jack_aubrey: *has been wondering where Maximus is, in case he wants to watch the crews with the guns*
maximus_tm: *heads below to find Jack*
jack_aubrey: *is on the gun deck fretting about how much powder has gotten damp*
maximus_tm: *approaches him* Hello, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *is startled, momentarily, at the informality of the greeting and at Maximus' apparent good mood* Why, I have been looking for you. You have missed seeing the long guns run out!
maximus_tm: Oh, I'm terribly sorry! I was giving Mr Blakeney his Latin lesson, and we were sidetracked by spiders once again.
jack_aubrey: *uneasy* There were spiders on the orlop? Has Stephen seen them?
maximus_tm: *laughing* No, no, Jack. Will had drawings of spiders mixed in with his Latin notes.
jack_aubrey: *smiles at this* Well, that will be Stephen's influence, I dare say. How is his Latin?
maximus_tm: It is coming along quite well. Learning the language is difficult, but he is one of my best students.
jack_aubrey: Yes, he is a most promising boy. I had thought, before -- well, it didn't stop Lord Nelson. Stephen is very fond of him.
maximus_tm: *smiling* Yes, and I think he is quite fond of both of you in return. But... *lowers his voice* Jack, he does indeed believe I am your brother. All the men do.
jack_aubrey: *takes his arm and begins to steer him to the stern, toward the great cabin* Indeed? What did Mr Blakeney say?
maximus_tm: He had asked me whether or not I would be joining the army, said that he was certain you would miss me, and I told him that I would miss you as well, since we have only recently just met. He wanted to know whether or not my mother ever told me that my father had other sons.
jack_aubrey: *amused, if a little uneasy* I see that Lord Blakeney had many questions this morning. Whatever did you tell him?
maximus_tm: *smiles* It is quite natural for boys to be curious. I told him that, no, I was never told, and left it at that. I think it is safe to assume that... well, they are all assuming.
jack_aubrey: I hope that does not upset you. You would not be the only gentleman on this ship who wished to disguise the details of his birth.
maximus_tm: *shakes his head* No, Jack, it does not upset me.
jack_aubrey: It will do you no disservice in the Navy, nor unless you wished to marry Lord Blakeney's sister, ha! But why did he ask you whether you would join the army?
maximus_tm: There does seem to be the assumption that I was in some army, somewhere, considering my ability with a sword. *smiles a little* He told me that he had always dreamed of being a captain, not a naturalist, but he fretted a bit about his arm. Then asked me whether or not I would return to the military life.
jack_aubrey: So he does worry about his arm. Neither Stephen nor I have ever heard a word about it from him. If he truly wishes to remain at sea, his arm will not prevent him, but I think Stephen hopes that he will choose an education in medicine. You did not tell him that you cannot serve in the English army, I trust?
maximus_tm: *shakes his head* No, I did not.
jack_aubrey: *calls up* Killick! We will have toasted cheese, if you please. I wonder...
maximus_tm: You wonder...?
jack_aubrey: *looks unhappy, but speaks anyway* If you would be happiest in the army, my father might tell a few untruths, if only to be able to claim a son who can wield a sword as you do.
maximus_tm: To be completely honest, Jack, I am still not entirely certain what I would like to do. Right now any time I think about being parted from you, I feel very, very sad.
jack_aubrey: *looks much happier to hear this* Well, there is no hurry, though I should warn you that my father's reputation is...ah...he is not always the best-liked man in the government. I certainly would not like you to leave.
maximus_tm: *gives him a wry smile* Jack, I have personal experience being the one man hated most by the man controlling a government.
jack_aubrey: Yes, but you were hated for your competence, not for occasionally indulging in too much drink and forgetting your...please forgive me, I should not speak of my father so. I only wished to warn you that I have on occasion met men who would hold me accountable for his actions, and the same might happen to you.
maximus_tm: Ahh. I think I could learn to live with that, Jack.
jack_aubrey: You could do far worse, as fathers go. And I dare say you could do worse than having me as a brother, for I have put enough money in the Admiralty's coffers, ha. You should get to know the other midshipmen perhaps; some of them come from influential families.
maximus_tm: Ah. Well, then, perhaps I will.
jack_aubrey: *fusses about for a moment, waiting for Killick and the food* I wonder where Stephen is.
maximus_tm: Maybe he is catching more fish to cut up?
jack_aubrey: *laughs at this* No, he did not take the boat. Perhaps he has found new rats to study.
maximus_tm: *looks a little worried* Or perhaps he has the spider that Mr Blakeney was drawing.
jack_aubrey: *notices his expression and laughs again* If so, he will know better than to bring it in here!
stephen_maturin: *walks in, carrying a very large spider in a very thin cage of netting*
maximus_tm: *gets up and immediately moves to the back of the cabin*
jack_aubrey: *backs away more slowly, trying to maintain his dignity* Stephen, why have you brought that -- thing -- into my cabin! You know that I -- that Maximus does not like spiders!
stephen_maturin: *blankly* But Jack, look at the...
jack_aubrey: *points* Take it below!
stephen_maturin: *gapes at the two of them, swallows what is probably a smirk, nods and goes out again*
maximus_tm: *shudders and returns to the table, looking utterly horrified*
jack_aubrey: *shakes his head* He is a brilliant man but sometimes he simply fails to THINK.
maximus_tm: *is quiet for a moment, then looks at Jack* Do you think, perhaps, he does it on purpose? To tease and torment?
jack_aubrey: He would not... *thinks about this for a moment* Indeed, I believe that you are right. *narrows his eyes* We must have revenge, Maximus.
maximus_tm: *smiles at him* Why, Jack, I do believe you are right.
jack_aubrey: *begins to pace, grinning* Well? You are an experienced tactician. What shall we do with the good doctor?
maximus_tm: Well, if we were not expecting a meal from Killick, I would get on my knees right now and take you in my mouth... *grins wickedly*
jack_aubrey: *very nearly trips over his own feet, eyes dilating* Oh -- ohhh. But...but Killick is bringing the toasted cheese, and...Maximus, I am not certain Stephen would consider that a punishment!
