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We'll Begin Here, With a Ship and the Open Sea

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Raihan silently passed Piers another blanket, smiling softly when the pirate shot him a grateful look and tucked it over Marnie’s sleeping form.

“I’ll be just outside,” he whispered, and ducked out into the corridor to wait for the other. He heard Marnie stir slightly as Piers gathered his things, her brother reassuring her of where they would be and to get some sleep. No matter how much time passed or how old they grew, she would always be his wee bairn of a sister.

Piers closed the door quietly and stepped up close, tilting his head up for a long, deep kiss in the silence of the night. He ran his hands up Raihan’s arms to hold his shoulders, sighing softly when the dragon reeled him in closer, hands at the other’s waist.

When they broke apart, Piers leaned his head against Raihan’s chest, each still trying to process what they had heard tonight.

“Not here,” Raihan said, a reminder for them both. He took Piers’ hand and they walked through the fortress together, the quiet so vastly different compared to the noise and joy of not so many hours past. They made their way outside, meeting very few people as they went, grateful for the emptiness of the streets.

Raihan couldn’t help but be nervous as they got closer and closer to the docks. He looked longingly at the smaller vessels they might have used with more time, but there was no use in wistfulness now. They went onwards towards the cliffs at the edge of the water, well out of the sight of the city. The moon was a distant goddess, far away tonight and looking on in apathy from her perch among dark clouds that made the dragon ache to make them heavy with rain, if only to mask just a bit of his trepidation from Piers.

“Raihan?”

Right, they were at the water’s edge, Piers waiting patiently beside him.

“Do I ever frighten you?” Raihan asked, kneeling down to look at the waves below. He shivered and felt the call more strongly than he’d felt in a long while. He wondered if the waters knew of his contentment now that Piers had promised to be beside him when he next set sail. He hoped they did, the sea deserved some joy after the weeks of storms.

“Yes,” Piers said, and Raihan closed his eyes, doing his best to push down the bitterness and hurt. He had befriended Piers thinking he knew everything. Foolish and so certain his heart would be safe from this mortal who sang sweetly and had captured his attention with a gold coin and some good-natured teasing. And here he was, all he’d longed for in his grasp, and still wanting more.

He threw himself into the water, letting the salty sting of it flood his lungs and begin to tear up his fragile human shell into foam and ichor. Pushing through the agony, he swam further out and then down, down, down as he felt his bones cracking and his flesh ripping apart. He had always been too large for this form.

His mouth opened on a scream that became a roar echoing through the depths.

 

/////

 

“They say you’re the dragon that sleeps beneath Hammerlocke.” Raihan looked up from his ale to find a young man with an infant strapped at his shoulder, her tiny mouth open and drooling against his shirt as she slept.

“Been sleeping under Spikemuth of late, but I’ll not argue the point,” Raihan had said with a grin, showing off his teeth and pleased when instead of being unnerved, the other came closer. “Pretty place, this.” He looked over his companion, assessing from the corner of his eye. “What does a lad like you need with a dragon?”

“Oh. Nothin’ really. Just wanted confirmation. Folks said it had been since before my time that you’d visited here. My name is Piers.”

“Piers, it’s a pleasure. Most here know me as Raihan. And it seems likely it’s been that long. I tend to lose track of the decades here and there. Humans go through bouts of being terribly boring,” Raihan drawled, and smiled when the lad laughed.

“We can be, I suppose. Even we need rest from our own ridiculousness. Though I would say that since I’ve not heard even one tale of dragons creatin’ much of anythin’ besides trouble, your lot must be even more dull than mine.” Oh, he liked this one.

Raihan threw him a mock offended look and placed a hand over his heart. “You wound me, friend! Not even the strongest metals can pierce my hide, but your words cut me to the quick!”

“Good to know I might fell a mighty beast should he ever cease being a friend to Spikemuth,” Piers quipped, and Raihan felt something soften in him when the infant at his shoulder barely started to fuss before he was soothing her back to rest with some soft words.

“The waifish warrior says as he croons a baby back into dreams.”

Piers grinned fiercely and turned to show off the small human. “Her name’s Marnie, my little sister. Loveliest bairn this side of the sea. And lucky she is, I’d be shite at this if she were even a mite more fussy than she already can be.”

Raihan leaned closer to get a better look. Her presence felt…off. Odd, and not human. He narrowed his eyes and Piers hurriedly drew her back.

