COLLIDE

SUMMARY: It's been a long time since Elizabeth Swann, Pirate King, has needed saving from anyone. But as it turns out, even the Pirate King needs rescuing every once in awhile, especially after losing everything that's important to her.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Jack'n'Lizzie etc. I make no money from the writing of this fan-fic.

SHIP: Sparrabeth—some implications of Willabeth, in friendly terms only, but strongly suited for a Sparrabeth audience

RATING: T

A/N: This is a song-fic, based on "Collide" by Howie Day, though the actual lyrics won't appear until towards the end.

Additionally, this story was gladly written for Erin (aka sweetness328), on the occasion of her birthday! Enjoy this virtual bottle of rum and a pirate-themed birthday cake!


This was hardly how Captain Elizabeth Swann expected things to end. She expected a lot of things, actually… by now, it was no secret to her that the life of a pirate was short, hard and brutish, to say the very least. She always assumed it was quite likely she'd meet her end at the hangman's noose, as so many pirates were in rapid fashion these days. But this was never how she imagined things would be.

She wasn't entirely sure how many days had passed since the Poseidon's Wrath took down the Qingdao Serpent. There was no window in this brig. And she couldn't judge by how she'd been fed—she'd only received one meal of hard-tack, grog and salted pork, all of which were so revolting she couldn't fathom eating a solitary bite. And the smell… the brig smelled as if the Poseidon's last prisoner had slowly rotted to death from the inside out.

Her ship had been a Chinese junk, which she preferred compared to larger vessels like Poseidon's Wrath or even the Black Pearl. Smaller ships meant a shallow draft, which not only made them faster, but allowed escape into shallower seas in which larger ships could not voyage.

On that particular night, however, the wind was to the Serpent's disadvantage. Her crew was vastly outnumbered by the former Spanish galleon, not to mention exhausted from several near misses with the Royal Navy. They were too easy a target and she hated herself for allowing this to happen.

She'd been alone since that night, not spoken to except for the one time she'd been offered a meal (if one could call it that).

Two scenarios kept running through her head. Her crew, most of whom was alive after the brief battle, was closeted away in another part of the ship. This was quite possible, as it was such a large ship, and she wouldn't put it past her captors to try and persuade her men to switch sides. However, she knew the more likely scenario was that they were all dead. That was just the kind of thing Davies was known for.

Nicholas Davies was a monster in human form if there ever was one. His persona made men like Barbossa and Sao Feng look like saints. Once upon a time, he'd been a privateer for the king of England, and quite a favored one at that. He only turned pirate when his thirst for power became insatiable, when he realized that he could get a lot farther in life by bending the rules to his liking. He was to the king what Sir Francis Drake had been to Elizabeth I, an aristocratic kind of pirate, if there was such a thing.

Not only was Davies known for his fine taste in clothing and superior intellect, he was known for his unwavering insensitivity and ability to kill a man, woman or child without batting an eyelash. He had a reputation for holding captives and torturing them for information, then disposing of them once their usefulness had terminated. She supposed that was why she was still alive, though what he wanted her for she had yet to determine.

Elizabeth shifted in her seat against the wall. There was no bench or bunk on which to sit, and so she was left on the cold, damp and unforgivingly hard floor. There were no accoutrements with which to plot an escape. Even if there were, she knew their course to be somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic. There was no place for her to run to.

Jack would have come up with a plan by now, she thought. She squeezed her eyes shut. Stop it. Don't think of him.

It had been two years, one month and sixteen days since she last saw the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow, yet his face was just as familiar in her mind as if she had seen him only a moment ago. He was truly unforgettable, try as she might to prove differently.

Additionally, it had been exactly the same amount of time since she last saw Will. It had been even less since she asked for her freedom.

It was some time after her miscarriage that she could no longer ignore the burning desire to be free, to sail wherever she wanted when she wanted. She agonized over breaking his heart, spending many anguished nights tossing and turning over what was the right thing to do.

Nearly a month passed after the loss of their baby before that she finally arrived at a decision, though it did little to ease her burden of guilt. Just because Will was bound to the Dutchman did not mean she had to be bound to land. She could not, would not waste another day. And she didn't love him… it wasn't fair to either of them to go on pretending otherwise.

When she received a letter back from him, it was hardly the angry retort she was expecting, quite the opposite, in fact. While he confessed that it broke his heart to let her go, he told her it would break even more to keep her as his and have her be unhappy. His only request was that she be there in ten years, if only so he could share her friendship, to which she gratefully and willingly accepted.

From that day on, she vowed she would live every day as her own person. She would never let herself depend on anyone else. She was Lizzie Swann, Pirate King, and that was enough. She bartered a passage to Tortuga. From there she was able to barter another passage to Shipwreck Cove, where she kept Will's heart safe in its chest… it was too dangerous, she deemed, to take it with her. Her title allowed her a ship and a crew, and she'd been building her reputation ever since.

Despite her avid declaration of independence, she still longed for someone, and not just any someone. She could lie to herself and say that a big part of her separation from Will had nothing whatsoever to do with Jack Sparrow, but what was the use? Her ever-developing feelings for the pirate were no longer deniable… this became evident when everything she did came back to him.

