Duty

Title: Duty

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: James/Elizabeth

Summary: James and Elizabeth on the Flying Dutchman during AWE. Norribeth. AU. Oneshot.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to whoever owns the rights to Pirates of the Caribbean. This is just for fun.

Author's Note: One of the things I hated most about AWE was the fact they killed James and then Bootstrap got away with it (shouldn't murderers be punished?? And spending eternity with his son doesn't seem like much of a punishment.) So I have decided to write a little oneshot where the events of the escape scene are changed a bit.

"You're lying!" Elizabeth accused hotly as she saw the deception clearly in James' green eyes. The stern railing was hard against her back on the softly rocking ship, freedom just within reach. She had been truly shocked when James had appeared at their dank and dirty cell and had released her and her Asian pirate crew, leading them to strong ropes that stretched to the Empress. All she had to do was climb up onto the railing, grip the thick rope and climb to the other ship. They could sail away; escape the noose. The rest of the crew had already gone over and now just the two of them remained. And James was being stubborn. Leaning forward, Elizabeth gripped the Admiral's arm tightly with both hands, pulling. "Please come with me, James. I mean it."

"I cannot. I … I have crimes I must pay for." James admitted as he nervously glanced over his shoulder. At any moment he expected a crewmember to discover what he was doing. Turning back to her, he pushed her closer to the barnacle encrusted railing. "Please, Elizabeth, hurry. I could not bear to watch you hang as I still love you."

"They'll hang you if you stay!" Elizabeth exclaimed, knowing that Lord Beckett had changed the laws. Anyone helping pirates or associating with pirates would be hung by the neck until dead, not that it took very long to die that way. She had just gotten Jack's death off her conscience; she didn't need James' death replacing it. "I forgive you for stealing the Heart. Just come with me."

"I cannot forsake my duty, my post." James looked at Elizabeth longingly. No matter how far they traveled apart and in different directions, they kept meeting again over and over. Yet they were never truly together. It had broken his heart seeing Elizabeth run into Will's arms on the beach of Isla Cruces. She had been so joyful to see the young blacksmith and in truth he couldn't help but feeling a bit of envy. While on the Pearl it had been easy to lie to himself, to say he didn't love her anymore. Feeling depressed and sick from rum had helped. But in truth he did and that love had never been so painful as when he saw the young couple kissing. So he had stolen the heart and had run off, hoping to get his old life back for how could he sail on the same ship with the lovesick couple? He may have lost in love, but perhaps duty would sustain him enough for his broken heart to heal. That was the good thing about the Navy; one always had their duty. "You need to hurry before someone comes…"

Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest stubbornly. "I'm not leaving until you do!"

"Elizabeth…" James' mouth fell open, unsure what to say to that unexpected statement. He could practically feel the sands falling through the hourglass as the moments passed, each moment increasing their chance of being discovered.

"You're going to get yourself killed!" She exclaimed, her brown eyes fiery with emotion. "Listen to me, James. You are not thinking clearly. You haven't been thinking clearly for some time and that's my fault. But look at this duty post. Is this worth dying for? Jones is a horrid, twisted monster!"

James stared at the barnacle covered railing, knowing that the Flying Dutchman was in truth the worst post that Lord Beckett could have assigned him to. The ship's condition was awful, the crew hideous fish-men and the discipline incredibly lax. The deformed crew nearly did almost anything they wished, even gambling while on duty. Gambling was never tolerated aboard a Navy ship, but then the Dutchman wasn't a ship of the line. The Heart being on board made the post seem important, but the atrocities he had been forced to witness… "I admit it's not what I had hoped for when I took the Heart…"

"Are you happy here?" Elizabeth asked as she gazed up into his eyes.

"How can I be happy if I'm not with you?" He replied as he boldly bent forward, pressing his lips against hers. Although they had been engaged for a brief time, he had never kissed her. No, Turner had been the one doing all the kissing; something that frustrated him to no end. If he was going to die for his crimes, he wanted at least one kiss to keep his grave warm. Not that he was supposed to be kissing her. It was dishonorable, especially since she was engaged to Turner, but what did he have to loose? Anyway, he presumed they were still engaged. But if they were, then where was the blacksmith? Why was she alone on a ship full of Asian pirates and the captain no less? Elizabeth's lips were soft and she didn't pull away, so he eagerly kissed her a bit longer. Slightly out of breath, he pulled back. It was doubtful a single kiss could make her love him, but perhaps she needed a physical demonstration of his feelings – something he'd never been very good at. "My love for you is all I have left, yet even when we're in the same place we're truly not together. Unless … your feelings have changed?"

"I …" Elizabeth started to say, but a staggering figure behind James' shoulder caught her eye.

