Terms for a Cease-fire
Captain Jack Sparrow stood proud, head high with the wind catching the beaded braids and dreadlocks that hung around his face. He didn't speak or make a move to escape the shackles that held his wrists fast. One might have thought that he was broken, resigned to his fate, except for the flash in his eyes and that defiant lift to his chin.
It was that exact look of challenge that Commodore James Norrington found so frustrating. "Mr. Sparrow..."
"Captain." Jack muttered, half under his breath.
Norrington gave him a harsh look, which caused the pirate to look down quickly, hiding a smile. He cleared his throat and returned his eyes up to continue casting the naval officer a willful look.
"Captain Sparrow." The Commodore's voice dripped with sarcasm. "It seems that once again your heroic incompetence has brought you to justice. My justice."
"And the gallows, I expect. We've been here b'fore, mate." Jack gave his devil's grin. "Think you can keep hold of me this time?"
Green eyes narrowed. "Oh, I shouldn't worry about that. I have every intention of keeping you. The gallows, however, are not in your future. You've made persistent, if not particularly wise, friends. If I intend to stay in your company, I'll have to insure that they know nothing about your capture."
"Why, Jamie luv, I didn't know you cared." The tone was teasing, full of Jack's usual dose of innuendo.
It made Norrington smile. "But I do, Jack. I care that you remain safely under lock and key. Where I can keep an eye on you."
Jack weaved a little as he dropped his head down in a conspiratorial manner, inviting James into his little secret. The man bowed stiffly to hear the hushed words. "I suppose that means I'm to be shackled to yer bed? Can't say as I mind much, Commodore darling."
From the sly but guarded look on the pirate's face, you could tell he was expecting a blow as he straightened up. He wasn't expecting to be grabbed behind the head by a strong pair of hands and pulled into a rather rough kiss.
Oh no, he wasn't expecting that at all. He did seem acquiescent to the experience, however. Norrington felt a wash of triumph as the chained man's sweet, soft lips melted against his own, opening to welcome the Commodore's questing tongue.
"Oh yes, Jack." James said after breaking the altogether mad kiss. "Bound to my bed does seem a perfect place for you."
"No complaints from me mate. Drag me away." His reply came a bit breathless as he presented his manacled wrists.
"On second thought, I think I'll just take you here and now." Commodore James Norrington, Officer of the British Naval Fleet and general stuffed shirt, then did something truly unbelievable. He dropped to his knees before the pirate and deftly undid the front of his breeches.
"No complaints here, either." Jack gasped as his slender, stiffening cock was suddenly enveloped in wet heat.
James couldn't hear him though; he was too caught up in the fact that the man tasted exactly like... heavily brandied chocolate?
The Commodore woke with a start, looking about the room frantically, trying to recognize where he was. Slowly, the furniture of his bedroom came into focus. The last thing his eyes found was a cup and saucer sitting innocently on his nightstand. Brown dregs of chocolate pooled in the bottom of the cup, the remains of a nightcap. Brandy and chocolate, the beverage had been the only thing allowing him to get even a little sleep the last few nights.
In the months since Jack Sparrow had taken his little fall off the Fort Charles' wall, Norrington's nights had become more and more restless.
It had started at the gallows. Dreams where Turner's sword did not stop the pirate's fall, where Sparrow's body dropped to jerk and twitch as he slowly suffocated. Dreams that grew more nightmarish and twisted as they went on, until one night James fell to his knees and screamed to the crowd of onlookers to forgive him for hanging a good man.
After that the dreams shifted, recasting him into Jack's rescuer rather then his executioner. Sometimes he and young Will freed the condemned together. Sometimes he, Will, and Elizabeth did. Sometimes one of them helped him, while the other took over his original role. And still other times hordes of skeletal scalawags scaled the Fort battlements and they all rallied together to fight them off.
At the end of one such dream, the four of them triumphant over their undead foes, Will had taken his beloved into his arms and kissed her deeply. Even in a dream he had looked away in pain, only to have Jack Sparrow lift his chin and gift him with a victory kiss.
And what a kiss it was; firm and soft at once, so outside of what James thought a kiss should be. And yet so heartbreakingly lovely he never wanted it to end. That it was a man kissing him, a man and a pirate, didn't seem to matter. It made it all the sweeter, in fact.
As the pirate broke the kiss, his liquid brown eyes were ablaze and he flashed the most brilliant bedlam smile. "I've been want'n to do that fer bleed'n ever."
That started a whole new set of dreams. Not nightmares, but no less disturbing.
Captain Jack Sparrow had transformed from enemy and damnable nuisance to object of desire... though still a damnable nuisance. In fact, he was even more annoying in that capacity. Night after night the pirate teased and titillated James, leaving his mornings full of shame and confusion.
Worse still, it was starting to effect his waking hours. The question of finding the Black Pearl and its Captain had before been an easy one to answer. He might have pursued Jack the very day after his escape had the need to deal with the formerly undead crew of the ship, and the pertinent report to Fleet Headquarters not commanded his time. That report grew still longer as James wrote to anyone who might be a help in replacing the Interceptor. With his own meager fleet down by one ship, he could not even contemplate the possibility of a manhunt for Sparrow.
At first his anger over it had been an unending source of conversation. Not that anyone really wanted to hear him rant about capturing Jack, but that didn't stop him. After the unnerving change in his dreams, though, the subject of the Pearl, its Captain, or anything vaguely related, became cause for embarrassment. He dropped the topic altogether.
His men assumed the slowness with which the request for a replacement ship was being processed was the cause for his agitation. Elizabeth worried needlessly that the pain of her rejection motivated him. And his one time rival for her, Will Turner, thought the Commodore needed a rest. Turner was closest to the truth, for rest was eluding him as much as the pirate who was responsible for it all.
James flopped back onto the bed in defeat. There was nothing for it. Weak light was spreading through the room as the sun rose. He wasn't going to get any more sleep, so he might as well get out of bed and start his day. He washed quickly and dressed just the same. The only thing he took his time with was shining his boots to a high gloss before wiping the bootblack from his hands and donning his wig. That, his man had attended to the preceding night. His boots he always did himself. With his person in order, Norrington left the room and went down the stairs to find his housekeeper setting the table for breakfast.
"Good morning, Sir. You are up early today. Breakfast will be just a bit yet, but tea's up." Mrs. Havadem said brightly.
"Tea will be fine. Mrs. Havadem? Has Kendricks been up yet?" He sorted through a pile of letters he'd been neglecting of late. For the most part he'd only been paying attention to correspondence to his office at Fort Charles. A few envelopes down in the pile he stopped. The letter that stopped him up was of creamy vellum printed with neat black letters.
The wedding. James had done quite a good job of forgetting all about it. He stared at his name on the front of what could only be an invitation to the nuptials of his former intended and a blacksmith. Mrs. Havadem was speaking but he didn't hear the words. Something about his manservant and an errand to the docks to secure something or other for the house. She left the room to ready his meal afterward, having no idea of her master's thoughts.
He wasn't thinking anything, really, just staring at the letter. He kept staring at it, in fact. All throughout his breakfast the thing sat propped against the sugar bowl, taunting him with the failure of his first attempt at marital bliss. But surely it wasn't his fault. Elizabeth had already fallen in love with Turner, and would have remained so even if she had become Mrs. Norrington. It was ridiculous to dwell on it.
Besides, if the dreams about Sparrow had started after he was wed, the shame of it would have been unbearable. It was better this way. Elizabeth would be happy as the wife of a blacksmith, and he would seek a more suitable partnership with some other fine lady of Port Royal. There must be one who could banish those kohl-smudged devil's eyes from his dreams.
The invitation stayed unopened in his satchel, however, as he left the neat row house he called home. The last in a line of five originally intended for well-to-do merchants. The builder had been surprised to find out how close renovations to the newly renamed Fort Charles were coming to his project, and cleverly offered them to the then commander as the perfect housing for officers. James was happy the deal had been struck, since being just outside of Fort Charles' fortified walls meant there was less chance for fraternization between officers and enlisted men.
He passed some of those selfsame enlisted seamen on guard duty, nodding as he did.
"Commodore," the one on his left said, saluting.
The one on the right smiled. "Good morning, Sir."
