A Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest fanfiction
Version 2.0– Fixed some spelling errors, HTML code
Disclaimer: I don't own PotC or any of the characters mentioned herein.
DUH Alert: This fanfiction contains major spoilers for Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest. If you have yet to see it, read at your own risk.
She couldn't cry anymore. Her eyes were too sore, too red, and too dry. She'd cried all she could over a cup of who–knows–what back at Tia Dalma's, and then she'd cried some more staring at the flame of an oil lamp outside on Tia Dalma's veranda once….
'Once he showed up.'
'He' being Captain Barbossa.
Elizabeth still didn't know how or why he'd come back–well, actually, she could guess at the "why." And the "how" probably wasn't too complicated either. Tia Dalma was, after all, a voodoo witch or something. And Jack the monkey was undead, restoring the curse of the Aztec gold…there were any number of possibilities, but what it all boiled down to was that Barbossa was their only hope…for saving Jack.
'And why should I bother? Why should I–?' Elizabeth cut her own thoughts off. She felt like she was rotting away inside, rotting just like Barbossa's face used to rot in the moonlight. But here in the depths of the jungle, even a sliver of moonlight wouldn't show through. Even if Barbossa were out here on the veranda beside her, she doubted she'd find out the truth of how he'd managed to come "back to life," and here right when they needed him–a captain who'd seen the seas "at the end of the world"– the most.
"Now, it's not very becoming of a young lady to look so distressed is it?"
Elizabeth spun on her heel, unsteadily gripping the railing that separated Tia's home from the murky river waters below. Despite having thought about Barbossa only a moment before, she'd hardly expected him to emerge from Tia's house and start talking to her.
But what to say to him? Why to talk to him at all?
"Come now, you're not going to be rude to your captain now, are you? You do want to get Jack back, don't you, Miss Swann?"
Elizabeth had a sinking sensation that Barbossa knew more than he was letting on–but about what, and how she knew, she wasn't sure if she wanted to ask and find out.
"It's my fault," Elizabeth finally bit out. "I'm permitted to grieve for that, aren't I?"
Barbossa let out a sharp laugh. "Grieve for your lost innocence or grieve for Jack?"
Elizabeth fixed Barbossa with an angry stare, but if he even noticed her gaze being directed at him, he didn't show it on his own face. "No, you lost your so–called innocence long ago, the first time you had dealings with pirates," Barbossa chuckled. "And now…" he ran a knobby, jeweled finger down Elizabeth's chin, causing her to flinch, "And now you're one of us."
Elizabeth quickly whipped away, facing out to the dark waters and the deep jungles. "Please! I'm no more a pirate than you are a living, breathing man."
Quite unexpectedly, Barbossa whipped around and grabbed one of Elizabeth's hands, pressing it against the rough skin of his chest, underneath his thick captain's coat and loose shirt. Elizabeth's eyes widened after a split–second– there was a heart beating there, sure and steady. But then, Davy Jones had a beating heart too–one that resided far outside his body, and possessed powers like no other human organ had.
"You see, girl? This world is never quite what it seems," Barbossa said, his voice low and gravelly. "I'm not what I seem, and you're not what you seem. Better to come to terms with it now then be damned for the rest of your life."
Elizabeth didn't say anything in response to that–she knew what Barbossa was talking about. Cursed by her own foolishness, her damned indecision….
'I can't tell anybody!' What she'd done, and why…she felt horrible for it. But to admit to it–to say that she'd done it with the best of intentions, with perfectly good motivations, but for all the wrong reasons…how could she? Will loved her utterly; the pirates of Jack's crew actually respected her, and her father…her father had done everything for her. But what kind of a person was she to deserve any of that?
"A rotten person, that's what," Elizabeth muttered under her breath, digging her dirt–encrusted nails into her skin.
"Speaking of me or yourself, lass?" Barbossa grinned at her toothily.
"ME, if you insist on being such a pest, Captain," Elizabeth seethed. "Me."
"And what, pray tell, could such a beautiful 'innocent' lass be thinking of herself as rotten for? Did you break a nail?"
Oh, she wanted to claw him in the face!
"No! I…" Elizabeth broke off once more. She'd almost done it there. Gone and blurted it to make herself feel better, when in actuality, she knew the truth would just make things worse–worse for everyone.
"We're already going to the ends of the Earth, aren't we? To the one place you've charted there and back again…Hell, is it?" Elizabeth asked softly. "I suppose I deserve it for what I've done."
