Summary: The British Navy is known for following the rules and going by the book. And in Norrington's book, there's an entire subsection dedicated to trapping a pirate.
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Notes: catslash has joined the ranks of my formidable challengers. As per her requests, this fic contains Jack trying to discover Norrington's first name (which, for the first time, is not John), the line "Why didn't you ask me directly?", and not one, but two bit-part characters of my choice. On commodoring . . . apparently, a commodore is almost exactly like a captain, except that he controls a squadron's worth of other ships in addition to his own.
Stark moonlight outlined the naval brig with a hard, pale luminescence. The sails hung slack in the windless night. A pair of guards gazed blearily over the faintly shining water with their drowsy eyes on the distant ship with black sails, and neither one of them noticed the dark figure on deck until he thumped their heads together.
Jack Sparrow clicked his tongue as he looked at the unconscious pair. They would probably wake up arguing as to whether being knocked senseless was truly what had happened, or if Jack had only been shamming.
He filched their bayonets and threw them into the sea. No sense in letting fools wander 'round armed--given time to work past that ingrained British assumption that the other fellow always plays by the rules, they might get ideas about firing the things. Best to take away the temptation.
P'raps the Navy wasn't stupid, but it could be pretty damn blind when it wanted to be. Take, for instance, the ship flying the British flag that had come up on starboard and cozied up to the brig. The Navy didn't bother to send a man over to ask questions--they hadn't even increased the guard.
Give a pirate enough dyed cloth and thread and a pair of scissors, and the world is his oyster.
This little jaunt onto the brig was, Jack had to admit, of a more personal nature than most of his previous ventures into the world of the floating military. He hadn't gone to the trouble of capturing a decoy ship for something so trivial as disrupting naval operations and scuttling the ship. No, there were bigger games afoot than setting Commodore Norrington back by easily a month.
His effects had been taken, and he would get them back!
He wasn't definite as to how the British Navy had acquired his effects, although it was possible that they'd been snatched in the middle of that heated battle between the Pearl and whatever this ship's name was. It was also possible that some seaman with an ounce of cunning had sneaked aboard the Black Pearl in the dead of night and taken them as a sort of psychological burst of cannon-fire.
Whatever Commodore Norrington had done or had had done, though, the hat, pistol belt, and other trappings were trapped aboard this ship, and Jack had come to liberate them.
He stepped lightly down the ladder and went in search of the captain's cabin. Norrington was a sly devil, and he'd had few enough chances to gloat since they'd begun this terrific chase. Jack's effects would be there.
If they weren't, he had a sharp saber on his left hip and a pair of scissors on his right. Between the two of them, there was adequate weaponry to threaten the commodore into submission.
Norrington held the scissors against Jack's neck. The pirate's saber was quivering lopsidedly in the door; Jack hadn't gotten better at Will's sword-flinging trick, practice though he did with the mast when he had a free moment.
"I'm a reasonable man," Norrington said, soft as a silk glove running over a shining new pistol. "In fact, I'm a reasonable man who has lost a considerable amount of sleep in waiting for you to come for your 'effects.'" The scissors pressed just a touch more firmly against Jack's neck as the pirate was backed into a chair.
In direst straits, with all weapons gone unless he could whip his headscarf over Norrington's eyes and blind the man, Captain Jack Sparrow still had one weapon left in his arsenal, and it was desperate, ebullient misdirection.
"I never saw it coming, Jim--the great Captain Jack Sparrow, brought low by scissors! Jimmy, lad, you've done the Navy proud!" His voice was full of mad glee, but it was nothing to the fool's grin painting his face.
Sure enough, Norrington frowned. "My name isn't Jim."
"You're right; we aren't on familiar terms yet! James, then," the pirate relented.
"Not James either." There were dark circles under the commodore's eyes and a tic throbbed on his left cheek. He was ripe for befuddlement.
"Johnny, stop playing games with the good captain," Jack cajoled. "There's a good lad, John." He leaned back in the commodore's desk chair, and the scissors didn't move to follow him.
Norrington actually rubbed the bridge of his nose with his free hand.
