|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2011-06-14 12:08:00
|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 (3/4) [Elizabeth/Hector/Jack/James/Will, adult]
Title: We Have an Accord (part 3)
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.
So Elizabeth would be traipsing through the wilds of Florida. Which meant that both Norrington and Barbossa would be following in her wake, probably trying to outdo one another to keep her safe. It almost made things too easy, thought Jack. He'd half a mind to volunteer to stay behind and defend the Black Pearl while they were hacking through the jungle, but Hector would certainly become suspicious if Jack didn't want to leave the ship. They both knew that if Jack had to choose between the Fountain of Youth and the Pearl, he'd be sailing away while Hector and the others were getting drunk on life.
Hector was still on the weather deck, which probably meant that Elizabeth was with Norrington. Perhaps young William had asked James to give his wife a kiss on his behalf. Or something more than a kiss. At least, they were likely to be distracted until the next bell.
"Mr. Gibbs," Jack called out, catching his old friend by the arm as they passed on the gun deck. "I wish to speak to you about the care and protection of my ship when we make landfall."
"Your ship?" asked Gibbs, looking befuddled. Doubtless he'd been at the rum. "Oh, your ship! You mean the Pearl!"
"Shhhhh," Jack admonished him. "I believe that Captain Barbossa has many things weighing on his mind at the moment, and I wish to be certain that, should it become necessary to make a quick departure, the crew will be ready to pull up anchor at a moment's notice."
Their plans were interrupted by a shout from above. "Land, ho!"
Gibbs started, and was about to head for his duty station when Jack forestalled him.
"Landfall is not that imminent," he said firmly. "Nor is there likely to be rum obtainable there." He ignored Gibbs's sigh.
"What is it you want, Cap'n?"
At least one of the crew acknowledged his rightful position, although Gibbs was somewhat less than reliable. But he had never mutinied, and that said something for him.
"Barbossa," Jack would not grant the title of captain to the man, "will doubtless place someone in command of the Pearl when the landing party leaves the vessel. Whether or not that someone is yourself, you are my first mate and I therefore will hold you to be in command at that time. You are to ensure that the crew is alert and on duty at all times... after the first twenty-four hours, that is." He reckoned that was safe enough. No pirate crew could be expected not to slacken off after landfall, but it would take at least a day to reach the Fountain and obtain its bounty. "The ship must be prepared to depart the moment I return. Savvy?"
Gibbs looked confused. Jack regretted that Gibbs was the best man he had to rely upon.
"When you return? What about the rest of the landing party?"
"Any man who falls behind, is left behind." Jack showed his teeth in a grin. "Those who aid me will receive due recompense."
"Aye, I understand you." Gibbs nodded and laid his finger alongside his nose. "Consider the ship as good as yours, Jack."
"She is mine." He barely kept his voice controlled. With a touch of luck, he would have both the Pearl and the Water of Life. Even without luck, he would have his ship back. Eternal youth meant nothing to him without the freedom that the Black Pearl brought.
"Gibbs!" Marty peered up at them. "Captain bids you to haul line."
"Aye, aye, I'm coming." Gibbs hurried off, with Marty following him.
Gibbs might or might not manage to do as Jack had asked, but it was a start. Jack made his way along the deck, considering additional possibilities. He ducked out of sight into the hold to find the bundle of useful items he had put together, ready for this moment.
Someone had beaten him to it. The rum was gone.
This meant two things. The first, which Jack had already suspected, was that Elizabeth Swann was a meddling, intrusive, hard-hearted woman with no understanding of what a man needed to survive. The second was that she already knew, or could guess, at his plan.
Had she told Barbossa? Jack could hear him on the upper deck, shouting orders, taking in sail, preparing to send the boats over the side as they approached the coast. They were running low on apples, but Jack had a feeling that Elizabeth could persuade Hector to make do with oranges, especially after a long sea voyage when the risk of scurvy ran high. Surely Hector didn't fool himself that Elizabeth found him as delightful as he apparently found her, but if Elizabeth had decided that Hector would be a better ally than Jack, it would mean Jack would have to fight off her, Barbossa, and Norrington, all to reclaim the ship that was rightfully his in the first place.
He heard a screech and looked up. The nasty spying undead monkey, his namesake, was hanging from a coil of rope. Since Tia Dalma had reunited the creature with Barbossa, they had been more inseparable than ever. "Did you take the rum?" demanded Jack, but the monkey only cocked its head and scampered up on deck.
At least his telescope was still there, and the sword he'd borrowed from a sailor in Tortuga. Jack had not allowed the compass off his person, nor his knife, and he had only relinquished the map when it had been necessary for one of the others to consult it... or when he slept. Barbossa had the rum locked up, but he'd have to relinquish the keys to Jack when it was Jack's turn on watch, which would surely occur before they reached Florida.
"Let me help you," said James, reaching to give Elizabeth a hand out of the boat.
She rolled her eyes at him. "I am not so infirm that I am incapable of doing this myself." Indeed, Elizabeth looked healthier than ever, dressed now in a pirate's discarded coat, breeches, and boots. With her hair tucked under her hat, she looked rather like a boy, but that didn't bother James. Will was nearly as pretty as she was, particularly in the sorts of big feathered hats that had been in favor when Will and Elizabeth had tricked him into letting Jack Sparrow escape and thus ruined James Norrington's life.
Not that he minded so very much, he thought as Barbossa flashed him a grin.
"Jack," Elizabeth was complaining. "You need to let us all see the map. We know better than to let you be our guide through the jungle. Someone else must know the route."
"I might be in more of a collaborative mood if someone would return the rum," replied Jack peevishly.
"Stop your complaining, Jack, and let the lady see the charts," Barbossa ordered.
