Title: The Heart's Solitaire
By: St. Minority
Warning: mentions and a bit of m/m, violence, water torture
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Bootstrap; Will/Elizabeth; brief mentions of Barbossa, Norrington, and Beckett, OC
Disclaimer: I don't own POTC - all belong to Elliott, Rossio, Bruckheimer, Disney, etc.
Summary: Is Jack Sparrow really who he thinks he is? If so, why have they all forgotten?
A/N: Takes place after DMC and is just utterly weird. I experimented with the mystical, magical heart powers! And the repitition of singing, "And really bad eggs" over and over again came from what my sister did one night after we saw COTBP when it came out. This was intended to be a one-shot, but it's become a WIP. *Date first published elsewhere: ~1/28/07
The dank, depressing corridor filled with sounds of distressed yells proved to be a most unusual place to find a well-dressed, prominent couple walking down. Will and Elizabeth Turner traveled to the end of the hall and the man escorting them removed his keys for the black iron door on the left.
"Has he gotten any better?" Will asked concerned.
"He's still claiming to be some pirate," the doctor replied.
"And the stories?"
"He refuses to accept them as merely fiction, no matter what treatment we give him. He may always be a lunatic."
The doctor unlocked the entrance, but before he opened it, he stated, "Don't encourage it. Try talking about the truth."
Once the door was ajar, they could hear the occupant humming and then – "And really bad eggs." He went on to sing the phrase continuously.
Jack was huddled in the corner, rocking back and forth, and his hands were up as if he were steering a wheel.
"John. John," the physician said more sternly when Jack did not respond. He went to the emaciated male and grabbed his arm, arousing a whimper from Jack. "You have a few visitors. Show them some manners, will you?"
Jack stared at him blankly, and after a moment he sang, "And really bad eggs."
The doctor stood, sighed, and made to leave. As he walked off, he spoke to Will, "I'll give you fifteen minutes or so."
Will and Elizabeth crept toward Jack and sat next to him on the cold, stone ground. They took in the man's appearance and glanced at each other sadly.
Jack wore a long, tattered brown gown that repeatedly slipped off his right shoulder whenever he would pull it back up. His hair had been cut raggedly to be chin-length, and his face had been kept clean-shaven. From what the couple could see of his visage, it was greatly bruised as well as his arm.
"John?" Will's voice was gentle and caring.
Jack turned himself to face them and his sunken, exhausted eyes lit up. "William! Elizabeth! When did you get here?"
"Just a couple of minutes ago."
"How are you, John?" Elizabeth interjected.
Confusion settled in on Jack's features. "Why are you two callin' me that?"
"It's your name, John."
"You're wrong, love. You're wrong."
"Then what is your name?" Will questioned.
"It's Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow."
Elizabeth reached out to touch Jack's arm as she began, "John-"
Jack backed away hurriedly. "Stop that, Lizzy."
"Jack Sparrow isn't real, John. He's an imaginary character in children's stories."
"No. My ship…..My ship, the Black Pearl-"
"The Black Pearl is the ship of a pirate named Barbossa," the blacksmith corrected.
"How did he get it back from me again?"
"You think he stole it from you before?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "You can't know him because he kills everyone he encounters. He would've killed you as well if you had met him, then you wouldn't be here."
"So, you're saying…He took my ship after it was taken down?"
Will's eyebrows furrowed. "Taken down?"
"By the Kraken."
"The Kraken as in the beast of Davy Jones?" Elizabeth elaborated.
"-They aren't real either."
"You are not a pirate," Will voiced firmly. "You've never been one. You worked for the Navy and suddenly started having these…delusions, and that's why you're here. If you want to get out of this place, you have to stop believing you're Jack Sparrow and stop telling the doctor outrageous stories."
"William…..Why don't you believe me?" Jack inquired helplessly. "Don't you both remember? It is real." As if feeling more confident, he added, "If it weren't, then how do you explain your father being a member of Jones' crew, ay?"
"But he isn't."
Jack was stunned. "He isn't?"
He became silent when he sensed someone enter. His eyes widened and his mouth fell open when he saw it was Bootstrap Bill Turner looking just as he remembered him from long ago – perfect and attractive, with no sea life on him whatsoever.
