AN: SPOILER WARNING The final results of At World's End are alluded to. Don't read if you don't want to know.

Salvage Operation
by Mar'isu

They never should have set out, the 12-year-old thought as he struggled to maintain his footing on the deck and make fast the loose cargo. The Flying Pearl was a good ship, but she wasn't meant to weather this type of storm. For all his efforts, he knew they were lost . . .

"Do you fear death, son?" The young man looked up into a face perhaps twice his age if that. Long wavy brown hair fell around the stranger's face and curiously blank brown eyes met his own.

"Why?" the shipwreck victim asked, beyond fear or even concern in his shock at being alive. "Have you come to give it to me?" He looked beyond the stranger to the two-masted ship that seemed to have risen out of the sea itself. That confirmed to him that he was hallucinating and already halfway to death's door. He began trembling, old family stories almost coming to life before his eyes. Suddenly, the words spoken by that creepy woman as they'd sailed from New Orleans came back to him, and he repeated them to the stranger bending over him. "I have seen too little of life to fear death."

A slight smile graced the stranger's face, and the boy got the feeling that that face smiled too little. "Mr. Gibbs, you certainly have a way with choosing crewmen," he called over his shoulder with a hint of sarcasm.

A grizzled old salt of a sailor, his hair completely white and a flask always at hand, answered. "I thank 'e, Captain. Why just look at him. A faithful hand before the mast, or I've never seen one. Runs in his blood, I'd bet."

"Runs in his -?" the Captain turned back, gaping. He raised his hand as if to touch the boy's face, but held back. "Gibbs, find Bootstrap and Elizabeth. And tell them our prayers may be answered."

With shocked fear, the boy watched as the old sailor disappeared, almost faded into the sea itself. He quickly returned leading two others. The first was an older, somewhat waterlogged man who bore more than a passing resemblance to the Captain. The second was a woman about the same age as the boy's own mother. She immediately caught the Captain by the arm.

"Will, love, do you really think?" she asked breathlessly.

"Aye, love," the Captain answered. "She may have missed one."

"Let's not go raising our hopes," the old man interjected. He stepped toward the boy, who shrank back from him. "Was any of your family on the ship know as the Titanic, boy?" he asked.

The young man nodded, still trembling with fear. "My great-grandfather. He was six."

This time it was the woman to speak. "And what might your name be, child?" She drew the shivering boy to her breast and he burrowed into her embrace.

"William Turner," he answered, then added the rest in a rare show of trust, "the thirteenth."

AN: So, weird enough for you? Tell me.