Title: Exceptionally Rare
Author: Lady BD (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Will discovers treasure. Sequel to 'Of Swords and Sparrows' Part three in the Swords and Sparrows series
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm too poor to sue.
Notes: This is the conclusion of the "Swords and Sparrows" trilogy - (which began with Rum With the Captain). This did not start as a trilogy but wouldn't stop gnawing at me. It was inspired by a scene from Aladdin crossed with Casablanca - my apologies for so much concentrated mouse.
The red glow of the shop was so low that for a moment Will wasn't sure it was a business at all. He had wandered through the door for the sake of curiosity only - he had never seen anything quite so ornate. The ornamental designs lovingly carved into wood of deepest ebony spoke of faraway lands. No sign hung over the entrance, but the district was crowded with merchants. On impulse Will decided to take a chance and go in.
Pink-tinged smoke from a dozen sources drifted in sensual patterns to the ceiling, aromatic tendrils wafted around him like a teasing promise. Heavy red fabric draped the walls making it impossible to discern just how large the room really was. Oil lamps swung lazily from hooks in the ceiling, causing the shadows to join in a rhythmic dance. And the shelves
Will forgot his caution as he examined the shelf nearest him a bit more closely. It was filled with trinkets and gadgets the likes of which he had never before imagined. Some had labels, "Good Luck, Guaranteed!", "Win Her Heart!", "Wealth Beyond Imagination!" but most sat mute, offering no hint as to their former or possibly future purpose.
"Good evening to the gentleman!" a voice directly behind him cried, and Will spun around, by reflex half-drawing. Then he looked down. The man who had hailed him stood directly level with his elbow and was bowing even lower. "Welcome to my humble abode. You seem quite a," here he looked at Will's sword, still showing silver, "fearsome fellow, someone to be respected, yes. For you, I am sure something unique can be found."
Embarrassed, Will sheathed his sword. "I'm sorry," he stammered. "You startled me."
"The fault is entirely mine," the merchant replied smoothly. "Allow me to compensate by appealing to your sense of intrigue." He seemed to reach into the shelf at random, picking up the first object he touched. "I'm sure the gentleman would be most gratified to consider this."
Dubious, Will looked at the object being held before him. Whichever end went up he was unable to determine, for the thing seemed to have at least eight legs, perhaps two tongues, and fifteen eyes. If someone had rapidly sewn together several very small and rather unfortunate mammals, it may have looked something like this. "This is what, exactly?"
The merchant grew suddenly fierce. "It is used to curse your enemies! Strike at them with this and they never recover!"
Will backed away quickly. "I've had enough of curses, thank you."
The object was dropped where it fell with a dejected thud at their feet. Again the merchant reached, and again held before Will something treated as though made of the most precious spun silk. "I see you have a taste for the exotic my good sir. In that case, please be so kind as to consider this!"
His hands were cupped around whatever he held, so that Will could barely see. When he squinted, he finally was able to determine what the wondrous article was.
The merchant seemed genuinely wounded. "It is a very special rock! Look!" He thrust it forward again, and Will could see that sea life had grown on top of the rock at one time. It was the same as any other he had ever seen. "Look at the pattern, sir!" he whispered in a conspiratorial tone. "Does it not remind you of coin of the realm?"
Will looked again. When turned exactly right, and in the dim light, it was possible to make out the pattern. A shilling. The rock looked like a shilling.
The merchant was beside himself when he saw the recognition on Will's face. "You see! This rock brings wealth to whoever owns it! Whoever holds it shall be richer than all the kings of the world! You can not afford to let such a treasure pass you by!"
Shaking his head, Will smiled. "I have no need for treasure. But the shop is interesting. Thank you for letting me look. Good ev "
The rock was dropped and an altogether different expression came over the merchant's face. "You are from that ship? The one with all the stories?"
A sudden chill swept through Will. Resisting the urge to once again draw, he tried to remain casual. "Which ship is that?"
"There is a ship nearby. One with magnificent black sails. One with full treasure holds and experiences with curses, hum? The stories of her and her crew are legion." His eyes narrowed a bit more. "Ah it is true. You are part of this crew, are you not?"
Will's grip tightened on his sword. "I've done you no harm, sir. I only wish to depart in peace."
At once the merchant held up his hands, bowing almost to the floor. "The good gentleman misunderstands. For you sir oh, you have traveled the world. You have seen many, many things. I can see you are interested in only the most exceptionally rare. If you will wait but a moment " He glanced up, making sure Will was not trying to leave, then he scurried behind one of the voluminous folds of crimson cloth.