For a moment James thought Jack might comment on the term "lady" -- it was true that it was quite inadequate to describe Elizabeth -- but he merely scowled the harder and pulled the map from inside his jacket, adjusting the wheels to the proper position to display the location of the Fountain of Youth.
"Captain Swann. No, Turner." Jack swept one of his florid bows. "Pardon me. Pirate King Turner, if I make no mistake. As our duly chosen leader, you shall be the one to know the route and guide us to our destination."
Elizabeth's expression was openly skeptical, but she took the chart from Jack and studied it, waving Barbossa back when he attempted to come close to see it for himself. James had examined the route while they were all back on the Pearl, and thought he remembered it well enough. Nonetheless he edged to a position where he could glimpse the map over Elizabeth's shoulder, blessing his touch of long-sightedness for letting him make out the details from there. Jack would do was was best for himself, and although Elizabeth was trustworthy -- most of the time -- James preferred the security of knowledge that would let him act independently if need be.
It was notable that Jack had given Barbossa the impression that neither Elizabeth nor James had examined the chart in any detail before this, and that Elizabeth was playing along with that little deception. James wondered if Barbossa, too, knew more than it appeared; but no. Jack would never have let the man see the charts, James had not, and he didn't believe Elizabeth had ever had the opportunity to do so.
"That way." Elizabeth looked up and pointed northwest, into a dense and swampy-looking tangle of trees whose roots held their trunks up high in the air.
"I'll keep this for now," she added, rolling up the map and tucking it into a pocket in her jacket. She slung her canvas poke over her shoulder. "Are you all ready? It's past midday, but my guess is that we won't reach the Fountain until late tomorrow, at best, so we might as well begin."
James settled his own bag and checked his sword in its sheath. He had not worn it on board, but on this expedition, a good weapon might be invaluable. Will Turner had fashioned some of the finest swords James had ever seen, and this had been one of his best. "Ready."
His reply was echoed by the rival captains and the half-dozen crew that Barbossa had insisted on bringing. Gibbs, the only one with whom James was more than passingly familiar, had been left in charge of the ship.
Barbossa fell into step beside him as they walked. Elizabeth had taken the lead, with Pintel and Ragetti bumbling beside her -- the one with a wooden eye, the other with a stature that would have kept him from advancement in the Royal Navy. Jack had taken up the rear and was currently engaged in conversation with the two buffoons who had most recently worked for Cutler Beckett, though they had been stationed at Port Royal when James had first been made Commodore.
"What d'ye think of our chances of finding the Fountain?" Barbossa asked.
"From what I understand, the map was accurate, if enigmatic, in leading you to Davy Jones's Locker and back," James replied, glancing forward to be certain that the men flanking Elizabeth were doing an adequate job scouting ahead. "Are you concerned with finding the Fountain, or with retrieving its treasure?"
Barbossa flashed him a grin. "If the Fountain be all that the legends say it is, we'll have no trouble collecting." Two of the men marching with them carried empty barrels from the ship, ready to be filled and conveyed back through the jungle with the priceless water. Then Barbossa lowered his voice. "And what d'ye think of our chances of making our way home with our prize?"
The word "home" made James hesitate. He had none now, he supposed, apart from the Flying Dutchman, and by command of her captain, at Elizabeth's side. As for Barbossa, where did he consider home to be? "By home, do you mean Khazaran?" asked James.
Barbossa laughed so loudly that Elizabeth glanced back to see what she'd missed. "I have never had the pleasure of sailing the Volga," said the Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea with contempt in his voice. "In fact, I intend to live my life without ever laying eyes on the big salty lake it feeds." Casting an appraising look at James, Barbossa lowered his brows. "Did you believe I inherited my position as Pirate Lord? I took the title on the point of a sword."
"I had wondered," James admitted. He had been even more curious how Jack Sparrow had come by such a title as well, but Elizabeth had recently explained about Captain Teague and the Pirate Code of the Brethren. "Does that mean, then, that whoever possesses the appropriate piece of eight can claim the title of Pirate Lord?"
"Aye, but you'd have to find it, first, and since we burned our old ones to free Calypso, you'd have to know what you were looking for. The Brethren Court won't be a-meetin' again this century, I estimate, so I wouldn't worry too much about the titles." With a toothy grin, Barbossa leaned in as if confiding a secret. "If I were you, I'd be more worried about Jack's plan to steal the Pearl. Surely you realize he intends to take my ship and strand whoever is necessary to accomplish that goal?"
James reacted as though he hadn't given much thought to the possibility. "I assume you have a plan to prevent him?" he asked in the same low voice.
"I do, but it will require cooperation from yourself. We dead men have to stick together."
Which rather ignored the fact that Jack was similarly dead, of course, but James nodded. "What is it that you need me to do?"
"Watch Sparrow." Barbossa flicked a glance over his shoulder in Jack's direction. "Stay near him, as much as you can; he trusts no one these days, but he seems to mistrust you less than some. And keep your hand on your sword, ready for whatever he may do. Between us we two can defeat him."
"If it comes to a fight," James agreed. He knew that with a sword he was as good as, perhaps better than, Jack. The only reason the pirate had held his own against James on Isla Cruces was because it had been a three-way fight, and Will was even more skilled than James. As long as James and Hector worked together, Jack would stand no chance. "I would not care to wager that Sparrow will depend on shedding blood as his means, however. In the past he has been too canny for that."
"Too cowardly," corrected Barbossa with a curl of his lip. "But you're right. It would be out of Jack's character."
"And he has a surfeit of character." James's sardonic smile was matched by Barbossa.
"That he has. He might be suborning Mullroy and Murtogg to aid him, but it has never been Jack's way to rely on others if he could avoid it -- proof why he should not be captain of the Pearl, if any were needed. More likely he has a plan to use them as dupes, to distract us."
"You're likely right." James detoured around an especially large mangrove. This whole area was in effect one enormous swamp, and stank of stagnant water. "We'll watch them too, but Sparrow more closely. I doubt he'll do anything before we find the Fountain, not with Elizabeth carrying the charts."