“Now, don’t you be lookin’ at her like—”

“Changeling child,” Raihan hissed, suddenly recognizing the fae presence. He hadn’t felt it in too long. His last venture to the Court had been…uncomfortable, though not entirely unpleasant. “Did you know—”

“Aye, I know it,” Piers growled, standing suddenly and clutching her close, like Raihan might try and take her from his arms. The dragon blinked in shock. “And I’ll thank you to shut your gob about things that aren’t your business.”

He reared back, surprised at the lack of care this lad had for who he was speaking to. Most of the town gave him a relatively wide berth, though they were good to him and would welcome him in whenever he pleased. And they had the choice. Spikemuth was a land of old magiks, and it knew how to defend itself against all manner of things that were not quite human.

This city knew what weapons might slay a dragon.

“I meant no offense,” Raihan said, holding up his hands. “I was merely startled to feel such a thing here. Most humans cannot detect the presence of the fae in their midst.”

Piers scrutinized him for a long moment before he finally sighed and sat back down. “Sorry. I can be…quick to anger when it comes to her place here. I can’t…sense her either, it’s not that. I only know because she was put here on purpose.”

“What happened?” Raihan couldn’t help but smile when she yawned widely and burrowed further against her brother’s shoulder. Fae or not, she was a precious thing.

Piers bit his lip and looked out towards the square. “This has to stay with you if I tell you. As far as most of the town knows, she’s the same Marnie my parents had.”

It made sense, and Raihan was already too fascinated by this strange human to betray him. He agreed easily.

“My sister was ill, to the point where the doctors thought she wouldn’t make it through the night. My parents were distraught, and grief that powerful is like a siren call to the fae. One came to our door, offerin’ a trade. A fairy child in exchange for her, since there is no human illness in the Court. He promised she’d be most loved and safe with them. She’d want for nothin’ and the one who came here in her stead would be a good match for my family.”

Raihan wondered if he had ever met Piers’ sister when his visited the Court. He didn’t know if he hoped he had or not.

“My parents…” He gritted his teeth. “Cast him out. Told him they’d rather she die than be taken to live with the loveless fae. She was on her last hours, and I couldn’t stand by and do nothin’. She was strugglin’ to breathe but she cried and cried and cried…”

The dragon put a hand on the other’s shoulder, startling him from his unhappy thoughts. He watched the lad shake himself and smile weakly.

“So I stole her in the night and hoped my grief would call the fairy back. It did. I said I would make the deal, so long as her name became her own, unable to be summoned to Court at their whims. I think he liked that, because he granted her that and still allowed her to keep her status should she ever decide to return to them on her own.”

Raihan swallowed thickly. “Did…have you seen her since?”

Piers shook his head, taking in a shaky breath. “He came to visit this past year to tell me of her recovery. I can’t really trust him, I suppose, but there was a great deal of love in his voice. I’d prefer to think she’s as beloved there as Marnie is here.” He turned his face in towards his sister and kissed her soft head. “They’ve both seen nearly three years now.”

“What of your parents?”

Piers flinched, and Raihan immediately regretted asking. They sat in silence, and Raihan moved just a bit closer, offering his shoulder and feeling inordinately proud when the other leaned against him just a bit without thinking, wrapped up in his own thoughts.

“They left,” he finally said, and Raihan bit back a hiss. “They said…they said if I’d accept a monster for a sister then I could raise her myself, they’d have nothin’ more to do with us.”

Raihan stared at Piers, and the dismay and hatred must have been evident on his face because Piers frowned at him and used a finger to smooth out the angry lines between his brows. Raihan caught his hand and shook his head.

“Had they been dragons, they would have been executed for the abandonment of their hatchlings. I am…I can’t imagine—” He couldn’t even get the words out. He would rend them in two should they ever try to return.

“It doesn’t matter now. The town takes care of us as best it can. We have good people on our side. I’ll make sure she wants for nothin’, that she won’t even notice they’re not here.” The determination radiating from him made Raihan’s heart ache, just enough to be alarming to him. This sort of protectiveness was not often felt for anything that wasn’t of his world. He wondered if perhaps he should start spending more of his time with humans even when they weren’t doing anything particularly interesting.

“And you? What is it you want?”

Piers looked away with a shrug, fiddling with his sleeve. “I don’t want anythin’.”

