Disclaimer: We're devils, and black sheep, and really bad eggs... and they still belong to Disney, yo ho.

۞

Their relationship had always been acrimonious. He had joined Sparrow's crew with only one thing in mind all those years ago... to wheedle the bearings for the treasure of Isla de Muerta out of the brash young braggart that had sailed into Tortuga to find a fresh crew. In return for his grievious act of mutiny, and for his insatiable greed, he had become cursed by the Aztec gold that they had all plundered, and frittered away carelessly upon uncontrolled vice. Bad choices, all.

All of the while, young Sparrow had gone mad with heat stroke and had vowed to take back his ship from his mutinous first mate, and take the man's life in one single shot that he had stubbornly saved for ten years. Hector Barbossa had been saved from tumbling out of control through eternity by the mumbling incantations and burning incense of one who was bound in her bones by the Brethren of the Coast... of course, in true pirate fashion, she had a motive for saving him, as they had all had a motive for saving Jack Sparrow from his own personal purgatory.

Even the young whelp, Turner, and the devious Swann woman. She had tangled with Hector, before, yet they were all allied to find this man that Hector Barbossa considered a swaggering, vain, skinny blowhard, beforehand. Their very existence as pirates was in the balance, and they needed Sparrow, badly.

None of them, however, was prepared for the condition that they found him in. Hector could not help but notice the looks of veiled sadness that the young couple would have come over them as they watched Sparrow... decidedly a different man than the one that they had known before. Quite decidedly different. Even in their seeming discord and their attempts at distancing themselves from each other, they were drawn together in watching a man that they had once counted as a friend become undoubtedly unhinged right before their eyes.

Hector, himself, even found himself wondering about the man... loathe Jack Sparrow as he might, he found his contempt for him softening a bit... and he growled at himself for even thinking of such a thing...

۞

The stench was overpowering, even at this distance. They had pulled the longboat up onto the sandy white beach to take in the sight that was before their bewildered eyes, and they all wished that they had chosen to land upon a site that was not downwind. As they walked a few paces toward it, Hector looked over at his companion, and was literally shocked to see the look upon the younger man's dark face. His countenance, in general, was expressionless, but Sparrow's eyes were almost as black as ink. In past personal experiences, Hector had only seen this when Sparrow was engulfed in fury... his deep expressive eyes would turn from sparkling rich brown to glittering black, and this was not ever a good sign. Except upon this day, it was not the same... Sparrow's eyes were dull, sorrowful, shocked. His very pupils had dissolved into deep, unfathomable, bottomless black.

Hector let Sparrow lead the way down the beach, not particularly certain that he wanted to follow him toward the decaying hulk. The gulls were flying thickly around the monstrous carcass, picking at it in a macabre way, tearing away bits of rotting flesh as the massive tentacles floated lifelessly in the burning sun, pierced with harpoons and wounded with what seemed to be cannonballs, deeply imbedded. Hector put his hand over his nose and mouth as he finally fell into step, watching the back of the man who was walking in an uncharacteristic straight line. How could he stand the smell, Hector wondered. Yet, the slight figure in front of him kept walking steadily, resolutely through the wet sand.

Hector's mind wandered back into the wraithlike past with this one who was leading the crew down the stretch of beach... they would never be friends; Hector had no friends... in fact, during some points he and Sparrow had downright hated each other.

But oddly, that seemed to have changed some. Jack Sparrow was irritating, annoying, cloying, just plain childish at times, but there was something about him, Hector pondered, that seemed to make him less offensive than he had thought him in the past. Perhaps it was the mysterious gleam that Sparrow's eyes held with since they had rescued him... a gleam that was either completely dark with madness or startling with utter clearheadedness. Perhaps it was Sparrow's purposely keeping his distance from all of those that now sailed with him... as if he were trying to decide if they were all, indeed, real, or if he was truly having yet another hallucination that so easily overtook him.

No matter, Hector thought to himself with a dark frown. Sparrow is just a small piece of what might be the solution to the grand problems that were at hand, and Barbossa knew that he still had some convincing to do in order to make certain that the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean would heed the call... Hector grunted with disgust at the thought of Sparrow having the utter nerve to ignore the song that had been sung... the call for the Court to convene. But then, he remembered, Sparrow was known for his nerve...

He shook himself from his reverie as he looked up at the dead monster that lay before them... Sparrow's walk had slowed... and Hector finally caught up to him. He was suddenly rather surprised at himself at the way that he would view the man who he had previously considered a fool.

As he looked at the younger man next to him, he saw Jack Sparrow clearly for, perhaps, the very first time. Sparrow was staring into the huge, dead, glassy eye of the Kraken. Looking at himself. Looking at his own face. And Hector saw the man's very humanity being reflected back at him from the dead, clouding eye of the monster that had killed him. And as Hector watched this, he realized that he, himself, was also looking at the one who had killed him with a single shot. And with a stupendously shocking clarity, Hector had a realization... he suddenly realized that Jack Sparrow's actions against him had perhaps been strangely justified.

In watching Jack stare into the eye of the Kraken, his hands shaking slightly, Hector Barbossa thought, with unaccustomed sadness, that what had happened to Jack Sparrow had not been justified, in spite of his own bad choices. The cruelty of Davy Jones was unmatched. The damage that had been inflicted upon this man, no matter how annoying he was, was not deserved. Loathe him as he might, Hector would wish this borderline madness upon no one.

And in seeing the raw, ragged emotion that was laid bare in Jack Sparrow's eyes at this very moment, Hector shuddered with an almost undescribable horror, himself... in his thoughts, he set aside the differences that had been between them for this moment in time. The only thought that came to his mind was the same thought that came to it so long ago in the treasure cave of Isla de Muerta...

As Hector Barbossa looked at the shaken man by his side with what he thought might be sympathy...

... he felt... cold.

۞