maximus_tm: Oh, good point. Well, we could always tie him to a chair and make love in front of him. *laughs*
jack_aubrey: *recoils* No, no, we can tie him to nothing! Maximus, have you seen his hands, and the marks on his back? They bound him to a -- *recovering himself* I suppose it is not my place to mention it. But I do not think that I could joke about such a thing.
stephen_maturin: *returning, and, hearing this, raising a curious eyebrow*
maximus_tm: Oh. Oh, Jack I'm sorry, I... Oh, hello, Stephen. Ah.
stephen_maturin: *smiles at Maximus, then looks at Jack* Did I just hear you claim that there is some subject you could not twist into a joke?
jack_aubrey: *very red* Ah...spiders. I cannot joke about spiders.
maximus_tm: *looks very serious* That was a terribly large spider, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *frowns at both of them, suspecting that the subject has been changed but unwilling to press* That was a perfectly ordinary spider to be found in the wood of a ship, though its coloring was remarkable, as I had wanted to show you, Jack. I do guess that the spiders in Brazil will be much larger and more impressive, however.
jack_aubrey: Perhaps you should show it to Lord Blakeney. Maximus tells me that he was drawing spiders earlier.
maximus_tm: Yes. There was a drawing mixed in with his notes for Latin. I think you would be proud, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *trying not to look too proud, though of course he is* Was there indeed. And how is his Latin?
maximus_tm: Quite fine, really. He seems to be a bit down on himself, thinking he is not learning quickly enough, but I think he is doing very well.
stephen_maturin: *frowns at this* He puts himself under a great deal of strain, I think, believing that he must excel at all intellectual pursuits to make up for any possible physical deficiency.
jack_aubrey: But he does excel at them, don't he, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: It seems he does.
maximus_tm: The boy is very bright. He will go far in life.
jack_aubrey: *smiles at Stephen* Either he likes Maximus or he don't know when to keep silent. Apparently they had quite a conversation.
maximus_tm: *smiles and recounts what he told Jack, to Stephen*
stephen_maturin: I cannot see that it should be a problem for the men to believe that you are Jack's brother. *looks uncomfortable* I suppose you know that my father was in the service of His Most Catholic Majesty, and my mother was not his wife.
maximus_tm: *nods slowly* So I understand, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *decides he really does not want to know how Maximus came by this information* Nor do I suppose it is any great matter if they believe that you were in the army. Jack, they will probably guess that your father secured his place there.
jack_aubrey: *nods* I did try to tell him about my father, Stephen, but perhaps you would be better.
maximus_tm: *raises his eyebrows* Oh?
stephen_maturin: *gives him a glance to indicate that he certainly has stories he will not be so tactless as to share in front of Jack* What did you tell Mr. Blakeney about your plans?
maximus_tm: That it is indeed possible that I might join the army again.
Stephen andjack_aubrey: *both frown a this*
maximus_tm: Though... on the other hand... I may not.
jack_aubrey: *goes right back to smiling, like a change in musical key*
stephen_maturin: *is still not smiling* I see.
maximus_tm: *is not smiling because Stephen is not smiling* I still have not decided what I would like to do. I do think I would be dreadfully unhappy to be separated from both of you.
Killick: *comes in muttering with the food* Which they will be moving their cabins again...
maximus_tm: *smiles brightly at the food, then blushes a little when his stomach grows noisily*
jack_aubrey: *gives Killick a look* No one is moving anywhere, Killick. Thank you.
stephen_maturin: *hides a smile behind a cough*
maximus_tm: *glances at Stephen, then looks down at the table*
jack_aubrey: *pours wine for everyone as Killick makes his exit*
stephen_maturin: *to Maximus* You know that I should not like you to leave.
maximus_tm: I know, Stephen. I would not like to leave you.
jack_aubrey: *is far too hungry for a serious discussion and suspects that Maximus is as well* No one is going anywhere today, so we should enjoy this while it is hot.
maximus_tm: That is a wonderful idea, Jack. *starts eating, as his stomach has rumbled again, looks at Jack and then reaches out to pat his hand* Do not look so confused, love.
jack_aubrey: Whenever I think about the place you come from, with the ancient people and space-men and gods, I am uncommonly confused.
maximus_tm: I did not "come from" that place, Jack, I merely happened there. I come from Rome.
jack_aubrey: But you do know what I mean. We have all somehow passed through that place.
maximus_tm: Well, yes. I have tried very hard not to let it bother me.
jack_aubrey: It is only that it is so damned peculiar. For one thing the women are extremely forward. And some of the men are very open about activities that I should have to frown upon.
maximus_tm: *licks his fingers* What kinds of activities would you have to frown upon, Jack?
jack_aubrey: Consorting with known witches, for one.
maximus_tm: *licks off his fingers again* Ahh, of course.
jack_aubrey: *is watching him lick his fingers* And trafficking in illegal merchandise. Stephen, did you not tell me that there are opium dealers and tobacco smugglers?
stephen_maturin: *too quickly* Opium? Ah -- I may have, yes.
maximus_tm: *glances briefly at Stephen, then sucks on his finger for a moment* Ah, that cannot be good at all.
jack_aubrey: *is getting very restless watching Maximus suck on his fingers* Noooo...certainly not.
maximus_tm: Though I do not know that it would be our place to impose our ethical or legal practices on them... considering we are so *licks a finger* greatly *licks another* outnumbered.
jack_aubrey: *practically cross-eyed watching this* No...perhaps not...but still, I could not be heard to condone such practices, or I should...ah...what was I saying, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: *amused* You were watching Maximus licking his fingers, joy.
maximus_tm: *gives Jack another sweet smile and pops a finger into his mouth again*
jack_aubrey: *shifts in his chair and breathes heavily*
stephen_maturin: *smirks at Maximus*
maximus_tm: *smirks back at Stephen and moves closer to Jack, reaching out and stroking his thigh* My dear, are you quite all right?
jack_aubrey: *looks at him, throws down his napkin and starts removing his stock and unbuttoning his shirt* It has suddenly become quite warm in here. Don't you find, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: *still smirking* It has been warm for some time.
maximus_tm: *glances at Stephen, then at the door, back at Stephen with a smile, and then gets up* Let me help you, Jack...
