>>> 4

Captain Skinner was pacing the floor of his lush quarters with furiously impatient strides when the soft knock came. He bellowed, "Enter, damn it!", flinging his muscular body into a leather armchair, as Mulder silently entered the room, holding a large mug of rum in his hands. He set the mug down on the small teak stand next to the captain's armchair and as silently turned to leave; Skinner's gravel drawl stopped him as his hand touched the door.

"The Irish... is she... ready, Lt. Mulder... ready for me?" Skinner's face was flushed, even before he'd taken a single gulp of the warm rum, and a hungry buzzing deep in his belly owed naught to the need for the alcohol. Mulder, his back to his captain, gripped the doorknob so hard the uneven brass dug into his palm, but his answering affirmation was calm and quiet.

"Yes, Sir. The woman is dressed and has eaten. She sits and stares out the porthole, melancholy to be sure, but her initial fire and spark seem to have subdued a bit. If you've no further need of me, then..." and he opened the door, cursing softly under his breath when his captain's voice stopped him yet again.

"Lt. Mulder... I, ah..." Skinner was hesitant; expressing gratitude did not come easily to a man such as he, and his voice came out rough and harsh as he finally growled, "I thank you... for your service to me... and for your unswerving loyalty these past years. I will meet with the Irish shortly; please assure we'll not be disturbed." With that, he turned back to his mug and took another large gulp.

Mulder's shoulders sagged, just a little; his murmured, "Aye, Sir" was very softly spoken, almost to himself. He shut the door gently behind him, then walked slowly down the narrow galley. Making his way down one set of stairs, he paused at the door of the quarters of the Lady Scully, and raised a hand to knock at the door, then halted the same hand within a inch of making contact with the heavy bolted door.

No, he decided, he'd not warn her, lest the plan fail -- he'd stay close, listening, ready to jump in when necessary... ready to save her when the time warranted. Ready to save his Scully from the clutches of a monster. A handsome monster, to be sure, but a monster just the same.


- - - - - - -


Skinner strode down the below-quarters galley, eagerness in every step which took him closer to the Irish's door. By Hade's nightgown, he'd not felt this randy in ages. But then, he'd not had a woman so delectably lovely as the fair wench his Lieutenant had bought for him in ages, either. Damn, but Mulder had a good eye!

Skinner recalled again the red harem dress, and the expanse of pale creamy flesh revealed by its brevity of shimmering material; the thick, satiny red hair and those huge, flashing blue eyes; the defiance and the innate courage he'd sensed within her, as fiery as her crimson locks. B'God, she'd make a tasty challenge for him. He could feel it, could imagine all that fire and fury pressed under him on the soft feather bed, could almost smell her musky wet warmth, for by the time he'd finished preparing her body for his possession, she'd be wet, and more than ready for his massive staff. She'd be howling with it, before he was through with her. He'd never failed to make his women howl. It was a source of great pride for him, to be so powerfully-equipped as to cause the women he bedded to swoon and scream with the force of his thunderous thrusts. The Irish would know this power, oh, so very soon.

He finally reached her door, and with impatient fingers threw the bolt, flung the heavy door wide, and stepped in, his dark eyes searching the room for her eagerly. He finally spotted her curled into the fat pillows which sat propped against the carved headboard. Eyes closed, lashes fanned on her pink-tinted cheeks, she appeared to be asleep.

Skinner tamped down his raging desire long enough to peruse her shapely form. The gown fit her fair to perfectly, he noticed, accentuating her sweetly abundant bosom and defining the tiny waist and gently swelling hips. Her little feet were tucked underneath the heavy green skirts, and her rounded, pale arms were folded modestly under the ribcage, which rose and fell with each deep breath she took. Skinner hung there, almost not daring to breathe, just drinking her in, as fine and warm as the expensive rum which he'd consumed earlier. His lust flared anew within him, deeper this time; he felt his thick man-root jerk impatiently within the snug confines of his form-fitting breeches. He needed her, now, needed to bury himself within her tight, virginal passage. There was not a minute to waste.

Still nestled within the cushioned veil of sleep, Dana could sense someone over her, hovering nearby. She could smell the hot musk of skin, could feel eyes staring at her, devouring her whole. Was she dreaming? She must be, and what a lovely dream it was! The handsome Lt. Mulder bent over her slumbering form, eyes hot with desire, hands running their slender strength over her smooth shoulders and across her heaving bosom, lips trailing fire against her temple, her cheek, searching for her moist, quivering lips. She opened those lips on a sigh, languidly raising a hand to touch his face, to run her fingers through his tousled, thick hair, to slide her fingers over his smooth, bald pate...

His bald pate?!?!?

Her eyes flew open as her hand encountered not thick, cool hair, but hot, sweaty and very bare skin, in an area which usually contained locks of hair. She found herself gazing into the eyes of the captain, the man who'd bought her, the man who now owned her, body and soul, and who was busy unfastening her gown with large, roughly callused fingers. He breathed through his mouth, gasping with barely-concealed desire, eyes black with the lust boiling up inside his massively-muscled body.

