Author's Note: Hey guys, SC here. From now on, I'll be writing the story myself for a while. Just a heads up. Enjoy.
Ohh, also, almost forgot. The song at the end of the chapter is to the tune playing in Davy Jones' locket.
Chapter 4: Trinket
The moment Cherise set foot on the ground in Tortuga, she had the dawning feeling her troubles were only beginning. Jack, on the other hand, walked ahead confidently, humming a common pirate tune. His gait almost had a small bounce to it, and Cherise could foretell why. Before her eyes stood the most disorganized town she had ever dreamed of staying away from. To her left, a small path led into the distance, barred on one side by cliffs and on the other by a palm tree forest. Just beyond the forest started the taverns, shops, and alleys, occupied by drunken laughter and an acrid stench of rum. Finally, to the right was a small port where the crew was now rushing to tie up the Black Pearl, the faster to get to the liberating elixir served by the welcoming hostesses.
In her abstraction, Cherise had lost track of her situation and consequently lost sight of Jack. She scanned the surroundings for a tall swaying figure and, sure enough, found him still walking down the street, almost to the first taverns. For the lack of another option, she ran after him.
"Jack!" she called, finally catching up. He swung around with a disoriented look.
"Hmm? Oh, you." His face seemed to come into focus with the realization. "Be a dear and stay in your cabin, savvy?" He promptly wheeled around again and resumed walking.
Cherise stared at him for a moment. "Wha... that's not fair! I'm coming with you!"
He raised an eyebrow as she caught up to him for the second time. "Didn' take you for one with a taste for rum..."
"I don't. Drink rum, that is."
"Oh. Then why are you still following me?"
"B-because..." Cherise paused. Why am I still following him? "Because... uh... because, since you insist I journey with you on your boat," Jack stopped dead in his tracks. "—Ship! I meant ship. Since you insist I stay on your ship, I need supplies."
He recommenced his odd stride with a confused look on his face. "Like what?"
"Well... clothes, books, and some decent food, for one."
He chuckled. "Luv, you do not seriously expect there to be a bookstore in Tortuga, do you? Most of the people here don't even know how to read. But I suppose we'll see what we can do about the other two tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? We're staying here for the entire day?"
"Well... what am I to do here!"
"Like I said, get back to the ship and stay in your cabin. This is no place for a lass like you."
"I will not! Besides, if I leave, how are you to make sure I won't run away?" The path by the cliffs... it had to lead somewhere where she could hide for the night, and then the next morning she could perhaps catch a decent, respectable ship to take her back to Port-Au-Prince. Yeah, right.
He motioned to the sparkling lights of the town, which they had now reached. "I trust you won't do that, luv, because Tortuga is a city you would not want to get lost in. However, since you insist on trailing me, do come into the tavern." He opened a heavy wooden door, poorly held together with a few bars of iron. "And watch yourself."
Cherise picked up her skirt and marched in with a resolute face, determined that she would not be tempted by the errant gratifications of pirate life. However, the moment her foot touched the ground in the establishment, she felt as if a wave of delirium had swept right through her and left her swaying in its open waters. Her ears numbed with the roar of laughter, off-key singing, and banging of various metal objects. She felt feverish; the air was thick with alcohol and choking perfumes and it all went straight to her head, making her stumble back at Jack. Fortunately, he was completely unfazed by the revelry and steadied her shoulders, speaking close to her ear so she could hear. "I told you to watch yourself, lassie. It's innocent ones like you who get seduced by the dark pleasures of Tortuga first. You sure you don't want to go back to that cabin?"
She swallowed hard and shook her head. Meanwhile, a stout-looking man with a maroon scarf around his head approached Jack with two jugs of beer. "Eey, if it ain' Jack Sparrow, me ol' mate!"
Jack let go of Cherise and greeted the man cheerfully. "Kotz, ha'nt seen you in ages! You still in the scouting business?"
"Aye, an' I'll tell ye, i's goin' good. Jus' the other day..." Cherise quickly tuned out of their conversation as they disappeared into the crowd. Hesitantly drifting to lean her back on a nearby pole, she watched the scene continue buzzing around her. In the middle, by the tables, was the self-proclaimed dance floor, and against the other wall was a small ensemble of musicians playing merry tributes to their own drunkenness. Over on the other side, a small bar with an extensive selection of bottles. Cherise noted a few barmaids in colorful skirts and sparse corsets, chemises slipping down their shoulders, bustling about the customers and flirting. When someone offered her a drink, she accepted absent-mindedly. The burning liquid slipped easily down her throat and mellowed her reflexes even further, while the music and occasional roars of laughter served to jolt her awake.
She barely acknowledged the tipsy breath on her throat until it spoke and snapped her out of her trance. "You gonna pay for that drink, lass? Or should I?"
"Oh!" She snapped her head in fright to look into a rough face contorted with a wicked grin and dropped the cup.
He laughed a repulsive chesty howl and towered above her, an oversized gold earring dangling in one of his ears. "'Ats the way it works 'round 'ere. I get ye somethin' you want," he paused and looked her up and down, "Ye get me somethin' I want..."
Cherise drew away as much as the pole behind her would allow. "I... I..."
"Wha's the matter, darlin'? Didn' anyone tell you nothin's e'er free?"
She felt her heart race as she gripped the pole behind herself. "I-I'm sorry... p-please..." she gulped, petrified. "S-surely another arrangement can be made..."
The man's eyebrows furrowed in anger. "Wench, don' you think 'bout skippin' out on me!"
She squirmed as his fingers dug into the flesh of her arm, too terrified to be repulsed by his damp breath on her skin or the weight of his revolting heap of a body pressing against her delicate frame. "No! No, please, d-don't..." As his sickening face advanced towards hers, she sunk down against the pole and turned away, shutting her eyes tightly. "I'm sorry..."
