One Shot: The Donkey's Name is Jack
Disclaimer: This POTC profit is not meant for me.
Summary: Jack meets the Donkey again in Will's shop. Mayhem ensues. Will Will really be a eunuch? Elizabeth drops in for a moment to save the day. Hector Barbossa gets his comeuppance. I have no idea how I came to write anything so silly. I blame it on being a passenger in a car for a whole day.
Thank you, geekmama, for getting me ready to make way. I'd have had a hard time of it without your beta help.
The Donkey's Name is Jack
The back door to the smithy of Master William Turner opened slowly, and the Master himself peered in cautiously.
"Coast is clear," he called quietly as he entered the dim, dusty interior.
A shadow appeared behind him, ghosting into the shop as he closed the door. This was not normally the way customers arrived, but then this was not a normal customer.
The standard respectable clientele of Master Turner would have been horrified to see the gaudily dressed pirate who was making himself at home in the smithy. Jack Sparrow had dropped in to visit his friends, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, in spite of bounties on his dark, disheveled head and the threat of commodores around any corner of Port Royal. If he could also transact a little business on this social call, so much the better.
Jack's spectacular escape from Fort Charles several months earlier had left his effects in the hands of the British Navy who, in good Navy tradition, had pirated them. He'd supplanted his old pistol with two dandy new ones, but he could only reconcile himself to the loss of his trusty sword by replacing it with one crafted by the best swordsmith in the Caribbean. And in true Sparrow form, he had shown up to collect the order himself.
The fun of the surprise, the tedium of listening to the scolding about his habit of taking risks, and the pleasure of the first delight of friends being over, Jack was now in possession of his beautiful new sword. Since the Swann residence and grounds were far too infested with the prattling tongues of servants, Will had offered Jack a berth at his shop for the night, or at least until that part of the night when Jack deemed it safe to sneak back to the boat in which he'd arrived.
Toting his effects into the shop, the pirate looked around at the familiar place. The few minutes he'd spent here before had stamped themselves indelibly on his brain.
As Jack passed the smith's donkey, the little animal laid its ears back and snorted in alarm. Vague instinctual memories informed it that this was a smell associated with Bad Things. When the dangerous man did not go away but came closer, the donkey let out a distraught bray and began to crowhop in its harness.
Will hurried around Jack and wrapped an arm around the donkey's neck. Gently rubbing the upset animal's nose, he soothed it with low murmurs.
The donkey gradually calmed down. Bad Things did not happen when this safe man was around.
Looking up at Jack, Will wondered aloud, "Whatever can be wrong with this beast? I've never seen him act this way before."
To Will's surprise Jack actually looked a bit sheepish. "Well now, the two of us may not have gotten off to the best start the last time I was here, as it were."
"Jack," Will's voice was reproving, "What did you do to this poor animal?"
"How do you know it didn't do something to me?" The pirate feigned an air of injured innocence.
When Jack stepped forward, the donkey tried to step back. So he was limited to pointing. "You see that scar on its port quarter?" he asked.
Trust Jack to refer to a land animal in shipboard terms, Will thought exasperated. The man was monomaniacal. He had noted that scar long ago and attributed it to some drunken misstep by his old Master, Mr. Brown. "Yes, I had noticed it."
"I may have been somewhat responsible for that," Jack confessed.
"Well, it was all Commodore Norrington's fault, really. He's the one who had me clapped in irons in the first place," Jack rationalized. "I had to get them off somehow."
"And how did that involve your injuring this donkey?" Will wondered in confusion.
Jack held up his hands as though they were shackled and pantomimed how he had utilized the gears to crush the links. "I needed to get these gears moving, so I encouraged that critter there to get a move on with a piece of metal from that forge." He waved at the glowing furnace.
"You branded the donkey just to get it moving?" Disbelief and anger warred with amusement in Will's face. If that wasn't just like Jack. Never take a straight line when a crooked one would do.
A thoughtful look appeared on Jack's face. To Will's bemusement, Jack rolled up his right sleeve and displayed his pirate's brand to the doubtful donkey.
"Hey, mate," he addressed the animal. "They done it to me, too. So you've had your revenge—a bit prematurely."
"And just what is your opinion about the men who did that to you, Jack?" Will asked.
The pirate considered this for a long moment. Then he turned back to the donkey. "I s'pose I owe you an apology," he said.
The donkey was not looking amenable to reconciliation. It made a rusty gate sound and flattened its ears.
Baffled, Jack asked Will, "Just how does one apologize to a dumb animal anyway?"
"Hmmm." Will pondered the question. "For a pirate, I imagine an offering of rum might do it."
Jack frowned at him. "Someone is asking to have his cork drawn. You'd best have that offering of rum, young Master Turner."
"Or," Will held up a restraining hand, "for a donkey, one might offer a bit of corn." He released the nervous animal and stepped over to a shelf on which resided a dusty canister. "It just so happens that I have in my possession corn for the purpose of apologizing to the donkey, and you may have a handful of it free of charge."
For an instant Jack looked as mulish as the donkey, but then he sighed and held out his left hand. "Fair enough."
Armed with a palmful of the propitiatory grains, Jack approached the donkey again.
The donkey's nostrils whuffled as it caught the scent of the corn. Corn was a rare treat in its humble life. But the scent of the grain was combined with the scent of the scary man. Still, no Bad Things had happened yet. And corn was most definitely a Good Thing. It stretched out its muzzle, trying to reach the kernels without getting near the man.
Finally, Jack felt the dry brush of the donkey's lips on his flattened palm as the animal inhaled the offering. Apparently, the apology was accepted, because the donkey then allowed him to scratch it briefly on the nose and no longer seemed ready to bolt.
