out to get pirates to surrender and conscript into their navy."

Archie frowned at him, but Maxie kept his own expression neutral as he continued on. "You all know that as long as a ship has this letter, they can forget all their crimes. For people who risk being hanged if they're ever caught, this can be the answer. It also is a perfectly cheap way to increase a navy's size."

"So, this associate that yer in negotiations with isn't just random guy who happens to be high up in Johto's society, is he?" Archie asked, beginning to drum his fingers on the table.

"No, he's another diplomatic representative like myself. We were planning to sit down and have some lengthy discussions about our trades, until you lot captured me."

Archie's lips pulled up into a smirk before he looked towards his crew. "I think all this deserves a celebration, don't ya think?" he shouted, to which his crew shouted back.

Just like that, the tense mood vanished and instead the boisterous laughing and shouting came back, drinks being poured and plates of food being given out around the large table (which had obviously been prepared by Matt and a few others whilst everyone else cleaned up). Surprisingly, even Maxie was given a plate and a pint of ale. The food itself seemed to be a random mixture of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, all thrown together into some sort of salad, though it couldn't be called that. In other times Maxie would have probably complained just to get a reaction from Archie but the fighting from before had taken a toll on Maxie, leaving him rather hungry and so he quietly tucked in, listening to the conversations around him.

He was halfway through his pint of ale when the crew suddenly started chanting, and he realised they were chanting at their captain to play. Maxie looked confused for a second before noticing the fiddle, gaze moving up to linger on Archie's bemused faces.

"Ya don't want to hear me play that old drivel!" Archie laughed, his crew's chanting getting louder until he finally gave in. "Awright, awright I'll play the damn fiddle!"

As if on cue, a sudden silence settled over the crew, and Maxie couldn't help but feel intrigued. He wondered what was so good about Archie's playing that everyone insisted on him playing.

Luckily, it didn't take long for that question to be answered.

Maxie watched, now suddenly transfixed, as Archie placed the fiddle against his neck and closed his eyes. Without even glancing at the strings, he began to play, an upbeat and swift song that his crew started to clap along to. Archie played as if it were effortless, a smile tugging on the corners of his lips as he played, fingers flying over to the right strings with precision and ease. Maxie couldn't help but clap along, eyes widening as Archie stood up and began to play even faster.

Listening to the captain play, a warm feeling that was akin to admiration began to bloom in Maxie's chest. It was hard not to admire the way Archie was playing, the ease with which the tune traveled from such a small instrument. Yet he also couldn't help but admire Archie himself, watching as the man treated the instrument delicately, how his entire demeanour became more relaxed. And the music itself was infectious, to say the least. Maxie was in a room full of people that hated his guts, that would kill him given the right chance, but at that moment he felt as if he could belong, not that he'd ever want to, but the possibility was there.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to Archie play and singing along, somewhat drunkenly. Maxie had to admit he'd drunken more than expected, just enough to make him a little tipsy, but not completely inebriated, and even he was allowed to sing along to certain shanties that he recognised. Mostly, however, he spent his time watching Archie himself, trying to ignore certain indescribable feelings clawing their way at his heart. After all, this man was his enemy, his captor.

When Archie stopped playing, his crew boo'd, eliciting a laugh from the captain. "Listen, I'd love to keep ya entertained all night but a captain's gotta sleep sometimes."

"That hasn't stopped you before," Shelly pointed out.

"Yeah but I'm the captain, I decide what happens and I say we start hittin' the hay," Archie shot back. "Anyway, I need to speak to Red alone."

Maxie frowned at the mention of him, looking at Archie. "What's this all about then?"

"I said alone, Red, are ya deaf?"

With a heavy and annoyed sigh (making sure he exaggerated it just to annoy Archie), Maxie stood up and followed the captain out of the galley to his quarters, ignoring the lewd comments from the crew as he walked by. He wondered if this was going to be some sort of 'punishment' for disobeying Archie's orders and the very thought irritated the diplomat, which he made all too clear in his facial expression once he stepped into Archie's quarters.

"Are you going to berate me for taking my sword despite not having your explicit permission?" Maxie asked contemptuously.

"Yer on my ship, ya listen to my rules. I should punish ya like any other sailor," Archie replied, voice surprisingly devoid of any emotion.

"Oh boo-hoo, I took my own blade without your permission, whatever am I going to do?" Maxie mocked, lips curling up as Archie glared at him.

"I told ya Red, my patience with you is thin."

"You expected me to defend myself with a stick?" Maxie shot back, walking over to Archie and roughly poking his chest. "You're the one that wants this damn treasure, and yet you wouldn't even let me keep a sword on me! You're a hypocritical brute-"

Maxie didn't get to finish the rest of that rant as he was grabbed, turned and slammed against the wall, breath leaving him in a short gasp as Archie pinned him. A sharp pain crawled up his back but he didn't pay attention to it, staring up at Archie's face just mere inches from his. He could feel Archie's warm breath hit his skin, the scent of alcohol filling his senses. Archie's fingers dug into his shoulders, his gaze full of fire and anger.

"Ya can't say shit 'bout me bein' a hypocrite. Not when yer the ones screwin' around the poor," Archie spat, voice low and threatening. Maxie blamed the alcohol in his system for the tingle that went down his spine, unable to tear his eyes away from Archie's.

A smirk played on Archie's lips as he moved one hand away from Maxie's shoulder, tracing his bottom lip with a calloused thumb. Maxie's blood rushed through his veins, heart thumping loudly, a mix of adrenaline and, Maxie hated to admit, lust.

"Have I finally managed to leave 'The Great Maxie' speechless?" Archie asked, and Maxie had to fight the urge to take that thumb into his mouth as he opened his mouth to speak.

"I'm amazed you actually know my name."

Suddenly, chapped lips replaced the thumb on Maxie's lips, causing a noise of both shock and pleasure to come from the back of his throat. Immediately, he was aware of the fact that Archie's thigh was placed between his legs, now pressing against his crotch as Maxie managed to get his arms free and pull Archie closer. Archie seemed to realise what he was doing and grabbed both his hands, pinning his wrists above his head with one hand whilst the other started to undo his shirt, making Maxie shudder as the kiss deepened.

It didn't take long for the kiss to become rough, for Archie's sharp teeth to dig into Maxie's lips, hard enough to draw blood, the metallic taste spreading across Maxie's lips and making him moan in pained pleasure. Calloused fingers slipped into his shirt, blunt nails dragging across pale skin just enough to leave marks, and Maxie hated the fact that he wanted more. When Archie pulled his lips away, a string of saliva connecting them, Maxie couldn't help but groan softly already missing the touch.

"Maybe this should be yer punishment," Archie growled into Maxie's ear before biting down hard. "I should mark ya up, claim that pretty little body as mine."

"Shouldn't I dislike the punishment?" Maxie asked, body feeling hot as his hips bucked up against Archie's leg, cock already hard in his trousers.

"So ya want to be marked, huh?" Archie smirked as he grabbed Maxie's jaw and forced his head to the side.

"Of course a brute like you would want to mark me up, all you know how to be is a savage," Maxie spat, unable to help getting riled up, the anger and the desire mixing into some strange mixture that somehow felt right.

That was when teeth sank into his neck and Maxie cried out.

He struggled against the restraint on his wrists, growling as Archie just tightened his grip, leg moving away from Maxie's crotch. Maxie was about to make an angered noise of complaint before he felt hips press against his own, noticing how hard Archie was as well. He moaned, not caring who heard at that moment in time, hips bucking up against Archie's almost frantically, closing his eyes as Archie bit and sucked on his throat, leaving purple bruises that, Maxie knew from experience, would stay visible for a good few days. The mouth was soon replaced by Archie's hand, and Maxie's eyes widened as he felt the grip on his throat tighten, his breath being cut off. He could hear Archie whisper about how this would shut Maxie up for good, too far gone in his pleasure to even register the words properly.

And then, just as Maxie was getting into a rhythm with Archie, just when he was seeing stars in his vision from the lack of oxygen, the captain pulled away completely.

A frustrated sound left Maxie's lips, cock twitching in his trousers at the sudden loss of friction, skin feeling almost feverishly hot as he took lungfuls of air. He stared at Archie, shocked and irritated, wondering why he'd pulled away just like that.

"This shall be yer punishment, Red," Archie began, and Maxie felt his irritation turn into pure resentment. "Ya wanted this, so what better way to teach ya to behave than to simply stop."

