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i. They Say He's a Liar
His smile is quick and wide, and the men like to talk to him. He drinks ale with them on hot summer nights and plays poker with them once the wives have gone to bed. They admire the blades he smelts for them, and they ask him for secrets of pirates that he never tells. He’s the most open enigma they’ve ever met, and always manages to tell them just enough to make them forget that he never tells them enough to satisfy their curiosity.
He’s kind and warm, and they trust their kids with him. He’s got two kids of his own, both boys, and he welcomes his neighbor’s kids to join them on any outings they go on. He teaches them how to hold a sword properly, and he jousts with them until they know which part of the blade to use on an attack versus defense. He takes them up to the bluff and tells them about stories of the sea. He sings them shanties, and he makes up stories for them to tell each other before bedtime.
He smells of salt and fire and labor, but is slow to lose his temper. He works long hours, but his kids are never neglected. He finds things for them to do in his shop when he’s too busy to entertain them himself. When a child of the town needs somewhere to go when he’s bored, Turner’s Smithery is the common answer. The parents know he would never hurt them, and they know he’d never let them hurt themselves, so they allow this man that’s really nothing but a stranger tend to their kids when they’re too busy.
The nights are reserved for him though. He tucks the kids in not long after dusk has settled and reads to them until their eyelids grow heavy. He tells them stories of their mother and Jack, sailing on the high seas. He tells them that their mother loves them very much and that she’ll be home when it’s turned cold again. They’re not old enough to question why their mother would leave them for eight months out of the year, but when they are he’ll have an answer for that as well.
In September when winter comes, so does Elizabeth. Tan and lean, she walks through the door with trinkets and gifts and nothing but smiles. She kisses Will with a tenderness that he knows is reserved for him alone and tells her husband that she’s dreamt of him every night. She plays with the kids and kisses their scrapes away with tender lips that only a mother can have. She tells them toned down fables of the sea and laughs with pleasure at eyes wide with awe. She’ll leave again in January, but for now there’s nowhere but here.
Jack follows closely behind and the kids call him Crazy Uncle Jack because that’s what Will calls him too. He walks with the same lilt, and talks with the same mumblings, and his eyes positively shine when the two Turner boys bound into his arms. He sneaks golden trinkets into their pockets when Will’s not looking, and winks at them that this is their secret like all the times before. He leaves soon after arriving, and Will explains that Crazy Uncle Jack can’t stay like their mother can because the sea is his home. The land is too still for him.
And in January Jack returns and whisks Elizabeth away to the sea again, and she always cries as she says goodbye to her kids and husband. Will knows she’ll stop when she feels the wind on her face, and she’ll write them when she can, and that’s enough for him. He’s got his smithery, and his children, and a part of Elizabeth that no one can touch, and that’s enough for him too.
But Will never has been and never will be a liar. He misses his Elizabeth when she is gone, true, but he’s never said otherwise. He wants her home with him and the kids more than she is, true, but he’s never said otherwise. He wishes he could be out there on the seas with her too, wishes they shared the same bed longer than four months. He’s never said otherwise on that point either, and so he’s not a liar.
All that matters is his kids, and his Elizabeth, and yes, even his Jack.
Will Turner is happy, so damn what the townspeople say.
ii. A Pirate's Life
Jack smiled at him, shrugging a shoulder. “Never was a land lover, Will,” he said, gold tooth glinting at him. “But I suppose one night wouldn’t go against me morals all that much.”
“Morals,” Will said, laughing and dropping his hand to his side, stepping back from Jack and smiling at him. “Wasn’t aware you had those.”
Jack reached out and grasped his chin in his hand. “Only ‘round you, love,” he said, winking. Looking past Will into the adjoining room he smiled at the blond haired child peering at him over the top of a table. “Hear that, Sam? Uncle Jack’s stayin’ the night!”
The child giggled and raced around the table, throwing himself at Jack with a force that nearly knocked the swaying pirate off his feet. Jack laughed and caught the child in a hug, standing and lifting the five year old into the air by his feet. “Reckon you can ‘ang on for a moment while your father an’ I have a word?”
Will reached out and cradled his son’s head in his hands, trying to frown at Jack as he lowered him gently to the ground. “Likely to crack his head open, Jack,” Will said, failing at the stern tone he tried to affect.
“That’s why you call him *Crazy* Uncle Jack, Dad,” Will’s eldest son James said from the doorway.
Jack frowned at the boy, bending down to reach out and tug on his ear. “Aren’t you a bit old to be callin’ me pet names? Shouldn’t a proper gentleman call me by my full title?”
“Crazy Uncle Jack *is* your full title,” he said, grinning up at him and kissing him on the cheek. Bounding around him, he headed back into the sitting room where their mother sat reading.
“How old is he,” Jack asked, frowning in deep concentration. “12?”
“9,” Will said, laughing. “You never did grasp the concept of time, did you?”
“9,” Jack said, standing and walking over to a chair and sitting down at their kitchen table. “Is that how long you two’ve been married? 9 years?”
