|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2011-06-14 12:04:00
|Entry tags:||coauthor: cruisedirector, potc fic elizabeth/hector/jack/james, potc fic james/will, potc fic we have an accord|
PotC fic: We Have an Accord (1/4) [Elizabeth/Hector/Jack/James/Will, adult]
Title: We Have an Accord (part 1)
Authors: celandineb and cruisedirector
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairings: Jack Sparrow/Elizabeth Swann/Hector Barbossa/James Norrington/Will Turner, in pretty much any permutation you can imagine, Also, Calypso/Davy Jones.
Length: ~37,000 words total; ~9600 in this part
Warnings: Multiple twosomes, threesome, foursome, open marriage, oral sex, anal sex, hints of voyeurism. No tentacles.
Summary: With the aid of the late Will Turner and James Norrington, Elizabeth Swann strikes a deal with Captains Sparrow and Barbossa for passage to the Fountain of Youth.
Note: We began this long, long ago in 2007, and are pleased to be able to present it at last in 2011! Spoilers for POTC:AWE, not canonical with POTC:OST.
There was only one sensible place for Hector Barbossa to look for Jack Sparrow. Jack couldn't sail all the way to Florida in a dinghy, and since Hector had left him in Tortuga with little more than that and a bottle of rum, it was likely that Jack would proceed just as he had when he last pursued the Black Pearl under Barbossa's command: by stealing a ship from Port Royal.
Hector sent Pintel and Ragetti to find Jack. He wasn't foolish enough to leave his ship under the command of anyone else, particularly with those two fools lately from the Royal Navy promising to guard it with their lives. His men wouldn't make the most discreet of inquiries, but at least that would put the word out that anyone who signed up to help Sparrow would soon be pursued by the Black Pearl.
What Hector hadn't counted on was an unexpected visitor.
"Mrs. Turner," he said in his most charming tone. "You're looking none the worse for your condition. In fact, one might even say that you're glowing."
"Captain Barbossa," replied Elizabeth in her typical aristocratic tone. "This is not a social visit. I am here as King of the Brethren Court..."
"Ah, but the court's not a-meetin' now," Hector reminded her with a pleasant smile. "If you want something from me, you'll have to make me an offer, same as any other pirate."
Elizabeth strode forward and Hector reached for his sword. But he didn't relish the idea of fighting a woman who was breeding, and apparently that not-yet-showing belly slowed her down, because she didn't draw a weapon. "I won't see my husband again for almost ten years," she hissed. "I do not intend to spend that time growing old gracefully. I know where you plan to sail this ship, and I want you to take me with you."
Hector found himself smiling widely at her, even though he knew his grin revealed every one of his rotten teeth. "It's not that I wouldn't welcome female companionship, and I know you to be an asset in a hard blow," he said. "But, Mrs. Turner, we find ourselves in a bit of a fix. You see, Jack Sparrow has stolen the navigational charts, and I don't imagine he'll be offering them to me."
"I don't imagine he would offer them to you, no," Elizabeth agreed in a pleasant tone. She moved around the cabin, running her fingers across the smooth wood of the furniture, picking up various trinkets and setting them down again. "Which is why I have a proposition to put to you."
"And just what is it you're thinking to proposition me with?" Hector cocked his head at her. "It cannot be the usual sort of bribe. And I'll have you know that I have a bushel of apples in the galley, all fresh and crisp."
Elizabeth laughed, a short burst that seemed to come unwillingly from her throat. "Yes, I'd heard about that. I've no intention of bribing you with such fripperies as apples or women or even gold. But you see, I believe I may be able to... persuade Captain Sparrow to share those charts with me. For the good of the Brethren, of course. And as you are one of the Brethren..." She raised her eyebrows at him enquiringly. "Would you be interested in a bargain of that nature, Captain Barbossa?"
Hector examined his fingernails. They were long, and yellow, and in need of a clipping. "To my recollection, Jack was none too pleased with your leaving him to the Kraken," he observed. "And the good of the Brethren tends to come and go from Jack's interests -- as I told you once, the Code is more of a guide."
"That isn't what Captain Teague seemed to believe," Elizabeth retorted, making Hector grin again. He suspected that Jack was at least as afraid of his sire as he had been of that poor beast now rotting on an island. "Thanks to you, Calypso rules these seas again, not the East India Company. We pirates still need to work together."
"All right, then, what be you proposing?" Thinking that she might not appreciate rum in her condition, Hector tossed her an apple. "You to convince Jack to give you those charts in return for passage for you both to the Fountain of Youth?"
"For a start," Elizabeth agreed, returning Hector's cunning smile.
"And for a finish?"
She bit into the apple, the juice of it running down her chin. "I should think that knowing the course to the Fountain of Youth would be a sufficient recompense for you to endure Jack's presence on the Pearl. What more do you want, the philosopher's stone? The universal panacea? Jason's golden fleece? Better to keep this bargain simple."
"If left open to renegotiation." Hector swept off his hat and bowed floridly. "Done, then."
"Done. The first thing we must do is find Jack, of course."
Elizabeth had somehow managed to seat herself in Hector's favorite chair. He huffed under his breath and reminded himself that the chit was his best chance for obtaining the charts. And that she was not a bad-looking woman, for a pirate king. "I have men looking for him even now."
She laughed outright at him. "Pintel and Ragetti, so I heard. They'll not find Jack if he doesn't want to be found. But I can. I know Port Royal better than any of your men, and I know which palms to cross with gold for information." Her smile was shrewd. "Growing up as the Governor's daughter had its advantages."
"So you've always made clear, Captain Turner." Hector offered her a sincere tip of his hat, even as he was gesturing to Jack -- that is to say, the monkey -- to follow her. He had few doubts that she would succeed, as she always seemed to do. She was as ambitious as Sparrow and more clever than her husband.
