One Shot: Better to Reign in Hell II—SPOILER ALERT
Disclaimer: Here mousie, mousie! Have some nice rat poison if you aren't very good to these characters.
Summary: Before the movie came out, going from the spoilers, I wrote an interpretation of the ending of DMC. Now that I've seen the movie—twice—I decided to rewrite it with the new information. Don't read if you don't want to know. Jack's POV.
Thank you for the original beta geekmama2.
Better to Reign in Hell II
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 instructed his remaining crew to abandon ship, the urge to flee with them was nearly unbearable. 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 so very strong.
Yet stronger still was his bond with this ship. His hand lingered on her, tracing the familiar and beloved lines of her, feeling her trembling in the throes of a death from which he'd utterly failed to preserve her. Once before, they'd gone down together. That time he'd made his devil's bargain with Davy Jones, giving his soul and his freedom in exchange for hers. He'd always believed he could find a way to break that oath. He had been a fool. This time there would be nothing he could barter, no way to slither out from under his fate, no price he could pay to save his Black Pearl.
He did not look at the longboat.
However, one person remained on deck with him as the boat filled. One person resisted the panicked current, drove against the tide of fear and scorned safety.
"Thank you, Jack," she said softly, moving closer to him as he turned. "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.
"We're not free yet, love," he answered.
Then it was that he saw the barriers go down. She came to him, as willing as she had before been resistant, meeting 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 and brushed her waiting lips with his. He felt her hand cradling his head, passionate and demanding.
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 kiss good-bye. Jack returned it with enthusiasm. Captain Sparrow always took what he could, and this was not a gift he was 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.
When he did not resist her nor accuse her, she protested, "I'm not sorry!" like a small child. So very endearing. But the fractures of grief crazing the surface of those words gave them the lie. And she'd nearly kissed him again—it had trembled between their lips like an unborn vow.
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 his 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, his smile burning ahead of the coming cold. Forgiving. His free hand brushed her arm one last time, one final touch of life and warmth. 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 boat. He knew—who better—just how long she would be paying for this day's work.
Then he turned outward to face the fate from which he'd been running. 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 this bar fighting. This would be a combat no witness would ever 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 to quench his thirst. Davy Jones was going to rue the day he captured Captain Jack Sparrow.