|shyaway (shyaway) wrote in wallflowering,|
@ 2008-03-23 16:17:00
|Entry tags:||fic: potc - pairing (jack/anamaria)|
PotC fic: Lie Beside Me (Jack/Anamaria, R, 1/1)
Title: Lie Beside Me
Disclaimer: Pirates of the Caribbean and its characters belong to Disney.
Sequel compliant?: DMC mostly, AWE not at all.
Summary: So, what happened to Anamaria? A possible scenario, stretching from CotBP to DMC.
A/N: Thank you to my lovely betas, camille_moineau and hereswith. :-) Thank you also very much to honorat for letting me use her idea of Jack teaching Anamaria to read (Black Magic). Feedback, including constructive criticism, would be much appreciated.
“Stop wriggling, Jack!”
“I’m not wriggling, I’m trying to see what you’re doing with that razor. I told you not to shave my moustache and yet, for reasons I wouldn’t presume to guess at, it feels as though you’re doing just that.”
“This razor is nowhere near your moustache. You asked me to tidy up your beard, and that’s what I’m doing. Don’t you trust me?”
“I’m letting you hold a knife against my throat.”
“Which I swear you will regret if you don’t shut up and let me get on with this.”
“Ow! Watch what you’re doing, Ana!”
“See, you were wriggling again. Keep still … and take your hand off my thigh.”
“If that’s what you want…”
“And off my knee.”
He got his wicked way eventually, as she had always meant him to. From the moment she and Gibbs looked at each other and knew they had to return their hard-won Black Pearl to her rightful captain, Anamaria had intended to hold Jack to the promises made by his pitch-dark eyes and bright wolf-smile on the night he had taken her out drinking – the night her mother had warned her that that man was bad like the devil – the night before the morning after, when she had raised her throbbing head from the tavern’s oak table to find that he had left her with no purse and no boat. (But he had paid the bill.)
It was only fair, she reasoned at Isla de Muerta, that since he had stolen her vessel, she should have his. After a few days, though, the Pearl proved sluggish, the crew guilty, and it had to be off to Port Royal to save their mad captain. If she couldn’t have his ship, she reasoned again, she would have him – when he asked in the right way.
After weeks of slapping his inquisitive hands away, she grew tired of waiting for the perfect invitation and decided to issue it herself. Tomorrow would be Midsummer’s Day – a day she always felt to be filled with possibilities. She would make her move Midsummer’s Night.
Jack – slippery, trickster Jack – upset her plans, as he always did. The Pearl took a prize that day, a ship bound from Cuba to Cadiz. The crew reaped her cargo of fruit, the profit the merchants were taking back to Spain, the captain’s stock of secco wine, and a generous quantity of rum. They dined on deck late that evening, the better to regale each other with stories of their exploits that afternoon while feasting on fresh produce and passing the spirits from hand to hand (always to the left, like port at a society dinner).
Gibbs knew so many stories, and relished an opportunity like this. Anamaria had a fighting tale or two to relate herself, and every crewmember had something to say about the part they had played in the raid. Still it was Jack who was the star, the one who shone where others only fizzled, and no one appreciated the audience more than he did.
Rings and buttons and coins all gleaming and sparkling in the lamplight, he had them laughing at his imitation of the Spanish captain’s bluster. Anamaria lounged against a cannon, sated by food and drink, and watched him, watched how he moved with that peculiar grace, how he beamed with delight at the compliments being thrown to him, the way his hair fell across his shoulders, and how his shirt gaped open to reveal bronzed skin and toned chest.
Jack ended his mimicry to general applause. He took a gulp from the bottle offered to him – she watched his adam’s apple bob – and lowering the bottle, met her eyes. He always knew when he was being admired.
The night was warm; she was relaxed. She stretched and smiled a little.
Jack gave a half-smile in return, close-lipped, eyes inquiring. He inclined his head towards his quarters and raised his eyebrows.
His unaccustomed artlessness drew her to her feet. She swayed a little, intoxicated by heady alcohol and him, and grabbed the mainmast for support. Meeting her on its aft side, he clasped her hand; she felt the same tingling heat as when she first looked into his face. His fingers nudged hers apart and, their fingers interlaced, she stroked the veins on the back of his hand.
The crew had noticed their departure. Whoops and catcalls were being flung their way. Good-naturedly, Anamaria retaliated with a two-fingered salute. Jack just waved at them dismissively and drew her to his cabin, and there she was a night sooner than she had planned.
After bolting the door, he turned to her, glowing with expectation - she seized the facings of his coat and pulled him in for a kiss. Palms braced against the bulkhead, he kissed back, fervent and mango-sweet. She slumped back against the wall, with Jack pressing himself closer to her, his taut thigh between her legs, as she wrapped her arms around his neck and her skin rubbed against his rough hair.
