Ode to a Dying Man

He couldn't believe he had laughed back then. He had been lying on the very same couch, smiling and chuckling as he almost bled to death with Marie and Gibbs frantically working at his sides. He was young and foolish, and now he was too old for this.

"Jack!" he heard Marie yell as she wandered into the room and looked at his arm, seeing the marks and the blood and slowly without realising her face going a deathly pale, "What, I don't… Jack?"

He looked at her and remembered back to when he would have smiled as he did so, this time just looking back towards the ceiling and waiting for Gibbs to come in, turning to the door as he heard his shuffling and grunting.

"Dad, what's going on?" Jack looked right past her to Gibbs and then back at the ceiling as his old friend sighed and walked to his daughter, the quiet and panicked tone in her voice making Jacks heart break, "I want you to tell me."

"I fixed him already, everything is fine," Gibbs assured her as he turned her away from Jack, the man in question watching as she struck worried glances at him over her shoulder and walked with her father, "just go back to bed and you can see him in the morning."

Jack watched as she nodded, the movement causing her long black curls to dance about her back as she pulled it into a ponytail and walked up the stairs, trailing a dark blue dressing gown behind her.

"Ye cut it close Jack," Gibbs said, just like he had the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, "ye cut it too close."

"I didn't cut it at all, I think that was my problem," Jack said sombrely as he looked down at his arm and then back towards his friend, "I'm going to disappear for a while. Don't tell Marie, don't tell Nicole and please don't offer to come with me; I don't want to say yes."

"Ye be a daft man, Jack Sparrow," Gibbs scolded as he stood wiping his hands with a cloth and glancing towards the fire, "it's stupid to just go out on yer own, especially with that whole crew on the look out for ye. It'll kill the girls Jack."

"I know," he looked at Gibbs with only a flicker of hesitation and then quashed it; he knew it would be more dangerous for them all if he stayed, "it'll be worse if they actually get killed though."

"Where are ye gonna go?" Gibbs questioned, causing Jack to look back towards the ceiling, trying desperately to find the answer and knowing that he couldn't.

"I'll know when I get there," he replied simply as he looked back to Gibbs ands waved to him a goodnight with his good arm, watching as his old friend climbed the stairs and then waiting until he heard the door upstairs close.

He made quickly and grabbed a clean cloth, finding the material soft to the touch and very lightweight, glad that Gibbs had thought to leave it out before going to bed. He wrapped it around his arm and found it to be the perfect length, covering from the bend to the wrist and holding in place with a simple fastener that caused no grievance to his healing injuries.

Sticking his hat on his head he crept for the door, leaving a coin purse behind and carefully closing the wooden rectangle into its frame as he stepped onto the front step, turning and making it only one stride before he was stopped dead in his tracks.

"Give me one good reason not to shoot you," Marie whispered angrily as she stuck a hands on her hip and waved a pistol angrily at Jack with the other hand, an empty threat he knew but it was her actions that were defiantly speaking louder than words, "go on. Give me just one."

He faced her down without saying a word, injured arm useless at his side facing outwards with the elbow completely straight and facing out the back. For once he still wasn't smiling at her and so far it was obviously making her just more pissed off. She rattled the gun at him and then scowled further as he looked back as serious as he could ever remember being.

"That won't hold," she sighed in frustration and moved over to him, ignoring his look and grabbing his hand in her own, holding it steady as she pulled a pin from her hair and released some of the black curls around the front of her face, using the pin to fasten the impromptu bandage and then stepped back, "I remember when dad had that huge fight with Nicole. You should remember, we were sitting on the staircase and watching as they yelled it out; he said we couldn't make you stay and recover, that you had to go because there were things you needed to do."

Jack nodded and changed the expression on his face to confusion as he wondered why she'd be telling him all this, she should have known and obviously did by the look of her, that rehashing memories was only going to make him leave faster. He would not let people hurt Gibbs's family because of him.

"I'm telling you this because I know that I can't make you stay," she walked forwards and grabbed his good hand, thrusting the pistol into it and then standing back to look at Jack again, piercing him all the way through from her gaze, "you're like family Jack, and you don't currently stand a chance. I hope you seriously consider what I'm about to say because I'm forfeiting my self respect here. I'm begging you; please don't go."

