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It's a glorious day in the Caribbean, now that the storms have passed over. The sky is clear, as is the water -- a crystalline blue-green clarity, one that changes as one looks down to the depths.

As the Black Pearl floats at anchor in the mouth of a hidden cove, Captain Jack Sparrow is leaning over the side, doing just that-- watching the shifting changes in the bright ocean. Absentmindedly, he murmurs aloud,

"Fancy that-- the color's like her eyes used to be."
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As the door closes behind them, Jack strolls to the small dinghy beached in the cove, Alanna still over his shoulder. The Black Pearl lies at anchor a short distance out.

Grinning, Jack dumps Alanna gently into the boat and shoves off before hopping in and beginning to row.

"Here you are again, lass."
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Elsewhere, something happens once again.

And eventually, upstairs in a room at Milliways, Captain Jack Sparrow wakes up.

He stares into space for some time, head tilted sideways as though listening to a voice no one else can hear. Finally, a slow and devilishly wicked grin spreads across his face.

"Well, now. That was interesting."

Whistling softly -- yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirate's life for me -- Jack bolts from the bed and toward the nearest mirror, grabbing a small leather bag of beads on the way.
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Elsewhere, something happens.

And on the Black Pearl, Captain John "Jack" Richards wakes up.

He stumbles to the head, retching until his stomach is empty and his throat is dry, and then leans against the wall-- but in the process, the beads in his hair clatter and he freezes. Slowly, he reaches up to touch the braids.

"I must have been mad. Brain fever, surely."

Jack walks over to stand in front of a mirror and ruthlessly begins to undo the years of work, dropping each colorful bauble neatly and precisely in a pouch.

When he steps forth onto the deck of the Pearl, Captain Richards (Sparrow - Richards - Sparrow) is dressed as befits a prosperous merchant sailor. He wasn't able to do anything about the dark green and gold streaks (magic she had pink hair it was magic but that's mad) in his hair, but every bead is gone, and the hair itself has been trimmed neatly and tied at the base of his neck. Hands clasped behind him, he looks at the activity around him with surprised approval.

Mr. Gibbs hurries up to him. "That's a new look fer ye, Captain. Might you be plannin' something, then?"

Jack turns to face him. "And what business is that of yours, sir? Where's Bill Turner?"

Gibbs stares. "Bootstrap...? Captain, are you--" He breaks off as Jack brings one hand to his forehead, rubbing absently.

"Never mind, Gibbs. I remember, of course." (It's all a dream, or is it? Brain fever. I must still be sick. I've got to get-- I've got to get away.) "I'll be away from the Pearl for a time, however."

The pirate grins and slaps Jack on the shoulder with a wink, staggering him. "Right-o, Captain. I knew ye were planning something! We'll put ye ashore in the usual place, then? Should we wait, or...?"

Jack nods distractedly. "That'll do. That'll be just fine-- I don't know how long I'll be. Some days, at least. Carry on as usual, while I'm attending to matters, do you understand?"

Gibbs blinks at him, then shouts with laughter. "A merchant to the life! Aye, Jack, it's as you say then."

When the dinghy drops him on shore, Jack adjusts his jacket nervously, and then starts toward the cave.
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Some of this is obvious, some isn't. :)

* He's not entirely sane. He knows it. This doesn't bother him at all, and he likes Del rather a lot. He's more clever than people give him credit for, though, sane or not.

* The Pearl and freedom -- and the two are essentially equal in his mind -- are the most important things in the world to him. There's a reason for that, of course.

* Jack used to be a merchant, and partnered in trade with Bill Turner, until corruption and graft changed circumstances for them.

* There's a story to go with every bangle, bead, and piece of coin in his hair.

* Jack likes children. However, he has none of his own, and if he has any family left alive he's not admitting it. His only real love is the Pearl, his only "family" his crew.

* Because of the above, the previous crew's mutiny hurt him deeply. It may even be part of what drove him mad.

* He likes Milliways, even if he doesn't show up as often as he might.
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Jack strides across the beach toward a small boat, looking about as he does so. Still carrying Alanna over his shoulder, he cracks out an order to a couple of crew members, and they leap into action.

He steps aboard the rowboat, holding Alanna tightly, and they shove off and start towards the Pearl, which lies at rest in the inlet beyond, save only for the gentle motion of the sea.
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The door to Milliways shuts behind Ame and Jack, and they find themselves standing in the late afternoon sun on a sandy beach just outside the mouth of a small rocky cave. The Black Pearl lies at rest in the inlet just beyond, gently rocking back and forth with the motion of the turquoise waters.

Jack grins wickedly at Ame. "Well, luv, there she is-me freedom and dearest treasure, the Pearl." He is clearly pleased and proud and starts to lead her towards the ship, then stops and looks quizzically at her.

"What'll it be first, Ame, lass? A swim in the cove, a look at the Pearl, or is it off to Tortuga in search of something interesting to do?
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The tidal pull of the sea in his blood rouses Jack in the early morning. He dresses quickly, head cocked slightly as though listening to some distant music, and crosses the room to retrieve his hat from where it hangs on the point of a golden crown.

At the door, he turns and speaks softly to the fall of blonde hair that is all that can now be seen of the sleeping Fleur.

"Well, luv, it's been a pleasure indeed. I'd stay longer, but the Pearl calls me home."

Closing the door quietly behind him, Jack makes his way carelessly down the stairs and into the bar. Nodding a casual greeting to those present, he saunters across the room and out the front door, compass in hand.
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