Summary: Marie Turner is seventeen. She is no longer a child, but not quite an adult. When fate puts her aboard the Black Pearl, however, she begins to learn for the first time what growing up really means.
Note: It's best to read POTC 2 and POTC 3 by pirateoftherings before reading the following fanfic.
3 months after the encounter with Barbossa…
“Another round of drinks, on me!” Jack shouted to one of the barmaids. The men gave a raucous cheer. Everyone was in high spirits after the successful raid. Everyone, that is, except Anamaria. “You’re being unnaturally quiet tonight, Ana,” Jack said over the noise, leaning across the table. “Something the matter?”
“Nothing,” she lied, looking away.
“Come on, luv,” he persisted. “Nothin’ you can’t tell ol’ Jack, right?”
Anamaria hesitated. “Fine. But not here.” Jack nodded an stood up, motioning to Blackbird that he was leaving.
“Now, what’s this all about?” Jack asked once they were alone outside. “You seemed awfully upset in there.”
“It’s just…I-I won’t be able to stay with the crew anymore, Jack…some things have come up…”
Jack frowned in concern and leaned again a stack of crates. “What kind of things, love?” He couldn’t imagine anything that would keep Ana away from the Black Pearl. She loved it almost as much as he did.
“Just…things,” she said, turning away again. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath and tried again. “Jack…” she whispered. “I’m pregnant.”
“Pregnant?” he repeated in surprise.
Ana nodded. “There’s more,” she added hesitantly. “…You’re going to be a father, Jack.”
Jack stumbled back as though a physical blow had been dealt to his chest. He felt himself struggling for breath as he gasped “Father?”
“I-I meant to tell you sooner,” she stammered, “I really did. But I was afraid to say anything, and the right time never presented itself.” Jack’s head spun as he absorbed the news. He’d always known there were consequences to his actions, but he’d never expected to actually have to face any of them. In a moment of panic, he did something for the first time in his life. He ran.
Brushing roughly past a group of men, Jack hurried up the steps to the room he’d rented. He locked the door behind him and sat wearily on the bed. A father... he kept repeating to himself. A father…Could he be a father? That word meant nothing to him except a painful childhood he’d long left behind. After much consideration, he concluded that he could, despite his lack of a decent role model. But could he give up piracy for it? Everything good that had ever happened to him happened on the open sea. It was as much a part of him as breathing. But I could if I needed to, he told himself firmly. Ana’s worth it. He would tell her first thing in the morning, he resolved. Just as soon as he got a few hours of sleep…
“Anamaria?” the tavern owner repeated when Jack inquired about her. “I dunno…should still be in ‘er room. She’d rented it for several nights more. Said her ship wasn’t leavin’ for-”
“I know,” Jack said impatiently. “I’m her Captain. She wasn’t in her room, and I need to know where she is.” He slid a couple of coins across the counter to help the owner’s memory.
“Oh! That Anamaria!” the man said suddenly, hastily pocketing the money. “Left last night, bags an’ all. She said I could keep the rest o’ the rent If I kept it quiet, so I did what I could.”
Jack groaned in exasperation. “Your integrity is greatly appreciated. Did she say where she was going?” he asked, trying not to seem too anxious.
The owner just shrugged. “I ‘eard her talkin’ to the cap’n of some ship…think ‘is name was Palacios or somethin’…Why d’ye want to find-” Jack as gone before he could finish the question.
“You! Boy!” Jack shouted to a young man who seemed like he would notice parting ships. “Do ye know of a Captain Palacios that’s been ‘ere recently?”
The young man nodded. “Who hasn’t? His ship’s the Dawn Maiden, one of the most beautiful-”
“Have they departed yet?” Jack interrupted brusquely.
“Yeah, a few hours ago.”
“Was there a woman with them?”
The boy shrugged. “Didn’t really pay attention,” he said casually. “None that I saw, and I don’t know why there would be. Women are bad luck y’know.”
Jack banged his fist angrily on a wooden crate. She was gone…and it was all his fault.
21 years later…
Marie fidgeted impatiently, struggling to maintain an interested expression. Visits with her grandfather were always exceedingly boring, but at seventeen she was too old to fall asleep like her brothers had. To make matters worse, it was extremely hot, and even her grandfather’s well-ventilated parlor was becoming unbearable. “Marie?” Governor Swann suddenly said, drawing her attention away from the patterns of the rug.
“Huh?” she blurted our, earning a chastising look from her mother. “I mean, excuse me?”
Her grandfather sighed in obvious disapproval. “I asked you a question, dear,” he said. “You really must stop daydreaming so much. It’s quite unbecoming for a young lady of your age.”
“Sorry, Grandfather,” Marie muttered.
“I was wondering if you had read any interesting books lately. Your mother tells me you’ve become quite the avid reader.”
“Well, I’m currently reading a book on p-”
“Proper etiquette for young ladies,” he mother interrupted, giving Marie a warning glance. “She’s found it quite interesting. Isn’t that right, dear?”
“Fascinating…” she lied. It still didn’t make sense to her why they needed to impress her grandfather. So what if he knew that she spent all her time roaming the streets and daydreaming about pirates? It made little difference, in her opinion.
“…I still do not see what draws you to that dreadful town, if that’s what you call it,” he grandfather was saying. “It cannot be the most conducive atmosphere to raising a family.”
“Father, not this again…” Elizabeth said wearily.
“I am simply saying that I questioning the wisdom of exposing your children to-”
“With all due respect, Governor,“ Will interrupted quietly but firmly. “Elizabeth and I know how to raise our children. While your concern is appreciated, we will decided what we do and do not want our children exposed to.”
Elizabeth glances out the window at the setting sun. “We should probably be going,” she murmured to Will.
He nodded and stood up slowly. “Our ship leaves at dawn, so we’d better get a good night’s sleep,” he explained. Going over to the two boys, who were still asleep on one of the couches, he shook both of them lightly and whispered, “William, Lil’ Jack, we’re leaving. Come say goodbye to you grandfather.” Obligingly, the twins stood up and went over to briefly hug him.
“Goodbye, Father,” Elizabeth said, hugging him and lightly kissing his cheek. “We’ll try to visit again soon.”
“Goodbye, my dear,” he replied. Turning to Marie, he said, “Goodbye, Marie. I look forward to seeing the results of your studies next time you visit.”
Will hesitantly extended his hand. “Thank you for your hospitality, Governor,” he said simply.
“A mere trifle when it comes to family,” Governor Swann assured him. “Will, do take care of my daughter.”
Will nodded as they headed out the door. “I shall.”
“Remind me who we’re staying with?” Elizabeth asked as they made their way down the darkening streets.
“Andrew, an old friend of mine,” Will replied. “He was apprenticed to the printer two doors down from Mr. Brown’s shop. Good man. I’d trust him with my life.” As if suddenly remembering something, he turned around to face William and Lil’ Jack. “Boys, we’re going to play a game.”
“What kind of game?” Lil’ Jack asked curiously.
“A new one. We’re going to pretend for one whole day that I’m not a pirate. If anybody asks you, I’m just a blacksmith. Andrew’s playing it too, so if he says anything about it, you have to play along and pretend. He’s helping me judge you two, so he might try to test you. If I think you both did a good job, you’ll get a surprise when we get back home. Savvy?”
“Yes, sir!” they chimed in unison.
“I thought you trusted him with your life,” Elizabeth commented mildly when Will turned back around.
“I do, but it’s better safe than sorry.” Pausing to make sure it was the right house, Will knocked quietly at the door. After a few moments, a red-haired man opened it and motioned them quickly inside. Nobody spoke as they made their way down the hall.
Finally they reached the kitchen, and the man broke into a wide grin. “Will Turner! How are you?” he said cheerfully, clapping Will on the back. “I see you got quite a family going.”
Will smiled and gestured to his family. “You remember my wife Elizabeth. This is Marie, our oldest, and the twins are William and Lil’ Jack.”
“A pleasure to see you again, milady,” Andrew replied, bowing slightly to Elizabeth. “I see you’re still putting up with Will. When we were naught but lads, he’d go into some kind of trance every time you just walked by…”
Will hit his friend’s arm roughly. “Shut up, Andrew.”
Andrew just grinned, his blue eyes shining mischievously. “Well anyway, you all must be worn out from your visit with the governor. The children will be staying upstairs, and Will and Elizabeth can share our guest bedroom. My wife Clara will have supper ready in a few minutes.”
Marie felt much better after letting her hair down and changing into more casual clothes. When she made her way downstairs, she found that everyone had begun eating without her. “There’s some stew in that pot o’er on the hearth, dear,” a woman, who she assumed to be Clara, said cheerfully. “And we have bread an’ butter on the table. It’s not much, but we’ll make do. Help yeself.” Marie obeyed and took a seat next to her mother at the table.
“So, how’s business going?” Andrew continued.
Will shrugged. “As long as people need weapons and tools, I’ll be in business,” he replied casually. “Not much to be said for it. Clara, would you be so kind as to get me a bit more to drink?”
As Clara poured more water into Will’s glass, Andrew leaned back slightly in his chair. “Actually, I was, uh, referring to your other business, Will.”
“Does a blacksmith hold two jobs now?” Will asked, still feigning ignorance.
Andrew shrugged. “He does when he’s a pirate,” he replied mildly.
“Alright, who told you?” Will asked, leaning forward against the table.
“Everybody and nobody,” Andrew said. “You’re one of the most wanted men from here to England, Will. You all but made headlines here in Port Royal. ‘Local mild-mannered blacksmith marries governor’s daughter and runs off to go on the account.’ You’re quite the local celebrity.”
Will frowned in concern. “Does anyone know we’re here?” If they did, someone could have already tipped off Norrington and his men…
“None o’ the women are gossiping ‘bout it, and we’re always the first to hear anything,” Clara assured him. “Andrew and I were careful not to say anything ‘bout you visiting.” Standing up, she and Elizabeth began clearing the table. After a look from her mother, Marie joined them.
“I believe it’s bedtime for little boys,” Elizabeth said when they were finished.
“But Mama, we’re not tired!” Lil’ Jack complained.
“Can’t we stay up?” William chimed in.
“No,” she said sternly, placing a hand on their shoulders and leading them over to the stairs. “We have to leave very early tomorrow, and you can’t be tired. Your sister will be up in a few minutes. I except her to find you both in bed when she gets up there.”
Will and Andrew sat in the kitchen talking long after everyone had gone to bed. “So, you really thought you could pull one over on me, huh?” Andrew asked.
Will shrugged. “It seemed as good a plan as any at the time. I just didn’t want you to be at any risk if I was found out.”
“I know, I know,” Andrew said quickly. “Actually, I find it all quite amusing. You were always the honest, noble one when we were lads. Never would’ve thought you capable of concocting such a scheme.”
“Pirate,” Will replied, motioning helplessly.
Andrew just laughed and leaned back in his chair. “You have changed…and not entirely for the worse,” he said. “So, what’s it like, being a pirate?”
“I’m wanted nearly everywhere I go, the government of some country or another is always on my tail, and I never know if I’m going to survive the next journey,” Will replied casually.
“So basically you’re having the time of your life.”
“Basically,” Will admitted with a grin. “So, tell me more about your life. How long have you and Clara been married?”
“Twelve years. We met-” He was interrupted by someone knocking heavily at the door. “Who’d call at this hour…?” he muttered. Will’s hand moved subconsciously to the pistol he had concealed in his jacket. “Think it’s trouble?” Andrew asked, noticing the movement.
“Open up in there!” someone shouted on the other side of the door. “We’ve got a warrant to search the place!”
“It’s just a guess,” Will said sarcastically.
“Will, what’s going on?” Elizabeth asked, coming in from their bedroom.
“Someone tipped off Norrington,” he replied tersely. “Andrew, you’d better go ahead and let them in. I won’t have you get in trouble on my account.”