At the feel of those hands roughly disrobing her, Dana came fully awake, gasping in shock and pushing at the hands, at him. She struggled fiercely, but it was like trying to move stone, so strong was this powerfully-built man who spoke not a word, but continued to tug at her clothes.

So intent was he upon discovering the ripe treasure hidden underneath the green velvet of her gown, that he never saw her little foot move, coming up and catching him in the groin, hard. He grunted with the sudden pain, and slid sideways a little, just enough for her to scramble off the bed and run to the other side of the room, where she grasped a serving knife from the tray which held the remains of her earlier meal. Holding the knife in front of her in both hands, she spat furiously, "Do not come near me, Sirrah! Trust my words when I vow I know how to use a knife, and can throw one as well, with deadly aim! 'Tis the one thing my odious brother taught me, and taught me well, before he betrayed me. I have enough anger and resentment built up inside me to make of you quite the pincushion, should you take a step in my direction!"

Her tormentor merely smiled, and made himself more comfortable on her bed, one hand still cradling his aching groin, although the pain was dissipating fast. He regarded her with hot eyes, seeing the way her lovely breasts heaved with each word, each breath she took. He'd no doubt she could carve him up if she got the chance. His initial fervid ardor had been cooled, just a little, by the pain inflicted upon him with that little foot of hers. He could wait her out, for a bit. Just a bit. He grinned again and folded his arms under his head.

"And why, pray tell, should I not come near you, my Lady? I have bought you, after all! I have paid solid coin for you, quite a lot more than I have ever paid for any woman, I assure you! Tell me, my lovely Irish, would you rather have been bought by one of those odious, disgusting creatures standing there at the auction block, drooling at the sight of your young, sweet flesh? I promise you, they'd have used you most foully, for they are without any semblance of humanity, the lot of them!" He smiled anew at the look of repulsion which crossed her face; he knew she was recalling some of the men who'd undoubtedly been present at the auction, for those same men showed up at every auction. He continued his little informative narrative.

"Those men mayhap are rich, but they are diseased, and foul of mind and body, perverse in their appetites. They would have used you in the most heinous ways, and then discarded you as easily as emptying a chamber pot out the window, when they'd used you all up! I, on the other hand..." he stood, and stretched, allowing her widened gaze to view his impressive breadth of shoulder and length of leg, the elegant cut of his breeches, and the power he kept contained within. " ... I am a man in the prime of my life, strong and healthy and virile. I have no diseases, for I assure the protection of my body when I take a woman. I am rich, richer than your wildest imaginings, and I can give you everything you would most covet. And I would require naught but the availability of your lovely body to soothe my fever, whenever I desire -- and I would desire you all the time, of that I am sure! And, as I am wont to remind you, I have purchased that right. But, in deference to your youth and innocence, and as a sign of my innate respect for your many charms, I will play the gentleman and request of you, your permission to take you to bed, and possess you, and make of you my bed-wench. Well, what say you, Miss?"

Throughout his diatribe, Dana had spoken not a word, and had not lowered the knife from its deadly position in front of her, held in both hands. Eyes locked to his, with his every word her gaze unfaltering, she did not reply for a long moment. Finally, she gave a small sigh, face downcast, as if ruminating upon his words. Then her gaze lifted and her blue orbs fastened on his dark ones, and she spoke with definitive strength and purpose.

"Tis true, you are a cleaner sort than the dregs which sought to touch me on that awful block. And you are a man of decent looks, well-dressed and well-spoken, and 'tis obvious you are a man of substantial worth. But, Milord," she cautioned, still holding the knife as protection, when he would have jumped up from the bed and approached her, "Milord, you are still a pirate. You are still a despoiler of innocence, a thief, and a blackguard. You deal in the purchase of human flesh! You plunder and rape, blanketing your crimes in the pretty wrapping of honeyed words. But you rape; never doubt my understanding of that! You rape, and you cause pain, and you give nothing but humiliation to the hapless recipients of your 'attentions'. And Sir, I shall not be a part of it! So, Captain Skinner..." she gripped the knife tightly, and held it pointed outwards, shining in the dim light of the room, "So, I must decline your oh-so-generous offer, and thus inform you that if you come any closer to my person I shall have to kill you."

He gaped at her, at her impossible refusal, unwillingly registering the truth of her ringing resolve. Then he grinned anew, an evil, dark grin, and slowly advanced toward her, arms loose at his side. "Well, then, my lovely Irish, you give me no option, no recourse. I shall have you, willing or unwilling, as it makes naught of a difference to me. You shall scream in pain or ecstasy -- your choice, I warrant -- as I take you, and take you, and fill myself with you even as I fill your delectable little body to overflowing." And thus declaring, he lunged for her as she threw the knife.

It embedded itself high in his shoulder. He howled with the pain, but it didn't stop him from wrestling her to the floor, blood running from the wound and covering them both, as he ripped at her gown with one strong hand, exposing her white breasts and rosy nipples. His mouth fastened upon the trembling little bud, and she cried out as he pulled at it with his teeth. Pinned underneath him, her hands held behind her in one of his large fists, she twisted against him in a cold panic as he pulled and tugged at her heavy skirts; as he uncovered her satiny flesh, inch by inch; her soft calves, and slender flanks. He took hold of her shimmy, tugging at the delicate material, ripping it to tatters. His hand went to the fastening of his breeches, fumbling with the buttons, holding her tightly as he continued to mouth her breasts and free his raging staff. His hand finally pushed its way into his gaping breeches and reached for his root...