"Quite a harsh punishment you're fitting to yourself. But is it right for the crime?"
"Jack," Elizabeth started, and for a moment, Barbossa half–thought she was addressing the dead– or perhaps the monkey, but that was foolish. What did she care about undead monkeys? "What you always wanted to do to him–I did it."
Barbossa scrutinized Elizabeth with a raised eyebrow. "I think you're mistaking the sort of relationship dear old Jack and I had, missy…"
"I don't mean that!" Elizabeth shot back hotly. "I killed him. Me."
Barbossa's eyebrow raised once more, but this time more out of surprise than sarcasm. "I was under the impression that the Kraken did that job." Under his breath, Barbossa added, "But I wouldn't be surprised if Jack escaped that beast as well." Elizabeth didn't hear those last words, as she sighed deeply at the same time that Barbossa spoke.
"Do you really think Jack would have stayed aboard a sinking ship? Even the Black Pearl couldn't have meant more to him than his life." Elizabeth flopped down on the veranda, staring at the light flickering under the door of Tia Dalma's. "All Jack ever wanted was freedom," Elizabeth recalled. "The Black Pearl was his freedom for a time, but he knew that if the Pearl went down, he would too, and that would be the same as being stuck with Davy Jones in a hundred years of servitude."
She still hated Jack for having tricked her, saying that Will had been press ganged into working for Davy Jones, but she felt all the worse for believing it. This was "Captain Jack Sparrow," only out for himself, only out for what he wanted….
Elizabeth remembered seeing a look–a fleeting look, but a look nonetheless–of Jack's, when he stared into her eyes like she was what he wanted the most in the world. But it couldn't be so, and wouldn't be so– after all, on Isla Cruces, the compass had pointed not at her, but at the chest below where she'd been sitting…right?
'Stupid compass. I suppose it did end up working in the end, though….' For all her cursing that it didn't work, she knew deep inside that part of her had been ready to throw away high–society Port Royale life, filled with parties, corsets, and behavior befitting a "proper young lady of the Empire." Life at the side of a sweet, almost perfectly naive, handsome and skilled man…all for Jack Sparrow. Jack Sparrow–selfish, rude, more than a little crazy, dishonest–well, some of the time–dirty, rotten, a perfect scoundrel, and…exciting, adventurous, flirtatious….
It had all been a passing fancy anyway, but the fact that she had felt it at all–the fact that she had taken advantage of that split–second emotion, and perhaps even gotten Jack to think she fancied HIM as more than a means to an end meant Elizabeth couldn't just "forget" about it. Everything was a horrid mess now, and it all led back to Jack. And when they found him–and she was sure they would, somehow, some way–what would she do? What could she say?
'And what about Will?'
Just another reason why she couldn't say anything.
"So you're telling me that you convinced a captain to stay aboard his sinking ship? You'll forgive me, lass, if I say that I know Jack a bit better than you do, and he would have gone down with the Pearl even without you having a hand in it."
"Oh really? Then why would he order everyone to abandon ship in the first place? He could have ordered us all not to, but we would have mutinied out of fear of our lives and left anyway."
"And then there'd be even greater dishonor on your stained soul, Miss Swann," Barbossa said with particular emphasis. "Mutiny's not a matter to be taken lightly–and I would know. I didn't go to Hell for simple piracy, lass."
"So being a pirate doesn't make you damned, but betrayal does?" Elizabeth laughed hollowly. "Then it shouldn't matter whether I'm a pirate or not. If it's the ends of the Earth we're going to, I'm bound there anyway!"
"Good to know you've accepted your fate, lass," Barbossa said, a bit too loudly for Elizabeth's tastes. "But I'm still not convinced that even your pretty words changed a fate Jack had already accepted for himself."
"He went to all the trouble of deceiving everyone–including his so–called friends– to try and weasel his way out of a debt with Davy Jones," Elizabeth said with resignation. "If he'd gotten the Heart, he would have used it to have Davy Jones keep the Pearl afloat, never bothered again, and his debt of servitude released. He wouldn't have done anything else, for anyone else."
"So sure about that now, are you? Your rendition of Jack Sparrow's pretty heartless, then. Maybe even more so than Davy Jones himself." Barbossa chuckled at his own joke, but Elizabeth didn't find it amusing in the least.
"You think he stayed behind of his own will? To save us?" Elizabeth whispered. Almost as an afterthought, she added "To save me?"
