Disclaimer: Once upon a time there was a poor wanna-be writer who borrowed characters from other people, played with them for a while, then quietly handed them back without ever making any profit from them. And, whether happily or unhappily I cannot say, they all lived ever after.
"So you're staying with Jack, then," Elizabeth said. It wasn't a question, nor was it a judgment of any sort. It was merely a statement, intended to draw more information from her friend.
"I've signed into the crew of the Black Pearl," Gwen answered amiably, avoiding mentioning Jack in her reply. Not intentionally, really, but merely because in her mind, she didn't consider Jack to be the primary reason she was staying. Her informal role as his consort was just a part- albeit a relatively important part- of the bigger whole of the Pearl itself, and a life at sea.
Elizabeth merely fixed her with a look- the sort of look people tend to give to others when they discern something about someone that that person isn't really aware of on their own.
Gwen just smiled, oblivious to the true nature of the look Elizabeth was giving her. If there were anything she really regretted about taking to the life she'd chosen, it was that Elizabeth- the only real female friend she'd had outside her mother's companionship in her childhood- wouldn't be in it as much as she would have had Gwen elected to try roughing it as a governess or some form of wage-earner here in Port Royal. Elizabeth lived an honest life on land (though rumors of her and her husband's association with pirates did besmirch her reputation in the eyes of some souls on the island). On the other hand, the world Gwen had been initiated into was one with its own code of what was respectable and decent, and consisted of the seven seas.
"We'll certainly be back to see you before too long. To see your baby," Gwen reassured her friend.
Elizabeth couldn't help but smile in maternal appreciation of the reference to her beloved, though yet unborn, child. But she didn't miss the "we" in Gwen's statement. Somehow, she didn't think Gwen was referring to the entire crew of the Pearl. Just herself and Jack.
Elizabeth wasn't naïve or blind. What Gwen casually avoided acknowledging, Elizabeth could still discern in her words and her friend's body language. She knew well enough, had noticed, that Gwen and Jack had become lovers at some point before or during the return trip to Port Royal, even if neither of the two would admit to any emotional bonds (or even the physical ones).
"Gwen," she said then, in the solicitous, compassionate tone of one sharing advice of a significant nature, "you know, there are methods of… avoiding… Well, it's just a matter of following the rhythm, to know when and when not to… indulge." She gestured toward her own stomach at the word "when," then swept her hand toward Gwen at "when not."
Considering the overall train of their conversation thus far, Gwen couldn't fathom what Elizabeth was trying to tell her. Rhythm? When not to "indulge"? Indulge in signing onto a ship? That was what they had just been talking about, wasn't it?
"Indulge?" Gwen repeated, bewildered.
"You know," Elizabeth said, nodding significantly, "in… activities."
"Stop talking in code!" Gwen exclaimed, a little more forcefully than she had intended. She smiled her apologies, asking more lightly, "Activities?"
"With Jack," Elizabeth clarified, placing a hand pointedly on her own gently rounded tummy, the evidence of her own "indulgences" with her husband.
Gwen felt the color flowing into her cheeks. Elizabeth knew.
"Rhythm," she repeated dubiously after a moment, determinedly acting as nonchalant and business-like about her affair as Elizabeth was.
"Your body has a rhythm," Elizabeth said simply, dropping her voice conspiratorially. "An old mystic taught me the last time we went off with Jack last year and stopped by her haunts…" She went on to explain, rather explicitly, the fertility signs Gwen was to watch for.
Gwen only smiled her thanks for the caution and advice, uncertain about how to respond to Elizabeth's practicality and thoughtfulness. In truth, she'd never given thought to the very likely possibility of her conceiving and all of the difficulties it would present not only to herself, but to Jack and even the crew of the Pearl as well. Elizabeth was a married woman with a stable domestic life and a desire to have children with the man she loved. Gwen was not.
"Well. You and he will be leaving Port Royal this afternoon, I would assume," Elizabeth said in a normal voice. "So as long as you're here, we can at least find you some more suitable attire for sailing and working."
