Disclaimer:  The two things I own in my life are my instrument and my body, both of which are slowing killing me (rubs legs where still sore from 'toes up!' all day) . . .

AN:  God, I should be sleeping now, but I can't . . .I go to bed and stare at the ceiling seeing the first part of this fic play over and over again on it, which is about the only part that is firmly established . . .this stuff is addictive . . .Back in action without even a day's rest . . .Okay, this takes place (drags cat off keyboard and deletes extra characters) about 5 years after 'A Taste of Misery', my first fic.  Reading that would be kind, but I don't think it'll be absolutely imperative . . .I tend to drag in the most important lines . . .

AN2:  Updates will honestly be longer in coming for this story because while I know a bit about colonial life and medical stuff, I really don't know anything about ships except that they float on top of the water, they have a captain who's in command, and Jack has one called the Pearl.  As I see part of this happening on the Pearl, I'll need to research a bit and get at least a semi-working knowledge of 18th century vessels . . .

AN3:  If people would be very kind and tell me how long it's supposed to take to go from Port Royal to Tortuga it would also be appreciated . . .and if anyone knows what kind of ship the Pearl is that would also be very helpful . . .

Trust Me Still

Part 1

Jack slowly paced through the debris, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end as he took in what had once been homes . . .families . . .lives . . .worlds.  He had heard tales of similar destruction, but he had never believed they could be true, never believed anyone capable of repeatedly doing this . . .

He turned away, his face a careful mask of calm as he proceeded, silently and deliberately now, towards his destination.  He felt his lip twitch in a sneer at his own thoughts.

A man who had fought undead pirates for his ship, an assassin for his life, and his own demons for his sanity was questioning that there was enough darkness in men to commit atrocities like this.  Compared to what had happened in Port Jade this was nearly tame . . .

But Jade had been a one-time hit on a small port, while this was the next link in a chain that was steadily growing longer.

"Captain . . .what do you expect to find?"  Jack eyed Ana-Maria slowly and shook his head.  She called him Captain in front of the crew, more because he insisted than because she wanted to.  If she was calling him Captain now, when no one was around, then she was either frightened or horrified or worried for his sanity . . .or perhaps some combination of all three.

"I don't know, love.  I don't even want to hope . . ."

The female pirate nodded silently, her lips compressed into a thin line.

Hope flared against all his wishes as he came within sight of the small house, still standing and relatively unscathed.  He reminded himself fixedly that an intact house did not mean an intact home.

Jack had kept his promise and returned to Port Royal whenever the chance arose, sending notes through whatever channels he felt were safe when he couldn't visit.

He had been away for eight months now, and once again it wasn't the homecoming that he had imagined.

He pushed open the front door, an eerie sense of déjà vu rising as he remembered all the previous times he had been there.

The first thing that caught his eye was the lock, well oiled and completely undamaged.

William Turner, you need to be more careful.  I know this house is defensible, considering I helped build it, but the locks don't work if ye don't set them.

A quick glance at Ana-Maria told the pirate that she was thinking the same thing.

Despite all of Jack's best efforts, the lad had never succumbed to paranoia, and it might very well have cost him his life.

Stepping into the room, he saw the decapitated body lying in the middle of the floor, and his heart froze for a moment.

Then he shook himself, realizing that it couldn't be who he had believed it was. 

The man was too tall and too bulky to be the blacksmith.

No one had ever killed one of the raiders before.  No one had ever survived to tell the tales.  All the information they had was from sailors who had made port only to find a wasteland in place of a refuge.

Yet Will was one of the best swordsmen in the Caribbean, perhaps in the world.  If anyone could do the impossible, it would be him.

There were other options, of course, but Jack had a sneaking suspicion that this was the body of one of the raiders . . .the first one ever recovered.

Jack walked around the body and towards the bedroom, a light tread behind him assuring him that Ana-Maria still followed.  Placing his hand against the door he pushed lightly . . .and jumped back in shock as a blade sang through the air, missing his hand by less than an inch.

"You'll never take him, you filthy, blood-sucking worms!  You've already taken one—you'll not have him as well!  You'll come through me . . ."

The woman stopped as she stepped out the door and saw who it was that stood in her house.  Her hair was tangled and dirty.  Specks of blood showed brilliantly on the white shirt and trousers that she wore.  A dark red stain was slowly spreading from her upper left arm.

"Elizabeth."  Jack dashed forward and caught the woman as she swayed unsteadily and collapsed to her knees, tears beginning to leak down her face.

"Jack . . ."

"I'm here, mommy."

Both pirates looked up in surprise as the timid voice piped through the room, followed quickly by a blurred impression of dark brown hair on a small body that attached itself quickly to Elizabeth's side.

Elizabeth turned and grabbed the child in a tight embrace as she laughed through her tears.

"It's okay, honey, everything's okay.  Your Uncle Jack and Aunt Ana-Maria are here.  We'll be safe now, honey.  Don't worry."

The child nodded once, his face buried in her chest.

"Elizabeth, what happened?"  Jack reached out to touch her arm gently, guessing the pain that she was feeling and unable to help her.

Elizabeth stared at the pirate for a moment, still clinging to her child.

"They took him, Jack.  They took Will . . .they took Will and Ana and I couldn't stop them . . ."

Jack sat in stunned silence as Elizabeth broke down into fresh sobs, barely aware of Ana-Maria moving forward to comfort the other woman when Jack made no move to.

Will wasn't dead yet.

At least one of the children was alive and safe.

There was still hope.

Now he only had to determine how to hold on to that hope and make it grow into something real and tangible.

Something shaped like a blacksmith and a five-year-old child that were the closest thing to a real, normal family that Jack had.

End Note:  Um, maybe I should have mentioned this at the beginning . . .During my previous story, Will and Elizabeth have twins that they name Jack and Ana . . .