Making the Swing
If I don't come home tonight
I will make it home someday."
"SHIP AHEAD!" cried out the man in the crows nest. "NO FLAG! NO ARMS!"
Captain Langly smiled to himself. It had been a good sail so far, having already plundered a dozen or so ships. This last one would be a good haul.
"Cat'an!" The Captains door was almost knocked down by his first mate. "Pirates, coming in fast."
Captain Yars put down his book, and shook his head slowly. He closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer to himself. "Tell the jackrats. They've been itching for a fight. Anyone who doesn't want the fight can stay below. We all know what to do."
"Aye aye!" and the mate scampered down the hall and up to the crew quarters.
The fighting had been tremendous. For some reason the pirates couldn't hit the ship with their cannons, so they got out the ropes and decided to board the ship to go hand to hand. When they pulled along side, the pirates were taken back by the sight they saw. A crew of rat-like men, with swords, taunting them! Most of the pirate crew made the swing, including some who were goaded into it or almost thrown over the side as fodder.
Now all that was left were four of the rat men, back to back, spitting and snarling at their attackers. Casualties were high on both sides, and the pirates were getting ready for the last kills before they could go below for the treasure they wanted. One of the rats broke from the circle and went straight for the captain of the pirate ship. The captain ran his sword clear through the him, blood spilling on the deck.
The rat looked up, his eyes glazing over, and spit out "Thank you." before collapsing to the deck in a bloody puddle. The last three braced to make a stand while the pirate captain pulled his blade from the dead rat.
"ENOUGH!" All eyes turned to the top deck, and a man who stood there. He wore a deep red coat, blue pants, and his tail hung free behind him. All the pirates could see his facial markings were clearly those of a tiger. "We surrender."
The rats looked at each other, and threw their weapons to the deck in disgust. One looked at the cat, and hung his head in defeat. Captain Langly approached the tiger, sword still in his hand. "And who would you be?"
"Captain Yars." the tiger said. "This ship is in my control. We surrender."
"You mean the ship is in MY control!" Langly said, to the cheers of his men. "We mean to take your goods and anything else we want, and if you're smart you'll do as we say."
"Anything you can carry off this ship is yours." Captain Yars said. "I only request the liberty of a sea burial for my men."
"Agreed." Langly said. "I'll give you that." He turned to his men "Tonight we CELEBRATE!" And the pirate crew let out a cheer.
That night the pirates had found the several barrels of rum stowed down below. And most had worked themselves into a drunken stupor. It didn't matter that the ship was full of these animal-people, the rum was good and the food was edible. And the crew of this ship seemed eager to let them eat and drink their fill.
All but one, it seemed. Joseph watched as the others drank themselves to oblivion. He shook his head, as he never could understand why they did that, other than to act like idiots. He only came aboard after he was ordered to by Captain Langly, and now he didn't even know why he did it. He sat on the deck, eating some bread offered to him and just taking in the moment, not feeling comfortable with it. Sharpeye noticed this, but said nothing at that moment. But, the food and rum's effects, as well as the strange lighting and humming of he ship, took it's toll. And, one by one, the pirates fell into a deep sleep.
The pirates seemed to wake up simultaneously. They realized quickly where they were, a brig. "THEY TRICKED US!" and "I'll KILL THEM ALL!" and other threats were made. There was only a window outside, and all they could see was ocean. It was either sunrise or sunset, it was hard to tell. They were left alone for a long time, until finally a door opened.
A bipedal fox walked into the brig. His red fur glistened, as if it had been washed recently. He wore loose pants, a loose white shirt, and nothing else. The pirates tried to rush the only gate in or out, but it wouldn't budge. The fox stood there, and waited for the steam to work itself out from them. It took a long time, but it finally did.
"Now, if you men are quite finished?" The pirates collectively grumbled. "Good. Then I will make this brief. Last night you made a mess of our ship . And since you all passed out, we decided to place you in the brig until we could figure out what to do with you. We've decided. Since you ate all our food, you will now become our food. Unless we have a volunteer in an hour, I'll simply choose the one that looks most… appetizing to us." The fox licked his chops, looking at the crowd. "We are carnivores, and you're meat. You have an hour." With that, the fox left.