Elizabeth nodded, though her eyes had turned melancholy. "I think that perhaps it had better be Captain Swann," she said. "Will is Captain Turner."
"As you wish," Barbossa agreed, though he couldn't help but wonder what sort of arrangement the pair had made before separating for ten long years. What had she done with the heart? Would it call her husband to her at the right time, no matter the shore upon which she stood? And in the meantime, where would she find solace... and where would he?
Calypso waited until after Will had found James Norrington to put in an appearance.
"I should not be here!" he insisted, spluttering, when they pulled him from the water, one lost soul among many. "I died fighting Jones, on the deck of this ship. Not in the sea!"
"The Dutchman isn't like other ships," Will reminded him. "Davy Jones used to say, 'I am the sea!' If you fell on the deck of the Flying Dutchman, then you died at sea, whether it was the waves that found you or an enemy weapon."
"It was that man," Norrington snarled, pointing past Will at the wheel, and Will turned to see his father lock eyes with the onetime admiral.
"You were aiding the prisoners' escape."
"He wasn't in his right mind at the time," Will threw in hastily. "Commodore Norrington. Do you really wish to return to that?" He gestured at the fleet of tiny bobbing boats, each with its own pale occupant. "I know you do not fear death, or you'd have accepted the offer I've no doubt Jones made you, but you're too good a man to let go so easily."
Norrington still glared. "Flattery from the blacksmith?"
"From the captain of the Dutchman," said Bootstrap, and Will stifled a groan. His father doubtless meant well, but Norrington was not likely to listen to the man who had killed him.
"About your duties, man." Will turned to Norrington, who wore an expression of surprise. "I am the captain now, and unlike Jones I intend to fulfill my duties."
"You're... captain?" Norrington frowned. "According to the tales I heard..."
"Yes, ten years before I may again step on dry land, and that -- in part, at any rate -- is why I have need of you."
Norrington's frown, at least, had softened into something that spoke if not of respect, then at least of sympathy. "Let me fill you in a bit," added Will. "Elizabeth sailed the Empress to Shipwreck Cove, where the Brethren Court was meeting. The pirate lords made her their king." He enjoyed the look of surprise in Norrington's eyes -- Norrington had always underestimated Elizabeth, and himself. "Captain Barbossa convinced the other pirate lords to free the sea goddess who had charged Jones with ferrying the souls of the dead to the world beyond this one. Beckett and Jones were both killed, and the rest of the East India Company's armada turned back."
"Killed?" Norrington asked ironically. "As I was killed? And Captain Barbossa?" His eyes had traveled the crease in Will's shirt to the still-red scar above his heart. "How did you come to command the Flying Dutchman?"
"Killed, or passed on... it makes little difference." Though Will knew that that was not exactly true. Nobody, not even he, knew what had become of Davy Jones. Was the Dutchman's former captain trapped in his own version of eternal damnation, or had Calypso forgiven him in the end? "I stabbed his beating heart. I don't remember much about it... I was dying myself. Jack gave up immortality to bestow it upon me."
"I didn't realize that you and Captain Sparrow were on such intimate terms," Norrington said with only the faintest hint of sarcasm.
"Oh, and Elizabeth... I married her."
It wasn't as if the engagement was unknown to Norrington, though he might not have been aware that the ceremony itself had been interrupted by Cutler Beckett's unexpected and unwelcome interference. Nevertheless the man went white to the lips, as if he had been struck a blow.
"You married? When? How could you..." Norrington trailed off, shaking his head.
"During the fight with the East India Company. Barbossa married us." Will shrugged. "I grew tired of waiting for the opportune moment, and followed the proverb of my former trade, to strike when the iron was hot."
"So you did so before you became the captain of this ship. I understand better, now."
"Surely you wouldn't think that I'd have tied her to me so hopelessly otherwise?" asked Will with some heat. "Do you think me less willing than you were to give her up, if that were in her best interests?"
"Ah, but she wished to wed you. Our circumstances were quite different. Not that it matters now." Shaking his head, Norrington looked around the deck. "Should I presume that over the years I will have the dubious pleasure of developing the same tentacular and shelly excrescences that that other sailor had, though he's now apparently lost them with the change of captain? And, if I may ask, why is it that you felt the need to restore me to this unwanted semi-life? I was quite content to travel the Styx... I even looked forward to the waters of Lethe, if they truly exist."
"Perhaps the Water of Life might interest you even more?"
Will could see that Norrington was about to offer a retort about that legend when something crawling on the deck caught his eye. It was a crab. Normally Will would have paid it no attention, but it was quickly followed by a second, then a third. "You won't become a corrupted sea creature unless you interfere with this ship's mission," he said distractedly, watching as a fourth crab, a fifth, a sixth crept across the wooden planks.
"And now, I suppose, you are going to explain to me that the Water of Life is no more myth than Davy Jones' Locker, and that the Spaniard de Leon in fact found that fabled stream..."
"Shh!" Norrington gazed at Will in surprise, but Will no longer had a moment to spare for him. "Calypso!" he said loudly, addressing the pile of crabs that was increasing by the moment, assuming something resembling human female form. "I am fulfilling the duties with which I am charged as captain of the Flying Dutchman. Why have you come?"
The crabs shivered, shimmered, and seemed to blend, and a moment later, a familiar dark-skinned woman was smiling at Will. "A touch of destiny, as I foretold you," she crooned, stepping lightly across the deck to stroke a long-nailed finger down his cheek. "As captain of the Dutchman, you can live forever. Why would you seek the Fountain of Youth?"
"Excuse me," interrupted Norrington, extending a hand. "James Norrington, late of His Majesty's Navy. I don't believe that we've been introduced."
Calypso ignored Norrington's gesture, instead tipping her head to gaze at him intently. "Him saved you from the dark waters... but you do not know if you wish to be saved." Her fingernails bit deeper into Will's jaw. "Why have you done this, William Turner?"