Elizabeth looked up at him in surprise. “Will…”
Will slipped his hand comfortingly into hers. “It’s alright, love,” he whispered. “I’ll be fine.”
Hesitantly, Andrew went over and opened the door slightly. “Hullo!” he said, pretending to be surprised. “What’s the meaning of this?”
“We received word that you had a dangerous fugitive staying in your home,” Commodore Norrington said, his dark eyes immediately focusing on Will. “It is unfortunate that this should prove to be so.” He motioned for one of the soldiers to put cuffs on Will.
“Come now!” Andrew continued to protest, stepping in front of the soldier. “This man is a guest in my home! He hasn’t caused any trouble in his visit. You cannot simply knock on my door in the middle of the night, wake everybody up, and demand that my guest be arrested!”
“William Turner, you are under arrest,” the commodore said, ignoring Andrew. “I suggest you come quietly. We don’t want a scene in front of your wife and children.”
Will looked up in surprise to see that his children had come down the stairs. “Norrington, do you not think that if I’d wanted to escape, I could have done so long ago? I’ve done nothing but stand here. I’ll go, but only if you allow me to say goodbye first.” Norrington nodded hesitantly and motioned for the men to wait. Unloading his pistol to prove that he wouldn’t try anything, Will hurried over to where the children stood.
“Father, what’s going on?” William asked fearfully.
Will knelt and ruffled the boys’ hair. “It’s alright, little mates,” he said soothingly. “I have to go with these men, but I’ll be back. I need you two to be on your best behavior for your mother, understood?”
“Yes, sir,” they replied obligingly.
“Marie,” Will said, placing a hand lightly on her shoulder. “Help your mother out with these two, alright? Be a good lass.” Finally, he went over to Elizabeth and kissed her. “I need you and the children to carry out our original departure plans, love,” he whispered. She started to protest, but Will placed a finger on her lips. “I have to know you’re all safe. Don’t worry; I’ll get out. I always do.” Elizabeth simply nodded. As the irons were placed around his wrists and he was led roughly along, Will exchanged one last meaningful look with Elizabeth before the door was closed behind him.
Will rubbed his wrists as he was thrown roughly into a cell with another young man. “You’re scheduled to hang at dawn,” Commodore Norrington said as he turned to leave. “It’s time you paid for your crimes, Turner.” Will glared darkly at the commodore’s back and sat down on the stone bench provided in the cell. Putting his hat over his eyes, he attempted to sleep.
After several minutes, he was aware of somebody staring at him. Pushing his hat back up, he inclined his head slightly to acknowledge the other prisoner. “Can I help you?” he asked when the young man still didn’t say anything.
“Oh, sorry,” the boy said, shaking his head apologetically. “I was just thinking about something the commodore said…your name’s Turner?”
“Aye,” Will said warily. “What of it?”
“Nothing,” the young man said quickly. “It’s just that that’s the name of one of the most dangerous pirates in these parts.”
“That so?” Will asked, clearly not interested.
“He’s said to have escaped from prison over thirty times in the twenty years he’s been in the business-”
“That many, huh?”
“Aye,” the young man said, annoyed at being interrupted. “The funny thing is, piracy isn’t his main occupation. His first job is as a-”
“Blacksmith,” Will interjected. “He lives in Tortuga with his wife, his seventeen-year-old daughter, and his eleven-year-old sons. His twin sister is Blackbird Turner, and their father was Bootstrap Bill Turner. He’s known the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow for twenty-one years, and served on his crew for eighteen. He is also very tired at the moment and is on the verge of strangling a certain young man if he does not shut up.”
The boy looked at him in surprise. “You’re Will Turner?”
“Guilty as charged,” Will replied. “Now, what was that I said about shutting up?”
“Sorry, it’s just…at risk of sounding like a child, you’ve always been kind of a…hero of mine. My hope is to one day balance piracy and a family like you have.”
“It’s hard,” Will admitted, giving up on sleep. “Especially if you spend your whole youth sitting in jail. How’d you end up here, anyway? Get caught pick-pocketing or something?”
“No,” the young man said indignantly. “I was caught stowing away on a merchant vessel to avoid the Spanish Royal Navy after being tried on charges of piracy and sentenced to hang. Now I’m scheduled to hang right after you. My name‘s Juan, by the way. Juan Palacios.”
“I’d introduce myself,” Will replied, “but you seem to already be familiar with my name. Where are you from, Juan? You accent doesn’t seem typical of these parts.”
“Santo Domingo,” Juan replied. “My mother’s hometown. She moved there after-” He was interrupted by the guard tumbling down the stairs. Seconds later, Blackbird hurried down the stairs. Kneeling to pick up the soldier’s keys, she tossed them to Will.
“Blackbird!” Will said in surprise. “I thought you were in Kingston with Jack!”
Blackbird shrugged. “I was,” she replied. “We got done early, so we decided to come see how you were doing. Same as usual, I see.”
“Missed you too,” Will shot back sarcastically. “I could’ve gotten out on my own. I was just biding my time.”
“Uh-huh. It was just convenient that I showed up to save your hide yet again.”
“I hate to break it to you guys, but it won’t be long before soldiers show up,” Juan interrupted. “Might we get going?”
“Who’s this?” Blackbird asked, indicating the young man.
“Nobody,” Will replied. “Just my cellmate. Look, Juan, you go your way, we go ours. We never met. That’s the easiest way.”
“Take me with you,” Juan argued stubbornly. “I’ve been a pirate since I was thirteen. I’ll be worth my wages.”
Blackbird ran an aggravated hand through her hair. Any more delay could cost them. “Fine,” she said shortly. “We’ll take you to Jack. Beyond that, it’s up to him. I promise nothing. You ready to go, Will?”
Will nodded and gestured up the stairs. “Lead the way, milady.”
Will was surprised to see a familiar face as he climbed of the side of the Black Pearl. “Marie?”
“Yeah…did I forget to mention that little detail?” Blackbird said casually from behind him. “I kinda ran into Elizabeth right before they were to board their ship. That’s how I knew you were in the jail.”
“Alright, that’s great, but what does that have to do Marie being here now?” Will asked, looking from one to the other.
“Well, I really wanted to see what it’s like to be on the crew,” Marie explained. “After a bit of convincing from Aunt Blackbird, Mother agreed to letting me just try it out for the journey home.”
“And when did you plan on getting my opinion on this?”
“…Now?” she offered. “Please, Father, just for the journey home. I even got Uncle Jack’s permission. It’s only two or three days.”
“A lot can happen in two or three days,” Will pointed out, clearly struggling with the decision.
“A word, Will?” Jack said suddenly, appearing out of nowhere. Pulling Will aside, he muttered, “I figured this was the only way to satisfy the lass. She’s been beggin’ me to join the crew since she was thirteen, and I can’t put up with it much longer. Let her see how hard it really is, and I predict she’ll lose interest. This is just me, but if she was my daughter, I’d rather she learn her lesson with me there than without, savvy?”
Will sighed and nodded reluctantly. “Sadly, I think that’s the most sense you’ve made in the twenty-one years I’ve known you,” he said dryly. “You better know what you’re talking about.” He turned back to Marie. “Fine, but this is only for the journey home. When we get back to Tortuga, you have an exciting story to tell, but that’s it. I don’t want to hear anything else about joining the crew.”
Marie nodded and smiled. “Thank you, Father,” she said, starting to hug him.
“Now wait just a minute, lass,” Jack interrupted, raising a finger. “There are certain conditions to your being on the crew. No more than any other member, but they apply to all. One: you will work your hardest at all times. If at any time I catch you slacking off, I reserve the right to confine you to a cabin for the remainder of the journey. Secondly: my word is final. I know you’re accustomed to arguing with me on occasion, but here it’s different. Here I am not Uncle Jack; I’m Captain Sparrow, and what I say goes, savvy?” Marie nodded earnestly. She’s expected such rules. “Oh, and…one more thing,” he added, glancing at Will. “No hiding behind your father here. I don’t want you to prove yourself as Will Turner’s daughter; I want you to prove yourself as Marie Turner, a sharp young woman who could become a valuable asset to my crew if given the right opportunities. Now, don’t think that this is entirely one-sided. I expect Will to withdraw his…protective tendencies. You don’t have to follow his rules any more than you would another crew member. Do we have an accord?”
Marie hesitated before shaking his hand. “Agreed.”
“Excellent,” he said, grinning. “Then Blackbird will show you to the forecastle, lend you some of her clothes, and we’ll get going, aye?” His eyes fell on Juan, who had been standing behind them silently. “New friend?”
“More like a tag-along,” Will replied. “Jack, Juan Palacios. Juan, Captain Jack Sparrow.”
“A pleasure to meet you, sir,” Juan said, concealing his surprise at the name and bowing slightly. “It’s an honor to meet a man with a reputation like yours.” In the excitement of escaping prison and meeting two famous pirates, he had almost forgotten who they sailed for.
“Your parents know where you are, lad?” Jack asked.
“I’m twenty-one years old, sir,” Juan replied. “I’m old enough to be accountable for myself. Anyway, they both died when I was thirteen.”
“I know how that can be,” Jack said, nodding slightly. “Where’re you from?”
“I was born in Santo Domingo. If you don’t mind me asking, sir, why are you so interested in my background? Most captains I’ve served for only care about what benefit I am to them.”
“Well, I’m not most captains, now am I?” Jack said pointedly. “I find it beneficial to know where my crew is coming from. Makes it easier to anticipate what they’ll do. Take Ho Kwan, ‘ere,” he said, indicating an Asian man. “Born and raised in Mongolia. His parents were killed by invading pirates when ‘e was eight, and he was taken aboard the ship. Been a pirate ever since, and you’ll not find a more faithful man. Hardly speaks a word of English, but we got along just fine, right mate?” He grinned at the man, who nodded and continued with his work. “One question, boy: Are you afraid to die?”
“No sir,” Juan replied, his dark brown eyes staring evenly at the captain.
Jack studied the young man. As their eyes met, he saw determination and self-confidence, but no rebellion. Pulling out his pistol, he cocked it at pointed it at the boy’s forehead. “How about now?”
“No sir,” Juan said in the exact same tone as before, not even flinching.
Grinning, Jack stroked his beard thoughtfully. This lad could be a great contribution to the crew. “I like the looks of ye,” he said, locking the pistol and stuffing it back in his belt. “Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, mate.”
Juan bowed again slightly. “Thank you, sir.”
Turning to the rest of the crew, Jack shouted, “Well, what are ye waitin’ for? Do you want to just sit here and wait for Norrington to come looking for us? Man the braces! Make good to clear port!” As the men scurried to obey his orders, Jack studied their new recruit. Something in the way he presented himself was familiar…a lot like…He shook his head, throwing away the thought. You’re getting old, Sparrow, he told himself wryly. Everybody looks like somebody. Sighing, he leaned against the wheel and guided the Pearl out of the port. He’s just another eager lad looking for adventure.
Marie struggled to secure the heavy sail. “Need some help?” someone asked above her.
“I’m fine,” she said. Mumbling an oath, she tugged even harder on the rope. Wordlessly, the speaker reached down and helped her hold up the sail as she knotted the rope. “Thanks,” she muttered, looking up. She was surprised to see the young man who had come onboard with Will that morning.
“No problem,” he replied. “Your name’s Marie, right?” She nodded. “My name’s Juan,” he said, bowing as much as he could without falling off the narrow beam.
“Nice to meet you,” Marie said, starting to climb back down. “What brought you aboard the Black Pearl?”
Juan shrugged. “It was better than hanging.” As they both landed lightly on deck, a shrill whistle indicated the end of the watch. “I’m gonna go get some sleep,” he said, turning to go. “But I’ll see you later, Marie.” Marie nodded and watched him leave. She was still staring after him when she spotted her father watching. Hurrying below deck, she disappeared before he could say anything.
