The Last Opportune Moment for an Author's Note:

Hello, all my salty homefries! I just wanted you to know that I am proud of Meeting His Match, proud that it did so well and proud that all of you have given me so much support and nice words. I hope my fiction has given you much in return. On the other hand I am kind of depressed that it is ending, but who said there wasn't going to be a sequel? (wicked smile) Yes, my readers and reviewers, have no fear. I shall put my brain to work and think up more wonderful pirate hijinks, but after this I need to focus on Too Much Rum. I feel bad for neglecting it. Now, all of you, please enjoy Chapter 30, the last chapter of "Meeting His Match".

Gallagher: Stop it, ye git! You are makin' it all depressing and such, and ye keep wallowing and whining like it's the end o' the world!

PaL: I am not whining! But on the wallowing part, uh, perhaps a little.......

Jack: Don't be sad, ladies! Celebrate! Drinks all around!

PaL: I guess you're right. After all, a sequel shall be under way soon enough......

Jack: 'Tis a fine goal, to be sure, but make sure you add lots of Sparrow in the sequel!

(Gallagher rolls her eyes)

Jack: Uh, and the beautiful Gallagher as well, I suppose.

Gallagher: You suppose? Why I oughtta...........

Jack: I don't like violence, luv! Just let them read the last damn chapter!!!!!!!

PaL: Like I said: Enjoy, mates! I love all you scurvy readers!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two months later.....................

"Ye get back in there and put on a show or else I will throw yer ass out on the streets!" Eric roared, his fat face growing scarlet and his bulging belly jiggling with every step he took.

I took a calming breath and said, "I am not prancing around out in that Tavern like I'm for sale. Let yer whores do that. It's their job."

"Many of the men have asked for yer services," Eric stated with a growl, "And have asked for me to supply them with a show starring Terrence Gallagher."

"Well ye can tell them to piss off," I said sweetly, "I have a job to do and it's not to supply a hundred sexually starved men with a peek-a-boo show."

Eric swung his fist and I ducked just in time, dodging from his punch and causing him to sway off balance.

"Ye bastard," I seethed.

"Don't talk back to me, wench," he spat, "I have given ye a place to stay with my other girls in return that ye work for me. Whatever work I say, ye do."

This wasn't what I wanted. I needed the money, but I didn't want to be known as "Gallagher: The Seductress." No, I wanted to be "Gallagher: The Fiercest Female Pirate in the Caribbean." Life just didn't work that way.

It wasn't as if it was a hard task to carry out. I had done it before, and I'd do it again.

"Well, Gallagher? I'm waiting," Eric sneered, "Do ye really want to spend yer nights out on the dark streets of Tortuga?"

But did I really want to go back to the darkness? Did I really want to venture back into the black hole I had worked so hard to climb out of? The darkness of Tortuga I could live with, but becoming a whore was something I would not be able to bear. First my task would be a couple of shows a night, then slowly but surely, it would be a couple of men a night..............

"What's in yer head, ye stupid gel? Answer me!" Eric snarled impatiently.

The life of a prostitute would eat away at me until I was nothing. I would wither away.

"I've made up me mind," I said boldly, crossing my arms in front of my chest defensively.

"And.........?"

"Ye can go fuck yerself, Eric," I replied, "Because I turn down yer request. I see no profit in it for me."

"A place to stay, warm meals........isn't that profitable enuff for ye?" he cried in anger.

I shook my head, staring him straight in the eye.

"Stupid wench," he muttered, "Now go get yer stuff and get the hell out. I don't want to see yer face in here again, a'right?"

"Not like I would want to step foot in this rat infested pit again, anyways," I answered and made my way up the stairs before he shot me or punched my lights out.

It was dark: the lamps in the hallway providing only an eerie yellow glow. There was a room for each girl, and mine was the last one on the right. The Sharpened Blade was one of the raunchiest taverns located in the depths of Tortuga and it also served as a whorehouse. It was the only place that would take me in on such short notice and provide barmaid work as well. No working girl had talked to me during my month's stay, and I figured they feared me. I kept to myself and did not want to associate with those sick women. The girls got their own rooms for that was where they did their 'business' with their customers.