They stopped for the night not long after dark, and not long after something that might have been a dangerous monster, but had more likely been a small lizard, terrified Murtogg into a fit of screaming. Even in the damp swamp, the pirates proved adept at getting a fire lit, and Pintel managed to shoot down a couple of large-billed birds that fed them all very well along with what fruit they could scavenge. James found several of the herbs that Calypso had recommended, too, and carefully gathered them to take back to the ship for Elizabeth, should she need them.
Barbossa and Jack took first watch along with two of the other men -- James doubted that Hector would sleep at any time when Jack was awake, so long as they were on land -- so James lay next to Elizabeth, hoping to rest close to her with the sounds of night birds and insects all around them.
"What were you and Hector plotting earlier?" she whispered when he crawled near.
"Plotting? Nothing. We were discussing our course of action should Jack try to seize the Pearl, which we both think very likely," James whispered back.
"I trust you came up with a better solution than Hector's, which I suspect will be to shoot him?"
For reasons James didn't want to think about, it irritated him to hear Elizabeth calling Sparrow and Barbossa both by their given names. "I've a mind to shoot Sparrow myself if he tries to strand us here," he replied irritably.
"The thing about Jack," said Elizabeth slowly, "is that he values second chances even more than he values that ship. He'd deny that it's so, but look how careless he's been; Hector has managed to steal the Pearl from him three times now. He may believe he'd leave us at the Fountain to take the Pearl now, but I don't believe he'll leave here without the Water of Life, at least not before he knows whether it can do all its reputation claims."
James pushed her sun-streaked hair back from her forehead. He had often thought that Elizabeth was the cleverest of all of them, and was sorry for the thousandth time that she had always preferred Turner to himself, though Turner's charms were fresh in his mind. "Your weakness is that you truly believe a good man resides inside each of us," he told her, though privately he thought that that was also her greatest power over them all.
"I haven't been proven wrong yet. Barbossa has behaved entirely honorably toward us since the meeting of the Brethren Court. Jack risked his life for me and gave up immortality aboard the Dutchman for Will. And you came back. I wonder whether even Davy Jones might be saved, now that his heart is no longer locked in a chest."
Again James wondered about Calypso's role in all this. If Will could retrieve Jones from the Locker, and his current companions could find the magical water, could Jones live again as a man? At this point, he thought, nothing would have surprised him.
Though when Sparrow woke him for his watch, and he rose to see Elizabeth sleeping peacefully between a leering Pintel and Ragetti, James wondered whether that was really true.
Today was the day his life became truly his own again, thought Hector Barbossa as he rose. Today they would find the Fountain of Youth, and no matter what threats the sea goddess might make against him, no matter how many times Sparrow might try to steal his ship, no matter what ploy the lovely Captain Swann might try to use to keep every man present under her thumb, today Hector would find renewal.
He toed his men in the ribs to wake those who still slept. It didn't take long before the whole party had broken their fast -- ship's biscuit was not an entertaining enough comestible to warrant lingering over it -- and was ready to move out.
Elizabeth retained the chart, of course, and led them in her usual imperious manner. Not that Hector minded that. Much. Audacity generally pleased him, although she could take it to extremes. She did guide them well, however, preventing Mullroy and Murtogg from blundering into an area that the chart identified as quicksand. Their loss in itself would have mattered little, except that they happened to be the ones carrying the barrels for the Water of Youth, and that loss would have been disastrous.
The air was warm and humid and all of them slapped at mosquitoes and other insects as they threaded their way through the maze of trees and over the sodden ground. Hector was thankful that the Fountain was supposed to be not too far inland; he was meant for the open sea and the salt breeze, not this putrid marsh.
Sparrow's open peevishness over the climate mollified Hector's disgruntlement somewhat, enough that he was able to say, almost cheerfully, "Not too damp for you, is it, Sparrow?"
He earned a glare for that, which improved his mood further. Elizabeth shook her head but seemed more amused than anything. She was walking alone at the moment, a few yards behind Crimp and Matelot who were in the lead. Hector lengthened his stride to catch up to her.
"How much further d'ye think the Fountain may be, Captain Swann?"
She shrugged, a motion that tightened the material across her bosom. Male clothes did not hinder her beauty at all. "Some hours. This is not terrain over which we can move quickly, and the map does not give exact distances in any case."
"Might I suggest that when next we come to some sizable hummock or two in this forsaken wilderness," Hector carefully kept his eyes on her face, "that a pause for victuals might be in order? You wouldn't want your loyal crew a-faintin' from hunger, now."
"If I can walk, I would think that even those two can keep up." Elizabeth gestured back at Murtogg and Mullroy, who were sweating copiously in the heat, mopping their faces with their sleeves. "Not getting tired, are you, Captain Barbossa?"
She was smiling, so Hector returned the smile. "I can keep up well enough," he said, gesturing expansively at the vegetation around them. "But some members of our party have complaints. You wouldn't want a mutiny on your hands."
Turning, Elizabeth looked back at Jack, who was waving his hat wildly to scare away some sort of flying insect. A fond smile played at the corners of her mouth. "Jack wouldn't dream of mutiny after his own tragic experiences with such a horror, would he?" she asked sweetly.
"When the captain isn't keeping the best interests of the crew at heart, it's the crew's responsibility to appoint another captain," Barbossa said, returning her smile. "Even if it means feeding the former captain to the Kraken. I'm sure you'd agree."
It was a cruel remark, and Hector expected her ire -- he was rather looking forward to it, in fact -- but Elizabeth only cast an appraising look at him. "Are you suggesting, then, that if the crew believes the best man for the position to be, perhaps, a former navy officer, or even a woman, then the crew should attempt to place that person in command of the ship?"