stephen_maturin: *takes the hint and rises to go to the door, telling the sentry to tell Killick that the captain has taken unwell and must under no circumstances be disturbed*
jack_aubrey: *looks somewhat fearfully at Maximus and blushes*
maximus_tm: *gets down to his knees in front of Jack and opens his breeches, leaning forward to nuzzle at him* Mmm...
jack_aubrey: *blushing still more* But, Maximus, it ain't even noon yet!
maximus_tm: *chuckles* You should tell yourself that, love. *finishes unbuttoning his shirt, reaching up to stroke his chest as he licks his cock*
jack_aubrey: *moaning and stammering* But...but...I should not have been in this state at all, had you not licked your fingers!
stephen_maturin: *snickers and comes around behind Jack, putting his hands on his shoulders*
maximus_tm: Oh, so this is MY fault? *takes Jack in his mouth and sucks on him*
jack_aubrey: *groans loudly* Ohh! It -- Stephen, tell him!
stephen_maturin: *as earnestly as he can manage* Maximus, it is most unusual for a Naval captain to engage in sodomitical activity before the forenoon watch.
jack_aubrey: *wailing* Stephen!
maximus_tm: *releases Jack's cock* Oh. So should I let him take care of this on his own?
jack_aubrey: *whimpering* I shall court-martial you both!
stephen_maturin: You could have him clapped in irons.
maximus_tm: *licks Jack's cock* Then tell me what you want me to do, love.
jack_aubrey: *moans urgently*
stephen_maturin: I do believe that you have left him speechless, Maximus. Perhaps you had better end his torment.
maximus_tm: Ah, a very good idea, Stephen. *takes Jack in his mouth again and sucks on him, gently stroking over his balls with his fingers*
stephen_maturin: *silences Jack by leaning over to kiss him when Jack begins to moan again*
maximus_tm: *humming softly, reaching up to stroke Jack's nipple*
stephen_maturin: *moves his hand over Maximus' on Jack's chest, then down his arm to stroke his face*
jack_aubrey: *rocking his hips, grunting as quietly as he can, holding on to Maximus' shoulders*
maximus_tm: *lets Jack thrust into his mouth, as deep as he is comfortable with, and pinches his nipple lightly*
jack_aubrey: *jerks in his chair and thrusts in harder* Ah -- Stephen -- he is tormenting me --
stephen_maturin: *kisses him again* Yes, joy, you look miserable indeed.
maximus_tm: *moves his hand across Jack's chest to 'torment' the other nipple, taking Jack as deep as he can and holding him there for a moment before beginning to suck quite insistently*
jack_aubrey: *is trembling, embarrassed, knowing that it will all be over shamefully fast* Oh! But Stephen! I cannot...ahh...
stephen_maturin: Of course you can, and I daresay you will.
maximus_tm: *moans a little around him and sucks harder, moving his hand up now so that he can stroke and tease both nipples at once*
jack_aubrey: *pulls both feet off the floor, leans against Stephen and shudders all over before spending into Maximus' mouth*
stephen_maturin: *supports his weight, kissing his hair*
maximus_tm: *swallows it all down, then pulls back and sits on his heels, looking up at Jack and licking his lips*
jack_aubrey: *blinks down at him, then leans forward to kiss him* You, sir, have little respect for the traditions and discipline of the Navy.
stephen_maturin: *croaks a laugh at this*
maximus_tm: *kisses him back, stroking his cheek* But, Jack, I am unaware of the traditions and discipline of the Navy. *smiles sweetly*
stephen_maturin: *smiling at Maximus* Jack has never considered ignorance of Naval tradition to be an excuse for failing to be aware of it.
jack_aubrey: Why, I am outnumbered in my own cabin. I suppose you expect that now I will bend over the table and spread out for you like a harem boy.
stephen_maturin: *lets out a surprised and heartily enthusiastic exclamation*
maximus_tm: *whimpers softly at this*
jack_aubrey: *eyes widening, as he had expected them both to laugh at this as utterly comical* Oh...I see.
stephen_maturin: Never like a harem boy, Jack.
maximus_tm: No, Jack. Though the imagery it conjured was quite interesting... *stands over Jack's lap, leaning forward to kiss him* We would never treat you so. We love you.
jack_aubrey: *is looking at him curiously* Have you ever taken a man so? ...or been taken so?
maximus_tm: Bent over a table? Oh. Ah.
jack_aubrey: *is getting to his feet, still looking at him curiously*
stephen_maturin: *is also looking at him with a rather intrigued expression*
maximus_tm: *looks down* I was very drunk at the time.
jack_aubrey: Were you indeed.
stephen_maturin: Did you enjoy it?
jack_aubrey: *blushes as he turns against the table, spreading his legs and bending awkwardly as if he is expecting Stephen to purge him*
stephen_maturin: *watches this with wide eyes, then turns and races into Jack's sleeping cabin to get the oil before he changes his mind*
maximus_tm: Relax, love... *gets down onto his knees again, stroking Jack's back and leaning towards him to lick at his opening*
jack_aubrey: *makes a soft urgent noise and spreads his legs wider without thinking, moving back enthusiastically toward Maximus' tongue*
stephen_maturin: *returns with the oil and gasps slightly at the sight in front of him*
maximus_tm: *sighs happily and keeps licking, stroking his thigh, then moving both hands to hold him open a bit more so that he can push his tongue inside*
jack_aubrey: *moans and clutches at the edge of the table*
stephen_maturin: *approaches and strokes his back, rubbing his hand over Maximus' shoulder as well*
maximus_tm: *pulls back a little and looks up at Stephen, asking in a naughty voice* Did you want him?
stephen_maturin: *reaches for Maximus' forearm and pulls him up, turning him around to face Jack and handing him the oil* I think that it is only fair to let you have him. *smiling just as naughtily* Though I would like to have you.
