Author: Laura H
Rating: M (for sexual imagery)
Characters/Pairing: Jack, Barbossa, Implied Jack/Elizabeth
Disclaimer: Disney broke 'em, so I'm keeping 'em.
Author's note: Just when I thought my days of writing for hot pirates were over, djarum99 and cmgacrux create a new community with a fabulous opening prompt. This was the result. Written for hseas_challenge.
“You brought her.” Seated on a dune, Jack watches the water, a dead ocean hiding behind diamante shine. The others are gathered further up the beach, save for the shadow that falls across him, blotting out the sun.
“Tia Dalma?” Barbossa tosses the question like a taunt, but Jack swings him a look; the yellowed-eyed smirk tells Jack he knows what’s what.
He turns back to the sea. “Not playing that game.” Hands flutter to his face, but in the absence of a bottle neck, restless fingers are left to dangle; they make do with a swipe over beard and moustache. “Shouldn’t have brought her here.”
Barbossa shrugs. “She asked the way.” He kicks the sand and squats down, a strange companion in a strange hour. “Didn’t realise she was Jack Sparrow’s very own Delilah.” He says this last with relish, as if savouring the notion that Jack’s doom had taken such a form.
“Wasn’t nearly so biblical, mate. And me locks are very much intact, as you can see.”
“Ah, but what about the rest of you?” Barbossa’s grin is more knowing than Jack would prefer. His fingers flutter again, a restless tattoo on the ball of his palm; he longs for cool glass and a hot rum burn.
“I’m here, ain’t I?” Barbossa says nothing, so Jack glowers and turns away. He can hear her voice and doesn’t know if it’s real this time or just another echo in his head.
After a moment, he nods at the dark beauty offshore, his companion through purgatory. Figures swarmed over her lines and yards, each face blessedly unique, preparing the Pearl for her rise from perdition. “She’ll be ready soon.”
“Aye, that she will. Ready to take you back.”
Jack’s belly clenches at that, like a rope wrapped round and pulled taut.
The Locker is big; a white madness with snatching jaws of callous sand and pitiless sun. Its bleached glare caught him and stripped him raw, cut him apart slice by slice. He doesn’t know what he is now. Doesn’t know if the world has a place for him anymore.
“So, Jack, what did you see?” Barbossa’s eyes slide over his shoulder, towards the crest of the dune. “Back there? What lies there?”
You don’t want to know, you don’t want to know…
“Nothing worth mentioning, mate.” He doesn’t want to speak of how the emptiness mocked him, how it offered a glimpse of his own truth. This is what you are, it said, a lecher, a buffoon. This mask you created? There is no one beneath it. You have nothing within.
“Nothing you intend on mentioning anyway.” Shrewd and calculating, if Barbossa sees his heart, Jack knows it will be the end of him. So he mentions nothing of the deck’s blinding heat, or the alluring cool of the Great Cabin, or of the many times he had stood at the door, wishing respite from the glare and the chatter of the fools at his back, but unable to enter. Because she was in there.
Sometimes she was dressed in breeches and weskit, sat at his table with slender fingers crawling across charts, teasing a path back to the world. More often she was undressed and draped on his bed, the Urbino goddess reclining, hand grazing soft curls in a tantalising pretence at modesty.
Come to me, Jack. Her whispers would drip like hot tallow. Come to me and touch me here.
But he could never enter the cabin, dark and welcoming like the maw of a beast, and instead his lust would be spent in a filthy corner of the Pearl’s deck.
“Jack?” Barbossa, still here, still waiting. “Is it all that they say?”
All that and nothing like it.
Jack hedges. “Daresay you’ve seen worse, wherever it was you were.”
But Barbossa shakes his head and says, almost to himself, “I don’t recall seeing anything.” He stares, blind, at the shimmer of water ahead, and suddenly Jack wants to break the man’s strange reverie and bring back the sly old shark, the mutineer, the stealer of ships. But they are both of them wraiths now, and will never again be as they once were.
“Enough of this,” he says, then stands and makes his way towards the empty long boat.
“The world awaits, Jack,” calls Barbossa from his place on the dune. “Think you know the way back?”
“I know the way, mate,” he replies. “One circle down, if you reach Cerberus you’ve gone too far.” Barbossa chuckles, but all Jack can hear is the gibbering of a hundred fools, and the beckoning murmurs of his own un-slaked lust. His sins though do not belong in the world, and he will not take those spectres with him.
Più non ti dico, e più non ti rispondo.
Sunlight never wanes here in the Locker; the night and stars are absent friends. Time, however, draws on all the same, and the Black Pearl’s sails snap and flutter, straining for following seas. Through perfidy and temptation they have made it thus far, his ship and he, and they will find the way back. The world, after all, awaits.
Più non ti dico, e più non ti rispondo. - I tell you no more, and I no longer answer you.