WHAT VEXES ALL MEN CHAPTER XV

Will and Gibbs along with the half-conscious Jack were quickly out the mayor building's door and closed it behind them. Jack made some weak motion towards the stairs just before the door closed – he then spastically shook his fist at the house.

"We do have the upper hand…. Me thinks", Gibbs said and looked at Jack, who was clearly referring to Norrington who had to be upstairs still, not knowing anything. The question was for how long. They probably didn't have much time, before the unconscious soldiers were found… so they had to act fast.

"Where is she??!", Jack demanded, and both Will and Gibbs shushed him… they were still pretty close to the building, and being discovered by Norrington here would simply be too stupid.

"Be quiet, captain… with all due respect", Gibbs whispered and Jack rolled his eyes in annoyance. He felt completely and utterly useless right now, stupid as well for falling for Norrington's set-up.

"Where is she??", Jack asked again, this time in a very outspoken whisper. Will and Gibbs put Jack down behind the nearest little hut they could find, away from the main street, leaning his back against the wall. Jack grimaced a little. Will then squatted down in front of his friend:

"She will be by the fort in Port Royal in three days… and there we will intercept her… along with Hans", Will said and forced a smile. Jack's eyebrows rose a little:

"Hans? What does he have to do with anything?", he asked and grimaced again. Will and Gibbs looked at each other:

"Well, the wench and him tried to kill Will", Gibbs said and Jack's eyes shot wide open:

"What?! That little….!!!", Jack burst out and tried to stand back up, but that only resulted in him falling right back down, dust spreading in a small cloud.

"Take it easy, Captain, ye need to rest", Gibbs said and looked his captain up and down, worried:

"And patched up as well", he added. Jack looked up at them:

"I bloody well don't – I need to get on the Pearl and that right now! Port Royal is pretty far from here, if ye haven't noticed", he said and this time he supported himself on the wall as he stood up, wobbly. Will shook his head lightly at Jack's blind determination…

"Okay, we will get you to the Pearl… and then we patch you up. Those sores can easily catch an infection, and then what?", Will asked and looked at Jack, who just seemed to be pouting.

"No more Captain Jack Sparrow", Gibbs answered.

"Alright, alright!!! I get yer point already… did I thank you by the way?", Jack asked and looked at his saviors:

"Well, sort of…", Gibbs began, but Jack butted it:

"I will", Jack just said, making Gibbs and Will frown a bit. Typically Jack… always had to be cryptic.

"Let's go then, Captain… but we can't take the main street", Gibbs said and both Jack and Will nodded. They would raise a lot of attention with Jack's bloody back for all to see. So they walked behind the houses and huts all the way to the harbor, Jack between Gibbs and Will for support. Soon they reached the harbor where the Pearl was anchored by the cliffs, out of sight.

"We have to swim, Jack", Will said and looked at… thin air. A splash was then heard and as Will and Gibbs looked, only one hand was to be seen above the surface of the blue water – holding Jack's hat. With a suppressed grin, Gibbs and Will followed Jack and within a few minutes they were climbing aboard the Pearl, with an applause from the waiting crew that had been left to watch over the Pearl. Jack was rather quickly aboard the Pearl and slumped over the railing, still holding his hat high – for a moment he was balancing on his stomach on the railing, then he landed on the deck with a wet splash. The crew began laughing, but when they looked at Jack, they immediately shut up – he didn't look pleased. Returning his glance to his hat, Jack carefully wiped it and placed it on top of his dreadlocked head and rather clumsily stood back up, looking at the crew:

"Listen up, men! We have a new mission! To find the treacherous wench named Cassandra and her partner in crime, Hans – they will be in Port Royal in three days! We can beat that, can't we?!!", Jack yelled across the deck.

"AYE!!!", the crew burst out simultaneously and a smile appeared on Jack's lips. In the meantime Will and Gibbs had made their way on board as well.

"HOIST THE ANCHOR! SET THE SAILS!!!! SOUTH, SOUTH-EAST!!!", Jack rumbled as he placed himself behind the wheel. However Will and Gibbs quickly walked up to him and put one hand on each of Jack's shoulders:

"With all due respect, Jack – those wounds needs to be tended to. Gibbs will take the wheel", Will said as he looked into Jack's kohl-rimmed eyes. Jack looked annoyed for a moment… but yet he did know what would happen, if those sores caught an infection. Jack corrected his hat – even though it was sitting fine on top of his head – and then nodded:

"Well, alright then… But it better not sting!", he said as he and Will started to walk towards the captain's quarters. Will and Gibbs looked at each other and Will bit his lower lip, suppressing a small grin. It was definitely going to sting, no doubt about it. And Jack very well knew. Gibbs took control of the wheel as Will and Jack disappeared into the cabin through the double doors.

"Bottom drawer, mate", Jack said as he sat himself down on the bed and pointed at the chest of drawers by the wall. Will pulled out the drawer and saw all kinds of medical equipment… needles, tweezers, a pair of scissors, lots of white linen, string and a bottle of rum – the last item not that surprising.

"Jack… You have enough gear in here to patch up an entire army!", Will burst out with a laugh and took out the things he needed. Jack merely grinned as he took of the miserable remains of his white shirt – while making a pretty funny grimace. It hurt like hell… but at least Will could always cheer him up. Will walked over and placed himself next to Jack on the bed as he spread out the items on the floor, although he kept the linen in his hands not to get it the least bit dirty. Jack then turned his back to him and Will slightly grimaced… it didn't look pretty. But at least the sores were pretty much clean from the swim.

"Now… this IS going to sting", Will said as he poured some rum onto a piece of linen. Jack immediately caught the scent:

"What are ye doing?!!", he burst out and was about to turn around, but Will kept him in place:

"I KNOW what your opinion is about rum being anywhere else but in your stomach, Jack. But it is necessary", Will said as he pressed the linen against one of the sores on Jack's back.

"Ouch!!", Jack complained, but then began laughing:

"Now gimme the damn bottle, mate", he said and Will gave it to him.

"It'll do more good in my throat than on me damn back", Jack grinned and gulped down several mouthfuls. Will almost cringed from the sight… how could he just drink it like that?? Well, years of training was his best guess. Quickly Will had rubbed all of the sores clean and had Jack wrapped up in bandages.

"Thanks, William", Jack said as he turned around – the stench of rum hit Will's face and almost made his eyes run with water.

"No problem… I just hope I don't have to do this too often, Jack", Will said and patted Jack's shoulder as he was about to get up. However Jack pulled him back down:

I really mean it, ye know…", Jack said, his eyes starting to glaze over from the rum. Will's eyebrows rose:

"Mean what?", he asked as Jack leaned towards him, his face only inches from Will's:

"Thank ye…", he said and looked Will deep in the eyes. Will felt a little confused:

"You don't need to thank me, Jack, I just…", Will started, but suddenly Jack's lips were touching Will's. Frozen for a few seconds Will just stared at Jack, and then pulled away from him:

"Jack, you are drunk…", Will said softly and backed away as Jack got up from the bed rather wobbly.

"I might be drunk, but…", Jack started, but this time Will butted in:

"No, Jack… You do not know what you are doing. I will go now. And you need to get some rest, just make sure to sleep on your side or stomach, so the wounds won't get irritated. Sleep, Jack", Will said and walked out the double doors. Left alone in the dimly lit cabin Jack just muttered something incoherent.

Two days later Jack still hadn't left his cabin. Gibbs was worried as the Pearl was closing in on the harbor of Port Royal and turned to Will, who was busy tying some knots on the ropes, which held the black, ragged sails in place. Will had of course checked on Jack on occasion, but he had just been lying with his back facing the entrance, seemingly sleeping. Will had heard him breathe, so he knew that he had probably been sleeping after the ordeal in the Caiman Islands… Gibbs placed a hand on Will's shoulder and directed his attention away from the knots:

"How is Jack??", Gibbs asked with a worried look in his blue eyes. Will smiled:

"He is fine… sleeping", Will said and wanted to turn towards the knots again, but Gibbs put his hand on his shoulder again:

"Are ye sure, William??", Gibbs asked and Will seemed to freeze for a moment. "William"… what Jack had said before he had tried to kiss him. However Will quickly regained his cool and looked at Gibbs:

"Yes, I have been checking on him every three hours. We should probably wake him up now", Will said as his glance settled on the coast line of Port Royal, only a couple of nautical miles away. Gibbs smiled:

"Aye… but ye be his doctor, Will. Not me – you wake him up", Gibbs said and placed himself back behind the wheel. Will swallowed a couple of times and then finished the knots… he didn't exactly have the urge to face Jack right now. But the captain HAD been drunk – and had probably just been too intoxicated to realize who Will was and even where he was. With a relieved smile Will walked for the cabin and opened the double doors into the dimly lit captain's quarters. Jack was still in the same position as before and Will carefully walked up to him on the bunk:

"Jack??", Will called softly and looked at Jack's back wrapped in the bandages. He was breathing normally, and that was a good sign. The wounds hadn't caught an infection. Carefully Will poked Jack's shoulder:

"Port Royal is only two nautical miles away by now", Will said. Still no reaction. Will frowned.

"Jack???", he called again and shook Jack's shoulder slightly.

"I'll be right there", Jack just said, his voice sound and clear. What Will didn't know was that Jack had been awake all this time. Will tilted his head a bit in confusion… wasn't Jack completely obsessed with avenging Cassandra's treachery? What did he mean 'I'll be right there'? He should be storming out of the cabin right now, yelling and running to and fro with a rum bottle raised in the air or something.

"Is something wrong, Jack?", Will asked carefully as he sat himself down next to Jack on the bunk. A loud sigh came from Jack:

"If ye haven't noticed I'm missing me compass, half me back and me hea….", he started, but interrupted himself by getting up from the bunk so quickly, that it almost startled Will. Will didn't have the time to think about the last part of the sentence before Jack placed his hat on top of his head and looked at him:

"A captain at yer service, mate", Jack joked half-heartedly and walked out the cabin. Will could hear cheering from the outside as the crew finally saw their captain for the first time in two and half days. Shaking his head as if to clear his mind Will followed Jack out the captain's quarters and noticed how close they were to Port Royal now. They were coming in from the right side, sailing along with the cliffs in order not to be spotted. The anchor was thrown out on Jack's command and the Pearl came to a hold. Now it was about one o'clock in the afternoon… they had two hours to reach the fort.

"Elizabeth", Will thought and smiled. He couldn't wait to see her again.

"Ready for a swim, Gibbs?", Jack asked and smiled at the elderly man who immediately replied with an 'aye'. And quickly Jack, Gibbs, Ragetti, Pintel and Will were swimming along the cliffs, leaving the rest of the crew on the Pearl to watch over the ship.