Disclaimer: I could say that Pirates of the Caribbean and all of the places, characters, and objects belonged to me, but it would strain credulity.
A/N: I know, I suck. I'm very sorry this took me so long to post, but I hope you enjoy it.
As with the first time he had invited her to come into his cabin and away from the cold, she garnered a certain and undeniable feeling of hominess from curling up in its confines, only these days she was far more apt to burrowing beneath the many blankets piled atop the four-poster bed in lieu of her former spot on the couch. Barbossa stared at her admirably now as she sat propped against the pillows, a book held in one hand, and in the other, an apple that she would occasionally nibble at.
"Now why couldn't ye have done that when I asked it of ye so long ago? Such a simple request."
She regarded him thoughtfully before answering, taking an absent-minded bite from the fruit. "I suppose I'd heard one too many fairy tales as a child involving poisoned apples."
"And yet you didn't believe in ghost stories, or so ye told me."
She gave him an impudent sigh and rolled her eyes, but her demeanor was sincere. "I suppose perhaps I just didn't want to believe, wanted to think that you were just a filthy old cad who'd been without for too long and just trying to frighten me into your bed."
"Exactly where you be now." The smile he wore was both triumphant and lascivious. "And I suppose you thought that once I'd got you there that I'd do somethin' despicable to ye. Something you really didn't think you wanted, but what you damn well needed, whether ye knew it or not. Your naivety and impudence begged for it," he said, settling himself beside her, propped on one elbow.
"That's exactly what I thought, dear Hector," she replied, grinning, and her voice had grown slightly husky. Her book abandoned for the time being, she took a slow, deliberate bite from the apple in her hand, letting the juice trickle carelessly down her chin.
His gaze followed the runaway droplets; he brought one arm around her and leaned down to capture it from where it had strayed down her neck. She titled her head back, reclining into his strong, but gentle touch, relishing the feeling of his tongue slipping over her skin. He lingered at the hollow of her neck for a moment before returning to claim her lips in a maddeningly slow and tender kiss.
"Perhaps there was a time when I would have liked nothin' better, Dove," he said softly, stroking her cheek. "Perhaps I want it right now." He smiled as a pair of arms encircled his neck with unyielding eagerness, and he allowed himself to be pulled into a rather dominant and aggressive kiss, knowing she very much enjoyed the feeling of taking him so and getting away with it. As he returned her unsubdued passion in kissing his lips, his face, his neck, he had managed to position himself so that he straddled her, letting her peel the bandana from his head and loose the plait that he wore in it so his hair was draped wildly about his shoulders, tickling her as it hung above her face. She would have been more than willing in that moment to take things to a point of no return, had it not been for the faint, but distinct call of 'Ship ho!' coming from above them. He swore and groaned loudly in response, letting his head fall upon her neck in frustration. She couldn't help but giggle softly as she stroked his head in mock consolation.
"There, there, Captain Barbossa, we can finish our little game later, once we've seen to this ship they're bawling about."
"Hang the ship!" he growled, throwing himself at her with fervent enthusiasm.
"Oh, good grief – Hector!" She had honestly meant to make an attempt at prying him from herself and stepping out to see what sort of a ship had been spotted, but what he was doing to her neck at the moment drove it completely from her mind, and she found herself simply sighing with pleasure beneath him while she wove her fingers through his hair and gently dragged her nails over his shoulders. She knew she ought to have been more insistent, and that despite himself, he would have wanted her to be, but it was in such moments of rebellion that she sometimes liked to imagine that chunks of the past had never happened, that her blood had worked and she was back in his cabin aboard the Pearl, acting with sincerity every bit the bride he had wanted her to be and that she loved every last moment of it. She was his bushel of apples and his wine, and he was what she had dreamed of for as long as she could remember — her very own flesh and blood pirate, and a captain at that. While he may not have been exactly what she had pictured, she took secret enjoyment in the fact that so very much lay beneath the surface with him, unlike more polished members of society she had known in her lifetime; little more than empty shells of what a human being was supposed to be like. He could be wild and almost frightening, and yet in the same breath, take her in his arms in such a way that she felt safe, protected, inexorably loved. And yet, even with all this, she got the feeling as of late that something was missing, that perhaps things were not quite right for the simple fact that the ship upon which they sailed did not quite suit or match them in spirit, at least not the way it would have had it been a certain other.