As she sat slowly drinking a mug of rum, Marie decided that night was the best time onboard the Black Pearl. For an hour or so every night, most of the crew crowded into the galley. It was generally chaotic, and tonight was no exception. Numerous songs competed with each other, while other men tried to tell stories over the boisterous noise. The result was an incoherent roar.
“Mind if I join you?” Juan asked over the shouting. Marie nodded and moved over on the bench. “I’ve got to hand it to these guys,” he said, setting his drink down. “I’ve been part of several crews, but I’ve never seen one quite as lively as this.”
“They’re all pretty wild,” Marie agreed. Juan started to say something, but was drowned out by sudden cheering. Looking to the center of the room, they saw two men slowly circling each other. After a few seconds, Marie was shocked to realize that one of them was her father.
“I don’t want to fight you, mate,” Will was saying through clenched teeth.
“I wouldn’t wanna fight me neither,” his opponent said, swinging his fist wildly. “But maybe you shoulda thought o’ that before arguing with me.”
Will easily dodged the blow. “You made your point, Blakey,” he said, his dark eyes flashing fiercely. “Now stand down. That’s enough.” In response, the large man swung again, this time connecting squarely with Will’s jaw. Spitting out blood, Will muttered, “That’s enough.” Blakey went for a third punch, but Will caught his arm easily and twisted it behind his back. Within seconds Will had his opponent pinned to the ground with a knife at his neck. “I said, that’s enough.” The man looked up fearfully, but his eyes weren’t on Will.
“What’s going on in here?” Jack asked loudly.
“Blakey ‘ere had too much to drink, as usual,” Jake spoke up. “’e an’ Will started arguing ‘bout somethin’, an’ next thing we knows, they’re at each others’ necks.”
Jack looked at the two men, who had both stood up and were glaring at each other. “Well? Did we work out our differences?” he asked.
“As long as he never brings it up again, we’re fine,” Will said evenly. Crossing his arms, he added, “But I am watching you, mate.” Scowling, the man strode off muttering something about everybody conspiring against him.
As everybody went back to their activities, Will sat down near Marie and Juan. “I’ve never seen you fight like that, Will,” Marie said, deliberately using her father’s first name.
He shrugged and ignored it. “That wasn’t a fight. It was just a physical solution to our disagreement,” he said. “I’ve been in worse.”
“What did he say that got you so angry?”
“It was nothing,” Will said, waving his hand dismissively. “All I’m going to say is that tomorrow, you’re learning how to fight.”
“J- Captain Sparrow said I didn’t have to take orders from you,” she said stubbornly.
“He isn’t giving you this order,” Jack interrupted. “I am. I require for all of my crew members to be adept fighters, and I trust Will’s judgment concerning an individual’s abilities.”
“I know how to fight,” Marie said, turning to her father. “You taught me everything I know.”
“Ah,” Will said, raising a finger, “but not everything I know.”
“Again,” Will said sharply. Marie groaned in exasperation. She had done nothing but simple moves like reversals and parries for over an hour, and it was apparently all Will intended for her to do for the remained of their “session”.
“I’ve known all these moves since I was ten years old,” she complained when he made her do it yet again.
“Good,” he said dryly. “Then this should be easy for you.”
As Marie did the various moves over and over again, Blackbird stood to the side and watched. “Your technique’s all well and good, Will, but the lass is never going to learn until she uses her body more.”
“You try telling her that!” Will said in exasperation. “She doesn’t listen to me.”
Blackbird took the blunt practice sword from Marie and expertly twirled it. “It’s been a while since we sparred,” she said casually.
“Blackbird, not now…” he groaned. “I’m getting too old for this…”
“You’re no older than me,” Blackbird said, giving the sword a few practice swings. “And nobody gets to call me old as long as I’m defeating them every time we fight.”
“Are you trying to provoke me?”
Blackbird stretched her arms limberly. “Did it work?”
“It might’ve,” Will said casually, unsheathing his own practice sword and taking a few steps toward her.
“Then I most certainly was.”
“This is just a spar, not an all-out fight,” he warned her. “It’s for educational purposes only.”
Blackbird shrugged and flourished her sword in a salute. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
They began to slowly circle each other, swords drawn. “Footwork is the foundation of all fighting,” Blackbird said, keeping her eyes on Will. “It’s like a dance. Just make sure you don’t take your attention away from your opponent in case they try to surprise you.”
“Like this,” Will said, suddenly switching hands and dropping to one knee to come at her from below.
Blackbird jumped up easily to avoid the blade and retaliated. “Yes, but hopefully they’ll be a bit better at it.” They kept going, their blades accelerating faster and faster until it took all of Marie’s concentration just to keep up. Will began slowly pressing Blackbird backwards up the steps toward the helm. He almost had her cornered when she suddenly reversed direction and instead began forcing him back. Will flipped easily over the rail onto the deck below, with Blackbird following close behind. Blackbird lashed out with her feet, but Will had come to expect that move and easily moved out of the way. What he hadn’t anticipated was for her to use the momentum from the kick to roll behind him, coming up in such a position that it was easy to simply reach out and touch her sword to his neck. “I win,” she said, struggling to conceal her heavy breathing.
Will sheathed his sword and gave her a challenging look. “I let you win. I was getting bored.”
“Oh please,” Blackbird said, rolling her eyes. “I beat you and you know it, Will Turner. If you can’t accept that I’m the better fighter-”
“Better, maybe, but boring,” he interrupted. “You use the same moves you did when I met you eighteen years ago!”
“At least they work.”
“Children!” Jack interrupted from where he’d been watching. “Do I need to send you to your rooms?”
They both stopped and grinned at him. “We’re fine, Jack,” Blackbird said. “I was just reminding my little brother who’s better-”
“Excuse me, but last time I checked, we were twins.”
“Well one of us still had to be born first.”
“And what makes you think it wasn’t me?”
“Actually, as I remember it, Blackbird was born about two minutes before you,” Jack interjected.
“I give up!” Will exclaimed, throwing his hands up in mock-exasperation. “I don’t know about you two, but I have better things to do than sit around and bicker all day.”
“Aye, like maybe the job I’m paying you for,” Jack said mildly. Looking around at the men who had gathered to watch, he added, “In fact, every one of ye should be working! What is this, a private yacht? Back to work, ya worthless dogs!”
“Those two were amazing,” Juan commented as he and Marie scrubbed the deck that afternoon.
Marie nodded in agreement. “I had no idea Will could fight like that.”
“And just what did you think earned go him his reputation?” he asked in surprise. “I mean, he’s your own father. You‘d never seen him fight?”
“I guess I just never really thought about it,” Marie admitted with a shrug. “You know how it is with fathers.”
“Not really,” Juan said quietly. “See, I never really knew my birth father; he ran away before I was born. Antonio Palacios was the man who married my mother, and I share his last name, so I guess you’d call him my father, but it’s not really the same.”
“Do you even know who your birth father was?” she asked. Juan hesitated, then leaned over and whispered a name in her ear. Marie’s eyes grew wide in surprise. “And you never said anything? That’s not something most people would choose to keep secret. Think of the reputation you could have!”
“That’s just it,” Juan said. “I don’t want that reputation. If I ever said anything about it for any reason, it would be because he deserves to know, not because I want anything out of it. I’m twenty-one years old, and I can take care of myself. I don’t really need him for anything.” He ran his hands through his dark hair in frustration. “It’s not like I haven’t given great thought to this, Marie. I want to tell him, but…he ran. It’s obvious he didn’t want anything to do with me, so maybe it’s best that he didn’t find out. Maybe this should stay our little secret.”
“I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to, Juan, but I think he at least deserves to know,” Marie said seriously, standing up. “I’ll see you later. I think I’m going to go get something to drink.”
Juan tossed fitfully in his hammock. Try as he might, sleep evaded him. He couldn’t get Marie’s words out of his head. He at least deserves to know. Sighing, he got up and pulled his boots back on. He might as well get it over with.
Taking a deep breath, Juan knocked hesitantly on the cabin door. After a few seconds, a gruff voice said, “Come in.”
He slowly opened the door and stepped inside the dark cabin. The old captain was sitting half-dressed on the edge of his bed. “Oh. Sorry, I didn’t know you were sleeping,” Juan said, hastily turning to leave. “It was nothing. I’ll leave you to sleep.”
“Nonsense,” Jack said, pulling on his shirt and opening the window to let some light in. “If it was nothing, you wouldn’t be here right now. Sit.”
Obediently, Juan sank into the chair indicated by Jack. He already regretted knocking on the door. What had he been thinking? “It’s really nothing,” he lied again. “I shouldn’t have bothered you.”
“Well, you’ve gone and bothered me now, so let’s have it.” When the boy still didn’t say anything, Jack sighed and stood up. “Take your time,” he said sarcastically, strolling around and picking up random items to examine.
“I…I wasn’t entirely honest with you,” Juan said hesitantly. “When you asked me about my parents, I kind of left out that Antonio Palacios was not my biological father. He married my mother when she was already pregnant to prevent her from shame.”
Jack simply nodded and continued to walk around. “That’s all?” he asked. “Hardly something worth concealing, in my opinion.”
“No,” Juan said, shaking his head. “That’s not all. My mother told me about my real father shortly before she died. She intended for me to find him so he could look after me, but I never even tried. As I saw it, he didn’t want me, so why bother?”
“That’s not always the case,” Jack interrupted, raising a finger to accentuate his point. “Sometimes we…panic…do things we later regret…Why are you telling me all this, lad? When I said I was interested in your background, I didn’t mean every little detail.”
“I’ll feel better if you know, sir,” Juan said evenly. “I don’t think I’m communicating my point clearly…Did you know a woman named Anamaria de Valero?”
Jack suddenly stopped pacing and set down the compass he’d been studying. “I knew her,” he said tightly, his hands tensing and then relaxing.
“…She was my mother,” Juan said after a hesitant pause. “She…she gave me your name…shortly before she died…”
“Well, well, look at the time,” Jack interrupted. “Must you be leaving so soon? Yes? Well, I had a lovely visit. Goodbye now. Don’t come again.”
“Sir, with all due respect, this is serious.”
“Oh, I agree, lad,” Jack said. “This is of utmost seriousness. And if you could produce any shred of evidence concerning this, I might listen. Good day, Mr. Palacios.”
He started to walk out of the cabin, but Juan stepped in front of him. “I’m twenty-one years old, Mr. Sparrow. I’m not after your money, your protection, or even your attention. If I had wanted any of that, I would have sought you out years ago. All I wanted is for you to know.”
“Good day, Mr. Palacios,” Jack repeated, this time more forcefully.
“You want evidence? The reason you two never got married was you were afraid that it would complicate things with the crew. You didn’t plan of having children for the same reason. You always told her that one day you would both settle down and start a family, but never followed through on it. She told me these things, Jack, because she loved you.”
Jack turned around and leaned heavily on his desk. “Get out,” he said quietly, his hands trembling.
“Every day of that marriage she suffered, wishing that Jack Sparrow would come looking for her and take her away with their son-”
“Get out!” Jack shouted, covering his ears like a child. “I don’t have to listen to this! Get out!”
Juan started to leave, but turned around in the doorway. “I did not ask to be born, sir. My mother tried to hide it from me, but I grew up knowing what I was: the unwanted child,” he said evenly. “Maybe you didn’t plan on me being born, but I was…whether you wanted me or not.”
“Are you alright?” Marie asked as Juan pulled himself up next to her on the platform.
He sighed and rested his head in his hands. “I’d rather not discuss it…” he muttered.
After several minutes of silence, Marie commented, “Look at the sunset; it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is,” Juan agreed quietly. Marie became uncomfortable as she felt his dark eyes on her. She wanted to look away, but found that she couldn’t. Suddenly, Juan leaned over and kissed her. After a moment, she pulled away. “I understand…Your father would kill us,” Juan said, looking away.