She dreamt of him frequently, and when she did, it was typically in a way that would make the old Elizabeth—the naive governor's daughter who wore corsets and went to tea parties—blush and giggle. Then, she chopped it up to lust, as if her one time with Will had awakened something inside her that she couldn't control. But it was more than that, and try as she might to deny it, she knew otherwise. She craved him, craved his scent, his witty banter, that feeling of adventure and absolute freedom she felt only when in his company. And she missed him. Terribly.

Every choice she made was one she thought he might make; after all, who better to base their career on than Jack? He was a man who was miraculously able to run between the raindrops, and if she could have a career half as successful as his, she would consider herself lucky.

"So much for that," she muttered, placing her hands on her flat stomach as it growled with hunger. At this point, she didn't know how long it would be until she was offered another meal. Not that she would accept one from Davies, but the uncertainty of it drove her half-mad. She knew it wouldn't be too long… he was keeping her around for a reason.

She was considering rolling onto her side and trying to get some sleep when somewhere above her, she heard a heavy door open and the narrow passageway that led to her cell was flooded with light. She squinted from the sunlight, which after so much time in the dankness of the brig was like a foreign entity. She looked up only when the shadow of a figure cast itself over her.

"You, Swann," the shadow belonged to a voice that sounded like grit between one's teeth and the voice belonged to a short, stalky individual with thick black hair and a pathetic excuse for a beard. He pulled a set of keys off his belt and began to unlock the cell door. "With us," he grunted. Beside him was a taller, more broad-shouldered individual, who was clearly the strength between the two of them.

"Thank you, but I prefer to stay in my cell." She crossed her arms and legs, glaring at them both before looking away disobediently. Scarcely a moment passed before the larger of the two stomped towards her, roughly grabbed her by the arm and hauled her to her feet. She winced in pain but willed herself to remain silent. She didn't want either of them to have the satisfaction of knowing they'd hurt her.

The colossus that had her by the arm hauled her up the steps and into the harsh daylight, which stung her eyes, making them water. The smaller of the two followed behind, his feet shuffling as he walked. On deck, the Poseidon's crew leered at her and a few hurled lewd comments. One spit at her feet as she walked, to which she pretended not to notice.

She was quickly led to a set of gold-leaf double doors. The smaller individual pushed in front of them and wrapped his knuckles on the wood, to which a smooth "come in" was heard from somewhere inside. He pushed the door open and her captor hauled her inside.

The captain's quarters—at least she assumed they were the captain's quarters—were rich and lavish, hardly comparable to anything she'd seen before. Jack's cabin was expansive in space, yet modestly decorated, and comfortable. This place was nauseating.

Rich, red velvet curtains draped the windows. All the furniture was baroque, with gold leafing on about three-quarters of it. Every inch of the place was covered in some kind of haughty textile, in deep, reds, blues and purples.

Propped up in the far corner of the cabin was a grossly oversized portrait of a man, astride a valiant looking horse. His dirty blonde hair was thick and wavy, cut short and pushed to the side. His eyes were piercing, yet not in the intoxicating sort of way that Jack's were… they were cold and biting, penetrating in the worst possible way. She felt violated by them.

Suddenly, two opulent curtains at her left slid open, and out stepped the man from the portrait—Nicholas Davies, no doubt. He was immaculately dressed, looking more like a lord or a baron than a pirate. A velvet blue cape hung from his shoulders. His boots looked brand new and there was not a stain or a tear in his breeches or blouse.

"The prisoner as ordered, sir," the man holding her arm said.

"Thank you, Master Roberts, Master Giambetti. That will be all."

"Aye, captain," the both said in unison. The larger of the two released her arm and they disappeared from whence they entered. Elizabeth's hand instinctively shot up to where he had held her, gently massaging the sore part of her arm.

"I hope they weren't too rough with you, Miss Swann," he said, untying the gloves that were on his hands and casually placing them on the desk he stood beside.

"Captain Swann," she corrected, her voice cold and unwelcoming.

"Ah, yes." An eerie smile spread across his lips and she scowled, sensing mockery in his tone. "Captain Swann." He sat in his desk chair and motioned to one of the large, high-back armchairs opposite it. "Please, sit."

She narrowed her eyes and ignored him, crossing her arms and staying where she stood. "I've done enough sitting these past few days, thank you."

"My, my," he said, clicking his tongue at her. "We're very cordial, aren't we? Is that any way to speak to your host?"

Some host, she wanted to stay, but she kept her mouth shut. She would not allow herself to add fuel to his fire.

"I assume you have a purpose for me," Elizabeth said. She began to wander around the cabin, eying various trinkets along the way. His bookshelves were filled with a substantial amount of fine literature, in several languages. This man was clearly very intelligent, and outsmarting him would be a great task in itself.

"Well," Davies sighed, "you just come right out with it. I thought I would have to dance you around for hours."

"As if I would ever dance with you," she retorted.

"Now, now," he said. She watched him cautiously as he rose from his chair and strode across the room towards her. "I know you're cross with me."

"No, don't be ridiculous," Elizabeth replied, sarcasm dripping off of every syllable. "Just because you've destroyed my ship, killed my crew and held me captive for days without so much as a decent meal… why would I be cross with you?"

He smiled at her, and again she felt a slight chill rush up her back. He turned around and a small voice inside her head screamed at her to jump on him and bludgeon him with whatever she could get her hands on first. But she forced herself to hold her composure and instead watched him as he went to a small bar near the window and poured himself a drink.

"Can I offer you something, Captain Swann? A drink perhaps?"

