Written for the 3fan_holidays fic exchange for cruisedirector who wanted PotC with lots of Elizabeth and, if in the OST era, a stronger Angelica. I gave her both here. Many thanks to my dear Hereswith for editing and suggestions.
~ Distressing Damsels ~
The light is faint gold this morning, warm with an edge of cool, not glaring, the way it was when Jack came home after the Fountain of Youth….
She remembers that day and its light exactly, and remembers too how stunned she was to see him walking toward her off that merchant vessel he and Gibbs had commandeered, looking ill enough to break her heart.
He'd looked, then had given a sudden grimace, in obvious pain.
"What's wrong?" she'd demanded of Gibbs, when Jack had doggedly marched past her, seeking the Rusty Goat and solace in a bottle.
"Well, there was a girl. Woman," Gibbs said, and grabbed her sleeve when she stiffened. "From his past, Miss Elizabeth. Blackbeard's daughter, and he thought he were shut of her, but it seems she's acquired something of her late and unlamented father's skills in black magic. Voodoo!"
"What?" She stared at Jack, hobbling up the steps to the waterfront like an old man. "She's the cause of… of…"
"Aye. We tried going back to the spit of land where Jack marooned her, but she were gone, of course. It's on a shipping lane and she's a pretty thing, even if she is traitorous as a snake, some fool was bound to pick her up afore long. She drank from the Fountain of Youth as well – but that's neither here nor there. It's a long story."
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. "I want to hear everything."
"Nothing to be done, now. She could be anywhere," Gibbs shrugged.
Gibbs eyed her, cleared his throat and muttered, "Like that is it? Aye, then. Everything it is."
It was absurd. Voodoo! Though it was true they'd seen many strange things over the years. Still, Elizabeth cornered Jack, insisting, "It's only your imagination!"
Jack slammed his medicinal tankard on the table and slurred, "You weren't there. You didn't see what that bloody bastard Blackbeard could do."
"Angelica isn't Blackbeard."
"She's his daughter! Maybe."
"Balderdash!" Elizabeth exclaimed again, and rose to her feet.
"Where are you going?" Jack said, pouting.
She eyed him. "Ten minutes ago you were wishing me at the devil."
"You said it!"
"I say a lot of things! Sit down."
"No. If we're to leave tomorrow I need to give some instructions to Tai Huang. Don't worry, I'll be back."
Jack gaped. "Leave? And we? Where are wegoing?"
Elizabeth's lips curved. "We're going to find Angelica."
They did find her, too, within a fortnight.
As Gibbs had asserted, a merchant vessel had rescued her from that particular, not quite Godforsaken, spit of land, and, consulting various charts, using the process of elimination, and soliciting advice from Calypso, Elizabeth had determined that Jack's Nemesis – "Me other Nemesis," he'd told Elizabeth with a glare – was in either Maracaibo or Santa Inez. Going by the alphabet, they'd struck gold the first time.
It seemed Angelica had an "uncle" living in Maracaibo. Tai Huang reported the particulars.
"Don Rodrigo de Palma?" Jack scoffed. "He's no more her uncle than I am!"
"He runs a shipping syndicate," Tai Huang said.
"It's a smuggling operation," Jack asserted. "Man's rich as Croesus, and ruthless as…"
"As Angelica herself? They make a fine pair, no doubt," observed Elizabeth.
"Wouldn't say that," Jack frowned. His suffering had eased in these last days, and Elizabeth knew he was beginning to wonder if she was right, that his ills were imagined.
She said, "I have no quarrel with de Palma. Tai Huang, you and your men will watch the house and let us know when the lady is alone and may be confronted."
Tai Huang bowed and left them.
Jack turned to Elizabeth. "What the devil are you thinking to do? She's dangerous, y'know."
Elizabeth smiled slowly. "So am I, Jack."
"Oh, lord," he muttered.
It didn't take long. The following morning Tai Huang reported that de Palma had sailed off to Puerto Cabezas, leaving Angelica in charge of his house until his return.
"Perfect!" Elizabeth smiled, and strapped on her sword.
"Are you coming?" Elizabeth asked her erstwhile savior.
Jack gaped at her a bit, then pulled himself together. "Wouldn't miss it."
Angelica was in the library of the house when they found her. Tai Huang and his men had disabled the guards at the door and the single footman within the hall, all in silence, and they now followed Elizabeth and Jack into the wide, carpeted room, lined with books except where tall windows let daylight stream in.