Her eyes flew open; his sudden exclamation had given her a bit of a start and for a moment she wondered how he had managed to see into her thoughts.
"What?" she asked, befuddled.
"Did ye not here 'em? They said it's the Pearl!"
Before she could question him any further, he had sprung to his feet and thrown the door open, and she was quick to follow. A quick look through the spyglass told them that the ship in the distance was, in fact, the Black Pearl. Elizabeth leaned over the railing, her knuckles going white and a smile spreading over her face. Barbossa stood beside her, looking beyond pleased, and she leaned into his embrace.
"By the powers, Pet, but I've missed 'er." Elizabeth said nothing, but placed her hand atop his and squeezed it tightly. He brought her hand to his lips, his other arm snugly about her, lightly stroking her shoulder, and she noted that he now regarded the approaching vessel with the same leer that had fallen upon her in bygone days, before she had been his. She could not help but wonder idly if she wore the same expression, though intuition told her that there was no need to question the fact. She at least, however, was able to suppress her strange new desire in lieu of the curiosity that was threatening to overcome her as the two vessels came to be anchored in closer proximity; her yearning to discover what had transpired since they had last parted ways with Jack and Will had been growing stronger with each passing day, despite her happiness otherwise, and there was always the slightest pang of regret that accompanied such thoughts.
As it turned out, she was given all the answers she could have wished for, though perhaps they did not all bode well with her, and she found herself idly bringing a finger to her mouth and biting at her nails as she sat at the table inside the cabin of the Black Pearl, Barbossa on one side of her and Jack on the other.
"That's all good and well, Jack, but what about 'said terrible beastie', as ye called it?" Jack appeared to be momentarily confused with Barbossa's inquiry.
"It's sitting directly across from me, drinking my wine and roving its filthy claws over the girl what was daft enough to marry it," he replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, his tone holding a small amount of distaste. Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him wearily.
"Jack, the kraken. Will can't have kept it alive."
"William provided us with a fantastic encore to the little trick he pulled with powder and rum when the bloody thing accosted us last time, though it was much more effective in this instance, I might mention. Huge bits of it went everywhere, for which I thanked him. Kept us fed for a week. Add a little rum and paprika and it tastes quite nice, actually."
"Though I'm quite sure it didn't taste as good a second time." The voice belonged to someone who had just entered, and despite his disheveled and dirty appearance, there was a regal quality about him as well; he was clearly a man who had mastered the task of carrying himself proudly. Elizabeth could not help but beam at the sight of him waltzing in, both graceful and lazy in manner.
"James! But, but I thought you were – "
"Perhaps I was, Elizabeth," he replied with a sly smile, not waiting for her to finish.
"Lizzy, do you recall that life he wanted back so badly?" Jack queried, lazily swirling the contents of his goblet. "It would seem that after all the trouble he went through to regain it, that propriety perhaps did not suit him quite so well after all." He smiled knowingly at her, as well as Barbossa, who returned the gesture. "So all in all," he continued, "Each of us has ended up with exactly what we wanted, even if some of us perhaps didn't know we wanted what it was that we wanted."
Elizabeth allowed herself a coquettish grin. "And only one of us required a compass to show them what it was, though it had been under his feet for most of the time."
"Touché, love." Jack raised his glass as James unceremoniously took a seat beside him. "But I must confess," he continued, "that I do believe I like mine a great deal better." He glanced round the cabin of the Pearl.
"All in the eye of the beholder, Captain Sparrow. And I never would have guessed that I'd see the day, James," she said with a glance in Norrington's direction.
"Begging your pardon, Elizabeth?" he inquired. Never had she been nor would she be 'Miss Swann' or 'Mrs. Turner' and certainly never 'Barbossa' to him. Just Elizabeth, and it made her smile.
"Meaning, James," she replied, raising her glass and indicating the rum in his hand, "Your drink. I always assumed it was wine for a more refined breed, am I correct, Captain?"
"Aye, ye speak the truth, Dove."
"'Dove'? You're already starting to refer to one another in juvenile and slightly sickening domestic terms of endearment? Why, if I didn't know any better, Hector, I'd say you're starting to go soft."
