Notes: On the importance of legends. Heavily features my first ever OC, Will and Elizabeth's son. Tell me if you like him!
James Turner, called Jack by his parents, had pirate's blood.
It was Mr Gibbs who first awoke it, when the boy was ten.
"You want to know about Jack Sparrow, lad? Well, what can I tell you that you haven't already heard...? Jack Sparrow was larger than life. I knew him well, and the best word to describe him is 'legend'."
When the boy questioned him further, Gibbs consented to keep talking. Once again, he told young Jack the much-loved story of the sea turtles, with the embellishments added by Captain Sparrow himself over the years, and, encouraged by the lad's rapt attention, began to tell other tales.
"Have you ever heard, m'boy, about the curse of the Black Pearl? Your own parents played a part in that particular adventure, though I'm sure they've never mentioned it, respectable as they are these days. 'Tis a tale of mutiny and betrayal, of blood and love and loyalties. A tale of pirates. And Aztec gold."
"Tell me! Tell me!" the boy begged.
Gibbs grinned, pleased to have such an eager audience. "I'll tell you what I know, young Jack, but there are things I never saw for myself. You'd have to ask others about those. Your parents will be able to tell you a lot. But here's the story as I know it..."
When Gibbs had finished his recitation, Jack sat silent for a moment. Finally, he burst out, "Is that all?"
Gibbs looked at him seriously. "That's all I know, lad. Yes, there are gaps. I wasn't in the caves on Isla de Muerte, and I wasn't on the square in Port Royal when they tried to hang Cap'n Jack. Better you hear those parts of the tale from one who saw them first hand, and you'll have to ask others for that. A word of advice - go to Admiral Norrington before you ask your parents. He'll be able to tell you what kind of man Jack Sparrow was."
Norrington was pleased to see him, this boy who was the closest thing he'd ever had to a son who'd lived (and, he thought somewhere in the back of his mind, a good prospect for one of his daughters when they were old enough).
"Well, young James", he said warmly. "What brings you to see me today?"
"I want to know about Jack Sparrow", the boy blurted without preamble. "I heard you might be able to tell me."
Of all the things Norrington might have expected to be asked, that was the last. "Heard from who, I wonder? No, I think I can guess. Gibbs has been telling his tales again, has he?" He sighed. "I know very little about Jack Sparrow. But our paths did cross, yes. And if you really want to know, I'll tell you."
"I do want to know! Please!"
"Very well. Who was Jack Sparrow? He was a pirate. The worst pirate and one of the best and noblest men I ever heard of. He was the only man who ever persuaded me to bend the law and allow him to escape, on the very day we were to hang him, if you can credit it.
"I once saw him dive from the side of a ship into a rocky bay to save your mother's life, before he even knew who she was. And he and your father stole two of the best ships in our fleet to go to her rescue when she was kidnapped. He was larger than life, and twice as insane. How could I have a man like that hanged, when he gave me the chance and the excuse to let him go?
"As to the truth behind the tales of the Black Pearl, I know very little. If you want details, you'll have to ask your parents. But I do know that Jack Sparrow faced the infamous pirate Barbossa, alone, and killed him in single combat. For that alone, without all the rest, he would have my respect. And if I ever see him in Port Royal again, I will look him in the eye and shake his hand before, with great regret and only if it is unavoidable, I have him executed. For myself, I hope he never returns here.
"Well, James, I've told you all I know. I hope it answers at least some of your questions."
The boy nodded mutely, and Norrington placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and turned him towards the door.
"Go on home now. Only your parents can tell you the rest of the story. Off you go and ask them."
James flashed a sudden smile, and dashed for home.
It didn't take him long to get there, to seek the final parts of the mystery whose solution he longed to know. When he arrived, he found that his mother was visiting with friends, but his father was at home.
Jack would not understand for some years why, when he asked about Jack Sparrow, his father began to laugh and did not stop for some time. When he had finally regained his breath, he sat his son down in the parlour and started to talk.
"I always knew you'd ask about Jack one day. I've been waiting for this for years. Well, son, I'll tell you all you want to know. Let's start with the plain facts, shall we?
"Much of what you've heard about the Black Pearl is probably true. There really was a curse on the crew, brought on by the Aztec gold they stole, that Gibbs told you about. They were doomed to sail, never ageing, never dying, never feeling, until the curse was broken - and as Gibbs has undoubtedly also told you, your mother and I were instrumental in breaking the curse.
That day in the caves on Isla de Muerta, the story finished. My father was one of the cursed ones, and in his absence, my blood on the coin he gave me was needed to break it. By that point, Jack had taken a coin, too, just to know for himself what the curse was like, I believe. He cut his hand and threw that coin to me, and I did the same. Then he shot Barbossa with his one bullet. Before the old villain had a chance to heal, I broke the curse. And that is how Barbossa died.
"It would take hours to tell you everything that happened on our voyage to the Isle, and you've probably already heard most of it. But there is one very important fact you need to know: Jack Sparrow was just a man, a mortal man. And I got a letter from Anamaria, years ago, telling me that Jack the mortal man had gone down with the Pearl, just the way he'd have wanted it.
"But Jack, you have to understand - facts are fine things, but they are not always truth. The reason everyone knows Jack Sparrow's name has nothing to do with the facts of his life. No, it's everything to do with his legend. And as far as the world is concerned, Jack's legend has become the truth. I know that he's dead, and even I am more than half-convinced I'll see him down at the docks one day, stepping off another sinking ship as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
"Always remember that. In the only truth that matters, Jack and the Pearl are still out there, having fantastical adventures and building more legends, and they always will be. Do you understand?"
"Yes, father", the boy answered dutifully, although it wasn't wholly true. He didn't understand everything Will had told him. Not yet. But he would, before he was very much older. And he would never forget.
When Jack Turner was fifteen, he ran away. The note he left for his parents told them that he had gone to find Jack Sparrow for his training. Only Will understood.
Filled with sorrow-tinged pride, Will and Elizabeth could only hope they'd see their boy again one day. They did, on very rare occasions, and then he stopped coming home altogether. But they heard the stories. Norrington made sure to relay them whenever he was told of a new exploit of Mad Jack.
Jack Turner was off building his own legend, spurred on by the kind of immortality his father had promised came with such things, and by the spirit of his namesake.
And somewhere out there, on the open ocean, aboard his beloved Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow smiled and sailed on.