A New Life by Kazren/Bainpeth The Characters are owned by Disney - just playing. Rated: PG for language and situations To read this with pictures - visit

Even out on the open sea with a easterly wind blowing hard, the sound of a canon's gun filled the air with a mighty blast. Jack gritted his teeth.

"Dirty bastards!" He scanned the other vessel with dark eyes. His senses took in everything, estimating when they'd actually be in range of one another as the other ship's ball splashed harmlessly off their starboard side.

"Bloody hell," Jock cursed with his heavy Scot accent. "Don't they know this here is the Black Pearl?"

"Well ram that information up their arses for 'em," Jack said confidently.

"Sail a'stern!" the watch called from the crows nest.

"What?" Jack snapped his spyglass open and looked off the stern. Sure enough, another ship was headed their way. With the falling light, she'd be lucky to find them before everything went black.

He turned his attention to the weather. Dark storm clouds rolled low over a slate sea. His elflocks blew widely around his head like Medusa's snakes. He reached a hand up to press his hat on more firmly. Steadying the spyglass, he studied the other ship. There was the hint of red, blue and white on the flag flying from her aft mast. "British Navy," he called. "What are they doing out here?"

"Probably searchin' for us," Gibbs said coming up beside Jack. "Or our new friends there."

The words brought Jack's attention back to the ship closing on them. "I thought we were faster," he mumbled half out-loud.

"She's got the wind in her favor, unless you want to risk those shoals, Capt'n." Gibbs' voice was even.

Casting a sidelong glance at the shoals Jack knew lay hidden off their port side, he shook his head. He wouldn't risk all their lives on the rocks. Besides, they looked evenly matched with the mystery ship.

"Who are they?" he asked, bewildered.

The Pearl's reputation was known far and wide, which meant no pirate of sound mind had tried to take her. Before today, that was. "Get the guns rolled out to greet our friends," Jack said evenly. "Have Maynard give him a welcoming shot."

"Aye, aye, sir," Gibbs turned and hollered at the gunners.

All flames had already been put out at the first sign of an enemy. The powder monkeys were running from gun to gun. Each cannon had men assigned to prime, load and fire the cannon balls. Gibbs went down among them, handing out daggers and grappling hooks. The Pearl was on the offensive. "Well show these dogs what a sea wolf is like," Gibbs said merrily. "Mr. Maynard, let's test a shot, if you please."

The aft-most cannon fired a shot high in the air. It came down dozens of feet in front of the mystery ship's bow.

Everything was taking time, Jack thought, but the seconds and minutes did tick by. Time was in his favor.

All light was almost gone by the time the other ship came close enough for Jack's spyglass to identify her.

"It's the Muratania!" Jack growled. He and the other ship's captain, Heinrich von der Kirchhoff, were sworn enemies. The wily Dutchman had tried upon more than one occasion to swindle Jack, and now he had commandeered a ship from the Germans. Everyone in Tortuga had been abuzz about it.

Gibbs was half-way up the steps. "We'll get 'im this time, Capt'n."

"Aye. We'll blow 'im out of t'water," Jack agreed.

"Ready," he called down to the gunners.

"Ready," Gibbs echoed.

Jack raised an arm and watched as he swung the wheel every so slightly to the right and the Pearl, beauty that she was, responded like a dream. "Fire!" Jack yelled as her guns came to bear on the German vessel a full minute before she could respond to the Pearl's tack.

The air was filled with smoke, blasting noise, and the sparks of cannons. The Pearl rocked slightly as the guns on her decks let go their deadly missiles. Jack looked down at his men. Those on the starboard side were all manning the guns, a few stood with sword or belaying pin in hand, waiting a chance to storm aboard the Muratania.

Then the other ship's cannons blazed to live, sending balls of iron flying through the air, hitting Jack's precious ship. His helmsman stood by as Jack guided his ship by instinct, his mind constantly sensing the wind, the sound of it in the sails, the way the ship responded to the gunfire she was taking.

"Here," he yelled to the helmsman, stepping back to look up at the mast. A ball had hit a crossbeam, and one of the sails was useless.

