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{fic} Lost at Sea 3/4 | Pirates

See part 1 for heading.


~ * ~


Jack wakes up knowing that it is the middle of his self-determined night. Wondering why he’s awake, he takes stock of his situation, surprised to still feel the heat of Will at his side. He turns his head and smiles crookedly at the lax face of his sleeping lover. He hasn’t been able to see Will asleep before now; his lover usually vanishes by the time he wakes.


“Jack.” He startles badly at the sound of her voice and jerks upright. For a moment he can’t figure out where she is, then her head and shoulders appear at the bedside as she gets up from sitting on the floor. He eyes the murderess warily. She smiles at him, but it is sad and sympathetic. “It’s alright to come back, now. I know you can’t stand it here.”


“Well, lately it’s not so bad,” he mutters. He inches closer to his sleeping bedmate and places a hand on his lover’s shoulder.


Elizabeth bends over Will and smiles sweetly at the relaxed face. She continues to address Jack, “But you know that these memories will fade.” She glances up and he sees pity in her eyes. “Wasting away isn’t your fate, Jack. You have the opportunity,” this time is implied.


It’s true, he wants out of this empty place where he’s stuck on a ship that won’t move in spite of the most desperate attempts of imagination.


“Whad do you wan’ most?” Tia Dalma appears at Elizabeth’s side.


The answer’s simple, really, and he doesn’t have to think about it. He wants his freedom. He wants his life back and the sea and his Pearl. But he knows there’s a catch.


“I ken bring you back,” Tia says.


Jack looks down and is surprised to find a familiar knife in his hands. His fist closes around the handle in a grip suited for stabbing a downed enemy. The longer he stares at it, the more familiar it becomes. Eventually recognition dawns on him: Bootstrap’s knife, the one Will came back with from the Dutchman.


“You don’t have to suffer,” Elizabeth says.


He wonders how this is supposed to work. One of his inner voices – of which there have been many, these days – jumps in to demand who comes up with these crazy rules about bringing back the dead?


Tia Dalma intones, “Cut ou’ him heart.”


He feels sick as his arm rises of its own accord. He bites back a gasp as arm and knife slice through the air—


An inch above the bare chest he stops. Jack can feel his pulse throbbing through his body and he aches with longing. He can’t look up at the women waiting at the bedside, he doesn’t want to know what they’re thinking.


“Do it, Jack.”


The voice makes him catch his breath. He stares at Will in disbelief. Jack trembles when he feels someone else’s hand wrap around his fist. He knows it’s Will’s.


“You’re not supposed to be here,” Will says with a small smile. He acts like this is the most reasonable solution in the world. “You’re needed. Listen to them.” He presses on Jack’s hand. “You’ve got to do it yourself, Jack.” He smiles encouragingly and lets his hand fall away. He closes his eyes and leans back into the pillow.


He whispers, “Do it.”


From far away Jack watches the knife lift and plummet downward until it pierces flesh, tears muscle, breaks bone, and lodges just short of the beating heart. He can’t feel blood pooling under his hand though he sees it. For a long time he can’t drag his eyes from the knife.


In time he looks to Turner’s face and stares at the open, unseeing eyes. The man looks again like a boy, a naïve blacksmith who knew nothing of pirate heritage. Jack sits and stares, the voices in his head silent. He waits, unsure what for, and barely breathes.


~ * ~


The body is still in his cabin the next night so he sleeps restlessly on deck. He throws himself into the preparations of the Pearl the following day, sensing that soon it will be time to move. He tells one of his men to check his cabin but every Sparrow gives him a horrified look before scurrying away to do some task far from their captain. Jack stays away as long as he can.


He’s prepared to turn back if he finds the body – only a body, no blood or soul left. Jack makes himself step into the cabin and stand by the bed. Someone has put a sheet over the body and with shaky hands he pulls back the cloth. Turner looks to be made of wax rather than flesh and the color has leeched out of him as evidenced by the dark bloodstain in the bedding.


Protruding from the chest is the knife, a macabre monument to Jack’s sin and failure. He cannot bring himself to be the butcher and his inability has, he is sure, cost him his chance for escape. He believes he has also condemned Will by wasting such sacrifice.


~ * ~


Jack is prepared to lay forever on the hard plain of sand and bake under the sun that never sets. After a while, he adjusts and feels warm rather than boiling hot. His eyes are closed as he lets his mind wander and tries to remember. Memories and dreams blur together now and he has long given up the fight to determine reality.


When one’s bein’ followed by rocks, he tells himself, one should be doubtful ‘bout one’s ability to suss out what’s real an’ what’s not.


With all the bright heat it becomes immediately apparent that something is awry when the sun fails to reach him. He opens his eyes quickly and glances around without moving. Strange, the shadow over him extends quite a ways... He sits up and blinks at the sight of funny little gray creatures swelling like waves at the bottom of his Pearl. As he continues to watch, it strikes him that Pearl is moving, gliding across the sand due to the creatures crawling over themselves to keep the motion going.


There’s somethin’ you don’t see every day.


It takes him another minute to realize he should be following. Muttering a curse, he jumps to his feet and dashes after his ship.


~ * ~


His blood sings at the sight of the sea and for the first time in days he feels almost alive. Maybe there is still a chance for escape and a way to outrun his latest sin. He also thinks it might be a good sign that he is no longer seeing an innumerable crew of Sparrows.


“A sight for sore eyes! Jack!”


“Mister Gibbs!” he calls, striding towards his first mate. Damn the man. “I thought so. I expect you can account for your actions, then?”


Gibbs blinks at him in surprise, confusion widening his eyes.  “Sir?”


“There has been a perpetual an’ virulent lack of discipline aboard my vessel! Why is that, sir?”


After glancing over his shoulder, Gibbs leans in and says quietly, “You’re in Davy Jones’ locker, Cap’n.”


