Pirates of the Caribbean: Sirens

The brig was hardly proper accommodations, Captain Jack Sparrow thought as he dusted off the frills of his sleeve, but he was somewhat accustomed to them, having plundered his way across the seven seas. And the brig of the Dauntless was better than most. It was a big ship, impressive in scale and pomp, accustomed to carting aristocrats here and there, its officers walking around as if they had unpardonably large sticks up their backside. There weren't even any stains on the rough iron bars. He pressed his head against them. Alas, they were not quite wide enough to fit through. Sniffing at the nearest one, he licked it and shuddered. Its thick, metallic taste with a hint of salt filled his mouth as footsteps approached down the long corridor and a cabin boy came into sight.

"Here's your supper," the boy said, shoving a hard block of cheese, some stale bread, and a cup of water at him.

Frowning, Jack knocked the cheese against the bars and it made a clanking sound. His heavily-shaded eyes narrowed with displeasure and darted aft as the commodore ducked his head and entered through the low doorway. Norrington clasped his hands behind his back and surveyed his prisoner with a hint of satisfaction, almost a smirk. He stepped aside to permit the cabin boy to leave and the young man scurried out, eyeing the other cells, full of formerly-undead pirates. Sitting down on his berth, Jack tossed the cheese onto the tin plate with a clank. "To what do I owe this honor, Commodore? Have you come to offer me a pardon for helping you rescue the future Mrs. Norrington?"

One corner of the commodore's mouth tilted upwards humorlessly and James said, "Much as it displeases me, given your recent… assistance to Governor Swann, I have been convinced to offer you a chance to earn a pardon. Consider it your last chance at redemption. Give me the Pearl and your neck will be spared the noose."

Lanterns swung overhead, casting flickering shadows against the walls. His words hung in the air and Jack considered them, his long ring-covered fingers toying with the edge of his tin cup. It occurred to him if Norrington could catch the Pearl, he could then steal it. But he was much too smart to give in easily and stretched out on his cot, placing his hands behind his head. Staring at the ceiling, he said, "It occurs to me, Commodore, that given your dislike of me and your general contempt for the noble trade of piracy, this notion of yours is not of your own making. Tell me, was it young Mr. Turner… or are you more easily swayed by more feminine charms?"

James did not respond as the pirate sat up to have a better look at his face. The slyest of grins widened, showing off an impressive assortment of silver-capped teeth. Throwing his booted feet over the side, he stood up and approached the bars. Leaning against them, he said, "What did she say to you to make you change your mind, eh? Or is this yet another wedding gift? You've already given her William Turner."

It gave him a certain amount of satisfaction to see the anger that flickered over the commodore's face. James opened his mouth as if to speak but thought better of it, tightening his hands behind his back until his fingers stung. "If it were up to me, Mr. Sparrow, you would hang."

"Captain, Captain Sparrow."

The commodore smirked. Behind him, Gillette entered and said, "Commodore, you are wanted by Governor Swann."

Pressing his head against the bars, Jack hissed, "I would rather be hanged from the mast and have my weasely black guts spill all over the deck of your shiny boat than help you and your scurvy lot capture the Pearl. So… no, I won't be taking your most generous offer. Do give my finest regards to Elizabeth."

Not at all disappointed, James turned and vanished into the gloom. Gillette sent their prisoner a haughty glance and followed. In the prolonged silence that followed, other than the loud arguing in the next cell among Barbossa's captured crew over whose fault this was, Jack stemmed his anger and dropped once more onto his cot. He removed something from his boot, a small blood red stone cold to the touch. It shimmered in the palm of his hand, the one thing the officers had not found when they had divested him of what he had taken from the pirate caves. Jack lifted it to his ear and listened, the faint melody it carried causing him a small amount of satisfaction. His head turned as he heard familiar voices and the stone vanished as his fingers curved downward, concealing it in his sleeve, as the quarreling couple came into view. The woman did not have as ample a figure as Jack liked on a woman but there was a certain attraction to her, particularly dressed in trousers. He liked the view.

