Category: pre-slash, romance, humour, wee bit of angst and rude first lieutenant
Pairings: Norrington/Gillette hinted. Beckett wouldn't mind some Gillette.
Feedback: most welcome. Good or bad.
Beta: the wonderful Eveiya
Summary: While Will and Norrington were marooned on a desert island ("Without Fail"), life continued in Port Royal. Lord Cutler Beckett and Mr. Mercer discuss Thomas Gillette and love.
Author's note: "Carpe diem" = seize the day.
"And why, if I may ask, am I the last one to hear this news, Mr. Mercer? Who do these people think I am, the stable boy? Get me Gillette, immediately!"
"I will see to it, my lord. Please calm down. Maybe it's only a rumour, you know what sailors are like," Mercer tried to placate his lord.
"Only a rumour? A rumour coming with bells, whistles and precise coordinates? But certainly! Miss Swann was bored and felt in the mood for a little joke! I want to see Gillette here in one minute!"
Mercer hurried to get out of Lord Cutler Beckett's reach. The lord hardly ever lost his temper, but when it happened, it wasn't a nice thing to witness. Right now he stood behind his desk like a vengeful god of old, fretting and fuming, the veins on his temples standing out.
"Yes, my lord. Immediately, my lord."
As soon as Mercer had left the room, Cutler Beckett sank back into his seat and rubbed his temples. It wasn't a joke, of course. James Norrington was alive, which was bad, but on the other hand, Will Turner wasn't dead, which was good. He still had Jack Sparrow's compass, and there was nothing Lord Cutler Beckett coveted more at the moment than that broken navigation aid.
Well, maybe with the exception of Elizabeth Swann's head on a plate.
That wretched wench. Sending a message to Thomas Gillette, of all people! Any hope of sweeping the news of Norrington's survival under the carpet was crushed with that act. Of course that lunatic of a lieutenant had immediately given orders to man the Joyful Molly and save his precious captain.
Well. It couldn't be helped. Norrington was alive; that state didn't have to remain a permanent one. For now, he had to deal with Gillette and try to get as much information out of him as possible. Maybe he had lowered his guard upon hearing the 'good' news? It was worth a try. And any attempt would have a greater prospect of success if it was supported by profound arguments.
Cutler Beckett opened the drawer of his desk, pushed the papers aside and felt around in the back lefthand corner. A quick push, and a secret compartment opened. He had found it by accident the drafts for love-letters written by Norrington to Elizabeth Swann had amused him greatly. Now the compartment hosted profound arguments in the form of tiny sachets. He pulled one out, held it up to the light to make sure the powder it contained had the right colour for the intended purpose, then closed the drawer again.
The carafe of wine stood nearby. Cutler Beckett reached for it and emptied the contents of the sachet into it, then swirled the carafe gently to dissolve the powder. He sniffed perfect. No smell, and the colour hadn't changed, either. He had only just put the carafe back in its place when somebody knocked on the door.
Cutler Beckett leaned back in his chair, his face now calm as usual, not a trace of the previous storm to be seen.
"Come in," he called in his usual lazy, bored tone, and immediately, Mr. Mercer entered, Lt. Gillette in tow. The man looked less than pleased to be here, but at least he had come without forcing him to have him dragged to his office in irons.
Cutler Beckett clapped his hands.
"What wonderful news, Mr. Gillette! Dear Captain Norrington alive and well, and young Mr. Turner, too! Who'd have thought that this drama would have such a happy ending!"
"I would," Gillette said. "I never doubted for a moment that Commodore Norrington would return."
"Yes, you held to your belief. My respects, Mr. Gillette. I'm a man who can admit his mistakes, so I must apologise for my negative approach. I hope you will forgive me; in return I won't take any action against you for withholding that information from me and giving orders to man a ship. It might have slipped your notice, Mr. Gillette, but you're a lieutenant, not an admiral."
Gillette wanted to protest, but Cutler Beckett cut him off with a bright smile.
"No need to get upset, my dear Mr. Gillette. Of course I understand your excitement. And I'm the last one to hold you back from your noble mission."
"Thank you, my lord," Gillette replied. Cutler Beckett heard the suspicion in his voice, but also his relief.
"Now before you head off to bring the two men back, I wish to know if this was all the information you received, Mr. Gillette."
"Yes, my lord. I received a message that Commodore Norrington and Will Turner were marooned on an island by Captain Jack Sparrow. There were also the coordinates."
"Ah, I see. And how do you know it was Miss Swann who sent said message? We must be sure this is not a trap, you understand."
"The man who brought the message is reliable, my lord."
"I see well then: off you go to bring them back."
Cutler Beckett filled two glasses with wine, offering one to Gillette, who took it hesitantly.
"A toast is in order, I believe. To Captain Norrington!"
Gillette lifted his glass as well.
"To the commodore," he muttered, and emptied the glass in one go, eager to leave this place and set sail.
The wine was heady. Gillette could drink most men under the table, so he was a little surprised that he felt dizzy after only one glass. He swayed and had to lean on the desk.
"Good grief, Mr. Gillette, what's the matter? Are you not feeling well? You look so pale!"
