So, the bloody wench had kissed him at last, plundered his mouth and had taken what he had never offered freely.

Casual liasons with a lovely consenting creature provided much needed solace on the few occasions he craved it,

though he preferred a long night of rum and a blissful sleep in a woman's arms than much else.

Freely offered, freely taken, free to walk away in the morning with his coin and kiss and a story to tell,

without the binding of matrimony.

Her lips were laced with fire, her body splayed over his, a strand of her golden hair gracing his knuckle

as he trembled in the sudden realization that his friend's beloved was committing the cruelest betrayal.

He winced, panting, shoved hands between them, backed away until he felt the solid mast colliding with

his back.

"I'm proud of you, Jack." Elizabeth purred as she gave him that coy, cruel smirk, and for once, words failed him.

She arched against him, twisting catlike, and he could only open and close his mouth, feeling like he was

drowning. She ran her lips over his again, and he jerked away, choking.

"Don't." It was only breathed into a clenched hiss as he shook his head, peering up at her with awe

and disgust. "And what about your *beloved*, Elizabeth?" It was viciously flung at her as he spat,

"I'm hardly one to concern meself with a sense of honor, and decency, but that does not mean I am

quite willing to sacrifice the wee bit I've got left for *this.*" He waved a hand in a wide flourish,

distancing himself even further, eyes narrowing uneasily as she only gave him that coy little

grin again.

She lunged forward, then, and he tensed in instinct, turned away, fearing another attempt to

steal a delusion, or play pirate or whatever disturbance was in the wench's head. His heart

clenched when he felt the sea-slimed shackle against his wrist, the merry jingle of irons and his heart

broke when she stepped away, with that smug hatred glittering in her eyes. Elizabeth slid away from him,

her eyes haunted, as she bulked at the grunt of disbelief, that anguished yank of the chain against

unyielding wood, that sharp awareness and betrayed hurt in Jack's eyes.

Vaguely, he heard the justification burbling from her lips, stammered out in a desperate attempt for

absolution. "It's not after us, it's after you.....this is the only way, can't you *see* that?"

Her voice had taken on the dagger's edge of a shrill, whining plea, as he shook his head, in slow,

bitter-sweet understanding. He leaned forward, relished her pretty face contorted in tears,

savored the horrific knowledge that she had bound herself by chains far harsher than the one

about his wrist.

"Pirate." It was a long, languid purr, soft as a breath. It was only one word, and yet, she staggered away as if

stabbed, one hand clapped over her mouth to fight the rising bile in her throat. Jack was only a defenseless

man, drenched and bleeding and soon to be gone from her life forever. Yet that word had been

spoken in some perverse prophesy that would ghost over her dreams and days until she was nearly

driven mad.

His chuckle felt like broken glass, that satisfied smile far too eerie as she scrambled away after one last

glance. His eyes had never left her retreating form, and her last memory of him was that certain nod. Guilt made

her look back as she was fleeing into the lifeboat, but cruelty made her sputter out the lie and demand their exit with such

venom that even Will flinched. She had snarled out that Jack was staying behind to give them a chance, her

tear-blurred eyes never leaving the doomed ship as they paddled the erratic little boat as far away as possible.

She missed Will's flinch of anguish, those tortured dark eyes gazing back at the Pearl even as they frantically

battled the water and gained a sizable distance from the proud, black ship.

Jack shuddered at the waiting, hungry silence, knowing that the lull would not last for long. He had rubbed his wrist

raw, made his skin slick with the red gore of his own blood in a desperate attempt to lubricate the shackle. It clung

to his wrist, unyielding, regardless of how he bent his fingers, or twisted their bones. He cursed, slung a bootheel against

the mast, and then flung all of his body weight away. He was only rewarded by a vicious yank and the ache of his sprained

wrist nearly breaking. He nearly whimpered in panic, eyes darting for anything that might help. The dying lamp's flicker caught

his attention, as he slung the piece of wood through it's handle and broke the glass against the mass. Hot oil burned

his flesh, nearly charred the open wound to cauterization. He bit his lip at the pain, frantically scrubbed his wrist with the

lamp oil. He grit his teeth, felt his shoulder nearly dislocate and his entire body nearly flung to the sea from the force

of the last attempt. But, the shackle slid off and he was free.

He allowed himself a cocky little smirk, flounced his coat and pivoted sharply to assess the rest of this maddening situation.

