+ This one is dedicated to my best friend of seemingly countless years (in the present and in past lives, I'm certain), Mollie Joy - she has been my steadfast supporter and, at times, my partner in crime (in name and in deed)… And she loves Johnny Depp almost as much as I do. I think writing a fic about his character gives me a little bit of an edge, don't you?? :P Molls, you are the Samwise Gamgee to my Frodo Baggins… you always make the burden a little lighter… ;) With a vengeance, babe!! Thanks! +

Disclaimer: Anything having to do with the movie Pirates of the Caribbean and/or its characters does not belong to me. Did you read that?? Does not belong to me! I'm just borrowing. So, no suing. Please. I do not have a million dollars, heck, I barely have just one! I'm a recent college graduate who writes for the sole purpose of enjoyment… and keeping the boredom, which often accompanies graduating and being poor and fairly jobless, at bay…

Summary: A brawl gone wrong steals more than just gold and the lives of a few good men. Captain Jack Sparrow loses more than he bargained for and must use everything in his power to see it returned to him… unharmed… (I'm purposely keeping the summary vague… you must read and review!)


The day after Captain Jack takes control of his Black Pearl

"Captain Sparrow, the Black Pearl is yours…" The remembered words rang through his slightly-fuzzy-from-the night-before head as Captain Jack Sparrow looked out of the corner of his eye at his new first mate. The celebrating the crew had done last night had left its mark on many a pirate this morning. But not his first mate… She sat at the helm of the unmoving ship, looking out from the anchored ship towards the Port Royal harbor. It was slightly past dawn and Jack had risen early since Will had said he'd be by the ship with his soon-to-be Mrs. Turner to see him off. Ah, dear William… Jack thought as he gently rubbed the slight burn around his neck where the hangman's rope had been. … the adventures we had… Jack grinned anew at the memories only to be interrupted by a clearing of a throat. His eyes went to Anamaria, who was watching him with dark, narrowed eyes as if contemplating the status of his sanity. He only grinned at her – which, naturally, caused her eyes to narrow further.

"I see your whelp's row coming this way," she said finally, pointing off to the right side of the ship. Jack turned, and there it was. The row-boat held three other passengers along with his friend. One wore petticoats and the other two wore bright, beaconing-red military coats.

"Ahhhhh, Will… such pleasant company you keep these days," Jack muttered as he stepped up to the railing. Ana stepped up to his side.

"Leading the redcoats right to us," she muttered herself. Jack looked over at her.

"Don't you trust our Will?" he asked. Ana didn't look at him, but he could still see the serious frown settle on her face.

"I don't trust your Will. I don't trust anyone…" she said. Jack feigned hurt.

"Not even me, luv?" he asked. This time she did look at him, purposely ignoring the wounded dog look in his eyes.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't trust something of you, Captain Jack Sparrow… but then, you're a daft fool… so what does that make me?" she asked with a shrug and turning back to watch the little row boat fight the small waves threatening it.

"I'm your captain, luv. Savvy? You can trust me," Jack said. Ana looked over at him.

"Says he who stole me boat," she said back. He just smirked and let his hand indicate the Pearl.

"But I've given you the grandest ship of all," he had to put in. Ana gritted her teeth and held herself back from smacking the gold teeth out of his mouth. The woman turned her face back to the row.

"Go up by Gibbs until they're on board. Turner'll find you," she ordered. Jack just leaned on the railing, much to Ana's exasperation.

"I'll welcome the whelp to me own ship, thank you," he said. Ana's anger seethed as she pushed him to standing upright and then towards the stairs to the helm.

"Get up those stairs you scurvy sea dog or I'll rip those braids right off your chin and hang you meself… there won't be anything left of you for the Royal Navy," she fumed. Jack grinned at her display, knowing that she couldn't see him with his back towards her.

"So kind of you to watch over me person with such care," he said lightly, taunting her still. Jack didn't need to turn around to see the glare she was giving him. He could feel it knifing through his back. It took her a second, but she came back with an excellent rebuttal.

"You may rest assured that it isn't out of the kindness of me heart, Captain… I'm the first mate, it's what I'm paid to do," she said acidly. Jack turned to look at her with a slight frown only to see her miming his braids with her hands and then pulling them up and pretending to hang herself with them. With a last point at him she turned on her heel and marched over to where the row boat was due to arrive. Jack sent an appreciative smirk in her direction before he turned and sauntered up the stairs to the quaterdeck, whistling a jaunty little tune.

Ana stood at the railing with the wind blowing in her face. It felt good. It cooled her anger somewhat. Daft bloody idiot… Ana rolled her eyes. The small boat veered closer and closer to the Pearl and Ana watched carefully. The fact that Will was coming only bothered the pirate slightly. It was the fact that he was bringing along the little princess and her escort bothered her more than slightly. Elizabeth Swann was the governor's daughter… the same governor who had stood by and done nothing when her captain had been about to be hanged. So it was understandable that the pirate woman do more than slightly mistrust the younger woman. Ana's thoughts were interrupted by two loud male voices.

