A/N: Thanks to Scourge of the Caspian for such a lovely review! :)
Final tally on Barbossa's hat: 4 No 38 Yes!
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Turk rambled on for another minute. "Hector and I have always debated how long we'd stay pirates for. I guess neither of us thought we'd do this forever, but it kinda takes hold of yeh once yer in."
He chuckled a bit to himself. "Barbossa always said he'd give it up if he ever found a woman worth havin' that would have him back. I figured it was just a way fer him to excuse the fact that he's been a rogue fer such a long while as there aren't a lot of women who might find themselves fallin' fer a pirate, and then…" He shrugged.
"And then?" I asked.
"And then you came along, May," Turk said with a wink, "And now, the captain of the Rogue Wave has found himself obsessed with gold of another sort." Turk tugged on my hair a little, meaningfully.
"Obsessed?" I asked, smiling again at his comment.
"Aye," Turk said with a nod. "He's completely smitten."
"And you can tell this from knowing him for so long, I imagine?" I asked.
"Nah," Turk said, giving me another wink. "He told me."
I was still standing there speaking with Turk when Barbossa finally appeared, crossing the deck toward us while perching that damned hat on his head. Turk and I shared a look, and I could see Barbossa watch us suspiciously as he neared.
Turk was the first to speak when he made it to where we were. "What kind of feathers are those again?" he asked, eying Barbossa's hat.
"Ostrich," Barbossa replied warily, knowing Turk's question couldn't mean anything good.
"That one of them birds as shoves its head in the sand when it's scared?" Turk asked, already starting to grin.
"Supposedly," Barbossa replied, narrowing his eyes in suspicion at his bo'sun.
Turk sniggered. "Yeah, well, it looks like one of them bloody birds shoved its head up its arse instead, an' perched itself on yer head."
"That might be the most creative insult ye've given me hat yet, Master Turk," Barbossa said, obviously amused by Turk despite himself. "No matter. May likes me hat, even if you don't." He slid his arm lightly about my waist and left it there, not concerned about what Turk or anyone else might think.
Turk smiled mischievously at us. "I'm willin' to bet she likes more'n yer hat," he said with a wink at Barbossa, causing my face to feel very warm after his comment. He immediately took on a look of mock horror. "Where's yer mind, girl?" he asked, teasing me after he'd seen me blush (which of course, had been his intent all along). I only meant there's a lot more to this peacock than jus' his silly hat."
"Aye, a lot more," Barbossa chimed in wickedly, perpetuating the innuendo, and I felt my face get even warmer.
"Well, now, that might be best judged from the lady's perspective," Turk continued mercilessly, giving me a questioning glance.
I couldn't help but laugh, even as I shook my head. "You two are just awful," I scolded, still blushing and unable to keep a straight face.
"Awful?" Turk asked, and then shot an accusing look at Barbossa. "That's not what yeh told me she said about yeh the other night."
Barbossa frowned. "I said nothin' of any sort, and you know it," he shot back. "Don't you have any duties that need tendin' to, Master Turk?"
"I s'pose I do, now," Turk replied sarcastically, taking the hint and heading aft. He made an exaggerated smooching noise, mimicking a kiss as he left, and chuckled to himself as he walked away.
Barbossa sighed in mild exasperation. "Why 'tis that I've put up with him fer all these years, I don't know."
I slid my hand under Barbossa's arm and casually walked with him. "Probably the same reason he's put up with you," I teased.
"Probably," he admitted.
As we neared the bow of the ship, my thoughts turned back to the conversation we'd had the night before, and I grew quiet as I contemplated what future we might possibly have.
"What is it yeh're thinkin' about?" he asked, intruding gently on my thoughts after I'd been silent for several moments.
"The fact that you want me to go," I said quietly.
"Want ye to go?" he repeated. "Want has naught to do with it, May. 'Tis fer certain that what I want, I cannot have."
"What is it that you want, Hector?" I asked him earnestly.
"What I want is you, here, on this ship, in my bed, by my side," he said, risking a glance down at where I stood hanging onto his arm.
I had no reply to such a declaration coming from him.
