Title: Million Years Ago
Category: Television Shows» Black Sails
Author: And The Moment's Gone
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T+
Warnings/Spoilers: Written for Tumblr's BSBackstory15. You don't need to know anything.
Official Disclaimer: All Black Sails characters and plots belong to Starz, and Michael Bay, I do not hold stock either the company or the man. Charles Vane, Eleanor Guthrie, and any other character recognized are NOT mine. The title comes from the Adele song Million Years Ago and I don't own that either.
It was never a new thing to Eleanor to wake up alone.
She had learned early on that while her bed was considerably more comfortable than the rugs he had piled in his tent, it wasn't necessarily conducive to Charles actually resting. He had never had the opportunity to become accustomed to even the tiny bit of finery that Eleanor had been allowed.
It wasn't even a new thing to wake and discover that Charles and his ship had left the bay. He hunted when the mood struck, and if the mood happened after an extremely long romp, well, neither one of them were much for long goodbyes.
He'd left her body pleasantly aching, and her mind remarkably numb, and she couldn't help the groan that erupted from her lips when her thighs shifted together.
Would there ever be a man that could sate her the same way as Charles Vane?
She decided that it was doubtful, especially after discovering that the had left with a large jug of water, a plate of dried meat, and a change of clothes. Practical as well as prepared
After washing herself, and having breakfast, Eleanor contented herself to lie back down on the myriad of rugs that served as Vane's mattress. She'd been used, often and not entirely gently, during the night, and for once; she didn't care about duty or propriety. If Charles had no issue leaving her in his tent, she would take none with staying there for the bulk of the afternoon. Mister Scott would just have to forgive her absence. They would both agree later that she deserved it, after all.
One of the men, who introduced himself as deckhand Bixby, brought her a light lunch, and then an offering from the tavern for her supper. He was polite, and when she offered thanks he smiled and informed her that he was doing no more than he had been told when the Ranger had shipped out. He and a few others that had been left behind had three others to look after – in various stages of injury – and one more wasn't a bother.
Eleanor had to bite her lip to refrain from asking where Charles had found such a polite pirate for his crew.
She had thought that Hornigold and Flint had cornered the market on those.
Night had come quickly, and she'd chosen to remain in the tent. No one had shown up to claim her, and Mister Scott hadn't sent word that she had been needed. Surrounded by the warmth of one of the most notorious pirate captains – and the comfort of knowing that his men protected her – Eleanor didn't surface again until the morning.
She was awakened later than usual, with Bixby and one of Mister Scott's men on the other side of the tent, arguing as to whether or not the summons should make it to Miss Guthrie.
Having the added benefit of not needed to scramble to dress, Eleanor adjusted her clothing and slid through the flaps, not even bothering to care about the state of her hair. "Beggin' your pardon, ma'am." The man standing before Bixby looked terrified, and Eleanor took note that he at least did so without pissing himself. She really wished that Scott would stop hiring boys from the interior hell-bent on making a name for themselves. "But Mister Scott says that it's time for you to return to your duties."
"And Captain Vane said that she's not to be bothered," Bixby's words were punctuated by his hand on the hilt of his sword.
"It's all right, gentlemen." She used that term loosely. "I've already hidden one day away." She pulled her hair into a twist, securing it with a hair stick. "If I recluse myself any longer, the island just may fall into the sea." She patted the messenger and allowed the flap of the tent to fall behind her. "Mister Bixby, thank you for your hospitality." She knew full well that he hadn't exactly had a choice in the matter, "Mister Long, lead the way."
She didn't need the poor boy to tell her that when she'd almost made it out of sight, Bixby was following behind them.
Eleanor's breath hitched as she turned, forcing a smile firmly in place. If there was ever a night when she had less patience for the rest of the world, it would have been tonight. She'd seen to the reorganizing of one of the south warehouses – because she didn't care what Scott said, she wanted a full count of goods to be put on the next ship and she didn't care about her father's system – and then she'd taken meetings with the captains that required them. The Walrus would be setting out in a day or so, and it relieved her to know that Flint had respected her enough to inform her of this before she passed on information from Tortuga. She'd seen Naft and Lawrence, giving them little scraps and listening to them bitch about lack of fortunes, and the last thing she really needed was to be forced to entertain her father's men at her tavern.
