And the battle begins. We swing at each other, our swords collide with a loud twang. This repeats as we step towards the edge of my ship - the ship you're plundering. Your men take everything; they take gold, jewls, paintings, my crew, my women. They take Romano.

I am distracted with watching them carry my Roma away when our swords collide again, this time with a dull shink as you knock mine away. My weapon spirals off the edge of the ship, disappearing into the abyss much like my pride has.

You've won, we both know.

Time slows down. I'm against the side of the boat now, pressed against the wood, precariously placed so I'm nearly bent backwards over the edge. Your sword isn't to my throat for long before your hands are, the sword tossed behind you and clattering as it hit the deck. You tell me that you should strangle me. You tell me you can't, and I don't want to hear why.

Your hands leave my throat, then your mouth is there, sucking, licking, biting. Without my permission, a moan escapes. It is only a light, fluttering sound made barely audible under my breath, but you hear it, and you flash me that shit-eating grin that makes me want to punch your lights out. I don't, and we both know why.

"You want this," you say, "you need this." I hate every word of it, hate the way you say it, hate everything about it. I especially hate how it's all true.

My ship is barren except the two of us, which, at least, keeps our sinful deeds out of view.

The heavens cry, washing dirt and blood and sweat from the deck. The thunder booms, echoing my cries; the wind carries away both the smell of sin and the sounds of it. Even though the rain pours ruthlessly, we don't move from the deck; most of the rain misses me in favor of dripping off of you, anyway.

It's a horrible thing we're doing, and I tell you so, but you say you don't care. Deep down, I'm sure you do, though I'm not sure whether that is good or not.

You indulge in the final sound of my surrender, and, for the first time, I don't call you Inglaterra or Kirkland, but Arthur. And that is what tips you over the edge - I can see it in your face.

Arthur. It's the recognition of your humanity, and though we aren't, really, we suddenly feel so mortal.

We're both panting on the deck now, tangled in each other's limbs, soaked from rain, sweat, and fluids that shouldn't have a name. That is when you ask me if I love you. You say it with such open weakness in your eyes, and that's what gets me. Though I loathe admitting it, I'm afraid of the one soft spot in such a hardened field of green.

I tell you I hate you, that I'll always hate you, and I don't mean it, not for a second. You believe me, and that would be the day you'd never speak to me again.

Today, I sit in my home in Madrid, staring forlornly at my old captain's uniform, remembering how I'd lost everything that day: My pride, my self-respect - hell, even my virginity.

I don't really regret losing any of those things. The only thing I regret losing was you.

I lied to you, Arthur. I can't fix it now, but I've always wanted you to know.

Te amo.

Te amo, Inglaterra.

Te amo, Arthur Kirkland.