Disclaimer: (singing drunkenly) I pillage and plunder and…really bad eggs…(trails off)…yoho!…or something like that anyway, but sadly I have not yet managed to steal Pirates of the Caribbean. It's Jerry Bruckheimer's et al., savvy?
Summary: When an old acquaintance of Jack Sparrow's appears in Port Royal, Will and Elizabeth find themselves caught up once more in a tale of greed, gold and vengeance.
A/N: Greetings (or perhaps 'Ahoy' is better suited in this case), and welcome to my first attempt at a hopefully swashbuckling POTC fic. Hope you enjoy!
A/N/N: Just a note to say that this story is set after Curse of the Black Pearl so it disregards the events of Dean Man's Chest (can't wait, lol!)
Better Him Than Me
Chapter 1: Something Bad
Kohl-lined eyes squinted slightly in the morning light which reflected blindingly upon the glassy surface of the ocean as Captain Jack Sparrow surveyed the open waters which stretched behind his ship. Not a soul could be seen, nor heard, as he stared into the horizon, and gradually, he began to lean over the ship's rail, to the point where it looked as though he would lose his precarious balance and plunge into the depths of the Caribbean. Yet he did not fall. Instead, dark eyes followed with fascination the rushes of frothing water which trailed behind the Black Pearl, and the pirate captain drew in a deep breath, letting the smell of salt envelop his lungs as he leant forward even further, the hands decorated with golden rings, which rested lightly on the smooth wooden rail, the only lifeline between him and the ocean.
The sudden sound of a gruff voice nearly caused said captain to topple straight overboard, yet somehow Jack managed to regain his balance at the very last moment and pull himself upright with a jerk, only to whirl around and glare at the man with the salt and pepper beard who stood only a few feet behind him. The corners of the intruder's mouth twitched slightly as he watched the infamous Jack Sparrow attempt to recover his balance, and his dignity, having little success with either. Eventually, the pirate captain settled for another few seconds of glaring at one of the few men whom he termed 'friend', before returning his gaze to the deep blue waters once more.
"We'll be approaching Port Royal in a few hours, Captain."
"Good," Jack replied, his eyes focused on the distant horizon which came no closer however far he sailed. For that matter, it did not get any further away either. When the sound of footsteps announcing the exit of the older man from the scene did not reach his ears, Jack swivelled round to see Gibbs still standing where he had left him. "Good job," he said shortly, hoping that that would be enough to get the ex-navyman to leave. When Gibbs still did not move, the pirate captain made an odd ushering gesture with his hands. "Carry on. With whatever you were doing."
Gibbs just continued to stare at him, a strange, far-away, look in his eyes. "Jack?" he muttered finally, as his sharp eyes dug into the figure of one of the most feared pirates in the entire Spanish Main.
Gibbs shifted uncomfortably where he stood. "A few of the men are wonderin' about something."
"And what would that something be, I wonder?"
"Well, Captain." Gibbs paused, seeming somewhat hesitant to actually voice his thoughts. "The thing is," he began, "is that some of the men were thinkin' that it's a bit of a fool idea to sail into a port where there's a fair price on your head, it seeming like you're trying to tempt fate 'n all. Something bad could happen."
Jack did not respond for a long moment, yet when the other pirate just kept looking at him, piercing grey eyes half-closed against the morning sun, he took a small step forward towards the older man, and raised a ring-laden hand. "Contrary to what some members of my faithful crew might think," he announced, "the Pearl is going to Port Royal to pick up some goods which are apparently rather valuable to a certain person whom I shall not name, in case the name manages to find its way back to a certain commodore."
Gibbs slowly nodded his head, digesting the other pirate's words. "Aye, Captain," he replied at length. However, turning to leave, he paused and glanced back over his shoulder. "So there's no chance that you'll be looking in on one Mr. Turner, then. Or Miss Elizabeth?"
