Disclaimer: I do really wish they were mine, but like Jack I'm an honest pirate and am just borrowing without profit from the Mouse.

Author's notes: For the LJ potcfest, prompt #27, "Jack/Pearl: doing a bit of pirating". Set shortly after the end of CotBP.

Flying free

The sun was high and the wind was fair, and Jack Sparrow was in a fine mood. In fact he was in such a fine mood that he was singing, which had caused his long-suffering bo'sun Joshamee Gibbs to stopper his ears with two rope ends. At the helm of the Black Pearl, Anamaria glanced sideways and grimaced at the sound.

"Haul away, haul away," sang Jack Sparrow, oblivious to her expression. He ran a bandaged hand along the quarterdeck rail, feeling the well-worn and well-remembered cracks and knots with joy in his heart. "Only one thing missing, ain't there?" he said to his ship, giving the rail a pat. His eyes went skywards to the figure perched on the topgallant yard, in hope.

And hope, it appeared, was listening, because as he looked the figure started, and glanced downwards.

"Ship ahoy!" the lookout called. "Merchant, five points off starboard bow, heavily laden."

Sparrow grinned. "There we go, love," he said, and began bellowing orders.

By the mainmast Gibbs took his rope ends out of his ears and relayed the orders, and in a few moments the yards were braced sharp, Anamaria had altered course, and the Black Pearl was showing her speed.

Sparrow hurried down to the maindeck and began checking his crew's weapons. They were all ready and well-prepared, so he kept on going forward until he was sitting astride the bowsprit. The ship was riding the waves, the spray from each dip spraying him liberally. For a while he gazed at the merchant ship ahead – she had spread all her sails but the gap between the two vessels was closing nonetheless. As the distance narrowed, Sparrow turned around and leaned back to examine the set of his own canvas. The towering black sails were taut and drawing and there was a thrum of excitement in the timbers of the ship. He climbed off the bowsprit with a heart full of joy.

The crew quietened as the merchant grew ever closer, Anamaria driving the Pearl on with skilled hands.

"Give 'em a broadside 'cross the bow," Sparrow ordered, and the gun-crew obeyed. "Will you strike?" he muttered, to himself. There was movement aboard the merchant, a group on the quarterdeck engaged in vigorous debate; a moment later her foremast yards swung round and the wind dropped out of her sails. The merchant had hove to, surrendering.

Sparrow gave the familiar orders and in a moment the Black Pearl had come to a graceful halt by the merchant's side. Rather than wait for the boards, Sparrow seized a gantline and swung across to her deck. A gaggle of frightened sailors and a terrified captain stood waiting for him, all trembling, so he doffed his hat, gave them a bow and a smile, and introduced himself.

"And a fine ship you have here, cap'n," he added, one hand on his pistol, just to show them he did mean business.

"What do you want?" stammered the captain, twisting his hands together.

"Your valuables," said Sparrow. "That's all. Oh, and your cargo, whatever you have; though not if it's edible. Always a pain to get rid of vittles. But we'll take your rum. Just show me men where all your loot is and we'll have it off you nice and smart."

The captain went pale, and fainted. Sparrow gave him a gentle kick with his boot, and shrugged. "All right. Someone else?"

Eventually they found someone with guts enough to show the Pearls where the cargo was stowed, and the pirates began the slow process of moving goods from ship to ship. Sparrow spent the time lounging on the merchant's quarterdeck, admiring the Black Pearl. Gibbs and Anamaria had certainly done a good job of cleaning her up after the cursed decade. She was old, but her dark sails were new and unpatched and her tarred timbers whole. She was the very image of power and beauty, and Sparrow found he loved her more than ever.

He ordered that the merchant sailors – who, after all, had been cooperative and compliant – should be left with enough food and water to get them to land. But he disabled their rudder to ensure a clean getaway.

Back aboard the Black Pearl he regarded their swag with pleasure. There was enough here to finish refitting his vessel so she truly befitted her name – new rope, new water casks, a store of tar for caulking the seams and a store of gunpowder for less friendly victims. Grinning, Sparrow told his crew to get the loot below, gave a course for Saint Croix, and told them he was taking lookout.

He left them to it, kicked off his boots, and headed for the shrouds. It was a quick climb upwards, passing over the cross-trees to the masthead. He hooked an arm around the mast, got his feet comfortable on the topgallant yard, and sighed deeply. The world was right.

Sparrow opened his mouth and began to sing again, his voice the powerful voice of one accustomed to being heard over wind and waves. On deck, Gibbs exchanged a look with Anamaria, and delved in his pockets for the rope ends.