"I will only live forever if I captain the Dutchman forever... and that is a long time indeed." Will gripped Calypso's wrist, pulling her arm away. "A very long time, for a wedded man. Unlike Jones, I don't abandon my duties, but that doesn't mean that I would not prefer to have alternatives available, sooner or later. Elizabeth does not share this immortality, as you know."
Norrington drew in a sharp breath. "So you wish to find the Fountain on her behalf."
"It is a dangerous thing you seek." Calypso had held still under Will's grasp, but now she slipped away from him as easily as a wave upon the seashore, moving to gaze across the water. Will saw Norrington's eyes follow her. "The Fountain of Youth is as perilous as the sea herself. Why do you choose this man to help you?"
"I wanted to ask him the same question," said Norrington dryly. "Why me? Why not one of the crew you already have?"
"Because you care about Elizabeth," said Will intently. "She told me that you freed her when she was a prisoner aboard this ship. Whatever you were, you are a man of integrity where she is concerned. For that, I owe you a debt."
"And you believe that denying me my eternal reward by pulling me aboard this vessel is fair compensation?" Norrington sounded incredulous. "I do not fear death. I told Jones just that, moments before I died."
Will cast a glance at Calypso. "If he had been truly at peace, would he and I be having this conversation?"
Eyes fixed on Norrington, Calypso shook her head. "Him has earned the right to move on," she conceded. "But him has never known love." Will watched a slow blush move across Norrington's handsome features as the sea goddess moved behind him, her hands sliding up his arms. "And him does not wish to leave behind his mortal life without tasting that happiness for himself."
Norrington shook his head very slightly. "You are a braver man than I had given you credit for," he said to Will. "You would trust me to be honest, and Elizabeth to be faithful?"
If Will did expect the onetime admiral to be honest, he knew, he owed Norrington the same. "I won't see Elizabeth again for ten years. I never asked that she be faithful in body, only in her affections. My heart is quite literally in her hands."
At that Norrington's eyes widened. "Not only braver, but more generous."
"Not more generous," Calypso said. "Him may offer you a chance at such happiness, James Norrington, but did you not do the same?"
"Love may bring pain as well as joy, as we all three know well." It was Calypso who had suffered most in love; Will rather wondered that she now seemed ready to aid others to achieve it. Unless this was some subtle scheme of revenge upon himself? No, for she could not have known what his intentions were... could she?
"So what would you have me do?" Norrington sounded, if not eager, at least interested now.
"Seek Sparrow and Barbossa on the Pearl. They had a chart that purported to show where the Fountain of Youth could be found; it led us to Davy Jones' Locker, so I hope that it will serve as a guide to the Fountain too. I don't know whether one must drink straight from the Fountain itself, or if the waters could be brought away." Will looked at Calypso, but she only gave him one of her enigmatic smiles. "Perhaps you'd better find Elizabeth first, and travel with her."
"How am I to convince her that she should follow me?" Norrington asked. "I helped her escape, but I doubt she trusts me."
"Show her this." Will knew that he would not have to identify the sword he held out; it was the one he himself had made, given by Elizabeth's father to then-Commodore Norrington on the occasion of his promotion, which had passed to Davy Jones upon Norrington's death and then become Will's again when it took his life. "She knows I had it with me when last I saw her."
"And... forgive me if this sounds like a naive question, but being dead, how am I to reach her?"
Will glanced at Calypso. "You brought Barbossa back," he said speculatively. "I cannot help but wonder what has brought you here, so soon after James Norrington was brought aboard this vessel."
Calypso looked sad. "My Davy Jones in his own locker lies," her mournful voice crooned. "A different fate must be yours, William Turner." Straightening, she faced Norrington. "Would you choose this fate, James Norrington? Would you return to the land of the living, despite the cost must be paid?"
"What cost?" asked Will and James simultaneously.
"This ship must have a crew," Calypso pointed out.
"But it does have..." Norrington began, when Will interrupted with a shake of his head.
"Only a handful, now. The man you saw earlier -- my father, who felt he owed me for his release. A few others remain from Jones's term, for much the same reason, and a couple who died when the Interceptor went down. I need a crew, and I need reliable officers. This is no pirate vessel, nor am I Davy Jones to command through threat and bluster and fear." Will looked at Calypso. "That's the cost, isn't it? One hundred years before the mast. But there's nothing to say when the price must be paid. Jack made his deal with Jones, his servitude for the Pearl, and then went free for ten years before their reckoning was due."
"Aye, that be the cost you will pay. No easy price, James Norrington -- think you on it, before you agree." Calypso's expression was bleak.
"So my choice is to return to death's oblivion now, or accept the offer of Captain Turner: find the Water of Life for Elizabeth, and spend ten years with her, if she'll have me, which is in serious question, and then pay for it all with a hundred years of service on the Dutchman? Have I put the proposition accurately?" James's tone was sardonic, but his eyes held a spark of hope, and his fingers twitched as if longing to hold his old sword once more.
"I believe you may find there are other incentives," Will said, smiling faintly. He had no intention of elaborating, here on the deck of his ship with his father and all crew members present listening intently -- not to mention Calypso, who surely had her own standards for appropriate behavior for the captain of the Dutchman, different from Royal Navy regulations but no less rigorously enforced -- but he risked a wink at James, whose eyes widened as he took the sword from Will's outstretched hand.
"This feels real enough." Norrington tilted the sword so that the blade caught and reflected the sunlight. "But am I? Am I able to return to the land of the living just as I was?"
"Not as you were." A small, dangerous smile was playing about Calypso's lips. Will raised his eyebrows just as James turned to look at her. "Like Barbossa -- him still linked to the land of the dead."
Will expected Norrington to balk at that, but James glanced in his direction with amusement in his eyes before turning his full attention to Calypso. "If I understand you correctly, then it should be possible for me to come and go from this vessel without becoming trapped in either realm."
