Notes: Bit of angst, bit of OOC because it's them 10 years ago...first PoTC fic, so still warming into it...oh, and enjoy :)
-10 years earlier-
I look at your sleeping face and repeat my question mentally. Do you feel guilty, Barbossa?
Such a tricky, tricky question to find an answer for, though it seems simple in theory. Guilt, after all, is an easy emotion to place; commonly found in those with a gut-wrenching pain, lips tired from apologising and a head sore from worrying. Yet neither of these symptoms fit my own bill, do they? Perhaps it's because I have naught to feel guilty about.
I wonder if I'll feel different tomorrow evening. I envisage you, lost forever on those little, hopeless shores with the one-shot pistol. I imagine how I will feel, knowing I have lost you eternally to a fate that demands your eventual death. One that has come through my own bidding. Yes, it will be at my hands that you die, and I am not quite sure how I will react to that when the time comes.
Oh, but you always make a mess in my mind, Jack. You sneaked in there long ago and were knocking in the "Home Sweet Home" sign before I even realised that you had taken residence. From then on, you've been comforting yourself with your own little tip, and it is my sanity that has suffered in the meanwhile. To you, I'm sure it was all a bit of harmless fun. I'll ask you about the funny side as I sail away without you tomorrow.
I am still a mess, you see. I cannot identify the swaying of my own heart, nor can I predict my own responses anymore. The biggest mistake of my life was letting you in and allowing you to screw me over. You have made me a weaker man, and for that, I suspect guilt will not touch me tomorrow. My pride does not bear your onslaughts easily and a part of me will be glad to see you left alone, awaiting the end of your life.
Of course, I wish I had known this 5 years ago. That bright, breezy day that seems now so long ago. The sun shone down onto your beautiful ship -soon to be my beautiful ship, naturally-, and never had I seen a vessel so glorious. I was only vaguely aware then of the speed of her, your Black Pearl, and the intense artilery hidden beneath her innocent exterior. Only the blazen black flag, adorned with our pirate insignia, gave away a black heart hidden underneath the flowing of her sails. No, it was indeed her exterior that caught me back then. Her initial impression cannot be summed up in words, and must be experienced as the sudden loss of breath, the widening of disbelieving eyes. She only gets better once you break her in, I suppose.
Yes, I am aware that you and she were too similar for comfort. You appear as a grubby angel; naive and unassuming, perhaps beautiful if one were being generous to the state of your hair and nails, but darkness stirs inside you. We both know it. I see the danger that hides in your eyes just as I saw the secret sting the Pearl was able to give. The threatening signals can be seen in both of you, if you are studied closely enough. But, you are alike in that you work so transfixing a spell that few get past those sweet outward appearances. And that both of you are intensely, insanely, addictive.
You recruited me 5 years ago, but I did not need a fifth of that time to fall in love with the pair of you. I must admit, -though probably you will understand-, that she came first. I saw the power she possessed, the untapped genius that was within her. Visions came to my fruitful mind of what she could become, and I felt as though I were on the edge of some great discovery. I felt that all manner of riches and power were to come to me, that all odds in the universe were stacked in my favour. I'd never felt so sure of a grand future as I did then, and I loved her for sowing such rich seeds inside me. At the time, I felt only the sweet eternity of gratitude to you, Jack, for hiring me to come aboard your prosperous vessel. I felt that you'd blessed me with your privilege. Humbled, I was, though I surely must have surpassed you both in age and experience.
These naughty thoughts came to me later, naturally. That was a time where I knew only of the striking song of hope, when I just couldn't stop smiling. It actually sounds so repulsive now, somewhat sickening. I have aged more than I care to admit since then. You are responsible for that, too. You, my Captain. If I was humble, then, you were even humbler. At least, that's how I saw your nature when I was in such a lighthearted state of mind. Now, I think you as naught but a bumbling fool. You made such bad decisions; not least the one where you decided to trust me. You will lose your precious Pearl, Jack, and the only one you will have to blame is your onesie, savvy?
