Fandom: King Kong
Rating: R for sex, drinking and swearing
Word Count: 7,914
Summary: “Yeah,” Jack says and he starts to shuffle off before Englehorn calls over his shoulder “See you tonight,” and Jack has the feeling that this is an invitation.
Disclaimer: none of this belongs to me and I am making no profit off of this whatsoever.
and it's a grainy picture, but there is a figure in the centre
but the face has been obscured and blurred
there's no one there, yet there is someone
- orphans & vandals, mysterious skin
you rise up and say goodbye to no one
fools rush in where angels fear to tread
- bob dylan, jokerman
but when i crawl into your arms
everything comes tumbling down
- nick cave, ship song
and i am a writer, writer of fictions
i am the heart that you call home
and i've written pages upon pages
trying to rid you from my bones
- the decemberists, the engine driver
It starts with a kiss, and isn’t that frighteningly simple?
It starts with a kiss, and isn’t that how most love stories start?
But, wait – this is not a love story.
It starts with a kiss and Jack’s not really sure whose fault that is.
Englehorn had come down to his cabin (the cabin that had once been Lumpy’s, not that either of them were about to mention that) to return one of Jack’s books that Jimmy had nicked from him and was too embarrassed to return himself.
(Really, it’s probably Jimmy’s fault, to be honest. There needs to be someone to blame here.)
(Or someone to thank, Jack isn’t really sure which.)
Jack had stood up to retrieve it and maybe it was because he was a little drunk or maybe because Jack’s sea legs weren’t very good (not like Ann’s, but Jack tries not to think about her too much) but the ship had lurched just a little and he fell forward into Englehorn’s arms and Jack had never really noticed how strong his arms were but suddenly those strong arms were around him and he’s never felt more at home.
“You are drunk,” Englehorn observed with a light laugh.
Jack nodded. “Yeah, I am a bit drunk,” he admitted.
The arms were still around his waist, a rough hand sprawled on the small of his back.
“Does my drunkenness bother you, Captain?” Jack asked the whiskey and the arms wrapped around him making him feel braver.
“Just as long as you don’t engage in any stupid, drunken activities aboard my ship,” was the gruff answer, his voice tinged with amusement.
“Like what?” Jack asked. His head leaned forward to rest on Englehorn’s shoulder and God, he was well-built. Strong and firm, not at all delicate like Ann or any of the other women Jack had been with. They were too soft, too easily broken and this hardness, this hardness was much more appealing.
You’re drunk, Jack, he told himself as he idly fingered the sleeve of Englehorn’s coat.
Englehorn didn’t answer, just sort of held Jack closer to him and Jack inhaled deeply through his nose, smelling cigarettes and warm leather and salty sweat. Englehorn’s hand was still spread on the small of his back, holding him firmly in place.
Then everything happens in slow motion:
One of Jack’s long, bony hands rested along the curve of Englehorn’s jaw and the other lay on his shoulder and their mouths pressed together. It was a very chaste kiss with just lips and no tongues or teeth or spit, but it was still a kiss and Jack felt his body hum and buzz as he stroked his thumb along the stubble on Englehorn’s cheek.
It was Englehorn that broke away first, regarding Jack with something akin to admiration with a glimmer of mirth in his eye (and, God, his eyes were so blue, Jack could only compare them to lapis lazuli). “You are very drunk,” he murmured, smiling a little.
“’m not that drunk,” Jack had mumbled, his head falling forward.
“You are slurring your speech and cannot stand upright on your own,” Englehorn said, smile widening. He helped guide Jack back to bed, laying him down. “So, yes, you are quite drunk. Go to sleep, Mister Driscoll,” he whispered.
And Jack had gone to sleep, dreaming of broad shoulders and hard chests and callused hands.
That was two days after the Venture departed from Skull Island.
That was how the story started.
The next day, Jack sleeps until noon and awakes with a throbbing headache. He drinks his own weight in water and spent most of the day lying about in bed and trying to think of a new plot for his next stage play, but all he can think about are Englehorn’s lips on his own and that hand on the small of his back, keeping him upright (and he also imagines that hand in other places, doing wicked things to hardening parts covered with sensitive skin).
So he goes upstairs to the captain’s quarters to talk to him about… whatever it was that happened last night.
Preston sometimes has a nasty habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He wouldn’t call himself plagued by bad luck because he really has had his share of good fortune (such as surviving Skull Island, when sometimes he thinks he shouldn’t have). It’s just that he’s also had his share of bad things happen to him (again, Skull Island, and various other mishaps, some of which resulted in bruising, bleeding and broken bones; mishaps with equipment on set, walking places where he shouldn’t have been, et cetera. More often, they just ended in embarrassment).
