A/N: I'm thinking I have got to stop doing one-shots (heh heh) but this one just popped into my head and I had to do it :) Review as always please! And ignore the post-end-credits scene :)
Disclaimer: If I found a genie in a bottle then maybe I would own PotC! (goes into dreamland)
It was early in the morning, still too dark to see exactly who was standing in the doorway. Why would anyone knock on my door? I don't really know anyone here but a few pirates in the city... She was exhausted, having been woken by the knock from her first sleep in days since she had watched the Flying Dutchman disappear into the sunset.
Elizabeth rubbed her eyes a little and the sillhouette of the man became a little clearer at the edges.
"What are you doing here?" she asked incredulously.
Barbossa rolled his eyes.
"I was hoping for a warmer welcome, Mrs. Turner."
"And I thought you and Jack sailed away..." She stepped aside cautiously to let him into the tiny cottage, not knowing why she didn't simply shut the door in his face.
"I came to ask for a bit o' help," said Barbossa. "Me ship's in the harbor a little ways down the beach."
"Your ship?" she asked. "Where's Jack..."
She opened her mouth to say something, but shut it again.
"Oh," she said finally, after a pause. "I should have known. He should have known."
Barbossa grimaced. "He did know, bloody Sparrow. Took my charts." He showed her the cut-open charts. She couldn't help showing the faintest of smiles upon seeing this, but she was too tires, too bored with everything to really care. She had spent the few days sitting outside with the Dead Man's Chest held close to her heart, rocking back and forth, trying to will the day to be over soon... It was thousands upon thousands of knives being driven into her, the feeling of knowing every day that there was nothing she could do, no way to shut away the terrible agonizing slow speed at which the minutes crawled by... and most of all feeling the weight of those ten years ahead of her, ten years of torture, ten years without escape from the world...
The sun was starting to rise, the light making everything much clearer, all the outlines sharp and focused, standing out, jumping at her... She'd been moving in a blurred trance, the time she'd spent being a pirate, and it felt like all of a sudden she had been brought back to reality, to the harsh clear world that was too unforgiving for her life...
She sat down on the bed listlessly and said without a trace of emotion in her voice, "I can't promise anything." She shook her head helplessly. "I can't believe this has happened to me..."
Barbossa's eyes strayed to the Chest next to her, and she laid a hand on it protectively. This was all that she lived for now. She brought it on her lap involuntarily and again tears pricked her eyes from the memory...
"I see ye're doing a fine job keeping tha' safe," Barbossa commented.
"Yes," she whispered, "I promised." She glanced a bit halfheartedly at the key lying on her bedside table. Barbossa picked it up and ran a finger along the keyring.
She didn't suspect that he would do anything, but she said a bit sternly, "Put that back please."
But he didn't, and she wanted to go back to sleep, wanted to run away from the horrors of being living in this nightmare...
"Please," she repeated warily. He smiled wickedly.
"Barbossa, give that to me!"
He moved so fast she couldn't see him clearly, he had taken the Chest from her grasp, and he was... no! She couldn't let him open it, no, never... She sprang up and ran after him as he raced out the door--
"Don't you dare--give it back--leave it alone--give it to me!"
He ignored her, laughing, and she was clawing at him uselessly. He had his back to her, dropped the Chest and ran with the red pulsing object in his hands.
She summoned all her energy, chased after him, punching and kicking... But nothing seemed to work, he was still so much faster, and she was exhausted, fatigue pushing down on her... She didn't have any energy left, she was helpless against someone so much stronger, but she pounded on, trying to get the heart...
They were almost at the harbor, and he pushed her back. She fell to the ground screaming, coughing on the sand.
"Stupid damn bloody wicked bastard!" she shouted after him, unable to get up, unable to do anything but lie there and sob hysterically, screaming things that had long since become incomprehensible, so tired, yet she had to go after him... but she couldn't, she knew, and for once she wanted to just stay there... and rest... stop killing herself when she knew she couldn't do it... but it felt like she was already dying, she had nothing to lose...
She was still lying on the beach when she woke up. She stood up unsteadily, listless. The sun was high in the sky and Barbossa's footprints were still visible in the sand. Her cheeks felt stiff from after the thousand tears had dried, and she didn't want to do anything but drop back down on the ground and hide from the world.
She made her way up the hills to her cottage, not seeing anything in her path, not hearing anything, not feeling anything but all that pain... She passed the fallen Chest with the key still in the lock, picked it up and wondered why she had bothered. It useless now, an empty shell, only a reminder that she had lost everything.