James looked at him, a little more coldly then he'd really intended, and muttered an answering 'good morning'. He hurried by, not wanting to hear what they might say about their ill-tempered Commodore. He really had to work on his humors. Next the men would be terrified to speak to him.
The rest of his morning was pure monotony. Barracks and ships to be inspected, requests for Naval escort to be reviewed, logs to be filed and quartermaster's registers to be reckoned. Sheer military boredom. It wasn't until noon, during his simple lunch at the Officer's Mess, that he found time to crack the maroon seal on the invitation. He slid the folded vellum sheet, with a rice paper blotter set within the fold, no less, from out of the inner envelope and unfolded it.
As he rubbed the exotic blotter paper between his fingers he read...
Governor Weatherby Swann requests the honor of Commodore
James Norrington's attendance at the wedding of his only child
Miss Elizabeth Swann
Mister William Turner II
He invites you to share their happiness at the Governor's
home in Port Royal on the Twenty-fifth of August,
dinner and festivities to follow.
The perfectly embossed black letters sat on the page as a testament to little more than the Governor's ability to hire the luxury of a press.
It was the eloquently simple script in the lower left corner that drew his true interest.
Please come. Neither Will nor I feel our marriage will be properly blessed unless you are with us. And besides, there will be a horde of lovely maidens clamoring for a dance with a Commodore.
Elizabeth still wanted him, as a friend at least. He wasn't invited just because he was the Commander of Fort Charles and she was the Governor of Jamaica's daughter. It wasn't duty or pity or social expectation. She really did want him at her wedding.
It was enough to break the funk that another scandalous night with an illusory Jack Sparrow had caused. It was enough to make him honestly smile.
And smile he did, all the way back to his office, tipping his hat to officers and enlisted alike as he went, lighter of heart than he had been in weeks. Nothing could touch the merry mood James found himself in. Least of all, the Governor waiting to speak to him outside his office.
"Hello, Weatherby. What brings you here?" James smiled at the man and invited him into his office. He suddenly felt very bothered that he'd allowed the breaking of the engagement to get in the way of what had always been a pleasant acquaintance. He had to make it up to the man.
Governor Swann blinked at him a moment, as though stunned by the Commodore's chipper disposition. He recovered quickly and just smiled. "Business of a somewhat personal nature." He nodded toward the invitation sitting atop the stack of charts he'd just set on his desk.
James looked down at it as he sat. "Ah. The wedding."
"Yes. We do hope you see you there. Truly." Swann sat down in the other chair, his hands folded on his knee. He looked a bit silly in his long wig of office.
That sort of thought would never have occurred to Norrington before now. How strange. Perhaps the lack of sleep was finally getting to him. "I will be happy to attend. Give Elizabeth my regards on the matter."
"Splendid. She'll be so pleased." The Governor's smile faded after a moment and he shifted in his chair uncomfortably. "I have mainly come over a matter concerning my future son-in-law, rather than my daughter."
Norrington grinned anew. "Don't tell me Will's gotten himself in some kind of trouble? He hasn't started saving money to buy a ship and sail off with Elizabeth on some fool adventure, has he?"
"Oh no, I have seen to that. I have persuaded Mr. Brown to retire and leave the smithy to William. It wasn't hard, really, the man is an unrepentant old sot and now that everyone is aware that William has been carrying the business for over a year, they take their trade directly to him." Swann allowed himself a smug look; it was in his best interest to insure that his son-in-law was more than just a blacksmith's apprentice, after all. "With Will's help I have found him an assistant and an apprentice of his own. William Turner will soon be the premiere smith in Port Royal."
"I will have to pay him a visit at the forge. Too bad the Fort has its own smith, or I'd bring him some work. My sword will, of course, always return to him for care." As did his almost bride, but who was keeping track. James nearly snorted at his internal jest.
"Indeed. So with his business future secured, one would think that Mr. Turner would forget all about this pirate nonsense, but he can't seem to discount his heritage." Swann sighed, perhaps more dramatically than was necessary. He did enjoy playing the much-abused father a bit too well. "I'll just come right to it, then."
Stifling the desire to blurt out 'it's about time', James steepled his fingers and leaned back in his chair. Whatever Will Turner was up to had better be big after all the setup.
"You see, Commodore, my future son-in-law has taken it in his head to have that Jack Sparrow character as his witness at the wedding. His best man, would you believe, a pirate? And what's more, my overly romantic daughter is backing him. Will's argument is that Jack is the only person he knows who knew his father, at all, the closest he has to family, therefore. They won't budge, Commodore. They just won't."
James had heard him, heard every word, but he had not understood them, really. Not since the name Jack Sparrow was spoken and the spear of disgraceful excitement had coursed through his body. He hadn't thought of the man since Elizabeth's note had brought on contentment. Hadn't been besieged by unwanted flashes of memory or tedium-induced fantasies, like he'd been fighting all morning before the genuine affection in the invitation had chased them away.
Now it all flooded back; the dream during the night, the fantasy about inspecting Jack and having to punish him for his disorderly appearance. The sudden memory of how the man had smelled after he'd dried off from diving into Kingston Harbor to save Elizabeth; that mix of sweat and salt, rum and cloves. A scent so intriguing that it stayed with him after the pirate had been carefully locked in a Fort Charles jail cell. He'd had to find the man's coat in the effects closet to root out the source of the odor that was haunting him that day. It was still haunting him.
"I take from your silence that you are displeased and of course you are. The man's a scoundrel. But, as I said, they will not budge. I do feel for young Will, having no family as he does. If this Sparrow fellow is the only person who can stand for him, then that's all there is."
He was stunned, altogether flummoxed. Captain Jack Sparrow, infamous pirate and maddeningly charming rogue, was going to serve as family for Turner at his wedding. It occurred to James as ironic that if it had been he marrying Elizabeth, he would not have had any kin to observe the event, either. He doubted, however, that Weatherby Swann would have felt the same pity for him that he did for Turner.
None of that really mattered, though. What did matter was that Sparrow would be close at hand, here in Port Royal. It was all too much. His longing to capture the man warred with his fear of what he might do with him once Jack was in his custody. Could he even trust himself anymore? If the mere mention of his name elicited such a strong response in him, what would seeing Sparrow at a wedding celebration do?
James got his feelings under careful control before answering the waiting Governor. The man looked worried, though he highly doubted it was over whether he, Commodore James Norrington, would ravish the best man during the ceremony. On the contrary, Swann most likely assumed that he'd try to hang him instead. "Forgive me, Governor, but I fail to see what my part in any of this is. If the future Mr. and Mrs. Turner wish to have a pirate and a cad as their flower girl, for heaven's sake, then far be it from me to question their judgment. That, I've already called into question."
Swann smiled. "Yes, well. I think the worry is whether or not, once he has fulfilled his office, Mr. Sparrow's date for the post-wedding feast will be a hangman's noose."
Norrington smirked. Here it was, the heart of the matter. And the fact that he had no more intention of seeing Jack hang than he had of putting a rope round his own neck, wasn't something he could reveal. Not and hope to continue his career in His Majesty's Navy. Still, he ought to alleviate the fears of those around him. "So I take it you are here to seek clemency for him? For Jack Sparrow, Pirate Captain of the Black Pearl? You want me not to clap him in irons before, during, or after your daughter's wedding? You are perfectly all right with his roaming free in Port Royal? Is that right?"
"At least for the duration of his stay for the wedding, yes. I have already written up the necessary paperwork. All it needs now is your approval and signature..." The Governor looked at him expectantly.
It was too easy; he didn't even have to go looking for the man. It was all out of his hands, done for him. All he had to do was sign and Jack would be here. And indebted to him.
Exactly what it all meant and what he'd do with these facts once Jack was there, in Port Royal, was another issue. For now it didn't matter. "You're all mad, you know, but I might as well join you in the insanity. Elizabeth will never forgive me if I deny her future husband his choice of best man. Give me the damned paper."
Swann beamed. He pulled out the forms and both men signed, after Norrington had called in Lieutenant Gillette to bear witness. The lieutenant didn't think granting Jack Sparrow clemency for even an hour, a good idea. He told his superior as much, once the Governor was gone.
"Opinion noted, Lt. Gillette. But be that as it may, it's done. I'll take full responsibility for any of Sparrow's actions. If he so much as puts his little toe out of line, I'll have him in a cell before he can put it back." James meant it, too. For all that he didn't know exactly what he'd do with Jack once the man was behind bars, he would still have order in his port.