"That is so. But you be not invulnerable to death, despite your sojourn in those dark waters. You can be killed, and then you must serve your hundred years and return to the land of the living no more." Calypso's dark eyes held a malicious amusement. "A gamble, James Norrington, is what you make if you accept. Shall I roll the bones, tell you your future?"
"No, thank you." The former admiral's voice was cool and steady as he resheathed the sword. "I think I have heard enough to make my decision. I will take up your challenge, Captain Turner, and seek for the Water of Life to gift Miss Swann -- Mistress Turner, that is."
"I believe she prefers Pirate King Turner," Will murmured, and Norrington's lips quirked in a near-smile.
"Done, then," said Calypso, reaching out and joining their two hands. "A touch of destiny, I have said, and perhaps more than that."
Her fingers were warm and firm, but Will shivered. Calypso's look at them was speculative before she drew back and shook herself, a spray of salt water stinging Will's eyes so that he could not see for an instant. When he opened them again, blinking hard, he saw only crabs scuttling for the side and dropping off into the water.
"Does she always do that?" asked Norrington.
"Apparently," Will said. "I think she enjoys being able to take on her other forms, after being trapped as Tia Dalma for so long."
James did not look any different, but then neither had Barbossa, whom Will had seen fall dead the moment after his own blood lifted the curse keeping the Black Pearl's crew unnaturally alive. If anything, Barbossa had been more robust upon his return, not mad like Jack.
Will expected that Norrington would make a superb addition to the Flying Dutchman's crew; his actions since Elizabeth had found him drunken and miserable in Tortuga suggested that he craved respectability and honor more than glory and certainly more than freedom. Not a pirate, precisely, but a pirate was not what the Dutchman needed.
As for what Will himself needed... this was not a moment to address that, yet he was quite certain from James' frank gaze that his wink and the shiver at the touch of his hand had not gone unnoticed. "Welcome to the Flying Dutchman, Mister Norrington," he said formally. "Now, allow me to introduce you to my crew. I believe that you and my father are already acquainted..."
The simplest way to find Jack, Elizabeth knew, required not just coin but a more subtle sacrifice.
It was easy enough to convince Marguerite to sell her the dress, to rouge her cheeks and lips, to twist her hair in a mimicry of the fashion of the whores of Tortuga. Walking in fashionable ladies' shoes was a bit more difficult after all this time and in her condition, but at least Elizabeth had no belly yet to show -- her bosom was much larger than before, but for her current role, that would work to her advantage.
"But I simply must find Jack," she said with a girlish laugh at the latest barman to deny any knowledge of the captain's whereabouts. Her fingers dropped a few grubby coins onto the table. "I promise you, good sir, he will thank you for sending me." A slight bend at the waist, and her newly plump breasts displayed themselves to her advantage.
The man rubbed at his stubbled chin with one hand, sweeping up the silver in the other and tucking it away quickly.
"Well," he said doubtfully. "I've heard tell that he's fond of the Hanged Man. Two streets down." He jerked a thumb in the direction of the docks. "He's not been seen here in months, but someone there might know more."
Elizabeth thanked him, both in words and by continuing to afford him a view of her bosom until she had finished the sour ale. She would have preferred rum, but ale was a better choice when she daren't become tipsy too quickly. Besides, she'd heard that ale was best for breeding women.
The Hanged Man was an even more questionable place than the last several she had visited. It was late afternoon now, and the only light in the room was what came in through the unchinked cracks in the walls. Elizabeth stood just inside the doorway, blinking. When her eyes finally adjusted to the dim light, she looked around and had to restrain herself from letting out a whoop of triumph. Not Jack, but perhaps the next best thing.
"Mr. Gibbs." She stood in front of him. "I thought you were sailing on the Pearl with Captain Sparrow."
"Aye, that I was, but there was a slight complication," he said ruefully.
"Complication?" Elizabeth slid into a seat and waved the serving girl over, ordering ale for herself and rum for Gibbs.
"Jack and me were taking a bit of well-earned shore leave, y'see, and they sailed off without us."
"Barbossa and the rest? Mutiny again?"
Gibbs took a swallow of his rum and nodded. "He's too trusting, is Jack."
"Where is he now -- here with you?"
"No. He took the dinghy and went off." Gibbs grinned. "He didn't trust them completely, though. Brought the chart with him; the one that led us to..." He looked around and added in a whisper, "Davy Jones' Locker."
None of this was news to Elizabeth, of course. It had been easy enough to see through the story Barbossa had told her, particularly since some of Barbossa's own men were none too pleased about having left Jack behind. Now at least she knew that Gibbs trusted her, and also that he sincerely did not know Jack's whereabouts.
"Surely not even Jack could expect to sail all the way to Florida in a dinghy," she said with a smile both admiring and skeptical. "He'd have gone in search of a ship and crew. And if he left Tortuga without one..."
"...aye, he'd have gone to Port Royal." Gibbs finished the thought for her. She couldn't tell from his expression whether he was proud to have guessed Jack's likely destination or rather miffed not to have been invited along. "But what's your interest in Jack's whereabouts, Miss Swann, that is, Mrs. Turner, unless you prefer Captain Swann, or rather Captain Turner..."
"Elizabeth will do," she said with a conspiratorial smirk. "As you said, Jack has the navigational charts. You know the task with which my husband has been charged. If he is destined to live forever, I would prefer that he not do so alone."
"Then you mean to sail with Jack?" Gibbs made a curt movement with his head. "As you said, he'll be needing a crew."
"And for that, he may need funds." Something she could offer Jack. The late Governor Swann had not been a poor man, after all, and she was his only child. She pursed her lips thoughtfully. Jack doubtless had his reasons for leaving Gibbs behind, but those reasons might be as simple as not wanting to travel alone with him in a tiny dinghy.