Hector laughed so loudly that every one of their fellow crewmembers stopped to look at them. "Ragetti! Toss me one of those apples," he barked, well aware that the most loyal of his shipmates was carrying the fruit safely bundled away. To Elizabeth, he said, "I'm sure that by now you know the risks of the captaincy. You're the only captain here who's never been deceased, and somewhat newer to the title than the rest of us."
"I promise you, Hector, I have no designs on your ship." The ground was sloping upward, and Elizabeth sounded faintly out of breath as she pulled out the chart. "Very well. We shall stop to eat when we reach the top of this hill, assuming..."
Her voice trailed off, and Hector took his gaze away from its surreptitious contemplation of her breasts to follow her glance. The trees seemed to thin out ahead, then disappear entirely.
"I think..." Putting the chart away, Elizabeth began to run. Immediately James and the others raced after her. They came to a halt as the ground dropped away in front of them.
At the bottom of the mound upon which they were standing, a cascade of water emerged from the ground.
"The Fountain of Youth," breathed Elizabeth. "It must be."
"Wait!" Hector barked as everyone began to move towards the sparkling spring.
"Whatever for?" Sparrow ostentatiously kept walking, though all the rest had stopped.
"We don't know what the effects will be." James voiced Hector's own thoughts. "How much must be drunk to have any effect, or whether drinking more will make a man younger still, for instance."
"That's a problem easily solved." Sparrow's gold teeth caught the sunlight as he grinned. "You, Ragetti. You drink a cupful, and Pintel, you drink two. Then we'll see what happens."
"Why do I have to drink two cups?" Pintel complained.
"You're the oldest here, save perhaps Barbossa. Should more of the water from the Fountain of Youth have a greater effect, you can tolerate it best."
Hector seethed -- Pintel had at least a decade on him, he was sure -- but said nothing. Sparrow's method of testing was reasonable enough in the circumstances.
Cautiously Pintel and Ragetti each knelt and dipped out a cupful. Ragetti looked at his as if it might be poison, sipping and shuddering. Pintel closed his eyes and drank down the first cup in one go.
"How does it taste?" Murtogg asked.
"Like water," said Pintel. He looked at Sparrow, whose hand rested casually on the hilt of his sword, and with clear reluctance scooped up a second cupful and drank it.
"Like water," agreed Ragetti, still shuddering as he finished his.
"Do you feel any different?" asked Elizabeth, watching them both closely. "Your appearance hasn't changed."
"Perhaps it will take some time for the water to have an influence," said James. He had moved close behind Sparrow, Hector was glad to see.
Pintel ran a hand over the top of his head. "Is my hair growing back?" he asked hopefully.
"No, you look just the way you always do." Ragetti was rubbing his right eye socket crossly. "Ugly."
"I wouldn't be calling me ugly..." Pintel began, reaching into his boot, where no doubt he kept a knife.
"Enough!" Hector stepped between the men. "Ragetti, go sit and read your Bible. And Pintel, go sit and... contemplate whatever it is that you contemplate."
Jack raised a hand to get their attention. "I have a thought," he said. "Perhaps, while we wait, I might take Murtogg and Mullroy with me in search of some food for the rest..."
"No." Hector, James, and Elizabeth spoke simultaneously. "I'll go," James volunteered. "Mullroy and Crimp, you're with me."
Elizabeth nodded approval, and Hector sat down to wait. Seeing the Fountain had made him thirsty but he didn't want to risk drinking up their remaining water until they had a sure source to replace it. "Are all the apples gone?" he asked.
"There are sure to be oranges," Ragetti told him.
"Like you'd know. Why're you always talking about things you don't actually know about? 'It's a cephalopod,'" taunted Pintel, waving his fingers about like tentacles.
"At least I use my brain." Ragetti hit the side of his own head, knocking his wooden eye loose. True to his word, Hector had bought him a new one after the one that had served as his piece of eight had burned, but that wasn't what Hector was looking at now.
He was staring into a real eye.
"Ragetti," he said hoarsely. "Your eye." Hector's hand rose to point at his own.
Ragetti's hand shook as he touched it and blinked. "My eye!"
"So the Water of Life heals, too," murmured Elizabeth.
"Why isn't my hair grown back, then?" Pintel complained, rubbing his head.
Hector sighed. "How old were you when you first began to lose it?"
"He was balding when I first knew him," said Sparrow unhelpfully.
"Twenty?" Pintel looked at Ragetti.
"How should I know?" Ragetti was moving his hands, bringing each in turn close to his face, then stretching out his arms again. "You must have been thirty when I met you."
"What are you doing?" Elizabeth asked Ragetti.
"I can see properly again, with perspective and all," said Ragetti.
As usual, Hector wondered how on earth an illiterate pirate had acquired such a vocabulary, and the ability to use it mostly accurately. Other evidence suggested the man was not clever at all. Baffling. He scowled. Pintel had never answered the question, either, but Hector explained his line of thought nonetheless.
"If the water from the Fountain of Youth restores a certain number of years, then presumably you would return to the physical state you were in at that age," he told Pintel. "If you had no hair at thirty, and that is the age the water brought you to, then you still would be bald."
"That makes sense." Elizabeth nodded.
Jack merely looked bored. "The real question is still whether more of the water youthens a person to a greater extent, or if contrariwise it merely returns the drinker to a fixed age, whatever that might be. Is Pintel now younger than Ragetti, having drunk more?"
Elizabeth cocked her head, stepping back to see the two men at once. "I don't think so."
Murtogg and Matelot chimed agreement with her, and Hector too thought that Pintel still looked to be the older, though considerably younger than he had been.
"Have your teeth been restored as well?" Elizabeth asked.
