Pairing: Jack/Norrington, Norrington/Groves (implied).
Rating: NC-17 for m/m slashy sex.
Archive: Yes, help yourself; include all chapters please.
Beta: Moonsalt (I WILL convert you, dearie! MUAHAHAHA) (Is it working yet?)
Disclaimer: Mouse & Bruckheimer Productions owns all, except Jack Sparrow who belongs to J.Depp. ;-)
Series: The Cupid Series
1: Cupid's Sparrow
4: A Taste of Heaven
5: Sugar Rush
6: White Gold
7: Gentlemen of Fortune
Summary: What price is a kiss? Jack Sparrow finds out. "Tell me, Commodore, how much are you willing to pay me to not kiss you?"
The Cupid Series
Norrington stood at the window, looking out to sea, where the horizon lay smudged beyond the walls of Fort Charles. It was mid-afternoon and the heat was sweltering, even despite the sea breeze that straggled over the sand and waves to reach the stone of the Fort.
His interview with Admiral Cartwright had yielded surprising revelations. Things with Spain were growing tense and difficult. Not that they'd ever been easy, but it was with swift response that men, ammunition, supplies and ships were being sent across the Atlantic even now, dispatched already two months prior to the systematic plunder of Jamaican settlements and towns by pirates.
Apparently, King George I considered the Caribbean important and held it in supposed regard, almost as highly as the previous King for whom Port Royal and even this fort had been named. Norrington knew better, of course. It was about the Spanish interests here, not the Caribbean itself. For a brief spell, after seeing Governor Swann the day before, Norrington had considered returning to England. But he'd be damned before he let himself be run out by pirates. No, it was the lure of real battles that called to him. Glumly, he realized he'd hardly managed to distinguish himself here in this tawdry town, in the Islands. Of course, he was a commodore of the fleet, but what else?
Cartwright had been remarkably lenient and tight-lipped about the entire affair with the pirate raids, the Turner excursion/kidnapping, and Governor Swann's retirement. Norrington had expected some form of humiliation for his lack of good judgment where the recent fiasco was concerned, but the admiral had merely let drop it had been good that he'd returned when he did, in time to reestablish some form of military presence in Port Royal.
And it was exactly as he'd thought; the admiral also left him in complete charge of the town. Norrington's lips curved cruelly. Humphries and the others were going to get their comeuppance. No more being bossed about by civilian, soft-headed, slack-jawed, undisciplined-
His thoughts ran aground at that. His own behavior had been reprehensible. Consorting drunkenly with pirates in gardens after dark while the rest of the crew helped themselves to the town's wealth.
Well, not that it had done anything but precipitate much-needed change. And in point of fact, the entire episode with Lynch and Sparrow had got them out of the town for a while. A fact that he most reluctantly owed to the irritating Jack Sparrow.
He sighed. And tried to place the equal reluctance he felt at the thought of hanging the man. The longer it took to bring Sparrow to justice, the less he relished the idea. He knew it was probably something to do with the man's spirited and outrageous manner. Or maybe it had been those kisses.
And of course this thought led directly to Lieutenant Groves, who still behaved as though being in proximity with him was worse than facing venomous serpents. Or a lion in his den, Norrington realized. He would have to resolve matters between them at some point.
Balancing the current, new changes of power and political positioning in Jamaica with the personal issues that still faced him on almost painful levels, Norrington was unprepared for the knock on the door.
"Come in," he said, absently.
Elizabeth entered his office. "James, I'm sorry to trouble you here, but I really need to speak with you most urgently."
Norrington frowned. "By all means. Have a seat. Are you alright?"
Elizabeth sat quickly, and undid her bonnet. "As my father no doubt told you yesterday, we're returning to England. Things with Will have been… shaky. We've decided that it has been a disaster. We were counting on true love to simply enchant our path forward in life, but, well, you know how things like that turn out, I'm sure." She seemed distant and a little sad, but no more than the situation demanded. "We had such high hopes, and it's just been so…so…" she hesitated.
"Too real?" he offered, in a low voice. It was difficult seeing her here like this, after having spurned him so easily and quickly for the blacksmith, to now know she was leaving, without even thinking of him or the blacksmith.
She gave him a sad smile. "I wouldn't shame you by asking you to take me, James. I'm afraid I'd do you more harm than good just now, particularly considering recent events. I'm just so terribly sorry that our friendship with Jack has ended up compromising you. And my father. And… and the town." She looked away, obviously distraught about the entire matter.
Norrington considered her. She did seem to have matured somewhat. Her manner appeared mature and a little more sedate than usual. She'd always had a graceful elegance, but now it was tempered with a bit of wisdom in her eyes. He found it more than attractive; it was heart-warming to see. "Actually, Elizabeth, I think I've profited more from this outcome of recent events than anyone else. More so even than Sparrow, if I may be so bold."
