Disclaimer: see chapter 1
"Make for Jamaica, Mr Turner!" said Jack, as they glided out of the harbour. "Trim the foresail, Mr Ragetti!"
The orders were echoed across the deck. The Black Pearl was on her way.
Aboard the ship, there was a frisson of excitement and anticipation. Somewhat to Jack's surprise, the arrival of twenty new crew members (and Barbossa's pet monkey) had been greeted with equanimity by the existing pirates. In the two days preparing to sail, there were no fights and few arguments. Bootstrap and Barbossa remembered each other and seemed to be getting along. Everything was, Jack thought, wonderful.
He watched Tortuga slipping astern. The sails were set now, and Bootstrap was holding the Pearl steady on her course. As the crew settled to their cleaning and mending tasks, Jack pulled off his boots and coat and laid them aside before grasping a shroud and swinging himself up into the rigging. Toes grasping the rope with practised ease, he climbed up to the top of the mainmast, where he dismissed the lookout and settled down comfortably, humming a shanty to himself.
Six days later they were well past the coast of Jamaica and were beating their way steadily in a south-westerly direction. Jack was at the helm, occasionally glancing at his peculiar compass, guiding his beloved ship with a firm hand. He had been there for a watch and a half already, with his men bringing him food and drink at intervals.
Bootstrap Bill came up the steps to the quarterdeck, and watched his captain silently for a few minutes.
"Got a problem, Mr Turner?" Jack said, eventually.
"You cannot steer this vessel all the way to the island," Bill returned. "How far is it yet?"
"Two, mebbe three days, with this wind," Jack said. "Can't be sure, can I, having never been there myself."
"Let me take the helm, cap'n," Bootstrap suggested. "Finish this watch."
"No thanks," said Jack. "I'm fine. The old lady's in good hands."
Bill came a little closer, and lowered his voice. "Jack, please. Give me the bearing, let me have the helm."
Fingers caressing the wheel, Jack shook his head. "I'm wide awake, Bill. I'll stay wide awake. Go an' ..." he waved a hand, "go and play cards, or something."
"Jack," Bill tried.
"That's an order, Mr Turner," Jack said, and Bill sighed and went away.
Night fell. They were in open waters, and there were no other ships in sight. A lantern swung on either side of the Black Pearl, throwing a small pool of illumination into the darkness. Jack stood at the helm, legs braced, hands resting on the wheel, willing the vessel onwards.
At eight bells, the watches changed. The crew who had been on board went below, and men came up on deck, yawning and pulling on warm clothes. As he disappeared to get some sleep, Bootstrap threw Jack a look, but said nothing.
Barbossa crossed to the helm, his monkey chattering on his shoulder.
"Keep that little blighter away from me," Jack said, not taking his eyes away from the set of the sails.
Reaching his hand up, Barbossa stroked the monkey's back. "Still haven't given him a name."
"Don't much care if you never do," said Jack.
"Shall I be taking the helm now, captain?" Barbossa asked, swiftly changing the subject. "You must be tired."
"Not at all," Jack answered, smoothly. In fact he was starting to feel a little weary, but the adrenalin coursing through his veins was enough to keep him alert for a good while yet.
Barbossa, unlike Bootstrap Bill, did not press the point, but went off forward to speak to one of the other men, leaving Jack alone at the helm.
Throughout that night, Jack steered the Black Pearl towards the Isla de Muerte. The watch changed another time, and Bill Turner came to the helm, saw that his captain was not giving up control of his ship in the near future, and went away. At dawn, the sun rose, sending golden red rays across the horizon before the Pearl's bow. The wind held steady, in the right direction, and the water foamed beneath the keel.
Jack was tired, now, and he was beginning to wonder if he should divulge the island's location to one or both of his mates. He had hoped to take the Black Pearl all the way to their destination, keeping the bearings to himself, but as he stood yawning in the morning sun he was beginning to be less than sure that he would be able to concentrate for that length of time. Lashing the wheel steady for a few moments, when nature called, was one thing; but the ship needed another man's hand on her if Jack was to get some sleep.
He accepted some food and a cup of strong black coffee from the ship's Dutch cook, Pieter, and ate at the helm, considering options. On the foredeck, some of the men were gathering, and briefly Jack wondered what they were doing. They were mostly the men who had come with Barbossa - one-eyed Ragetti, his constant companion Pintel, straggle-haired Twigg.
Barbossa appeared on deck, putting on his enormous, flamboyant hat, and glanced over at the foredeck. Jack took out his compass, checked their course, and put it away again.
A few minutes later, Bootstrap Bill and Barbossa came up to the helm together. Bill was looking tired and a little stressed, his handsome face drawn. In contrast, Barbossa seemed particularly cheerful.
"Morning, gentlemen," Jack greeted them.
"Jack, you have to give us the bearings," Bootstrap said, without preamble.
"That's Captain Sparrow, Mr Turner," Jack reminded his old friend.
Bill shook his head. "Not now, Jack. C'mon ... I remember the day you came aboard this ship, a scrawny little nipper. I'm not asking as your mate, here, I'm asking as a friend. Tellin' you. Give us the bearings."
"I remember as well as you the day I boarded the Pearl," Jack said. "But I can't quite see, Bill, what that has to do with the bearings for the Isla de Muerte. Apparently you seem to think I can't take us there."
"It ain't that," Bootstrap said.
"I reckon it's time our good captain had the facts of things explained to him," Barbossa cut in. Bill Turner threw Jack a helpless look, an expression Jack could not remember seeing on his old friend's face before.
