"I want you to know that I was rooting for you, mate. Know that."

James Norrington watched the man back away from him and toward the edge of the fort. Surely he was not about to dive into the ocean. It would be suicide. "Friends…this is the day that you will always remember as the day that you—." James ran to where Captain Jack Sparrow had vanished over the side of the fort and watched the body fall down into the water.

"Idiot," Lieutenant Gillette said from beside him. "He's nowhere to go but back to the noose."

"Sail ho!"

James looked up to see the Black Pearl approaching. Damn, Jack was a lucky man. "Orders, sir?" Gillette said upon seeing Jack's way of escape. James hesitated for a moment. "Sir?"

James stared coldly down at the man in the sea. He could let Jack get away…but why should he? "Get him."

O O O

"You must have known that your escape attempt would fail, Captain," James said to the man in shackles. Jack hardly seemed to be paying attention to the Commodore as he looked around the office, eyeing all the valuables in sight.

"Actually, I was pretty sure I'd get away," Jack said, stepping towards a table in the corner and eyeing the objects upon it with interest. "But I suppose I couldn't expect you to let a dashing pirate like myself escape you so easily."

James' eyebrows shot up at his remark. "'Dashing'?" he repeated incredulously. "Oh, please…you're one of the filthiest pirates I've ever laid eyes on."

"Oh, so you have looked," Jack said, turning to James with a glowing smile. "Though not very well, it seems."

James rolled his eyes. "I should have guessed you like boys."

"Men, Commodore." James shifted uncomfortably as Jack swept his eyes over him. "And women."

"And select animals, no doubt," James added sarcastically.

"Only sea-turtles, mate," Jack said with an amused grin.

James scoffed at Jack's coarse sense of humor. "I can see that this is a complete waste of time. You die on the gallows tomorrow."

"Hold on there, mate!" Jack said quickly, his eyes widening. "I don't even know why I was brought here."

James chuckled. "I wanted to talk, actually."

Jack shook his head. "Now you're the one making jokes."

"I'm serious," James said with a shake of his head. Jack eyed him curiously and said nothing. "You said you were 'rooting for me.'" Jack nodded slowly. James feigned a smile and stepped closer to Jack. "So then, if you were 'rooting' for me, why did you not inform me that the pirates we were facing could not be killed?"

"Well, your life and happiness weren't exactly on the top of my list of things to accomplish, mate," Jack said. "Nothing against you—I had to get the Pearl back, see."

"Ah."

"Yeah."

"You never mentioned that Elizabeth was in love with that blacksmith, either," James said quietly.

"I didn't know about that, mate." Jack winced. "Well…perhaps I should have. She kept mentioning him…you know, on that island."

James sighed and closed his eyes. "She talked about him."

"A lot," Jack added.

James sighed and gazed out the window. "And what did she say about me?" James asked, turning to Jack and arching an eyebrow. Jack slowly shook his head. "Nothing?" James said in disbelief. "And I was deluded enough to believe that she cared about me…"

"Oh, she does care, Commodore," Jack said quickly. "Just…not that much."

"Brilliant," James said under his breath.

Jack studied the Commodore for a moment. "You know, there are other fish in the sea."

"Not like Elizabeth," James muttered.

"Well, no, not exactly…" Jack admitted. The two fell silent; James seemed to forget that Jack was there as he thought about Elizabeth. "Um, Commodore?" Jack said finally.

James looked at him in surprise. "I'm afraid I have no choice, Captain."

Jack sighed heavily. "The gallows." Twirling his beard in his fingers, Jack said, "You're 'afraid' you have no choice? Meaning that you don't want me to go to the gallows?"

"Don't test my patience, Sparrow."

"You like me, admit it," Jack said with a grin. He winced at the disgusted look James shot at him. "That's not exactly what I meant, mate."

"I should hope not," James said, glaring at Jack and sitting behind his desk. "Although I do have to admit to there being a certain…enjoyment associated with speaking to you." James shook his head. "I can't believe I just said that…"

"You ought to keep me around, mate. I could help you with your troubles with the generally fairer sex." James chuckled, his green eyes twinkling. He really did seem to have trouble when it came to reading women, and Jack did not appear to be too much better. "There, you see! Happier already," Jack said with a disarming smile.

James stared intently at the pirate before him and took him in—really took him in, instead of just throwing him a disapproving glance as usual. Jack was quite a bit shorter than James—about Elizabeth's height, actually. His eyes, however, were much different than Elizabeth's. They were deep and dark, almost maddeningly so given the mysterious sparkle that made one wonder what exactly he was plotting.

