Title: You Had a Charming Air, All Cheap and Debonair, Part 11/15
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 Disney secretly built this planet, too. DNA? = DisNey Animation. It kinda creeps me out to think of it.
A/N: cherusha is my beta extraordinaire. She beats the holy living crap out of this thing and then feeds me water. someone should really call the authorities.
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
At four bells in the middle watch, Jack left the helm to the care of Gibbs and headed off in search of his passenger. James, standing on the quarterdeck, held tightly to the railing, watching the wake from the rudder crash and roil away from the ship, the moonlight silver on the water. His hands tensed on the polished wood until his knuckles whitened as he heard Jack approach him cautiously.
"Good long way from land, if you fancy a swim home. 'Course, if you did make it back to shore, I'm betting you'd be fitted for a hemp cravat quick as shakes," Jack stood next to him at the railing, shoulder brushing shoulder and traced the whorls and knots with one finger. "Or worse."
James sighed and continued to ignore Jack. When he thought Jack wasn't looking, he tugged at the rings on his finger from his earlier "disguise." They held fast.
"I figured you for a man of action, James, but not a man of any stupidity and don't say anything smart here and spoil the moment we're havin'."
James turned at that, an incredulous look on his face, and found Jack twirling one of his braids, grinning broadly at him. "Thought that'd get you. Look, mate, so you've found out your friends and colleagues want you dead. Know what I call that?"
"What?" James spat out.
James did not smile. It took a bit of effort, but he merely looked up and sighed heavily. "So. Is it to be the shackles again?"
"Kinky bastard. Hadn't thought of it, actually," Jack tugged at his chin braids, thinking.
"Then what?" He reached up and held on to one of the salt-caked ropes, unsure of what his function on this god-forsaken ship was.
"Let's say you catch a few winks, then we'll plan it out come morning."
"If you aren't going to lock me up... Just leave me be."
"Come now, Commodore. Can't stay out here all night; besides, you make the crew nervous."
Jack carefully pulled James' hand from the rope, concern on his face when James made no protest at the touch. "We'll get you all friendly with Margaret, and see if you don't feel better about things-"
"Margaret?" James blinked, then remembered who "Margaret" was and rolled his eyes. He jerked his arm out of Jack's grasp and strode across the deck to the hatch.
"I'm perfectly fine sleeping in a berth, the hold, or up top."
"Steerage is presently occupied with... a few things the boys picked up while I was under the Crown's hospitality, so that's out. You'll be underfoot on deck - this ain't a man-o-war, James," Jack clapped him on his shoulder and leaned in, eyes wide and innocent. "And pardon me for noticing, but yer a bit tall to be curled up like a snail in a berth with the others."
Jack hopped one foot onto a coil of heavy rope to bring their eyes level and cocked an eyebrow. "See what I mean? And I'm fairly certain Gibbs had the bed de-loused. Take it, and with my compliments."
James eyed Jack cautiously. He knew that a break from the rough voices of the other pirates - one in particular - would help him think more clearly. And he needed a plan. Without breaking eye contact, James stepped to the opposite side of the hatch. He popped down the hole and walked to Jack's quarters, pacing outside the doorway trying to decide if he would even enter, as if resting in the pirate's quarters would somehow make him an accomplice to the man's crimes.
He poked his head in, half-expecting to find chests of gold and gems or ropes of pearls hanging from the ceiling. What he found instead was what he remembered from his brief incarceration a few years prior: a simple platform bed bolted to the floor planks, a writing desk, a stool... and his wig. After blinking incredulously at it for a few moments, he decided it wasn't anything he would ever consider claiming ownership to again.
My god, are those- ?
It seemed that Jack had taken the task of making a statement of individuality with one Commodore James Norrington's wig into a favored past time. Doubloons, galleons, metal bells and bits of ribbon were twisted into a multitude of plaits set haphazardly around the wig's crown. The carefully curled bobs at the side were twisted into dreadlocks with shells worked into the knotted mass here and there.
That bloody wig cost more than my damned sword! James gave a dry laugh. In his current situation, having an officer's wig in dress conditions was the last thing he needed to worry about. But then, he had forgotten how it felt to be bareheaded on a ship; he hadn't experienced that since he was a young man and a secret part of him thrilled at the freedom.
James sat on the corner of the small bed and scrubbed tiredly at his face and head. He then linked his fingers together and cradled the back of his skull, thumbs tapping to match his heart, willing himself to slow down and think. He had believed Honeychurch to be an honorable man. And all these years he's been skimming off the stolen goods- People have died at the hands of those pirates! He wondered how many others were filthy. How many other officers that swore oaths to the Crown were of the same mind as Honeychurch. And how many more wanted him dead.
James Norrington was the most successful pirate hunter in the whole of the Royal Navy and if there were others out there that had struck bargains for their own profit, then he truly was a marked man as Jack had said. His head pounding, he laid back on the bed, eyes staring at the ceiling, until he fell into a fitful doze.
