Home Media Fan Section Quizzes Biographies Links Site Extra

POTC 3: Barbossa's Revenge
by pirateoftherings

Summary: Ten years have passed since the first encounter with Captain Barbossa. The Turner family is growing, but the same cannot be said for Will and Elizabeth's mariage. When Elizabeth is kidnapped, though, Will immediately sets out to save her...

Note: It's best to read POTC 2 by pirateoftherings before reading the following fanfic.

Chapter 1

“Another round of drinks, mates?” Rose asked the pirates sitting in the corner.

“Yes, please,” Blackbird replied.

The young barmaid quickly refilled the mug. “Cap’n Sparrow’s not with ye again tonight?” she asked. “Haven’t seen him ‘round for ‘bout a week.”

“He said he had some business to attend to,” Blackbird said off-handedly.

Rose started to refill Will’s mug as well, but he stopped her. “No more for me tonight, Rose. I’m in enough trouble with Elizabeth as it is.”

“I’d say,” the girl replied lightly. “It’s near midnight already.”

Will swore angrily under his breath. “I promised her I’d be home early tonight! I’m sorry, Blackbird, but I’ve got to get home right now,” he said, pulling on his coat and throwing a few coins on the table.

Will slowed his pace slightly when he realized that Blackbird was following. When he shot her a questioning glance, she just shrugged. “It’s on my way tonight,” she explained.

“You’re not just coming to watch the fight?” he asked, only half-joking.

“Well, that’s always a bonus,” she replied.

As they got nearer the house, Will motioned for Blackbird to be quiet. He gently opened the door and slipped inside silently. So far so good…now, if only…He turned the corner and his hopes vanished. Elizabeth was sitting at the kitchen table waiting on him.

“You’re home late,” she said quietly.

“I know, I know,” he replied wearily. “I’m sorry, I really did mean-”

“That’s what you said last night, and the night before, and the night before that, and every night for the past month. You always mean to get home early, Will, but you never do.”

“We started talking about the upcoming journey, and before I knew it, it was midnight,” Will said. “I promise I’ll be home extra early tomorrow, Elizabeth. You have my word.”

Elizabeth gave him a strange look. “I’m not sure I can trust your word any more, Will,” she said, starting to get emotional. “All you seem to care about right now is being a pirate. It‘s beginning to take priority over your job as a blacksmith…over your family…even over me.”

“That’s not true!” Will said angrily. “You and Marie mean the world to me! How could you-”

“Do we, Will?” Elizabeth interrupted. “Can you look me in the eye and honestly tell me that you would give up anything to be with me?”

Will sighed and closed his eyes for a minute. “It’s late, Elizabeth, and I’m not sober enough for this conversation. Anyway, you need your sleep so the baby will be healthy,” he said, briefly placing his hand on her round belly. “I’m going to bed.”

“Did Blackbird walk here with you?” she asked suddenly.

“Yeah, but I bet she’s already left. Why?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing. I’ll be back there in a minute,” Elizabeth replied. Will started to say something but thought better of it and just nodded. As soon as he has disappeared into their bedroom, Elizabeth went over to the window and looked outside…no Blackbird. Putting out the single candle that illuminated the kitchen, she started back to their room. She and Blackbird would have a little talk in the morning.

______________________________________________________________________

Chapter 2

Will finished pounding the metal straight and wiped his forehead on his sleeve. Hanging his hammer in its place, he turned back to Blackbird, who had been sitting on a barrel waiting on him.

“Finally done?” she asked.

“Yeah, just a minute…Ghost!” he called out. After a few minutes, the young man emerged out of the back room. “I want you to finish up this order before you leave, and then you’re free to go. I have some business to attend to on my way home.”

“Aye, sir,” Ghost replied, smiling enthusiastically. Will found that he couldn’t help but smile back. The boy still had the same zeal he’d had the first day Will had taken him on as an apprentice. Grabbing his hat, he motioned to Blackbird and followed her out the door.

* * *

“So Jack said he’d meet us at my house, right?” Will asked as soon as they were on the street.

Blackbird nodded. “Last time we spoke, that’s what he said,” she replied. “But then again, you never know with Jack. Not to worry though, Marie and I will do just fine on our own if he doesn’t.”

Will laughed. “I hate to say this, but somehow I think Elizabeth trusts Jack with her child more than you. Of course, she won’t let him watch her on his own either…Maybe she’s hoping that the two of you together might be enough to be the equivalent of one sane adult.”

“I resent that!” Blackbird said, feigning a hurt. “I know you love her, Will, but I swear that woman hates me. Does she even know that I’m taking care of Marie while the two of you are out?”

“Well, considering that she doesn’t even know we’re going out yet, I doubt it,” he replied, stopping momentarily to grab some flowers off of an unwatched stand. “Anyway, what she doesn’t know can’t hurt me.” After a few minutes of silence, Will spoke up again. “I really do appreciate you watching Marie tonight, Blackbird. Elizabeth and I haven’t had a night alone in ages.”

Blackbird arched an eyebrow at him. “And whose fault would that be, mate?” she asked mildly.

“Not you too…” Will groaned.

“Hey, I’m just saying,” Blackbird said defensively. “You could spend a little less time at the tavern and a little more with your family. Not that I know anything about this subject; it just seems like it to me.”

Will sighed. “How pathetic is this that I’m receiving relationship advice from my sister, who, might I add, has never even been in a serious relationship herself? I can handle this. It’s just a matter of…Blackbird?” he asked suddenly. When she didn’t say anything, he followed her gaze to his house. The door had been kicked in and one of the windows had been forced open. Numbly, he stepped inside and looked around at the disarray. Most of the furniture has been turned over and the curtains slashed. Broken dishes in the kitchen showed obvious signs of struggle.

“Elizabeth?!” he called out. “Marie?!” He heard a sound like someone crying coming from the loft upstairs. Hurriedly, he climbed up the ladder and came back down with his crying daughter in his arms. “Marie!” he exclaimed, kissing her forehead in relief. “What happened here?”

The girl cried for several minutes before she could speak. “Th-they took her!” she screamed hysterically. “They took Mama!:

“Shh…” Will whispered soothingly, stroking her dark hair. “It’s going to be alright…just take deep breaths…it’s going to be alright…” After a few minutes, she seemed to calm down a bit. Keeping himself at her level, Will looked her straight in the eyes. “Now,” he said quietly, “I need you to tell me what happened.”

Still sobbing gently, Marie tried to explain. “I-I was helping Mama cook dinner,” she started haltingly. “Someone knocked at the door, but Mama wouldn’t answer it, so they kicked it down. Sh-she told me to get upstairs as fast as I could and not to look back. One of the men hit her on the back of the head, then carried her away…I wanted to stop them, Daddy, but I was so scared!” At that, she burst into crying again, burying her face in her father’s shoulder. Will held her comfortingly, a blank look on his face. Blackbird, who had been pacing around the room silently, handed Will a scrap of paper she’d found on the table. Scrawled in barely-legible handwriting was a simple note:

“I have your wife, and I will not hesitate to kill her. If you want to see her alive, you and Captain Sparrow will be at Isla de Muerta in no less than a week. You ruined my family, Mr. Turner. I will not hesitate to do the same to yours. Revenge is sweet.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 3

Elizabeth slowly sat up and rubbed the back of her head. Where was she? Staring out into the darkness that surrounded her, she struggled to recall what had happened. Someone had knocked at the door, then kicked it down. The last thing she remember was yelling for Marie to run. Marie. This thought brought on a whole new set of concerns. Had she escaped? Would she find Will? Was she alive? Elizabeth wearily leaned back against a wall, surprised to feel bars instead. She was in some kind of cell, and judging by the rocking she now noticed, it was somewhere on a ship.

She was startled by the door creaking open and a faint candle partially illuminating the brig. Someone walked in, but held the candle low enough that the light didn’t reach their face. “Ah, glad to see you’re finally awake, Mrs. Turner,” a chilling voice said. Elizabeth shuddered…where had she heard that voice before? “I hope you’ve had a most enjoyable trip so far,” the speaker continued. “No? Well, I’m terribly sorry, but we couldn’t have ye makin’ a fuss during our departure.”

“Who are you?” Elizabeth whispered, half to herself.

The man laughed coldly. “All in good time, my dear,” he said. “Until then, let’s just say I’m a friend of an enemy.” Still laughing, he turned to leave.

“My husband will not let you get away with this!” she shouted after him.

He stopped and slowly turned around. “I’m sure he won’t, Elizabeth. In fact, I’m countin’ on it. Sweet dreams, Mrs. Turner!” The door slammed shut behind him, leaving Elizabeth in the dark once again.

Frightened, Elizabeth curled up into one corner of the cell. “Please hurry, Will,” she whispered. “Please hurry.”

* * *

Blackbird sat up straight in her bed, knife drawn. Sighing, she wiped the sweat off her forehead and shook off the nightmare. It was just a dream, she told herself firmly. Glancing out the window, she saw that the first rays of light were already peeking over the horizon. She muttered something under her breath and grabbed her hat off the table. Not even pausing to acknowledge the confused bartender, she rushed out of the tavern and headed for the docks.

In her haste to be on time, she nearly knocked over Will. “Sorry,” she muttered.

“Why the hurry?” Will asked.

“I overslept,” Blackbird said with a shrug. “And you know how I am about punctuality. How‘s Marie doing?” she suddenly asked.

“She’s her usual cheery self,” he replied. “I’m not sure the seriousness of this has completely sunk in. Right now she‘s ‘helping’ Joe in the galley.”

“And what about you?” she asked, studying her brother. “How are you holding up?”

