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SalR323 [userpic]
At World's End: Redux 27/27
by SalR323 (salr323)
at August 20th, 2008 (09:50 pm)
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Chapter Twenty-Seven


The mountain top burned. Along the rim of the cove, bonfires danced, their flames stroking the night sky and casting their light over those who had gathered.

Once the storm had abated and the sun began to sink slowly into the sea, the people had come. Unwilling to simply make sail and leave this place, they had ascended the cliff-side paths to join the refugees whom Teague had led from the now ruined city, bringing with them the food and drink from their ships’ holds. The dead had been cast into the sea and words of mourning uttered; then all had followed the instinct that told them no one should be alone this night. As the mountain top gathering grew, the mood gradually changed from sorrow to celebration and the fires were lit. Shipwreck City was gone, but life continued.

Captain Morgan Teague stood on the cliff’s edge, staring into the dark basin below. The wreckage was invisible now, swallowed by the blackness, but the image of the ruin was branded into his memory.

Above the noise of the merriment, he heard footsteps approach. Then a voice. “Will you rebuild?”

Teague turned to his son and shrugged. “Not I,” he replied. “It’s served its purpose. Was never meant to last.”

Jack nodded and frowned, his eyes restlessly scanning the darkness. “Some things ain’t worth fixing, eh?”

“That’s right,” agreed Teague. “But then again, maybe some things are.” Jack’s gaze caught his once more, guarded, uncertain, and Teague walked forward to place his hands on either side of his son’s face; ugly, knotted fingers against that strange beauty. His boy, his son, his Jackie. “You have a life to live, boy. There are those who would share a part of it, if you’d let them.”

For a moment, Jack was still, but then Teague felt a hand on his shoulder and he was pulled into an embrace, fierce and true. How many years had it been, since he’d held his boy thus?

“Jackie,” said Teague gruffly, as they broke apart, “‘tis not my place to interfere, son, but there’s one other what was willing to do whatever it took to bargain for your life.”

Jack sighed and Teague felt his heart break for the boy. “She did what she did for atonement, mate. For my forgiveness, and she’s got that.”

“What else does she have of yours?”

“Nothing that she wants.”

“You’re a fool if you believe that.”

“Then I’m a fool.”

Teague chuckled and shook his head. “No, Jack. You’re Morgan Teague’s lad.”

But Jack just smiled, sadly. “She has William. And he has her. ‘Twas always the way of it, even from the start.” His hand fluttered in the air. “Meant to be and all that.”

“Meant to be?” Teague was incredulous. “Jack, right about now you were meant to be commencing ten score years of torture at the hands of a sea goddess. And yet here you are - here you are thanks to Elizabeth Swann. So don’t tell me of things that are meant to be. What a man can do, son…”

“…and what a man can’t.” Jack turned towards the revellers who danced amid the fires, quick eyes searching their faces.

“Go find her, Jackie,” said Teague. “Find her and say your piece. Let the girl make her choice knowing the truth. I daresay she has a weight on her own heart that needs to be shared.”

At Teague’s final words, there passed across the clean lines of his son’s face something ardent, something hopeful and, without a backward glance, he set off through the throng.



***


Suzume.” Kasumi appeared as if out of darkness itself, her ironic eyes bright. “Or should I call you Suzume sennin?”

“Not immortal, darling. Just lucky.”

She smiled. “Is there a difference?”

Having no answer she’d understand, Jack glanced down at her fingers which still circled his wrist. “You’re hurt.” Her hand was bandaged across the palm. “How did you fare today?”

“Well, enough. I lost only three of my crew, and all bravely.” Kasumi winced slightly, flexing her fingers. “Tomorrow, we shall sail for Zhenhai. And calmer seas.”

“The Portuguese don’t trouble you there?”

Kasumi shrugged, running her fingers further along his wrist – to where his brand had once been. When she lifted her gaze it was speculative. “We shall see, Suzume sennin, if the debt you paid the goddess bears fruit. The seas be ours…So says the Song, does it not?”

“So it does.” From the corner of his eye he saw movement, glanced over and caught Elizabeth slipping between the shadows. “Wherever we will, we’ll roam, eh?”

A rustle of silk drew his gaze back to the woman before him, her lips a ruby promise. “This night is not for sleeping, Suzume. And it seems we’ll likely never meet again, you and I, now the Brethren Court no longer binds us.” Delicate, practiced fingers ran further up his arm as she drew closer. “Shall we not say farewell properly?”

“A tempting invitation, no doubt. But I’d sooner wake with all me effects present and me ship intact.”

“That only happened the once…”

With a firm hand, he removed her fingers from his arm. “Aye, and once is quite enough.”

Her gaze slid sideways, toward the beacons – toward Elizabeth. “You think me a threat, Jack Sparrow, but that girl is more dangerous to you by far.”

With a sigh, he followed her gaze. “Like a moth to the flame, love. Like a moth to the bloody flame.”

Kasumi smiled, and for once it seemed genuine. “Then burn bright, Jack Sparrow, and burn fierce – I think you always have.”

“Always.” Jack lifted a hand to his hat, and offered her a scant bow. “Fair Winds, Kasumi-san, and following seas.”

Her bow was more formal, and silent. And then she slipped into the shadows and was swallowed by the night; the Ikazuchi, he knew, would be gone before the sun rose.


***



Elizabeth Swann sat alone, watching the mass of people, denizens of the city and pirates all, as they danced and drank and sang their way towards morning. The fires blazed and Elizabeth remembered another bonfire that had burned, long ago on a beach, when up was down and nothing was certain.

How different everything was now, how new, for she was no longer the girl who had stood upon that shore, lost and afraid. She knew herself now, knew her spirit and understood the darkness in her soul; it was a darkness that would remain ever present, and pulsed within her even now, knowing that her hunger for vengeance would never be sated. Yet she did not fear it anymore. For Elizabeth also understood the great love of which she was capable, and the sacrifices she was willing to make for others. The bonfires danced, casting both light and shadow across all they touched, and in their patterns she could see herself.

