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March 27th, 2004

Pirate Fic @ 05:01 am

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music: Pirates of the Caribbean--"He's a Pirate"
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I should be reading books for my history papers. Or sleeping. Instead, I am writing crossover/metafic drabbles. Below is one such. Fandom? Practically every pirate story ever. Bonus points to those who can identify every character.

The tavern is so close to the docks that, were it not for the raucous hum of conversation, one would be able to hear the gentle slap of water against keels and pilings. The windows, normally shut tight against mosquitoes and other insects, are wide open tonight, shutters spread in a vain attempt to catch the nighttime breeze blowing in from the sea. It doesn't work, of course--the air inside of the old, wooden building is warmer and more humid than the tropical night outside.

There are over a dozen ships in the harbour tonight, and at least three of them have the word 'Revenge' somewhere in their name. The sign of the skull an' bones is busy--no, more than busy. It is full near to bursting with tanned, wind-burned men, and a few hard-looking women, all of them smelling of salt water and sweat, and all of them wanting some'at to drink, and wanting it now.

Claret for Blood, ale for Roberts, rum laced with gunpowder for Teach, who has to intimidate people even when he is getting drunk. Regular rum for most everyone else, served out by the tankard to a boisterous and ever-thirsty crowd. Silver has been back and forth behind the bar so many times that his foot is sore inside a boot that feels noticeably tighter than it did this morning, and the stump of his left leg aches like the very devil. It is a familiar pain, a tight, weary ache he has grown used to over the years, and it barely hinders him as he limps over to thrust another pewter tankard of rum into a grimy and be-ringed hand. He makes sure to bite down on the sliver of hacked-up doubloon he gets in return. Gold, of course, but with this crowd, a man can never be too certain.

The story-teller, seated in a place of pride near the smoky fire-place, is drinking thick, resiny red wine, and as his latest patron gives him a flirtatious waggle of fingers and sways back to his seat, Silver glances over to see if the story-teller's cup needs replenishing. It doesn't, really, but he tops it up anyway, on the house, and leans on the end of the scarred wooden bar for a minute to listen.

Everybody listens, when this particular tale spinner talks. He speaks as much with his hands as he does with his voice, blunt, callused fingers weaving shapes in the air as his strong, husky voice paints pictures of whirlpools and monsters and wild storms. He isn't much to look at, short and stocky, with broad shoulders like a bull's and a sprinkle of grey beginning to glint in his dark curls, but his voice could charm the dead. And has, if his tales are to be believed.

Roberts is openly skeptical of the tale, scorn eloquent in every line of his slim, dark form as he casts a meaningful glance across the room at Blood. Beneath his black cloth mask, his lips are curled in a smirk.

Blood gives him a sardonic smile in return, and returns his attention to his claret. A pair of hardened cynics, both of them, but they'll get those knowing sneers knocked out of them before they reach Silver's age, if they've got half the brains they seem to.

Next to Blood, Jeremy is hanging on every accented word. He has an arm slung around Blood's shoulders, and is apparently unaware that his fingers are toying absently with the lace of Blood's shirtfront. Blood is just drunk enough to let him get away with it. Normally, he's touchy about that sort of thing.

By the door, Mary Read watches the story-teller with the wistful eyes of a woman who knows exactly how plain she is, while, next to her, Anne tosses her red hair over her shoulder and leans forward a bit to offer the room a better view of her ample cleavage. She's on the outs with Rackham, and on the prowl. If Silver wasn't married, or were a few years younger… But even so, a man can still look and admire.

And when Anne's fiery charms palled, there was Lizzie Turner, slim and shapely in men's breeches, with a coat even redder than Anne's hair. Of course, she's taken twice over, and even if Silver didn't already know it, the way she has her tongue halfway down Will the Blacksmith's throat sends the message loud and clear. 'Captain' Sparrow's ring-bedecked hand cupping one of her breasts doesn't hurt either. Apparently, he is already finished with that tankard of rum.

