Summary: James has a near-miss in a battle, and Jack's not happy about it.
Warning: A touch of the bittersweet humour, with a link to a past tale of mine, Formal Engagements
By L.M. Griffin
James Norrington opened his eyes slowly, letting out a painful breath, and found himself staring at an irate pirate.
He gaped at Jack Sparrow, perched on the end of his bed, shafts of moonlight hitting the wild variety of beads and trinkets in his hair, turning them silver as they twisted in his dark locks. It was rather ethereally lovely.
Unlike Jack's face. Which was scowling. Deeply.
James sighed, dropped his head back down on the pillow, winced a little as it made his head ache more than was necessary and made the bandages shift strangely across his brow. Closing his eyes, he spoke in a dry monotone, "Captain Sparrow. What a pleasure to see you. You realize that one does not normally come to call in the middle of the night?"
"Idiot." Was Jack's gruff answer.
James winced slightly. "...Nor does one come to visit with insults on his lips."
"Bloody. Twit." Jack ground out the words, stretching them out in angry frustration.
James heaved out another long breath, and slowly sat up once more, wincing a little. Jack's hand went out almost voluntarily, dark smudge-lined eyes widening with concern in one moment, then narrowing in that muted irritation once more. James met his gaze with a baleful stubbornness as he settled himself against the pillows carefully, and crossed his arms over his nightshirt covered chest, meeting Jack's gaze without flinching.
It would be quite the sight for any outsider; the famed pirate Captain perched on the end of the famed naval Commodore's bed, glowering at the bed's occupant, while the Commodore himself looked willfully back. However, sooner or later one side had to break down, and James simply wasn't in the condition to fight as long as he usually could and did. He put a hand to his bandaged brow, muttering, "For God's sake, Jack. It was only a flesh wound."
"A Flesh Wound To Yo'r Head!" Jack sputtered, waving his hands in the air frantically. It would have been a great deal more dramatic had not when he lifted his hands up to gesture, he had not let go of the bed-frame itself and fell abruptly backwards in his agitation.
There was a long pause.
Then a sarcastic Commodorial comment of, "Like the one you are currently suffering from?"
In return, there was a piratical grunt.
Another moment passed, until Jack's hands, decorated with many rings, wrapped around the end of the bed-frame. With a heave that made the entire bed creak, Jack pulled himself up and over the frame, rolling over with a groan on the foot of James's bed. He cracked open one dark eye, glowering, "It's not the bloody same. I just had m'senses a bit walloped about. You nearly had your damned fool head shot off."
"Well, it was in the middle of a battle, Jack." James said with a wry smile, even as he opened his arms to the other man. "I could hardly be asked to duck out of the way and pull my hat over my ears to protect myself. I'm an officer."
Jack harrumphed, eyeing James's unspoken invitation, before crossing his arms over his chest, his bottom lip poking out in an absolute and total pout. "Don't care. You're the Commodore. You're not supposed t'be runnin' in, head first, waiting for it to get it all shot at and bloody."
"I see. And this in no way detracts from the fact that you do the same every single time you go into battle?" James answered, opening his arms a bit wider.
"That's different! I'm a Pirate! A known Mad Pirate! People expect me t'do insensible things!" Jack grumbled, glowering at James once more, before rolling over on the soft velveteen sheets and crawling his way up the large bed to straddle James's lap. He ignored the warm arms going around him as he started prodding at the thick bandage wrapped around James's newly shorn head.
James winced, giving Jack a bit of a glare. "You realize that hurts, yes? Even if the shot just grazed my scalp."
"Shush." Jack commanded, and James sat back, watching the other man's features smooth out to complete concentration. A warm, faint glow passed through the Commodore's chest as he thought of it, for truly how rare was it to have Jack Sparrow's undivided attention to oneself. There was always another treasure, another pretty lass or lad, another horizon.
Right here, right now, it was only them.
Jack's fingers trailed off to James's scalp, running rough hands over the shorn, dark locks, barely more than an inch. He smiled his golden smile, playing with them. "Soft as a kitten."