"… by all that's holy, I'd never thought I'd be sailing up to the infamous Black Pearl…" one voice said.

"It really does have ghastly black sails," an astonished second voice said.

"Told you the Black Pearl is a real ship and that I've seen it," Murtog's voice carried up from below the railings.

"Well, I saw it too. The night we battled those grisly ghouls of pirates… but it's far superior up close," Mullroy answered his partner. Anamaria smiled at the bickering that continued between the two naval officers as the row-boat settled next to the swaying ship. Without looking, the pirate held her hand down over the side of the boat and wasn't the least bit surprised to have a slight, feminine hand grip it. With a deft tug, Ana brought the slight form of Elizabeth Swann up to deck. The young Englishwoman stood, smoothed her hair down and ran a hand over the skirt of her dress. Ana sneered slightly at the girl's actions before leaning over the railing to see if her companion needed any assistance… he didn't. After a few moments, Will set both of his feet on deck. Ana stood in front of him, arms crossed and a hard frown on her face.

"I told Jack to stay back until you search him out," she advised. Will gave her an assessing look before nodding, a small smile forming on his face.

"Protecting the man's virtue are we?" he asked teasingly. A smile hid itself in Ana's eyes, but it hardened quickly as she looked to Elizabeth.

"No, just protecting his daft neck," she answered, making it very clear how she felt about Jack saving the two in front of her and what it ended up getting him. Elizabeth had the grace to blush slightly. It upped Ana's opinion of her somewhat.

"Commendable attribute to a crew member," Will noted. Ana's eyes narrowed.

"Not mere crew member, first mate," she corrected. Will's lips curved up slightly as he looked her over.

"I see," he said in a way that made Ana wonder what, exactly, he really saw. Her eyes narrowed again.

"He's up with the men," she said. Will studied her one more time before he turned to Elizabeth. Will gave her a small smile as he leaned in to kiss her cheek lightly. Her hand found his and she squeezed it.

"Off to find Jack," he said as he started in the direction of the helm.

"No rum…" she said as he pulled back. Will looked at her in feign innocence.

"What makes you think…" he started, but she arched a knowing eyebrow with a small smile.

"I know Captain Jack Sparrow… no rum," she said firmly before kissing him lightly on his lips. As she turned away from him Will knew he had what Jack would surely call a 'love-daft' smile on his face. And thinking of Jack brought a grin to his face… Time to see the blighter… He looked up, covered his eyes from the sun, and saw the object of his search lounging with a few members of his crew on the quarterdeck near the rear of the ship. He approached the group and noticed them playing with a stack of cards.

"What's going on here?" he asked. The entire group looked up at him – Jack's face the only one erupting into a full grin as he stood. The two clasped hands and shook before the pirate clapped an arm around Will's shoulder and pulled him into the group.

"Knew you'd make it whelp," he said. Will looked over his shoulder at where Anamaria was sitting with Elizabeth chatting amiably at her… The pirate woman looked to be hostilely ignoring whatever his beloved was saying.

"Almost didn't make it," he said. Jack threw a look over his shoulder as well to where a becomingly grumpy Ana sat. He grinned.

"Her bark is almost as bad as her bite, mate," the pirate captain laughed. Will looked back to where the other men were furiously studying their cards.

"I'll ask again, what's going on here?" the young man inquired.

"A game of wagering, my boy. What say you?" Jack asked. Will looked uncertain.

"Elizabeth doesn't really like all that nonsense," he said, nervously looking behind him and scratching his head. The men sitting with Jack laughed mercilessly while their captain grinned.

"Worry not, my lad. Your future ball and chain is currently regaling my first mate with what is to be, I'm certain, very engrossing tales…" Jack said, causing Gibbs to chuckle even louder. Will turned to the man.

"What's so funny about that?" he asked, honestly confused. Gibbs stopped the tankard he was drinking from at his lips.

"I'm just thinkin' we should probably be wagerin' on those two," he said, causing a hearty round of 'ayes' to circle the small group. This caused Jack to laugh. Gibbs lifted his mug to him.

"Aye Cap'n, ain't seen two wenches as lovely or as feisty as those two…" the large man commented.

"Oh, aye, they're probably annoying the spit out of each other as we speak," Jack added. A man next to him grunted.

"I'd give me only good leg to see that catfight," he said with a leer at the thought. Both Will and Jack turned to look at the man with frowns.

"Civil thoughts, or to the brig with you, matey," Jack scolded, but the mischievous look didn't fully extinguish from his eyes. The leering man suddenly sobered and lowered his eyes.

"Sorry Cap'n," he mumbled. Jack clapped a hand quickly on his shoulder.

"S'okay, lad… now…" the pirate captain said, looking around the group. "… where's me rum?"