He awoke only a few hours later as the bells signaled the shift change at 4 AM. After a brief moment of disorientation in the dark, he remembered where he was.
He rubbed his eyes, stretched his legs and rotated his ankles. Margaret was comfortable, to be sure, but she was a short lass as well - his feet just hung over the edge. The best way for a tall man to sleep in a short bed was on his side. James flipped over, mouth stretching to accommodate a bone-cracking yawn and his knees struck something solid.
Wouldn't put it past him to sleep with a part of his contraband. He thought, reaching down to knock whatever it was off the bed and got a handful of hairy knee instead.
"Not now, Rachel, s'Margaret's turn."
"I am not Rachel and what the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" James shot out of bed, checking himself from top to bottom to ensure nothing on his person was missing, molested, or otherwise maligned.
Jack lifted his face from the pillow, pried open one sleepy eye and looked about the darkened room. "Suzette?" A brief pause before, "...Antoine?"
"Oh, for God's sake would you wake up!"
Jack stood, stretched his arms and yawned, then scratched his belly. "Didn't mean to offend, Antoi-. James! James. Didn't mean nothing by it," He reached up and held on to a beam overhead to steady himself and yawned hugely. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to-"
"Don't mind? And get back to what precisely, and why on earth are you starkers?"
"Because I don't like being strangled when I sleep, and are you telling me that after a life in the Navy you've never seen another man in his skin before?" Jack dropped one hand from the rafter and rubbed at his ribs, his head tilting to the side and eyes boring into James'. "Or is it the sight of me that's making you red-faced like that, love?"
It was the final straw. That the filthy, lice-riddled pirate would dare suggest or even insinuate anything licentious between the two of them... And that, coupled with the earlier attempts on his life, and the newly gained knowledge that everything he held dear, everything that he had based his principles on was tarnished and corrupt, pushed James to his absolute limit. He crossed the room and punched Jack in the jaw with all his might, then stood with his fist raised and watched with pleasure as Jack sank to the ground. James took the covering off the bed and strode to the stairs choosing to sleep under the stars rather than stay in the same room as the indecent pirate.
Back down in the cabin, a tattooed and ringed hand reached up, felt about the top of the bed, searching, grabbed the pillow, and pulled it down to the floor. Within seconds, Jack was snoring, his hand clutching at the warmth that radiated off the place on the pillow where James had previously been. James, on the other hand, now safely one deck up, spent several minutes wedging his body under one of the cannons and cocooned himself in the threadbare blanket. He slept with one eye open.
Which is to say that he hardly slept at all. Jack, however, appeared shortly after daybreak on deck with a spring in his step and a grin on his face. James tried to untangle his limbs from under the cannon and while lying on his side in an attempt to pull his feet from between two iron straps, was presented with two worn boots standing only inches from his face. A quiet pinging from the gun sounded as Jack dropped a ringed hand on its top for support. The next second his smiling mug was peering underneath at James.
"Good morning, starshine. Sleep alright, did you?" Jack moved back, and tapped each finger rhythmically on the top of cold metal. "Not even the gunners sleep with the guns, James."
James reached up, wrapped an arm about the iron brace circling the cannon and tried to pull his lanky form out from under it. His legs were tangled in the struts that kept it bolted to its wheeled decking.
"S'like putting mittens on a pig. Here." Jack reached his hand out, but James slapped it away with a grunt and continued untangling his limbs. The problem was that the long nine's wheeled deck kept rolling back and forth and prevented him from getting out properly. He could either hold it steady or crawl out. James laid his head back on the ship's deck with a thunk and a sharp exhale, then turned his head to the side. With a sigh, he took the hand that had appeared again. Jack grabbed his elbow with his other hand and held him steady while James crab-walked his legs out from under the cannon. He tried to stand with what little dignity remained, straightening his shirt and raising his chin.
Jack handed him a mug of coffee.
"I don't understand you, Sparrow."
"No matter, don't understand meself, most times." Jack turned towards the water and fidgeted with a rope, watching James out of the corner of his eye. "Margaret's better company, eh?"
James' eyes narrowed over the rim of his mug, "I daresay. Unfortunately, she appears to be attached," he sipped. "To a monkey."
Jack tilted his chin down to his chest to hide a grin. "Thing is, she's not partial to just the monkey. Anyone what needs a good stretching out or bit of a rest is welcome to her. Ahh, Margaret," Jack looked under his ridiculously long eyelashes towards James with a cheeky grin. "Friendly lass. You're welcome to her, mate, and with my compliments," he repeated.
"Now let's get down to business. And by that I mean, you and I. Commod-, James," Jack inclined his head, unsure of whether James would still want the title. "I have a plan."
~TBC, I swear on me mother's eyes.
cross posted to pirategasm and sparrington