Based off The Secret Sharer, by Joseph Conrad. In Leggatt's POV, after he leaves the ship. May be taken as slashy (then again, so can the original, if you squint hard enough). I don't own the original story, and am not earning any money from this addition to it.
Of His Light
The dark water raged around me, tugging me down toward the deep eternity of the ocean's bottom. I gasped air and fought against the temptation to let myself fall into the waves. "Where are we?" a remembered voice cried my mind. "Lost!"
Yes, lost indeed: the sky and sea were as dark as Hell, so that I couldn't tell one from the other. It was the night of my desperate flight again. Because the land rose high enough to block out the town's light, I swam in complete darkness again, with no way to judge my direction but the ship's light that faded away behind me. For the second time in my life I was overtaken by the icy fear that I could swim in circles until my arms and legs weakened—slowed—and I sank down into the gentle mother ocean, who would rock me to sleep forever.
In my hopelessness, my strokes slowed. I was only returned to myself by the burn of saltwater in my nose and throat. "Hard alee!" a young man shouted. It was my captain, and his voice came from my right. With a thrill of horror, I realized that I really had gone off course. I was only the voice of my captain that had saved me from that worst of fates. I turned to the left; with his voice as my lighthouse guide, I corrected my course. Once again, I swam for the shore.
An unusually large wave roared over my head, shoving me down. When I came back up, coughing water and fighting against the downward pull, I discovered that the white hat had fallen off of my head. It was an absurd thing, anyway, I told myself; with its floppy brim and snow-white color, I'd stand out like Persephone in Hades' castle. The loss of it ached, though. My captain had given it to me, just before I'd left. It had taken me a moment to understand what he meant to do, because I was barely able to see the ghostly white of his hands and hat through the shadows. The room had been dark, although not as dark as the night around me now. He had shoved it at me without warning, his arms flailing in the darkness (I believe that he could see even less than I, in that darkness). It was a minor act of kindness on his part, I imagine, but it was the last piece of human kindness I would see for a very long time. The loss of it was like blowing out a candle on a moonless night.
He had clasped my hand after giving me the hat. That, at least, was a comfort to which I could cling. It would be my last human contact until I came out of hiding. I wouldn't forget it. No; that I would forget him was nearly as likely as forgetting that grasp- that desperate, hopeful clinging of one soul to another. Why was I cursed this way, to meet the one person who truly understood me, and then to have him ripped away so soon, never (never- never- never- echoing in my heart) to meet again? NO. I would meet him again. It was impossible that destiny could so cruelly tear us apart. I shall never give up hope. He had clasped my hand; I had that, still.
He was so like me. It gave me hope (yes, that word again) to know that there was one who was so like me and yet good. My innocent, kind double, who took a doomed murderer into his care and gave him a new life. Yes, a new life; hard though it may be, terrible though it was to leave him, these were only the birthing pains. Soon it would be easier. I would take this punishment, this loss of myself: and I would be a free man, I would strike out for a new destiny.
My feet found the rough, rock and sand beginning of the shore. Looking behind me, I saw a flash of white (the hat? a candle-flame?) and watched, aching, as the ship turned away. Yes, I would survive even the loss of my captain, the only light in this overwhelming darkness; but was the darkness worth it?