“10, actually,” Will said, walking back over to the wooden stove and tending to the pot of soup. “Jack, we need to talk tonight.”
“Uh oh,” Jack said with a laugh, his fingers absentmindedly shuffling the playing cards left out on the table. “Mine ears hear trouble brewing in that brain o’ yours.”
“Not trouble,” Will said, frowning down into the pot. “Just a few questions.”
“Alright, love,” Jack said, standing and placing a hand on Will’s back as he bent over the pot to smell it. “While you’re playing wife to your lady, I’m going to go into town and tell the crew we’ll be stayin’ the night.”
“I’m not playing wife,” Will said, trying not to be annoyed at Jack’s propensity to mock his domesticity. “I’m just fixing--”
“No harm meant, dear William,” Jack said, placing a kiss to his temple and floating his way over to the door. “Be back before the dinner bell, aye?”
Will turned to tell him how long it would be but the man was gone. Grinning ruefully to himself he returned back to the pot, rehearsing the conversation he was dreading having with Jack in his head.
After dinner was served and bedtime stories were read, Will had all but convinced himself that the conversation he’d been practicing all day long didn’t need to happen after all. Elizabeth kissed him goodnight, and then Jack, and left them to their own devices. They sat outside on the porch and watched the waves break out in the ocean, sharing a bottle of Rum that Jack always brought with him when he returned Elizabeth to her home.
Jack lit a pipe and passed it to Will, winking at him and nudging his shoulder. “Let’s have at those questions then,” he said, grinning at Will’s surprise. “Thought I’d try to avoid them, did you?”
Will shrugged, taking a shallow drag off of the pipe, frowning as he felt the acrid smoke traverse down his lungs. “I did, yes.”
Jack leaned back, hooking an arm around the back of Will’s head and laying his own on the back of the bench. “Go on, then.”
Will sighed, closing his eyes. “Ya know, Jack, perhaps I should just leave it well enough alone.”
Jack tilted his head and opened one eye, looking at him with doubt. “I was joking earlier when I said I heard trouble, but I think perhaps I was more right than I intended.”
Will sighed again, looking finally at the man. He was older by eleven years since the first time he’d seen him, and the years hadn’t done him wrong. He was more weathered, and more chiseled, but more beautiful than ever. “Jack, did you sleep with Elizabeth?”
Jack’s eyes widened slightly before settling back into that lazy gaze he had down so well. “Thought that was of the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ sort, Will,” he said, quirking an eyebrow up.
Will sighed, feeling his insides beginning to eat him alive again. “Jack, I need to know. Have you slept with my wife?”
Jack turned his gaze back out to the expansive black ocean and frowned, nodding his head. “Aye, Will. I have.”
Will nodded, having expected this answer. “Do you love her?”
Jack turned his head to look at Will. “You know I do.”
“No,” Will said, shaking his head. “Do you truly, deeply, love her as I do?”
Jack sat up straighter, all traces of humor wiped from his face. “What’s this about, Will?”
“Just answer Jack,” Will said, his voice sounding lifeless even to his own ears. “Do you?”
“No,” Jack said, his voice as low and serious as Will had ever heard it. “Honestly.”
“Okay,” Will said, taking a deep breath and letting it out. Raising the bottle of rum to his lips he took a deep swig and handed it back to Jack. “Okay.”
Jack watched him in silence for a moment, his eyes calculating. “Will,” he said softly after a few moments, reaching out and resting a light hand on his arm. “What’s this about?”
“She’s gone 8 months of the year, Jack,” Will said, lifting his hands in helplessness. “And I’m fine with it, honestly. I am. I’m happy. I love her, and I love our children, and I do right by both of them. She wouldn’t be happy here year round, I know that. She’s happy at sea, and she comes home to us every year, and I know she loves us.”
Jack nodded, lifting his hand to Will’s neck and kneading his shoulders lightly. “Go on.”
“But sometimes I wonder,” Will said, turning his eyes to meet Jack’s. “If she wouldn’t be happier just you and her, without me to weigh her down into coming back home.”
Jack shook his head, leaning back in surprise. “Will, she loves you. Not to mention her kids. She comes home of her own accord. You do not weigh her down into coming home, she chooses to.”
“Yes,” Will said, nodding his head and looking down at his hands. “But out of longing, or out of a sense of what’s the right thing to do?”
“Oh, love,” Jack said, his voice soft and caring as he reached up and ran his fingers through Will’s hair. “You’re too bloody sensitive, you know that?”
Will laughed, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I do.”
“There’s no one she loves more than you, Will,” Jack said, leaning closer to Will, his lips hovering just below Will’s ear. “An’ she might sleep with me on that ship one month out of the year, or occupy another man’s bed some other part of the year, but it’s your heart holds to her vest every night.” He rested his forehead to Will’s and smiled. “This is the part of our arrangement I knew would stick with you. I tried to tell you before now, but you never wanted to hear me. ‘Don’t tell me, Jack,’ you’d say. ‘Elizabeth deserves to be happy with or without me, but I don’t want to hear it,’ you’d say.”