You were not cold enough to be a Captain. It is more than just holding the wheel, and guiding your ship. You are the leader of an aquatic army, your battlefields are the waves beneath you. You must be ruthless, and always on your guard. The safety catch must always be left off on your gun, your eyes must never leave the ball. You must suspect the worst of everyone, and never let a soul into your heart; not even your crew. Detached and uncaring is how you must be, else you will never succeed as a pirate. Plunder you will achieve adequately, but greatness comes in locking your heart away. Never trusting, never caring. You made this mistake, and perhaps, so did I. But you are Captain, and thus, you have farther to fall. You made up for it too late.
I know you fell in love with me before I reciprocated. Something in my nature appealed to you; perhaps my lust for your toy endeared me to you. Maybe I became a soulmate to you the moment you saw my heart go out to her. Sometimes I think it was that my soul complimented yours. We both had ambitious natures tucked away inside the shell of a cheerful spirit. You have a love of being alive, and so did I, back then. I wanted to conquer the world, as you did, and we both wanted to have the time of our lives whilst we did it. Too many of us back then lived their lives as repetitive, grey deck scrubbers. They did as told, thought as told, breathed as told. Enjoyment wasn't even a term they could spell, let alone understand. They weren't so much soldiers as slaves, and neither of us wanted to follow them into their caves of self-inflicted misery.
We laughed such a lot back then. Our rum bottles clinked as the sun bedded down in the horizon, and we talked of blazing aspiration. From those moments, I knew we would get on. You had a wicked gleam in your eyes as you told me all those bad, bad things you'd done in your life, and how you'd escaped each one, and you giggled with glee as I shared with you some of my own stories. I revelled in your unsuspecting nature, so carefree and easy compared to some of the uptight, restrictive Captains I'd served under. You seemed to relish my mature years; looking to me even then for advice and a good yarn. I know now that you trusted me too soon. You got business mixed up with pleasure. You liked me; no harm in that. Except when you kept increasing my rank based on the progress of our relationship.
I didn't remain an anonymous crew member for long. You felt obligated by the fact that these evening conversations on still waters had made us firm friends, and your reward for this seemed to be promotion after promotion. I didn't mind a bit, of course. Taking over you was not in my head back then. I was thrilled at being just a little higher up in the hierachy of this great ship. My ambitions were being fulfilled professionally.
And after a while, personally, too.
I don't remember exactly when we became lovers. Perhaps it was after too much rum, who knows? I do remember that it was a particularly warm night, and we had sat on deck, as usual. Plunder that day had been very successful, as the crew were in high spirits. A party had been going on to celebrate our evil success, and it was just dimming down into a quiet chorus of druken singing as we sat on the deck. You were thoughtful; brows furrowed into those delicious dark eyes you have. I recall your gaze as you looked out onto an endless ocean; calm waters lapping against the Pearl gently and making her shift languidly from side to side. I did not know what was on your mind and did not pretend to. All I know was that you moved your look to me, as if searching for yet more treasure, and I felt as if an anchor was loosened. I felt grounded with you; some connection was made somewhere that alerted me to what we had become. Perhaps it was too much. We'd attached to one another too greatly, I think now. Then, it wasn't a conscious thought. I saw nothing particularly wrong with a hearty friendship; especially given that I was by then First Mate to your Captain. I seconded you in every way possible, it was surely natural that we were close.
Was it you who made the first move? I think it was. You leaned across from your uncomfortable wooden deckchair, bridging the gap between us and placed shy lips on mine with a tenderness that became you. Your kisses are somewhat like you; enthuasiatic, happy, but giving way to a passion that is dark and dangerous. One that could easily engulf me and laugh at its own triumph. Sometimes I feel I do not understand you. You were apprehensive as you waited in earnest for my contribution to the embrace. I tormented you with prolonged stillness, letting you move one hand to the back of my neck before I even parted my lips to accept you. It was then that you drew back for air, and I caught only the briefest flare of lust in your eyes before you had moved back in once more. And then, after that, I could not dismiss you. You found your tenderness contrasted by my desire as I deepened the second kiss, allowing an experienced tongue to work away your chastity. Your response to the challenge was as always admirable, more than equalling the rage of my desire in that I felt your hands surround my face with a domination that almost frightened me.
