by Glenna Meredith

There was an audible gasp from the women in the room as the Pirate entered. Behind him trailed a handsome man dressed in satin breeches, stained now by what appeared to be blood. His waistcoat had been removed, leaving him to the elements with only a ruffled linen shirt as covering. Even his shoes had been removed, so that his appearance now was made in stockinged feet.

The pirate betrayed nothing with an icy glare from beneath long, blond hair. It was loosely tied, allowing strands to hang down over his forehead, effectively lessening what might have been an ominous presence. As it was, he appeared younger than his prisoner, although not any less capable of the apparent violence he had done to the man in chains.

To the onlookers, the two appeared to be at odds. The pirate pulling a prisoner along on a chain that encircled the darker man's wrists, he was smaller in stature in spite of boots and a not insubstantial swagger. His own clothing was typical of his breed; dark breeches made from rough cloth hung from slim hips. His shirt was also dark, punctuated by a porcelain chest that lay exposed, as it appeared to have no means of closure. The pirate's pale skin seemed to defy days on the open sea beneath a sun that had bleached his hair to the color of sand, while his eyes were the color of the Caribbean.

The prisoner, the dark haired one, was handsome. His features chiseled and firm, he was nearly the exact opposite of the fair-haired man who held him in chains. To the onlookers in this room it was a strange sight, and even among such a rough crowd as this, a silent appreciation worked its way through the spectators.

Not wishing to be singled out and treated in the same manner as the prisoner, there was nonetheless a curiosity about the situation. One lone observer gathered himself sufficiently to address the question that begged attention.

"Who is it, then, that you have in tow? Surely there be a ransom involved."

The blond one cut his eyes to the speaker, quelling whatever other questions might have been on the cusp of the curious crowd. His look told them that no answer would be forthcoming, and that any further interference would be met with a violent response.

"I am quite certain that what I have is of no concern to anyone here. I am a stranger to all of you, and therefore your curiosity is accepted as such. There will be no answers for you, only the promise of reprisal should anyone interfere. I trust you are not inclined to such."

Almost as one, the entire assembly nodded; there was something dangerous about this man, and even the one held in chains. The two of them seemed not completely at odds, but not one among this crowd wished to gain further understanding.

Except for one.

A lone voice spoke up from behind the farthest reaches of the room, sultry and sure.

"You have someone there who doesn't belong to you. He is, in fact, my betrothed. I am here to meet your demand, M Pirate."

The dark haired man turned to look, his recognition apparent as his eyes searched for the person belonging to that voice. When she emerged from behind the crowd, the pirate's lip curled up like a wild animal emitting a growl. The expression of disdain was only matched by the smile on his prisoner's face.

"Angelique, my love. Have you brought the..."

His sentence was left hanging as the blond slapped him across the face, knocking him into a buxom wench who received him greedily, as though bereft of a man for some time. Before she could draw him into her substantial flesh, the pirate pulled the chain, yanking him back to the center of the room where he pushed him down and placed a knife at the tender throat.

"I have him, you want him. I suggest you produce the ransom as I have requested it."

Angelique came towards them, her dress that of the privileged class, the cut of it so daring as to produce more than one leering gaze from the men in the room. She reached out a dainty hand, showing that she had nothing to hide, something already evidenced by the generous mounds of breast that fairly burst from beneath her bodice.

"Napoleon, I have waited for this moment. I have nothing to offer now in exchange for you save my own virtue; something of greater value than jewels or gold.'

Her eyes pleaded with the Blond Pirate as she made this sacrificial gesture. She would trade herself for the life of her lover.

"Are you seriously suggesting that I would take you rather than the ransom I have demanded? Do you really think that I would rather have you than...him?"

Napoleon looked from one to the other, realizing that his life might be on the verge of some great change. As the probability that his dear one, Angelique, would not really give herself to the Pirate, but must have some other plan in mind, the thought occurred to him that the Other Blond, the Pirate, really was rather attractive. If one had to be conscripted into, umm...personal servitude, then he reckoned there were worse men to call Master than the one who stood in front of him now.

"Angelique, my love, you have already sacrificed enough. Perhaps we are not fated, after all, to be together. I will not allow you to present yourself to one such as this. If such is my destiny, then so be it."

The Blond One turned to look at this new development, his eyebrow raised slightly in a questioning manner. That look! Something inside the Prisoner quaked, just a little, as he considered how truly handsome this rugged young man was, how lithe and...something stirred within the satin breeches, and his eyes saw movement on the blond's groin like the hoisting of a sail in a stiff breeze.

Both men colored slightly at the sudden awareness of this unbidden attraction, ignoring the crowd and most notably, Angelique.

The pirate turned around and faced the room, all of its occupants now waiting for the next move from these strangers, some observant enough to notice a bit more.

"Change of plans!"

The Blond One was on the move now, pulling up his Prisoner and shoving him towards the doorway.

"Thanks awfully, but since the ransom hasn't been met, I must now put this one to hard labor. Swab the decks, shiver me timbers...well, you know. Hi-dee ho, and all that."

The pirate and his booty were out the door as quickly as a man could run with chains and a rising tide. Angelique stomped her foot and lit up a cigarette, helped along by the proprietor of the tavern who bore a strong resemblance to Daniel Boone.

Aboard the pirate's ship, The Red Plague, Napoleon found himself no longer bound in chains, but happily free to roam about the modest vessel. His host, whose name he was still unaware, bade him welcome as a most pleasant room was revealed, a sumptuous bed beckoning the two men to heretofore unknown pleasures.

"So, tell me, Blond Pirate, what is your name? Surely we can't be expected to consummate this affair if you remain a stranger to me."

The Blond One, pretty and suddenly boyish looking to the brazen Brunet, furrowed his brow and replied, in a slightly coquettish manner...

"I am, to you, Illyusha. But, only your lips may say it. Do you understand me?"

Ah, understanding indeed.

"Yes, Illyusha. Only between the two of us will that ever be uttered, from my lips to your elfish ears."

Curiously pleased that Napoleon had noticed his resemblance to an elf, the Russian Terror of the High Seas submitted to the inimitable wiles of his prisoner, and they both allowed the foamy depths of the down filled coverlet to swallow them as they spun into the waters of their desire.

Angelique awoke with a shiver and a strangled moan as the images of her dream drew forth a curse. Next time, she'd place the spider somewhere on the Russian.

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