"Hello, John," Bootstrap greeted warmly.
Jack remained speechless as he watched the man sit next to Elizabeth. He was finally able to choke out, "B….Bootstrap. You're…..You're beautiful."
Will and Elizabeth glanced at each other quizzically.
"Not a starfish or a barnacle on ya," Jack continued. He reached out a trembling hand to caress Bootstrap's cheek. "You are real."
"Will, Elizabeth, can you step outside for a moment?" Bootstrap asked faintly.
The couple got up and went to wait in the hallway.
Jack cupped Bootstrap's face in his hands and his eyes sprang tears.
"I am crazy, William," he whispered weakly.
Bootstrap did not say a word as he moved closer to the fragile man, brought him close, and kissed him heatedly. Jack began to cry, and he clutched Bootstrap to him protectively. He moaned softly into the hot mouth and all at once vivid images from the past of himself and the older man flashed in his mind. He remembered the way Bootstrap embraced him comfortingly after their tiring, nightly acts aboard the Pearl, recalled how the male felt when he held onto him while the thrusts grew more powerful inside him, and reminisced about the many tingling sensations Bootstrap was always capable of provoking – such as whenever the sweat that clung to his neck and body was licked away. The visions were incredibly intimate and actual, but he corrected himself, knowing that they were nothing except more "delusions."
At last they broke away, breathing heavily, hearts racing. Bootstrap wiped the falling tears off Jack's face and stroked his cheek.
"Open your eyes and look at me," he said quietly.
Jack slowly did so.
"You still look good, and you're still Jack Sparrow. You will always be Jack Sparrow."
"But it isn't-"
"It's as real as me kissin' you just seconds ago…Something's happened, Jack, and I think it may have somethin' to do with that damned heart."
"The heart?" Jack turned the words over in his head and at length it clicked. "The key, the chest…..the heart. Who has it?"
"I don't know. But somethin' has made everyone forget – as if none of anything ever happened. I remember being on the Dutchman, then suddenly I was in my son's house with his new wife."
"And I ended up here."
"Aye. The Commodore-"
"Yes, him – I think he knows. He doesn't seem to be one that's forgotten."
"Of course. He wants redemption. The best way to do that is to clear the entire thing-"
"And get rid of you, so to speak-"
"Because if I don't know who I am, then no one would know to get the heart from them."
"Norrington and Beckett. They have to have it…But more importantly, what's this I hear of Barbossa and my ship?"
Bootstrap shook his head and said solemnly, "I'm sorry, Jack. He's got it. He's become a real terror with it."
Jack sighed and closed his eyes briefly. "We'll have to get her back first then."
"Well after three months, I finally know where you are and gettin' the heart – and the Pearl – seems a bit more likely. I'll get ya out of here, Jack. I swear it. Don't let them get rougher with ya in the meantime."
Jack smiled. "What would you do if they did?"
"I'd kill them. I'll stand up for ya."
Jack laughed a little and kissed Bootstrap gently several times. They stared at each other silently for a period until the doctor and two other men stepped into the cell.
"It's time for one of his treatments," the physician stated.
Bootstrap stood and gritted his teeth as the two men got Jack forcibly to his feet and hauled him out of the room. He followed into the hallway and watched along with Will and Elizabeth.
As Jack neared the end of the corridor, they could faintly hear him start to hum the familiar tune once again.
And when the doctor turned his company to the right, there was a quiet, "And really bad eggs," before Jack shouted, "Drink up me hearties, yo ho!" and then the sudden, loud clang of a door being slammed shut rang out.
The past month had taken a great toll on Jack. Not only was his physical exhaustion being pushed to the limit, but the strong mental state he had maintained began to deteriorate. Though he continued to proclaim himself as Captain Jack Sparrow, he was not as resolute about it as he once was. Doctor Bringham noted the change as the beginning of progress and an increase in "treatments" was ordered. He began to use new techniques to attain the desired effect; he was intensely determined to wear his patient down. The reason for it was that a Commodore Norrington and a Lord Beckett, high-standing gentlemen of Britain, demanded Jack be "cured." There were no other "lunatics" that had gained the interest of such men before, and Bringham planned to see to it that Jack would be taken care of as they wished.