"Jack is more like to offer a share of the spoils," Gibbs told her. "Give a man any pay before sailing, and he'll take it and run... or drink it up so that he can't remember which ship he's crew on."
"True enough, but provisions don't buy themselves." Elizabeth eyed him. "Would you be willing to go to Port Royal with me and search for Jack? With two, it would be much quicker." And Gibbs might hear things she, a woman, would not.
Gibbs nodded. "That I would. Tortuga's a fine port, but after a time I feel the need for a deck, not dirt, beneath my feet." He patted his pockets. "Bed and board are part of the bargain on board ship as well."
"Splendid," said Elizabeth. "We leave tomorrow."
Port Royal was much as it had always been. To Elizabeth's relief the presence of the East India Company was distinctly muted, now that Cutler Beckett was dead, although she still saw a number of men wearing company livery.
"Where do you suggest we start?"
Jack was not in prison, which was the first place Gibbs suggested that they check. Nor had he broken into the smithy or the armory.
Governor Swann's successor, a nondescript minor aristocrat with an overbearing wife, offered his most sincere condolences on her father's death but had nothing of use to offer. In fact he spent most of his time in her presence asking questions about Port Royal, about which he had apparently known absolutely nothing before being appointed governor.
"You don't suppose that Jack has already managed to find a crew and steal a ship?" Elizabeth asked Gibbs, though she was inclined to doubt it. Jack had many useful skills as a pirate but subtlety and discretion were not among them. If he had made off with a ship equipped for Florida, his departure would have been noted.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to check the less respectable side of town. Mister Gibbs..." She wanted very much to remind him that rum and business did not mix, but he was not, after all, in her employ; they merely had a common interest in finding Jack.
"If he's here, I'll bring him back to you," said Gibbs cheerfully. She wondered whether the smile was in anticipation of finding Jack, or of finding rum. "You wait here, Miss Elizabeth." His few years with Norrington as his lieutenant had apparently made him unable to use her forename completely unadorned, so this was his compromise.
She sighed and acquiesced. The room she had taken in a relatively respectable inn was tiny, hot, and had more insects than she was happy with, but she could sit down in the common room and perhaps pick up some gossip... knowledge always being a useful thing.
"Do report whatever you find tonight, please, even if you have learned nothing yet." She flashed him a smile and inhaled. She quite enjoyed having a greater endowment than she was accustomed to have; good leverage, with men. Perhaps she would be able to use it on Jack? Although that one seemed more in love with his ship and the sea than with any woman.
"Of course." Gibbs left hastily.
Elizabeth called for a cup of ale and a dish of whatever the cook had made that day, and settled in to wait, glancing up every time the door opened and a customer came in or out, hoping to see Gibbs return with good news.
She thought that perhaps her condition was affecting her mind, or that she had had too much ale, when she glanced up to see a familiar face come through the door. Perhaps, she told herself, James Norrington had had a twin brother of whom he had never spoken.
"Elizabeth," he said when he saw her, approaching with unexpected amusement in his eyes. Was it possible that James had had a twin brother of whom he had never spoken, but to whom he had spoken about her? "Your husband sends his love."
The voice belonged to James. The smile, the long, slender hand that he extended belonged to James as well. "My husband is traveling distant seas," she said automatically.
"Yes, I know, I've seen him there. In fact, he is the reason I am here. He pulled me from the sea aboard the Flying Dutchman, and he put to me a proposition."
Admiral Norrington had not lived long enough to learn of Will's fate. Elizabeth felt the color drain from her face. "James? How...?"
He laughed. "You can ask that, who have sailed beyond World's End yourself, seen Barbossa and Sparrow both return, bidden farewell to a husband whose beating heart lies locked in a chest?"
The blood returned, crimsoning her cheeks. "The goddess Calypso needed Jack and Barbossa alive, to free her from her human form. Why is your living presence so required?"
James signaled, and when his rum arrived, drank deeply. He noticed her eyes on him and laughed once more. "Don't worry. I've no intention of diving back into the barrel again, but the rations are thin on the Dutchman. There's a job to be done and making port is a rare occurrence, they tell me.
"Now." He leaned closer, his expression intent. "You may wish to hear of the proposition I mentioned, for it concerns you."
"In what way?" Elizabeth sipped from her own cup, clutching dignity around her. "Will's honor would not permit him to leave before his ten years are over, even if he could."
"So he has told me." At that moment Elizabeth had a full vision of James and Will standing side by side on the Flying Dutchman in waters she could not travel. She had to push aside a surge of envy. Being with child was reputed to make women prone to fits of rage, but she did not intend to behave like such a woman. "He intends to carry out his duty to the ship. But he also intends to carry out his duty to you, and..."
James' eyes were sweeping over her again, taking in her broader bosom, her wider waist. Elizabeth had not thought her condition so obvious, but first Barbossa and now Norrington had realized almost at once. At least now she was not the only one who appeared to be struggling with jealousy.
"You carry Will Turner's child, do you not?" James asked softly.
"Indeed I do." She could not meet his eyes. Had circumstances been only slightly different, they both knew, it might have been Norrington's own child she bore. She did not believe that James bore Will any hatred for that, nor had he cast away his fortunes pining for her, yet she was reminded of that moment just before he gave his life to cover her escape: Our lives have been joined, yet not entwined.
"I imagine you realize how much it disturbs your husband's mind to know that while he sails in the reach between worlds, unchanging, you face all the ravages of time. Disease. Danger. Possibly death."
"Of course." She knew the hazards of childbearing well; her mother had died at Elizabeth's own birth. "Which is why I am presently taking steps to allay those very dangers."
"You are?" She had forgotten the way his eyebrows arched in query. "What manner of steps, if I may ask?"
"I have struck a bargain with Captain Barbossa to sail the Pearl in search of the Fountain of Youth," Elizabeth told him.
"Ah." James sucked in his breath. "Barbossa captains the Pearl now? What of Sparrow?"
