Summary: Putting puzzle pieces together, from two different sides.
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairing: Tia Dalma/Jack Sparrow, Jack Sparrow/Elizabeth Swann, Elizabeth Swann/Will Turner, Tia Dalma/Will Turner
Disclaimer: The characters and situations used in this work of fiction are copyright and trademark to Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and the Disney corporation.
Original story: Something Rich and Strange by erinya.
Notes: Thanks to a brave volunteer for beta-reading. Remix subtitle taken from the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same name.
This wasn’t her body, not quite: shaped without consent, opened wide up for her and slammed shut once inside. It was a prison without bars or locks, trapping and binding her without leaving hope for release. The one who could unfold her spirit outside of this was heartless, without a heart, and there was no hope to be gained from the likes of one such as that.
Her prison had a heart. It beat and beat, endlessly pounding and resting, pushing her own inner oceans – a small, cold comfort, to close her ears and listen to the tides that stayed inside rather than the ones she helped to shape. She curled up around herself, trying to make herself so small she could pretend she could disappear, but there was too much to her body to let her pretend that much at all: too solid, too heavy, too strong. Bones that could crack and break, muscles to lift and carry, certain pieces of herself made up and down so perfect she could make herself all over again.
Bodies came with their own demands, trapping her all over again, tethering her down and ripping her in half at the same time. Reminding her over and over again that this was hers, for her to care for and feed and clean, and for her to live in and forget about what she had been. Something so great and awful, and now something so small and terrible.
She took what freedoms she could in this prison. She held her throat and cut her hair, cracked her cheeks and stained her hands. She collected the songs sung about her, laughing at their follies and half-truths, missing so much because there was so little they wanted to see.
Strangely, that had not been taken from her. To see truthfully, the smallest freedom allowed in this prison. To gaze and look and stare and see; to realize what might, could, should, or ought to be, to gain power from knowing what there was to what she cast her eyes upon. Small freedoms led to larger ones, power over one leading to power over many, collecting what they gave her and what she took from them. All the people around her: the ones who called her what they would and those who called her what she would let them. Those were the people in the world, she had realized long ago when she had been free, and she realized it again anew from her prison.
She let them talk for her, and welcomed them when they came to see her. She told some of them what they needed, and more what they wanted: she gave them what they asked for. Not many knew such things. The few who did she knew to remember; they were the ones who came back.
She found escape, with some of them, men and women both; helping her to find a way out of her body, shattering it in pleasure but never breaking it. Some of them she gifted with favors, tokens, charms and strangeness that they could wrap around themselves.
There was no need for her to fight or carve her own place for herself: everyone else was more than happy to give it to her, often after they understood what she gave to them. Leaving them behind for them to come and find her had not been hard at all.
Those that believed the age-old stories she’d told ages ago and still came to see her were fewer and fewer. The edges of the maps were being filled in, what was already inside of them being set down nice and proper without any chance to imagine anymore. What she was had a place, even now; what she had been, no longer. Even though she knew what she was would always have a place, in the deep-down hearts of everyone who saw the sea.
It was a man who had such a heart first and foremost and not deep inside himself who came to see her and, for the first time in a lifetime of years, had some glimmering of what she was – and for the first time in a lifetime of years, she didn’t let herself see what he was. It seemed only fair, somehow.
Tia Dalma, he called her, a name she’d picked out for herself.
Jack Sparrow, she called him, just the same.
He wasn’t a Captain then, not the first time he came to see her; that was what he wished to fix. She chuckled at him, masking her feelings and full body of knowledge behind riddles as she so often did. Gaming, baiting him in a roundabout way – trying to. He didn’t know what she did, or as much, but had as firm a grasp of truth, and his trickery gave his world a slippery sort of clarity. Bastard sight, so often hot-blooded.
He asked her for truth and she gave it to him and afterwards he helped her shatter and held her so gently and carefully she felt she was delicate enough to break. It was at the precise moment that she was flung into smithereens and before she realized she hadn’t been broken that she saw what he could give to her.
She gave him the whole truth then, nothing held back, not even for his peace of mind. She spun it about, of course – if he were to be aware of everything he knew, no good would come of it – but she could see what this would accomplish. Not soon, but someday, which she was ready to wait for now that she knew it would come.
