(A/N:) Hiii! So I'm really sorry I didn't get this up sooner. The end of the long course swim season was pretty hectic, then after that I had foot surgery. So while I had plenty of time to write, I couldn't come up with a way to put it down. About a week after I was back in normal people shoes, we went to visit relatives before the start of school, and towards the end of that week, I literally jumped up out of my chair, ran over to the computer, and wrote the chapter. It was finished within three days. So here ya have it. Hope it was worth the wait! :)
Disclaimer: Argh! Be ye ole Pirates o' the Caribbean mine? Nay! Oy, what a cruel, cruel life this be. Who be with me?
"My name is Anastasia, but I prefer to be called Anya. I am nineteen years old. Your daughter discovered my secret recently, but I begged her not to tell anyone of it; please do not be angry with her."
"I shan't. And speaking of daughters, what of your own parents?"
"My parents do not know I am here," Anya said softly, "and I doubt they care. As the youngest of six children and the only girl, I was never exactly the favorite One might think that on an island such as this, where I grew up, it would be different, but it was not. At eleven, I ran away, stowed aboard a ship bound for Tortuga, and stayed with my friend Louisa Marie. At twelve, I disguised myself as a boy and became apprenticed to Andrew Moore, a carpenter, so this sort of disguise is far from new to me. It's simply safer in the world for a boy than for a girl."
"I can understand that. Go on."
"It was possible to keep my identity hidden, so long as I only came out to work and kept a hat on at all times. But Mr. Moore died when I was eighteen, leaving me to take over the business. As one would assume, the disguise that had already been difficult to maintain became an impossible challenge. About seven months ago, a fortnight after my nineteenth birthday, I began work in the harbor. I remained there for six months, then looked for a ship to board when I discovered that someone whose name I cannot mention had returned to Tortuga. Now here I am.
"I was not lying when I told your daughter I had left home because of family issues. I cannot tell you exactly what those family issues entail, because I fear it would endanger us all for you to know."
Elizabeth, who had returned to her place beside Anya, sat up straighter, a wary look coming into her eyes and her brow furrowing slightly.
Not wishing to cause her concern, Anya hurriedly added, "I promise I shall do my best to prevent any harm from coming to you. Though you knew naught who I was, you and the rest aboard the Black Pearl have been kinder to me than anyone else has."
The worried creases faded from Elizabeth's face, but did not disappear entirely. Anya bit her lip, mentally berating herself. Honestly, did she have to make it sound so grim? She should have softened her words, obviously, rather than scaring poor Mrs. Turner to death.
Elizabeth bit her lip, pondering over Anya's words. It was obvious from her eloquent speech that her background was far from commonplace- no ordinary Tortuga girl spoke that way. Why, then had she turned to a life of piracy? Or had she?
"I have indeed been on this island before, and in fact spent quite a lot of time here. Once, again, if I tell you why, some difficulties may arise."
"I'm not sure I understand how, but I believe you."
"I thank you. I-"
She was cut off abruptly by Will calling Elizabeth's name from the campfire, and the sound of footsteps in their direction. She swiftly tucked her hair up under her hat again, pulling the brim securely down over her face. "We will talk more later," she said softly.
Elizabeth nodded, and managed a weak smile. Her brain hardly registered a change when Anya, once more disguised as Jacob, hurried off. She was still trying to get over the fact that the young boy was, in fact, a young girl. Who would have thought? And she had such a mystifying past, too.
Will settled down beside her on the log. "Everything all right?"
Shaking her head briskly to clear the cobwebs from her muddled mind, she turned to smile at him and nodded cheerily. "Of course!"
He raised an eyebrow skeptically, but said nothing. Rather, he simply nodded and turned to face the same direction she did.
She sighed. As if he would believe her if she lied to him. "No, everything is not okay, but it's getting there. I can't tell you why I'm upset yet, but I will as soon as I can."
He looked disappointed, but nodded, seeming to be satisfied that she would at least admit her concern. There were a few moments of silence. "Does it involve Jacob?"
She almost said that yes it did, but then it occurred to her that it really did not, since there was no real Jacob. And besides, she certainly did not wish for him to suspect the poor girl of any wrongdoing. "Yes and no."
He nodded again.
A few minutes later, he asked, "Shall we go join the others?"
She nodded, and not another word was said about the mysterious issue.
Kristie paced around the cramped cell, searching for a way, any way, to escape. Still there had been no sign of Robert, as they had been taken to separate cells. For all they knew he could have been press-ganged into working for the Russians. The ship had stopped moving now, but all they could see from the tiny barred window was the marbled greyish brown of rock. Perhaps they had been docked on a rocky beach, or maybe by a cliff. They honestly did not know.
