Disclaimer:  If you haven't figured out by now that they're not mine, no one in the world can help you.

AN:  This is the last chapter in this story.  I would like to request something that drives my friends absolutely nutters but that helps me immensely.  If those who have the time could tell me what they liked best and worst about my story (either by chapter or plot point), I would be grateful.  Please also point out any inconsistencies or historical inaccuracies that you might have noticed.  Enjoy the end (hopefully).

A Taste of Misery

Part 25

Ana-Maria slipped quietly in the door, silently cursing Will Turner for making it this easy for her.  She had warned him about setting the locks.

She grasped the dagger tightly in her right hand, dreading what she had to do.  She would finish what should have ended two months ago and be on her way, telling the crew that Jack had died of his injuries over a month ago.

The only one who would ever know the truth would be her . . .and Will Turner.

Walking carefully around the table, she was stopped by the feel of a blade against her throat.

"What is it that I'm supposed to tell ye, love?  Oh, that's right, I'm supposed to jump up and tell you that you're wrong, that I'm Captain Jack Sparrow and nothing in this god's-cursed bloody world can hurt me, savvy?"

Ana-Maria turned to look at the speaker.  "Jack . . .Jack, you're all right."

The pirate captain nearly fell as the woman launched herself at him, grabbing him in a tight hug around the neck that almost strangled him.

Then she leapt back and slapped him across the face.  "Don't ye e'er do that to me again, Jack Sparrow!  Do you have any idea what hell you've put me—the crew—through for these past two months?  Oh, God forgive me, Jack, I was going to . . ."

"You were going to do what would be right under any other circumstances, love.  I don't blame ye.  I hope I have the courage to do that for a friend if the need ever arises.  Keep your voice down, though . . .ye really don't want to wake your namesake.  She's got a fine healthy set of lungs in her."

"My namesake . . .?"

Jack gestured towards the bedroom, and Ana-Maria moved forward hesitantly.  When she entered the room, Will, who had been sitting fully clothed on the edge of the bed, lit the lamp.

"We were expecting you sometime soon."  Will smiled and gestured towards the crib in the corner, handing the lamp to Ana-Maria.

"There's two of them!"  Will, Elizabeth and Jack laughed softly.

"The one with the pink ribbon is Ana.  The other one is Jack."

Ana-Maria chuckled softly.  "Do they have godparents?"

"Ana's godfather is Commodore Norrington; Brian Lanebridges, the young redcoat from the garrison, is Jack's."

"May I . . .?"  At Elizabeth's nod, the female pirate gently lifted the girl out of the crib, holding her gently.  "They're beautiful, Will, Elizabeth."

"Thank you."

Ana-Maria looked closer at her captain, dressed in respectable clothes despite the rest of his appearance.  "Are you certain that you wish to return to the Pearl?"

Jack smiled tiredly.  "I don't have much choice.  I'm slated to hang in five days."


"It was Norrington's idea to set a date, that could be pushed back if the Pearl didn't show.  It seems that England still wishes for Jack's head."  Will stared at the pirate, something like sympathy in his eyes.

The Turner's bid farewell to the pirates shortly before dawn.

"Don't be such a stranger this time, Jack.  Write us.  Drop by.  Raid Port Royal.  The garrison could use some shaking up."

Jack smiled.  "I won't be a stranger, Will, but it's rather difficult for a pirate to know where he's going next."

Jack held out his hand to shake, only to find himself pulled into a hug by first Will and then Elizabeth.

"We'll miss you, Jack."

"I'll miss you, too, lad.  I'll miss ye as well, Elizabeth.  Thank you . . .for everything."

"We'll miss you, too, Ana-Maria.  Stop by sometime."

"I'll follow Jack.  It seems he needs someone to watch his back for him at all times."  The pirate captain stared at the woman in mock outrage.  The two set up a friendly banter as they started off down the road and disappeared into the night, headed back to Jack's horizonless world.

Will and Elizabeth waited until the last sounds had died away before entering the house again.  A splash of red against the tabletop caught Will's eye.

"What is it, Will?"

"It's Jack's bandana—or one exactly like it.  He must have left it here."  Will picked it up and was surprised to feel objects inside it.

Unfolding the bandana, he caught his breath.  One carving was the one that he and Jack had been working on before.  Fully finished, it showed a sparrow in flight, graceful and free.

The second carving was made from a darker wood, the polished sheen of the carving a mixed brown-black.  Again it was a sparrow, but this one was falling, not flying.  Three tiny splashes of red drew the eye to a sword embedded in the carved bird's abdomen.

"Will, they're beautiful . . .that must have been what he was working on . . ."

Elizabeth gently stroked a finger along the length of each bird.

Will nodded mutely, turning his attention back to the bandana as it crunched when he rested his arm on it.  He withdrew a small slip of brown parchment.

The writing was large and plain but legible.  Smiling slightly, he handed the note to Elizabeth.

"He didn't have to do this . . .I couldn't forget this time . . ."

"He knows that, Will.  This is repayment for the sword . . .and the friendship."

Will nodded, drawing his wife close as they made their way to their bedroom, careful not to wake the children.

The note had been brief and direct, a single bold word in the pirate's unassuming script: