"Plus on est de fous, plus on rit."
The more fools, the more laughter (the more, the merrier).

Elizabeth found her way through the narrow, dirty streets with great easiness, so Will could tell that she must have been to Tortuga more than once before. She'd been rather tight-lipped about the months she had spent aboard the Black Pearl, and though Will was not in love with her anymore, he was slightly offended. After all, she'd been his fiancée back then, and while his own behaviour on that island was not exactly exemplary for faithfulness and chastity, he felt he had a right to know what had been going on between Elizabeth and Captain Jack Sparrow.

"You seem to be familiar with the place," he tried his luck, careful not to stumble over a drunkard who had fallen asleep right in the middle of the muddy street.

"Guess so," was the short reply. Will had problems keeping up with Elizabeth; she wove through the crowd like a snake through the bushes. He finally resorted to elbowing and pushing people out of the way so not to lose her; maybe not a very polite thing to do, but this was Tortuga. Here, politeness was not a necessity, but a reduction of life expectation.

After what seemed to be hours they finally arrived outside of a shabby tavern. It was not the one they had found Norrington in the last time, and for that, Will was very grateful. He hadn't really minded back then, but now, having been in the same pitiable state as Norrington used to be quite frequently this last year, he didn't want to be reminded of it.

While he followed Elizabeth into the tavern, he wondered what state Norrington might be in now, after so many days in the hands of pirates. Was he even still alive? He had to be. He couldn't just go and leave him here alone. That aside, he had Gillette with him. Will hated the smug, arrogant bastard with the flaming passion of a thousand suns, but he also knew that Norrington's first lieutenant would rather die than see any harm coming to his captain.

Will remembered the look Gillette had given him aboard the Joyful Molly after they had been rescued. Disgust, anger - but also sadness. Why had he been sad? Norrington had been safe, everything was fine. Was it possible that-

"There he his!" Elizabeth yelled, and Will couldn't finish his train of thought. He saw a man diving behind a table for cover, taking a bottle of rum with him.

"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" he yelled, and Will knew that they'd found the one they'd been looking for.

"No matter what it is, it will always be you who has done it!" Elizabeth snapped. "Now come up here, we've got something to discuss!"

Will saw the upper half of Jack Sparrow's face appearing behind the table. Next to him stood Gibbs, clutching his bottle. Pintel, Ragetti and a third pirate stared at them, but the only one armed and ready to fight was Anamaria, who aimed her pistol at Elizabeth.

"She really was my cousin, luv, I swear! I just helped her into that dress, and then we fell over on the bed and-" Jack croaked from behind the table.

"Spare me that nonsense! We're here about important business, so try to be a man and talk to me!"

Now all of Jack Sparrow's head could be seen, and unlike Will and Elizabeth, the pirate hadn't changed a bit. The same shaggy black mane and beard, adorned with ridiculous beads and braids, the bandana and old hat. On second look, though, there were dark shades under his eyes, but that had to be expected. Judging from the empty bottles strewn on the ground and the table, the captain and some selected crew members of the Black Pearl must have roistered for hours already.

Jack looked around and spotted Will. A wide smile spread over his face. Still holding the bottle, he waved his arms, dousing Gibbs in rum.

"Will my lad, how good to see you again! An' alive! I hope you're not engaged to dear Elizabeth again, I'd have to shoot you. Did you have enough of the navy? Came to see your old friends? Now that's my boy! C'me here and have a drink with us, first round's on me! Or rather, on Gibbs, I'm not having any money on me. Gibbs, you have money? No? Peters, you? No problem, somebody will have, if not, we just go and plunder a village."

Will sighed. Yes, that was just who he needed to rescue James Norrington: a half-crazy drunk pirate with a crew consisting of lunatics. Meanwhile, Jack had stood up and tried to brush the dirt off his clothes, alas to no avail. After all those years, the dirt had become part of his clothing. He looked like he'd spent the last nights in a pigsty, and he also smelled like it.

Anamaria lowered the pistol, but it was clear to see that she was not pleased with the presence of the two visitors. Elizabeth gave her the most arrogant smile she could manage. Jack wiggled around Anamaria towards Elizabeth, and when he stood in front of her, he scraped and attempted to kiss her hand.

"Ah, Elizabeth, beautiful as ever, luv. Been bored in Port Royal, aye? Had enough of the wigs? I'd expected you sooner here, my little moray. I must say I'm very happy that you've finally decided to come and apologise for the cruel treatment of my noble person."

Elizabeth's eyes grew wide like saucers.

"Apologise? Apologise? You... you..."

"Warty pig?" Jack suggested helpfully. "Illegitimate child of a female dog? Incrusted content of a smallpox pustule?"

"All of that and then some!"

Jack smiled, baring all his gold teeth at her and batting his lashes.

"It's quite alright, luv, I forgive you, no need for sweet talking. Old Jack knows that you're a bit uptight. Now that you're back, I won't hold your behaviour against you, and we'll live happily ever after."