“I know,” Will said, squeezing his eyes shut to block out the pain threatening to come pouring out of him. “But--”
“Shhh, I know love,” Jack said, pressing his lips to Will’s temple and smiling into his hair. “But it’s you she comes home to. You she belongs to.”
“Last summer,” Will said, his breath coming in shallow as he tried to control his emotions, his voice heavy with hurt. “When she came home early,” he continued, sighing and leaning his head into Jack’s lips, taking comfort from the very man that he was hurt by. “She called out your name.”
Jack blinked in surprise, pulling his head back slightly. “My name?”
Jack frowned. “For what? Why did she--”
“Jack,” Will said, his voice begging him to understand. For him to not have to spell it out.
“Oh,” Jack breathed, frowning and biting his lip. “That’s a most inopportune moment.”
Will tried not to laugh at that, but he failed. It turned quickly to one that was nearly hysterical, but it felt good to laugh. “To state it mildly.”
“And you’ve been holding this in for over a year now,” Jack asked, raising his eyebrows.
Will nodded. “I didn’t know how to broach the subject.”
Jack lifted his hand and held Will’s cheek with it, looking him directly in the eyes. “Will, if you want me to refuse--”
“I just need to know you don’t love her, Jack,” Will said, feeling the tears well up again despite his will to push them down. “I need to know that I’m not depriving you both of happiness.”
“I love her Will,” Jack said softly, smiling. “I love her as much as Gibbs, as much as Sam, as much as Jamie. She’s part of my heart, Will,” he said, nodding. “But I don’t love her as you do. That part of me is reserved for things I’ll never have.”
“What things you’ll never have,” Will asked, his voice sounding almost pleading. “Jack, you could have whatever you wanted, if you just let yourself.”
Jack smiled ruefully and shook his head, his hand dropping from Will’s cheek. “I’m a pirate Will. Take what I want, give nothing back.” He held up a finger and his grin widened. “An’ I do, mind you. I take what I want, and I don’t give anything back. Least, without a fight I don’t. But what you have to realize is that, life as a pirate? There’s nothing you really get to call your own. Not if you’re smart anyway.”
“Who do you love, Jack,” Will asked, looking at him through a sheen of tears. “Who do you want to call your own?”
“I thought you knew, love,” Jack said, smiling sadly at him, reaching out a hand and running it through Will’s hair again. “But Elizabeth’s a pirate too. An’ she’s gone and taken what she’s wanted, an’ that’s you. And I really don’t think she’ll be givin’ it to me any time soon.”
Will’s breath caught in his throat as Jack’s hand left a warm trail of tingles down his neck. “Me,” he asked, clearing his throat as it came out as a croak. “It’s me you love.”
“Aye,” Jack said with a small smile, leaning forward and kissing Will lightly on the mouth, lingering only for a moment. “But I can’t have you.”
“Will, it’s something I’ve reconciled with long before now,” Jack said, pointing a finger up at him. “Don’t go feeling sorry for Ol’ Cap’n Jack, he’s got a good life. A life he’s happy with.”
“A pirate’s life,” Will whispered.
“That’s it exactly, Will,” Jack said with a smile, sitting back on the bench and hooking his arm around Will’s neck, pulling him closer to him. “We’re devils and black sheep, an’ really bad eggs. Drink up, me hearties, yo ho.”
Will smiled, leaning his head into Jack’s shoulder. “Jack, I’ve told you I love you, right?”
“In so many words, yes,” Jack said, smiling down at the man he’d always think of as a lad. “And I you.”
iii. My Turn
The only answer he gave Jack when he finally got around to asking him later that afternoon was ‘it’s my turn,’ and who was Jack to argue with logic like that? He smiled at the boy, threw an arm around him, and steered him to Elizabeth’s usual sleeping quarters. Before Jack left him he stopped him with a hand on his arm and smiled. ‘I’m 30 years old, Jack. It’s my turn.’
He brought with him stories of his children, which all of the crew were anxious to hear. The eldest boy was now 11, and learning how to fence almost as well as his father. He’d developed a crush on one of the town’s girls that was his age, and Will smiled with pride at how gallant his son turned out to be. His youngest was still too young to be a suitor, but he had every faith he’d be just as successful.
He also brought swords, three of them. He’d made them on his own, and especially for Jack and Gibbs. Gibbs had thanked him and immediately challenged anyone daring to risk it to a battle, smiling in confidence that a Turner Blade would defeat anyone’s poor impersonation of one. Jack thanked him with a wink and a kiss to the temple, and a smile that made him feel satisfied in a deep corner of his soul.
By the end of the week it was easy to forget that Will hadn’t sailed with the crew of the Pearl the whole time. He was right there with the rest of them, sweating in the sun, drinking in the dusk, and retiring in the evening to fall asleep before head met pillow. The men on board flocked to his side to learn of his home life, and he spoke in a wistful tone that made them miss their own homes, despite the fact that there had been a reason to leave them in the first place.