...only to find it as limp and as unresponsive as a dead snake. He loosed his mouth from her reddened nipple, looking down at the betrayingly soft flesh with disbelieving eyes...

And the force of the blow which she inflicted upon the side of his head with a crystal candlestick, which had toppled off a low table and within reach of her hand during their skirmish, knocked his head sideways as, with a low moan of pain, his body slid from hers and he sprawled on the floor, out cold.

She stared at him hard, waiting to see if he would move, but he was still. She scrambled away from him, doing her best to stuff her breasts back into the torn bodice of her dress, refusing to give in to the shock. Not yet, she told herself, not until she was safe.

As she dragged herself to her feet, trembling all over, the door opened just a little, and Mulder poked in his head. His eyes were drawn to the sight of his captain, laid out on the floor with one massive hand still wrapped around his limp member, a knife protruding from his bloody shoulder. His gaze swung to Dana, noting the trembling lips and glazed, shocked eyes. He opened his arms, and she hesitated but a moment before flying into them, burying herself deep into his embrace, arms sliding around his slender waist as if they'd always belonged there. He tipped up her chin and forced her gaze to meet his.

"Scully... did he hurt you? Did he..." God, he couldn't even say the words.

She shook her head fiercely. "No, Mulder. He didn't. He couldn't..."

Mulder nodded, and hugged her tightly. "Good. The potion worked its magic in time."

She looked up at him, utterly confused. "Potion...?"

"Shhh. Wait a moment, and I'll explain." Mulder reached up to caress her hair and then gently loosed himself from her embrace. He knelt down next to the prone form of the captain, holding his open palm a few scant inches from his nose and slack mouth, feeling for breath. "At least we'll not have a body to dispose of tonight. He lives, although I'll warrant his wounds will speak to him when he wakes."

Just then, Skinner stirred and groaned, and his eyes blinked open. Scully stepped back in fresh alarm, and Mulder said to her, a little too loudly, "Foul wench! What have you done?" His hazel eyes pleaded with her to forgive his words and to play along. "Tell me now what happened -- tell me, or you'll rue your silence as well as your acts!"

"I have only defended myself!" she cried. Her heart beat wildly behind her ribs, like a frightened bird trapped in a cage; her trembling voice belied the bravery of her words. "I care not what amount of gold was given for me. I'll be owned by no man!" She closed her eyes against the sight as Mulder began to pull the knife out of the captain's shoulder; when she could bear to look she saw that he was holding a folded cloth against the wound to stanch the flow of blood. Skinner had lifted his head and was staring at her in dull, angry fascination.

"This wench," he snarled, glowering, "this strumpet, this trollop, this... this..." He began struggling to sit up, but Mulder pushed him down.

"Lie still," Mulder said, "until the bleeding slows. This must be cleaned, and dressed -- "

"I know what must be done!" Skinner growled. "But I know as well that this whore must learn her place -- and her duties. You will take her away and you will reason with her." He reached up and twisted a handful of Mulder's shirt into his fist. "You will not leave too many bruises. And no man on this ship need know what has come to pass in this cabin tonight." He released Mulder's collar and fell back again.

"As you will," Mulder returned coolly. "Shall I send your man to clean -- "

'I'll do it myself!" the captain barked. " 'Tis a scratch -- and from a mere chit as well. I have had far worse, I'll warrant!" He began to sit up, and Mulder half-lifted him to his feet; he buttoned up his pants and turned toward the cabin door. Although he swayed, he pushed Mulder's supporting hand away. He pulled the door open and, leaning against the frame, leered over his shoulder at Scully. "And as for you..." Without finishing his sentence, he left the cabin, slamming the door behind him.

Scully stood frozen, staring at the closed door, until Mulder turned to her, and she rushed once more into his outstretched arms. She hid her face against his chest; he cradled her in his arms and stroked her hair. "What am I to do?" she cried.

"Shhh," Mulder murmured. "We'll think of something. Tonight, I slipped a powder into his drink before he came to you, and it was this that kept him from... "

Scully lifted her head and gazed, wide-eyed with astonishment, into Mulder's eyes. "So that was the 'potion' you mentioned! Where did you -- ?"

He laid a finger upon her innocently-plumped lips to silence her. "I cannot tell you. The less you know, the better. All you need know is that I will find a way to save you -- I swear it." He lovingly caressed her face. "From the moment I saw you upon the block at that terrible auction, I knew you were different -- knew you were never meant for such a fate as this." And with that, he leaned down and covered her mouth with his own.

His kiss was hot and fervent; his lips plundered the ripe treasure of her mouth. He tasted of rum and spice and the open sea and sunflower seeds (sunflower seeds?) and something else, something spicy and mysterious and dark that was uniquely Fox Mulder. Or maybe it was just that he'd had that same spicy stew for dinner, too...

