Author: Classics-Lover classics_lover
Pairing/Characters: Gillington (Gillette/Norrington) and Groves is here, too. Feel the Naval love.
Word Count: 1,300 odd.
Rating: 12A / PG-13
Genre: Romance, Humour
Summary: The Navyboys, in their Lieutenant years, discuss the origins of the Gillington relationship.
Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters, but it’s fun to play with other people’s toys.
Spoilers: Not one. Set pre-POTC1
Warnings: Boys kissing and mentions of bullying and Naval punishments.
Notes: Written for the Piratefic Challenge #1, “First Time, involving a candle, a secret and debt. I don’t tend to use beta-readers, so any mistakes herein are mine, all mine.
Special Thanks: Elvensorceress for setting up this comm., and Galadhir. She knows why.
It was not often the three Lieutenants were free at the same time, and so, on those few fortunate days when their reward hours coincided they spent that time wisely, telling tales of the time before the Dauntless, before the Interceptor, before Jamaica. They were such good friends that any question could be asked and would be answered, perhaps with some teasing, perhaps with an incredulous look or glare, but nothing was sacred between them. And, to make things fair for all, whomever bought a round of drinks was permitted the first question.
So, on one innocuous night when James Norrington, Andrew Gillette and Theodore Groves were free together, it was Groves who got the drinks in first. On his salary the drinks were not the expensive sherry, port or brandy favoured by officers of higher ranks, but beer, cheap and cheerful, but pleasant tasting beer.
“Ah,” sighed James, smacking his lips in contentment, “I am in your debt, Theo, thank you.”
“That’s an interesting choice of words, James,” said Theo with a sly smile.
“Oh, God, you’re going to ask something embarrassing, aren’t you,” muttered Andrew, rolling his eyes.
“Not embarrassing, Andrew,” said Theo with a mock innocent expression on his face, “just something unfit for polite society or our superiors to know about. A secret, if you will.”
“Well then, out with it, Theo. What d’you want to ask?” James seemed to address the palm of his hand, which covered his eyes, hiding them.
“When was your first time together?”
Andrew spluttered half a mouthful of beer back into the tankard, and James went white.
“But, it’s, we’re, it’s supposed to be a secret!” Andrew half shouted from nerves.
“How … When … How did you know?” James asked slowly.
“I’ve known since we came out here on the Dauntless with the Governor and his daughter. I … erm … walked in on a private moment between you. And I was curious about when … it began.”
“You’re not disgusted?” Andrew asked.
“Or disturbed?” James chimed in.
“Of course not. Some men prefer women, and some men prefer men. Whether society approves or not,” said Theo decisively.
“Says the man who reads reports of piracy for their sheer entertainment value,” said James with a small, wry smile. “Very well. I’ll tell you – but swear not to divulge this to another soul. We were assigned to the same watches and the same room aboard the HMS Lacedaemonian. Our affair began on a dark and stormy night--”
“No! It wasn’t a dark and stormy night James!”
“Yes it was, Andrew. It was the middle of the night in the trackless and rough Atlantic Ocean. It was dark and stormy!”
Theo almost burst out laughing at the juvenile debate that raged between his best friends.
“James, you know it wasn’t stormy, it was just not as smooth as, say, the Mediterranean.”
“I was a seasick midshipman of fifteen years, Andrew! My first voyage! And, by God, I was sure the ship was about to sink under the waves! So I think I shall maintain that the story begins on a stormy night!”
“Fine,” said Andrew, clearly sulking at having the story recounted differently than he would have liked. “But it wasn’t dark.”
“Yes it was, Andrew, for what is night but the absence of day, and what is day but the light of the Sun? It was therefore a dark night, as all nights are,” James finished speaking with an air of smugness, safe in the knowledge that he argued from a place of strength.
“But we had a candle in our cabin. And it was lit. Ergo, James, as you are so fond of saying, it was not dark.”
“It was a single candle that did little to illuminate the room, or the dead black of the hellwatch--”
“Gentlemen!” Theo cut in loudly, in order to prevent the whole night being spent in debate over the opening of the story. “I still don’t know how the story ends, so perhaps you might get round to that before fighting over the beginning? Please?”
“Alright, I’ll tell you about before that night, then. James was homesick and seasick, and spent every free moment lying in his berth crying his pretty green eyes out,” Andrew took up the thread of the story while James sipped his drink and sulked. “I took pity on him--”
“Pity!” James squawked in outrage.
“—And decided that I would try to make him feel welcome. Or, more welcome than the Lacedaemonian’s crew had made him feel up to that point. Frankly, even though I have Irish ancestors, I was made more welcome because I wasn’t from a wealthy background. James was as welcome aboard the Lacedaemonian as a pirate in Port Royal.”
“That’s true enough. At the time I couldn’t comprehend that their pranks and insults were a rite of passage. Andrew kept me from feeling too sorry for myself.”
“And James helped me with my mathematics and history.”
“So our friendship - our relationship – was a mutually satisfactory one.”
“Not unlike the friendships of historical Lacedaemonians - we were like two of the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae,” added Andrew cheerfully.
“I asked about your first time together, fellows, not the history of James’ first voyage,” Theo chipped in impatiently.
“We’re getting there,” James and Andrew chorused. They glanced at one another and smiled almost shyly.
“That night James had been in a fight, and caned for it, although it had not been his fault – he had been defending another middie from Third Lieutenant Kirwan. The Captain had all three caned and deprived of their rum rations. I found James sobbing quietly in his berth.”
“It was the injustice of it all. The Captain punished victim as well as villain, simply to restore order. And it felt wrong, and I was seasick, and I was not crying, Andrew!”
James glared at his lover over the potential slur against his ability to remain calm under strain.
“Of course you weren’t crying James,” said Andrew insincerely. “But whatever it was you were doing, Kirwan was out for your blood that night, and I knew it. I had to do something to keep James safe, so when I heard Kirwan coming to the middies’ berth, I leapt on top of James and kissed him. Just to shut James up, you understand, and to get Kirwan on our side. Kirwan, you see, had a similar arrangement with the Second. He would be sympathetic if he thought James was like him in that way.”
“Is that why you did it? Just to shut me up? I thought you wanted… me. That. Us.” James spoke softly; clearly his ego was wounded, if not his heart.
“Well, James, shutting you up was the catalyst, because Kirwan would never have let you live if he thought you were crying. You know it as well as I. But then, when you got over the surprise of…”
“Having an Irishman’s tongue curled around mine?” James asked innocently.
“Yes,” said Andrew impatiently. “That. Well, then you kissed me back. And I … quite liked how it felt, how it tasted. More so than when anyone else ever kissed me back.”
“How does James taste?” Theo asked curiously.
“Of sea, and sex, and goodness and light, and nothing remotely tangible,” said Andrew with a small, crooked smile.
“James? Same question, but about Andrew,” said Theo.
“Andrew tastes like love. And hope. And home. The sea, a bit, too. And … and I can’t think what else,” said James quietly but honestly.
Theo couldn’t bring himself to ask anything more intimate than that, for it was clear that he would need to know love for himself to understand anything else they might say.
“Funny thing, though,” said James as the three Lieutenants made their way from the private parlour of the Nag’s Head back to the Fort. “I never felt seasickness again after that night. Or homesickness, either, for that matter. A night of firsts and lasts, not just one first time.”