Jack lay on his back in his bed, one arm tucked underneath his head as he smiled with drowsy contentment at the ceiling

Author's Note: gah! Here it is, finally! I swear, this entire chapter was first written on notebook paper and then typed up. There were days when I had ten or twelve sheets of notebook paper folded up in my purse, waiting for me to have time to type them up. But the term is finally over, it is the first day of spring break, and I have the last chapter of "A Different Story" to present. And I plan on starting the first chapter of "A New Story" today. ;) Should be lots of fun.

Hopefully I'll have more time to write next term. I'll be taking one less class than I did winter term, so hopefully not as much homework.

Just a quick note here: later in the chapter there's a mention of the valuable nature of medicinal supplies. From my extensive research (I read an article in Archeology Today or something like that at the library), Blackbeard, while blockading Charleston harbor, demanded several chests of medical supplies as part of the city's ransom, and one of my books on pirates - not sure which one - said that when pirates looted ships, they'd almost always carry off whatever meds the ship had on hand, and sometimes even kidnapped doctors. So there's your history lesson for today. ;)

Until I post again, rythmteck (aka NeonDaisies, aka Sarah)


Jack lay on his back in his bed, one arm tucked underneath his head as he smiled with drowsy contentment at the ceiling. His other arm was curled around the woman at side. In her sleep Winn had refused to move away from him, throwing a bare arm across his equally bare torso, her head resting on his chest under his chin, and her other arm wrapped under and around his shoulder.

The sun, newly risen, made a feeble attempt to break through the fog outside. He could tell from the pitch and sway of the Pearl that they were at anchor. A wise precaution in the shallow waters of the Caribbean, but unnecessary now. They were well and truly at sea, no islands around for days, no shoals to collide with. Still, Jack wasn't terribly surprised; the captain had abandoned his duties for the moment. Why shouldn't the crew follow his example? Grinning in his contentment, he thought, Well, follow it as closely as they may.

Jack resisted getting out of bed. The fog kept them safe for the time being, just as it kept them at anchor. A ship could pass within firing range and never know about the pirates just out of sight as long as the men stayed silent, and he didn't want to disturb Winnie.

Or at least, he didn't want to disturb her in any way that might make her want to get out of bed. Though he'd forgotten how devilishly hard it was to disturb her in any manner while she slept.

Not that he didn't try his hardest or that it was a trial. All that soft skin, bare and rash-free. Slowly he felt Winn wake up under his lips. At first she tensed as if unsure where she was. Her hands slid into his hair, holding him still as she tried to process what was happening. "Jack?" she asked, looking up at him as if she were confused. He could see memories of the past few hours return to her. With memory came a certain amount of security, and she pulled him back down.

"Mmm…" She sighed and ran her hands down his shoulders and back. "You woke me up."

"Noticed that, did you?"

"Would be hard not to." It was also difficult not to notice where his hands were wandering. "What are you doing?"

"And here I thought I'd found myself an intelligent wife."

"Jack?"

"Hm?"

"Shut it."

He really did have to congratulate himself on a job well done, Jack thought muzzily as Winn put to practice all she'd learned thus far. It was hardly conceivable that she'd been at all hesitant hours before. And then Jack didn't think of much at all beyond Winn's hands and sweetly eager mouth.

The fog had grown brighter but no thinner by the time Winn tucked herself into Jack's side along with enough blankets to cover her to the shoulders. She tried not to mind Jack's arrogant chuckle or the smile he pressed to her forehead along with a kiss. "If you had any sense, you'd cover yourself too," she mumbled against his shoulder. "It's cold."

"Cold might be a bit of an exaggeration, luv."

"Hmph." She rubbed her nose against his shoulder, still finding herself surprised by the feel of his skin against hers. "Not that I'm complaining, Jack, but why are you still here?"

"I'd think that was obvious."