"Ah, but ye see, it be just the opposite, Jack," said Barbossa with a self-satisfied drawl, shrewdly narrowing his eyes at his fellow captain. Elizabeth went slightly pink and bit her lip to repress a smile and a laugh, James rolled his eyes, and Jack's lip had a slight curl; his facial expression suggested that he had a most unpleasant taste in his mouth, and he had also in that moment taken in Hector's disheveled appearance.
"Well," he began in a slightly higher pitch than normal, "this little rendezvous has been nothing short of delightful, but I daresay we ought to be going our separate ways, wouldn't ye say so, Jamie?"
"Mm." Norrington seemed to be somewhat lost in thought, eyeing Elizabeth and Barbossa with a look that bordered somewhere between bewildered and amused, and maybe perhaps, the slightest bit of admiration, though he wouldn't admit it to anyone, save perhaps Jack, and even then not for quite some time. However he seemed to have adapted to piratical life, James Norrington, like Barbossa, still retained much of the gentleman he was raised to be along with the rogue he had become. As Elizabeth had risen from her seat, still pushing down what was left of her smile at Barbossa's earlier remark, she had felt a hand on her shoulder, and was unsurprised to turn about and see him wearing a roguish smirk that suited him remarkably well, and she couldn't help but think once more to herself how much nicer he looked without that foppish wig on his head.
"Elizabeth – " he paused, the slightest hint of a swagger in his step, and to her surprise, he pulled her close and kissed her on the forehead. "The very best to you." He glanced at Barbossa, looking as though he were uncertain what quite to make of him. "And to yours," he added as an afterthought.
During this exchange, Barbossa had taken seen fit to take Jack aside, as discreetly as possible given their close quarters. "Certain this ain't one o' your wild stories, Jack?"
For the most part, he had been inclined to believe everything that Jack and Norrington had shared, but there was a hint of doubt that lingered ever in his mind when dealing with Sparrow; he had, after all, not been above telling tales in the past.
"What?" Jack countered, seemingly taken off guard. "William Turner taking upon himself captaincy of the Flying Dutchman, and Tia Dalma sashaying off right along with him? Freeing the entire crew save for that one charge who's to blame for all this mess in the first place? Mate, not even I'm quite capable of concocting a tale that far-fetched and somewhat disturbing. Although," he added thoughtfully, "I imagine he'll soften up and take ol' Cutler to the world beyond rather than have 'im stickin' round for a hundred years."
Barbossa's gaze dropped to the floor, his brows furrowed in thought. Some moments later, he brought himself to give a sideways glance at his comrade once more, to find the man wearing an amused, almost sympathetic smile.
"Whelp o' Bill Turner takin' captaincy of Jones' ship and the locker to boot . . ." Barbossa shook his head. "God help us all."
"Hector, I doubt if a truer statement has ever left the confines of your filthy mouth."
"I'm sure," he sneered. "And what possessed ye to take on the coxcomb?" He cast a quick glance at Norrington, scowling when he saw the way he was bidding Elizabeth farewell. Jack shrugged.
"Never was one to turn down a kindred spirit, you know that. And what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, aye? He's tried to kill me on numerous occasions, and yet here I am. If there is one thing I have learned from young Mr. Turner, or Captain Turner, as I suppose we must now call 'im, is that fops and prigs make fine pirates once you get them to see your side o' things. You of all people should know that. Jamie was a fine fop and he'll make an even finer pirate, I'll wager," he smiled fondly.
"Nonetheless, I'd be keepin' an eye on 'im if I were you, lad."
"Oh? And why is that?"
"He reminds me much of meself," he replied with a toothy grin. Jack wrinkled his nose.
"My thanks for that little warning," he said, though it was obvious by his actions that he didn't think much of it. "Now then, off ye go." Jack had been gracious enough, by his own way of thinking, to allow them aboard for a short time, but had done so only because he knew Elizabeth would be eager to learn what sort of a hand fate had dealt them regarding their pursuit of the Dutchman. He was all too eager now to see the back of them once more and be left to do his own bidding, as he had been attempting to do for the past fourteen years. He frowned for just a moment before allowing it to shift into a grim smile as they exited his cabin, for although he was happy to see them finally striding along the gangplank, there was still an inexplicable feeling of unease in the pit of his stomach; perhaps he would have preferred it if they had remained in clear sight, after all.
