Author: kHo (email@example.com)
Summary: He'd never learned to read much beyond a map. People, though, there weren't many out there who could read people better than Jack Sparrow. That, combined with an almost unnatural quickness, is what made him a good pirate.
Series: On High Seas, pt 3
If you're nothing else, you have to be clever and you have to be quick. Cleverness can get you out of most debacles faster and safer than any amount of training. He had never been the studious type. He'd never learned to read much beyond a map. People, though, there weren't many out there who could read people better than Jack Sparrow. That, combined with an almost unnatural quickness, is what made him a good pirate.
He might have mumbled a little too much, and he might stumble over his own feet on more than one occasion, but even those were things he'd learned to use to his own advantage. He learned very quickly that if you seemed to know what you were talking about, people's short attention spans would let you pass on that alone. That if he mumbled quickly enough, and with enough confidence in his posture, people would frown in confusion but mostly would let him by.
The most important thing to take note of on a person was his eyes. Most people would say hands, but if the hands sat on the table, palm down, chances were Jack would have more than enough time to grab his sword before his opponent. It's the eyes that give everything away, and most likely long before any actions were taken. Something as simple as a flick of the eye to the right and he knew they were lying.
There's something even more reliable, but less obvious, that Jack relied on when assessing someone's demeanor. There's a certain glint that the unreliable have to their eyes. A rapidness in movement, an inability to meet your eyes, a squinting of the eyes. Sometimes Jack knew ten minutes before his opponent reached for their sword that they would be. By the time the adversary had laid one finger on the handle to his sword, Jack's would be to their throat, glinting in the light.
He also learned very early on that there were no advantages to fighting fairly. Nine times out of ten the other guy wouldn't, so really it all boiled down to who went the route of the unfair quicker. He used his eyes quicker than anything else, and stockpiled the surroundings into his brain almost as soon as he walked in a door. You never knew when things are going to go south, or how quickly, and it was useful to know that if need be he could take two steps back and grab the candle holder on the edge of the bar.
This extended to outside the fighting arena as well, though. He knew the instant that Anamaria and Gibbs relationship went from crewmembers to lovers. He could tell by the way Gibbs would smile at her even when her back was turned, or by the way Anamaria would cast an eye at Gibbs between pulling the sails down and anchoring the boat. He knew that Cotton wasn't comfortable with he and Will's relationship by the way he could never meet Jack's eyes when Will was by his side. He knew where Will's mind was when he would sit at the bow and stare into the ocean.
His posture, the expression on his face, but mostly the sadness in his eyes told Jack that Will still had Elizabeth in his heart. He never brought it up to Jack, and Jack never felt the need to confront him. The crux of having such an accurate barometer for other people's inner thoughts is that more often then not you were able to read things you probably don't want to.
Mostly it didn't bother him. He'd know ahead of time that Will wouldn't forget Elizabeth when his feet touched the Pearl again. He was too smart to think that he would replace the part of Will's heart that Elizabeth had occupied. Elizabeth had been there long before Jack had shown up, and chances were the parts they occupied weren't even in close proximity. He also knew that Will's feelings for him weren't lessened by his lingering feelings for Elizabeth.
He still felt a rise of jealousy sometimes, though. A clenching in his chest that made him want to grab Will and shake the longing for Elizabeth out of him. The words 'forget her, love... I'm here' would stick to the back of his throat when he'd see Will looking out into the abyss with that look in his eyes. More often than not, though, by the time he'd worked himself up enough to say anything, Will's eyes would turn to his once more and his fears would be assuaged by the return of 'his' Will.
It was never anger he felt though. He didn't fault Will for his lingering feelings. In fact, he might have been slightly disappointed should Will's feelings for Elizabeth have abated so quickly. Love never really dies, after all, even if the ability to share in it has. Elizabeth hadn't died, she hadn't even voiced a wish to end her and Will's courtship, she'd just simply faded herself from Will's life. Jack had a suspicion it was more to do with herself than with Will, but he couldn't be sure, and neither could Will.
When they pulled into port in London, Will was quieter than usual, but didn't question. The fact that this was strategic probably didn't even cross Will's mind, and Jack never even tried to hint at him that it was. There was much debauchery to be had in London, and there was no reason to think Jack had any motive other than solid land to sleep on for once and a good tavern or two to satisfy those that didn't have regular opportunity to fulfill their sexual needs.
"You ought to see where they're at, give 'em a visit," Jack said the evening after they arrived as he flopped onto the bed.
"Who," Will asked distractedly, going about the room and lighting a few candles before the room was completely black.
Jack lifted his hat from his eyes, peering at Will. "Elizabeth," he said in a bored tone. "London right? We're here, she's here... makes sense, love." He hated the look of betrayal that passed over Will's face as he realized Jack's motive for docking in London. The hat obscured his eyes from Will's vision, but it didn't hide Will's face from him. He lifted his head to prop into his crooked arm, crossing a leg over the other. "Go on, then."
