|Overall rating: PG-13 to mild R (depending on the chapter)
Genre: slash, hint of het, drama, romance, adventure
Pairings: Norrington/Gillette, Norrington/Elizabeth, Norrington/Gillette (heh! and then there's... eh. Wait and see. ;-)
Series: sequel to "LOST AND FOUND"
Warnings: a wee bit of angst, h/c
Feedback: very welcome. Good or bad.
Author's notes: "Cross And Pile" takes place five years after the events in "Lost And Found".
While Norrington and Gillette prepare to come to their son's rescue, Jamie and Tom meet old acquaintances of their parents and learn more about their mothers than they ever wanted to know.
Norrington woke up and knew that it would be a very bad day. Mornings were always bad, of course; sometimes it took him over an hour just to get up and stand on his own two feet. There was a dull ache in his ankles, as if they were trapped in a vice, skin stretched tight over sore flesh. By now he knew the routine: slow, careful motions to get some mobility back into his joints, supported by the iron will to force his body into submission. He knew it was his age; he had now to pay the price for decades at sea, for damp quarters and countless injuries.
It was not fair, and it was humiliating; learning how to walk like a toddler again and again.
The rain was pounding on the roof and the wind was howling; had it been up to Norrington, he'd stayed in bed, but that was out of question. He would go to his office, discuss his strategies with the captains and pretend everything was fine, just like on every other day. Everything was fine, after all. It wasn't the problem of the British Empire that his joints refused to cooperate, and that every movement caused him pain. It was only his problem, and he had no intention of sharing it with anybody.
"Are you awake, love?"
"I just woke up," Norrington lied. Elizabeth snuggled up to him and put her arm on his chest. He took her hand and caressed it, then pressed a kiss on the palm.
"A beastly day," she said, resting her head on his shoulder. "There should be a law against getting up in the morning when it's raining."
"What did you do when on watch on rainy days? Turn around and sleep for another hour?"
"On a ship things are different, of course! I never missed a watch, and I never fell asleep. Even on a pirate ship, you'd been keelhauled if you'd have fallen asleep while on watch! Jack would have..."
She broke off and bit her lip. There were very few things they never discussed, and her time with Jack Sparrow was one of them.
"It's quite alright, Elizabeth. I'm not upset. What would Jack have done?"
Elizabeth pressed his hand. It was a good thing she couldn't see his face; it was bitter with the realisation that even such a simple expression of love had to be paid for with pain.
"I guess he'd thrown me overboard. Or at least he'd pretended he'd do it. The Pearl - you know, the Pearl always came first. The only true love of his life."
Norrington turned around, careful not to show that this caused him considerable discomfort.
"I know the man was crazy when it came to his ship. He was crazy in ever other aspect as well, but I'm fairly sure you were at least as important to him as the Pearl, Elizabeth."
She looked at him, and Norrington could see that she was searching for signs of mockery in his face. When she realised he was serious, she swallowed hard.
"I think I didn't tell you nearly often enough how much I love you, James. I do, you know? I really do. And if I sometimes think of Jack, then it's mostly because I don't know what happened to him. I don't know when he died or how."
"I have no doubt he managed to get himself hanged somewhere. Or drowned. Stabbed, shot, eaten by a kraken, devoured by a sea snake, turned into a toad by the village witch or bored to death by Cutler Beckett."
"Your tact is admirable."
"I hope he died in battle, aboard the Pearl. He'd have deserved that much. No matter what happened, he was a good man."
"That's debatable," Norrington muttered. "But you cared for him, so that's fine with me."
"Why are we discussing Jack now, after all these years?"
Norrington considered the question for a while.
"I still think Jack Sparrow was a pain in the neck and a scallywag, but now I've seen worse men, and some of them wore the same uniform as I do. Maybe it's the rain, maybe it's this place. I don't know."
They lay for a while in comfortable silence, listening to the rain outside.
"James, I've never asked you, but as you - well, as you've asked me, can I ask you as well?"
"Of course my dear. Ask me anything you want."
"Am I as important to you as he is?"
Norrington should have expected that question, yet it still came as a shock.
"I really want to know, James."
He wrapped a lock of her hair around his finger. It was amazing how young she still looked, especially compared to him. People probably thought she was his daughter when they went out. How embarrassing.
"Things are the way they are between us because I couldn't make a choice, aren't they? And I'll never forget that you allowed me to love you both."
She wanted to say that there was no reason to be grateful, that it was nothing, but she couldn't lie.
"Sometimes I hate him, James."
"And yet you -"
Norrington couldn't finish the sentence. Suddenly there was yelling and crying in the house. Doors were slammed, and the sound of heavy footsteps, first on the stairs, then in the corridor leading to their bedroom.
