Am I dead?

Yes.

Is this hell?

Close.

Where's the rum?

Silence.

Jack opened his eyes, though it didn't make much of a difference. He gazed blindly into the pitch black abyss which surrounded him.

I said, where's the rum?

No answer.

His eyes darted around nervously, as one who just finds out he is blind. Except worse. He was dead. And he knew it. He had never truly feared death until now. Is this it? The afterlife? Just pitch blackness? The minute he thought those words, a small stream of light suddenly escaped from the dark. It began small and threadlike and then suddenly grew until it encompassed the full width of the doorway. Jack squinted in attempt to distinguish the source of this light, until a strange yet familiar silhouette formed an eclipse against the doorframe, rendering an eerie green halo which outlined the figure.

I believe you still have a debt to pay, Jack Sparrow.

Jack tried to sit up, wherever he was, yet he found himself immobile. And who am I speaking to? he asked in his mind's voice, for he discovered he was unable to move his lips as well.

I saved you, Jack. I saved you… in the Kraken, remember? I saved you from the repulsive fate of decay from an acidic digestion. A fate of slowly-melting bones, of dissipating skin, of painful despair and of terrible agony. You were not dead, then, do you remember? You were not dead yet, physically, though your heart had passed away long before.

Jack felt himself sweating, cringing at the images which were flashing through his mind. And w-who am I s-speaking to?

Don't you remember, Jack? Don't you remember? You have a debt to pay...

Jack finally recognized the voice which was speaking to him, the voice who was now standing before him.

"I believe it was one hundred souls." As he stepped forward, a tentacle glimmered wetly in the poor light. He moved out of the doorframe, causing the light to enter the room. Jack's eyes adjusted to the dim light and he realized that he was on the Flying Dutchman. He gradually regained the ability move his muscles, at least enough to prop himself up against the wall. Jack could feel his bones grinding on each other and felt heavy, as if his body was made of stone. He painfully lifted his arm up to the light, and then examined his hand; it was discolored and was becoming encrusted with barnacles. Jack's eyes widened in shock and he opened his mouth to gasp; except that instead of air, water filled his lungs.

"I merely asked for one hundred souls, Jack," he snickered malevolently, and then gave a repulsive snort as a bubble escaped from one of his tentacles, "But I guess yours will do."


"Pirate." he smiled.

It was a sad smile, she remembered it quite clearly. It was almost like a light-hearted smirk after the word escaped his lips. But his eyes… his eyes were sad. She had never seen Jack display any sort of emotion until that moment; that moment which could have killed her on the inside if it wanted to. She could have died right there, in that moment. She could have chained herself to the damned ship and died right there, alongside the infamous but good Captain Jack Sparrow. She wanted to. She would die in that moment if only she could have the chance to kiss him again. Was that bad? Of course, she loved Will. She could never love a man (let alone a man like poor old Jack Sparrow!) as she loved Will Turner. He was willing to risk his life for her, and her for him. They were so close to getting married on that dreadful day. Yet even as she waited, waited in the cold rain for the groom, she had begun to have second thoughts. Was this what she wanted? To spend the rest of her life as the wife of another Commodore? Was this not the same exact predicament from which she was trying to escape?

William had changed, that was certain. He had matured since the Black Pearl had disappeared from the horizon of Port Royal. He had taken to signing documents and dressing in expensive clothes and taking himself too seriously… and becoming a respectable man (above all things!). He never seemed to have time for Elizabeth, for he always had to deal with 'more important matters'. That is, until they were arrested. From the moment Will had promised her that he would reclaim their freedom, when he had gently grazed her face with his hands, promising her that he would return and that they would start their life together… that was when Elizabeth regained hope. In that instance, Elizabeth saw the young Will again; the gleam in his eyes had returned along with his vigor for adventure. And yet she felt that the strong connection which they once had possessed had not been renewed. Will continued to ignore her, until eventually he rarely gave her the time of day, as he became enveloped with the quest of saving his dead father from Davey Jones's grasp. Elizabeth soon began to feel as if she were competing for attention, as if with another woman, except this woman's name happened to be Adventure. William's renewed lust for adventure had driven him completely away from the love which they both once had for each other.