Not as obvious as it was. Winn barely choked the risqué comment back. It had to be Jack's bad influence on her. Surely she wouldn't have come up with that on her own. "Jack –"

"The crew is superstitious." He interrupted her before she could get used to using that shrill tone that seemed to come naturally to wives…or at least to the ones he'd observed. Most of them fishwives, come to think of it. "They're not going to go anywhere in a fog like this. So no sailing –"

"– means no captain needed on deck." Winn sighed deeply. "I wonder when the fog will burn off."

Jack was puzzled. Winn wasn't acting like a woman tired of… Drat. What was the right term to use in conjunction with an almost properly raised wife? "So eager to leave the marriage bed?"

She snuggled in beside him, which was answer enough. "We can't possibly spend the entire day here. What would people think?"

Considering "people" consisted of his crew at the moment – and Jack had a fairly good idea of what they were thinking – he decided it was better not to answer. "What would you have us do then?" he asked, wondering what she would suggest. Besides being at a loss for terms that would imply he and Winn in bed while in a naked state, he didn't know what women like his wife did with their days either. He had a hard time envisioning Winn engaged in whatever activities proper ladies filled their time with. And here, no longer a prisoner and away from her family, what might she like to do?

The gears in his head started turning as he pondered his wife's nature. Winn wasn't an ordinary lady by far. Winnie carried a sword, and Winnie acted as her grandfather's man of business, and Winnie set off on weeks long ocean voyages without so much as a by your leave…

"Winnie? Why were you on a ship with Thompson?"

"I thought we'd already confirmed my cowardice. Or did you really want to hear me say that I was running away from you?"

Hm. She sounded distinctly peevish. He really needed to keep in mind that Winn's satisfaction didn't necessarily outweigh her temper, otherwise his ego might take a bruising. "I assume you had some purpose in mind, some destination charted…? Or did you just shanghai Thompson into taking you on a quick pleasure jaunt around the Atlantic?"

"What makes you think I didn't?"

"Luv, as far as I can tell, the only thing you're frivolous with is your threats."

Winn relaxed a little. She supposed Jack was beyond the point of concealing his motives when it came to her…after all, being bound to her for life was a steep price for anything trivial. Still, it never paid to be too free with information. "Does it really matter, Jack?" Winn knew what she was really asking was, How soon will you try to put a leash on me? but she didn't want to come right out and ask. Jack would either take offense or be brave enough to say something completely outrageous…or both. To be honest, it was taking all her courage to lay here in bed with him.

"Considering I've been playing catch up for the past two weeks, I think I've cause for my curiosity."

He had a point. And the worst he could do was decide she was silly. "I decided to try my hand at fortune hunting," she said in a rush.

Jack's first reaction was a rush of absurdity. Winn hadn't wanted a husband at all. Could a rich one really have made the situation easier to swallow? Then he grasped her true meaning: that dratted treasure map of her grandmother's. "You don't do things in half measures, do you?" he asked as he contemplated the devotion that would cause a man to sail all the way to Italy on a woman's whim.

"Jack?" He wasn't saying anything, but Winn could imagine what he wanted to say. His arm was so tight around her. "It seemed like a good idea."

"Did it?" His full attention was on her now, his eyes sharp.

"Well…" Winn's thoughts raced as she tried not to squirm. It would certainly distract him – she thought – but she didn't necessarily want to distract him that way. "No, I suppose I didn't. Actually, I think Grandmamma's crazy if she thinks a sorry excuse for a map can find a forgotten treasure, but it did seem like the best way to get as far from…" You remained unsaid but Winn was certain Jack had heard it anyway. "Have I mentioned I was scared?" she asked in a small voice.

"I already knew you were, luv. I've known that for awhile now." Comforting his words might be, but Jack sounded distracted. "Just how sorry is this map of your grandmother's?"

Ah, well. That explained it then. One mention of treasure and the man got all dreamy eyed.

"How familiar are you with the Mediterranean?" Winn asked in return. She'd never heard of Jack being anywhere but the Caribbean, but he must have come from somewhere.

"Jack, where are you from?"

