you're tellin' me you was Navy, Jack? Go on, pull the other one."
Gibbs leaned back on the bench and took another slug from his tankard. The
ambience wasn't what you'd call pleasant in this dingy, odorous
establishment, but the drink was cheap and the prying questions were few.
"No, honestly! I was hired on by the scallawags to fight against the
Spanish," Jack waved a langorous hand in the candlelight. "I was naught but
a lad, I'd done a bit with the whalers up and down the coast at
Narragansett, and knew my way 'round a splice. When the winter wind blew
harsh and my belly was bare bones, I accepted the bluecoats' offer of warm
hammock and warmer grub."
"I'd never have credited it," Gibbs shook his head. "You don't seem much the
type, Captain. Trading freedom for security?"
"Ah, it was a hard lesson learned, Josh. I've my share of marks from the
"As do we all, Jack," Gibbs replied. "As do we all."
"Yes, but..." Sparrow's eye took on a faraway look. Gibbs tossed a copper
coin on the trestle between them, and the clang startled him from his
"Penny for your thoughts?"
"Keep your coin, mate." Jack nudged the penny with his empty mug. "I'm mum
on this one."
"How's if I spend it on another round, will ye loosen yer tongue then,
Jack looked at Josh in surprise. It wasn't often that this sailor would
stand a round for anyone, let alone his own Captain. "No promises."
Many a coin was passed to the barkeep as the night wore on. Many a word was
spoken, but none of those days when Jack was a tyro on the decks of a barky.
Gibbs lay a meaty hand on Sparrow's leg, as they slumped behind the the
table together, leaning on one another in their intoxicated stupor. "Tell
me, now, honest fer true. Ye loved the lash, di'n't ye, Jack?"
Sparrow choked on his drink.
"S'all stand-up by my lights, y'know," Gibbs slurred. "I've seen plenty
o'lads what's gotten a bit of wood from a beatin' before the crew."
"I'm sure I have no idea to what you refer." Jack deadpanned.
Josh cocked an eyebrow and waited. Jack said nothing more.
"Suit y'rself. If'n ye ever?" Gibbs smirked, "I'm here."
Jack thought back to the last man to make such an offer. Handsome,
articulate, brilliant... Hector Barbossa was every captain's dream of the
perfect First Mate. A crafty seaman and canny gunner in a battle. A wild
lover in the cot.
Jack would never trust anyone to bind and lash him again.
"Trading freedom for security again..." Gibbs mumbled under his breath.
"Aye," Jack whispered back.
Gibbs clapped him on the shoulder and grinned. "I know! Let's go see if'n we
can spy on Ana an' Marty, eh Jack? C'mon!" Pulling the captain to his
unsteady feet, they staggered, laughing, towards the back rooms of the inn.
Perhaps... someday... thought Jack.