The celebration of a pile of booty, the Pirate of the Year Award, and a new shipmate was dying down slowly. Most of the ship's crew were nodding off between pauses of happy conversation. Soon half of them had staggered to their hammocks. The Pirate Captain was making his way to his quarters himself when he stopped and turned to his drowsy companions.

"Number two, would you…?" he motioned for his first mate to come over. The Pirate with a Scarf politely wiped a bit of sleep from his eyes, patted a passing member of the group on his shoulder and made his way to the door of the captain's quarters.

"What do you need, sir? Is there something on your mind?" he asked calmly, putting his hands behind his back.

"Well…" the Pirate Captain looked behind the Pirate with a Scarf and noticed Albino Pirate looking up at the night sky by himself with a huge grin plastered on his face. Albino wasn't one to eavesdrop, but the captain worried about such things and decided to pull Pirate with a Scarf inside and close the door behind them. "I just wanted to talk about a few things, really. Nothing important."

Pirate with a Scarf raised his eyebrows slightly. "Go on, sir."

"It's … It's about what I said earlier. About… asking if you were a woman disguised as a pirate."

"Ah... Yes."

"You aren't, are you?" Pirate Captain made to appear disinterested. He busied himself looking at his wall of pictures, somewhat glancing over his shoulder. Pirate with a Scarf blinked a bit and sighed quietly.

"No, sir. I'm not a woman disguised as a pirate."

"How can you be so sure…?"

"Captain! Please, I'm 100% male."

"All right, all right." He frowned a bit and turned to face his first mate.

There was an awkward pause.

"Is that all you…?" Pirate with a Scarf began. Pirate Captain fiddled with a loose thread at his coat and shuffled his pirate boot. He leaned his head to one side… and the other side… and the first side back again, eyes avoiding Pirate with a Scarf. Pirate with a Scarf nodded and readied some hot grog and biscuits. When he was done, they both sat, nibbling on the biscuits and sipping at the grog.

"It's a bit … weird," Pirate Captain said to the desk between them. "I'm not really sure who else to turn to is all…" he looked up at the scarfed pirate, who was slowly chewing his snack and waiting for his captain to continue. The captain propped his cheek on his fist, elbow on the desk. "I… I'm just sort of wondering… Is it possible to be female and not know it?"

Pirate with a Scarf stopped mid-chew and squinted questioningly. "I… think you would know whether or not you were female, captain…"

"Well, yes, you would think that, wouldn't you? ...But I've been doubting myself as of late." He traced a circle in the old wood desk, eyes full of melancholy. The Pirate with a Scarf finished chewing and folded his hands in his lap.

"Could you tell me what brought this on?"

The Pirate Captain leaned back in his chair and groaned. He covered his face in his hands and muttered something indistinguishable.

"Sorry?"

Mutter, mutter.

"Captain, er… Perhaps if you took your hands off of your face…?"

In a flurry of motion, the Pirate Captain obliged and began speaking in a single breath:

"I think I like you and it's really confusing because I wasn't sure if it was okay so I asked if you were a girl because that would be okay but when you said you weren't I suddenly asked myself 'what if I'm a girl then?' and that's preposterous but it's the only way I could think of this working out and so I asked you about the whole gender thing but I know that it's impossible since I have this brilliant beard on my face I couldn't ever be a woman which means that we could never -" the Pirate Captain stopped himself and bit on his own finger dramatically, looking away from his dumbfounded first mate. A few sobbing sounds were heard in the general direction of the captain. Some tears might have been present as well. But if anyone asks, it was the sound of the ocean.

When the ocean calmed down, which took a good five minutes and a few unpleasant handkerchiefs, the Pirate Captain (now puffy-eyed and looking ashamed) brought himself about to his first mate. Pirate with a Scarf hadn't blinked or moved - had he even breathed? - for the duration of the ocean's sadness. He quite resembled a deer caught in the headlights of something about to murder him. The Captain cleared his throat and sniffled a bit.

"C-Captain - sir - I… I - I'm not really - That is, I don't know what to… what?"

"Would you like me to repeat myself?" the captain croaked out.

"N-No, no, that's perfectly fine - sir, you… You l- You…"

There was another awkward pause.

"Captain," started the Pirate with a Scarf after a long round of dazed blinking. "First of all… it's possible for men to be- to be a… attracted to other men. It doesn't mean you're actually a woman." The Pirate Captain was mesmerized with this new information.

"Is that a fact?" The scarfed pirate nodded in response. "Well, blow me down!"

"Second of all, well - I… sort of suspected as much… when you asked me if I was a woman in disguise. I just thought you should know that." Pirate with a Scarf rubbed his own arm in an apologetic manner.

