SalR323 (salr323) wrote,

FF "Let it Bleed" 1/1

This was written in response to the first challenge on hseas_challenge.

Challenge #1: Film Interpretation. cmgacrux pointed out that “She sailed to the ends of the Earth to get him back -- surely, she didn't risk life and limb just to see him again; she must have had something to tell him.”

Thanks to the Stones and fried_flamingo for the title. :)

Let it Bleed
Sally R

He was not what she expected to find.

She had condemned Jack Sparrow to his fate, brash and unbowed. Victorious in defeat, he’d called her pirate and left the rest unsaid.

But here upon the Locker’s bleak shore he was stark against the bone-white sand, a creature of darkness and shadow. He stung her with sly looks, fleeting and full of mistrust, but never spoke to her, never drew near.

She wondered if he knew why she’d come so far, if he could guess what had driven her to the ends of the earth in search of him. Guilt – yes, aplenty. But more than that, harsher than that had been her desire for truth.

She’d tasted it at their final parting, sweet and bitter upon her tongue, though she’d not known the flavour until the Pearl had broken and splintered beneath Jones’ cruel curse. When her heart had splintered with it she’d known doubt; in the swamp-light of grief she had felt it with each thump of the knife, black and white, into the deadwood of the table.

Light and dark, dark and light. Good man or pirate.

What is it you want, Elizabeth Swann?

“What is it you want?” She started at the sound of his voice, at the way it fell flat in the dead air. Through narrowed eyes he stared at her, face hidden by the brim of his hat and the Locker’s harsh shadow – just as she’d always remembered him, and yet nothing like it; the colour had leeched away, his red scarf a tattered rag of its old defiance. “As if purgatory weren’t bad enough with naught but by myself for company, here you are.” He looked at her down the length of his nose. “What is it you want?”

The crew huddled, wrecked upon the shore, and beyond them the Pearl unfurled her ebony sails. “An answer,” she said.

At that, he laughed; it was a giggle, a flutter of madness. “None of those here, love.”

She struggled to hold his gaze, to not look away when she saw only sea-glitter in his eyes. “Do you remember when we first met?”

“’Twas upon the ocean floor, was it not? Fitting, since that’s where I ended up.”

Elizabeth smiled, or tried to, but her mouth was reluctant to relinquish the tight-pressed frown it had worn these past months and she could offer only a grimace. “You had but three things of value upon you, do you remember? Your gun, your sword, and your compass. James took them from you and had no idea of their worth.”

His attention slipped away from her, wandering toward the crew upon the beach. She could hear Will giving orders, and Barbossa ignoring them. “Funny,” Jack said, “people keep doing that.”

“If you mean what I took from you—”

“I do.”

She shivered at his tone, at the unveiled malice in his eyes; Jack Sparrow had threatened her before, but never like this. “You hate me.” She nodded, accepting the fact, though she slid a hand to the gun in her belt. “You have reason, yet I won’t apologise; you know there was no other way. But don’t imagine I acted lightly; I knew the worth of what I took that day.”

He stepped forward and she caught her breath at the soft jingle of his braids, of the sword at his side; she’d heard the sound every night in her guilt-tossed sleep and hadn’t dared hope to hear it again. “What is it you want, Miss Swann? If it’s not to throw yourself upon my mercy – a very bad idea, love – then what has brought you here?”

“I told you. An answer.”

“Ah.” His dangerous gaze slid away again; she knew Will must be watching them and saw Jack smile with predatory cunning. “Then perhaps I should ask, what question has brought you here?”

Closer to the truth; she felt a flush burn her skin, low across her chest. “I—” She held out her hand, palm up. “Let me see your compass.”

Jack looked at her and for a moment she was in another place; the deck rolled beneath her feet, and amid the stench of gunpowder and death something fragile blossomed, something doomed and beautiful. He understood her, she’d seen it then and saw it now in the knowing smile that curled his lips. “Ah, so it’s like that.”

Her hand didn’t waver.

He squinted out to sea, to where the Pearl rested unnaturally still upon the silent water. “Worst bloody bargain I ever made, love. Brought me nothing but grief, it has.” His shrewd gaze pinned her. “Are you sure you want to open the lid on so much trouble?”

She remembered his surprised surrender, the leaping fire in her heart, and the tumbling mix of doubt and desire that had never abated – not for a moment – in all the long nights she had grieved and repented. “The lid’s already open, Jack.”

“And you’d look inside, eh? Like Pandora, springing a world of troubles upon us all.”

“You’re afraid.” The realisation came suddenly, the lifting of a veil; he couldn’t hide from her now. She knew him too. “You’re afraid of what I’ll see.”

There was a moment of stillness before he answered, and then it was merely to snatch the compass from where it hung at his waist and to hold it out. The look in his eyes was a challenge.

She accepted it, closing her fingers around the leather box and taking it from his hand. Its surface was worn smooth and she wondered how many other hands had held it thus, in search of the truth it would reveal. Jack was silent, but she could feel his gaze upon her as she slowly lifted the lid and watched the needle spin.

And spin.

When it settled, pointing true, her heart settled with it; doubt was eased and only pain remained.

Jack smiled his gypsy smile and closed warm fingers over hers, around the box. He did not look inside. “The knowing’s only the half of it, eh?”

Over his shoulder she saw Will watching them, pain writ harsh across his face. She could hardly bear to look at him, could hardly bear to look at Jack. “I thought if I knew what I wanted…” She dropped her head, saw only his dark fingers against hers, the black leather of the compass dazzled by the Locker’s dead sun, and realised that she had known all along.

“Knowing what you want’s one thing, love. Getting it? That’s something else entirely.” With a gentle pressure he closed the lid, a dull snap. “And the two don’t often go together.”

His hard-black gaze held hers and she thought he might soften, that he might forgive, but his eyes slipped away and he drew the compass from her hands. She felt bereft as he stepped back. Will was approaching now, brow drawn low. Angry. Jack cast her a final, bleak smile and turned on his heel. He walked with a slow swagger toward his ragtag crew, passing Will so close their shoulders bumped, but Jack didn’t stop nor look back as Will turned to watch him leave.

A flare of outrage ignited her temper. “Is that it then?” she called after him. “I’ve come so far, and that is all you have to say?”

Jack stopped, stock still, then turned with a flourish, holding his hand up as if to lecture. His smile was the devil’s own, harsh and wickedly tempting. “What else is there to say, love? Even a child at his mother’s knee knows this truth; you can’t always get what you want, just because you want it.”

With that he turned and walked into the desolate sunlight, coattails fluttering behind him. Will looked at her, serious as ever, but she had nothing to say to him; Jack had issued her a challenge and her heart at once soared and quailed at the prospect of picking up the gauntlet he had flung upon the sand.

You can’t always get what you want, just because you want it.

She started walking, feeling the breeze tug at her hair as she followed Jack along the edge of the world, toward the crew of the Black Pearl.

You can’t always get what you want…

Elizabeth smiled. Just watch me.

The End

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it. :)
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