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03 August 2007 @ 12:36 am
Games of chance  
John Duvane was both first mate of the pirate ship, The Sea Harpy, but also a compulsive gambler and a right bastard. The man looked like a shaved ape. Hands worn, knobby, hairy at the knuckles, and the size of hams. His face looked like a public warning against the hardships that await a man planning to take to a life at sea. He had scars on top of scars on top of what looked to be a hideous face smashed several times with an uneven hammer. He was huge, disgusting, and responsible for the ship's most recently acquired cabin boy: Jack Sparrow. Though half the crew had taken to calling him 'birdie', as a charming sort of insult regarding the boy's slight build, flailing attempts at escape, and fondness for the crow's nest.

Tonight, Elizabeth Weir was getting an excellent look at that stringy build and narrow body as the tan boy stood before her, stripped utterly bare and looking non-plussed over it.
The woman had won several lucky hands of poker against Duvane. The foul bastard had chosen to keep his own clothes in place despite the lewd terms of their game (gods be praised, really) but, instead, had the cabin boy he was dragging around like a slave remove his clothing instead.
It's not that Jack didn't enjoy seeing the lovely woman playing against them lose a few layers of garments. No, that was quite nice. Possibly the best thing that had happened to him all week. However, he despised being publicly shown off as a pet or possession of the crew he'd most recently been pawned off upon.

When yet another hand was lost and Jackie had no clothes to give up, he stood shocked and offended when the boar in man's clothing that served as his superior announced the boy himself would be the wager given up for the lost hand. Jack protested, as he had no wish to be some strange lady's serving boy, but Duvane and the other crewmen in the tavern just laughed and dragged their drunken carcasses away to slink to the docks where their slime trail could be followed, no doubt, to their ship and their vomit stinking berths.

Now Jack stands, two hands covering himself not out of any shame but because this lady doesn't seem the sort who sees a lot of strange men's bits, and pouts angrily.

"Tragic to have to say, but I've no skill for serving tea or cooking, and trust that I'll only disappoint in the garden as well."

foratlantis on August 3rd, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
Elizabeth, disconcerted by the turn the night has taken, regards Jack with some mostly hidden confusion. What in GOD'S NAME is she going to do with him? Ignoring the fact she's no longer decently dressed, she sets her hands to her hips and cocks her head, examining him carefully.

"I've no garden for you to disappoint me in, young man." She starts out brisk and continues that way, matter of fact. "Now. I plan to take a position as interpreter aboard one of the ships here, if I can talk fast enough to persuade a captain. I expect there'll be little serving tea or cooking in your future should you choose to come with me."
jackie_bird on August 3rd, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
She's going to take position on a ship? He can get aboard a ship without begging, stowing away, or advertising qualities he would rather not? He can have a woman to stand between himself and the all-too-lonely men of the ship's crew? This may be the best news he's ever heard. Certainly the best he's heard in the nude.

Jack's eyes are as wide as any other boy's might have been just at the pretty young woman's state of undress. He smiles, slow and wide, and looks all too cocky for a naked boy with no hair south of his eyelashes.

"Madam, I can think of no better course than to follow. Lead on! I might, should the help be welcome, also give assistance in choosing just the right vessel for your employment. I've a good knowledge of ships. ... I, however, am lacking in decent cover."
He casts his eyes down on the pile of his lost clothing laying on the tavern floor near Elizabeth's feet.

"They're won fairly, I realize, but might I have at least the trousers returned, eh?"
foratlantis on August 3rd, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
Elizabeth laughs, quiet and warm in that particular way she has. "I somehow suspect I'd find your garments ill fitting. Take them back with my blessing." She taps her fingers against her hip and purses her lips, looking around.

"I should welcome help in finding such a vessel. I am not without experience in such matters, but it is somewhat limited. I suppose you haven't heard of the Perseverance." The Perseverance, for those of you following at home, as a pirate ship captained by Marshall Sumner, which some few people may have been expecting at this port.

Elizabeth was the only survivor, more's the pity.
jackie_bird on August 3rd, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
"The Perseverance? ... A crew of freebooters, is it not? Or, rather, that's what she had previous to her untimely undoing, if rumors are to be believed."