The sounds at night had gotten to me. Lovemaking was supposed to be a pleasurable experience, a ritual of deep understanding and enthrallment, but the noises torn from the throats of the people on the other side of the walls were enough to make me cringe.

I was overjoyed that I was leaving this personal Hell.

I threw the last of my things into a sack and threw it over my shoulder, taking one last sweeping glance over the musty room. The creaky bed was still unmade, the small table and chair still dusty. My old barmaid dress was slung over the chair. The room was barren and chilling, nothing at all like the Turner household.

How I missed them. I wished that I could have stayed in Port Royal, but the navy was right on my tail. I would never make it out of there alive if I didn't take the opportunity that presented itself to me. I bartered my best sword for passage to Tortuga. The old man let me onto his boat and did not bother me except when we idly chatted. His name had been Thomas, and he had been going home to see his wife. Fortunately, he was going to go past Tortuga on his travels.

I stomped out into the creaky hallway, shutting my wooden door for the last time when a young woman walked up to me. She was wearing a deep forest green dress and her eyes and lips were painted.

"Leaving so soon?" she sneered, "I knew ye couldn't handle it."

"Don't think I can't," I said back, "I would rather leave now then lose the last of my dignity."

"Only the best can partake in this kind of work," she said and slid her hands down her abdomen suggestively.

"Correction: only the lost souls partake in such work," I corrected, remembering Jack's wise words, "And I am no lost soul."

"You are a homeless wench, and you consider yourself not a lost soul?" she giggled bitterly.

I clamped my mouth shut and walked down the stairs, hearing her call out, "Try to bundle up: it's raining outside, dearie!" and then an evil cackle resounded throughout the Sharpened Blade.

I walked past Eric without even so much as a sideways glance, my head held high as I opened the door and walked out into the dreary night. The sky was cloudy and black, the rain pelted down on my back, stinging like sharp needles jabbing themselves individually into my cold flesh.

"Well this couldn't get any worse," I murmured. The rumbling of thunder reached my ears and lightning illuminated the streets.

A group of drunken men staggered past, singing off key and hollering out obscenities.

"Move it, whore!" one yelled and shoved me out of the way as they bumbled past. I lost my balance and fell into the mud.

"Stupid gits," I shouted and they laughed, pointing at me and then continuing on their way.

My things had fallen out of the sack in the midst of my fall, my precious belongings slowly sinking in the dark mud.

I struggled to clean them off, using my own shirt and paused as I reached the book 'Macbeth'.

Jack Sparrow. The book brought back the pain in vivid color. Two months since he left me alone in bed, two months since I had seen his smile, smelt that distinct salty aroma of him, heard his amusing chuckle. Two months was too damn long if you asked me.

I must have looked like a fool, lying in the mud in the middle of Tortuga, staring at a muddy book.

All at once I felt tired; the feelings washing over me reminded me of defeat. The rain grew steadier and heavier, almost as if the heavens were trying to drown me out of my misery.

Yet I did not want to be defeated.

Focus on the now, I thought, don't worry about the future just yet. Don't sheathe your sword just yet, Gallagher. You still have a fight to win.

I got up slowly, my weary limbs protesting with every movement. My black locks were plastered to my head, raindrops sliding down off of my eyelashes.

I suddenly got a strange need to be near the ocean, to hear the waves once more.

"Landlovers," I muttered, "What the 'ell's wrong with 'em?" Two months on land and I was going insane already.

I walked down to the docks; the squishing sound my boots made with every step I took made me giggle madly. A man walked by and cast me a dirty look, purposefully lengthening his strides so he could get away from me faster.

Yes, I thought with glee, Let them think I was crazy. At least then they would leave me the hell alone!

The ocean looked enraged: the large waves pounding and thrashing wildly, the lightning glowing against the water whenever it zigzagged across the sky.

I walked out to the dock, staring at nature in all of its fury, yet I was not afraid. I felt at peace standing there at the edge of chaos. Sitting on the dock, I leaned against a wooden post, my bag clutched tightly in my wet, numb hands. Closing my eyes, I drifted off, the steady drumming of the waves hitting the dock lulling me to sleep................