Marie grinned shyly. “Maybe my father doesn’t have to know everything,” she whispered, kissing him again. This time, neither one of them pulled away.
Will fought against the pounding waves as he struggled to tie the line down. Every ounce of his being wanted to shout for Marie to go below deck, but he remembered Jack’s orders and said nothing as she helped hold the line steady for him to tie. “Will!” Jack shouted over the roaring wind. “The main t’gallant came loose! You and Blackbird get up there before it takes our mainmast with it!” Nodding and making sure the line was secure, Will hoisted himself up into the rigging.
As they worked to secure the sail, Will heard a deafening crack. Seconds later, the foremast toppled into the raging ocean. Reflecting momentarily that it could just as well have been his mast, Will turned back to his work. They would grieve the dead later, but now all that mattered was the task at hand. “There’s no fixing this one!” he shouted. Blackbird nodded in agreement and pulled out her knife as he did the same. Moving in opposite directions, they worked to cut the sail loose quickly. Finally the last line snapped, and the heavy sheet of canvas was carried off in the wind. Sighing, they both began to climb carefully down. There was still plenty of work to be done.
Will looked across the desk at Jack. “What’s this all about?” he asked. He and Blackbird had been called in there as soon as everything had been cleaned up from the storm.
Jack sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Well…our little run-in with the forces of nature has put us a bit off course.”
“How much is a bit?” Blackbird asked.
“A good bit…” Jack admitted reluctantly. “As in, I’m not exactly sure where we are.”
“You have no bearings?” Will said, frowning in concern.
“Well, I know we’re somewhere northwest of Isla be Muerta,” Jack said, indicating his old compass. “But that doesn’t mean much. It also doesn’t help that we’re surrounded in all this fog. I’ve sailed these waters for most of my life, but even I can’t tell one patch of gray from another. Not without some kind of bearings.”
“If we kept going north, we would eventually strike the North American mainland…” Blackbird mused. “We’re not too wanted in Spanish territory, aye?”
“We’d never make it,” Jack argued, shaking his head. “Not with the time she’s making and our supplies as they are.”
“How much damage was done?”
Jack shrugged. “Foremast’s broken in half, the sails on the main and mizzen masts are nearly in shreds, there’s no way we can salvage all the lines that broke, and the hull sprang a leak at some point, half-flooding the cargo hold. We got ‘er fixed, but not before losing a good bit of our supplies. My estimate is that we’ll last maybe a week, if we ration carefully.”
“Well, that’s wonderful news,” Will said sarcastically. “I’m assuming nobody else knows?”
“I was going to give the men a short version right after this,” Jack said. “All they need to know is-”
“Captain!” Marie interrupted, rushing in. “Sorry to interrupt, sir, but we’ve spotted land, and we thought it best to inform you immediately.”
“Finally some luck,” Jack muttered. “Thank you, Marie. Blackbird, go see if you can spot it. Will and I will be out there shortly.” Blackbird nodded and hurried out after Marie.
As soon as they were alone, Will gave Jack a questioning look. “What is it?”
Jack sighed and leaned forward against the desk. “I need you advice, Will…as a father. This is entirely hypothetical, but bear with me. Suppose that back when Elizabeth first told you she was pregnant with Marie, you panicked and ran. When you came back, she was gone, never to be seen again. Now, suppose that some twenty-one years later, a girl Marie’s age shows up, claiming to be Marie. You wouldn’t believe her, except that she knows things that only Elizabeth knew. What do you do?”
Will stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Well…first of all, I’d ask Jack what’s going on.”
Jack proceeded to briefly but accurately explain his history with Anamaria. “I was a bloody idiot,” he concluded finally. “I panicked, and I made a stupid mistake. Now it’s coming back to haunt me.”
“You say he reminds you of Anamaria?” Will asked.
Jack nodded. “And he knows things that only she knew,” he added. “Not even Blackbird knew that we planned to get married eventually.”
“Well, then I would consider that to be fairly substantial evidence of his being related to you.”
“I know, I know…I’ve pretty much convinced myself that, like it or not, Juan is my…my son,” Jack said, struggling with the last word. “It’s just…I tried for so many years to forget all that happened that night…and now I’m having to face it all over again. Not to mention the hardest fact to face,” he added, grinning wryly. “If I have a twenty-one-year-old son, that makes me undeniably old.” He laughed slightly, resulting in a brief coughing fit. Will started to say something when they were both suddenly thrown by a sharp change in the Pearl’s course. “What in the name of…” Jack muttered, hurrying on deck to investigate.
“Wesson!” he shouted to the man standing at the helm. “What did you do?”
“ ‘tweren’t me, sir,” the man replied. “I was just standin’ here, tryin’ to guide ‘er through the fog when she took a hard turn to starboard. Can’t make the steerin’ cooperate none, Cap’n.”
“Nonsense,” Jack said, going up the steps to the helm. He put all his weight into the wheel, but it wouldn’t budge. “What did you do to the bloody wheel?” he exclaimed.
“ ‘tweren’t me,” Wesson repeated. “It’s like she’s got a mind of ‘er own.”
“Well whatever it was, we were up in the rigging for that little maneuver,” Blackbird said, dropping lightly to the deck. “Marie’s got sharp eyes. There’s a small island about half an hour in the distance. I can’t make out much through the fog, but there seems to be plenty of vegetation. We could easily stop for a few days to make repairs, if the Captain’s willing.”
Jack stared contemplatively into the mists. “It’s gamble,” he said quietly. “Stopping for a few days might exhaust what supplies we do have. It might be safer to wait for a colonized port.”
“But we don’t know that there’s anything beyond this island for days,” Blackbird argued. “In the time we spend looking for a port, we might have fixed our ship and been on our merry way, and making much better time. Anyway, aren’t you notorious for gambles?”
Jack sighed reluctantly. “Three days for repairs,” he yielded. “But that’s it. Half the crew will stay with the ship for repairs, and the other half will explore a bit and see if we can find some means of replenishing our food supply. Make ready the boats.”
Marie slung down the last of the supplies and sloshed through the water to help bring the rowboat ashore. Shouldering their heavy packs, the half of the crew that was to explore with Jack began to follow him through the thick vegetation. She was less than trilled to see that her father and Blackbird were with them, but the presence of Juan made things a bit better.
“And here I was thinking that I’d joined this crew to sail,” Juan muttered under his breath. “How silly of me.”
Marie laughed slightly. “I have to admit, when I think of pirates, I generally don’t picture navigating the marshy undergrowth on a tropical island,” she replied as the thick mud sucked at her boots, hindering every step.
“Oh, come on you two,” Blackbird said, coming up behind them. “You’re the youngest people on this crew! I’m older than both of you combined, and I’m not having any trouble, so no complaining.”
“We weren’t complaining, Blackbird,” Marie argued. “We were simply discussing the unique nature of our situation. Blackbird simply shrugged and pressed ahead of them. Marie thought she caught a mischievous wink as her aunt passed by, but she couldn’t be sure.
They came to a sudden stop in a relatively dry clearing. “This looks about as good as anything we’ll get tonight,” Jack said, looking around. “Set up camp.”
Within minutes they had a lively fire going and Neely had a thin stew simmering in a pot over the blaze. The men sat around the fire, using logs and stray stones as seats. Soon they were singing and talking and laughing as if nothing was out of the ordinary and they were still in the galley of the Black Pearl. Several of the men pulled out pipes, and Marie was surprised to see Will produce one of his own. He had never openly smoked at home, but she quickly dismissed the thought and turned her attention to the fire. Will was a different man around his crewmates.
“So there I stood, surrounded by twenty or more o’ them bloody redcoats,” Clark was saying in a low voice. “Every one of ‘em armed with a sword, rifle, and plenty o’ munitions to spare. An’ their leader says t’me, ‘Give it up, scum. You’re surrounded.’” He paused, clearly enjoying the attention. Finally, he continued, “So I spat in his face, looked ‘im straight in th’ eye, an’ I says, ‘Ain’t no bloody way I’m goin’ with the likes of ye without a fight.’ Killed ‘em all, I did, then an’ there. They got what was comin’ to ‘em.” He grinned savagely and took a long draw out of his pipe, content to have gotten his share of fame.
“So…I’m sorry, I’m a bit unclear on the details here…” Blackbird said, frowning in confusion. “Was…was this before or after Will and I came looking for you, only to find you on your knees begging for mercy and swearing you’d lead a ‘respectable life’, if only they’d let you go?”
The men laughed loudly as Clark’s face grew a deep shade of red. “ ‘tweren’t beggin’,” he muttered crossly. “I was just settin’ ‘em up; tryin’ to catch ‘em off guard, ya see? I woulda killed every one of ‘em, had you two not come an’ interfered.”
“I’m sure you would have, mate,” Will said with a wink. Clark simply scowled and said nothing, suddenly fascinated by the bowl of stew in his hands.
“Want to get out of here?” Juan asked quietly as the rest of the men went back to singing.
Marie nodded gratefully and stood up. “I thought you’d never ask.”
Will frowned in concern as he watched Marie and Juan disappear noiselessly into the trees. He started to stand up, but was stopped by Blackbird grabbing his sleeve.
“Sit,” she said absently. “What’s the matter? Your little girl growing up too fast for you?”
“No,” he replied, a little more sharply than he’d intended to. “It’s just…it’s something…They’re not supposed to leave camp.”
“And you haven’t been known to break the rules from time to time?” Blackbird asked casually. “Leave them be, Will. Marie’s a good lass.”
“She’s still young and inexperienced. She thinks she’s invincible,” Will muttered, standing up again. “I’ll be back.”
“Don’t do anything stupid,” she called after him, but Will had already disappeared through the trees.
“Where are we going?” Marie asked when they were a safe distance away from the camp.
Juan just smiled and shook his head. “You’ll see,” he replied mysteriously. They had gone a bit further when he suddenly stopped and pushed aside a screen of branches, revealing a crystal pond fed by a small waterfall. The moonlight reflected up off the water and cast a silver glow over the scene.
Marie sat down on a smooth rock that overlooked the water. “It looks so peaceful.”
He nodded and joined her on the rock. “We’re finally alone,” he whispered, kissing her gently on the cheek.
“I know,” Marie sighed. “My father’s been watching me like a hawk all day. I don’t know why he won’t trust me.”
“At least yours acknowledges your existence,” Juan said quietly.
“Still having problems with Jack?”
“Not really…it’s just…it’s like I’m not even there in his eyes. Maybe it was a mistake to say anything at all.”
Marie rested her head lightly against his chest. “It’ll be alright in the end, Juan,” she said softly. The silence was broken by a twig snapping behind them. “What was that?”
“Nothing,” Juan said looking around. “We should probably head back to camp, though, before we’re missed.”
Marie nodded reluctantly and stood up. She didn’t say anything as they made their way back to camp, but she had a pretty good idea as to what had made the sound.
Marie was awake before anyone else the next morning. Dressing quickly, she stood up and went over to where her father was sleeping. “Will!” she whispered, nudging him with her foot.
He grunted an acknowledgement and turned in her general direction, but didn’t open his eyes. “I thought you outgrew that ‘wake Father up before the crack of dawn’ habit years ago,” he muttered sleepily. “What time is it?”
“Before the crack of dawn,” she replied dryly. “I need to have a word with you…alone.” Sighing, he pulled on his shirt and followed her a distance away from the camp.
“Now, what’s this all about?” Will asked, turning to face her.
“Why were you spying on us last night?” she asked bluntly. “Do you trust me so little?”
“I trust you, Marie,” her father said wearily. “It’s just everybody else I don’t trust.”
“For crying out loud, Father, I’m almost eighteen! Give me some room to make my own decisions!”