So when Carl sends him to find Jack to ask him a question about how to write the script for the new Kong display, Preston scours the cabins for the writer to no avail and decides to check the bridge. Maybe Englehorn has seen him. It can’t hurt, right?
Then he sees the door is open and he hears voices and realizes that maybe this could hurt. He doesn’t want to interrupt, so he just stays out of eye-and-earshot right outside the door.
“You are not drunk tonight.” It’s Englehorn (of course it’s Englehorn).
“I’m not.” That sounds like Jack.
“Why were you drunk last night?”
Preston finds this odd – the captain isn’t known for his manners and despite the attempted lack of emotion in his voice, there is a slight edge of concern – or is that curiosity?
He hears Jack sigh. “I went down to see Ann. She was with the… Kong.”
A bark of harsh laughter. “So your lady left you for an ape?”
Despite the captain’s callous words, Jack chuckles. “Yeah, it’s a bit… I don’t think many men can say that.”
“No, Mister Driscoll, I doubt many men can say that their women left them for a primate. You are the first, I think. And hopefully the last.”
“Jack. You can call me Jack.” Jack stutters a bit when he says this, trying for a confident tone and ending up sounding like a shy schoolchild attempting bravery.
“All right, Jack,” Englehorn says a smile in his voice (a kind smile, not an ironic one). “So, why did you come to see me?”
Preston chooses this moment to peer around and look at them. Jack is sitting on the desk, legs spread a little with his hands hanging limp between them, sort of hunched over, peering at Englehorn with wide green eyes. Englehorn himself is leaning a little against the wheel, looking amused.
“I just… You know, last night…” Jack says. “When we…”
“Yes?” Englehorn asks lightly, arching an eyebrow, eyes glittering with mirth.
Preston ducks back outside, heart thumping. Part of him knows that he’s intruding on something very intimate and another part – a bigger part – wanted desperately to know what was going on.
“What did it mean?”
Englehorn chuckles. “Well, you were drunk.”
“Yes, I know.” Jack sounds impatient, annoyed. “But still. Did you, you know…”
“Did I what? You’ll have to be more specific, Mister Driscoll, my English is not very good.” Englehorn is teasing him now and Preston can hear the smirk in his voice.
Preston hears footsteps and a gasp of breath and he peers around the corner, around the doorframe again and Jack and Englehorn are kissing, Jack’s hands on either side of Englehorn’s face and one of Englehorn’s hands is buried in Jack’s hair and the other is resting on the small of his back.
He hears Jack murmur something (Preston hears the word “drunk”) and Englehorn chuckles. “No, you are not. Let’s take this somewhere more private, yeah?” and before Jack can answer, they’re maneuvering toward the door to the captain’s quarters.
Preston skitters away before he can intrude further, feeling as though he’s just stumbled upon something he wasn’t meant to see.
“Have you done this before?” Englehorn breathes in Jack’s ear as he gently pushes him back on his bunk.
“What, kissed a man?” Jack asks with a quirked eyebrow, fingers working the buttons of Englehorn’s shirt. He has too many buttons and he can hardly concentrate, especially when Englehorn rocks their hips together and Jesus Christ, why does this shirt have so many buttons?
The captain chuckles, easily pushing Jack’s shirt off his shoulder. “No, Mister Driscoll – ”
“Jack,” he corrects breathlessly, biting back a moan as Englehorn began to slide a hand inside his pants.
“No, Jack, I mean have you been with a man before?” The callused hand grips him firmly and there is a sharp intake of breath.
Jack raises his eyebrows, arching up to meet the captain’s hand. “Have you?”
Englehorn just smiles a little. “Maybe,” is all he says as he unbuttons Jack’s trousers. Taking him in his hand, he strokes him roughly and kisses him deeply before telling him gently, “On your hands and knees now, Jack,” and Jack obliges quickly. Englehorn chuckles. “You’re an eager one, aren’t you?” he teases.
And Jack is about to answer something (that he hopes is) witty when he suddenly feels a cold, oil-slicked finger pushing into him and his head falls forward between his arms, moaning shamelessly. Englehorn chuckles again. “You like that,” he says and it’s more a statement than a question. He slowly pushes in another finger, working them in and out, probing inside him gently, and Jack bites back another moan.
“Ready for more?” Englehorn asks and he’s gently stroking Jack’s backbone.
