Flint didn’t feel the blistering heat of the sun as it bore into his
back. He didn’t notice the faint breeze that swept across the
plantation, hot and dry, and carrying with it dust from the
freshly-toiled land.He wasn’t even aware of the earth beneath his feet.
He felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, was nothing but
Thomas. In this moment his entire existence was centered on the man that
now stood before him. The ghost –the blessed specter– that had
haunted his nightmares, soothed his dreams, and provided his strength
and determination for the past ten years. His relentless drive had been
fueled by him and him alone. Taking up a life of piracy, tracking down
the Maria Aylene, hunting the Urca gold, starting this accursed war with
England… It had all been done in his name. And now, as if by some
miracle, he was here. Flesh and bone and blood, he was here. He was alive.
Flint could feel the jump in his jaw as he searched vainly for words that didn’t exist. He couldn’t speak; he couldn’t even think beneath the torrent of emotions that flooded through him, dragging him down like an anchor. Instead, all could do was sink into that bittersweet embrace. Not only was it the farewell he had never been granted, but the reunion he thought he would never receive, either in this lifetime or the next. For if there was a god, if there was a heaven and a hell, he was certain they were not fated for the same destination. But now, he was here. They were here, together, and the world be damned if it ever so much as dared to separate them again.
the hard muscle that thickened Thomas’ arms and the rough beard that
scraped against his neck, that embrace rung familiar nonetheless. Thomas
held him close in the same way he had done so many years ago. Like a
gentle lover. Soothing, warm, and with a tenderness that had gone
unmatched by any other. They wrapped around him tightly, calloused hands
cradling the back of his neck as Flint pressed himself impossibly
close. He wanted to sink into him, to curl up into his chest where he
could feel the beat of his heart as if it were his very own. He breathed
in the scent of him, sweat and dirt and sunlight. He heard his soft
words as they were whispered into his ear, felt his breath as it huffed
out against his skin.
Flint clutched at Thomas blindly, hands searching for the comfort of his skin, seeking purchase to better keep him close. With each breath that left him it felt like a gust of wind wracking through his lungs. He couldn’t breath. Not until those hands cupped his cheeks, a thumb stroking over a scabbed wound that would soon scar, and guided their mouths together. The kiss was everything he had ever desired, yet at the same time nothing he had every expected. It was soft and loving. Full of remorse and longing, desperation, anger and heartbreak, as well as overwhelming relief and happiness. It was enough to both bring him to his knees, and breathe the air back into his lungs. More than that, it awakened something deep within himself. Some faded remnants of James McGraw that he had thought perished long ago, shattered beneath the weight of his anger and heartbreak.
While Flint felt the dampness against his cheek, it wasn’t until Thomas wiped it away with the pad of his thumb that he realized he was crying. That these tears were his. But more than that they were Miranda’s as well, evidence of the past ten years they had believed Thomas to be dead, struck down by his own hand. But god, he was here. As he heard the lilt of his voice and felt the touch of his skin, he knew it to be true. That this was real, that it wasn’t a cruel trick or a mirage. That he was alive. And so the tears that were shed were done so freely and without shame. Even as Thomas held him close and massaged the base of his skull, whispering comforting words of “I love you” and “I’m here” in his ear, he cried. And Thomas let him.