Singapore 4

"But isn't he healed now?" Elizabeth asked, confused by the Chinese woman's words. She had been so happy that she had managed to do the impossible, to heal him, and now that mood was spoiled by those eight short words.

"Healing be … complex. No fast, easy." Chai explained with a wave of her pale hand. "We do more tomorrow. You sleep now."

Elizabeth watched as the two Chinese Twins rose to their feet smoothly, one of them collecting the empty tea cup, tray and the colored crystals. Then without a further word, the two left the captain's cabin and vanished from sight. Alone with James now, she sat still for a moment staring at the empty doorway. Then the cold breeze blowing against her back brought her to reality. She would have to do something about that, now. Stifling a yawn, for the healing seemed to have taken a lot out of her; she slowly rose to her feet and turned to study the problem. Even in just the light from the flickering lanterns, she could see how big the hole was and she had no idea how it could possibly be patched. But it was clear she couldn't leave it like that, not with James injured. It was letting in way too much cold air and he would freeze.

Recalling the pile of Sao Feng's clothes she had pawed through to find the magic rock, she went over to them and scooped them up into her arms. Dumping them onto the floor near James, she spread each piece over his body in an attempt to keep him warm. It was nowhere near perfect, but for the moment it would have to do.

Then she turned and walked out onto deck. The air was much cooler out here and she wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt to keep warm. The night sky was clear and was ablaze with thousands of twinkling stars. Elizabeth stared up at them for a long moment, thinking they looked very much like the swirling dots of light she saw behind her closed eye lids. Were the specks of light inside her eyelids really stars or were they something else entirely? Besides, how could she see anything with her eyes closed? She wished that Mei and Chai knew better English so she could ask her questions and get better answers, not the short sentences they were using.

Looking around, she spotted an Asian man on watch and approached him, hoping he knew English. He heard her coming, even though she trod the deck lightly, and turned to face her, doing an odd little bow to show respect. "I need my cabin fixed. Now."

He shrugged to show he had no idea what she had said.

Elizabeth sighed. She had half expected this problem and so she waved her fingers in a "come with me" motion, hoping he would understand that. He seemed to get the idea and followed her into the cabin, where she pointed at the gaping hole. She watched realization dawn in his dark eyes and he nodded, running off to shout some strange words in whatever language he spoke. Within moments rough looking Asian pirates swarmed the area at the back of the cabin and they covered the hole with a folded piece of sail. They did their little bows to her and then fled back to wherever they had been before she had disturbed them. It wasn't perfect but it blocked the wind and made the room more livable.

Yawning loudly and really feeling the exhaustion now, Elizabeth lowered herself to the floor next to James. She inched closer, suddenly feeling shy about what she was going to do. It was odd, really, as generally she had no problem speaking her mind or breaking rules. Perhaps it was because she thought her father would not approve? He had always stressed the fact that she was to get married before she did anything with a man and that certainly included sleeping with him. But James was unconscious and she needed to keep him warm. Surely her father would understand? It wasn't like she had a choice, really. She had never noticed it before, but the lack of a fireplace or any heating element was very obvious at the moment. How did sailors keep themselves warm in these cold waters?

Elizabeth inched closer, rolling over onto her side so that she was facing him. She shifted about until she was right up against his side and carefully placed her arm across his wide chest, her head near his shoulder. It was very intimate and the most forbidden thing she had ever done in a way and she had no idea how she would explain it to James should he suddenly wake up. She would tell him the truth, of course, but what would he think of her? What if he got the wrong idea? She tried to push the worries out of her mind and thought she never would be able to, but her sleepiness took care of it. Her anxieties about the improperness of it all were soon forgotten and she snuggled closer to him, her head finding its way to his shoulder.

Hmmmm….this is nice…

The stray thought floated through her brain and she realized it was true. It was almost like a little preview of what being married to James would be like, but of course it wouldn't be so easy. But she was too far gone to worry about the future now. It would wait for another day.

And just like that she fell asleep.

Her dreams were jumbled and made no sense, bits from here and there mixing together in a confused mess. She was on a ship, sailing and they came upon the waterfall at World's End to only end up in Tia Dalma's hut in the tropical swamp. Even asleep Elizabeth sensed the wrongness of it and instantly realized she was dreaming, something she had never known before. The nature of the dream changed then and she found herself more in control somehow.

