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.
Lucy Swann had never thought she'd see the day in which James Norrington would be aboard a pirate ship willingly. The only way she could've maybe envisioned it once upon a time was if he was boarding the ship during a time of war to destroy the pirates onboard, or if he'd been taken captive and kept hostage for ransom. And yet, despite wearing his faded and terribly worn uniform jacket with visible pride, James Norrington was very much aboard the Black Pearl headed towards this Tia Dalma person who made Jack act all uneasy.
Jack hadn't wanted to let James on the Pearl at first, but Chloe had pulled him aside and whatever she'd told him had had him changing his mind, and tune, immediately. Yep. He'd pranced over to James, slapped his back a couple of times and welcomed him heartily aboard the Pearl. James hadn't answered in kind but no one had expected him to be too happy to be here given everything.
And yet he was here.
Chloe and James had always been close. Even when he'd been courting Lana, had proposed to Lana, it was always Chloe whom James had been closest to. Lucy had never understood why he'd never realized the blonde's feelings for him given just how obvious it'd been for everyone else. She'd never understood how he could choose Lana, and yet now, as she watched James watch Chloe the way he always had, she began to wonder something which unsettled her. What if she'd been wrong? What if they all had? Then again, this could very well be him settling for Chloe since he couldn't have Lana… and yet…
There was no difference in how he'd always treated Chloe, was there? No. Wait. She was lying. There was a difference, but it wasn't that he suddenly couldn't keep his hands off of her, or that he suddenly was professing his undying love or being more protective than before. No. The only difference between how he'd always treated Chloe, and how he was treating her now, was the complete ease he portrayed.
While it had never been debated whether Chloe and James were each other's favorite person, even if only in a friendly way for James, he'd always held himself with a rigid properness. He'd always been close to Chloe, and yet mindful of their positions, of the difference in their sex, of what was proper. He'd lived toeing the line. Now, though, the line was crossed, and what she meant by that was… well.. Look at James laughing. No longer was he visibly trying to keep his laugh at a proper tone and strength, or his lips twitching in his desire to keep them a line, or his body straight despite how it trembled slightly with how much he was trying to keep himself composed as he clasped behind his back.
James was laughing. Laughing. His head was thrown back, his voice loud, and his hands against his stomach as if it hurt from his raucous laughter.
Chloe grinned up at him, her hands clasped behind her back as she leaned towards him with a teasing expression in her eyes. She'd never been one for propriety, and had always been the one to push the boundaries between them, and yet something was different in her as well. Lucy couldn't put her finger on exactly what was different, but there was definitely something there.
There was something between her sister and James Norrington, and whatever it was it was growing, strengthening.
Lucy bit her bottom lip as her gaze shifted to where Will stood, watching Chloe and Norrington, no doubt seeing what Lucy did when he looked at them. Will had spent years watching Chloe and Norrington, had watched them grow closer while he stood in the shadows unable to do anything. Lucy could see something in his eyes she didn't quite like, didn't quite understand, but she could understand the way he clenched his fists so tightly his knuckles turned milky.
This must be a nightmare for him. He'd broken Chloe's heart in an effort to protect her, had believed for a whole year that he was part of the reason she'd been murdered, and then he'd finally found her alive only to once more have to stand in the shadows and watch as Norrington and her continued to grow closer and closer with each passing day.
The whole situation worried Lucy. And it wasn't just the Chloe/Norrington/Will thing either. Why did Jack have to see this Tia Dalma person? And why had Chloe left the island (and the islanders who'd been very reluctant to see her leave) to join them? It had to be something extremely serious, life-threatening even - and something that involved Chloe's life - because that was the only reason she could come up with as to why James Norrington now sailed under a pirate's flag.
That was why Lucy was traveling with them to see this Tia Dalma person as well, instead of heading back to Tortuga as she'd originally planned. Something was up, something big was headed their way, and it had to do with why so many people thought her sister was the goddess Calypso. It had to.
It hurt Lucy to know that Chloe didn't trust her enough to tell her the truth, but she didn't know what Chloe had gone through, so she couldn't and wouldn't judge. All she could do was be here and help Will and James protect Chloe when whatever was going on finally came to light.
Gi was right though, Chloe definitely is not made for ladyhood. She is like me. This life has crept into her veins.
Sighing, Lucy leaned her hip against the railing of the Pearl and peered out at the sea, wondering how Giselle was doing, and just how much hell she was raising without Lucy to reign her in.
Maybe it was a mistake to ask Scarlett to help her while I am gone, those two can get into a lot of trouble when together.
The thought made her smile a little larger with a chuckle as she shook her head and took in a deep breath. While she loved the life of a pirate on the sea, she really missed home and those waiting for her there.