“Surely there’s something.” Dragons lived in a constant state of wanting. He’d always thought it was one of the few things about human nature he could fully understand.

Piers turned to look at him, and Raihan felt something in the world change. He didn’t know what it was, only that something had been set in motion.

“I suppose I could use a friend.”

Raihan grinned, leaning back on his hands and laughing. “A friend? Hm, that would be a first for me. Dragons don’t have friends, we have allies.”

“Well, then how do we become allies?” Piers asked, leaning forward eagerly.

“An exchange of gifts. Shows goodwill and all that, giving something from one’s hoard.”

“I don’t have a hoard,” Piers murmured to himself. “Oh, but I do have this! Earned it singin’, some rich folk liked my song.” He reached into the pouch at his waist to draw out a gold coin. “Put that in your hoard, and we’ll be allies.”

Raihan eyed the coin greedily, but shook his head. “I’ll not take what might feed you for a month. And I have nothing from my hoard with me to give you in return.”

“A favor, then!” Piers decided, eyes sparkling with mirth. “If I can’t earn enough quickly, I’ll call on you to bring us food or somethin’ like that. Does that satisfy the rules?”

Raihan laughed and nodded. “I suppose it does.” He took the coin and turned it in his hand, admiring the golden gleam of it. “Very well, a favor of your choosing, whenever you should ask it. You have my word.”

So many years after and yet never enough time at all, as he watched dozens of ships burn around him, dragged them one by one to the ocean floor and licked the blood of Spikemuth’s assailants from his teeth, he realized his debt was paid. He’d never felt more hollow.

When he’d returned to the form that could feel as keenly as any human, he’d lain upon the rocks beneath the still smoldering ruins of Spikemuth, gripped the gold coin in his hands and screamed and screamed until there was nothing left of his grief. He had hoped to ask for Piers to be his mate with it, to offer back the most precious piece of his hoard. Piers would have understood what it meant. His favor would have remained, nothing needed in return. A gesture of selflessness from the most selfish of creatures.

Instead, he was left with Piers bound to him because he wasn’t strong enough to destroy his enemies without something to ground him. He had failed to uphold his end of the bargain, didn’t deserve to be an ally or friend to Piers, much less his mate.

He opened his hand and let the coin sink into the darkness of the water.

 

/////

 

His head emerged to the surface to find Piers biting his lip against a smile.

“Do you know, I think I figured out why it took so long for us to sort ourselves out,” he called down to Raihan.

He wavered, uncertain as he assessed what kind of mood the other was in, leaning up a bit to use his senses and—

Everything stopped for a moment and he couldn’t stop the questioning rumble that rattled the stones beneath him.

No fear smell.

No fear smell.

He drew a little further out of the water, emboldened by the way Piers reached for him. He set his claws against the earth to either side of Piers and heaved himself up, tongue flickering out again just to be sure he still couldn’t sense anything but his mate’s amusement and affection and…

And…

He blinked slowly.

“You thought I meant that I was frightened of you.” It wasn’t a question, and Raihan pushed his face against the entirely of Piers’ body, basking in the sweetness of the embrace and the headiness of the other’s arousal. His strange, wonderful, beautiful mate.

“Perhaps we might fare better if we stop assumin’ we know what the other is sayin’ and just listen,” Piers teased gently. “As if I could ever be afraid of you. Quite the opposite I’m afraid.”

“But whenever I’m like this…” He winced at his own voice.

“I’m constantly worried for you,” Piers corrected. “Think of all the times I’ve seen you like this until now. What were we doin'?”

Raihan ghosted over the memories of fighting off ships and fleeing from them and a city burning—

“You see?” Piers whispered and stroked the side of his face. “You frighten me all the time. I live in fear of a day where you don’t come back, with me miles from you and unable to do anythin’ about it. You’re reckless, you ridiculous beastie.” He snickered. “Drives me to drink, I swear it.”

Raihan closed his eyes, the two of them silent together for a long while. He would need time to make sense of this, to understand what it meant for them. It was always easier to wait until he was in a form better suited for that. Like this, the world was simpler. Quieter, in a way.

“We should go,” Piers finally said, and Raihan agreed. The pirate climbed onto his neck and gripped tightly at the spikes near the top of his spine while he carefully sank back down towards the water. He kept his head above surface to keep Piers from getting too wet as he swam towards the outcropping of caves not overly far from the shore. His lover hummed a bit as they made their way past an old ruin from before even Hammerlocke’s time. Crumbling stone and statue looked out sightlessly upon the misty sea.

