A/N: How great it feels to write my first Pirates of the Caribbean one-shot! And thanks to Lady Antebellum for providing the inspiration with their popular song Need You Now.
Summary: Will is gone, ferrying souls. Barbossa and his witty foe are locked in a game, each needing what the other possesses. And Jack Sparrow is stunned when he gets wind of the one thing he'd hoped he'd never have to hear. Set shortly after AWE.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
It's a quarter after one, I'm a little drunk and I need you now
Said I wouldn't call but I lost all control and I need you now
And I don't know how I can do without
I just need you now
(Need You Now, Lady Antebellum)
In a secluded corner of a tavern full of drunken pirates, a sole man sat at a small mahogany table. Long, dread-locked hair fell past his shoulders, a red bandana with a unique design keeping it out of his narrowed, dark brown eyes. A tri-cornered hat that was of a deep shade of gray lay unmoving upon the table's smooth surface. The various rings around the tan skin of his fingers clinked lightly as his hand absently grasped a half-empty clear bottle of dark, golden liquid. Soft candlelight fell across the right side of his face, revealing him to appear quite melancholy. He occasionally brought the glass bottle to his lips, wishing for the numb feeling the rum provided to last just a little while longer.
A month ago today, Jack Sparrow would have taken Davy Jones's Locker a hundred times over had he known of what was to come.
She had told him when they had been stranded on that small little island, when he'd thought he'd never again see the black sails of the Black Pearl. She'd seen straight through him, even then. She'd known he wasn't the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow she'd read about, only a pirate who'd become widely known for escaping a spit of land by strapping sea turtles to his feet. All he'd really done was lie on a beach for three days, drinking rum as if there were no promise of a tomorrow.
A month ago today, the infamous pirate had been sitting at the same table he was now, thinking of how best to continue onward in his quest to reach the Fountain of Youth. He had the map that could lead him straight to the pool of water that would forever make him young. One thing that remained to be missing was his beloved ship.
Of course he very well knew he could choose to make the journey on another stolen sleek vessel, though he found that to be superfluous. The Black Pearl had been in his life too long for him to go without, and how he longed to be at her helm, feeling the spray of the sea on his face. Jack was sure that Hector Barbossa had not taken proper care of this ship, which always left Jack believing he himself was rightfully the only one to see to it.
He had taken a room in Faithful Bride tavern in Tortuga after watching Barbossa sail away with the Pearl yet again, knowing Hector would come find him if he wanted the charts badly enough. Jack checked his compass regularly, watching and waiting. During these brief checks, he promised himself that once he got his ship back, he'd never lose her after that, for he wasn't sure he could stand seeing her sailing towards the horizon in his enemy's control for a fourth time.
Later that very night, just as Jack was about to retire to his room, an old friend plopped down in the chair opposite him. At first glance, he recognized the man was Gibbs, who had been Jack's first mate in his days as captain of the Black Pearl.
"Mr. Gibbs," he said, dipping his head slightly in greeting, failing to acknowledge the strained look on his former first mate's face. Jack immediately noticed two women just over Gibbs's shoulder, who were glancing in his direction. He realized they were waiting for Gibbs, and that his time at the table would be short. "Looks as if you're getting on just fine without me, mate. Nice of you to stop by though." A smile stretched across his face, a few gold teeth gleaming in the dim light of a flickering flame protruding from a round wax candle.
Gibbs nodded once, rather quickly. "What've you been doin' here, Jack?" he whispered hoarsely, leaning forward slightly.
The smile still plastered on his face, Jack Sparrow raised his nearly empty bottle of rum, shaking it slightly in mere amusement at the question. "Just having a couple drinks, Gibbs. Got a room here, too. Convenient," he added, glancing down at the small amount of rum in the bottle.
Gibbs's eyebrows pulled together. "That all?"
The tone of his voice didn't worry Jack in the slightest. "What?" he asked, more than half of his attention focused on one of the women behind Gibbs. He waved at her.
