|The Kingston Suspects
Author: Zeech PM
In a Port Antonio jail, Jack Sparrow and Commodore Norrington stand accused of killing a Spanish Captain. Their only hope of not hanging is to convince an admiral that their story (bounty hunters, chinese fortune tellers, phantom ships, and rum) is true.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Humor - Chapters: 6 - Words: 30,710 - Reviews: 91 - Favs: 55 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 07-07-06 - Published: 08-22-03 - id: 1488328
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: So… this fic has been stale for about, two years I think. Two or three years. I'm a little older, a little wiser, I'm already lying about my age but I rediscovered my fanfic when I saw pictures of Norrington in the 2nd movie. I enjoyed it, for the most part but I won't say anything else about it and I hope all of you reading won't let the movie influence how you see these characters in this story.
Again—sorry for the two year wait, but here is chapter six. Boy, do I feel bad. A thousand apologies!
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CHAPTER SIX: FISH AND CHIPS
Silence over took the room, and the desk between Norrington and the Admiral seemed like miles upon miles of awkward disbelief. Norrington had at least settled somewhat comfortably in his seat, as he and the Admiral had been speaking for some time now. The Admiral was quickly skimming over Jack's version of the events, just to see if the two stories matched up. He ran a withered finger over his bottom lip as he read, and after a moment or two glanced at the accused over his gold rimmed spectacles.
"And—you were still chained together."
--- --- ---
Whether or not Jack's slight miscalculation to let go of the rope seconds before Norrington had was in fact not a miscalculation at all, but actually an attempt to rip Norrington's arm out of the socket, none may ever have known. Norrington's six-foot-fall was broken by Jack's shoulders, and the commodore took enough pleasure in the yelp he earned from Jack upon accidentally jerking his arm behind his back. Jack thrashed like a fish until his chain mate rolled off of him several feet away to wheeze the last of the seawater from his lungs.
"Bastard," Norrington spat, and tried to roll back onto his belly without getting too close to Jack. The pirate pulled himself up on both elbows and shook his head to clear the fog. He coughed, twice, and raised his free hand to give the other man a reason to call him a bastard. Instead his attention was redirected to a neatly folded pair of trousers, topped with a white undershirt, and Jack closed his mouth, seemingly puzzled. Norrington squinted at his own stack of clothing, and frowned up at the new shadow that lay across them.
"I am sorry," a small man said, in very poor English. "I have no spare boots on my boat. You must let your boots dry out. Come," he offered both hands out, one to each of them, and pulled them up to tower over him. "Please, come with me and change your wet clothing."
Norrington was dashed in bruises of all shapes about his face and more than likely, other parts of his body. He was burned by the sun and wind, and shaking with cold from the breeze and the sting of the sea. His clothing hung about him, heavy, and his belly boiled in hunger. Jack, no longer interested in having his arm ripped from the socket, patiently waited for Norrington to take the first step towards the china man's direction. The commodore let their host get several feet away before following.
The sun was beginning to set, and the breeze was more of a chill across the bland deck of the Okabojee. Norrington repressed a shiver, and fell inconspicuously out of the lead between himself and Jack. He said in a very low murmur, "Tell me what you think."
Jack frowned, looking perhaps even more puzzled, and whispered back, "Think of what?"
"Are we headed into a deathtrap? Could this be a very well thought-out set up?"
Jack kept the dry clothes tight to his chest. "I think I know what we're headed for, commodore," Norrington scowled at him, and Jack pointed toward the cabin. "Fish and chips."
"Fish and ---" Chips. Inside the cabin, on the wooden table, there were two plates set on opposite sides of the surface with rice made into cakes and slices of cooked fish. The smell made Norrington's stomach growl and his mouth water, but he just glanced at the china man and waited.
"Please," he said. "Change your clothing and I will find something to rid you of that chain." The china man exited the cabin, and left Jack and Norrington alone. It occurred to Norrington several times during the walk into the cabin that this man had no idea whether his new guests were going to put a bullet into his back or not. The china man did not think to himself why they were chained at all: were they escaped prisoners on a ship to the new world, were they –
"Pirates," Norrington muttered, and began fidgeting with his buttons. He paused, and glanced over at the other man beside him, who was watching. "Turn around."
"Oh for the love of God," Norrington began to force his tattered undershirt over his head before he realized that it would be far too complicated to remove before the chain that still joined him to the pirate was extricated. Jack only waited patiently for the China man to return, seemingly aware that they would not be separated until he returned with something to undo the locks on the Spanish binds. The heavy wooden door pushed slowly open and the China man appeared, wielding a set of long silver skewers.