I was older, remember. I was not used to being treated this way by a whippersnapper, and even being of lower rank than you had not made me accustomed to seeing myself as inferior. You had looked to me so often for guidance that I saw myself as being dominant over you in every way that I could. I had not forced this, it was what we had become. I was a teacher to you, and you a younger man seeking my knowledge. It was expectation that this pattern would continue now that our relationship had deepened. In other words, your taking such dogged control of the kiss threw me quite off balance.
I believe I recovered well, though.
Like now, I simply couldn't bear your dominance. You were altogether too threatening in exercising it. Your mouth, though I suspect it was unexperienced, spoke of untold skills it had yet to test and you exposed a confidence in kissing that I'd seen you trying to hide in all other matters. You knew you had me whipped, just as you knew you had your ship and your crew all hanging off your word. I hated that. It felt strange to do so. I was sunny back then, but I felt the first trickles of blackness as I was cruelly subjected to your new traits; ones you'd fed off me. You had gained strength from me, from our interactions. The stories I'd told, the advice I'd given, all of it had bolstered you inside. You were shedding your old, shyer skins and flowering into a devious minx, I could see it. You would become very strong. You were already halfway there, and I found myself wanting to bite your lip.
Maybe I did so, I don't remember. It was a flurry of limbs, that I do recall. My thoughts went into hyperspeed as I tried to comprehend what was happening. I knew that lust had become mixed with friendship, and that I had no qualms about heightening our relationship this way. Pirates as a population tend to go by their instincts. We are guided by our intuitions as much with other people as we are on the sea, and if it feels right, we go with it. This felt right. Or, as long as I had the upper hand, it would. I wanted you something rotten. You, you little bundle of sunshine and storm clouds all thrown in together. I wanted to capture those intense, smoky eyes of yours and call you my own. Beautiful is perhaps not a word suited to you, because you are too rugged and eccentric to deserve such a stoicly demeaning word. You are breathtaking, captivating, striking and unbearably attractive, yes, but you are too ragged to be beautiful. Yet you commanded my heart far more than the beautiful women in Tortuga, back then. Oh, that we were to make love, I had no doubts about whatsoever. I only stumbled on the terms.
It would only happen on my terms. Either you obeyed me, or it would not happen at all. I did not have to tell you that; my rough embraces and hard hands conveyed my message for me. Surprisingly enough, you accepted it without argument, but then, I had assumed you a virgin. Perhaps you were just too scared to do anything that didn't involve lying flat on your back and ready to receive. I still don't know if these assumptions are correct. You never did tell me if I was your first, and I felt it too crude to ask. The only evidence I have is the rough sound of pain you made; quietened by the roar of the sea that was reasonably loud in the rooms on middle deck. You'd tried to hide it by chewing on a defenseless lip, but if you hadn't voiced it, the way your every limb tensed would have spoke volumes about your discomfort. I'm not ashamed to admit that I did not make an effort to comfort you. It would have embarassed you, would it not? No, it was best to let you handle this on your own. I was awakening you to a new experience, and I left it to you to deal with the pain it brought you. To do anything else would be to acknowledge your own weakness.
That's not to say I wasn't glad when your discontent turned to pleasure. It was becoming torture upon my ego, seeing your grimaces and frowns. Watching those give way to a filthy smile; one of potential and arousal was like observing the sun break through after a storm. A sudden blaze that makes you shiver because it is so intense that for a second, you cannot breathe. I forgot myself watching that smirk hit your eyes as they held my gaze above you. Then, the tug of your legs around my waist brought me back and I felt obliged to satisfy you fully.