She regarded him, meeting his gaze, looking concerned. "I have only one thing I must ask of you, as a favor, from one friend to another, James. It isn't easy for you, I know, but I must ask, because there is no one else I can turn to."
Norrington nearly sighed, and did so, inwardly. He looked down. "Of course. What is it?"
She looked out the window. "It's Will. He's still a blacksmith, and to be honest, I did lead him astray somewhat. He only went along with it to please me. And he admires Jack, for Jack's charisma as well as for being his father's friend. I wanted some excitement, I know everyone else did too. But now he has nothing, and no-one to look out for him, to speak on his behalf. In the light of our annulment and with the wedding being so recent, he's ruined here. I can flee to England, but with both my father and me gone, Will is alone. Please," she said, leaning forward. "Won't you be there for him in some capacity? To keep this town from hanging him, or tearing him apart, if you can?"
Norrington nodded. "Of course. And there is the matter of his craftsmanship, which is excellent. His blades are still the finest that we can commission. He has a good career here, if he can stick to it and not run off with Sparrow again."
"That's just it," she said. "I fear he may very well do that. If he does, it will be because he believes he has no choice. I want to make sure that, somehow, he doesn't think he is left with no choice at all."
"Do you love him, Elizabeth?" Norrington asked it point-blank, quietly, watching her carefully.
"I do. But I'm not in love with him," she replied, frankly. Her answer was just as quiet, and honest, he could tell, as the question had been. "Whereas he is in love with me, but he doesn't love me. I'm sure you see the problem." She sighed.
Norrington looked down again. "I sincerely hope that you will find someone to love someday, Elizabeth. You are still one of the finest women I have ever known. Many men here in this town may consider you too hot-blooded, or damaged goods, but I want to assure you that I have never lost my high estimation of you."
She gave him a sunnier smile. And blushed.
He turned away. For Heaven's sake… Why-?
She got up, went around the side of his desk and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you, James. I have never lost my estimation of you, either. May you also find true happiness someday. Wherever it may lie."
And still smiling, she returned to the front of the desk, retrieved her bonnet, and went to the door. "Goodbye," she said.
"Goodbye, Elizabeth," he replied, wondering why he wasn't begging her to stay.
As the door closed behind her, he sat down in his chair and closed his eyes. What had just happened? She had left. This time for good. Why hadn't he spoken up? Did he want her? It wasn't too late to stop her. But no. Best to let her go. It wouldn't be good for either of them: not her, for him here in this place, nor him for her, seeing as her heart was still her own. She thought she knew where her heart truly lay, but it was only because she hadn't lost it yet. And a thought curled his lip upwards: she was more pirate than William Turner was, despite the lad's blood.
The unbelievable and unmistakable sound of a bolt from a crossbow shooting directly into his office through his open window jolted him from his reverie.
Glancing up at the wall where the bolt had impaled itself, he saw a piece of parchment attached to it.
Somewhat anxiously, he thought of pirates and daylight robbery. This was after all a most unorthodox means of delivering a message.
And, he thought, wryly, it would seem Heaven was attempting to tell him to forget Miss Swann, after all, with this latest development.
Warily regarding the direction from the open window where it had come from, Norrington pulled the bolt out of the wall and slid the message off of it.
He had a sinking feeling that increased as he began to read:
Nor thys, nor that, so much doeth make me mourne,
But for the ladde, whome long I lovd so deare,
Now loves a lasse, that all his love doth scorne:
He plongd in pain, his tressed locks dooth teare.
Colin thou kenst, the Southern Shepheardes boye:
Him Love hath wounded with a deadly darte.
Whilome on him was all my care and joye,
Forcing with gyfts to winne his wanton heart.
Norrington sighed, and considered burning it. It looked like a love poem. Now, who did he know who might want to send him love poetry, especially with 'a deadly dart', just to hammer the point home?
With some distaste, he had to admit it had struck its mark. The sender was obviously intending for him to 'know' that the sender was pining away for him while waiting for him to stop pining after the girl. And who had just left his office? Nicely timed, this bolt.
Norrington considered the poem more carefully. Indeed; the message was that it was his actions that had wounded, not the sender's, for while the sender apparently believed he was lavishing all love upon him, Norrington was agreeing to do favors for Elizabeth merely to win her back.
He began to chuckle, softly. Absurd. Utterly absurd. Hilarious, in fact. And he could think of no other sender more likely than Jack Sparrow. Correction, Captain Jack Sparrow, no doubt having paid some fellow to aim directly into his window after Elizabeth's departure.