Anamaria gritted her teeth when the girl started in on the atrocities that were corsets. It was astounding at how many words the young girl could put together without taking a breath. As for Ana, she had yet to say more than one!

"I don't understand how people can find those fashionable! I mean, they hurt and you can't breathe! How is it fashionable to squeak like a mouse and have a face as red as a tomato?" she asked, not really expecting an answer after so long a silence from her companion. She was about to spout more off, but Ana'd had enough and taking advantage of the meager respite, held the dirk she was cutting cloth with up in front of her.

"If you don't close that mouth, girl, then I'll cut your tongue out and make you as silent as good ol' Cotton, do you hear me?" she asked menacingly. Elizabeth's eyes widened and locked on the implement being held in front of her face. After a moment, the shock wore off and was replaced by embarrassment.

"Do forgive me, I tend to prattle on when I'm nervous," she said trying to ward off the slight blush that had alighted her cheeks. Ana let out a disbelieving snort.

"What's to be nervous about?" the female pirate asked without looking up. Elizabeth looked to where the men were sitting only to look away when Will looked over. Ana had looked up in time to see the slight exchange and shook her head with a smirk.

"Don't tell me that after all of the ship-hopping, ghoul-fighting misadventures that you're nervous about staying aboard a ship without the likes o' a proper chaperone… I'd figured a little less propriety from you after everything," Ana scoffed. At this, Elizabeth turned bright red.

"I'm capable of more impropriety that you'd think… and who's to say I don't have chaperones? There's a ship full of them… not that it matters to me," the Englishwoman said with as much bravado as she could. Ana smirked again.

"I said 'proper' chaperone… good luck finding one o' those among these scallywags," she said with a laugh. The laughter softened the usually scowling woman's face immeasurably, causing Elizabeth to feel a little more comfortable with her.

"So… what's it like living on the sea and by the sea?" the young woman ventured. Ana gave the girl a look.

"You've been on it… it's like that, everyday," the pirate answered. Elizabeth grinned.

"You mean it's ghost ships, undead pirates, and nefarious kidnapping plots?" she asked. Ana laughed softly.

"Well… no…" she conceded. "Not always adventure, it can get right boring. It's work… and I'm not just talking about labor. It's a job all its own to be the only woman on crew…" Elizabeth smiled.

"Not mere crew member… first mate…" the woman said, echoing Ana's earlier correction. The pirate rolled her eyes.

"Aye, first mate. That doubles the difficulty," she said with a huff.

"Really? I think it would be fun to be first mate… you don't have to worry like the captain does, plus you get to order people around…" the Englishwoman said in a way that betrayed her age. Ana smiled when she realized that she was only five or so years older than the girl.

"Aye, that would be true… on a different ship. But this is the Black Pearl, missy, and its captain is Jack Sparrow… You've seen how he works. It's a trial and a half to keep up with him and from doing anything overly Jack-like," Ana said. Elizabeth smiled again as she followed Ana's gaze to where the object of their conversation sat with the rest of the men. When the pirate caught the women's gaze on him he returned it and added a sly wink. Elizabeth flushed slightly at Jack's attention and dropped her gaze to the wooden deck. Ana caught this out of the corner of her eye and curiously stowed it away in her memory as she observed a different Elizabeth Swann. And suddenly, Elizabeth's words from before made sense. The girl was nervous… but it wasn't about her seeming virtue, or even the chop of the sea… it had nothing to do with anything save one thing. The realization settled heavily in Ana's gut and she wasn't sure why. But the one thing she was certain of was that this situation warranted a close eye. Aye, Ana thought as she watched the girl uncharacteristically play with the ribbons on the bodice of her gown. A very close eye… With a quick glance at Will Turner, Ana stood and made her way towards the helm.

It was nearing dusk and the sun had started its descent. Bright orange and pinks filled the sky as the last of the crew took to the rowboats for one last anonymous evening in the taverns of Port Royal. Anamaria watched from the helm as Jack emerged from his cabin and took a survey of the Pearl's deck. He seemed content to just watch as he sat himself on a nearby crate that had yet to be taken to the brig. And for the hundredth time that evening, Ana's eyes went to Elizabeth, wanting to know what the girl was about exactly. With a quick breath, Ana stood straight and motioned for Cotton to take the wheel. She descended the stairs to the lower deck and approached Jack. When she stood next to him, Ana leaned against the rail and assumed her own observation of the ship. A companionable, unassuming silence followed for a few moments until movement caught the female pirate's eye.

"Be careful with the girl, Captain," Ana said as she watched Elizabeth meander over the now-quiet main deck. Jack looked over at her and contemplated his first mate's meaning. Ana turned to him and her dark eyes locked on his.

"I mean it," she said. Jack smirked slightly, gold winking briefly, as he shrugged.

"Whatever you say, luv," he said. Frustration became evident over the dark woman's face, a frustration that Jack didn't understand – but wanted to.

