Author's Notes: This was written for Ariana Deralte as part of the Yuletide Challenge. My first PotC fic.
Regarding Feedback: Very much sought out, both positive and negative. Con-crit is also welcome.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and places belong to Disney. Please do not sue.
Warning: This is a slash story. If that makes you uncomfortable, please leave now.
"Tie her up men."
Came the distant command from above. And at once, he felt something distinctively uncomfortable in the pit of his stomach. It was nearly time, any second now someone, probably the Third Lieutenant, will knock on that door. True to prediction, mere seconds later, a soft knock and an equally soft call.
The young Lieutenant hovered at the door, his uncertainty emanating off him in waves. The Admiral wondered for a moment if it would be too horrible of him to wait this out, to see what wit the young are made of. But that idea was abandoned the very next moment. It was against his nature, his upbringing, his beliefs and he didn't have energy to fight either any longer.
"Thank you Lieutenant. I will be there shortly."
One last time, and he was going to leave the way he will surely be remembered - Admiral James B. Norrington, proud and tall, loyal servant to His Majesty, war hero and ruthless hunter of pirates everywhere. Never being one for nostalgia, he spared but a glance around the cabin before heading out above deck.
"Strike the Flag!" Bellowed the same Lieutenant who, Norrington realized, had called on him earlier, and before he could register the implication of such a command, 864 British Naval officers and sailors simultaneously raised their hands in a perfect salute. More than a little shocked, he managed a few staggering steps before he caught sight of the five small figures on shore, all of whom were waving, and two jumping up and down in utter awe and excitement. They, they were his goal. They were whom he came home for. And the Norringtons were at their best when they had a goal, so with renewed vigor, he made his way past his crew, with honor and grace, and most importantly, by himself.
"Welcome home James."
Elizabeth, mature in age but still radiating that inner beauty that made her glow, now surrounded by the little ones who were not so little anymore. And Will, renowned blacksmith and trusted friend. Home, this was home yes, Port Royal is his home, and they are his family.
* * *
Josephine, to welcome her master home, had filled the room with her precious incense. Norrington appreciated the gesture, but really, a smoky haze, courtesy of twenty-four sticks of assorted scents has never been his idea of a cozy, welcoming room. Yet he had never had the heart to tell her, so like the numerous times in the past, he endured it, with the help of the open window. Except this time, there seemed to be a problem. The window shutters appeared to be stuck.
He thought of maybe temporarily relocating for the night, but at once refuted that idea. It was going to take much more than *incense* to drive James Norrington out of his room; he will simply have to endure it without the help of Mother Nature.
At first sleep evaded him, and he felt sure that the smog was slowly suffocating him, but then gradually, everything began to lift. The smell was no longer overbearing, but almost pleasant, it no longer felt stuffy either, instead, it was airy and fresh and Norrington could feel a slight breeze against his cheek, and a tingle in his ear.
And he was at once wide-awake.
It suddenly clicked.
"*Mr. Sparrow*, how long have you been outside my window?"
Jack wrinkled his nose. "Ah Jamie, how many times 'ave I told ya to call me Jack? Or if you must, Captain Sparrow? 'Mister' makes me feel old. And mate, you're a bit out of practice if I do say so myself. It took you a mite longer than I expected to figure that stunt out. "
Norrington tried very very hard to repress any form of reaction. He will not be made a fool of by Jack Sparrow. He will not. But that blasted 'privateer' made it so damn difficult. And that idiot was now parading through his bedroom touching his things. This must stop.
"Captain Sparrow, if you'll please..."
But Jack cut him off. "The boy must be proud, all these years and ya still keep that damn sword he made ya. Ya know Jamie," he looked up and no matter how much he tried to resist, Norrington couldn't help but stare back into these eyes, "the sword gets cold unless it's killing. Not to mention it's sharp and it's for hurting, that's what it's for." And then his eyes changed. "But I suppose even now, after retiring, ya still keeping up appearances."
Norrington sighed, and closed his eyes. He was tired of games, of this. "What do you want Jack? Why are you here?"
There was silence, and then, right next to his ear, "Jamie, ya know why."
He didn't, because it couldn't possibly be the reason Sparrow seemed to be suggesting. That would be nothing short of crazy. He had made a mistake once; he was not going to again. In fact he was rather happy the way things were now. He was home, he had time to do things of his own fancy, he could read, he could write, he could visit the Turners, he could prune the plants in the back garden if he so desired, he could....
As if he were able to read his thoughts, Jack huffed, suddenly in a mood. "Do ya really think you'd be happy here? With your sword? Jamie, it's over. You're not an Officer anymore, you're a free man, free to fancy 'nyone you desire. Free to be a sodomist. Free to be a pirate even!"
Jack leaned in again, hand drifting slowly up towards his cheek and murmured so softly, that it could just as likely have been the wind, "So what'd you say? Come home with me?"
Norrington suddenly felt a great pressure in his chest, wanting to be set free, to escape. But he can't, he cannot allow it. He has to resist. But it was becoming so much more difficult; Jack was leaning closer, and his lips were suddenly only centimeters away. Norrington has forgotten why he had wanted to resist in the first place, as he willingly opened up his lips and tasted Sparrow for the first time in so many years. He felt light, like when the smog was first lifted off him, the pressure was gone, and everything is all of a sudden clearer.
He grasped Jack tight, surprised that the other man hadn't forgotten, surprised that he, himself, had.
"Mr. Norrington sir, wake up! Wake up!"
And all of a sudden there was bright sunlight on his face. Squinting, Norrington stared up at the concerned face of William, his manservant.
"Sir, are you alright? You were yelling. Josephine was convinced that you were having a nightmare. Though it looks to me it was all the smog from her incense clouding your mind."
Norrington stared dumbly at William, the events of the previous night flooding his brain. It had all been a dream, a side effect to all that smoke. Jack didn't come, they didn't kiss, and it was all a dream. Because Jack Sparrow is dead, and ghosts don't exist.
"Sir, you really should tell Josephine that her ridiculous idea of a welcoming is really quite that, ridiculous. It was lucky you had your window open, she should really count her lucky stars for that."
Ghosts don't exist. They can't.