27 The Battle For Equality
Great Inagua, October 1718
As the drunken roars from the tavern above echoed around the island, Mary shook her head. The three sat near the shore, the sun nearly touching the waters as it approached late evening. By now, various men had come and gone. Thatch, or Blackbeard as he was now called, had left a while ago, entrusting his daughter to take care of herself, which she had proved time and time again, as long as no one mentioned the origin of the scar below her shoulder. Vane and Rackham had followed him and Mary had returned, preferring to spend her time with Jemima and Thomas rather than the corrupt drunkard. After catching up with recent news, she was amused at Jemima's escape from Nassau, even more so at her disregard to the consequences. But after the reunion, they soon slipped into silence, the only noise coming from the tavern above, voices resonating across the shore.
"That damned, Kenway..." She muttered.
"Oh, leave him be." Jemima told her. "He's not shooting people or beating them up. He's doing okay for now."
"But this is how Nassau went to pieces." She waved a hand to the scene nearby. "With piss heads like them in charge."
"Come on, lass." Thomas sat, leaning against a palm tree, his eyes closed. "Relax a bit."
"I can't." She growled, her wrist blade jumping back and forth.
Jemima paused, an idea forming.
"Aye?" He replied, eyes still closed.
"Remember that time when you told me you would give one of your wrist blades to whatever woman could best you in a fight?"
Thomas slowly opened his eyes.
"Let's fight. I want that wrist blade."
He turned his head to her as she stood above him, sword drawn.
Sighing, Thomas got to his feet, but as he drew his sword, Jemima raised an eyebrow.
"Wrist blades. Off. Just swords." She ordered. "Don't want you cheating."
He pulled off his wrist blades, placing them to the side before pulling his sleeves down and standing in a defensive stance, ready to fight.
"Go." Mary began the duel and watched as Jemima advanced, darting towards Thomas who deflected her strikes.
Thomas returned hits of his own to which she responded with equal measure, blocking each attack. Then, Thomas turned, and Jemima paused, thinking he was running away, nearly catching her by surprise when he ran at a tree, springing off it and diving for Jemima. She stumbled, but managed to get out of the way, swinging her sword at his feet which he easily jumped over. He made a cut at her head and she ducked, lunging. Thomas batted her blade away but snatched her collar and yanked her towards him.
The fight ended with his wrist blade inches from her throat. It was only then that Jemima realised there was only one wrist blade placed to the side.
"I think I win." He grinned down at her.
"Not quite." She smiled wickedly, her pistol resting under his chin. "And besides, I thought I said only swords."
He glanced down to her pistol and back to her.
"Touché." She shrugged.
"You're a pirate through and through." He laughed.
"Aye, and you're not to far off yourself." Jemima winked.
"So, a draw then." Thomas said and Mary nodded, confirming this.
"Aye. Let's try that again." She said and waved them on.
Jemima and Thomas stepped back from one another and resumed their battle. With a vicious smile, Jemima fought on, her expression distracting the stony faced Thomas. This is what scared him about her. She could kill a man with a smile on her face.
"Ha!" She exclaimed, batting his sword from his grip.
He grasped air for a moment, surprised he had been successfully disarmed, moments before Jemima kicked his feet from beneath him. He hit the ground hard, blinking up in shock as she stood above him, sword pointed to his chest.
"I think I'll be taking that wrist blade now then." She grinned.
As Mary confirmed Jemima's victory, Thomas reluctantly pulled off the wrist blade he wore and tossed it to her. Before trying it on, she helped him back up to his feet. Strapping the blade to her wrist, Jemima found it was a good fit.
"Not bad." She nodded, admiring it, watching the blade flick out and in. "And now, Thomas," she said, turning on him. "You've got no choice but to back Mary and I. Women are just as strong as men. We are powerful. We are equals."
"Of course." Thomas nodded. Before his very eyes, he had been proven wrong and how he viewed equality had changed. Maybe women weren't just equals, given half the chance, they could be the dominant ones.
