|Overall rating: PG-13 to mild R (depending on chapter)
Genre: slash, hint of het, drama, romance, adventure
Pairings: Norrington/Gillette, Norrington/Elizabeth mentioned, and then there's... eh. Wait and see. ;-)
Other characters: Norrington, Gillette (heh!)
Series: sequel to "LOST AND FOUND"
Warnings: a wee bit of angst, h/c
Very special thanks to Galadhir for beta-reading this chapter.
Feedback: very welcome. Good or bad.
Author's notes: "Cross And Pile" takes place five years after the events in "Lost And Found".
"I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight."
"Dr. Henry! Please come here immediately!"
Upon hearing Admiral Norrington's voice, Dr. Henry quickly left his cot, put on breeches and shirt and hurried to the sickbay.
"Good grief! What has happened, Sir?"
Two men placed a limp figure on one of the cots; in a distance, Dr. Henry could make out the form of a man in a lieutenant's uniform. He squinted and recognised Norrington's son, Jamie.
"Thank you, gentlemen. Take this for your trouble," Norrington said, and handed the two men some coins.
"Our pleasure, Sir."
They made their bows and left.
"Your help is needed, Dr. Henry. The lieutenant here is injured."
The doctor looked down at the young man; he was none of the officers serving aboard HMS Buckthorn.
"Beaten up badly, the poor lad. Has there been an attack?"
"Brawl at a tavern," Admiral Norrington muttered. "You know what young men are like."
"Unfortunately yes," the doctor sighed. "You'd think they'd have enough of this after a battle; why they have to break each other's bones while on shore leave, I'll never understand."
Norrington didn't reply, just looked with great worry at the battered face of Thomas Gillette the younger. The mere thought of Tom being involved in any kind of brawl was ridiculous. Unlike his quick-tempered father, he was very quiet, calm and eager to be on good terms with everybody.
But Norrington couldn't tell the doctor what had really happened.
"There are many things I'll never understand," he said, then turned to his son who looked very angry and upset.
"Jamie, I wish to talk to you in my cabin. Wait there for me."
"I have to..." Jamie began, but his father cut him off.
"I'd say you've done enough," Norrington snapped. "Do as you're told!"
The doctor looked up from his patient, surprised to hear the admiral lashing out at his only son in such a way. He wondered if maybe Lt. Norrington knew more about the incident - he wouldn't have been surprised. When there was trouble, Jamie Norrington was usually right in the middle of it.
"As you wish, Sir," Jamie grumbled and left.
Norrington returned his attention to Tom, who had opened one eye and looked around, a confused expression on his face.
"I'm so sorry..." he murmured. "Where's Jamie? I have to tell him that..."
"That's not important now. Be assured I would have done anything to prevent this from happening if I'd known."
"I deserve it. Everything. So stupid of me... I only wanted to try... oh, my head hurts. And I can't see you well."
"That will pass. Dr. Henry will look after you, and you'll be back on your feet in no time."
"My father... oh God, what will he say..."
"He will understand, Tom. Now stop fretting about it, you should rest."
Tom drifted off into unconsciousness again, and Norrington looked questioningly at Dr. Henry, who frowned and shook his head.
"That eye's lost, Sir. The lieutenant must have been hit hard. Eh, but he still has one left to look at the girls with. Pity, though."
"Yes, a pity," Norrington agreed. "I'll leave Lt. Gillette to you. I have some matters to discuss with my son."
"I'll do all I can, Sir," Dr. Henry assured, and thought to himself that he wouldn't want to be in Jamie Norrington's shoes for the next hour.
* * *
Norrington hit his fist so hard on the table that his writing slope jumped in the air. He grimaced upon the stabbing pain in his hand that he had to suffer as a consequence. Jamie noticed the odd expression on his father's face, but he was too angry to care.
"How could you do such a thing? Is this what we have taught you? To be a traitor to your friends? What on earth were you thinking?"
Jamie paled. Never in his life had his father been so angry with him, and God knew he'd given him enough reason to blow his top during these last years.
"You're very unfair, father! Why, I've done everything to protect his honour! I didn't tell anybody who he was, and..."
"And now you probably even expect him to be grateful for your generosity? Do you have any idea what you've done to Tom? To your best friend?"
"I've saved him from a court martial and kept his name out of it, that's what I did! No, I don't expect anybody to be grateful, but I really don't think I deserve your anger. Better a bit of a beating than the pillory!"
Norrington reached across his table and grasped Jamie by the lapels of his coat.
"A bit of a beating? Do you know that he lost an eye? Not to mention the humiliation!"
Jamie tried to free from his father's grasp, but James Norrington did not let go.
"How was this any of your business in the first place?"
"He was lucky it was me who found him! He broke a bloody Article Of War!"
Norrington suddenly grew tired of the matter and let go of Jamie, who gasped for air.
"The mere thought of Tom breaking an Article Of War is ridiculous."
"I can't believe you're angry with me when it was him who did something so - disgusting! I saw it, I was there! How could I not - it was my duty!"
"Your duty is to use your head. You've lost your best friend, caused him serious harm, and all because of something which was quite possibly nothing but a bet or a misunderstanding!"
"It wasn't," Jamie insisted stubbornly. "There was nothing to misunderstand at all."
The admiral began to pace up and down his cabin.
"It's your good luck you're my son, otherwise Captain Gillette would very likely shoot you."
"If he'd taken better care of his son, this would never have happened in the first place! But that's probably his mother's blood. From all we know, she was..."
Norrington spun around, his face red with anger.
"Don't you dare! One more word, Jamie, and you will receive the first corporal punishment in your life from my hand! Return to your ship and pack your sea chest. You're herewith reassigned to HMS Bilberry; she'll follow us to the West Indies in three weeks, and in Captain Edison, you'll find a like-minded zealot. Until then, I suggest you return home and look after your mother."