"I'll not answer your question until you answer mine," she said, crossing her arms again. "What purpose do you have for me?"

He took a sip of his beverage before speaking. "I've been watching you for some time, now. Surely you must know of your own reputation, your fame and beauty… your power."

"I assume you have a point?" she asked curtly, beginning to feel more than slightly uneasy. She had a vague idea where this conversation was going and she did not like it.

He smiled again, but this time it wasn't the charming smiles he'd previously thrown at her. It was downright scary and she wished she'd kept her mouth shut.

"Every queen needs a king," he said coolly, and she instantly felt sick. She kept her head up, though, and swallowed down hard before speaking again. She wanted him unaware of how this conversation was affecting her.

"Make no mistake, Captain Davies, I am king. I have absolutely no use for you whatsoever."

"I knew you would say something like that."

"You're a smart man. But clearly unfamiliar with the code." She smirked at him then, feeling as if she'd finally gotten the upper hand. "Capturing the Pirate King against her wishes is punishable by death… one of the worst offences amongst our kind."

Davies set his drink down and began to walk towards her. "I am not amongst your kind," his voice resumed its coldness and she was once again secretly terrified. "I stand mistaken. You may be well aware of your power in this world, but your notoriety in the real world is a mystery to you. The Royal Navy is scouring the seas as we speak, looking for you, Captain Elizabeth Swann, bane of their existence."

He took hold of her arm and as he spoke, his grasp got gradually tighter and tighter. His voice had become an icy whisper. "You think you have it all figured out, don't you? Well here's something you don't know, Miss Swann… have you any idea why I've evaded their capture, hmm? It's because I find myself more than willing to assist in the capture of other pirates. A bargain trade, is it not?"

"Perhaps," she whispered back, seething with hatred and fueled by fear. "But what do you suppose they'll do with you once there is no one else left?"

"I am unstoppable," he replied, confidence oozing from his very being. "I will emerge the victor. I will rule the seas."

"Well, if that is the case, I hope to be dead long beforehand."

"So hasty in your decision," he replied, releasing her arm. "You've not yet weighed your options."

"My options are quite clear to me," she told him. "I stay here and accept your marriage proposal—if that is, in fact, what you are proposing… or you turn me over to the British." She paused. "I must admit, Captain Davies, the latter is certainly more appealing."

"Is it?" he asked, leaning against the bookshelf they were standing beside with one arm. "Imagine how it will be. The trial and conviction of Elizabeth Swann, the late Governor and Lady Swann's daughter… swinging from the gallows, for all to sea, disgraced from the high pedestal on which she once stood." He leaned in to her then, again lowering his voice to a steely whisper. "Imagine how ashamed your dead parents would be."

At his mention of her parents, the anger that was simmering inside her came to a raging boil, and she hauled her hand up to slap him. He caught her wrist in mid-air, however, and twisted it violently before forcing her arm down. She could not help but whimper in pain, her breath catching in her throat.

"That's an unwise thing to do, Miss Swann," he informed her. His other hand came up to the jade knot that hung around her neck. He toyed with it carefully, massaging it between his fingers. "Your third option allows me the pleasure of killing you here and now and taking possession of this… your piece of eight." Her eyes shot up to him and she knew then that he knew plenty about the code. It was his blatant disregard for it that was the key. "Then I could take your title without anyone knowing any better… such a tragic story… the Poseidon's Wrath stumbling upon the wreckage of your pathetic little junk… how I tried to save you, but was too late… but not nearly too late, as you passed on your piece of eight and title before your unfortunate death."

"They'll never believe you," she replied, again hissing in pain as he tightened his hold on her.

"Are you so certain?" he asked, his self-assurance infuriating. "It seems to me that the first option is the most favorable." He released her wrist and she instantly brought it up to cradle it in her hand, certain he'd broken it. "Just think of me as the Zephyr to your Chloris."

Hours of study of the classics flashed back in Elizabeth's mind, her childhood seeming so distant now. "You'll remember that Zephyr took Chloris by force," she said coolly, glaring up at him.

He paused. "Your point, Miss Swann?"

She narrowed her eyes further-still, if that were possible, and suppressed the urge to spit at him. "Has anyone ever told you that your ego is uncontrollably large?" She instantly rejoiced in the beet-red color that flushed to his face, delighting in the growth of the veins in his forehead. "And that cape makes you look ridiculous."

In an instant, his large hand flew up and came down to collide against her cheek, hitting her with such force that she flew to the ground, nearly hitting her head on the bookcase as she went. She wanted to cry, wanted to cave in to her absolute terror and fear, but the cabin door swung open and two unfamiliar men came in, providing a happy distraction.

"You will knock, sirs, when you enter your Captain's cabin!" Davies screamed. Elizabeth looked up at him, feeling a trickle of blood from her nose. She brought the back of her hand up to her face to wipe it away, half-wondering how long it would be until Davies finished her off.

"Begging your pardon, sir," one of the young men stammered.

"But there's a ship approachin'," the other one finished.

Elizabeth watched Davies as he forced himself to regain his composure, smoothing his hair with his hand and taking a deep breath.

"Colors?" he asked.

"Black," the stodgier of the two replied.

"Black?" Davies repeated.

"The Black Pearl, capt'n," the other said. "We believe her to be the Black Pearl."

"Men to stations!" Davies quickly ordered. "Take her down!"

