Soon Jack, Maximus and stephen_maturin were on the ship, getting to know each other, as it says in the Bible.
stephen_maturin: legate_damar says that Maximus looks exactly the same to him as Jack does...but all humans look alike to him.
maximus_tm: But Jack is blonde and fat, whereas I am black-haired and buff.
jack_aubrey: I should call you out for that! Only Stephen can get away with calling me obese.
maximus_tm: *ponders whether or not he can get Jack to kill him so he can die and be with his family*
jack_aubrey: Don't you sit around thinking of dying. I will just make you race me up the rigging.
stephen_maturin: ...and be impressed when Maximus wins.
jack_aubrey: Then I shall try to recruit Maximus to sail and fight with us. And if he sulks, I will insist that he needs more sun and that he should go out on the bowsprit.
maximus_tm: A sailor? Me? I don't want to be cured, I want to be dead.
stephen_maturin: *prescribing all sorts treatments to try to cure his depression*
jack_aubrey: I am positive you would get over that attitude at sea. You could lead all the boarding parties.
maximus_tm: Provided I don't get seasick.
stephen_maturin: Then you and Jack could get drunk and play cards together and Jack would be vaguely mystified why a man who has never played whist before can beat him.
jack_aubrey: Maximus would be like the twin brother I never had. But I am vaguely worried about the fact that although Maximus is a "Spaniard" he is not Catholic.
stephen_maturin: Maximus was from a pagan, ancient culture. *matter-of-factly* Sodomy was not considered a great evil in Ancient Rome.
jack_aubrey: Maximus doesn't think sodomy is evil?
maximus_tm: *thinks of Cicero* I hope not.
jack_aubrey: But Stephen, it sounds as though you are suggesting that he is not even a Christian, the way Sophie's mother always insinuated that Richard Canning was not a Christian.
stephen_maturin: *patiently explains to Jack that Maximus is from a time before Rome took up Christianity*
maximus_tm: Oh, those crazy Christians.
jack_aubrey: *vaguely relieved and also vaguely horrified*
maximus_tm: *meanwhile has figured out that Jack and Stephen are obviously in love, despite Jack's assumptions that he has been so subtle and discreet in mentioning sodomy, so Maximus cannot help but giggle a little even if he is pathologically depressed*
jack_aubrey: *is glad Maximus looks happy, but vaguely worried that he's done something stupid*
stephen_maturin: For a little while it might actually be best NOT to allow Maximus to lead boarding parties. Remember James Dillon.
jack_aubrey: And yet, completely away from Rome, I think he would recover. Stephen, you could recruit him. Because Napoleon fancies himself the second coming of Rome...
stephen_maturin: Maximus, I don't believe in any of this superstitious nonsense about your being returned from the dead, but since you ARE here, why don't you help me overthrow this evil tyrant who is JUST LIKE CAESAR?
maximus_tm: Yes, why CAN'T I go and kill these...French, you call them? Since I'm going to kill myself anyway.
stephen_maturin: Once you realize that Jack is something of a slut, albeit silly and repressed, which you would surely tease him about, I think you will change your mind about killing yourself.
jack_aubrey: He'll probably be a show off. Which would make me very anxious because what if you like Maximus better than me, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: Maximus, if you are kind to Jack, he will be very eager to please. He's like that. And, Jack, what Maximus really needs is an attachment. An erotic attachment, if you take my meaning.
jack_aubrey: But we are at sea! There are only men on the...oh. *takes this medical advice from Stephen in total earnestness and prepares to go to work*
stephen_maturin: *is planning to enjoy THIS spectacle*
jack_aubrey: *gets nervous* What is THAT look for, Stephen?
stephen_maturin: *peers at him for a moment* Nothing, my dear.
jack_aubrey: *studies drawings of gladiators and sucks his gut in and pretends to wave a sword around* I shall go on a diet so I do not compare unfavorably with Maximus.
stephen_maturin: If you really do want to lose weight, I would encourage you -- though of course just for your health. *makes his farewells and goes to look at birds*
jack_aubrey: Stephen is calling me obese again!
maximus_tm: *pats his shoulder* There, there.
jack_aubrey: *looks at him unhappily* Stephen doesn't call YOU obese.
maximus_tm: Ah. Well. That's because... um.
jack_aubrey: *frowns at Maximus* Do you believe that if you were a few stone larger, you would be considered less attractive a man?
maximus_tm: Oh, surely not. I have never once said that you are an unattractive man. *grins a little*
jack_aubrey: *smiles a little, then studies Maximus* Yet you have no scars on your brow, and your ear is entirely intact. How, in a lifetime of fighting, have you managed to avoid scars?