Oh, yes, Jack was always plotting. Whether James wanted to admit it or not, Jack was extremely cunning and could likely get himself out of any situation as long as he had a little luck on his side. A grin suddenly spread across James' face. "Oh, you're good," he said, shaking his head with amusement as he realized that Jack was trying to work his way out of this situation—and that he had been succeeding.

"Is it working, Commodore?" Jack asked, smiling broadly.

James thought for a moment. "I'm not sure." He leaned forward onto his desk. "What do you think about privateering, Captain?"

Jack's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "It worked?"

"I'm thinking about it," James said with a slight smile. "You're a smart man—and you never know when a cunning outlaw will be needed."

"This mean I'm not getting hung?"

James laughed at Jack's failure to believe James' offer. "No hanging. And all that would be required is that you follow every order that I give you."

Jack arched an eyebrow. "Every order?"

James' cheeks darkened as he caught the unintended innuendo in his statement far too late. "Any order that I or a superior gives you," he said quickly. "We won't likely give many—you'll mainly be able to just go on your way as you usually would.

"I like the sound of that." Jack lifted up his hands and shaking his shackles. "Can you remove these, Commodore?" he asked.

I've probably lost my mind, James thought as he took a key from a drawer in his desk.

O O O

James had expected Jack to vanish from Port Royal after he had been given the Letters of Marque. Thus he was extremely surprised when his servant announced that a "Captain Jack Sparrow" was there to see him. He poured two glasses of wine, knowing full well that Jack would likely ask for rum instead.

Jack entered James' office, nodding to the servant who let him in. He looked different. At first, James thought it was a trick of the candlelight that lit his office. But then he realized that Jack did look different. First of all, he appeared to have had a bath. His clothing was mostly new, save for the same overcoat he always wore. He looked more like a respectable captain instead of a pirate.

Jack threw his arms wide and turned around in a full circle. "Well? How do I look?"

James arched an eyebrow. "Clean."

"You sound surprised, mate."

"I am." James held out a glass of wine. "What are you doing here?"

Jack shrugged as he took the wine. "I just thought that, since you were so nice to me, I should do something for you." Jack smelled the wine before draining the glass in one swig.

"We do not yet require your services, Captain," James said simply. "The Royal Navy—."

"I'm not talking about the Royal Navy, mate," Jack said as he helped himself to more wine. "I'm talking about you." He raised his glass in a toast and took a large drink.

"Me?" James replied in surprise.

Jack nodded. "You still want to marry Lizzie, I assume."

"We are technically still engaged," James informed him.

"But you want her to marry you because she wants to, not because she has to, am I right?"

James decided that Jack was far more intelligent than he usually appeared. "Yes."

"And I'm going to help you with that."

James raised his eyebrows. "You are?"

"Yep." Jack set down the glass. "First, what do you see outside, mate?"

James' brow furrowed in confusion. "Not much. It's dark."

"Because it's late."

"Obviously," James replied, fighting the urge to roll his eyes.

Jack took a step toward him. "Meaning you should be done working by now."

"But—."

"Go home, Commodore," Jack ordered.

James could not believe that Jack Sparrow was actually ordering him to leave the fort. "I still have work, Sparrow."

"It'll be there tomorrow, mate." Jack pointed to the door. "For now, go home." James stared at him incredulously, and Jack sighed. "Listen—do you plan on staying here until all hours of the night after you're married as well? Lizzie won't appreciate that…unless she's having an affair with someone who is willing to give her some of his time."

James growled as he grabbed his coat and hat.

O O O

"Well, I never thought I'd be a welcome guest in your home," Jack said, his eyes roaming the foyer as they entered.

"I never said you were welcome here, Jack." Jack grinned as the two entered the parlor. "What are you grinning about?" James asked suspiciously.

"You called me Jack. First time for everything, eh, James?"

James' cheeks flushed and he glared at Jack. "You will address me by my title."

"If you can call me Jack, I can call you James, savvy?" Jack winced at the fierce look he received for this. "If you're so against it, fine, I'll call you Commodore, all right, Ja—Commodore?" Jack sighed as he sat on the divan. "But that is something you may need to change."

"Change?"

"Please tell me Lizzie doesn't call you Commodore." When James did not answer, Jack groaned. "You've got a problem, mate."

"She has called me James before."

"Sounds rare."

James flinched. He could only recall Elizabeth calling him by his Christian name once, shortly after she accepted his proposal. "You recommend first name basis? But that's—."

"Not proper?" Jack asked, arching an eyebrow. "Elizabeth calls William and I by our Christian names. Seems strange that she wouldn't call her fiancé by his. So that's lesson number one!" Jack said, laying out comfortably on the divan and placing his hands behind his head.

