Cursed Confounded

Fala splinters somethin' terrible Tzipori

Written: December, 2003
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance/Humour/Angst
Pairing(s): Pintel/Ragetti (naturally ^_^), Jack/Will (mentioned)
Warnings: Slash, a fair amount of gore/squick, implied sexuality and very possibly OOC
Plot: Ragetti tries to figure himself out as he and Pintel are met with a bit of a problem involving . . . erm, Jack ^_-
Spoilers: At the end, yes, there is a possible spoiler for the end of the film
Dedications/Thanks: This is for everyone on the Moog group at Yahoo!, and for Bri for inspiring me with her luvverly artstuffs. You rule, luv ^_^
Other comments/schtuff: This takes place sometime during the film when all four characters involved were on one ship. It had to have happened somewhere in the storyline. Really! ^_^;




Stop it.

The bonking noises from overhead obediently ceased and Pintel went back to sharpening his sword. He did not even grimace when he heard the short, sickening pop-squelch that followed. He'd known Ragetti long enough that he was used to the sounds of a wooden eye being popped in and out of its socket. It was indeed odd that he should not be bothered by so gruesome a noise, yet a repetitive chain of s irritated him. The irony escaped Pintel, however. Now that the irritation was no more, he'd returned his full attention to the blade in his lap which was in dire need of maintenance.

Meanwhile, in bunk above, Ragetti was taking a breather and pondering. He and Pintel had happened upon a rare parcel of free time and were spending it in their shared cabin, Pintel paying some much-needed attention to his sword and Ragetti in his bunk, trying to sort himself out.

The pirate's lanky frame was sprawled out over his lumpy, half-penny bedding as he stared into space. He was troubled about . . . something, and troubled Ragetti was fidgety Ragetti. He was the sort of fellow who could never stay still and this was especially evident when he had . . . something on his mind. In that state, he would appear downright feverish for all he toyed with whatever was on hand.

In this case, tossing his false eye against the planks of the ceiling hadn't gone over too well with Pintel, so Ragetti had stopped that and put the thing back in its socket. As he was now without something to fiddle with and still steeped in thought, one of his wandering hands ventured out over the edge of the bunk to seek out something else with which to occupy itself. It drifted downward and soon encountered a firm surface. Satisfied, Ragetti's fingers drummed arhythmically upon it.

Pintel stopped his work and growled in annoyance. As he was sitting on the bunk below Ragetti's, that firm surface had wound up being Pintel's head.

Ye're askin' fer the rope's end, ye are.

Recognising the warning in his friend's voice, Ragetti withdrew his hand, though this threat was a rather empty one, what with the Curse and all. His hand clenched into a fist as he laid it over his heart. It was as though his very fingertips were lamenting the loss of having Pintel's scalp beneath them, greasy as it was. Then again, being a grizzled sea dog who had watched his very flesh rot away by moonlight, Ragetti was not one to be put off by a bit of filth.

Actually, having his friend's scalp beneath his fingers had been rather . . . invigourating, even if it was more raw awareness than actual feeling. Though the Curse had stripped from him the ability to feel the texture and warmth of another's flesh, the contact had been fulfilling in a way. Ragetti knew too well how it felt to be constantly groping round for something to hold onto, and having something solid, something real within his grasp had kindled a flicker of happiness and hope within him. It was as though he was but an arm's length from a dream.

Pintel's lips parted over his teeth in an accomplished grin as he tested the newly sharpened and polished blade against a swatch of his hair. The sword cut easily through the wiry lock. Satisfied, he sheathed his weapon and stretched out on his own bunk, rolling to the side so he could tuck the sword in the space between the bedding and the wall. He rolled back over, intending to make for the deck, but very suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a half-wooden stare.

Begad, mate! Pintel swore, shaking his head and sitting back down for the sole purpose of to putting a more comfortable distance between himself and Ragetti. He didn't like being caught off-guard. Perhaps he'd been too distracted to take note of the noises that accompanied a shifting body in the bunk overhead, but he certainly was not prepared to come face to face with his friend in the most literal sense. The one-eyed pirate was dangling halfway off his bunk and grinning in his typical ludicrous manner at Pintel as he hung upside down.

