Chapter 4

Authors Note: Writing from the country house, we come up here nigh every weekend now because my dad's into real-estate up here and this is where he'll be pretty much from now on. So every Friday we all pack our stuff for the weekend, which means sadly for me that I cant get to Internet until Monday. It also kinda pisses me off cause there's no cable tv up there so we live off movies, nor is there any movie THEATER, you know? 'sigh'

After nearly knocking over an apple cart, then barely escaping an exhibitioner's dagger aimed at an excited volunteer from the crowd. Ana's pulling him back by his sleeve saved him from a knife through the arm just as it had safeguarded the coins in his pocket for paying for the apples.

It was disconcerting to say the least, usually when Jack felt the fine hairs on the back of his neck rise defenses would come racing to life warning him that all was definately not well. He still couldnt shake the apprehension that someone was staring at them, but he figured rationally that there weren't many who'd advert their eyes after that grand spectacle.

Those who knew him came up to talk or offered to buy him a drink, those that didnt wrote him off as a drunken rogue who'd never be any better than a pirate.

Balance was another serious issue, or it would have been had he not been so well attuned to the ocean for so many years. Nearly thirty-one years of having his center of gravity shift rapidly from moment to moment had left him more than simply sturdy on any type of terrain.

It had also given him instincts that he unconsciously used when he felt shifts in the air or vibrations on the ground warning him that someone or something was coming his way.

Ana marveled at the nonchalant manner in which Jack meandered through the street. Usually his gait was that of a seasoned sailor, a mimicry or the currents and tide of the ocean, but today he could have rivaled that of a dancing instructor.

Perfectly proper in every way, yet there was a look of preoccupied concentration that proved it wasnt done apurpose. She didnt find it difficult to watch out for both herself and her Captain, whenever they docked at port she found herself doing the same for any of the crew.

She protected them from pick-pockets and overzealous harlots with hands that ventured too near overfilled pockets. At least before the crew seperated from whichever tavern they occupied, they were grown men and would have to look after themselves as soon as they stepped out of her view.

The men knew and appreciated it, but it didnt stop them from searching out whores no matter how great the danger. Jack hadnt used any of Scarlett or Giselle's ladies since Ana rejoined the crew so many years ago. He hadnt needed to, nor had he the urge to search out or broaden this particular horizon.

"Ana," Jack turned a placating 'I'm your Captain' expression her way, "What say you to a drink 'fore visiting t'good doctor, eh?"

"I say after the doctor sees you then we be getting the drink." she replied in a no-nonsense tone, she had been expecting something of the sort. After the drink Jack would find two or three people to look up, then any number of stories later it would be too late to search out a physician.

It had taken him awhile to get used to the sensation of staring with his eyes open, yet seeing nothing. He couldnt shake the feeling that he was blind-folded and any minute Ana would laugh and tell him it had all been a horrible trick.

His senses had taken over for him, however, and though he couldnt see where he was going, he could hear better than ever. His skin prickled whenever he got too close to someone, and he felt vibration in the ground when a carriage, horse, or donkey approached.

- - - - - - - -

So they were heading to the physician, were they? How predictable, the edge of a black cloak caught a wisp of wind and exposed his hiding place. The couple didnt see him, the wench was busy looking for shop signs, and the pirate stared straight ahead with an unnatural seriousness to his stance.

That would be permanent if he had anything to do with it, Jack would learn what it was like to loose everything and be left with not even instinct to fall back on. He'd changed his mind, he wouldnt kill the Captain, he'd leave him worse than dead.

- - - - - - - -

"There yet?" Jack asked stifling a yawn, Singapore was famous for many things, their doctors werent one of them.

"Are you a child?" Ana asked hearing the same question for the sixth time, "Honestly, a babe has more maturity than you."

"Can you see it?"


"How 'bout now?" he could tell by her voice that her temper was rising, she could sit and knot ropes for hours, yet engage her in verbal combat and the woman had a fuse shorter than a cannon.

'Smack' admittedly he did deserve that, but it hadnt been as painful as the ones administered in the past. He tested his jaw to assure himself of drinking capability and glared, in what he hoped was, her direction.

"Remind me never to let you near children."

"Takes two, Captain." she cleared her throat pointedly, "All you had to do was tell me... there's another perfectly good hammock..."

"No!" he realized her intent and the threat of witholding favors, "I didnt mean it, I didnt-"

"Here we are." she linked her arm through his to keep him from continuing down the street. "Barnaby's Medicinal Aide."

"Barnaby?" Jack repeated in disbelief, "You want me t'bloody be treated by a man named Barnaby?"

"You have a Marty and Gibbs on your ship, not to mention a parrot that talks for Cotton. Any further protestation?" she pushed open the door immediately sensing something not-quite-right about the place.

Jack felt it too, an ominous presence lurking within the shadows of the building. He took the lead despite Ana's attempt to get near the stairs first. Though he didnt know how he knew there were stairs, but the room felt narrow and the only logical explanation was that an upper chamber hosted patients.

He'd been to Singapore often enough to remember that the brothels were designed in the same way, a staircase leading to pleasurable company enough to slake a man's lust. Listening for any suspicious sounds he ascended the staircase with his cutlass at the ready.

"Following the woman.. 's why ye got here so fast." the door at the top of the rickety stairs opened with a sinister creak, "I thought twould take you half a day more, at least."

Why did that drawl sound so familiar? It was improbable, he had killed Barbossa himself! He had watched him die, his body left to decompose as time took its toll.

"Aye, thats right, Jack." his name was pronounced the same way, the syllables drawn out in the same irritating way, "Put two and two together, Captain. How is it possible, you ask? Didnt read the bit o'wording on th' back, did ye."

"The what?" Ana snapped, it wasnt Barbossa, this man was as young as Jack with dark brown hair cut short to be comfotable under a wig. "What's your game, boy?"

"Boy? Watch whom ye're speakin' to, wretch." the man's dark eyes glittered supernaturally, "I'm the Captain here, but this time I'm no' alone."