Parting Tokens

It would seem that the years which passed since the day when Calypso was freed, the Dutchman received a new captain, and the Endeavor was obliterated had done little to age Hector Barbossa. In appearance, he looked the same as ever he did, though those who knew him would say that he looked a good deal healthier than he had when he had been under the curse. However, as the weeks wore on since his odd toast to the horizon and quoting of Sao Feng's map, the crew noticed that the Captain seemed to be growing, for lack of a better word, tired. Or perhaps bored, though the idea of him growing weary of his life aboard the Pearl seemed beyond absurd. Yet he did not allow it to deter him from the pleasure he took in daily routine, so no one really chose to worry over it.

He had continued his afternoon duels with Will, doubling his efforts to shape the boy into a proper swordsman and, in his own words 'something worthy of the name Turner'. His statement regarding the surname had raised more than a few eyebrows. Will had no time to dish cheek at Barbossa now; the man was fervent in his instruction and often lost his temper during their fencing among other things. He found himself thrust into so many tasks aboard the ship that he had little time for sleep, which was often disturbed in the early hours by the captain leaning over him in his hammock, sometimes grabbing hold of the edge of it and dumping him onto the floor. On a morning when he had had a particularly unpleasant landing, he sat up on the floorboards, rubbing his aching head, and looked up, exhausted, at the man who's sanity he was now beginning to question.

"Up an' at it, boy, daylight be burnin' up." Barbossa wore a jovial grin and acted as if this were a perfectly acceptable way of waking people.

"How can daylight be burning? The sun's not even begun to rise!" He had mean to finally ask Barbossa what he had meant by all his feverish lessons these past few weeks, but he had already mounted the stairs leading above deck. He heard someone stir in their sleep and groan a few feet away.

"Blimey, lad, what'd you do to get 'im all roused at ya like that?" came the groggy voice of Pintel.

"I didn't do anything! If I didn't respect him, I'd say he's started to go mad."

"But ye did, Will." Ragetti, apparently, had been awake for some time and had observed the entire exchange. Will stared at him in the dark, completely dumbfounded.

"Asked him when he was gonna give you the Pearl, you did. Per'aps he reckons he'd better make sure you can handle 'er."

Will paled. "But . . . I didn't mean that, not really. I'd have to be raving to think he would actually do that."

"Well, either he's tryin' to see if you're worthy of havin' 'er, or you both really are mad, then."

Will groaned, still rubbing the spot on his head where it had hit the floor when the captain had given his lovely wake-up call, and wished more than anything that he could just climb back into his hammock and sleep, but then remembered that the moon was at its full and he was likely to see nothing more than the ram and the stallion again, and decided that he preferred the waking world instead, even if it did contain a screaming, bellowing pirate captain telling him what a sorry sailor he was.


When the heat of the afternoon sun had become simply too much to bear, even after discarding all but breeches and boots, Barbossa had finally stopped forcing Will to climb up and down the rigging and told him to relieve Cotton at the helm. He did so gratefully, glad for the steady breeze that whipped about the bits of hair not secured beneath the scarf on his head. He was relieved when he saw his mother approaching, a bottle in hand; he felt he had possibly never been so thirsty in his life. She uncorked it and handed it to him, an impish smile playing onto her face.

"What's funny?" he asked breathlessly as he took a long swig from the bottle.

"He put me through something rather similar on our voyage to rescue Jack. Said that I had too much spirit for my own good." She noted the look of utter exasperation on his face. "Don't worry," she said, patting him on the back. "You'll live."

"Do I want to?"

But she did not answer him. He followed her gaze to where it rested, several yards away; Barbossa sat upon one of the crates fastened to the deck, holding a piece of parchment, with Cotton sitting beside him, a quill in hand. They seemed to be in deep converse, despite the fact that only one of them could speak. Elizabeth knew she should not have been concerned, but for some reason, she found the way they exchanged quiet smiles and nodded at one another to be rather unsettling. Will seemed to channel her thoughts, if only a little.

