It wasn't a cliffhanger. Honestly, you can trust me on this.

Cast of thousands: You can, in a moment of writers block she looked it up in the dictionary. "The ending of an episode in a suspenseful situation" is what it says. Mind you, it's a terrible dictionary. Doesn't have the word impossible in it. Nor cliché.

Me: That was a little bitchy. Anyway sitting around drinking rum is not suspenseful.

Jack: It is if someone's burnt it.

Cast of thousands: *pause* You can't drink rum that's been burnt.

Jack: I'm Captain Jack Sparrow. I can do what I like.

Me: 15 love, match point. Um, I mean, thanks for all reviews you make me feel like this has all been worthwhile. This is the last chapter, but there will be a sequel. Probably.

Jack: *noticing something* Give me back my hat! And my rum!

Me: No.

Ooooh, new thing to say. TotallyobsessedwithLOTR – I certainly did not intentionally steal anything from the Two Towers or anywhere else for that matter. The idea of Gibbs and Anamaria sitting around drinking rum came about because I was trying to think of the best way to annoy Jack while still conveying the point. On the other hand, I have read that book many, many times. *sigh* That's going to worry me now. My apologies to Tolkien if they are necessary.

Jack looked past Anamaria and Gibbs and spotted most of the rest of his crew huddled among the other ex-captives lining the hill. Everyone looked wet and miserable – well, actually the crew, his crew, were all grinning like maniacs – but they were alive and he couldn't see any serious injuries.

"See you found the rum mates," he said, looking pointedly at Gibbs and Ana. She stood up, but rather than pass the drink, she produced, from somewhere behind her, a battered brown three-cornered hat. His hat. He took it from her and stared at it in disbelief for a moment before putting it on its rightful place.

"Welcome back, Captain," she said. The cheer that came from the crew told Jack that most of them had been drinking. She looked him up and down. "I suppose you're going to tell me that I should see the other man?"

He regarded her seriously. "Don't know that you could now. Fish are probably eating him. Where did my hat come from?"

"It washed up on the beach." Gibbs said.

"Ah." Of course it had, his hat would never abandon him forever.

"How did you manage to overpower them?" Will asked, gesturing at the unconscious men. Jack looked from Gibbs to Ana with interest; that was an excellent question.

Gibbs, noticing his scrutiny, waved the bottle he was holding and said happily, "We waited for the opportune moment of course." Ana Maria smirked. Will rolled his eyes.

"It was amazing," a woman began "They took them on armed with spades and shovels."

"Well, the storm gave us a cover. And we took them out one at a time. And they were all very drunk." The smile on Gibbs' face belied the attempt to downplay the fight.

"We didn't want to risk rowing out in this weather, so we stayed ashore. Getting wet." Ana Maria looked at the sky in disgust.

"Why didn't you go into the cave?" Jack asked.

Ana glared at him. "The entrance is blocked, remember?"

"Actually," Jack said as casually as he knew how, "The entrance is over there." Everyone stared at him. He shrugged and led the way around the hill to a large, innocent-looking rock. He stood stock still, staring at it.

"It's a rock." Will said.

"Yes." Jack agreed.

"Let me guess; this is the wrong place after all?" Norrington sounded utterly bored.

"No, it's the place right enough. I'm just trying to remember where the crack is" He could feel their eyes on him. He had only ever been here once, and that was years ago. He vaguely remembered that his old captain had had to climb up something. He gazed doubtfully at a series of handholds up the side of the rock. Might as well give it a try. He clambered up. The rain made the rock slippery, but a lifetime of climbing rigging had accustomed him to that. Feeling this tired doing it was less normal though.

"Jack, what are you doing?" Will asked. He was nearly at the top and now the whelp starts asking bloody stupid questions? Standing on the very top of the rock he turned round and looked at the people looking up at him.

"I was climbing," he said perfectly reasonably in his opinion "and now I'm looking for the entrance to the . . ." He took a step backwards. There was nothing beneath his foot. He tried to save himself, but the wet rock offered no grip and the world flew upwards.

"Jack!" The shout came from at least three other watchers besides Will. Jack had simply disappeared from sight. He seemed to have done that rather too often lately.

There was an anxious moment and then from behind the rock a muffled voice said "Think I found it."

"Are you alright?" Will asked. He felt a little daft to be, to all intents and purposes, talking to a rock; but he had to know.

"Yeah, its quicker getting down than up." That didn't make a whole lot of sense to Will, but it sounded reassuring nonetheless.

"Should we climb up?" Ana Maria interrupted. "We're all getting wet."