Maxie's eyes narrowed, lips pulling back into a snarl. Archie was acting as if he suddenly had the upper hand, but unbeknownst to the captain, Maxie was never one to follow orders, nor to just accept punishment.

That's how he found himself ripping free from Archie's grip and switching their positions so Archie was the one with his back slammed against the wall. The look of shock at the sudden change made Maxie smirk as he straddled one of Archie's thighs, grinding up against his slowly.

"Stupid idiotic pirate, I don't like following your rules," Maxie whispered before both men rushed to grab at one another, to push clothing away.

It was a frenzied, lust filled rush as Maxie managed to take Archie's coat off, and then got to dealing with his shirt. He could feel Archie's fingers run through every inch of his skin as he rutted against his thigh, fingers finally managing to twist into the coarse hair covering his chest, kneading at his pectoral muscles like his life depended on it.

The sound Archie gave him, a deep and throaty moan, made all of that time worth it.

His hands continued to knead, hips rutting with no real rhythm, feeling Archie start to do the same against his own thigh. Their lips pressed together again, kissing deep, Maxie managing to gain the upper hand and press his tongue into Archie's mouth. Both men moaned again, wet patches forming in their trousers as their cocks began to leak precome. Maxie could feel the familiar twist of heat beginning to coil in his stomach once he'd pulled away for air, panting heavily as he stared at Archie, whose own gaze was filled with desire.

The twist in his stomach got worse once Archie grabbed roughly at the bandana on his head, pulling it off to tug on his hair and pull his head back, baring his throat. Lips went back to attacking the pale skin, now peppered with various bruises, and Maxie choked on a moan as more precome began to leak from his cock. He knew he wouldn't last long now, and so he began to rut harder and faster against Archie's thigh, finally getting the right amount of friction on his aching cock.

"Ya gonna come for me Red?" Archie asked, nipping at the skin on his throat.

Maxie choked on another moan in reply, fingers digging into Archie's body as he got closer and closer to orgasm, the heat building up until it became unbearable.

"Then here's an order. Come for me, Maxie."

That was all it took for Maxie's hips to stutter and a loud moan to leave his lips as he finally came, coating his trousers and underwear. Shuddering, all he could do was practically cling onto Archie as the captain fucked against his own hip a few more times, before a low groan indicated that he'd also came.

Both men stayed there for a good few minutes as they recovered from their orgasms, panting as sweat slicked skin pressed together, chests rising and falling in sync. However, it didn't take long for Maxie to come back to his senses, and with that, the realisation as to what he'd done. He'd willingly 'laid' (for they actually hadn't gone to the bed) with the man that had murdered his escort and had kept him prisoner. Instead of using his self control, he'd allowed mild amounts of alcohol to impair his judgment in a tipsy state, mixed with a small leftover high from the earlier battle. In his eyes, he was no better off than the prostitutes that worked the streets at night.

This shame forced him to push away from Archie, to stumble backwards on shaking legs, trying not to stare at Archie's post orgasm state. Bile rose in his throat and he turned on his heel, wishing he could run away and be anywhere but near Archie at that moment in time.

"Y-You can't even please me right," Maxie lied, hoping Archie didn't catch the stutter in his voice as he fled to his little room, wondering how this would change things in the long run.

Chapter Text

Maxie awoke with a sudden start, stomach lurching almost painfully. Without even thinking about what he was doing, he bolted out of Archie's quarters (without glancing to see if Archie was even still in bed), before making it to the deck. From the look of the sky it was just breaking into dawn, however Maxie was more concerned about getting to the side of the ship. As soon as his hands grabbed the railing, he leant forward and vomited, his entire body shaking as his stomach emptied into the vast ocean underneath him. When he was done, he sunk down to the floor, clutching the railing painfully as he focused on his breathing.

He could vaguely remember what had startled him to wake up.

He'd been dreaming, imagining large, rough hands stroking along his body as he was tied up to a bed, warming up his pale skin with every caress. A deep voice had been coaxing him, whispering scandalous thoughts into his ear, a coarse beard rubbing against his face. His dream self had moaned, opened his legs wider, shuddering in anticipation and desire as those hands ran down his body, as they ignored his hard cock and instead ran down the cleft of his ass, pressing against his entrance…

That was when he'd woken up, when his stomach had twisted with so much shame that he'd had to rush out to where he was now. In other circumstances, he'd dismiss that dream as simply his body acting normal, for of course every human had wants and needs. Besides, he'd dreamt of situations similar before, dreams that had left him hard and wanting when he awoke. But this was different, for he knew the man in his dreams. Unlike before, the man was no stranger. He knew that voice, that beard, those rough hands, the dark skin he'd been aching to touch. They belonged to his enemy, his captor, a murderer that had threatened his life more than once.

And yet here he was lusting for him after a regretful one night stand.

Vividly, he remembered the night before, fingers reaching up to trace his lips, wincing in pain as he touched the cut that he'd gotten from Archie's teeth. He shuddered and put his hand down, trying to keep his breathing calm and even. At least a cut lip could be easily explained to curious crew members. Him and Archie weren't on the best of terms, he doubted they ever would be, and had fought. He'd gotten the cut from it. That was a believable excuse. However, he couldn't explain the bruises that covered his neck, love bites that proved Archie had claimed him. Instinctively he reached up to touch them, pressing against one rather large one and trying not to relish in the pain that spread.

He felt heat start to pool towards his groin and forced his mind to think logically, to try and fight off the desire that was threatening to mask every thought out decision he ever made. Instead, his mind decided to greet him with another bout of shame that made him stand up as fast as he could, vomiting as he once again leant over the railings. He whimpered, glad no one was around to see him in such a weakened state, throwing up simply because he couldn't deal with the fact he'd slept with Archie. It didn't help that the evidence was still there, in plain sight for anyone to see.

"And here I was thinking you'd be able to handle a life at sea," a familiar voice came from behind him, making him stiffen up and stand up straighter, willing his legs to keep him upright.

"I'm a diplomat, not a sailor," he spat, turning his head to the side so he could look at Shelly. Her hair was messily put into a ponytail, strands falling around her face, and she looked like she'd just woken up (and probably had done, for it was only just becoming dawn).

"You were a bit more than just a diplomat or a sailor last night," Shelly commented, lips quirking up into a smirk.

"What is that supposed to-" Maxie began before the realisation dawned on him. He bared his teeth and growled, fingers digging into the wooden railing as he forced down another rise of bile. Of course she'd know what had happened, he'd been moaning like a whore and hadn't realised that him and Archie weren't the only ones on the ship.

"Archie told Matt and I what happened. He spared the details, but if it makes you feel better he commended you on giving him a good fuck."

Maxie span around to face Shelly so fast that he would have fallen had he not been clutching onto the railing behind him. "Who knows?" he asked, voice low and threatening.

"The heck is your prob-"

"Who knows?!"

Shelly put her hands up, backing away a little. "Relax, only Matt and I were told about what happened. The other crew members wouldn't have been able to hear, their quarters are too far away. Though a few of them were making bets on when you two would fuck. Don't quite blame them, we could see there was sexual tension between you two."

Maxie averted his gaze, gritting his teeth as he felt the beginnings of a headache forming. Of course this wouldn't simply be forgotten about the next morning, how foolish he was to think that would work. But then his mind settled on what else she'd said, that Archie had commended him for being a good sexual partner. He shuddered, trying to not dwell on that thought. It was a one night stand, he wouldn't make the same mistake again.

"I have something to help hide the marks," Shelly said, startling him out of his thoughts.

"Why are you helping me?" he asked, instantly defensive.

"Because, even though you don't deserve any help from me, I'd rather not deal with the crew members giving you shit for what happened. I love all of them, but they can be a rowdy bunch and they'd give me a headache with their constant jibes," Shelly replied, huffing in annoyance.

"And what if I don't accept your help?"

"Then don't come crying to me when the crew bullies you for fucking Archie."

There were a few seconds of silence as Maxie wondered what to say before finally giving in.

"Fine, lead the way." he grumbled, ignoring Shelly's wide grin.

She walked off and Maxie followed reluctantly, glad that no one was around to witness him going to Shelly's personal quarters. He wouldn't have heard the end of it. Shelly's room was small, not too far from the main sleeping quarters of the other crew mates. Most of it was taken up by a hammock, yet there was also a small chest and a dresser, on top of which sat a small box and a few assorted bottles which Maxie assumed was perfume.