His tongue probed the honeyed cavern of her daintily-dewed mouth with all the pent-up passion which had been building ever since he had first looked upon her enchanting face and lusted after her luscious, virginal form, a form such as the gods and angels themselves would have fashioned; too perfect for his large, callused hands as they twined themselves into her satin hair and he breathed disjointed words of desire and longing into her shell-like ear as he caressed every exposed inch of silky skin with his full, desire-enflamed lips.

Her whole universe narrowed to the confines of the strong manly arms that held her helpless against his chest. She did not want to give in, but she couldn't save herself; she twined her arms around his neck and clung to him. Her lips opened unto his, permitting his sinfully-sensuous tongue entry into a place where no man's tongue had ever been permitted to venture. The heat of their combined passions kept their bodies molded together as he plunged again and again into her sweet depths, swirling around and over her teeth so lovingly, tasting each one as if a morsel of manna from heaven itself.

In this fashion, they exchanged kiss after kiss, drinking in each other's moisture and essence until they were dizzy and drunk with it, the endless need and desire. Heavy footsteps outside the door made them fling themselves away from each other. Mulder glanced over his shoulder at the sound, and his eyes were anguished when he looked back at her. He stepped back, moved toward the door; he opened it, and shouted for the benefit of anyone listening, "Remember from now on to do as you're told!" He turned and stepped outside. "Let that be a lesson to you!" he roared, slamming the door behind him.

Scully fell back onto the soft cushions of the bed, her mind reeling, overwhelmed. She had never met a man like this Mulder. How unfair life was, that he should come now, now when she was no more than another man's chattel, bought with his gold! And yet -- and yet, Mulder had promised to find a way out of this trap. And she found that she trusted him, and so trusted him to be as good as his word.

She gathered the tattered remnants of her dress around herself and went over to the large trunk full of clothing to select another garment. She held her head high. She was, after all, a Scully. She would not surrender -- she would, somehow, triumph.


>>> 5

Captain Skinner finished tying the makeshift bandage over his shoulder wound, then struggled into a clean linen shirt; it was damned difficult with his aching shoulder, but he was determined to get himself dressed without having to call his valet-man -- or Mulder, for that matter. Fighting to tuck the voluminous material into the tight breeches, he cursed a particularly vivid streak and just left the shirt un-tucked. Unless his fair wench Irish had another weapon hidden somewhere in her chemise (for he did remember tearing her gown into shreds), he would not be wearing his clothing long enough to care about striking a style.

His shoulder twinged anew and he fumed in sudden fury at not only being thwarted in his desire to bed his own possession, but in being wounded by said possession, as well. Hell and Hades' nipples! How long had it been since he'd been wounded, in the bloodiest of battles! He was always the one left standing, after felling his enemies with howling power and strength. Not even Lt. Mulder could remain unscathed, although his fighting prowess was also well-known and admired. Many was the time Skinner would find himself tending to Mulder's wounds, after a skirmish at sea. He would grumble and deride his poor Lieutenant unmercifully during the cleansing process, but his large, callused fingers were always gentle. And he always made sure that Mulder was thoroughly saturated with his best rum before touching the wound. Mulder never felt a thing.

Skinner shook his head derisively, for he assumed a softness of the heart for his Lieutenant, a feeling he would never admit and would carry to the grave. In spite of his bloody ways and gruff exterior, Skinner was grateful for a man's loyalty and devotion, and Mulder had proven his worth over the years. A grim smile upon his face, the captain gave himself a moment to wonder what form of punishment his first mate had delivered to his wayward wench.

At that same moment, in the quarters which housed the captain's "wayward wench," Lady Dana Scully ran trembling fingers over her still-tingling lips as she lay back upon the red silk-covered bed and recalled with shuddering heat the feel of Mulder's firm, full lips as they'd caressed and rubbed themselves all over her soft skin. She remembered the rough, wet tongue which had plundered her mouth and had mated with her own in an erotic dance of want and desire. His hands -- oh, his hands -- ! They had touched her shivering flesh in places never before touched, had molded themselves to her upthrust, pouting breasts and rosy nipples, circling each pretty point, tugging lightly. If they'd been uninterrupted a moment longer, she was certain his wondrously sensuous mouth would have replaced his fingers, and she would have experienced, for the first time in her life, the feel of a man supping at the bounty of her bosom -- rapture, pure rapture! If only... but what was that?

A knock at the door; an urgent whisper. Mulder! He had returned! She flew to the door, hung there in front of it in supplication, waiting.

Slowly, the bolt drew back. Slowly, the heavy door swung open. And there stood Mulder, his hair tousled, his eyes half-lidded with hot desire as he perused her lovely form. He took one firm step and was inside the room, slamming the door tightly as he reached out both eager hands for his lady, and she fair leapt into his embrace and clung to him as he rained rough-tender kisses over her face and shoulders, whispering hoarsely, "Oh, my love, my Scully... my Dana... I could not stay away from you, dearest one. I had to see you, to assure myself you were well, to assure myself you were real, and in my arms, kissing and holding me."

