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{fic} Lost at Sea 4/4 | Pirates

See first part post for header information

~ * ~


He abandons the distracting voices back in the Dutchman’s brig and pursues his original purpose of being on the ship. The chest is heavier than he remembers and the beat of the heart vibrates throughout his body even as he dodges Jones’ blows and quips with the squid-faced captain.


Then he’s flying through the air and catching hold of a rope by pure luck. His body moves fluidly, instinctively keeping him from revisiting death’s door. His only goal is uniting chest and key and stabbing that heart to claim his immortality and leave behind all mortals’ fear.


~ * ~


Jack laughs aloud when the key clicks into place. Eagerly he opens the lid but amidst the elation he feels a sudden stab of fear as he looks down at the bloody heart. For a moment the image of a lifeless Will laying in his bed overwhelms him.


It’s not him, you fool! he scolds himself. He glances up, sees Davy Jones mocking Turner as he removes a sword from his body. Now! Or it could bloody well be. Jack grabs the heart and pulls it out with both hands.


Scrambling to his feet, he withdraws his broken sword and waits for the opportune—


“Do you?” He can feel the grin lighting his face and resists the urge to laugh at Jones’ stunned expression. “Heady tonic, holdin’ life an’ death in the palm of one’s hand.” He ignores the slimy feel of the heart as blood trickles between his fingers. Part of him remembers Will’s blood blossoming red beneath the knife.


Jack pulls his blade up, preparing for a grand performance to sever Jones’ ties from the world when the other captain accuses, “You’re a cruel man, Jack Sparrow.”


“All a matter of perspective, mate!” he returns.


“Is it, now?”


Jack is sure he didn’t blink. Swears it, but he doesn’t see anything until the sword is protruding from Turner’s chest. Again he is forced to watch dark crimson well to the surface at an alarming rate, spilling over the edges of the wound and trailing down skin to soak into cloth. Jack isn’t sure he can breathe, frozen in shock.


He doesn’t realize he’d gone deaf until a fury of sound crashes in on him and he’s moving. More than moving, he’s practically flying across the deck to reach Will’s side. Elizabeth sobs as she uselessly runs her hands over the dying man’s body. Jack watches in wide-eyed silence and wishes he could see Will’s eyes. He wants someone else to tell him what to do; his recent choices have led to such disaster.


“Please!” Elizabeth is begging, but not of Jack.


Will’s eyes are losing focus, and Jack can see now that the man has turned his head. In his mind he can hear echoes from the wasteland and that strange period of bliss he doubts he will ever regain.


“Cut ou’ him heart.” “You don’t belong here, Jack.” “You have the opportunity.” “Whad do you wan’ most?” “Do it, Jack.” “You’ve got to do it yourself.”


The hand in his is chilly but not yet waxen. He guides the weak fingers around the hilt of his sword and raises their joined hands. He looks away from the heart and stares at Will as the broken blade descends and sinks into flesh. As the light fades in Will’s eyes, Jack fancies he sees a tiny smile. He glances away, not wanting to watch the final moment when breath escapes for the last time.


Jones freezes above Bill Turner, Calypso’s name escaping his lips before the Dutchman’s captain falls over the rail and into the eye of the whirlpool. Elizabeth screams behind him and Jack closes his eyes, praying to whatever gods will listen that he hasn’t made another mistake.


Gradually he becomes aware of the murmured chant sweeping over the ship as the misshapen crew draw closer. “Part of the ship, part of the crew. Part of the ship, part of the crew.”


Goosebumps creep up Jack’s arm at the repetition. He knows it’s time to go, suddenly realizing how deep the Dutchman is swirling into the whirlpool. Elizabeth fights to get away when he grabs her, but he is the stronger and by the time he miraculously gets them airborne, she is clinging to him and sobbing into his chest. She doesn’t see what he does. Jack watches with sick fascination as Bootstrap employs his knife in the task of ripping into his son’s chest. And oh, there is so much more blood...


The Dutchman continues its downward spiral as Jack and Elizabeth float through the air towards the Pearl. He foolishly wonders how any of this is possible. He’s been acting on instinct and now he feels lost in the absence of action and adrenaline. As they near the ocean’s surface he can hear Pearl’s call and smiles a little to himself, knowing now that she called them back – probably with a little help. He gives Elizabeth a boost before climbing up the ship behind her. He glances up at the clearing sky and spares a thought to Calypso, acknowledging the part of the goddess that will always be Tia Dalma.


Can’t escape bein’ human, he thinks. He feels amazingly calm as he steps on deck. Calm and confident.


