The Impending Disaster
Walking down the streets, arm in arm with Jack, left Lucy feeling funny. Never mind that she had done the exact same thing yesterday—only, yesterday, he had been Mister Teague. This was completely different, simply because it was her long lost Sparrow. It was strange to think that the man beside her was the same young boy she had once adored so thoroughly. And yet, it was logical—the man so greatly resembled the boy that it was almost as if he hadn't changed at all.
But the memory of his lips pressed tight to her own begged to differ. As a child, Lucy had instinctively known that there was a reason men and women paired off, and that whatever it took to make a good match, she and Sparrow had possessed it in abundance. Being so young, she hadn't understood attraction or the fact that she had been suffering from it, a fact that he, six years her senior, would have known full well. Yet he'd never done anything untoward, even with the growing urges of a man plaguing his young body. But he was a boy no longer—he'd grown into Jack, and Jack obviously had no issue with obeying the siren call of attraction.
Lucy was surprisingly all right with that revelation, but she did wonder where that left their relationship. They were just reunited, childhood friends, yet that kiss seemed to suggest more.
"Well," she prompted, shaking her thoughts off.
He gave her a sideways look, his chocolate eyes regarding her lazily. "Well?"
"What have you been doing for eighteen years?" she pressed.
"I doubt those stories are fit for your ears, love," he replied teasingly.
Lucy would have stamped her foot if they hadn't been walking; he was being difficult on purpose. "You promised to tell me," she reminded him darkly.
Jack shook his head. "I promised to come back, which I have."
"So we're just going to walk around in an awkward silence then?" she demanded, tightening her arm about his.
He smiled wickedly and leaned in close. "I prefer to think that our silence is cozy—intimate even."
Lucy ignored his flirtation. "You can't just barge into my life after all these years and not tell me what you've been up to!"
"The same goes for you, you know," he replied, a strange gleam in his eye.
"Ah," she nearly laughed, "you want a trade."
"I am a pirate, after all," he nodded seriously. "I don't give something for nothing."
She had guessed that, of course, but this was the first time that he had actually admitted to his profession. Curiously, she was undisturbed by the news, despite all of its implications. "I'm afraid my stories aren't all that grand; they're quite boring, in fact."
"Bore me, then," he smiled once more, "although I doubt you can."
What was it about love that made a man stupid? Captain Teague pondered the question one night as he stood at the helm. He wasn't sure where the thought had come from, but he was willing to give it attention.
Was it the lust? A lusty man would fight tooth and nail, to the death if need be, for a pretty lass, which was certainly stupid because there were always more lasses to be had. But no, that wasn't it—a man could kill for the whore he wanted, but not love the woman herself.
Perhaps it was the monogamy. A man in love wanted none but his sweetheart, and so he abstained from all others. Like a corked bottle, his desires would grow, creating a pressure that had no outlet. And, if the man's love was particularly unreceptive or a touch cruel, the man would suffer greatly for his lass when he could simply avail himself of others who were just as fine. To a pirate that did seem rather stupid, but it wasn't the dangerous stupidity that Teague was looking for.
No, the real danger was caring, he finally thought. A man who cared was a man who stood to lose something.
Lucy spent the better part of the week trying to bore Jack, because for every lackluster story she told, he gave her a marvelous tale in return.
"Quite the adventure," she smiled at him from the bed. He had snuck into her room that morning, watching over her until she had awakened. Seeing him first thing in the morning had sent her heart to fluttering, especially when he'd started to regale her with stories of his piratical exploits while she still laid in bed. She couldn't help but feel that this was all right somehow.
"It's also where I got—" he fumbled around with the braids in his hair, frowning when his fingers apparently found nothing. "Forgot I had to take them out."
She sat up, uncaring whether he saw her nightgown. "Take what out?"
"I started collecting beads and trinkets from everywhere I've made port, as a sort of record of where I've been," he replied, coming over to the side of the bed, "I keep most of them threaded in my hair, but I didn't want to attract too much attention while I was here, so I took them out."
"Why are you here?" She frowned—it was a thought that had been bothering her for days. "I'd be flattered if it was me, but you were just as surprised as I was."
He frowned a little himself, stooping down so that their gazes were more or less level. "In a way, you are the reason."
"But also not," Lucy guessed rightly.
Jack nodded and began explaining the strange properties of his compass to her—if it had been any other man, she would have thought him a liar, but Jack seemed much too sincere.