If those living onboard heard us, they were discreet enough to remain silent about it. I imagine that the noise you made as you came shamed the thunderous waves, which was quite delightful to me, but perhaps not for the crew. It was never your style to do anything quietly, though. On the whole, I felt pleased with the whole experience. I thought it had bonded us. I had almost christened you, brought you into a new world. You would be indebted to me for it. Oh yes, my humble nature was no more. It was being slowly replaced by hunger and greed, and it started with you, Jack. My naive little lamb, as you fell asleep against me that night.
That night changed a lot of things, but it certainly didn't turn out that way in the end, did it Jack? It cast away our mutual innocence. Neither of us were quite as cheery and naive after that; we'd tapped into our respective potential. We'd each discovered our own power over each other, and enjoyed the rush of adrenaline we'd gotten out of it. I believe that power is what chases innocence away; it strengthens a person like no other trait can. It binds unconsciously to the dark, feeds evil spirits in the mind. It made us both very different. You knew that I loved you, that you could make me love you even harder. I don't think you'd ever been in such a position before, and we both know you were enamoured with the new development. And we both knew that you could make me crazier and crazier for you; that being your power. And mine? Control over you that I hadn't had before. It was one thing being your professional adviser, and watching you do as I said, but now to have your emotional reliance as well...
I owned you.
Initially, I really did. Through your efforts to sustain my attention and increase my love for you, you failed to see the reins you placed in my hands. It was all about me, was it not? That alone gave me power beyond my wildest dreams, and fed an inner hunger. That was how I had changed, you see. Where a happy-go-lucky man had been, there stood instead a man wraught with dark desires. I'd tasted the blood of power, and all I wanted was more of it. I was not satisfied by my life anymore. Not when I had tapped into what could be, what I could have. It was as if someone had pulled away a blindfold; I could no longer see how I could have accepted being a lowly First Mate to such an incompetant Captain. I had had aspirations waiting in the wings for years, but they found their voice that night. I vowed that I would change everything; I would take your place. You would be my lover, for sure, but there would be a role reversal. You were gaining such control over me, and it frightened me. We became locked in a battle of blows; my power, and your power, just waiting for the strike that would finally floor one of us. You might have been able to tolerate this, but I couldn't.
The glory of being the Captain was what I wanted. No more doing all the work and having naught to show for it, no more being your silent prop and your unappreciated guide. I guess you showed me your potential that night, Jack. I knew you could be very strong, if only you learned how to exploit your own advantageous qualities. I didn't intend on allowing that to happen before I had a chance of taking the helm. These wasn't the actions of a traitor, back then. They were merely an executive decision based on my being superior to you.
I believe it might also have been that I loved the ship the most. As I suggested, the pair of you are very similar. Metaphorically, you are the Pearl, and you made the mistake of allowing me to take complete control of you. What do you think I felt in that? I was given a glimpse of what it would be like to have her, Jack, and I'm sure you cannot blame me for being instantly maddened by it. I knew then that I could take her as I had taken you; this exquisite creature that had so captured my heart. I wanted you, of course, but I wanted her more. I saw her through you, felt the beauty of owning her as I owned you. As you rose in power, so did she, and I felt afterwards the worry that I might lose the chance of possessing you both in one fell swoop.
No, I had to do something before you realised your own worth and took her away from me; leaving me with naught but a broken heart and a few stretches of beached land on which to console my sorrows. I had to take over you, somehow. I had to gain both your submission to me, and...your Pearl.
I thought you'd accept it eventually.
Oh, of course. I forgot one thing, right? You're Captain Jack Sparrow.
As I came to discover, there was a fatal flaw in my intentions. Your love of that ship. You were Captain in another sense of the word; it was all about the Pearl. Every pirate needs a ship to be of any great use, but you were a Captain only for her. The idea that anybody else could lead whilst onboard your baby was preposterous, and you would hold onto that wheel with your life rather than step down. I understood it, of course. When she is mine, I will guard her with a similar protectiveness. It was the one gift you would not allow me, though. I was let into your heart easier than I was allowed close to your bloody ship, and for this I became intensely angry. You refused me, and my pride was wounded. You denied me power, and my rage was sparked. I had become some sort of monster; craving only power and control with an insatiable greed that scared even me. I doubt you even recognised me anymore. I'd never had a jealous nature before, understand. Only when I was taunted and tempted this way; you offering me these treats but holding them just out of reach. I had been close enough to taste you both. I had so almost made you nothing more than a wife to me. I had nearly tasted the Pearl. Both were temptations that drove me closer to insanity.
