SERIES: 4th in a series of four stories. Follows “First Drink”, “What a Man Can Have”, and “Fulfillment”.
RATING: Only PG, this time if that.
SUMMARY: Barbossa’s thoughts upon first seeing Jack upon the Isla de Muerta.
NOTES: For SavvyJack18, who knows a Pirates obsession when he sees one…hmm…wonder why? Sorry this bit didn’t end up NC-17, but goodness knows there will likely be more stories after this one, all things considered. Damn it anyway.

Left Behind

By Garnet

He wasn’t surprised.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He was surprised, but more so at his own reaction than at the sight of a man who should have been more than ten years dead already.

Cold fury.

The kind that chilled his bones far worse than any curse ever had or ever could. Yea, cold fury and the feeling that not only shouldn’t this be happening, but that he would give nearly anything that it had not. That he could not be looking at Jack Sparrow this very moment, nonchalantly leaning upon a stolen oar and staring back at him as if he had never seen a sorrier sight before in all his days.

Aye, Jack Sparrow…

Looking dark and dangerous and mysterious.

As if he were the one with his life laid bare by a pack of heathen gods and all the dark forces they could bring to their command.

Looking entirely in control of the situation.

As though a dozen or more pistols and knives weren’t pointed at his more vulnerable portions, a dozen or more of his fellows just itching to teach him a lesson he’d not soon recover from.

Looking calm.

As if they were entirely at his mercy, rather than the other way round.

But then, as it turned out, they were. Which was also not so much a surprise, galling though it was to have to admit to it.

“You know whose blood we need.”

Not a question. But then it could never have been a question. Not if the man was here, now, standing on the isle of the dead with the dead themselves before him, and still being as insufferably pleased with himself as ever he’d remembered him to be.

“I know whose blood you need.”

Oh, aye, quite dark, dark as those black eyes that he had never quite forgotten, and breathless cold in its own right. As if, somewhere along the way—somewhere over those lost years when he had acquired so many more beads and baubles, not to mention a few lines upon his face and braids upon that once-smooth chin and teeth of stolen gold it seemed, instead of that pure white too perfect smile—Jack Sparrow had learned both the price and the power of honest hatred.

How it twists in ones guts until you know the knot will never come undone again, not even if you should slice your own belly open in pursuit of it.

How it holds you tight and then tighter still, until each breath is an effort, a struggle, an agony that can hardly be borne, but must all the same.

How savagely it sears and burns and ferments, and yet can’t seem to keep one warm at night.

Not for ten long years, nor yet forever it seemed.

“Bring him along,” he ordered, and then turned and simply walked away, lest he forget himself and do something he would regret even the more.

Like saying he had missed him. That he was pleased to see him. That he still wanted him.

That he was sorry.

For that he had not and he could not be and he should not and he would not be, no matter that it was the one thing he had not lost when flesh and pleasure and promise was taken from him, when the last of his hope had fled and his own sins quite eaten him up inside and out. Leaving naught but bare bone and blackest despair behind.

Aye, the one good thing that had not been taken from him at the last and that the memory of the only thing itself that had ever seemed pure or bright or truly right in all his life.

Even though he himself had seen fit to throw it away at the last.

And all for what had seemed at the time to be by far the brighter treasure still, but which had turned out to be naught but the honey by which the trap was set, the sweetness by which the most bitter of poisons was disguised.

For, truly, the Pearl was a ship of great price, but it had not been worth his soul. Anymore than it had been worth Jack’s life as it turned out.

Though he could not have known then, how in the end the Pearl would become but a tattered prison and that ten years in a bed only kept company by regret was ten years too long. And regret a far colder mistress at the last than ever the sea had proved herself to be.

For though the fury he felt now was cold, yet still it was something fierce enough. And though his heart was in confusion, yet he might swear to the fact that at least it was beating again. Or that something beat inside the naked cage of his ribs anyway, something very much like the wings of a tiny bird perhaps.

Or perhaps something even akin to hope.

Even if he did, indeed, have Jack Sparrow to thank for that. Even if it turned out he had to kill him all over again, after all. And chance murdering the last of himself in the process.

For, aye, tis truth. Feeling anything was good. But yet, at the same time, it could not be borne. For regret was not just a cold mistress, but a jealous one as well, and if he had once sold his soul for chest full of golden coins, he feared he would now give up all the rest, whatever little remained to him, for a prize by far the smaller, though no less precious.

A kiss. One single kiss.

From yet another dead man.

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