A/N: And I've returned, with a new story. This has nothing to do with Curiosity: A Dangerous Thing and is decidedly much shorter. It is AU AWE. I've changed the rules a bit. Hope you like it.
Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own Captain Sparrow, Miss Swann or any of the characters in this chapter. I merely own the plot.
Chapter 1- Strike Up A Bargain
"Bugger." Elizabeth muttered. I don't even know what Jack would like. She was currently staring at the wares laid out before her on a table in a sweltering bakery in the higher class part of Tortuga, if you could even call it that considering it was as filthy as any other part of the unsavory town. The floor was covered in a layer of dirt, sent up in a cloud like powder as boots tramped across it, the counter not much better, with its dust and crumbs. Being a pirate, it would have been simpler to steal what she wanted, but this was Tortuga and she'd rather not have the whole island after her, so here she would stay until she found what she came to buy. The rather filthy baker, noticing her current riled and undecided state took this chance to take an order from a tall man who had stepped in while the poor woman tried to decide what exactly Captain Sparrow would enjoy most of all. They were docked in the port for two days to allow time for provisions and a much-needed shore leave for the crew. Jack, however, was holed up in his cabin, in a very foul mood for reasons unknown to Miss Swann. It never seemed to go away, this temper, but today, he had been out on deck for a bit so perhaps he was in a better mood.
Sighing distractedly, she peered at the small cakes and tarts before her. The pound cake and bread pudding looked exceptionally good here, she had to admit. There was a faint smell of coconut in the both of them giving the hint that regular cow's milk was not used in this bakery. A twinge of nostalgia for a certain night on an island that had been heady with that scent and that of…rum and a familiar masculine smell caused her to shut her eyes and smile. Humming that particular tune she remembered so well, she let the warm yeasty smell of fresh baked goods waft into her nostrils.
"A pirate's life for me, eh? Good song." A strong voice lilted amusedly startling Elizabeth out of her reverie.
The other customer grinned at her when she whirled around. Seeing that he wasn't an immediate threat to her, she dropped her hand away from the hilt of her sword and wary amusement glinted in her eye. "Aye. A very good song."
"Miss?" The baker prompted.
"I'll have some of that bread pudding, if you please." She replied putting her coin on the counter and then turned to the man, giving him a once over. "You seem somewhat familiar…"
"Funny…I don't believe we've met. I'd remember a charming lady like yourself."
"Hardly a lady, sir."
He chuckled. "Your appearance would prove otherwise, but that accent is purely high society. Name's Rackham. John Rackham. Me mates call me Calico Jack."
Elizabeth's eyes widened in surprise and she took in his calico clad body. From his finely polished black boots to his close-cut clean-shaven face, she saw that the wanted posters did not do this man justice. He was nearly as handsome as Jack! Granted, the clothes seemed a bit odd. "Elizabeth Swann." She supplied, extending her hand.
"Not a delicate lady after all." He conceded as he accepted her firm handshake. "I recognize the name, but not from where. Care to enlighten me?"
"Not particularly." She replied, handing him his parcel and taking up her own as they both headed out of the door and turned towards the docks that were just down the hill, the water sparkling and calling to them in the warm sunlight. "I really must be going. I'd like to get my captain his pudding before he goes out gallivanting about the town in the foul mood he's in and I'm sure you must be getting back to Miss Bonny."
"Aye. Ye be right on that one. Anne is a right fierce little lass…as are you, I'm sure. What captain did you say?" He asked, giving a confused look at her knowing this information about who his lover was.
"Ah…well…a pirate has to protect his privacy I suppose."
"Aye. Or hers." He replied with a grin.
"You can't ever trust someone you don't know everything about. Surely a well-known pirate such as you knows that. Are you following me for a reason Mr. Rackham?"
"Captain Rackham, dearie. And actually I'm headed back to me ship to get Anne so's we can meet a friend o'mine at the Faithful Bride in a few hours."
Elizabeth giggled as they approached the docks and the magnificent Black Pearl harbored at the very end.
"What's so very humorous?"
"Oh I was just reminded of someone when you said that."