Breathless, they broke apart. She laughed, he grinned, and they fell to.
He tugged her shirt free of her belt and ran his hands under it up her body; he cupped her breasts and face, she kissed his neck and pulled his shirt further open. His bejewelled hand slipped between her legs and teased her through the cloth – she arched her back and moaned and hastened to unfasten first her breeches, then his, enjoying how he gasped and his eyes unfocused when she rubbed against his swell, and then his groan when she caressed his length.
He withdrew his tantalising fingers. She took hold of his shoulders and wrapped her legs around him as he steadied her. Jack paused – face very close to hers, eyes blacker than black with desire – Anamaria’s fist curled around his sword-belt in anticipation; and he thrust himself into her.
She heard her body hitting the panelling, Jack’s beads rattling, them both panting, and then her own cry followed by feeling him shudder.
Her feet touched the floor again. Weak-kneed as she was, they barely supported her; she continued to lean on the bulkhead and hold onto Jack while they caught their breath. Smiling and well-satisfied, he brushed her hair out of her face with fingers that bore her scent.
“Drink?” he asked, surprising her a little, since she had heard that he tended to evict his lovers once he had had them. She nodded. Buttoning himself up, he surveyed the wine rack behind him, selected a bottle, and moved down the steps into the great cabin. “Been saving this for a special occasion,” he said over his shoulder as he divested himself of his coat and hat. In fact, it was the bottle of cava she had seen him take from the Spanish ship that very afternoon. (But it was still a nice thing to say.) She shook her head and followed, rearranging her own clothes.
Jack lit the candles and poured the wine, and they sat at his table as they did when discussing ship’s business or tactical manoeuvres. She would argue for the direct approach, favouring a warning shot and a demand for immediate surrender, while Jack preferred the subterfuge of false colours and pretending to be in distress; tricks that were hard to bring off in a vessel as recognisable as the Pearl. Anamaria was always relieved when he agreed to flex the ship’s muscle and reputation.
She sipped her wine and allowed that it was delicious. “Where did you get it?” she added archly.
“Wine merchant on Dominica.” He gave her a roguish look through his eyelashes, perceiving her scepticism. They both laughed and the conversation moved back to their takings that day. Reaching over the map of Haiti for the bottle, she refilled her glass. Jack peeled an orange, the citrus cutting through the fug of candle smoke, and leaned over to slide a segment into her mouth. The mischief was tugging at his lips as well as sparkling in his eyes now; sparks that kindled her too. As he fed her the sweet juicy fruit her tongue flickered out meet his fingertips. These games, she thought, she would want to play for quite some time.
“What are you doing?” she asked one August morning when she found him sitting, unusually quiet, by the forecastle, scratching at the bulkhead with a knife.
“Decorating.” He puffed away the sawdust so she could see his handiwork.
“It’s your sparrow.” Carved into the wood was a representation of his signature tattoo.
“Aye. I’ve got one of her,” Jack pulled his collar aside to reveal his tattoo of the Pearl; unnecessarily, as Anamaria was by now intimately familiar with it, “so it’s only fitting she has one of me.”
She was silent, contemplating this new vagary. Soon after they had left Isla de Muerta, the Pearl had begun moving as if she were waterlogged. Finding no physical fault, Marty eventually suggested that the crew were slacking off because they were feeling ashamed of themselves. Superstitious Gibbs muttered that it was more than that, but Anamaria, mindful that Jack had lost her the Interceptor as well as the Jolly Mon, snapped that they were talking bilge-water and to prove her point, grabbed the wheel, determined the ship would respond. Gibbs and Marty looked on wide-eyed as it sprang back and bashed her hand, hard.
After a few more incidents like that – cannon breaking free of their restraint ropes, things going missing and reappearing in the unoccupied captain’s cabin, Cotton’s parrot embarking on a fearful, incoherent squawking that lasted until it was out of breath – she had to admit defeat and agree to go to Jack’s rescue. It was not really a surprise when, the moment she set a course for Port Royal, the Pearl’s resistance to her steering ceased; nor was it surprising that when Jack alighted on deck and took the helm, the ship became as sensitive and swift as the finest racehorse. Or, Anamaria thought, watching Jack stroke the wheel, as a new bride.
That suspicion was confirmed a few days later when she happened upon him holding an animated conversation with the figurehead. She had been known to talk to boats herself – she had so named the Jolly Mon because it had such a cheery disposition – but not like that. Not so … intimately.
He was touching the ship with that affection now, as he put the finishing touches to his carving, while singing under his breath (the one about blotting out the moon, not the drinking song he had plagued them with for months). “Well, darling, what do you think?”
