AN UNFORTUNATE TWIST OF FATE
SUMMARY: Call it coincidence, call it fate. Either way, Elizabeth cannot rid herself of Jack Sparrow. But when the threat of having nothing left but a memory arises, she's determined to set things right, if only it's not too late.
DISCLAIMER: Jack'n'Lizzie etc. do not belong to me. I make no money from the writing of this fan-fiction.
SHIP: 100 percent Sparrabeth. Willabethers are welcome, but ye have been warned!
RATING: T (for Teen)
WARNING: Character death
A/N: Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll! Here's the winner, "An Unfortunate Twist of Fate." Enjoy!
P.S. I really suck at writing fight/combat scenes, but I gave it my best shot. Still, I apologize in advance. Sorry!
This was not going to end well.
Jack Sparrow was no psychic (though he would not deny such a title if ever asked about it by a naïve party), but he was also not a fool.
He was a talented swordsman, though he didn't necessarily always stick to the rules when fighting, but he knew before the battle begun that the odds would not turn out in his favor.
Well… if he was going to die fighting for something, and there was no golden haired temptress in his line of view, it might as well be his Pearl.
EARLIER THAT MORNING…
The storm was harsh and unforgiving, and the Devil's Flower bobbed to an almost violent extent in the coastline just off Shipwreck Cove.
The smaller ship was nothing compared to Jack's magnificently fierce Black Pearl, but she would suffice in helping him find her again. He had "relieved" her from her previous captain just a few weeks or so earlier, which made him no better than Barbossa, but that was neither here nor there. Besides, she had proven herself sufficient so far, but the true test of her worth would come later that day, with the Brethren Court meeting to discuss its fate.
For the first time in a long time, the court had a king, but said-king had been absent for quite some time now and with her apparent refusal to take part in any court meetings, there was plenty to be discussed. Jack didn't really want to go… he understandably had no desire to sit through two hours of childish name-calling, brawling and arguing. If he wanted to see that, he could take his pick of any pub in Tortuga. Why make the trip?
…this particular meeting might just come to his benefit after all. Jack prided himself on ignoring invitations from the court, which made any occasion in which he decided to show up a true surprise, indeed. That, he surmised, along with the rumors of his death (that he himself set in motion, no doubt), could work to his advantage when he ambushed the Pearl.
Hector Barbossa considered himself a gentleman of the sea, Jack knew this to be true. For the most part, his chief competition in life played by the rules and followed the code. More importantly, Jack knew all too well how important power was to the older captain. With the title of Pirate King up for grabs, the opportunity to finesse the situation would likely be too tempting for Barbossa to pass up. This would leave the Pearl vulnerable in the cove. This was his chance to get her back.
Sure, Barbossa was smart enough to leave a few men behind to keep an eye on her. But if Barbossa was wily enough o finesse the court into promoting his title, then Jack was certainly wily enough to finesse any poor saps that Barbossa left in charge. Pirates, himself included, were an unmoral lot and getting two or three men to turn on their captain would be easy for a man of Jack's skill. Besides, even if they didn't turn on ol' Barbossa, he had just enough manpower from Tortuga to (hopefully) take the ship by force.
What he wasn't counting on, however, was an ambush on the Devil's Flower. Jack had just anchored the smaller ship close enough to the Pearl to get on board inconspicuously, but far away enough that she didn't seem to pose much of a threat. The clouds and fog could also work to his advantage. He had just climbed over the rail of the Pearl, Gibbs and the rest of his men not far behind him, when the world began to explode around him.
Barbossa's men seemed to crawl out of the woodwork. Jack was able to take down several of them on his own as his men made their way on board. He didn't even have time to give them any orders as they were waylaid by the Pearl's crew. The sounds of fighting erupted around him. Swords clashed together, pistols fired.
The entire time he was fighting, he kept his eyes open. Not one of the opponent's faces was familiar. There was no Cotton. No Marty, no Pintel, no Ragetti. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a list of assumptions popped up, all of them to grisly to focus on. Whoever these new men were, wherever Barbossa found them, they were trained well, every last one of them.
By the time Barbossa bothered to show his face, Jack already had a small cut across his cheek and a fairly deep gash across his arm. He had only paused for the briefest of moments to apply pressure to his bicep when he sensed a presence behind him.
"Nice of ye to visit, Jack."
Jack clenched his teeth before forcing a smirk on his face. Inside, he was cursing himself, furious that he had been too arrogant to stop and think that Barbossa would be able to predict an attack. But he wouldn't—couldn't—let him know that.