Angelica looked up from the desk where she was sitting, startled, and as Elizabeth strode forward, drawing her sword, the lady opened the narrow central drawer of the desk, rummaged, and grabbed.
Jack gave a strangled cry, staggered and fell.
Elizabeth snarled and halted in front of the desk, her sword at the ready. But Angelica – she was a beauty, Elizabeth thought, and full of fire, too, no wonder Jack had had stirrings – held up the tattered voodoo doll, ready to squeeze, to tear.
"You shall not!" hissed Elizabeth.
"I will!" Angelica hissed right back. "He left me to die!"
"You've had your revenge these many weeks, you will not have more."
Angelica laughed. "What will you do, then, Pirate King?" she said derisively. "Fight me for him?"
"Precisely," Elizabeth said.
"No! Lizzie!" Jack gasped, trying to rise.
"Yes, this is my fight, just stay out of the way!"
"She's too good, you'll never—"
But after tucking the doll in her coat pocket, Angelica stood, drew her own sword, and with a cat's smile slipped out from behind the desk.
There was the briefest of salutes and then they were at it, Tai Huang and his men standing grim but with folded arms, trusting in Elizabeth's skill. Jack, who knew Angelica, and thought he knew Elizabeth, was not so trusting, nor stoic, and, staggering out of harm's way, groaned at the deadly flash and clash of steel.
But a few passes told Elizabeth all she needed to know, and a smile curved her own lips, even as Angelica's smile faded.
"Madre de Dios!" Angelica clenched her teeth as Elizabeth drew first blood, a cut on her arm that was nonetheless too shallow to impede her much. The Spaniard redoubled her efforts, moving with lightening speed and deadly determination.
But Elizabeth was faster.
Jack gaped from where he lay, realizing that, as skilled as Angelica was, having learned to fight like a pirate from the best (himself), Elizabeth had learned from the finest swordsman in the Caribbean: Will Turner, blacksmith turned pirate turned Captain of the Flying Dutchman—and the lady's husband, if a wedding performed by Barbossa (not the Pearl's captain) in the midst of battle counted as such.
Five minutes, maybe, and that only because Elizabeth chose to play her enemy as a cat does a mouse. Angelica knew it, and with a fierce cry risked all on a time-thrust. How Elizabeth avoided killing or being killed Jack couldn't tell, but suddenly Angelica was flat on her back, and Elizabeth's sword was at her throat.
"Do you yield or do I kill you?" Elizabeth asked, barely winded and deadly serious.
By God, she's beautiful, Jack thought. Beautiful!
"Take it," Angelica spat.
Elizabeth did, reaching into the pocket with infinite care, withdrawing the doll, and with a look of triumph and satisfaction, thrusting it into the warmth of her bosom.
Jack thought he might die of delight and relief.
The light is faint gold this morning, warm with an edge of cool…
And Elizabeth smiles as Jack approaches the bed, carrying a bright-eyed Jamie Turner, now two years old and enchanted with "Uncle Jack" – just as his mother always was.
"Come here, love," she says, shifting to make room and opening her arms. The little boy snuggles atop her, and Jack sits beside her, all bedroom eyes and crooked smirk.
"That was quite good last night," he murmurs, the eyes sweeping her; then he allows them to widen in belated alarm. "You're sure the whelp won't strike me dead?"
She chuckles. "When will you stop asking me that? It's been nearly two months!"
"So it has!" Jack exclaims, as though surprised. "I'm getting bloody domesticated."
Elizabeth chuckles. "As am I!" And it's true, the restlessness that possessed her, even after Jamie's birth, has eased considerably since Jack came back to the Cove with her. "The world doesn't stop turning, Will was right."
"It does for him, I suppose," Jack observes, and there is a sadness there.
"Yes, I think it does in a way. But he loves me, Jack. He doesn't want me to live a half life."
Jack nods. "Not sure he had this particular scenario in mind, though."
There's that smirk dawning again, and Elizabeth flushes, remembering last night… and many nights before that. "I have to admit, you've taught me a great deal in recent weeks." And as Jack begins to preen, adds provocatively, "It's well that you're more skilled than I in something!" And now it's Elizabeth's turn to smirk.
Right on cue he growls, "If you're implying me swordplay ain't what it should be—"
"I did best Angelica."
"Hmmph. I take that as a challenge. We'll see who bests who later today."
Elizabeth lifted her brows. "With swords?"
"Aye, my liege. Of all kinds. Savvy?"