Disclaimer: I don't own Pirates of the Caribbean. I don't even own a ship. I do, however, have several hats. That counts, right?


I Feel Cold

"Trust me, young Master Turner, it's not gettin' to the land of the dead that's the problem – it's gettin' back." Barbossa flashed Will a grin, but Will clearly wasn't in a smiling mood, and quickly returned to his brooding. The others, too, content that Barbossa knew what he was doing, resumed huddling and shivering together in the frigid air.

All except one. "You would know," came a voice from behind him. "You came back."

Barbossa didn't turn. "Aye, Miss Swann, that be true. But the returning weren't me own doing, and the gettin' there – well, that was thanks to Jack."

Elizabeth ventured a little closer. "And yet here you are, sailing to the end of the world to rescue him."

It wasn't the first time this had come up. Several times during their journey to Singapore, she'd broached the subject. Every time, he'd deflected: Jack Sparrow was one of the Pirate Lords, and regardless of what had happened in the past, they needed him. Barbossa considered repeating the same answer, but the weather that had put most of the crew in a foul mood had the opposite effect on him, so he decided to indulge her. "Is there something ye be wantin' to ask me?"

There was, but she hadn't been quite sure how to ask. "Do you blame him – Jack?"

An odd question. But there was no good reason not to answer it. "Ye won't find a pirate that don't have his enemies, Miss Swann. Jack weren't the first to try to kill me; I seem to recall a young governor's daughter with a table knife attemptin' the same deed." He thought he caught a smile on Elizabeth's face, but it was soon gone. "There were others before, an' for certain there be more to come. Jack just happened to be the one to succeed. Besides, this not be the time for the settlin' of personal scores."

"And after?"

Barbossa smiled. After. She was a hopeful one. But no – that look. She wasn't looking forward to 'after.' She was worried about it. Nervous. Dreading it, even. He nodded knowingly. "We're not talking about me and Jack, are we, Miss Swann?" Elizabeth looked away, which was answer enough. "Ye think he might blame ye for the part ye played in his recent demise?"

"I had no choice—" Elizabeth blurted out before she could stop herself. She looked around quickly for Will; fortunately, he was nowhere in sight. "Please, no one else knows."

"Except Jack," Barbossa concluded with a smile. "My compliments, Miss Swann. There be many who would thank ye for the deed, including meself if we didn't have such need of him."

Elizabeth turned away. That wasn't helping. Going to Barbossa had been a mistake.

"Do ye feel that, Missy?" Barbossa asked, interrupting her thoughts.

Startled, Elizabeth looked around for anything she should have noticed. Feel what? "I feel cold," she shrugged.

She looked back at Barbossa, and was met with a smile. "Aye. And a welcome feeling it is, Miss Swann, to one who spent ten years not able to feel the cold nor warmth, the wind nor the sea." He took a deep breath of the salty air he had missed for so long. "Jack Sparrow had a hand in that, in the end – liftin' our curse. That be something not soon forgotten, no matter what came before."

"And Jack?"

"We mean to rescue Jack from the worst of fates. Whatever your part in sendin' him there, saving him be enough to settle the score. Jack won't blame ye – not for long. We pirates are a forgiving lot amongst ourselves, else we'd have killed each other off long ago without the help of our friend Beckett."

Elizabeth nodded. Barbossa had almost been laughing as he said it, but there was some truth to it, considering how many people on this ship had tried to kill each other in the past. Even more comforting, somehow, was the fact that "ourselves" had clearly been meant to include her. She turned to leave, but looked back for a moment. "Thank you, Barbossa." She smiled a little. "I won't tell Jack."

Barbossa cackled. "Aye, your secret's safe, as well, Miss Swann."

Elizabeth left, but Barbossa was still laughing. He turned once more to the sea, to the cold and the wind and the salt air. "Thank ye, Jack."

Jack the monkey chattered in response and handed him an apple.