Title: Dead Man's Chest
Sequel to: Curse of the Black Pearl and A Tail of the Sea.
Pairings/Characters: Chloe, James Norrington, Will Turner, Lois/Jack Sparrow, Lucy/Giselle, Lana, Governor Swan, Cutler Beckett... more
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: A year has passed since Chloe started her life on the small, remote island, where she's managed to build a happy life for herself. But she has a debt to pay, and when old friends come a'knocking she finds out who The Voice is, and what she must do to be free.
A/N: All information on Cutler Beckett and Jack Sparrow mentioned in this chapter is canon.
Lois Swann's engagement ball was the thing of fairy tales. No expense had been spared, all financed by Cutler Beckett as a way of proving to his new citizens just how much more powerful and above them he truly was. The Becketts might have been a wealthy family, but he was the only one who'd ever actually achieved a title, and while the overwhelming pride and snubbery he displayed was sickening at the best of times, it was downright disgusting and unforgivable at the worst.
The ring upon her finger had been admired and gaped and complimented all night, she'd been congratulated more than once, but she could see the look in those who had been close to her family. It was sadness, it was understanding of the situation. The news that she'd been imprisoned before suddenly becoming the future Lady Beckett was well-known, everyone in this sham of a party, in Port Royal, knew the only reason she was here with a fake smile plastered on her face was because the alternative had been a hangman's noose.
Cutler was in the middle of the room, mingling with the prominent members of Port Royal, networking and no-doubt letting each and every one of them know that it was in their best interest not to make him their enemy.
Marcus and Lana stood off to the side, Lana pale and clearly unhappy yet in attendance as Cutler had demanded it to "prove her joy at the news". Lana was no thespian, and anyone could see the displeasure written on her painted face, as well as the fact that Marcus leaned into her comfortingly. Marcus caught Lois' eye and nodded to her meaningly, she smiled a little and nodded back.
Father stepped in between them and grabbed Lois' arm, pulling her off to the side room, his voice low as he spoke. "I cannot abide this to happen. I will spirit you and Lana away from here, to England. I still have the King's ear, if I can just have a sitting with him I will clear this all up and you will be free."
Lois glanced discreetly towards the larger room and noticed the tips of booted feet. Ian Mercer, Cutler's right hand man and a devil all on his own, was spying on them, no doubt waiting this sort of situation so he could report to Cutler and give the man more leverage over her.
Taking in a deep breath, she returned her gaze to her father. "Please, stop this."
His eyes widened in surprise. "But Lois—!"
"I might not love that little rat, but I can learn to tolerate him." She couldn't give Cutler any advantage, anything to use against her. She needed to make him believe she was willing to go through with this, needed him to loosen the guard, to lower his guard. The second it was she would strike, but that second was not now, so she continued to play her part. "If you and Lana want to go to the king do so after the wedding, I will not go through the public shame of walking down that aisle without my father by side."
Pain obviously painted his face. "My child, do not sacrifice yourself, your happiness, for us, for anyone. We will find a way."
At that moment she loved her father more than she ever had. "Father, I am not sacrificing myself. I never expected to marry for love." She reached out and gripped his hand. "I have seen what love did to Lana, to Chloe, and I want nothing to do with that sort of pain. I would prefer to marry someone who can not only help my family and give me a good life, but one who could never hurt me the way Will hurt them."
Her father flinched, obviously thinking of the way Will had broken Chloe's heart on his command.
"I will never give a man that sort of power over me," she swore to her father. "And anyway, you must think of Lana. Now that she will be related to Lady Beckett, wife of the Director of the East India Trading Company, the world has opened up to her unlike it ever would have otherwise. And maybe even Lucy…" She sighed. "Father, I am going to do this, and I need your blessing."
"How can I give it to a union that I know will end in your misery?" Her father whispered, brokenhearted.
Lois' only answer was to kiss her father's cheek. By the time she'd pulled away, Mercer's boots were gone, and she breathed a sigh of relief. "Father, let us return, this is my party, I cannot be absent."