Even as Jack looked up, another ball crashed into the mast directly behind the wheel, sending lethal splinters of wood flying. The blast of it knocked Jack backwards, even as a piece of wood the size and thickness of a man's hand sunk into his left shoulder. He felt the railing at his back for only a moment, then he was falling, too stunned to cry out.

He crashed into the water. The sea was frigid. He tried to claw his way upwards, but his left arm wouldn't work. He kicked as hard as he could in boots he'd swam in many a time. At last, he bobbed to the surface in time to see the Pearl, still locked in a deadly battle with the Muratania, sailing away. He wondered if anyone even knew he'd been knocked overboard.

His plight, he knew, was hopeless, yet it was not in Captain Jack Sparrow to give up. The choppy water caused him to rise and fall like a cork as he tried to keep his head above its cold embrace. And the wood sat like a giant sword in his shoulder, stealing his energy as quickly as the cold water did. Yet with two good legs and one good arm, he began to swim after his ship. He had the thought that some fortunate hunk of wood from one of the ships might have been blown into the water with him.

He couldn't see much now except for the flashes of cannon fire from the two ships as they continued to pull away form him. The sound of the cannon fire echoed over the water, blown by the fast winds. It was so damned cold. He wondered how such a tropical place could get so cold.

He began to realize things were slowing down. His arms. His legs. His mind. He wanted to close his eyes, but then it would be over, so he tried to force them open, but things were growing darker and darker and there wasn't much left to see. He could feel himself shivering. That was a good sign, wasn't it? Then even that sensation was drawn from him, leeched away by the cold waters. He barely noticed the pain in his shoulder anymore.

The last coherent thought he had as he slipped beneath the waves was that everyone had been wrong. You could breathe water.

"Is he alive?" Captain Goves asked, leaning over his men to stare at the unmoving man they'd plucked from the sea.

Quist, the Marine Sergeant looked over his shoulder. Their eyes met. "He shouldn't be, sir."

"Let me see him," the ship's surgeon, Mr. Holmes demanded. Groves hadn't heard him come up. How had he known, he vaguely wondered.

As the drowned man's face came into the light a "I know him," escaped Groves' lips with the tone of surprise. He said no more, clamping his mouth shut. It was Jack Sparrow. The pirate.

Mr. Holmes, who was well under five feet in height, turned to Quist, who stood well over six feet in height, saying in a calm voice, "Mr. Quist, if you please, raise him up by the waist, face down." He demonstrated with empty hands, as the wind swirled his gray hair around his head like a halo.

"Aye, aye." Quist replied.

Groves watched still in numbed surprise as Quist handed his rifle off to the dripping wet sailor, Francis Cutter. The sailor had plucked their infamous guest from the sea with the help of a sling usually used to help officers from one ship to another.

Quist picked the unconscious pirate up under the waist, his two hands clenched together. Even wet, Jack didn't appear to weigh much to a man of Quist's size.

"Now heave up and down, knock the water from him," Holmes instructed. "Be careful of that wood sticking out of him." He waived a sailor carrying a lantern closer. Groves found himself leaning in closer, too. Jack looked so white in the pale light of the lantern.

Besides the sound of water dripping from Jack and his heroic rescuer, they all heard the sound of the charms and bangles the pirate wore in his hair. That and the wind, which was picking up speed.

"Again, Mr. Quist, if you please," Holmes instructed. The older man looked over at Groves with a glance that said the rescue might have been in vain.

Then Groves heard Jack cough as water poured from his mouth and nose. Theodore felt a release of tension in his own chest, a worried knot he'd not been aware of until that moment.

"Good work, Mr. Quist," Captain Groves complimented the Sergeant. "I want word of this to stay among the five of us. No one is to know who this person is or what he looks like."

"Aye, aye, sir." Quist was nothing if not a military man. He knew how to take and enforce an order.

"Now, Sergeant, since you are the largest of us, please carry him to my chartroom." Groves instructed. "We can turn the table into a bed." He looked around. "Where's my steward?"