Gillette heard Cutler Beckett's voice, but he didn't understand the words. He felt as if he were on deck during a heavy storm; then his legs wobbled and refused to support him any longer. He tried to steady himself but fell backwards. Luckily, the ever-helpful Mr. Mercer caught him in his fall.
"I understand he had a glass of your special wine, my lord?" Mercer inquired. The reply was a smug smile.
"Indeed. As much as I pride myself on my charms, I doubt they'd have been sufficient to make Mr. Gillette faint. Gentlemen, please help Mr. Mercer to guide Mr. Gillette to my apartments."
The EITC guards present, who had witnessed such scenes before, hurried to obey Lord Cutler Beckett's order. Followed by the lord and Mr. Mercer, they carried the half-conscious lieutenant away, placed him on a sofa and left.
"Alone at last. Now this should be interesting, Mr. Mercer. I wonder if Mr. Gillette told us the truth."
Mercer rolled his eyes.
"With all due respect, my lord you'd have done that even if you'd known with absolute safety that he hadn't held anything back."
Cutler Beckett laughed.
"Ah, you know me all too well, Mr. Mercer! Indeed, how could I let this chance pass me by? Once our esteemed Mr. Norrington is back, the opportunity is not likely to occur again; Mr. Gillette will be all over him like the powder on his wig."
He pulled up a chair and sat down next to the sofa. Gillette's head lolled on the cushions.
"Well now, Mr. Gillette. Are you resting comfortably?"
Gillette muttered something incomprehensible.
"I take it that means 'yes'. Good, good. Now tell me, who brought you the message from Miss Swann?"
"Jeremiah," Gillette drawled.
"Jeremiah I see. Did you hear that, Mr. Mercer? Our brave lieutenant here relies on pirates for information."
Mercer shook his head in disapproval.
"Indeed. I wonder what else we'll learn. Mr. Gillette, did the note say anything about the compass? Captain Jack Sparrow's compass?"
Gillette shook his head lazily.
"No compass, dunno, only 'bout James."
Cutler Beckett clicked his tongue.
"So it's 'James' now? Quite a nonchalant way of addressing your captain, Mr. Gillette."
"Yes, yes, I know, commodore then if it pleases you."
Gillette shifted in his doze.
"What are we going to do with Mr. Gillette now, my lord? We can't keep him here."
Cutler Beckett pulled on his cuffs to straighten them.
"We could undress him and put him in my bed. It would be most amusing to see his reaction upon awakening in the morning."
"My lord, it would only be amusing if we could make sure his first reaction wasn't to strangle you."
"Too true. He'd either strangle me or clobber me over the head with a candlestick, that would be more his style. How regrettable. Dear James Norrington has no idea what he's missing."
"Must go," Gillette murmured. "James waitin'."
Cutler Beckett shook his head, sighing deeply.
"Now isn't this a tragedy, Mr. Mercer. Can there be a more bothersome thing than unrequited love?"
"If you wouldn't know that, my lord, who would? Though I don't quite see what's so special about this gentleman."
"Mr. Mercer, you never see what's special about anybody. Have you never been in love or at least in lust?"
Mercer shook his head emphatically.
"Absolutely not, my lord. I came to the conclusion very early on in my life that love and lust are responsible for 99% of mankind's problems."
"Ah, has some fair maiden broken your heart? Or maybe a lovely young lad?"
"Oh please, my lord, you should know me better. Neither nor. I'm simply not inclined either way."
"I do see the logic in your conclusions, Mr. Mercer, but not the fun. I decided very early on that restricting my experiences to one gender only would be a terrible waste. But we're getting philosophical now. Let's take care that Mr. Gillette here is taken to his ship, so he may go and reintroduce the bubonic plague to Port Royal. Wait, I wish to keep a trophy. Mr. Mercer, the scissors, please."
Mr. Mercer fetched the required item, and Cutler Beckett cut off a lock of Gillette's hair. Then he handed both scissors and 'trophy' to his factotum.
"Please store this in a safe place, Mr. Mercer. One never knows when it might come in handy."
Gillette suddenly grabbed his hand and blinked at him.
Cutler Beckett, never one to miss an opportunity to cause confusion, bent to whisper in Gillette's ear.
"It's quite right, Thomas. It's only I, James."
He chuckled, but that came to an abrupt end when Gillette let go of his hand, wrapped an arm around his neck and pulled him down. Before the lord could say another word, Gillette kissed him. He did so with remarkable enthusiasm for a man in his state, leaving Lord Cutler Beckett's head spinning just as much as his victim's. Nice. Very nice. Maybe he should
"My lord. My lord!"
Mercer's voice pulled him out of his dwam. Cutler Beckett drew back, shaking his head. He licked his lips and looked down at Gillette.
"So that's how you would kiss him what a pity he'll never be able to appreciate it."
He sat up, smoothed his wig and tried to recover his poise.
"Well one more reason to dispose of Captain Norrington."
"Comm'dore," came the muffled protest from Gillette.
"Oh, for goodness' sake! And you might as well wipe that grin off your face, Mr. Mercer. You're not paid to smirk!"
Mr. Mercer put on a straight face immediately, for he was indeed paid generously for his services.
* * *
Back to "In Absentia: Fluctuat nec mergitur"
|IN ABSENTIA: "CARPE DIEM"
by Molly Joyful