Author: CasXxGrippedXxMeXxTight PM
Anna and Jack are finally together. But amidst the corruption of London, the scandal of the princess 'past, and the race for the Fountain, can they hold onto what matters most? Will they sail beyond the horizon, love, beyond freedom itself?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Capt. Jack Sparrow - Chapters: 32 - Words: 119,942 - Reviews: 189 - Favs: 78 - Follows: 56 - Updated: 01-06-13 - Published: 02-06-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7812002
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, so I was a bit disappointed in the response from last chapter, but I am so thankful for the reviews I did get. I'm going to be really busy studying for my very first AP test this Thursday, so I figured I'd take the only time I have, a short break from my frantic studying, to write another chapter. I would really appreciate reviews, they'd keep my spirits up this week, and keep me sane.
Climbing back down to the deck was like leaving behind another life, secret memories and moments only they could see, only they could share. The rigging scratched against the palms of their hands and they wished they felt skin instead of the fraying rope, felt the soft cloth of the other between their fingers as they scrambled for warmth and touch and feel. Boots touched the deck softly, and the last imprints of their time slipped away, they kept their distance from each other, close in only the mind when they wished they could be back above, where Jack drew stuttering breaths from her chest and Anna made shivers roll down his spine.
The deck was nearly empty, darkness blanketing the only sailors moving until they were a part of the shadows, working in another realm, another world. Where lamplight flickered, pools of reality were created, where bits of rope and deck were illuminated in a warm glow that made Jack's skin seem to glow. Anna swallowed, trying to shake off the need to be close to him, turn it off like they were supposed to under the eyes of their enemies. But when he raised his hand to brush along her cheek, she leaned into it.
"We should-" she paused, having nothing else to say when he could feel her gaze on her, hot and scorching and so real. Silence engulfed them again and she could hear the ocean clearer here, it was closer and consuming and it lulled her into security.
"Should be gathering information from Angelica," Jack finished, a small smile stretching his lips in the half-light. His hand fell away, she blinked her eyes open. "Do you trust me?" he asked softly, and the sound of his voice made her wake up, the dream of a continuation of their stolen moments shattering around her. They were at war, captured on enemy territory with no way out and battles approaching.
"Yes," she answered. "Do what you have to." She felt like she was signing her own destruction, the seduction of a Spanish woman weighing on her chest and she wondered if he would lose himself in the illusion.
"You won't be alone for long," Jack whispered, leaning down until his forehead pressed against hers, forcing her to meet his eyes. "I'll be back." He was gone a moment later and cold air invaded, turning to walk towards the stern of the ship.
"Birdie?" she called, stilling his movements and drawing his gaze back to her. She was cast in half-shadows, her eyes shining through the darkness. When she spoke, a soft smile illuminated his features. "I see you too."
Angelica was surprisingly easy to break open. Jack whispered together and forever and spoke of drinking from the chalice and leaving Anna behind and suddenly she was moldable clay in his arms. Easy and it made him sick. He'd become tired of easy, of new curves and different lips and a woman at every port ready to answer him. He wanted hard to get and easy to talk to.
"You would really leave her behind?" Angelica whispered, drawing a hand across his neck. Her skin didn't make Jack tingle, didn't make him relish in happiness and soft sighs and moments of beauty. It was just a touch.
"Of course I would," he murmured, a sultry smirk slathered onto his lips and it felt so fake. "And we shall bathe each other in the waters of the Fountain, among other things." He forced himself to chuckle, to smile when he felt sick.
Anna had left a mark on his soul he couldn't erase, the memory of their first meeting imprinted in his mind forever as the beginning of his end, the end of his animosity towards his own heart. The image of her sitting on the edge of a dock, swinging her legs to be closer to the water brought him from the depths of his own lust, the need to sate it and run. He wasn't changed, he was better. Anna had brushed aside his inhibitions, his fear of being tied down. He didn't want to lose that.
"I need the years, Jack," Angelica whispered, drawing him away from his thoughts. "But not for me. For my father."
