|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2011-06-14 12:06:00
|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 (2/4) [Elizabeth/Hector/Jack/James/Will, adult]
Title: We Have an Accord (part 2)
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; ~9700 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.
"Yes, oh, yes, yes, YES!"
Elizabeth's shouts were loud enough to wake the crew in their hammocks a deck above. In fact, those fools Pintel and Ragetti were probably peering through a hole in the boards, trying to watch, though there was scarcely enough light for James to see Elizabeth's face mere inches away from his own. It was likely that Sparrow couldn't see her face at all. But it was also likely that Sparrow wasn't trying to look beyond the light brown nest of hair that was currently level with his eyes.
"And I thought you didn't enjoy eating fish," James said to him with some amusement.
"Don't be vulgar," panted Elizabeth, though from her glowing face and parted lips, she didn't much care what jokes James made about her anatomy. Her belly was only just beginning to grow round. James slid a hand over it, rubbing his prick against her hip.
"Give the lady a moment to recover," said Jack from between her legs, licking his lips.
"You're just jealous that I got here first," James said as Elizabeth's hand groped for him.
"First?" Jack chuckled. "The blacksmith preceded us both, after all, did he not?"
James didn't bother to answer, too distracted by Elizabeth's touch. Barbossa might have found himself impotent from the curse of the Aztec gold, living his half-life, but James's resurrection had been complete. The thought crossed his mind that if this quest for the Fountain of Youth were successful, he would have ten years -- well, nine -- with Elizabeth. At the moment, however, he would not press for more than she offered, and if he wondered where she had learned the skills she was presently employing on him, he knew better than to ask.
In the near-dark all other senses were sharpened. Suddenly Jack sat up and reached for the sword he'd laid aside earlier, joking that he'd find more satisfaction with a different blade. "Who's there?"
"Who d'ye think?" Footsteps sounded across the wooden planks, threading around the bales, barrels, and crates that were piled in the hold. "A good captain always knows what is going on amongst his crew, Jack. A lesson worth learning." Barbossa lifted the lantern he carried, illuminating the nest the three of them had made.
Though James expected Elizabeth to reach for her discarded garments to cover herself, she stayed where she was. In the light cast by the flame, James could see clearly her firm pink nipples as well as the dampness smeared across her thighs and the rose between them. Jack appeared momentarily to be too busy looking at Elizabeth to assess the threat Barbossa represented, though perhaps Jack knew that Barbossa would be equally distracted. In that instant, James was on his feet, holding his sword to Barbossa's throat.
"It's my crew, mate," Jack reminded Barbossa, aiming his sword at the pirate's neck as well.
Barbossa had not taken his eyes from Elizabeth. "And these are my apples you've been eating," he said, gesturing at the scattered cores. "I offered just one to Captain Swann, but I doubt she ate all of these by herself."
"We'll pay you in gold when we make landfall," Elizabeth said, tossing her hair defiantly.
"A fair offer, but gold is not the coin in which I choose to be paid."
James and Jack both pressed their swords closer. "Oh, for heaven's sake," protested Elizabeth. "I hardly think he's here to rape me."
"I'd not lay a hand on another captain's wife," agreed Barbossa, his gold tooth flashing in the lantern light when he grinned. "Nor," the pirate turned to Jack, "a subordinate crewmember." Jack started to protest, but his words died out as Barbossa continued, "But you, Norrington... you're neither crew nor promised to another."
"Not in that sense, no," James admitted, thinking rapidly. They could not keep Barbossa at sword's point forever. He looked the man up and down as best he could in the close quarters and dim light; Barbossa was, he conceded privately, not unattractive in his own fashion. James had accepted Will Turner's offer -- he suspected Elizabeth, and almost certainly Jack, had guessed at that, though he had not said so openly -- and Barbossa likely had greater experience at this sort of swordplay than Will.
"Well, then?" Barbossa's eyes met James's, unblinking even when Jack pressed the blade closer against his throat.
"Precisely how did you desire to receive your payment?" James licked his lips, hoping the pirate would take it for anticipation instead of apprehension. He would do what he must, but he preferred to know whether he was to pay in guineas or pistoles.
Barbossa smiled. "I prefer to receive. He flicked a glance downward at James's exposed member. "And it would appear that you are ready to give."
Jack lowered his sword and raised his eyebrows at James, who ignored him. Elizabeth merely looked intrigued, devil take it.
"Lamp oil?" asked James coolly, sheathing his sword as well.
"You have a passing familiarity with the necessities, then," Barbossa said, and handed the lantern to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was ashamed to admit that one of the reasons she'd preferred Will Turner to James Norrington had been her suspicion that Norrington might be dull as a lover. His genteel kisses had never excited her, and even after he had shocked her, first by throwing his life away on drink, then by betraying them all and going to work for Beckett, she had seen little to suggest that he might have a secret gift for lovemaking.
Having watched him with Jack, however, and watching him with Barbossa -- and knowing as well that he had been with Will -- she had to admit that she had clearly misjudged James. Where Will had been a bit cautious with her, particularly their first time, which she knew had been his first too, James was quite commanding and rather daring. Elizabeth would not have thought to put her mouth where James put his on Barbossa, not even after teasing the spot with a mostly-eaten apple core. She could hear herself moaning as she watched.
"Enjoying yourself?" Barbossa asked her with a toothy grin, his voice more gravelly than usual. "He'll be needing that oil soon."
"Are you enjoying yourself?" she asked him, just as breathless. "Or do you prefer women?"
"He's been a pirate all his life," James cut in, reaching to take the lantern. "I imagine the captain is accustomed to finding pleasure where he may."
Jack pressed against Elizabeth's hip, his prick quite hard. "I can testify that the captain-in-name-only is not entirely discriminating," he panted.
"Don't listen to Jack --" Barbossa cut himself off to groan as James pushed a finger inside him. "I'm very discriminating. I've never taken a woman who didn't consent."
