Summary: Post-PotC:DMC. Elizabeth participates in a spell of Tia's to locate and speak with Jack Sparrow, requiring the use of the last person to touch him while alive.
Characters: Elizabeth, Tia, Jack (others mentioned)
Chapters: 1, words: 4220
Disclaimer: I'm not stealing these character from Disney, just borrowing, borrowing without permission. For personal, not commercial, purposes.
They were given straw mats on which to sleep, anywhere they pleased in the vicinity of Tia's hut, outside on the labyrinth of small docks, or inside if they could find a place to roll out. Inside was preferable thanks to the mosquitoes that were attracted to the river, and most of the crew, after surprised grumbling that Barbossa was actually going to lead them in a rescue mission for Jack, settled down to sleep under the light gauze they'd been given as a minimal defense against the stinging insects.
But Elizabeth couldn't sleep. She saw Will – perhaps five feet away – in the darkened back room, and she could tell from watching him that he was asleep. Her tears had dried but she still felt miserable. She wondered if he'd seen. She'd been wondering it for the last several hours but was too afraid to know the answer. After another restless period of tossing and turning on her mat she sat up, and stepped carefully over her sleeping crew-mates, heading for the front room.
A candle burned and it drew her, as though she were one of the many insects that fluttered about the cramped space. She walked toward it and as she came out of the doorway, she saw Tia was still awake, sitting at her table.
"I know you mus' be tired," Tia said in her lilting drawl. "So it is somet'ing else dat keeps you awake."
Elizabeth looked at her. She blinked, but said nothing.
"Sit down," the witch said, and Elizabeth obeyed, finding a chair as far across the room as possible. "Tell me what troubles you. Even though I t'ink I know."
"You can't possibly," Elizabeth said, a little more coolly than she'd meant to. Tia's eyes were dark and warm as they rested on her face.
Tia chuckled. "Oh, can't I? I am a womann, girl. A womann can al-ways know."
Elizabeth sniffed. "All right, then. You tell me."
"You are diff'rent dan de others. Dey onlay wannt to find Jack Spar-row. But you... you wannt to find him, and at the same time, are terrified to find him."
Elizabeth looked back at the wise woman, watching the candlelight flicker over her cocoa skin, and felt her eyes were filling with tears, again. How did she know? How could she? "Yes. Perhaps I am."
"Good," Tia said, and Elizabeth furrowed her brows. It was not good.
"Perhaps you would feel better if you could onlay talk to him, girl, hm? Talk to him and know that he is all right in the Underworld? Or... perhaps ask him, or tell him somet'ing you did not say while he lived... hmm?"
Elizabeth's head fell forward. "Yes. I do wish that."
"It need not be a wish. Dere is a spell."
Her head rose, slowly. "A spell?"
"Yes," Tia said, her head angling to the side so she could peer at Elizabeth through lowered lids. "But it requires someone. You may have to wake this person, can you do that?"
"Yes," Elizabeth said, without hesitation. "Yes, who is it? Who do we need?"
"We need," and Tia rose to get something from a jar – Elizabeth could not see what – and turned her back to Elizabeth, "de person who last touch Jack Sparrow while he lived."
Elizabeth felt her blood run cold. "Touched him? How?"
"I do not know," said Tia in a teasing tone that rather seemed to indicate the opposite. "Touch his skin. Touch his face. Shake his hand. Or fight with him. That person mus' join me at de table for de spell."
Elizabeth took a deep breath, sighed, and got up. She walked to the table and sat down, looking at Tia with a challenge in her eyes.
"So, it's you?" Tia almost whispered, and Elizabeth regarded her defiantly in the candlelight.
"Very well," Tia said, and reached for one of her hands. Elizabeth allowed her to take it, looking at the contrast of their skin: hers alabaster, and Tia's shallow-river color. She felt a sense of power in that hand, and she was a little frightened as well as fascinated. Dark-skinned people had touched her before... a few ladies' maids in their house, their cooks... but never as an equal, as a friend. She felt her palm begin to sweat, as the witch inspired a certain amount of fear that had nothing to do with skin, but she told herself to relax.
