A/N: I'm back!
Chapter 28: The Bargain
For the second time that day, Santana found herself walking up to the governor's palace, this time accompanied by Blaine and Mike. She was exhausted, but she forced herself not to think of the pain in her stomach as they went as fast as they could to Jesse's house. They had briefly gone to visit Quinn, and Santana had nearly fainted at the sight of her. Her eyes were shut and her chest was barely moving; her face had been pale and there was blood all over her clothes. She'd spent less than a minute looking at her best friend before announcing that they had to go see Jesse—Quinn simply would not last without the Elixir.
"I'm confused," Mike said, somewhat breathlessly. "Isn't this the guy you went to see earlier about the Elixir? Wasn't he kind of an asshole?"
"I guess he changed his mind when he found out we were serious," Santana replied. "He's still an asshole, though. But we can't afford to be picky."
"Are we sure we can trust him, though?" Blaine asked. "I mean…to send us to the right place?"
Santana shrugged. "Like I said, he's the only chance we've got."
The gates were open and unguarded when they reached them. Jesse had obviously decided there were more important things at the moment than protecting the fort. Santana, Mike, and Blaine were able to walk right in and go up the driveway to the front door. This time, Santana didn't take a moment to admire the beautiful house. She pushed her way through the large doors and went straight to Jesse's office, hoping that he would be there.
He wasn't. She turned to Mike and Blaine. "What should we do?" she asked. "I have no idea where else he might be."
"Maybe we should split up and look for him," Blaine suggested.
"This place looks huge," Mike pointed out.
If only Brittany were here, Santana thought suddenly. As soon as she thought it, she had the urge to run from the palace and run through the entire port looking for her girlfriend. It seemed more important than Jesse or some stupid Elixir, and the only thing that kept her from leaving the room was the memory of Quinn's broken body.
"Let's do it," Santana said. "Let's split up."
Thankfully, Jesse chose that moment to enter his office. He looked at his visitors in shock, but then his face relaxed into a relieved smile. "You're here," he said. "Does this mean you'll do it?"
Santana took a deep breath and glanced at her friends. "Yes," she said. "We'll do it. We'll bring you the Elixir."
"Perfect," Jesse said. He hurried to his desk and sat down behind it. "Now, it's important that we don't waste time. I'm going to give you a map…" He began opening and closing drawers, clearly looking for something. "This cannot be shared with anyone, understand? Once you're back here with the Elixir, I'll honor our end of the deal. But you can't tell anyone about any of this. Okay?"
"Sure," Santana said.
Jesse paused and looked up at her seriously. "I need you to promise."
"We promise," Santana replied.
"Okay." Jesse pulled out a map and unrolled it on the table. Then he picked up a pencil and drew a circle. "We are here," he said, "and the Elixir is hidden right over here." He drew another circle and connected the two with a line.
Santana leaned over the map and gasped. "T-the Islas Peligrosas? That's where the Elixir is hidden?"
"Yeah," Jesse said. "Why, you've heard of them?"
"I…yes," Santana said, her chest tightening. "I have."
"They're not far from here, you'll probably get there in a couple of days. When you do…" He pulled out another map, this time a close up of the islands, "it's important that you follow this route exactly. The Islas Peligrosas are very dangerous if you don't know where you're going."
He started to draw a route around all of the tiny islands, as Santana watched him with a growing feeling of dread. Go back to the place where her parents died? How was she supposed to handle that?
"You'll have an advantage," Jesse said. "The Dalton is going to have a lot of trouble navigating, and I'm sure that nobody else knows this route through the islands except for me. With your speed, I don't think it will be too difficult for you get there first."
"And what are we expected to do," Blaine asked, "once we get it?"
"Just bring the chest back to me," Jesse said.
"And what about your end of the deal?"
"I'll tell everyone to leave you alone," Jesse promised, "the moment you bring it back to me." He looked at Santana. "So we have a deal?"
Santana clenched her jaw and nodded. "Yeah," she said. "We do."
"Good," Jesse said with relief. He rolled up the maps and held them out. Mike took them. "Good luck," he said, "and be quick."
Blaine and Mike looked at Santana and she jerked her head towards the door. They were about to leave when it opened, and two guards stepped inside. One of them was Rory, and the other was older and unfamiliar. "Sir," the older one said. "Cooper Anderson has been taken to his cell. We've set the execution for tomorrow at dawn."