How much things change, she thought, and how much they stay the same. For still, nothing was certain.

She had searched for Jack as night had fallen, glimpsed him briefly, a vivid ghost through the flames, but had kept her distance. Elizabeth knew her heart, but was reluctant to give it voice, for the world was not simple anymore; the only thing that made any sense was the sound she could hear above the noise of the revellers, the gentle wash of wave upon sand on the beach below. It was towards this sound that she now headed, summoned by a call more compelling than any mystical Song.

Pulling a branch from the nearby fire to light her way, Elizabeth walked carefully down the rocky path towards the beach. By the time she reached the bottom, she was chilled, and tugged the thick wool of her coat around her, wincing at the ache in her shoulder. The moon had retreated behind a veil of clouds and, beyond the small circle of yellow light cast by the torch, she could only vaguely make out the white surf that frothed at the water’s edge; beyond that, the ocean was black. Elizabeth thrust the branch into the soft sand and walked out of the light’s comforting sphere, feeling restless and eager, but for what, she didn’t know. Jack was still up there, on the mountain’s ridge, enjoying the celebrations, making merry and weaving his charming magic among the other revellers. And suddenly Elizabeth was seized by another longing, just as powerful as the sea that stretched out before her. She should go to him, she should tell him…

A movement at the edge of her vision made her spin. Alert and wary, she scanned the shadows along the beach, but saw only the gentle to and fro of the waves. Elizabeth bent down to pluck the torch from the sand and there, visible in the fading light at the edge of the yellow glow, stood a pair of battered men’s boots. Rising slowly, she watched, stricken by fear, as her torch illuminated a sodden coat, bloodstained shirt and, finally, the craggy, ashen face of Frederick Mercer.

“Evenin’, Miss,” he said and, in his hand, the sword flashed.


***



By the time Jack reached Gibbs – sat by the fire and regaling anyone who would listen with a tall tale – Elizabeth was long gone. Jack paused a moment, filtering out the raucous night, until all he could here was the soft boom-crash of the waves against the cliffs below.

And he knew the sea had called her, just as surely as it reached out and tugged him away from the flames. For she was nothing if not a child of nature, and the sea had called her before – pulling her into its wild embrace from atop the very summit of imperial power. He’d often wondered if she’d answered its call that fateful day, when she’d first fallen into his life and he had cut the ties that bound her.

The night was not so dark and Jack’s eyes were used to steering by the stars, so he had no trouble finding the narrow path that zigzagged across the crumbling cliff and down to the beach below.

He walked slowly, pondering Teague’s advice and the nervous racing of his heart. In that strange crystalline world beneath the waves, where the light of the goddess had been so bright it seemed that all was shimmer and shine, he’d found the words for all that he felt. He had offered himself, so that she would be spared; he had done it because he loved her for all that she was, the light and the shade of her. But here, in the vibrant night of the world where his heart beat with a visceral thump, everything felt more complicated.

What did his feelings matter when her heart had long belonged to William? And yet… He remembered his awakening upon the rain-sodden beach, her hands on his face and her eyes – like fire! – so full of him. He’d not imagined that, nor the heat of her lips against his; he knew the taste of her desire, felt the burn of it when she’d—

A cry shattered the night, fury lancing up from the beach and shattering the gentle hush of the waves upon the shore. Jack froze, heart hammering, straining to hear. And then another cry came, and he knew it was Elizabeth.

Heedless of the dark, Jack started running.


***



Her coat and shirt tore in a rasp of wool and linen as Mercer’s blade arced through the air. She felt its hiss upon the skin of her stomach, but there followed no sting of a wound and Elizabeth knew she was unhurt. Only now, startled by Mercer’s sudden appearance, she found herself on the back foot, dodging every blow he dealt and finding no opportunity to deal one of her own.

“Strange this, don’t you think?” he said, in a conversational tone, though malice flashed in his eyes, giving lie to his glibness.

“Strange?” asked Elizabeth, falling back upon the sand, desperate for time to think.

“Another beach, another Swann,” he replied, staggering forward, his voice slurred. He grinned. “Same blade.” And then, like some hellish poetry, the moon appeared from behind a cloud and shone upon the steely edge of Mercer’s sword; the same one he had used to pierce her father’s heart.

With a brutal yell, fuelled by fear, by loathing and by anger, Elizabeth pushed herself to her feet in one fluid movement and charged at the devil looming over her. Her sword was drawn in an instant, but Mercer was ready and blocked her attack in a resounding clash of metal upon metal. She thrust at him, screaming her hatred, and knocked the blade from his hand. Here was her opportunity, her chance to allay her savage soul and put to rest those demons who demanded vengeance. Here was her chance to spill the blood of her father’s killer.

Mercer fell back upon the sand, into the light of the flickering torch and, in its glow, Elizabeth saw the true extent of the damage wrought by her blow upon the Dutchman and by Calypso’s pitiless waters. His face was pallid and haggard, blood had crusted around his mouth and his hair had come loose from its tie, clinging in straggly, wet clumps to his forehead. Frederick Mercer lay gasping and helpless on the white sands of Shipwreck Cove.

“Will you kill me now, Miss Swann?” he rasped, clutching his injured side which bled yet, soaking his shirt. “Will you kill a defenceless man?”

“I should,” she snarled.

“I did nothing that wasn’t asked of me,” said Mercer, his breath coming in reedy spurts. “I followed my orders. Would you have done any different?”

Elizabeth sank to her knees, exhausted and sore. “You followed orders,” she echoed. “Beckett’s orders.” A few feet away, she saw Mercer’s blade embedded in the sand.

Another Swann, same blade.

