I deeply apologise for the long delay in this chapter. I must admit, two years is something of a record, even for me.
I understand that some people may well be unwilling to read back over the past few chapters to remember this story so, in brief; having bought the compass from the man who stole it from Jack, a pirate by the name of Diego Duenez attempts to become immortal using the cursed gold. Unfortunately, he gets possessed by the curse and reanimates Barbossa who finds himself under a slightly different curse than before – he must restore the 'blood of the innocent' to the chest. Barbossa has no idea what that means, but believes that Jack may know. Will and Elizabeth get married – which is nice – and find the body of Elizabeth's maid Estrella in their bed – which isn't. Jack discovers a note on the body, telling Will and Elizabeth to send Jack to the Isle of Coconuts if they want to prevent everyone in Port Royal from dying. Jack expresses his intention of going – everyone else thinks it's a stupid plan. In a state of shock, Elizabeth holds Jack responsible for Estrella's murder, and hits him with a candlestick, rendering him unconscious. Norrington then arrests him, in a kind of 'protective custody' deal. Will and Elizabeth free Jack on the agreement that he help Elizabeth get revenge. They escape to the Black Pearl where it turns out that Gibbs and Ana have taken Norrington prisoner.
This story was, of course, rendered AU as of Dead Man's Chest and shall remain so.
This chapter was beta read by the ever wonderful Jackfan2. Thank you again.
"You do realize, Sparrow, that you are now responsible for kidnapping an officer of the Royal Navy?"
"Can't get anythin' past you, can I?" Jack asked absently. The sight of Commodore Norrington imprisoned in the Pearl's brig might have been amusing in other circumstances. As matters currently lay though, it was probably just another sign that everything was going to hell.
Norrington was glaring at him again. "Kidnapping is a crime punishable by death."
Jack shrugged. "A man can only be hanged so many times," he pointed out. Wasn't as if kidnapping Norrington had been high up on his list of good plans. But having the man on board meant it was unlikely that anyone else would know their heading. Of course, that meant that no-one would be able to come to their rescue. He sighed, wearily, his mind awash with possible futures, and grim forebodings.
"Jack…" God help him; if Norrington was using his given name, things were even worse than he'd thought. "Jack, I know that this wasn't your idea. Turn the ship around, we'll go back to Port Royal and I promise you that the entire power of the Navy will be brought to bear…."
"'Ave you considered that maybe that's what 'e wants?" Jack interrupted. "Maybe 'e wants all your forces out of Port Royal so as to attack." In truth, he didn't think it was likely that the mysterious 'he' wanted anything of the sort, however, he was willing to raise any point that had a possibility of distracting Norrington out of the attempt to talk him out of going to the isle of coconuts. He couldn't be entirely sure that such an attempt wouldn't be successful.
Norrington shook his head. "If you thought that, then you would most certainly have arranged for me to be returned to Port Royal. Jack.." the commodore was starting to sound a little desperate. "we – you – are sailing straight into a trap. I am aware that, for some twisted reason, you feel guilty about the girl's death, but no matter what Elizabeth might say -whatever you might think - this situation is not of your making. I am certain you have no wish to endanger any other lives. Let us return to Port Royal and discuss matters with Mr. Turner and Miss…and Mrs. Turner."
"They're onboard." Jack remarked, deliberately not looking at Norrington. Might as well lay bare everything he was guilty of. Well, everything relevant, that couldn't be otherwise concealed, at any rate.
"They're on …. What?!" Jack did his best not to flinch at the anger and disbelief in Norrington's voice. Not that he hadn't expected it. Not that he didn't know he deserved it. Nothing but bad choices to be made. "What were you thinking? Leaving aside, for the moment, your own risk, how can you justify leading a pair of civilians into such danger?" As if he didn't already know that anything that happened to his friends would be his fault.
"They asked." Jack said simply.
"Be that as it may, you had no business permitting it. Even if you were intent on this foolish venture, you should have sent them home."
"They asked." Jack repeated. He could have tried to explain about the bitter need for revenge he had seen in Elizabeth's eyes, about the deal that they'd struck in the name of friendship, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to it. It would have involved revealing too much. Instead he changed the subject. "I came down to ask if you would be willin' to give me your word that you won't interfere with my ship or me crew, if I let you out of here. We're half a day out of Port Royal, so I know you won't be swimming back."
"What will happen if I refuse?"
Jack grinned. "We've got a week till we reach the island. It's a long time to be locked up, mate. Trust me on that. And when we get there, well, we might need every hand we can get. I hadn't honestly considered that you would say no." There was nothing like the feeling of holding all five aces to cheer a man up.
Norrington sighed. "Very well. You have my word." Jack unlocked the cell door and headed to the stairs, but Norrington paused before following. "Miss Swan…I mean Mrs. Turner…Elizabeth. How is she?"
Jack hesitated, unsure for once of what to say. "She'll be fine," he finally settled on. It was probably true. Maybe. "I've given 'er and the whelp my cabin for the journey." No doubt that they needed their privacy, though not for the reason that should be, on the day after their wedding. He wondered how Elizabeth was doing. It seemed that he should be giving her a wide berth – not only had he no wish to be hit over the head again, it also seemed as though his presence was liable to cause her distress. So he should avoid her – and Will – until he'd cleared this whole mess up. That was the right thing to do. It was.
