Oh aar and avast me hearties. It be the day the whole world do speak as we pirates do, and Saucy Ms Cochrane – the scourge of the River Test – has been pillaging an old story or two, rigging it up jury-mast wise into summat new in honour of the day. Here it be:
“It was a dark and stormy night. Admiral Coppersmith walked his deck with calm authority, reassuring his men and instilling a confidence that had waned in them as the clouds lowered. Suddenly—”
“Suddenly the pirates came. I know. They always do.” Orlando sounded distinctly displeased at the thought. “As a story, this lacks originality.”
“But you like it.” Jonty sighed in exasperation. “It’s always amused you. Especially when we get to the bit where Admiral Coppersmith falls upon the pirates, kills several with his bare hands, saves the life of his handsome flag lieutenant—that’s me, in case you’ve forgotten—then takes the pirate ship in to Valparaiso as a prize.”
“Yes, I do enjoy that part.”
“Then there’s the episode where you get made Lord Coppersmith for your services to keeping the seas free of pirate scum. That always makes you happy.”
“It does.” Still Orlando sounded grumpy.
“And what about the bit where the Admiral and his incredibly handsome flag lieutenant get to spend some well earned leave together? Don’t you get excited when they finally hmphphm?” Jonty prised his lover’s hand from over his mouth. “Don’t we like to hear that part anymore?”
“Of course I do. It’s just that…”
“My feet are freezing. I can’t concentrate on anything, they’re so cold.”
“Oh, that’s what it is.” Jonty chuckled. “I thought somebody had left a block of ice in the bed. Put them on mine.”
“I tried that, when you were reading your book by the lamp’s light. It didn’t help. That book must be good, though, because you didn’t notice.”
“I did, actually, but I hoped they’d go away. Which they did.” Jonty fumbled under the covers. “Your hands are perishing, too. What have you been up to?”
“Sitting in the study, planning how to torture the dunderheads. I hadn’t realised how low the fire had burned. While you idled your time away on reading by the parlour hearth.” Orlando’s voice, grumpier by the minute, had descended into a hiss.
“I did not idle my time away. I had to prepare something for Dr. Peters, and if he sees fit to trust me with the most delicate of tasks, one that require diplomacy and a light touch, then who am I to argue?” Jonty rubbed his lover’s hands then made an investigation of other parts. “This remarkably prominent object is cold, as well.”
“Leave my nose alone! I wish I could warm that on you, too.”
“Feel free. I do admire your proboscis. In fact, all your extremities are worthy of praise. Especially this one.”
“Oh. Oh.” Orlando’s voice descended through several tones.
“This one isn’t cold. In fact I’d say it was positively glowing with warmth. Blooming. Flourishing. Throb—hmphphm.”
When Orlando broke from the kiss he’d used to shut Jonty up, he murmured, “Do be quiet. Or none of my extremities will be making contact with any of yours.”
“That would be the best way of warming you, certainly. Friction. I seem to remember being taught about it somewhere. ‘The resistance encountered by an object moving relative to another object with which it is in contact.’ Doesn’t sound as good as it feels.” Jonty proved his words with an appropriate scientific demonstration.
“Oh yes. Quite right.” Orlando’s voice was now hoarse to the point of breaking. “And I’ll add some learning of my own. ‘Cold hands, warm heart’. That’s what my godmother used to say.”
“She was right. Your heart is warmer than any other part of you. And only I get to experience it.”
Jonty sighed happily, then let friction to get to work.