by Michelle L. Frazier

Disclaimers: This story depicts a loving relationship between two women. It falls into the Uber category because the character dynamic is based upon Xena & Gabrielle who belong to Renaissance Pictures/Universal-MCA. However, all the characters herein are mine. There is a mention of sexual violence, but only a mention, nothing graphic.

 

PART 2

A skeleton crew was left aboard the Draco and the long boats took the pirate crew to the beach where a feast awaited them of roasted pig and various other dishes of food native to the island. Genevieve remembered her place in front of the men and prepared a plate for Alex and set it before her on the makeshift table. She carefully poured out a mug of rum and placed it there also.

�Get yourself something, DuBois before there�s none left,� Alex insisted and smiled as she watched the blonde woman fill her plate to almost overflowing before sitting at the captain�s left. She forewent the rum in favor of water, her stomach not quite up to alcohol so soon.

Genevieve ate until she felt ready to burst and she leaned back on the bench stretching her much abused stomach as she replied in kind to the good natured ribbing she received from the rest of the men. As the men sat back and waited for their dinner to digest someone called for a story and all the men looked expectantly at Genevieve. She looked to Alex in surprise.

�Please, entertain them, they�ll forget that we�re running low on rum,� Alex advised her in a low whisper.

The blonde woman shrugged happily and complied, entertaining the men with tales of adventure until her voice cracked from abuse. Reluctantly she was allowed to sit down finally as someone brought out a fiddle and the men began dancing with each other and playing games. Genevieve was content to sit at Alex�s side and watch but she was soon dragged into the foray of dancing bodies, albeit unwillingly.

Their dancing became wilder and Genevieve began to get worried as she felt hands getting tangled in the loose fitting tunic she wore. She backed away from the men carefully and from the corner of her eye she saw Alex, a worried frown on her face, heading her way.

A last lunge for her arm did it, her backwards momentum and the sailor�s ill placed grasp combined to rip the tunic from her body, displacing the cloth band in the process. She felt a cool breeze and looked down in horror as her secret was revealed. All revelry halted as the men facing her stared, their dancing partners also turning to see what was going on.

Alex was there in the next heartbeat, yanking the tunic from the astonished sailors hand and covering Genevieve with it.

�What�s this, Captain? Ain�t ya gonna share wi� us?� a burly sailor ground out.

�She�s mine, I don�t share.� Alex stated calmly, pushing the blonde woman behind her as Genevieve tried to set her tunic to rights.

�Oh, come on, you claimed a cabin boy, that�s a girl,� the man continued, but his fellows were backing off as Mr. Davis moved to stand at Alex�s side.

�Mr. Robbins, I distinctly remember claiming �the little one,� not a boy or a girl. Do you wish to challenge my claim?� The look in Alex�s eyes should�ve warned the man but he was either to drunk or stupid to notice.

�Aye,� he spat on the ground.

�Very well, you are drunk. I will let you wait until you are sober to carry out the challenge.�

�No, here, now,� Mr. Robbins� voice was a menacing snarl.

�Choose your weapon,� Alex nodded in ascent.

�You can�t do this,� Genevieve whispered for Alex�s ears alone.

�Cutlasses.� Mr. Robbins drew his and the men cleared the area of tables and benches as Alex turned to look at Genevieve, one eyebrow arched in query.

�This isn�t about you, he challenges my captain�s share. Mr. Davis, would you mind loaning DuBois your shirt for now? Hers is beyond repair.�

The first mate complied immediately, handing the shirt to Genevieve and turning his back as she pulled it on and then tugged the now useless cloth from beneath it.

Alex faced the large man, her eyes slowly raking over him from head to toe and the sneer which twisted her lips sent the message that she had measured him and found him lacking. With a howl of outrage Robbins charged, determined to win by brute force alone. That was his second mistake as Alex simply stepped aside at the last possible moment and his cutlass met with only air and he sprawled face first into the sand.

Alex waited for him to regain his feet, her body poised ready for the next attack. Robbins came up and at her again, still letting his temper get the best of him but this time he swung his cutlass low, aiming for her knees. Alex launched herself into the air with a shrill battlecry, flipping over to land behind him on her feet.

�Walk away Mr. Robbins, I don�t relish the idea of killing one of my own men needlessly,� Alex spoke softly, the heaving gasps of her opponents labored breathing apparent to all.

Robbins shook his head in reply, his face still purple with rage and Alex gave a mental sigh. Have it your way then.

This time Robbins came at her more slowly, and Alex met his swing with a smooth parry, deflecting his blade away from her head and driving him back with a flurry of strokes aimed at his arms and legs, he defended himself gamely but he was tiring quickly. Alex took advantage of his waning strength and disarmed him efficiently, sending his cutlass flying with a smooth flick of her wrist and followed through by slamming the hilt of her cutlass into his chin. The blow sent the man to his knees, his eyes rolling back into his head before he toppled forward to land face first in the sand.

