'Pirates of the Caribbean' belongs to Disney.

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The Setting: James, Mare and Jack are sharing a private booth at their favorite Capri night spot, happily celebrating the successful completion of their first Mission together. They've just returned from 1940 Dunkirk, France, where they participated in the 'Miracle of the Little Boats'; joining the flotilla of small crafts which rescued thousands of stranded allied soldiers from the beaches. Some of the men they saved have since made significant contributions to the welfare of the Timelines.

Having gotten slightly inebriated, the three decide to play a game; they shall each answer a question about something they've never revealed before. Marked bottle caps are drawn to determine the order of asking- upon winning, Jack promptly challenges James to "Tell us about yer First Time."

JAMES' REVELATION

"My 'first time'? Meaning, my first sexual experience?"

"What else?"

"There's really not much to tell. When I was an apprentice sailor aboard the Serval, my father's merchant brig, we happened to be in port on my seventeenth birthday. Some of the crew proposed to commemorate the occasion by hiring a certain woman for me, who was known to be adept at giving young men their 'initiations'. I had some misgivings due to my religious upbringing, but Captain Drucker soon allayed those. He convinced me it was allowable, not only to give me adult status in the eyes of my shipmates, but as a service to my future bride. 'Regardless of what any of 'em might say, the fact is that every woman prefers a man who knows what he's doing. You don't want to be all fumbles on your wedding night, now do you?'"

"You weren't, James."

"Thank you, Mare. I knew my father held Captain Drucker in high regard; surely he wouldn't grant permission for anything Father would disapprove of. Or so I told myself. I never believed Mother would feel the same way, but by this time I'd adopted the usual sailor's outlook: our mothers, and all respectable women, belonged to that more civil and civilized world supported by our efforts. Admirable though their ideals might be, they simply weren't workable for a seaman's life."

"Always knew you could rationalize with the best of us, James! So how'd this paternally-approved initiation go?"

"I'm not describing it in detail, Sparrow, that's outside our accord. I'll just say: it was the basic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much that, for the next eight years, I sought out similar women at every port of call."

"No qualms about ruining yourself for marriage?"

"Not for long. I don't know about ladies, Mare, but gentleman tend to compartmentalize their sexual affairs. When both participants recognize it's just to satisfy the urge, it can be regarded as a casual indulgence. But if she's the sort of woman who expects something more meaningful, restraint is called for. Particularly if she's a possible candidate for a wife. This is why I withheld myself from Solaine, a charming girl I became acquainted with in Kingston. She was the daughter of a successful coffee baron. Well educated, pixieish face, smooth chestnut hair..."

"Ahem. I'm in the room, James."

"Anyway, when certain developments made it untenable for me to consider asking Solaine for her hand, I was at least able to end our relationship with a clear conscience, knowing I'd not compromised the young lady's honor. It was for different reasons that I felt compelled, shortly afterwards, to make a consolatory visit to Kingston's most expensive brothel."

"Cousin, any bloke worth his nail-clippings kin think up an adequate excuse."

"The voice of experience, Sparrow? But to conclude the story; those indulgences had to stop when I achieved captaincy of the Dauntless. A senior officer of His Majesty's Fleet is supposed to set an example of forbearance for his crew; he's expected to either marry or abstain. Not every captain tries to meet this standard..."

"But of course you, being a strongly principled young man..."

" ... spent the next few years directing all of my energies into the task of hunting pirates."

"Why Mr. Norrington, if we'd known that's what was drivin' you we'da gladly supplied you with fifty wives!"

"I've no doubt you would have, you scalawag, but I preferred to make my own selection. Now please restrain any remarks about what an imperfect job I did."

"No cause for that to bother you anymore, James. You got much better with practice."

"Indeed. My next attempt had far more satisfactory results. Jack, you're going to choke yourself making such faces."

"I believe 'tis time ta give yer Missis her question."

"Very well. Meredith, when did you first became aware of your special ability to perceive other people's intentions?"

"That's not easy to describe, James. It started so early I don't remember any one instance of realizing I could do it. Or of noticing not everyone could. But I do recall, vividly, the moment I realized I had to keep this 'talent' under wraps."