Who coined the word 'heartbroken'? she thought as she tried to hold back another sob, tried to stem the flow of tears. Whoever did did a good job.
She raised the Chest and slammed it into the ground with all the strength she could muster. She kicked it and stomped her foot on it, screaming with fury and grief.
It really does hurt there.
She looked like a ghost when he saw her during his sudden visit to Shipwreck Island a week later. Her face was whiter than sea foam, her eyes lost and traumatized. She seemed to have built a shell of cold politeness around her, hiding what had happened and the turmoil and torment underneath. Yet though he knew she had always been one to do something like that, she looked so fragile, that he walked over to her to make sure that it was really Elizabeth he was seeing.
She didn't recognize him at first, and didn't care who it was. She turned away when she realized. He was the last person she wanted to see.
"I heard about it," he said quietly.
"I don't want to talk," she said. Her eyes were dull and lifeless as they stared straight ahead at nothing.
He took a swig of rum.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"It's not your fault," she said weakly, and he knew she was letting down her defenses, too tired to keep them up.
"Well I shouldn't have taken the charts," he said.
"No one expected him to do this, though," she said, and finally her emotions poured out. "But how could I have been so blind?! I should have known, I really should have known, but I'd thought that there was nothing left to take from me... It was like the world was crashing down on me... I was so stupid, I felt so helpless--what happened to me?! And it was just too much afterwards... as if it wasn't a burden enough to begin with...! I didn't even know if I wanted to wait that long, but oh--how could I say that, I knew I had to wait, but I wanted so desperately to give up! I couldn't do it, I can't live now either... I'm not strong enough, I was never strong enough for anything! I want to--I want to die--" She was choking on her sobs by now, tears running in streams down her face, all traces of a will to live was gone from her entire body.
She found herself unable to stand. Jack let her lean on him. She was so light it seemed a wind could blow her away, only her heart was heavy with grief. He wrapped his arms around her thin frail waist. Her sobs shook through her body, she was shuddering violently, her face buried in his chest, soaking his shirt with tears of regret. Her soul had been shattered into so many pieces that she would have collapsed had he not been there, holding her between life and death.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, her eyes red and sore from crying, voice barely audible, "I shouldn't be--especially after what I did to you--"
But he shook his head, brushed away her tears and laid a kiss on her cheek. He knew she'd been in love with Will, but he couldn't resist... and he knew she needed someone to hold, someone to love her.
"Lizzie darling," he said. "Let's go to the Pearl, what say you?" She nodded and let him carry her to the harbor and onto the ship. The familiar sight greeted her, overwhelming her with bittersweet memories. She relaxed in his arms. He laid her gently on his bed as she fell asleep.
The ship was moving when she woke. She could see the sea out the window. It was sunset. The clouds were pink and gold in the sky.
"Jack?" she said uncertainly, and saw him sitting at his desk.
"Lizzie," he said, walking to her. She sat up.
"Jack, where are we going?"
"We're going," said Jack, "anywhere you want, luv."
"No buts, dearie."
"Luv," said Jack, tilting her face towards him and brushing away a strand of hair, "you need to let go."
She knew that he cared about her well-being and such, but she could also see that he really, truly wanted to have her on his ship. He immediately felt something in her change as she turned and looked out at the sunset.
"I still think of him every time I see," she said, her voice thick with unshed tears. Where did they all come from?
"But you need your freedom back," Jack whispered, turning her face towards him again. "You need your life back. Or you could go back to the island. Whatever you say. Just know that me compass is never wrong, savvy?"
He handed her the compass and strode out the door. Elizabeth remained on the bed, turning the compass over and over in her hands but never opening it. Suddenly she pocketed it, stood up, and walked to the door, pausing with her hand on the doorknob.
I have to.
She opened the door and saw Jack walking to the helm, and there was something in his posture, something so small she barely noticed it, that looked... disappointed?
"Jack!" She ran across deck to him, and he caught her in a tight embrace. Her lips came crashing onto his, and they did not part for what seemed like ten years of bliss, carefreeness, and the freedom that was finally here.
"Well, darling? Do we have a heading?"
Elizabeth laughed, and her heart immediately felt a hundred times lighter. She couldn't stop smiling, couldn't stop enjoying the wonderful feeling of it...
"The sea," she said, leaning her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes in the warm breeze. "Anywhere! Anywhere away. And don't turn back."