In the relative safety of his cabin, James Norrington removed his hat and wig, breathing a sigh of relief. He had survived another day. The door was locked, and no one else was in the room. He would have at least one more night to live.
He gasped as a hand suddenly covered his mouth. His eyes widened and his breath quickened as fear overtook him. It was over—Lord Beckett must know of what James and Beckett's fiancé had been doing, and he was holding to his threat. James' heart pounded as he prepared for death…again…
But then he heard whoever had stealthily approached him giggle. Beckett's assassins would not giggle, surely. He whirled around, grabbing the wrists of the woman who had startled him. "My God, Robin, don't do that!"
Robin laughed quietly, her brown eyes twinkling mischievously. "I didn't mean to give you a heart attack." She pulled her arms away from him, still smirking at his reaction.
James looked past Robin and to the door of his cabin—which he had locked before ensuring that the room was empty. No one could have gotten in or out. "How did you get in?" The woman merely arched an eyebrow and smirked at him again before she surveyed his body.
"Not ready for bed yet?" she said, noting that he was still in uniform.
James' cheeks darkened. Somehow this part of the evening, before getting into bed, was always the most awkward. He and Robin were not having an affair, in that manner, at least, but it often felt as though they were, especially when Robin used such language as that and looked at him in that way… But James knew that Robin was not interested in him romantically. She did not dare love him as he loved her, nor did James dare tell her how he felt, though she probably already knew.
Robin was extremely concerned over her impending marriage to Lord Beckett, a marriage she desperately wanted out of but could find no plausible way besides death, and, for obvious reasons, she did not like that idea very much. Of late, she and James spoke of little beyond Robin's worries about the marriage. Robin was quite certain that Beckett had lied and would not provide the few months of freedom he had promised. Not that Beckett could trust her to come back. In fact, James was sure that Robin would run at the first chance she had. He did not point this out to Robin; he did not want to anger her. She was, after all, his only ally these days.
The nights seemed to be growing colder, and the two curled up in bed with James' arms around Robin, as usual. Robin's sudden appearance had James' heart still beating rapidly as he worried about Lord Beckett. If Beckett had any inclination as to the close relationship he and Robin were maintaining, James was dead—literally. And Robin would likely not be much better off.
Lord Beckett was ruthless. He had nearly managed to seduce Robin into trusting him, only to turn around and blackmail her, threatening the Admiral's life if she did not end their relationship. Beckett, it seemed, had become aware of the previous relationship James and Robin had far in the past…the romantic one.
The relationship between James and Robin was nothing like that anymore, despite the feelings James held for Robin. Robin had been a different woman then, and had even gone by a different name. Robin had also made it clear to James that she did not desire a romantic relationship with anyone—even her friendship with James was painful for her. As she told him repeatedly, she hated having a heart. She hated feeling for anyone, trusting anyone. Yet she trusted James, and James had sworn to himself that he would never betray that trust in any way. Perhaps this devotion to her was part of the reason why he repeatedly risked his life just to listen to her troubles.
"James," Robin said quietly, bringing him out of his thoughts. "What do you want?"
James swallowed. "What do you mean?" He did his best to ignore the heat radiating from Robin's body.
"I mean, what is it you want most?" James flushed, remembering Jack's compass. "And I don't mean what would Jack's compass point to…I've already seen that." James' eyes widened, unseeing in the darkness of his cabin. He often wondered if Robin could read his mind, and this was definitely one of the times; it was unnerving, to say the least. "Come on," Robin said when James remained silent. "I already told you what I want."
"Freedom," James said with a sigh. "I must again impress upon you how dangerous what you desire is."
Robin sighed irritably. "Don't try and turn this around—I asked you a question."
James took a deep breath. "What I want…I want my life back."
James' brow furrowed. Robin had breathed the name so faintly; James almost believed that he did not hear it. But his heart told him something surprising. "No." He felt Robin shift slightly, and he saw her eyes glint in the darkness. "No, not Elizabeth." It was true. He no longer wanted Elizabeth. "I want my life as a young officer full of hope for the future, before all this nonsense with the Company, with Jack…and with Elizabeth." James felt certain that Robin was smiling, although he could not see her clearly enough to tell. He knew that Robin disliked Elizabeth greatly—and Elizabeth hated her. "And death," he added quietly, shuddering at the thought.
"You know that particular life is something you cannot have. The past is…the past." Robin shifted again. "I'm sorry I—."
James put a finger to her lips, now able to see some of her features as his eyes grew used to the darkness. "That was also the past, Robin. I have forgiven you."
Robin smiled slightly before burying her head in his chest. "I still feel…guilty…about that. It was wrong." They both fell silent until Robin asked, "What you want…does that go back to you being a Lieutenant?"
"I would say Captain."
"Go for the higher rank?" Robin said with amusement. The rank seemed to trigger something in her mind. "Oh…you were a captain when…"
"When I rescued you," James said fondly, running a hand through Robin's dark hair.
"Do you…do you ever regret that?"
James was shocked by the question. "Robin, of course not." He pressed his lips to her forehead. "Those few weeks were the happiest of my life."
"But they led to the most pain," Robin said sullenly.
Robin jumped slightly in surprise when James laughed. "You always focus on the negatives, don't you? You bloody broke my heart, you little wench," he said teasingly. "But you also gave me some of my happiest memories. At least let me be grateful for that."
The two fell into an awkward silence. James knew what was going through Robin's mind. James had just broken their unspoken agreement not to speak of their previous relationship. Robin had asked what he wanted most, and James had done his best to keep his true answer a secret. However, he had failed. Whether or not Robin could read his mind, she knew his true answer.
I want you.