CHAPTER 18

The crew was furious, but hadn't moved an inch.

Will stared at the red feathered dart which was sticking out from Barbossa's neck as he lay there in the dune of coins. Then he looked back at Jack:

"But you…", he started, but followed the invisible line of Jack's index finger as he was pointing at the crowd – five crewmembers had a strong grip on Elizabeth as they were standing there on the cave floor below Jack and Will. Will immediately made a move forwards, but Jack grabbed his shoulder and held him back:

"Bad idea, mate…", he said and Will noticed how one of the crew was holding a knife against Elizabeth's throat. Will's eyes immediately shot wide open:

"Don't you harm her!!", he yelled, but the crew men didn't move, they were just staring at him fiercely. They meant business.

"Spill his blood, captain!!!", someone yelled in the crowd, and the rest quickly started cheering it, stomping their feet in a monotone rhythm. The crew couldn't quite grasp what had just happened… but they still had faith in their new captain. It HAD been an accord after all. Jack's eyes started to flicker a bit. Will put a hand on his shoulder:

"Jack, what do we do???", he asked almost frantically. And Jack turned his head slowly, looking at Will:

"We spill your blood", he just said. Will frowned and involuntarily took a step backwards, bumping into the sedated Barbossa.

"What???", Will asked and looked from Jack to Elizabeth, who was yelling obscenities at Jack. A roar was immediately heard from the crowd and suddenly Jack grabbed a hold of Will's neck and forced him to bend over the chest of Aztec gold coins. Will actually didn't resist much… it was the only chance to free Elizabeth.

"NO!!!! Jack!!!", Elizabeth yelled, but Jack ignored her. Will closed his eyes:

"Promise that you will let Elizabeth go free", he said under his breath as he could hear Elizabeth start crying. However Jack didn't answer and now Will felt the shard of the blade on his throat.

"Jack, promise!!!", he yelled and started resisting a bit, but Jack held him down and removed the blade a little:

"Oh, quit whining!", Jack just said and suddenly a sharp pain exploded in Will's finger.

"AUCH!", Will burst out and immediately opened his eyes. In front of him Jack was holding his hand, and Will saw how blood trickled from his index finger, forming a big drop.

"What….?", Will began, but Jack interrupted him:

"I'll let ye both go…! Taking yer life actually isn't necessary", Jack mumbled as he looked out on the crew, who had fallen completely silent with their mouths dropped open. An angry mumbling started in the crowd, but Jack immediately held up Will's hand as it was on display for them all to see:

"Look here, gents! One drop of blood will set ye free!", Jack yelled and the crowd just stared at him. Elizabeth was pale as a sheet as her eyes constantly shifted from Will to Jack. With a smooth movement Jack grabbed the medallion from the monkey, who was sitting on Barbossa's belly – immediately it started shrieking and jumping up and down.

"Oh, shut up!", Jack said as he forced the medallion into Will's palm:

"Now drop it", he said as he let go of Will, who merely stared at him confused. But he did as commanded, and opened his hand. Complete silence fell, and everyone watched the bloody medallion as it fell – almost in slow motion – into the pile of coins in the chest. It landed with a small, metallic sound… and it was like a breeze suddenly filled the cave. Will looked at the crowd – everyone was patting themselves on the shoulders or knees, and looking at each other suspiciously. They let go of Elizabeth who immediately ran to the top of the treasure pile and hugged Will:

"Oh thank god, thank god!!!", she whispered as tears were flowing from her light brown eyes. Will hugged her tightly:

"I love you, Elizabeth!", he whispered and he could feel how she hugged him even tighter. But their hug was interrupted by someone in the crowd:

"How do we know if it works??", a big black man with tattoos rumbled. Jack raised an eyebrow:

"Oh that's easy…", he said and suddenly pulled out a small dagger and threw it into the crowd. Someone let out an agonized sound and the crew men quickly spread – in the middle of the circle stood a man with the dagger buried in his thigh. Everyone was staring at him expectantly…. And then the blood started to flow. With that an ear tearing cheering broke out – even from the wounded man – and everyone started jumping up and down and to and fro in sheer joy.

"Curse lifted, mates. Thank me some other time…!", Jack said and turned to Will and Elizabeth:

"See? Ye're unharmed and everything… plus the Pearl's mine… what else could a captain ask for?", Jack smiled, revealing his silver and gold teeth. Elizabeth immediately hugged him:

"Thank you, Jack!", she burst out. Will was smiling as well:

"But why did you pretend you wanted to kill me??", he asked and looked at Jack. He merely shrugged:

"Gotta give the audience what they want, ey?", he said and chuckled.

"Plus, it was fun", he added and started grinning when Will nudged him. The crowd had already left the cave and were on their way back to the Pearl. Jack, Will and Elizabeth couldn't help but laugh a little at the whole situation.

"What's so bloody damn funny!?", a voice behind them suddenly said and all three of them spun around – and there stood Barbossa with his cutlass pointed at them. All three of them took a step backwards.