"Here, sir," came the voice of Jamie Trustwall. It was Jamie who held the lantern, Groves realized belatedly.

"Good," Groves nodded. "Jamie, please get a mattress from one of the officer's beds and bring it to the chart room at once."

"On my way, sir," Jamie said. He handed the lantern to Dr. Holmes and rushed into the darkness.

Rumbling thunder rolled across the sea, followed by a flash of lightning. The first drops of what promised to be a healthy storm began to fall.

Quist turned their sputtering guest over and stood up, holding the man like a child in his arms. "Quickly now," Holmes instructed. "The fellow's going to get pneumonia out here. Blasted weather."

With Groves in the lead, they headed towards the captain's cabin and on to where Jamie was already unrolling a mattress across the map table in an alcove referred to as the chart room. In a larger ship of the line, it might actually be a room, but in ships of this size, the alcove sufficed.

"Good Lord, it's a miracle you spotted him in this darkness," Holmes said as they walked into the welcoming dryness of the cabin.

"I saw him fall overboard," Groves admitted. "I did my best to keep my eye on him. He saved my life once, but that's another story." He watched Holmes move to his patient, and turned to unlock a cabinet.

Like most navy vessels, the H.M.S. Resolute carried rum under lock and key. The captain's cabin was no exception. Rum could be as dangerous as a loaded pistol in the hands of sailors.

Pulling a bottle from the cabinet, Groves relocked it and went to stand behind Dr. Holmes. He watched as the doctor skillfully cut away Jack's coat and shirt, careful not to snag the piece of wood sticking out.

"Here," Captain Groves handed the bottle of rum to Holmes. The older man nodded.

"Come on, lad," Holmes said, putting one arm behind Jack's head.

"His name is Thomas," Theodore Groves lied easily. The man's life was at stake. "Thomas Wells."

"Quist, could you aid me again?" Dr. Holmes said, gesturing for him to lift Thomas' head.

No one in the room believed for a moment that this was Thomas Wells. They had all heard of Captain Jack Sparrow, and if the hair and braided beard wasn't enough to tell him by reputation, the branded "P" on his right forearm topped by the tattoo of a sparrow flying over water certainly was.

"Here, lad." Holmes tipped the bottle slowly into Jack's mouth.

Licking his lips, Jack tried to take a sip. He was rewarded with a renewed fit of coughing and sputtering. "That's good," Dr. Holmes said patiently. "Drink a little more. You're going to need this."

Jack whispered something. Holmes leaned closer, then laughed.

"What did he say?" Theodore asked.

"Mother's milk," Dr. Holmes chuckled. "Come on now, drink some more."

Still having difficulty, Jack managed a few mouthfuls between coughs.

"We could use a bed warmer, Mr. Trustwall," Dr. Holmes said politely.

"Aye, aye, sir." Jamie answered softly from behind Theodore.

"And more blankets. And bandages," Dr. Holmes called.

"I think Francis deserves a sip of this, too," Captain Groves said, turning to look for the sailor. He stood still wet and dripping in the corner, apparently afraid of getting his captain's carpet wet.

"Come here, Francis. Have a drink to warm you up." Captain Groves pulled a mug from a hook and filled it with rum. "You are a brave man," he told the sailor, handing him the mug.

"To your health and to that of Mr. Wells," Francis said, a lopsided grin on his face. He drank the rum with a steady hand.

"Mother of God!" came Jack's gravely voice from the makeshift bed.

"Quist, I think you'll have to hold him down," Holmes said evenly.

"What are you doing?" Theodore asked. Jack looked positively bleached.

"I was just probing the wound, sir," Dr. Holmes said, yet his tone relayed the patience of a man who'd seen many years and answered the silly questions of many young officers.

"I've got 'im, sir," Quist said. He was leaning over Jack's head, holding his arms down with one huge hand on each upper arm.

"Mr.Wells," Dr. Holmes said slowly. "This is going to hurt. It must come out, the sooner the better, and when I pour the rum on it, it's going to hurt even more. Feel free to pass out."