"Ah. You are quite intuitive, if I may say so," the captain said with a hearty smile. The Pirate with a Scarf smiled back nervously. "Well, I suppose that's all I wanted to know," he said, clapping his hands on the arms of his chair and making to stand up from it.

"Wait, sir."

"Hm?" The Pirate Captain stopped mid-rise and looked at the Pirate with a Scarf, who was scratching at his neck.

"I… had one more thing to add."

"Alright, out with it, lad."

"I… Erm…" The hand scratching at his neck closed tightly as an idea formed in the first mate's head. "Goodness! You look tense!" he said suddenly, rising and going behind the captain's chair, pushing at his neck and massaging it roughly.

"Oh! Er… Hm, yes I … was a bit tense and - Oof! You could be more gentle, really."

"Sorry." He slowed down. Both were quiet for a moment, and Pirate with a Scarf could feel heat rising from the captain's neck. It along with the captain's face was reddening.

"Y-You're… Quite good at this…" he managed as the scarfed pirate's fingers worked their way to his tired shoulders. The captain cleared his throat and fanned at himself. Why was it so hot in here all of a sudden? The first mate noticed this and smirked to himself somewhat sheepishly.

"Getting warm, are you?"

"Yes, you wouldn't mind if I…?" The Captain made to remove his belt and coat. The Pirate with a Scarf shook his head and helped the captain pull his arms out of the coat-sleeves. "Ah, much better." The massage continued.

Pirate with a Scarf's face was getting pretty beet-like; part of it could be repressing the ecstatic grin trying to burst through his normally calm expression. The rest of it was definitely because he was enjoying the feeling of the captain's shoulders, though.

In a few minutes time, the Pirate with a Scarf pulled his hands away reluctantly and allowed the captain to rolls his shoulders and neck about with a sigh. The captain stood up and pushed the chair away, patting his shipmate on the upper arm and thanking him.

It was this moment that each of the men got a good look at the other's face. The Pirate Captain noted the flushed cheeks of his masseuse, sweat ever-so-slightly rimming his hairline. A shy smile was twitching at his lips (which looked quite soft, actually), his eyes bright and happy. The Pirate Captain's heart swelled and he bit his lip in thought.

Pirate with a Scarf looked at the captain and found his face getting hotter at the sight of his captain's luxuriant and magnificently curled beard which framed his captain's wide, kissable mouth, mustache brilliant and full, cheeks pink and eyes dark with passion. The Pirate with a Scarf's heart swelled and he bit his lip in thought.

After a good time of thoughtful lip-chewing, the men broke the silence with a firm handshake and a soft laugh. The pirates headed for the door, captain reaching to the handle.

Before his hand made it there, Pirate with a Scarf touched his fingers to the captain's forearm.

He moved the arm down and looked up at the captain, who seemed confused. Hesitating for the smallest moment, Pirate with a Scarf pulled the Pirate Captain down by his shirt and kissed him, hard. Making a noise of surprise, the captain's arms hovered near the first mate in shock, then his eyes drooped closed and he wrapped his arms around the scarfed pirate, pulling him closer and deepening the kiss.

They both pulled back for a starry-eyed breather, beside themselves with giddiness and the sense of something feeling… right. Then the captain gave his first mate a cheeky grin and waggled his eyebrows with a chuckle, dipping the man and smooching him a second time. Pirate with a Scarf took the opportunity to run his hands through the captain's beard, discovering it was just as soft and warm as he thought it would be. All the while the Pirate Captain was leaning closer and closer to the wood floor, one hand at the scarfed pirate's neck and the other at the small of his back. Pirate with a Scarf ran his hands down the captain's shoulder blades, letting his fingers drag along and meet at his spine. His hands gripped at the captain's broad stomach, thumbs running circles. The Pirate Captain giggled and accidentally let the Pirate with a Scarf drop to the floor, where he lay laughing.

Laughing himself, Pirate Captain kneeled and collapsed on the floor next to the Pirate with a Scarf, head resting against a propped-up fist and looking at his companion with a dreamy sort of stare. The first mate gazed shyly back for a few seconds, then he grunted and sat up, knees bent and hands flat on the floor behind himself. The captain sat up as well, but he crossed his legs instead.

"So… was that the thing you had to add…?" the Pirate Captain said in a low and amused voice. Pirate with a Scarf nodded with a meek grin. The captain guffawed. "I wish I'd known all this mess sooner!"

"I wish I'd known, too, sir."

"…Do you think we ought to tell the crew, then?" He gave his first mate a half-smile.

"Oh… I'm sure they can figure it out for themselves." The Pirate with a Scarf tugged at his scarf and looked sideways to the captain. "But maybe for laughs we can pretend you've been teaching me to tie knots."

END