"Not from anywhere around the Mediterranean, but I'm familiar enough with it, why?"

"Never mind that. I want to know where you were born."

"Ship at sea, storm raging over head…haven't we been through all this?"

"No, actually. That bit is new. Still, I know when I'm being fed a load of blarney, Jack."

"No, the bit about being a royal bastard was blarney –"

"Shame. That's probably the only part that Ry would have believed."

Jack really did have to kiss her for that. Then he pulled away and continued. "Like I said, I might have been stretching the truth a little –" Winn snorted and Jack had to refrain from rolling atop her and giving her a good reason to use the smart mouth of hers. "My story, luv. I get to tell it however I wish. As I was saying, the part about the ship and the storm are God's own truth."

A good story, but not impossible Winn supposed. "Fine. Where was this ship?"

"On the sea."

Winn gave his thigh a good hard pinch and was gratified by the way he yelped and scooted away. He even left the blankets with her. She pulled them more closely about her and gave him a serene smile in return for his glare. "What were you saying about this ship, Jack?'

Never mind the bloody ship." Jack dove for the end of the bed, bypassing Winn's formidable grip at the top of the blankets. He wasn't about to let his strong-willed wife think that she had the upper hand in their marriage as all her female relations seemed to believe of theirs. There was only room for one captain on the Pearl and his lovely little despot did not get to claim that title.

Once the moaning subsided – one sided moaning she couldn't help but notice – Winn did her best to glare at Jack. "That," she said as precisely as she could, "was unfair."

"Love and war," he reminded her. "Tell me more about this map."

Winn wanted to say bloody hell to the map and return Jack's favor in kind, if only to wipe that superior tone out of his voice, but she wasn't about to sink to his level.

…and didn't that bring delicious thoughts to mind?

She slapped at the hand pulling back her covers. "If you're trying to find Italy, it'll get you there, far as I can tell," she snapped. " But beyond that you'd be in for quite a search."

"What about the writing in the margins?"

"My best guess is that it has something to do with Naples."

"You can't read Italian?"

"I can read Italian very well, thank you. Grandmamma copied that map from memory. And she too is literate, if that was going to be your next question, so the writing clearly wasn't in Italian. Naples is the only clear word throughout the entire mess, which makes me think that the original map has helpful instructions in Neapolitan, which is nothing like Italian."

"But you decided to use it anyway."

"Twins run in our family, thanks to Grandmamma. She has a twin sister, presumably with some kind of family of her own. What I decided to do was track down that side of the family and get a look at the original map if I couldn't gain the original itself."

"Mmm…devious plan."

"Thank you. Tell me about the place where you were born. Where were you raised? Are your parents still alive? Do you have any siblings? What –"

Jack kissed her just to shut her up, then jerked back in surprise when she bit at him. There was fury in her eyes, he noted as he tried to calm the hands that shoved at him without concern.

"Don't do that," she demanded, angry with him because of his evasiveness. "I'm your wife, not a whore who's about to charge you for another hour, so stop trying to get your money's worth out of me."

"Winnie –"

"No. Don't you 'my dearest' me. I –"

" 'My dearest' you?" Jack repeated.

"That's what my sisters call that way that men get when they think they can cajole a woman out of a perfectly valid reason to get upset."

"I wouldn't call your accusation just now perfectly valid."

Winn's eyes narrowed. "I won't be put off with kisses, Jack. I have every reason to be curious about you. About you, and your life before we met, and the way your mind works, and…and…" The bewildered look on his face didn't help her state of mind any. "Oh, never mind. Just leave me alone then." And Winn flopped over so that her back was to Jack.

"Winn –"

-pwoh-

-pwoh-

-splash-

Splash? Winn propped herself up in bed, her anger forgotten for the moment as she tried to place the familiar sequence of noises.

Jack didn't have the memory problem that Winn did. He knew the sound of cannon fire falling short of its target and he wanted to get on deck before his crew started firing back. In this fog whoever was out there was firing aimlessly, hoping to find a target.