"'Consent' involving compensation for her trouble, I suspect," said James, smiling triumphantly at Elizabeth. She couldn't quite see what his fingers were doing but she could tell from Barbossa's expression that he must have had some skill at it.
"Jack," she said, never taking her eyes off Barbossa's. "Can you get underneath me?"
Jack moved very willingly, letting Elizabeth lift up so he could slide flat on the deck and allow her to settle above him. His prick pressed between her buttocks, pushing them up.
"What are you doing?" James asked her, looking down with the same hungry look Barbossa wore.
"Move forward, Jack," she ordered. "James, surely you won't mind if I give Barbossa a means to muffle his groans?"
"You mean I don't have the privilege of entering the gates of heaven?" Jack asked in mock-complaint.
"I have something else in mind," Elizabeth told him, reaching to position his prick so that the head nestled between her nether lips, nudging the most sensitive spot from behind. She lifted her chest with a challenging smirk at Barbossa. "Can you satisfy us both at once, while James satisfies you?"
Elizabeth took what she knew to be an unseemly delight in seeing astonishment in both Barbossa's and James's expressions, but that was short-lived, for Barbossa quickly bent over before her. His backside was raised; James in turn knelt behind him, still watching Elizabeth.
"Now then," Elizabeth smiled sweetly and tapped Barbossa on the head, "I believe you should prepare to be boarded."
Barbossa muttered something incomprehensible against Elizabeth, but his tongue flickered out to tease her.
"Don't forget Jack," she reminded him, bracing her hands against the wooden boards on either side of Jack's hips. She felt Barbossa's mouth press more firmly as James entered him.
Although it was Barbossa into whom he thrust, it was Elizabeth on whom James's eyes remained fixed, and she returned his avid gaze, guessing that he imagined herself directly beneath him. Well, and in a way he was not wrong; each movement he made affected her. James and Will... who had swived whom, Elizabeth wondered, or had they taken turns? The very thought made her quiver almost as much as the caresses of Barbossa's tongue or the strokes of Jack's prick against her nub.
"Watch those rotten teeth, Hector," Jack muttered, though Elizabeth suspected that the token protest was mostly for her benefit. She could feel Jack trembling beneath her and his prick was quite stiff as it slid between her lips. Surely Jack realized by now that she thought no less of a man for enjoying pleasure with other men?
She stretched out her leg until it bumped Barbossa's thigh, wriggling her toes against it, and felt him groan against her.
"Give Captain Barbossa a hand, James," she commanded.
Barbossa's head raised a bit, making her whimper. Even in the dim light she could see that his lips were glistening and his beard was wet. "Since we are all equals here, you should call me Hector," he said.
"I once outranked you all," James reminded them, sounding rather breathless as he bent over Barbossa's back.
Elizabeth felt the pirate shudder as the onetime admiral's hand closed around his prick. "And I was King." She let her head fall back against Jack's shoulder as his prick moved against her, twitching when Barbossa's tongue made contact once more. "Oh, that's good... Hector." From the flare of James's nostrils, she knew that she had made him jealous. Well, let him be: they could none of them afford to become attached and pair off. "Fuck him harder, James."
"Yes, Your Majesty." There was mockery in James's voice, but only hunger in his eyes as he sped up his thrusts. Barbossa's tongue was moving feverishly across Elizabeth's center, letting Jack thrust against it, and she could feel Jack's belly tensing beneath her with each movement.
He was the first to come, hot against her, the sharp smell cutting through the mustiness of damp wood. Barbossa grunted but kept licking Elizabeth; she was on a slow rise herself again, having achieved a climax once already this night under Jack's tongue. She would have to try James next, she thought dreamily. There was no question in her mind that he would agree.
Jack wriggled himself back away from Barbossa's tongue, his prick beginning to soften, nestling between her buttocks. His hands cupped her breasts and teased her nipples to points. "Breeding suits you," he murmured into her ear. "You fill out a bodice nicely now."
Elizabeth elbowed Jack in the ribs. "Sorry," she said sweetly.
Above her James rolled his eyes. She smiled, knowing that he understood her feelings. It was pleasant to be better-endowed than usual, and she enjoyed having the men appreciate her enhanced charms, but Jack's compliment had been two-edged, or so she thought. Perhaps not, but knowing Jack, most likely so.
The slap of flesh on flesh quickened again as James pounded yet faster into Barbossa, whose mouth on Elizabeth sped up to match. Her breath came in pants, a keen rising in her throat. Yet it was Barbossa who groaned first, rearing back and away from her, almost knocking his head against James's jaw. His prick quivered and spat out its creamy spunk onto the wooden floor of the hold, a claim to possession... if Jack had not done so before him.
Elizabeth was left desperate, gasping on the brink of orgasm. "James!" she appealed to him. She knew he was in no position to reach her, with his prick buried in Barbossa, and Barbossa, panting, glanced at her with amusement.
"The admiral is a bit busy," Jack murmured in her ear, his hand moving down her belly and between her legs. "If you will allow me..."
Both Barbossa and Norrington were watching avidly, the one still trying to catch his breath, the other grunting with exertion as he thrust. Apart from his teeth, thought Elizabeth, Barbossa could be surprisingly attractive, while James, who had always before compared unfavorably with both Will and Jack -- at first too prim and proper, then later too much of a wretched drunk, still later unpleasantly stuffed into a uniform that suited him ill -- finally appeared comfortable in his own skin, ironic though it was that it had taken death to make him so.
"Please," Elizabeth whimpered to all three of them, though it was only Jack whose hand slid down, expertly parting the wet folds. Two fingers pushed inside her while his thumb toyed with the sensitive flesh just above the entrance.
"Elizabeth," groaned James as he slammed into Barbossa hard enough to send the older man sprawling. She had only time to see the surprise on Hector's face and the pleasure sweeping across James's before Jack's nimble fingers made her forget everything but the delight convulsing her loins.