The two of them stood leaned against the railing of Orpheus, in the usual spot. The same spot, Elizabeth fondly recalled, where she had been ensnared in her captain's arms and felt his lips upon hers for the first time. And yet now, his expression was neither seductive nor salacious; she tentatively coiled her arm around his and lay her head against his shoulder, joining him in watching the Pearl shrink ever farther into the distance. He glared at it determinedly, almost bitterly, hardly blinking.
"Are you quite alright?"
He heaved a sigh, slipping his arm from her grasp and hugging her to his side, his chin upon her head. "I want 'er back, Elizabeth." His tone left no reason to doubt the intent behind his statement.
"So do I," she whispered. She felt him tighten his hold on her, and looked up to see a dark and anxious smile beginning to cross his face as his eyes slowly fell upon her.
"D'ye mean it, Pet?" For as much as he had a rushing desire within him to reclaim his ship at almost any cost, he had been unsure what her opinion may have been of it. She put her arms about his middle and kissed him on the chin before nestling against his chest once more.
"You taught me long ago that it's no good lying to you, did you not?"
"Aye, that I did, and I be glad to see yer still learnin' quickly," he murmured, running his fingers through her hair.
She looked up at him once more, brows furrowed in concern. "I do mean it, but only on the condition no one aboard that ship is maimed or killed."
"Really?" Rather than being pleased about his prompt answer, she had been taken aback by the solid surety in his tone when he gave it. She doubted very much if he would ever make an attempt at Jack's life or well being again, but had little doubt in her mind about the latest addition to Captain Sparrow's crew.
What she did not know was that Barbossa had given a great deal of thought regarding Mr. Norrington. While it was true that he had been responsible for making things as complicated as they turned out, Barbossa had to thank him for it. Had things notbecome so deliciously complex, he would be standing now in possession of his ship only, and not the unlikely person in his arms along with the promise of the former as well.
"And with that said, I'll be givin' orders to pursue."
"Oh, I don't know about that, Hector," she said lazily, putting her hand into his and lacing their fingers together. He frowned at her.
"Don't be tellin' me yer havin' second thoughts. Ye want 'er back as bad as I do. I know what want looks like, 'Lizabeth. Seen it enough times. And I be seein' it in yer eyes now."
"Indeed you do. For the Black Pearl and other things besides," she added slyly. "However, I think we can afford to give them a day's head start."
An expression between crestfallenness and annoyance quickly distorted his features; while she could never remember a feeling of being quite so happy and free as she was now, there was no denying that the two of them had already had some rather fabulous disagreements, the least of which had caused the entire crew to skirt nervously about them until their debate at the time was settled. She knew in her heart that he would never again take to being violent with her, as he had at Isla De Muerta, but even at a distance, he could be intimidating, particularly when he shouted at the top of his voice in a towering temper. Yet for all the unpleasantries of quarreling, making up afterwards was always equally, if not more so, fabulous. She remained silent as he continued to bore into her with his steely gaze, hoping to herself that now would not become one of those times, even if she would have thoroughly enjoyed the apologies between them.
"A day's head start?"
She nodded sweetly.
"It's only fair and sporting, and I know you to be a reasonable man. Besides," she added, reaching up to stroke his face, "it'll give us a chance to finish what we started." A shudder of pleasure ran through her at the deep laugh he gave in response, as well as the way he nipped at her hand.
"It be a wonder yer not with child, what with the hunger ye have fer such things. Where exactly was it that we left off?" he queried teasingly.
"My naivety and impudence begging for something I damn well needed, if I recall properly. You were even prepared to 'hang the ship' as you put it; I'm not entirely sure how we've gone from hanging to pursuing."
"Unique circumstances, 'Lizabeth. I hate to see what's rightfully mine in the hands of another man what doesn't deserve 'er. What say ye to half a day, and I'll procure us some satin sheets fer our cabin on the Pearl?"
She stared at him skeptically as she considered his offer. "Red ones? And do you intend to ravish me on them?"
"Aye, and frequently."
