A Blood Red Banner

Slight Ana/Jack

Main pairing: Sparrington

Out on the sea for Adventure

Another town suffered the same fate as so many of late. Its glass windows smashed, its wooden buildings burnt to nothing but cinders, and its people left with cuts and tears upon their faces. Jack had sailed into Antigua one morning to find the place in ruins. Everything had been taken in the dead of night, and only after the midnight pilfering had taken place, did the sea robbers deem it necessary to wake the inhabitants in the cruellest of ways.

With a ship now low on supplies, but with a town with very little to sell him, Jack had been forced on to the next. Turning his back on the sorry scene behind him, and looking at the rather dull spirited people on the deck, Jack sailed back out towards the horizon and on to the next port. It wasn't his problem if the town was unable to defend itself, and it wouldn't be long before the Navy were swarming around, trying to pick up the pieces and find the culprits. Pointing fingers at anything that moved on the seas, and arresting everyone with shadows in their eyes. It wasn't wise to stick around, and truth be told, be was glad to be putting space between him and the port.

He'd been out of the Caribbean for a year, and the trip back into the New World from the Ivory Coast had been particularly tedious, as the provisions they had taken had not been sufficient enough to see them through the five storms they had encountered on the way. The Pearl had been so battered, that the painting of her name had all but flaked away, and her figurehead was a faded shade of colours. They would now have to sail to Jamaica for their supplies before returning to the Isle of the Dead and taking what was left of the treasure. But the treasure seemed to be a long way away, and all the crew cared about now was staying alive long enough to reach it. Without fresh water, very little food, and no wind to carry them, their situation was growing more and more desperate.

Commodore James Norrington looked with his weary eyes, at the intelligence on his desk. Another town had been pillaged, the second of the month, and the pressure to find the brigands had become even graver. His superiors knew nothing of the recent attacks, since he had not yet sent his reports, but they would soon, and then the pressure would mount even higher.

Standing up from his chair, Norrington walked to his window and stared out on to the walls of the fort. Everything was as it should be, men were going about their duties, and civilians were walking casually along the paths and looking out on the perfectly flat sea. A small breeze pushed past his open window, and disappeared as quickly as it came. It had been awful weather for sailing, not a wind for days, and yet these pirates had managed to ransack a town quite successfully. Unable to begin his search, for the weather showed no signs of changing soon, Norrington returned to his desk and finished his reports.

From the stories that he had heard, the ship had been large and dark, and had flown a red flag. At first, he had thought the ship was the Black Pearl, with Jack Sparrow running a mock around the Caribbean. But the descriptions of the captain had soon taken this thought away. A man with a large scar on the side of his face, and a missing finger on his left hand, had been seen to wear a long red coat, and a hat with a feather. Norrington was sure that Jack had all of his fingers on his left hand, and so the pirate causing the havoc couldn't be Sparrow. But this didn't rule out the fact that it may still be the Pearl. Sparrow seemed to have a knack for loosing things, and he wouldn't be surprised if his ship was one of them.

"Sir! There are sails on the horizon; they appear to be in some sort of trouble."

"Is it a merchant ship Gillette?"

"Doesn't appear to be, but she's large and floundering out there without any wind,"

Norrington nodded and took his hat and coat from their stand, headed outside, and walked onto the fort battlements. The ship they had sighted did indeed look to be in some sort of trouble, as she wasn't moving smoothly, and the oars pushing her towards the port were moving feebly in the water. Norrington took the spyglass to his eye and scanned the horizon for the ship once more. Even though all of her letters had gone, he could see instantly what ship it was.

"Gillette, ready the men, we're going to have pirate company," Norrington said, squinting at the tiny people moving about on the decks.

"Sir?"

"It's the Black Pearl," Norrington explained. "No one is to leave it, understand? And if Sparrow gives you any trouble, take him to the cells," he ordered before walking higher up the fort for a better view. Gillette nodded and strode away with a purpose.

If life at the moment wasn't complicated enough, what with the Elizabeth's marriage, and now these attacks, Jack Sparrow had to stumble into his path once again; and from the look of his ship, stumbling was indeed what he was doing.

Half an hour had passed since the ship had been spotted, and Pearl had only managed to travel a short distance, and the longer Norrington waited, the more he realised he really didn't have the patience or time to be dealing with this right now.

When dusk fell, the Pearl had managed to reach the edge of the port, and had dropped her anchor instantly. Gillette and a few men had rowed out immediately, and were now climbing up the side of the ship to meet a sorry sight on the other side. Without water, and with the strong Caribbean sun beating down upon them, the crew of the Pearl were weak and in need of feeding, and the ship was in no better condition. She had quite obviously had been subjected to a long journey without enough hands to manage her. The sails were ripped, and one mast was only held up due to the rigging and the tangle of the ropes.