"Land ahead! Tortuga!"
Faces turned upward at Gwen's cry as the crewman on deck heeded her shout. The men cheered and exchanged gleeful grins with each other. Jack, at the helm, grinned up at her, the sunlight catching his golden teeth and making them gleam.
Gwen smiled back, pleased and content.
The crew as a whole had long since accepted her as a worthy enough companion. Now, though, she was thought of much more highly and more often. She was their pet.
Rarely did any landed person just decide to go become a pirate. All of the Pearl's crew (with the exception of Gwen now, of course) could point to at least something of a nautical background. Most had had more than ample experience on merchant ships, military vessels, or at least fishing boats. Piracy had been the alternative for them as each found he didn't want to bother or simply couldn't cut it within the confines of an "honest" marine life.
But Gwen, now… Not only was she a woman, a novelty they had only just become accustomed to seeing about the ship, she was inexperienced. She knew relatively nothing about the sea other than that she liked it quite a lot- had come to love it, really. Her freshness in this regard charmed them and reminded them of their own love for the sea.
And so she had become the crew's pet. While there were some doubtful ones (Gibbs in particular was heard to express from time to time that it "weren't right" for women to be sailors), most eagerly jumped at the chance to help train Gwen.
Gwen knew she was being patronized. But rather than become indignant at their sudden fuss, she just put on her best naïve-face, which seemed to charm the crew all the more. Every time she learned a new "trick"- some feat of securing a sail or tying a line off with the correct knot- it was celebrated with high-risk card tournaments and singing of bawdy songs and other such encouragements that the crew liked to find excuses to indulge in anyway.
Once or twice already since they'd left Port Royal, the captain's (and thus Gwen's) evening meal-tray had included a sweet cake-like concoction. While Jack was laughing at the cook's odd notions of giving treats to the crew's pet, she had said nothing. Instead, while he was distracted by his own joviality, she had happily consumed both her own cake and the portion that had been clearly intended for Jack (for good measure) and then washed it all down with a gulp of his rum. When he'd turned back to her, she'd simply smiled and shrugged, feigning ignorance as to why the men were treating her so like a spoiled toy-animal.
"Ye've got them all wrapped up 'round that little finger, luv," Jack had observed then. "If I'd known ye were going to start takin' run of me ship, I'd've not let ye sign."
Gwen had only smiled coquettishly. "I can't help it. Men will be men. …Could you get this? I must have knotted it too tight."
Jack had complaisantly unknotted the laces of her blouse for her, oblivious to Gwen's amused grin…
Gwen smiled at the memory now as she watched Tortuga draw closer and closer. During her "training" thus far, Jack and the crew at large had been pleased to discover she had a particularly sharp eye. Coupled with the fact that, in trousers rather than a skirt, she could climb about with an astounding grace and agility not available in the ungainly forms of the majority of the men, Gwen's keen eye had landed her in the crow's nest during many of her "formal" duty-hours.
Hence her current post atop the ship, watching Tortuga slowly creep closer and closer over the surface of the water. Well. Dared she sample the chaos and debauchery tonight? Hmm…
"And then they made me their chief," Jack said, after another compulsory gulp of his rum. The faces around him, some familiar, some total strangers, grinned impiously at his tale. Whether or not they really heard or understood every word that was said, through all the alcohol muddling both the speaking and hearing ends of communication, wasn't important. Really, it was a part of the ritual involving bar-tales. If they were always told and remembered accurately, even the greatest of Jack's own adventures would become old hat, especially considering how often the tales were retold by others.
So Jack merely reflected the same half-drunken smile back at them all, draining his mug.
With the emptying of his tankard, his mind too became a void and he couldn't recall whether he had intended to tell another anecdote or simply let his last settle in. While he briefly considered the matter, though, another man began a tale, a relatively dull one about the conquest of single-masted ship that Jack had already heard before. Instead, then, Jack busied himself by pretending to listen as he tried to catch the attention of a tavern-girl so he wouldn't actually have to get up and go to the bar for more rum.
