Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Rating/Pairing: PG-13 / Sparrow, Norrington
Summary: Set decades after PotC1, with flashbacks to 1 and after. Who doesn't like a little cat and mouse? Except, who's the cat and who's the mouse?
Disclaimer Own nothing, make not one red cent, the House of Mouse is run by Steven Jobs now. I may or may not check to see if you're looking when I throw the ball.
A/N: As before, muchas gracias to floweringjudas for the beta, and to anelith for poking me to write this in the first place.
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
Being sewn up was never a pleasant experience. Being sewn up by a slightly drunken pirate who was quite possibly using his own filthy hair for the actual stitches was about the most horrific experience of James' life. And considering he had captained a small flotilla that had engaged in battle, that was saying quite a lot. Fortunately, the cask of merlot that had sprung a leak down in the hold was of the finest quality. It really would have been a terrible shame to let it go to waste.
James was having a hard time feeling his face. He did not have a hard time feeling his hand, or rather, the crude needle sewing up his hand.
"I a-, " James blinked, dropped his head and mumbled, "I am still. You're the moving -. You're moving the one -. It's this stupid boat."
"Be grateful, your Commodoreness, that I didn't just sear the wound with a hot iron and be done with it."
James motioned with his chin to Jack's left arm, exposed after he had rolled up his sleeves to get to work on James' wound. "Is that what that mark is?"
Jack flashed a grin, one that didn't travel to his eyes. "I know a fellow - Spaniard. Excellent at picking locks. Too bad he wasn't here, eh? Says that back home, men get pissed, let loose a herd of bulls in the streets, and they let themselves get chased by the beasts. Lots of the blighters get gored through the arse trying to get away."
"That may be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. And I'll remind you I've been in your company for months. You have a point?"
"The point, James, is that if you run with pirates, at some point you'll find yourself in the hands of pirates. Savvy?"
"Savages. The whole lot of you."
"Hmm, aye, and hanging's so very civilized."
James winced as Jack gave the thread a swift jerk to pull it through. "There have to be laws, Sparrow, or the world would sink into chaos."
Jack looked up, picked up one of the manacles with his forefinger and gave it a twirl, then slammed it down on the top of the cask next to James' hand. "You know why I didn't have a key for those? Same reason why I haven't fired a shot from my pistol or run anyone through with my sword."
James tilted his head almost an imperceptible amount and regarded the man before him.
"The threat of me doing it has always been enough. There's them that become pirates because they like to kill, I won't argue you that point, Commodore. But I'd wager there's them that become soldiers for the same reason, and make no mistake. They don't call ye 'bloody backs' simply for the fine red coats you dress yourself in."
Jack looped the thread back on itself, over and around again into a complicated knot that would hold true until the time came to pull it out. "But I became a pirate so I wouldn't have anyone giving me orders. So I could be free on the water." He bent over James' arm, bit through the thread just above the knot and smiled when he felt the cords in Norrington's arms flex and press against his cheek as a few ropes of his hair swung forward and hit the tender wound. He stepped back with a flourish and secreted away the needle into his hair.
"It's too bad you can't be free on the water, Commodore. I can see it's your home as well as mine," Jack tipped his head towards the man in silent recognition and stepped back.
James looked down at his hand, deep in thought. "I need to wrap this. Dare I hope that you have spare linen on this wreck of a ship?"
Jack traced a finger along the edge of the doorway, turned his face and smiled, "Commodore, you've got an extra bit there at your neck. That should do the trick," and slipped out of the hold and back to the helm to consult with Rachel as to where they would next be traveling.
James, older, far more wiser, sat in his chair reminiscing. He traced the silvery line that meandered over his palm and back behind his thumb, then came to a stop at the great vein in the center of the back of his hand. That had been a turning point for him - his time on the Pearl. He was not blind to the corruption that surrounded him, it was only that he was incorruptible. He had vaguely been aware of the graft and treachery among a few in the Royal Navy, but had, in his youth, believed that by his example both those in his charge and those above whom her respected were beyond the greed and bribery and bring honor back to that which he loved.
