Grownups were talking.
It was a rather familiar feeling. Patronizing, disdainful, condescending… but comfortable. It was comfortable because it was all he knew. For as long as he could remember, his age, narrow education, or a combination of the two had kept him out of most conversation. Pintel was the spokesman. And Ragetti was the quivering imbecile who remained glued to his side, feeding his own thoughts and interjections through timorous whispers that may or may not have been relayed by his uncle. Even as the lad grew older and became more experienced and even, at least in some respects, wiser, he always found himself alienated… intimidated, even… by the superiority of others. Having not attended school and being dragged from tavern to tavern and ship to ship by his uncle for a good portion of his childhood, Ragetti wasn't much accustomed to being around those his own age. Pintel had his mates. Ragetti had Pintel. So he became used to being surrounded by those older, and therefore more authoritative, than he. Many years in this humbling environment would eventually lead to the sensitive man's inability to properly express himself, even to those of the same age or younger. He had never been an equal. Never an influence. He knew not how to interact with his peers… So he didn't.
His 'peers,' the only two people who were at least somewhat close in age to him, albeit a smidgen younger, would probably not have much to say to him anyway, given their rocky past. Little Bootstrap and the Poppet were barely speaking to each other at the moment, in fact. Ragetti wasn't sure why, although he did figure that it must've had something to do with Jack. The solemn air resulting from the incident was enveloping them all. Even the usual roaring voice of the newly reintroduced Captain Barbossa was muted in the aged man's own subdued respect. One presence, however, was lacking in the somber landscape.
After the convergence to discuss the plan regarding their voyage to Singapore, the group had dispersed. Marty the dwarf and his friend, Mister Cotton were chatting amongst themselves, in the parrot's and their own way. Tia Dalma spoke with Barbossa, most likely about further preparations for the infiltration. Pintel was knocked out cold, his ripened old body worn out by the recent happenings. Ragetti thought that his uncle must possess an inhuman ability to sleep in the most horrendous conditions, as the older man was presently lying on a jagged wooden bench that he could've sworn he'd seen several rusty nails sticking out of. But there was one more member of this odd crowd who must've slipped away during the diffusion. And it was certainly not in this individual's nature to be separated from the group. In fact, the seasoned old sailor was far more contented to be right in the center of whatever affair should be taking place at any given moment, entertaining his company with his intricately spun yarns of daring naval expeditions and the questionable histories of those men so legendary that to know them to extent he claimed was unfathomable. But despite his debatable narratives, he kept you listening. He certainly kept Ragetti listening, as the slender blonde would always sit quite attentively during any such tale.
But where was Joshamee Gibbs now?
Ragetti became very curious as to the aberrant avoidance displayed by the older gentleman. Tia Dalma's shack was not among the most spacious environments and so he quickly determined that the missing crewman must've gone outside. His insistent timidity was inclining him to abandon the matter and go to lie down next to his uncle, perhaps attempting to catch a few winks before heading off on the fearsome quest that lay ahead. But his relentlessly inquisitive nature won out and he began to snoop. He crept over to the entryway of the little house, slowly and quietly and with his tongue protruding from the corner of his mouth as he overplayed his covertness. Sure enough, the gray-haired man was standing out on the elevated wooden terrace, leaning his husky elbows on the railing and staring out at the river below. His fingers were laced together and held up over his mouth, and his broad, dark eyebrows were furrowed intensely. Ragetti knew that this bleak and dreary demeanor was remarkably atypical for the man, even given the short time he'd known him. Clearly, he'd been holding back far more poignant emotions than he'd exhibited up to this point. The sight was so out of the ordinary, in fact, that Ragetti started to become uneasy. He felt as though he was witnessing something he should not be. So he turned to reenter the house. As he did, however, his awkward, leggy physique betrayed him and he caught his foot on the threshold, stumbling forward and gripping onto the doorframe so that his waist twisted under his weight, leaving him sitting flat on his rear in the doorway and gawking at a dreadfully startled Mister Gibbs.
