Aug. 24th, 2007 05:58 pm
cold_clarity: (Default)
[personal profile] cold_clarity
Title: Hourglass
Summary: Immortality isn't the same as eternity
Pairing: Jack Sparrow/James Norrington
Notes/Warnings: Written for [livejournal.com profile] miserablefaith's prompt: Norrington/Jack and hourglasses. Post-AWE (so spoilers, I guess?); some angst. Slightly AU because of the nature of the fic. (Just reposting this to the new journal)

i like the sound of your heartbeat
and i like the thought that it's what helped me find you

Sometimes Jack thinks that his favorite thing about his Commodore (and that's what James will always be, at least in this life; not Admiral, not pirate, not a broken man chasing revenge--just his Commodore) is the way he looks when he's asleep. It's the way his mouth softens and his lips part ohsoslightly while he breathes. It's the way he lies on his stomach, head resting on arms resting on the pillow, and the way Jack can trace lines down the ridges of his spine and watch him shiver without waking. It's the way his pale skin looks rosy against white sheets and the way Jack aches to kiss and bite and scrape it again and leave a map of red marks and welts over his back and neck and abdomen because James is his Commodore, after all.

In this life.

But Jack doesn't want to wake him, so he settles instead for brushing hair away from his face and learning the curve of his cheekbones with his fingertips for the hundredthousandth time.

And somewhere in the back of his mind, Jack can feel the grains of sand (the minute shards of something sharp) draining through the hourglass.

i like the idea that our hearts are like the time watches of this life
that they are red wet pulsing bombs
beating out the moments i've got left to share with you

"You don't ask me to come with you anymore," James says one day or night (or sometime in between).

"Did I used to, luv?" Jack asks.


And James' gaze is innocent and unknowing and devoid of all contempt--the way it could have been (or so Jack likes to think) if another life and another world had not been so very heartless.

"Well, Commodore. I've decided there's no point in wasting my limited time with you by trying to convince you to spend eternity with me." He grins, a flash of ivory and gold. "Take what you can, mate."

"Give nothing back?"

James laughs a little at his own terrible joke and Jack can't look at him because inside something's shattering.

"Aye. An' I've got little enough to give."

"Except eternity," James teases, because in this world he's known neither death nor the curse of immortality.

And the hourglass continues its interminable, miniscule avalanche.

i like the idea that your life is the map of your veins and vessels
i want to believe that each time an artery branches and breaks
into a million hairthin capillaries
my one life fragments like that map
and i’ve spent a thousand mortal lives with you

Jack has never been one to worry terribly about the potential effects of his actions, and in this life he worries even less. But James though…

James carries the weight of the world on those too-stiff shoulders, same as always.

“If I didn’t know better, Commodore, I’d be of the mind that you’re not happy t’see me,” Jack murmurs one night, watching the ghost of the moon move in silvery waves through the gauzy drapes.

“Jack…you know I’m just worried.”

“I’m floored, darling. You? Worried? How exceptionally uncharacteristic.”

James frowns at him and Jack grins.

“I’m only teasing. Trying to lighten your mood, perhaps.” The grin broadens and he turns to his Commodore, sauntering ever closer. “Or, at the very least, make it more agreeable.”

“I just don’t want you getting caught.”

And James’ eyes are so serious, so intent, so very heartbreaking. Jack wraps an arm around his waist and pulls him close until the space between their hips is gone and all he can feel is the sharp press of bone through skin and fabric.

“Ah, you forget, James; I’m Captain Jack Sparrow.” A wicked grin. “And I’m engaging in unsightly acts of depravity with the commander of the Royal Navy. What could they possibly hang me for?”

When James wrests away from him, it’s like something shredding through his chest, sharp and cold and terrible.



But James doesn’t say anything, only crosses the space between them again and kisses him fiercely and Jack is overwhelmed with an understanding that he’s always had (and always tried to ignore). This is the fear of losing whatever small measure of control they’ve been granted on this evening and it’s the fear of a reality without the things that make life precious.

And it’s a fleeting voice in the back of his head that whispers if you only knew, darling before Jack abandons himself to James’ embrace.

i like the idea that our hearts beat in synch
and i want to believe that we are drawn to the rhythm of each other
even if
in some lives
i’ll hate you and maybe
in others
you’ll leave me broken

“Commodore. What do you know about the Fountain of Youth?”

And James laughs a little (and Jack thinks about how he never laughed, never really smiled or grinned in that other place) and says that it’s nonsense.

“Well, I found it, my lovely doubting Thomas.”

“I’m sure, Jack.”

“I did. And a right ugly thing it is, too. Murky water and algae and the like.” He makes a face to make James smile again because those smiles are so necessary and he’s got little enough time left to see them anyway. “And the ground, mate.”

“The ground?”

“Yes, the ground.”

A pause. Then:

“What about it?”

“Ah, I thought you didn’t believe in it, Commodore. No point in telling you about what you’ve already disregarded.”

“Jack, you are absolutely—”

“It’s littered with hourglasses.”


“The ground, James. Pay attention.”

“The ground is covered in hourglasses.”

“Yes. And all of them broken. Except one.”

James sounds entirely too skeptical when he asks, “And what’s so special about that one?”

“Why, that’s the one I turned over, luv. So I could be here with you.”

and i like the idea of timed lives and mortality
because it makes the days with you more special

Jack can tell that the world is coming apart because the days slide like liquid into one another and he can’t remember talking (or being talked to) and everything’s a blur underscored by the roar of that infinitesimal truth:

Each life will lead to the same, singular fate.

Passing on is dead certain and Jack has always hated certainty. And so he tries once more to watch his Commodore sleep and to mouth the pale expanse of his skin and burn some permanent sense of James into the unyielding promise of loss.

“Do you know you tried to hang me once?” he whispers against the curve of James’ ear. “And you nigh got me killed more’n that—and all after you set me heart aflame with those come-hither-eyes of yours. You’re no better’n a salty wench, my dear Commodore.”

And James squirms away and laughs a little, still mostly lost in the delirium of sleep. He murmurs something that Jack can’t hear, can’t make sense of, can’t hold on to, and, oh, the Immortal Captain Jack wishes there were some other truth besides this and the sliding away of a million grains of salt and sand.

and i would risk ten thousand lives of hatred and scorn
to find the heartbeats where we meet with laughter
and the one life in which you love me

Date: 2008-06-27 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lily22.livejournal.com
Wow, I really liked this piece. It's sparse but full of imagery. Really like Jack's description of the Fountain of Youth. I'm not sure I know what's going on, but it seems like Norrington is mortal but Jack will live forever? Oh, I also love the poetry-lyric-snippets that come in between sections? Did you write that too?

better late than never

Date: 2010-06-16 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've just found this story a few weeks ago^^ and came finally around to comment... I'm not new to the sparrington-pairing (would be nigh impossible to stay away from these two^^) but your story is one of me favorites. It's so beautiful written and touching. Your Jack seems almost wise and weary but intent on enjoying the time left with his Jamie. I could already read it again^^


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