"I see." Norrington sounded about as convinced of Elizabeth's wellbeing as Jack himself was.
Jack turned away from Norrington again, and walked towards the staircase that would lead them back on to the deck. "Everything is going to hell," he said aloud.
Norrington didn't reply, but Jack knew the other man had heard. Had heard him not ask for help, as he'd never not asked for help before. He could only hope that the help he hadn't asked for would be given when he needed it.
Up on deck, Ana was at the helm, while Gibbs stood beside her, fretting.
"I'm tellin' you, lass, we're sailin' straight fer trouble."
"Jack normally knows what he's doing," she answered, seemingly calm.
Aye, that was true enough. Well, Jack usually, eventually knew what he was doing, in any case. And maybe he was worrying for nothing. On the other hand… "You saw the picture on that note, same as I did. We should be sailin' the other way as fast as possible."
She didn't immediately answer him. Perhaps she secretly agreed. "We need to see what's what. We can't be running for the rest of time."
"And having that Norrington on board. You can't tell me that doesn't worry you. Not to mention young Mrs. Turner. It's…."
"Joshamee Gibbs," Anamaria interrupted, furious. "If you say that it's bad luck to have a woman on board then, so help me, I'll throw you overboard myself."
"I wasn't going to say that," he protested. "Though it's bad luck to have anyone on board as looks that…" he couldn't think quite how to phrase it. That angry? That upset? That ready-to-kill, and to-hell-with-anyone-in-her-path? He had known the girl a long time, but all he hoped was that when she did whatever she was going to do, she didn't take him and his friends down with her.
"That what, Mr Gibbs?" a familiar voice slurred
Gibbs jumped. Oh hell. Turning to face Sparrow, he replied, "Nothin' important, Cap'n," He wondered if Jack would notice if one of those trinkets in his hair was replaced with a bell.
Jack nodded and swaggered up to the helm, which Anamaria relinquished with scarcely a murmur. "What's the plan, Captain?" she asked as she moved aside.
"Get to the island, see who's there, do some reconnoiterin', an' do what needs t' be done."
Well, that was vaguer than usual. Gibbs had no particular wish to argue at the moment though – they still had a long voyage ahead, and Jack was looking tired, and in no mood for discussion.
"That's it?" Anamaria apparently didn't feel the same reluctance. Not that he was surprised; she was always more ready than he to press the point.
"Not much use in coming up with anythin' more specific until we know what it is we're up against." Jack was staring out to sea, rubbing at his head, as if it pained him. Gibbs wondered if he should say something.
Before he could, Ana put her hand on Jack's sleeve. "You alright, Jack?" she asked softly. Gibbs wondered, for a brief moment, if he should leave, but when Jack simply turned his head and flashed a reassuring grin – at both of them – he decided not to. Yet.
"Jus' a bit o' a headache. S'not too bad anymore." Not too bad anymore? Meaning, that at some point it had been. Gibbs opened his mouth to say something, but Jack had already turned away again, and he knew, by the set of his Captain's shoulders, that any further enquiry would be given short shrift.
After a moment Jack addressed them again. "I need the pair o' you to help me make absolutely sure that the Pearl is as prepared for trouble as she's ever been. I want every gun checked, every powder barrel accounted for, long before we reach the island. It's my hope that you an' the Pearl will be well out of any trouble, but I…."
Ana didn't let him finish. Gibbs didn't think that she would ever let him finish a sentence like that. "You're not going to handle this on your own, do you hear me you daft fool?"
Gibbs nodded his agreement adding, "We're not jus' going to stand by and watch you risk yoursel' Cap'n." Not again. After over two months being held prisoner by a sadist, unsure of whether his friend was alive or dead, Gibbs would be damned if he'd let Jack do anything that stupid.
"Yes you are." That voice – serious, matter-of-fact – it made his blood chill. The fact that Jack still wasn't looking at them didn't help. "This time, you'll follow my orders, and follow the code. Please."
Gibbs opened his mouth, then closed it again. This wasn't the time to be arguing. There was plenty of time to talk sense into Jack – and time enough to out and out defy him, if it should come to it. It was almost funny. The only way he'd consider mutiny against Jack Sparrow was to save the man's life. He caught Ana's eye, and she gave him a brief nod. They'd talk later and figure out the best course of action. Neither of them was about to let this happen. He cleared his throat. "What do you think we're up against, Jack?" he ventured.
Jack turned, and grinned humorlessly at him. "A dead man, that 'as good cause to want my death."
Not good at all.
The moon that was rising was almost full. Norrington watched it, feeling oddly out of place on a ship that he had no command over. Sparrow's ship. What was he going to do, when he returned to Port Royal?
The addition of a kidnapping charge to the list of crimes, for which Sparrow was wanted, meant that the unofficial state of truce that currently existed between them would be near impossible to maintain. Either he would be expected to want revenge for the kidnapping, or it would be suspected that he had gone of his own free will – which would spell the end of his career. More than that, it was untrue; he truly had been kidnapped.
