Title: Join the Battle
Author: Gileonnen (anne_from_xanth@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Jack/Will (implied)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: It's a mark of a man's pride, being able to make his own meals.
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Author's Notes: leah_chan sent this challenge my way; as per her requests, Join the Battle is a sequel to 'Bathwater' that features Jack's cooking, a sudden entry by Will, and Jack brandishing a fork.


Onions and potatoes rolled everywhere as Jack slammed the basket down on the table.

Damn, where was the salt?

The cabinets yielded flour and dried peppers and suspicious-smelling yeast, but nary a bit of salt. There were apples drying on strings around the room and rum bottles on the shelves, and even dried and smoked ham, but not a dash of salt!

If Captain Jack Sparrow had really thought about it, he would have placed the blame for his temper on the woman who had sold him potatoes. First she'd slapped him with no good cause (he'd only told her that he'd never seen such a fine pair of potatoes as she had on display--where was the offense in that?), and then asked what his girl planned to make with the vegetables. When he'd told her proudly that he could cook his own meals, she had laughed in his face.

He had taken it into his mind in a moment of madness that he was going to wage war on these vegetables and come out of it with the best damn stew that any man had ever eaten, so help him!

The trouble wasn't that Jack's idea of cooking was throwing everything into a tureen with a bit of water and mashing it a bit when things started boiling. The trouble, he knew, was that there was simply no salt.

He resolved to spend more time at the house in Tortuga. Totally apart from missing Will's company, a man should be able to find the salt in his own house.

Temporarily thwarted, he turned to peeling the potatoes.

--

A solid hour later, four gorgeous, pristine potatoes lay glistening on the table. Jack sucked his bleeding fingers and shot dark looks at the fat, white roots.

Scurvy blaggards, he thought, taking great pleasure in slicing his worthy opponents lengthwise and crosswise. He'd never thought such a stereotypical curse before, but it definitely fit the occasion. Jack dunked his hands in the soup kettle to clean them and did another perfunctory search for the elusive salt. This time, though, he was looking for healing rather than seasoning.

He had battled the navy, the undead, and a determined blacksmith (whom he still battled on occasion, but in an entirely different arena). Captain Jack Sparrow would not be defeated by common garden vegetables.

--

The pirate emerged from the onions with his eyes watering and his minced hands stinging like the blazes of Hell. He had gained a profound respect for housewives and a distinct longing for bandages.

Will was still cloistered in his forge like some eunuch friar, with nary a spare bit of comfort for his poor, bleeding Jack. He had best enjoy the stew, because damned if the captain was going to this kind of trouble again when he stood to gain nothing.

If Jack had been a less prideful man, he would have just chucked the potatoes and onions in the kettle, fed the fire until the water boiled, and called it a day.

This, though, was an assault on his pride. And his mind had tacked on the rather suspect addendum that anyway it was all for Will.

He rubbed still-bleeding fingers that dripping with onion juice across his eyes.

--

Over the pounding of the hammer and the roar of the forge-fire, Will heard a shriek, but dismissed it immediately. This was Tortuga, after all. Shrieks were all in a day's work.

--

Jack sharpened his dagger on a whetstone. He was going to slice the peppers to ribbons, and he was rather hoping that they would scream.

Unfortunately, they did no such thing. However, the sight of their wizened red flesh--so close to the color of dried blood--cooled some of the temper that had been burning in Jack since the potato woman had taken her meaty hand to his cheek.

Jack Sparrow was not an angry man. Irrational, yes, and it was irrationality rather than rage that made him whisper dire threats to the dried ham as he cut it to bits.

--

It was a lovely smell. A kind of homey smell that insinuated itself through the forge and drew Will to his feet. He rubbed the crick in his neck and hoisted the bag that he'd brought down this morning, feeling very hungry. Perhaps he and Jack would have some meat and rum for supper. Perhaps Will would even make a proper meal--they saw each other seldom enough.

To his growing shock, the smell got stronger as he strolled across the narrow alley between forge and home, and stronger still as he opened the side door. By the time he reached the kitchen, he'd realized that not only was it a fantastic smell, it was also dinner.

"Mmm . . ." he murmured, and Jack whirled, fork held before him like a sword. There was a mad look in his eyes and blood on his hands.

"Fight like a man, you--oh! Will, lad." He put down the fork. "Where d'you keep the salt?"

The blacksmith hefted his bag onto the table. "I took it down to the forge . . . saltwater is good for--"

"Give me that!" Jack snatched the bag and tossed a liberal handful into the pot. He gasped, clutching his hand.

"What did you do to yourself?" Will asked, horrified.

Captain Jack Sparrow, picture of domesticity, indicated the stew. "Made ye dinner, love," he gritted, smiling tightly. "Can't join the battle without spilling a bit of blood."

END