Disclaimer: Not mine, but the Mouse's.
Note: Sorry for the looooooong delay in finishing this. I couldn't decide what mark Jack had left on Beckett, and then I got distracted by Doctor Who. But it turned out there was really only one chapter left - here it is.
Awakening with a breeze on his face, it took Jack a few moments to work out where he was. After the rescue, Bill Turner and the others had whisked him along the streets and into the maze of shanties near the dock. They were there now, the door to the hut open so the sea air blew in freshly.
Turner himself was by the door, but he turned when Jack moved and was swiftly by his thin pallet.
"'M all right," said Jack, sitting up. "Thirsty." Bill handed him a cup of water, followed by a flask of rum. "You're a bloody legend," Jack said, drinking deeply of both. "Now, how the hell did you manage to get me out?"
He listened as Bill told the story, and laughed heartily at the end. It felt good to laugh - it had been too long.
"The others are dead," he said, once Bill had fallen silent.
"We figured," said Bill. "When you never came to the meeting point, an' the others never turned up."
Jack examined his brand, which no longer hurt and was beginning to fade from its livid colour. "There was no mercy for them," he said. "My Pearl's at the bottom of the sea."
"Aye, he's a rotten bastard, all right," Bill agreed. "But listen, Jack. Aarit's found us a ship - well, a boat, more like, but she's seaworthy and she'll get us away from this place. Sailing tonight."
Getting to his feet, Jack stretched experimentally. "Good. Now, I'll need a sword, and a pistol if you have one." He went to the door, peering up at the slithers of sky showing between rooftops. "What's the time?"
He had expected Bill to argue, but he hadn't quite expected him to stand in the doorway and bar the way.
"I'm orderin' you to move!" Jack said.
"You're half-starved and you'll be outnumbered!" Bill countered, arms folded. "We ain't risked our lives to get you out only for you to go charging back in there."
Jack folded his own arms. "I've got to deal with the bastard. I'll meet you at the ship at sundown."
The disguise took a short time to prepare - despite Bill's continued resistance to the plan, the rest of the crew were more amenable. Aarit offered to join Jack, but Jack declined. This was something he had to do alone. He left the crew with a promise to meet them by sundown; if not, they were to sail.
"But I'll be there," he said, projecting confidence he did not really feel.
They wished him luck, and Jack was on his own.
In the disguise he was able to move with ease through the crowded streets, attracting no attention. Just another native, going about everyday business.
From the outside, the East India Company's quarters were imposing. Jack noted the high walls and the guards on duty, and surreptitiously loosened his borrowed sword in its sheath. With his other arm he adjusted the basket on his head, and kept going.
There was just one guard at the gate where supplies were brought in and out, a young man. Jack checked his disguise one last time, and approached.
"Namaste," he said, pitching his voice high and soft and bowing his head as best he could with a basket on top of it.
The guard gave him a once-over, a grin, and jerked his head to allow Jack through the gate.
Jack went past, almost wishing things had been more tricky. This was too easy - something was bound to go wrong.
He kept going, following his nose. The cells were close by, he knew, but he bypassed them and headed to the main buildings of the complex. In a quiet corner, Jack paused and put down the basket of spices he had been carrying on his head, native-style. He dug out his pistol - borrowed from Frattori, and now smelling of cardamom - and shed the violet sari that had been concealing his shirt and breeches and sword.
The corridors of the house were quiet, cool and dark. Jack crept forward, keeping an alert eye and ear out for others moving around. He was not certain how he would find Beckett's office, but round two more corners he recognised a tapestry on the wall, and a short way down the corridor he found the door he was seeking.
He checked the corridor again. No guards. Trying the door, Jack found it was open. Sword in hand, he slipped through.
Beckett had his back turned, and was busy with a pile of papers. He did not react to Jack's presence until the sword blade was at his throat.
"Put the quill down," Jack said, softly.
Beckett did so, raising his hands and turning. "I must say I'm impressed," he said, "and somewhat surprised. I thought you and your merry band would be well gone by now."