Alex stood over him for a moment, feeling the adrenaline rush in her veins slowly ebbing, her breathing quickly returning to normal.

�When we leave this island Mr. Robbins stays,� she announced coldly, sliding her cutlass into her belt before moving to face Genevieve and Mr. Davis with a wry grimace.

Genevieve stepped forward, her eyes searching the pirates face with a worried frown. Before she had a chance to speak movement from behind Alex drew a startled gasp from her lips.

The reaction and a roar from behind Alex sent her into action, pushing the small blonde to the side with one hand she grabbed the hilt of her cutlass shoving it downward and the naked blade up as she went to one knee. A grunt of surprise was the only sound heard as she followed the dead weight over, the cutlass was still in her belt and she landed on top of the prone figure, a searing pain ripped through her side as she landed but she ignored it. With a sneer of disgust she freed her cutlass and rose to her feet, wiping the blade on Robbins� tunic.

�Anybody else got a problem with my cabin boy?� She eyed the sailors coldly.

�No, Captain!� they called out almost as one, standing with their backs straight and eyes forward.

�I�m going back to the ship, someone bury this garbage.� Alex swept a hand towards Robbins� body and turned on her heel.

Genevieve stood up and followed in her wake silently, noting the blood that spread in a crimson stain across the pirate�s back, contrasting sharply with the crisp whiteness of her shirt. Robbins� blood, Genevieve decided and thought nothing further of it as they were rowed back to the ship by two of the least inebriated sailors.

Alex said nothing during the entire passage and inwardly Genevieve cringed. �I should�ve been more careful,� she berated herself. �She�s trying to keep me safe and then I go and do something stupid and blow my disguise.�

Genevieve was the first up the ropes and she waited for Alex silently as the pirate clambered slowly over the railing. She felt the warm hand on her shoulder and looked up in surprise as she felt the pirate lean heavily on her, her head lowering until soft lips brushed against the blonde�s ear.

A thrill of excitement ran up her spine but turned chill as the words Alex was saying registered, �Help me to my cabin quickly.�

Genevieve complied, moving swiftly to the main cabin, the captain putting more of her weight on the blonde�s shoulder.

Once inside the cabin Genevieve shut the door behind them and led Alex to the bed before lighting the lamp. The pirate lay back weakly on the bed, her hand clasped tightly against her side but Genevieve saw the blood which seeped from between her fingers.

The blonde grabbed a piece of linen and a bottle of strong rum from the shelf and moved to Alex�s side, gently peeling away the pirate�s fingers. She gasped in shock at the sight which greeted her there. A deep gash ran across Alex�s side.

�The dagger Robbins had in his belt ... gods, that was poetic,� Alex berated herself.

�Sh, he was trying to stab you in the back, it could�ve been worse,� Genevieve blanched as she remembered Robbins� look of pure hatred and rage as he�d lunged for the captain�s exposed back.

A few quick strokes with a dagger and the shirt was gone and the pants unfastened as Genevieve went to work, wiping away the excess blood with the rum soaked linen before wadding up a clean piece and pressing it to the wound.

�Hold that there,� Genevieve instructed, placing Alex�s hand against the linen. She grabbed a needle and some leather twine from a cabinet and brought another lantern close, hanging it above the pirate�s bed.

�Drink this, you�ll need it �cause this is going to hurt,� Genevieve instructed, handing the rum bottle to Alex before going to work, sewing up the wound with neat careful stitches.

Alex�s lips were tight, drawn in lines of pain but she said nothing, taking long swigs from the bottle in her right hand.

As she worked Genevieve began weaving a story, her lyrical voice distracting Alex from the action of her hands. The pirate found herself once again enthralled by the words of the small blonde, her mind focusing on the tale of Lepithus and Io and how Aphrodite took pity on the lovers.

When she was done Genevieve washed the wound with soap, cleaning the blood carefully from the silent captain. She noted with a grimace of satisfaction that the blood flow had stopped and she looked up into those startling blue eyes to see a look of gratitude and she smiled softly.

�My father was a doctor,� Genevieve supplied, images flashing through her mind of long hours spent helping her father in his practice, sewing up wounds, changing bandages, and telling stories to ease the tedious moments of the sick and wounded.

�I need your help, these men can�t see me this way. I�ll be dead by morning if they sense weakness in me,� Alex spoke finally as Genevieve busied herself pulling off the pirates boots and tossing the ruined shirt into a bucket.

�I think you underestimate your men,� the blonde looked up into Alex�s eyes, studiously avoiding the sight of the pirate�s naked torso and the way the lamp light sent a warm glow across the creamy white skin of her breasts.

�After that little business on the beach, you believe that?� Alex tried to shift her position and winced, bringing Genevieve immediately to her side, laying a firm hand on her shoulder.