And so Elizabeth happened to find herself alone with Jack. Searching for Will, of course. "I am looking for the man I love," she said, yet after she spoke the words a shadow of doubt seemed to grow in her heart. After a few days spent back on the Black Pearl, Elizabeth began to feel belonged. She was strangely comfortable doing men's work and began to learn exactly how the ship was maneuvered. But most of all, she felt she belonged because she was with the sea. She had always dreamed of a life of sailing the oceans of the world of discovering new things. She had grown to hate Port Royal as much as she hated Tortuga (if not more!); after all, there were just as many childish fights, except they were covered with a 'civilized air'. Bargains, instead of fights for courage. Bargains. That was civilized, except the corruption continued to get worse as the East Indian Trading Company gained more power. Elizabeth could look out to the sea and forget about all of this. About everything. It was nice just to live in the present, to have nothing on her mind except to stare at the horizon. Well, not absolutely nothing.

During her entire stay on the Black Pearl, Jack had, oddly enough, been attempting to console her. He would merely appear from nowhere and suddenly be staring at the endless sea with her, not saying a word. Upon realizing his presence, Elizabeh would look over at him through the corner of her eye, but Jack would just stare straight ahead, never taking his eyes off the horizon, beams of sunlight illuminating his dark, cinnamon eyes. After a prolonged silence, Elizabeth would finally say, "It's nice." And then Jack would reply, without averting his gaze, "Yes, it is," and then promptly return to his captain-like duties. If he had any duties. It made Elizabeth wonder. Other times, he would have casual conversation with her. It was nice, to have someone to talk to who would actually listen to what she had to say.

But there was nothing romantic about the talks or horizon-watching which she spent with Jack. He was a friend… a good friend. She grew to trust him, although he was probably the most notoriously untrustworthy individual she had met in her life. Yet for some reason she trusted him.

"My intuitive sense of the female creature informs me that you are troubled," Jack seemed to once again appear out of nowhere. Elizabeth gave out a small smile, but it didn't last.

"I… just thought I'd be married by now," Elizabeth said, her voice cracking with emotion. That was all she said, though she was actually troubled over the question of Will. Did he still love her? But she would never discuss this with Jack. Although when Captain Sparrow looked at her, straight into her eyes, she knew that he understood exactly why she was troubled. It was not because of the interruption in the marriage; it was because of doubt. Jack Sparrow had lived with doubt his whole life, which was precisely why his compass never worked.

"Well," he said, in effort to avoid the true source of her troubled-ness, "You know, I am, after all, captain of a ship," he paused, "Therefore I have the power to perform a marriage, right here, right on this ship… right… now," his same gaze which he took out onto the horizon was now directed into Elizabeth's eyes. He seemed to her like a child, with the immature spontaneity and impulsiveness which all children possess. She laughed lightly, but then began to feel uncomfortable at the thought of ever marrying such a man as Jack Sparrow. And so she replied with a simple "no thank you" and started off. Consequently, she suddenly felt as if she were a grown woman, a responsible adult, and immediately regretted her words. But she knew it was true; they could never be married. Not only was the idea itself preposterous, but it simply wouldn't work. After all, Will was the perfect man for her. What more could she possibly ask for? Why was she feeling sorry for herself when she has a perfect life ahead of her?

Elizabeth tried to shrug off all of these doubts, but she could not escape from Jack's penetrating gaze. At the present moment, she could remember his words: "We aren't so different, you and I." It was true. She denied it at first, but deep down, she knew it to be true. And now, staring into the darkness on Barbosa's ship, unable to distinguish the line which divided the sky from the sea, she finally understood what had led Jack to return to the Black Pearl. That was what had driven her to enclose the shackles around Jack's wrist. That was what had driven her to the treason of her most intimate friend in this world. That was what had driven her to kiss him. Not love, not hate, but curiosity. She wanted to know what it tastes like.

Why had she killed him?

"Pirate." he smiled.