They rejoined the party and Lois played her part to perfection. She watched Mercer and Cutler discreetly, watched the pleased smirk that tilted the edges of his face the whole night. He thought he had her right where he wanted her. Good.
That was why, when Marcus invited her to dance, she was in a good mood.
"You seem jolly considering the event we are attending," he declared softly as they spun in the crowd.
"My fiancé is quite happy tonight, relaxed, much less guarded," she responded casually.
He nodded. "He was not at the beginning of the night."
She caught his meaning.
He chuckled and shook his head as he spoke, still very low. "I have acquired the wedding gift you were searching for."
Her eyes widened as hope soared in her. "Will it arrive on time?"
"It will be the talk of Port Royal," Marcus assured her.
"Thank you," Lois whispered.
"How could I not assist?" Marcus asked softly. "It is the only way I can find to repay Lord Beckett for the kindness he has bestowed upon Lana's family. Even if my part in this will never be discovered, knowing I had a part to play in this gift will forever fill me with joy."
The smile she gave Marcus was the first genuine smile she'd given since Cutler Beckett had shown back up in her life.
He sat in the private cove and watched her with awe plainly written on his face. He dared not speak, not utter a word, almost as if afraid that any little sound he might make would drive her away.
She was a thing to behold indeed. While human in shape she was clearly more than mortal. Her hair was waves of water decorated by countless shells, pearls of every shape and color were tied in the locks. Her eyes were as deep and vast as the sea itself, her body was a mixture of solid and liquid, a fascinating, inhuman mixture which - while shocking - somehow was beautiful beyond words.
"Why do you always watch me yet never say a word?" She turned towards him, her voice like a million waters, and yet soft nonetheless - what an odd mixture. "Are you afraid of me, human?"
Despite being visibly startled by her words, he hurried to his feet and shook his head. "No! I do not fear you!" He cleared his throat. "In truth, madam, you enchant me, and I was fearful that I would frighten you if I approached."
The being eyed him thoughtfully before she smiled softly. "It would take more than a sailor to frighten me."
He stared at her with open fascination. "Then please, forgive my forwardness, but I must know your name."
She hesitated a second before she pulled a strand of hair behind her ear. "My name is Calypso."
A smile slowly touched his lips, and when he spoke his voice was reverent: "Calypso."
Rubbing Monkey Jack's head, Chloe tried to ignore the headache that always arrived after the visions left. They had only started appearing after she'd bled on Jack's Black Spot, so it was more than obvious to her that by doing so she'd somehow opened up a channel between her and the Voice, with Calypso. But how did it all tie in together, how would these visions help her understand what Calypso (it had to be Calypso, right?) wanted her to do?
"It is a fine establishment," Will's voice brought her back to the present.
She looked away from where Will was talking to Fergus, the local blacksmith, who was old and looking to sell his business to move to a neighboring island with his children, who'd moved there some years ago. It was amusing, almost comforting, to know that even though Will had gone and become a pirate there was still the blacksmith she knew somewhere deep inside.
It made him feel a little less like a stranger.
Chloe walked away in the opposite direction, Monkey Jack cradled happily in her arms.
"Kerma?" Lois raised an eyebrow as she strolled in the gardens with her insufferable fiancé. "I have never heard of it."
"And you never will," Cutler assured her. "Suffice to say Kerma was an island in the Atlantic Ocean, which was hidden from the outside world by a magical fog, and which was inhabited by the descendants of the Egyptians and ruled by pharaohs of all things."
For the first time in a very long time Lois was actually interested in anything Cutler had to say to her. She wasn't sure why he'd decided to tell her all of this during their routine evening strolls, but at least she wasn't subjected to his snobbish and derogatory remarks, or wasn't being forced to listen to him recount the many trials which were being started in Port Royal in an effort to eradicate any support the local sympathizers might have with pirates.
"This of course happened when I was relocated to Calabar in West Africa and became the Director of the West African Affairs for the East India Trading Company. I immediately hired Mercer to replace my previous operative, who was killed on a mission in Nippon - where I lived before I was sent to my new post in Africa." Cutler made a face. "I did quite hate it there. Nothing but heat and Africans. There is nothing that a black man is good for but hard labor."