"I'm surprised you have such luxurious, upper class items in your possession," Maxie commented as Shelly rummaged around in the small box.

"You find all sorts of stuff when raiding ships. Sometimes you strike lucky and find a ship carrying a few aristocrats, much like yours," Shelly commented, picking out a bottle of what looked like white paint.

"And so you pilfer what you can get… seems a bit of a waste carrying this makeup around though," Maxie expressed, tucking his arms behind his back.
"Sometimes Archie would send us out to see what bits of information we could gather, and in certain areas you've gotta look the part. That's where the makeup comes in. Now, open your shirt a little," Shelly ordered, putting a little bit of the white slop on her fingertips.

Maxie grimaced, both at the smell and the order, before untying the front of his shirt, pulling it down just enough to expose the bite marks.

"This might sting," Shelly warned as she stepped over before starting to apply the weird paint like substance.

It did indeed sting, but Maxie wouldn't show weakness to Shelly, she'd already seen more than enough. Instead he dealt with the pain, averting his gaze as she spread the makeup over his bruising.

"Fucking hell, what kind of teeth does Archie have?!" Shelly mumbled as she worked more of the makeup into his skin. "I swear that man's part shark…"

A rather awkward silence settled over them as Maxie's bruises were completely covered up by the makeup, blending in with his pale skin. To those not paying close attention, they wouldn't really notice anything was off about it. He hoped Archie wouldn't comment about it either.

"You know, Red, I'm curious," Shelly began after a while. "What made you decide to fuck Archie?"

Maxie made a sound and backed away from the woman, glaring at her defensively. "Why does it matter?"

"It doesn't matter, I'm just a curious person."

"I was too inebriated to think straight," Maxie replied, gritting his teeth. "That's all I will say on the matter."

With that, Maxie turned on his heel and left Shelly's room, trying not to act suspiciously just in case another crew member saw. He didn't want people thinking he was fucking Shelly as well as Archie. When he got to the deck, Archie was busy chatting to a few crew members, and Maxie instantly stiffened up. He'd rather ignore the pirate than deal with whatever snide comment he decided to make so he fled to his quarters, knowing he was at least semi-safe there for the time being.

Ignoring the urge to look at the area where him and Archie had fucked, Maxie made his way to his little closet room and began to rummage around in his personal belongings. He soon found what he was looking for, a small pack that contained a cloth, and various sizes of whetstone. He made his way to the table after grabbing a spare ribbon to tie his hair back, and sat down before working on cleaning and sharpening his blade, paying close attention to the work so he didn't slip up and cut his finger.

"I'm surprised ya know how to care fer that."

Maxie startled out of his concentrated state as soon as he heard Archie, narrowly missing his fingers from the sharp edge of the blade.

"I could have cut myself," Maxie snapped, glaring at the captain who was nonchalantly leaning against the doorway.

"Boo fuckin' hoo. Gotta say though, ya probably care fer that blade more than yer ponytail," Archie chuckled, making Maxie reach up to touch the messy way he'd tried to keep his hair out of his face.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, placing his sword down on the table gently.
"Came here to find ya. Time fer you to start doin' stuff 'round here."

"And why is that? I thought prisoners were expected to be complacent and stay locked up," Maxie said, standing up to his full height. He gazed at Archie, trying to stop his eyes from wandering down the length of his throat, to the dusting of hair covering his chest.

"Considerin' yesterday's raid, I think ya know exactly why. You fought like a pirate, now you gotta work like one." Maxie didn't have time to react before Archie was striding towards him, lips inches from his ear. "And I know just how well ya can listen to orders."

Maxie tensed up, gritting his teeth together as Archie's breath ghosted against his skin. He tried not to think about the night before, instead focusing on the anger he was feeling, the insinuation that he could listen to Archie's orders like a compliant fool. He huffed out of his nose and then pushed past Archie, holding his head up high.

"Don't assume I'll listen to every order of yours," he spat, anger spiking at the way Archie smirked.

"Oh don't worry Red, I'll make sure ya listen," the captain responded before leaving the room, barking at Maxie to follow.

When Maxie got to the deck, there was a lot more activity than before. Matt was busy helping out with the rigging before Archie called him over, making Maxie realise who he'd be working with.

"Captain, what d'ya want?" Matt asked as he walked over, giving Maxie a rather cold look. Maxie huffed loudly, holding his head up and staring at him. He might be much taller than either him or Archie, but Maxie was not going to be intimidated by him.

"Red here needs to do some work. He proved he's competent at defendin' himself, so he might be competent at helping out 'round here."

"Doubt it captain, you know that these rich fuckers can't work hard at all."

"I excelled in my classes, I'll have you know," Maxie told Matt, annoyed when the man's expression didn't change.

"Don't be cocky, having a smart brain and being competent are two different things," Archie responded before roughly pushing him closer to Matt. "Now do as yer told otherwise I'll have to set ya straight."

Maxie glared at Archie as he walked away before Matt coughed to get his attention.

"If yer done staring at his ass, we have work to do."

"I can assure you, I've seen nicer asses than his," Maxie replied cooly, gesturing for Matt to show the way, smirking to himself when he noticed Matt's expression of mild shock. Serves him right for underestimating me.

Matt didn't lead him far, pointing for him to stand just by the main mast. The sails were yet to be unfurled, and it didn't take a genius to realise what he was going to do when Matt placed a heavy bit of rope into his hands.

"All I want for you to do is pull on this rope on my signal, got it?"

Maxie nodded, testing the weight of the rope with a gentle tug before smirking cockily. "A child could do this with their eyes closed."

Matt chuckled softly before beginning to climb up the main mast, leaving Maxie to wait for a countdown to when he could pull on the rope. He noticed a few other crew members holding onto their own bit of rope and then looked over at Matt, feeling impatient. Matt finally began to speak, however instead of a simple countdown, Matt began to sing, his voice loud and clear from his high perch.

"When I was a little lad and so me mother told me…"

"Way haul away, we'll haul away Joe!"

Maxie startled as, suddenly, the crew started to sing along, their booming voices causing him to lose grip on his rope, barely managing to let go in time to stop the rope from burning his hands as it was yanked upwards.

"Oi Red! Stop fuckin' slacking!" Matt shouted down at him. "The fuck d'ya think you're playing at?"

"You should have told me that you were going to start fucking singing!" Maxie snapped, glaring up at Matt.

"Are all diplomats dumb as a plank or are you just a special case? When we say Joe, you tug, got it?" Matt growled.

Maxie mumbled in anger to himself as he took hold of the rope again, his gaze fixed on it whilst he kept an ear out for Matt's commands. Soon the song started up again, from where it left off.

"That if I did not kiss the girls me lips would grow all mouldy…"

"Way haul away, we'll haul away Joe!"

This time Maxie was just a split second off and yelped as the rope knocked him flat on his backside. He winced as he stood up, his anger flaring when he heard distinct laughter from across the deck, deep and loud.

Just his luck that Archie had been watching.

"And what are you laughing at, brute?" Maxie snapped, patience wearing thing.

"I came to see what all the ruckus was 'bout and I see our stuck up diplomat flat on his ass. How could I not laugh at that?" Archie responded, leaning on the railing.

That was the final straw for Maxie and he grabbed the rope again, now fully concentrating on proving the entire crew on board wrong.

"Again!" he shouted up at Matt, forcing himself not to glance at Archie as Matt started singing again. Maxie quickly understood the rhythm of the shanty; Matt would sing one verse and then the crew would sing the next. On the word 'Joe', the ropes had to be pulled. The next pull of the ropes were a success, and Maxie felt a thrill of pride at himself, putting all his effort into yanking the rope in time.

It didn't take long for the ship's sails to become fully unfurled, and Maxie was so absorbed in staring up at them in happiness that he didn't even notice Archie until an arm was roughly draped across his shoulders. He stiffened up and was quick to push the captain away, brushing off some imaginary dirt from his shoulder, mildly glad at the look he received from Archie.

"Not in the mood to celebrate, huh?" Archie commented, that damned insufferable smirk plastered onto his face.

"And what, pray tell, is this cause for celebration?" Maxie asked.

"Fer managin' to get that sail unfurled. S'not often that we find a rich fat cat who's somewhat competent out here."

Maxie knew Archie was toying with him, it was obvious as just earlier he'd been laughing at his mistakes. But Maxie took the bait, deciding that it'd be fun to see where this conversation led. It helped that the anger from being mocked before was still bubbling away inside him. He was just itching to release it onto the captain.