"What on earth is that?" Elizabeth asked, and sat up.
Three hard knocks on the door, then Gillette's voice.
"James! Quick, quick! We need you!"
Norrington grit his teeth and stood up. Something truly bad must have happened if Gillette came here, at this time, knowing that Elizabeth was with him.
"Come in, Thomas!" he said, ignoring Elizabeth's hissed comment that she wasn't quite decent yet.
The door flung open, and Gillette stumbled into the bedroom. Elizabeth quickly pulled the cover up to her chin, but Gillette didn't even notice she was there. He was pale, dripping wet and covered in mud.
"Thomas, what has happened?" Norrington asked, reaching for his breeches.
"It's Jamie and Tom - they have been abducted. Our boys are gone, James!"
* * *
Jamie woke up with a splitting headache and a foul taste in his mouth. He was fairly sure he was still drunk as he saw a monkey sitting on his chest, scratching its belly and looking at him with great curiosity. Jamie closed his eyes again, deciding that it was better to sober up before attempting to undertake risky and potentially harmful activities like moving or talking.
"That one's alive."
Jamie blinked, then he was doused with cold seawater, which sobered him more effectively than a nap could ever have. The monkey fled, protesting loudly against the rude treatment, while Jamie coughed and wiped the water from his face.
A second bucket of water was emptied, this time over the man lying next to him. From the resulting swearing he concluded that Tom was alive as well, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
"That one's, too."
Tom sat up and looked at Jamie, who sported an ugly bruise on his cheek and a love bite on his neck.
"Alright, 'nough with the nappin', get up you scabby dogs!"
They were on a ship. How had that happened? Tom blinked at the bald, stocky and very dirty man in front of him. He was only one of many men gathered around him and Jamie, all of them quite obviously at war with personal hygiene and clad in the most outrageous garb.
"Holy Mary - what have you two been up to?"
An elderly man, clean looking in comparison with the gawking crowd gathered around Tom and Jamie, pushed and shoved the men aside.
"Well, you said we need two men, and that's what we got. Found 'em right behind a tavern, Mr. Gibbs," a tall, skinny man with a glass eye and a dirty mop of once possibly blond hair proudly replied. "They both got stuck in the mud, so we thought we give 'em a hand and help 'em out."
There was much snickering and laughing, but the one called Gibbs cut them off.
"Did you have a look at them before you brought them here, you idiots? Those are two lieutenants of the Royal Navy!"
"Now are they really?" the stocky guy asked, scratching his head. "I'll be damned. Now that you say it – well, 't was dark and rainin' and they were rollin' 'round in the mud like pigs. Difficult to tell lieutenant from man there, you know?"
"I demand to learn immediately what is going on here!"
Tom knew that tone – Jamie was not amused.
"Wouldn't mind hearin' that part either," a dozy voice behind them said.
"Look what those two gits dragged in, captain! Two lieutenants!"
Jamie and Tom looked at the captain, then at each other, and simultaneously shook their heads.
"Aye, I can see that. And why are these two gentlemen aboard my ship? This ship is off-limits for the navy, as you well know!"
"Well, I thought-" the stocky man began, but a bored sigh and a sweeping gesture from the captain cut him off. Jamie counted twelve rings on the man's hands. Twelve. On ten fingers. Not even Admiral Finchley's wife, who Jamie's mother used to refer to as a walking Christmas tree, wore that much jewellery.
"You didn't think all yer life, Pintel, why startin' it now? Only gets you into trouble, savvy?"
"It was all Ragetti's idea!" Pintel protested, pointing at the tall one with the glass eye. "He talked me into it, captain!"
"That's not true! You're a filthy liar!" Ragetti protested, and whacked Pintel up the head.
The captain watched the argument with increasing annoyance and rolled his eyes.
"Would you please stop this, gentlemen? We have a problem at hand here, and I'd like to see it solved, if you don't mind."
The two shut up and stepped back.
"Fine. So then, would you do me the honour and introduce yourself, lieutenant? Lieutenants? Lads?"
Jamie glared at the spectacular figure in front of him. Two braids in the captain's beard, many more in his matted, shaggy black hair, adorned with trinkets and beads, shells and bones. His tricorne was so old and dark from the exposure to the elements that it seemed to have become one with its owner. An old-fashioned coat, stained breeches and boots completed the picture, all of it covered in dust and stinking of rum, tar and tobacco.
"Introduce yourself first, pirate," Jamie snapped. "For that's what you and your lot here obviously are!"
The captain chuckled and mocked a bow.
