Title: "Here There Be Monsters"
Rating/Classification: AC, J/E/W, B/A, angst, character death.
Disclaimer: Nope. Disney owns my soul. And my soup.
Summary: Eighth and last main story in the "...And a Bottle of Rum" series. Captain Jack Sparrow does not have the decency to be elsewhere. Or anything but that which he is.
His mother died when he was eighteen. She was thirty-six and still the
loveliest woman in the world. She looked peaceful in death...like a doll, dressed from head to toe in lace. Like she had simply gone to sleep...and never woken up from the dream. They had an informal service on a small, unnamed island and buried her twenty feet from a rumrunners' hole whose door was too rusted, too solid, to open.
Papa had wanted her committed to the sea. Like any other sailor who had earned their hard-won stripes, spent the best years of their life aboard
ship...and the crew had agreed. Only Jack Sparrow had offered a simple, quiet, "no." And then the latitude and longitude for that desolate stretch of beach. "Lizzie always wanted to go back home," he reminded as they lashed driftwood together to make a marker. A simple cross with her name carved into it. Elizabeth Swann Turner.
"This wasn't home," he'd wanted to remind...but something had stayed his tongue.
Something that burned bright in the eyes that were so like his own.
They knew where home had been. They knew full well.
And they both knew Jack had never been able to give it to her.
After the stumbled, tear-soaked, prayers and the back-breaking digging,
the stalwart crew of the Black Pearl scattered like so much rice to the four winds. Papa...Will...returned to Port Royale to tell his grandfather the news. He stayed on, with Ana and Mr. Gibbs...picking up fresh blood from Tortuga after the others drifted away.
Elizabeth had been the heart of them. Beating for them. Keeping them
Keeping *him*, the Captain, alive.
Jack Sparrow did not "return", did not stay", did not "drift." He disappeared.
Billy didn't look for him.
There was no point in searching for someone all ready long lost.
Isla de Muerta has not crumbled into the sea.
He's right disappointed, actually. He's hoped that nigh on twenty years
were enough to destroy it. To wash it away and carry its poison treasure trove to the depths of Davy Jones's Locker. But no, it's there.
So, he rows ashore.
There were rumors, of course. Stories whispered over ale and behind every hymnal in every church between Barbados and St. Augustine. Some spoke of an old, drunken, pirate challenging every boy with whiskers on his chin to sword duels. Still others said he only appeared at night.. and you could count the bleached-white bones showing through his clothes as he staggered along the beaches asking for rum.
In a tavern on Tortuga, he heard a barmaid warn her little brat that if
he didn't go to bed, Captain Jack Sparrow would come and drink all his blood, use his eyes for marbles... and he'd never hit a woman in his life but he drew back a hand and left bruises on her cheek that she would remember for all time. He knelt down and grabbed the boy by the shoulders... couldn't have been more than ten...and told him, "Nay...nay, Jack Sparrow won't drink your blood."
He'd simply break your heart.
All the gold is there. He expects that. He deserves that.
He wonders if, perhaps, there *was* a monkey out there that had once
perched at the window and scared Elizabeth out of her pretty head.
It doesn't hurt to think of her. But, then again, it never did.
Nor to reach towards the open chest.
As always, when they returned to a familiar island, they ran up the
white sails. It had been a long time since the Pearl had done violence to a settlement...really just played slap and tickle with other pirates and the occasional royal navy ship...but he knew to be careful nonetheless.
The crew, full of young blood...whelps who were barely out of their
leading strings... were glad to set eyes upon the beauty and serenity of Port Royale. Even Mr. Gibbs, whose joints creaked with the rhythm of his years, felt the call for a holiday.
His mother had been dead two months. Papa had not yet returned to the ship. He told himself that was all it was...a trip to pick up Will Turner. Not to see, again, where Mum had grown up. Not to see, again, what she had left behind as she set upon the grand adventure that would kill her, slowly, by inches.
Anamaria slipped her arms around him from behind...as always, her feet
were far more silent than her acid tongue. "What is is, Billy? What's troublin' you, Lad?"
