Chapter Five: A Second Chance

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"Madeline!"

Barbossa sat bolt upright, drenched in sweat and breathless from the fever and the nightmare. It took him a minute to pay attention to his surroundings as the dream receded to the far corners of his consciousness, and he realized he was back in the strange little hut of Tia Dalma, currently lying on a bed in an anteroom, dressed in nothing but breeches and boots.

A sharp pain in his chest demanded his attention, and he was startled when he found the newly healed wound there with his fingers. He frowned when he glanced down at it, as it appeared to be from a bullet.

His thoughts returned to the strange dream he'd had, now wondering which memories since Isla de Muerta had been reality, and which had not, but a screech interrupted his thoughts, and he was suddenly accosted by a small monkey which threw itself on his shoulder and clung to his neck.

"Jack! How are ye, lad?" he asked, reaching up to rub the furry little head, glad to see his long time companion.

"Ah, so now yuh awake," Tia Dalma said from the doorway.

"Aye," he said, unsure why he was here of all places.

"I sey I pey you back someday, don' I?" she asked.

"Aye, that ye did," Barbossa replied, knowing she'd owed him a lifedebt, "but are ye sayin'?"

"Yuh been dead a long time, Hectah."

"Ah," he said quietly. So, it was all true. It took him less time than he would have expected to accept that fact. "Well," he said, "thankee, Mistress Tia. 'Tis fer certain that ye've repaid yer debt handsomely, but I'd best be goin'." He swung his legs over the side of the bed.

She sauntered across the short distance from the door to the bed, and put a hand firmly on his shoulder, preventing him from rising. "So soon?"

"Aye, I have a weddin' to stop," he said wryly.

"She still waits for you. One year you have before she marry her lieutenant," Tia said, settling herself in his lap.

"A year ye say?" Barbossa asked.

"Yes," Tia Dalma replied, sliding her arms around his neck, "yuh can spare one night more."

"I really can't," he replied, thoughts of the woman he had come back for foremost in his mind. "I need to get to Port Royal."

"For dat yuh needa ship an' crew," she replied, tightening her grasp around his neck slightly, and leaning closer.

"Yer right," he said, his gaze now on her full lips.

"You stay one more night heah, and tomorrow yuh have a crew," she said softly, planting a tiny but lingering kiss at the very corner of his mouth.

Barbossa swallowed hard even as he started to pull the woman against him, joyfully welcoming the flood of adrenaline in his veins and the speeding of an actual pulse in his chest as he contemplated the possibility of taking her on the bed they sat on. The need nearly overwhelmed him after ten years without the slightest contact with a woman.

True, he'd grabbed the Turner....Swann girl a handful of times, and ran his fingers through her hair when he'd moved it aside to hang the cursed coin around her neck, but he'd not been able to feel any of her warmth or softness beneath his hands, so it really didn't count.

His thoughts of the headstrong governor's daughter were quickly replaced with darker lustful thoughts when the woman in his lap suddenly closed her mouth over his as if her survival depended on kissing him. Perhaps he could spare one more night before he attempted the voyage back to Madeline.

Madeline.

Barbossa quickly pushed Tia Dalma away, breaking from the deepening kiss they were sharing abruptly.

"Yuh find dat unpleasant?" she asked knowingly, a wicked gleam in her eyes.

"Nay, not at all, Mistress Tia," he replied, even as he stood and deposited her somewhat ungracefully on her feet. "Ye'd be a right temptin' feast fer a starvin' man."

He meant his words, but he also was wise enough to know that hiding from Madeline that the first thing he'd done after being brought back from the other side was to bed another woman, was probably not the best way to try to attempt any sort of reconciliation. And telling her he'd done such a thing? Well, he hadn't survived life as a pirate for this many years by being that stupid, now had he? Best just to avoid the matter altogether.

She moved closer, blocking his path, placed her delicate hand on his bare skin, dragging her long nails lightly across his chest, coming to let them rest over his newest scar. "What harm be dere in one night?" she purred. "Even if ya woman accept yuh back, how long migh' it be before she agree to...?"

She closed her mouth over his again to make her point, and Barbossa found that it seemed she had a valid one. He found himself drawing her in tightly once again, and responding hungrily to her kiss.

