He could not stop the twitching at the corner of his mouth.
The twitching soon stopped and turned into a full blown smile, but it was not the kind of smile meant to put someone at ease.
With Cutler Beckett, even a simple hello turned into a death threat.
Sitting at his desk, he was the final judge and executioner of the last two pirates of the Black Pearl.
They were a sorry sight to behold; one of them short, fat, and balding with his companion tall, gaunt, and incredibly stupid.
Pintel and Ragetti were almost completely broken by their stay in Port Royal's dungeon.
Ragetti's wooden eye had been taken from him after they were captured and he became very thin as he refused to eat and worried himself sick over the lost Piece of Eight. Pintel had come up with several very daring escape plans for them to try; but after each one failed, Ragetti was the one who was punished and that soon stopped the older man from thinking up anymore.
They stood in front of Beckett with downcast eyes, the shackles on their wrists biting into their skin wickedly. Their guards had been dismissed with one wave of Beckett's hand; he doubted that these two sad wretches could pose any kind of threat to him.
Neither side said anything and Beckett sighed as he leaned back in his chair.
"For pirates…you're awfully quiet." He noted.
When he was answered with more silence, he calmly opened a drawer.
"Perhaps we could talk about this?"
He was holding up Ragetti's false eye.
Ragetti had a knee jerk reaction of reaching for it and he yelped and pulled his hand back as Beckett swiftly hit his hand with the metal tip of his cane harshly. He whimpered softly, cradling his hurt hand as he looked at it with desperate longing.
"Oy!" Pintel shouted. "Gi' 'im back 'is eye!"
"That certainly woke you two up!" he chuckled, rolling the eye between his fingers. "But…I wonder why that is."
Ragetti bit his lower lip, looking over at Pintel.
"Et's the lad's eye! Gi' et back ta 'im!" Pintel growled, narrowing his eyes dangerously.
"Hmm, I suppose you're right." Beckett mused, holding the eye up to the light. "Perhaps it's just a piece of wood."
He made a move as if to toss it into the fire and Ragetti let out a strangled sob.
A wicked smile crossed his face.
"Or maybe it's something more."
Pintel frowned and looked over at a trembling Ragetti.
"Rags, wot's 'e goin' on abou'?"
"I've heard of a court you pirates hold and how they use seemingly ordinary trinkets for important business. Is this eye such an object?"
Ragetti looked down at his shaking hands, refusing to look at Beckett or Pintel.
The eye was slammed onto the table and a flash of anger crossed Beckett's face.
"Answer me, pirate!" he demanded. "Why is this eye important?!"
Pintel looked from Beckett to Ragetti and when he saw that he was terrified but resolute not to talk about his wooden eye, he knew that he needed to think up something fast.
Yellow eyes flicked about the room, and when it caught a glimpse of something large and golden, he smiled.
"I'm going to…"
"Do ye loik music, sir?"
Beckett was caught off guard by the random question and he could only stare at a smiling Pintel.
Ragetti looked at Pintel and shared Beckett's expression.
"Because I figger we kin make a bet."
"A bet?" Beckett snorted. "What could you two possibly have to wager in a bet?"
"Information abou' the eye."
"Pinters, no!" Ragetti hissed.
"I could easily torture what I want out of the two of you." Beckett pointed out, his eyes drifting over to his disguised torture tools. To anyone else, they were mere figures of soldiers and ships, but only Beckett and his victims knew their true purpose.
Pintel laughed and crossed his arms over his chest, acting as if he were a free man.
"No' very loikly! Rags 'ere 'as been starvin' 'imself an' 'e neva was much fer pain. Ye'd kill 'im afore ye e'en go' started! As fer me; I don' 'ave any idear wot yer talkin' abou'!"
Beckett thought this over before finally nodding with a smile.
"And I suppose you would want your lives should you somehow win?"
"An' a boa' wi' supplies ta gi' ou' o' 'ere!" Pintel nodded.
"An' the dog wot 'as the keys!" Ragetti added suddenly. He blushed as the two men stared at him.
"Always wanted a dog o' me own…" he mumbled.
"Very well, but should I win this bet of ours; your matelot will not only tell me everything that I want to know about the eye, but I will then hang you both…weeks apart from each other!"
Ragetti shivered at the idea but Pintel nodded.
"Now tell me…What kind of bet did you have in mind?" Beckett asked, his curiosity peaked greatly.
Pintel pointed to the far corner of the room where a large ornate harp stood.
Ragetti blushed in embarrassment when he realized what Pintel planned on having him do.
"I bet tha' Rags kin make ye cry wi' tha' 'arp o' yers!" Beckett arched an eyebrow, looking from the harp to Ragetti.