James glared at the man's boots with annoyance as they rested on the divan's arm, but he said nothing about it. James shifted his weight awkwardly as Jack looked over his body and appraised him.

"Why do you always where that wig, Commodore?" Jack asked finally. "And don't say it's part of the uniform—I've got a feeling that thing is rarely removed."

In one leap Jack was suddenly standing in front of James, reaching up to his wig. "No!" James said, taking a step away and holding his hands in front of him in defense.

"Come on, mate—surely you aren't ashamed of your hair." James grimaced and slowly removed his wig. Jack smiled broadly. "Nothing to be ashamed about, there," he said as he saw the dark, wavy hair that was revealed. Jack looked over James' body again. "Please say that you at least take off some of that uniform at home."

"Of course," James said, shrugging off his coat. "You can't honestly believe that I would always wear that," he said, gently placing it on a nearby chair.

"Anything else, Commodore?" James' eyebrow arched and Jack sighed. "Commodore, look at the layers you are still wearing." James looked down and saw Jack's point. "One shirt would do just fine."

It was completely embarrassing to remove the layers of clothing in front of Jack, but James had to admit that he was gratified to have less clothing restricting him. Jack eyed James curiously, twirling his beard in his fingers.

"Why do you hide your chest?"

"What?" James exclaimed in shock.

"Even your undershirt is all prim and proper. Elizabeth wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of you." Jack motioned to his own shirt, which was open and revealed some of his toned chest. "William doesn't hide his chest," Jack commented, causing James to flush, partly in anger. But when James made no move to his shirt, Jack decided to take the matter into his hands.

James' eyes widened as Jack forced him against the wall and began unbuttoning James' undershirt. "Get off me!" James yelled in anger, shoving Jack away.

Jack's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You are hiding something." Jack pulled on his own shirt to reveal bullet wounds in his chest. "Surely it's not worse than that." James flinched. This man had an insane amount of luck.

Jack attempted to approach James again. "Stay away from me," James said threateningly. Jack arched an eyebrow and gazed at him silently until James sighed and unbuttoned the top part of his shirt, though he was careful to keep most of his chest covered. "Better?"

"Much," Jack said with a slight smile. James coughed awkwardly as Jack slowly walked toward him, gazing at his chest. James backed against the wall, wondering what he should do. His hand twitched as he considered punching Jack, but he was startled when Jack asked, "Is that a tattoo, Commodore?" James glanced down and quickly tugged the fabric of his shirt over the mark, but Jack pushed his hand away and pulled it away. "It is a tattoo!" Jack exclaimed in surprise. "Is this what you were trying to hide?"

James shivered as Jack traced the tattoo, an anchor. "Um…yes."

Jack looked up at him, his dark eyes twinkling. "Why?"

James swallowed hard. "I just…I don't know, I'm…not proud of it." Jack nodded, his eyes asking for more information. "Um…I got it a very long time ago and…well, it just reminds me of a rough time." James turned his eyes away.

Jack was obviously curious as to what this "rough time" was, but he kindly held back from questioning James further on that subject. "Well, I like it—Lizzie might as well. Don't be afraid of showing it off, Commodore," Jack said with a wink. "Now, let's see, what next…"

Jack wandered in a little circle before James, muttering to himself under his breath and making odd gestures with his hands. "Ah, compliments!" he exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "One of the most important things to remember about women—they adore compliments. Even if they blush and say that it isn't true or whatnot, they like it. Hair, clothes, bosom, what have you, compliment it," Jack said, waving his hand.

Both men jumped as they heard a knock on the front door. As James' butler went to answer it, James shooed Jack into an adjoining room.

Elizabeth entered the parlor, her blonde curls haphazardly arranged and her clothing slightly ruffled, as though she had come to James' home in a great hurry. "Commodore, I'm sorry for bothering you at this hour, but I—." Apparently Elizabeth took this long to process James' appearance. "Commodore?" she said quietly as she looked him over.

"Miss Swann." James could almost see Jack flinching. "Elizabeth," he said quietly, taking her hand and pressing his lips to the back of it. "I'm delighted to see you." Elizabeth continued gazing at James in surprise. "You look beautiful," James added, gently holding a lock of her hair in his fingers.

"Thank you, Commodore," she replied softly, blushing prettily.

"Please, sit down," James said, motioning to the divan. He held her hand as they sat side by side. "What brings you here at this hour?"

"Um…a few things, really, Commodore."

"James."

Elizabeth gazed at him curiously. "Beg pardon?"

James grinned in amusement. "My name is James."