"Nothing," he assured, softly, in that perfect schoolroom English that
he'd been so painstakingly taught in the confines of the cabin where he now made their bed. "Just want the wind at my back and the horizon in front of me. It always makes me a little sad to drop anchor," he reminded.
"That's the pirate's way," she agreed, lips against his throat. "Salt air and starboard and 'swab the deck, Matey'." He leaned back in her warm embrace, like he always could when he was weary or sick or scared. "Your mother...she loved it, you know." As he stiffened, she slipped her hands into the open folds of his shirt. "The pirate's life... she did love it. She chose it."
Ana and his mother had never had kind words for one another. A lot of
"you cow" and "you skinny wench" and things had not improved when he and Anamaria became lovers. But being the only two women on a buccaneer crew had forged bonds...fondness nonetheless. Perhaps even a grudging respect. And understanding...
"She loved him." The whisper feathered across his neck like the breeze
and her fingers drew circles on his skin. "She loved your father very much."
"W-will? Y-yes, I know." He swallowed the thickness on his tongue and
stared out at the dock. The buildings beyond. The battlements of the old stone fort.
"Not Will," she said, in that way that meant he was being an idiot. "Your *father*," she said, harshly, even as her touch gentled the blow. "She loved Jack Sparrow with all her heart, Billy."
"He's *not* my father." He flinched, turning in her arms and taking her
face in his hands. Wanting to squeeze. To bruise like he had that wench in Tortuga.
But she batted his hands away before he could give in to that impulse, her coal-dark eyes searing him to the bone like he was fourteen again. "She chose him. In the end, she chose him. Above all. She took what she wanted...the price be damned."
"The pirate's life?" he countered, bitterly against her mouth.
He kept Port Royale at his back as he pushed her towards the cabin...
"Aye, Lad," she soothed as he wept and tore and took. Plundered, pillaged, but never raped. "Aye, Love... the pirate's life."
The East India Company branded him a pirate when he was barely twelve. A spry young lad dancing along the docks with the Goanese fishermen...learning how to move with the tides, with the ebb and flow of the nets that his mother sewed by the light of the candles she kept burning for a man who would never return.
"He'll come back for us," she'd tell him, in her broken mix of Portuguese and Hindustani as she counted on her rosary. "He'll find a ship and come for us. We'll be a proper English family."
In the end, all the man left them was his name. Sparrow. And the pale
cast to his son's skin that marked him far from Indian...and not nearly British. Simply something *other*. So the 'P' burned onto his wrist for the stolen boats, the missing cache of spices, was a lesson. A warning.
One he embraced.
One he fully realized the first time he saw the Black Pearl.
He was twenty...had fled from Singapore with pox from a whore, a fresh
tattoo, and lash-marks on his back that were still bleeding when he hopped a merchant ship to Spain. And there she was...a jewel from the sea. Sleek and smooth. He didn't need his mythical father's ship ...no...he'd found his own.
By then, his mother was dead. Killed in the rains, the floods. And he could not come for her.
So, he took the Pearl with a jaunty "adios" to the very unhappy *capitan* of the armada and sailed towards the horizon.
Of course, he killed a few men in the act of theft. He was young. Stupid. And it tends to happen in piracy. Occupational hazard and all.
But it was worth it. It was always worth it.
There was nothing worth more...
Not until... not until...
No. There is nothing worth more than the Pearl.
And his prison.
Now, he finally has a chance to escape.
To trade one curse...for another.
Isla de Muerta had not crumbled into the sea.
And Captain Jack Sparrow had not had the decency to be elsewhere.
"Found me at last, did you? Industrious child. Can't you let the undead
"Ana remembered the way," Billy said, tightly, as he made his way around the rocks and deeper into the cave. "We were here before I knew it."
"You hate me, don't you, Boy? You hate me but you're just like me," he
assured, walking the gleaming Aztec gold across his knuckles. Sleight of hand. The coin disappeared and reappeared under his fingers...flew from one hand to the other. Jack Sparrow's bag of tricks. "The sea sings in your ear like a siren... the horizon grabs you by the balls and pulls you closer..."
