Rating: NC-17 for slash content and liberal UST.
Archive: Yes, help yourself.
Disclaimer: Mouse & Bruckheimer Productions owns all, except Jack Sparrow who belongs to J.Depp. ;-)
Warning: Will and Elizabeth are newly married, so Mild references to Het, but hardly the focus of this Slash Story - don't be afraid. ;-)
Series: This is a stand-alone story. No sequel.
Author's Note: "Everyone's thinkin' it; I'm just sayin' it." The title is an adage that refers to gossip that can lead to compromised security during wartime.
Shout-Outs: Thanks to Gileonnen for introducing me to the idea of pillaging Shakespeare shamelessly. And thanks to Jehan's Muse for the incredible fic 'Comfort', and the Stowaway for the amazingly delicious 'Courtesy' and 'Mischief'. You all caused rampant plot bunnies to eat me alive until I wrote this. :-)
Summary: Will and Elizabeth know that Capt Jack and Cmdr Norrington want each other, but the two in question don't agree. It's up to Will and Elizabeth to convince them, despite encountering forceful resistance to the idea.
Loose Lips Sink Ships
It had all started off quite innocently, or so Will believed.
They had only been married a month before, a hasty eight months after their return to Port Royal from their adventure concerning the Aztec gold. An idle conversation with Elizabeth in their conjugal bedchamber, in a discussion of the possible locations for their honeymoon, had taken an abruptly unsettling turn.
With a satisfied smile, Elizabeth ran a hand down Will's bare arm. "I still think that a cruise would be nicest of all. I don't mind where we go, as long as we're out on the ocean."
"You would," Will accused with an indulgent, answering smile. "But there are real pirates out there, and it wouldn't be pleasant at all to run into any of them on our honeymoon, as ironic as that would be."
"Oh, I don't know," Elizabeth said, toying with the front of her new husband's fine, bare chest and eliciting interesting twitches from him. "For all the terror and boredom involved on our last adventure, it certainly made a change from sitting in the parlor doing needlework." She shuddered at the banality of the social set of Port Royal.
But this had got Will to thinking. Slowly, he pulled her closer. "Elizabeth, did…" he hesitated, not knowing how to ask without possibly offending her or bringing up painful memories. He hadn't dared to ask before, especially as she'd said Barbossa had not taken her honor - that he'd been unable to before the curse was lifted. And on their wedding night, Will had discovered she'd told him the truth. "Did Barbossa take advantage of you? I mean, he didn't molest you in any way, did he?"
She wrinkled her nose. "Unfortunately, no. He didn't really have the chance."
Will raised his brows. "Unfortunately?"
She giggled, and then yelped as Will tickled her. "Stop, stop!" she commanded, breathlessly.
He grinned at her. "But you were marooned with Jack on that island… Didn't he have the chance?"
"I didn't give him one. Although he did appear to be interested at one point. Mind you, I noticed he allowed me to encourage him to drink so much that he passed out. And he knew how you felt about me. So I suspect he wasn't, really."
"He wasn't?" Will wasn't certain if he were jealous or offended at the thought of Jack passing up Elizabeth. Still, Jack knew Will and Elizabeth were more interested in each other at the time, and regardless of the fact that Barbossa had sailed off with him back to the Isla de Muerta, being stuck on an island with Elizabeth Swann surely would have constituted more of a temptation than Elizabeth was suggesting.
She frowned. "Are you kidding? There we were, stuck on that lonely little island, and we have all this rum to make a signal with. And there's Jack going off into this massive sulk over losing his ship again. It was quite morbid really. Not very romantic at all. At least until the rum entered the equation." She pulled a disgusted face. "I daresay if the rum and I hadn't both been there to cheer him up, he'd have gotten even worse." She stopped. "Actually, I might have been wrong about that." She nearly sat up. "That bloody bastard!"
Will was shocked. "What? What did he do?"
"Nothing!" she seethed. "That's the whole point. He started pretending at one point to be really sad about it… getting all morbid on rum, going on about freedom and the ocean and… well." She settled down. "I would have thought I'd be more tempting than that."
Will grinned at her, intending to tease. "Maybe you should have tried harder. If you had given into his advances, you could have at least had an idea as to whether it was something you really wanted. You said it yourself, you used to read about him all the time."
"William Turner, what a suggestion!" She propped herself up on her left elbow, looked down her nose at him, with a mocking cold glare.
He chuckled. "He is a fine man, after all. Fine pirate. He's not bad-looking."
"I thought you were in love with me?" Elizabeth said, in mock outrage. "It sounds like-" Then a suspicious expression came over her face. "This isn't about Jack at all, is it? Or me. It's about you. You want him!"
Will went quiet at her words, blushing. He actually had found Jack rather… interesting, after all. If Elizabeth hadn't been occupying his heart and thoughts throughout that voyage, he might have been tempted, himself. But now he feared he'd said the wrong thing.
Her smile slipped and her eyes widened with excitement. "You do! You want him. Well, you'll have to get in line, I expect."
Will protested, "What do you mean? You don't want-"
"Not me. Our mutual friend, Commodore Norrington. James seems to be quite taken with him. I'll bet Jack wants Norrington, too."
Will frowned. "Commodore Norrington? And Jack? You're kidding!"
"Seriously, Will. It's so obvious. Why, just the other day, James was visiting, while you were still at the shop. He dropped in for tea, and it was really quite irritating. All he could talk about was capturing Jack, apprehending Captain Sparrow… It was 'the pirate this' and 'Jack Sparrow that'. Describing in frightening detail what he'll do when he catches him. I don't think he realizes how he sounds." Elizabeth chuckled darkly. "I wonder if Jack knows."
Will shrugged. "Does Norrington? He probably doesn't know how he comes across. Although I daresay everyone else in Port Royal does, by now." It was unfortunately true, what Elizabeth had brought up; Norrington had been a little too focused on Jack Sparrow for the comfort of polite company, and to the delight of the gossipmongers in town.
"Neither of them realize it, I expect," Elizabeth stated. Then she stopped, going very quiet. It was obvious to Will that her mind was rushing with thoughts very quickly.
Will groaned. "What are you thinking? Elizabeth?"
Slowly, she said, "Maybe neither of them realize it. Maybe it's up to us to enlighten them."
"Both of them?"
"Yes, both of them."
Will sighed. Doubtfully, he said, "I don't know, it might be a little indiscreet. We don't know for sure, after all."
Elizabeth pushed him backwards and rolled on top of him with a mischievous grin. "We'd be doing them both a favor. James wants him, in the worst way. Even if he doesn't know it himself. And Jack-"
"Yes, what of Jack?" Reprovingly, Will repeated, "Jack might not feel the same way at all, and then we'd have to answer for meddling with the Commodore's feelings as well as Jack's business. Jack's a good friend. I don't think it's a good idea for us to play with them in that way."
Elizabeth looked down at him, obviously unwilling yet to let go of her brilliant new plan. "Think of it, Will," she breathed. "Indulge me, just for a moment." She leaned down and kissed him full on the lips.
When his eyes closed and he found himself properly distracted, she rose up again and said with a serious note in her voice, "I do owe James a consolation prize, after all. And I know he is very put out at not having laid eyes on Jack since that day he fell into the sea and returned to the Black Pearl. He seems to take it as a personal slight on Jack's part that the Pearl never comes in range of the Fort's cannons."
"And what will Jack get out of this?" Will was not at all convinced this would work, and doubted Elizabeth would even get the chance to implement anything. Still, if she tried, it would be best if he were there beside her to behave as some sort of tempering influence. He was well aware of the fire in Elizabeth's blood, for all her genteel upbringing.
He sighed to himself. He'd married a proper lady with the heart of a pirate. And here he was, a proper pirate with the heart of a gentleman. Or was that Jack? He yet aspired to somehow square with his blood, as Jack had suggested.
"Think about it, Will," she urged. "We'd be doing them both a favor. A compromised commodore is better than one who's still committed to seeing Jack hang."
Will had been forced to admit she had a point. But he still regarded it as risky.
He managed to distract her thoroughly by repeating what he'd done to her not an hour before; consummating their marriage vows.
However, at that juncture, he hadn't realized how serious she had been.
Truth illuminated him when she came to him the following afternoon at the blacksmith's shop, ignoring Master Brown where the man slouched in a stupor, and informed him that she'd sent word to Jack Sparrow that Mr. and Mrs. Turner desired a private, face-to-face meeting with him. And that she had arranged to meet Commodore Norrington at the same time, herself, for another meeting. At the same time, at the same place: in their very home.
Aghast, he'd said, "But- but what are we doing? Why? What are we meant to be saying to them?"
She had smiled conspiratorially. "That's easy, Will. I'm going to tell James that Captain Jack Sparrow is madly in love with him. And you will tell Jack that the Commodore is madly in love with him, so they'll both think the other is in love with him, and we'll let them meet at our house. We'll step back, and watch nature take its course."
Will's face set in firm lines. "It'll never work. Even, as you said, if it means Jack might be safe for some while from the Commodore's intention of seeing him hung."
"If it doesn't work, then it simply means we'll have to be more convincing, doesn't it?" she pointed out, as if it was obvious. She leaned forward and petulantly pleaded, "Oh, please, Will. Think about it. They'd both be so much happier, and I know James would find some ease at last. And Jack won't have to worry about the Navy for a bit. If James is no longer trying to see him killed, we won't have to worry about getting caught in the middle ourselves, between Jack and the law."
But Will could see the sense in what she was suggesting, now. Either that, or he'd finally become hypnotized by Elizabeth and was following her on a course of insanity and indiscretion that would lead to mayhem, madness and hanging. It was daring, completely ill informed and very piratical, indeed.
He nodded and smiled. "Actually, you're right. Everyone would be happy, all around."
She brightened. "So you'll do it? You'll speak to him?"
"I will," he agreed. He frowned down at her. "But you'd better be very sure about the Commodore, Elizabeth. He might use the opportunity to catch Jack and then where will we be?"
Elizabeth gave him a winsome smile. "Trust me, James does care for him. You'll see. I wouldn't gamble with Jack's life, any more than he'd gamble with yours."
Dryly, Will asked, "Why do I not find that very reassuring?"
Norrington cleared his throat. "Mrs. Turner, this is highly irregular. You insisted on seeing me this very afternoon. I've had to put aside all manner of business. Your husband is at work, and I'm having difficulty believing you sent word at such short notice simply to drink tea with me. Again. Just as we did, not three days ago."
Elizabeth smiled pleasantly at him. "I'm sorry, James. Truly, I am. It's just… what I have to impart to you is rather…delicate. Regarding a matter of the heart."
Norrington blinked, taking in what she had said. He swallowed. Looking down, he drew a breath. "Elizabeth," he began, intending to remind her that not only was it most improper for them to be meeting here alone at all, without even the attendance of the maid or someone of some standing, but to speak of their previous engagement…
"Please, hear me out," Elizabeth continued, swiftly. "I've no intention of embarrassing you by bringing up awkward memories of the past. This matter… it is not my heart, but someone else's. Will told me something most distressing the other day. A friend of mine. They are… suffering," she said, with a sad expression.
Norrington frowned. "I'm sorry to hear it. Whatever is the matter?"
