J/E NC-17 *gasp* Ye have been warned!
“There’s unfinished business ’twixt you and I, love. Between us.” The voice came out of nowhere, sifting from the shadows lurking deep within the Black Pearl’s heart. A figure followed, darkness made man, and Jack Sparrow smiled in bitter shades of gold. “Best not let things fester, eh?”
He stood between her and escape, blocking the narrow passage that led to the steps. Elizabeth found her heart pounding; it was fear, she told herself, nothing more. “What business?” she asked. “I brought you back. If I had a debt, then it’s settled.”
“An eye for an eye, so they say.” In a pale glint of light, she saw a dagger in his hand. “A life for a life; a death for a death.”
Now she was afraid and backed up a step, reaching for her own weapon. “Do you mean to murder me?”
“If I didn’t mean to, t’would hardly be murder, would it? A happy accident, perhaps?” He took a step closer. In the moving shadows she couldn’t see his face, could hardly see more than the damp glimmer of his eyes and that devil’s smile. “But don’t fret, love, that account is paid. I was talking of more important matters that linger, still, between us.”
The dagger disappeared into his belt. “D’you think I don’t know the taste of desire, love? D’you think I didn’t taste it on your lips? Fair dripping with it, you were, that day. Still are, no doubt, lest you’ve permitted the whelp to dip his pecker and satisfy that terrible hunger what burns in your belly.”
Outraged, her cheeks flushed and her heart endeavoured to beat its way out of her chest. “You disgust me!”
“I do,” he agreed, stepping closer. “I do disgust you. Do you want to know why?”
“No.” But her body betrayed her, pooling heat wherever his gaze alighted.
He smiled, and this time it was slow and dissolute, black as his smoke-smudged eyes. “Because when you look at me, you see yourself – wicked, ruthless, and self-serving. Deceitful. And you can’t bear it, because you want it; you want it so badly you’d do anything to get it.”
She backed up a step. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
He followed, drawing closer; she could smell rum on his breath and low in her belly she felt a wretched, undeniable ache. “People like us, Lizzie, we’re not meant for clean sheets and marriage beds. We’re meant for the fire and iron of it, for the heat and hunger.” He lifted a finger as if to touch her face. “You feel it, don’t you? You want it.”
“I love Will.”
“Not talking about love.”
His finger touched her lips, setting her ablaze. “Hunger. Desire. Talking about need, Lizzie.”
The smile faded, his eyes encompassing the whole world and laying it at her feet. “Is that why you’re shaking?”
“I’m not.” She was. “I’m cold.”
His fingers left her lips, curling lightly around her throat. Her head pounded, blood thumping in her ears and washing away reason. “Fevered,” he breathed against her skin. “You’re hot. So hungry.”
His mouth is soft and yielding, he lets her set the pace, yet she can feel his need press hard against her hip and it scalds her from top to toe. She guides him backward, toward the mast, knowing what she must do, but she can taste such desire upon his tongue that her caged body leaps in response. Eager, desperate for release.
I’m not sorry.
Oh, but she was.
“It was the only way, wasn’t it?” Jack whispered. “The only way to take what you wanted was to see me dead after.”
“That’s not true…”
“A shot or a blade would have done the same service, would have spared me the Locker, yet you chose a more lethal weapon.”
His lips took hers, pressing her hard against the bulkhead, his fingers knotted in her hair. “Tell me to stop,” he hissed against her lips. “Tell me you’ve not burned for this every night, sweated for it amid your guilt and remorse. Tell me you’re not aflame with it – right now.”
She wanted to lie, to tell him those untruths and save herself the agony of choice, but she was already on fire and sense had turned to smoke beneath the heat of his mouth.
And, God, but he was right; she had dreamed of this, half memory half desire, in the long dark nights since she’d seduced him to his death. Was it redemption she sought in his arms, or the slaking of her lust? Was there a difference between the two? It was impossible to tell, not when his body pressed lean and taut against hers and his clever fingers slipped free the buttons of her waistcoat, caressing her breast through the coarse linen of her shirt. Salvation or damnation? She didn’t care. All she knew was that she wanted this, now, and with him – above all else, with him.