"Stay here," he ordered as he pulled on clothes so hastily discarded the evening before.

"Cannons," Winn murmured. Jack cursed under his breath as he saw the gears in Winn's head turning. "What did you do?" she asked, sounding dismayed. "Who did you rob to make the navy so determined to capture you?" She climbed out of bed – still wrapped in the covers – and reached for the trunks where her clothing was stored.

"The usual," Jack tried to dismiss. Winn was having none of it however. "A Spanish raider…a merchant or two…perhaps a convoy of French dignitaries…."

"Who went directly to the nearest fort and started screaming for your head," Winn muttered as she pulled a long chemise over her head. "God lord… Norrington won't stop until he has your head on a platter."

"What are you… Norrington?" Jack forgot about demanding that Winn stop dressing as he remembered the cozy image Winn in all her finery had made as she strolled down a garden path with the aforementioned commodore. "What's Norrington to do with this?"

The look she gave him as she pulled on her trousers eloquently expressed what she thought of his intelligence. "When you escaped the King's justice in Port Royal – not that they were carrying it out properly –"

"You have complaints about the height of the gallows?" Jack inquired sourly as he stuffed his feet into his boots.

"Just it's position. You were going to be hung inside the garrison. But you're a pirate, and subject to maritime rule. The Admiralty's dominion ends at the high tide mark. The proceedings wouldn't have exactly been legal, though they were willing to overlook that in favor of speed. It's not as if any one would have fussed about it then.

"Anyway, it's those same Lords of the Admiralty whose dominion you're flouting who are hounding Norrington to recapture you. The last thing he needs is for those 'French dignitaries' of yours to write London and lodge a formal complaint. After this, I'd be surprised if the commodore doesn't find himself called back to London to answer for his lack of success, probably at the cost of his career.

"So you tell me: What has Norrington to do with this?"

Jack just looked at Winn as she stood glaring at him, hands planted on her hips. What an astute little thing she was. "I know I'd chosen well," he murmured as he dropped a kiss on Winn's frowning mouth. Then he ordered her, "Stay here," before turning on his heel and leaving the cabin.

He nearly ran into Gibbs just over the threshold of the cabin. He looked at his mate oddly, and Gibbs shrugged. Already Winn was changing how the ship ran. No one wanted to walk in on the captain's lady – or worse, the captain with his lady.

There was no time for Jack to question Gibbs's behavior. "Tell the men to raise anchor and drop canvas. Quietly. I want us gone before the Dauntless puts a finger on us." Cannonballs had kept falling all the while as he and Winn had talked. Some had fallen further away, but now they were growing closer again.

"Aye," Gibbs agreed. Not a moment later a cannon fired, its report louder than ever. The Black Pearl rocked, timbers splintered, and somewhere on deck Pige started howling. The sound rose through the fog, calling the next round of fire.

"All hands on deck!" Gibbs bellowed as Jack went after Winn's mutt. The animal's howls were abruptly cut off; Jack was unsurprised to find Winn there before him. Her hand was wrapped around the beast's muzzle. She glared at him, daring him to say anything about her pet. Another cannonball thudded into the side of the Pearl, drowning out the sound of raised footsteps and calls from the yards. "I thought I asked you to stay in the cabin," he commented, trying to keep a grip on his temper.

"Actually, it sounded suspiciously like an order."

"And we both know how well you respond to those." Jack blamed the situation for making him forget. "Will you please take that animal into the cabin and stay there? I don't have time to argue," he said when she opened her mouth. "Will you please just go?"

He sounded like a man pushed to his limits. Winn wondered why, but she knew that it concerned her. Suddenly it wasn't important for her to make a point by staying at his side.

Jack felt relief as Winn nodded and gathered her struggling pet into her arms. "Don't make me wait in there for too long." She hurried away under his narrowed gaze, wanting to make herself scared before he threatened to lock her in. She wanted the freedom to join him if it became necessary.