Will sighed. “My wife’s been kidnapped by some madman obsessed with revenge over something I don’t even know about. How do you think I’m holding up?” he asked sarcastically. “I just don’t want anything to happen to her.”

“Then what d’ye say we get going, aye?” Jack said, coming up and putting a hand on Will’s shoulder. When they had showed Jack the note, he had been reluctant to comply. Eventually, though, he had agreed and rounded up as much of the crew as could come on such short notice.

“Thank you, Jack,” Will said with a smile. “I know you didn’t want to do this.”

“Nonsense!” Jack replied. “I was needing a bit of adventure anyway, mate. Now get on deck, you slackards! We have us a girl to save.” Rolling her eyes at Jack’s dramatics, Blackbird complied, followed by Will.

As the Black Pearl set sail, Will stood leaning against the rail and staring out at the sea. Reading the note again, he crumpled it in his fist. I’m coming Elizabeth, he vowed silently. I’m coming.

* * *

“Careful, lass, not too much,” Joe warned as he reached out to steady Marie’s hand. “There we go…Thank ye very much, Marie. You’ve been quite a help ‘round ‘ere. Ever consider a future in cookin’?”

Marie shook her head. “Nope,” she replied seriously.

“Well then might I ask what does interest ye?” Joe asked with an amused look on his face.

“I wanna be a pirate, just like Daddy!” she said, smiling brightly.

“We’ll see what your mother has to say about that,” Will said from behind her, scooping her up into his arms. “It already kills her that I let you run around in pants all the time. Between the two of us, I think she’s afraid you’ll turn out like your Aunt Blackbird.”

“I heard that, Will!” Blackbird said, punching his arm roughly. “Actually, I’m flattered that I’m so high on Elizabeth’s list. It means I’m doing something right…”

“That’s enough, Blackbird,” Will warned.

She smiled sweetly and tried to look innocent. “What did I say?”

Shaking his head, Will turned his attention back to Marie. “What ever you do, Marie, do not grow up to be like your aunt.” This time Blackbird didn’t say anything and pretended to be suddenly transfixed with the mug of coffee she was drinking. Will suddenly stood up at the sound of a shrill whistle. “Time to go,” he muttered. He set Marie back down on the stool and looked her in the eyes. “Sweetheart, I have to work for the next couple hours, but I’ll be right back as soon as I can. Do you think you can stay out of mischief until I’m done?”

“Of course, Daddy,” she promised sweetly. “You won’t even know I’m here.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Will muttered as he left.

* * *

“Will!” Gibbs said, shaking Will out of deep thought.

He stood up from the line he’d been tying down and straightened his back. “Aye?”

“You may be interested to see what that lass o’ yours is doin’,” Gibbs replied, pointing up into the rigging on the opposite side of the ship. Sure enough, there was Marie, scrambling up the ropes like a little monkey. Even as he pulled himself up to get her, Will had to admit that she was a natural at it. He quickly caught up with her and positioned himself so that she couldn’t climb any further.

“And just what do you think you’re doing up here?” he asked.

“Climbing,” she replied obviously, trying to get past him.

“I can see that. Might I ask why you’re climbing?”

The girl grinned mischievously. “I wanna be a pirate, just like you!”

Will laughed slightly. “Well to do that, you’re going to have to survive your childhood. Do you think stunts like this help your chances any? What if you’d gotten hurt?” Marie just pouted and avoided looking at him. Sighing, he wrapped his arm firmly around her tiny waist. “Come on,” he said, softening his voice a bit. “Let’s get you down.”

Using his free arm to climb, Will slowly made his way back down. As soon as they were off the ropes, he set Marie down gently on the deck. “Now,” he said, kneeling to keep her at eye level. “Can you promise me you’ll be good for the rest of the watch? I have to work, and so does everyone else. I promise in a few hours we’ll do something together.”

“Yes, Daddy,” the girl agreed sulkily.

He stroked her wavy hair and smiled. “That’s my girl. Why don’t you go see if Aunt Blackbird has any jobs for you? I’m sure she could use some help.” Marie’s face lit up as she ran over to Blackbird and began excitedly asking questions without waiting for answers.

Blackbird shot him a murderous glare and did her best to answer a few of the questions. In response, Will just waved and turned back to his work. Blackbird deserved some quality time with Marie, anyway.

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 4

Elizabeth stared into the timeless dark of the brig. She wondered how long she’d been down there; it felt like years. The door banged open again and a tall, dark figure filled most of the doorway. “The Captain wants you to join him in his cabin,” he said in a deep voice, unlocking the door with the heavy keys he carried. When Elizabeth hesitated, the man grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulled her out. “I don’t have all day, wench,” he growled, forcing her to come with him. As they made their way across the deck, mildly curious faces looked up at them, and Elizabeth found some of them strangely familiar. The tall pirate opened up the door to the captain’s quarters and roughly threw her in. “I got the girl,” he muttered, turning to leave.

The captain stood staring out the window. “You’ll have to excuse Bo’sun, milady,” he said, not bothering to turn around. “We pirates are not known for our manners.”

“Why have you brought me here?” Elizabeth asked, struggling to stand.

“All in good time, luv. Are ye hungry?” he asked suddenly. He gestured to a plate of food sitting on his desk. “You’re welcome to help yeself.” Hesitantly, Elizabeth agreed. The pirates had given her one meal a day for the past several days, and she was starving. As she ate, the captain stood watching her. In the better light, Elizabeth could see that his straw-colored hair was short and pulled into a ponytail. Icy blue eyes followed every bite of food to her mouth. She wouldn’t have guessed that he was much older than Will, but there was a certain weariness in those eyes that aged him significantly. “We’ll be reaching our destination shortly, Mrs. Turner,” he said, breaking the silence.

“And where is that?” she asked cautiously.

The captain smiled, revealing yellow, decaying teeth. “Isla de Muerta. Are you familiar with it?”

Elizabeth tried to hide her surprise. “No,” she lied. “Where is it?”

“You asked why I brought you here,” he said, ignoring her question. “Let me tell ye a little story, luv. My father was a pirate, just like I am now. Bloody good one, too. He didn’t tell anyone about my mother and I, but he sent money and visited when he could. Then, when I was but thirteen, he comes home and tells us that something has happened, and that he couldn’t be with us anymore. When I asked, he said he’d tell me when I was older and to look after my mother. Never saw him again, but I got word when I was about twenty-five that he’d been killed.”

“That must’ve been hard for you…”

“I wasn’t finished!” he said angrily. “Y’know who killed him, Mrs. Turner? It was that bloody husband o’ yours, and his friend Jack Sparrow. I have no doubt that they will come to rescue you. But when they do, milady, I will be waiting, and I will have my revenge.”

* * *

Jack stared at the steaming plate of food sitting on the edge of his desk. I’m not hungry, he told himself firmly, even as his stomach growled in argument. Forcing himself to look down at the maps he was studying, he repeated it over and over. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry. I’m not…His eyes fell on the plate again. Finally, against his better judgment, he grabbed the small loaf of bread and took a bite, only to spit it back onto the plate immediately in disgust. It’s bloody useless, he thought to himself angrily. Pausing to make sure that nobody was coming, he quickly unlatched his window and scraped the food into the ocean below. Satisfied, he turned back to his work.

“What was that about?” Blackbird asked from the doorway. “Joe’s cooking isn’t that bad.”

“I’m not hungry,” he muttered, not looking up at her.

Blackbird cocked her head and sat down in the chair across from his desk. “Really? Because as I remember it, you weren’t hungry this afternoon, or this morning, or last night. Is something the matter, Jack?”

“It’s none of your business,” he replied irritably. “Now leave. I have some work I need to do.”

Ignoring the dismissal, Blackbird persisted. “Jack, as your first mate, I’m entitled to know what’s going on.”

“Sounds kinda like what Barbossa said right before he stole my ship,” Jack pointed out, pretending to still be completely absorbed in the map in front of him.

“Then as a friend,” Blackbird insisted. “Jack, I’m really concerned about you.”

“Same here,” Will added, coming in from the hallway. “At least tell us part of it.”

Jack sighed and folded up the map. He started to say something, then stopped. Finally, he tried again, “I’ve known, or at least suspected, that we’d have some kind of trouble involving the cursed treasure since about a week before Elizabeth disappeared.”

Will frowned. “I’m not sure I follow,” he said. “What made you suspect that?”

“Let’s just say I’ve had certain…clues,” Jack replied hesitantly. He stepped over to his window and looked up at the sky.

Blackbird shifted her weight impatiently. “Like…?”

Jack waited a few moments until the clouds parted again. The full moon cast silvery beams of light in through the window, and as they hit Jack, his form became skeletal. “Like that.”

Will could only stare. “Then you mean…”

“I don’t know,” Jack said plainly, stepping away from the window. “I can only guess that someone found the treasure. I seem to remember hearing that if a single piece is removed, the curse affects any who were previously cursed as well. That would be me, and any of Barbossa’s crew that survived. I can’t imagine who would actually want to be cursed, though.”

“Someone who knows their only shot at revenge is to be immortal,” Blackbird pointed out. “Think about the note. Whoever wrote it is evidently holding a grudge of some kind against the two of you. What if they know they can’t win the fight ordinarily?”

“That would make sense…” Jack mused. “Well, that should be enough information to satisfy even a Turner. I really do have some work to do, so if you’d be so kind as to leave…”

Blackbird rolled her eyes. “We’re going,” she muttered. Grabbing Will by the sleeve, she started to walk out of the room. “Come on, Will.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 5

Blackbird searched the darkness around her, searching for any movement. Someone laughed coldly. She knew that voice. Suddenly, a figure emerged out of the darkness. Menacing yellow eyes stared malevolently at her. “Barbossa,” she whispered, uttering the name like a curse.

“The one and only,” he replied, smiling sinisterly.

“You died,” she said in disbelief.

“Aye, a most unpleasant experience, that,” Barbossa said. “But enough about me. How are ye, Miss Turner? You know, I find your little situation quite amusing. Blackbird Turner, the woman who eluded me for ten years, is now willingly going to face my son, and not even for herself!”

“I have my own reasons,” Blackbird replied angrily.

Barbossa laughed. “So ye say, Miss Turner, so ye say. Y’know, I had so much fun killing your father. I hope my son enjoys killing you equally as much.” Blackbird had had enough. She lunged angrily at Barbossa, only pass right through. She winced as her left shoulder slammed against a hard surface. Still laughing, Barbossa slowly disappeared into the dark.

_________

“Blackbird,” Will said, grabbing her shoulder to shake her awake. She winced in pain and shot him a dark look as she sat up and got out of her hammock. “Sorry,” he apologized. “I forgot that was your bad shoulder. Is it hurting again?”

Blackbird shook her head. “It’s just a bruise,” she said dismissively, heading up the stairs. Wait, why did she have a bruise? Was it possible…No, she told herself firmly. It was just a dream…Wasn’t it?

The Black Pearl was enveloped in a dense fog so thick that everyone’s clothing was soaked. “This fog is the first sign we’re nearing Isla de Muerta,” Will commented as they leaned again the rail. “It shouldn’t be more than a few hours now.”

“I know,” Blackbird said. “I’ve been here before.”

“When?” Will asked in surprise.

“Shortly after your little adventure with Barbossa,” she explained. “Jack wanted to get his hands on some of the uncursed treasure, so off we went. I explored most of the caves while we were there. There’s a passage that branches off of the room where the gold is, and it would seem like a good place to keep prisoners. That’s where I’d look for Elizabeth, if I were you.”

Will just nodded absently and stared out into the fog. “You know I don’t expect you to come with us,” he said after a while. “You reserve every right to stay at the ship if you want.”

Blackbird shot him and incredulous look. “And miss all the fun?” she asked. “I’m not that crazy!”

“Had me fooled,” he muttered under his breath.

“Hey!” she exclaimed, hitting him roughly on the arm. A strange look came over her face as she grew more serious. “I’m a lot more involved in this than you know, Will. I have my own motivation to come.”

Will cocked his head questioningly at her. “And what would that be?” he asked curiously.

“Not right now,” she muttered, shaking her head. “Maybe some other time.” She turned and walked away so quickly that Will could only stare after her and wonder. What wasn’t she telling him?

_________

Elizabeth looked around as they slowly rowed through the cave. Other than a few obvious transactions by Jack, it looked just as it had ten years ago. Hands bound, she was lead through a series of winding passages until they came to the cavernous room where the gold was located. From there they went through a narrow fissure in the far wall that lead to a winding path. When they finally reached the small room, Elizabeth was ready to collapse from all the walking after being on the sea for days. A guard was posted at the end of the tunnel, but other than that she was alone. Resting her hands lightly on her stomach, she thought of the baby that was due at any time. What would happen if Will didn’t get there in time? Would their child survive?

_________

Will hurriedly prepared the rowboat to lower it into the water. “What are you doing, Daddy?” Marie asked, curiously peering into the boat.

“I’m getting ready to go into the cave,” he replied, double-checking everything.

“Can I come?” she pleaded.

Will smiled and gently pushed her hair out of her face. “Not this time, love,” he said. “You need to stay here where Aunt Blackbird can keep an eye on you. I won’t be very long.”

“And who says I’m staying here?” Blackbird interjected, putting a foot firmly on the rope he was untying.

“We already had this conversation, Blackbird,” Will groaned. “This is my fight. I appreciate your concern, but I need to do this alone. The only reason Jack’s coming is because he’s the captain and can order things like that.”

“For crying out loud, this isn’t all about bloody you!” she exclaimed in exasperation. “I’ve already told you I have my own reasons for coming. Jack, you understand, right?” she pleaded, turning to the captain.

Jack shrugged. “He’s right, luv,” he replied quietly. “I need someone to stay behind and guard the Pearl. I know this is going to be hard for you, but stay here this time. If we’re not out in an hour, leave.” Blackbird nodded sullenly; she couldn’t defy a direct order. Jack smiled grimly. “That’s a good lass,” he whispered. “Would you mind lowering us down?” Obligingly, Blackbird gently lowered the boat into the water and watched them row away. The second they had disappeared into the fog, she let the other boat down, careful not to make a sound.

“Just where do ye think yer goin’, lass?” Gibbs asked, stopping her.

“Not right now, Gibbs,” she muttered crossly. “They’re going to need me in there; I can sense it. I know something that they don’t.”

“Cap’n Jack said you were to stay here,” the pirate replied doubtfully.

“Well, then Cap’n Jack should know me better than that,” she said, starting to climb down to the boat. “If we’re not out in an hour, get out of here.”

Gibbs started to argue, but thought better of it and simply nodded. “Good luck.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 6

Will and Jack moved silently through the caves, alert to any sound. “It’s too quiet,” Will whispered. “Surely we didn’t beat them here?”

Jack shook his head. “Impossible. They had a two-day head start. It’s far more likely that we’re walking into a trap,” he replied cheerfully.

“That makes me feel better,” Will muttered.

As they reached the main part of the cave, they were startled by a voice. “Leave it to you two to take the long way around,” Blackbird said, leaning casually against the wall.

“Blackbird!” Will hissed. “What are you doing here?”

“I just have a feeling that I’m more needed here than on the ship,” she replied.

Will shrugged. “I guess you might as well help since you’re here,” he said. “Where’s that room you were talking about?”

Blackbird grinned. “I knew you’d come to your senses. It’s-”

“Mr. Turner, glad to see you could make it,” a cold voice interrupted. “And Captain Sparrow, I see you managed to make time in your busy schedule to pay us a visit. So kind of you.” They turned to face the speaker. Jack blinked in surprise. He had first thought the man was Barbossa himself, but soon realized that he was much younger. As Blackbird turned around, their opponent’s cruel expression faltered for a moment. “Raven?” he asked in shock.

“Nathan,” Blackbird replied emotionlessly. “I’d hoped you might be dead by now.”

“Missed you too, luv,” he muttered before regaining his composure. “Mr. Turner, I regret to inform you that I cannot return your wife to you. The crew and I have grown quite fond of her, and we’ve decided that we’d rather keep her for ourselves. Not that she’d want to go back with you anyway…”

Will drew his sword angrily. “Over my dead body,” he said fiercely.

The young Captain Barbossa smiled coldly. “That can be arranged,” he said, snapping his fingers. His entire crew emerged from the shadows, swords drawn, and surrounded the three.

“Like I said, trap,” Jack muttered under his breath.

“Will, go find Elizabeth,” Blackbird whispered. “Jack and I will take care of the other guys.”

Will hesitated, then slowly edged his way toward the chest of gold, which gave him a straight shot at the narrow passage. Only Jack noticed as his hand flicked backward before he took off running.

The pirates could only stare after him in surprise as he disappeared into the tunnel. “What are ye waitin’ for?” Barbossa shouted. “After ‘im!” Several men ran after Will while the rest stayed to watch Blackbird and Jack.

“Think you can take them?” Blackbird muttered.

“And leave you to fight Barbossa?” Jack asked incredulously. “He’ll kill you!”

Blackbird smiled grimly and drew her sword. “No, I don’t think he will.” As she turned to face her opponent, Jack glimpsed something metallic tucked into her belt. He groaned to himself, trying to hide his annoyance. She didn’t…

“It’s been a while, Nathan,” she said, slowly approaching the young Barbossa.

“Ten years, luv,” he replied, keeping one wary eye on Jack. “Miss me?”

Blackbird gritted her teeth. “You have no idea…” she muttered, lunging at him suddenly with her sword.

Barbossa blocked the blow easily and grinned savagely. “So be it.”

----------

Elizabeth was sleeping uneasily when a cold hand slipped over her mouth. She started to scream, but was silenced by a familiar voice. “Elizabeth,” Will whispered gently.

“Will!” she said in surprise, kissing him passionately. “I knew you’d come for me!”

He surprised her by pulling away from the kiss. “Come on, we have to hurry,” he said, helping her up. “Is the baby alright?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Where’s Marie?”

“Back on the ship,” Will said. He motioned for her to follow him. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they reached the main cave, Will took in everything in one sweeping glance. Jack was keeping off most of the men while Blackbird took on Barbossa alone. She seemed to be doing well, but he could tell she was tiring. “Elizabeth, do you know the way out?” he asked quietly as they stopped in the shadows against the wall. She nodded. “I want you to get out of here as fast as you can. There should be two rowboats at the edge of the water.”

“What about you?” she asked in concern.

Will started to say something, but changed his mind. “I’ll be fine,” he said plainly. “Now go!”

----------

Blackbird blocked another powerful blow and retaliated. “Very good, Raven,” Nathan sneered. “Too bad you didn’t fight like this ten years ago. Maybe I’d’ve kept ye.” He unleashed a series of blows so fast that it took every ounce of Blackbird’s concentration to keep up.

“I’d rather have died,” she replied angrily. He took advantage of her distraction and feinted a blow to her left, only to reverse and manage to scratch her right arm. Furious, Blackbird lashed out with her left foot, knocking him to the ground. Barbossa desperately flung a handful of dirt and rocks at her in an attempt to gain time. As Blackbird involuntarily shielded her eyes, he pulled out his pistol and fired.

