By Your Leave
"We've had a good life all in all eh Commodore?" Jack said as he smiled, memories flitting through his mind, his teeth glinting in the sun.
"Good having the meaning here of fulfilling, or in your case debased and debauched Captain?" James replied with a smile of his own.
"That may be the truth Commodore." Jack said, not up to his usual goading of the man sitting next to him. Funny how that was happening more and more lately.
"No dazzling comeback Captain? I can hardly believe you are going to let that pass with not a single retort."
"Guess I'm finally feelin me age Commodore, just as you are looking yours." He said not being able to resist one little jab.
"Ah at last we have a small example of the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow's rapier like wit." James chuckled.
The two men sat side by side on a bench overlooking the harbor in Port Royal watching the ships in the bay as they talked. They had given up their respective professions several years ago, although not necessarily by choice. The Turners had somehow convinced Jack to settle down here with them after the loss of his beloved Pearl in a storm he was lucky to have survived. He had wound up with a broken leg that didn't heal properly from that and as a result he was no longer able to perform the daring do he used to aboard ship. In fact most days he made his way around with the assistance of a cane, though his swaying swagger was still present to some degree. And although he still had the long dreadlocks he had always valued, they had turned from their lovely dark hue to a beautiful silver.
The Commodore had not faired much better over the years. He had his back severely injured in battle and as a consequence his ramrod straight posture was not quite what it used to be. He too had to rely on a cane to maneuver at times.
Both men were close to pushing 60 and the years showed in their respective faces. It was a miracle they had made it this long considering neither one of them had been in the safest of professions. Now days they were happy just waking up in the morning and being able to meet at the bench and hash over old times.
With a far away look on his face as he looked out to the horizon, James addressed Jack, "You really should reconsider my offer Jack."
"You're not bringing that up again are you? We've been over this a time or two James, and my answer remains the same." Jack said shaking his head negatively.
Trying an approach he hadn't tried on Jack yet James said, "I can't believe the notorious Captain Jack Sparrow isn't willing to act a bit rash one more time before he goes to his grave." James said as he tried unsuccessfully to find a comfortable position on the bench and ease the pain flaring up in his back.
"A bit rash you say?" Jack said with a laugh, "I'd say your idea is a lot rash and rivals anything I ever came up with in me prime, and was declared daft by all around me including you if memory serves me right Commodore. Sides the notorious Captain Jack Sparrow went down with the Pearl." He finished with a sad note to his tone.
James started to cough then, not just a little paltry cough but a body-shattering cough that usually brought up a bit of bloody specks onto his handkerchief.
Jack had noticed this even though the Commodore tried to hide it. He patted James on the back trying to comfort him the best he could, which under the circumstances wasn't much.
Finally able to catch his breath the Commodore turned to Jack and in as serious a tone as Jack had ever heard him use in all the years he had known him said, "Who are we fooling here Jack, we are both dying a slow death sitting here day after day. I'd much rather go out at a time of my own choosing. Let the sea take us if she will. Do you actually want to die on land after so much of your life spent in her embrace?"
Jack's answer was left unspoken as they were hailed by a familiar voice, "Jack, James we have exciting news." Elizabeth called to them as she and Will approached. "We just received a letter from Will Jr. and he wants us to come see him in London. He and his wife are expecting their second child and they want us there. He has sent us passage and we will stay with them while we are there. Isn't that wonderful you two? Of course we will be able to see our daughter Annamaria again, she's just an hour or so away from Will Jr. She and her husband have, from what I understand, a rather grand estate right outside London. God I haven't seen either one of them for…what's it been now Will……..four or five years at least since we were last there. Will nodded his head in affirmation.
"So it sounds like you two may be goin for a good long while Lizzie." Jack said somehow keeping the sadness out of his tone.
"We will be gone at least a year if not longer." Will said, almost as excited as Elizabeth. "We will leave within the week Jack. I have asked Sarah to stay on and take care of you while we are gone, so you won't be alone. And we will keep in touch by post, no doubt about that."
