Word Count: 880
Rating: PG-13, to be safe
Summary: James wonders why Jack's being nice to him. A direct sequel to Sweet and Twisted.
Disclaimer: They belong to The Mouse. I am not a mouse. I do not own them.
Spoilers: Incredibly vague spoilers for DMC.
Warnings: Can't think of anything.
Special Thanks: To witchbabyweetz for the beta.
"Here y'go. Dinner is served." Jack slid a plate of food in front of James, who stared at the unappetizingly grey salted meat.
"Jack, why are you treating me like this?"
"Like what?" Jack sat down and crossed one leg over the other.
"Well, kindly. You could have kept me locked in the brig. Instead you brought me to your cabin and treated my wounds." James felt a shiver run up his spine at the memory of that treatment. "You gave me... somewhat clean clothes. Now you're feeding me, probably more than I deserve, and giving me your rum."
"You have a good point there, James." Jack nodded sagely. "There are, in fact, three reasons I'm treating you nice. First, you are a good man, and one who can do what he feels is necessary. I can't disrespect that, mate." Jack grinned, showing gold teeth.
"Fair enough. Go on, what's the second reason?"
"Second, I already said you're a fine-looking man, and I can't stand to see such a fine man as yourself being wasted in the brig of me ship, aye?"
James nodded slowly, Jack's appreciation of his appearance not being a topic he wished to dwell on.
"Third and last, I want you to have something it's possible to lose." Jack's hands rested on the table, absolutely still.
"Excuse me? I don't understand."
"One of the most important lessons I ever learned, James, was that there is nothing more dangerous than a man who has lost everything.
"Seemed to me that after having been caught by my crew, beaten, and locked in the brig trussed from head to foot like you were some kind of wild animal, you fit the description of having lost everything fairly well. Not to mention the not-so-small matters of, oh, Elizabeth and your comission, eh, James?" Jack leaned forward, his elbows on the table. "Therefore I have put you in a situation where you haven't lost everything: you have my favour, and my favour can be as unshaking as Davy Jones' love for his lady, or it can be as fickle as the breeze. As long as you know this, and as long as you have something to hold on to that provides you with some measure of security, however unpredictable that security may be, I can trust that you will not try to lose it. Savvy?"
"What if I don't want your favour, Captain Sparrow?"
"Oh, but you do, dear James, you do. I'll tell you why. If you lose my favour, you are then surrounded by an entire crew of godless pirates with nobody standing between you and them. Pirates, I might add, who are already quite angry with you for stealing away their dear old Captain's chance at life when it was most needed."
"I suppose you are right." James sighed, and once again contemplated the gray meat.
Jack only smiled, gold glinting in the dim light.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
James pushed away the empty plate at last, having found the meat edible, if not pleasant.
"How're your bruises, James?" asked Jack gently.
"Better, but still painful," James admitted.
"More of that salve will do wonders," Jack murmured.
"Are you going to feed me more of that... that potion?"
"You shouldn't need it," Jack replied, waving a hand dismissively. "Last time I gave it to you because you could hardly move for all the bruises, and I didn't want to hurt you more than I had to. Pirate I may be, but I don't enjoy the pain of men who don't deserve it. Why, do you want any?" Jack leered slightly; obviously he knew exactly what the horrid stuff did to the senses, though James' memories were rather vague.
"No. Certainly not."
"All right. Just the salve, then. You'll have to undress again, it not working through cloth and all that." Jack waved his hands in a hurrying motion.
"I can put it on myself, and you do not need to be present," James exclaimed indignantly.
"You can't put it on your own back, not properly, and that's where you got beaten worst. Besides, this is my cabin! I have a perfect right to stay here. Unless you'd rather return to the brig. Nasty damp place, with nowhere for you to sit comfortably. Also no walls to protect you from my crew, and no Captain Jack to keep angry pirates away. Your choice, mate."
James decided that, on balance, it was easier to bear stripping in front of Jack than to suffer another of Jack's little monologues twisting logic to suit his own purposes. He removed his shirt and breeches as quickly as possible.
"There. Are you happy?" James realised too late he shouldn't have given Jack such a perfect opening to taunt him; but the taunt never came.
"Please, sit." Jack made a grand, sweeping gesture towards the bed.
James sat, and as Jack spread the salve over his body and worked the soothing stuff into aching muscles, he wondered if he shouldn't be so trusting. True, Jack had sworn not to harm him, and what an odd promise that had been! But despite the gentleness of Jack's hands and the kindness of his actions, James could not stop his suspicion. After all, a pirate was a pirate.