�Stop that, you�ll tear out the stitches,� she admonished. �I saw no one backing Robbins up, as soon as he made the challenge he was on his own. What I saw in the other men�s eyes was pity, they knew he was going to die.�

Alex fell silent, chewing thoughtfully on the storyteller�s words, wondering why it was suddenly so important that she get this woman, yes woman, Alex couldn�t deny that anymore, to safety and away from the influence of herself and her men.

Her thoughts were still whirling as her body gave in and she fell into a troubled sleep as Genevieve curled up in a chair beside the bed to watch over the pirate who had stolen her heart.

* * * * * *

Genevieve was startled from her doze as she heard someone cry out in anguish and she was instantly at the pirate�s side who was thrashing about in the throes of a nightmare. The small blonde reached out carefully to press Alex back onto the bed, afraid that she would tear out the stitches and was shocked to find the woman burning up with fever. Grabbing a bucket of water and a clean cloth Genevieve began to gently bathe the dark haired woman�s forehead, murmuring soothing words. She smiled briefly in satisfaction as the pirate settled down and her breathing returned to the slow even rhythm of sleep.

Dawn was just peeking over the island when Genevieve succumbed to sleep, stretching out beside the pirate on the bed, one hand resting gently against the smooth muscles of Alex�s stomach, the contact seeming to calm the woman because every time she moved away the pirate would begin stirring restlessly again.

* * * * * *

The first mate waited until mid-morning before knocking on the door of the captain�s cabin, the men were just beginning to move about and it was time to be on their way. He was puzzled about his captain�s non-appearance this morning, she was usually up with the dawn.

To his surprise, it was not the captain who opened the door but the small blonde, her hair disheveled and a sleepy smile greeted him with a warm �good morning�.

He frowned, as his mind instantly put a dark spin on Genevieve�s peaceful countenance and he tried to brush past her to confront Alex. To his surprise the little blonde blocked his way, a determined look on her face.

�The captain doesn�t wish to be disturbed, she said to set sail the instant the men are ready,� Genevieve lied smoothly, her face suddenly an impassive mask as she set her feet, refusing to allow Mr. Davis entrance into the cabin. He looked past her to catch a glimpse of dark hair and tanned shoulders resting against soft pillows and his lip curled in disgust.

Genevieve was startled to discover that the dark look wasn�t directed at her and she turned to see what had raised his ire. She saw that Alex was awake now and sitting up on her elbows and the small blonde caught the lascivious grin the captain threw at her first mate.

�You have your orders, Mr. Davis,� the captain spoke, effectively cutting off any comment by the man.

Mr. Davis turned on his heel and stormed away, barking orders as Genevieve slowly closed the door.

With a puzzled frown she turned again to the pirate and flew instantly to her side as she fell back, her features twisted in pain. With a gentle tug Genevieve pulled the sheet aside, carefully unwrapping the bandages to check the wound. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as she saw that the stitches were still intact and there was no sign of the redness which would indicate infection.

�Why was Mr. Davis so angry?� Genevieve questioned as she began putting a fresh bandage on the wound.

�He believes that I have taken liberties with you,� Alex replied softly, the look on her face was unreadable as the small blonde looked up in surprise.

�Why would he think that?�

The captain shrugged, sweeping a hand over her bare torso. �It looks damning,� Alex acknowledged, a sad, apologetic smile on her lips. �It will keep him off-balance long enough for my injury to heal. I�m sorry to use you in this way, Genevieve. I will set Mr. Davis straight as soon as I am able.�

�Now why would you want to do that?� Genevieve grinned mischievously, swooping down to steal a kiss from the startled pirate.

�You take much for granted, little one,� Alex�s eyes were narrowed in speculation.

�I take nothing for granted, I only offer my heart freely. I feel our souls are already as one.�

�What makes you say that?�

�I only met you two days ago and yet I feel as if I�ve known you my whole life, as if I�ve been waiting for the fates to step in and bring about this chance meeting.�

�Uh huh,� Alex said skeptically and yet she felt the same way. Only there was no way she was going to let this innocent be dragged into the bloody reputation the pirate had made for herself. The sooner they got to Port Royale the better, and Alex was determined to get Genevieve as far from her as possible.

* * * * * *

Genevieve dressed quickly and went to the galley to fetch food for the captain and herself. She immediately noticed a change in the way the men treated her. They showed her only courtesy and respect, gone was the rough disdain reserved for a cabin boy, the lowest of the low. The ship�s cook hurried to fill a tray for her, offering to have his assistant carry it but Genevieve refused, heading back to the captain�s cabin with a much lighter step than when she�d left.

They both tucked into the food with a relish reserved for the half starved and the small blonde found herself once again sharing light hearted banter with the pirate known in the Caribbean as the Bloody Savage, a bastardization of Alex�s surname.