* * *
Joshamee Gibbs watched his captain roll an apple round in his left hand absently. He occasionally tossed the fruit up into the air and caught it without ever taking his eyes off the chart he carefully scribbled on. "Something you want, Gibbs?"
"Post's in sir." The sailor lifted his hand to show the pigeon cooing on it.
"Oh goody!" Jack dropped the quill he'd been holding and stood, taking a bite from his apple as he did. He swayed to counter the roll of the ship, exaggerating his movements just a bit, as he was want to do. Gibbs always thought it a little overdone.
"Aye, Captain." He handed the bird off, ending up with a bitten-into apple for his trouble. "It be a heavy scroll this time. Looks like the Turners got their way after all."
"Of course they did. The future Mrs. Turner is a formidable lass. Almost as bold as our Anamaria." He cast a smile at the woman as she passed the flung-open stateroom doors.
She smirked at him and continued towards the wheel. Bad luck or not, she was a good helms... woman, Gibbs had to yield that much. "So, we'll be setting course for Port Royal, then Jack?"
"Not just yet. Have to read the letter first, don't I? It might be a warning about Norrington planning to use me as a piñata at the ceremony." Jack undid the ties that kept the heavy tube attached to the messenger bird.
"A what sir?" Gibbs looked at the apple in his hand before taking a bite off the opposite side from Jack's.
"Clay jar covered with pretty paper and filled with candies, and fruit, and such. You hang from it the ceiling and hit it with sticks till it breaks open. Ah ha!" Sparrow got the tube loose finally and carried the pigeon to a cage, where a few others cooed quietly.
The sailor stared at him, puzzled. "Why?"
"Why what? Oh, the piñata. So the swag falls out, and you say huzzah and collect yer booty." He waved his hand dismissively. "Spanish custom, anyway..."
Jack unrolled the paper and scanned each line. That he could read was a bit of a rarity among pirates but it always helpful when it came to messages and warnings and tavern signs. Will's neat boxy letters near made his brain hurt. He would have rather read Elizabeth's poetic script, always so eloquent.
"Any news?" Gibbs could read too, he just didn't like to. Other sailors tended not to trust the literate.
"She sent me the words!" Jack giggled and started humming, and then singing. "Don't give a hoot! Hoot that's the word. I can't believe I couldn't remember it. Rhymes with loot."
"Oh lord." Gibbs muttered under his breath. They would never get away from that bleed'n song.
The pirate Captain read for a while more and then stood up. "Gibbs, we set sail for Havana."
"Whyever for, sir?" The old salt asked, tossing the remainder of the apple core out into the sea.
"To pick up a string quartet, of course." Jack pulled a chart from a rack of them and returned to his desk. "The lass has a proper group of musicians coming, all the way from Jamestown, that's in Virginia by the by. Would have cost a pretty penny, too, but her father knows the former governor of the colony who knows a wealthy plantation owner there who's got a quartet in his employ."
Captain Sparrow kept talking while charting their course. Gibbs blinked at him. He was used to his captain's tendency to ramble. He'd come to find it endearing, in fact. One of Jack's familiar quirks.
"So as a lovely wedding gift, the two of them sent the little group down from Virginia. Seems they got themselves stranded just outside of Havana and had to walk into the port, the poor things. They got word to Miss Swann, though, through a sugar merchant who, sadly, didn't have room for them on his ship." Jack hopped up from his chair to present the finished chart to Gibbs.
"Aye sir, so we be completing the journey for them?" He took the rolled chart. For all intents and purposes Gibbs was first mate on the Pearl, but the Captain never called him that. It probably had to do with his last first mate, but Gibbs thought it best not to bring up the matter.
"Yes. First we need to stow our current load in Tortuga, then sail up round Cuba to get the musical foursome and back round to make for Port Royal. We should be there by August 23rd so I can be William Turner the Second's bloody best man." Jack near shouted the last words, his pride evident.
Gibbs smiled widely. "Congratulations again, Jack. Best man. Now that's a fine thing indeed, but if ya don't mind my ask'n, how are ya gonna keep from being strung up by old Commodore Norrington as soon as ya set foot in Port Royal?"
The pirate kept grinning as he waggled his finger at his friend. "Tut tut tut, no confidence. Didn't I say Elizabeth was a formidable lass? I've been granted clemency for the duration of the wedding celebration. That's at least five days, what with the setup and the after-doings. So I'm free and clear for at least that long. Me and any guests I like, as it happens, so you and Anamaria better make sure you have proper attire for the event. Not to worry, though, I'm sure we'll find something suitable in Tortuga or Havana or somewhere." Jack sized up the larger man. "Deep burgundy would do for you, I think."
"Oh no, too much like a lobster for me, Jack. I'll stick to brown if ya don't mind." Still, a fine waistcoat of silk was something to dream about. Gibbs smiled, allowing himself the momentary fantasy of rich clothes.
"Suit yourself but whatever you wear, I order you to have fun. It's a wedding and I love weddings!" Jack danced back to the desk to pick up the letter, whistling as he went.
Chuckling, Gibbs left Jack to himself. The sailor didn't see how his Captain's face dropped once no one was watching, didn't see him pick up the letter and reread the still unbelievable part about Norrington actually consenting to his attendance at the nuptials. He was really going to stand next to Bootstrap's boy and watch him marry a Governor's daughter.
And how would old Bill Turner have felt if he'd known what fortunes his son had come to. Proud, to be sure, but also a little confused. "My son? My little Will, a respectable blacksmith and wed to a lady of wealth and position? Funny ol' world, ain't it, Jack?"
Hadn't he said that the morning after...
Jack squished that bit of memory. Best not to pine for the dead. Probably dead, that was. It had occurred to him that his old friend was as subject to the curse as black-hearted Barbossa had been. So if they sunk poor Billy down below, chained to a cannon, had the curse kept him alive even there until Will's blood had ended it?
It wasn't a thought one wanted to have, late at night with only the sound of the waves lapping against the hull to keep you company, that was sure. With his ship back where it belonged and an island cave of gold and jewels to keep him in rum and revelry for years to come, it had occurred to Jack how damned lonely he really was.
Oh yes. The need to get the Pearl back had eclipsed any need for long term companionship for over a decade but now that he had his beloved ship, now that he could feel her sweet rocking under his feet, he longed for another sort of rocking under him.
Will Turner had been like a ghost up from the depths to taunt him. So like his father and yet so very different, that it ached really. Bill had been reckless where Will was timid, lusty where Will was chaste. Jack hoped for Elizabeth's sake that dear William's passions were on the increase. It was going to be a very dull wedding night otherwise.
Oh well. It didn't do him any good to wonder about the sexual particulars of a very ex-lover's son. Anymore than beating himself up over cheating on Bootstrap after the man had pretty much forsaken his wife and son just to be with him, and thereby leading said man to the rash decision of siding with Barbossa when the cur mutinied, had.
Jack blinked a bit and rubbed his temples. That one had hurt. His thoughts were altogether too morbid and jumbled of late. He was thinking too much and that never helped anyone. Jack Sparrow was made to feel, not to think.
He crossed the room to the door of his cabin to shut himself up. After pouring a generous mug of rum, Jack raised the pewter tankard to the window with reverence.
"To William Turner the First. May his soul rest in the sweet calm of the sea. I miss you, mate." Jack drank the toast and sat on his bed with a sigh. It was high time he stop mourning the dead and get on with living. He had his Pearl back, he had loot and rum and a good, honest crew with no mutinous tendencies. What he needed now was an ill-advised romance to clear his head.
"But with who, is the question?" No one in his crew suited him. Anamaria might have, except for the fact that she threatened to cut off part of him whenever he got a little fresh. Other than her, only Gibbs was attractive enough to really contemplate and that definitely wasn't happening.
A wedding, though. That gave him hope. Lots of lads and lasses at a wedding. Lots of eager potential partners who had heard of Captain Jack Sparrow, no doubt. There had to be someone there worthy of passionate pursuit. He could think of at least one, off hand, but that match was a likely as Gibbs.
Although. Jack thought back to the letter, and wondered at the Commodore's fickle nature. "First he wants me hanged and now he gives me leave to wander free in his little Port. How unlike my dear Norrington."
