Title: You Had a Charming Air, All Cheap and Debonair, Part 15/15
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 Own nothing, make not one red cent, the House of Mouse owns all. And you haven't seriously read this sentence, have you?
[Prologue, 1] [2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ]
James set his mug down on the worn bar in front of him, riveted in his seat. He had first thought the old sailor looked like a natural storyteller, and it seemed that once again, James Norrington's - Handsome Jim to those that asked - instinct had been as true as ever. He had come across various tales of the "great battle" between himself and Sparrow, but they were either so far-fetched, "The Hand of Satan himself came up and clutched them both to their watery graves;" insulting, "The Scourge was afeared of the Pirate King - king? - and made his last days raising sheep in the Americas;" or absolutely preposterous, "I heard that Old Jack sang a song to the sea, and a great whale ate The Scourge, and carried Sparrow down to a watery kingdom of mermaids," that he hardly listened to the tales anymore.
But this old man seemed to have the very legend that Jack had created that one morning long ago on the decks of the Black Pearl. James had scoffed at the plan - such ridiculousness. He couldn't believe that anyone would believe such an outlandish fish tale, especially based on the words of a few soggy and moaning sailors plucked from the waves. But Jack knew a bit more about the common man than did James, and the plan had worked.
"Waiting fer The Scourge? Bless my soul..." The one-eyed pirate crossed himself again, and James rolled his eyes thinking that should either of those two old codgers actually die tonight, they would be blessed above and beyond need to enter the pearly gates. "But what of the whale?"
"Ach, and there's where ye ken how crazed both men had become. Blown from his ship, bloody and half-broke though the Scourge was, he had called upon unnatural powers himself and weren't finished, not by a shot. He found his musket and was aimin' t'shoot Sparrow off the deck when Old Jack caught sight of him amongst the waves and dove in."
Old one-eye gasped.
"Yar. Crazed Jack was, too. And there they were, cussin' and bitin' and scratchin', tryin as best as he could t'kill the other one, both almost drownin' from the effort. The crew of the Pearl hollered out and threw a line to their captain, for they could see the great black shape rising from the depths o'the sea. But they were both so fixed on ending the other, they never saw what was coming. The sea roiled and boiled and split apart right underneath them, then both men shot up into the air, still locked in their battle. The great fish's mouth pushed them up, tossed 'em, ye might say, then -" He clapped his hands together and lowered them. "Swallowed them both up, with naught a boot nor tooth to send home to bury."
"And to this day..."
MacDougal nodded, "To this day sailors pass by that part o'the sea by Bermuda. Whole ships'll go missing, such is the Sparrow's wrath at bein' ate whole and losing his ship while mortal."
The one-eyed sailor sat back, gobsmacked. James, while impressed with the old man's storytelling, knew that he was still in this mortal coil, and not serving as a meal to a great whale on the bottom of the ocean. And he also knew with certainty that Jack Sparrow was not presently a ghost haunting the Pearl, or any other ship. Just my home, but that's neither here nor there. Amazing how a simple plan had burgeoned into the very legend Jack had prophesied. But is it prophecy if you make it come to pass?
The crew aboard the Pearl opened a few sails and weighed anchor, moving into firing range, but out of range of any debris. Anamaria and Jack handpicked four trustworthy crewmen, headed up by the bo's'un, Mr. Gibbs, to knock each other about so as to bruise and bloody themselves accordingly - with promise of recompense in the form of gold or rum, take their pick - and then they would board a jollyboat and remain near the wreckage. Jack gave the signal and the gunners fired the cannons. The third cannon struck the very heart of the man-of-war and she went up with a massive explosion. Flaming bits of wood and sail - and some bodies, James was horrified to see - fell back to the water with sickening plops. A large column of smoke was already climbing high in the sky.
After a moment of surveying the wreckage, James felt Jack's hand lay softly on his shoulder. "Weren't anyone worth savin', she tells me. They came across another pirate ship, and the damage had been done. She's a good woman, and a good captain, besides." The tension left his shoulders at that. No matter how much he may have wanted to live, he would never had consented to saving his own life by taking the life of anyone else. "Such waste. So many lives lost for the sake of a bit of gold. I'll assume they were pirates as well?"
Jack gave his shoulder a final squeeze then stepped back to the helm. "Aye. Slaughtered by another ship when they didn't feel like givin' up what they had taken. Look sharp, James. Make sure those men get lowered and have their stories straight."
James gave a small nod, then walked with Mr. Gibbs to the jollyboat where the other three men were waiting.
"Fer an uptight Navy man, ye turned out okay, lad. You know... I didn't desert 'cause I was lazy. It was 'cause I was tired of toeing the line t'so many rules that I couldn't get to the sailin' part. That's all a man like me wants, anyway."