The first of the Pearl's cannonade volleys rocked the ship. Jack made sure that Winn was safely out of sight before he returned his attention to his crew. Even with the sails fully dropped, the Pearl's response was sluggish. The weather that had conspired to conceal them was now their enemy. There was barely enough wind to send the ship into motion.

Jack coaxed the Pearl about, slowly bringing her into the wind. Both ships kept firing, both missing their targets more often than not to the Pearl's fortune. Gibbs seemed to be everywhere on deck, directing and/or threatening wherever needed. As a lucky shot sent splinters of the Pearl's rail flying into the air it struck Jack that the mess of battle was more familiar to him than the prospect of facing Winn's questions had been. Then another volley of fire from both ships diverted his attention.

Slowly – painfully slowly – the Black Pearl responded to her captain and crew. The momentum they fought for slowly accumulated until cannon blasts were once again followed by splashes. Soon, or perhaps longer than that since time was hard to gage in the unchanging glow of the fog, the muffled blasts of cannon stopped. Whether they'd outrun the other ship or they'd just give up didn't particularly matter. They were temporarily safe; the men immediately relaxed. Those who were whole helped the wounded to their feet or balanced unsteady steps. Jack turned the helm over to Cotton – as miraculously as always the old man had escaped without so much as a scratch to him or his bird – and went to do his share of doctoring.

Or at least he would have if Winn hadn't appeared in the doors of his…their…cabin, a thunderous look on her face. "Stop right there," she growled in such a commanding tone that every man on deck froze in his steps. She raked them all over with a stern glare as she pronounced, "I'll see the wounded one a time…without argument," she added, her eye on Jack. "Those worse off first, if you please. You unharmed ones can make yourselves useful by hauling water." She grabbed the nearest sailor, a man with a bloody sleeve, and hauled him into the cabin after her.

The rest of the men all stayed where they were, staring after her. Then – as if they shared a single brain between them – they all turned to look at Jack. He shrugged as if to say, I married the wench, didn't I? What more do you want from me? They all looked at each other then before turning their heads back towards the still open doors.

"Well, go on," Jack encouraged, not about to step into the lion's den himself. "I wouldn't make her come out after patients if I were you." The man standing next to him actually shuddered.

"I'm still waiting for water," came the ominous comment from inside the cabin. Those who were wounded found themselves without support as any man who was able headed below deck. Jack hoped at least one of them was going after water and not just getting out of the line of fire.

"Awful quiet in there," one man observed under his breath. "Think she's kilt Big Tom?"

Someone shoved a bucket of water at Jack. He grabbed it awkwardly, water sloshing all over his pants and into his boots. He looked around; it was clear that no man on deck was going to set foot in that cabin before he did.

Pirates, Jack thought, rather disgusted with his crew. Still, what other option did he have but to follow his own advice? Making Winn come out in search of what she needed still seemed like a bad idea.

As unobtrusively as he could, Jack entered the cabin, though he might as well saved himself the trouble. Winn looked up immediate from the needle she was threading.

"You asked for water," Jack reminded her when she frowned at him.

"I know I asked for water." She still looked unhappy. "I suppose hot water was too much to ask for." Without another word she took way the bottle of rum Big Tom was nursing – thus the reason for his silence – and splashed some over the slice in the man's shoulder.

After the caterwauling had quieted, Winn started in the with needle and thread. Too late Jack remembered the patches she'd mangled when she'd been set to mending sails during her last…visit. Poor Tom probably would have faired better if they'd' just let the injury heal naturally.

Contrary to his expectations, Winn's stitches were quick and neat. She worked steadily, quickly, until she was done. From the open trunk at her feet she pulled a clean piece of cloth. She dunked it in Jack's bucket then frowned at him again. This time she held still long enough for Jack to see the concern in her eyes and on her face.

"You can put the bucket down," she murmured as her eyes ran over his cheek. "I don't expect you to stand there and hold it." She raised the dripping cloth in her hand and brushed it over his face. He was surprised to see that it came away smeared with pink.