Jack Sparrow wandered out of main cabin to find his ship swamped with Navy men, and his crew standing wearily in the middle of them. Their eyes were glazed with the lack of nutrition, and barely noticing the swords pointed at them. Jack knew how they felt, as neither had he eaten properly for over a week, and had probably drank even less. He felt the lack of sugar in his blood as his legs shook as he walked, and his hands feeling heavy and useless. For the first time in his life, he was glad to see the Navy.

"What do you think your doing on me ship? I didn't ask you aboard lads, but if your here to join me crew, can it wait a day? I'm kinda tried you see,"

"Quiet Sparrow. I have orders to place you in a cell if you cause trouble," Gillette said, his jaw set, and his teeth grinding in a most annoyed fashion. "I'd have you strung up right this instance if it was up to me."

Jack waved his hand haphazardly, and wandered down towards him.

"Why would I cause trouble on me own ship?" Jack asked as if the idea was so stupid that the question boarded on the insane. Gillette just smiled grimly.

"It's hardly a ship Mr Sparrow. Why, look at the state it's in!"

Jack pretended not to look affronted, but the clench of his hand into a fist gave away his anger at the jibe. Before thinking of the consequences he spoke. He could almost see Anamaria's eyes roll as the words fell of his tongue.

"She's more a ship than you'll ever own mate,"

Gillette's smiled faded instantly.

"Take him to the cells."

Jack was grabbed so roughly, that in his weak state, he fell straight into the person holding him, and was all but carried off the ship. His crew looked after him solemnly, but their eyes were all begging for water, not their Captain. Jack was thrown into the small boat, and stayed slumped on the floor as they rowed him back to the fort. Gillette looked around at the ship and ordered some men to say aboard, and for some others to fetch provisions. It wouldn't do them any good to have the pirates die before they could be brought to trial.

The boat bobbed and bounced so much that it made Jack ill, yet he knew there was nothing inside him to relieve the feeling with, so he lay quiet, feeling sorry for himself. When the motion finally did stop, he was pulled up sharply and pushed out before he could think. Staggering forward and bumping into someone solid in front of him, Jack ended up on the floor once more. He fell backwards, hitting the hard wooden jetty with a clang of metal objects and the clatter of his boots.

Norrington stared down disapprovingly. The sudden journey had finally taken its toll on Jack's food deprived body and his vision clouded over before it went black. The last thing he remembered was grinning up at a large fuzzy shape and mumbling about water. He was violently brought back to the world when a boot connected with the side of his face, and a voice hissed at him.

"Wake up filth," sneered the amused voice. A more responsible influence broke in with annoyance.

"Mr Fisher, you will remove yourself from this building, and you will not return until further notice,"

Mr Fisher, who Jack guessed was his attacker, stammered his apologies and left. The other presence lingered in the corner of his sight, but not enough to see who it was. His face stung terribly, and when a cup was placed in his hand, Jack hadn't even realised the figure had come any closer. Starting away, Jack spilt most of the content of the cup on his shirt.

"If I had known you were going to throw the water over yourself, I wouldn't have bothered bringing you any."

"Ah Norrington, is that you? Well of course it's you, who else hates me so much... Thanks for the drink mate," Jack mumbled drinking the remaining water in a few gulps. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve he handed back the cup. "Twas very nice of you to put me in here luv, but I wasn't looking for room an' board, jus' a mug of water." Jack stopped talking and suddenly became serious. "You 'ave fed me crew?"

"Yes Mr Sparrow, your crew are prisoners and therefore will be fed and watered until their trials," Norrington answered, finding Jack's concern for his crew over himself annoying. Jack didn't answer. "Why are you in such a state?" he asked as the pirate lay back on the dirty floor.

"Longer journey than I expected," Jack answered staring at the ceiling above him.

"Well in that case Sparrow, maybe you should have considered staying wherever is was that you ran to, and then you wouldn't be in this condition, and locked in a cell," Norrington said looking down with an annoyed stare.

"Yes, I have considered that, but I'm 'ardly 'locked in' Navy boy; the door is wide open," Jack answered sounding bored. His tone annoyed Norrington further. "Maybe you think we can 'ave a little sword fight in 'ere. I'd win of course," Jack said, his voice full of innuendoes and double meanings. If Norrington understood them, he did nothing to acknowledge it.

Walking out of the cell, where he had stayed too long, he shut the door and locked it.

"You will be trialled tomorrow," he said before leaving.

Jack grinned up at nothing, and turned his head to see him retreating up the steps.

"Antigua was pretty this morning," he called after him. Norrington stopped abruptly and turned around. "What was left of it ... But of course you'll know all about that, bein' as your the Commodore and all," Jack continued.

"We're you involved in that?"

