Stowaway, 113

Just Because You Know Things Can’t Always Stay the Same Isn’t A Reason to Dread Change

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“Captain, can I talk to you for a second?”

Louis had addressed Natalie, but Pax also looked up, though he was driving the ship, so only a little bit. They were sailing east now, having come around the southern coast of Kyaine. The sea was clear. But it wouldn’t be forever.

Natalie was looking at Louis, who had a rather throbbing erection. That was unusual for him, since Denver was standing beside him. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” Louis promised. He looked a little flushed. “I’d like to ask for some shore leave.”

Natalie looked around. “We’re nowhere near a shore, sailor.”

“I know. But it’s mating season and I’m going to be…hard to be around for a little while,” Louis explained. “And I need to take care of the colony too. I’ll be able to come back sometimes, for a shift once in a while, after a week or two. But mostly I need to be in the mountains.”

“Okay,” said Natalie, glancing at Denver. Pax was also looking at Denver, who wasn’t looking upset. Louis had been visiting the mountains more frequently the last few days anyway. “How long?”

Louis shrugged. “My rut’s starting and it usually lasts two or three weeks. I can’t really be here during that time because I’m going to need to fuck…well, everything that moves, pretty much.”

“I’m also going to need those two or three weeks,” Denver added, which didn’t surprise Pax. “I’ll come back when I can, because Louis is going to be fucking a lot of other dragons. But I want to be there for him.”

Louis’s dick openly twitched and he put an arm and a wing around Denver. “After that, it’s hard to say, because we don’t all rut at the same time. We looked at a calendar and once I figured out what it all said, I think everything should be back to normal by the end of Arlon at the latest.”

“That’s over two months from now,” Natalie said. When Louis nodded, she sighed. “You understand we’ll hopefully be facing off against the Sea King before that?”

“Yes, I understand that.” Louis looked uncomfortable. “I don’t want you to think that this isn’t important to me. That being part of your crew isn’t important to me. That your family isn’t important to me. If it’s not in the next few weeks, I shouldn’t have any trouble coming back for the battle.”

“I know that,” Natalie told him. She reached out and patted his shoulder. “When I started as a sailor, joining a ship meant staying on the ship.”

“Of course it did,” Pax said, feeling weird. “None of you had wings or portals.”

“Exactly. But we do have them now, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go where you’re comfortable when you need to be there. The ship will be here when you get back.”

Louis nodded, relief on his face. “Thank you. I really do appreciate it.”

“And I’ll appreciate you not rocking the ship for the next three weeks,” Natalie teased. “Denver, the ship can miss out on a morale officer for three weeks, but I’d like you to talk to Pax and appoint someone acting quartermaster in your place. I don’t want Pax to do it, he shouldn’t have to do two jobs.”

Pax scowled at her. “Denver does two jobs.”

“Yeah, but one of the jobs is to fuck everyone,” Denver said. “Plus she was being polite and not mentioning all the other stuff you do. We’ll work something out. Jade can do it, I think. Also, not for nothing but Matthias already offered to be acting morale officer while I was gone.”

“He did what?” Pax asked.

Pax, your brother is a big boy and can fuck everyone if he wants to.

Pax sighed, because that was true.

“Keone offered too, but he’s a little new,” Denver went on. “That said, he wouldn’t be your traditional legs-spread morale officer. You guys should fuck him, he’s great. Might give him a few lessons when I get back, if he wants me to, but actually wants me to, you know, not that thing where he’s saying he wants it because he wants us to like him? Anyway. I’m going to go pack some snacks and oil for the trip.”

“And talk to Pax and Jade,” Natalie reminded him. “I’ll see you both in three weeks.”

They both saluted her. “Pax will come visit us,” Denver promised. “We’ll send updates to you via him.”

“I will not be coming to visit you during the period of heightened dragon libido,” Pax lied, because he knew he would be doing that. Nate would bug him if he didn’t, and inevitably someone would point out that he couldn’t write about dragon mating if he didn’t experience it for himself, which was annoyingly true, and after a few days he’d start to worry that Denver had run out of oil or was bored while Louis was fucking all the other dragons.

Look at you, talking yourself into it before I have to, Nate said, patting Pax’s ass. Good boy.

Pax rolled his eyes. “Goodbye, I’ll miss you,” he told Denver and Louis. “And I’ll come speak with you in just a minute about Jade. I think she’s a good choice but we should run over a few of the other options as well.”

“Great. I already told Jade I’m going to ask her to do it, though.”

Of course Denver had, because he had no sense of how a chain of command worked. Just because he was right didn’t mean he should do whatever he wanted. But he was Pax’s best friend, which did give him leeway to do almost whatever he wanted, which was why he was allowed to hug Pax and also grope him before going off to get packed.

Natalie was looking off into the distance a little, so Pax looked at her before focusing back on the helm. “Everything okay?”

She nodded. “Fine. Sometimes I just reflect on the fact that when you and Nate leave to have your own ship, you’re going to take half the crew with you.”

Mom, we’d never do that, Nate said immediately, even though Pax understood what she meant.

“I know. But Denver and Louis will go with you, so will John, Matthias if he’s still here. I wouldn’t be surprised if a dozen others follow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset about it. I just sometimes think about how much you two have put into building this crew.” She smiled. “I literally couldn’t be doing this without you.”

“Of course you could be,” Pax told her. “Just not as well.”

Natalie laughed at that, and she patted Pax’s back. “Go send Denver off and walk Jade through her new assignment. The short version of the walk, please.”

Pax glanced at the sun, which was high in the sky. “I can do that.”

He let go of the helm, but before she could take it, he hugged her. “Pax.”

“We’re not going anywhere for a while, Captain,” Pax promised her.

Yeah, you’re stuck with us for the foreseeable future, at least.

Natalie sighed, and she hugged them both back. “I know. But don’t you dare stay for even one day just to make me feel better.”

“Staying at home because it makes your family happy is a good reason to stay at home,” Pax told her. “We’ll go when everyone is ready. But there’s no point in worrying about it when we’ve got more pressing and important things to worry about right this minute.”

“And yet, I know you’re very capable of worrying about multiple things at once. As am I. Go see our crewmen off.”

Pax nodded. “We’ll be back in a bit.”

“I know.”

Glad that she did, Pax and Nate went off to see to their crew.

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