He knew of her only from traveling among other pirates sharing the same waters. Jack heard some vague word that she'd gone down, but there's not one trip to port goes by that he doesn't here some notable pirate ship has met her demise, only to see her in the next port in more than fair condition. When the truth is a hard thing to find, rumors spread easy and wildly.

"What concern is she of yours, miss?"
foratlantis on August 3rd, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Elizabeth permits herself only mild discomfort at the description of Marshall's crew -- it's true, after all, and she has become accustomed to a great deal in her time since leaving London. "I was the interpreter on that ship, as well as the Captain's wife." She's stretching the truth a little, but her conviction that it counts, because they were engaged to be wed, covers her subtle tells of a lie.

"My captain had a task before him that I intend to complete. I cannot do so gardening." Her lips curve into a smile and she nods, decisively. "We'll find a new ship."
jackie_bird on August 3rd, 2007 06:25 am (UTC)
He has the vaguest sense that he's said something wrong. More and more it's difficult to tell why people feel what they do. Obviously, people are becoming more confusing. Jack's certainly done nothing to change.
When she says the captain was her husband, Jack nods solemnly, only because he knows he ought to for whatever reason. He wonders if she'll marry the captain of the next ship. Maybe it's a habit.

"Noble cause on your part. I'll help see you succeed in your task, and you might aid me in mine. You'll see to... Whatever it is that you've your mind set to do.. And I'll find my own ship to captain."

He finishes re-dressing and brushes his clothes off.
"Let us, then, find the ship that holds our futures."
Jack offers a hand out for the good woman to lead her out to the docks.
"Jack Sparrow, at your service."
foratlantis on August 3rd, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
"That's quite the ambition you have," Elizabeth comments, more impressed with his initiative at this age than mocking. She can say little about grand dreams -- she intends to find Atlantis. Whether or not she will remains to be seen.

Taking his hand, she wrinkles her nose a bit at her bare feet on the ground and then takes a step forward. "Elizabeth Sumner," she replies, without a moment's hesitation. Marshall's name is hers to take; he'd offered it, among many other things. It was fate and not his choice that prevented him from making good on his promises, and she figures it's not too presumptuous to pretend as though he did. "Let's us to the future."
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
"I'm a man meant for great things." And one who can say so with all the conviction in the world. That cocky attitude will get him in trouble time and again throughout his life, but it will also serve Jack well.

He has a grand stride and something of a proud swagger to him as he leads Elizabeth from the tavern and out to the docks. The deck of cards and the money left for the barmaid have, in the time he was dressing, made their way into Jack's pockets. He's feeling very good about himself.
"Walk swiftly ma'am, and don't dare to chance a look behind. The future waits for no man... or woman, I suppose."

This shall be a finer enterprise than any of his seafaring ventures to date. He can feel it.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
"I expect you'll have a grand time proving that," Elizabeth says, almost teasingly, and quickens her pace to keep up -- it's not difficult, but she was lagging behind a bit so he wouldn't notice the almost maternally amused look that his swaggering earned. She does have a fairly good idea of what a young man's ego is like.

"Very little waits for anyone," she observes, then, wishing for a moment she'd won more soundly and wouldn't be forced to try and persuade a captain of her usefulness while half in her undergarments. There are certainly many uses for beautiful young women in their undergarments, and she's quite certain most if not all ship captains are aware of them.

Still, she does have a fairly good feeling about this. Marshall believed in her, and she still believes in his quest.
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
"I've had a time of it thus far, that's certain. Is size really of such importance? .... Don't answer that."

He laughs a bit at the idea nothing waits. Truly, nothing does. Life is ending at an alarming rate even from the moment it starts and everything that happens in the interim is fleeting and often you only have the one shot. You had best make it count.
Jack, oddly enough, hardly notices Elizabeth's public state of undress for a while. Not until they're a ways down the docs and he's contemplating just which ship to approach first. A pretty boy and a naked woman? Lord, they do look like they're selling something.