Everyone else--Skylights, Gibbs, Morgan, Black Bart, Smee, Levasseur, Bill Jukes, with every inch of him tattooed, Noodler, with his hands on backwards--is glued to the story, waiting with almost palpable anticipation to hear how the beleaguered ship will make it through the twin dangers of whirlpool and monster. And waiting for the beautiful woman to enter the tale, because there is always a woman, if you listen long enough, and most of them are beautiful. Last time, she was a witch. Before that, a sort of heathen goddess. Tonight, maybe she will be a queen.

Even Sparrow has shut his mouth for a moment, his eyes, painted like a catamite's, watching the story-teller's face with something that Silver would call hero worship in a less arrogant man. One spinner of yarns admiring a still better one. Lizzie is perched on his lap now, and his hand has slid down to her waist in a casual touch that is nearly as possessive as the arm he has slung around the Blacksmith. The three of them make those rumours about Anne and Mary seem tame. It's probably useless to hope that Sparrow and the Blacksmith will confine their attentions to the woman and keep their hands off each other for a night. Blood and Jeremy are the height of subtlety compared to them.

The story-teller pauses for a moment and drinks down his wine in one gulp, handing his cup off to Silver with the air of a man used to being obeyed. A man would think he was a king, the way he acts at times, but Silver has seen him flatten a drunk corsair with one blow of his fist, and that short, bronze sword and odd-looking horn-and-wood bow of his have seen a substantial amount of use. Silver refills the cup, and takes no offence.

Back behind the bar, he leans against one of the barrels of rum and rubs surreptitiously at the ache in his left thigh. At times, he swears he can feel the tension clear down though his missing leg. He looks up again to find blue eyes watching him from the corner of the room, a hint of sympathy in their depths. James salutes his with his hook, one maimed cripple to another, and then goes back to smoking that double-barrelled cigarillo-holder of his. The smoke forms a cloud about his head, giving him a sinister air that the others seem to lack. Even Teach doesn't have that aura of silky menace.

Ah, here the woman comes now. Silver was right--she is a queen. A sly and canny one, who sits at a loom weaving threads the same way the story-teller weaves words, and plays her suitors off against one another. The story-teller gestures and speaks, his voice lingering lovingly over descriptions of her hair, her slender fingers, her face, and she comes alive before them, the ultimate faithful wife. The woman every sailor wishes were waiting for him in some long off port.

The tale is winding to a close, the hero safe in his queen's arms again, when his wife* comes in to relieve Silver at the bar. She tosses a wink to the curly-haired story-teller and side-steps gracefully around his sandled feet, dodging Noodler's wandering hands as she does so. Just the sight of her makes Silver's leg ache a bit less.

"Come and give us a kiss, woman," he invites teasingly, and she slides behind the bar to comply. Silver rests a hand on one ample hip and leans forward into the kiss, weariness receding suddenly. They pull apart far too soon--she is no Anne Boney or Jack Sparrow, to disport herself before a crowd.

"Long night, yes?" she asks, her dark eyes travelling knowingly over his body. She can always tell when he is tired or hurting, as if gifted with some secret power, like obea or voodoo.

"Long and busy."

She punches his shoulder, not exactly gently. "Good. You deserve it for leaving me with the cursed parrot. Someday, he's gonna go in the stew pot, I swear it." Before he can protest, she catches his involuntary glance toward the rafters--there's a parrot there, but it belongs to one of Sparrow's crew, not to Silver--and adds, "He's outside, perched atop the signboard like a vulture. He knows I'm gonna kill him if he comes down."

"He's not that bad," Silver protests, for what may be the hundredth time. Then he drops the topic, and offers her a smile. "Do you think you can take over here? They're mostly drinking black strap, with the odd tankard of ale or glass of claret. You shouldn't need to go down to the cellars for wine, and none of 'em be interested in food."

"Go home and get yourself some rest," she answers. "I'll close up in a glass or so."