Jack kept a wary eye on him, though, knowing there was more to the reason behind Will’s decision to sail with them this year. Elizabeth had let on the last time he’d dropped her home that Will had been growing weary of her spending so much time away from home. She’d told him that Will never said it, but there was a dullness in his eyes when she came home that never used to be there. The longing and sadness that used to see her off every year had now been replaced by a stoic acceptance that almost scared her.
She feared his love for her was waning, being replaced by twelve years of being left for exciting adventures at the sea with an even more exciting captain. She told Jack that when she had called his name out two years before, she feared a part of Will had given up that day. He hadn’t told her till a year after it happened, after having told Jack, but she didn’t doubt it was true. The acceptance in his eyes when he’d told her was what put her on edge. ‘It’s as if he doesn’t care anymore if I love him,’ she’d told Jack. ‘As though it doesn’t matter any more.’
Jack had left it at that, but he’d had to battle down a familiar flickering of anger at her words. He’d wanted to growl at her that of course he’d given up hope by now. He wanted to berate her for leaving that wonderful husband of hers at home all these years, taking it for granted that he’d remain true at heart to her. That he’d never lose faith, and that he’d always love her with the veracity of the young man that had saved her from dead pirates years before. ‘Of course, he’s given up,’ he’d wanted to say. ‘You’ve given him no reason to not.’
He didn’t say it though, because he knew what might come after it. What might come after it was the unleashing of years of bitterness that he’d tried to not feel towards her. He knew that he might wind up opening the door to hating her for having what he wanted and not appreciating it properly. He might tell her he was in love with the man she left 8 months out of the year, and that he hated himself for allowing her to by providing a vessel for her. For hurting Will by association. For propagating the deterioration of what was once an innocent, naïve, truly wonderful soul.
So he kept his mouth shut, and kept his door the same. He no longer accepted her into his bed, no matter how angry she might be in the morning. With every knock on his door his conscience hammered home the fact that he too, of his own accord, had betrayed Will. He’d allowed her into his bedroom and he’d kissed her and held her, and made love to her, despite the fact that it was Will he dreamed of. Despite the fact that while Will knew it somewhere in that brain of his, that it would hurt when he found out the truth.
When it came time for him to return to Tortuga after Will confronted him about it, he almost had passed it up. He hadn’t because he remembered the love in Will’s eyes when he looked at him, and he knew that Will would be disappointed if he didn’t at least visit. He thought of little Sam and Jamie, and he’d decided to go to Tortuga if for no other reason than to see them one last time. Will had laughed at him when he’d asked if he wanted him to leave Elizabeth behind this time, and Jack had allowed her to return once more to the Black Pearl.
He had to admit to himself though, that despite the bitterness that ate away at him when he thought of Elizabeth and Will, he still loved the girl. She was firey and passionate, and too much like Jack himself for him to truly feel any ill-will towards her. He’d allowed Elizabeth on his ship initially because it was what Will had asked of him. In the years to follow, he’d come to realize that Elizabeth truly was a pirate at the core of her, and he’d come to appreciate her as a crewmember.
And now it was Will aboard his ship, and he was having unwelcome feelings of regret that it hadn’t been Will all along. He knew it was wrong, and not what Will had wanted, but it was what he truly felt. He cared for Elizabeth, and he’d never let anything happen to her, and he’d feel sorrow if anything ever should. He liked having her aboard his ship, and knew she was an asset. He’d always wished it had been Will instead, though.
Every night he and Will sat in his quarters and talked into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes sleeping only four hours any given night. Will seemed happy and alive when he was on deck, but Jack couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing from the picture. He tried to place it, tried to ask Will what he was hiding, but Will just smiled and laughed at him. ‘You’re too jaded, Jack,’ he’d say. ‘Nothing’s wrong. Just my turn, is all.’
Four weeks into the trip they docked on an island just off the coast of England. The majority of the crew got off the ship to go into town for some much needed debauchery, leaving Jack and Will alone on board. Jack had told him to go but Will had shaken his head, saying he’d rather spend the time catching up with Jack. He’d told Will they’d had four weeks of catching up, but Will had smiled and said they had yet more still to do.
They sat on deck hours after the sun had set, the night only pierced by a small lantern placed on the table between the two of them. They drank Rum and played cards, talking and laughing, forgetting that they’d ever been apart. Jack remarked that Will had certainly developed a tolerance for Rum and Will had winked at him, reminding him that 13 years of experience was behind him by now.
In the middle of a hand Jack had gotten up to go to the side of the ship, taking a leak over the side. Laughing to himself he thought about whether or not mermaids existed and whether or not they appreciated his contribution to their water. He’d returned to the table minutes later to find it empty, Will’s cards held in place by a flask of Rum. He waited a few minutes before deciding to go look for him, finding him in his room.
“Is this the same hat you’ve had all these years,” Will asked, picking up his tricorn hat from his desk of drawers and placing it on his head. “The same one you had when we first met?”
“Aye,” Jack said, walking forward and smiling at the boy. “Looks better on you though, I’d say.”
Will’s smile was wide and easy as he took the hat off and placed it on Jack’s head, nodding in satisfaction. “No. Definitely yours.”
Jack smiled and reached up to place a hand on his hat, winking at Will. Taking it off he tossed it back to its place on his desk of drawers and motioned behind him. “There’s a game of poker still waiting to be won. Shall we?”
Will frowned, turning away from Jack and walking slowly around his room. He stood and looked at a tear in Jack’s covers. “I’ve given Elizabeth an ultimatum,” he said quietly, turning to look at Jack, smiling softly.
Jack raised an eyebrow at him, leaning against the wall behind him. “So then all this talk about nothing being wrong-- about this simply being your turn--”
“Hogwash,” Will said, shrugging and laughing, sitting down on Jack’s bed. “Wasn’t ready to tell you yet.”
Jack nodded slowly, walking to where Will sat and sitting next to him. “All ears, mate.”
Will laughed, lying back on the bed and placing his fingers laced together on his stomach as he studied Jack’s ceiling. “Told her I wouldn’t have it anymore. Told her this taking off for 8 months a year wasn’t going to cut it any longer.” He frowned, shrugging. “Which I know is unfair of me, but it’s how I feel.”
“S’not unfair of you, Will,” Jack said softly, resting a hand lightly on Will’s leg. “Seems more ‘n fair to me.”
“It’s not,” Will said, shaking his head. “It was part of our agreement. She and I made a pact 12 years ago that this is how it would be.”
“12 years,” Jack said, raising an eyebrow. “Long enough to realize a few mistakes, wouldn’t you say?”
Will smiled, laughing lightly. “Suppose so, yes.”
“So this ultimatum,” Jack asked, running a thumb comfortingly across Will’s thigh. “What was it?”
Will’s eyes flicked towards him, looking suddenly 18 once again. “That she leave for good, or stay for good. No in between.”
Jack nodded, his thumb still running lightly over Will’s thigh absentmindedly. He was vaguely aware that it was a maneuver that could be taken wrongly, or correctly as it were, but figured Will would know what he intended it to be. “And you’ve come this go ‘round to give her time to let it sink in.”
“Aye,” Will said in a sigh. “I figure 8 months is enough time for her to realize what staying home will truly be for her.”
“Also,” Jack said with a wry smile. “What it feels like to be left alone to fend for herself and your two kids.”
“That too,” Will answered, smiling softly and sitting up, placing a hand on Jack’s as he looked at him. “But that’s not all.”
Jack nodded for him to continue, frowning when Will didn’t. “What else then, love?”
“It honestly *is* my turn,” Will said, his voice pitching slightly lower as he shifted closer still to Jack. “My turn to throw caution to the wind. To grasp what I wish I could have but know I shouldn’t, consequences be damned.”
Unwilling to let himself interpret what he thought Will was saying Jack stared at Will for a good while before opening his mouth to speak. “What exactly are you saying, Will,” he asked softly, pulling back away from Will’s suddenly too close proximity.
Will’s thin blacksmith fingers wound in Jack’s shirt, pulling him closer to him, his eyes meeting Jack’s fully. “I’m drawn to you, Jack,” he said, licking his lips as his eyes swept over the pirate’s face. “Always have been, since I first met you.”
Will shook his head, silencing Jack with a look that took his breath away. It was a look of passion, and want, and need, and something along the lines of love that was perhaps more than brotherly. “I’ve thought of you, Jack. In that way. In the way I’ve thought about Elizabeth. In the way I thought I’d *only* think of Elizabeth in,” he said, nodding his head as Jack began to shake his. “Look at my eyes, Jack. I’m being truthful.”
Jack’s mouth opened once or twice before words would come out, and when they did they weren’t said in as strong of a voice as he’d intended. “You don’t, Will. You don’t mean it. You’re saying this because you’re hurt, you’re wounded, by what Elizabeth has done, by what Elizabeth and I have done--”
“This is separate,” Will said softly, his hand creeping up Jack’s shirt to his neck, brushing lightly over Jack’s jutting Adam’s apple and across his collarbone. “This is about me and you, not me and Elizabeth, or you and Elizabeth. Me and you.”
Jack’s lips pierced together, fear and anger coursing through him. “Will, you don’t know what you’re saying,” he said, his voice coming out harsh and bitter. “You have to think about what you’re saying, because you’re messing with emotions now, boy.” He lowered his voice to a whisper despite the fact that they were the only two on board that night. “You know how I feel about you. You know, Will.”
Will’s certainty flickered for a moment as he looked down, but fingers continued their path into Jack’s hair. “I didn’t intend to make you feel as though I were messing with your emotions, Jack,” he said. “I don’t think I’m expressing myself very well.”