The sound of trinkets jangling slightly in the morning breeze was the only reply as, his head cocked slightly to side, Captain Jack Sparrow turned to face the stern of his ship once more, hands bracing him as he leant against the black wooden railing, the wind rippling strongly between the folds of his off-white shirt.
Nearly a minute later, when he still had not received an answer to his question, Gibbs shook his head and made his way back to the main deck of the Black Pearl as she moved through the soft waters of the Caribbean. "Something bad's gonna happen, you mark my words," he muttered to himself, as he forced his slightly stiff legs down the steep stairs which led below deck. "Something bad."
The daughter of the governor of Port Royal halted abruptly on the doorstep of her father's home, and turned reluctantly to look at the man who was staring at her in puzzled bewilderment.
"Where are you going, my dear?"
"Out," the young woman replied innocently, hands nervously smoothing the pale flowered fabric of her dress.
The soft creases which sat on Weatherby Swann's forehead deepened, and a slightly accusing frown crept over his face as he gazed at his only daughter. "You know that I do not like you going to see that boy alone."
"Whatever do you mean, Father?" the girl asked. One hand reached up to pat a stray curl back into place.
The governor's frown deepened. "Elizabeth, please. It is not proper."
In a single instant, the innocent look vanished from the young woman's face as she glanced at the man who had raised her. "That boy has been courting me for the past several months, Father," she responded, her voice sharpening as she tightened the ribbon fastened loosely at the front of her pale cream dress. "I do not see anything improper about it."
"It simply is not done, Elizabeth. What if something happens to you?"
"It is broad daylight, Father. I hardly think that Mr. Turner will be able to do anything to me to which I object without a sufficient number of witnesses present to convict him if you decide to press charges."
"Elizabeth!" The governor's tone rose slightly, more than a little mortified at his daughter's boldness.
However, the determined woman ignored him. "Will would never do anything to endanger me," she stated flatly. "Nor-" she continued, seeing her father open his mouth to respond, "would he ever do anything which would be 'injurious to my reputation', as some of the bolder members of Port Royal society have put it."
"It is not a matter to be dusted over and forgotten about!" the governor exclaimed, disbelieving that the daughter whom he had raised was so dismissive of the opinions of the people who mattered. "Whether or not those of whom you speak are correct in their beliefs, their opinions must nevertheless be taken into account. It is bad enough that-" Seeing his daughter's eyes harden instantly, the governor halted his sermon, realising that he had perhaps said too much, at least in regards to matters concerning one William Turner.
"It is bad enough that what, Father?" Elizabeth questioned innocently, her eyes narrowing almost imperceptibly as she took a small step forward. "That I am seeing a man who allied himself with pirates? Of course, he did so only to save my life, yet I expect that that has no import on matters, does it?"
"What Mr. Turner did was a brave deed, if somewhat rash, for which I shall ever be grateful to him," the governor replied firmly. "But that does not mean that you can go gallivanting off into the middle of town whenever you choose!"
Elizabeth's annoyance faded into a look of realisation. "I see," she said softly. "You mean that it is bad enough that he is a blacksmith?" She nodded lightly at the silent confirmation of her words. "My apologies, I had forgotten that his true transgression was that he works for his living instead of spending his days reclining with a decanter of sherry whilst discussing the latest plantation figures!"
"He is only a blacksmith."
"It does not matter to me," replied Elizabeth simply. She turned to leave but was interrupted by the governor's voice as it rang out into the large hallway of the house.
"Please, Elizabeth, the least that you could do is to show a little decorum, for pity's sake!"
Elizabeth turned back disbelievingly. "Decorum? Father, I have shown nothing but decorum!" Seeing her father begin to open his mouth she hastened to interrupt him. "And do not think to blame Will. He has hesitated far more than I in regards to the speed of affairs. It has been nearly a full year since the attack on Port Royal and our relationship has advanced little beyond courting, if at all!"