Elizabeth laid a hand to her bosom and fanned herself. "It really is a very melancholy tale. A dear friend of ours, who Will and I think highly of, is suffering from a broken heart."
Norrington considered this. He sipped his tea to think over it. Why on earth would Elizabeth be telling him this? "And who might this friend of yours be pining for, that it is so distressing for you to know it?"
In the motion of lifting the cup to his mouth, Norrington nearly spit out his tea. Licking his lips to soothe them from the hot splashes that burned them, he set the tea back in the saucer. "Really, Mrs. Turner, you should know better than to be spreading rumors and listening to idle gossip," he remonstrated.
Elizabeth shook her head quickly. "No, it's true. He really is in love with you. I think Will is growing jealous, actually. You have to help me out, James. I don't want to lose Will to that… that rascal."
Norrington frowned. This sounded far more serious than a case of some friend who was pining away over him. And far more complicated. "He? What do you mean; that it is a man?"
"Well, yes," Elizabeth murmured.
When more of an explanation was not forthcoming, Norrington leaned forward, intently. "Elizabeth, you have to tell me what is going on. I'm not entirely sure I understand what you are saying."
She heaved a sigh. "It's Jack."
"Jack?" Norrington repeated. Then his face hardened. "Jack Sparrow?"
"Who else?!" she finally exclaimed. "The two of you, you've both been dancing around it for so long. He's terribly in love with you. Why do you think he keeps venturing so close to Port Royal, when he's got the entire Caribbean to roam around in?"
Norrington smiled, and sat back. "Very funny. Although I have to say, a joke such as this one could very well have backfired. Elizabeth, it isn't very becoming of you to stoop to such a prank."
She gave him a funny look. "Really, James, it's rather obvious, especially the way he makes eyes at you. You can't tell me you haven't noticed that, can you? I did, from the moment we met him on that dock. And why do you think Captain Sparrow spends so much time lurking around these waters? It's the most dangerous place for him to be, really."
He stared at Elizabeth, horrified at the way she would not stop talking about it.
She carried on. "And now Will is all concerned for him, and spends far too much time with him, drinking rum and carousing with Jack on his ship, drinking with the crew, singing and dancing… and behaving in a most unseemly manner. Jack's a poor influence on him."
She seemed so… sincere and distraught.
She leaned forward earnestly. "I want my husband back, James!"
"I suspected it was to call on you and William, that he kept venturing too near," Norrington pointed out helplessly, a note of rebuke in his voice, appalled both at her revelation of the pirate's desire and the careless manner in which she appeared to treat such indiscreet information.
"Well, you can believe whatever is convenient, I'm sure," she said, sitting back with a grimace, fanning herself. "It is true, nonetheless."
Norrington watched her, carefully. If it was a performance, she was outdoing herself nicely. He'd never seen her so flustered, except in instances of life and death.
Except, perhaps it was, for her. A matter of the heart, and of her life. Three hearts, come to think of it. With Will feeling sympathy for Jack Sparrow, and consoling him with drunken, friendly revelry, ignoring his new bride, and the no-doubt conniving pirate possibly pining for -
He stood up, abruptly. The entire afternoon had metamorphosed into the most disturbing and surreal moment he could have imagined.
"This is madness," he informed her, feeling as though the sunlight coming in through the window had suddenly altered to take on bizarre proportions. His collar was too tight.
"You haven't done much to help your own case," she added, a piquant tone entering her voice. "You do nothing but talk about him, yourself. Between the two of you, I really am beginning to believe that Captain Jack Sparrow is somehow the center of both your worlds. I know where the Black Pearl is going to be on Saturday; I've half a mind to tell the Watch. I'm sure one of your men would be delighted to hear what I have to tell them."
"No, don't do that," he said. Then stopped, as he realized what he had just said. This was getting so far out of hand, and he didn't even know how it had begun. Or when. Or why.
Damn. It was Jack Sparrow's fault; that much was certain. He glowered, and put his hands behind his back, lifting his chin to regard the view out of the window.
Damn the man. Somewhere close by, perhaps even around the end of the bay, was that bloody ship. She had to be mistaken. She had to be. There was no way that Sparrow was taken with him.
Why, the idea alone was too disturbing to contemplate. If it was true. Still, what she had said did hold merit - the pirate had always had an alarming way of making eyes at him even whilst spinning the most ridiculous and inflammatory suggestions. Jack Sparrow never did anything for anyone but himself, to serve his own ends.
Well, nearly never. He shuttered away the thought that Sparrow had in fact saved this very same girl from drowning upon their first meeting.
And to be honest, he'd been relieved that Sparrow had escaped that day, and he had battled with the most confusing and unwarranted indecision when Sparrow had fallen into the water and escaped to his ship.
The desire to pursue and recapture the pirate had been overwhelming, yet the knowledge that the man didn't really deserve to hang for any of his actions since they'd met had tempered his opinion of him. The man was a rogue, but still, as Will Turner had pointed out, a good man.
He swallowed. "Mrs. Turner," he began, noting as she straightened, and watched him. He turned to her a little, continuing, "I will have this matter out with Sparrow on Saturday. But here, in your very parlor. You may tell him I'll be here alone, attended only by yourself and your husband, and we can see it done. We'll resolve it here, or not at all."
Elizabeth inclined her head. "Very well. That's probably for the best, actually. I doubt he'd trust to meet with you anywhere else. He'll most likely fear a trap, in any case."
"You may tell him he has my word. I'll be here alone, with only you and Mr. Turner. That should be sufficient."
Elizabeth gave a sigh of relief and sagged a little in her seat. "Thank you, James. You don't know what this means to me. Will and I had been talking of our honeymoon, and I was beginning to fear that maybe we'd have to take it on Jack's ship."
Ludicrous, he thought. "Rest assured, that won't be necessary," he said to her. "Although I daresay Captain Sparrow may disappoint you. I doubt he will agree to meet us here."
"You still think I'm mistaken, then?" Elizabeth gave him a slight smile.
"I think you are misled, as is your husband. Jack Sparrow is a rogue, a vagabond and a knave. I have no compunction to believe that he will do anything except laugh at us from some safe distance while we stay up half the night waiting for him, only to find his ship has slipped farther away during the while. He is entirely without ethics or responsibility, and is mostly likely leading both you and William into some complicated, devious plot of his own."
Elizabeth sighed dramatically. "Yes, as you are always pointing out, so eloquently. Really, can you speak of nothing else?" she complained.
Norrington's lids fluttered and he looked sharply away, out the window once more. Dear God, she was right. He had to stop referring to the pirate. Elizabeth had no idea what she had done, to be putting such perturbing thoughts into his head.
"My apologies," he muttered. "I believed the topic to be entirely acceptable, considering you have done nothing but complain about him yourself since I arrived."
Elizabeth tittered and fanned herself. "I do believe you are getting tired of my company. I'll not keep you any longer. Meet us here on Saturday night then, and I'll not disturb you again, James. You have my word on that."
His lips twitched. "I wonder."
Jack was sitting in his cabin aboard the Pearl. Will was standing in front of him, hands on hips, looking decidedly worried. Jack frowned at the boy. Will had insisted on meeting with him urgently.
"Out with it, lad. You're near bursting, I can tell. What's got you in such a lather?"
"Norrington has it in for you, Jack."
"Tell me something I'm not already aware of, mate."
"No, seriously, Jack. He's quite taken with you. Elizabeth and I have been very concerned about his mental health. And his emotional state. You might be in grave danger."
"Of what, exactly?" Jack sat up, starting to wonder where this was going.
"Well, Elizabeth said that he's in love with you. I just think it's a fancy, nothing more. Although, you have to admit, he is quite proprietary when you two are in close proximity to each other. It's as if he can't keep his hands off you. And she's been saying that he talks of nothing else but you. Constantly." Will gives him a meaningful look. "It could be useful, you know. A compromised commodore is better than one who's still committed to seeing you hanged."
Hm. It was starting to sound to Jack's well-worn ears as if dear William had been rehearsing. Jack gave him a drunken leer. "And what's in this for you, eh?"
"What do you mean?" Will asks innocently.
"It's that girl of yours, innit? Mrs. Bloody Turner, playing matchmaker." Jack nodded, wisely, and downed more rum. "Why should I care if Norrington wants to take a tumble? What's in it for me?"
"Think of it, Jack," Will said, earnestly. "The Commodore doesn't just want a tumble. He's in love with you. He can't get over you, and has never been able to stop talking about you since you left us that day. The whole town talks about it."
Jack perked up at this. "Do they now?" A wicked smile crept onto him at this thought.
"He wants you, and now you know it. So, all you have to do is meet up with him, take a - a tumble, as you said," Will continued, engagingly. "And there you are. A threat neutralized. He won't be trying to hang you, and he'll most likely stop trying to actively seek out your ship. He'll be more desirous of awaiting the next time you make anchorage here."
Jack's eyes narrowed, and he began to take Will's idea seriously. "That is a fine suggestion, to be sure," he mused. "But there's only one way I'd consent to meet with that blighter, and only one way he'd consider meeting with meself, and that's on neutral ground."
"That's what we thought, too," Will agreed. "That's why Elizabeth and I thought we could invite you to come over on Saturday and-"
"So, if he deigns to join me here aboard my Pearl, I'll see him. Otherwise, the deal's off."
Will scowled at him. "Jack, that's not fair. The Pearl's not neutral ground at all, and you know it."
Jack held up a finger. "Ah, but you're forgettin' - the Pearl'll be a sitting duck so close to Port Royal. Far too easy a mark within reach of the Fort's cannon's, eh?"
Will considered this. "Under cover of night, no one will see her," Will pointed out. "With her black sails, she can come in quite safely. Near enough for the Commodore to row out."
Jack leaned back, shaking his head. "The Commodore is not a fool, son. No way he's going to take this serious - he's more liable to take the opportunity to lay a trap."
Will rolled his eyes. "Not if I'm with him, and accompany him here. And Elizabeth as well."
Jack raised his brows, a helpless grin overcoming him. "What, you two are going to watch? Offer encouragement, p'raps? Sounds like a festive arrangement. Maybe she'll be so entertained, she'll join in the fun, eh? Tell you what, you throw yourself and the lass into the bargain, and I'll agree to this completely insane suggestion of yours."
Will gave him a sardonic look. "That's not quite what we had in mind, Jack."
"Is it not?" He awarded William with a smile. "Dear lad, you really don't know anything about this sort of business, do you? The two of you, you're going about it all the wrong way."
Will folded his arms over his chest and sighed. "Very well, Jack. How is it done?"
Jack got to his feet. "Well, I'll tell you. See, I tell my crew to keep the Pearl out of sight, around the Point. I make my way all by me onesie into Port Royal in dead of night, and when the good Commodore wakes up, there I am, his dream come to life. He gets what he wants, I get what I want, you and your bonny wife get what you want, and come morning, no one's the wiser."
Will laughed quietly, shaking his head. "Very well, if you think that's wise. He may take offense though, and call for help."
"Now why would he be doing that, eh? If he fancies me as much as you say he does?" Jack asked shrewdly. He sat back down and leaned one elbow on the table before him, stroking his chin. "No, I like this idea. Really, mate, I do. Even if you're wrong about him, it's a wonderful idea. I can just picture the expression on his face when he wakes up and finds me standing there."