"So your compass brought you to Nevis for me," she smiled, but it immediately melted into a concerned frown, "although you didn't know it at first and, in the absence of that reason, you decided to order a raid on Tamarind Bay instead?"
"That about sums it up," he replied, trying to smile charmingly, as though that would change what he had just told her.
"Jack," Lucy clutched at her bedclothes, "Tamarind Bay is my home!"
He flinched at her exclamation. "I had noticed that—it took me a while, but I did notice."
"You must order the attack off," she told him seriously.
But Jack only shook his head, a pained look in his dark eyes. "It's not that simple, love."
She balked at him. "But you're the Captain!"
"Which means I tread a very fine line between being a part of the crew and mastering the crew—if I lose their favor, I lose everything," he replied, and there was such a strangled and desperate note in his voice that she wondered if he wasn't speaking from experience. "An unpopular Captain doesn't stay Captain long."
Lucy frowned. She didn't have much in Tamarind Bay, seeing as she led such a solitary lifestyle, but it was still her home. There were many people here that she cared about, and she couldn't honestly believe that Jack would put all that she cared for in danger just to fill his own pockets. "So what will you do?"
"I'll think of something," he sighed heavily, "but you best come to terms with the fact that this raid will probably go forward as planned."
That wasn't what she wanted to hear, he could tell by the way she suddenly narrowed her hazel eyes. In fact, judging by the sudden downturn of her lips and the light flush of her cheeks, she was getting quite mad at him.
Jack didn't know how to smooth over this problem. Lucy hadn't for a single moment seemed to care that he was a pirate—until he'd tried to act like one. Not that he blamed her, raids were dangerous business and it seemed as though everything she cared for resided in Tamarind Bay. How was he meant to explain his position to her when she was the one put in danger?
His crew was in a tricky place; they had suffered a bad string of losses. The Pearl was poorer than she'd been in ages, and the crew, though loyal, was looking to Jack to straighten things out. They would lose faith in him if he ordered off the raid, and the last thing he needed right now was someone edging to replace him—he'd gotten more than enough of that from Barbossa.
Still, there had to be some way that he could satisfy his crew and not completely destroy Lucy's trust in him. Perhaps a sneak attack of some kind? That's what he had thought of originally, seeing as he didn't want to accrue any more losses for the Pearl—she was already sailing shorthanded—and low losses for the Pearl meant, hopefully, low losses for Tamarind Bay, which would please Lucy. There had to be someway to bleed Tamarind Bay dry without actually making it bleed.
Lucy's hand slipped into his own and she tugged at him until he was sitting on the edge of her bed. "It must be dreadfully hard to be a pirate Captain."
"Sometimes," Jack replied seriously. He could tell she still didn't fully appreciate his position, but she was trying to make peace because she was too enamored of his company to desire anger. "On occasion, being Captain is vastly more dangerous than simply being a pirate—you are surrounded on all sides by potential enemies because you can never achieve full camaraderie with your crew."
Her fingers began to dance over his hand, tracing intricate designs into his skin. "Why do you stay Captain then?"
"It's what I was trained to be," he answered without thinking. "It's all I know how to do." His hand curled around her wrist, where he began to trace creeping designs of his own. "I served my time as a crewman, I struggled my way to the top—I deserve to be a Captain. And it's not always terrible," he smiled. "The ship is mine, certain members of the crew are loyal to their very last breath, and I get to choose where we go and what we do when we get there. Captaincy is very hard, but it's easier than not being a Captain."
She frowned ever so slightly. "You say that as if you know—"
"I do," he cut her off, his thoughts turning to Barbossa once more. "But that is a story for another time, milady," he lifted her arm, pressing a gentle kiss to the inside of her wrist.
Jack couldn't help but touch her every time they were together. Usually they were just fleeting caresses or brief little kisses, but he wanted more—after eighteen years, and Lucy being even more lovely than before, he needed more. The problem was he wasn't sure how far to push her; she was receptive to him, but how far was she willing to go?
These thoughts were damn near painful to him, a man who was used to simply taking whatever he wanted. He hated waiting on her to set up their boundaries, but what else could he do?
Her hand flew to his lips, her brow furrowing. "Did you hear something?"
He was about to shake his head when he heard the distinctive clack of a lady's shoes in the hall outside. For a moment he just stared at Lucy as he processed the thought that they were likely about to get caught, and nothing could look worse than a man sitting at the edge of a lady's bed—never mind the fact that they were both fully dressed. Unless the person about to enter was an easily bribed maid, there would be scandal enough to end in wedding bells.
Somehow, he wasn't as disturbed by that thought as he'd always been before.
