black eyes
by zara hemla

"See, it's like this," says Nancy, and smiles wickedly at him. "You've got dark hair and dark eyes, and you need just a tiny bit of . . . ."

"Decoration?" This comes from Kara, who is sitting at his feet.

"Yeh, sort of . . . not exactly what I'm looking for here . . . ." Nancy frowns and fingers the little metal pot she is holding.

"Love -- " Jack Sparrow, who is not exactly the scourge of the seven seas, but who has every woman in the Monkey's Tail hanging on his every word, tilts his head and grins. "Just get on with it, mm?" He tips back his chair, puts a boot on the table, and closes his eyes.

"Hm," he hears Nancy say. "Belle, what d'you think? A little green?" A cool finger holds his eye shut and he feels the whisper of a small brush touching his skin.

At twenty-four, Jack is boy enough to be charming and man enough not to care that a whore is painting his eyelids green. This is his fifth voyage to Trinidad, and he is very broke and very, very drunk. He can't quite remember how this whole conversation got started, but he's willing enough to go along. Especially with Nancy perching so precariously on his lap that he can feel the button on her garter digging into his thigh.

And Kara sitting on the floor, her hand casually on his ankle. Marie, her breath in his ear as she leans closer to his head. Belle, combing her fingers idly through his hair.

"Such pretty locks, hasn't he?" he hears her say in her lilting accent. "Long, black, and so straight. Maybe we ought to put a few beads in it for fun."

Kara breaks into snorting giggles. "And some ribbons!" she says. Her hand clenches around his ankle and then slides up to his knee.

"There. What do you girls think?" Jack tries to open his eyes, but Nancy's thumbs are firmly set on them.

"Lovely," whispers Belle, and flicks his earlobe with her tongue. "I've got some kohl in my pocket . . . ."

"Perfect!" They are all four laughing again. "All right, Jack, open your eyes."

The two of them trade places, Nancy climbing off him reluctantly and Belle sliding up his leg indecently. Jack wonders fuzzily what the other patrons of the Monkey's Tail, many of them his fellow sailors, might think of this display. But then again, who has all the women? Jack Sparrow does, that's who.

"Now open your eyes, love," Belle says, teeth flashing white in a beautiful smile. She has a smile to be envious of. "And don't flinch."

"Why would I --" starts Jack, and then jerks his head backwards as she sticks her finger in his eye. The girls dissolve in laughter again.

"Distract him," says Belle shortly. Nancy, still giggling, begins to kiss him on the neck, open- mouthed. It's moderately distracting, but not enough, because Jack can't close his eyes. Belle is now drawing on his lower eyelid with something that looks like black chalk. Nancy reaches the joint of his shoulder and goes down his collarbone.

"Done." The girls all pop their heads up to look at him, wearing identical grins.

"Well, loves?" he asks, smiling lazily at them. "Am I very pretty?"

"Oh Jack," breathes Marie, and slides into his arms, kissing him with a fervor that a whore probably didn't show to everyone. Or did she? Jack isn't sure. In any case, he kisses her back, twining a hand in her hair and shoving the other one under her skirt. He gets a good hold on her bare backside and hoists her up further into her lap. The other girls are making noises of jealous disapproval, and Jack is in Heaven, or close enough.

Which is why the loud male voice from the door is pretty damn intrusive.

"Look boys, if it ain't Jack Sparrow. Or should I call you the Fairy Prince?"

Jack cracks an eye open to survey the tall, black- bearded figure in front of him. Then he closes it again and keeps kissing Marie, but gives the black- bearded man two fingers behind her back.

"Oh ho! Pretty chipper ain't you, for a man who's about to get his arse paddled with a broken oar?" In the doorway, several squatty sailors break up laughing, slapping each other on the back.

Jack finally stops, keeping his hold on the whore's derriere, and she snuggles up on his shoulder as he scowls. "Jacobson, why don't you go drown yourself?"

"I don't take orders from fairies," sneers Jacobson. "And I'm not leaving until you give me the money you took from me in Kingston." Behind him the other sailors line up, cracking their knuckles and looking generally disreputable.