"I thought he didn't like conversing with him alone, that he was above speaking to the 'damned infernal bird', as he calls it?"

"They're not using the bird," she replied lamely.

She and Will hastily averted their attention as the two men rose from their seats, shaking hands and both looking pleased is if they shared some secret.

Though she knew better, Elizabeth blurted out her question as Barbossa approached, seeming smugly satisfied with himself.

"What was that all about?"

"Gentlemen's business, Miss. You needn't worry yer pretty head over it." He glanced at Will, nearly beaming. "Master Turner, step aside if ye don't mind." Bemused, Will made way for the Captain, letting him take over the helm, his bemusement turning once again to fond admiration when he noted the way Barbossa relished the task, leaning back so wind and sea spray dotted his face and neck, how he seemed to almost caress the wheel at times as if it were a woman that he loved dearly. Will shook his head as he walked away; the Captain was an enigma, no doubt, but he wouldn't wish it to be any other way.

Elizabeth smiled at Barbossa, wondering that he never grew weary of guiding his beloved Pearl as she joined him at his side. "You're an impossible man, Captain."

"Aye, I am. I'd say the same about you except ye are, in fact, as Jack says, a woman."

"Perhaps, though sometimes I don't feel like one, for obvious reasons. A most horrid and appalling life I've led, for a lady."

He laughed appreciatively. "Aye, but ye be a fine little woman, nonetheless, at least by Turner's way o' thinkin'. And by mine," he added with a smile that made her stomach flutter. "And that be all that matters."

She might have once thought to playfully argue the point about his opinion being of worth, seeing as how she was hardly attached to him, but had to correct herself. She may have never sworn herself to him as she had done with Will, and as best she could remember, had never even been officially signed onto the crew. Yet, as she pondered this now, she could not imagine her life being anything other than what it had turned out, save for the idyllic married life that had been wrenched away from her as soon as she had finally gotten it within her grasp. She noticed that Barbossa had been studying her calmly, intently, as she had mulled over the subject. She looked up to face him, biting her lip ever so slightly, before speaking again.

"I suppose you're right," she replied, barely whispering, as she stood on her toes and pressed a kiss to his cheek before walking away.

As much as he appreciated her company, he was glad now for solitude as he watched her descend from the helm and disappear. He wrapped his fingers about the spokes of the wheel lovingly again, glad that no one was around to see how tight his grasp on them was, his knuckles going a bit white.

"Just me and you for now, darlin'." And as the ship groaned beneath his feet, almost as if in affectionate response, he smiled.


Moods that evening were uneasy and tense, and while Elizabeth merely sank into a corner, deep in thought over what she had just learned, Will shadowed the Captain all about deck, all but getting underfoot. After half an hour of this, Barbossa whirled round to face him, somewhere between annoyance and frustration, and found himself looking into a pair of large brown eyes whose brows were furrowed.

"Yes, Master Turner?" he asked with a heavy sigh and an impertinent roll of the eyes. He was merely met with a curious, searching, and disturbingly knowing stare.

"You're up to something. You and Cotton; I saw you talking with him earlier." His tones were accusatory to say the very least.

"It's a bit hard to talk to a man who can't even speak, but regardless, don't ye think that if we were really up to something, we wouldn'a been stupid enough to speak of it in plain sight? Hm?"

"But . . . but that's not the point, and you didn't answer my question."

"Ye didn't ask a question."

"You know what I mean!"

Barbossa smiled, slinging an arm around Will's shoulders. "Well then, if ye know that I know what you mean, then I daresay you've likely already figured me out."

A noise escaped Will that was somewhere between a snort and a laugh; he stared incredulously at his captain. For a good long while, he was tormented as the elder man merely grinned at him in haughty satisfaction, when he felt he could no longer tolerate it and wriggled free of Barbossa's loose embrace, staring back at him in frustration and slight disgust. Barbossa frowned, more at himself than with the boy, small waves of guilt beginning to prick within him. He heaved a sigh.

"Cotton's leavin'. Tomorrow."