“That’s right,” continued Mercer. “Beckett. He was the one. He had the control. What choice did I have, Miss Swann? What choice did I have?” Slowly, he began crawling backwards. Only to be halted by Elizabeth’s hand pressing into the wound in his side. He let out a roar of pain.

Elizabeth leaned forward and plucked the blade from the sand. “Mr Mercer,” she said, coolly. “There is always a choice.” And she ran her hand into his hair, pulled his head back, and pressed his own sword, slowly and easily, down into his throat. Mercer gagged, struggling momentarily, knees kicking at Elizabeth’s back, eyes wide in silent agony and horror. Then he stilled and all she could see was the black blood that spilled between her fingers.

***


A torch stood plunged into the sand, shedding a guttering light across the beach. Sword drawn, Jack leapt onto the stones, half-skidding down the steep beach until his feet hit hard sand and the shadows before him resolved into two bodies. One lay sprawled upon its back, arms splayed, the other knelt at its side, frantic hands working as if to close the gash that severed the other’s throat.

“So much blood.” Elizabeth’s desperate whisper chilled his bones. “There’s so much blood…”

His hand shook as he sheathed his sword and took a step closer. The moon was at its apex, washing colour from the grisly visage of Frederick Mercer who stared blindly into the night. She had done it then, and brutally. In the moonlight, the blood looked black upon her hands and the tears upon her cheek shone silver. “Elizabeth.”

“Too much blood. I can’t stop it. I can’t— "

“Elizabeth.” He touched her shoulder and she started, staring at him with unseeing eyes.

“But he’s dying. I got here too late,” she sobbed, turning back to Mercer’s gory body. “There’s so much blood, I—”

“Elizabeth! Look at me.” Crouching, he took her shoulders in both hands, turning her roughly to face him. "It's not your father."

She blinked, shook her head, and then it seemed that she woke up and crumbled all at once. With a desperate cry she fell into his arms and he held her there, letting her sob until she shook. After a while, she quieted and pulled away a little. Her hands were clenched before her, blackened and wet, and she stared at them. “I killed him…”

“Aye,” Jack said, watching her closely. “He earned it.”

“He asked for pity.”

Jack was silent, but lifted her chin with a finger that he might look her in the eye. “You’ve blood on your hands, and you’ll have to square with that like everyone else. But you did what was right by you and your own, Lizzie, and not all men deserve pity.”

“He said— He said Beckett gave the order.” Her expression darkened. “Is he..?”

“Dead,” Jack was unwilling to say more about that complex mercy. “By my hand.”

Elizabeth nodded, satisfied, and her eyes dropped back to her hands. “There’s so much blood…”

“The tide washes away all our sins,” he said, taking her hand and drawing her to her feet. “Come...”

In silence they walked into the surf, her hand in his slick with blood. The sea was cool, its surface golden in the moonlight as he led her into the surf. The steep beach shelved quickly and soon they stood waist deep in the water. “Here,” he said, taking her hands and holding them beneath the waves, his fingers tangling with hers as he rubbed them clean. Her face seemed almost colourless, save a smear of blood that marred her cheek. Taking the sodden end of his sleeve in his hand, he began to wipe the blood from her face, following the path of her cheek to her temple. There was more, lines like the scrabble of dying fingers across her collarbone and down across her chest. Each one he cleaned, tracing his fingers across her body until his sleeve fell away and it was just his fingertips against her skin.

He didn’t look at her face and she made no move away as he traced the line of her loose shirt that fell between the gentle swell of her breasts, then up to the delicate skin of her throat, her jaw, her lips…

She breathed a quick sharp breath and he looked up into her eyes. “Do you see what I am?” she whispered. “Do you see what I am, Jack?”

“Aye.” Her lips were soft and full beneath his fingers. “I see exactly what you are.”

“Murderer…”

“Daughter.”

“Traitor…”

“Pirate.”

She lifted a hand, wet from the sea, and touched his mouth. When he spoke he could taste salt on her fingertips. “What is this, Lizzie?”

“The truth.”

“Which is?”

She smiled faintly. “Each time we kiss, you die.”

“It’s always worth it.”

The moment stretched between them, nothing but the waves against the shore and the distant sounds of celebration breaking the silence. But there was truth in her touch, in the shadows of dark deeds and self knowledge that haunted her eyes. He took her face in his hands and studied every plane and angle, caught the moonlight in her eyes and saw in them his own desire. “And what of William?”

A confusion of sadness and vibrancy burnished her eyes, turning them to polished steel. “Our paths diverged long ago, Jack – we, neither of us, are what we once were. We’ve made our peace.”

He had no words to express the filling of his heart, and so he simply bent his head to kiss her – to kiss away the doubt and confusion, the sorrow and loss. He kissed her until they burned, until her fingers knotted into his hair and her lips scorched his; he thought he might die from the want of her. But all the while he knew that his heart hammered with a passion far greater than the urgent demands of his body, and that this kiss sealed his fate more certainly than any that had gone before.

Kasumi had spoken true when she’d said this night was not for sleeping, and Jack pulled the longboat into the water with Elizabeth’s unspoken consent. In silence, he rowed for the Pearl, Elizabeth’s eyes upon him the whole way from where she sat with one pale hand resting against the side of the boat.

The Black Pearl was deserted when they climbed aboard, every man ashore this night, and for a moment they stood together upon her deck. Alone.

Jack looked at Elizabeth, knowing her thoughts had fled to the last time they had stood upon this empty deck. “All our debts are paid,” he reminded her, taking her hand and leading her past the mast without sparing it a glance.

The Great Cabin was illuminated only by moonlight, but he didn’t light a lamp. The hush of the sea against the hull murmured a gentle lullaby, and in its quiet he could hear the softness of Elizabeth’s breathing. There was no fear in her eyes when she came to stand before him, nothing of the flustered blushing he’d expect of a girl with such limited experience. Nonetheless he was conscious of the fact that she had only been touched once before, and that by a boy as chaste as herself; he slipped the coat from her shoulders, pressed a restrained kiss to her neck, and felt her shiver beneath his touch.