Jack just nods and lets out a soft whine when Englehorn withdraws his fingers. Again, Englehorn lets out a light laugh. “Relax, Jack,” he whispers against one of the notches of the writer’s spine. “I am not going anywhere.” He presses a (strangely gentle) kiss against him before Jack hears him reach for something behind them and, oh, God, he’s so hard that he’s dripping on the covers, so hard that it almost hurts, so hard that he could almost come right now, sprawled on all fours and dripping everywhere with his eyes screwed shut and then he feels something press against his opening and Englehorn is hard and wide and he slides in slowly, slowly, inch by achingly deliberate inch and Jack breathes, “it’s too big, it’s not going to fit” and Englehorn strokes his back again.
“Hush,” he says gently, kissing the back of Jack’s neck, draping himself over Jack’s back and reaching around to find Jack’s cock. “It’ll fit. I promise.”
They stay like that for a few moments, Englehorn draped over Jack’s back with his hand between the writer’s legs gently stroking him and Jack adjusting to the new sensations. Finally, the captain murmurs in his hair, tone tender and teasing, “Do I have your permission to move?” and Jack nods.
Englehorn starts out slowly, moving with slow, gentle strokes and Jack worries his lower lip between his teeth, groaning. “Harder,” Jack grits out and Englehorn chuckles, moving faster and deeper and Jack hisses, pushing himself back to meet the thrusts. The hand around his cock tightens and he lets out a whimper, his fingers gripping the blankets so fiercely that he’s afraid they’ll tear.
“God, you’re hard,” Englehorn whispers in his ear. “You’re so close. Do you like this, Mister Driscoll?”
And Jack doesn’t even correct him because he can feel his orgasm building and his thighs tremble, small white stars appearing behind his eyelids and he comes in eager squirts all over Englehorn’s fist, moaning lowly and Englehorn comes with a quiet hiss when he feels Jack clench and pulse around him. Exhausted, he feels Jack fall onto his stomach, knees finally giving out and he collapses on top of Jack and the writer can feel the captain’s frantic heartbeat against his back as Englehorn weaves his fingers through his hair absently.
“That was your first time,” Englehorn says quietly.
Jack just nods against his chest.
“You will be sore tomorrow.”
“That’s all right,” is Jack’s sleepy response. “I mean, I’ve been sort of sore since the island, so it’s all right.”
Englehorn smiles a little, laying gentle kisses along the back of Jack’s neck. “You might be sore for a few days, even.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Just warning you,” Englehorn says, closing his eyes.
Jack is quiet for a moment before saying, “I’m staying the night, by the way.”
Englehorn snorts and rolls onto his side and gathers the writer up in his arms. “I have a feeling that was more a statement instead of a request,” he says.
Jack just smiles sleepily and drifts off, curled comfortably in the captain’s strong arms.
The next morning, Jack wakes at dawn. Englehorn is already gone and Jack dresses slowly and Englehorn did not lie – he is stiff and sore and when he goes to the bridge, he is walking with bowlegged with a slight limp.
Englehorn just tips his hat at him and winks, taking a long drag on his cigarette. When he notices Jack’s limp, he chuckles a bit. “You might want to go lie down.”
“Yeah,” Jack says and he starts to shuffle off before Englehorn calls over his shoulder “See you tonight,” and Jack has the feeling that this is an invitation.
Later that day, Jack passes Carl on the deck and their exchange is curt and distantly polite.
Carl does not ask why Jack is limping.
After the rest of the ship is in bed, Jack steals up to the bridge. Englehorn’s hands are on him instantly, cupping his face and kissing him deeply, stubble scratching Jack’s cheeks and Jack kisses him back desperately, pressing himself against the captain, moaning a little.
The skipper laughs when he feels something press against his hip. “Ah, someone is eager,” he murmurs, reaching down to feel Jack through his trousers. “Didn’t get enough last night?”
Jack just groans in response and Englehorn guides him to his quarters, pushing him down none-too-gracefully on the bed (Jack winces – he’s still sore). Standing over him, he slides a hand inside Jack’s trousers and strokes him roughly before pulling down his pants and nudges his legs apart, staring between his thighs openly.
He kneels down and looks up at Jack who is watching him intently; eyes slightly glazed and mouth agape. “Tell me, Jack, have you ever had your cock sucked?” he asks, his gruff voice husky as he looks at Jack’s cock, which is red and heavy and glistening at the tip. He leans in and presses a kiss to the flushed tip (Jack breathes, pushing the captain’s hat off his head, tangling his fingers in Englehorn’s blonde hair, hips arching) before taking just the head in his mouth, sucking on it lazily for a few moments.
“You want more?” he asks, pulling away and grinning when Jack just moans.
Englehorn takes Jack’s hand and wraps his lips around his index finger, sucking slowly and he watches the way Jack’s cock twitches. Smiling, he sucks in another finger and then a third and Jack reaches down with his other hand and begins to stroke himself, moaning shamelessly.
