Jack looked up from the map that he had been repeatedly stabbing with his knife. Who dared interrupt Captain Jack Sparrow while he was locked away in his cabin?

"Miss Elizabeth Swann. Fancy seeing yer face 'ere, darling. Though you was all gone and happy with little Mistah Turner."

She just stood there, looking at him. Jack's eyebrows scrunched impreceptibly. What does she want? I'll have whoever's bloody sad skin let her waltz onto the ship! Just because we're docked in Tortuga, doesn't mean we let the questionnable company flow onto the bloody ship! When she still didn't answer his question, his attention shifted entirely to her, and his hand started to smooth the map under his hand unconsciously.

She was looking a lot more haggard than when he had last seen her. After sailing away from her and Will, he though bitterly, he had expected for her to live happily ever after, and for him never expected to see her again. Deep bags under her eyes and sunken cheek bones were a testament to how wrong he had been about the first part, and her presence proved him wrong for the second part. She had gotten thinner, and an aura of harshness had corrupted the once childlike marvel that used to shine in her eyes. No spark lit up those pools of chocolate brown anymore: they looked tired, and expressionless. Jack's curiosity immediately tripled. So she comes to see good ol' Jackie now? I wonder whatever happened to her dear William Turner. I 'ave me doubts that 'e would be lettin her come a-roaming aboard the good old Pearl, unaccompanied nonetheless!

"So where is that young respectable husband of yours, Elizabeth?" He emphasized the "respectable" as spitefully as he could. He had never understood how someone as freedom loving as Elizabeth could settle down with such an old-fashionned man. Something had obviously gone wrong, or she obviously would not have shown up on his doorstep.

"That is none of your business, Jack Sparrow."

"Captain Jack Sparrow to you."

"Well, Captain, that's still none of your business. I've come here to requisition a placement within your crew. I can mend sails, and have been working on various ships for the last little while. I can sail, and read a map."

Jack's eyebrows almost went up. She's been working on SHIPS? So much for the little married paradise! I wonder what dear William had to say about that.

"How long, Lizzie?" The old nickname flowed naturally from his lips. He almost snickered as he saw her cheeks take on a slight flush. She had obviously not forgotten their night on the beach, even though it had been so many years ago...

"Jack, I just want a job."

"And in order to be able to fulfill this desire of yours, I need to have knowledge of any previous employment that you have had, including this "time" on ships that you refer to, darlin'. How 'bout you come sit o'er here on old Jackie's lap and tell him about your adventures?"

"JACK! I will do nothing of the sort." She blushed at his implications. Maybe she wasn't as hardened as her eyes had initially made him believe. There seemed to be some of the famous British prudishness left from her upbringing. He was so lost in his thoughts that it took him a second to understand what she was talking about when she finally answered his question.

"Six years. Almost seven."

"But I only left you for your happily e'er after with dear William Turner seven and a half years ago!"

Elizabeth looked surprised at his outburst. Jack was too. He rarely let anyone see the cards he held, and this uncharacteristic outburst was just showing him that that way of getting under his skin that Lizzie had always had was still there. He was surprised though. He had known that she was not the type to run away from married bliss to join any sort of pirating operation. The fact that she had left Port Royal so soon after he had sailed away made him wonder as to what had happened. He immediately went back to staring at the woman in front of him, drinking in all of the details that he had missed at first.

Small worry wrinkles in her forehead, where none had been before, the tanned colour of her skin, and the defensive pose that she took almost naturally should have alerted him to the fact that something was wrong. She had still not spoken, and was now looking down at the ground, seeming even sadder than before, if possible. He felt his heartstrings, that she alone had ever been able to strum, tug in his chest. Darn chicky, seven years later, an' she still has you, old Jackie, wrapped around 'er bloody finger! But he couldn't really feel any anger at just how much she controlled him.

"Lizzie?" He said it more softly, more like a whisper, like a caress. Something in his voice made her look up at him. He felt his hear jump pathetically when he saw tears shining in her eyes. It seemed like an eternity passed, his eyes trapped in her gaze. Neither moved.

Till Elizabeth bit her lower lip, and lowered her head so that her bangs could cover her eyes. She shook her head angrily.

"Jack, I didn't come here to tell you the story of my life! All I want is employment, and if you cannot give that to me, then I'm going to march right off this ship and will never have to deal with you and your questionable ways ever again! Actually, I'm leaving now."

He had heard her voice crack almost imperceptibly in her last sentence. Captain Jack Sparrow wasn't usually a sweet man, but at that instant, he fellt nothing other than the desire to stop her voice from sounding so little, so sad, so lost. I can't let 'er go back out into dat world. 't won't be far long before she joins a brothel, and gets lost for bloody good. Bloody woman. Always making me feel like I should 'elp her. Drat.

"Lizzie..." He tried again. She had turned around and taken one step, but when he pronounced her name, she immeditely froze. "Lizzie, I think I might just have the occupation that might be suitable for one of your many ... talents."

She whirled around, eyes flashing with anger, cheeks ablaze. Jack just chuckled. Anything better than that broken woman I saw... "Don't worry yourself, love. You're not quite ready ta jump into the Captain's bed quite yet. We'll find ya some decent sailin' clothes, you're ta be our new cabin boy."

"Most certainly not. I know how to work on a ship, Jack! I'm no longer that little - "

" Captain, to you, darling."

"Ugh! I'm no child, I grew up since you last saw me. I know what I'm doing on a ship now. I'm worth more than my keep, Jack, and you can't deny that. At least give me some sort of responsibility! I've changed!"

Jack looked at her, letting the sadness shine through his eyes.

"I know, darling. I know you've changed." He paused, then, as if shaking his head of dark thoughts, continued. "But, this is still my bloody ship, an' if you think that some slip of a girl who thinks she's all high and mighty is going ta tell me what to do on it, then you are quite mistaken, Miss Swann."

Elizabeth stared at him, fuming. "I-"

"I don't particularly care what you are going ta say, little Miss Swann. Now go down to the starboard hold, Ragetti should be swabbing the floors a'ound dere. It'd be mighty fine if you could be of assistance to him, I believe he would... greatly appreciate the enjoyable change in company. Get to, girl!"

Jack smiled as she openly gaped at him. He knew that she was going to accept the position as soon as she whipped around and stalked out of his cabin. At least this way, there's someone ta keep an eye on the bloody woman. She's more trouble than she's worth, but someone's gotta look out for her in dis world... Tis goign ta be an interestin' time ta see just 'ow much she's a changed.

Lost in his thoughts, he stared at the door that she had slammed. He had been wrong. That spark hadn't disappeared. It had changed into a blazing fire, and he wasn't sure if he'd be able to stay away. Interestin' time indeed...