The Wheel of Fortune
Reversals-A Change in Fortunes-Altering the Present Course-Uncovering
Patterns and Cycles
A little distance from the situation was what the boy needed, Jack decided;
there was no telling what he might do if Norrington kept taunting him. You'd
think he wanted to die, the way he'd set into Will like that. Jack had
thought Norrington had better sense, but he supposed the Commodore had been
on the island long enough to addle his brains a bit. That much time all by
your lonesome did funny things to you, as Jack could attest.
Will hadn't wanted to leave Elizabeth alone with Norrington, but when Jack
had suggested that they should go fishing, she'd urged Will to accompany
him. Will had acquiesced, on the condition that Jack left his pistol with
Elizabeth, in case Norrington should somehow get free (this was said with a
murderous look at Norrington, who'd winced, but thought better of arguing
with Will). As they'd left, Elizabeth had whispered to Jack not to return
until they had some fish and Will was in a better temper. Not that Will was
likely to catch much, with his line dragging in the water and his gaze set
on the horizon. Jack's bucket was rapidly filling with flopping,
brightly-colored fish, while Will's sat empty and disregarded.
Just like his father, Jack thought, moody and quick to take a slight. It was
a wonder that Bill had lived as long as he had, between the barroom brawls
and the occasional duel. But his temper wasn’t the only thing he'd passed on
to his son; he'd had Will's skill with a sword as well, although for Jack's
money, Will had surpassed his father. He had a discipline Bill had lacked,
though Bill was far less averse to cheating. Jack fell to calculating the
odds of Will besting Bill in a fight, assuming such a thing were possible,
and then to remembering a tricky maneuver Bill had taught him. The sun moved
directly above them and the day grew warm.
The tenth time Will's line trembled and then, ignored, fell still again,
Jack broke the silence. "What does it matter what that stuffed-shirt thinks
of you? Or of her? Did you really think you could turn pirate and keep your
"Norrington taught me to use a sword. Did you know that?" Will flicked his
line automatically. "He said the only way to craft a weapon was to know its
uses intimately. I. . .I admired him." A pause. "He took an interest
in me," Will sneered. "I practiced for hours, to make him proud. I knew I
could never be a pirate hunter, anymore than I could marry the Governor's
daughter, but I dreamed of it anyway." Will stood and threw his rod down in
disgust. "I was never respectable."
"And now you've pulled Elizabeth down in the muck with you, is that it?"
Jack couldn't help smirking. Both Will and Norrington seemed to have
forgotten that dear Elizabeth had a mind of her own, and was perfectly
capable of finding whatever trouble she liked all on her onesies. "What
about me? Am I to blame for her fall from grace, as well?"
"There's blame enough to go around."
"Ah, I suppose Elizabeth gets a small share," Jack said mildly.
Will's fist clenched and then released. He laughed reluctantly. "She's a
wild piece, isn't she?"
Jack clapped him on the back and grinned. "Wouldn't have her any other way,
Will gave his bucket a rueful kick. "Let's head back. The fish aren't biting
"Is this really necessary?" James gestured with his head to indicate his
bound arms. "Surely they don't believe I would attack--" you, he
almost said, and then amended, "a lady."
"But I'm no longer a lady, am I?" Despite her jesting tone, she was as
white-lipped as she'd been when he'd made that ill-considered remark. Her
grim humor was a more effective reproach than Will's fury, and James flushed
with shame at his insulting and unrestrained words.
With a sigh, Elizabeth cut the rope tying James' hands. "Leave, if you like.
You have my word I won't shoot except to defend myself."
James flexed his hands and rubbed the creases on his wrists, as he
considered the best course of action. He no longer believed they would kill
him. It seemed there was even a chance they might aid him in his escape from
this godforsaken place. Could he trust them? Anything was better than the
isolation he'd endured. He leaned back against the palm tree, rubbing his
beard and turning over the morning's events in his mind. He supposed he
ought to apologize to Elizabeth, but there was nothing he could say that
wouldn't sound insincere and opportunistic.
Pride warred with propriety. Nothing he'd said was untrue. She hadn't even
bothered to deny it, damn her. Not that she could refute what James had
seen. He closed his eyes at the thought of how she'd kissed Sparrow. James
was unable to fight the series of images (each more indecent than the last)
provoked by the memory. Then his stomach growled loudly and he came to
himself, uncomfortably aware of Elizabeth's scrutiny.