"This is no joking matter, Captain. I think the girl has a bit of a fancy for you," she said. Jack was silent for a moment as he thought this over. Then he shrugged.

"Well, naturally…" he said in his usual smug, confident, overly egotistical way. But Ana knew he was continuing on with what he saw as a jest. Her eyes narrowed as she shook her head.

"I'm being deathly serious and you continue to quip… Well, hang you, you rotter," she ground out as she turned to go retake the helm from Cotton. Jack stood up, quicker than usual for him, but still in a slow, casual-looking way.

"Come, Ana... don't be that way… You want to be serious, let's be serious, savvy?" he asked, transforming his face into a mask of seriousness. It would have fooled anyone else, but Ana saw the surreptitious twinkle in his eye. It was just like Jack to not take anything seriously. She let out a huff of disbelief and turned to continue up the stairs, only to be stopped by Jack gripping her arm. He turned her towards him and, in his typical way, easily occupied her personal space.

"Ana…" he started with actual sincerity in his voice. He reached up between them and tugged a piece of her loose hair. "… what do you need to talk about?" Her heart – the one she barely paid any attention to – did a little flip when she looked up into his face. The man from before had changed – the tone of his voice, the stance, the demeanor… he was suddenly a man to her, not the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. This was a Jack Sparrow that he never let anyone see, and it frightened her that she was the one to do so. Instead of let those few seconds affect her, she reacted in her typical Anamaria way. She bristled. With a frown she stepped back from him and out of his grasp.

"I don't need to talk about anything… but I thought I'd warn you, out of the goodness of me bloody heart, about Turner's girl's tender feelings towards you," she said harshly. Jack frowned.

"You're mistaken, luv," he said. Ana looked heavenward, as if to ask for the patience she didn't have.

"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? She loves Turner, aye… but there's something when she talks about you – looks at you," she said with a distant look on her face as she thought back. Ana caught herself and looked back at Jack to see a thoughtful look on his face. Knowing that she'd given her captain something to think about, she resumed her way up the stairs and nodded Cotton off the helm. The older man smiled warmly at her before he took his parrot and himself off.

"Sqwuaaaak… Walk the plank… sqwuaaak…" the colorful bird screeched back to her, causing her to smile as she reached out and gripped the wheel. It was to be assumed that the bird meant something along the lines of 'goodnight', but one can never be so sure with the impressionable parrot.

"You know…" Jack's voice startled her from behind. She whipped around, eyes wide and then forming a frown.

"You're lucky you don't have a dagger in your gut," she told him. He didn't look fazed. In fact, he was actually surprised that he didn't have a dagger in the specified place… or a red mark forming across his cheek. His Ana was off her form this evening. Instead of mentioning it, which would have probably been fatal, he just shrugged and continued.

"… saying the lass has a fancy for one such as me is a bit superfluous, don't you think? In the scheme of things, it's just a fancy for the piracy and the adventure," he finished his thought. Ana rolled her eyes.

"And besides," he continued. "… even though the girl's a pretty package to look at, and fearless to boot, she'd be unpardonable company. She aflamed all me rum when I was all but bloody conscious… the sly little vixen!" Ana turned to him with a deep frown and a hand on her hip.

"Has anyone told you what a filthy cad you can be?" she asked before resuming her position. Jack brought a hand to his cheek.

"Aye, on an occasion or three," he said, smirking when she looked over at him. "You know, luv, you're the only woman I ever deserved a slap from," he added, examining his fingernails, but surreptitiously looking at her through his dark lashes. Anamaria's eyes narrowed suspiciously as she paused in steering.

"Oh? And why is that, Jack?" she asked, drawing out his name for effect. Jack's eye twitched slightly, but he resisted the urge to correct the little hellcat on his title. Instead, he just smiled, knowing that his next words would bring about a reaction he would enjoy watching.

"Because, luv. You are the only woman that I've ever taken something from that wasn't freely given," he explained, his smile turning into a grin that bordered on lecherous. He expected to feel a sharp wind and the flat of her hand, or at least another tirade on him owing her a boat to replace the one he had 'borrowed' to the bottom of the ocean, but she surprised him.

"Why… you… you…" Ana struggled for a word as her hand clenched and unclenched over the grip of the wheel. "… imbecile!" Jack's eyebrow rose in amusement, a slight smirk gracing his lips.

"I hope you rot!" At this, the woman turned on her heel to march off angrily, leaving the captain behind to man the helm. Jack laughed heartily as he bowed slightly to her retreating form.