It was a puzzle, one that Jack suddenly wanted to solve or unravel or undress, maybe. "Right then, first thing I do in Port Royal is find Commodore James Norrington and thank him for his boundless hospitality."
The pirate grinned at his reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall. No matter what the outcome, life was turning interesting again.
* * *
The Catt and Fiddle was a respectable little inn, one of the pleasant public houses that had sprung up in Port Royal since lawlessness had been traded for order and civility. It was not really a favorite of naval officers though, which was exactly as James liked it. Who wanted to spend all of their free time with the same men they saw day in and day out?
James Norrington found it rather to his liking. The smells of simple, hardy food, polished wood and pipe smoke mixed nicely with the aroma of the cognac he was enjoying. Cheery firelight flickered round the room, lighting the faces of well-to-do merchants and gentlemen farmers, none of whom spoke too loudly, dressed too flamboyantly, or smeared kohl under their eyes.
"Damn." James muttered into his snifter. He knew Jack had to be in town. The wedding was tomorrow, for god's sake. Thus far, though, he'd avoided him, kept away from those dark eyes and the self-satisfied smirk he knew the pirate would give him the moment they met. That is, he'd avoided him during his waking hours at least.
In his dreams Jack was as present as ever. The Commodore had abandoned himself to the disgrace of his illusory life, become a wanton to the Jack that dwelled in it. Since signing that cursed document, he'd been resigned to his fate. Resigned to his obsession over the Captain of the Black Pearl. The dreams became ever more vivid, crowding into his waking hours all too quickly. He'd begun to experience nighttime emissions, a thing that had not occurred since his seventeenth year. James was besotted with Jack. He longed for him, lust building upon desire until he was reduced to fantasy and self-abuse most mornings.
At first the shame had been unspeakable, not that he could talk to anyone about it even if he wanted to, but after a time it had mellowed to a dull twinge. Like an old war wound that hurt when it got cold. Before he'd hoped for a confrontation with Sparrow, one that would decide once and for all what the man meant to him exactly. Now, all he wanted to do was hear him speak, buy him a drink, and make the strange, bewitching man laugh.
James was lonely and tired and fed up with being Commodore James Norrington, so he stopped. Stopped caring what people thought of him, stopped playing the annoying social games and started talking to people. Started smiling and tipping his hat and being happy. Just started being alive.
At first his officers thought he had lost his mind. Lt. Gillette asked if he'd been feeling ill, perhaps? He'd just laughed at him. Laughed at a fellow officer and cuffed him on the back good-naturedly. Then he asked him to join him in The King's Arm for a drink. Gillette had blinked, like a man stunned, but accepted.
After that, drinks at the favored pub of Fort Charles' Officers with his lieutenants was a common thing. He learned things about them he'd never known. Groves was engaged to a banker's daughter, Gillette had a sister in Boston and a brother in Georgia, all sorts of personal information he'd never bothered to learn before. They really were fine men.
And as far as Elizabeth and Will were concerned, he was like a different person. He'd visited the forge almost daily to discuss swordplay, nautical history, and the news of the day with Turner. They sparred three times a week, James always impressed with the blacksmith's natural grace. In retrospect it was a wonder that Norrington hadn't become enamored with Will rather than Jack.
They became such fast friends, in fact, that Will actually apologized for choosing Jack as his best man rather then him. That had made Norrington really laugh. "Good Lord William, that would have been disastrous."
Elizabeth watched it all with glee. It occurred to neither of them as strange that James was suddenly so friendly and positive. They were happy, so he should be, too.
Norrington's complete happiness was still just out of reach, however. He either had to get over his infatuation with Sparrow, or act on it. The former seemed impossible, and the latter? Terrifying.
The thought had occurred to James that, for all his swaying and flouncing and flirtatious looks, Jack might not enjoy the company of men. It could just as easily be an act, another way to keep people off guard. The possibility that, if he made an overture, the pirate would gut him sooner than look at him, existed. Bloody hell, though, at least he would be out of his misery.
Jack's anger, Jack's rejection, might be what he needed to snap himself out of his muddle. Or it might kill him, but either way, it would be over.
James glanced round the room nonchalantly; it was a strange feeling to be sitting in an elegant little pub, thinking thoughts that would get him court-marshaled and hung if anyone could hear them. For when it came right down to it, he was a bugger. A sodomite. Or at least he wanted to be. Wanted to experience the altogether unspeakable acts that were connected to those words. Unspeakable, yes. But, undoable?
With Jack he'd do near anything, be anything. Sodomite, catamite, bugger, lover, whatever. Where Jack Sparrow was concerned, he was vulnerable, compromised and completely hoodwinked. And really, it felt pretty good. The warm glow that rose after his recent morning activities was not something to be dismissed. And hadn't he become a better person, a better friend, once he'd accepted the fact of his perversion?
What's more, the acceptance had cast a new light on his past, making him look again at memories and thoughts long kept at bay. This thing with Sparrow changed how he remembered his youth, his studies at University Collage, his years at sea rising from a commissioned Lieutenant to a Commodore on little more then his own skill and the vague nobility of his father's family. He now saw it all with different eyes; his near obsessive fondness for Thomas the stable boy, the hero worship he'd directed at his professors and many older students, his nervous avoidance of closeness with other officers on ship, his inability to form a lasting attachment to any of the women he'd courted. Even his first sexual encounter with a woman had taken a half bottle of brandy to engage in, and the few others since had lacked even half the passion of his fantasy life with Jack.
Now that James was conscious of this aspect of his psyche, this deep craving for vulgar sensuality, he found much of his former morality hypocritical. It was rather strange realizing you had been living a lie and never been aware. Not until a mad, beautiful pirate appeared to challenge your very concept of yourself. You could no more ignore it than ignore the beating of your own heart.
The Commodore chuckled to himself and took a deep swallow of his drink. He was still trying to justify his wants, trying to work up the courage to find Sparrow and just speak to the man. As though speaking would be enough, as though a few words could quiet this. No. If presented with his desire, he knew he would not let it slip by without an attempt to claim it.
And yet he was still sitting in this out of the way, comfortable inn rather than going to one of the less respectable places that Jack was likely to be carousing in the night before his friend's wedding. Or, God forbid, going directly to the Governor's house where Jack and crewmembers were staying to see him. He wanted to, wanted Jack beyond measure or reason, but he could not muster the courage.
He had a terrible feeling that he was missing his chance.
Fate, however, proved a determined creature.
* * *
Jack Sparrow looked up at the sign above the nondescript little door he was standing before. It was one of those darling English pub signs that pictorially gave the name of the establishment to those who could not read. Jack could, but the jaunty cat and his instrument cheered him anyway. The Catt and Fiddle, the tavern Will had told him Norrington liked to have a quiet drink in, most nights.
Not his usual sort of place, but then James wasn't likely to frequent the sort of pub that pirates and cutthroats did. Since part of Jack's clemency agreement demanded that he go unarmed in Port Royal, he hardly wanted to visit one of those places either. With only a knife in his boot to defend him, a harbor tavern was not a safe place to be.
With a shrug Jack entered, looking about for a commodore on his off time. And what did he look like when he wasn't being mister high and mighty naval officer. Ah, much the same as he did when he was, apparently.
Blue coat, silly wig, all ruffles and buckles and pomp. Norrington still managed to cut a fine figure, even dressed like one of his Majesty's popinjays. The commodore's hat was sitting next to him on the bar and Jack, who had left his own tri-corn back in Governor Swann's well-appointed guest room, followed a sudden whim to walk up to the hat and set it atop his own head.
"Your hat looks lonely, Norrington. Care if I join it?"
The man's green eyes blinked in surprise as he turned to behold the pirate wearing his hat. Jack looked stunning; loose-fitting cream linen shirt, vest of soft black leather, buttoned tight, black pants that hugged his hips and thighs just so, and high boots that made his calves look very fit indeed. A silk sash in deep red graced his middle, matching the one that was tied carefully round his forehead. James suddenly realized just how carefully planned out every part of Jack's seemingly haphazard attire was. It was almost a uniform. From the leather of his boots and the cut of his trousers, to the rings on his fingers and the charms in his hair. Jack sparkled, a glittering devil with a smile to match. The man flashed his golden grin and pulled a stool away from the bar.