"No!" Elizabeth quickly cried, managing what little strength she had to pull herself upright, using the bookcase for support. She was running on pure adrenaline, panicking in the worst possible way, knowing she had to do whatever it took to insure the Pearl's safety. "I'll do what you want. But leave the Black Pearl out of it." Her eyes darted between Davies and his men, frantically waiting for a response.

"Men to stations," Davies repeated. "But hold fire, until I give the word. Invite Captain Barbossa on board."

Elizabeth's heart was racing. She watched helplessly as the two men left her, again, alone with Davies. "Captain Barbossa?" she breathed, the panic in her veins rising with every moment.

"Yes," Davies replied, straightening his clothes. "He's captained the Pearl for nearly two years now. I find myself surprised that you didn't know."

"What happened to Captain Sparrow?" she asked, wiping away more blood from her face and holding back tears at the thought of what could have happened to Jack.

"I could care less. With me." His hand darted out and again took hold of her. He dragged her out on deck, where she could see that the sun was going down. Davies' men all stood at their posts, poised and waiting for their captain to give them orders of attack. An agonizing several moments passed before one of Davies' men informed him that a longboat from the Pearl was approaching.

Elizabeth could see the other ship bobbing in the waters not far away. Just the sight of her tattered, black sails made her ache with yearning. For quite a while, that ship had been her home, and the memories she had of it and its captain—well, previous captain—made something deep inside her long for those days.

Soon, she was made aware of the fact that the Pearl's captain, who had apparently come alone, was being assisted up the side of the ship by the Poseidon's crewmen. At this, Davies took his arm and extended it across Elizabeth's neck, holding her in position. A second passed and she felt the barrel of his pistol jutting into her side.

She closed her eyes, her breathing frantic as she heard Barbossa's boots make contact with the Poseidon's deck. It was Davies' response, however, that forced her eyes to shoot open again.

"Where is Captain Barbossa?!" he yelled. "I requested him specifically!"

A glimmer of euphoric joy and hope coursed through Elizabeth's body. Standing there, not a second changed from when she last saw him, was Jack Sparrow. His hat was on crooked, his two belts fighting with one another for superiority. His hair was in its typical disarray, complete with trinkets and such. He was magnificent and tears sprung in her eyes from the sheer happiness of just seeing him. The only thing that was different was… well, him. He seemed oddly exuberant, as if he was younger and… almost glowing, somehow.

"Haven't the slightest what's happened to dear old Hector," Jack shrugged, his hand going to the hilt of his sword. "Left 'im on an island not more'n two years ago. Haven't seen him since."

"Well," Davies sighed. "I suppose you're an adequate substitute."

"I'll settle for adequate," Jack shrugged nonchalantly, his eyes turning towards Elizabeth and locking on her own. "I've settled for a lot worse."

"I'm sure you have," Davies replied. "But be it known that if your intentions include, in any way, taking down my ship, I'll kill the girl and then destroy you with all the force I have."

Jack shrugged again and Elizabeth suddenly felt concerned, realizing she didn't know what Jack's intentions were. There was a great chance, and he had every right to feel this way, that he was still angry with her for what she did. She expected that sending him to the kraken was more than enough to sever any chances she might have had with him, but she didn't know if it was enough for him to let her die at Davies' hand.

"Kill the girl," he said, sending an instant dagger to her heart. "She killed me once. Least I can do is return the favor."

"What—?"

"Never mind, long story, mate," Jack replied, waving his hand.

"Then what is it you want?" Davies asked. Elizabeth could still feel the pistol jammed against her side, but at this point she cared very little as to whether or not he used it… she had truly lost everything. Both her parents were dead. She'd alienated Will. Jack hated her. Her ship was gone, her crew dead. What was there left to live for?

"Well—"

Before Jack could finish, something that sounded like an underwater explosion filled the air and water shot up everywhere, spraying the deck and all those on it. The Flying Dutchman, in all her undead glory, had sprung from the ocean depths. With the Pearl to the right of the Poseidon and the Dutchman to her left, she was surrounded. Another tiny glimmer of hope awakened somewhere deep inside her as she remembered seeing the oblivion that became the Endeavor those two years ago.

"It seems," Jack continued, "I've changed me mind."

Within seconds, crewmen began appearing from nowhere… from the rails of the ship, the masts, the wheel. There were so many of them and they appeared so suddenly that Davies' crew was left completely unguarded. The Dutchman's crew had taken over the ship, leaving her original crew helpless. Elizabeth heard Davies' breath catch in his throat.

From the mass of men that was suddenly before her, the crowd seemed to part and out stepped Will, his sword drawn and a placid smirk on his face.

"'Ello, William," Jack greeted without even turning around. He pulled his own sword from its sheath and holding it in Davies' direction.

"Jack," Will responded.

"What…" Davies blustered. Elizabeth could feel him practically rippling with anger, though she dared not speak, too terrified of the pistol at her side. "What is this?!"

"A choice," Will informed him. "Your choice, actually."

"It's quite simple, mate," Jack continued. "You hand over the girl, and we will not blow your pretty little ship and all aboard to smithereens, eh?"

"The Dutchman is undefeatable on her own," Will reminded Davies. "And with the Pearl at her side…" Elizabeth smiled when his eyes met hers, great relief beginning to course through her. "…well, you do the math."

