By Rose de Sharon

Author's notes:

- English isn't my native language and I don't have a beta-reader, all mistakes are mine.

- Post-AWE: Jack has left to search for the Fountain of Youth.

- "In vino veritas" is a Latin proverb meaning "Truth is found in wine": a man who wouldn't say the truth while sober, loosen up his tongue when drunk.

- "A pirate's life for me", lyrics by X Atencio, music by George Bruns.

- To all Sparrow-fans: our favorite pirate captain is drunk and a bit "out of character". But I promise he'll be unharmed and back to his true self at the end! ;-)

Feedback: flames will be used as combustible. It is already getting cold here in Canada!

This story is dedicated to Smithy!


Chapter 1

In the immensity of the ocean, a small dinghy was sailing on the water in the direction of the sun, which was setting at the horizon of the cloudless Caribbean sky in a glorious display of gold and crimson colors. The evening breeze was gently filling the single sail of the dinghy, pushing it forward west. The sole occupant of the tiny boat, Captain Jack Sparrow, was heading for a treasure worthy of his attention: the Fountain of Youth.

Jack Sparrow was acknowledged to be a picturesque character with a reputation of legendary bravery, charmed luck and sharp wits. But right now, this Captain wasn't a happy sailor.

Truth to be told, he hadn't been happy these past weeks.

"Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me," sang Jack with a quiet tone before taking a long gulp from his rum bottle. "We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot, drink up me hearties, yo ho. We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot, drink up me hearties, yo ho…"

Oh sure, Captain Sparrow had escaped the Crown's wrath (again) and fooled Hector Barbossa (encore); he was heading for a treasure beyond the imagination (de novo) and his ship was loaded with rum (otra vez). But that was an overly-embellished view of his current situation.

Because Captain Jack Sparrow was commanding the tiniest dinghy of the Caribbean after Barbossa and his men had stolen his beloved ship, The Black Pearl, away from him for the second time. Jack knew for a fact that Barbossa couldn't be trusted – as if that resurrected sea-slug would ever learn the virtues of loyalty! – but being betrayed by his own men twice had been a bitter blow. The only crewmember who had remained loyal to Jack had been his First Mate, Joshamee Gibbs, but thanks to his drunkenness Barbossa had been able to steal The Black Pearl at Tortuga!

Because Captain Jack Sparrow had indeed in his possession the precious navigational charts previously owned by Chinese pirate lord Sao Feng, pinched from Barbossa as a precaution; no one could be cautious enough with that snake around. Those charts could help Jack to achieve his dream: becoming immortal. But where was the fun in treasure-hunting without anybody trustworthy around to share the adventure?

Because Captain Jack Sparrow was alone this time: even Gibbs had given up on him, preferring the company of Gisele and Scarlett in Tortuga to his. And who could blame Gibbs? These girls were a far better bet for the future than a pirate captain without a ship and a crew!

Because Captain Jack Sparrow's rum supplies were getting low… since he had been heavily drinking for hours now.

"We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack, drink up me hearties, yo ho. Maraud and embezzle and even high-jack, drink up me hearties, yo ho!"

This was the song he always sang when getting drunk, mostly because it was easy to remember and it always pleased the audience. But this time, his drinking companions were very sparse: a few flying fishes, sliding through the waves too quickly to even notice the presence of the human being!

"We kindle and char, inflame and ignite, drink up me hearties, yo-ho," mumbled Jack in a mouthful of rum. "We burn up the city, we're really a fright, drink up me hearties, yo ho!"

The pirate captain sighed, and wished for the hundredth time he was back at the Faithful Bride's tavern in Tortuga, drinking along with Gibbs and his crewmembers while The Black Pearl was patiently waiting at the harbor for their return, her bilges full of supplies and her sails ready for immediate departure.

"We're rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves, drink up me hearties yo ho, we're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs, drink up me hearties yo ho. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!"

Darn, nothing was more depressing than drinking alone aboard a dinghy!

"We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads, drink up me hearties yo ho. Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads, drink up me hearties yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me," finished the lonely man.

The Faithful Bride, that song… Really, he should stop mulling over this stuff. It reminded him too much of Elizabeth Swann, a Faithful Bride if he had ever met one; and did she ever sang that song over and over!

And whenever Elizabeth was mentioned, Will wasn't far away.

Another swing of rum, but it wasn't enough to erase the bitter taste in his mouth.

William Turner Junior, the son of "Bootstrap" Bill, Jack's old shipmate and friend. Will Turner, the boy hopelessly in love with Elizabeth Swann, the Port Royal governor's daughter and yet who had risked everything to free his father from slavery on Davy Jones' ghost ship the Flying Dutchman.

Will Turner, noble and heroic, master swordsman… "And his voice is a baritone's, not a soprano's!" mentally corrected Jack.

The pirate captain shook his head, making his numerous dreadlocks, braids and trinkets entangled in his long hair fly in every direction. For the life of him, he'd never understand why Will had been so pig-headed about freeing his twice-cursed father from Davy Jones. "Bootstrap" Bill had been a mess the last time Jack had saw him: a wrenched man covered with shells, the living image of a corpse who had stayed on the ocean's floor for too long. The elder Turner hadn't had a snowball's chance in Hell to be freed from his serving oath towards the Flying Dutchman and yet, Will had been resolute to rescue him.

And it had almost cost him his life.

Jack shuddered, and then he took a long swing from a new rum bottle. He didn't want to remember the maelstrom battle yet; there wasn't enough alcohol in him!

"Aw, Will, why did you want to save your old man that much?" grumbled Jack.