Will glanced up at him, somewhat hopefully, before laughing just a bit. "I suppose he's going to hang onto the parrot and fly away, then? Come off it, we're hundreds of leagues away from land, unless you plan to throw him overboard."

Barbossa cast him a disapproving glare. "Now I told you before, boy; you've got a good head on those great skinny shoulders o' yours. Do us both a favor and use it." As he spoke, his eyes fell to the hilt of Will's cutlass; it had been fashioned with the ornamentation of lions' heads, highly similar to the symbols seen on the hull of the Dutchman as well as the hilt of a sword of someone who sailed upon it. Will paled slightly as realization dawned on him.

"My father?"

"Aye." Barbossa said nothing more, but only smiled. He felt at last that perhaps the uncomfortable confrontation had come to an end. He was wrong. Instead of leaving well enough alone, he noticed that Will had grown somewhat angry.

"But why, Captain? Why not just finish out life like a normal man instead of calling upon some . . . some phantom to whisk you away to only God knows where?"

Will was more than slightly taken aback as he was roughly snatched by his shoulders, his face mere inches from Barbossa's, who's expression was one now twisted with annoyance and slight rage.

"Why should a man what's not lived a normal life expect any different when he wishes to leave it, Turner? Eh? And yer father be no phantom; speak ill of 'im again and I'll have yeh whipped!"

Will simply stood with his mouth agape, staring dumbly. He had known Barbossa to make some rather dreadful and vulgar threats, but they were never realized, and he had never threatened to whip him before. For a moment he felt afraid that perhaps the captain really did mean it this time, but instead found himself met with a disgusted sneer as the man shoved him back roughly before walking away, cursing under his breath, taking no notice that Will had caught his foot as he'd stumbled and fallen backwards. However, the moisture threatening to prick at Will's eyes had nothing to do with the dull ache in his backside.

"William, what on earth . . ."

He could not bring himself to explain to his mother what had just happened, for he was unsure if it himself, but following his gaze seemed to answer her inquiry well enough, and she remained silent as she took him by the hand and pulled him back to his feet.

"He's never spoken to me like that before. I – I've never known him to be in such a temper, even for him," he said, barely above a whisper, still unbelieving of what had just transpired.

Elizabeth could find no words; as she observed Barbossa now skulking about on deck, barking unnecessarily stern orders to any crewman within twenty feet, she could not help but be reminded of the time he had struck her at Isle De Muerta, and wondered what had set his mood afoul in such a way. Her son turned to her now, indignance spread over his face.

Though he tried to form words, he only found himself growing increasingly annoyed by the fact that Elizabeth simply looked bemused as she glanced between him and the now-retreating back of Captain Barbossa. After a few moments of getting no response from her, Will stomped below deck, muttering something about feeding chickens. Elizabeth was about to chase after the captain, but decided it would be better to wait until his temper had subsided, at least a little.

She later found him sitting in the spot on deck where they had passed so many hours, whether it had been just the two of them, sometimes joined by Will, or the entire crew listening to tales of voyages past. She quietly lowered herself to sit beside him, placing a hand tentatively on his knee. He glanced disinterestedly at her for a moment, but did not speak.

"Captain," she began gently, "I realize this ship has always been under your authority while you happened to be upon it, but I must ask why you've taken to throwing about my only son like common tackle."

"Lost my temper," he answered, reluctantly looking down to meet her eyes. "Apologies."

"I don't think I'm the one you should be apologizing to." She stood, smiling weakly at him and lightly rubbing his back. And he was alone once more.


Night had fallen on the Black Pearl, and its youngest crew member sat out on deck, his back leaned against the railing and a hand resting upon one raised knee. He heard the approaching sound of uneven footsteps clearly belonging to someone with a pronounced limp. He cast baleful eyes upon the person as they dropped down beside him.

"Sorry to disappoint you; as I'm already sitting, I'm unable to be thrown about very easily." Though the light of the half moon made seeing things a bit tricky, he had no difficulty noticing that his companion had just reached for the large, ornate pistol he always wore, and hoped that the weak light would hide the look of uncertainty on his face. For a fleeting, foolish moment, he half-feared that the captain would fire it at him; instead, he found it being pressed into his own hand.

