A/N: *Skulks in under cover of darkness*
*delivers the first, soft chapter*
*smoothes your hair away from your sleeping face*
*kisses your forehead and whispers "Sweet dreams, darling."*
*slips away like a wraith into the night*
Another Kind of Love
Anne Bonny watched as Eleanor Guthrie played another round of hot and cold with Captain Vane, curling her lip from under the brim of her hat as the stupid blonde bitch took what she wanted from Charles and flounced off back to her imagined little corner of power over a port full of pirates.
"Lovely," Jack sighed beside her, offering her the bottle of rum he was swigging from. Anne took it willingly and gulped down a few mouthfuls to stop herself from running after the stupid bitch and burying a knife in her belly.
"Why does he let her?" Anne asked of her lover where he leaned into her side, both of them leaning against the wall of the little sea shack they called home whenever they were ashore in Nassau port.
"He loves her," Jack said. "I imagine I'd put up with the same from you, were you ever get the notion into your head to try it."
"I'm not a fucking cunt," Anne argued.
"And thank the gods for that," Jack sighed beside her, taking the rum bottle back and gulping some down as well.
"She don't love him," Anne pointed out, watching the infuriating Miss Guthrie disappear back among the rabble, no doubt headed for the tavern now that she had Charles's bollock firmly squared away in her coin purse once more.
"'Course she does," Jack sighed. "It's why Charles puts up with this incessant game they play. She loves him, but she can't stand that when people look at the two of them together, they see her as the lesser of the two."
"Because she's a fucking cunt," Anne grumbled.
"Because she's a girl," Jack corrected her.
"Never stopped me," Anne said.
"No, but that's because when you stand next to me, you're the one who looks dangerous," Jack admitted, smiling ruefully and pulling on a lock of her long red hair. "That's not the case for Charles and Eleanor."
"Because he's the better," she nodded.
"And she can't stand it. What she needs is a man she can control – a man who aids her in looking strong, rather the highlighting her weaknesses. But she didn't know that when he fell for him; she thought she needed a big strong, mean pirate to protect her and keep the rest of these idiots in line," Jack waved the bottle at their crew around them, and the many other crews littering the beach, besides. "And now she loves him; as long as they both call this island home, she'll always love him, and he'll always love her. He'll always protect her, and she'll always use him for that and whatever else she thinks he'll tolerate, before reminding him she holds all the power by withholding her cunt."
"Maybe we should leave," Anne suggested. "Set up on Tortuga instead. Give him a chance to be free of her, once and for all?"
"Would you ever sail for Tortuga as long as you knew I was here?" Jack challenged, raising an eyebrow at her.
"We're gonna have to watch him fuck up his life forever, then?" she asked.
"Just until he gets her pregnant and can tie her up long enough that she's got no choice but to birth the little prick," Jack sighed.
"He's gonna be a fucking shit all week," Anne reminded him.
"I know," Jack sighed.
Anne shook her head, taking the rum bottle back and polishing off the rest of it.
"Wanna fuck?" she suggested.
"Have I ever told you that I quite enjoy that you always want to fuck me when you're angry?" Jack grinned, taking her hand and getting to his feet before pulling her up with him.
Anne didn't bother to answer, just reached up and kissed him hard, forcing him backward and into their little shack.
Charles Vane looked up a week and half later, drawing his pistol when footsteps sounded outside his tent on the beach. He pointed it at the opening, waiting, knowing it could be fucking anybody, at this point. Could be Eleanor again, come to fuck him blind before stalking away like she owned him and she knew it. Could be the crew, come to depose him for letting the bitch think she owned him, for all he knew.
When Anne Bonny pushed aside the flap and skulked inside, Charles lowered the pistol and sighed, flopping back down on the bed of pillows, blankets, stuffed straw, and sand. Anne didn't say anything before pulling her hat off her head and beginning to unbuckle her belt, setting aside her weapons and her coat, even toeing her boots off. Charles didn't say anything either. He'd wondered where she'd been since they'd come ashore. He hadn't seen much of her or of Jack in the past week and a half while Eleanor had favoured him with her fucking attention.
Charles knew Anne and Jack hated it. Half the time, he hated it too. When she'd stripped down to only her sleeping gear, Anne padded over to him and dropped down on the pillows beside him, burrowing around and making herself comfortable against them. She never said a word, but when she was firmly seated with her legs crossed in a pretzel and a blanket around her shoulders, she looked at him expectantly.
One of those nights, then.