"Jack," Will said, in a warning voice. "You aren't going to break his heart, are you?"
"What's to break?" Jack asked, lightly. "According to you, his heart's already broken. I'll be doing him a favor and saving him the time and expense and conscience, taking the decision out of his hands. Of course, if you know anything about fishing - you don't, do you?"
"What?" Will was befuddled by the question.
"Never mind. The important thing here is to play it carefully. Can't put out on the first night, unfortunately."
Will frowned. "Why ever not?"
Jack leaned back, and tapped the side of his nose. "If he thinks he's getting it for free, makes it all the less appreciated, savvy?"
Will looked down at the wooden planks beneath his feet. "Very well. I do see your point." He looked back up at Jack, and met his eye. "But don't be cruel, Jack. It wouldn't be right."
Jack merely grinned at him, tilted his head to the right and regarded the young blacksmith. "And what would you know of the proper way to woo a Naval officer, young Will? Particularly one who's been near salivating at the thought of watching me dance my final jig in the air?"
"Well, but he doesn't realize his intentions have been misplaced," Will replied, uncomfortably.
"Does he not?" Jack continued stroking his chin. This outrageously dangerous and stupid scheme the Turners had cooked up was beginning to sound positively irresistible.
Even if they should be wrong about Norrington, it would most likely be incredibly rewarding to go through with it anyway. Who knows; he might steal the Commodore's heart after all, and gain some clemency in possible future engagements, should the Commodore manage to catch him again. Unlikely, seeing as he kept to his Pearl these days… But still, Norrington wasn't just a thorn in the side, he was a pain in the ass.
He sat up. "Very well, Mr. Turner, you've convinced me. Go back home and tell your scheming lass that with a few changes, I've decided to accept her suggestion, and will be calling on Norrington within the week."
Will hesitated. "She's arranged with Norrington, tonight in fact, that you'd be meeting him at the end of the week, come Saturday, at our house."
Jack nearly coughed. "Will! Not good, not good."
"Why not?" Will looked rather offended.
"Far too neutral," Jack explained. "Can't abide that. See, it's got to be either the Pearl, or his bedroom. That's the only way to ensure that the, ah, proper motivation is inspired by the setting."
"Motivation?" Will wasn't following him at all.
"Seduction requires a little more than a handshake," Jack said, impatiently. "Now, you'd prob'ly better be getting back. I've got a house call to make."
"According to Elizabeth," Will muttered, "It was a handshake that started all of this."
Jack paused. "Eh?"
"When you saved her life that day? On the dock?"
"Ah, yes," Jack recalled, for it was true - the Commodore had been downright pushy and sarcastic with him. Hm. This was turning out to be very interesting, indeed. The opportunity for a little fun with Norrington might yield something of value after all. Might be nice to turn the tables on him, for a change. Put Norrington in his place, perhaps. Bloke was a condescending bastard, to be sure.
"Very true. Norrington's always waving his sword in my face. Who knew he was such a flirt?" Jack turned, went to put on his coat and his tricorn'.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Will asked in surprise.
"Told you," Jack grinned at him. "Making a house call."
"Now?" Will exclaimed, his voice nearly squeaking. "Tonight? But- but-"
Jack walked up to him, forcing him to take several steps backwards, towards the door to his cabin. "Now, Will, there's no time like the present." He continued forward, even as Will backed into the door. Staring at him, Jack said, "Why in hell would I wait a week for something I can do right now?"
Will swallowed. "Fine. Fine, but remember, he doesn't know you're coming. He's probably going to be very angry."
"God, I hope so," Jack said, fervently. "Do you mind?" He waited for Will to slide out of his way, then opened the door and didn't bother to see if Will followed.
Gibbs looked up as Jack and Will approached. "Where ye be off to this night, Capn?"
"I'm accompanying Mr. Turner back to shore. For 'is own safety," Jack explained. "I'll mostly likely be gone until dawn." He paused and leaned in to Gibbs with a lower voice, "Probably be under fire, too, so make sure she's ready to sail, eh?"
Gibbs frowned and straightened in seeming understanding. "Aye, Capn. That we will." He turned and said louder, "Capn's going ashore. Make ready the longboat." Lower, he muttered, "'Bout bleedin' time, says I."
Will was laughing quietly and shaking his head. "Jack, you take the cake, you really do."
Jack flung an arm around his shoulders. "Don't worry your head none, Will. It's far better this way."
"How is it better this way?" Will seemed touchingly concerned. "You could still be caught. You could be killed, Jack. How is it worth the risk?"
Jack shook him lightly. "Because, son, the element of surprise is always an advantage. Savvy?"
As Will reflected on this, Jack grinned, wondering if any of them had any idea whatsoever of the opportunity they'd just handed him.
Norrington sat down on the edge of his bed and regarded the stale, dim light that filtered into his room from the window. He'd been unable to stop turning what Elizabeth had revealed to him that afternoon over and over in his mind.
The moon was fading, waning gibbous in the sky and covered frequently by clouds that scudded over its face, matching his troubled thoughts.
It was unlikely in the extreme that Mr. and Mrs. Turner were anything but mistaken about Jack Sparrow's feelings towards the very same man who'd so frequently stated his intent to see him brought to justice.
Now, however, he realized he'd been overstating the matter, and caused loose talk to circulate, no doubt fuelling further gossip concerning his preoccupation with the pirate - after having already let him go that day Sparrow had escaped hanging… Thanks to the Turners' interference, no less!
He glowered to himself, not really sure what to think of Elizabeth's revelation.
It was also highly doubtful that Jack Sparrow had a heart to be broken. He'd already been reunited with his ship, and seemed to take an unhealthy delight in remaining just out of reach, seeming to taunt him in his inability to apprehend the pirate.
Damn. Maybe Elizabeth was right. Was this some sort of absurd courtship ritual Sparrow had embarked upon? Trying to draw him out?
No. It had to be a ruse. It had to be. No doubt with the intention of making a fool of him, somehow. Still, the idea that Jack Sparrow might in fact harbor affection towards him… It was annoying, disturbing and entirely unwanted. Things had been so much simpler before Elizabeth had said those damning, fateful words.
'In love with you.'
Wait, that wasn't quite right. 'Madly in love with you.'
No, that wasn't right, either. He closed his eyes, and cast his mind back to earlier that afternoon in her parlor. He sighed, as the memory of her voice echoed in his ears.
'He's terribly in love with you,' that's what she'd said.
His eyes snapped open in horror. Dear God, it couldn't be true. It simply had to be false conjecture on their part. The thought of that- that deranged menace, that filthy and despicably irritating man, in love with him? Jesus.
And he had to shut his eyes once more at the heat that rose to his face at this.
He was disgusted at his discovery that he in actuality wanted to believe it might be true - only for the flattery of it, he silently added quickly on the heels of that thought.
After Elizabeth's final rejection of him for Mr. Turner, and then to have thrown himself into somehow finding a way to catch Sparrow, he realized he might have gone too far the other way, seeking to assuage his dejection at losing her with the hope of catching Jack Sparrow. Perhaps people were right to imagine there was something more to it, particularly if Jack himself was in-
He couldn't think it. No. If Jack had feelings for him, he amended.
William Turner might have leanings towards piracy, considering his father's legacy, but he was an honest man. Untried, perhaps, but not dishonest. He wouldn't lie about his pirate friend…unless that same pirate asked him to, perhaps. But to what end?
It was too neat, too dramatic. Elizabeth had played it well enough to be believed, he had to admit. It was unlikely that this entire affair was anything but a ruse on Jack's part to get him to lower his guard. Of course the Turners would comply with anything Jack could convince them was for his personal safety.
After all, Norrington knew - as most of the town and his own men suspected already - that Jack was meeting with both of them routinely, daring Norrington to attempt to catch him either coming or going.
Truth was, the pirate was slippery and unpredictable. He'd never been able to ascertain anything, and when asked, both Turners had simply played the fool.
Now he was the one being played for a fool. He groaned, and lay back into his pillows, sinking back against them, knowing sleep would probably be a long time coming this night. Yet again.
He tried to take deep, even, calming breaths, willing himself to relax. Trying to dispel the thought of Jack Sparrow's dark eyes from his mind. That disturbing smile of his. Sparrow had always, in their every encounter, adopted a deceptively appealing manner, entirely too outrageous to be taken seriously, yet jesting in such a way that Norrington had to admit was an act in itself.
As he began to slip into his reverie, Norrington smiled to himself in spite of the abhorrently disconcerting nature of his daydream. Jack Sparrow, indeed.
The fellow was foolish, troublesome and entirely a pirate, through and through. Yet, for all that, he did have a winsome way about him.
"Tonight?" Elizabeth gasped. "Oh, no!"
Will nodded, glumly. "I'm afraid so. He's probably already there, right now."
Pacing the floor, she stammered, concernedly, "We- we have to do something! Something. They'll kill each other! It's too soon! We only just told them today! They haven't had any time to think it over!"
Will shrugged. "They know their own minds. Why do they need time to think it over?"
"Because!" she exclaimed. "Unless it's sat inside them for at least a few days, it hasn't had time to settle, and they haven't had a chance to brood over each other. By Saturday, they would have grown more worried about it. It took us years to work ourselves into a state, remember?"
"Yes, well, but we were children," he reminded her. "And they've had months, after all. We've merely struck the spark to what they've been gathering already. And you said it yourself, Norrington's been brooding over Jack since he left."
Elizabeth pressed her knuckles to her lips. "I hope you're right. But I think we should do something, just in case. You go back to the Pearl, and take these," she said, scrabbling suddenly in the direction of their cabinet, "with you. They'll help us if we offer gold."
Will was laughing. "Elizabeth, what are you doing?"
Elizabeth drew herself up, staring back at him, the white showing around her eyes, like a scared rabbit. "Will, don't you see? They're both going to be coming for us unless we do something?! If they compare stories?"
Will stopped as her words thundered into him with their import. "God, you're right. Give me those," he commanded, realizing she was probably right. Norrington would not be happy at all. And somehow, he didn't think Jack would be, either.
Elizabeth began ringing the bell, hard.
"What are you doing?" he demanded. "We don't want anyone knowing we've left."
"We have to call the maid to send word to my father," she hissed, urgently. "We're going on our honeymoon. Tonight, courtesy of our friends: the Commodore and the Black Pearl. She'll help me pack. You go to the Pearl - I'll join you there in an hour more, once I've dealt with James." She sighed. "I'll have to have the footman and the butler, as well. Damn."
At the sudden noise, Norrington sat up with a start. Blinking sleep from his eyes, he frowned in the direction from where it had originated.
The single candle had dwindled low, but it still provided enough light to betray the identity of his unwelcome visitor. Recognition flared through Norrington, filling him with anger, and a measure of something else. Something unwanted. He didn't dare discover what it was at the moment, not when his adversary stood in his own bedroom with a mocking and smug expression.
"You!" Norrington said, accusingly.
Jack grinned, infuriatingly. "I take it you're not very happy to see me, then?"
"Certainly not," Norrington stated, his lip curling in distaste.
"Ah, good. Makes this so much pleasanter." Jack sauntered closer, right up the edge of the bed. Jack's eyes, usually outlined so darkly, appeared positively unholy in the dim light.