Davies was silent for several moments, and though she could not see his face, Elizabeth knew his beady eyes must have been darting back and forth between Will and Jack, desperate for another way out. She knew he'd found one, or at least thought he'd found one, when the grasp around her neck tightened and she saw him aim the pistol at Jack out of the corner of her eye.

"Not a good idea," Jack said, shaking his head. "Neither of us can die."

"You lie!" Davies spat.

"Fountain of Youth," Jack said, shrugging his shoulders. Elizabeth watched out of her peripheral vision as the gun darted in Will's direction.

"Undead," Will replied, just as nonchalantly.

"Now here's how things are going to work," Jack continued. "You give the girl to us. You order your men into the longboats, leavin' yer weapons on board, o'course. You watch from a comfortable distance as we destroy your ship." In a flash, Jack had used his available hand to whip out his own pistol, cocking it with equal dexterity. "Savvy?"

Elizabeth could feel Davies' breath, hot and shallow, on the back of her neck. His grip around her neck briefly tightened before he let go, and suddenly she found herself being shoved in Will's direction. His arm was immediately around her, his available arm still extended towards Davies.

"Into the longboats, men," Davies instructed, his voice flat and understandably less than enthusiastic.

"We'll just wait here 'till yer all settled, then," Jack said, smirking, watching with glee as Davies' men dropped their weapons to the ground and were ushered by Will's crew off the side of the ship. "You alright, Elizabeth?" Elizabeth's eyes shot to him, her entire being softening at his concern for her.

"Yes, fine," she said, her voice nearly cracking. "Fine now."

"Go with Jack," Will said, his voice soft and sweet, as it had always been. "I'll meet you aboard the Pearl in a little while." She smiled and nodded as he disappeared along with his men, the last of the Poseidon's crew forced into her longboats. Jack took her to the rail, where they watched as the helpless bunch began rowing away from the ship.

"Once they're at a safe distance, we'll be on our way," Jack promised. Elizabeth let out a deep sigh of relief, feeling like she might collapse at any moment. Jack, somehow sensing this, weaved his arm around her waist. "Ye sure yer alright, Lizzie-beth?" he asked. She looked to him, tears brimming in her eyes. Jack scowled, staring at her cheek, which was already starting to turn purple. "He hit you."

"Oh, Jack…" Her resolve notwithstanding, she leaned against him, burying her face against his shoulder and crying like she had wanted to for what felt like forever.

"Shh, now, Lizzie, it's alright," he soothed. His uncharacteristic gentleness caught her off-guard and she found herself only crying harder.

"I thought you were going to let him kill me," she sobbed, feeling utterly and helplessly ridiculous. She hadn't cried since her miscarriage.

"That sorry excuse for a human being has had you captive for days and that's what's got you vexed?" Jack asked, holding her forward and drying her tears with his coat sleeve.

Elizabeth couldn't help but laugh at this and she pulled away from him, using her own sleeve to dry away the rest of her tears. "You're right. Silly thing to cry over."

"Yer exhausted is all. Once you're on the Pearl, you can sleep all you need. And we'll get you nice an' fed, too. When's the last time you had a decent meal?" he asked.

"I don't know," she admitted, shaking her head. "I'm not exactly sure how long he's had me."

"Well, it's over now," he assured her, brushing a thick clump of hair out of her face. "Come on, luv. Time to go."

He carefully helped her down the Poseidon's side and got her into the longboat. "Take this," he said, handing her his pistol. "Just in case any one of them tries something they shouldn't," he continued, motioning his head towards the direction that the enemy longboats had headed in.

The rest of the trip back to the Black Pearl was an awkward one. They made small talk the entire way… Jack told her how he'd found the Fountain of Youth, and promised to take her there, if she wished it. Towards the end of their brief journey, he confessed that Will had told them of their separation, and uttered an apology that made her curious.

They reached the ship quickly enough, and once again Jack was there to steady her as they climbed aboard. Once they were within a safe enough distance, she saw Gibbs' head poke over the railing, and he smiled at her.

"Welcome aboard, Captain Turner!" he greeted, giving her his hand and helping her over the side.

"Thank you Mr. Gibbs. It's lovely to see you again," she replied. "But please, Elizabeth will suffice. And it's Swann, not Turner."

Gibbs' eyes looked confused, but he nodded nonetheless before turning to Jack, who was just coming over the side.

"Orders, sir?"

"Fire," Jack said breathlessly. "Fire with all we've got. The Dutchman will follow suit." He turned to Elizabeth. "I take it you'll want to watch this?"

"Yes, very much so," she said, nodding. Despite her exhaustion, she wanted to see the Poseidon's Wrath destroyed.

"Fire! Fire all!" Gibbs shouted. Repeats of his order could be heard from all over the ship and within moments, the Pearl shook and vibrated with cannon fire. True to Jack's word, the Dutchman followed suit and the two ships quickly took her down. Within moments, nothing was left by wreckage. Elizabeth couldn't see over the smoke and fire if any of the Poseidon's longboats had been destroyed, but at this point she didn't rightfully care. She assumed the ocean would take them anyways before they ever made landfall. Poseidon's Wrath, indeed, she thought.

"There, now that that's settled," Jack chimed, a fresh smile on his face. He turned again to Elizabeth. "Off with you. Off to me cabin. There's fresh linens and clothes for you. Shoo."

"What about Will?" she asked, and instantly she saw a little bit of humor leave Jack's eyes. "He said he was coming," she continued softly.