Norrington was hardly uneducated, but he found himself hard-pressed to discover the identity of the author of the poem. It seemed very familiar. Especially the spelling. He frowned, wondering how he might ascertain its author.
A riddle. Something small to while away the hours, in between more pressing engagements. He set it aside and promptly found himself picking it back up again, to read it more carefully.
If he were to take this message literally, the sender (Sparrow?) was actually taking extraordinary lengths to try to tell him that he felt jilted. Incredible.
He began to wonder if Sparrow would bother. It didn't seem his style. Sparrow was more the upfront, in-one's-face to the point of offensive, rather than cryptically incomprehensible and, really, downright invisible.
Groves? He wondered.
A knock on his door interrupted his musing and he called, "Come."
Lieutenant Groves entered his office, almost as if on cue. "Yes, Sir?" He stood at attention, carefully not looking directly at Norrington.
"I beg your pardon?" Norrington asked, puzzled.
"You sent for me, Sir?" Groves sounded sincere. Waiting.
If this was a ruse, he doubted very much Groves knew he had a part in it. But the sheer coincidence seemed timed far too closely. How on earth had Groves thought he'd sent for him?
"Who told you?" Norrington inquired.
Groves frowned a little and straightened. "Lieutenant Gillette, Sir."
Norrington considered this with a raised brow. Either Groves was lying outright, or Gillette had been given the message from someone. And so he could spend all afternoon playing wild goose chase with the originator of this summons, or he could simply dismiss poor Groves.
Ah, but then…He smiled at Groves.
"Indeed. Interesting timing. I have just received a most perplexing message by extraordinary means. I'd like your opinion on it, considering its source might be, shall we say, disagreeable?"
Groves was confounded. "Disagreeable, Sir?"
Norrington said, "Sit down, Groves. And read this - it may have been from a certain pirate of our mutual acquaintance."
Groves hastily sat, the import of Norrington's words not lost on him. "Yes, Sir," he muttered.
Taking the letter, he began to read in silence.
Groves' cheeks turned quite pink as the two verses registered.
Norrington wondered aloud, "I'm confounded if I can place the author."
"I-It's Spenser, Sir. Edmund Spenser. The author of 'The Faerie Queen'? This is from The Shepherd's Calender."
Norrington smiled, grimly. "Indeed?" Homoerotic subtext and outright comparison of male love to the love of women, finding the love of men as more true and constant. Norrington leaned back in his seat.
Groves' eyes narrowed now. "Sir, this is a passage from the Shepherd in love, from the month of April, in which he describes the truth of his feelings, but which then ends up as a song in praise of a girl called 'Elizabeth'." He glanced up at Norrington. "Honestly, that's the girl's name."
Norrington frowned. "Why would anyone send me this, now? Unless it is a cruel jest? It is far too cryptic."
Groves seemed to have overcome his embarrassment at his over-familiarity with the Calender, for he said, "Sir, the month before tells of an encounter with Cupid, a shepherd who comes upon Cupid in the bush and they exchange shots. The first month actually has Colin complaining about his suffering over his love for a woman."
Norrington drew a breath. "That would appear to be entirely too coincidental to disregard, wouldn't you say?"
Groves nodded. "Although, Sir, I have to say, just as insignificant follies and love poems were used to secrete intelligence from the East into the West, this might be another occasion of the same. Maybe it has something to do with the months?"
Norrington sat up straighter. "April? And the month before is March… We're nowhere near March. It's nearly December."
"Indeed," Groves said, his voice lowering with excitement. "Perhaps this is a bit more contrived. First the meeting with Sparrow in the bushes… followed by this here, which seems to tell of someone languishing unseen and unrecognized. It has to be Sparrow. But why?"
"It may not be Sparrow at all," Norrington commented. "Perhaps someone is telling me that I'm being watched. Perhaps being watched by more than one, also."
"Then why the secrecy and code?"
"Perhaps the danger is that much hidden," Norrington said, reverting instantly back to military intelligence after his unsavory detour into the world of love-poetry and emotional problems. "They timed the bolt exactly to enter my window as Elizabeth was leaving. That would seem to point to the fact that they know about her, about Sparrow previously, even about-" he stopped, about to say 'you'.
This was not lost on Groves, whose blush had begun to recede but then intensified once more.
But it was true. The verses seemed to contain virtually every element of his immediate encounters, including the unhappy relations with Elizabeth as opposed to others' feelings unrequited towards himself. He was clearly 'Colin' in this…
Norrington was unhappy now. "This is too sinister. I don't like it. It's a warning, that I'm being watched too closely." Abruptly, he asked, "What happens next?"
