Usual disclaimers

Well, this is it – the end. After eight stories (plus one unpublished), I have reached the end of my Jack Sparrow stories. I would like to thank everyone who has read them and especially to those who have taken the trouble to review, your many kind words have been greatly appreciated.

Kind regards – Ani.

Epilogue

Jack Sparrow ambled down the street, humming to himself; breaking into the occasional chuckle as he recalled the antics of his crew who he had left to continue celebrating the magnificent haul they had captured a few days ago. He would have still been making merry with them, but he found he no longer got as drunk as he did, wryly blaming Celia for turning him into a respectable gentleman. He skittered to a halt and backed up on himself as he realised that he had missed a shortcut, which would take him down to the docks, grinning and shaking his head to himself as he headed down the alley. 'Must be drunker than I thought…' he mused, pausing in his step halfway down the alley and frowning as he glancing over his shoulder at an imagined noise, but finding nothing else in the alley, save a couple of cats. Shrugging, he went on his way, still keeping an ear open, but he was still slow to react when someone jumped on him from behind, knocking him to the ground.

"Thought yer could hide, eh, Sparrow?" the large, dishevelled figure snarled, reaching down to haul Jack up, but the pirate captain managed to roll out of the way and scrambled to his feet, fumbling with the dagger encased in its sheath at his waist.

"An' yer attack unarmed men now, tsk, tsk," his assailant mocked, spreading his arms wide to show he had no weapons.

"Who are you, what do you want?" Jack demanded, keeping his hand on the hilt of the dagger, but ceasing trying to unsheathe it. He peered at the dirty man, dressed in tattered rags and with a large bushy beard covering most of his face and Jack cursed himself for being so stupid as to walk back to the ship without a guard. The whole of San Juan knew of The Pearl's haul and he should have known that some would hate him for it and try to either rob him or get their revenge.

"My, what a poor memory yer have, Cap'n," the man taunted. "Don't even recognise a former crewman…"

"Eh? Jack frowned, leaning forward as he took a closer look. "Mouse…?" he queried, his eyes going wide in astonishment as he realised that his guess was correct. "You… went down; drowned…" he puzzled.

"Ah, at last!" Oliver Fernan cried, clapping his hands together in a scornful gesture. "Th'great an' infamous Jack Sparrow isn't as drink addled as I thought! No, Sparrow, I didn't drown," he snapped," three fuckin' days I was in th'water, near ter death. Three days! But now I've come fer what is rightfully mine."

"Eh?" Jack replied, cocking his head and playing dumb, his fingers slowly curling around the hilt of the dagger once more. "An' what might that be?"

"Ha!" Oliver snorted derisively, "Yer know damned well what, Sparrow – my woman an' children."

"Your woman? Who might she be, then?"

"Stop fuckin' playin' dumb, yer bastard!" Oliver spat, launching himself at his former captain and catching him unawares with a blow to the jaw, which sent Jack reeling back to the ground. "Almost fours years I've been searchin' for her, scratching a livin', stealin' food an' boats as I made my way ter Grand Turk only ter find she had gone, an' was wanted fer questionin' about two men that had been found dead in our house."

"An' what makes you think I know where she is?" Jack demanded, getting to his feet once more. "Eh?" He ducked as Oliver aimed another blow at him, and caught the helmsman in the midriff with his own punch, doubling the much larger man up. Jack brought his knee up and caught Oliver on the jaw, sending him sprawling.

"Y'think I gave up there?" Oliver gasped as he fought to recover. "I made my way ter Tortuga, only ter find it gone, razed ter th'ground; some fuckin' king you turned out ter be!" he taunted. "There were some still there, in a worse state than me; almost feral, an' you deserted them."

Jack sensed that Oliver's mind had wandered slightly and attempted another attack, only to find he had underestimated his foe, and a punch low in his belly had him gasping for breath and his eyes swimming. "Did not desert them…" he rasped, wincing at the agony.

"Doesn't matter," Oliver dismissed carelessly. "What matters is Celia, an' my children. I was lost; couldn't think how I was goin' ter find you again with Tortuga gone, but then I remembered that yer a creature of habit, aren't yer, Sparrow, an' so here I am… now where's Celia?"