He felt his mouth drop open slightly and snapped it shut, hoping his eyes weren't insanely huge and giving away his shock that Marie would actually ask, no beg him for something. For a second he stood like the daft fool that Gibbs had said he was to be, then he did something that he didn't expect himself to do; he walked forward and hugged her.

Somehow and he wasn't quite sure how, he had ended up with his arm wound around her waist and resting against her lower back with the pistol safely resting in his hand, his wounded arm carefully left alone as her arms twisted around his neck and the side of her face leant warmly against his beaded hair.

"I'm guessing you won't stay then," her voice sounded a little teary as he rested his chin on her shoulder and closed his eyes for a moment, opening them again and letting his thoughts go off on a tangent as to what made him walk over and throw himself round her for comforting, considering they didn't usually get all touchy feely, "Jack?"

"Mmm," he felt her move her head and held her waist a little tighter, still marvelling at his own actions and then snapping at himself for not answering her question or statement, "it's better if I don't stay, Marie."

She was one of the only people in the world that he would ever call by first name out of affection instead of necessity or ridicule, probably also one of the only people that rarely heard the word love fall out of his mouth in place of her title.

"Its not better," she was sounding a bit like an upset child and it was hard for Jack to tell how he felt about that, knowing that he didn't have much time to think about it and continue this conversation if he wanted to get away before morning, "if I woke Nicole you would have been shot already. We hate not knowing if you're alive or not, so please stay for a little while, at least stay and tell Nicole you'll come back for her wedding soon."

Jack felt his resolve fall in a crushing heap beneath him as Marie tightened her hold on him and sniffled a bit. He had never had a real family, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles or cousins; just a distant father and a mother that died when he was young, too young to actually warrant a continued familial connection, but it had given him another one, a connection to Gibbs and his daughters.

None of them had a mother anymore, and Gibbs was more than willing to treat Jack like a son, probably at one stage hoping he'd marry one of his daughters. But it hadn't happened that way and he was still completely welcomed and most of the time wanted or needed, it looked like this was a time where someone needed him, and for the first time ever, it was Marie.

"I'll stay," his own voice surprised him at sounding a little teary but he just supposed it was because this close call had actually sent him to deaths door and dragged him halfway over the threshold before deciding he wasn't yet worth it and letting him go back to the living, "but you'll have to write my speech for the wedding."

"You know I don't mind writing," he heard Marie laugh a little, a watery sound what with the teary-ness in her voice, "I'll write you something for staying, I'll make it good I promise. I'll give it to you for your birthday."

Jack laughed quietly on her shoulder and then let his eyes close again, just standing there with her as she told him about this miraculous poem she was going to write, and that he'd get it only when he turned such and such an age.

"I have a better idea," he whispered as she stopped her own, continuing to twirl the dreadlock she had around her fingers as he lifted his chin from her shoulder to speak, "you give me this poem next time you and your dad are treating me. Remind me of everything."

"Of course," she promised as he laid his head back down and closed his eyes again, listening to the beat of her heart and thankfully to his, feeling a smile grace his lips as she hummed softly and Gibbs appeared in front of his eyes, standing a fair few metres away and giving a smile and a wave hello as he went back to the back door, "I'll write you an ode. An ode to a dying man, but I won't let it become that Jack. I swear I won't, lets go inside."

"Just a minute," Jack said as he tightened his grip on her and felt her relax back into place, holding him the same way he remembered from a long time ago, making him smile even more and ignoring the sound of window shutters opening on the house front behind him, knowing it was probably Nicole, "lets just stay this way a minute."

A/N: ok so this is the third story for my little one shot series (the first is 'life is good' the second is 'it's just a sunset') about Jack and his relationship with Gibbs family. It's set before the first and before the second, and there will be many more to come. These are all just placed in the order I wrote them, not the order of when they would have happened. Sorry if this one was a little soppy. I hope you like them, and continue to read them because believe me there are more to come. Thanks much, Ange.