Summary: Jack Sparrow, infamous master of seduction, is captured by a Siren's song. Can the Pearl's crew, particularly Anamaria, save him?

Author's note: Alright, I've been wanting to write a Pirates of the Caribbean fanfic for about a year now, and I've tried five times and failed each time. My biggest concerns with this story are that (1) Jack and Anamaria are horridly out of character and (2) I'll run out of ideas or interest and the story will die. So this is just a warning: Don't expect the world of this fanfic, because it has some serious issues. But! I still appreciate reviews a lot, so what'd you say? Please?

Tidal Serenade
Chapter One: Music On the Waters

For once, Jack Sparrow, the most notorious pirate captain in the Caribbean and the constant annoyance of English naval officers and pretty women everywhere, was not causing widespread mayhem, plundering any merchants, seducing helpless ladies, or planning wildly daft schemes. Instead, he was leaning against the rail of his beloved Black Pearl, listening to his crew celebrate nothing in particular behind him and enjoying the calm, steady twilight.

The sun, sinking into the water to the West, had not yet resigned itself to surrender the heavens; its last remnants traced a cool, pale gold line across the horizon, which was reflected and refracted within the waves. To the East, darkness unfurled like high tide stretching across the sands of some distant, unknown shore. A crescent moon, as coldly pallid as the inside of a shell, observed time and space spin around, before, through it; the stars, solitary drops of silvered spindrift, escorted it through the sky.

No bloody Navy ships prowled the sea this evening, he noted with satisfaction. Three nights before, they had spotted two brigs, wrinkled shadows on the horizon, like a pair of shark fins jutting up from the waves. The pirates had turned and fled, the Pearl terrible and beautiful in flight, flinging foam and spray aside as she soared across the water. His lady, Jack knew, had easily outraced the Navy's ships, and then he had put them further off the trail by backtracking. Yet even his apparently limitless self-assurance could not completely abate the concern that, somehow, they would find her and engage her. Fierce though the Pearl was, he hated to subject her to potential injury if he could avoid it.

He inhaled deeply, taking in the night, brine and sea salt on the breeze, the warm wet scent of wood. A sense of contentment surged through him, and he wholeheartedly embraced the peacefulness of the moment, so rare aboard the Pearl.

"Where shall we voyage next?" he murmured to the ship. Nothing but the sound of water and his crew's raucous laughter replied. With a shimmer of gold and ivory in his sudden smile, he turned on his heel and inspected the decks, searching. Finally, he spotted his quarry: a cascade of long dark hair falling away to reveal a crescent of creamy brown skin, a piercing dark eye observing the crew, and a jaw set so severely with rigid disapproval that, he imagined, it could equal a dagger for sharpness.

He sidled carefully over to her side and whispered, "Ye'll want to be careful with that look, love, or ye might inadvertently set one o' the crewmembers aflame."

Anamaria started, and then rounded on him angrily. She hated surprises. "If we didn't have to stop to bother with this foolishness," she began, "we—"

"Let 'em have their fun, Ana," Jack interrupted. "They'd mutiny if we drove them constantly."

She clenched her jaw, knowing that he was correct. Then the flint in her eyes melted slightly and she allowed her mouth to relax. "They wouldn't mutiny against ye, Jack," she murmured. "They respect ye too much for that. And ye know it," she added.

Jack quirked an eyebrow. "Mayhap," he said vaguely. The pair stood in silence for a moment, watching the crew enjoy themselves. Then Jack asked, "D'ye have a minute? I want your opinion on something." Anamaria glanced sidelong at him, wondering what he had up his sleeve. "Don't worry, lass," he assured her, grinning, "I promise it doesn't involve any loss of clothin' or any such thing—unless that's what ye want, in which case I am perfectly willin' to oblige a fair lady's wishes." He raised his brows suggestively, bowing with mock cordiality. And then he swiftly had to duck a hard smack.

Anamaria sniffed. "Gettin' quicker, I see."

"Yes'm," he admitted humbly. Then, loftily, he continued, "It seems to be one of those skills a man o' me unappreciated wit and sincerity needs to survive this cruel world."

In spite of herself, Anamaria chuckled. "Sometimes I swear ye'd been raised by nobility, talkin' as finely as ye do."

Jack's eyes darkened and, for a moment, his playful manner ebbed. Then it returned, like a wave crashing back onto shore. "Are ye comin' to my cabin, then, love?" he insisted. "Or do I have to truss ye up and drag ye there meself?"

She responded by starting toward the cabin. Jack paused, assuring himself that all was well aboard the ship, and then followed. One of the crewmembers, noticing the captain and first mate enter Jack's cabin together, nudged his friends and gestured toward the pair. Wry, knowing smiles flitted across the crewmen's faces before they continued on in their pursuit of merriment.

