Arthur Kirkland's fingers tightened around the wheel of his ship, his emerald eyes flashing with irritation when he caught sight of the Japanese man eying him from the main deck.
Kiku allowed himself a small smile when their gazes met and motioned for the captain to join him. Arthur sighed, signaled for Kate to take the wheel, raised his eyebrows when James winked at the brunette as she passed, and made his way towards his first mate.
"Forgive me, Arthur-dono, but I... I have a question."
Arthur raised his eyebrows and gestured for the other man to continue, his brow furrowing in confusion when Kiku cast a nervous look over his shoulder towards... Wait, when the hell did that Greek start working on his ship?
Arthur's gaze snapped back to Kiku, his cheeks flushing at the other man's penetrating gaze.
"Ah, yes, your question... What do you want to know?"
Kiku hesitated for a moment, his brown eyes flickering back towards the dark-haired Greek that was lounging against the rails several feet away with a-
Bloody hell, is that a cat on his head?
"Why aren't we going back for Alfred-san?" Kiku asked quietly.
Arthur tensed at the mention of Alfred's name, his eyes narrowing dangerously as he struggled to shove images of the golden-haired boy out of his mind.
"Why would we go back for him?" he managed to ask coolly.
Kiku frowned. "He's part of the crew."
"He left the crew, if you remember correctly."
"He came back," the Asian insisted.
"He left again."
"You didn't ask him to stay."
"Why the hell would I ask him to stay?" Arthur snarled.
Kiku simply stared back at the Briton with calm, knowing brown eyes.
"I think you know," he murmured. "You miss him, don't you?"
"I-" Yes...Everyday... All the time... "It doesn't matter."
Kiku raised his eyebrows. "What?"
Arthur shrugged, a bitter smile playing across his lips as the bottom of his long scarlet coat scraped against his dark, salt-encrusted pants.
"It doesn't matter how I feel," he explained slowly. "If I miss him, if I wanted him to stay. It's not about me at all; it's about him."
"What if Alfred-san wanted to stay?" Kiku asked cautiously.
"He didn't," Arthur muttered, too tired to put any real anger into his voice. "He only wanted to protect his brother... That's the only reason he did any of this."
"I disagree," Kiku repeated stubbornly. "There is one thing that Alfred-san did that wasn't for his brother."
"Oh? What was that?"
Alfred sighed and threw himself down onto the small sliver of beach that wrapped around the bottom of the lighthouse, his eyes slipping closed behind his glasses in an effort to reclaim the sleep that he had lost last night.
God, that was awful... Guess that Russian bastard doesn't care that I can hear every damn thing he does to my brother...
Actually, come to think of it, Ivan probably didn't care. Neither did Tony, for that matter, although that wasn't much of a surprise.
Am I the only one that cares about Mattie's innocence?
"Probably," Alfred answered himself. He groaned rolled over onto his stomach, his nose wrinkling as the movement sent several grains of sand into his nose. Something that was probably a crab started to crawl over one of his legs, prompting the blond to grunt and blindly lash out at the creature before he rolled over again.
"Damn Russian bastard," he groaned.
Please... You're just jealous, an inner voice that sounded creepily like Jack whispered.
"Why the hell would I be jealous of Mattie?" Alfred demanded. "Ah shit, I'm arguing with myself... That's probably not good."
Probably, the voice agreed.
Alfred groaned again and cracked open his eyes, his gaze straying towards the ocean. He felt a familiar pain shoot through his chest at the sight of the empty horizon, his mind struggling to remember how long it had been since he had last seen the Emerald Dragon. Two months? Three?
Too fucking long... That's how long it's been...
The blond frowned and forced his eyes to close again, to block out the empty horizon. Another groan forced its way out of his chest when another image replaced the empty horizon behind his closed eyelids. Bright green eyes stared back at him from beneath large eyebrows half-hidden by tousled gold hair. Pink lips curved up into a rare smile that Alfred wasn't entirely sure he had ever seen, and-
Someone grabbed Alfred by the shoulders and yanked him to his feet. Alfred's eyes flew open, only to be blocked almost immediately by the rough fabric of a sack. The blond swore and lashed out blindly with his fists, his lips quirking up into a satisfied smirk when he was rewarded with a grunt and a muttered curse. The smirk quickly turned into a snarl when his arms were pulled behind his back and tied together with rope. Alfred snarled and struggled again, his elbows digging into someone's stomach with enough force to crack ribs.