"Aye, that I will." Silver draws one last tankard--this one for Roberts, who has finally finished the one he's been nursing most of the night--and unties his apron. He can feel James's envious eyes on him as he re-ties the strings around his wife's waist. A bitter man, James is. Bitter and lonely.

Blood is half asleep now, leaning against Jeremy, and Sparrow and the Turners are deep in some lazy, flirtatious conversation, eyes only for each other now that the story is ended. Anne has found herself a friend--or perhaps victim is the better word--in Bill Jukes, and is tracing his tattoos with a playful finger. Mary is still watching the story-teller from behind her eyelashes, hoping a smile will be cast in her direction. Things look to be winding down a touch.

On the heels of that judgement comes the unmistakable noise of another ship tying up at the docks--ropes creaking, sailors shouting, water sloshing against the new arrival's hull… By the time the first thirsty man hits the skull an' bones, Silver already has his crutch under his arm and himself out the door and headed for home. He can still move quickly when he has a mind to.

Before he is ten yards down the street, the heavy weight of Cap'n Flint has settled on his shoulder, knocking of balance for a fraction of a second. He catches himself with the crutch, straightens again, and continues home, tired but satisfied. Business has been good tonight. It always is, when Odysseus is in port.

*Yes, Long John Silver is married. It says so in the book.
 
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From:elspethdixon
Date:March 27th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
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It reminds me a bit of the Sandman issue, "The Inn at the End of the World."

Thanks! ^_^ I don't think I've read that one (I'm slowly amassing a Sandman collection and currently have only the first three), but being compared to Gaiman has got to be good.

As for Peter Blood/Jeremy Pitt slash, I think there's aproximately one story at yuletide.
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From:somethingwicked
Date:March 27th, 2004 04:44 am (UTC)
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Awesome. Just awesome. :)
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From:the_stowaway
Date:March 27th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC)
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Followed fabu's rec over here. Wow, that was a real treat! I didn't catch every reference but adored it nonetheless. And yes, Odysseus was an inspired choice for story teller.

Oh, one thing. (and this goes for you, too, fabu) Slash young Pitt with anyone you want - Don Esteban, even, or any of that clan. But Peter's mine. Just sayin... *snicker*

*goes back to re-read* Brilliant!
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From:elspethdixon
Date:March 27th, 2004 09:15 am (UTC)
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Thanks! The pirates hale from:

Treasure Island (Long John Silver, Mrs. Silver, Cap'n Flint)
Captain Blood (Peter Blood, Jeremy Pitt, Levasseur)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Elizabeth, Jack, Will, Gibbs)
Peter Pan (Captain James Hook, Bill Jukes, Noodler, Skylights, Smee)
The Princess Bride (The Dread Pirate Roberts)
The Odyssy (Odysseus)
Real Life (Mary Read, Anne Boney, Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, Henry Morgan, Calico Jack Rackham, and Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts)

Slash young Pitt with anyone you want - Don Esteban, even, or any of that clan. But Peter's mine.

But his manly love for Blood is so obvious. Maybe the two of you could share.
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From:the_stowaway
Date:March 27th, 2004 09:22 am (UTC)
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Aha! It was the Peter Pan crew (save for Hook) who were puzzling me. Thanks for the list.

"But his manly love for Blood is so obvious. Maybe the two of you could share."

Hmmmm..... this has possibilities!
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From:guede_mazaka
Date:March 27th, 2004 07:23 am (UTC)
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Whoo! All them pirates and Odysseus, too! Lovely stuff.

And sorry, but can't help hoping that Silver was drugging the drinks so his wife got an apology orgy.
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From:melannen
Date:March 27th, 2004 11:08 am (UTC)
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I loved this! *All* the pirates, and I'm glad Silver's wife finally got to say her part, too. And the J/W/Ee too of course!