At her reply, James' lips quirked, and they shared a smile.
"Sparrow. The worst pirate I've ever seen. No, no. So it is Barbossa who now holds the chart showing how to find that legendary spring?"
"I fear not. My bargain is with Barbossa, but I must find Jack to fulfill it; he had the chart with him when he was abandoned on Tortuga, but Gibbs thinks he's here now, so we've come in search of him," Elizabeth said, gabbling the words, more distracted than she felt she should be by the heat in James' eyes. His was not the simple lust of the barmen and sailors she'd grown accustomed to in recent days; this was something at once more primal and more respectful, and it reminded her of Will... and of Jack as well.
"The last time Sparrow sailed into Port Royal, as I understand it, he gave a false name, distracted a pair of my guards and attempted to steal a ship, only he was thwarted when a beautiful woman fell into the sea and required rescuing." A smile played again about Norrington's lips. "Have you sent Gibbs to watch the docks?"
"Why would Jack steal a ship before finding a crew?" she asked in reply. "Last time, he needed Will's help to take the Interceptor."
"Much as it pains me to admit, he required little assistance to take the ship," James reminded her. "Only to bring it into port in Tortuga. Of course, it would be madness to try to sail any vessel of that size alone..."
She was already on her feet. "Jack considers madness inspiration. We should be at the docks."
A hold full of rum had its advantages, but not when it was leaking. And an alcoholic captain could be turned to one's advantage, but not when he was stupid.
"I'm telling you, mate, a slight detour to Florida will make you the richest man in these waters."
The red-eyed man squinted up at Captain Jack Sparrow without anything like the proper respect. "I can't read these charts," he wheezed.
Jack was tempted to ask whether that was because the writing was not English or because there was writing at all. Instead he tried a charming smile. "If you will observe..." The second wheel turned. "Just here, clearly marked, the Fountain of Youth. Find it and you'll find your fortune."
Live forever, Jackie, said the voice in his head. For a moment he thought it was his father's. Then, "No, that's me." The captain squinted at him.
"Ye don't hear voices, do ye?"
"No," Jack assured him, but the captain did not seem to accept his statement.
"Not good, hearing voices," he said. "Makes the other men nervous, you understand." He pushed the charts back to Jack. "Take these and be off with you."
Shrugging, Jack rolled them up. No point in arguing with someone of that sort... not without plenty of rum to facilitate the process, and he suspected that it would be wasted on this man in any case. There were other ships yet to try; one of their captains was bound to be more amenable to his proposition.
He swung off the gangplank and looked around. Two days of inquiry had told him which ships were headed where, and there was no purpose in speaking with a captain whose destination was São Paulo in Brazil. Jack's boots clattered over the stone as he walked briskly toward his own dinghy. He didn't trust the dock-master not to have preempted his place, though he'd paid the man dockage for a week.
There was someone -- no, two people -- standing next to the tiny vessel. Jack slowed, squinting to try to recognize them before he let himself be seen in return.
There was no mistaking the woman, though he had once mistaken her for a boy; even breeding, her bosom and waist nicely rounded, Elizabeth Swann's posture and gestures gave her away. But the man with her... he was familiar yet not, dressed oddly, as if he did not quite belong in this port. Or indeed among these people.
Live forever, Jackie... Hector Barbossa had returned from the lands beyond, as had Jack himself. And now, apparently, so had James Norrington. In the moment that it took Jack to gulp and turn to creep away, the dead man called out. "Captain Sparrow!"
It was quite possibly the most respect with which Norrington had ever addressed him, but Jack could not afford to have his name shouted about the docks in such a manner if he expected to avoid both the port authority and the dozens of women who felt that they owed him a slap in the face. Or worse. "Commodore Norrington," he was forced to reply, gesturing with his hands for the late officer to keep his voice down. "That is to say, Admiral. Or is it Captain? You're looking very well for a corpse."
"I might say the same to you," Norrington replied cheerfully. "Although, thanks to this lady, you have your life back entirely, whereas I am here by the grace of the goddess Calypso -- I'm sure you remember her?"
Removing his hat, Jack offered Elizabeth a mock bow. "I have my life back thanks to that most traitorous and villainous pirate Hector Barbossa, to whom my debt has been paid in full and who has once again stolen my ship," he pointed out. "And if we needed any further proof, I think we call can agree that the goddess Calypso has very little grace or sense of fair play." He watched Elizabeth hide a smile. "Now. Since I have no particular credit with that goddess, nor have I any ship beyond this dinghy, if you will let me pass..."
"We need the charts, Jack," Elizabeth said. "The map to the Outer Gates that you have hidden in your pocket."
Jack gave her his most ingenuous smile. "The map? Whatever for?"
"For exactly the same reason you need it." A hint of exasperation came through Norrington's voice, and Jack immediately felt more comfortable. That was the man he knew, if not well. "We seek the Water of Life."
"Ah, I see. You tire of Calypso's whims and wish to achieve immortality on your own."
"No, I struck a bargain with the captain of the Dutchman." Norrington's hand came to rest on the hilt of his sword.
"And I one with your erstwhile first mate," Elizabeth added, her pose equally dangerous. Jack took a moment to admire it; the girl had come far indeed. "There is little purpose to be gained in circumlocution, and much time to be wasted. Barbossa will sail the Pearl to wherever the chart directs, if I can persuade you to return with it."
It was pleasant to hear Elizabeth deny Hector his arrogated title, pleasant enough that the meaning of the rest of her words did not penetrate immediately. "He wants me to return?" Jack laughed. "Fooled me once, shame on him, fooled me twice, shame on me. I'm not fool enough to wish to be fooled a third time."
"You've had no success in finding a ship to take you alone," Norrington pointed out. "All you have is this dinghy, as you yourself said."