“I could take you here,” he growled, and it sounded like a threat, not a promise; his breath shivered against her skin and it seemed strange that he should be afraid. “I could take you right now.”
“Yes…” Permission or agreement? She dared not decide. Instead, she found his mouth again and kissed him thoroughly. Deeply. Slowly. She had kissed Will this way, once upon a time, in those long summer days of unquenched longing before their doomed wedding.
But this was not Will Turner. This was no callow youth exploring the flowering of his manhood; this was Jack Sparrow, back from the dead, and pirate long before Elizabeth had gasped her first breath. He kissed the very depths of her desire, knew her darkness better than she knew herself, and she could hardly bear it, could hardly endure this all-consuming desire.
Reckless fingers found the edge of his shirt and slipped urgently across his chest, curling over his shoulder. He burned as though he were fevered and she knew that he burned for her, as she burned for him, in a terrible, doomed conflagration that could not be extinguish save by rendering them both to ash. It was a price she would pay willingly; she yearned for the cleansing ecstasy of that fire.
Fierce, now, he shoved her tunic from her shoulders and his hands found her flesh beneath her shirt. A cry left her throat and she smothered it against his bare shoulder; when he growled, it was soft as the surf on the beach. Cool air brushed her belly, then her breasts, followed swiftly by the heat of his mouth.
This time there was nothing to silence her cry.
He tried, though, with his hand across her mouth; long, slender fingers slipped between her lips and she nipped at them with teeth and tongue. He cursed softly, kissing her to silence. “Wild,” he whispered against her ear, his tongue, there, melting her bones. “A veritable tempest, Lizzie.”
Impatient now, shaking with it, she found the belt at his waist and fumbled with the buckle. It fell to the floor with a treacherous thud and for a moment they both stilled, listening to nothing but their heartbeats in the perilous silence. But she could not wait long, and soon she’d pulled free the sash and begun working on the ties beneath. He made no move to help, holding oddly still with his mouth against her neck and his hands beneath her shirt, on her back.
Funny, how familiar men’s clothes had become, and yet this undressing of another was vividly new. Will would have stopped her hands long since, whispering words of desperate warning, imploring patience. But they were far beyond the edge of the map and she had no time for patience.
When she touched him for the first time Jack cursed, soft and hot against her neck, and then he looked at her, something other than anger in his eyes. “Lizzie…”
Like silk, he was, heated and firm in her hand; even the slightest movement of her fingers elicited a response. Never had she felt so powerful; never had he seemed so vulnerable. She wanted to tell him he was beautiful, that his face, cast in shadow and doubt, was breathtaking. But all she said was, “Don’t stop.”
And then his hands were tugging her clothing free, sliding across bare legs, slipping between her thighs. She gasped and felt him smile against her mouth as he kissed her again. “Hot,” he breathed. “God, you’re burning for it.”
Both his hands were on her face suddenly, and she could smell herself on his fingers as he kissed her like punishment. She gave him what he wanted in return, a clash of desire to equal his own, as he lifted her slightly, his hand clutching her leg, urging and guiding.
Oh God, she ached for him, opened herself without fear to everything new and un-trodden. Vaguely, she wondered if it would hurt. But she didn’t care; she longed to be filled, to possess him – to end this intolerable waiting.
He didn’t hesitate, she knew he wouldn’t. In one firm, irrevocable motion he entered her – there was a brief resistance, a fierce breaking of pain and—
“Bloody hell!” He hissed in shock. “You…?”
But he had stopped, his head resting heavy against her shoulder. “I thought you— Bloody hell, Lizzie…”
There was an unexpected sweetness in his concern. Perhaps he thought he’d seduced her, taken her unwillingly? The pain was still bright, but fading, and nothing to the rising heat of having him within her. Carefully, testing, she moved against him. He breathed a slow gasp against her skin, tremulous as a summer breeze. “Don’t stop,” she whispered, tilting her hips, revelling in the intensity of each new sensation.