"Oh that? Child's play. I don't know how you can make it seem like it needed any sense of skill," Maxie told him, holding his head up high.

Archie leant in close, making Maxie reel back a little to try and put some distance away from them. "Shame, I could see you were a sea dog at heart."

Just like that, Maxie's anger erupted like lava and he growled at the suggestion that he was made for this life, that he could be a brute just like Archie and his crew. The anger fueled him, and he didn't even think as his fist slammed into Archie's cheek, making the captain stumble back, the sound of flesh meeting flesh satisfying to hear.

Archie gasped and spat, blood mixed in with the spit that landed on the deck of the ship. Maxie felt a vague sense of content knowing that he'd managed to injure the captain.

"You little- MATT!" Archie shouted, leaving Maxie no time to respond as he was roughly grabbed, arms pulled tight enough against his back for them to sting. "This fucker can't learn manners it seems. Send 'im to the cell, I'll deal with him later."

Matt's gruff response was the only warning Maxie had before he was being roughly pushed, forced to walk ahead of Matt towards the cell he thought he'd be free from. Although, instead of making a scene and trying to fight against Matt's grip, Maxie just flashed Archie a smirk of satisfaction, glad when Archie's look darkened menacingly.

***

The cell seemed darker and more cramped than before, but Maxie only assumed it was because he'd been granted a brief moment of freedom. He didn't even bother making a scene like before, he just sat down on the cold, hard floor and let his mind wander. He thought about the situation as a whole, from the moment he'd been kidnapped, to now, skipping over anything that happened the previous night. It seemed like time had slowed as he stared at the wall in front, so lost in his thoughts that he barely heard the door open.

"Now this isn't like ya, Red," came Archie's voice as he walked over, crouching down in front of Maxie, causing the diplomat to finally focus on something. To his delight, he could faintly see a bruise forming on the cheek he'd punched.

Maxie simply shrugged, resting against the wall as he continued to stare at Archie.

"The fuck you starin' at me like that?" Archie asked, standing up to look down at Maxie.

Another shrug from Maxie caused Archie to scoff in annoyance. "D'ya regret punchin' me in the face?" he asked, obviously trying to make Maxie respond in some way.

"No," came Maxie's blunt answer.

Archie looked at him some more, and Maxie could notice the way he was trying to figure out what to do next, obviously unnerved by Maxie's actions.

"Usually yer complain' 'bout the cold. 'S it cold in here?" Archie tried again.

Once more, Maxie replied simply with a 'no'.

Archie huffed and pinched the bridge of his nose, foot tapping against the floor of the cell. "Where the fuck's that fiery spirit gone, Red?" he asked, a tiny hint of confusion and distress in his voice.

Maxie's response was to simply shrug again, causing another growl from Archie.

This man gets worked up so easily. It's rather comedic when I think about it.

"Yer stayin' in here for the rest of the day. I'll see if I'm feelin' generous enough to come get ya tomorrow." Archie finally gave in and walked out of the cell, locking the door behind him.

When he was gone, Maxie felt a smirk of satisfaction tug on his lips, deciding that it was best to just wait and see. He figured, despite Archie's threats, the captain would come back for more.

Chapter Text

From below deck came the muffled shouts and orders of the crew, a constant reminder as to where Maxie was, though after awhile he found himself able to block out the sounds of the crew altogether. Once he did, he found the sound of the water hitting the hull comforting, after many voyages where the sound had kept him awake with dread. Somehow, he found himself dozing off, ignoring the hard wood that he sat on, letting his thoughts take over. The slow bob of the ship as it traversed the waves calmed his breathing, lulling him into a peaceful state of mind, one he hadn't really been in for a long time. He wasn't really sure how much time was passing outside either, eyes drooping every now and again as he tried to fight off the sleep, however he soon gave in, just about managing to keep himself sitting upright against the wall.

Unfortunately, sleep didn't last very long, around half an hour at the most, before the door to his cell slammed open, causing him to jump, eyes snapping open in surprise, right towards the cell door. Matt stood there, the key to the cell in his hands, a stern look on his face.

"Get up, the captain wants you."

Maxie opened his mouth to retort, but didn't have time to before Matt roughly grabbed him, hauling him up to his feet. He staggered a little, his legs having fallen asleep, before scoffing and making a show of straightening his clothes.

"Could have added a please in there somewhere," he muttered, ignoring the glare he got in return.

Without another word, Matt dragged Maxie out of the cell, similarly to how he'd dragged him there in the first place. When they reached the deck, he managed to catch a conversation between Amber and Archie, both standing at the bow of the ship and staring into the distance.

"If we try and find an alternate course, it could take us more time to get to Olivine City," Amber told Archie, an annoyed tone creeping into his voice.

"And if we don't we could risk not gettin' there at all! I ain't riskin' The Leviathan like that."

"This coral reef could be huge, who knows how far we'd have to diverge from our set route just to get passed it."

The two stopped arguing as soon as Maxie made his presence known, both turning to him expectedly. He held his head up high, noticing how Archie's face was still bruised from where he'd punched him, a glimmer of cold delight in his eyes. Archie must have noticed for he sneered a little before his expression became neutral.

"Sorry to take ya away from your lovely little cell," Archie began, voice dripping with sarcasm. "But, and I hate to admit it to ya, we've encountered a little problem."

Maxie chuckled as he walked over, aware of the look Archie shot him as he stood side by side with the captain. He knew almost instantly their plan of action: ask him if he knew how to get through the reef with minimal or no damage to the boat as he had sailed this course before. Sailing the course and actually paying attention to it, however, were two very different things. Considering Maxie's hatred of the journey, he often holed himself below deck, so he didn't really know what they were expecting.

"Aren't you, dear captain, supposed to know how to traverse the boat through all sorts of terrain?" Maxie asked, hands tucked behind his back as he made a show of surveying the area. A spark of familiarity struck inside his mind, yet he quenched that down for later.

"Cut the crap Red. Yes, I know how to traverse through coral reefs but not this one. The water's more shallow, it'd be suicide going straight through without knowin' the best way."

"Surely you should be able to apply that knowledge to any coral reef?" Maxie continued on, taking delight in the way Archie's gaze darkened.

"One more quip out of yer mouth and yer goin' overboard," Archie threatened, not even bothering to look at him as he gazed out at the water, frowning to himself. "I'm askin' you not 'cause I think ya can do my job better, ya can't do any job on this ship without fuckin' up. I'm askin' 'cause you've done this journey before. Saves us a whole lotta trouble if we have someone with firsthand experience onboard."

Maxie merely rolled his eyes, turning to face the both of them and making a vague gesture as he did so. "I spent most of my voyages in my cabin. I'd rather not mingle with dirty sailors, whether or not they happened to be pirates."

Archie sighed heavily, his nostrils flaring a little before he rubbed subconsciously at the scar on the bridge of his nose. "Fine, yer utterly useless. Don't even know why I bothered."

"As are you asking a captive for help, 'o scourge of the sea."

Archie glowered at him, his upper lip rising in a snarl at the insinuation that the captain himself was as useless as his captive. Maxie flashed him a cocky grin, standing up a little taller (even though he only just came to stand about the same height as Archie's shoulders), chest puffed out in a look of pride.

"I'm goin' to leave him in yer capable hands, Matt. I'll be with Amber lookin' for a new route if possible," Archie said to his first mate, giving Maxie a particularly heated stare. "If he misbehaves, shove his ass back in the cell, ya have my permission."

Matt seemed all too gleeful for being given permission to lock Maxie up. He may not have been smiling, but there was a certain twinkle in his eye that made Maxie pull a face of disgust. "So I get stuck with the lug… isn't your beloved captain so kind?"

Matt, surprisingly, chuckled at that comment, roughly grabbing Maxie's arm and dragging him closer. "He's allowing me the chance to knock some sense into you. I know the perfect job for you."

***

When Matt had told him of 'the perfect job', Maxie had expected something akin to the previous two jobs he'd been forced to do. Instead, Matt had taken him below deck, into the ship's hold. Maxie noticed, in amongst various barrels, the chests that were on Walter's ship. They'd been forced open, Maxie still had the key however that was now useless. Of course pirates would know how to pick locks.

"I gotta thank you for having such valuable stock," Matt commented when he noticed Maxie staring at the chest.