Blackbird stared down at the hole in her chest, seemingly in shock. Nathan smiled triumphantly. “You know, I’d rather hoped you’d be harder to kill than that,” he taunted.

Slowly, Blackbird stepped forward into a shaft of moonlight, revealing a skeletal form. “Well, I’d terribly hate to disappoint you, mate,” she said grimly.

Nathan looked from Blackbird to Jack to Will. Grinning, he slowly stood up. “Y’know, I was just gonna kill the three of ye, but I think an eternity of cursed existence suits my purpose much better.” Still grinning, he and his crew slowly disappeared into the darkness surrounding them.

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 7

“Mr. Gibbs, just five more minutes!” Elizabeth pleaded.

Gibbs shook his head stubbornly. “Cap’n said straight up dawn, Miz Turner, not five after. Prepare to set sail!”

“Please!” she continued to protest. “My husband is in there!”

“I understand ye situation, Elizabeth,” he replied with a sigh. “But I take orders from Jack, not you.”

“Wait!” someone shouted. “Here they come now!” Elizabeth peered off into the distance and could just make out a small boat rowing through the fog. As the three climbed up onto the ship, something in their expressions told her that something had gone horribly wrong.

Nobody spoke for several minutes. Jack quietly asked Gibbs if they’d seen any ships leave, to which Gibbs shook his head. Sighing, he retreated wordlessly to his cabin.

As the ship moved slowly through the fog once more, Will leaned again the side rail and stared out at the fog. He was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he almost didn’t notice as Elizabeth joined him wordlessly and gently placed a hand on his arm. “Will, what’s the matter?” she finally murmured, breaking the silence.

Will’s gaze remained on the fog. “Barbossa got away,” he said plainly. Elizabeth just nodded, though she didn’t understand. She knew Will would say more if she didn’t prod. The sharp sound of Will’s fist hitting the wooden railing startled her. “I was an idiot,” he muttered angrily. “A bloody idiot.”

Elizabeth looked over at him curiously. “What are you talking about, Will?” she asked, even more confused. Will sighed and handed her the coin he’d been fingering. She studied it and recognized it to be a piece of the Aztec gold. “You mean you…” Her eyes grew wide as she began to understand. “Why?”

Will shrugged. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “Maybe I didn’t want to die. We didn’t expect Barbossa to disappear like he did. It was supposed to be short-lived.”

Elizabeth just shook her head. “I don’t understand how you could do this to us, Will,” she said quietly. “Do you realize what kind of situation it puts me and Marie in? We don’t have any place on a pirate ship.” She immediately regretted her words when she saw the look on his face. Without meaning to, she had just deeply hurt him.

“I did it for you,” he muttered, turning away abruptly and climbing up into the rigging before she could stop him.

----------

Blackbird was already up in the crow’s nest when Will pulled himself up onto the platform. Blackbird shot him a sideways glance and went back to her own thoughts. Will was silently grateful for the gesture. Over the years, it had become his place for thinking and sorting out emotions, which was exactly what he needed now.

They had sat in silence for over half an hour when Will finally got enough courage to ask the question that had been bothering him since they had left the cave. “Blackbird?” he asked quietly. She grunted a reply that meant she was listening. “You should know by now that I wouldn’t ask you to give more information than you’re comfortable giving, but something’s been bothering me…How does Barbossa know you? And why do you hate him so much?”

Blackbird sighed and seemed to ignore his question. Will had almost given up on getting any answer at all when she spoke up. “Will, have you ever wondered where I was when you and Jack set out after the Pearl?”

Will shrugged. “It’s crossed my mind,” he replied mildly. “I guess I always figured you were just off on your own business at the time. But what does that have to do with Barbossa?”

“I’ve always prided myself in being single. Many a time I’ve bragged that no man can tame Blackbird Turner. But there was one who did. Yes, Will,” she said, seeing the look on his face, “Nathan was my husband. We met in Tortuga when I was only eighteen, but I was sure I loved him, and that he loved me. I even ‘settled down’ once we got married. We bought a house, he got a real job, and we tried to start a family. Everything went great for the first year or so. Then something changed in him. He started drinking more frequently, then he got in the habit of coming home drunk every night. I tried to ignore it, telling myself that it was only natural for his old pirate tendencies to die just as hard as mine had, but I realize now I only hurt myself in forgiving him. Eventually the drinking led to more serious problems, like seeking more “pleasurable company”. At first he tried to hide it, but he got to the point that he began bringing his mistresses into our home with me there. When I confronted him, he would go into a fit of rage and accuse me of ruining his life and ridding him of any freedom he’d ever had.” She shook her head. “Thinking back on it, I don’t know how I put up with him that long…Anyway, one night, after an excessive amount of drinking, he kicked me out for good, and I didn’t dare go back. I made my way back to Tortuga and convinced Jack to let me back on the crew. Basically, I just started over and tried to forget him.”

Will looked at Blackbird for a while before speaking. He found it hard to believe that a woman as independent as Blackbird would even put up with that kind of treatment, but he also knew firsthand what love could do to a person. “He didn’t realize that you were Bootstrap’s daughter?” he finally asked.

“I don’t know,” Blackbird replied with a shrug. “It never really came up. I personally didn’t find out his family history until a few years after we were…separated.” She smiled wryly and added, “Guess I got out of that family just in time... How did Elizabeth take it?”

“Take what?” Will asked, trying to feign ignorance. Over the years, he had gotten used to the bumpy pattern of conversation with Blackbird and her sudden subject changes.

“You know exactly what I mean, Will Turner, don’t even try to fool me,” she said, hitting his arm lightly.

Will sighed and rested his head in his hands. “She got angry; I left,” he said shortly. “She doesn’t seem to understand that I was faced with running down a narrow tunnel, while my back was turned to thirty men carrying loaded guns. The chances of getting to her alive were minimal at best. Obviously if I had thought for even a second that Barbossa would get away like that, I wouldn’t have taken the chance. Does she honestly think this is enjoyable for me?”

“I doubt it. She knows your motives, I think, but it’s just the initial shock of it all. Just wait until tonight,” she said, grinning mischievously.

“I think I’ll advise that she stay below deck at night,” Will replied mildly. “Has Jack even explained to the rest of the crew what’s going on?”

Blackbird shrugged. “Yeah, but that won’t stop any stares. It wouldn’t be so bad,” she continued, “if I could just get good and drunk.”

Will laughed and glanced up at the sky. “I think I’ll head down,” he said, edging himself off the platform. “The fog’s starting to thin, and it’s getting late.”

“I think I’ll stay up here a bit longer,” Blackbird said. “Maybe with the thinned fog I can catch a glimpse of Nathan’s ship. They had to get there somehow, and they can’t be too far ahead of us.”

“Suit yourself.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 8

Will took a deep breath and knocked on the door to Elizabeth’s cabin. They hadn’t spoken a word to each other since their last argument, and it was getting to him. “Elizabeth?” he called out when she didn’t answer.

After a few seconds, she slowly opened the door. “Will!” she said in surprise. “Is something the matter?”

“We need to talk,” he replied heavily. “Is Marie in there?”

Elizabeth nodded and turned around. “Marie, I never thought I’d say this, but go stay with your Aunt Blackbird for a while. Your father and I need to talk about something.”

As the girl hurried the cabin, Will sat down in a chair that occupied the corner. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the curse,” he began hesitantly. “I guess I didn’t know how you’d respond to it.”

“It’s not entirely your fault, Will,” Elizabeth admitted. “I was worried, so I overreacted. I just wish you had told me sooner. You’ve been too secretive lately.”

“Is that what’s all about?” Will asked. “Me not telling you every little aspect of my life?”

“No,” she assured him. “It’s about you being out late every night. It’s about you putting your job before your family. I’m worried about you, Will. Piracy is taking over your life…just like it did your father.”

“I am not like my father!” Will said more fiercely than he’d meant to. “I would never leave you, not for all the money in the world!”

“But is it so much better for you to live in both worlds? A father and husband, as well as a pirate? You give half of yourself to both lives, which subtracts from your ability to do either one!”

Will ran his hands through his hair in exasperation. “Are you asking me to give up piracy, Elizabeth? If that’s really what you want, I’ll do it.”

“No, Will!” she insisted. “I just ask that you fulfill both responsibilities. Go out with Jack and Blackbird to discuss business, and get home on time. Go on a raid with the crew, and spend time with your children. Have fun with your friends, and come home sober enough to kiss me goodnight before you collapse! If you’re going to be a pirate, Will, I just ask you to be a father and husband, too. I doubt you even know the significance of the day that I was kidnapped!”

Will stood up from the chair and headed for the door. Before he left, he set a small black box on the table and muttered, “It was our anniversary.”

Elizabeth watched tearfully as Will strode out of the room. She heard movement in the hallway and called out sharply, “Blackbird Turner, were you listening?”

Blackbird turned around and hesitantly stepped in the door. “I heard raised voices…” she started to explain. Elizabeth almost had to laugh at how repentant she looked. It was the first time she’d ever seen Blackbird truly sorry.

“I guess you got what you wanted,” she muttered wryly. “Will hates me.”

Blackbird raised her eyebrows and studied her sister-in-law. “Is there a problem between us, Elizabeth?” she asked in confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“For seven years now, you’ve had something against me,” Blackbird said. “ I’d be very much obliged if you told me what I did to make you hate me.”

“I don’t hate you, Blackbird,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “I hate that you’re part of what has stolen my husband away from me. But then, I’m sure you don’t even understand what he’s doing wrong.”

“I understand exactly what he’s doing. He’s neglecting his duty to his family for personal enjoyment. I’m all too familiar with that situation. I will tell you this, though: He does still love you. I can see it in the way he looks at you. You accused him of not knowing what day it was, but you didn’t know what he had planned. The day before your anniversary, he and I had a long discussion concerning how bad he felt about how he’d been treating you. In fact, he pulled some strings and arranged a whole apology dinner for you. He got Jack and I to agree to watch Marie, then he was going to take you out for a dinner alone. Open up that box he left on the table.”

Elizabeth picked up the small box and hesitantly opened it. She slid out a beautiful silver ring set with a diamond and two small Black Pearls. At the bottom of the box was a carefully folded piece of paper. She gingerly unfolded it and read the note written on it. “My dearest Elizabeth…” it began. Tears began to roll slowly down her cheeks as she read the whole thing. “I had no idea…” she whispered when she was done.

“He asked me to help him write it,” Blackbird explained. “I mean, he has a decent education and all, but I think he wanted it to be particularly special for you. He didn’t want all his errors in there. That ring took him weeks; he made it himself.”

Elizabeth nodded. “We didn’t have enough money when we were married to buy a ring, but he promised me that one day I’d get one. Blackbird, I feel so awful now! I had no idea that was why he was working so hard!.”

“He didn’t want you to know. I wasn’t supposed to tell you even now, but I never was very good at obeying orders,” Blackbird said with a mischievous grin.

Elizabeth returned the grin just as the ship shook, nearly sending her tumbling to the floor. “What was that?” she asked in surprise.

Blackbird frowned and hurried out. “I think we’ve been hit.”

----------

Will hurriedly strapped on the assortment of weapons he’d acquired over the years. He felt bad leaving things the way they’d been with Elizabeth, but there was no time now with a battle to fight. As soon as everything was in order, he hurried on deck.

“Jack, what happened?” he asked, looking around at the chaos.

“Met up with some old friends,” Jack said tersely, gesturing at their attacker. “British.”

“Where did they come from?!”

Jack shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he replied. “They just randomly attacked us. The good news is, it looks like they just recently came out of battle. Their foremast is already missing, so if we can take out the mainmast, they’re as good as ours. Let’s just hope they’re tired.”

Will glanced apprehensively at the setting sun. “Can we get it done fast?”

“Not if you stand here talking the whole time! I need you to hold her steady for our gunners until we get close enough to board. Then, of course, we’ll need you to fight.”

Will nodded quickly. “Aye, sir,” he said, hurrying to take his place at the helm.

Blackbird fired and quickly reloaded the cannon. The other cannons boomed around her, but she hardly noticed. All of her concentration was focused on the task at hand. She was about to fire again when she felt a slight shift in the ship’s direction. Silently thanking Will, she readjusted and fired a chain shot straight at the mainmast. A deafening crack was heard as the mast came crashing down into the sea. As the men let out a raucous cheer, Blackbird grabbed her sword and hurried on deck. Time to board.

----------

Swords drawn, Jack and a few of the crew members cautiously crossed the plank over to their opponents’ ship. The deck looked completely deserted, and not a sound was to be heard. Jack and Blackbird exchanged glances as they advanced; something was wrong. As soon as all the men were on deck, they heard a loud yell and soldiers sprang out from the long shadows, surrounding the pirates. Jack looked around at their opponents and nodded slightly to Blackbird. He’d suspected as much. A few of the men parted to let someone through, and Jack was startled to see none other than Commodore James Norrington. “Long time no see, mate,” he said, bowing with mock-politeness.

Norrington nodded. “It took me ten years, but I finally tracked down the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. Admit it: you’re beaten.”

“Aye, that was quite a nice little stunt ye pulled there, Norrington. So low I’d normally only expect it out of a fellow pirate. You’re sure it’s not too late to change careers?”

“Enough beating around the bush, Sparrow,” the commodore interrupted, clearly annoyed. “We won, you lost.”

Jack just smiled. “You’d like to think that, wouldn’t ye, mate?” He motioned behind his back, and the rest of the crew hurried on board, surrounding the soldiers and brandishing their weapons. “Now,” he continued cheerfully, “we’re in a bit of a hurry ourselves, so if your men will just drop their weapons and cooperate, we’ll get to the looting and be on our way, savvy?”

Norrington hesitated. “I’m not required to yield to your terms, Sparrow,” he said contemptuously. “Do not think that a handful of untrained pirates bearing rusty weapons will weaken my men’s resolve in the least. They are not afraid of your scum.”

Will stood impatiently with the rest of the crew. Jack seemed to be tolerating the stubborn commodore, but his hand rested lightly on his pistol, prepared to end negotiations swiftly if necessary. His eyes drifted toward the horizon. The last edge of the sun had long since slipped below it, and he knew there wasn’t much time before it became completely dark. Finally, the waiting proved too much.

Will pushed his way past the other men. “Jack, we don’t have time for this,” he said urgently in a low voice. “It’s almost dark.”

“What do we have here?” Norrington said before Jack could reply. “William Turner…I might have known you’d fall into bad company after you disappeared seven years ago.”

“We didn’t disappear,” Will replied fiercely. “Business required that I move to another town in hopes of more customers. Governor Swann himself knew of our departure.”

“I must admit, Turner, you do fit the part,” the commodore continued as if nothing had been said. “You look like a pirate, talk like a pirate, act like a pirate…” he paused for a disdainful sniff. “Heaven forbid, you even smell like a pirate.”

“I fight like a pirate too,” Will said, his hand drifting to the hilt of his sword. “And I will not hesitate to do what’s necessary to speed this up. We won; you should be grateful that we only want to take your supplies, and not your lives.”

Norrington studied the man in front of him. “Well, well, something has you on edge…” he said, circling Will as if inspecting him. “How are things with the wife?”

“Never better,” Will lied. “In fact, we’re expecting our second child soon. I hope you’ve had better luck with other women?”

“Will…Jack said hesitantly. “Will!”

Will looked at Jack, who in turn pointed at the sky. They watched as the moon slipped out from behind a thin cloud, casting a silvery light on the ship. Norrington recoiled from the three skeletal pirate in front of him. “What…is going on here?” he asked in horror.

Another small cloud covered up the moon again, and Will breathed a sigh of relief. “Nothing that concerns you,” he replied. “Now, are you ready to let us do our jobs?”

Before the commodore could answer, they were all startled by a young girl shouting, “Daddy!”

Will looked up in surprise just in time to see Marie running toward him. “Marie!” he said, picking her up. “What are you doing here? I told you to stay with your mother.”

“Daddy, it’s Mama,” the girl said breathlessly, her eyes wide. “She says come quick. She thinks the baby’s coming!”

Will looked at Jack, clearly in shock. Jack just shrugged. “Don’t look at me,” he said. “I don’t know anything about babies except making them.”

“Commodore,” Will said hesitantly. “Do you have a doctor on your ship?”

Norrington shook his head. “He was killed in our last battle.”

“Well, then do you have any medical knowledge?” he asked.

“Not the kind that Eliz- I mean Mrs. Turner needs,” Norrington admitted. “I can’t help you.”

“This isn’t going to happen often, Norrington, but I’m begging you,” Will said urgently. “Elizabeth almost died when Marie was born. I need your help!”

Norrington hesitated, clearly torn. “I’ll do what I can.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 9

Will paced impatiently in the hallway. Space was limited in Elizabeth’s small cabin, and they weren’t able to move her, so he was forced to wait outside and do what he could to comfort Marie. Blackbird opened the door and leaned wearily out into the hallway.

“What is it?” he asked anxiously.

“She’s asking for you,” Blackbird explained, her eyes full of concern. “Will you come in?” Will nodded and hurried in after her. Elizabeth was laid out on her bed and was breathing heavily. Her cries of pain were heartbreaking to Will as he stood by her side, holding her hand comfortingly.

“You’re doing fine,” he whispered to her. “Just don’t give up.” For once he was glad he couldn’t feel anything, because he was sure his hand would be throbbing otherwise. Her face beaded with sweat, Elizabeth gave a cry that surpassed all the rest, and before Will knew what was happening, he was holding a baby boy.

“There’s another child!” Blackbird said in surprise.

Will just stared at her in shock. “Twins?!”

Blackbird grinned tiredly. “Guess you’re family’s going to get bigger than you’d expected.”

----------

Will smiled as he watched Elizabeth sleep peacefully with their sons. As soon as he was sure they were settled, he silently slipped out of the cabin. Striding down the hallway, he nearly bumped into Commodore Norrington.

“How are they doing?” the commodore asked quietly.

“They’re asleep right now,” Will replied. Hesitantly, he extended his hand. “Thank you.”

Norrington shook his hand. “It was nothing,” he said. “You would have done no less in the same situation.”

The moon had long since disappeared behind the clouds, so Will readily stepped out on deck with him. He grinned wryly as Norrington started to cross back over to the Dauntless. “Commodore!” he called out. “Do not make the mistake of thinking that this will change things in our next encounter.”

Norrington’s eyes flashed a challenge as he returned the smile. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, Turner.”

----------

Will stuck his head up to look over the platform. He wasn’t at all surprised to see Blackbird sitting there with her back turned to him.

“What do you want?” Blackbird asked quietly without turning around.

“I saw you climb up here,” Will explained.

“And?”

“And normally whenever you come up here just to sit, it’s because something’s bothering you and you need to mentally sort things out,” he continued.

“And?”