Anamaria halted unexpectedly in the doorway of Jack's cabin, drawing a surprised sound from him as he abruptly had to change tack to avoid a collision. She stared at the room, which was littered with bits of stray parchment, on which were scrawled half-finished sentences, peculiar drawings, cryptic maps, and stories with no beginnings. A large stack of leather-bound, ancient-looking books sat next to a sudden hole among the tumult of paper; apparently Jack had been sitting on the floor of his quarters, surrounded by the mess. There was no real organization or logic or pattern being employed, she noticed, just a potpourri of ideas and queries and answers.

She turned questioning eyes on him, but he simply took her arm and ushered her inside, closing the door behind him. Anamaria tried her best to ignore the sudden desire to rub her arm where he had touched her. He turned and, taking overly exaggerated steps and wind milling his arms crazily to maintain his balance, carefully navigated the paper flotsam and jetsam. Gracefully, he positioned himself in the empty space and gestured to her to take a seat as well. Almost afraid to venture out into the sea of parchment, she settled where she was, her back against the door.

She gazed at her captain, who was skimming over the various fragments around him rather desperately. "Jack?" she interrupted gently. The pirate glanced up distractedly, his dark eyes vague with echoes of words and dreams. He blinked once, twice, and then his eyes cleared and filled with her instead. He smiled abruptly, charmingly, disarmingly. Anamaria's breath hitched in her throat. That smile, swift as the incoming tide, was so easily offered and yet it always managed to surprise her.

"Yes, love?"

"What the bloody hell are ye up to?" she asked tactlessly.

His smile ebbed as rapidly as a receding wave. "In all honesty," said Jack, gazing contemplatively at the ceiling and twirling one braid of his goatee with an index finger, "I haven't the slightest." Anamaria frowned and opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. "What I mean is, I know perfectly well what I'm tryin' to do, I just haven't achieved it yet, savvy?"

She shook her head, more to clear her head of his nonsensical Jack-logic than to disagree.

Jack flashed a grin in her direction and clarified, "I dunno about you, lass, but I'm ready for another adventure. I just need to find it, is all."

Anamaria snorted, shaking her head, and told him, "Ye're daft as they come, Jack Sparrow."

"Aye," he agreed distantly, studying a piece of parchment. "Ah!" he exclaimed, having apparently found what he was looking for. He gazed at her, kohl-lined eyes full of tide and shadow and mystery, and she wondered what he was thinking. Then he said, handing her a roughly drawn map, "What'd ye reckon our chances are o' findin' Atlantis?"

Anamaria stared at the piece of paper and its crude depiction of the lost city. "Jack," she said, "ye're even dafter than I imagined."

There was a momentary silence. Then Jack laughed and took the map back, and the temporary tension in the room dispelled. "Aye, well," he said. "'Twas naught but a wish." A glint in the depths of his eyes, however, revealed that she had not heard the last of this wish. Before she could respond with a warning or a comment, the pirate captain changed the subject. "How's the book comin'?"

Anamaria allowed herself a tiny smile. "It's decent enough," she replied. He had lent her a book about a month ago, when he had finished teaching her to read and write. She was by no means a quick reader, but she was managing, and she had to admit the book was quite interesting.

"Good," said Jack. The conversation turned to other things and Jack's proposition was, for the time being, tucked away.

That night, Jack could not sleep. He stood and paced silently around his room, now cleared of all paper. Anamaria had reacted as he had thought she would, but he was convinced he could pique her interest. When she finished the book he had given her, he could lend her one about the lost city.

Suddenly seized by a desire for fresh air, Jack slipped on his shirt and boots and wandered outside. Carefully avoiding detection—tonight he wanted to be left alone—he crept across the ship until he came to a coil of rope at the base of the bowsprit. He curled up and, lulled by the Pearl's rocking, waited for sleep to come. As he walked the indistinct line between reality and dreams, never quite fully in one or the other, he gradually became aware of something beneath the steady rhythm of the tide. Muzzily, he tried to concentrate on the sound, to separate it from the noise of the ocean. And yet, the more he struggled to divide the sounds, the more he became aware that the two were entwined.

Jack stopped attempting to hear the unknown sound as a distinct entity and simply listened to the tide instead. It seemed normal at first, removed from his conscious by distance and the regular rules of reality. Then, abruptly, the sound amplified, clarified, until it surged through his mind and sang in his blood, and the unfamiliar noises beneath it became decipherable. It was a song, composed of tidal notes, the cries of seabirds, the hiss of water, the haunting melody plucked from whale-songs; yet it was more than that. It was a haunting serenade of summons and loss, cresting and ebbing with the waves, a feral lament that plummeted and swelled at unexpected times, a harmony so excruciatingly exquisite that it brought tears to Jack's eyes.

The song stopped as soon as he recognized it as such, leaving only an echo, a mere sigh of the original, playing up and down the edges of his mind. To this faint murmur of tidal song, Jack Sparrow fell deeply asleep.

And so there you have it. As I said, reviews are appreciated. I'll try and continue if you happen to like it.