Why couldn't she have gone to spend her night down on the beach?
There was a nod from Mister Gates as she stood tall, and she was more than a little relieved to know that even without her usual protection, she was not truly alone.
The rest of her body relaxed when she realized that a lone Mister Hammond had called her over to the bar. Her father and the rest of the street that was crawling to kiss his ass was nowhere to be seen.
It seemed God truly granted small favors sometimes.
"Mister Hammond," from his place by the doors, Gates wondered if she actually realized that she had given him the slightest of headshakes, to show that his assistance hadn't been needed. Her brow furrowed and he noticed that he wasn't the only one watching her. Maybe the nod hadn't been for him after all. "What brings you to Nassau?"
"I had expressed interest in the appeal of the bay," he gestured somewhere behind her, and Eleanor's mind surveyed the layout and decided that he was motioning to her office, where Mister Scott would be standing guard as he always did. "Your retainer was kind enough to offer to serve as guide after the warehouse was closed for the night."
The part of her brain that scolded Scott for his 'generosity' was the same part that reminded her that she had more or less abandoned him at dinner with her father, and he would have needed to curry favor by any means necessary. And it wasn't as if she had any objection to Christopher Hammond other than her father's apparent desire to see her married and possibly shipped off the island. Neither of which was his Hammond's fault.
"And how do you find the island?" She gestured to one of the serving girls to bring her her own mug and placed herself on the stool next to Hammond. "Is it every bit as terrifying as you expected it to be?"
"Not quite," Hammond's eyes crinkled at the corners. "Your father made it sound like there was whoring and murder in the streets, and filth and refuse everywhere."
That's because that's what it looked like when he ran away from here. "Mister Scott tried to warn him that Nassau was not the same animal he left years ago." Taking the mug, Eleanor dropped a few coins on the counter. "And as for the murder," had she consciously thrown a glance to Mister Bixby on the other side of the room? "There are more than a few ships missing from the bay." Her smile was brighter as she leaned forward. "Perhaps you just caught Nassau at one of her tamer moments."
"Is there such an animal?" The hair on the back of her next stood straight, and Eleanor ignored it as she hummed her confusion. There were too many eyes on her to start getting paranoid now. "A tame Nassau?"
"Some days more than others," she agreed. "Most captains encourage their crews to save their energies for the whores and prize crews." If Hammond was discouraged at her bluntness, he didn't show it. One of the outer doors banged, and a cheer went up as tired, but relatively unharmed men that she recognized from the Ranger came thundering in and shouting for rum and entertainment. "Then there are simply days when there are only quiet moments"
Hammond seemed rapt as some of the more dressed ladies from Noonan's seemed to appear out of nowhere, and men from the Reliant were relieved of their table so a game of card could be started. Jack had appeared out of nowhere – sans Anne – and he handed a bag of coin to Mister Scott as he called for a round for his 'dedicated and prosperous' friends.
The bag was weighed carefully before Scott nodded to the serving girls.
"I take it a 'hunt,'" Hammond's lips tripped over the word, "Was successful?"
"For the Ranger," Jack tipped his hat in Eleanor's direction, and she felt her breath coming easier. Charles was fine, and she would see him soon. "Hunts are always successful."
"Ranger," Hammond seemed to test the word on his tongue. "That would be the infamous Charles Vane, wouldn't it?"
As if just saying his name would make the man appear, Charles was suddenly in the doorway, Anne at his side, both in coats that were too long and hot for the summer season. Eleanor's eyes met his, and she allowed for a smile even as she rolled her eyes at his appearance. "Yes," the word was stronger than her last, and she didn't care if Hammond was watching her. "Yes, it would."
He dismissed Anne with a nod, reminding her to keep the men's mouths shut about where they'd been, and he passed a small coin purse to Bixby on his way around the room. The man had done the job he had been left behind to do, and hadn't complained to Jack or Vane when he had been told to do it, so a portion of their prize would be distributed to him equally. Vane was making the long trip around the room to the bar, and he couldn't help cursing his luck that this was where he found her.