"What's the bargain you made with Will Turner?" Jack demanded. "Dearest Elizabeth has advanced with her colors flying, but you're sailing at night, lights doused. What is your purpose, if not to conquer death for yourself?"
Norrington's glance flickered. "Turner may not set foot on land for nearly ten years more. I died at sea, even though by the sword, and so he was able to bring me back to seek the Water of Life, so that Elizabeth will age no more than he will, and to watch over her meantime."
Jack felt quite certain that there was more to the bargain than that. "Sheer altruism on your part, I take it."
"I note that you did not rush to embrace death, either, when the opportunity presented itself."
Out of the wig and girlish breeches, Norrington was really quite an attractive man. Although he had been an attractive man in uniform as well, Jack was forced to admit. "Did Captain Turner offer you... incentives?" he asked curiously.
Elizabeth made a small noise, ostensibly in outrage, though Jack couldn't help but notice her struggle not to smile. She, too, was quite an attractive man, even though she had reverted to petticoats and lace at the moment. If Jack had been the captain of the Flying Dutchman, he'd not have settled for one or the other, but both.
"Let me see if I understand," Jack continued. "You wish me to turn over the charts to you, in exchange for passage on my own ship, which should by rights be under my command. It hardly seems fair compensation."
Elizabeth held up a hand. "We do not require that you turn over the charts, only that you accompany us aboard the Pearl. With the charts in your hand, you will be able to command Barbossa."
"And when Barbossa has me tossed in the brig and takes the charts?"
Elizabeth offered Jack her sweetest smile. "Surely you can't believe that your crew would permit such an outrage... again!"
"Given that they have permitted it twice? Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe it." Jack scratched at his beard. "So why should I accept your offer, Madam... pardon me, Captain Turner?" He swept a florid bow as Elizabeth's face reddened.
"Not merely Captain," she reminded him, "but Pirate King. You'd be under my protection."
He eyed her. "I'd prefer being under you in other ways. Fine words, lady, but what's to prevent Barbossa from taking the charts while we all sleep?" Jack doubted that Hector Barbossa would go so far as to slit his throat to get the charts, or have one of the crew do so -- marooning gave the abandoned man at least a chance, and though Hector was not one to turn tail in a fight, neither did he have the stomach to kill a sleeping man in cold blood.
"If you're so concerned for your precious skin, Captain Swallow, may I point out that with three of us, one may be always awake?" James Norrington might have been instructing the greenest midshipman.
Jack nodded at Elizabeth. "'T'was her doing that I died the once."
"To save everyone else!" she protested. "And I helped bring you back from the Locker, too, or have you forgotten?"
"More to the point," said Norrington, "we are in Port Royal. Rumors of my demise having been greatly exaggerated, I doubt I would have any difficulty in ensuring that you were unable to find any ship that would carry you... if you were able to stay out of prison long enough to continue your inquiries." He gave Jack a wolfish grin. "Or is it a carrot you need, rather than a stick?"
There was a witty remark to be made comparing the relative sizes and shapes of carrots and sticks, but Jack paused to consider the motives behind Norrington's apparent flirtation. James wanted Elizabeth and likely Will. Will wanted Elizabeth and likely James. Hector doubtless wanted Elizabeth, would perhaps not have refused either James or Will, but having a ship was not the only leverage necessary there. Elizabeth no doubt wanted everything -- was that not, at the core, true of all women? -- though at the moment she was burdened by Turner's child.
It was all fairly straightforward, really -- accept Elizabeth's terms, despite Hector's treachery, sail with the Pearl to Florida and quite possibly enjoy the favors of several attractive partners -- but one thing still needled at Jack's conscience, or perhaps the sense that always told him when to expect a storm on a perfectly calm sea. "What I can't figure out, mate, is how Calypso figures in," he said to James. "She swore eternal fury upon us all. Why bring you back as a favor to Elizabeth or Will or any of us?"
He wasn't really expecting an answer, but Elizabeth spoke. "Davy Jones is trapped in his own Locker, isn't he?" she asked. "Calypso was able to help you escape only because she traveled with Barbossa and myself. Even though a goddess, perhaps she is unable to call him back from that endless shore. I wonder whether possession of the Locker changes hands along with the captaincy of the Flying Dutchman."
Jack shrugged. What did he really know of the mysteries of such as Calypso? But... "It would make sense," he allowed. "If she wants Jones for herself, still -- the ways of women being unfathomable, and of goddesses more than any -- it might be that she needs Will's aid to reach him." He reached for the flask in the pocket of his coat. Empty.
"What say we find a likely tavern and have a drink to seal our bargain?" Elizabeth gave him a shrewd look. "If, that is, we have one? You provide the chart, we your protection, Barbossa the ship -- and all of us to gain the reward. Better to consider the carrot, as James put it, than dwell on a stick that should be unnecessary between acquaintances of our standing."
"Aye." Jack gestured away from the docks. "My funds are running a bit shy at the present, so if you're willing...?"
Norrington gave a snort, and Elizabeth glared at him. "She's willing. Or if she isn't, I am. Not much use for gold and silver at sea, so Will gave me what he had."
There was a note in his voice that Jack recognized. James had almost certainly taken more than coin from young Will Turner... and was implying that he'd at least consider the same with Jack. Whether his hint that Elizabeth might do so as well was true remained to be proven.
"This is not the bargain that I struck with you, Miss Swann," Hector Barbossa said pleasantly.
"Captain Swann," Elizabeth, Jack, and James snapped simultaneously. With a toss of her hair, Elizabeth continued, "And King of the Brethren Court, as I am certain you recall..."
"And I am certain you recall that the court's not a-meetin' at present. We agreed that you would persuade Sparrow here to provide the charts in exchange for passage for him and yourself on my ship." Hector paused to let the words sink in. "Out of the goodness of my heart, I am willing to allow the former Admiral here to travel with us, provided he makes himself useful and takes the night watch. But Jack sails as a passenger only."