Once the captain succumbed to Genevieve�s insistence that she sleep, the blonde left the cabin, returning the tray to the galley before wandering the main deck of the trim ship. The men were busy at the mundane tasks that seemed to always need doing. She found Mr. Davis leaning against the bow railing, staring out at the sea.

He spared her a brief smile, before returning to his perusal but Genevieve leaned against the rail beside him, refusing to be dismissed so quickly.

�Why does she believe she is the heart-less pirate that is spoken of in the tales I�ve heard?� she began and he turned towards her, a brow arched at the forthrightness of her question.

�I suppose you would know that better than I at this point.� He frowned.

�Who says that she took the liberties? What makes you so sure that I didn�t make the first move?�

�Did you?� he questioned, and it was apparent to the small blonde that that thought had never crossed his mind.

�Yes,� she answered, her face open to the first mate and he saw the truth written there.

�You don�t seem the type...,� his voice trailed away, eyes wide with astonishment.

�What type is that? A lover of women? We come in all shapes and sizes,� Genevieve smiled warmly, refusing to take offense when she could tell that none was intended. �Tell me about the woman who leads these men willingly into battle, and the freedom of the open seas.�

Mr. Davis smiled then, and he accepted the small blonde for what she was, a bright soul, making her own way in a world full of darkness. He spun out the story of a young girl of seventeen who had been taken captive by pirates, her body ravaged by them and left to die on the beach of a Caribbean island. And how that girl had survived and had single-handedly taken over a slaver�s ship that had stopped there for repairs. She had freed the slaves and led them on a bloody rampage across the West Indies in search of the pirates who had committed the crimes upon her person, only to find that they had been captured by the Dutch and hung for their other crimes not long after marooning her.

�So she just kept on pirating?�

�We gave her no choice. We were slaves, runaways according to the law and we had no place else to go. We asked her to continue to lead us, only things changed, no longer was her cause ours, our cause became hers and she began striking out at the wealthy slave holders exclusively and the slave ships, freeing their human cargo whenever possible.�

�How does this make her better than the pirates who took her in the first place?�

�It doesn�t, only suffice it to say that other pirate ships steer clear of the Draco too, we will target them just as quickly as the slaver�s ships. Because of this, she is safe in many ports in the Caribbean and can come and go as she pleases. And women will always be safe upon this ship. We have rules, and those rules are strictly enforced. We are not animals.�

�Then why was it necessary to continue to hide my gender?� Genevieve questioned with a puzzled frown.

�Because, while we are not animals, we are men and alas, as you have witnessed, too much drink and too much time at sea can reduce some of these men to a more primitive state. Robbins hadn�t been with us very long, he was picked up a month ago from a slave ship to replace some men we lost in a particularly difficult battle. Most of these men have been with Captain Sav�ge since the beginning but their are some that haven�t been. That�s where our potential troublemakers come from. Mr. Bones and Mr. Bowden have only been with us for a few months also, they learned their lessons the hard way yesterday. Time will only tell if they will last the distance.�

With that, Mr. Davis bid Genevieve good day and returned to overseeing the ship, striding through the men with an authoritative step that held none of the anger and broodiness she had witnessed earlier.

She wandered back to the main deck and watched as one man carefully braided long strands of rope. She sat down beside him, learning quickly that his name was Stevens and with little trouble, persuaded him to let her help. As her nimble fingers quickly picked up the task she began weaving a story, and soon found that the conversations around her had died as the men listened, careful to continue their work but making as little noise as possible so that they could hear her words.

By late evening, Alex made her way out of her cabin to find the small blonde perched on a barrel surrounded by the men who had finished their tasks all listening intently as Genevieve spun tale after tale for her captive audience.

Mr. Davis moved to her side as she leaned against the bulwark, watching and listening to the small blonde, her face an unreadable mask.

�How long has she been doing this?� Alex questioned, not sure if her first mate was speaking to her or not after the morning�s events.

�Since noon, I think you need to rescue her again before she loses her voice,� he laughed softly and Alex turned to face him, a puzzled frown creasing her brow.

�I would�ve succumbed to her charms too if she had turned them my way,� he shrugged away the unspoken question, missing the blank look which came over the captain�s face as he turned away, heading back to the wheel.

Alex waited until Genevieve finished the story she was currently telling and then called to her.

�Dubois, fetch me some dinner and let the men get to theirs.�

Genevieve turned a startled face to the captain, barely suppressing the urge to ask what she was doing out of bed. �Aye, Captain.� Was all she said as she apologized to the men and jumped to do Alex�s bidding. She was grateful for the interruption and only wondered if she had been doing something wrong.

The small blonde entered the captain�s cabin and found Alex sitting at the desk, writing diligently in her log book.

�What are you doing out of bed?� she admonished.

�I was hungry and my �cabin boy� was nowhere to be found,� Alex replied.