"But I'll not have you subjected to such a hard and dangerous life, jus' because I be a selfish an' greedy old rogue who really wants to beg ye to stay more'n anythin'. This ship's no place fer a lady, and I'd not be able to stand meself if I ever let anythin' happen to you." He glanced down at me again, and then turned to face me and take me gently by the arms. "You mean too much to me, May."
"I don't want to go," I finally told him, "but I know that you're right." I let him draw me in against him, and embraced him tightly, tucking my head in just under his chin. "I've never met anyone like you, Hector."
"Aye, that's likely true," he replied with charming arrogance, trying to lighten the moment.
I spent the rest of the morning conversing with him freely, enjoying his company and the conversation without intimidation hanging over my head. I had a thousand things I wanted to know about him, and each question I asked about him seemed to amuse him, yet please him as well. I think that he was genuinely happy that I appeared to have such an obvious fascination with his past, and there were few questions that he didn't answer for me. Only occasionally would he seem a bit reluctant to talk about certain subjects, and he'd simply reply, "That be a story fer another time, lass."
He'd made one such comment when I'd asked him about the duel he'd referred to that gave him the prominent scar on his cheek, and I pressed him no further for an answer, content to think that he'd tell me more about it at a later time. He leaned on his elbows on the rail, contemplating the open ocean before us, and I adopted a similar posture next to him, making it a point to let my arm rest against his.
We stood together like that for a long moment before he spoke again. "How be yer leg?"
"Fine," I replied.
He turned and touched the small wound under my chin, where Stoker had cut me sadistically. "This'll be gone shortly," he said, and then he let one finger trace down my throat to the first button on my dress. My heart sped up as his fingers undid it. "Perhaps I'd best check this wound as well," he said softly, eyes fastened on mine, even as his fingers undid the next button, exposing the very top of the healing scratch from the knife that ran down my chest.
I wondered at that moment, if he was contemplating the same thing that I was –that the heart that still beat beneath where he was letting his fingers trace across the curves of my skin that he had exposed, belonged to him, and not just because he'd kept my attacker from silencing it. His gaze came back up to meet mine after traveling to where his fingers were, and he lifted his hand to tip up my chin, not hesitating to press his mouth over mine in a deep, lingering kiss.
Someone pointedly clearing their throat near us alerted us to the fact that we'd been joined near the bow, and I was already smiling before the kiss quite ended.
"I'm glad to see yeh takin' my advice," Turk said, obviously pleased at the way things apparently stood between us. "It's about time yeh lived more fer the moment."
While living for the moment might have been good advice, it was good advice for a short period of time, as suddenly, without warning, without fanfare, that moment came to an end.
The three of us looked off to starboard as the lookout called down, and there, not far in the distance, was land. It soon became obvious by the fact that two ships were anchored there as well, that what we were looking at was a small port of some sort.
I shared a brief look with Barbossa, knowing that this would be what we had determined, so long ago it seemed, to be a suitable place to put me ashore. He reacted quickly, wanted to avoid any unnecessary drama after what we'd already discussed, and he turned to speak to Turk.
"Master Turk, if ye'd be so kind as to ready one of the boats, and have May's things brought on deck?"
Turk nodded, and walked away quickly without saying anything, leaving me alone for the last time with Barbossa. It took only a few minutes for the pirates to have my medical bag, and the small trunk of clothes from Lilith stowed in the longboat, and have it lowered and waiting with Turk and four oarsmen, including Bellamy.
I didn't know what to say.
"'Twill be easy fer you to get back to Port Royal from here," Barbossa said quietly, "and then to wherever 'tis ye decide."
"I'll be in Port Royal," I said softly, knowing already that I wasn't going back home to Wiltshire.
"Would ye go to England, later?" he asked, implying that he meant with him. Of course, there was no way that a pirate as infamous in the Caribbean as Barbossa could ever retire there.
"England would be lovely," I said, trying to smile.
He nodded, and offered me his arm. "Then England it shall be," he said, leading me to the ladder.
It would be the last time I'd ever climb the ladder of the Rogue Wave, either departing or boarding.