Now, that alone would be a reason to drink from the Fountain, thought Hector, running his tongue around his and wincing when it touched the rotten one on the left. He trusted barbers less than he trusted Sparrow; eventually it would come out on its own. He watched as Pintel opened his mouth, showing off the inside. The teeth were rather dirty, but not as yellow as Hector would have expected. One even appeared to be quite shiny.
"I think this one grew back," Pintel said, pointing to it and grinning.
All the men looked quite pleased, though Elizabeth frowned. "I think I do not dare drink now," she said. "There is no guessing what the effect might be on the child."
"We'll carry the water back for you," Jack told her. He had not taken his eyes from the Fountain since he had seen Ragetti's eye. "The safety now determined, I think I should like to..."
"I feel sick," Pintel said, sitting down and rubbing his belly.
All the grins of the men quickly disappeared. Elizabeth knelt next to Pintel, gazing worriedly at him. "Does it hurt anywhere specific? Is it a pain you've never felt before, or could it be an old wound closing? How familiar is the feeling?"
Pintel held up a hand to forestall her. "It's very familiar." He squinted, rubbing his belly, then he grinned. "Wait! I know what ails me, Poppet."
"And what might that be?" Hector demanded.
"I'm hungry," whimpered Pintel. The others nodded and muttered their agreement.
"Here is what we're going to do," announced Hector, feeling a need to take charge of the situation. "We will wait for Norrington and the others to return with food. No one else will drink from the Fountain until we've observed Pintel and Ragetti..."
"I'm hungry too," Ragetti put in.
"Be silent, I'm speaking!" The pirate looked chastened, but then Hector realized that he'd said everything he had to say. Well, almost everything. "Jack," he added. "I presume there must be natives who guard this treasure. Take Murtogg and go scout."
"Why me?" demanded Jack.
Hector allowed his hopefully-soon-to-be-restored teeth to show. "Because I'm the captain," he declared.
Just at that moment, James appeared with Crimp and Mullroy. They appeared to be carrying a large dead dragon.
"What under the sun is that?" Hector took an involuntary step backward. He disguised the motion by moving toward Elizabeth.
James shrugged. "Some species of crocodile, perhaps? It attacked, us and Crimp shot it. We decided to see if it is edible. There's certainly plenty of meat on the beast, and we didn't see much other game."
"Too noisy," Jack said under his breath, just quietly enough that no one but Hector and Elizabeth could have heard. Elizabeth shot Jack a look.
"We can try it," she decided. "Jack, you and Murtogg scout. Matelot, Ragetti, and Pintel, collect such wood as you can find nearby and start a fire to cook this beast. Crimp, since you killed it, you can help figure out how to dismember it -- should it be skinned, do you think, James? Hector? Or shall we roast it in its..." she prodded the animal with her boot, "its scales?"
Jack scowled, but jammed his hat further down on his forehead and gestured to Murtogg to accompany him. They disappeared among the trees.
With only one potential ally to suborn, Jack was unlikely to pose any immediate threat to Hector. He had no Water of Life yet, and Hector doubted that Jack would try to retake the Pearl without having drunk from the Fountain, not now that they knew its effects were real.
"In its skin, I think," James was saying. "Crimp, use that little axe of yours again."
The beast had already been split down the belly and gutted, before they had brought it back. Crimp knelt beside it, his boots squelching, and held onto one clawed foot to cut off the leg at the joint. "Like this?"
"Yes, disjoint it, and then perhaps cut the trunk into sections," said Elizabeth. "Matelot," she added to the sailor who had just returned with an armful of wood, "cut a few green poles, some of them forked. We'll try spitting it and roasting it over the coals once the fire is established."
By the time Jack and Murtogg returned, the meat was well on its way to being cooked, sending out a surprisingly appetizing aroma. Elizabeth had persuaded Hector to part with a few of his apples by arguing that if the men were too hungry to wait and ate half-raw lizard meat, they might become too ill to carry heavy barrels of water back to the ship.
"Anything?" Hector asked Jack.
"No natives that I could see." But Jack's eyes were shifty, and Murtogg looked terrified.
"Did you see anything?" Hector prodded him. The incompetent fool cast a desperate look in Jack's direction, but Jack was whistling nonchalantly, pretending to be more interested in Elizabeth's breeches-clad bottom than the question at hand.
"I-I thought I saw something in the trees..." Murtogg began.
"Sea turtles," said Jack firmly. "No threat to ourselves or to the Pearl."
It had bee a mistake for Jack to mention the ship, for it made both Elizabeth and James turn their heads. "Sparrow," said Norrington quite menacingly. "If I learn that you have put the lives of any of the crew in danger..."
"Sir! You wound me," Jack objected.
"You were the one who made me drink two cups," complained Pintel. "And we all know you have a plan to strand Barbossa here and take the Black Pearl."
Hearing it spoken aloud only made Hector laugh. "Jack, if you think that I would let you leave this spot alive..."
Just then a crab crawled out of the Fountain.
"I don't believe this," Elizabeth muttered. She was very warm, and very hungry, and very tempted to run Jack through herself if Barbossa didn't do it first. "Be quiet, both of you!" she snapped, earning a wounded look from Barbossa and a disgruntled one from Jack. "No one is leading a mutiny on an empty stomach. Mullroy, you shall have the honor of the first taste."
"Why does he get the honor?" whined Pintel.
"So that if it does him the honor of making him sick, it won't be her," Ragetti whispered to him.
Jack had been slowly backing toward the rest of the men, standing guard near the fountain. "James," Elizabeth hissed, gesturing. "Do something about... that."
A sword coming out of its sheath makes a sound like no other, a rasping metallic rattle. James didn't bother to try to be quiet as he moved toward Jack and pulled out his sword.
"I think you might find it preferable to stay where you are," he said pleasantly, nodding toward the crabs now piling up by the dozens. "I believe we are to have company."
