Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, written purely for fun.

Set the night before Jack is due to be hanged. No beta. No time. Written for lilfluffykitten for raise_the_dead's Summer Swag 08 Fest. I think this could fit nicely with the Your Move universe, although it wasn't written with that in mind.

The constant pacing brought no solace or answers, but he couldn't stop himself. What to do? He imagined the faces of the Admiralty in London when they read the report he should write:

Despite the fact that Mr. Sparrow is a wanted criminal in fourteen cities worldwide, and despite the fact he stole a ship moored at a naval dock, and despite the fact that he is the most thorough scoundrel ever born, I did not hang him, but freed him for the following reason: he defeated the undead pirates and vanquished that truly evil son of the devil, Hector Barbossa, by stealing a cursed coin, turning himself into a dead pirate, then ended the curse, saving what was left of my men that hadn't been killed by undead pirates, and then shot Mr. Barbossa. Whom I believe is now suffering hell's fires, and it's good enough for him. In fact, I think that serious consideration should be given to awarding Mr. Sparrow a medal for his service to the Crown.

No he couldn't write that, although every single word of it was true.

If ever a man deserved the hangman's noose, it was Sparrow, and if ever a man should be freed, it was Sparrow. Damn him.

"Sparrow! Wake up."

"Not asleep, my fair Commodore. Seeing as it's my last night alive, thought I'd watch the stars travel across the sky one last time."

The man alternated between surprising him and infuriating him. Who'd have thought a ruffian who hadn't seen a bath in two years would have that kind of poetry in his soul.

"What brings you down here, at, oh," Norrington heard a slight rustling, "three fifteen in the morning? Give or take five minutes."

Norrington shoved the lit torch into the notch on the wall and pulled out a key. Sliding it into the lock, he opened the door, closed it, threaded his hand around to the outside, locked the door, placed the key just outside the bars, and threw the extra rapier he had in his hand at Sparrow. Who caught it.

In a blink of an eye, Sparrow was on his feet, his body balanced and waiting. Although Sparrow's stance was ready, it wasn't threatening.

"Interesting. The nature of your game, Commodore? Trying to kill me first and deprive the hangman of all his fun?"

The habitual smirk was in abeyance. It must have been a trick of the light, but Norrington thought that perhaps there might have been a soupçon of admiration in the pirate's gaze.

"I don't have to give explanations to the likes of you," he said, not easing up on the scorn. "You win, you may go free. I win? You hang tomorrow morning."

He was completely unprepared for what came next.

Sparrow began clutching his stomach, laughing as if his demise the next day was nothing more than a gigantic joke. Norrington stood his ground, not saying a word, letting that damn scallywag finish his great laugh.

"A naval gob with a conscience, eh?" Sparrow said, followed by a sly grin.

To be read that easily was not just a little galling.

"I don't know what you mean," he lied.

"Oh, I think you do." Sparrow began to throw the rapier from one hand to the next. Norrington tensed, eased up on the balls of his feet. "Nice weapon, Commodore. Perfect balance. One of William's?"

No harm in acknowledging that. He nodded.

"Damn fine craftsman. Good with a sword, too. Where'd he learn to fight?"

He supposed there was no harm in acknowledging that either. "Me."

Sparrow tsked at him several times, as he swiped the blade through the air in cross-cutting motions. "Rather stupid of you to admit that, James. May I call you James, seeing how I'm meeting Peter and the angels tomorrow. Heaven's lyres and all that. Don't like lyres. More of a fiddle man, meself."

"As you are not meeting Peter, I wouldn't worry about the lyres. You are much more likely to be encountering the hounds of hell," Norrington noted. "And why is that stupid if I may be so bold as to ask?"

Sparrow lunged in his direction. Although far enough away that it couldn't possibly have touched Norrington, he flinched and brought his weapon up to parry the thrust.