He gave him a quizzical look, arching a fine eyebrow up in confusion. "Explain…"

"The cargo that was useless to us, which was most of it, fetched a fine penny when we stopped off at land a few days ago."

"Oh fantastic, now what would my contacts at Johto say if we ported without half the promised gifts?" Maxie snapped, knowing he had no say in the matter of cargo.

"That's not my problem. That's for the captain to decide, and I don't think he'd take too kindly to an asshole like yourself decidin' to keep the stock and slow us down. Besides, the more expensive stuff is still here."

"Well, maybe The Leviathan isn't as great a ship as Archie seems to claim if a few chests can slow her down that much," Maxie quipped as he was stopped by a large pile of ropes.

Great. Just great.

Matt didn't comment on Maxie insulting the ship he worked on, instead simply grabbed a large pile of what looked like old line in his arms, dumping it at Maxie's feet.

"Sit," he ordered, pointing to the floor.

Maxie sighed heavily before sitting down, glaring up at Matt. He hated how tall this lug head was, having to crane his neck up so much just to make his glare somewhat effective. Even sloping his back so he didn't hit his head on the boards overhead, he still somehow dwarfed Maxie completely.

"So, exactly what am I supposed to be doing? I don't really know much about life at sea, as you know," Maxie asked, inspecting his nails and feigning indifference. "I'm much more fitted to making an entire nation bend to Hoenn's will, but I don't really think dirty pirates need that sort of talent."

"Yer right, we don't need that 'talent'. What we need is hard work and enthusiasm, not rich twats sitting around pretending they're the most powerful men in the world," Matt commented as he crouched down, grabbing a piece of line. "Now watch, and don't you dare forget what I'm teaching you."

Matt took the line and, with almost no effort at all, managed to untangle it. Maxie raised an eyebrow in suspicion, wondering how he'd manage that considering he'd never untangled rope in his entire life.

"Line here is never wasted. We always have to reuse it, whether as new line or as chinking. Untangling it shows us what fibres to keep, and what can't be used again. I want you to untangle this entire pile, putting the fibres into two piles." Here Matt pointed to the space on Maxie's right side. "Unsalvageable there and salvageable on your left. Got it?"

Maxie blinked a little in confusion, mainly because the job seemed so easy. Matt was more like the guy to delight in Maxie doing something impossible, as long as it didn't disrupt what the crew were doing. Yet here he was being told to simply untangle rope. He picked up a line and inspected it before smiling to himself.

"This doesn't look so hard," he commented, before getting to work.

***

Maxie was completely wrong.

A few minutes had passed and Maxie's attempts at uncoiling the rope had failed multiple times. Whatever way he tried, the rope always ended up coiling in the wrong direction, leaving it a complete mess. He grit his teeth to stop himself from cursing, focusing more on figuring out what the hell he was meant to be doing. Matt had moved to lean against the boarding separating the ropes from the other bits of cargo, arms crossed against his chest. He was inspecting Maxie closely, from what the diplomat could see through the dim lighting cast by a few lanterns hanging above head. He didn't want to show any incompetence in front of his man, so swallowed down his protests and continued to try and untangle the line aimlessly.

It didn't take long for Matt to realise he wasn't going to get it any time soon.

"Can't even do the most simple of tasks, can you?" Matt scoffed, kicking himself off the wall and walking over, sitting down in front of Maxie and grabbing the rope.

"Watch closely," Matt ordered before beginning to work his hands slowly, showing Maxie the steps needed to untangle the rope. When he'd finished, he passed another rope to Maxie, reminding him of what he needed to do, before allowing the diplomat to try again.

This time, Maxie got it right.

"Thank fuck you're a fast learner," Matt chuckled, keeping himself seated as Maxie worked.

It was quite a boring job once you knew what you were doing, however occasionally Maxie would mess up and Matt would quickly correct him, before going back to watching over him. He soon just started to let his mind wander, his hands working almost automatically, though sometimes he'd stumble and the rope would burn his hands, making him hiss in pain a little.

When he did get into a pattern, he ended up thinking about the coral reef. His memories of the journey to Johto had always been a little foggy, what he could recall had almost always been from below deck or in his own cabin. He'd only go above deck to smoke or for fresh air, and preferred if both captain and crew left him to his own devices. It was as he worked with the rope, his hands starting to form the beginnings of callouses, that he recalled a memory, as if it was summoned by their location itself.

***

Gulls skimmed the water searching for food as The Violetta bobbed on the gentle waves, her path halted by a particularly large coral reef within shallow waters. Maxie had appeared above deck for a smoke when the captain had politely asked to speak with him. He'd mentioned their current predicament, and that he'd send a few crew members out on a small rowboat to investigate potential areas that were safe enough to cross. Maxie had nodded and let him continue, however he couldn't help but feel annoyed. This would set their journey back by at least an hour or so and he was expected to arrive within the week. He had an important conference to attend to in Ecruteak City, which was another day's carriage ride from their port of call at Olivine City.

Sighing heavily, Maxie leant against the railings and puffed on his cigar, scrutinising the crew as they lowered a smaller rowing vessel into the water, before four of them climbed down into it. The captain at least looked like he was trying to figure something out, instead of expecting his navigator to magically know the way.

It took a while before the rowing boat came back, with some good news that Maxie couldn't help but listen in to. When the captain noticed, he beckoned him over, explaining what was going on. He nodded along with their plan of action, as there was no other choice. They'd found a way through where the water was deep enough to stop the ship from getting damaged, however it twisted through the entire reef, and they'd need extra precision and caution to make it through without damage.

***

Maxie gasped and flung his bit of rope to the floor, not bothering to even finish with his job. Matt looked up and glared at him, obviously unimpressed with his actions.

"You better have a good reason for just stoppin' midway," Matt said, voice low and threatening, which Maxie chose to ignore as he stood up.

"Where would Archie be?" he asked, trying to keep his sudden excitement under control.

"What, so you can go and suck his dick? This work too boring for Mr High and Mighty?" Matt responded, making Maxie groan in annoyance.

"So I can get this ship moving again, you imbecile!" he snapped before rushing off out of the hold, hearing Matt's shouting for him to get back to the hold. He chose to ignore it, glad he was a lot faster than Matt was as he climbed all the way back to the deck. Ignoring the stares from the crew, he rushed to Archie's quarters, flinging the door open.

Archie, who had been pouring over all the available maps, spun with a speed that Maxie still had to get adjusted to, gun pointing straight at him. He noticed a slight tremble in Archie's hand, and in other circumstances would have found the thought of unnerving the captain satisfying, however he was too interested in getting to Johto as soon as possible to even pay it much attention.

When Archie realised who was there, he lowered his gun and growled a little. "The fuck you doin' away from Matt? If I've found ya hurt my first mate I'll-"

"I know how to get us through this reef," Maxie interjected, walking over and not even thinking to care about Archie's reaction.

That was until the captain grabbed him and slammed him against the table, both his arms held behind his back in a tight grip. "Don't fuck with me, Red. Why are ya here?" Archie growled into his ear, making Maxie shudder as he tried to wriggle away from Archie's grip.

"Why the heck would I lie about this? Trust me, I know how to get us through as long as your helmsman is good at navigating this beast of a ship!"

Another growl left Archie's throat as he let go of Maxie, stepping back to allow the diplomat a chance to stand up again, rubbing at his wrists. "You need to learn some damn manners."

"And you need to learn 'bout insultin' a man's ship," Archie responded, just as Matt knocked on the door. "Come in."

Matt opened the door, irritation covering his face. "Captain, I'm sorry for letting him get away, but he didn't explain himself at all."

Archie simply sighed and shook his head, putting a hand up to stop his first mate from continuing. "I know, he came rushing in 'ere with a sudden way to get us movin', apparently."

Looking at the both of them, Maxie wondered if maybe he shouldn't have been so brash but ignored that thought when Archie gave him an expectant stare. "Right, the route…" he muttered before recalling what he'd remembered from a few years ago. Archie's expression soon became thoughtful, fingers running through his beard methodically as Maxie finished explaining what he'd been told by the captain of The Violetta.

"Yer sayin' there's a way around, it's just pretty difficult to navigate?" Archie asked, wandering over to the door.

"Do you think you can handle it?" Maxie asked, hands on his hips as he looked Archie in the eyes.

The captain smirked, lifting a hand and curling his finger into a beckoning motion. "'Course I can handle it. Yer the one that's gonna help me."