"Hold... still... dammit..."
Alfred froze. "...Jack?"
"I told ya we should have left him on the ship!"
"Why the hell are ye whispering now?"
"Cian?" Alfred grunted. "James? What are you-"
"Sorry, mate," Jack's voice sighed. "Trust me, you'll thank us later."
Something hard slammed into the back of Alfred's head and sent a sharp flare of pain through his skull. Alfred grunted and felt his body lurch forward. Hands caught at his arms and shoulders and struggled to hold him upright, his legs scraped against the surface of the beach. Someone- was that Ivan's voice?- laughed.
I wish they would stop knocking me out like this...
Then the world went black.
Someone was poking him.
Alfred wasn't quite sure who was doing the poking- or why for that matter- but he knew that someone was stubbornly poking his forehead.
And it was getting really annoying.
Jack, I swear to God if you're poking me again...
Alfred groaned and twisted his head away from the source of the poking, his arms reaching up to swat the offending finger away before it could poke him again.
Or, his arms tried to reach up to swat away the offending finger.
It was hard to move with rope tied around his wrists.
Alfred stiffened and opened his eyes... only to find them blocked by a blindfold.
Warm lips pressed against his own, swallowing the rest of Alfred's sentence. The blond gasped, his eyes widening beneath the blindfold as a foreign tongue took the opportunity to enter his mouth. Alfred hesitated for a moment before reaching out with his own tongue, his eyes slipping closed as a low moan escaped his throat.
Time froze- or flew- as Alfred gave in to the emotions coursing through his blood and clouding his thoughts. He leaned into the kiss, his bound hands struggling fruitlessly against the rope in an effort to touch the tendrils of soft hair that tickled his skin with every movement. Gentle, scarred hands brushed across Alfred's face, tugged teasingly at that one cowlick that had been a source of frustration for Alfred's mother, slipped beneath Alfred's loose shirt to play with the skin of his chest, his abdomen, his-
A loud groan broke through Alfred's lips when the other person pulled away.
"Arthur," he gasped, his wrists straining against the ropes binding his wrists.
He heard a sharp intake of breath.
"...How did you know it was me?"
Alfred grinned despite himself at the sound of Arthur's voice, his muscles relaxing instinctively as those calloused hands brushed across his skin once again.
"I... I didn't know for sure," he admitted. "I guess I just... hoped that it was you."
Another intake of breath. The hands on Alfred's skin paused for a brief moment, their fingers trembling.
Alfred waited for a moment to see if the Brit would add anything, his smile faltering slightly when he was met with silence.
"So, not to complain or anything, but could you take this blindfold off?" he asked playfully.
Arthur chuckled and leaned forward, his warm breath tickling Alfred's ear. "Are you trying to tell me that you're not enjoying this?" he purred.
A warm chill slithered down Alfred's spine, prompting him to lean closer to the invisible Briton.
"I didn't know that you were into bondage," he gasped. "Kinda kinky, don't you think?"
Arthur snorted. Alfred felt slim fingers play with the back of his head, his blue eyes blinking sightlessly in the dim light that suddenly slammed into his eyes. A familiar pair of eyeglasses were slipped onto his features, bringing a certain emerald-eyed Brit into focus. Arthur smirked at Alfred, not quite able to hide the fear that flickered through his eyes as they met cerulean blue.
"Hello," Arthur murmured.
Alfred laughed. "Oh, now you say hello."
"Shut up, you git."
Alfred forced himself not to laugh, his expression sobering as he studied Arthur's expression for a silent moment.
"...Why am I here, Arthur?" Alfred asked quietly.
Captain Kirkland flinched at the question, his gaze suddenly unsure.
"Do you not want to be here?" he murmured.
"No," Alfred whispered. "I want to be here- I've wanted to be here. I just want to know why... I want to know where we stand."
Arthur nodded thoughtfully. After a moment, he stooped to cut the ropes from Alfred's wrists, his green eyes intent as the taller blond pulled himself shakily to his feet. Alfred flashed the Briton a tentative smile.