Tia pressed a stone into her hand, a stone wrapped in a large, dry leaf.
"De spell works like dis: you touch de stone to your hand, or your arm or wherever you touched Jack, and then you hold it over the candle, letting the leaf catch fire. You must hold it, even though it burns. De pain will not be much. Hold it, and when the fire reaches the stone, and your hand, you will see Jack."
"See him... here?" Elizabeth said as she desperately tried to remember if she'd broken their kiss before she touched his wrist, or if that were after... she couldn't let anyone know what she'd done... perhaps it was all useless.
"No. You will go to him."
"I'm going... to the Underworld?" Elizabeth said with a gasp.
"No. There will be a place. De last place you saw him alive. Dere, your spirits will meet. Now, touch de stone to de place where you touch Jack Spar-row, and I will say de spell. Go on, child."
Elizabeth was frozen in her chair. The humidity of the night surrounded her, making it hard for her to breathe. "I... I can't remember which hand I used. Does it matter?"
Tia regarded her with a knowing look. "The las' place you touch him. Dere, his spirit is on your skin." Elizabeth closed her eyes, mortified. She still held her secret. It was not too late. She could abort this, now.
"I mus' close my eyes while I say de spell, child," came Tia's voice, then. Elizabeth chanced another look, and she saw the other woman's eyes were, in fact, closed. "Touch de stone and we will begin."
Watching carefully, Elizabeth began to raise the leaf-wrapped stone to her face. She did it slowly, very slowly, watching Tia the entire time. The stone was within an inch of her mouth, and Tia's eyes were still closed. She lifted it to her lips, brushed them across the papery, dry leaf.
Tia's eyes opened. But she said nothing and began to chant, and Elizabeth wondered if she saw her even though her eyes were open. Tia's chanting was low and seductive and earthy, and Elizabeth held the stone out above the candle, lowering it into the flame. A smoke rose from the crisping leaf, filling the air, and Elizabeth's throat burned when she inhaled it. The dry leaf caught, and the lit edge began to move toward the palm of her hand. When it reached her, it was searing hot and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. She gripped the stone harder, and looked at Tia who was chanting more rhythmically now, faster, repeating the same word over and over... and Elizabeth felt herself falling, falling backward in the chair, and her last thought before everything went black was... perhaps now I can rest.
She was kissing Jack.
Her lips were against his, and she was reaching around with her left hand to smooth his hair, and with her right... she felt the cool metal of the manacle. For a moment she was disoriented, dreaming perhaps, and she kissed Jack again, tasting him one last time, never wanting to stop. But she did stop, and pulled away with closed eyes, and that's when she remembered the stone... the burning, the spell. Tia's hut. Jack was dead.
She lifted her face away and opened her eyes. Jack was looking at her.
"Hello, love," he said, and his voice was a hoarse whisper.
"Jack," she said, her eyebrows raised, looking at his face. He looked just as she remembered him. Not scarred, not swollen with water... not dead. Alive. "Are you...?"
"Dead," he said, with a finality that pulsed through her chest and weakened her, and she told herself to breathe as she stood there. She glanced around, and saw they were exactly where they had been on the Pearl, hours before. The Pearl wasn't broken and sunk, her masts stood, and everything was eerily quiet. She knew it wasn't real, wasn't the real Pearl, but it still was comforting to see it. There was no one else. They were alone. She looked back at Jack, who still regarded her silently. She'd never seen him silent. She couldn't stand it.
"Do you remember... how?"
"How I died, you mean?"
She nodded, unable to speak.
"Yes," he said, eyeing her face with a bit of a spark in his eye. "Mouth of the Kraken I could do without. Yours, on the other hand, I would happily experience again."
She blushed, even though she remembered she wasn't really there, wasn't really talking to Jack and she was asleep on Tia's floor. "So you don't hate me, after all?"
"How could I hate a woman after my own heart?"
"I wouldn't go that far, Jack. I only did what I had to."
"I know. That's what makes you like me."
She sighed. "I suppose you're glad, then, that I've done something dreadful?"
"No," she breathed, and looked into his eyes again. "I feel awful."
"That will pass. It always does."
