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The fire and the warm sea breeze had wrung the last bits of damp from her shift, and sitting on a lovely Caribbean beach drinking rum didn't seem like such a bad way to spend her last days. The moonlight was beautiful and at least she wasn't alone.

She turned to look at her companion, and caught him staring back at her with a tilt to his head and a thoughtful look in his dark, kohl-smeared eyes.

"Why do you wear that stuff around your eyes, anyway?" she asked before he had a chance to voice whatever thought was rattling around his sun-addled brain.

"Cuts down the glare, lovey. Don't you like it?"

Actually, she rather did. It made him look that much more exotic, that much more like the pirate that he was. She wondered what Will would look like with black drawn all around his pretty puppy-brown eyes. She couldn't decide if it would make him look more dangerous or just ridiculous. "It's odd-looking," she lied, and took another swig of rum.

He raised an eyebrow at her but didn't try to defend himself. "You're going to have a decision to make if we ever scramble back to civilization, aren't you?"

And wasn't that the last thing she wanted to think about? "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."

"And I'm sure you do. The blacksmith or the commodore, which will it be? The commodore'll give you a fine living, but there's not many a man as finely built as Will Turner. And the spitting image of his father, he is. You've a hard choice before you."

"You knew Will's father?"

The grin he gave her was so dirty it was probably a hanging offense all by itself. "Very well indeed," he slurred, and took a drink of rum.

Elizabeth felt herself flushing, and it certainly wasn't due to the heat of the fire. She'd heard whispers of the varieties of relationships that men beyond the law and civilized mores could form, but she'd never been sure that they weren't just sailors' lies and exaggerations, like so much of what was said of pirates. Of course, Captain Jack Sparrow himself was a liar and a thief, and just because he implied something didn't make it true.

"He was a bit older than your Will when I met him, ‘course, and years in hard weather had roughened him some. But the sun and rain couldn't mar those Turner cheekbones, nor his fine dark eyes. If he hadn't been as handsome at swordplay as he was to look at, the boys never would have stopped chasing him ‘round the decks." He took another drink and saluted her sloppily. "But I beg your pardon, Miss Swann. Such things aren't fit topics of discussion for a lady."

Elizabeth scowled at him over her bottle. She was no fainting English rose; well, out of a corset and with her lungs full of air she wasn't, at any rate. "What was he like?" she asked. "Besides being handsome, I mean."

Jack sighed and gazed into the fire, looking surprisingly sad. "Bill Turner. He was a good man. He turned to piracy only because he hadn't any choice, and I didn't think he'd do too well at it, but he surprised me. He was always surprisin' everyone. Sharp thinker, reliable sailor, a man of his word. I spent many a pleasant evening in the company of Bill Turner, and I don't believe this world will be seeing the likes of him again." Another drink of rum, longer this time, perhaps to drown the memory. "Except in his son, maybe. And if you were looking for my advice, Miss Swann, I'd tell you to scoop the young Turner up, and let the commodore find himself a woman who takes better to a tightly-laced corset."

She snorted a laugh and waved her bottle. "Torture devices. If I spend the rest of my days on this island, at least I'll never have to wear another corset."

"My point exactly," he said with loopy dignity.

More rum, and Elizabeth realized that nearly half her bottle was gone already. She had passed the point of tipsy, sped past lightheaded, and dived directly into unseemly intoxication. The feeling was rather like being cut out of her corset - sudden and all-encompassing relief.

"So, tell me, Captain Jack Sparrow. If my Will were trapped here with you on this lonely island instead of me, would you be chasing him ‘round the decks? Speaking metaphorically?" Her thick tongue tripped over the last word, but Jack didn't seem to notice. He only raised one corner of his mouth in a smirk that sent heat coursing through her, and scooted closer in the sand.

"Well, first I'd offer him copious amounts of rum, as a sign of my hospitality, savvy? And then I'd build us a big fire to make things nice and cosy." He lifted a filthy, bejeweled hand and pushed a lock of her hair away from her face. Her breath caught in her throat, but not as though it had been stolen, rather as if it were waiting for something to release it. "And when he had a good measure of rum in his belly and the beauty of the night had a chance to do its work, I'd probably press my luck. Like this." He kissed her then, so much more tenderly than she expected, and when he pulled back, her breath started again and she felt brand new.

"Then perhaps it's a good thing that I'm between the two of you," she whispered before leaning up for another kiss.

"Aye, Miss Swann, perhaps it is."


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