Title: Fear
Author: Gileonnen (anne_from_xanth@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Jack/Will/Elizabeth, Jack/Norrington (implied)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Will plays the hero in the waking world, but who guards Elizabeth and Jack while they dream?
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.


Elizabeth lies awake in her great feather bed, clutching Will's arm tight while he sleeps. She darts a quick glance across her husband, and although Jack doesn't look over, she can see the glitter of his eyes in the moonlight that streams through the casement. He lies awake as well, and the man whom they share ventures into the world of dreams, where neither of them yet dare to go.

She has grown to accept Will's place--just in front of her, not leading but protecting. He has rescued her too many times to take any other, although she fancies herself strong.

The pirate does not accept willingly. He wants to be the leader, the fighter, the first person whom anyone sees. He wants to be able to chase his own nightmares away, and Will can't understand.

Elizabeth does. She understands the man all too well, and perhaps that is why she consents to share her husband with a madman. She bears no love for Jack, but she understands the mind that staggers blindly behind the madness.

Both fear the cage, and the trap, and most of all they fear the knife and the noose. It is the nightmares of knife and noose that keep them awake, Elizabeth clutching Will's arm and Jack with his hands behind his head, as they try to match their breathing to Will's.

She remembers stark terror, terror like clean bones and moon-lined clouds. Remembers hands at her neck and the gleam of the light and the gleam of the gold and the shining eyes of the crowd below her and she knows that she is going to die--hands pulling her hair back and the press of metal against her neck and the wild chatter of the Devil's pet monkey.

She knows fear in her marrow and she knows she is going to die.

And before they slit her palm, in the center of the hard knot of fear, she would wake. Will does not know that she has these dreams, and she cannot tell him. He would only try to save her again from something that cannot be fought.

The pirate is her unlikely companion in fear. He watches her when her deep, slow breaths grow regular and unforced, and he holds her wrists so that she will not thrash. And when he sleeps, as he only does late in the night, she stands watch over him.

Will is their guardian in the world of the waking, but they watch each other at night.

Elizabeth wonders if the pirate's dreams are of his execution. If he feels the eyes of the crowd on him as a voice shouts over the crowd, describing the debt that his blood would pay. If he imagines the hands at his neck that pull back his matted hair to snare him in noose. If it is the stark terror of the moment that draws those strange, eerie whimpers from the back of his throat while he sleeps.

By day, Elizabeth and Jack are safe under Will's protection, whether they want to be or not. Elizabeth can laugh in relief at the small blood-price that she had paid for naught, and Jack can mutter that the hanging nonsense was all Commodore Norrington's revenge on him for being jilted in Madagascar six years ago. Elizabeth still isn't sure if Jack is joking or not.

By day, those times when Captain Sparrow puts in to port at Port Royal are happy, easy, adventurous times of sailing and fine dining and crowded, blissful lovemaking. The governor's daughter and her husband are always disappointed when the wanderlust takes Jack again and he boards the Black Pearl in search of adventure and mayhem.

When the pirate has gone, though, and husband and wife are left alone on the great feather bed at night, there is no one to understand Elizabeth's nightmares.

She cherishes these moments when they are three together. A man to love and to protect her when she wakes, and a man to empathize and to watch her while she sleeps.

Elizabeth fancies herself strong and Jack fancies himself a fighter, but alone, neither can battle fear.

END