I sat in the rear of the boat with him, hanging onto his arm desperately, and the few minutes it took us to reach the shore went by in a heartbeat. Suddenly, Turk and Bellamy were setting my things ashore, and Barbossa was helping me out of the boat once again, to step on land.
I knew I should say goodbyes quickly, before too much attention was paid to my companions and the ship in the harbor.
I turned to Michael first.
"Goodbye, May," he said, giving me a smile. "Good luck to you."
He offered me his hand, which I ignored, and I hugged him fiercely, knowing that it wouldn't matter much to Barbossa at that point if I did. "I'll not forget you, Michael," I said as he finally hugged me back. "Thank you for always looking out for me."
He nodded and smiled as I stepped back, and walked away to climb back in the boat.
Turk just about lifted me off the ground in the tremendous one-armed hug he gave me, and despite the fact that he was crushing my ribs, I managed to whisper in his ear. "You'll keep an eye on him for me?" I asked. "You can't miss him in that bloody hat."
Turk let go of me and nodded. "Aye, May, that I will. You look after yerself, darlin'."
I nodded. "Thank you," I said, and stood on tiptoe to plant a kiss on his cheek, and he smiled and walked away to join the others, leaving me standing on the shore alone with Barbossa.
He stepped close to me and reached out to gently lift my chin so that my tear filled eyes met his. "Madeline," he said softly, "ye be a right sharp doctor, and the finest lady I've ever met. Don't ye let any man ever tell you any different."
I nodded, unable to say anything through my tears.
"'Tis time to go," he said very softly, and he drew me into a deep kiss that I wished wouldn't end. When he drew back he spoke briefly. "Do ye trust me?" he asked.
I said the one thing that I knew would tell him what I really wanted, but was unable to say. "The final name is Zeus," I said, knowing he would understand.
He did, and I was rewarded one last time with that roguish half-smile that I had come to love so much. He stepped back and took up my hand, brushing it with his lips even as he backed away. "M'lady," he said softly, meeting my eyes one more time, and then he turned and went.
I stood there watching the pirates row away, Barbossa standing at the front of the longboat, one foot propped against the prow. I remained while the boat was hauled back alongside the Rogue, and while the anchor was raised, and while the sails began unfurling, watching the distant silhouette of the plumed hat move across the deck even as the ship began to make way.
I would have turned away at that point, but I found myself laughing as the Rogue Wave suddenly hoisted her colors, and three cannon shots roared through the late afternoon, a final salute from, and no doubt, a final way to show off for my pirate captain.
The ship had been gone for several long minutes before I turned to see several of the townsfolk standing nearby and looking at me in a concerned way.
"Are you alright, Miss?" An older gentleman was glancing from me to the distant ship and then back again.
"I've never been better," I said, reaching to pick up my medical bag.
A week later, I opened the door to my little house just down the hill from where the Beckett's lived. The next day I would go to call on Charles to explain to him what had happened the night the Essex had encountered the pirate ship, but for that moment I just wanted to be home.
The boys who had carried my things into the hall for me left after I gave them each a coin for their troubles, and I walked through my little house, thinking how quiet it seemed.
I happened to pass a mirror in the hallway, and the woman who looked back at me startled me with how different she appeared from what I expected. With skin more sun-browned than it had been on shore, and hair bleached lighter and cascading across my shoulders, the woman in the peasant dress from Tortuga bore only a passing resemblance to the tightly laced up doctor who had left six weeks before.
I tried to sleep that night unsuccessfully, in part because I had so much on my mind, and in part because the house was so still. I'd grown accustomed to the sounds of the timbers creaking on the Rogue at night without realizing it.
The next day I arranged for groceries to be sent to my house, as I'd not left anything in the pantry when I'd originally intended to go to England, and I included on the list a bottle of fine rum, and the ingredients I would need to make Coq au vin.
My visit to Charles Beckett was a difficult one, as I was the one that had to deliver the news about his wife's untimely demise on board a pirate ship. Of course, I wanted him to know her fate, but I managed to modify the story enough so that in his mind, Cornelia had accidentally fallen overboard, and was unable to be successfully rescued by the crew.