Groves closed his eyes, in concentration. "Well, May. Let's see… Edmund Spenser attacked hypocritical men of the clergy, men of the cloth who are far too entrenched in worldly affairs."
Norrington began to think that the riddle was not just a warning, it was a direct message pointing to where the answer might lie, as to who was watching him. "And June?"
Groves replied, "Colin generally feels sorry for himself, complaining about how unhappy he is, and how unlucky in love he is."
"Far too sinister," Norrington commented. "It means, if I do not investigate the clergy, I will end up even more unhappy than I am now. Interesting. All this directly after my interview with Admiral Cartwright, and right on the heels of Governor Swann's departure and retirement." He gave Groves a sardonic look. "And of course they chose the verses, knowing you'd be able to help me determine their underlying meaning, as you are familiar with Spenser's work."
Groves bit his lip.
Norrington straightened in his seat. "Lieutenant, thank you. I now have another task for you, one that you will probably find palls after a while. I want you to investigate the Church here in Port Royal. Most notably the clergymen." A thought dawned on him. "Include the priest who married the Turners, and the one who agreed to have them annulled, if it was a different man. And tell no one of what you are doing. Report back to me directly with anything you find."
"Yes, Sir. Is there anything in particular you want me to look out for?" Groves seemed utterly relieved to have a job that required him not only to stay mostly out of Norrington's way, but also to report back to him.
Norrington wondered how he might discover the identity of the sender of the message. "Yes. Concentrate on digging up where their loyalties lie. Particularly who their contributors and investors are. I suspect we may be about to flush some rats out of the gutter."
"Yes, Sir," Groves said, with a grin. He left, and Norrington contemplated the script of the passages once more. The handwriting was fine, printed neatly, and nothing else could really be said about it. The paper it was written on was clean.
Bloody intrigue, now that he was the one holding the reins, Norrington thought viciously to himself. This wouldn't have happened if Swann weren't leaving.
And then he realized that the mysterious sender had probably been biding their time for quite some while to pounce on this opportunity.
Well, there was nothing left to do now but to wait.
Still, the hilarity at the obvious reference to his previous encounter with Sparrow in the garden… The 'shepherd' meeting the god Cupid in the bush and exchanging shots. Shot of rum, or arrows, was the question. He grinned.
Over the course of the next several days, Norrington and Groves surfaced a great deal of damning evidence against the clergy of Port Royal - enough to ensure that no amount of blackmail ever leveled against them would go unmatched. But somehow, nothing turned up that appeared to be of a more politically sinister or involved nature.
They were thus forced to entertain the possibility that it had simply been a warning that they were being watched, by the sender if no one else.
Perhaps that was the blackmail, itself. To let them know that certain events occurred but not in isolation as Norrington had supposed. If someone had known they'd met Jack Sparrow in the garden that night, they'd seen the entire drunken outcome of the contest. And done nothing to interfere, nor had lent a hand when the raid began on the hall.
Norrington found himself growing suspicious of passersby, strangers, unknown faces. He wondered if he was becoming paranoid, or if he wasn't paranoid enough.
One morning, he was riding in his carriage down the main street, when he caught sight of a monk with a hooded habit. It covered him completely. The idea occurred to Norrington that perhaps it wasn't worldly clergymen at all, but worldly men disguised as clergymen.
Once again, his thoughts returned to Jack Sparrow. He couldn't help it; it had been plain to see on the list of accused crimes that Sparrow had stood trial for, just prior to his escaped hanging that day, a year or so ago. 'Impersonating a member of the Church of England.'
The Church of England, Norrington mused. Whoever knew Norrington also knew Jack Sparrow's sordid past equally well. A common enemy, or common ally? There was no way to tell.
It seemed even more cryptic, now, in light of his new discovery. If the sender was saying instead merely to beware of worldly men disguising themselves under a hood of nobility or pious deeds, that could very well apply to anyone. But Groves had specified too clearly the fact that it had been a disgruntlement with the clergy themselves, for hypocritical indulgence in worldly affairs.
The riddle gnawed at him, even as he slept. It began to haunt him. It distracted him and caused him to begin losing sleep.
Then, one bright morning when his office was bathed in white sunlight, he was tidying his desk, preparing for the day, when there was a knock on his door. "Come in," he called, fully expecting Gillette or Thomas or Groves…
A monk entered his office and shut the door firmly behind him, then slid the lock home. In alarm, Norrington stood and grabbed his pistol. "Stay where you are," he ordered. "Don't make any sudden moves. Now state your business."
"Now, that's no way to greet an old friend, Commodore," drawled Jack Sparrow, flipping back his hood and regarding the pistol with a bit of a grimace. "Didn't you get my message, then? I told you to expect me."
