Exit Strategy

by London Lampy

Chapter 38

The smuggler's clipper is proving elusive and for the past four days we've been sailing around the same patch of sea trying to sight it.

Everyone is bored and there is much grumbling about why we're doing this, until Quint calls the whole crew together on deck and points out it's what the cartel are paying us to do, and therefore if everyone wants to get paid this week we keep going.

It's the afternoon of the fifth day of searching and I'm lying on my bed dozing when Topher comes in to tell me we've finally found it and that the cannons are being made ready. I make my way onto the deck to see that our six cannons have been moved into position around the rails and are being loaded with heavy iron balls.

"It's over there." Topher points to a sleek looking ship about half the size of The Firebrat that's moving rapidly toward us.

"They have no idea we're about to attack do they?" I say, feeling sick.

"No, I don't think they'll fight back, we should be able to sink it quickly then go to Kipp." He replies as the crew members on the cannons stand by to fire.

"Don't you care that everyone on board is almost certainly going to die?"

He shrugs. "They're strangers."

"But we're killing innocent people."

"Hardly, they're smugglers, someone would have caught them sooner or later, it just happened to be us."

The Captain gives the order for the first three cannons to fire, and Topher tells me to cover my ears. The explosions happen almost simultaneously, and I watch as the cannon balls rip into the clipper. The body of the ship is torn in two, the front half sinks fast until only the prow can be seen above the waves, the back half tips up and floats on it's end until we fire another ball into it, then it too disappears beneath the sea.

"Nice and tidy." Tallis says coming and standing beside me watching the last of the wreckage sink through his telescope. "Want to see drumeri?" He offers it to me, but I turn and walk away, going back to my cabin.

I spend an entire watch in the highest part of the rigging avoiding everybody. No one except me seems in the least bit bothered about what we just did, and when my watch is over I only come down because I'm hungry. I take my plate of food back to the cabin and eat alone, until Topher strolls in with a half full bottle of wine.

"Have you stopped sulking yet?" He asks, pouring himself a glass.

"I'm not sulking, that's what you do."

"You're going to have to get used to the fact that sometimes we kill people." He puts his glass down and rummages under the bed, eventually coming out with another one, which he fills and passes to me. The Captain held him to his "punishment" of cleaning out the cabin and getting rid of what he didn't use. He disposed of three odd socks, a book on etiquette, a broken fountain pen and several empty bottles.

"Drink that and for fuck's sake cheer up, you've been a moody monkey for days."

It's not just the sinking of the clipper, ever since I spoke to Vin and Vio I've felt like I'm being torn in two. "Thanks." I say taking it off him and gulping it down. I hand him back the glass and he refills it, then tips the dregs of the bottle into his own. He drops the bottle off the side of his bunk where it rolls across the small strip of floor.

"I think that means you have to kiss me." He gestures to it grinning.

"Why do I have to kiss you?" I ask puzzled.

"You know, if we were playing spin the bottle, it's pointing at me."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Didn't you ever play that when you were a kid? Where you spin the bottle and kiss whoever it points to."

"I grew up in an orphanage run by nuns, we didn't have wine bottles and we were certainly not allowed to kiss one another."

"That doesn't sound like any fun."

"It wasn't supposed to be, we were being raised to be useful members of society, not play kissing games."

"So you never kissed anyone until you left?" He asks, draining his glass.

"Well...no, but I got in a lot of trouble every time I got caught, it didn't help that they always caught me kissing other boys, in the end they made me sleep in the girls dormitory, they thought I'd be less of an inconvenience in there."

He bursts out laughing at this.

"It's not funny, it was really embarrassing."

"It is, it's very funny, we're you less of an inconvenience in there?" He giggles.

"I didn't want to kiss any of the girls so I suppose in that sense it worked, but I just got better at finding places not to get caught in."

"What sort of places?"

"The best one was an attic that nobody ever went in because the hatch was stuck closed. I got in there through a skylight in the roof and managed to open the hatch from the inside. I lost my virginity in there to a boy named Jack."

"That sounds dusty."

"It was, but it was still better than getting caught."

"Fuck, I'm glad I didn't grow up in an orphanage."

I can't help laughing at the thought of the nuns trying to discipline Topher and turn him into a useful member of society, I think even they might give him up as a lost cause.

"What's funny?" He asks looking puzzled.