"Stay here. Just a moment, eh? I'll be back in a wink. You've my word."
For what that's worth. And with that, Jack darts off into the last of the open vendors in the market. He moves along quickly from one booth to another. Considers each thing, occasionally fingering what little gold he has to interest merchants in hocking their wares to him. Then once he's able to anger one man at another, via talking in odd circles mostly, he slips off with one of the large decorative scarves used to cover the table and disappears. He goes through a few alleys and returns to Elizabeth, panting slightly.

"Have you ever before worn a sari, Mrs. Sumner? I've a talent and quickness in wrapping them."
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
Elizabeth decides immediately that she doesn't want to know how he procured the scarf, and nods. "I have, but not without some assistance in the wrapping." Marshall's assistance, actually. That was a fun day. But she's very good at compartmenting things away in her mind until it's more appropriate to focus on them, and so the fond memories are barely thought of, but for a brush of her fingertips on the St Christopher's medal that once belonged to the man she now claims as husband.

"Let's be quick about it," she suggests, glancing about and stepping quickly out of the direct line of sight of anyone walking by. She does have some modesty left -- quite a bit, actually, she's just become exceptionally good at adapting. She's had to, and entirely expects she'll have to get even better with no Marshall to keep her close and safe.

Life has a tendency of complicating itself. She's not sure how to feel about that, but she'll roll with the punches as best she can. It's the only thing to be done.
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)
Off to the side of the thoroughfare and out of view, Jack gets Elizabeth to crouch just a bit and wraps it neatly around her. He actually is very good at it. He's done it for his mother and for the other Hindi girls working with her in the brothel. He also knows how to make and apply kajal to cool and darken his eyes, but he found that just causes him more trouble on ships.

"There. Lovely and modest as ever. Fit to negotiate with the sort of rough and dubious men who captain ships....The departed loves of present company excluded, naturally."

Hmm. Perhaps that was wrong to say. Leading off towards a specific ship ought to change the topic nicely.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
"Rough, certainly," she murmurs, barely to him at all, permitting herself a few moments of nostalgia. The three years she spent on Captain Sumner's ship were educational, in many ways. Not for the first time, she wonders if it wouldn't be a better idea to find herself passage back to London, to beg her father's forgiveness...

She has no father to beg any more, but she doesn't know that, and it'll likely be a long time before she discovers that, if she ever does. No; she's made her decision -- made her bed and now she'll lie in it. The independence she learned aboard the Perseverance has served her well so far, and now with relatively pleasant company and a mission in her heart, she's more sure of herself than she's ever been.

"To which Captain are we appealing, young Jack?"
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)
"I believe the man's name is Captain Benjamin. The ship is the finest of the John Company fleet in port here. Best to make our futures aboard a safe and reputable ship, is it not?"

The East India Trading Company is already earning a poor reputation among pirates and free sailors alike. 'John Company' is claiming every port in the known world and spreading each year. The crown throws money at them and looks to them to get it back. The dependency growing there will be a problem before long. But Jack is too hopeful and innocent to see a corrupt force, ruining nations and robbing hard working men of their jobs and taxing them if they choose to keep sailing. All Jack sees is a noble sailing job for himself. A respectable position, acknowledged by the monarchy. A fine alternative to the navy he's too small and untrained to join.

His grin gives away his ignorance to the flaws in his plan.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
Elizabeth, however, remembers well the lessons that Marshall taught her about the men at sea. She blinks and takes Jack by the shoulder, shaking her head. "I think in this case we will listen to my captain's previous advice, young Jack. The reputation of the John Company is...not something we wish to associate ourselves with, you see? Wiser than we have found themselves in ruin." She purses her lips, not quite allowing her expression to slip into a frown.

"No, come with me. We'll try the Hellequin -- I've heard tell that they have need of an interpreter." She doesn't know all of the details of this, but she figures it's a step in the door if they're actively looking for someone to fill the position.

A few years ago, she wouldn't have thought twice about stepping aboard Captain Benjamin's ship. A few years ago, though, she had more book learning than common sense or knowledge of the real world.
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC)
"They're mapping the world, Elizabeth! They're making a mark on history never to be removed! To be part of that...."

Not all permanent marks on the world are good ones or worth leaving. Jack has yet to learn that. Not really. But now he's being told no and sulking over it, rather than truly thinking on the matter. The ship that is suggested as alternative is not even one he's familiar with.