'Ey Pintel, mate, Ragetti chirped, swaying a bit from side to side like a very bedraggled pendulum. The grimy locks of his hair hung stiffly from his scalp and a few shreds of his tattered jacket could be seen dangling over the edge of the bunk. Ye know the whelp?

Turner whelp?

Aye, tha's the one.

What about

Ragetti began only to pause, uncertain. His mismatched gaze was averted in a way that suggested he was reaching into himself, grasping for the right words. Pintel could only imagine what kind of flotsam floated round that little brain of his. After a moment's contemplation, Ragetti returned his attention to his friend, his wooden eye swiveling noisily in its socket.

. . . Well, e's a lad, right?

That was an odd question, Pintel thought. Then again, Ragetti was an odd fellow, and that much considered, he resigned to answer first and question later. The whelp? Aye, e's a lad.

Ragetti nodded, taking that much in. An' Sparrow. E's a lad, inn' e?

Aye, e's a lad too, Pintel answered, then snorted. On is own bloody planet, but a lad still. What're ye gettin' at, Rags?

Ragetti then told Pintel what he'd seen earlier that day as he'd passed the galley entrance. He went into such great detail that Pintel was left a shade paler in face when the tale came to a close.

. . . jus' like tha' pretty wee doxy back in Tortuga did! Ye know, up agains' the wall an' eveythin'? he said in conclusion, making obscene, demonstrative gestures with his hands. Ye shuida seen it, mate.

Pintel actually counted himself fortunate to have not seen it, but he kept that thought to himself and pushed it to the far side of his mind. Rather, he found himself thinking on his friend.

Pintel must have forgotten how very haggard Ragetti looked. His thin face was as lifeless as his wooden eye and his skin was stained a mottled brown with filth and hardship. Though he laughed and smiled near constantly, his mirth was hollow and pale, for no true joy or bright sentiments coloured it. Such things had decayed years ago. His was an empty grin stuck onto an empty head with paper paste. Pintel felt revulsion and horror slink somewhere deep within him to fester and spawn.

Ragetti's face was but a dagger's length from Pintel's, and as Pintel regarded him, he stared into the eyes of a corpse.

Reality smacked Pintel in the face as the query breezed by his ear.

Sparrow an' the whelp, Ragetti said, oblivious to Pintel's contemplation. Whadda'ye make o' it?

Pintel shrugged, frowning. I don' give a shite.

Ragetti was not so easily fobbed off. Naw, really, mate. I wanna know what ye make o' it.

Pintel rolled his eyes, taking a small comfort in knowing that the sooner he gave Ragetti an answer, the sooner Ragetti would shut up. I s'pose they cuidn't get it from the missies. The whelp's surely interested in the Poppet, though e's too yellow te do owt bout that. Sparrow tried it with er and she gave im cack an' flack fer it. Then there's that she-wolf at the elm oo's a right spitfire o' a lass. She'll not be givin' o'er te their lot any time soon . . . Pintel paused, deciding he'd like to avert his eyes, for Ragetti, whilst hanging eagerly onto his friend's every word, had removed his eye in order to do some upkeep. He actually just needed to do something with his idle hands. In any case, Pintel quickly looked away. As desensitised as he'd become during his life as a Cursed pirate, Pintel was not sure he could stomach the sight of a man picking splinters out of his own eye socket.

. . . an' since they ad the roughs, Pintel continued, his gaze firmly fixed upon the nearest bedpost. And the missies weren't offerin', I s'pose they made do with what they ad an' slicked it with eachother, see?

Made do, eh? Well, that's alright then, Ragetti said with a smile then went back to examining his wooden eye and picking at splinters that were poking out with his free hand. I sure cuid use a good slickin' meself, he mused wistfully aloud.

Mm, I ear ye there, Pintel agreed, 'Avin' the roughs and no slick is not ow I wanted te spend ten years o' me life.

