Big Girls Don't Cry

An Extended Moment One-Shot From City of Gold

Originally published September 26, 2007.

The sun slowly crawled up into the glorious watercolor dawn sky. He threw his arm around her shoulders and she didn't protest. Normally, he wouldn't try such a thing, especially with Captain Smith standing right beside them, but now was a moment to enjoy, a moment of happy celebration, a moment of peace. He had won the battle and gained back his crew-his whole crew-and he was free to do whatever he wanted. Just the way he liked it.

Everything seemed perfect. Even the weather was cooperating. A perfect moment, he thought. He had been on the run for so long without a moment to catch his breath, it seemed like he would never experience a moment as faultless as this.

He started towards the docks, his arm around Arabella's shoulders, and a happy feeling illuminated on his face. Arabella wasn't moving with him, she stood frozen in place. His brow furrowed as he noticed the unsure expression on her beautiful face.

"What?" he gazed perplexed at her, wondering what could possibly be wrong. Everything was perfect. "What's wrong now?" he asked her.

Arabella's lips quivered with indecision and the inner struggle she was experiencing flickered behind her warm brown eyes. This was the first time he had ever seen her unsure of anything. "Look, Jack," Arabella started, her voice less strong than normal. "Me and me mum, we sort of have to work… well…"

Though Arabella had trouble explaining what she was attempting to communicate to Jack, but Jack caught her meaning. "You want to stay with her?" he asked, more confused than before. Captain Smith and her daughter did not get along to put it mildly. Arabella could not stand being around her mother, and Captain Smith had kidnapped her, only very recently being rescued by Jack and the rest of the crew of the Barnacle. Why was she asking to go with her again? Even Captain Smith looked surprised.

Arabella shrugged. With a glance at her mother she continued. "I want to give her a chance at least. D'ye understand?" She turned to Jack with the most heart-breaking expression he'd ever seen. "I've never felt so free as I have with you on the Barnacle. I've never had such adventures...or friends before. And I feel so bad, especially after ye made me yer first mate and all..." Arabella's words were so full of passion and genuine sadness to be leaving. Jack could feel his heart aching. He couldn't remember feeling this way ever before. Arabella's sad smile tugged at Jack's heart. He couldn't believe it. He knew Arabella was feeling the same way from her heart-aching smile. She stood up a little straighter and continued, "But, I've missed her so much...and I don't want to lose her again. I'm going to stay with her and Mr. Reece on the Fleur de la Morte."

"Forever?" Jack asked, hoping, though he knew it was most likely to be in vain, that she would say no.

"For now," Arabella replied, placing her hand comfortingly on his.

Jack could tell that his normally smug and sarcastic face was revealing his feelings. A dark shadow of sadness flashed over Jack's usually unshakable features. "Well," Jack choked out. "Do what you have to, luv," he murmured, his voice hardly audible. Then he realized this was only going to make Arabella feel worse than she already was. He gave a fierce grin. "We're all free to come and go on the Barnacle. That's the point, is it not? We're all free to do as we please! Good luck with that, Bell!" These words of encouragement didn't seem to be doing their job. Arabella's eyes shined with drops of salty tears. "You're crying, lass," Jack said, feeling himself headed in that same direction.

"Just something in me eye," Arabella cried. She stepped towards Jack and quickly threw her arms around his neck, crying into his shoulder. "Thank you for everything, Jack," she sobbed into his ear. "You really are the best mate I've ever had-ever will have."

Jack put his arms around her and for a moment, his heart stopped aching. He knew then something he'd somehow known all along.

I love her, Jack thought. He swallowed hard and let Arabella go. She looked at him longingly for a moment, and then went on to say her final good-byes to the rest of the crew. He stared after her, as she took her place next to her mother. She tried to look brave. She tried to look strong. She did, she looked inspirational. She looked like something worthy of a painting, Jack thought.

He let out the pressure inside with a sigh. He stepped onto the boat, his boat and kept himself busy untying the lines. The crew of the Fleur boarded right beside him. Arabella was last to go on. Before she stepped onto the invisible ship she turned to her previous captain and waved, her brave, courageous look gone, her heartbreaking sad smile had returned. But, Jack didn't notice. His eyes couldn't leave her beautiful brown eyes, replete with the sadness of an empty soul. He couldn't take his eyes away.

She slowly stepped onto the Fleur and faded from his view like a memory you weren't ready to forget. Jack wasn't ready to forget Arabella yet. But still he watched the waves and sea foam left by the fantastic ship, taking Arabella away from him. A tear welled in his eye, but he quickly wiped it away, he wouldn't risk letting Fitzwilliam see him like this. That was completely out of the question. He had to pull himself together. He took a long sigh as images of his first mate, best friend, and secret crush populated his mind.

If you love something, let it go.