"I'll send him to you when he arrives," Jack promised. "Now go. Get your rest."

She nodded. "Thank you," she said, her voice strained, a sure sign of how exhausted she really was.

"No need for that," Jack replied with a flash of his trademark grin. "Go."

Without the energy required for arguing with Jack Sparrow, she nodded again and headed towards his cabin. She took her time upon entering, reveling in all the things that made it Jack's. It was so unlike Davies' cabin that she found immediate comfort in it. For all its warmth and scent, its collection of mysterious oddities, she loved it, and felt that she could stay within its confines forever and be completely happy.

She let her fingers run over the smooth wood of Jack's desk before turning towards the separate area where his bunk was. It was oversized, as a captain's bunk typically was, and she couldn't help but wonder if it would ever be big enough for him to share with her.

She wandered over to it, seeing the fresh clothes that Jack had promised for her. On some level, she wondered where he'd gotten them, but she supposed it really didn't matter. She had just lifted up the clean, white blouse when she heard a light knock on the door. She quickly emerged from the bedchamber to see the door crack open, Will's head cautiously peering inside. When he spotted her, he smiled, and she couldn't help but smile back. While it was true that she was no longer in love with him, she still loved him very much. He was her oldest and truest friend and she would never forget all that he'd done for her.

He stepped inside and gently closed the door behind him, and she found herself rushing to him, throwing her arms around his neck.

"I'm so glad to see you," she whispered, squeezing him tightly. A part of her, the part that was still the twelve year old girl who spotted him, lost at sea, didn't want to let go.

"I'm glad to see you," he replied. "And I'm glad you're safe." He gave her a light squeeze before letting her go, his eyes saddening at the state she was in. "He's abused you," he noted, instinctively going to wipe away a bit of dry blood above her lip.

"It's fine," she assured him. "It hurts now, but I'll be fine."

Will nodded. "How have you been?" he asked, his own brow furrowing at the validity of his question. "Before this, I mean."

"I've been good," she told him, as honestly and purely as she could.

"You're finally living the life you've always wanted…?" he asked tentatively, phrasing it as more of a statement than a question.

"Yes," she admitted, wary of causing him any more pain. "And you? You've been alright? I worry about you…"

"I've been fine." A comfortable silence fell between them for several long moments before he spoke again. "I don't have much time. I just needed to know you were safe."

"I am. Jack will take care of me."

"He will," Will agreed, before smiling at her. "Not that you need taking care of."

"No, of course not," she said, smiling back.

"I won't say goodbye," he said, backing away towards the door. "It's not really, is it?"

"No," she said, shaking her head. "You'll always be in my heart, Will. And my thoughts."

He nodded, and before she could say another word, he was gone. She immediately felt tears spring up again in her eyes. She had never been particularly sentimental, but Will was a part of her past that could not, nor did she want to, ignore. She turned away from the door, wiping the tears from her eyes. She sniffled when she heard a voice behind her. Startled, she whirled around to see Jack.

"Did he upset you?" he asked, concern written on ever feature of his face. She wasn't used to seeing him behave in such a way, and again it caught her off-guard.

"No, no, of course not. Just old memories," she confessed. "I didn't hear you come in."

"Sorry, habit of being all sneaky an' quiet an' the like," he said, flashing her a sheepish grin. "Just wanted to see how you were. Though you probably wish people would stop askin'."

"No, it's alright," she said, shaking her head.

"Sit down, Lizzie, 'an let me look at you." He was beside her quickly, guiding her to a seat by the large window. She did as she was told, more than overwhelmed and very tired. "What else hurts, hmm?"

"My wrist," she said, wincing from a twinge in her back as she sat down… no doubt from hours of sitting in the Poseidon's unfriendly brig. "I think it may be broken."

"Let's see," he took it in his own hand and she winced again, this time sucking in a sharp breath through her teeth. "Sorry," he said quickly, his dark eyes darting from her hand to her face. "Hurt, not broken. Fortune favors the brave."

"Sometimes."

"More often than not," he disagreed, rising from his crouched stance in front of her. She watched him, consistently fascinated by him, as he went to his desk and carried the heavy chair over to where she sat. He placed it opposite her and sat himself, leaning forward. "You've quite a reputation on yer head."

"I tried to think like you," she admitted.

"No one can think like me," he retorted, flashing her a smirk. "M'Captain Jack Sparrow."

"Of course, how could I forget," she laughed. A silent beat passed as she looked out the window. The ocean was calm and the night dark, the reflection of the moon sparkling on the water. Jack followed her gaze and sighed. She was so stunningly beautiful, even now. Her hair was greasy and unkempt. She hard dark circles under her eyes and an ever-darkening bruise on her cheek. Her clothes were dirty and torn in several places. And she was so absolutely gorgeous that it stunned him.

By this point in his life, he knew that he loved her. He was ardently, hopelessly, carelessly in love with the girl. It took nearly two years of her absence to admit it, at least to himself, but he knew it was true. There was no use denying it anymore. He would hear stories of her, in pubs all around the world and back at Shipwreck Cove, the place of his birth and home of his father, and he would smile. He was so proud of his Lizzie that he could hardly stand it.

When the Flying Dutchman appeared two nights prior, he couldn't think of another person he would rather see less. But when Will appeared on deck, the sheer panic in the boy's eyes said it all. Elizabeth was in danger and a part of Jack flew into a rage. No one, no one, hurts Elizabeth. 'Nuff said.