He saw the tackline to the lifeboat laying slack along the deck, the rest bobbing in the water, and the rest of the crew

ferroting their way to safety. He choked back the cursing, ignored the sudden burn of tears as the truth seared through

his soul. They had left him to die. Jack grit his teeth, shored up his last reserve of strength as he surveyed the churning ocean,

and the empty ship. He knew it would not be long before the cursed beast came back from the deep to claim its prize, and

the only option really left to him was choosing how to die.

Jack bit his lip in a mournful twitch as he gently pat the ebody wood in a last, loving caress. "I always knew that it'd end like this,

love, you, me, together on the water. Just never thought it would come so soon. We've had a good run, though, darling. Know that."

The Pearl groaned in sad answer, the deck gently tilting as if to embrace him. His hand glided over her steerage abscently, his thoughts

languishing between his demise and these final moments. He shoved the thought of Elizabeth aside, he didn't want to spoil his last

view of the ocean with a betrayer's face. He didn't want her name to be the last word he spoke. Grimly, he shrugged his coat

over his shoulders, and smiled when he found his cutless embedded in a piece of railing. He worked it free, and slid it back into

his sword belt after a long moment of consideration. He scowled when he felt his bare hair where his hat should have been, but

it was all a trifling matter now.

He did not look up when he felt the Pearl suddenly heave upwards, and did not panic at the violent churning against her hull. He did

swallow harder when he saw the dark shadows of tenticles gloaming from the deep, their perverse grip slowly lacing up her sides.

He heard the Pearl's choaking wood, the slow crack from somewhere below deck, the splintering of wood making their

lightening marks against her black. Those sea-murked arms rose higher, and higher, reaching upwards towards God's heaven,

as if the beast at last could snatch the world itself and drag it down. He heard the Pearl's strangled wince, felt her dying,

and strode to the deck to defend his lady, futile though the gesture was now.

Jack staggered from the erratic tilt of the Pearl, shuddered at the dripping muck landing on her deck, winced when the world

had suddenly fallen silent, and he saw the coils of the sea-beast grow still. He shivered when he saw the monster's eye

glimmering in the water, the color of rot and bilge water, and death. He recoiled when he saw the abyss wide mouth suddenly

unfurling, the dark spiral of its gullet lined with seeking, groping tenticles already coiling around his bootheel to drag him down.

Jack lingered for a moment, lay a tender hand across the Pearl in farewell, and then drew his sword, with a bright, coy


"Hello, beastie." The feral sneer of golden teeth and the cadence of his lilting last words were all that he had left as he

raised his sword high, and flung himself into the abyss. He fell, not into water, but dark, slimed silence, as he saw the

gaping maul of the kraken swallow the sky. Thousands of teeth, gnawing at him, his bones splintering, as he suffocated,

the stench of death in the belly of the beast grinding the last of his breath away as his groping hands sliced away the monster's flesh.

Jack heard the thing squeal and recoil, before he finally surrendered and died.

He had fallen out of existance, his last breath and flesh consumed, and abruptly spewed out into this hated place

of endless sand and delusion. The Pearl, by divine mercy, had somehow drifted across the sandless sea to

wind up, stranded as he was. And the Pearl's mad captain frolicked about her deck, babbling to one of his

imagined crew, and marking eternity's passing with little more than a bit more derrangement. It obviously wasn't

heaven, as there was no God, or rum, but it couldn't be hell with his beloved Pearl being there. So, he waited,

in madness, in sorrow, in anguish, never allowing himself to remember what exactly had transpired in those

horrible moments before his demise.

The day that almost broke him had wound up being the day of his deliverance, however odd rescue had come about.

He had flung a rock in irritation out over the fathomless sand, and smirked to see it skip so far away. When he had

ambled his way in yet another endless circle, and saw that the rock was only inches from where he had first

flung the thing, he reared back in indignant effort, heaved it high and threw.

It was mocking and eerie, how the stone had reappeared inches from his turned back, and he backed away from it,

palms raised in a gentle attempt to shoo the cursed thing away. He tilted his head, debated kicking it, and left it

alone. He did not see the stone crack open, the small pinchers waving as if in welcome, the skewered legs of the

crab emerging from the shell, the eerie click, signaling for her multitude to join her. Ever onward, ever slowly,

the little crustatean was joined by a silent tide of thousands, that emerged from the sand, and swelled underneath

the Pearl, lifting the ship from the wasteland.

