"You're pulling too hard!"
"You're not pulling hard enough!"
"Where's the Commodore?" Gibbs asked.
"He fell behind," Jack replied.
"My prayers be with him," Gibbs said grimly. Then, brightening, he added, "Well, best not wallow in our grief. The bright side is: you're back. And made it off free and clear..." At that moment, the Flying Dutchman appeared out of the water right beside the Pearl.
"You just had to say that," I said, shaking my head.
"Lord almighty. Deliver us," said Gibbs, looking horrified.
"I'll handle this, mate," Jack said casually. Grabbing his jar of dirt, he strutted across the deck. "Oy! Fishface! Lose something? Hey! Ooop!" He fell down the stairs. Everyone winced. "Still got it!" He held up the jar triumphantly, before getting back to his feet.
"Jack," I said, running after him.
Jack shushed me and continued talking to Jones. "Come to negotiate, eh, you slimy git? Look what I got! I got a jar of di-irt, I got a jar of di-irt, and guess what's inside it!" He was grinning broadly and it lit up his whole face. It was adorable.
"Jack! It's not in the jar," I said, pulling the heart out of my vest. I held it up high. "Hello, hi, Mr. Jones, sir? I believe this bad boy is yours."
Everyone looked shocked. Davy had just about gone apoplectic with rage, spluttering more water than words. "My-you-wench, you'll give that back if you know what's good for you! I'll send the lot of you to the depths!"
"Ah, there's the rub," I said, having way too much fun with this. "If we get hurt, so does Mr. Ventricles here!"
Jack grabbed my arm. "What are you doing?" he hissed.
"Excuse us for a moment," I called, and then Jack and I turned aside. "Norrington tried to steal the heart," I told Jack in a low voice, "and I stopped him." I held out the heart and Jack took it. We turned around to face Jones again and Jack held up the heart.
"Got your heart! Hahaha!"
Scowling, Davy Jones turned around and said something to his crew. The Flying Dutchman turned and started sailing in the opposite direction.
"Well!" said Jack. "That was easier than I thought it'd be."
"Is that it?" I said. "Are you safe now?"
The ship jarred; Jack wobbled and I stumbled over, bonking into him.
"Must've hit a reef!" someone yelled.
"No, it's not a reef!" said Will. "Get away from the rail!"
Jack went down the stairs, pulling me along behind him. "Here, hold this for a moment, would you?" he said, handing me the heart. Surreptitiously, he started getting one of the longboats ready. "Come on."
"Into the boat," he ordered.
"We can't leave them!"
"We can try. Either you're getting in yourself or I'm going to pick you up and put you in it, it's your choice." The boat went over the side, and Jack started climbing down toward it. With a sigh, I followed him.
"This is a waste of time," I said. "I know you're not gonna abandon everyone."
"And yet here we are," Jack replied, picking up the oars.
"How do you expect us to escape the kraken in a rowboat, anyway?"
"It certainly won't improve the situation if you keep blathering on instead of helping me row." I took one of the oars and started helping, but I stared at him. Intensely, without blinking. He looked uncomfortable. "Stop that." Jack tried to shift so that he could look somewhere other than me, and his gaze seemed to fall on the Pearl, getting swarmed by tentacles. He sighed.
And so we went back to the ship, just in time for Jack to pick up the rifle Elizabeth dropped and shoot the net full of powder and rum barrels. It exploded, burning big chunks out of the kraken's tentacles, which released the Pearl and sunk back into the water.
"Did we kill it?" said Marty.
"No," Gibbs said, "we just made it angry. We're not out of this yet." To Jack he said, "Captain! Orders?"
"Abandon ship. Into the longboat."
"Jack! The Pearl!"
"She's only a ship, mate," Jack said, but he looked despondent. I grabbed his hand in what I hoped was a comforting way.
"He's right, we have to head for land," Elizabeth agreed.
"S' a lot o' open wa'er," said Pintel doubtfully.
"That's a lot o' wa'er," Ragetti echoed.
"We have to try," said Will. "We can get away as it takes down the Pearl."
"Abandon ship. Abandon ship or abandon hope!" Gibbs declared, erring a little on the side of melodrama, if you ask me.
Jack took his hand out of mine. "You go on, love, I...need a minute."
I nodded. And then I remembered. "Shit! I almost forgot my fiddle." I'd left it below when we'd gone ashore earlier. I made a mad dash for it, hoping they wouldn't leave without me.
