jack_aubrey: *irritably* That is not a G.
stephen_maturin: *tries again*
jack_aubrey: *even more irritably* Flat.
stephen_maturin: *still humming*
jack_aubrey: *smacks his hand down on the table* Stephen, I had only two hours' sleep last night. In case you failed to notice, there was a terrible blow.
stephen_maturin: *starts and looks up at him* Then perhaps, while it is quiet, you should have a nap.
jack_aubrey: *somewhat sullenly* It's quiet now.
stephen_maturin: Do you want me to leave?
jack_aubrey: *utterly grouchy* That's what you want? *fidgets and looks unhappy*
stephen_maturin: *in a small, soft voice* Would you like me to fetch Maximus for you?
jack_aubrey: *fidgets more and looks even more unhappy* He's asleep, isn't he?
stephen_maturin: Yes, he is, though he certainly had more sleep than you did.
jack_aubrey: In your cabin.
stephen_maturin: Yes, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *gets up, fetches his violin and plays some maudlin-sounding music*
stephen_maturin: *sighs* Do you desire his company more than mine?
jack_aubrey: Would you be here at all, if he were awake?
stephen_maturin: Yes, Jack, I would, if you would allow me to be.
jack_aubrey: I didn't ask you to leave. You told me that I should have a nap.
stephen_maturin: *sighs* You made mention of how little sleep you have had, you are obviously exhausted, and I made a suggestion for the sake of your well-being.
jack_aubrey: *puts down the violin before he gets mad and snaps a string* Then why don't you...
stephen_maturin: What, Jack? What do you want from me?
jack_aubrey: *glaring, then looking away* You said that you would only be upset if I didn't tell you.
stephen_maturin: Ah. So you want to hear about the many and varied ways I had him last night, is that it?
jack_aubrey: Well, if you'd rather not tell me, Stephen, I've no wish to make you turn informer!
stephen_maturin: I didn't have him at all. We had not yet encountered a gale like that while he has been on board and he was quite ill.
jack_aubrey: *somewhat disbelieving, though he also has a hard time believing that Stephen would lie to him about this of all things* He was on deck with me for hours, and he was fine. Did he ask you not to tell me?
stephen_maturin: *nodding* I did not lie, I simply respected his wishes that you not know how much he did not enjoy himself once the weather set in.
jack_aubrey: And if he was unhappy with me, and wanted you all to himself? Would you lie for him?
stephen_maturin: No, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *makes an unhappy noise* Why wouldn't he tell me? And why didn't you tell me something, rather than letting me believe all morning that the two of you spent the night together but did not wish to tell me about it?
stephen_maturin: I thought, at some point, that he would tell you. I think he was -- is -- rather embarrassed about it, considering how little difficulty he had adapting to life here.
jack_aubrey: He watched me swallow down some coffee and throw it up five minutes later. I don't see why he should be embarrassed. He must know I don't expect him to be a sailor when he ain't!
stephen_maturin: I wish I knew what to say. I think he is trying, very hard, to impress you.
jack_aubrey: *looks slightly exasperated* But he has no need to impress me. He has no need to impress anyone on board -- even the ones who muttered about me bringing my "brother" on board put a stopper in it once they saw him use a sword.
stephen_maturin: I know that as well as you do.
jack_aubrey: *gives Stephen a somewhat speculative look* Was he very ill? That is, did you observe symptoms of illness in him, or did he tell you that he felt ill?
stephen_maturin: He vomited on my boots, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *has to stifle a guffaw at this* Anyone might have vomited on your boots in that dirty weather. But I believe he likes to have you take care of him.
stephen_maturin: *raises his eyebrows*
jack_aubrey: The man led a Roman army. He fought in the arena. He has scars in places I don't like to think about. Does that seem to you like a man who could hardly withstand the pain of even your most noxious salve, or a little seasickness?
stephen_maturin: *ponders this for a long moment* No, it does not.
jack_aubrey: *looks pleased with himself* He is looking for excuses to be alone with you. Did you? Take care of him?