His feverish kisses trailed down the side of her slender neck into the soft skin between her breasts, and his impatient fingers tugged at the lacy neckline of her chemise, baring her white globes and blushing tips to his ardent gaze. She met that gaze proudly, wanting him to worship her body. He groaned at the knowledge that even his eyes upon her could make those delectable buds pout and rise firm against her rounded perfection. He dipped his head, and his lips opened and he gently sipped at one sweet flower. Then his thirst knew no bounds as he seized her willing body tightly into his embrace, and bent her backwards, forcing the ripe fruit upwards, and his parched lips took endless suckle at the fount of her heaving breast. She gasped and moaned with the sweetness which pierced her deeper than an arrow, and her trembling fingers wound themselves through his thick hair and held on for dear life. He bit and licked at her, tiny bites which caused her to shudder even harder. Then they were falling back onto the bed, his mouth still feeding upon her sweet flesh.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash right outside her door, and once again they found themselves springing apart in guilty surprise. Dana tugged at her chemise with fingers so shaky she could barely make them function in time. She managed to pull the chemise in place and fasten the sides of her gaping gown, affording her a little of her lost modesty. Mulder pressed his finger to his mouth, glancing at the door. He was certain it was the captain, coming to finish his unholy task. Luckily the potion was still in effect, and Skinner would not be able to begin anew, much less finish.

Motioning Dana to stay prone upon the bed, Mulder approached the door and wrenched it open, shouting roughly as he did so, "You'll not try to sway me with your honeyed words, my lady whore..." his words reaching the captain's ears as he stood in the doorway, his sharp eyes taking in the scene before him; the room in disarray, the reddened cheeks of his purchase, shaken from the punishment he was certain had been meted out by his lieutenant. Mulder was breathing as if from running, his hand covering a very large arousal showing quite plainly beneath the tight breeches he wore. Skinner noted the bulge; Mulder met his inquiring gaze and spoke with deference and humility in his voice.

"Sir, I beg your forgiveness. In my zealousness to assure the wench learned her lesson in her defiance of you, I am afraid I was... um... aroused unwillingly as I caused her the pain of her punishment."

Skinner's gaze pinned Scully to the bed, searching for bruises.

Mulder hastily added, "Sir, her bruises are in places where your eye could not discern. Not at the moment. I felt it prudent to place her punishment where the rest of the crew could not see them. As a saving grace to you, Sir."

Skinner nodded approvingly; as usual, his lieutenant had shown quite a bit of foresight. He turned and stared once again at the cowering wench on the bed, and brought a hand to his breeches to rub at himself. He was still limp as a wet sea biscuit. God's Buttocks! What in Hades was wrong with him!? He'd not suffered this sort of limpness since planking his first whore at the tender age of eleven.

His fevered brain told him, nay, screamed at him, to take the chit and bury himself deep and sure within her virgin flesh. But his body protested the thought of doing just that. His body was betraying him for no apparent reason. And his men must never know, he thought with something akin to panic. They must never know their captain had ever known a moment of weakness. He thought furiously -- what to do to stimulate his unwilling flesh? There must be something he'd not attempted, some sort of sensual thrill which he'd not sampled.

And then he espied Mulder standing at attention near the door, and that other part of his body, his man-root, also standing at attention within the tight confines of his buff breeches -- and quite an impressive standing it was! His lieutenant was hung like a young bull, all length and thickness, and full-balled. Skinner could just imagine how full they must be, for even covered in the fine wool material of his breeches, the captain could see how heavy they seemed and how they pressed his root into the bulge which stretched him to an impressive size and girth. Skinner suddenly smiled, thinking he knew a way to stir his unwilling flesh into a performance.

He turned to his second-in-command, and ordered, "Lt. Mulder! I want you to tie the chit to the bedposts, and cut her clothes off with my skinning knife. Then you will sit here by the door, and watch as I take this new bed-wench of mine, as I deflower her once and for all!" And so commanding, the captain unbuckled his pistol-belt, and slowly began removing his shirt.

Dana's eyes, grown large with fear and trepidation as she'd listened to his command, became even larger with untamed fear as she observed his disrobing. Surely he didn't mean to...? But, oh God and all his Minions -- he did! He meant to rape and defile her innocence in front of the one, she knew now, she had saved herself for, in front of her one and only love, in front of her beloved Mulder!

What on earth could she do? Her shocked, tear-filled eyes met those of Mulder, finding his equally horrified, shocked beyond measure. She shrank back upon the bed-pillows, trembling violently now, clutching the chemise to herself in such abject fright she doubted she could even live through such agony as this.

She closed her beautiful blue eyes, as Skinner stood, his massively-muscled chest proudly outthrust, his entire body proudly stanced, except for the offendingly limp evidence of his root's determination not to cooperate. Ah, but that would change, and very soon!

He approached the bed, hands reaching for her, intending to rip the clothes from her body. Then, remembering he'd wanted to watch Mulder do this, he turned and picked up his knife from the floor, and held it out to Mulder, commanding, "Take the knife, Lieutenant, and cut her clothes away."

