He's having the nightmare again.
He can feel leather clinging to his clammy skin, the bitter cold seeping into his limbs and the streams of cardinal red creeping like some scarlet monster towards him. It's dark and the ship is rocking, the protesting floorboards beneath his feet groaning and creaking as he steps backwards. There is no mercy in the hard emerald gaze, the figure slumped before him clinging with ice-cold hands to his polished boots- There's a blind submission in the face, an exhilariting fear and adrenaline coursing through Arthur's veins. He's done it before, but this time the it is so much sweeter. Salt and blood and leather; rigor mortis and the strench of victory. The captain can feel a smirk creeping across his face and quirking at the corners of his dry mouth, but he's barely registering anything at all save for the drumming in his head. He knows not if it is his heart or the blood rushing through his ears, but it reminds him of a funeral march- Something threatening and ominous too, though now the infamous Arthur Kirkland cannot feel anything at all. Killing had been so effortless and real, it had all happened so quickly...now it was the sheer emptiness once more.
He peered into the blank eyes, a sweet sadness permananently carved on the face- He was alone. He'd never felt such solitude before.
Arthur doesn't know when it will stop, and fights the tendrils of sleep that curl like a vicious snake around his consciousness. He can barely register the warmth of a body beside him as he tosses and turns, the stark cold of the winter night seeping through the windows and the cracks in the floor. He's trembling, or at least he thinks he is, but all he can concentrate on is waking up. He hears something alike to a pathetic whimper, thinks it's himself and bites his lip as he tries to shake off the nightmare. It continues.
The iron smell of blood is almost suffocating, and Arthur turns his golden head to regard the corpse once more. He remembered a time when he never had to get his hands dirty, a life beyond what he now had- He was rich, so so rich now...yet he found himself pining for archaic, woody sentinels and his world made free. His breath catches in his throat and he feels his hands tremble slightly. He hadn't been born to do this, and yet it felt so natural.
It didn't feel natural, it didn't
He gives an instinctive curl of the fingers and then an involuntary shiver. He can hear the storm battering the ship from the outside, can hear every little moan and whine emmitting from the skeleton of the vessel...it's too poignant, all of it- His senses feel heightened, he can even hear the pulse of the inky black ocean-
No. It's only his heart. Only the drums.
The Captain gives a reptillian flex of his neck, watches his breath as it expells from his lips and swirls and vanishes in front of him. The blood is still there- It's in the room, on the soles of his shoes and running down his face. He needs to get rid of it before the crew notices. They always did, though they daren't say a word against so foul a creature; that was all that Arthur was to them, after all: a monster.
At first he'd thought he was cursed. His brothers had always been the sort to bestow bad luck upon the youngest- weakest- brother. Promises of love and the warmth of a family were luxuries Captain Kirkland hadn't been used to. Sometimes, in his minds eye, he could picture his face full of vicious mirth and the honeyed swan-song of the fire-headed nations that-
No. Arthur clutched his hands in the sheets, fighting his counterpart. Here he was, vulnerable- Here he was, remembering everything that he'd thought he'd locked away.
Yes. The pirate gave a smile, all teeth- Sinister and sadistic, dripping with venom. He was the monster, and his precocious curiosity tried to fathom the legnths he could go to. He was worth more than this rotting ship, these grovelling fools with missing limbs and eyes and smiles.
He wanted so much more.
The hyper-sensitivity is still there as Arthur feels a body over him. He tries to fight the weight and the blood that thrums beneath his parchment-thin flesh, tries to wake up, and he does when he hears the voice.
"Arthur...Arthur, darling, it's ok...I'm here, you can wake up..." Sleepy emerald eyes, glistening with the ghosts of tears flutter slowly open, and at last Arthur notices the frantic rise and fall of his chest and _______'s body pressing his into the bed. Her eyebrows are drawn together and she looks worried- Perhaps even scared. He tries to notice the way her hair spirals and frames her face, attempts at holding back his tears, but soon enough he's dragging her down and sobbing into her shoulder. He clings on as if she were a life-line, and all the while her warm arms are around him and her reassuring voice is in his ear. "I-It was horrible..." He breaths, gritting his teeth and burying his head in the junction between her neck and shoulder. "Tell me about it."
"You have to try. It's all over now, nothing can hurt you." He obliges, softening and melting in ________'s arms as moonlight filters through the windows. He tells her about the way he killed so long ago, how in his dream he was so tormented by his inner demons. His lover looks at him with a tentative curiousity. "Who was it, though? You...I-I've never seen you this bad."
"I-It doesn't matter." He sniffles, trying to ignore her.
"Please..." Arthur lifts his head, hair plastered to his scalp and his eyes haunted.
"It...It was you."
He murmurs, almost immedietly hiding his face in her shirt again. ________ doesn't speak a word of protest, resuming the gentle carresses and tugging the covers back over Arthur. She can see the goose-bumps rising over his flesh and the trembling of his hands, so huddles closer to him as well. As they both begin to relax they speak some more, and with that Arthur's beginning to be taken by slumber again. Somewhere a clock strikes midnight.
Before her lover does sleep again, she presses her lips to his and inhales the scent of forests and salt and Earl Grey.
He's where he needs to be- With her. Even after his empire had been reduced to dust, after the nightmares and discontent...
Arthur was with her, and he was safe.
He didn't have to be alone.