Barbossa's voice brought her back to herself. "Enough, Norrington," he grunted, crawling forward, presumably unlancing himself from James's prick. His mouth brushed Elizabeth's thigh, and when she glanced down she realized that that had been no accident. Jack's fingers slipped out of her with a soft, wet noise, and with a lecherous grin up at the two of them, Barbossa flicked out his tongue, licking them clean.
"Pirate," said Jack with more approval than she'd ever heard him use in regard to Barbossa.
"Shouldn't one of you be on watch?" asked James, who still sounded winded, as well as slightly irritated.
Reluctantly, Barbossa sat up. "You're with me, Jack. I won't have you eating my apples while I can't enjoy them." He gave Elizabeth a toothy smile. "I trust the admiral here will keep the lady comfortable."
Jack leaned against the rail, a posture designed to irritate his erstwhile first mate. As expected, Barbossa scowled at him.
"It's the middle watch."
"You're on duty," Barbossa snapped. "That was the agreement."
Jack smiled. "My agreement with you was that I split the watch with Norrington, and my agreement with him was that he take the first half of it each night. It is just after midnight, and therefore his watch. You were the one who told him to remain with Captain Swann, thereby implicitly taking his duty upon yourself."
Barbossa swore, long and fluently.
"I will, however, keep you company for the next two hours," Jack added. "We might discuss ways and means. The Water of Life, the Fountain of Youth, whatever you choose to call it -- I imagine the supply is not inexhaustible. If there is not enough for the four of us, plus Will Turner, then...?" He let his voice trail off on an upward note.
"Go on," Barbossa said. "I take it that we need not figure the crew into this."
Jack shrugged negligently. "Perhaps the Fountain will gush barrelsful by the minute, and there will be plenty for all. Contingency plans are never superfluous, however."
Barbossa nodded shortly, eyes narrowed. "That being the case, why ask me? You owe no debt to Turner, and Norrington tried to kill you more than once. We've both seen that in a tempest, he'll look out only for himself. I should think ye'd try to take what you can for yourself, then hope that my unnatural resurrection doesn't preclude a natural death, in which case, there'd be no stopping you from taking my ship."
Hector patted the mast for emphasis. Watching him, Jack nodded. "It is true that your absence would simplify the matter of my captaincy of the Black Pearl."
Jack waited for Barbossa's splutter of outrage to subside before continuing. He had, after all, just recently been reminded that the man had quite a talented tongue.
"Like you, I don't trust Norrington, though I believe that he will honor whatever agreement he made with Elizabeth and William... well, with Elizabeth, at least." Jack had little doubt that, given the opportunity, James Norrington would leave Turner alone forever on the seas between the worlds while spending the rest of his own days enjoying Elizabeth's company. Certainly, Barbossa believed the same. "Isn't that why you left them alone together? To encourage their... alliance?"
"Norrington has demonstrated more than once that he's a fool. I don't fool myself that my charms will keep him leashed, but hers will." Barbossa stretched, grimacing, and Jack hid a smile at the thought of the pounding that James had given him. "But you haven't answered my question. Why would you want or expect me to be your ally?"
"You and I are the ones who between us can reach the Fountain," Jack reminded him. "I possess the chart, and you -- for now -- the Pearl."
Barbossa eyed him narrowly. "And what of Norrington and the Turners?"
"What of them?" Jack shrugged. "We both want the Water of Life. So do they, but they're not necessary to reach it, are they?"
"Aye." Barbossa snorted. "Death didn't change you much, I've noticed."
"Nor you," said Jack. He yawned and scratched himself, checking for the chart that he'd tucked carefully into his jacket. Still there. He wouldn't have put it past Elizabeth to take it back from him. Norrington still retained too much of the habits of a naval officer to stoop to petty theft... although in this instance it would not be petty at all. A guide to the Fountain of Youth was more valuable than gold or gems.
"What is it that you propose then, precisely?" Barbossa took out his knife and began to pare his fingernails.
"Don't cut yourself," Jack told him, advice that elicited the sneer it deserved. "Until we locate the Fountain and determine whether its bounty is sufficient for all, nothing need change. If, once we find it, it appears that there is not enough of the aqua vita for everyone -- why, then, you will arrange for the others to be... permanently distracted, shall we say? I'm sure that you can rely on your crew for such actions. And the two of us can slip away, back to the Pearl, prize in hand. In bottle, rather."
"You would maroon a pregnant woman in the wilds of Florida?" asked Barbossa. Jack noticed that he was scowling.
"I believe that we can trust her onetime fiancé to protect her." Not that Jack believed for one moment that Elizabeth would need protecting -- it was more likely that she would have to save Norrington from whatever mess his arrogance put them in. She'd not be lonely with James at her side. That was not, however, why he had left the two of them below and agreed to accompany Barbossa to the watch. "Do you think me wrong?" he asked, as if it were a matter of no concern to him. "Would a fearsome pirate like yourself refuse to maroon a pregnant woman, even if it meant giving up the Water of Life?"
Before laughing loudly Barbossa hesitated, only for a moment, but that was long enough to confirm the answer that Jack already suspected. Hector wouldn't be abandoning Elizabeth unless circumstances were dire indeed. That meant that Jack could use the lady to take back the Pearl. If he waited for the opportune moment, he could get away with the ship and the precious water both. And Norrington wouldn't be the only protector left behind to shepherd Elizabeth through her exile.
The smell of seawater filled the hold of the Black Pearl. Normally, this would have been a cause for concern for the entire ship. At present, however, it was of concern only to one man.
"Calypso?" inquired James Norrington.
Hundreds of crabs surrounded him, their pincers clacking as they swarmed. Gradually they took on the shape of a woman. Instinctively, Norrington reached for his sword. At least Elizabeth was safe -- she was asleep in a cabin on the deck above, though in all likelihood not alone. He knew full well that both Sparrow and Barbossa had been sneaking in to see her. It wasn't possible for James to keep them both fully occupied all the time.
"Why have you come?" he demanded of the sea goddess as crabs scuttled over his feet.