"You fallen for your own con, love," Jack whispered, flicking his eyes down as he spoke. That name wasn't for Angelica, or any other woman now. It was for the one who crossed the veil for him, who kept her promises, who fought Death itself for his sake. It was for Anna, and using it here, speaking it like he was lusting after another woman, it made his heart burn, his fingers go numb, his soul ache.
Jack wondered if he could ever go back to quick nights in Tortuga, bending a woman to his whim and leaving without the weight of guilt on his heart. He wondered if he wanted to. Back then pieces of him were missing, chips off his soul that had been lost to waves and tides years before when his innocence was ripped from him. Then, he'd seen devotion, unconditional love and the need to keep a promise. She came for him, and for him alone.
Had he ever said thank you?
"Blackbeard is my father. The lies I told you were not lies," she admitted. Jack grinned, real this time, falling back into that stolen moment above his head when Anna whispered theories in the dark.
"By God, she was right," he whispered, rubbing his jaw distractedly. He froze a moment later, wondering how he could talk himself out of his stumble, the slip of the tongue that made Angelica's eyes turn hard, her lips press into a thin line.
"Jack," Angelica said in warning, a fire burning in her dark eyes and Jack was struck by the sudden realization that the look didn't stir anything in his chest. She seemed worn, strung out and empty on the inside, in need of years more than her father, barren and unappealing to his eyes. Jack didn't want her, nothing in him did.
His mouth opened, trying to find the words to cover his mistake, to fix his con before it shattered, and the pieces of his lies were scattered on the deck, spilling into the water. His brow crumpled in earnest, in his attempt to add another layer to his lies, webs of half-truths and Aces held behind his back.
Angelica was reaching for her knife, a little doll in her free hand and it had his braids, his bandanna. He swallowed, eyes moving frantically for a way out as the blade caught the star light and glowed a soft silver. His chest ached, he breathed in, his mind rushing ahead to half-cocked plans and possibilities and routes where he didn't get killed.
"You look like you're waiting for judgment day," a soft voice commented, reaching Anna's ears with the lethargic pull of the sea, calm and easy, water slipping through fingers. She looked up, blinking as the missionary came into view, soft aqua eyes that reminded her of the Caribbean, burning through the night.
"Just for my partner to return from the grasp of the First Mate," she answered nonchalantly. "Annie," she said in greeting, smiling slightly. Her eyes found the water again as the young man came to stand beside her, resting his forearms on the railing and gazing at the stars.
"Phillip." He reached out his hand to grip hers in a firm shake. Silence consumed them for a moment as he drew his hand away and let it drop back to the railing. "He loves you," he spoke with conviction, the kind only missionaries seem to carry and it makes your soul waver, want to agree on impulse. She looked up, smiling softly, reluctantly.
"I'd like to think so," she said quietly, and it seemed to take a moment to reach him fully. He turned to face her fully, his left arm bracing on the railing and his brow crumpled in confusion, analyzing her with a fascination she was unaccustomed to.
"But you don't?" Phillip asked, his eyes widening in bewilderment. She shook her head, strands of hair falling in her eyes and shadows playing across her face with the movement.
"Jack is a pirate, you yourself speak of them as immoral. What am I to think on nights like these?" she asked almost rhetorically, wondering why she was voicing her deepest doubts to this young missionary when she'd barely formed them herself. She'd kept the emotions locked away so tightly she barely knew they existed but this man's conviction could draw it out of her chest, her soul.
"That doesn't mean they cannot love, or find God," he answered quietly, that same soul-deep conviction in his voice that made her question her own preconceived notions about the existence of a true God, a one God. But she knew realities, she knew of heathen Gods who had saved her lives, ones she had fought with all her strength, ones she had seen, knew to be real.
"I've met many Gods, but never yours," she said strongly, flicking her eyes up to his, meeting his assured faith with her own. He seemed surprised, a stumbled half-step back and his mouth dropping open, no sound escaping his lips. He swallowed, shook his head, drew himself back from that place inside his heart that belonged to sea legends and waves, to pagan gods and myth. To the ocean.
"The point of Him is faith, you do not need to see Him to know He is there," he said, unsure who he was convincing, her or himself.