So caught up was Anamaria in her reverie that it took her a moment to realise that Jack was speaking to her and not to the Pearl. “The carving?” She studied it for a while. That inking of his always gave her an odd feeling inside. Whether she saw it when his sleeve fell back when he was hauling on ropes by day or when his bare arm was sliding against her skin by night, it always made her stomach give a little lurch, like a pleasant seasickness, and she felt she wanted to dive overboard and swim alongside like a mermaid, one of Poseidon’s daughters, part of the bobbing blue waves, free; or climb up to the crow’s nest at midnight and pluck the stars. At times Jack himself gave her that feeling just by looking at her. (It was one of the reasons she had gone to the tavern with him that first night; also why she had forgiven him for stealing her boat.) The carving was producing the same effect. She found she couldn’t put this into words; nor did she really want him to know.
“It’s like you,” she said eventually.
He looked absurdly pleased. Of course, for Jack, something being like him was the highest compliment it could be paid.
“You’re daft,” she added.
That only ever made him laugh. He would provoke her into a rage, then sidestep the invective and missiles she hurled at him, like a matador (her mother, who had spent years on a Spanish plantation, had told her of bullfights), and enjoy smoothing her hackles again. Foolish. He could get himself gored that way. But not yet, not by her, not while she took so much pleasure in making up with him.
Sometimes her patience was sorely tested.
“That must be a good book.” He had invited her to his cabin that night; why was he lying next to her reading that damn book as if his life depended on it?
“I said, it must be a good book.”
“What’s it about?”
Briefly tearing himself away, he looked at her as if surprised to see her there, then back at the page. “Fishing.”
“And that’s what you’re so fascinated with? Come on, what is it about really?” Pressing herself closer to him, she tried to peek over his shoulder; teasingly, he pulled the volume away and smiled at her.
“All right. It’s about me. It’s a collection of the occasionally heroic and unfailingly marvellous adventures of the notorious pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow.”
“You’re reading stories about yourself.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t you already know the endings?”
“Not at all. I’m learning a lot. For instance, I never knew I was Egyptian.”
She sighed, exasperated; but having gained his attention, she rubbed her foot along his calf. “Read me some.”
Predictably, the request delighted him. He wrapped an arm around her companionably, and began. “Once upon a time, there was a pirate named Jack. He was the best pirate in the Caribbean, where he spent his days on a beautiful ship with a brave piratess called Anamaria –”
“It does not say that.”
“No. But wouldn’t you be pleased if it did?”
“Not as pleased as you are with your stories.”
The book was dropped; he gave her other reasons to be pleased. Wherever his thoughts had been, they came then back to bed with her.
But they kept drifting away again.
Anamaria wondered at first if he were already bored with her. The newest crewmember was always his best friend; his passion for a whore lasted just as long as it took him to discover all her tricks; the most exotic fruit was ever the sweetest. Had she lost her lustre in his eyes already?
It wasn’t her, she soon decided. He was becoming distant with everyone. The others put it down to his usual capriciousness; they were never confined in a bed with him while he stared unseeing at the bulkhead, and when asked what he was thinking, first started at the sound of her voice, then, with a bright, patently false smile, said he was thinking about her.
He was always reading these days. For a pirate he was bookish and for some months he had been trying to pass this inclination on to Anamaria, by means of teaching her to read, but this was different. He flipped through these volumes tensely, biting his lip, furrowing his brow, and he kept them under lock and key (unlike the book she had chanced on him in bed with once, before this began; that one he had just sheepishly shoved under the covers, where she had found it later. Very educational it was too. Nice pictures). Most of the crew were even poorer readers than she was and paid no attention to the captain’s odd habit. Gibbs, though he had noticed the change in Jack’s manner, regarded it as just one of his moon-numerous phases.
Questioning Jack did as much good as interrogating her reflection. He diverted her questions with an airy wave of his hand, bouncing them back on her, and revealing nothing of himself.
When in port, he took to slipping off by himself, and not to sell loot or to visit lovers; as best as Anamaria could discover, he was going to see wise women and scholars and the like. Was he sick? She had seen no sign of it.
Most disquieting of all was observing him scan the horizon not with rapture, but anxiety. It would be easier to see bees shun flowers or a child refuse mother’s milk than that. And still he said it was nothing.
She must know, had to.
He would tell her nothing, and she never could discover the addresses of the hole-in-the-corner sages he was trawling. The books, though, they could tell no lies. Jack kept them locked in his escritoire, an object that Anamaria still marvelled at and Jack was fond of, as he was of all the elaborately carved furniture in his quarters. He also liked to hide things; at the best of times he was touchy about other people going through his possessions.
So she had to wait. The desk looked flimsy enough, she could get it open easily. The problem would be having the time to examine the books before Jack realised he had been burgled; even more so because she still read so slowly.
