At The Heart of It All

By ErinRua

The white bursting spume of waves against a sleek black hull, the heave of a deck beneath wide-set feet, powerfully as the surge of some great, sentient thing - ah, this, this was being alive!  A keen glance turned to straining canvas high above, measuring how they bellied smoke-grey to the press of the wind, and a sharp voice cried imperative direction.  Trim the sails, tighten that sheet, loosen that one, jump and make it so!  There were two or three more knots of speed to be had, he just knew it.

Then deep below decks timbers creaked as footings settled to the new weight of wind, and the lee rail leant towards rushing blue water.  He felt it, ah, he felt it in his bones, his sinews, the high-thudding beat of his heart, while his teeth shone white and gold for the joy of it.  Mad Jack, aye, who taunted the trade winds and dared the seas, yet not a soul on board could help but feel the flying rush of a good ship with a knowing hand at the helm.

What they did not feel, could never feel as he did, was the bone-deep thrumming that ran through timbers and wood until it sank into the darkness of his very marrow.  It hummed its siren song until salt water raced like fire in his veins.  If he was mad as they say, it was a magnificent insanity, and he let the wind snatch his laughter to hurl it forward.  Somewhere down the wide ocean perhaps his delight would echo afar, and some poor soul would count himself daft to have heard it.

Or perhaps it would be heard as no more than the cry of a distant gull, keening thinly above the pounding pulse of the sea against the shore.  No, there were none who felt what coursed through him as dearly as breathing; none who felt the living kick of the helm as the movement of a lover, as the other step in a great dance of life.

For what he loved, what Jack Sparrow loved, was the very freedom of being.  What Jack Sparrow loved, as truly as his heart beat, was his Black Pearl.  Every stick and sail and plank of her, from keelson to maintop, stem to stern, she was his and he was hers.  She moved beneath him, he moved with her, they moved together in flawless synchronicity as the rigging sang its forever song above them.

One day he knew she might be his death.  Whether tearing herself apart before a raw gale wind, or bursting to flaming splinters before the thunder a warship's guns, she would take him with her, savagely, without conscience.  To love a ship such as this was fraught with peril; it was to balance heart and soul on a sword's razored edge.

Yet on some days … on some days, on glorious days such as this, he thought the willful wench just might love him back.

~*~

A/N:  Written in response to Biz's Valentine's Day challenge on our Yahoo group The_Black_Pearl_Sails_Fanfiction.  This is not exactly traditional, but I believe it is Jack's one true love …