The dream grew more peaceful then with her sailing aboard the Pearl. She stood at the railing, her hair blowing in the warm breeze. The simple sensation felt good. She turned and found James at her side. Not the scruffy downtrodden James she had rescued in Tortuga or the stiff upper lip Commodore, but something in between. His powdered wig was gone, replaced by his real brown hair that was now long and tied in a neat ponytail with a black ribbon. He wore a white shirt similar to his now ruined navy shirt, a waistcoat over it. The confidence was still there in his green eyes and his posture, but he seemed more relaxed as well. She knew his words would come more carefree instead of the formal address, which she of course preferred. It was very hard to get to know someone if they were formal and aloof all of the time.

But was this a mere fantasy or could it be reality?

James had spent a good portion of his life chasing and hanging pirates. He had stooped to piracy of a sort once, stealing Davy Jones' Heart from Jack, but that had been to get his old life back. But then he had chosen death on the Dutchman instead of coming with her onto the Empress.

He just couldn't accept being a pirate.

That and he was suicidal to boot. He had shown her that on more than one occasion. And if it weren't for the magic stone and the Chinese Twin's knowledge, he would be dead.

The dream Elizabeth dismissed her worries and wrapped her arms around James' waist, her head resting against his firm chest. For now she would enjoy the dream as reality would come soon enough and the problems with it.

The dream faded away as she drifted off into a deeper sleep. Time passed without her knowing it and hours later she woke up. She blinked her eyes sleepily, not really aware of where she was yet. Her fingers moved across a warm and slightly hairy surface, a surface that moved up and down steadily and that felt suspiciously like skin. Then the memories of the previous day came flooding back into her mind with a sudden rush and her brown eyes flew wide open.

Her gaze fell on a green pair of eyes that was watching her intently.

Bloody pirates! James had caught her sleeping with him! That healing rock must have worked better than she had thought, as he was clearly awake. Of course, she was thankful that he was recovering from the awful wound, but couldn't he have waited a few more minutes to wake up so she could put a proper distance between them? No, of course not: he was probably used to waking up with the first light from being in the Navy while she preferred sleeping late.

She felt the heat rise up into her face and she yanked her hand off of his bare chest, even though she had secretly enjoyed touching it just now. She sat up, trying to ignore her embarrassment as best she could. Her body felt incredibly stiff, most likely from sleeping on the hard floor. She rubbed at her right arm, the one she had against the floor, and tried to get the feeling back into it again. Worst yet, the numerous coverings she had piled on top of him had fallen off during the night and she could see his bare chest again. "Are you feeling better?"

"Would you care to explain the situation?" James asked as his green eyes never left hers. She could see confusion in them as well as something else. And were the corners of his mouth turned up just a bit? Did he find the circumstances humorous? "Shouldn't I be … dead?"

"We rescued you off of the Dutchman." Elizabeth explained as she tried to talk off her nervousness. She was sure he would not approve of their nap together, even if it had been done for noble reasons like keeping him alive. "We're on the Empress, sailing towards Shipwreck Cove. I'm not sure when we'll reach it exactly…anyway, there are two Chinese women on the ship and they helped me heal you."

"Elizabeth, I was run through…I really doubt if that sort of wound can be healed…" James informed her as the horrible memory passed through his mind. "Such wounds are always fatal."

"Well, you're not dying." Elizabeth boldly stuck out her hand and laid it on his bare stomach in the spot where the ugly gash used to be. Her fingers met smooth skin and a part of her was still amazed that she was the one that had healed him like this. "See? The wound is gone."

"Gone?" James lifted his head and stared down across the wide expanse of his chest to where her hand rested on his bare belly. At the sight of the undamaged skin, his mouth dropped open in utter shock. "How is this possible?"

"Oh, there's some magic rock…" Elizabeth explained as she realized that she was unsure how much to voice to him. What would he think of the strange stuff? Even she was unsure what to think of it truthfully, she was just grateful that it worked. "Chai and Mei told me how to use it and I healed you, but you probably shouldn't move around too much as they said you're not totally healed yet."