"That's up to the hat." He gave Jack a dour smile.
"Ah. Well, then." Jack hopped onto the stool and gave his companion a look. "You're a hard man to find, you know."
"Not really. I've been in the office every day this week. But I didn't see you come to visit me there." James took a fortifying drink, trying not to stare at Jack. Trying not to image what that ridiculous braided beard would feel like against his chin.
"Forgive me for wanting to avoid the location of my near-hanging. I'm here now, though." He leaned back on the stool, giving Norrington an intense look.
"Yes. But why, is the question?" If he maintained his dry delivery, if he kept a tight reign of his tongue, perhaps James would not make a total fool of himself in this.
"Because, it seems I have you to thank for being here." Jack grinned again, as though a smile was all one needed to dispel an awkward moment.
James snorted. "Thank Governor Swann. I just signed the paper."
Jack rolled his kohl-smudged eyes and leaned in closer to him. "Come now, Norrie, luv. Here I am, walking round Port Royal, without fear of a cell or a rope, and you had nothing to do with it? How am I to believe that bit of rubbish?"
"Believe what you like, Captain Sparrow." James smirked. "You will anyway."
"You are also a hard man to figure, Commodore. All right, I'll believe that you have a heart after all, and couldn't deny dear Elizabeth and young William the joy of their wedding day. Even if that joy included me."
Norrington looked at his drink, it was safer that way. "No, I suppose I could not."
"It's really very noble of you, and William told me you've become mates, too. It takes a fine man indeed to bury the hatchet like that. So, between your mercy to me and your kindness to Will, let me buy you a drink." Jack chose that moment to reach out and squeeze James' shoulder.
It was like a dam breaking, leaving him free and unencumbered. Everything he'd longed for and dreamed about he had found, sitting under his hat. "Actually, I'd like to buy you a drink."
James' eyes had a strangest pleading quality. It's startled Jack, but he wasn't about to show it. "Even better. Since you already have a drink, you can buy one for me first, than I'll get the next. Savvy?"
"More than you know, Jack." He smirked yet again and called the innkeeper over to pour something for the pirate. He'd expected the man to order rum, but got a surprise when Jack requested an Irish whiskey. With glass in hand, James paid and rose. He was not going to sit at the bar with Jack, not with the proprietor sending his companion wary glances every few minutes. They settled into a pair of armchairs by the fire, James' eyes keeping fixed on the flames until a few quiet moments had passed. "I never really wanted to see you hang, you know."
Jack snorted and took a sip of his whiskey. "Could have fooled me, what with that little dance at the end of a rope I took."
"Nearly took, Sparrow. As I recall, you didn't quite hang. You only dangled a bit." James twiddled his fingers in a passable impersonation of Jack.
The pirate laughed, which started the commodore laughing. Both were aware of how peculiar the situation was but it only served to fuel the amusement. They shared the mirth a bit longer before Jack downed his whiskey and reached out to, again, squeeze Norrington's shoulder. "Finish yer drink. I'll fetch another."
"Is that an order, Captain?" James looked from the hand on his shoulder to Jack's face.
"Yes, it is." Jack stood and headed to the bar. Either the Commodore was mad, or he was flirting with him. Subtly, to be sure, but still treating him with the kind of caution that only a man struggling with an infatuation does. The question became, how to fuel the fire without smothering it? His dear James was not an easy man to woo, considering who they both were. Jack glanced back to where the man sat.
Handsome? Yes. Honorable? Yes. Desirable? Oh yes. Sparrow found himself wondering exactly what the man looked like without all that naval finery. If he played this right, he warranted he'd know by the end of the night.
Procuring another cognac for James, and another whiskey for himself, Jack returned to his chair. "Here you are. This is a nice little place you've found for yourself, Norrie luv."
"Yes, it is." James looked around the room and took a sip of his spirit. "Must you call me that, Jack?"
"Hmm? Would you prefer Jamie? Or Jim?" Jack stayed standing, leaning against Norrington's chair.
Hearing the pet name Jack had uttered before in his dreams made him shudder just a bit. Funny though, in the dream it had been endearing, here it didn't sound right. "Neither. Just James, thank you."
"Right, just James. We are on a first name basis, then?"
"Yes." James watched him return to his chair and take a swallow of his drink.
"Ah, good. I'd hate to be overly formal with any man what wants me dead." Jack grinned, maybe challenging James' sense of duty wasn't the best way to proceed, but it was better then everything else he'd thought up.
"Damn it, Jack." Norrington's voice was on the shrill side, which made a few of the other patrons look their way. "I do not want you dead."
"Then how do you want me, exactly? You've been sending a jumble of different signals since I walked in. Either you hate me and desire to see me hanged." Jack leaned in close, his voice hushed. "Or do you just flat desire me?"
James gaped at him, any words he might have said caught in his throat. Jack Sparrow just eased back into his chair, his dark eyes linking with the startled green ones. "So which is it?"
The commodore swallowed the lump in his gullet. He knocked back his drink and set the snifter down with a smack. "I think it wise to leave this establishment before continuing this line of discussion."
"Suit yourself." Jack emptied his glass with practiced ease. "Your place or mine?"
"Just... just come along." James stammered. He reached out to pull his hat from off Jack's head, ramming it back onto his own harshly.
Both men left the pub together, James a step in front, leading the way. Neither spoke though, James was afraid he'd lose his nerve, and Jack wasn't entirely sure he would live to see morning.
They walked through the warm Jamaica night, not speaking. It was as though a silent accord had been reached. Jack occasionally tested the situation by weaving close to James and brushing his shoulder against the other man's. Norrington responded to the touches by lifting his head to look at Jack, and giving his characteristic, knowing smirk.
James was calm. At peace, really. He still didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but whatever it was, it would be good.
The pirate at his side looked up at the waxing moon; the sight of that silver orb always eased his troubled mind. His mother had said they had gypsy blood. Maybe it was true. Maybe prayers to the moon would be a help.
They stopped finally, before a row of respectable town houses and James turned in front of the stoop to give Jack an unsure look. "Would you like to come up?"
"I don't know. Hate to wake anyone this late in the night." Jack carefully avoided touching the other man. He had to be sure of things first.
"My servants are likely asleep. Downstairs."
"And you're inviting me upstairs, I take it. Sure about this, Norrington?" Jack crossed his arms over his chest and drummed be-ringed fingers against his arm.
"No. But I am sure that if I don't do something, I'll go mad." James' smile was earnest. He wasn't begging; just asking.
"Well, all right then. I accept your gracious invitation. I couldn't go through life knowing I drove a man to lunacy."
James snorted. "I doubt I'm the first." He headed up the stoop, with Jack trailing close behind, and let them both into his quiet house.
Silence stayed with them as they went up the stairs, James leading on further through a door into his study. Books and nautical paraphernalia filled the bookcases of the room. Framed maps and charts decorated the walls. Over the mantel hung a watercolor of a ship at sunset, a memento of James' first command.
"Would you like a drink? Brandy perhaps? I might even have rum." The host asked his guest as he removed his hat and coat, and hung them on a stand by the door.
"I'm not thirsty." Jack's eye glittered as he approached the other man. His head jerked toward the door in the west wall. "That yer bedroom?"
"Yes." James fought the last shreds of fear inside himself, as the beautiful man closed the distance between them.
"Good." Jack's hands knotted into the fabric of the commodore's waistcoat to pull him into a kiss. He liked how quickly the man's hands came round to press against his back. He liked even better, how the man's mouth opened to the flick of his tongue. This one had a fire in him, all right.
Jack wanted to linger over the kiss, it being the first and therefore very important. Besides, James was proving a very accomplished kisser indeed. His tongue moved with military precision, brushing against the pirate's eagerly.
"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" The pirate said as he finally broke the kiss.
"That, Jack Sparrow, was the hardest thing I've ever done. More frightening than an army of cursed buccaneers." James moved his hand to finger the odd little braids of Jack's beard. "I've been a wreck since you escaped the gallows, able to think of little else. You've invaded my dreams and fantasies. It's like I'm under a spell or something."
Jack grinned. "Well, my mother did always say we had gypsy in us, but I haven't turned sorcerer, so it must be my boundless charm."
"Else that or I truly am mad. Either way, I'm about to invite you to my bed." James leaned down a bit to kiss the whiskers on the other man's chin.