"Thanks," he murmured.
"You are quite welcome," Arthur muttered, his pale cheeks flushing a light pink. "...I have a question for you."
Alfred raised his eyebrows and waited.
"Why did you leave the ship?"
"The first time."
Alfred paused for a long moment, his brow furrowing as he considered his next words.
"Because... I couldn't kill you."
"Why?" Arthur pressed his eyes flashing with an emotion that Alfred couldn't read.
Alfred sighed heavily and turned away for a moment, his fingers tugging furiously at his hair.
"You told me about your brothers," he muttered. "You showed me who you were, who you really were... You saved my life... And you're so-" He paused and tugged at his hair again, careful to avoid his persistent cowlick.
"I'm what?" Arthur pressed.
"...Everything," Alfred admitted quietly. "Amazing. You're just... Indescribable. In a good way."
Arthur chuckled, his eyes widening slightly as he realized that he had been inching closer and closer towards the other blond throughout their conversation. Alfred smirked at the same realization, his eyes soft as they studied the captain.
"So... What now, Artie?" he asked. "You have my answer. What are you going to do with it?"
Arhur considered for a moment, his lips curving up into a confident smirk that Alfred recognized immediately.
"The better question, Jones," he whispered. "Is what I'm going to do with you."
Alfred shivered again and grinned, his smile faltering for a moment as another blond flashed through his mind.
"Uh... About my brother-"
"He is aware of this arrangement," Arthur said dismissively. "I asked permission before I had you kidnapped, of course."
"Of course," Alfred grumbled. "And... He's okay with this?"
"He was under the impression that you would be happier here," Arthur mused. "Something about your new home having very thin walls..."
Alfred pursed his lips, his eyes glittering with amusement and another emotion, one that Arthur was very familiar with at the moment.
Captain Kirkland bit back a low gasp as Alfred nearly tackled him to the ground, his eyes widening in a rare show of shock as bright blue flooded his vision. Alfred simply smirked, his heart hammering with anticipation as he settled on top of the Briton. He leaned forward, his chest pressing ever-so-slightly against Arthurs, his hands reaching up to push the bright red coat off of the pirate's shoulders before they moved to the buttons of the smaller man's shirt...
"...I hope these walls are thicker," Alfred whispered.
"A-and if they're not?" Arthur gasped, his breath hitching as Alfred's hands traveled lower.
The larger blond smirked.
"Then I sure hope your crew doesn't mind the extra noise," he purred.
Kiku smiled and backed away from the door to Arthur's cabin, his muscles tensing for a brief moment as a pair of strong hands settled across his shoulders.
"...Well?" Heracles murmured sleepily, his question echoed in the eyes of the crew members that had assembled behind him.
"I think that we should leave them alone for a little while," Kiku replied simply. "Kate-san, if you would be so kind as to take the wheel?"
Kate nodded, her lips curving into a reluctant grin as Jack and Cian began to argue over a bet. Yao rolled his eyes and shoved Yong Soo and Li back towards the kitchen, his cheeks flushing an embarrassed red as Yong Soo loudly asked him what Alfred and the captain were doing. James and William exchanged pleased smirks before heading back to their usual posts.
Kiku simply smiled again and glanced back towards the port that the Emerald Dragon had just left, his eyes focusing for a brief moment on the two blonds that were still watching them from the beach in front of the lighthouse. The Japanese man raised his hand in farewell, his smile widening when Matthew Williams returned the gesture before returning to his home with Ivan by his side.
Kiku blinked and turned away from the lighthouse to look at Heracles, his eyebrows raised expectantly.
The Greek smiled.
"...Want to take a nap?"
And... That's it. Hahaha, wow, I probably could have come up with something more awesome to say back there but... /shrug/. Anyways! Thank you sooooo much to everyone who has read/reviewed/favorited this story. You guys are amazing, and thank you so much for staying with me throughout my awful updating schedule. :D Also, this may or may not be my last update before I leave for Spain, although I'm going to try to get one last update in for either Stolen Lullabies or American Valentines. And, of course, I will get to work on the Spamano version of this story as soon as I get the chance.
Once again, thank you so much! Your support is what keeps me going.