Jack gave him a startled look of recognition. "Oh, I'm sorry, Dan'l. Name slipped my mind for a moment. Hold on while I pick up my hat, all right, Danny?" He leaned over and clutched the battered hat, settling it on his head as he relaxed back into the chair.
The commodore gave him a tense look that meant he was considering two possible explanations for this situation: either Jack was merely insane (the more logical answer), or Norrington had collapsed from sleep deprivation and was wandering 'round in a damnably strange dream.
"Look, Henry, I've had a lovely night and you need your sleep. If you'll let me pick up my pistols--good man, Robert--I'll just be going back to my ship now." He pushed the scissors aside and retrieved the rest of his effects, steering Norrington gently into the chair.
As he yanked his sword out of the door, he felt the press of cold metal against the back of his neck.
"Not so fast, pirate."
Jack turned around, but this time he had a sword.
Unfortunately, so did Norrington.
"My name, since you are so keen to know it, is Thomas," Norrington hissed, raising his blade cautiously into a perfect position-four defensive stance.
"Ah, Tom! Thomas Norrington, I'm Captain Jack Sparrow." He made a bow.
"I'd shake your hand--" the pirate began, but Norrington lashed out with all the rage of long, fruitless nights spent guarding a hat and a belt of empty guns.
Bloody British Navy. Even when they hit at a man in anger, they did it by the book.
Norrington was a talented fencer, Jack gave him that. For ripostes, disengages, circle-parries, and all sorts of nancing about with a deadly pointy object, there were probably few better.
For well-timed kicks, slashes below the belt, and creative use of all crockery within reach, though, Jack was the master.
It was an even match.
"It almost worked, Sparrow," Norrington panted as he sprawled across a corner of the room, staring at Jack in the other corner. The pirate had the bunk behind him and a guarded stance. "But if your aim was my name, why didn't you ask me directly?"
He was planning something. Jack could practically smell it, if a plan smelled like sweat and stale tea.
"That's Jack to you, Tom--we're on a first-name basis now." He was still smiling like mad, but his kohl had started to run down his cheeks with the heat and sweat. Jack was exhausted indeed, and Norrington looked to be awake solely because he had glared sleepiness into submission.
Suddenly, the commodore's blade was lodged between the hand-guard and the hilt of Jack's saber.
Damn--Norrington knew the throwing sword trick!
He advanced on Jack menacingly, eyes shadowed by weariness as much as Jack's were by kohl. He opened his mouth to speak.
And in that moment, both collapsed. They were asleep before they hit the floor.
British officers go by the book, and so a somnambulating Thomas Norrington removed his boots and set them carefully on Jack Sparrow's back before falling dead away again.
Jack woke with an arm draped over his shoulders and a weight on his back. Upon inspection, the arm belonged to Norrington, and probably so did the boots.
Well, this was a pretty state of affairs.
Jack carefully pried the arm off of his shoulders, shook off the boots, readjusted his hat, and belted on his effects.
He spared a glance back at the commodore as he freed his saber. The fellow's wig was askew and his uniform was crumpled.
It was rather touching that a man would go to all that trouble to capture him, only to come away empty-handed. The notion filled Jack with a peculiar early-morning warmth, and he chuckled lightly.
Tom. Well, he'd be damned. Tom.
"Tom Norrington, m'lad, here's another day that you've almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow," he murmured. "Here's to your cunning plan, and here's to your sword trick."
There was no one around to see, and the man was asleep. Jack pressed a kiss onto Tom's forehead.
"Here's to the next time you're going to almost catch Captain Jack Sparrow."
As the pirate slunk out of the cabin, Norrington stirred. He wouldn't wake for another hour, but he smiled in his sleep.
If the matter were to be strictly considered by a panel of authors, Tom was doing things by the book. It was the kind of book that proper gentlemen didn't read, and it was few enough pages in yet that the good commodore would have been appalled to find himself as a starring character.
But in this kind of book, the first step in capturing a pirate (or rather, a pirate's heart) had already been completed.
The men were on a first-name basis.
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