Charles seemed grateful for the information, although not terribly broken up by the news that he was a widower, and I thanked my lucky stars as I left that I had not had to rely on the man's generosity to determine my fate.
It was only a few days before my first patient arrived, sick with a case of consumption, and I quickly found myself falling back into my old life, caring for the sick and the injured of Port Royal.
I found it hard to believe that three weeks had flown by since I'd last seen the Rogue Wave and her captain, and I wondered frequently if he'd been thinking of me, until the day the box arrived at my clinic.
I had been too busy with patients until well after dinnertime to give the box much thought, and it was only after I had eaten and sat down with a glass of the rum that I remembered the delivery from earlier.
The box wasn't large –about two feet all around, but it was quite heavy, and I decided to open it in the clinic where I'd left it rather than drag it into the house. The only writing on the box indicated my name, and it appeared to be a woman's unfamiliar handwriting.
When I'd managed to pry the top off the box, the inside was packed with cloth surrounding its contents, and a note sat on top, written in the same handwriting as my name on the front.
I've managed to pass this along to you as a favor to our mutual friend, and I hope that it finds you without delay.
Lilith and I only had one mutual friend, and I quickly pulled out the cloth that was cushioning the contents of the box, anxious to see what he had sent. I struggled to lift an ornate metal chest out of the box, and set in on my exam table to open it.
Two treasures lay inside, the first, a large amount of gold coin that filled the interior nearly to the top, and the second, a letter in the familiar angular handwriting of Hector Barbossa.
I quickly opened the letter, anxious for some word of how he fared, and two lines into it went back to the beginning to read it over. It was written in flawless King's English, but I could hear his familiar West Country accent in my mind as I read it again, knowing how it would sound if he were there to read it to me.
My hope is that this letter finds you quickly, and that ye be safe and well in Port Royal.
I wished to get word to you sharply about the fate of the Rogue Wave, before ye heard aught out of other sources.
Our voyage together on the Rogue, much to my great consternation, was to be her last, and I find meself in search of a ship an' a crew at present.
To speak plainly, the Rogue went out in spectacular fashion, blown up by not by His Majesty's finest, but some of me own during festivities not far out of Tortuga, and while ye may surmise 'twas the end of most of her crew, I'll tell ye true that Masters Bellamy, Turk and Harlow be safe, as they were off the ship at the time.
As I've found meself with a bit of time on my hands, and a lovely doctor much on my mind, I wanted to tell you that I have not forgotten our accord.
Trust that I'll not be forgettin' it any time soon, lass.
Michael Bellamy has decided to head west to the new colonies, and Thomas Harlow has found himself a bride here in Tortuga, of all places.
Master Turk, the great bloody ox, has decided that he's had yet enough close calls fer his likin' and he plans to stay here as well.
As fer me, I have yet another voyage or two left before I hang up me hat, and by the time ye put the gold to good use, you should plan on makin' an important decision.
What'll it be – Padstow or Wiltshire, M'lady? Whatever be yer heart's content, be my pleasure, as long as ye accompany me whither we roam.
The gold be your share from the final voyage of the Rogue Wave –one thirtieth of the plunder she carried. I knew ye'd not accept it when ye left, and fret about it bein' stolen, but look at it this way, May. 'Twould be put to a better use buildin' a hospital than bein' spent by pirates on the things that pirates spend gold on.
If yeh're not inclined to spend it outright, consider it a loan, and ye can repay me later in which ever manner ye deem most appropriate, keepin' in mind it be a great deal of money.
I must get this to Lily, who has agreed to deliver it for me, as I have been fortunate enough to hear of a venture soon to leave Tortuga. I have signed onto a ship called the Black Pearl, currently captained by one Jack Sparrow, who ye've heard of before.
I don't expect that to last fer long.
Know that ye be the last thought I have before goin' aboard, and trust that ye'll be in my thoughts every day that I sail on the Black Pearl, fer however long this voyage lasts.
Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea
And suddenly there he was in writing, showing off again at the last, and I found myself laughing at all the arrogant charm he'd managed to convey in the letter, until it became apparent that tears were no longer streaming down my face from laughter.
