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.
Lois Swann had used the scabbard of the sword her father wore at his hip (merely for decorative purposes) and knocked out the 'protection detail' inside of the carriage. Her father and sister had been, not surprisingly, surprised and concerned, especially when she proceeded to scream bloody murder, which caused the carriage to come to a halt. The second Cutler's other man opened the door to the carriage he was greeted with a blow from the scabbard to his face and he collapsed as well. He wasn't completely out for the count, but Lois knocked him out with another blow to the back of his head.
"What the devil is going on here?" Her father asked, eyes wide. He'd been all up for a ride with only his daughters when Lois had suggested it. The fact that Cutler Beckett had installed himself in the house and liked to lord his higher position and greater power, as well as always had a "protective detail" (aka his spies and the Swann family's jailers) always with them no matter where they went had been vexing on her father's nerves.
"Grab the bags under the seats," Lois ordered as she grabbed one and yanked on the cloak she'd placed on top of hers. "We are leaving Port Royal, now."
Lana's eyes widened. She didn't ask any questions, merely reached under her seat and pulled out a bag and a cloak. "Cutler has eyes on every ship in the dock, how are we to escape?"
The sound of horses caused both Lana and father to freeze, but Lois smiled and jumped out to find Marcus White approaching on horseback, his own cloak on, two horsemen trailing behind.
"Marcus?" Lana's voice was soft yet shocked as she eased out of the carriage.
He reached his hand out to her. "No time to explain, Miss Lana."
She handed him the bag (which he secured to his saddlebag) and then accepted his help, landing behind him on the saddle and gripping his waist tightly.
Lois was already up behind one of the other men, and her father, very flabbergasted, stumbled up behind the third. As soon as he was mounted the three men took off, using the cover of dusk and the back alleys. The horses raced like crazy, taking their riders to a beach familiar to Lois and Lana. It was the same beach they'd said goodbye to Lucy on.
A small rowboat awaited them on the beach, ready to take them to the ship hidden behind the same rocks the Pearl had been hidden behind that night. 'Think like Jack' had really helped Lois more than she'd initially thought it would.
Dismounting, Lois hurried to the rowboat and flung her bag inside before she turned to find Lana dismounted next to Marcus. He cupped Lana's face and spoke to her softly. Father stumbled off of the steed and thanked one of the men when they came and got the bag for him. He looked utterly bewildered, his wig askew.
Despite wanting to give Lana and Marcus time to say goodbye she knew it was safer for him if she cut it short. So she went towards them. "Thank you Marcus, we could not have done this without your help."
Marcus' hand dropped from Lana's cheek and he turned to Lois with a smile and a dip of his head. "Anything to get your family out from that man's clutches."
"What if he discovers you helped us?" Lana's voice trembled in worry. "Marcus, he will punish you."
"He will not find out," Marcus promised her. "I have never made my distaste for that rat known, he believes me a firm supporter." He reached for her hand, his gaze on hers. "When it is safe I will come for you."
Lana flushed, and the sight shocked Lois. This was the first time she'd actually seen Lana react so naturally in front of Marcus. "Be safe, Marcus. Promise me this. If you get hurt I will never forgive you."
Marcus' smile was soft, tender, loving. "I promise."
Lana looked worried, horribly so. She searched his face before pressing up on her tiptoes and pressing a quick and chaste kiss to his lips. "Thank you."
Father's mouth parted in scandal at this improper behavior on her part.
Marcus was the most shocked though. His eyes were wide and his face suddenly crimson. "Y-you are, uh," he cleared his throat rapidly, "welcome." He cleared his throat once more. "You must go." He turned his gaze to Lois as well, the man still crimson. "You all must."
Lois nodded and grabbed Lana's hand, taking the girl (who was clutching her bag) and escorting her to the rowboat. Their father thanked the men, eyed Marcus (muttered a "You had better marry her after that" – which only served to make Marcus blush harder) and then followed them as well. The second he was in the sailors set off towards the hidden ship.
Lana watched Marcus as he grew smaller and smaller with distance.
Marcus watched Lana.