"Now now Norrington, that's not how you interrogate a prisoner, I'm hardly likely to answer you. This is how it works, I say Parley, Parley aye? And you say, alright Jack I'll parley with ye, and we parley," Jack explained leaning up on his bent arms and looking towards the shadows of the steps. "Parley?"

Norrington seemed to consider this.

"Alright Sparrow, I agree to this parley," Norrington said in a pained voice.

"Listen mate, as much as I love the irony and strange connotations of me name, the last time I looked in a mirror I didn't look like a bird, so call me Jack, aye?"

"Birds are kept in cages," Norrington said crossing his arms and frowning. Jack sat up fully and grinned.

"Birds escape," he said in a low voice.

Norrington suddenly felt uncomfortable standing stupidly in front of him. Sparrow was controlling this conversation, and there was nothing he could do about it if he wanted to learn what Jack knew.

"Besides," he said as if the previous words had never been spoken. "It's one of me terms, savvy?"

"And am I to suppose there are to be more of these terms?" Norrington asked dreading the answer. Jack looked at him with an expression that showed his obvious amusement.

"Of course mate, wouldn't be any fun without them."

Norrington returned to stand in front of his cell. He was trying to ready himself for all sorts of odd requests, and was already thinking up ways in which he could refuse them without Jack realising that he wasn't getting his own way. If the pirate felt he was getting something from the deal, then he would more likely to cooperate.

"Alright Jack name your terms, but remember, I still have the power to refuse you,"

Jack gracefully got up on his feet and wrapped his hands around the bars of the door. He stared out at the man in front of him.

"Nor me crew or meself are to stand trials, and this 'anging business has to be forgotten. You let me back on me ship to repair her, and when it's done, you and your friends can join me for a little trade of information."

"And what makes you think I would even consider agreeing to that? Once I let you out of here you will no doubt disappear."

Jack seemed to think about this.

"Even with me Pearl being the fastest and prettiest in the seas, I can't make her sail without a wind mate," Jack said honestly. "Unless ye think me even more brilliant than I really am, in which, I'm sorry to be disappointing you."

"You are without a doubt the most deluded person I have ever met!" Norrington replied. But Jack was right. Even if he did let him go, he couldn't leave Port Royal. "But you are also the most unpredictable. If I don't see you holding your side of this bargain, there will be a large bullet hole in your head. Do you savvy that?"

Jack grinned and held out his jewelled hand, however he seemed reluctant to let Norrington shake it, and pulled it back after as if burnt.

"Aye. Now, let me out."

Jack wandered irritatingly down the cobbled road and into the nearest tavern. Only today, Sparrow wasn't looking for a drink. A meal was all that was on his mind, and his aching stomach would not let him forget it. Pushing open the door, Jack made his way to the bar and sat down on a stool. A number of Navy men, who were off duty, gave him strange looks. They nudged each other and pointed. Jack ignored them and rapped his knuckles on the wooden bar top. The barkeeper walked over to him, annoyed at being called in such a way.

"Yes, and what can I get you?"

"I want feedin' mate, bring me something good, ey?"

The man looked at the woman at the other end of the bar and then nodded. Jack waited until the plate of meat and potatoes was placed in front of him before asking for rum. As soon as the food hit his stomach, he knew his fondness for the drink would return. Taking the spoon, he scooped up the chopped potato and hastily shoved it into his mouth.

"If you eat that fast you'll get sick," a female voice warned from beside him.

Jack looked around to see Anamaria sitting next to him, a broad grin on her face.

"How did you get off me Pearl?" Jack asked eying her suspiciously.

"How did you get out of the cells?" She asked, feeling annoyed at the captain's suspicion. Jack grinned gold teeth at her and drank slowly from his tankard. Knowing that he wasn't going to respond, she answered his question. "I swam. I waited until the Navy Guards weren't lookin' and I stole over the side."

"That's me girl. Ah lass I did well to 'ave you aboard me ship," Jack said eating more of his meal. "So, you swam all that way to see Jack did you?"

Ana snorted in a most unladylike fashion.

"Like hell I did! Nay, I'm here to drink. Oi mate, bottle of rum when your ready."

"Make it two," Jack said holding up two dirt covered fingers and watching the man fetch the drinks. "Now that we're alone luv..."

"Don't push it Sparrow," she replied smacking Jack's wandering hand away from her thigh.

Before Jack could make another move, a commotion began in the back of the tavern.

"I'll kill you filth! She's mine, keep your thieving hands off of her!" A man shouted, knocking over a table in anger as he stood.

"Oh aye, will yer? I'd like ter see yer try you big lump of lard!" his accused retorted.

The man was answered by a fist connecting roughly with his jaw. The man now on the ground flung himself up and towards his attacker. The Navy men near Jack all jumped up and headed towards the back.

"Break it up lads," one of the Navy men ordered, as he took hold of the fighting men.

