Fic: Marooned Ch. 11: Not All Chains Are Iron
By Honorat Selonnet
Disclaimer: I can keep writing this forever; that mouse is never going to let me have any profit.
Summary: In which rum is burned, homicide is contemplated, and the British navy is horrified. Jack waking up hungover—what's not to love? The last conch shell makes a cameo appearance. Eleventh in my Island Fic plus deleted scenes plus dragons. Here be the last movie scene.
Thanks and another chest of uncursed Aztec gold go to geekmama2 for beta work on this. Any errors and inconsistencies remain mine.
Not All Chains are Iron
Jack came slowly back to consciousness feeling vaguely pleased in spite of what he could tell was a first rate hangover. He remembered a few things about the night before—namely being pickled in rum and having a lovely girl in his arms—always a good thing. He didn't remember anything else happening. But today was another day, with more rum.
Gradually his befuddled senses began to report in to his even more somnolent brain that the sound of fire was a great deal louder than even his splitting headache could warrant and that the smoke was unusually thick. Against his better judgment, he opened his eyes. Bad idea. Light assaulted his abused head. A muffled explosion confused him further. If there was a battle going on, why was he sleeping and why couldn't he feel the sea move? He turned his head towards the sound. Ouch! That hurt! Palm trees. Those were definitely palm trees, which meant he was on land, but something was very wrong with them or with his eyes. He wasn't prepared to say which. They looked for all the world like they were on fire.
Unexplained motion at the base of the trees drew his eyes. He squinted, trying to focus. A sand-coloured figure seemed to be scurrying about suspiciously. The figure resolved itself into the aforementioned beautiful girl and a barrel of rum. Mmmm, rum! Elizabeth—that was her name. A lot more fun with a little rum in her than with a quart of sea water. He attempted to sit up. Elizabeth tossed the barrel onto a pile of wood and other barrels. Jack was indignant. That was no way to treat good rum.
A violent explosion woke him up fully to the horror of the situation. Flaming fragments shot into the air lighting more trees on fire. Smoke billowed high in the sky. Elizabeth crouched down, sheltering her head with her arms until the debris had settled.
Jack stumbled to his feet, eyes wide with shock. His body was scarcely functioning, let alone his brain, as he staggered, arms waving disjointedly, towards the madwoman.
"No!" he shouted. "Not good!" The magic quicksilver of his words failed him. "Stop! Not good!"
She threw another barrel into the inferno. Everything was burning. Everything necessary for any kind of survival.
"What are you doing?" he cried, as Elizabeth stalked by him towards the beach. "You burned all the food! The shade! The rum!"
With perfect unconcern, she agreed, "Yes, the rum is gone."
"Why is the rum gone?" Jack begged, following her, hands outstretched in frustration.
Elizabeth turned on him fiercely. "One, because it is a vile drink that turns even the most respectable men into complete scoundrels." Her dark eyes snapped with reflected fire. He winced back from her vehemence. "Two, that signal is over a thousand feet high. The entire Royal Navy is out looking for me! Do you really think that there is even the slightest chance that they won't see it?"
"But why is the rum gone?" Jack tried to pry the words out of his mouth with desperate finger-tips. A vile drink? Liquid gold! Nectar of the gods! Elixir of life! All that stood between them and the nightmare of thirst. All that stood between him and the nightmare of reality.
Ignoring the raving pirate, Elizabeth planted herself firmly in the sand of the beach, dusted off her hands, wrapped her arms around her knees, and propped her chin in one palm. With a confidence she hoped he believed, she told him, "Just wait, Captain Sparrow. You give it one hour, maybe two, keep a weather eye open and then you will see white sails on that horizon." She gestured expansively at the smooth cobalt sea. The empty sea. Eyes on the horizon, she prayed she was right.
Behind her, Jack was fraying into a thousand enraged pieces. This little bit of a female had plotted against him, Captain Jack Sparrow. Had plied him with rum and sweet talk until he had passed out and then had stolen his rum. Blown it all up. His hands clenched in fury, as though they grasped her slender, treacherous, aristocratic neck. His entire body was shaking. Fumbling wildly, he drew his pistol, breath hissing through gritted teeth. For a moment the barrel wavered in the air behind her windblown golden brown hair.
No! He gasped with the effort of reining himself back under control. This shot was for the man who had stolen his ship, not the girl who had stolen his rum. He needed to leave. Now. Before he did something he would regret. Stuffing the pistol back in his sash, Jack stormed off unsteadily down the beach.
Back on the shore by the flaming palms, Elizabeth let out the breath she had been holding and buried her head in her arms. She had survived. The mad, rum-besotted pirate had not killed her. She would not have the honour of being another souvenir in his hair. Now, she could look forward to a slow and agonizing death unless a ship appeared. She concentrated on willing one onto the ocean in front of her.
Jack stomped down the beach, cursing Elizabeth, Barbossa, Will, the island, Elizabeth, and the conch shells, punctuating his curses with frantic hand gestures. He was rapidly coming to the next point of the island. Behind him, on the other side of the smooth curve of the bay, the bloody little rum-burner was invisible on the white sand.
Fuming, he mimicked Elizabeth in a falsetto voice, "Must've been terrible for you to be trapped here, Jack. Must've been terrible for you." He spun around precariously and hollered back up the beach, "Well it bloody is now!"