"What can I say?" he said, whirling around, letting the grin broaden across his face. "I missed ye." Barbossa smile mirrored Jack's… every stained, yellowed tooth was visible. About a dozen insults regarding this flashed through Jack's mind, but he forced himself to save it for later. There were more important things to focus on, like the oversized sword in his opponent's hand and the small, jagged dagger in the other.
"I'm sure ye did," Barbossa replied, bowing his head slightly. "Shall we?"
At the time the battle between the two captains started, Jack was already starting to tire from taking down the few members of Barbossa's crew that had been brave enough to assault him. Still, Captain Jack Sparrow on his worst day of fighting was better than most on their best.
Both he and Barbossa were so focused on each other, on quippy little insults and comebacks, that neither noticed the Chinese junk enter the harbor through the fog. They hardly noticed the rain as it started to fall, gentle and steady at first, but quickly increasing in fierce intensity.
Barbossa took a jab at Jack, almost knocking the sword out of his hand. "Ye've lost yer touch, Jack…" Barbossa sneered with a feral grin. Jack ignored him and gritted his teeth, a part of him knowing that he was right. Since when had he lost his touch? The pouring rain stung the gash in his arm with a severity that made his entire side burn. He was exhausted, mostly from the surprise of Barbossa's counterattack. "Tell me when, Sparra, and I'll put ye out of yer misery!"
"Hector, mate, yer a walkin' cliché," Jack retorted, shaking the rainwater from his eyes. He was about to make a swipe towards his opponent when something in the background caught the corner of his eye. A flash of tawny, golden hair making its way over the starboard railing… and everything stopped. Through the chaos of the fighting, the rocking of the ship as the rain showers turned into a full-fledged storm, all the way across the ship, two pairs of eyes met. "Lizzie?" His voice wasn't even audible above the strange symphony of noise, but his distraction was used against him as Barbossa lunged forward.
Jack barely even felt it at first. The sensation of Barbossa gripping his arm was initially more painful than the pierce of the dagger in his side. Once reality hit him, when he looked down and saw blood gushing from the wound, it burned like a pain he'd never felt before. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he added "stabbing" to the list of atrocities he'd faced in his lifetime… if he'd make it through this one would be another thing.
His dark eyes met Barbossa's wicked grin and he began to feel faint. He suddenly felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders and his legs were hardly equipped to hold it up on their own. His knees buckled and before he could register what was about to happen, he fell to them, hitting the deck with a thud. Strength was fleeting and he fell to his side before rolling onto his back, his eyes fluttering as he looked up to the gray, cloudy sky. This was not how he wanted it to end. This was hardly the valiant, heroic way he always imagined he might go out.
What little light was left was obscured when Barbossa stepped over him, his pistol drawn. The other captain had just barely opened his mouth to speak when a shot rang out and his weathered eyes suddenly went lifeless. Jack winced in pain, his breaths becoming involuntarily shallow, as he struggled to lift his head, watching as Barbossa fell dead to the deck of the Black Pearl.
He struggled to organize his thoughts, struggled to even get air into his lungs, when he heard the rapid approach of footsteps and suddenly she was kneeling beside him, her wet hair clinging to her forehead, dripping down onto his already soaked clothing.
"Jack!" He cried out in pain as her hand found his wound, pressing against it in what he could only assume was an attempt to stop the bleeding. "It's alright…" she assured him. "It's going to be alright."
"Lizzie?" he repeated her name, still unable to fathom when she got there, or, more importantly, why. "Lizabeth?"
"Yes, yes, it's me, just hold on," she encouraged, brushing the dreadlocks out of his face. Just hold on… well, it wasn't as if he wasn't trying, but the light around her face was going dark, and he didn't even have the wherewithal to know if it was due to the rapidly darkening clouds overhead, or consciousness fluttering away.
He had a great many things he wanted to say to her, not knowing if his life was going to end or if, once again, luck would be on his side. He opened his mouth to speak, but the words wouldn't come. "Liz—Lizzie…"
"Shh, don't speak." She gently placed two fingers over his lips. "You'll be fine, I promise. Save your strength, Jack."
How did you get here? He wanted to ask. When did you get here?
Again, he opened his mouth again, and what he wanted to say was not what he actually said. "Stay…" He could barely move his arm, but he was able to just enough to brush a fingertip against her knee. He watched her, darkness coming ever-faster, as she looked down towards his hand.
He was just aware of her taking hold of it and grasping on tightly as everything went black.
A pair of chapped, weathered lips, accompanied by gruff, facial hair, made their way down her neck, waking Elizabeth from her peaceful slumber. She let out a contented moan when she felt his arms wrap around her waist, pulling her against his hard, warm body.