"Leaving the ship… can't leave the ship…" Bootstrap uttered as he moved towards them, his dirty sword out. Madness was clearly in his eyes as he stumbled closer and closer. "Not right. Part of the ship, part of the crew…"

James spun around, his arms out wide to protect Elizabeth as he stood between her and the fish-man. Years of command made his voice firm. "Back to your post, sailor!"

"Part of the ship, part of the crew!" Bootstrap repeated as he lumbered closer.

"That was an order!" James stated, truly worried, as the mutant was clearly not listening to him at all. Worst, Elizabeth was still on board and hadn't made any motions to leave. Why wouldn't she go? Did she truly want both of them to hang? Half turning his head to speak to her, he kept his eyes on the approaching fish-man. "Elizabeth, please leave now while you can…"

To his shock, Elizabeth darted under his outspread arm, snatched an empty rum bottle off the slimy deck and bashed the fish-man on the head with it! His eyes rolled upward and he collapsed onto the floor with a soft thud. She then dropped the broken remains onto the crewman's dirt-stained clothes and gazed at him, pointing a finger at the unconscious fish-man. "He's mad! You can't reason with a mad person!"

James' mouth dropped open.

"Now turn around and go climb onto those ropes!" Elizabeth hurried forward, pressing him against the stern railing. "Or must I bash every fish-man on this entire ship before you cooperate?"

"But … I …" James stuttered, clearly baffled by the sudden turn of events. He was supposed to protect her, not vice-versa!

Elizabeth then drew her cutlass. "Shall I kidnap you, James? I suppose since I'm now the Captain of a pirate yacht I can do these sort of things. Then if won't be your fault if you desert your post." Elizabeth held the sword's point downward and pressed her body close against him, smiling. "I would rather you come along of your own free choice, of course. But I'll not see you stay here and needlessly sacrifice your life for me."

"Do … do you care that much for me?" He asked, a lump forming in his throat. Her actions were a tad alarming, but he had always loved her free spirit and her beauty. "I thought you didn't care…"

"Oh, James, I've always cared." She threw her arms around his neck, clinging tightly. "I just didn't realize how much I've cared. I wouldn't want to loose you, that much I know."

Her breath was hot in his ear, her body warm against his uniform. Could he really desert his post and go with her, go with a pirate?

"Do you see what's out there just beyond those ropes?"

"A pirate ship." He stated calmly, although inside he was anything but calm. He was about to throw his career away once again and it was frightening. Although he had signed onto the Pearl, he doubted if he could truly be a pirate. He possessed too much honor and chivalry. He was a gentleman, not a lowlife.

"No, it's freedom." Elizabeth breathed in his ear. "We'll be together. Isn't that what you want? Come with me to Shipwreck Cove and then afterwards we can be together somewhere."

James' heart thudded loudly at the words, his palms growing wet. The words were what he had dreamed of hearing for so long that it was hard to believe that she had actually said them. Did she truly mean it? "And what of Mr. Turner?"

Elizabeth shrugged. "We've grown apart. He's more interested in rescuing his father. We've barely uttered ten sentences to each other over the last several months and at the moment I'm not even sure where he is. I guess we don't trust each other anymore…"

"But he vowed to be devoted to you…" James said once he found his voice, his arms wrapping around Elizabeth protectively. That had been one of the reasons that he had stepped aside for Turner in the first place, care and devotion. Of course, Turner had never actually made the vow itself, had he? With a Navy officer, his vow was his honor and to break one's word meant dishonor.

"Yes, well, he cares more about him at the moment…" Elizabeth pointed to the unconscious fish-man lying on the filthy deck. "I'm afraid I roiled him up earlier in the cell and that's why he came at us like that…"

James' green eyes darted to the mutant on the deck, shocked. "That's Turner's father?"

"Sadly. I fear his cause is lost but he won't give it up." Elizabeth sighed, and then gazed up into his eyes. "Will you come with me now, James, before more fish-men come? Perhaps we are destined to be together. Lord Beckett showed up just before I was to be married, arresting us. If that's not fate than what is it? Perhaps Will and I never were meant to be together and why you and I keep running into each other…"

James let out a large breath, knowing what he was about to do was crazy, but her words spurred him on. Nimbly he leaped up onto the railing and helped Elizabeth up. Taking the cutlass from her hand, he cut all of the ropes but one. Urging her to hang onto the remaining rope with both hands, he gripped it as well with one hand and then sliced it with the sharp sword. Instantly both of them were pulled into the icy water and the pirates hauled them onto the Empress.

Elizabeth would be his new duty, one he would gladly devote himself to. Fate willing, they would survive what awaited at Shipwreck Cove and then afterward they could start a proper life together.

The End

PS. I'm working on a longer story where Elizabeth rescues James from the Locker, a sort of sequel to AWE. I guess I'm about half way finished with it. It's going to be Norribeth of course.