stephen_maturin: Of course I did. I AM a doctor and as far as I could tell, he was an unwell patient.
jack_aubrey: And now he is sleeping happily in your cot. I don't think the scars that hurt him are on his body, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *frowning and nodding and looking down at the table*
jack_aubrey: *sighs a little* Well, I am sorry I spoke so harsh before.
stephen_maturin: No, Jack, do not apologize for it.
jack_aubrey: But I want to apologize. I should never have...it is not that I distrust you, not at all.
stephen_maturin: There is no harm done, my dear.
jack_aubrey: I don't want you to think that I would be angry, if you, and he had been together. I cannot pretend that I will not be jealous, a little.
stephen_maturin: *smiles* I understand.
jack_aubrey: *anxiously* And, you would tell me?
stephen_maturin: Of course I would.
jack_aubrey: Now, will you come and hold me while I sleep, or must I tell you that I have a wound?
stephen_maturin: *smiles and gets to his feet, pulling Jack close to him for a kiss* Of course I will hold you.
jack_aubrey: *holds on to him* Will you sleep?
stephen_maturin: Yes, I probably will.
jack_aubrey: I am afraid I will be useless as a companion until I am rested.
stephen_maturin: *softly* I would like very much to be with you. Even if you are sleeping.
jack_aubrey: Come, then. *tugs on his hand toward his sleeping cabin*
stephen_maturin: *follows along very willingly*
jack_aubrey: *crowds them both into his cot*
stephen_maturin: *settles down beside him, his head on Jack's shoulder*
jack_aubrey: *slightly anxious* You do not feel that we are putting too many demands on you...he and I?
stephen_maturin: No, Jack, not at all.
jack_aubrey: *holds him tightly* He asks for your help because he cares for you. I know it. And I cannot say I blame him.
stephen_maturin: *chuckles softly* And why is that?
jack_aubrey: Why, because I would rather have your hands on me as often as I can.
stephen_maturin: *smiles and kisses him* That is sweet of you to say, love.
jack_aubrey: *pulls him up a bit so he can kiss him more* I do not say it out of kindness. I say it because it is the truth.
stephen_maturin: *kisses him back* Then I am pleased.
jack_aubrey: Only pleased? *squirms against him* You must tell me, Stephen, if I could make you happy, in what small ways I can.
stephen_maturin: Jack, I am not unhappy. Please, love, you must believe me.
jack_aubrey: I do believe you. But I listened to you claim that you were not unhappy for several years, over Diana, when it was clear that you were not happy either.
stephen_maturin: *sighs* Please. This is not the same.
jack_aubrey: Is it so very different? We have never spoken of it, but you knew that I was seeing her, and I did not stop when I first discovered your attachment.
stephen_maturin: Yes, this is different. We...we agreed upon this, from the beginning.
jack_aubrey: I know, but...Stephen, I did not expect to become so attached to him. I thought perhaps to distract him for a time, when I invited him onto the ship, and then I thought that we might all enjoy one another. I suppose I did not think about whether he would come to love us, either.
stephen_maturin: No, it would seem that neither of us thought about that as a possibility.
jack_aubrey: It seemed so terribly unreal. Like a game. A Roman gladiator with my face! On my ship! I barely knew the man when I asked him to sail, and I thought you might think us both mad.
stephen_maturin: Oh, dear Jack, please do not ever use such words to him -- I think they would wound him terribly.
jack_aubrey: Of course, I would never say so. Though I do wonder what he must have thought of me, asking a perfect stranger to come aboard. I am of the opinion that he cared too little for his life to worry about what sort of a man I might be.
stephen_maturin: Yes, that is entirely possible. He knew we were in the middle of a war and perhaps he thought he might earn an opportunity to die with honor.
jack_aubrey: *shaking his head* He does not want to die. You and I have both seen men ready to give up their lives -- the ones who surrender to an illness that might have been treated, had they fought it a little, and the ones who slip overboard because they will not clap on or keep to the shrouds. This man does not keep to himself. He does not try to sleep away the day. Whatever he might say, he is not sorry to be alive.