"Let's try again," Bringham said in a forced, calm tone. "Where and who did you get those gunshot wounds from on your chest?"
Jack's whole body shook and he attempted to stay on his feet. The pain robbed him of breath, but he pushed himself to answer his way one more time. "The Black Pearl," he gasped. "A treacherous man of my crew."
The physician made a noise of disapproval and nodded to his aid: a burly man who drew back his weapon and then quickly struck forward with it. The whip smacked Jack's bleeding back powerfully, creating another sizeable gash and it made Jack wail. His wrists ached in their bonds above his head from the strain of holding him up when his legs started to give out.
"Well, you've now managed to answer that question wrong…..sixteen times. John, if you wish to get rid of your insanity, you have to start trying. Where and who did you get the two gunshot wounds from?"
Jack blinked and a drop of water escaped his eye. "Fort Charles. A small Spanish revolt or something. One of them."
Bringham nodded and voiced, "That's better. Very good, John. Remove the shackles and take him to get those lashes cleaned up a bit."
The helper nodded and unlocked the handcuffs from Jack's wrists. Jack struggled to continue standing and he hissed as he brought his arms slowly down to his sides. The man threw Jack's filthy garment at him and began to drag him toward the door.
"We'll do this again in a few days," Bringham said frankly when Jack and his escort exited.
A heavy relapse into the fantasy stories made the physician up the frequency of therapy once again. Jack's returning resilience caused unwanted headaches for Bringham, and one day, he decided to implement his frustration on the estranged patient.
If he wished for the sea, Bringham would provide him with an effect of it.
Jack was kept lying securely on the long table by strong hands grasping his legs, arms, and head. A funnel was thrust between his lips and held there, and his nostrils were pinched shut. He observed Doctor Bringham with frantic eyes advancing toward him with a large pitcher and struggled greatly to get free, but it was to no avail.
Without a word, Bringham began to pour the water into the funnel at a slow, even pace. Jack fought to drink it down as quickly as it was coming, but the arising sensation of drowning caused him to panic, making swallowing more difficult than it already was.
"Eight quarts to be exact," Bringham said casually as he continued. "You've never sailed the ocean as a pirate, John. If you had, you would have no problem with a little bit of water in the mouth."
Jack's stomach ached unbearably and his lungs demanded air. He writhed weakly under the iron grips of the five men bracing him to the table. His fingers clawed the hard surface and Bringham merely observed him with a glint of satisfaction in his eyes.
"There. That's the last of it for now."
It drained Jack of energy to get the rest of it down. The funnel was removed from his mouth and he loudly inhaled deeply. He wheezed and panted, wanting nothing more than to choke on the wonderful air. Bringham allowed him only a minute for recovery before he was taken off the table and supported by two men to keep him standing.
"Empty him," the doctor commanded.
The sudden, violent blow to his abdomen caused Jack to double over and almost pass out. The fist hit him repeatedly until he finally started to vomit. He was tossed to the floor to heave several times, dumping all the liquid that had been forced into him onto the cold ground. The fatigue he felt afterward made it almost impossible for him to wipe the tears from his burning face.
No time was wasted once he was finished. He was pulled to the table, thrown onto it, and kept in place for a second round. This time, however, instead of the funnel being inserted between his lips, a cloth was put in his mouth. His nostrils were pinched shut, Bringham began to dispense the water again, and the fabric was forced down his throat at the same time.
Jack closed his eyes tightly and thrashed about as much as he could as the agony of suffocation settled in.
The stifling blackness slowly disintegrated as Bootstrap Turner held a glowing lantern out at arm's length to illuminate the corridor. It was a different area of the building that he ventured – located beneath the ground, making it cold, damp, and wholly dark, but whether due to the candles having been blown out or absent altogether, Bootstrap could not tell.
His free hand clutched the sword hilt at his waist as he crept further down the hallway. He counted the doors on the right silently until he came to the fifth one, then glanced about him to assure that nobody was around and removed the ring of keys from his inside coat pocket. A smirk pried at the edges of his lips as he thought of the man he had threatened senseless just minutes ago to retrieve it.