The prize may have been great, and the hunt completely worth it in his opinion, but with no actual fight, and two days at sea, he was wound tighter than last time.
"Mistress Guthrie." His voice was low and careful, and he eyed the man seated next to his lover with a wary eye. "I trust you're faring better than the last time I saw you?"
"Much," Bixby would inform Charles that she had slept the day away, and most of the night, only venturing out of camp for food before returning to her duties just this morning. She would be able to avoid his arrogant smirk for a few more hours, at least, at the thought of her seeking refuge in his bed, even if he wasn't in it. "Thank you." There was no teasing in those words. "And I trust that the Guthrie warehouses will see the bounty of your plunder in the morning?"
He matched her smirk, even as he relieved the plate in front of her of a piece of mutton. "The entirety of my hold is yours whenever you're ready to have it delivered." Charles cast a glance to the man beside her. "This one will require your seal alone."
Eleanor almost choked on her ale.
Had Charles Vane just informed one of her father's men that he would only relinquish his prizes to her?
"Business can hold until tomorrow," she took a deep breath, her hand immediately dropping to her side, to run itself against Charles's leg in warning from the cover of her skirt. She was more than well aware of their audience, even if he wasn't. "But might I introduce to you one of my father's partners? He's recently arrived from London to assess the business." Eleanor gestured to Hammond with flourish. "Mister Christopher Hammond, Captain Charles Vane. Of the Ranger."
It took everything in Charles not to growl. Two days at sea and an unsatisfying plunder did nothing to make him forget that Richard Guthrie had set his sights on seeing his daughter properly wedded, and most likely to the man in front of him. Although it didn't allow him time to consider why that bothered him so.
"Mister Hammond," Charles was brought back to himself by Eleanor's free hand sliding from his knee to his hip. Why was it that no one noticed this but him?
"Captain Vane." Hammond gulped. It was one thing to discuss meeting some of the pirate captains. It was another thing entirely to stand toe to toe with one. "Pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Scott could read Vane's annoyance from the other side of the room. He cast Eleanor a side eye, which might have had more to do with the fact that she wouldn't stop touching him, and grunted his response.
"Excuse me." Scott slid past Vane and glared sternly at his charge. While the bar and her skirts hid her actions, Vane's face was on clear display, and Scott did not approve of her recklessness. She could flirt and dally when her father's man was out of the establishment. "Mister Hammond, you're going to have to leave soon if you're to make it back to the island before the channel gets rough." When Hammond looked worried, Eleanor rolled her eyes.
Scott's jaw was set, and he managed to sneak in a swat to her knee while their guest was searching his leather wallet for the coins needed to pay for his meal. "We best get going then."
"Your meal is on the house." Eleanor was on her feet next, and her knees buckled when Charles retaliated – by freeing a slither of the tail of her shirt from the hem of her skirt, and running his fingers over the skin of her back. "With my compliments." Had Charles not caught hold of the flesh of her hip, she just might have fallen over.
Was there ever going to be a time when she was immune to his touch?
"Yes," Hammond looked confused for a moment, his eyes moving from his plate to Eleanor, and back again. "Thank you, Miss Guthrie."
Eleanor's heel applied enough pressure on Charles's toe for him to release her, and she offered Mister Hammond her hand. "I hope to see you in the square soon." A nod to her retainer and Eleanor's smile wasn't faked. "Mister Scott will see you to the beach."
The second Hammond was out of sight; Eleanor's laughter rang through the room. "You are horrible." She all but scolded, finally turning the whole of her body to Charles. She relieved a serving girl of a large mug of rum for Charles and took another sip of her own ale.
"I do believe you started that," Charles caught sight of Anne sliding back down the staircase that led to the upper levels, and nodded precisely. That was one less thing that he had to worry about tonight.
"Yes," Eleanor was trying so very hard to remember her list of reasons as to why she couldn't kiss him right there. "Because the great Charles Vane needs the excuses of a schoolboy." She emphasized the words by pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, trying to stifle another laugh.
He stepped closer to her now, his hand dropping back to her hip, fingers finding flesh. "The great Charles Vane needs to ravish you."
She swallowed instinctively, mug slipping from her fingers.
Eleanor would find time to be thankful later, that she had merely been resting her arm on the counter, fingers holding the glassware hovering over the bar.
She glanced around the room, noting that the patronage at the moment was dominantly Charles's own crew and that from the Walrus. She'd had Charles's man following her around all day, and had spent the last three nights in his tent. If her father had spies on her, it was likely that they knew of this already. "Upstairs," she slid a sweaty palm over her skirts as their eyes met.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Charles could be chivalrous when the need arose. And he wasn't looking forward to Scott's displeasure if she was judging wrong.
Taking his belt in one hand, Eleanor turned and made pulled him through the kitchen to the back stairs, pausing only briefly to allow him to pin her to the wall on the landing. "I'm not going to live in fear of Richard Guthrie," she let out breathlessly, and he loosened the stays on her bodice and nipped her collarbone. His eyebrow rose, and she smiled. "And the odds of him hiding a man downstairs with your rabble is extremely slim."
This pulled a laugh from Charles's throat, and he picked her up to take her the rest of the way to her room.
He was gone when she awoke, again. And she stretched her limbs in the comfort of her own room before padding to the standing mirror to assess the damage that the past few days had wrought on her body. There were bruises on her hips, and a rather impressive bite on her torso, but nothing that Vane had caused would require any more care than usual. She could even forgo her kerchief and bodice since the day was already promising to be hotter than the last.
She dressed leisurely, donning her favorite thin blouse, and linen skirts, coin purse hooking to her ever-present keys. Her rings were still on her fingers, and the thick, beaded bracelets that Mister Scott had presented to her when he had decided her ready to spearhead the businesses was still on her wrist. Eleanor honestly couldn't remember if she had worn a necklace the night before, and running her hand over the hollow of her throat, she sincerely hoped if she had, it wasn't one of her favorites. She opted for the chunky golden chain that she had been told was one of her mother's favorites.
Opening the top drawer of her chest, she absently ran her hand over the edge, to find the pouch that contained her mother's jewelry.
Her body shook when her fingers touched linen instead of velvet, and her eyes snapped to the drawer. Please don't let anything have happened to the pouch.
But it was still there, albeit moved slightly to the left.
In its usual place sat a package, dressed with a thin linen finchu, embroidered in leaf, vine, and floral spray. She peeled the cloth back carefully, setting it aside as she turned the gift over in her hands.
It was a plain green cover, scuffed and rough with use, and she brushed her fingers over the gilt border, the sunlight catching it in a way that used to mesmerize her when she was a girl. Eleanor could picture it in a stack, perched haphazardly but with purpose, on the edge of the wooden desk in the middle of her mother's sanctuary. And the world stopped as she sank to the floor, clutching her mother's book to her chest, eyes red.
Half an hour later, when the sobs slowed, and Scott knocked at her door to remind her that she had appointments for the day; Eleanor actually opened the book, flipping through the pages. A flower slid carelessly out from it's secured place on a page, stem still stuck in the bindings, and Eleanor dropped her finger there to hold its place while she examined the flora. It was a yellow elder, something that she actually kept frequently in her room whenever she had time to sneak away and collect them, and one of the kitchen girls had actually brought up a fresh vase sometime the day before.
Looking across the room led her to believe that this very flower had been plucked out of the vase not too terribly long ago.
Her eyes rolled again and she thought of the man who had left her sleeping. Charles Vane could be accused of a great many things. None of them was being a romantic. But she couldn't help her curiosity, flipping the book open to the page her finger still kept, and scanning the words.
She'd been wrong about things before, she decided, pulling herself to her feet and tucking the book and the fichu back into its place in the drawer. Instead of reaching for the pouch, however, she opted for the small wooden box pushed into the corner and the moonstone pendant that lay within.
She had a 'thank you' to make.