She scoffed aloud, and noticed that he actually smiled, a big gold grin. "Don't get so confident that you've made a pirate out of me," she said in a teasing tone.
"Someone's got to be, now that I'm gone," he responded in the same tone.
"No. No, that's what I wanted to tell you," she said, moving close to him again, lifting a hand to his cheek. "There's a way out of this. We're coming to find you."
"Gibbs and the crew. Will and myself. And..." she broke off, unsure how to tell him.
"And we needed a guide. So Tia told us that there was someone who knew where to go. And he came out and it was... it was Barbossa."
Jack's eyes widened. "What? He's supposed to be dead!"
"Perhaps he was. Perhaps being dead is more temporary than I've always thought," she said, drawing up close to him to feel the warmth of his body through his clothes. "We can hope. Can't we?"
His free arm came to wrap around her, and he drew her against him, pressing his cheek against her hair. "It's wonderful of you all to try and save me, but I'll be all right. You can't put your own fates in Barbossa's hands. He's a monster."
"But Tia – "
"Tia's not everything she seems, either. Gibbs should know better. He's not thinking straight. But you should, Lizzy. Go back and tell them there's no deal."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"I don't bloody well want to be rescued. I had my chance. I did my deeds. It's over now. I'm at peace."
"Peace!" she nearly shrieked, pulling her head back to look at him. "You can't be serious."
"Why not? Everything's settled. I paid my debt. The Pearl was nice while I had her. Gibbs will find another ship. You... you're free to go and marry Will, now."
At the mention of that she hung her head, before raising it to look at Jack with a new fire in her eyes. "I don't know if that's going to happen."
Jack didn't pretend not to know which she meant. "Really? And why is that?"
She hedged. "Lots of reasons. He's sworn to save his father from the Dutchman. We're journeying off to save you. More delays."
"Delays are just delays, Elizabeth. You'll marry him eventually. House. Children. That's how it works."
"That's not everything."
"It isn't?" he said with another teasing glint in his eye.
"You know it's not," she said in a light whisper, the pitch of her voice falling as she lifted her chin.
"Hmm," Jack said, looking at her. "Having second thoughts, are we? Feel free to pour out your heart to me, Lizzy. After all, I'm dead. You know what they say about dead men." Then he paused. "If you haven't come after me, yet, what are you doing here?"
"It's a spell of Tia's," she told him, still feeling lost in his dark eyes, usually dancing, now sad. "It's not real."
"Wonderful. Let's unchain me, then, shall we? Might make for a more friendly chat. Unless, of course, having me chained up makes it more interesting for you."
"I..." She looked around. "I don't have the key."
"In the armory, behind you. Over there."
She frowned at him, and then turned to walk across the silent deck. A wind touched her cheeks, lifting her hair. It felt real... but she reminded herself it wasn't, and opened the door to the closet, seeing a rack of keys. She withdrew several and brought them back. "I don't know which – "
"That one," he said confidently, picking one from her hand.
"You certainly know your manacles," she said dryly, as he reached around to unlock himself.
He grinned at her as they fell with an auspicious clink to the deck. "I ought to." Then he nodded at her, indicating they should walk, and she felt his hand on her back, guiding her toward the deck stairs. They sat, in precisely the same place where they had shared a bottle of rum, less than a week before. "Tell me about this spell," Jack said, settling down and taking a deep breath.
"Nothing to tell. A stone. A candle. Magic stuff... chanting."
He regarded her a bit suspiciously, but did not argue. "And how long will it last?"
"I don't know... I didn't ask. I think I'm asleep."
"So am I," he said, raising his eyes out to sea.
"Jack, listen," she said, sliding closer to him. "Of course you're going to be rescued. We're leaving tomorrow to get you."
"Why?" Jack said, then, turning his eyes on her face. "Why?"
"Well, don't be silly!" she said, searching his unusually calm face. "We want you back."
"We?" he said again, and when his eyes met hers they sparkled with amusement.
She felt her cheeks burn. Couldn't meet his eyes, looked down at her hands. "I. I want you... back."
"Really. Then am I invited to the wedding?" he said flippantly.