"I had unfinished business," Jack returned. "I ain't the sort to leave unfinished business unfinished."
"You were rescued," said Beckett, eyebrows raised. "What's unfinished?"
Jack pressed the sword into Beckett's neck. "I don't care about being banged up for a while," he said. "Ain't the first time, sure it won't be the last. But you murdered me crew and you sank me ship."
"You broke your word," Beckett said. "We had a business agreement."
"That's all this is to you, business?" Jack said, taking the sword away. "Don't move. Just business?"
Beckett smiled, thinly. "Business, Captain Sparrow, is everything. It puts food on tables and clothes on backs. Business will rule this world when every pirate ship is rotting on the bottom of the sea."
Jack sifted through documents with the end of his sword. "Not the Pearl," he said. "I'm getting her back."
The other man laughed, a thin, humourless laugh. "It's in pieces on the sea floor, Jack, you know that."
Catching Beckett's shoulder, Jack nodded. "And I'm getting' her back." He sliced sideways with the sword and caught the lock of mousy hair as it fell. Waving it in Beckett's face, he said, "this is my key to doing it."
"Really, Jack, this is ridiculous," said Beckett.
"Read up on your sea-lore, mate," Jack said. "Read up on Davy Jones. That's the business I'm about." He put the sword against Beckett's neck again. "Not that you'll have the time, of course."
The large and very English grandfather clock by the wall struck three. Beckett, stockstill, said, "The captain of the guard sees me at this time. Will he find me alive or dead, Jack?"
Outside the door there was the regular, approaching sound of footsteps. Jack hesitated. He had wanted nothing more than to end Beckett's miserable life, but now it came to it, he was not sure he was able to. This was not self-defence. This was not a duel. If he killed Beckett now, it would be no less a murder than the killing of his crew aboard the Black Pearl.
The footsteps approached. Jack hesitated. Beckett looked at him with those damnably calm eyes.
Jack swore, and took the sword away. It left a thin scratch from which blood began to seep, and Beckett put his hand to the wound.
Sheathing the sword, Jack made for the window, thanking whichever benevolent god that was watching over him for the fact Beckett's office was on the ground floor. Even as Beckett began to call for help, Jack was out of the window and running.
He made it out of the complex and into the crowds outside before the East India Company guards had had a chance to get moving and catch him. Ducking and weaving, Jack doubled back on himself twice and borrowed someone's washing, hung up to dry, to act as a makeshift sari. The disguise had worked before; it could work again.
He hid amid the bustling streets until it began to get dark. Then he followed his nose and found the docks.
Aarit's boat, a simple dhow with a single, lateen-rigged sail, was awaiting, the survivors from the Black Pearl aboard. Jack cast off the mooring lines and sprang aboard as the dhow moved silently off her berth, slipping through the water of the harbour and out towards open ocean.
Nobody said anything until they were well offshore, the single sail drawing well with Aarit's skilful hand at the tiller. Jack sat fiddling with the tuft of Beckett's hair.
"Water?" Bill Turner sat down next to him.
"Ta." Jack drank.
"Well?" asked Bill. "Happy? Is he dead?"
"No. But he won't be forgetting Jack Sparrow in a hurry," Jack said. He held the hair up. "And I've got what I needed."
"It's just a superstition," said Bill, after a moment. "It's not goin' to work, Jack. It's just a daft superstition."
"Ever tried it?" asked Jack. "Course you haven't. So how d'you know it won't work?"
It took them several days, but the dhow was well-provisioned. When Jack had outlined his plans to the crew there had been mutterings and some laughter, but they had obeyed his orders and now the boat was nearing the place where, as best they could work out, the Pearl had been sunk.
They hove to on a calm morning, with scattered clouds in the sky. The crew gathered on deck, some looking apprehensive and others merely interested as Jack stood by the rail and took out the twist of Beckett's hair. He tried to remember what the legends said about how to do this, and after a moment tossed the hair overboard. It floated on the water's surface. Jack cleared his throat, looking down at the deep blue depths hiding the Black Pearl.