stephen_maturin: True, though he did keep to himself for quite some time until you took a further step to befriend him. Perhaps, Jack, you helped to change his mind.
jack_aubrey: I am certain that he was overwhelmed, as were we, to encounter a place where the dead speak to the living and there are people who claim to be from outer space -- well, I suppose that they may in fact be from outer space, I cannot explain that legate_damar fellow, otherwise. And can you imagine if we took all those women who write to us seriously?
stephen_maturin: *is chuckling softly*
jack_aubrey: I have wondered whether several of them are, in fact, one woman who uses different names. She -- or they -- seem very young. I fear an arrest if I speak too forward, ha, ha!
stephen_maturin: Then do be careful, my love. *kisses him*
jack_aubrey: *kisses him back* I assure you, my dear, none of them could tempt me from your side. I will tell you what I do wonder, however. Do you know how Maximus claims there is nothing he wants more than to see his family again, and this Cicero...
stephen_maturin: Yes, indeed I do.
jack_aubrey: In a place such as that, where we met him, it is not impossible that he should find them there, is it?
stephen_maturin: I would imagine that anything could be possible, but what are the chances?
jack_aubrey: I met a man who claimed a dark wizard named Voldemort had offered to bring back his dead wife. I would think the chances might be reasonable, if he wanted it badly enough, or perhaps if he was mad enough. I only wonder...you know how it is, sometimes, meeting a friend whom you have not seen in a very great while, and discovering that he is not really as you remembered him, or perhaps as you imagined him, at all?
stephen_maturin: Yes...but he did say that he had been with them in the afterlife.
jack_aubrey: Don't you suppose the afterlife to be rather like a dream, though? That if he were to encounter them in this place, which is apparently real, no matter how strange it might seem, they might not be as he might wish them to be? Did I tell you that I had met a young woman who slays vampires? She also claimed to have been dead and returned. I should ask Maximus whether he ever spoke to her.
stephen_maturin: Ah...I understand now what you mean. It is entirely possible that Maximus has indeed spoken to others who claim to have been dead and returned -- they might have understood his story in some way, offered comfort and support.
jack_aubrey: *is quite surprisingly awake, given how exhausted he should be at this point* That was actually not my point. What I was curious, Stephen, was if for instance he should meet this Cicero there, do you think he would simply say farewell to us? What of his wife, if he should like to bring her aboard to keep her away from his enemies -- but I cannot allow any man to bring a woman on my ship!
stephen_maturin: And as much as we might lament that, if he did find his wife, he would go off with her and we would not hear from him again, do you think his wife would be exactly as he expected?
jack_aubrey: *sighs* Here you said that you would like to be alone with me, yet I have spoken of little besides him. I am sorry, Stephen. It is all just so confounding. And now I must go above -- the wind has died. I can feel it.
stephen_maturin: *stroking his arm* I know, love.
jack_aubrey: *hums softly and gives him a slightly suggestive smile* I will see you for dinner, and after.
maximus_tm: *passes Jack on his way up, greets him very happily and goes to ask Stephen to teach him music notation*
jack_aubrey: *spends most of the watch discussing the sails with the master*
stephen_maturin: *gives Maximus some music to transpose and works on some drawings*
jack_aubrey: *comes down after a great deal of noise in the approach*
stephen_maturin: Whatever was that terrible noise?
jack_aubrey: *unhappily* There was a spider, an enormous spider. I am sorry, Stephen, but I am afraid that it has been quite crushed.
stephen_maturin: Oh I see. Was it threatening to devour the foretop, or unstringing the hammocks?
maximus_tm: *to Jack* Are you to be forever teased for your dislike of things that creep and crawl?
jack_aubrey: *huffily* Maximus does not like spiders either, and Maximus is afraid of nothing.
maximus_tm: Yes, I am. I'm afraid of spiders.
stephen_maturin: You are?
stephen_maturin: What did you do, if you were leading an army and a spider dropped onto your sleeve?
