"Twenty lashes."

"Twenty-five!"

"Thirty!"

"Thirty-five!"

For a moment the two captains glared at each other and Pintel held his breath, momentarily hoping that the two would simply go back to arguing with each other about something else rather than how many lashes he should get for yelling at the two of them.

A wicked smile came to Barbossa's lips then and Pintel knew that it was useless.

"Forty-eight lashes!" he said, naming the maximum allowed for use with the cat-o-nine tails.

Jack puffed up for a moment but was momentarily tongue tied.

Barbossa nodded and turned to Gibbs.

"Gibbs! Get Pintel here ready for his lashes!"

"Belay that order!" Jack said suddenly, whirling around to look at Gibbs, his hair whirling around and smacking Barbossa in the face. "I'm the one who wants you to get the homunculus ready for his lashes!"

"You can't do that!" Barbossa snapped.

"Course I can! I'm the captain!"

Soon enough the two of them were shouting at each other again and Pintel was too afraid to walk away from the arguing captains, all the while cursing himself for trying to be captain himself.

Gibbs sighed and shook his head, placing his hands on his hips as he shrugged and started to walk over for Pintel. No matter which captain ordered it, the man was going to be beaten and…

In a flash of green and maroon Ragetti was down and standing in front of Gibbs and he started to whisper fervently in the older man's ear. When he was finished he looked at him meaningfully and Gibbs was forced to nod.

"Mr. Gibbs, I thought I gave you an order!" Barbossa snapped.

"No, I gave him an order!" Jack countered.

"Either way!" Barbossa growled and he pointed a threatening finger at Pintel. "This one needs to get rea…"

"I'm afraid I would be breaking the Code if I got him ready for a whipping, sirs." Gibbs said suddenly.

"What?" Barbossa snapped, unable to believe what he was hearing.

Ragetti looked down at the ground then, blushing as all eyes were on him and Gibbs now.

"It clearly states in the Code that if a man with a matelot is sentenced to the maximum amount of whippings, then his matelot on his own accord can take the whippings for him." Gibbs said calmly, unafraid of the two bickering captains. "Ragetti here has said that he is more than willing to take the lashes for Pintel."

Ragetti waved shyly, still looking down at the ground.

That woke Pintel up.

"'ell no!" he snapped and he went over to Ragetti, forcing him to look up at him. "Wot do ye thin' yer doin' taken' me lashes fer me?"

"I can take 'em." Ragetti said softly, looking down once more. "An'…I don' loik the idea o' ye gittin' beaten, Pinters!"

Pintel growled softly and was ready to argue about this when Barbossa and Jack stepped up, neither one of them wanting to look weak by rescinding the order.

"Fine then." Barbossa said simply and without warning he reached out and took Ragetti's wooden eye out, putting it into his pocket. "Get the thick skulled moron ready for his whipping then!"

"I knew the homunculus and his one-eyed friend were more than just mates!" Jack muttered.

Pintel wanted to argue further about this, but Gibbs shot him a look that told him to be quiet and he bit his tongue as Ragetti walked willingly with Gibbs to the main mast of the ship.

Soon enough word spread throughout the entire ship that a flogging was about to take place and Elizabeth wrinkled her nose in disgust at such a thing but unlike Will who refused to leave his cabin, she got up and left to see who it was and why.

What she found was a shirtless Ragetti, on his knees with his arms bound to the main mast. Despite the fact that it had been his choice to take the beating for Pintel, the young man couldn't help trembling, especially since Jack and Barbossa were still competing with each other.

Barbossa held a knotted cat in his hands but Jack had decided to add nine more straps to his own cat.

The two were currently arguing over who would get to deal the first twenty-four blows and then who would finish it.

"Disgusting…" Elizabeth whispered softly.

"I agree, poppet."

She gasped softly and whirled around and was surprised to see a miserable looking Pintel standing behind her.

"Twas supposed to be me o'er there." He said. "Bu' the daft fool wen' an' said 'e would take me place."

"He's…taking your place?" Pintel nodded and Elizabeth looked back and felt sorry for Ragetti as Jack won out and was currently stretching out dramatically, taking a few practice swings in the air before he then struck down on his shoulders.

His screams rang out throughout the entire ship and even Jack the monkey was forced to cover his ears and flee below deck.

Ragetti jerked badly with each blow and he shut his eye tightly as he felt warmth flowing down his back from the newly made lash marks opening old ones again.

When Jack was finished Ragetti was sobbing uncontrollably, but when Gibbs made him the offer of letting Pintel take the last twenty-four, he shook his head as his entire body shuddered.

"Jus' le' me take 'em, ye bloody daft fool!" Pintel shouted at him and Elizabeth thought that she saw tears forming in the grown man's eyes.

But Ragetti shook his head and rested his forehead on the mast, taking a deep breath as he tried to get ready for Barbossa.

Barbossa was older than Jack, stronger than Jack, and much more experienced with whipping his crew into shape. After two blows Ragetti was screaming again, but much louder than when Jack had been whipping him.

With a soft moan Ragetti slumped forward against the mast and it wasn't until after the twentieth lash dealt by Barbossa that they realized he had lost consciousness.

When Ragetti woke up hours later, he found himself laying on his stomach on his bunk; his head resting in Pintel's lap as the older man gently stroked his hair.

"Wot..?"

"Ye stupid git!" Pintel said softly. "Wot made ye go an' somethin' loik tha'?" he demanded.

Ragetti shrugged and immediately regretted it as his back suddenly came alive.

He whimpered and shut his eye tightly, trying to stop the tears from coming.

"Rags…" Pintel sighed.

"I don' loik seein' ye 'urt, Pinters." Ragetti argued softly. He flinched on reflex when he heard someone coming down into the bunk room and he blinked in surprise when his wooden eye was held out by Elizabeth.

"Barbossa told me to give this back to you." She explained softly.

"Fanks." Ragetti said softly, unable to reach out for it for fear that his back would protest violently about that.

Pintel took the eye for him and he smiled as he nodded to her.

"Fanks, poppet." He slipped the eye into his pocket then and he went back to running his fingers tenderly through Ragetti's hair, stroking the young man's cheek with the side of his thumb tenderly.

Ragetti smiled despite himself and slowly he turned his head to one side, kissing the palm of Pintel's hand.

His back was now covered with bloody lash scars, but to Pintel, this made the lanky pirate all the more attractive to him, because he had gotten those scars for him.

Elizabeth smiled at this display of real love between these two men and she nodded, leaving the two alone as she went back to Will.

"Will?"

"Yes?"

"Do you love me?" she asked. He turned and looked at her in confusion.

"What kind of question is that?" he demanded. "Of course I love you!"

"Do you love me enough to take forty-eight lashes for me?"

Will looked at her in utter confusion.

"What kind of stupid question is that?" he demanded.

Elizabeth's heart fell and she left the cabin once more.

If she was going to marry and be with someone for the rest of her life…she hoped that she would find someone who loved her as much as Ragetti and Pintel loved each other.