Jack heard her groan, and he pivoted, his mouth caught in gaping awe as the Pearl was hefted and rolling through

the endless dunes. He watched, stunned, as the ship began her majestic glide to the distant roar of the ocean,

her sails swelling as his heart lurched in his chest, and he broke into a gleeful run after her.

Her tacklines were dragging in the sand, he snatched one and wormed his way aboard, closing his eyes with

a blissful smile. He dofted his hat, adjusted his belt, hid the shock with a resolute grip on the mast as captain and

ship apparently sailed away from death itself. Jack did not bother himself with pondering the lunacy of the circumstances,

and did not torture himself with doubt. It may have only been a dream, but it was far better than the emptiness of the


"I don't know how this is bloody possible, either, love, but it feels heavenly to be back, aye?"

It was lunacy to watch Jack Sparrow proudly sailing over an ocean of sand, his hand gripping the rigging like a

lover's, his face proud and stern as the Pearl continued her graceful dance to the water's edge.

Jack could not stop the ache in his heart, nor the smirk across his face when he saw the beloved waves,

heavenly cerilian and beckoning him onward. It feels like going home, he mused, but then scowled when the

Pearl halted at the shoreline, and he squinted to see the bewildered faces of his former crew blinking up at him

in disbelief. He gripped a tackline, artfully swung himself downward, landed on the sand without slipping,

drew himself up, and strode onward to meet them.

Gibbs, and young Will Turner were already on him, blathering their scraping pleas. He could not help but smirk to

know that the world had truly gone to hell since he had left it. Was very fitting in a way. Pintel, Ragetti, clinging

to each other like drowning children, Ragetti's wooden eye swinging about in the socket, the good eye filled

with cringing fear. Jack brushed his distaste aside, as it was a very trifling matter compared to his return

from the dead. Ahh, yes, there was Tia Dalma, caressing one of her little pets with a smirk, before she

released it to slink back beneath her skirt. She graced him with a wide, rotted smile, and he nodded to her,

with a glittering show of teeth. "Thank ye, love." She nodded, discretely, let him bury hands in the folds of her

mottled dress and embraced him. "Wicked Jack." She whispered, before she let him go.

"Ahh, yes." Jack chuckled, savoring the reasons as to why she thought him wicked burning warm in memory

but leaving the sordid tale unspoken.


Elizabeth's voice rose high and shrill over the gathering crowd, broke over his heart like a storm as he

forced himself to face her. Unwittingly, his hand rose to his wrist-still bearing the scars of the shackle, as his

fingers dug into the callouses. Elizabeth faltered miserably, as the anguished remorse rose in tears.

Jack had gone tense and rigid under the weight of her eyes, and he looked tortured before he

shrugged off the aftermath with an elaborate hitch of shoulders. His cheeks were splitting wide with

the attempt to keep that indifferent grin on his face as he tilted his head towards her. Elizabeth's breath quickened to nearly a

choke as Jack took a distancing step backwards, that awkward, agonized lurch as his hands groped in the air

and then fell to his sides, helpless.

Unwittingly, he rubbed his wrists, in silent rememberance of being shackled to the had only seen that look

before when he was beneath the noose at Port Royal and waiting to dance the hempen jig.

"You-" Jack jabbed a finger at her, splayed his palm wide as if to push her away, lingering there in that

horrible moment, before something hardened that anguish into well-masked indifferent sarcasm.

" S very good to see you, again, love." Each word felt like a blow in their accusation, as Jack only shook

his head with a disgusted sneer and turned away from her. She wilted with relief when Jack pranced over

to accept the welcoming claps on the back from the crew, and lubricating his way back to the world with well-deserved

swallows of rum.

Elizabeth watched him retreat, and swallowed back the tears.

They had boarded the Pearl with little time wasted, and Jack had only shrugged away the questions and the

answers and the speculations with distractions of some of his more scandelous stories, and vapid

heroics. Lies, or truth, it hardly mattered, since the Pearl had emerged from the abyss and Jack was back

in the land of the living. Elizabeth watched him prance about the deck like a feral cat, bellowing orders,

and witty sarcasm with equal aplomb as he puncuated his return with long sips of rum. He never did

tell any of them what had transpired between them, never hinted that anything was amiss, and treated her

with tolerent, distancing indifference.

Elizabeth was not sure if it was an act of mercy or torture, if Jack was trying to spare Will the pain of what

had happened, or if he was simply relishing her misery. Occasionally, she would venture out a question,

and he would offer a polite, cold snipe in return before he'd simply leave. He was leery of her, treated her

as if she were unclean, only paying token respect because it was far safer and less note-worthy than

dredging up all that had happened and remembering.