maximus_tm: It would depend on whether or not someone was watching me! *laughs*
jack_aubrey: *somewhat defensively* I am, of course, not really afraid of spiders. I merely dislike them greatly. Now, I am not ashamed to admit that I am afraid of poisonous snakes, nor of bees, which can sting a man to death.
maximus_tm: Oh, I am indeed afraid of spiders. Loathe them. Can fairly well deal with any other insect -- just keep the damned spiders away from me! *laughing* One night -- it was the middle of summer, and I was in my tent, and a spider had crawled in. It must have been... oh, this big? *holds his thumb and forefinger about two inches apart* Massive thing, horrid. I had been sitting in a chair, at the table, studying a map, and it was crawling towards me and I was frozen in fear. Cicero -- my dear Cicero, he had just come up behind me, and he saw it, and took it outside. I was too horrified to even demand that he put the thing out of my misery. I was shaking so hard I could not hold my wineglass.
jack_aubrey: *is staring at him through this monologue with a look of utter fascination* Maximus...did you not have your sword?
maximus_tm: I simply could not move to even try to grab it -- it was, of course, nearby but... *shrugs helplessly* It was the biggest spider I had ever seen in my entire life. I thought it might try to eat me.
jack_aubrey: *is struggling desperately not to laugh at the image of Maximus, with his great arm muscles, frozen in fear looking at a spider* But...you led your armies against hordes of barbarians!
maximus_tm: Yes, but I never feared that they would sneak into my tent in the middle of the night and start nibbling on my toes! Take off my head perhaps, but that is far more preferable to being eaten toes-first.
jack_aubrey: *finally gives up and starts laughing* Do you know...Stephen once tried to tell me...the rats on the ship, if hungry enough...but I still prefer them to a spider!
maximus_tm: *laughing as well, reaches out and clasps his arm* Give me barbarians, and give me rats, but keep the spiders at bay!
jack_aubrey: *clutches at his arm, laughing uproariously and leaning toward him* Oh...the entire French fleet...but not a spider!
stephen_maturin: *sitting there, silently sketching them like this*
maximus_tm: *wipes a tear from his eye* What a pair we make, Jack!
jack_aubrey: *leans over and embraces him fraternally, slapping him on the back* I am so pleased that someone here has the good sense to understand!
stephen_maturin: *glances briefly at him, a tiny smile on his face, and continues his drawing*
maximus_tm: *sighs a little* I am afraid to say, Jack, that I fear that Stephen may indeed be the brave one, for he has faced not only his own enemies -- but terrible spiders. I saw drawings, in his cabin, that would give me nightmares.
jack_aubrey: *smile fading quickly, looking at Stephen's fingers* Oh, Stephen is the bravest man I have ever known. I do not think Lord Nelson could be braver under torture. Except, of course, when climbing into the foretop.
stephen_maturin: *glances up at Jack again, giving him a sad little smile* Your words are too kind, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *withdraws an arm from around Maximus for a moment to reach for his hand, speaking quietly* My words are not too kind. I was there.
stephen_maturin: *lifts Jack's hand to his mouth and kisses his knuckles*
maximus_tm: *frowns a little, feeling quite suddenly like an intruder*
jack_aubrey: *aware that these are not happy memories for Stephen, wanting to break the solemn mood* Of course, I have not forgotten your terror of climbing to the lubber's hole those first weeks on the ship.
stephen_maturin: Which is only sensible. *smiles a little* Except for men like you and Maximus, of course.
jack_aubrey: *laughs and slaps his hand on the table* Stephen, I have seen ten year old boys climb fearlessly to the top!
stephen_maturin: Yes... *trying to think of a witty comeback* Well.
jack_aubrey: In fact Maximus climbed up without any hesitation despite the fact that he had never even seen a square-rigged ship before we met!
maximus_tm: It was great fun.
stephen_maturin: *sighs and shakes his head sadly, and returns to his drawing*
jack_aubrey: You have adapted to life here remarkably well. The blow last night did not disturb you overmuch, I hope?
maximus_tm: Oh. Ah. No, not too terribly much. *scratches the back of his neck* Though I did -- I could not -- I was sick on Stephen's boots.
