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 own everything except my little pack of tissues here.
A/N: Thanks go to floweringjudas for the beta work and for tucking my participles back in.
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
Jack climbed the rope ladder that hung over the port side of the Pearl; a rope tied around a smallish sack was clutched in his teeth. He spat the rope out, dropping the sack on the deck, and began the tedious process of hauling the row boat back up into position. The remaining crewmen that he had managed to locate weren't expected back to the ship until close to sunset - all the better for feigning drunkenness. They would then sneak off in the night as the tide rolled out.
"James!" Jack hollered over his shoulder, pulling the rope through a block, then wrapping the painter in a figure-eight around an iron cleat to secure the small boat. "James, I found a lovely and accommodating lass that made a salve for you," his voice dropped low and he smiled to himself with the memory. "Didn't ask for much - nothing I wasn't willing to offer, at any rate."
Jack opened the dampened bag, fished out the vial of ointment for Norrington's wound, and crossed the deck to the hatch below. "James? Look, I can't call you by your title in case I'm overhe- ," Jack tripped on the coaming around the hatch and stumbled down the stairs to the deck below, "-heard. Ouch. No chance of that now, at any rate, COMMODORE!"
Jack tip-toed to the partition that marked his cabin and listened. No sounds. He burst into his room, finger pointing. "Dammit. That's more impressive when I use a weapon of some sort."
There were footsteps behind him. Jack whirled around, finger pointed, again. "DAMN. Have to remember that it’s more impress - wait. Said that already. Where the bloody hell have you been?"
Norrington used the remaining frills of his shirt front that he had torn off to wipe the moisture from his neck. "Astern having a shave. Bit of a risk, leaving knives where your prisoners can find them."
Jack gave a nervous grin. "Fresh and clean, are we?"
"Again with the 'we.' "
"Brought you a salve. Ilsa says to spread it on nice and thick every night. She also said something about if I ever come back to Exuma to be well fed and without responsibilities for several days." Sparrow smirked to himself and rummaged further in his sack.
And now James knew where they were. It wouldn't do to let Jack know of his slip up, however. "Do you mean to tell me that in the short period of time that you were gone you managed to... Well."
"To what? Have a bite to eat? To drink a pint of ale? To have a long, slow walk on a beach, dreaming of how one day I might become a fine, upstanding Commodore such as yourself?"
"You know perfectly well what I mean. It's barbaric."
Jack leaned against the doorway on one arm, a finger tracing the edge of his head scarf and a wolf's grin on his face. "That's what makes it feel so good, Commodore." His face slipped into one of confusion. "Did you say 'short' period of time? Because I assure you it was long enough and-"
"Oh, for God's sake shut up. Now, are you going to toss me overboard, hand me to the pirates, or are you incapable of planning anything in advance?"
Jack checked the contents of the bag once more, set it inside a drawer and turned to Norrington, "Don't tell me you're not enjoying me company, James! After all, I did bring you this." Jack tossed a loaf of bread over and, once James sank his teeth into its chewy crust, pulled a sword that looked familiar and held its blade to Norrington's neck.
"Commodore. It isn't that I don't trust you. ...Well, actually, it's that precisely. I'll take that knife you pilfered." James carefully held out the haft of the knife, trying to not press his neck against the sharp point of the sword and gave a small start.
"That's my sword!"
"Lovely piece of work, too. I believe our friend Mr. Turner made this. Funny that we're in Elizabeth Harbor, which is right next to William Town. Appropriate, don't you think? Closest you'll ever get to being in Elizabe-"
"That's quite enough!"
Jack pulled the sword back again with a knowing grin, sheathed it at his belt, and twirled the knife blade on the rough pad of his forefinger. "Nice bit of thievery, Commodore. Should I take your left hand? Or just leave you with a brand?"
Commodore James Norrington stood tall, hands at his side and looked just over the pirate's shoulder, resolute. At that moment, the boat rocked to the side with the weight of the crew climbing aboard the cargo net on the starboard side, laden with supplies. A loud boom sounded that caused both Jack and James to flinch and turn. Footsteps overhead quickly turned to Sparrow's bo's'un, Mr. Gibbs, at the door, breathing heavily.