"Right," Elizabeth said, looking over him again. "Is that a tattoo?" She immediately bit her lip nervously as though she could not believe she had just asked that. James chuckled and glanced toward the door he knew Jack was hiding behind.

"Yes, it is."

"An anchor," Elizabeth said under her breath. "I…one of the reasons I came here is to…well, to asked about Jack."

James' brow furrowed slightly. "What about Captain Sparrow?"

"He was captured," Elizabeth said. "Is he going to be hung?"

James smiled and shook his head. "He's a privateer now, Elizabeth." Elizabeth looked completely shocked that James had left Jack alive and let him go free. "I can't very well send the man who helped save your life to the gallows." James brought her hand to his lips again. "Especially not since that show of loyalty when…" James trailed off suddenly, remembering how Elizabeth had suddenly taken William Turner's hand and stated that she belonged between James and Jack as well.

Elizabeth's cheeks darkened. She was likely remembering the same thing. "I am sorry to intrude at this hour…perhaps I should return tomorrow," she said, getting to her feet.

"You're always welcome here, Elizabeth," James said as he stood as well. Elizabeth smiled rather shyly and curtsied, glancing over her shoulder to take in James' atypical appearance one last time before leaving.

The moment the front door closed, Jack burst into the room. "Marvelous, Commodore! I've never met such a quick learner. Christian names, compliments…the only time you wavered was when you reminded her of William." Jack patted James on the back. "You managed to woo her enough to keep her from her original goal this evening." James turned quickly to Jack, his brow furrowed in confusion. Jack sighed. "You didn't realize?" He scoffed. "She came to ask you to break off your engagement."

James' heart skipped a beat. "She did?" Though James sounded disbelieving, he realized that this was most likely true. He slumped down onto the divan.

"Oi, mate, get up," Jack said, gesturing for James to stand. "We aren't done with your lessons, Commodore!"

How the pirate (now privateer) Captain Jack Sparrow knew so much about women, James could not understand. The man was crude, an outlaw, and was usually quite filthy. Yet here he was, teaching James how to properly woo his betrothed. The entire situation was laughable, but James' brief encounter with Elizabeth proved that Jack did somehow know what he was doing.

"Jack?" James said in the middle of a lesson on the importance of anniversaries. "Are you married?"

"You're kidding, right?" Jack said after a moment. "Do I seem like the marrying type?"

James chuckled. "No, not really. You just…"

"Know so much," Jack said with a grin. "Just because I'm not married, it doesn't mean I don't have any relationships with women." But Jack appeared reluctant to speak on this topic, quickly getting back to the "lessons."

A while later, Jack asked, "Have you kissed Elizabeth before?"

James was rather startled by the question and strangely embarrassed to answer it. "No, I haven't."

"Very gentlemanly of you," Jack muttered. "But you have kissed girls before?" James looked away, cursing his darkening cheeks. Jack sighed heavily. "Really?" James nodded slowly, not looking at Jack. "Oh, dear…" He sighed again. "All right…most of it is instinctive—just don't scare her off by being too…eager." Jack thought for a moment before taking a step towards James as he said, "And wait for the opportune moment—but not one moment longer, savvy? Then it would be too late."

James backed against the wall, gazing at Jack in shock as Jack moved closer to him…far too close…

"When the opportune moment arises, you take it," Jack said in a hushed voice, his hand on the side of James' face as he moved even closer to him. James felt the cold metal of the ring on Jack's finger pressing against his cheek and Jack's hot breath brushing over James' mouth.

What the hell was he doing? Jack was far too close, his lips nearly meeting James'. James' heart was pounding furiously as he tried to think clearly. He needed to push Jack away before…

And then Jack backed away, leaving James bizarrely…disappointed? James shook his head slightly as his mind cleared.

"After that it's intuition, really. You just have to be aware of what she wants. But don't be afraid to take what you want, savvy?"

"Got it, I think," James said rather breathlessly, coughing to cover his sudden nervousness.

Jack stroked his beard thoughtfully. "I believe I've taught you nearly everything I can. And the rest you should find out on your own, anyway," Jack said with a wink. "I believe I may have overstayed my welcome…"

"What do you mean?" James asked. "I-I don't mind your company, Jack."

Jack smiled. "Nice to know I'm appreciated." He pointed out the window. "But my ship is leaving Port Royal today."

James was amazed to see the sun rising. "All night?"

Jack nodded with a grin. "You had a lot to learn, Commodore." He bowed. "And so I bid thee farewell."

"You're leaving now?" James could not help the bit of sadness that leaked into his voice.