"And I am to disregard the Gods I know, the ones that have saved my life, the ones I've fought for?" Anna spoke softly, but there was a depth there, an endless affirmation of her beliefs, her understanding of the world around her boiled down to the sun and the moon and the sea and the stars.
"In order to reach heaven, yes," Phillip said almost unwillingly, his right hand falling to the bible kept by his side, its thick leather had been his companion since he was young and he stumbled through London amidst shots and screams and the need to be good, different.
"Who said I deserved heaven?" she asked, her eyes on the waves again, watching their entrancing movements against the ship, lapping at the hull as they reflected starlight and the moon, hanging in the night's sky like a hole to another world, where gods crawled into their reality.
"You have saved more than you have harmed. You feel for those lost, you have put yourself in harm's way for others, you've lived for others, you've rejected your crown for the safety of a pirate boy," Phillip said earnestly, stepping forward until his hand rested on her forearm, his eyes insistent and his posture yearning, needing for her to understand.
"How do you know that isn't just a legend?" she asked, lifting her gaze from the water with carefully blank eyes, the blue wiped clean of passion and life.
"Whitecap Bay ahead!"
The shout from the Quartermaster made Jack and Angelica freeze, an instant held between enemies before a dagger slid back into her waistband and he ran towards the stern of the ship where the moon glittered off the water and a lighthouse stood like a monument to gods. Bells rang out, pounding their shrill tone into his head, bouncing off the walls of his mind until his movements were automatic, his eyes scanning the flurry of movement on deck for long brown hair and blue eyes.
Jack locked eyes with her a moment later, water separating them as she gazed back at the ship with removed interest while Gunner rowed their small longboat towards the shore. He sent her an encouraging smile, one she return halfheartedly, flicking her eyes back to the undead man in a glare, hating him for pushing her into the boat. She'd wanted to wait for Jack.
He dropped into his own longboat, stiffening when Blackbeard and Angelica boarded beside him a moment later and keeping his eyes carefully on the dark shore ahead of them as they made the slow journey to the dock. A thick jungle blanketed the distance, webs of vines and tress tangling themselves within the Florida inlands called to him; the Fountain lay within them.
His steps on the dock were almost shaky, his mind taken up in thoughts of immortality and the notion of right and wrong, the crossroads of his future.
"Lay 'em out flat! No tangles! Make 'em look...pretty for our dainty guests," Blackbeard instructed the quick-handed crew, each sailor stumbling over themselves to make up for the mutiny, to save their fragile skins from the layers of stitches and the numb look of the zombies. "We're going to need light. A lot of light," Teach said to Angelica with a flickering light in his eyes, a plan carefully laid out and accelerating fast.
Jack allowed himself to be herded towards the lighthouse, flicking his eyes to the forest again. Anna had been right, the Fountain wasn't the way to gain the security he desired, to escape the hands of Death he had faced before. He hadn't liked it. But the Fountain wasn't the way.
Jack couldn't let go. A winding staircase led him up and up and up as he convinced himself he could make it out, conscience unscathed if he took a sip from the chalice of Ponce de Leon. And Anna would be beside him forever, he wouldn't have to worry about her bruises or cuts or the way she flinched away from touch.
Had her boat reached land yet? He hadn't seen her on the docks.
"Smell that? Whale oil. Stuff burns like a miracle from God," Salaman commented heartily as he gazed at the intricate looking lighthouse, the fuel source resting in an iron basin that reminded him of witches in South Africa, cannibals in Polynesia, basins used to cook still screaming victims. It was ready to be set alight and concentrated in a huge magnifying glass, centered on whatever point they should choose. Jack turned around himself, flicking his dark eyes from face to face in an attempt to find her, his heart beating in his chest, his fingers trembling.
She wasn't there.
"Can you make it work?" Blackbeard asked, his hard eyes concentrated on the torch the sailor held, watching the flames lick away at the air.
"Made by the English!" he said enthusiastically, before his shoulders dropped and his smile slipped from his dirty face. "Let's not get our hopes up."
