Disclaimer:Pirates of the Caribbean does not belong to me, no matter how much I wish it were true. sniff
A/N: I'm a over week late with this. My muse and I have been playing hide and seek for the past few weeks, and she refused to give up. Anyway, my soundtrack while (re)writing this chapter was Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars, Make This Go On Forever, Set Fire to the Third Bar,and Open Your Eyes. Whether it's noticeable or not, each song left their mark on this chapter. On that note (oh look, a pun!), I hope you enjoy this. Reviews are most welcome, and thank you for reading.
Candlelight flickered across the bulkhead, casting an iridescent glow. The day had long since dwindled away, taking the sun with it, and shadows had seeped into the room, dancing around its edges.
Elizabeth had asked Jack to tell her everything, and he did not disappoint. For hours they sat, shoulder-to-shoulder and leaning against the headboard, as he weaved the long and winding tale that was Jonathon Beckett. A rum bottle, that he had produced from somewhere in the folds of his bedding, passed between them as he told her of his many adventures. Quietly, she had listened to his voice has he spoke of things she was certain he had never told anyone before.
"My mother was with child, trying to barter passage back to London when the Navy caught up to her in Nassau. I was born a few weeks earlier than expected, and they hung her the next day. It was six days later that my uncle's ship came into port and with it a stay of execution signed by the King."
"Arthur and Isabelle didn't have any children when they took me in. They raised me as if I was their own son. I was treated like a crown prince for four years. Then Cutler came along, and it all went to hell."
"Bloody Cuddy was nothing more than a spoiled little bugger that looked down his nose at anyone he thought below his class, present company included. The fact that I was the bastard son of a pirate and considered family bothered him to no end, and he made it his mission in life to remind me of that every day. That, of course, did not trouble me in the least, seeing as I, the lowly commoner, was set to inherit a lofty sum of the Beckett estate, to which I reminded him of most often."
"I knew from the time I was a boy that my life was at sea. Uncle Arthur had taken both of us lads out on his flagship many times over the years. Cuddy would follow his father into the cabin, complaining about the sea air or some other foolish thing. But me, I was right at home on deck. I knew then that there was no other place I'd rather be than at the helm a ship that was my own."
"The little bastard thought he'd finally won when my uncle told us that I wasn't allowed to join the Company because of some such nonsense about my father being wanted by the Crown. It was all politics. Cuddy was given a commission on board the flagship under the watchful eye of his father, and I was left looking for work on small-time merchant ships, anything that would get me out to sea."
"I'd been sailing on the Charming Molly for just over a year, when I first saw her. She was dock down near the rest of the EITC ships, done up in that ugly red colour my uncle was so fond of, and not quite finished. But I could tell she was a beauty. There was something mysterious about her. I knew right then that I had to have her."
"After some careful negotiations with my uncle, she was mine; under the contractual conditions I only do business with the EITC. I was captain of my own ship. All I needed was a crew, which was easy enough to find in England. After I commandeered a handful of my old crewmates from the Charming Molly, including one Bill Turner, the rest came easily enough."
"Right before the maiden voyage, I christened her the Wicked Wench, for the iniquitous way she'd pillaged my heart."
The legend that was Captain Jack Sparrow was slowly stripped bare, and in it's place was the man she had always seen. So many different stories, that all came together to make the man that was here with her now.
Elizabeth found herself relaxing more and more as the tale went on. At some point, her head had found it's way onto his shoulder. The combination of rum and the rhythm of his voice had lulled her into a state of lethargy.
She smiled as she listened to him ramble on about his days as Captain of the Wicked Wench, his hands gesturing wildly to emulate moments of grand adventure on the high seas. She thought this must have been the longest Jack had ever gone without lying. Oh, she was sure he'd embellished a few details here and there, but she knew now that there always was a bit of truth in his fictions. One only had to listen to what he didn't say to hear the whole story.
Lost in her ruminations, she failed to notice she could no longer hear his voice. Troubled, she looked up. "Why'd you stop?"
He lifted the bottle to his still lips and took another sip of rum. "You were too quiet. I thought you'd fallen asleep. "
"Not yet," she said, stealing the bottle from his hands, "I have no plans of letting you go without hearing the end of the tale, no matter what you say." She drank the last dregs before laying her head back down. "Now, keep telling the story."
He softly chuckled, "As you wish, my lady." He paused. "Where was I? Oh, yes. I believe we were nearing the end of the tale." He stopped suddenly, and began rooting under the covers. She was about to ask what he was looking for, when his hand reappeared, and another rum bottle in its grasp.