Elizabeth repressed a smile at the expression of injured innocence that Jack put on. Did he really think anyone would believe his disavowal of any plans of mutiny? Perhaps it was not technically mutiny, given Jack's claim to the captaincy, but close enough. She turned toward the crabs as they shimmered into the form of the sea-goddess.
"Calypso." Elizabeth inclined her head. Hector and James also bent their necks, and James prodded Jack until he did likewise. The six sailors looked awestruck; Pintel twisted his hands together and Murtogg seemed about to faint.
"So the Water of Life be yours, James Norrington." Calypso's voice was as rich and drawling as ever.
"Ours," James corrected, earning Elizabeth's approval. "I presume you have some purpose in coming here now, Calypso?"
"It is time for destiny to be fulfilled," she said.
"Now wait," Elizabeth broke in. "Whose destiny? And why do you need James for this? He has promised to stay with me until Will's ten years are finished." Not in quite those terms, but that had been the implication of their bargain. "You cannot take him now."
Calypso threw back her head and laughed, her tight braids bouncing. "James Norrington be not the one for me, Pirate King Turner. You may have him until your own man returns. He be the daemon, one who can walk between worlds, and carry the Water of Life with him to the other side."
"It's all right," said James to Elizabeth in an undertone. "She must want me to take the Water to Will, for him to use on Jones."
"That be your destiny," agreed Calypso.
"How long will it take, if you carry him off to the Dutchman and back? I need him here." Elizabeth glared. Jack and Hector were neither of them to be trusted; James doubtless had his own motives, but she could trust him to stand by her at need. If he were gone, she might have trouble from either of the other captains, or both.
As if she could read Elizabeth's thoughts, Calypso glared from Jack to Hector. "These men will make no trouble for you," she said. "Lucky Jack will know that there is more than one Kraken in these waters." Jack blanched. "As for you, Barbossa..."
Calypso reached for Hector's hand. He made an attempt to evade her, but her fingers locked around his wrist, tugging it up for all to see as the skin seemed to melt away, revealing the skeleton underneath.
"Him will not forget whose power brought him back from the dead. You know what will happen if you ever fail me."
Hector looked nearly as pale as the bone Calypso had exposed in his hand. "Calypso, I assure you, I have no intention of behaving dishonorably toward Captain Swann."
"None of us would, seeing that she's breeding," Pintel put in, elbowing Ragetti, who nodded.
Elizabeth stepped toward James. With so many men watching, she did not dare embrace him, but she reached out to take his hand. "Give my love to Will," she said.
"I shall." A naughty gleam flickered in the depth of James's eyes, there and gone so quickly that she was sure none of the others had seen it. Turning back to Calypso, he demanded, "How am I to transport the Water of Life from this side to the other?"
Calypso reached beneath her long hair and pulled at the chain hidden beneath it, revealing the locket she had worn since Elizabeth had first known her, which she now knew to be a twin to the one kept by Jones. "Love be powerful magic," the sea goddess crooned, opening the gold case. "You need only a few drops to give life to Davy Jones. This will keep them safe for you, though I warn you, James Norrington, do not try to take this life for yourself."
Elizabeth felt that she had to ask: "Are we to assume, then, that this water will not restore life to James or to Will?"
"Him have seen what becomes of a man who corrupts his purpose," Calypso said cryptically, pointing to James.
Elizabeth assumed that this meant either of the men might become like Davy Jones -- a creature more animal than man. "What about me?" she asked. "Is it safe for me to drink while I am with child?"
Calypso shook her head. "You have no need of this fountain," she told Elizabeth. "Your captain will wait for you these ten years if you keep your promise to him."
"I will." Loyalty did not demand chastity, not between Will and herself. "Thank you, Calypso."
The sea goddess gave her an enigmatic smile and took James's hand. A flash of light dazzled all their eyes for a moment; by the time Elizabeth could see again, the two were gone.
"I wonder how she does that," Jack muttered. "It would be a useful trick."
"Don't be thinking you have the power of a god," said Hector disdainfully. "Even your self-pride must cavil at that."
Elizabeth laughed. "Whatever else, none of us here is a god. Or goddess."
"Can we eat now?" asked Ragetti plaintively.
"And so all I must do is find Jones and give him the Water of Life?" Will held up the locket with its precious contents.
"So Calypso said." James shuddered, still not quite recovered from the transition between Florida and the deck of the Dutchman. "Presumably she will appear again once he is restored, at which time -- I hope -- she will be willing to return me to Elizabeth. Calypso threatened both Jack and Barbossa if they do anything that threatens her, you might be glad to know, but I would prefer to be there myself."
"So would I," said Will, and it was not clear to James whether he meant that he wanted James there, or to be with Elizabeth himself. Perhaps both.
"Will we be able to find the Locker without the chart?" James asked him.
"I think so," said Will uneasily. "The difficulty in finding the Locker to retrieve Jack was in finding our way to these waters. Once we had sailed off the edge of the world and reached the Locker, the problem was not how to sail away from it but how to return to the world of the living. Jack figured that out."
James had to remind himself not to snort incredulously at Will's mention of sailing off the edge of the world. While Magellan had proved that the Earth was round, he had evidently failed to imagine a sea voyage to the life beyond, let alone a compass that could be directed by will alone or a heart that could beat for a hundred years locked inside a chest. "Jones must know how to bring the Dutchman safely between this world and that one," he mused.
"We both saw what happened to Jones after he abandoned the task with which he had been charged." Will gestured to the dark water with its scattering of boats, each bearing its macabre cargo. "I don't imagine that Calypso will give me leave to depart these waters in order to ferry Jones back to the land of the living. My crew and I must remain on this side until the full ten years have passed."
If Calypso truly had all the power of the seas, James wondered whether she might be able to bring Will across for a single minute the way had brought James to Will -- just for long enough to see that Elizabeth was indeed well and glowing with her condition. But while it would have been gentlemanly to make the suggestion, James did not wish to do so. He had to admit that he liked having Will's full attention here, and Elizabeth's attention where Will could not follow. Not that James Norrington had ever possessed Elizabeth Swann's utter devotion.