"No, it's easy enough to move it from this side." There was a pause, filled with enough colourful language from the depths of the rock to make the ladies of St Sebastian's blush and the Commodore frown. Then, the rock rolled to one side revealing a grinning pirate captain. "Welcome," he stood aside and they rushed in to the dry, "to the cave of the late Captain Masters. The later one, I mean."

It wasn't an incredibly large cave but it was large enough to accommodate all of the ex-prisoners. Their erstwhile captors were left, bound, outside in the rain. A few members of the crew and a few of the 'slaves' from St Sebastians volunteered to stay and guard them. Will was rather surprised to see a large wooden chest in the corner. He was even more surprised on opening it to discover it was full of money; gold, silver and coppers. He turned frowning to Elizabeth. Her eyes were wide.

"I thought there was no treasure?" he asked her. She shook her head, not knowing the answer.

"Ah yes." Neither of them had noticed Jack coming up behind them. "I might have been lying about that."

Of course. What else could they have expected?

Jack peered into the box. "Not a lot is there? Not worth it. Not by a long way." He took a handful of coins and watched them trickle between his fingers. "It was Captain Masters' retirement money. Never used it, obviously. Doubt he ever would have. Some men are born to die upon the sea." There was an old, old sorrow on his expressive face. Will wondered what memories had been reawakened for his friend. But he didn't want to pry. Not now. He decided to change the subject.

"I wanted to ask you about my father," he found himself asking. Not really a way to lead to better memories. Jack simply looked at him. Dark eyes surrounded by dark bruises. Not exactly approachable. "Masters said that he got the scar from Bootstrap Bill. He said it was unprovoked. That he didn't give him a chance to defend himself."

"William Turner," Jack emphasised the full name in much the same way as he emphasised his own title, "Was a good man. I told you that."

Will couldn't think of anything to say; that hadn't been a denial exactly. Elizabeth wrapped her arm around his but remained silent.

Jack sighed. "William gave Masters that scar, that's true enough. But at the time that bastard was attempting to shoot yours truly in the back. William always objected to that for some reason." A smile, rather than the usual cocky grin.

Will smiled back. "Thank you Jack."

"You're welcome." Will watched as his friend turned his attention back to the treasure chest. "Not much at all. But perhaps enough to buy out a blacksmith and hold a wedding?"

Will could only stare in disbelief. But Elizabeth cried out, "You mean that Jack?"

"Course I do. Early wedding present. Or a thank-you-for-saving-my-life present. Or, if you prefer, a months payment for working on ship. Whatever."

Will wished he could think of something to say. Anything. He could only watch as Elizabeth threw her arms around Jack and hugged him tightly.

"Now, now, luv. That's the second time you've embraced me today. Keep it up and I'll be getting ideas. Or your fiancé will." Jack looked directly at Will. "If he stops with his impression of a statue that is."

"Sorry . . . I mean thanks, I mean ... thank you, Jack."

Jack waved his hands dismissively. "Think nothing of it." He glanced over Will's shoulder. "What's going on mate?" Will turned to see Gibbs standing there.

"Sea is calm now Captain. And it's stopped raining."

"Seems a good time to be going out to have a look at the ship then, doesn't it?" He strode out of the cave closely pursued by Ana Maria and the rest of the crew. Will, Elizabeth and Gibbs exchanged glances then ran after and finally Norrington and a stream of residents of St Sebastian's followed.

On emerging into the sunshine, Will saw Jack talking intently to Ana Maria, Marty and Cotton, the rest of the crew huddled round. They were staring out to sea, not at the Black Pearl but at the other ship, the Merriana. At some signal, most of the crew ran down towards the boats, although two – Kursar and Tearlach remained behind. Jack himself sauntered over to Will and Elizabeth. "Coming?" he asked, casually.

"Where?" Will was glad it was Elizabeth who had asked.

Jack simply pointed out to the Merriana and walked down the beach to the waiting boats. "Few people left on board apparently," he threw out, over his shoulder.

Will and Elizabeth glanced at each other and then, without a word being spoken, followed, as did Norrington.

On the rowboat, Jack looked searchingly at each of them in turn, although what he was looking for, Will couldn't imagine. Whatever it was, he apparently found it because he lay back without a word and watched as the ship grew nearer.

As soon as they were in shouting distance a voice called out to them. "We surrender."

Jack grinned but didn't appear surprised. "That was easy."

"Aye." Gibbs frowned. "Too easy?"

Jack shook his head, emphatically. "Only three of them on board by my reckoning. Not good odds."

"Some people will fight any odds." Norrington remarked pointedly.

"Only if the profit's right, mate."

They boarded the ship without incident. Jack's crew took the three remaining, apathetic members of Stenson's crew prisoner.