Jack nodded and backed away. "You'll always remember this as the day that Captain Jack Sparrow taught you—." Jack tripped over a tea table and fell hard on his backside. He growled as he stood. "Not the exit I wanted," he muttered, rubbing his rear and wincing.

James put a hand over his mouth to hide his chuckle at this incident. "Goodbye, Jack."

Jack nodded to him. "Commodore."

And then he was gone.

O O O

Captain Jack Sparrow adored Tortuga. One could find all sorts of people here. Upon entering his favorite bar, he gazed around at all the sailors and pirates and wenches, his eyes finally settling on a man in the corner who had a Royal Navy hat. Jack tilted his head to the side curiously. Though all different types of men and women came to Tortuga, Royal Navy officers were rare.

Jack ordered a mug of rum and found himself standing rather close to the Royal Navy man, but he did not think of talking to him. With his hat low and over his eyes, Jack believed him to be asleep until a rather charming voice said, "Captain Jack Sparrow. It's been too long."

Jack knew the voice instantly, but did not believe that it could be who he thought it was until the man pushed the hat up and looked at him with sparkling green eyes and an alluring grin.

"Commodore!" Jack exclaimed. He coughed, glancing around the bar and hoping no one heard that such a high-ranking officer was in the establishment. He sat next to James. "Sorry about that," he whispered.

"I think calling me James would be far more appropriate for this setting," James said, taking a drink of his own mug of rum.

"What are you doing here?" Jack asked. "I never thought I'd see such a gentleman in Tortuga!"

"I came to find you, Jack."

Jack arched an eyebrow in surprise. "Me? What could a Royal Navy officer want with a humble privateer like myself?" he said with an appealing grin.

"I wanted to thank you, Jack." James smiled softly as he took another drink.

Jack grinned broadly. "So you and Lizzie worked out?"

James' smile faded and he sighed. "We're married, yes. For a while…for a while it was perfect." James took a large swig of rum.

Jack put a hand on James shoulder. "Uh, oh. What happened, mate?"

"She started seeing Turner while I was out at sea," James said through clenched teeth.

"Ooh," Jack said with a wince. "I'm sorry, James." Jack shivered, then blinked, wondering why he had shivered upon calling James by his Christian name.

James smiled slightly. "Thanks, Jack. It's not too bad, really. I mean, we're still married, and she's loyal…when I'm in Port Royal." James' fist clenched. "Bloody Turner…"

"I could kill him for you," Jack suggested.

James chuckled darkly. "I have considered hiring someone to do that." He sighed sadly. "But no. That would make Elizabeth very unhappy…and I want her to be happy…"

"You deserve happiness too, mate," Jack said consolingly, squeezing the man's shoulder lightly.

James was silent for a few moments, taking a few sips of rum as he sat, deep in thought. "All that work to win her heart, however temporarily, and I've begun to fall for another."

"You have?" Jack said before he flinched. "Sorry I helped you get caught up in marriage already."

"No, I still thank you for that, Jack," James said quickly. "And it doesn't really matter—they aren't exactly open to marriage."

"She's married?" Jack said, unable to keep an amused smirk from tugging at his lips.

"No, he isn't."

Jack blinked, taking a moment to process what James had just said. "He?" James flushed slightly. "Wait, I have to guess—do I know him?"

"Yes."

"That little guy—the Lieutenant! Oh, what's his name…?"

"Gillette, and no."

"Is he in the Royal Navy?"

"No."

"Turner?" James glared at Jack, who threw up his hands in surrender. "A joke, James."

"A poor one," James said bitterly.

"Agreed," Jack said apologetically. "Um…a hint?"

Jack inhaled sharply as James leaned closer to him, cupping his cheek. "He taught me about taking the opportune moment," he breathed, moving even closer to Jack.

Jack's eyes fluttered closed as James pressed his lips to his.

Commodore?

James' tongue ran across Jack's lips, begging for entry, which Jack granted without hesitation despite his shock. Damn, Jack thought, trying to figure out exactly what was happening. However, his mind did not want to think of anything except the feel of James' mouth against his own. James was either very intuitive about this or he had a lot of practice. The kiss was over far too soon, with James remaining close to him for a few moments and breathing against his lips almost teasingly before pulling back.

James…

"You're not getting another hint," James told him quietly.

Jack licked his lips. "I don't think I'll need one," he said after a moment.

James grinned boyishly, his cheeks slightly tinted. "Good."

Jack took a swig of rum. "I knew you'd warm up to me." James laughed. "So, James…did you come here just to thank me, or were there some…orders you wished to give me?"

James' boyish smile slowly transformed into an evil grin.