Mulder slowly reached out one numbed hand for the knife, his despairing eyes never leaving Scully's, a wealth of undying love and deep apology shining in his gaze, as his fingers closed about the handle of the knife. He slowly walked toward the bed where his love of a lifetime lay, shivering in fear. He lifted the knife high, watching her tears spill over her pale cheeks and run in rivulets down onto her white bosom. Somehow, he would find a way to thwart the captain yet again, and save them both.

He delicately ran the tip of the knife down the center of her gown, the sharp blade piercing the thick material and splitting it like the skin of a grape. Scully sucked in a horrified gasp, but she was not cut; only the material fell to the sides of her quivering breasts, leaving her chemise sliced as well, but still miraculously in place. Wordlessly, he mouthed the words, "I love you, my dearest Scully," then turned his back on her and advanced to where Skinner sat, near the door, eyes glazed anew with lust and passion as he looked his fill upon the tempting morsel shivering in the bed.

He slowly rose, one hand reaching out for the door latch to help steady his still-shaky frame, opened his mouth to gruffly command Mulder into the chair which he'd just vacated, and suddenly there came to their ears a loud commotion from the deck above. Skinner cursed vehemently under his breath and grated out, "Lt. Mulder! Go above and see what those scurvy sons of whores have gotten themselves up to. Then, when you have secured their obedience, return to this chamber and attend me."

Mulder could do naught but to obey, for refusing would only arouse suspicion. Slowly he moved toward the door, opening it wide, and flinging one last, pleading look at his lady, walked through the opening and shut the door. A bellow from within caused his eyes to snap shut in utter anguish, as Skinner yelled, "Bolt the door, Lieutenant!" His heart breaking within his chest, Mulder slid the bolt home with trembling fingers.


- - - - - - - -


Above deck, a series of fistfights had broken out, and the worst of the fray had gone ugly. By the time Mulder reached them, a swabbie lay dead. Young Morgan, it was, bloody and silent on the wet deck. Mulder paled as he beheld the boy. Darin... his name had been Darin. Just a young boy, barely eleven, he'd begged to be taken on board, at one of their last ports of call. Mulder remembered that day...

"Please, Mr. Mulder, Sir!" the boy had begged, "Please take me with ye! Me mam don't want me, not no more. She ain't cared ta have me here since I was a snot in nappies. Too busy spreading 'er legs for the gents ta care for me, anyhow. Please let me come an' work fer ye..." And Mulder, feeling sorry for the skinny lad, had agreed. He had taken him to the ship and settled him in with the other swabbies. They'd ribbed the poor boy nigh to death at first, but the lad had spunk, and before long they were affectionately cuffing him about the ears as they worked, calling him "Squid" and "Sprout". The lad had blossomed.

Only, Mulder thought sadly, to end broken and bloody upon the deck of a ship which was meant to have been his escape.

"Which of you would be responsible for this? I demand to know his name so I may give him a fair trial before I run him through!"



>>> 6

Lady Dana Scully thought she'd been frightened before now, but that fright was as nothing compared to what she was experiencing, there on that rumpled red silk bed, behind a heavy door bolted from the outside, her gown sliced from her upper body and her equally-cut chemise barely covering her pale bounty. Her wide, terrified gaze locked upon that of the ruthless Captain Skinner, who was now bending over her small frame, grasping at her white shoulders with his huge, rough hands, pulling her up and into his strong and inescapable embrace as he rasped into her hair, "It is time, my lady wench, for you to repay me for my kindness of purchasing you off that block and saving you from the likes of those diseased dregs whom you had every right to fear. But you needn't fear me, my little one. I will not punish you for your earlier... transgression... for I full well understand a lady's hesitancy and worries the first time her field is plowed asunder, I surely do. And your actions have assured me of your lady's status." He pressed his hard mouth to her temple and she shuddered in revulsion, pushing helplessly against the wall of his chest.

"If you accept my lady's status, Captain, if you know this of me, and accept it, then you cannot, cannot commit this heinous act. You must have some shred of decency within you, some scrap which shouts to you of the necessity, nay, the duty you have, to protect the innocent, to revere the delicacy of maidenhood..." her voice trailed off in the wake of the sharp bark of laughter which left his throat; the grimly amused smile he flashed at her, gold tooth sparkling between his full lips.

"Revere the delicacy of maidenhood, my dear? Ho, that be a good one!" He barked out another laugh. Then his eyes narrowed, all amusement suddenly gone from them. He focused that gaze upon her pale yet resolute face, and bit off each word with deliberate politeness. "I am a pirate, milady; a man, a solider and a brigand, but first and foremost, a pirate. It is the first thought I have upon rising in the morn, and the last thought before I close this one good eye as I take to my bed." He tapped the black leather eyepatch mockingly. "A pirate does not concern himself of the 'delicacy of a lady,' and he does not care overmuch of the offense of that same lady's sensibilities. I live to live, milady, and I live to the fullest, knowing I may very well die on the morrow. I live each day to the fullest, which means I eat what I will, drink to excess whenever I wish, and I avail myself of a comely wench as often as possible -- four times a day should suffice, I would warrant -- after all, I am not so young as I used to be..."