"Sorry, lad, my manners. I'm Captain Jack Sparrow - I'm sure you've heard of me."
Somehow the name rang a bell, but Jamie was far too angry to think.
"Lieutenant Norrington, of HMS Bilberry, and I demand that you release us immediately!"
Sparrow's brown eyes widened. Jamie noticed that he had used coal to line them and shuddered.
"Norrington? Norrington? As in - James Norrington?"
"Indeed. Admiral James Norrington. I see with great pleasure that my father's name is still feared among your ilk."
Sparrow circled Jamie and looked him over with great curiosity.
"So you're Lizzy's boy?"
"If that should be a highly inappropriate way of asking whether my mother's name is Elizabeth, then the answer would be yes, my mother is Elizabeth Norrington."
Sparrow poked Jamie in the chest with a very dirty finger, and studied his face.
"You're not mine, are you?" he finally asked.
"Yours? What do you mean?"
"Well, mine. My boy. You're not my son, are you?"
"You must be completely insane! How can I possibly be your son if I'm the son of James and Elizabeth Norrington, as I just explained?"
Sparrow ignored the rant.
"Naw, you couldn't be my boy. You're the spitting image of your father. Poor lad. You really should only go out when it's dark."
Then a thought came to Sparrow's mind, and he pulled a face.
"That's disgusting!" he groaned. "He's touched my Lizzy? Bloody bastard! How could he? Damned Norrington!"
"Excuse me? How is it any of your business what my father and my mother - are you mad?"
Sparrow folded his arms over his chest.
"Now Jamie my lad, don't get things confused here. She's your mother, aye. Fine. But she's also my Lizzy, savvy? Still don't know why she decided to marry that - that - commodorial type of a commodore. But that's water down the river and ship down the whirlpool."
Then a thought crossed his mind, and he looked suddenly terrified. Sparrow turned to his crew, flaying his arms.
"That's Lizzy's son! Hide the rum! Lock it away! Don't let him get anywhere near the barrels!"
Tom had followed the conversation with a great amount of head-shaking, frowning and eyebrow-arching. When Sparrow turned to look at him, he wrinkled his nose.
"And who are you?" Sparrow asked. "Tell me your name is Beckett, and I'll hang myself from the yardarm. Or you."
"Beckett? No. My name is Gillette. Lieutenant Thomas Gillette, of HMS Buckthorn," Tom replied, trying to get rid of the monkey who seemed to be very fickle in his affections and was now clinging to his leg.
A murmur went through the crowd, then a cheer, and Ragetti opened his arms.
"Gillette! But of course! It's little Tom! Come an' give us a hug, lad!"
A dumbfounded Tom took a step back, but within seconds, he was surrounded by pirates who wanted to hug him, ruffled his hair or pinched his cheeks. Jamie tried to drag them away from his friend, but they simply ignored him.
"Chip of the ol' block," Pintel said, wiping tears of joy from his eyes with a very dirty handkerchief.
"Aye," Ragetti agreed, blowing his nose in the sleeve of his shirt. "But he's got his mother's eyes."
Tom, who just barely managed to keep on his feet, stared at Ragetti with bewilderment.
"How comes you know me? And what do you know about my mother?"
Pintel and Ragetti looked at each other, so they missed Jack Sparrow's frantic waving of hands and mouthed orders to keep quiet behind Tom's back.
"'course we know you!" Pintel said, giving Tom a big grin. "How could we not? You were born on this ship, after all!"
* * *
"And why did that wretched wench not alert us earlier?"
"She wasn't supposed to go out and was afraid her father would be angry with her," Gillette replied. He stood next to Norrington who studied a map and tried to figure out the head start of their sons' abductors. It was the angry Norrington of old, the scourge of pirates and other criminals, and the assembled officers kept a safe distance.
"Compared to what I will tell her, any sermon from her father will sound like a choir of angels! So they brought them aboard a ship?"
"A longboat, so their ship must have berthed close by."
"And how comes nobody saw that ship? Just what are you getting paid for? Scratching your arse?" Elizabeth asked.
Gillette glared at Norrington's wife who, despite her husband's expressed wishes to stay at home had insisted joining them, tried to word a reply to her accusation that did not contain any expletives.
"I know that you're very worried about your son's fate, Mrs. Norrington, but please don't forget that my lad has been abducted as well!"
"I certainly won't forget that - how did Jamie get into that part of Port Royal in the first place, anyway? Did Tom talk him into joining him? I wouldn't be surprised if-"
"Elizabeth, please..." Norrington tried to calm her, but his attempts only made Elizabeth more aggressive.
"Who does he think he is to order me around? This is my son, and nobody is doing anything or going anywhere without my knowledge or my agreement!"
