By J. Ferguson a.k.a. Timeless A-Peel
Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Monkey Island, the Monkey Island series, nor the characters of Guybrush Threepwood, Elaine Marley, LeChuck, or the Voodoo Lady. They're the property of LucasArts and Telltale Games. This story is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended
Timeline: Set after the conclusion of Tales of Monkey Island, Chapter Five: Rise of the Pirate God. If you haven't played to the end of the end of the whole Tales of Monkey Island series, I recommend you stop reading right now. Here there be spoilers.
Author's Note: Me again. Having polished off Rise of the Pirate God, as well as The Secret of Monkey Island, I found myself thinking on Guybrush and Elaine's relationship. I've seen quite a few people wondering what, exactly, Elaine sees in Guybrush, and for me, this sort of thinking usually channels itself into fic form. I've still only played two games in the series (Dear Lucasarts: please rerelease the rest for the new fans!), so I'm missing out on a good chunk of their relationship, but I've come up with a few ideas that make sense in my own head. To me, Elaine seems a little older than Guybrush, and, in Secret, has probably lived a lot more than he has. In my view, that's significant.
I was also a little confused by Elaine's plans and motivations at the end of the series, and I don't seem to be the only one. One person put forward a very plausible explanation for her actions, which for the time being I'm going with, and I've woven some of that into the story. Really, though, this is less to do with ToMI per se, and more of a stand-alone character piece with the game providing some context. Again, I'm writing with only a fraction of the knowledge of these characters, so forgive me if I seem to be contradicting established character traits. I just wanted to write a nice little reflective piece for Elaine this time around. Hope you enjoy. As always, reviews are appreciated.
Elaine Marley-Threepwood couldn't sleep. This was not very surprising considering the past few weeks she'd had. Beside her, Guybrush slumbered peacefully, the scores of trials he'd endured in the name of their latest adventure having finally caught up with him. Even though the rebinding of his soul to his body had healed all of his old wounds, once the initial surge of adrenaline had worn off, the process had left him drained, physically and emotionally. They'd hardly had time to reacquaint themselves as husband and wife before he'd slipped into sleep. Elaine was glad. His death had taken a lot out of her—she imagined actually being dead could be tiring in its own strange way. She looked over at the blond head lolling on the pillow beside her, blue eyes shut to the world, mouth hanging open slightly as he snored gently. Perhaps not the most enticing of expressions, but endearing nonetheless. She smiled at his peaceful respite, but knew she would not be able to glean any of her own tonight. Slowly, carefully, so as not to awaken Guybrush, she slipped from beneath the covers, and cast around for something to cover her unprotected alabaster skin, shining in the pale moonlight streaming through the pothole. She spotted Guybrush's blue jacket, tossed over the desk chair of the captain's cabin, and slipped it on, did up a few of the little-used buttons. She checked to ensure her actions had not disturbed her husband, but she needn't have worried. Guybrush Threepwood was a sound sleeper at the best of times, and had been known to doze through everything from cannon fire to screaming mobs, so it wasn't surprising a little rustling fabric hadn't disturbed him.
Elaine hugged herself, wondering what to do now that she'd gotten up. She didn't fancy the idea of leaving Guybrush, just in case he woke up. She felt it was important she be there when he did, just in case he mistook the day's events for a nightmare. Not that she could blame him…
She went to the porthole, and gazed out across the peaceful Caribbean sea, illuminated by an inordinately large and bright moon, gently rocking the ship, soothing them, cradling them. Mr. Winslow had dropped the anchor, but promised the couple he would keep an eye open for anything 'odd.' In this part of the world, that meant anything at all. Elaine still didn't quite believe they'd seen the last of LeChuck, so she was glad to have another pair of eyes keeping watch. She was convinced the infamous Voodoo Lady wanted both of her pawns to live to fight another day, to struggle on as fate would have them, maintaining some sort of equilibrium known only to her. She'd had her suspicions about the mysterious woman for years. After all the time she'd spent in politics, she'd gotten to know when someone was only telling her half the story, when there was a hidden agenda behind the smiles, the pleadings for assistance. The only good thing to come from it was that Guybrush would have to prove just as indestructible as the ghost pirate. But that hadn't made it any easier to watch LeChuck run him through…
She could still hear the visceral slice in her head, the sound of flesh and muscle and organs all being skewered. And if she closed her eyes, she could still see the surprise etched on Guybrush's features. No pain. No fear. Just shock, pure and simple. She knew it must have been reflected on her own face as she watched LeChuck withdraw his blade in horror, saw Guybrush's form crumple to the ground, saw the blood. So much blood. And so little she could do about it. She remembered trying to touch him, to comfort him, to not show fear. Elaine Marley did not stand by—she did. But at that moment, she had had the uncomfortable experience of feeling totally and utterly helpless. At that moment, it didn't matter if nature, or fate, or some Voodoo witch, ensured that he would come back. All that mattered was her husband, her partner, the love of her life, was dying. And there was nothing she could do. And it hurt. It hurt with a primal, raw, physical pain that stabbed through her heart as sure as that sword had stabbed through Guybrush's. But she put on her bravest face for him, held back as many tears as she could, vowed to avenge him, and let him go.