"I'd offer you some mangos, but I'm afraid we've eaten them all," Elizabeth
said apologetically. "There's rum."
James shook his head in disgust. Of course they'd eaten all his mangos.
Wasn't that just like them? Bloody pirates. No respect for property. Perhaps
it was unfair of him to blame them for taking what they couldn't have known
was his, but James wasn't in the mood to make allowances.
So intent was he on his brooding that he missed Elizabeth's question the
first time. "Hmm?"
"I said, how is my father?"
Heartbroken. Lonely. Desperate for news. "I fear his health is not what it
was, Mrs. Turner. His disappointments weigh heavily on his mind." The barb
hit home, to James' satisfaction. She did have some sense of how selfish and
improper her behavior had been. "He talks of resigning his position. The
heat affects him, and he speaks of home often."
"Will you take a letter to him, when we return you to Port Royal?"
"Don't you mean 'if'? If you return me to Port Royal?"
Jack and Will returned to a determinedly pleasant Elizabeth and a clean and
shaved Commodore, dressed in Will's spare shirt and breeches. Will bristled
at this incursion, but opted to hold his tongue, and an air of forced
The conversation over dinner was stilted. Even down on his luck and
dependant upon their good will, Norrington managed to be contemptuous and
acerbic. Jack reacted predictably, needling Norrington at every opportunity,
and Elizabeth seemed hard-pressed to maintain her good cheer. Will ate in
silence, pondering the situation, and the debts he owed both Norrington and
Jack. Shortly after sunset, they tied Norrington up again (at Jack's
insistence), and bedded down to a reprise of the morning's argument.
Elizabeth didn't mention the disagreement, but merely cuddled up to Jack
suggestively. Jack rebuffed her advances with a scornful laugh. "You've got
to get yourself some new tricks. You can't promise to marry me, seeing as
how you're already married, and I've already bedded you nine ways to Sunday,
so don't be thinking to work your feminine wiles on me." Elizabeth pulled
away as if she'd been scorched. "We're pirates, love," Jack explained again.
"We don't go around saving commodores and doing good deeds."
"We owe it to him, Jack," Elizabeth repeated stubbornly. "If it weren't for
his clemency, you and Will would both be dead. We can't just leave him
"But that's exactly what I've a mind to do, darling. The way I see
it, I'm returning the favor by not killing him. He'll have to think of his
own way to get off the island. If you like, I'll leave him a case of rum to
burn. That generally does the trick."
Elizabeth turned her pleading eyes on Will, in an expression that she'd been
using to get her way for as long as Will had known her. "Will, surely you
can't mean to leave him here? Norrington was so kind to you when you were a
Will remembered, not the sparring sessions when he was a boy, but the moment
on the parapet when Norrington had recognized Will's work, and acknowledged
it. Everyone else believed that Brown had made the sword, but Norrington had
known the truth. Will sighed. "I'm sorry, Jack, but I think she's right."
A flicker of uncertainty passed across Jack's face, and was replaced by his
usual bravado. "That's what you want? To risk all our necks for a man who'd
just as soon see us dead?"
When Elizabeth spoke, her voice was low and serious. "After everything that
happened before, I would never be able to live with myself if I didn't do
whatever I could to save him. I owe him that, as do we all."
Jack flopped back with a deep breath and began grumbling on the exhale.
"Idealistic brats, the both of you, with romanticized notions of honor and
obligation. . .If I'm going to risk my ship and my crew for your damned
honor, you'd best make it worth my while, savvy?"
They'd been at
it for hours. No, forever. James was certain he'd been lying there, unable
to move, listening to the three of them. . .carry on since the dawn of time.
And he was beginning to believe that they would never stop. The laughter and
moans were bad enough, but Will apparently was incapable of spending himself
without screaming, and Elizabeth would make those high-pitched
mewling noises that made James' mouth go dry with longing. He was forcibly
reminded of how long it had been since he'd shared a bed with anyone, since
he'd had any solace but his own hand. Not that he had even that small
The voices quieted, and James willed himself towards sleep, trying to ignore
his still-hard prick. Just before he drifted off, he heard Sparrow say,
"Sweet, sweet Bess," and the sleepy affection in his voice sounded more
intimate than everything that had gone before. Irrationally, James felt like
an intruder, in spite of the involuntary nature of his eavesdropping.
Feeling lonelier than before, he surrendered to the entirely inadequate
comforts of sleep.