NINE: DAY OF JUDGEMENT
Elizabeth shrieked as she was propelled overboard—it was involuntary, and extremely unkingly, but she couldn't help it. The water was rushing up to meet her, when suddenly she felt a strong grip in her hair and her shoulder and she swung to a halt, though she shouted in pain at having her hair yanked.
She looked up at her rescuer.
"Did you just save my life?" she asked Beckett, who had let go of her hair and now had her supported by one wrist and one side, his see-through hands clamped tightly around her, stopping her from plummeting down and meeting an untimely death.
"Just doing my job," Beckett muttered with obvious distaste, but also a touch of uncertainty, and they were both engulfed in green sparks.
The reason that saving Elizabeth's life gained Beckett so many green sparks was this; because he hadn't had to. He had only just arrived. It wouldn't have been his fault. But he did; he saw her, and he was so used to being a do-gooder now that he quickly swooped downwards, grabbed her hair and yanked her upwards. A few people were staring at the floating Elizabeth Swann in a cross between horror, awe and wishing that cameras had been invented.
"I think I just made you from a King to a minor deity," Beckett said into her ear, as he gently floated her towards the Empress. Softly, as if he were holding a fairly breakable doll, he placed her on the deck. He had to be careful with all of the new, ghostly strength that he possessed. She landed with her hands on her hips.
"What are you all staring at?" she demanded loudly, "Turn about, and fire again!" But the Fortune had other ideas. Other ideas that were very fast, and going in the opposite direction to where they were. She's a magic woman! She's possessed by the devil! She's an angel! Who cares what she is—run!
"King Swann," her second-in-command, Tai Huang, lowered himself down on one knee in a cross between wonder and fear, "How did you do that?"
"Get up, Tai," Elizabeth smiled at her first mate, "How I did it is neither here nor there. Carry on." She looked on as the Fortune made to make a hasty getaway. She grinned broadly—her reputation could only soar upwards from here. As Pirate King, she wanted people to fear her; and she would have her wish.
"That was a good 'un," Jack said, arriving next to Elizabeth. Beckett floated in the air at her side, his arms folded, looking at the list. His expression was unfathomable; he seemed to be unable to find words.
"Thanks, Beckett," Elizabeth said haughtily, "I owe you." She looked towards him. He still hadn't looked away from the list. "Beckett?" He looked up at last, and turned the list around. Elizabeth raised an eyebrow—every name was crossed off. All fourteen feet and three inches of names had been neatly crossed off.
"What I just did was so good, it demolished all of the remaining names," Beckett suddenly allowed his lips to curve into a smile, "I did it. Ha."
"Let's see the little crystal ball, then," Jack said, leaning forwards. Beckett brought it out of an inside pocket, and held it out—it was glowing a bright, bright green, colour flashing from it, and the three were bathed in it's glow. Beckett seemed proud.
"Wait," Elizabeth put a finger to the cool glass, "There's something in there."
"What do you mean?" Beckett brought the glass to his face—the sun was setting. It was the end of day four, now. He had about twenty-four hours left in the living world, and then he would go forever. Then he saw it too—a small grain of dullness in the bright green sparklies. "But... but I..." he looked down the list with a small frown, letting it drop to the floor, and began going through names.
"You... you were quite the sinner, weren't you?" Elizabeth asked, astounded at all of the names. "How on earth did you manage to get all of these names crossed off?"
"Through cunning, bravery, and overall goodness," Beckett murmured, moving the list upwards until he reached the very end; where he found that it was curled over slightly. With a sense of foreboding, he opened it—and closed his eyes, his pride at succeeding his task immediately crushed. "Damn."
"Did you ever commit a sin against dear William?" Jack asked, cocking his head, "I know what you did to me, and Elizabeth—but Will? Weren't you working together, at some point? Did you ever betray him?"
"I insulted him," Beckett said softly, "When I saw him on the Dutchman, I insulted him." Spite is a sin in my eyes. Calypso had said it herself. Beckett furrowed his brow—oh, bollocks...
"What, and because of that, you're going to be thrown into the Locker for eternal torture and punishment?" Elizabeth asked. Beckett nodded, looking slightly paler then usual—and Elizabeth hadn't thought that as possible.
"I can't repay my sin to him, can I? He's in the land of the dead. A place I can't go... despite being dead," he smiled humourlessly, "Ironic."
"Perhaps just doing something good will cross it off?" Elizabeth asked, hopefully.
"I don't think so," Beckett sighed.
"Can you do a good deed when you get over there?" Elizabeth asked.
"Like what? I can't leave the rowing boats," Beckett muttered. Elizabeth felt bad for him, then—which was really rather unexpected. She supposed that he had saved her life, so she had a right to feel bad for him. And it had also been slightly her fault that he was dead, she supposed. And it was oddly endearing, watching Beckett trying to be good. It was like watching a dog trying to operate a pogo stick. He didn't quite know how it worked, but was determined for it to work anyway.
