A New Life
Part 9

The Characters are owned by Disney – just playing.
Rated: PG for language and situations
Author's Note: Don't blame the beta-reader, I was again anxious to get it up and Pam only got the
first part of it.

The Commodore was very accommodating, Jack thought as he dressed for the dinner party. A
seaman had been sent to escort him to the Commodore's cabin. Translation: He couldn't climb those
bloody stairs again without help and everyone knew it.

Jack signed. Just tying the stock around his neck was difficult when his left arm refused to rise the
required distance. Obviously Seaman Amos Sterling would not know how to do it properly, so
Jack had to sit on the bed and lean into the little table to support his left elbow as he attempted the
job himself. Which should have been so easy. Which was difficult as hell.

It wasn't as if he hadn't suffered some amount of blood loss before. Those wicked, truly mad
butchers on Madagascar had nearly killed him with all the blood- letting when he had the fever a few
years ago. If he'd been in his right mind, he would have murdered them. Well, stabbed them, at the
very least.

Somehow the stock got nicely tied around his neck, though he suspected it was a little lop-sided.
He didn't care. He gestured to his coat and had young Amos help him into it, tight sleeves and all.
What sort of fashion was this, anyway? It had measly cuffs, almost no buttons. The previous owner
must have been stingy, or else his tailor was.

The last thing to do was comb his hair. He was reminded anew of his loss when he ran the comb
through his shorn locks. He missed all his dangly bits, the coins and trinkets of his traveling, a diary
really of his various adventures. But it was cut off now and he had to live with it. His face, too, had
been shaved clean, thanks to another visit from the Commodore's steward, Mr. Merribee. Jack felt
his face, cringing at the smoothness. How could he be a fierce pirate with a face as smooth as a
doxy's bottom?

"Ready, sir?" Amos asked hopefully. He'd been watching Jack's every move with interest, his
intensely blue eyes never leaving him.

"Tell me, Amos," Jack turned to face the younger man fully, "what do the crew know about me?"

A bright smile crossed Amos' tanned face. "That you is a spy, sir."

"So much for secrets," Jack mumbled. "Amos, you must tell them all I'm just a plain government
worker. Nothing glamorous. Understand?" He tilted his head to the side, watching the emotions
flee across Amos' face.

"Oh, aye, sir." Amos winked giving Jack a knowing look.

Jack rolled his eyes. "Let's get me to the Commodore's Cabin." He tapped his knuckles against
Amos' chest and headed out of his cramped quarters.

The stairs seemed even longer and higher than Jack remembered. He was winded after just a few
steps, and if it wasn't for Amos' arm around his waist, Jack would have stopped short. As it was,
when he got to the landing, he had to catch his breath and lean more heavily on Amos.

"Can we take a little rest?" His gaze went from Amos to the remaining stairs rising up towards the

"Aye. They say you killed that Dutch bastard. You and Captain Sparrow," his escort said in a

"One can only hope" Jack panted. "What do you know about Captain Sparrow, Amos?"

The expression on the man's face changed once again. "He's somethin' of a legend, 'e is. Not just
for his work on the water, if ye get me meaning." He gave another knowing wink.

"I don't follow." If not his piracy, what did the fellow mean?

Amos leaned in closer and whispered after looking left and right to make sure no one was close
enough to overhear them. "The ladies in the ports talk about ole Jack Sparrow."

Jack's heart lifted for the first time in days. "Really. Do tell."

A little giggle escaped Amos' lips. "The ladies, sir, they say the good Captain is quite the." He used
his hands in a vulgar gesture to demonstrate. "Quiet the pintle he has, sir." He continued to
demonstrate by holding his hands up. "Quite fortunate, 'e is."

Jack's brows rose only slightly. So they remembered him fondly, did the dear ladies of the ports?
Well, the feeling was mutual. "Come on, my good man. Let us climb this mountain before I give up
the ghost." He gestured with his eyes to the stairs.

His companions blue eyes opened hugely. "Yu'r not be dyin' on me, would ye, sir?"

"No, but I can wish." Jack threw his arm over the man's shoulders and they continued up the stairs.

Now that Jack had gotten Amos on to the subject of himself, although of course Amos didn't know
it, the young seaman continued, talking about Jack's exploits. They weren't quite as Jack
remembered them. There were dramatic bits that seemed to have slipped from his memory, but the
chatter helped him climb the stairs and soon they were entering the Commodore's Cabin and Amos
stopped talking abruptly.

Jack almost fell into a chair before anyone could offer it to him, his hands gripping the arms, his head
thrown back as he concentrated on breathing. His heart beat so hard and fast, Jack wondered if it
would leap out his mouth.

"Mr. Wells. Are you well?" The Commodore's voice held just the hint of concern.