"Sleep well, darlin'?" he whispered in her ear, the braids hanging from his chin dancing across her delicate skin and making her laugh softly.
"Yes, quite." She rolled onto her back so that she was looking up at him, and he was propped on his elbow, leaning over her. She lazily moved her hand up his arm, stopping to let her fingertips lightly drift over the bandage on his bicep. "Does it still hurt?" she asked gingerly.
"No," he replied, shaking his head and creating a light, gentle tinkle between the different beads woven into his thick mane of hair.
"I thought I was going to lose you," she quietly admitted, letting her hand fall back down to the bed.
"But you didn't," he reminded her, leaning down and placing a carefully thought-out kiss on her jaw. When he pulled back up, he was grinning at her, the kohl around his eyes smudged from the night's sleep.
"Do you love me?" she asked, avoiding his eyes for she was secretly afraid of his answer, despite how brave she always tried to be.
"'Love' is a strong word," he said.
"Yes, but it was a simple-enough question."
"It was," he replied, nodding. "Lizzie-beth, you know I do."
"I know," she sighed. "I just wanted to hear you say it."
"Let me put it this way…" he said quietly, his eyes growing lusty and dark as he lowered his mouth to hers in a gentle, yet firm, kiss…
Elizabeth's eyes shot open. She quickly squeezed them shut again as she pinched the bridge of her nose, suppressing a yawn. She felt headachy. She couldn't remember the last time she'd gotten any amount of sleep without dreaming about Jack.
She rolled from her side onto her back, glancing over at the sleeping man beside her. She watched for several quiet moments, holding her own breath as she watched his chest rise and fall, rise and fall. She sighed, dismayed at the lack of change over the past three and a half days.
He'd woken up briefly a few times, which she took advantage of to get him to drink some water. But he had been so weak from the blood loss and so confused as to what was going on that his consciousness didn't last long. Last time, he looked up at her with wide, yet tired eyes, thinking she was his mother and asking if he was dead. Before she could answer him, his head fell back against the pillow and he was out cold.
With a sigh and a hefty grunt of dissatisfaction, she sat up and turned, throwing the sheets off her bare legs and placing her feet on the wooden floors of Jack's cabin. She quickly rid herself of his shirt and redressed in her own clothes just as quickly, all the while keeping one eye on Jack. Once the last button on her blouse had been buttoned, she moved back to the bunk and made up her side. Should Jack wake up, she didn't necessarily want him to know that she'd been sleeping in the same bed with him, guarding him like a mother hen would guard her chick.
Once the bed was made, she stood there for several moments, chewing nervously on her thumbnail and just watching him sleep.
There was no use denying it anymore. Not to herself, anyways. She'd known for what felt like forever how deep her feelings for the one-and-only Captain Jack Sparrow ran. She knew she loved him. Even Will knew she loved him. She could perfectly recall every word in the letter she'd written her husband… ex-husband... she wasn't sure. Were they ever really married to begin with? Was that "wedding" on the Black Pearl so many months ago even legal?
Regardless, she could perfectly recite that letter if she had to. The letter in which she begged his forgiveness for asking for her freedom, the freedom she had initially told him she wouldn't need. But spending every day alone, she had too much time with her thoughts, and it wasn't long before she realized she couldn't escape the all-consuming flame that was Jack. Even if she could never bring herself to tell the pirate how she felt, she had to see him, just once.
She hadn't believed in fate until three days ago. Ironic, considering her past with him, but true. She had no idea that the day she planned to visit Jack's father with the sole intention of discovering his whereabouts, that there was a meeting of the Brethren Court. She had no idea that Jack was indeed there, with the sole intention of taking back the Pearl. She had no idea that Barbossa knew this and had the sole intention of killing Jack for good. All of this just collided at the exact moment she sailed the Xinhua Dragon into Shipwreck Cove.
The minute she heard the gunfire she knew something was dreadfully wrong. A pit dropped in her stomach as she gave swift orders to her crew and set off to the Pearl in a longboat. The minute she climbed the starboard side, the minute she spotted Jack… the very minute their eyes locked, she believed in fate. She was meant to be there, in that moment, for a reason. And when she saw Barbossa lunge forward, his dagger burying into Jack's side, she knew exactly what that reason was: save Jack.
The rest of that day felt like a panicked blur. She hardly remembered pulling out her pistol, let alone firing it. Maybe somewhere deep in her psyche, she didn't want to remember and maybe she was better off. She had difficulty recalling rushing to Jack's side or instinctively pressing her bare hand against his wound. What she could remember, however, with absolute clarity was Jack asking her to stay. So stay she would.