Lucy knew those shoes—they were Agatha's wooden-heeled boots, she was the only woman on the island with a pair like them. She was also the only woman on the island who would burst into Lucinda's room unannounced—and if Agatha caught Jack sitting at the edge of Lucy's bed, she wouldn't be Widow Maplethorpe for much longer.
And there was Jack, just sitting there as though waiting to get caught!
In a flash, Lucy jumped out of bed, taking Sparrow with her. "Honestly," she grumbled as she ducked the both of them behind her dressing screen, "you're a pirate; shouldn't you know how to hide in situations like these?"
He stood behind her, slipping his arms around her waist as he leaned close. "You're thinking of a lover," he whispered into her ear just as the door opened. "A pirate doesn't much care if he's caught or not."
"Yes, but right now you're Mister Teague," she hissed back, praying that the dressing screen covered the both of them, "and that presents problems for the both of us."
"Lucinda?" Agatha called, a soft thump announcing that she'd sat in one of the chairs before the fireplace.
"Ah," Lucy stuttered, elbowing Jack in the ribs when his breath tickled her neck. "I'm just getting dressed."
"It's quite late to only be getting up now," Aggie rustled something, probably adjusting the folds of her skirts. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Perfectly fine," she replied, hoping the older woman wouldn't notice the slightly hysterical note in her voice. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"I just received word from your brother," Agatha said, a smile in her voice. "He intends to arrive sometime next week."
Jack's lips brushed against her ear, making her shiver. "Your brother?" he asked in a nearly silent whisper.
"Alasdair's brother," Lucy tried to shush him, but she couldn't help explaining, "although even without Alasdair, Hadley would still be family, seeing as he's a distant cousin."
"Lucinda," Agatha sounded concerned now, "did you hear me?"
"Ah, yes, it's just… it's been so long since I've seen Hadley that I was overcome with," she searched around for an appropriate word. "Shock," she finished lamely.
Jack hid a chuckle in her shoulder, his hands moving to caress her ribs through the thin material of her nightgown. "It's hard to imagine you shocked at anything."
Lucy slapped at his hands. "I can be delicate when the occasion calls for it, you know!"
Agatha, meanwhile, carried on with her conversation, blissfully unaware of what was happening behind the dressing screen. "It looks like our list of guests is turning out quite nicely. All that's left is to ask Mrs. Dockery if she intends to bring a guest or not, and to track down Mister Teague on the matter of his attendance."
"Mister Teague?" Lucinda asked in a strangled voice. She could feel Jack's silent laughter—he was enjoying this entirely too much.
"Surely you haven't forgotten that we invited him!" Aggie sounded scandalized.
Lucy squirmed when Jack's head came to rest over her shoulder, his arms tightening about her waist. "As I remember," she replied hoarsely, "it was you who invited him."
"I think he shall be quite the addition to our little celebration," Agatha enthused. "Despite his… eccentricity he must have all manner of interesting stories to tell. Oh, I do hope he can attend!"
"Somehow," Lucy gave an un-lady like snort, "I get the feeling that he won't be able to resist."
Jack's hands began creeping once more, as if in agreement with her last statement. This time he slid to her hips, nearly making her giggle when he found a ticklish spot.
She caught his hands in her own, bringing them back up to her waist. "Are you trying to get us caught?"
He pressed his face to the side of her throat, and she could feel his smile. "What if I am?" he returned darkly.
Agatha rustled again, getting to her feet this time. "Do you need help with your dress, Lucinda?" she asked, approaching the dressing screen.
Lucy felt a moment of pure terror—they could not be caught! "What?" she squawked.
"You're taking an awfully long time to get dressed," Aggie said in concern once more. "Perhaps you're having trouble?"
The breath left Lucinda's lungs, but she managed to get out a hoarse, "No!"
The older woman turned away. "There's no need to shout."
"Why don't you go down to the parlor, Aggie? I'll," she stuttered as Jack's teeth closed gently about the shell of one ear, "I'll meet you there in a few moments."
Agatha gave a long suffering sigh but complied, grumbling all the while.
Jack, however, didn't move, didn't let Lucy go, even when they had been alone for several minutes. Time seemed to stretch out dangerously in those stolen moments behind the dressing screen—they were pressed together like lovers, and if they stayed that way much longer, they would become lovers. Lucy had loved the boy, but could she love the man? Did he even want to be loved? He was a pirate, after all, his future was uncertain, and she didn't want to commit her heart to something that would not last. Knowing this, she found the strength to push him away.