maximus_tm: I would like that, Stephen. *strokes his cheek, then removes his shirt and pushes down his trousers before he opens the oil to prepare Jack a little more, pushing a finger inside him*
stephen_maturin: *gets to his knees while Maximus is touching Jack, who is groaning and shifting his hips, licking him just as Maximus did to Jack*
maximus_tm: Oh... *leans over Jack a little, moaning as he moves his finger inside him, then adds another*
stephen_maturin: *remembering how enthusiastically Maximus responded to this the other day, is eagerly licking and pressing his tongue inside, reaching blindly to take the oil from Maximus' hand*
jack_aubrey: *is gasping, hypersensitive from his climax and slightly terrified from the vulnerable position* Oh -- Maximus -- please!
maximus_tm: *groans and pours out a little more oil, stroking it over his cock before getting the bottle into Stephen's hand* Shh, Jack... *rubs himself against Jack's entrance before pushing inside slowly*
stephen_maturin: *remains on his knees, gasping quietly, pouring oil into his own hand and watching Maximus thrust into Jack, which he can see very clearly from this position*
jack_aubrey: *is doing a poor job indeed of keeping quiet*
maximus_tm: *reaches around and rubs a finger over Jack's mouth* Hush, love... *leans over him and kisses him back, thrusting in slowly, gently* Ohh, my dear Jack...
jack_aubrey: *starts to suck on his finger, then accidentally bites down on it as Maximus begins to move*
stephen_maturin: *has risen slowly and begun to rub the oil into Maximus, letting his fingers travel beneath him to feel his cock pumping into Jack*
maximus_tm: Ah! Jack -- ohh Stephen... *whimpers and withdraws almost completely and pushes back in harder than he has been moving* Please...
jack_aubrey: *is moaning incoherently*
stephen_maturin: *moves his fingers to his own cock, covering it quickly with oil and moving close behind Maximus* Be still for a moment, honey.
maximus_tm: *whimpers but holds still, trembling, licking Jack's back*
stephen_maturin: *reaches to grasp Jack's hip, thus immobilizing Maximus between them, and presses himself into Maximus, moving his hand from his own cock to nudge Maximus' balls forward against Jack's*
jack_aubrey: *lets out a muffled cry and sucks hard on Maximus' finger*
maximus_tm: *shudders* Oh -- Stephen, please, you must let me move.
stephen_maturin: *gives a soft moan and releases Jack's hip, moving his hand to Maximus' and pushing him forward into Jack*
maximus_tm: *groans happily and starts moving again, thrusting himself into Jack, and back onto Stephen's cock, shuddering and reaching back to clutch at Stephen's hip with his free hand*
stephen_maturin: *lets Maximus set the pace, keeping one hand between Jack's thigh and Maximus' so he can stroke where they are joined*
jack_aubrey: *can do little more than grunt and suck at Maximus' fingers*
maximus_tm: *shudders hard and shoves deep into Jack one last time before he spills within him, muffling a cry against his back*
stephen_maturin: *gives him a moment to recover, then slams into him with surprising force, making Jack cry out beneath Maximus*
maximus_tm: *cries out as well and shudders again* Stephen... oh!
stephen_maturin: *is suddenly very grateful that no one outside the cabin could possibly tell whether they were hearing Jack's voice or Maximus' as he continues to thrust hard, squeezing Maximus' thigh in his hand*
jack_aubrey: *is grunting more loudly than any of them, clutching the edge of the table*
maximus_tm: Please--oh, please, Stephen...
jack_aubrey: *releases Maximus' finger and moans Stephen's name at the same time*
stephen_maturin: *stifles a shout as he shoves deep and releases his seed inside Maximus*
maximus_tm: *trembling* Oh. Stephen. *finds his hand and strokes the back of it*
jack_aubrey: *moaning, whimpers and tries manfully to breathe*
maximus_tm: *shoving back at Stephen with his hips*
stephen_maturin: *very reluctantly pulls back*
maximus_tm: *whimpers and withdraws from Jack, collapsing back in his chair*
jack_aubrey: *makes a croaking noise and tries to stand upright*
stephen_maturin: *comes over to help him, drawing him up*
jack_aubrey: *moans quietly*
maximus_tm: *gets up again and reaches out to stroke his back, kissing his cheek*
jack_aubrey: *leans on Stephen, kisses Maximus back* That was most improper behavior for a captain in the royal navy, I will have you know.
maximus_tm: *whispers in his ear* Next time, you can bend me over the table.
stephen_maturin: *chuckles contentedly*
jack_aubrey: But my dear, that would be even less proper behavior. The crime, you know, is in penetrating, not being penetrated. ...why is that, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: Willfulness, I suppose.
maximus_tm: But, Jack, you have penetrated me before.
jack_aubrey: *blushes deeply* Ah, well...I was turned before the mast for hiding a girl on the ship when I was younger, as well.
maximus_tm: *frowns, not understanding what he means by this*
stephen_maturin: There are a great many rules in the Navy regarding intimate behavior. Some of them are practical -- it would astonish you how quickly a single case of pox may afflict very nearly an entire crew. Some of them are less so.
jack_aubrey: Turned before the mast means they took my commission from me. Sent me down belowdecks.
maximus_tm: *nodding* Ahh, I see.
jack_aubrey: *straightens somewhat, turning toward Maximus, though keeping his hold on Stephen* It would simply never do...can you imagine trying to give orders to my men if they could envision me in a position such as that?
stephen_maturin: *without any trace of irony* I take orders from you, Jack, and I have seen you in positions considerably more compromised than that one.
jack_aubrey: Yes, but that is not at all the same, Stephen!
maximus_tm: *smiles and looks down briefly, then reaches out to tuck a strand of hair behind Jack's ear* I certainly would never have let my own men see me in such a position. But does it do any good to fret so about being caught, and the consequences?
jack_aubrey: You have never seen a man run up at the yard-arm for the most unnatural crime of buggery. It is not an easy thing to forget.
stephen_maturin: They are flogged more often than hanged, are they not? Unless caught in the very act, and informed upon, and I think none of this crew would be seen in the character of an informer.
maximus_tm: *is frowning* I -- *shakes his head* No, it is certainly not my place to say anything about the morality of the time.
stephen_maturin: I'm afraid that you must live within the morality of this time, thus you are certainly entitled to your own beliefs about it. Myself, I have always thought that the more affection in this world, the better. But you might hear me denounced for a bastard, or a Papist. *looks curiously at Maximus* Do the men speak much, when you are present? Or does being seen as the brother of the captain excuse you from such talk?