He was Captain the next time he saw her, Captain Jack Sparrow then and forevermore however poor a captain he might be thought to be. This time he took instead of being given, not bothering to ask, but she had to wonder if it was really theft if she knew what he would be taking and wouldn’t miss it.
Stories about him flowed back to her, and she would spin them apart to figure out their truths, which satisfied and pleased her.
A motley crew followed along after him the next time he came to see her, willingly and otherwise, none she had seen before and one she couldn’t help but stare at. There’ll be no knowing here, Jack protested, but it was feeble at best; he was desperate now, eager and ready to speed his way along, not knowing that the world spun at its own accord. She couldn’t speed it up, not now as she was, only help set it in motion and watch what came about unfold as it was ready. Large and small, everything from sailing to and saving him from the Locker to two would-be lovers stealing a moment of time for each other.
Avians of common plumage congregate collectively, after all, she told him.
“But she’s my fiancée,” he protested, trying to shrug her off; but she pressed closer to him, speaking with and without words.
“A woman such as she belong to no man.”
He jerked away from her: “What do you know about Elizabeth?”
“What don't I know?” Oh, so much now, so much forgotten that he would help her recollect. “Her path, she does not lead the same as yours. And yours is not the hard and bitter fate of him that tries to keep a woman who do not want to be kept.” She saw him see the two birds flutter off to nest, not invited or understanding.
“Do you not?” She slid around to peer up; he stepped back. “Then maybe you do not want to know. Just as Elizabeth does not yet know her own heart, no more than do Jack Sparrow.”
“I know her heart and I know my own.”
She raised a hand to touch his cheek, so very close to pity and even nearer to hope. “As I do. A heart strong and noble. A heart born for greatness. For destiny. For the sea. Him could beat forever, that heart, that fine, sweet heart.” Her lips nearly brushed his as she spoke; her hand lingered on his cheek while her other toyed with the fastening of his sword belt, drawing him closer still.
“No spell,” she murmured to calm him and keep him close. “No magic.” She had learned the art of the preamble, of the acts necessary to goad and chide and prepare and pull in and arouse, and of them all, this was among the most intimate – being done with all clothes on, sometimes, but leaving yourself open and vulnerable with no way to falsify your purpose.
He tasted like iron, heavy and sharp and bitter, like the earth. “What are you?” he demanded, staring when it was over.
“I think you begin to guess already.”
He stared, and then looked, at her. “Davy Jones said he is the sea.”
“So he may speak,” she smiled. “He is mistaken, as any man who ever thought he was a woman’s master. But the sea rule him yet.”
Understanding began to blossom on his face: “You only told one version of the story. You said all are true – but some are more true than others, aren’t they?”
She barred her teeth, barely a grin. “You are a clever man, William Turner. Perhaps too clever. And what would such a truth be worth to you?”
“They say the truth will let you free.”
He was stalling, and they both knew it; but she looked at him and finally answered, “As it may do indeed, for the one who tells it. But we are speaking of you. Are you willing to pay the price of hearing the answers to your clever questions?”
“Perhaps,” he said. A lost little boy trying to wear his father’s clothes and play dress-up, in beyond his depth and trying to catch himself as he fell. “What price are you asking?”
“The full price of knowledge is never known ’til all is told. But I will only ask of you what can be given.” Her fingers stroked his cheek once more, and again she smiled. “Three times the sea has swallowed you,” she said, “and three times she give you back to the world; and you are three times mine.”
”Speak plainly,” he pleaded.
“I will show you.”
“Tia Dalma,” he whispered, “Is that really your name?”
“It is mine, as are many.”
She led him down into the belly of the ship, beckoning him to forget what he could not understand or comprehend. She shucked her clothes as he watched; she could tell he had never done this, or had done it so rarely and uncommonly and with so few he might as well have never done it at all. She had lost count, but each time was like learning it anew: cursing her prison as she shuddered against its walls, crying for release, while shuddering and thrumming inside, torn in half and shown freedom long enough to remember. He was careful with her, so careful, and she wanted to tell him to stop; but she saw in him, looming over him with skin shimmering like mother-of-pearl in the candlelight, that he was her key, her path away from this, and she should treat him as carefully as he did her. She held him close as he shuddered and cried out, and as she shattered a moment later.
He murmured, “Calypso,” after it was over; she laid her ear on his chest, and heard the beat of his heart like a hammer in a forge.