The fact that he was not wholly averse to his present circumstances was neither here nor there. While he would prefer to be in command of the situation, and to be backed up by a strong naval presence, the fact is, he would rather find himself on Sparrow's cursed ship, with only pirates for company, worrying about Elizabeth and Mr. Turner, heading for a mysterious and presumably dangerous rendezvous, than to know that all of that was going on without his presence. Sparrow was right; they were going to need all the help they could get. If only he could have persuaded the man to turn back.
Suddenly, he became aware that he was being watched. Turning, he saw the female pirate – Anamaria - standing behind him.
"Just wanted to let you know. There will always be someone watching you, for as long as you're on board."
Not really expecting anything less, he simply nodded.
She snorted, contemptuously. "Treacherous bastard," she muttered.
"What?" he asked, uncertain for a moment what she was referring to.
"You! You promised you wouldn't arrest him. You gave your word."
Almost, he was tempted to question what a promise was worth to a pirate. But he wasn't quite that foolhardy. "That was for his own protection. My plan was to arrest him for disorderly conduct – hardly a stretch – and release him when the danger had passed. Besides, after Miss Swan knocked him out, it seemed the best option."
"After what?" Anamaria asked very softly. Norrington suddenly had the feeling that he was skirting a massive precipice.
Unaccountably nervous, he stammered out "It was….that is, she wasn't altogether in her right mind. She'd sustained a massive shock and had some idea that Jack was responsible. I'm sure she's thought better of it by now."
"What exactly happened?" She continued to speak in that soft, menacing tone.
Unable to look at her, and equally unable to avoid telling her the truth, he answered, "She hit him with a candlestick. He wasn't expecting it, I think. I treated the wound myself. It wasn't as serious as it might have been. It wasn't her fault; she was distraught," he emphasized. The last thing he wanted was to cause more trouble for Elizabeth.
"Hmmm." She glared at him, seeming to lose herself in thought. "Daft fool." she muttered, after a while. Norrington couldn't help but think that he'd probably made life more difficult for Sparrow, as well. That almost cheered him up a little.
Silence fell between them and Norrington found himself wondering if he could enlist the woman as an ally, to make Sparrow see sense. It was evident that she was fond of her Captain after all. He could use that. "You must know that you're sailing into a trap. If you have any influence over Sparrow, you would do well to use it."
She looked at him sharply, almost as if she had forgotten he was there. He was disappointed to see her shake her head. "No-one has that sort of influence on Jack Sparrow."
"Then we'll continue sailing into a trap," he stated.
"And we'll win." There was a peculiar emphasis on 'we'. He had the feeling that she was drawing lines in the sand, and leaving him on the other side. "Now, if you'll excuse me." She walked away, without waiting for an answer. He watched her leave, and saw her nod to the old man with the parrot, who immediately turned to watch him. It seemed the Pearl crew felt no particular need to be subtle in their surveillance.
Feeling more hopeless with every moment that passed, he turned back to look out at the moon. Everything was going to hell, indeed.
It was supposed to be the happiest time of his life, and here he was, watching his love – his wife – cry disconsolately in another man's bed.
It had been over two hours since Elizabeth had stopped talking to him and Will had never felt so alone in his life. Sitting on the bed, she faced away from him but he knew that she was crying again by the soft sniffling sounds she emitted. Try as he might to console her, every time he tried to get near, she tensed up, swore at him and struck out. Perhaps he would be happier if he could only convince himself that it wasn't him she was seeing. Perhaps he would be happier if he could truly convince himself that she wasn't in her right mind.
Truthfully, he could understand Elizabeth's need for revenge. He could even sympathize with her desperate need to be doing something – to be doing anything - in order to stop feeling so helpless.
Of course he understood, after all, no so very long ago, he had experienced all those feelings himself. However, he had seen her expression when she hit Jack with that candlestick, and, may God forgive him for thinking it, but he wasn't entirely sure that she hadn't meant to kill their friend.
Things had spiraled dangerously out of control, long past the point when Will had any idea what he should do. All he knew was that he would stand by Elizabeth no matter what. Even if it meant going against whatever plan Jack – and Norrington - came up with. Even if it meant…he swallowed, nervously. He had vowed for better or for worse, after all. And more than that – he loved her. That was it; he had made his choice.
"Elizabeth?" he said softly.
A faint sniff was the only response. It was enough. He knew she was hearing him.
"Elizabeth…I can't pretend to know what you're feeling. I wish there was someway that I could make it all better, but there isn't. But I can promise to help you get revenge if that's what you want. No matter what." He swallowed again, before continuing determinedly. "No matter who stands in our way."
She turned to look at him then, and just for a moment, he imagined he saw an expression of horror and regret on her face, but if it had been, it was gone in an instant. "Do you really mean that, Will?"
"No matter what." he vowed with a stiff nod.
"Thank you," she whispered and closed her eyes. With that, it seemed she was finally drifting off to sleep.
There was a bitter taste in William Turner's mouth. God forgive him. God help them all.