Words brushed his ear, warm and breathy. “I’ve wanted this for so long.”

“I know.” And then, more honestly, “So have I.”

Her skin was ivory in the moonlight as she slipped from her clothes and lay down upon the bed, proud and trembling beneath her fall of wild hair; she was beautiful, more beautiful than any goddess. Gentle fingers touched his chest, tracing the place where powder burns had long marred his skin, then running down toward his stomach in a long curious sweep. “Every mark, gone.”

“All but one.” He lifted his arm, showed her the sparrow that remained.

“Because that’s everything you are.”

She kissed him then, winding her fingers into his hair, and he feared his heart might burst from the simple joy of it. Her body was fresh and eager beneath his touch, and all he wanted was to bury himself inside her – to feel that glorious heat and pressure, to taste her and to hear the sweetness of his name upon her lips as he drew her over the edge.

But even as she opened for him, as he began to move inside her, he was aware of something else building - something beyond the urgent demands of his body, something bigger and more profound that broke over him in swelling waves. And it seemed that, despite all the women he had known, Elizabeth was the only one, and that this moment, building like white heat in body and soul, was everything he would ever want.

He longed for it to last forever, this perfect moment on the cusp of ecstasy, but her fervent kisses were driving him too hard toward the end; her fierce desire and willing body deprived him of every control and sent him tumbling headlong into oblivion with her name a helpless cry in his throat. And somehow it was he who was falling and lost, and her arms that held him and murmured soft words of love into his ear – until he touched her again, with practiced fingers, and drew her with him into that fleeting lover’s paradise.

They slept then, exhausted and tangled together, and did not stir until dawn.

***


Sunlight slanted gold through the windows, pale and full of promise. Elizabeth woke slowly, her body aching and her heart full of a melancholy delight; the world she had known was no more, and this dawn found her upon virgin shores. Her father was dead and his killer’s blood was fresh upon her hands, yet she’d never known such happiness as she’d found in Jack’s arms. She had walked this path too far and could find no way back; nothing would ever be the same again and in this new world she drifted alone, unanchored.

Jack stirred beside her, dark lashes fanned against his cheek and lips slightly parted; he looked too innocent to be the man she knew him to be, and she wondered if Calypso’s magic had touched his very soul. Calypso’s magic, or something else… For her own heart was full, spilling over, and she’d seen as much in his eyes that night – his wonder in the moments after the fall, the urgent way he’d clutched her to him, then traced her face with tender fingers and whispered her name like a prayer. The flash and dazzle of Captain Jack Sparrow had been thrown to the wind, and it was a man of human hopes and fears who had slept in her arms all night.

She touched a fingertip to his lips, longed to kiss him, but didn’t want to wake him so soon. Her own body was battered and bruised simply from battle – he had sojourned with a goddess, died and been returned to them, and all before the battle began. No matter how her body was roused to the possibilities he offered, she would let him sleep.

Slipping from the bed, Elizabeth pulled a blanket about her shoulders and went to sit by the window and gaze out at the dawn. The sea beyond shone flat and empty, the whole world spread before her. Yet she had nowhere to go, no port to call home. Her father was gone, and with him Miss Swann. She had taken up arms against the crown, had committed murder in cold blood, and had lain with two men outside the marriage bed; there was no place for her now in society. She found she did not regret the loss of stays and visiting cards, but the vastness of the world frightened her, for she was so alone in it and had nothing but her wits and the sword at her side to carve her path. It was a daunting and lonely prospect, and yet as exhilarating as sailing into the wind – for this was freedom, absolute freedom, and it was the first time she had ever known the bitter-sweet truth of it.

Behind her, Jack stirred. She turned to find him propped up on his elbows, watching her with sleepy, heavy lidded eyes. “Where will you go, then?” His face was impassive, deliberately casual.

“I don’t know,” was her honest answer.

A flicker of a smile touched his lips; she knew it now for unease. “’Tis a heady choice, when you’ve the whole world before you.”

Rising, she returned to the bed. He watched her with a wary kind of hunger, as if steeling himself for disappointment. “Oh Jack…” She stroked a hand across his chest, traced the lines of muscle and bone, provoking a grunt of pleasure as he lay back and let her follow her touch with a kiss, then another, tracing a path to the base of his throat, to his neck. His skin was so smooth, so soft, but his fingers in her hair were suddenly urgent, and his mouth upon her face, her lips, was hard and demanding. They took each other in a tempest of desire, whipped up like a sudden squall, with his long fingers guiding her hips in this unexpected and glorious variation of delight. Beneath her, he threw his head back, lips pressed tight, helpless against the unstoppable force that tore a cry from his throat as it drove them tumbling together over the cliff, like a lover’s sacrifice to the goddess.

Breathless, she fell upon him and lay a while in his arms, listening to his racing heart slow and drawing idle patterns upon his chest. After a while, he turned and kissed her hair. “You could sail with me a while, if you’ve no other plans,” he said quietly. “Always in need of good crew.”

“Good crew?” Lifting her head, she met his gaze and saw the truth there; a love so deep it shook them both, and a fierce desire for freedom. The path between the two would be a difficult one to walk, and yet it was the path they had both chosen. She kissed him again, with a slow burning heat, and thought she could never love him enough to express all that filled her heart. “I’ll sail with you a while, Captain Sparrow,” she whispered against his lips. “Where is it we shall go?”

He smiled as if from the depths of his soul “Wherever the wind blows us, love. Wherever the wind blows…”

***


It took three days for the fires to burn to ash, and for the men gathered on the rim of the Cove to make their way down to the beach, where the longboats of the pirate fleet had gathered in the aftermath of battle. Their ships sat at anchor still, awaiting the return of captains and crew, and the men and women gathered upon the shore in the pale light of a new morning; it was here they would bear witness to the final parting of the Brethren of the Coast.