Gillette was very pale. Had Elizabeth been a man, he would have reached for his sword, Norrington had no doubts about that.
"With all due respect and understanding for your situation, Mrs. Norrington - aboard my ship, the only one who's giving orders is the captain, and that would be me. Have I made myself clear?"
"Captain Gillette, you forget that you're talking to my wife," Norrington said stiffly, another helpless attempt at calming the situation. Gillette clenched his jaw and bowed his head.
"My apologies, admiral. How could I forget that even for a second. Thank you for reminding me. Now please excuse me, somebody has to see to it that we have a ship to chase after those criminals."
Gillette turned his back on Norrington and Elizabeth and stormed out of the room. Elizabeth bit her lip; she already regretted her words, but right now, all she could think of was her son.
"I'm coming with you, James."
"That's completely out of question, Elizabeth. You will stay here, in case that news should arrive."
"Over my dead body. That's my son, I'll come with you!"
"I'll run my sword personally through the bastard who's done that to my child!"
"But you really shouldn't..."
"Or I'll shoot them!"
No mother worrying for her child would listen to reasoning, and Elizabeth was not only a worried mother, but also a woman who knew how to use two swords at the same time.
"If you insist - just remember who is giving the orders, Elizabeth."
She glared at the door that Gillette had slammed shut during his departure.
"As if I could ever forget that," she muttered, and Norrington could feel a headache coming up.
* * *
Tom looked with great suspicion at the dirty glass and the dark liquid it was filled with.
"Do you want to poison me?"
"Stop being like your father and drink," Sparrow ordered. "It's rum, best you can find. My special secret reserve. You have one as well, young master Norrington, you look like a man who needs a drink."
The two young men decided that any state was better than being sober, and downed their glasses in one go. Jack nodded appreciatively.
"You know how to drink, have to give you credit for that. Well, your father always knew, Tom the lad, but dear old James Norrington - he just couldn't hold his liquor. Can't remember how often he got sick all over the Pearl's deck. Those were good times."
"My father was aboard this - wreck?" Jamie asked, which gained him a glare from Jack Sparrow.
"Now you show some respect! The Pearl is the finest ship ever to sail these seas, or any other seas, as for that. Savvy?"
Jamie had his doubts, but he thought it would be better not to voice them at the moment.
"I was really born here?" Tom finally asked, encouraged by a second glass of rum.
"Aye. Terrible thing. Worst thing I ever witnessed. How women manage to live through this, I'll never know."
"But - why?"
"Would've thought you'd know at your age! Now, if a man and a woman really like each other... I mean, sometimes, under certain circumstances, it can happen that..."
"No. I mean, why was I born aboard the Black Pearl?" Tom asked, rolling his eyes.
"Ah. Aye. Your mother decided that life ashore wasn't what she wanted after all. She met up with us in Tortuga, but by the time she realised that your father had left a little surprise for her, we were already on the high seas."
"His mother was a pirate? How terrible!"
"So was yours, James my boy! Ah, my Lizzy - should have seen her in her days! She was beautiful and deadly. I'll never forget how she chased after Barbossa with those swords of her - that woman could fight! Does she still chase people with swords, by the way? Or has she taken up crocheting?"
Jamie couldn't reply. He just starred at Sparrow, trying to make some sense of the pirate's words.
"My mother? A pirate?"
"Aye! Well, I know for certain that she once attacked your father with a bottle, but I guess that was her way of expressing her love." Jack Sparrow looked a little sad. "She never hit me with a bottle, you know."
"I don't believe a word you say. My father would have never - with a pirate - never!" Tom protested.
"Now please, show some manners! You mother was the best of us - never understood what Anamaria saw in your father. But the state Gillette was in when Norrington made off with my Lizzy, he couldn't have told a pirate from a goat, anyway. Hit him hard, poor git."
Jamie, who had followed the conversation with increased discomfort, put his hand on Tom's shoulder.
"So you've been right all along - your father's been unhappy in love with my mother."
"What?" Sparrow asked, scratching behind an ear. "What did you just say?"
"I said that Tom was right all along. He always suspected his father was unhappy in love with my mother, and..."
Sparrow broke out in loud laughter. He laughed and howled as if he had just heard the best joke ever, and slapped Jamie on the back.
"I love your sense of humour, lad! Gillette in love with my Lizzy? Ahahaha!"
"Everybody loves my mother!"
"Oh yes! Everybody but Lieutenant 'fetch the irons' Gillette! They're probably still talking about it in Port Royal, almost thirty years later. Say he drew his sword and threatened to kill ol' Norrington rather than see him marry my Lizzy! Mind you, wish he'd been true to his word - but what do you want: Navy. No balls. No offence meant."