"Save you, save the Pearl," Barbossa waved a hand around nonchalantly. "You know that ship means more to him–to me– than you think. If Jack said otherwise, he was lying through his rotten teeth."
Elizabeth stared up at Barbossa through bleary eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Do you really think Jack would have gotten himself in debt to Davy Jones in the first place, to resurrect some ordinary ship from the depths of the ocean, to captain an ordinary ship that would become legendary in the Caribbean? I think not."
"So what's so special about the Pearl, then?" Elizabeth asked.
"Ah, that, missy, is something you have to know for yourself."
"Like that damned compass Jack bargained off Tia Dalma?" Elizabeth queried. "Something that is different for each person?" She sighed again. These thoughts were fruitless. Pointless. STUPID!
"Something like that," Barbossa smiled mysteriously. "But you've got my attention, now. If you're all set on thinking you're going to the ends of Earth for betraying Jack, what exactly is it that you did that convinced you that you convinced him?"
Elizabeth pursed her lips. Not just Jack. No, she'd betrayed Will, her father, the crew….
Everyone. Everyone that mattered, everyone that she held dear….
"The more you prolong it, the wilder my imagination gets, lassie. I can think of all sorts of things, you know."
"You probably wouldn't be too far off, then," Elizabeth spat.
"I thought you said it wasn't that," Barbossa said, echoing Elizabeth's earlier words. "And when I was talking about your so–called innocence, I didn't exactly mean–"
"I kissed him," Elizabeth interrupted. "More than that, I made him think I had feelings for him." Barbossa didn't say anything, so Elizabeth barreled onward. "And I did, for a time, a stupidly short time when I was crazy and–I don't know–drunk off seawater."
"You don't get drunk off seawater, lass," Barbossa chuckled under his breath. "But if that's all you've done, I don't think your immortal soul's in very much danger."
"Don't you see? I betrayed everyone! I betrayed Jack–even if he managed to escape, the Kraken still destroyed the Pearl, and him with it! Everything Jack cared about most, all gone, all in one fell swoop. If there'd been another way, I would've–"
"Is that true?" Elizabeth whipped around at the sound of the voice–not Barbossa's, but Will's!
"Is it true?" Will repeated, emerging from the doorway of Tia Dalma's hut. "I'm not sorry. I heard everything."
For a minute, Elizabeth remembered why she'd had her stupid crush on Jack in the first place–here was Will, perfect Will, apologizing for nothing…
"Wait a minute, you're not sorry?"
"Not in the least," Will stated firmly, unaware that he was echoing words Elizabeth had said to Jack earlier, right after she'd kissed him, shackled him to the Pearl, and left him to die, be it by drowning or by the Kraken's maw.
"Well then, I think I'll leave you two little kiddies to your…" Barbossa made another vague gesture with his hand and retreated back into Tia Dalma's hut, a bizarre smile streaking across his weathered face. "Oh," Barbossa stuck his head out once more before either Will or Elizabeth could say a thing. "Remember, the Jewel sets sail tomorrow at first wind. Don't be late."
Somehow, Tia Dalma–or perhaps Barbossa himself, no one was quite sure of the specifics just yet–had procured a ship for them to find Davy Jones' heart, Jack Sparrow, and the Flying Dutchman with: the Jewel of the Deep. Elizabeth and Will had yet to see it, let alone know if it was worthy of sailing in or lived up to its "magnificent" name.
Barbossa then went back into the hut, leaving Elizabeth and Will alone on the veranda.
"You didn't answer my question," Will said again after a minute.
"Is what true?" Elizabeth asked. "Everything I said to Barbossa?" She didn't bother waiting for a response. "Yes. Unlike Jack," she spat out the name distastefully, "I have no reason to lie, not even to a pirate. When I go about my deceptions, I do so with more cleverness than lies and dishonesty. I suppose it's one more thing we might have in common," Elizabeth laughed blandly. It was true though–she'd never once told anyone that she loved Jack. She may have inferred it, implied it, perhaps–but all for the sake of finding Will, saving the crew, and….
'And being foolish. I was only thinking of myself, the way Jack only thought of himself. But apparently Jack did think of others, more often than I ever gave him credit for…'
If Will had heard anything of what she'd said, why would he want anything to do with her anymore? Elizabeth held her breath, waiting for the cruel words to come–how even if he went with everyone else to "save" Jack, it was really to help his father…the only family he had left. The only family he probably ever wanted, because it was the family he'd lost all those years ago….