maximus_tm: They do not let themselves be heard, but... well, Mr Blakeney did say such a thing to me this morning, that they say that of you. I was not entirely certain what he meant by that.
jack_aubrey: *murmurs* I need to have a word with Mr Blakeney about his discretion.
stephen_maturin: Jack, he is only a boy. You mean that you do not know what a bastard is, or a Papist?
maximus_tm: *smiles* I know what a bastard is, Stephen. Not a Papist, though I have heard the word a few times now. The only matters I have ever allowed myself to show any confusion about are ones that I am quite certain relate to the ship herself.
jack_aubrey: You see, all the commissioned officers on this ship must swear an oath refusing Popery. Oh, I had better explain about the Pope: he is in charge in Rome now. *seeing both Maximus and Stephen staring at him* Not in charge, that is; he is the head of the Catholic Church, which is the religion of Italy and Spain and most of France and in Ireland it is...
stephen_maturin: *cutting Jack off* In England, the King is the head of the Church. All men swearing an English oath under God must therefore accept the King as the highest religious authority. Before the King set himself up as the head of the Church of England, however, the Pope led the Christian Church there and elsewhere; and the English are continuing to find that it is not so simple a thing to break men of their loyalties.
maximus_tm: *nodding slowly* Your religion sounds entirely complicated.
jack_aubrey: It is entirely too complicated, and I have often thought not worth the wars; it ain't the same thing as a tyrant like Napoleon trying to take over the world. Maximus, you may have noticed that these matters are discussed only in whispers and in jest. Real arguments can only cause trouble on a ship.
stephen_maturin: Hence the need for a terrible pun half-formed after every uttered sentence.
maximus_tm: I have indeed noticed the puns. *smiles a little at Stephen* I have not, in fact, heard the men say much at all about religion, though, in all honesty, they do not say much around me at all.
stephen_maturin: No, they would not, believing that you are Jack's brother. Jack, if Will Blakeney has questions, you might take it as a compliment that he was plying your "brother" with them; he obviously expects honesty of him and of you. With both Calamy and Hollum gone, I believe he is uncertain whom he can ask such things.
jack_aubrey: He could ask you.
stephen_maturin: Often he does. But not about myself, and very rarely about you.
jack_aubrey: *frowning faintly* He did not ask you about the two of us, did he, Maximus?
maximus_tm: Only separately, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *to Stephen* You know that there have been rumors.
stephen_maturin: *to Jack* Which I have done nothing to discourage, as it is safer for both of us if certain agents believe that I am in your thrall, rather than some other service.
maximus_tm: *is very intrigued by this, but doesn't say a word*
jack_aubrey: It is only safe for me if the Admiralty Office believes these to be rumors planted by my enemies with no possible basis in truth.
stephen_maturin: Jack, the private confusion of one midshipman speaking to your "brother" will not bring you before a court-martial. He cannot ask the questions of you or myself, and apparently he will not ask any of the people from whom he may have overheard a remark in the first place.
maximus_tm: *realizes that he is standing here naked, feels a little cold, and withdraws to fetch his breeches* He asked me nothing, Jack. He may not even believe whatever rumors are flying about. And there is no proof whatsoever, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone.
stephen_maturin: He is very young, Jack, his best friend is dead.
jack_aubrey: *straightening and fastening his own clothing* What he believes is not in the end important. It is whether there is talk.
maximus_tm: Do you wish to stop, then, Jack?
jack_aubrey: *looks at him as if he has no idea how this question connects to the question of whether there are rumors about himself and Stephen*
stephen_maturin: *to Maximus* He is, as he likes to say, bemoaning his lot, and will march out to the quarterdeck and silence any doubts with a quick action presently.
maximus_tm: Ah. Well, that, then, is reassuring.
jack_aubrey: *finishes pulling his coat and stock back into place, sits down and picks up his toasted cheese as if they had never stopped eating* Are we frightening you, Maximus, with this talk of hangings and informers?
stephen_maturin: Pray, do not say "we."
maximus_tm: No, Jack, I cannot say that I am frightened.
stephen_maturin: *amused* I daresay that if he were approached by warrant officers, he might not go with them as a gentleman would.
jack_aubrey: *grins suddenly, taking a drink of his coffee* I daresay that you are right.
maximus_tm: *raises his eyebrows and points to himself in a "Me?" sort of way*
jack_aubrey: You've eaten almost nothing, Maximus. Sit and finish your toast.
stephen_maturin: Or he shall order you to do so.
maximus_tm: Yes, sir, Captain. *smiles and finishes his toast*
jack_aubrey: *to Stephen* Will you be taking the boat this afternoon?
stephen_maturin: I had thought of it, yes, if Maximus would like to accompany me.
maximus_tm: Ah, will you be teaching me how to fish, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: In these waters I had actually rather use a net.
jack_aubrey: *is mouthing at Maximus* Don't eat what you catch.
maximus_tm: Ah, well, that is just as good. *smiles at Jack*
jack_aubrey: We shall see very fine fish as we approach Brazil.
maximus_tm: Ah, very good. ... Are there exotic fish in this part of the world, just as there are exotic animals?
stephen_maturin: Not exotic...
jack_aubrey: *cutting him off* To men like you and me, yes, there are very exotic fish. Stephen is about to tell you that they do not compare to those I did not give him time to see in the Pacific when we sailed to Botany Bay.
stephen_maturin: *gives Jack a look*
maximus_tm: *obviously finds the way they do this to each other deeply amusing*
jack_aubrey: *in a low, as if confidential voice* I believe that Stephen sails with me as a means of punishing himself for some unnamed sin. Everywhere we go, he claims to have been given a glimpse of Paradise, only to have it torn away from him when we must make sail.
stephen_maturin: *peevishly* I was denied my cassowaries.
maximus_tm: *is smiling broadly, looking between them* What on earth is a cassowary?
stephen_maturin: It is a large bird of the Spice Islands which...
jack_aubrey: It is a very, very grand brown chicken.
maximus_tm: ... A chicken?
stephen_maturin: *is looking extremely cross*
jack_aubrey: A chicken. *makes clucking noises, and interrupts himself with a ha, ha, ha*
maximus_tm: *looks across at Stephen and notices how upset he appears* My dear Stephen, have I offended you?
stephen_maturin: *glaring at Jack* Certainly you have not, my dear.
jack_aubrey: *is still laughing at his chicken joke*
maximus_tm: *looks at Jack again and cannot help smiling* Do you know, Stephen, I sometimes wonder if he does it merely because it makes you make ... that face.
jack_aubrey: *looks at Stephen, then Maximus, then Stephen again, and begins laughing even louder* Oh! Certainly not, my dear...