Finally earning a wink of acknowledgement from a passing female server, Jack leaned around the lass perched on his lap to thump his empty mug down on the table to wait for it to be exchanged with a new, full one. As he did so, shifting the girl's weight back into one arm while he leaned around the other direction, in a cool move requiring no thought or conscious effort, she giggled.
The sound made him aware, really aware, of her presence for the first time that night. It didn't seem strange at all to him to have a woman roosting on his knee, cooing and twittering and doing her wicked best to subtly tempt him into bed, to earn herself a few shillings for the night. He drank and laughed and swapped stories and ill-mannered jokes and sang and did all manner of things with the ladies of the night hanging about him or sprawling over his lap, and he scarcely ever gave conscious thought to their presence until he decided to follow one to an upper room.
Now, though, Jack found that giggle strangely rather irritating.
He quickly forgot the annoyance, though, when his fresh tankard of rum came. Flipping a coin at the woman who brought it, he downed a gulp of it and turned his attention back to an older pirate telling a tall tale about how he and his crewmates had defeated a giant sea-creature on a voyage in his youth.
The girl casually turned to beam at Jack then, in what was surely intended to be a particularly fetching smile. He smiled back at her, his usual devilish grin with golden teeth glinting, though there was something, perhaps in the way the corners of his mouth didn't quite pull back far enough- something, anyway, that made the smile seem withheld somehow. Jack wondered briefly if the lass looked familiar or not… had he perhaps slept with her once or twice? It was hard to keep track. But if he had… or even if he hadn't… well, had she always had that much bright rouge staining her cheeks?
Just then, as was wont to happen in any bar, but especially in the sort of taverns abundant in Tortuga, a scuffling trio of drunken brawlers careened through the loose drinking-party Jack was currently part of. The group was scarcely affected at all by the interruption, and the drinkers kept drinking while the story-teller kept telling. The wench in Jack's lap squirmed a bit though, as she tried to avoid swinging fists and limbs as the fighters tumbled past, twisting a bit uncomfortably on top of him for Jack's current taste.
"Easy on the goods, luv," Jack said in her ear then, so she could hear. He accompanied the words with a light but insistent shove at her back, a not-very-subtle hint that she get up.
She gave him what was apparently supposed to be a hurt look as she stood, but the expression seemed empty and completely failed to catch Jack's attention. No matter, of course; the whore quickly found herself another man to haunt.
Jack knocked back another swallow of his rum and licked his lips, about to comment on a non sequitur made by the current story-teller. In the next instant though, his intended remark changed to a surprised protest. Not only was there another wench parked on his lap now, she had snatched his tankard right from his hand!
In a flash, he'd snatched it back, though not fast enough to prevent half of the remaining precious liquid from being gulped down by the usurper, and with his other hand he tried to oust the offending lass from her perch.
In the very next instant, though, he recognized the way his hand automatically settled comfortably at the girl's hip, and he met the familiar brown eyes.
Gwen simply smiled down at him.
…And found herself forced up onto her feet again in the next instant. Jack finished off his rum, nodded and grinned at his drinking-companions as they smiled knowingly at him and offhandedly sized up his apparent "choice" for his evening "entertainment." Then Jack pulled Gwen along after him, loosely grasping her wrist.
As soon as they were out on the street, Jack leading her in the general direction of the docks, Gwen looked up at him, thinking she must have timed her arrival at just the wrong time. Not necessarily the wrong time, really, she thought, smiling in spite of herself. She guessed he must have been feeling particularly libidinous just as she had come in. Hence the immediate departure. Though she convinced herself she believed Jack was free to do as he wished, still, she had taken note of the girl that had been on his lap when she entered the bar a few minutes before she actually approached Jack.