The same morning she made up her mind to this, the Pearl’s crew sighted their first prey in weeks: a Dutch merchantman. They gave chase. The merchantman was slow and easily caught, but with a sting in the tail – she was heavily-enough gunned to make her crew stubborn. The Pearl outfought her, but not before taking damage to the mainmast’s yardarm. After the battle and the looting, Anamaria was kept busy supervising repairs. It was a relief, in a way, to see Jack wince over the shattered wood. Of late he had been distant even with the ship.
They set course for a relatively nearby town, where they could sell their captured cargo to someone Jack called a pleasantly broad-minded merchant and Anamaria called a bastard; usually she argued against doing business with him at all, and last time had made her feelings known by getting into a fight with his thugs, but today, it mattered only that it would get Jack off the ship for a while.
He left her on the Pearl with barely a gibe about what had happened before, and took some of the newest men with him instead – the people least likely to ask questions should he dismiss them to go somewhere alone. Anamaria thought he would be gone a good four or five hours.
Jack went to make his sale. Most of the crew went ashore to the taverns and brothels. Gibbs was having one of his recurrent attacks of piety and stayed aboard, quoting scripture at the other crewman left to guard the ship. Anamaria waited until Jack was out of sight and then went to his cabin.
The bureau stood, as it always did, on the right of the room, topped by a globe. It was one of a pair – Jack kept the other one, which showed the heavens, in one of the side rooms. Out of habit she spun the globe, her fingers lingering over Jamaica, Singapore, the African land where her mother’s family came from. She and Jack had spent long indolent evenings poring over that globe, planning where they would go in the seasons to come, and Jack bragging more than a little about where he had already been.
She set it aside. The cupboard door was locked, of course, and she was going to waste no time searching for the key. She took her pistol and blew the lock off. If that didn’t work, she would use a cannonball.
No need. The door swung open. She pulled out the books. Most of them were old, she could tell that. Some were expensively bound, some were falling apart. She opened the uppermost one.
There was not a single word she recognised. Page after page she scanned, finding familiar letters grouped together in ways she couldn’t begin to understand. Some of the sounds they made were right, but none of them fit together.
She showed it to Gibbs, who could read all of the Bible and some of the almanac. He looked it over, shook his head, tried sounding out some of the words. “It sounds like the liturgy does.”
“Jack’s reading a prayer book?”
“It’s not the liturgy itself. I think it’s Latin, though. Did you say this was the captain’s? I didn’t know he read Latin.”
Anamaria recalled that she had seen Jack consulting another book while reading this one. Maybe it was a lexicon. She went back to the great cabin.
The Latin dictionary was there in the pile of books. With its help she picked out over and over again the words navis and mare – ship and sea – and at the page at which it had fallen open, clavis. Key.
Not much the wiser, she tried for a while to piece the sentences together. The book yielded nothing else, so she turned to the others. They all seemed to be in different languages. One, she decided, was Spanish, but although that was her first spoken language, she could not read it. There was another in a language she couldn’t identify and then – finally – one in English. It seemed to be a book of fairy tales. Laboriously she deciphered each one, and with every leaf she turned she came closer to tearing her hair, or the pages. One of them was indeed about Jack, a story that she had heard many times, the one about the tribe who made him their chief. The others were about mermaids, early explorers, sea gods, other pirates and their sticky ends – all were tales of the Caribbean and none provided her with any clues. At her wits’ end after struggling through nearly a dozen, she hurled the book across the room, almost hitting Jack smack on the nose as he closed the door.
“What was that for?” he said, aggrieved, stooping to pick up the fallen volume. He frowned at it.
“You were quick,” was all she could think to say.
“I’ve been gone for two hours. We got our fair price. It looks like you were the one who was quick. What are you doing?”
“What am I –” She grabbed a book, shook it. “What is this about, Jack? What’s got into you lately?”
“Got into me? I think you –”
“Tell me what the matter is!”
Jack was quiet. He sighed. He looked at the book in his hand; some of the pages had come loose in its flight. “You didn’t get to the one about Davy Jones, then?”
“That’s not funny,” she said wearily.
“No, it’s not,” he agreed, and started to hang up his coat and hat.
“What? What do you mean?”
He came to the table and sat by her. “Did you read this story about Davy Jones?”
“No, I –”
“But you’ve heard of him.”
“I’ve heard the stories. Every sailor has.” Terrible, harrowing ones.
“And you’ll have heard other tales – the sort where the poor fool trades his first-born for a lettuce or some such?”
“You’re speaking in riddles, Jack.” She was on her guard now, sensing that in fact, this story would better remain untold.