"Take it."

His heart raced wildly, and he almost hoped that this was some strange dream come to replace the one with the ram, but the pistol was far too heavy and cold in his hands for this to be anything other than real.

"Captain I – I can't."

"Yeh can. Look, about . . . I shouldn'a done that."

Will felt more awkward than he ever had in his life; apologizing was clearly not something Barbossa was comfortable with, and he wished it would end soon for both their sakes.

"It's fine," he said weakly. "I'd be foolish to say I wasn't asking for what I got." He stared at the weapon in his hands, reverently turning it over and staring at it. "But regardless, I wish you wouldn't give me this."

"Why not? Ye've wanted it since you were able to stand on yer own two legs."

"But it's yours."

Barbossa smiled softly, staring at the deck. "If I find meself in need of another, I'm sure one'll be provided."

And Will knew. He shook his head, staring in disbelief at the man he had looked up to his entire life, the closest thing to a father he had. He made a valiant attempt at keeping his voice steady whilst blinking back tears he hoped could not be seen. "Begging your pardon, Captain, but I don't believe I've bested you at the sword just yet."

Barbossa smiled despite himself. "True. That be why I'm leavin' the ship in yer mother's hands, for the time bein'. Don't tell her."

Will only nodded dumbly in agreement.

The Captain smiled, a bit ruefully. "Goodnight, Turner."

The answer came barely above a whisper. "Goodnight, Captain."

Neither of them slept very well that night. Will's mind once again swam with visions of the horse and ram, their departure together playing itself over and over, only this time, he noticed, as they descended the hill, with the ram tromping confidently a few steps ahead, the horse would turn back and stare at Will with an almost reluctant and apologetic gaze before turning to join his horned companion and disappearing into the sunset.

"Captain, be honest with me, when are you going to demand that he give it back?"

Barbossa rolled his eyes, frustrated, but amused. Elizabeth had paced after him the entire morning the following day and into the late afternoon, demanding to know why he had given the Spanish flintlock to Will when she had no doubt in her mind that he would never part with it and would surely have a change from his sudden sentimentality and want it returned.

"I've told ye about puttin' me and lies in the same thought, 'Lizabeth. I won't be askin' for its return; it belongs to 'im now."

"Yes, but for how long?"

He turned about and leaned down just a bit, facing her with his eyes dangerously narrowed. "Forever. Or until he finds some belligerent, cocky young brat to pass it on to, as I've done. Let's just hope an' pray he don't lose it the same way that idiot Spaniard lost it to me. Then again – " he said as he straightened to his full height once more, smiling at Will, who stood in the distance, once more at the helm, "– I won't be here to kill 'im for his arrogance, and I daresay there's a good chance he'll survive any opponent what meets him."

It was Elizabeth's turn to roll her eyes now. "Captain, I've never doubted you'd spare his life despite the many threats you've made on it, but . . ." her words slowly faded, and she furrowed her brows suddenly, staring at him. "What do you mean, you 'won't be here'?"

He shot her a quick glance, but was unable to give an answer to her question; it erupted and surfaced beside them in the form of the Flying Dutchman, great rivulets of water running down its magnificent hull. After gaping at it for a few moments, Elizabeth whirled round to once more look into the now somber face of her captain, her expression growing paler by the moment.

"But Will . . . he said . . . he said that Cotton . . ." she stuttered. Barbossa nodded.

"Aye, Cotton be comin' as well."

He suddenly found her hands clenching his arms so tightly that it was almost painful; her brown eyes, wide and beginning to brim with tears, gazing up desperately at his own. He had known she would react this way, but it did not lessen the difficulty, by any means. Stubbornly, he gritted his teeth, snatching her by the elbow and quickly moving to where they would both be out of the sights of both their own crew and that of the Dutchman and yanked her about to face him.