"Nowhere you can find her!" Jack snarled, giving up the pretence. "An' Milly's mine; Connor might as well be," he goaded, thinking it best that Oliver didn't know of the existence of his other son, Flynn. "C'mon, Mouse, let it go… Celia wouldn't go back ter you even if you did find her."

"Why, are yer married t'her? Thought not," the Irishman spat. "You were prepared ter take her innocence, prepared ter pretend that my children are yours, but yer not prepared ter make an honest woman of her, are yer, Sparrow? Too concerned about yer precious reputation."

"You didn't marry her," Jack shot back, the truth of the accusation rankling him.

"I couldn't, you stupid bastard! In th'eyes of th'church, I'm already married."

Jack mentally kicked himself for forgetting that Oliver had been married whilst still in Ireland, and his former crewman took the opportunity of his distraction to launch another, more sustained attack, which left Jack desperately trying to fend him off.

"Mouse," he pleaded, wiping away blood tricking down his cheek. "I'll give yer money, enough money to get yourself back on yer feet, eh?"

"I don't want money," came the riposte. "Just Celia…"

"Celia wouldn't want you, she's happy with me; th'children are happy with me, I'm sorry."

"No!" Oliver cried and leapt forward once more, cursing loudly as Jack managed to skitter out of the way. "That's right, run, yer snivelling bastard."

"I'm not runnin'," Jack reasoned, facing his nemesis from arms length. "I don't blame yer for being angry with me, Mouse, I felt th'same when I realised that you an' Celia had been together fer five years; I was jealous of you. But she told me that she never loved you as she loved… loves me."

"Liar! Yer just sayin' that!"

"I'm not, an' I suspect you know it." Let her go, Oliver, b'fore she destroys you…"

"No! I can't do that!" the Irishman raged, hurling himself towards his former captain once more.

Jack saw what was coming and moved quickly out of the way, turning and looking in horror as the larger man lost his footing and fell to the ground, a sharp crack ringing out as his head struck the cobbles, and Oliver lay still, blood seeping from his nose and ear. "Sweet Jesus, no!" Jack cried, falling to his knees, but knowing there was nothing he could do to help the man he once regarded as the best helmsman he had ever known. "Bloody hell, Mouse…" he sighed, bowing his head in respect. "You bloody fool…"

"Mama!" Milly gasped as her mother twirled and posed in front of the full length mirror in the wedding gown made from the finest pale blue silk that Jack had turned up with a few weeks ago and announced that it was time she made an honest man out of him. "You look like a queen!"

"And you're a princess," Celia smiled at her daughter, wearing a lemon dress and holding a posy of flowers. "Now run along and I'll be there soon," she chivvied, bending to kiss her daughter on the cheek before turning to admire herself once more. She thought of Jack and the sudden change in his attitude since he returned from San Juan, and wondered what had happened, for now matter how much she pressed him, he insisted that nothing was wrong and that nothing had happened in the town, a fact which every member of his crew that Celia had questioned, confirmed. But she knew Jack better than that, and vowed that one day she would find out.

"Celia, pet? Are you ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be, Joshamee!" she called to the waiting man. She picked up her own posy of flowers and walked from her room and down the stairs, a smile on her face.

"Why, Celia! You look beautiful!" the former quartermaster of the Black Pearl declared in astonishment as she came into view. "Jack is a very lucky man."

"Yes… isn't he?" she joked acerbically.

"I'm sorry, Celia, Beth was sick everywhere an' I had to change her!" Jane May, a friend of Celia's from the village, apologised, holding up the now clean baby for her mother to inspect. "I'll take the boys an' hurry on before you."

"Oh, don't worry about it," Celia chuckled, taking her youngest child off her friend and handing her the posy to carry, as Flynn slipped his hand into his mothers, and Conner and Milly ran on ahead, both chattering excitedly. "No, Joshamee, I reckon I'm the lucky one," Celia smiled as they made their way to the church and the next chapter of her eventful life.

The End