Murmurs of disbelief quickly became panic as reality set in. They had no weapons, they had no options, and no choice. After much deliberation, they finally turned to Captain Langly. Captain looked around, and finally pointed at Joseph. "You." Joseph felt faint at the death sentence. "It must be, you can buy the rest of us time to come up with a plan. Your death will give us life." The pirates decided they liked the idea, because it didn't mean they were going to be eaten tonight.
On the hourly bell, the fox came back in with four large dog-like men. They were covered in fur, like all the other members of the crew, which set the pirates on edge. Last night they were cute, now they were menacing carnivores. Joseph took in a deep breath, trying to put on a brave face for his Captain. He looked forward, not looking back to the man he was entrusted to by his father. "You have chosen this one?" The fox asked. The pirates murmured a collective yes. "Good, approach the gate, and walk through it."
Joseph did, the gate shimmering for him to walk through, and was face to face now with the fox. He looked at the dogs at his flanks, and thought better of fighting. Without a word, they all left out an alternative door. Captain Langly said a prayer to ask God for his forgiveness.
Once the door closed, Sharpeye looked over the human. "Are you scared?"
"Terrified." Joseph said, his voice cracking.
"What are you doing on a ship with them?" Sharpeye asked.
"Do you make it a practice to talk with your dinner?" Joseph asked, trying to talk around the lump in his throat.
Sharpeye laughed. "Your dismissed men, as you were." The dogs nodded and put their weapons away, talking and joking with each other about the new recruits. "You're not dinner. And you're not going to be. Please, come with me. Let me show you some things. My name is Sharpeye. You're Joseph, yes?"
Joseph nodded in shock, and followed the Fox to the top deck. Once there, Sharpeye pointed to the bow, port side. Laying on the ground were dozens of bodies under linens. A small group surrounded it, including the three rats he had seen the previous night. Beyond the bodies, there was no other clue that there had been a skirmish. No blood, no stains, even the deck was repaired of it's damage. Captain Yars was standing there as well. Sharpeye brought the young man to the group, and nodded.
Captain Yars blew his whistle's three tones, and all activity stopped on the decks. "When I was elected your captain, I knew that I would have several jobs I would not want. And this is one of them. I watched the captain before me do many of these, and I did not envy her at all. We say good-bye to some of our crew today."
The tiger walked across the rows of bodies laid out on the deck, calling out their name. Joseph watched as he did. "Peter Jones. Jackrat. Weaponsmith. Friend of the clouds on the jackstays with the others. He had wanted off this ship since he came on board. Now he can." And the main bell rang. Other animal-members of the crew lifted the body on the ramp, and buried him at sea. Captain Yars repeated this with every member of the crew, and the display was repeated a painful thirty-five times. Some crew members cried, some only looked down, others watched defiantly as their friends were placed over the side.
Once all the bodies were given their last good-byes, Captain Yars took one final look to his deck crew. "We all know there are only a few ways off this ship. These men took one of them. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from the earth they came, to the earth they return. A moment of silent prayer." Sharpeye bowed his head, as did Joseph and the rest of the crew. Captain Yars let the moment linger, before finally saying "As you were."
Joseph stood, somewhat dumbstruck, as one of the rats openly wept into the shoulder of another. They held each other, and shared a cry. Sharpeye gently took Joseph by the arm and led him to another part of the ship while the rest of the crew quietly went back to their stations. Once there, Joseph asked "Why did you show me that?"
"When you came on board, I saw something different in you. When your turn came up, I wanted to see if you had the heart I thought you had. Lucky for me, I knew you were the first one they chose to go." Joseph looked confused. "Last night, you didn't drink with the others. Why?"
"What was there to celebrate?" Joseph asked. "The Captain had already plundered other ships, and it's not what I signed up for." He snorted to himself in disgust. "Hardly signed up for this."
"How so?" Sharpeye asked.
"My father was a sailor, navigator. Taught me everything I know." Joseph said. Sharpeye sat down on the side of the ship, Joseph did the same. "He pulled a few strings and got me a place on the Jezzibelle."
"I knew you were different." Sharpeye said. "So you're the ship's navigator?"
