A Case of Semantics

Jack and Barbossa. PG-13. ~600 words. Spoilers for AWE. Artwork by Ponderosa.

“You,” Jack says, stumble-dancing to the left as a treacherous bottle tries to insinuate itself between his feet and the deck, “you stole my ship. Again!”

“Best mind your knees, Jack,” Barbossa says. “Wouldn’t want you to be getting all bruised up by somethin’ other than meself.”

Warily, Jack eyes Barbossa’s toothy smile before poking his head into a cabinet. He wriggles his fingers, raps his knuckles against aging wood and listens intently. “Ah!” Triumphant, he hefts the false bottom and comes up with a bottle of murky rum clutched in each grimy fist. “Wriggling your goods into all my nooks and crannies, eh, Hector,” he accuses, and examines said goods as he turns. “Pirate.”

Barbossa rolls his eyes heavenward, obviously pausing along the way to admire the Pearl’s newest trappings. Jack’s gaze follows, and he has to admit, purely to himself, that the glided chandelier is a far sight better than a gaping hole in the ceiling.

Keeping an eye on the platoon of bottles cavorting about, Jack picks his weaving way back to the bolted-down table. It’s a rather nice table, detailed scrollwork glowing warmly under the light of a dozen thick candles. Not too fancy, just fancy enough.

“You,” Jack repeats, and tries twice to right a goblet thick and heavy enough to be made of lead but shiny as pure English silver, “borrowed my ship.”

Barbossa’s eyes narrow, crafty and calculating. “Ya made off with me charts, Jack, don’t be talking semantics with me.”

“Borrowed!” Jack says, snake-quick, and proffers the rum, half-empty bottle first, the goblet matching his, filled to the brim, second. “Borrowed, mate. Saving you the trouble of having to live forever all over again. Messy business.”

“And just what do I be owin’ yer consideration?”

Jack drops himself into a chair, booted feet kicked up and little bits of lace from his fine, recently-acquired shirt draped about his fingers. He gives one sleeve an artful tug. “How about I let you borrow passage on my ship, you let me borrow those charts, and we both will borrow a little bit of everything on ‘em?”

Barbossa leans back and raps three times on the hard wooden floor with the heel of his boot. The Pearl rolls in the waves, Barbossa’s goblet sliding out of his loose grasp across the table and back again. He lifts his chin. “Spoils go seventy-thirty.”

“To me?” Jack says, fingers pressed to his chest. “Agreed.”

“To me.”

“Fifty-fifty.”

“Sixty-forty.”

“Forty-sixty.”

“Ah,” Barbossa breathes. “Almost, Jack, but I’ve been knowing ye too long to fall for that.”

“Pirate.” Jack grins, and heaves back to his feet. “Fifty-fifty, and I’ll be keeping those charts ’til I’ve had my fill.” He goes round the table, the Pearl adding a bit more swish to his step, the sea and the rum a little bit more still.

Calypso, though, Jack is quite sure, takes responsibility for the Pearl and the sea and the rum and the general state of things conspiring to thwart his balance, sending him tumbling into Barbossa’s lap with Barbossa’s accursed sword jabbing at his hip.

The real one, made of good, solid steel. Calypso’s always been a bit fond of him, but only to a degree.

“Then ’til you’ve had your fill, here I be,” Barbossa says.

“Right then.” With a handful of Barbossa’s coat for leverage, Jack cants low to the side and makes a scrabbling grab for the near-full bottle that meanders by. “Might I offer you another drink? To having one’s fill.”

Barbossa swings his goblet round and grins. “To having one’s fill.”

End

Leave a Reply