"…What's going on there?" the old sailor spat out quickly, recovering from the unwelcome surprise.
Ragetti gulped loudly and scrambled to his feet, keeping half his body concealed behind the doorframe in a coy demonstration of apprehensiveness. Why hadn't he just gone to bed when his uncle had? Now he was in an interesting position…
"I-I-I-I'm sorry, sir! I d-d-didn't mean to-"
Gibbs took a step back at the younger man's nervous outburst. He put his hands up and gestured calmly for him to stop.
"Take it easy, ye rawboned buffoon, before ye hurt yerself…" He watched with an eyebrow cocked in puzzlement as Ragetti continued to gape helplessly at him, vacant in expression. "Do ye need somethin' from me, lad?"
"No…" Ragetti winced at this. 'Lad.' It seemed that no matter how many years went by, he was doomed to be forever referred to this way. His uncle would surely continue to until the day he died. That was understandable, though. But why the rest of the world? He was getting along into his thirties now and yet the condescending mannerisms never ceased, even by those who appeared to be just as young as he. He was almost certain that if he was ever in the unlikely position to have children of his own, they'd somehow end up calling him 'lad' as well.
"N-n-no, Mista' Gibbs. I'm sorry…"
"What're ye sorry for? Why d'ya keep sayin' that?"
"I… I dunno. Ye look like yeh wants ta be alone…"
"Heh…What gave ye that idea, son?" Gibbs looked down as he said this, well aware of the sullen front he'd been sporting a moment ago.
"I won' disturb yeh."
Ragetti turned to leave for a second time, but the weathered voice of the older fellow caught him mid-step.
"Ye seemed detached from the discussion, lad… Ye've got a part ta play in this scheme the same as everyone else. Ye gotta know it backwards an' front before we get ta Singapore."
"Errr… We've gotta get a boat, don' we?"
"…Aye, we've got ta have a boat in order ta get there! Ye think we can just hitch a ride? Think some bloke will just happen ta be goin' our way? 'Sure, fellas. Where ye headed?' 'Oh, just about… thirteen thousand miles west, ta Singapore!' Bloody likely…"
Ragetti looked as though he were about to cry. Without the shielding armor of Pintel's presence, Gibbs' harsh sarcasm penetrated the young man's heart immediately. It was a pathetic question he'd asked, he knew, but the older gentleman's volatile emotional condition would not allow for such idiocy and he wasn't prepared for that.
"I'm sorry, Mista' Gibbs… I knows most of it… Pint will 'elp me ta know that rest… I promise," he responded, shakily. He fidgeted restlessly with his fingers, keeping his head down low. If his chin was any further into his collarbone, it would have surely disappeared.
Gibbs looked on in bewilderment. He knew the young fellow was the weaker of the two former mutineers, but he'd never seen him apart from Pintel, and so the true extent of his fear and sensitivity was always hidden from him. He felt a small pang of guilt in his chest; his caustic tirade had obviously dealt quite a blow and he was not one to relish the pain of others, even those who'd rubbed him the wrong way in the past.
"…Don't be sorry, boy… I shoulda' let ye leave when ye were goin' to. I'm a wreck… if ye can't tell."
Ragetti lifted his face slightly. This suddenly soothing tone relieved some of the tenseness he felt and he looked over at Gibbs to see if the man had calmed down as much as his speech suggested.
"Are ye worried?" he asked.
"…Aye. I'd be lyin' if I told ye otherwise… A lot o' things be needin' ta go just so if we're ta succeed… I just hope we can keep it all together."
"Barbossa is 'ere now… It'll all be okay."
Gibbs scoffed. The younger man's eyes widened at this. It was a blessing that they had the old Captain back. Surely he could navigate the way to World's End, or wherever they said they were headed. Why was this not a relief to the man?
