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He walked through officers’ country like he belonged there. 

It was a skill he’d learnt of old - if you never appeared to think yourself out of place, you could get into all sorts of places. Pub cellars packed with food and drink for the taking, servants’ entrances to London’s well-appointed townhouses, a ship bound for the Sandwich Islands. In recent weeks, he had discovered there were limits to how far he could insinuate himself - and was reminded of it constantly by the stinging mass of half-healed wounds which now impeded his usual confident stride. But he would be a poor student of command if he were unable to take defeat constructively. He knew now that oblique machination would be better applied in this case than direct action. Hence: officers’ country. Taking a route straight past Lieutenant Little’s cabin.

He had seen the revulsion in the First Lieutenant’s eyes, the numb discomfort on his face after the flogging. Pure squeamishness at seeing a man’s skin split open and his blood flowing out onto the boards? It was possible - many men otherwise heartier than Little were possessed of this unaccountable horror of injured flesh - but he did not think it likely. For he had also seen the twitching of his face on other occasions, carrying out other orders from the captain, the contraction of muscle under flesh that could become a snarl or a grimace with some gentle encouragement. He would dearly love to supply the motivation that was needed.

As he walked by the open door of Little’s cabin, he slowed his gait, made it hitching and uneven, a wincing dragging thing. Making himself piteous - not a proud occupation, but one that was easy enough with practice. Almost past the door now, and there, just in time—

“Mr Hickey?” The call was almost shy, nothing like what an officer’s tone ought to be. He sounded caught off-guard, almost - so early in the game, too. Perhaps he had surprised himself in deciding to call out.

He stopped, deliberately, and turned to stand straight before the lieutenant. Made his face impassive, just a bit curious in a solicitous manner - Anything you require, sir, I only wish to do my part. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

“Would you enter, for a moment?” Little looked somewhat frozen, as if he were suddenly unsure as to the wisdom of his course - but it was too late now, he was locked in with the leads closing. “I should like to speak to you.”

He dipped his head, shuffled painfully through the doorway, closed the door ever-so-helpfully behind him. Men say things behind closed doors, even on such a thin-walled ship, that they do not dare speak in the bare open. 

Little gestured him further in; turned his chair out and bade him stand before it. Did not, mercifully for his pride and unfortunately for his mission, offer him a seat that he could decline with wincing regret. For a moment he was occupied in the clearing of his throat and the licking of his lips, the casting about for something to say; then, at last, he said it. 

“I suppose I’ve wanted to...apologize, for the way you were treated.”

He cocked his head, made his eyes wide. Go on.

“Not,” the lieutenant stammered, “that I approve of what you did. The principle of your punishment was perfectly warranted.” Yes, alright, get on with it. “But it was—” A swallow, a closing of eyes, as if repressing a shudder. “It was cruel, to let the full number of lashes be served. I would not have— Had I known—” Little bit his tongue, visibly - most likely, he thought, the lieutenant was stopped by that peculiar scruple of honesty. Or perhaps it was simply that the lie would be so transparent - I would not have carried out the order, when anyone could see what a loyal pup he was for the captain. In any case it took him several moments of sighing to recover from these false starts.

Finally he seemed to settle. “I want you to know,” and here he sat forward earnestly, twisted his hands about each other in a nervous little braid, “that the men who command this ship are not all— do not all give such cruel orders.”

Here was an opening, a wedge he could drive wider, a wound whose smiling edges he could stretch and thrust his fingers into. He put on a mask of worry for the man before him - even wrung his own hands a bit, just for good measure. “I am glad to hear it,” he said softly, “for I‘d been given to understand that captains of our Navy should run just ships, and always comport themselves with the interests of the crew. I was disappointed to find—” He broke off, matching Little’s fumbling propriety. “Well. I am glad there are men like you in command, who care about folk like me.” He gave a little secretive smile as he said it - inviting the lieutenant into the pleasant glow of flattery.

Alarmingly, Little met this gesture with a trembling, catastrophic openness of his face, and a little choking sound in his throat. He looked perilously close to some great display of emotion - tears, perhaps, and how would he look as he wept? The lazy spark of curiosity this image brought was quashed quickly; an emotional outburst from Little at this juncture could spell doom for his working on the lieutenant. With a subordinate sailor he could be kind, could dry the man’s tears and whisper quiet words and show how merciful he was. But an officer might well shrink from the embarrassment of such a fit, and from the company of the man who had witnessed it. No, he needed to do something to redirect this strength of emotion, and quickly. 

He set a hand on Little’s knee - it was not difficult in the small cabin, he did not even have to stretch. The lieutenant started, gave out a small gasp, and oh, but this would be fun if he kept making such noises. His wet eyes were trained on the man before him - not angry or affronted, only rather fetchingly bewildered. “What are you doing?”

He slid his hand up higher, feeling the heat of skin beneath wool as he reached Little’s thigh. Feeling the stirring twitch as he reached up further. “Showing my appreciation.”

“I have not— This was not my intention,” Little gasped. He was growing stiff already. “I have not ordered this of you.”

