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Just the Way it Should Be

By KRRouse

Drama / Adventure

Moonlit Prison

(Disclaimer: I do not own Pintel, Ragetti, or Pirates of the Caribbean, though like most Fanfic writers, I really wish I did.)

Just the Way it Should Be

There was a full moon out that night.

It shown clearly in the night sky, glowing softly overhead as it cast its silvery light down on Port Royal. A still, almost tomblike silence had fallen over the small town at this hour, as every man, woman, and child had gone to their beds some time ago. Not a soul was stirring in the peaceful town that night.

Save for one.

Locked away in the dingy old jail cell that he'd come to know and despise for what felt like an eternity now, Pintel sat with his back against the iron bars as he stared at the floor before him in deep thought.

It had to be ten months now. It had to have been ten months since they'd brought him to this place. Ten miserable months since the curse had been lifted, and the crew of the Black Pearl had departed from the dreaded Isla de Muerta as prisoners of the British Navy.

Playing those events over again in his head, Pintel frowned to himself. Prisoners.

The thought of the word sickened him, so much so that he hardly even gave a thought to the dim moonlight shining through his cell window, now showing him to be a mortal man once again. It wasn't worth celebrating, he'd decided; now, he had an equally terrible—if not worse—fate to live with.

Pintel raised his eyes to stare at the opposite wall of bars just then. Only seven members of the captured crew—exactly half—had been taken away to the gallows since their arrest. He didn't know why the chaps running this jail had kept the other seven of them alive for so long. Maybe they wanted to research each of the pirates' backgrounds further; to dig up as many of the sea rats' past charges against the crown as possible, for when the time did come to hang another one. Or maybe the soldiers of Port Royal just found it sadistically amusing to watch their captives slowly lose their minds in these filthy cages.

It was this last thought that made Pintel turn his attention to the other man in his cell. The lanky figure was slouched on the bench beneath the window as he slept, with his spindly legs drawn tightly up against his chest and his chin wedged between his knees.

Of all the still living crewmen, Ragetti had probably suffered and lost the most from this ten-month nightmare. Gone was the giddy, child-like rascal that Pintel had grown to know over the years, now replaced by a sulking, bitter-minded wretch. Rags rarely even spoke anymore, and he always stayed huddled up by himself on that bench, glaring daggers at the empty air in front of him. He was forever lost in his own dark thoughts now.

Pintel often wondered how his younger mate had even managed to cling to his optimistic outlook for as long as he had, what with all the misery that he'd run into before this. It was probably that optimism alone that had pulled Ragetti through the horrors of his unhappy life; the neglectful, miserable childhood, the loss of his eye, the curse…

And now, even the few tiny shards of hope that he had scraped together from that mess were gone, as life had dealt him another, far more terrible card.

Pintel furrowed his brow as he remembered the day they'd all been herded into this prison. Rags had not gone willingly into his captivity. The scrawny pirate, with absolute terror plastered on his pale face, had made one last break for freedom as he was being dragged towards the cells. He'd managed to wrench his thin arms free from the soldiers' grasps and had bolted away, directionless, as fast as his legs could carry him.

He hadn't gotten more than a meter. The soldier behind him had seen the pitiful escape attempt coming, and sent Ragetti reeling with one blow of his rifle's butt. And then two more of the uniformed dogs had joined in with their weapons, and had beaten Rags so badly into submission that by the time they finally threw him inside that cell, he wouldn't even let Pintel come near him.

The optimism had been dead ever since.

But it was the events of this afternoon, ten months after their arrest, that were bothering Pintel tonight.

Ragetti had been silently studying his hand earlier that day, locking his heated gaze onto the long brown scar on his palm. His older cellmate, with his eyes closed and his back against the adjacent wall, had paid him no mind.

And then Rags had spoken.

"It was a right foul fing, what we done to Cap'n Sparrow," he'd grumbled, never looking away from his hand.

Pintel had snapped his eyes open and stared up at the other man. The sound of that voice had become almost foreign to him. "Wot?"

"Mutinizin' against 'im," Ragetti had explained impatiently. "Leavin' 'im on that island t'die. We done it to 'im twice!"

The other had scoffed, recovering from his stupor. "So wot yeh sayin'? Yeh likes the chump now? It's his bloody fault that we're even in here!"

"It ain't Cap'n Sparrow's fault." Ragetti had turned to meet Pintel's eye sharply as he gave this cold response. Then he'd placed his chin back on his knees and resumed staring at the ugly remnant of his blood debt. "I doesn't feel sorry for us."

These words had been haunting Pintel ever since, and they continued to plague him now as he watched his despondent friend sleeping.