He didn't go far, in fact he only gave her just enough room to begin dressing—a process that he seemed to take acute interest in. "You seem embarrassed. Why is that, I wonder?" he mused aloud, his smile dark and self-satisfied.
"Because I've never been so undressed in front of a man before," she snapped back, praying that her face didn't reflect her embarrassment too much. For a brief moment she eyed her undergarments—to get them on she would have to doff her nightgown, but there was no way she could do that in front of him. With a heavy sigh, she scrapped the idea and decided to use her nightgown as an undergarment.
"Not even your husband?" he pressed, prowling behind her in a very disconcerting way.
Lucy struggled with her corset, but it laced in the front so she managed to get it closed eventually. "Especially not my husband," she replied after a moment.
Jack didn't comment, but he did seem to draw closer at those words.
She struggled to get into the heavy mass of her dress, and was quite pleased with herself when she fastened most of the thing on her own. In fact, she'd managed to do everything but secure the neat row of pearl buttons that lined the back of the gown. There was no help for it; she would have to ask him to do it. "Button that up, will you?"
He stepped close, until she could almost feel his legs pressing into her wide skirts. "I thought you didn't need help," he replied, a smile in his voice.
She gathered her hair and glanced over she shoulder at him. "Most men would jump at the chance," she told him haughtily.
Something dark and altogether dangerous began to burn in his eyes, and when he spoke his voice was frighteningly fierce for all its gentle smoothness. "Most men would lose their hands if they tried."
Lucy shivered as he slowly fastened her buttons, thinking over his change of mood. He did that sometimes—became someone she didn't recognize, someone possessive and intense. She didn't know what to make of it.
He finished with her buttons, but didn't move away. Instead, he merely pressed closer, until she could feel him along the entire length of her back, as she had before. But this time he didn't lay his hands upon her—one hand moved to snatch the small object hanging from the end of the dressing screen. "I can't believe you kept my coin purse all these years," he said, a faint note of awe in his voice as he studied the threadbare little bag.
"It was all I had of you," she swallowed thickly, fighting down the urge to squirm or to face him; if she faced him they would end up kissing. "Even after I had resigned myself to the fact that we would probably never meet again, I couldn't let go of it. Or of you; your memory has haunted me every day of my life."
"You were only six at the time," there was the slightest hint of a laugh in his voice, "and when I first left, I was forever afraid that you would forget me. Maybe it's just the pirate in me, but I'm glad you couldn't."
Lucy felt her heart stutter. She wanted to kiss him, wanted to know this man behind her in every way possible, but she was afraid of taking more without knowing where his own heart laid in the matter. "Where do we stand, Sparrow?"
"Literally," he drawled, "in your bedroom."
She rolled her eyes, though he couldn't see it. "Metaphorically?"
Jack sighed heavily and drew her into his arms. "It would be foolish to deny that there is something more between us than simple memories." His lips grazed the side of her throat, caressed the very edge of her jaw. "But I don't know what name to give it. Do you, Lucy?"
"No," she said, wrapping her arms over his, holding him close, "but—"
He cut her off with a shake of his head. "Let's just take the days as they come."
His answer hurt her somehow. "All right," she replied sadly, quietly.
There was an awkward pause from behind her, as though he knew how deeply his words had struck her. "You'd best go before your friend gets suspicious," he said just as quietly, letting her go.
She nodded, already moving the to the door, even as she wished for nothing more than to be back in his arms.
"Oh, and Lucy?" he called.
She looked back for his question, but his lips met her instead. It was a gentle kiss that sought to rekindle whatever it was that was dying between them. His lips swept over hers in delicate strokes, making her wish there was more to this embrace than just the simple meeting of their lips. Still, she couldn't help but to feel a little better after the sweet gesture, and when they parted there was the ghost of a smile playing over her face.
"Don't frown like that, love," Jack told her seriously. "We're in this together, after all—whatever 'this' happens to be."
A/N: It is no secret that my male protagonists invariably have a possessive streak—however, when it comes to Jack Sparrow, I actually feel justified for once. He might be a (philandering) pirate, but look at the lengths he went to in order to get back the Black Pearl, despite the fact that he could have easily gotten himself another ship. If that's not a display of possessive behavior, than I don't know what is. In regards to Lucinda, I think this is probably because she was the only stable part of his life before piracy, so I find it kind of logical that he would regard her with the same feelings he regards his ship.
Please Review! I need them to combat the stress of upcoming final exams.
Disclaimer: I am making no money off this story because I own none of it.