Norrington sighed. "What do you want?"
"Now, perhaps I'm leaping to conclusions, but I'd rather thought it was more what you wanted, mate." Jack considered him, looking down at him with a complacent expression, as if they were meeting in the street, and not in Norrington's bedroom.
Norrington stifled a comment at this. "What I want," he stressed, "is to get a little sleep. I suppose that is too much to hope for, at this point."
Jack nodded, as if in understanding. "Insomnia. My sympathies." Jack brightened, and held up a hand. "I know just the thing-"
"If you say rum, my next words will be to rouse the alarm," Norrington promised him.
Jack shook his head and sat down on the edge of the bed, to Norrington's distress. "Don't bother, mate. I've taken the liberty of sending your housekeeper and her man to their own beddy-byes. T'was a bit premature, I'll admit." He squinted in apology. "But necessary, as it were, to gain admittance to your residence."
Norrington frowned. "Then why climb in my window?"
"That's how it's supposed to be done, innit?" Jack inquired, saucily. Then he drew his sword.
Norrington regarded it with some concern. Carefully, he asked, "How what is done, precisely?"
Jack followed his gaze, looked down at his sword, then back up at Norrington. "Seeing as you're always waving your sword in my face, figured 'tis only fair I have a go, eh?" He smiled, taking the threat out of his words completely and rendering himself rather… amenable to discussion.
Norrington pounced on this opportunity to insert some badly needed statements. "Whatever your intent and purpose is, in coming here and threatening me, I'll have you know that the guard is changed just after midnight, which I believe is imminent. Further, if you don't put that sword away, I shall be forced to-"
Jack tutted at him, and waved the sword at him, causing him to press himself deeper into his pillows to avoid getting his throat pricked on the sharp tip. "You've made rather a nuisance of yourself of late, and not just for me. The Turners, for example, have got it into their heads I'm supposed to be meeting up with yourself for romantic interludes in their parlor."
Despite the sword, which was still pointing unerringly at his neck, Norrington smiled grimly. "Indeed. I'm glad to have made such an impression on you, Sparrow. I can promise you I have absolutely no intention of engaging in any romantic interludes with you."
"Good. I find the idea of tea rather redundant." Jack cocked his head at him and gave him an inappropriate smile. "No interludes?"
"None," Norrington confirmed.
Jack looked down, and then added, "No parlor?"
"No parlor," Norrington said, firmly.
Jack didn't seem put out by this in the least. "Just as well I came by tonight, then, eh?"
"I cannot prove, of course, that you've committed acts of piracy of late, but I reckon you can't keep your crew satisfied, sitting in the vicinity of Port Royal forever," Norrington commented. "So you must be preying on ships nearby, along the trading routes."
Jack grinned cheekily at him. "Now that would be telling, wouldn't it?"
The knowledge that just seeing Jack Sparrow again was causing a measure of relief and happiness to stir within him was enough to rattle Norrington's composure. His face darkened and he sat up straighter, regardless of Jack's sword.
"Ah, ah," Jack shook his head. "Careful, love. You don't want to make a scene, do you?"
Norrington had had enough. "Stop bedeviling me and just be done with it!" he snapped.
Jack appeared to be genuinely perplexed by this. "Be done with what?"
Norrington regarded him. It began to dawn on him that maybe Jack wasn't being coy, but in fact was not here to plague him. In a romantic sense, he hastened to add to that thought. Perhaps Jack was merely following up on some bizarre notion of mischief and wasn't in love with him at all.
He visibly relaxed and commented wryly, "If you've come to kill me, get it over with. If you're here to make a point, you've made it. Either way, you've interrupted my much-needed sleep. And before you suggest it again, I don't find rum helps a great deal in that regard. Now, unless you intend to tell me what you want, I suggest you get the hell out of my bedchamber and leave the way you came."
Jack didn't drop the sword, but he did glance back at the window. "Wasn't pleasant, coming up that way, must admit. Thought I'd leave by the door on my way out."
Norrington waited, growing bored with the entire situation. It was rather farcical, really.
Jack turned back to him. "So, I take it you're properly upset by the inconvenience of my intrusion?"
"Indeed," Norrington said agreeably, in a calm and dry tone. "Very distressed. But I rather think I'll recover."
Jack grinned, the gold glinting wickedly. "Well, can't have that, now, can we? Suppose I up the stakes a little?" With a deft flick of his blade, he nicked off the top button of Norrington's shirt.
The collar was already open, for which Norrington was grateful; else Jack probably would have slit it open. He frowned. "That was unnecessary, don't you think?"
"On the contrary," Jack disagreed, "I think leaving you with some actual, real bedevilment is in order, to ponder once I've left you -" the blade flicked again, lower this time, removing the next button down. "- all on your ownsome." He gave Norrington an apologetic smile and then flicked off the button below that.
Norrington sighed. "If you want me to remove it, you could just say so."
Jack shook his head. "This way's more amusing, and will provide your housekeeper with something to keep her occupied tomorrow, while she contemplates her distressing experience of being ambushed in your hallway tonight." The next button fell victim to Jack's blade.
Norrington gave him a warning glance. "I certainly hope you don't intend to give my breeches the same treatment."
"I hadn't, actually," Jack admitted, with a thoughtful perusal of his once-more-taut form. "But it's a worthy suggestion. Thanks." He continued, almost casually, with his debuttoning of Norrington's shirt, two more joining their fellows.
With a sour expression, Norrington commented, "If you were so starved for attention, I'm surprised you didn't just sack the town. Your ship has managed it before, after all, under cover of dark."
Flick. Another button joined their mates. "I did give 'at some thought, now that you mention it," Jack agreed. "However, the additional cannons and guards at the dock rather changed me mind. Expect you're going to place more men around your cozy habitat, 'ere too, once I've gone, eh?"
"Naturally," Norrington agreed, wryly. "To protect my clothing, if nothing else."
"And your honor, and sundry items," Jack said loosely, removing something shiny from his pocket.
"That's mine," Norrington protested, seeing Jack had liberated his compass from his desk downstairs in his study.
"Now, now. You can't expect me to go to all this trouble and not expect a little something for it, mate," chided Jack, as if he had every right. "'Sides, 'twas yourself mentioned I didn't have one 'at worked, eh?" He grinned, and regarded it. "I truly, honestly and sincerely hope it has sentimental value."
Norrington sighed bitterly. "It does, as a matter of fact."
Flick. The remainder of his buttons were growing sparse. "Excellent."
"Why?" Norrington demanded.
"Because maybe then you'll expend a teensy bit more effort in getting it back," Jack explained. "Perhaps more motivation than you've had so far in just me and my ship…" He gave him a knowing smile and added, "Apparently the entire town's already aware of what the Turners have only just discovered."
Norrington had to force himself to remain calm. Insufferable man. And now to his alarm and dismay, he found the heat rising in his face as he realized it was the most awkward situation he could think of in which to find himself growing aroused.
"Take it and leave, then," he growled, unaccountably praying silently that Jack wouldn't notice his awkward state.
Jack appeared to consider this, and looked down at the compass, slipped it back into his pocket, and said, musingly, "Doesn't seem fair, somehow, does it?" He gestured with the sword, causing Norrington to swallow. "Leaving you with nothing but a stolen compass and some loose threads to come after me for." He seemed to come to a decision within himself. "So, you can go ahead and take off the shirt."
As Norrington glared at him, Jack raised his brows and repeated, lower, "Off."
With a sigh, Norrington began to comply. He wondered what Jack would do if he refused. Still, it was one of his favorite shirts and he didn't fancy having it slashed to ribbons, buttons or no. He began to remove it, trying to ignore Jack's inane grin as the pirate watched him take it off.
"That's it, love. Nice," he commented, in approval. "Now the breeches. Take them off as well."
But Norrington was having none of it. "Do it yourself. I'm not playing your game, Sparrow."
Jack abruptly leaned in close, the blade edging sideways to lean right along Norrington's neck. He pressed himself back into the pillows, hard, to avoid the sword. Suddenly he found he couldn't breathe, what with the sword threatening his throat and Jack looming over him.
Too close. Far too close.
Jack's eyes were far too dark, and burning into his. Norrington grew aware of a note of rising panic from somewhere inside of him, originating somewhere in the region of his groin and trickling along his bloodstream.
And Jack's voice was caressing his ears, far too intimate and whispering silkily, "P'raps you're right, Commodore. A task that interesting's probably best attempted by an expert, wouldn't you say?"
Norrington still couldn't breathe, and couldn't reply, for the very good reason that Jack's very warm and sure hand was moving slowly down his stomach, to the laces of his breeches. Without taking his eyes from Norrington's, Jack's smile widened, his eyes narrowing, his fingers busy with the laces.
Norrington suppressed the urge to reach up and grab at Jack's sword arm - in fact, both arms. To still that damnably wicked hand that was moving too lightly and, yes, expertly. But he realized he didn't dare, because at the moment, he really wasn't sure if he wanted Jack to stop. Or that he'd actually try to grab him - not to make him stop but instead to pull Jack towards him. Too close.
And still looking up into Jack's eyes, Norrington felt a shaft of misgiving surge deeply into him at the realization that he did not want to see Jack hang after all. To make matters worse, he discovered he found the presence of that damned sword more of a nuisance than Jack's, and he wanted rid of it between them. He couldn't help dropping his gaze to Jack's mouth.
Lips, far too sensuous, mocking, always mocking while also somehow inviting.
It was too much, the heat and the need, suddenly. Jack was too close.
Jack let up the pressure a little and withdrew his hand, never having exerted much of a touch against him and only to undo the laces, entirely aware of his confined and aroused state. "There. Now take 'em off."
Norrington's frown deepened. "You are a devil." But he began to comply, bravely attempting to fight the uncertain fear and simultaneous desire that raced over him at Jack's command.
Jack shrugged lightly. "Not devil enough, though, eh, mate? Not enough to have my way with you, certainly."
Norrington stopped, his hands only reaching the top of his breeches, not yet having begun to remove them. "What do you mean?"
"You're enjoying this a little too much, if you take my meaning," Jack explained, with a nod of his head in the direction of Norrington's breeches. "Besides, I'm a gentleman. After all, we've got to save some for next time. You can keep the breeches, but I'll be taking the shirt and buttons. I expect I'll have the Turners sew them back on for you, in recompense for the inconvenience they've caused the both of us, with their meddling."
Norrington frowned, uncomprehending of Jack's reason for suddenly backing out of this… clinch with him. The disappointment was real enough; he wondered if it showed in his expression. He hoped not. It was bad enough, feeling the heat in his face and knowing it must be visible to the pirate, even in the dimly-lit room.
With a sunny grin, Jack got up, removing the sword from Norrington's throat, and grabbed up the shirt. Ignoring Norrington's disappointed and outraged dignity, he began collecting up the buttons, saying nonchalantly, "With no romantic interludes or parlor rendezvous, I daresay it'll be difficult getting these back, eh?"
It began to dawn on Norrington that Jack was merely playing for effect. He let his mouth curl with disdain, trying to ignore the tremors that still had hold of his hands. "There's a word for women who play games like the one you're playing."
"Quite right," Jack agreed, not caring in the least. "As I already said; we've got to leave something for next time, as well as something worth pursuing."