He moved Norrington's wrist into his reach and placed it onto the table beside the wall. He began working at the lock with a slow, even pace. There was no sign of frustration, or perspiration brow, though it did take several attempts. Norrington gritted his teeth—the removal of the iron clamp was painful, and when it finally snapped open the Commodore saw why. The flesh about his wrist had been rubbed and chafed raw, to a stinging bright pink along his otherwise darkly tanned arm. The damp air of the cabin made it sting.
Clearly the China man had come prepared to treat the after effects of the chain, and on the table beside himself and his guests he began to lay out a bowl, and very small spoon and a soft white bandage. Norrington watched in silence as he began to mix a sort of meal-paste in the tiny stone bowl, and spread it thickly onto the bandage. It was wrapped neatly around the injury, and after the cold shock of wet paste actually began to calm the stinging pain.
"Oatmeal," the China man said. "Will heal skin."
"Thank you," Norrington breathed. "That is much better, thank you---I hadn't realized the skin had broken," he tentatively pressed the bandage closer to the skin, and nodded over at Jack. The China man started towards the other man, who took several steps back. "I imagine his is the same way, sir, if you would not mind making him healthy for the firing squad."
"Ah, actually," Jack uncomfortably pulled his sleeves down below his wrists, as if covering his modesty. "I'm---don't worry about that scratch, mate, it's---you really don't have to, I'm made of stern stuff, I am, and –" The China man only regarded him quietly, with a blank expression, and held out the bowl of oatmeal paste.
"Will heal wound," he insisted, and Jack shook his head quite enthusiastically. The China man stood completely still, and watched Jack, unnervingly, as if trying to decide why the other man would not want treatment for a likely painful wound. Norrington snorted, and took a seat before one of the steaming plates.
"He's a pirate," the Commodore said, plainly, and earned one of those blank, dark-eyed stares from Jack. "He would prefer you not to see the brand, but it really makes no difference," the China man glanced over at him in reply, which pressured Norrington to make more of a proper introduction. He stood from the table to make a short bow, and laid a hand on his since browned chest. "I am Commodore Norrington. This is Jack Sparrow. He is my prisoner, and we were en route to Kingston before my ship was attacked. His Majesty would be most grateful if you would aid us in completing our journey and set sail for Kingston immediately. You will be compensated when we arrive in the bay."
The China man just nodded very slowly, and politely at Norrington before departing the cabin. Jack threw his hands up, and thrust himself on the bench beside Norrington, moving headfirst into his plate of fish and rice cakes. He did not immediately begin eating, and instead chose to give the other man a long steady look before picking at the cakes, and breaking a piece off.
"We can't help each other now, Commodore," Jack said. "Not now."
"There is nothing we could have done for one another, Sparrow," was all Norrington said, and broke his fish apart with the side of his fork. The food was lacking somewhat in flavor, but it was salty, and hot, and settled inside of him with a warm comfort that blanketed over him as the hour rode on. The China man offered all the fresh water they could drink, and it was greatly appreciated. Their host brought he and Jack several plates before they each decided they had eaten enough, and neither of them neglected to thank their rescuer. He was a man of very few words, and when Norrington finally built up the nerve to ask the China man's name, he was quite surprised to hear that the man spoke more English than he initially let on.
--- --- ---
"Yes, yes---the gentleman, Lord Fredric Von Kronenburg," the Admiral breathed, somewhat impatiently, as he set Jack's diary down and removed his glasses. He drew out a long-tempered sigh. "I feared this name would surface in your account as well."
"Well, I…" Norrington blurted, and realized he had started a sentence with no real defense to end it with. He stared at the Admiral, and finally only managed a small shrug. "That was how he presented himself."
"With no visible signs of a crew, no ship hands, nothing but a fish and rice cake dinner…" Admiral Hawk looked down his nose into the re-opened diary. "---And warm, dry clothing…you must have been somewhat relieved. No sign of a threat on this man, apparently. From what you speak of his nature he seems very passive, no real danger besides the Fantana." The older man arched a gray brow. "Were you not suspicious that this man could have possibly been an ally of Sparrow? A pirate himself?"
"His demeanor was neutral. He hardly spoke a word, save when spoken to and even then it was hard to do. In fact," Norrington frowned. "He paid Jack no mind at all. He seemed to respect that I once had authority, and saw that Sparrow was traveling with me as my captive, and my responsibility."