"Your captain want to see you," she announced in her reverberating voice. For a moment James thought she meant Barbossa and was about to object that he did not serve the pirate when he realized whom she did mean.
"Does Will Turner propose that I leave this ship, and his wife defenseless, during the days and weeks that it will take me to reach him?"
"Not days or weeks," Calypso half-crooned, half-growled. "Only a moment, for a dead man."
The crabs were climbing up his legs, covering his body. "I don't want --" he objected sharply.
"Him made you a bargain, James Norrington," the implacable voice reminded him as sharp claws pressed against his chest, his neck. He was going to drown in crabs. "When your master summons, you will go."
James didn't dare to cry out in protest as the crabs covered his mouth. He closed his eyes and was swallowed by the darkness. When next he dared to open them, he was standing in the strange twilight of the world beyond the world, on the deck of a ship that did not sway with the tides.
"How is Elizabeth? And how goes your quest?" demanded Will Turner.
James shook a stray crab from his sleeve. It waved its eyestalks at him and scuttled off.
"She bears your child," he said flatly. Though it might alter the terms of their accord, Turner had best know that at once; if James kept it from him, once he did find out, he would never trust James again. "She is well, though. Blooming, I should say."
Will's face went through a remarkable variety of expressions in a few seconds, before settling into wonder. "Elizabeth is pregnant?"
"Yes." James took a breath. "It hasn't slowed her as yet. If anything she is more high-handed and stubborn than ever. She had the same notion that you did about the Water of Life. Indeed, she had taken steps to locate Sparrow, who had stolen the chart from Barbossa, before I found her. She made a deal with Barbossa that if she could provide Sparrow and the chart, he would provide the services of the Black Pearl to take them to Florida."
"And did she find Sparrow?" Will folded his arms. Well, James knew that Will was aware that Elizabeth found the pirate attractive.
"Together we did," said James smoothly, "and convinced him that he would do better working with us than alone. With three, one of us could always be awake to guard the chart, for instance."
"For instance," Will repeated. "Was other... leverage... offered or required?"
"Nothing that you didn't offer me." James met Will's hot eyes coolly. "You said that you didn't require Elizabeth to be faithful in body. Do you truly want to know whether or not she has been?"
"Yes. No!" Will paced the deck. "No. I want her to be safe, more than anything. I can't look out for her myself; I trust you to put her welfare before your own, whatever that might require."
"All right, then." James would have been prepared to admit what he had done with Elizabeth, perhaps what Sparrow had done, but best for Will to be unaware of Barbossa's role, at least for the time being. "We are en route to Florida even now, and should make landfall soon. After that I imagine there will be some tedious trekking through jungle before we locate the Fountain, and I fully expect attempts at treachery along the way by Sparrow, Barbossa, or both. They are pirates, after all."
"So is Elizabeth," Will reminded him.
"And so are you, Turner. Did you have the sea goddess abduct me here only to inquire about Elizabeth's health?"
"Not just hers." Will waved to his father, who had been watching them at a distance from behind the Dutchman's wheel. "Why don't you come below with me, and you can tell me about your afterlife. Are you feeling quite your old self?"
"All the parts seem to work on land as well as at sea," James reported as he followed Will to the great cabin.
"Did Jack test them for you?"
There was a bit of sourness in Will's voice. James wondered which of them he envied. "Jack and Hector both," he confessed, watching Will's eyes widen. "What Barbossa lacks in grooming, he makes up for in other ways. I'd be happy to demonstrate."
"Really," drawled Will, looking James over speculatively as James tugged at his breeches.
An hour later, James had confirmed that he'd told Will the truth. While Turner had youth and good looks in his favor, and Sparrow could claim both enthusiasm and inventiveness, Barbossa had a kind of animal intensity that was entirely his own.
"...but the odds seemed better against the sea monster than the fleet, so I reefed the sails in, turned us around, and led the entire armada straight into its jaws..."
Elizabeth was laughing, her hair gleaming like a halo about her face despite the apple in her hand, when the temporary bulkhead slid aside. "Jack," demanded Hector very crossly. "What are you doing here? It's your watch."
"It is not," replied Jack, striding over to the pile of blankets upon which Elizabeth was sprawled and flopping down at her side. "It is Norrington's watch. But he is nowhere to be found."
"Nowhere to be found?" Elizabeth's good mood vanished. Sitting up, she set the half-eaten apple aside. "Where could he be, then?"
"In a place, I fear, where none of us can follow." Jack was making a rather odd face, and not a happy one. As Hector and Elizabeth both watched, he thrust a hand into his breeches and pulled out a crab, which dropped to the deck and quickly scurried away. "Our friend the admiral is with Calypso, if I'm not mistaken." Wrinkling his nose, Jack gave a sniff for emphasis. "Perhaps she's taken him back to Captain Turner's ship."
Now Elizabeth was scowling. "It seems unfair to me that because I have not had the fortune ever to have been dead, like all three of you, I cannot see my husband while James can."
Hector had been having a perfectly delightful evening regaling Elizabeth with sea stories before Jack's intrusion. He glared, though Jack only cocked an eyebrow at him in return.
"I believe there may be a larger concern, love," Jack said to Elizabeth, though his eyes remained on Hector. "There must be some reason for Calypso to be meddling."
"Perhaps she wants us to find the Water of Life before the bloody Spaniards get back to it," Hector snapped.
Elizabeth shook her head. "A sea goddess wouldn't care whether the flag flying over it were Spanish or English. Or pirate, for that matter." Her brow furrowed. "I wonder if it has something to do with her lost love at the bottom of the sea."
Jack raised his eyebrow further, his lips twitching. "You women do devote a great deal of your energies to love," he observed.
"And you believe that you men are immune?" asked Elizabeth sharply.
"Perhaps only some men. What do you think, Hector?"
Hector considered. "I am inclined to agree with the lady. Under the right circumstances, any man might be susceptible to love's blandishments."
