So, I was posting some old stories on ff.net, and after the initial shock and horror that it's been over three years since AWE came out, I realised that I never finished posting my drabble challenge fics. And yes, I know this place is deserted and I've been over the three-years-too-late part, but for the sake of completeness, the rest of these are getting posted. I have a touch of OCD, what can I do?
Title: Half turn to go (borrowed from Christina Rosetti, with every intention of giving it back)
Prompt: 9, Leaving
A/N: This was an experiment. Quite possibly one of those experiments where it's best to step away from the test-tube slowly and with safety glasses firmly in place, but oh well.
Jack's means of escape will not be his; this, then, is the end. The future with Elizabeth, which for those few glorious seconds while she held his gaze had seemed not only possible but certain, retreats into the realm of imagination once more. He steps away from her, distancing himself physically as though he can thus prevent her reputation from being further sullied by association with him and his end.
If he is not to have the life he aches for, then at the least he will meet his death with courage, honour and whatever dignity he is permitted to retain: Elizabeth will not, whatever happens, remember him with shame.
He had known all along the probable outcome of his rescue attempt—no, rescue. All the days since Jack's capture and his own pardon had been spent in deliberating how he might best hope to succeed; it was easier, after all, than thoughts of Elizabeth and her betrothed. That he should not try to save Jack never occurred to him. He had known that the dice would almost certainly fall against him, had accepted it, had carried on regardless.
And yet, looking now into Elizabeth's face, full of shock and denial and the stirrings of defiance as she realises what he means to do; allowing himself to admit only in this moment what he has secretly known for years—that Elizabeth loves him; seeing the days they might have had together snatched away like molten gold escaping, all he can think is that the world is so damned unfair.
"I will accept the consequences of my actions," he explains softly, his words only for her. He allows none of his anger to reach his voice, hoping that she will accept this as farewell, knowing that she will not.
Jack’s death was their means of escape; nonetheless, this is the end. The future with Elizabeth, which through sword and sea and imprisonment kept driving him forward, guiding his path like some glorious lodestar, now near and now distant, shatters and crumbles to dust.
He steps away from her, crossing the room to stare blindly at the yellow snake, distancing himself physically as though the pain and anger will somehow lessen with each inch between them, as though he can thus allow her imagination to replace him with the man she wishes were there.
He is not to have the life he longed for, the life they promised each other, but at the least he will retain his honour, act towards her out of the love he still feels, so painfully raw, and not out of the bitterness that will no doubt begin to fester if he tries to close over the wound in his soul. Whatever happens, he will give Elizabeth no further reason to remember him with resentment, will not hold her body to a promise her heart cannot keep.
He has known for half his life the certain outcome of his love for her. Every day since he met her he thought of how far above him she was, of how impossibly different were their situations. Yet that he should not love Elizabeth never occurred to him. He had known that he could never hope to claim her as his wife, that he had doomed himself to pain and disappointment and unfulfilled longing, and had continued on regardless.
And yet, thinking now of Elizabeth’s face, full of grief and guilt and hopeless longing as she explained what Jack had done; forcing himself to admit what he had not thought possible—that Elizabeth loves another; seeing the dreams that through all that had befallen he had so carefully kept bright, now mocked and irreparably tarnished, all he can think is that he would do exactly the same again.
“Will,” she says again softly, hoarsely, approaching him on silent feet. He cannot bear to see the betrayal burning in her eyes and so does not turn but walks instead to the door, suddenly in desperate need of the treacly stillness of the cooler, quiet air outside. Standing by the water, he gazes up at the stars, half-hoping that she will join him there, knowing that she will not.
Jack’s hand gave him the strength to take the impossible means of escape; this is not, after all, the end. The future with Elizabeth, which so recently had been draining away with his blood upon the Dutchman’s deck, is like himself alive again, full of love and hope. She runs, refusing to let him go, and he steps forward to catch and hold her to him, once more.
He will not have the life—any of the lives—he had planned. Like himself, too, that future with Elizabeth has been altered drastically by what has befallen them; twisted and re-forged into something new and strange, yet what is truly important remains fixed, unassailable. Their once extravagant, innocent imagining of their future is narrowed, focused upon a single day; yet whatever happens, Elizabeth will not remember these hours together on the island with anything but a fierce untameable joy.
He could not have guessed the outcome of his actions, of the choices of these past months. Elizabeth and Bootstrap and himself—even Jack: he’d been trying to save them all. Davy Jones and Cutler Becket—even Jack: he’d been trying to outwit them all. That he should not follow this mad course toward doom had never occurred to him. He did what he must as each day unfolded, each card turned; and step followed step, leading him inexorably here. But he knows, now, that had he all the foresight in the world, had Calypso spoken plainly and he known from the beginning how this day would end, he would have continued on regardless.
And looking into Elizabeth’s face, filled with passion and tenderness, longing and possessive wonder; able to admit—to shout—that, finally, she is his and he is hers; seeing the rekindled dreams of a life spent (by whatever strange means it may be necessary to devise) together; all he can think is that this day, this moment, this woman is unimaginably worth everything it has cost him to stand here.
He lingers a moment longer, imprinting on his mind every detail of sight and scent and sound and taste and touch, holding this memory forever, imperishable. “Keep a weather eye on the horizon,” he murmurs, promise inherent in his words as hers had been in her yes. Then he turns, striding down the beach, hoping that she will be there when he returns, knowing that she will.
Title: Not all treasure is silver and gold
Prompt: 12, Buried treasure
Characters: Jack, Ana-Maria (sort of)
He can remember the first time he kissed her, can still hear the astonished, indignant sound that had escaped her, only to be muffled against his lips. When he closes his eyes he can again see her as she was: an ebony-haired silhouette against the crimson dawn, dark-diamond eyes flashing just before she kissed him in her turn. With a little effort he can feel her in his arms; the warm old-ivory skin smooth over ship-trained muscles, her hair tangled between his fingers like wind-tossed silk. The taste of her mouth, too, seems to linger in his own: oranges, cinnamon, salt.
He wonders how long the memories will hold her vitality, how long it will be before they dim like the light in her eyes.
They bury her at sea.
"It's what she would have wanted, Cap'n," Gibbs says gruffly, offering what awkward comfort he can. Jack nods, as though in acceptance, but it's a bitter lie and he knows it. What she would have wanted is to be alive and free and in command, wheel in her hands, breeze on her face, open water before her. Never once had she expressed a desire to be laid out upon a blood-washed deck, graceful limbs become ungainly in death. She should be vibrant and intensely present, face filled with that expression of fierce triumph he had come to know so well, not still and pale, cool body stitched into a sheet taken from Jack's bed and abandoned in the wine-dark sea.
The world must be somehow distorted, Jack thinks, if something so indefinably beautiful and irreplaceably precious can be gone forever in the instant it takes for the implacable sea to take back one of her own.
Not all treasure is silver and gold, and Jack will not again forget it.