Originally written for a Fortune Cookie contest.

O O O

Captain James Norrington and Lieutenant Gillette headed through the streets of the town, attempting to ignore the strange looks they were receiving from its inhabitants. "You'd think they have never seen a man in a wig before," Gillette muttered.

"Just keep walking—the note said that the man would be…in here." James came to a halt in front of some sort of tavern or restaurant.

"Are you sure you'll be all right?" Gillette asked. "We can't be sure how trustworthy this man is."

"True. Keep men posted around this…place," James said, waving a hand toward the building. "If you see or hear signs of trouble, feel free to interfere."

"Yes, sir."

James ducked into the building, gazing around and trying to see into every dark corner. This was dangerous for him, but the Royal Navy had been having trouble with the Pirate Lord known as "Mistress Ching" for quite a long time. This man James was to meet supposedly had inside information that could help them defeat, or at least fend off, the Pirate Lord's attacks.

A woman came up to him, her black hair in a bun held up by a chopstick. She spoke briefly to him in a foreign tongue, giggled, then said, "This way."

James blinked, vaguely confused, but he followed the young woman nonetheless. He eyed all the people in the room suspiciously before he tried to focus on the man it seemed he was being led to.

"You must be Captain Norrington," the man said, getting to his feet and swaying drunkenly. He stepped into the light. "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow." He motioned to a cushion on the floor nearby him. "Have a seat."

James was sure this was the right man—they had presumed it was a pirate who had contacted them—for this man was most certainly a pirate. He had beads and other various decorations in his dreadlocks, rather dirty clothing, a beard, and a tattoo on his arm revealed by his rolled-up sleeve.

James was admiring the tattoo, a bird flying over an ocean at sunset (or sunrise), when Jack motioned to the woman and began speaking in fluent Chinese. James' eyebrows shot up in surprise as he now looked over the man's face. He was tanned and weathered by the sea and had fresh wound on his jaw. The man's eyes were deep and dark, twinkling mysteriously as he smiled.

"So, mate," Jack said, handing James a glass of…something. "To men of fortune."

James' eyes narrowed slightly. "To good fortune." James' eyes filled with tears as the drink burned his throat. "That's…strong."

"Stronger than your usual wine, I expect," Jack said. "Now, Captain…" Jack slid a folded piece of parchment across the table. "My payment?"

"Is this all?" James asked, reaching for the paper, but Jack slammed a hand down. "Not so fast mate. 'Never give up your bargaining tool before the payment.'" Jack held up a small, thin slip of parchment.

"What is that?"

"A fortune," Jack said with a shrug. "There are some really important lessons in these, mate." The woman walked over and set down a small tray of some kind of food.

"Here, have a fortune cookie."

James cracked open whatever it was Jack held out to him and unfolded the small piece of parchment inside. "The kiss of a swan leads to death." He blinked. "That makes no sense."

Jack shrugged. "Maybe it will one day."

"I don't think that ever will." James took out a bag of gold. "Your payment," he said, eyeing the parchment on the table.

James grabbed the parchment as soon as Jack took the bag. He was about to unfold the paper when Jack quickly shook his head. "Don't want her finding out what I gave you." Shoving the parchment into his jacket, James nodded, knowing that Jack was worried that Mistress Ching may discover what he had done. "No soul is equal to another," Jack read.

"That sounds true," James said. "But one would hardly need a fortune to tell him that."

"You probably think that your soul is worth more than mine," Jack commented.

The blatant remark threw James off balance. "I am…not one to judge, Captain Sparrow," he said, his eyes sweeping over Jack.

"I could say the same," Jack same, his own eyes looking over James. "Forgive me if I don't think highly of those who wear that uniform."

James scoffed. "At least it's clean."

"And that wig—what are you hiding under there?" Jack asked, reaching toward it.

James hit Jack's arm away. "I'm not hiding anything. It's just…style. The uniform."

"And that's why I think my soul is worth more than yours."

"Oh, please…"

"Under fashion lurks uncertainty." Jack waved the small paper around. "See, Captain? You're unsure of yourself, aren't you?"

James rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't take the words on those 'fortunes' so seriously." He grudgingly picked up another of the fortune cookies. "Men in—oh, come on."

"What's it say?" Jack prompted. "Come on, mate."

"Men in wigs have more to hide than their hair," James read quietly.

Jack laughed brightly. "I told you, mate!"

"This is ridiculous. I'm leaving," James said, starting to stand. The woman suddenly walked back over, motioning for him to sit down.

"There are still fortunes left, no?"

James sighed, sitting back down and taking another of the fortune cookies. His eyes narrowed as he read it. "Choosing a side shall be your demise."

The fortunes suddenly seemed much darker than before as he mulled over this in his mind. It was like a direct warning—a warning to him—of something to come. Something that would ultimately cause his death.

"Sea turtles can be helpful creatures," Jack read, appearing to not have heard James' latest fortune. "I knew that already." Jack grabbed another, and his brow furrowed. "Leverage." Jack turned the paper over. "That's it?"

"These are pointless, Captain," James said, trying to shake off the feeling from the fortune foreshadowing his possible death.

"Piracy can be the right course." Jack grinned broadly. "I like this one."

James stood again. "Thank you for your time, Captain Sparrow."

Jack stood quickly and shook his hand. "Pleasure doing business with you, Captain Norrington."

As James turned away, he muttered, "And may our paths never cross again."

Upon leaving the building, he was accosted by Gillette, who pestered him with questions until ordered to shut up. As soon as James was in his cabin, he took out the folded parchment and opened it. He looked over what appeared to be battle plans for a few moments before realizing, "These are our plans!"

He crumpled the parchment in his fist. This was useless information for the Royal Navy. And it meant that Jack could just as easily give said plans to Mistress Ching.

James threw the parchment across the room in frustration. A small piece of paper fluttered to the ground, catching his eye. James walked over and picked it up. It was another one of those fortunes.

"Never trust a pirate."