“Well then clarify,” Jack spat out, unsure of whether or not the shakes that were beginning to coarse through his body were of nerves or anger.
Will looked at him, his eyes sad. “I love you, Jack,” he said, shaking his head. “Don’t you know I wouldn’t intentionally hurt you?”
“Don’t avoid the topic at hand, Will,” Jack said, pulling back slightly, almost regretting it as Will’s hand slipped from his neck. “Answer my question-- clarify what you mean.”
“I’d die for you,” Will said quietly. “I would have died for you the day you were to be hanged, and I still would. I didn’t know what that meant then, and I don’t know what it means now. I only know it means I love you.” He paused, pulling up his legs onto the bed and sitting Indian-style. “But last year when you told me, made it clear for me, how you felt for me, I’ve been able to think of little else.”
“I didn’t tell you to get anything from you, love,” Jack said softly, leaning against his bedpost and peering at him through half closed eyes.
Will laughed, surprising the older man. “I know that, Jack.” Putting his hands on Jack’s knees he pulled, closing the distance between them once again. “I’ve thought about you, in ways I never allowed myself to. I thought about what it might be like to kiss you. What it might be like to feel you-- naked, and next to me.”
Jack felt his heart thud in his toes and wondered how it was possible for the room to have gone so still despite the waves rocking the ship. Looking into Will’s eyes he saw a lust he knew his own echoed and he shook his head. “Have you,” he asked, needing to hear it again.
Will nodded, taking Jack’s hand in his and bringing it to his lips, smiling almost shyly as he kissed it. “I know it’s not proper for a man to kiss another man’s hand, Jack,” he said, holding it to his chest. “But that’s the point. You’re not another man to me.”
“I most certainly am a man, Will,” Jack said, his eyebrows pinching together. “I may sway a bit when I walk but--”
“You’re not *just* another man to me,” Will clarified, holding up a hand for Jack to quiet. “You’re much more than that.”
“An you as well,” Jack whispered, staring wide eyed at the boy in front of him.
“Don’t you remember what you said, Jack,” Will said, smiling and leaning forward slightly, his nose inches away from Jack’s face. “Take what you want, give nothing back? Damn the consequences, do what your will tells you?”
Jack nodded. “But in certain situations, Will, the consequences aren’t worth the--”
“These are,” Will said softly, leaning closer still. “Because what matters won’t change. I’ll still care for you, even if I learn it’s not in this way.”
“And if it is,” Jack asked, his eyes drifting nearly closed. “What if it is?”
Will frowned slightly. “Then it is what it is.”
Jack shook his head. “No, Will, because then you’re faced with the same problem you are now. I can’t stay in Tortuga, Will. Elizabeth may, but I can’t.”
Will nodded. “I know.”
Jack frowned. “And what of that?”
“Because I’ll still have Elizabeth,” Will said, leaning back slightly and looking at Jack. “Where before I had no one.”
Jack shook his head, smiling slightly. “And me, Will? What will I have?”
The utter devastation that passed over Will’s face at that comment almost made Jack wish he could take it back out of the air. There was doubt in Will’s eyes where there had been determination and assuredness, and he dropped Jack’s hand. “I honestly hadn’t thought of that, Jack.”
“I know,” Jack said, leaning forward and laying his hand on Will’s cheek, cupping it as Will leaned into it. “I also said, once upon a time, that that’s just part of the job, didn’t I,” he asked, smiling. “Nothing to truly call my own. Burden of the life I’ve chosen?”
Will’s eyes widened slightly as Jack leaned forward even more, his head jerking back slightly before Jack kissed him. “Jack--”
“S’worth it to me, Will,” Jack said, reaching up to grasp the boy’s face in his hands and kissing him lightly at first. “I’d rather have you once then not at all, but only if you’re sure,” he said, looking seriously at him. “Only if you’re certain this is what you want.”
Will’s hand rose to rest on the outside of Jack’s, holding his hands in place. “I’m certain, Jack.”
Jack nodded, his eyes sweeping over Will’s face. “I’ve dreamed of this time and time again, you know that?”
“Me too,” Will whispered, his eyelids lowering as he looked into Jack’s eyes, drawn into the endless depths.
And finally, after thirteen years of unrequited longing, Jack felt what it was like to kiss the young passionate son of Bootstrap Bill Turner. His lips were soft, and his tongue lithe and assured, winding lazily in time to Jack’s. When his hands wound into Will’s hair he felt the boy moan into his mouth and their tempo increased. He marveled at what a good kisser the boy was and was forced to remind himself that the boy was a man now, of 30 years.
That first time wound up being the first of many times they explored one another while on that 8-month voyage. Every night they talked and laughed, kissed and made love, and lay in each other’s arms till the wee hours of the morning, still getting only four hours of sleep.
They avoided talking about the change in the weather and what that meant.
Winter was coming, and with it a beginning and an end, but that would come later.
