“It’s your birthday?”
With a groan, Jack lets his forehead drop to the desk. “How did you find out?”
“Captain Teague told me.”
Oh, that bloody traitor is going to pay for this.
“Well, he shouldn’t have.” He stands up so fast his chair almost topples over, and without even looking at her he exits their cabin — our cabin, ours, us, those are pronouns he is allowed to use now, and even through his annoyance he can’t repress the pleasant tingle of warmth in his chest. But anyway, the rum cellar is calling to him.
“Wait, where are you going? Jack, we have to celebrate!” Any other day, he’d be delighted by her enthusiasm and grabbing onto the opportunity to tease her, but this is a serious matter and for once, just this once, he wishes she would leave him alone.
“There’s nothing to celebrate, love,” as much as he doesn’t regret the words, he hopes the cutting tone of his voice did not offend her. He’s doesn’t want to lose her forever, just for a couple of hours, just until midnight.
“What do you mean there’s nothing to celebrate? It’s your birthday!” She sounds frustrated now, the little wrinkle between her brows warns him that there’s a storm coming. He just fixes his gaze ahead and marches onward, hoping against hope that she’ll drop it.
“So what? It’s a day like any other, it means nothing.”
The scoff that leaves her mouth is quite possibly the most impressive one he’s ever heard, “Jack?!” She stares at him, shaking her head incredulously, walking slower until she’s practically talking to the back of his head. “Two months ago you spared no expense for my birthday!” Then she takes hold of his hand in both of her small ones, effectively stopping his escape because he is pathetically unable to pull away from her touch.
She tugs at him, trying to get him to turn around. “Just as it was important to you to celebrate my existence, it’s important to me to celebrate yours,” and she says it so earnestly that he can’t help thinking this is it. He might be able to fend off for a couple more minutes, but in the end he’ll do whatever she wants, as always.
“Well, you do know how to sweet talk a man, don’t you, Mrs. Sparrow?”
“Captain Sparrow. King, actually, but just because it’s your birthday we can drop the title.”
He can hear the smile in her voice, can picture it across her face, her eyes gleaming with triumph, yes, isn’t that a lovely sight? But he can’t bring himself to turn around yet. If he’s going to submit to whatever form of celebration she comes up with, he’ll need a moment of solitude in the rum cellar to steel himself.
“What’s the matter, Jack?” She comes to stand in front of him, his hand still trapped in between hers. “What’s so wrong with it being your birthday?”
He sighs in defeat, turning his head away to stare at the docks, to avoid her gaze. “How old did you turn two months ago, Lizzie?”
“Twenty five,” she half asks, and he can imagine her frown deepening.
“How old do you think I turn today?”
For a long moment there’s only silence, then there’s a scoff even more impressive than the first. “Is that what this is about?”
“You haven’t answered the question.” He finally turns to her, wanting to be done with this conversation as soon as possible. She gapes at him like she can’t believe he’s serious, but she still doesn’t answer because she doesn’t know. He’s gone to great lengths to avoid the topic of his age coming up, and right now she’s realizing that she’s married to a man whose age she doesn’t know. He feels somewhat guilty, now that he thinks of it, but not enough to regret it.
“Jack,” she pleads. Why are you doing this? her eyes seem to ask.
“Make a guess.”
“Jack!” She drops his hand, and he feels like something inside of him dies even though she’s still here, she’s not leaving him yet. “Do you really think I care about something like that?” You should, he wants to say but his throat is suddenly too dry for speech. “Do you really think I didn’t realize how much older than me you are, even without knowing your actual age? You don’t look as young as you seem to think you do!” Her lips are pursed and he can tell she’s holding back laughter, which he takes as a good sign.
But for all that he wants to follow her lead and let the matter fade off into a joke, he still needs to ask, just once, so he can put it to rest. “You really don’t care that I almost double your age?”
“You could be turning sixty for all I care!” She throws her arms in the air in exasperation, but when she continues she can’t quite hold off her laughter. “I don’t give bloody damn if you never want to tell me the exact number, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change the way I feel about you!”
That settles it then. “And what is this way you feel about me?” he snakes his arms around her waist, fighting without much success the dopey grin that wants to take over his face.
“You should be able to tell. I married you, didn’t I?”
“Aye, that you did, and to my eternal astonishment.”
She laughs that quiet, contented laugh that always convinces him she’s truly happy, that he is truly making her happy. Then she lets herself be kissed once, twice, before pushing him away.
“Now if you’ll excuse me I have a party to organize. Go hide out in the rum cellar, though, I want it to be a surprise.”
The nerve of the woman! to order him away now that he doesn’t want to be left alone! He opens his mouth to protest but she raises a warning finger, giving him her patented Pirate King look and he’s lost, he’s too charmed by his beautiful pirate wife and he can do nothing but obey.
Before she leaves, though, she stops to murmur in his ear all the wonderful rewards he’ll be getting for his compliance later tonight.
Mmm yes, birthdays are definitely good, he thinks. Maybe he’ll have to buy Teague a barrel of rum instead of punching him after all.