He stood up, placed his hat and sword on the table, and reached for her golden hair. It was still partially braided, and he wanted to see it down and cascading across her shoulders, and then, of course, across his pillow once she was in his bed.

Which, judging by the way she leaned back against him as he gently undid her braid, should be in about eight and a half minutes.

"I was never so glad to see anyone as I was to see you tonight," she said softly, clearly unopposed to what he was doing.

Make that seven minutes.

"Really?" he asked, breathing the question near her ear and then leaning even closer, wondering how she was going to react as he kissed her neck.

"Really," she said breathily, "I knew that you'd save me when I heard you draw your sword." The slightest gasp of pleasure escaped her lips as his met her throat.

Make that six minutes, he thought, but then frowned slightly as lower currents began to stir again.

Did she call for a sword to be drawn?

'Not yet! Ye'll scare her off, and then where will we be?' Barbossa demanded.

It's not like she doesn't know where this is headed.

'Aye, but you can wait another five minutes, can ye not?'

I suppose…

Buoyed by his success so far, Barbossa decided to flirt. "Well, 'twould not be just any woman that I'd find meself drawing my sword for." He did nothing to hide the obvious innuendo in the statement as he tasted more of her skin, and then frowned to himself again.

Oh, right. Like that's remotely true…

'Do ye mind? I'm tryin' to work here!'

Barbossa allowed himself a sinful smile as he wrapped one arm around Madeline's slender waist and pulled her gently but firmly back against himself, and she did nothing to resist him undoing the first button on his coat with his other fingers.

Another button came undone, and realizing he'd better be somewhere in the vicinity of the bed, so he didn't end up ravishing her on the table, (in a lusty, appealing, but decidedly unromantic way that might put a lady off the first time) he took her by the hand and raised it to his lips. "M'lady," he whispered, meeting her trusting gaze.

Slowly he led her to stand before his bed and turned her around to face him, at long last claiming the kiss he'd desired from her. The fact that she so willingly kissed him back, simultaneously thrilled him and did away with his attempt to be gentle, and he forced himself to pull away after a moment when he realized how fierce his kiss had become. It wouldn't do to scare her now. Which following through on his fleeting thoughts of bodily throwing her on the nearby bed would probably do, so Barbossa tried a different tack to alleviate her anxiety and ensure her continued acquiescence.

"Ye seem a bit nervous, lass," he said gently. It was clear that her apprehension arose from the impending tryst with him, and not just an impending tryst. He wouldn't have the honor of being her first, he knew; even if that dishonorable bilge rat Nigel hadn't actually managed such a thing, that fucking prat Bellamy had seen to that. No matter. Even if Bellamy had had her first, he would not have her again, ever, and Barbossa had the satisfaction of knowing that Madeline had considered her evening with Bellamy a mistake.

"'Tis not as if this be yer first time…nor even yer first with a pirate," he said slyly, teasing her to lighten the mood, amused by the look of initial insult on her face. He knew she was smart enough to comprehend that he was only teasing her, and she retorted smartly, trading flirtatious banter with him as he shrugged himself out of his waistcoat and shirt, and then pulled her onto his lap.

A few more teasing comments had her laughing as he held her, effectively dissipating any tension, but Barbossa, accustomed to women who were much more promiscuous than the willing but naïve young lady in his arms, suddenly realized he was momentarily at a loss. Certainly it would not be appropriate to throw her down and roger her heartily, as jolly as the thought might be, for no seasoned Tortuga whore had her arms around his neck at the moment, as anxious to get it over with as her customers were to get it up. No common strumpet smiled at him so demurely, meeting him with a look of undisguised longing and admiration. No painted harlot touched him the way she did now, with tentative but tender caresses across his shoulders and chest, simultaneously setting fire to his desire for her and soothing his restless soul.

It was clear to him, as it would be to anyone, from her earnest and uncontrived manner, that she was falling in love with him, whether she wanted to or not, and despite the heat in his loins and the lust in his veins, he was determined to treat her with all the tenderness he could muster; she deserved no less.