"Why was it so important to you to save Jack Sparrow?" he asked sharply.
Will glanced at him, frowning. "Because it was important to Elizabeth," he said.
"Not because the pirate saved her? Or because he let the Kraken take him to spare the rest of the crew?"
There was no mirth in Will's smile. "Jack didn't let the Kraken take him. Elizabeth... persuaded him."
Elizabeth had not shared that particular bit of information with James. He stared at Will, trying to guess how far Elizabeth would have gone to secure Sparrow's cooperation and how Will must have felt when he learned of it. How well James remembered watching Elizabeth watch Jack when they had sailed together in search of the chest that held Jones's heart. If James had suspected that Elizabeth wanted Jack, then surely Will had suspected the same.
"I wonder whether we'll recognize Jones without the tentacles," he said to change the subject.
"If he still has his hat, I suppose so." Will shrugged. "How many men can there be in the Locker? Jack seemed to be alone there."
"Except for the crabs," said James. "Not Calypso's crabs, though. He told us -- Elizabeth and myself -- about it once, when he was exceptionally drunk. I don't think he knew what he was saying, however, so I don't know if he was telling the truth."
Will chuckled without real amusement. "Does he ever?"
"By accident, perhaps." James pondered the question, wondering if in fact Sparrow even cared about the distinction between truth and falsehood, or for that matter reality and illusion.
"Perhaps." Will sighed. "We had best set sail for the Locker. It may take some time to reach it, even from these waters, and I don't like the idea of Elizabeth being alone with those pirates."
"She can take care of herself, you know," said James gently, despite understanding Will's feelings well. "But I agree."
It was not easy to tell how long that cold dim voyage took, though long enough for them both to appreciate the warmth of each other's company. The Locker, when they reached it, did not look the same as when Will and the others had found Jack, or so Will said. The shore was stony, strewn with wrack and shells, and smelt of rotten fish. Gray clouds scudded overhead.
"How do we find him?" asked James.
"Jack just... appeared," said Will, frowning. His crew stood in a cluster on the deck, muttering uneasily to one another. "We'll take a longboat ashore, you and I and several of the crew in case force is necessary."
"There's a light up on that headland, Captain." Bill Turner pointed at it.
"Well spotted." Will clapped him on the shoulder. "We'll try that direction first."
Will left his father in command of the Flying Dutchman as he and James rowed out with four men. The water was unnaturally calm, not even tiny waves lapping at the shore, and the shore seemed flat and featureless despite the rocks and debris.
"This is nothing like what we found when we reached Jack," Will said, sounding troubled.
"Perhaps having Davy Jones himself in the locker has changed its nature," James suggested. "It's always spoken of as a sort of Hell for sailors, is it not? So if the Devil himself is now trapped here, it stands to reason that it may have become his own private hell."
"I don't like this," muttered one of Will's men. Considering that when James had first seen him, the man had had seaweed growing from his head and an urchin growing where his nose should have been, it was unnerving to hear such an objection.
"I prefer unnatural calm to an unnatural storm," Will said, helping to pull the longboat far up onto the rocks. "Something tossed these dead sea creatures here. These seas must not always be so still." He glanced around in frustration but there was nothing to which to tie up the boat -- no tree stump or even a large beam from a wreck. "You --" He pointed to one of the sailors. "Stay with the ship. You are not to leave until Commodore Norrington or myself returns."
"And what if ye don't come back?" asked the man plaintively. Will chose not to answer, gathering a length of rope from the bottom of the boat and heading up the faint slope toward the headland where they had seen the light.
James found himself forced to agree with the crewman who had complained that he didn't like the Locker. It wasn't just the clammy, cold air -- such a change after the heat of Florida -- but the stink of fishy carcasses and the sense of something watching them, likely something unnatural. It was absurd, he supposed, to fear for his own life or Will's, considering that they were both already dead men, but he knew that if they failed, Calypso's wrath would likely engulf Elizabeth and all the others on the Black Pearl.
"What do you make of Barbossa?" he asked Will as they walked, to distract them both from their circumstances.
"Surprisingly honest, for a pirate," replied Will. "On several occasions he could have killed Elizabeth or myself but felt it would have been a waste. And he never seemed to try very hard to rid himself of Jack, just to take his ship. Surely he knew that Jack might be rescued from that island where Barbossa marooned him twice."
"I wonder what Calypso offered him to persuade him to return from the land of the dead," James mused. "Merely the chance to sail and plunder again? To enjoy those apples he could not taste for so many years? She believed I would return for love."
"I don't suppose that was what tempted Barbossa," Will said, pointing at what appeared to be movement in the distance. "There. Could that be Jones?"
James squinted. "It might be. It looks human, more or less, though it isn't easy to tell from this far."
"Stay close," Will told the two crewmen. "Be ready."
Privately James wondered if the men would be willing to draw on their former captain; then he reconsidered and decided that they would doubtless be pleased to have a chance to settle a score with the man whose fault it was that they'd spent years as half-sea creatures.
As they drew nearer, the figure became more clearly human, until at last it proved to be Jones, as Will had thought; but a Jones far different from the blustering, resentful, bitter man that James had formerly seen. He seemed lost in his own thoughts, almost indifferent to their presence.
"Turner. Norrington. Finnegan, Penrod, Quittance," he acknowledged them before lapsing into a brooding silence, staring out over the sullen shore.
Will gestured to the others to remain silent. They waited.
It was quite some time before Jones looked at them again. "Why do you disturb me here?"
"We have come to rescue you," said Will. "If you wish to leave this place, that is."
Jones gave a joyless laugh. "Why should I leave? What else do I deserve?"