jack_aubrey: *chuckles softly* I daresay that happens to Stephen four or fives times in such a blow.
stephen_maturin: *rolls his eyes a little*
maximus_tm: *looks embarrassed*
jack_aubrey: Killick knows to bring me only half a cup of coffee. I will drink it, shout some orders, throw it up, shout some more orders and call for more coffee. Whereas Stephen will tell you that he never becomes ill from the sea, but that he has been bitten by a rare poison lemur from Catalonia and will soon expire.
stephen_maturin: *gives him a glare*
maximus_tm: *ducks his head and lets out what sounds distinctly like a snicker*
jack_aubrey: *in response to Stephen's look, squeezing Maximus' arm again* I'm dreadfully sorry...was it not a lemur? A shrew, perhaps, or a mink?
stephen_maturin: Do not make me show you my spider.
jack_aubrey: *lets out an exaggerated, theatrical shriek and throws himself toward Maximus* Oh! Save me!
maximus_tm: *throws his arms around Jack* Save you? Save ME!
Killick: *sticks in his head to see why there was shrieking, rolls his eyes and leaves, muttering, when Jack and Maximus shout together, "SPIDER!"*
maximus_tm: *leans heavily on Jack, laughing helplessly*
jack_aubrey: *is howling, practically falling out of his chair*
maximus_tm: *tries to hold him upright, reaching out to wipe away a tear of laughter from Jack's cheek*
jack_aubrey: *clutches at him, spluttering* Did you see his face!
maximus_tm: Whose, Killick's? *giggling a little*
stephen_maturin: *drawing, having gotten used to great amounts of noise while he's working*
jack_aubrey: *nods, mopping his own face, then Maximus'* He is an excellent manservant and as silent as anyone could wish about my private matters, but he will mutter and complain!
maximus_tm: *is smiling broadly, reaching out and tucking a stray strand of hair behind Jack's ear* So long as he does not talk, I think we can cope with a little bit of complaining.
jack_aubrey: *still chuckling* He washes my clothes and my blankets, so I have never had a hope of keeping any secrets from him. He is deeply loyal, the best sort of man. He even makes Stephen's coffee the way he likes it.
maximus_tm: And he makes excellent pudding. *smiles more*
jack_aubrey: Oh, the cook makes the excellent pudding. When the cook is indisposed and it is left to him, Killick makes the watery mess we had the other night. But I would not trade him for any other steward. Are you hungry? I could have him bring something...
maximus_tm: Oh. I didn't realize. *sighs a little* Mm... food. Yes, food sounds wonderful.
jack_aubrey: *gets up, calls for Killick, asks for food, thanks him profusely, and comes around the table behind Stephen as he returns* May I see?
stephen_maturin: *quickly turns the drawing upside down* It is not finished yet.
jack_aubrey: I wasn't planning to exhibit it at the Royal Academy, Stephen, I only wanted a look.
stephen_maturin: You may see when it is done, Jack. Now sit. *points*
maximus_tm: *grinning to himself*
jack_aubrey: *sighs and stomps a little as he goes to sit* Will you at least describe it to us?
stephen_maturin: No. *resumes drawing*
maximus_tm: *peers at Jack and shrugs a little*
jack_aubrey: No! Stephen, please.
jack_aubrey: *to Maximus* Perhaps we could persuade him somehow.
maximus_tm: I'm far too hungry to try any persuasion. *sighs tragically*
jack_aubrey: I do have some salted pork hidden away somewhere... *goes digging, finds it* If you tell Killick, he may try to have me flogged.
maximus_tm: *laughs* Upon my honor, Jack, I shall not utter a word.
jack_aubrey: *gives it to him and goes to get wine, trying to peek surreptitiously over Stephen's shoulder as he does so*
stephen_maturin: *is hiding the drawing quite well*
maximus_tm: *eats the pork* Are you certain that you will not tell us?
jack_aubrey: If you were kinder to us, Stephen, we might volunteer to pose for you. Me with my violin and Maximus with the cello, perhaps. You could draw angel's wings on us if you liked.