Norrington exhaled heavily and sat down in his chair. "For God's sake! All this time! I've been worrying away at the bloody thing for over two weeks now. Didn't you think to simply write a note? One that actually made sense?" Norrington was furious. At least now the bloody wait and suspense was over.
Jack was beaming at him. "Pax, mate. It gave you something to keep you occupied, you learned a great deal about the Church, and your little officer had something to keep 'is mind off that broken heart of 'is, into the bargain." Jack slid into the chair in front of Norrington's desk as if invited. He slouched. He made the chair look somehow comfortable in ways that it really shouldn't be.
Norrington glared at him.
Jack sat up. "Very well, then. We can skip the pleasantries and get down to business."
"Whose?" Norrington demanded. "I want nothing to do with your business."
Jack held up a finger. "You might want to change your mind about that. You see, Commodore, my business is your business. That's why I've been making it my business to know your business."
Norrington regarded him coldly. "Do you realize that the stunt you pulled back there after that absurd pantomime with Ned Lynch nearly could have cost us all of our lives?"
"Timing," Jack said, shaking his finger, "Is everything. You might want to be asking yourself why it is, for instance, that I'm here bright and early like a bleeding lark, instead of visiting you after hours."
Norrington stared witheringly down at Sparrow, over his nose. "I have a horrible suspicion you're about to tell me."
"Because no one will expect the captain of the Black Pearl to simply walk into this little Fort of yours, eh? Right into your office? In fact, it's entirely probable that I'll walk out again."
"Don't bet on it," Norrington informed him. "You had better have an extraordinarily good reason for being here."
Jack was shaking his head sadly. "With all the prodigiously generous moments of ample opportunity you've been offered from on High, you still haven't availed yourself of that little officer of yours, have you?"
Norrington sat up, and said, savagely, "If you do not state your reason for coming here within the next ten seconds, I will march you to the gallows personally."
Jack looked down at Norrington's desk, withdrew a bottle of rum and sat it on the desk between them, although not on Norrington's papers. "It's like this. We both have a mutual problem. The best way to fix our problem, is to meet up later tonight and thrash it out. Once we've discussed it, we can go our separate ways, eh?"
Norrington bit back a retort. The entirely unwelcome warm and fuzzy feeling that was creeping into him, settling somewhere in the region of his chest, at seeing the damnable pirate again, was undeniable. "And what problem would that be?" he asked, in his most humoring tone.
"I'll tell you," Jack said, leaning forward to place his elbows on the desk. Pointing with one finger, he said, "You can't forget about me," and he reversed the gesture, "And I can't forget about you. So, we'll meet up at a time and place of our choosing, and work it out. What could be simpler?" And he smiled at Norrington, as though this was the obvious solution.
Norrington's lips began to curl upwards despite his best attempt. "When and where?"
Jack's eyes flickered, obviously registering Norrington's play.
For naturally he had no intention of following through on it.
Norrington said, "I have to say, Mr. Sparrow, you really do rate yourself quite highly. Far too highly. Taking advantage of the King's Men while they are incapacitated with drink hardly constitutes a victory, wouldn't you say?"
Jack sank back in his chair. "So you won't pursue the lass, and you won't accept me offer, and you won't avail yourself of the little lieutenant. What will you avail yourself of?"
"I make it a habit to avoid pirates, and I avoid pirates in habit, as well," Norrington commented.
Jack's face fell. "I see." Then he straightened and sat up, both hands on the desk before him. "Well, then. I guess your mind's made up. So, I'll be off."
Norrington sighed through his nose. "Mr. Sparrow, just how do you propose to get out of here alive?"
Jack stood and said, plainly, as it was obvious, "Same way as I came in. The back door."
Norrington frowned. "What back door?"
Jack lifted his brows at him. "There's always a back door." He snatched up the rum bottle and secreted it away.
"What was the rum for? Never mind, I don't want to know," Norrington quickly added.
Jack pulled the hood back over his head and said, "God go with you, son. Although, have to say you're more on your way to the life of a monk than Teddy or meself."
Norrington almost winced. Teddy? He scowled. "Teddy?"
Jack's eyes widened. "Aye, your young officer that's pining away for the loss of you. I took the liberty of introducing the lad into my company and he's feeling a little better about things." This blatant statement was accompanied by an entirely wicked grin.
It didn't help settle the sudden frustration that roiled in Norrington's stomach. "What have you done with him?! Where is he?"