"Excellent," Jesse said. He shook his head. "You can't trust anyone these days…"
"Hold on," Blaine said suddenly. "Did you say Cooper Anderson?"
"I did," Jesse said. He looked up at Blaine curiously. "Why? Any relation?"
"I…no," Blaine said. He caught Santana's eye for a moment, but it was long enough for her to see that something was seriously wrong. "No, there isn't," he continued. "Common name, I suppose."
"Okay, good," Jesse said. "That traitor is the reason why we have an issue with the Dalton in the first place. We're getting rid of him as soon as possible."
"You ought to keep better track of your men," Santana couldn't help but say. "You do realize you've put us all in danger."
Jesse looked at her. She could tell that he was forcing himself not to make a snappy retort, and it was immensely satisfying to her. "Yes, well," he said. "We will definitely take more precautions in the future. Now, if you'll excuse me…we both have work to do."
"Right," Santana said. She looked at Mike and Blaine. "Come on, let's go."
"I hope to see you soon," Jesse said as they left.
Once they were out in the foyer, Santana turned to Blaine. "What's going on?" she asked quietly.
Blaine led the way to the door. "I…I just never thought I would hear the name Cooper Anderson again."
"Why?" Santana asked. "Who is he? You are related to him, aren't you?"
Blaine nodded. "I am." He held the door open and looked at Santana seriously. "He's my brother."
Santana's eyes widened. "But then…why didn't you tell that to St. James? We can negotiate his release!"
"Somehow I don't think that's going to happen," Blaine said.
"Why not? We have so much leverage over Jesse! He needs us."
"That's what you think," Blaine said. "But I'm not so sure. I just met this Jesse guy and I already don't trust him."
"Besides," Mike added, "we're totally planning to double cross him. Aren't we?"
"Exactly," Blaine said. "We have to assume everyone is about as honest as we are, and we're pirates."
"I don't understand," Santana said. "You don't want Jesse to know Cooper is your brother, so you're just going to let him die?"
Blaine shook his head. "I'm not going to let him die. I'm going to save him."
"But we have to save Quinn!" Santana protested. "We can't have any distractions right now!"
"But Santana, this may be the only way to save Quinn!" Blaine protested. "We can go get the Elixir, maybe we can even steal the key, but that's not the only thing protecting it! It's not going to just be sitting there in the chest like a bottle of rum. There are other obstacles, I'm sure of it."
Santana wanted to protest, but she remembered what Jesse had told them earlier. There were other things protecting the Elixir of Life. Jesse wouldn't have trusted them to bring it back if he wasn't absolutely sure they wouldn't be able to open it. "So what are you saying?" Santana said. "I thought you were the one who suggested using the Elixir on Quinn."
"We absolutely should," Blaine said. "But we need more information first. We need Cooper."
"We don't even know where he's being kept," Santana said. "How are we supposed to find him?"
Blaine faltered. "Maybe…we can ask someone or something."
"Ask them how to get into the jail? I don't think that'll work," Santana said. "I'm sorry, but I don't think this will work. Getting someone from the Dalton to tell us what they know is probably more realistic…"
"That's not going to work," Blaine protested, "and it doesn't help Cooper. Santana, he's my brother!"
"I've never once heard you mention a brother!" Santana replied.
"I haven't seen him in years, but…he's family."
"And what about Quinn?" she demanded.
"Of course I haven't forgotten about Quinn!" Blaine said. "And we can save them both, if we just—"
"Santana," Mike interrupted. "Why don't you just ask Brittany?"
Santana turned away from Blaine. "Ask…Brittany?"
"Yeah," Mike said. "You know, ask her to take us to Cooper. She must know where they keep the prisoners."
"Yeah," Blaine said, sounding relieved. "That's a great idea. Get Brittany to take us there, we can save Cooper and then be on our way."
"No," Santana said. "I can't do that."
"Why not?" Blaine demanded.
Santana took a deep, shaky breath. "Because she left."
They spent what was left of the daylight getting ready for their journey. Puck and Finn had to carry an unconscious Quinn back to the boat, which went more smoothly than her trip to the doctor, mostly because she was no longer bleeding. She remained unresponsive, however, and Rachel would not stop weeping at the sight of her. Santana was torn between wanting to hug Rachel and wanting to throw her overboard. But she knew that Quinn would want her to show compassion, so she settled for patting Rachel's back awkwardly and excusing herself to her cabin. She was exhausted from the day's proceedings and yet she couldn't bring herself to sleep. We're going to the Islas Peligrosas, she kept thinking to herself. We're going to the one place I never wanted to see again…and Brittany isn't coming with us.