"Fifth key for the fifth door," he muttered to himself.
The object was inserted into the large lock and he opened the ominous door cautiously.
"Drink up…me hearties, yo ho," Jack sang immensely quietly. He found it difficult to speak through his tears. "We kidnap and ravage…and don't give a hoot…Drink up me hearties…yo ho."
Bootstrap entered and his eyes looked to the nearby corner at his right from which the voice was coming. Jack held his knees to his chest and shivered violently. He was naked and completely soaked with water from one of his "treatments" that occurred not long before Turner had arrived.
"Jack," Bootstrap whispered as he rushed to kneel beside him.
He set the lantern next to him and took off his coat. He was about to cover Jack with it, but the horrid wounds on the male's back made him pause. Jack continued his attempts to sing, acting as if no one was with him, until he felt fingertips lightly caress the torn and tender flesh. He arched away from the touch and cried out weakly in pain. Bootstrap immediately retracted his hand, placed the coat around Jack, and brought the frail man to rest against his chest. He stroked the short, wet hair comfortingly as Jack wept softly.
"What have they done to you?" Bootstrap uttered under his breath. "I'm sorry. Lord, I'm sorry. It's alright, Jack. I've got ya now. They can't hurt you."
Jack gripped Bootstrap's arm as if he were a life-line. The sobs racked his unbelievably thin frame, draining him of most of the minute energy he possessed.
"It's alright," Bootstrap spoke soothingly. "Take a breath. Come on, now. Take some deep breaths."
Jack attempted to do as instructed, and it was several moments before he was at last able to breathe at an even pace.
"Are you new?" he asked hoarsely. "You're too kind to be here."
"Jack, it's William. You know me."
Jack pulled away slightly to study the visitor's countenance. He smiled somewhat when he ascertained that it was, in fact, his former crewman.
Because Jack gazed at him directly, Bootstrap could see the left side of the man's face that he could not before. It was bleeding, and his eye and cheek were horridly swollen. The right half was terribly bruised and discolored, but not to such a drastic degree. The sight made a welling hatred boil inside Bootstrap.
"Oh Lord, Jack. What have they done to you?"
Jack flashed him a questioning look. "Why are you callin' me that?"
Bootstrap was surprised. "Last time I checked, it was your name."
"No it's not."
"They've gotten to you?"
"They're curing me."
"No they're not. They're destroyin' you." He took hold of Jack's bony shoulders and stared at him. "You are Jack Sparrow."
"No. He's not real."
"Yes he is. He's you."
Jack shook his head and started to rock back and forth a little as if nervous.
"You have a ship, a beautiful ship. Do you remember what it's called? It's called the Black Pearl."
Jack closed his eyes and trembled.
"Listen to me, Jack-"
"Stop calling me that," he said threateningly.
"Fourteen years ago, there was a mutiny and you lost her. I was there with you, Jack."
"Throw away all the nonsense they've filled your head with, Jack! They're lying! You have to remember!"
"He's not real-"
"Yes he is! He's you! You are Jack Sparrow; Captain Jack Sparrow!"
Jack pushed Bootstrap back and screamed, "No! Jack Sparrow is not real! He doesn't exist!"
Bootstrap was stunned by the force in Jack's voice and at the sudden spurt of life he had. But it was evident that the outburst was intensely strenuous from the tired expression Jack had.
Bootstrap cupped the male's face in his hands, and Jack flinched at the sensitive side of his face being touched.
"Look at me. Look right at me."
Exhausted, defeated amber eyes stared at him sorrowfully.
"You must believe me. If you don't…there's no way things can be set right."
"Please, William, stop."
"You have to believe me."
Jack appeared as if he were about to speak, but his eyes all at once widened and filled with fear and desperation. His mouth opened as he started to breathe faster.
"What is it?" Bootstrap asked rapidly.
Bootstrap immediately felt anxiety, but he did not let it show. "Alright. It's alright. We've got to move quickly now. Where's your clothing?"
Jack pointed to the opposite corner and said, "Over there."
Bootstrap went to retrieve it and discovered it to be drenched with water.
"I took it off because it was too cold," Jack voiced quietly.
"Alright. We'll take it with us. Give me your hand."