"Davy Jones, for instance. He was so swayed by love for Calypso, and so distraught over her apparent indifference, that he was willing to carve his own heart from his chest to destroy that emotion," added Elizabeth, glaring at Jack. "But that is beside the point."
"And what is the point, my dear Captain Swann?" Without asking permission, Jack plucked an apple from the bowl and crunched into it. Hector glared at him.
"As you said. Why would Calypso meddle in our search for the Fountain of Youth? It was her doing that brought James into it. You two were already both planning to locate the Water of Life, and so was I. What is Calypso's goal?"
"How can we possibly know what that aqueous demi-goddess wants?" Hector sniffed and bit into his own apple. He still had not tired of them, not after the best part of a decade deprived of the delights of the comestible. Swallowing, he added, "Does it matter?"
"I think it might," said Jack. "As Tia Dalma she was artful, if not outright deceitful, and now, with her full powers restored? Underestimating Calypso could be fatal. Captain Swann may be right in guessing that her interest has something to do with Jones."
Elizabeth leaned forward. "What is the Water of Life, after all? That is, what are its properties?"
Hector cocked his head. "The legends say that it restores youth and health."
"But not life," pressed Elizabeth.
"No," Jack agreed. "At least, not that I've heard tell. None of the stories claim that the Water of Life will restore the dead."
"I sit here with evidence before my eyes that Calypso can restore the dead." Elizabeth put a hand beneath Hector's chin, lifting it. He tried not to shiver, not with Jack watching. "Yet she could not raise Jack from Davy Jones's Locker. She needed a ship to do that."
"I have a ship," said Jack blandly, gesturing around. Before Hector could object, Jack added, "So does your husband."
"Of course!" exclaimed Elizabeth. "The Dutchman can reach the Locker. Will wouldn't even have to get lost, since he already sails the seas beyond this world. But then what would Calypso need with any of us?"
"What do you suppose young William would say, love, if he was asked to save the man who murdered him and kept him from your side?"
Hector knew what he would say to the sea goddess if she tried to meddle in Elizabeth's affairs. He'd more than once regretted agreeing to perform the hasty ceremony that had joined Elizabeth and Will in holy matrimony, though he wasn't sure it was strictly legal, particularly since till death do you part had so little relevance now. "That sea-witch is using us," he snarled.
"But don't you see, this is good news, at least at the moment." Elizabeth was smiling. "It's clear that Calypso will want us to succeed in reaching the Fountain -- no tempests, no gales. And the Fountain itself is landlocked. Once we're on shore, and once we know what she's up to with James, we'll be in a better position to plan any negotiation with her."
Jack cast a speculative look over Elizabeth. "You're the only one of us in whom Norrington is likely to confide," he pointed out. "I feel quite sure that you can convince him to tell you anything he won't tell the rest of us."
Elizabeth didn't object, yet Hector didn't like Jack speaking to the lady that way, as if she were one of his whores and not every bit the pirate that Jack was. "Enough," he barked, snatching the apple core out of Jack's hand. "Since Norrington isn't here, Sparrow, you should be on deck. He can take your watch when he returns."
Something odd flickered across Jack's face as he looked from Elizabeth to Hector -- something like triumph rather than the complaint that Hector had expected. But at least Jack hauled himself to his feet. "Very well," he said. Hector supposed it was the probability that Jack would be the first to speak to Norrington that had made him so agreeable.
Once Jack had gone, Elizabeth settled back down on Hector's pillows, reaching for another apple. "You were going to tell me about raiding the treasure fleet?" she reminded him, eyes gleaming.
"That's right." Settling back on one elbow, Hector smiled at her. "We'd sailed from Tunis..."
"Something's not right with that crab woman," said Bootstrap Bill to his son.
Will knew that, after his years serving Davy Jones, his father would never trust any being that was more sea creature than human. "She's a sea goddess who was trapped in mortal form," he reminded Bill. "She hasn't forgotten. Or forgiven."
"Perhaps, but perhaps it's more than that."
"What do you think it is, then?" Will was careful to keep his expression calm and his eyes from glancing at the cabin where James lay sprawled, asleep on the bed they'd shared, waiting until Calypso might return him to the Pearl. No doubt Bill knew of that liaison, but there was no need to emphasize it.
"She can raise the dead, can she not?" Bill began to tick off numbers on his fingers. "She brought back that Captain Barbossa. And Sparrow. And that Royal Navy fellow yonder."
"I brought back Norrington, to this ship anyhow. And Sparrow's retrieval required rather more than just Calypso's magic," Will reminded him. "We had to go beyond World's End to bring him back."
"Ah, but she was not the goddess then, was she?" said Bill triumphantly. "It stands to reason that as a woman her powers were limited. That was the whole purpose of trapping her in mortal form."
"So, what is her purpose? What need does she have of you, who captains the Dutchman, or Norrington, who is slated to follow you in that capacity? I think she must want you under obligation to her... but I cannot puzzle out why, and I fear for you." Bill gave Will a crooked smile. "You are my son, my only living kin, as well as my captain."
Will walked to the rail and looked out over the dark waters, far less crowded now with the souls of the dead than they had been, since unlike Jones he had been carrying out his appointed task with due diligence. "You may be right. Let us see if we can puzzle it out together -- and perhaps Norrington might have ideas as well. I'll fetch him."
James's breath came calm and easy, his face slack in sleep but still bearing the lines that marked him as a man of power and integrity. Will shook his shoulder.
"James. There is something we must discuss."
"What?" James sat up, reaching for a sword that was not there. "Is it Elizabeth?"
Will crushed the pangs of jealousy that smote him. It was not James's doing that he, not Will, could see Elizabeth, touch her... Will would not let himself think further than that. "No. It's Calypso. My father thinks there is something fishy about her actions."
James grinned. "Fishy, yes." He reached for his shoes; he had slept in his clothes, not knowing when he would have to leave.
"Not funny." But it was. Will smiled back, grateful even in his disquiet for James's attempt at lightening his mood. "If the three of us discuss the matter, perhaps we can determine what her aims are, whether we can go along with them, and what steps we might take if not."