It wasn't difficult to give up the Xinhua Dragon. She never felt at home there, not like she had on the Pearl anyways. Once she had gotten Gibbs' attention, he took care of Jack, and fighting the rest of the battle in his stead was an easy enough task. Barbossa's crew, which had initially seemed so strong and brutish, crumbled with the death of their captain. At a loss for guidance, most surrendered by jumping overboard, and those left either ended up in the brig or turned sides quickly and offered to sail under Jack's colors… once he recovered, that was.
Now, some days later, the Pearl bobbed off Tortuga. Elizabeth knew the dangling such a place under Jack's nose might help with his recuperation. But so far, nothing had seemed to help. She spent each hour acting as his personal bed nurse, changing his bandages and clothes, giving him sponge baths, making sure he stayed hydrated. She even once whispered in his ear, promising to flash him should he open his eyes for just a moment. It was an empty promise, but at the time she thought it might work.
Elizabeth wasn't even aware of how long she'd been biting her nail until she tasted blood. She winced and hissed quietly in pain, quickly pulling her wounded finger from her mouth and drying it on her white blouse. She didn't care about the stain. Tears welled up in her eyes, of physical and emotional pain, of sheer frustration. The moment they began to roll down her cheeks, she angrily brushed them away, focusing her attention on her feet.
Her thoughts were a whirlwind of "what ifs" and "maybes." Her eyes had squeezed shut when she heard the faintest of ruffles, followed by an even fainter Lizzie. Her head shot up to see a pair of tired, kohl-smudged eyes watching her from the bunk in front of her.
"You're awake," she said, startled, ignoring the stray tears that leaked from her eyes.
"Apparently," he muttered, shifting the best he could. He grimaced, holding his side as he did so. Her first instinct was to rush to his side, adjust his pillows and help him get comfortable, but she ignored those instincts. Her desire to protect herself was too strong to pass over.
Once he was settled, he looked back to her and frowned. "Yer cryin'."
"I sneezed," she lied, "and my eyes teared. That must have been what woke you."
Jack nodded slightly. "Likely so." His voice was distant with weakness, not at all like it usually was, only adding to her disheartenment. "We on the Pearl?" he asked casually, looking around.
He nodded again. "What are you doin' here, Elizabeth? Haven't you an undead 'usband to be pinin' over on some hapless little island somewhere?"
Elizabeth's mouth dropped and she let out a noise that only embarrassed herself, something between an indignant cry and an irritated squawk. "I'll have you know, Jack Sparrow, that you wouldn't even be around right now if it weren't for me!"
"Oh. Well, thank ye, then," he said nonchalantly. "And it's Captain Jack Sparrow. Thought you'd know that by now." She didn't even have time to fire a comeback at him before he continued. "And ye didn't answer me question."
She stood there for a few moments, swearing there must have been steam coming out of her ears. All of it melted away, however, when she noticed him remove his hand from his side, and that he had blood on his fingers.
"Call it an unfortunate twist of fate," she spat, sitting beside him. Without waiting for his permission, she pulled back the covers and noticed that he'd torn a stitch. She audibly groaned. "Hold still. I'll get my sewing kit."
"As if I could go anywhere," he muttered back, crossing his arms.
"You should be thankful you have those," she hotly replied, making her way to Jack's desk and opening the top drawer, where the kit was. "Without them, and without me, you'd have bled to death."
"I'll be sure to send you off with a bottle of rum."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and ignored his snide remark as she made her way back to the bunk.
"Don't bother thanking me, Jack," she quipped sarcastically, preparing her needle and thread.
"I did," he reminded her. "Besides, ye owed me one."
"How do you figure that?" she snapped. "And if your answer has anything to do with that bloody squid, I'll sew your eyes shut."
"Well, well, Mrs. Turner. Such vicious language from such a pretty mouth," Jack said, clicking his tongue and smirking at her. He noticed the annoyed look on her face and couldn't resist teasing her further. "I bet yer glad my wounds haven't affected my quick wit."
"Please." She sighed. "And you needn't call me that. Now hold still. This will hurt." He leaned back, allowing her to gently remove his bandages before pricking him with the needle. He sucked in harshly through is teeth, prompting Elizabeth's eyes to flash up to his face. "Sorry," she said quietly, before continuing with her work.
"S'alright," he said, releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding. "And why needn't I call you that? Trouble between you an' the husband?"
Elizabeth sighed again. "There is no husband. Will and I aren't married. We're not even together."
Jack was silent for several moments before continuing. "Oh. M'sorry."