"You are as likely to be invited to it, as it is to occur," she responded, still examining her fingernails.
"Now there's a double-edged remark, if I've ever heard one."
Silence fell upon them as she had run out of things to say, or rather, that all the things she thought of saying were equally horrid and humiliating, and thus, impossible to say. She hadn't realized it, but she'd been hoping Jack would be angry – rage at her, try to strike her, anything except this complacent calm. She'd condemned him to die, hadn't she? And he was just going to let her?
"Aren't you going to repay me for what I did?" escaped her lips before she'd thought the better of it.
He turned eyes on her that were alert, curious. "Repay you? As in, punish you?"
A grin lit his features again. "Only if you want me to, love."
She sensed some innuendo, but let it pass. "It seems strange that you're not angry. I tricked you and betrayed you."
"Quite well, too." He sighed, looking out to sea again. "I suppose I ought to be angry. Threaten you, shake you or something. But it doesn't matter, now."
"Well of course it matters! We're getting you. You're coming home."
"No, I'm not." His tone was dark, firm.
She stared at him, open-mouthed. She felt her temper rising, pushed it down, but not before she had set her jaw. "You are a coward."
"Beg pardon?" he said, turning back to her.
"A coward. Always running away from challenges. You think coming back's going to be awful, so you're trying to avoid it. But you have to come back. We need you back."
"We?" he said again, and this time he leaned closer and trailed a hand down the side of her face, and she closed her eyes and turned her cheek into it. It was warm. Solid, real flesh. Jack.
She could barely speak, but she choked out the words. "I... I need you, back."
He sighed with a sort of rumble in his chest, and she was afraid to open her eyes because she knew he was close, very close, to her. She told herself it wasn't real, it didn't matter, but it seemed real and it did matter, suddenly, very much.
Her eyes opened. Jack was leaning in to kiss her. Her eyes closed.
When his lips touched hers, this time, there was no sudden bursting of all the barrels containing the emotions she'd kept so carefully separate; fear, longing, passion, remorse, affection, and they'd all spilled their contents together as she kissed Jack repeatedly, making sure he took steps backward toward the mast of the Pearl. Before. But this time, the kiss was like a slow leak... a gradual pouring in of Jack, lips and taste and tongue, and she thought she was being filled by him, and just as water finds all the low places you didn't know where there, he was finding the hidden areas in her mouth, in her soul, and covering them with himself.
When he pulled away she was trembling, to her dismay. She wet her lips with her tongue, still tasting Jack.
"Why don't you and Will forget about me, and then you can have lots of that – " Jack tapped her lip with a brown finger – "instead of delaying your wedding for this bloody stupid rescue idea."
She exhaled, surprised at how ragged her breathing sounded. "You think that's all I'm after?"
"Oh, I know it is."
"You know nothing about me," she said bitterly, dragging her hand across her mouth and folding her arms across her chest. "I'd go to the ends of the earth for the man I love."
He regarded her again, lifting a single black eyebrow almost into his weathered red scarf. "So you have already proved. Go home, then. You've won him."
"I don't know about that," she said, looking back at him. "Perhaps I'm still in the process of winning him, as you say. I'm not even sure I want to marry him. But I will face danger in order to save him."
"Will you, indeed?" Jack answered, and the duplicitous nature of her words seemed to surround them, making the sunlight and shadow flicker, alternately light and dark. "Tell me, Elizabeth. Would you have chained your dear Will to a sinking ship, in order to save everyone else?"
She sniffed. "Honestly. If it were Will, I wouldn't have had to."
"Why? Because he'd never have put all of you in danger in the first place? Or because he'd have willingly – no pun intended – gone down with the ship?"
She was quiet for a moment. "Both."
"And that's why you need to call off this rescue, and be on your way back home. Have a lovely wedding. But I won't be there, I'm afraid."
She turned toward him again, her frustration growing. "I can't believe what I'm hearing. A week ago, I'd have thought you'd dance a jig at the idea of Will and I breaking off our engagement."
"And why is that?"
"You know why," she said, and smiled mysteriously, leaning closer to him again.