When I came back, Liz was standing very close to Jack, and I realized with horror that they were kissing. No! This was the exact opposite of what I wanted to be happening! "No!" I shouted. Liz turned around, startled. Now I could see that she'd chained Jack to the mast and the horror turned to outright panic.
"Undo it! Undo the thing!" I demanded, shaking her.
"No," she said coldly. I pushed her aside and grabbed the manacle around Jack's wrist.
"I'll get you out of this," I told Jack, although my hands were shaking a little, "just-how do I unlock th-"
I felt a sharp pain at the back of my head and then nothingness.
"Try slapping her!"
Someone slapped me. It stung. "Ow! I'm awake, I'm awake! Geez." I opened my eyes to see Ragetti and Marty leaning over me. Everybody-me, them, Will, Liz, Gibbs, Pintel, and Cotton-were squeezed in a longboat.
"Sorry," said Ragetti.
"'S okay," I said. The back of my head hurt way more than my cheek did. Gingerly, I felt around for the spot, but it was just sore, not bleeding or anything. Phew. "Tell me we didn't leave Jack behind and this is all a bad dream."
"We didn't leave Jack be'ind, an' this is all a bad dream," Ragetti said obediently.
Look on the bright side, I told myself. At least things can't get any-
"Criminy," said Pintel, squinting at something in the distance. "Ain't that Beckett's ship?"
"Oh no," I said. Of course it could get worse. It could always get worse. "Norrington must have told him that we have the heart!"
By then, Will and Liz and Gibbs had seen the Endeavor, too. With the ship fast approaching, we had no way of getting away, and there was nothing we could do but wait. When the Endeavor was within speaking distance, Beckett came out to the rail to address us. "Ah, isn't this a pitiful-looking little group?" he said. It was an insult in a thin coat of feigned sympathy. "No need to trouble you further at this time. The heart, if you please."
Everyone looked at me. I shook my head. "No."
"Allow me to rephrase that," said Beckett, with the slightest of fake smiles. "Hand over the heart and perhaps I won't blow your little boat into driftwood."
I knew Beckett getting his hands on the heart was a Really Bad Thing, but avoiding a fiery exploding death seemed the more pressing matter. "You promise you won't hurt us?"
"I promise. You'll be free to go on your merry way." And, true to his word, as soon as he had the heart, the Endeavor left. It felt bizarre that I managed to come out completely unscathed, as if I had made a deal with a velociraptor without getting hurt.
The boat drifted further along, and the trees became thicker. There were lots of people standing in the water, holding lit candles and looking sad. Many of them were crying. I felt my own eyes prickle. I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry, I'm not I'm not...
When we gathered inside Tia's house, there was a tense and gloomy silence. I longed to say something like, hey, it's totally Elizabeth's fault that Jack is dead right now! But I didn't know how to bring it up. I just stared at the floor, my face wet with tears.
Tia came out with a tray of mugs, offering them to each of us, starting with Liz. "Against the cold...and the sorrow," Tia said. Liz reluctantly took one. Moving on to Will, Tia said, "It's a shame. I know you're thinking that with the Pearl, you coulda captured the devil and set free your father's soul."
"Doesn't matter now," said Will. "The Pearl's gone. Along with its captain."
"Aye," said Gibbs, "and already the world seems a bit less bright. He fooled us all right to the end, but I guess that honest streak finally won out. To-"
"But it wasn't his honest streak!" I blurted. "It was Elizabeth! She chained him to the mast!"
"Mother's love," Gibbs said, looking at Liz like he couldn't believe it. Pintel and Ragetti, who had both started crying, suddenly started giving Liz dirty looks. Cotton's parrot squawked, "Raaawk! Hornswoggle!"
"Elizabeth?" said Will. She was shaking, looking around shiftily.
"She's lying," said Liz, not looking at me. "You fainted! You're making it up!"
"She kissed him so that he'd be distracted," I said furiously, "then she cuffed him, and then she bashed me over the head so I wouldn't say anything! She's a stinking murderer! Guys, back me up, didn't any of you see them kissing?"
"I...I did," Will admitted. He looked at Elizabeth with an expression like a hurt puppy. "I didn't want to believe my eyes..."
"Hah!" I said, leaping up in triumph and pointing at Elizabeth. "Just been proven guilty by the guilt-prover!"
