Elizabeth Turner kissed her son’s forehead. William was sound asleep, or he would have pushed her away. She missed the days when he would put chubby arms around her neck and kiss her cheek with lips still sticky from whatever sweet his ‘uncle’ Jack had brought him most recently, but those were gone, and even though she missed her baby she was proud of the man her son had become.
She hated leaving him, but… She bit her lip and danced out the door.
“How-” she began, but tender lips on hers drove out any thought of talking. She willingly followed her husband outside, curious as to what he wanted. When they had reached the rock on which they always sat, he pulled her close and buried his face in her neck, the way he did when he needed comfort.
“What is it, Will?” she asked him, sliding her hands into his hair.
“I saw Jack today,” he said, not lifting his head. His breath was warm and ticklish against her skin, and she wondered if he had felt her heartbeat speed up.
“Did you speak to him?” she prompted.
She felt him open his mouth like he was going to say more but then a familiar voice rumbled from the shadows and made them both jump.
“Shouted is more like it.”
Elizabeth whirled around.
“Well, if it isn’t Captain Jack Sparrow,” she said, eyeing him warily.
“If it isn’t Captain Elizabeth Swann,” he retorted, looking steadily back at her. Elizabeth only lasted ten seconds before she broke and, laughing, ran towards him. She threw her arms around him in a friendly embrace, and waited until he returned it before letting go. She ignored Will’s shocked glance towards her and gazed fondly at the pirate.
“How are you?” she finally asked.
“Not too badly,” Jack replied with an affectionate grin.
“What on earth is this? Elizabeth?” Will demanded. He sounded angry. Elizabeth couldn’t blame him. Jack was, after all, the main reason he’d spent those ten years at sea, and there was no way he could know what the pirate had done for Elizabeth. Just thinking about it made her catch Jack’s eye, and they both smiled.
“Hard to port!” Elizabeth called to the sailor at the helm. He sent her a brief nod and yanked on the wheel of the Empress. Elizabeth returned her gaze to the ship approaching them. She chewed on her lip and automatically rubbed her hand over her slightly swollen belly. The approaching ship looked hostile, and she didn’t want to risk a battle. They could win, certainly, but she didn’t want to use ammunition she didn’t have to. To her chagrin, the ship followed them.
She couldn’t help but grin and sigh at the same time. She’d somehow picked that up from a certain pirate. She missed Jack. He made her laugh, made her angry, alleviated her boredom. She wondered where he was now.
The ship followed them. It was after nearly two hours of trying to respectfully get out of their way that she finally gave in.
“Turn her about and prepare to fight!” she shouted. “Hoist the colors and run out the guns!”
She made her way to the helm. She wanted to watch from here. Men scrambled about following her orders, and the ship was ready by the time the other vessel came within firing range. But there was a white flag, and then, after a moment, the ship set sail in the opposite direction.
Elizabeth leaned forward, trying to figure out why on earth the opposition would spend hours chasing her down and then surrender once they came close. Her curiosity was satisfied when she caught sight of a little boat floating towards her, carrying two very unhappy looking men.
“Bring them aboard!” Elizabeth called to the crew. The men were accordingly hauled up onto the deck, along with a curiously large bag. She pushed forward to meet them. “Captain Jack Sparrow and Mr. Joshamee Gibbs,” she said, leaning against the railing. “What a surprise.” She raised her eyebrows to show that it really wasn’t.
“Yes, I can imagine,” Jack said. “The thought of anyone capturing me and then wanting rid of me…”
“I’m just surprised that they let you escape to a friendly ship,” she said, “instead of sticking a sword in you. That’s what I would have done, if I were them.” Gibbs fidgeted, looking worried, and Elizabeth sighed. “However, I am not, and I will let you stay aboard – if you’ll tell me what you’re carrying.”
Gibbs looked relieved. Jack looked offended.
“I can take care of meself!” he said defensively. “And I’ll have you know that I was not a prisoner, as you so graciously assumed, but was simply a passenger. Gibbs was the prisoner. Fortunately for him, I was there to save his sorry hide.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and stepped closer, her eyes drawn to the large bag. “What’s in the bag, Jack?” she asked, reaching down to open it.
“Ah!” Jack grabbed her wrist. Leaning down to whisper in her ear, he said, “That’s private personal business, not meant for crews’ eyes, savvy?” It was only when Elizabeth nodded that he let go.
She’d been very interested in the fleet of ships in bottles, and had spent the rest of her pregnancy helping Jack.
And then he’d spent the rest of his life until now helping her.
He’d been there for the birth of young William. He’d looked distinctly uncomfortable, mind, but he’d been there. He’d stayed with her in Port Royal until she was well enough to care for William on her own. She’d heard him singing to the lad when he thought she was asleep, and he’d spent hours rocking the baby, just because he could.
When he did eventually leave, he still ended up visiting every few months, bringing all kinds of gifts for both her and her ‘whelpling,’ as he called William.
He’d kept her safe, healthy, and fed.
He’d been one of her only friends.
Jack looked rather anxious as Elizabeth finished her narrative. Will looked rather subdued by this news. Elizabeth winced when she thought of the blow that this must have dealt to his pride. He’d been unable to care for her and young William, and that had always bothered him. The fact that there was nothing he could have done did nothing, and the fact that Jack, someone he’d always viewed as somewhat of a rival, had done what he could not had to hurt.
After a moment of silence, Will stood up straighter and said, “It seems I owe you a debt of gratitude, Jack. Th-thank you for taking care of my wife and son while I was… unable.”
Jack was undeniably touched, Elizabeth could tell. He had evidently not expected thanks for his deeds.
“No worries, mate,” he said with a gold glinted grin. “It was the least I could do.”
Jack ended up staying for a week. William had been delighted to see him, and Jack had produced gift after gift for the boy. Will and the pirate had somehow grown closer than Elizabeth would ever have believed possible. And at the end of the week, when Jack left, she leaned into Will’s embrace.
“Did you know Jack from a long time ago?” William asked his father.
“Yes,” Will said softly. He pulled Elizabeth a little closer and looked down at their son. “He’s an old friend.”
Elizabeth sighed contentedly.
She had her husband, and her son, and a very old friend.
What more could she need?