He raised a perplexed eyebrow and then, distracted, looked up at the magnificent black ship with black sails, shining in the sunlight. Pintel and Ragetti had just recently polished her decks meticulously. They were rather skilled at housekeeping and similar things. Elizabeth however, frowned at the mast. Jack had made sure to have the shackles removed, she acknowledged with a cold smile. "Beautiful…" He breathed. "I heard Captain Sparrow went through a lot to get 'er back from ol' Captain Barbossa. Heard he fell in love with a right treacherous bitch along the way." This last sent a strange happy thrill quaking through Elizabeth…well except for the bitch part. He has no idea what Captain Sparrow went through to get this glorious ship back. Jack could hardly be in love however, she reminded herself.
"Did you now?" She questioned. "Captain Sparrow? In love?"
"You don't say…Captain Sparrow doesn't seem to be the type to fall in love from the stories I've heard." This is very entertaining. I do hope I get the chance to see him in action alongside Jack.
"Aye…well…it were Captain Barbossa himself who told that one." Bastard. "I used to exchange stories with the likes of them. 'Twas a good experience, you should hear Captain Sparrow's stories about that very same treacherous woman. Although he'd never own up to it, I have a strong suspicion he's rather fond of the lass."
"I'd very much like to hear these stories." She said with a faint smile. "Captain Sparrow sounds like quite the interesting character."
"Aye? Well then, I'm meeting Barbossa, Sparrow, and some of their men tonight at the Faithful Bride although ye probably won't hear any stories about the beauty. They say she's sailing as part of his crew now. Why don't ye come along? I'll introduce ye to Anne. She's been pining for some female friendship as of late." A sad look came into his eye at that last. Elizabeth distinctly remembered something about a baby in their past. She made a mental note to ask Jack about it later. "As for now, I bid you good day and hope to see you again, my friend." He said, tipping his tri-cornered hat.
She did something similar to a curtsey, but having no dainty skirts, it made the handsome young pirate captain laugh heartily as he headed off in the direction of his own ship.
A grin slid across her own face as she stepped onto the decks of the magnificent ship. Running her hand along the rail with a loving grace that was rather reminiscent of Captain Sparrow's own fondness for the famous vessel, she sighed. If only his hands would caress her the way they did this ship.
"Evening, Miss Swann." A voice drawled behind her. She stiffened, her hand resting a little nearer her sword hilt. Not one to trust the former captain, Elizabeth would not take a chance at a potentially mutinous attempt towards Jack, using her as bait. She had no doubt he would take the bait.
"Met Calico Jack, have you?"
"Yes. A charismatic man, to be sure."
The older man chuckled. "Aye. Charismatic. He likes his ladies. Ye'd do good to stay away from him, lass."
Anger flared up like the coals in a newly lit fire, turning her eyes into fathomless pools of venomous heat. "It is not of your concern whom I do and do not converse with, Hector."
Raising his hands in mock defense, he stepped back some. "Now, now, no need to get your knickers in a wad, dearie. I was merely giving ye advice."
"If I want advice, I'll go to Captain Sparrow or Mr. Gibbs." She spat, although the both of them knew that if it were about matters concerning Captain Sparrow and her, as of late, very brittle relationship with the man, she would always opt for the more brusque "chartman" rather than the captain's best mate and informant.
An ugly grin appeared on his face, but he merely scratched Jack the monkey's head. She grimaced at the yellowed, decaying quality of his teeth and the pungent smell of his breath. If Jack's teeth looked like that, I would never have even considered this pudding. "Speaking of the good captain, it appears he's currently having another temper tantrum in his cabin. Not sure why. Not even Mr. Gibbs will go in there. We're to be meeting Captain Rackham in a few hours and we'll need him in a good mood. I was wonderin' if'n ye might go in there?"
Elizabeth smirked. "Am I the only one on this ship that's not afraid of his newfound temper?"
The older man rolled his eyes. "Don't be conceited, Miss Swann. It doesn't become ye."
Her leer soured instantly. "Very well. I'll see what I can do and you should do something with those hideous incisors." She waggled the sweet smelling bread pudding in the old man's face and headed for the Captain's quarters with a determined look, ignoring the older pirates mutterings of just what she could do with that pudding or whatever the hell it was.