"Jack!" Gibbs whispered, becoming increasingly annoyed. Jack looked back at him. "You must've heard by now -"
"What be this you're going on 'bout?" Jack asked, frowning.
"Sweet Mother of God, Jack, I'd hoped I wouldn't be the one to tell yeh!" Gibbs glanced over his shoulder and smiled at the women waiting for him. Then he turned back. "Though, I suppose it's good I caught you here. . . . It's more of a 'who', really," he replied. "The Governor of Port Royal - 'member him? It's his daughter . . . Elizabeth. She's, well. . . . She's dead, Jack."
A disbelieving smile slowly started to spread across Jack Sparrow's face, and he had the urge to start laughing, hoping this was Gibbs form of a joke. He frowned again when he saw Gibbs was serious. "Turner? You must be mistakin', Gibbs. She's off on some island, waiting for her beloved to turn up in a few years." He waved a hand over his head, as if he'd gotten wind of this information a long time ago, as if it was all old news to him.
"Wish I was, Jack, I wish I was," Gibbs muttered. "They say she's already six feet under."
"And William?" he said after a few moments of silence. "Does he know?"
"I figure he does, though I can't be sure, o' course."
Jack nodded once. "Well, thanks fer tellin' me, mate."
And only giving Jack a look that resembled something of pity, Gibbs left, accompanied by the two women who had started giggling behind their hands.
The memory came back to him so easily now that it was like the conversation had taken place the previous day. The truth hadn't truly sunken in until the following week, when Jack was handed a folded piece of parchment from one of the bar maids. It was unfamiliar handwriting, but it was signed by Gibbs. His former first mate had heard from William, the note said, and had confirmed that Elizabeth really was dead.
Jack wondered at first how this could be true. Had William found a way to come back to the living world? He eventually concluded it must be so, for how else could he have contacted Gibbs? For as long as he could, Jack put off the hardest question, knowing he'd have to come to terms with the truth. . . .
Was Elizabeth Swan really gone, had she really died, waiting for Will Turner to return to her aboard the Flying Dutchman?
Lifting the bottle to his lips and letting the warm liquid slide down his throat, Jack Sparrow swallowed hard, knowing her life had come to an abrupt end.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a few short seconds. The numb feeling was starting to ebb away, and he wished for it to return. He'd been both numb and drunk for a solid month, preferring to feel nothing at all. Just one more drink, one more and he would be out before he made it to his room upstairs. At least he could escape reality in sleep.
A bar maid brought him another full bottle. Jack drank it greedily, as if he were in the middle of a desert, dying of thirst. He drained it in less than a minute, adding the empty bottle to the large collection on the table; they circled him and his tri-cornered hat. He saw his reflection in one and groaned: He looked horrible.
He pulled out his compass, flipped open the top, and looked down at the red arrow. It swiveled around, never coming to a complete stop. With an annoyed grunt, he made a move to close it.
But his index finger froze. The arrow had just stopped . . . and was pointing straight ahead. Jack glanced up.
Before him was the reason he'd been so lost for the last couple of weeks, the reason he'd gotten so drunk. A thought crossed his mind as he looked at her pale face and golden wind-blown hair: What if he could only see her because he was this intoxicated? What is she was only a ghost from his past, come back to haunt him?
"Jack . . . ." she whispered, her voice light and feather-like. "Jack . . . I love you, Jack."
His mouth hung open for a few seconds before he could find his voice. "I always loved you, too, 'Lizbeth, even if you were what I couldn't have."
A sad smile appeared on her lips, and then, like a wisp if smoke, Elizabeth Turner disappeared.
Jack Sparrow stood and hurled an empty rum bottle at the wall, where it smashed into a million pieces. The shards fell to the floor, and he realized that they resembled his broken heart.
If only he had told her sooner, if only he'd admitted it to himself, she might still be alive and happy now. But she wasn't, and there was no changing the past.
Jack sat back down in the chair and slumped over the table, his eyelids drooping. The remaining bottles fell to the floor, shattering once they came into contact with the wooden floorboards.
Jack Sparrow was unconscious before his head hit the table.