And so saying, Skinner buried his face in Scully's exposed, creamy, pale bosom, and began to lick and press at her with eager lips. She cried out at the unwelcome feel of his mouth and his body, struggling anew to free herself even as he pulled and ripped her heavy skirts. She felt herself weakening with the pain of being bent back so harshly, unable to gain any leverage with which to push at his head. He was fastening his hot mouth upon her rosy nipple, a grossly repugnant imitation of that sacred act which she'd shared with Mulder, her love. Tears slid from her drenched eyes as she faced the very real possibility that Mulder would not be able to rescue her again, not this time

Skinner was reaching again for the fastening on his breeches. Oh God. Just as before, she prayed fervently, prayed as she had never prayed before, for a miracle, a last-minute reprieve, anything.

And her prayers surely were answered. For there, between his legs, once again, just as before, Captain Walter Skinner was as limp as a swabbie's mop-head. He wrapped his hand around his uncooperative member, shocked and disbelieving the betrayal of his own body.

Captain Skinner threw back his head and emitted a roar such as the entire ship had never heard. His blazing, accusing eyes suddenly pinned Scully up against the bedpost, as he snarled at her with furious virulence, "Witch! Sorceress! You have unmanned me, yet again! Daughter of Satan! Whore of Hades! I shall have my revenge against you, once and for all. You shall rue this day, milady bitch. I vow, you shall!" And with that last curse spit into her pale, frightened face, his hand wrapped bruisingly about her slender wrist, Skinner dragged Scully from the bed and across the room, where his large, booted foot kicked at the wooden door several times.

The bolt outside snapped; with one last, mighty kick he sent the door crashing open, and he pulled her helplessly protesting body out into the galley, and up to the above deck, through the masses of still-brawling crewmen and right up to the railing of the foredeck, flinging her against the hard tangle of ropes there, as he vowed, "Now, milady, let us see if a witch floats or drowns!"

He grabbed at her with hands as piercing as a predator bird's deadly talons and lifted her up, to throw her onto the roiling, raging seas. Her screams and cries for mercy, and for Mulder, rang throughout the tossing ship:




>>> 7

Mulder raced around the corner to see Scully and the Captain locked in a terrible struggle. She clung desperately to the tangle of ropes at the foot of the mast, clawing frantically at Skinner whenever she could free one hand or the other. He was pulling her away from the mast toward the rail, and he was rapidly gaining the upper hand. The tattered ribbons of Scully's lacy chemise fluttered, incongruously festive, as she strained to free herself.

In that awful first split-second that Mulder watched, frozen, riveted, she bit furiously at the hand Skinner had clamped over her mouth. Skinner howled in rage and pain, and slapped her cheek hard with his bloodied hand.

The shock of it brought Mulder to his senses, and he sprang forward. He thrust himself between the combatants and pushed the Captain back, shouting, "Stop! Stop -- Captain, what are you doing? Unhand her!"

"Unhand her! Unhand her? What, Mulder -- do you think to protect my costly investment?" Skinner roared, red-faced. "I tell you, she is a sorceress. A witch! It was my coin that was paid for her, and damn it, if I wish to see my own property thrown to the sharks, then it shall be so done!"

"I am no sorceress," Scully hissed, "and you are no man! If you were able to do even one of the vile things you proposed to do to me, no doubt you would never consider tossing me into the sea. If you are but half a man, it is through no fault of mine!"

With a wordless roar, Skinner flung Mulder aside and rushed at Scully again, and she shrieked as loudly as she could. Men were starting to come above decks, drawn by the commotion. They began to crowd around, their lanterns casting an unearthly light on the scene. They muttered among themselves, and a few laughed.

Mulder was upon the Captain before he had time to think. He purposefully slammed his fist into Skinner's wounded shoulder, and ducked just in time to miss the wild punch the Captain reflexively threw with his good hand. Scully, loosed now from Skinner's grasp, did not run, but instead rained furious blows upon him with her fists, and Mulder took advantage of Skinner's surprise to get in a few good punches of his own.

"Look at 'er!" went up an approving catcall from the group of watching pirates. "She's a spitfire, she is -- these red'eads, they always are!" Men hooted and clapped in agreement, but the laughter began to die away as they divined the deadly nature of the struggle before them.

Mulder and Skinner were locked in an awful wrestling match. Blood from his earlier injury stained the shoulder of Skinner's shirt; blood trickled from Mulder's nose where Skinner had hit him in an unguarded second. Scully still scrambled along with the two men, getting in such blows as she could, unable to bear the sight of Mulder's bloodied face. They rolled and thrashed their way closer and closer to the ship's rail, and the now-silent crowd of men followed, waiting like vultures to descend on the weaker when he should fall.

All at once Skinner changed his tactic. He snaked a hand out to grasp a fistful of Scully's red hair, and dragged her screaming into the thick of the fray. Mulder leaped for her, but the Captain's well-placed boot at his knee sent him sprawling, and gave Skinner the moment he needed to pin Scully against the rail. He glared triumphantly at Mulder, who'd sprung to his feet, and now stood at bay, panting, his eyes glancing anxiously from Skinner's face to Scully's and back.

