Site Home

 

   

 

 

Commencement

by Linaelyn

 

Fandom: PoTC    Rating: G    Pairing: Anamaria & Jack    Full Header

 


The slightly swaying table was arrayed with tankards and bottles. Cards were thrown in a desultory fashion. Belowdecks the heat was like sitting in an oven, but it was no better above, and the rum was handier in the great cabin. The oppressive heat held the smoke from Marty's pipe at a level just above their heads. Anamaria, being seated on the tallest stool, had to slouch to keep her eyes from smarting in the acrid layer; she didn't complain because she rather liked the sweetish, herbal scent and even better, it took the edge off Marty's temper.

Gibbs threw down a Queen of diamonds. "Can't fault my luck this night," he chortled. "Unless you can beat that?"

Anamaria merely shook her head and dropped her four of clubs on the pile, muttering an oath.

"Eight bells! Change the watch!" cried Cotton's parrot.

Jack declared, "Cotton's right. It's time to settle debts and find a hammock. Or share one, depending." But the corner of his mouth barely quirked. It was too bloody hot to engage in anything so vigorous as flirtatious teasing. The captain had merely exercised his drinking arm this night and not been part of the gambling, arguing he needed to save his strength for "piracy and scalawaggery"; Gibbs suspected it was on account of that Jack was stony broke at the moment.

Anamaria and Marty each shoved a few final coins in the direction of Gibbs and Cotton's pile of loot. Marty's words were a little slurred as he said, "I'll be taking that back from you next time. Just you wait."

"Brace the fo'ard yards!" screamed Cotton's parrot. It wasn't always clear what Cotton meant when the parrot spoke, but mostly folks just heard what they wanted to hear anywise, so it mattered not much. Everyone shuffled off to find their slumber, except Anamaria, who lingered at the table.

From his pocket, Jack thumbed a large, round copper bossed with the faces of William and Mary. He tossed it onto Anamaria's pile, where it fell with a resounding chink.

"Penny or no, my thoughts ain't for sale this night, Captain."

"Not even if I pay in advance? Pity. I had something I was wondering in regards to yourself."

"I've no reason to be telling you my secrets. Not when you still owe me."

"That's exactly what I wanted to ask your opinion on." Jack took another slug straight from the bottle. "What sort of ship was it you were hoping I might provide you with? Short of asking for the Black Pearl back again, of course."

"Don't torment me, Jack. I'm in no mood."

"I'm deadly serious, Anamaria. My sources tell me there's inbound a small convoy of Spaniards passing over the North Riff in two days time. We can run at them with the guns out and blazing and the black aloft. We'll drive one onto Silver Bank at ebb tide, I'll take the plunder, and when the water rises, you can keep the ship I owe you. What say you?"

Anamaria shook her head. "Won't they be heavily armed? At present we're low on shot and powder both. We can't stand a long firefight."

"We'll bluff them," Jack whispered, leaning in as if imparting knowledge of a great conspiracy. "Use all our powder up in the first few minutes of engagement. Besides, they'll flee in terror as soon as they see our sails. Barbossa's seen to that for us. We're still the fastest ship in these waters." Jack sat back and grinned, "I'll sweeten the bargain for you. You may take with you any three volunteers from my crew, saving only my officers. How's that for generous, eh? All I need from you are these two things: a solemn oath that you'll never turn your guns on me and my crew, and your agreement that this discharges my debt to you, for owing you one ship to replace the Jolly Mon."

Anamaria sat quietly contemplating. It was exactly what she'd been asking for, for months. Why now? Why had Jack never offered to do this before?

"So, I ask again." Jack's voice was low and earnest. "What say you? A ketch or a sloop? I don't know if there will be anything as large as a barque in the convoy, but certainly we can manage to get you as much as a brigantine."

"Are you so eager to be rid of me, Jack?"

"Aye, that I am." Jack's eyes betrayed nothing.

"Why?"

"I think you know."

"Pretend I don't. Pretend I've never known."

"With you aboard, I'm... " Jack stood and walked to the broad hull, and thrust out an arm for support. The wood of the Black Pearl was warm beneath his hand. Of course it was, so was everything else. This infernal heat soaked into everything. "What it really comes down to is I've taught you enough. You're ready to be captain yourself. I can't hold you here any longer. Not unless I want to risk mutiny. I'll never allow that to happen again."

"I see." Ana waited a little longer, just in case Jack managed to find his courage in the bottle he still clutched in his hand.

He took another prodigious swallow, but no more explanation was forthcoming.

"I'll take a sloop, then. Gaff-rigged if we can find it. Easier to handle when I'm short on crew. I can take a bigger ship after I've established my reputation as captain."

Though she couldn't see it, she thought she heard Jack smile.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The smoke was clearing as the rest of the convoy showed a good pair of heels to the scene of the conflict. The battle hadn't quite been managed without a shot fired, but since only the smallest ship had been cut out of the convoy, the rest had considered themselves lucky. More than half of the sloop's Spanish crew had deserted to swim for the fleeing fleet, and it had been a simple task to "encourage" the remaining Spaniards that the main chance was to be found in making themselves scarce via the sloop's small boat.

Jack did have a knack for taking plunder without killing anyone. Anamaria wondered if she should seek to emulate him in this. Maman would have appproved, for it was one of those things she had often mentioned about Jack.

The little ship was a lovely thing, sleek and built for speed, and her name was Rainha das Estrelas which Marty said wasn't Spanish but rather Portugee. She'd consulted Marty on which crew members to take with her and settled on Moises and Ladbroc and eventually, Duncan; Tearloch turned down her offer. Still, it was gratifying that anyone chose to leave the notorious Pearl for a smaller, poorly-gunned ship with a less-experienced captain. She wondered if Jack had offered the crew any additional "incentive" on the sly.

Not likely. But not impossible, either. He was eager to be rid of her, but he also seemed to be genuinely concerned that her ship be sound and seaworthy. Could it be he actually cared?

Anamaria stood at the tiller, a captain on the sea once more. From the Pearl's quarterdeck, Jack waved his tricorne dramatically as they parted.

She whispered, "Goodbye, Papa."
 

 

Site Home

Linaelyn's Page

   

 

 
 
Comments (feedback) are the life-blood of the fanfic loop.  Writers love to hear from their readers, be it a simple "I read your story and liked (or didn't like) it." or detailed constructive criticism (con crit). Hearing what you, the reader, thinks about a story helps a writer improve and helps to assure that future stories are ones you will want to read.
 
[FrontPage Save Results Component]

Name and email are optional, but if you provide an email address, I will reply:

Name
E-mail

Enter your comments in the space provided below: