hi, i'm steph (gorthead) wrote in piratechallenge,
hi, i'm steph

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Challenge #1: Time and Tide

Title: Time and Tide
Author: gorthead
Pairing/Characters: Jack/Elizabeth; mentions of Will/Elizabeth + Jack/Giselle
Word Count: 3,322
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Part character study, part soft porn, part romance.
Summary: Jack and Elizabeth finally admit certain things to themselves and each other, allowing for a first time that has been a long time coming. (Not as cheesy as the summary makes it sound; I am just too verbose for my own good.)
Disclaimer: I used to own all these characters, but then I sold them to Disney, Bruckheimer, et al. in exchange for my silence re: you-know-what (and if you don’t, I’ve sworn not to speak).
Spoilers: Vague plot spoilers for Dead Man’s Chest.
Warnings: Some people have hot piratical sex in this story...that’s about it.
Notes: This becomes an AU storyline in DMC; it diverges after the "curiosity" scene. Rather than arrive at Isla Cruces right then, they are still a day (and a night) away.
Special Thanks: To supermeghan, really, for reading and squeeing and theorizing about J/E with me, and reassuring me that I could successfully write Jack Sparrow (he’s probably quite a bit smarter than I am, so this was a daunting task). Also, honestly, to the mods of this community; I could not have asked for better inspiration while on my Pirates high, and this was the perfect way to get back into fic-writing.

There were many things Elizabeth Swann would never admit to herself. The list was ever-evolving and had begun on her sixteenth birthday, with the realization – more of a self-admonishment, in truth – that she was no longer a child and continuing to harbour secret fantasies about pirates - the nature of which had also evolved significantly as she grew older - was foolish and ridiculous and all manner of other unflattering adjectives. She was old enough to know that the things she believed in – the romance, the freedom, the swashbuckling heroics and excitement of it all – were fabrications, that real pirates were uneducated, unhealthy, unattractive, and exceedingly violent without discrimination. Somehow, she must have realized that no one can escape their childhood dreams, not really, but she was too stubborn to allow this to apply to herself.

The second thing she would never admit to herself arrived in Port Royal one afternoon atop a sinking ship. As she lay soaked on the dock, finding herself curiously captivated by the water caught in his lashes, realizing she had never been so close to one person for so long, she knew, but would not say, that her difficulty breathing was unquestionably not a lingering effect of her corset, nor was it due to the time spent underwater. It was over before it began, though, and she chose to entirely ignore the small but annoyingly persistent pangs of regret which nudged at her throughout the rest of the evening. Pirates belonged in jail, pirates deserved to be hanged, and she knew this. She also knew she would refuse to attend the upcoming hanging of Captain Jack Sparrow for reasons she had yet to discern; she would never see, speak to, or think of him again.

Months later, standing atop Fort Charles, she had this very same thought, though rather more melancholy than adamant.

She succeeded spectacularly at this particular resolution – that is, until the sun set a certain way and she was transported back to the island and the rum and his slurred "You’re very pretty" which infuriated and intrigued her all at once, or until the next public hanging was announced and she realized she had been more relieved when he had escaped than when Will had arrived to rescue her. These were all things she quashed immediately and later denied ever having thought.

The list of things she could not (would not) allow herself to think about was quite nearly longer than the list of things she could, and, as determined as she was, Elizabeth was never good at following rules.

Despite it all, she still loved Will. He was an escape from the confusion which clearly did not exist, as she was not allowed to think about it. He would never hurt her or betray her. He was safe. She could not bring herself to say that she had never wanted safety. She had first fallen in love because "safe" was exactly what Will appeared not to be – a blacksmith (good with a sword), an orphan, beneath her in wealth and class, and someone of whom her father would surely not approve – but he had somehow become the most secure person in her life and she felt she was back where she had started, more conflicted than before.

She did, of course, know that marrying Will was right. It was perfect. The more time passed, the more her memories would fade, taking Captain Jack Sparrow with them, until he, too, became one of her childhood fantasies. She came close, too.