Hector Barbossa was first among them, watching as the people filed down the narrow path to the coast. Turner followed, walking side by side with Teague, though on which ship they would leave the Cove, Barbossa did not know – if they chose to leave at all. Rumours had spread fast as flame around the bonfires, talking of lingering powers and destinies still to be fulfilled, and in the heady days beyond the battle, anything seemed possible. So perhaps they would stay here, blacksmith and musician; perhaps there were indeed deeper secrets to be revealed. Barbossa, however, had no need for them – he had had his fill of curses and prophesies, and had in mind the freedom he had once sought at the helm of a ship. Freedom and the wind in his hair would serve him now, and he’d never again be enslaved to the devil of greed.

He cast a glance out toward his new ship, and beyond her toward the Black Pearl – for ten years he’d been her captain, ten cursed years driven, night and day, by desires that could never be sated. They had a bond, aye, but one born of dark deeds and darker hearts; Barbossa found he was not sorry to see it severed. Nor was he sorry to see the Pearl once more under the command of Jack Sparrow. Let those eldritch spirits sail where they would, and sail together; he had no further use for either.

As farewells were said, some quiet, others raucous and full of bravado or challenge, he caught sight of Elizabeth Swann standing to one side of the beach. No longer the girl who’d been brought aboard his ship, she was now a woman honed by harsh experience and she stood talking quietly with William Turner. A goodbye, perhaps? They spoke earnestly, then embraced, before the girl stepped away. Sparrow was watching from the foreshore, dark-eyed beneath the brim of his hat, and as Elizabeth walked towards him, Jack raised his hand in farewell to Will, who returned the gesture with a slight smile. Then, together, Jack and Elizabeth pushed the longboat into the surf and set out for the Pearl; Barbossa wondered when the winds would blow them across his path again.

He felt a hand upon his shoulder and turned to see Teague standing close behind him. “The seas be ours, my friend,” he said, “though the world’s a changing place.”

“Aye, so it is.” Barbossa swept the hat from his head and scratched at his scalp, eying the old man with a pirate’s scrutiny. “Will we meet here again, Morgan Teague?”

The old man smiled, revealing nothing but gold teeth. “The Brethren of the Coast are no more,” he murmured, “their debt has been paid and the seas be free. But the Cove remains, for any what understand its secrets – or wish to learn. Perhaps you’ll find your way back, eh? When the time comes.”

“And what time might that be?”

Teague chuckled softly, his gaze drifting out over the morning sea toward the unfurling black sails aboard the Pearl. “You’ll know it, Hector,” he said, squeezing his shoulder once, hard. “You’ll know it.”

And then he turned walked away, back up the beach toward where the Turner boy stood looking on; Barbossa watched them for a moment, a strange father and son bonded by powers beyond his ken. Then he turned away and strode out into the waves, calling for his men and boat, bound for freedom and adventure.

***



Epilogue


Two had gathered on the rocky island that had once formed the foundation of the towering city, but that now lay scoured clean of man’s touch. Two figures - one weathered and wise, a man who had seen it all and yet knew there was much still to learn, the other bright-eyed and eager, alive with the possibilities of all that his hands might forge.

They had sailed through a hidden fissure in the wall of rock, emerging upon a pool of glass; the waters within the Cove were now calmed, and the broken reminders of man’s hubris lay strewn across the ocean bed, visible through cobalt crystal.

“How long shall we remain here?” asked the younger of the two, as they stepped from the longboat.

“For as long as we are needed,” replied the elder, lifting a guitar from the prow, its rosewood body as tattered and worn as his own. His thumb stroked gently across the strings and a soft sound danced in the air. The man closed his eyes.

The young man turned to the guitar player. “And are we needed?”

There was a moment’s pause before the man replied. “Touch the rock, my boy. Touch the rock and ask me that question once more.” But the young man merely smiled and shook his head, for in his bones and in his blood he knew that they would be needed always, for both spoke a language that was ancient.

The guitar player placed his hand on the younger man’s back, guiding him towards the centre of the island; a dark opening beckoned them down into the depths of the earth. From somewhere within, a light shone. So they entered, Musician and Blacksmith, for there was work still to be done.

And somewhere, without tune, without words, a song is ready to be sung. It’s waiting, out there amid the stars, waiting to be summoned. For it is ancient and eternal, it is energy and it is life. And its beat plays within the heart of the Universe.

The End



Author’s note #1: A huge thank you to everyone who has read and commented on this story. We started working on it back in January and can hardly believe that, eight months later, we’re only just getting to the final chapter. We’ve had so much fun writing and posting the story, and we hope you’ve had as much fun reading.

This isn’t the end of redux_08, however, as we hope it will become a place for people to post their own AWE and post-AWE fic – more details coming soon!

Many thanks, again, for everyone’s support and encouragement throughout – every comment has meant a lot to us. So, drink up me hearties. Yo ho! :)


Author’s Note #2: When we decided to write this story, one of the first ideas we came up with was The Song. We wanted to give our own spin on the song as it was sung in AWE and possibly give an explanation about its nature – Where did it come from? How did the Pirates learn it? What was it, really? And so we came up with the idea of it being an ancient, mystical sound that echoed throughout the Universe, ready to be summoned for a worthy purpose, and that only those Musicians who spoke the true and ancient language could understand and interpret it.

Then, as we were in the midst of writing, we discovered a link (I think it may have been originally posted by erinya that kinda blew us away. We thought you guys might like it too.

The Real Song?