"What's its name?" Jack asked Will, figuring if they were going to be friends, he and the donkey should be introduced.
That rather simple question was met with a singularly long silence.
"The donkey's name?" Will asked uneasily.
Jack raised an inquiring eyebrow at him.
"His name . . . um . . . his name . . ." Will frowned at the donkey then finished in a rush, "His name is Jack."
"What!" The amount of outrage and menace Jack managed to pack into that single syllable was impressive.
"His name is Jack," Will repeated firmly. His eyes opened wide in startlement as the blade of Jack's new sword materialized under his nose.
"I heard you the first time, boy," Jack growled. "Now you'd best be doing some mighty fast explaining before I lose my temper and skewer you."
"Easy now, Jack," Will spoke placatingly, backing away from the sword. "There's no need to get violent."
"Oh, I really think there is." The pirate scowled. "Why," he punctuated his words by little jabs of his blade at Will's chest, "do people insist on naming dumb animals after me?"
Curving his body away from that sharper-than-was-strictly-necessary point, Will considered several possible answers to that question before deciding to err on the side of prudence.
"He's not named after you. I swear I didn't even name him. Mr. Brown did. Long before we ever knew you. It's what he is, Jack. You know . . ."
"I do know, young Mister Turner. And the fact that you are not saying it is the only reason you are not facing the loss of certain important body parts that would cause Miss Swann to have second thoughts about your upcoming nuptials!" Jack continued pursuing the retreating blacksmith with his belligerent blade.
Neither of the men had noticed the back door of the smithy opening and Elizabeth entering. She was understandably shocked to find her fiancé being attacked by the pirate.
The moment of distraction her arrival provided allowed Will to seize one of his completed swords and parry Jack's blade aside.
Jack whirled, his attention momentarily diverted. "You had best be addressing me, young missy, and not that misbegotten fleabait of a humiliated horse!"
"Oh, Jack!" Elizabeth's voice held amusement, apology, and admonition.
Will rolled his eyes eloquently at her.
"Excuse me, Miss Swann." Jack nodded politely and turned to renew his attack on his now armed opponent. "I really haven't time to chat, being somewhat occupied in killing the whelp at the moment."
"But Jack," Elizabeth was trying not to laugh, "we worked so hard to save his life! You worked so hard! Surely you wouldn't want to waste all that effort, would you?"
The two men paused, swords crossed in a momentary draw.
Jack tilted his head and laid one finger on his chin. Looking sideways at her, he said, "I'm not sure, darling. It might be worth it. I'll get back to you on that."
The clash of steel on steel resumed. Will was only defending himself, but Jack was pressing his advantage.
Elizabeth turned to her betrothed. "Will, whatever possessed you to tell him that donkey's name?"
Will was looking harassed as he skipped out of the way of Jack's wild swing yet again. "He asked," he tossed over his shoulder.
"Did you have to tell him the truth?" Elizabeth asked plaintively.
"I hate to be the one to break it to you, love," Jack smirked at her as he chased Will around the large central gear shaft. "But young William here is either stupidly honest or honestly stupid. You sure you want to marry him?"
"Yes, I am sure," Elizabeth smiled warmly at her fiancé, admiring the way he skillfully turned aside the pirate's blows, refusing to be drawn into the fight. "So I'd very much appreciate it, Jack, if you'd leave him alive and intact."
Will glowed back at her, and Jack rolled his eyes.
A crafty look suddenly crossed Elizabeth's face. "Jack," she called.
"Why don't you give the donkey another name?"
"What?" Will and Jack spoke in unison.
"Another name." Elizabeth smiled, triumphant at her perfect solution. "He doesn't know his name at all. He's really an old dear, but not very bright."
"That'll make him just the thing for our Will," Jack suggested, scrambling to parry the first serious blow Will had aimed at him. But a thoughtful look grew in his face. Driving Will back a few paces, he dropped the point of his sword towards the earthen floor.
"Alright, whelp, to please the lady, I'll let ye live—this time."
"I'm much obliged, Jack." Will laughed, clapping his strange friend on the shoulder. "Both for the unexpected practice and for my life."
"Come to think of it," Jack grinned mischievously, re-sheathing his sword and draping an arm around each of the children, "leaving you alive to marry the little rum-burner here is probably the best revenge I could take."
This time it was Elizabeth's turn to slap him.
"Hey now, none of that," Jack protested. "Show some respect for your elders." He nodded significantly at Will. "I rest my case. Got a mean right hook, your bonnie lass. You'll want to be watching that."
"Jack," Elizabeth warned.
"I know. I know." Jack bounced away from them. "Digging my grave with my teeth, right? Now where'd that scurvy mule get to?"
The donkey was at the far side of his circle away from the ruckus. Jack approached it with a devilish gleam in his eye.
"Now for your new name," he informed the indignant animal.
Will and Elizabeth waited, holding hands and grinning at each other. Jack was surely up to something.
Putting out one finger, Jack poked the donkey's nose. The donkey snorted. One corner of Jack's mouth quirked up, blossoming into his slow, gold-shot smile of satisfaction.
"Hector. The donkey's name is Hector."
Don't worry Captain Tish, I don't write anything over PG-13 except perhaps a little pirate violence which I always take very seriously. My students read what I write! Thanks for your great comments over on Aboard the Dauntless. I do intend to write that final scene, but I'd need to write all the previous ones where Jack and Anamaria interact in order to know how I want to play that rescue. I suppose I'll get this rating thing figured out someday. Note I'm assuming you'll drop by here. :D