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, Disney even owns an ISLAND. I, however, realize only one of you is reading this sentence and I have a fat cat.
A/N: There are betas in the world, and they make your writing better. Really. I have two: floweringjudas andcherusha. They rock.
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
Norrington's eyes narrowed, not sure if he should even waste his time listening to Sparrow. "Out with it."
Jack focused on a bit of crumbling stone in the wall, rubbed the mortar with his finger, and mumbled, "Problem is... I didn't get the best of looks at him, only heard his voice."
"Right. Rather convenient, that," James stood still, bounced his knee and straightened his spine. "They'll hang you in the morning, Sparrow," James dropped the harsh tone to his voice. "And this time there will be no escaping it."
Jack looked up at that, flashed a grin that didn't quite meet his eyes and replied, "I know. It appears the noose finally caught up with me, eh? If it changes anything, I wasn't stealing when they nabbed me."
James raised an eyebrow.
"I was putting something back."
"You were caught in the Governor's daughter's room, Jack!"
"Exactly! I was putting her back!"
James stood still, mouth agape.
"I didn't touch her, James! I can't help that she fancied me, now can I? Don't care for blondes anyhow. Skin's too pale - sun ruins it, you see." Jack fiddled with the front of his shirt, thinking hard, "Commodore - I don't suppose I could ask a favor of you?"
"You can ask, but that doesn't merit that I'll do it."
"Make sure they toss me to Her, when it's done. Let the sea carry me down to my final resting place. I ask you, sailor to sailor, aye?"
James regarded the quiet calm that seemed to envelop Sparrow. He took a step closer to the bars, uncrossed his hands from behind his coat, and slipped one through the bars. Jack made a face and clutched at his shirtfront, unsure of what to do. Then, realizing it was no trick, carefully took the proffered hand and shook it.
"You were a... worthy adversary, Sparrow. May God have mercy on your- "
Jack gave an almighty heave on James' hand, pulling him up against the bars, then reached through and pulled Norrington's sword from its sheath and ran it through the man dressed in a red coat who had slowly been approaching the Commodore from behind with a dirk drawn.
The man staggered, gave a high-pitched scream and yelled, "Ahh! You filthy bugger-"
He fell onto his side, clutching low at his abdomen, red seeping thickly through his fingers. James pulled himself free of the bars and kicked the man onto his back, drawing his sword from the man's belly.
"I"ve - I've never seen this man before in my life!"
Jack pressed his face into a gap in the bars to get a close look at the dead man. "Wasn't him anyway."
James whirled to face Sparrow. "What do you mean it wasn't him?"
"I mean, James, that it wasn't him I overheard planning to kill you. Had a deeper voice. Authoritative," Jack tilted his head and smirked slightly, "like a Commodore. Hmm. Perhaps just a Captain."
"But that's ridiculous. The only other commanding officer here is Honeychurch, and his retirement ceremony is tonight."
"Well, that's him then."
"Tell you what, slip me out of here, let me hear the man give his speech, skulk about a few taverns gleaning what nefarious information I can about regarding any hired attacks on your person, I'll let you know if it's him or not, and we'll be square."
"Square? Do you honestly think that giving me one bit of information will make us square, Sparrow?"
Jack steepled his fingers under his chin, lost in thought, "I'll give you back your hat?"
James exhaled slowly through his nostrils and made to leave when Jack pressed his face up against the bars, hands reaching out, "Commodore! Don't you wonder... why a fellow officer wants you dead? I could find out. Me being a... well. What I am? I can slip into places you never could. I can insinuate myself in with the darkest of men... Come on, mate! Life for a life? I wasn't lying about someone wanting to kill you, at least you can see that much!"
Commodore Norrington had to admit Jack was right about the immediate threat to his life. But to let Jack Sparrow free? Still, James was a man of honor. A life for a life. "Well, Captain Sparrow. It seems I've finally discovered a use for you."
James stepped back into the shadows and took the large iron ring from the wall and slipped the key into the lock of the cell. "As you have no honor to swear by, I'll ask you to swear on the one thing I know you truly love. The Pearl. I overheard orders given for it to be sunk at dawn - to coincide with your hanging, you see. If your intelligence proves to have merit, I'll be sure to see that she isn't, nor will you hang. If it doesn't, then your appointment with the gallows stands."
Jack nodded solemnly. "We have an accord. Fine then. I'll just nip off to a tavern or two, dig up some old acquaintances, and-"
"Not so fast. To think that I'd just turn you out and hope you'd deliver the information to me? You should know by now that I'm not a fool, Sparrow."
James turned the heavy key inside the lock; the tumblers released with a loud clang. "I'm going with you."
"Oh, there never were a gibbet nor cell what would hold Captain Jack Sparrow, try as they might. He slipped away the night afore he was to swing, and with a new First Mate to boot."
"Ach, hear him now! Probably laid plans to blow apart The Scourge and his ship that very night, him and his canny new friend."