Tom jumped up.
"This makes no sense! None of this does! I have no idea what you're talking about! And why do you claim all the time to be Jack Sparrow and talk of 'my Lizzy'? My father told me about a Captain Jack Sparrow, but that pirate must be an old man by now, and you don't look a day older than - well, than you look. Are you his son?"
Sparrow gave Tom a sly sidewise glance.
"Good question, mate. Can't give you an answer, though -s'ppose it's the Pearl, you know? Or the curse. The kraken. Might also have something to do with Tia Dalma, who knows? She never told me. Ah, women and their secrets!"
"You're insane," Jamie muttered. "Tell us what you want in exchange for our freedom."
"Your freedom? But why, you're free! Free to leave at any time!"
"We're in the middle of the ocean!"
"It's not my problem that you can't swim, is it?"
"So what are you going to do with us?" Tom asked.
"Well, I'll have to think of something original and entertaining. For the time being, I'll lock you up. And just so you know, young master Norrington, it will be far, far away from my rum!"
* * *
After a good thirty minutes of kicking and hitting against the door of Jack Sparrow's night cabin, Jamie had to realise that there was no way of escaping. Tom sat on the pirate's sea chest, reading a book.
"It's amazing - Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads! How comes a pirate like him reads such a thing? How comes a pirate like him knows how to read in the first place?"
Jamie kicked one last time against the door, then he folded his arms over his chest and glared at Tom.
"Is that all you have to say?"
"Let's be realistic, Jamie: we've been abducted. We have no idea where we are and just learned that our mothers used to be pirates. The door is locked so I can't run out, jump overboard and drown myself. So I might as well sit here and read poetry."
"Poetry - a fine mess you've got us in here, Thomas Gillette! Congratulations!"
Tom arched an eyebrow.
"I beg your pardon? How is it my fault that we're in this predicament? You were the one who started the fight!"
"Me? Oh now it's me? Who of us had to go and hide in some dark alley to do - whatever with - whoever!"
"Now you listen - it's none of your damned business what I do. See that eye? Your fault it's ruined, and all because of a harmless kiss. Now you see me kissing a woman and it's still not right?"
"Don't you have any self-control? Do you have to chase after everything on two legs that's not a ladder?"
"Says one who couldn't keep his cock in his breeches if it was glued to them!"
"Will you shut up now?"
"Like hell I will!"
Jamie pinched the bridge of his nose.
"No. No, I will not stoop that low again. You can't provoke me into another fight just so you can - do what you did last night."
Tom looked up from the book.
"Wouldn't you just love if I did it again."
"It was disgusting!"
"Could you repeat that please, so I'll know why I'll strangle you?"
Jamie turned his head and stared at a clay figure on a small shelf, decorated with shells and feathers. An ugly thing.
"Just so you know: upon our return - if we should return - I'll ask Emily if she wants to marry me," he said, and ran a finger over the figure. As expected, it was covered with a thick layer of dust.
"Emily. The governor's daughter. We are rather close."
"You don't want Emily."
"Sure I do."
"No, you don't."
"What would you know about it!"
Tom sighed and put the book aside. He gave Jamie a pitiful smile, stood up, grasped him by the shirt and pushed him against the door. Before Jamie could protest, he kissed him, and Jamie had to admit that Tom knew damned well what he was doing. The thought of pushing him away didn't even cross his mind. Jamie felt dizzy, and a little angry with himself for giving in so easily.
He could feel Tom's hand on the buttons of his breeches, opening them one by one. He remembered their fight on the previous night, and Tom's lips on his neck; how his hands had felt on his skin and how he had tasted. Tom had finally managed to unbutton Jamie's breeches, and he broke their kiss just in time, otherwise Jamie would probably have bitten Tom's tongue off when his hand closed around Jamie's cock.
"Still want to marry Emily? Are you certain about that?" Tom asked casually, and began to stroke the flustered Jamie at a slow, teasing pace.
"Bastard," Jamie gasped. "Is that what you're doing to your beloved Lt. Kyle?"
Tom chuckled and nuzzled Jamie's ear.
"Only when he annoys me," he replied, not changing the pace of his movements despite Jamie's desperate bucking and thrusting. "Why do you ask? Do you want to know? Good grief, but think what poor Emily would say if she knew."
Jamie gritted his teeth, then he fisted his hands in Tom's hair and pulled him close, their noses almost colliding.
"To hell with Emily," he hissed. "Show me."
* * *
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|CROSS AND PILE - 5/8
by Molly Joyful