Prison had taken its final toll. Ragetti had completely given up his desire for freedom, the same freedom that he'd once struggled so desperately to keep. And even he, Pintel, was becoming resigned to his own lifelessness as well. How many times had he tried to bribe that flea-bitten mongrel into bringing them the keys that first month? It'd seemed like he couldn't go a whole day without reaching through the bars, a piece of bread clutched in his hand, waiting for freedom to scamper up to him. Now, he did nothing but sit on the floor and drearily wonder if another pirate would be taken away today. Their prison was consuming them.

Pintel turned his head and squinted out through the jail bars to the space outside his cell. Even in the shadows, he could see the little gray dog lying on the floor, growling softly in its sleep. He'd become used to watching the stubborn animal over these ten months, and he'd also become quite familiar with its daily routine.

The guards of Port Royal's prison weren't daft; they knew that their captives would try to lure the hairy little key-keeper into their reaches with food. That was why, whenever they went down to give the prisoners their stale, moldy bread, they made sure to feed the dog as well. However, as detached as he'd grown from his escape plots, Pintel still couldn't help but notice the one small flaw in their plan: they only fed the pirates—and the dog—once a day.

What did he have to lose? He was already facing either death at the gallows or an eternity of rotting in jail. The soldiers could do nothing worse to him. And his ticket to freedom was just lying a few arm lengths away…

His mind was made up. Squaring his jaw, Pintel reached into the pocket of his weathered old jacket and retrieved the crusted morsel of bread that he'd saved from the day's mealtime. He watched the dog for a moment, gathering his voice, then slowly, he reached through the bars once again and held out his meek offering.

"Oi!" he whispered loudly, shaking his elbow slightly to jangle the cell door. A strange anxiousness had come over him suddenly. "Oi, doggy! Wake up, boy! Wake up!"

He'd rattled the iron hinges a little louder on this last command, and to his stunned glee, the furry animal started from its sleep and sat up guardedly. The keys clinked softly together, still dangling from the large ring clenched in its teeth.

Pintel grinned at the dog as he reached out further. "C'mon, boy! C'mere! Come on, doggy. Old Pinters has a nice big treat for yeh."

"It ain't no use, Pinters."

Startled, Pintel instinctively jumped and whirled around to see Ragetti staring at him from the bench. Seeing that his words had been heard, the younger man continued.

"The dog ain't movin'. You've tried getting' 'im to give up the keys millions of times. They all 'ave, and 'e never does."

Pintel shrugged. "Well one more try ain't gonna 'urt nuffin'."

"All it's gonna do is prove once and for all that we don't got no more luck wif us."

This earned a disgusted snort from the other pirate. "We got plenty of luck left. You just give up too easily."

Ragetti wrinkled his nose. "No. I just knows when to let things go."

Pintel ignored this comment. "Listen," he said reasonably. "They only feeds that dog once a day, the same time they feeds us. But he's a little chap! A couple pieces a' bread ain't gonna last 'im. He's gotta be starvin'! We wave this stuff in front of 'im long enough, he's bound to come over."

Ragetti fell silent. He moved his pointed gaze from Pintel and cautiously over to the dog, which blinked back at him vacantly. A moment of stillness passed as he focused on the animal, showing it a deep sense of awareness and regard that he'd rarely shown to his fellow man. And then the cold, harsh light returned to his eyes.

"To blazes w'that mangy mutt." He turned his head away to tuck his chin back in between his knees.

Pintel was absolutely stunned as he stared at Ragetti. Then he sat up straight, forgetting his task for the moment, and pulled his arm back inside the cell. These words had caught him far more off guard than any of the other comments his friend had snarled from that bench.

"I can't believe you just said that," he uttered stiffly, scolding. "You used to like dogs, Rags!"

"I used to like a lot a' fings b'fore we was thrown in here."

Their exchange was ended. Completely at a loss for any more words, Pintel sighed to himself, leaned back against his wall, and, after giving it a final miserable thought, let the piece of bread fall from his hand. It really was no use.

What had happened to his friend? Where had that silly little gawk-eyed boy gone to, and why had he left his body so suddenly, without leaving some trace behind to ward off those unhappy memories? What had become of Ragetti was sad, but the memory of what he used to be made his transformation nothing short of tragic. And now, memories were all Pintel had left of that trusting, optimistic lad he'd met twenty years ago.

And so it was his memories that he looked to as he sat in the moonlight.

-

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(I noticed that Ragetti was a little tougher and more rebellious in "Dead Man's Chest" than he was in "Curse of the Black Pearl." My guess is prison toughened him up a bit. The next chapter will start Pintel's flashback.)

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