One of them, the first mate apparently, stared at Jack. "Wasn't us that did that to you," he whined. "Was all the captain's idea. We don't hold with torture, but he didn't give us no choice." Will looked at Jack, but it was Ana Maria who stepped forwards her eyes alight with anger. Jack caught her by the wrist.

"Easy luv, no need for that."

"They . . ." she pointed to the dark bruises marring all visible flesh.

"You've been hitting me enough times these last few years. Not exclusive you know." She scowled at him and for a moment Will thought she might slap him.

Then Norrington stepped forwards, breaking the tension.

"Congratulations gentlemen, you are prisoners of the royal navy."

Will noticed the uneasy stirring of the Black Pearl's crew. "You might want to make it clear who you're talking to James," he hissed. The commodore's eyes widened but by then Jack had already stepped forwards and ordered the three men to be taken below, the people from the island to be taken aboard and most of his crew to go and get the Pearl ready for sailing. For a while the deck was a mass of activity. Will saw Jack slip into the Captain's cabin and, curious, followed.

He found his friend turning the place upside down. Charts and clothes were strewn over the floor.

"What are you looking for?" Will asked. Jack jumped; apparently he hadn't heard anyone else come in.

"My compass. Found me pistol and me sword." He held those items aloft in triumph, "And I already had my hat. But I can't find the compass anywhere."

"Maybe Stenson had it on him when he died." Will suggested. A look of dismay crossed Jack's face. "It could be for the best you know Jack." He didn't understand why the pirate wanted to keep a reminder of the Isla de Muerta.

"Maybe you're right, whelp." Still the pirate looked unconvinced. "Least I've found most of my effects." He seemed to be trying hard to stifle a yawn. Will hoped he'd get round to resting soon.

They went out on deck again. Norrington stood, apparently directing the refugees below decks helped by Elizabeth.

"Enjoying your new ship, mate?" Jack asked him. Will looked at him in surprise.

"His ship?"

"Don't think you're quite experienced enough to be a captain yet, lad." Will rolled his eyes; that hadn't been what he had meant.

Before it came to an argument, Norrington interjected, "I thought that was your plan. Several of those taken from St Sebastian's can sail," he nodded over to a group who, with the aid of Gibbs and Anamaria, were indeed getting the ship ready. "With the aid of Mr Turner and Miss Swan it should be perfectly feasible to get this ship to port, from where it will be possible to return the refugees and bring the miscreants to justice."

"Which miscreants?" Jack asked. There was a long moment. Will looked from the Commodore to the Captain; their eyes locked together, neither willing to back down. He could see the challenge although he didn't fully understand it. Finally, Norrington smiled. "The royal navy has no quarrel with you, Captain Smith."

"And if Captain Smith – and his crew – should wish to go to Port Royal to visit old friends and attend their wedding, would the Royal Navy object?" All three men looked at Elizabeth in astonishment, but her eyes remained fixed only on Commodore Norrington. He hesitated then nodded and turned to Jack.

"If they were discreet and didn't engage in any illegal, or immoral activities, then yes. Occasional visits could be overlooked."

"Thank you James." Elizabeth's smile was genuine, that rare smile that never failed to melt James Norrington's heart. He smiled back at her and included Will in his look. Then they were called away by Gibbs leaving him with Jack Sparrow.

"Thank you for that." He turned round. Words very quietly spoken and the speaker once again leaning heavily on the railing, face pale, eyes closed.

"Are you alright?" If someone had told him six months ago he would be genuinely concerned about Jack Sparrow he would have thought them as daft as the man himself.

"Jus' tired. Tha's all. Be fine when I'm back with me Pearl." The words were more slurred than ever.

He decided not to push the point and instead asked. "Can we be sure that Masters is dead? After all, you survived."

"He's gone." That was too brief and casual for Norrington's liking.

"How can you be sure?" Suddenly he found himself gazing into a pair of dark eyes that were altogether too blank for his liking.

"Because I held him down underwater until he stopped struggling." The voice was perfectly level but still there was something there, something that could have been guilt or sorrow. Some torment.

"You did what you had to do, Jack." He winced, the words were heavy handed.

"I know. Doesn't help. But thanks."

Both of them stared at the deck for a while.

Elizabeth and Will had found Gibbs, Marty and Anamaria standing proudly by the chest of treasure recovered from the cave. "Here, Captain said this was yours."

"Thank you." Will started to say but Elizabeth interrupted, frowning.

"Are you sure giving gold away will be alright with the crew? I thought there were problems between you and Jack before."