maximus_tm: *his grin turning a bit rueful* Shall I show you the rest of my body?
jack_aubrey: *rather too eagerly* Well, yes, if you would not mind it.
maximus_tm: *looks like he might be on the verge of a blush, but doesn't quite, and pulls off his shirt to show Jack his arms, chest, and back*
jack_aubrey: *is quite astonished* You look as though you have been flogged.
maximus_tm: Where I am from, Captain, we don't--didn't--have the kind of projectile weapons you have here. This is the price I pay for a life of close combat.
jack_aubrey: *touches the big ugly wound on his back* I am amazed that this was not lethal.
maximus_tm: *shivers a little* It almost was. That one up higher? Is from where Commodus stabbed me before I met him in the arena.
jack_aubrey: *touches that one too* And you killed him in spite of being so hurt?
maximus_tm: *shivers again* Oh yes. I HAD to.
jack_aubrey: *is touching all his scars trying to guess how he got them but feeling that it would be indiscreet to ask*
maximus_tm: *doesn't particularly object to Jack touching him like this*
jack_aubrey: *strokes a rough finger down a long mark* Have you had Stephen look at this?
maximus_tm: Ah, yes, the good Doctor has poked and prodded and examined me quite thoroughly. I was worried that he planned on cutting me open like he does the fish he catches!
jack_aubrey: *is also doing rather a lot of curious prodding as his stomach muscles have never looked like Maximus'* And he did not fear some infection? It is still very red.
maximus_tm: *his belly flutters a little bit as Jack's touch tickles just slightly* Yes, he did, and he put something on it that smelled horrible, but it doesn't seem to have done anything. Oh, and this one? *points to the scar on his shoulder* I got this from one of Commodus' loyal soldiers when I escaped from them.
jack_aubrey: *is ignoring his shoulder and peering at a scar running down toward his groin, putting his thumb at the top of it* This looks as if it must have been painful.
maximus_tm: *swallows* Excruciating.
jack_aubrey: *rubs his thumb over it and grins* You are lucky to still be a man!
maximus_tm: *grins back* Indeed I am.
jack_aubrey: Though perhaps you did not think so, locked away with only other gladiators. I believe I did read, once, that successful gladiators were often rewarded with slave girls, sometimes two or three at a time!
maximus_tm: Oh, yes... *makes a face* Sometimes even noble women would, ah, request a gladiator's services.
jack_aubrey: *sees the face* And...you did not enjoy...ah, that is, well, one never knows how barbarians might have -- er, not that I was implying that YOU were a barbarian, of course...
maximus_tm: *waves it off* I merely did not like the idea of being thought of as a whore.
jack_aubrey: *suddenly realizes that his hands are still all over Maximus, and tries to withdraw them as discreetly as possible* Oh, certainly no one would have called you such a thing!
maximus_tm: It is merely the implication. *steps back when Jack pulls his hands away, and pulls his shirt on again*
jack_aubrey: *is now rather indecently curious what the rest of Maximus looks like, and ashamed of himself* Ah...would you like some wine perhaps? Or toasted cheese?
maximus_tm: I would be grateful for something to eat, thank you, Captain.
jack_aubrey: *yanks open the door and yells for Killick to bring all of the above*
maximus_tm: *takes a seat at Jack's table* Your Doctor seems very concerned for me. It would appear he thinks I might be a danger to myself.
jack_aubrey: *frowns very slightly, not certain how to answer this* Have you given him reason to think so?
maximus_tm: Certainly not. You know him better than I do -- is there some way to convince him that he need not worry?
jack_aubrey: *trying to broach this politely* Dr. Maturin rarely expresses such concern without some cause. I suggest that, if it is not the case, you let him observe that you are quite adjusted and becoming content in your situation.
maximus_tm: *looks at him for a moment, then nods* Fair enough, Captain.
jack_aubrey: And I have been a very poor host. Are you quite comfortable? Is there anything you need?
maximus_tm: Perhaps... the next time we encounter an enemy ship, you would allow me to join the boarding party?
jack_aubrey: *very eagerly* I would be most happy to have you with the boarding party! *suddenly realizes that maybe he had better ask Stephen's advice before committing himself to this course of action* Let me, ah, discuss it with my officers, as there is some damned unfortunate awkwardness because you are not a British citizen...clearly you cannot be rated as a seaman, and I cannot rate you midshipman as a Spaniard. I wonder whether I might make you a master's mate.
maximus_tm: *is smiling a little at this* Is it truly necessary to give me a proper position aboard the ship?