"Don't", she said before he'd had the chance to speak, shaking her head as the tears began to fall. "Please don't leave me, you're all I have, I– "

"Don't do this, Elizabeth!" he spat, taking her by the shoulders and shaking her. "And don't you dare say I'm all you've got when there be a whole damn crew who'd defend yer honor and follow yer command as soon as look at ye, who've helped raise that fatherless child o' yours for the last seventeen years! And what about him, what about your boy, 'Lizabeth?" He shook his head.

"I'm s – sorry!" she stammered, and he allowed her to bury her face in his chest as she had done so many times before, and she sobbed in earnest while in the embrace of his strong arms, his hands pressed tenderly against her shoulders.

"'All you have'", he whispered. "What would possess ye to say such a thing, girl?"

"Mmphvoo", she mumbled into his coat.

"None o' that childish nonsense, now. You be a grown woman." He took her face in his hands and forced her chin upwards. "Look at me when yer speakin'." She took him by the wrists, the tormented expression on her face silently pleading with the gently demanding one on his. They only stared such for a few short moments, though to them, it felt like eternity before she finally spoke through tears and gritted teeth.

"I love you."

Being honest with himself, he had expected her to say exactly that, but still wished desperately that she had not. When he spoke, his voice was low and soft. "Perhaps ye shouldn't be throwin' your love away so carelessly."

"You don't mean that! When I was stupid enough to think pirates would follow a code of conduct, it was you who protected me though you also proved me wrong. When I let my head get to big for my own good in Singapore, it was always you who got in the way of things, you who kept me from signing my own death warrant. Several times, surely! When I was about to be sold in that auction, it was you who filled those men with blades and bullets."

"Don't mistake gratitude fer love, Miss", was his weak reply, but he knew that it was not the many times her life had been spared by his presence that she truly spoke of, but of the nights when she missed her father the most, when the knowledge that she may as well have been widowed weighed on her all too heavily on her heart, when she had sat in his lap, her belly bloated with child, and cried herself to sleep. When she would wake in the middle of the night and see him sleeping slumped in a chair beside her bed, or the many, many times she had spied him pacing the cabin holding Will, or simply staring down at the babe for long stretches of time when he thought that its mother had been asleep.

Her hands now traveled the length of his arms and she took hold of his lapels. "Captain . . . you can't leave. You can't."

"Understand, Missy, when first we met, I was all too willin' to die, and found myself unable. Now I be able, but altogether unwillin'. Calypso's touched all of us in one way or another, and no doubt it's done somethin' to slow the effects of agin', but it can only be temporary after all. I find myself feelin' worn of late." He ran a hand along her hair as he spoke; she rested her head lamely against his chest. "Death is an unpleasant host, Elizabeth; I've met it more times already than anyone deserves to, and I'd not care to meet it again."

Unbidden, an image flashed through her mind of him, of her infamous pirate captain grown old and decrepit and no longer able to care for himself, and she choked back another sob, suddenly feeling very selfish and a bit ashamed for it. It would never do, she knew, for Captain Hector Barbossa to grow into an old man. Yet she also could not help but feel angry and resentful, and even jealous. She had been familiar with loss from such a young age, and could still remember vividly what it had been like to stand with her father at her mother's grave; he had been down on one knee and she had her arms wrapped tightly around his neck, silent tears falling freely down both their faces.

"But I still have you and you me, and we shall look after each other now, shan't we?" he had said. But now he was gone. In a matter of months, she had lost him, along with James and Will, and now it would seem that Barbossa was leaving her as well, but somehow she managed to push back the part of her that would have tried to convince him to stay, that she could look after him; she knew his mind had been long made up now, and she resigned to simply cling to these last few moments, to etch every last detail of his face onto her heart lest she forget what he looked like, however doubtful that was.

"I'll miss you," she said, the tears starting anew once more. He hugged her tightly and pressed his lips to her forehead.