In fact, she was close to the real reason for Jack taking her out so quickly, but hadn't quite nailed it. The trouble was she had arrived not as just a female companion when he was aroused (which, incidentally, he wasn't particularly feeling at just that moment), but as an obviously better one at just the moment he had begun to wonder if all the rouge and twittering was really necessary in a lover. And Jack was uneasy about admitting that any one woman could claim such a monopoly over him. It didn't seem right in his mind somehow.
Jack turned loose of Gwen's wrist, snaking his arm around her waist instead. It was a sign to the other men carousing openly on the streets that this one was his. Of course, such claims were usually open for debate, and debates were usually carried out in the form of blows and punches, and often with the assistance of blunt weapons. Still, though, the pair was mostly left alone. Those who recognized Captain Sparrow thought twice about trying to steal his wench from him. And those who didn't quite recognize Jack did manage to recognize Gwen, or more accurately, at least recognize in a general sense what she wasn't. She looked too clean-cut to be a worthwhile whore, but too sly to be an easy target. So she and Jack were largely undisturbed as they walked.
However, when they reached the shore-side edge of town, Jack took her not toward the docks, but along the beach. She walked along with him without complaint or question, until finally he stopped just down the beach from immediate proximity to all the ships and pedestrians and buildings. For a long moment he said nothing, looking lost in thought.
Then, exhaling and then inhaling deeply as though dispelling some funk or mood, he said, "Nice night. It's brisk, but my nipples aren't hard."
Gwen had been into a couple or three taverns before alighting in the one Jack had currently been in. She'd sipped from a few drinks over the course of the evening, bought for her by hopeful sailors. While she had been careful not to get drunk, especially considering her size and the fact that she didn't have the tolerance of a long-time drinker, still, she was feeling a bit warm, especially in… particular regions of her body.
"I can fix that for you," she said at Jack's offhand comment, grinning wantonly up at him.
Jack merely stared down at her, a retort caught on his tongue before he could speak it. He had been about to reply to her suggestion when he had realized how easily it came, exchanging jesting comments and observations and even light-hearted insults with her. The same sort of enjoyment that… well, that he hadn't ever gotten from any of his female partners before. Not even the ones he'd had willing, unpaid affairs with. The same sort of banter he'd seen and heard Will and Elizabeth exchange.
"Damn you, Gwen," Jack said at length, vague irritation and something unidentifiable coloring his tone. He followed word with mismatched action, bending slightly to press his lips against hers. Lips quickly parted and tongues warred. Jack hugged her hips against his, deepening his tongue's thrusting into her mouth to compensate for the thrum that surged through him at the sensation of her pressing up against his growing arousal.
After a minute or two, Gwen pulled away from him slightly. She licked her lips, a thoughtful look on her face in the wane moonlight and the glow from the city as she tasted their rum-flavored kiss.
"Damn you, too," she said lightly. She met his eyes and held them for a moment, both of them silently daring the other to try saying something more. But the silence held, and neither could help grinning their thankfulness at leaving that as it was.
Then her gaze wandered, drifting along his cheekbones, following his jaw down to the beard-braids, which she had freshly re-braided that very morning (she'd grown annoyed at the "bubbles" created by the continually-growing hair at the top of the braids and had done it for him), then to his mouth. He captured her lips again then, running his tongue across her bottom lip, as Gwen reached for his belt. A surprised "mmm" growled from the back of his throat, though, when her hands grabbed not at his belt, but below. He squirmed involuntarily at her touch and broke the kiss. He glanced around at the ground then, seeing it in a light he hadn't quite been considering just a few minutes before. Sand was just fine for feet, but for sweat-slicked bodies…
"Come, luv," he grunted. Gwen brooked no argument, hurrying eagerly beside him back toward the docks.
As soon as the cabin door clicked shut behind her, Gwen found herself pinned against it. The cotton blouse and light skirt she wore when not climbing about the rigging were instantly invaded by wandering hands. Jack had her divested from them, along with her undergarments, in a matter of moments. Desperate not for equality in her nudity, but for fulfillment, she tugged at Jack's clothes. His sword and belt buckles clattered as they fell to the floor. His coat, vest, and shirt fell in heaps on the rug. Jack stepped out of his boots so she could slide his trousers off.