“You were under strict orders not to-”
“No,” she interrupted, holding up a hand. “Don’t even start to hide behind the rules. I’m tired of you trying to control every aspect of my life!”
“And what do you call all the freedom your mother and I give you at home?” Will argued. “It worries us sick, letting you roam the streets of Tortuga all day long, but we generally turn a blind eye.”
“Then why can’t you do that here? And while we’re bringing up rules, you were under strict orders from Jack to stay out of my business!”
“These men are not like the boys you run around with in Tortuga,” he said firmly. “I love most of them like brothers, but when it comes down to it, they’re scum! Dirty men with dirty minds that focus on one thing whenever they see you. Can’t you see that I’m protecting you?”
“I don’t want your protection!” Marie exclaimed. “Juan is a good man! He loves me, and I love him! Why can’t you see that? Most young women my age are getting married and starting families!”
“Not my daughter!”
“Yes, your daughter, Will! Whether you like it or not, I’m growing up! I’m not your little girl any more!”
“…You’ll always be my little girl,’ he said quietly, turning away so that she couldn’t see his face.
“You are impossible!” she shouted. “Impossible! Juan was lucky, not knowing Jack! At least he never had to put up with a father like you!” Without another word, she stormed off, angry tears still streaming down her face.
Sighing, Will sat down wearily on a fallen log and buried his head in his hands.. He didn’t know how long he’d been there when he felt Blackbird’s hand on his shoulder. She didn’t say anything for several minutes until he broke the silence.
“Were you this difficult as a teenager?” he muttered.
Blackbird shrugged. “Maybe. Probably worse, actually,” she admitted with a grin. “I don’t know…those years were such a blur…you’d have to ask Jack about that one. I’m sure he remembers all our arguments better than I do. What‘s going on with Marie?”
“She thinks she’s an adult now,” Will said quietly. “And she thinks she has the right to make adult decisions, and that I’m wrong to want to protect her. It’s just…I don’t want to see her hurt like you were at her age.”
“I made my mistakes,” Blackbird replied casually. “Marie will make hers. You’re gonna hate me for this, Will, but let her go. Let her make mistakes. It’s the only way she’ll learn.”
“You make it sound so easy…” he said through his hands.
Blackbird grinned. “I never said it was easy, mate. I just said you had to do it…We should probably be heading back. Jack said he wanted an early start today.”
Will nodded and stood up. “You go ahead. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Will took his time getting back. He felt better after giving himself time to calm down, but he still didn’t relish the thought of going back and facing Marie. Still deep in thought, he didn’t even see Blakey coming up until he’d been pushed aside roughly into a nearby tree trunk.
“Well, ‘scuse me, Turner,” the man said, grinning amiably. “Didn’t see ye walkin’ by down there.”
“What do you want, Blakey?” Will asked crossly.
“Can’t a man innocently bump into another?”
“Not when the man’s you,” Will shot back.
“So…how’re things with that lass o’ yours?”
“None of your business,” he muttered.
“She’s somethin’ fine, aye?” the man said casually,
“I won’t warn you again, mate: stay away from my daughter. Whatever enmity lies between you and me does not include her. I swear upon my life: if you ever touch her, I’ll kill you.”
Blakey threw his hands up in mock-surrender. “Hey, all yours. I was just statin’ my observation.” Scowling fiercely, Will just pushed past him and continued back toward camp.
The men trudged wearily through the heavy mist. Everyone was in low spirits to begin with, and the weather was doing nothing to help. Will had long given up on apologizing to Marie, his few attempts having been met by cold stares or simple refusal to acknowledge him. This put him in a foul mood, and he just stared ahead sullenly as they continued along.
When they had gone several miles further, Blackbird came up beside Jack wordlessly. “Something’s wrong,” she muttered without turning to face him.
He nodded slightly. “I feel it too.”
“Ever since we set foot on this island, I’ve gotten the feeling that someone -or something- is watching us,” she said. “I don’t know…it could be nothing-” She stopped suddenly. A fierce-looking man stood in the middle of their path. His clothes seemed primitive; in his hand a sharp spear glinted in the pale light…and it was pointed straight at Jack.
The man shouted something in a strange language, and the crew was instantly surrounded by fierce natives. “Whatever he just said, I don’t think it was too friendly,” Jack muttered to Blackbird as their weapons were removed. Some of the men resisted at first, but at a glance from Jack they yielded. Their captors led them wordlessly along the winding path, spears held ready at all times. Finally they came to a seemingly impassable tangle of vines. The group’s leader reached out to the side and pulled on a stray vine, revealing a mechanism that worked much like a curtain. The vines separated, opening up to a large clearing overshadowed by thick branches and countless layers of foliage. All of the buildings were at least ten feet in the air, built around the large tree trunks at the edge of the clearing and connected by narrow rope bridges. As they were led through numerous buildings, Blackbird took in their surroundings. The village was decorated as fiercely as its in habitants. Most of the rooms were lit dimly by torches and ornamented with a large variety of bones and skulls, some of which she uncomfortably noted were human.
They were taken into a large, relatively bare room with a large throne at the other end. In it sat a wizened old man wearing scarlet robes with various ornaments woven into his long gray hair. Their captor approached the throne and whispered something in his ear, then nodded and stepped back.
“I am Chief Maloni of the Wehutti,” the old man said in halting but fluent English. “You are British, yes?”
“Well, some of us may have-”
“Yes or no will do,” the chief interrupted.
Jack cleared his throat uncomfortably, which led to a fit of coughing. After almost a minute, he was able to choke out, “Yes, I suppose, but-”
“We are familiar with the British,” Maloni said slowly. “They came in large boats, bringing weapons and disease. They told us that they wished to ‘coexist in peace’, but still my people kept dying. We were once a great people that populated much of this island. Now we are but a few, concentrated in one central village.” He grinned fiercely, revealing a mouth full of golden teeth. “So we taught the British a lesson. Now it seems we shall have to teach it again.”
“No, no, you have it all wrong,” Jack said hastily. “We’re humble pirates, hated by most self-respected British folk, in fact. We were caught in a storm and suffered some damages to our ship. If we had known this island was at all populated, we would have continued on our way and tried our luck elsewhere.”
“You lie. If we let you go, you will just go to the British and tell them of our weakness. Then they will come again and wipe out my people. I will not take that risk.”
Jack almost groaned out loud in exasperation. “I assure you, we have very little interest in helping them. If they possessed this island, they would doubtless turn it into another naval port, which is the last thing we need right now. I swear to you upon pain of death, if you let us go, it will be as if we never found this island.”
“Perhaps you are honest, and perhaps you are not,” the old man said hesitantly. “We will hold council on this matter immediately, and tell you our verdict later. Until then, you are to be imprisoned and under guard.” Before Jack could say anything else, their captors stepped forward again and surrounded them, leading them out of the building.
The “prison” turned out to be no more than a two-roomed building with guards posted at the sole entrance. The men were allowed to wander about as they pleased, as long as no escape attempts were made.
“This is ridiculous,” Marie muttered as she and Juan sat against a wall. “They assume that just because we’re white, we intended to do them harm.”
“Yes, it is a truly despicable man that discriminates against someone for a background they cannot help having,” Juan said, staring evenly at Jack, who was half-listening to their conversation.
Jack turned around slowly and put a hand on Juan’s arm. “A word?” he asked mildly, leading him into the adjacent room. Several men had gathered in there, but at a challenging glare from Jack, they quickly left. Juan sat down apprehensively in one of the wooden chairs, but Jack remained standing and began pacing the small room. “Perhaps…perhaps I was a little harsh on you the other day,” he said hesitantly.
“All I wanted-”
“Let me finish,” Jack interrupted quietly. “First of all, I want you to understand this: I loved your mother very much. It never crossed my mind to leave her; not even for a second. Granted, I was just a little surprised by the news, but I was willing to even given up piracy, if it meant supporting you and your mother. I did run at first, but after I thought it through, I realized I was stupid and went to apologize. When I tried to find her, though, she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to say I was sorry.”
“Why did you even run in the first place? From what I hear told, Captain Jack Sparrow isn’t normally one to run away from his problems.”
“I was scared, Juan!” Jack exclaimed, gesticulating wildly. “I panicked! Yes, the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow panicked for once in his life! I didn’t know how to be a father! The one example I had was never there! And when he was there, he reminded me daily of how I had ruined his life, then ran off when I was ten! I was afraid I’d end up like him one day, and I panicked. I didn’t want your life to be like that.”
“So you prevented it by disappearing before I was born? That’s brilliant,” Juan said sarcastically.
Jack paused and grinned ruefully. “I see you inherited your mother’s wit,” he said quietly. “She was always up in my face about something stupid I’d done. Then she’d realize how wrong she was to get mad at me and we’d…make up…Guess that’s how we ended up with you, aye? Just be glad you got my looks. They’ll do you a world of good one day.” Juan made a face at the thought and then laughed slightly. “Ah, see, now we’re smiling!” Jack said. “Maybe you don’t hate me as much as you thought?”
Juan hesitated. “I still don’t like you, but maybe I don’t hate you quite so much.”
Will stuck his head in hesitantly. “Jack, Chief Maloni wishes to have a word with us immediately.” Jack nodded and rested his hand briefly on Juan’s shoulder before following Will out.
The old chief stood just outside the building, watching as Jack, Blackbird, and Will stepped out. They waited patiently for him to speak, but he continued to stare impassively at them. Finally, Jack ventured, “You…wanted to speak with us?”
“You do business in the presence of your women?” Maloni asked in confusion. Blackbird bristled at the question, but continued to stand there wordlessly.
Jack looked over at her and cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Ah, well…first of all, Blackbird’s not anyone’s woman…and secondly, she’s my second-in-command. Anything that can be said to me can be said in front of her.”
“You do have strange ways for an Englishman,” the old man said, shaking his head. “As for my business, we have discussed you case and determined that you are trustworthy, at least for the time being. You and your men will be released in the morning, but may the gods deal ever so harshly with the man that breaks your oath.”
Jack nodded and bowed respectfully. “I understand,” he said solemnly. “I…do not wish to impose, but…my men haven’t eaten since early this morning…”
Chief Maloni grinned. “Perhaps there is something we can do about that.”
“I’ve been talking with some of the elders and studying their old maps,” Jack said, sitting down next to Will on one of the logs that surrounded the large fire. “Now I at least have a rough idea as to where we are. We’re about three days West of Kelumar; we could reach Tortuga in about five days.”
Will nodded absently and stared into the fire. “That’s good news.”
“Everything alright, mate?” Jack asked, frowning in concern. “You seem distracted.”
“Something doesn‘t feel right…It’s probably nothing…I’ll be back later,” Will said, standing up to leave.
“Juan, have you seen Marie anywhere?” Will asked.
Juan looked up in surprise and shook his head. “I haven’t, sir,” he replied. “At least, not for a while.”
“Well when was the last time you saw her?”
“About…half an hour ago,” Juan said after thinking. “She said she was bored and wanted to go on a walk. I offered to accompany her, but she insisted that she wanted to be alone. She should be back by now.”
“Well she’s not,” Will said shortly. “Nobody’s seen her anywhere. Which was did she go?”
“She went that way,” Juan said, pointing off into the trees. “Let me come with you. I’m worried too.”
Will shook his head. “I’ll be fine on my own.” He started to head off in the direction Juan had pointed, but the young man stepped in front of him.
“What do you have against me, Will?” he asked. “What did I do?”
“It’s nothing personal,” Will said, looking away. “I generally don’t approve of my daughter becoming romantically involved with people I meet in jail.”
Juan looked offended. “Hey! To each his own. Anyway, I do believe you were in jail at the time yourself, and on far worse charges.”
“That’s different,” Will muttered. “I just don’t want to see her hurt.”