"Welcome back", Jack joked and winked at Barbossa, who was obviously furious:

"Ye betrayed me!", Barbossa burst out and pointed the sword at Jack. Will had in the meantime picked up the small amber knife and had put it in one of his boots. Jack put an index finger in the air:

"Actually ye got just what ye wanted… got the boy, the curse is lifted, and I am the captain of the Pearl", Jack said and watched how confusion spread on Barbossa's face… taking a deep breath he COULD feel some sort of change. And all of the crew was gone as well. However Barbossa wasn't quite happy:

"I wanted him dead!!", he said and now pointed the cutlass at Will. Elizabeth was just shaking her head:

"Why can't we all just get along…", she said under her breath, but no one seemed to hear her.

"THAT was part of the deal!", Barbossa said and took a step closer to Will, who immediately pulled Elizabeth with him and made her hide behind him.

"But ye didn't specify how and when", Jack said and turned around, ready to leave the cave – however something heavy hit him in the back of the head, and he fell to the gold-covered ground unconscious. Will and Elizabeth stared baffled at Barbossa and the golden statue he held in his hand.

"It's just you and me now, whelp…!", Barbossa spat as he let the heavy statue fall to the ground. Will's eyes narrowed:

"Are you sure you want to cross blades with me?", he just said as all of the memories bubbled up inside him again. Barbossa merely smiled:

"A bullet will do", he said as he suddenly drew his pistol – but Will acted fast and kicked it out of his hand, making it land down on the cave floor. Barbossa sighed:

"Or a good ol' fashioned sword fight will do", he said and drew his cutlass again.

"Please, can't we just…", Elizabeth started, but Barbossa interrupted her:

"No, Miss Swann… we cannot… and I think Mr Turner agrees!", he said and Elizabeth looked at Will, who was nodding. She sighed, but she understood… But she just couldn't handle any more drama. But then again she couldn't leave Will behind. And she didn't want to either.

"FINE!", she said and walked down towards the cave floor. This was the start signal and Barbossa immediately swung his cutlass at Will. He ducked just in time and picked up a silver sword from the pile of gold and silver treasure. Soon the blades were hitting each other in mid-air, sparks flying. While he was swinging his sword Will thought about all of the things that Barbossa had put him through… and the anger definitely helped him in this fight. Barbossa was an excellent swordsman and he knew it.

"C'mon whelp!!!", Barbossa hissed as he forced Will backwards, almost making him stumble backwards into the chest of Aztec coins. Will quickly fought his way back:

"Why did you do it to me!!!?", he yelled and swung the sword again, this time making a line across Barbossa's chest… surprised Barbossa looked down and saw his blood start flowing. With an almost content sigh he advanced on Will again:

"SO good to be alive, lad!!", he said and continued:

"Because it was fun", he smiled and ducked as Will's sword whistled past his head. Flushed from anger Will was now the most aggressive of the two, and Barbossa almost stumbled down the coin pile.

"Oh, so angry!", Barbossa laughed, but let out a gasp as another diagonal line was cut across his chest by Will. He now started to contemplate if it had been smart engaging in a sword fight with the young man. Quickly Barbossa suddenly ducked down and picked up another statue which he hurled at Will – it hit him right on the thigh, causing him to tumble to the side. And he lost grip on his sword which slid down the pile to the other side. A moan escaped Will as he tried to stand back up, but before he knew it Barbossa was sitting on top of him with his sword raised in the air. A kind of wild fury was burning in his eyes and he raised the sword further, ready to plunge it into Will's naked chest.

"NO!", Elizabeth screamed somewhere and Will could hear her running footsteps coming closer. Suddenly Will remembered – and with a quick movement he pulled out the amber knife from his boot – and plunged it into Barbossa's stomach. Freezing immediately Barbossa stared down at Will… and dropped his sword, which landed with a 'clunk'. With a groan Barbossa looked down and saw the handle of the amber knife sticking out from his body… and the blood which was spreading. He felt… He felt pain… and relief…

"Pain…", Barbossa almost smiled as he suddenly fell to the side and landed in the treasure pile. Will immediately got to his feet, with some help from Elizabeth… both of them were just staring at Barbossa who was looking up at them with glass-like eyes. Will swallowed.

"Thank you…", Barbossa suddenly whispered and looked down on the knife again:

"How ironic…", he said as he became limp and his eyes glazed over completely. He was dead.

"Oh my god…", Elizabeth whispered in a shaky voice. Will felt paralyzed… He had just killed a man… he had…. He had killed a man. Biting his lower lip Will turned to face Elizabeth:

"I am sorry…!!", he said as tears formed in his hazel eyes. Elizabeth didn't answer, but she gave him a tender hug. She didn't know what to say. But she knew that Barbossa had asked for it… Will had had no choice. Carefully Elizabeth broke the embrace:

"Let's go…", she said and grabbed a hold of Will's hand. Together they picked up Jack and carried him down the treasure pile and out of the cave. One boat was left and carefully they placed Jack in the middle and started rowing. No one said anything. What was there to say? Rowing hard they quickly reached the Pearl which was waiting for their captain in the bay.

