Chapter One : Tryst
The tavern air is thick with smoke and the scent of drink clutches at him as soon as he enters.
But Jack Sparrow merely smiles, because he knows he is home.
He slides into a chair near the back of the room, leaning back again the wall. It doesn't take long before he catches someone's eye. A man, a few tables away from him. He is lounged out over his chair, much like Jack, and seems hardly to notice the girls flanking his sides. He stares at Jack, unblinking, the corners of his mouth turned up ever so slightly. He flicks his hand lazily and a serving girl appears at his side. Jack grins curiously at the way the lasses act around him. They are quite besotted with him, though Jack wonders whether that is at all to do with the glint of gold in their pockets.
The man's fingers curl around the back of the maid's neck and he pulls her head down and whispers something into her ear, smiling. Her eyes close a little, and she starts playing with her hair, trying to lock eyes with him. But he hardly looks at her. He slips her a few coins and sends her on her way.
A few moments later she is back, now at Jack's table, setting a glass of rum in his hands. "A gift from the kind sir," she says, blushing a little. She scampers away, her tray banging against her leg in her haste. Jack looks after her, then back to the stranger, who has his own tankard raised in a toast. Jack nods, now grinning fully, then downs the glass slowly, sensually, closing his eyes and tipping his head just so. The man leans forward, now completely ignoring the girls around him, and his tongue darts out to wet his lips.
Jack makes sure he drains every drop, then sets his glass on the table and makes to leave, deliberately weaving past the man's table. Suddenly, a hand darts out and grabs his wrist. He turns slowly. Up close, the man is not at all unhandsome, perhaps a few years older than himself. His hair is pulled back under his hat, though it some seems to have broken free and hangs loosely in front of his ring adorned ears. His hands too have a jewelled glint, and though his clothes look worn and dusty, Jack knows they are rich.
"Your name, lad, I must know." Jack's breathing hitches faintly at the sound of his voice. It is deep and throaty and has more than a trace of the sea about it, and Jack begins to understand why the girls look at him the way they do.
Jack swallows, though his grin doesn't falter and his own voice rings out clear enough. "Jack. Jack Sparrow."
"Jack..." The man rolls the name somewhat curiously. "I'll be seeing ye again then, Jack."
And Jack finds all he can do is nod.
The water laps gently against Jack's ankles. The hem of his coat drags in and out with the tide, wet and heavy. He stares out towards the dark horizon, where the sea merges with the sky. He takes a swig from the bottle in his hand, a little put out to see it is almost empty.
One last glance out to the horizon. Nothing. Just like the last few days. Still nothing.
Jack sighs, then wipes down his feet and pulls on his boots. They're sticky and the sand scratches at him as he walks down the street, away from the docks, but he is getting too drunk to care. It is quiet and the place is empty, but this is how he wants it. He's been avoiding the taverns lately. Partly out of fear that he'll see his mysterious admirer.
Mostly out of fear that he won't.
Jack has to squint up to see the signs above the shops, and while he can't make out the words, upon seeing a roughly carved bottle on one of them, he stumbles in the door.
"Jack, my good man!" The vendor booms heartily. Jack resists the urge to clutch his aching head. "What can I do for you on this fine eve?"
Jack throws down the contents of his pockets onto the counter.
"I'm afraid I can't give you much for this," he says with some distain, holding up a piece of lint, "Ah, but this'll do fine." He sweeps the few copper coins into his meaty palm, then scans the bottles shelved behind him. "Here we are!" He pulls down a rather dusty looking vial. "Jacob Gander's Classic Brandy. Good, strong stuff."
Jack reaches out for the bottle, not really caring what's in it, as long as it will have him smashed out of his mind by morning, when suddenly, a hand snakes around his waist and he can feel warm, salty breath against his neck.
"Now now, Jack, I think ye can do better than that."
Jack's eyes widen, though the strong grip on his hips prevent him from turning around. He recognises that voice at once, that saline rasp, the way his name is played with.
"We'll be havin' two bottles of your finest vintage red, an' nothin' less." One of the hands leaves him to place three gold coins on the table. The vendor stares at the coins for a second, before saying hurriedly, "Yes sir! Right away sir," and bustling around with the bottles.
"You!" Jack says quietly.
"Aye....." He can feel the smile against his neck, and shivers unwillingly. "Did I not say we'd be meetin' again, Jack?"
".....Who are you?" His voice is nothing above a whisper.
"That'd be tellin'." The man takes the bottles proffered to him, hooking his fingers around the necks so that he doesn't have to let go of Jack. "Now where is it you'd like to go?"
Jack sobers quickly. His head is still swirling, but his voice is feverish. "There's an inn. In the port, near the docks."
"Take me there."
Jack is all too willing to oblige.
Jack is in a daze. A hot, happy daze.
He has realised he is being seduced, and decides he likes it. He has always believed if you can get something for nothing, take it, and having a perfect stranger lavish alcohol on him is rather a nice feeling.
He spends the short walk taking in every detail of the man's face. His hair is down tonight, and it flows about wildly, trying to break free from the green bandana that ties it in, an auburn frame to a dark face. His chin is stubbled, much like Jack's own, and an earring hangs down on each side of his face (Jack thinks these look suspiciously like fangs). There is a scar by his right eye, though it has healed cleanly and would only be noticeable to someone scrutinising him so intently as Jack is doing. Jack is enthralled by his eyes. They are no colour he has ever seen before; a deep, pallid amber, where none of the moonlight shines.
Jack is taken by surprise as the inn looms into view. The stranger holds the door open for him like a perfect gentleman. The inn is lavish, and Jack has never stayed here before, only wandered around the courtyard, marvelling at its opulence. The man leaves him for a while to wonder at it again, then returns a moment later, dangling a rusty key.
He leads Jack up the stairs, never breaking his gaze. The long fingers still clutch his hip tightly. Jack tries not to trip on the uneven stairs.
The man fumbles a little with the key at the door. This surprises Jack, as the man is so elegant and strong, it doesn't seem as if he could ever make petty mistakes with anything. But the click of the lock sounds, after what seems like an age, the door is kicked open and Jack is ushered inside with a quivering yet forceful hand.
Jack immediately makes for the four poster bed and falls down onto it, enveloped by the deep quilt, sinking into the soft mattress. He kicks off his boots, and watches the man pour two tall glasses of red wine. In the dim light of the room, it looks thick and blood-like.
"Who are you?" he asks again, unable to keep the complete curiosity out of his voice. Silence, as the man brings the glasses over and passes him one. Jack takes a deep sip, the wine crisp against his already dry throat.
"Your devoted aficionado, good sir," he says, with more than a hint of mockery. He removes his hat and bandana, and Jack notices his auburn hair already has wisps of grey, though he is far from old. Jack thinks it gives him an air of one who has seen a whole other world of things than himself.
"No, no, your name. Please," the man's hands tremble visibly when Jack says this. He lowers his voice. "Please tell me."
"...Hector Barbossa. Your humble servant, lad," There again is that trace of sarcasm, and Jack knows he should feel slighted. But he just grins.
Until his smile is kissed roughly off his face.
Jack wakes up cold and alone the next morning.
With a dirty, fang-like earring laying on in the indent in the pillow beside him.
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