Heart's Desire

(My first Jack Sparrow fanfiction attempt)

Originally published October 29, 2007

The weathered and lonely walls of Tortuga's faithless Bride had seen the theatrics of as many dramas of piracy, love and adventure as it had spilled pints of ale and rum, which, if you asked the irritable barmaid scrubbing aggressively at the battered, abused slab of eternally soggy driftwood, isn't an amount to be laughed at. You see, she knows these things now. It's her curse. She thought she had escaped. But being a moral-by-nature, honest girl caged in a thousand leagues below in the center of golden age piracy has a way of stringing you along, and keeping you from anywhere you could really belong. But she knew this, and all too well. It's frustrating gravity poured out her life and her joy, stealing from her all but the last memories of far youth, which seemed much farther than they were. It had really only been… ten? No, five years? She couldn't recall. Monotony, meaninglessness, and the omnipresent din festival of sin all hours had reduced her lofty dreams to the dregs of the evening pint, where loneliness was her only companion.

Arabella Smith, the twenty-four year old barmaid, sighed. She could hardly believe she was back here. Doing this job that she thought she had avoided. She breathed in the salty smell of the tavern constructed completely of wood from shipwrecks claimed by the waters just outside.

The horrible rain had finally ceased and the leaks in the ceiling not streaming as they had. Arabella proceeded to pick up the tankards left on the worn table. All the drunken, old salts she called patrons had left the tavern empty in the middle of the night.

Even as the wind died down and managed only a ghostly hiss, the creaky door blew open. Startled, the tankard slipped out of the girl's fingers and she fixed her attentions towards the sudden noise.

Surprising as it was to see anyone at this hour not captured in a stupor, even more surprising was that the visitor was someone she recognized. The memory of the first time she met him, as a stranger in the same place he now stood.

Struck with an acute case of déjà vu, it was all she could do to stutter: "Captain?"

At her word, the detached man caught her bewilderment. After a moment, he incredulously tested, "Have we met before?"

Arabella smiled as she caught his characteristic voice. With certainty she ventured, "it is you." Directed towards his question, she added, "Jack, it's Bell."

"Arabella Smith?" he asked, taking a step into the tavern.

"Yes, yes, it's me." She confirmed, welcoming him with an embrace. She didn't notice his surprise. He received few welcomes that didn't involve death glares or violence.

"So you ended up back here, ay?" he asked when she joined his side.

"Seems so" she trailed off, looking wearily around the room. A thought struck her and she froze. "Jack..." she said.

"What's that?" Jack replied.

Arabella pulled away from him, "I've got some ...happy news." Her tone contradicted her meaning just as clearly as her face.

Jack picked up on this more than she'd hoped. "Then, why is it that you seem to be having trouble telling me?"

"It's ...well, complicated..." she bit her lip, searching for the right words to say what she was trying so hard to communicate to her friend.

"I'm listening."

"I never thought I was going to see you again...but, know that if I knew this day would come I would've never agreed to this, but...my mother, you remember, " Arabella's tone grew icy. "Captain Smith. She's a hard one to forget. We never got along, as you would remember. She left me here, on Tortuga, and I came back here. It was the only place I had left. I thought, if there were some way I could get out of here, I would do it. And I knew if I was to...get married, then I would not be serving ale and rum here anymore , so…" Arabella lifted her hand. As a slap-evading instinct, Jack shied away. But, Arabella simply lifted her other hand and pointed to her ring finger. On it, was a gorgeous engagement ring.

"I don't love him," she confessed, as she'd never had the ability to before. Her shoulders drooped.

"Why?" Jack asked.

"Because I care for another."

"And, who's that?"

"Well… it's you."