Gwen sucked in a sharp breath when she realized what he intended then, as he lifted her, wrapping her legs around his hips and bracing her back against the door.
Tunnel, a middle-age fellow, turned at the voice of his crew-mate. "What's what?"
"Don't ye hear that?"
"I be not deaf," Tunnel replied shortly. Seeing then that Ben wouldn't turn loose of the subject without getting an answer, he heaved a sigh and explained, "Cap'n come back a few minutes ago, whiles you were runnin' rounds down b'low."
"So what's that noise?" Ben asked, turning his ear to catch the sounds coming from below them where they stood near the helm. The light, muffled thumps came in a rhythmic pattern, accompanied by an occasional soft rattle of what sounded like a doorknob in its latch hole.
Tunnel couldn't help grinning lasciviously at the man. "Can't quite say. But Jack had the lass wi' him."
Ben grinned back. "All Tortuga's open t' him, and 'e's 'ere, wi' her. Been wond'rin' if she'd trapped 'im yet."
Neither of them spoke a word for a moment. When the muted rattle-thump suddenly stopped, though, Tunnel cleared his throat. "Best we get back to our patrols," he said as though nothing had happened.
Ben nodded sagely, and the two moved off in separate ways, clamping down on their amused smiles.
Gwen unlocked her hands, where she had them clasped at the nape of Jack's neck, sliding them now open-palmed over his shoulders and down his chest as he slowly lowered her feet to the floor.
"Heavens, Jack," she breathed. "That was…"
"A nice beginning," Jack finished for her in a gravelly, low tone, pulling her body against his and capturing her lips once again.
"You pirates are never satisfied, are you?" Gwen teased as he scooped her up and carried her toward the bed.
"I hope not," Jack said, flashing his golden grin as he laid her down. "I've got a paper in that desk there, with yer signature, what says ye're a pirate too. And if what ye accuse is true…"
Gwen just laughed- a real laugh, not a flirtatious chirping giggle- and pulled at his arm to get him to join her on the bed. "If it's true, then you'd best stop playing around and get down here," Gwen said.
"When a woman woos," Jack said with a melodramatic air at the invitation, "what woman's son will sourly leave her till he have prevailed?"
The final line is from Shakespeare's 41st sonnet. It seemed very fitting. (Different copies of this sonnet seem to disagree on whether or not the last line reads "he have prevailed" or "she have prevailed." But whichever is correct, I can hardly imagine Jack admitting defeat to Gwen.)
A HUGE thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this work while it was in progress, and to those who continue to read and continue to review.
Thanks again to all of you.!
To all readers: It's tough getting all the characters to do the right things in the right places at the right times to produce a fanfic. It's almost like making a whole other movie, except with a lot fewer people, and a nonexistent budget, etc. When the author can get everything working, you get great fanfiction. And those times when the characters don't quite listen to the author... well, then you get something like this:
Outtakes and Bloopers Reel : Honest and Dishonest Men
Gwen stretched languorously as she awakened and groaned as her stomach reminded her that even after all this time, it still wasn't sure it liked being on the open sea. It was getting-
Jack strolled into the cabin, opened all the drawers of her vanity table one at a time until he found a bottle of rum, and then he turned and strolled right back out again.
Gwen blinked in surprise. "Cut! Jack!"
Gwen hung on to the rope as she swung out, the world a whirl of sea and sky and deck and sail, Graymere and Black Pearl. When she suddenly lost her grip, she was both surprised and dismayed to find that her left foot was tangled in the rope. She frowned as the rope swung her, pendulum-fashion, upside down, in smaller and smaller arcs, until she was finally hanging nearly still, suspended over the two ships by her foot.
"Jaaaaackkk! Get me down from here! I hate this bloody rope scene. Where's the writer? I'll kill her."
