RATING: PG maybe, tops
DISCLAIMER: The Mouse owns em, I just take em out and play with em a little
SUMMARY: A Norrington vignette, takes place a few months or so after the end of the movie
COMMENTS: Probably been getting these short pieces lately since have been concentrating so much on finishing a J/N story that seems insistent on turning into an epic—must get that done soon, before the other plot bunnies (not so politely waiting their turn) decide to band together and stage a coup de etat.

Surprisingly Pleasing to the Heart

By Garnet

Duty was not enough.

He had once believed just the opposite. Duty had long been his wife, his mistress, his companion, his career, his fortune and favor and future all wrapped up and tendered into one neat, compact, and eminently convenient package. Duty had called him from bed each morn before dawn. And duty had kept him up until the candle flame guttered to white at the back of his eyes.

Duty and career and hard work and adherence to same. The years blending together as he rose from one rung to the next. From Midshipman to Lieutenant to Captain. Until one splendid day he found himself made Commodore and thought all the world was within his grasp at the last. All he had ever denied himself until now. All he had imagined he yet desired.

Oh, yes, he believed in the law. He believed that men must do as men should do, and that honor and honesty and strict obedience would stay their course. He believed in discipline. That it kept ones life in order, perfect and indomitable. He believed in making sacrifices. In the greater good. In God and King and Country, for whom he would give up his life if called upon, without question, without demure.

But duty had not proved enough after all, and discipline had not been able to protect him at the last, and he had been forced to acknowledge that truth went by many names and faces, and not all of them seemingly pleasing to the eye.

Though, eventually…surprisingly pleasing to the heart.

Which then cast its own spell of blindered forgetfulness, until one could no longer imagine it had been any other way. That life had not been other than this. That to return to what once had been was unthinkable. Unpardonable. Dreadful.

Even though one was not meant to love pirates. Let alone to desire to take them to ones bed. Being that pirates were a scourge upon the life of civilized men. A pestilence. A disease. Something that needed to be cut out, burnt away, and the earth salted where the seeds of such unpardonable evil had first risen to their flowering. Black flags and blood and theft. Riot and rapine and murder most foul. Yes, death was all a pirate truly deserved of life, upon that regard he had never faltered.

Until now.

Until he met a certain pirate one day and found all his sureties turned to doubt, all his hard-held and hard-won-by beliefs drifting to smoke and illusion. The delirium of a mad man who had thought himself sane all along. But then who could see fit to blame him? For this had not been just any ordinary pirate. And, yes, he had heard the man’s name long years before, heard tell of his many exploits, and had wondered at how anyone could believe them, let alone imagine that any such man really existed. But then, farcical and fantastical as those stories had first seemed to him—the wild fancies of honest sailors and buccaneers alike, grown in the telling until one could not fathom that any single pirate could have done all, let alone half of what was claimed of him—they had been as nothing compared to the reality of the man.

Of Captain Jack Sparrow.

A small man, it must be admitted to. Smaller than most, and certainly smaller than those he insisted upon accosting. Though he could seem amazingly larger than life at the very same time. Always underfoot. Always in your face. Rummaging through your most precious thoughts and beliefs and possessions as if he had a right to them. Scheming, wheedling, and charming his way around, over, and through life’s lessons as if they had naught left to teach him.

And, mayhap, they did not.

For certainly, this was a man who could easily convince lesser men of the belief they were in the presence of greatness and that, perhaps, just perhaps, some of it might rub off on themselves if they tendered themselves over to his notions. All the while, turning greater men than himself into such blithering idiots that they could no more look away from him than they could explain, despite all their learning, just what there was about him that made him so very memorable.

Jack Sparrow…full well, he could picture the man, despite wishing on many a long night since that he himself might be awarded the privilege, if not the right of true forgetfulness of vision.

His hands always on the move, worn, stained, tarred, rough hands that yet had more of the air about them than of the earth. Though he suspected they knew full well of earthy things. His skin scarred and browned by the mercies of sea and sun, while other, more tender, more terrible scars undoubtedly lay hidden until he chose to reveal them. A lean body, quite strong despite its smallish stature—or, perhaps, because of it—that wore the clothing of a gentleman scoundrel and black-hearted scallywag fair well. And, from what he remembered of his inadvertent rescue from that small island, wore rather less even the better.

An avid collector of beads and baubles and the mementos of a thousand adventures and a thousand exotic lies. Little pieces of places he had never seen, never knew existed, and some he doubted even did exist, unless one knew the trick of it. Secret islands. Hidden treasures. Misty shores. Lost tribes. All woven together by this one man and kept safe within the tangles of his hair.

But then the man was more magpie than sparrow, really. Thieving bits and pieces of other people’s lives—mingling truth with legend and half-truth and out-right invention—until the fabrication that resulted seemed more real than the truth, and ones life more his then their own, and oddly the better for it. Making one believe that all things were possible, after all. And, more than that…probable. That dreams not only did come true, but every second Tuesday to boot. That if one only let oneself believe, then miracles and mysteries would freely come knocking at your door.

Begging entrance. Indulgence. Demanding anything and everything but indifference.

A miracle and a mystery as impossible to resist as the very man himself standing right on your doorstep this exact moment, bold and brassy as you please, waving both hands in the air as if he already didn’t have your full attention and then some. Wishing you a good day. Inquiring if you’d missed him. Asking you not to clap him in irons, at least until the morning. Inviting himself inside.

Only to give you a courtly little half-bow as you just stand there with your mouth hanging open, and this huge fearful-hopeful-hurting thing twisting in your chest, and then swaying up straight again to flash a gaudy gold smile right at you as if he had known all along. As if there was nothing left to do but just what he asked of you. Those black eyes glittering all for they were looking upon some hidden treasure even now.

Rather than a rather dour man who had already spent far too many of his best years in rising to the heights of an admittedly unsatisfactory life. Who had seen fit to cloth himself in duty, dull and plain and practical, only to find there was nothing grand or glorious about it. Nothing magical or memorable or enlivening about what it had gotten him. A house void of hope, of the woman he had loved, of the ghosts of the children they would now never have. And a loneliness that was almost too much to bear, as the discipline that had always sustained him before now was betrayed at the last to be naught but dust and brittle bone and ash, funeral and cold as the sheets of his long empty bed. Of the office that awaited him each morning, his fingers already stained with ink from the night before.

Leaving him nothing to hold onto but a piece of broken rope and the memory of a dark ship flying away into the distance, unstoppable and free.

Leaving him playing over and over in his mind that one single moment when truth had faltered and failed him, or truth as he had always before imagined it to be. Black and white. Pure and perfect. Without a single gradation of color to sully the clarity of its vision.

And certainly not as many colors as could be found upon a single small braid of unkempt, and quite probably long unwashed hair, as Jack Sparrow smiled once more, before brazenly pushing past him into that empty house. Only to turn and pull him in as well.

Pulling him close, then closer still. Not saying a word now. Not needing to.

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