Aboard Jack was tended to by the crew while all kinds of questions were raining down on Will and Elizabeth.

"Where is Barbossa???", someone asked.

"Who falls behind is left behind", Elizabeth just said, taking the burden of answering from Will, who was looking rather pale.

"Come", Elizabeth said and grabbed his hand again. She took him to the captain's quarters where Jack was lying on the bunk, still unconscious. Silently the two of them sat down by Jack's table:

"You did nothing wrong", Elizabeth said and smiled at Will. He looked at her:

"I killed a man, Elizabeth", he said and bowed his head, just staring at the table top.

"You had to", she assured him and caressed his hand.

"Will, look at me", she said and slowly Will raised his glance and looked at her:

"I love you", Elizabeth said and smiled at him. Slowly but surely a smile spread on Will's face too:

"And I love you", he said, but almost jumped when the door opened. It was the former commodore. With a stern look on his face and an empty rum bottle in his hand he walked a little clumsily inside and sat himself down next to Will and Elizabeth:

"So… You killed him... at least that's what the crew says", Norrington said and looked at Will, who again was looking at the table top.

"Yes, he did. He had to", Elizabeth butted in and squeezed Will's hand harder.

"I see…", Norrington merely said and looked at the two of them.

"When did you start drinking??", Elizabeth asked as she wrinkled her nose at the commodore's rum breath. A small smile appeared on his lips:

"As of now", he just said. Elizabeth just looked at him.

"I'm glad ye're all okay, mates", Norrington then said in his silly pirate English and suddenly clapped Will's shoulder. Will immediately jumped in surprise.

"Wow, easy…", Norrington said.

"I'm one of you now… and I think I did my duty tonight", he said and Will and Elizabeth looked at him questioningly. Then it dawned on Elizabeth:

"You were the one who…", she started, but Norrington smiled:

"Convinced Jack to do the right thing? I guess ye could say that. It wasn't hard though. He loves ye, ye know?", he said and got up from the table. Then he nodded at them and then wobbly left the two lovers alone with Jack in the cabin. Will and Elizabeth looked at each other surprised… this they hadn't expected from Norrington after all.

"He was drunk… but he saved our lives!", Elizabeth said. Will was looking rather flabbergasted….

"Auuwww", a voice suddenly said behind them, and they spun around and saw Jack sitting up in the bunk, rubbing his sore head.

"Good evening, Jack", Elizabeth said and smiled at him.

"Good e… where's the rum?", Jack said as he saw the open drawer in which he used to store his personal rum by the wall. Elizabeth and Will couldn't help but let out a small giggle.

"Norrington drank it", Will said and laughed as Jack's face suddenly looked very funny.

"What? But why's the rum gone?", Jack asked again and this time both Elizabeth and Will started laughing.

"S'not funny!!", Jack tried, but they were both completely gone in a laughing fit. Rubbing his head he just stared at the two of them:

"Oh, and where am I? And where's Barbossa???", Jack asked. Elizabeth tried to get a grip on herself, and she just said:

"On the Pearl. And he's dead", she said and the laughing slowly stopped. Jack's eyebrows rose:

"Dead?", he asked and they both nodded silently.

"Oh, goody. Now….", he said and looked at both of them with a weird stare:

"Ye ARE aware that I am captain of a ship now, ey?", he asked and both of them nodded questioningly.

"Then why don't ye go with me and get hitched?!", Jack said and put his hat back on with a weird grimace. Elizabeth and Will just stared at each other…. And then a smile appeared on their faces.

"Yes, why don't we?", Will said and looked at Elizabeth. They were in deep eye contact and with a silk like voice Elizabeth managed to say:

"Yes… why don't we…?", she smiled.

"Then we have an accord!!", Jack grunted and got up from the bunk, almost falling back down.

"I wish it was because of rum and not me bloody head", he mumbled and corrected his hat, which by the way, was sitting just fine.

"Get up, both of ye!!! Time to get married!", Jack insisted and both of them got up and grabbed each other's hands… Then they followed Jack out onto the deck and the setting sun's rays mildly caressed their tanned faces. Looking at each other a broad smile covered the lovers' lips while Jack was taking his place by the mast.

"Mr Turner, Miss Swann?", a voice suddenly said and Elizabeth turned around.

"I would be honored if ye would let me be yer best man?", Norrington said and opened his outstretched hand – two silver rings shined in the bright orange sunlight. Elizabeth stared at Norrington and then the rings:

"You had been planning this!?", she grinned and looked at Norrington, who sent her a confirming wink.

"We would be honored", Will and Elizabeth said simultaneously and then looked back at each other. And in the sunset they shared a kiss, which would stay in their hearts forever. Everything was right… and the small movements of kicks in Elizabeth's stomach almost teared her up from happiness…

"The ceremony is awaiting!", Jack's voice sounded and together Will and Elizabeth walked up towards the mast, hand in hand as the sun slowly set over the Caribbean sea.

THE END