It reminded me of the Sandman issue too-- there's a story told in it about a whirlpool and monster and a storm and the call of the sea and the need for a lovely maiden in every tale, and for awhile I thought the storyteller was from there. Woderfully done, anyway!
From:teleute12
Date:March 27th, 2004 02:30 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Just... wow. I love this.
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From:lizzie_omalley
Date:March 27th, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC)
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Like the stowaway, followed Fabu's rec here. Totally awesome. Interesting see which of us got what pirates. Got lots but not all.

Lots of fun and very clever.
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From:sequinissues
Date:March 27th, 2004 05:36 pm (UTC)
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This is FANTASTIC. I'm printing it out, in fact. To read a few times over.

One question, though. I recognized everyone else, but who is Rodgers?

Anyway, yay! This is just brilliant. The pirate geek that is me is squeeing like a madman.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:March 27th, 2004 05:51 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! *bows* "Rodgers" is The Dread Pirate Rodgers, from The Princess Bride.
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From:sequinissues
Date:March 27th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
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*blinks*

Wait...

I thought it was the Dread Pirate Roberts. If not, then I think my entire life might be a lie.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:March 27th, 2004 11:14 pm (UTC)
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It is. I'm an idiot. I went back and fixed it.
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From:monkeypuzzle
Date:March 27th, 2004 11:31 pm (UTC)
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I love you, I love you, I love you!

There are over a dozen ships in the harbour tonight, and at least three of them have the word 'Revenge' somewhere in their name.
*g*

The three of them make those rumours about Anne and Mary seem tame.

Hee! I really do adore this.
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From:monkeypuzzle
Date:March 27th, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
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Also, let me tell you how very happy I am that Odysseus is in there. Can we say school girl crush?
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From:elspethdixon
Date:March 28th, 2004 10:45 am (UTC)
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Can we say school girl crush?

*nods happily* And Sean Bean is playing him in the movie. I may die right there in the theatre of sheer gleefull hormone overload.
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From:monkeypuzzle
Date:March 30th, 2004 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Sean Bean is playing him in the movie.

OMG! How did I not know that. Oooh, really, definately, most certainly going to see it now.

::happy sigh::
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From:rokeon
Date:March 31st, 2004 07:32 am (UTC)
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Followed fabu's rec, and this is just exquisite. You make them all people; no one is anywhere near the one-dimensional villian, or ridiculous caricature, and all of them just feel so real. Absentminded fondling and focused hunting and sheer contentment, all completely in character but never distracted from the rapt attention they all keep focused on the story.

Odysseus telling his own tale is just icing.
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From:rokeon
Date:March 31st, 2004 07:39 am (UTC)
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*headdesk*

Meant to add that I hadn't heard the news about Sean Bean's casting, and very good news it is. My mental image of Odysseus is still Armand Assante, so it should be interesting.
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From:jennaria
Date:October 19th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Got pointed here by watersword (I'd also written Odysseus as his own storyteller), and wow. It's wonderful, not just on a meta level of 'recognize the pirate' but on the level of stories and those who live them and those who tell them and the two feeding into each other, necessary to each other.
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From:ajodasso
Date:October 20th, 2005 12:00 am (UTC)
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Wow, that's absolutely brilliant. And I'm ashamed to admit I recognized Odysseus before I could place who Blood and Jeremy were. Their origin has, however, been explained to me.
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From:inarae
Date:August 2nd, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
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Oh beautiful, beautiful. I love meta fics. Thank you so much for this.
From:commodore_lydia
Date:September 30th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm not exactly sure how I got here, but I wanted to say this was fabulous - from the atmosphere to the characters to just everything. It was fun to imagine pirates, fictional and real, drinking and swapping stories - wonderful work!
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From:pinkdormouse
Date:May 25th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
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Why hadn't I read this before? Marvellous!
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From:elspethdixon
Date:May 27th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I hadn't thought about this fic in years until I had to do that "list your favorite fics" meme the other day. It's kind of my ultimate piece of pirate fangirling.

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