Did Jack wonder why she had done it? Or did he truly understand her reason and despised her all the more for it?

Guilt had left her anguished, remorse left her fearful, and hanging over all of it was the knowledge that she

had murdered a man and had nothing to offer for absolution but her own twisted justification.

The deed had festered in her soul, poisoning her actions, lacing them with misdirected anguish. She had

lashed out at Will, cornered him and giving him a scalping until he was tense and teary-eyed against the wall.

He had said nothing, only bowed his head in miserable acceptance, gently shrugged away her hand that pinned his

shoulder within reach of her ire, and apologized, before he bolted away. It was only the latest in a long line of

lover's spats that had decayed to cruelty.

Their love had crumbled to only obligation, and Will was openly questioning their engagement, now. He had accused

her of hiding something from her, something deep that was tearing her apart from within. Why couldn't she just trust

him enough to help her? Did she question his love, did she not want him? The questions were so gentle, and hurt all

the more as Will only lingered long enough to grace her with a token kiss, and leave her in miserable, all too

familiar floundering. Was this what drowning felt like? Was it feeling the breath leave and the onslaught, and

not knowing when or how the relief would come? It was a question she could not answer.

Her thoughts had taken her to the voluteer for the late watch. The promise of the lulling roar of the ocean

beneath the stars promised a bit more solace than watching Will flinch in anticipation for another anguished night.

It was better for her to be alone with her thoughts, anyway. She deserved the torture, and there was no

escaping that.

She did not see Jack non-chalantly lounging on the deck, nor did she see his eyes following her fretting pace.

The stench of guilt lingered in her aftermath like the rancid taste of bilge water. Jack mused abscently,

as he downed another draught of rum and watched Elizabeth's eyes flicker from the churning waves, her hands

figiting, her mouth a tense line of pain. She paced the deck in relentless circles, bowing her head and averting

her eyes whenever she caught his eyes on her. He was as at ease as a cat, languidly watching her, only

shaking his head, in disgust, she assumed. Her fingers knotted into fists that she gathered at the small of

her back as she cast a long look at the dark water. The lull of waves against the bow was serene, the ocean

like glass as she leaned forward against the rigging and wondered if it would cleanse her guilt if she flung

herself headlong into the depths.

She heard his bootheels as he landed on the deck, heard them halt a few feet behind her. She could not

bring herself to turn around as she saw Jack's lithe shadow gliding, the soft clink of beads as he slid his arms

into a casual lounge against the railing.

"Miss Swan." Jack scowled at the flinch of her spine as she stiffened, and turned over her shoulder to peer at him.

"Captain Sparrow." It was a clipped, miserable attempt at indifference as she uneasily watched him. Jack said nothing,

only watched the rolling waves for a long moment, before he turned towards her, offered her a weary, sad smirk.

"You know....there's a vexing bit of business between us that's remained unresolved to my satisfaction, and I believe

that I'm owed a bloody explanation as to why." His soft cadence was mangled by the rancored hurt as his eyes narrowed

to a considering glare. She swallowed hard, shivered, and did not answer because she could not. Jack shook his head,

bitterly, as Elizabeth helplessly flung out pleading hands.

"I'm sorry, Jack." The apology was heaved out from her crushed spirit, offered up with hopeless weariness. "It was the only

way, to save the crew, to save Will! You know that-" Her groping stammerings halted when he lay a finger across her lips,

and shook his head with a sigh.

"Even now, you're attempting to pepper your treachery with the trappings of nobility. 's an act of a diobalical pirate indeed,

to betray your beloved by a kiss, and to murder me for your own doubts. You may cloak the reasons ye cherish all ye

like with these high ideals of delusion and sacrifice, love. I won't stop you. But, we both know the truth behind the treachary

is that your cruel heart was caught by the choice of the freedom and your beloved, and you couldn't face yourself."

Something savage twisted her features, made her snarl, "How dare you!" It was a shrill,anguished cry as she rounded on him,

spitting like a wet cat. "How dare you believe that I betrayed you because I wanted you! It was you that monster was after,

not Will, not me, not the crew, Jack! It was you all along, and you were willing to let us all perish in a pathetic attempt to

save your own neck!"