"So!" snarled Skinner, "I begin to see, Lieutenant. I think you want this red-headed bitch for yourself, don't you?" He pulled at Scully's hair and her head jerked back. She gritted her teeth at the pain, but her wide blue eyes never left Mulder's face.

"Let her go," Mulder said in a low, cold voice. "Just let her go, and we'll not mention this night, Captain, ever again."

Skinner gave a bark of harsh, incredulous laughter. "And who are you to tell me what to do? I command you. This is my ship, and this -- " with another tug at Scully's hair -- "is my wench, to do with as I will. And I tell you, she was a bad purchase, money ill-spent. She is a witch and a sorceress, and she'll be food for the sharks!"

Scully wriggled furiously against Skinner's grasp. "Do you know why he calls me a sorceress?" she cried, loudly enough for all to hear. "Because he cannot do a man's duty by me, and he thinks I have unmanned him!"

A murmuring had begun in the crowd behind him, and Mulder risked a glance over his shoulder at the faces of the men. "Tis truth!" he shouted. His voice rose. "Twice he has been to her bed and twice he has failed -- and he would blame her, and throw her into the sea!"

A silence fell over the assembled men, and then a cackle arose at the back of the group. "I tell ye, a wench like that would make a man of anyone!" A wave of soft, uneasy laughter went through the crowd.

Mulder turned back to the captain and saw the shock and rage written on his face. "Mulder!" Skinner gasped. "You -- Why, Mulder? Why now?"

"Because I'll not stand by and see her used this way!" he snarled. Someone slipped forward out of the crowd and pressed a sword into his hand, and he raised it slowly. "Let Scully go, Sir, or I shall free her by whatever means you make necessary."

"I trusted you," Skinner said slowly. "Mulder -- this is ... mutiny."

Mulder shrugged. "Call it what you will, but unhand her now. This is the last time I shall ask." He made a small, threatening gesture with the sword. "Sir. Now."

Scully saw Mulder shifting his weight almost imperceptibly on the balls of his feet, and at the same time realized that Skinner's grip on the fistful of her hair had loosened. She chose that instant to duck and to thrust her elbow as hard as she could into his midsection. She heard him grunt in surprised pain and saw Mulder leap forward to take advantage of the moment, and as she dropped to the floor and rolled away she saw the whole crowd of men descending upon Skinner like a pack of wolves scenting defeat in their old leader and going in for the kill.

Scully cringed against the bulkhead, cowering, listening, afraid to look. There was a terrible commotion, shouting and the ringing of swords, and at last a man's desperate scream -- she could not tell whose -- and a distant splash. The men's voices were savage and triumphant.

Suddenly a rough hand seized her arm and pulled her to her feet. She was dragged out into the light, into the center of the circle of wild men, and the man who held her wrist threw her down onto the deck and shouted, "Now, mates -- We'll see if she's indeed a sorceress! I've ten gold doubloons that say she'll not unman me -- Who'll take my bet? I'll prove it now, before you all!"

"And I'll prove myself when you've done!" cried another voice. "Aye, and so shall we all, by turns -- what say you, mates?" added a third. Loud, raucous laughter erupted, and Scully looked around for a means of escape, but the crowd was all around her, and she saw no way out.

The first man stepped forward and reached for his belt buckle, but before he could even begin to open it, Mulder thrust himself through the crowd, and the tip of his rapier flashed out and laid open the man's breeches from hip to knee. Blood welled up from the razor-thin cut along his thigh. A heavy silence fell over the crowd.

Mulder stood over Scully, one tall black boot on either side of her body. His voice was eerily calm; none had ever heard him speak so, and they all stepped back uneasily. "Anyone who lays so much as a finger upon this woman shall indeed be unmanned -- not by sorcery, but by my own sword." His eyes were dark and his countenance grim; blood ran from a cut on his cheekbone and smeared his collar. "This ship is mine now, and so is this woman. Mine. Is that clear to every man here?"

He looked slowly from one man to another, surveying their faces. One by one, each man dropped his eyes when Mulder's gaze searched his face. "Aye, sir," someone murmured, and the rest began to assent. "Aye." "Aye, Captain Mulder." "As you will, sir."

"Good," Mulder said slowly, satisfied. "Now get back to your duties. I'll not have the Piper Maru yawing all over the sea because the jackals who crew her are busy slavering over some poor gel."

The men shuffled away and dispersed. Mulder swung one long leg over Scully and crouched down beside her. He reached out and stroked her cheek with one gentle hand. "Scully," he breathed, "my dear one, my darling. I'm so sorry. Are you --? Will you be all right?"

She sat up slowly and he put his strong arms around her, drawing her close. She laid her head against his chest and began to weep softly; she could, now that it was over, now that he was here, now that her beloved Mulder was safe, and was holding her. He cradled her in his embrace, and rocked her slowly, whispering words of love, and the moon shone down on the two figures on the deck of the ship on the wide, wide sea.



> > > > To Be Continued < < < <


... eventually. 


No, we really mean it.



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