Estrella had once been Chloe's personal maid, but after Chloe's death the young maid had taken a more general role in the Swann Residence. It allowed her to go in and out without anyone really noticing, to stay in the background, and coupled with her loyalty to the family, those qualities were exactly why Lois had chosen her for the task at hand.
Lois took a sip of her tea as Cutler spoke with that cut-throat, Ian Mercer. She was being forced to spend more and more time with him as they neared the end of their scandalously quick engagement, already the wedding was merely days away and she was about to lose her mind.
Serving Cutler and Mercer the biscuits Cutler had snappingly ordered her to get them, Estrella turned to Lois and smiled. "It is a beautiful day outside, is it not, Miss Lois?"
Swallowing her gulp of tea, Lois smiled with a nod. "It is."
"Clear, beautiful skies," Estrella droned on with a smile on her face, the maid's presence already forgotten by Cutler and his minion. "I even saw a butterfly on my way here." Estrella's body was relaxed, her expression normal, but it was her eyes which held Lois'. "Beautiful thing, that. I mentioned it to the butcher's wife and she said they have been appearing more and more, especially around dusk. That's an odd timing for butterflies, do you not think, miss?"
"Yes… I would imagine." Lois could barely keep her voice from squeaking. "Thank you, Estrella, that will be all for now."
Bobbing into a curtsy, Estrella nodded. "Of course, miss." And with that she left the room.
Lois took a much longer sip of her tea and tried to contain the excitement bubbling up within her.
It was happening.
Will had been having a lot of issues holding in his temper, his true feelings, while watching Chloe and James Norrington, but never had he been as shocked or as angry or as jealous or as hurt as he was at that moment as he watched the two cross blades. He could see from Chloe's stance, from her change in technique, that they'd been training for a while now. Norrington had most definitely been teaching her everything he knew.
Sword training had been Will's and Chloe's thing, and yet like in almost every other way, James Norrington had stepped in and supplanted him. Was there nothing sacred? And why would Norrington teach Chloe to fight anyway? The man had always been the type to believe a woman should be protected by the males of her family, so why would he change his ideology so profoundly as this? Norrington wasn't doing this to humor Chloe, no, whenever she made a mistake she paid for it, and Norrington scolded her, almost angrily, almost desperately.
It was almost as if he was truly training her to save her life with these skills, and each time she failed against him it scared Norrington.
"Is it me, or is yonder former Commodore not at all mourning the loss of his affianced?" Jack came to stand next to Will, his voice completely innocent, which meant he was definitely up to something. "And damsel fair is quite taken with him as well." He sidled Will with a sidelong look which was probably meant to portray concern, but only managed to look amused. "One wonders, if she held the compass, in which direction the arrow would point."
Will clenched his fists and didn't look away from them, didn't acknowledge Jack's words or the truth behind them. What if it was too late? What if the year Will had wasted aboard the Black Pearl had been enough for Norrington to get his head out of his ass and realize that Chloe was the right Swann for him? Chloe had once told Will that she would never be second place to her sister, and yet look at her. She was clearly growing closer and closer to Norrington, visibly relied on him.
Chloe had yet to tell anyone as to why she was on the Black Pearl, had mumbled that she'd missed life on the sea and was interested on a little jaunt out, but if Norrington was here it was more than that. It meant Norrington knew exactly why Chloe was on the Black Pearl, and it was dangerous. He was here, he was training her with more urgency and forcefulness than he would anyone actually under his command, because he was preparing her for something.
And why did she feel Norrington was more trustworthy than her own sister to know the truth?
"You have gotten so much better!" Lucy praised as she neared them.
Chloe, covered in sweat, breathing heavily and cheeks red from the exertion, grinned up happily at her sister. "I have had many good teachers." Her gaze shifted onto James, who didn't look even a quarter as out of breath as her. "And my last one is a hellish taskmaster."
Norrington raised an eyebrow. "I will choose to take that as a compliment."
"Do so if it makes you feel better," Chloe teased.
Norrington outright grinned at that before he shook his head and his gaze fell on Lucy. "Would you care for a spar? Chloe tells me you are quite accomplished with a blade."
Lucy's eyes widened in shock. "You wish to spar with me?" She narrowed her eyes suddenly. "An honest to god spar?"
Norrington twirled his blade in his hand. "It would be an insult to you otherwise."
Slowly but surely a smile lifted Lucy's lips as she yanked her own blade out. "En guard!"
Chloe sheathed her own sword, and not for the first time Will realized it wasn't the one he'd made for her. It was much weaker, inferior one, and the fact that he'd hurt her enough that she had thrown away the gift she had openly treasured…
When Chloe moved off to the side to give Norrington and Lucy the deck to spar (the sailors watching as well since the Pearl was anchored for the night) Will left Jack's presence without a fair-thee-well and made his way through the crowd towards her. The sound of blades clashing was a beautiful sound, it meant that, even if for a couple of minutes Norrington's attention was elsewhere.