It still hurt to think about, to see it in her mind's eye. His face going slack. The heartbeat fading beneath her hand. The way his body crumpled to one side. And the anger, the anger that bubbled up from below, the anger his words had spurred in her, that made her pick up the sword and fight. Fight for him.
That was the question everyone had on their minds, she knew, ever since she had first crossed paths with Guybrush over a decade ago. She had been the prize catch of the Caribbean. Only 22, already established as governor. Beautiful, intelligent, multi-talented, she had never wanted for suitors. Truth be told, she never wanted any of them, either, especially not the pirates. She had been happy in her chosen career, happy with her life, and wanted nothing more than for it to carry on. That is, until one of her aides had brought her her daily dose of island news, which had included the forthcoming arrival of a young pirate wannabe by the name of Guybrush Threepwood. "Threepwood," she remembered the aide chuckling. "What sort of poor unfortunate sod gets saddled with a name like that?" She remembered rebuking him, and not being entirely certain why. All she knew was the name intrigued her. She didn't think it was stupid at all. She was possibly the only human being on the planet who didn't. And she knew instantly that she wanted to meet him.
He hadn't been quite what she'd expected, she had to admit. Young—younger than her, by at least three or four years, she'd estimated. Wide-eyed, naïve, wet-behind-the-ears. All accurate descriptors. All reasons why the pirate community had been puzzled to discover he had captured the seemingly icy heart of the governor. But in Elaine's eyes, those hadn't been Guybrush's flaws. Oh, at first she'd been disappointed. He couldn't even manage to complete a sentence to her face. She remembered getting impatient, not being one to suffer fools gladly. But soon after she had walked away from their first encounter, she realised that maybe she was looking at him all wrong, comparing him to the other pirates, to the other men who had sought to sweep her off her feet—literally. Guybrush was open, and honest, and innocent. And clearly inexperienced when it came to the opposite sex. But there was another quality, something that made her want to give him another chance. He was something she would never find again, and could not afford to lose. So when she heard his life was in danger, she knew she had to help him.
Because when she found him, soaked and shivering, on the boardwalk, he'd both surprised her, by saving himself from drowning, and endeared himself to her by revealing a boyish charm once he actually said something. And because it quickly became clear that he had no other agenda. Guybrush wore his motivations on his sleeve. He wanted to be a pirate, and he didn't pretend any different. For Elaine, someone jaded after her years in politics, the idea of someone who was nothing but what he claimed to be was unbelievably refreshing
It had been instant attraction. The Voodoo Lady probably would have called it fate, but the Voodoo Lady said a lot of things, and Elaine was warier than ever of trusting to any of them. Besides, fate was nothing. An overbearing master people used as an excuse for not bothering to take control of their lives. Elaine was a great believer in free-will. And she knew that the way her heart leapt into her throat when she spoke to Guybrush had less to do with the mysterious workings of the cosmos and more to do with the fact that he had a) gotten himself out of a scrape without her help, and b) the fact that he was so wonderfully happy to hear that she had been willing to rescue him. Perhaps she should have been more reticent in confessing her newfound feelings as soon as they bubbled up in her chest, but what was love if not impulsive? And, above all, in Guybrush's case, blind. She didn't know how much he'd heard about her, but he hadn't been on Melee Island for very long, certainly not long enough to decide that seducing the governor would be the best way to burnish his reputation. And anyway, anyone who stammered that much around a woman the first time he met her clearly wasn't Casanova material anyway. He hadn't questioned her reasoning for wanting to hide their newfound infatuation. He hadn't forced her hand, hadn't taken advantage of her position. And, though she suspected it had been a strain, he had been willing to finish his pirate tasks first, so they could pursue their fledgling romance without distractions. It all proved to her, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he didn't want her as a prize, or for her power, or simply as another task to be surmounted. He just wanted her. Elaine Marley. Not the governor. Not the most desired woman in the Caribbean. Just a girl he met and wanted to know better. Just as someone to love. His eyes were wide open and innocent. He had no idea how complicated life could be, particularly when it came to her, and he didn't care. Even when LeChuck had kidnapped her, that hadn't changed. They would be together, and if obstacles got in the way, well, he would have to deal with them. It never occurred to him that it could all fall apart, that he would fail. Not really. He was going to save her. To him it was as simple as that. That focus. That drive. That unswerving surety that no matter what happened, he could work something out, appealed to her. Elaine didn't give up easily, and it was refreshing to find someone so determined and with such pure motives.
But still. Why him?