"Barbossa will lead us to Jack, I have no doubt… But it's not his well-being that's on his mind, is the trouble… The song's been sung, lad. The Brethren Court has been called and now each pirate lord must come forth with his piece of eight to convene and discuss a very grave matter…"
Ragetti brushed his fingers gingerly over his wooden prosthetic. It had been over a decade now, and he'd done his job well. Barbossa had expressed his pride in him for doing so earlier that night and this gave the young man a bothersome feeling that something big was about to happen. Gibbs' words had just confirmed that.
"…Ye don' think Cap'n Barbossa will do somethin' ta harm Jack Sparrow, do ye?"
"I don't believe that's his intention at the present, no. But Jack is not a man to Barbossa. He's a resource. So it worries me deeply that he be the one in charge of the whole operation… but I know that we need him. That's what's got me so disturbed, son. Me feelin's about everything are torn, but I know that no matter what I decide, it's all moot. I have no say in the matter so long as Barbossa is the pirate lord among us… It's a helpless feelin'." And with that, he turned, running a hand through his silver toned hair with a sigh and again taking the position that Ragetti had found him in, leaning sorrowfully against the rail.
Ragetti emerged fully from the doorway. He looked at Gibbs with such a sadness in his eyes that when the older man finally glanced over his shoulder, he could only stay frozen in much the same way the young pirate had moments ago, staring in astonishment. Had he said something else to hurt the man? Or was this sadness something deeper… As Ragetti approached him, remaining still a few feet away in his apparent diffidence, the hunched, awkward man raised his eyes, peering up nervously through a curtain of grimy blonde hair. Then he spoke.
"Errr… I d-d-don' really know as much 'bout all these goin's on as anyone else… an' I can't say that I understan' what ye's goin' through, 'avin' not actually 'ad a real friend 'sides me uncle… but if it m-means anythin' at all ta yeh, I am willin' ta die tryin'… T-t-ta get 'im back… 'An not just ta save piratin' 'an all that… It's for Jack… 'Cos we was wrong 'afore… an' we wants ta 'elp ye any ways we can… Even if we die, we'll die fer 'im… 'A-a-an I knows in me heart that goes fer Pint, too… Yer not alone."
Gibbs continued to gawk at the man, taking in all that he'd just said. The words were those of a child, it seemed. Or, in this case, an exceptionally uneducated man. But they were so full of emotion and concern that he was sure they couldn't possibly have come from the man who'd left Jack to die on the old Rumrunner's Isle… twice, right at the front of the crowd, hooting and hollering along with the rest of Barbossa's irreverent crew. And yet they had! Either Ragetti had had some sort of moral intervention between that time and now, or there was a lot more to this man than his simpleminded exterior put forward. He sensed a certain level of… maturity.
"It means a lot more than I think ye'll ever know…" Gibbs finally said.
Support. The anti-venom of helplessness. It had come from a seemingly unlikely source, but Mister Gibbs was now in higher spirits. The worry had not been completely washed away, of course. The weight of the task at hand would remain firmly upon him and the rest of the crew until it had been carried out in full. But he had support. 'Yer not alone.' Ragetti's words were not only appreciated. They were needed. He looked over to the man, no longer seeing an emaciated young lad, but a pillar, one of the few members of the crew who had a truly noble reason to take this terrifying journey and would provide support from beginning to end, even in the face of death. He saw a man.
"…Do ye want ta be left alone now, sir?" Ragetti asked meekly, misinterpreting the seriousness in the older man's voice.
"…No, I think I still be needin' ta talk to ye. Listen, la-… mate. Yer a pirate, ain't ye? Well, no pirate should go on without knowin' his pirate history! It rattles me bones, ye tellin' me that ye don't know it. Sit here an' lemme tell ye about the Brethren Court, now. Ye see, long before the likes of Cap'n Jack or Cap'n Barbossa, there was the convening of the first Brethren Court. When the world was much larger and the waters were all ours, the pirate lords divided the seas amongst each other. Now, ye know Morgan and Bartholomew, don't ye? Well, believe it or not, I actually knew a fella' who…"
Ragetti had finally found Joshamee Gibbs.