still a little bit of your taste
in my mouth.
Jack didn't quite believe him, James thinks. Perhaps he thought One Day's Head Start meant You're Free, but that's just not true. He does hunt pirates, after all, because it's his job, and Jack Sparrow (Captain) is indeed, a pirate. So James is surprised to see the Black Pearl floating just off Tortuga's shore, and Jack looks very surprised to find himself duly in chains on James' cabin floor.
There was struggling, of course, and then the long period of swearing (James having never heard half these words in his life and still managing to blush like a flattered maid), but Jack seems to have given up now that Tortuga is out of sight, and they are surrounded by clear, calm, blue sea. There are still haphazard incoherencies from the corner floor of his cabin, and James is finding them ever annoying, but he's coping. So far.
He is shifting, making the chains clink loudly, and humming a song to himself. It seems familiar - childish perhaps? - and the words form themselves in James' head, though he doesn't know where from. And then suddenly:
"Are you a God fearin' man, Commodore?"
The question is sudden and James forgets not to give Jack the pleasure of an answer. "Of course," he can only think of saying, as if it's the most terribly obvious thing in the world. Jack nods, and says nothing more. James glowers at the terrible infuriation of it all, but satisfies himself with crossing his arms (in, he thinks, a very angered way) and trying not to flinch every time those damned chains knock against each other.
As the day wears on, James becomes tired of his prisoner and makes his way up. The fresh air hits him in a welcome blast. It's beginning to darken, and there are few marines on deck now - just enough to attend to the ship and let it run safely back to Port Royal. James joins Lieutenant Gillette at the helm, and stares out at the expanse of cobalt surrounding the Dauntless. Somehow it makes him feel so insignificant, and though he is almost a leader among men, what are men compared to this endless beauty?
Gillette stirs him abruptly from his wanderings. "I hope Sparrow isn't causing you too much trouble?" he asks, with the subtlest hint of that sarcasm seemingly ever-present in his words.
James' shoulders shrug in a silent laugh. "He seems rather too put out to be charming his way off this ship." The two seamen stand in a comfortable hush, listening to the waves clutching at the wooden panelled sides. James glances down at Gillette's compass and immediately acompassthatdoesn'tpointnorth the memories come rushing back. He tries to quash them, but now that Jack Sparrow is in his mind, he won't be leaving for some time. James thinks, what a wonderfully irksome man Jack is.
And what a waste. James knows that he's a talented sailor and a good and clever man (as Master Turner Junior informs him regularly), and it really did pain him to see Jack standing all-too reticent on the gallows. James remembers the faint swell of his heart as the black sails of the Pearl came into view around the cliff face. God, but Jack was a fool for not running.
James sighs to himself. "Sir?" Gillette inquires, but James waves his hand for silence. "It's late," he says, frowning at the ever overcast sky. "I think it's time for me to retire. How long 'til Port Royal?"
Gillette lets the cool air whip around him for a moment. "With this wind, at least three days, I'd wager." James nods curtly, then, running his hand along the banister of his ship, returns below deck. He can barely see when he closes the hatch, so the first thing he does is light a torch on the wall, and some candles in his cabin. It's only then he notices Jack, curled up in his chains, is asleep in the corner.
James moves to his bed, which is against the opposite wall, and sits. He folds his arms. Then unfolds them. Then crosses his legs. Then uncrosses them. Then he walks slowly to his desk and seats himself on his writing chair, with the padded arm rests. Then he walks slowly to the back of the cabin and leans against the wall. And stares down at Jack.
There's never been a time when James has taken a long, hard look at Jack. He's never had the chance to notice exactly what's braided into his mess of tangles, or the fine cotton pattern sewn with care into his headscarf, or the tip of a jagged scar peeking out from under his sleeve. James makes to pull the cuff back, to get a closer look, but catches himself quickly. He decides he is tired. Yes, that must be it.
James undoes the buttons of his waistcoat slowly, constantly shooting glances over at Jack to make sure the pirate is still sound asleep (it would appear so, though James has never trusted Jack, even with something so trivial as this), and finds he cannot take his breeches off, for common decency. His embarrassment confuses him a little, but even so, James shrugs and slips between the sheets of his bed. They are waiting for him, warm, and he thinks how cold Jack must be. James wonders if perhaps he couldn't undo those abrasive shackles digging into his wrist, tying him to the wall like a dog. He wonders if it wouldn't be so hard to invite him to share the bed, as long as he promises not to kill James in his sleep and try not to touch him. No, he decides, it wouldn't be so hard at all. It'd be easy. Too easy. James shudders involuntarily, blames it on the chill air, and burrows deep into his covers.
