Title: Priorities 1/2

Author: Eurothrashed

Feedback: Yes, please. E-mail is in bio.

Disclaimer: My muse, who is an independent if minor deity, possessed them like whoa.

Rating: Pg13

Summary: Jack is setting up the romp around the fire...

"Will would die for me," Elizabeth snapped, twisting around to glare at Jack. How dare this drunken pirate question Will's devotion like it was some trivial thing!

"Well, that's all very fine an' good, love," Jack said with a dismissive wave of his half-empty rum bottle, "But dying for someone's easy - give up, give in, make a bloody mistake." The way he grinned at her when he said 'mistake' made Elizabeth's eyes narrow and lips thin; what exactly was he insinuating? "Now, killing for someone, allowing someone to die, watching a friend scream an' writhe while he's tortured for somethin' he didn't do - now, that's hard."

Elizabeth's eyes widened a fraction and Jack chuckled darkly to himself.

"If young Mister Turner proves that he's willing to do more than just die for you, Miss Swann, then I promise t'be properly impressed," he said, his free hand fluttering to rest on his heart, before falling limply to his side. "But until that fateful moment of self-discovery, please do ol' Jack a favour, an' keep your pretty speeches of true love and happily ever after to yourself. Savvy?"

Elizabeth nodded mutely, her mouth having gone as dry as the sand she was sitting on. She was sorely out of her element; none of her books went on as cynically as Jack did. Oh no, they spun happily ever afters where brave deeds and self-sacrifice triumphed over evil every single time. Was dying for someone actually as foolish and weak as Jack made it out to be? Did Will's devotion really mean so little?

Raising her eyes, she wasn't that surprised to find that Jack was staring at her without reservation. Of course, he is staring at me, she thought with grim amusement, whom else would he be staring at in this God forsaken place? Normally, the thought of someone having a lively conversation with the local shrubbery would have lifted her spirits considerably; if only it wasn't for the fact that she could actually see Jack doing it without being the least bit out of character.

"Trees are the most interesting people," he would say with a broad smile; then he would explain to the tree how he escaped this island once before with the reluctant aid of cannibalistic pigmies.

"If what you say is true," Elizabeth slowly said as she climbed to her feet, stressing the 'if' with an almost religious desperation. "Then what does any of this mean?"

Jack cocked his head to side, his hands stilling for a moment. "This what, love?"

"This bloody adventure!" Elizabeth exclaimed angrily. Her hands were flurrying through the air in a harsher, sharper imitation of Jack's, though hers was more out of aggravation than anything else. "Will's trying to rescue me, our being stranded here! Does any of this- -" she swept her hand out toward the churning ocean behind her "- -mean anything?" Her hands dropped, and Elizabeth fought not to cry out in frustration. Any minute now Jack would start laughing, or just give her a disgusted look and go have that chat with the tree. She pushed her hair back and let a breath out between her teeth; suddenly feeling very, very tired. "Or am I just being stupid again?"

"Firstly, Miss Swann," Jack said getting to his feet with an amazing show of rum-laden effort, "I never meant t'say you were stupid." He smiled and pushed his bottle of rum into her hands, "Naive, certainly, but never stupid." He collapsed on the ground, grabbing a handful of her shift, pulling her down next to him. "Secondly, do you want Will's trying to rescue you, and our bein' stranded in the middle of bloody nowhere to mean somethin'?"

Elizabeth sniffed at the rum, weighing the pros and cons of drinking any more than she already had. "I don't believe in fate," she said, "But I do want this to mean more than a cursed bit of treasure I stole from a boy when I was old enough to know better."

"Ah," Jack grinned stroking the beads in his beard, "So, that's how you got it. Quite the little pirate, weren't you?"

Elizabeth turned sharply, not quite sure she had just heard Jack correctly. By his expectant flinch and closed eyes, she knew that he probably thought she was, once again, angry with him. She laughed as he visibly relaxed, it taking him a few moments to realize that there weren't any outraged slaps of feminine righteousness heading his way. Elizabeth laughed, but not at Jack; no, she was laughing at herself, at how horrid she had been acting.

No wonder Jack was flinching, Elizabeth hadn't really given the poor man a reason to let down his guard. Oh yes, around Captain Jack Sparrow she was always screaming, demanding something, or just yelling at him.

Elizabeth smiled reassuringly at Jack, trying to undo some of the damage she had wrought. The edges of Jack's returned smile were pinched with apprehension and fell short of being a true smile. Oh well, she thought, at least it's a good first step forward.

Going over each of her little tantrums in her mind, Elizabeth found that she wasn't just tired of being the Governor's daughter. In truth, she was tired of it all - having suitors, wearing torture devices disguised as high fashion, being a proper English Lady. "You know," she said leaning back on her elbows, "When I was younger, hearing you say that, would have made me insanely happy."

"And now?" Jacked asked, opening another bottle.

"Now?" Elizabeth sighed and took a drink of rum, "Now, I really wish I was young enough to enjoy all this."

If she had been paying more attention, Elizabeth would have seen Jack's sudden interest in his bottle of rum, and would have been suitably worried at his lazy smile when he looked back towards her.

"You're only as old as you feel, darling."

(go to next chapter)