|Overall rating: PG-13 to R
Genre: slash, drama, adventure, humour
Pairings: Norrington/Gillette, Cutler Beckett/Gillette
Other characters: Mr. Mercer, Governor Swann, Will, Elizabeth, Lt. Groves, Jack Sparrow
Warnings: a wee bit of angst, a bit of violence and some language
Feedback: very welcome. Good or bad.
Beta by: Eveiya
Author's note: set before and during "Curse of the Black Pearl"
Summary: How to get rid of James Norrington? Lord Cutler Beckett is convinced that he knows the answer, but there is no such thing as a foolproof business transaction.
"London in winter - how I have missed it!"
Lord Cutler Beckett was in a very cheerful mood, but Mr. Mercer, standing ankle-deep in sludge and feeling cold wetness slowly seeping through his stockings, didn't share that sentiment at all.
"With all due respect, my lord, I can't wait to leave for Port Royal. At least the mud's warm there."
They had last stayed in London five years ago, and Cutler Beckett noticed many changes. The city had been growing, become bigger, louder and dirtier. People, however, hadn't changed at all. He found it as easy as always to convince others of his own importance, and as he was a brilliant rhetorician and Mr. Mercer a genius when it came to falsifying and manipulating the books, he was now the "Golden Boy" of the East India Trading Company. Business in India had been a great success - at least as far as his own finances were concerned - but he was bored. Same old, same old, day after day. Cutler Beckett hoped to God he'd never have to see an elephant again in his life, and so he focused his attention on the West Indies.
Mr. Mercer disagreed strongly. "Port Royal? Why on earth would we want to go there? March fever, pirates and every bad egg in the Royal Navy. Nobody in their sane mind would go there by free will!"
"But that's exactly the reason why we'll go there," Cutler Beckett had explained, in that amused-bored tone which never failed to grate on Mercer's nerves. "Nobody will care what we're doing. Nobody will be interested in our actions or take note of them. And once they start to notice, it will be too late."
Cutler Beckett looked up and frowned upon seeing the dark clouds. Heavy snowfalls were expected. He gave his footman a sign, and the door of the coach was opened immediately.
"Time for us to go home. I hope you have found the right thing to cheer me up on this cold evening, Mr. Mercer."
"Indeed I have, my lord. You will be surprised. I've found the perfect solution for your problem."
"It takes a lot to surprise me, Mr. Mercer."
"Of that I'm aware. But you may trust me; I have visited every establishment of that kind in London."
Cutler Beckett arched his eyebrows.
"Did you enjoy your quest, Mr. Mercer? I'm very certain that this was a great opportunity for you to study human behaviour."
"Those studies will be very costly for you, my lord."
They entered the coach, and on their way back to the townhouse that Cutler Beckett had rented for the duration of their stay, he explained to his factotum how he intended to get rid of Captain James Norrington.
* * *
There was a knock on the door, and Cutler Beckett opened the top drawer of his desk to check the pistol was still there. One never knew how such meetings might end. Seeing that everything was where it should be, he leaned back in his seat, a picture of elegance and trustworthiness.
The door opened to reveal Mr. Mercer and a visitor. Upon seeing him, Cutler Beckett couldn't help but swallow hard, a fact Mercer registered with great satisfaction.
"My lord," the visitor said, bowing his head in greeting. "I'm honoured by your invitation."
"Of course you are. Who wouldn't be? What is your name?"
"Thomas, my lord."
"Please come closer so I may have a look at you."
"Certainly, my lord."
Mercer hadn't promised too much, at least as far as the man's appearance was concerned. A great likeliness with the late Lieutenant Henry Morris; the hair almost the same shade of auburn, brown eyes - but while Morris had been a terrier, the formidable Mr. Gillette was a well-groomed greyound. His face didn't show any lines, and his long, elegant hands had obviously never been used for manual work. At least not for the kind of work that caused calluses.
He wore an elegant coat of dark green velvet which must have cost a fortune; Gillette's business seemed to be profitable. Cutler Beckett tried to imagine how Morris would have looked in such attire, but he found it hard to imagine Norrington's former first lieutenant not wearing a uniform. Morris had probably been born wearing the King's colours, so it was nothing but right that he had died wearing them. After cutting Morris' throat, Mr. Mercer had been very careful to bury the lieutenant in his uniform and had even thrown his wig in the shallow grave. At times, Cutler Beckett's factotum showed a tinge of sentimentality.
"You're too kind, my lord."
"I know. One of my greatest weaknesses. I understand Mr. Mercer has explained everything to you?"
Gillette looked over his shoulder, but Mercer had already left.
"He has. And I think I can promise that you will be more than satisfied with my services, my lord." Giving Cutler Beckett a lecherous smile, he added: "With all of them."
"I hope so, Mr. Gillette. Your services are expensive enough. Not that I couldn't afford them, as you know."
Gillette, neither impressed nor humbled by Cutler Beckett's importance, grinned and leaned against the desk, crossing his long legs at the ankles.
"I'm expensive because I'm the best. Tell me more about my long-term engagement. Who do you want me to be? Priest? Judge? Lord?"
Cutler Beckett filled two glasses with excellent wine from the carafe on his desk and gestured to Gillette to help himself. He admired how Gillette held the glass and drank. A bon vivant, acting and looking like a gentleman. He was none, though, and that fact made him so valuable.
"A priest? Good grief. Far more interesting, my friend. For the next couple of months, you will be a lieutenant of the Royal Navy."
There was silence, then Gillette burst out laughing. It was unexpectedly boyish, almost a giggle.
"You must be joking, my lord! I don't know anything about the military!"
"That has not kept you from impersonating the Duke of Richmond. Sir Joshua Reynolds would have set fire to your portrait if you hadn't taken it with you, and Mrs. Elbridge still insists that it was the Duke who stole her daughter's diamond necklace. She even wrote to the King about it. Highly embarrassing."
"Embarrassing for the Duke of Richmond, not for me. The necklace was not half as valuable as everybody said, by the way; had I known of its poor quality, I'd have pretended to be Sir Joshua Reynolds instead. After all, I'm an artist of sorts myself. All that trouble for nothing... Miss Elbridge is a very boring and uninspired person. A good thing her brother was so complaisant, otherwise I-"
"I'm not interested in your dalliances. We will leave for Port Royal in a week. Once we arrive, you have to be an exemplary officer of the Royal Navy. Can you do that or not?"
Gillette rubbed his chin.
"Will I have to wear a uniform?"
"Of course. What a ridiculous question."
"In that case it will cost you extra. Blue is not my colour."
* * *
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|NINE MAN MORRIS - 1/?
by Molly Joyful