"I call upon thee, Davy Jones," he said, "to accept this token; and I implore thee, as ferryman of the departed, to bring back to me what was lost."
Someone behind him coughed, but Jack's attention was all on the sea. He did not notice the black clouds gathering, but he did notice the rush of water from the bow-wave of the great ship that rose out of nowhere. She was encrusted with barnacles and dripping with weed, and she dwarfed the dhow as she came alongside. Her crew - of men who did not look quite like men - lined the rail, gripping weapons.
Seconds later Jack found himself staring into the face of a tall figure, face framed by tentacles.
"You called me," it said.
"Davy Jones?" said Jack, tentatively.
"Thanks for coming," Jack said. "I want me ship back."
"And who might you be?" asked Jones, tipping his head on one side and fixing his gaze on Jack.
"Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow, of the Black Pearl. She's down there." Jack jerked his thumb at the ocean. "I gave you the bit of him what sank her - can you bring her back?"
Davy Jones laughed. It was not a pleasant sound. "You did'nae need the token, Captain Sparrow," he said. "It's not that I desire from you."
"Oh," said Jack. "What do you desire? Want, I mean?"
"Your soul, Jack Sparrow," Jones said. "In exchange for your ship."
There was silence, save for the lapping of the waves against the hull of the dhow. Jack considered. "My soul?"
"You'll have thirteen years," said Jones. "Thirteen years with your ship, and then I claim your soul."
Rising from his seat on a barrel, Bill Turner said, "no, Jack. Even the Pearl ain't worth that."
Jack turned to look at his old friend. "This ain't your decision, Bill." He met Jones's eyes. "First off, tell me what happened to me crew."
"They've passed on," Jones said. "I gave them the choice to join me crew aboard the Dutchman, but they chose death. They were loyal to you."
"They were good men," said Jack. "So, this soul deal - that's all there is to it? You give me the Pearl, an' in thirteen years you get me soul in exchange? What if someone kills me first?"
"Then I get your soul sooner," said Jones, "unless ye die on land. But I do not think that will be your fate, Jack Sparrow."
Jack made his decision. He held out his hand. "Done."
"Done?" Jones seemed slightly surprised.
"Few would make such a bargain," Jones said.
"I ain't many," Jack returned. "That ship's all I ever wanted. I'd rather have thirteen years with her than thirty with another." He waved his hand in Jones's face. "Done."
Jones extended a great lobster's claw as a hand. Carefully, Jack took it, and they shook. "Thirteen years," said Jones, and disappeared. A moment later they saw him aboard his ship, snapping orders to his crew; the Dutchman's sails filled and she sank beneath the waters in a rush of foam.
Aboard the dhow, Jack and his men waited. Jack found himself gripping the rail with tight fingers, hoping he had not doomed himself for nothing.
And then the Black Pearl rose from the depths, reforming into a single, whole ship as she did so. Splintered planking knitted together; shredded sails billowed above the decks. Jack found himself smiling at the sight of his beautiful vessel, but behind him Aarit cursed in Hindi and Frattori let out an awed "cazzo!"
Jack did not care. The deal was worth it - Jones had kept to his word. Seizing a line, he swung across the narrow gap between the dhow and the resurrected Pearl, and landed on the dark deck. Everything was right; she had been brought back exactly as she was. Jack ran his hands over the old wood of the rail, felt the worn smoothness of the pins, tugged on a brace and saw the yard-arm above him respond. With joy in his heart he turned back to the dhow.
"All right, you lubbers! Aboard, and we'll have courses and topsails set. If I ain't mistaken there's a good northerly coming. We're settin' a course for the Caribbean."
The crew exchanged glances, but followed him aboard the black ship and set about obeying his orders. Jack went to the bridge, rested his hands on the well-known helm, and felt the old movement of his beloved ship beneath his feet.
"Brace sharp to starboard," he called.
The Pearl picked up speed, leaving the dhow bobbing in her wake. The men hauled taut on the lines until the sails were set to Jack's satisfaction.
"Now," Jack said, as much to the ship as to himself, "bring me that horizon."