"Come, Ana! I expected better of you!" he said of her taunts as he stood straight again. The gestures she made were far less than ladylike causing him to roar in laughter as he turned back to the helm and took over for his now absent first mate. Now… that was his Ana…

The next day…

She felt the bead of sweat slowly making a trail down the center of her back. The sun was high in the sky as the Black Pearl cut its way through the fairly calm waves. The route back to Tortuga seemed to be longer on this trip. It didn't help that the temperature had climbed significantly since the morning. It only made the trip seem longer for Anamaria. What she wished for now was a long, cool breeze… both to help the voyage along and to cool her off. Her steady hands secured the rigging before she stood up. They'd been only a day on the water and to her, it seemed like eons longer. By nightfall, they'd be just beginning their sail through the Windward Passage. It was usually a four day voyage from the island of Jamaica, the island on which Port Royal was situated, to the den of iniquity that was Tortuga. But that was usually with a strong head wind and a goal-oriented captain. For some reason, Jack was taking his time. It baffled Ana just slightly, why he would be taking the fact that they'd just left an able bodied Commodore Norrington and his fleet of Royal Navy vessels behind by a few short hours so nonchalantly, especially since the Pearl's speed could cut the trip by a day – even damaged. The word of Will Turner and his female counterpart had failed to instill trust in the female pirate. She shook her head and brushed the stray hairs that had escaped her bandana back off her forehead. There was no reasoning with Jack Sparrow, just as there was no reasoning out his purpose. Ana's attention was back on the knots she was securing when her wish was granted. The hair on her back lifted as a sudden cool breeze flowed across the deck. A smile came over her face as she secured her work and stood up to meet it. Gibbs joined her portside, his eyes cast behind them.

"A squall's a-followin'," he said gruffly into the breeze. Ana's eyes went to the sky and saw the gray sky trailing them.

"The clouds are agreeing with you," she said. Gibbs just nodded.

"Aye, they are. Best go see the cap'n to plan our course," he said before he took himself off. The quartermaster's demeanor seemed worried. Now, everyone aboard knew of Joshamee Gibb's attention to superstition. The way he'd talked about the approaching weather had caused a chill in Ana. It was after the man took his leave that she wondered if his observation had anything to do with the weather at all…

Two days later…

The sun was high in the sky and peeking slightly through the gray clouds that the storms of the past two nights had brought. The crew was anxious to make berth, Jack knew that much. They were almost to their destination, but still, he held back on pushing the Pearl. He'd just gotten her back after ten long years of searching her out… he wasn't about to make the limping ship sprint the rest of the voyage.

"Sails ho!" the watchman on duty cried, calling Jack's attention to the rear of the ship. There was a slight stab of apprehension in the captain's gut as a niggling voice in his head muttered something about Will not being able to keep his promise. Ana came and stood next to him, spyglass at her eye. Her mind ran along side his… but let out a quiet, steady breath as she spotted the ship.

"It's not the Commodore and his Royal Navy – no allegiance flag," she said before handing the glass to Jack, relief evident on her face. Jack took the object from her and brought it to his own eye.

"Naturally not, luv. We had Will's word," he said, feeling the full confidence in his new friend return as he confirmed his first mate's assessment. Ana looked over at him for a second before letting her gaze return to the barely visible sails that had peeked over the horizon.

"Do you think it's making trail for us?" Gibb's voice asked from Jack's other side. Jack squinted his eyes in thought before he shook his head.

"We're a half a day from Tortuga. Chances are, they're on the same course…" Jack said as he turned back to the helm and assessed the main sails.

"If they're not?" Ana inquired. Jack turned to look at her with a grin.

"Then we'll have to outrun them in the fastest ship in all the Caribbean, won't we luv?" he addressed to her. He grinned again as she just rolled her eyes and turned away from him. The pirate turned as well to watch the ship ebb over the horizon. Then, he turned to assess his own prize… beautiful still, if not slightly damaged. It was the damage that had Jack's attention at the moment. The battle with Barbossa had left scars in the manner of holes and splintered wood behind. Should the trailing ship be of opposition in any way, whatever advantage the Pearl had in speed would be lost. Jack turned back to look over the ship and the working crew.

"Avast, me hearties!" he called, stopping all in what they were attending to. "Full sail, mates! We push on to Tortuga!" There was an answering cry of 'Aye!' as the crew scrambled over the deck to push the ship to full charge. As Jack re-gripped the helm he caught Ana's eye. She nodded her agreement with his silent observations even as she, herself, let an assessing eye roam over the Black Pearl.


They'd pulled to port in Tortuga hours ago, with nary an incident. The ship that had trailed them had passed along without a stop… which was what the first mate and quartermaster were hunched in the corner of the Faithful Bride discussing over a cup of grog. Ana shook her head emphatically at what Gibbs had just said.

"It would be daft… why would a ship pass over safe docking here? Especially after the storms we came across? They were at our aft for the better part of a day, which means they were not merely port hopping. They'd been at sea for nearly as long as us, if not longer," she said. Gibbs also shook his head.

"Nay, lass… the ships that pass over port here in this fair sea town are ones of diplomacy," he said. "Chances are, that were a merchant ship with men o' 'breeding', as it were. The likes o' them don't much bother with the likes o' us…" Ana's brow furrowed slightly.