“And…I thought maybe you’d need to talk about it?” he ventured hesitantly.

“Maybe I just came up here to watch the sunrise,” she argued.

Will raised an eyebrow. “It’s still night,” he pointed out. “Sunrise isn’t for another hour.”

“Well, maybe I like being early,” Blackbird replied. Will just sat there and waited patiently for her to say something else. “Or…maybe something’s bothering me,” she relented. “Maybe tonight reminded me of something I didn’t want to remember. Maybe I didn’t tell you absolutely everything about my past. Maybe I have more reason to hate Nathan than you know. And maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to talk about it.” Her last statement was mild, but the message was clear.

“Alright,” Will said, starting to climb back down. “I understand. I won’t pry any farther.”

As he headed down, Blackbird turned around and called after him, “Ask Jack about it. He knows. He seems better at talking about me than I am.” Nodding, Will continued climbing and soon disappeared into the darkness.

----------

Will quickly found Jack sitting in his cabin. Without looking up from what he was doing, Jack nodded to indicate he should speak. “Blackbird seemed upset tonight,” Will began hesitantly.

Jack grunted. “That so?” he replied mildly.

“She said tonight reminded her of something she wanted to forget. She wouldn’t tell me what, but she said to ask you. Why does she hate Nathan so much?”

Leaning back slightly in his chair, Jack finally gave Will his full attention. “First of all, she loved him very much, and she though that her feelings were reciprocated. Blackbird doesn’t like being wrong, so when they were separated, it made things all the worse for her. You must understand, Will, when she came back to Tortuga, she was horribly depressed. When you first met her, she had just begun acting more like herself again. It took her years just to tell me all that happened, and I still doubt I know the whole story.”

“So what was she depressed about? You have my word that she gave me permission to ask,” Will said.

“There was a reason other than love for their marriage,” Jack admitted slowly. “Blackbird was pregnant…with his child.”

“What?!” Will exclaimed in surprise. Try as he might, he couldn’t picture Blackbird as the mothering type. But, of course, he’d never thought her capable of marrying, either.

“They had been romantically involved for several months,” Jack continued. “I knew it, and she knew I knew it. I chose to turn a blind eye, figuring I’d grant her the same right as any man on my crew. I still regret it to this day. See, at one time Nathan was quite the gentleman, and when Blackbird confessed to him, he insisted upon marrying her and helping raise the child. She agreed, even though she knew that she would probably never be able to go back to piracy. Big mistake. As I’m sure she told you, he gradually became more violent and…promiscuous as the years drew on. It came to the point that she only stayed to support their daughter.”

“She told me she was just too stubborn to leave,” Will commented.

“Well, that’s Blackbird for ye,” Jack said, annoyed at the interruption. “Anyway, one night when they were fighting, he… he got angry at her. He knew Blackbird didn’t value her life much at that point, and it would be no slight to her to kill her. So, he took their three-year-old daughter…and…made an example of her. Right before Blackbird’s eyes. Furious, Blackbird attacked him. He hadn’t counted on the fact that she was a natural fighter, and she almost killed him then and there. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed a long scar running down his cheek, but that was her. If he hadn’t run, I don’t doubt that she would have ended his life without hesitation.”

Will sat there in silence, taking in the information. He couldn’t imagine if someone killed any of his children, much less in front of his eyes. That was the pain he’d seen in her eyes before they’d gone into the cave. “So that’s why she wanted so badly to come with us…” he mused. “She needs to have revenge.”

Jack nodded slowly. “That’s why I didn’t want her to come. Don’t get me wrong; your sister is probably one of the most level-headed people I know, but everyone has their limits. I was afraid her desire for revenge would compromise our goal.”

“That woman will never cease to surprise me,” Will admitted. “Every time I think I’ve got her figured out, some even darker part of her already dark past emerges. It’s a miracle she’s as sane as she is.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Blackbird cut in before Jack could reply. “Captain,” she said, turning to Jack, “we’re coming up on another ship. We found them.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 10

The Jolly Roger flew high on both masts as the Black Pearl approached the Phantom. The only difference was that the Phantom also bore the red flag of no quarter. Gripping the rope tightly, Blackbird stared at their opponent. “They mean to defeat us,” she laughed to Will.

Will grinned cockily. “Well, then, we’ll have to teach them not to tangle with Captain Jack Sparrow,” he replied. “Although, some kind of battle plan might be nice. Do we have any idea how we’re going to beat them?”

“Simple,” Jack interrupted, leaning on Will’s shoulder. “Obviously they can’t die, and most of our crew can, so our only chance is in numbers. She looks like a fairly small ship; what we saw in the cave is probably the extent of their crew. All we can do is try to get them over onto our ship and overpower them.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Will said, turning to leave. “I’ll go get my weapons.”

As soon as she was alone, Blackbird stared again at the ship. Nathan was close; she could feel it. I will have my revenge, she vowed silently. And you will pay.

----------

Elizabeth hurriedly loaded the pistol and checked it.

“And what do you think you’re going to do with that?” Will asked, grabbing it out of her hands.

She tried to get it back. “I’m going to fight,” she replied plainly.

“No, you’re not,” he said, shaking his head. “You’re still too weak. I won’t risk losing you again.”

“At least give me the opportunity to defend our children, Will! I know my physical limitations better than you.”

Will seemed to hesitate, looking over the pistol. Suddenly, he pointed it at his own chest and fired. Elizabeth gasped before realizing it had no effect. “See that?” he asked, indicating the already closing wound. “That’s how much you can harm them with this. They won’t even pause.” He turned around a grabbed a lightweight sword. “If you’re going to fight at all, use this. I still ask that you stay down here, though. I don’t want to lose you.”

Something in his eyes made her pause. A tenderness was there that she hadn’t seen in days. “Alright,” she yielded. “I’ll stay down here. I promise.”

Smiling, he paused to gently brush a wisp of hair out of her face. “Then I’ll see you in a little while. This shouldn’t take long.”

----------

“Prepare to board!” someone on deck shouted. Will grabbed onto one of the ropes and swung across the gap to the Phantom, already fighting as he landed lightly on the deck. Picking out one of the weaker fighters, he began slowly working him backwards across a narrow plank that connected to the two ships. As soon as the pirate was across, Will left him to Gibbs and hurried back.

Blackbird moved quickly across the deck, her sword a blur of motion as she pushed through the chaos. She was helping here and there, but she had one objective: Nathan. Striking one of her opponents with the hilt of her sword, she finally spotted him. As their eyes met, she saw for the first time anxiety; he knew they were losing. She had almost made it over to him when the fighting stopped. “It’s over, mate, we won,” Jack was saying loudly. “I gotta hand it to ye: your crew is a regular bunch of imbeciles. They can’t die, and yet they surrender to mere mortals. I can tell ye put a lot o’ thought into choosing ‘em. Now, if you’ll be so kind, we have unfinished business.”

Nathan looked steadily at Jack. “Maybe I don’t surrender,” he said coolly. “I can’t die, why should I let myself be captured? I can single-handedly wipe out your crew, save the two stupid enough to take a piece of the treasure. There’s no reason for me to submit.”

“Except for this,” Blackbird said, clamping a pair of cuffs around his wrists. He’d been too busy talking to even notice her approaching. “Captain Sparrow gave you an order. I suggest you yield.”

Their eyes locked again as Nathan was led away by several of the men. Hatred flashed in his eyes before he smiled coldly. “So be it, Raven,” he said, not even struggling against his captors. “But I promise you this is not over. In fact, it’s far from it.”

----------

Elizabeth winced as Will dabbed the cut on her arm with a wet rag. “Sorry,” he said quietly. “We don’t want it to get infected.”

“Thank you,” she muttered. “I know this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t insisted upon fighting.”

Will just shook his head. “I stopped trying to argue with you years ago,” he said, laughing slightly. “You always end up being right.”

“I can be wrong, too,” Elizabeth pointed out. “Sometimes I don’t wait to hear both sides of a situation…jump to conclusions…I was wrong to doubt you, Will. I should have known by now that you’d never do anything to harm our family.”

“You know, as much as I love hearing that from you, you were right. Piracy is taking over my life, Elizabeth; I’m seeing that more and more as this journey progresses. Things will change when we get back to Tortuga. You have my word.” Gently wrapping her arm, he stood up from the table he’d been using as a seat. “My watch is about to start,” he explained. “I’ll be back down in a few hours.”

----------

Blackbird sat in a dark corner of the brig, keeping an eye on the prisoners. Even though they were locked in the cells, Jack had ordered that someone be down there keeping watch at all times. He had been hesitant to allow her to go, but she’d finally convinced him.

She’d been down there for over an hour, and not a word had been spoken by anybody, but she felt their eyes watching her.

“So, Raven, you must be rather satisfied right now, aye?” Nathan finally said breaking the silence. She sat there silently, refusing to acknowledge him. “Come now, luv, there’s no reason for the silent treatment. We’re more mature than that.” Still no response. “Surely yer not still sore about our little argument ten years ago?”

“That was not a ‘little argument’, Nathan Barbossa,” she replied tonelessly.

“And she speaks!” he said sarcastically. “Honestly, luv, I think that’s the longest sentence you’ve uttered to me since we last met.”

Blackbird shrugged. “I have better things to waste my breath on.”

“Ah, so cold,” Nathan tsked. “Although, I think I like you better this way. You sure it’s too late to start things over?”

Blackbird stood up with surprising speed and brought her face close to the bars of his cell. “I would die before wasting another minute of my life on you,” she said fiercely. Spitting at his feet, she strode off and hurried up the steps.