"Pshaw." James grumbled, even though he allowed himself to be petted. "At least my wig won't be so damnably hot for awhile."
Jack curled up next to him, lazily kicking off his boots to the side. "And just as grumpy as one. Should I bat a ball of yarn at you? Perh'ps you'll be less likely to run off into trouble if I come back more often t'play with you."
In answer, James's fingers tapped one of the ornaments in Jack's hair, with a sly little smile. "Well, I must admit you're always an entertaining playmate." Off of the knowing smirk of a lewd pirate, James continued, "But it won't make a difference, Jack. You know who I am. You know where my duties lie."
Jack fidgeted, twirling one of the long white laces of James's nightshirts around his finger, "Aye, I know it. I jest wish they weren't always in front of the firin' line though, love. You need to take a care."
"As you always do." James intoned with no little irony in his sea-green eyes, bringing his hand down to cup Jack's chin, making him look at him.
Jack's eyes narrowed slightly, as he tried to tilt his chin enough to bite down on those tickling fingers, "Yer not allowed t'die, you know. Not before me."
"Is that so." James smirked, wiggling his fingers in front of Jack's nose, surprised when Jack's hand swept up and clasped his tightly.
"Yes. That's so." Jack said fiercely, staring at James's chest while his fingers gripped. "I'm not strong enough, Jamie. I lost m'ship and I went mad. What happens when I lose you?"
James's mouth worked for a moment, helpless as he was before this emotional honesty, before he turned his eyes up and towards the window. His voice was rough around the edges, "It will be no easier for me, when I hear of the day the captain of the Black Pearl ran out of luck, and met up with a noose he couldn't escape."
Silence reigned, as Jack's grip tightened, as he pressed his face against James's neck. James's eyes closed, and his arms pulled the other man just a little closer, to feel the warm, deliberately slowed breath on his skin. His head ached and the rest of his body was sluggish, but he wasn't releasing the warm body that clung so tightly to his own.
"I caught you..." He found himself whispering into Jack's ear, lips brushing against the curve of it. "And no matter what, I am never letting go."
Jack swallowed, his husky whisper tickling James's neck. "We could jest live forever. The both of us. Solve all our problems."
"Eternity with you..." James stroked Jack's back, memorizing the feel of rough linen and Jack's form with his fingertips. "Oh Jack, you know that's not possible."
Jack's head lifted, dark eyes fixing on green ones, his mouth moving into a tired amused smile, "Are you backing out on our engagement, Commodore?"
James blinked, once. Twice. Then his mouth twisted upwards at the very corners. "I never break my word, Pirate."
"Very well then. I'll be considerin' when to set the date for the weddin'. Don't want you gettin' any second thoughts." Jack pushed down the covers, and curled his small lithe body against James's taller one.
There was a moment of quiet, as James carefully slide down to make himself more comfortable in Jack's firm grip, smiling a little as lips pressed against his bandaged brow. "You do realize what marriage is, don't you? A long standing contract between two people that you cannot get out of, Jack Sparrow."
"Aye, I know it, James Norrington." Jack's mouth roved over the other man's cheeks and down the sides of his narrow face. "But I'm only askin' for the both of us t'be faithful to a couple of the tenants, mind. Monogamy is somethin' I've never had the talent for, and God knows ye will never obey me."
"Indubitably." James's lips brushed against bristled cheeks, light and warm kisses that teased further intimacies from Jack's roaming fingers across the Commodore's stomach. "Which ones will be required, then?"
"Cherishin', lovin'." One of Jack's hands moved to cup James's cheek, to draw them closer together. James could see the sadness in those eyes, and yet the determination of that expression. "... 'Til death doth part us."
James exhaled softly, nodding his head in quiet understanding. They would go on. Eternity or no, they would go on. He whispered, leaning into the stroking touch of the pirate who loved him, who he loved, despite both of their better judgments. "Til death, then."
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