Maxie startled a little and shook his head. "I can't navigate and you know it."

"Ya don't need to know, just remember the route and we'll do all the hard work. Now come, otherwise I'll just turn this vessel 'round and send ya to some random island to fend fer yerself."

Realising he wasn't going to be able to get out of this one, Maxie begrudgingly followed the captain above deck, listening in as he told the crew that they'll be able to get moving again. Despite everything, the way the crew listened and moved as soon as he gave the order filled Maxie with a strange sort of admiration. He may not have known much about being a sailor, and despised the idea of working as one, but he knew that a captain had to have both power and respect, especially with a crew of sailors that could very well mutiny if their captain decided to send them straight to a possible watery death. Maxie wondered what Archie had done to become captain, not realising he'd been staring at the captain trying to figure it out until their eyes met and a wicked grin spread across Archie's face.

"Red, I know I'm fuckin' gorgeous, but the way yer starin' isn't gonna get me to listen to yer commands so just forget 'bout it."

Maxie spluttered in indignation and stepped back a little, shaking his head back and forth. "No no no I was just lost in thought!"

"Thinkin' about me, huh?" Archie's grin somehow widened as he leant into Maxie's space.

Maxie huffed and used that opportunity to flick at Archie's nose, smirking at the way his eyes slightly crossed in confusion. "You only wish I was thinking about your ugly face."

Archie laughed, a somewhat genuine sound that made Maxie feel slightly warm inside, which he forced himself to ignore as he walked past Archie. "Come on captain, we have a ship to get moving."

***

Maxie stood at the ship's wheel, watching as The Leviathan was carefully navigated through the somewhat treacherous path. Archie stood to his left, arms crossed over his chest, a small frown of concentration on his face. The crew behind them frantically listened to any sudden order Archie barked at them, just as attentive as the three at the helm of the ship. They'd managed to get through most of the coral reef without any difficulty, which Maxie was rather surprised at considering this was the first time The Leviathan's crew and captain had experienced anything like this before.

In fact, Maxie was quite impressed and opened his mouth to make a comment about it to Archie when they all heard a rather disturbing grating sound come from around the ship's keel. Archie turned to look at Maxie, and in a split second Maxie saw fear written on the captain's face before he'd covered it up and ordered the crew to go and investigate and fix any holes as soon as possible, as well as to keep up the pumps if there had been a hole. There was a sudden mad rush breaking the tentative silence that had almost befallen the deck of the ship as a handful of sailors rushed below deck.

"Continue sailin' her as steady as you can, we need to get out of here and find the nearest island or port to call upon," Archie said to the helmsman, who simply nodded and considered to concentrate.

Maxie looked towards Archie, watching as he bit his lip a little, and, before he really knew what he was doing, he placed a gentle hand on Archie's forearm. The captain looked down at him, his gaze unreadable.

"Do you really want me to tell tales of the pirate captain who panicked when his ship was damaged when I'm free?" he said quietly, more as a joke to make sure Archie wasn't panicking.

"Ya think this is panic? Hah! Ya ain't see nothin' Red."

"Then it's mild concern?" he asked, glad to see the corners of Archie's lips tweak up.

"That sounds better. Captain's can't panic. If they do then their crew'll be mad," Archie explained, foot tapping against the deck.

"They have to be both brave and clever. If a captain's lacking in any of those regards, he's bound to be mutinied," Maxie commented, noticing Archie's mild look of surprise that he knew a thing or two about pirates.

A chuckle left Archie's mouth and he flashed him a grin. "Well well, Red, seems ya know a bit 'bout our ways."

"Aye- Wait no I mean yes. You didn't hear that!" Maxie rushed to say as soon as the word 'aye' slipped past his lips. Stupid pirate life influencing me. I need to not let this happen!

The smirk Archie gave him was insufferable and he found himself pushing the captain away, rather glad he was in a somewhat amiable enough mood to allow this sort of reaction, not that it really worked as Archie managed to stand his ground.

"Ya know, Red, I think yer made for a life at sea. But we'll keep that little slip up between the two of us. Our little secret." Here Archie made a gesture of clamping his mouth shut, and Maxie breathed a small sigh of relief.

"If you mention it to anyone, even your damn first mate, I will make sure you regret it till the day you're hanged for your crimes." A little huff of laughter was all the reaction that Maxie got as Archie went back to concentrating, watching as the boat navigated the reef.

***

It didn't take the crew long to finally pass over the reef, yet there wasn't much time for them to celebrate it either. They'd managed to patch the damage as much as possible, yet they'd need to stop to fully investigate the damage and repair it. That was how Maxie found himself back in Archie's quarters, looking over the charts of Johto that they'd managed to find in hopes that there were some islands nearby.

"How long can she continue like this?" Maxie asked, noticing the tension running throughout Archie's body. A tension he was trying his hardest not to show, or to get rid of.

"She can go at least a day like this, but I'd rather not push our luck. Seems this area of water isn't the most conventional way to get to Johto," Archie replied, running a finger across the chart. "This chart seems pretty recent, obviously stolen off another ship to be sold at port."

Maxie was quick to put two and two together, watching as Archie ran his finger through the area they were roughly in. "Which means they've recently found a new way through to Johto that hadn't been charted before…"

"Exactly. Ship's are getting better, which means longer treks, and eventually discoverin' new areas to make shippin' cargo much easier. However, ya never know how dangerous the waters of these new courses could be."

Maxie was unsure what to say, so chose to keep his mouth shut just as a ship hand rushed into the room, calling Archie to attention.

"Cap'n, Amber's spotted an island that's just a few miles west 'f here. What'll we do?"

"Change course for that island, the wind's should be startin' to pick up which hopefully means we get there before sundown."

The ship hand nodded before rushing back out of the room, leaving the two alone again. "Don't want to navigate these water's at night?" Maxie asked.

Archie shook his head, rolling up the chart as he straightened up, running a hand through his beard. "Would rather not. Navigatin' at low light's already dangerous enough, and I don't know these waters at all. It'd be stupid fer me to let her continue sailin'."

"So, what am I supposed to do now?" Maxie asked, watching as Archie made his way to the door. He looked somewhat confused when he turned to look at Maxie, as if he'd forgotten that he was a prisoner on his ship, and not one of his crew.

"How good are ya at sewin'?" he asked, gesturing to a bundle of clothes and pieces of fabric on top of a small chest.

"Somewhat good. I'm guessing you want me to be your personal servant and patch up your clothes, whilst you're busy gallivanting above deck."

Archie chuckled softly at that remark. "Gallivantin' huh? That's just my job. Sewin' kit's in that chest, it's unlocked. Don't make me regret actually trustin' ya fer once."

Maxie gasped in mock surprise, placing a hand over his heart. "For once the pirate captain Archie Brimsey trusts his prisoner! What strange magic is being cast upon this ship for something so drastic to happen?"

Another chuckle left Archie's throat, this one a lot more fonder in sound, leaving butterflies in Maxie's stomach. He ignored the feeling once again, watching as Archie left his quarters before picking up the clothes, a few shirts and trousers from the looks of it, as well as the spare parts of fabric to mend any holes. He then rummaged around in the chest before finding the sewing kit and got to work on mending his clothes, surprisingly not as irritated about the fact he was doing Archie's own manual labour than he should have been.

Sewing had been something Maxie picked up in his own spare time, despite his father's protests that his wife and servants would be the ones that focused on that type of work. Maxie had scoffed at him for being so stupid, not that he'd say it to his father's face. It wasn't that he didn't like his father, in fact he had loved the man greatly before his death a few years ago, but it was simply that he felt everyone should have basic knowledge on sewing so clothes were not wasted. Sailors were expected to know how to sew and repair their own clothing, it surprised Maxie that the rest of the world, however, did not.

His hands worked diligently as he cut out pieces of fabric to match the item of clothing he was repairing before sewing around it, making sure the patch of fabric was fitted securely. It would normally be quick work for the diplomat, yet he decided to take his time lest he finish early and then get scolded like some errand boy by the captain.

"I should be getting paid for this kind of work," he chuckled to himself as he focused on not getting himself stabbed by the needle. At least the practise had made his hand deft enough to avoid such silly accidents.

The work, much like untangling the ropes from before, ended up becoming repetitive enough for his hands to work without much thought, allowing Maxie the time to just let his mind wander and relax for a little while. It was an odd thought that he could actually relax in Archie's own quarters, but he chose not to dwell on it for too long. Who knew when he'd get a moment to relax like this again, like his life wasn't on the line every day he spent aboard The Leviathan.

