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Never Say Die
10. Riding the Wave
Full headers in Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Rodent owns 'em. We be pirates
Summary: Eternity comes with ramifications.
The cave shook violently, the winds sinking to a sinister rumble behind them. Before them lay a leaden shore, foaming on a greenish sea that quivered like a bubble about to burst. Jack felt like he was stuck in a witchball, where one dove to reach land and shores within seas were quite the normal course of events. He slowed for a moment to marvel at it, another completely improbable defiance of any sensible laws of physics. He was certain that sensible laws and he just didn't get along on principle. James grabbed Jack's arm as he rushed past, stumbling towards the very edge of the rocks. The scuff marks of their swords were there, but that was the only thing that remained the same: the stone was crumbling, the sea roaring; angry. Barbossa stared and turned on his heel, the echo of his laughter broken by tumbling rocks. "If there be no chance of getting out, mayhap it is time to be getting further in." James took off after him. "We cannot let him go back. He will die, and if he doesn't, a lot of other people will." "Between the devil an' the deep blue sea?" Jack grinned. Except that the sea was green, and it was precisely the same colour as James' eyes. He picked up a fist-sized rock and took aim, neatly dropping Barbossa to the cave floor. Grumbling under his breath, he dodged a hail of stones to retrieve their errant third party. "Bloody pain in my arse! James, we can't get far like this!" His voice was raised against the wind. The luring song was gone, replaced by the crash of rocks falling, nearly as well-aimed as Jack's throw. "We have to take our chance with the sea. I have no wish to be stuck here for eternity. Least of all with you." The monkey jumped onto Barbossa's chest, chittering accusingly as they dragged his limp body towards the water. "Then why, pray tell, were you kissin' me?" Jack dropped Barbossa's arm in the surf. "To silence your yowling." James stepped into the water, until the currents grabbed him, violent now, slapping against his knees. "I think you owe me some kinda explanation. I mean, it's not the usual as rescues from giant bloody whirlygiggies go. Step in, pretty as ya please, grab hold an' snog? I missed that page or is it a Navy thing?" "SPARROW! Move. NOW!" Jack's eyes danced as the monkey began to whine. His lips quirked into a half-smile. "Wot? Calm down, luv." He fished into his boot and pulled out the long leather flask; certainly not the most elegant of repositories for deities, but safe from prying eyes and simian fingers. "Well, luv, as you say, 'tis time t' trust the sea." There was an audible hiccup in the wind. "You always know when to play de hand, doan you, tricky Jack?" Another boulder crashed down next to them and James tore his gaze away from the crab, shook off the urge to take it. "If you have favours to call in, Sparrow, now would be the time, before I have to carry another unconscious man!" "Opportune moment, an' all that?" The wind growned ominously. "Tia, luv. I'm good fer it, you know that. We're square, aye? An' you'll get us outta here?" The laughter shrieked. " Consider it gift to you. All sorts of gifts for Jack Sparrow dis day." The silver crab winked in his dirty palm, then tumbled, scuttling into the surf. Jack turned to James. "I believe she's still tipsy." "I pray she is not hungover." The wind and the laughter echoed as the surf ebbed and resurrected itself into two enormous watery hands, reaching around to cradle them, and an ink-stained grin floated in the leaden sky. "Jamie Norrin'ton, you surprise even me. Newly-woke an' you stride in and snatch forever with both hands... A bold, brave man to win da sea." Her chuckles thundered. "Win? I cannot yet be sure of victory. The battle is barely begun," James whispered, his voice swallowed by the waves. Within them, an arm's length before him, the crab floated, steady amidst the havoc. A mystery how it was not sucked down, not washed away. As though it waited for him, waited for him to gather up his courage. Bold and brave to win the sea. He laughed and reached out, the silvery shell smooth and cool in his hands, like the water that surrounded her. "We get cozy now, eh, Jamie boy?" Her giggle was warm in his ears and the dripping, transparent fingers closed them in a wet bubble. Jack inched closer, oblivious to the monkey clinging to his boot or Barbossa, sprawled at their feet. "Beg your pardon, Miss?" James held on to the crab as he would to the wheel in a storm. They surged and dove, down and away, and he gripped Jack's sleeve as they flew faster and