She'd managed to avoid giving Mike and Blaine any details on Brittany's departure, though she was sure the crew were talking about it. They seemed to sense her need for space, however, and she hoped that they continued to leave her alone because she wasn't quite sure how to explain things to them. What was she supposed to say? That her father was a murderer? Technically, they should all understand—they had killed people before, it was what pirates did. But there was something different about what her father had done, shooting the governor in cold blood, and Santana couldn't excuse him no matter how hard she tried. If the governor had lived, would he have saved Brittany from Tanaka and his family? Would Brittany be in the palace right now, happily married to Jesse St. James, with no memories of pain and abuse to haunt her? Santana couldn't shake the feeling that her father had destroyed Brittany's future, however indirectly.
She'll never forgive me, she thought. I wouldn't forgive me, either.
Her door opened and Blaine came inside, looking spent. "I couldn't find him," he said. "I've tried everywhere, he's obviously locked up somewhere inside the palace itself. No one could tell me where to go."
"Blaine," Santana said. "I'm so sorry."
Blaine sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. "I really shouldn't be unloading all of this on you," he said. "I know you've been through a lot and this is a hard time for you but, well…you're the only one who understands. You know?"
"Yeah," Santana said wryly. "I know."
Blaine looked up at her. "You look as bad as I feel," he said. "I should go. I'll talk to you some other time."
"No," Santana said quickly. She could sense the pain that Blaine was feeling and frankly, she wanted company. "No, stay. Tell me about him."
Blaine ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. "There isn't that much to tell, I guess. We weren't that close growing up. He's eight years older than me. He was always kind of a bully. My parents loved him though." He smiled ruefully. "He was going to make them proud someday."
"Is that why you became a pirate?" Santana asked. "As, like, a rebellion against your family?"
"Yes and no," Blaine said. "I did become a pirate, but that wasn't until later. After Cooper had already…been disowned, I guess."
Santana looked at him interestedly. "What did he do?"
"He got a girl pregnant," Blaine said simply. "Which was, like, a huge no-no. See, my dad was a commodore and he wanted us to follow in his footsteps. But nobody in the town wanted Cooper in the public eye after that scandal."
"Well if it was such a big deal, why didn't he just marry the girl?" Santana asked.
"Because she was our maid," Blaine said. "Yeah…it was kind of an awkward situation. So my parents sent him away, to go to boarding school. And he never came back."
"How old were you when this happened?" Santana asked.
"I was eight," Blaine said. "And he was sixteen. That was the last time I ever saw him. I can't believe he's here now, working for the governor and cutting deals with corrupt Navy men…" He shook his head. "I know this sounds crazy. But he's my brother, I can't deal with the thought of him being, like…executed…"
He took a deep, shuddering breath, and Santana reached for his hand. "Blaine, I wish there was something we could do," she said. "But…"
"But the crew comes first," Blaine said. "I know. It's part of the code."
There was a soft knock on the door and Santana looked at Blaine curiously. Nobody in the crew knocked before coming inside. She hesitantly said, "Come in," and it opened slowly. A nervous Rory stepped inside and Blaine jumped up immediately.
"What are you doing?" he asked warily.
"I'm not here to hurt anyone," Rory said quickly, looking between Santana and Blaine with wide eyes. "Mr. Puck said I could come aboard and speak with you. There's someone who needs to see you before you leave tonight."
Santana furrowed her brow. "Jesse told us to leave without any delays…"
"He changed his mind," Rory replied. "He said it wouldn't take long, but that you need to come now. And I can't give you any more information."
"Now wait just a minute," Blaine said. "She's not going anywhere with you, how do we know we can trust you?"
"Are you…Blaine Anderson?" Rory asked uncertainly.
"Then you have to come, too," he said. "My orders were to bring Captain Lopez, Blaine Anderson, and Tina Cohen-Chang."
Santana and Blaine exchanged curious looks. Something felt off about this. "Jesse already told us everything we need to know," she said. "Why would he want to see us again?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know," Rory said. He looked around anxiously. "I…I was told to bring you as quickly as possible."
Santana thought quickly and then made her decision. "Alright," she said. "We'll go. But we're going to be armed, if you don't mind. And if there's any signs that you're leading us into a trap, I won't hesitate to use my pistol on you."
Rory gulped. "Yes, ma'am."
"Okay then," Santana said. "Let's go find Tina."