Jack did, and Bootstrap pulled him to his feet. He whimpered and clung to the taller man as his breath left him.
"It's fine," Bootstrap muttered. "It's alright. Just take a minute."
Soon, Jack was able to inhale deeply several times and could stand on his own. He shrugged on Bootstrap's coat, and Turner buttoned it for him.
"Good," he said and picked up the lantern. "Let's go and stay behind me."
They moved out the door and began the walk down the hallway. When they came to the intersection where four corridors met, a light appeared at the end of one.
"He's coming this way," Bootstrap whispered.
He led Jack across the small open area into the darkness of the same hallway they had traveled in. He blew out the candle and peered around the corner. Six men treaded hurriedly down the corridor in the opposite direction of them and were on their way to Jack's cell.
"Come on. Quickly," Bootstrap commanded as he took Jack's hand in his.
Jack was excruciatingly tired, but he jogged behind Bootstrap as best he could. They were halfway to the stairs that led up – and ultimately to freedom – when Jack's foot landed on a sharp object, creating a bleeding injury. He yelped in pain, but was speedily silenced as Bootstrap covered his mouth and held him close. His eyes shut briefly, and he bit his tongue. The slashes on his back were pressed strongly against Turner, causing him to be in even more pain.
"Heard something down there!" one of the men shouted.
"Are you going to be fine to walk?" Bootstrap questioned gently.
"Alright. I need you to run for me, Jack. Can you do that?"
"I think so."
Without another word, they bolted for the stairs just as the six started after them. Jack made sure his grasp on Bootstrap's hand was secure to assure that he would not fall behind.
They were mere feet from their destination when five more men descended down to surround them. Jack was on the verge of collapsing from the exertion and from panic.
"What's your plan now?" he gasped.
"It'll come to me."
"Please don't let them take me," he whispered in Turner's ear before he fell to the ground and all went black.
A soft groan escaped Jack's dry lips and he opened his eyes slowly. His body ached everywhere.
It did not take him long to discover that he had no clothing on and that he was not waking up on a stone floor. He was lying on a ramshackle bed and felt as if he were rocking slightly.
He looked to the side to find Bootstrap sitting in a chair nearby asleep. When he struggled to sit up, it woke the slumbering man, and Bootstrap aided him to a sitting position.
"Thanks," Jack mumbled.
"Where are we?"
"On a ship bound for Port Royal."
Bootstrap cocked his head and sighed. "Come on, Jack. Tell me you remember."
"Please stop callin' me that."
"Then tell me how I can prove it to you that you're Jack Sparrow."
Jack shrugged. "You can't. He's fictional."
Bootstrap was about to speak once more, but decided against it as an idea formed in his mind. He would deal with the identity dilemma later; there were other things to see to at that point in time.
"We'll have to keep you hidden in my room until we set out," he said casually.
"Never mind. Since you're awake and we have some medicine for it now, let me wash those marks on your back."
Jack inhaled a breath. "If you must."
Jack turned on the bed in order to have his marred dorsal side to Bootstrap. Turner fetched a cloth and bottle and situated himself in the chair in front of Jack.
"It's going to sting," he voiced quietly.
He poured some of the liquid onto the rag and dabbed one of the fresh lacerations. Jack hissed and arched away.
Jack settled after a short period and let out a deep breath. Silence dropped upon them as Bootstrap continued. Jack stared blankly at the wall before him and tried to be subtle about his actions when he wiped the few tears trickling from his eyes away. Bootstrap noticed, but did not say a word.
Once he finished, Jack lay down as Bootstrap asked, "You want somethin' to eat or drink?"
"No. I'm fine for now."
"You'll have to eat sooner or later, but get some more rest then, I guess."
Jack seemed a bit reluctant as he inquired, "Care to join me?"
Bootstrap smiled reassuringly and moved beneath the covers Jack held up in invitation. Jack turned slightly on his side away from Turner, who put an arm around his nude body and inched close. He took Bootstrap's hand in his and rubbed it.
"Shhh…..Don't worry about anythin' now. Get some rest."
"Did you get any sleep?"
"A little. I spent most of the night awake watching you sleep to make sure you were alright."