"No worries mate, I accept. Take me away." Jack pressed his wrists together against James' chest.
Laughing, the commodore wrapped his hands round the paired wrists and dropped a kiss on Jack's knuckles, before gently leading his captive to the door.
Jack entered eagerly, taking in the various aspects of the room. Like the dressing table, where James was setting his wig on its stand. "Ah! Your hair's brown." He noted, before his eyes were drawn to the large bed behind a wall of tapestry curtains. "Oh, that's a right big bed. How grand."
There was also a mirror in the corner next to the wardrobe where James was now putting away his clothes as he removed them. "All neat and tidy like. My, but you are a military man, James, a real stickler for order."
"Stop babbling, Sparrow, and get undressed." James was down to his hose, his bare chest puffing out as he stood at attention. He'd fallen back on years of military training to combat his uncertainty.
"Right." Jack sat on the bed to remove his boots while his James stood watching him, with the lamplight shining off his chest hair. His James. He did like the sound of that. 'Watch it, Jack, best not to get too attached. This might be a one time thing.' He checked the strange, giddy thoughts running through his head. Secret love affairs were always great fun and this promised to be a most dangerous and clandestine affair.
He stood, untying the sash around his waist before undoing the buttons on his vest, and laying both on the bed. James moved to pick up the garments, and then waited for the shirt to come off as well. When it did he tore his eyes from the pleasing sight of Jack's naked chest and put the clothes away in the wardrobe.
"Are you always this fastidious?" Jack said, unlacing the front of his breeches.
"Yes. It's a habit of Navy life. Clothes look better, and last longer, if you put them away, Jack. It makes them easier to clean and press as well. I do it in part as a courtesy to my housekeeper, to make her tasks more simple." James took the trousers and stockings Jack had just removed and put them away before finally ridding himself of his hose.
Tossing the balled up hosiery onto his dressing table, James stepped forward to press himself against Jack. "Now, there was something we started in the other room, I think."
"Oh yes. Let's do continue with that." Jack wrapped his hand round the back of James' neck and closed the small distance between their lips.
James had been too taken aback by their last kiss to really study it. Now he could linger and muse over Jack's lips and how they fit against his. No, it was not like that first kiss in his dream, it wasn't that earth shattering or mystic, but it was real. Real, warms lips, surrounded by wiry whiskers, moved against his. A real tongue slid against his own, the matching wetness exhilarating. Dreams were nice, but just then reality felt so much better.
Jack's one hand stayed pressed to his nape, but the other was fluttering up and down his spine. It dipped lower with every stroke, slipping into the cleft of his ass teasingly.
The kiss continued, becoming more a series of kisses, which expanded over both men's chins and jaws, but always managed to return to the lips. James couldn't decide what to do with his hands, which part of Jack's body to touch. He tried to content himself with the man's back, but all too soon they wandered to his sides and hips. Finally he just let them drift down to settle on the appealing curve of Jack's buttocks.
Finally, someone moved. Their torsos had been pinned together all during the exchange, pressed and unmoving. A pleasant sensation, yes, but not the sort of heated friction wanted in an encounter of this nature. Until one of them moved and the growing arousal they were both feeling found a center.
Jack threw his head back, gasping as he started to rub himself wantonly against Norrington's hip. "Maybe we should move to the bed."
"Yes." James' hands took hold of his lover's hips and held them still as he spoke in a ragged whisper. "I think that would be prudent."
The pirate took a step back and sat down, his eyes now closer to groin level. With a wicked grin, he leaned forward to nuzzle the thick penis before him, making James gasp and moan loudly. "Jaa-ack."
"Oh, very nice." The imp continued the teasing strokes of his mustache and beard over James' growing erection. He was careful though, to keep his lips from doing more then ghosting over the heated flesh. It was maddening.
"Damn and blast, Jack." James shoved at his shoulders, forcing Jack to crawl backwards onto the mattress as the other man's bulkier frame covered him. Jack's lips were claimed in a crushing kiss, as James took his turn grinding into the other man's hip.
"That's it luv. I'm all yours." Jack squirmed and bucked, kissing back wildly from under his new lover's body.
As delighted as Jack's exclamations made him, James really had no idea what he was doing. His first lover however, an admiral's widow who rather fancied inebriated young sailors, had often said that a lack of experience could be made up for with exuberance. Well, he was exuberant all right. A little overly so, perhaps. But as he slid down Jack's body to rub his cheek against the dark skin of the pirate's chest, he didn't care.
Jack's moan as his tongue moved to ring the circle of a dark nipple, fed his need. This Jack was as lusty as his dream counterpart, though the brown of his skin was more weathered and laced with scars then the fantasy Jack's had been. It only served to make him more real.
As Jack's hands kneaded his shoulder, James grew bolder. He let his mouth work lower, leaving kisses and experimental nips along the pirate's rib cage. And Jack responded to each touch, leaning into the swipes of his fingers and mewing softly when James' teeth pinched lightly at his skin. Jack's yelp as his tongue dipped into the man's navel, was glorious. All in all, the real thing was better than any dream.
The hair that started around Jack's navel was dark. Silky wisps of sable that led down to thicken into a coarse nest of curls around the base of his proud shaft. James swallowed back his trepidation at the prospect of being face to face, so to speak, with a penis. His first.
His momentary stillness aroused Jack's concern. "Everything all right, James?"
"Yes. Just getting my bearing."
Jack chuckled. "No compass for this, luv. So tell me, am I as you imagined?"
James pulled his eyes from the body part before him to those of the other man. "Mostly. A little paler and more scarred." He reached up to brush his fingertip over one of the particularly nasty pair of marks on Jack's chest, then let them slide over his skin to caress a series of scars on his left forearm.
"Don't ask, sweet. A pirate's life is a hard one." Jack rose up on his elbows, looking at the altogether delicious sight of his James between his legs. "You look lovely down there."
How was Jack capable of making him bashful as a bride? "Thank you." He worked up the courage to stroke his fingers up the top of Jack's cock, noting the way the skin glided over the shaft and how it ended with an upward curve. "Did you ever think of me like this, Jack. Before tonight?"
"Can't say I did, really. I'm sure I had the odd naughty thought about you, ya do look right handsome in that naval get-up, but nothing past what does he look like naked, I wonder." Jack's dark eyes watched, enrapt with the vision of James hand surrounding his penis and stroking. He moaned approvingly, moving his hips just a little in encouragement. "I must say though, now that we are here, I'm rather keen on the idea."
James chuckled, but his hand stilled. "I'm sure. You must forgive me, though, Jack. I'm not sure how to proceed. "
The pirate quirked an eyebrow at his new lover, a concept suddenly coming to him. "Overwhelmed? No worries, luv. Happens to us all. I do hope you're not a virgin, at least." When one dealt with thieves and scoundrels most the time, one forgot that civilized society was slower in sexual matters.
"No. I've had a few lovers in my time, when I was a younger officer. As I aged I found it harder to maintain dalliances and win the respect of my peers. After a while, you're expected to settle down with a wife and family, be respectable and all that. Women expect you to marry them if you bed them, so it was easier to focus on wooing a wife than a lover. And when it comes right down to it, I don't think I'm suited to be a husband." James lifted the slender, but still heavy, cock up to look at the dusky, hair-covered skin of Jack's bollocks. He smiled at his internal use of the vulgar word, but what else was he to call them? They were bollocks; same as the lovely thing set atop them was a cock.
"Now, what are you smiling at?" Jack squirmed a little. This waiting was getting to him, if James didn't do something soon, he would have to take matters into his own hand.
"Nothing. Thinking of the differences between women and men." James let his lips flutter over the head of Jack's penis.
The pirate's hips bucked, making his cock stroke over James's mouth harder. "That's it luv. Keep that up and we'll get somewhere."
James sighed. "I'm being too bloody timid, aren't I?"
"Aye, but I forgive ya. Your first, how did she manage with you?" Jack was half joking, half serious. If he was going to get the man to open up, he needed to tread carefully.
"She was more experienced, an admiral's widow. I was more then a bit drunk and barely paid attention the first time, just dived in and did it." James couldn't believe how unsure he was; proposing to Elizabeth had been a hundred times easier.