In his relaxed state of mind, he didn't notice anyone enter the room, let alone walk over to him until it was too late, and a breath tickled his ear as he was spoken to.

"Never knew you could be so domestic."

Maxie startled, his hand moving just enough for his finger to prick on the end of the needle, making him hiss in pain and shove his finger into his mouth to stop any bleeding. He glared up at the amused face of Archie, though he realised the look may have lost a bit of effect what with him currently sucking on his own finger like a child.

"Do you mind sneaking up on me when I have sharp objects in my hand?" He complained once he'd pulled his finger out of his mouth. "If that needle had been somewhat dirty-"

"Easy Red, no need to get yer bloomers in a twist," Archie stopped him with an amused lilt to his voice.

"I'm not wearing any bloomers."

"Is that an invitation fer me to check?" Archie's eyebrows wiggled a little as he asked this.

Maxie harrumphed and smacked Archie's lingering hand away. "No it was bloody well not, you savage beast. Besides, I'd rather not talk about any escapades you and I have had or will have."

"So yer sayin'…"

Maxie growled and leant up to sneer in Archie's face. "Whatever thoughts you have, stop them right now or this needle will stab you."

Archie burst into laughter and backed away, which Maxie was only mildly grateful for. "Oh Red, yer one funny fella!"

Maxie chose not to comment and instead stood back up, stretching his back out a little from the hunched over position he'd been in. He wasn't getting any younger it seemed. He then got to work putting the needle back into the sewing kit, shoving the new pile of fixed clothing into Archie's arms.

"Since I'm such a nice man, I've fixed all your ratty clothing. But I do wonder where you got such a wonderful little sewing kit from. It seems a bit too fancy for your tastes to me," he commented, throwing Archie a confused look.

"I got it the same way I get everythin'. Raided a fancy ship and one of the women on board was carryin' this in her room. Thought it'd be pretty helpful to have so took it and a few other things before leavin' them to go on their merry little way."

"How quaint of you to decide that you needed a kit like this." Maxie chuckled at the look he got from Archie. "Now, do you mind answering why you decided to come and interrupt my work?"

"Oi, cut the lip Red, remember who yer talkin' to. I'm here to, politely, say that we've reached the island. My crew are just dockin' the old girl up as we speak."

Maxie decided it wouldn't hurt to investigate where they were so gestured for Archie to lead the way, following him out onto the deck. Most of the crew were busy sorting out the mooring and anchorage, making sure she would stay put throughout the night. It was quite a busy affair, and Archie still managed to keep them organised throughout, barking out orders when Matt or even Shelly didn't.

"So we're staying here for the night until she's fully repaired?" Maxie asked, watching the organised chaos with his own eyes.

"It's more a safety precaution than anythin'. If we discover there's more damage, we're at least able to fix 'er up without worryin' about a potential leakage," Archie explained, waiting until the ship was successfully moored up before calling out to his crew. "It's gettin' late, I suggest we get some grub!"

A chorus of shouts came from the crew and the thought of food made Maxie realise that he actually hadn't eaten all day, his stomach rumbling as if to agree with him. Archie gave him a look, something between a strange mix of pity and amusement. "Sounds like yer agreein' to the idea of a meal there."

Maxie couldn't really disagree with that.

***

Dinner that night, like the one prior, was a chaotic and yet joyous affair for the crew. To celebrate getting through the coral reef relatively unscathed, Archie allowed his crew to open up a keg of beer, something they'd been saving for a special occasion for a while if the shouts and cheers from the crew as it was brought out were any indication. Maxie wouldn't have considered the possible idea that The Leviathan might need major repairs a cause for celebration, but he wasn't the captain and he didn't know Archie's crew like Archie did.

Food that night was relatively simple, a mix of dried beans, salted meat and a loaf of hard bread. Maxie pointedly made a show of ignoring the bread, to which Archie took it and soaked up his rum with it. When Maxie gave him a disgusted stare, the pirate simply grinned. He sighed heavily, before beginning to eat his own meal, too hungry to even deal with throwing a fuss at the quality of the food.

He was halfway through his meal when one of the crew pointed a knife at him, giving him a rather intrigued yet also scrutinising stare. Maxie bristled and was prepared to shout, or get Archie to control his boisterous lot, before the sailor laughed.

"Oi, Red, who did a number on yer neck!?" he asked, to which various other crew members, Shelly included, began staring at him.

He felt his appetite drop almost instantly, leaning back as if trying to distance himself from their questioning gazes. It didn't take a genius to know the sailor was talking about the bite marks on his neck, which had obviously become more visible since the time he'd applied whatever makeup Shelly had used on the marks. He was about to bark at them to mind their own business, but Archie pushed in.

"I did," he replied, picking at his nails absentmindedly.

Maxie wasn't sure whether his comment made things better or worse, and was tempted to leave so he didn't have to find out. Instead, he glared at the captain, the glare getting worse when Archie continued to ignore him.

"Cap'n, didn't ya say that we weren't allowed to sleep with the enemy?" another sailor pointed out, to a few mumbles of agreement.

Archie shrugged, looking at them as he sat upright. "I'm the captain, I do whatever the fuck I like."

"But-"

"No buts. What I do with Red's up to me and me alone, ya got it? Besides, I don't plan to let whatever happens between Red and I to interfere with my feelings." Here, he finally turned his gaze to Maxie, and the diplomat made a show of looking as disgusted as he could. "I could fuck ya everyday, and still want every fat cat friend of yers dead at my feet."

Normally Maxie would scoff at the words, but the way Archie said them so matter-of-factly threw him off, and he could only manage a sneer. Archie seemed to notice this lack of a response, his lips curling up into a disturbing grin. This grin finally gave Maxie the ability to speak his mind.

"I don't plan to make a habit of sleeping with you. Go find a whore to fuck, I'm sure they can be more satisfied than I was."

Archie chuckled as the crew all made various sounds of shock, some even saying that Maxie was blatantly lying. Maxie kept his face neutral, even as his mind played back their first night sleeping together, the overwhelming arousal that had coursed through his body as he'd rutted against Archie's thigh, the feeling of Archie's body beneath his fingers. It had, Maxie realised with a slight hint of despair, been one of the best fucks of recent years, and that alone was enough to make Maxie cringe if he hadn't been keeping a sharp check on his expression.

As the crew continued their celebrations, Maxie couldn't help but wonder why he felt that way about sleeping with Archie one time. In the end of his dwelling, he decided that it was because he didn't have to hide away his pleasure. Unlike back at home, where he'd have a quick fuck with some random nobleman and forget his name the next day, there seemed to be something more to this encounter with Archie.

The idea of what that something more could have been, however, was the final straw in Maxie's train of thought. He decided that he was simply tired, and a good night's rest would clear any subsiding thoughts about sex with Archie. He made a show of getting up, being caught by Archie's hand around his arm a split second later. Deigning not to react, Maxie turned and gave Archie a bored look.

"Where d'ya think yer goin' Red? The party's just begun."

"Unlike you animals, I try to make a habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour. Anyway, I'm tired after you decided to lock me up in that cubby hole you call a cell."

"Serves ya right for punchin' me. But, since I'm feelin' amiable, I'll escort ya back to my cabin," Archie replied, standing up and holding his arm out much like some sort of cavalier. Maxie, and a few crew members, snorted with laughter, shaking his head and striding out of the room without even a glance back at Archie.

Of course he didn't get far before Archie grabbed his arm, making him grumble a quiet protest. "Stop being so damn handsy!"

"Just wanted to make sure ya didn't get yerself lost. Wouldn't feel good if my favourite redhead hurt himself navigatin' the treacherous depths of my ship."

Maxie barked out a laugh, short and loud as he turned to face the pirate. "Stop lying to both me and yourself. You were just dying to stay in the company of The Great Maxie McDewitt for a little while longer."

Archie's look turned gentle as he reached out, cupping Maxie's chin with his hand and pulling their faces a little closer, their lips inches away.

"And what if I was?" he asked, voice hardly recognisable in its low, quiet tone. His warm breath hit Maxie's face, carrying along with it the scent of the rum he'd had that night.

Maxie blinked slowly before bringing himself back to reality, placing his hands on Archie's chest and pushing him away. His heart was racing furiously in his chest as he turned around.