Tia Dalma broke away, a triumphant gleam in her eye as she drew him back toward the bed. "Lingah a while wid me, Hectah," she said, reclining on the blanket and pulling him down to her, tangling her fingers in his long hair even as he began kissing her neck ravenously. "Pleasure first, and den we talk 'bout de rest of yuh peyment."

Barbossa halted where he was at her throat in mid kiss. "What 'rest of me payment'?" he asked, his voice suddenly concerned.

"A simple task is all," she replied in a seductive whisper, pressing herself up against him and trying to return his attention to where they'd been heading.

He pulled back a bit further to meet her eyes with an unblinking blue stare. "What task?" he asked, his voice gone cold as his gaze.

"A trifle," she said, waiving him off a bit with a casual flick of her delicate hand.

"We'll be discussin' it first, I think," Barbossa said, pinning her against the bed where she was, not missing the instant flash of anger in her eyes that disappeared almost before he saw it. Her expression turned to a sensual pout, and when she still realized his hard stare was unbroken, she resigned herself to tell him what she desired of him.

"Yuh know of de goddess, Calypso?" she asked.

"Aye," he replied, "imprisoned by the firs' Brethren Court she was; bound in 'er bones for all eternity."

"No longa, all eternity," she replied, staring him down defiantly.

Barbossa stared back at her for a moment, brow furrowed in puzzlement until just what was going on sank in, and he tore himself from her and the bed, gaining his feet and pacing agitatedly.

"Yeh cursed swampcat!" he spat at her angrily. "You meant to trap me!"

"Trap is a haarsh word," she said, losing all pretenses at that point.

He snarled wordlessly as he paced and then spoke again. "'Tis well know that any man who sleeps with a goddess unawares becomes her slave fer all eternity! You never meant to help me get back to..."

She rose off the bed and gazed up at him with a dark look in her eyes, defiance and anger now creeping into her half-whispered question. "Yuh wan' go back to ya woman? Den yuh help me first. I bring yuh back, you will release me…den yuh be allowed to go ta Mahdaline."

Barbossa whipped his head in her direction. "How do you know her name?" he demanded, not liking the idea of the witch-goddess knowing it.

The smile that slowly spread across Calypso's face was not a pleasant one. "She name be da firs' ting you sey, when you awake," she said sweetly, mocking him. "Menny tings I know about Mahdaline Gray."

Barbossa took a bold step toward her. "You stay away from her, witch!" he snarled.

Calypso continued to smile. "Or else what?" she purred. "Is a simple mattah, Barbossa. I bring yuh back, yuh set me free and our debt is settled."

Barbossa thought frantically for a moment, knowing this agreement was going to be a critical one. "How exactly am I to free you, and why did ye not ask this of me when we met before?"

"You not be a Pirate Lord den, Barbossa," she said, her tone playful once again, and at that moment he understood what had to be done.

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He had to say, standing at the bottom of the stairs, that the looks on all their faces were really quite amusing, and he took a bite of the apple he'd been toying with, just to reinforce the understanding that he was in fact, alive.

He'd made his bargain with the goddess, and been thankful that she'd not been a stickler for specifics. It was going to leave him a lot more leeway to do what needed to be done, in the manner he saw fit.

He'd release Calypso from her imprisonment and then, his part of the bargain complete, would try his hand at life again, and this time there would be no mistakes.

One year he had to accomplish what she asked of him; one year to make it to Singapore to gather the secrets to the passage. One year he had to guide a ragtag group of misfit pirates through a journey that so very few had ever taken, and even fewer had ever survived – all to bring back the greatest misfit pirate of them all.

By the end of that year, he must see to it that the song was sung- that the call went out, and ensure that the Brethren gathered, which would be easier to do than convincing them of what needed to be done next, once assembled. Of course, the goddess knew that of the few people that might be capable of achieving such a task, the Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea was one of them.

As much as he longed to find out whether or not there was still a chance with the woman that Calypso said still might wait for him, he knew that it was only fitting that he addressed the matter of his first love, first. Jack clung to his shoulder, screeching in excitement as he spoke to the dumbstruck group of pirates.

"So, tell me," he said jauntily, apple still in hand, "what's become of my ship?"

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A/N: Thanks once again for all the great comments and support for this story! It's been a fun way to explore Barbossa's return from the afterworld and you all have made it even more fun! Cheers!

Current Barbossa's Hat results: 6 No 50 Yes!

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