Now was here, and here was now, and that’s all that mattered.
When it all came down to it, Elizabeth knew there was no choice to be made. Jack was fun, and exciting, and he made her feel alive. The Black Pearl was an adventure, and everything she'd dreamed of since she was a kid. It represented freedom, something she'd never imagined she'd be able to have. At least, not to the degree with which she got it while traveling the world with Captain Sparrow and his ever-faithful crew of misfits.
But Will was her heart. Will was her home. Will was where she belonged. The love he provided for her was strong and steadfast, and while at times it seemed almost as stifling as her father's had, she knew it was what she needed. Adventures and gold and pirates with dreads in their hair were fine for some of the time, but it's not what made life fulfilling. It made it exciting, and it gave her spirit and a thrill, but what it really showed her was how much she should appreciate the man and children she came home to.
For the longest time, that was a fact she ignored. It was easy to forget the things in her life that weren't always perfect when she was aboard the Pearl. Fighting and swashbuckling and pillaging and plundering served the perfect distraction that her guilty conscience needed. She hated to stay the night alone aboard that ship, because in the darkness and silence of her own room she'd remember what Will's breathing sounded like just before he went to sleep.
So when Will got home from his 8-month journey, she told him it was never a question whether or not she'd stay. She told him her home was here with him, and with their children. She'd kissed him and smiled at him, and taken him to bed as soon as the kids were asleep. She didn't notice the light missing from his eyes, and she didn't notice the way he stared back at the Pearl as he told her Jack wouldn't be coming home with them for the day this time.
In fact, it took her several months to realize that he'd begun to sit on the side of the table that faced the ocean at every meal. It took her months to see that when he smiled it never really reached his eyes anymore. Months to see the sadness etched over his face when their eldest would ask him when Jack would be coming back. 'Next year, Jamie,' he'd say, the sadness of the smile going unnoticed by all those who were supposed to notice it first. 'Probably.'
She didn't really put it together with Jack when she did start to notice though. She did put it together with him having been gone. She wondered if he wished now that it was him that went off to sea every year with Jack. She wondered if after all these years his love for her truly had faded. She wondered if her selfishness and absence had embittered him towards her.
So she never questioned him, afraid of the answers she'd get. She never asked him why his eyes never left the ocean, and she never mentioned that he never spoke of Jack unless someone else mentioned him. She never questioned if she'd ruined their marriage, because she was afraid that if faced with the question he would be honest. She was content, or resigned, on walking the tenuous line of uncertainty. Because sometimes uncertainty was better than the removal of all doubt.
Read in my fake renditions:
1st: 2nd: 3rd:
Or, in text format!
Elizabeth sighed heavily and threw the towel down. “Will you two quit fighting,” she hissed tersely. “Your father will be home soon, and if he sees you fighting like this--”
James rolled his eyes. “Mother, he stole my book!”
“I didn’t steal it, I borrowed it!”
James picked up the book from the table, waving it in front of Elizabeth’s face. “He ruined it, Mother! He tore it to shreds!”
“Oh, Jamie,” Elizabeth said, frowning down at him. “It’s not torn to shreds.”
“It’s ruined,” he moaned, looking down at it and running his fingers over the bent pages, a few of which were torn and falling out. “The binding is completely broken--”
“You haven’t read that since you were 8, Jamie,” Elizabeth said with another soft sigh, reaching down and plucking the book out of his hand. “You’re so prone to dramatics--”
“Rather like his mother, I’d wager.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she took in the figure of the all too familiar pirate before her. “Jack!”
Jack smiled, bending down as the two children raced towards him and trying his best to not fall over in their exuberance. “And their father, if we’re to be honest.”
“Uncle Jack! Come see my room!”
“All right, children,” Jack said, sitting back on his heels and frowning down at them. “Stop your fighting or your mother will paddle you.”
Elizabeth fought back a laugh. “Jack!”
He smiled, reaching out and ruffling their hair. “Alright, she won’t paddle you.” He stood up, squinting at the two. “I will!”
Sam looked up at Jack with big soft brown eyes, his face the picture of seriousness. “You’d never hit us, Uncle Jack,” he said with a smile.
Jack tried to continue to glare, but he soon gave into the smile. “That’s right, Sammy. Uncle Jack’d never hurt ye.”
“You’ve been gone too long, Jack,” Elizabeth said softly, her smile curving softly as she walked towards him. “I feared you’d never be back.”
Jack looked at her, taking a deep breath. “I’d never stay away, Elizabeth,” he said softly. “No matter how much easier that might be.”
She nodded, reaching out her arms and wrapping them around his shoulders. “I know,” she said, turning her head and kissing him on the cheek. “I’m glad you’re here.”
He pulled back and looked at her, deep dark penetrating eyes seeing straight through her. “You know, aye?”
She nodded, tears shining in her eyes. “I know.” She nodded, kissing him again and her smile widening. “And I’m glad you’re here.”
He winked at her as he drew back, his smile widening. “As am I.”
