Pairing/Characters: Jack, Gibbs, various and sundry sailors
Word Count: somewhere around 800, I should think.
Summary: There’s an awful lot of rum to be had, and Jack Sparrow wanted it.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no infringement meant.
Spoilers: Really just for PotC 1. This is an odd backstory story.
Special Thanks: I guess to my friends Joey and Donnie, who told a story of oranges and retrieval that was so outlandish as to inspire this one. Also to anyone who read this ^_^
“Why is the rum gone?” Jack Sparrow roared, though no one could hear him over the general noise of a Tortugan tavern. Joshamee Gibbs sighed heavily. He found that lately it had become his characteristic response to anything Jack said. It had been near a three year since Jack had lost the Pearl, near a month since he had mysteriously disappeared from a Navy watch into the Caribbean night, and a great while since Jack had done anything approaching honest pirating.
“Because ye’re a fool, Jack Sparrow. A fool who can’t even be a pirate anymore.”
Jack spun on his heels, fumbling for his sword. Giving up, he pulled his pistol out and aimed it square at Gibbs’s forehead. “Watch yourself, mate. I’m a captain and a pirate still, though Barbossa stole me ship.”
“And ye won’t shoot me with the pistol for that very reason, so you might as well sit down.” Gibbs rolled his eyes. From behind them, the two heard a chuckle. Jack swung toward them, and Gibbs peered around him. Two rather boring, almost effeminate men sat looking at them mirthfully, woefully out of place in a rough and tumble tavern. One would expect them to be in the greatest salon in Paris, debating Voltaire and Rousseau. Only the dirt and rather stiff, salt starched nature of their clothes gave any indication that they knew what an ocean was, let alone that they had sailed across one more then once.
“And what did I do to cause such merriment, gentlemen?” Jack asked in a sickeningly polite tone.
“Your own self, sir.” One responded. He was tall, and dark, and bore himself as might a prince or duke. Jack narrowed his eyes, unimpressed. He wove his hand through the air, indicating that this was hardly a sufficient cause. “You see sir, we find ourselves in the greatest pirate port of the Caribbean and found what we thought was her greatest buccaneer. Apparently, we were wrong.” He smirked
“Were you now?” Jack’s voice took on a dangerous tone, one that Gibbs knew too well from being on the wrong end of it too many times.
“Now, Jack…” he began to warn. Jack ignored him, his eyes growing dark as the smeared kohl around them.
“How were you wrong, I wonder? Would a… wager of some kind set your minds at ease, gentlemen?”
“How-” Gibbs turned to look at Jack, utterly confused. Jack ignored him again, his hands gesturing to the two would-be challengers, gracefully.
“It might, sir. Give some example of your prowess, and we shall be satisfied.”
“And if I do?”
“I believe I heard you decry the lack of rum, did I not? Rum, then. But if you lose… there is quite the price on your head, you know.” He smiled, rather sinisterly.
“You want me to tell you a story so you won’t turn me in to the authorities?” Jack smiled, gold teeth flashing. “Well, then. Gentlemen…” he gestured for them to sit.
“One condition.” Jack cocked an ear to hear him. “Your friend must corroborate your tale. He seems to doubt your sanity as much as we do. It would do wonders for the… plausibility of your tale.” Jack shook his head, smiling.
“Agreed. Now then, to business.”
“Now, this was some years ago, before I was a pirate. I used to be legitimate, you know. I served with Gibbs here in the Royal Navy. Bit hard though, we were the only ones without sticks up their arses. As you can imagine, the captains and commodores did not take kindly to this.
Their favorite past time was having some poor sailor plant some object away up the mast and make me fetch it. And once, they got a whole shipment-”
“Of oranges.” Gibbs interrupted.
“Aye, oranges. Rare things on a ship of the fleet.”
“Aye. Worth their weight in gold.” Gibbs’s eyes grew wide with the word, gold.
“And so, somehow, someone had misplaced them… strung from the lines all up and down the sails. And they sent old Jack to grab every single one of them.”
“It was more… amusing… to see you up there then me.”
“Ah.” Jack held up his hand. “Doubt that mate. Anyway, they send old Jack scurrying up into the lines to get back these oranges…”
“Question.” The man interrupted, fairly licking his chops at the thought of the bounty he was sure to win. “Exactly how did these oranges get up into the lines?”