Jack opened his eyes, not realizing he'd closed them, and looked up. Norrington appeared
concerned, with furrowed brows and the corners of his mouth turned down. Jack knew that look.
It was the look of disapproval he'd used on Jack the first time they met.

"I shall live." It was all Jack could manage to gasp out. Then, "Thank you."

"Some water," the Commodore held out a glass and Jack took it, gratefully drinking a few sips
between breaths.

"Thank you, again," he managed. "I'll be fine. Just a bit winded." He concentrated on speaking in
his Thomas Wells voice. When he was fatigued it was all too easy to forget who he was supposed
to be. His memory was suddenly flooded with the odd look on James' face earlier that day when
they had been up on deck. What had the Commodore seen just before Jack left to go back below
decks. His mind reeled at the possibilities and it suddenly hit him. His lips parted in something akin
to shock.

"I couldn't help but overhear your arrival." Norrington stood beside the chair. "I gather you were
discussing the exploits of Jack Sparrow."

"As it happens," Jack began, his mouth talking but his brain screaming at it to shut up, "I am more
familiar with him than many. You see, I had to impersonate him upon occasion, and the
impersonation had to be perfect, or I would lose my life." Well, that would explain to Norrington the
tattoo, if that was what he had reacted to on the deck. What else could it have been? James had
already seen the gold in his teeth. That curious look had to have been in response to the tattoo, Jack

"How intriguing." It was the mellifluous voice of the Commodore's lovely sister, Lady Catherine.
Odd that Jack hadn't noticed her until how. He looked beyond Norrington and saw that he was the
last to arrive for the dinner. Everyone had heard what he just said about impersonating Jack
Sparrow. Lovely.

He smiled weakly, nodding. Now he would have to come up with one hell of a story and his brain
was whirling away, throwing insults at his mouth for having breached the subject. His heart still
hammered away and all the jabbering did not help his breathing.

"James, the poor man needs some brandy," Lady Catherine chastised her brother.

"Good idea," Jack mumbled. He smiled at her and she seemed rather angelic, having made the
suggestion and standing with the light of the ships windows behind her. "Your kindness is much
appreciated," he managed to tell her.

Mr. Merribee handed Jack a glass of a brown liquid. Jack raised it to his lips, inhaled the sweet
scent of fine brandy, and took a tentative sip. The delightful burning sensation traveled from his
tongue down into his gut, and he sighed. "Thank you, Commodore, Lady Catherine." He raised the
glass to them before taking another sip. This was no cheap brandy. No the expensive stuff. His
opinion of the Commodore went up a notch.

"Wine, whiskey and brandy are known to have healing effects," Dr. Calvin joined the conversation.

"You don't say." That snively voice belonged to Gillett, Jack was sure of it, even though the man
appeared to be hidden behind the bulk of Dr. Calvin, who turned, revealing the bewigged officer.

"Oh, yes, I've seen dying men revive on a good alcohol," Pumpkin head continued.

Jack smiled pleasantly, realizing he was the only person seated. Everyone else stood clustered
around his chair. He sipped his drink, listening to their conversation, hoping they would forget his
indiscreet moment of fantasy.

"Dinner is served, sirs, madam," Mr. Merribee announced. He came forward to Jack, who raised a
quizzitive brow. "Sir, may I assist you?"

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Merribee." Jack allowed the man to help him stand.

Jack had studied Mr. Merribee quite thoroughly earlier, when the steward had shaved him. The man
was older than himself, a few inches shorter, but just as thin and wiry-muscled as Jack. He has wise
brown eyes and a bit of gray in his long hair and beard, the former neatly braided in a queue down
his back.

Once Jack was on his feet, another seaman who was serving table moved the chair Jack had been
sitting on up to the table, right at the Commodore's right hand, and Jack was forced to sit. He
wondered if the Commodore had even the slightest clue who sat beside him as he presided over the
dinner from the top of the mahogany table set with sterling silver and fine china.

It had been a while since Jack had shared a mean with genteel people. Once, when he
impersonated a Spanish Ambassador, he had learned to eat like a courtier. He knew what to do
with his the linen cloth beside his setting, and which fork to use, how to hold his utensils. But that
had been almost a decade ago. Therefore, he carefully watched the others, especially Lady
Catherine and Norrington and mimicked their actions.

Somehow, Jack made it half-way through the entrée, and all the way through his first glass of
brandy, before Mr. Gillett said, "Mr. Wells, you were telling us about the time you impersonated
Jack Sparrow. I pray you continue, for I am sure there is much amusement in this tale."

His eyes opening wide has he tried not to choke on the mouthful of bread and butter he'd just taken,
it was all Jack could do not to glare at the younger officer. Time to put on his Long Tales cap, he
told himself, smiling politely as he finished chewing and tried to swallow the suddenly dry bread.
This ought to be a good one.