Lois bit back her own opinions, they would only make things worse for her. She needed to portray the complacent accomplice, needed to continue gaining his trust.
"Quite a few of the wealthy and powerful gentlemen in Calabar paid quite a pretty penny for light-skinned concubines, but I never saw the appeal." He made up his nose. "To each their own I suppose - no matter how distasteful it might be."
Lois closed her eyes tightly at that and took in a deep breath. Be quiet, Lois, stay quiet. This is not the time.
"It was during this time that I met your friend, Jack Sparrow."
Lois' eyes flew open but she tried not to look too interested in the topic now, so she remained silent.
"I bought this old ship, the Wicked Wench, and wanted to use her as a slave ship but it would've cost more than it was worth to convert her hold to haul slaves. So I decided to use her for hauling other cargos." It had never been a secret that Cutler had dealt in the slave trade, and it had been only one of many reasons why Lois had never been able to ever consider him as a potential husband. "One day, one of our ships, the Fair Wind, arrived and I was visited by the ship's first mate - our mutual acquaintance."
"Jack used to work for the East India Trading Company?" Lois couldn't keep the utter shock from her voice. "But he's such a pirate!"
"I know, tis a disgrace." Cutler seemed to have misunderstood the feeling behind her shock. "His captain had been killed when they were attacked by pirates and he attacked the pirate captain because he couldn't stand the idea of a woman commanding a ship." He made a face of disgust. "It was quite understandable really, the idea of a woman having the knowledge, brains, or ability to truly commandeer a vessel - only pirates would allow such a travesty."
Lois actually bit her tongue right then and there.
"Well, from what I was told, Jack parleyed with Dona Pirata and she agreed to take only one third of the ship's cargo of rum." Cutler sighed. "I must admit, I was impressed with Sparrow's negotiation skills and promoted him to captain and gave him the Marlin, but even though he accepted it at first he refused the ship when he found out it was to be used as a slave ship."
Lois looked up at that, eyes wide and heart thudding.
Cutler looked more and more disgusted as he recounted the tale. "The slave trade might not be the most pleasant business but it is extremely lucrative - it's just good business. I should have known with his refusal to partake that he would be no good to me in the long haul, still, I knew he could be an excellent operative for me in foreign ports so I indulged him and gave him the Wicked Wench instead."
Lois couldn't imagine Jack as the captain of any ship other than the Black Pearl. It felt… wrong.
"He was, as I'd known, an excellent operative, and yet his distaste for the slave trade continued to cause friction - so unreasonable." Cutler shook his head. "When we found a way to find Kerma, and with it its ancient treasure, Jack wanted more than ten percent of the gold - would not even consider the additional revenue from the slave trade, said he would have nothing to do with that, so I had to offer him thirty per cent of the gold. The fool. My plan was to imprison all Kermans and sell the heathens as slaves - we would have made a veritable fortune." Anger seeped into Cutler's words. "Had it not been for Jack Sparrow I would be more than merely Lord Beckett right now."
Lois continued to stare at Cutler in shock. "What did he do?"
"He set free 200 slaves bound for my patron's plantation, and in doing so destroyed my earliest chances at a title, destroyed what I had wanted for the most." Cutler smiled, it was all teeth and no warmth. "So I repaid him in kind, I branded him with a P for pirate, and then set fire to the Wench, sinking her into the bottom of the ocean."
Lois could hardly breathe.
"Seeing the canons firing at his beloved Wicked Wench, Jack somehow managed to free himself and jumped overboard. He swam to the burning ship to try and save her. The last we saw of Sparrow he was aboard the burning Wench as it sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic," he declared wistfully. "We'd believed he'd gone down with his ship - imagine our disappointment when we heard of his misadventures with the daughters of Governor Weatherby Swann of Port Royal."
Lois didn't answer. She couldn't. Her mind was going a hundred miles per hour. She'd learnt so much during this walk it made her head hurt.