"Done… with him?" Jack asked. "To be honest - which I'm generally not, but on this rare occasion I will be - haven't done anything with him yet. But seeing as you're celibate an' abstaining an' all, I'm going to go out of my way to do everything with him. Someone's got to take the lad in hand, after all." Another mischievous grin blindsided Norrington, a grin that seemed to promise that young Teddy Groves could look forward to a very educational future.
Norrington began to regret his hasty words. And the fact that he was on the verge of trusting Jack Sparrow, of all people. The man was entirely devious and completely slippery, and wholly untrustworthy. Dishonest, by his own admission. To a fault. And a pirate. And as Norrington realized he'd been on the edge of accepting Jack's invitation, he was treated to a shaft of what appeared to be pure envy. And possessive envy, at that. He didn't want to think about it, but he couldn't stop the image from flashing before him once more, in lurid detail. The sight of Jack Sparrow and Officer Groves in a lip-lock… Norrington's face tightened.
Lowly, he said, "You would do well to leave Groves alone."
Jack paused, as if surprised. "You don't want 'im, and I do. You don't want me, or so you claim. Which leaves Teddy and I to make do the best we can. I really don't see as we have any alternative, really. Of course, you could always join us." He smiled, happily. Then he gave Norrington a knowing little smirk. "You did enjoy watching us the other day, did you not?"
Norrington began to hate Jack for the fact the pirate had the nerve to walk into his office and conduct this sort of conversation with him in broad daylight… where anyone could walk in, and where he spent many of his own days, and would be forced to remember Jack sitting in here now for the rest of the duration of his life at Port Royal. "Certainly not," Norrington snapped.
"I beg to differ," Jack said. "Far as I recall, you were loving every second of it. So it is that you're a voyeur, then! You can only manage while watching, eh?" Jack shrugged. "Each to 'is own, I guess. Not for me to judge."
Norrington bit out, "Are you quite finished?"
"Yes, quite. Although there is just one last thing, if you'd be so kind as to indulge me," Jack continued.
Norrington gave him a sardonic look.
Jack raised his brows hopefully. "Any chance of a farewell kiss?" At Norrington's lack of change of expression, Jack shrugged. "Thought not. My loss, I'm sure." Jack turned to go the door, then turned around again. "Is it the habit, then? I could lose the robe."
"Where are you meeting Te-" Norrington caught himself. "Officer Groves?"
Jack shook a hand at him. "That would be telling, Commodore, and you know I can't do that. Listen, be a dear and don't raise the alarm, eh, mate? At least wait until I've got to the back door?"
Norrington regarded him impassively.
Jack smiled. "Farewell, Commodore. I'll give your regards to Teddy." And with a flick of his wrist at the hood, pulling it down over his face completely, Jack left Norrington's office, shutting the door quietly behind himself.
Norrington sat with his face in his hands. The one question he couldn't account for, was why he had let him go.
It was… his eyes. Those dark, deep eyes. The eyes knew too much and saw too much, and Jack Sparrow always seemed to look right into him, to see everything about him, all the way inside of his very being.
Or was it the man's mouth. The combination of the two? The memory of those lips on his own flared briefly, unforgettably, in his mind. He could still remember what Jack's mouth had felt like against his.
He'd let Elizabeth go. He'd let Groves suffer in silence until Jack had taken pity on him. And now he'd let Jack go as well. He realized that in truth, Jack knew him better than he knew himself. He was entirely too predictable.
And Groves' words returned to him: the month of June… Failure to recognize the worldly clergyman would result in self-pity and a month of emotional complaints about his losses in love.
Norrington groaned. Damn the man! The pirate had got under his skin and now he was wriggling like a fish on a hook, bait on the line.
Norrington drew himself up. Why should he always observe propriety? What was it Sparrow had said, 'damn propriety'.
Back door, was it, Mr. Sparrow? Norrington thought to himself, and left his office with intent.
Norrington found himself back in the same dark corridor he'd wandered down previously. Whoever would have guessed that the Fort had such a convoluted subterranean set of passages riddled beneath? It didn't make sense, and with every step he took, he realized he was truly lost.
Ah well, nothing for it now but to simply move to the light. Wherever he ended up, it was bound to overlook the cliff-face, right out onto the water.
He put his hands behind his back and continued slowly along the dark, treacherous rocky path covered with slimy stones. Fitting really, that he'd end up here.
Dank, old seawater and rotting things, like old memories and yes, even bad habits. He suppressed a chuckle. For all that the man was a pirate, and dangerous, as well as dangerously irrepressible, he grew on one after a while.
The problem was, he didn't much care for Groves to be flinging himself into Jack's arms for consolation, when Groves wanted him, and for Jack to go seeking out Groves was equally disturbing, because he wanted Jack.