"That will do fine."

MEREDITH'S REVELATION

"This happened when I was eight years old. Though my prior years I'd never been inhibited about telling my playmates, and the occasional grownup, that this-or-that person hadn't been telling the truth when they'd said that-or-this. I don't recall anyone ever paid much attention. The kids probably assumed I was just making it up, and grownups, of course, hardly listened at all. Certainly no one took it seriously enough to request I verify a speaker's truthfulness for them, though I could've easily done so."

"Such regrettable squanderin' of a precious resource!"

"It's probably just as well, Jack. Though I didn't appreciate it at the time, I could've gotten several folks into more trouble than they deserved. But one adult who did pay some notice was my Nurse. For a long while, she just frowned a bit whenever I made such statements. Though my seventh year, I noticed those frowns were lasting longer. Then came this one afternoon- a hot one, in late summer- when I delivered an ordinary message to Nurse from Daniel, one of the younger house servants. He'd left just after midday, instructing me to tell Nurse it was because his mother had ague and he needed to tend to her. I repeated his words and added, Daniel had invented the part about his mother being sick.

"To my astonishment, Nurse gripped my shoulders, stooped to glare into my face, and snapped that I was eight now- far too old to still be playing 'pretend'. I must stop it right now, unless I wanted to be shut in the nursery with my baby sister. It's no exaggeration to say I was deeply shocked. But I defended myself. I wasn't pretending anything- Daniel really had said that, and really hadn't believed it! I could often tell when people weren't telling the truth. If I listened hard enough, I could even tell something about what they were really up to!

"Nurse became stonily calm, which was a lot scarier. This was completely intolerable, she snarled. Whether I was imaging things or just a liar, she intended to put a stop to this nonsense once and for all. She was going to escort me around the estate now, to listen while she questioned some of the staff about matters she already knew the truth of. I was then to describe the veracity of their answers to her, and each time I got something wrong she'd give me a smack across the face. That ought to drive the lesson home.

"This proposal made me feel much better- now I'd have a chance to prove myself! To Nurse's surprise, I willingly put my hand into hers and announced I was ready. So she set her jaw and led me off, first to the kitchen, then the stables, then the barns. At every stop Nurse would pick out a servant and ask them some stern questions, about things they intended to buy, or the situation of some relative, or the last time they'd seen so-and-so. I didn't need to understand every word to gauge their replies. After every interrogation, Nurse pulled me aside and demanded my impressions, which I diligently recited. Bess the housemaid wasn't really planning to reuse her May Day frock for the Harvest Fair; there was another dress in town she intended to buy. It hadn't been a week since Rosie the cook last saw her beau George; it'd been more recent, and the recollection excited her. Stable boy Amos' older brother wasn't actually at sea- wherever he was, it saddened Amos to talk about it.

"Of course I expected Nurse to be pleased at confirming my honesty, but to my bewilderment, every correct response seemed to have the opposite effect. First she looked annoyed, then disconcerted, then she started to get angry. I naïvely assumed she was just anxious to finish before dinnertime.

"Nurse's final interrogation was particularly opaque to me, but I made a dutiful report. Though she'd denied it, Mary the milkmaid was very upset with the local farrier. And it did have something to do with the hayloft; something had gone wrong up there... I got no further. In mid-word, Nurse grabbed my arm and dragged me behind the threshing shed. She started shaking me hard, fingers digging deep in my shoulders. Her face was worse than furious, she was actually frightened! I must never, ever use this power again, she hollered. It was unnatural, abominable- people would think I was possessed by demons, or using witchcraft! Did I Understand Her?

"I was terrified, and utterly uncomprehending. Demons and witches were minions of the Father of Lies- how could they have anything to do with this? But I sensed that speaking would only make her angrier, so I clamped my mouth shut and endured the shaking. Finally Nurse flung me to the ground and stormed off, and I never saw her again.

"I got up, trembling, brushed the hay off my clothes and sneaked back into the house. I spent the rest of the day huddled in my bedroom, pleading a stomachache when Bess knocked to tell me dinner was ready. Between the misery of not understanding what I'd done wrong, and the hunger pangs, I got hardly any sleep that night.

