dorinda: a tall ship with all sails set (sailing ship)
While Yuletide was in full swing, I also signed up to contribute to the holiday season Advent Calendar in the [community profile] perfect_duet Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin community. I was nervous about it, but I figured I'd be done with my Yuletide story by then and my writing engines would hopefully still be revving.

And luckily, that's how it turned out! So right after finishing my Yuletide Jack/Stephen, I was able to turn to another Jack/Stephen, this time more specifically drawn from the books:

Salt Water Unbounded (2770 words) by Dorinda
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Aubrey-Maturin Series - Patrick O'Brian
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin
Characters: Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin
Additional Tags: Age of Sail, Hurt/Comfort, Swimming, Trust, Aftermath of Torture

In the aftermath of the torture at Mahon, with Stephen injured and Jack kept at a distance, how can they both recover?

It's set during the third novel, HMS Surprise, between chapters 4 and 5. After my first full read-through of the books, I was visiting friends, and kept talking to them about how amazing that part of the book was. Stephen is rescued from terrible torture in chapter 4, and then there's a time gap, and in chapter 5 we see that he is much better and now goes swimming with Jack. We get some mentions in hindsight of what the recovery period was like, but we don't get to see it happening.

And I was fascinated, because we are both shown and directly told that Stephen hates to be helped, and yet it was during this very vulnerable time while he was so badly injured that he was willing to let Jack teach him to swim. It felt like an amazing gift of trust on his part--trusting Jack with his wounded body and his pride both, and finally letting Jack help him, which we know Jack longs so much to do. It seems like a potentially healing time for the both of them, after such trauma.

(I highly recommend the book HMS Surprise, one of the prime Hurt-Stephen books in the series. It has the torture and rescue, it has Stephen being shot in a duel and operating on himself as in the movie, it has him in emotional anguish...kind of a Stephen-shaped piƱata. :D )
dorinda: In "Brideshead Revisited" (1981), Sebastian and Charles, arms around each other, look out to sea. (Brideshead_sea)
I was talking recently with [ profile] lynndyre about this, but haven't mentioned it otherwise--I finally, FINALLY have been reading the Aubrey-Maturin books!

I haven't finished the series, but I'm well along--in the middle of The Letter of Marque, which is 12 of 20 (or 21 if you count the final unfinished book). It's utterly weird that it took me so long--I've always loved Age of Sail as a setting, I first fell for the Hornblower books at age 10 or 11, I've read many true historical tales of sailors' lives. Heck, I've even read AND enjoyed Moby Dick, more than once! Add on top of that how much I absolutely love the Master & Commander movie, and you'd think I'd have read them all long ago.

But no! It took me soooo long to get my figurative teeth into them. I tried Post Captain (book 2) first, sometime in the later 1990s--the idea was that it started out more like a landlocked comedy-of-manners, which would give me a head start before going to sea and having to face a lot of complicated terminology. And I've read and enjoyed Austen, so, why not this?

But I kept bouncing off Post Captain, over and over. I owned the paperback, and every year or two would open it again and give it another try, but even once I had made it through, I never felt connected to it. And the sea terminology was not the problem! (Hornblower had given me some of the basics, plus just a general absorption of knowledge from everything else age-of-sail-related I'd ever read or seen, plus the O'Brian books do a good job of contextualizing the technical terms even when they're complex).

But then early this year I think, or late last year, I went back and tried the first book in the series, Master and Commander. And click! I connected, I fell right in, and then I kept going, and read/enjoyed Post Captain this time, and then proceeded onward.

I think what in retrospect was a problem for me trying Post Captain first, was that Jack and Stephen are at odds--and such serious odds!--for so much of the book. And because I hadn't thought to stop and try Master & Commander first, I didn't have a foundation for their friendship, as a starting point before seeing the issues with Diana almost bring them to a deadly confrontation.

Once M&C had given me their first meeting, and then how quickly they get over that and bond together, I had an anchor to support me through the tribulations of Post Captain--and then when they are reconciled later in Post Captain, I could bracket off the near-duel as the aberration it was, and sail merrily off to bask in Jack-and-Stephen (and Jack/Stephen) through all the books to come.

I am so totally loving them. And some I've already read twice, first in print and then listening to the audiobook. (Fellow audiobook listeners--it's funny, at first I thought I'd never get comfortable with Patrick Tull, with the heavy thickness of his voice and his idiosyncratic rhythms with such long pauses--but now he is absolutely my jam. And when I've had to listen to Simon Vance, when he's the only one I can get my hands on, I sigh wistfully all the way through and wish for Tull. I thought Vance would be my favorite, as I've heard him narrate the Temeraire books--but no. He does such a comic-walrus Jack, and a completely non-Irish Stephen, and just in general doesn't suit me the way Tull does. Go figure!)

Anyway, I thought I'd mention it, in case anyone else out there ever wants to talk about 'em! I haven't finished Letter of Marque yet, but it's already made me literally mist up and get teary, and I think you know which scene that was. SNIFF!


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