Jack snuggled back against Bootstrap and whispered, "Then stay here with me."
Within minutes, both had slipped into the abyss of slumber.
In the cover of night, two figures scurried cautiously toward a large house. When they arrived at the porch, Bootstrap voiced in a low tone, "Wait out here until I can make sure no one will see you."
Jack nodded and moved behind the shrubbery as Bootstrap entered. He looked to the fort of Port Royal and saw the outlines of three men standing on the second level. All at once images began to filter through his mind.
Beckett, Cutler Beckett. Norrington, James Norrington. Governor Swann. They have something; something valuable.
"Lord Beckett desires the contents of that chest. I deliver it, I get my life back."
"On our return to Port Royal, I granted you clemency. And this is how you thank me? By throwing in your lot with him? He's a pirate!"
"Does that hurt, Jack? I would certainly hope so. A life of robbery on the seas is a rather low profession, don't you agree?"
Jack shifted his eyes to the front door and crept out of the bushes when he realized it was Bootstrap.
"Here," he said faintly.
"Alright. Come on. Everyone's out at the moment."
They went inside, up the stairs, and into the first room on the left.
"This is my space, so make yourself comfortable. I'll go get you something to eat and drink," Turner spoke kindly.
Once the door closed, Jack gazed down at his pathetic robe that served as a sign of the imprisonment and torment of the asylum. He lifted it over his head and let it fall to the floor. Glancing around, he spotted a dresser, moved to it, and got a clean shirt and pair of trousers. After putting the garments on, he turned around and jumped from spotting Bootstrap simply watching him.
"Sorry," he said with a smile. "Just wanted to get rid of that filthy thing."
"It's not a problem at all. Looks good on you. But you know-" Turner set down the tray of food he had and stepped to the closet. "-You may look better in something else I found on my last visit to you."
A few seconds after rummaging around, Bootstrap presented all of Jack's former clothing and laid them on the bed. The expression Jack had was one of sheer delight, astonishment, and a hint of sorrow. Slowly, he walked to the outfit and stared at it lovingly. His fingers lightly ran over the fabric of his coat. He sighed as the confusing pieces started to mesh together; the wardrobe was identical to that of the known pirate, and he grinned as an odd, yet calming feeling overwhelmed him.
"Hat's in there somewhere," Bootstrap said and pointed to the closet.
"Hmm…..That's interesting. Least I know I can retain a little bit of the old Jack Sparrow," he uttered softly.
Turner smiled. "I knew you'd remember. You're back."
"…..If only a little."
Jack seemed uncertain before he placed his arms around Bootstrap and moved his face closer. Bootstrap leaned toward him and they kissed gently. The contact soon grew needy, and Bootstrap put his palms on Jack's back. It made the shorter man whimper and pull away.
"I'm sorry," Turner said quickly. "I'm sorry. Are you alright?"
Jack nodded. "I'm fine."
Jack shoved his recovered clothing out of the way and sat on the bed. "Make it up to me," he purred.
The amber eyes appeared seductive, but there was a trace of apprehension and fear in them. Bootstrap cupped Jack's face in his hands, causing Jack to wince ever so slightly, and he laid him down. He held himself above the emaciated form and kissed Jack tenderly. His hands soon went under Jack's shirt, and he pushed it upward to reveal the starved abdomen and the sight of ribs pressing against the skin. The urge to speak from his alarm of the condition was great, but Jack coaxed him on by putting his own hands atop Bootstrap's to guide them over his body. Before long, Bootstrap replaced his wandering digits with his lips to devour the flesh. Jack exhaled a breath in contentment.
The sound of a door closing from downstairs abruptly halted their intimacy. Bootstrap gazed at Jack, who looked somewhat frightened.
"Let me go let them know I'm here," he muttered reassuringly. "Just stay quiet and don't worry."
Jack nodded in disappointment and inched up toward the headboard to rest on the pillows and beneath the sheets as Bootstrap exited. He closed his eyes and was thrilled to be lying in such a comfortable bed; quite the luxury compared to what he had been used to for so long.
The voices of Will and Elizabeth could be heard faintly from downstairs along with Bootstrap's, and in just minutes, Jack drifted into a relaxing sleep.