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 owns all.
A/N: Thanks to both crazydiamondsue and chrissykiedis for the beta work. This fic was written for anelith (and in no small part for my Ru, as well.)
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
"Get your hand off of me!" James knocked Jack's hand away and took a few halting steps back. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
Jack sighed and walked past him to the helm in order to relieve Mr. Gibbs. "Sure ya do."
Bewildered, James followed Jack, spun in a circle as one of the deckhands dashed quickly past him and grabbed his empty mug from his hands, then sped off to the galley.
Jack slowly caressed Rachel, also known as the helm, and held one of the brightly polished spokes in his hand, the very picture of innocence with his eyes wide and a simple smile on his face.
As James paced behind him on the quarterdeck, he kept up a rambling monologue, occasionally throwing hateful glares at Sparrow's back.
"Do not presume to know so much about me that you can make decisions based on my- ," he stopped, exhaled sharply, and pivoted on his heel to continue his pacing. "Furthermore, we don't have another ship. What you are asking of me is to lie! To give up my career! And for what? Oho, we haven't even discussed what's in all this for you, Sparrow. Surely you aren't doing this just to save my neck."
Jack consulted his compass and gave the great wheel a small turn. "Let out more sail, ye scabrous dogs! We'll spy land by nightfall, or I'll have yer necks!" He shot a glance over his shoulder to James, "But it's such a fine neck, James. Oh, have it your way, we'll lay it all out, right? First, hand me my spyglass - tucked in that cubby by yer knee."
James bent, found the cleverly disguised hole in the side and pulled out the brass telescope. A small object fell out and rolled in an ellipse - two objects, actually. He bent down to pick them up; two earbobs - each ended in a teardrop-shaped pearl from a gold post.
He held them out in his hand, "Bit feminine, even for you, Sparrow."
Jack snatched them back, pulled a bit of cloth from his pocket, wrapped them carefully and stashed them back in their hiding place. "Not fer me. Them's me mum's." Jack took the spyglass from James, who stood gaping, and consulted the horizon.
"Now. We'll be 10 knots off the west coast of Bermuda come nightfall, if this wind holds up. If not, then we'll just have to postpone our little plan until we get there. As fer the ship you'll need, should be one waiting fer us. Anamar- I have someone meeting us and they're bringing one. As to yer nature, well..." Jack pocketed the spyglass, barked out an order, and gave the wheel a half turn. The crew scurried about the deck, taking in sails, adjusting the boom, then as the jib filled with wind, lashed all the sails back into position.
James tried to stay out of the way; he also tried to keep his hands steady and not pitch in. Or give commands. Or yell at some of the crew when they didn't properly perform their tasks. He had either commanded a ship, or been its prisoner. This... standing about and getting in the way was uncomfortable, unfamiliar and altogether unprecedented. It was something else as well, heartbreaking in a way, but James wasn't ready, or possibly just not capable of admitting to that just yet.
"Now. Ye'll be wantin' to know what I'm getting out of this. I won't lie and tell ye it isn't beneficial to me and my men to have you off our backs. Commodore Norrington bein' sighted makes the price of goods go up considerably. To the point where me... colleagues would rather rob each other than work for it proper like."
James snorted. "Work? Unbelieva-"
"As I was saying. If The Scourge is no longer hunting our necks, makes things a bit easier for me, savvy?"
"But I'll not be gone, Sparrow. You seem to be forgetting that part," his eyes narrowed, "unless there's something you are planning and not telling me. Why I ever thought I could trust you-"
"James. Yer not taking in the whole picture, aye? Yer not thinking of the weight of legend. And don't be forgettin' that I'm putting meself in the jaws of death, as well."
"Yes, but you get to be a ghost! I just get to be dead!"
Jack bit his lip to hold back his grin, gave up and chuckled. "No, you'll be one, too. There, there now." He faked a hurt look after James looked at him with utter contempt. "What I'm offering you is a chance to live beyond yer years, James. Not many as could say that. And let's not forget the small part where those that want ye dead believe ye to already be dead. Thus savin' yer neck."
James turned to stare at the sea, hand gripping a line to the sails. "And then what? Sail under your command? Be a crew member to this wretched tub of miscreants? I'll never consent to that, and you should know that much about me and my nature."
A softer voice with no hint of mocking, now. "Aye. I do know that much, James. And do ye honestly think I'd want you on my boat?"