“Aye,” he said, getting to his feet and starting to pace the room, “that’s how a yarn like this usually is told. Throw seven conch shells into the sea, what will grow? Get the answer right, you’ll meet the old man of the sea himself, and if you’re lucky he’ll grant your wish. If you’re luckier he’ll leave you alone and you never will dance in the pale moonlight. Although,” he mused, caressing one of the wooden nereids, “that would have been worse, after all…”
“What do you mean?”
His attention snapped back to her. “The market rate of the human soul. Some would say it has dropped in recent years. They’re going cheap, as it were. I thought I’d got a good price, but as the time grows nearer I find myself thinking I should have driven a harder bargain.”
“I know. I’m not making sense. But if I say again – Davy Jones – what do you make of that?”
Souls, Davy Jones – she had heard the stories of half-drowned sailors condemned to sail the ship of the damned, forever or for centuries, the accounts differed. But Jack was not drowning and he crewed no ship but his own.
Seeing the half-formed comprehension in her eyes, he offered, “He does other deals beside the standard save-you-from-drowning-in-exchange-for-a-h
“Oh, no. No, you didn’t.”
“’Fraid so.” He was arranging the books into a neat pile.
“Are you telling me – seriously – that you sold your soul to Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman is coming after you? After this ship?”
He picked up one of the bottles standing on his desk, held it up to the late afternoon light, and drank. Sombrely he contemplated the mouth of the bottle. “That’s it.”
“And you never said – you – what were you going to do?”
“Well.” He placed the bottle, very deliberately, back on the table, and didn’t continue.
“You don’t even know? You don’t have a plan?”
“What would you do?”
“I wouldn’t get into this mess!” She flung her chair back with a force that sent the books flying. “I would – I’m going to – tell the crew you’re not fit for command! You’re –”
“Oh, here we go, didn’t take long for –”
“– crazy, you’re mad if you thought you would get through this without –”
He seized her flailing fists. “Yes. Mad Captain Jack Sparrow. Didn’t anyone warn you about that before you signed on?”
Shaking him off, she snapped, “I didn’t sign anything. You’re the one who makes the lunatic deals.”
“You didn’t sign the ship’s articles? We ought to rectify that.”
“Don’t change the subject! You’re putting us all in danger and you wouldn’t even tell us.”
“You’re in danger every day, out here on the ocean wave, pursued by the Royal Navy’s finest, at the mercy of –”
“Look, I made the deal, not you. This doesn’t affect you.”
“So when Jones has come and collected his debt, can I have the Pearl?”
He glared. “He’s not going to collect it.”
“Which means it will come to a fight, which means it does affect us. We can’t help if you keep us in the dark – you’ve got to tell the cr –”
The word burst from him with real alarm. Accustomed as she was to his liking for furtiveness, Anamaria was still surprised by his vehemence.
Composure recovered, he answered, “A minute ago you were ready to pitch me overboard. Think they would take the news any better?”
“They’ll be worried, some will be angry, but – there’s not the profit in piracy there used to be, you know that. Most of them are here because they want to sail with you. If you tell them the truth and ask for their help, they’ll see it as being part of your adventure.” He made no answer. “It would be fair, Jack.”
“Yes,” he said, “that’s worked so well in the past.”
Silence ensued. Jack tried to fit the loose pages back into place. Anamaria scrutinised him. Eventually she said, “You still expect a knife in your back, don’t you?”
He ceased leafing through the book, but said nothing.
“Do you think I’m going to stab you in the back?”
“Oh no. You would run me through, face to face.” Momentarily he fixed her with a dark stare, then leaned on his elbow and exhaled tiredly as he went back to turning over the pages. Anamaria, too, was suddenly exhausted.
“Why did you do it?” she asked after it seemed they had been sitting without speaking for hours.
He sighed again, and leaning back in his chair, gazed around the room. “He raised the Pearl for me.”
“She was wrecked, I wanted her, Jones could help.”
The Pearl. Jack’s pride and joy. She thought of the carvings, the blissful reunion, how he had insisted that they take down the (expensive) new sails and painstakingly repair and replace the old ones. “She likes them,” he said seriously when someone complained about the extra work. Eccentric, yes – daft Jack – but seeing his face when he took the wheel in the mornings – hearing the satisfaction in his voice the first time they took a ship and he could announce himself as Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl – she couldn’t hold it against him.
She was becoming maudlin. That would not do. It would not help. “What about your compass?” she asked.
“What about it?” he returned, looking wary.
“It shows the holder the way to what they want, so –”
“How do you know that?”
“– so if you want a way to defeat Davy Jones… There are a lot of stories told about you, Jack. Some of them are even true. Gibbs has met the voodoo woman, remember.”
“Joshamee does like chronicling my life,” he murmured. “All right, let’s see what the oracle has to offer.” With a habitual flourish, he opened his compass and showed it to her. They watched it spin aimlessly.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing. It shows me the way to what I want most, and…” He gestured around the room. “QED.”