Ah, there was the rub. He did want Jack, and the thought of Groves and Jack Sparrow together sent a frisson of hot anger clanging up his spine and down again. It settled in the pit of his stomach and weighed heavily.
The thought that he might discover them together down here was incredibly frustrating. Despite Jack's jibes, he didn't want to watch at all. He was starting to wonder what it was in him that Jack valued.
Of course, the obvious answer was that to have fallen for Jack would mean that the one man in complete power over the city of Port Royal and the Navy presence here was in the complete and utter power of one pirate named Jack Sparrow. Norrington shook his head. Unacceptable.
He hadn't been paying attention to where he was going, and nearly slipped on the stones, when out of the dark, the sudden zing of a sharp blade took him by surprise. But not fast enough, and he quickly whipped out his own sword, blocking it far too close to his torso.
"Took you long enough," Jack said.
"This place is clammy and dank."
Jack wrinkled his nose. "I know. But, if you'll care to follow me, I've found a place that is much more hospitable, by far." The monk's robe was gone, and somehow, Jack's precarious steps on the slimy stones began to give Norrington a case of nerves, simply on principle. With every step Jack took, he seemed about to go down, sliding about, waving his arms in a manner that seemed to cry out for aid.
Fuming, Norrington realized he must be doing it for effect. "Must you make a production out of everything?" he muttered, advancing past Jack.
"It's these damned boots," Jack said. "Whoa, there." Jack suddenly grabbed hold of Norrington's left arm for balance. "Sorry." He let go at Norrington's glance down at him, and smiled. "Why'd you come down here, then?"
The rocks gave way to sand, and Jack sauntered forward more easily once more. Although Norrington still wouldn't put it past him to have arranged his little clutch and grab simply for the effect.
Norrington replied, "Stay away from the lieutenant."
"Seems you'll have to give me some incentive," Jack stated.
"Alright. I'll meet you at a time and place of your choosing. Tonight." Norrington stated it calmly, meaning every word.
Jack frowned, picking up on his tone. "We're right here, right now. Why wait until tonight?"
"Because of the dank, clammy atmosphere," Norrington said, with a note of disgust at their surroundings. "You've been accessing the Fort through here? You have a stronger stomach than I thought."
Jack didn't answer, merely contented himself with a gesture. "It's up there, through that cave mouth. Leads out to the sea."
"At long last," Norrington muttered.
Sure enough, they stood down at the bottom of the cliff, far beyond the Fort that lay distant and high above them, off to the left. The sun was climbing high now, and Norrington realized he had told no one where he was bound. "Where's Groves?" he demanded.
Jack began to laugh quietly and leaned against a huge boulder near them. "Why are you asking me?"
"Don't you meet him down here?"
"Haven't spoken with him since the Turner's wedding night," Jack drawled.
Norrington considered the sand at their feet and smiled. "I see."
Jack sat down in the pale sand and stretched in the sun. With only the gurgling slap of waves against the stones and lapping of the sea upon the low tideline farther out, they were alone. Norrington sat down, joining him in the sand.
Jack turned to regard him, looking him over, and after too long of this, Norrington met his gaze. "What is it?"
"You're going to burn," Jack claimed. "With that fair skin of yours, out here."
"Your concern is touching." He kept his tone noncommittal.
Jack merely grinned. "So you liked the poem, then?"
"Certainly kept my mind occupied."
"Glad I could oblige. Though, I have to say that it was really rude, mate."
The meaning of Jack's comment escaped him. "What was?"
"How you've led poor Teddy on."
"Ah. Yes. Well," Norrington said. The abrupt realization that Jack hadn't actually been seeing Groves at all was imminently soothing. And now that he was sitting beside Jack Sparrow on a lonely strip of beach with nothing but waves and seagulls for company, he began to feel that nervous sensation he'd felt the night Jack had appeared before them in the garden after too many glasses of punch.
Only this time, he couldn't blame it on the rum.
Lazily, Jack asked, his eyes on the horizon, "Why do you fight yourself so bloody hard, mate? It's terribly unnecessary. Expending all that effort for nothing."
"Hm. You're probably right. But I'm still not clear on why you pulled that remarkably suicidal stunt with the Black Pearl that night. You really endangered everyone, you know."
"I know how the Pearl moves, eh? Down to the second. She passed between with plenty of room, and time," Jack answered, smoothly.
"It was a foolhardy and brilliant piece of work," Norrington admitted.
"Aye, it was," Jack said, grinning. He squinted at Norrington in the bright sun. "You really are going to burn, you know."
"Yes, well, at least not all over."
"Yes, all over," Jack contradicted him.
Norrington glanced at him. "No, I won't."