That statement was a stretch, and Norrington felt that awkward pull again at his nerves. That familiar struggle to keep Sparrow under his thumb, in his line of sight… it had been almost impossible to accomplish. At every turn the pirate had nearly made an escape, and the China man was no more on Norrington's side of that struggle than he had been on Jack's. Norrington had known it then, and he knew it now.
"But he wasn't, was he?"
Norrington snapped back into the world around him. "Sir?"
"Sparrow, traveling as your prisoner. He wasn't. Not really," Admiral Hawk said slowly, and Norrington tried to make sense of the other man's motive. He averted his eyes, and frowned thoughtfully, and found nothing to debate the statement. The Admiral changed the subject. He let the idea slide, and moved gracefully forward. "It seems 'Jack' stumbled upon his own break. You said that the China man never agreed to take you to Port Royal, or any other military port. He seemed willing to steer the two of you away from the law, and you claim that is neutral?"
"He had his reasoning," Norrington put in. "He warned us of that, of coming to the surrounding forts. He told us that it would endanger the two of us in equal share."
Admiral Hawk rolled his eyes and made a face. "Meaning?"
Norrington's appearance since that night on the deck of the Okabojee had hardly changed in the least, and the words spoken by the China man had eerily unfolded to be true. The once noble Commodore sat before a man of honor in tatters, a ghost of what had been. He cleared his throat, and leveled his eyes with the Admiral. "He meant to warn me that it was a strong possibility that I might be mistaken for a pirate as well, especially keeping Sparrow in my custody. Sparrow agreed. Naturally."
"After the Kronenburg fellow had departed."
A slow, disapproving smile spread across the Admiral's mischievous features, and the old man seemed to be having considerable trouble holding back something between a sly comment and good, long laugh. Instead, he just let his eyes fall upon the open diary. "This is where your stories begin to match, almost perfectly I see," he glanced up at Norrington, shameful. "And you fought him. Again," the laughter was tight in the man's voice, but still did not erupt. His amusement at the other man's torment was bordering cruel. "Such a gentleman, you are. Composed. Rational. Respectable."
--- --- ---
Looking back, Norrington supposed he waited for Lord Kronenburg to leave the cabin before his assault on Jack because he felt somewhat under the eye of a better, but regardless, the moment the door closed behind the China man Norrington had already dive tackled Jack Sparrow into the bunks. When they hit the mattress, Norrington was jarred by the impact, and Jack found a window to bat the other man back off the bed and hard onto the floor. The back of the commodore's head cracked the plankes, and Jack followed him, muffling his shout by burying an elbow into the other man's diaphragm.
Norrington rolled painfully onto his side with his arm cradling his winded middle, dragging in long agonizing breathes back into his body. As he lay there, in the seconds beneath Jack Sparrow's weight, he considered why he had even attacked the pirate in the first place. Jack had called him a pirate. Jack had lowered him from a pedestal he had made himself quite comfortable on. Jack discredited him. Jack was the reason why his crew was possibly a drift in still, dead waters.
And yet, no matter how many times Norrington hurt the man, Jack always ended up back on top.
"Commodore," Jack breathed, hard, and Norrington squinted up at him in time to see the other man touch the shine of red blood beneath his nose and scowl on it. "Please behave yourself, at least until we go our separate ways."
"Yes, Commodore," Jack made no move to get off of the other man, and instead just stayed up with one leg holding his arm in place and the other pressed into Norrington's back. He straddled Norrington's side heavily, and it made it exceedingly difficult to even try to move.
"When we go our separate ways, you will be plummeting a full four feet to your death at the end of a noose," Norrington jerked quickly, and his arm wrenched from beneath Jack's knee. The pirate was still examining his bleeding nose, and did not quite react quickly enough to avoid the back of a fisted hand colliding his chest. He stumbled over to somewhere at Norrington's heels, and quickly found a long-fingered hand twisted in the back of his decorated dark hair.
Jack cried out, an irritated noise that meant he was now in perhaps one of the more foul moods his general personality allowed. "Commodore!" he snarled in an uncharacteristically deep voice, but Norrington ignored him and pushed his face into the wood, and twisted one of his tensed arms behind his back. For a moment Norrington released his hair, allowing the man to shake the new daze off before he spoke.