They'd been sailing for a couple of days now, and this was the first time Will could get Chloe to himself. He wasn't going to allow that opportunity to go to waste.
She didn't look surprised by his suddenly appearance at her side, had she been watching him approach out of the corner of her eyes?
"Hello Will." She smiled awkwardly at him, not quite meeting his eyes.
He took in a deep breath. "May I speak to you, in private?"
"In private?" She still wouldn't meet his gaze. "That is quite improper, do you not think?"
"I do not care."
She finally met his gaze at that, her greens a little shocked and very intrigued as she offered him her arm. "Let us take a stroll around the deck."
If Will hadn't been so nervous he would've laughed at how formal that sounded. Instead he curled her arm around his and walked her around the other end of the Pearl, where it was deserted thanks to everyone enjoying the sparring on the other end. When they reached the opposite end Chloe slipped free from him, robbing him of her touch as she leaned against the railing, her gaze out at the peaceful sea.
"This is as private as it will get aboard a vessel." She would not look away from the sea.
Taking that as his cue, Will joined her, his gaze on the dark waters as well. "When I told you in Port Royal that we should end our relationship, it was at the behest of your father."
Chloe's head swung to face him sharply. "What?"
"Earlier that night Governor Swann came to the smithy and asked me to free you so that you could go to live with his sister, where you would be safe. We both realized that we could not protect you. As long as you were by the sea something might happen – pirates, mermaids – and the best way either of us could protect you was to let go." Will's grip on the railing tightened as he turned to face her, to stare into her wide green eyes. "I lied to you that night because I thought it was the only way I could keep you safe, could make sure you lived a happy life protected from the dangers the Caribbean continued to thrust upon you." He needed her to understand, to know that he had not meant a single word he'd told her that night. "When I heard that your vessel had been attacked by pirates, that you'd died in a subsequent fire, the only reason I did not…" he took in a deep breath. "I was sure you would come back to us like you had before, and I promised myself that I would marry you the moment you did."
Chloe was silent, staring at him in open shock.
"But no matter how many nights I spent at your grave, begging for you to return to us, you never did." He took in a deep breath. "I had to leave Port Royal because your memory was engrained in every nook and cranny and I would have gone insane from grief had a I stayed there."
Taking in a deep, wavering breath, Chloe exhaled it loudly. She was clearly startled, confused, and didn't know how to process or take what he had just told her. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because, while I once promised myself to allow you to be with Norrington should he smarten up and see what was always before him... being without you for a year proved to me that I cannot, will not, let you go without a fight." He moved closer, his gaze burning into her. "Not again."
Chloe seemed to be having problems breathing, her eyes wide, her bosom rising and falling with erratic breaths. She seemed perplexed, scared, hopeful, confused, so many things at the same time as she opened and closed her mouth wordlessly. His declaration had left her speechless, and he didn't think he'd ever accomplished that fact before. It both gave him hope and terrified him.
He moved closer, and when she moved back away from him to lean hard against the railing he followed her there, his hands gripping the railing on each side of her body, barely a breath between them as he leaned down, his gaze never leaving hers.
For her part, Chloe gripped the railing behind her and kept opening and closing her mouth, little squeaks emerging (but no actual words) as a flush rose up her neck.
"When we leave this ship I will make you another sword, a much better one than the one you have now." He realized that his tone made that almost seem like a threat, and it hit him just how much it bothered him that she wasn't using the sword he'd crafted especially for her. "It will be even better than the last one I made, you will never be able to part with it willingly." Again, it almost sounded like a threat, and he wondered just how much of the Black Pearl's crew's pirating ways had actually rubbed off on him while he wasn't paying attention.
"I did not," Chloe whispered, gaze on his chin resolutely, as if unable to look him in the eyes any longer. "…part with it willingly, I mean."
Will's eyes narrowed.
Chloe took in a deep breath. "When The Wanderer was attacked by pirates I fought them off but someone hit me from behind, and when I awoke in the captain's bed my sword was no where to be found."
"In his bed." Something inside of Will roared, and yet another part of him was terrified. What had happened to her with those pirates? Also, she'd been kidnapped a third time. That was horrifying and scared him greatly. What was it about Chloe that made all sorts of things just take her?
"I escaped soon after," she whispered. "I jumped out of the window into the sea. There was no land close by but I finally made it to the island where I have been living ever since."
He felt his stomach plummet. "How did you get to shore? That is an impossible swim."
Her lips twitched. "Would you believe me if I said sea turtles?"
He wasn't sure that he did. That sounded a lot like Jack's stories of escape. Sea turtles, it was always sea turtles… and yet… Chloe wasn't Jack, was she? "Sea turtles."
