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Squaring Accounts - Chapter 12

by Melusina

 

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

 

The Moon
Anxiety-Unorthodox Methods-Fear-Distraction


It was barely dawn when Elizabeth woke with the realization that she'd started her courses. After a fleeting panic, she reassured herself with the memory of the preparations she'd made the previous day. Beside her, Jack slept on, one arm thrown across her body. A few tangled elflocks had fallen in his face, and Elizabeth pushed them back, revealing his eyes, circled with a faint remnant of kohl and sunk deep in his head. In amongst the beads and trinkets in his hair, Elizabeth noticed a few glinting strands of silver. The thin morning light emphasized every line and hollow in his face. For the first time, he looked his age, and she felt a pang of protectiveness that Jack would surely have scoffed at if he'd been awake.

She reached out and covered the scar on his chest with the palm of her hand. Keep him safe, she prayed to whomever and whatever was listening, keep us all safe. In his sleep, Jack tightened his grip on her, pulling her in closer, and nuzzling against her neck. He sighed contentedly, and she closed her eyes and fell back to sleep.

When next she awoke, Jack was sitting in the far end of the cell, whistling quietly to himself. Will and Norrington were still asleep, their bodies huddled in opposite corners of their cell. Jack was fussing with something in his hands; she recognized the stub of the previous night's candle, and one of the larger splinters she'd removed from his leg. Piled beside him were the remnants of Will's shirt, and a bead from Jack's hair. Faintly, she could smell the peculiar aroma of a man's seed.

"What are you doing?"

"Making a juju." The wax had grown soft in his hands, and he molded it around the shard of black wood as he talked. "Just you going on the ship, in your current state, will weaken their magic." He made a gesture with his hands, as if he were weighing the charm. "There's a. . .balance, see, between man and woman, between the sun and the moon. They've tipped the balance to the sun, to the gods, with their sacrifice. But a woman's monthly blood -- a mother's blood -- is a different kind of magic. . .life not death. Now, if we could leave you on the Princessa, our problem would be solved." He looked up at her and grinned. "But your husband'd never speak to me again if I did that. So we need something else to slow 'em down, once you're safe on the Pearl. "

"The juju?"

"Aye. I've only ever fooled around with these, and I'm missing some of the usual ingredients, but I think I've found suitable substitutions." He held it up and contemplated it critically.

"Why, it's a little man!"

"Woman," he corrected, pressing the bead into the chest, and then shaping the wax to give the manikin a voluptuous bosom. With a few folds and crimps he fashioned the damp pieces of Will's shirt into a tiny dress. "All it lacks now is some of your blood. Take it with you, and hide it somewhere on the ship. Don't matter where, but try for a spot where it's not likely to be found."

*


Elizabeth had fretted and worried over how she was to get onto the Princessa, but in the end, it was ridiculously simple. Shortly after breakfast, more Spanish sailors came into the brig and indicated that Elizabeth was to come with them.

She touched the blood-dabbed charm in her coat pocket, and Jack waved his hand smugly, as if to say, "You see?" Then the smirk fell from his lips, and he clasped her to him tightly, whispering something faint and incoherent into her hair. When she pulled back, he was as nonchalant as ever, and under his breath, he said, "Keep an eye out for the main chance, eh?"

She was mounting the companionway when Will shouted, "Take me as well! I insist on an interview with your Captain." The guards stopped and looked at each other uncertainly. Will continued, haltingly, "I have. . .información for your Capitan. Comprende?" When they failed to unlock the cell, he slipped into French, gesturing emphatically. "Portez-moi!"

"Don't pay him--" Jack started, but then Will said Jack's name, in a forceful, warning tone, and he stopped his tongue.

The guards muttered to one another in Spanish, and then one turned back and released Will. Elizabeth felt a rush of relief, mingled with fear. She didn't need his help for the task Jack had set her, yet it was reassuring to think of Will accompanying her. But was he putting himself at risk needlessly? Confusion and shame at her own weakness made her turn her face away from Will when he ascended behind her, and they proceeded on in silence.