faster through the waves until, in the distance, they could see the sunlight. Jack clung to his arm and grinned through the spray. Then his face changed. "I think we may—" They all thudded to the deck of the Calypso. "—land hard." The Calypso no longer spun within the currents. She lay calm, as though she waited for them. James pushed himself to his feet and stumbled to the shrouds, just as Barbossa sat up and snarled, "Sparrow, ya bloody little bilgerat! It's fer reasons like that I keep wantin' to kill you." He rubbed his head and staggered to the bow. The sails groaned and filled, the sky turning to molten steel. "Oh please, stop whining. Sparrow has been known to give headaches to harder men than yourself," James called from aloft. He slid down the backstay and stumbled to the wheel as the ship bucked. Jack scrambled towards the rigging when the wind howled and the wave that had begun deep within the hidden cavern crashed to the surface. A stray line whipped forward, tangling around him. "Bugger." The main yard snapped and Jack flew upward, the rope wound around his neck and pulling taut with a sickening crack. James was up in the rigging in a heartbeat, the wheel spinning forgotten, the rudder without a guide against the currents, swaying like... Jack. He swallowed down a rush of bile and climbed out on the footropes, untangling the halyard as he slowly eased Jack's limp body to the deck. The hemp ripped his palms as he slid down the stay. He knelt down, eyes fixed on the crooked angle of Jack's neck. Had he been wrong? Was his gift a different one, or taken from both of them as he had attempted to share it; not only the sanctuary destroyed, but also its secret? "Jack?" he whispered. Barbossa stood over them, his lips beginning to twitch. Trust Sparrow to hang himself. He stifled a laugh. "That was long overdue." James looked up, eyes hard and his face set tightly. "I'm glad you consider the noose amusing," he hissed, his hand on Jack's shoulder, shaking. For a long time, he had wanted to see this: now he merely wanted to look away and close his eyes. Jack twitched, his eyes flew open and he hissed through his teeth. "Ouch." He sat up and coaxed his head straight. "Wot?" James' hand tightened. "Impressive demonstration, I must say." His voice shook as much as he did. "Generous, even. But there was no need to hang yourself just so I could see you swing. I do believe I prefer the garden gate." Jack grinned. "Me too." He heard Barbossa's outraged snort and skittered away on his arse. "Sorry!" "You blasted weasel! I swear I'm gonna knock that gold outta yer gob." Barbossa took a swing at Jack, who was doing a fairly accurate impression of the monkey, skittering around the heaving deck on all fours. "Kiss o' life, indeed! Bloody pair o' mollyboys! An' how comes an upright law-abidin' soul like yerself t'be so infatuated with such sea spume as he?" Barbossa aimed a kick at Jack's retreating backside. "Wot's wrong, luv? Jealous? —OW!" Jack spun around and retreated out of reach, tugging at his stuck sword when the Calypso creaked and the sea went ominously flat. The wind began to suck her back, rumbling. "Bloody buggery hell!" "Thought you be liking buggery, Jack." A giant wave raised the Calypso like the hands that had carried them and her deck shuddered, knocking Barbossa off his feet. Jack stood up and shook his head. "Never could get the hang o' ridin' a wave." He was next to James like a shot. "You done this before, luv?" "No, but she seems to know what she is doing." James' one hand was on the helm, the other in his pocket, closed tight around the crab's smooth shell. "An' he should talk about buggery! Likes it in a dress," Jack whispered in James' ear, thumb jerking back at Barbossa, who was sprawling on the deck. "Jack do like dat too, when the moment opportune. Hic." "I consider myself eminently democratic, luv." After all, what was one more small bit of piracy, after stumbling upon immortality? Jack grinned. The Immortal Captain Sparrow, indeed. He wondered if there was a particular god of serendipity or if he was just as skewed as his luck. Then he thought about the unexpectedly unfettered horizon before him and snickered. He'd probably need eternity to figure out why James had decided on sharing the greatest treasure of them all. His grin became a leer. That promised to be lots of fun. "Because no one would crown the fool king?" James mumbled, shielding his face against the spray. The Calypso knew her way just fine without aid from her namesake, and they rushed across the sea. "The Pearl," he whispered as he made out her dark shape in the distance. Jack squinted and Barbossa hauled himself to his feet, the monkey leaping to its accustomed perch on his shoulder. He started to laugh. "Damn eternity t'hell. T'would be a bore t' live forever. Give me those boards beneath my boots an' I'll consider the journey well-spent." His words flew by in snatches. Jack's face changed. "Mates, we're gonna crash." He looked at James. "Abandon ship?" James looked down at her helm, but there was nothing that held him there, no call, no thrum, nothing but the laugh in the wind. "What came from da sea, to the sea must return." "Abandon ship," he repeated. As if on command, all three balanced on the rails, watching as the wave hurtled towards the huge sandbar with all the force of an angry (or at least slightly miffed) goddess. "JUMP!" Jack screamed over the wind. The enormous wave tore the Pearl from her perch like a toy in a tub, washing her far out into open water as the Calypso shattered against the sand and disintegrated into a shower of gleaming grains. Jack pushed his way through an eternity of green water to bob like a cork beside the Pearl's black hull. James surfaced next to him, and cleared his throat as a line dropped into the water next to him and once more, their hands touched on the line with a stingray's jolt. Barbossa was up on deck first, his strut every bit as cocky as if he had won the prize himself. "What are ya waitin' fer? Get us movin', ya lazy sods." Jack immediately chimed in "I want a damage report! Hoist the mainsail! Take in the oars! An' will someone get rid o' that bloody sand?" Cotton looked at Pintel, who looked at Ragetti, who dropped his new eye. It rolled to Gibbs who stared from Jack to Barbossa to James, then behind them to the Great Cabin doors. "BELAY ALL THAT!" Captain Teague staggered forward, beckoning. "Shut it, both of ya. Gimme that book." His grizzled mate handed over a tome the size of a family Bible and he stumbled forward to slam the side of Jack's head with it. "That's fer stealin' my ship, ya brat." It swung backhand to knock Sparrow to the deck. "An' that's for gettin' caught." He handed the book back. "Abridged version," he grinned, baring his teeth at Barbossa. "You wanna take me on, boy?" Barbossa managed a nervous smile and backed up a step. Teague turned to grin at James. "Bloody bastard stole 'er from me in 1706. Just a 'little sail'." He cuffed Jack, who fell flat on his back. James chuckled and helped Jack to his feet. "As he seems to be incapacitated, let me relay what I believe would be his answer: Pirate." Jack sat up, swaying, and crawled to peer over James' shoulder. "Got her back t'you, didn't I?" He leaned close to whisper in James' ear. "Save me!" The rotten Navy wretch simply laughed. "Course he's a bloody pirate. He's me son." Teague slouched past them, eyeing Jack sidelong. "Wot devilment have you gotten yerself into this time?" Jack shrugged and grinned. "Almost innocent bystander is the term he likes to use, I believe." The Captain turned in a whirl of shabby lace and red velvet coattails. His black eyes twinkled from a sea of wrinkles. "Why'm I sure ye've got sumpthin' t'do with that godawful smirk on his face? C'mon. Let's have a drink. Not you. Yer gonna do as yer told fer once." "Da!" "Shut it." "Family likeness, I am certain," James whispered, straightening as he followed Teague to the cabin, keeping a smirk from his face as Jack and Barbossa were shooed towards the ship's bow. He turned, one hand on the cabin door. "You do know this ship is all he really wants, don't you?" His voice was soft. Teague's leathery face crinkled into an apple-doll facsimile of Jack's. "He'll get it back. After he's cooled his heels fer a while. Just t'teach him a lesson. I bloody waited fourteen years fer him t'bring 'er back." Pintel's shout interrupted. "I tell ya, it's eatin' a peanut!" "I thought chimps did that?" Murtogg chimed in. "Actually, it's one of the genus of Ateles, but they eat peanuts too." "But it's the bloody undead monkey!" "So? Maybe it has to eat to stay undead? Or it's just doin' what its kin's supposed to." Ragetti nodded so hard his eye fell out again. "Bloody undead. Don't ya remember? Nothin' that tasted of anything." "Maybe it's an undead peanut?" Murtogg offered helpfully. "Undead peanut? Oh, please." Mulroy drawled. James hastily followed Captain Teague into the Great Cabin before he had to listen to any more. Behind the Pearl, a longboat jounced and splashed in her wake, the line between the ships bobbing with a lantern. Barbossa raised his pistol. "STOP THAT! It bloody well hurts!" A yellowed grin preceded the shot. "Good. Makes up fer what ya did t'poor Jack." "Hector, will you stop muckin' about and quiet down so we can at least get back aboard?" "Later. This is too much fun. Now what shall we sing?" "Someone's been rockin' my dreamboat..." FIN
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