"You healed me?" James voice had an odd tone to it, as if he couldn't believe her words.

"Yes. I know it's hard to believe. I have a hard time accepting it, too." Elizabeth admitted as she slowly pulled her hand off of his stomach, her fingernails gently scraping across his skin. She thought she saw his muscles tremor a little at the touch, but surely it was her imagination. "We had to remove your shirt and stuff to heal you, of course. And well, it was freezing in here last night and there's no fireplace…"

"I wouldn't mind waking up like this every day, truthfully…" James admitted as the corners of his mouth turned up a bit more and there was a twinkle in his green eyes. "Perhaps I should get sick more often…"

Was he teasing her or flirting? James? She couldn't believe it! Did he receive a conk on the head as well? No matter the cause, his words made her blush. And it was becoming pretty obvious he was not the cool, unemotional statue she had mistaken him for before all of this trouble started. He clearly had feelings hidden behind that cool formal mask he usually wore and now for whatever reason he was letting some of them out. Maybe he felt more relaxed because of the intimate setting?

"I'm a Pirate Lord now, you know…" She informed him, her chin sticking up in the air slightly. She didn't have any choice in the matter. It was life or death and she didn't want to die. And now, like it or not, James was with them. She didn't know if he could accept being a pirate though. He had tried it once before and had quit, running back to the life he knew.

"Yes, I suppose you are." James replied sounding a bit sad, but then seemed to brighten. "But you've never actually gone pirating, on a raid, have you? This has been forced on you."

"No, of course not, I'm just trying to stay alive." Elizabeth thought back to her ill fated wedding day and how Will had appeared in manacles and chains, how the warrants had been read out. She had been shocked, of course. And since that day she had been running, trying to stay one step ahead of the law and Lord Beckett. "But some pirates are good people."

James smiled at her words, as if he was humoring her and knew that it wasn't really true. "You still think Sparrow is a good man, even after he lied to you?"

"Jack sacrificed himself so we could get away from the kraken. Otherwise all of us would have been killed that day. He did the noble and heroic thing, going down with his ship." Elizabeth's brown eyes flashed as she defended Jack. She felt a little bit guilty about leaving out the part she had played in that, but that was in the past. They had gone to the Locker and had rescued Jack. All was well again.

"Sparrow did that?"

"Yes, he did. And then we went to the Locker to rescue him."

One dark brow rose. "The Locker?"

"Yes, it's a real place and I've been there." Elizabeth watched James face, pondering if he believed her or not. "It's where I saw my father and so I know he's dead."

"I am truly sorry about that. I did not know." James repeated his words of earlier, his face showing sorrow. "I had not thought that Lord Beckett would lie to me, but serving the east India Trading Company is not the Navy I had loved. I should have suspected that he was dirty after all of the people he had hung, including mere children."

"Yes, he is just awful and only cares about profit." Elizabeth really hated that the man had stolen her father away from her. Her father had been a good man, a just and fare governor. He didn't deserve to die like that. Just thinking about it made her eyes mist and she sniffed. "You're the only one I have now…"

"But…" A confused expression appeared on his face. "What about Turner?"

"Will and I grew apart." She admitted as she gazed down at the floor, spotting the magic rock and picking it up. "He only cares about rescuing his father and has forgotten me."

"But what of his promise to care and devote his life to you?" James recalled the remark he had made to Turner very clearly and how the younger man had agreed. It was one of the reasons he had stepped on the side, so Elizabeth could be happy. He had put her happiness above his own, even if it had left him depressed, heartbroken and suicidal. And now to hear that Turner had broken his promise so carelessly, it truly angered him.

"It seems words come cheaply when you have pirate blood." She exclaimed as she turned the rock around in her hands. It looked like an ordinary rock, one that had the little sparkles inside it, but ordinary still the same. She had seen others like it before. How could it have such powers?

Elizabeth squeaked in surprise as James wrapped his arms about her and suddenly pulled her down alongside him. It must have pained him to sit up like that and grab her, for the area around his lips was white and his breathing was a bit off, faster. "I will not leave you, Elizabeth. I promise."

"Even if I'm a pirate?"

"Even if you're a pirate."

TBC…