"Well then, just dive in and do me, James darling." Jack emphasized the statement by putting his hands behind his knees and pulling his legs up to press against his chest.
James blinked at the erotic position, strangely both stunned and aroused by the display. He had a moment of clarity and moved forward without thinking; pressing his lips to Jack's hungrily, while rubbing his cock against his lover's. Jack kissed back eagerly, their tongue meeting again in a joyous exchange.
Instinct hold James he'd need something to ease his way into Jack, and he ran over the things he knew were on his dressing table before pulling away from the dark man, to scramble off the bed.
Jack looked confused a moment until his James returned with an opened jar, his fingers dipping in to pull a dollop of whitish cream out. "Good thinking." He grinned and rolled over to rise up on his hands and knees and wiggle his arse.
"You're a trollop, Jack. A rake and a slattern." He said with a smile, his fingers sliding the cool ointment down the cleft of Jack bum, finding the tight entrance and sliding in a little.
The pirate purred and pushed backward to take more of the fingers in. "Aye. But I'm Captain Jack Sparrow the trollop and don't you forget it."
"I doubt I could." James applied another blob of cream to Jack's arsehole and twisted a little. The response he got was good, so he did it again, causing the man to make another interesting sound. If he carried on like this with only a finger in him, James had to wonder how loud he'd become with more. They would have to be careful or Mrs. Havadem and Kendricks would still manage to hear them through the floor.
It was far too late to worry however; James realized as he climbed fully onto the bed and positioned himself behind the man. He reached out to pull the still open bed curtain, in the hopes it would help muffle things somewhat.
"Now or never." James muttered as he carefully set his erection against the slicked hole. He rubbed his still anointed hand over himself a little before starting to push in. Brilliant sensations speared through him instantly, making him feel a bit giddy. And how many times had he done this is his dreams, or been on the receiving end of it? A hundred thousand fantasy copulations could not have prepared him for what it actually felt like to bugger Jack Sparrow.
Bugger, what an awful word for something so lovely. As he gripped Jack's hips and pushed in deeper, grunting softly at the feel of it, the absolute incorrectness of all the foul words associated with the act came to him. Oh it was base; that he could tell because it reduced him to a level of thought so simple and animal it was breathtaking. But what startled him was how much the feeling of Jack's body enveloping him in maddening tight, heat centered him. It seemed to flow right to the very foundations of his spirit.
All that aside, it also felt devastatingly good.
Jack was moaning, his hands clutching the pillow as he eased his chest down to press against the coverlet. The man sheathed deep inside him was beginning to move, rocking his hips and spearing into him with mounting force. Really, it was marvelous. Superb. And it could only get better as far he could tell. He hoped that dear William was good, because Elizabeth had truly missed a catch when she let this one go. "Which is fortunate for me."
"Hmm?" James had only half heard Jack's mumbling. He was a bit preoccupied.
"I was commenting on how lucky I am Miss Swann cut you loose. Imagine if she'd married you? She'd be the one being fucked without mercy right now." Jack rose up on his arms again, shifting his legs to press against the outside of James tensed legs. That pushed his arse downward and evoked a shocked cry from Norrington. "Makes it tight, don't it?"
"Yes, a bit too tight. I can't last like this, Jack." James' voice was harsh and breathy.
"Oh, sorry. I forgot this is still new for you. You're damned good though. Here, I think we best shift a bit." Jack pulled away, breaking the connection between them too return to his back.
James stifled a whimper at the loss of contact. He watched Jack turn over, again lifting his legs to expose himself. With another liberal dollop of salve, James quickly moved to reenter the man. He was not only once again encased in silky warmth but his eyes were locked on Jack's enchanting, dark gaze.
"There we are, Commodore. Would you be so kind as to pound the life out of me now?" Jack's mouth tipped up to catch hold of James', his tongue pushing between the parted lips forcefully.
"With pleasure." James said into sweet mouth under his before jerking his hips and sending Jack's eyes rolling back into his head. He thrusted repeatedly, ramming into Jack harder as the man's body moved to meet him. It was easier now to brace himself on his left arm, while his right arm slid between their bodies to take firm hold of Jack's cock.
He fumbled with it, trying to stroke Jack both internally and externally at once. Even as lacking in finesse as his attempt was, Jack's head still fell back, exposing the tanned skin of his neck. The hand that he had pressed to James' buttock clenched tighter, the ragged nails digging into his flesh. James gave himself completely to the act, plunging into Jack again and again with abandon, his hand trying to keep pace as their bodies moved in exhilarating counterpoint.
Jack's hand move from his arse to cover James' hand, speeding the pace of the caress as his body tensed. The skin of his throat beckoned James, prompting the man to press his lips to the hollow and attack it with teeth and tongue.
The pirate's body arched, shuddering violently as the hand that had been entangled in James' hair moved to his mouth to muffle a shrill cry. He bit into his palm hard as his release broke like a wave over him. James felt Jack's other hand leave his as a rush of moisture spilled out between them.
The resulting clench of Jack's body around him sent James reeling into a crescendo of pleasure. Didn't the French call it a little death? And oh it was, more so than ever before. James didn't have time to contemplate why this ejaculation with Jack was better than all those leading up to it in his life, he just fell into it. Like falling into the sea and being swathed in sudden glory.
They were panting, cheeks pressed together as both men gasped for breath. The moments stretched as Jack's fingertips began gently drifting over James' back, languidly drawing spirals and patterns into the skin. James tried to pay attention to the sweetness of the touch, but he couldn't stop thinking.
James had lived his life a certain way, followed a certain path. All his life he'd been sure of who and what he was. Ambition, pride, duty, honor; all things he lived by, had been thrown asunder by a few indescribable moments of bliss. And was it worth it? Was it worth ignoring, or at least rethinking, a lifetime of discipline and obligation?
Opening his eyes and lifting himself up to witness Jack's delirious smile, he knew that it was.
The commodore pulled his softened cock from his lover's body and let himself down on the bed next to him. He rolled off the bed to cross the room and pour water from a pitcher into the washbasin on a small table. Wetting a rag, James wiped himself clean. He blew out the lamp in the room before rewetting the rag and returning to the bed to do the same for Jack.
"A sod and a wash, I am a lucky bastard." Jack grinned. James tossed the rag into a hamper basket and pulled back the coverlet. The pirate shifted to get under the blankets before James joined him there and, once the officer had the bed curtains shut, immediately pressed himself against the other man.
James returned the pleasant cuddle, still pondering all the new doors that were opened by a simple act of lovemaking. "What happens now?"
"Now, I fall asleep." Jack muttered, his closed eyes and contented visage a testament to his weariness.
"I meant in the somewhat larger matter of our lives. I have just broken dozens of Navy regulations and moral edicts; forgive me if I'm in a thoughtful mood." James frowned. It had to be unhealthy to be so glum after such a wondrous experience.
Jack sighed. "Funny, I wasn't thinking about any laws at all. The most I was pondering was breakfast and a quick fuck come morning before I have to return to Governor Swann's. You, James my darling, think too much. What you should be doing is enjoying this most rare and delightful evening and looking forward to the next few days we have together."
"Yes, until I go back to being Commodore and you go back to being Captain Jack Sparrow." James grumbled.
The pirate propped himself up on his elbow and looked James in the eyes, his other hand stroking over the man's brow and down to his chin. "Aye, that's true enough. But we'll also be James and Jack, two men more than a little besotted with each other, and willing to throw caution to the wind for it. Now bloody well let me sleep, James."
Jack returned to nestle against James' side, leaving the other man to blink. Whatever happened tomorrow, and the next day, he had Jack in his heart and Jack had him in his, a little at least. For now, that was enough.
* * *
Elizabeth Turner stood in radiant glory, the pale blue of her dress a perfect match for the dove grey of William's coat. It had been beautiful, just as everyone said it should be. She had cried, Will had cried, her father had cried, her maid of honor had cried. The only dry eyes in front of the Reverend were Jack's. The pirate had been grinning like a madman, though. Beaming really, like a proud father. In an odd way, he was like a father to Will. Or an elder brother at least.
Dinner had been pleasant, though a bit strange. Jack had been restless; he seemed constantly to be glancing at the table where James was sitting. Elizabeth feared he was worried his clemency would not hold past the reception.