“Ah, ah, ah,” Englehorn says, batting his hand away (even though, really, Englehorn will definitely file that memory away – white fingers wrapped around a hard, flushed cock between slim, pale thighs, whimpers escaping thin lips, green eyes closed in pleasure, a face glowing red – he’ll remember that particular image for a long, long time). “Not yet.”
Jack groans, frustrated, and bites out, “Will you get on with it?”
Gripping the base of Jack’s length (and oh, the moan that Jack emitted went straight to his own groin), Englehorn smirks and slowly swallows him. Their eyes lock and they stare at each other for what seems like hours until the captain hollows out his cheeks and Jack’s head falls back. Bobbing his head, Englehorn licks slowly over the tip before pulling away, lapping at him lazily and swallowing him again, feeling him touch the back of his throat.
“God, oh, God,” Jack breathes, arching up and he’s coming hard, choked moans slipping past his lips and Englehorn swallows and pulls away long enough to lick him clean before sitting back on his heels, raising his eyebrows at Jack as he wipes the corners of his mouth, a sly smile forming.
“What, was that honestly the first time someone’s sucked your cock?” he asks, genuinely curious because Jack is a handsome man (with a very beautiful cock, not like he’ll say that out loud) and he must have had his fair share of women, right?
The writer blushes. “I mean, I – ”
“Not even girls who want to get cast in your plays?”
Jack just looks down as he pulls on his trousers.
Englehorn sits down next to him, wrapping his arms around him and guiding him down to the bed, pressing his front to Jack’s back.
“You’re hard,” Jack observes, feeling the captain’s own length against his hip.
“It’ll go away,” Englehorn murmurs. “Just sleep.”
Jack rolls over so they’re facing each other and slides his hand inside Englehorn’s trousers, stroking him. He presses their lips together. “Do you like this?” he asks innocently.
Englehorn just chuckles, breath hitching. “Yes, Jack. I love that.”
Wrapping his hand around Englehorn’s length and caressing him firmly, Jack smiles against the other man’s neck as Englehorn’s hips arch and he moans, eyes squeezing shut. Jack changes his pace, letting his fingertips barely graze the sensitive skin and Englehorn hisses, laughing, “Oh, you tease” at him. After a moment, Jack lets go of him altogether and rolls so he’s positioned between Englehorn’s thighs and pulls down his trousers.
He smirks when he looks between the captain’s thighs. “You’re close,” is all he says before leaning down and taking just the tip of him in his mouth and Englehorn shudders and comes with a grunt down Jack’s throat and Jack swallows (he chokes a bit, remember: he’s new to this) before lapping the captain clean. After wiping his mouth, he fastens Englehorn’s trousers and slides back up.
Englehorn’s arms settle around him and he chuckles against the back of Jack’s neck. “You are a fast learner.”
Jack starts a new stage play the next day.
It’s about a handsome young captain who has wonderful adventures.
It’s witty and fun and realistic, full of excitement and danger and adventures.
The love interest is a slender brunette named Josephine and she is a painter and she occasionally needs to be rescued, but so does the captain. She is not your typical damsel-in-distress.
(On his notes, her original name is Jacqueline and she’s a writer, but Jack thinks that’s a mite too close to home).
Of course, he will never publish this; it is too personal and plus, Englehorn doesn’t seem like the type who likes stage plays, anyway.
Or declarations of love, but, remember: this is not a love story.
“You should have been an actor,” Jack says.
Englehorn chuckles before shuddering a little when Jack takes his length in his mouth, sucking him tenderly. “Why?” he asks.
Jack moves down to kiss the insides of the captain’s thighs, his nail grazing the tip of his length. “Because you’ve got that sort of… rugged manly quality to you,” he says, nipping the inside of his thigh. “You’d be great in the pictures. Much better than people like Bruce Baxter.”
There’s a bottle of whiskey on the table next to the bed and Englehorn takes a swig, one hand burying itself in Jack’s dark hair. “I am not that manly,” he murmurs. “And I couldn’t take direction, especially from fuckers like Carl Denham. That is why I’m a captain.”
Jack takes Englehorn’s length in his mouth again, sucking on him gently and Englehorn arches up into his mouth, the soft caress like fire on his skin. “God, Jack,” he breathes but Jack just grins.
“Not all directors are like Carl,” he reminds Englehorn, tonguing him lightly. “I’d pay to see your pictures,” he adds, pulling away long enough to say this before his head goes back down. He sucks for a few more moments before saying, “And I’d get a seat in the back. And whenever you’d appear onscreen, I’d touch myself. I’d see how long I could last. Probably not long,” he admits. “Sometimes I get hard just by looking at you. God, I’d probably come in my pants before the second act.”