Suddenly, she heard a thud and felt his claws release her. She looked up, for the first time honestly glad to see a pirate's face. "Jack! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to..."
Ignoring her, he turned the man over to face him from the floor. "Mate, the lady said 'no.'" With a quick swish, Jack's cutlass was pointing right to his throat as the drunken man eyed it in fear.
"C-captain Jack Sparrow." He swallowed and smirked. "I figured ye was already done wit' 'er."
The look in Jack's eyes, hidden from everyone but Cherise by his hat, burned with rage, which he carefully channeled and concentrated in the tip of his sword. Even through his swaying mode and posture, he was outright intimidating. "She happens to be important cargo and a key possession on the Black Pearl. If I catch your dirty paws on my property ever again..." he pressed the end of the sword menacingly into the man's throat. "...I will personally remove them, savvy?" With an angry huff, he put the cutlass away and the crowd gradually returned to its normal state.
Cherise didn't remember what happened next as her feet carried her down the road back toward the ocean. Somehow she had managed to slip away unnoticed and rushed toward the water. She felt hot tears burn at the back of her eyes. She reached the port and turned right, down the moonlit path she saw earlier. Anywhere was better than where she had just come from.
She kept running until she collapsed on the cold ground, exhausted, and saw the port not all too far away in the distance. She had only run a few hundred meters down the road, but couldn't think straight because of all the confusion. She hit the ground angrily with her fist and gave in to quiet sobs.
'Property? Possession?' She hissed furiously, unable to shake the feeling that she'd just been brutally betrayed. 'He's a pirate. What did you expect? A bouquet of lilies?' More tears rushed to her eyes. 'But he seemed decent, if just for a moment. He did, after all, save me.' She clutched at her heart bitterly. 'Yet I am nothing more than a trinket to him. He saved his asset. He said in time I will be of value to him! And I had almost begun to trust him...' Disgusted and crestfallen, she covered her face with her hands.
"Cherise --" She didn't need to lift her head -- she knew the voice. He had followed her here. "Come back immediately!"
She glared at him and stood, picking up her skirt defiantly. He waved, beckoning her from his place near the beginning of the path by the port. He was quite a distance away. Bitter and, though she wouldn't admit to herself, hurt, she turned on her heels and ran the other way as fast as she could.
"Cherise! Wait! Damnit."
She glanced over her shoulder to find that he had taken off after her and was quickly gaining. Nevertheless, she only clutched her skirt tighter and kept running.
"Bloody hell, STOP ALREADY!" Echoed his voice behind her.
Cherise fought to suppress her overwhelming emotions and channel her sorrow into sprinting faster, but he was undeniably stronger and quicker. It wasn't long before he was right on her heels.
"Stop chasing me!" she yelled angrily over her shoulder.
"I can't do that, so stop running away!"
She turned around to yell some more but had miscalculated how close behind her he was and was rapidly knocked off her feet. Still fuming, she struggled against the weight on top of her, scratching and beating it randomly with her fists. "Oh, that is just..." he caught her arms, "not very... nice..." He paused to flip his hair out of his eyes when she started to twist and turn violently, attempting to throw him off herself. They rolled over a few times in the dirt before she almost succeeded, but he managed to restrain her long enough to sit on top of her and pin her arms down by her sides. After seeing that her struggle was becoming fruitless, she gave up and lay still. Jack uttered an exasperated sigh of relief.
"You are starting to become more of a hassle than I imagined. Unfortunately, I still require your services, so I cannot simply leave you here." He pursed his lips, annoyed. "Therefore, it would be of much assistance to me and yourself if you would at least attempt to cooperate." Here, he paused, noticing that her eyes were shut tightly and her cheeks glistened with tears. "Oy, what is it? Are you hurt?"
She only turned her head farther away.
He let go of her arms to gesture ostentatiously. "Luv, was it somethin' I said?"
She opened her eyes to glare at him and he shrank back, realizing that his joke had not come at a right time. After a few hiccupping breaths, she spoke coldly. "As a matter of fact, it was. I am not your property."
He rolled his eyes. "Oh, you're mad about that. Would you rather be the property of that man in the tavern?"
It was her turn to avert her eyes.
"Look, luv, it's only pirate talk, but frankly you are in my possession, in a way. Though rest assured, you are much more than simple property." He leaned forward to emphasize it. "Much more than simple property."
Cherise felt cornered, staring back at a face that both threatened and protected her. For a moment, his features seemed to alleviate with an unexpected softness. What his words meant, she could not possibly know yet, but although he was not letting her free, she had the feeling she wasn't sure she wanted to run away anymore. Forthrightly, she felt attached, if only for that one moment until her mind kicked in, waving a big red flag. 'No... this is ridiculous! Cherise, wake up!' She turned away, and so did he, to get off her and stand up. It was over as quickly as it had come.
She reached out her hand and he pulled her to her feet. Immediately, pain shot through her forehead and everything began to spin. Finding it somewhat difficult to breathe, she swayed and fell so that he barely caught her. She blinked her eyes in confusion.
"I don't understand..." it was a strain to focus on speaking coherently. "What's happening to me?"
He looked at her seriously for a moment, then touched the back of his hand to her burning cheeks. Nodding, he replied knowingly, "How much did you drink?"
She struggled to hold herself upright and remember the events of the night. "A... cup?"
He chuckled in a kind of cheerless sympathetic amusement. "And I take it you've never drunk rum before."
She shook her head in confirmation.
"It'll be one hell of a morning tomorrow," he muttered under his breath. With a sigh, he picked her up, ignoring a surprised gasp and a resulting groan as her hand shot up to her forehead. Swaying slightly from side to side as usual, he began walking back to Tortuga, humming under his breath.