Quite a lot of Will wished he could be a fly on the wall when Jack went to the home to his baby bride. However, wisely figuring that would earn him another round of Jack's dirtiest fighting, he decided to stay out of it. He contented himself with trying to imagine how that meaning would go.

Jack stood outside the little house, which, he could tell, was completely empty. He took two steps back and thought about throwing stones at the window. His wife was supposed to be here, his wife and the man he set to guard her all those years ago. Where were they?

A door across the way opened and he turned to see a blowsy woman lean out and call, "If yer looking for Miss Bridie what lives there, she goes to market every morning. She's a slow one, likes to look. Ye'll be waiting some."

"It's Mrs. Birdie," he yelled back, aggrieved. "Mrs. Birdie Sparrow," he added, in the same tone of voice he always said, "Captain, Captain Jack Sparrow."

The woman blew out half a laugh, "Birdie ain't got no man 'cept that Whistler, and he's a father to her. Well, and that boy, Li'l Jackie, but he's from her own kind heart and not her belly." The woman clucked her tongue at him and goes back inside her house, shutting the door loudly behind her as she did.

"No man she says," Jack grumbled under his breath. "Birdie's got a man. She's got me, don't she? Birdie's always had a man."

Frustrated with how badly this was already going, before he had even laid eyes on his woman again, he managed a casual saunter over to sit on the stoop of his Birdie's house to wait on her. He never thought of her doing simple things, things like going to market and taking the baby out. He never thought of him waiting on her.

The shadows had moved five inches before Birdie and Whistler come back. Birdie was like Will said, all sharp bones and glittering eyes and she was every inch as eye-catching as Jack thought she would be. Those fine and beautiful bones were shown to excellent advantage by sun-touched skin and no-color hair.

She was shorter than he had expected she would be and that's a shock. Shouldn't that all that spirit have stretched her some? But her eyes were his Birdie's eyes, wild as a storm rolling over the seas and he figured he was right all those years ago, when he decided she was the one for him, so he came to his feet in a smooth sweep of motion and bowed to her, whisking his hat off in a gallant's gesture as he did so. "Hullo, Birdie. Heard you were looking fer me."

Birdie and Whistler stopped dead in their tracks. "Cap'n Jack?" Birdie breathed and that wasn't like her but he took a look again and saw that the beautiful wild child he remembered was now actually hidden under a mother. She had a baby all wrapped up in swaddling clothes in her arms and he wondered how he could've been looking at her so long and only just now see the child. "That yer other Jack?" he asked, feeling the fool.

"S'my Jackie," she said with pride but he saw that she looked awkward around him now, scared and shy and he hated it. When she was a little girl, she would come running up to him like she owned him, would wrap her bony little baby arms around his legs and crow in joy when she saw him. This Birdie, this grown woman with the babe in her arms, she wasn't going to dropping that boy anytime soon to wrap her arms around her husband. Maybe he oughtn't have stayed away so long.

" He'll be a year ina few weeks," she added a minute or so later, when the silence had grown too long. She was looking at her son's face and not at him and he wished again she would be the girl he had known and not this strange woman.

"I 'ave been away too long, ain't I?" Jack asked and he took a careful step towards her, chary, like she might break if he moved too fast or too rough. He had never thought of Birdie as fragile afore this.

Whistler watched them for a moment and, after a long stare that Jack had no trouble as reading that Whistler had transferred all his formidable loyalty to Birdie as the years passed, he took the baby along with the shopping and headed inside Birdie's little house. Jack waited for the door to slam shut before he spook again. He was glad enough for Whistler to be in the house for this conversation, wishing none of these words to be heard by Whistler's sharp ears. Alone now, Birdie leaned against the door frame and studied the ground intently for a moment before meeting his eyes again. He was relieved to see the sudden flash of temper and passion in her eyes. He thought she might want to beat him, but at least it was the fire he had seen in her all those years ago.

"An' there she is," Jack slurred happily, not drunk but willing to act it if it got Birdie to ease up and become more the girl he had left behind. "There's my Birdie girl. Ye are a sight for sore eyes, aren't ya? You grew up beautiful as I thought ye would."

He was hampered by the sudden fear that he really was too old for her. This here in front of him was a blooming young lady, ripe as they came and he was well past his prime, weathered by a life on the sea. Young Miss Turner had turned interested eyes on him only when her pretty boy was nowhere near and she had a good three years on his wife.

Birdie looked at him balefully and took a threatening step forward and there was all the fire he loved, burning bright in her. "I'll give ye a sore sight, I will," she said, pulling an arm back in a fist.

"Whoa now, there's my Birdie back again," Jack laughed, feeling younger by the moment, and stepped quick as he could to the side to grab her fist before it could punch him in the nose. Taught her right at least, he had. His Birdie didn't slap a man that did her wrong; she punched and punched hard. He had taught her that himself. "Don't you feel the smallest bit happy to see me?"

A cynical little sneer curled her lips, a witch's look, and something in Jack went all topsy turvy, better than the rum, because this was his Birdie, Birdie with the sharp edge he had seen in her even when she was a child.

Birdie was snarling at him, mad as a snake kicked out from under a rock. "Happy to see ye? Well now, my fine handsome captain, that would depend all on the answers you give me."

"There's a test now, is there?" Jack laughed some then, until he could tell from the fire in Birdie's eyes that she was thinking again about punching him. Then he spoke, trying to sooth her as best he could. "Birdie, love, maybe now's the time I should be telling ye that I'm a cheat, a liar, a scoundrel, an' a thief; I got more failings as a man than I got fingers and toes put together. Most things out of my mouth are tricks and lies, but this, Birdie, this is true. I wouldn't 'ave married ye all those years ago if I didn't want to, and I wouldn't be' ere now if I didn't want ye. Yer my own Birdie, girl, and always have been. Ye know that. Ye always 'ave."

Her angry face quirked a little at the corner of her mouth. "If yer a liar, how can I be trusting anything ye have to say?"

He grinned at her, liking the look of a smile that sharp and hungry face. "I was thinking we wouldn't need to be talking all that much as yet."

The other side of her mouth tipped up as well, so she was almost smiling. "That was yer thinking, was it?"

"C'mon, Birdie, ease up on me some, why don'cha? Will Turner told me ye wanted me here and so here I came. I'da come sooner if'n I knew ye wanted me. I missed you, girl, damned if I didn't. Didn'cha miss me any at all?"

She finally laughed some, not quite the laugh she had as the girl-child she had been; this was a woman's laugh, a woman with a house and a baby and a husband. He figured, listening to it, that it was a laugh he could like. The laugh and the fire in her eyes when she looked at him.

Birdie pursed her lips some, like she was thinking about kissing, and looked him up and down. He wished he had brought her some pretty bauble or somesuch. Wives liked their little trinkets, didn't they? But her eyes studied his body, worn by the sea and the wind and the sand, and she nodded her head like he pleased her some and said, "Come on in my house, Cap'n Jack. Me and you, we gots some catching up to be doing, don't we now?"

Will figured he wouldn't be a good friend if he let his imagine go much farther than that. Let Birdie and Jack have their reunion in private. Will wasn't think that Jack would be giving up the sea and his Pearl for his sharp little wife, but he did think Jack might be coming up with some reasons to make berth at Port Royal more often. He wished them well, he did; that was a stormy sea they had sailed before coming to this moment of peace. With a smile, Will drank down the last of his rum and readied himself to go home to his own pretty wife and his own peace. He owed himself a favor or two.

The End