“Then I suggest we get going. Regardless of your personal opinion of me, a young woman that we both care for very much could be in danger. For now, I advise that we agree to disagree. Deal?”
Hesitantly, Will shook his hand. “Deal.”
Juan grinned and motioned for Will to follow. “Then come on. She went this way.”
Marie walked quietly through the dark jungle. It was nice to finally be alone and able to think without interruptions. As she wandered through the close darkness, she vaguely sensed a presence behind her. Quickening her pace, she thought she could hear footsteps other than her own. She grew anxious and sped up slightly more, turning her course back toward the village. The faster she went, the faster the other footsteps grew, until she was practically running in the direction of the distant lights.
Suddenly her arm was grabbed by a rough hand. She whipped around to see Blakey grinning at her. “’Ello there, poppet,” he sneered, pulling her so close that she could feel his rancid breath on her face. His clothing reeked of liquor, and he was swaying back and forth unsteadily. “Awfully dangerous, a young lass like yeself out in the middle o’ nowhere on a night dark as this. Never know what kinda lunatic lurks in the shadows…” Marie lashed out with her feet, loosening his grip enough for her to break free. She ran away desperately, but Blakey was in close pursuit. A sharp pain shot up her left leg as she twisted her ankle on an unseen root. She tried to continue to crawl, but his heavy boot pinned her sleeve to the ground. “Thought you could run away, didja?” Blakey said, drawing closer until he was almost on top of her. Marie struggled to unsheathe her knife with her free arm. Grinning, he casually grabbed her wrist and twisted it backwards until she was forced to drop the knife. “Yer a fighter, ain’tcha,” Blakey growled. “Good. I like ‘em that way.”
“Let me go!” Marie shouted, but her voice sounded weak even to her own ears.
“Oh, I’ll let ye go, luv. First, I’ll have my way with ye. Then, I’ll kill ye nice an’ slow, just for bein’ so much trouble. But after that, I’d be more’n happy to let ye go.”
“My father won’t let you get away with this!” she said desperately.
“Yer bloody father don’t need to know, now does ‘e? It’s a big jungle; bodies are hard to find. An’ even so, I can be back at the village ‘fore they ever know yer missin’.” He started to advance again, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
“I swore that if you ever laid a hand on my daughter, I’d kill you,” Will said, punching the man squarely in the jaw. “That is not an oath I take lightly.” As Blakey fell to the ground clutching his bleeding mouth, Will knelt over Marie. “Are you alright?” he asked in concern.
“I’m fine. I wrenched my ankle a bit, but I can walk,” she replied.
Growling, Blakey lunged suddenly at Will. “One o’ us is gonna die tonight, but it sure as ‘ell ain’t gonna be me!”
The two men struggled against each other, exchanging blows so furious that neither one could keep track of the other. Despite the obvious size difference, Will seemed to be holding his own. If Marie had thought he was fast against Blackbird, now he was practically untraceable. He ducked and weaved, never in the same place for more than a second, delivering fast but potentially lethal blows. He almost seemed to be winning when something metallic flashed in Blakey’s hand. Will staggered backwards, clutching his stomach in pain. His opponent started to draw closer, but suddenly a single shot rang out in the darkness. Moments later, the large man collapsed on the ground. Marie looked at Juan in surprise; in his hand was a smoking pistol.
With Juan’s help, she stood up and hurried over to Will. “Father!” she exclaimed, studying him in concern. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, love,” he lied, still holding his stomach. “Just a little scratch.”
Marie looked down at his blood-covered hands. “You don’t look ‘fine.’ And that’s not just a little scratch.”
“I’ll be alright, Marie. All that matters right now is that you’re safe. Can you walk?”
She nodded. “Well enough.”
“Then let’s get going,” Will said, starting to walk toward the village with some difficulty. “I want to get back before something worse happens.”
“Will, what happened?” Blackbird asked in concern as he walked by.
“It’s nothing,” he muttered, trying to push past her.
She stood in his path stubbornly. “You’re hurt, Will. What happened?”
“Blakey won’t be a problem any more,” he replied shortly. “Marie went for a walk, and he followed. I came just in time, and we fought. Then, Juan shot him.” The words came in short spurts, as he had difficulty breathing.
“Is she alright?” she asked. Will nodded wordlessly. “Are you alright?”
Will sighed and sat down on a bench. “I’ve been better, but I’ll be fine.”
“Your shirt is soaked with blood, Will. That’s not fine.”
“It’s just a scratch…”
Without his permission, Blackbird went over and opened up his shirt, revealing a deep knife wound on the right side of his stomach. “A scratch indeed,” she muttered dryly. “This looks serious. Please let me at least clean it for you.”
“I’ll be fine, Blackbird,” he said in annoyance. “I’ve had worse. Right now all I need is sleep. Good night.”
Everyone was woken up early the next morning by Jack. He wouldn’t tell them why he was so anxious to leave, but urged them to hurry. “It’s just a bad feeling,” he told Blackbird as they quickly made their way back to their camp. “Chief Maloni seems like a good man, but I don’t trust him.”
“Maybe he doesn’t trust you.”
“Well, most people don’t,” he pointed out. “And it may be nothing. I just want to get back to the Pearl. These storm clouds aren‘t helping any, either.” Most of the men had already made their way back to the ship with the supplies, and it had been left to him, Blackbird, and Will to make sure nothing was left behind. As soon as they were sure that there was no evidence of their camp remaining, they headed toward the beach. They hadn’t gone far before they found their path again blocked by a group of angry natives. “Ah…didn’t we already do this?” Jack asked, looking around nervously.
Chief Maloni stepped out from behind the warriors. “We did. It is regretful that we should have to do it again. You and your men left without our permission. Why?”
“No reason,” Jack said. “I miss my ship, mostly. Such a beauty-”
“Silence!” the old man said sharply. “You were not intended to leave at all. I suspect that you left because you guessed our intentions.”
“I might’ve,” Jack said evasively. “As much as I‘d love to stay and chat, I have a crew waiting for me, so if you’ll excuse us…” He attempted to move past them, only to be stopped by the old chief.
“You are a good man, Jack Sparrow,” Chief Maloni said. “And perhaps at another time we might have been allies. But regardless, my people are starving, and my duty to them comes first. You and your men are our prisoners and still at our mercy; I will not deny my people this chance.” The warriors raised their spears, their intentions becoming all too clear. Jack slowly backed up, turning around to find Blackbird and Will in the middle of what resembled a discussion.
“Well, this is a bit of a situation,” Will muttered.
“I’d say,” Blackbird replied quietly. “Any ideas?”
“We could always-”
“No, that won’t work. What about-”
“Potentially, but…not enough time. How about-”
“That could work,” Blackbird said. “Are you sure you’re-”
“I’m fine, Blackbird. It’s now or never.”
“I know. Let’s go then.”
Jack looked from one to the other and frowned in confusion. “I’m sure I just missed a brilliant debate, but might you enlighten me as to what we just decided?”
“No time,” Blackbird said shortly, drawing her sword. “Run!” They took off running with the natives close at their heels. “Just like old times, aye?” Blackbird called to Will as they dodged several arrows.
“Less talking, more running!” Jack interjected. “Do you even know where we’re going?”
“More or less,” she replied, making a sudden turn. “I did a little exploring of my own that first night. Couldn’t sleep.” As they fled through the dense jungle, rain began to fall heavily overhead. Will felt himself getting lightheaded, but did his best to ignore it. Finally, they broke through the trees and came to the beach, where the men were just loading up the last of the supplies onto a boat.
“Leave the supplies!” Jack shouted, gesticulating wildly. “Get back to the Pearl!” Confused but willing to obey, the crew waited for them to get in one of the boats and began rowing back to the ship as quickly as humanly possible.
As they climbed up onto the deck, Jack spotted the chief and his warriors standing on the beach. They showed no signs of pursuit, but also no signs of retreating. A fork of lightning split the sky, followed by an ominous clap of thunder. “We’ve no choice but to set sail!” he shouted to the crew. “Unfurl all sails, and prepare to clear port!”
“These are no conditions to be settin’ sail in, Cap’n!” one of the younger men protested. “A ship as old as this will never make it out of the bay!”
Jack met the man with a fierce glare. “Let’s get one thing straight: I’m the Captain, you’re not. I’ve been with this ship longer than you’ve been alive, lad, so I suggest you deal with it.” As the rest of the crew scurried to obey, Jack took his stand at the helm. The Black Pearl’s sails bent to the winds, straining against that masts that held them back. Slowly, the old ship began to ease her way out of the bay. No sooner had they gotten out than a strange current began pulling them back in. The Pearl creaked in protest as the winds and the current fought each other. Jack struggled to steer her, but the wheel refused to budge. Swearing under his breath, he pushed even harder against it. Come on, love, he thought, stroking the ship’s wheel comfortingly. You and I both know you’ve got some fight left in ye. Let ‘em see what you can do. As if response to his reassurance, the ship gave an enormous lurch and broke free of the current. That’s my girl…
Will’s side felt as though it were on fire as he helped to clear the deck of wreckage the next day. The lightheaded feeling hadn’t gone away, and was now accompanied by a pounding headache. As he climbed up with Blackbird to untangle a sail, his foot slipped on the rope and he almost fell.
“Will, are you alright?” Blackbird asked in concern, reaching out to steady him. “You look flushed.”
He waved her away dismissively. “I’m fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “I just lost my footing, that’s all. It happens.”
“Will…” she said in a warning tone.
“Blackbird…” he shot back. “I’m fine.”
Blackbird started to say something, but changed her mind and turned her attention back to freeing the heavy canvas. As soon as everything was in order again, they began to climb back down. Will shook his head in an attempt to clear his blurred vision. He couldn’t remember ever feeling as bad as he did then, but he was too stubborn to admit it. As he swung down from the rigging, he felt his legs collapse from under him. The last thing he remembered was hitting the deck.
Blackbird rested a hand on her brother’s sweat-beaded forehead. “He’s burning up…” she murmured, opening his shirt to examine the wound. “He wouldn’t let me treat this the night before last…now an infection’s set in.”
“Is there anything you can do for it?” Jack asked quietly.
Blackbird didn’t look up. “Marie, you can come in,” she said wearily, ignoring the question.
Marie stepped inside hesitantly. “Is my father going to be alright?” she asked after a moment.
Blackbird didn’t answer immediately. Her usually intense eyes were clouded with worry, and she looked older than Marie remembered her aunt ever looking. “Marie, I’m going to treat you like the young woman you are and give you an adult answer,” she finally said, drawing a deep breath. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“Just what I said,” Blackbird muttered dryly. “Two days ago, I could have cleaned this up and bandaged it, and all he’d have been left with was a nice scar to tell the boys stories about. Now…I’m not so sure. Were we in a slightly more populated area where I could get my hands on some medicine, I might give him a better chance.” Marie sank wearily into an empty chair in the corner.
As if sensing her thoughts, Jack quietly said, “It’s not your fault, luv. Blakey had it out for Will from the day they met. If anyone’s at fault, I am, as the captain. I generally turned a blind eye to their conflicts, figuring they’d sort things out eventually.”
“I’d say they did,” Blackbird said under her breath.
Jack frowned in concern. “Blackbird, are you saying there’s nothing you can do?”
“I’m saying I’m not a bloody doctor, Jack!” she exclaimed. “What little medicine I did learn, I learned on Kelumar.”
“Then we’re going to Kelumar,” Jack said in determination. “How long do you think he has?”
Blackbird shrugged and ran a weary hand through her hair. “I don’t know, Jack…Can I speak with you privately?” Jack nodded and followed her out into the hallway. “My guess is only a few days,” she said quietly, closing the door so that Marie couldn’t hear them. “I don’t know how the infection will spread, or how quickly…”
“If you had to guess?”
“Three to five days,” she said hesitantly. “In all honesty, I don’t think we can make it in time, Jack.”