Beckett spoke and she heard Jack’s name for the first time in nearly a year; her heart leapt, but she held it down. She couldn’t stand the effect he had on her – he still had on her. Later, Beckett spoke aloud her private thoughts and released them to the world (had fate been trying to tell her what she already knew?) where it was much more difficult to escape. She had never felt guiltier. What had begun as a virtual nonentity – a stray thought or desire destined to wander her mind, never finding release – had become a secret she unwittingly shared with everyone (was she so obvious?). Pretending her thoughts didn’t exist was much simpler than hearing them aloud and denying denying denying.

Coming from Jack, it was nigh impossible; he could see right through her and she knew it perfectly well. She also knew she wasn’t curious – she didn’t want to test the waters, as it were, to see if she might be interested – she was certain, (as was he, though he was just as loath to admit it). There would be no turning back.

They had orbited each other since their first meeting, alternately repelling and attracting, positive and negative both at once, and, inevitably, when tension builds up, when the spinning accelerates to immeasurable levels, there must always be an explosion of epic proportions. The only reason it had not yet happened was that there were also many things Jack Sparrow would never admit to himself.

He had never been one for limits of any kind, least of which self-imposed ones, not until one night in a long string of perfectly identical nights in Tortuga. It was a split-second glimpse out of the corner of his eye, the curve of a cheek and a shoulder prompting a double-take which revealed not Elizabeth, but just another wench, hand on hip, staring expectantly at anyone who glanced her way. Jerking his head back around, bewildered and heart beating at an unfamiliar rate, one usually reserved for particularly intense battles, he decided for the first time in his life that he must have had too much rum.

Three days later, his compass stopped working. He knew why, but was certain there was a different explanation, a better one. Jack Sparrow did not have feelings for anyone; he did not fall in love; he did what he pleased, whenever he pleased, without second thought of the consequences for anyone else; and he did not find himself thinking about the governor of Port Royal's daughter more than he truly should.

Those times he did think of her – not often, not often at all, he insisted – he knew he had only himself to blame. "It could never have worked between us, darling" – a passing comment, a quip, nothing to be taken seriously, and nothing he took seriously, but it had planted the possibility of something: could it have? "It could...no, of course it couldn't...it might have..." It was all silliness, it would pass – he was Captain Jack Sparrow! He didn't have conflicted thoughts; he was certain of everything! – but as he entered Giselle he couldn't help imagining it was someone else. He would deny it in the morning.

The compass persisted in its wild, back-and-forth, confused motions, a tangible illustration of the conflict ravaging his mind (when he wasntt suppressing it) and his heart (though he would never admit to having one). The crew noticed, began to grow suspicious and questioning, and Jack was reminded ominously of the mutiny over ten years previously – only Gibbs began to suspect, had known the captain long enough to see the subtle changes, but would never voice his suspicions.

Will mentioned Elizabeth – she was in trouble and she needed him, specifically, to get her out of it (never mind he had gotten her into it to begin with) – and it was the first time he'd heard her name in nearly a year. For a heartbeat, he wanted to forget all about his debt to Davy Jones and the kraken and the black spot and the miles and miles of ocean, simply sail off to her – but only for a heartbeat. Nothing would come of it – she loved Will and he was, as ever, the hero here – and, moreover, Jack Sparrow did not risk his life if the potential result was not a direct benefit to him. He chose to ignore any potentially confusing thoughts; he realized he could use Will to help him with his kraken problem, and was back to himself, on safe ground.

Very quickly he found himself back adrift at sea in roaring waters with no ship in sight. He had never cared what anyone's reaction to anything he did would be – had never had cause to. Elizabeth made him thoroughly uncomfortable, for all his outward appearances of certainty (it was all he knew) and, standing on the deck of the Pearl, fingers tangled in her hair, eyes and lips less than inches apart, there was no longer any way he could deny it, and, surprisingly, he knew she couldn’t either. It was terribly unfamiliar territory, but he was always good at adapting and improvisation.

The black spot reappeared and the moment was gone, slipped through his fingers like everything else he had tried to hold on to. Elizabeth was entirely unsuccessful at masking her disappointment – she had worn the mask out, it seemed – let her guard down. He took careful note of her reaction, smirking inwardly in an awkward sort of triumph.

