Pairing/Characters: Norrington, bit of Jack, mention of Elizabeth
Word Count: approx. 1,260
Genre: Angst, general
Summary: Challenge #9 = "There is nothing more dangerous than a man who has lost everything" -- Norrington comes to a conclusion and decides where his loyalties lie.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize. Like duh.
Spoilers: Through DMC
Warnings: The sexiness of Scruffington may be too much for pregnant women or people with heart conditions. ;)
Notes: This changed on me so many times, so I hope it still makes sense. My muse occasionally just leads me around by the nose and I have no choice but to follow. Continuation of Ball and Chain.
Special Thanks: To scifiroots who kindly beta'd this story. She rocks in so many ways! Also: thanks to everyone whose fics I've been reading lately; the juices are flowing, so to speak, and I can't stop thinking about this 'verse! If you recognize any ideas or characterizations in this piece or any of my others, please just be flattered and don't think I'm stealing your stuff. More likely that not, I'm doing it unconsciously, and if I am indeed taking off from someone else's story or ideas, I will do my best to give them credit.
"There was a time when I would've given anything for you to look like that while thinking about me," he'd told her. She laughed it off, refusing to see herself what was so obvious to the rest of the crew--hell, to anyone who watched her and Sparrow together--but though the sun had been in his eyes he could see his words struck home. Her shoulders drooped slightly and she wouldn't look at him for long, pushing off the railing soon after to tend to other things, to hide.
What he'd said was true, too. He had convinced himself, once, that he was in love with her. "A fine woman," he'd called her; it seemed a century ago. And a fine woman she was, that was sure: confident, beautiful, charming. But also, he would find out, manipulative, crafty, loud, brash, and boyish.
Yet he still couldn't make himself forget her. Those endless days and nights in the sea after the hurricane, clinging to what had once been part of his cabin door, he'd thought of nothing but Elizabeth and how, really, this was all her fault. If he never believed he loved her, he wouldn't have become so obsessed with catching the pirate who took her away from him. It wouldn't have mattered when she ran off with that blacksmith, taking half his heart with her. There would've been no need to be a gentleman, to step back and put her happiness first. He could have run Sparrow and Turner both through with his shining new sword, a symbol of his title, a title now stripped from him. And he wouldn't be here on this bloody ship taking orders from the very man he'd wished dead for so long.
There were whores in Tortuga, when he finally washed up there, an abundance of them. But no matter how golden-brown their hair or how small and pale and wide-eyed they were, none of them stood up to the memory of Elizabeth Swann. There were brawls and fights, too, yet the sting of a dozen blades and a near-hit with a musket were unable to dull the pain of missing her. All the rum in the world would not equate to the sunset ocean of her eyes, though he surely did try and make it so.
He was drunk. Again. The deck was as clean as it was going to be, what with filthy pirates striding up and down the very spot he'd just washed, their boots leaving flecks of dried mud and who knew what else, so he had returned to his bottle. It was habit by now, and not one he could or would break any time soon. The sun was almost down, a blinding orb nestling into the ocean. Setting his bottle on a barrel, James staggered over to the railing and leaned against it, squinting off into the distance. Beneath the dirt and grime his naturally pale skin was beginning to burn. The bridge of his nose and the tops of his cheekbones were blurring to red; if he carried on like this much longer he'd be as brown as that swaggering ponce of a pirate who called himself Captain of this twice-cursed ship.
He reached inside the neck of his shirt, wincing when his fingers brushed over a particularly painful bruise on his ribs from the brawl the other night, and drew out a small gold locket. He'd bartered the chain for drink some time ago so it now hung on a piece of leather cording, long enough to keep the locket hidden within his shirt. Inside was an exquisite miniature of Miss Elizabeth Swann. She was in blue silk and brocade, her spine straight, chin in the air. Her honey-coloured eyes, barely the size of mustard seeds, stared up at him defiantly as they always had. A gift from the man who had been going to be his father-in-law, a secret slipped to him along with the sword the day he'd been made Commodore James Norrington.
The miniature differed so much from the fiery young woman he now slept mere feet from in his hammock below deck at night. The Elizabeth he knew now was dirty, bedraggled, windblown, sunburned, dressed in man's clothing and more bloody-minded and antagonistic than ever. Yes, he'd been drunk last night when she'd pressed her soft yet unyielding lips to his, and yes he was half-drunk now, but good God, he could still taste her! He remembered their first meeting so many years ago, when she'd been just a chit of a girl singing pirate songs under her breath on the crossing to new land, annoying the ever living loving out of his crew with her endless questions. All the suppers at the Governor's mansion. The balls, the dances. The smug, teasing looks from across the room, behind a fan. The same look directed to a number of other officers, simply because she could. It was the only power she'd had back then, but here, on this ship, surrounded by men--pirates at that--she had all the power and freedom in the world.
And she was still going to waste it on that clueless boy blacksmith, despite her obvious (if quite questionable) feelings for Captain Sparrow, and despite her long history with James himself. Despite the fact that she'd kissed him so passionately last night, all the pent-up frustration of the past weeks (months? the wedding plans had surely gone on for some time, and she seemed to have been looking forward to the wedding night more than the ceremony itself) pouring out through her lips into his. Despite the fact that no one had ever kissed him like that in his entire life and he wished almost more than anything that she'd truly meant it.
But she was lost to him. She had used him yet again. He could still smell the sea salt in her hair, taste the freshness of her tongue, feel her chapped lips pressing into his own. But she. Had. Used. Him. And regardless of whether or not she married Turner, whether or not anything came of the oddity between her and Sparrow, whether or not she was caught and arrested and hung... she meant nothing to him anymore. He wouldn't let her. He was looking out for James Norrington alone now, no matter what, because James Norrington was the only person he could depend upon.
Ever meticulous even in his disarray, he lifted the cord over his head, tugging it free of the tangled hair at the back of his neck, then picked the knot open with weather-worn fingers. The locket slipped off to fall heavily into his palm. He gazed at it only a second before hurling it, still open, as hard and as far as he could into the heaving waves. Then he coiled the cord, put it in his pocket, and turned to pick up his bottle.
"Right silly thing to do," Captain Sparrow slurred from a foot away.
James only just kept himself from springing back. "I really think it's none of your business," he replied haughtily, sidestepping the man to get to his rum.
"If you say so," Jack said, wrinkling his nose. "Didn' I tell you to take a bath?"
"That you did," James called, still walking away, bottle in hand.
Jack shook his head and wondered what that bit of shiny was that the former Commodore had just hurled away as if his life depended on it. He thought he had a pretty good idea, though. He would have to keep a sharp eye on this new crewmember, especially now that he seemed to have regained his former spirit.