Better to Reign in Hell—SPOILER ALERT
By Honorat
Rating: K

Warning: SPOILERS. Character death implied.
Disclaimer: Here mousie, mousie! Have some nice rat poison if you aren't very good to these characters.

Summary: My second take on the ending of PotC2. Don't read if you don't want to know. Jack's POV. I went with the dialogue from the junior novelization, rather than from the leaked script, so one line is missing. I'm betting it won't be in the movie either. Have fun with the literary allusions. Cookies for the fellow geek who recognizes the Shakespeare reference. Milton and Marlowe are obvious. This could be construed as fitting the "Trial" Challenge at BlackPearlSails.

Thank you for the beta Geekmama. Your Young!Jack portrait will be on the way as soon as I shade the background.


Better to Reign in Hell

The horizon, which had always shone with limitless freedom, was closing in on him. The sea itself had become his prison—the ultimate betrayal. Jack Sparrow knew the desperate terror of the diver who has plunged too deep, and fight how he will, cannot regain the surface. He was drowning within sight of air.

The coils of Davy Jones's kraken had wrapped themselves with crushing force around his chest long before he'd finally faced the creature. Like Faust, he'd learned too late that the devil always cheats and that no amount of time would ever be enough, no escape ever possible. He'd hoped his luck would hold—every noose always another loophole—but this time there would be no space between the raindrops into which he could dodge. This time the ocean itself would descend on his head.

He'd fought himself to a standstill. Betrayed every trust. Sacrificed everyone who might have cared about him—everyone for whom he cared. The tackle of his heart was cracked and burned, and all the shrouds by which he'd sailed his life were reduced to a single line. If he succeeded in his plan, he might gain his life, but he would lose his soul to Davy Jones as surely as if he had consented to abide by their accord from the beginning.

In the end, he couldn't do it. He'd come back. To his ship. To his friends. To his crew. He would have loved to wave this moment on by, but Elizabeth had been right: some moments lived under one's skin and could not be carved out of one's flesh by any morally evasive knives. This moment was his.

Even so, when he allowed his ransom to depart, unhindered, the urge to flee with them was unbearable. Without his volition, his steps followed them. His entire soul revolted at deliberate consent to slavery. There was nowhere to which he could run, but the habit of dashing out from under the executioner's blade was too strong.

However, one person remained on deck with him as the lifeboats filled. One person resisted the panicked current, drove against the tide of fear and scorned safety.

Elizabeth.

"Thank you, Jack," she said softly, moving closer towards him. "You came back – I always knew you were a good man."

He should have known. She had always believed in him. Bloody inconvenient that was at times. Always recreating him in the mirror of her eyes as something better than he wanted to be. Like the best of pirates, she was ruthless and cunning and highly desirable. Unfortunately she was also as true to her ideals as a needle to the pole, which hadn't left much scope for seduction or corruption. But a pirate had to try.

This time, though, he saw the barriers go down. She came to him, as willing as she had before been resistant. Jack never resisted an opportune moment. He raised a hand to cradle her head, feeling again the silk of her hair. She met his gaze with one of fire. There were unshed tears in her eyes.

One does not weep for the living.

Ah. So this was it, then. A final and fitting farewell. Jack bowed his head and brushed her waiting lips with his.

Perhaps no kiss is ever exactly like another. This one was a war and a benediction, painful and comforting, fierce and tender, full of heated life and the chill of death. This was a final kiss good-bye. Jack returned it with enthusiasm. Captain Sparrow always took what he could, and this was a gift he was not planning on refusing.

He let the emotion of the moment overwhelm him like a tidal wave, bearing him back and down into the waiting darkness. Part of him still wanted to fight, but somehow that shared connection between him and this valiant, honourable girl strengthened the part of him that was willing to sacrifice.

He felt the mainmast of his Black Pearl stalwart against his back, and that link further solidified his determination.

He wondered if Elizabeth still thought he did not know. Somehow, he doubted it. The anguished look in her eyes could have lacerated steel as the cold manacle pinned his wrist to his ship.

"It's after you – not the ship – not us. It's the only way." Her voice was pleading, asking for his understanding.

Jack did understand. He admired a person who could do what was necessary, who could pay the most appalling price for a worthy prize. He was relieved to have the decision made, irrevocable, no longer subject to the caprice of his will to survive.

Betrayed by a kiss. Now that was an ending worthy of the legend.

If it had to be anyone, he was glad it was Elizabeth.

She reminded him of him.

"Pirate!" he informed her gently, teasing. His free hand brushed her hair one last time. It's all right, lass. You did what you had to do. Now I'll be doing what I have to.

He would go down with his ship, together as he had sworn they always would be—no longer man and ship, but one creature. With his bound hand, he soothed the smooth warm wood of her mast, feeling her quiver beneath him. Aye, love. You know I wouldn't have left you alone to this beastie.

His eyes followed Elizabeth as she made her forlorn way to the ladder to the boats, then turned outward to face his fate. In the end it was better to meet one's doom than be overtaken by it. He drew his sword and set himself to cross his final bar fighting. This would be a combat no witness would forget. He'd give them a story to sing about.

And when he had lost this final battle and gone to that pestilential Locker, he would make hell so hot for the devil that the old bastard would beg for fire and brimstone to quench his thirst. Davy Jones was going to rue the day he captured Captain Jack Sparrow.

The End