Jemima stepped closer, extended her new wrist blade and pointed to his neck.
"And don't you forget it." She warned.
As the sun rose, Mary was the first to wake. She turned to see the assassin slumbering, his back against the tree, Jemima's head resting on him, his arm around her. As she stood, she smiled. She wasn't sure if it was intentional, if the pirate and the assassin had meant to fall asleep that way or not but it seemed natural, as if they were meant to be like that.
Leaving them be, she stepped along the beach to wake Kenway after his drunken exploits.
Sensing movement, Jemima stirred. She sat up, stretching and jolted as she recognised her pillow. She stood, careful not to wake him, tentatively lifting his arm and placing it back down, wondering how she got there in the first place.
"Mornin', lass." Thomas smiled, his eyes closed.
"Mornin, Thomas." She replied.
"No offence meant, by you're heavier than I imagined." He grinned, a hand on his chest where Jemima had laid her head.
"Piss off." She frowned but it only made him laugh.
"I'm going to have a wash." She announced, throwing her arms up in the air. "If you try to follow me," the blade on her wrist darted out, "then you've got some explaining to do."
Thomas nodded and she took off, jogging through the jungle until she reached the rumbling waterfall. With a sigh, she stripped down, pulling off every item of clothing and weapon that she had on.
Smiling, she stood beneath the water, gasping as it crashed into her. She rubbed at the dirt on her skin, washing away the sweat, sand and blood that had gathered.
"Far have I travelled,
And much have I seen,
Dark distant mountains,
And valleys of green,
Past painted deserts,
And sunsets on fire,
As he carries me home to,
The Mull of Kintyre."
Jemima sang on, closing her eyes as the waters rushed over her, oblivious to the figure sitting in the trees above.
"Sweep through the heather,
Like deer in the glen,
Carry me back to the days I knew then,
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir,
Oh the life and the times of,
The Mull of Kintyre."
At the second voice, Jemima spun, her eyes scanning the surrounding until she found Thomas in the trees.
"Jaysus, Thomas!" She turned away, covering herself. "I told you not to follow me!"
"I stopped listening to orders a while ago." He smirked. "That song you were singing, how do you know it?" He asked, curious. "It's not one I've heard often."
"It's a British song, isn't it?" She replied. "My mother sang it to me when I was young."
Thomas nodded, remembering his own mother singing that song to him when he was small. The song had been passed down from mother to child for generations, for further back than he cared to trace.
"Now," Thomas said, jumping down from the tree, approaching her, "is there room there for me?"
"Ah, get lost!" She told him, trying to hide the smile that began to creep onto her face.
Thomas grinned and pulled off his assassin robes, standing in his trousers and bare chest. He threw it to the side with her clothes and stepped into the waterfall. The water crashed down onto a jutting rock where the two stood, the water trickling down into a stream below. Jemima didn't protest as Thomas turned her around. He trailed a hand along her head, down her hair to her back. Their lips nearly touched, a mere inch apart as Jemima ran a finger down his chest to the waistband of the trousers. She gave a wicked grin as she pulled at it and Thomas bit his lip in anticipation.
Suddenly, Jemima brought her hand back up to his chest and before he could react, he was sent flying back into the stream.
"Nice try, Thomas." She winked and stepped away to collect her clothes as the assassin coughed and spluttered in the water below.
As she left, Thomas grinned, shaking his head. That woman would be the death of him. She was the most beautiful creature he'd ever laid his eyes on, even more so than Elizabeth-
Oh God. Elizabeth.
Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the irresistible form of the fiery female pirate, but for the past few days, he had completely forgotten about her. If Jemima hadn't pushed him away, he would have taken her, there and then, without a second thought of the woman he had promised to return to.
Silently, he thanked her. If he was unfaithful, there was no excuse, it was his own stupid fault. At least Jemima had some sense, more than him, to keep him on track. And despite his strong want for her, he knew it was wrong. Jemima was a good friend, and he was grateful for that.