The elfin knight stands on yon hill,
Blaw, blaw, blaw, wind blaw.
And he blows his horn both loud and shrill.
And the wind has blown my plaid awa.

Raihan’s heart soared to hear the voice of his mate as it always did, keeping time with his movements in the water. It carried over the sounds of the night, and the few souls still awake in the city stilled for a moment, a voice on the wind in the distance, though surely it was nothing but a tired imagination at play.

If I had yon horn in my kist,
Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw
And were in the lad’s arms that I love best
The wind would blow my plaid awa.

His eyes caught on a familiar glimmer under the water, darting towards them, and he turned his head enough to let Piers see it, too. The pirate hummed gratefully for a moment before he reached out a hand for Nessa to catch as she swam up beside them. She took it, letting him tote her along at their pace, drawing closer to the mouth of their preferred cave.

She was quiet as he sang, her eyes closing while she listened. She would be forever pleased with herself for saving this one. Even had they not become friends, the world would have been a lesser place without his voice in it.

When you’re done, and finished your wark,
Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw
You'll come to me, love, and get your sark.
And the wind shall blow my plaid awa.

Blow winds blow, blow winds blow, blow winds blow.

She sang along with the last of the words, not enough time to make it difficult for anyone to keep focus, but still enough to send shivers down Raihan’s form and make him bristle instinctually against the influence of magiks not his own. She threw him a knowing smirk and he bared his teeth at her; something between a threat and a grin.

“Behave,” Piers sighed. “Nessa, did Marnie stop here before she came to the city?”

“No, but I swam out to her as I did to you when she wasn’t so far from Hammerlocke. I’ve heard what’s happening in Wyndon.”

The pirate nodded and ran his free hand over his face tiredly. “It’s why we’re out here. We need to decide what we’re going to do before we involve any of the other Lords. This affects everyone, but Raihan and I have a…vested interest in makin' sure we’re in agreement beforehand.”

Nessa looked up at him sharply. “Explain.”

“We’re goin’ to be travelin’ together,” he said, unable to keep the excitement fully out of his voice. Raihan made a pleased sound of agreement.

Nessa’s teeth were sharp and her eyes dangerous as her gaze flicked to Raihan.

“Have things changed then?” She asked, directed at Piers, and Raihan’s heart sank a little. He hadn’t known, and he wasn’t the only one who had failed to communicate what he wanted, but it didn’t make him feel any less guilty that Piers had been suffering enough that his companions were suspicious of his intentions.

“Aye,” Piers said easily, laying his head against the back of Raihan’s. “In the best ways.”

Nessa’s face softened in wonder and Raihan threw her a guilty look.

“Oh, don’t make that face, Raihan,” she finally sighed. “So long as you treat him well, you’ll have no qualms from me. The more teeth we have to defend this one, the better I feel.”

“I’m perfectly capable of—”

“Hush, Piers, tied to his lifespan you may be, but that only helps if we manage to keep you from getting a sword to the chest. Or cannon fire to the chest. Anything to the chest, really, and the King’s new fleet has weaponry to end every last ship the Lords have. Gods, Captain Leon’s ship alone is capable of felling nearly anything, and if the rumors about the dragon are true…”

“They’re not,” Raihan growled, and Nessa tugged her hand out of Piers’ to swim backwards in front of the dragon as they came into the cave. “Eternatus is dead. Has been dead for centuries.”

“But if the King’s son has magiks like that—”

“We only have the word of one—”

“Marnie,” Nessa growled back as he brushed past her to lower his neck and let Piers climb off into the cavern. “Who would know better than any of us if that lad is a human sorcerer or a changeling child. And she suspects the latter, so I am inclined to worry that powers of necromancy are at work.”

“No one has ever successfully raised something from the dead for longer than a few minutes at most. And never something so vastly powerful!”

“And humans had never successfully killed a dragon before Spikemuth learned to forge its weapons,” Piers murmured, and Raihan shook his head. “Things change, Raihan, not always for the better.”

They all fell silent before Raihan dug his claws into the sand and rock and angrily dragged himself towards the inner rooms of the cave to where their hideaway was. The two of them watched him go before they looked at each other, feeling helpless in the face of what might lay before them.