Englehorn lets out a soft groan and comes at that, the image of Jack touching himself in a darkened theatre (his face contorted in pleasure, trying to keep his desire quiet) is too much and he feels Jack smile around his length as he swallows before sitting up.
Jack crawls back up and nuzzles Englehorn’s neck, lacing their fingers together.
“Sometimes, Captain,” Jack says, “I think you are too easy.”
They will arrive in New York in three weeks.
The blonde captain rescues the beautiful Josephine from her stuffy, oppressing world of good first impressions and polite society. He teaches her fun things, like card games and how to drink and, yes, the ways of love.
It will be laden with innuendo and euphemisms and stage winks and the ladies in the audience will blush and giggle and fan themselves at the idea of two men in love.
1. Josephine is a girl – Jack keeps forgetting.
2. This is not a love story, something that I think we all keep forgetting.
Anyway, the bravehandsomenoblewordly captain will teach the beautifulnaïveinnocenttalented young girl how to drink and play poker and make love.
This play will be risqué and clever and witty.
Oscar Wilde would be proud, he thinks.
That is, if Jack ever publishes it.
(This is private.)
Despite the fact that Jack now spends every night in Englehorn’s cabin, his thin body wrapped securely in strong arms, fingers tangled, he still feels hopelessly out of place on this ship.
He rarely leaves his cabin, divides his time between writing his stage play for Ann who he hasn’t seen since the day they left the island and writing his… whatever it is that he’s writing to understand his feelings for the captain.
This is the thing:
Jack’s pretty sure he’s not in love with Englehorn, but he’ll do pretty much whatever the German asks of him.
One night after Jack finds him, Englehorn lays him down on the bed, spreading Jack’s long legs and says, “I want you to touch yourself. I want you to put your fingers in yourself.”
And Jack obliges without a second thought.
Soon, he is stark naked, sprawled on the bed, two of his thin fingers pushed deep inside himself, the other hand wrapped around his length, moaning shamelessly, eyes closed and trying to imagine the fingers as shorter and thicker and the hand as rougher. Thoughts of rough hands and stubble along the insides of his thighs and gentle coaxes in a softly-accented voice make him whimper and push himself back onto his fingers.
He is dimly aware of the shuddering moan on the other side of the cabin and he sees that Englehorn’s hand is covered in his own come and that sight alone is enough to make Jack buck his hips and topple over the edge with a soft hiss.
A moment later, he feels the rough hand on the inside of his thigh and the Captain is standing over him, smiling a little. Two spots of color are high on his cheeks and his lapis lazuli eyes are bright, bright, bright.
“Good show, Mister Driscoll,” he says with a grin. “Now, move up a bit, yeah?”
And Jack obliges without a second thought.
The bravebeautifulblonde captain has secrets.
Josephine strives to figure them out.
So does Jack.
No. Too personal, he thinks, and crosses that out.
“What’s your first name?”
Englehorn glances up at Jack, brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. “What?” he asks.
The thing is, Jack and Englehorn don’t always have sex – just most of the time. On the nights that they don’t, Englehorn teaches Jack card games (Jack has a fondness for gin, so they mostly play that) and Englehorn teaches Jack how to read maps (Jack is a fast learner, he finds out soon enough) and Englehorn teaches Jack how to drink (Jack is not as good at drinking as he is at cards and map reading, to Englehorn’s endless amusement.)
“I said ‘what’s your first name?’” Jack repeats slowly.
“I heard you the first time,” Englehorn snaps, taking a long drag off his cigarette. “I’m just taken aback at your question.”
Jack merely raises his eyebrows and examines his hand of cards.
“So. What is it?”
Jack just gives him a pointed look.
“Why do you care?” Englehorn’s voice is soft.
“I dunno,” Jack says. He lays a card in the discard pile, feeling his heart sink to his stomach a little, like maybe this was a mistake. “I just do.” He keeps his tone light.
Englehorn leans over the table and takes Jack’s face in his rough hands, kissing him. “Let’s forget about names, yeah?” he breathes. He smells of whiskey and cigarettes and Jack can’t help but kiss him back deeply.
Jack passes Ann on his way to his cabin. She is coming up from the cages (of course she is) and she does not make eye contact.
And Jack wants to speak to her, wants to know if she still has feelings for him (wants to know if he still has feelings for her, not that he’ll voice that out loud), so he turns. For a writer, sometimes he is lousy with the spoken word and his voice catches in his throat. Finally, he manages to croak out, “Ann” in a small, pathetic voice.
She doesn’t turn to look at him, just keeps on walking.
She closes the door behind her with a quiet click.
And maybe, just maybe, Jack can see this as closure.