"So…you don't love him, then?" Will asked tentatively.
Elizabeth turned and stared at him with wide, bloodshot eyes. "Love–Jack?" she spluttered, finally comprehending Will's words. "What? NO! I mean I– a passing fancy, maybe, one that lasted for all of two minutes! You're the only one I've ever loved, Will," Elizabeth added under her breath.
"Then you still want to– I mean, you don't mind if we–"
"Spit it out already, Will," Elizabeth said, a bit sharper than she'd intended.
"You still want us to be married? You still–" Will was cut off abruptly by Elizabeth suddenly rising to her feet and practically tripping into his arms, smothering his face with her messy, saltwater–scented hair. But he didn't mind in the slightest, not when this is what he'd wanted ever since he was old enough to know the sweetness in Elizabeth's smile, or the light dancing in her eyes…
"You never proposed to me properly, you know," Elizabeth said, her voice muffled by her clothes and Will's, along with some unfortunately unsuppressed sobs.
"Elizabeth," Will pushed her away gently, sure to keep his gaze fixed on hers. "Will you do me–this naive, boring, would–be pirate– the honor of becoming your husband? Will you marry me?"
"Oh, Will…" She never quite expected him to phrase it like that, but for all the sincerity in his eyes, for all the feeling he put–into something as simple as a hug, into four simple words that she'd wanted to hear ever since she was thirteen and old enough to recognize Will's innate handsomeness. Oh, she wanted him so badly….
"Why is it that being good–pure–hearted, honest, and true–gets you nowhere, and being dishonest, despicable and cruel gets you nowhere, too? It seems so matter what you do, you're condemned somehow," Elizabeth mumbled, recalling how she'd told Jack that she was so ready to be married. And she had been–then, and she was now. But did she even deserve that kind of happiness anymore, after what she'd done? Would rejecting Will be for his sake, to not drag him down with her, or for her own peace of mind?
"That's not true, Elizabeth," Will said. "You did what was right."
"What I thought was right," Elizabeth corrected him. "But I can't go back and change what I did or how, could I? Even if there was somehow a way to save him…"
"There is, Elizabeth. And we'll find it, even if we have to team up with Barbossa to do it…but, there is one thing."
"What is it?" Elizabeth asked, wiping her face with her sleeve. Will tugged on her hand, and Elizabeth realized that Will was still kneeling on bended knee, clearly waiting for her answer to his 'proposal.'
In an instant, Elizabeth made up her mind: they would save Jack, she'd redeem herself, and Will wouldn't get dragged down by her foolish decisions. She'd go with him to the ends of the Earth to save Jack and Will both.
"You silly git, of course I'll marry you!" She closed the distance between them and relished in the feeling of being in Will's arms again…something that felt so right, even with everything else lately that had gone wrong–whether inside herself, or outside, with others.
"If you'll still have me, wretched wench that I am," Elizabeth said, with only a note of sincerity in her voice. It was clear she still felt horrible about what she'd done.
"I saw it," Will said after a moment, looking thoughtful. "I saw you kiss him, and I thought you loved him. Thought you were saying goodbye, because of course Jack would go down with the Pearl."
"'Of course'…?" Elizabeth echoed. Barbossa had said the same thing–that the Pearl meant more to Jack than Elizabeth could ever comprehend, and he would have gone down with it no matter what Elizabeth had done or said, or what orders he gave. Did that mean he cared about them after all, and would have saved them after all–without Elizabeth's intervention? He had come back of his own accord, hadn't he?
Curiosity about heroism…?
"And then, when Tia asked if you were willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find him and you agreed, well…"
"Because I felt wretched about what I'd done. About how I'd gone about it. Part of me remembers that Jack was smiling at me the whole time, even after I'd shackled him to his ship. But…Will, was it really because he'd planned it that way all along? That he really was going to save us, and not just himself?"
"There's only one way to find out," Will smiled. "We'll have to get him back and ask, won't we?"
Elizabeth laughed–her first genuine laugh ever since she saw the Black Pearl devoured by the Kraken with her own two eyes.
"Yes. Yes we will."
I thought about changing the title, but nothing else I could come up with fit. In this instance, I'll go with my gut. "Complex" meaning the situation is much more complex than anyone realizes, and "complex," meaning the guilt complex Elizabeth has in this story, over what she's done and what she can do to redeem herself, if she even can/wants to.