Nodding, James finished dressing, and Will reached to help him straighten his stockings. While Elizabeth had been engaged to Commodore Norrington, Will had never allowed himself to consider the question of whether the man might be considered handsome; he had been too filled with resentment. Now that Elizabeth was his wife, and James in his debt, he could admit that Norrington was indeed both dashing and distinguished. Straightening, Will asked him, "This isn't all too strange for you? Being with me after sailing with her?"
James tilted his head to the side, considering, then gave Will an unexpectedly warm smile. "'Strange' doesn't come close to describing it," he admitted. "To a very great degree, I am simply happy to be alive. I'm afraid that, like you, I am jealous of every man who looks at Elizabeth, but at the same time, I would gladly set aside my own wishes to protect her. And I must confess that I have learned to enjoy some things I thought at first I would do only out of necessity."
Will laughed softly, nodding in understanding. "Death has a way of changing a man's perspective," he agreed. "But Sparrow and Barbossa, really? Not at the same time?"
"I would not have planned it that way, but Barbossa left us no choice." At James's somewhat shy smile, Will laughed again. The other man sobered quickly, however. "I don't fool myself that my charms have overwhelmed either of them. Nor that they follow Elizabeth out of unrequited love, though I do think Hector has a soft spot for her." Will knew he must have looked repelled, for James quickly added, "Which I've no doubt she will use for her own benefit, and yours. Unlike Sparrow, he bears her no ill will for his death."
In the world of Will's youth, that statement would have sounded completely mad. His beautiful young wife -- his beautiful young pregnant wife -- had a dead husband and three dead companions, all vying for the legendary water that might offer some or all of them restoration.
"About Calypso," said James, bringing Will back to the present. "I have a theory, but I don't think you're going to like it."
"Come on deck and tell it to my father as well." Will stole a kiss before he led James up, finding Bill at the wheel of the Flying Dutchman. "Mister Norrington has a guess about why the sea goddess has meddled in our plans. I'm afraid he shares your fear that it isn't out of the goodness of her heart," he told his father.
Bill looked at James. "This isn't about Will's heart, is it?" None of them had forgotten that whoever possessed the heart could control the captain, and through him the ship. Will had refused to let Elizabeth tell him where she planned to hide it for safekeeping, lest the secret should somehow put any of them at risk.
"Perhaps it is. I wouldn't presume to guess how Calypso might carry out her plans, but I suspect it must have something to do with the former captain of this vessel."
"The man she loves." Bill nodded, understanding. "Not even a sea goddess can reach him in the Locker. But the captain of the Dutchman could."
Will felt more fury rising in him than he could muster at the thought of Elizabeth with James, or Jack, or even Barbossa. "Davy Jones is the reason I must spend ten years sailing these seas instead of being with my wife," he spat. "Give me one reason why I should consider helping him."
"Son, you know as well as I do that Elizabeth won't spend those ten years safe on land." Bill didn't even know yet that Elizabeth was carrying his grandchild, but Will already knew that that would change as little as possible for Elizabeth if she had her way. "If the sea goddess controls the waves, she can keep Elizabeth safe from storms and reefs and raiders all."
"Don't think of it as helping Jones," James suggested. "I think Bill has the right of it -- if Calypso needs your help to free Jones, then you have the leverage to bargain for Elizabeth's safety in return. Such safety as is within Calypso's power, that is. And that might go beyond the power of the sea."
He gave Will a significant nod. Will knew that he referred to the dangers of childbirth, and that he was right; the one-time voodoo priestess might well have charms or herbs or other means to keep Elizabeth safe then.
Will begrudged the idea of aiding Jones, for any reason at all, but if that was Calypso's aim then he suspected he would have no choice, and might as well make the best bargain he could.
"The Dutchman can go anywhere. The living world, this world of the dead, the Locker beyond the End of the World -- anywhere at all, with her captain at her helm," said Bill. "Surely if Calypso wanted Jones freed and could do it herself, she would. She must need your help; there seems no other reasonable explanation why she is aiding you."
James nodded again.
"I suppose that must be it," said Will, although it niggled at him that they might have overlooked something. Neither pirates nor women nor the sea were to be trusted, and Calypso in her way united all three. "So, then. What does each person in this increasingly complicated set of agreements get in the end?"
"You're freed from the captaincy after ten years," Bill said. "Your wife is kept safe for that time... perhaps for her whole life. And she'll stay young, to match you, from drinking the water of the Fountain of Youth."
"I get ten years of life," said James quietly. He did not need to add "with Elizabeth."
"Sparrow and Barbossa each gets the Water of Life as well, and Calypso gets Jones." Will spat after Jones's name. "It seems straightforward enough, but will the agreements hold? Who would benefit by breaking them, and how?"
"Jack wants the Pearl back again. If he can come up with a scheme to achieve her repossession, I think he might be willing even to give up the Water of Life. Certainly he would be willing to do anything short of that," James said.
"That's Jack," Bill agreed. "He values that ship above anything but his own skin."
Will looked troubled. "He saved Elizabeth's life, twice," he admitted. "In both cases at risk to himself." James hadn't been there when Jack had taken Elizabeth from the sinking Dutchman as Will had lain dead on the deck -- Will knew about it only from Elizabeth, who'd told him afterward -- but surely James remembered how Jack had saved Elizabeth when she'd fallen into the sea and nearly drowned in her corset.
"Jack has never had to choose between Elizabeth's safety and the Pearl," James pointed out. "And we all know how Elizabeth chose when the balance lay between staying with Jack and a sinking ship or saving herself and the crew."
"What about Barbossa?" asked Bill. "He can't be trusted. You know what he did to Jack and me."
Now James looked uncomfortable. "I wouldn't trust Barbossa or his monkey any further than I could toss the pair of them. But where Elizabeth is concerned... I think he likes her."