Jack only shook his head, with a soft chuckle, waved his arms in a wide gesture of scorn. "Is that so, love? Were I so concerned

about preserving me own bloody neck, then why did I come back aboard a sinking ship? 'Twas a moment of cowardly indulgence,

a bit of a moral lapse, if you will. I came back, Elizabeth.T'was you all that did the leaving, but it was you who was responsible for

my demise. Cloud the waters all you wish, dearie, that truth will remain clear, and there's naught to be done about it."

Elizabeth bowed her head, the tears freely gliding down her cheek. "Jack, I'm so sorry, I-"

"Are ye now?"

The question was as casual as it was cruel and Jack did not turn to meet her eyes, though he stiffened, and

inhaled a sharp breath. "Are you sorry, love, or truly sorrowful for what I suffered at your whim? My last breath was hardly a blissful exhalation,

I never got me chance to give a fitting death-bed speech. 'S rather ironic, if you think about it, eh? The last bloody time that Captain

Jack Sparrow gets a chance to grace the world with his pleasant linguistics, and I didn't get it on account of being

eaten alive by said beastie."

Elizabeth shuddered as Jack slowly glided the last few inches between them "Do ye know I didn't drown?"

Elizabeth clapped a hand over her mouth, shook her head, pleading, as Jack's soft words continued like an avalanche.

"It's rather difficult to drown when you've been imobilized by a certain you hadn't so callously shackled me to the mast,

I would have had that chance at least. Granted, drowning seems hardly a pleasant way to die, but I imagine it would hurt minutely less

than being devoured, aye? Twas like a noose around me neck, and then my flesh, and then my bones, as it swallowed me...I suppose

I gave the poor beastie indigestion, because it kept gagging on my foul taste, but it never stopped...devouring me." Jack shuddered,

his eyes closing in anguish for a moment as he drew a long, steadying breath.

And suddenly, the sadness died in his eyes, replaced by something ugly and feral as he leaned over her. She swallowed hard,

tried to choke out his name as she tottered backwards, winced when her spine hit the unyielding wood behind her. She was flush

against him, trapped, and terrified.

His eyes seared into hers, dark and yawning as the abyss of hell as he only tilted his head to the side, lay a palm across her quaking

shoulder and dug fingers into her flesh. She shuddered beneath him, her eyes tearing up in a wordless plea for mercy. Gone was the

casual ease, the humanity. She gulped with anguished realization that she was the one who had stripped Jack of any reason to keep them.

Jack's lip curled in a cruel little sneer as he cupped her cheek, drew his thumb slowly down to her trembling neck.

"Pirate." The word was hissed in her ear, the glittering teeth gloaming in the wanning light as he relished the tear sliding down her cheek, and

the broken squeak of anguish. She felt his hot breath against her icy skin, his hands lingering a moment longer before he abruptly

released her. Jack just shook his head,his eyes burning with some emotion she could not place as he stepped away from her.

"I didn't betray you because I couldn't have you, Jack." Elizabeth's voice was scraped raw from the repressed sobbing and he only looked at her.

"But ye still betrayed me, love. Your reasons can't change that." Jack whispered, sadly, as he regarded her for a long moment. Elizabeth trembled as she

swallowed hard, and forced herself to continue, "I know that I have no right to ask for your forgiveness, Jack."

"Aye. You don't." Jack sneered as she recoiled, but only sighed and shook his head, after he wearily rubbed his eyes and slid his arms over his chest.

"S a debt you can neither square away or repay, love." She wilted at his words as he slipped away from her beseeching eyes. His eyes were narrowing hard

as he halted for another tortured moment. "Do you love him, Elizabeth?" She winced at the question, but she nodded resolutely. Jack considered that answer as

he grimly continued the interrogation, "Then why did you kiss me, you heartless wench? Did ye really think I was so captivated by your feminine wiles that I couldn't resist you?"

She drew herself up, then, rose to meet him, with fire in her eyes and a vicous quirk of lips as she only whispered, "Pirate."

His eyes went cold as he shook his head in understanding. "No, love. A betrayer and a murderer." He shook his head with a soft, mirthless chuckle, his eyes filled with dark promise. He sighed, wagged a finger at her. "I forgive you, if only because ye brought me back the Pearl." She felt his knuckles grace her cheek, felt his hands close over hers, and did not feel his lips against hers as Jack gently shoved her aside and let her go. There was no mirth in his eyes, only wounded resolve and bitter understanding as he whispered, "Careful when you're considering a venture off the edge of the map, love. There be monsters."

And he gave her a glittering, sad smirk."Believe me, dearie, I know that all too well."