"This being my ship," Jack said just as pleasantly, "what say we let the crew decide who commands the Pearl?"
"Out of the question." Hector showed his teeth, which he knew to be yellowed and unpleasant but no worse than Jack's. Was it being dead that had given James Norrington such an even white set, or did he get his teeth from the same money and breeding had made him a Royal Navy captain at such a young age? "You won't take command, Jack, not even for five minutes."
"Worried that they won't follow you any longer, since you failed to keep the chart and have had to come back for me to obtain it?" Jack's smile was sharp, the gold glinting between his lips.
"Not at all. They've mutinied against you twice; what cause have I for concern?"
"Gentlemen," Elizabeth interrupted. "I believe what all of us want most is to find the Water of Life."
"Hear, hear," murmured Norrington.
"Jack. A moment." She pulled him aside, her expression intent as she whispered and gesticulated. Hector didn't bother to try to hear what it was she said; it was clear that her intention was to convince Jack to accept Barbossa as captain of the Pearl, at least for the time being.
"The night watch, you said?" Norrington interrupted his thoughts. "Are you certain that you wish to entrust a former royal officer with that task?"
Hector regarded him steadily. "Are you saying that you would betray your own honor? Not what I would expect from a man of your former position."
"I have betrayed it before," said Norrington, and his eyes flickered to the pair still arguing quietly a few yards away. "But for the moment, I take orders from my captain. If she places me under your command, I will accept that." He seemed unaware of how much he had given away with that statement.
"What about Sparrow?" Hector asked him in a low voice, watching Jack and Elizabeth waving their arms at one another. "That's the man who sold his soul to Davy Jones in exchange for the ship on which ye sit. He would sell us all to the Spaniards to have the Fountain of Youth for himself."
"Are you not the man who twice led a mutiny against him?" Norrington showed his white, even teeth. "For reasons that defy my comprehension, Elizabeth believes that each of you can be trusted within certain limits. And myself as well. Perhaps she believes that death has altered our priorities."
Despite his own cracked teeth, Hector smiled back. He decided that he liked James Norrington, despite his past in the Royal Navy and having sold his soul to Cutler Beckett. Calypso had not required Barbossa's soul to bring him back from the dead, so he had never had to learn whether or for what he might sell it.
"Sparrow!" he barked. "Stop your bellyaching, and you and the Admiral here can split duties in the middle watch."
Rather to Hector's surprise, Jack proved to be cooperative... well, for Jack Sparrow. They reached an agreement whereby Elizabeth -- or Captain Swann, as she insisted on being called in front of the crew, although Barbossa thought of her privately as Mistress Turner -- kept the chart on her person, although all four of them looked on as Jack shifted the rings and calculated the course they should take. Hector, however, made sure he was the one at the wheel.
Jack complained about having the middle watch, of course, but midnight to four was light duty even if it broke up one's sleep uncomfortably, and with Norrington sharing the duties, Hector could be relatively certain that nothing untoward would happen. With regard to his ship, that was. He learned from Pintel that Elizabeth rose during that watch as well, and wondered just what those three were doing... Pintel had been too drunk to report accurately.
"Would you have any apples on board, Captain Barbossa?"
Looking around quickly, he saw Norrington grinning at him. "Why d'ye ask for apples?"
"Captain Swann is craving something a bit fresher than ship's bread and fish stew. She asked me to request an apple of you, should you have any to spare."
"She didn't discover the barrelful in the hold last night?" Let the man be aware that Hector knew the three of them had been conferring, or whatever it was.
"I believe she may have been... distracted."
Now that did amuse Hector. "I see. Distracted by yourself, Mister Norrington? I think not. You are still a dead man, and I know too well what a dead man can and cannot do with a woman."
Norrington wasn't in the least offended. He grinned widely. "Captain Barbossa, I see that like so many men, you make the mistake of believing that a woman's only interest comes from how you wield your sword."
It had been so long since Barbossa had had a woman, for pleasure or for pay, that he had no quick retort. Moreover, if Elizabeth had not been cavorting with James Norrington, that likely meant that the onetime admiral had served as lookout while Elizabeth entertained herself with Jack. Hector knew enough of Jack Sparrow's history with women that he did not like to think of a pregnant woman putting herself at such risk.
"Tell Captain Swann that she is welcome to an apple, if she will keep herself clean and free from disease," he told Norrington.
Norrington looked at him quizzically. "Dead men carry no plagues," he said. "Nor does Sparrow."
It surprised Hector to find himself so riled. "Then that woman was carrying on with him!"
"Not precisely. She was merely a spectator. Surely the Navy's ban on sodomy isn't enforced on this ship?"
Hector closed his mouth hard when he realized it had fallen open. That was a coupling he hadn't counted on. Not that one could count on anything around Sparrow... or, apparently, Elizabeth, who seemed to delight in unpredictability even more than most females. "No," he allowed. "It isn't. Tell me though, Mister Norrington, as I've always been curious. In your own experience, does that Navy ban work?"
"Depends on the captain." Norrington shrugged, meeting Hector's eyes squarely. "Some captains I've been under had their men hold to it... others held their men."
Somehow it pleased Hector to know that. "But you cannot enjoy it, surely," he insisted. "Not in your condition."
"My condition is not the same as yours was," pointed out Norrington. "Make no assumptions, sir." He inclined his head. "I'll let Captain Swann know that you've given her permission to have an apple."
Hector found himself watching James Norrington's fine form as he walked away. Dead or not, the former admiral cut a dashing figure, and if he enjoyed himself with Jack Sparrow, well, there was probably no act to which he was averse, if one could believe the things Jack's whores had said about him.
Hector had generally preferred women, but he'd also been a pirate for most of his life. He'd learned to gather silver where there was no gold to be had. And now he knew where Jack, James, and Elizabeth would likely be found in the darkest hour of the night.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4