"Is he going to throw it at me?" he scoffed.
"Laugh all ye loik, 'e kin sing the birds ou' o' the trees!"
"Pinters…" Ragetti mumbled, fiddling with his fingers shyly. "I 'aven' played a 'arp in years! I 'aven' e'en played me lyre!"
Beckett burst into laughter at this, and he shook his head as he nodded.
"I hope you didn't mean tears of laughter! I may actually lose!"
"Laugh all ye loik!" Pintel snorted. He then turned to Ragetti and gave him a wink and a smile.
"Come on, Rags! Play us somefing!"
"Et's 'ard ta play proper wi' these on." Ragetti told Beckett almost apologetically, holding up his chained hands.
"Of course not! A skilled harp player needs their arms free to move now don't they?" the man mocked, tossing him the key. He caught it easily and unchained his wrists, wincing at the fresh cuts as he tried to rub life into them before slowly walking towards the harp.
Pintel swaggered over to Beckett and promptly sat down on his desk as Ragetti slowly pulled the harp in closer to the middle of the room, followed by the stool.
"I think I'll hang you first." Beckett growled, noting the grime stains all ready forming on his desk.
"Make sure ye git a strong an' well made rope." Pintel advised him. "Me weigh' migh' break a poorly made 'un!"
Ragetti was watching the two men silently, standing beside the harp as his fingers seemed to dance with each other.
"What is he waiting for?" Beckett asked.
"Oy! Rags, wot ar' ye doin'?"
He looked down at the ground shyly.
"Kin I borrow somethin' ta wipe me 'ands?"
"Wot fer?! Jus' play somefing!"
"Wot is et?!"
"Et…Et's a Naderman…"
"Naderman. The man who made this harp back in 1797." Beckett explained, looking at Ragetti in surprise as he held out his own handkerchief to him.
"Aye, 'e makes noice 'arps." Ragetti nodded, wiping as much grime and filth from his hands as he could before giving the filthy thing back to Beckett.
"How do you know about him?" Beckett asked. Ragetti shrugged, shuffling his feet a bit.
"Me mum used ta teach me 'ow ta play wi' 'un when I were a liddle boy." He answered.
Growling in annoyance, Pintel grabbed Ragetti by the arm and pulled him in close.
"Jus' git on wi' et!" Pintel whispered into his ear. "We're goin' ta die if'n ye don'!"
Ragetti whimpered and nodded, sitting down on the stool as he looked at the harp and tried to think of something to play.
Beckett looked over at Pintel and smirked to himself, thinking that at least he was going to get what he wanted without dirtying his hands with their blood as silence still was heard from the seated Ragetti.
He held his hands out and he moaned as he watched them trembling in fear. Balling them into fists, Ragetti closed his eye tightly.
"God, please…" he whispered and soon the shaking stopped as he rested his fingers on the strings.
Beckett was mentally watching the fat pirate hanging from the gallows with masked joy when the lanky one started to pluck the strings, and his eyes widened in surprise when beauty came out.
Ragetti played with his eye closed, his head tilted to one side a bit as his fingers danced over the strings. All the while, he was praying to God to get them out of this alive.
Pintel smiled as his matelot played for their lives and he knew that they were going to make it out of this alive as his own eyes started to water. Wordlessly, he took the wooden eye from the table and put it into his pocket.
Beckett could only stare in disbelief, shaking his head slowly as the haunting song continued.
There was an almost audible plop on the back of his hand and when he looked down, he realized that he was crying.
Cutler Beckett was crying.
Smiling, Pintel took the key to his shackles and took them off.
"'ow abou' tha' boa'?" he asked as the song ended and Ragetti silenced the strings gently with the palms of his hands, looking over at Beckett hopefully.
Beckett looked at Pintel angrily, but he nodded in defeat as he waved the two pirates out of his office.
"Out of my sight!"
"Sir?" Mercer asked, an hour after the bet was won by the pirates.
"What is it?" Beckett snapped, staring out of his window as a small rowboat started its ridiculous journey to Tortuga with an excited mutt holding keys looking out with a wagging tail.
"Why did you let them go?"
"In three days I want you to tell one of my captains to take a ship and try to follow after them." Beckett ordered, still watching the rowboat's slow progress. "They're in a bloody rowboat…it shouldn't be too hard to catch up to them.
"Make sure that he has the fat one killed, but keep the skinny one alive." He added.
"One more thing."
Mercer stopped at the door, turning back to Beckett at once.
"If the skinny man's hands are harmed in any way…I'll take yours as a replacement."
Nodding, Mercer left him alone, Ragetti's song still echoing in his mind.