He knew he should depart at once. If the authorities were called now it could spell disaster for them all. And yet some small part of Will's mind was intrigued. He had never set foot in a place so bizarre, nor met a character so unique. Well, of course there was Jack, but Jack was in a class by himself. So despite the warning bell he waited.
Several minutes later the merchant returned, triumphantly holding up a dusty silver box. Will looked at it doubtfully, but the merchant only smiled. "For you, my good sir, I believe I have found the perfect prize. Behold " He cracked open the box and in spite of himself Will took a step back. He wasn't sure what he expected - flaming toads perhaps or a newt babbling in tongues. But not this.
Not touching, he wonderingly examined the interior for many moments. Then he looked up, meeting an expression that was almost smug. The merchant quickly adopted a mask of careful congeniality. "Perhaps the young sir would care for a closer inspection?" He drew down an oil lamp, illuminating the interior of the box.
The pearls shown in the lamplight. For that's what they were. Will had seen too much treasure to be fooled by imitations. Their luster gleamed even in the dim glow, reflecting back all the colors of the rainbow. Each bore slight imperfections which mother nature had stamped upon them. But even so they were perfect. Evenly matched. Two identical black pearls - two perfectly matched, twin HUGE black pearls.
"Where did you get them?" Will asked, his voice hushed.
"It is a wondrous tale," the merchant replied. "It began on a dark night, with a dark man with a dark purpose "
"Friend " Will interrupted gently, cutting off the merchant just as he warmed to his topic "never mind. How much do you wish for them?"
Suddenly the merchant looked mournful, eyeing the pearls as though they were his own children. "Sadly, I must part with them at a great sacrifice. Terrible loss. I have had them so long, they are like a part of me, sir. I am sure you understand."
Will crossed his arms. "How much?" The merchant crept closer and whispered a sum in his ear. Genuinely shocked, Will stepped back. "HOW much?"
The merchant shrugged hopelessly. "The pearls are of great price, sir. Consider them again." He held them up enticingly. "Nowhere will you find such beauties as these. Reflect on the magnificent size, fit for the court of any czar! - ponder the flawless complexion loose yourself in the mystery, the depths of the shading " He drifted off, and for once his eyes were not fixed on Will's. Rather, they had locked on Will's right arm, where he now bore a dark tattoo, barely healed. Hesitantly the merchant reached out to touch the crossed swords, and the bird which flew proudly between them, then jerked his hand back as though burned. His eyes turned fearfully to Will's once more. "You are Jack Sparrow? The Jack Sparrow?"
Suppressing a grin, Will tried to look stern. "A very good friend."
"For friends of Jack, I have a special price." He quickly whispered a sum substantially lower than that quoted before. Will frowned and shook his head. The merchant clapped his hands to his face. "What am I saying? Today only, for very good friends of Jack, a very good price." He named a third sum. In response Will named a sum exactly half that. The merchant looked pained. "Sir, I must live! I have a family to feed! Five children! My wife, she will kill me, flay me alive if I allow the pearls to be sold for such a low figure!"
"Then good evening to you. And thank you again."
Will turned only to find his way blocked. "However, I will find a way to make it up to her. The pearls are yours, good sir."
Will turned, smiling just a little. "Wonderful. Now here's what I want you to do."
Anamaria gave out a low whistle upon seeing Will on deck. He knew it was coming so he simply stood his ground and waited as she and a few others crowded around him. Fortunately most of the crew was either ashore or asleep - he'd get the worst of it tomorrow.
Even still, he knew Anamaria wouldn't let it go, so he waited. Finally she completed her inspection. "You're trying to sink us, that's it."
"It's not that big."
The group erupted in catcalls and whistles. "Not that big?" She leaned in for a closer look. "You'll need a crutch for the extra weight."
"Lad's no good now for a sword." Gibbs agreed. "Top-heavy, he is!"
"Will," Elizabeth couldn't take her eyes away from his new earring, which flashed muted rainbows in the low lamplight of the deck, "I've seen royalty dressed in riches before, but never anything that big! Where did you get it?"
"Aye." From the back of the small crowd came a familiar voice, accompanied by the ever-present jingling of charms. "That's somethin we'd all like to hear." Jack leaned forward, ogling the pearl Will wore with a cross between alarm and fascination. "Who'd you lift it from, lad? How soon should we put to sea?"
Confused, Will looked at the pirate. "Lift it?"
"Steal it," Jack clarified, leaning in again, getting a good look. "Lump like that, musta been a bundle. Governor's wife, maybe?" Jack spun around, clapping Will on the arm. "Knew we'd make a pirate of you yet!"