"On the whole, I'd agree… but that ship had no colors… if it were sailing under an allegiance, it would have banner of such," she said, an uneasy feeling coming over her.

"Not always, lassie. These here be pirate waters… you know that. What would allegiance colors be but an invite to men o' our ilk," the quartermaster said before taking a long drink from his beverage. Ana gave him a look and he swallowed hard. "Apologies, lass, but I have to think you one of the men… otherwise we be in for filthy bad luck, you being of the delicate gender and first mate, and all…" Ana leveled him another look before she picked up her own drink and drained it.

"When isn't there bad luck?" she asked him. Gibbs just grinned and held up his drink.

"No such thing when ye've had a tankard or two," he answered. Ana smiled as she slapped a coin to the table.

"Then buy your third for me," she said as she stood. "I'm off to give Cotton leave." Gibbs lifted his drink to her again in affirmation as she turned and weaved her way through the drunken, stumbling crowd of sailors taking to their land legs. When she was all but three steps to the door, a hand gripped her arm.

"Ana, luv, where ya be goin'?" Jack's voice slurred. Ana shook her head before she turned to favor her captain with a glare.

"Well, Captain… since ye be three sheets to the wind, I was figurin' to assist Cotton in the manning of the Pearl for the evening," she said as she turned her glare to the woman hanging on his arm. She wore too much rouge and had pasted her lips with color. And from the ample amount of bosom hanging over the neckline of the drink stained dress, one would assume the dress was two sizes too small for her. Ana shook her head at the overt display. "G'night, Captain…"

"You're just going to leave me here, then?" he asked. Ana looked to him with a confused look on her face.

"What are you blabberin' about? Rum runs in you're blood, and here be the mother load…" she said.

"Aye, but 'tis time to see me ship…" Jack countered, his eyes locking on his first mate's. Ana let out a small breath.

"Fine… let's be off and get you taken care of," she conceded.

"Oy, he'll be taken care of just fine right here, luvvie," the bar wench offered. Ana had a disapproving look on her face as she observed the other woman.

"Aye, I'm sure you'd take wonderful care, miss," Ana said diplomatically yet not quite without the disdain she felt.

"He'll be right fine before he knows it," the doxy continued. Jack put his hands together and bowed, quickly standing up as he stumbled slightly.

"I'd sober quickly in your company, most assured," he said with minimal slur. The woman frowned, not knowing whether the pirate was complementing or insulting her. But Ana knew, and had to choke back a laugh when the woman settled a sultry look on her face and took Jack's words as the former.

"Come, Jack… it's the Pearl you want, it's the Pearl you'll have," Ana said lightly, putting her arm around her captain's waist and leading him to the door. When they were out of earshot of Jack's companion, he leaned closer to her ear.

"You may want to watch for sharp objects coming your way, luv," he whispered conspiratorially and looking over his shoulder to make his point. Ana huffed.

"Your wits may be dulled, but your ego never is," she said. Jack shrugged as they walked out the door.

"The wench was plying me with rum for near two hours hoping to get a few quid for the evening. The company I'm able to resist… the rum, never," he said as they continued to walk down the pirate-filled streets. As they turned the corner to head to the docks, Jack stopped leaning on Ana so heavily. He walked ahead of her slightly and she watched, in amusement, as he walked in his usual gait towards the harbor. It was true that Jack had imbibed the usual celebratory quantity of his favorite drink, but due to his quirky sober nature, one would never really know looking at him. A sober Jack and a drunken Jack were very nearly indistinguishable. And it was that trait that oft made people underestimate the pirate. Jack hid his craftiness and indeterminable skill under the guise of a daft sod. And on more occasions than not, it worked.

"Come, Ana, luv… I'm going to need your assistance," he called from ahead of her, standing at the boarding ramp to the Pearl. Ana's eyes narrowed suspiciously at her captain. Aye, crafty… but sometimes blatantly so…

"Have your legs ceased to work?" she called out to him, causing him to turn to her with one of his usual hand gestures. With a flick of the wrist, he indicated the ship.

"I just may get a wee bit ill with all the bobbing around," he said in his droll, drunken manner. Ana rolled her eyes as she approached him.

"Serve you right to get poxed," she grumbled as she shoved her captain none-too-gently up the gangplank.

"Why… aren't you just a picture of benevolence?" Jack asked as he let his first mate practically bludgeon him onto the Pearl. Ana huffed as they finally set foot on the main deck.

"I'm not your trained dog, Jack Sparrow… nor am I your nanny. You seemingly enjoy putting me in both positions," she said angrily to him before she turned to go relieve Cotton from watch.

"What holds you to the Pearl, Ana?" he asked her softly, causing her to turn and look at him. He was leaning casually against the railing and watching her. "You want a ship of your own and have had the chance to walk away ten times over. What keeps you where you are?" Ana frowned.