"I could see you hang for this. I will, yet. Doesn't that bother you in the slightest? Why tempt fate, Sparrow?"
Jack appeared to give this the consideration it deserved. "If it's meant to happen, it'll happen. So far, it hasn't happened." He gave him a little nod, and then cheerily said, "It's been a pleasure, mate. Until next time." He saluted him with the sword, and went to the door.
Surprised, Norrington watched him quickly leave as Jack shut the door behind himself, before realizing he had absolutely no intention of calling the guards, or stopping Sparrow from departing. Or even intercepting him before he could return to his ship.
Even more distressing was the knowledge that he didn't want him to leave at all and that the entire 'interlude' hadn't taken very much time. Not nearly enough. To have not seen the pirate in months, and now just this swift encounter, with all the confusing heat and that annoying tidbit Elizabeth had mentioned earlier in the day… It all added up to an infuriating ache, but whether it was in his groin, his heart, or his head, he wasn't sure.
He sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and put his head in his hands.
Dismal state of affairs, very dismal. Appalling, really. And confusing. If Jack wanted him, why was he playing hard to get? He had the unaccountable feeling that he'd done something wrong somewhere along the line. But he had absolutely no idea what.
There was something in it though. The way Jack had behaved, it was almost as if… he knew Norrington wouldn't act. Not against him, anyway.
Anger, and embarrassment swept through him.
The impulse to go after him wasn't exactly composed of the need to catch him so much as hold onto him and stop him from going, and have Jack finish what he'd started. Bastard, bastard! Norrington thought viciously. Sparrow knew damn well what he'd been doing.
He knew now that Jack was perfectly aware that Norrington believed Jack was in love with him - which was why he'd behave so outrageously without any fear of immediate reparations.
And to be painfully honest, it hurt, in the wake of Jack's departure, that it was just a game. As the hurt grew, he swallowed it back, and drew a breath. He'd been played. It literally was that simple. He got up, retrieving another shirt and donning it, dressing once more.
There was only one way he was going to see this unhappy situation through to any kind of satisfactory conclusion. First, however, he was going to have words with the Turners. He was done being lenient on their behalf, or Jack's behalf, or anyone's. Least of all his own.
He would see Jack brought down this time. And this time, it was personal.
He carefully ignored the little voice in the back of his mind that whispered to him, unhappily sounding much like Jack's, that it always had been.
Jack climbed over the edge of the boat and made his way onto the deck of the Pearl.
Some of the crew wore strange expressions, he noticed. Probably wondering why he was back so soon, he thought.
It was the last one he had, as something hard and heavy suddenly hit him in the back of the head and blackness swallowed him.
When he came to, he was lying in the brig with a knot that was nicely developed on the back of his skull. With a wince, he felt at it. Why, oh why, did everyone have to hit him on the head all the time? If it wasn't the lasses slapping him everywhere he went, or Will Turner with an oar, or… Come to think of it, what was he doing in the brig?
Clambering unsteadily to his feet, he glanced around his cell. Deserted. And barely a sound from topside. The swaying of the ship told him they were either trapped in the bay during a squall, or they were out quite far already. He bent to examine the lay of the land, as it were, through the peephole in the hull. His eyes widened in consternation as he saw it was already morning, and they were making way right out to sea.
Frowning, he turned as someone came down the ladder. They were joined by others, and a grunt, as if from someone carrying something heavy.
"Careful wif' 'im, now," came a voice.
"Don't damage 'im," Anamaria put in, her strident voice unmistakable.
"I'm not entirely happy about this," came another voice.
Jack grimaced. Will?
"At this point, there's not anything we can do about it," came the reply from none other than Elizabeth, who now appeared before Jack's cell. "Well. Jack. I'm glad you're awake. I thought maybe I'd hit you too hard."
"Aye," he agreed, angrily. "Too hard, indeed." Now he saw what it was they were bearing. Or rather, who. Norrington.
A sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach told him this was not good at all. "What, exactly, am I doing down here? What are you doing up there, and why is he here?" he asked, despite the certainty that he wasn't going to like the answer very much. "And where are we?"
Elizabeth was flustered, angry, and it appeared as though she'd had no sleep. "You're here because I've commandeered your ship. Will and I, that is. And Norrington is here for security. We're on our way out to sea. For a cruise."
"That's bloody fascinating. You still haven't explained 'why'," Jack repeated, carefully. "Why have you stolen my ship?"
"Borrowed without permission," Anamaria corrected him with an acidic smile.
"We've decided we're going to honeymoon aboard the Black Pearl," Will said. "We hadn't meant to, but it's become a necessity, I'm afraid."
Jack raised his brows. "Oh. Right then. That's…lovely. Really, it is. But - that still doesn't explain why I'm in here, and he's," Jack waved at Norrington, "there, and you're here, and we're heading somewhere 'at my crew certainly hasn't been told from their rightful captain."
Anamaria gave him a hard look. "We're tired of sitting around waiting for 'im to catch us and dance on his gallows, just because he's got a bug up 'is arse. The Turners, 'ere', they're offerin' real gold, real pay, to keep you in here for a while and settle your differences with the Commodore. We get 'im settled, no more Port Royal, no more gallows, no more hanging around doing NOTHING while you drink rum and order us about. Savvy?" She scowled at him with stubborn and fierce determination.
Jack shook his head. He considered this, and looked at Will. "Will, lad, am I to believe you've paid my crew to mutiny?"
"Actually, technically, we've borrowed your ship, Captain." Will was stalwart, calm, and - as ever - earnest. "We've hired the Pearl's services to provide us with a safe escort through possibly pirate-infested waters. Norrington's presence aboard will confirm it to anyone who asks later. Once we're well away from Port Royal or the possible event of Norrington's attempts to escape, we'll turn the command of the Pearl back over to you. No harm done."
"Oh, is that all? Did it occur to either of you that you bloody well could've just asked?" he glared at them.
"That's not all, I'm afraid," Elizabeth said. With a nod of her head, she motioned to the two crewmen who had propped up the still-unconscious Commodore. "Put him in with Jack."
Anamaria held a pistol, and then unlocked and opened the door of the cell. Jack eyed her warily. This was far from good.
Sure enough, they brought the Commodore into his cell and laid him out, then left, Anamaria quickly locking the cell once more. "Have fun, Captain," she said with a jaunty grin, and left them.
Jack sighed. "Elizabeth," he began, cautiously. As she turned to face him, he continued, "Why, precisely, was it that you decided to knock me out, steal my ship, kidnap Norrington and throw us in here?"
"Because it's safer for everyone concerned, all around, if the two of you learn to get along," she replied, in a sensible voice.
"Ah. Right then. And, why are we in here?" he asked, indicating the cell with a wave of his hands.
Will grinned at him. "It'll be a lot harder for him to avoid you this way."
Jack gave a quiet laugh, not amused in the slightest with this explanation. "Did I do something to upset the two of you, or…"
Elizabeth smirked at him, folding her arms over her bosom. "Admit it, Jack. You've both been needing an opportunity like this one. Make the most of it. It's for your own good, after all. And his. And ours. Even your crew. Everyone benefits."
Jack scowled, puzzled. "I fail to see any benefit for myself in this unlikely situation. He's more like to strangle me when he comes to."
Will looked down at the unconscious Norrington, and back up at Jack. "We have every reason to believe you'll be able to convince him not to."
"Besides, we have faith in your ability to charm him appropriately, to at least not do you bodily injury, Captain Sparrow," Elizabeth said, an entirely impish expression taking over her face. "We'll be back later, once you've explained to him the predicament you're both in."
Jack watched in disbelief as they smiled at him, turned, and left him alone with the silent form of Norrington.
Bloody marvelous. Unbelievable. He went and sat down at the back of the cell, his back against the wood, wondering what the hell he was going to tell Norrington that might persuade the Commodore that it was not his fault, for once.
Norrington was going to be furious and unmanageable, most likely. Which was a shame really, because he was more fetching when he was smiling, even if he did tend to do so with an inordinate amount of cynicism and suspicion where Jack was concerned.
Hm. Perhaps this might be more interesting than he'd thought. A small smile crept onto him as he realized maybe the Turners were smarter than he'd given them credit for.
Norrington awoke to a most disagreeable sensation. The floor was moving beneath him and his head hurt.
"Well, that's about time, I'd say."
Norrington groaned. Jack Sparrow. Of course. Why would it be anyone else? He lifted his head, and regarded the cell he was in. Aboard a ship, as far as he could ascertain. "Why am I in the brig?" he demanded of his unseen captor, propping himself up on both elbows.
Behind him, Jack said coolly, "That is the single most interesting question in the world, mate. I haven't quite figured it out, myself."
Confused, Norrington raised himself up and looked over at Jack. "We're in here together?" he asked, sharply. "How- why? Who's responsible for this?"
Jack heaved a sigh. "The Turners have taken it into their little heads that we're supposed to get along. They've commandeered my ship," he paused. "Excuse me. 'Borrowed without permission'," he corrected, with exaggeration. "And now they're on their honeymoon on some godforsaken course to nowhere in the middle of the bleeding Atlantic while we're to stay in here and somehow try to… 'get along'," he enunciated sarcastically.
At Norrington's glare of confusion and anger, Jack added, "Apparently, they've taken offense to their dear friends - that's you and me, mate - arguing between ourselves about whether or not I should be hanged." He gave Norrington a grin, at this. "They've kidnapped you for security, as well. To make it look good when they return. Using my reputation - and my Pearl as an escort, what's more."
Jack Sparrow sounded bitter, which surprised Norrington.
He sat up, and leaned back against the bars, gingerly holding the back of his head. The last thing he'd remembered was knocking on the door of the Turner's home, being let in by Elizabeth, and then receiving a rather shocking and unexpected blow to the back of his head, followed by a large blanket being thrown over him.
"This is…" he began. "It's completely unacceptable."
"To be sure," Jack agreed.
"They won't get away with it," Norrington avowed.
"Certainly not," Jack put in.
Cold anger had hold of him now. "Those two have gone too far. I've had it with their diversions and their attitude. Their behavior is entirely out of order."
"Entirely," Jack nodded.
"It's about time someone took them in hand. Governor Swann allows both of them far too much latitude."
"Too much, indeed," Jack said.
"And you," Norrington said, pinning Jack with a hostile glare. "It's your fault they've come to this."
Jack cast his eyes heavenward. "Of course it is." He pursed his lips, put his finger to his chin and with narrowed eyes, regarded Norrington. "Or is it? Seems I remember last night you saying something about not having any romantic interludes, eh?"
"Damn right," Norrington said, fervently.
Jack idly brushed invisible dust off the knee of his breeches. "Far be it from me to contradict you, Mr. Norrington, sir, but I distinctly recall Will and Elizabeth saying something about 'getting along'. Or was it, 'we've been needing an opportunity such as this one', to learn how to?"
Norrington considered this. "What the hell are you driving at?"
Innocently, Jack looked back him, matching his glare with a placid expression. "Look at it this way: this is an interlude if ever I saw one. And considering the nature of our trip, what with their honeymoon, it's even a romantic one. Once we can convince 'em as to your complicity with this brilliantly stupid idea of theirs of getting us to get along with each other, and let us out… We can retire to my cabin, have a drink and a laugh, with them in the brig, and make back for Port Royal. What say you to that?"