She stopped what she was doing and rushed over to the door- not that there was a need to rush, after all, it was only a 6-foot-wide cell- and snatched a homemade, wiry, slightly mangled hairpin from where it had been hooked over her bandanna. Oh, yes, it was always good to have one on hand for emergencies. She glanced this way and that, making sure she was not being watched, then quietly threaded a slender arm through the bars, twisting at the elbow and reaching around for the lock. Taking a deep breath, she jammed it in. Then she swiftly pulled it back in, examining the marks made in the pin and deftly bending little sections of wire to match, before repeating the process. On the third round, she thought she heard footsteps, so she hurried the process along a bit, humming softly to herself in her anxiety. She jammed it in, hearing the hints of a click, hoping desperately that it would work as well as it did with simple padlocks on suitcases and drawers. She yanked it out and began to pull her arm back in to finish her work, but her elbow caught painfully against one of the rusty metal bars, and the precious bit of wire dropped silently to the puddle on the floor.
Kristie's knees hit the floor immediately, and Sarah sprang from her position on the bench, both reaching anxiously for the stray pin, but both leaped straight back to their feet as a uniformed guard strolled down the corridor with a mop. Upon noticing the pair standing against the door, he paused in his mopping and smirked knowingly. "As you well know," he said, "there's not much chance of escape. So you'd better save your strength." And with that, he reached for the next mucky puddle- which just happened to be right in front of them. Dark water splashed around their ankles as they watched their makeshift key to freedom be swept away.
Leonid Gretchenko leaned lazily against the mast of the ship, exhausted from the grueling task of sailing the ship to the bay. This was allegedly the Black Pearl, the fabled pirate ship known as the fastest in all the world, yet at a glance, it certainly didn't appear to deserve such a lofty title. Heavily patched-up wooden sides evidenced numerous attacks, and even the famed black sails were ragged with years of wear and tear and countless patch jobs, obviously done by someone with less than expert sewing skills.
No matter how many times they went through this routine- lure a vessels owner to the island, distract them, steal the ship, finish the deal quietly- it never did sit well with him. As far as he knew, he was the only one here who got a knot in his stomach as they began each step that had only begun to fade by the time they had to start the next. Not that Commodore Kovalsky would care- he probably didn't even care to know Leonid's name, much less how he felt about the methods the Company used to acquire the possessions.
This time, what bothered him most was the way they'd captured and imprisoned the three young children. They appeared to be no more than eleven or twelve years old, and all they had done was attempt to defend their home from those who tried to steal it, yet they were the ones behind bars while the thieves went free. Maybe it was a unique opinion, but that just seemed wrong to Gretchenko. He'd asked his comrade Alexei Yeleshev to check on them while he was mopping the corridors down below, but he'd just snickered and told him to stop being so pathetic.
He was brought back to the present by a thump on the shoulder and the sound of his name. He opened his eyes to see another man wearing the same drab grey uniform as he, looking rather impatient. "Captain orders that you help with cleanup and restoration of the vessel," he announced curtly.
Heaving a sigh, he hauled himself to his feet from his comfortable position, straightened his hat and sauntered off to do his Captain's bidding, to assist in the next stages of the crime being comitted. Dear God, he hated this job.
Will's eyes drifted wearily over the surface of the ocean, looking but not seeing. In his six years of captaining the Dutchman, the number of souls floating helplessly around in the water had decreased dramatically, but still some remained. When he had first begun this job, he had hated it with a passion, not wanting anything to do with this place again, having no desire to work with this ship that also served as his prison. As time wore on, however, he had settled into the routine, working through the loneliness. Oftentimes he imagined Elizabeth here with him, and some began to wonder if he was going mad. But he was a good captain, kind to the crew and excellent with caring for his traumatized passengers.
It wasn't a bad life, really, once you got past the morbidness of the business. But every day he heard stories of traumatic accidents, of families torn apart, of lonely childhoods and lives lost. Every sad story felt like a weight on his shoulders. At least twice a day he met someone who had just lost his wife, and every time it hurt just a little bit more. He missed Elizabeth more and more each day, and to combat the loneliness he told himself each day that he was one day closer to his release from the Dutchman and his arrival home. It was how he survived.
He was suddenly aware of a presence behind him, and turned to see a young man, no more than perhaps twenty, twenty-one years old, standing there. He looked to have been a man of good standing, his dark curls neatly tied out of his face, despite it being a bit bedraggled, and his clothes relatively clean and neat.
"Hello. I'm afraid we have not met before."
Will noted that he spoke with a harsh Russian accent, completing the image perfectly. He replied shortly, "We have not."
He nodded politely. "My name is Ivan Kovalsky."
"Captain Will Turner."
"It is a great pleasure to meet you." The man bowed slightly. "Now, I have come to speak with you of passage back to my home."
