|Mind the Brat
Author: Belphegor PM
Meet the triple threat: it can't talk, can't walk, but boy, can it yell. Who said there's anything cute about a baby? Especially on a pirate ship... One-shot, rating because they do swear a bit.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Words: 1,719 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 14 - Published: 11-18-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4663626
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: this ficlet was largely inspired by a conversation on the Broken Compass forum about the numerous "Jack has a kid" (generally a daughter) fics on . While most seem to imagine Captain Sparrow stuck with a teenage daughter, I tried to imagine what life on ship would be with a baby on board. Especially if the kid had a bit of a temper. Literally, it would be a living hell :D
Many thanks to Nytd, who was the first to read it (and greenlight it as decent) and as usual, my beta reader Laurie, who corrected it :o)
Disclaimer: The Mouse owns PotC. I do not (as far as I know, I still haven't looked into every corner of my kitchen) own The Mouse, or any mouse at all, really. So … there you go.
Mind the Brat
Three days. Three bloody horrible days.
The air was blue with the captain's cursing and swearing that he would "never set foot in bloody Tortuga again". Nobody believed this, of course, but the situation was exceptional enough that extremes – which anyway were rather frequent wherever Sparrow was concerned – were quickly overlooked.
Captain Jack Sparrow had anticipated the ringing slap Juanita had in store for him. He hadn't expected her to dump a smelly, screaming bundle of rags into his arms and follow him to his ship with a loaded pistol to make sure he didn't dispose of it on the first doorstep he came across.
And now a ragtag, motley crew of pirates were stuck with a small kid. To top it all, a girl, by the look of it – namely the lack of certain equipment.
Who hadn't stopped crying for three entire days, minus meal times – and even then it managed to make full use of its mouth (eating and making a racket) – and a too-short nap every now and then.
The whole crew wondered how long it would take before the Captain or any other crewman snapped and threw the kid overboard. It wasn't even pretty, with its big, constantly open mouth like a hole in the middle of a small reddish-purple scrunched-up face. Plus there was the important fact that they were all so sleep-deprived by now that they looked like the walking dead. Even Cotton's parrot's feathers had somehow lost a bit of their shine.
And if things weren't bad enough already, a storm was currently bearing upon the Black Pearl without any chance of the ship escaping it.
The oncoming gale felt like a rotten cherry on an arsenic cake. The kind that killed you slowly.
The Captain stormed the decks, barking orders to drop topsails and topgallants and rig lifelines along the rail, while every single man concentrated furiously on staying awake enough to stay alive. Anyone could be knocked out to sea by a tack or swept away by a whipping line if they weren't careful.
It wasn't until they reached the heart of the squall that Sparrow – always at the Black Pearl's helm when the weather grew hairy – got a funny look on his face and grabbed Cotton who was standing next to him, gripping the wooden bars with white knuckles as well and shielding as he could his parrot from the downpour of rain.
"I can hold me own," he shouted above the din of the howling wind and his own teeth chattering. "Go check on the brat, eh?"
Cotton reluctantly let go of the helm and staggered his way down the stairs, clutching the handrail to keep his balance. At the very foot of the stairs, though, he nearly tripped and fell on Marty, who was carrying a spare coil of line and running toward the prow of the ship.
"The fore topsail's port clew's lose!" Marty shouted, picking up the coil he'd dropped in the commotion. Cotton nodded and took the coil from him as his parrot squawked down, "Mind the brat."
"Oh come on, now, yeh can't –"
"Awk! Mind the brat!"
"Bugger that," Marty muttered as Cotton walked away unsteadily, line in hand. "Oi!" he yelled as he caught sight of Pintel running beside him. "Cap'n sez 'mind the brat'!"
A stream of imprecations answered him and Marty walked away smugly, satisfied that another poor sod had got lumbered with the nasty task of babysitting the hell spawn currently residing in a specially rigged-up bunk in the Captain's cabin.
As for Pintel, he cussed and cussed until – long-time, experienced shirker that he was – he found the solution to the problem.
It has to be said about storms, like all things, good and bad, they don't stretch on forever. After what felt like years but was probably more like hours (admittedly, a fair number of them), the wind began to die down, the rain subsided, and everyone on board could soon draw a collective breath and start to count heads.