"You came to my rescue," Elizabeth finally said, tearing Jack away from his thoughts. "Why?"

Jack quickly had to come up with something. He wasn't quite sure if he wanted her to be aware of his feelings for her yet. He chuckled. "To be frightfully honest, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ruffle Davies feathers. Ha! That peacock had it coming."

Elizabeth, once again, felt her heart sinking. So that's what it was. It had nothing to do with her. "He's a monster," she said quietly, not willing to show her disappointment. Another thought crossed her mind, however, and her brow furrowed. "But how did you know where we were?"

Jack felt slightly panicky as he scrambled to come up with a suitable answer. "Well… I… m'Captain Jack Sparrow," he quickly spat out.

Elizabeth's lips curled up into a coy grin and she shifted in her seat. "Sorry, Jack, but you're only allowed to use that once in an evening. How did you know?"

Jack dramatically rolled his eyes and let out another hefty sigh. "Alright, fine. But I wish to establish that I'm tellin' you against me better judgment, so don't get all pushed out of shape if the answer isn't what you were hopin' for."

"Why, Jack," she said, feigning disbelief. "I wasn't aware you possessed better judgment."

"Watch it, missy," he said, "you may be all sickly and weak and the like, but I'm not beyond locking you away in my brig."

"You wouldn't," she replied, altogether unsure as to whether he actually would or not.

"Pirate," he said, grinning at her and twirling the ends of his mustache, just to enhance his point. He took a deep breath, wishing she didn't have to be so clever all the time, and began talking. "A few nights ago, I received a visitor in the form of your dearly beloved. Seems as he was ferryin' souls and whatnot—not exactly sure what his job description entails—he came across a vast lot of men who claimed to be your crew. Well this rightfully got his knickers in a twist and, once again, he came to dear ole Jack in hopes of rescuin' the damsel in distress. Wasn't something I was all for, but he was too pathetic not to indulge. So here we sit."

"Are you telling the truth?" she asked, looking him up and down.

"More or less. But more-so than less-so."

Elizabeth sighed. "So what happens next?" she asked, the gravity of what she'd been through starting to sink in.

"Come now, let's not be stupid," Jack said, causing her head to snap towards him. "You know better than that. Yer welcome here as long as it takes for you to get on your feet again."

What had started as an urge to slap him quickly melted away into total amnesty. He was offering his ship, his home, to her. Once again, he'd come to her rescue. For the first time in a long time she felt truly safe, like she had a haven of warmth and security. In his own way, he gave her what she needed to start over. In his own way, he was her sunrise.

The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You're barely waking
And I'm tangled up in you

"I'll never be able to repay you for this," she said softly, allowing her head to lean back against the chair.

"Nonsense," Jack replied, casually waving his hand in the air. "Yer a pirate, Lizzie, and pirates aren't supposed to worry about payin' people back. Unless it's in a vengeancey kind of way."

Elizabeth laughed, and something inside Jack felt warm. He watched her in silence as she tilted her head back towards the window, looking out at the sea behind them. Just sitting here, reveling in her company, he felt oddly and suddenly compelled to tell her everything, to fall to his knees and confess every feeling he'd ever felt for her.

Nonetheless, there were so many reasons not to; so many doubts and lingering fears that even the great Captain Jack Sparrow could not escape. She was a governor's daughter, he the son of a pirate. She was raised with all the riches that money could buy, whereas he went to bed hungry on more than one occasion in his youth. She was given the best education a young lady of her stature could, whereas he was self-taught, struggling at a young age to teach himself to read. But none of those reasons changed his devotion to her.

He looked up again at her face, which bore a steady mask of calm. Her eyes, however, were sad, no doubt having seen things she never wished to.

I'm open, you're closed
Where I follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face
Light up again

"Tell me what's troubling you, Lizzie," he said, instantly feeling like a fool for asking such a ridiculous question. After what she must have been through, no wonder she was troubled.

"I just…" she sighed. He watched, a piece of him breaking away with sorrow for how she felt as a tear rolled down her blackened cheek. "This is all my fault," she sniffled.

"You listen hear," he said, leaning forward in his chair and placing both hands on either of her knees. "Nicholas Davies is a brute and a bully that no swine would see fit to piss on. He's at fault here, not you."

"I should have been able to stop it," she continued, her voice cracking, shaking her head. "It was my ship. They were my crew, my responsibility. I should have been able to protect them. I should have been able to outrun the Poseidon. It was my mistake."

"Elizabeth," he said again, speaking her name with all the gentleness he could muster. "There was no mistake to be made, luv. So stop taking all this credit where no credit is due. Even Pirate Kings need rescuin' now and then."

Elizabeth smiled, her eyes brightening ever so slightly. "May I confess something?" she asked, her voice still weak.

"Always. I'm a right fine person to be confessin' things to," he chuckled.

She nodded and swallowed before continuing. "I'm glad it was you who rescued me."

He grinned at her. "Our paths are one in the same, luv." He motioned to her and then to himself. "Peas in a pod, remember?"

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find
You and I collide

"Oh, yes," Elizabeth sighed, recalling that night aboard the Dauntless so many nights ago. "Do you think of that night often?" she asked.

Jack sat back a bit, a look of contentment on his face. "The night Barbossa ultimately got what was comin' to him? O'course, luv. Think of that night often. With pride."