"Shh, it'll be alright." He knew that time was drawing short, that Captain Turner would be wishing him aboard by sundown, but as he had been on that night nearly eighteen years prior, he found himself unwilling to relinquish his hold on Elizabeth, no longer caring about a man without a heart in his chest. "Crew'll have to take a vote on who'll be replacin' me, but I've a strong suspicion that they'll come to a unanimous decision," he said with a weak smile. "Your own lad's growin' into a good specimen himself, and if ever you be yearinin' for nautical advice, Master Murtogg has proven himself more than capable; 'twould appear he learned well from our friend Norrington." She nodded feebly, her wet cheek still pressed against him. For a few moments, he merely held her close against him, firmly stroking her hair before he brought himself to a resolve to show her by actions what he could not bring himself to say. "Elizabeth . . ." he cupped her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him, as he shook his head, breaking into a wide grin.

And then he kissed her, full and hard on the mouth.

She didn't know whether to laugh or to cry, and in the end, settled with flinging her arms tightly around him and returning the sentiments. It was not at all how one would imagine kissing someone like Barbossa; he seemed to possess all the enthusiasm and virility of someone not yet in his twenties, and in that moment, they might have been two young people in love, as he and Clara had been so very long ago, and not two people torn and scarred by the hurts of life and loss. When they broke apart, he smiled gently, still holding her face in his hands, now wiping the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs. She smiled at him fondly, taking his big hand in her own, and with the other, reached up to stroke his face. He closed his eyes, just allowing himself to enjoy the moment, to relish the feeling of her small fingers against his skin, for what was likely to be the last time.

"Yer not like her. Not like her at all", he whispered, opening his eyes. "But I still woulda taken yeh as me own if the fates had allowed, make no mistake."

"I can't say I would have minded much."

"'Course you can't. Now come; Captain Turner be expectin' me."

Shuddering, she let out a breath she had not realized she had been holding, and her grip on his hand tightened. Never had she imagined there would come a time when she would be anything but thrilled to have Will turn up between decades, but at the moment she wished he would take his business elsewhere, 'Anywhere but here...' she thought to herself. Nonetheless, she managed to gather about her what was left of her wits, reluctantly release her hold on Barbossa, and walk stoically back into sight, to where the Dutchman awaited two charges and the crew of the Black Pearl, though they did not know it, would soon be inducting a new captain.

As he approached the gangplank that he knew he could not cross back from, Barbossa met the eyes of the Dutchman's captain, and for a moment, felt strangely intimidated and uncertain, his once-dead heart racing wildly in his chest. Captain Turner only looked back at him, his face patient and unchanging, as he had seen such incidents many times before now. He only thought that Barbossa would be the last person to ever show hesitance with him, and found it to be an odd and almost startling idea.

Barbossa turned round to face his own crew, a tightening sensation coming to his chest at the looks on their faces, and hoped the feeling inside was not transparent on his face as well. Genteelly, he brought Elizabeth's hand to his lips, pressing them against her knuckles and smiling.

"Farewell, Missy."

Turning to her son, he looked him in the eyes appraisingly, and clapped a hand to his shoulder. "Can I trust ye to look after things in me absence?"

Will gave him a smile that was filled with admiration and respect, and for the first time, it crossed Barbossa's mind that he no longer looked like a boy. "I've had an excellent teacher. I think we'll manage." There was the slightest hint of ruefulness in his expression. "So you're really leaving us, then?"

"Aye." Barbossa answered him with a somewhat solemn nod, before addressing the crew. "Gents, choose well, and there be no need to explain the meanin' of that. Whomever ye name as yer new captain, do 'em well and just remember, we'll be back to collect the lot o' you someday."He had finished the statement with his signature haughty grin, and despite the way some of the crew were hastily brushing away unbidden tears, they all had to laugh. Even if it might have been with some trepidation .

With a sigh, he now turned about to face the beckoning expression of Will Turner, who now seemed torn between the duty he'd taken upon himself and the love of the family he hardly knew. As Barbossa at last began to resolutely stride across the gangplank from which he knew he could not return, his head held high, Captain Turner allowed his gaze to wander to the two people standing aboard the Pearl. He noticed now just how much of himself he could see in the young man now; they looked alike in nearly every respect, save for the mischievous flare that could only have come from Elizabeth. The latter now stood in her son's protective and comforting embrace, and had begun to weep openly, tormented at the sight of seeing more of those she loved claimed by that ship, and jealousy for the simple fact that she was not yet able to take that journey.