Elizabeth howled like a banshee. Amazing how such a small woman could cause such a commotion, and fascinating how an old warhorse of a pirate like Captain Jack Sparrow could still look at her with the same wonder and admiration as a little boy would show while looking at a piece of candy.

Will's imagination was quick to produce some images of a rather disturbing kind involving Elizabeth and Jack upon that thought, and he shook his head, shuddering.

"Jack, we need your help," he said, and picked up a chair which had been thrown over. "Come, sit down, we have important things to discuss."

Jack stroked his beard, giving Will a sly look. Then he sat down, and his crew also gathered around the table. The innkeeper brought more rum and wine, and soon they all sat hunched over their tankards, waiting for Will and Elizabeth to explain themselves.

Will looked around, just to be sure nobody was eavesdropping. He took a swig of rum, pulled a face and put it aside.

"Jack, a pirate has captured HMS Joyful Molly, James Norrington's ship. He's taken him and one of his officers hostages. We don't know why or what for, but we suspect that bloated toad of a lord who has collared all of Port Royal and half of the Caribbean has his fingers in it. We need a ship to find Norrington, and an experienced crew. We need you and the Black Pearl, Jack."

Elizabeth was touched. Will would never change. He wasn't able to act, pretend or lie; the truth was always so obvious to see in his face. He'd rather died than ask Jack to do something for himself, but now that James Norrington was concerned, he didn't hesitate a second to beg. If she'd had any doubts about the nature of Will's feelings, this would have been the moment to see the truth. But while this was all sweet and touching and honourable, it wouldn't get him anywhere with Jack.

And she was right.

Jack and his crew nodded sympathetically, bemoaning the evilness of the world in general and Lord Cutler Beckett specifically. Jack patted Will's hand, shaking his head sadly.

"A tragedy. Tragically tragic. He was a good man, that Norrington. Best commodore I've ever had on the Pearl. I'll say a prayer for his soul, or have somebody else doing it."

"But I don't need your prayers!" Will cried out in desperation. "I need your help! The Black Pearl is fast, you know people who could tell us who captured the Molly and where to find her! We could take the Molly back and rescue Ja- Norrington and his - git!"

Everybody shook their heads in synchrony while uttering muffled statements of regret. Elizabeth decided that enough was enough. She reached over the table and poked Jack in the chest.

"We're wasting our time with that nonsense. Tell them to get off their arses and on the ship already, Jack!"

He shrugged.

"I'm truly sad upon hearing about poor not-commodore Norrington's fate, luv. But what can I do? I have business to attend, a crew to look after. You can certainly not expect me to risk ship, men, monkey and parrot to rescue a stiff in a wig."

"Oh, and how I expect that!" she hissed, hitting her fist on the table.

"Elizabeth... petal..." Jack tried to placate her.

"Don't you try to sweet-talk me, Jack! Get those drunkards aboard the Black Pearl! We'll be there in the morning at sunrise, and you better be prepared then!"

"My little moray..."

Elizabeth threw her tankard after Jack, and he quickly dove behind Gibbs for safety.

"Either you'll help us, or I'll tell everybody that Captain Jack Sparrow is in fact a..."

"Psssst! Be quiet, woman! That's private!" Jack hissed, looking desperate and embarrassed.

"Private, my arse! You'll help us, or else! And there's gold in there for you, too. I'm sure that whoever captured the Molly is more successful in the pirate-business than some other good-for-nothing scoundrel I could name here! Do we have an accord?"

Jack, still hiding behind Gibbs and the table, nodded.

"Yes, luv. Accord. Whatever you want. According on the accord, accordingly. Gold is good, we'll be there. Just stop yelling, and make sure you don't lose Will the boy on the way back, he gets distracted so easily."

"Don't worry about Will. I'll look after him."

With that, Elizabeth stormed out, followed by a flustered Will. The crowd parted to give them way, and only when the two had left, Jack dared to stand up.

"What a woman. Such temper! Such spirit!"

"With all due respect, captain, but I pity the man who has to marry her one day. Bloody hell, that's one little hellion if I've ever seen one! She'll lead her man around by a yoke!"

Jack grinned and stroked his beard.

"Gibbs, you're a philistine. And you don't know a good thing when you see it."

He still stared at the door for a little while, a doting expression on his face. Then he turned around and yelled at his crew.

"What are you staring at, you miserable scabby dogs! Off your arses and to the Pearl! We have two wigs to find!"

Everybody jumped up to follow the captain's orders.

"I don't understand that," Pintel said, scratching his head. "I thought we're going for gold? What's that with the wig and the commodore now?"

"I'm not quite sure," Ragetti replied. "But it seems that Mr. Turner is very fond of Commodore Norrington."

"That doesn't make sense. Why should he be fond of Commodore Norrington?"

Ragetti shrugged.

"Well I don't know. Maybe he fancies the uniform? Some people do, you know."

Pintel shook his head and rolled his eyes.

"I'll never understand the Navy."

* * *

Ragetti's random notes: I would like to point out that Elizabeth didn't protest once when Jack called her "my little moray".

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Dramatis Personae
The Stories
CHAPTER 7: And Once Again Tortuga
by Molly Joyful