James gave Mr. Gibbs a small smile and a nod. "Let's get your men lowered. And mind that you all keep quiet except for Gibbs, here, or you'll not get your pay, understood?"
The men looked up into the fierce face of James Norrington, standing tall and proud on the deck and all broke into grins. "Yar!"
James rolled his eyes, turned, and smiled. He crossed the deck to Jack at the helm, also known as Rachel, and pulled Jack's spyglass from its cubby.
"And that's all? You honestly think blowing up a ship, planting a few stories is all that's needed for this plan of yours to work?"
Jack took a step back, motioned for James to take the wheel, and leaned against the low railing of the quarterdeck. "Fairly certain. Pretty sure. Most likely," he scratched his chin braids, deep in thought. "Well, if not, it was great fun blowing up one of the Crown's beloved ships. Besides, the hold's loaded up with a fair amount of yer friend Honeychurch's stolen goods, so we're stickin' it to him no matter what, eh?"
"Sparrow-!" James warned.
"Relax, James. Hmm. Better come up with an alias. Jim worked. Besides, it's close enough to your true name that you're apt to not forget to answer when called. How about..." He spread his hands wide, looking off in the distance, "Handsome Jim?"
James rolled his eyes.
"No, no, it's got a certain ring to it. You'll have to grow your hair out. Get an earring. Possibly a tattoo. Say, I know a girl in Freeport does this thing with dragons, we'll-"
"The first thing we are going to do it make port and get me off this blasted ship. I have a letter to a governor that needs writing, or have you forgotten?"
"Fine, fine. We're close to me home, anyway."
"You have a home?"
"Never use it. Won it off a captain in a game of cards."
"Oh, I can play cards, James. Jim. But if I had won that night..." Jack broke into a grin.
James gave his head a small shake. "Even you aren't so arrogant to try and make me believe you had all of this planned from that night."
"Planned? 'Course not. But I've not had as much fun in all me days sailing as I've had with ye, and that's the honest truth."
The two looked up and saw MacTavish waving from the crow's nest. Jack turned to James, clapped his shoulder, smiled broadly and said, "Welcome to your new life, Jim."
MacDougal reached into his pocket for enough coins to pay the tab when the barkeep stayed his hand. "Been taken care of," and the barkeep nodded towards the door, then shrugged. "Musta left already."
MacDougal and his friend beamed drunkenly at each other. All that drinking and not a penny spent - it had been a good night for the both of them. Outside the tavern, James shrugged on his coat and sank back into the shadows, waiting. After a moment, the two old men came out, arms slung companionably over each other's shoulders, and staggered their way to the docks. James was curious as to which ship they belonged to - and whether it was legitimate or not. He still had a letter to write before the night was through. Governor Swann, old though he may be, had never failed him in the many years that James - Handsome Jim to those who asked - had been undercover.
The age of piracy was drawing to a close, and James wondered briefly if Jack Sparrow's aging had anything to do with it. He laughed to himself, thinking the old myths and legends from the sailors' stories that night had bled into his subconscious. Jack may be getting on in years and wasn't as driven to take sail and see what could be... found, but James was certain the two weren't connected. Mostly. Fairly certain. Quite possibly completely unrelated.
The sailors made their way to a two-masted ship sitting low in the water - her hold had already been filled, it appeared. The name was printed on the side in gold filigree: The Sparrow. James snorted. Any ship that took that name was most certainly not in the King's Navy. He'd be sure to include the name in his latest missive to Swann. His mission for the night completed, his bones aching from his long day, and his head filled with stories from long ago, James was ready to retire for the night.
He climbed the hill behind the village towards the small cottage overlooking the water and saw a pair of boots sitting by the front door. He looked out to sea and saw black sails on an old ship just before it disappeared behind an outcropping of large rocks. He grinned to himself and picked up his pace, almost home.
James toed off his socks and flexed his long feet before the fire that Jack had built earlier in the night, then sank into his large chair with a sigh.
"Did they mention my deal with the devil?"
James chuckled, "Of course."
"Heh. Sure they did. 'S one of the best parts. Were we locked in a death battle in the ocean, or was it the one where I'm carried down to a watery wedding bed on the backs of virginal mermaids?"
James turned his neck to find his friend in a matching chair inches away, eyes closed and feet at the fire. "Virginal mermaids? I don't believe I've heard that particular version before."
Jack laughed, "Oh, that's one of me favorites. Heard a Mussleman tell it once and 'twas seventy virgins with great silvery fins that saved me from the wicked and ugly Scourge."
Jack cracked one eye and laughed, then rested his hand on his friend's arm. "You got to be Handsome in yer new life, I'm just a ghost. 'Bout as grey as one now at any rate."
James laid his hand over his friend's for a moment, then fell into a companionable silence and eventually was lulled to sleep by the sound of Jack's snoring in his chair.