Marching up to the bars, Elizabeth demanded, in her annoying, high-pitched, nasally voice, "What did you say to Commodore Norrington?"

Narrowing his gaze as if in thought, he tapped his chin and answered, "You know, darling, my memory isn't what it should be these days, too much rum and all, but I think it was to bloody well buggar off."

"Do you know how long it took me to convince him to give you a second chance?" Elizabeth hissed through her teeth. "Do you want to hang?"

"Pleased as I would be to admit to such selfless actions, love, I have no intention of hanging. It just so happens that I don't bloody well like your Commodore Norrington."

Setting her mouth into a deliberate pout, she said, "And that's worth your life, is it?"

"Should you really be concerning yourself with what happens to pirates, love, what with you being the future Mrs. Commodore and all?"

Her face flushed.

Behind her, Will suddenly stood up straighter and his hands dropped to his sides. Jack had hit a sensitive spot in both of them. "You're still going to marry him, then," said Will.

"I have no choice. I promised him that I would. You wouldn't understand, my father…"

"Should not dictate your life, and nor should James Norrington! He made you promise to marry him in exchange for something you wanted… is that really the kind of man your father would have you marry?"

Helpfully, Jack said, "Matter of fact, it was Elizabeth who suggested it."

Both of them glared at him and placing a finger over his lips, he backed away from the bars and retreated into a corner, where he leaned against the wall behind him, thoroughly pleased. Sending him an annoyed glance, Elizabeth went to the young man's side and pleaded with him. "I had to make sure you would be safe. He refused to come after you. He had Jack and me, with no reason to pursue the Pearl."

"So you sold yourself into marriage to a man you do not love to save me, thus the blame is mine."

Anger surfaced in her face and she said, "That's not fair. You make it sound so…"

"Distasteful?"

Reflected in his gaze was her shame, the anger that crept through her that he would dare insult her. It was not that James was a bad man; her father was right, in many ways he was an excellent match, an attractive, stable man who had quickly become someone of importance on the islands, well-respected by his men, desired by most of the women of society, and who never let her win an argument even if he was polite in his point of view. She had to fight for everything James gave her and it was only because she had caught him off guard that he had agreed. Marriage to him would not be unpleasant, she reasoned, merely dull, and she abhorred dullness. She was too angry to answer him and in her silence Will turned and stormed out the door, passing into the darkness. Balling her hands into fists, Elizabeth glared through the bars at the prisoner, who seemed altogether unconcerned as he stared back, pushing away from the wall and sauntering toward her.

"I don't suppose you'd have a spot of rum on you, would you, lass? Oh, wait, that's right. You don't approve of rum."

Setting her chin and hating the way his dark eyes shone out at her, Elizabeth asked, "Is that all you have to say?"

His finger rested on the bar near the curve of her hand, his eyes lingering on her pale skin before they darted upward. "When I was a lad, my father mentioned to me a story he'd heard sailing the South Seas. Bloody good pirate, he was. Is, probably, as there's no hell that wouldn't spit him out again… there was a familiar spirit, a siren, who tired of the shores of Anthenmusa and came to walk among men. She got them to do whatever she wanted but in the end the ruffians trapped her in a precious stone from the island and there she remains, awaiting a man of noble intentions to lay his hand upon it, and when that hour comes her spirit will be released, and his taken."

Never had she disliked him more than in that moment, spouting rubbish to her as if she were a child. Elizabeth set her mouth in a hard line and started to move away but his hand caught her wrist. For the first time since they had met, all traces of absurdity vanished from his face, leaving him almost frightening. In a low murmur, he looked her in the eye and said, "I cannot speak for the commodore, or for young Mr. Turner, but sirens always get burned. Savvy?"

Something in his eyes intimidated her. Jerking her arm away from him, Elizabeth flounced out the door. In her absence the murmur of his companions, the continual arguing and prodding, turned into a full-blown fistfight. Jack ignored their manly grunts and the sound of a head being smacked repeatedly against the iron bars, drawing the attention of the guards as he retreated to his cot and stretched out, chucking the stale bread across the room for the rats. He smiled and turned on his side, curling up into a ball and closing his eyes.