"The Hellequin? What manner of vessel is she?"
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
"There are marks, and there are scars." Elizabeth begins her brisk walk towards the Hellequin -- the natural sway of womanly hips is both more noticeable with the purposeful walk she employs and slightly less appealing than it would be if she were sauntering. Then again, tastes vary. Either way, whatever attention she catches is hardly noticed by her.

She's fairly good at affecting a haughtily oblivious demeanor when she chooses to, but this time she's simply looking very determined. Because she is.
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
"Yes, but...."

Jack sighs and follows after her, looking more like an insufferable and needy child than the confident and motivated loner he seemed just a few minutes ago. Now he's showing quick dependence on the strange woman he's been given to. It may be how she walks. Jack has an odd fascination with strong women that will stick with him for years to come. Blame his mother.

"Who's the captain of this ship? Do we know that, at least? Is this her port of origin? Where does she make berth?"
He flails as he follows dutifully and asks useless things.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Elizabeth's purposeful stride doesn't slow, but she does check to be sure he's coming with her -- now that he appears to have decided to come with her (and she would have let him go if he'd chosen not to), she's decided she's responsible for him.

"Captain Adam Kaufman. The rest of your questions can wait, for now." Which means she doesn't know the answers, but she sounds so damn sure of herself as she says it that it's entirely possible he won't actually realise that -- although, he is a quick young man, evidently.

Locating the ship in question, she hopes for a lack of splinters and hurries aboard, lifting her skirts a little as she moves, eyes peeled for the man she glimpsed.
agentoftheocean on August 4th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
Captain Adam Kaufman is a bit startled to see two strangers swishing onto his ship, neither of them the sort of able-bodied, mostly-morally-upstanding-ish young male sailor he's still hoping he might have a chance of attracting a few of. Ragged children and oddly-dressed ladies are the Hellequin's main imports, it would seem.

"Have you something to ask of me, or are you merely lost?" he asks impatiently.
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
For a ragged child, Jack stands like a man (or...particularly strong willed woman, really, the way he talks with his hands) and addresses the captain almost as he would an equal, rather than the commander of the ship he's so casually let himself onto.

"My mistress is seeking employment, as I am looking for a ship to serve on. I've only served as cabin boy previous, mind, but I've learned a bit and take to new lessons quickly. You'll find your fine ship is better with us, sir, than without."

He sounds very sure of that. Despite the fact that neither women nor weak children are particularly well thought of at sea.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
Elizabeth rests her hand on Jack's shoulder, meeting Adam's gaze steadily and with confidence that comes easily to her -- she may not feel it all the time, but she can be convincing when she chooses to.

"I have heard you require the services of an interpreter, Captain Kaufman," she says, well spoken and polite. "I wish to offer mine. I speak many languages fluently, and still more I can converse in. My name is Elizabeth Sumner."

She's hoping -- but not banking on it -- that Adam will recognise 'her' surname. Captain Sumner himself had something of a reputation -- a good one, or at least one that earned him respect. It's not like her to try and make good on someone else's deeds, but she needs this, and she knows he'd want her to use everything at her disposal.
agentoftheocean on August 4th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
He does indeed. He'd admired the tales of Captain Sumner, what little he'd heard. Been a little jealous, too, but he can aspire to have that sort of reputation someday, can't he?

It would have been nice to have an interpreter around when they'd first brought Jin Yoon aboard, but that seems to have...somewhat settled itself. Still. One never knows when a situation might spring up. An interpreter would be a vastly valuable thing to have.

"Do you speak any Oriental tongues?" he asks, tilting his head and studying her. "Moorish? And you--" He turns to Jack. "...you look able-bodied enough, I suppose."
jackie_bird on August 4th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
"More than able bodied, captain, and I'm quick on the rigging. Good with knots, both the tying and untying. .... And I've a fair hand and eye for charts as well, if you've need."