"Whew... conversation stopper," Jack said, in his usual tactless manner. Beckett pursed his lips.
"Calypso knew that," he said, "She folded the bottom of the list on purpose. She wanted me to fail. Hence the attack." Jack looked at Beckett, who was looking slightly bedraggled, and had several cuts on his face and hands.
"I wasn't going to ask," Jack said, "But what the bloody hell happened to you?"
"Believe it or not, I was attacked by a manatee," Beckett said warily. Elizabeth held back a laugh, but then realized the seriousness of the situation. "Calypso took on the form of a monstrous manatee and tried to maul me. She nearly succeeded too," Beckett massaged a temple, "She changed her mind at the last moment and decided to butt me in the stomach so hard that I think several of my major organs are now reminiscent of Danish pastry... but I digress," he put a hand to his stomach, wincing, as Jack laughed, before receiving a glare from Elizabeth.
Oh, so she was on Beckett's side now? Psht. Save a woman's life, and she instantly betrays an old friend for them. How easily swayed they were.
"And it was all for nothing, anyway," Beckett concluded, looking down to the water, and then standing straight. Self-pity was not something Beckett enjoyed, and he was not planning on pitying himself any longer. "So what can I do now?"
"Stay 'ere, I guess," Jack said, grinning.
"Hmm," Beckett looked down at the deck of the Empress, "Well, I suppose some good might as well come of this. I know where the Black Pearl is; it is indeed near Tortuga, in the crossing between there and Cuba." Jack grinned at Beckett.
"Hey, you did the right thing for once!" Jack put a hand on Beckett's shoulder, "How does it feel?" Beckett tilted his head.
"Disconcerting, and mildly unsatisfying," Beckett said, listlessly.
The three—man, woman and ghost—stood together on the deck of the Empress as the sun set on day four. There was nothing else that they could do.
Beckett spent most of day five drifting around, being occasionally helpful, but much preferring to cause trouble instead. He felt that he deserved it—and he didn't lose any sparklies over harmless little pranks. Not that they mattered any more. Nothing mattered. After this one day, a long, long eternity of torture awaited him. He hated to think what would be done to him for his sins—despite the fact that he had tried his hardest to repay them.
"Hey, mate, you could be anywhere today; havin' fun in Tortuga, visiting old buddies," Jack raised an eyebrow, "What're you doing 'ere?"
"You could use today to say goodbye to your family and suchlike," Elizabeth said, in a gentler voice. Beckett floated next to them, his back ramrod straight, his hands folded across his chest—his eyes were on the horizon, and his expression was completely unreadable.
"There's no point," Beckett said softly, "I don't have any 'buddies', the only family I have left is my mother, and I think it would break her to see me again. And I'm not even going to respond to Jack's first suggestion."
"Well, you just did," Jack said, with the air of a small child who had just beaten an adult at their own game. Beckett shot Jack that despairing look of an adult being 'beaten' by a child who did not understand the rules. Elizabeth sighed, seeming to be the part of Jack's controlling parent in all of this.
"You know, Beckett," Elizabeth said, "If I'd known that it would turn out like this, I never would have blown you up."
"Thank you for the sentiments," Beckett said dryly, "Not only is it hugely helpful, but it makes me feel so much better, too." Elizabeth shook her head and sighed, looking out at the horizon. She knew what had Beckett down.
The sun was beginning it's slow, yet steady decent towards.
That evening, Jack, Elizabeth and the ethereal form of Beckett all sat on the side of the Empress, watching the sun setting. Beckett cast no shadow; the light went right through him.
"Well, Beckett," Jack said; one of his legs was dangling down towards the ocean, the other drawn up. He rested an arm on the drawn-up leg's knee. "Here's to happily ever after."
"Hardly," Beckett said. He had turned very monosyllabic recently, though he did not let his composure slide away. He was going to go down bravely; like he did when he died. Not flinching, not screaming, not crying like a girl. He had to accept it—he'd failed. But he'd nearly succeeded. That should have given him some level of satisfaction, but somehow, it didn't.
"Beckett," Elizabeth put a hand on his shoulder, and he turned his head towards her, "I hope Calypso forgives you."
"It didn't look like it, from what I saw," Beckett said, looking back at the sunset; sliver by sliver, it sank further beneath the shoreline. Perhaps if I chase after it, the sun will never set. Perhaps if I carry on staying in the daytime, I'll never have to die. But somehow, he didn't believe it possible. And he didn't feel like moving, now.
"You never know," Jack shrugged airily, "She was nice enough."
"Oh, yes," Beckett rolled his eyes, "Was this before or after she turned into a giant manatee, crushed your dinghy and tried to kill you? Sorry, I can't quite remember."