Joseph hung his head. "Oh I'm on the ship." he said quietly. "Cabin Boy." They both sat in silence, only the noises of the ship and crew around them. They may as well have been alone. "It was too late to jump, and I didn't have a choice. So I did what I had to do."
"Did you like it?"
"No." Joseph said. He smirked to himself. "At least he's not that big. I mean I never choked on it and it never hurt."
"I'm sorry." Sharpeye said quietly.
"So am I." Joseph said.
After another moment of silence, Sharpeye took Joseph by the hand. "I want to show you something else." he said. "Please, come with me?" Joseph nodded, and followed the fox down into the ship. They walked in silence, giving Joseph a chance to look at the ship. It looked immense from the inside, corridors and living quarters for the crew combined with lighting that was not by torches or candles. Sharpeye took him down under the waterline and into a room that obviously didn't see many visitors. The fox opened the door, and walked in, motioning for Joseph to follow.
Once in the room, it jumped to life with lights showing a large oval box floating in the center of the room. There was a calm hum in the room, Joseph felt no fear as he walked inside. Sharpeye walked over to the box, and placed his paw on it. The black oval glowed briefly. "This is Maria." he said. "She is the heart of the ship. Actually, she IS the ship." Joseph walked over to the box, and held his hand up to it. When he touched it, it felt warm, and he jerked his hand away. "Don't be afraid, go ahead."
Joseph put his hand on the box again, and was flooded with emotions. After only a second of this, he ripped his hand away, seeing a glowing hand print where he had touched it. "What under the heavens is that?"
Sharpeye patted the box. "Maria isn't really her name, it's the best we can pronounce it. From all I've been able to put together, she's not of our world. We don't know if she's here by choice or by force, but we do know that the ship is her creation. She gives us food, water, and a ship to live on. In return, we stay here. But it's not by choice. We can't leave the ship."
"We can't… You mean I'm stuck here?" Joseph asked in disbelief.
"Yes." Sharpeye said sadly. "If you run off the side of the ship, you'll fall back in. I'm afraid there's no escape." Joseph closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, feeling like he had been kicked in the stomach. Sharpeye put his paw on the Joseph's shoulder. "There is more, however."
"Can this get worse?" Joseph asked to the ceiling.
"The captain said there's only a few ways off this ship." Sharpeye said. "Maria allows us some shore leave occasionally, but we have to prove somehow that we will come back. There are stories of some crew escaping the ship, but I've never seen it. Most of us leave the ship through death." He let that sink in a moment. "But even there we have rules, it seems."
Before Joseph cold ask, Sharpeye took out a knife from his belt and held it out. "If I cut myself with this knife, I will bleed, yes?" Joseph nodded, and the fox slashed himself lightly with the blade. Joseph gasped, but to his amazement the fox did not bleed. "Maria protects her crew, even from themselves. If you were to stab me, it would be the same. It hurts enough, but I won't bleed. Many crew members try suicide, but it doesn't work."
"So how could your crew die last night?" Joseph asked.
"You're a fast one!" Sharpeye said. "I knew you were. We don't know how this works either. But it seems that people can board the ship, and leave the ship, for half an hour from their first entry. I think Maria takes that long to embrace the new ones. For that half hour, they can kill a crew member that's on the ship. But it always comes in combat." Joseph thought about that a moment. "If we were to have a dozen men on deck screaming 'kill me!' would you have come aboard?"
"I understand." Joseph said. "We would never have come aboard, and the rats wouldn't have…" Joseph suddenly looked like a ton of bricks landed on his head as he realized what Sharpeye was talking about. "They wanted to die?"
"Yes." Sharpeye said, closing his eyes a little. "They had been with us for only four months, but they didn't adjust well. Once they found out your ship was coming, they were wanting to die. I don't think the few survivors were happy when the half hour was up."
Joseph stared at the floating box in disbelief. "That's why the one thanked the Captain." he said quietly.
"Some think it's a jail sentence." Sharpeye said. "Some think it's purgatory. Some think it's Maria being cruel." The fox put his paw on the box, which glowed. "I think Maria was alone, lonely, and when the first one boarded her, she held onto him. I like to think that she believes she's doing us a service. She feeds us, gives us water, maintains the ship, and protects us. We just can't leave. I've learned to accept it, over the years."