"Welcome aboard the Black Pearl," Jack said cheerfully, and then turned (and swayed heavily toward one side as he did so), flinging his hands up in the air. "Lock her up in the brig!" he shouted to his men as he staggered along toward the helm.
"The brig! I thought I said- er… I thought you said you're not, I'm- not of any use… blast… What do you do with a drunken sailor, after all?"
"Shave his balls with a rusty razor," offered Ben.
"Or put him in bed with the captain's daughter. I saw it done once. Captain near-about killed him, but the girl didn't complain."
"Miss Webster… Captain wants yeh to dine with 'im."
Gwen stretched, then reached to grip the bars of her cell in the brig to pull herself to her feet. A resounding clang echoed through the hold as she knocked her head against the bars. "Oww! Cut!"
There was a knock on the door. The cook, no doubt, with the evening's meal. Jack made a noise that sounded very much like a grunt, and the door swung open in response.
"Pizza's here! Did you want cheese or pepperoni, Mr. Sparrow?"
Jack leaned over the table, opened the window, and chucked the bottle of brandy at it. And jumped back as it shattered on the window frame.
Jack chucked the bottle of brandy out the window. And jumped back as the window shattered.
Jack leaned over the table, opened the window, and paused to look at the bottle of brandy. Very slowly and carefully, he tried to simply drop it out the window, but couldn't seem to maneuver it through the window frame, even though the window was a quite a bit larger than the glass bottle. He turned around, holding the bottle in one hand and scratching his jaw with his other hand.
"Give me the bloody bottle, Jack," Gwen said. "I'll throw it out the window. You're too drunk."
"I'll throw you out the... the thing. An' tha's Captain Window."
Jack stared at the compass disbelievingly, looked up at Gwen, then back at the compass.
"What is it?" she asked, bewildered.
"It's… it's my Superman compass. I thought the East India Trading Company took it from me, but it was right here, all this time… And I was worried that I was going to have to eat another two hundred boxes of Really Bad Eggs ® and send in for another one. Wow… 2-D cape action and everything…"
"What are ye doing?" Jack bellowed into the mayhem. "What are ye doing to me-" THUD! "Ow!"
He slowly got to his feet, rubbing his head. "Who's the bloody idiot that spilled all the soap water? No shore leave for you, buddy."
"So where are we going now?" Gwen asked.
"To shore," Jack said with a smirk.
There was a long silence. Gwen watched the little waves in the water as Jack rowed them to shore.
"'And after that'," Jack hinted softly.
"Oh," Gwen said. "After that, you'll lash me to a tree, rip my dress to shreds, ravish me, and have your filthy way with me."
"And after that?" Jack asked, playing along with the line mix-up.
"I'll probably beg you to do it again."
"And after that?"
"I'll have the writer come up with another line for you to say here."
"And after that?" Jack snickered.
"I'll probably have to fight you off of me."
"And after that?"
"You'll be looking for a surgeon to sew your left nut back on."
"And after that?" Gwen asked.
"You'll probably beg me to do it again, " Jack said with a grin.
"Why, because you're not man enough to get the job done the first time?" Gwen shot back.
As it happened, the Turners were just discussing how long it had been since they had last seen their errant pirate friend as they-
Jack wandered into the room, crossed to a portrait of Elizabeth's father, took it off the wall, and reached into a hidden compartment behind it. He brought out a bottle of rum, then finally seemed to notice the Turners staring at him.
"Oh. Sorry. Er… Go back to the part where ye're discussing me, savvy?" he suggested as he scurried back out of the room.
Gwen and Elizabeth were visiting with each other in the maproom, sharing tales of-
Suddenly a loud snore followed by a groan came from the floor at the far end of the room. Jack pulled himself to his feet, clutching a bottle of rum. Mumbling something that sounded like "Quidditch," he nodded at the ladies as he crossed waveringly to the door and left.
"Oy, Cap'n, up ye goes," came a voice from the dark, complete with a set of arms.
"Whaddaya mean, 'up I goes'? I'm already up."