The fight progressed into involving two other men who had had their drinks knocked over in the brawl. As they joined in, the fight became more uncontrolled, with curses and the Navy men being roughly pushed out of the way, until it involved most of the tavern. Jack and Ana looked at one another before attempting to sneak out through a back door. Just as Jack reached the door and was about to reach back for Ana'a hand, he felt her being dragged away from him.

"I'll teach you to bump into me!" an angry man hissed raising his hand to strike the pirate woman. Jack struggled back towards them, but not in time to save Ana from the blow that was struck. Scrambling on the floor to help her, Jack was grabbed ruthlessly by the collar and pushed into the mist of the fight.

No sense was in the fight, punches were being flung at everyone just for the sake of fighting. The two that had begun it now lay motionlessly on the floor, only the rise and fall of their chests showing them to be alive. Ana pushed her way though bodies until she met Jack who was doing the same, and the two headed quickly for the door once more, only this time with cuts and bruises.

"Remind me never to 'ave a drink in Port Royal again lass, people 'ere have no respect for the rules of confrontation," Jack grumbled wiping the blood on his face away with his sleeve.

"Tis no use Captain, it'll keep bleed'n till you see a doctor," Ana said looking at the blood running freely from Jack's nose. "Might be broken."

"Well it certainly feels like it," Jack said holding his sleeve under his nose to catch the red liquid. "And I ain't going to a doctor. Bloody doctors always telling you what ter do."

Ana finally had her way, by persuading Jack that she needed stitches above her eye, and that he might as well come along too. Upon entering the doctor's house in the early morning, Jack met with someone unexpected.

"Good mornin' Commodore," Jack said, his voice muffled as though speaking with a cold. "Fancy seein' you 'ere!"

Norrington did a double take at the sight of the pirate. Blood was still all over Jack's face, contrary to Ana's suspicions, his nose wasn't broken, but he was displaying an angry bruised eye.

"Seems you cannot even be trusted to even feed yourself properly Sparrow," Norrington said a sneer on his face. "I'm now wondering if this information you are prepared to share with me is worth this trouble. If we had not had your little parley, you wouldn't be in this state."

"Aye, I'd be danglin' on the end of a rope," Jack replied seriously. "Don't suppose you would pay for me medical bills, hey Norrington mate?" Jack asked, smiling what he knew was on of his most winning smiles. It didn't have the desired effect, and he blamed it on the blood still on his face.

Norrington laughed almost sinisterly.

"After the trouble you have cost me? Be thankful you are not already dead. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to persuade two hundred men that want to see you dead, to let you walk around unharmed?"

"Almost as hard as makin' the decision yourself, eh?" Jack said as the doctor pulled a chair up beside him and placed a damp cloth on his face with a heavy hand.

Norrington was suddenly reminded of how easy he had agreed to Jack's demands.

"Indeed," he replied, knowing full well that this reply betrayed nothing.

The cloth was taken away from Jack's face, and Norrington noticed that it had taken most of the blood away with it. He was glad; it had given Sparrow a most sinister look.

"Well Mr Sparrow, I suggest rest for a few days, and no more rum. It will slow the healing process, and if you are thinking of going to sea again soon, you will need his to heal fast," the doctor ordered as he began making a note in a small pocket book.

Jack stared at him.

"I will write your bill," the doctor said walking to a table and pulling a small sheet of paper towards him.

"Charge it to me Charles," Norrington said as Jack looked at him with an amused smile. "I'll pay it at the end of the month."

"Very good Sir," the doctor said before picking up his bag and hat and heading to the door. "My housekeeper will help you if you need anything further, I have visits to make."

Norrington nodded to him and the doctor left.

"I know full well you don't have any money Sparrow,"

"What happened to call'n me Jack?" Jack interrupted. Norrington turned his back on him and headed to the door.

"Until you uphold your end of the bargain Sparrow, I shall not be holding mine. You have two days to make ready, and if you are not, then you will be back in those cells," he said sharply before leaving.

Anamaria snickered into her fist, and then grimaced at the pain it caused her wound. Jack dabbed at his black eye with the cold cloth, and stared sadly out of the window. The mood in the room dropped from cheerful to sorrow by the change in Jack's eyes.

"What is this bargain Jack?" Ana asked.

Jack looked at her, his bad eye making him look even more the pirate.

"One yer'll have ter trust me with luv. I don't want ter be seeing your pretty neck in a noose lass. Just a trade of information for freedom,"

"It's not freedom Jack if you have to barter for it,"

"Tis better than the drop luv,"

Ana shrugged and looked down at her boots, she clicked her heels together in boredom and began to whistle. If Jack was trading information for freedom, then it had to be something that Norrington desperately needed. She couldn't help but think that this was only going to end in trouble, and maybe worse than anything the Navy would have done to them.