Joseph felt his knees buckle, and give. Sharpeye knelt down next to him, and put his paw over the young man's shoulders. "There is one last thing I need to tell you." Joseph nodded, feeling inwardly numb. "I wasn't always a fox like this. I was like you. I was the navigator on the Santa Christa what I think was sixty or so years ago. I've become this form you see now."
"The Santa Christa?" Joseph asked, looking up to the fox. Sharpeye nodded. "That's an old ghost ship story. Everyone knows it."
"Oh?" The fox asked, his ears rotating a little. "And how does it go?"
"It was found floating off the coast of Spain." Joseph said. "No crew, all the cannons had been fired, the food was bad, but it was still there. My father told me that story, he learned it as a child. Everyone in my town knows it."
"It's not myth." Sharpeye said. "It was my ship. I was it's navigator more than sixty years ago." Joseph looked at the fox in disbelief. "We did fire all the cannons, we were like your ship. Young, stupid, we thought we could take this ship and it's treasures. We came aboard, and we were angry at first when we couldn't get out. Many of my friends died in combat. A few more died of age, disease, other things. There's a few of us left from the Santa Christa, not many."
"So how did you get like this?" Joseph asked, pointing at the fox's chest.
"That's the last mystery." Sharpeye said. "For some reason, Maria changes her crew into this kind of form. We don't know how, or why, but it happens. I've asked Maria about it, she tells me it's the inner nature of man to be beast."
"You talk to her?"
"Once you learn her, she speaks to you. Not in words, but in feelings, emotions and riddles. If you ask her where she's from, she will answer that she is from a place like here, but not here, and then a feeling of sadness. I know, I've asked." Sharpeye said, standing up. "And if you ask her why you have a tail one morning, she will tell you that it is your nature, and your inner self, whatever that means. After the change, some of the crew call themselves a different name, some keep their name. I took on my nickname of Sharpeye and never dropped it."
Joseph stood up with the fox, and looked at the glowing box. "So what am I going to be like?"
"I don't know." Sharpeye said. "But there is a way to find out. Walk with me again?" Joseph nodded, and the fox waved good-bye to Maria. The room flickered, and went dark as they left it. "The change can take several months, normally. And sometimes we allow it to happen that way. We rescued a man once and let him change gradually after we gave him the option."
"So what isn't normal?" Joseph asked.
Sharpeye led Joseph to a door, and opened it as he answered. "When you told me you were your captains cabin boy I didn't want to tell you about this, because I know that most are unwilling participants to their captain's libido. Please, come in, and let me get you something to drink?"
Joseph nodded, and Sharpeye poured him a glass of tea, and one for himself. "There's no real polite way to say this, so I will be blunt. Sex." Sharpeye stopped, expecting a spray of tea from the young man. But Joseph didn't, so the fox continued. "Most of us on board are attracted to males, and I'm convinced that's Maria's doing as well to keep us happy. But having sex accelerates the process. Left alone, a man's tail will form in two months, and he will look like us in about six. But something about intercourse speeds up the process. One night and a man can become like you see me."
Joseph took a sip of his tea, and put the cup down. "Is that why you wanted to know if I liked it? So you could have sex with me?"
"Yes and no." Sharpeye said. "I would love to bring you into the crew, I would even hope you're a fox like I am. But like I said, I saw something different in you last night. So I want to offer you a choice. If you want to, I can take you under my wing, and train you to become my replacement. I can also bring you into the crew, or let the change happen slowly. Either way, I will respect your decision, and do all I can to bring you to where you deserve to be. I would be honored to be allowed to bring you into the crew, on your terms."
Joseph thought about it while sipping his tea. He held the mug in both hands while sipping it. He ran a lot of the options through his head, and kept coming back to one solid answer. "If I'm stuck here," he said quietly "Then I may as well do it." He closed his eyes and put the mug down gently. "Just don't hurt me too much."
Sharpeye put his mug down and hugged Joseph. "I won't hurt you. Not now, not ever." he said. "I want you to think of me as a mentor, not as a monster. I won't ask you to do anything you're not prepared for. Above everything else, know that." Joseph nodded, feeling a little scared. "We will take everything at a slow pace. As you're ready."