stephen_maturin: I am almost done.
jack_aubrey: *gives him what is meant to be a sweet smile, though it comes out passing wicked* I am only trying to be helpful. Would you like wine?
stephen_maturin: Yes, please. *returns to drawing*
jack_aubrey: *gets glasses and pours for all of them* How long did you sleep, Maximus? I hardly saw you today.
maximus_tm: Oh, too long, I think! *laughs a little*
jack_aubrey: We all had a rather trying night. *grins a little at Stephen*
stephen_maturin: *grins back, and then lowers the drawing onto the table so they can see -- a portrait of the two of them looking at each other and smiling, holding on to each other's arms* It is certainly not my finest work...
jack_aubrey: *picks it up and studies it, lips parted, utterly fascinated* Oh. Oh. Stephen, it is...well, I do not speak as an artist, of course, but it is quite... *he gropes after a word, startled at how moved he is by it*
maximus_tm: *comes around the table to stand beside Jack and look at the drawing* Why--Stephen, you leave me speechless.
jack_aubrey: *has absolutely no idea whether it is a very good drawing -- he thinks Maximus' lips are too broad, and his own face can't possibly be that round -- but he is fascinated by the way Stephen has drawn their expressions* We look as though we, we, ah...
maximus_tm: We look...
stephen_maturin: *looking up at them expectantly*
jack_aubrey: *glances up quickly at Maximus, blushes, then looks down again* Stephen...do we often look at one another so?
stephen_maturin: *nods* Yes, Jack, you do.
jack_aubrey: *is thinking it's a very good thing that everyone on board thinks Maximus is his brother* I see. *furrows his brow slightly* I did not realize that my face was so very...Stephen, do I look at you like this?
maximus_tm: *very softly* You have a different look entirely for Stephen. You do not look upon us the same way.
stephen_maturin: *is quite suddenly blushing*
jack_aubrey: *looks up at Maximus* How do I look at Stephen?
maximus_tm: *struggles for words* He is -- oh, Jack, how can I explain...
jack_aubrey: *is studying Maximus' face* Can you show me? We look so very like one another...is there anything you can think of that would allow you to mimic the expression...
maximus_tm: *closes his eyes and bites his lip, thinking instantly of his dear wife, how much a part of him still longs so much for her, and then looks at Jack with an expression of love, and openness, and of vulnerability, rather laid bare before him*
jack_aubrey: *thinks he is going to weep, and blinks and looks at Stephen who is also looking at Maximus, which just makes matters worse* Oh.
maximus_tm: *looks down* But that is -- that is private, I have noticed. There are looks that you give to him as your friend, others when he is your doctor ... that is how you look at him when we are alone... particularly when you seem to have forgotten I am here.
jack_aubrey: *is reaching out in both directions, for Stephen and for Maximus* I have never forgotten...but I have known him for so long, and he is so much a part of my life, I do not remember the last time I was happy when I did not share it with him...
stephen_maturin: *goes to take Jack's hand, and starts when the door opens and Killick comes in*
jack_aubrey: Thank you, Killick, please just leave it on the table.
Killick: *does so, grumbling, and leaves*
jack_aubrey: *grabs both of their hands, still looking stricken*
stephen_maturin: *gets to his feet and kisses him, and strokes his face* Hush, love. Do not look so distressed.
jack_aubrey: *holds on to him, tugging at Maximus*
maximus_tm: *holds them both, stroking Jack's back, kissing his ear* My dear Jack...
jack_aubrey: *leans his head against Maximus, still clinging to Stephen* Who were you thinking of?
maximus_tm: My--my wife.
jack_aubrey: *pulls him in closer* I'm sorry. I had no right to ask that of you.
maximus_tm: *holds him* It is quite all right.
jack_aubrey: *swallows and pulls himself together, rather embarrassed* Please, both of you, sit before the food gets cold. I shall get the silver...
