Cutler Beckett takes the safety off his pistol and says quietly, “You should count yourself exceedingly fortunate I have not already alerted the crew to your arrival.”
“Oh I do,” replies the man leaning against the frame of the cabin door (Beckett is currently undecided as to whether the cause of this is inebriation or some perverse attempt at style), no doubt leaving smears of something decidedly unsavoury on the white wood. “Certainly. Most fortunate. And it would o’course be presumptuous of me to assume the reason for your abstainin’ from waking up your undoubtedly marvellous crew and having me arrested is because I’ve got these two pistols pointed at your chest and you of all people know I won’t hesitate to fire ‘em.”
“I find presumptuousness to be a most unwise trait,” says Beckett, after a moment, “particularly in a man of your… well, I am loathe to call piracy a profession.” Smooth disdain- particularly when faced with threats to his life- is an attitude he has down to an art; Jack Sparrow would likely not be lounging there with two guns cocked lazily in Beckett’s direction if this wasn’t the case.
“Well now,” Sparrow steps forward, not entirely unsteadily, disregarding Beckett’s weapon completely, and Beckett realises with a barely-contained roll of his eyes that this is going to be one of those encounters that neither of them win. “I do some job or other for your charmingly virtuous organisation, and you pay me for my services. I believe that makes this a professional arrangement, does it not?”
“You are, however, not currently in the employ of the East India Company, Mr Sparrow.” He doesn’t wait for a reply- he’s sure Sparrow will have one at hand- or for the predictable insistence upon the use of Sparrow’s proper title. “So what in God’s name are you doing aboard my ship?”
Sparrow is less than a metre away from the desk that serves as a barrier between them, now; he spins the gun in his left hand, thrusts it into his belt, and though his right wrist is considerably less rigid than Beckett’s, his aim is certainly accurate. Beckett wonders idly how fast he could snatch or shoot the gun out of Sparrow’s hand, and decides against it, for the moment.
“I was getting to that,” says Sparrow easily. “Now, you and your aforementioned crew docked in this bonny harbour entirely of your own accord and for reasons of Important Company Business, did you not? And I myself happen to be here for pressing business of my own, which I was conductin’ in that tavern over there,” he waves a vague hand in the direction of the harbour, where the noises of nocturnal revelry are suppressed by thick stone walls and twenty feet of water, “and when I had concluded my transactions and was headin’ merrily along the gangway to my own vessel, what do I see but the Leviathan in all her glory, moored before my very eyes!”
“So you decided to trespass?”
“I decided to pay a visit to my old and dear acquaintance, as it were.”
He almost snorts at the audacity of that. Sparrow is second only to Beckett himself when it comes to lies. “Are you looking for a job?”
“Are you offering one?”
“Not to you.” He sighs- it would be rueful if it weren’t so measured- and lowers his arm, placing the pistol on the desk and cushioning it with his finger, as though it were a teacup. Sparrow watches, his eyes dark and confident and wary, and doesn’t drop his own weapon (only to be expected, thinks Beckett, of a pirate).
He pours himself a glass of clear rum from the crystal decanter on the edge of the desk, takes a delicate sip, and says, “Let us be under no illusions, Mr Sparrow. I am entirely aware, as you are, of the manner in which this meeting will end. And since you appear to have nothing of consequence to say, I shall be kinder than you deserve, and give you the opportunity of choosing the means by which I stop your mouth.”
There’s a pause. The water laps softly at the sides of the ship; a shout of muffled, drunken laughter reaches them from the edge of the harbour.
“That’s a very pretty gun,” says Jack.