Even In Death
Anamaria watched in relief as they sent the merchantman on its way. It had been closer than she would have liked, but in the end the Pearl's crew had outlasted the opposing sailors. They certainly had not expected the crew of the other ship to be armed - and capable of using those arms. So it had come as a surprise when, as the Pearl's men boarded the other vessel, those aboard the Silver Dolphin had let out a chilling battle cry and charged forward.
They had been subdued in due course but it had taken longer than expected. With a few men down, those on the Pearl had been more than glad to loot what they could quickly and see the Dolphin on her way.
The rest of the crew had already made their way into the hold to sort the plunder into equal shares so Anamaria glanced around, searching for the familiar figure of her Captain. After sweeping her gaze across the deck and still not finding him, she began to worry. Jack never went immediately to examine the booty and now that she thought about it, she could not recall hearing his rough baritone rising above the fighting.
Seriously worried now, she strode along the deck and hurried up the stairs to the quarterdeck.
She stopped dead.
Her jaw dropped and she let out an involuntary gasp. Her eyes widened and she had to grab the railing for support as her knees threatened to buckle. She stood for a moment in shock and stunned disbelief.
Jack's inert body lay crumpled, sprawling across the helm. His raven black hair with its odd assortment of beads dangled limply, the only movement caused by the draft as it caused the coins to gently tap against each other, like wind chimes in the breeze. One could almost believe he was merely asleep if it weren't for the blood.
Oh God, the blood. It was everywhere. Blood covered Jack and the wheel. Blood ran in rivulets along the deck. Blood made the scuppers run red and it was blood that now covered her shoes. Jack's blood.
A small groan made her snap her horrified gaze back to Jack's face, just in time to spot the small flicker of an eyelid.
Her hopes soared. He was alive. She rushed to him and moved him slightly before lowering him gently to the floor. "Jack? Jack! Can you hear me?" Another groan was her only answer but it was enough. Raising her voice to make it carry she called loudly for Gibbs and the Doctor. "And hurry!" Turning her attention back to her Captain, she tracked the blood to its source. It wasn't hard as the blood was still pouring from the wound like a bloody river. It was small, but then, bullets are small. It rested on the right side of his chest, just beside his other scars.
For the first time in her life Anamaria panicked. While it had missed his heart, the quantity of blood testified to the fact that it was life threatening. In fact, Anamaria had seen a good many men die from losing half the amount of blood that surrounded her now. And it was still coming! Trying to stay calm and failing remarkably, she tried to remember what she had been taught. Where the hell was that bloody doctor?!
Stem the flow of blood. Right, that was it. Stem the flow of blood. Gripping her shirt, she ruthlessly tore strips from the bottom and held them firmly over the wound. Seeing them turning red almost immediately, she added her bandana for good measure. She stole another glance at his face. He hadn't moved in an awfully long time.
Then she heard the sound of running footsteps and looked up to see Doc and Gibbs suddenly halt in shock at the sight before them. Doc recovered first and hurried to her side. Gibbs followed more slowly looking dumbstruck. Beckoning for her to help him, Doc put his arms under Jack's torso and gently lifted.
They carried him to his cabin and lay him on the bed. Doc then asked for a bottle of rum, some water and his medical box before ushering them out the room. "I'll need my concentration and I can't have that with an audience," was all he said.
It was almost an hour before Doc emerged. By that time, the whole crew had found out what had happened and had gathered by the door to Jack's cabin, waiting expectantly. There was none of the jovial atmosphere that usually surrounded the crew of the Black Pearl, none of the joking comments or pleasant air. Instead the mood was one of trepidation, anxiousness and permeating it all was fear. Fear for the life of their captain, their leader and their friend.
Doc turned tiredly towards Anamaria as her demand broke the silence. "I've managed to stop the bleeding, remove the bullet and clean him up. The rest is up to him. He has an incredibly bad fever. It is unlikely, but if it breaks in the next few days he should be fine. If it doesn't..." Doc trailed off with a slight shake of his head. "Anamaria, you and Gibbs may se him, but only one at a time. He is in a very bad way." He lowered his voice so that only Ana and Gibbs could hear him. "At the moment it is only his willpower that keeps him with us and if that should fail…there's only so much I can do for him."
