CHAPTER ONE: Starting Over
The small figure froze at the top of the lane as the deafening shot was fired. The sky was streaked orange and gold, bloody to match the event, and the one with the gun fled immediately. The one left standing there in the deserted evening stood as if frozen. The small figure watched from the end watched the person stagger a little, and come to rest with one hand against a wall. The smaller figure glanced around. This could be time consuming, but the other person clearly needed help.
As the figure made its way up the lane, the person who had been shot realised that they were being approached, and that the approacher was female, judging by the skirts billowing out around her. She drew level with him as he leant against the wall and through his pain he glimpsed a young face with wide green eyes, red hair worn loose and free, though stuffed hastily beneath a bonnet.
"Come on." She said roughly, seized his arm. "Move."
"Where're we going?"
"I'm going to help you but I can't if we don't get out of here." She glanced nervously over her shoulder as if expecting something horrific to appear behind them. She'd barely glanced at the man she was rescuing. He let her aid him, limping down the street and around a corner. Tall warehouses surrounded them suddenly, looming out of seemingly nowhere, and the River Thames, decorated with large cargo vessels, spread out before them. Both squinted to the opposite bank, where fields were visible. There were a few people here, men working, but nobody noticed them or paid them much attention. She yanked him behind a large pile of crates and he slumped gratefully against them. They both finally dared to look down at his leg.
The bullet had ripped a hole in his breeches, and his thigh was bleeding profusely, though he was relieved to see it was not as bad as it could've been. The young woman was pulling out a length of lace from a bag he hadn't noticed she was carrying. It was expensive and of good quality, probably intended for the hem of a ball gown or to make into a sash. His swarthy hand seized hers.
"Don't- don't waste that." He managed to gasp out at her. She looked up at him, her green eyes meeting his own brown ones. They were kohl-rimmed and kind, though set into a tanned face framed by dreadlocks. He wore a tri-corn hat and several gold teeth glimmered between his lips.
"I won't need it anymore." She pushed his hand away without any further ado, and wrapped the lace tightly around the wound, winding it several times around and tying it. "That's the best I can do, for now." The man stood gingerly, putting his weight on the leg. It was already a lot less painful now bound.
"Thank you." There she was, glancing around again as if fearful someone would see her. Her features and dress would indicate she was of a respectable background- she probably didn't want to risk being seen in his company. But undoubtedly she had a heart, to help him in the first place. He was touched by this. He expected her to hurry away now, but she didn't. Instead, she leaned back on the crates beside him. He saw panic in her expression.
"Love, forgive me for prying, but who're you hiding from?" He asked her.
"Everyone." She answered with a shaky laugh. He looked at her and she caught his eye, "Are you to pretend with your appearance that you are unfamiliar with rebellion?" He laughed, baring his gold teeth again.
"Not at all love- rebellion is friendly acquaintance of mine." His mind flashed back to his childhood, running riot around these very docks playing with sticks that he pretended were swords with his young friends. His hand traced the real sword resting against his uninjured length, sheathed. She followed his movement, her eyes taking in the sword.
"Who are you?"
"Might ask you the same question." He said daringly, raising an eyebrow.
"My name- is Katie."
"I- O'Connor. Katie O'Connor." He had a strong suspicion she was lying, but he decided not to press her; after all, she had already admitted she was hiding from someone or something, and was rebelling. What did it matter what her real name was?
"Irish are you? It's an honour, Miss O'Connor-" He began with a flourish but she glanced around antagonistically.
"Just call me Katie." This was definitely unusual for a girl of so obviously a higher class background- but then, it was unusual for anyone to willingly associate themselves with the Irish too, these days.
"Katie it is. I'm not one to stand on occasion. I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?" He watched her face carefully but she gave no sign of recognition at the name and even if she did recognise it, he got the impression she didn't care very much right now.
"Are you a pirate?" She demanded. Well, Katie was definitely not one to beat around the bush, he mused.
"Well, now you come to mention it…" He smirked.
"Good. That means you can help me get out of here." Jack raised an eyebrow. He was rather enjoying her sharp manner; it made such a change for a lady just to be straightforward. But it amused him all the same.
"I can, can I?"