Jamie took a step back.
"You can't just send me away like this!"
"I can and I will," Norrington replied firmly. "It might have slipped your attention, lieutenant, but I'm the admiral around here!"
The two men glared at each other. Finally, Jamie sighed and hung his head.
"I really didn't intend this to end in such a way. What will happen to him now? Will there be a court martial?"
Norrington shook his head.
"No. We've lost Lt. Trevor last week. I'll keep Tom here as his replacement."
"Here? As a lieutenant? Now that you know what - what he does?"
Norrington straightened up.
"Should you be unhappy with my orders, I suggest you send a petition to the Admiralty. Who knows, with a bit of luck, they might hang me, and you'll receive a recommendation."
Jamie realised that he had been going too far, and decided to give in for now. He would confide in his mother; she had always managed to arbitrate in disputes between him and his father.
* * *
"I hate him! And I hate Captain Gillette! And most of all, I hate Tom! How could he get me in such a mess in the first place? I can't believe I've been so wrong about him!"
"Stop the ranting, Jamie, and tell me the whole story, right from the beginning," Elizabeth said, trying in vain to mend one of her husband's shirts. She couldn't sew; it was work she usually left for one of the maids, but she found it very comforting to stick the needle in the fabric and imagining it was the backside of Admiral Jenkins' annoying wife.
"The Buckthorn, the Aprium and the Bilberry were waiting for the Aronia to arrive. I had supper with father, then returned to the Aprium for the first watch. Tom was on shore leave. Now, I've told you that our crew has a reputation for being a foolhardy lot. Well, a boy came to inform me of a brawl in a tavern which had started between some of our midshipmen and some local lads. The captain was visiting his wife, so I left the command to Addams and ordered some marines to follow me and bring the brawlers to terms."
"A very sensible thing to do. That can't have been the reason why your father lost his temper."
"I told you he was being unreasonable! Well, upon arriving at the tavern, we found that the brawl involved over thirty people, some even joining in from the street! It was difficult to get some sort of order in the chaos, but I did my best. One man hit Nichols over the head with a bottle and then fled through a backdoor, so I followed him."
She bit off a thread.
"Probably the appropriate thing for an officer to do. And then?"
"Then - then I saw something which was rather unpleasant, things became heated, there was another brawl and Tom was injured."
Elizabeth put the shirt aside before she could ruin it completely.
"Jamie - I said I want to hear the whole story. What did you see, what happened, and how was Tom injured?"
Jamie shifted on his seat and blushed.
"This is nothing I could tell in front of a lady."
"I'm not a lady. I'm your mother. I changed your nappies when you were a baby, so there's nothing that could possibly shock me anymore. Out with it, now."
"I really don't think-"
"I didn't ask you to think. I asked you to talk. Bloody hell, Jamie, how can I help you if I don't know what this is all about?"
He looked down at the floor and ran his hands through his hair. It was one of those gestures so typical for James, and looking at her son now, she thought once again how amazing it was that two people could look so much alike yet be so different.
"There were - people."
"They took some liberties. With each other."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
"Dear God, this is worse than pulling teeth. Did you find some of your midshipmen shagging the local strumpets? Not very shocking, it happens all the time."
"Yes, yes, I know, inappropriate language. Please continue."
"Mother, those people were all men!"
She arched her eyebrows, not outraged in the least.
"Ah. So you walked in on a couple of mollies. And that shocked you? Can't have been the first time you've come across this; there are quite a few of them, or so I've heard."
Under normal circumstances, Jamie would have considered brawling midshipmen a bigger problem than some men kissing in the backroom of a tavern. As long as such things didn't take place on his ship and under his nose, he didn't care.
But this had been different.
"One of them was Tom."
"Oh no, the poor lad! It must have been terribly embarrassing for him!"
"Poor lad? Embarrassing? Mother, how can you say such a thing? This is against the Articles Of War! If it was embarrassing for anyone, then it was for me, his best friend!"
"Well, he didn't bugger you, did he? What did you do?"
"I - I don't really know. I was so upset and disgusted. I yelled at him, then I grabbed him and hit him, hit him again, and then father arrived..."
He broke off, shrugging helplessly.
Elizabeth stared at her son as if he had suddenly sprouted a second head.
"Are you telling me that you beat up Tom?"
"Better a bit of a beating than the pillory."
"I can't believe it! You have the bleeding gall to talk about morals? Only last month your father had to pay that Collins-girl a hefty sum because you got her in a predicament, and she wasn't the first!"
"That was completely different!" Jamie protested. "He kissed - some guy!"
For lack of a vase, Elizabeth threw Norrington's shirt at her son.
"If we were on a ship, I'd fetch the cat myself and give you a good beating!"
"You and your bloody Articles Of War! And how's Tom now?"
"Father said he's lost an eye."
"Dear God, Jamie! What have you done? He's your best friend!"
Tom had lost an eye, and no matter how much he protested, Jamie knew very well that it was his fault. He had often bantered with Tom about his 'dreamy eyes', so fitting for a young man who had always his head in the clouds or his nose in a book. Tom would still be able to read with one eye, wouldn't he?
Jamie felt the same seething rage as on that rotten night one week ago. If only Tom had hit back; things would have been different. But he hadn't done anything, had just taken blow after blow and looked at Jamie in disbelief, with those damned eyes of his.
Dreamy, yes - that's the way Tom had looked while kissing that...
Jamie swiped the teapot off the table next to him. It crashed on the floor, tea and shards flying through the air.
Read the prequel next chapter
|CROSS AND PILE - 1/8
by Molly Joyful