Jack identified the source of her irritation then: she'd been worried about him.

"Didn't I tell you not to worry, luv?"

"No. You must have overlooked that part in the midst of throwing out orders." A good part of the anxiety on her face was replaced by annoyance. "We're going to have a talk about that later, Jack."

A loud shuffle behind them made the couple turn. Bug Tom had risen from his seat and looked as if he were going to bold. Winn's brows snapped down and her hands crossed over her chest. "Where do you think you're going?" she demanded. "Sit down."

Tom sort of collapsed, as if unwilling to take his chances in a break from the door. Jack grinned as he set the bucket of water down. Big Tom was easily seven feet tall and probably weighed three times as much as Winn. At the least. And his behavior answered a concern that Jack hadn't even thought of yet. Despite the fact that Winn had been a prisoner on her last stay, his crew – or at least Tom – was willing to listen to her.

Winn finished with Tom, saw him to the door, then summoned her next patient. Jack couldn't help but be amused to see his fearsome pirate band following meekly after his less than statuesque wife. Though as she threatened, washed and tended, he wondered where her stockpile of salves and oils had come from. They certainly weren't his, and she was dispensing them as if a fortune couldn't be made from them in port.

"Where'd all that come from?" he asked as Winn ushered the last of his men out the door.

"What do you mean?" Winn asked, confused by the question. A lady knew how to tend those under her care, even if she normally had someone else around to do it for her. Then Jack gestured towards the chest, and she was still confused. "They're yours." Now Jack looked puzzled. "Alright, so they're only very recently yours, but I didn't think you'd mind…" His baffled expression didn't lift. "It's part of my dowry." Now the confusion was lifting. "There ought to be a few more chests around here somewhere with more of the like. Didn't you look through any of them?"

Rather than admit that he'd avoided anything that'd had to do with her, Jack asked, "Where's the mutt?"

Her mouth pursed s if she were about to confront him about his evasiveness, but she didn't start in on it. Rather, she pointed towards the end of the bed as she reaching into her trunk of supplies again. Jack looked. Pige was tied to the end of the bed with what appeared to be stocking. The dog's eyes met his rather pitifully and her tail stirred into a dispirited wag, as if she had no real hope of being released.

A hand on his face distracted him, Winn was back, a clean, wet cloth in her hand. She gently wiped away the blood on his cheek. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"

"If I say no are you going to start yelling at me for ordering you about?"

She scooped some sharp-scented glop out of the pot in her hand and smoothed it over the cut. It stung at first, then eased into a warm tingle. Or maybe that was just because he liked it when she touched him.

Her eyebrows were lowered as she thought about his question, though her mouth didn't firm up the way it did when she was angry. "I do have enough sense to come in out of the rain, Jack. I've been in skirmishes before…and I know that my presence on deck is usually more of a distraction than a help. But I wasn't about to wait about in…in bed. Not being dressed would just be asking fate to allow us to be boarded. I fight much better while clothed."

Well, wasn't this a sticky conversation? Jack reached up and pulled Winn's fingers away from his face; he needed to be able to think clearly. "Actually, luv, you shouldn't be fighting at all. Clothed or otherwise."

She scowled at him, but there was no heat in it. "If we're boarded by pirates, then I most definitely should be able to fight. And if we'd been boarded just now, I don't think anyone would have stopped to inquire whether I'm a pirate or a prisoner before taking steps to…subdue me. I want be able to defend myself if I need to, Jack."

Preferring to ignore the fact that she had a point, Jack said, "I've seen you with a sword in your hand, luv. You'd have a better chance of falling on one than defending yourself. I don't even want to think about what damage you could do with a pistol in your hand –"

"You say this to me after last night?" Winn's eyes immediately went wide in shock and she clapped a hand over her mouth.

Jack's mouth split open into a wide grin and he couldn't help but stroke her burning cheek. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen a woman blush after delivering a sexual innuendo. Personally, he was finding modesty endearing.

