AN(origional): I was quite disappointed with the AWE, mostly because it seemed to me that the whole "good man" message from the first two movies was lost. I've always thought Will and Norrington to be the prime examples of "good men", so I'm writing this alternate ending where things turn out a little better for them (and things will work out better for Jack as well, although he is a complete scoundrel in this movie). DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN AWE! Not only does it contain many, many spoilers, you will probably not understand the plot if you have not seen AWE first.

AN(take 2): I vowed to myself that I would never leave an unfinished story rotting on the internet, so I've been trying to continue (and hopefully complete) this story for ages, and well as cope with several major life changes which I'll not bore you all with. Problem is, I discovered that I wrote myself into a corner and could not continue without re-writing what I had already posted. As I'm sure most of you know, it's often harder to edit a story than it is to write it the first time around, so it's taken a ridiculous amount of time to get this story back on the right track and then finish it, and by that point, I was afraid of being flamed for having left this story unfinished for so long. Bleh. Anyway, here is, and my apologies for having taken so long.

Disclaimer: The entire franchise belongs to Disney.

Good Men

-Catspook

It was the change of the watch aboard the Flying Dutchman. Specifically, the marines that had been set to guard Dead Man's Chest during the day were being replaced with unlucky fellows who had been assigned the night shift (guarding a treasure chest containing a beating heart was unnerving enough, but the duty was twice as nerve-wracking at night). Despite the nature of the ship they were on and the treasure they were guarding, the duty of these men was generally fairly routine. Except for tonight.

Instead of the usual contingent of marines, the day watch was being replaced only by Misters Murtogg and Mullroy (a pair of bumblers whom most couldn't believe had managed to remain in the service this long) and the gallant, yet sometimes flighty, Lieutenant Groves.

"Where be the rest of the watch, sir?" the most senior member of the day watch (a grizzled fellow by the name of Keene) inquired.

"The admiral has assigned them to watch the prisoners in the brig. He fears their captain may rile them to cause trouble tonight," Lieutenant Groves answered smartly, his expression clearly indicating that he would take no questioning of the Admiral's orders this night.

The day watch saluted to the lieutenant, and the marines manning the two small cannons aimed at the heart passed control of the weapons over the Murtogg and Mullroy. Keene passed his rifle and position next to the door to Lieutenant Groves. The day watch then filed out in orderly Navy fashion and proceeded on to supper and sleep.

Several hours later, Admiral Norrington entered the room where the heart was being kept. Lieutenant Groves and the two marines saluted their commanding officer and he returned the gesture. "Gentleman," Norrington ordered the marines, "I must ask you to step outside for a moment while I speak to the Lieutenant."

Murtogg and Mullroy exchanged glances, confused by the strange request, but did as ordered. They were near to the door when the Admiral spoke again. "Gentleman?"

The marines turned quickly, nearly colliding with one another. "Yes, sir?"

Norrington raised an eyebrow. "Rifles?"

Once again, the blundering pair exchanged glances and quickly retrieved two of the rifles that the day watch had left propped against the wall. They saluted again, and tumbled out of the room, taking up positions on either side of the door.

"What d'you supposed that's about?" Murtogg whispered to his larger friend.

Mullroy looked perturbed, but merely replied, "Best not question orders. It's not our business to be wonderin' what officers talk about. 'Specially with things goin' the way they are."

"D'you suppose it's about the pirates, then? Or them fish-people?" Murtogg could not help asking.

Mullroy rolled his eyes. His companion never seemed to know when to keep his mouth shut. "I don't know what th'officers have to say 'bout them fish-people, but it's not our place to be askin'."

"Well, what do you think about…"

On the other side of the door, Groves and Norrington took advantage of the noise the marines were making to have their own conversation.

"You are sure about this, Theodore?" Norrington asked his lower officer and friend.

"It's the right thing to do, James. You know it. As long as Beckett and the Company have Jones under their control, they will crush anyone in their way, pirate or no. I saw the gallows, James; he hung women and children! And if what Miss Swann told you about the Governor is true…"

"But how would she know? I have no idea where she has been all this time, but I'm quite sure it was far from England!"

Theodore gave James a level stare. He had always respected him as an officer and loved him as a friend, but had ever been fearful of his inability to trust anything other than the rules of law and reason. Theodore himself recognized the necessity to trust one's instincts when necessary, and had often regretted James' inability to do so. "Listen to me, James. There is something afoot in world, something powerful. It goes beyond what happened today, possibly even beyond Jones. The company aims to take over everything, and will not stop until every man, woman, and child is toiling for them. Tonight we have a chance to stop them, and we must. Beckett may be a lord, but he's crossed the line. He had no authority to take over Port Royal or the navy stationed there. He has committed kidnapping, theft, and murder, all the while manipulating the law to serve his purpose. If we don't stop him now, we'll have handed over control of the seas to the cruelest pirate I have ever seen."