Genevieve looked up guiltily and caught the sparkle of laughter in the blue eyes and instantly smiled in return.

�I�m sorry, I didn�t realize the lateness of the hour.�

�It�s okay, I wasn�t really that hungry but you sounded like you were very tired. I knew the men wouldn�t be able to coax you into another story if you had been summoned by me,� with that Alex handed over a mug of wine which Genevieve accepted gratefully, gulping it down quickly as she sat down in the chair next to the desk.

�You don�t mind me telling stories to the men?�

�Why should I mind? As long as they are getting their work done it makes them less likely to get up to mischief. Life aboard ship can be hard and I won�t begrudge them their entertainment as long as you understand that you have to know when to stop and give yourself a break.�

�I will remember that,� Genevieve nodded in agreement.

Alex pushed the plate of food her way and watched in awe as the little blonde began eating heartily. The pirate closed her log book and set it aside before rescuing some meat and rolling it in a slice of bread.

�What did you tell Mr. Davis?� Alex questioned carefully, studying Genevieve�s face for her reaction. The small blonde blushed to the roots of her hair, nearly choking on the wine.

Alex waited patiently until she regained her composure, but didn�t relent.

�Um, enough of the truth to put him off looking at me like I had three heads.� Genevieve tried for the evasion but the look on the captain�s face told her she wasn�t buying it.

�I told him that I made the first move.�

It was Alex�s turn to choke on the meat she had just swallowed, and Genevieve pounded her on the back until the pirate regained her breath, taking a deep swallow from her mug.

�And he believed you?� she finally squeaked out.

�I can be very persuasive,� Genevieve grinned. �Besides, it�s the truth. I have been trying to seduce you, I just didn�t tell him I hadn�t succeeded yet. The look on his face was worth it.�

�I can only imagine,� Alex laughed. So with a simple statement of truth you have managed to restore peace between me and my first mate. Whatever shall I do with you, Genevieve Dubois? And what shall I do without you? You�ve also managed to crack the ice that was once my heart. If you knew half of the things I have done you would run as far from me as possible.

That night Genevieve slept curled up against the dark haired woman but she awoke to find herself alone in the bed, the captain having already dressed and gone out on deck. Her wound seemed to be healing nicely so the small blonde said nothing as she found the captain perched on a barrel by the wheel house, chatting amicably with her first mate.

The week passed in a similar manner and Genevieve found herself falling into the routine of this ship easily. The men treated her with kindness and respect, letting her help where ever she could as long as it didn�t interfere with her duties as cabin boy. She eased up on her pursuit of Alex, spending more time getting to know this complex person who had saved her from certain hardship and other things that Genevieve shuddered to think about.

But the closer they came to Port Royale the more distant Alex was becoming, slipping into long silences that Genevieve couldn�t draw her out of. Finally in desperation, the small blonde sought out Mr. Davis, cornering him alone by the bowsprit.

�What is supposed to happen in Port Royale?� she asked point blank.

�Shore leave for the men, and the captain is hoping to get you to your relatives in Kingston. Why?� he questioned in return only to find himself alone as Genevieve made a beeline for the captain�s cabin at a dead run. The first mate winced as he imagined the confrontation that was to come.

�What makes you think I want to go to my relatives in Kingston?� Genevieve demanded angrily, her green eyes flashing with fury as she faced Alex from across the desk.

Alex looked up, taken aback by the outburst.

�It�s too dangerous for you to be here. You need to be with your family, in a place where you can find a proper husband. A pirate ship is no place for a woman to be.� Alex shot back, standing to face the younger woman, her tone brooking no refusal.

Genevieve wasn�t having it. �What makes you so sure I want to be with family I have never met before or want a �proper husband�? I want to be here, with you.�

�You don�t know what you�re saying, Genevieve. I can�t keep you safe here.�

�If I wanted to be �safe� I never would�ve left Boston. I would�ve stayed and married John Spencer.�

Alex�s eyes widened in shock at this new information and she found herself at a loss for words for a moment.

�Yes, I was betrothed. I talked my father into letting me go with him to Kingston because I wanted to be with him during his last days. I never intended to return to Boston. Then I met you and suddenly knew that this was what the fates had in store for me all along. We were meant to be together. Can�t you see that?� Genevieve�s tone was soft and pleading now.

�I am a monster, Genevieve. All I can see is the blood on my hands. I�ve led these men against countless ships, I�ve killed thousands in my quest for vengeance.� The pirate closed her eyes, silently willing Genevieve to see the wisdom of her words.

�Do you think you�re the only one who is allowed to feel guilty for your deeds? These men follow you yes, but when you freed them you gave them a choice. They stay with you because they believe they are making a difference and you offer them something they can�t have in this area, freedom. The sailors on the Helios followed their captain out of fear, you could smell it in the air aboard that ship. Here there is nothing but respect and loyalty, I see it on their faces every time they look at you. They know the price, and from what I can see, they pay it gladly.