That night, Elizabeth made a decision. Resolutely, she crept from her bunk, around the crew sleeping on the floor, careful not to wake anyone. Somewhere, still, she was ashamed, and if she was caught she knew she would likely change her mind. She also knew she would regret it if she did – she was ready to admit it now, finally. She padded up the stairs to Jack's quarters, hoping silently he would not be asleep, that she would not lose her nerve. She saw a candle burning through his window and stopped short just outside his door; she felt as though there had been a cannon fired inside her chest, leaving a tingling sensation, anticipation and dread. She inhaled sharply and knocked.

"What? Who is it?"

She opened the door, then, inexplicably afraid to face Jack, afraid of what would happen next, afraid that nothing would, she turned and closed the door behind her. She remained facing the door, clinging to the handle as if to stay grounded, catching her breath, unsure about how to proceed. She was suddenly certain she was being foolish, that the past year had been nothing but a grown-up version of her childhood fantasies, but then Jack said her name, softly, surprised, and she knew she could no longer trick herself.

She mustered up the remains of the confidence she had had minutes earlier and turned. "Jack."

He had no quip, he had no witty response to her presence – in that moment he felt as though he had nothing at all. He was genuinely afraid of the fate that would befall him, of the kraken, and, at 2 o' clock in the morning, he did not feel in the mood for a battle of wits. He had no real choice. He smirked at her. "Paying late-night visits now, are we? Best be sure your William doesn't hear of this, eh?"

Taken aback, she blinked repeatedly, involuntarily. "Yes. I mean...no. I mean...I've made a decision. Regarding myself. And...you."

"Oh? And what sort of decision may that be?" He, of course, knew perfectly well, all his doubts and confusions laid momentarily aside as the sexual, the animal, the carnal took over – this he was familiar with, this he could navigate without so much as a glance at a chart.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, was breathing heavily, near certain that she would faint, as Jack, infuriatingly still seated, looked up at her expectantly, the light from the candle accentuating the kohl perpetually smudged around his eyes. It made them all the more striking; she allowed the thought to surface, unhindered. Somewhere in the past thirty seconds, she had become more aware of her sexuality than she had ever been, the gentle throbbing not entirely unpleasant; it was as if her body was more certain of things to come than she could ever be.

"Nothing. I've decided...nothing."

"So you've made a decision, and that decision is 'nothing'? Pardon my judgement, but 'nothing' does not seem like much of a decision at all, and certainly not one monumental or significant enough to warrant rousing a man in the middle of the night when, for all you know, he may have been asleep, or otherwise occupied." He raised his eyebrows at this last.

"You weren’t asleep, I saw the candle. And you weren't...otherwise occupied." She flushed at the implication, somewhat unsure, but having a general idea to what he was referring. "And, also, no, my decision is not nothing, nothing at all. It is...nothing. In response to your question. Because if I don’t say anything now then I will probably regret it later and, oh, I shouldn't have come because I am being absolutely ridiculous and if you don't mind I should probably-" She was painfully aware she was babbling, and was thankful for his interruption.

He raised his hand as though to silence her. "I'm not sure I'm following you, love. I've had an awful lot of rum and you are speaking awfully quickly. Let's see if I can get the general idea of what you’re trying to communicate here: I was right, you were wrong – or, you were right, but were wrong to pretend that you didn’t know what I knew you knew – right?" Jack rose, fingertips resting on his desk, leaning towards her over the methodically disorganized maps and instruments.

Elizabeth shook her head in a vain attempt to clear her head of the incoherence threatening to engulf the room, leading to what could easily become an increasingly complex game of talking in circles until she was frustrated enough to simply slap him and kiss him and end it all. "No! Yes. I haven't any idea what you just said!" Her voice rose in pitch and volume as a result of layers and months of frustration. "You said...you said a dress or nothing, and I’m saying nothing, and that's all!” The room tilted unpleasantly as the audaciousness of what she'd just said caught up with her, but she managed to continue staring defiantly at him.

She blinked and then Jack was in front of her, so close she could smell the rum on his breath, the salt and the sea and the hint of algae, just enough to be distinctive, not enough to be repulsive, and the overpowering smell of him, of pirate. Before she could absorb it all, before her heart even had a chance to start beating again, they were kissing and his mouth was on hers and she could taste him (it was overwhelming), could feel his tongue in her mouth, on her lips. She was momentarily stunned, but soon found herself again, kissing him back hungrily, with equal force, battling his tongue with hers.