“Never mind. The point is, the compass won’t help me with this. Believe me, I’ve tried.” He snapped it shut, more despondent than she had ever seen him before.
“Time to come up with a new plan,” she said with unaccustomed gentleness.
“That’s what these are for,” he replied, indicating the books.
“Have you found anything?”
His shoulders were slumped; the dark circles under his eyes were not kohl. She got up, went to him, and enfolded him in her arms. He flinched; but she held on, resting her cheek on the crown of his head. After a while he took her hand and pressed it over his tattoo of the Black Pearl, over his heart. She felt it beating, quick and light like a bird’s.
He was different that night. Always before he had been fireworks and Indian rope tricks. This time he was autumn breezes, waves breaking on a beach at dawn. Afterwards, when she put her head on his shoulder, he neither tensed nor pulled away. Instead he sought her hand in the warm safe tangle of sheets and limbs, and confessed secrets to the darkness.
“It took some persuading,” he said. “He was very clear that he wasn’t Saint Nicholas. And even after he agreed to raise the Pearl he was sure to drive a hard bargain for her, so no one thought he was getting soft. First he said I could have her for five years. I said that was an insultingly low offer for my immortal soul and suggested twenty-five. He said I would die before that … well, that was what I was thinking. We haggled. In the end we settled on thirteen years.
“Then he had me flogged.” Jack shifted against the pillows as if the wounds still hurt. “That wasn’t part of the agreement. He said it was to make me remember my promise, because he certainly would. They released me from the grating, and Jones did keep his word. Raised me the Pearl, wished me joy of her, let us go on our way. I was still bleeding when I came aboard.” His voice sharpened. “As I was when I walked the plank two years later.”
He told no more. They lay quiet for some moments before Anamaria reached over to smooth his hair. Feeling him turn his face towards her, she spread her hand across his cheek. Their lips just touched. A chaste kiss; a touch new in her experience of him.
Some unknown time later, she asked, “Was it worth it?”
“I haven’t had what I paid for,” he said bitterly.
Neither slept much that night.
In the morning the sky was overcast and the sea grey. Anamaria was woken by Jack stirring. He got out of bed without looking at her. She rose with a heavy heart and continued to brood while they dressed. He was chagrined by the admissions he had made, she could tell, but there were things that needed to be said, nevertheless.
“I still think you should tell the crew,” she said as mildly as she could while she plaited her hair.
“I still think I’m not going to,” Jack said to the floor, pulling on his boots.
“If you don’t tell them,” Anamaria continued, still in the gentlest tone she could muster, “and you keep on acting the way you have been – being distant with the crew, not keeping up with supplies – not going where the fat ships are, never explaining why … then make no mistake, you will find yourself facing a mutiny.”
He stiffened slightly – or perhaps just arched his back to wrap his sash around his waist.
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Loud and clear.” He buckled his belt and retrieved his pistol from under his pillow.
“Jack – you’ve got to tell them.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” he said with a flare of irritation.
“I didn’t mean it as – at least tell Gibbs. He’ll want to help you.”
“No. No. No. And you’re not to, either,” he added, stabbing in her direction with a finger. It seemed a long time since those fingers had stroked her so tenderly the night before.
Jack took his sword-belt from beneath the bed and went out into the great cabin for his coat. Anamaria followed.
“Well, if you won’t tell the crew, what are you going to do?”
“There are ways and means, my dear girl, ways and means.” He donned his hat at an excessively jaunty angle.
“Like what? Not what you did in the spring – get some poor unsuspecting lad to do your dirty work for you…”
“It worked last time. Although I would hardly call young Mr Turner unsuspecting.”
“Anyway, something straightforward this time.”
“There is always one straightforward way, darling.” And he touched the omnipresent pistol tucked into his belt.
“You’re not seriously thinking of doing that, are you?” she asked in alarm.
“What – oh, no, I mean we can always fight our way out, if plots and plans aren’t to your discerning taste.”
“No one’s ever fought the Dutchman and lived to tell the tale!”
“They say that about this ship.”
Anamaria suspected that those rumours had begun while Barbossa was in command. She said, “If Davy Jones can raise the Pearl, he can send her the other way.”
“Quite possibly. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to be left alone to pursue my ‘dirty work’.” He strode away to the window, where, with his back to her, he started scanning one of his books again. So she thought until she realised he was watching her in the glass.
He remained fractious – embarrassed, she supposed – and now was tenser than ever. Far from his confession halving the problem, his anxiety seemed to have doubled. Whenever he came across her in conversation with Gibbs, she saw distrust in his eyes – no matter how many times she assured him she wouldn’t tell anyone before he wanted her to, she wouldn’t turn the crew against him – and it stung.