"But next morning was when the situation really hit home. Right after I'd devoured an extra-big breakfast, Daniel appeared and said Father wanted to see me in the counting room. Father turned a furious scowl on me as I entered, and demanded to know what I'd done to make Nurse pack up and leave. She'd tendered her resignation just an hour ago, offering no explanation other than that she 'couldn't look after a child of that sort.'

"That was the moment I first realized the nature of this thing in me. How very unusual it was, and how dangerous."

"I am so sorry, Meredith."

"Aye. 'Must've distressed you to the core. An' you only a whelpess."

"This happened centuries ago; the hurt's mostly worn off. Father repeatedly bellowed the same question. All I could do was insist, again and again, that I didn't know why Nurse was so upset- it was the first time I'd ever told such a persistent lie. Luckily, Father wasn't interested in finding out, so much as in expressing his ire. He pulled out a dog whip and gave me a thrashing- punishment for putting him through the trouble of hiring a new Nurse, he said. If I did anything to make the next one quit I'd get twice as bad.

"That was a lesson learned. From that day on, I kept all my 'special' observations strictly to myself. My replacement Nurse was a rather unobservant sort; I had no trouble concealing it from her. Everyone else soon forget I'd mentioned such things, since nobody had taken it seriously to begin with. But I did make a point of keeping my talent in good practice. I'd been taught that falsehoods were sinful- I couldn't believe detecting them was evil. Plus, I anticipated there'd be situations where it would come in useful... though I never suspected what those situations would turn out to be.

"Eight years later, our estate got socked with a double punch. The price of wool took a dive, the same season our wheat harvest was decimated by an early frost. We cut other expenses, but Father was determined to retain all his horses and hounds, considering them the badge of a Squire and a Gentleman. To pay for their upkeep, he recklessly borrowed from the Manor Lord. When heavy rains spoiled our next harvest, and the debt came due, you know what he did to pay it."

"Bloody disgraceful- usin' 'is own offspring as a commodity!"

"Yeah. I've never quite forgiven him. But it was an acceptable practice at the time- sometimes it even worked out. One of my schoolmates got traded off the same way, but to a kindly old man. A wealthy silk merchant, who was so pleased to have a pretty young wife he spoiled her rotten. And of course she could look forward to soon being a rich widow, with her pick of the beaus. I've every reason to believe she was satisfied with the deal.

"I had no such luck. Everyone knew our Manor Lord was a cold-hearted sod who'd lost two previous wives (one under suspicious circumstances), and subsequently abandoned all normal appetites- his one remaining passion was to expand his holdings. But nobody, including me, suspected how ruthless he actually was. It was soon after I'd moved into the Manor that my 'espering' led me to discover what my dear fiancé was planning for the next May Day festivities. The bastard had hired mercenaries to infiltrate the town's traditional battle-reenactment, to slaughter his own citizens. He intended to frame the next Lord down the road for this, so he'd have an excuse to invade.

"I remember the interval right after I confirmed this... wandering out onto the grounds to contemplate the Manor's highest turret. I considered, better to climb up there and jump, than marry a monster who was about to callously murder the very people he was charged to protect. A field hand in a straw cape happened by then; the most nondescript guy you could imagine. He paused alongside, remarking that I appeared most melancholy. I thought nothing of his impertinence, directly addressing the soon-to-be Manor Lady. I just replied he'd be melancholy too, if he had any idea what sort of man his employer was. The field hand answered that he did know, and, to my great astonishment, proceeded to describe the entire situation in detail!"

"Mr. Murphy seems to have a preference for introducing himself that way."

"Naturally I demanded to know how he knew this. In answer, he explained who he was. It sounded like the wildest tavern yarn ever spun, but I could tell he believed every word of it, and he knew I could tell. Then he put a proposal to me which was equally far-fetched, and which he believed just as thoroughly. If I would take one drastic measure to assure this pending massacre never happened, then threw myself into the river, I'd be enveloped by a glowing net which would transport me to a time and place where I'd be in charge of my own life, and my 'special ability' would no longer pose any threat to me.

