“Are you having a good time?” He asked, his brow raised curiously.
Jude nodded. He heard what Sebastián asked, but he found himself distracted as he took in all his features under the moonlight. His skin looked soft and dewy where the sheen of water caught the light, and Jude lost himself chasing droplets that ran down his cheeks to gather at his lips.
Sebastián hummed as he swayed forward, setting his hands on Jude’s shoulders to steady himself.
Even with the water’s chill, his hands pressed warmly against Jude’s skin. It made Jude instinctively rise up from the water and lean in, eager to soak up the heat that emanated off his friend’s torso.
Flooded with memories of the last time he and Sebastián were this close, Jude couldn’t tear his eyes away from his glistening lips.
“Perhaps we should continue where we left off the other night,” Sebastián whispered, tearing Jude out of his daydreams. They were close enough now for their knees to knock together, to tangle their legs if they wanted to. Jude lifted his hands from the depths and took ahold of Sebastián’s wrists, giving them a gentle squeeze to keep him anchored close.
After a beat, after it became clear that Jude wasn’t going to take what he so obviously wanted, Sebastián leaned in. His hands gripped his shoulders tightly, pulled him an inch closer, tilted his head and aimed for Jude’s lips. Jude clutched his hands a little tighter, but flinched when he felt the rush of Sebastián’s breath against his skin.
Sebastián froze with their lips a hair apart. He slowly opened his eyes while his hands began to wander away from Jude’s shoulders, trailing all the way up to his jaw.
“Why do you do that?” he whispered, thumb gently stroking Jude’s stubble.
Jude exhaled a shaky breath and leaned back to meet his eye. He hadn’t meant to pause, hadn’t meant to resist, but he couldn’t shake the worries that lingered at the back of his mind.
But he feigned ignorance, just to be sure.
“Do what?” he murmured.
Sebastián’s smile was sad, but kept his hands steady and pulled Jude’s face a little closer. Jude moved freely with it.
“Pull away,” he clarified. “Just like last night; you never returned to me.”
Jude averted his eyes. For a moment he considered spilling the long list of excuses he’d been manufacturing over the course of the day, but it just didn’t feel right anymore.
“I… I think you’re quite incredible,” he whispered, heart already hammering as he watched Sebastián smile at his words. “Part of me wants to stay by your side all night.”
Sebastián exhaled a quiet sigh and tipped his head forward so their foreheads met. “Only part of you…?”
“I just…” Jude squeezed his eyes shut to collect himself. There was no kind way to say it. “I’m aching for physical touch. But that’s all I want, and I feel like… You want something more.”
Sebastián exhaled again, and when Jude opened his eyes, he saw his mouth smiling around the breath.
“I mean… That’s all I want too, you know,” his companion murmured.
A shiver ran down Jude’s spine as those words settled in his ears. “Wh-what?”
Sebastian nodded against his forehead before finally pulling back to properly admire his face. “It’s a lonely, stressful life out here. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to turn to? To drain all that stress away?”
Jude arched into his touch and gasped softly when their torsos collided. He didn’t realise they’d gotten so close until he felt the heat of Sebastián’s skin melting against his own.
“Was that really all you were worried about?” Sebastian grinned, eyes set back on Jude’s mouth. “For strings to be attached?”
Jude’s cheeks burned with heat, a mixture of embarrassment and excitement about what this revelation meant. He didn’t realise how tightly he was gripping Sebastián’s hands until his friend finally let go of his face, only to reposition so one hand clutched the back of his head. The other wandered across his chest, before his palm eventually settled against the flat of Jude’s collarbone.
Sebastián pulled him close again, finally locking their lips with an open mouth. Jude could immediately taste the rich and full-bodied ale they’d been drinking, softened by the earthy hint of tobacco. He pressed his tongue into it to chase the flavours, then snaked his arms around Sebastián’s torso and rocked his hips forward to collide their lower halves.
Relief filled Jude’s chest and oozed out of him with a gentle sigh. The feel of skin pressing against his own made his body grow hot with want, and the tension in his chest slowly began to unwind after hearing all his worries were for nothing. He could finally relax, enjoy himself, and enjoy Sebastián.
Jude dug his fingers into his friend’s skin in an attempt to bring them even closer while one of Sebastián’s legs hooked around Jude’s, pulling their bodies flush. A small sound spilled out his throat when he felt the unmistakable shape of arousal pressed against his thigh, dangerously close to his own– then Sebastián’s hips rolled forward, and Jude’s sigh melted into a growl.
His body felt hot enough to boil the sea around them, but still he wanted more. His grip around Sebastián’s shoulders wasn’t close or tight enough, so he let go for one reluctant moment, only to snake his arms around him to sink his nails into Sebastián’s back.
All too suddenly, Sebastián hissed and his body jerked away from his grip. Jude froze and pulled back from their kiss, hovering his hands away from his friend’s skin.
“It’s fine,” Sebastián whispered, smiling apologetically. “Just be careful.”
Jude frowned and tentatively lay his hands against Sebastián’s shoulder blades. He let out an involuntary gasp at the uneven texture of his skin that was immediately apparent under his fingertips. Eyes wide with concern and curiosity, Jude carefully traced the ridges down his back, feeling the long grooves and rough lines that tore into what should have been soft skin and muscular curves.
“What happened?” Jude asked without thinking.
The Spaniard sighed, his smile saddened as his hands fell away from Jude’s face. “It’s not a particularly entertaining story,” he noted, as he pulled away to turn around.
Jude let out a long, slow exhale when the moonlight coated his back, revealing several overlapping lashes and cuts that ran the length of his spine.
“My God,” he whispered, reaching out to touch one, but realising himself and retracting his hand at the last moment.
“It’s alright,” Sebastián said over his shoulder. “They’re mostly healed. I just need to be gentle with them.”
With his permission, Jude gently laid a palm against his shoulder. Several images flashed through his mind, of Sebastián being cut to ribbons by an opposing swordsman or sinking down into a riptide and caught upon a rocky reef. Perhaps a seasoned sailor would have recognised them instantly, but Jude could only imagine what caused such deep, tender welts.
“The scratch of the cat,” Sebastian explained. “The captain’s favourite whip for those who misbehave.”
Jude froze at the mention of the captain.
He tried to picture it, to place how his firm hand would have gripped the nine tailed whip and struck Sebastián down, but the lingering sensation in his hips warped the image. The crack of a whip echoed in his mind, and a shiver ran down his spine at the thought of pain blooming across his shoulder blades while the captain panted with exertion from above.
He squeezed his eyes shut and drew his hands back to himself. It was not the time for such thoughts.
Sebastián hummed and turned back around, his hands immediately returning to their place on Jude’s shoulders. “Did I ruin the mood?” he asked, smirking as he swam up to close the lingering gaps between them.
“Not at all,” Jude quickly shook his head, only partially lying. It wasn’t Sebastián’s wounds that derailed him, but the sudden flood of guilt he felt for thinking about another. “But… Perhaps we should head in. We’ll catch a deathly cold like this.”
Sebastián chuckled and nodded, but stole a final kiss before making any moves to head towards shore.
Jude hung back to catch his breath and centre himself while Sebastián waded up to the beach. With his friend’s back turned, he dunked his head into the water one last time, hoping the water would help to cool his boiling face and carry some of his guilt away with it.
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