And yet Barbossa stared back at her fondly, willing her to smile through the tears, this woman who had gone from captive to ally to . . . truthfully, he never could quite decide what she had become to him, but he was glad for it nonetheless. And for all that he had been the one who had spent precious long years with her in life, he knew where her heart truly was, and that some glorious day, she too would be able to step aboard the Dutchman and spend an eternity with the man she had loved since first setting eyes on him. He could almost imagine the way the years would fall from her when her long wait, eased only by short visits once every ten years, would at last come to an end and she would forever roam the seas in the arms of William Turner, thus ending the tale of the Lonely Ghost Captain and his ferry. He sighed at the thought.

Captain Turner and his Pirate King bride had really never wanted to be anything more than two people young, and in love, and ready to conquer whatever life threw at them with a smile on their faces and a laugh in their hearts. Certainly they would be able to continue where circumstances had interrupted when Elizabeth Turner began the rest of eternity, however long she may have to wait. Barbossa smiled.

Two young lovers reunited after being separated by numerous decades and death besides? It sounded quite simply wonderful. But as for him? He was not yet ready to leave the sea, and determined himself to serve under Will for however long suited him. He may have enjoyed captaining the Pearl for all these years, but no longer cringed now at the thought of letting someone else have the sometimes irksome duties that came with the title. He was also sure that his new captain would be in no hurry to let him go, and it would later turn out he was quite right in thinking that the two of them would spend countless hours in one another's company, with Will sitting almost enraptured, a wide, wistful grin on his face, as Barbossa recounted many tales of his eighteen years spent with Elizabeth and her son. He would likewise press for anecdotes of the dark-haired maiden and the son he had never met.

No one could have known just how much they both pined for those they loved, and yet for now, the Dutchman would simply have to do. Will did not have a choice, and for some odd reason, Hector Barbossa felt indebted, though he knew not to whom. God knew all the things he'd done in this life, and that he had been given more than his share of second chances. And now, there was no doubt in his mind that never again would he have to experience death, to be told even by Hades himself that he was unwelcome, never again would he be forced to atone for his many sins. He was a bit unsure of how he had managed to avoid such punishment, but no less glad for being spared.

As they sailed towards the horizon and were met by a terrific green flash, just as he had remembered doing so many years ago on that now fabled journey to rescue Jack, he knew at least one thing, at least for now, once he could get past the irony of sailing alongside two men he had tried diligently to kill, one of them lacking a heart in his chest.

Here, sailing on a ship that many believed not to exist, he was home.


A/N: You wouldn't have happened to be listening to 'I See Dead People In Boats' from the At World's End soundtrack, or perhaps 'The Grey Havens' from Return of the King, would you?

And so, we come to our end. Just to clarify, he did not die. As I implied mentioning the song, it was a Grey Havens sort of departure, or open for interpretation, if you like. When I first started this story, it was actually intended as a one-shot, so I have to thank all of you who have read it for your fantastic encouragement and feedback. When I decided that the idea of Elizabeth and her child living with strangers from Singapore and that her only 'next of kin' option would be someone from the Pearl, I didn't know I'd be going along with them this far and I certainly had no idea I would be seeing darling Hector off into the next life. It was not something I planned on, but it felt right. (The fact I'm an absolute sucker for bittersweet endings factors into this) While I really can't stand the thought of him ever going 'away', I was also reminded that no one lives forever. Unless they crew the Dutchman, that is. Lovely loophole provided by Ted and Terry there!

So now we know. Elizabeth loved him and he loved her, though they had a rather strange relationship that combined protector, lover, and friend without crossing any boundaries. I'll be doing another story, hopefully soon, that will be canonical into this one only we'll start when Hec is just a young lad. And maybe learn what life aboard the Flying Dutchman is like.

Anyways, another huge thank-you to all of those who apparently loved this story as much as I do. I hope you've enjoyed the final chapter. :)