"Captain, one of t'other ships have caught a Lobsterback - they're stringing him up and having a small... party." Mr. Gibbs leered at the Commodore.
Jack frowned, "Hrmph. Didn't get an invitation... Mr. Gibbs."
"Did you get the thing and the other?"
Mr. Gibbs touched his nose, pointed to Jack and nodded.
"Good work, oh, and try not to leave your blade lying around. Anyone could pick it up, you see." Jack handed the knife that the Commodore had stolen back to its rightful owner. Mr. Gibbs stiffened, mouthed "bloody thief" towards Norrington, and took his leave to haul up the rest of the supplies.
"Commodore? Are we still in agreement that you should stay put? Or if you'd rather let your hair down, live a little, and die painfully, by all means, feel free to jump ship."
James scowled and locked eyes with the smiling pirate.
"Excellent. And if you don't mind my leaving you, I have to feign drunkenness, shoot off some cannon fire for show, then cut and run so we can get away from these savages." He turned on his heel, whistling, and made to prepare the ship for its departure.
James sat on Sparrow's bed, reached under the coverings, and pulled out the second knife he had found and tucked it safely into his waist band under his increasingly more ragged shirt. Now that he knew they were in Exuma, he would wait until nightfall as the ship sailed out of the harbor, make his escape, and find his way upland to where he knew a handful of British landowners owned cotton plantations.
While he waited for nightfall, he decided to doctor his hand in the interim. Jack had left the small jar of salve on the writing desk; James opened it and gave a double take, then sniffed the contents.
"It's... this is mango chutney, you incompetent!"
"'Twas a ghost ship."
The one-eyed sailor crossed himself and clutched a bit of iron he kept around his neck. MacDougal, glassy-eyed, stared off into nothingness and gave a shudder.
"The Black Pearl was haunted before Sparrow ever took her over, and haunted she remains."
"Oh, the sight o'black sails fills me with a cold dread, MacDougal! I've heard that all who board it are cursed, and the night will take the crew as it sees fit."
Well that was certainly true enough. Norrington gave a short laugh, hidden in the mouth of his drink. Sparrow had been a very clever man by far. The port of Exuma was overrun with pirates, and the most notorious ones at that. Jack came to find that everything worth stealing had already been stolen. The legitimate inhabitants of the small island were high inland, protected by the wild jungle that ringed their plantations and a few British soldiers. As there was nothing worthwhile for a pirate aside from robbing fellow pirates, Jack had decided to cut the rope holding the anchor and float away with the tide until they were far out enough to either fill their sails or put oar to water without bringing attention to themselves. Sparrow had no intention of being robbed by his colleagues.
One of the pirate crews had braved the overgrown jungle and captured one of the militia men stationed with the civilians. A regret that James carried for the rest of his years was that he was unable to do anything to save the poor soul. He was practical, however, and knew there wasn't anything he could have done alone. During the melee that ensued upon the soldier's capture and subsequent torture, Sparrow and his crew were able to fade back into the sea with the leaving tide due to their fortunate position in the bay and the Devil's own luck.
There had been enough fireworks and cannon fire to create a false fog upon the water. The Pearl disappeared into the night.
As they rounded the bay and began the process of weaving through the many small cays that surrounded Exuma, all hands were on deck working the sails. Back in the captain's cabin, James doffed his tattered stockings and boots, gripped the purloined knife in his teeth, and climbed out the window, silent as the ghosts purported to inhabit the Pearl. Quietly he lowered himself into the water and let the wake of the ship carry him back towards the shoreline. He struggled through a riptide until able to stand on a sandbar and catch his breath. Just ahead lay the uninhabited shore, the jungle almost reaching all the way to the sea. Off in the distance to his left he could see the flashes of cannon muzzles, their dissonant booms following several seconds behind the flashes. A sensible landowner would be wary of any stranger approaching after dark this night. He would need to bide his time in the dense overgrowth until morning.
He sank back into the water and swam to shore.
Update cross-posted to pirategasm and sparrington