Gibbs nervously tries to give a report and none too subtly suggests fleeing. Barbossa calls out orders that Jack quickly belays. Gibbs tries again to encourage retreat. “Kindly shut up!” Jack snaps at the crew as he strides towards the helm. He waits, watching the waves, knowing that soon— And he’s not sure how he knows, though he’s aware that Pearl in humming and he seems to hear the faint thump of a heartbeat...


The Flying Dutchman breaks the surface. He grins and calls, “Full canvas!” Elizabeth looks ready to faint for a moment. She quickly regains herself and competes with her fellow captains for attention as they each shout orders to the crew.


~ * ~


He stares for a long time at the pristine beach in the light of the setting sun. He tries to imagine what it would be like to watch the land from afar for years on end, knowing that he could only set foot on land for one day every ten years. The ocean is his home and a closer companion than any lover, but even Jack needs his time ashore, if only to remember how much he belongs to the sea.


The wind picks up and Jack’s eye catches on the ghostly flag flying above the Dutchman. The otherworldly ship waits with the Pearl for the morning to come. She’s changed a little, having shed much of her sea creature accoutrements like the crew had. Despite the change of captains, she’ll continue to be a terrifying sight as she comes to guide her souls, but Jack will never fear her tattered sails again.


A lone figure leans against the rail on the other ship and after squinting a bit, Jack can tell it’s Bootstrap (who looks much better without the starfish and the barnacle-encrusted coat). For a moment Jack feels a little uncomfortable realizing that the only other person watching the shore so intently is the father of the recent groom. Bootstrap has a justifiable claim on concern for his newlywed son. Jack isn’t sure he could defend his own spying if asked. His interest has little to do with concern for the newlyweds and more to do with an emotional investment Jack is reluctant to admit.


“Cap’n.” Gibbs steps up to the rail. Jack motions him to speak but doesn’t turn to face his first mate. “Be there a plan for mornin’?”


Gaze again turned to shore, Jack considers what the new Mrs. Turner is apt to request upon return. “To Shipwreck Cove, I think. Her majesty needs ‘er own ship.” He caresses Pearl’s rail affectionately. “Already have me hands full with bloody what’s-‘is-face.” Gibbs snorts quietly, making Jack grin.


“Aye, an’ what ye be plannin’ about that?”


Jack glances sidelong at his friend and smirks. “A secret, Mister Gibbs. All in due time.” Truthfully he hasn’t thought very far ahead given the recent overwhelming events, but he’ll be damned if he lets Barbossa take away his Pearl again. Maybe he should enlist Elizabeth’s help before seeing her off. After all, she seems to feel indebted to him at the moment, and he isn’t sure how long that will last.


Lass seems to’ve made quite the impression with ol’ Hector. That, along with her craftiness will prove a good asset in retaining his beloved ship. Yes, he decides, he’ll set her to work. Maybe they’ll even avoid some bloodshed if Elizabeth can convince Barbossa to take on a different ship. Never would’ve figured ‘im to be fascinated by anyone but hisself.


“Jack?” Gibbs looks like he’s been waiting to catch his attention. “The crew’ll be wantin’ some... rewardin’ venture after all this.”


Ah. That he has thought of, though he’ll not admit to why. “I know just the thing, mate.” He grins and meets his friend’s curious gaze. “Ever heard of the Fountain of Youth?” Gibbs opens his mouth but doesn’t say a word, a strange expression crossing his face – a dawning realization that Jack is not particularly fond of. “Bit of shiny ‘long the way, to be sure,” he adds. This proves enough of a distraction.


Jack’s eyes wander back to the Dutchman where Bootstrap begins to pace. Eternity would be  more’n a might lonely. Wonder if your girl understands it yet.


“I’m to take watch if ye want, Cap’n,” Gibbs says expectantly.


Shaking his head, Jack leans against the rail and waves the first mate away. “I’ll be here, Mister Gibbs. Get your rest ‘fore our travels, savvy?” He’s already refocused on the shore when Gibbs responds. The sun has set but a full moon bathes the sand in silvery light.


For a moment he imagines he can feel the sand beneath his feet and the surf lapping at his ankles. He turns toward the gentle touch at his shoulder and finds Will standing beside him, a small smile on his face. They stare at one another in peaceable silence. Jack moves his gaze to Will’s open shirt and eyes the long jagged scar across an otherwise unblemished chest. His heart aches at the sight but before he can say anything gentle fingers press against his lips. He looks up, expecting to fall into the other man’s mahogany gaze, and instead can only see the Flying Dutchman bobbing gently in the waves.


With a sigh, Jack slumps against the rail and wonders if he has the energy to find a bottle of rum. Come morning, he’ll be needing it.


~ * ~ * ~

to be continued in next story: Never Learned to Drown