Elizabeth smiled. "Not that night."

Jack looked confused, his brow furrowed. "What night, then, Lizzie?"

Elizabeth felt slightly uncomfortable, almost unable and unwilling to let herself go there, but she was… she didn't want to hold back any longer. She didn't want to waste any more time wondering what Jack thought of her.

"That night… on the island. We danced around the fire and drank rum."

Jack laughed before looking up at her, his dark eyes nestling into hers. When he spoke, his voice was quite serious. "Aye. I think of it all the time, luv." She smiled at him, finding his answer both exhilarating and mildly terrifying.

I'm quiet you know
You make a first impression
I've found I'm scared to know I'm always on your mind

"Can I ask you something else?"

"Aye," he agreed, silently wandering if he could allow himself to provide an honest answer.

"What was your run-in with Davies? You speak of him in such a way that suggests you had at least one."

Jack fell silent, sitting back in his chair. He could almost remember the way his flesh burned, the searing pain that coursed through his entire being when Beckett held that brand against his arm. He thought about coming up with a lie, just so he wouldn't have to revisit that part of his past… but he didn't want to. He wanted to be honest with Elizabeth. She made him want to be a better man, as ridiculous as it sounded.

"This here," he said quietly, leaning forward again. He pulled the sleeve back on his shirt and held out his forearm, reminding her of the scar that lay there. "He's the one who sold me out to Beckett."

"Oh, Jack," she said, placing a hand over her mouth. "I'm so sorry. I never meant to bring up such a wretched memory."

"S'no trouble," he told her. "I don't mind sharing it with you."

Elizabeth smiled, truly glad he felt that way. "And what was that you said?" she asked. "About every pirate needing to be rescued now and then?"

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find
You and I collide

Jack smiled. "Truer words were never spoken," he said. He instantly remembered who he was and in a vast effort to restore his status, he sat up straight and cleared his throat, as if reasserting his manliness. "I've only been in need of rescuin' just the once, though. When the lot of you came traipsing into the locker. And if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have been need of rescuin' in the first place."

"We're going to go back there, are we?" Elizabeth laughed. "Well, if you hadn't gambled your soul away to Davy Jones—" She stopped herself when she realized where that sentence was going.

Jack, on the other hand, who was ever-perceptive, somehow knew what she was thinking. "If I hadn't, we wouldn't be sitting here right now."

"You're right," she said softly, unable to tear her gaze from him. "Everything happens—"

"Everything happens the way it happens for a reason," he finished.

Don't stop here
I lost my place
I'm close behind

"So…" Jack cleared his throat again. "Well then, I should leave you to get dressed." She watched, feeling the weight of the moment slip away when he stood up and began to stride towards the door.

"No!" she protested, standing up and steadying her weakening legs by leaning on the chair. Jack stopped where he stood, about halfway across the room, and stared at her, a mix of anxiety and complete seriousness on his face. "You don't get to just…" She paused when he took several steps towards her before stopping again. "You can't just…" He took several more steps. "I wasn't finished…" He took another two steps and was so close to her, she could feel his warm breath against her lips.

"Not finished?" he asked, his voice low and throaty.

"Not finished…" she nodded.

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
You finally find
You and I collide

"You never really answered my question," she whispered, using what courage she had to place her hands on his chest, staring at them instead of finding it in her to look him in the face.

"Oh?" he replied, noticing this and taking his fingers, placing them gingerly under her chin and tilting her head up towards his.

"Well… you explained how you knew about me… you never explained how you found me."

Jack was silent and for a moment she felt his muscles tense, as if he was about to pull away, but he didn't, much to her great relief. She didn't know if she could take it if he left her then.

"You're…" he took a deep breath and swallowed. "…familiar with me compass?"

"Yes," she nodded. "It points to—" She cut herself off when the significance of what he was saying hit her like a ton of bricks. "Oh…" Her heart swelled and once again, she felt that she would cry, though her tears had a very different meaning to them. A sudden feeling of utter peace and completeness swept over her and she felt she could die a very happy woman in his arms at that very moment.

You finally find
You and I collide

"Yes. Oh."

She found herself completely unwilling to keep her distance any longer, and doing perhaps one of the boldest things she had ever done (just shy of killing him, that was), she moved her hands to the back of his neck and brought his head down to hers. Bringing his lips to her own, she felt something go through her, a sudden feeling that her life would never quite be the same… and she couldn't have been more pleased.

When the necessity for air prevented her from continuing, she pulled back, once again allowing her hands to anchor themselves against his chest.

"Oh," Jack repeated, a smirk on his face and a look of adoration and lust in his eyes.

"Oh?" Elizabeth laughed. "Are you going to find yourself capable of saying anything else this evening?"

"Only this," Jack replied, taking a step back but keeping his hands firmly planted on her waist. "Now that you are here, you must find yourself well resigned to co-captaining, for you will never worm your way off this ship or out of my sight again. Savvy?"

You finally find
You and I collide

Elizabeth leaned into him, planting a soft, gentle kiss against his lips. When she pulled back he was smiling at her. His declaration hadn't been a literal one… she knew how to interpret it. In his own, unique, Jack-like way, he was telling her that he loved her.

"Savvy," she whispered, closing her eyes and breathing him in. Jack was her home, and she would never allow herself to be without him again.


A/N: There it is… I hope you all liked it!

Thanks for reading, now please (pretty please?) review!