"You are."

"Does this mean you've finished sulking?" He looks over at me.

"For now."

"Can I have my kiss then?"

I roll off my bed kneel on the floor beside his and lean forward to touch my lips to his. His mouth opens slightly and his tongue moves inside my mouth to touch mine, while his hand threads into the hair at the back of my head and pulls me closer in. We stay like that for a while, but I want more so I pull myself onto his bed while he moves back against the wall to make room for me. Our beds in the cabin aren't big and I move as close to him as I can, winding my leg over his to keep me from falling out. His hand moves between us and starts to unbutton my shirt, stroking his fingers over my chest and stomach as he goes. He finds a nipple and rubs it to hardness, giving me a small spike of pleasure that goes straight to my groin. Reluctantly I move away and stand up, it would be impossible to remove my trousers from the position we're in. I shrug off my shirt then undo my trousers while he does the same. Once he's finished he lies back, puts his hand between his legs and strokes himself, I watch him, admiring his lean smooth body and the movement of his hand over his hardened flesh, licking my lips at the sight of a pearly bead of liquid making it's way slowly down his dark tip. I very much want to touch him so I climb back onto the bed, this time straddling his thighs as he pulls me closer, placing soft kisses and licks along my jaw, neck and ear, then tugging on my ear lobe with his teeth.

I reach down, finding his erection and running my thumb over the head, rubbing the moisture I find there back over the small opening it's leaking out from. His hand seeks my cock out too, and as we start to kiss again I move slightly to the side to give him better access. He wraps his hand around both of us and I add one of my hands also, using the other to keep my balance as we both start to move together.

"Feels so fucking good." He groans as our movements speed up. I dip my head down and bite the junction of his neck and shoulder. "Do that harder." He breaths, so I do, just stopping short of actually breaking the skin.

"Oh, I'm going to come." He manages to get out just before throwing back his head and covering the both of us in his seed. I move my hand away to release his cock, as he continues to jerk me off, the the warm slick lubricant he's added feels wonderful. I change positions, sitting back on my heels as he keeps going. I reach forward and roll one of his nipples between my finger and thumb, and the little gasp he gives brings me to the edge of orgasm. I shout his name as I come over his chest and stomach, my cock twitching in his hand for almost a minute until his dark skin is liberally splashed with white.

I lie forward onto him, my breath still fast and my heart pounding, he nuzzles my hair and kisses my ear.

"We can't sleep like this." He says after a few minutes have passed.

"Mmm, I know, beds too small." I say, wishing we were on the island where we can curl up around each other in a double bed.

"There is that, but it's more that we'd wake up glued together, you made a hell of a mess all over me."

Sometime in the night we arrive at the Kipp docks again and before the sun has even risen Tallis appears in our cabin.

"Good morning drumeri, do you have any plans for our shore leave?" He says cheerfully from the doorway, waking me up.

"It's the middle of the fucking night, go away." Topher mumbles before I say anything.

"Boy, I am not addressing you, and it's dawn, not that you'd know what that looks like." He turns to me. "So, would you like to come with me to meet my friends and their daughter? I know that Quint is busy all day so he won't be taking you into the city this time."

Topher bursts out laughing. "Are you trying to set him up with a girl? Good luck with that."

"Once the sun has risen and I've had some breakfast I'm going to the tailor's shop to see if my suit is ready." I say yawning.

"What suit?" Tallis asks.

"The one the Captain had me measured for last time we were here."

"Then what?" He's just not going to give up.

"I don't know, maybe..."

"I'm going to go with you to the tailor's." Topher announces, interrupting me.

Tallis scowls at him, although as it's pretty dark in the cabin I'm not sure he can see he's being scowled at.

"I'll meet you after that then, shall I?" Tallis suggests.

"All right." I don't really want to, but I don't want to offend him either, we make arrangements and he leaves.

"He wants you to get married and make lots of little monkey babies doesn't he?" Topher giggles.

"Shut up, it's not funny."

The city is just as I remember it from last time, although at least I'm not desperately searching for a telegraph office now. I wander across Angel Square with Topher, the morning sun hasn't turned the place into a steam bath yet and it's almost pleasant, if you can ignore the smell.

"Did you know they eat bugs here?" He says pointing to a stall where a man is stirring a huge pan of what looks like fat white worms.

"Yes, the Captain warned me about that when I came here before."