"What ?" she asked him softly, clearly reading that there was something he'd been considering.

"Ye've heard me say so before, May," he said quietly, "and I'll say it again….yer a right fetchin' beauty, and especially when ye laugh."

She favored him with another of those coy smiles that he found so alluring, and he reached out and touched the gold silk that cascaded across her shoulders. Slipping his fingers behind her head, he drew her face to his and gently kissed her, once, and then again.

Yet again he kissed her, feeling her lips part eagerly for his tongue as he deepened the kiss into something much more intimate and intense, and the way she tightened her embrace around his neck in reaction both surprised and pleased him. Clearly, Barbossa thought, she hadn't been kissed this way enough, and he pledged to himself that he would attempt to remedy that this night.

Barbossa continued to kiss her hungrily, lost in his enjoyment of the feel of her fingers in his hair and her breasts against his chest, until a small cry escaped her against his mouth. She'd stiffened slightly, and he realized it was likely in reaction to where he'd inadvertently tightened his grip possessively and his long nails had dug into the back of her neck. He loosened his grasp, taking the opportunity to stroke her cheek and gather a deep breath, steeling himself against the wave of intense lust that had risen within him during the kiss.

Ever so gently he laid her down against the pillow, watching her intently as she allowed him to do so, in effect offering herself up to him. The thought of being so close to having her after weeks of steamy dreams and restless nights nearly overwhelmed him, and it was all he could do, as he moved to lie next to her, to fight against the urge to pin her to the bed, and take her without further ado.

More was at stake here than just bedding a wench, and while pouncing on her like a randy feline from the docks might be the fastest way to get some pussy, (God knew it worked for those pier cats!) it was unlikely to score any long lasting points with her if he were to flip her over, bite her neck and shag her from behind…

Swallowing hard as he fought back the intoxicating image her proximity had conjured in his mind, he suddenly realized that she was watching him expectantly from where she lay next to him; clearly she was leaving it to him to navigate their journey.

So be it. Steeling himself to be patient once more as he propped himself up on his elbow, it was his intent to whisper something affectionate and reassuring to her, but he was struck dumb by the sight of the amount of her flesh that his half unbuttoned coat left exposed. His eyes fell to her nearly bare breasts and then traveled lower, taking in her pale satin skin, the exposed soft flesh of her belly, and coming to rest on the last two buttons that stood between him and…

Two buttons.

It would take but a pair of casual flicks of his fingers to undo them, and…

No. He would be patient.

Two buttons…

No. He would be gentle.

Only two buttons….

No. She'd placed her trust in him to navigate them through this safely.

Oh, but how he wanted to navigate south, with the determined way his compass was now pointing north.

Perhaps it would just be best to get the first time out of the way, Barbossa thought. Yes, that was the answer: pop the two buttons, have a quick, randy romp to take the edge off, and then he could keep his attention focused on tending to her needs. He reached for the buttons as he kissed her neck, but the way she trustingly exposed her throat to him prodded his sluggish conscience into action.

At least he could have the decency to warn her that he was about drop anchor in her harbor. Pulling his hand back, he spoke to her gently. "There be somethin' I would tell ye," he murmured in her ear.

"What is it?" she asked, meeting his blue gaze with her own. Her trusting manner gave him pause, and he frowned, trying to decide how put it to her gently.

Well, putting it to her gently wasn't exactly what he had in mind, but he admitted he needed to be delicate about the way he informed her lest she put up a struggle. Although…he had to admit that that idea enticed him as well…but perhaps such adventures were best saved for a later date.

"I thought it best to say that if ye were wearin' a dress at the moment, this'd be the point that I'd be intendin' to part yeh from it."

There. That should give her ample warning. He'd been telling her since he met her that she'd be the first to know his intent.