“Nonsense,” Jack replied gruffly. “We’ve got the fastest ship in the Caribbean at our disposal. That’s got to count for something. Tell the men to set course for Kelumar.”
Marie sat on a low stool by the bunk that Will had been laid on. Holding his hand, she listened to his shallow breathing. “I’m so sorry…” she whispered, silent tears rolling down her face. “This is all my fault; I don’t care what Uncle Jack says…If I hadn’t insisted on going out on my own, you wouldn’t be hurt right now…I said some really stupid things the other day that I didn’t mean…I’ll always be your little girl, Daddy, and right now your little girl still needs you…so please hold on.” Please hold on…
Will slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he realized was that he had no idea where he was, and the second was that his side still hurt. He tried to sit up, but a gentle arm pushed him back down. Lifting his head slightly, he could see an old, wrinkled woman tenderly dressing his wound. He tried to sit up again, and was again pushed down. “Not healed yet,” the woman said without stopping her work. “You rest.” Relenting, Will laid his head back down and looked around. They were in a small hut with a curtain hung in the doorway.
“Where am I?” he asked, wincing slightly as pressure was applied to the wound. The old woman just gave him a toothless grin and didn’t answer.
“You will have to forgive Dorma; she doesn’t speak very much English,” a different voice said from the doorway. “You are on Kelumar.”
Will turned his head to see a tall, blonde woman standing there. After a few seconds, he realized that he recognized her. “Lalaith,” he said, recalling her name.
The woman smiled. “So you remember me,” she said lightly. “I am impressed.”
“I have a good memory- Wait…Kelumar?” he asked suddenly. “What-”
“Captain Jack and Raven brought you here after you passed out,” Lalaith explained. “You have been unconscious for almost a week. You’re lucky to be alive, Will. Another day, and you‘d have been beyond even Dorma‘s ability to heal.”
The old woman opened up a flask and poured some dark liquid down his throat. His eyes immediately teared up and his throat burned. “What’s in that?” he choked.
“You don’t want to know,” Lalaith replied cheerfully. “Just know that it’s helping you get better.”
“Your daughter is fine,” she interrupted. “The last time I checked, she and the rest of the crew were relaxing, which is exactly what you should be doing.”
“I’ve been ‘relaxing’ for the past week,” Will grumbled. “What I need is use of my legs and some fresh air.” But despite his complaining, he finally conceded and closed his eyes again.
Will passed the next two days passing in and out of sleep, until he was finally deemed well enough to walk around a bit. He pushed past the curtain and stepped out into the small garden in front of the hut. Squinting in the sunlight, he was surprised by how weak his legs felt.
“Honestly, Will, you’re not out two seconds and you already look drunk,” Blackbird teased as he stumbled on a small stone.
“You go without using your legs for over a week, and we’ll see how well you walk,” he shot back, making his way over to her. “How are you?”
She shrugged. “I’ve been better. Those sleepless nights really start to get to you after a while.”
“Well, I’m terribly sorry to have inconvenienced you so,” he muttered dryly, sitting down on one of the stone benches.
“You should be.” Her tone was serious, but Will could see the corners of her mouth starting to lift into a smile. In her own way, Blackbird had just told him how worried she’d been.
“Alright, you two, knock it off,” Jack said, coming up out of nowhere in his typical fashion. “Will ‘ere’s not supposed to be doing any ‘stressful’ activities, by order of the ever-so-capable Dorma.”
“Fine,” Blackbird said shortly, pretending to be disappointed. “Well, then, I suppose I shall have to settle for fighting with you. I need some way to pass the time.”
“No, I’ve had my fair share of discussion for the week, thank you,” Jack said hastily. “Just…go get drunk at the bar or something. I don’t know. Use your imagination.”
Will grinned. “I’m fine, Jack, really. I could use some stimulating conversation right now…What happened after I passed out?”
“Well…I had some of the men get you into one of the empty cabins and lay you on the bunk. Then Blackbird looked at the wound and confirmed that it was infected and beyond her ability to heal-”
“Because somebody was too stubborn to let me treat it immediately,” Blackbird interrupted pointedly.
“Yes, because somebody was too stubborn,” Jack said, clearly annoyed at the interruption. “Anyway, we decided that your best chance was on Kelumar, so here we are. We’re ready to leave as soon as you’re feeling better.”
Will groaned as a sudden realization struck him. “Jack…You didn’t go this far out of your way just for me, did you?”
“Of course not,” Jack said with a frown. “We needed some supplies, and I thought the men deserved a bit of a vacation. The weather here’s so nice…Of course we came here for you! Did you expect me to just sit there and watch one of my best friends die when there was something I could do about it? Just don’t tell the men I said that; I have a reputation to maintain, y’know. They think we’re just here for supplies.”
“You didn’t have to-”
“Yes I did,” Jack interrupted before he could finish. “I did, and let’s leave it at that.”
“Jack’s gettin’ soft…” Blackbird teased, nudging his arm.
“Shut up,” he muttered. “I’ll keep that in mind next time I make a life-or-death decision concerning you.”
Their bantering was interrupted as Dorma came out and began talking to Blackbird. Nodding, Blackbird translated. “She says it’s time for you to go back inside, mate. Apparently you’re still not well enough to be out too long. Time to rest.”
“Well, tell her that I don’t feel the least bit exhausted, and that I’m getting plenty of rest right here. I’ll be back in later.”
Blackbird started to tell her, but she didn’t need to. The old woman shuffled over to Will and frowned. “You come in now, stubborn boy,” she said, smacking the side of his head with her palm. “Not healed yet. You rest.” Before Will could respond, she grabbed his shirt sleeve with surprising strength and pulled him back toward the small hut.
“Apparently I have no choice,” Will said has he was led back inside. “I’ll see you two later.”
Having nothing better to do, Blackbird decided to head back to the crew’s quarters and catch some sleep herself. She had no sooner dozed off than she heard Marie sit down on the cot across from her and sigh heavily.
“Problems, Marie?” Blackbird asked without opening her eyes.
“It’s nothing,” Marie said dismissively.
Blackbird sighed and sat up, turning so that her legs went over the side of the cot. “That was an awful lot of nothing, then. Come on, you can tell me.”
“It’s just…I don’t understand men very well right now.”
“Welcome to my world, luv,” Blackbird said, laughing slightly. “What about men?”
“It’s really nothing, Blackbird,” Marie insisted.
“What, do you think I won’t be able to answer?” her aunt asked. “I may not be as ‘proper’ as your mother, but I’m still a woman. Try me.”
“Well…I don’t know…It’s just, Juan says he loves me, but…he seems hesitant to propose. I mean, he’s most done it a couple of times already since we got here, but something’s holding him back. It just doesn’t make sense to me. If he really wants to, why doesn‘t he?”
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe Juan’s scared? He doesn’t know how you’ll react, or what you’ll say. In his eyes, a rejection would lower his ‘value’, so to speak. Men are stubborn, Marie. It’s best you learn that now. Even the most respectable man will do anything to keep his pride intact. Your father, for example. The whole reason we’re even here is because he was too stubborn to let me treat the wound immediately. It was more important to look like the big, strong, man than to get the treatment he needed. They can’t help it.”
Marie frowned. “Why would Juan be scared of me saying no? I want nothing more than to be given a chance to say yes.”
“Then maybe you should let him know that.”
Blackbird just grinned and shook her head. “See, this is where we get into your mother’s area of expertise. I’ve been told that I’m somewhat inept in the art of coquetry. You’re a smart girl; you’ll figure something out.” With that, she closed her eyes and laid back down, leaving Marie to her thoughts.
The next day, Jack finally decided that they needed to be leaving. As the men loaded the last of the supplies onto the boats, he exchanged parting words with Chief Alagos. “I really can’t thank you enough,” he said solemnly. “For the supplies, for your hospitality…for helping Will. We’ll never be able to repay you.” He started to say more, but it was interrupted by a fit of coughing.
Chief Alagos rested a hand on Jack’s shoulder and frowned in concern. “It is your own health that you should be worried about, my friend,” he warned. “You’re not as young as you used to be.”
“Still younger than you, aren’t I?” Jack shot back. Lowering his voice, he added, “I’m fine, Alagos. It’s just a cough.” Without turning around, he began to back toward the waiting boats. “We are forever in the debt of you and your people, Chief Alagos,” he said. “May your island ever prosper, and your people remain safe. And may you live a long life, and may all you do be granted with-” He tripped on the side of the boat and fell backwards into it, banging his head on the low seat. “I’m alright!” he said loudly, holding up his hands. “I’m alright! I meant to do that! It was completely intentional!” Without another word, he motioned for the men to start rowing back to the Pearl. Laughing and shaking his head, Chief Alagos disappeared back into the thick foliage.
Blackbird looked over at Will as the worked to clean the Black Pearl’s railing.
“What?” he asked, seeing the look she was giving him.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” she replied offhandedly. “Just do me a favor: next time we decide to see how you’re doing, remind me to leave you in the jail cell.”
“You’re what started all this,” Blackbird explained. “If we had just gone straight home from Kingston, that storm never would have blown us off course, and we wouldn’t have had to deal with all this.”
“Oh, but that wouldn’t have been half as much fun!” he said. “Don’t tell me that age is finally starting affect your taste for adventure.”
“It most certainly is not!” she countered. “I’m no older than you!”
“Y’know, funny you should say that,” Will teased. “Because I seem to remember a certain Ms. Blackbird Turner vehemently insisting that two minutes was enough to make her older than me.” Cocking an eyebrow, Blackbird whipped her brother with the wet rag in her hand, only for him to retaliate by dumping the whole bucket of water over her head.
“That…” she said, spewing the dirty water and wiping her eyes “…was uncalled for.”
Will grinned mischievously. “You started it. How about a compromise?” he offered. “Forty-one years young.”
“And don’t you forget it,” Blackbird said haughtily, standing up and wringing out her shirt. Turning to leave, she added, “It was time for me to take a bath anyway.”
“Thanks, mate,” Will muttered as Neely handed him a mug of rum. Neely just grunted in reply and went on with his work. Taking his drink into the other room, Will sat down alone at a table. He had finished about half the mug when Juan suddenly sat down across from him.
“Can I help you…?” Will asked when the young man didn’t speak.
Juan took a deep breath and forced his hands to stop fidgeting. “Will, I…I need to talk to you about something…”
Will waited for the young man to continue, but he didn‘t. “Well, let’s have it,” he said impatiently.
“Juan has asked me to marry him,” Marie said, coming up behind Juan. “We’ve been talking about it, and I’ll be eighteen in six months. Even the most stringent of parents would agree that that’s old enough to make my own decisions.”
Smiling, Juan held Marie’s hand and looked over at Will. “Will…I know you do not think very highly of me, but know this: I love Marie more than anything in this world. I…would be honored if you would give me your daughter’s hand in marriage.” His own hands were trembling from nerves, and he looked at Will apprehensively.
When Will didn’t answer, Marie added, “Father, the only reason we ask is because we’d like to stay on good terms with you. We don’t need your money for the wedding, or to get us started. Juan was apprenticed to a blacksmith when he was younger, so he can get a job somewhere as a journeyman to support us. We’ve planned this all out so that we can be completely independent. So in the end, what you say doesn’t matter. Juan and I are getting married…with or without your permission.”
Will frowned and stood up. “Both of you, come with me. We’ll see what Jack has to say about this.”
Will strode into Jack’s cabin without knocking, Marie and Juan following close behind. “Come in,” Jack said sarcastically, looking up from the papers he was studying. “How may I be of service?”
“Jack, do you know what your son and my daughter are planning to do?” Will asked.
“Isn’t it outrageous?”
Jack frowned in confusion before catching on. “Ah, yes, completely ridiculous!”
“I mean, they seem to think that just by getting married, they can become completely independent,” Will said, gesticulating wildly. “They obviously have no sense of the value of money.”