He kissed her again, like a soft fall of rain, and then his fingers slid to her hips and he was moving carefully, drawing her upward like a bird on the wing. She moved with him, faster, forcing him to match her pace, making his gentle fingers bite hard into her hips as her teeth nipped the skin of his shoulder. His breathing grew harsh, ragged, and his mouth ranged from her lips to her jaw, to her shoulder. And then—
Footsteps, in the distance. A low murmur of conversation.
They both stilled, breath silenced.
Elizabeth told herself it wasn’t Will, blocked her ears against his familiar cadence as the footsteps retreated and silence returned. “This is madness,” Jack whispered against her ear.
In the darkness, she smiled. This is freedom, she thought, and wondered that she’d never felt its edge before.
He kissed her again, urgent now, and as they moved together his fingers slipped between them and touched her just— “God!”
“Now,” he breathed, and everything changed. They were racing together for some distant horizon that seemed forever beyond reach, his skin was slick and hot against hers, the pain overwhelmed by an intense building of pressure, a liquid heat that demanded release. The cost of keeping silent was unbearable and when, at last, the world shattered into shards of white heat, her body clamping tight and desperate around him, a savage cry tore from her throat. He silenced her with a frantic kiss, thrusting hard until his own smothered cry joined hers, leaving him shaking and breathless in her arms.
And for a moment it seemed they floated between sky and sea and all she could feel was the warmth of his body and the caress of his slowing breath against her skin. He whispered her name – Elizabeth – and in that moment she knew what it was to be happy.
But too soon the shadows returned, crowding in on cool air that whispered across her body. When he withdrew, she felt bereft and found that she couldn’t look at him, afraid of the truth she might see in his eyes – and of the truth he might see in hers. He took her hand, though, pressed it tight, and she saw a streak of blood upon his fingers – her blood, on his hands. “Now we’re square,” she said. “Blood for blood.”
“Aye.” He pulled at her shirt as if to straighten it, and after a moment said, “Lizzie, had I known—”
This time, she stopped his words with a finger to his lips.
“I knew,” she told him, meeting his gaze at last. “And you were right, this business between us was unresolved.”
“And now it is.”
She couldn’t tell if it were statement or question, and so made no answer. But his eyes were bright and she felt an urgent clench of desire; perhaps it was the incipient sadness she saw there, the distance she could already feel growing between them, that made him seem so beautiful.
He turned away then and dressed in swift, efficient movements. She did the same, silence and the sudden fear of discovery making her cold.
“Will we find our way back, do you think?” She addressed the question to his back, watching the play of muscles under his shirt and remembering how they felt beneath her touch.
“Can never go back, love. Can only ever go on.”
She was silent again, watching him wrap his sash twice about his waist. “And what of—? What of this?” she asked quietly, gesturing between them even though he couldn’t see the flutter of her hand.
He stilled. “What of it? You’re still betrothed to young Will.” There was a pause so slight she might have missed it had her heart not been beating in tandem with his. “Are you not?”
“I am.” She could not lie.
Jack shrugged and cinched a belt tight about his waist. “Then it’s done with.” But in the falling silence she heard him sigh, his resolve crumbling as his voice softened and he turned around. “Though you might do well to get him half cut on the wedding night, love, lest he notice what’s already been taken.”
Given, she thought, but did not say it aloud. “You’re a good man, Jack.” When she reached up to kiss him – to kiss him goodbye? – he lifted a hand as if to ward her off.
“That would be unwise, darlin’.”
She nodded and tried to ignore the longing, vanquished only briefly by their tryst, that returned with every step he took away from her. “So… Then, we are friends?”
He cast her a curious look. “Friends? You and I? Hardly that.”
“But not enemies?”
He considered her, leaning his shoulder against a low-angled beam, elegant as a courtier in his own strange way. “’Twould be easier if we were, Lizzie.”