Will swore under his breath. "Is there any man currently serving on the Black Pearl who is not in love with my wife?" he asked plaintively.
"Pintel and Ragetti," said James at once. "And Murtogg and Mullroy."
It shouldn't have been funny, but it was. Helplessly, Will broke into a smile, and James smiled back.
Elizabeth paced the deck, peering over the side from time to time as if she expected James to appear in one of the boats that had borne her father to the land of the dead past the world's end. It was hopeless, of course. Calypso would bring James back when she was good and ready, and not one moment before.
It wasn't that Elizabeth feared for James's safety. Now that she could guess what the sea goddess wanted with Will, she knew that James would be safe, at least for as long as Calypso and Will both believed that James served their interests. She wondered whether Will would ask James exactly what Elizabeth had been up to since they'd last seen each other. They had promised one another that no Church-based notions of marriage would govern them so long as they remained true to one another in their hearts, but how Will would feel about his pregnant wife carrying on with her former fiancé, and a pirate he had once envied, and Barbossa for heaven's sake, she couldn't begin to guess.
She had never pretended that she wanted any of them only for protection or leverage: all right, with Barbossa in particular, she had tried to tell herself that she was only indulging him to keep them all on equal terms, as it were, but he'd surprised her just as much as James with his passion and intensity. What were James and Will doing now -- renegotiating their bargain, and sealing it as they had done before? The thought made her quiver a bit. She hoped that James would tell her all about it when he returned.
The ladder creaked, and Jack hauled himself on deck. "Not tiring yourself out, are you, love?" he inquired.
Elizabeth sniffed at him. "It takes more than a bit of walking on deck to tire me, as you should know." She had proved that quite thoroughly on more than one occasion.
"Good, since we will have quite a distance to travel on land before we reach the Fountain," Jack said. He pulled out the chart and glanced at it. Elizabeth stepped closer, but before she could get more than a glimpse, Jack had tucked it against his chest.
"Jack." She scowled.
"Sorry, love," he apologized, letting the chart come into view again. "Old habits."
Elizabeth didn't try to take it from him -- despite their initial agreement that she would hold the chart, Jack had retaken it and only let her or James have it when he slept, and she suspected he wouldn't do that if he had any choice -- instead leaning close to tap the oddly-shaped letters that spelled out "Aqua de Vita".
"How long do you think it will take?"
"Another day or two before we arrive on the Florida coast," he said, squinting up at the sails. "Luckily the Fountain doesn't seem to be too far inland, if I read this right, but it is probably a good day's walk, or more, to reach it."
Calypso would deign to return James by then, Elizabeth hoped. If not, well, they would owe the sea-goddess nothing, and she would not mind that outcome either.
"I suppose Hector will leave most of the crew on the Pearl," she said.
"To guard her? Most likely. Although the more who travel to the Fountain, the more water can be taken away." Jack grinned. "Who knows how much a person must drink to restore his youth?"
"A good point," said Elizabeth slowly. "And what if someone were to drink too much? Would he revert to childhood? Perhaps disappear altogether? I doubt there will be instructions conveniently placed for pilgrims such as ourselves. Who knows how quickly it will take effect, for that matter?" She wondered, but did not say aloud, if the Water might have adverse effects on the child she carried.
"We will simply have to see." Jack slipped his arm around her waist. "Elizabeth."
Jack wanted something, she knew at once. As much as she wanted to believe that it was simply herself that he was after, she was perfectly aware that Jack had more on his mind than her charms. "Yes, Captain Sparrow?" she asked sweetly, gesturing to remind him that they were hardly alone on deck, what with Gibbs pretending to ignore them and Pintel openly watching with a naughty grin on his face.
"I'm just being friendly, love," Jack explained helpfully.
"Yes, you've been very friendly this entire voyage." Elizabeth gave him her most winning smile. "Am I to understand, then, that I am entirely forgiven for the incident with the Kraken, and my welfare is now your foremost concern?"
Jack made one of his incomprehensible gestures. "Since we have all agreed that the past shall be overlooked if not precisely forgotten for mutual benefit during this venture, and since the Water of Life may restore, as it were, what time was stolen from me during my lamentable imprisonment in Davy Jones' Locker --"
"Which was not my fault, but the result of a bargain that you yourself had made with Jones," Elizabeth put in, wanting to make sure Jack remembered that it was not she who had trapped Jack into servitude or punishment at Jones's behest.
" -- be that as it may, if this venture of ours is successful, there will be no reason to belabor those events which I'm sure you wish to put behind us just as I do."
Nodding, Elizabeth leaned in to whisper confidentially in Jack's ear, blowing a bit and letting her tongue brush the lobe. "And what of the Black Pearl? I assume you have a plan to steal it back from Barbossa."
"Don't worry yourself about dear Hector," Jack murmured back. "If he refuses to see reason and return full powers to the ship's rightful captain, despite the known wishes of the crew, I shall be far more generous than he was with me, and leave him plenty of rum and apples in his exile."
"But exile can be so lonely," purred Elizabeth, walking her fingers up Jack's chest. "I suspect you're generous enough to plan to leave him with companionship as well. Perhaps distracting companionship, so that you can get away on the Pearl while he is otherwise engaged." She gave Jack's beard a tug. "Am I right?"
"I'm sure I have no idea what you mean." Jack's wide-eyed, wounded expression was very nearly convincing.
Elizabeth would have pressed further, but a crab scuttled over the side, followed by another. "Finally," she exclaimed. "It's about time." She couldn't help noticing that Jack shuffled away from the rail uneasily as the crabs that were Calypso began to cover the deck.
It was disconcerting to see not only Calypso herself, but James Norrington emerge from the pile of clattering crustaceans.
"Him will remember?" Calypso asked James. He nodded. The sea-goddess turned to Elizabeth, who very much wanted to know what it was James was to remember, but thought it best to wait and inquire in more privacy. "Your man, he is a canny bargainer. If his bargain calls on you, will you act as he promised?"
Jack had edged behind Calypso, and was shaking his head, but Elizabeth did not need his advice.