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Posted by: Claudia Mary Gacrux (cmgacrux)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)

Beautiful. ♥

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Redux - ship

Thank you so much, for reading and commenting so assiduously throughout. We really appreciate it. :)

Posted by: Laura (fried_flamingo)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)

Posted by: Claudia Mary Gacrux (cmgacrux)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)

Posted by: greenisbeauty (greenisbeauty)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)

Perfect. Simply perfect.

As usual, certain lines were pure poetry.

In the moonlight, the blood looked black upon her hands and the tears upon her cheek shone silver.

So haunting and disturbing and beautiful all at once.

“Good crew?” Lifting her head, she met his gaze and saw the truth there; a love so deep it shook them both, and a fierce desire for freedom
And this unspoken understanding was simply *guh*. There. You have rendered me speechless.

Thank you both so SO much for this amazing story, taking us all on this grand journey that quite frankly, completely and utterly outdid its sorry film version. The updates were truly the highlights of my week and I really can't say enough about how inspired and impressed I am by your writing.

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
Redux - King

Thank you! So pleased you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for reading it all - we've really enjoyed reading your comments.

We wrote this because we love PotC, so I'm happy if a little of that love rubbed off. :)

Posted by: The Deep Blue Ocean (creativeideas)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)

**standing ovation!**

There's been so many twists and turns to this story and its been a thrilling ride from start to finish.

And what a perfect ending :-) As far as I am concerned this is AWE, thank you both so much for writing it :D

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Redux - Musician

Thank you so much for commenting on this and all the other chapters. We really have appreciated your support.

I have to say, this is AWE in my mind now too! I've lived with it so long I keep forgetting what is canon and what is Redux! lol

Thanks, again, hon. :)

Posted by: ruby_scott (ruby_scott)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)

Oh, what can I possibly say. Just...epic, I think is the word. No, not even that. I don't think there is a word.

“Each time we kiss, you die.”

“It’s always worth it.”

That was the line that broke me. From then on I was in bits.

Thank you so so much for such a spectacular piece of work. I can't believe it's at an end already. Truly magnificent. :o)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
Redux - Jones

Wow, thank you so much. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it so much, it really is so flattering.

We had such good fun writing and posting this, and it makes it even better to know that others enjoyed it too. So thank you for taking the time to not only read but comment too, we really appreciate it. :)

Posted by: Dreaming my way back to you (sequence_fairy)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)

Accck....nooo...it can't be done! *sighs*

Brilliantly done ladies, perfect conclusion to the perfect story. I'm completely impressed.

I'm sad now though, because it's done. I shall hope for more fic, in this universe. *smiles*

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Redux - Admiral

Thank you. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the final chapter, and thanks so much for letting us know.

We're sad it's over too, but no doubt there will be a few more fics. And perhaps even some in the Redux universe. :)

As always, thanks for commenting - we really appreciate it. :)

Posted by: wicked_plum7 (wicked_plum7)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
sparrabeth: united


Beautiful beautiful masterpiece.

And wow totally cool twist with Mercer, it totally caught me off guard.

Can't really say much more than this was a astounding end to an already breathtaking story...and is it sad that I really want more?

More writing from you two, ASAP!!!!

Oh and that article totally made me cry, because its just so true, and I think deep deep down each and every one of us has heard the Earth's mystical song atleast once, and that in that moment we have all known God...whoever She/He/Them/It might happen to be.

Great job guys!

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
Redux - Song

Thank you! I'm so pleased that the final chapter didn't disappoint, we were a bit nervous posting it. :) Glad Mercer caught you by surprise too. Hee!

Wasn't that article fab? Spooky! :)

Again, thank you for commenting on this whole story - we've really appreciated your support throughout. It's been a long ride! :)

Posted by: Bell B. (bellbubble)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)

*wipes away tears*

Brava, ladies, brava!! The perfect, the epic, the romantic, the poetic, the marvelous AWE I've dreamed about. It's beautiful, astoundingly so. Thanks for sharing this wonderful fanfic; I've had so much fun reading it, and (God, I've said this so many times it's beginning to lose its meaning, but) it's one of the best PotC fanfics I've read!! One huge round of applause and rose bouquets for both of you!! ♥

Oh, and is it true this is not the end?? Sounds exciting!! =)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
Redux - Navigator

Thank you so much! I'm thrilled you enjoyed this, and really appreciate you having commented so frequently as we've posted. It's really meant a lot to us.

This is the end of AWE: Redux, but we hope that we can convert the comm into a place where people can post their fic - and of course, if anything else occures to us in the Redux universe we'll certainly post here! :)

Again, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. :)

Posted by: kenton_bomb (kenton_bomb)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
Sparrabeth

Okay, this comment is so long it might as well be a story as well. You might wanna you know, get a drink and get comfy and such coz you might be here a while lol :)
I don’t know whether to be happy its the end or not. Of course I’m glad because I finally get to find out how this wonderful story ends, but then I’m sad that come Sunday there won’t be an update of this to read. Though if the past is anything to go by, I’m sure the two of you will be back soon enough with more amazing reads :)
I never got round to commenting last week, stupid internet problems, so I apologise for that. But rest assured I loved the chapter as always.
For a moment, Jack was still, but then Teague felt a hand on his shoulder and he was pulled into an embrace, fierce and true. How many years had it been, since he’d held his boy thus?
Aww how sweet :)
“Jackie,” said Teague gruffly, as they broke apart, “‘tis not my place to interfere, son, but there’s one other what was willing to do whatever it took to bargain for your life.”
Yes, there was. He’s clever is Teaguey. Where is that Lizzie anyway?
Jack sighed and Teague felt his heart break for the boy.
Aww...will you stop with all the sweet lines I’m gonna run out of room to write all this.
“She did what she did for atonement, mate. For my forgiveness, and she’s got that.”
Oh my God! That film has been on all week and it’s driving me mad now. Atonement, that is, just to clarify my nonsensical ramblings. :)
“What else does she have of yours?”

“Nothing that she wants.”