Hm, need te sand this thing . . . Ragetti mumbled as he went back to feeling round his eye socket for splinters. Pintel smiled to himself, amused. Ragetti had the attention span of a guppy. A brief spell of silence settled between them. As he stared down at the floor, tracing the lines of the mouldy planks with his gaze, curiosity had a sudden prick at his brain.

Why'd ye ask tha'?

Right then, everything went pear-shaped for the two. Ragetti had been so intent on what he was doing that Pintel's sudden inquiry had startled him, causing him to lose his hold on the wooden eye. It hit the planks of the floor with a and went rolling, rolling, until it rolled right through the gap between the door and the floor, disappearing from view.

The owner of the eye, being the tactful fellow he was, went into hysterics and Pintel suddenly found himself catching an lapful of panicked, gibbering Ragetti.

After a great deal of thrashing about, the frantic pirate managed to right himself so as to pursue his wayward eyeball, only to end up crashing face-first into the door. Pintel came to the rescue, ungently pushing his frenzied companion aside long enough to yank the door open.

What lay on the other side of the door made Pintel stop dead in his tracks. Ragetti saw it as well and his gabble was abruptly hushed. Both were stood frozen in place as they looked beyond the open doorway.

Don't. Move. Pintel hissed to Ragetti who simply swallowed noisily in response. Slowly, gingerly, Pintel extended his hand. Ragetti held his breath.

The monkey sprang away.

GET IM! GET Ragetti wailed as he and Pintel took off down the hallway in hot pursuit. The monkey easily outstripped them, bounding gleefully down the stairs at the end of the hall and carrying his new wooden plaything in his teeth.

Pintel and Ragetti pursued the deuced critter down the staircase, at the middle of which Ragetti tripped over his own feet and went tumbling, dragging Pintel down with him. When the two found the bottom of the stairs, they'd been rolled into a messy jumble of flailing limbs. Pintel managed to lift his face from the floor just long enough to catch sight of their target disappearing into the galley.

By dint of some deft manoeuvring and a great deal of swearing, Pintel disengaged himself from Ragetti and picked himself up off the floor, lifting his friend to his feet by the collar of his jacket. They were about to resume the chase when the brazen clang of a bell from the deck made them pause.

Noon. Time to swab the deck, Pintel observed out loud. Ragetti began to gibber again, pointing desperately at the galley B-but . . . me eye!

Pintel shook his head, Sorry mate, s our go. Ye remember what appened last time ye skivved off . . .

Ragetti suppressed a shudder at the memory. He looked from the galley to Pintel, desperate pleas glittering in the one remaining eye. Pintel sighed heavily as though disgusted. On yer ead be it. Ragetti smiled gratefully and the two made a beeline for the galley.

They barreled in and after a quick look round they spotted their target. He was sat on a hogshead marked and appeared to be trying to eat Ragetti's wooden eye.

Ragetti pounced.

Pintel blinked and the next thing he knew, the hogshead had been knocked onto its side and was rolling his way as Ragetti was thrashing about on the floor, attempting to wrestle his rightful property away from the hairy little thief. There was a dull crash as the heavy barrel rolled out of the galley and hit the wall just outside of the doorway. Throughout all of this, the monkey was shrieking blue murder as he was held fast by the tail.

With a last mighty cry from both parties, the smaller of the two shot past Pintel's ankles and out of the galley, quick like a bullet. Ragetti stood and dusted himself off, then triumphantly popped the hard-won eye back into its rightful place. He was positively beaming. Pintel couldn't help but smile.

Their silent celebration was cut short by the sound of a hogshead being rolled across the planks behind them. Pintel turned and found himself face to face with Bo'sun.

Ye're late fer deck duty, he growled more than said, baring strong, stained teeth and drawing himself up to his full height. Pintel didn't even come up to his shoulder. He knew that Ragetti was trying not to cower behind him.