Will, that courageous kid... Jack would never forget the day he had faced the hangman's noose at Port Royal. For all his bravado, Jack had thought he was living his last moments while the town clerk was reading out loud his long list of crimes to the crowd – until two sparks of hope had shone for him: one took the shape of Cotton's parrot, relieving itself on that pair of blockheaded Royal Marines; the other one was Will, dressed in an elegant costume and dashing through the crowd of onlookers, resolute to free the pirate captain at all costs. And he had succeeded!

But Jack hadn't been exactly grateful for that heroic feat: one year after his narrow escape from the executioner's hands, he had tried to sell Will's soul as payment for the debt he owned to Davy Jones, that octopus-faced monster. Jones' leviathan, the Kraken, was at Jack's heels to drag the Black Pearl into the depths of the ocean, and its Captain was desperately looking for an escape from this terrible doom.

Jack Sparrow's face turned red, and for once he was glad to be alone. No one had to witness how ashamed he was for his past actions towards Will.

"Face it, Jacky ol' boy," muttered the pirate captain. "Whenever Will was concerned, you acted like a double-crosser."

Maybe Davy Jones (may he rot in Hell) had been right to call him a poor captain after Jack had tried to smart-talk him about him falling victim of a mutiny that had prevented him to command the Black Pearl for 11 years. Jones hadn't been interested in Jack's explanations about his captaincy displeasing his traitorous First Mate Barbossa; he had given Jack three days to find 99 more souls to erase the debt he owned him, keeping Will as first payment.

"I wonder, Sparrow," had then asked the hideously ugly Jones, "Can you live with it? You can condemn an innocent man – a friend – to a lifetime of servitude, in your name, while you roam free on the ocean?"

"Yep, I'm good with it!" had answered Jack in a nonchalant tone.

Jack raised the new bottle of rum to his lips and swung it to take a very long gulp, in a try to erase this very bad souvenir from his memory, but only a few drops of alcohol fell on his tongue. The bottle was already empty!

"Why is the rum always gone?" asked Jack before tossing the flagon overboard. It hit the salty water with a resounding splash before disappearing forever in the ocean.

Captain Jack Sparrow missed not having his usual audience of gaping shipmates or enemies, all of them falling under the spell of his silver-tongue. Even he was constantly amazed by his own quick thinking and over the years, he had succumbed to his own charm. But now, solitude was his imposed companion and, just like the time he was tailed by the Kraken, Jack was unable to talk his way out of this situation. Even aboard a cockleshell of a boat and out in the open waters, Jack was feeling more trapped than inside a prison cell.

"Can you live with it?" had asked Jones. Captain Teague, Jack's supposed sire, had told him during their last meeting that immortality wasn't only about living forever. The real question was, can a man live forever with himself?

Well, at the present time, Captain Jack Sparrow was having a hard time living with himself!

The pirate captain sighed heavily: he was getting drunk and he knew it. Every sailor knew that it wasn't prudent to sail alone in an intoxicated state, but Jack Sparrow couldn't care less. Being inebriated was becoming a routine these days, due to many bad memories.

Jack was remorseful about Will, not only about how he had repaid the life-debt he owned the kid by selling him to Jones; but Will had also braved multiple dangers to rescue him from the Locker, including a perilous detour via Singapore, and still Jack had turned a deaf ear to the youngster's pleadings for help to save his father… while the immortality idea was growing in the pirate captain's mind.

Well, Will did betray Jack with Sao Feng to gain command of the Black Pearl. However, Will had wanted the Peal simply because it was the only ship of the Seven Seas fast enough to outrun the Flying Dutchman: an important leverage for his plan to rescue Bootstrap Bill from a terrible fate!

"Damn it," grumbled Jack. "Even when the kid tried to double-cross me, it was for a noble cause!

Jack and Will had then concluded another uneasy alliance: the young man had agreed to help the cunning pirate to become the new Captain of the Flying Dutchman, since getting Davy Jones out of the picture was the key to Bill Turner's freedom and Jack Sparrow's immortality. But that plan had gotten shot to pieces during the maelstrom battle: Jones had mortally wounded Will and the monster had defied Jack to do anything to help the young man.

Even with the rum coursing through his body, Jack remembered this terrible moment vividly. The image of Will dying on the Dutchman's deck was branded in his mind as forcefully as Lord Beckett's red-hot iron had branded the abhorred letter "P" on his forearm, years ago. Jones' evil deed had made Jack suddenly realize how much the kid meant to him. Will was much more than a noble-minded, righteous, unhealthy-streak-of-honesty-bearer young man caught in Jack's mishaps by a strange twist of fate. Will was…

The little brother that Jack had never had.

The look of horror on Jones' face, when Jack had helped Will to stab the monster's rotten heart! Victory had been theirs – but with a high price for the kid: killing Jones had saved Will, but it had also made him the new immortal Captain of the Flying Dutchman. Consequently, Will had been forced to leave his beloved Elizabeth for a 10-year exile on the sea.

Jack never had the chance to say good-bye to the youngster he had gladly sacrificed his dream to save his life. Soon afterwards, the pirate had lost the Black Pearl and his crew to Hector Barbossa and he had to leave Tortuga aboard a miserable dinghy, hardly an embarkation worthy of the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow.

A new bottle of rum was emptied within minutes. Jack loudly belched and looked up: the sun had disappeared behind the horizon. Venus was already sparkling in the western sky, the herald of many more stars and planets to come enchanting the Heavens with their luminous and distant beauty.

Jack suddenly got on his feet, making the dinghy pitching dangerously on the water. He raised his arm and pointed his index finger toward the west.

"Bring me that horizon!" he yelled. "All hands on deck! Lift the skin up! Haul those sheets, men! Movement, I want movement! And bring me that star while you're at it! On the double!"

No one answered his orders.

Jack sighed and heavily sat back down on the dinghy's bench. It was going to be a long night!