A/N: I will warn you up front that this chapter is a little more M than the others. As usual, I'm saddened that I've arrived to the last chapter. This story has been a joy to imagine, research, write, edit, post, etc. I'd like to thank all my readers, especially the ones who left a review. On a side note, the last chapter of The Sparrow's Journey mentions this same day, just closer to the sunrise portion, whereas this story talks about what took place later on after sunset…in case you would like a more complete picture. Again, thank you, and I hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I have writing.
3652 Days After
Jack picked up Cora and sat her on his other leg, the first one growing numb. She let her head fall back on him, exposing each tiny tooth. Bending over her, he kissed her forehead, setting the dozen-times-read tale of Sapia Liccarda back onto the nightstand next to them.
"How many times have we read it just today?"
Cora shrugged, suppressing a yawn. The corner of his eye picked up the final traces of the sun sinking under the horizon. Will would be back on the Flying Dutchman, taking one last look at dry land before leaving it all behind for another ten years, leaving Lizzie and Billy behind.
"I don't suppose I can talk you into going to bed until Mum gets back, eh?" he asked her, his eyes never leaving the cabin windows. Could it really be called hope if he knew he would get it? She'd come back. He'd played out every scenario in his mind, knowing the worst-case one would be her coming back if only for their daughter. His eyes darted back to Cora, knowing if they weren't on her or the windows, they would be on the door, hoping, waiting with bated breath.
"Hello?" Billy repeated, rushing into the cabin, Elizabeth not far behind him. Jack stared at her, unsure if she had cried or not. She stopped at the basin and swallowed into the mirror, closing her eyes and inhaling as she loosed the piled-up sides of her hair and shook them out.
The sound of creaking springs woke her from her introspection, turning away from the mirror to find Billy jumping up onto Cora's bed, rattling off their day. His large brown eyes wide and alert, she smiled.
"…and then Father gave me this." Billy cradled his model ship, encased in a bottle, out, his hand stroking the barrel of it as if it were a pet.
"Now that is a sight," Jack said, inspecting it. Elizabeth's smile grew, watching Jack look it over. "He did tell you how it's done?" Billy nodded. "He's a talented one, your father, to be sure. Used to be, the only thing I thought he was good for was making swords…and getting out of tight spots…and his current occupation, of course."
"What did the two of you do today?" she asked, only moving over to the bed when Cora lifted both her arms in the air for her, mouthing "mum" at her.
"We swam!" she cried out, falling into Elizabeth's lap. "And then Papa gave me this book…" She slipped off the bed to pick the book off the nightstand to show her. "It has all the stories Grandma used to tell him. Right?"
"Almost all of them."
"Mum, there is this girl, Sapia Liccarda, and she had these two sisters, and there were three princes, and part of the story has her making a sugar paste statue of herself! One of the princes stabbed it, though, and he still thought it was her and told it he would suck her blood!"
Elizabeth raised her eyebrow at Jack, who only leaned back and met her stare with a challenging smirk.
"But he was sorry later," Cora continued. "And the book says they 'made their peace in bed.'"
"What did I tell you that meant?" Jack asked before Elizabeth could formulate a word.
"They had a con…contem…Papa?"
"A contemplative discussion," Cora said.
"Like what the two of you have," Billy added in, crossing over to his bed on the other side of the children's cabin, winding his ship-in-a-bottle in a piece of cloth and setting it into his drawer before pulling his nightshirt out of it. "That's like an important discussion, isn't it, Jack?"
"Very important," Jack laughed, Elizabeth bit her lip and shook her head, determined only to nod her head.
"Relax, love. No use worrying if you'll wake them or not. They'll be up all night anyway." Jack sprawled out on their bed, waiting for Elizabeth to comb out the last tangles in her hair before joining him. It fell in golden brown waves almost to her breasts. Arching his back upward, he cleared his throat.
"There's no need to remind me you're not wearing anything, Captain Sparrow. I'm well aware." The haughty tone did not match the softness of her face, Jack noticed, watching her set the comb down and climb up next to him. Running his fingers through her hair as she slid on top of him, his hand glided down her bare back.
Lizzie was not ever one to keep anything from him. She'd told him about seeing Will, spotless and unchanged, the ten years having no effect on him at all. She'd mentioned the surreal realization he was part of another world, that even kissing his cheek and watching him hand-in-hand with his son felt more like being visited by an angel rather than a family reunion. Of course it had made her recall the past, the eventful moments all culminating in their present.
"Missed you was all, love."