Joseph looked at the fox, not sure what he should do. He decided to try what worked with his dog at home, and reached up to Sharpeye's ears and gently stroked them. Sharpeye cooed softly, and leaned into Joseph's body. The two of them remained close together, exploring each other with touches and gentle kisses. Joseph became more comfortable with the caressing as the fox licked his neck gently.
Sharpeye reached under the bottom of Joseph's shirt, and he took in a sharp breath. Sharpeye looked up apologetically. "Too fast?"
"No," Joseph said. "Just unexpected." He placed his hand on the fox's paw, and guided it under his shirt. "It's ok." he said, reassuring himself as well as the fox. Sharpeye caressed the flesh on the chest, enjoying the novelty of it. Joseph smiled, and sighed. "Would it be easier if I removed all this?"
"If you're comfortable." Sharpeye said. Joseph nodded, feeling relaxed and open. He removed his shirt, then thought a moment and removed his boots and pants, leaving him naked with the fox. Sharpeye looked over the young man with an appreciative eye. "You're in good shape!" he said, removing his own shirt. "I really hope you're a fox too."
"You hope?" Joseph asked.
Sharpeye nodded, removing his pants gingerly around his tail. "Sometimes we can feel what someone will become. I felt a connection to you when I saw you last night. It's hard to tell unless someone has been on board for a week or so, then we get a better feeling of it. But for the first week or three, it's guesswork." Sharpeye stood still for Joseph to see him, and the young man reacted with a twitch in his groin.
The fox also felt the same way, and Joseph admired the red fur, and especially the sheath of the fox before him. He stepped forward, and hugged the fox gently, letting his body touch the fur of Sharpeye. The fox cooed, and hugged back. They held each other in this embrace for a long time, using hands and paws to feel each other. Joseph felt the contours of the fox's tail, how it connected to his spine, how the muscles felt, how the fur laid down along it's length.
"Can I tell you something?" Joseph asked quietly. Sharpeye nodded. "I'm hoping I'm a fox too."
Sharpeye smiled, and slowly got onto his knees in front of Joseph. "There's one way to find out." he said with a wry grin on his muzzle. He licked his chops, and licked the shaft of the young man. Joseph groaned as the fox leaned into his body, to get his shaft all the way into his muzzle. Using his tongue, Sharpeye massaged the underside, feeling the shaft under him getting slicker and smoother. In moments, Sharpeye felt the flesh of the shift reform itself into a flesh covered sheath.
With his paw, he held Joseph's testicles up into his body, and he could feel their weight and shape change. Sharpeye placed his other paw around to Joseph's back, and he could feel a small nub forming between Joseph's legs. Joseph groaned louder, and put his hands onto the fox's shoulders to steady himself. He hadn't been allowed to orgasm in a month by his captain. And this fox was an expert.
Joseph clamped his fingers onto the furry shoulders of the fox and dug his toes into the ground as his whole body tightened up. He closed his eyes and with a loud cry of pleasure he exploded in the most powerful orgasm of his young life. Sharpeye pulled Joseph's body into his muzzle, and murred to himself as he swallowed all he could. Under his paw, he felt Joseph's tail grow quickly with the force of his orgasm, as well as his testicles reform in his other paw. Joseph rocked his whole body into the fox, and after several pumps with his hips, his body gave out and he collapsed.
Sharpeye did all he could to hold him up, but in the end could only stop him from hitting the floor hard. Joseph passed out on the floor. Sharpeye licked his chops and looked over Joseph as he laid there. He could see that his sheath had formed, and the slick feral shaft was slowly retreating back into his body. His testicles had formed a leathery appearance, and looked to be a little larger than before. He could also see the tail that had formed between Joseph's legs. It was long and whip like with a light pattern of fur formed on it. He couldn't tell much, but it appeared that the new tail had a fox-like white tip on the end.
Carefully, he picked up Joseph and placed him into his own bed gently. Sharpeye went over to his small library, and spoke quietly. "Maria?" a soft churring noise answered him. "I need you to expand something in my quarters please." a few more churring noises. "Just a king sized bed, if I may? The one I introduced to you earlier should be staying with me, I hope." Two soft whirrs and his bed expanded in size, with sheets and an extra set of pillows. "Thank you Maria." Two clicks and then nothing more. Sharpeye got into the bed with Joseph, and cuddled up next to him.