The sight of the tower of smoke from his precious burning rum did not improve his mood. Furious, he resumed his rampage along the shore. Rounding the point, he froze, one hand raised in an imprecation cut off mid-syllable. Out beyond the breakers of the barrier reef, in the deep water, the Dauntless rode at anchor, her white sails, hanging in their gear, ready to be sheeted home, brushed with the morning sun. Already a quarter of the way to the island, a boatload of marines was rowing briskly.
The wind luffed out of Jack's anger. Grimacing, he predicted, "There'll be no living with her after this."
The pirate was returning. Elizabeth studiously ignored his approach. He didn't seem as enraged as he had been when he had rushed off. But she didn't want to talk to him.
She looked up. Jack no longer looked about to commit murder. In fact she couldn't read the strange expression on his face. With a puzzled frown, she asked, "What is it?"
Jack steeled himself to admit Elizabeth had been right. Damn the girl. "You'll want to be packing your trunks, love," he grinned ruefully. Startled speculation narrowed her eyes. "The little boat from the Dauntless is just off shore around that little point." He waved in its direction.
Her reaction surprised him. Bouncing jubilantly to her feet, she caught his hands and whirled him madly around.
"Ooof!" said Jack. "Easy there, love. Me head's not too well attached this morning."
Elizabeth paused, undaunted. "Oh, Jack! Now we can rescue Will!" she cried ecstatically. Then a little doubt crept into her voice. "There's still time, isn't there?"
"Yes, lass," he agreed. "We might get there in time." He didn't know if that were true for Will or not. They had been a whole day on this island, and Barbossa and his crew were over-eager. A lot would depend on what good heart the Black Pearl was in. But if he were to have another chance at the Pearl, he needed to get to Isla de Muerta. And to get the Dauntless to take him there, he needed the little rum-burner on his side. Her price was and always had been Will.
Elizabeth let out a delighted laugh and continued capering about with the bemused pirate in dizzying circles. Jack laughed with her for his own reasons. The bonnie lass, even sober, was all living flame, eyes sparkling, face flushed, constantly in motion, free and unconstrained. And he had thought it took rum to slip her out of her chains. Will was a lucky man—if he lived.
So, the sight that met the eyes of Commodore Norrington and his crew as they rowed around the point was of Elizabeth, a fine British woman, clad only in a soot- and salt-stained underdress, kicking up her skirts with bare legs, and dancing shamelessly with that worst of pirates, Jack Sparrow.
"Not that I'm complaining, love," Jack nodded his head in the direction of the longboat, "but I feel obliged to point out that we've got company."
Elizabeth dropped his hands and flew to the water's edge. "Commodore!" she called, perfectly unselfconscious. "I'm so glad you're here!"
The smile on her face, reflected Jack, would have thawed anything but the frost in that boatload of starched British prigs. As their disapproval registered with the girl, he could almost see her chains snapping back into place, her flame snuffing out.
Joining her, he gestured dismissively at the little boat full of fools. "That's why I'm a pirate, darling."
Elizabeth looked at him, the fire still smouldering in her eyes, her eyebrow lifted in question.
He jerked his chin at that stick Norrington and company. "The only chains they can put on me, love," he held out his wrists side by side in demonstration, "are made of iron."
He saw comprehension on her face. "You're a smart man, Jack."
And so their little interlude was over.
Elizabeth would go back to her world of teas and gowns and morning callers—and censorious stares if the men in the Dauntless's boat were any example. And Jack knew he would soon be bargaining for his very life. Commodore Norrington had "gallows" written all over his face whenever he looked at Jack.
He was surprised to realize that he would miss this godforsaken spit of land this time around. The old painful memories had been coloured over and eased with new ones of a sparkling battle of wits with a lovely girl. She had been a worthy opponent.
Impulsively, he bent down and dug around in the sand.
Elizabeth watched Jack in puzzlement. What could he possibly be up to this time? She'd long since ceased to put limits to the odd things the man might do.
"Ah ha!" Jack exclaimed in triumph, straightening up holding a conch shell.
Now why, she wondered, would he want one of those pesky things?
Turning the ridged conical shell about in his hands, Jack contemplated its prickly spiral points, its smooth rose interior. Perfect.
"What is that for?" Elizabeth asked.
Jack turned to her and brushed his fingers along her cheek that wore the mark of Barbossa's blow. "Memories, love. I'm going to have this carved into a souvenir." He smiled at her. "Some things a man prefers not to forget."
She stared at him wonderingly, then grinned back at him. "Not one of these?" Elizabeth reached up to touch the beads on his forehead.
"No, alas," he gave an exaggerated sigh. "Though it's not my fault you missed your chance, love."
Her hand drifted down to the strand where he memorialized those who had died by his hand. "Nor these," she said softly.
"Well, it was a near thing," he grimaced. "Don't you ever be burning me rum again, lass."
The Dauntless's boat was being drawn up in the shallows now. Jack looked over Elizabeth's shoulder and met Commodore Norrington's furious gaze. He smirked at the man. You may have her now, mate. But this place and the memory of this last day are ours. And you'll always wonder.
Jack turned his eyes back to Elizabeth. She glanced down at the shell he was holding, then her dark eyes lifted to his.
"For absent friends?" she asked holding out her hand.
He closed his hand over the shell, feeling its points biting into his palm. Hidden menace and beauty of form. A prickly surface and a glowing heart. Echoing with the breath of the sea.
"For absent friends," he agreed taking her offered hand.
(But if you'd like more our story will continue in the next novelization I'll be posting. It will be the scenes aboard the Dauntless including the deleted ones.)
Thanks to all you reviewers. Will work for reviews.
Special thanks to Captain Tish for your encouragement.