Norrington thought it over for perhaps three seconds. "Very well."
"Excellent," Jack beamed. "We have an accord, then?" He offered his hand.
"I suppose we do," Norrington admitted, distastefully. He took Jack's hand and shook it.
Jack didn't let go, though. "Although, there's just one thing."
Norrington frowned at him, and finally wrenched his hand back, out of Jack's grasp. "Why am I not surprised?" he stated, dryly.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't have you put back in here, also, eh?"
Norrington smiled, grimly, and nodded. "Quite right. If you can't trust the word of an officer of the fleet, there's no reason why I should trust yours. I suppose we're at an impasse then, Mr. Sparrow."
"No call to be rude, mate," Jack muttered.
Norrington lifted a brow at him. "'Mr. Commodore?'" he repeated.
Jack laughed. "Right. Carry on. No, really, continue, please. Loving every minute of this, I am."
"Yes, I expect you would be," Norrington commented, darkly.
Jack squinted at him and pulled a face. "The word 'irony' doesn't mean anything to you, obviously. You've got some bloody nerve to be calling it my fault we're in here, mate, what with you rampaging around Jamaican waters dropping my name and the name of me ship with impunity. My reputation hasn't exactly suffered, but there's been a distinct lack of profit, thanks to you. And now we're in here, courtesy of the Turners, and all because you have some perverse desire to watch me die."
Stiffly, Norrington straightened. "I do not."
"You don't?" Jack asked. "I beg to differ."
"I have no wish to watch you die, merely to see justice done." But now the sentiment rang hollow in his own ears and Norrington wondered if they even carried any conviction for himself, let alone the man who'd he'd once sworn to see dangle from the noose.
Truth be told, he was damnably glad to have the opportunity to see him again. Norrington frowned, growing angry with himself, with Jack, and with the meddlesome Turners once more, at this.
Jack shrugged. "Suit yourself. I'd thought it was because you couldn't stand knowing I was out of reach."
"What do you mean, out of reach?"
"Out of range," Jack supplied, which was even less helpful. At Norrington's blank look, he added, "Look, it's like we discussed last night, eh? Once I'm gone, the chase is over. And, as everyone already knows, you let me go last time. You could have pursued the matter, attacked the Pearl, and caught up with me." Jack gave him a knowing grin.
Norrington looked down. "I suppose you're right. Yet, that's hardly an excuse for your continuing career as a pirate. I may have looked the other way, previously, but I am bound by the law, whereas you choose to live outside it."
"Begging your pardon," Jack said with a hint of a bite to his words, "You seem to pick and choose as to when and where, and to whom the law will apply. Hardly fitting behavior for a commodore of the fleet, but then, not very surprising either, considering the Navy's continued support for whatever pirates will give up a choice selection of their plunder to them, in return for their Letters of Marque."
Norrington's lips twisted, knowing the pirate was right. "I'll concede that, if you'll admit that your general lawlessness and depravity, licentiousness and plundering renders you an outlaw in the main and susceptible to the arm of justice."
Jack laughed at him. "Why don't you get to the point, Commodore?"
"I thought I already had, pirate." Norrington was deceptively calm. Inside, he was angry afresh at the thought that he'd somehow found himself in a situation where there literally was no law other than what the dubious 'crew' decided might apply. And the Turner couple, who, quite frankly, were entirely out of control.
Jack looked as though he was about to reply, but the noise of people coming down the ladder interrupted them.
Norrington stood up. Jack remained sitting.
Will and Elizabeth came to stand before their cell, accompanied by a crewman who seemed to be completely unsurprised by anything he was witnessing, bearing a tray of apples, with a pitcher of fresh water.
Jack grimaced in horror. "No rum, even?" He scowled at Elizabeth. "The conditions in your brig are appalling."
"Well, those are my conditions - you'll just have to accept them," Elizabeth stated, smartly.
Will gave her a worried look. "We can't starve them."
"You're right, unfortunately. It'll take longer, though." Elizabeth sounded impatient. She addressed Norrington. "If you don't behave, and start learning how to get along, you'll just be in here even longer."
Norrington regarded her, guardedly. "What do you want from us?"
Elizabeth said plainly, "I want to see you both learn to get along and be friends. Put your differences behind you. I suspect Jack would be quite happy to, except you're being really stubborn about it. You're truly too proud for your own good sometimes, James."
Norrington stared back at her, bemused. "You're mad." He looked between her and Will, who looked suspiciously as though he were trying not to laugh. "You both are."
Jack gave her a curious look. "It's a personal question, love, but are you with child? The condition does seem to have adverse affects on the female mind."
Will stared at Jack, his eyes widening, then went back to the girl at his side. Jack grinned and got to his feet.
Norrington demanded, "Why didn't you just maroon us on an island somewhere, and come by to pick us up later?"
Will admitted, "We thought of that, but Elizabeth would have none of it."
"Would have been much more humane," Jack commented.
"You forget, Captain Sparrow. I've been marooned with you before." Elizabeth smiled him. It wasn't exactly pleasant. "This way is better; less space to avoid each other."
Norrington smiled, his head down. Shaking his head slowly, he looked up at Will and Elizabeth. "You are both in very deep trouble. Way beyond anything you can imagine. You have no idea what you've done."
Elizabeth regarded him coolly. "Neither does anyone else, so if I were you, I'd start cooperating. Both of you are going to remain here until you kiss and make up."
Norrington gaped at her. "I beg your pardon?"
"Oh, I mean it, James. Quite literally," she said, in a more severe tone.
With a puzzled look, Jack regarded Elizabeth, then turned to Norrington and put an arm around him with a grin. "Is that all?"
Norrington stiffened. "If you wish to keep your arm attached to your body, I suggest you remove it." He pulled away from the irritating pirate, with as much dignity as he could muster under the circumstances.
Elizabeth watched this exchange. "Well, Jack; I think you've got your work cut out for you. Neither of you will leave here until you've proven to us that you've truly resolved your differences."
"Our differences?" Norrington asked, in disbelief.
Elizabeth continued to stare back at him, her face set, along with her mind. "It's really quite simple. You're both friends of ours, and it simply won't do for you to constantly be talking about killing Jack. We won't stand for it. Will we, my dear?"
She turned and looked at Will, who coughed behind his hand, obviously stifling a laugh.
"No, my love, we won't."
Norrington contemplated them sadly. It was obvious the girl had been married too young. And Mr. Turner was no better - the boy was standing there with a curious, indulgent look on his face as he regarded their two prisoners.
"What, exactly, is it that you're wanting us to do, eh?" Jack asked her, in curiosity.
Elizabeth raised her brows. "Kiss each other. What else?"
"Ah." Jack looked away. "That does present a bit of a problem, does it not? Seeing as the good Commodore here would rather starve to death?"
"That's your problem, not mine, Jack." Elizabeth regarded him coolly. "You'll just have to try harder to convince him of what we all know to already be true."
She turned away, and took the arm Will offered her. Will gave a little bow in their direction with a smirk, and said, "Good day, gentlemen. I hope we'll find you in a better mood this evening."
"Mr. Turner! Mr. Turner!" Norrington shouted after them. "Elizabeth! You can't do this!" he shouted, helplessly.
Jack went and sat back down on the floor, his back against the wall, and crossed his boots in front of him, his legs outstretched. "Save your breath, mate. They're having too much fun with it, eh? Don't give 'em the satisfaction."
Norrington stood with impotent fury by the bars, clutching them tightly with both hands. The crewman looked wary, unwilling to approach while Norrington glared at him.
"It's like this, James," Jack said. "They've got their newfound bliss and now they want everyone else around them to be just as happy. So they're playing matchmaker."
With bitter fury rising in his throat, Norrington turned on Jack. "Don't ever call me that again."
Jack raised his brows. Then he smiled. "Didn't know your first name, before. You've known mine since before we met. Now we're square."
"Shut up," Norrington ordered. He accepted the food that the crewman handed to him through the bars, and the small jug of water. "Thank you," he said, coldly. With a curt nod and what looked suspiciously like a duck of the head to hide an amused grin, the crewman left.
Jack clapped his hands together. "Apples. Good girl, didn't think she'd be so kind. Love apples," he ground to a halt as Norrington glowered at him. "Really, I do. That's no lie. Grown rather partial to them, as a matter of fact."
Norrington gave him an icy glare. "What part of 'shut up' do you not understand?"
Jack wore a wounded expression, accepting the apple Norrington handed him with caution. "Was only making conversation. Loosen your breeches a bit, eh?" He appeared to give this further thought, taking his place once more at the back of the cell against the hull. "Although, if dear Elizabeth really does plan on starvin' us until you give in to the inevitable, we'll both find our leptogenic diet will slacken us more than our breeches can handle, mate."
"Give in? The only inevitability facing us is that you'll find the bucket over your head if you don't give it a rest, Sparrow. I'm in no mood for your japing."
Jack frowned at him, confused. "Why are you making such a fuss over a kiss? You're the one who wants it, after all."
"Don't flatter yourself," Norrington said, caustically. "It's you who harbors this- this unnatural, insane notion. Not I."
Jack sat up. "Hold on. T'weren't me at all, mate. Was your own self after me, Will said."
"Will said? Will said?!" Norrington said, angrily. "Mrs. Turner informed me it was your heart that was breaking, over me."
Jack flopped back with a grin, polishing his apple on his other sleeve. "Ah, it's all growing clearer now."
Norrington froze. "Wait, are you suggesting they planned this?"
"Wouldn't put it past them. Their 'married' now," Jack gesticulated fancily. "And want to share the good fortune with everyone." He shot a sharp look at Norrington. "You really didn't know?"
Norrington sat down and began to laugh, despondently. "I see," he nodded. "Very well. In that case, perhaps you're right after all. Maybe we'd better play along."
Taking another bite of his apple, Jack suggested, "We'd better practice first."
Norrington shot him an irritated glare at this. "What for?"
He shrugged, chewing. "Seeing the mood that lass is in, and the fact that young Will there is next to useless, finding it all so damned amusing, and with my crew behaving so mutinously, if we don't make it look good, they're likely to keep us in here for the whole trip." He considered his apple. "Or worse, if they let us out and we have a problem or misunderstanding, might even put us back in here, eh?"
Norrington nodded. "You're probably right." He considered his own apple, and bit into it with a resigned sigh. Somehow, the thought of kissing Jack was hardly as tempting as it had been the previous night. It seemed sordid, out of place and entirely awkward.
Jack had a point, indeed. In his own current mood, it was unlikely to appear to Elizabeth or her ridiculous husband that he and Jack were genuinely 'getting along'.
"So you're not in love with me after all, then?" Jack inquired.
Norrington sniffed and rubbed the apple against his knee, buffing it. "No more than you are with me," he said, sardonically.
Jack nodded, seeming to accept this. Norrington gave a brief smile, waiting for it. He knew Jack couldn't pass up talking a subject like this one to death, especially if it afforded some source of amusement to him.
Sure enough, Jack commented, "Pity, really. Could've been fun."
Norrington gave him a withering look. "I find it hard to imagine you loving anyone more than you already love yourself."