A loud bang from inside caused her to cringe with her fist a few inches away from knocking. Selecting a different approach, she knocked on the door softer than she normally would. Silence. Knock, knock, knock… more silence and then a curse. "What in the bloody hell is it now?"
"Jack? It's me."
"Elizabeth. Who else would it be?"
"…Oh." Footsteps approached the door and it swung open. Elizabeth blinked at the darkness. His cabin was surprisingly cooler than she remembered it, but then she had only been in there once after Jack had gotten it back and that had been with a bullet hole in her shoulder so she really couldn't vouch for her sanity then, through all of the pain. Although she distinctly remembered the tender way this man had taken with her in that state and the softness of his hands upon her sweat-stained skin.
Jack looked rather haggard, his clothes slightly rumpled, and his eyes were slightly bloodshot, yet he still managed to look handsome… devilishly handsome, that one.
He stared at her and sighed. "Well? Out wiv'it what is it that you want?"
"I haven't spoken with you in weeks. I wanted to see you."
"Well…now you have. Goodbye." He replied bluntly, about to close the door in her face.
"Jack…" She said, sticking her foot in the door. "What's wrong? You look bloody awful. Some members of the crew are worried about your health." Actually some would be me, but that's beside the point.
"Nothing's wrong. Everything's just peachy, luv." He exclaimed in a phony happy voice.
Rolling her eyes, she sighed. "We need to talk."
"You won't leave until we do, will you?"
As soon as the door shut behind her, she made a beeline for the chair next to his at the table, setting the parcel on said table. He eyed it as he took his seat. "What's that, then?"
Pushing it towards him, she looked down sheepishly. "A present."
"For whom, may I ask?"
"Mmmhmm. That's interesting. And why exactly would you be getting something for me, pray tell?" He asked his fingers visibly itching to open it and his eyes dancing at the pretty rose-pink circles forming on her cheeks.
"I was hoping that it might ease this temper that seems to keep boiling up in you when you're on deck."
"Is that so?"
Not meeting his gaze, she watched his tantalizing fingers tug at his beard thoughtfully. "And I thought you might like something sweet to taste." She murmured, noticing his semi-smirk at her choice of phrasing and a sinking feeling overcame her at the insinuations it seemed to form.
"Aye…I suppose I would."
Licking her lips, she tried to focus on his fingers, but it just drew her attention to that surprisingly soft mouth of his. No Elizabeth. This is not the time to crave his touch. You can do that later, when you're in bed alone…again. Thoughts of Will and his treacherous choice of life without her put a damper on these thoughts.Another voice quickly inserted itself in her thoughts. Elizabeth, don't be a fool. You've loved this man since the moment you realized he was more than a rum-soaked fool and you've wanted him from the moment you saw him kneeling over you on the docks of Port Royal. He had been soaking wet then…tendrils of his long hair stuck to his neck and a mild hint of rum on his breath…if no one had been on the docks with us…
"Elizabeth? Still with me?" He questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"I said, shall I dig out some rum while you open whatever it is?"
"A-all right." She stuttered.
He smirked as he sashayed across the room to his desk and began rummaging through a drawer.
Elizabeth stared at his backside. Somehow, the room was surprisingly no longer cool at all. Why must he be so damned attractive? Her hands shook as she pulled out a dagger and began to cut the ties. "OUCH! Bloody buggering hell." She exclaimed involuntarily, staring at her bleeding finger. Apparently she had cut it with the damned dagger.
"Let me." A soft voice replied and she looked up. Jack, who had just returned to her side with the rum bottles, held out his hand, swaying slightly. Deciding she might as well, she placed her hand in his and he promptly stuck the painful appendage in his mouth causing Elizabeth to gasp at the sensuality of the gesture. The feel of his hot, wet mouth around her finger seemed to send her body, heart, and mind into a frenzy of sensation that left no room for the pain that had caused his actions. "Better?"
