Disclaimer: This isn't mine, I just like filling in the gaps.
The Jolly Roger. The first time she had seen it grinning at her, she had been but a small child. It's cavernous eyes spoke of doom and terror, yet she had been unable to suppress a thrill that touched her from head to toe and back again. Through the years, the flag had become ever familiar to her, through captivity and battles and the occasional retreat. She had relayed the order to fire upon the vessel from which it flew, probably at that time never dreaming she would be on the other side, goading on its merciless assault upon a ship of the line, and alongside two captains that had both seen death and come back to tell of it. The flag that billowed and flapped high above the decks of the Black Pearl most recently had flown in victory, in defiance of those who sought to destroy a quickly diminishing way of life all in the name of civilization and lawfulness.
Yet now, as it was gazed upon by Elizabeth Turner as she stood at the railing of the Empress, the tatty old flag seemed to speak of home and familiarity most of all. In the past few months, she had established herself well enough for someone fairly new to the practice of piracy, but she could not help but feel that something was lacking despite it. She had arranged for her crew to return to Singapore until she sent for them, though she knew not when that day would come; she was certain that the captain would not be stingy with his hospitality. He never had been in the past. Save for one unfortunate incident, anyways, and she admitted that she had brought that upon herself after all. She decided that whether his mood was gracious or bitter, it mattered not; she was confident in her ability to convince him otherwise should he prove to be in less than high spirits. Gathering up what small number of belongings she had decided necessary, she took a deep breath and began her trek across the gangplank.
The Captain of the Black Pearl made a slow and lazy descent from the helm of his ship, smiling at the sight before him. To look at her, she was small and frail and would break rather easily, but only those who did not know her would come to such a conclusion. However, he could not help but be slightly disheartened; she did not look quite as well as she had when last they had parted ways. Her normally tanned face sported a pale hue, and her sure step seemed ever so slightly shaky, though that perhaps could be attributed to the chest she toted in one hand and the disheveled bundle that precariously occupied the other arm. However, judging by the determined smile on her face, she seemed to be thriving otherwise and he fancied she would have attempted to skip across the gangplank that was laid between the two ships, had her various burdens allowed for it. The way her step quickened, if only a little, when she made it halfway across, did not escape his attention, and when she had finally reached the Pearl, he was there waiting for her with a smile on his face and an outstretched hand. The sloppy bundle she allowed Ragetti to relieve her of, but she kept a firm grasp on the chest, awkwardly tucking it under one arm as she placed her other hand into the Captain's own weathered one and cautiously hopped from the plank. Crossing between ships was something she had yet to master, and was secretly glad for the way he grasped her wrist in one hand and let the other go to her waist to steady her. Once she had gotten her feet situated beneath herself, she stood regarding the man before her with a confident and almost impish grin. He looked down at her as if sizing her up, his hands resting atop her shoulders. It was he who finally broke their comradely silence.
"Why, Captain, it's been too long."
Her grin widened. "I've brought something for you."
He followed her gaze as she turned about; a young boy was running enthusiastically over the path she had just crossed, an enormous basket swaying back and forth in his hands. He came to a halt at the end of the plank where his captain stood with her strange friend, seeming a bit shy and taken aback at the man's appearance, but managing to gather his wits about him.
"A gift for you, Captain Barbossa." He thrust the basket in Barbossa's direction; the man cast a suspicious glance towards Elizabeth and back at the boy with his proffered gift. She gave a sigh of exasperation, rolling her eyes at him.
"Well go on, take them."
He narrowed his eyes at her, but took the heaping covered basket from the boy, nonetheless. "A heaping great mess of fireworks all set to go off no sooner'n I touch it, I imagine." He set it down on the deck and took a cautious step back, drawing his sword. She placed her free hand on her hip and stared at him indignantly.
"Honestly, Captain, do you think no better of me than that?"
He looked up and grinned at her slyly. "I don't trust ye, if that's what yer askin'." He wedged the tip of his sword beneath the woven lid of the basket, flipping it off. He was greeted by the sight of a heap of shining green fruits, and a genuinely pleased smile graced his lips as he shook his head, lost somewhere between disbelief and delight. "Still don't know if I should trust you. They might be poisoned, after all", he added with a wink. They regarded each other for just a short moment longer before giving in to laughter.
"Come on with you, then", he said, taking up the basket and putting an arm about her shoulders. "That is," he added, "if you'll be willin' to join me."
"Do I have a choice?" she asked playfully.
He shrugged, a mischievous sparkle coming to his eyes. "You could always dine with the crew." They exchanged knowing glances at one another, both reminiscent of the strange way in which they had met and the stark changes that had taken place since that day. Although perhaps some would say that nothing had changed at all as they watched the two of them striding calmly towards the captain's quarters, he with his apples and she with her chest. Yes, it was evident that the only thing changed was their alliances. And despite the terror she had encountered because of his actions, and the regrets he later experienced due to causing it, given the chance, neither of them would have changed a thing.