Jack didn't say anything to that, but a slow grin went over him.
Norrington found himself absurdly grateful for the sudden silence. Peace at last. Some quiet, and maybe they would both get through this alive, without him falling prey to the impulse to throttle Jack-
"Still, leaves it wide open, what with my already having fallen for you, eh? So you must love me quite a bit."
Jack commenced eating his apple after dropping this volatile comment.
Norrington stared at him with distaste. "You don't love me." He stated it with absolute certainty.
"Says you," Jack smiled at him fondly, before taking another bite.
Norrington sighed. He was trapped in a cell with a madman.
Jack carried on. "Starting to think you're quite fond of me, actually. Although come to think of it, I suspect you've felt this way from the beginning."
Norrington raised a brow at him. "From the first, I've found you overconfident, untrustworthy, conniving, wicked and unscrupulous. But then, you are a pirate." He took another bite and chewed, musing over the fact that when imprisoned, even a single apple could be a luxury not to be taken lightly.
Jack sat up a bit straighter, and answered, more intently, "And you've been arrogant, stuffy, pompous, pretentious, snobbish and very obvious." He stopped. "Then again, those all mean the same thing, really, don't they?" He appeared to think this over.
Out of curiosity and from a complete lack of anything better to do, Norrington asked, quizzically, "Obvious? How?"
Jack considered him and shook a finger. "Never could keep your hands off me, for a start. Always trying to see me tied up."
Norrington snorted derisively. "Now you're reaching."
As if he'd not spoken, Jack continued, "Then there's the matter of being unable to stop talking about me, once I left. You know, it's rather touching, really. It's good to be missed. Though you'll have to pardon me for not hanging around." He chuckled at his pun.
Norrington finished his apple and scooted wearily down beside the bars, lying lengthways along them, his feet towards the door, on the other side from Jack. With one arm behind his head to cushion it from the floor, he said, absently, "I think you're reading way too much into it. I haven't given nearly as much thought as all that to your existence. Certainly not as much as the Turners appear to believe, nor yourself."
Jack shrugged. "T'was worth a try. So when shall we begin our practicing?"
Norrington dourly informed him, "Later." He glanced over at Jack. "Unless you want the bucket over your head, and the need for a few more gold teeth."
Jack grinned, flashing the self-same gold teeth at him. "Sorry, mate. I don't fancy remaining stuck in my own brig for hours on end, at the whim of a couple of children."
"Am I to believe you're threatening me?" Norrington asked mildly, with some incredulity.
Jack lay down as well, only to turn onto his left side, his head propped up, on one elbow, facing him. "You didn't seem to be disinterested last night, eh? Or is it that you only find yourself excited when threatened with ravishment, at sword-point, in a state of undress?"
Norrington gave a half-smile. "The situation has altered radically. You'll have no extra sport with me, but the next time the Turners grace us with their presence, I'll provide both them and you with whatever amusement necessary for them to release us."
"That's grand. Doesn't quite answer my question though, does it?"
Norrington knew it didn't, and damned if he was going to answer the man. Jack was, after all, entirely unscrupulous and he wasn't going to give the pirate ample opportunity to hurt him more deeply than he already had. Slowly, he replied, "The bucket, Jack."
"The day is young," Jack pointed out.
"And your point is…?"
Jack shrugged, and made a little face. "Maybe we could get along, after all?"
Norrington pretended to consider this. "Very well. Try not saying a single word for the next ten minutes, and I'll agree to 'get along' with you."
Jack licked his lips, and smiled, and didn't reply.
Norrington closed his eyes, and took a breath. God, blessed silence. Nothing but the sway of the ship under them. Jack was remarkably quiet.
He opened one eye and glanced over at Jack.
Jack was still smiling a secretive smile and watching him. But he didn't say anything, nor did he move.
Norrington closed his eyes once more and attempted to ignore him. But the silence began to pall, quickly. He could still feel Jack's eyes on him, and abruptly, Jack's words from a few minutes before began to whisper through his head again.
Had Jack fallen for him, after all? Norrington swallowed. He opened his eyes and regarded the ceiling. Did he want Jack to have fallen for him?
Come to think of it, why were both Will and Elizabeth so convinced that they should 'kiss and make up'? Why had they both gone to such extreme lengths to throw Jack and himself into close quarters, unless they truly believed that Jack and he had something? Or that Jack really was truly taken with him?
He sat up with a frown, and leaned his back against the hull, glancing over at Jack again to see Jack watching him, that smile gone but replaced with an enigmatic watchfulness.
He drew a breath, and tried to quell the sudden nervousness that ran through him.
Jack had just claimed he was in love with him. How on earth could Jack Sparrow, of all people, be in love with him?! It didn't bear thinking of, it was ludicrous. After all, he'd been most vocal about his desire to see Jack hang, and how much he loathed him…
The glimmerings of some sort of sympathy and even shame crept into him. Sympathy for what Jack might have been going through, over it. And shame at his own actions, and words.
Then again, his experience and intelligence warned him, reminding him, Jack was by no means capable of loving anything greater than his own freedom to pursue a life of lawlessness and debauchery, aboard his precious ship.
The sympathy and shame receded abruptly, replaced just as suddenly with humiliation at the thought that he'd almost believed it. That he wanted to believe it. He didn't want to be odds with Jack, to be honest. He was tired of it. Tired of fighting it. Tired of putting on a front and making a continuing fool of himself for everyone else's amusement. Surely there was no shame in feeling tenderness for someone? Even if they didn't truly return the affection? He'd allowed Elizabeth to make a fool of him, and come to think of it, Jack had been the only one who'd appeared to care - even if it was to gain some false rapport with him.
Norrington suddenly realized that he held the upper hand in this strange relationship, not Jack. For Jack was most probably unable to really understand what it meant, to truly lose one's heart to someone else rather than to a ship or to one's own freedom.
After all, there was a measure of freedom to be had in admitting to oneself the truth of one's feelings, Norrington thought to himself. Not to mention the freedom to be gained in admitting to the object of one's affections that, for better or for worse, they had one's heart in their hands. Wasn't there?
If a pirate who claimed to love freedom, and this ship as much as Jack did, was unable to fully handle being the recipient of the heart of someone such as Norrington himself, was it really Norrington who was losing out?
He wondered. And cleared his throat. And looked over at Jack, who still lay across from him, one arm up beneath his head. "Suppose I admit that I've grown more attached to you than is probably convenient or proper," he suggested, breaking the silence.
Jack frowned, blinking.
Norrington carried on ahead, saying, "And suppose I told you that, in spite of our differences, you're right. All of you, the Turners and everyone. In saying that I've fallen for you."
Jack sat up, and moved back to sit against the hull once more. He didn't interrupt, but waited, watching him without the usual unnerving stare but more a respectful patience.
Norrington continued, "Suppose I said that, perhaps this is the opportunity I've been waiting for, to admit to myself, as well as to you, that my heart hasn't been my own since I've made your acquaintance." He cursed himself for the qualm he felt in saying it all so baldly, as well as for the awkwardness and nervousness that betrayed itself in his voice despite his best attempt to cover it.
And he could feel his heart beating harder, seeming to almost throb in his ears as he realized what he had just said. Admitted.
He gave a self-mocking smile and looked down with a chuff of laughter. "You've no reason to believe me, have you?"
Jack seemed to be deliberating it. He seemed unsure, and began to stroke his chin. "Considering our current circumstances, and the duress we're under, and your self-professed desire to see me brought to justice since we first met, it is rather unbelievable." He threw Norrington a look. "But then, so would be my professing my undying love and commitment to you, eh? Hardly prudent for either of us, all things considered."
Norrington drew a relieved breath. "Indeed. You're right, of course."
"I mean, what with you being a commodore of the fleet, and my being a pirate, and all," Jack continued with a loose gesture.
Norrington found himself rather distracted by it. Jack had… nice hands. His fingers were slender and actually quite… nice. Yes. Very nice.
"Then there's the whole hanging business, which really is quite an awkward obstacle between two people," Jack commented, musing. "Up until a little while ago, I thought you wanted me dead."
Norrington realized that Jack seemed resigned to not being believed, himself. It was rather telling. He wondered if Jack loved the Black Pearl and his freedom because it was truly the only betrayal he never had to fear. The only commitments he could count on.
He could relate. He'd felt the same way, after Elizabeth had chosen William Turner over him.
"Now I'm supposed to believe you've never wanted me dead at all, but on my back under you, in your bed? Forgive me if that seems a little…" Jack gave him a little frown. "Have you heard a word I've said, mate?"
Norrington smiled at him. "Every one. It seems a little what?"
But Jack had been thrown now, and he regarded Norrington with a more cautious air. He indicated the cell they were in. "This is getting to you, innit? You're starting to lose it already, and we've been in here barely a few hours."
Norrington stretched out his legs and yawned. "Not at all. I've made my peace with myself and come to the decision that it's not worth fighting anymore."
This didn't seem to reassure Jack at all. If anything, he looked more concerned than ever. "You're really not acting yourself, mate."
Norrington cast a dubious eye upon him. "How would you know?"
"Ah," Jack said, significantly. "So we've reached the 'getting to know each other' part, have we?"
"Oh, I expect we're way past that," Norrington declared, casually.
Which earned him a slight smile.
It was almost sad, Norrington found, to know that he'd actually missed that smile as much as he had in the brief moments that had passed between this one and the last.
"Love under fire," Jack quipped. "Not very convincing at all."
Norrington gave a shrug. "I suppose it isn't, at that."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Only one way to be sure, really."
Norrington chuckled. "Naturally."
Then the sobering reality of their circumstances reminded him that if he actually started something with Jack that they wanted to finish, they were most likely to be interrupted at the most aggravating moments. He made a noise of exasperation.
Jack seemed to have followed his train of thought, remarkably, and threw his own frustrated glance at the ladder.
The toss and roll of the ship was not enough to justify a move in Jack's direction, but Norrington was beginning to grow weary of not knowing what Jack's mouth would feel like under his. To be honest, he'd been wondering from the very beginning. It had been infuriating, seeing him the night before and not being allowed to know. To find out. He shot Jack a look.
Jack started laughing under his breath. "You're right. We've gone way over the edge, 'aven't we, love?"
"We're not the only ones," Norrington commented, wryly. "Considering Elizabeth's predilections, I find I'm rather relieved I didn't marry her myself."
Jack's answering grin promised a reply worth hearing, but the sound of someone coming back down to join them brought a halt to their discussion. It was Will.
He looked rather shamefaced. "I know what both of you will say," he declared. "And you'd both be right. It was very rash. And very stupid." He smiled at them. "But it was for your own good. Elizabeth apologizes and says you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with. We're going to release you, but only with the understanding that if you don't get along, you'll end up right back here. With the crew's blessing."
Norrington and Jack exchanged an amused glance. "Very well, Mr. Turner, those terms seem reasonable enough," Jack said.
Norrington smiled at him. "Mr. Turner, do you have any idea what your fate will be upon our return to Port Royal?"
"I believe I do," Will stated firmly. "Commodore, you really should join us topside. A bit of sea air will do you good."
"I live in Port Royal, Will, the same as yourself. We get more than enough sea air," Norrington pointed out.
But Will had turned the key in the lock and now the door was open, so Norrington contented himself with a disapproving eye and followed Jack out of the cell.