Coherent words wouldn't come to her so she nodded, retracting her hand from his grasp. The corners of his mouth quirked up as he took her dagger, wiped it on his sash, and promptly cut a small piece off of said sash. Then, he uncorked the rum and poured it into the cloth and tied it around her finger to keep it from becoming infected. All the while, Elizabeth merely stared at him. She could still feel his warm, moist mouth on her finger and didn't even notice when the rum got in the cut, which should have been mildly painful.
"You really ought to be more careful, luv. Now. On to this 'present' you've so graciously decided to give me." He murmured, taking a seat and reaching for the bowl greedily. Leaning down, he breathed in the scent of it with a sigh. "Ah…bread pudding made with coconut's milk…my favorite." He murmured, heading for his desk and returning with two spoons. "I was intending on going up to the bakery and getting some myself…was going to invite you to eat it with me."
"Is that so?"
"Aye. The smell of it reminds me of that island Barbossa marooned us on."
Elizabeth's eyes widened in surprise, "That's why I got that actually."
"Mmm…" He murmured, scooting his chair right alongside hers and handing her a spoon. "Best not let it go to waste then."
Accepting the spoon with a gracious smile, she dipped it into the pudding. A happy little moan escaped her lips and her eyes brightened as she swallowed. "Very good…Jack? Why aren't you eating any?"
The question caused him to clear his throat. "Well…someone had to check to see if it was poisoned." He teased trying to distract from the fact that he found her very enticing when she moaned like that.
Elizabeth chuckled. A small noise of approval and a smacking of lips is what she got in return. As his eyes were shut, she took the chance to examine his lips. They looked soft and inviting and more sensual than a man should rightfully have. There was a bit of pudding on the corner of his mouth though and she found herself unable to stifle a laugh.
He frowned and opened an eye. "What could possibly be so amusing?"
"You have pudding on your mouth."
"Just there." She demonstrated with her mouth.
He wiped at it. "Did I get it?"
Another wipe. "Did I get it now?"
She reached out and wiped it off his mouth with her finger, but being unable to resist, licked it off hers.
When she looked up something stirred in Jack's eyes, his lips parted.
"Now it's gone."
A tension-filled silence ensued. The both of them had been skirting on the edges of being in over their heads and were coming closer to tumbling. It was starting to get awkward.
Opting for a change of subject, Elizabeth jumped at the only thing she could think of. "So what exactly is the reason for your recent ill-temper?"
Jack balked at the sudden change of subject. "Lovely day, isn't it?"
"Nothing's bothering me." He spat.
"Just tell me. You can trust me."
"Can I? Trust my murderess?"
Elizabeth flushed crimson at the sting of his words, but did not back down. "The whole crew is afraid of you when you're like this…even Barbossa. I'm the only one who will even come near you. What's wrong?"
Jack sighed and ran a hand over his face.
Deciding it was best to give him time, she began wrapping up the pudding so it wouldn't go to waste while they were discussing this. When he looked up again she almost gasped at the sadness and fatigue in his eyes.
"There are quite a few things that are bothering me, luv. I wouldn't know where to begin to explain."
"We've got several hours before we go to meet Captain Rackham."
He raised his eyebrows. "We?"
"I would like to talk with him."
"All right. Why-"
"Now don't try to change the subject, Jack. You need to talk and I'm hear to listen."
He studied her, pushing the sadness behind his usual clever mask. "And why in the world would Miss Elizabeth Swann want to listen to a pirate and his problems, hm?"
"I've already told you. I'm the only one who will. Besides, I'm a pirate as well. You've said so yourself."
Another sigh was issued forth. "And what do I get if I tell you?" He teased.
"What do you want?"
He opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again, putting his jovial taunting face up before she could recognize the glint in his eyes. "Let's strike up a bargain. I tell you what's wrong, you sit in me lap through the whole exchange with Rackham."
Did he just say that? Raising an eyebrow she snorted. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"Aye." He replied with a grin.
"Why would you want me to do a thing like that?"
"I'd rather keep the ladies of the night at bay." He replied almost a little too quickly.
A/N: What do you think? Will she agree? Did you like this chapter? Feedback is greatly appreciated...even if it criticizes my work.