stephen_maturin: *squeezes Maximus' hand and then they both sit at the table*
jack_aubrey: *comes back and starts serving, glancing down at the picture* He is smiling more broadly than I am, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *studies the picture for a moment, then takes it back as Jack is serving and works on it a little more, giving them identical smiles*
jack_aubrey: *is a bit startled* I did not mean that as an artistic criticism. It surprised me, was all. *glances over his shoulder, then up at Maximus* Maximus does not often smile so unreservedly. Nor do you.
stephen_maturin: No, it was indeed my mistake -- you ... you were like mirror images of each other in that moment. It was rather breathtaking, really, to see that before me.
jack_aubrey: *smiles at Maximus* Breathtaking? I hardly think...
stephen_maturin: No, it was, Jack. *puts the picture down, as he is happy with it for the time being, and starts eating* You underestimate your own good looks.
jack_aubrey: *looks at Maximus and studies him, then grins again* Would you call me breathtaking, Maximus?
maximus_tm: *blushes a little* I might. *starts eating*
jack_aubrey: Why, Stephen, this man is a narcissist! *laughs delightedly and preens a little, entirely unconsciously, happy that Maximus seems happier and that Stephen called him breathtaking*
maximus_tm: *is blushing more*
stephen_maturin: *smiles at Jack, rather amused by the preening*
jack_aubrey: *about to stuff food in his mouth, pausing and realizing that he will never be as impressively muscled as Maximus if he does so, then realizing that he will never be as impressively muscled as Maximus no matter what* Could you draw him, Stephen, with hair like mine?
stephen_maturin: *glances at Jack, then at Maximus, then looks at Jack again* Yes, I do suppose I could. *looks at Maximus again*
jack_aubrey: Does yours curl, when it is longer?
maximus_tm: Not so much as yours, as my hair is heavier, though it has not been longer in a very long time.
jack_aubrey: *reaches over and parts Maximus' hair in the middle, pushing it behind his ears where it is growing out* It is thicker...like my hair when I was younger. Too much sea and sun will take their toll!
maximus_tm: *smiles at him* I am actually quite fond of your hair, Jack.
jack_aubrey: When Stephen goes before the board of physicians he must wear the ghastliest wig. I prefer a sailor's pigtail, myself.
stephen_maturin: Leave the wig out of this. *grinning a little*
jack_aubrey: You're not still angry about the time I suggested... *gives Stephen a very, very naughty smile*
stephen_maturin: *gives him a look in return*
maximus_tm: Oh, I must know.
jack_aubrey: *is chuckling wickedly* You must understand that it is much more difficult for us to be alone together when we are in England. And sometimes we must seize whatever time we may. Which means that if I should chance to find Stephen in his rooms, wearing his wig...
stephen_maturin: *sighs tragically*
maximus_tm: *eagerly* Yes?
jack_aubrey: He did try to discourage me, but I would not be dissuaded. I'm afraid that I had made something of a mess. And since we had no towel, and could not risk leaving his rooms with our clothing stained...
maximus_tm: Oh! With the WIG? *is laughing*
jack_aubrey: *is laughing too, avoiding Stephen's glare*
maximus_tm: Oh. Oh dear. *chuckles softly and finishes off his food*
jack_aubrey: He shall never forgive me for that, I fear.
stephen_maturin: *sighs tragically* No. Never.
jack_aubrey: Come, now, my dear, I forgave you, after your wombat gnawed my hat.
stephen_maturin: *smiles suddenly at him and takes his hand* I know.
jack_aubrey: *picks up the hand and kisses it* And we forgave each other for the sloth.
stephen_maturin: Yes, of course we did.
maximus_tm: *is watching them*
jack_aubrey: *meets Maximus' eyes* He called me a trollop, just because I did not realize that the sloth could get drunk.
maximus_tm: *laughs at this* A trollop!
jack_aubrey: In French, no less. *smiles from the one to the other, wondering whether there is a polite way to invite them both to go rest with him on the locker, or on the floor*
stephen_maturin: *is looking at them, wondering how best to get them to the floor, or the locker*
maximus_tm: *having no British sensibilities about what "polite" may or may not be* I wondered if... if perhaps, we could gather up the blankets, and rest together on the locker?