Gibbs opened his mouth to answer and stopped, his hands poised in the air as though he were on the verge of an answer. He shut his mouth and looked at Jack.
“Ah, see, mate, Gibbs here doesn’t want to tell you. He’s afraid you won’t believe us.”
“Please, tell away.”
“You see, mate, we were in western waters, didn’t know it at the time, but so far west we had to be nigh on the end of the world. And you know how things get at the end of the world…” Jack wove his hands, bobbing backwards with a grin that was too close to evil in the candlelight for anyone’s comfort.
“Peternatural occurances? You expect me to believe that some… supernatural being decided to play with the oranges on your ship.”
“Aye, I knew he wouldn’t believe ye, Jack.” Gibbs shook his head.
“So, supposing that such beings exist, and that the best thing they have to do is place a curse on the oranges of the British Royal Navy, how did it get resolved?”
“Ah, so I was all by me onesies in the rigging, chasing these blasted oranges, when we came across a storm. This wasn’t your ordinary storm, no, this was a hurricane, but bigger. It threw us about and still they yelled at me ‘You come down from there and ye’ll have thirty lashes for every orange you lose!’ and so I stayed up there. Even if I lost them no one wanted to come up and fetch me.”
“We were all too concerned about drowning, you fool. No one cared anymore.”
“Except the captain.” Jack rose one eyebrow, daring Gibbs to question him. He shrugged, deferring to Jack’s story. “And so he keeps screaming his fool head off about these oranges, and you must remember, I was but a lad of 13, I had no business bein’ so high in the riggin’, nor yelled at so fiercely. And with the wind and the rain it’s a miracle we heard them at all, and knew we were drifting to land.”
“Heard what?” The two men asked in unison, eagerly. Jack and Gibbs looked at each other, then turned back to them.
“Sirens.” They said. Their voices together were almost ghostly, fuller then one but weaker then two, a whisper that somehow seemed louder then the roar of the tavern.
“Sirens?” One of the men scoffed. “Surely they don’t really exist.” The two men tried to look superior, but their confidence slowly faded as they realized that Jack wasn’t smiling and Gibbs was a whiter shade of pale. “That is just the stuff of legends, of Homer. Sea tales to scare the men.” Jack and Gibbs slowly shook their heads.
“Sirens are the foulest creatures you could ever see. T'was their singing we heard, that horrible, sickly sweet shrieking that calls to men for some reason. We nearly succumbed ourselves.” Gibbs shook his head, hardened by the memory.
“What… what stopped you from running aground?”
“The oranges.” Jack smiled, though his lips were tight pressed, and there was little mirth in his voice. “I threw the oranges at the steersman’s head, at the captain, at any man within range. Hit ‘em upside the head, knocked enough sense in that they were able to cover their ears.”
“And what kept you from the Siren’s grasp?”
Jack smiled again, a sad slow smile. “Me mother was of the sea, she was. Knew a thing or two. Taught me a song that keeps sirens away. You fill your head with the melody and there isn’t any room for them.”
“And what is this extraordinary song you speak of? Have we heard it? A song of drinking or wenching, perhaps?”
“No, I doubt ye’ve heard it. The gypsies still sing it, and they teach a man here and there, but it’s their pride and joy.”
“Sing it, or I’ll doubt you most certainly sir. No man can imagine a song on the spot. Consider it proof.”
Jack sighed, looking at Gibbs. Gibbs shrugged his shoulders, as if to ask, what can one do? And Jack, for the first time since he had been trapped on that ship, high in the rigging, sang his mother’s song:
Though the road be long
And the days be short
Still the tide rolls ever on
And the sea shall weep
Over men she’s lost
To the ones she can never control
Who sing their song
Of death and tide and wave
And the sea rolls on
Over bodies gone
Lost underneath the waves.
I’ll not hear your song
I’ll not lose myself
To the mysterious, haunting hymn
For my lady sea watches over me
And guards me with her song.
Jack stood quiet for a moment, then turned to the two gentlemen. “Now, if you would be so kind as to bring me my rum.”
The two shuffled away, and Jack turned to Gibbs, the sadness still hovering around him. “Well mate, at least we fooled ‘em, right? More rum for a little while longer, ‘eh?”
“Jack, which parts were true?”
“I did have a mother…”