"We moved to an inconspicuous spot to discuss this at length. Among other things, I wanted evidence he wasn't a demon tempting me to commit a damning sin. His counter-argument was that killing this one flagitious man would not only save the lives of a dozen good ones, it would also prevent a territorial war which would last longer and do more persistent damage than the provocateur suspected. 'There will come a day, Meredith, when the stability of this region- or lack thereof- will play a role in whether or not your country withstands besiegement by a regime with even harsher intentions than your betrothed. You tell me which side the angels would take.' That's a translation from Middle English.

"After some thought I decided that, even if this was a madman trying to trick me into drowning myself, his scheme made sense. If I was going to commit suicide I might as well do the world some good on my way out. Murphy gave me a tiny silk pouch containing a bit of white powder, plus some instructions, and we parted company. Two days later, directly after my wedding, I fulfilled my end of the bargain. And Murphy fulfilled his. The 21st-century United States was everything he'd promised. Nobody was afraid of ESP- most people considered it mythical, the rest thought it enviable. Though, just to avoid drawing attention, I continued to keep my ability hidden, except from individuals I really trust."

"Good to hear, Mare."

"You know, I've wondered ever since, how many people who were executed for witchcraft over the centuries may've possessed the same sorts of abilities and made the mistake of letting 'em show. And how many had their deaths faked- 'were actually relocated to the future. I've questioned Murphy about this, but he says he can't tell me. Confidential information."

"Of course."

"And now, Jack..."

"Jus' so yer forewarned, lass, the story of my 'first time' doesn't have a particularly happy conclusion."

"I'm more curious about something else. During that same conversation I also asked Murphy about the average lifespan of Operatives who use the Fountain. According to him, two to three hundred years is the norm. It's during their third century that most humans reach their 'satiation level'- a persistent sense they've seen and done it all. When there's nothing new to experience, it's just too tiresome to continue. I remarked, Jack Sparrow was well into his fourth century and seemed to still be joie de vivre incarnate."

"I'm flattered, luv!"

"Murphy replied that Jack was on the extreme end of the distribution curve, which might be due to his unusual ancestry..."

"Uh-oh."

"...and if I wanted to know more, I should ask him about it. So I'm asking."

"I'd rather you didn't."

"That's breaking the rules, Sparrow. Your can hardly claim it's a more embarrassing question than the one you asked me."

"Embarrassment hain't the concern. If I were ta make a veracious answer- an' Mare can verify it is- you'll probably conclude I've gone three times 'round the bend."

"It's rather late in our acquaintanceship to start worrying about that."

"Seriously, lass, you've dropped yer lead inta a verra deep mark."

"Jack, don't be a spoilsport. James and I gave complete answers, now it's your turn."

"If it helps, I promise not to smirk."

"Right nosy parkers, the both of you. All right, but only on condition you keep this well stowed. Savvy?"

"We savvy."

JACK'S REVELATION

"Theer used ta be a tale told 'bout me Mum's family. Gypsy, as yer aware, but peculiar even by their standards. Folk of her lineage were known ta display a fay quality... do either of you know the alternate meanin' of that word?"

"In Old English, 'fay' is a synonym for 'faerie'."

"Kudos, Mare. It used ta be said, this 'fay' component was of precisely that origin."

"Hold on- did I understand right? You allegedly have a... nonhuman being, among your ancestors?"

"So rumor hath it. Faerie, elf, mermaid- somethin' of that genre."

"Admittedly, that would explain a few things."

"Such was the general view, ol' Commodore. This liaison supposedly happened a long ways back, but once that preternatural element enters the bloodline, it breeds true to the final generation. Which, as it happens, you are currently lookin' at. In it's entirety."

"What- you don't have any relatives?"

"Plenty on me Da's side. Known an' unknown! Teague bein' what he was, I probably had half-siblings in two dozen ports- not that I ever attempted ta look any of 'em up. Mum's side is an entirely different matter, 'cause that eldritch strain exacts a price. In each succeedin' generation, only one child born will live long enough- pardon my blunt terminology- fer the bleeds ta start or bollocks ta drop. 'Could be called the Family Curse, though I'm told it's not the result of anybody's grudge. 'Tis a necessary restraining device, meant ta limit our numbers... Mr. Norrington, I was under the impression we had an accord about not smirkin'."