"No, its fine. Easy for us to get more. We discovered Jack's plans are a lot more profitable and a lot more fun than the alternative." Marty reassured them.

"Jack said there were problems?" Gibbs sounded surprised.

"Yes, when he thought you had mutinied . . ." Will's voice tailed off as he saw the looks on the pirates' faces. Gibbs looked hurt. Anamaria looked furious.

"He thought we would mutiny? After all this time?"

"That bloody, ignorant, idiotic excuse for a pirate." They spoke in unison and in unison turned and walked towards Jack who, on hearing Anamaria screech had looked up apprehensively. He got slapped in the face. Hard.

"Don't you even think about saying that you didn't deserve that because you did," she warned him.

"How can you not trust us?" Gibbs asked. Jack looked from one to the other, rubbing his face tenderly. Will met Norrington's startled eyes and shrugged.

"It wasn't a matter of not trusting so much as it was of believing certain information from a certain person who was lying." Jack said as though it was a complete and valid explanation.

"Ha!" Anamaria said and moved as though to hit him again but stopped apparently on noticing that it had genuinely hurt him a lot before.

"Well, I wake up and me ship and crew is gone, what am I supposed to think?"

"You could have tried thinking, if you're capable of it."

The argument continued with Gibbs trying to bring about some sort of reconciliation. Everyone was staring, most of them in bewilderment but Will noticed that Marty – the one member of Jack's crew on the Merriana who wasn't involved – was watching with an expression of contentment. Catching Will's questioning gaze he said "Just like old times." Will decided not to ask.

Eventually they settled down, Anamaria still shooting murderous looks at Jack. By that time, both ships were ready to sail.

"I suppose this is goodbye then dear Commodore." Jack said cheerfully. "I look forward to seeing you in Port Royal with discretion."

Norrington glared for a moment, then smiled a little and said "Try not to get caught Sparrow. Oddly, I'd rather not see you hang."

Jack nodded gravely and half bowed. He turned to Will and Elizabeth,

"We're coming with you to the Pearl." Will said quickly. "we'll be able to return the boat to the Merriana that way." And they wouldn't have to part quite so soon. They had been together for two months now. And as infuriating as Jack was, Will knew he would miss the pirate, and so would Elizabeth.

"Alright then," with a final nod to Norrington, they began to row out to the Pearl. Anamaria continued to rant at Jack.

"...bloody daft Sparrow, not even dreaming of trusting yer friends ..." Jack didn't interrupt, simply lay back in the boat, a slight smirk on his face, his hat covering his eyes.

After a moment, Gibbs leaned close to him and then looked back at Anamaria. "Might as well stop lass. He's asleep." Her expression softened and they exchanged an amused and tolerant glance.

When they reached the Pearl, Gibbs put his hand on Jack's shoulder. "Wake up, lad." Jack jumped up so quickly it was a minor miracle the boat didn't capsize. He looked around, seemingly embarrassed. "Was awake," he mumbled. Then he turned to Will and Elizabeth. "This is goodbye then," he stated. Gibbs, Anamaria and Marty stammered their farewells and boarded the Pearl.

Will nodded. "If you even think about leaving as long before visiting this time I'll kill you myself," he threatened lightly.

Jack grinned. "Ah, but you'd have to catch me first. I won't though. I'm invited to the wedding, unless I mistook Lizbeth's meaning."

"You didn't. And the wedding will be within two months Jack, and I expect to see you there."

"Promise." It was unusual to see Jack so serious over anything less than life and death. Then he grinned at both of them and quickly disappeared up the rope onto the ship.

He stood, looking over the railings as they rowed off. He grinned again as he heard Will say "Two months?" Difficult to say if he thought it too quick or two slow.

"Weigh anchor," Jack shouted as he headed towards the helm of the Black Pearl. It was good to be back where he belonged. He looked round. Anamaria, Gibbs, Cotton – all of them here. All of them smiling. Friends and freedom. All he needed.


That was unexpected. Very long chapter there. No idea if it were good or bad anymore. But I think we've arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically.

Jack: First you steal my rum, then my hat, now my line?

Me: Bet you don't even know what ecumenically means.

Jack: It means something of world wide scope, particularly in relation to the Christian church. Or it can mean unity between churches and/or religions.

Me: ....

Cast of thousands: .....

Jack: *steals back hat and, what with the fic being finished, sails off in search of horizon singing bloody awful Yo Ho song*

OK seriously, I am astonished that this story is finished and you will never know how pleased and gratified I am that you read it to the end. I would now ask that you please, please, please review it. Come on, it's close on 42 000 words long and most of them are still in me head. I can't afford therapy so reviews will have to do.