Aww, silly Jackie. Of course she wants it.
“No, Jack. You’re Morgan Teague’s lad.”
Hehe. I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but I love all this conversation between Jack and his Daddy.
What a man can do, son…”

“…and what a man can’t.”

This is great, Jack finishing the sentence. Makes me think Teague’s the one Jack got it from in the first place.
Suzume.
Yay, Kasumi’s back. By the way, there’s a random </i> in there...or did you put it there for all the fans of Kasumi to use when being happy she’s back? I bet you did, aren’t you kind and thoughtful :)
From the corner of his eye he saw movement, glanced over and caught Elizabeth slipping between the shadows.
Oh, there you are Lizzie. :)
“A tempting invitation, no doubt. But I’d sooner wake with all me effects present and me ship intact.”
“That only happened the once…”

Hehe, I’d love to hear that story.
“Aye, and once is quite enough.”
Love the callback.
for she was no longer the girl who had stood upon that shore
She most certainly isn’t.
Elizabeth knew her heart, but was reluctant to give it voice,
Well, it’s a start. Perhaps Jack, being the more talkative of the two, will give voice to his instead then, eh?
She should go to him, she should tell him…
Yes, she should. I can’t take this no more! All the suspense! Lol. I love it though, all that suspense and twists and such.

Posted by: kenton_bomb (kenton_bomb)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)

“Evenin’, Miss,” he said and, in his hand, the sword flashed.

Wow, you know them twists I was talking about? That’s one of ‘em. Loved that line, as I could tell it was Mercer before I even read the line before that said it was him...yes, I’m weird. I apparently read backwards, lol. It’s coz I can’t wait to find out what happens so I read really fast and unintentionally skip words. :)

He’d often wondered if she’d answered its call that fateful day, when she’d first fallen into his life and he had cut the ties that bound her.

Great line.

Jack’s eyes were used to steering by the stars

I’d call that a lovely metaphor, except it isn’t anything like a metaphor lol. And it’s not a simile, oxymoron, onomatopoeia or any of them jazzy words...so yeah...

And then another cry came, and he knew it was Elizabeth.

Oh noes!! Run Jack, run!

Heedless of the dark, Jack started running.

Good boy.

“Another beach, another Swann,”

Evil, evil man.

and knocked the blade from his hand

Go Lizzie!

and pressed his own sword, slowly and easily, down into his throat. Mercer gagged, struggling momentarily, knees kicking at Elizabeth’s back, eyes wide in silent agony and horror.

What a lovely image :/ lol. Though I do love how it’s similar to the way Jones killed him in AWE. Of course, it would have been lovely and sweet had come to her rescue but I must say I prefer this way! Elizabeth most certainly is not the damsel in distress...though she could be the distressing damsel as Jack would perhaps say.

"It's not your father."
Oh no, Lizzie, you’re making me sad too :(

Jack was unwilling to say more about that complex mercy.

Hehe, I wonder why? Aww, I love Speckett...is it called that? Damn you two!

“Do you see what I am, Jack?”

He always has done :)

“Murderer…”

“Daughter.”

“Traitor…”

“Pirate.”


It had to end on ‘pirate’ didn’t it? Brilliant.

Posted by: kenton_bomb (kenton_bomb)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)

Posted by: wicked and astute (cortie)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
spoiler!love

I just want to say, first and foremost, thank you.

This has been such a beautiful story and I'm glad to have seen it from start to finish. I hope that the community is even half as wonderful as the work you've done thus far.

I have loved this story very much and I sincerely hope that this will not be the last work will we see from you two - separate or together.

Write forever, loves, and I'll be there to read it. Thank you again and much love.

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Redux - Kasumi

Thank you! :) I'm so pleased you've enjoyed it, and thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

This won't be the last from either of us, I should think, so watch this space... We might take a breather for a while though. ;)

Again, thank you for both reading and commenting on the story. Feedback always makes us happy! :)

Posted by: tuesday_suit (tuesday_suit)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Kermit

Gah! It's over! But in such spectacular fashion...

"You have a life to live, boy. There are those who would share a part of it, if you'd let them."

Yes, let her, Jack! And, you know, anyone else Teague might have been referring to. ;-)

"What else does she have of yours?"

"Nothing that she wants."


Oh, Jack. :-(

"that only happened the once..."

With a firm hand, he removed her fingers from his arm. "Aye, and once is quite enough."


Oh, NICE callback! Perfect here.

And I love how he says goodbye to Kasumi; so noble, and nearly affectionate, and I think a bit sad as well.

The fires blazed and Elizabeth remembered another bonfire that had burned, long ago on a beach, when up was down and nothing was certain.

And it's not like things are very certain now, either. Loved that.

Rising slowly, she watched, stricken by fear, as her torch illuminated a sodden coat, bloodstained shirt and, finally, the craggy, ashen face of Frederick Mercer.

Noooooo! He's dead!!! Not fair!

He had offered himself, so that she would be spared; he had done it because he loved her for all that she was, the light and the shade of her.

Which, of course, is precisely the same way in which she loves him. That was unspeakably gorgeous.

"Another beach, another Swann," he replied, staggering forward, his voice slurred. "Same blade."

Get him, Lizzie!!!

Mercer gagged, struggling momentarily, knees kicking at Elizabeth's back, eyes wide in silent agony and horror. Then he stilled and all she could see was the black blood that spilled between her fingers.

Oh, my goodness. Black blood indeed! I'm very sorry Lizzie had to go through that; it seems like something she might have trouble with later - or not. I can't decide.

"So much blood.". Elizabeth's desperate whisper chilled his bones. "There's so much blood."

That's what I was afraid of. :-( Jack isn't the only one whose blood was chilled there...

"It's not your father."

Oh, no. Oh, Lizzie. My heart aches for her here.

"Dead.". Jack was unwilling to say more about that complex mercy. "By my hand."

