Re: Paradise

Averin stares at her blankly and then mutters under his breath. "Ask a stupid question..." Zaahira seemed to handle every situation she was in with one of two emotions, anger or lust. From what he'd seen she would translate any other emotion she felt into one of those two as quickly as possible. Still, he was kind of amused by all of this so he says with a mixture of smugness and understanding in his voice. "Yes you did, when we were making promises yesterday. You might recall it since you brought it up this morning."

"And well I wouldn't be opposed to fucking each other boneless, the last time we tried that things got awkward. I'd rather not have a repeat of that and I think for me to be sure there won't be one I need to know why it happened in the first place. Hence the nice dinner with clothes on so we can get to know each other and build trust. Does that make sense?" While he says that he pops hefts the wine and pours her a glass then one for himself.

It may start to become apparent to Zaahira that her sudden violent reaction had a more profound effect on Averin than he'd was letting on. He was just as adroit if not more so at masking his emotions, the difference was he never seemed to let those emotions rule him. So while he seemed calm and composed the reality was she'd shaken him and this was him trying to reassert control over himself.
word count: 266

Re: Paradise

Zaahira looked like he'd just told her that the Queen was not only unable to be salvaged, but had been dragged out to sea by a kraken and ripped to pieces, before being sucked into a maelstrom. She reached out unthinkingly and took the glass of wine in hand, bringing it to her lips, where she promptly drank down the whole thing without even blinking or really tasting it. Then she set it down and took a deep breath through her nose, before exhaling just as slowly.

"So are you telling me you won't fuck me till I tell you why I got so angry?"

That was just cruel! Her lips pressed together, and some of her shell-shocked fear began to fade, gradually being replaced by a white-hot anger. So, extortion, huh? That was his racket? She carefully let go of the wineglass as she felt her grip trying to tighten on it. The last thing she needed right now was to be picking shards of crystal out of her hand.

Especially if she was going to slap him with it, an idea that was rapidly gaining appeal.
word count: 192

Re: Paradise

Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say. That was easy enough to see since Zaahira wore her heart on her sleeve and her anger on her face. "What I am saying." He says slowly. "Is how the hell am I supposed to not do something wrong, if I don't even know what I did wrong? You demand rough sex, you challenge me to pin you and have my way with you. Then when I do it apparently I do it in the wrong way. What the hell am I supposed to do with that Zaahira? Let you pin me down? Not my bloody style and I am not going... risk doing that to you again until I know exactly what I am supposed to not be doing."

Averin looks at her expression unreadable. How was pinning her beneath him while she was on her belly any different from when she was on her back? Just because he'd folded her in half didn't mean she couldn't have hit him or wriggled out of it. He really didn't know why it was a big deal and he didn't want another session of sex to end with her storming out like he'd sunk her bloody ship.
word count: 211

Re: Paradise

It wasn't easy for Zaahira to keep her emotions off her face, but she managed. After several long moments, her features became a carefully blank mask as she shifted in her chair, crossing her legs and draping one arm over the back of the chair; the other moved to rest her hand on the table, fingertips tapping a slow pattern on the tabletop. The eyes on him were dark with fury, but her voice was deceptively calm.

"I feel I should point out again that I did not challenge you to hold me down and take away any control I had. I dared you to get me beneath you, which you could've accomplished without doing.. what you did."

Her facade nearly cracked, but she mustered it back to full strength and slammed it into place once more as she tried to force the calm she displayed to sink inward. The hand dangling over the chair's back flexed and curled slowly, as though she were trying to work out her anxiety, but the tense set of her shoulders made it clear that wasn't working. At all. Finally, she began to speak, her tone nearly apathetic in an attempt to keep away the emotions attached to the memories she was relating.

"I didn't always used to be this way. Believe it or not, I used to be a carefree, happy girl, with no temper to speak of. I was even called sweet on more than one occasion. Hard to imagine, no? That all ended when I was fourteen. The Queen pulled into Lisbon, and I went ashore with Mother and Father while they went to meet with a merchant. It was then that I met Roque. He was the merchant's son, and I had never seen a boy so beautiful. He was eighteen, and he seemed so dashing and handsome. It was easy for him to woo me with soft smiles, sweet words, and tender promises of love.

"He said he wanted to marry me, and I believed the bastardo. One night after dazzling me with a fabulous party, he took me back to his home, and I went willingly to his bed. That son of a whore took my innocence, in more ways than one. He drugged me, and took me out to a little house in the country, and there he kept me for three weeks. He started out simply enough -- holding me down, which was easy to do, given I was so much smaller than him. Then it progressed. He seemed to take great joy in choking me just until the verge of losing consciousness. But then I started to fight back.