Ye'd best get yer arses up there afore the Cap'n thinks ye've scarpered, Bo'sun warned them, rolling the hogshead back to where it belonged and standing it up. He then flashed Ragetti a pointedly menacing look. I broke yer back once an' I can do it again, bilge rat.

Ragetti managed a single sharp nod in response. Pintel did likewise. Satisfied, Bo'sun turned away and quit the galley, muttering something about swog-brained codfish or something equally complimentary to be sure.

Backbreaking was no small punishment, of course. It would kill a living person, surely, but when the person being Broken was neither living nor dead, it was a bit more complicated.

As Bo'sun had said, Ragetti had been Broken once. It had been a particularly grueling day at sea and the crew of The Black Pearl had just begun to come to terms with the Curse. Their outlook as a whole was no little bit grim and Ragetti was rather out of sorts about it. To top it off, he was feeling quite wretched over the loss of his eye, which had occurred the previous day. In a moment of recklessness, he'd thrown down his mop, marched right up to Captain Barbossa and spat in his face.

What had happened next was little more than an ink smear in his memory. One part that remained almost painfully vivid was seeing Bo'sun's face, his features hard and dark like firm earth, the metal studs along his brow adding to the ferocity of his appearance. This was the last thing Ragetti saw before he was seized and brought down over one of the ship's cannons.

Because the Curse kept death at bay, he did not die, but being that he was alive in a way, having his spine snapped did take its toll on him. Broken limbs were little more than trifling annoyances. Even a broken neck did little to hinder a Cursed pirate. However, the breaking of one's spine was all but snapping one in half and left it near impossible if not completely so to walk. For his insolence, Ragetti was left draped over the cannon, inert and helpless, for three days.

Backbreaking did not mean death, pain, or both to those under the thumb of the Curse. It meant being subjected to countless stares, prods and unspeakable ridicule.

On the third day, Pintel dutifully collected his shattered friend and dragged him back to their cabin. Resetting the bones had not been pleasant for either of them.

The following morning, Ragetti had dutifully taken up his mop and was making ready to begin the day's work, when Pintel took hold of his wrist and pressed something into his hand. Ragetti had then opened his hand and saw upon his palm an expertly crafted wooden eyeball. Pintel had sat up in bed with a lantern till the crack of dawn carving it. His friend's reaction made it more than worth the effort. The fitting was a bit off, as was seen when Ragetti pushed the thing into his head and it bulged out of his socket, but he launched into a series of extravagant hugs and nonetheless.

It had been one of the best ways they had ever begun a day.

Midnight found Pintel up in the crow's nest, looking out on the placid, moon-silvered waters of the Caribbean. Ragetti was below on deck, making adjustments to the rigging.

Pintel breathed a relaxed sigh. He'd been assigned the role of Lookout that night and after a day's worth of mopping and scrubbing deck planks, was more than pleased at the chance to take it easy.

A thick parcel of clouds slithered over the moon and his surroundings flushed dark, save for the lantern that hung from the mast. He folded his hands, now thankfully not so skeletal for the lack of moonlight, and rested comfortably against the rail of the crow's nest. His eyes slid closed to allow that peaceful darkness to embrace him completely and hold him closer still.

Pint. Pint. Pint.

Heaving a growly sort of sigh at having had his quiet time cut short, Pintel opened his eyes and slowly turned to the side. His friend had scaled the mast by climbing the rigging and was dangling just outside the crow's nest. Min' if I join ye?

Pintel smiled inwardly at the innocent request. It was hard to be angry with Ragetti for very long, especially if one was able to make the distinction between anger and petty annoyance. Also, Pintel couldn't help but feel that there was something almost charming about the other pirate. Almost. Course not.

Tightening his hold on the rigging and bracing his feet against the mast, Ragetti lifted himself into the crow's nest and stood beside his friend. When Pintel's eyes met his, Ragetti's smile stretched over his teeth and he began chuckling to himself for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was the current lack of moonlight and the lantern playing tricks with the shadows, but Pintel reckoned he could see an unusual hint of shyness in Ragetti's otherwise typically off kilter expression. It rather intrigued him.