"I'm *nothing* like you!" he cried, even as the words skittered across his
skin like a tempting wench's touch.
"Ain't you?" A shadow of that old, mad, smile. "You know where we buried her...?" At his wince, Jack simply nodded, satisfied, and continued. "That's where we made you. Her and me. On that little bit of beach. Before she even so much as kissed Will Turner, savvy?" He laughed, softly, closing his eyes. The moonlight splintering through the holes in the ceiling dotted the skin of his eyelids with rot. "I think somewhere deep inside, he knew. That's why he brought her to me after they said their 'I vows' and 'I troth's. Couldn't let me be all by my onesies, no...he had to bring her back to me." He laughed again, louder, and the coin reappeared in one skeletal hand. "She wouldn't drink rum, you know...said she hated it..."
"She wouldn't drink it because it made her weak to you," Billy heard
himself accuse, a hand tightening around the handle of his pistol.
"Yeah. Exactly that." The smile was ghastly now. All teeth and bone and gold caps. "Spiritually... acumenically... grammatically... weak for me. For Captain Jack Sparrow. Eighteen years and the only time she ever said she loved me was when I poured rum down her gullet...'course I stopped her from saying the words. Never let her finish. Couldn't have that, savvy?"
He stepped around mounds of glittering gold, still untouched and pristine. "And why not? That was all she wanted, wasn't it? To love you?" He felt just as hollow, as ugly, as the man before him. "But you couldn't let her. And you played games. With her...with my fath--with Will." He shivered.
"You had it right the first time. Will was your father, your papa...not
me," Jack Sparrow whispered, finally rising from his crouch...moving slowly, like a macabre puppet on strings...as if he wasn't used to motion. "And oh...oh, the games we did play." As he stepped into shadow, his gray-streaked mustache quirked with the turn of his lip. He tilted his head, danced and spun. "He never minded when I called him her name, savvy? Just did up his cuts and bruises and came whenever I wanted. And her...she never...she never turned me away. 'Twas me who had to shove." He stopped twirling, fixing Billy with a wild, angry, stare. "They were willing, don't you see? It was me...me that was trapped."
"Liar." Fighting one of the men who had taught you to fight was unwise. But Billy saw no other option. Not with the red haze of anger that dropped over his eyes and the power that launched him towards the half-man, half-ghost, creature that was looking *through* him. "Coward," he hissed as he knocked Jack to the ground with one well-placed punch to the bony cavity of his stomach.
And Jack wheezed from the pile of doubloons he'd landed on. "Right-o...right again," he agreed. "A liar, a coward. Pirate," he added an afterthought. "You've got a good fist, Billy Boy. She'd be proud. Standing up for her honor and all."
"Someone has to. You have none," he hissed. "You're worthless. You're
nothing. Savvy?" he mocked, cocking his pistol. "And you deserve to be cursed. To live without feeling." The coin danced along his knuckles just as easily as it had across his father's. "Just like the existence you condemned my mother to." He had his own bag of tricks. His own magic.
"'S right. Can't argue." Jack Sparrow rose, slowly, and turned his back. The moon bared the bones through his threadbare shirt. "So leave me. Get back on the Pearl with your beautiful harpy and see the world. It's your legacy," he murmured, with an unsteady chuckle and the off-key hum of some haunting tune.
He needed no further encouragement. His grip loosening on his pistol, he
shoved it into the waist of his breeches and turned away. Yes. The Black Pearl. Anamaria. His constants. His life. His heart. The only two things he had ever been able to truly count on.
As the sea called him back...back to freedom...the humming became a
song. "Yo ho...yo ho..." Lyrical. Lunatic. "A pirate's life for me..."
And then a whisper.
"I did love her, you know. As much as I was able." That jagged laugh. Cutting deep.
He paused just long enough to cut his palm on the tip of his cutlass. To
flick the rough-edged Aztec coin back into its chest full of damnation. "It wasn't enough. It was never enough."
He paused just long enough to leave behind the pistol. With a single shot.
He was Captain Billy Sparrow.
His father died when he was eighteen.
July 16, 2003.