"That is as it should be, Elizabeth," her father reminded her. "It is only proper that a certain length of time should be spent in liaison before any steps are taken towards marriage." He cleared his throat. "That is, if they ever are."
"What about Commodore Norrington?" Elizabeth returned sharply. "You seemed quite eager for my response to his proposal last year."
"That was entirely different, Elizabeth, as you well know. The Commodore has been known to this family for many a year and he is well-respected in this community-"
"And Will is not?"
"Let me finish, Elizabeth. I am not suggesting that Mr. Turner is in any way dishonourable, and I am well aware that he is respected by many men in his profession, but it is simply a very different situation to that with the Commodore!"
Elizabeth stared at her father silently, then turned towards the door. "Goodbye, Father. I am not sure at what time I will return."
"Wait, Elizabeth, just for one moment."
"I have already waited!" Elizabeth burst out, surprising both her father and herself as she swung around to face the other man. "I am going to marry Will Turner one way or another and I will not wait any longer!"
The governor's voice was quiet as he looked at his little girl, who seemed to be becoming a woman far too quickly. "I simply do not want to see you hurt."
Looking back at her father, Elizabeth was struck by how old he suddenly seemed appeared. The creases which lined his face were no longer caused by laughter, nor worry, and they did not vanish when his expression changed, but instead remained, etched by age. Her eyes softened. "Will would never hurt me," she said gently.
Governor Swann looked at his only child as she stood in the doorway of their home, half-in, half-out. He sighed as she picked up her skirts with one hand and began to make her way outside.
After a second's pause, Elizabeth Swann turned back to her father. The governor of Port Royal was standing in the open hallway with a resigned half-smile tugging at his lips. "At least take the carriage?"
Elizabeth flashed him a grateful smile. "Of course, Father."
Not many miles away, in a small cove which, over several decades, had crept its way further into the sands which surrounded the island of Jamaica, a boat bumped gently against the pale white beach, before grounding itself in the shallow water. Half a dozen figures jumped out and, moving to the prow of the small vessel, pulled it further up the slope until it rested well out of reach of the frothing waters of the incoming tide.
One figure, slighter taller than the rest, and who cut an imposing figure in a long, fitted coat, made his way up the sands until he reached the first few strands of grass which marked the end of the beach and the beginnings of the thickly grouped trees, almost a jungle, which lined the shoreline. Drawing to a halt at the top of the small sandy beach, the man took off the hat which rested upon his dark head, brushing it down with his hands as he surveyed the distant waters which stretched until the end of the sky, before turning to watch his crew secure the boat to a rotting log, perhaps the remains of a ship's mast, which protruded into the air from where it was embedded in the beach itself.
A second man, this one shorter than the first, yet broader about the shoulders, left his crewmates, and came to stand beside the first figure. Dark stubble was gathered about his chin and cheeks, giving him a hard, dangerous look which contrasted sharply to the handsome, almost delicate, features of the man beside him. "Captain?" His voice matched his looks, gravely, with a hint of a threat lacing every word he spoke, even when the words themselves were grudgingly respectful.
The first man did not respond at first, instead continuing to gaze out at the unending waters, lit by sparkles of light from the morning sun. Finally, he turned to his companion. "We leave at dusk."
The second figure nodded, an indecipherable expression crawling onto his crude face as he turned to relay the instructions for the night's activities to the rest of the men gathered on the beach. The captain however, remained where he was, staring directly into the bright sunlight which stretched over the Caribbean ocean.
So, there's the first chapter! I would love to know what you all think (hopeful grin) and whether anyone's interested in reading any more of my story, so please review if you have a chance. The next chapter may not be up for a little while as I want to get most of the story written before I start posting regularly, but I just wanted to get the first chapter up before POTC2 comes out (only 6 days to go (happy dancing)), as this story is my take of events after the first film. Anyway, I'll stop babbling on now and just hope to see some reviews! Hope you enjoyed!