|"Cœur qui soupir n'a pas qu'il désire."
The heart that sighs yet has desires.
"I bid you a good evening, gentlemen," Logan laughed, a sound parroted by the pirates dragging the two prisoners back to the brig. "Might be your last night, have sweet dreams! Especially you, cabin boy!"
Norrington yelped when one pirate kicked him in the hip as a final farewell, but otherwise he didn't speak a word. Gillette groaned; the sickening coppery taste of blood filled his mouth, and when he moved his tongue, he discovered that another tooth was missing. That made a complete loss of three. A surprise he still had any left at all after the treatment he'd undergone!
Then again: a man could live without his premolars.
The pain in his back bothered him more. At first he hadn't felt anything, had been numb, but now he felt like crying, though he'd rather died than do so in front of Norrington.
His captain wasn't much better off, though. Norrington's face was badly bruised and his nose looked as if it had been broken. He shifted and grimaced.
"Are you badly hurt?" Gillette asked.
"By God, Thomas. I will kill him for doing this to you."
Gillette looked up. He couldn't tell what surprised him more: being addressed by his first name or hearing the hate in Norrington's voice.
He coughed and spit out, happy to see it was only blood and not another tooth.
"Looks like I've been wrong, Sir - I always said one couldn't swing a cat in your quarters. Well, one can."
Norrington took the jug that had been brought to them in the morning, and crawled towards Gillette. He ignored his protests, pushed the shreds of the shirt aside and winced upon seeing the damage.
"That's going to hurt," he warned.
He carefully ran the water over Gillette's back, washing off the blood. The man didn't make a sound, it was uncanny.
"I wish there was more I could do."
"Just paying back my debts, Sir."
"You don't have any debts."
Gillette looked over his shoulder, and Norrington lowered his gaze under that scrutinizing gaze.
"Sir, you have to make a choice now. Tell them where Turner is and I'll live, keep quiet and I'll die. If the latter should be the case, please know that I understand it. I - wouldn't act any different if I were in your place. I'll go without a grudge, and I don't want you to feel guilty about it. Just see to it that you get out of here alive."
Norrington wished Gillette could stop being so bloody noble. His lieutenant probably thought that this was a choice Norrington had to make between his life and Will's. Gillette assumed that his captain couldn't decide between his loyal friend of well over ten years, a man who had risked his life countless times for him, and Will Turner, who had stolen his fiancée, cost him his rank and ruined his life.
Well. This was probably the worst possible way to look at the situation.
"Thomas, the very moment I'd give out any information, true or not, you and I would be dead as Logan would think there was no need to keep us alive anymore."
Gillette blinked, but only with one eye, as there was a bad cut above the other. He wanted to say something, but then he startled, all of a sudden very excited.
"Did you hear that?"
The two men listened, and really - after a short while, they could hear it again: the faint cry of a seagull.
"This means we're close to land!"
"'Close' is a relative term, Thomas. It could still be miles away, impossible to reach by swimming," Norrington demurred, guessing Gillette's thoughts. "And we don't have the faintest clue where we are."
"Sir, with all due respect: given the choice between Logan and the sea, I prefer drowning."
Norrington looked at Gillette and considered the pitiable state he was in. Then he sighed.
"You're injured. How bad is it? Anything broken? "
Gillette made a few experimental moves.
"No, I don't think so, Sir. I can't say I liked the tune the cat made me dance to, but I can make it. How about you?"
In fact, Norrington wasn't fine in the least and fairly sure that he wouldn't make it far, but this was nothing he could consider now. Gillette would never leave him behind, that was just the kind of stubborn bastard he was. But once they were off the ship, Gillette would at least have a chance, no matter how slim.
Norrington ripped a torn piece of fabric off his own shirt, dipped it in the remaining water and pressed it on the cut above Gillette's eye. He flinched, so Norrington steadied his head with one hand.
"Keep still, Thomas."
Gillette closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. This gesture reminded Norrington painfully of Will. He also noticed that he caressed Gillette's cheek with his thumb. Very confused and embarrassed, he dropped the wet piece of fabric and moved away.
"I - you should - well, that's decided then. And listen carefully: under no circumstances may you stay behind. Understood?"
Gillette blinked at him, but didn't reply. Norrington knew well what that meant, and he became angry.
"I will only repeat this once: no matter what happens to me, I want you to swim as fast as you can. Should I not make it, you will not stay behind. This is an order. Have I made myself clear, lieutenant?"
Norrington gave him one last stern look, then he leaned back against the grid, pulling the reluctant Gillette with him. He couldn't lie on his back, and Norrington didn't want him to sleep face down on the dirty floor, so he decided it would be best if he'd hold him. Gillette protested, but Norrington ignored it.
"Stop the fidgeting and try to get a wink of sleep," he said. "We'll need all our strength tomorrow."
* * *
'Quand on n'aime pas trop, on n'aime pas assez' - if you don't love too much, you don't love enough, as his mother used to say. Well, he certainly loved enough, Gillette thought. Too much, and the wrong person. How more painful could it possibly get?
Of course it was good being held like that, his head resting on Norrington's chest. Pain be damned, it was, after all, what he had dreamt of for so many years. But it shouldn't be like this, it shouldn't be here, and hell, it probably shouldn't be at all. He pretended to be fast asleep, just so not to disturb his only and very likely last chance at ever getting close to Norrington.
Bloody hell, how pathetic was that?
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: "Quand on n'aime pas trop, on n'aime pas assez" - Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy. Le Comte de Bussy effectively managed to ruin his military career by general womanising (annoying Cardinal Richelieu and landing in the Bastille in the process) and organising an orgy which got him banned to his estate.
|CHAPTER 9: Desperation
by Molly Joyful