"Well… I haven't a ship, now have I?" she asked. "Not that it matters. I'm here because I'm here. There are worse places to be…" Jack looked around his ship for a moment before he smirked and nodded.

"Aye, on that we agree," he said. Ana's chin rose.

"Loyalty isn't a trait that I come by lightly – nor give lightly," she stated. Jack contemplated her for a moment before he stood straight and stepped to her.

"Aye, on that we agree as well…." he told her, reaching out to grasp a strand of her unruly hair. With a quick breath, Ana stepped back from his reach.

"Since we're at agreement, then I'll go give leave to Cotton to drink himself into a stupor to rival the best of Jack Sparrow," she said, rushing up the stairs to the quarterdeck and nodding for Cotton to go join the rest of the crew.

"It's Captain, luv. Captain Jack Sparrow, if you please," he called up to her. Ana couldn't help but smile at Jack's predictable answer.

"Aye… goodnight, Captain," she called to him. Jack smirked at her sarcasm before he found his way to his cabin for the night.

Early morning on the Pearl

It was nearing sunrise, the sky beginning to turn its predawn colors. Most of the crew had made their way back to the ship during the early hours of the morning in order to sleep off the effects of too much rum before sunup. Preparations to weigh anchor usually began when Jack first appeared top deck, which was – regardless of how the night before was spent – shortly after sunrise. Knowing the nature of things, Ana was attuned to the morning and up just before the sun. She greeted the night watch with a hearty shake, waking the man from what looked to be a deep slumber. Ana nodded off the man's apologies, it being a fairly routine action no matter how much Ana tried to change it. Idiosyncrasies ran abound on the Black Pearl. It was to be expected with the highly eccentric Jack Sparrow as its captain. Knowing this, Ana kept a sharp eye as she ran them over the deck of the ship. A few of the crew members had risen early as well and were beginning some of their duties for the day. She watched them for a few more moments as the rising sun started to light the sky before she took herself up the stairs to the quarterdeck. Ana took her place at the helm and began an assessment of what needed to be done. Suddenly, a hand reached over her mouth and muffled the surprised yell that came from her as she was grabbed roughly from behind. She was turned and her eyes widened at the sword tip that awaited her. Standing before her was a well-dressed, handsomely blond man. He didn't wear the finery of the Royal Navy, but he gave off the air of being such.

"Now that I have your rapt interest," he said, keeping his sword pointing at her, but nodding the man holding her to release her. Ana stayed silent, knowing that she could only call for attention once. A few more moments and the deck would be more occupied that it was a present.

"I have no inquiries of you, young miss… but there may be a matter of your interests arising in but moments," he continued. Ana watched as another well dressed man and a pirate climbed over the rear railings.

"Watch her. If she tries to escape, kill her," the man with the sword said as he and the other well-dressed man made for the stairs. The two pirates guarding her gave her berth, but held no weapons on her. She waited for just another moment before she ran to the quarterdeck railing and yelled her warning.

"Look sharp! We're being overrun!" she cried to the still oblivious crew. She heard the drawing of swords and the unmistakable sounds of men being run through as the two pirates grabbed her and dragged her back to the rear of the ship, hoping to send her overboard. It was to Ana's advantage that the two pirates underestimated her strength and skill. With a deft twist she freed herself from one pirate and swung an on target fist to lay the other low. Ana drew her sword in time to fend off a blow from one and serve it back. The underestimation served its purpose again when her blade found its way to the pirate's stomach. One down, the other tried his luck. Ana hedged from the other pirate's blade as it swung for her head. The momentum of the pirate's swing caused him to be defenseless for but a moment and Ana took advantage, slicing into him without a thought. After dispatching the pirate overboard, Ana knew she needed to get to the main deck. The crew was there and so was Jack. Sword raised, she descended the stairs, waylaying another boarder and pitching him overboard as well. A survey of the deck told Ana that they were evenly matched in numbers, but the skill of the Pearl's crew had them outmatching them. There was a sharp pain in Ana's scalp as a pirate behind her caught her hair as she hit the bottom of the stairs and pulled it roughly to turn her about. He surveyed her for a moment and then gave her a lecherous grin.

"Good mornin' luvvie… What ye be doin' aboard such a ship? A welcome home, or of the like?" he asked. Ana took advantage of the man's interest in her and lack of interest in the sword she held. The pirate's eyes went wide when her blade found purchase in his chest. She watched with disinterested eyes as he fell to the deck. Using her foot, she pried to man off her blade and turned to survey the rest of the mêlée. A cry choked in her throat as she watched the blond man serve Jack a kick to the gut. When Jack stood straight the man's blade was waiting – but he did not strike. And the hesitation of sorts caused a draw as Jack raised his blade as well.

"Who are you?" Jack asked as Ana made it to his side. The blond man just smiled.

"Captain Gideon Deverill, at your service," the man said. Jack shared a quick look with Gibbs before looking back to Gideon.

"You're a mite pompous for a pirate, mate…" Jack concluded.