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I awoke smiling. It was a dream: so warm, so light, everything so peaceful.............. And I snuggled into the covers. Wait, covers? Where did those come from? My eyelids snapped open and I stared at the bed. I was naked in a bed. I did not recognize this cabin. The wood was new and polished, the floor clean. I opened my mouth to yell out a string of curses when a familiar voice said, "Keep it down, luv. The crew's still sleepin'."

It couldn't be. I swiveled my head and stared at Captain Jack Sparrow slouched in a chair comfortably, his bare feet resting on the foot of the bed.

My mouth agape, I stuttered, "What.....how.....I thought ye were gone........"

"Captain Jack Sparrow is never one to be predictable, Gallagher," he said and winked, standing up and hovering over me. I clutched the sheets to my bosom and shook my head in wonder.

"Why........"

"......did I come back?" he finished for me. Jack placed his hat on his head and said, "Well here I was, with a bunch o' treasure that I could spend however I wished, sailing off into the horizon with me crew and beloved Pearl."

Jack had his hands clasped behind his back, hiding something. I tried to peek and he turned his body, not allowing me to. He tsk tsked me in amusement.

"Curiosity killed the cat, luv," he said, "Wait till I'm done with me speech."

"To hell with yer speech," I murmured and grabbed him gently by the dreadlocks, my mouth finding his. He leaned over, his lips rubbing against mine sensuously; his hands remained at his back.

He broke away and said breathlessly, "Stop that or else I won't be able to contain meself."

"Where are me clothes?" I asked with a wicked smile.

"Dryin' out. Ye are crazy, sleepin' out in the rain like that."

I laughed, but my laughter soon died when I found him staring at me with a serious look.

"What is it, Captain?" I asked.

He presented a single white rose from behind his back, throwing it into my lap, the white petals matching the white sheets.

"Me bonny lass told me one night while she was dead drunk that she was fond o' flowers, and if I ever planned on wooing her, as it were, I should remember that lil' fact."

I picked up the flower and said with a grin, "So are ye wooing me, Captain?" I pulled him down for another kiss and he slid into the bed next to me, his arms wrapping around me as our lips molded together.

"I think ye already did that a long time ago," I whispered into his ear.

He winked and replied, "I work fast, luv. What can I say?" and shrugged innocently.

"One question, Captain."

"Yes, luv?" he whispered in a seductive tone, his eyelids half closed, his face an inch away.

"Where the hell are we?"

"Thought ye would never ask, me bonny lass!" he said giddily and jumped up, "Now get dressed and I will show ye, savvy?"

"What..........."

"No questions! Get a move on!" he ordered impishly and smacked me in the bottom. Jack rummaged through a chest at the end of the bed and came up with new clothes, a perfect white shirt and breeches that fit wonderfully. I pulled them on as Jack watched with a sly smile.

"Have ye no shame?" I said with my hands on my hips.

"Last time I checked, no," he answered truthfully. He watched my expression turn somber and he asked, "What's wrong, lass?"

"It feels like a dream. Where is the Pearl? Clearly we are on a ship, but this isn't the Pearl."

"She's anchored nearby," Jack said, adding a little hand gesture along with his reply. He took my hand and said devilishly, "I hope ye like the surprise."

"Surprise?"

He led me out into the sunlight, out onto the deck of this mysterious ship. Everything shined like new. There was still the faint smell of fresh wood drifting around, confirming my suspicions that this ship was recently built. I stared up at the clear blue sky and caught sight of clean white sails and a beautiful mast.

Jack walked me to the helm and I placed my hands on it, saying, "It's beautiful, Jack. Is this what you spent your treasure on? What are ye going to do with it now?"

Jack chuckled and said, "No, luv. The question is: what are YE going to do with it?"

My eyes widened and I stared at the helm. Examining the middle of the wheel more closely, I realized there was a symbol carved into it. The Dancing Horizon's symbol. I leaned over and ran my fingers over it in shock.

"Jack.........." I whispered.

He turned me to him and said softly, "A ship all to yer onesies, luv. Now ye can be a captain again."