Killick: *bangs loudly on the door to ask which will they be having more coffee*
jack_aubrey: *gets up, opens the door and says yes, please, thank you Killick*
maximus_tm: *biting his lip to keep from laughing*
stephen_maturin: *meeting Maximus' eyes, and smiling at him since Jack cannot see*
maximus_tm: *smiles back*
jack_aubrey: *comes back over and discovers that they are smiling at one another* Have I missed a witticism?
stephen_maturin: *looks at him and says nothing*
maximus_tm: *bites his lip again and looks at the table*
jack_aubrey: *somewhat indignant, though not really* I go to fetch your coffee and you make jokes at my expense!
stephen_maturin: Never in life, joy.
maximus_tm: Not at all, Jack.
jack_aubrey: *sits again, glancing from the one to the other suspiciously*
maximus_tm: *gives him his very best charming smile*
jack_aubrey: I know that smile, Maximus. It's mine. You can't put anything past me, you know.
stephen_maturin: *hides his face behind his cold coffee*
maximus_tm: Why, Jack, I have no idea whatever you could mean by that!
jack_aubrey: *gives Maximus his most charming smile back*
stephen_maturin: *is trying to hide his own grin*
Killick: *comes stomping in with coffee, looks at them all smiling, and shakes his head*
maximus_tm: Thank you, Killick. Very kind. *figures the smile wouldn't work on him*
Killick: *looks at Maximus and sort of returns the smile, since Maximus is, after all, Jack's illegitimate brother and Jack likes him a great deal, even if there seem to be some very strange goings-on with Dr Maturin that Killick does NOT want to think about*
maximus_tm: *takes a sip of his coffee*
Jack and stephen_maturin: *are both staring after Killick, then at Maximus*
maximus_tm: *looks at them* Ah -- should I not thank him?
jack_aubrey: *splutters* Stephen, I did not imagine that? Killick did smile at him?
stephen_maturin: No, I am sure he did.
jack_aubrey: *to Maximus* Certainly you should thank him. For all of us, ha, ha!
maximus_tm: Has... Killick never... ?
jack_aubrey: *is laughing uproariously, while Stephen is once again hiding a broad grin in his coffee mug*
maximus_tm: Oh, well, now you are laughing at ME!
jack_aubrey: *wheezing* Oh...certainly not...Stephen, ha, ha!
stephen_maturin: *letting Maximus see his smile* I have never seen the like. The only time Killick ever smiled at ME was for saving Jack's life.
maximus_tm: Oh. Well. Perhaps I am special, then. *grins a little*
jack_aubrey: *still laughing, drinking his coffee as he rises* I must go above. I will see you for dinner?
maximus_tm: Of course, Jack. I wouldn't miss it.
jack_aubrey: *squeezes both their shoulders, waving them to stay in their seats* Until the afternoon then. *rushes out, telling Killick that the doctor might use the cabin for as long as he wished*
maximus_tm: *leans his elbow on the table and his chin on his hand, sipping his coffee again and staring across at Stephen*
stephen_maturin: *looks embarrassed to have been caught smiling so much*
maximus_tm: You are really quite delightful when you smile, love.
stephen_maturin: *lowering his gaze* I have been told that my eyes are pale and my teeth are yellow.
maximus_tm: Your eyes are a piercing blue. You have a lovely mouth, and fine cheekbones, and charming freckles.
stephen_maturin: *is scarlet* I have an ill look, and a sallow complexion, and my limbs are out of proportion with my body. I am not transformed by laughter, as Jack is -- or you.
maximus_tm: *puts down his coffee and comes around the table, leaning against it and stroking Stephen's cheek* And yet I find you very pleasing to the eye.
stephen_maturin: *rises as well, and somewhat awkwardly puts his hands on his waist* Then I am glad, though I wonder what it is you see.
maximus_tm: *kisses him tenderly* I see you, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *presses closer to him and kisses him back* You are very kind.
maximus_tm: *stroking his back* It is not simply kindness, Stephen, it is the truth.
stephen_maturin: Hush. *kisses him again*
maximus_tm: *laughs softly against his lips and returns the kiss, slipping his arms around Stephen's waist*
stephen_maturin: *sighs against him, pressing him against the table* We must be careful not to become careless. Though I admit it is a great pleasure to do this with someone who has never heard of Article XXIX, nor the Church, nor any other reason why two men may not enjoy one another.
maximus_tm: *trailing his fingers lightly up Stephen's back* Oh, I am being very, very careful, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *shivers, and writhes under his fingers* Are you indeed.
maximus_tm: Oh, yes... *runs his tongue along Stephen's jaw*
stephen_maturin: *reaches all the way around his back, stroking over his shirt*
maximus_tm: *shivers and presses closer, licking across to Stephen's ear and nibbling gently on his earlobe*
stephen_maturin: *again squirms and shivers, clutching at Maximus so he can hold still*
maximus_tm: Do you see how careful I am, Stephen? *strokes his hands down Stephen's back to his hips*
stephen_maturin: *smiles warmly at him* I have never doubted your care in this. I fear only that...when I am with you, I cease to pay attention to the door. And while I never need worry that Jack may do the same, I do worry with you.
maximus_tm: I will pay attention to the door.
stephen_maturin: *tugs at him, away from the table toward the sleeping cabins* I have a better idea, unless there is somewhere you are needed.
maximus_tm: If I am needed, it is only by you. *grins*
stephen_maturin: *blushing* And yet I had you not half an hour ago.