"Yeh're supposed to be down," came a second voice.
"Why would I be down?" Jack asked.
"Well, ye're supposed to 'ave fell over 'ere, an' we help yeh to yer cabin," explained the first.
"Why would I be 'fell over'?"
"Yeh're supposed to be drunk."
"Wait a min- I'm supposed to be drunk?"
"I'll be back."
Jack turned up a bottle of rum.
A middle-aged man hurried up to him. "No, Mr. Sparrow," he said, taking the rum from him.
Jack started to protest.
"Here," the man said, putting it carefully back into his hand. "You see? Can't have the brand name showing like that. We didn't bother with royalties, this is fan fiction after all, no budget. K, cut! Let's try it again, from the top!"
Gwen's jaw dropped as she saw the sheer number of empty bottles lying around him.
He started and turned glassy eyes on her. "Aye?"
"Where's all the rum?"
"Don't play stupid, Jack. Why's the rum gone?"
"Funny thin', that," Jack said slowly. "It, uh- It was brod- bloody arful… awfur… not good! We got raided-ed... -ed. They drunk it all, right 'ere in fron'-a me!"
"Right in front of you? And you didn't even try to stop 'Them' from drinking it right in front of you?"
"They were… naked," he explained, still speaking slowly to try to hide his slurring speech. "Naked women," he added quickly. "I coulden refuse them."
Gwen rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Jack, that rum was supposed to last through the end of the story, and you've drunk it all in one day."
"Lots of naked women."
"Jack..." Gwen heaved an exasperated sigh.
"In fact, ye may have been one of them," Jack went on.
"Somebody find the caterer and tell him to get some more rum- and this time, hide it better!"
"I think ye were probably several of them, in fact. Do you have a bri- birch- mirthbark on your-"
"One more word, Jack, and you'll be drinking tea for the rest of the story."
Jack stared, dumbfounded, at the group of men struggling to light a fire in the center of the main deck.
"What the hell are ye doing?"
"We figured after we sing 'A Pirate's Life for Me' a time or two, we'll go into a few rounds of 'Kum Ba Yah.' And then, after that, Smithy's nicked some marshmallows and chocolate bars for us and we can tell stories and… What? Where are you going? Bring back graham crackers!"
"Well, let's see," Elizabeth said. Her eyes grew distant as she tried to recall the list of crimes that had been read aloud at Jack's unsuccessful execution a couple of years back. "Piracy, of course. Smuggling. Arson. Looting. Poaching. Sailing under false colors. Sailing under the influence. Docking in a no-docking zone…"
Jack looked at his mug of water, then looked at Gwen's turned back. If he was smooth, he could give himself a quick cold shower and then play it off as an accident. He eyed Gwen carefully once more, then turned back to his water. The water-mug poised over sternum, he slowly began tilting the mug-
"What are you doing?"
Jack froze, raising his eyes to meet hers. He licked his lips and shifted his grip nervously on the mug. Then, suddenly, he began swinging it back and forth, sloshing water everywhere as he sang, "Ohhhhhh, i-dee di-dee di-dee di-dee, di-dee di-dee die!"
"…Attempting to sell the King himself at the on-water shopping center, Whee!-bay. Attempting to sell national landmarks on the black market. Um... Copyright infringement…"
Jack reached for a flag from the stack of "false colors" he kept folded on a shelf, intending to dry himself with it. He paused as he lifted something off the top of the stack, then he turned slowly and held it up for Gwen to see.
"What… is this?" he said with a leer, waggling his eyebrows suggestively at her.
Gwen's eyes widened and she squirmed when she saw the lacy red negligee he was dangling from his fingers. "It's... not your color?"
"…Offering candy to small children. Cutting line. Assaulting a little old lady who tried to help him across the street when he was drunk…"
"Where did you get the compass, Jack?" Gwen asked, turning the odd device over in her hands.
"I told ye, I got it from eating two hundred boxes of Really Bad Eggs ®."
