Billy’s been around much too long to let someone like John-fucking-Silver get under his skin.
But that doesn’t mean that he turns a blind eye to the man – he still tracks him, presses in close to use his height to intimidate. He’s seen a hundred John Silvers in his almost two millennia of existence, so Billy knows which buttons to push, knows how to manipulate without being obvious at all.
Billy thinks everything could work out just fine with Silver if Flint just dropped his pursuit of the Urca gold. But there’s something else going on, too, something else working on Flint’s mind that Billy isn’t privy to.
It makes Billy grit his teeth.
Aggravated, he returns his attention to Silver.
It’s easy – getting Silver first on his knees, then on his back.
Billy plays at being dumb, lets Silver think he was the one seducing Billy instead of the other way around.
Billy lets John ride him – lets him fuck himself on Billy’s dick. All the while, Billy smirks and tightens his fingers around John’s neck, the hold just this side of too much and it’s the hardest either of them of have come in a long time.
Flint’s hand slips and Billy loses his footing and it’s been a long time since he’s been well and truly tortured.
The captain of the Scarborough pours water on his face and Billy laughs even as his broken ribs dig into his lungs, his stomach.
“I needed this,” he rasps, trying his best to smirk, voice hoarse as blinks up at Hume – the man outlined by the sun. Billy whets his bloodlust against this type of pain, digs down deep into himself as he remembers the feral side of him that used to relish in this type of enduring, endless pain; he remembers the smell of mud and leather and horse sweat, remembers what it was like when his body was always heavy with exhaustion and always wet from rain and blood.
He starts coughing, feels liquid in his lungs, and knows that his ribs have finally punctured through to his lungs. He covers the cough with a giggle.
Captain Hume snorts and walks away and Billy’s gargled laughter follows after him.
Billy dies that night from a stroke, but he’s awake again by the time the sun rises, so it goes unnoticed. He wonders what the crew of the Walrus is up to, wonders what Flint said to them that night or if he was even still captain.
Captain Hume narrows his eyes down at Billy, a hand resting on his flintlock.
“Now, before you make any rash decisions,” Billy starts to say, but he doesn’t get to finish the thought as the captain pulls the pistol out completely from the holster and fires one shot between Billy’s eyes.
The feeling of a bullet bouncing around in his skull is one that Billy will never get used to (at least it ends quickly – much more quickly than a death any sword could give).
“How many rounds do you have?” Billy asks as Hume levels his pistol at Billy for the fifth time. “I just want to know how often I can expect this.”
Hume pulls the trigger.
“How many lives do you have?” Captain Hume asks as he puts another piece of chicken in front of Billy. Billy pointedly ignores the stack of pardons between them.
“Enough,” Billy says. The captain smirks. “What you should be asking, captain, is how long it will take for me to kill you,” Billy says, ripping a large chunk of flesh away from the chicken bone.
“As if you could,” Hume snorts, waving to his marines – their red coats shining like blood against the sand in the sun.
Billy doesn’t say anything to that – just smiles around another bite.
Billy waits for more questions and for more executions – but neither comes. Instead, he’s loaded onto a ship; and as soon as Nassau is within sight, Billy is pulled up from below decks.
“I’d say it’s been a pleasure,” Billy says to the marines unlocking the manacles from his wrist. “But it really hasn’t.” Over their shoulders, he meets the captain’s eyes and lifts a hand in a wave as he says, “Thanks for all the torture.”
“Remember our deal,” the captain calls out, then he nods to his marines and they turn back to Billy – shoving him overboard.
Billy is taken by the undertow more than once – breaking it by swimming off to the side – and when he finally makes it to shore, he’s collapses into the sand. He pukes up the salt water he’s swallowed and tries desperately to catch his breath – his muscles burning with his exhaustion.
Distantly, he hears shouting, and only has time to look up and see a man he only vaguely recognizes running towards him.
Then the world is lurching to the side and everything goes dark.
As soon as Billy sees what the crew’s become in his absence – angry and bitter and fickle in their loyalties – he knows exactly what he’s going to be doing with those pardons. He deals with Dufresne quickly and efficiently, wiping away any sort of lingering doubt with the rest of the crew. It reaffirms Billy’s position among them.
(A part of Billy had wanted to strangle Dufresne and the others for their betrayal – he’d wanted to slash them open and let their blood stain the sand. It was the feral side of him – the side he’d called up to deal with the torture.
Carefully, so carefully, Billy tries to re-bury that part of himself. Puts those urges back into the box he pulled them out of and turns the lock. Settling back into the persona he had carefully crafted for this life – charming, strong but not too strong, and naïve in some ways but dangerous in others.)
John tries to pick up where they left off – and Billy doesn’t hold back and then they’re fucking hard and fast in the same tent he’d chained Billy up in (the indignity of which something that Billy stored away – put it in a box next to his time with Hume), Billy pushing John’s face down into the sand and leaving a telling bruise on the back of John’s neck.
“Out of everyone on the crew, why are you fucking me?” John asks.
Billy bites down on his first response (“Who says you’re the only one I’m fucking?”) and asks, “Do you want to quit?”
Too quickly, John says, “No, that’s not what I said.”
Billy quirks an eyebrow and manages not to grin outwardly. “I guess it’s because you only mildly irritate me,” Billy says, looking out at the horizon and heaving a long-suffering sigh. He turns back to John and adds, “You’re pretty, too.”
John snorts and huffs and shakes his head, looking away from Billy. “Thanks. I think.”
Billy smiles – surprising himself when he realizes it was a genuine smile, that this was the first time since he’d been pushed over the side of the Scarborough that he had finally felt wholly relaxed. So he settles himself against the thin blankets and the barrel of rum and closes his eyes.