"I have no inclination to find Elizabeth," Will said, his voice taught with anger and not just a little bit of pain. "Elizabeth is out of my..."
"Aye," Jack said, nodding his head and smiling. "Out of your life. So you've said, love."
"She is," Will said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I have no need to see her."
"Are you believing that? 'Cause I'm not," Jack said, laughing slightly. "Should work on your poker face, Will."
"I've no need," Will said again, sitting on the bed and turning away from Jack to take off his shoes.
"Right," Jack said, swinging his legs over the bed to the floor, his boots clanking loudly on the wooden floor. "S'up to me to find her, then."
Will turned to look at him. "You really think I want to see her," he asked softly, his voice sounding betrayed.
Jack shrugged, a hand coming up to shove the hat further on his head, knowing if Will looked in his eyes he'd be giving away more than he wanted to. "Need, love, not want."
Will looked at him a moment longer, pausing before turning around again and pulling his shoes back on. "Why is that," he asked, finally facing him as he stood. "Why do I need to see her, Jack?"
Jack managed a slight smile that faded before it even began. "You love her, mate."
"I love *you*, Jack," Will said, shaking his head. "She's part of my past..."
"An' your present, an' your future, an' your forever," Jack said, nodding even as Will began to protest. "An' if you don't know it, then I know you a might better than you know yourself."
Will took a deep breath, his eyes darting around the room. "I thought we were stopping for supplies," he muttered, shaking his head at himself with a rueful smile. "Forgot who you were for a minute there."
"That ya did, mate," Jack said, stepping backwards three short steps to the door. "Shall we go together, or do you prefer it alone?"
Will bent his head, scratching at the back of his neck. "You're wrong," he said quietly. "I've stopped loving her."
Jack nodded, looking away from Will as he opened the door. "Together then."
Will grabbed his coat, shrugging it on in a manner that was much slower than usual. "Don't know where to look," he said softly, walking towards the door that Jack held open for him.
"Start with the letters, love," Jack said, nodding at Will's bag. "The ones you've kept with you."
Will's eyes flicked guiltily towards his satchel, his fingers pinching his lips together before he bent over to grab one out of the side. "Rifling through my belongings, now," he asked, trying to smile even as he found it hard to meet Jack's eyes.
"Actually," Jack said, smiling at him and stepping out of the doorway. "Just wagered a guess on that one... never knew I was right till just now, as a matter of fact."
They walked in silence most of the way, Jack ambling down the street in typical carefree fashion, fingers tapping lightly on his sheathed sword around those that looked like they might like to find out if they had money to spare. They reached the address Elizabeth had resided at last just after 8 in the evening, and Jack looked to Will with a raised eyebrow. When he made no move to knock, Jack raised his ring-clad hand and delivered a jaunty knock on the hard wood, grinning at Will's panicked expression.
The young maid answered the door with a startled expression, drawing her overcoat tight to her chest as she looked warily at Jack. "Yes," she asked. "May I help you?"
"Elizabeth Swann, love," Jack said, bowing gallantly and grinning up at her with a tip of the hat. "Will Turner calling."
"Will," the maid breathed, her eyes flickering to Jack's side finally as realization dawned on her. "Ah," she said, nodding slowly and backing up slightly. "You best wait 'round back then," she said, closing the door halfway with a furtive look around herself. "Governor Swann's resting at home tonight."
"Right, love," Jack said, placing his hat back on his head and smiling again at her. "Round back, then."
Jack began to walk around back but was pulled back by Will's sudden grasp on his arm. "I don't want to do this," he hissed, glaring at Jack. "I can't."
"Why's that," Jack said, raising an eyebrow at him. "She's your past, love... she means nothing to you, you said so yourself. No longer a long lost love, aye?"
"Jack, don't make me," Will pleaded, his eyes filled with a real fear.
Jack ran his eyes down Will's body, the ball of doubt and something akin to fear tightening in his own stomach. "Something you have to do, love," he said despite it, resting a hand on Will's shoulder. "Something you need."
"I can't," Will said, shaking his head.
"You can love," Jack said, his ears perking up as he heard a door bang shut in the near distance. "And you will," he finished, backing up as Elizabeth rounded the corner quickly. He turned and watched as Elizabeth stuttered to a stop in front of him, her face frozen in a mixture of pain and hope. "Evenin' Miss. Swann," he said, tipping his hat to her.
"Jack," she breathed, her eyes flickering past him to Will.
Jack twirled around to peer at Will, whose eyes were positively transfixed on Elizabeth. "You know where the ship's at, love," he called out, waving a goodbye to him. "Goodnight, Miss Swann," he said to Elizabeth, turning quickly on his heel and walking briskly down the dark road again.
By the time dawn arrived, Jack had given up on any sleep that night. He sat on the bed with a map in his lap, trying to ignore the urge to find Will and drag him back to him. He told himself he'd expected this, he'd told himself that the day he'd decided a month back that London would be their next major stop. He fought the anger threatening to take him over by drinking what was left of his Rum and planning their voyage months in the future. He congratulated himself on not demoting Gibbs to second mate and giving first mate to Will.