maximus_tm: *smiles* Then we may take our time, love. *strokes his cheek*
stephen_maturin: *smiling back* I might almost believe that you did not want to dissect fish with me this afternoon.
maximus_tm: I would if that is what you really want, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *taking his hand and pulling him toward the sleeping cabin* It is rather hot to sit in the sun...and too bright, perhaps...not good for the digestion, so soon after a meal...
maximus_tm: *follows him eagerly* Oh, of course, of course. I do not wish to upset my digestion.
stephen_maturin: I should hope not. The buildup of gross humours in the abdomen can cause intense discomfort, along with irritability, clammy skin and flatulence. Perhaps you had better lie down at once.
maximus_tm: *takes the blankets and spreads them out, settling down on them* But you will join me?
stephen_maturin: Certainly. Someone should monitor you for such symptoms. And, of course, I have only recently eaten myself. *reclines beside him*
maximus_tm: *presses up against Stephen's side* Mmm. Good. I would hate to get lonely.
stephen_maturin: *this is not what he was expecting, based on the mock medical banter* Are you often lonely?
maximus_tm: Without you and Jack for company... or, perhaps Pullings or Blakeney. I do enjoy their company.
stephen_maturin: There are many good men on this ship. Friends of Jack's, though he cannot acknowledge them as such. Friends of mine, I suppose...I do not often consider it but I do suppose that Bonden behaves kindly towards me, and his cousin Joe Plaice as well.
maximus_tm: I have not spent much time with them, yet, I'm afraid. Perhaps I should.
stephen_maturin: If you intend to stay, I think you must. Of course, if you do not intend to stay, it may be easier if you make fewer connections.
maximus_tm: I intend to stay. *moves a little lower so he can rest his head on Stephen's shoulder*
stephen_maturin: *is very much not in the mood for arguing with this assertion, and turns to him, pulling him closer*
maximus_tm: Mmm. *smiling quite blissfully and holds him* Dear Stephen... this feels wonderful.
stephen_maturin: *nods against him, stroking his back again*
maximus_tm: *softly* When I realized my feelings for Jack... I was so very afraid you would resent me, or hate me...
stephen_maturin: Never in life. I would not have hated you in any event, but there are few men in the world whom I could love that do not love Jack.
maximus_tm: *looks up at him* What a wondrous thing.
stephen_maturin: *is puzzled by this* He is wholly good. He is ambitious, overzealous and immoderate in his lusts, but he is unfailingly generous and loyal. You could not have found a better "brother" had you discovered a sibling of your own blood.
maximus_tm: Oh, yes, Stephen. It is simply... I feel ... *grasping for words* Well, humbled.
stephen_maturin: I owe him my life several times over. And not only in...I do not mean only that he has saved me from injury. If you did not love him I would think you at the very best a fool, though I have wondered that you do not find him too like you, perhaps, to hold your curiosity...are you like him in full-bloodedness? I know that your stamina is much the same, or better, as you are not growing obese -- though you should enjoy fewer puddings, I must warn you.
maximus_tm: *is really quite enchanted with Stephen's monologue* My dear doctor... *leans up on an elbow and looks down at him* If Jack was able to hold out longer...I would say that you might find my stamina very admirable. *grins wickedly at him*
stephen_maturin: *raises his eyebrows* Would I indeed?
maximus_tm: *leans down and kisses him* Oh, yes.
stephen_maturin: *tilts his head up and meets his mouth* If Jack was able to hold out longer?
maximus_tm: Well -- once he has finished...I find it somewhat difficult, sometimes, to continue.
stephen_maturin: How interesting. Do you find a greater sympathy with him than with other men, because you are so alike?
maximus_tm: Do you know, that is entirely possible. His pleasure seems to intensify my own.
stephen_maturin: That might have very little to do with your physical compatibility. That may simply be because you care for him.
maximus_tm: Mmm, that is true... I did find that I had much greater control with you when we were alone. Until you put your tongue inside me at least.
stephen_maturin: *is unsure how to feel about this* We have not known one another as long as you have known him. And -- you know me through him.
maximus_tm: Yes... but, Stephen, you do not make love as though you would conquer me. I think you see the value in taking things... very slowly.
stephen_maturin: *looks at him sharply* I have also seen how taking things slowly may cause one to lose the objects of one's pursuits.
maximus_tm: My dear Stephen... if you wanted to lay me out like a banquet and feast on my body for as long as you desired, I think I would thank you for it.
stephen_maturin: *twitches uncontrollably at this suggestion* And...that would not seem to you like being conquered?
maximus_tm: No... no, it would feel very much like being appreciated. If I were to conquer YOU, Stephen, I would have you on your knees and inside you, spilling my seed in your body in moments. I like such things to be over quickly.
stephen_maturin: *twitches again, and is unhappy with himself for the reaction, though also somewhat breathless* That -- is that something you have wanted?
maximus_tm: *gently takes Stephen's wrists, lifting his arms over his head, kneeling over him* Do you wish to be conquered?
stephen_maturin: *trembles uncontrollably* I cannot think -- that is, if you wished --
maximus_tm: *kisses him tenderly, though his voice is rough now* Is that what you want?
stephen_maturin: *is shaking more, but not struggling at all* If you. Need. Maximus. Take.
maximus_tm: Where did you leave the oil?
stephen_maturin: *gestures, with his chin, at the doorway* Locker...underneath...
maximus_tm: *gets up* I expect that you will not be dressed when I return, Stephen. *smiles at him, then goes to fetch the oil* Are you still dressed, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: *swallows, finds his voice surprisingly steady* Yes.
maximus_tm: *returns with the oil in his hand* Then I suppose I shall have to do something about that. *kneels next to him and starts undressing him with surprising speed*
stephen_maturin: *watches his face* May I ask...
maximus_tm: Yes? *sets aside Stephen's clothing and goes to work on his own*
stephen_maturin: You were *swallows* speaking of feasting, slowly, as something to be desired. Why do you want to...to conquer me?
maximus_tm: *leans over and licks a broad swipe up Stephen's chest* Because it makes you tremble so.
stephen_maturin: You wish me to fear you?
