A/N: As usual, much thanks to EstelWolfe and ErinRua for betaing and all that lovely stuff that I just seem incapable of doing no matter how hard I try.
Return of the Sparrow
By Kayden Eidyak
The three listened with rapt attention as Avery told them what he knew. Douglass and his men had left at dawn three days ago.
"They'll nearly be to Port Royal by now," Will mused.
"We did see a couple ships headin' that direction on our way over here," Jack added. "Maybe they were on one of them." He grinned then. "Old Douglass still out for revenge after all this time. Doesn't surprise me. Haven't seen nor heard of him for years, though. Thought he'd be dead by now."
"Don't you think blowing up a ship all for the sake of revenge was overdoing it a little, though?" Elizabeth asked.
"Douglass was always one for overkill. 'Why use a pistol when a canon could do the same' was his philosophy," Jack said with a shrug. "But hey! We've been sittin' around here long enough. We better go so I'm not late for me own beheading."
Elizabeth yawned. "Must we leave already? Shouldn't we get some sleep first?"
Jack scowled slightly.
"Good idea," Will interjected. "We'll sail better with the tide in the morning anyway."
"First you yell at me for not taking things seriously and now you think there's enough time to stay the night?"
"We know who destroyed the ship. That's all Norrington needs to know. We'll be able to catch them later."
Jack crossed his arms and huffed. "We leave at dawn then, and not a moment later."
Elizabeth stifled a yawn and gazed blearily at the slowing receding snip of land that was Tortuga. Jack had roused them well before dawn and the first rays of light were just now peeking over the horizon. Jack had assumed a new air of urgency and he carried out all his tasks in a very business-like manner.
The first day went quite well, considering the amount of time they had to get back. Sometime after noon, though, clouds began to gather on the horizon. Will noticed Jack glancing nervously at them as he ordered on more sail. Will hurried to comply, Elizabeth helping as best she could.
"What are you thinking?" Will asked Jack as the clouds continued to grow and darken.
"I'm thinking we're going to be a bit late," Jack said with a grimace and another glance to the clouds. "Doesn't look too bad but we're going to be in for a lot of rain and wind. It's gonna slow us down." He looked at Elizabeth who was coiling rope. "We're going to need her help, too."
Will nodded and, not knowing what else to do, clapped Jack on the shoulder and left to help Elizabeth.
Was that sympathy Jack had seen on Will's face? He grinned. The whelp had no faith.
Hardly ten minutes later large wet drops began smattering the deck. Slow at first, but steadily gaining momentum. Jack ordered them to take in sail, the waves growing as the wind blew, rocking the little boat from side to side. Elizabeth and Will ran about carrying out orders to the best of their abilities to keep the vessel afloat and in good working order so they could make it back to Port Royal - preferably in one piece.
"What do you mean he's not here!"
The soldier leaned back slightly as flecks of spit flew at him.
"I mean just what I said, sir. The Commodore allowed Mr. Sparrow eight days to prove his innocence."
Douglass threw up his hands and gave a roar of frustration, causing the young naval officer to step back.
"How long has he been gone?" Douglass demanded at last.
"Uh…" the soldier mouthed silently and ticked the numbers off on his fingers. "Seven days, sir. He should return with the culprits tomorrow."
Douglass leered. "Unlikely." He turned away without another word.
"He's gone," Douglass said in answer to the questioning expressions of his companions' who were waiting for him in the town square. "Ol' Norrington allowed him eight days to find us. He won't have much luck wherever he went, that's for sure."
This was followed by laughter from the other men.
"Jack Sparrow will never find us in time. When he returns tomorrow he'll be arrested afore he can step onto shore. Let's go get a drink."
The others shouted in agreement and they hurried to the nearest pub.
Dawn came grey and watery. The rain had stopped, though it was still overcast and the waves still high. The three temporary crewmembers aboard the little boat were soaked through and tired. They'd been up all night doing everything in their power to keep on course. Despite their efforts, Jack told them it would take them an extra day to get back to Port Royal.
"But Jack, that will be nine days!" Elizabeth protested.
Jack merely shrugged his shoulders and grinned at her, ordering on more canvas, hoping to be able to make up for as much lost time as possible.
They toiled sleeplessly through the next night as well, the minutes seeming to tick loudly in their heads as a constant reminder of what would happen if they were late. Jack especially felt the stress, knowing his crew was counting on him to return in eight days with the criminals. They were pushing their limits already by not having them. Even if Norrington hadn't specifically stated that the culprits must be in Jack's possession when he returned, that was what he meant, and Jack felt he was going to be hard pressed to convince the Commodore to give him additional days to complete his task.
Commodore James Norrington paced in front of his window, staring out over the sea. He had officers reporting to him every fifteen minutes for any sign of Jack Sparrow. The sun was presently setting on the eighth day and Norrington was feeling somewhat foolish. He should have known this would happen. How could he have thought to trust that pirate? And the worst part was Will Turner had once again teamed up to help. No, that wasn't the worst part, he decided, giving a short bark of laughter that contained no humor. The worst part was Elizabeth joining in as well. He had no proof, of course. The maid in the Turner's house had told the Governor that they had gone to visit friends. Norrington had been with Mr. Swann when she delivered the message and he had suspected something at once. The Governor, it seemed, did not, or if he did he didn't let on as much. He had simply laughed about the odd ways of newlyweds and continued their previous discussion, Norrington only half listening, his thoughts on the rash blacksmith.
There was a sharp rap on the door.
An officer stepped briskly through the door, bowing crisply.
"Anything?" Norrington asked.
Norrington sighed. "Keep watch. Inform me at once if you see anything."
The door closed with a snap and he turned to the window once more. A sliver of moon did little to light the night sky, so he eventually turned back to his desk. The hanging of Sparrow's crew would have to be taken care of.
"Heartless man," the Commodore muttered with disdain. "Thinks too much of his own damn skin to even care about his crew." He collected a pile a papers and slapped them on the desk. "I shouldn't care this much," he told himself sternly. "What does it matter to me if they're all hanged?" He stopped, aware for the first time that he was talking to himself, and glanced around as though he thought someone might have been listening.
"We're never going to make it, Jack," Will said, his tone one of hopelessness.
"Shhhh!" the pirate hissed. "We'll be there by nightfall. He wouldn't hang them all today anyway."
"Why not?" Will inquired.
Jack grinned, his characteristic grin, gold teeth glinting. "Because it's Sunday, lad! They're all at church reciting their Hail Marys and all that rot."
"Sunday…" Will's voice trailed off. After all they'd been through and the man still knew what day of the week it was. "Jack, you'll never cease to amaze me," Will said at last.
"That's because I'm quite an amazing person to begin with, dear Will."