So when the door opened as the day's break came into stark relief he was nothing if not shocked. He looked at Will with wide eyes that he forgot to hide. "You came back," he said without thinking, blinking dumbly at him.
"Thought you knew me better than I knew myself," Will said, smiling softly at him and shutting the door behind him.
"Aye," Jack said, nodding and lowering the map to the bed beside him. "S'why I'm surprised, love."
"I still love her," Will said softly, walking over to the bed and perching on the end of it.
Jack smiled, nodding. "So not back for long then," he said, feeling almost relieved that he hadn't misjudged the situation, no matter how much that hurt. "Came to say good bye."
"No," Will said, laughing slightly. "Did that once tonight, don't aim to do it again."
Jack licked his lips, anger flaring as he felt hope rise in his chest. Hope was a cursed emotion in Jack's book. Hope led to nothing but heartache, and heartache was something he'd sworn to himself wouldn't happen again. Then, that was before he met Will. Will, who made the Captain go back on a thousand self-taken oaths. "To whom," he asked, squinting at Will suspiciously.
"You were right," Will said, leaning back against the bedpost and crossing his arms. "Seeing Elizabeth again was something I'd feared for a long time. Something I swore to myself I never wanted to do." He smiled, catching Jack's eyes. "Something, though, that you knew I needed to do anyway."
"Always said I knew you better than you knew yourself, love," Jack said quietly, still studying Will's every move. He waited for the 'but,' or any sort of explanation, and didn't find one forthcoming. "Come on, mate... what happened?"
"Norrington told her I'd left," he said, watching Jack closely. "Seems he got a message from someone... signed 'Black Pearl' of all things. Imagine that," Will said, smiling widely. "A ship, writing a letter to a Commodore."
"No letter, love," Jack said, shrugging and looking down at his hands as he began to claw at the dirt beneath his nails. "More of a note, really."
"Why," Will asked, his voice full of wonderment. "Why the note to Norrington? Why the trip to London?"
Jack shrugged, lifting his head slightly. "No good to run away, Will," he said. "Solves nothing really. Postpones, maybe... doesn't solve."
"What did it say," Will asked, smiling softly still.
"What did what say," Jack asked, frowning.
"Norrington's note," Will answered with a tone that chastised Jack for his intentional obtuseness.
"Said you were home, love," Jack said, shrugging. "Said you were on the high seas, like your father before you, and you were safe."
"Why," Will asked, shaking his head.
Jack sighed, dropping his hands to his sides. "Because I knew that 'Lizabeth would get word eventually that you were gone... an' I knew that when she did, she'd want to know where you'd run off to."
"And you knew," Will said, cocking his head to the side. "That if she knew I was with you, she wouldn't worry."
"Aye," Jack said, nodding. "Got enough worry, I reckon."
"And narry a word to me," Will said with bewilderment. "Notes, plans, secret agendas... and nothing said to me."
Jack smiled. "An' if I had?"
"I would have been mad," Will said, smiling. "And rightly so."
"Sure, mate," Jack said. "But I still would have been right."
"That you would," Will said, reaching out to grab Jack's hand. "Cleverness, Jack... always been your strong suit. Next to skullduggery, anyway."
"Serves me most of the time, love," Jack said.
"Most of the time," Will echoed, searching Jack's face.
"And this time, Will?" He licked his lips as he finally allowed Will an accurate look at his eyes. "This time how does it serve me?"
"Serves you well," Will said, leaning forward and kissing Jack lightly on the forehead. "That is... if you'll still have me on board."
Jack allowed himself a small smile as he leaned back against the wall behind the bed before returning his expression to one of nonchalance. "Don't know, love," he said, raising an eyebrow. "Depends on what you bring to the table."
"Love," Will said softly.
"Love," Jack echoed, raising his eyebrow further.
"And," Will said, his eyebrow quirking up as a nearly uncanny reflection of Jack's. "Swordsmanship not to be topped."
Jack's mouth finally quirked up in a grin more like his usual as he leaned forward. "Now there's the makin's of a fine pirate."
"Thank you," Will said softly, smiling more affectionately at Jack than Jack usually allowed him to. "For..."
Jack didn't let him finish, leaning forward and pulling on Will's hand until Will landed somewhat on top of him. "Welcome, love," he whispered, kissing Will softly and lingeringly before pulling back. "Bit selfishly though... more for me than you."
"Just the same," Will said, smiling at him and reaching down to throw the map off the bed and working his fingers into Jack's drawstrings on his pants. "Thank you."
"I can think of a few ways for you to properly thank me," Jack said with a scandalous smile, lacing his fingers into Will's hair and tightening his grip slightly. "Might take a while though..."
"Got a while," Will said into his chest, his tongue darting out to lick at the dip in his abdomen. "Got a lifetime of while's."
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