maximus_tm: *looks up at him quickly, eyes wide* You are afraid, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: *trembling as much as ever* I -- not of you.
maximus_tm: *strokes his cheek* I do not wish for you to be afraid.
stephen_maturin: You said you like such things to be over quickly. Do what it is you wish.
maximus_tm: *stretches out alongside him and strokes his chest, kissing his shoulder* No... *pulls Stephen against his chest and holds him*
stephen_maturin: But I thought you wanted...
maximus_tm: *looks distressed* I upset you, Stephen, and I'm sorry. I do not desire anything that would upset you.
stephen_maturin: *shaking his head* I am not upset. At least, I think you misunderstand...I am not upset if you want to have me that way, on my knees *trembles a little again in spite of himself* and as quickly as you would like.
maximus_tm: *looks at him for a long moment, then kisses him, urging him onto his back again, bending over him to give him enough room to remove his own shirt and open his trousers*
stephen_maturin: *is shaking but touching him, pulling him down*
maximus_tm: Stephen... *moving down to kiss his neck* What makes you tremble like this?
stephen_maturin: It is partly...I know you would not torture me, and yet you had my hands...and...you must understand, you may convince Jack to bend over the table like a harem boy, but there is that in him which will never submit entirely, whereas...
maximus_tm: *bites his lip and moves up again to kiss him, reaching down for Stephen's cock to stroke him, slowly and tenderly* Love, I'm sorry... I did not think.
stephen_maturin: *is paradoxically frustrated by this* Why are you apologizing?
maximus_tm: *continues to stroke him, moving his mouth down to Stephen's neck again, licking and kissing*
maximus_tm: Shhh. Please let me do this...
stephen_maturin: *struggling now, finally succeeding in flinging himself over* You said you wanted to conquer. Take me.
maximus_tm: *closes his eyes for a moment, then reaches for the oil, soon pressing a slicked finger inside him* I do not wish to hurt you.
stephen_maturin: *taking it in, trying not to push back but unable to stop his hips from rocking* You won't hurt me. Not with this.
maximus_tm: *leans forward and kisses the small of his back* I do love you... *moves closer to him now, trembling a little himself as he rubs the oil over his cock and then presses it against him*
stephen_maturin: *must bite down on his lip until it bleeds to hold in the cry that escapes through his nose as a loud whimper* Then take me! Have me as you will!
maximus_tm: *groans and pushes inside him, holding still for a moment as he braces himself on the floor, one hand holding onto Stephen* If it is too much... Stephen, please tell me. *withdraws a little and pushes in deeper* I want... ohh. *shaking a little as he starts to move inside him*
stephen_maturin: *is begging* Take. Anything you want.
maximus_tm: *moans and is unable to hold back, slamming his hips forward, then withdrawing to do it again, fucking Stephen in a hard, relentless rhythm*
stephen_maturin: *puts his head down on his arms and takes it, shuddering*
maximus_tm: *squeezes his eyes shut, grunting softly as he buries himself inside Stephen, clutching at his hip*
stephen_maturin: *is muttering things in Irish and Catalan in between soft cries and affirmations, hips high and legs open, unresisting*
maximus_tm: *listens to the way his flesh connects with Stephen's for just a few moments, beyond speech, until he shoves in deep and goes still as he releases inside him*
stephen_maturin: *cries out more loudly than Maximus, hands balled into fists beneath his forehead*
maximus_tm: *stays as he is for several long moments, gasping and trembling, then carefully lowers them both down to the blanket, holding on to Stephen and trying very hard not to pull from his body, as he rolls onto his side, then again onto his back, pulling Stephen on top of him and stroking down his body, finding his cock*
stephen_maturin: *head thrashing back and forth against Maximus* Yes...make me...please...
maximus_tm: *stroking him quickly, fingers of his free hand finding and teasing his nipple, licking the sweat from the side of his neck, murmuring softly to him*
stephen_maturin: No not gentle, please, do not stop I beg oh Maximus please...
maximus_tm: *is less gentle with him, sucking on his shoulder, stroking him as he would stroke himself if he was desperate for release*
stephen_maturin: *writhes on top of him, pressing down hard, pushing at Maximus' feet with his own, and going rigid with a sharp cry before spilling his seed *
maximus_tm: *kisses his neck and draws his hand away, up to his mouth so he can lick his fingers clean*
stephen_maturin: *remains on top of him, unable to move, quiet and trembling and very glad that he does not have to face him for a moment*
maximus_tm: *sighs softly* Stephen. *strokes his chest and then carefully turns them onto their sides*
stephen_maturin: *is unable to meet his eyes, and lowers himself down to rest his forehead against Maximus' chest*
maximus_tm: Did someone...Jack said you had been tortured. Were you made to...?
stephen_maturin: Not that. There are other ways...I have hidden poison in small vials, there and I have been searched...
maximus_tm: *stroking his back as he holds him* You do not regret this?
stephen_maturin: *shakes his head* No...
maximus_tm: I do not want you to. Sometimes it is easier not to try to forget, but to change one's thoughts, in such a situation.
stephen_maturin: It is not unhappy memories that trouble me. My heart is not easily moved...but once it is, there is no changing it...no distraction, save laudanum...
maximus_tm: *softly* Do you wish to be distracted from me?
stephen_maturin: I do not wish to find that you can be distracted.
maximus_tm: I will not leave your side in favor of a woman from Brazil.
stephen_maturin: I care not if you leave my side for an hour, or a day, for a woman from Brazil or in any other port...I care not if you marry and visit only when you are not working at whatever career you might make for yourself. I do not want you to *leave*. Do you take my meaning?
maximus_tm: *kisses his forehead* I will stay, Stephen.
stephen_maturin: *holds on to him rather fiercely*
maximus_tm: *stroking his back* I will stay.
stephen_maturin: *muffled against him* Then I will love you as you wish...
maximus_tm: Oh. *closes his eyes and holds him tight* Dear Stephen.
stephen_maturin: But you must stay.
maximus_tm: I will. I will stay, I promise.
stephen_maturin: *sighs deeply and relaxes against him*
maximus_tm: *smiles and closes his eyes*