When Charles Vane comes in close, lowers his voice to a whisper and asks Billy to join his crew – Billy is so, so tempted.
Billy has, at this point in his exceedingly long life, made it a point to chase beautiful things.
And Charles was a beautiful thing. He was strong and sure and steady – overcoming his own slavery and his own doubts. He had grown into his own name in a way that not many could ever do – and Billy was attracted to that kind of strength like a moth to a flame.
And yet Billy thought about John Silver – his little human who smelled of rum and ambition and sweat; who had looked at Billy first with mistrust, then with awe. He was, somehow, enough to make Billy turn away from Vane.
(Besides, Charles was a pre-immortal, who had long been claimed by Blackbeard, so Billy knew this wouldn’t be the last he’d see of Charles.)
Their first time after John loses his leg, Billy tries to go easy on him. Up until John punches him in the face – then they’re back to their hard, fast, rough pace. And when John comes with an aborted shout, Billy knows half of it’s from the pain he’s in – but he doesn’t say anything.
Instead, he cleans them up and holds John close, letting him shake apart.
When it came to starting a legend, Billy knew all the tricks. He’d invented most of them.
He still felt bad about the whole King Arthur and Camelot thing. Arthur himself had just been a good stable boy Billy had been incredibly fond of before deciding to make him a king; then he’d roped in their friends and made them all knights. Billy really hadn’t meant for someone to find his writings a century later and take them for truth.
All this to say that Billy knew what he was doing. So he created a ghost, a monster, a rallying point for all pirates to fear and respect and follow. It was almost time for their war.
After Charles swings, Billy steals the body and puts a knife in his heart – preventing resurrection – before he buries him. He knows it won’t be long before Blackbeard gets the word and will want to come flying in, the English be damned. So he sends another messenger with a map to Charles body, the map only saying “hold a knife to my heart, yours lies here” next to the x marking the burial spot.
“What have you done?” John asks Billy as all the pirates of Nassau gather around him, armed and ready to fight.
“Made you a legend,” Billy answers, pressing a kiss to John’s temple. “These people needed someone to rally behind – you were the best candidate.”
“This will end bloody.”
“Of course it will,” Billy says, stepping away from John. “It was always going to end bloody.” A part of Billy wants to reassure John that it’d all turn out in the end, but he couldn’t lie – not this time. All wars were different – there was too much chaos and too many variables to account for. The best he can do is stick with John until the end, be it his own or John’s.
The first bullet hits Billy in the leg, the second and third hit him in the chest.
Over the sound of swords and guns, he hears John scream his name.
“Well that was fucked,” is the first thing Billy hears when he comes back. He sits straight up, coughing, before he looks around for the voice.
Blackbeard. Blackbeard who’s digging quickly in a spot Billy recognizes.
“If that boy ain’t here,” he says with a snarl, “I’m taking your head.”
Billy rolls his eyes and looks around. They’re alone; he catches only the faintest sounds of gunshots carried by the wind. “What’s the plan?” he asks, forcing himself to stand – stretching out the residual soreness in his chest, leg.
“I’ve got a little sloop waiting for us,” Blackbeard answers. “Silver saw me dragging you away, so we need to hurry the fuck off this island.”
Billy nods. The day was always going to come when he’d be forced to leave his shipmates and John behind. Either because he’d been killed or because too much time had passed and he’d yet to age.
“Found ‘im,” Blackbeard says. Billy goes over and helps him pull Charles Vane from the ground before throwing Charles over his shoulder.
Then they run.
Billy knows he shouldn’t be here – knows that he should’ve stayed with Charles and Edward in New York. But he has to see for himself if the man chasing after Flint’s long buried treasure was really who the rumors claimed him to be.
Billy finds the man in a smoky tavern, feeding seeds to a young parrot.
Billy takes a step forward, wanting to say something – anything – but he can’t. So he slips into a shadowed corner and watches. Just like he did when John was still a fresh face on The Walrus, claiming to be a cook and using all his wits to avoid the barrel end of Flint’s pistol. He watches as John coos at the parrot, calling it Flint, of all things.
He tries to stay at John’s back, doesn’t want any chance of him catching Billy out of the corner of his eye. But then three more men are walking in and Billy instantly recognizes Gunn. And he knows then that it was time to leave.
After they all settle around John, Billy walks toward the door.
And he can’t help himself – he throws one last look over his shoulder. John’s got the parrot on his shoulder and he’s laughing with Gunn and the others and—he looks up, catch’s Billy’s eye, and goes still. Billy turns away – acting as if the eye contact were by accident, playing at being just another stranger – and walks out the door.
John calls his name, but Billy doesn’t turn around.
Once he’s outside, Billy breaks into a run – ducking into an alley to break the line of sight from the tavern. He doesn’t stop running until he hits the docks – John’s voice chasing him all the way.
Billy’s lived a long time and he’s known a hundred men like John Silver and he’ll probably meet a hundred more. But, for just a little while, this John Silver was able to crawl under Billy’s skin and into his heart, making a place for himself.
What they had wasn’t love, there’s not much left in Billy for that, but Billy did care.
The burning Long John Silver’s should prove that much.
“Was that really necessary?” Charles asks, his foot pressing the gas pedal to the floor.
“Not really,” Billy says, grinning at the fire in the rear view mirror. “But if your ex-husband hadn’t named his restaurant chain after someone I cared about we wouldn’t be here, now would we?”
Charles snaps something about Billy being too old for this nonsense and how he really needs to stop blaming others for his own psychosis – but Billy stops paying attention.
Instead he watches the flames lick at the night sky, remembers the way John’s eyes danced in firelight – and he smiles.