Egotistical. Yes, she'd discovered that about him later. He could be a bit full of himself. More style than substance. He'd succeeded in alienating her on more than one occasion, and she couldn't deny she found herself wondering if the clear-eyed young man she first met had only been an illusion. But it was unfair to expect so much of him at such a young age, with so little experience under his belt. With time, he grew, he blossomed. He developed from boy to man, growing, evolving, honing his strengths, his wits, his swordplay, to compensate for his weaknesses. Oh, he still retained some of his ego, but then she had never wanted him to completely lose his bravado, hadn't wanted to puncture it completely. Guybrush without a little bravado, a little showmanship, a little of that slightly naïve belief that he really was everything he believed himself to be, wasn't Guybrush at all. He didn't need anyone else to tell him he was a Mighty Pirate. He was confident enough to decide for himself that he was, and there was something endearing about confidence…
But most of all, it was his heart, his unswerving drive to do the right thing in the end, that made her linger on after the initial thrum of young love. And the fact that he could grow, did grow, in such ways that meant, occasionally, she didn't have to be the strong one. She could lean on him, rely on him, and not worry about being thought weak. Or being let down.
Because for the first time in her life, Elaine Marley had someone else to rely on for a change. Being independent and self-sufficient was all well and good, but it was nice to know, in the back of her mind, that there was someone else out there who would fight to save her lest her ambitious plans go awry. Guybrush would never give up on her, would never leave her to her fate. That same unswerving devotion had maintained through all the years, all the trials and tribulations. His love would always bring him back to her.
Even in death.
She knew he wouldn't abandon her. Not just because she was fairly certain the Voodoo Lady would find some way to resurrect him, if only to keep him and LeChuck at each other's throats, but because he was stronger than that. Because he always came. Always. Because he loved her.
That was why she'd given him her ring when he lost his own with his hand. To remind him, no matter what happened, that she was still relying on him, that she still loved him, that she still needed him to come, no matter how self-reliant she was. Love would bring him back to her. Love would make him save her. And it was that knowledge, that unshakeable faith in him, that had led her to allow LeChuck to transform her into his demon bride, so she could get her immortal hands on the Cutlass of Kaflu. She knew he would bring her back, even in her new evil form. And he had.
But oh, to see back in that poor, battered body, soul clinging to corporeal form so tenuously as LeChuck lay into him mercilessly, throwing, hitting, keelhauling. She could hear the pain in his voice, could see it in his face, how much he was hurting, how much punishment his body was taking. And yet, even at that point, what did he fear the most?
"Don't ever become LeChuck's demon bride again! Promise me!"
That was what worried him. Her betraying their love. Her falling victim to LeChuck. Her. And to keep her safe, to keep the whole Caribbean safe, he had been willing to sacrifice himself—mind, body, shred of life. Everything. The way a hero would. The way the man she loved would.
Because, contrary to what everyone else thought, he was a mighty pirate. Where it counted.
In the end, it didn't matter why people thought she was with him, or what anyone thought when they were together, whether they understood. Because all that mattered was that he was her man. And he was mighty enough for her.
She whirled around at the panic in his voice. Guybrush was sitting up in the bed, sheet pooled around his hips. The blue eyes were wide and bright in the moonlight, the whites showing more than usual. Elaine hurried over from the window to sit on the bed in front of him.
"I'm here," she assured him, her clear British tones cutting through the fearful fog in his eyes. Up close she could see the sweat beaded on his top lip, and the slight bulge of his heart as it thundered beneath his skin. She put her hand against it, trying to soothe him with a touch. "Guybrush, what is it?"
"Nothing," he said hoarsely. "Just a nightmare. I saw—" He looked away, blonde hair flopping into his eyes. "I saw you as LeChuck's demon bride, looming over me with that bottle of root beer. The look in your eyes…" He shuddered involuntarily, and Elaine felt a pang. She couldn't remember the incident herself—her memory had left her when she had returned to her mortal form--but she could imagine how horrible it must have been for Guybrush, the pain of betrayal. She put her hands on either side of his face, forced him to look into her eyes.
"That wasn't me," she said firmly, holding his gaze with her own, forcing him to see the love so he could replace it with the pain. "I wasn't in my right mind. You know that. I love you."
He nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I know. It's just--" He sighed, let his head fall back against the headboard, taking the long golden hair with it. "But is it over, really? What if you're right? What if the Voodoo Lady's going to set LeChuck against us, over and over, forever? Is that going to be our whole life? Fighting LeChuck?"
"If it is, then we'll fight him together, my love," Elaine said firmly, putting her arms around him. He reciprocated in kind.
"You really want to stick around? Knowing that?"
She smirked, pulled away so he could see her face. "Anything for the mightiest pirate ever to sail the Caribbean."
He grinned back. Nothing pulled Guybrush out of his doldrums faster than an ego massage. "Plunder bunny…" he said fondly.
"Threepie." She was grinning now, too, and she recognised that glint in the eye.
He noticed what she was wearing for the first time. "Hey, that's my jacket."
"Well," Elaine said with a smile, "I'd better take it off, then, hadn't I?"