If he had been completely honest with himself back then, he would have acknowledged that he loved the sea more than the Navy. There it was, the one thing he and the pirate had in common: the challenges of bad weather, the joy and satisfaction of a team pulling together, each member an extension of the other, the thrill of the sunrise on open water and clear skies ahead, and the chance to do it all again.
Commodore Norrington had been a law abiding man, and had no intention of changing. Then again, he had had every intention of getting married, and look how that had turned out.
"Back in a mo'."
The one-eyed sailor excused himself out the back door while his friend catcalled and grabbed at the beer wench, who in turned stepped neatly on the high point of the man's foot with her heel and ground down.
"Ach, ya barmy bint! I'll have you tossed on yer fat arse for that, Elizabeth!"
James gave a small start. Thirty years and he still winced at the name and the memories they dredged up.
Norrington, the jabot at his officer's blouse neatly torn off and now serving as a bandage, held the cloth in place with his teeth and used his free hand to loop the end under, being cautious to not touch the wound on his hand, and popped his head up through the hatch. Apparently Sparrow had not lied. A good fifty ships surrounded the Pearl, all flying black or defaced colors of the ships' previous owners They appeared to be floating in a large bay, with which James was not familiar. He sank back down a few steps, pulled off his coat that had kept him warm while in the hold, and stepped on deck.
"I do believe you thought I was exaggerating, Commodore."
"I assure you that if I did before, I certainly don't now."
"I suppose I won't have to remind you that you promised not to do anything stupid."
"I promised you nothing, but I warrant that stupidity seems to be your forte, Sparrow. Not mine."
Jack blinked. "Astounding. Truly awe-inspiring, is what it is."
"Thrill me with your meaning."
"Well, fine, I will give you credit for taking off the coat. Say, I don't suppose you would mind terribly locking yourself in my cabin and staying put while I nip on shore for a few supplies so we can be off, do you?"
The cold look of disbelief that seemed permanently etched into Norrington's face slowly turned into a knowing smile. "Are you frightened, Sparrow? A notorious fellow such as yourself scared of the other pirates? I do believe you are the worst pi-"
"You see that flag over there?" Jack pointed to a man-of-war floating nearby.
James squinted, saw the ship, then shouted, "That's the Navigator! Its entire crew was murdered and the ship-"
"Keep your voice down! You don't have any of your crew here to fight alongside you, and believe me, he'll fight. Take a look at that flag. Recognize that?"
James exhaled sharply through his nostrils.
"Thought you would. Then you'll know of his specialty for killing officers and... wearing them? Or parts, at least. Now, I have to say, you'd make as fine a coat as I've seen, love, but who's to know what he'd do to me for keeping you alive?"
James looked sharply at Jack, who grinned to show he was joking. Perhaps.
"Well, then!" Jack clapped his hands together, rubbed them and sauntered to the railing. "I have some skirts to look under - still missing a few crewmen, you see. Then, replenish the food stores, pilfer a few odds and ends, and we'll be off."
"We? As if I have a say in any of this."
"Oh, beg pardon, your Eminence, was there a skirt you needed under...ing?"
"You are as subtle as you are sober."
"Fancy talk for a man that helped me half-empty an entire cask."
"Most of that was lost to your inability to hold a cup steady!"
Jack shrugged. "Gives the room a nice aroma. Now are you going to lock yourself up or aren't you?"
Norrington looked astern and saw a sloop rowing towards one of the other boats, drunken men shouting and laughing, a few women - willingly, it appeared - laughing along with them. He gave Sparrow a curt nod and made for the hatch.
"Get you anything?"
James gave Sparrow a look of disbelief, "Are you asking me?"
Jack loosened the knot holding the small row boat against the hull and shrugged, fingers busy at the task, "Suit yourself."
His belly gave a long, noisy rumble. "Perhaps a few more of those oranges? And I wouldn't say no to any fresh bread. If there's an apothecary, a salve wouldn't go amiss."
Jack laughed softly, turned and looked under his arm at the Commodore. "I'll see what I can do."
James ducked below decks and made for Jack's cabin, and held his grin until the door was completely shut. Then he began to plan his escape.
~TBC, Here, in fact, yar.
Update cross-posted to pirategasm and sparrington