Will's brow furrowed slightly. "This ship provides passage to the Land of the Dead for those who die at sea. If you are here, I can only assume you've died, therefore, you have no reason to return to the land of the living."
"Ah. Well, is it not tradition that one is given the option of joining the crew of the Flying Dutchman for a period of time before going on?"
Another nod. "Well, then, Captain Tanner, I wish to join your crew."
Waking suddenly, Will sat straight up, nearly banging his head on low-hanging tree branch. The memory of that day came flooding back to him, the enormity of the situation finally dawning on him. That man, that unsettling presence who had been with his crew for such a short time, had somehow escaped. And now he was haunting who knows how many captains' lives.
"Will? What's wrong?"
He looked down to see Elizabeth propped up on an elbow, rubbing at her eyes sleepily. The sadness of losing her that he had felt in the dream still remained, and he eased back down to lean on an elbow and pulled her close. Still sleepy, she snuggled into his shoulder, eyes drooping lazily.
"I had a dream about something that happened back on the Dutchman," he said softly.
Her eyebrows knit together and she looked up at him, concerned. "Something bad?"
"Yes and no. It wasn't a nightmare, no, but I see now where it is most definitely something bad." He blew out a long breath. "Very, very bad."
Now it was Elizabeth who sat straight up. "What was it?"
He hesitated momentarily before continuing. "It was Commodore Kovalsky. Ivan."
"What do you mean?"
Another pause. Then, "I've met him before."
Even in the partial darkness of the early morning he could see her eyes widen in shock. "Where?" she breathed, astounded.
"On the Dutchman."
"But how? Only those who die at sea board it, and he seems to be quite alive. I don't understand."
"We had arrived at the Land of the Dead, and the rowboats were starting to take the passengers to shore. I was standing at the wheel, and I sensed someone behind me. I turned around, and there he was, looking very similar to how he looks now. He introduced himself as Ivan Kovalsky, and asked about passage back to the land of the living. I explained, as I often did, that there was no place for him there anymore, and that this was where he belonged, so he asked to join my crew. I feel like an idiot for not remembering all this sooner. I'm just now realizing that after a couple of trips, I never saw him again."
They sat in silence for nigh onto a minute before Elizabeth spoke up again. "So you believe that this is the same man, and that he is not truly alive?"
His slightly unfocused eyes remained on the dirt as he nodded.
"So somehow he isn't alive, but isn't truly dead." Then, in an attempt to add a touch of humor to the situation, she added, "This seems entirely too familiar, doesn't it?"
He smiled softly, then cocked his head to the side slightly and said, "I'm sure if I could just find a way to contact Maccus, I could deal with him." Maccus had taken over the Flying Dutchman upon Will's return home. With the mutilating effects of Davy Jones' cruelty gone, he actually looked quite like Will. "He joined the crew- he took a pledge. I may never have used the Black Spot, but it is possible for the captain to do."
"Well, I suppose we'd best tell the others," Elizabeth murmured.
Will's only response was an unintelligible, noncommittal sound.
She laughed quietly. "What's that?"
He sighed. "What about Jacob?"
She bit her lip, hating keeping Anya's secret from him. "What about him?"
"I- can we trust him?"
She smiled softly. "Yes."
"You know this from your conversation earlier, I assume."
Will made no response to this.
She let out a small sigh. "Will- I don't know if it's something Jacob would want me to tell you. But I believe you should know. You see…" she trailed off, nervous about telling Anya's secret to another.
"Well, quite simply put, Jacob isn't a boy, but a teenage girl. Her name is Anya. I won't say any more, but she is trustworthy and well worth her salt."
There was silence for a few tense moments before Will spoke again. "Really?"
"I would never lie to you, Will. Never again." She reached up to rest her hand gently on his cheek.
"I know," he breathed. "I just have difficulty wrapping my mind around this." He chuckled nervously.
"It makes sense, though, if you think about it."
He thought of the strange actions he had seen from the boy- no, the girl- recently: time spent watching Elizabeth, insisting to her that she would gladly help if she felt ill. Then, of course, there was the ever-present hat. "It does," he admitted. "Unfortunately, it would also have made sense if 'Jacob' had come to fancy you," he said wryly.
"It makes sense, though, if you think about it," he remarked, eyes twinkling.
Shaking her head fondly, she stood up. "Let's go tell the others, shall we?"
Sarah and Kristie knelt together on the slimy wood floor of their cell, struggling with a loose floorboard. Their fingers ached and were rubbed raw from trying to uproot it, but it was the only escape route they could come up with, so they persevered in spite of the pain. In the past ten minutes, it had moved upwards a grand total of about three inches. Heaving an exhausted sigh, Sarah rocked back on her heels. Kristie reached forwards and gently rapped on the floor once, twice, three times.