Time passed. He continued his clandestine investigations. When she let him alone, he was worried and woebegone; yet he would snap when she asked whether he had made progress. Then he would wince – more and more begrudgingly as the months went on – and kiss her to make it up. She hated those kisses.
“Don’t treat me like a nagging wife!” she snapped back one day, turning her face aside.
“Don’t act like one,” he answered coolly. And left the room, taking the sun as he went. Once she would have run after him, shouted at him, fought with him. Not now. Not any more.
She still shared his cabin, although he rarely touched her now. His sardonic expression when he took hold of his pistol had pinned itself in her mind, and she wanted to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid … and Jack Sparrow’s bed was a hard habit to break, no matter how infrequent his caresses had become, how polite his response to her kisses.
There came a night in December when he lay awake staring at the ceiling, and listening to the creak of the wheel above, and she lay awake listening to him listen while her loins ached – she reached out to touch his chest, trace small circles below his sternum… It used to take no more kindling than that; she would not have been so tentative then.
He turned over. She stared at his scarred shoulder-blade.
“We’re going to Turkey,” he announced a few mornings later. They were breakfasting à deux in his cabin. Jack was reading a newspaper he had found on the last ship they raided. For all the world they looked like a leisured married couple in their dining room.
Anamaria toyed with her biscuit and kept her eyes on the polished surface of the table. After a pause she said, “What’s in Turkey?”
“Something we need.”
“Something you need.” She looked up covertly and realised that he, likewise, was watching her while pretending to read the paper.
Wearily she said, “Going all that way without telling the crew why is a mistake.”
Jack turned a page.
“They’ve started to talk, Jack.”
“And are you talking with them?”
“I’m not going to Turkey.”
“We are going, and once we do, all this will be –”
“I’m not going.”
As he took her meaning the now too-familiar haunted look flickered in his eyes (but hadn’t his eyes always been mournful? She could hardly tell whether it was that or their glitter of mischief and lechery she had first loved). Her heart ached; she wanted to take it back.
“All right. We’ll be docking at Tortuga to take on supplies. I suppose that’s where you want to go.”
“Is that all you’ve got to say?”
“If you want to leave, I’m not stopping you. I’ll not have anyone here against her will.”
“Jack…” she sighed. Anger, dulled in the past months, blazed again. “You know why I’m leaving and you know what you can do to change things. I would help if you would let me. We all would, you’ve got a good crew and you’re doing them wrong by not letting them know what they’re up against.”
Emotions, elusive and unreadable as mist, scudded across his face. Finally his features hardened into granite. “Why would I tell them anything,” he said, his voice poisonous, “when telling you has led to this?”
She stabbed her biscuit against the plate, breaking it into crumbs.
“Are you sure about this? I won’t deny the captain’s not been himself lately, but you know he has his moods and it always blows over…”
Anamaria demurred. Gibbs’ look told her he was thinking, “Women,” but she hugged him anyway. He patted her back and told her not to whittle when she said, “Look after him, Josh.”
They were at Tortuga docks and she was about to disembark for the last time. She had little baggage. Her weapons, a couple of shirts, a clean pair of breeches. Her booty from the last three months (not much of that) - the rest she had deposited with her mother. The ledger Jack had been teaching her to write in.
She had said goodbye to her friends, all except one – well, two. She laid a hand softly on the Pearl’s rail, felt the ship’s gentle rocking. I could have sailed you forever, she thought, if not for – but who knows your captain’s lunacy better than you? And still you wanted us to deliver him from the hangman so you could have your mad Captain Jack Sparrow. Perhaps he isn’t the only one dicing with the devil to have his heart’s desire…
Jack had been avoiding her all day and was currently occupied in taking on new crewmembers. Some of the recruits struck her as crooks and undesirables, and not people she would have allowed on board. She lingered, puzzling over Jack’s execrable taste, until he glanced over and caught her eye. Challenging her to object. Daring her. Obstinate, contrary Jack –
She walked away. Down the gangplank. It wasn’t her problem any more. She wasn’t going to spend the rest of her life worrying about her daft ex-captain.
Anamaria got her boat. A nice little second-hand sloop that she painted red and called Magda. Nothing fancy, nothing powerful, only a fishing-boat; but all hers and bearing no curse, harbouring no terrible secret; just perfect for fishing from.
The fishermen who knew her from before her pirating days welcomed her back, and the newer ones got to respect her quickly enough. The one who tied his boat next to hers was handsome, broad-shouldered, and not in the least likely to steal Magda, she decided over drinks at their local tavern.