"Very well then." She grinned cattishly. "Shall we?" she inquired, the direction of her glance indicating their current quarters.
"Thought ye'd never ask," was his playfully sarcastic rejoinder.
"Hector?" she began tentatively, as they walked along the deck, arms slung about one another's shoulders.
"You – you wouldn't mind terribly much, would you?"
"Would I mind what?"
She swallowed with some difficulty. "If — if I . . . you and I, that is, were to find ourselves . . . with child?"
"No." He stopped and turned to her, brows knitted with curiosity. "Why? Be ye wantin' babies, Pet?"
She squeezed his hand, regarding him with almost amused trepidation while she bit her lip. His expression went from one of curiosity to that of slight incredulity and comical disbelief.
"Be ye certain?"
"No," she answer softly. "But almost."
"Ah, so I see. And when exactly were ye plannin' on tellin' me?"
"Now, it would seem." Her tone was quiet and subdued and altogether unlike the one she normally took on. It would seem that she had been almost afraid of how he would react at the prospect. 'Silly little bird, how very mistaken you are,' he thought to himself. He sighed deeply, taking her face in his hands and gently lowering his mouth to hers, taking care to slowly capture her lower lip between his own. In spite of the fact that she had by now kissed him many, many times, he never failed to render her breathless when he kissed her in such a manner, and he though he would normally grin in lascivious self-satisfaction and redouble his actions, this time he simply embraced her tightly and closed his eyes, kissing her firmly on the top of the head.
"Hector, darling," she said after a while.
"Yes?" He had been gazing out at the horizon, his mind lost in thought and his hand in her wavy brown tresses.
"Our half day is wasting away."
Rolling his eyes, he shook his head and looked down at her yet again. "Still and always a shameless little brat." His hands traveled to her backside, where they seemed to come to rest so comfortably and conveniently. He bent down to whisper in her ear as he pulled her against him. "And always I'll love ye for it."
"Likewise, Captain Barbossa."
'Almost' would quickly leave absolutely no reason whatsoever for doubt, and the months melted away impossibly fast, it seemed, and the following spring would find them together in the cabin of the Pearl, snuggled beneath satin sheets as he'd promised, with the addition of the child that would grow to have Elizabeth's wildly elegant visage and Hector's steely, sea-blue eyes, lying between them. Robert, or Robbie, as they called him, would, unfortunately for some, inherit both of their tempers, something that no doubt pleased Hector a great deal. But for the time being, they simply strode to the cabin of Orpheus together, unaided by persuasion or ulterior motives, and neither led the other — they went hand in hand.
A/N: So there you have it. And believe me, I cannot express how very truly sorry I am that I've neglected this story the way I have. I know it's not fair to readers, but trust me, it wasn't for lack of trying! Guess that'll teach me to start a fic and not have a clear idea where I'm headed with it, heh. Thank you so much to all who have read and stuck with this thing for so long, and especially to those who helped me along with ideas and criticism; you have no idea how helpful you have been with your wonderfully kind messages and reviews. To think, when I started this, I was actually afraid I'd get flamed for doing what I thought would be regarded as a 'yucky' pairing! On a side note, I'm thrilled that the enthusiasm for Barbossabeth has exploded so much since the final movie was released, huzzah! And though they'll probably never see, I also have to thank Geoffrey Rush for making Hector into such a multi-dimensional and human character, and for having the quiet, unspoken chemistry shared between himself and Keira in their scenes together. Took an enormous amount of inspiration from them, I did.
Other than that, I have to say that this story has been a fun ride, and I've had a great time writing it. Also, I wasn't able to work this bit into the story, but I figured I'd mention it here – I think giving the circumstances of the plot, Jack probably told Governor Swann that Elizabeth had simply married herself a sea captain. Or you can come to your own conclusions about what transpired. I'm just not sure Jackie would have the heart to tell him she ran off with the man who held her captive, lol. Norrington LIVES, yay! (What a waste that was, wasn't it?!) I also fiddled with the Dutchman legend a bit, and just let Tia Dalma be herself rather than use the Calypso storyline; I didn't much care for that bit. And I gave in and had her go away with Will, since they shared a subtle, but very prominent chemistry in DMC, much as Hector and Liz share one in the first and third films.