Down the corridor, Robert's face appeared in the corner of his cell. They had discovered a few hours ago to be about five cells apart, but still able to hear each other and see each other if they stood in just the right spot. Luckily, the boy guarding them had fallen asleep, so they could communicate via a crude sign language of sorts. Sarah mimed pulling up a floor board, then silently asked how far up his had come. He glanced back at the floor beside him, measuring with his fingers, then holding up his hand for her to see. From here it looked to be about four inches. Hating to be outdone by her brother, Kristie rolled her eyes in a look of near disgust as she held up the measurement from the board in their cell. Despite the gravity of the situation, both Sarah and Robert grinned at their friend. Then the sleeping guard stirred as a loud snore escaped him, and the three quickly returned to work.
He spoke of seeing Ivan on the Flying Dutchman, of how he joined the crew, of how he had died at sea and sought a way to return. Anya could not believe it. Ivan had died? She was torn between relief, confusion and heartbreak. Her eyes welled with tears, though she could not quite figure out why. True, they had been close once, but that was years ago. And, like Will had pointed out, he certainly didn't seem completely dead. But how was that possible? Her stomach began to ache from the overwhelming barrage of thoughts and emotions.
As she doused the fire, Elizabeth sidled up next to her, packing spare provisions into a sack. "I had to tell Will," she murmured.
Her eyes widened. "What?"
"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I had to explain that we could trust you."
"By telling him I had lied about my identity, you got him to trust me?" Anya bit her lip. Surely he would never believe a word she said again.
"Anya- when I was younger, I did the same, for similar reasons, I can only assume. I explained as much as I could without giving away much, and he understands. If you were to tell everyone who you were, I'm sure they would all accept you nonetheless."
At that moment, Robin strode over. Addressing Elizabeth, he announced, "Captain Turner asked me to send you over. He's on the beach. He says it's important, but we can't panic. I'd hurry- it sounds bad."
As Elizabeth hurried off, he looked over to Anya, who still stood there holding the empty water jug. "Are you all right?" he asked quietly.
She glanced briefly around. Everyone was packed up and now sat around Jack's map and compass as he worked on a new course. When she was sure no one was watching, she replied, "I don't know yet."
He nodded, understanding what she meant. "You- you knew him pretty well, didn't you?"
She smiled sadly, glancing down at her shoes. "Yes."
He nodded again, then hesitated before saying almost inaudibly, "You loved him."
She was somewhat taken aback by this question. "Well, yes," she said. "Why?"
If she wasn't mistaken, he looked almost hurt.
"What's wrong?" Had he been offended by the fact that she'd loved Ivan? She hated to think that she'd hurt him somehow.
He quickly wiped the sad expression off his face in an attempt to look nonchalant. "Nothing," he said. "I was just curious, that's all." He looked around, as if searching for something to distract him. Upon finding such a thing, he said quickly, "I'd better go sweep up our tracks here. We're probably fine, but you know how it is, better safe than sorry and all. Do excuse me?"
Her brow creased with concern at this. What had she done? "All right," she said hesitantly. She watched his back as he walked off to complete his task. Was he jealous? Surely not. Still, she wondered.
As he continued to brush away the footprints covering the clearing, she walked over to him. Upon arriving next to him, she tapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Robin?"
He glanced up at her, then looked back down quickly. "Yes?"
"Why do you seem upset?"
He bit his lip. "I don't know, I just thought maybe there was… I don't know, something special between us." His ears turned pink. "Stupid, I know."
"Why is it stupid?"
"Well, you just said you love Ivan," he pointed out, "something I guess I should've assumed."
Now realizing the reason behind his actions, she smiled. "Robin."
"He's my brother."
Ivan Kovalsky leaned against a pillar, eyes glimmering as he watched the progress on his new ship. The Black Pearl, hailed as the fastest ship ever to sail the ocean, was now his. Oh, Jack Sparrow. You're such a fool. Not that I mind, of course. He smirked. This had been much easier than expected. He glanced down at the cup of tea in his hand, and his fist clenched. In a sudden burst of anger, he hurled the china cup against the wall of the cave. His dark eyes burned fiercely. He would have his revenge. He had been destroyed to spite his father, then he made a trade with his killer to be allowed back onto the sea after his death. The rest of his plan was now unfolding quite nicely, an intricately and expertly woven web of deception. When he was young and naïve, he had often played in this cave with his siblings, seeing the world in their imagination. The universe had seemed like a beautiful place then. Oh, how things had changed. The more he actually saw of the world, the less he liked it. As a child on this beach, he had had big dreams, big plans. And what had they brought him? Loneliness, hatred, death. But now he had the chance to rise to power, to overcome that which had once destroyed him. With one final, satisfied look at the broken china on the rocks, he spun on his booted heel and stalked off