She smiled sweetly at him and ran her soft fingers along his scarred cheek, even as he reached for the last two buttons again. "'Tis a duelin' scar," he informed her, intending to enthusiastically engage her with the weapon he'd currently drawn.

"Oh. I was just thinking how little I notice it anymore when I look at you," she whispered.

Damn! Barbossa yanked his hand back from the buttons as her simple statement blindsided him emotionally. Along with her genuinely affectionate touch, her comment had been made in earnest, letting him know in an uninhibited manner that she cared for him. Once again his torpid conscience opened a sleepy eye, yawned broadly, and made a half-hearted attempt at remonstration.

Mayhap he shouldn't just hoist his colors and board uninvited.

After all, he'd worked for a solid month at gaining her trust, something as valuable to him as getting the opportunity to uncross her legs…well, ok, so maybe not quite that valuable, but still…

Do it! came the thought from below decks. You have her where you want her. Take her!

Barbossa glanced down across her half naked body next to him, and it sounded like good advice. His hand began to move towards the buttons once more.

Don't! came the small, unfamiliar voice in the back of his mind. Firing all guns and breeching her hull is not a good idea!

Barbossa hesitated until influence from a baser instinct spoke again. Of course it is! It's what she wants –set topsails and full speed ahead!

Annoyingly, his conscience was fully awake now, and it stayed his hand again. Being rammed and rodded indelicately is not what she wants. She's expecting you to make love to her.

Which ultimately involves ramming and rodding, so why muddy the waters? came the lower reply. Just take her!

Don't, you'll ruin things! his conscience 've waited a month!You can wait ten more minutes!Seize the day! Carp diem!It's carpe diem and you should stow your carp for a bit longer!

Look at her! Like a firm, rosy apple she is, just waiting to be plucked…came the lower voice.

His conscience panicked a little and then hit back hard. She loves you.

Sweet…ripe…juicy…taunted the creature below sea level.

Aye, she looks good enough to eat, admitted his conscience. Erm…I mean…is that how you'd repay her for saving Turk?

Barbossa was getting a headache. "Fuck!" he swore under his breath in frustration.

Exactly! Just grab the wench and f…

Another tender touch of her warm fingers on his cheek snapped Barbossa's attention back to Madeline from his inner turmoil, and he could see in her eyes she was dealing with one of her own, trying to trust him completely while fearing what a pirate might do with her.

He sighed heavily. When was the last time he'd had a woman like this? Maybe never. And when was the last time a woman had touched him like that –because she wanted to and not because she was getting paid for it? He couldn't recall.

"What is it that ye be doin' here, lass," he mused, half to her and half to himself, "in the bed of a scurvy old seadog, like me?"

"Well," she said, making as if to get up, "if you don't think I should be here…."

Man, beast and conscience all simultaneously panicked, and he yanked her back down against the bed, perhaps a little rougher than he intended to. Maybe he shouldn't waste any more time and take the chance that she might actually change her mind. Not that he was likely to give her a choice in the matter at this point.

"Whether ye should be, and whether you are, be two entirely different matters, M'lady." He kissed her a little roughly and then whispered to her as he reached for the next button on his coat. "It be too late to alter course, now."

The first button slipped open, and as he reached for the last one his conscience nagged him for attention once more, causing him to focus on how rigid with anxiety the young woman next to him was.

You've frightened her enough in the past. Put her mind at ease –it'll pay off in the long run.

Barbossa's fingers undid the last button of their own volition, but he made a supreme effort and gazed into Madeline's eyes, praying that her answer to the question he was about to ask her was yes.

"Do ye trust me?" he asked her gently.

"Yes," she breathed softly, and her answer put his conscience at ease enough for him to proceed.

"Are ye afraid of me?" he asked several kisses later in a husky whisper. Her courage in spite of the obvious look in her eyes that said 'yes' pacified the beast enough for him to be gentle, and all that was left was not a pirate and a doctor, but a man and a woman, and that was as it should be their first night together.