Jack leaned back on his elbows in the sand and said, "You will. I'm going to wager that by the time we're through here, you won't be wearing a stitch of clothing."
Norrington raised a brow at him. "Unlikely, unless you're considering stripping me by force, in which case I daresay I'm stronger than you are."
"Do you, now?" Jack raked an assessing glance over Norrington's form, and took off his hat, letting it join his coat.
Norrington smiled, abruptly feeling like he was fifteen again. And using the element of surprise, tackled Jack suddenly, seizing his wrists and using his weight to hold the pirate beneath him.
In an equally swift move, Jack had managed to catch Norrington's left leg with his right, and with a deft twist, Norrington found himself on his back, with Jack atop him, grinning down at him.
"Let's stop wasting precious time and just get down to business, eh?" Jack said, as if Norrington was dallying.
Norrington nodded. "Sand."
"To hell with the sand," muttered Jack, capturing his lips and not letting up, beginning a long, slow assault that Norrington could only compare with the brief moments in the garden that night, but which outstripped them quickly.
Strangely, Norrington found his breeches undone and his shirt unbuttoned. Jack's fingers appeared entirely too nimble. Abruptly his cravat was loose now too, fluttering in the breeze. Their feet were bare, as Jack's hands were continually busy.
Jack sat back, and began undoing the rest of his own clothing. Norrington sat up to remove his shirt, realizing with a sense of complete freedom and abandon that he hadn't had the slightest intention of being anywhere like this by noon that day, nor anywhere with Jack Sparrow, least of all naked. And he knew Jack was right. He was going to burn. He began to laugh.
And Jack was wearing his familiar smirk, only here in the sun and sand and surf, somehow it seemed perfectly beautiful. Wild, free, and now Norrington realized what he'd been wanting.
This. Just like it was, here and now, with him, smooth bronzed skin and a mouth that seemed as delicate as his eyes were sharp, and somehow always, still too deep. Free of constraints and protocols, with only the dignity of manhood between them. Jack's body was against his in the next breath, and stealing that same breath in the following moment, Jack's mouth on his again.
Warmed by the sunlight, his skin was glowing, already recovering from years of prudence and refinement, allowed to breathe even as Jack's tongue robbed him of speech and carried off his thoughts, catching him up in Jack's eyes to hold him there, face to face, with just the silence.
And Jack grinned down at him, saying, "Tell me, Commodore, how much are you willing to pay me to not kiss you?"
Norrington smiled easily, and murmured, "It's too late, I'm afraid. You already won the wager. I'd say the price of a kiss is my heart, but you've already stolen it, pirate that you are."
"Mm. And I suppose," Jack breathed down at him, "You're going to forget all about this afterwards, and pretend you didn't say it."
"Never. You have my word," Norrington said, and he meant it. And proved it to him by pulling Jack's mouth down to his again.
As Jack continued to purposefully rub against him, their members sliding against each other in liquid silk and skin combined, the scent of the sea and of both their arousal was suddenly the most profound sensation he'd ever experienced. He'd found hints of it with women occasionally, buried in the heart of their dark caverns, yet never able to retain it for longer than a fleeting second.
Here it was out, at last, in the daylight and unashamed, no stolen glances or mere traces of pleasure, but expansive and pure and entirely voluptuous, like the light that fell effortlessly on their bodies.
The brightness of the sun off the water and the glare of the sand blinded him and the only focus he could find was in the long, dark wings of Jack's hair and Jack's eyes which seemed all too black for the liquid brown they really were.
He became aware he was gasping, and Jack's answering moans were helping him to keep pace with the slow rhythm they were gradually increasing. He gripped Jack's arms, and then moved to grasp him lower, encircling around his back, holding him against him, and Jack gave a little moue of smug contentment at it, and for once he allowed himself to like it. To admit to himself that he'd grown so fond of seeing that look on Jack Sparrow's face. To see him lost in rapturous pleasure - it was a release. It allowed his own heart to finally struggle free, lifting itself with helpless flutters out of the sad, lonely little cage he'd kept it safe in for so long.
And still the relentless rays of sunlight beat down, falling in silence, and there was nothing but the slow, pounding pleasure thrilling through him as Jack arched his back and shuddered against him, Jack's breath catching in his throat, only helpless tiny strangled gasps as he felt the slick pooling of their mingled, shared pleasure of each other's bodies, each other's time, each other's eyes and hearts and lips, gathering between them.
He couldn't think of when he'd last felt so alive, like an animal, and yet completely aware of his faculties, aware of every single grain of sand on him, beneath him, every touch of Jack's skin where Jack lay draped against him, breathing hard, eyes closed.
The surf continued to gently pound below them, the sound capturing the moment in beauty, and white, and gold.
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