You'd made a mistake, letting me get that close. You dared not do so again, yet the further you held them back from me, the more jealous and furious I became, and the rougher I was with you. The only other option you had would be to indulge my fantasies, but you knew it put yourself and your ship in too much jeopardy. Given half a chance, you knew I'd wrench that vessel from you. You would rather bear the weight of my coarseness than risk losing the Pearl. I was aware then that you were finding it difficult to love me. You were changing as I was; closing off, guarding your assets. You didn't laugh so much. Darkness had ruined your optimistic, sweet nature. You were forced to become paranoid, cautious and full of suspicion, because you knew that I could take your most precious asset. The energy all of this took made you tired, irritable and forever moulded into a cynic. A pessimist. You couldn't risk trusting anymore, nor loving. It all became about protecting your ship, and there was naught left in you for me.
I wondered why you didn't just throw me overboard. I guess that was down to your honesty, your belief in the code. You couldn't have done such a thing as I am about to do. Even you are not that black just yet. You will be, I think. Soon.
Oh, but the water is dangerously calm tonight. I sit by the window and watch the lapping of the waves, the noise almost inaudible. Indeed, I can easily hear your steady breathing over it. I have shared your bed for almost 5 years, Jack. Through all the pain I brought you, for all that we destroyed each other, we could not give up on that. You could forgive me only at night, curled into me because you love a warm body around you. It was the only submission I had left of you. Even our lovemaking had become somewhat rotten; you didn't enjoy it because I hurt you, and the intimacy that I craved from it was lost in that you detached yourself from it. Only in sleep could I see the innocent man I had corrupted. I look at you now and I see him. Your face, open in slumber, lines from all I have put you through smoothed out. Your dark hair spreads out over the pillow, your body submissive to the white sheets that tighten around your limbs. Vulnerable. Yes, maybe even beautiful.
But it doesn't change anything. I have had enough of almost 5 years of struggle, now. You will never give me the Pearl, and I must wrestle it from you any way that I can. I have already lost you in my passionate jealousy, so there is no point in keeping you. I can still obtain her, and I will, Jack. If it means I have to leave you behind, then so be it. I love this ship as much as you do, and it destroyed everything we had together. It came down to an even choice between you, and I had to go with my first love.
You have naught to offer me, see Jack? I only want your Pearl, I have no need for you anymore. I can do without your cynicism and rebukes. I do not need someone to make love to anymore. I do not need you. My desire for control of you will end tomorrow, because I will have succeeded. And perhaps that's key to all of this. I did not need to make you love me to elevate myself above you, to make me master of you. All I needed to do was rob you of the Pearl. I wasted all of that effort trying to gain you both, when all I should have done was aimed for her. You are too similar, Jack. Where she goes, you follow.
I guess that will only make sailing away without you all the sweeter. You turn over with a contented sigh, all too unaware of my hideous plans. No, you do not realise the mutiny that will occur tomorrow. You do not realise that this ship that you love so much will be ripped from you tomorrow. You do not realise that you will be left stranded on a remote island to die tomorrow. Only I can know that, and no, I still do not feel guilty.
I feel like you must have when you first captained the Pearl.
Like the luckiest man alive.
I hope you sleep well, Jack, and that your dreams are sweet. You'll need them when you've naught in the world except that tiny beach and that pistol.
And me? ...I'll always remember the last 5 years as the time I nearly loved Captain Jack Sparrow.
What will you remember of me, your mutinous First Mate?
In the distance, I hear the trumpets sound.
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