“Apparently you two don’t understand the financial implications of having a wedding. You have to have a location…”
“And rum,” Jack cut in.
“…A certificate of marriage…”
“…A house to move into…”
“And rum!” Jack insisted.
“…And rum,” Will conceded with a slight grin. “My point is, the number of loans you would have to apply for just to cover the first month of marriage alone would ensure that you weren’t independent for quite some time. Now, Jack and I are both fairly successful individuals. Were we both to chip in a bit-”
“ ‘ey!” Jack interrupted. “I never volunteered any of my money.”
“Well, I just did it for you,” Will said shortly. “Anyway, were we both to chip in a bit, I’m sure that you could find a decent house somewhere in Tortuga, close to the blacksmith shop. You see, ever since Ghost got married and moved away to start his own business, I’ve been falling behind in my work. I don’t have time to train an apprentice, but I could really use a journeyman that has some experience in the field. Juan, do you know anyone like that?”
Juan look at Will in confusion. “Wait…are you saying…we have your permission?”
“I’m saying…maybe I owe you an apology, Juan,” Will said heavily. “I will admit, I didn’t trust you at all when I first met you. But understand, my judgment was strictly professional. My experience with pirates has taught me to trust no one and suspect everyone. I was wrong to draw such hasty conclusions. You’re a good man, Juan…and I can think of no one that I would trust more with my daughter.”
Her eyes wide with surprise, Marie hugged her father. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Will winced as pressure was applied to the gash in his side. “Easy, love,” he muttered. “We still have to talk to your mother about this. I have a feeling she’ll be harder to convince.”
“Nonetheless, this is reason to celebrate!” Jack said, pulling a bottle of wine and three glasses out of his cabinets. He handed them each a glass of wine and kept the bottle for himself. Raising the bottle, he clinked it with their glasses. “A toast, to the newly engaged couple!” he said, taking a big gulp out of the bottle. He was still drinking when they walked out of the cabin.
6 months later…
“You sure you’re fine with this, love?” Will whispered, squeezing his wife’s hand.
Elizabeth laughed quietly and dabbed at her eyes. “I’m fine, Will,” she assured him. “Juan is a good man, and I can tell he loves Marie very much. Some things are just meant to be.” Smiling, Will looked around the small room. The gathering barely resembled a wedding, considering that half its attendees were wanted criminals. Jack had at least cleaned up his appearance a bit by changing clothes and pulling his hair back to conceal the braids and ornaments, but Blackbird had been far more difficult. In the end, they had gotten her to brush her hair and wear clean shirt, and Will suspected that they would get nothing more. When informed of the engagement, Governor Swann had insisted that the young couple be married in a “respectable” location and volunteered his own parlor. The attendance was limited to family in order to retain secrecy, though they had had some difficulty finding a clergyman that could be bribed.
“…And do you, Marie Turner,” the elderly man was saying, “take Juan Palacios to be your lawfully wedded husband, for as long as you both shall live?”
“Then, by the power vested in me, I hereby pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the-” Before he could finish speaking, Marie and Juan were in each other’s arms, kissing passionately. “-bride.” As he looked at the smiling young couple, Will’s concerns disappeared. He had made the right decision.
Jack grinned widely. “Well, Gov’ner,” he said amiably, putting an arm around Governor Swann‘s shoulder. “It took me an extra generation, but I got meself related to ye.”
The governor pulled away in disgust. “We are not related, Sparrow,” he muttered.
“Of course we are!” Jack insisted. “Now, if my son married your granddaughter, that would make me…what? A son-in-law once removed or something?”
Governor Swann sighed disapprovingly and went over to congratulate the couple. “I’m happy for you, my dear,” he said, hugging Marie briefly. “Your husband is a fine man, who hopefully does not take after his father in any way.”
“I heard that!” Jack interrupted.
Marie laughed and turned back to her grandfather. “Thank you, Grandfather, for the use of your parlor.”
“A trifle, my dear,” he replied, waving his hand dismissively. “It does my heart good to know that all sense of propriety hasn’t left this family. At least someone understands the importance of settling down and living a respectable life.”
Juan cleared his throat and laughed uneasily. “Yes, well…thank you, sir,” he said awkwardly.
Governor Swann started to say something else, but was interrupted by a servant opening the parlor doors. “Milord, Commodore James Norrington requests your audience concerning a matter he would not expound upon. Shall I admit him?”
“Ah…tell him that I am with guests of great import and shall speak with him first thing tomorrow.”
The servant bowed and left the room, only to return moments later. “Sir, he insists that it is a matter of utmost urgency, and that he must speak with you immediately.” Before he had finished, the commodore himself strode in the doors. Will stiffened, but remained where he was.
“My apologies for entering without admittance, Governor, but I felt it my duty to inform you of a piece of intelligence we just received. Apparently four wanted criminals have gathered here in Port Royal for some sort of family gathering. We have received information concerning their whereabouts, and my men are preparing for pursuit as we speak.” His dark eyes fell on Will. “Were I to encounter them, I might advise that they leave as soon as possible and hope that we don’t catch up. I would also inform them that should we find them, we will arrest them without hesitation, which would be regrettable. I hope for their sakes that they are wise enough to escape in the five minutes before my men get here.”
Governor Swann nodded. “I appreciate your dedication, Commodore Norrington. Thank you for informing me. I trust you can find your own way out?”
“Yes, sir,” Norrington said, bowing shortly and turning to leave. “Oh, and the best of luck to the newlywed couple.”
As soon as the commodore was gone, Will stood up. “Governor, I’m afraid our visit will have to be cut short.”
“I understand,” Governor Swann said wearily. “Such is the life you lead when you choose to engage in piracy. Had I known when I gave you my daughter-”
“Father,” Elizabeth interrupted sharply. “We must be going…William, Lil’ Jack, we’re leaving,” she said, motioning for the boys to get up. “Father, thank you for your hospitality.”
Will turned to his wife. “Elizabeth, you and the twins get back to the Pearl by the quickest route you know. We’ll go a less direct way to throw the soldiers off and meet you-”
“I don’t think so, Will,” she replied with a weary smile. “I learned my lesson last time. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”
Blackbird sighed. “We won’t have to worry about any of that if you two don’t hurry up!” she said impatiently. “In case you didn’t notice, we have a lot of ground to cover in five minutes. Not that I’d object to a bit of practice myself, but I doubt Elizabeth shares my sentiments. Now let’s go!”
Will just shook his head. “We’re coming, Blackbird…” Bowing quickly, he added, “Thank you, Governor Swann. I assure you I shall take care of your daughter. I’ve done it for twenty years now. Goodbye, sir.”
Marie sighed as she leaned against the Black Pearl‘s railing. “What was that for, love?” Juan asked, resting his chin lightly on her head.
“Oh, nothing,” she said quietly. “I’m just not accustomed to being a passenger on a ship. I think I much prefer working.”
“That makes two of us,” he agreed, kissing her briefly. “Of course, I can think of ways to pass the time…” They started to kiss again, but were interrupted.
“Eww!” Lil’ Jack shouted, making a face.
“Marie, that’s gross!” William chimed in.
Marie started to say something, but Juan just grinned. “Oh, you mean you gentlemen don’t like it when we do this?” he asked, planting a kiss squarely on Marie’s lips. The twins both made gagging noises.
“Want to know something scary?” Marie added mischievously. “One day, you’ll actually like doing it.”
“And so the sage advice is passed on from sibling to sibling: ‘One day you’ll like kissing’,” Will said dryly, placing a hand on each twin’s shoulder. “You two run along and stop pestering your sister and Juan. Why don’t you go see if Neely will give you some hardtack from the galley?” As the boys ran off excitedly, he turned to face Marie and Juan. “And how are the newlyweds today?”
“Very well, thank you, sir,” Juan said with a grin. “I never really got a chance to thank you, Will. You can’t imagine how much this means to me.”
Will laughed slightly. “I think I’ve got a pretty good idea,” he said, glancing at Elizabeth across the deck. “Some things are just meant to be.”
I do not know it this book shall ever find its way into the hands of another, but if it does, let this be said:
The tales accounted here are but a small sampling of the many adventures I experienced while sailing under the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. Were I to recount all of them, it would be years before I finished. However, I feel it my duty to you, the reader, to briefly account the past year and a half. Marie and Juan have been married for more than a year. Three months ago, Marie gave birth to their firstborn son, and Jack was able to hold his grandson and namesake. As to our own business, though, the future is looking grim. Piracy is becoming less and less common, and I daresay we will soon be extinct. However, know this: we will not go down without a fight. As long as Jack’s memory fuels us, Captain Turner and the Black Pearl crew will press on!
~Captain Blackbird Turner
Before this book is closed, there is one more tale to be told…
The Death of a Pirate
Another victory in battle. It was a close win, but we did it. I turn to smile cockily at Jack, only to see him double over in a fit of coughing. His hands are covered in blood that I know doesn’t come from a wound. Will and I help him to his cabin, where he lies down on his bed. As Will goes to fetch a glass of water for Jack, I sit alone by his bed. Clasping my hand weakly, Jack mutters the words that will forever echo in my mind:
“Blackbird, I’m dying.”
“No,” I whisper, shaking my head. “This is just another little coughing spell. You’ll get through it like all the others.”
He looks up at me, and something in his eyes tells me I’m wrong. “Go to my desk…second drawer on the left.”
I open it and pull out a dusty stack of papers. “The ship’s articles…” I say quietly, then realization strikes me. “Jack…”
“Love, I need you to find where it names the captain…cross out ‘Jack Sparrow’…and put ‘Raven Turner’.”
“Jack…” I plead again, biting my lip to keep it from trembling. “Don’t make me do this…You’ll be fine.”
“I think I, of all people, would be the authority on that,” he says wryly, struggling for breath between each word.
“B-but you’re Captain Jack Sparrow!” I stammer. “You’ll die in the heat of a battle, not from a little cough!”
This time, Jack doesn’t argue; he just sighs and leans back against the pillows. “The Pearl needs a captain, Raven,” he mutters, pressing his ring into my hand.. “One that can love her like I have…Promise me you’ll take care of her.” I nod, tears now freely streaming down my face. “Promise me.”
“I promise,” I whisper weakly.
Turning around, I see Will standing in the doorway. “I’ll hold her to her word,” he says, coming over and sitting down on the other side of Jack.
Jack grins as he sees Will. “Will…listen…” he mutters. “Watch after your sister for me, lad…Make sure she doesn‘t get herself killed.” Will nods solemnly without speaking. He’s doing better than me, but I can see the tears filling his eyes. “And Will…nice hat.” There, with his hand in mine and a slight smile on his lips, the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow passes away.
Jack’s funeral is simple; just a few words said by close friends before his body is slipped into the waiting sea. It’s just the way he would have wanted it.
I stand by myself on deck, staring out at the open sea through a flood of unshed tears. I’ve never felt so alone…The man who was a second father to me is gone, my only memory the ship that he left me. Pulling Jack’s ring out of my pocket, I clasp it in my fist. If I put it on, I’m accepting my duty as Captain. As I stand there with my eyes closed, I can feel Jack’s presence in the ship. The creaking of the wood and the wind in the sails echo the same simple message: Press on…
I sense Will’s comforting hand on my shoulder as he joins me at the helm. After several minutes of silence, he mutters, “The crew awaits your orders, Captain.” Taking a deep breath, I open my eyes and muster a weak smile. Hesitantly, I slip Jack’s ring onto my finger and take my place behind the wheel. As I grip the smooth wood, I again feel Jack’s life coursing through the ship. I will press on, I vow silently. I have to…for Jack. I will press on.
My eyes fixed on the endless horizon, I hum a familiar tune. “…And really bad eggs…” I mutter.
“Drink up, me hearties, yoho!”