�I knew exactly what I was doing when I offered myself to you. I�d heard all the stories, I can repeat them for you word for word. You hit only the wealthy slave holders and privateers who do murder in the name of the king, you let the survivors go free and if there are slaves aboard the ship you free them from their chains and give them a choice in their future,� Genevieve delivered her points in a low passionate voice, ticking them off on her fingers.

Alex sat down heavily in her chair, her mind whirling with all the things the small blonde had said. Was it possible? She finally asked herself. This woman who had stolen her heart knew what she had done and yet was still here, still wanted to be with this blood encrusted pirate.

�And if you leave me there I won�t stay, I�ll just come after you,� Genevieve promised, sitting down across from the dark-haired woman, taking the callused hands into her own.

A loud knock at the door jerked them from their silence and at Alex�s �Come�, Mr. Davis stepped in.

�Captain, a ship, off the starboard rail. Looks like one of Lord Malcolm�s slavers,� he grinned ferally.

�Lord Malcolm owned the ship that we came to the Caribbean on,� he explained to Genevieve and she nodded in understanding causing another surprised look to cross Alex�s face.

�Don�t I have any secrets anymore?� she growled at her first mate but he just shrugged and headed back out on deck.

Alex headed for the door, followed closely by the small blonde.

�This isn�t over,� Genevieve promised and saw the pirate hesitate before opening the door, but she said nothing.

Alex took her glass and stood at the starboard railing, studying the ship for a moment before calling out the orders.

�Hoist our colors and prepare for battle!�

A cheer arose from the men as they jumped to their tasks. Alex turned, expecting to find Genevieve beside her but was surprised to see the storyteller in the midst of several pirates loading muskets and pistols with practiced hands.

The captain caught Mr. Davis� arm as he headed for his own post.

�Who taught her to do that?� she nodded towards Genevieve.

�I thought you did, Captain. She was cleaning your pistols that first night,� he gave her a puzzled frown.

�No, she already knew how. I think there is more to this little storyteller than you or I expected,� Alex continued, a wry smile twisting her lips.

�I learned long ago never to underestimate a woman when it comes to battle skills, Captain, perhaps you should do the same,� he smiled to take the sting from the words and she nodded once, acknowledging his point.

�There are slaves aboard this ship,� the captain spoke to her crew from the foredeck as they waited at their battle ready positions. �Shoot to disable and avoid the lower decks. We don�t want to sink her unless there�s no other alternative.�

With that Alex moved aft to take up her place as close to the steersman as possible and found Genevieve beside her.

�How do you know it�s a slave ship?� Genevieve questioned softly and Alex pressed her glass into the smaller woman�s hands.

The dark-haired woman patiently explained the subtle signs and watched the blonde�s expression change as she found each of them just as the pirate described them.

�Why would they leave themselves so vulnerable to attack?� the small blonde noted astutely.

�We�re only a few days out of Port Royale, pirates don�t usually attack this close to a port for fear of retaliation from the king�s navy.�

�Then why are you attacking if it will put your ship and crew in danger?�

�The men will not allow me not to attack, this thing with Lord Malcolm is personal. They are willing to take the risk.�

�There are some muskets and pistols in my cabin. Load them and I want you to stay there until someone comes and tells you it is safe to come out,� Alex made the decision knowing she was going to get an argument from the stubborn woman. �Will you do that for me, please?�

�But...� Genevieve started but the pirate pressed a finger to her lips cutting off further protests.

�I want to know that you are safe, I can�t be worrying about you while I�m in the midst of a battle.�

The small blonde studied the pirate�s face for a moment, seeing only concern there and her arguments fell away. She nodded once in ascent and moved to do as the pirate had asked. And she had asked, hadn�t she? Genevieve noted. It had not been an order although she had every right to make it one.

* * * * * *

From inside the cabin Genevieve heard the sounds of the battle, the muffled reports of the muskets and the deep booming of the canon vibrated through her as she sat behind the desk, her arsenal spread out before her. She felt the shudder run through the pirate ship as it bumped against the slaver. From her position she could see directly into the captain�s cabin of the slaver and she made sure she was safely shrouded in the dark shadows.

She heard the battle sounds lesson and then watched as a familiar figure was silhouetted in the windows of the other cabin. Alex moved further into the cabin and suddenly another silhouette rose up behind her and Genevieve realized that a gun was being pointed at Alex�s back.

The small blonde reacted without thinking, picking up the musket and taking careful aim she fired.

Alex spun around and dropped to the floor at the muffled sound of the gun shot and heard the figure behind her crumple with a scream of pain. She looked first at the window to see the shattered panes of glass indicating that the shot had come from her cabin and then down at the figure of the slaver captain who was moaning and holding his bloody hand. She grabbed him by the collar and dragged him out on deck to be tied up with the rest of his men and then headed for her own cabin as fast as her legs would go.