“No,” he agreed with a wry smile. “I want to give it. An upstanding officer like yourself has likely been going without it, isn’t that so?”

Little nodded rather helplessly, licked his lips again. “That does not mean— It would be a violation. A dereliction of my duty.” He sounded rather as if he were trying to convince himself. 

“Compared to some of the other indiscretions of our current command,” he said with a tone surgically tactful, “taking comfort with a willing partner is no crime.” He gave a firm rub over the line of the lieutenant’s prick in his trousers. “One might say it is only what you are owed.”

Something caught in Little’s eyes then, a tremulous little spark. He wet his lips, blinked open-mouthed for a long moment. Then he nodded with something like a groan and slumped slack into his seat, into the hand on his prick. Yes, there you are.

It was quick work undoing the lieutenant’s fine trousers and fishing his cock out - half-hard and pinked up plump with blood, as if it were blushing to be so exposed. He spat in his hand - Little started at the sound - and worked it over from base to tip, feeling his way brazenly around the length of him. Plunged his thumb into the hood and teased the slit of it in a way that ought to be just this side of painful; that got him a sluggish welling of clear slick to spread over Little’s shaft

He moved closer under the foggy cover of his attentions, close enough to hear—  Yes, the sounds were entrancing. Here was this man, who had to be conscious of the danger that one courted by being anything less than silent during an assignation, yet was so overcome by a simple hand on his prick that he could not keep himself from breaking into unseemly gasping groans. 

As he let himself slip into a sloppy sort of rhythm around Little’s cock - his spit and the lieutenant’s own slick drooling down to drip over his sack, broad squeezing strokes and fussy little flicks about the head - he derived a certain pleasure of his own from the sounds he was wringing from his subject. It was a lazy coiled thing, not quite committed enough to send blood to his prick but sitting instead about his shoulders to observe the scene, purring and smiling all self-satisfied when Little sucked in those wounded-sounding breaths. 

When the lieutenant began to run his fingers through his own hair, tugging almost absentmindedly, this wyrm of desire sunk its teeth into his neck and pulled decisively. Sweet buggering lord, what a man he had found here. And if he could only break him down enough, what a man he could reshape from the pieces.

He snaked a hand ‘round the side of Little’s head, covering the lieutenant’s own hand almost gently to snarl his fingers in the hair that was grown long enough to violate the Articles all by itself. Widening the wound, gnawing at the crack in the boards. And Little gave beautifully, collapsing sidewise into his chest with a craning press into the hand that pulled and petted at his hair like it was a rope to be unsnarled. Another hot blurt from the tip of his cock, lord. He could feel the lieutenant’s every stuttering breath, feel his whines and hums before they escaped. He wondered, again, what Little would look like in tears. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps one day he could make him cry just with this. When he was better trusted, when he had made a gap large enough to fold himself into - a prick deep in the throat, a slap on the face or the arse, a hard bite on the back of the neck, and Little would break beautifully. Fat salty tears streaming messy down his face like the seed streaming messy from his prick as he was fucked, face or arse, fingers or cock. Wanton, heedless sounds, echoing about an empty deck. All in his service. He rubbed his thighs together absently to think of it, prick fattening without any real intention. Another night, perhaps.

Whatever Little’s face might have been about - for he could not see it, now, could only see the top of his head and the jut of his prick, feel his hot frantic breath on his shirt-front - his cock was weeping great gouts, twitching in the hand that held it, like a horse in need of gentling. In this case, however, gentle was neither requested nor required; he stripped the lieutenant’s prick off fast and thorough, chasing him off the edge of the cliff. Come on, he thought, careful not to speak - for he had the impression it might somehow startle the man he was bringing off - nearly there, come on now. And then Little was there, shuddering and fucking up minutely as he came, and the flood of hot spend he produced made an “Oh” slip from his mouth entirely without his leave. 

Little was not startled by this lapse of forbearance, probably because he had screwed up his face and burrowed deep enough into the shirt of the man frigging him as to be entirely insensible. His head lolled back in the aftermath, and the blacksmith’s bellows of his chest slowly went from heaving shaking breaths to quiet ones. He pawed for the waistband at his elbow, but was pushed away by the hand still in his hair. 

This was difficult - he wanted to, he really did. He wanted that mouth choking around his prick. But he would have to wait; it wouldn’t do to push it. Let the lieutenant sit in it a bit, let him start to torment himself for taking advantage - then he would return and absolve him of all worry, whisper sweet words about how good a captain he would be and how good a hole he was currently. For now, he shook his head and extricated himself nimbly from Little’s faltering grasp. 

“Goodnight, Lieutenant Little,” he said with a smile that could be any number of things, and slid the door open to leave. He slunk back out into the corridor, positioning his coat carefully for he really was more affected than he’d have liked. The night was still young - perhaps he’d find a Marine to amuse himself. Someone with long dark hair who would go arse-up for him without much convincing. Someone whose hair he could pull as he fucked in. Someone onto whom he could project the image of Lieutenant Little, face a mess of snotty tears, squeezing hot around his cock. That, he decided, was something to work towards.