"Fast on your feet, you are, I'll give you that for free. Well, Commodore, seeing as Will and I have already crossed swords, I know his weaknesses, meaning I know your weaknesses. A man can't but help teach another man his own blind spots." He tipped the rapier into the dirt of the cell and leaned on it, all insolence and nonchalance. "Sure I'm not meeting those angels? Something tells this ole little pirate captain that you're not sure on that score. Hedging your bets with the Almighty, James?"

This conversation was so close to the truth that he had to stop it immediately.


At that, all traces of the ease in his posture vanished. The blade came up, swift and sure. Norrington made the first parry, which Sparrow handily blocked.

"Fine with a sword, our Will. But hasn't seen much of the nasty side of life."

Meeting and deflecting a quick thrust of Sparrow's epee, Norrington replied. "He held his own against a shipload of undead pirates."

"Aye," Sparrow thrust. "But he never learned to truly fight dirty." With that he feinted, Norrington thrust, and then found himself pushed back against the grimy stone wall. The blade close to his throat, Sparrow's other hand clasping his blade hand tight.

"True," Norrington rasped out, and then kicked Sparrow's leg out from under him and pushed him back into the far reaches of the cell.

They studied each other, Sparrow pacing like a tiger he'd seen in a cage once in the Indies. Norrington's middle name was discipline, and he didn't move a muscle, just watching the fluid grace that marked all of Sparrow's movements. Yes, a jungle cat came to mind. Sleek, graceful, enthralling, even beautiful. And most dangerous.

Something stopped Sparrow in his tracks, and he relaxed his fighting hand, the epee hanging languidly at his side.

"What do you see, Commodore?"

"You are like a jungle cat," was out before he could stop himself.

"Really?" and he leaned against the wall, the white vee of his shirt stark against the dark of his neck. Norrington brought up a hand to wipe away the beads of sweat dampening his hairline. The small cell smelled of sweat and, dear god, was that cinnamon? Without moving, not even the slightest hitch of a shoulder or the minute thrust of his knee, Sparrow's mien had shifted, morphed into something that had him blushing as he hadn't in years. A fresh and startled "oh" left his lips.

"Aye, Commodore. Aye. Strange doings. Never known it myself for a naval man. But you…" He gave Norrington an appraising glance, from the top of his down to the tips of his boots.

The blush deepened. You do not spend months on board a ship with only men and not hear the slapping of flesh against flesh late at night. You ignore the glances sent your way, because you might have been a very pretty young man when you were in the first blush of youth. And as captain, you might have turned a blind eye to the sounds of coupling between your first lieutenant and that midshipman with the curly brown hair and green eyes.

But he had never felt it for another man. He had heard and closed his ears and ignored suggestive glances and out and out propositions, turning them all away. Yes, he'd been asked, but none had offered. And Sparrow was definitely offering. The crotch of his pants tightened.

"Yes," he agreed. "But I have not. Ever," he said quietly.

Sparrow cocked his head. "You're an interesting man, Commodore Norrington. Thought you'd deny it. If I win this duel and go free, I should like to meet you somewheres. Where it doesn't matter that you're wearing a blue coat and a wig, and I've got a pirate brand on my arm. If I lose this duel, and find meself facing the hangman, nothing up ole Jack's sleeve for once, I'll regret not meeting you somewheres. And there's not much I regret in this life." Sparrow smiled. Norrington got the full compliment of gold this go around. "Haven't met a navy man yet who wrestled with his conscience. Like I said before. Interesting."

"I-I-I…" Norrington found himself stuttering, something so unheard of and unlike him that he blurted out, "I cannot."

Sparrow leaned the epee against the stone of the cell and walked over to Norrington until he was no more than a hand's breath away.

"No," Sparrow agreed in a low voice and chuckled. "I didn't think you would. But there's still the possibility, Commodore. Not dead yet." Then he cupped a hand and ran it along Norrington's jaw. "Nice," he whispered.

Not even giving Norrington a chance to respond, he backed away and grabbed the epee.