Part Five: Explanation

Captain Jack Sparrow sat up in bed, the sun streaming in through his cabin's lead-divided windows. He rested against the plump pillows piled at his back and chewed on the bread bitten off the chunk he held in his left hand. His eyes were bright with life and admired Anamaria while she tidied the room. Her hair was kept out of her face by a light-green bandanna shot through with gold-coloured thread and a blue topaz pendant he had given her a few years before hung around her neck. His gaze followed her as she moved to the end of the bed to straighten the sheets.

Anamaria glanced over at him. "Eat your breakfast."

Jack hadn't realised he'd stopped chewing, and swiftly finished his mouthful. "I was hoping there was something much more appetising on the menu."

"I know you were." She moved away to stack the rolled maps that had fallen off the desk.

Jack sulkily tore more bread off with his teeth and his jaw worked. He paused again when Anamaria finished tidying the desk and then just stood there. Her back was to him and she stared ahead out the window. She sighed, uneasily.

"Anamaria?" Concern laced his voice.

Anamaria turned to face him, her face darkened with resolve, and Jack knew something was coming that he wouldn't like. He braced himself.

She moved the tray of food off the bed and placed it on a cabinet, then sat down in its place beside him.

"Jack, when…when the Hell's Talon sunk…" Anamaria hesitantly broached the subject he hadn't been willing to bring up. She swallowed, then asked him plainly, "How did you survive?"

Captain Jack Sparrow was used to telling stories, but he was not, however, used to telling true stories. Yet, this was an occasion when he owed it to the listener to tell the truth. There could be no exaggeration, no missing out of unflattering events, and no fantasy.

Jack took a deep breath, letting it out again in a weary sigh. Then, haltingly at first, he told Anamaria what had happened.

He solemnly described the sinking Hell's Talon sucking him down to the dark depths of the Caribbean Sea. Flailing arms and desperately kicking legs were unable to prevent his descent. He had twisted in the water, first escaping his boots and then wrenching off his scabbard, belt and sash. Yet, the surface had remained a glimmering star he could not reach and was rapidly becoming smaller as the distance increased. He'd accidentally swallowed water and some flooded his lungs. His surroundings soon no longer yielded any light and he struggled to remember which way was up. He had fought a battle he was sorely losing.

Jack then told Anamaria of spotting the huge rock with an opening in and swimming into it - his last hope. He recalled how it had seemed to him that he was fated to die in that underwater tunnel, as the pounding in his head grew and his thoughts started to dim. But then he had seen illumination above him again and swam upwards with all his remaining strength and determination.

He told her of the immense relief of breaking the surface and gasping air into his burning lungs. Choking and coughing up seawater, he'd pulled himself out of the pool and onto the solid floor of a cave. He had then lain, strewn facedown on the slimy, moss-coated ground unable to move. He didn't know how long he lay there.

Eventually his wits had returned to him and he'd pushed himself up onto his knees, coughing more water out of his lungs. He had looked around and found that the cave was lightened by a tiny opening in the ceiling that was far too small and high up to get through. So, with his bare feet slipping on the damp rocks, he'd staggered towards the only other exit: a dark tunnel.

The natural, upward sloping tunnel dripped and he had to navigate around many obstacles in the form of stalactites and stalagmites in a range of sizes. He'd fallen to his knees many a time and often had to use his hands to cling to the wall and inch his way along through merciless, unbroken blackness.

Jack told Anamaria of finally feeling fresh air against his bare skin and finding that the end of the long tunnel had a small, ragged opening. He'd clambered through the gap and then fought his way through thick undergrowth. He stepped out onto a small plateau overlooking the sea. The dark waves had been dotted with the glittering, silver reflections of the stars.

He had realised that he was on the isle he had seen off to the Pearl's starboard earlier. His eyes picked out a ship in the distance, which he recognised as the Black Pearl heading for the horizon. Without him.

Shivering against the cool air that penetrated his wet clothes, he had made his way down the thickly vegetated side of the plateau to find himself standing on a riverbank. He'd stumbled along the watercourse, almost collapsing from exhaustion, until his foot hit something solid and he tripped up. He had found himself lying uncomfortably in the bottom of a rowboat.

After clambering back out, a crazy and desperate idea struck him and he'd pushed the little, battered, ore-less boat into the river. He had climbed back in and let the current pull the rowboat along and out to sea.

Jack told Anamaria that his half-senseless intention had been to somehow catch the Pearl in the little boat. However, he had no clear memories of after the boat had reached open sea.

Anamaria briefly filled him in on sighting the rowboat and bringing him aboard. Jack nodded vaguely in response, his expression haunted. The memories she had made him recall were filled with pain and desperation. He had thought he was going to die. Anamaria had thought he had.

Captain Jack Sparrow hadn't realised how much he feared death. What lay beyond was unknown, but not his main concern, what troubled him was what he would have left behind.

Anamaria frowned with worry, as she watched his thoughts go through him. She reached forward with both hands to gently cup his wan face, his dark eyes flashing up to meet her gaze.

"It's all over now," she said, softly.

The shadows fell away from his eyes like a veil, revealing the love that shone beneath.

Smiling tenderly, she leant in to press a kiss against his lips. Jack's mouth responded to hers, parting and drawing her in.

When their lips broke apart, Anamaria climbed over the bed to sit at Jack's side. She leant against him and his bandaged right arm looped around her shoulders.

Jack reached to retrieve the tray from the cabinet, placed in on their laps and broke off a bite-sized piece of bread.

"Breakfast?" he offered, grinning, and put the chunk of bread into her waiting mouth.

***

Beneath the ebony night sky adorned with flickering diamonds, the Black Pearl moved quietly through the dark Caribbean waves. A man and a woman stood side by side at her bow, holding each other close. Eyes cast towards the horizon, they looked ahead to the future.

~ Fin ~

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Author's Ending Note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed! Knowing that readers enjoy my stories is the most rewarding part of writing.