An hour or so later, Joseph woke up to a pleasant feeling of being held. He felt the paws of Sharpeye on him, caressing him gently. He felt a strange sensation, then realized that the fox was nibbling on pointed ears on top of his head. He rolled over slightly in the bed and looked at Sharpeye, who just smiled. "How long have I been sleeping?"
"Your ears and paw pads formed while you slept." Sharpeye said. "But no real fur yet. But your muzzle is coming in nicely. I do think you're becoming a fox, your muzzle looks like mine does."
Joseph put his hands on his face, and could not only feel his mouth and chin pushing outward, but he could also feel the rough paw pads on his flesh. He looked at his hands, and could see that there was now a pad where his palm had been. He then looked down his body, looking at his sheath in amazement. He looked at Sharpeye's sheath as well, and then his own. "It didn't hurt." he said.
"It won't." Sharpeye said. "At least it never has for anyone I've known." Sharpeye kissed Joseph on the forehead. "You are looking very nice so far." Joseph nodded. "If you're ready, I think I can take you the rest of the way."
Joseph nodded, running his hands along the chest of he fox next to him. "What do I do?"
"We could do what we did before, but it looked like that took a lot out of you. Or…" Sharpeye leaned into Joseph, and kissed him deeply while positioning himself on top of him. "Or we could go another step."
Joseph let a grin creep across his face, and looked at the fox over him. The ship's effect over him had taken hold, and he was receptive to it. He spread his legs, and placed his hands on the sheath of the fox. He massaged the furry sheath gently, and stroked it like he had done for his former captain. "Some other time I'd like to do for you what you've done for me." he said. "But I want you in me. I want to let you watch as I change." Sharpeye smiled, and moaned as Joseph's hands brought his penis bone into a full erection. "Does mine look like that?"
"Oh yes." Sharpeye answered. "and I want you to do this to me sometime too." He shifted his weight so that he was between Joseph's legs, letting his tip touch Joseph's hole. Joseph placed his hands on the fox's cheeks, and kissed him deeply. Sharpeye kissed him back, and pressed his slick feral shaft into Joseph while embraced in a kiss. Joseph started to breathe hard, holding onto Sharpeye's cheeks. He turned his head as his muzzle pushed forward, his nose turning black and turning up to fuse with the muzzle.
They slowly broke their kiss, and Sharpeye looked down on his young lover, and saw his thin muzzle make it's final transformation into an obvious fox form. Joseph's head became smaller, and more rounded as his pointed ears perched into their new position. Joseph's body also began to shrink to a slightly smaller size as Sharpeye's shaft penetrated his hole. Sharpeye began to pant as he began to thrust with a rhythm, feeling the tight body under him make subtle physical transformations.
Joseph began to make soft murring noises as his claws dug into the bed. The feeling of being mounted was nothing like when his old captain did this to him. Sharpeye was gentle, kinder, not to mention he had an inner heat to him that was unmatched by captain Langly. Each thrust filled Joseph with a tingling feeling through his whole body.
With each thrust, Sharpeye felt the feral lust begin to take over. He began to let out yipps and whines as he felt himself give in to pleasures. He looked down and saw Joseph's muzzle fur begin to form a silver gray sheen. He felt his body tingle "You're a fox!" he said between pants. "You're a fox!"
"YES!" Joseph yelped in pleasure! His tail curled up between Sharpeye's legs, Joseph raised his legs to let Sharpeye push in deeper. Sharpeye placed his paws under the hips of the transforming gray fox, and pushed in as far as he could under his now furred tail. Both began to yelp, and let out feral cries of ecstasy. Joseph could feel his fur growing all over his body, filling in to a luxurious coat. He could also sense the smell of Sharpeye, the musky scent of a fox in heat cause his own shaft to extend. Suddenly, his slick shaft was being massaged between his and Sharpeye's belly, and he humped into Sharpeye.