"Sorry, Jack. I couldn't help thinking..."

"I can guess what you were bloody thinkin'!"

"Now, boys, just settle down! Jack, do have you reason to think this 'limitation' is real?"

"I have it on good authority that my great-grandfather Aishe, an' my maternal grandmother Mala, were both only-survivin' children. As was the aforementioned authority: me own Mum."

"What about your Uncle Matsendra?"

"My half-uncle, actually. Matt an' his younger sis Banni were begotten on Granddad Bharadwaj's first wife. When she suddenly passed away, from krait bite, he was so unenthused at the prospect of raisin' two whelps on his onesies that he took a bride within the month- a lass he might normally've been more leery of. Grandmum Mala, though more 'en passing fair, was notorious for her unconventional behaviors. Conversin' with songbirds, fer one. An' I don't mean simple exchanges of greetings. Mala used ta have extensive discussions with the beasties."

"For some reason, I'm finding that easy to picture."

"Fer all that, it seems to've been a happy union. GrandMum loved her man enough to defy her family tradition- she gave him the copious offspring he wanted. Bein' well-versed in herb lore she could've limited her conceptions. Instead she bore 'im three whelps, an' was carryin' a fourth, the year that pestilential cyclone came ashore an' leveled their farmhouse. Killed all save one inside- spared only her first-born, Chakori. An' that jus' barely. The blokes who dug my Mum-ta-be from the wreckage told her, if she'd fallen jus' a couple hand-spans to port or starboard, she'd've been crushed under the beams.

"As you kin imagine, Chakori interpreted that as confirmation the Curse would have it's way. So she made a point of acquainting her own issue- meself- with the whole story, jus' about the first minute I was old enough ta comprehend it. Her intent was ta impress on me the need ta be cautious in matters of reproduction... though, as it turned out, I didn't get much opportunity anyway. I believe James has long since deduced what I'm talkin' about, eh?"

"Certain things you've said in the past have led me to formulate a theory. Did you, perhaps, contract a serious fever sometime during your early teens?"

"Aye, I did. An intense bout of scarlet fever, in my fourteenth year. Damned near did me in. After the crisis passed, the attending leech told me I'd make an almost full recovery- 'almost' meaning, I'd do well ta focus on life-goals other 'en fatherhood. That was initially fine by me. 'Twould allow me ta unhesitantly spurn any mendacious wench who approached with a gravid belly or squallin' brat, claimin' I owed paternal divestiturements."

"You said 'initially'. Do you feel otherwise now?"

"Well, James, it has been some centuries since I've been young in the chronological sense. The prospect of Mum's singular dynasty endin' with me seems much more regretful than it used ta. 'Tis why I have me seed tested after every visit to the Fountain, in case my 'bonus gift' turns out ta be repairment of the goods. 'Cause if it ever does... maybe 'tis better ta father one whelp 'en none, eh?"

"You know, Jack, if that's something you really want, you might have another option. At the rate cloning technology is developing..."

"Mare! Don't give him ideas!"

"There's a time to stop the kidding, James."

"Ah, darlin' Meredith. With all due appreciation fer yer concern, on this point yer stuffy Commodore husband is right. This world's only got room fer one Jack Sparrow. Fay or not."

"For once, we're in total agreement."

"Eh, suit yourself... Oh, look at the time. I'd say that's enough for one evening."

"It's been interesting. Shall we do this again, after our next Mission?"

"Maybe, Mr. Norrington. If yer not worried ye'll run short on secrets."

"I suppose you're not?"

"I've had substantially more years ta wrack 'em up, cousin!"

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FINIS

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"You've dropped yer lead inta a verra deep mark" refers to the maritime practice of taking soundings; establishing depth before steering a ship into unfamiliar waterways. This is done by lowering a lead-weighted rope with 'marks' (such as tied-on cloth strips) along it's length.

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I got part of my inspiration for Jack's Revelation from Peladon's enjoyable crossover fic END OF THE LINE, which postulates Jack is the last living descendant of Arwen and Aragorn. As James noted, that would explain a few things.