"What I meant to say," she mumbled from underneath a hand that seemed to be guarding her tongue, "is that my marksmanship is better than my swordmanship."

"I think I prefer it when you say when you don't mean to say." Jack gently pried her hand down and kissed the mouth that mortified her so. "Now, about this treasure map of yours…" Winn jerked away and glared at him resentfully. "Hear me out, luv. I think a little travel is exactly what this crew needs. A little time away…just until hot waters cool, of course ­–"

"No. Absolutely not!" Winn pulled away and started pacing. From the foot of the bed Pige whimpered and Winn went over to untie her. The ruined stocking floated Jack's way, which only irritated Winn more. The foolish man hadn't died today so he decided to go rushing towards the nations' strongholds?

She spun on her heel and pointed at Jack. Her mouth opened to let out an angry tirade…then closed again when she saw Jack was staring at her warily. As if he thought she was going to hit him. What other option did she have but to calm down and try to string her words together in a way that made sense?

At least Jack had the good judgment to keep his mouth shut and wait for her.

"We confirmed that the English navy wants your head, did we not?"

Jack hesitated before answering. The way she asked that made it sound as if she were asking a trick question. "Yes?"

"And you said that you just robbed a ship carrying French diplomats?"

" 'Robbed' is such a strong word…"

"Robbed," she emphasized. "And then there's the Spanish –"

"What about the Spanish?" Jack asked, starting to feel more than a little affronted.

"Grandfather does business in Havana. You had everyone there riled up a few months ago."

"Ahh…right. The Spanish," Jack processed as he remembered exactly what he might have done recently to get on the bad side of the Spanish crown. "Honestly, do you expect me to remember everyone I've…riled…Winnie?"

"No. That would be a Herculean task. However, if you could remember the nationalities you might understand why I find the prospect of you crossing English trading routes to skirt the tip of Spain to enter the Mediterranean where there's a brisk French trade a little daunting."

Jack had to concentrate to keep track of the salient points. English, Spaniards, French... At least she hadn't remembered Barbary pirates. Though pirates were pirates, so he ought to be able to handle them.

And of course, Winn didn't really have a say in matters…

No. He ought to be ashamed of himself… But then, Winn reacted to strongly. She clearly hadn't taken the time to think matters through. The Pearl was far more notorious in the Caribbean where it'd been hunting for the last then years than it would be in the north. He had enough flags in a trunk here in the cabin to make him an ally of everyone she'd mentioned and quite a few others besides. Along with a decent plan and a bit of good timing…

It wouldn't be nearly as foolhardy as Winn imagined.

She just needed time to think it all through. It'd take at least another ten days to complete the crossing. A quick stop in São Jorge in the Azores to get information from the locals about naval activity…resupply…

Winn was surprised when Jack's attention focused on her suddenly. There was a smile on his face that she didn't entirely trust. "Are you sure I can't convince you to run away with me, luv? I imagine I'm not the only one who might need to wait for the waters to cool. Your family wasn't too happy with you when I left."

"Then all I have to do is show up with you in tow, Jack. Come to think of it, Osprey Point is even a safe place to wait for all the trouble you've caused to blow over."

Jack tried not to shudder. She meant well, but he'd spent enough time on land to last him for a long while. The same went for time spent with her family. Not that he was about to tell her that. There was no point in upsetting her before he absolutely had to.

And she was going to be upset when she found out they were going to Italy despite her protests.

"I'm sure you're right, luv." Jack pulled her in, nuzzling the skin behind her ear before she could demand a promise of some kind out of him; it was in her eyes to do it. There was difference between just not telling the all of the truth and breaking a promise. "Now, why don't we go find a bite to eat?" As she capitulated, he tried to convince himself that once she saw reason she couldn't possibly stay mad.

Now…if only he could devise a good reason for all this, he'd have no worries at all. He had ten days. He could come up with something good.

He was Captain Jack Sparrow.

Unfortunately for Jack, he didn't figure Mrs. Captain Jack Sparrow into his equations.