Genevieve was still sitting there in shock, the musket cradled in her hands but as her eyes focused on Alex she dropped the musket and flew into her arms.

�Oh, thank god,� the small blonde cried out in relief against the pirate�s shoulder.

�That was a hell of a shot,� Alex spoke softly as she recovered her composure. �You blew the pistol right out of his hand.�

Genevieve looked up at her in surprise. �I was aiming at his head.�

It was Alex�s turn to look surprised and she stared down at the woman in her arms.

�Impurities in the glass,� Alex swept a hand towards the window then looked down at the spent musket. �And that one always pulls to the right.�

Genevieve looked down at the musket and blanched. �If I had aimed for his hand...�

�Well, you didn�t.� Alex spoke matter-of-factly. �And from now on, I will let you know about the weapons I leave you with.�

�You�d better,� the small blonde wrapped herself tightly against the pirate�s body, stilling the trembling that shook her frame.

�Captain!� the first mate called from the doorway and stopped as he saw the two women wrapped in each other�s arms.

Alex turned towards him without loosening her hold.

�What is it, Mr. Davis?� she inquired, a brow arched in query, daring him to comment on what he was seeing.

He cleared his throat carefully before continuing.

�The men await your orders,� he looked away and saw the shattered pane of glass and moved forward seeing that the cabin of the slaver sported a similar shattered pane.

�What happened?�

�Genevieve just saved my life, someone was trying to shoot me in the back.� Alex explained.

�That spineless jellyfish you brought out of the cabin? He�s still crying about his hand,� Mr. Davis grinned. �It�s just like Boudro to shoot someone in the back. He�s the worst of Lord Malcolm�s slaver captains.�

�Tell the men I will be right there,� Alex dismissed Mr. Davis and he gave her a curt nod before turning on his heel, striding out the door with a bounce to his step.

�What will you do with the crew of the slaver ship?� Genevieve questioned, reluctantly moving out of the pirate�s warm embrace.

�Turn them over to their former captives,� Alex shrugged. �As we usually do.�

Genevieve followed Alex out of the cabin, a worried frown on her face as the pirate captain vaulted to the rail of her own ship, looking down upon the deck of the slaver.

The slaver crew was roped together on the deck of their ship and the slaves began making their way above deck, shielding their eyes from the bright rays of the sun. The small blonde gasped in horror at the sight before her, men, women and children stretched and breathed in the fresh sea air for the first time in weeks, their bodies covered in rags and their wrists and ankles raw from the manacles which kept them chained below.

�This ship is yours,� Alex called out to the former slaves. �Do with it what you will, but if you slaughter your keepers you will be no better than they. There is an island west of here where you can pick up supplies and sail on to America where you can find freedom. Mr. Davis will mark it on the charts for you.�

With that Mr. Davis proceeded into the captain�s cabin followed by a small group of men.

He returned a short while later and when all the crew of the Draco were back aboard the grapples were released.

�On to Port Royale!� Alex shouted and her men cheered.

�We�ll help Mr. Bones with the wounded now,� Alex explained as she headed below decks to the area set aside for triage.

There were only a few wounded, mostly cuts and other superficial wounds, Genevieve jumped in to help and Mr. Bones was grateful to turn most of the stitching up over to the small blonde.

�It would seem your cabin �boy� is a bit overqualified for her position.� Mr. Bones spoke to Alex as they worked together to stitch up a particularly nasty cut on one of the gunners mates.

�Her father was a doctor,� the captain smiled and on sudden impulse tugged her shirt from the waistband of her breeches, showing him the neat stitches in her side.

The doctor looked at her in surprise. �Robbins?� was all he said and at Alex�s nod he reached down and picked up his scissors, pointing to the healed wound, silently asking permission to remove the stitches.

Alex stood and held her shirt up as Mr. Bones carefully removed them, causing the pirate to grimace as she felt the threads being pulled through the skin.

The captain watched as the small blonde moved from patient to patient, her bright smile and soft words soothing as her hands gently tended wounds. When the last patient was taken care of Alex took Genevieve�s arm and led her back to her cabin, stopping only once along the way to ask that food be brought to her cabin.

Genevieve was too tired to eat, barely taking time to strip off her boots and breeches before falling into bed and quickly drifted into deep slumber.

Alex bent and placed a tender kiss on the smaller woman�s forehead, gently tucking her in. A knock sounded and she moved to the door, opening it quickly to prevent further noise from disturbing Genevieve�s sleep.

Mr. Davis had taken the tray from the cook�s assistant, and he stepped into the cabin to place it on the desk.

�Stay and eat with me,� Alex spoke quietly indicating the chair across from her at the desk.