"That's when the horror really began. He began to tie me down, and then he would beat me, and fuck me with any object he could get his hands on. When he was feeling charitable, he'd make me come again and again, until I was so sensitive it hurt -- and then he'd just keep going until all I could do was scream and weep. I was unable to move for two whole weeks. When Father and the crew of the Queen found me, and killed that fucker, I was on the verge of death. It took me months to recover physically, and it was years until I bedded another man. I swore that I would never let anyone have control over me ever again."

Emotion thickened her accent, and building anger sharpened her tone, until she was nearly spitting the words. Then she shoved back from the table and stood all in one fluid motion, before turning to move toward the windows at the back of the cabin. Crossing her arms defensively, she stared out at the moonlit waters of the Caribbean. Her body quivered with a combination of rage and the force of those memories -- it was almost as though she could feel every blow, every thrust from rough wood or jagged metal invading her body, every disgusting circle of his tongue or fingers.

"Are you happy now? You know my shame. Just get it over with and I'll be on my way."

Bitterness laced through her voice, while sorrow lay buried deep beneath it. It was inevitable, in her eyes, that Averin would be disgusted by her now. He wouldn't want her. He would only be able to look at her with pity and revulsion. That was why she hadn't wanted to tell him.
word count: 751

Re: Paradise

Averin digests everything Zaahira just shared with him slowly. It was a story he'd wished he'd not heard for it makes his chest clench painfully and his heart seeth with anger. He was not a decent man, not a moral man, but he did think of himself in his own way as being a good man. He'd done terrible things to people who probably didn't deserve it but he'd always had a good reason or it was such a small harm he knew it wasn't that terrible in the long run. What had been done to Zaahira, when she was barely more than a fucking girl, was horrendous. Something he'd never do, much less consider.

However, that didn't really excuse her behaviour.

That such a thing would leave deep scars was understandable. That it would to this day be hard for her to talk about and make her act irrationally at times was also understandable. But she'd been a bloody ship's captain. She should have a better hold of herself than she did even with that nightmare on her mind. Or maybe he was being unreasonable, maybe not everyone could follow the three Cs he held himself to. Maybe he was being unkind since she'd done such a good job of shaking that sacred foundation he'd built his entire life on. Coming up next to her he leans against the wall and looks out the window.

"My parents were Scottish, from the highlands. For reasons no one understood my father Mad Alexander An'Arach got it into his head that he would be a sailor. He'd never seen the ocean in his life but shortly after getting married he left the farm he grew up on to join the British navy. He'd spend six months on duty six months off while his young wife tended the farm or some of it. They sold the fields to their neighbours and she tended a small garden, some chickens, and some goats. The money he sent her along with that was enough to keep us fed. I was five when she came down with a sickness, it took her quickly I never learned exactly what it was. She'd been dead two days by the time one of our neighbours came to check on us. They found me curled up next to her on the bed, half starved nearly dead myself. I don't want to explain exactly what happened but I still have nightmares about it on occasion."

"My father picked me up a few months later and decided to take me aboard the ship. I'd gone mute at that point unwilling to talk at all but he slowly coaxed me out of my silence by teaching me how to sail. His death didn't hit me as hard as my mother's it happened when I was six, he was swept overboard and drowned. He seemed distant and sad when he learned his wife died, maybe he jumped. I don't know, I didn't get a chance to know him well enough to say. I do remember blaming myself though since I was hiding below deck instead of out there helping him. Never mind that it was a terrible storm and I was six"

"I was adopted by the crew of the ship after that and I managed to go ten years without any major tragedy. The good men of the HMS Intrepid taught me how to be a sailor and how to fight, her Captain taught me how to read, write, and do my sums. They all planned to have me groomed and ready to go to the officer's school when I came of age. They were good honest men and they were like a family to me. I got to watch them die. They wouldn't let me join the fray when we were attacked, insisted that I wasn't a part of his Majesties Navy yet so I shouldn't risk my life. The crew of The Salt O' The Sea found me below deck hiding in the brig. Captain Smythe told them I was a stowaway so the pirates wouldn't kill me and I was too scared to argue. The pirates thought I'd like to see my captors bleed so I watched as they were executed. For a second time, my entire family died."

"After that, I spent four years as crewmen on The Salt O' The Sea. They taught me how to cheat at cards, how to pull a con, how to cheat at a fight. Just like the crew of The Intrepid, the crew liked me and I made friends with most of them. After four years I had their trust which made firing the whole ship after locking most below deck and slitting the throats of the rest a lot easier. Men I knew and liked, men I'd fought and bleed with, men I considered my friends, some who hadn't even been involved in the scuttling of The Intrepid I saw them all die for what they did. A third family dead this time by hand."