Norrington picked at a chip in the counter where he sat. They hadn't made the final plans that night, no, but James had discussed his 'final exit' with Jack the next day. And that had become his most effective tool against piracy in his entire career. But first, he had to discover who was trying to kill him. James sighed into his glass. Treachery among his enemies was to be expected. Treachery among his peers? It wasn't the Navy that James had honored, which had been exactly the mindset Jack had hoped for.
"Oh, you can't be serious, mate."
James stood ramrod straight, hands clasped behind him and kept an eye on Sparrow, who was currently pacing Norrington's quarters. "I beg your pardon?"
"First off, you'll have to get that stick you've jammed up yer arse out, second, you'll need to dirty up yer fine clothes a bit, and third," Jack chewed the inside of his lip and regarded the Commodore. "Don't open yer mouth. The... words. They all come out wrong from it."
"They most certainly do no- "
"See? Fine example of what not to say, Commodore. I have it! We'll pass you off as a mute." Jack snapped his fingers and tapped James in the center of his chest. "A mute eunuch. Keep the whores off you." He tipped James a magnanimous wink.
James continued his baleful glare.
"No? I -" Jack dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "I didn't think you'd appreciate the, er, ladies clawing at you." He fixed Norrington with a knowing stare. "Because I've heard-"
"You've heard what?"
Jack pantomimed locking his mouth up and throwing away the key. "Not a thing. Still, it's best that you stay quiet. You don't seem to be able to help.. well, help how you sound. We'll just let me do the talking, and you do the listening, savvy?"
"This may be the worst idea I've ever-"
"Enough of that, let's mess up your clothes. Here- " Jack pulled off the extra fabric at his waist and motioned for James to tie it about his head, " put that on and we'll grab a pint and a fine piece of... information."
James rolled his eyes and made a moue of disgust at the filthy scrap of material. Nonetheless, he tied it over his shortly cropped hair, untied the jabot at his neck, unbuttoned the top few fastenings of his blouse, and tried to drop his shoulders to better appear the sluggard.
Jack surveyed the Commodore, arms crossed and hand at his lip, tugging. "You don't have a looser pair of breeches, do you? I ask because it'll be hard to pass you off as a eunuch in those tight-"
"That will be quite enough, Mr. Sparrow!"
Jack gave a low chuckle. "Take it as a compliment. Now. Get out there and muck yourself up a bit. We have scoundrels and assassins to uncover! And I could really use a drink."
If James Norrington hadn't been a respected Naval officer with years of training under his belt, a passer-by might have believed a tall, imposing man with a clean white blouse and a filthy rag on his head was stomping down the cobblestone path. Which he wasn't. Not at all. Jack weaved side to side behind him, laughing to himself.
"NOT. ONE. WORD."
Jack held a finger to his lips. "Wouldn't dream of it, mate. Hang on..."
James stopped, rested his hands on the railing, the sea and village below, and sighed heavily. Jack wrenched a few rings off his fingers and handed them to James. "Slip those on, doesn't matter which ones. And here-"
Jack stepped out of the way for a mule-drawn cart, raised his eyebrow, bent low, scooped up a handful of muck from the stone floor where the cart has passed and smeared it over James' shirt front and the exposed portion of his chest. He then used James' trouser legs to wipe his hand clean. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to get a tattoo or three before we try this, eh?"
James stood, chest slumped over, hands outstretched, mouth working to try and find any words at all.
"No? Hmm. Well, then, we'll head off to the scullery, find a nice, fresh pile of scales and such, get you to roll arou-"
"If you so much as finish that word I will run you through on a pike and cut your-"
"-nd. Uh oh." Jack's eyes were round, his hands outstretched. "Now, listen, I was just wanting you to fit in, 's all! You're too clean, mate! Er... buy you a drink, sailor?"
James paused a beat before, "I really want to kill you right now."
"Sure you do. Wouldn't know what to think if you didn't." Jack patted James' chest, then pulled his hand away with a face. "You're a bit sticky. A drink is what's needed! I know a particular place filled with a most unsavory lot. Should prove to be fruitful."
"Get on with it, then."
"To the left, Commo- James. Mind if I call you Jim? No? Fine, fine, I'm warning you, though - keep an eye peeled for Maisri, her that runs the ale tap. She hears that silken voice of leadership," Jack looked down quickly to hide his smile, "and she'll be on you like a pig to pears. Or... whatever pigs eat."
Jack slunk through the open doorway to a rowdy public house and sank into the crowd. James saw the filthy, loud, dangerous lot of vagabonds, sailors, and thieves inside, then looked down at his costume. He spied a half-drunk mug of ale resting on an upturned cask, heaved a sigh, and dumped it down the front of his shirt. As he walked through the doorway, he reached up high overhead and caught a bit of soot off the grimy ceiling with his fingertips, closed his eyes for a moment of strength, and smeared his cheek with it. Jack was sitting along the far wall at a table with an empty chair next to him. He was grinning from ear to ear and patting the seat next to him.
"This had better be worth it, " James muttered, "or by God, I really will hang him twice."
~TBC, or I'll swing with the corbies feastin' on me bones.
Update cross-posted to pirategasm and sparrington