He drifts restlessly between half-sleeping and half-waking for most of the night, his thoughts tossing like the irate waves outside, mostly coming back to rest on Jack. Eventually, though, his mind falls into a dreamless sleep, and somewhere deep down he misses the fact that he cannot keep one bleary eye on Jack anymore.
James wakes up to find himself sitting on the floor, still only in his breeches, clutching Jack so tightly his knuckles are pale and drawn.
He doesn't move, for fear of waking Jack up (as James has taken his still shut eyes and quiet breathing to be signs of sleep), and tries to process this situation logically. So. It would appear that he has sleepwalked over to Jack sometime in the night, which it still is, James notes looking outside, and attached himself to said man, hands on shoulders, head resting on slowly-rising-and-falling chest. Now he tries to fathom why. Why is he here? Why is Jack's warmth mingling with his own? Why does it feel comfortable? Moreover, why does it feel right?
He is here because of his wandering night-time feet, nothing more. And that warmth is perfectly understandable body heat. And it feels comfortable because Jack's shirt is soft. And it feels right because James loves him.
James feels his heart constrict a little, and his breathing stops and he can't blink. He looks up at Jack and doesn't see those deep, so deep eyes that can charm him and scare him and spark something inside him all at once. He smiles bitterly, because it seems so clear now; why didn't he understand it before?
No. No more questions. Or else James will be lost in his own thoughts, and eventually, Jack will wake up and see him there, and what will happen then...James doesn't know.
He moves back slowly, ever conscious of Jack and making sure not to wake him up. He has several options. One. He can go back to his bed and pretend none of this happened. Two. He can go back to his bed and leave this moment to storm in his mind before he does anything about it. Three. He can kiss Jack. None of his options are ideal, but he certainly knows which one is more desirable.
He swallows hard and thinks, he'll never get another chance like this, so he may as well go for it. Even though he knows full well how wrong it is, and he does care deeply about that, he's never felt like this before. Not with Elizabeth, not with anyone. Only with Jack.
His hands are shaking, and James is so fearful of waking Jack up, so he hovers one hand as if he were cupping the side of Jack's face, and the other quivers just by his neck. James can sense the dirt and heat and damned sensuality the pirate simply radiates. There's that word again: pirate. Because that's all James has though of him until now. His conscious rages a battle with his primal instincts. James finds he cannot move, neither nearer, nor away. He is frozen; a perfect tableau of almost- touching, almost-kissing, almost innocent, if it weren't such a sin.
"You're thinking too hard. Stop thinking."
The spell is broken, and James' head darts up in surprise and horror. In this sudden movement, the tips of his fingers brush fleetingly against Jack's neck, and James forgets how to talk. All he can do is sit there, his eyes wide, panting.
Jack looks serious, and James has only seen this look once before, under far more unpleasant circumstances. James wonders what he should say. Should he apologise? Should he wonder if Jack was awake all that time? Should he say nothing at all? There seems something terribly unsatisfying in all of those. Perhaps he should take a risk. Generally speaking, James is not a man to take risks. He has too many lives in his hands to mess things up. He will calculate, preferring to use logic rather than rush in. After all, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
But this is hardly a general situation. And just maybe, being a fool for a little while might not be so bad. It seems to have suited Jack well all these years.
So James merely nods, and waits for Jack to tell him what to do next.
"Put your hands here," Jack clasps his own around James' wrists, causing James to breath in sharply at the unexpected contact, and Jack's calm about it all. It occurs to James that this is probably not as new an experience to Jack as it is to him. He has, of course, had...encounters before, but never with a man and certainly never with a pirate. Society frowned and law forbade, but that didn't seem to matter right now. All that matters was James, being here with Jack.
It's all awfully surreal. Here he is, an officer of the British navy, practically sitting on top of one of the most infamous pirates of his time (and one which, he noted, he had almost seen hanged), hands on his waist, longing for this never to end. Longing for it to go further.