Were he so inclined, he could mention he knows French, Hindi, and a smattering of Spanish. But he's not. It's not the position he's after. That job is for the nice lady who won him at the tables --and has thus far been goodly enough not to mention those circumstances.
Jack begins looking around and taking in the ship. She's a pretty thing and of a fair size, he supposes. He'll have to feel her on open water. It's an idle thing, always in the back of his mind, but he's looking for his ship. He'll know her when he finds her.
foratlantis on August 4th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
Elizabeth inclines her head, one hand resting on her hip. "I do, sir. What I don't know I can learn of a quickness, given the opportunity." She's polite and respectful enough, so long as he's not the kind of man given to taking offense at the strong-willed sureness of self that this woman possesses, the clever and observant way she sizes him up. Other men have been, and she lacks her captain's staunch protection these days.

It doesn't occur to her to expect anything similar from Jack, naturally.
agentoftheocean on August 4th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
"Charts are the one thing we have less need for than you'd think, but an extra hand on the deck is never amiss. You'll report to Mr. Hardaway presently, when we're done here."

Offense, no. Not quite that. Unease, though...yes. Adam doesn't like being sized up by anyone.

"You, Mistress Sumner, will share quarters with our navigator. If you do not speak her language, I hope you can acquire it quickly."
jackie_bird on August 5th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC)
"Mr. Hardaway... Yes, captain."

Jack worries, because he can't not worry. Still, he looks sure that he'll be well liked and well treated by this Hardaway fellow. He always tries to hope. Often, that's the bit that hurts when he's wrong, but what's the use in not holding out hope?

It also interests him that the navigator is a girl. Another girl aboard a ship. Odd thing, that. He also wonders if she's a superior navigator to himself.
foratlantis on August 5th, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
Elizabeth squeezes Jack's shoulder briefly, silent encouragement. He may or may not need it, but as she does consider herself responsible for his wellbeing now, it comes automatically. As such things do. "Thank you, Captain Kaufman," she says, and it might be surprising how sincere she sounds -- how sincere she is.

"What is her language? I might know something similar enough to pass while I learn it." Elizabeth is always looking on the bright side. The truth is she already knows the language in question, which will become rapidly obvious when she meets the woman. "I expect you'll wish to discuss wages? I have no outrageous demands, Captain, be assured."
agentoftheocean on August 5th, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
"Korean? I believe it is Korean. None of us speak a word of it."

Oh, goody. Discussion of payment. This is the part Adam has been looking forward to ever so much. He manages not to look too overly grim.

"We may have differing definitions of 'outrageous,' Mistress Sumner. Name your price and let us negotiate."
jackie_bird on August 5th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC)
Elizabeth's reassuring attention is nice, really. However, she's digging her own grave. Once the boy starts depending on her, he's unlikely to stop. It's a troubling habit with momma's boys.

While the 'adults' negotiate, Jack begins exploring. He wants to better know the ship... He's also liable to pocket anything small, shiny and not nailed down.
foratlantis on August 5th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
There's another phrase that springs to mind -- 'making a rod for her own back'. Elizabeth tends to do that a lot. Especially when it comes for taking responsibility for people who probably shouldn't be her responsibility. The warning is much appreciated, but sadly will go to waste. The truth is, she'll likely be flattered if he comes to depend on her, even if it gets them both into trouble.

In any case, her attention turns (partly) away from Jack and instead to Captain Kaufman. Keeping one eye on what Jack's doing (as best she can), she gauges the good Captain's means as best she can from a quick glance over both himself and his ship. The price she names for her services isn't particularly outrageous, as she promised, but probably somewhat too steep for the Captain to accept it as it is.

After all, she's working by what Captain Sumner informed her she could earn under him (and would've earned, if she wasn't considered as good as his wife and therefore didn't need to paid for her work), and what he could afford and what Captain Kaufman can afford are likely two different things.
agentoftheocean on August 7th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
He would rather not have Jack wandering around the ship unattened, but he trusts that Harlan or one of the larger and more aggressive crewmen will handle him if necessary. The current business is more pressing.

It's embarrassing not to be able to accept her terms outright, because he realizes that she's trying not to take advantage of him. He sets his jaw squarely.

"I am not a wealthy man, Mistress, as you may have discerned. I can pay you eighty-five percent of that, but no more."

Paying her a decent salary is a matter of honor. He's not trying to stiff her.