"No. Not until I know what he promised, and not unless I agree with what he said. Even my husband does not speak for me; the Pirate King acknowledges no man as superior." She met Calpyso's dark gaze levelly.
To her surprise Calypso smiled. "I thought you would not. Be it so." She turned toward Jack, but said nothing to him before transforming once again into the multiple crabs which scuttled off the side of the ship.
James shook himself. "Is she gone?"
"She appears to be." Elizabeth glanced around and saw no remaining crabs. "Were you on the Dutchman?"
"Yes." James shut his eyes briefly. "Your husband sends his love, and was delighted, if somewhat concerned, to hear your news."
"My news? Oh." Elizabeth had almost forgotten that Will had not known of their child-to-be, she had grown so accustomed to the idea. "Thank you for telling him. Why did Calypso take you to see him, do you suppose?"
"Why ask for her reasons?" Jack broke in. His voice had a sour edge now, quite different from the flirtatious tone he had been using before they had been interrupted. "You'll think you know them, and she'll prove you mistaken, time and again."
James ignored Jack. "I was also able to tell Will that we were all en route to the Fountain of Youth, as he and I planned. We think that Calypso's interest in all this is in having Will in her debt, on your account, so that he will retrieve Jones from the Locker for her."
"And what promises did Will make that I am expected to fulfill, if Calypso spoke true? And what is it that you are supposed to remember?" Elizabeth demanded.
Now James was looking at Jack. "Will and I agree that Elizabeth's safety comes before any other concern," he said, enunciating each word carefully, as if Jack were a simpleton who might find a way to misunderstand. "If recovering the Water of Life should prove too dangerous, we turn back to the ship."
"All right," Jack said, with a smile and a small bow.
"All of us, Jack. Not just Elizabeth and myself."
Jack's expression turned surly. "If you and Captain Swann should choose to remain with the ship, surely you wouldn't object to a small shore party carrying out our intended mission..."
"I know how pirates treat crewmen who fall behind, Sparrow. Even captains." James narrowed his eyes. "Will and I also agree that Elizabeth's safety is more important than the question of who captains the Black Pearl. Whether it's Barbossa or you, Jack, it's all the same to us."
Jack's eyes had slid over to Elizabeth when Barbossa's name was mentioned. "And in this matter, do you agree with your husband?" Jack asked her. "Or, as a former pirate king, do you wish to speak for yourself?"
Elizabeth chose not to be goaded. She had no doubt that Will and James truly had her best interests at heart, even though she might not agree with their methods. And she was growing ever more certain that Barbossa, too, would protect her. Which meant that, even if a good man lurked beneath Jack Sparrow's avaricious exterior as she had always believed, he was her least dependable ally.
James had turned his attention back to Elizabeth as well. "Calypso told me that there are herbs that grow in Florida which will keep you safe during childbirth," he said. "I assume that a sorceress who could raise Barbossa from the dead must know her remedies. Whatever happens at the Fountain of Youth, we will wish to find them."
"Then you would be risking everything for another man's wife, Norrington?" asked Jack, picking at the fraying end of a braid as though it mattered little to him.
James rested a hand on his hip very near to where his sword would have been, were he wearing one. "Perhaps you don't understand how the Flying Dutchman performs her duties," he said acidly. "Jones may have found lonely immortality because he shirked his duties, but if Will carries out the job of ferrying the dead and comes ashore to find Elizabeth and his heart waiting for him, after ten years, his life will be returned to him. He will go free."
Elizabeth's eyes widened in understanding. "Whereas you have promised to join the crew at the end of that time. And the Dutchman will need a captain."
"Better captain than crew, wouldn't you agree? I am sure that Sparrow would." James gave Jack a mocking bow.
"Yes," acknowledged Elizabeth. She now comprehended more fully the purpose behind James's presence... at least, so she thought. Transparent though he was in many ways, he occasionally had surprised her, not least when he released her from her betrothal and relinquished her to Will. Had he not, none of them would be here now; perhaps none of them would be alive. Cutler Beckett had been quite ruthless. "Which raises an interesting question. When we leave the Pearl to traverse the wilds of the Florida jungle, or whatever it may be, who will be in command of the landing party?"
"Why, you, love, of course," said Jack with an air of surprise, as if no other answer were possible.
"Oh? Why me?" Not that Elizabeth objected, though she thought that Barbossa had best be consulted before anything was decided. Even if he agreed with the decision, were he not part of the deliberations he would dispute it simply to maintain his pride.
"Who but the Pirate King should lead a party that includes two pirate captains and a former admiral of the Royal Navy?" Jack's voice remained disingenuous, which warned Elizabeth that there was more to it than what he had said.
"James? What do you think? Both Jack and Hector have returned from the dead in a way that you have not, and I have never died. The Water of Life will presumably have no effect on you as it would on the rest of us. One might argue that you would therefore be the best leader, since you have the least personal stake in the matter," said Elizabeth.
"As Jack pointed out, I am also not a pirate." James gave her a tight grin. "Which might qualify me uniquely for this, but also might dis-qualify me, given that pirates are not known for trusting authority in any official guise. No, I agree that you are the best choice, assuming that Barbossa is willing."
"Willing to do what?" asked Barbossa, suddenly appearing on the upper deck.
Elizabeth gave her hair a defiant toss. "When we reach the coast of Florida, I shall lead the landing party to the Water of Life."
She expected an objection, but Barbossa only cast a sharp look toward Jack before returning his gaze to her. "Are you certain that's wise?" he asked her. "Not every man here can be trusted when there's treasure at stake."
"If you mean, do I understand that either you or Jack may abandon me to seize either the Fountain or the Pearl, I take it for granted," she retorted. "However, I would suggest that you both consider how the sea goddess might punish any slight to myself or to James, who has found favor with her. You take to the seas without us at your own peril."
She kept her eyes on Barbossa as she spoke, but the words were as much for Jack... if not more for Jack.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4