Truth be told, he wasn't sorry at all. In fact, he was practically giddy. But, then again… he didn't like the thought of her marriage dissolving and her being along to pick up the pieces. And he certainly didn't like the thought of her being in pain.
At this point in his life, he knew he loved her. There was no use denying it anymore. At first, it was easy to lie to himself, to chop his constant thoughts of her (and only her) up to lust. But when he realized he actually cared about her feelings, about her wants and desires, her likes and dislikes… when he realized he wanted to know more about her, to simply spend time with her, even if it was arguing, he knew he was in deeper than he originally thought.
Before, he hadn't any intentions of telling her. Not ever. Besides, she would likely laugh at him or slap him or, knowing his luck, both. But now, with Will out of the picture… at least he had the opportunity. How strange, he mused, how his morals changed when his Lizzie was involved. If it were any other girl, he wouldn't think twice about a husband or a fiancée. He'd make his move anyways. But with her… he respected her and her feelings.
"Done already?" he asked, blinking as she pulled back.
"Yes," she replied. "That wasn't so bad, now, was it?"
"I suppose not," he said, shrugging. He sat there, motionless, watching her as she cleaned up. "So…" He found it interesting that he was such an awkward mess around her all of a sudden. Thoughts an' feelings are dangerous things, he thought. "How long 'ave I been sleepin'?" he asked.
"On and off for three days," she answered, looking at him. She tucked her foot under her opposite leg and leaned back against the fall.
Jack nodded, not willing to admit his feelings of feebleness. "And can I safely assume that Barbossa is dead?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, quietly. "For good, this time… I killed him."
"And in doin' so, ye saved me," he reminded her. "Becomin' a bit of a habit with you… Miss Swann."
She smiled. "Not all habits are bad ones."
"Amen to that." They were silent for a moment. Jack cleared his throat and Elizabeth fidgeted with her cuticle. "What are yer plans then, Lizzie Swann?" he finally asked, loving the fact that he could call her by her last name.
"I don't know," she admitted. "I guess I'll make arrangements to head back to Shipwreck Cove. I understand that I'll have a place to live there."
"S'an unfortunate place to live," Jack said quickly. "I'll have to advise you against it."
"Oh?" Elizabeth replied, arching an eyebrow. "Then what do you suggest?"
"Well…" Jack nervously scratched his forehead and averted his eyes from hers, shrugging his shoulders casually. "I asked ye to stay, did I not?"
Elizabeth sat there, just staring at him. Her heart felt as though it was going to beat right out of her chest. Her throat was tight, her mouth dry. Still, she inwardly discouraged herself, reminding the hopeful, little girl inside not to get too excited.
"I didn't realize you meant it like that," she said.
Jack nodded and bit his lip. "I did." He paused, making sure to capture her eyes with his. "An' if ye do stay, I promise I'll make it worth yer while. Ye told me once, Lizzie, that ye believed me to be a good man. Well… well, darlin', it's you who makes it so and you who makes meself believe it could be true." Another brief silence passed as the pair sat there, just staring at each other, one with silent hope and the other with sheer disbelief. "So what say you, luv? Will ye stay?"
"Oh, Jack…" Before she could stop herself, Elizabeth had flung herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her lips against his. It was only after several moments passed, several moments in which it took her to realize he wasn't kissing her back, that she pulled away, hot and embarrassed. "I'm sorry!" she quickly said. "I'm sorry… I don't know what came over me…"
Jack said nothing, but instead sat there, smirking at her. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry or run from the cabin as fast as she could.
"Well…" he finally said, "…whatever it was…" each word seemed to be carefully chosen, spoken slowly and thoughtfully, "…that came over you… let's hope it happens again very soon." Elizabeth smiled again and let out a quiet sigh of relief, letting her eyes flutter shut. When she opened them, he was still smirking, and beckoning her with his fingers. "Now if ye don't mind, dearie, I'm a bit incapacitated here…"
At this she laughed and gently leaned in to him, softly brushing her lips over his, immensely comforted and feeling so very loved as his hand came to rest on the back of her neck.
"You still haven't given me an answer, ye know," he pointed out when she pulled away.
"Oh," she replied, nodding. "Indeed I haven't. Well, since you asked so politely… I suppose I have no other choice but to… stay."
"Ah, my Lizzie," he said, his grin broadening to an almost ridiculous extent. He opened his arm to her and she exhaled contentedly, nestling into his chest, careful to avoid his stitches. She let her eyes close again when she felt his fingers run through her hair. "So. An unfortunate twist of fate, hmm?"
Elizabeth smiled. "Precisely."
A/N: Reviews are appreciated!
Thanks for reading!