Jack rested against the wall, the right side of his face pressed against the cold stone as he stared through the window at the black water, his body shaking, palms sweaty, arms heavy. He knew why they were here, had studied that ever turning map for months long enough to know the shape of a mermaids tale and the story behind their ferocity, their hunger for man. They were hunting tears to mix with a single chalice, the one that would give youth, and the mermaids were hunting humans.
The basin caught behind him, a wave of heat bathing his back as light concentrated on the murky water below them, scanning the lapping waves for a single bobbing boat. Jack breathed, raggedly drawing air into his chest and praying that when light hit, he wouldn't find her face.
But he did.
Anna glared up at the blinding yellow light, the focused light made her think of Gods, divinity concentrate resting on their packed longboat. She tried to steady her heartbeats, forcing her mind to soothe itself as thoughts of mermaids and teeth and talons tore through her senses, made her body stutter, her heart waver. They were the bait.
She knew that.
"We're doomed. They be drawn to man-made light," Ezekiel muttered, his hands trembling in his lap as his eyes ran over the black waves.
"Sharks?" the Cabin Boy asked fearfully, wide eyes seeking Anna's guidance. She swallowed, shaking her head slowly, unwillingly, wishing she didn't have to divulge the truth.
"Mermaids," she said softly, unable to keep eye contact with the uncontained innocence and fear burning in the little boy's eyes. "Foul beasts, ready to eat any man unwittingly entranced by their beauty."
Scrum swallowed, his gaze switching between the water, the woman, and Gunner, looking for a way out. Anna turned almost imperceptibly towards Phillip and the Cabin Boy, leaning in and whispering quick instructions she hoped they understood.
"You have to go now," Anna hissed, directing her attention towards the small boy. "Slip into the water and swim for land before they arrive. It's the only way you'll make it."
"What about you?" he asked, his voice high in panic. She smiled, switching her gaze to a calm looking Phillip.
"Phillip's God will protect us," she said with a wry smile, patting the boy's shoulder with a soft hand. He smiled back unsteadily, his little hands shaking as he stood at the back of the small ship when Gunner turned his head.
Ripples of water spread from his legs as he dipped his body slowly into the water, relying on Anna's strong grip as she lowered him soundlessly beneath the waves. A quick flash of panic consumed his face as the cold water rose to his chest, but she quelled it with a calming look.
"It'll be fine, just head for the rocks to your right. I'll find you soon," she murmured, resting a hand on his cheek for a moment. He nodded and she withdrew her hands, allowing him to swim as quietly as he could towards the opposite bank. Anna glanced up at the lighthouse, against the glare of light, aware of Blackbeard's hard gaze on them. He would have seen.
She didn't care.
Gunner turned towards them, a pistol raised and ready to dispatch anyone trying to escape, his eyes vicious and cold. Anna raised her eyes to him and tapped Scrum on the shoulder, willing him to mimic her, to distract the zombie from the little boy swimming earnestly towards the shore.
"My name it is Maria, a merchant's daughter fair," she sang quietly, her slightly off-key voice rebounding off the water around them, distracting the ferocious look of the undead sailor as they called to the mermaids, pulled them closer to the boat across the tides and swells of waves. Scrum caught on, following her lead in a shanty they all knew by heart.
"And I have left my parents and three thousand pounds a year," They sang together, gaining volume in the small circle of illuminated night. "My heart is pierced by Cupid." They nodded urgently to the others, their voices wavering. "I disdain all glittering gold."
Sailors crammed together in a small bobbing boat intertwined their voices on waters turned blue by concentrated firelight. A little boy swam towards the shore, a woman sat next to a missionary, emptying her lungs in an off-pitch song she hoped would call the mythical predators towards them. She wondered if she would survive long enough to see the end of this adventure, if she would feel Death close on her quick and fast and see her brother again as she crossed the veil into a new world. She wondered if she would see Jack again.
A quick look at the nervous missionary solidified her conviction. She was a pirate, and now mere-creature could rip life from her fingers after she'd survived so much. She would make it, and so would the aqua-eyed man next to her. Anna would make it back to shore, to Jack. She had to.
"There is nothing that can console me but my jolly sailor bold."