jack_aubrey: *frowning* I cannot cut you in for a share of the prize money unless you have a position. Nor do I think the admiralty would approve of my allowing you on a boarding party, though if you put enough coins in their purse, I think they won't complain, ha, ha!
maximus_tm: *smiles at this* Very well, Captain. Please do discuss the matter with your officers.
jack_aubrey: *relieved, as Killick interrupts to bring in the food* Ah, there you are! Is there anything else you'd like?
maximus_tm: No, Captain, this is fine. Well... actually... perhaps some of that plum duff with the evening meal?
jack_aubrey: *turns around to shout this to Killick, who is already muttering from outside about it*
maximus_tm: *swallows and digs into the food* Oh--do not worry about your hospitality. It's enough that you allowed me to come on board at all.
jack_aubrey: *is embarrassed and waves this off, stuffing his face with toasted cheese instead*
maximus_tm: *reaching for the wine* You and the Doctor -- despite his prodding -- have been infinitely kind to me, and I appreciate it.
jack_aubrey: *happy to have a change of subject handed to him* Well, Stephen is the finest surgeon in the fleet. Surgeon, ha -- he is a physician. There is no man can be saved that he can't save!
maximus_tm: *takes note, once again, how Jack's entire demeanor changes when speaking about Stephen* Yes, so I hear. And well versed in all manners of birds, beasts, and plants?
jack_aubrey: Oh, he knows more about birds than the birds do themselves, I'd wager. Ha! Though it is not always easy to have such a man on the ship. Did I tell you about the time he made me keep bees? And he brought a vampire sloth from Brazil!
maximus_tm: You did tell me about the bees -- but not about the vampire sloth.
jack_aubrey: Well, I had told him not to waste any time when we stopped for greenstuffs, but I knew he would go looking for vampires if he saw an opportunity. So I specifically stated that he was not to bring any bats onto my ship. However, I failed to say anything about other animals, and he returned with a great hairy beast that disliked me greatly at first...
maximus_tm: *smiles a little* I cannot imagine why anyone or any creature would dislike you.
jack_aubrey: *a little taken aback, wondering if Maximus is trying to curry favor for some reason* Ah, well...the sloth did not like me until I discovered that it had a taste for grog. Do you know, I got the poor creature drunk.
maximus_tm: *looks quite astonished* I had no idea that some animals couldn't hold their alcohol the way so many people can't.
jack_aubrey: *blushes* Nor had I. Stephen was most put out with me.
maximus_tm: Yes, I imagine he would have been. *smiling* He seems the kind who would take his creatures very seriously.
jack_aubrey: Yes, once he brought a parrot on board and it learned to say... *suddenly realizes that he should not be uttering this aloud, and leans over and whispers the profanity in Maximus' ear*
maximus_tm: *is a bit confused, but laughs a little* What exactly is a parrot, and who taught it to say such a thing?
jack_aubrey: Oh, a parrot is a bird, with very colorful feathers and sometimes a frill on its head... *flips his ponytail up to indicate* This one was from the forest in Brazil, though I have heard they have them in Botany Bay. I am not certain where it learned that word, but on a ship, sailors do not often mind their tongues.
maximus_tm: *quite deliberately pretending he can't remember some of these things he has learned while being aboard the ship and having lessons from Jack, Stephen, and Jack's men* And Brazil -- it is part of the new... continent you called it, discovered a few centuries ago?
jack_aubrey: The New World, yes, though it is hardly new to us any longer, ha! It is called America. Brazil was conquered by the Portuguese but the port in Recife is now open to our ships. Perhaps we shall put into port there while you are aboard.
maximus_tm: I would very much like to see it, Captain.
jack_aubrey: I was hoping to pick up the trades and make our turn for the Cape without touching there, but Stephen is complaining again about the lack of greenstuff. You do not think he would mislead me just for the chance of finding a vampire, do you?
maximus_tm: Oh -- I am certain he would not. *hides a little smile behind his wine glass*
jack_aubrey: *completely oblivious* I think he might. But I am afraid he is right about the greenstuff; we can afford no scurvy.
maximus_tm: Surely he would merely like to serve both his purposes, and the ship's.
jack_aubrey: Oh, he will say it is the ship's purpose, to touch at this port or that, when all he really wants is a glimpse of a bird's egg! But in this case he may be right.
maximus_tm: He is a man dedicated to his passions. You cannot fault him for that.
jack_aubrey: Certainly I do not fault him. I sometimes fear that if I continue to rush him past this port and that, he will refuse to sail with me any longer.