"And might I ask what brings the great King Turner aboard the Pearl to mingle with underlings such as myself?" he asked haughtily. Despite his playfully sarcastic tone, she could not help the slight flush rising to her cheeks.
"Captain, please, just Elizabeth", she stammered, suddenly preoccupied with the floor.
He smiled softly, though more to himself than to her. "Very well then. Forgive my poor manners, but it would seem you've grown a good deal thicker through the middle than you were when last we met, Elizabeth." During their entire exchange on deck, he had never once mentioned the obvious state with which she was in, despite the raised eyebrows and grins on the faces of his crew.
She returned his smile, glancing down at her swollen middle and absent-mindedly stroking a hand over it. "I am a married woman, Captain. Thanks to you."
"Aye, and I see you've made the most of it."
She nodded, the smile fading from her face, replaced by a look that was almost sorrowful.
He nodded at her stomach. "When?"
"Six weeks, more or less. At least the healers tell me such."
"Hm", was his reply, and he seemed to grow lost in thought for a few moments before coming back to himself. "Best go ahead and dig in, then", he said with an unusually gentle smile.
It would seem to him that she had taken to heart his statement regarding no need to stand on ceremony nor call to impress; he watched with quiet amusement as she took freely of the provisions at his table, ravenously devouring her food as if it were the first she had seen in ages. She brought her actions to an abrupt halt when she noticed him staring from the corner of her eye, pursing her lips in slight embarrassment and causing him to chuckle.
"Seems not much has changed besides your name, Miss."
"Well, seeing as how you're no longer unable to actually join me, I thought perhaps you wouldn't feel the need to gape. I suppose I was wrong."
"Ah, but I still enjoy gapin' at ye, be I mortal or not. It be in my nature to do such."
"So I see", she said, resisting the urge to roll her eyes once more. Resisting because she knew he was absolutely right, and that she would be heartbroken if ever he chose to behave himself otherwise.
"I noticed, Captain, that you haven't said a word on Jack's whereabouts."
"I noticed you haven't asked."
"Very well, then, I'm asking now. Although I do trust you haven't done anything too terrible."
It annoyed him that she was so lightly throwing about the word 'trust', even with him, and it was clear by the lack of concern in her voice that she honestly did trust he had not done something unforgivably wicked with Captain Sparrow. He sighed with a small amount of frustration.
"Last I saw, he was more pissed than a rat what's drowned in the still, standin' on a table in Tortuga singin' some silly song about sheep and eggs. I slipped off with the crew, save of course for the boys you took, and Master Gibbs, and the rest be history." He grinned wickedly. "Old habits, ye know."
She stared at him, unsure of whether to be displeased or amused, shaking her head.
"And I'll have ye know I consider me and him squared; he stole my charts."
"Sao Feng did lend them to you, did he not? I'm sure he had no intentions of letting you keep them. Meaning if they had been restored to their rightful owner, they would belong to me." There may have been a bit of truth to her words, however her tone was light and her eyes still sparkled. He smirked at her.
"Regardless, they be gone."
"What did you want them for? To go and retrieve from hell all the people you've killed?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "No, Miss. To be seekin' a legend. You'd have enjoyed it, I imagine."
She nodded, her smile slowly fading once more. "You're right. I would love to have joined the legendary Hector Barbossa on yet another quest for things of fables." She shook her head, her hands resting on her protruding middle. "Though that would seem quite unfeasible now."
She no longer appeared to be the naive but fiery woman who had summoned him to the helm of the Pearl during a maelstrom, nor even the timid young spitfire who had invoked the right of parlay all those months ago. As she sat at his table, she seemed frail and weak and so very unlike herself; he found it to be a somewhat unsettling sight. He pushed back from the table, now regarding her with concern. She lifted her gaze to him, unable now to conceal the tears that pricked at her eyes, threatening to spill hotly down her face. He rose to his feet and found his arms suddenly filled, her face pressed tightly to his chest and tears soaking his shirt.
"Captain . . ."
He pulled her closer, lightly stroking her head. "I know, Miss."
"Everyone's gone. My father, and Will, and even James is gone now. You don't know how lonely it's been all this time." Her words came muffled against him and between choking sobs, and what bit of reluctance he had left him, and he resigned to sitting on the bed, strangely unsurprised that she sat on his lap, clinging to him like a small child. There was no longer any doubt in his mind that the seemingly lost and lonely King would be staying with him for quite some time, that she had once again managed to make herself a guest aboard his ship without having been invited. He was not a man easily frightened, even in the presence of a goddess scorned, or Davy Jones himself. It did not frighten him that he would likely be assisting in the delivery of the child fathered by the captain of the Flying Dutchman, nor the idea that he may very well end up with the little whelp scampering about the Pearl for God knew how long. In that moment, as he sat with a young woman that could almost be called a widow, who remained in his lap as she continued to saturate his waistcoat with her tears, it frightened him most that he was just as unwilling as she to relinquish his embrace.
And there, sitting ominously in the corner of his cabin, was a chest.
A/N: Well, what do you think? I can't help but feel that this one might be itching for a second chapter, or perhaps a sequel or companion piece.