As soon as they were on the ship, their things being taken to their quarters, the ship sailed off.
Lana griped the railing and still watched the beach until it was so far away nothing was distinguishable.
Father, instead, watched Lois. "You planned this."
She tore her gaze from Lana and turned those hazels on him instead. "Yes."
He tilted his head, studying her. "So when I came to you that night during your engagement ball-."
"Ian Mercer was listening," she responded softly.
Understanding crossed his face. "But why did you not tell me afterwards?"
"The less people who knew, the better," Lois admitted. "The only way Beckett was going to believe that I was going to go through with marrying him was if everyone else believed the same. He'd pick up on it otherwise."
Father stared at her, almost as if he didn't recognize her, and then he smiled tiredly. "Lucy would be proud."
Lois smiled back at him.
Patting her shoulder, father sighed. "I will retire to my cabin. It will be a long trip, but I need to be rested for when we return to England." With that he left.
Lois felt a little guilty as she watched him go.
"When do you plan on telling him we are not headed towards England?" Lana wanted to know softly from behind her.
Lois glanced over her shoulder at her sister, who now stood facing her. "How did you know?"
"England is not safe, not when Beckett has the king's ear," Lana replied easily. "The safest bet would be to go to someplace where the king's command cannot reach us, somewhere where we have allies who would be willing to take us in and hide us for an undetermined period of time."
Lois smiled as she realized that Lana truly had seen through her. "How do you think father will react when he realizes our final destination is Tortuga?"
Despite it all, Lana smiled as she hugged herself and joined her sister's side. "I cannot begin to imagine."
Slipping an arm around Lana's shoulders, Lois sighed. "Yeah, neither can I."
Chloe emerged from the dark water with a refreshed gulp of air. Her hair stuck to her face and fanned around her in the water, and the moonlight highlighted the absolute delight on her expression as she moved closer to where James stood perched on the rope ladder he'd thrown down so they could descend without attracting attention from those sleeping aboard the Black Pearl.
"I needed this so badly." Chloe swam towards him, looking much better than she had after days of not indulging in her nightly routine. "You must be in pain though from staying there for so long."
His body was a bit stiff, but it wasn't anything he could not handle. "I am fine."
"James, you must not put yourself out for me," she responded in a scolding tone as she reached the ladder. Instead of starting a climb she merely smiled up at him. "I can come without your supervision."
"And risk what happened the last time you went out without me?" James snorted. "I think not."
"That happened once," she reminded petulantly, like a child. It was adorable. "You cannot continue to hold that against me."
"I can and I will," he informed her. "So stop complaining and enjoy your jaunt while you still can. It will soon be dawn and the men will be out and about readying for the day's voyage."
She frowned at him. "That is why I worry. You will be tired. You spend all day doing ship work and all night making sure I do not get attacked by some creature. James. You are merely human, your body can not take such endless tasks as the ones you assign to yourself."
"I am strong enough to handle this," he assured her.
Chloe stared up at him in silence before she suddenly reached up and yanked, hard, on his leg.
Not expecting the attack, and body stiff, James slipped and tumbled into the water, which drowned the sound of his squeak before he could even make it. In seconds he'd surfaced and gulped in air as he wiped the water from his eyes. He gaped at Chloe, finding her grinning unrepentantly at him. "Why did you do that for?"
"This is better than you straining your body staying on the ladder, is it not?" She giggled. "I have been tempted to pull you into the water for weeks now."
"You know that most predators hunt at night, correct?" He raised an eyebrow at her as he kicked his legs to stay afloat. "And that we are in very deep, very dark water so it will be harder to see a shark's approach?"
"You know that you worry too much, correct?" she had the gall to counter. "You are with me, I will protect you."
His eyes widened and he laughed at her brazen cheek. "You do realize that you are not actually the goddess of the sea, correct?"
"You do know that I probably belong to her, correct?" she once more countered. "She protects me from the dangers of the sea."
"She does not protect me," he deadpanned.
"No, but I do," she repeated. "I will not let anything bad happen to you."