"No, Jack, not the Superman compass… this one," she said, waving the enchanted, much more mature-looking compass in his face.
"Oh. Wal-Mart, probably."
"Tell me you got it from sea turtles," Gwen sighed. "It's in the script."
"I'm the captain, I give the orders here!"
"Where did you get this?" Gwen asked, fingering the compass.
"I don't know, it just says in the bloody script I'm supposed to carry it around. Go ask the author."
"Jack…" she groaned.
"For the hundredth time today, where did you freakin' get the damned compass?"
"I stole it from a man with no legs named Lucky who tried to gnaw off my arm but in the end just tried to give me an enema so I fled the country and seized a villa and sold it for an exorbitant price which is a large word that I don't know the meaning for do you want to go try on the negligee for me?"
"Is that a no?"
Gwen walked into the galley, looking for a good game of cards to while away a few hours.
"Hi-ya, Gwen," several men greeted her. "Pull up a chair, grab a needle."
Gwen stared, dumbstruck, at the large quilt spread over a table, around which the men were sitting. A broad, patterned skull graced the center of the intricate patchwork.
"I think I'll pass," she said slowly, backing toward the door.
"Suit yourself," one said, then turned back to his needlework. "So anyway, I told her if I was going to pay that much she was going to have to take it all off. I hate it when they leave those corsets on, it's like sleeping with a whale's ribcage…"
"…Purchasing forty gallons of drain-unclogger and fifty-three bottles of cough syrup at once…"
Jack picked a short, curly, dark hair from his teeth. He turned to Gwen. "Is this mine or yours?"
"Jack thinks the sun rises and sets just for him, too," Elizabeth observed.
"Not quite," Jack said impishly, reappearing at Elizabeth's shoulder. He clapped his hands twice, and the sun winked out.
"…Grand theft naval vessel…"
Jack's jaw dropped.
"When I left," he said haltingly, "there were six bottles of rum here. I come back, and there's a drunken wench."
"You wan' me to help yah find 'er, Jacques? She can' have got far."
"Did you just call me 'Jacques,' Gwen?"
"Not Jacques-Gwen. Jus' Jacques. Are you gonna drink th' rest o' that?"
"Somebody's home," Jack said in a low voice.
The door slowly swung open.
"Ah! Come to visit me, you have. The Force you have, the Force you need," said the little green Muppet.
Jack frowned. "The Force? As in Rum?" he asked after a moment.
The little green guy stared up at Jack, then looked around. "This isn't Dagobah, is it? Damn! Where's my travel agent?"
"…Sailing off from a Sail Station with paying…"
Jacobs exited the cabin, looking about at the mystical predawn world that surrounded him. There was something supernatural about that time of day, something that-
"Don' mind me." Jack knocked on a tree, opened a hidden door hinged into the wood, and pulled out three bottles of rum. "Go back to the bein' crazy, but thinkin' ye're okay part," Jack suggested as he tramped off down a trail with his find.
Gwen stared at all the treasure, running a string of pearls absently through her hand.
"One what?" she asked.
Jack held out a gold coin to her. He was eating something.
"They're chocolate," he explained, peeling the foil wrapper back a bit. "Oooh, candy necklaces!" he said, pulling the "pearls" from her hand. "I used to steal these from the girls when I was little…"
"…Shoplifting copious amounts of lumber and black paint from Ship Depot…"
"What is it, Jack?" Gwen panted, having come running at his bellow.
"My rum's gone!"
"You drank it all."
"But I had some stashed in the-"
"You drank it."
"What about the-"
"You drank it ten chapters ago."
"I drank some of it, and you drank the rest."
"Do we have any wine, at least?"
"While you were drunk, you decided to re-christen the Pearl again a couple dozen times. Broke every bottle we had on her hull."
"I think you used it to polish your sword while you were drunk."
"You hate brandy. And you threw all we had at the crew's feet, trying to make them riverdance."
"…Drunk in pub-lic. There're about nine-hundred-sixty-something counts of that. And that's… that's about it."