maximus_tm: Though I am sure he would complain... something tells me he would not abandon you.
jack_aubrey: He has often threatened to abandon me -- do you know, once he said that he would put off the ship, and I had to explain that I could have him held in irons for trying to flee the service, ha!
maximus_tm: *ponders this for a moment, chewing on the last bit of toasted cheese* Really? Hm. That surprises me.
jack_aubrey: Before he was married, he would try to maneuver himself wherever that wretched...ah, wherever Mrs. Villiers was living. *somewhat huffily* I believe he only sailed to India with me to see her. But he certainly has enough money that he need not sail as my surgeon for the dreadful pay.
maximus_tm: *looks at him in a bit of surprise* I'm terribly sorry, Captain.
jack_aubrey: Oh, that was long ago. He was most instrumental in convincing my wife to wait for me, so I can hardly complain.
maximus_tm: *nodding* That's good, then.
jack_aubrey: *pours them both more wine* I suppose I shall have to take him to Brazil, or if there is scurvy I shall hear about it all the way around the Cape.
maximus_tm: *smiles a little* Would he not be easier to live with, at least, if you took his advice?
jack_aubrey: Certainly it would be more pleasant for me! When he is well pleased, he... *shuts himself up* Of course, we must do what is best for the ship.
maximus_tm: *gives him a bit of a look, then nods* Of course.
jack_aubrey: I wondered whether I might impose upon you for assistance.
maximus_tm: Certainly! Anything to repay you for your hospitality.
jack_aubrey: I have a pair of midshipmen who cannot seem to learn to use their swords. I have no time to instruct them. Would you be willing...?
maximus_tm: I would like that very much, Captain.
jack_aubrey: *damned pleased with himself* Very good. Capital. More wine?
maximus_tm: *lifts his glass* Please.
jack_aubrey: *pours out the last of the bottle and realizes that they have drunk quite a lot, and it's still early* You might also be interested in speaking with the Marines. Of course you could not carry a gun, being a Spaniard, but I am certain Mr. Howard would enjoy teaching you to fire one.
maximus_tm: Ah, I think I might like that indeed.
jack_aubrey: *suddenly wonders if Stephen will think he is mad, suggesting that Maximus be allowed to handle a gun* Ah...though perhaps that should wait. Until you have been on board longer. Are you certain there is nothing that you need? I'm sorry we have no larger accommodations.
maximus_tm: *ponders for a moment, staring at Jack for a long moment, then shakes his head* The accommodations are acceptable, Captain.
jack_aubrey: You have adapted to life at sea more quickly than most lubbers. Stephen will still knock his head on the crossbeams and let go of the shrouds!
maximus_tm: *smiles at this* Yes, indeed, I have seen him knock his head twice.
jack_aubrey: *suddenly nervous* Listen, he may offer to take you up into the mizzentop. I used to take him there, when he was so low about Diana -- I said it always lifted a man's spirits, at least a hundred feet above the deck, ha, ha, ha! You must promise me that if he offers, you will act very cautious and afraid, and beg to bring Bonden with you.
maximus_tm: *frowns a little but nods* I am surprised that a man could spend so much time on a ship and yet not really adapt to life aboard one.
jack_aubrey: What you must understand about Stephen is that he is quite brilliant in matters of anatomy and natural science, but when it comes to matters nautical, he cannot tell a crosstree from a futtock shroud.
maximus_tm: I find that fascinating, really. He is a very intriguing man, your doctor.
jack_aubrey: You must hear him play. This evening, perhaps.
maximus_tm: *rather eagerly* Oh, yes, I would like that. But -- only if you play as well, Captain.
jack_aubrey: *a little embarrassed* Yes, very well.
maximus_tm: *smiles brightly* Excellent.
jack_aubrey: *realizes if he drinks any more he may not be sober enough to play and puts his glass down* Are you a musical man?
maximus_tm: *shakes his head* I am afraid not, Captain.
jack_aubrey: Oh. Well. Perhaps you might learn.
maximus_tm: Perhaps I might. *looks down* Though -- I did used to sing with my wife, when I was with her. We would sing to our son.
jack_aubrey: *looks at him, not sure what to say* Ah. When I sing to my son, he cries. Even though I have been told that I have a fine voice. *hums a little Mozart*
maximus_tm: *glances up at him, smiling a little* I would see no reason to cry at such a sound.
jack_aubrey: *gives him a great enthusiastic smile* Perhaps you might tell my wife's mother that! She is always trying to shush me around the children. In my own house. Tonight, then, come, and we shall play for you, and perhaps I might even sing.