To Elizabeth's surprise, instead of taking them to the Pearl's great cabin, the guards loaded them onto a boat. As they rowed over to the Princessa, a gentle rain began to fall, cool and soothing after the heat of the brig, sluicing away the accumulated grime on their skin. Will tipped his head back and closed his eyes, a blissful expression on his face. Elizabeth's irritation vanished and she slipped her hand in his, taking a simple comfort from his presence. All too soon, they reached the Princessa and were being escorted to the great cabin.

*


Sparrow tipped his hat over his eyes and leaned back against the hull. James might have thought he was completely unconcerned if he hadn't seen the fierce embrace Sparrow had given Elizabeth, or the brief flicker of dread in his eyes as she and Will left the brig. James sighed and shook his head slightly; in spite of all the ways in which Will had changed, at heart he was still a gallant, foolhardy boy, thoughtlessly braving any danger for Elizabeth's sake.

Echoing his thoughts, Sparrow said, "I suppose I should've anticipated that."

"No one could accuse him of being faint-hearted," James agreed. "But it's understandable. I'd be hard pressed to allow my wife to go into that situation alone."

Sparrow strove for a conversational tone, and yet there was something malicious about the look he gave James. "I never heard; is there a Mrs. Norrington pinin' away for you back in Port Royal?"

"No." Inwardly, James winced at the curt reply, well aware that Sparrow would consider it a point scored.

"Ah, and no sweetheart nor. . .boon companion neither?"

"Not that it's any of your concern, but no, I have no lover of either sex."

"In all of Port Royal, there's none to warm your bed? Lonely town."

"Not as lonely as that island. Goats make poor company."

Sparrow gave a coarse laugh. "Selkirk apparently didn't find 'em so."

Amused in spite of himself, James smiled wryly. "Perhaps it's for the best that I was never able to catch one."

Sparrow abruptly changed the topic. "You and young Will seem to be getting along famously. . . But then, I understand you and he were friendly when he was a boy. You were the one who taught him to wobble his point all around, right?"

"Rather, I tried to drill it out of him, but he's always been inclined to let his emotions get the better of him."

Sparrow nodded sagely. "That's true. He's like his father in that regard. Doesn’t always consider his own best interests. . .Not the best judge of character, either."

All was suddenly made clear. "He's not a child, Sparrow. Besides, given your. . .arrangement with the Turners, your jealousy ill-becomes you."

"Jealous? Who's jealous? Will's free to do as he pleases, as are we all."

"Yes, I don't suppose you are ever-faithful."

Indignantly, Sparrow said, "I'm loyal. . .in my own way!"

James cocked an eyebrow in disbelief.

Sparrow tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. "We have things worked out to our satisfaction, savvy? You best keep your nose -- and other parts -- out of it."

*


When Will and Elizabeth entered the great cabin, the priest was talking quietly with de la Cruz. Remembering what Norrington had told them, Elizabeth stood as far away from the priest as she could. De la Cruz raised an eyebrow at Will's presence and smiled mordantly at Elizabeth.

De la Cruz and the priest exchanged a few more words, and then, moving with deliberate slowness, de la Cruz divested himself of his exquisitely cut black coat and draped it over the back of his chair. He then poured himself a glass of wine and loosened his cravat.

Out of the corner of her eye, Elizabeth could see Will swaying, ever so slightly, like a cat waiting to pounce. His weight was balanced on his toes, and his hand had automatically gone to his waist, reaching for the sword that he normally wore.

She knew full well that de la Cruz was baiting them, waiting until their nerves were on edge to speak -- Elizabeth's governess had often employed this trick -- but it did not lose its effect for all that Elizabeth was aware of what he was doing. De la Cruz sat at his desk, and long moments ticked by as he shuffled through some papers. She was unpleasantly aware of the scratch of her coat against her neck, and of the way her shirt clung to her sweaty back. She began to think she would go mad if he did not say something.