"Of course you know what happened to my wife so I won't cover that again. I will say that I have a firm belief that my love and affection is a curse and any who I consider friend or family will eventually die. Now you know my shame, Zaahira Martell. Now let me ask you a question, what difference does it make to you?" Averin had delivered the entire speech in cold dispassionate tones never moving his eyes from the window. Only at the last did he turn to stare her down eyes filled with challenge.
word count: 970

Re: Paradise

Zaahira stiffened as she felt Averin approach, and she very nearly stepped away from him. She couldn't stand to be touched right now, not when she felt the phantom contact of twenty-three days of abuse, and she was afraid he was going to try and touch her. Thankfully, she didn't, which eased a tiny fraction of her tension. While he related her tale, her gaze remained fixed out the windows, but she could see him in her peripheral vision. She hadn't realized he'd had it so rough. His parents, dead. His first crew, dead. His second crew, dead.. at his own hand. His wife, lost to the sea. It was tragic, indeed.

Not until he asked that question did she finally stir, her dark eyes swinging over to rest on his face, before her head turned and the rest of her body slowly followed. Her brow furrowed slightly, lips curving into a small frown. She didn't understand why he asked the question, and it was easy to hear in her voice.

"You have no shame. You avenged those who had been yours. It was right to do. And why would I think differently of you for knowing that bad luck follows you like a dark cloud? We're much the same in that respect, it seems."
word count: 222

Re: Paradise

"No shame? My mother fell sick and I could do nothing to save her. My father was swept overboard while I cowered. I watched my crew die in silence rather than face death myself. I betrayed men who trusted me in the cold blooded pursuit of vengeance. My own wife was lost to me while I was powerless to stop it. Would you tell me there is no shame in these acts? That I was just a boy when my father and mother died? That I would have just gotten myself killed if I'd stepped up when my crew was being killed? That I was right to take revenge on cut throats and thieves? That I could no more fight against the sea than god in the heavens when it took my wife? Would you tell me all that Zaahira?" Averin says this all in a soft voice, not demanding but simply curious as to what she had to say. He was also very clearly leading up to something and Zaahira may have an inkling of just what.
word count: 179

Re: Paradise

If he expected her to understand the unspoken, he was expecting too much. Zaahira was able to discern deceptions and lies, but picking up on subtext was a foreign skill to her, at least when it came to situations like this. Whatever he was getting at, she was oblivious. And by the time he finished speaking, she just looked more confused.

"Of course. Children are helpless. And your own life must come first -- how else can you keep those that are yours if you are dead? Murderous scum must be dealt with accordingly. And the forces of nature can't be controlled, so railing against them is pointless."

She ticked off those mental points, but still couldn't come to a conclusion about what he was trying to say. Now she was just getting frustrated. What was he trying to accomplish? She frowned and turned so that she could lean her hip against the windowsill, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Why are you asking me all this? I've already said there's no shame in what you've done, or what happened to you. If you have a point, get to it."
word count: 193

Re: Paradise

"If that is how you feel then I say the same to you. You were a child when your innocence was stolen, you were helpless, and there is no shame in what happened to you. That is my point, I just didn't think you would believe me unless I made you say it yourself. How you feel about my tale is the same way I feel about yours." With that Averin just shrugs his shoulders as if to say what can you do. "Now can we get back to dinner?"
word count: 91

Re: Paradise

Zaahira blinked. That.. was his point? He saw no shame in what that bastard had done to her? She didn't know how to respond to that, and she seemed slightly blindsided. Then she shifted, leaning away from the window so she could fix him with a firm look.

"As long as we have an understanding about.. incidents.. like that night. If you wish to exert your control, or what have you, there will need to be some rules in place. Fair enough?"

Uncomfortable with showing any such vulnerability, and not wanting to see his reaction when he responded, she turned away and moved back toward the table. Before sitting down, she refilled her glass of wine and took a sizable sip, then settled into the chair with a relaxed demeanor that belied the turmoil she felt within. She hadn't told anyone about Roque. Ever. Of the three men that had chosen to stay with her, Themba was the only one who knew, and that was because he'd been one of those to rescue her. He'd been with her since she was in the womb.

Loyalty like that was hard to come by, and Averin was, at the core of things, a pirate. She was having a hard time convincing herself that he wasn't going to use this information against her one day, somehow.. or that he wasn't going to decide she was weak and toss her aside. That thought made her expression tighten, and she forced herself to set the wineglass down again before she hurled it at a wall.
word count: 266

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