|Author's notes: some parts of this chapter refer to the events after Will's and Norrington's rescue in "Without Fail".
"Les murs ont des oreilles."
The walls have ears.
Norrington felt very tired, and leaned against the wall, looking out of the small, dirty window, almost blind by thick layers of dust and flyspots.
"Just look at us, Thomas. What have we become? Always on the run, sleeping in the rough. If anybody has a reason for feeling guilty, then it's me for dragging you along on this."
"My place is by my captain's side."
Norrington laughed without humour.
"I'm not your captain anymore, Thomas. Remember? I'm the one swabbing the deck next to you."
He felt Gillette's hand on his shoulder. A hesitant, light touch. For the fraction of a second he wished Gillette would hold him, but that moment passed quickly.
"I want you to be back in rank and honour, commanding a fine ship, for that's where your place is. Maybe you should reconsider your stance and - ask Will Turner for the compass."
"For the last time, Thomas: Will Turner is dead."
Gillette let go of Norrington's shoulder and narrowed his eyes.
"I've always been loyal to you, and risked my life more than once to save yours. I'm not bragging about it, it's been my duty. The only things I ask for in return are respect and honesty. So please stop lying at me, Sir!"
Not once in all the years they had served together had Norrington been on the receiving end of Gillette's temper, and he was shocked by the anger in his friend's voice. It dawned to him that Gillette was more than just an innocent bystander, that the pain he had thought to keep all for himself for a whole year had been shared by the other without him knowing it.
"What do you know? Tell me. I need to know, Thomas!"
Gillette sighed; all anger and disappointment had vanished from one moment to the other, and there was only bitterness left.
"I know everything."
* * *
It had been ridiculously easy to slip past the guards on deck and go to the brig to see Will. The captain hadn't even bothered to place a guard down there, fully convinced that there was no way Will Turner could flee.
Norrington looked over his shoulder, just to make sure he hadn't been followed.
"A visitor, how nice."
"I've brought you some food and beer."
"Thank you, I was starving! His Majesty's hospitality leaves a lot to be desired. How's the situation?"
"Somebody has informed Gillette where he could find us, that's why the Interceptor came to our rescue. It looks like Governor Swann has been able to convince a friend with influence in London that I'm not a potential pirate, but rather a victim of circumstances, and that I should have at least my captain's patent returned. As far as you are concerned, though..."
He broke off, shaking his head sadly. Will took another bite of bread.
"In other words: you're safe, I'm served."
Norrington tapped his lower lip with his index finger.
"I learned that Lord Cutler Beckett moved heaven and earth to find you."
Will almost chocked on the bite of bread in his mouth and coughed.
"Cutler Beckett? Finding me?"
Norrington crouched down next to Will's prison.
"He wants something from you, Will, and my bet is on the compass."
"The compass? What does he need the compass for, the sneaky git?"
"I don't know. But I don't like it."
Will continued his meal, and while he did so, he watched Norrington. He was barely recognisable, clean and shaved and dressed in his uniform. Will had felt so close to him only days ago, and now Norrington seemed to be a stranger.
"A fine mess. I guess they'll hang me?"
"Not if I can help it."
Norrington reached through the grid, and after a moment of hesitation, Will took his hand and their fingers intertwined.
"You have to flee before we arrive in Port Royal, Will. I can't help you once we're there."
"A brilliant idea. It will only take me two weeks to swim ashore. I can do that. Maybe I'll find a dolphin to ride on."
"We'll take provisions on board tomorrow, so I learned. Before we enter the port, you'll attempt to escape, I'll pretend to shoot you, you go overboard and they will think that you're dead. It's quite a distance to swim, but you'll manage. The sea is calm and there are no sharks there."
"This is the most stupid plan I've every heard, James. Nobody's going to believe that!"
Norrington looked over his shoulder, then lowered his voice even further.
"Will, they think I hate you, and that's exactly the reason why they'll believe it."
Will squeezed his hand.
"And you don't? Hate me, I mean."
"Would I sit here and discuss an easy way to get myself on the gallows if I did?"
"For all I know, the Royal Navy might be more upset finding you here holding my hand than discussing my escape."
Norrington nodded, but didn't let go of Will's hand.
"Do we have an agreement?"
"It's not like I have much of a choice. When are we going to do it?"
"Early morning, during Gillette's first watch. He trusts me, and wouldn't question any of my actions."
"How will we meet again?"
Norrington looked down at his hand, still holding Will's. He gently rubbed each knuckle with his thumb, memorizing every blister and burn mark.
"We won't, Will. You'll start your life anew, and I'll return to mine."
Will pulled his hand back.
"But you're a part of my life now! What are you expecting me to do? Just forget that you exist?"
"That would probably be for the best."
"Know what? Go back to Port Royal and carry around Beckett's pugs. And better make sure that you find a nice lady to marry soon, so nobody will get any funny ideas about what you and I've done on that bloody island. Because it sure as hell is written all over your face!"
Will was furious and threw the plate against the grid.
"How about not missing tomorrow, and just shooting me? One problem less for you, and it sure would be less painful for me!"
"I can't help it, Will. I wish we'd live in more forgiving times, but we don't."
Will kicked against the grid with such a might that the metal creaked. Another kick, and the door almost came unhinged. He halted, then shook his head.
"Lousy smithery," he grumbled, inspecting the hinges. "I'd done that better."
"No, no. It's fine. We'll do as you said. Nothing but an itch you scratched, should have known that."
"For Christ's sake, Will, don't be so vulgar! Do you think I'd do that if I wouldn't love you?"
Will inclined his head and looked at Norrington, who was frightened by his own words.
"Good grief, Will. What a mess."
Will reached through the grid, stroking Norrington's cheek.
"One day I'll return, I give you my word. I won't let you go."
There was a noise on the stairs, and the two men started.
"I have to leave, Will. Tomorrow?"
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: Ragetti has gone fishing for the duration of this chapter.
|CHAPTER 19: Eavesdropping
by Molly Joyful