Jack cocked his head, eyes lifted and listening to something she could not hear. “Barbossa holds her too tight to the wind,” he said softly. “The sails are luffing.”
“The Pearl needs her captain, then.”
“Aye.” He smiled, a rare glimpse of honesty, and reached up to stroke the wood above his head.
Elizabeth knew it was ridiculous to envy the ship Jack’s touch, and yet she found her eyes drawn jealously to his fingertip caress and realised that, in truth, nothing had been resolved between them. The stakes had simply grown higher, more dangerous.
She slid a hand low across her belly, imagined she could still feel his heat inside her. “What will happen, when we return?”
Jack shrugged, his arm dropping to his side as he stood up straight and made as if to leave. “I intend to pillage and plunder me way back to glory. You, no doubt, will marry the whelp and forever wish you’d tied your colours to another’s mast.”
He smiled at her open-mouthed outrage.
“Don’t worry, love,” he added, turning to stroll toward the steps. “We’re not back yet, and perhaps we never will be. Buggered if I know the way.” At the foot of the steps he stopped, turning. The pale light of this never-world seemed to wash him of colour, turned his eyes black against ashen skin. “Any fool can die, eh? ’Tis the returning what takes courage and fortitude.”
With that, he took the steps two at a time and disappeared above, leaving Elizabeth alone. Carefully, she sat down upon the steps, her aching body still painted vivid by his touch. Above her, she could hear Will’s sure steps upon the deck and knew that he was coming to find her. Jack, perhaps, had sent him. Briefly, she considered running, but there was nowhere to go when you were running from your own divided heart, and after a while she heard his voice.
“You left Jack to the Kraken?”
He was close, on the stairs. Braced for his outrage, the thread of relief in his voice surprised her. “He’s rescued now,” she said softly. “It’s done with.” But she could tell by the bright streaks of anger in his eyes that it was not done with, not for him. She sighed. “Will, I had no choice.”
He turned on her. “You chose not to tell me!”
Not to tell him? She had betrayed a good man, engineered his death, and yet it was her silence that shocked him? “I couldn’t,” she said, looking away. “It wasn’t your burden to bear.”
“But I did bear it, didn’t I?” And there it was, his anger, tied tightly in his chest. “I just didn’t know what it was. I thought—”
“You thought I loved him?” Realisation flowed like water; his long anger, his silent reproach, had nothing to do with Jack’s death and everything to do with his wounded heart. How much more would he punish her, she thought, if he knew the truth?
Angrily, he pushed her hard against a beam and her mind – her body – slid instantly to Jack; she throbbed with unexpected, remembered pleasure and caught her breath to keep from gasping.
“If you make your choices alone,” Will hissed, “how can I trust you?”
She could still taste Jack on her lips, could still feel the burn of his mouth against her skin, the heat of him deep inside her. “You can’t,” she realised, flushed with guilt and desire. It was the first truth she had spoken to Will in months and she was astonished that he couldn’t see it in her eyes. But he was so earnest, so determined to trust where he had no right trusting… She found she couldn’t bear the burden of so much misplaced faith and pushed roughly past him, flinging herself up the stairs and into the whip of the wind, the salt-tang spray of the sea.
When she reached the deck, dusk was falling and upon the bruised horizon hovered a myriad strange lights. She watched their approach from the rail, headily aware of Jack’s silent presence behind her, and prayed that the night would bring her clarity and purpose. For in that last hour of girlhood she could conceive of nothing more terrible than the conflict in her heart, and watched the dead approach with naught but idle curiosity.
When the blow fell, Jack held back and it was in Will’s arms she found comfort. She knew, then, that Jack would never touch her again; it would have broken her heart, had grief not driven all but vengeance from her soul.
Only later, when she’d been doomed to widow’s weeds, did she understand all that she had lost. By then, Jack had sailed for fortune and glory, and only the quickening in her belly held back the storm of regret.
But even though she told herself it was enough, she could not banish the memory of his touch, nor douse her smouldering hope – and she could not keep from dreaming of black sails upon the horizon...
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. :)