"No," he says all of a sudden, and the pine in his voice surprises him almost as much as it does Jack. "No. No, this isn't how it's supposed to be."
Jack's eyes laugh at James. "Oh? An' just how's it s'posed t'go then?"
Jack isn't supposed to be a man. Or a pirate. He isn't supposed to be seducing a naval officer. James isn't supposed to love Jack. James is a good, Christian man, and this isn't what good, Christian men are supposed to do. They are supposed to find a charming wife who will love them unconditionally forever. "Our first kiss isn't supposed to be like this." ...Now James is quite sure that didn't come out right.
Jack raises an eyebrow and gestures to the bed. "P'rhaps we should adjourn t'somewhere a little more accomodatin' then?"
No, no, NO! "Yes I think that would be best." James' mind screams at him, What are you doing?! It doesn't go like this! As they stumble to the bed, still clinging to each other, James' legs try to trip him up, a desperate attempt to stop him, but they make it, and fall down on the mattress in one another's arms.
James knows what's going to happen now. He knows that Jack will kiss him, and that he will kiss back, and then, if James allows it, that they will make love. And then what? Will James be able to chain Jack up again in the corner and see him be hanged in a few days time? Of course not. He is certain he wouldn't have been able to kill him before. He would have thought up some ridiculous scheme to set him free, involving a spoon, a wheel and a hat, most likely. But that would be then, and this is now, and now is different.
Jack has started stroking his wig-less hair, almost curiously. James takes a deep breath. "If...If we do this...You can't abandon me after. You've got to stick with me, I'm afraid. Even the days where I hate pirates even more than usual and threaten to hang you if you come within a mile of me."
A laugh. "But o'course."
"And you aren't allowed to go and get yourself killed in some ridiculous stunt."
Jack sighs dramatically. "If y'insist."
"And you can't tell anyone. Ever." Now Jack looks more serious as he nods. They both do. "...You know we're going to hell for this, don't you?"
Jack gives him a strange look. "Why d'ye say that?"
"Well...because it's a sin."
Jack shrugs. "Doesn't feel very sinful t'me. Feels pretty nice actu'lly. So don't y'worry about hell or nothing just yet."
James nods reluctantly. He stares up at Jack for a very long time. Then he says, "Kiss me."
So Jack does.
we might kiss
when we are alone
when nobody’s watching.
When James awakes the next morning he is alone, with a Jack-shaped indent in the mattress beside him. The sheets are still warm, and smell of rum and sunshine. James clutches them to his face and inhales deeply. He wonders whether to be angry at Jack, but finds he cannot be, as he has a feeling, deep down, that Jack will come back.
There is noise from above deck. James fumbles for his discarded breeches (wondering quite how they got so far from the bed last night), and searches for a shirt and his jacket. As he passes the desk, something catches his eye.
A small, worn red dice. He picks it up and studies it closely, soon realizing it's one of the pieces of rubbish Jack insists on tying in his hair. Except it's his now. He smiles, and places it in the pocket of his jacket, which is, thankfully, hung up neatly in the cupboard. Underneath the dice is piece of parchment, which James picks up and reads.
Had an excellent time last night.
Hope to continue the fun soon!
Apologies for the abrupt exit, but deemed necessary in view of being surrounded by the navy.
Love and kisses,
Captain Jack Sparrow
Here the letter deteriorates into various sized hearts. James laughs and puts that in his pocket with the dice. Not a moment later, an urgent knock comes at his door.
Gillette and Groves stumble in, both looking rather flushed. "One of the boats is gone, Commodore!"
James gestures to the corner of the room. "And as you can see, gentlemen, Captain Sparrow seems to have vanished as well." The look on the two Lieutenants' faces was quite priceless. "It appears our elusive bird has flown again. Send out a search party, but do not stray too far from the ship. Return by midday," James says, knowing full well Jack will be long gone by now.
"And if we don't find him, sir?"
"Then the chase continues, does it not?"
"Very good, sir." The two salute, then leave.
When James is certain they are gone, he takes out the dice and holds it in his palm for a long time.
did I say that I loathe you?
did I say that I want to leave it all behind?
i can't take my mind off of you.
All lyrics by Damien Rice.
Eternal thanks to Emma for beta-ing.
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