A/N: I know. Short. 1,630 words. However, I actually wanted to write Sparrabeth today, so be happy with what you got! I know I am! :) Thank you all for the reviews!

Disclaimer: Nothing.

Jack nodded nonchalantly as she came to stand before him, and then motioned with a sweeping hand toward one of the chairs. "Take a seat."

"I would prefer to stand." Her eyes swept over him, and then she planted her palms on the flat, map covered surface of his desk, slowly shaking his head. "We may talk, Jack, but nothing you say will make me change my mind. If you would like to try and explain yourself, go right ahead. I will listen. However, nothing to which you could possibly say I will ever agree with."

He gazed at her with an unreadable expression, then stood, walking over to look out the window. Saying nothing, she soon decided that he actually had nothing to say, but before she could call him on it he began to speak.

"I left you because I had to. The East India Trading Company was after us again, as you well know. Even if you don't remember what they can do, I do." He lifted his hand subtly, looking at the vivid white scar of the branded 'P' on his wrist. "A long time ago I found myself caught in their trap; if you recall, I told you that story years ago, when we were still together. They took me in, trained me, and when I did something right, branded me and set my ship on fire. I sold my soul to the devil in order to keep myself alive.

"Beckett always had a grudge against me for that pacific reason. He tried to kill me again, in the whole battle with Davy Jones, but instead of jus' me being in danger, you and dear William were thrown into the mix." With a turn on his heel he looked at her, going to rest his hands against the edge of his desk and sigh. "William I didn't care about. He could fend for himself, as could you. 'M not saying that you couldn't; you are very skilled and stubborn. Still, I did not want to risk your life. I cringed at the thought of having your death on my conscious, even if I wanted to get revenge.

"We were lucky, you and I, to get out of that alive. 'M always lucky, but that luck, I know, never stays for long." He trailed off, and then with a firm expression he shrugged off his coat, draped it over the chair, and then wriggled out of the shirt he was wearing.

Elizabeth watched him with wide eyes, both frightened and dizzy with nostalgia. Seeing him like this, it had been years. A slow breath sucked in through her teeth, hands shaking as inches upon inches of sculpted, golden skin became bared to her. For a brief moment an overwhelming urge to touch him washed over her, but as quickly as it came it left, leaving her stunned.

Pressing her hand over her mouth, she felt her eyes fill with tears. The beautiful, ink marked skin, the chiseled muscles, and the healthy glow she remembered seeing before he'd abandoned her, the body she had explored for hours on end... Crossing the distance between them, she reached out one hand, fingers ghosting along angry scars and broken skin, tracing next to blackened punctures and blood-smeared cuts. A sickening feeling grabbed her, squeezed around her stomach, and seconds later she stumbled from him to toss open the windows and get sick.

She slumped over the windowsill, shudders that raked her frame only to be calmed by the feeling of Jack's fingers running through her hair, trailing down her neck, smoothing over her shirt-clad back. "You're wearing my shirt." he whispered, a weird note coming into his roughened voice. Gingerly she pulled herself together, and then stood, shying from his touch before turning to look into his eyes. The heel of her hand pressed against her lips, stifling sobs even as tears burned her vision.

"Who did that to you?" she asked weakly, even though she knew the answer.

"East India Company." he told her evenly, grabbing his shirt and pulling it back on. "None of 'em hurt much anymore, but you need to understand...if I had let you stay with me, they would have tortured you. They would have branded you, raped you, beat you, and then killed you for being a pirate or at least being associated with one." Going to her, he raised one calloused hand and cupped her chin, forcing her to look at him. "They would have killed you, and I wouldn't have stopped until every single one of those worthless, disgusting bastards had suffered for it. That is why I had to leave you, to make sure they wouldn't do to you as they did to me." With that he pulled back before going to tug on his coat. "Even the bravest, strongest, most beautiful pirate," he shot her a meaningful look, "would not have been able to escape their clutches. My luck ran out, and everyone around me had suffered the consequences. Except you."

With a withering sigh he sat down in his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose before snatching the rum bottle off his desk. "I don't care if you hate me for leaving you, Elizabeth. If you decide to hate me, then that is your decision. Still, I stand with what I said. I left you to keep you safe, and I came back for you as soon as I could, and that is that."

"You could have just told me." she whispered weakly, but he only shook his head and spun his chair to look at her.

"Nay, love. You would have fought me tooth and nail to stay with me. Kicking, screaming, slapping (which you did do, if I may point out), threatening, even murdering me again. I had to leave you, I had to hurt you. Don't think it was a hasty decision that I made. To the contrary, I put a lot of thought and time into it. Still, every time I came to the same conclusion." He smiled wryly. "You're just too stubborn for your own good, Lizzie."

Looking exhausted, she stood there and watched him, wanting nothing more than to crawl into his arms and seek comfort. It had been long, so long, since she had last been really held. Yet, even if he'd explained and showed her why he'd felt the need to leave her, she did not feel one hundred percent convinced. She did not feel like they could simply forget what had happened, and go back to before without a second thought. There needed to be a lot of healing between them, and a lot of trust had to be reestablished, and she actually had to start believing in what he said to her. "I understand, Jack, but I still...I can't forgive you. I would have taken what they had given me, and without a sound, just to be near you. I would have fought non-stop by your side, where I belonged. I'd have given up everything for you." Slowly she shook her head, then rubbed at her face with her palms. "None of that really hurts, though. I could get over that easily, but there is...there is something else."

"Elizabeth?" He searched her face, trying to figure out what she kept trying to say, but not able to. "What else?"

Slowly, feeling ill, she looked to him. "There was a baby."

Jack's eyes darkened with an unknown expression. "A baby..." he echoed slowly. "Your baby?"

"Yes. My baby." Her teeth sank into her lower lip. "Not just my baby, Ja-"

"No, obviously." he returned, taking a long swig of rum. "Usually takes two people to make a child." His eyes shut for a moment, and then he looked to her. "You wanted to go back...is this why? Because you have a lover and a child to return to?"

"Ja-" He cut her off with a wave of his hand.

"No, Elizabeth, I understand. Should have asked." His expression darkened even further, and she shied away from him, desperate to tell him but afraid of what he would say to her. "You may leave now." She watched as he motioned to the door, and then watched as he turned from her to study some maps on his desk. Frustration welled inside her, and without thinking she marched over to him, took the rum from his hand and threw it across the room, and then grabbed his face in her hands when he looked at her.

"Don't you dare." she hissed, tears welling in her eyes again though she fought to keep them at bay. "How could you even- How could you even think I would ever be with another man like that?" Slowly Elizabeth shook her head. "No, Jack. I was with no other. Never. Couldn't even think about doing something like that."

"Then, you mean-"

"Aye. My baby, our baby." she whispered, then watched as he shut his eyes and took in a deep breath. The silence that followed threatened to crush her. Her hands trembled and she pulled away from him, taking a few steps back before wiping at her cheeks. "I...I'll go now." When he said nothing she spun around and fled the room, slamming the door shut behind her before seeking out a place he'd never look for her. His rejection toward her love for him hurt, but knowing he hadn't wanted a baby that they made together...that stung even more.