“How’s your stage play going?” Carl asks one day.
“I beg your pardon?”
Carl leans against the doorframe of Jack’s cabin, looking at the writer hunched over his typewriter and arches an eyebrow. “Your stage play,” he repeats. “The comedy for Ann.”
Jack just shrugs. “It’s going fine.” His voice is low and his tone is clipped. “Why?”
“Well, it’s just that you two haven’t really been on speaking terms – ”
“Yeah, and whose fault is that?” Jack demands and suddenly he’s angry, because Carl is standing there all blasé like none of this was his fault. “If you hadn’t insisted on taking us to that fucking island, none of this would have happened. If you’d have just been honest – if you hadn’t insisted upon capturing the ape and just letting it stay in its natural habitat – ”
“Oh, habitat schmabitat, Jack, go make up with her,” Carl says with a wave of his hand. “You’re a good-looking, well-educated guy. Women like that.”
Jack chuckles darkly. “Not that woman,” he mutters. Then he clears his throat. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. I’m not going to go chasing after a woman that obviously doesn’t feel the same way for me as I do for her.” He doesn’t mention that he doesn’t love Ann anymore – he feels a lingering fondness and respect, maybe even admiration, for her and her bravery but he does not love her.
Sometimes he wishes he does.
Then maybe everything would be less complicated and he could just write this fucking play like he promised Ann.
The thing about Jack Driscoll is, is that he is always true to his word. He told Ann that he’d write her a stage play and he will finish it.
“You’re not very quiet, you know.” Carl is still talking and Jack jerks his head up to look at him.
Carl shrugs, a slow smile forming on his face. “You’re not very quiet. You and Englehorn. You’re not very quiet.”
Jack keeps his face neutral. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he says, but his tone is stiff.
“I think you do, Jack,” Carl says, smile widening. “I am sure you do.”
This is how Carl finds out about Jack and the captain:
Carl sometimes can’t sleep when he has too many ideas in his head and right now, he is plagued with thoughts of Kong, Kong, Kong. How is he going to present him in the way that makes the biggest bang, how can he make the most money, how will he honor those that died, et cetera.
So Carl can’t sleep so Carl wanders around the ship, thinking and trying to clear his head at the same time.
He reaches the bridge.
And that’s when he hears it:
Low moans and soft cries flow from the captain’s quarters. He hears quiet gasps and rough grunts and Carl is a curious man – that’s part of what makes him a great director, his natural curiosity, and that’s why he looks.
He sees Jack and Englehorn.
He sees Englehorn and Jack.
He sees Jack and Englehorn, Englehorn and Jack and he freezes.
Jack is sprawled naked on his back on the captain’s bunk, legs spread and his knees draped over Englehorn’s shoulders.
And Englehorn is equally naked (not even wearing his hat), kneeling between Jack’s thighs, back straight, holding him steady as he thrusts in and out of him slowly and deeply.
From where he’s standing, Carl can’t see the expression on Jack’s face, but he can see Englehorn’s eyes are closed and his lower lip is tucked between his teeth, completely lost in the moment.
A small part of Jack’s brain tells him to get the hell out, but there’s another part, a curious part, that wants to watch, wants to observe.
Suddenly, Jack gasps loudly and arches up, moaning and choking and shuddering, panting for air and a few moments later, he sees Englehorn’s face twist and body tighten and Jack hears him grunt. He stays still for a few moments before his eyes open and he looks down at Jack and Carl can only describe his expression as tender.
He smoothes Jack’s hair away from his eyes before settling down next to the writer, stroking his arm and smiling at him.
Carl hears Jack murmur something and Englehorn chuckles, and Carl suddenly realizes that he’s just seen something that he shouldn’t have, something that he wishes he hadn’t seen and he runs away as quickly as he can, Englehorn’s chuckles and Jack’s murmurs following him back to his cabin.
Jack blinks when he hears Carl’s story. “Huh,” he says, nodding. “That’s a pretty great story, Carl.” He chuckles dryly. “Maybe you should have been the writer, not me.”
Carl just slowly shakes his head. “It’s not just a story, Jack.” Then: “How long?”
“Does it matter?” Jack asks as he continues tapping away at his typewriter.
“You know, I was going to make you the hero in my Kong display. I was going to say that you were the one that saved Ann.”
Jack snorts and glances up. “So, you were going to tell the truth for the first time in your life?” he asks. “How does that feel? Your first taste of honesty.”
Carl continues, unbothered. “But not now. I can’t.” He doesn’t look disgusted – he just looks confused. Stunned, even, like he’s seeing Jack in a new light for the first time.
