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Squaring Accounts - Chapter 2

by Melusina


Fandom: PoTC    Rating: NC-17    Dramatis Personae: Jack, Will, Elizabeth, Norrington    Full Header


The Hermit
Introspection-Solitude-Searching-Needing Help

Six weeks; forty-two long, lonely days and nights since James had been swept off his ship in a storm and washed onto this shore, unconscious and half-drowned. He still wasn't sure exactly where he was, but he was grateful that this island had a small freshwater stream and fruit growing in abundance. There were also wild goats, but so far they had proved impossible to catch, so James was rounding out his diet with eggs filched from the nests on the cliff face. His clothes were worn to tatters, his face was obscured by a beard; almost, he could forget that he was an officer of the Royal Navy and descend into heathen savagery. But not yet.

In the absence of any of the markers of civilization, he struggled to enforce some order and routine in his life. He rose with the sun, bathed himself daily, and scheduled particular tasks to each day of the week. Monday was wash day, and after rinsing his ragged clothes in the stream, he set out to harvest the fruit that had ripened in the previous week.

As he approached the mango grove, he thought he must be hallucinating, for he could swear he heard voices from beyond the trees. Willing himself not to get his hopes up, he almost broke into a run, then remembered caution and held back. If there were people there, there was no telling who or what they were. He could be throwing himself into a far worse situation. He must take care.

Closer still, and he knew someone was there. He heard laughter and singing, the voice naggingly familiar.

He forced his steps to a painfully slow pace, and crept toward the water. And stared in confusion and dread at the sight before him.

No telling who or what, indeed! Jack Sparrow, of all the ill luck. And apparently all the insane rumors James had tried to ignore, the sordid port gossip he'd edited for Swann's benefit, the niggling voice that had told him there was no smoke without fire; all of it was true. For there was Elizabeth Turner sprawled across Sparrow's lap, dressed outlandishly in men's clothes, her hair tumbled around her shoulders and tangled with brightly colored flowers. She was singing a particularly vulgar drinking song, and her hand was in Sparrow's mouth, feeding him a morsel of fruit. His tongue licked lewdly between her fingers, and the song broke off in a gasp. James stared, spellbound, his stomach clenching at the relaxed and unconstrained quality that infused Elizabeth's every movement.

Discretion was clearly the better part of valor in this instance. He had no weapon, and there was no telling what might happen if he fell into Sparrow's hands. James turned to go back the way he had come, still unable to tear his eyes away from Sparrow's hand curving possessively around Elizabeth's full breast. When his head finally snapped around, his heart sank even further. Will Turner stood before him, his sword only inches from James' throat.

Not all the rumors were true then; gossip had it that Will had been shot to death by a Spanish soldier, but here he was, alive and well. And he was no longer the rash puppy who'd dashed off to rescue Elizabeth. This was a man grown into his full power, confident and assured. He was clothed only in his breeches and his bare chest showed the wages of a pirate's life -- a healed bullet wound below his collarbone, and several long, thin scars from sword fights. He lacked the swaggering bravado that James associated with pirates, but Jack Sparrow's influence could easily be read on Will's body. A blue-inked sea serpent wound around his upper arm, a gaudy earring dangled from his ear, and there were a few bright gewgaws braided into the damp hair that curled around his face.

They stood there a moment, assessing one another, and James saw the instant when Will recognized him, the puzzled expression turning to a bemused grin. When he smiled, he was still the boy James had known, but there was a new impertinence there, a galling insolence that the earnest blacksmith's apprentice would never have dared.

"Jack, look what I've caught while you two have been lazing about!"

James didn't move as Sparrow entered his field of vision, holding a pistol. He looked James up and down, and then grinned, his expression an eerie match for Will's. "Well, well, Commodore, this is a surprise! Fancy meeting you here."


In spite of their blustering, they seemed unsure what to do with James; in the end, they tied him to a tree, and moved down to the water to discuss the situation. He couldn't make out their words over the surf, but as the conversation became more heated, they seemed to forget that he was watching, and their unguarded movements laid the situation bare.

What they were to one another was mapped in the longitude and latitude of their bodies. Even in disagreement, they instinctively clung to each another: Elizabeth clutching Sparrow's hand to emphasize a point, Will sitting indecently close to Sparrow and holding his eye in a disconcerting way. The neck of Elizabeth's loose shirt fell open and James could not drag his eyes away from the dark purple love mark on her collarbone. He'd never thought to see Elizabeth Swann sunk to such depths. It was appalling. It was beguiling. He wondered which of them had left the mark, and was shocked at the indecent thoughts that arose in his mind.

Elizabeth and Sparrow did most of the talking; Sparrow's hands wafted through the air hypnotically, while Elizabeth's gestures had a staccato rhythm that suggested agitation and frustration. Will was curiously silent, his body taut and his eyes flicking back and forth between the other two.

James stewed quietly, becoming more irate by the second. No doubt Will was to blame for this sordid mess. Sparrow made no bones about what he was, and Elizabeth was a foolish girl whose head had been filled with romantic nonsense about pirates. But whatever her faults, she was a lady, gently bred. What kind of man dragged his wife off to a pirate ship and passed her around like a tavern doxy? Not to mention whatever there was between Will and Sparrow. They had probably exposed Elizabeth to all sorts of things never meant for a lady's eyes. In spite of everything, James had believed that Will was a decent sort -- a bit reckless, in need of guidance, but honest and upright. Clearly, he had been mistaken.

Elizabeth, her face flushed and hard, muttered something that made Sparrow scowl. Will stopped Sparrow's retort with a look, all the while stroking Elizabeth's back in a soothing gesture. James could see the tension drain out of her body as she softened into Will's touch. She offered Sparrow a conciliatory smile; he pulled her into his arms and they kissed with the same furious passion they'd used in their debate. They came apart reluctantly, laughing, and walked back to the tree line arm and arm with Will trailing behind them.

James knew he should hold his tongue, but the rage and frustration he'd been fighting for weeks, fed by this ridiculous coincidence which had placed him in the hands of those he most wanted to avoid, could no longer be constrained. As Will approached, James spat out, "My God, Turner, what are you about here? I didn't give her up for you to debauch her and make her Jack Sparrow's whore!"

The boy's impetuous temper was still there, lurking under the man's composure. Will's sword was in his hand in an instant, his face contorted with anger. "I'll thank you not to talk about my wife that way, sir."

Sparrow slipped between them and held up a finger. "No sense letting him rile you, Will. Besides, you wouldn't want to kill an unarmed man, would you?"

With visible effort, Will restrained himself and sheathed his sword. "I've changed my mind. I'm with Jack -- why should we risk our necks to save him? Let him rot here forever for all I care. He's lucky we don't put a bullet in his head and save him the trouble of starving to death."



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