James stared at Chloe in silence at that. He didn't know how to answer, especially not when he realized she was completely serious. Finally, he settled on: "I am here to protect you."
"Are you?" She asked softly. "I have protection on this ship, you know that no one here would allow me to get hurt." She leaned with her back against the Black Pearl. "You did not have to come here, to be among the sort of people you despise."
James once more wasn't sure how to answer that.
Chloe bit her bottom lip, her gaze lowered. "Will told me that he only ended our courtship because of my father's interference. He said that he believed it better for me, for my protection, and that is why he ended it when he did. I believe he still loves me."
Feeling himself go cold all over, James bit the inside of his mouth to keep his initial response from being blurted out. Instead, he nodded. "I know. He alluded to as much his first night on the island."
She looked up at him in shock. "Why did you not tell me? Why keep quiet on this matter when you knew how I felt?"
"It was because I know how you feel that I stayed silent," he admitted, shame battling other emotions inside of him and losing.
"I do not understand," Chloe whispered, and really, why would she understand? It was all James' fault that she didn't!
Taking in a deep breath, James rose his blue eyes to meet her greens. "I have told you once already, I am not a gentleman, not a good person."
She shook her head. "That is not tr-!"
Even he was surprised by how quickly he'd moved, his palms splayed against the Black Pearl on either side of Chloe's head, their bodies close, incredibly, improperly so. He shifted them slightly, so that he gripped onto the rope ladder behind her.
Chloe froze, eyes wide. She gripped his shirt to help keep afloat as their proximity kept her from being able to kick, because otherwise they'd accidentally kick each other.
James stared down into Chloe's upturned, moonlit face. "I am not a good man, Chloe, I never have been. I have told you this already."
Chloe's breaths were erratic, her eyes impossibly wide. "What does Lana have to do with any of this?"
"Nothing," he responded, voice lower. "She never has."
That confusion continued to fill those greens. "James, you cannot speak in riddles to me, I do not under-!"
He didn't realize he was kissing her until she whimpered against his lips. James had for many years wondered what Chloe Ann Swann tasted like, and it was better than he'd ever imagined. For so long he'd held himself back, although, to be truthful, at first he hadn't noticed his feelings changing towards the blonde daughter of Governor Swann, and that was probably for the best given their age difference. He'd met, and grown to surprisingly enough quite enjoy her presence while accompanying her and her family to Port Royal on that maiden voyage. It was a friendship he'd learnt to treasure more and more with each passing day.
Chloe pushed softly on his chest and he let her separate them an inch or so. "James," she whispered. "I will not be second best, or the consolation prize." Her greens held his blues with sharp intensity. "I will not be the Swann sister who was chosen because the one you truly want does not return your feelings."
He was scared, truly scared, for the first time in a long time. "You have never been second best to me, Chloe. You would definitely never be considered a consolation prize." His heart raced nervously. "Lana was."
Chloe stilled. "What are you saying?"
James took in a deep breath. "The evening I told you I was considering courting someone who I had admired for years… I was speaking of you."
Chloe couldn't have looked more shocked if he'd hit her. He figured that must've been how he'd looked that night on the beach when she'd told him she'd been in love with him for years. "That cannot be true! You have always watched Lana!"
"I have watched over her, but not with the eye of a lover," James admitted. "Unlike you and your sisters, Lana is fragile, and gives off the air of naivety, of being unable to fend for, or care for, herself. It awakened brotherly concern in me." He breathed out loudly. "I never realized you would take notice of it and misunderstand my feelings for her."
Chloe's breathing was loud. "Why did you not correct my misunderstanding that night?"
He thought back to that night, to the hurt and resignation he'd felt when she'd told him she supported his desire to court her sister. "You stopped me before I could finish declaring my desire to court you. I believed it was your way of gently rejecting my suit, of keeping our friendship intact." His gaze lowered to the necklace he'd given her, one she'd never taken off, not even while being courted by William Turner. "I only courted Lana because I could not court you. It was wrong, reprehensible, but I told myself I could learn to love her one day - that I would always treat her with kindness and respect - it was the only way I could justify my actions to myself. I thought I could be happy with you as my sister, but I realized quite soon afterwards what a fool I had been, how I had deluded myself in my desperation. The reason I told you once that I had treated you wrong was because I realized that I should not have given up so easily, should not have been such a coward, should have finished my confession no matter what... That I should not have done I could do to hide my love for you like I did to protect myself from hurt at your potential further rejection."