Out on deck, Blackbird leaned against the railing and stared out at the thin fog. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn’t even notice Jack coming up behind her.

“Excited about getting near Isla de Muerta?” he asked, sitting on the rail next to her.

“Not so much excited as ready,” she replied. “It’s been over two weeks, and I’m ready for this to be done. What I wouldn’t give for a decent meal and a nice, stiff drink.”

Jack grinned. “It’s been over a month for me. I think I’m the most ready of any of us.”

“You know, it’s weird…I’m almost getting used to the curse,” Blackbird admitted. “Although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

“Well, either way, it’s only a day or two before we reach Isla de Muerta. It won’t be much longer,” he said, sliding off the railing. “Try to get some rest, Blackbird. You’re going to need it.”

______________________________________________________________________

Ch. 11

“I’m not going to ask you again, mate,” Jack said, pacing impatiently back and forth across the cabin. “Whose blood do we need?”

Barbossa stared up impassively from the chair he was tied to. “You’re even stupider than I thought, Sparrow,” he sneered. “First you destroy my ship, then you make me and my men captives. You expect me to actually tell you anything? How does this benefit me in any way?”

“Surely you don’t enjoy being cursed,” Jack pointed out, trying to stay calm. “Don’t you want this all to be over?”

“I don’t see the rush,” Nathan replied casually. “You see, Jack, I’m a very patient man when I need be. If you’re trying to pressure me, I can assure you now that it’s a waste of time. You’re just going to have to face the fact that it’s going to be a very long time before I agree to anything.”

“Fine!” Jack said, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “But I hope you find your cell accommodating, Mr. Barbossa, because you will not be going anywhere until you cooperate.”

Nathan grinned as two of the crew members grabbed his arms to lead him back to the brig. “Patience is a virtue, Captain Sparrow,” he said, turning his head to face Jack. “And you’re about to get a very long lesson in it.”

Jack waited until the men had left to sink into the empty chair. Rubbing his forehead wearily, he sighed. This was turning out to be a lot more complicated than he’d thought.

----------

“I told you he wouldn’t tell us anything,” Blackbird said when Jack had informed her of the situation. “He’s as stubborn as they come, Jack. I should know; I was married to him for three years. We took his ship and his freedom. All he has left over us is that piece of information, and he‘d sooner suffer for fifty years than give us the satisfaction of defeating him completely.”

“I’m beginning to see why you hated this guy so much,” Jack muttered.

She simply nodded. “So…what are you planning to do? I noticed our course is still taking us to Isla de Muerta.”

“I figure we need to get as close to lifting the curse as we possibly can, so that if and when Barbossa’s resolve does weaken, all we need is the one individual’s blood,” he explained. “You and Will need to go ahead and take care of it now. If either of you lost your piece of gold somewhere…”

“I know, Jack,” Blackbird assured him. “We could be stuck this way a very long time. However, at the rate things are going with Nathan, we’d probably already have had time to find it, lose it again, and find it again before he tells us anything.”

Jack grinned wryly. “Glad to see you’re retaining your healthy optimism through all this,” he commented.

“It’s what I’m here for,” Blackbird replied, standing up and resting a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, mate. We’ll get through this…eventually.”

----------

“They’re so little…” Marie said adoringly, looking down at her baby brothers. “Daddy, was I ever that little?”

Will smiled. “When you were first born,” he replied. “And now look at you. I bet you’ll be a big help with your little brothers, won’t you?”

Marie nodded earnestly. “Yes, Daddy,” she said, sitting on his lap.

“Have you decided on names yet?” Jack asked, picking up one of the twins.

“You’re holding William right now,” Will said. “We’re still not sure about his brother.” He looked at Elizabeth, who nodded. “Actually…we would be honored if we could use your name, Jack.”

Jack looked up in surprise. “Sure, I guess,” he replied with a grin. “I mean, who can resist such a roguishly handsome name as that? William ‘ere sure fits his namesake, though. I think I’m officially old.”

“And how’s that?”

“Seems like yesterday I held you like this,” Jack explained. He shook his head at the memory. “Bill sure was proud of ye. He told your mother from the start that you’d be a pirate one day, just like your old man.”

“My children are not going to be pirates, Will Turner,” Elizabeth said, pretending to be serious, but failing miserably. “Do you understand?”

Will threw his hands up in surrender. “I didn’t say a word. You’ll have to take this one up with Marie, I’m afraid.”

Marie grinned and climbed up beside her mother in the bed. “Don’t worry, Mama,” she said, leaning again her mother’s chest. “I’ll be a good pirate, just like Aunt Blackbird.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t tell your mother that,” Will whispered, laughing at Elizabeth’s expression. He scooped Marie up in his arms and turned to leave. “Come on, luv. Your mother and brothers need their sleep.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Ch. 12

Jack watched as Blackbird and Will prepared a boat to go into the cave. “You sure you don’t want to come along, Jack?” Blackbird asked.

“No reason to,” he replied. “The only reason we’re here is so you and Will can go pay the blood debt. Besides, I’d rather stay with the Pearl. I don’t like having Barbossa’s son here without me to watch him.”

Blackbird just shrugged. “Suit yourself,” she said, starting to climb down to the boat. “We’ll only be a couple of minutes.”

.

Blackbird looked around as they silently rowed into the cave. “Isn’t this fun?” she muttered to Will, stepping out of the boat and making sure it was secured.

He just nodded absently. “Something’s wrong…” he murmured.

“I feel it too,” Blackbird agreed. “It feels like we’re being watched.” Making her way over to the stone chest, she picked up the knife. “Might as well get this over-” Before she could finish speaking, the knife was shot out of her hand. Turning to the sound of the explosion, she saw Nathan standing there, pistol in hand.

“Raven, Raven, Raven,” he said condescendingly. “Did ye really think I’d let you get away with that?”

Blackbird stared at him. “What are you doing here?” she asked tonelessly.

Nathan just smiled. “You never did figure out that part of the curse, did ye, luv?” he replied. “Being neither living nor dead, we don’t really exist in this part of reality, so the rules of this reality don’t always apply. In simpler terms: I can be anywhere I please. I only let you think you were keeping me in that cell. Even as we speak, my men are killing everyone onboard the Black Pearl. And you two are going to have to live forever knowing that you could do nothing to stop me.”

----------

Jack paced back and forth across the deck, ignoring the full moon that was out. Something wasn’t right. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of gunshots and yelling. Moments later, a swarm of skeletal pirates ran on deck, brandishing weapons.

“What happened?!” Jack shouted to Gibbs as they rushed to fight.

“I don’t know, Cap’n!” Gibbs replied. “One second, they were in their cells; the next, they were out and fighting! How’d they manage it?”

“I dunno, let’s ask them!” Jack said sarcastically. Gibbs just looked at him blankly. “Less talking, more fighting!” he shouted tersely.

----------

Blackbird sat down on the edge of the chest and looked over at Nathan. “So your only plan is to keep us here, huh?” she said. “What do you accomplish by that?”

Nathan smiled eerily. “Revenge,” he said simply. “I can’t kill you two without putting myself at risk of death, but I can do the next best thing. By the time I am done with your lives, you’ll wish I had just killed you.” He turned around to continue pacing, and Blackbird caught a glimpse of something sticking out of his belt.

“Will!” she whispered quietly but urgently. “I think Nathan’s the one we need.”

He looked over at her and drifted a bit closer. “What makes you think that?” he asked, equally quiet.

“For one, it’s in his nature to be the last to contribute to anything. He likes being important, and he could control his crew better that way. They wouldn’t get rid of him if they knew they still needed his blood,” Blackbird explained. “Secondly, and most importantly, he has a coin sticking out of his belt.”

“That would be some substantial evidence,” Will agreed. “But how do you plan on getting his blood anyway? In case you haven’t noticed, he’s not the most cooperative person.”

Blackbird grinned. “Just leave that to me.” Before Will could reply, she stood up and went over to Nathan.

“So, Nathan…I’ve been thinking about everything you said, and…you’re right. It was all my fault. I was selfish to think that I should control your life, and I realize now that I was in the wrong. I was a horrible wife. I-I know you probably want nothing to do with me now, but…could you ever forgive me?” she asked, gently wrapping an arm around his waist and leaning on his chest. As he looked down at her, too surprised to say anything. Taking advantage of his hesitation, Blackbird reached up to plant a kiss right on his lips, at the same time gently slipping the coin out of his belt. Apparently he noticed the motion, because he immediately pushed her away.

“Wench!” he shouted angrily. “You tricked me! I should have known you couldn’t be trusted!”

Blackbird drew her sword and shrugged. “Pirate.”

----------

Jack pushed his way through the chaos, his sword a constant blur of motion. Turning around, he saw that one of the pirates had cornered Elizabeth. He groaned in exasperation. Is she bloody trying to get herself killed?! He pulled out a knife and hurled it at Elizabeth’s attacker’s back, delaying the pirate only long enough for him to reach them. Knocking the man unconscious with the hilt of his sword, Jack glared at Elizabeth. “Go back below deck,” he ordered sternly.

“I can fight!”

“Not right now!” he insisted. “Think of your children, Elizabeth! Think of Will! There are other ways to prove yourself!” Not waiting for a response, he turned and went back to fighting.

----------

Blackbird whirled around and stabbed at Barbossa. He screamed in pain and retaliated, only to be met by Will. The twins worked in perfect tandem, fighting more as one unit than two. It took all of Nathan’s effort just to keep up with them. “I’m impressed, Raven,” he said, breathing heavily. “This is the best I’ve ever seen you fight. Clearly I’ve made ye angry.”