He closed his eyes at her kiss, cupping her cheeks, opening his mouth. How stupid he'd been, he thought, remembering the days leading up to his confrontation with Davy Jones, aching for her so much he would have begged for just one kiss, one moment. One was not enough. No amount could ever be enough.
"What all did you tell him?" he whispered in the dark. She lied on his chest, slippery with sweat, her entire body sore.
"Don't tell me that's what you were thinking about while…"
"No, no, not at all." She felt the backs of his fingers on her cheek. "It's a leaping mind at work."
"He knows we married, if that's what you want to know." She dropped down onto the bed and burrowed into the crook of his arm. "So I suppose if the Flying Dutchman surfaces and starts stalking us, it shouldn't come as a shock."
"Took it that badly, did he?"
"No. It was…I can hardly explain it, Jack. At first, it seemed like he already knew. Then it seemed like he was angry about it, jealous. But that only lasted a second. It, it was…I hate to say he didn't seem to care…but he's detached from all this now. He asked when you came to your senses and realized how irreplaceable I am." He shook as he snorted. She could feel his head move against his pillow so that he faced her, the shine of his black eyes the only thing visible to her.
"How do you summarize ten years in one day, Lizzie?" he asked with so much seriousness her lips dried.
"Well." She groped for his hand and laced her fingers through his as she searched for the words. "After I recounted how I rescued the Pearl for you…" She paused, locking eyes with him, effortlessly switching her tone to complete sincerity. "I said how we wasted no time and married that same day before we picked up Billy, how you've been an amazing father to him. I said we had a daughter together, who is growing up beautifully, and that we've had many adventures and travels and hope to have many more." She leaned into him, until she felt the tip of his chin in her hair and the soft skin of his neck on her lips. "But if you'd like me to summarize it further…" She sucked on his neck. "Happiness would be the best one-word summation."
Jack's arms clasped around her, thrusting upward until they sat on the bed together, pressed against one another, legs tangled in the sheets. Heaving her up, he carried her over to the desk and laid her on top of it. His lips on the lines of her stomach, he slithered his way up to her. Her hands on his forearms, her breathing already quickened in the dark, he positioned himself and soon felt the familiar warmth and the familiar gasp that followed it.
The cold wood of the desk on her back only heightened the experience, only accentuated Jack's chest on hers, their heartbeats touching. With trembling fingers, Elizabeth skittered them up his arms until they closed in over his neck, bringing him lower to her. His scent hovered over her, entwining with the ever-present salty aroma of the ocean. Groaning with every motion, she inhaled and took his jawbone in her mouth, her tongue swirling around it, tracing the delicate bone and the sensitive skin just under it. She didn't fight his prying one of her hands off him—could only moan when he pulled away just far enough to hold her wrist and apply the shortest, most tingling kisses to it, almost making love to it.
"Oh, Lizzie," he pleaded, his voice like gravel. "Oh, God, Lizzie, I love you."
The effort it took to bring her head up enough to touch his eclipsed the hot, blissful tears in her eyes. She could feel it, that sensation that she would again be launched into the air, the whole world giving way for her, a paved path to every desire imaginable.
"I love you," she whispered into his ear, their breathing ragged. She clasped onto him tighter, her nails indenting crescent moons into his back. Her eyes lost focus as they began to roll back. She whimpered, writhing under him until her limp body fell against the desk.
He wouldn't have been able to hold out longer even if she hadn't said that, he thought, his forehead on her shoulder, drenched in sweat. The way those luscious lips fell open, those sparkling eyes losing focus, her head thrown back—even in the dark he could see it all, could feel it, hear it, and taste it. With a grunt, Jack stood and took her hands, leading her backwards back to the bed and letting her crash into him. The only energy he had left was being spent on gathering up the sheets anyway.
"I meant it," she sighed, scooting up to face him, so close he can hear the rapid succession of eye blinks.
"Meant it, darling?"
"I love you."
Jack brushed his thumb over her cheek, letting his arm droop down and cradle the back of her head, the soft rocking of the Pearl and his drained body not allowing for much more. After knowing her for eleven years, it still caught him off guard sometimes to instinctively sense her emotions, like the tension now. Perhaps she'd realized he'd been more worried than he should have been? That the utterance of the needless…but nevertheless lovely…words icing on the proverbial cake that was her return?
"You can stay up all night, love, telling me so, but all that'll do is keep us awake for the sunrise…promise of adventure you called it once, eh?" Hearing her tired laugh, he kissed her forehead. "And said sunrise is a new decade, Lizzie. Elizabeth." She always jostles when I call her that, he noted. "Whole new decade with you." Pushing a strand of hair back from her face, he closed his eyes, knowing, no longer hoping, the dawn would catch them together as it always did.