It came as a surprise for Jack Sparrow to see Cotton lending a hand in setting the main topgallant, his parrot perched on the rail nearby, apparently attempting to dry his drenched feathers in the sun.
"If you are here – who's guarding the kid?"
Cotton let go briefly of the halyard to point at Marty, while the parrot shook his head and declared innocently, "Awk. Mind the brat."
Never comfortable with Cotton's parrot, Jack glared at the bird and stopped Marty by his neckerchief. The smallest sailor on the Pearl, who was widely said to have never known fear, shifted a bit awkwardly.
"I didn' go, Cap'n. Tole Pintel ter do it. I had other things on me mind, doncherknow."
Jack Sparrow had just spent a couple of hours investigating the extended damage the storm had done to his beloved Black Pearl. It was crystal-clear that he was not in the mood for guessing games, and he demonstrated it by roaring, "Will someone in this esteemed assembled company damn well tell me where the bloody hell is that brat and who's minding it at the moment?"
It was in the shocked hush that followed this question – the kind of silence that can only be obtained by a whole crew of pirates wondering, He's got a point, actually … Where is it? – that they heard Pintel, in a display of exceptionally bad timing, asking sotto voce, "Er … Anyone seen Rags, lately?"
The small crowd, to a man, turned to him and he grinned nervously.
"Only that I told 'im teh go an' handle the kid a while ago now … Been a long time …"
"Shh," interrupted Murtogg, one of the two latest recruits on the Pearl, "d'you hear that?"
Silence was his only answer, if you didn't count the usual sounds of the sails flapping in the wind. Frowns began to dawn on the faces of those who understood his point.
"When was the last time you didn't hear 'er cry for such a long time?"
Metaphorical gears turned as the pirates thought back on their voyage. The answer was 'never', of course.
The Captain gave the former Marine a long, hard look. Then he turned on his heels and strode away toward his cabin.
The whole crew ran after him, Murtogg trying to keep up with Mullroy to ask him, rather breathlessly, "You don't s'ppose someone chucked it overboard, do you?"
Mullroy stared at him. It was impossible to say whether the prospect shocked his old comrade or delighted him. Then he realised in dismay that he couldn't tell for himself, either.
Jack Sparrow stopped abruptly at the door of the cabin, and those who followed were knocked into a halt as well. Some managed to avoid the collision and crowded around the door.
But everyone stared.
On the floor with his back against the wall sat Ragetti, covered in bruises and looking as half-dead as the rest of them. But in his arms was a miracle.
It wasn't purple. It wasn't even red. It wasn't squiggling madly its way out of someone's hands and attacking everything with balled-up fists and jerky feet. It didn't have a big, gaping hell hole as a mouth.
It had eyes. Two bright, round chips of coal black instead of the usual barely visible slits.
And it was smiling.
It was even emitting a sort of small gurgle that could pass for a laugh.
Ragetti raised a heavy look in the direction of the crew piled up near the door, his remaining eye at half-mast. By the look of things he'd spent his night being tossed and knocked around by the ship's pitching and rolling. But the – being in his arms didn't sport a single scratch. It did wear a wide toothless smile as a tiny hand tugged cheerfully on his loose, dirty shirt collar.
"Guess she could do with a nap," he finally uttered, blinking slowly.
"Ga," the baby echoed earnestly, before firmly clamping its gums on his little finger.
The collective thunderstruck stare started to take on nuances varying between unbelieving awe – 'How did he managed that!?' – and wild, murderous rage – 'How the hell did he manage that and why didn't he do it earlier!?'. The only ones who didn't quite fit in this wide range of high flying emotions were Cotton, who stood as stoic as anything but whose moustache was twitching, and Murtogg and Mullroy, who were currently engaged in a heated discussion about whether the baby looked more "like our Dave's Sean's latest" from back home or "like our mate Ed's youngest".
Small drool bubbles popped from the kid's lips. Still it continued to babble contentedly.
Tension rose as everyone near the door expected this sudden blessed state of things to break into all-out war as it had done so many times before.
It rose higher still as nothing happened.
Ragetti must have felt the change in atmosphere, because when he reopened his eye he did look a bit more alive.
I don't think I'll be writing sequels, unless the plot bunny bites. But we never know, do we? ;o)