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[ good man ]
by kHo

There were few things in life that made Bootstrap Bill Turner truly smile. The sunlight reflecting off the water as the wind swept through his long and unkempt hair. The trail of the moon glistening at him when he was on night watch. Catching enough fish to feed the whole crew, despite the holes and the tears in his netting. And last, but certainly not least, that drunken swagger of Jack Sparrow´s when his feet were pointed in Bill´s direction.

“Should be asleep, Cap´n,’ Bill said, stepping back from his post and grinning at Jack. “Late as
It is.’

Jack frowned and waved his hand haphazardly around, shaking his head. “Can´t sleep, mate,’ he said, sidling up to the railing and peering over it. “Sides,’ he continued, looking back and grinning at Bill. “No man should be alone on a fine night like this.’

Bill walked up beside him, reaching over and taking the half gone bottle of rum out of Jack´s hands. “Least of all sober, aye Cap´n?’

Jack´s lips pursed as he watched Bill turn the bottle of Rum up into his mouth. He reached out as soon as Bill lowered it and snatched it back. “Bad practice t´be stealin´ your Captain´s rum, love,’ he said, cradling it close to his chest. “S´my bottle, me very own. Crate full of ‘em in the gallows.’

Bill laughed, leaning against the railing and watching Jack watch him suspiciously. “Can´t leave my post, Cap´n.’

Jack sighed, looking longingly down at his bottle for a moment before reaching over and clasping Bill´s hands around it. “S´pose I can share, Bill,’ he said, raising a finger and lowering his voice. “But just this once, an´ only with you.’

“Aye, Jack, secret´s safe with me,’ Bill said, neglecting to mention that fact that this was neither the first, nor would it be the last, time Jack deemed Bill worthy of sharing said precious Rum with.

Jack sighed, crouching down to a squat and sitting Indian style before Bill, looking up at him with a petulant frowned. “Can´t sleep, Bill.’

“The moon speakin´ to ya,’ Bill asked, lowering himself in front of his captain, sitting opposite of him.

Jack shrugged, taking the bottle Bill handed to him and peering at it in the moonlight. 2/3rds gone now. “Dunno,’ he said with another shrug, taking a large gulp and handing it back to Bill. “Tell your captain a story, Bill,’ he said, smiling and nodding. “Tha´s an order!’

Bill laughed. “A story, aye?’

“Aye,’ Jack said, leaning forward, his hands dipping down to play with the loose ends of Bill´s breeches.

Bill watched Jack´s fingers pluck and twist the ends of his trouser legs, wondering to himself just what it was rendered Jack unable to keep his hands to himself. “What story shall I tell you?’

Jack waved his hand around. “Anything, Bill. True, false, pretty, ugly. A story. Tell me a story.’

“Well,’ Bill said, frowning and reaching up to scratch his beard. “There once was a boy named Jack…’

Jack laughed. “And a handsome boy he was.’

“He was indeed,’ Bill said with a grave nod.

“But he wasn´t a boy. He was a man. A strong, courageous man. A wise man. A man not to be trifled with…’

Bill frowned. “Is this your story, or mine, Cap'n?’

Jack grinned, leaning back on his hands. “Sorry, love. Go on.’

“But before he was a strong, courageous, and wise man, he was a boy,’ Bill said. “Jus´ like the rest o´ us scallywags.’

“Perhaps not Koehler though,’ Jack said with a shudder. “Man gives me the shudder, he does.’

Bill raised an eyebrow. “Jack.’

Jack laughed, waving a hand. “Go on!’

“And this boy, this handsome young boy, had a fascination with the ever-changin´ seas,’ he said, smiling softly as Jack´s eyes lit up when he called him handsome. “Could feel the change in the winds, feel the itch in his skin to be out there. Out there on the waves, with the salt in his lungs and the wind in his hair.’

Bill paused to take another drag on the bottle of Rum and frowned when he realized it was empty. He tossed it over the side of the ship and cleared his throat to continue. “An´ he says to himself, ‘I´m gonna be out there one day.´ He says ‘that´ll be me, out there on the waves, with the dolphins and the sparklin´ sun and the birds flyin´ o´er head.´ An´ he was right, wasn´t he, Jack?’

Jack nodded, his eyes wide with rapture. “Aye,’ he whispered.

“But he wasn´t always happy, was he,’ Bill said, his voice low and quiet.

Jack shook his head. “No.’

“But he was when he was on the sea. He was with his feet planted square on a stretch of wood, on a boat that tossed over the curls of white foam.’ Bill leaned back against the railing, propping his feet up with his knees bent. “Felt at home with the sea, with nature itself. Like a bird, flyin´ free through the trees and the wind, from land to land.’

