Lord Knows I Can't Change

            The Black Pearl sailed gracefully atop the indolent crystal blue water. Beautiful water really, a breath taking blue so clear and so pure that you could easily see fairly down a ways. Even in storms it remained that same color, that same crystal blue that you could always so easily get mesmerized by. Same went with the sky. Bright, cheery blues mixing with wisps of fluffy white. The sun, the powerful monarch of the brilliant work overhead, shone proudly; casting golden rays along the crystal sea, highlighting it and making it sparkle.

It was a gorgeous sight to say the least.

Or it would have been, had its beautifully done disguise not brought back so many memories. Painful memories.

Memories that were futile to try to forget.

            These weren't the kind of memories that made you smile or that made you laugh, these made you cry, made you fall to your knees and literally crave defeat. They drained you from the inside out, taking a little piece of both your soul and your sanity each time they set foot in your mind. Sometimes, you pushed them out, burying more pain deep within… -Other times, most times, you welcomed these memories with open arms and a smile. They reminded you that you were still alive, that you weren't numb, that you hadn't died.

That you could still feel pain.

He didn't need thoughts of days gone by to assure him that he could still feel pain, though.

            The Black Pearl continued forward. She glided through the water with the grace of a dancer, but with the past of a lonely forgotten soul.

That lonely forgotten soul stood behind her wheel, gently steering her, trying to ignore the stinging pain in his heart and the lump in his throat. Damn those memories.

* * *

            Gibbs smiled at his long-time companion, having not seen the man for more than a few years. "Well I'll be damned- Jack Sparrow, ye old sea dawg!" He stood to his feet, a tankard of rum held securely in his left hand as he scurried over to the pirate captain. Jack Sparrow smiled slyly and held two slender fingers up in front of his face, narrowing his eyes at Gibbs.

            "Captain," he corrected, lowering his hands. "Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?" Gibbs did nothing but grin in a mixture of delight and amusement. "Being that you left that rather important part out of me name, I think it'd be rather kind of you to buy me a drink." He smiled, motioning to the bar with one hand, while pointing at Gibbs with the other. He nodded and walked to the bar, Jack following close behind and sitting on a vacant stool beside his.

            "What do you want, mate?" Gibbs set his tankard of rum back down on the worn wooden counter top. He looked back up at Jack's kohl rimmed eyes and waited. The pirate captain pressed his hands together in obvious thought.

            "A grog," he answered finally, smiling. Gibbs nodded and motioned for the man behind the bar and relayed to him Jack's choice. The man went about making it, while Gibbs turned back at Jack, looking at him curiously.

            "I've heard rumors about ye," he said slowly, and Jack raised an eyebrow in confusion.

            "Have you now?" The man behind the bar handed Jack a pint of grog and he eagerly took it, taking a long drink before setting it down and looking back at Gibbs. "Like what?"

            "That you were dead -or left to die rather." Jack watched Gibbs drain the remaining drops of his rum and yell at the man behind the bar for another. He raised an eyebrow suspiciously, once again pressing his hands together and grinning smugly.

            "Murdered how, mate?"

            Gibbs wrapped his dirt-smudged fingers around the newly filled tankard that was placed in front of him. "That you were marooned," he answered, looking at Jack, who continued to do nothing but grin. "By Barbossa and the rest of the Black Pearl's crew… -Were you?" Jack broke his hands apart and reached for his grog.

            "Aye," he answered, pausing momentarily to take a drink from the tankard. "Aye," he repeated, "I was." Gibbs knitted his eyebrows together in apparent confusion.

            "How the blazes did you escape?" Jack smirked into the tankard and lowered it back down to the worn wooden counter top with a small smile and an odd gleam to his eyes.

            "Let's not worry 'bout that, mate." He answered simply, and Gibbs merely shrugged. Jack all of a sudden had the urge to look around, searching for the one person he hadn't seen, the one person who had cared for him as a father would a son; being that his real father never had. Frowning in annoyance when he didn't see who he was looking for, he rested his gaze on Gibbs, one eyebrow raised.

            "Mate," he sighed, "where's ole' Bootstrap?" The expression on Gibbs' face startled him. "What?..." He asked cautiously, slowly. Fear bubbled up inside of him and welled up in his eyes. Gibbs lowered his gaze and sighed, shutting his eyes tightly.

            "Ye don't know what happened, do ye mate?" He didn't wait for a response. "Barbossa and the crew… They…" Gibbs opened his eyes and looked at Jack, sympathy playing on his features. Jack merely cocked his head to the side in uncertainty and picked up his tankard, trying to hide the fact that Gibbs was scaring the absolute hell out of him. "They tied a cannon to ole' Bootstrap's bootstraps when he confronted Barbossa 'bout the mutiny… And threw him overboard." Gibbs voice lowered in tone. "He's dead, Jack, they killed him. He's dead." Jack's eyes held no emotion as he stared at Gibbs, frantically telling himself that it wasn't true, that William Turner, his friend, his bloody father, couldn't be dead. Reality hit him like a hammer to a nail and he froze.

The half full tankard fell to the floor and shattered, as did Jack's heart.

* * *

He shook his head and ran a grimy hand over his tired eyes.

            He could still remember that conversation so vividly, as if it had just happened only yesterday. Never had he experienced pain like that; not even the time he had gotten slashed across the stomach was not nearly half as painful. It had hurt like nothing else.

But, being the stubborn man that he was, is, he had simply shrugged it off and ordered another grog… and then another… and another…

Unfortunately, Gibbs had not let him drink himself to death.

            Jack opened his eyes again slowly and stared down at the crystal blue water. The last time he and Bootstrap had talked had been on a day very much like this one. The sky and water were both so clear and blue… the wind was reasonably calm… there were no ominous clouds overhead…-

            "Cap'n?" Jack physically jumped out of his painful memories and turned around; being sure that his expression was one of annoyance. Judging from how the female pirate rolled her eyes, he had succeeded.

            Smirking he asked, "You bellowed, love?" Ana Maria crossed her arms and gave him an almost deadly glare.

            "Yes," she spat. "We're nearly at Port Royale… -We should be there within two hours." Jack clapped his hands together, bowing slightly. It was how he said thank you, though sometimes, on very rare occasions, he'd actually say the words. Ana Maria noticed the look in his eyes and felt her frustration slowly start to drain away.

            "Jack," she called, softer this time, and the pirate captain looked at her. "Ye alright?" He smiled and nodded.

            "Aye, love, just tired." His smile didn't convince her, and his eyes deceived him. Not wanting to push the matter, knowing that Jack Sparrow would eventually come around, she nodded slowly and turned on her heel. Jack watched her go for a few seconds before turning back around and staring at the sea once more.

At least he would see Will and Elizabeth soon… -his friends. His only real family.

But even they could not replace the hole in his heart that had been created by Bootstrap's death.

He did nothing, said nothing, just steered and prayed for a stronger wind so that he could reach his friends faster, as the water became blurry.

To Be Continued…

AN: This is my third PotC story and my first attempt at a long one. My other two are shorts. Bear with me, guys, I'm still getting used to everyone's personalities and what not. And, no, this is not slash.

A grog (Jack's drink) is a pirate's favorite. It includes the following: lemon juice (sour), sugar (sweet), rum (strong) and water (weak).

Please R/R and I will try to get chapter two up before I go back to school (which is a week from today)!