"So you see, any notion you have of Jack Sparrow being anything other than a pirate is wrong," Cutler declared superiorly. "I mean for you to see his limited vision, his barbaric, simplistic nature. He isn't a visionary pirate captain, he is a simpleton and a pest who needs to be exterminated with extreme prejudice."
"You are right," Lois whispered softly. "He is not the man I thought he was."
Apparently pleased to hear those words in that truly shaken tone, Cutler nodded and patted the hand he gripped around his arm. "There there. You are a woman, if someone of superior intelligence and worldly knowledge like myself was able to be deceived by that knave I do not hold it against you for being taken in by him as well. But it is admirable that you can rise above the inferiority of your sex and show such clear understanding."
Lois didn't hear any of that, and it was probably for the best. For the rest of the walk in the gardens her mind tried to digest everything she'd just learnt, and tried desperately to reconcile the rapscallion Jack Sparrow with the honorable man Cutler Beckett had unwittingly painted him to be.
A small smile touched her lips and didn't leave for the rest of the night.
Chloe gripped at her head at the loudness of the Voice (she would still refer to it like this until she was a hundred per cent sure that the Voice was Calypso's). She winced in pain and accidentally swallowed sea water when she instinctively took in a gulp of "air" to try and calm herself. But breathing, normally, was impossible at the bottom of the sea, so she merely forced herself to relax despite the headache that was surprisingly enough beginning to bloom in her temples.
It was getting harder and harder to escape into the sea with Will and Lucy around (not to mention Jack and his men) but Jack was soon leaving and would be taking Lucy back to Tortuga with him and Will when they left.
Chloe glanced up at the surface, clear, without the usual rowboat in sight, and she was surprised to realize just how much she'd come to expect James there when she went on her nightly swims. He'd stand watch over her, faithful as ever, and while she didn't need it, just knowing he was there was comforting. But he'd worked extremely hard today and had fallen asleep early before she could tell him her plans to venture into the sea that night.
She'd gone to his room (how odd was it that despite how improper that was it didn't feel wrong?) and had hesitated at the door as she watched him sleep. He'd made her swear that she would always tell him when she was in the sea, but she didn't have the heart to wake him up, not when he'd tired himself doing manual labor for her. She could not expect to take up his days and nights, and so she'd ventured off on her own, leaving Will and Lucy sleeping in their own rooms as well.
*Tia Dalma,* the Voice repeated with authority. *Wiley Jack must Tia Dalma see, or Davy Jones will find him, bind him, and meddle with great destiny.*
Where can he find this Tia Dalma person? Chloe sat on the sand, her hair floating around her on the tide.
The young sailor smiled as he held the flowers he had gathered in the meadow for her while awaiting her arrival. "They cannot compare to your beauty, but I would forever cherish the memory of you wearing them in your locks."
Calypso stared at the handsome sailor and then at the flowers, before she smiled as she reached for the hand-picked bouquet. "Well, shall I give you that memory for you to cherish, then?"
Chloe's cry of pain rose in the form of a cloud of bubbles which ascendent in violence to the surface. The headache that always accompanied the visions was worse than ever, so sharp and intense she was actually scared.
Calypso swam deep into the sea, surrounded by fish and turtles and crabs. She moved with the grace and the strength of mermaids yet she had no tail, instead her body nearly became one with the sea itself. Within the water she was nearly completely transparent, yet her eyes were still intense, still so incredibly visible.
Feeling a shadow on her, she turned and smiled up at the small boat anchored above, at the shadow peering down at her through the crystalline water. She waved up at him, and her faithful sailor waved back.
Swimming upwards, Calypso surfaced and her smile merely grew, her heart full as she faced her jolly sailor bold. She moved closer to rest with her arms against the small rowboat's lip, and when he moved closer to ask her something she surged upwards and pressed a kiss to his surprised lips.
His eyes widened, she could hear his heart racing so loudly, but before he could react, could kiss back, she giggled and dove back into the sea.
Chloe gripped the body around her tightly and cried into the chest before she even realized that she was actually holding onto someone. He was strong, incredibly so. His arm anchored her to him as he swam with them both, upwards, ever upwards, until they finally surfaced and he took in a deep, desperate breath of air.