"I can't accept this," I shook my head, "It's too great a gift. This, this is like life itself, Jack! Your treasure, ye could have........"

Jack placed a single finger to my lips and said with a smile, "Stop actin' like a pansy, Gallagher."

"Thank ye, Jack. From the bottom o' me heart."

"I thought ye said ye had no heart," Jack pointed out.

I smiled and said, "I think this calls for a celebration."

"Yer right! Drinks all around! All hail me precious rum!"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

An hour later I found myself back on the Pearl, singing and dancing with the crew. Ana Maria was dancing with Jack, Skip was playing his fiddle, the men were singing rowdy songs. I stood at the railing, staring out at my ship. MY ship. It was silly how one little phrase could mean so much to me.

My past could rest. I no longer grieved for that I had lost. Now I could live out my future as I wanted to.

Ana Maria stood next to me, breathless from dancing as she said, "He was really excited about it."

"Hmmmm?" I murmured, turning to face her.

"Went to Barbados and had it crafted just the way he imagined ye would like it." Ana Maria shook her head, pausing for a moment before adding, "Jack Sparrow is a changed man. I don't know what ye did to tha' bloke, but I never knew him to buy anything for anybody."

"Anybody?" I asked, eyebrows raised.

"Especially a ship," she continued, "He loves the Pearl. Offering someone else a ship is just unheard of in Sparrow's terms."

I was silent for a moment before saying, "Well he did have all that treasure. Perhaps he was feeling generous."

"He really loves yeh, ye know," Ana Maria stated quietly. My head whipped around to stare at her, thinking she was joking but she was dead serious.

I was about to reply when Jack ran up and shouted, "I love this song! It's really bad eggs!" as Skip readjusted the fiddle on his shoulder and began playing 'A Pirate's Life for Me.'

Jack bowed dramatically and said, "Care to dance, Miss Gallagher?"

I smiled and said, "Delighted, Cap'n." Taking his arm, I followed him out to the middle of the deck. Some men were singing, others just sat and stared with grins plastered onto their faces, watching as their joyous captain began to dance around, pulling me along with him. Jack owned a gracefulness I never knew he possessed as he twirled me around, his chocolate brown eyes twinkling, one arm wrapped possessively around my waist.

"So what now, Captain?" I asked of him, "Besides getting drunk!"

"Hm, that's a tough one. Whatever do ye mean, luv?" he said loudly over the music, laughter and chatter.

"Ye said yerself that we are captains, therefore soon we shall go our separate ways, am I correct?" I said back.

"Drink up me 'earties yo ho!" he murmured with the music before answering, "Yer right, me bonny lass. Captains should never neglect their ships!"

The song ended and loud cheering erupted. We clapped for Skip, who was bowing with fiddle in hand. Some of the men were yelling, "Encore! Encore!" and downing mugs of rum in a toast.

Jack didn't let go of me even though the song had ended. I watched as pulled me tighter against him and he leaned in close, his mouth settling gently over mine in one long, delicious kiss.

We ignored the hoots and hollers coming from the Black Pearl crew, only to be lost in each other's embrace, lost in the passionate kiss.

My fingers snaked into his dreadlocks and I broke away, our noses touching as I whispered, "So I guess after tonight, Sparrow, it all ends."

"No luv," Jack said, stroking the side of my face, "This is where it begins."

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There you have it! The end of MEETING HIS MATCH! A sequel will be under way. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of me heart, especially those who seem to review TEN times a day! (cough) You know who you are! Now I want to take this chance to tell all of you about some pretty awesome PotC fics out there that deserve big gold stars and lots o' reviews!

What the Morning Brings - kiare

A Silver Doubloon - Ildera

The Haunting Place - Citadel

Secrets of the Caribbean - Plateado

Love or Money - whereistruth

Take What You Can - Bananas51

Sui Generis - Pirate Gyrl

Call of the Caribbean - Ebony

Crocodile Huntah of the Caribbean! - The Noble Platypus

These fics are all bloody brilliant. Thank you, all my lovely reviewers and readers, big cyber hug for each individual one of you, and until next time, be really bad eggs!

-PineAppleLint : )