Both men laughed. James turned and rested his back against the railing. "So what, then? If I can't-" He sighed and looked down at his boots and toed a knot in a plank before continuing. "I don't know that my neck is worth all of this. Eventually we all die, Jack. I've been at sea long enough to know that there's no stopping it when your time is up."
Jack was quiet for a few moments, rubbing his hand on the smooth wood of the great wheel. "Ye speak as if yer life was the military, James. Surely there was more to it than the fancy coat and wig," he laughed over his shoulder. "Handsome though the wig may be. Yer an honorable man, I know that much, but more than anything, yer a sailor. Ye want order. Ye want to give the orders - a natural leader, eh? Ye want justice, ye want things to be fair. Stop me if I've said something amiss."
Jack grinned over his shoulder and saw James staring at him intently.
"But what ye've served all these years is flawed. The very men ye respected above others want ye dead and are as filthy as ye believe me to be. But I'll tell you this much," Jack turned, his eyes fierce. "I've killed one man, and it was a man that needed killing," he relaxed his shoulders and gestured with his hands, "and I'm a filthy pirate. So what does that say for your kinsman that wants you dead?"
James absentmindedly twisted the rings on his hand, forgetting momentarily that he had desperately wanted the pirate gold off his person.
"Surely ye can think of an honest man, a trustworthy man to whom ye can... pass information? If the notorious Commodore James Norrington, the evil and terrifying, yet strikingly handsome Scourge is bein' digested in the belly of a whale, then that frees you up to wander about the foulest places on earth to listen to plans bein' made, crews being hired, goods being swiped. You... might... consider learnin' how to keep quiet. Or pick up some bad language along the way. I know a girl that can help you there, show you a few things she learnt with her ton-"
"That's quite enough, Sparrow," he chewed the inside of his cheek, considering his next words. "It would have to be someone I could trust implicitly. A man of honor, but a man with pow-. Ah. I see. Yes, he'll do the job, I'm sure of it. Feels he owes me after his daughter... Well. We'll just say that he feels he owes me a great debt, which is preposterous. This should satisfy his soul, and help me."
James looked up into the shrewd face of Captain Jack Sparrow. "Quite clever. All the-" James made a face and wobbled, hands waving in the air, "is an excellent disguise for a very clever mind."
Jack grinned from ear to ear and made to speak when James cut him off. "And don't get a large head for the smallest of compliments. Saying you aren't a complete idiot isn't saying very much."
"So! I help you, you help me by not turning me in. This is turning out to be a fine day."
Jack turned back to the helm, and began to consult his compass again. James stood slightly behind his shoulder, hands itching to do something. Jack snapped his compass closed, pocketed it and spoke, "Right. All that's left is one more thing."
"And what's that?"
Jack stepped back, gave a slight bow and waved towards the helm. "Letting you get back to your true nature. Take Rachel, James. I believe I'll have a second breakfast."
James blinked, took two steps forward, and gripped the spokes, the wood solid and familiar under his hands. The tension in his shoulders slipped away as he felt the great rudder shudder beneath, sending small tremors up through the wheel.
"You'll want to turn that round thing to keep us going in the right way, which is," he pointed just ahead and to the starboard side, "that way."
"Must you ruin everything?"
Jack laughed and hopped down off the quarterdeck, making his way to the hatch. "And give these men a proper scolding!" He slung an arm over Cotton, dislodging the man's parrot momentarily. "Bunch of good fer nothin' layabouts. Oh! Forgot one more thing."
Jack raced back up to the helm, smiled, pulled the worn tricorn off his head and set it on James' head at a jaunty angle. James went rigid. Jack tapped his chin with his index finger. "The hat was a bit much wasn't it?"
"Get. It. Off. Immediately!"
Jack laughed, pulled it off and clapped it over his headscarf. "We'll pick one up for you when we make land next. Something with a feather!"
Jack danced a small jig as he made his way back to the hatch in search of food. James shook his head, amazed at himself for enjoying the simple act of piloting a ship. Boat. This was definitely a boat.
"You! There at for'castle!"
A young, spotty faced man turned and pointed at his chest. "Me, s-sir?"
"What's your name?"
"Well, McTavish, hoist that sail! Let out all canvas, lads! We've got a fair bit of wind, sun shining on our necks, and open waters. Let's see what this bucket of bolts is capable of doing."
As the crewmen made themselves busy with their tasks, their backs turned, James let his face break into a smile.
~TBC, 'Tis fic here, yarr. Batten down the hatches fer we're finishin' this here fish tale come hell er high water!
cross posted to pirategasm and sparrington