“Dad’s home,” James yelled from the doorway, opening it wide and waving his arms. He turned back to look at his mother and uncle. “He’ll be so happy to see you, Uncle Jack. He’s been miserable with you gone.”
Jack frowned, looking at Elizabeth. She smiled, resting a hand on his arm. “Not miserable. Worried. Sad. But not miserable.”
“Well that was a hello I could get used to,” Will said, laughing as he stepped inside. His hand reached out to tousle his youngest son’s hair as he latched himself onto his leg. “Are you happy to see me too, Sammy?”
Sam nodded, burying his head into his father’s leg. “I missed you.”
James grinned up at him and caused Will to laugh. “Did you get better marks than normal, son?”
James shook his head, his grin widening even more. “Look at Momma, Dad.”
Will laughed, unwinding Sam’s arms from around his leg before turning to face Elizabeth. As soon as his eyes fell on Jack his mouth hung open and all the color drained out of his face. “Jack,” he breathed out. “You’re--”
“All right, children,” Elizabeth said loudly, clapping her hands together. “Bath time.”
“Aw, but Maw!”
She laughed, raising an eyebrow. “Oh, all after noon you two are bickering, but when it comes to bath time you’re in tandem? How very interesting.”
Jack fought for his face to remain passive but as he saw Will’s jaw clench he had to take a deep breath and look away. He watched as Elizabeth swatted at her children to leave the men alone and tried to smile down at them as they passed by them. He promised to regale them with tales of wicked at their return, and smiled so hard his jaw hurt. When they were gone he finally let his gaze fall once again on Will and was struck in the gut when he saw the tears coursing down his face.
“You’re home,” Will whispered, his jaw clenching as he tried to keep his voice from wobbling.
Jack hooked his hands behind his back, frowning at the floor to avoid Will’s eyes. “I know I said two months, love, but there was a storm, an’ the mast broke, an’ I tried to mail ye, but--”
“Shut up,” Will said, walking briskly forward and taking Jack’s face in his hands. He smiled widely and shook his head at him. “You’re really home.”
Jack smiled softly and brought up a hand to tug on a twist of Will’s hair, nodding. “I am.”
Will’s eyes flickered over his face as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Jack’s, huffing out a shuddering sigh as they finally, after all these months, made contact again. Jack felt his heart rise and then break, shattering in utter devastation that he’d waited so long. He sobbed into Will’s mouth and crushed his body to his, winding his tongue in Will’s mouth roughly and carelessly, forgetting that there was a wife and two children nearby that would be coming back soon.
Will pulled back and pushed against Jack’s chest with his hands. “Outside,” he said in a low mumble.
Will shook his head, smiling and placing a finger to Jack’s lips. “Outside, Jack.”
Jack swallowed down the litany of words threatening to spill through his mouth and allowed Will to lead him outside, around the house, down the pathway into the woods, and out through the other side on to the bluff. They remained silent the whole way and Jack thought to himself that if he didn’t get to say what was in his mouth already he’d surely burst into a million pieces.
Will turned and smiled at him as they reached the bluff and grabbed onto Jack’s shirt, his eyes sweeping over him. “You’re even in one piece.”
“I come out to this bluff every night after the children go to sleep,” Will said softly, leaning forward and kissing Jack lightly before leaning back and grinning at him. “I look out at the ocean and I see you, you know. I see you in the waves. I hear your voice.”
Jack sighed, his arms coming up to hold Will by the waist, leaning forward and pressing his lips to Will’s forehead. “I’ve missed you, Will.”
Will’s eyes closed and he smiled. “Don’t ever do that again, Jack,” he said softly. “I mean it. Don’t ever leave me again for two years.”
Jack swallowed heavily, blinking as tears came to his eyes. “I love you, Will,” he said. “Did I tell you that?”
Will smiled. “Not out loud.”
Jack nodded. “I do. I love you.”
Will pitched forward and kissed him again, his fists winding into Jack’s shirt and pulling him forward. Jack’s arms wrapped around him. The kiss deepened until both were breathless and dizzy, and didn’t show any sign of letting up. Jack found himself muttering incomprehensible things into Will’s mouth and felt Will reciprocating them.
Finally they pulled apart and Will pointed out that they had to get back so he could fix dinner. “Elizabeth will be waiting.”
“Will,” Jack said, grabbing his shoulder and turning him to face him as Will started back towards the house. “You told her?”
Will nodded, reaching up and running a finger down Jack’s cheek. “She understands.”
Jack nodded, frowning. “And you told her…”
“I told her I love you, Jack,” he said. “I love you, and I love her, and that neither one is any less because of the other.”
Jack smiled, nodding. “Good.”
“I’m glad you’re home, Jack,” Will said, kissing him softly again. “Cause the sea might be where you are most of the time, but this is where you always belong.”
Jack nodded, smiling down at him. “My home is wherever you are, Will. Even when I’m away on my own, it’s wherever you are.”