As the crowd dispersed, Anamaria moved to the door and opened it slowly, wincing as it creaked slightly. Jack lay on his bunk. He was wearing clean trousers and his shirt had been replaced with a white bandage, wrapped tightly around his upper body. The trinkets had been removed from his hair and the dreadlocks combed out. What with this, the kohl around his eyes removed and the braids from his beard trimmed off, he looked almost innocent. It certainly made him look younger.
As she approached, he tossed restlessly and mumbled incoherently. She sat down on the chair next to his bed. "Shh, shh Jack. It's alright. Everything's fine." She cleared her throat softly and swallowed as her voice broke. "You're going to be okay." She clung to that thought like a lifeline. "You have to be okay."
* * * * *
He fought the swirling torrent of darkness that threatened to swamp him and drag him spiraling down into its depths. He would not let it. He could not let it. Somehow that single thought pervaded the black flood that had taken residence in his mind and he clung to it as though his life depended on it. It did.
The bullet had come from nowhere. The fight had been reaching its end and he could dimly remember standing at the helm and keeping the Pearl steady as he kept an eye on the brawl. In fact, he had probably not even been the ball's intended target. Standing there, he had not even had time to look down before the numbness spread throughout his body and everything had gone black.
Since then it had been this…this battle of wills against the violent rush that surrounded him. It was all he could do to keep it at bay and he knew he was tiring. It beat at him constantly unrelenting until he could not remember a time it had not been there. But he had to keep fighting.
"To…stay…alive" The mumbled words came out distorted and haltingly, as did his breath.
"Not…allowed. Can't…give up."
Why not? Why not just let go and none of it will matter any more? None of it will hurt anymore.
"But…" he couldn't think of anything to say to that. All he could think of was how pleasant it would be to stop fighting. To be able to rest. He felt so drained and exhausted. The black numbness was creeping along his limbs now, making its way to his heart. It would be so easy to stop breathing. To let the numb replace the blinding streaks of fiery pain that were racking his body. So easy.
Stop fighting and rest.
He let go.
* * * * *
Anamaria's scream of grief traveled easily to where Doc was sitting in the galley, eating lunch. When five days had passed with the pirate's fever not abating (in fact for the last three days it had been growing steadily worse), he felt it was no longer a case of if the Captain died but rather when. From the sounds of things, "when" had just become "now". When he reached the Captain's cabin he found Anamaria bowed over Jack's lifeless body, sobbing. Careful not to disturb her, he lent over and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Ana raised her head and looking past her tear-streaked face to meet her eyes, he shook his head sadly in regret, before taking his leave.
* * * * *
How could this happen?
Anamaria was in utter shock. She sniffed and wiped the tears from her face. He was Captain Jack Sparrow. He didn't just die. It just didn't happen that way. If Jack died, it would be in the heat of some massive battle or even in a great storm, claimed by the ocean. He didn't waste away from a fever caused by a wayward bullet.
Captain Jack Sparrow wouldn't just give up.
But he had.
She looked at him once last time. With him lying there so still, she felt that if only she would lean over and give him a shake (or a slap), he would wake up. But the lax features and still chest belied her wishful thoughts, and her heart finally accepted what her mind already knew. Jack was not coming back. Ana felt her control slip from her grasp as her world dropped from under foot.
There was nothing she could do to help him. Nothing anyone could do to help him.
All she could do was make sure that Captain Jack Sparrow wasn't forgotten-that he was remembered for who he was. An extraordinary man with an outstanding talent for getting himself into the deep end - and back out again. But most of all, that he was remembered how he would like himself to be remembered. A marvelous pirate and a one-of-a-kind rogue who fought, not for wealth, but for freedom.
Even in death.
Thanks for reading. It would be enormously appreciated if you could drop me a line and review what you thought was good/bad/needed improvement. There were some really tough parts I had trouble getting down and probably stick out like a sore thumb so your help is greatly valued. A massive thanks to those who reviewed my other one-shot: A Marooned Sparrow. I've edited it and tried to keep all your suggestions in mind. Any who haven't read and reviewed, please do (shameless advertising, I know, but like any FFN author, I can't help myself. I love getting reviews).
I'm also currently writing a Harry Potter fic that should hopefully be out soon so I hope to see you for that.
Thanks heaps. Love you all.