James nodded and stepped up to the chest, key in hand. "You realize that this may doom every man on this ship. With the heart gone, Jones will be a lose cannon."

Groves smirked grimly, "The heart will simply be changing hands. If he values his life, Jones will do whatever Captain Swann asks him to do. And if our lives and the lives of our men are to be lost this night, we will have died protecting the citizenry from the most fiendish of villains, as is out duty."

"Duty," James echoed, and for the first time since his reinstatement, Theodore saw in James the resolve and commitment that made James such fine commanding officer and worthy friend.

Elizabeth stared as her former fiancé and one-time friend opened the door to the brig.

"Come," James whispered, gesturing towards freedom. "Come quickly!" he repeated when nobody moved. Elizabeth finally gestured for the crew to follow the Admiral, but waited until the last man had left before she made a move herself.

"What are you doing?" she hissed at James.

"Choosing a side," he replied simply, and led them to the stern of the ship. Elizabeth ordered her crew to climb over to the Empress using the ropes that tethered her to the Dutchman. Elizabeth, however, lagged behind. She turned to Norrington, ready to demand an explanation, but he took the matter out of her hands.

"I don't understand what has happened, but I know for certain that Beckett must be stopped." He reached into his coat and pulled out a small bag; a small bag that was throbbing in a most unnerving manner. "With this you can control Jones. I can think of no one who is more likely to use it towards good ends than you."

Elizabeth glanced at the bag containing the heart then back at James. "Tell me you did not know about my father."

"I swear I did not, but I do have other sins for which I must atone." Elizabeth looked at the bag again but did not yet make a move to take it.

"Come with us. Once the heart is discovered to be gone, Beckett will have you killed even if Jones does not."

James looked at her with longing, longing she had never seen in anyone's eyes save for Will's. Although maybe, she thought to herself, it had always been there and she had just been too wrapped up in her own concerns to see it. His words, however, defied the look in his eyes, "I cannot. I have men on this ship that will be in just as much danger, and I cannot leave them to their fate. Take the heart, and defeat Beckett; I know you can."

For a long moment, Elizabeth stared at him. She did not want to leave him behind, and if she were to be honest with herself, she did not want to take the heart either. Oh, she wanted to defeat Beckett, certainly, but if she took the heart, she feared it would find its way to Will, and then she might loose him forever. But looking once more at James, she realized that there was no persuading him to come, and leaving the heart behind would only render his death, and the deaths of so many others, completely senseless. She was about to reach for the bag in James' hand, when she heard footsteps and shouting. She looked over James' shoulder and saw Bootstrap with a vacant look on his face and a large, sharpened, wooden pole in his had.

James saw Bootstrap too and drew his sword. "Go!" he shouted, thrusting the heart at her. She paused for a moment more, then grabbed the heart and climbed onto the ropes. Unfortunately, the ropes, like the rest of the Dutchman, were wet and covered with slimy plant material. She managed to keep her grip, but the bag containing the heart fell from her grasp.

"James!" and he turned just in time to lunge for the heart before it fell into the ocean. However, this move left his back exposed to Bootstrap, who by now was completely consumed by the curse of the Dutchman. "No one leaves the ship!" he shouted, and he rushed at Norrington's exposed back.

James managed to turn just in time to avoid getting impaled by the wooden spike, but the force of Bootstrap's blow sent him sprawling on the deck. Now prostrate, he was defenseless against Bootstrap's next attack. Elizabeth let go of the ropes, launching herself at Bootstrap. Unfortunately, she had failed to take into account the location of the heart and James' sword, and as she and Bootstrap tumbled to the deck, she managed to fall into James' upraised arm. The point of his sword sliced through the burlap bag and, horrifyingly, pierced the beating heart within.

For a moment, there was complete silence, and then a horrifying howl, as loud and terrible as the strongest hurricane winds, resounded through the ship.

"James!" Elizabeth gasped, "You've killed Davey Jones! The ship will now be after a new heart to take his place!"

James stared at her, as if he could not quite understand what she had just said. But Bootstrap, and the other crew members, who now were sprouting from the woodwork of the Dutchman's stern clarified the matter. "Part of the crew, part of the ship," they chanted as they advanced on James and Elizabeth, "Part of the crew, part of the ship."

James did not hesitate. While Elizabeth was still stunned with shock, he grabbed her about the waist and bodily tossed her overboard. He then managed to sever the ropes binding the Empress to the Dutchman with a pistol shot before the crew was upon him. His last thought as a mortal man was the pray that Elizabeth managed to make it aboard the Empress.

(end chapter 1)