This is the third instalment of an unintentional trilogy.
A quick recap of things so far… You don't have to have read anything previous of mine. Just know in the last story Jack led Ana to believe he may be to get his way in something else, at which time she poured her heart out that she'd have liked to be more then friends. He said nothing in response, and she got the point. And she left the Pearl because she couldn't stand the thought of him manipulating every situation and not telling her what's going on anymore. So, here we are about five months later…. They haven't seen each other since.
Before even completely regaining consciousness, the stench made him gag. Jack woke up fighting a headache and the familiar confusion of waking up in an unfamiliar place with no recollection of how he got there or why.
The Pearl smelt like exotic spices. It smelt rich and spicy, and he knew that even in the days she sailed under Barbossa's cursed flag she hadn't smelt this rotten. Or evil. Sure maybe the Pearl could get a little damp smelling at times, a little fishy maybe, but it was an honest seaworthy fishiness. Nothing like the vile reek permeating the air around him now, and what made it even worse was that he recognised the smell. He recognised this smell as well as he recognised scurvy or gangrene, you know it because you never want to have a smell like this on your own ship. It smelt like a slavers ship.
Looking around proved useless; whoever thought to throw him on the ship hadn't thought to provide a lamp and the resulting darkness proved absolute. The wood under his hands felt worn and swollen with constant moisture and there was a puddle on the right. Decomposition and rot permeated every breath he took and he forced himself to take slow steady breaths to hold down the bile rising in his throat.
A sound to his left caught his attention. It might have been overlooked as just another creaking and settling of the ship amongst all the other creaks, but this was different. This was too subtle to be unintentional.
"You wouldn't have any rum over there do you?" He called out, keeping his voice light. He heard a shuffle in response, then all of a sudden a muffled thud.
"Rum?" He listened again, and this time heard cursing. Nope not a rat, unless it turned out to be an articulate rat with a vocabulary of curses.
A small flicker of candlelight came into view offering the promise of sight, but it just made everything around him dance in a confusion of angles shadows. "So it is you. I wouldn't believe them when they told me they found you." The voice whispered once it was through with cursing. He still couldn't tell whether it was female, male, or what.
"Do ye 'ave a name?" The accent in his voice came out thick with the effort it took to stay detached.
"Jack, you're an idiot."
"No, that's my name." He crawled towards the voice and hit bars. Now with something to focus on, he felt his way along the rusted metal to explore his space. The bars ran from the wall and out for about four feet, and then long for six feet, and then back to the wall. A very small space, and he assumed it wasn't originally built to hold people. Slaver ships weren't built like this, and admittedly, the stench could come from any number of other amazingly horrid possibilities. Why would anyone be interested in catching him and locking him below deck? The Royal Navy came to mind, but he'd bet a hand this wasn't Navy.
"How did they find you?"
This time the voice sounded a little more distinct, and distinctly feminine. "Ana Maria?"
"Yes, how's your head?"
His head felt slightly dizzy and he stopped exploring the bars and sat down. Despite the lack of love at their last meeting, he couldn't remember doing anything bad enough warranting this kind of treatment. "I heard you found a ship. Is this it?"
"This isn't my ship."
Jack stretched out a bit and leaned again the bars. "Whose is it then?"
"I can't explain right now." She answered hurriedly. Jack heard heavy boots stepping on wood and then a metal latch grinding on metal as a door opened. Light flooded the darkened space as a large obese man descended the ladder with a lantern.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the added light, and whomever it was waited until the pirate stopped squinting. "Well." Jack drawled as he stood up and leaned forwards against the bars of his cage. "If it ain't me old friend Granger Adams."
"Captain now. More'n you can say for yerself." The man passed the lantern to Ana Maria and stepped close to Jack so that their noses were barely inches apart.
The intimidation tactic didn't work as planned, seeing as Jack's attention focused squarely on Ana Maria, who now looked as un-Ana Mariaish as can be. She wore her hair down and flowing around her shoulders (and it looked clean!), with large jewelled earrings hanging about her face, and a dress. Not only a dress, but a poofy yellow dress. By the way she looked squished in the middle he bet odds there'd be whalebone tied tightly around her waist too.
A sword swung up and clashed against the bars. Jack stepped back and turned his focus back to the man in front of him, now holding a sword. "Last I saw of you mate, you were a shoemaker on his way back home to mother England."
"And you were without a ship to captain. Funny how things come in circles." The man lowered his sword and scratched his ear with a large fat pinkie finger. "I'm of the mind things'll go more in my direction this time." He inspected the gob of wax he'd dug out before wiping it off on his already stained vest. It didn't evade his notice that the pirate continued to be distracted by the female beside him. This didn't please him in the least seeing as he wanted the attention solely for himself. He rumbled deep in his throat and spat an impressive gob of phlegm between the cage bars. There'd be time to catch his old friends attention later. Plenty of time.
But it seemed a shame to leave without setting a proper impression. He reached into a pouch at his waist and withdrew a length of leather with little sharpened pieces of metal woven in to it. "You recognise what this is from?" He held it close to the bars to give the pirate a good look. It looked like nothing more than a piece of leather to most people, but the slight widening of Jack's eyes told him the pirate knew it well enough. "We'll have fun with this later." He promised.
Jack didn't respond. Ana looked up at the door as she placed a hand on Captain Granger's shoulder, she needed a moment alone with Jack and intended to have it. "I think the knock on his head did more damage than you anticipated." She suggested. "Unless you want him to die from infection before asking him your questions, I'd best see to that first."
Knock on his head? Jack raised his hand to touch the back of his skull and sure enough, he felt a lump. Nothing serious, and nothing warranting the attention Ana Maria suggested, but it was there and Jack didn't remember getting it.
"Then see to it." Granger grumbled and turned on his heel to stomp out, leaving the lantern behind.
Ana waited until the door slammed shut before sitting the lantern on the floor and turning her glare back towards Jack. "You fool. How could you let them catch you?"
"Seeing as I don't remember the catching part, I'm not the one to tell you." He quipped back. Ana jammed a key into the lock and swung open the gate on the cage.
"Get out here so I can look at your head."
He stepped out and let her look. "New dress?"
"Shut up. There's more going on then you know."
"Obviously." He ducked a bit as she poked the swelling on his skull. "Care to let me in on it?" He turned back around and studied her again.
"Not yet, there isn't time." She reached to prod his head again and he stopped her by wrapping a hand around her wrist.
"Make time." He insisted, still keeping a firm hold of her. "How is it you're involved with a man like Granger?"
With her free hand, she slapped him. "Don't you ever imply I'd become involved with that animal."
Jack reeled backwards from the blow and rubbed his sore cheek with exaggerated care. "Why can't you women ever see clear to just answer the question? A simple 'no, Jack, it's not what you think' would suffice. Nonetheless, that's what it's looking like from this angle, luv."
"Then look harder." Her voice softened and she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Jack, you have to go back in the cage."
He stepped back and watched her close the door and lock it. She said nothing further before climbing the ladder and taking the lantern with her, leaving him once again alone in the dark.
Thanks muchly with a big hug to Jackfan2 for beta reading and talking me through the bad parts. Llike I've said before, the mistakes are all mine.
And thanks to Midnights Shadow for the review you sent to Chapter ten. You are completely right, Ana doesn't walk away from any challenge, and Jack is about the biggest challenge she's ever faced.
More chapters are coming, please let me know what you think. If you don't review then I can't steal what you've reviewed to use in my story! So please help me out and let me know what you think!!!!!