"Don't be foolish, Lizzy," he said, and gently pushed her shoulders back. "I shall rest very comfortably knowing you are snug in bed with your blacksmith."
"What if I don't want to be?"
"No, snug in... bed," and that was as far as she got before he was closing the space between them, again, and his lips were upon hers, and this time, no slow leak, but a cannon shot, blowing lots of nice little holes in her insides as she reached up around his neck to pull him closer, as he deeply explored every bit her of her mouth. And yet again, he pulled away.
She whimpered in protest. "I know it's not real, but..."
"Oh, it's real enough. As real as we make it."
"Jack..." she knew her voice was pleading, plaintive... "You have to come back. I know how to deal with you. Let's make a bargain."
He flashed a smile at her. "You can't bargain. You don't have anything I want."
"Not true," she said, and laid a hand above his collar, sliding her fingers inside. She felt a little tremor, a tiny spasm in the muscles, there.
"That's not something you can bargain with," he said, looking at her through lowered lids.
"I no longer care if you have it. Take it," she said, curling her fingers against his shoulder.
"It's not mine to take."
"No. It is mine to give. But I can't give it to you, if you don't come back."
He looked at her suspiciously, as well he should have, for she had no real intention of awarding him that which she was promising. But he couldn't know that, and once he returned, it would be too late. He would understand.
"Would you lie to me, I wonder," he murmured, turning his body toward her. "Would you lie to me to get me to come back?"
She closed her eyes to hide the deception in them, and shook her head slowly, from side to side.
"Oh, yes, I think you would," he said in a low tone that sizzled like a fuse. "And I'm not sure if I should be overjoyed that you're willing to say anything to get to me to rejoin the living, or horrified that you think you can fool Jack Sparrow with your pretense of seduction, again."
"There's no pretense," she said softly, still not opening her eyes. "I'm curious, as you said."
"And I'm the convenient solution, is that it?"
"Hardly. You are dead."
"And if I weren't?"
"Then..." and she wrapped her arms around his neck again, feeling the wiry yet soft texture of his hair beneath her hands, "then, we would have a deal, wouldn't we, Jack?"
"I shall hold you to this promise, you realize," he said, still peering at her through dark lashes. She swallowed, nervously. The consequences would be dealt with later. "Will – he'll eventually know, if you follow through with it."
"It doesn't matter. I'm not going to marry him," she lied, making sure to hold Jack's eyes.
"My little pirate," he said, leaning in to kiss her again. She wondered if he meant that she was morally corrupt for participating in such lewdness while engaged to another man, or if he really knew that she was only playing her hand the best she could, luring him back to life with promises she'd no intention of keeping. But then he'd have to know that she really did care about him, really couldn't stand the thought of him dying or dead, and then didn't that put yet another spin on the entire situation?
And this kiss, different from the others, too. At first it was a melding, a union, but then it became something else... she felt drained, emptied, and it was a pulling out, a sailing away. A goodbye. He parted their lips and sat back, away from her.
"I'm starting to feel sleepy. I think the spell is ending," he said, sounding disappointed.
"Yes, I think you're right," she answered, feeling an unaccustomed languor in her limbs. Then desperation seized her, and she caught hold of his arm. "Promise me. Promise you'll come back when we find you! Promise me!"
He only looked at her, but whether it was with acquiescence or polite resignation, she wasn't certain. And then she realized his face was fading, the Pearl was fading, and still she could feel his arm under her hand. His wrist, where the manacle had been. Her thumb and forefinger were wrapped around that arm, that wrist. She refused to let go. She would pull him back to life. She would... she would...
There was an arm beneath her shoulders. A woman's arm, and she was being lifted up, till she was sitting up straight. She opened her eyes. The table, the chair. The darkness broken by a few candles.
She looked up at Tia, who was lifting her beneath her arms and guiding her to the chair. Everything was dizzying.
"My child, I t'ink you should rest, now," Tia said, almost tenderly. Elizabeth used her hands to steady herself on the table as she rose, and held on to various objects and pieces of furniture for balance as she made her way out of the room.
Rest? She would not rest. She couldn't rest. Not till they found Jack.