She clung to his hair with both hands, undeniably attracted, toying unconsciously with the beads entwined in his braids, but uncertain as to how to proceed. The throbbing between her legs escalated to a desperate tingling, an emptiness that was palpable. She felt his arousal press against her hip and could barely suppress a moan.

All the while, Jack was intensely aware of how inexperienced she was, of the power he held over her – he always knew when he had power, how much, and how to use it, and this was no exception. He pulled away from her then, opening his eyes to look at her; her eyes were still closed and her mouth parted expectantly, waiting for his lips to return to hers. She opened her eyes, looked at him questioningly, no longer afraid or uncertain.

"You’re sure now, love? This isn’t like an engagement; you can’t take it back when someone better comes along." He grinned at her, the gold in his smile dazzlingly bright at this proximity. "I'm not saying there is anyone better, mind, but this can't be all Jack's fault in the morning."

"Do shut up." She crushed her mouth onto his once more, as his hands traced paths up and down her body. She was unaware of anything but the feeling of him – his lips and his tongue and his hands and his hair, every point of contact, all of him. Neither of them knew for how long they went on, or when Jack’s shirt came off, or how Elizabeth found herself back pressed against his desk, his leg between hers, rubbing until she felt certain she would explode from the friction.

He pulled away again; their lips were barely grazing; when she opened her eyes all she could see were his own. "Let's do this right, love. For the first time, at least." He grabbed her hand, leading her back through a doorway into the adjoining room containing his bed – the only real bed on the ship, reserved for the captain. He let go, turning to face her, gestured to it, bowed slightly. "Milady." Again, he smiled, barely on the roguish side of lecherous. It thrilled and excited her. She lowered herself onto the bed, completely willing to submit herself to him; she was blatantly aware of her inexperience, but she trusted Jack implicitly.

As he positioned himself atop her, already unbuttoning her vest, Elizabeth reached up to gently finger the round, bruise-like scars on his chest, the result of bullets shot long ago, in a different life. He caught her mouth with his as she kicked off her boots and slipped out of the rest of her clothing. Soon they were both undressed completely, and, as Jack marvelled at her smooth, unmarred skin, tanned from the Caribbean sun, she wanted nothing more than to explore his body, find every scar and imperfection, memorize him.

He did not take his rings off, and the alternate hot and cold of his fingers on her body – on her breasts, her stomach, her thighs, places she had never been touched – thrilled her. His mouth was on her neck, between her breasts, his breath on her ear; her back arched and she tilted her head back, succumbing to his ministrations. Fingernails dug into his shoulder blades as she wrapped one leg around him. The next thing she knew, she felt him against her, and a breathy "Jack" escaped against her will. Suddenly, with a sharp twinge of pain immediately swallowed in immeasurable pleasure, the emptiness that she had felt so keenly was gone and Jack marvelled at the fact that he no longer had to imagine.

Both her legs were around him now, and she leaned forward as their lips met. Just as quickly, she’d pulled away, begun bathing his chest and neck with her tongue, biting gently, hesitantly, rocking back and forth, caught in the rhythm of their motion and the sea. He lifted her face gently back up to meet his; she caught his eyes and knew that she’d made the right decision, there would be no more doubt or lying or hiding, no more denial and confusion. She was his now, irreversibly, no matter what happened she would be his, and he knew it. He knew the compass would stop swinging wildly now; he knew what he wanted – had always known, but now he knew.

The explosion came – the inevitable result of a build-up of energy over an extended period of time. They lay pressed together, Elizabeth tracing the lines of Jack's scars, idly counting the braids in his hair, as Jack traced circles on the small of Elizabeth’s back. Neither was afraid any longer – the threat of the kraken and the debt to the devil of the sea were just two more obstacles to overcome.

Jack moved down to wrap both his arms around her. "Knew you’d come over to my side. Didn’t think you’d be so quick about it, though."

"Well, you know me. I'm not one to sit and wait." She paused. "I must say, I'm glad."

"Just one more question." Jack took on a serious tone. "Am I invited to your wedding, then?"
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