"We've had some good times," Elizabeth said.
"Of course," Beckett replied, "Like that time you snuck into my manor in the middle of the night and threatened me with a flintlock pistol. Oh, what jollies. We really must do that again some time." It seemed that his sarcasm gland had gone into overdrive at the thought of his imminent death.
The sun was over halfway gone.
"Bye, then, chum," Jack patted Beckett on the back, briefly, "You've had a nice life. It's been a good run."
"And, can you..." Elizabeth swallowed, "Can you tell Will that I love him?" Beckett turned to look at her. His expression was one of complete shock. Elizabeth wondered if he had said something wrong, when Beckett suddenly smiled.
"I've just had an idea..." he murmured, softly.
"Beckett?" Elizabeth shook her head, and blinked, "Cutler?"
He simply smiled enigmatically and—as the sun sank from view—he faded away, until there was nothing left. Nothing at all.
"He's dead," Jack said, "Dead at last, eh?" But he tipped his hat in respect anyhow. Elizabeth and Jack both turned to watch the sun sinking, each thinking their own thoughts; which, somehow, were linked. It's strange, how that happens. As the sun vanished and they were cast into darkness, Elizabeth thought about Will, Davy Jones, Sao Feng, James Norrington, and of course Cutler Beckett; everyone they had shared their adventures with.
"And then there were two," she whispered.
So. He recognized this particular scene. Beckett looked around himself—rowing boat, mist, ocean, and—oh yes, there was the Flying Dutchman. Clambering to his feet on the rowing boat, somewhat unsteadily, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called out.
"William Turner!" his shout echoed for a few minutes, and then Will suddenly arrived at the edge of the Dutchman, looking confused once more. Then he spotted Beckett, and a deep frown spread over his face.
"What? Beckett again!" Will blew a breath out, "I'm not talking to you." He turned away, and began to walk. Beckett's eyes widened.
"William Turner! Will! Will Turner! Wait!" he stepped forwards, making his boat rock dangerously, "Will!" He had to talk to him. He had to, otherwise everything was lost. Beckett cupped his hands around his mouth. "Turner! Will, Elizabeth told me—she told me to tell you," Beckett was almost nervous about saying the words now. What if they didn't work? Will turned to face him, tilting his head. "She said that she loved you!" he blurted, in a most un-Beckettlike manner. Will spun around to face him.
"Really?" Will breathed, with a small smile. And on that breath drifted a single, green spark. Languidly, it travelled through the air, bobbing on invisible air currents and spinning slowly until it reached Beckett. There, it burst into him—and caused what looked to Will like a muted explosion of green, sparkly things. They were everywhere; flying around the rocking boat, swishing through it, the ocean, the air, and in the middle of it all was the brightest ball of greenness that Will had ever seen.
Beckett looked up from the centre of the bright green glow.
"You just saved me," Beckett looked up at him, "I think I love you." With that, Beckett faded away, along with the greenness. All that was left was a single rowing boat, drifting alone in the dark water, spinning through the mists. And fairly worried Will Turner.
"Listen, love, I have permission to be in 'ere." Beckett heard a familiar voice, and turned to look at the giant gates into the afterlife with an eyebrow raised. So it had happened at long, long last.
Beckett had been dead for about six years, now. And the afterlife was... well, it was nice. Peaceful, at any rate. He'd met some old faces. Norrington—well, he'd expected him to be here. Norrington had seemed rather afraid of him, and he quickly evaporated. He'd seen his father, too. Told him 'hello'. He'd decided, after a while, to take up residence near the very entrance to the afterlife; so that he could smirk at all of the nervous newcomers. What? Somebody had to do it.
"No, really! I'm a good man, really. Honest, I swear." Beckett, one eyebrow still arched, took a sip from a cup of tea. A perfect cup of tea—and why wouldn't it be? He'd made it himself. He looked down at the cloudy ground, still shamelessly eavesdropping. He heard a murmur in reply to Jack; a voice he recognized as Calypso.
"So, how hard could it be?" he heard Jack say. Beckett heard the dark sound of Calypso's voice once more, and then there was a pause. Suddenly, "What?! That list's at least thirteen feet long!" He was nearly right.
"So, uh, happy, ay? Sure, sure I can do it. Just you wait." Beckett moved his teacup towards his lips once more, ready to take another sip, when he heard Jack Sparrow continue, "But, eh—can I have some 'elp? Old friend of mine. Knows all about it. Partners in crime, you know?"
Beckett's smile slid off of his face.
Oh, God no.
NB: And so, our story concludes. Thanks to all of my darling readers--I love you all! This story's been extremely fun to write. You didn't think I'd let Beckett go to hell, did you?
Uh, well, he does deserve it. But... meh!