She'd been deep below, it would've been too deep for someone who couldn't breathe underwater - who had been stupid enough to—?
Chloe cried out in pain and pressed her forehead hard against his chest as he began to swim them back to the shore as the Voice whispered: *Jack be not the only one who needs ta Tia Dalma see*.
He watched the mermaids braiding her wavy hair and smiled as he cleaned his sword. He didn't quite trust or like mermaids, no sailor worth his grain of salt would, but it was beautiful to see them tend to her like this - to treat her with the respect and worship that she deserved.
Even now he still could not believe that one such as her even knew his name.
Movement in the sand caught his attention, and he glanced down to see a crab approaching. In its claw it held a shell, one which had been chipped and vaguely resembled a heart.
Immediately he glanced up and caught her small smile before she looked away.
Heart racing, he reached down and accepted the shell from the crab with a grin.
"Look at me, concentrate on my voice, focus on me." His voice was distorted, his face completely hidden by shadow as he loomed over her on the back, backlit by the moon. "Chloe!"
At the sound of her name Chloe took in a gulp of air as suddenly the distortion, the pain, disappeared. "The pain is gone."
He let out a sigh of relief that visibly shook his whole body as he lowered his head, dark curls wet and causing droplets of water to fall onto her face. "What happened while you were down there? When I found you—."
"James?" Finally recognizing her savior, Chloe peered up into his shadowed face. "Why - you were sleeping. How did you know to come?"
He let out a soft breath. "I do not know." He moved so that he now sat on his knees instead of looming over her. "All I know is that I awoke with a great and terrible fright, and when I could not find you in your room I knew you must be here."
Chloe sat up, sand clinging to her wet body. "You swam all the way… you dove that distance for me?"
James Norrington nodded. "Of course I did."
Her heart raced and she lost her voice. James had always cared for her, protected her, and yet this felt different somehow. This… she did not know how to explain the how or the why.
"Why were you in pain?" James' voice was low. "Were you seeing the sea goddess and her human lover again?"
Chloe nodded. "It was worse than before - I saw so many different things… They were so in love, James."
"Why does this hurt you?" He whispered, almost to himself.
"I do not know," she answered nonetheless. "But I do know one thing." She took in a deep breath. "I have to leave with Jack when he goes."
"What?" James stilled, tensed.
"The Voice told me that he needs to see Tia Dalma, and that he knows who this person is and how to find her," she confided. "She also told me that I need to see this woman as well." She sat straighter, shifted closer. "Maybe this person can help me with the pain - or to at least understand why I am seeing these visions." She reached out and grabbed hold of the seam of his wet shirt. "Or, maybe, she can tell me what the Voice - what Calypso - wants from me."
James stared down at her in silence.
She lowered her gaze and tightened her grip on the bottom of his shirt. "I will understand it if you are not here when I return."
"I will not be here when you return," James confirmed, and those words tore at her like knives. "You will need someone with you whom you can confide in without any repercussions, who can understand the situation and lend a hand, a shoulder, a blade, when you need it."
Her eyes widened and her heart raced so hard it hurt as she glanced up into his shadowed face in shock. "I could never ask you to sail on a pirate ship for me!"
James placed his hand on the one she used to grip his shirt. "You do not have to. This is my choice, and I freely make it."
Tears filled Chloe's eyes as she surged forwards and wrapped her arms around James' neck tightly. She hid her face against his cheek as she pulled closer and tears began to fall silently.
James' arms wrapped around her and held her close, his hand slowly rubbing her back in a soft, comforting manner. "Come, let us get you into dry clothes and into bed before you catch your death." He somehow managed to stand and pull her up into his arms at the same time.
Usually Chloe would complain, would say that she could walk thank-you-very-much, but tonight her arms remained around his neck as she rested against him. She closed her eyes and let him take her home.
Lana shot up in bed, eyes wide in horror, the nightmare she'd suffered through still terrifyingly real in her mind. "Lucy."