"Something to remember," he bit out, almost a sneer. "You are still my prisoner, and I am still your captor—" the words provoked a hard thrash from the pirate beneath him, and Jack bucked once, twice, but Norrington held fast his ground. "I am not a pirate. I am not you, I am your better. I am a man of scruples, and moral fiber, and honor. You are a criminal who will pay for his crimes. You," he hissed, and shoved Jack's face harder into the wood with a speedily growing anger, a hate he did not recognize within himself. "You will be the one to swing from the yard arm!"
The longer he held Jack in place, the slower his own heart began to pound. He began to calm, and breathe deeply, and the anger began to fade into a deeper sense of control over himself. Jack's fight began to wear thin as well, and the thrashes died to a hard, concentrated rhythm of one breath after the other. Norrington kept a palm pressed into his bruised cheek. A thrust of pressure, and another. Jack was finally entirely still. He lay silent as death, with eyes set on something to the right of them, slightly unfocused.
Norrington released his grip on the other man's arms, but still kept his weight a centered hold on the pirate.
"Stop fighting me," he finally warned, quietly. "You must have known it would come to this. Do not feign ignorance, Sparrow. You have known all along." Jack was very still, as if the reality of death lingered in his mind, and he was made speechless by it. He took in a sharp breath in the quiet cabin, and the dark eyes closed.
"Sorry, Commodore," he murmured against the floorboard. His face was frozen, a portrait of serious dread. Norrington frowned, puzzled. "But I already told you," he considered taking Sparrow's arms again, and a moment too late. "I have a horrid fear of the noose, to be truthful." Norrington reached for the white-sleeved arms, and an elbow found itself way hard into his ribs, and that he could have taken and remained composed. It was the second buck from Jack's hips that brought him crashing to the floor that set his temper on fire again.
All heat, Norrington pulled himself off of the cabin floor to counter but Jack was already up, and stomped hard on his ribs again before darting like a cat for the door. He was stepping just out of the frame when he realized his enemy had done the same, and wrapped both arms tight around his ankles. Jack buckled with no balance, and came to the floor again. Hard.
--- --- ---
"I was," Norrington murmured, quietly--almost to himself. "Once, I was a gentleman."
Norrington's brow furrowed so hard his head began to hurt, but he still turned his eyes to the Admiral in his own defense. "Yes."
"You smashed his face into the deck, sir, is that the behavior of a gentleman?"
"It is the behavior, sir, of a pirate," Admiral Hawk said sternly, all wild eyes on the accused. Norrington could not tell if he was playing with him or not. "Been in many bar room brawls, my lad? It certainly seems as though you've been schooled in fighting very dirty."
"In my situation, I stand by my behavior."
"You tried to strangle him," a simple statement taken from Sparrow's writings. A surprised expression. "Twice."
"Yes, while he was trying to disembowel me with fishing equipment," Norrington did not realize how high his anger was rising until he felt it in his face. The Commodore's heart began to pound, and blood pumped furiously through his veins. "He'd made a complete blithering fool out of me, of the King's Navy, of all I stand for—yes. I tried to strangle him. Twice."
"And did you like it?"
Norrington stopped. His anger cooled like hot, liquid metal inside of him, and as all rage left him he felt heavy, and certainly unprepared for such an insinuation. He cleared his throat, and shook his head, squinting hard at the Admiral. "Did I like what?"
"Strangling Sparrow, of course, did it bring you any sort of pleasure? As a Commodore, you should have seen many battles in your years---you know what it is to kill, but did you find any rush at all in draining the life out of a face you are familiar with? A man that you know?" The Admiral insisted on an answer, leaning forward and with his short fingers he fit his spectacles back over the bridge of his nose. "Or did none of it really touch you, at all? Perhaps you felt nothing."
His hands had been so tired at that moment. They ached as they tightened around Jack's throat, a throat so vulnerable and at the mercy of all the strength Norrington's hands still possessed. It was not much, and yet when Jack's struggles slowly began to cease, and the body beneath the Commodore had finally began to go limp, Norrington realized he had pushed himself just far enough to finish the job. It had been that jarring realization that had pried stiff fingers from Jack's neck and allowed the pirate to breathe.
"No," he lied, and made no effort to hide the glare in his dark blue eyes. "I take no pride in acting on my temper. I find myself in a place I do not like to be, and these… scuffles… they just happen."
Admiral Hawk laughed, once. "And yet they come to you so naturally, young man," he smiled. "Remind me not to tempt your anger in a dark alley after a bad day."