Jack shook his head. “When I said tell a story, I didn´t expect it to be so pretty, Bill,’ he said softly.

Bill shrugged. “S´the moonlight.’

Jack breathed out slowly. “Is there more?’

Bill nodded. “Course there´s more. There´s adventure to come, and gold to have. There´s freedom to pursue and love to be had. Mountains and skies and seas yet to be discovered. Many things yet to be seen, Jack,’ he said, grinning. “But that part of the story hasn´t happened yet.’

Jack sighed, bending his head down and frowning as he fiddled with the rings adorning his fingers. “Bill, have ya ever been in love?’

Bill laughed. “Aye, Jack. A million times over.’

Jack nodded. “Not with the sea, mate. With a person.’

Bill´s smile faded. “Abigail.’

Jack´s eyes shot up. “Abigail?’

Bill nodded, leaning forward. “A woman who´s name you´ll not hear pass these lips again.’

Jack frowned. “Broke your heart?’

Bill shook his head. “It was I that broke hers. And our son´s.’

Jack´s eyebrows shot up high enough and fast enough to cause Bill to laugh again. “A son,’ Jack whispered, leaning forward. “Bill, you´re telling you´ve got…’

“A son, yes, Jack,’ Bill said, sighing and leaning his head against the wood behind him. “William.’

Jack smiled softly. “Just like his father.’

“He´ll never be like me, Jack,’ Bill said, staring up at the starry sky above him. “Not if I´ve anything to say about it.’

Jack scuffled on his knees to sit beside Bill, leaning a shoulder into him. “Well I hope he´s like you, least a little,’ he said, grinning. “You´re a good man, Bill Turner.’

Bill smiled. “I know you think so. Abigail thought otherwise when I told her the ocean called to me.’ He sighed, shrugging. “S´pose it´s better for the boy though, without me around. Can´t give him the itch for the ocean if I´m not there, can I?’

Jack frowned, looking away. “I got it, didn´t I,’ he said softly. “All by me onsies, no one to teach it to me.’

Bill smiled, looking at Jack and reaching out to tug on a loose curl. “You´re the first person I´ve told that to, Jack,’ he said. “Not even sure why I did.’

Jack smiled, leaning his head back against the wood behind him. “How´s about I tell you a story this go ‘round, Bill,’ he said, shifting his eyes to look at him. “How´s that?’

Bill laughed. “Aye.’

“Once there was a scallywag who really wasn´t much of a scallywag,’ Jack started, grinning. “Oh, sure, he was a pirate, and a right good one. Knew how to draw a sword with the best of ‘em an all. Killed his fair share of men that had the fool head to get in his way.’

Bill laughed. “Jack…’

“S´your story or mine, mate,’ Jack said, glaring at him mockingly.

Bill raised his hands in surrender. “Go on.’

“Ole Bill… Bill was his name, see,’ he said, quirking an eyebrow at him. “Ole Bill was a moody sort some of the time, y´see. Seemed to think he wasn´t that good of a man. Seemed to think he didn´t have much to offer the world, ‘cept for a pretty face…’ Jack paused, looking at Bill. “And it was quite pretty, that face o´his.’

Bill laughed. “Jack…’

Jack waved a hand in front of his face, making shushing sounds. “And maybe some thievery skills he could offer. Taught a couple o´ new dogs some old tricks, as it were,’ Jack continued. “Taught his very own Captain a few things, if the things I´ve heard are true.’

Bill nodded. “I´ve heard that tale too. Think it´s blown out of proportion.’

Jack frowned. “Thing you have to understand though, is Bill was a good man,’ he said softly. “Good heart, he had. Beautiful soul. Shone right through those eyes o´ his,’ he said, reaching out and resting a hand on the side of Bill´s face. “Made many a man think twice about his own actions just by bein´ disapproving.’

When Bill began to speak Jack laid his finger over Bill´s lips, raising an eyebrow at him. “Good pirate, ole Bill was, but he was a even better man,’ he said quietly, letting his hand fall to his lap. “An´ his Captain, so I´ve heard, thinks any son or daughter the whole world over would be lucky to have him as theirs.’

Bill smiled slightly, meeting Jack´s eyes. “His Captain was too, love,’ he said softly. “Not quite so good of a pirate as Bill was, but an even better man.’

Jack laughed, waving his hand dismissively. “Says you.’

“Aye,’ Bill said, grabbing Jack´s hand in his and bringing it to his chest. “Says I.’

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