He nodded in ascent before pouring out two mugs of port from the bottle Alex handed him from the cabinet behind her.

�You�re not going to leave her in Kingston are you?�

�What makes you say that?�

�Alex�s, you are blind. She is hopelessly in love with you and I believe that those feelings are reciprocated. I�ve noticed the way you look at her. She has released your heart from it�s chains, deny it if you can.�

Alex shot him a startled look. �Am I that transparent?�

�Only to me. I�ve known you longer than anyone on this ship. She has brought the laughter back to your eyes.�

�A pirate ship is no place for her, Jean. What if she�s hurt or killed? I couldn�t live with myself if I was responsible for that.�

�There is no guarantee that she will be safe anywhere. Look what happened aboard the Helios. I dragged the story out of her the other day. She should�ve been safe there but she wasn�t. She is as safe here as she would be anywhere and I don�t want to sail with a captain who�s heart is not with her ship.�

Alex dropped into a brooding silence at the wisdom of his words. She began carefully unloading and cleaning the guns which still lay on her desk and Mr. Davis stood, carrying a piece of bread and meat with him as he headed for the door.

�You know she has a place in this crew,� he said quietly before exiting.

He didn�t see Alex�s nod of agreement.

* * * * * *

Alex awakened to find herself again wrapped in Genevieve�s arms. She reveled in the softness of the body pressed against hers, unwilling to break contact. Her fingers wound themselves into the silky smoothness of the blonde hair which spilled across her chest.

�You�ve stolen my heart, little one, do you know that?� Alex whispered softly.

�I do now,� were the low words which startled the pirate out of her reverie and she looked down into sleepy green eyes, her breath catching in her throat as she saw the love shining back at her from them.

Genevieve moved forward first, catching the pirate�s bottom lip in her teeth and sucking gently on it. A groan of pleasure rumbled from the dark haired woman�s mouth and she raised her head further to capture the blonde�s lips, parting them gently with her tongue as she tasted the sweetness that awaited her there.

Genevieve found herself melting into the softness of the pirates body, her hands sliding beneath the tunic wanting to feel and touch all of her. With a gentle tug the small blonde pulled the tunic upwards, and the pirate complied, letting her pull it over her head to land at the foot of the bed as the dark haired woman tugged the blonde�s tunic off too and sent it after her own.

�You are beautiful,� Alex smiled softly, catching Genevieve�s shoulders and holding her away from her for a moment as blue eyes drank in the sight of soft creamy skin lit by the rays of the morning sun.

�As are you,� green eyes slid over soft curves before moving up to focus on the pirate�s face. She saw her love reflected back in blue eyes and felt her soul crying out to it�s other half.

Lips and hands sought to memorize every fold and curve of the bodies pressed together in the slow dance of desire as love wove its passion play in the quiet confines of the ship�s cabin. Two souls came together after centuries apart and shouted with joy at the homecoming and whispered words of love until the two lay exhausted in each other�s arms, drifting off the sleep to the gentle rocking of the waves.

Genevieve awakened much later to find herself alone in the bed, at once feeling the emptiness of the cabin. She rose and bathed herself from the bucket of water left sitting on the window sill with a cloth and soap before dressing in a clean tunic and breeches.

She found Alex deep in conversation with the ship�s cook and moved to stand beside her, surprised to find a strong hand wrapped gently around her upper arm.

�Give your list to Mr. Davis, he will see that the supplies are procured in Port Royale,� Alex dismissed the cook and moved on to the chief gunner, gently tugging Genevieve along in her wake.

�Do you have a list of the things we will need in Port Royale?� she asked him and when he nodded she repeated the instructions she had given the cook before moving on to the bow of the ship.

Genevieve suddenly found herself between the bowsprit and the pirate captain, facing foreword as the dark haired woman pointed out the tiny dot on the horizon that was Jamaica.

�Kingston is two days overland from Port Royale,� she spoke against the smaller woman�s ear and then found herself face to face with cold fury.

�You�re sending me to Kingston?� she hissed.

Alex stepped back in surprise, holding her hands up in protest. �No, but I thought you might want to get word to your family about your father�s death and to let them know that you are safe.�

The fury was gone as quickly as it had arisen and Genevieve threw her arms around the pirate�s neck, reaching up to plant a quick kiss on soft lips.

Alex stepped back again and turned quickly, feeling the eyes upon them but the faces which quickly looked away held only warm smiles and soft laughter.

�You�ve ruined my bad reputation you know,� Alex growled, turning back to the small blonde, but her eyes twinkled with laughter.

�I know,� Genevieve replied before planting another quick kiss on the pirate�s lips and turning once more to face the sea. She felt strong arms wrap around her from behind, enfolding her in warmth and she leaned back against the pirate, ready to face whatever new challenge the day would bring safe and secure in the embrace of their love.

-The End-

Copyright 1998

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