Title: The List of Love
Author: Soleil Compeau
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Rating: We'll say R for now, and see how it goes
Chaacters/Pairings: Jack/OFC, mentions of previous, various Jack/OFCs, implied Jack/Elizabeth UST
Summary: Sarah asks Jack about his past women. Jack answers her.
previously (Ignoring this, "Life was an adventure for the rapidly maturing Jackie. There was no lack of female companionship, and he gave it little thought. There were serious considerations for the lad, such as how he'd earn his bread and drink for his life. A woman was secondary to answering that first, savvy?") continued
"And you found that answer, didn't you?" Sarah's voice was sad. Both knew the disastrous results of that employment. Yet she did not yet know what drove him to leave Shipwreck Town, try to walk a straight and narrow path and deny his pirate blood. That story did not fit here, and at any rate, Jack was not ready to tell her that tale. She'd asked about his past loves, and that was difficult enough for a man used to inflating his legend with lies, exaggerations, equivocation, and sometimes even the truth.
"And so who came next? You worked for the Company for many months before.....well...." She turned shy suddenly, ducking her head to hide her cheek against his chest. Jack stroked her hair, charmed. Somewhat muffled, "Who came next? What lucky lady captured your heart next?"
Slow cold dread filled him. Now that the moment of reckoning came, he couldn't tell her. So he did what came naturally to him. He bragged, and spouted a partial truth, mixed in with distraction. Shifting her onto the pillows bunched against the headboard, he sat on the edge of the bed. "Darling...a man like me, youngest Captain ever to helm a ship of the line, had many women who vied for my favor. I gave meself to a few lucky ones, I was a choosy man and not just anyone could hold me."
Waved his hands, looking off into the distance, over Sarah's head. "Ah, but one or two were quite special, oh yes. Eleanor, princess of the fey folk, with hair like caramel that flowed and swirled around her ankles. So dainty, and when she laughed flowers bloomed. I swear it, I saw it with me own eyes. And Adelaide, the mermaid lass who instead of echanting me, was enchanted herself." Jack laughed. "There really are merfolk, as only sailors of the most far flung seas can know. She had the most beautiful full set of breasts a man could wish for, and a tail..." He gave his wife a mischevious glance, and stopped short at the look on her face.
"You believe me, don't you?" He put on his most solemn, sincere expression, all wide-eyed and firm-chinned. Sarah's look seemed to pierce right though him.
"I believe many women have always chased you, yes Jack. I believe there are mermaids, and that you might have seen them. As to the fey folk, I expect they've all either died out or gone into hiding, and won't show themselves to people like us. But I don't believe any other word you're saying."
"Oh." Jack swayed to his feet, contemplating the scrap of lady who could strip him so easily of his layers and armor. She would bare his soul if she could; she would strip it as naked as he stood before her now, and see him for all he was. And would she look at him then as if he was a hero, a mighty being, a good man?
She shifted in the bed, clumsy and short of breath, barely mobile for the bairn that stretched her frame. "Tell me about Eleanor. Your voice changed when you said her name." And clapsed her hands atop her stomach, just below her chin, looking so appealing and childlike Jack could not resist.
He sighed and closed his eyes. "Eleanor....was all that I described her as. She was dainty and delicate as a flower, with wavy brown hair and big blue eyes. She knew I was a pirate's son, and she didn't care. She...she loved me anyway. Tried to help me fight my demons and fit into society. It was a thing I wanted once, more than anything. And so was she.
"Eleanor was the youngest daughter of a viscount, her elder brother and sister had already made smart matches and so she was free to choose whom she wished. And she chose me." The last was said nearly in a whisper. "On me wedding day, I could not believe my good fortune." Jack halted, unable to go on.
After a bit, the silence was broken by Sarah. "Did I ever tell you about my mother's parents? She was a gypsy, my love, a slave in those times. My grandfather couldn't help loving her, and on his villa they found a great deal of happiness. Though my grandpere was never able to marry his love and give their daughter a proper name, nonetheless my mother was their lovechild, and they raised her joyfully."
She tried to get out of bed and go to Jack, who was as still as a statue. Her efforts to rise were ludicrous. It snapped Jack out of his memory induced trance and he laughed as he fluttered over her. "Lie back, my swollen bride. This pirate heir is determined to have you supine and sleepless until he arrives officially in this world."
The answer was a sigh and a biting of her lip. Daily struggles with heartburn, backache and an almost constant need to pass water had made her extremely weary and irritable. Thus the request for a story to take her mind off of her discomfort. But Jack's face was so grave now, she worried she'd gone too far. She didn't want to cause him pain. Another side effect of advanced pregnancy, wildly swinging emotions, asserted themselves and she began to sniffle.
"I believe that's enough storytelling for tonight." Jack's voice was extremely gentle as he tucked a small pillow below her knees and fluffed up the ones behind her head. "Try and get some sleep bit o'Sarah." He settled himself beside her, one strong hand comfortingly splayed against her back.
They lay silently, regular deep breathing indicating sleep decsending on at least in one of them. Jack lay wakeful. Suddenly her sleey voice broke into his thoughts. "My father took a chance loving my mother. A bastard, half slave. But their story has a happy ending. I suspect it was not so for Eleanor and Jack."
The silence became heavy. "No, it wasn't," he finally said.
She reached for his hand, pulled it over his shoulder to kiss. "Will you please tell me?"
Jack's voice was flat. "After the wedding, she changed. Became much more demanding. I was hard pressed to support her in the style she was accustomed to. And when I was branded....well, all my property was siezed, you see. Reverted to the Crown. All contracts I had entered into were declared null and void." Did she grasp the significance of that, he wondered? Did she understand the risk of cleaving unto him?
She squeezed tighter to his fingers. He felt her lips trembling where they pressed to his knuckles, felt her tears spill onto his fingers. "It wasn't until years later that I learned anything at all. She died in grief, while bearing a stillborn baby. A son. This lace is hers, the white one. All I have left of that time."
"I'm so sorry," she barely got the words out before sobs choked off her voice. Sarah tried to hold it back, tried to muffle the cries. It would only upset Jack more. He pressed close beside her back, nuzzling her shoulder until she calmed and finally slept for real. Still Jack clung to her. Sarah had given him a second chance. Given him back all the things that were stolen from him when he was branded. For that, she was doubly precious.