"I see, well that's very thoughtful of you William. However there is no need to inconvenience dear Sarah on my account. In fact the Commodore and I have just been talking over some arrangements that would be beneficial to both of us, especially in light of this news. I shall go with the Commodore, he has been after me to do the very same for some time now and this may be the opportune moment to take him up on his offer." Jack said as he gave the Commodore a meaningful look.
The Commodore gave a barely noticeable nod and a wisp of a smile in return.
The Turners left on a Wednesday, and on Thursday Jack and James began preparing the sloop James had bought before his back injury. He had christened it the By Your Leave, meaning it to be a means of getting away when he needed a bit of respite from his post as Commodore of Fort Charles. Unfortunately before he had been able to take even a single voyage aboard her he had been felled by said injury and summarily relieved of his duties by the very organization he had dedicated most of his life to. Not a very grand end to the Great Pirate Hunter he often thought to himself bitterly.
Now By Your Leave would have an entirely different connotation to it.
Jack stood on the dock beside the small sloop looking off to the horizon.
"Be a storm brewing there mate. Maybe a day or two before she's on us." Jack spoke to James as he finished securing the last bit of supplies they had brought aboard which consisted mostly of rum and brandy.
James looked up and followed Jack's gaze, "I thought the same Captain, although I figure we will be well out to sea before we run into it. She's fixing to welcome us with open arms I think." He finished with a serene smile on his face.
"Aye Commodore, we will be home soon." said without a bit of sadness.
"Well then Captain, prepare to weigh anchor. Full canvas if you please, hoist the colors, and we shall be off."
"Are you giving me orders James?" Jack said with mock seriousness.
James smiled and answered, "My ship Captain, and seeing as I outrank you know, yes I am giving you orders. Now step lively man."
"Aye Aye Commodore, stepping as lively as I am able, however seeing as I am doing the afore mentioned by me onsies, and am less that an able bodied seaman at present, I feel it would be in your best interest to lend a hand as well Commodore. Otherwise we might not make it away from the dock." Jack said returning the smile.
"This time Captain, but let's not make a habit of it, after all who ever heard of a Commodore doing manual labor aboard his own ship?" James grinned.
Then they were underway, headed for their destiny.
"Thank you Jane." Elizabeth said as the servant handed her the mail that had arrived. She and Will had been sitting on the verandah enjoying the peaceful afternoon. She sorted through the letters and noted one addressed to her and Will that had been posted from Port Royal.
Elizabeth's eyes filled with tears as she read the words written there in extremely neat penmanship. She handed the page to Will when she finished, wiping her eyes on her apron. He took it from her hand with trepidation, knowing it must be bad news for her to react like she did.
"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Turner,
I am regretfully required to deliver to you a most sad piece of news, the apparent loss of two persons that have been near, and dear to us these past years. It seems that Commodore Norrington and Captain Sparrow for some reasons known only to them chose to take the Commodore's sloop, the By Your Leave on a most ill conceived voyage. It is unsure what their motives for such a voyage may have been. Some feel they were overtaken by the frailties of age and didn't realize what they were doing. Others state they were both seasoned seamen and having spent the greater part of their lives on the water knew there was a great storm brewing but for some unknown reason sailed out anyway. I personally think, and I would hope you would keep this in the strictest confidence, that they had reached the point in their respective lives due to health concerns and such they were ready to go home as it were, both being men of the sea. We shall more than likely never know the true reason as the Commodore and the Captain have taken it to the grave with them, the one consensus being that there is no way they could have survived that severe of a storm in the By Your Leave, and any attempts to find traces of either man or their ship have proven fruitless.
I am truly sorry to have to send you this news, and hope you will remember our dear friends in your prayers as we are doing here.
Yours in deepest sympathy,
Captain Thomas Groves
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