Jack asked Will in a deceptively mild tone, "And where is Mrs. Turner?"
Will cleared his throat. "She's throwing up over the side. Seasickness," he shrugged, apologetically.
Jack muttered inaudibly about needing rum, and disappeared up the ladder, somewhere in the direction of his cabin.
Norrington wandered above deck and regarded the horizon with a feeling of aimless melancholy. Will came to stand beside him, watching the horizon also.
Norrington glanced at him, and noticed Will was wearing a grin.
"I would suggest that you've very little to find amusing under your present circumstances, Mr. Turner. Kidnapping me, running off with your wife to commandeer a pirate vessel and honeymooning in the Spanish Main - it simply won't do."
"Actually, Commodore, that's what I find amusing. Governor Swann, and in fact the whole of Port Royal, know that Elizabeth and I have eloped on our honeymoon aboard Captain Sparrow's Black Pearl for an indefinite period of time, with their very own Commodore Norrington as military envoy." He grinned at Norrington, irrepressibly. "It's quite mad, and very probably inadvisable."
Norrington nodded. "Indeed. And I take it Mrs. Turner is suitably chastised for her lamentable party to this fiasco?"
"She is," Will gravely informed him. "I suspect her seasickness may have more to do with fear of reprisal than any actual nausea."
"Quite right." Norrington took a breath. "First proper vacation I've had in a long while. I suppose I owe you thanks for that." He regarded Will, grimly.
Will inclined his head. "I'm sure you owe Jack more than I, Commodore. It is his ship, after all. We were merely the instruments of his agency, to be seeing you aboard. Of course, it's far too late now to turn back from our course."
"Which is where, exactly?"
Will nodded vaguely at the horizon. "Why, out there, sir." He stepped away, leaving Norrington to frown at this deliberately obscure explanation.
Crewmembers appeared to survey him warily and avoid him for the most part, as he wandered about above deck. He gradually became aware he was avoiding Jack Sparrow, and sighed to himself, knowing they had unfinished business between them. There was, after all, no removing the words they'd shared below in their cell.
He went to the captain's cabin and let himself in, to find Jack poring over a chart and holding a glass of rum. Jack looked up at him briefly, and his eyes flickered back to the chart on the large oval table.
"Been expecting you," Jack said, his eyes shrewd and his tone not giving anything away.
Norrington awarded him a brief nod, and didn't elucidate. It seemed pointless, under the conditions they were in. "I'm curious, Captain," Norrington stated. "Am I your guest here, aboard your ship? Or am I still here in the capacity of abductee?"
Jack threw him a frown and shook his head. "'Course not, mate. Suppose you're my guest - or anything you want to be, really." He leaned both hands on the table and regarded him. "What's your pleasure?"
Norrington wondered if he could get away with informing Captain Sparrow in minute detail of just what his pleasure might entail. He doubted it. In fact, the less said the better, at this point, he thought.
He gave Jack a terse smile and looked about the room. His gaze swept over the bed and he couldn't help lingering before tearing his eyes from it.
Absently, he replied, "As a guest, I think I'd prefer to be aboard as a guest."
Jack noticed the direction of his gaze, however, and raised his glass of rum. "Aye. Cheers, mate."
"Don't you have anything else here besides rum?" Norrington complained.
"Of course I do," Jack said, as if offended. "What do you take me for?" He stepped over to the drinks cabinet and opened the door, revealing a variety to sample. "Help yourself, mate." He returned to the chart, looking down at it.
Norrington poured himself a glass of wine and joined him at the table.
"Far as I can tell, we're probably right about here," Jack said, following a ways off from the coast. "Headed for Georgetown."
Norrington stared down at it. "Just how did you ascertain that?"
"Will told me."
Norrington chuckled. "Naturally." He was acutely aware of how close he was standing to Jack, who appeared oblivious but was probably just as aware of him.
Norrington commented, "You still have my compass. I will have it back."
Jack grinned. "Daresay you're right. But you'll have to pay the fee for getting it back, now won't you?"
"And what might that be?" Norrington was sardonic, but he was curious as to what price Jack would set for the return of his own compass.
Jack straightened, and drained the last of his rum. "Delaying the inevitable again, are we?" He glanced up at Norrington, his eyes over-bright and far too sharp, but his expression seemed fey rather than pointed.
Norrington knocked back the wine, put down his glass and faced Jack. "Not at all," he said in a low voice.
A slight smirk crossed Jack's mouth and Norrington found it impudent, infuriating and entirely too inviting. As ever. And still giving nothing away. Nettled, he leaned down and pressed his lips to Jack's, who went quite still.
Although not for long, as quite abruptly, both of them were sealed to each other's mouths, Norrington hungrily devouring those self-same lips that had taunted him for so long in the darkness of hazy memory, with Jack pulling him in some unknown direction. He allowed himself to be led, wondering how he'd lost his shirt so quickly.
He only broke from the kiss momentarily, to get his bearings and regain his breath, noticing that Jack's 'expert' hand apparently could move with uncanny speed when it came to undoing the laces in the front of two pairs of breeches at once.
Not to have Jack's mouth beneath his own was unbearable, and claiming him in a kiss again, he hardly noticed as they staggered onto the bed, unable to decide which of them should be on top, not caring even as he found himself straining to press as much of the front of his body to Jack's as he possibly could.
In the end, despite their mutual helpless wriggling, Jack was under him, and Norrington at last found he was able to catch the man he'd been trying to hold onto for the last several months, since that first parting.
"I'm not going to let you go this time," Norrington promised him, hoarsely.
"Are you not?" Jack asked, with another squirm beneath him.
Norrington merely smiled down at him and shook his head. "Not this time." And he bent to press his lips to Jack's once more, his tongue darting out again to flick against Jack's.
The heat and the seeming madness that controlled them were entirely welcome, and the wine he'd just consumed floated down into his virtually empty stomach. The sense of euphoria was overwhelming. "I've got to have you," he gasped against him. "Please."
Jack lifted his face, turning and pointing up towards the head of the bed. "Need that," he said, as Norrington's hands roamed over him.
"Damn," Norrington muttered. "You were right. I can't keep my hands off you."
Jack laughed under his breath. "Told you, didn't I?"
Norrington was too far-gone to bother answering him, however.
There was a keenness racing over his skin that rendered him almost too sensitized to the air, wondering how they'd managed to divest themselves of their clothing, at which point. It was chased away by the fever-heat that crawled up along his body and shook him.
There were only the maddening moments that separated one act from another, hasty preparatory acts, and at last, at long last, the need to be inside of him culminating in the slow slide into Jack. Taking him, too slow, and yet just slow enough, and the repeated motions, undulating slightly, as he slid deeper into him.
To have this, at last. It filled him with wonder. He hadn't even really known what it was he'd been missing. Not truly.
Norrington's feeling of drowning in Jack intensified, getting lost inside him, and desperately searching for his mouth again, finding even that wasn't enough. Lifting his head, he stared down into Jack's eyes, still far too dark to ignore or resist, and saw his own pleasure mirrored in them.
And then the agonizing ecstasy of Jack's reaction as he closed his hand over Jack's cock and began to pull on him at the same pace with which he was shafting him. Harder. More deliberate. God, to take him, and to feel him giving it up - it was too much.
Then there was nothing but Jack's strangled cries and his own moans, mingling together, and it went on and on, until the dam burst and the pleasure was flooding over him with the white-hot strikes of love flashing through him, again and again. Lost in it, in him. Staring down into Jack's wide eyes that seemed taken aback at the momentous silence of it, that was broken almost unbearably by their inadvertent gasps.
When they finally came to a rest, Jack's limbs were tangled with his in a supple, languorous fashion, whereas his own were trembling slightly, his blood still racing from their union.
Unwilling to move, he stayed atop Jack, holding him in place. He leaned in to kiss him again, gentler this time, taking the leisure of moving slowly and with every intention of remaining a connoisseur. This time, as their tongues met, he realized it wasn't so much a frenzied dance but a welcome familiarity, reaffirming itself in each other's mouths.
He finally had to end it, breaking off the kiss and pressing his face down into the cover beneath, beside Jack's head, their cheeks and the sides of their faces touching. In the muffled darkness, against Jack's ear, he whispered, "It will never be enough."
"Doesn't have to be," Jack answered, with a hint of a promise.
Norrington let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, feeling himself let go, and the arms around him tightened.
As he pulled back, away, sliding out of him, he settled in close beside Jack, and allowed Jack to pull the covers over them.
Norrington regarded him, finally allowing himself to notice the completely effortless sensuality of his face.
But Jack felt his study of him and met his eye. With that smirk Norrington had come to admire and crave, Jack said, "I take it you like what you see?"
Norrington's lips twitched. "For now. As I mentioned, once is hardly enough."
"Plenty more where that came from," Jack commented, easily. "Rather suspect if we try to venture out too soon, they'll chase us back in at the end of their pistols."
"They can bring us food and leave it inside the door," Norrington countered.
"Aye, that's what I told them," Jack said recklessly.
Norrington considered him. "You didn't."
"I did. Though, I do believe Mr. Turner was the only one present when I made my announcement."
"Hm. You should have waited until Mrs. Turner had joined him. That lass needs a lesson taught to her."
Jack grinned. "Agreed. Though we'll be occupied and otherwise engaged and unable to attend her edification, methinks."
"I should bloody well hope so," Norrington muttered. "I meant what I said, Jack. I'm not letting you go this time."
"Whatever you say, mate," Jack answered, a little too casually for Norrington.
He decided Jack needed further proof that he intended to make good on his promise.
So it was that Will found himself sitting beside his recalcitrant and repentant wife as they watched the seabirds wheeling and creaking above them in the sky, with the penetrating blue of the ocean below them hurling sprays of white-salt water, and the occasional swell rising a bit too high and threatening to unseat them.
Elizabeth had tearfully described that she'd only ever had their happiness in mind, and had never meant for it all to get as out of hand as it did. Will had merely smiled at her, kissed her tears away and murmured endearments.
With both the Captain and the Commodore so oblivious to the rest of the world, there was very little to fear, he pointed out to her.
Although he did breathe a somewhat relieved sigh to himself that they'd managed to talk themselves into some sort of truce during their time cooling off, below.
Will wasn't sure how either of them would handle his and Elizabeth's confession: they'd intended to see both of them aboard this ship somehow, come hell or high water, and on their honeymoon, no less. Elizabeth's idea of kidnapping them just seemed to be the most appropriate at the time.
He rather suspected neither man would be able to concentrate properly on anything for at least several days, anyway, so they were safe until then. And by then they would have reached Georgetown. Will grinned, wondering if the crew of the Pearl would even bother wanting to go through the motions of sacking the town, or if they'd simply take shore leave and disappear onto the beaches.
He knew which option he and Elizabeth would choose. And the Captain of the Black Pearl and his on-board guest were incommunicado, so it was very unlikely that any ransacking or plundering would mar Elizabeth's or his conscience.
All in all, he mused, it had been a rather bloodless, successful and anxiety-ridden caper. As well as amusing. He wondered how many months they'd have to labor to regain both Norrington's and Jack's forgiveness. And he grinned to himself, knowing the labors would be worth it.
* Fini *
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