"No man is beyond redemption. You could have life again, and love. Calypso herself dispatched us to bring you back," James said.
"Calypso..." murmured Jones, longing in his voice. Then it sharpened. "She it was who sent me here to begin with."
"Did you not deserve her wrath, in some measure? You betrayed her. That does not mean she does not love you still. Women are not easy to understand, and goddesses even less so." Will spoke wryly.
"Would I be obliged to return to the Dutchman?"
"No. I have that burden for the next ten years, and James will follow me as captain. You will be free to be with Calypso," Will told him. "We have the Water of Life to restore you fully."
"To be with Calypso," repeated Jones bitterly, stroking the scraggly beard that had replaced his tentacles. "You mean, when she chooses. If she chooses. She is more fickle than the sea itself."
"She sent us for you," James pointed out again. "You must mean something to her."
"But not enough. It's in her nature -- she told me so herself. Like all women." Jones frowned at Will. "I know you. I killed you."
"And before I died, I stabbed your heart, which is how I came to command your ship. That was my wedding day." James could hear the bitterness in Will's voice.
"And you believe your bride will wait ten years? She won't. You'll have your one day on land, and you'll spend it alone."
"I will not. I trust Elizabeth. I know that she'll wait for me." Will glanced at James, who nodded, though he doubted that Will needed reassurance. If anything, Will's expression suggested that he wanted to reassure James that he believed love could be more boundless than the sea. "As for Calypso, can't you see that she's sorry for the pain she caused you? Do you think she would have sent us here if she did not love you and wish to make amends?"
Jones scowled at them both. "You carry the Water of Life, you said?"
Will pulled the locket from around his neck. Jones flinched as he recognized it. "It's right here," said Will. "All you have to do is drink it, and you can return with us to where life and love await you."
"Give that to me," said Jones gruffly. He tilted his head back, tearing open the clasp, and let the water inside spill into his mouth. A single drop splashed across his cheek, dripping onto the rocky sand.
Which tilted beneath their feet.
"What..." James started to ask, when he was flung violently to the ground. "What's happening?" he shouted.
The other crewmen had already started to run in the direction of the boat. "I think we should get out of here!" Will shouted back over the suddenly rising wind.
"What did you do to me, Turner?" roared Jones, looking more like his old self -- not the tentacles, but the fury in his eyes. The ground was cracking and splitting apart beneath them. Not ground, James realized suddenly. It was crabs, thousands of them.
"Calypso!" James realized.
Instead of her usual appearance, the goddess had taken an enormous form, still human-like, though towering over the men. Her voice when she spoke was so low in pitch that James could not make out what she was saying, yet evidently Jones could.
"I will," he said, his voice cracking.
Calypso reached down with one colossal hand and picked him up. She said something else; again James could not understand.
"What did she say?" Will called up to Jones.
"She bids you both fulfill the destiny that she foresaw," Jones shouted back. "And says that you may see her some time in the future."
"Wait a minute," cried James. "I need Calypso to take me back to Elizabeth in the living world!"
"She will arrange that," Jones translated. "Tonight after you return, at midnight, be on the deck of the Dutchman." He looked up at Calypso, extending his arms toward her face. She brought him up to her shoulder and strode into the sea. As James and Will watched, the two disappeared.
"Well," said James finally. "I hope that means she's forgiven everyone else now too."
Will nodded. "For the moment, I think she has... until someone does something stupid again."
James rolled his eyes. "There is that. Sparrow, for instance, is not exactly to be trusted when it comes to acting sensibly. For his own benefit, without question, but that does not mean sensibly."
"No. Speaking of which, I think it best that we get you back to Elizabeth as soon as possible. Let's go back to the ship."
The five of them trudged along the noisome shore to where Manray waited by the longboat, his eyes darting nervously about. "There was a quake," he said.
"I don't believe it will happen again. Is the ship all right?" Will shielded his eyes to look at the Dutchman, but she looked just as they had left her. The other men were already pushing the boat over the rocky shore to the water's edge, anxious to be away. They cast off with a minimum of speaking, just the occasional command from Will.
They were little more than halfway to the Dutchman when the first waves appeared.
"Faster," Will ordered the oarsmen, picking up a spare oar and paddling himself from the stern.
The waves grew, splashing water into the boat and soaking James along with the rest. The unnaturally lit sky had darkened, and the clouds began to swirl over the strange land that was Davy Jones's Locker. "We should make haste," James called to Will, wishing there was another paddle.
"Those clouds look like the ones that formed when Calypso decided to interrupt our battle with the East India Company," agreed Will, squinting at the sky as rain began to fall. "We must move faster!"
They rowed alongside the Flying Dutchman as the first boom sounded. James assumed it was thunder -- whatever passed for thunder in this strange otherworld -- but several crewmen cried out in fear and pointed toward the land. Looking back, he could see that the headland was glowing.
"A volcano?" he shouted to Will.
"We aren't going to stay long enough to find out, I hope." Grabbing the ropes lowered from the ship, Will climbed aboard, followed quickly by James and the others. Will was already shouting orders from the makeshift ladder to prepare the ship to sail.
"Did you find what you were looking for?" asked Bill Turner as he pulled James's arm to bring him aboard.
James tried not to flinch. It wasn't the same man who had killed him, at least, not precisely. "We won't know until we leave this place."
The wind had picked up, making it difficult for the crew to set the sails. Were they anywhere else, James knew, Will would be ordering the sails trimmed, but they were desperate now to put distance between themselves and the rubble of Davy Jones's Locker no matter the risk to the masts. They lurched violently on the waves, sliding across the now-wet deck, as the sky turned the same dull orange as the receding land.
"Calypso will let us get away," Will shouted to James. "She promised." James held his tongue on his opinion about the promises of sea-goddesses, and clutched at the nearest pin as the ship heaved.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4