"I won that, Jacobsen, or have you forgotten? Wasn't that the night you got your nickname?" He smiles down at Marie, who plays her part perfectly.

"What name was that, Jack?"

He bats his eyelashes. "Why, you didn't hear the story? They call him Snake Eyes." On cue, the girls giggle and give Jacobson deprecating looks.

"Where's my money, you whoreson," snarls Jacobson, and pulls out a very disreputable-looking pistol. "Twenty guineas, it was, and I want it back."

"Why, Snake Eyes! Is that supposed to be an insult?" Jack grins at the girls, who all wink at him. "Anyway, it's gone. Ask them if you want it. Ask the barman at the Blue Parrot. And the girls at the Pickaninny. Ask the milliner on Grove Street -- she made me this lovely hat." Jack nudges it with his boot. "Like it? It's leather."

Jacobson gives the hat a greedy look. "Yeh, I like it. Think I'll have it for me own. Not but what it'll be too big, since it's been measured for that swollen pimple of yours." His mates crack up again. The girls hiss disapprovingly. And Jacobson reaches over and nicks the hat from its perch on the table.

"You sodding, buggering swine," growls Jack. "Now I'll have to fight you."

"Unless you're going to call in the elves and the pixies to save you," snorts a sailor from the doorway. He's dug out a pair of brass knuckles, and he's strapping them on.

Again, Jack bats his long eyelashes. "I think I met a pixie once. Horrible ugly thing. Your mam, wasn't she?" He bends over for one last kiss from Marie, whispers an apology in her ear, and quick as shell from a nine gun, stands up and tosses her at a very surprised Jacobson.

Marie shrieks bloody murder as Jacobson catches her automatically. She flings her arms around his neck. "Save me, sir, from that heathen!" she declares, pointing dramatically at Jack, who has leaped three tables in an attempt to make it out the back door. Jacobson looks like he'd like to comply, but Marie is still holding him tightly.

"Damn your black eyes," he growls. He jerks his head toward the almost-fled Jack. "Get a hold on him!"

Two sailors, a skinny one and the brass-knuckled one, head toward the back door. Brass-knuckles trips over a table, but the skinny sailor manages to catch up and fell Jack with a tackle to the back of his legs. Jack hits the floor on his hands, flips over, and gets Skinny in a headlock.

Immediately the scuffle becomes a brawl. The girls run around the room shrieking and generally causing mischief for Jacobson's boys. The 'keep ducks under the bar for safety. And a couple of Jack's mates roar into the fray with chair legs and cudgels swinging.

Marie lets go of Jacobson and sinks, laughing, to the floor. Freed, Jacobson thumbs back the hammer on the pistol and begins to aim at a wiggling Jack, who is getting the better of a squatty redhead with one eye. They are moving too fast, though, so Jacobson makes a noise of disgust and wades into the fight.

The redhead is only too happy to let Jacobson take over for him. Jack, draped panting over a chair, says haltingly, "Want this dance?" He winks one green-painted eye, throws his hair back out of his face, and leaps upon Jacobson with a rebel yell.

It's a ferocious but short fight. Both men fight dirty, but Jack's a little quicker. When the dust settles, Jacobson's lying half across the bar with Jack's arm across his neck and Jack's knee in his balls. The other sailors are either standing by -- under the watchful eye of Jack's mates -- or are unconscious.

"Uncle?" suggests Jack, baring his teeth.

"Damn you, Sparrow," gasps Jacobson, "straight to hell."

"Reckon you're wasting your breath," says Jack philosophically. "I'm bound there anyway. Surrender? Run up the white flag?"

Hissing air through his nose, Jacobson nods. Jack lets him go and, turning his back, threads his way through the broken tables back to Nancy. The girls flock around him, touching his few bruises, enquiring as to his health.

"Nancy, there's a love, fetch me a pint," he says. "And Belle, come over here." When she does, he puts a companionable arm around her, tips his face down, and closes his eyes.

"Nothing's smudged now, is it?"


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