Will's hair was damp and curling in the heat; a trickle of sweat slowly rolled down the amber bead knotted into one lock and plopped onto the shoulder of his coat. His expression became increasingly churlish, until he opened his mouth to speak. Elizabeth cast him a warning glance and he grudgingly clenched his jaw.

De la Cruz's lips quirked maliciously. "Now that my ship is restored to her full powers, I wish to find Cortez's gold. It is my plan to send the Black Pearl on to Hispaniola with a prize crew, taking Capitan Sparrow with me, to guide me to the treasure. But first I must ensure his assistance."

There was a sinister note to de la Cruz's voice, but Elizabeth refused to be intimidated. She lifted her chin and waited for him to continue.

"Señor Turner, I am told you insisted upon accompanying your wife. What is it that you must impart to me?"

Clearly Will had no idea how to reply to this. He blinked and stammered, and finally replied, "I wanted to tell you. . .I don't want to end up like Hans. I'm willing to do what I can to get Jack to cooperate, if you'll guarantee my life -- and Elizabeth's."

"I have heard from Wickham that you are Sparrow's catamite. . ." De la Cruz stood briskly. "Perhaps it is for the best that you are here. I will ransom you and your wife to her father, if I get what I want. But please remember that you are both expendable to me. You don't have the knowledge that I seek; you are merely tools to pry that knowledge from Sparrow. Do you comprehend?"

He gestured languidly, and the priest opened a small chamber -- it must have originally been intended for the Captain's servant, but now it was full of cruel, sharp devices, things Elizabeth had no name for, which were clearly designed to torture and torment.

De la Cruz took her arm with a show of courtesy. She was too stunned by the gleaming blades and contraptions to balk, and allowed him to lead her to the center of the room. Although everything was polished and clean, there was a lingering odor of blood and urine: the smell Elizabeth associated with fear and death. Above her head there was a dark blotch on the wood, a splash of blood that had been missed when the room was cleaned.

Will followed behind, his eyes wide with fear and horror. De la Cruz turned to him and proudly said, "These are the instruments with which we divine the truth."

Will caught her eye urgently, and then grabbed de la Cruz's arm, exclaiming, "This is abominable! What manner of monsters are you to use such methods?"

De la Cruz released Elizabeth, and pivoted sharply toward Will. The priest turned as well, repeating something insistent in Spanish, and Elizabeth began desperately seeking some place to hide the charm. She heard Will fall heavily against the hull. He stood and continued ranting and de la Cruz responded in a similar tone. Again, Will lost his footing, colliding with something metal that pealed a jangling note.

There! A small crevice between the hull and a row of lockers, where the wood had begun to warp and pull away. The crack was narrow, but wide enough for the tiny doll Jack had fashioned. Shielding her actions with her body, Elizabeth slipped the juju down into the space, just as she heard the sound of sword leaving its sheath. Her heart pounding, she turned to find de la Cruz's blade at Will's chest.

"I have often wondered which would be worse; to be tortured yourself, or to watch a loved one in pain. Mark my words, Turner, if we kill her, it will not be fast." De la Cruz took a moment to compose himself. "It is amazing how much pain one can endure before death. . .This is convenient, you see, because it gives you so many opportunities to cooperate." He sighed theatrically. "But there is much that, once done, cannot be undone."

Will looked as though he might be ill. There was an ugly cut on his cheek, and blood oozed down his face. He glanced past de la Cruz to Elizabeth and, off her tiny nod, held up his hands. "My apologies. I was. . .taken aback. I assure you that we will cooperate, and that we will do everything in our power to persuade Jack to assist you."

De la Cruz sheathed his sword. "I advise you to make short work of it. Tomorrow you shall have a more thorough demonstration."

 

 

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