“I know that.” Of course he’s known. “I know where I am.” Didn’t he? “And don’t think that I don’t.” He snorts and turns to check on the rest of his crew.


“Jack Sparrow.”


Well, this is a surprise. Jack pauses and eyes the tall man. “Ah, Hector. It’s been too long,” well, everything seems so long ago, “hasn’t it?”


Barbossa’s eyes narrow and it’s hard to tell if it’s amusement or suspicion. “Aye, Isla de Muerta, remember? You shot me.”


“No I didn’t.” He walks by and bumps into the mambo. Soaked as she is from the sea, Jack can’t dredge up any fear for this usually intimidating woman. “Ah, Tia Dalma, out an’ about, eh? You lend an agreeable sense of the macabre to any delirium.” He smiles and sketches a shallow bow.


He congratulates himself for imagining a more detailed reality but reminds himself not to get caught up in fantasy. They are not here. This is not real-real, living real.


“He thinks we’re a hallucination.” Ah, the voice of reason.


The voice is nearly as familiar as the hum of his sweet Pearl. Since the first time they crossed blades Jack has been aware of Will and his inaudible tune that Jack finds all too easy to accompany. His chest aches with the need to reach out to a living Will, touch warm skin so as to drive away the horrible memory of death.


He clears his throat and bluffs, “William, tell me somethin’. Have you come because you need my help to rescue a certain distressing damsel?” Being murdered is quite stressful and enough to turn a man from even the prettiest of women. “Or rather, a damsel in distress? Either one.”


Turner arches an eyebrow at him as he answers in the negative. The expression is so familiar of his estranged past that Jack has to reign in the urge to hug the man. Reasonably he continues, “Then you wouldn’t be here. So you can’t be here. Q.E.D. you’re not really here.”


That’s right, let these buggers know where they stand.


“Jack, this is real, we’re here.”


His moustache twitches in annoyance. Why is she back? He eyes Elizabeth warily and side-steps her outstretched hand. No, he will not have her touch him. As he backs away he realizes that the woman standing before him wears an expression of guilt, something always lacking when she has visited before. He glances quickly at the other people gathered on the beach; he wonders who the Orientals are and questions why he would invite Barbossa or Pintel or Ragetti into his world.


A disturbing suspicion creeps into his thoughts and he goes to Gibbs to check on it. “The locker, you say?” He strokes his beard in thought, staring blankly at the sand underfoot. It would make sense, right?


He still hasn’t come up with a satisfactory answer when Elizabeth insists, “We’ve come to rescue you!”


And the statement sounds utterly ridiculous when he casts an eye around the crowd. Everywhere he looks he can see evidence that rescue plays very little part in this venture. Gibbs, bless him, and his few remaining crew members seem to be without ulterior motives, but he knows that can change in time.


He rakes his gaze over Turner, noting the fading bruises on the man’s face and recently healed cut on his hand. It takes a moment to find, but Jack’s eyes settle on the knife at Will’s belt. His heart skips a beat and for a moment he feels it in his hand again, sees the blood welling up from the depths of a cooling body.


“Cut ou’ him heart.” He spins toward Tia Dalma with an accusation ready on his lips and stops just in time when he realizes that she is exchanging a concerned glance with Gibbs.


You’re lost, Jacky. He tells the voice to shut up and launches into a classic Captain Sparrow display practiced long enough that he doesn’t have to worry about the performance being perfect. Dazzle ‘em ‘til they can’t see straight.


~ * ~


The voices in his head haven’t stopped. Jack hears them taunting him when he tries to block them out and pay attention to the real people around him. At night when he’s alone with the voices he wonders how no one knows. Then again, he considers, who would see fit to call him on it? Barbossa needs him at the moment, Elizabeth has been absent more than not, same with Turner – who is not the Will of his fantasies – and Gibbs hesitates to question his captain too deeply.


Alrigh’, then. By your onesies.


‘Cepting for us, a’course. Bugger. Nice of you to vote our murderess into kinghood.


Weren’t no better way, he argues. He narrows his eyes at the noisy Court, as if he needed a reminder of why he hates meeting with fellow pirate captains. Self-important lot without a sense of humor, all of them. He snorts and turns away, only to come face-to-face with a captain he’s less inclined to see than the others.


His lips twitch, attempting a smile. Well... “How’s it, then?” Noticing the dissatisfaction in eyes dark as his own, Jack says, “What? You’ve seen it all, done it all.” He waves his hands in a grand gesture. “You survived. An’ that’s the trick, innit? To survive.”


Captain Teague’s eyebrow arches at his tone. When he replies, it’s with something Jack does not expect of the man he’d watched grow hard and cynical. “It’s not just about livin’ forever, Jacky. The trick,” he makes a familiar hand gesture, “is living with yourself, forever.”


Gettin’ a bad feelin’ here, one of the voices complains.


Don’t pay attention to ‘im. Dads’re apt to frighten the kiddies.


The first voice reminds, Not been a kid for a while, Jack. An’ you know he knows it.


Shut up, all of you!


“So...” he grabs for something completely different. “How’s mum?”


Oh. Not so lovely these days. Vaguely he wonders what happened, but it’s been a couple decades since he’d been near either parent. “She looks great.” He sees a real grin reflected back at him and some of his fear dims.


Might’ve visited sooner, Jacky.


He sighs, wishing he had a moment’s peace. He dreads the night ahead, knowing it will be all the worse after having abandoned Turner for Beckett to find. But it’s part of the plan, he tries to console himself.


“The trick is living with yourself.” Jack looks up quickly but is unable to tell if Teague repeated himself. Either way, the words weigh heavily on his shoulders like an accusation. He really wishes he didn’t have to be involved.


~ * ~

Continued in next post