Barbossa folded his arms. "'Tis like this, Captain Sparrow. You'll give me the bearings for the Isla de Muerte, or my men will draw their blades on yours. You told me equal shares - I figure that means equal shares on the location of this island, too."
"Equal shares of the treasure, mate," said Jack, taking a hand off the helm to make his point. "Of the treasure."
"But to get the treasure, we need to get to the island," Barbossa said. "The men all agree. We'll not follow a captain who won't share that information."
Jack looked from one to the other, and deliberately took his hands off the helm. Without his restraining hold, the ship shuddered a little, and lost some of her wind.
The pirates were gathering now on the main deck, watching the events unfold. They had split into two groups, Barbossa's men by far the larger of the two. Hands rested on sword-hilts.
"You'd mutiny?" Jack asked.
"If you wish to call it that, aye," Barbossa agreed. "We're mutinying."
At a signal from Barbossa, the men who had joined the ship in Tortuga drew their swords. With a pang, Jack saw that some of his old crew had drawn also, and seemed to be siding against him. He looked at Bootstrap, who failed to meet his gaze.
"I saved your rotten lives," Jack said, turning back to Barbossa. "Wasn't for me, you'd have starved to death those years back on that island."
"And we're grateful for it," Barbossa said. "The bearings, if you please, Captain Sparrow."
Some of Barbossa's men were advancing, step by step, on Jack's outnumbered crew. Suddenly, with a yell, Pieter the cook whipped out his cutlass and attacked the dreadlocked Koehler. There was a clash of blades, a flash of red, and Pieter dropped to the deck.
Silence fell. All eyes turned to Jack.
He looked from one man to another, trying to read their faces, trying to order his jumbled thoughts. Trying to think of a plan that would get him, and his loyal men, out of this situation, with the Black Pearl securely in their hands, and with no more lives lost.
He came up with nothing.
"Please, Jack," Bootstrap said, his expression imploring.
Jack reached slowly inside his coat and withdrew the chart he had marked back in Havana, unfolding it.
"I reckon we're here," he said, pointing out the Black Pearl's current position. "You're aiming for here." He showed them the cut in the chart that indicated the Isla de Muerte.
Barbossa took the chart, glanced at it, and folded it away inside his own coat. "Wise decision, Jack," he said. "Bo'sun!"
The tall tattooed bo'sun came striding up to the helm. "Aye, cap'n?" he growled.
Barbossa smiled, unpleasantly. "Bind Mr Sparrow's hands," he said, "and send someone to fetch his effects from below. He'll be needing a pistol."
Rope was produced from somewhere, and Jack's hands bound in front of him. The bo'sun marched him down the steps to the main deck, where the rest of Barbossa's men had already subdued and confiscated the blades of those of Jack's crew who looked likely to put up a fight. Those men stood aside, six or seven of them, glaring at their captors and crewmates. Pieter's body lay on the deck, blood running into the scuppers and discolouring the clean boards. Already someone had laid a plank out over the water, and now Barbossa called for the ship to heave to. His men sprang to obey, and Jack Sparrow watched as the other man commanded his vessel.
The Black Pearl came to a halt, her sails slack.
Barbossa put an arm around Jack's shoulders, and pointed with his free hand. "See that there islet, Jack?"
Jack nodded, managing to stitch a smile onto his lips. "I see it."
"That'll be yours. We have your things - one pistol, your sword - as the Code demands."
"The Code," said Jack, "demands obedience to your captain. Reckon you've broken it already, mate."
"That'll be Captain Barbossa, thank'ee," Barbossa returned. "So you'll not be wantin' the pistol, then?"
"No, no," Jack hastened to reply. "I'll have the pistol. One shot, I suppose?"
"I'll save it," Jack said. "I swear to you, Barbossa, that shot will be for you, one day. Some day. No man takes the Black Pearl from me and gets away with it."
"You'll use the shot on yourself within a week," Barbossa said. "We'll drink a toast to you, Jack, when we've found your Aztec treasure and become rich men." He gave Jack a push. "Off you go."
Jack stepped up on to the plank. "Well," he said, "I'll be seeing you."
"No, you won't," Barbossa repeated.
Accepting the bundle that was his sword, belt and a single pistol with a single shot in it, Jack grinned. "You're forgetting one thing, mate."
"What's that?" asked Barbossa.
Jack looked past Barbossa to the helm, where Bootstrap was standing alone with one hand on the wheel. Bill dropped his gaze away, and Jack shrugged, before turning back to his mutinous mate. "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?"
And with those words, he turned, and executed a perfect dive into the ocean below.
It was a long way to the islet Barbossa had chosen to maroon him on, and with hands tied, it took Jack a long time to kick his way there. But he made it, eventually, and staggered ashore, dropping his effects on the sand.
He turned, and looked out to sea. The dark sails of the Black Pearl had been hoisted, and the ship was setting her course west-south-west, towards the Isla de Muerte. She looked graceful, powerful, and unutterably beautiful.
Jack Sparrow, bedraggled and alone, sat down on the beach and watched his ship recede until she was no more than a dot on the horizon.
Author's note: Many, many, many thanks to everyone who reviewed and encouraged and offered historical advice and so on throughout this. Especial thanks to the crew of the Black Pearl Sails Fanfiction group, and those reviewers who have come back time and time again. You know who you are.
Several people said "you must continue this until it gets to the movie". But I see those ten years between mutiny and movie as a separate tale - Flight of the Sparrow was, in effect, the story of Jack and the Black Pearl. However I am going to carry on, because he's still looking over my shoulder and pointing out that there are lots of stories left to tell. So keep an eye out for the sequel, With Clipped Wings. It'll be along shortly.
Thanks again. And if you've been silently reading, and hopefully enjoying, do let me know!