"Goodnight, Archie."

And with that, he escaped to the privacy of his small room, determined not to dwell on whatever weird feelings were forming between the two.

***

The night's sleep Maxie had was, surprisingly, uneventful. Despite his mind reeling with the situation with Archie, he'd fallen asleep as soon as he was curled up in the hammock, listening to the sound of the water and the boat's creaking. It was a comforting distraction, one he used until dreams had taken over. When his eyes had opened, he realised it was not even dawn yet, groaning to himself before curling up some more, content with the idea of getting at least an hour's more shut eye.

That was until there came a rather gruff, deep and yet commanding voice from his doorway.

"Oi, stop with the eyelid inspection. 's time to get up yer Highness," Archie said, making Maxie groan again before he sat up, running a hand across his face. He could notice a bit of stubble across his cheeks, and he made a mental note to rummage around his pack for a shaving kit later.

"What do you call this time?" he grumbled, voice still rough with sleep.

"I call it 'Time fer Red to wake the fuck up'. Sounds pretty catchy if ya ask me," Archie replied, chuckling as he made his way forward. He stopped just short of the hammock, a look of mirth on his face at the glare he received.

"Your crew aren't even up yet, it's way too quiet," Maxie commented, even as he swung out of the hammock and wandered over to his pile of clothes.

"Most of 'em drunk themselves into a stupor last night, so I figured I'd let 'em have a bit of a sleep in. Can't say I'm not nice."

"What a charmer," Maxie muttered as he turned his back to Archie, too tired to even care that the captain was there as he slipped out of his nightgown and into the shirt and trousers he'd been expected to wear on board the ship now. They were beginning to feel familiar, comfortable even, which made Maxie wonder what had happened.

He decided seconds later it was way too early to be thinking about that and instead turned to see the captain watching him, eyebrow raised slightly. When Maxie gave him a questioning look, Archie simply chuckled.

"Just a few days ago ya were hidin' yer body from me like a blushin' maiden and now yer gettin' changed right before my eyes," here he whistled low. "Thanks for the show."

It took a minute for the words to register in Maxie's sleep addled brain but when they did he felt heat rise to his cheeks. Gritting his teeth, he glared at the captain once again, hands clenching into tight fists.

"This means nothing, you hear me? Now, explain to me why you're waking me up at this hour before I make you regret it."

Archie put his hands up, backing away slowly in a sign of surrender. "Easy there Red. I'm wakin' ya up because I feel we could have a little sparrin' session together. There's no way out of this so meet me on the deck when yer ready, I'm gonna teach ya how to fight like one of us."

Without even waiting to see what Maxie thought of this, Archie made his way out of his quarters, leaving the diplomat a little disorientated. He recovered quickly, grabbing the red ribbon he used to tie his hair back, shoving it into a messy ponytail, before heading out to Archie's quarters. A bowl of water sat next to a half empty jug and a towel, which Maxie was all too happy to use. After a quick scrub at his face, he deemed himself at least somewhat presentable and made his way above deck.

Archie was standing near the mast, two cutlasses in his hands. The sun was only just beginning to rise over the horizon, making the scene look somewhat serene. When he noticed Maxie, he beckoned him over with a nod of his head, passing him one of the blades wordlessly.

"You do realise I've hardly used a sword like this before, right?" Maxie inquired as he inspected the blade.

"Yep. I'm hopin' to teach ya some things if ya spar against me today. That small sword of yers is mighty fancy, but against pirates it might break. If that happens, yer gonna be defenceless, and I ain't always around to save yer sorry ass."

Archie stepped back a bit, placing his own blade out in front of him vertically. He pointed to the lower part of the blade, making sure Maxie was watching before explaining that that was where you parried. He then explained how it was much duller than the upper half, which is where all the damage came from.

"Cutlasses are kinda an ideal weapon for us pirates. You'll be happy to know that they're mostly used for thrustin', though you can also use it like more common swords."

Maxie inspected his own cutlass, watching the reflection of the ocean in the blade. It was a little longer than his own sword, slightly heavier too. Its hilt, whilst less intricate than Maxie's own, was designed in a very similar way, just not made exactly for Maxie's palm.

"This seems pretty dangerous," he commented as he investigated the hilt a little more.

"It is, that's why. This blade's designed so that yer gonna be able to use it anyway ya want to attack. The hilt's specifically designed to allow fer protection and punchin' an enemy in the face. Pretty fun to do, ya should right it sometime."

"Are you suggesting I try it on you?" Maxie asked with a smirk, watching as a surprised look crossed Archie's face before he smoothed it down.

"If ya ever decide to mutiny, I'll make sure to watch out for that uppercut."

Maxie's smirk got wider as he settled into position, knowing the ideal way to fight with a weapon similar to his own. Archie seemed to watch him for a moment before he settled into his own position, blade poised at the ready.

"Treat this like any practise sparrin' match. I wanna see ya fight like ya mean it," Archie said, before lunging at him.

Despite the suddenness, Maxie had seen that move coming from the way Archie had positioned himself, bringing the blade up to deflect, the dull twang of steel meeting steel making him smirk in delight. He noticed Archie's left side was open and swung towards it, his blade cut short by a quick deflection.

"Ya gotta surprise me more, I can read ya like a book!" Archie said and something about that changed triggered a change in Maxie's response as he put more effort into the fight.

Their sparring session became more daring and intense, with the two making somewhat stupid moves to try and get the upper hand. Their feelings towards one another, the weird animosity that Maxie feared was turning into something more than that, drove the two to fight as if they were fighting properly. They were acting like their own life was on the line, and Maxie found a thrill run through him, allowing him to just let loose. It was like the raid by the privateers again, but this time the feelings were amplified as it was Archie who he was fighting, the very man who'd gotten him into this entire situation.

And oh what a sight Archie looked before him. There was a fire in his eyes, a wild look that was reminiscent of a summer storm. The exertion had caused a sweat to break out across Archie's body, the rising sun making it glisten in a way that, to simply put it, was highly attractive. In that moment, Archie looked like an ideal captain, one that Maxie would have wanted to fight alongside, to obey and sail with.

And then, Archie's tongue darted out to lick the sweat off his top lip.

The action sent a spike of arousal coursing through Maxie's body, causing him to lose his footing, narrowly dodging the swing of Archie's sword. The captain scoffed loudly, backing away a little to allow Maxie the chance to recover.

"Get yer head outta the clouds!" he scolded, voice rough in a way that sent a shudder through Maxie's entire body. "Fight me like ya fuckin' mean it, Red!"

Maxie didn't have to be told twice.

Clearing his head, he charged at Archie, crying out as he did so. The captain smirked in delight, parrying each and every strike and thrust of his blade. Maxie had never fought like this before, not even when trying to save his own life, and the thrill of the battle sang through his veins. He wondered if this was what pirates felt like every time they raided another ship, but cleared those thoughts and focused entirely on Archie, stepping away like some sort of dancer from whatever attack he tried to land. A bark of laughter left his lips as a flurry of quick attacks drove Archie back, noticing his change in expression. There was want in those eyes of his, a want that seemed more intense than before, and Maxie couldn't say that the want was only one sided.

Thinking he had the upper hand, Maxie relaxed a little and let up the flurry of attacks, playing it off as simply being tired by his sudden charge. This was the biggest mistake he'd ever made, had he not made this one error, he could have bested the infamous pirate Archie Brimsey.

As he'd let up, Archie had used that small opening to his advantage. With a quick strike, his fist had connected with Maxie, managing to wind the diplomat just enough for him to lose his grip on his blade. It fell to the deck with a clatter as he clutched at his stomach, and that was all Archie needed to push Maxie back, his cutlass pointed right at his throat.

A sudden silence filled the air around them, both men panting harshly as they stared into one another's eyes. The fire was still brimming in Archie's though Maxie could see the intensity die down, the storm beginning to recede. Maxie felt hopeless as he stared at those eyes, wondering what Archie would do next, if he'd give in to whatever desire he had and plunge the blade just that bit further.

Of course he wouldn't.

"You wouldn't harm an asset to treasure," Maxie rasped out, finally straightening up properly.

Archie's gaze darkened somewhat before he pulled the blade back. Maxie closed his eyes, expecting a strike, or something, but instead opened them again as he heard the clang of steel, Archie's hand outstretched, the sword fallen from his grip.

"Yer right."

That was all Archie said as he stepped forward, pressing their lips together.