"Aye, what ye be? His Majesty's Navy?" Gibbs asked. The man in question lifted his wrist in an arrogant swordfighter's fashion.

"I could tell you that information, but honestly, what good would it possibly do you?" he asked. Jack just smiled.

"If you be a part of the Navy, we'd like to send a condolence to the King should you be kind enough to depart this world…" he said smartly. Gideon let out a growl between clenched teeth as he pressed his sword closer to Jack.

"All you need worry about is that I am here to rid these waters of the Black Pearl's curse by any means necessary," he said. Ana and Gibbs pulled their swords up simultaneously as Gideon's sword inched closer to Jack.

"I wouldn't do so much as twitch… matey…" Ana sneered at the blond man who threatened her captain. Her wrist twitched slightly to punctuate her suggestion as she inched closer to her intended victim. An angry growl came from Gideon as he looked angrily back at Jack. The pirate smirked and wiggled his eyebrows, his cutlass lowering only slightly.

"I'd listen to her, mate. She's deadly," he said with a larger grin and a quick, floaty hand gesture. There was silence in the stillness as each person on either end of the sword sized the other up. Ana took a deep breath as she watched the three men continue to watch each other. Then without a moment's warning, there was a sharp pain in her abdomen, too much movement and screaming of curses, and she was lying on the deck. Her hand went immediately to where her pain radiated from. That same hand came away sticky and red. The bastard has sliced me guts! The anger alone almost made her shoot to her feet and stick the man, but as the swords of her shipmates clashed with other assailants, someone stood over her, his sword pointed at her neck. Ana looked up at the menacing face. Scrambling footsteps approached, but Ana's gaze stayed on her attacker.

"Stay back!" the man yelled, pressing the tip of his sword into her skin slightly making Ana hiss.

Jack's eyes stayed on the man who dared to threaten Ana and took a small step forward, wishing with everything in him that his sword would miraculously find purchase in the malicious man's anything.

"All of you stay back or she'll be skewered through! Put your swords down and let my men pass…" he yelled. Gibbs spat at the ground.

"Never…" he growled. Gideon smiled evilly.

"You will… or your whore dies…" he said. It took only for Gibbs to look down at a bleeding Anamaria for him to grudgingly drop his metal.

"Gibbs!" Ana found her voice suddenly as the panic welled in her still bleeding stomach. "You couldn't keep to the code if your sodding life depended on it!" Her panic increased ten-fold as she watched Jack drop his cutlass as well. Gideon laughed.

"It's good to see that this little strumpet is your weakest point," he said before reaching down to pick Ana to her feet. It was all the distraction that Jack needed. He pulled a dirk out, stepped forward quickly, brushed the now-standing Ana to the side and plunged the blade deep into the black-hearted man's gut. The blond man's eyes widened as Jack stepped back, satisfied, to watch the unfortunate man die. Ana watched as blood bubbled up onto the dying man's lips, her own stomach rolling as she propped herself against the railing. Jack dropped the dagger onto the Pearl's deck with a clang.

"That's where you have it wrong, mate… she's not the weakest point," he said as he knelt down closer to Gideon. In a quieter, more malicious voice he continued so only the dying could hear. "She's the strongest… you would have died for just touching her…" Gideon's beautifully blue, but deceptively cruel, eyes met Jack's dark ones. A small smirk placed itself on his red stained lips as he watched Jack stand with Gibbs to his left and Ana making her way, slightly hampered, to his right.

"You've underestimated me, Sparrow," he choked through the blood. With that said, the man next to Gibbs fell unexpectedly, a sword deep in his gullet. The three turned in various directions to see a small army of pirates boarding the Pearl. Gibbs let out a feral growl as he left Jack's side and made his way through the crew.

"Skewer 'em boys!" the quartermaster cried out, causing other war cries from the Pearl's crew to ring out as the clash of sword metal overtook all else.

"Cotton!" Jack yelled to the mute man as he pulled his sword out of an attacker. Cotton came to attention at his captain's side. Jack didn't look, just continued on fighting off those who came at him.

"Get Ana to the cabin… make sure she remains there, she's injured," the captain continued, not seeing the look of worry on his counterpart's face. If Cotton could have said something, he would have, but Jack was in battle mode and was already rushing off. Cotton could only look on worried at the empty spot that Ana had last stood and then back to the yet unaware infamous captain of the infamous Black Pearl.

To be continued…

A/N – Thank you for reading this! There is definitely more to come… I couldn't leave Jack or Ana like this, it would be cruel! Please, please, please let me know what you think of this! Reviews push me to write more! The more I get, the more inspired I become… it's like my superpower… I feed off of reviews!! :) And yikes… this kind of took on a life of its own, so forgive me for the long post. I planned on breaking it up, but I didn't have the heart to cut it into pieces after all my hard work to get this part finished (it took forever!!). The following updates won't be as long as this, I promise – for my sake more than yours… :)