“There’s an understatement,” Blackbird replied through gritted teeth. “I never asked for much, Nathan. All I wanted was to love and to be loved. Is that so much? No. But still you found it necessary to take everything from me.” Lashing out suddenly, she stabbed at Nathan again.

“Are you really that stupid?” he sneered. “Surely you’ve figured out by now that I can’t die.”

Blackbird pulled out Nathan’s medallion and wiped it in the blood on her sword. “I didn’t intend to kill you,” she said grimly. She sliced her own hand and tossed the two coins to Will, who was standing by the chest. He dropped them into the chest along with his own.

Nathan stared blankly at Blackbird. He started slowly backing away as she pulled out her pistol. “N-now, love,” he stammered, speeding up his retreat. “You don’t really want to kill me, right? I mean …after all we’ve b-been through…”

Blackbird just leveled her pistol at him and took a step forward. “It is all we’ve been through that makes this so easy. I only wish I could make you suffer as much as I have.” Hesitating only slightly, she fired.

As he collapsed at her feet, Blackbird shoved the gun roughly back into her belt. “Until death doest part,” she muttered tonelessly. She turned to face Will, her expression still blank.

“Blackbird…” he began hesitantly.

She held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t. I know what you’re going to say, and don’t. What’s done is done.”

“Fine,” Will said, tossing the knife into the chest. He reached out to close the lid, only for it to snap shut on its own. “Let’s just make sure this doesn’t happen again, alright?”

.

Will packed down the dirt with the back of his shovel. Scattering some of the treasure to cover the mound, he stepped back to survey his work. They had decided to bury the chest this time, just in case anyone else happened to wander across the dreaded Isla de Muerta. “We should probably head back to the Pearl,” he said quietly. She just nodded absently, still staring at the grave they had dug for Nathan. Sighing, he went over and hesitantly put a hand on her shoulder. “Blackbird…are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said brusquely, turning away abruptly and pushing off his hand. “He’s been dead to me for years now. I’ll be fine. Let’s get going. I’m sure Jack’s wondering what happened to us.”

----------

As they climbed up the side of the Black Pearl, they were met with a dismal scene. Most of the men wore bandages as they worked to clean up the mess, and everyone’s expressions were numb. Blackbird walked through it all without registering much, but Will stopped to pull Gibbs aside.

“What happened here, mate?” he asked in a low voice.

Gibbs shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said plainly. “One second they were in their cells; the next, they weren’t. You should find Jack. He’ll be glad to know the two of ye are back safely.” Will nodded and headed below deck.

.

When he finally found Jack, he saw that Blackbird had already located him. He was about to go up to them when Blackbird buried her face in Jack’s shoulder, her shoulders shaking. “It’s alright, love,” he heard Jack mutter, stroking her hair. Deciding that it wasn’t the best time to interrupt, Will just nodded to Jack and went off to find Elizabeth.

.

He found her in the room adjacent to the galley, tending to some of the more severely wounded. Coming up behind her, he grabbed her hand suddenly and pulled her into a passionate kiss.

“Will!” she said in surprise. “I was beginning to worry!”

“I’m alright, love,” he replied, resting his chin lightly on her head. “How are the children?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “Fine, I guess. I locked them in our cabin as soon as I heard the battle.”

“What are the numbers?”

“Three dead, a few more that might not make it,” Elizabeth said wearily. “Barbossa’s men had the element of surprise, and that put them at an advantage.”

“Not to mention they couldn’t die,” Will pointed out. “That generally helps in a battle.”

Elizabeth smiled half-heartedly. “I’d need to go check on the others soon,” she said reluctantly. “I hate being this close to suffering, though. Speaking of suffering…how is Blackbird?”

“I think she’ll be alright,” Will said slowly. “She had to face a lot of personal demons on this journey that she had thought were behind her. Knowing Blackbird, she’ll be quiet and withdrawn for the next few days, then go back to her usual sarcastic, extroverted self. It’s just her way of doing things.”

----------

Blackbird sat on the handrail, staring absently out at the rising sun. Will came up next to her silently and handed her a plate of food. “Thought you might want this,” he said quietly.

“I’m not hungry.”

“You have to be hungry, Blackbird. You haven’t eaten in almost three weeks,” he insisted. “Or are you forgetting that we are once again capable of dying from starvation?”

Blackbird took a bite out of the bread. “There. Happy?”

“Eat it all,” he said in a mock-serious tone. “Am I going to have to treat you like Marie and send you to your room until you decide to finish it?”

“Yes, please,” she said quietly. Her tone was serious, but he saw the corners of her mouth lift a little.

“A smile!” Will exclaimed, pretending to be surprised. “I haven’t seen one of those around for a while.”

She hit his arm roughly. “Shut up, Will.” Will just laughed and looked out at the sunrise. After several minutes, Blackbird sighed and looked over at him. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

“For what?”

“For everything. For understanding that I needed some time alone these past few days. For knowing when I needed some cheering up. For just…being there.”

Will smiled. “Hey, I’m your brother. That’s my job, right? To be there?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she said absently. “For once, I’m ready to be back in Tortuga. Too much stuff I want to leave behind on this journey.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more.”

________________________________________________________________________

Ch. 13

Will and Elizabeth stood at the bow of the Black Pearl, looking out at the approaching shores. Sighing, Elizabeth rested her head lightly against her husband’s chest. “What was that about, love?” he asked quietly.

“Nothing,” she replied. “I’m just ready to be home. I enjoy this kind of adventure enough, but I think in the end I’m just not made for the sea like you are.”

“I’m always anxious to be home at the end of a journey, too,” Will admitted. “Pirate may be in my blood, but I was raised too long on land to completely abandon my longing for it. Just don’t tell Blackbird I said so.”

“I’m afraid it’s a tad too late for that, mate,” Blackbird teased, resting a hand on Will’s shoulder. “Don’t worry; I don‘t think any less of you for being a bloody landlubber. Me, I’m always aching for the sea the moment we step foot on land. But even I’d like a little break after this journey.”

----------

Will wearily pulled out his key and unlocked the door to their house. “Welcome home, little mates,” he whispered to the twins as they all stepped inside. Looking around, he saw that everything much like he’d left it. It was as if they’d never been gone. Marie instantly climbed up to her bedroom to look around, but he and Elizabeth lingered in the kitchen.

“Well…” she said finally, taking a look around. “We’re home.”

“Aye. Don’t tell me you’re already bored?”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “Bored? A mother’s work is never done, Will Turner. I believe I shall begin with the mess that you were apparently too inconsiderate to clean up before leaving…”

Will started to defend himself, but he saw the smile in her eyes. “I love you,” he said quietly. “Don’t ever let me forget that again.”

“Don’t worry, I have ways of reminding you,” she replied, reaching up to pull the hat off his head. They were still locked in a kiss when Blackbird came in.

“Oh,” she said, turning around quickly. “Don’t let me interrupt anything…I was just coming by to make sure you got home alright.”

“Thank you, Blackbird,” Will teased. “You may leave now.”

“Alright, alright, I know how to take a hint,” she replied. “Jack and I are going to the Jolly Roger for a drink. You’re welcome to join us, if you like.”

Will looked at Elizabeth for a second. “That’s alright,” he finally said. “I think I’ll eat at home tonight. Of course, I still owe somebody a dinner alone, if we could find someone to watch the children…”

“Go on,” Blackbird said with a grin. “You two lovebirds go have a romantic dinner all to yourselves, and I’ll just sit here with your kids till you get back. No, no, I insist. Don’t even start to feel bad about leaving your sister here all alone into the late hours of the night. Go. Have fun. I’ll be just fine…”

“Okay, I get your point, Blackbird,” Will interrupted. “We won’t be late, I promise.”

“You better not be,” she said. Her face was completely serious, but he could see that she was just messing with him. “I’ll go get Marie.”

-

“You mean I get to stay here with Aunt Blackbird?” Marie asked excitedly when her mother informed her.

Elizabeth smiled. “Your father and I are going out for the evening. I trust you’ll be a good girl and help your aunt with the boys?”

“Yes!” Marie said earnestly. “Aunt Blackbird, you and I are going to have so much fun! Will you tell me another story about pirates?”

Glancing at Elizabeth, Blackbird nodded. “Sure I will, but not right now. Right now we’re going to play the ‘be quiet so your aunt can get a few minutes of sleep’ game.”

“I promise we won’t be too late,” Elizabeth assured her as she and Will headed out the door. “And there should still be food in the cupboards if you get hungry. And the twins have been fed, so they shouldn’t need anything. And if they get too fussy, don’t hesitate to send someone to come get us. And-”

“Elizabeth, relax,” Blackbird interrupted. “I’ve got it under control, savvy?”

Elizabeth just laughed and nodded. “Alright. Sorry. Be good, Marie,” she said as Will closed the door behind them.

----------

To Will’s surprise, Joe was able to get them the room he had requested almost a month before. “Not many people ‘ere in Tortuga have need for a private dinner,” had been his explanation. As the server poured wine into the small glasses, Will had to smile at Elizabeth. “Still worrying?” he asked quietly.

“Not really,” she replied. “I never thought I’d say this, but I trust Blackbird. She’s proven to have a lot more to her than I’d first believed.”

Will nodded. “Good,” he said shortly. “Then you can spend the entire evening focusing on how roguishly handsome I am.” He raised his glass slightly. “To the future.”

“May it ever be satisfyingly boring,” Elizabeth added jokingly, raising her own glass to meet his.

As the glasses clinked, Will looked across the table at her a grinned mischievously. “Drink up, me hearties, yoho!”