jack_aubrey: *practically leaps to his feet* I shall get the blankets. Stephen, would you get the door?
stephen_maturin: Of course, Jack. *takes care of the door*
maximus_tm: *goes to help Jack with the blankets*
jack_aubrey: *is picking them up off the floor of his sleeping cabin and blushes as he realizes that Maximus will have little trouble figuring out why they were there, in a rumpled pile*
maximus_tm: *smiles at him and takes one, to feel useful, and heads for the locker*
jack_aubrey: *follows him quickly* I, ah, asked Stephen whether we should wake you, earlier, but he said that he thought you would want to rest, and I thought perhaps the storm had bothered you more than you had said.
maximus_tm: It did bother me more than I told you. I needed the rest, I certainly could not sleep through it.
jack_aubrey: *glances at Stephen coming over* I am sorry you could not sleep...I am sorry for not waking you, if you are unhappy...
maximus_tm: Do not be sorry, Jack! *squeezes his hands and helps him spread the blankets over the locker* I needed the sleep, and I am glad you had time alone.
jack_aubrey: *goes over to the table to move the glasses, in case it should come on to blow and things should fall* But you are well now? You are content?
maximus_tm: *sits on the locker, still holding on to one blanket that they can use to cover themselves with* Oh, yes, I am very content, Jack.
stephen_maturin: *has an afterthought, grabs the drawing, and puts it in a safe place for the time being, off the table and away from the leftover food and drink*
maximus_tm: *looks a little bit lonely sitting on the locker by himself*
jack_aubrey: *decides that the cabin is secure enough and that he will brave the wrath of Killick if anything gets broken, and goes back over to Maximus, sitting very close to him* I am glad you are here now.
maximus_tm: *smiles and takes his hand* So am I, Jack.
stephen_maturin: *sits on his other side*
jack_aubrey: *can see no reason to stand on ceremony, puts his arms around both of them and pulls them down with him*
maximus_tm: *moves around onto his side, facing Jack, with Stephen pressed against his back* This... this is what I have longed for all day.
jack_aubrey: *feels vaguely guilty, and holds on to him* The wall between the sleeping cabins is temporary...we take it down when we bring out the guns...perhaps we should leave it down. I will explain that I need more room, and that you are used to sleeping on the floor where you come from.
maximus_tm: I'm not sure I follow you, Jack.
jack_aubrey: It is only that someone could come in to the great cabin...if we beat to quarters, men would surely burst in, perhaps more quickly than we could scatter. If we pulled down that wall, there, on the other side of the privy, all three of us could rest undisturbed.
maximus_tm: Do you mean... you would like to ... the whole night?
jack_aubrey: *twists a little to glance at Stephen* Stephen and I have...we have even shared a sleeping cabin, on smaller ships.
stephen_maturin: *rubs Maximus' arm* We have indeed.
maximus_tm: Oh... oh, I would like very much to stay here with you, even if it is just for the one night.
jack_aubrey: Well, it cannot be every night, as I will need to see the first watch, and I am often on the quarterdeck as soon as the moon is risen. But I see no reason why we could not, on occasion.
maximus_tm: *holds onto him* Oh. That is enough.
jack_aubrey: *sighs softly and holds on to him, reaching for Stephen's hand on Maximus' arm*
stephen_maturin: *takes Jack's hand, looking over Maximus' shoulder at him, and smiling*
jack_aubrey: *smiles at him a little uncertainly, knowing Maximus cannot see because his head is too low against Jack*
stephen_maturin: *gives him a reassuring smile*
maximus_tm: *has closed his eyes and seems to be drifting away to sleep already*
jack_aubrey: *kisses his hair and reaches to touch Stephen's face* I love you.
stephen_maturin: I love you, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *sighs happily and shuts his eyes, arm resting across Maximus, hand still on Stephen's face*
stephen_maturin: *moves his hand from Maximus' arm to Jack's hip, and closes his own eyes*