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Forsaking All Others

by Melusina


Fandom: PoTC    Rating: PG-13    Pairing: Jack&Bootstrap, Jack/Black Pearl    Full Header


It's daft to be jealous of a ship. A ship can't guard a man's back or sit up all night with him drinking and spinning tales. A ship knows no loyalty; she's a fickle bitch, yielding to any man strong enough to take her. A ship, no matter how gracefully she responds to a hand at the helm, is not alive. Bill Turner knew that, yet he couldn't help resenting the Black Pearl.

Jack had only been captain of the Pearl a few months, and his fondness for the ship bordered on the ridiculous. He claimed he could hear her whispering to him, telling him which way to steer, warning him of shallows and guiding him to prizes. Jack could be peculiar about things like that. He was similarly obsessed with a broken compass he'd won in a dice game, which he swore pointed the way to a fortune in Spanish gold.

Bill and Jack had been sailing together since they were little more than boys. They'd turned pirate together, shivered and sweated together through a fever that had killed half their shipmates, fought and whored and stole together more times than they could count. Jack had killed his first man saving Bill's life. There was a six-inch long scar on Bill's forearm from a jealous husband who'd been chasing Jack. Bill had a wife in England, but that had nothing to do with what passed between him and Jack. Where Jack led, Bill followed.

When Jack met a voodoo woman in Hispaniola and got some fool idea of bespelling the ship, Bill reluctantly agreed to help, despite the uneasiness that crept up his spine. Piracy was one thing, sorcery was quite another. Bill had no truck with witchcraft. But he couldn't let Jack down. Besides, it most likely wouldn't work anyway. Probably the worst that would happen was Bill would miss out on the fun the rest of the crew were having on the shore, and Jack would get drunk and doleful and go on about his beautiful ship.


"Did you get it?" Jack's voice was hushed, but his eyes blazed with feverish excitement.

Something about the desperate eagerness in those eyes made Bill reconsider what they were about to do. He stopped, balanced on the rail, and thought about throwing the sack he carried over the side. Then Jack grasped his arm and hauled him onto the ship.

Bill squashed his doubts. "Yep, just like you asked."

"Well, then, no time like the present, eh? Let's get started." Jack opened the rum and poured out a liberal helping on the deck. He took a swig himself and passed the bottle to Bill. Bill upturned the bottle and drank deeply. Chances were good he'd need a little Dutch courage tonight.

Jack laughed, a little self-consciously, and called out, "Spirits of the water, witness my vow," then took the bottle back and emptied it into the dark water below. It seemed to Bill that a fog was rolling in and the night suddenly turned cold.

Jack clambered forward and laid his hands on the figurehead that jutted from the bow. He reached into the pouch at his waist and threw a handful of some foul-smelling powder into the air. It shimmered in the flickering lantern light before settling on both Jack and the figurehead, coating them in a fine, grey dust. When Jack spoke, his voice was solemn and defiant, dispelling Bill's doubts that this might be nothing more than an elaborate joke. "I, Jack Sparrow, take the Black Pearl to wife."

The wind picked up, and whispered through the sails. It sounded eerily like a human voice, and Bill shuddered. Jack smiled, gold teeth flashing. "Now the rooster, Bill."

Bill silently handed him the bag. He'd hunted high and low for the black rooster Jack had requested, inspecting each candidate to find one that was entirely black, with no feathers of any other color. For his trouble, he'd suffered a nasty scratch on his hand, where the cock had caught him with its spurs.

When Jack untied the loop of string and reached in, the rooster crowed loudly. Jack swiftly wrung its neck, twisting the head clean from the body. Blood gushed out, covering the figurehead. The metallic smell of death filled the air.

There was a weird, savage cry then, and the fog grew thicker. The lanterns guttered and blew out, and Bill strained to see what was happening in the shadows. A twittering sound, and tiny feet scurried across his boots, dragging long skinny tails behind them.

The ship rocked and groaned, and Jack muttered, "It's not enough. 'Course it's not, gotta be mine. I hear ya, darlin'"

Alarmed by Jack's tone, Bill took a step towards him. Something crunched under Bill's boots, and as his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he could see gleaming cockroaches carpeting the deck. Bill's stomach squirmed and he held his ground.

Jack reached into his boot and pulled out his knife. In a frenzied motion, he sliced it down the inside of his arm, once, twice, three times. The smell of blood grew stronger.

Bill thought he heard music blowing in the wind - a minor chord, winding its way around the ship, catching up the wooden creaks and rustling sails and mixing them into the melody. Jack was screaming, and Bill could not tell if it was from pain or pleasure, or both. This too seemed part of the strange music.

Bill shouted, "Jack?"

The ship pitched and Bill fell to his hands and knees. He felt things slithering and creeping around his body, felt the deck shaking and shivering under his hands like something alive, and, although he hadn't been in a church since his own wedding day, he began to pray under his breath, "Our Father, who art in heaven-"

The Pearl pitched again, and the sails snapped. Bill thought perhaps this was as good a time as any to shut up. Jack's caterwauling reached an ecstatic pitch, and then ended with a final drawn out moan.

Lightning flashed and rain began to pour down on the deck. As quickly as it had come, the fog disappeared, taking with it the creatures who had slipped out of the nooks and crannies of the ship. Bill stood, shakily, and made his way to Jack.

Jack rolled over onto his back, a sated, triumphant expression on his face. "Aye, I think she'll have me." His sleeve was torn to shreds and blood still oozed out of the cuts on his arm. The stains on his breeches suggested something perverse that Bill didn't like to think on.

This was perilously close to blasphemy and Bill regretted that he'd had any part of it. He wondered if he'd ever really known Jack, if there was any way to trust or understand a man who would do such a thing.

Grudgingly, Bill offered Jack his hand -- only just managing not to recoil in disgust -- and pulled him to his feet. In Jack's cabin, they dried off and Bill bandaged Jack's arm. They had another drink to take off the chill, but there was none of the usual banter and small talk. Jack was dazed, smiling to himself and touching the hull obsessively. Occasionally, he cocked his head as if he were listening to something Bill couldn't hear.

Bill too was turned inward, reflecting on what he'd seen that night, trying to make sense of his chaotic impressions and Jack's disturbing behavior. He thought of his wife and his young son. Suddenly he couldn't bear the thought of spending the night on the ship, alone with Jack. Bill drained his cup hastily and stammered out some excuse to go ashore. Jack barely seemed to notice Bill was leaving, so enamored was he of his new bride.


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