"How kind of you t'give me permission," Jack's speech came out slurred from between his chattering teeth.

Grove's eyes narrowed. Jack's entire body was shivering.

"Do we have anything leather he can bite down on?" Holmes looked around. "An old belt?"

Theodore nodded and went to his chest. He had an old baldric too tattered to wear, now that he'd made captain. He pulled it from the back of the chest, and handed it over to Holmes.

"Now, just bite this, lad." Holmes pressed the leather between Jack's chattering teeth.

Wildly, Jack looked up and for the first time his gaze locked with Theodore's. Recognition flared, then Holmes moved between them. Jack let out a muffled cry, despite the leather in his mouth, and his entire body stiffened, then went limp.

A few moments later, Holmes dropped a hunk of wood on the floor, then urged Quist to release his patient and hold the lantern closer to the wound.

Like most men of his occupation, Captain Groves had seen men injured in battle, but it had not strengthened his ability to observe such injuries with impunity. His stomach clenched and he felt bile rise to his throat as he saw the bloody piece of wood that could have been lethal if it has strayed just a few inches towards Jack's heart.

Groves saw Jamie return in silence with blankets and a bed-warmer. My bed- warmer, he noticed dully. Then he made the mistake of looking over at Jack. Blood was welling from where the wood had been and Dr. Holmes looked hard set to stop the tide with his bare hands.

"I think we'll need my bag and a brazier with a hot fire," Dr. Holmes' voice was as calm as ever. "Mr. Quist, maybe you can help Jamie and speed things up a bit."

The blue-eyed Sergeant nodded and went to assist Jamie with carrying one of the heavy wrought-iron braziers up from the galley.

"I'll get yer bag, doc," Francis offered, taking off behind Quist and Jamie.

"Good men," Dr. Holmes said, his eyes turning back to his patient.

"He's a good man, too," Theodore told Holmes, his eyes going to Jack.

"I know. The tales go around the ship every time a new man comes aboard."

Theodore sighed. "We have to get rid of the hair. And the beard, if we're to pass him off as anyone other than who he really is."

"Well, as ship's surgeon I'm qualified to shave him and cut his hair," Dr. Holmes smiled, his hands still pressed against the wound. "We'll have him fit and clean in no time."

"That I will enjoy seeing." Groves turned away from the blood, picked up the rum bottle and took a swig.

Mercifully, Jack did not regain consciousness that night. Dr. Holmes cauterized the wound with the long thin metal rods he'd bought in Paris for just such an occasion. He and the captain had a drink with Sergeant Quist and Francis, then the bottle was locked away and once again Dr. Holmes and Captain Groves were alone with the pirate.

"It's time for Jack Sparrow to die and Thomas Wells to be born," Holmes announced as he dug into his bag. He pulled out two pairs of scissors, a very small delicate pair, and a heavier pare. "I think his head, first."

"We can save his baubles," Groves said, feeling just a slight sadness at what they were about to do; rob the man of his identity. But give him a chance to live at the same time, he reminded himself. "I have a little box somewhere."

He went to dig through the drawers built below the windows that ran across the rear of his cabin. Even over the roaring of wind and sea, he could hear the scissors working away. He found a comb and brush, too. He came back with them. He stopped a few feet away and watched as Dr. Holmes, as careful as he was with all things, touched and felt through Jack's hair. He gently separated the free hair from the elflocks, then cut them, pulling the strings of beads lose almost tenderly.

"A good wash will do him wonders, I imagine," Holmes chuckled. "We'll need some hot water. I'll go get my shaving kit and a pot of water. We can boil it here over the brazier they brought in."

Holmes left and Theodore was alone with Jack. He pulled a chair up a few feet away from the makeshift bed and watched Jack sleep. He already looked different with his hair only a few inches long and rather uneven at that. But he was breathing, which was more to say than we he was brought aboard all waterlogged.

The rain was lashing the windows of the cabin and everything outside was black as only a night at sea during a storm could get. The lightning and thunder had long ago rolled past, and they were left with the gale force winds and rain coming down in torrents.

Stretching his legs out, Theodore remembered back to the time Jack had saved his life. He was still a Lieutenant then, already impressed with Jack's skills as a crafty pirate. He smiled to himself. He thought he was a goner when the Frenchman pulled a gun on him. He would never play cards in a New Orleans whore house again, he promised himself. Which was not to say he wouldn't frequent one again. He and Jack, as it happened, went back to the same business two weeks later and they both got merrily drunk and raised toasts to one another's health until dawn.

The sound of a brief knock a the cabin's door was followed by Holmes' face coming out of the shadows.

"It must be getting late," Groves said, sitting up.

"Nearly midnight," Holmes informed him. He set the end of his shaving strap over one of the hooks on the wall used to hold cups and mugs, and set a small kettle to boil on the brazier. He then used the strap to sharpen his straight razor.

He had brought a mug and a bar of shaving soap, and once steam was rising from the kettle, he poured it into the mug and used a brush to whip it into a lather. He poured the rest into a bucket that was half-filled with fresh water.

First he used the bar of soap on Jack's already wet hair and scalp, then he rinsed it thou roughly with the bucket of water.

Sitting down beside Jack, Holmes used the smaller scissors to ship away as much of the facial hair as he could manage, including the braids dangling from his chin. Next came the white frothy lather, then Groves watched with mild curiosity as the good doctor shaved his patient. From where he sat, he could only see Holmes' back and hear the scraping of blade over whisker in a rhythmic cadence.

"Done," Holmes announced, wiping the last of the soap from Jack's face. "I must say, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes."

"See what?" Groves ask. He must have nodded off, because he didn't remember much after Holmes had started to shave Jack."

"Well, look at him." Holmes stepped aside, gesturing to Jack's face.

Blinking, Groves stood and went closer. It was unbelievable, but clearly it must be the same man. Yet this one had the face of a choir boy with pouting full lips and lashes thick enough to please any young lady. High cheekbones curved down into a fine chin and without the head scarf to hide his eyebrows, and hair to disguise his face, Theodore realized Jack looked no older than twenty-five and quite handsome, even pale as he was.

"That is truly Thomas Wells," Groves announced. "No one would believe it was the same person. No one. I have mufti around here somewhere, but I think it would be rather large on him."

"And mine would be small. But we still have the clothes from Reverend Morehouse, do we not, sir?"

Reverend Morehouse had been a passenger of the H.M.S. Resolute nine months ago. A missionary out to save the heathens of the Colonies. The Reverend had succumbed to a fever and died before ever reaching those he was so intent upon saving. He had left no address to which they might send his effects, so they were still aboard.

"Yes, they will do nicely," Groves nodded, still sleepy.

"Shall I stay up with him, sir?" Holmes asked.

Looking into the older man's eyes, Groves shook his head. "He should be fine. I don't think he's strong enough to get out of bed, little alone do harm to anyone tonight."

"Then I bid you goodnight, Captain." Holmes inclined his head, gathered his belongings, and left, softly shutting the door behind him.

Theodore moved once more to study Jack. It was quite remarkable, he kept telling himself, that such an innocent face hid beneath the guise of the Caribbean's most notorious pirate.

Exhaling Theodore began to change into his night shirt. There would certainly be rumors on board circulating like busy bees by morning. Even though only five of them had gotten a good look at Jack, more knew someone had been rescued from the sea. It would be a worthwhile exercise for him to create a history for Jack's new persona.

Then it struck Theodore. What was he going to do with Jack? He couldn't just let him go. Or could he? All things considered, on their current mission to hunt down the Captain of the Muratania, they could be at sea for weeks. His best way of handling Jack was to make sure the pirate understood his life and Theodore's career were at stake. Jack would have to watch every word and never, never smile. Not with those infamous gold teeth.

Lowering the wick on the lamp, Theodore got into bed, but rolled onto his side so he could look into the chart room. Jack slept fairly quietly, despite the dramatic rolling of the ship in the storm. Good. Tomorrow he would start his new life.