Will was horrified. He didn't know which was worse, to confess the truth, or to let them assume the worst. Either way Finally he straightened. "I didn't steal it."
Jack stiffened, then looked over his shoulder. "Say again?"
"I didn't steal it. No one is coming for us."
Eyes wide, Jack turned back and nearly staggered into Will. "Do you mean," it was as though he was forcing the words, "you *paid* for that?" Behind him the crew muttered suspiciously.
Dramatically sweeping off his hat, Jack dropped his head to rest upon Will's chest. "Will, Will, Will, William, Will my boy have I taught you nothing?" He raised his head and replaced his hat with a sigh. "Remedial piracy lessons at dawn. The rest of you, back to work!" The crew scattered as Jack all but trudged down the stairs toward his quarters.
Will smiled at the retreating figure fondly, brushing his fingers over the bulge in his breast pocket. When he was sure Jack had time enough to get to his cabin, he followed, knocking softly on the closed door.
"If you've come to apologize, s'too late." came the response through the door. "I'm wounded, I am."
"Yes, but I know a way to counter such a blow," Will called back.
"The wounded party lets the guilty man in, so that the guilty man might offer the wounded party a token of his affection and thereby restore him."
The door jerked open. "Sounds better when I say it." Jack muttered, ushering Will into his cabin. Then he flopped dramatically onto his bunk, retrieving a mug of rum along the way. "Grieves me, Will. It truly does. Got to beat this honest streak out of you. Otherwise we'll never make a truly decent pirate outta you." Then he raised his head, took a long pull of rum, and said "Did you say token of affection?"
Moving to the edge of the bunk, Will sat down. "I did. Unless you're not interested in something honestly gained. I could go "
He made as though to stand, but Jack's arm snaked around him, pulling Will back down again. "I said nothing about leavin, now did I?" A hint of a grin teased around the corners of his mouth.
"That you didn't." Will deftly plucked the mug from Jack's hand, earning a yelp of protest. He placed it on the floor then said, "Close your eyes."
"No. Unless they're closed, you don't get it."
At once Jack flopped back as though dead. Will waved his hand before his eyes, then reached into his pocket, withdrawing a large silver ring into which was mounted the second pearl. He didn't even have time to place it on Jack's hand before he raised his head and cracked his eyes. "Stop cheating!"
Jack looked smug. "It's what pirates do." Then he looked at the ring in Will's hand. "S'truth, love. Where did you come by that trinket?"
Will looked down, embarrassed. "I had it made. I hope you like it. It reminded me of you and when I saw it I " Jack raised his hand, stilling the explanation. Then he turned his hand over, palm up, and Will placed the ring in the center. He tried a few fingers experimentally, shifting a ring here and there until it suited him, and then held his hand up to the light. Gleaming on the third finger of his right hand, the pearl stood out in all its splendor, dwarfing the other jewels.
Jack caught Will staring. "Doesn't mean we're married."
He fingered his newly pierced ear. "Maybe to the Pearl," Will replied softly.
Meeting his eyes, Jack nodded slowly. "Maybe." He suddenly moved forward, catching Will in a swift kiss. Will was quick to respond, by now understanding his lover's moods. This was not playful, it was almost force, a strength Will matched gladly as he rapidly removed Jack's clothes. When the air hit his body he was a little surprised. When had Jack he glanced over to see his clothing scattered across the floor. But he had no time to ponder, because his lover was on him, mouth searching for his, the kisses so deep breathing was an afterthought, Muscles straining, Jack sought for position and Will lost himself in the feel of being claimed. Their union was fast, hard, almost painful. Will felt the world become fire as he almost howled his passion, his incredible need for the man who held him.
He came down slowly, dreamily, tangled so closely he wasn't sure where he ended and Jack began. He didn't care. So long as he never moved again that was fine. He looked over sleepily at Jack to find him studying the ring once more. "You really like it?"
Jack's voice was rough. "First present I've gotten in well. I don't get presents."
Will looked at the man beside him, wondering again at the past he'd probably never know. So much to make up for. Will smiled. "Now you do. Even if it wasn't stolen." He sneaked a quick kiss.
Like lightening the mood was broken, as Will counted on. "How could you give me somethin so honest?" He sighed sleepily, eyes already closing. "How could I be in love with an honest man?"
Will let him mutter until Jack slept, safe in the confines of his arms. Soon after, he too fell into a deep, untroubled sleep. When he dreamed it was of pirates with midnight eyes on the deck of the mightiest ship on the sea. And in the captain's cabin, the twin black pearls gleamed softly in the muted light, their rainbow hues reflecting in harmony back and forth a single, perfect love.