She rolled her eyes as he popped the cork and down a mouthful, "Really, Jack. It's a wonder you can sleep at night with all those bottles rolling around in your sheets. Do you keep all of your goods lying under there?"
He cocked his head, and smirked. "Just those that I treasure most and want to keep safe from prying eyes and thieving fingers." A wicked gleam came over his eyes. "And there's nothing wrong with a little rolling between the sheets."
She snorted and smacked his chest. "You're despicable," she huffed, "Now quit stalling and finish the story."
He had the decency to give her a chagrin look. "Oh, all right, love." Corking the bottle, he tossed it down at the end of the bed. He sighed, "Do you really want to hear this? It's not exactly one of my finest hours."
Elizabeth lifted her eyes to meet his dark gaze. "Yes, Jack, I want to know you. All of you."
Jack couldn't look away from her slumbering form. Elizabeth continued to amaze him, over and over again. He knew he shouldn't be so shocked, but he couldn't help it.
She was still here.
She knew him now, knew what haunted him for fourteen years, what he'd vowed to himself to never repeat again. She knew of that fateful day when a young, naïve captain doomed his ship and crew for the sake of African slaves locked away in his cargo hold. He'd been a fool to think he could outrun Beckett and his orders. He'd been overconfident, trusting his beloved ship to keep him ahead of trouble. He'd paid the price for that stupidity in the blood of his crew. For all the lives he'd managed to free, he'd lost in kind to Davy Jones' Locker. Had it not been for Bootstrap, he'd have gone down too.
She'd kept silent, as he'd told her every sordid detail of his downfall from society and humble beginnings in piracy. He'd worried that it had been too much at one time, that he should have held back. When all was said and done, and the guilt he'd carried with him all this time was laid bare at her feet, she'd looked him straight in the eye and smiled.
"You're a good man, Jack," she told him.
For more than an hour, he'd watched her face. There was no sign of disgust or hatred. Only the calm features of a tranquil sleep. She's a wonder, this one, he told himself. Even after everything he'd said and done, she trusted him enough to leave herself helpless in his arms.
The dying flickers of the candle flame drew his gaze from her. It was getting late, very late. They would be up at dawn tomorrow, most likely putting the finishing touches on the Brethren's battle plan before headed out to meet the Company's fleet head on. He knew he should wake her, shoo her off to find her own bed or hammock, but he was a selfish man. If the battle went ill, he might never get the chance to have her in his bed again.
Mindful of her head, he tenderly removed his arm from around her and slowly lowered her head to the pillow. That was easy enough, he thought, but how do I get up? He was still wearing most of his effects, which wouldn't comfortable. And they were on top of the covers. He was going to have to climb over her.
Don't wake up, don't wake up, don't wake up, he chanted to himself as he carefully lifted himself over Elizabeth's sleeping body. He sighed in relief when both his feet were safely on the cabin floor. His boots, belts, and vest off, he turned his attention back to her. There was no chance of getting her under the blanket without her waking up. Risking life and limb, he knelt down next to her.
"Lizzy," he called, "You have to wake up, darling."
She stirred only a little, "Hmm."
"Come on, love."
"Jack?" she groggily asked, her eyes still closed.
He smiled, "Aye, love. Time to get you under the covers."
"My boots," she simply told him. He looked down at her feet and saw that they were still on.
He turned back to her face, "You want them off, I take it." No answer was forthcoming. "Right." He moved to the end of the bed and gently pulled her boots from her feet and set them on the floor.
He turned back to her face; fully aware she had fallen back asleep. He tried to wake her again, but it was no use. Sighing in frustration, he pulled her up, laying her head on his shoulder as he slid the blankets down past her feet.
"You better bloody thank me for this in the morning, love," he grumbled under his breath as he lowered her down onto the bed and pulled the blankets up over her.
She rolled onto her side in her sleep, "Thank you."
Snorting, he pushed a stray hair back from her face. "You're welcome, love." He watched her for a few moments, soaking in the sight of her in his bed, before turning to blow out the candle.
"Jack?" she called out from behind him, sounding more alert than before.
"Yes, love?" he answered, kneeling next to her face.
Her eyes blinked open and somehow found his in the near pitch dark. "I'm under your covers."
Nervously, he swallowed, "Aye, you are."
She stopped to consider that for a second, "You said you keep the things you treasure beneath your sheets, so that they're safe."
He grinned, "I did."
"Are you going to keep me safe?"
He ran his fingers through her hair, feeling her tremble beneath them. "Aye," he whispered, "I'm going to try."
A/N2: I hate this chapter. It sucks, imo. But it got me where I needed it too, so there you go. Next chapter: Morning comes, and things get... interesting... between our favourite twosome. And Barbossa makes a reappearance!