"Honestly, you nearly drowned, I can't even fathom why you were wearing the damned thing."

"What ?"

"Well, look at you." Jack smoothed a hand up her waist, flat and well-planed like a ship's rail, boyish to the point of being awkwardly angular; and grinned sideways at her. "There's nothing on this frame that needs tying down."

"It was the fashion." she stared him down, icy. "I've seen your fat Tortuga whores, and if this body is an unpleasant sight-"

"Shh, shh." he placed a finger to his mouth, then hers. He tilted her chin up, willed her petulant lips to unwind, to have a look at him. Elizabeth found herself cooling in the depths of his eyes; soaring past his brain to the coral and sand, the endless echo of the sea playing noiselessly in a human skull. He was unique, perhaps, or perhaps not. Perhaps the sea drove other men to madness, or genius, or sheer deathless love of it; but, she wondered, how often all three ?


"Shh, love. There's nothing but pleasure here, far as the eye can see."

She hated him. Hated him with radiance of the sun, and the good breeding of a hundred generations of folks whose wigs and gates forever separated their kind from the scummy kind in which they'd surely originated. Jack was one of those, a rum-soaked ancestor type; her people had made more of themselves, much more, and damned if she wasn't willing to remind him every moment of every day with her posture, her restraint, and her fiery, seething, righteous anger.

Also, she was hot. And not very pleased with the day.

"Rum ?" he asked. "Or are you just going to insult me again ?"

"Why, you filthy, insolent bag of traitorous, filthy murdering-"

"You've used filthy twice." He broke in, taking a swig.

Elizabeth blinked, in the hope that the darkness of her eyelids could instantly erase this flat, scorching island and it's frustratingly wicked second inhabitant.

"What ?"

"S'bad form. Here, try 'slovenly'." He spelled the word in cursive with his hands, on an imaginary chalkboard. Elizabeth sniffed delicately.

"I will not take suggestions from you. You betrayed Will." Dark eyes, with a momentary flash of anger, glanced up at hers.

"Actually, Will betrayed himself, as you'll recall." Jack scowled, as the internal clock of his separation from the Pearl ticked on. "Opened his bloody big mouth, threw himself to the lions, in case you've blocked the memory, love." he drawled. She ignored the endearment, but sat down beside him with a little sigh.

"Well. Yes. But only to save us." Jack indicated the island with his right hand, and took a drink with his left.

"And he did a bang-up job, I can see that."

"You're horrible." she frowned, without much conviction.

"Only when I'm drunk."

"That seems to be the only constant with you."

Jack gave her an incredulous once-over, and laughed out loud. The edges of her eyes crinkled with pleasure at the sound for a brief second before she looked away; and Jack found himself thinking well, there's something. He passed her the bottle, and surprising both of them, took it unhesitatingly.

"Yeah, well, it's my niche."

"You're lovely… when you're drunk."

Jack attempted to make a sweeping bow, but toppled over instead, hair narrowly missing the embers of the bonfire. She laughed and clapped her hands together, and dropped her half-empty bottle in the process. He crawled across the sand in broad pantomime, dragging at her skirts, and she shrieked and danced out of reach. They chased each other in a circle, screaming, until driftwood declared Jack the winner by managing to trip and tumble Elizabeth head-over-heels. In a heap of limbs and clothing, his mouth met the back of her neck, and she went still.

"You're still horrible." she whispered. He kissed the spot again, and she leaned her thin back into his sand-spattered chest. He sighed, deeply.

"At least I'm consistent."

"I've never- I mean, it's not that I don't know what to do, but-"

"S'alright." he nuzzled the crown of her head with his cheek, and ceased tugging at her shift strings. "S'notreely the time, anyhow." he slurred.

"Not the time ?"

"Not like thish. No'here, in drink and deshperration." though drunk, she sat up stiffly and clutched her bosum like a knife had been driven into it.

"I'm not desperate ! I could… I could have any man I wanted !" Jack shook his head, and drew her body, quivering with slightly addled fury, back to him.

"Not what'a mean."


"When I have you, I'll have you." he said, regaining his consonants for a moment of seriousness. "I'll bloody well have you, sober as a stinking judge, savvy ? And not with sand going up m'trousers." he sank back down, rolling a bit, and she laid her head against his neck. In a moment, he was snoring. I think perhaps you will she said, but not aloud.

The governor stood at the bottom of the stairs, raising his voice to the timbre of one in authority. Three girls had gone up to attend Elizabeth, how many fingers does it take, really, to tie stays ? he thought impatiently.

"Is Miss Swann finished dressing yet ? We don't want to miss the business at the Fort, unpleasant though it may be."

"She's… she's…"

"Spit it out, man !"

"She's gone, sir."

From his seat on the rowboat, in between pulling oars, Jack eyed her skeptically.

"It's a good look on you, you know, the full dress uniform. But don't tell me you've actually cut your hair."

"No." she shook it out from beneath the cap, and smiled. "Still in all it's glory."

"Very good."

She surveyed the coastline for signs they were being watched; none came. Elizabeth had memorized the coastline since she was a girl, swimming and playing, until it had been time for her to "join society as a real woman", her father had put it. The route she'd chosen was well-hidden by jutting rocks, and not easily accessible by larger boats.

"Your ship's docked around this ridge. I thought it'd make the best impression, if it wasn't seen at all. Vanishing into nowhere sounds like the makings of a fine legend." she said confidently. Jack was so flabbergasted that he actually stopped rowing.

"What, and let them forget the Pearl is still the terror of the seas, lurking at every corner, bold and free and cutting across the waves faster than any legal vessel ?"

"Row, Jack."

"Impossible woman." he said, and kissed her; and rowed for dear life.