Charles grunted and rolled over, shuffling around until he could lay his head in her lap and curl his arms around her slender frame, laying across her. She produced the wide-tooth whale-bone comb from a pocket and Charles closed his eyes, letting her begin working on the long hair he kept mostly clean in the surf. For a long time, they stayed there together in silence, and Charles actually let his eyes drift closed, breathing in the familiar smell of Anne while her small, strong hands worked the tangles and crusted salt and sand from his hair. She took apart many of the braids in it, removing the beads and cords and other brightly colour trinkets there so she could brush it out in its entirety.
Wasn't much of a talker, his Anne. She never had been. Not when Jack had first stolen her out from under her cunt of a husband at thirteen, and not now, more than a decade on. He briefly wondered where Jack was, but it didn't take long before more footsteps sounded and Charles cracked one eye open to watch Jack stride into the tent too, assured of his welcome and not the least bit surprised to find his woman lavishing his captain with affection. Charles waited for him to start talking; he used to think Anne was only so quiet because Jack simply never shut the fuck up, but their dynamic never shifted.
He envied them that. Nearly fifteen years they'd been sailing together and fucking together, and not once did they play dumb games of power and pissing contests like he endured with Eleanor. Charles was quietly grateful that on occasion, the two of them sought him out, placidly including him in their love. He never admitted it; they never did either. But he knew they loved him; knew they knew he loved them, too.
Jack was strangely silent tonight, for once not offering wisecracks and snarky comments on his mess with Eleanor. There were no plots or leads or suggestions tonight about a hunt, or a political play that might buy their crew an even fiercer reputation. Instead, much as his woman had done, Jack silently shucked off his coat and his boots, dropping his belt and his cutlass next to Anne's. Just like his woman, Jack joined the two of them on the bed he'd made for himself – though it was more a nest that anything else, if he was honest.
In only his trousers, Jack arranged himself on Charles's other side, shuffling around before leaning back until his shoulders were pressed to Charles' side, his head pillowed on the middle of Charles' broad back. Simply touching; just lounging comfortably. He produced a book from somewhere, Charles noted when he peered over his shoulder. Anne still didn't speak, combing out his hair carefully in the only form of affection he'd ever seen her offer to anyone. She rarely accepted a kind touch, or any kind of gift. Every now and then, though, when she was tired or sore, she'd produce that whale-bone comb of hers and hand it to Jack before laying her head in his lap just like Charles laid in hers now.
More than once, Charles had watched them, listening to Jack talk on and on, often reciting some play or refrain from memory while he was brushing out her long red hair bit by bit until she would fall asleep like that. More than once, he'd envied them that comfort, and more than once, they'd included him in it, just like now. Quiet acceptance. Silent support. A simple reminder that they were there, and that they cared. Sighing heavily, Charles relaxed into their gentle affection and closed his eyes once more, dropping off to sleep in Anne's lap, secure in the knowledge that his Quartermaster and his deadliest henchman had his back, no matter what the beach coughed up to test him with next.
Jack Rackham waited quietly, turning the pages of the newest book he'd picked up, his head pillowed on Charles' back while Anne combed the captain's hair.
"He's asleep," Anne said a little while later, her voice soft and quiet in a way it never was with any of the rest of the crew but him and the captain.
"Good," Jack said, focusing on his book a while longer. "You need help getting him off you without waking him, don't you?"
"Yeah," Anne said, and Jack grinned, turning his head to look at his lover and seeing that she was actually still weaving some more beads and braids into Charles's hair, but almost done.
"Let me just finish this chapter," he said. "Then I'll brush your hair, if you like, darling."
Anne hummed behind him and Jack smiled. She would never admit it, but there was a part of her that very much enjoyed taking care of the captain on occasion. It was a rare thing that she ever showed anyone affection, even him. Anne showed her loved by protecting the things she cared about, and she had protected him more times than he could count since he'd rescued her all those years ago.
A soft snore escaped Charles between them just as Jack closed his book and he smiled, sitting up and setting it aside before reaching for a pillow to slide under Charles and helping Anne wiggle out from under the captain's heavy wait. Charles stirred briefly, one of his eyes cracking open, but Jack just smiled at him and pulled on his arm again, dragging the man closer toward him.
"Fuck you, Jack," Charles mumbled sleepily without any heat and Jack knew that no matter the words that came out of his mouth, the meaning was "I love you."
"Sweet dreams, Charles," Jack replied quietly, twitching a blanket a little further over the captain's bare feet while he shuffled around, getting comfortable stretched out on his stomach.
Free, Anne rose shakily to her feet after so long with her legs crossed like that before she stretched languidly, all of her bones popping. She twisted back and forth before settling back down again, stepping over Charles and stretching out on the beside him before and snuggling into the Captain, pillowing her head on the hollow between Vane's shoulder blades, her long red hair spread across him like a blanket. Jack spooned up behind her, taking the comb from her and propping himself up with a few cushions before he started on the salt-crusted ends of her lovely hair, working the teeth of the comb into the mass of it a little at a time and teasing out the snarls and tangles.
If the comb dragged over Charles's back in the process, well, so be it. He certainly didn't mind if the little groan that escaped him was any indication.
"Hope he doesn't think it's her nails," Anne mumbled into his skin while Jack held her and combed her hair, finding more peace in the task than in any other he'd ever undertaken. "Might start something we can't finish."
Charles snorted into the pillow.
"Fuck you, Anne," he grumbled, though he laughed a little and meant it in just the same sentiment as he'd offered Jack.
"That's what I'm worried about," Anne teased, grinning and meeting Jack's eyes as he leaned over her, still combing slowly.
"You fucking love it," Charles replied.
Anne didn't argue and Jack rolled his eyes, recalling the number of times before this when their strange friendship with Charles Vane had extended to the bedroom and beyond platonic affection. It had been a very long since that had happened. Anne wasn't fond of being shared after the horrors of her past. But when they'd all been too young and stupid and horny to know any better, there had been a time when the way they loved Charles and loved each other manifested in other ways. Weeks on end at sea aboard Teach's ship would do that to a man.
But that had been a long time ago, long before Eleanor Guthrie and her venomous cunt. Long before Teach had been driven from Nassau's shores and they'd started their own crew. Jack shook his head and kept combing, until long after both his captain and his dearest treasure had dropped off to sleep. When the candle burned down far enough, and drowsiness and serenity overtook him, Jack carefully peeled himself from around Anne and rolled to his feet. He tucked the comb back into the pocket of her coat, where it belonged, and blew out the candle. Beyond the tent, the crew laughed and shouted, oblivious to whatever took place inside the captain's camp.
He returned to the pair on the floor and burrowed down beside Anne one more, curling around her.
"Shuffle her that way, could you?" Charles asked, startling him.
Jack did as he was bid, carefully pulling Anne to the side until she no longer pillowed her cheek on Charles' back. She fussed in her sleep, rolling over and burrowing into Jack's chest instead, breathing him in and sighing contentedly in that way of hers that let him know for all that she was often cold and distant, she really did love him. Jack smiled down at her for a long moment while Charles rolled to face them.
He blinked in the dark when he felt Charles's arm reach over Anne and around Jack, too. Jack was reminded how powerful he was when the stronger man dragged him and Anne closer, pulling them both into him, squishing them together until they were both cuddled against him. Charles threw one leg over Anne's, tangling his feet with Jack's, and he leaned over Anne where she'd burrowed her cheek to Jack's chest. Jack sighed when Charles laid his forehead against his own. His hands rested in the middle of Jack's back, his arm hooked over his ribs, and he sighed quietly.
"Rally the crew and sort out supplies in the morning, Jack," Charles said gently, his voice husky with sleep and intimate in their close quarters.
"We'll be ready to sail on the turn of the midday tide, captain," Jack answered, typically always ready to be underway out to sea at a moment's notice. "What's our heading? I've not picked up any leads in our time here."
"Eleanor mentioned a wool merchant docking in Charles Town at the end of the month," Charles replied.
"Dangerous waters," Jack reminded him quietly.
"We'll cut across her path out at sea," Charles said. "She's still a fortnight out and sailing direct out of Ireland."
"Excellent," Jack grinned, a thrum of excitement filling him at the thought of returning to the seas. Nassau was fine, but the sea called to him the same as it did for any sailor.
Charles chuckled, evidently sensing his excitement.
"Night, Jack," he murmured, not pulling his forehead away from where it rested against Jack's.
"Goodnight, Charles," Jack whispered in reply, not even thinking about it before reaching across Anne to smooth some of Vane's wild hair back from his face, letting his fingers tangle in the dark strands.
The captain hummed even as he drifted back to sleep and Jack smiled, pressing closer to Anne until she was firmly wedged between them, her leg curled over his hip and her arm around his ribs right next to Charles's. He fell asleep like that, more at peace than he could remember being in a long time.