And Jack sighs. “See, the thing is, Carl, I don’t care if you make me the hero or not. I’m not a hero. I’m a writer. I’m just a man who was trying to save the woman he loved. Make Bruce Baxter the hero, see if I care. I think he’d enjoy the extra publicity.” He goes back to typing. “I don’t care,” he repeats. “Now, please leave.”
Carl leaves, muttering under his breath.
Jack frets a little.
He doesn’t know how Josephine and her unnamed captain love’s story is going to end.
They will arrive in New York in eight days.
Englehorn kisses a trail from Jack’s mouth down his chest, abdomen, lingers on his left him before nuzzling between his legs. Jack moans and arches a little. “I think I like you best like this,” Englehorn murmurs to the inside of Jack’s thigh, pressing a kiss there. “I like you best all spread out with your cock so hard and heavy, waiting for me.”
Jack just lets out a whining sound, threading his fingers in the captain’s hair.
“You are so beautiful,” Englehorn says before taking Jack in his mouth, his rough hands resting on Jack’s thighs and Jack thinks this is all he’ll ever need.
He (finally) finishes his stage play for Ann. It is a witty, yet horribly, horribly predictable and boring romantic comedy. He is not sure if he likes it.
He decides to revise it in New York.
“What’s your first name?” Jack whispers in the darkness, his fingers laced with Englehorn’s.
He feels the skipper sigh against the back of his neck. “Why do you care?” he murmurs, his breath hot against Jack’s skin. “Just go to sleep.”
“I care because… I care. I can’t help it.” He strokes Englehorn’s palm with his thumb.
“Is ‘Englehorn’ not enough?” he mumbles, voice thick with sleep.
Jack just shrugs.
“Later,” Englehorn says. “I will tell you later.”
That’s the thing: Englehorn always promises to tell him later.
Jack isn’t so sure he believes him anymore.
They will reach New York in six days.
With five days and four nights until New York, Englehorn starts to push Jack away. He becomes distantly polite and “hmm”s neutrally when Jack tries to talk. He acts like he did when they first met – uninterested, coolly cordial.
“You should go to bed now, Mister Driscoll,” he says quietly when Jack tries to take his hand. He pulls away as though he’s been burned and turns his back, pouring over another map. “It is late, and I have enough on my plate without having to worry about you accidentally falling overboard.”
And Jack? Jack pretends like it doesn’t hurt.
Eventually, he just stops going up to the bridge all together.
He secludes himself in his cabin and finishes up the tale of Josephine.
Josephine’s heart is broken and Josephine’s nameless lover pushes her away and Josephine is lost and confused and lonely and…
And Jack tears up this script and shoves it in his bag.
Jack is not a confrontational man, so he does nothing but mope around in his cabin. He does not ask the captain why he’s pushing him away and he’s not really sure he cares. He know for a fact that he can’t face him, though.
Jack is a strong man, but he is weakened by heartbreak.
(He is just tired. He is just so tired and he can’t wait until he’s back in his cozy apartment in his bed so he can just sleep and sleep and sleep until he’s dead.)
They land in New York.
Jack puts his feet on the deck and leaves his heart on the ship.
Or maybe his heart is on Skull Island where Ann stopped loving him or maybe his heart is in theatre, he doesn’t know any more.
He passes Englehorn on his way off the ship. He opens his mouth to say something (he’s not sure what he wants to say, but he’s pretty sure “I love you” or “why are you pushing me away?” or “please come to New York with me” are in the top five) but Englehorn cuts him off.
“Good luck with your script, Mister Driscoll,” and tips his hat.
And Jack closes his mouth, lowers his eyes and makes his way off the ship.
After a week in New York, Jack begins a whole new stage play.
This play has confusion and comedy and plot twists and it’s hailed as being witty, innovative, like nothing anyone has ever seen before.
It is a play about lost love.
It is a play about lost love, but it is not a love story.
Remember: this is not a love story.
So, the play is about someone who can’t tell someone else that he loves them, even though he does.
Or, if not love, he just wants to be with them.
But the man is a coward and can’t tell the person how he feels.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Because it sounds rather familiar to us.
Jack hears about the play, hears it’s a success and invites Jack out to dinner.
“So, who’s it about?” Carl asks Jack, leaning forward across the table, dark eyes glittering conspiratorially.
“Ann,” Jack says, and takes a drink of wine.
“Really?” Carl does not sound convinced.
“Really.” Jack says. “The lead actress is blonde, isn’t she?”
Carl snorts and cuts into his steak, cutting the fat off with his knife, movements deft and precise. “You know, Ann was a great girl, Jack. Is. Ann is a great girl.”
Jack smirks, green eyes heavy-lidded. “Yeah, I know, Carl,” he answers, taking a bite of his chicken. “She was one of a kind.”