"You will. I helped you with that leg, when I rightfully should've turned you in for duelling in the city." Katie snapped, and he admitted to himself she had a point.
"You can 'ardly call it a duel when a man just blasts a man's leg away and tears off before you 'ave a chance to defend yerself." Jack muttered darkly, "But I'll concede this time, love. As it happens, I fancy getting out of here meself. And I have an idea of how to do it."
It hadn't been hard to convince the merchant sailors to allow Jack and Katie passage on their ship, so long as they disappeared as soon as they landed in France and were never heard of again. The fact Katie was so obviously a lady helped- they were all honest men, those sailors, keen to help a damsel in apparent distress. And Jack was just a nuisance who seemed to come as part and parcel of the deal. They wondered ideally, during the short voyage, whether this lady was running away with the scallywag. An elopement, it wasn't unheard of, a lady marrying for love far below her station.
It took a few days to cross the English Channel by sea and during that time, Jack tried to find out more about who Katie was. She was quiet, a lot of the time, but when she spoke she remained direct and blunt. He had to admit, he was taken aback by it sometimes- he was used to Elizabeth, who for so long had retained her ladylike demeanour and affectations.
"Why are you running away, Katie?" Jack asked her one night as they sailed over a relatively calm sea. The moon was bright in the sky, though the sky itself was cloudy. She turned bright blue eyes on him.
"It would be quicker to list the reasons I don't have for running." He considered this for a moment then nodded, deciding he could accept that.
"What do you plan to do now?"
"I was heading for the Free World to start a new life." She sighed, casting her gaze out on the surrounding sea, "I suppose I didn't think that far ahead."
"What kind of life would you 'ave on yer own love? I mean, don't get me wrong- you seem quite capable of looking after yerself," Jack added, "But you're a woman travelling by yerself halfway across the world. And there's no guarantee the Free World is any freer than the one you left behind."
"What do you mean?" Katie asked, frowning. Surely the whole point of the Free World was freedom? It seemed quite self-explanatory.
"Well, you're moving from one society with one set of constraints to another society with another set of constraints, aren't ya?"
"Well, you don't know that the new society is gonna suit you any better than the old one, savvy? It might even be worse." Katie was about to make a retort when she realised he had a point. This seemed to be yet another thing she hadn't thought about.
"It's too late to go back now," Katie said miserably, "We're halfway to France."
"You're right love… but you could consider an alternative." Jack said, turning to walk away from her. Katie stared after him, her mind working rapidly.
"Jack?" She called. He stopped and turned around. His teeth were already glinting beneath the moustache. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to get me ship back." She came towards him then, the ghost of a smile about her lips.
"And where is your ship?"
"That'd be in the Caribbean, lass."
"So how do we get it back?" She linked her arm through his as she said it, pulling him for a walk along the deck. Jack looked at her face. It was dancing with excitement for the first time in the few days he'd known it and the affect it had was to make her seem radiant. He noticed for the first time that she was pretty. Her hair was auburn and coming out of its carefully pinned curls beneath her bonnet, her skin porcelain against it.
"It's we now, is it?" He said amusedly.
"Oh, I think so." She replied, smiling even more broadly. "You can teach me everything I need to know, and I…"
"What can you do for me, love?" Jack's eyes sparkled with mirth. She didn't miss this and for a second he expected her to slap him and say she wasn't coming with him at all if he was going to act like such a scoundrel. But Katie had decided she ought to get used to it.
"I'll do whatever I can," She said cheerfully, though with a serious note. "I'll dress your wounds again if I have to. I'll cook and clean… whatever is needed." Having a woman to cook and clean for him? It was like having a wife without the troubles.
"It isn't gonna be an easy journey. But if you're up for it… well, I don't see why not, to be honest." He pronounced. Usually it was considered bad luck having a woman on ship but he knew now that that old superstition might be the only one not worth taking into consideration. Besides, he felt oddly comfortable around Katie and she was certainly eager, now that she had some semblance of a plan. He wasn't sure she'd be able to cope with the lifestyle, but if she was willing to give it a go…
"Oh thank you! You've been so kind to me, Jack, helping me get this far… I'll be glad to repay you in service." She patted him on the arm before taking her leave towards the cabin she slept in. Jack watched her go, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction as he did so.