“I’m going to…let you two talk,” Nessa finally said, exhaling shakily. “I need to speak with my sisters on this matter, find out if we can gather any other information. I will return when you set sail, and we can talk about what you and the Lords have decided then.”

“Be careful,” Piers said, leaning down to let her run her hands over his neck as he did the same for her. He held her there even after her arms had dropped, soothing her as best he could. Her gills eventually returned to their normal pulsing motions, rather than the rapid flutter of panic.

“Thank you,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I will see you soon. Try to stay out of too much trouble before I do.”

“You should know by now a pirate’s promises mean nothin’,” Piers said cheekily, and Nessa rolled her eyes.

“And you should know by now I can and will box your ears if you don’t do as I say. Now, be a good lad and go sort out your dragon.”

“Aye, Captain,” Piers said sardonically, laughing when she put her hands together and jabbed them towards him. “You wound me! No need to flip me off, such a terribly uncouth gesture for a fair sea lass.”

“I’ll show you uncouth,” she muttered, rolling her eyes before she smiled softly. “Be well, I will be beside Stormbreaker when her anchor has risen. Don’t wait for me if I am late, I’ll catch up.”

“Till then,” he replied, and she disappeared beneath the surface, heading back towards the entrance.

He waited until she was out of sight before he took a deep breath and turned to venture further into the cave. He heard the telltale signs of Raihan shifting back into his human form, the crack of bones and occasional scream echoing eerily through the cave making him wince.

He took up some blankets from the pile near one of the walls and brought them over as Raihan finished the process, panting and shivering as his body was made whole again. He wrapped one around the dragon’s bare shoulders, helping him stand and walk unsteadily to the pile of treasure and furs Raihan kept there for comfort whenever they had need of the caves, everything laden with spells to stay as it was until they returned.

He lay him back against the furs, glad to see he was already breathing easier and rolling his neck to dispel the discomfort. He went for the water bucket, grateful the dragon could drink salt water as easily as fresh without growing ill. He brought a cup of it to the other’s mouth and let him drink greedily awhile before he set it aside.

Raihan drew him down to lie with him, wrapping him up in his arms and sighing in relief when Piers rubbed his fingers in soothing circles at his temples. “It would have been easier for you to stay as you were. You’ll have to do all this again when we go back,” Piers chastised without any heat, and Raihan merely nuzzled closer and hummed in assent.

“I can’t be close to you like that,” he said, and Piers took in a sharp breath when the other ran a hand down his side, sliding it under his shirt to stroke over bare skin. “With Marnie in our rooms, I’ll not have another opportunity to make love with you until we set sail.”

Piers shot him a faux coy look. “Gods forbid, that’s a day and some away!”

“Mm, don’t know that I’ll survive it,” Raihan quipped, his eyes warm in their regard. “Not my fault my mate is the most exquisite treasure of any hoard.”

“All the flattery in the world won’t stop us from needin’ to discuss what we came here to discuss.”

Raihan drew back, a far more serious look in his eyes. “One hundred and thirty ships strong at least. Possibly more. And Leon at the helm with the largest, most dangerous ship on the waters. We can’t possibly hope to match it head on. Not even I can take so many ships at once.”

“The King will likely be havin’ eyes on us the moment we set out. If we lose anyone during our travels, we will need to recruit from within already known quarters.”

“Agreed. We should also start preparing our lesser ships to sail. I know some of the others will feel it makes them vulnerable, but we’re going to need to be able to act fast if the King decides to start testing the waters and I don’t want the main ships involved unless they have to be.” Raihan imagined each of the magnificent ships joining Obstinance and shuddered.

“What about land incursions? I worry most that the settlements will be attacked while we are too busy at sea to protect them. I can’t bear to watch another city fall…” Piers tucked his face against Raihan’s neck, unwilling to think about it further.

“We’ll make sure it doesn’t,” Raihan vowed. “Do you think the Court would come to our aid if we asked it? They would be able to defend the settlements.”

Piers considered it. “For a heavy price, perhaps. But the fae don’t often involve themselves in mortal affairs. They hate to risk their own for the petty squabbles of humans.”

“This is hardly petty—”

“To them it is. They’ve not had a true assault upon their lands in thousands of years, and they are a timeless and forgetful people. It’s entirely possible they will wait until the fight comes to them before they’re willin’ to join the fray. And if the King truly has managed to bring Eternatus back, this will affect them as well.”