The two of them thrusted into each other, Sharpeye trying as hard as he could to hold back his orgasm. Joseph curled his hind paws, feeling his claws extend in pure pleasure. His muzzle wide open, Joseph felt the wave of orgasm ripple through him. He let out a loud, high pitched series of yipps as he began to orgasm. Sharpeye's shaft was almost crushed when Joseph's body clamped onto him, and without warning Sharpeye came, joining his young lover's yipps and cries as his body pulsed with each orgasmic wave!
Both foxes slid down onto the bed, Sharpeye still inside his young lover. Joseph, still panting, used his paw to caress Sharpeye's black muzzle. Sharpeye rubbed his muzzle against Joseph's gray muzzle. He used his paw to trace along Joseph's dark markings near his eyes. "You're a beautiful fox." he said weakly. "You're very beautiful."
"So are you." Joseph said quietly. "Thank you." Sharpeye licked his young lover on the nose once, and he drifted into sleep.
Sharpeye woke up later. It was dark, and with no idea of the time he put his paw on the other side of the bed. Nothing was there. He opened his eyes weakly, and saw that Joseph wasn't there. He looked around, and saw his closet open, and no gray fox. Sharpeye put on a pair of pants, and went to look for his young lover. He followed the scent onto the top deck.
Joseph was straddling the yardarm on the front of the ship, his legs on either side, his feet on the netting on either side of the yardarm. He was looking forward, the movement of the ship blowing he wind through his fur. Sharpeye walked up behind him softly, and eased himself onto the yardarm behind Joseph. They sat under the blanket of stars silently for a while. Joseph rolled his tail side to side, and Sharpeye snuggled in closer.
"Three nights ago I did this on the Jezzibelle." Joseph said finally. "And I thought of letting myself slip off the side and quietly go in the night."
"Why didn't you?" Sharpeye asked.
"I know how to swim." Joseph said. "I probably wouldn't drown if I went in. And I hoped that soon, the Captain would stop being interested in me and I could get to be a navigators assistant or something." Joseph took a breath of the salty sea air. "And I had this feeling something would happen."
"Did it?" Sharpeye asked.
Joseph leaned back and held Sharpeye's paw. "I think it did."
"Would you like to come back to bed with me, Joseph?" Sharpeye asked.
Joseph nodded. "Yeah, but…" He looked forward again. "I want to move forward. If you call me Joseph the others from the Jezzibelle would always see me as their cabin boy. And I'm guessing I'm going to be here a while. So I want you to call me something else."
Sharpeye nodded. "Anything in mind?"
"I'm your progeny." the gray fox said with a smirk. "You name me."
The next morning brought another opportunity for the Pirates. Captain Langly was working on a plan of escape with his mate. "If we can figure out the gate, we should be able to overpower the guards." he said to his ranking crew members. "Talk to your men, let's see if we can organize it. How's the window plan coming?"
"Not good." said the first mate. "We don't have weapons, and they won't give us knives with our food. We're trying to pry the floor loose too at least to get a…"
The main door opened, and a gray fox walked into the brig. He wore a simple pair of red pants, and a burgundy vest. He looked over the pirates in the brig carefully. "I've been asked to select the next one." he said. "Unless you have a volunteer."
"Are we going to get a different one of you each day?" the first mate asked defiantly. "Yesterday we had a red one of you."
"He's still patting his belly." the fox said. "My name is Silver, if you need to know. I've been told you're not all eating the food we've so nicely provided."
"Forget it!" one of the pirates said. "I refuse to fatten myself up for you!"
"You don't need the help." the fox said indignantly. "In fact, it may do you some good to lose a bit. You have an hour to choose, or we will do it for you." Silver then turned and walked out the door. The pirates looked at each other, knowing the next decision was eminent.
Silver closed the door behind him, and looked at Sharpeye. "They didn't recognize me." he said.
"I didn't expect them to." Sharpeye said. "You're carrying yourself differently now. That's a good thing."
Silver nodded. "So I come back in an hour?"
"Yes." Sharpeye said. "In the meanwhile, let me show you a bit more of the ship. A lot to learn yet."
Silver smiled. "I'm eager to learn it!" And the two foxes walked down the hallway, and up to the main deck.
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Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herin are based on a real person (Save the narrator and one other person...) And similarity to any person alive, dead, undead or unalive is coincidental, totally. However, if you see yourself or someone you know in a character be honored. You've been immortalised.