But Jack? Jack not really listening to Carl right now... His mind is far, far away, on a tramp steamer and Carl notices.
“You know, Englehorn’s blonde, too,” he says.
And Jack laughs heartily at that.
Let’s talk about Jack and Ann for a moment.
It’s not that Jack hates Ann – quite the contrary. He still likes her. He wants to make sure that she’s all right, wants to see her again, wants to apologize for helping her (inadvertently) betray Kong. He still feels bad about that.
And, yeah, in a way the stage play is for her, because there is a friendship between a man and the leading actress in it, a deep friendship that withstands all misunderstandings.
Jack feels obligated to tell her how sorry, how truly, deeply sorry he is and he wants to say that if he could go back in time and do things differently, he would. He would tell her that he wants to be her friend and maybe collaborator – he’s more than willing to write more plays for her, because he really does like her.
He really does like her but as a friend.
Not as a lover.
Because the person he loves as a lover… no, he’s gone, that ship has sailed (literally) and, remember:
This is not a love story.
So, because he feels like he owes Ann, that’s why he feels obligated to protect her.
Kong’s stampede through the city is a blur of screaming and blood and black fur.
Jack is in a taxi in the backseat, Jack is in a taxi in the driver’s seat, the taxi is spinning wildly, the taxi is being thrown, Jack is sprinting through the streets, Jack is searching frantically for the woman he once loved and Jack is on top of the Empire State Building, holding Ann’s small, sobbing form in his arms (somewhere in there, Ann appears, looking radiant in her white dress with her gold curls).
He remembers most vividly holding Ann, breathing in the scent of her blonde hair, just breathing and he could love this woman, love this waif of a thing with her soft curves and slow smiles and bright eyes.
He should love her, and why wouldn’t he? She’s a beautiful, talented, kind woman with a big heart who might love him back.
He should love her, because that’s what the hero of a story does – he falls in love with the heroine.
He should love her because it’s the safest choice and a viable option and everyone will be jealous and they could have beautiful, talented children who love the theatre and write comedies and tragedies and everything in between and because Englehorn is probably in China now and, no, Jack, don’t think about him, whatever you do, don’t think of him.
So Jack holds Ann on top of the Empire State Building and feels her tears soak through his shirt and it is a long, long time before they climb back down.
He has dinner with Ann three days later. She looks tired, face drawn and free of any kind of makeup. She looks thinner.
He clears his throat, elbow knocking his wine glass, almost tipping it over. He clears his throat, says, “Ann…”
She cuts him off. “Please, Jack… Don’t. Don’t apologize. I know…” She sighs, scrubs a hand over her pale face. “I know that it’s not your fault. And I’m sorry if it seemed like I blamed you.” A half-smile quirks at the corner of her lips. “I mean, I sort of did at first. But then… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been hard on you.”
Jack smiles at her and reaches out to touch her hand.
Ann smiles back, squeezing his fingers.
A few days later, he has a quick lunch with Carl again.
Carl talks about the Kong display and a new project and if Jack will please write the script and Jack mostly tunes him out and picks at his food.
And then Carl says: “You know, Jack, I didn’t really care if you and Englehorn were… Or are…?”
“Were,” Jack says softly. “Past tense. We’re not. We never really were, to be honest.”
“Yeah, well, I never really cared. I was just surprised. So. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I reacted so… violently.” He holds out his hand to Jack to shake.
Jack’s thin lips curve a little and he shakes Carl’s hand.
“You know, there’s this one actor that I’ve worked with before, I don’t know if you met him, his name is Tom, I think you two should meet, he’s – ”
“Please don’t play matchmaker, Carl,” Jack groans, but there is a smile in his voice.
And now, now Jack finally has closure.
There is one loose end.
Four weeks after his lunch with Carl, Jack is in his apartment, hunched over a cup of coffee and his typewriter. His tie is loosened, two buttons of his shirt undone, the sleeves neatly rolled up when he hears a knock on the door.
He answers it.
“I, uh, got your address from Mister Denham,” Englehorn says in lieu of a greeting. His hat is in his hands and he is still wearing his old leather jacket. If he were a different man, Jack would say he looks nervous.
And Jack raises an eyebrow. “Huh,” he says.
Englehorn looks around and, yes, he’s definitely nervous. He clears his throat again. “Abelard,” he says.
Jack blinks. “Pardon?”
“Abelard. My first name is Abelard.” Englehorn rocks back on his heels. “Now. May I come in?”
A slow smile forms on Jack’s face. “Yes, you may, Abelard,” he says, putting emphasis on the name and steps aside to let Englehorn in.
It is something like closure.
Or maybe it is a beginning.