Say, Pintel-mate, Ragetti began, grinning madly as though he were trying to hide behind his own face. I've been avin' a think.

Pintel snorted. Firs' time fer everythin'.

Ragetti continued as if he hadn't heard. 'S just, I been thinkin' on it fer a time, see, an' I rather fancy givin' it a go.

At that moment, Pintel felt a pang of concern. Though he was smiling fit to crack, Ragetti's wooden eye was swiveling crazily in its socket and the shakes in his voice had near doubled. Pintel chanced a glance downward and sure enough, his friend's hands were shaking awfully as they toyed with the hem of his jacket. Fidgety Ragetti was troubled Ragetti.

With some trepidation, Pintel asked What's what ye rather fancy givin' a go?

Unable to keep it bottled in any longer, Ragetti let fly. I wan' te make do.

Pintel blinked. . . . What're ye talking

The eye did a full rotation and near popped right out of its socket. Pintel knew that to indicate frustration and felt a little guilty. Clearly it had taken a lot of courage for Ragetti to say whatever it was he was trying to say.

Ragetti promptly went about explaining himself, his hands shaking fitfully. Er, ye know ow I were tellin' ye bout Sparrow and the whelp? His voice cracked a bit and his hand flew to his throat out of instinct. Ye said they was makin' do, see?

Understanding hit Pintel like an anchor hits the sandy sea floor as Ragetti stared pointedly at his friend, his smile a little less broad. Pintel, in return eyed his friend skeptically. Ye got the roughs.

Ragetti sighed, exasperated. Aye, but that's . . .

In case ye forgets, mate, Pintel broke in, more to cover his shock with aggression than anything else. This bleedin' curse we got don't offer no slick fer what. Why ye think we han't been buyin' off the birds at every port anymore?

But I don' want that, Pint! Ragetti protested loudly, desperately. I want ye.

Ye're a blitherin' fool, ye are, Pintel remarked callously, though curiosity was beginning to win over pride. What d'ye want me fer, anyway? he asked, trying to sound as rough as possible and hide his interest. Ragetti smiled in a knowing way that made something squirm within Pintel. He'd always been able to see right through Pintel's gruffness to what lay beneath. Pintel wasn't sure he liked that.

Ye're askin' me why, Ragetti stated, almost triumphantly, straightening so that he could leer down at his friend. Pintel had never liked being of shorter stature than most, and he was especially not liking it now. Ragetti was making him feel very self-concious. 'S almost like ye care.

Pintel snorted indifferently. It was another bluff that Ragetti saw right through. There was no pulling the wool over his eyes, wooden or no. Ye do! Ye actually give a shite fer once.

Don' either! Pintel spat, but Ragetti was already laughing decidedly to himself.

Ye so care bout meee . . . he sang, poking Pintel in the chest, an action which earned him a disgruntled slap from the other. This he ignored and he stepped up onto the railing of the crow's nest. Pintel couldn't help but notice that Ragetti's hands were no longing shaking as he took hold of the rigging. He turned back to face Pintel, who was scowling up at the one-eyed pirate for all he was worth.

Pintel gives a shite, Ragetti said again before he climbed down the mast, his laughter a taunting litany in Pintel's ears as he disappeared into the night.

Less than a fortnight later, Pintel found himself lying awake beside the sleeping Ragetti, surrounded by stone walls, iron bars, and inescapable troubles. Of course, the impending public execution weighed heavily upon his mind, but there was something else nagging right alongside that.

He was now free of the Curse, and thus capable of feeling things he couldn't've for the past decade. However, since the Curse had been lifted, Pintel had felt nothing but several variations of cold; First the cold of iron shackles, then the cold of the hard prison floor and now dread gathered at the back of his throat, cold and heavy like a stone. The cold had stayed with him in differing guises, touching him as though it wanted to love him. Now, he felt numb all over. It was as if the Curse had taken hold of him again. Perhaps it had never left.

In a swift, desperate motion, Pintel reached out into the darkness. Ragetti's hand was warm.

~ end.