DISCLAIMER:  I do NOT own Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl or any of the characters included in the package.  I do like to play with them and often end up giving them back worse for the wear.  (Especially Captain Jack Sparrow!)  ;

CLAIMER:  I do, however, own the plot of this story and all my OC therein.  Some stay around, some don't.  That's life, ne?

Part 20:  The Silver Lining

            Three weeks.  Three long weeks.  It had been three weeks since they had returned to the friendly waters of the Caribbean Sea. Despite the reassurance of being back in familiar waters a dark cloud hovered over the Black Pearl.

            Throughout the voyage across the ocean Jack had slept in a feverish fit and he, along with the elements, had kept the crew occupied.  Occasionally he had awaken with a hint of clarity in his eyes which gave Ana hope, but more often than not he was disoriented and confused.

            But now that they were back in the Caribbean and on a course to Tortuga for some much-needed relaxation time, Jack slept like the dead.  Ana was beginning to miss the feverish dreams that caused him to wake; at least then she was able to see his eyes and try to comfort him.  The only positive things now were that ever since he had been injured they had gotten him to eat enough to stay alive and that his wounds were healing nicely.

            Since they had arrived in the Caribbean three weeks ago, Jack hadn't woken once.  He barely even stirred.  Rumors were spreading through the crew that that captain was in a bad way, perhaps already dead, and that Ana and Gibbs were just keeping it under wraps until the 'opportune moment'.

            Now Ana sat silently in Jack's cabin staring tiredly at the motionless, extremely thin pirate captain lying on the bed beneath a light cover.  'What would he want me to do?  Or for that matter, what would he do?' Ana thought to herself, starting to get frustrated with the situation.  She knew the crew couldn't go on like this, having thoughts of their captain's death but not knowing how he faired.  Taking orders from two different officers was more likely than not confusing for some of them also.  She left out a shuddering breath and ran her fingers through her hair in exasperation.

            She didn't know what to do.

            Maybe it would be best to end this whole thing now.  Give the crew and herself some closure.

            She leaned down and extracted a knife from her boot.  Palming the small blade she went to sit on the edge of Jack's bed.  'Just get it over with,' she thought to herself.  'Don't let yourself have second thoughts.  It's for the best.'  Despite her fortifying thoughts tears spilled from her eyes as she pulled back the sheet, ripped his shirt open, and let the tip of the blade press lightly into the skin over his heart.  She froze like that for several moments as her heart and mind argued.

            Ana looked down at Jack's still face and her gaze softened.  She couldn't bring herself to do it.  She pulled the hand holding the knife back and let her gaze fall ashamedly from Jack's face.

            While Ana was arguing with herself once more Jack woke with a start and as he jolted up he found himself wrapped in familiar arms.  Ana's eyes widened in surprise but she hugged him tightly none the less, the knife in her hand forgotten as she tightened the hug.

            "Jack," she whispered with a tear-choked voice as she let her chin rest over his shoulder and closed her eyes tightly with a smile.

            Jack must have felt the moisture of her tears through his shirt because he pulled back and held her shoulders at an arm's length and looked at her with concern.  "Luv, ye're cryin'.  Why?"

            A lump formed in Ana's throat, prohibiting her from speaking.  She had dreamed of hearing his voice again for the last three weeks and now here he was, awake and speaking.  Since she could not reply she dragged him into another hug and let her tears of joy fall.

            "Jack," she finally managed to sob through her tears.

            "Yes luv?"

            "I'm so sorry."

            Jack's brows knit and he pulled her away to look at her again, this time in confusion.  "Fer wha'?"

            "Everything.  Not helping you fight that possessive voice over in Egypt, for not watching your back, for leaving you for dead in that tunnel, and now for what I was about to do…I'm so sorry," she whispered sadly, hugging him for a third time.  This time the contact was more for asking forgiveness.

            "No worries luv.  My fault fer all tha' happened o'er there.  But what were you about t' do tha' were so terrible?"

            "I was going to…" Ana choked on a sob before she forced herself to continue.  "Kill you."

            Jack's eyebrows rose slightly but he didn't pull her away from him again.  Instead he returned the embrace gently, trying to lend her comfort.  "You'd do tha' fer me?"

            All he received in answer was more tears and sobs from Ana, indicating she hated the thought.

            "Shh…s'okay Ana.  I forgive ye.  Shh.  'm 'ere."

- - - - -

            Ana stepped out on deck enjoying the slight warmth that washed over her from the early morning sun.  She quietly strode over to the door of Jack's cabin only to find it slightly ajar.  Pushing it aside as quietly as possible, she was amazed to find the cabin empty.  And yet she wasn't.  Jack was never one to stick around in bed no matter how tired or ill he was.

            Leaving the cabin behind her she looked about the deck.  Her gaze traveled immediately to the helm where she expected to find her captain standing casually with his dark stare trained on the horizon.  To her astonishment the helm was lashed and unmanned.

            Though she had no idea where he might be an inner feeling drew her sights upward and she narrowed her eyes against the pale sunshine to visually search the rigging.  Spotting a dark figure, she set off towards the nearest lines and began her climb upwards.

            "Jack?" Ana asked as she arrived where he perched.

            A lopsided gold and white grin met her and caused her heart to flutter.  "'ello Ana.  Come t' join me?"

            "Not exactly.  More rather come t' find ye." Ana answered, easing herself into a comfortable position in the lines beside him despite her words.  A small squawk from off to Jack's right drew Ana's attention and she smiled to herself when she saw the eagle—formerly the Egyptian Guardian of Wind, Hawtawna—perched faithfully beside Jack in the rigging.

            She soon found Jack's arm resting lightly across her shoulders and she turned a gentle gaze to him only to see that his was resting on the horizon.

            "I'd almost fergotten how beautiful she is," Jack muttered mostly to himself, the hand that rested on Ana's other side fluttering.  "All tha' sand."

            Ana couldn't help but grin at Jack's words.  She knew her captain would recover and everything would be fine in the world again.  "Nothin' like th' sea," she agreed, snuggling closer to her lover.

            The infamous Black Pearl cut her way cleanly through the shining Caribbean waters, dutifully taking her Captain to chase the horizon once more.

--FIN—

[a/n:  Well, that's it.  I hope the ending was appropriate and that you all enjoyed the tale.  And here's where the big time begging comes:  PLEASE REVIEW!!  Without reviews, the muse gets angry and doesn't let me write.  What a curse!  Thanks times a million to those who have reviewed and kept me going!]