Complex mercy, indeed. What a perfect way to put it.

"do you see what I am?" She whispered. "Do you see what I am, Jack?"

Oh, sweetie, how could he not? She's a pirate - and a shattered one iin that scene. :-(

She smiled faintly. "Each time we kiss, you die."

"It's always worth it."


Oh my, YES. Just...yes. That, right there, is the very essence of them. All of it, in those ten words. That is my dead-on favourite line in this whole story, just on truth alone.

"All our debts are paid," he reminded her, taking her hand and leading her past the mast without sparing it a glance."

His forgiveness is so perfect here. The past is done, and he won't give it another thought.

They slept then, exhausted and tangled together, and did not stir until dawn.

And the porn....breathtaking and hot and thrilling, as always. If I tried to pick my favourite lines, I'd have to quote the whole thing, so I'll just pick the last one and call it all beutiful. :-)

But the vastness of the world frightened her, for she was so alone in it and had nothing but her wits and the sword at her side to carve her path.

And what makes you think you need anything more than that, Lizzie? Seems like a damn good start to me. :-). And of course it's not true that she's so alone...

"You could sail with me a while, if you've no other plans," he said quietly.

Oh, his hope just breaks my heart. (He thing you want most, eh, Jack?

He smiled as if from the depths of his soul.

Gorgeous.

So perhaps they would stay here, blacksmith and musician; perhaps there were indeed deeper secrets to be revealed.

I love this idea - Teague and Will together, discovering the mysteries there. It really fits, somehow. A proper ending for them both.

And somewhere, without tune, without words, a song is ready to be sung.

And we're back to the beginning again. Of course. :-)

There aren't words, ladies. A fabulous, marvelous, wonderful end to a masterfully told tale. This was quite an undertaking - thanks for seeing it through to the end. :-)

Posted by: tuesday_suit (tuesday_suit)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
Hand up

And I just read the article you linked to in your notes - WOW.

Maybe God really isn't some scowling gay-hating deity raining down guilt and judgment and fear on all humankind after all.

Maybe she's actually, you know, a throb, a pulse, a song, deep, complex, eternal. And us, well, we're just bouncing and swaying along as best we can, trying to figure out the goddamn melody.


Holy carp. That was gorgeous. A big "yeah, THAT" to everything there. :-)

Posted by: Lady Di (lady_di75)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)

Posted by: tuesday_suit (tuesday_suit)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)

Posted by: awickedwench (awickedwench)
Posted at: August 20th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
J/E compass

“I’ll sail with you a while, Captain Sparrow,” she whispered against his lips. “Where is it we shall go?”

He smiled as if from the depths of his soul “Wherever the wind blows us, love. Wherever the wind blows…”


What an incredible journey you've taken us on! I know I've said this is the AWE I would have wanted to see; not only because of the J/E pairing. But because the characters were fully developed and storylines carried through--making for a masterpiece of a story. And with every twist and turn, you leave us wanting more. Brava, ladies! I'm sad to see this one end....

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Redux - Jones

Oh thank you so much. :) I'm really pleased you've enjoyed our take on AWE so much (we're rather fond of it ourselves!) and thank you for taking the time to comment so frequently, we've really enjoyed reading your comments. :)

It's been such fun to write and post, a truly exciting experience. Thank you for all your support, it's meant a lot. :)

Posted by: lady_linnet (lady_linnet)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
sparrabeth because:

Guh. Guh. Guh.

Too beautiful - my official AWE canon.

Guh. ♥

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Redux - Pawn

Thank you! That's such a fab compliment. So glad you enjoyed the ending, and thanks so much for your constant support throughout! It's meant a lot to us. :)

Posted by: blacklilac17 (blacklilac17)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)

Thanks for the porn! Long time in coming! Anyways, it was a WONDERFUL story and I loved it to death, just wish AWE had really been like that! I'm so glad Jack and Lizzie are together!!

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Redux - Tyrant

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the porn in the end! ;) Thanks so much for reading it all, and for commenting so frequently - we've enjoyed your comments and your support. :)

Cheers! :)

Posted by: Lady Di (lady_di75)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
destiny

Wow -- this story is definitely among my favorite three or four PotC epics. It was so satisfactory in every way... the beauty of the language and storytelling, the love for the characters, the way you succeeded in tying up the loose ends the way that the original did not.

Barbossa's farewell... loved it: Freedom and the wind in his hair would serve him now, and he’d never again be enslaved to the devil of greed.

Teague and Jack's reunion was an absolute necessity, and beautifully done, as well as the bonds forged between Teague and Will here. What an amazingly satisfying take on Will's 'destiny'... so elemental and mysterious in the epilogue.

I was especially chilled by Elizabeth's reaction to the literal and figurative blood on her hands... and, in addition, quite warmed by the promised 'payoff'!! I have no words -- it was just perfect, and I really hope that this is not the end of your AWE universe. There was such promise in the way you describe Elizabeth's uncertainty, even as she knows that wherever she goes, it will be with Jack. *sigh*

Hugs and kisses and drinks all around, girls -- you both deserve them :)

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 22nd, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
Redux - Pawn

Thank you! I'm so glad this final chapter worked for you, and felt satisfying.

We've really enjoyed working on this, and I could certainly see setting another story in this universe. So who knows? ;)

Thanks as always for your very generous comments, we've been so grateful for your support throughout our posting of this epic! :)

Posted by: doc_3 (doc_3)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)

Unbelievable. Absolutely phenomenal. I don't really have the words to tell you both how much I loved this. You brought Jack and Elizabeth together in such a beautiful and true way. Thank you for sharing your vision.

Posted by: SalR323 (salr323)
Posted at: August 22nd, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
Redux - ship

Thank you! So pleased that you liked the resolution in the end. :) And thanks so much for taking the time to comment throughout, we really appreciate you taking the time. :)

Cheers!

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