I stood in the hallway, outside the room that the meeting would be held in, a week later, pacing nervously as I waited. I was about to go before the magistrates and the governor himself again, and tell them that I was building the hospital I wanted.
Not that there was much they could do about it at that point. I'd purchased the land on the bluff outright, and had the funds in hand to pay for the building, thanks to the share of the gold that Barbossa had sent me.
While the officials of the town, as well as some of the bankers, were puzzled as to where I'd managed to come up with such a large sum so quickly, I merely informed them that my backer wished to remain anonymous, and they soon quit pestering me for details.
Although I knew that it was unlikely that anything would stand in the way of the new facility, I wanted to make sure that I dotted all my I's and crossed all my T's before we broke ground, and that would include officially making the presentation I was waiting to give to the governor, the magistrates, and the likes of Charles Beckett, and other men of influence in the Jamaican capitol.
I continued to pace in the hallway, waiting for them to call me, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror at the end of the hallway again.
I was wearing a new dress that I had bought upon returning to Port Royal, one much more conservative than, but the same shade of blue as the daring dress I'd worn for Barbossa into Tortuga that night, weeks ago.
I laughed at my own suntanned reflection a bit, as I admitted to myself there, that I had in fact, although I'd not admitted it to myself at the time, worn the dress for him. Something he likely knew before I did, the arrogant peacock, and it was probably one of the reasons he'd flirted so shamelessly with me that night.
Charles Beckett was the one that came to let me know the assembly was ready for me, and he interrupted my thoughts of being held in the arms of the pirate captain, as he opened the door.
"They're ready for you, Miss Gray," he said coolly.
I knew that he wasn't pleased about the fact that I'd purchased the land on top of the cliff, and had been considering building a new, larger home on the spot until I'd managed to plunk down hard cash and commandeer the site.
Beckett would be the only real opposition I'd be likely to face that night, but if he thought he was going to have an easy time of intimidating me or getting me to back down, he was sadly mistaken.
I knew as I turned away from the mirror at the end of the hall and walked toward him, that he faced a formidable opponent in the matter, and he didn't stand a chance of besting the woman who had earned the title of Ship's Doctor to the Rogue Wave.
While I might not have felt that way weeks before when I left Port Royal, defeated and ready to give up my dream, I knew that the ordeal I had gone through on the pirate ship had done just what Barbossa had said was all I needed.
I'd been picked up and dusted off, and I was ready to accomplish something fine, indeed.
Final Author's Note:
So, perhaps now, if I've done my job as a storyteller, the next time you all watch Curse of the Black Pearl, you'll stop to wonder if there could have been love in Hector Barbossa's past.
When Elizabeth is first brought on board, and finds Barbossa standing alone on the quarterdeck, had he just been contemplating the fact that he was devastating the very town that Madeline lives in out of desperation to recover the last coin? Had he been wondering where she was that night?
When he tells Elizabeth, in a deleted scene, that the wine colored dress suits her, and then replies, "Now, none of that," to her query about the fate of the dress's previous owner, could it be that he refers to Cornelia Beckett? Madeline mentions a wine colored dress in Cornelia's trunk several times in the story.
When Barbossa becomes impassioned about what he's lost due to the curse, and speaks of not being able to feel the warmth of a woman's flesh, does he speak of a specific woman? Does he lament the fact, that like the song Michael Bellamy sings that night, he and May have but one passionate night together before he falls under the curse?
When he strikes Elizabeth in the cave at Isla de Muerta, perhaps it is only the second time he's struck a woman, both for the same reason - that he sees his final chance at being with Madeline being torn from his grasp, and he reacts out of helpless anger and frustration.
And finally, after searching for all of the Aztec gold, being shot, killed, and brought back by Tia Dalma, is there any chance that a lady doctor still waits for her charming rogue after more than ten years?
In the universe of Pirates of the Caribbean, it is not an unheard of thing for a pirate to wait a decade for the man she loves to return. ;)
Keep in mind there's no rule that says completed stories can't be reviewed. If you've enjoyed the story, feel free to drop me a comment or two and let me know! :) Cheers!