Raihan grimaced. “I don’t…know what to think of that. You’re not incorrect that things change and that Marnie is an intelligent and capable Captain and spy. I would put my trust in her word for anything else. But if this is true…if Eternatus has somehow been awoken from the dead, we are not going to survive this. There are already creatures of the deep that could tear me apart with little effort, and Eternatus was the most fearsome of them all. He was not limited to the sea, he ruled land and sky in equal measure. And if he is of the undead, we have even fewer ways of defending ourselves.”

“We will survive this. I’ll not lose a single thing more to that bastard who has the audacity to call himself King. Or his overgrown Wyrm. What’s left of Spikemuth’s knowledge still lies within Hammerlocke’s vaults,” Piers reminded him, holding the other’s face in his hands. Raihan turned into it, kissing his wrist and palm. “Perhaps Marnie or Opal will stay and aid us with findin’ some answers there. Which…I was meanin’ to ask about. What the bloody buggerin’ hell were you thinkin’, giving everyone access to your hoard like that?”

Raihan huffed in annoyance and sat up. “They are trustworthy enough. They know better than to steal from me.”

“But it doesn’t make any sense! You hardly let me into the vaults, and now you’re givin’ access to a group of pirates that have nothin’ stopping them now from takin’ what they will?” Piers looked at his lover closely, sitting up as well. “You’re one of the most vastly intelligent beings I have ever met. So you’re not just makin’ a stupid decision, there is somethin’ behind it. You don’t do things like this without a reason.”

Raihan remained silent, his lips pressed tightly together.

“We’ve not even started our journey yet, and you’re already keepin’ secrets from me?” Piers asked gently, and Raihan hesitated. He finally shook his head, turning to kiss the pirate, laying back and pulling Piers on top of him. Piers moaned quietly when the other slipped a tongue into his mouth, an apology passed from one to the other without words.

“Not ones that will hurt us,” Raihan said when they broke apart. “Just…something I don’t want to discuss until I’m certain of its outcome. Is that alright?”

Piers gazed at him for a long while, his eyes taking in every facet of the beloved face before him. There was no deception to be found, nothing but Raihan’s usual earnestness and willingness to please him. If he pushed again, Raihan would tell him.

“I trust you,” he murmured, and pulled him back in for another kiss.

“What happened to ‘we need to talk about everything’?” Raihan teased, letting his head fall back so Piers could bite at his neck.

“You happened, as usual,” Piers grumbled, the sound turning to a sharp gasp when the dragon gripped the backs of his thighs and ground their bodies together.

“What did I do?” Raihan whined, the indignant expression on his face making Piers laugh.

“Nothin’, mo chridhe. But I have you right here lookin’ like everythin’ I love in the world, so you’ll have to forgive me my weaknesses.”

Raihan grinned at him and spread his legs, hands already starting to make short work of Piers’ trousers.

“You’ll hear no complaint on my part, love, save for if you take an age to get inside me.”

“The absolute arrogance of you,” Piers scolded, wrapping his hand around the other’s length and leaning over to kiss and lick his way down the other’s body. “Makin’ demands when you’re constantly keepin’ me at the edge. I ought to leave you just like this and make you take care of yourself.”

Raihan put Piers’ other hand on his body, running their fingers together over where he wanted to be touched, his eyes losing just a bit of their human facade when Piers followed the trail with his lips.

“You could,” Raihan whispered, eyes closing when Piers eventually put his mouth on his cock and started to sink down, keeping Raihan’s hips still as he fought not to thrust instinctually. He couldn’t think as Piers pushed himself as far as he could go, using his clever hands to make up for the difference on each stroke. The wet heat of it was dizzying.

“I would do as you asked, would let you have me in whatever ways you wanted.” He reached for the oil among the clutter of gems and gold, slicking his own fingers and reaching under himself to start opening himself up. Piers’ eyes were intent on him as he pulled back to watch Raihan’s fingers disappear into his body. Raihan had to stop himself from whimpering at the loss of the other’s mouth on him.

“But I would also implore you to think of how good I’ll feel around your cock,” Raihan said, throwing his head back when Piers coated his own fingers and pressed one in alongside his own. “Fuck, give me another, Piers, please!”