"Want to try some?" I assume he's joking.


He laughs. "I think I might."

It turns out it's no joke, he actually goes over to the man and buys a small paper cone full, I watch him bite into one with horror.

"Not bad." He announces after chewing for a bit. "Kind of rubbery, but it tastes like chicken." He finishes them then throws the wrapping away.

"I am never kissing you again." I say as we carry on walking.

It takes a bit of searching to find the street with the tailors shop on it, I think I can recall the way, but Topher insists that I'm wrong and that he knows the city much better than me. By the time we do find it an hour has passed and I swear I've walked around at least half of Kipp.

"See, I knew where it was!" He exclaims as we approach the door.

"No you didn't, we only found it because we'd looked everywhere else."

I push open the door and a bell tinkles, the wig wearing tailor I met before steps smoothly out from behind the counter and looks the two of us up and down.

"Hello boys, how can I help you?" He grins, rubbing his hands together. I rather hoped he wouldn't be working today.

"I'm here to pick up a suit, Captain Quint put a deposit down a few weeks ago."

"Oh yes, I remember, not brought him with you today I see. I seem to recall he was a little...possessive before."

"Is it ready?" I ask flatly.

"It is, you just need to try it on." He goes into a room behind the counter and Topher nudges me.

"What did he do to annoy the Captain?" He whispers loudly.

"A bit too free with his hands." I whisper back quietly.

"Oh, one of them." He nods as the tailor comes back.

He passes it too me, brushing my arm as he does so, then directs me to a curtained changing room. By the time I've got it on and come back out I'm rather surprised by the sight of the tailor measuring Topher's inside leg.

"Ah." He says standing up and looking at me with his head cocked. "Very, very nice, let me just check it's hanging right."

He stands behind me and puts his hands on my shoulders. "A little snug here." He sounds puzzled. "Can't imagine I took your measurements wrong."

"It's because he's got bigger from working on the ship." Topher says.

"I see." He slips his hand inside the jacket and feels around, I squirm at his touch.

"Still a bit of room in there, you can bring it back for alterations if you need."

He kneels on the floor beside me and I step back before he can touch me. "The trousers are fine." I say quickly.

"Are you sure, they look like they may be pulling a little around your tail." Topher says, failing to keep the amusement out of his voice.

"Hmm, turn around." The man orders me, and I comply reluctantly. He pats the top of my tail and runs his hand over my ass. "No, everything very much in the right place." I hurry back to the changing room before Topher can suggest the man molest me further.

Once I'm done he folds it carefully, wraps it in tissue paper, then puts in a bag, and I hand him the money Quint gave me for this, then head out of the door as fast as possible.

"You asshole!" I say to Topher once in the street. "I did not want that pervy old man touching me up."

He's laughing so hard he walks into a female visk loaded up with shopping bags, who tuts and complains at her companion about "stupid clumsy humans".

"I'm off to meet Tallis, what are you going to do?" I ask him.

"Come with you, someone needs to protect you from becoming some monkey girl's fiancée before the day is over."

"That's not going to happen, and Tallis will just tell you to piss off."

He shrugs. "He can tell me what he wants, I'm still coming."

I decide to let the two of them fight it out rather than try and dissuade him myself. I said I'd meet Tallis at the bottom of Angel column so we head back that way, this time with me leading.

"Why were you having your inside leg measured?" I ask as we walk.

"Because I thought it would make his day." He grins.

"Eww." I don't know what's worse, that or the bugs.

Tallis is already there when we arrive, he smiles at me then frowns at Topher. "Are you going to take his package back to the ship?" Tallis asks him hopefully.

"I can think of better things to do with his package." Topher replies, and I sincerely hope that Tallis doesn't get the innuendo. "I'm coming with you."

"You are not." He protests.

"Yes, I am."

Maybe I should just go back to the ship and leave them to it.

"You're not invited."

"I'm still coming."

"Tell him." Tallis looks at me.

"I don't mind if he comes with us." When it gets down to sheer stubbornness nobody beats Topher, we could be here arguing all day, and having him around may curtail any matchmaking plans.

Tallis shakes his head and says something in what I can only assume is the echoback language, then sets off across the square leaving us to follow.


For anyone who's interested in the story of how Exit lost his virginity to Jack in the orphanage check out my story "The Boy With the Golden Eyes".

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