Disclaimer: I do not own any of Disney's piratey creations.

Author's Note: This is it! The finale! Thank you all for joining me on this lovely adventure. The end is always so bittersweet.

As for chapter 24, I wanted to clarify what happened to Malvado. When Brookes died, he restored order. He was the sacrifice to restore the world to its natural state. Malvado became so unnatural by his powers that he perished along with them.

I appreciate you all for keeping up with this story. Your critiques and kind words warmed my scurvy heart. Now let's check up with Captain Gallagher and see how she's doing.

PineAppleLint


One week later…

Jack Sparrow woke up with his head under a pillow. The humidity of Spain clung to his skin, giving each rippling muscle a wet sheen. Kicking the covers off impatiently, he shivered when cooler air stroked his nude body.

His shoulder continued to hassle him with a dull throbbing. Letting out a breath, he clutched his arm and silently willed it to stop.

And that's when he heard it: the faint rustling sound. Jack sat straight up in bed, sending his pillow to the floor. The commotion startled Terrence, who was busy pulling on her boots. She paused.

Their gazes held. It was that time again. The time to avoid messy goodbyes like the plague.

"Where are you headin', luv?" he asked, his voice husky from sleep.

"Oh, I don't know…" Terrence said distractedly, tugging on her boots once more. "I would like to travel around the Arabian Sea for a bit. See if we can pilfer any swag off their merchant ships."

"It would certainly be a nice change of scenery," Jack agreed, twiddling his thumbs. After a while, he added, "How are you feeling today?"

"Fine. Still a bit sore, but fine." She bit her lip as she walked across the room, gathering her effects.

"That was a fitting service you carried out the other day," he continued, eyeing her.

"Yes. I hope it did the men justice," Terrence said and glanced out the window. She sounded distant.

"You knew Brookes well. He would have had it no other way." Jack Sparrow reached out a hand and motioned for her to come closer.

"I know." Terrence sat next to him on the mattress and Jack instantly placed an arm around her. "Things are certainly going to be different without him."

"You won't be without him, luv," Jack said with a smile, "You know what they say about sailors in the after-life. They end up following the ships they gave their oaths to."

Terrence hesitantly smiled back at him and planted a kiss on his whiskered chin.

Jack's hand suddenly rested on her stomach. "You know…" he paused, trying to find the words. "I was gettin' used to the idea of a little whelp runnin' around."

Terrence's face fell. "Jack…"

He held up a hand, stopping her. "I'm just sorry it had to end that way."

"The key was destroyed. It didn't need another Protector," she said softly. "What's done is done."

"Well, it doesn't have to be…done, so to speak." Jack coughed, looking extremely embarrassed by what he was about to say. "I guess what I'm sayin', or trying to say, dammit…I…well. Hmm."

Terrence raised an eyebrow at him.

"I know you said you weren't ready for a little Gallagher just yet, but if you ever are, I would…er…"

Terrence fisted a hand into his dreads and brought his mouth to hers. The contact instantly sparked heated desire between them both. Jack let out a muffled groan as Terrence slid her tongue into his mouth. Their lips battled for dominance.

When she finally broke away, their chests were heaving. Terrence gazed at him through lowered lashes and replied, "I love you, Captain Sparrow." She got up and placed her weapons in their holsters as Jack watched her do so with a lust-filled expression.

She had almost made her way out the door when Jack urgently called "Terrence!"

Whirling around, she saw him leap out of the bed and rush over to her. He immediately pulled her into his arms, crushing his lips onto hers.

Terrence closed her eyes, dizzy with the sensation of loving him. She clung to him, her arms holding him close, her fingers digging into his back. Jack intimately cradled her skull with his callused hands, running his fingers through her wavy locks, trying to get enough of her in that one moment to last him a few months more.

He broke the kiss and nuzzled his face into her hair. And through the haze of that emotional moment, Terrence could have sworn she heard Captain Jack Sparrow murmur something he had never admitted to her before: the most significant, soul-baring declaration between two pirates…

…those three little words into her ear.


Epilogue (six months later)

Terrence smiled down at her journal as she jotted down the last words of her story. Her candle had burned down to the wick, the wax overflowing and drying up on her desk. She didn't know how many hours she had spent writing, but she guessed it was early morning.

It is astounding how one unforeseen event can make you examine your own mortality. Time is valuable, but the people you keep close are worth more than hours or seconds. They become the mirrors to your own existence. You take a piece of them with you, in life and in death.

Terrence closed the journal and set her utensil back in the inkwell. She triumphantly blew out the tiny flame of the candle and began shedding her clothes for bed.

"I thought you'd never finish," Jack mumbled from the bed, opening his eyes. "I need someone to keep me warm."

"Is that a polite way of saying you want me?" Gallagher teased, getting underneath the covers.

Jack laughed, replying with a crooked grin, "I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I'm too tired to fornicate with you right now, dearie." He pulled her close, nestling her back against his chest. "But perhaps you can dream of me doing all kinds of naughty things to you."

"I'll try my hardest," she replied sleepily, shutting her eyes.

Jack's hand smoothed over her skin, resting on her protruding stomach. Gently touching it, he said quietly, "The whelp's kickin' me."

"Sorry to burst your bubble, Captain, but it's going to be a girl."

"And how the hell do you know that?" Jack kissed her shoulder.

"I don't. But I do know that I enjoy disagreeing wit' you."

"Hellcat," he growled playfully, settling in comfortably next to her.

"Bastard."


That's the end of that!

Turn on the waterworks! I know I am. Oh dear.

If you missed it, Terrence lost the baby right when the key was destroyed. They decided they were ready to have another later on.

Many thanks go out to Chapter 24 reviewers: Sculder The Goblin Queen, alonefreehearted, Pirate Gyrl, Saphalina, SparrowsVixon, heydeppy, depps darling, The DuTchess of Doom, Vixter, and Anastasia Walker (thanks for all your help!).