A/N: Lyrics at the beginning from Something Corporate.
Warning: JW slash (more implied than anything else)
And if I hurt you then I'm sorry
Please don't think that this was easy
The moon was shining down on them. Funny how such beauty could reveal such evil, how such pureness exposed such vice. And yet, the sea was calm, as if completely unconcerned and unbothered by the rest of the world. A ship rose in all its might through the starry night. No wonder it was the pride of the Royal Navy. Indeed, HMS Dauntless was quite impressive, a proud vessel led by Commodore Norrington.
Not a lot of activity could be seen onboard. A few shadows were gathered at the helm. And two were on the deck. Nearly no sound could be heard. One could presume there was an uneasy silence looming around. It was painfully obvious what one could make of the considerable distance separating both passengers, a distance that was not only physical. Through kohl-rimmed obsidian eyes, the sea became freedom while through sharp coffee ones, she became doom. They were not at all like each other. Everything from their upbringing, manner of speech and occupation not only set them apart but made them rivals. Yet, the very same thing was wandering through both their minds, and haunting both their souls.
Both were thinking about a certain blacksmith, whose duality made their hearts ache. He was her friend, someone she had known for all of life, someone who she knew held no secret for her, not the son of a pirate. He was an honest blacksmith, a noble citizen, not some lowly bandit. He loved her, not him. How could he ever? He had given her heart, after all, how dare he take it back now?
"You didn't tell him about the curse," she said, fighting the uneasy feeling in her stomach.
"Neither did you, I gathered," he said, finally looking up at her. "Our reasons are similar."
"I assure you, Captain, that is the only thing we will ever have in common."
"We tried our best to protect him," he went on, pointedly ignoring her last sentence. "But in the end, nothing mattered… I still failed him," he whispered more to himself than to her.
"Don't talk like that."
The man closed his eyes tightly, pressed his lips together, almost enough to bruise them. His lips started to twitch, they wanted to tremble freely. But he didn't allow it. All those promises he had made to himself years ago would have to remain. While most of them, he had broken with a single glance, the remaining, he would have to honour, even if the pain was excruciating. If only she could stop talking, if only she would go away, everything would be so much easier.
But the woman maintained her gaze on him. It wasn't that she was so insensible she couldn't see his misery; no, she could almost touch it. But of his suffering perversely came her joy. She usually wasn't one to torture, to take pleasure in one's pain but this was different. She was the one who had been robbed. She was the one who had been fooled. Yet her victory left a bitter taste in her mouth. Shame coloured her face.
"He loves you, you know," she blurted out, not able to stop herself in time. He didn't answer. He didn't have to. His eyes spoke for him.
She shouldn't have said that. It was foolish of her. And it only made it harder. He didn't want her pity, her sympathy, her understanding. He didn't want anything from her. Except… She had the only thing he ever wanted more than getting back his beloved Pearl. He wished she would just shut up about him, about everything. He wanted her to disappear, to have never existed.
His heart twisted painfully in his chest. Of course he wanted Will to be happy, not doubt be had about that. But happy with him. Wasn't he still a pirate, after all? So used to getting his way, to getting everything he wanted. And being friends with him would be the very death of him. No matter what he tried to tell himself, his love was selfish and possessive. He couldn't help it, even if he wanted to. But he didn't want to.
"Jack, look at me. Please," she sighed. "I can't stand to see you like this."
"I'm not keeping you."
He didn't mean to snap at her. But he needed her to shut up at last. He knew it wasn't her fault, it wasn't even Will's fault. It was nobody's fault, except perhaps his and his only. Yes, if he hadn't fallen in love, if he hadn't let his heart open to him, none of this would have ever happened. He cursed the day they had met, that faithful day in the forge.
He laughed quietly, humourlessly. Even he, with every trick he knew, wouldn't have been able to stop this. It was bigger than him. It wasn't something you could just shoo off with a snap. It wasn't something you could control or something you could predict. It just came, fell on you and took everything from you. Impulsive, spontaneous, unexpected, demanding. He was defenceless.
"Let's just… focus on how we can save him. Forget about everything else." He gave her a look. "For now," she amended." He will need both of us, Jack."
"Look," he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'm not exactly in a position to help anybody, right now, am I? I can't even save my own bloody skin."
"It can be arranged," she said so softly he almost didn't hear her. "Surely you must know something that will be of help? Please." She touched his arm.
He breathed deeply, eyes still fixed on the sea before him. "Don't." There was a strange glint in his eyes. "Don't tell me you know how I feel or how everything's gonna fine. You don't and it won't, savvy? Not everything has a happy ending."
"So that's it? You've made up your mind then?"
"You're abandoning him to die! You have to help him."
"I don't have to anything."
"Every man for himself, isn't that what they say?"
"You've read a lot more about pirates than I, Miss Swann," he answered without malice. "Good night." He tipped his hat, made to go.
"Don't you dare leave, Jack. Don't you dare leave him," she cried, tugging on his arm. He glanced at her, shook his head almost imperceptibly, her hand still on him. Again, they settled in an awkward silence.
"Would you let him go?" he asked at last. She did not answer. "Ah, but of course not," he chided himself. "Why would have to, after all? He loves you."
"Of course not," he laughed dismissively. She narrowed her eyes at him but still, remained quiet. "Well, I've changed me mind," he suddenly told her, nothing like the man he had been only seconds ago. "If you would pass on to the Commodore that I will collaborate if he needs, I'm going to bed. Good night."
"Good night, Jack," she nodded, her voice and eyes impossible to read.
"Just..." he whispered, his back turned to her.
"Yes?" she urged him.
"Just be honest with him, is all," he said, walking slowly away.
"You're wrong, Jack," she murmured to herself. "You did what I could not do. You let him go after all."