Piers complied with an indulgent smile. “Arrogant, vain, and greedy.”

“Dragon,” Raihan snickered, pulling his lover down to him. The two of them traded playful kisses until Piers’ heart felt like it might burst from how dearly he loved this incredible being.

“And yet somehow the least selfish person I’ve ever met,” he said gently, tugging at one of Raihan’s locs before he reached for the oil again to coat himself with it.

The other’s mouth parted just a bit, his breath coming faster as Piers began to push into him, gasping the pirate’s name when he stopped halfway and gripping the furs beneath him hard enough to tear. “Tease," he moaned, baring his teeth at his lover. “Piers, I beg of you, just—”

“Let me look my fill,” Piers said, and Raihan fell silent for a moment, stunned. “You’re not the only one who will be impatient to set sail. I’ve spent nearly a year from your side. We still have more to speak of before we go back to the fortress, so let me take what time I have.”

Raihan slowly reached up to run his hands over the other’s sides, pushing his hands into Pier’s hair and pulling it loose from its cord. “Mo dràgon beag,” he said softly, and Piers whimpered at the endearment, bringing him close.

The pirate didn’t make him wait much longer, finally thrusting the rest of his length in, making Raihan arch back against the furs and wrap his legs around the other’s waist. His other form was still too close to the surface to stop the scales from making their imprints upon his skin, a mirage in the low light of the cave.

“You fill me so well,” Raihan growled, writhing under him when Piers grabbed his hips for leverage and finally gave him what he wanted. “My body was made for yours.” His breath hitched when Piers pressed his forehead against Raihan’s shoulder and thrust hard enough that Raihan’s claws ripped into the stone beneath them.

The sound he made was inhuman, and it only served to make Piers double his efforts and take up his cock in a loose grip for him to push into. The sight of Raihan falling apart beneath him would always be one of the most beautiful things in the world, no matter how many new lands and people they encountered. He was always awed by the sheer power under his hands, the way Raihan entrusted it to him when he took him like this.

He could hear the water just beyond the cave crashing hard against the rocks, the waves responding to the dragon’s pleasure. He laughed breathlessly and kissed Raihan until he felt him tighten around his cock and grip at his shirt, spending himself in Piers’ hand. He worked him through it, waiting until his lover was keening low in his throat before pulling out and holding the other down by the shoulder to keep him still.

He used Raihan’s come to ease his way, pushing his cock into his fist over and over, until he was biting his lip hard enough to make it bleed with the effort of not crying out.

“Fuck,” Raihan whispered, staring as the pirate collapsed to a forearm over the dragon and came hard all over his chest. It felt like all the air had gone from the cave as they panted together and Raihan took Piers’ hand, slick from the both of them and dragged it down his stomach, delighting in the way it made Piers’ eyes go dark in understanding.

Yours.

Raihan sighed in satisfaction and let himself go boneless against the furs, closing his eyes and listening to the waves settle back down outside. Piers moved to lie beside him, letting Raihan play with his hair while they enjoyed what time they had left.

Eventually, Raihan groaned and stretched, taking in the pleasant soreness of his body and grinning as he loomed over Piers. “Having you on board is going to be terrible for business. I’m not going to get a moment of work done if I know you’re within arm’s reach whenever I want you.”

Piers laughed, flicking his nose. “Aye, I just thought the same. I suppose if we’re goin’ to be facin’ some truly terrible odds, we might as well enjoy ourselves.”

Raihan kissed his forehead and wrapped his arms around the pirate. “Agreed. Hm, see? We already work well as a team.”

Piers snorted, making them both laugh. “Alright, to work then. How are we plannin’ on keepin’ Leon alive if we encounter his new ship among the others?”

 

/////

 

They talked until the first rays of sunlight filtered into the caves, both exhausted but secure in their plans. Raihan was grateful for Piers’ gentle hands after they stumbled onto dry land near Hammerlocke, his lover holding him carefully as he settled back into his skin again. The back and forth hurt more when he pushed himself like this, but he couldn’t regret it when this form could embrace Piers back.

“You alright?”

Raihan hummed and nodded, rumbling contentedly and wondering if he might persuade Piers to send Marnie in their stead for breakfast while they got some much-needed sleep.

“Come on,” Piers said, helping him stand and the two of them cackling when he stumbled like a newborn foal.

They made their way back towards the fortress, leaning on each other every step of the way.