Summary: Jack Sparrow, immortal captain of the Flying Dutchman, returns to his King on his one day ashore in ten years. AU in which Will literally dies and Jack becomes the Dutchman's captain instead. One-shot.

Forgiveness

He had followed his compass to land. It had always stayed true to him and knew that it would not fail him now. His crew had docked the ship and gone about spending some time gambling with the living for once. He, however, staggered along a different path, away from the town. He followed the trail out towards the shore, coming upon a small house.

Suddenly he knew where his compass; where his missing-heart's desire had taken him. A small smirk tugged at his lips and he lightly shook his head. He put the compass away, proceeding onward more confidently than before.

He reached the cottage in a couple of minutes. The lights were out. Peering through a window, the place looked tidy enough, but it was hard to tell in the moonlight. He tried the handle of the door, surprised to find it unlocked. He wondered why, knowing the owner of the house was not naive in the least.

When he stepped inside the cottage, he was shoved aside without warning. His back collided with the nearest wall harshly. He didn't make a sound. Nor did his attacker. He felt the cool metal of a small blade plunge into his throat and he merely growled, grabbing the hand attached to it. He forced the hand to withdraw the blade from his flesh before he let go.

His attacker released him, taking a couple steps back in shock. "You should be dead."

"Been there, done that." He responded casually, stepping forward into the moonlight that shone through the doorway. "Thanks though. Real warm welcome, love."

"Jack!" His attacker, one Elizabeth Turner gasped.

"No need to remind me of me name. I haven't forgotten that yet." He assured her good-humoredly. "Been a long time, eh?"

"Yes." She agreed quietly. "It has been."

"Nice place ye got 'ere." Jack said. "Lonely, though, I reckon?"

"Only because Will isn't here." Elizabeth answers sadly.

"I'm sorry 'bout that, I should mention. I regret few things, but that's probably the biggest of 'em." He admitted.

"It's your fault." She reminded him resignedly.

He gritted his teeth bitterly at the thought. "I know. I'd say I was young an' stupid, but I haven't exactly aged. But I am selfish- or was, at least. I hesitated a moment too long because I wanted immortality. Because I was too afraid to die. I'm a coward. An' he died 'cause of it. I tried to bring 'im back, I really did. But Calypso wouldn't have it. Reminded me that actions have consequences an' all that; that I could end up like Jones. I hated myself 'bout it for the longest time. I've no right to say it, but I am sorry."

Instead of replying, she merely asked him a question. "The heart, I heard it when I pushed you against the wall. Why do you have it with you?"

"What am I supposed to do with it?" He pointed out. "I have no one to give it to. Everyone'll either try to stab it or fail to protect it from 'em. I wasn't gonna bury it like Jones did either. It's safest I keep it with me."

"And which category am I in?"

"Not sure yet."

As a silence overcame the pair, Jack made his way over to a table in the middle of the room. He lit it, his eyes burning for merely a moment before adjusting to the lighting. He watched the flame dance sadly, his heart heavy against his breast. He reached into his shirt and withdrew it, staring at the pink item blankly.

His lips spoke on their own accord, his English accent revealing itself against his command. "I tried to stab it myself; the crew wouldn't. It hurts when I try, but nothing happens. The pain fades within a moment and then it's numb again."

"W-why did you come here, Jack?" She managed, not entirely concealing her horror.

"I'm not entirely sure myself." He placed both his compass and his heart on the table, heart closest to the candle. He didn't react to the burning agony the heat caused it. He felt numb, almost. "I jus' followed the compass, like always."

"And it brought you here?" Elizabeth asked disbelievingly.

"I'd say it did. Couldn't well take me to the Pearl. Did ye hear what happened?"

She shook her head.

Jack sighed. "The Pearl went down on a reef two or three years back. Took the whole crew with her. Even Barbossa. It was not fun to ferry him."

"Are you telling the truth?" She seemed skeptical.

"Got her wheel in my quarters on the Dutchman, if ye want to see the evidence."

"No, thank you."

He couldn't blame her. Her husband had died on that very ship.

"Do ye want me to leave?" Jack asked softly.

"No." Elizabeth said quickly. "That would be a waste of your day ashore."

"It's night, jus' so ye know." He pointed out helpfully. Then he sighed. "It doesn't make much a difference to me whether I stay or not. Either way, I'll be returnin' to the Dutchman sooner or later."

"No, no, it's alright." She assured him. "It's nice to see a familiar face."

He merely nodded, pulling out a chair at the table and sitting down. She sat across from him. He reached for his compass, noting that his heart was gone. He glanced to her, finding himself unable to do anything. She held it, indeed. But she held it close, listening to it. He resumed putting his compass away after a moment.

"Ye're not goin' to stab it, are ye?" He wasn't sure if he wanted her to or not.

She set it back down on the table guiltily. "No. Sorry if I scared you."

"I'm not worried about it." Jack told her, reaching for the heart himself and moving it closer to the candle.

"Doesn't that hurt?"

"I'd rather feel pain than nothin' at all. It feels nice."

"You don't mean that."

"What if I do?"

"Then you're not the same Jack Sparrow I remember." Elizabeth told him.

"What was he like?" He wondered, wanting to hear her opinion of him.

"He was one of the smartest men I knew. He had a huge ego, but didn't care what others thought of him so long as they remember he was Captain Jack Sparrow. But he was daft. Always a troublemaker. And he always had someone chasing after him. But he never gave up on anything. He believed that he could do anything. But he was a good man at heart. He never let me down in the end."

Jack scoffed in disagreement. "Wish I'd had met him. Sounds quite the interestin' character."

"He was. He helped a wonderful blacksmith save me from mutinous pirates. He let me chain him to the mast of his own ship and accepted my lie of not being sorry. And then he made me a King."

"And aren't ye upset at him for what happened to said blacksmith?"

"I was, for a long time. But then I accepted the blacksmith was gone and my heart had chosen another. But I didn't realize it until he sought me out on his one day on land."

His eyes snapped up and locked onto hers in an instant. He was at a loss for words, his jaw opening and closing several times. It was a long moment before he managed to speak, and when he did, his English accent took the lead. "You what?"

"I forgive you, Jack." Elizabeth restated. "And I love you."

Jack allowed a ragged sigh to escape him. His stiff shoulders slowly slumped, the weight in his heart lifted, and his eyes shone with a small hint of who he once was. He allowed a small, genuine smile to dance across his face. "What if I told ye that the Jack Sparrow ye know isn't gone after all?"