It took her some time to become used to sleeping on land again. Eventually she came to relish stretching out in a tranquil bed in a sun-suffused room, in her own white-washed cottage near the docks. She could still hear the lullabies and the roars of the sea, and every day she sailed; under her own orders, which would never get her smashed on reefs or have her making deals with the devil. She felt closer to the sea, too, sailing her own little boat, more at one with the waves and the wind when orders were not filtered through underlings – she just thought what she wanted to do, and did it, as if Magda were an extension of herself. Those flights of fancy stopped after she remembered Jack had once said the same thing about having the right ship and the right crew.
She did see him again, one evening a few months after her return to Tortuga, when she was on her way to the fishermen’s tavern. He was hurrying towards the Faithful Bride, grim-faced, astonishingly hatless, and not at all the picture of a man eager for shore leave.
“Not turned into a fish yet, then?”
Unamused, he glared at her, and Gibbs who was with him winced, but the scowl held no malice and they stopped to talk to her. Gibbs seemed to have heard the sorry tale of Jack and the Flying Dutchman now. When Anamaria asked what their plan was, he brightly inquired what she had been up to. Dear old Joshamee, it was good to see his grizzled face.
Jack was less forthcoming and wouldn’t quite look her in the eye; he focused alternately on her ear and on her lips. Yet, at her approach he had given the most real smile she had seen from him in a very long time, and when she touched his sleeve – well, Gibbs had clapped her on the arm, why shouldn’t she touch Jack – he didn’t flinch as he had done in her latter days on the Pearl.
“It’s almost over,” he said when she asked about Davy Jones again.
“We’re here to recruit more men,” Gibbs put in with an anxious glance at Jack, “so we should…”
“Well,” she said hesitantly, already regretting it, “if you’re short-handed…” Jack looked stricken. “I could…”
Gibbs sucked in his breath through his teeth. Jack’s mouth twitched as if he were in pain. He looked to Gibbs, at the ground, back at Anamaria, finally meeting her eyes – and minutely shook his head.
“No.” He touched her face, unusually affectionate. She was vaguely aware of Gibbs shuffling his feet in embarrassment; more strongly she was remembering, reliving, the intoxication that had first pulled her into Jack’s orbit. “I would like to have you along again,” he said, low and gentle, “but this time … not this time.”
She nodded, accepting. He half-smiled sadly and made an uncertain movement towards her, leaning in, hesitating, then brushing the corner of her mouth with his lips. Not the playful, passionate man she remembered; but when she put her arms around his neck and kissed him fully, and he responded with a fervour almost like that of midsummer … that was more like it.
Gibbs was staring fixedly at the dusky sky. Anamaria and Jack slowly disentangled themselves.
“Are you going to tell me what you’re planning?” she asked, resting her hands on his chest.
He sighed and patted her hip. “I’ll tell you when I come back.” His eyes darted around as if he were afraid of eavesdroppers. “Tonight I have to –”
“I know.” She stepped back.
They said good-bye. Jack and Gibbs resumed their way to the Faithful Bride. The last Anamaria heard of them was Jack saying, in response to Gibbs’ whisper, “She’d kill me!”
Daft, she told herself. That part of her life was over.
Even so, she thought about it all the time she was with her new friends. She could always come back. Gibbs or Marty could tell her what was going on. There was a lot to be said for crewing a ship like the Pearl. And Jack…
She left early. She went to the Bride. If nothing else, she could catch up with her old crew.
The Faithful Bride looked, as usual, as if its patrons had been using it for cannon target practice. Windows were broken; customers were nursing black eyes as well as their drinks. Anamaria could see no one from the Pearl, so when she spotted the blonde and the redhead Jack favoured sitting in a corner, disconsolately downing rum, she went over to them.
“Everyone and his dog wants to find Jack these days!” the redhead said, banging her flagon down while the blonde sulked. “We ‘aven’t seen him. There was talk he was here, we came looking for him, and he’s already gone. Seems the Pearl left port an hour ago.”
“Already?” That wasn’t enough time to get supplies, let alone recruits. The rumours had to be wrong – she ran to the docks.
No Jack. She was starting to think she had imagined him.
“The Black Pearl?” one old-timer said when she asked him. “Aye, she was here earlier. Sparrow took on a few men and then left as if the devil was chasing him.” He looked at her closely. “Didn’t you use to sail with him?”
He knew no more, so at length, after gazing again at the brigs and the barques, she left. Probably it was for the best…
On the way home she checked on Magda. Still safe.
The next time she saw Gibbs, he was alone. She started towards him, to ask how it had all turned out, how the rest of the old crew was; but as he caught sight of her, his expression told his message more vividly than if it were written in blood, or tears. By the time he reached her side, grief was already veiling her remembrances of mimicry by lamplight, and the scent of oranges cutting through smoke and musk. She needed hear no other tale of woe.