She smiled. "Yes, sea turtles." She didn't explain it more, just left it at that. Her smile fell. "Please do not tell Lucy, she is worried enough as it is. That incident happened a year ago and I never saw the pirates or their captain ever again. Everything is fine now, but if she knew about the incident she would be worried and would not go back to her own life, she would just worry about me and I do not want that."
He nodded silently and wondered if this was part of the reason why Chloe was not confiding in them yet was in Norrington.
"She has a good life, one she enjoys, one she loves." Chloe's smile went tender. "She has a good thing with Giselle and the Captain's Bride, and there is no way that I will ever come in the middle of that." Her gaze went wistful. "Very few of us will ever have the privilege of being as happy as her – or having everything we want and love." She then cleared her throat and slipped out from under Will's trapping arms, giving him her back as she once more peered out into the sea. "This is not the life I envisioned for you, William."
He joined her, elbows rested on the railing, gaze on her face. "What life did you envision for me?"
"You owned your own smithy in Port Royal and had put Mr Brown out of business," she informed him as-a-matter-of-factly. "You received commissions from all across the Caribbean because your work was so renowned." She ran her hand over the railing. "You were married to a village girl and expecting a child, whom you would name William yet call Billy, after your father."
He gulped. "I see." He'd envisioned that life for him once, but instead of a village girl Chloe had been the one round with his child.
"Will, I have spent a whole year with your goodbye in my ears." She licked her lips. "I understand why you did it, I do now, but that does not change the fact that this year I have done my utmost not to love you anymore."
He kept quiet, knowing whether or not he wanted to hear this, he needed to.
"So much has changed, we are different people now in different circumstances." She wrung her hands together nervously. "I do not know whether the person I am now could be the wife of Port Royal's renowned blacksmith."
"I do not know whether the person I am now could become Port Royal's renowned blacksmith," Will admitted. "I do not know whether I want to be."
She glanced up at him, perturbed. "That has all you have ever wanted to be."
"Because that was all I knew I could accomplish in Port Royal," he responded truthfully. "I am of lowly birth with hardly any schooling, no family, and no training but that with the forge. A blacksmith is all I could ever aspire to be, the only thing of merit I could accomplish with what was dealt to me in my life. It was never my passion." He didn't think he'd ever actually admitted this to anyone. "In truth, while I do enjoy crafting, it is the time and access to so many different blades that I truly enjoyed. I could teach myself to fight with so many types of blades…" He smiled self-depreciatively. "I suppose it was the pirate in me showing itself in the only way it could."
"You never told me this," she whispered.
"I never told anyone," he responded just as softly.
She tilted her head as she observed him thoughtfully. "Do you enjoy the life of a pirate?"
"No." It was swift and sure and utterly genuine. "Having the odd adventure is nice to take the dull edge off of mundane life, but to make this one's life?" He shook his head. "And not every pirate crew is like Jack's. For many of them 'raid, pillage and plunder' is actually 'rape, pillage and plunder'." He made up his face in disgust. "The thought of living like this, on the seas, amongst those sorts of people, for the rest of my life… it is truly disheartening." Will shot her a quick look. "How about you? Do you enjoy life as the goddess of an island?"
She eyed him for a moment in silence before she chuckled and glanced back to the sea. "James is worried they will burn me at the stake should anything go wrong on the island."
"That is a valid fear," Will hated to admit.
Chloe didn't seem to agree. "They seem to believe, for some reason, that I bring in the fish. They would not risk losing them again. They need the fish too badly."
This wasn't the first time Will had seen this, and he wondered if Chloe was being purposely obtuse. There was something about her that did bring in the fish. This was the second time a whole island had taken to thinking of her as some heathen deity. The Chloe he knew wouldn't brush that off as coincidence, so that meant that either she truly had changed during the last year – or she knew something and was not planning on sharing.
His guess was the latter.
"I like my home," Chloe admitted softly. "I like the island, the people. It lacks the refinery of Port Royal, or the liveliness of Tortuga, but in its own way it is perfect. People help each other there. Ernest and his mother will look after Starfish and Jack for me while I am gone, Seamus promised James he'd make sure my place did not fall into disrepair, Angus, superstitious old man though he may be…" She paused and didn't finish whatever it was Angus had done or was going to do. "I plan on returning there." Her smile returned. "I like my life, my home, my cove." She frowned. "I miss my cove." Her frown grew. "I miss a lot of things, actually." She rubbed her arms and peered at the sea.
Will eyed her intently. "Do you miss me?"
She closed her eyes and took in a deep, stuttered breath, her voice thick with emotion when she whispered: "Of course I do, Will." With that she pushed away from the railing and walked away, back towards where the others were.
Will watched her leave, his voice barely above a whisper: "I miss you too."