Chloe stared up at him in utter speechlessness.
"But I never truly gave up hope," he admitted softly. "I came to you over and over, asked you opinions on what I should get her, on how best to woo her, all with the intention of hopefully seeing something on your face which would betray that maybe you had changed your mind – that you reciprocated my feelings – that you did not want me as your brother – but each and every time you smiled so brightly at me and gave me so much support…" he trailed off at the memory, unable to understand how two people who had cared so much about each other could be so blind about how the other truly felt. "I never realized the truth to your feelings until that night on the beach, when you told confessed them to me." His throat tightened with repressed emotion. "I have never wanted to cry as much as I did that night."
Realization hit Chloe visibly as tears slid silently down her cheeks.
"When things ended with Miss Lana I was so relieved not to marry her anymore because I had realized that I could not marry her, but I had not wanted to shame her publicly by ending the engagement, especially when I had proposed with such intentions. I was filled with guilt, but I was also elated, because it meant... but then you told me of your courtship with Mr Turner and it felt like I had been stabbed in the gut. I reread that letter over and over again, trying to accept it, but I could not. My shame, my failure at capturing Sparrow weighed on me, but it was nothing compared to the realization that I could have truly lost you." Just the memory hurt. He'd realized then and there just how much of an idiot he'd been to believe he could be this woman's brother. "When I came to your house that night I came to confess my feelings, but I looked in your eyes and you told me you loved him." The pain of the moment was still stark in him. "I had to leave Port Royal, I could not stay and watch you marry him, watch you become his wife."
A stuttered breath escaped her lips.
James moved back in slowly, giving her more than ample opportunity to push him away. If she did he'd move immediately, but Chloe's hands remained clutched at his shirt and she did nothing to stop him as he kissed her. It took a couple of seconds, but her mouth slowly moved with his and her grip on his shirt tightened, pulling him closer.
Something inside of James cried out in happiness but while he wanted to kiss her longer, deeper, he didn't want to push her. He made to pull away... only for his eyes to fly open in surprise when she yanked him back to her and tilted her head, effectively taking control of the kiss and deepening it. He might've made a very unmanly sound at the unexpectedness of it all, but within seconds he completely forgot as his mind blanked and he found himself forgetting they were in the middle of the ocean, probably surrounded by hungry sharks, and leaning up against a pirate ship filled with damnable pirate scum.
Gripping the ladder behind Chloe tighter, James followed her lead and kissed her harder, allowing the hunger he'd held on for so long to be loosened. Their legs intertwined seconds before the sea rocked and water spurted on them.
They pulled away from each other and turned to see a young whale had surfaced so close by they could practically reach out and touch it. In fact, James did just that, awed.
Chloe swam closer and ran her hands over the whale's skin with a smile on her face. "You are so beautiful."
More whales surfaced a little distance from the others, watching.
Chloe continued to rub down the young whale.
James did as well, unable to believe the beasts were so close to them, the baby having obviously come towards them for attention.
The young whale flapped its tail happily before it dove and returned to where the grownups were. Chloe waved to the creatures seconds before they descended into the depths once more. She turned towards James, grin wide, before a flush appeared once more, crawling up her neck.
He could feel his own face hot.
Silence fell between them as they merely stared at each other.
Chloe was finally the one to break it. "I am very confused. I do not know how I feel about you, about Will, about anything."
He couldn't blame her. This situation with a mysterious Voice, William's presence, James' confession – it was more than enough to have her at odds. "I am very patient."
She stared at him in silence, then swam closer and reached up to press a kiss to his cheek. Without another word she climbed up the ladder back onto the Black Pearl.
James pressed a hand to his cheek, smiled, and then followed after her.