"I only did what needed to be done to save us all!" Liz protested, looking at Will, then me, then around at everyone. "I feel terrible!"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, killing must be so hard. In honor of your plight, I shall play a song on the world's smallest violin." Holding up one hand, I rubbed my thumb and index finger together.
"You're hardly guiltless yourself. You do realize now that Beckett has the heart, he controls everything-he'll be executing dozens, hundreds of people?"
"I was the one trying to save our skins! Including Jack's! If it wasn't for me Norrington would have-ugh, why am I explaining myself? You got a problem? What's your problem?" I demanded, glaring at her.
"It's five feet tall and smells like tree sap," she said, glaring back at me.
"I've had it with you! Let's go! Outside!"
"I'm not going to fight you just for the sake of fighting," said Elizabeth, "that's barbaric!"
I slapped her-not hard, but enough to get the message across. I would have done it with a glove, but I didn't have any. The non-glove slap was effective enough, though. Liz became furious and grabbed the hilt of her sword. "All right, fine! You want to fight, we'll fight."
We went into the forest surrounding Tia Dalma's house and found a clearing among some trees. Elizabeth stood a few paces away from me as we drew our swords.
Clang, clang, clang! Liz and I began fighting. My forehead prickled with sweat as I tried to keep up. Liz was, without question, the better swordsman, and I was pretty sure she was trying to kill me. I remembered Jack told me when he was giving me fencing pointers. "When you're pitted against someone who's a better fighter than you are-and you'll find that happens a lot-you've got to be cleverer than them," he had said. "Play dirty. Antagonize them, if you can-the angrier they get, the easier it is to outsmart 'em."
"Gonna kill me, Lizzie?" I yelled as I blocked one of her attacks. "Two murders in one day - you're on a roll!"
Liz scowled. "I-" Clang. "Am not-" Clang. "A murderer! I'm a good person!"
"You say that, but I guess you're not the sort for practicing what you preach, huh? Honor, decency, doing the right thing...Tricking someone into their death kinda goes against all that, doncha think?"
"Shut up!" Liz shouted. "I try to do the right thing. I'm not infallible, I know that, but I always try to do something. What do you do? Nothing. You're a nuisance, you just get in the way! You're useless!"
That was something I'd been thinking a lot myself, but I wasn't going to let her know that."I'm useful! And I manage it without betraying people!"
Liz had me cornered, my back up against a cluster of trees. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
I grabbed her by the shirt and smooched her right on the mouth. She just about dropped her sword, she was so shocked. I took this opportunity to kick her in the shins, and I ran away, cackling.
By the time Liz came looking for me, I had climbed one of the trees. I waited for her to be directly beneath me and then I dropped onto her shoulders. She screamed and slammed me against a tree. I put my hands around her neck and started squeezing. Choking and gagging, Liz slammed me against a tree again. I fell off her onto the ground, groaning in pain. Liz sank to her knees, gasping and massaging her throat.
"Do you..." I panted, "do you wanna just call it a draw?"
Liz nodded fervently. She grabbed my hand, helping me into a sitting position. "I'm sorry," she whispered, her voice raspy, "I...I really am. I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought it was the only way..."
"I believe you," I said. "I'm sorry I tried to strangle you and stuff."
"I deserved it," said Liz. "I know you care for Jack. I don't know what I'd do to someone if they killed Will."
"We have enough jerks trying to kill us," I declared. "I think it would be better for everyone if we could just get along."
"I agree entirely," said Liz. I held out my hand and she shook it.
We went back inside the shack as if nothing had happened. "So!" I said. "Jack can't really be gone forever, right? We can get him back. Right?"
"Depends," said Tia, smiling slyly. "What...would you do? Any of you? Hmm? Would you sail to the ends of the earth and beyond...to fetch back witty Jack and him precious Pearl?"
"Indubitably," I said without hesitation.
"Aye," said Gibbs, and Pintel, and Ragetti, and Cotton's parrot.
"Yes," said Elizabeth.
"Aye," Will said.
"Alright," said Tia. "But if you're gonna brave the weird and haunted shores at world's end, then...you will need a captain who knows those waters."
Barbossa came down the stairs.
"What," I said flatly.
"So tell me," he said. "What's become of my ship?" Smiling broadly, he bit into an apple, and the frothy juice dribbled down his chin. Gross.
"Did you not hear, like, the entire conversation we've had?" I said.
"Ah, Miss Brown," said Barbossa. "How is it that nobody's shot you yet?"
end of part two