Now guests milled around her father's garden, dancing and listening to the lovely quartet the Mr. McTavish had sent. They had been more then happy to receive the gift considering that two members of Port Royal's own quartet had been lost too Barbossa's attack. She would have to thank Mr. McTavish when they visited.
Yes, things were going well. She had been concerned that having both Port Royal society and a pirate crew in attendance would cause trouble, but the worry had been unfounded. Jack had only intended to bring Mr. Gibbs and Anamaria to the wedding as his guests, but her father insisted that the whole crew grace them with their presence. She suspected that he'd wanted to personally scrutinize the men he was entrusting with so important a mission.
Cleaned up and in new fashionable attire, the men, and woman, of the Black Pearl looked like well-to-do merchant seamen rather than scallywags. Gibbs had danced with a few wealthy widows and was now telling a group of children wild tales of the sea. Anamaria, her dark beauty made more striking by the splendid sapphire dress she wore, had been attracting admirers throughout the proceedings. She turned them away in as polite a way as the fiery pirate maid knew how, and spent most of her time conversing with the quartet cellist between pieces. They must have become acquainted while the musicians were passengers on the Pearl.
Strong arms wrapped around her from behind. "And how is my wife?"
"Very well, thank you." She smiled. "And how is my husband?"
"Happy beyond imagining. Though a bit worried; I haven't seen Jack in awhile." Will's lips brushed over his wife's ear.
Elizabeth turned in his arms. "Really?" She turned again to scan the guests and realized that she didn't see James either. "Oh, dear."
"I haven't seen him either, dearest." Will gave his wife a serious look.
"You don't think they'd..."
"Not at our wedding, no. Both of them are more polite than that." He looked over the courtyard again, looking at the people milling about and chatting. Will was sure that Jack and Norrington wouldn't ruin their day by fighting openly. But the hedgerow maze just past the garden? That could conceal a lot of things, as he was well aware. His wife's sudden exclamation brought his eyes back to her.
"There they are." She pointed to the fountain in front of the maze entrance.
* * *
James emerged from the arch in the hedge wall, looking around to see that no one was near enough to notice him. The fountain luckily blocked the arched doorway to the labyrinth, he and Jack could return to the reception without being spied.
"All clear, luv?" Jack was finishing the very important task of lacing up his breeches. He completed the chore, grinning at the man who'd undone them in a wild flurry of passion. Not that he minded being orally pleasured in a secluded alcove of a hedge maze. It was a first for him, in fact, and by now it was hard to find something he hadn't done yet.
"Yes. Walk round the fountain that way and I'll meet you on the other side." James' eyes darted around before giving his lover a last kiss and, straightening his jacket, walked away around the fountain.
Jack waited a moment and then swaggered out, whistling and smiling in his usual roguish manner. Circling the great stone basin of the structure, he snatched a glass of champagne from a passing server. The dry, bubbly stuff wasn't really to his liking, but he was too far away from the punch bowl and the drink was necessary to regaining his composure after so sweet an exchange.
It had been a most delightful day. Upon waking he'd been presented with a wanton, eager bedmate unable to keeps his hands to himself. Apparently a good night's rest had done wonders for James' outlook. He threw himself into morning lovemaking with abandon, seemingly unhampered by the doubts that had surfaced before. It was a perfect start for the day.
Arriving at the other side of the fountain, he found James with a champagne glass of his own in hand. It was still full however. "Not your drink either, Norrington?"
"Actually, I rather like champagne. There's just a taste on my tongue I'd like to savor a bit longer." The Commodore smirked.
"That was a lovely dinner we had, wasn't it? And the dessert! Exquisite." How they were going to get through the day without having to find yet another trysting spot, Jack didn't know. "And thank you for that tour of the maze. Did you and Elizabeth, ever stroll there while you were courting?"
James rolled his eyes. "Yes, but not to that particular spot. The rest of the maze can be seen from the house, and we tended to walk out with a chaperone the few times we did. With Elizabeth, at least, I was a gentlemen."
"I thank you, then, for not being one with me." Jack bowed a bit, an impish grin spread across his face. He finished his drink and set the glass on the edge of the fountain before looking out over the crowd of guests. "Ah! Here comes dear William."
The groom was making his way toward them with two mugs in hand. He smiled and nodded at both of them before turning to Jack to offer him a mug. "Punch. I thought you'd prefer it to champagne."
"Aye, I do. I'm surprised your bride even allowed a rum punch at her wedding, considering her treatment of the spirit in the past." Jack drank deeply.
"Yes, well, she knew she couldn't get away with not having it. I've been sent by my wife to make sure you're not about to kill each other." Will's eyes moved back and forth between the two men warily.
James took a sip of his drink to hide the grin he could not stop. The sparkling wine sadly washed the taste of Jack from his tongue. Oh, but it wasn't like he wouldn't get it back later.
"You wound me, William. Do you really think that Norrie and I would mar your magical day by engaging in fisticuffs?" The pirate pouted, a look that made James take still another drink.
Will smiled. "No, of course not, Jack. Forgive us both for worrying so."
"Forget all about it, Will. You'll be pleased to know that Norrington and I have reached an accord. A harmonious truce." Jack cast his secret lover a mischievous look. He just couldn't resist playing with the situation.
The blacksmith blinked at his friend and best man, then looked to his new friend for answers.
"Indeed. Circumstances have demanded that we bury the hatchet, as the heathens near the Massachusetts Bay colony do." James smiled at the reference, but Will just looked more confused.
"The natives bury their weapons as a symbol of a new peace treaty. Noble people, flexible about gender and sexual roles too. I met a lovely berdache in Virginia once. Very handsome, married to a Frenchmen." The pirate gave his usual look of authority. James bit into his tongue to keep his face straight.
"Interesting. Well, you might run into her again on our voyage. Governor Swann has received the sanction to issue you a Letter of Marque." Will beamed proudly.
"What?" James very nearly dropped the glass he'd been holding. A Letter of Marque? When had that happened?
"Yes. Jack has been officially commissioned to transfer Elizabeth and I to visit her Aunt in Boston for our honeymoon. On the way we'll be dropping off the string quartet." He turned and indicated the musicians as they played. "We just got the word yesterday from London. I would have thought the Governor would have told you, James."
James frowned. "Letters of Marque are not a matter for the Navy, they are political rather than martial. All I can do is honor it." He turned to Jack and held out his hand. "Congratulations, Captain Sparrow. I stand corrected, it seems your good deeds have made up for your lifetime of wickedness after all."
Jack looked at the offered hand, then reached out to clasp it, his fingers caressed James' wrist as he did. "Yours was the only forgiveness that mattered to me, Commodore."
Their hands stayed together a moment as Will watched the strange exchange. Something was going on but he'd no clue what. Whatever it was he didn't care, so long as it meant his two best friends weren't trying to kill one another. "Well, if you'll excuse me, my wife is likely looking for me."
"Well, go to her, then. Go. Shoo." Jack waved him away, grinning like a fiend. He then returned to gaze at the stunned officer before him. Damn, if James didn't look delicious in his dress uniform. Like an over-decorated cake.
"And how did you manage that little maneuver, Jack?" The Commodore looked like someone had given him a right hard poke in the arse. Which, as a matter of fact, Jack had done just that morning.
"Didn't, luv. All Governor Swann's idea. Will and Elizabeth wanted to sail the coast and I've got enough swag holed up at Isla de Muerta to hold off on active piracy for a bit. Me, and my crew, get a rest while still doing what we love. We get paid well and get a Letter of Marque to absolve our past sins. On top of that, you get to stop worrying about having to hunt me down and hang me in order to keep your pretty blue uniform. So everyone's happy, savvy?" Jack downed the rest of his drink. "If I thought you could come with, I'd ask. And I need more punch. Join me by the bowl, James my darling."
James watched the pirate walk away with his usual swaggering grace. Fate had been leading him on a merry chase for a good long while. First it bent his heart to a man, and a pirate. Then it delivered that man to him, complete with a complementary attraction. Now it was offering a chance to have his heart and his duty without being completely torn apart.
Captain Jack Sparrow, privateer sailing under the King's Royal Seal. He would always be a pirate, but not one who James had to put to the sword. As he started to cross the courtyard to where his Jack was conversing with a crewmember who had a parrot on his shoulder, the world seemed a bright, wondrous place indeed.