stood at the helm of the Interceptor, steering her into the westering sun,
towards the cloudbank in the distance. Though all maps of the Caribbean
showed this area of the Sea had no islands, the compass and the storm he
chased both told him otherwise.
At his side, Gibbs leaned on a railing, re-splicing ropes. "Ye'd think they
would have done a better job of these, being the Royal Navy an' all..."
"Can you believe that I met two redcoats in Port Royal who couldn't even
swim!" Jack laughed. "We'll have an easy time of the piracy in these
waters, eh? No pride in their work anymore, no pride at all."
"Well, and why d'ye think I left His Majesty's service, then?" Gibbs
"I know it weren't fer the sweet ass ye can find on a pirate sloop, mate!"
Jack had missed Gibbs' easy companionship, these past many months. "Nothing
like the Royal Navy for providin' a steady stream of lively young lads for
the joys of drop the soap, eh?"
The look in Gibbs' eye became predatory. "Aye, but you've managed to snare
the sweetest piece of it I've seen in many a year, haven't ye? Ye always
were a dab hand at that, Captain."
Jack pushed at his forehead with his palm, and sighed. "Aye, I may have a
problem there, actually." Jack grimaced at the older man. "Is it really that
Gibbs let out a guffaw. "He practically crawled in your breeches while you
were briefing the crew, didn't he? And the banana? I'm sure he was just
being friendly an' 'elpful, handing you that in front of everyone."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Bloody idiot."
Gibbs was quite amused by Jack's discomfiture. "And then when he took it
back from ye, and began to eat it...slowly...HAHAHAHA!" Gibbs' raucous
laughter caused some of the crew to look over.
"Enough!" Jack glowered, then lowered his voice. "I had been hoping he would
be wise enough to keep it low-key. But the boy has no more sense in his head
than a gaffed bluefin."
"An' now he thinks he's in Love." Gibbs dropped the humor from his own face.
Jack's only response was a pained sigh.
"Well, I'll do what I can, Jack. But he's got it fer ye bad. Can't say as
I'll do any more good 'an I did with Anamaria." Gibbs offered.
"No!" Jack cried. "No, you leave it to me. I recall, mayhap better than you,
how you mangled the situation with her. Just let me handle this in my
own way...and try not to do anything...stupid."
"Jack...I'd never..." Gibbs faltered. "Well, that is to say...what I mean
Jack gazed at Gibbs pointedly. "You'd best not."
"Aye, Captain." Gibbs relented. "But if ye change yer mind..."
Jack held up a warning finger.
Gibbs returned his full attention to the splicing of the ropes.
Will found his wits were dulling. His reactions to the motion of the deck
were slightly off, causing him to stumble from time to time. Jack had been
right. He should have slept when they'd had the chance, before meeting the
crew in Tortuga.
But now it was too late, and he was needed to help with the canvas and the
rigging. It was one thing for two men to sail the Interceptor on a
leisurely course through clear waters and blue skies; quite another to race
to catch a cursed pirate ship though a gathering gale. Every hand was
necessary to keep her on course and at speed. The blacksmith was no longer
finding ship life boring, at least.
He turned to find Gibbs at his elbow. "Be ye sound, lad? Can ye work the
deck, or must ye be sent below? 'Tis no shame to know yer limitations, an'
ye be a landsman trained."
"I can manage." Will looked unsure, even so. He suddenly had a flash of
something, a bit of recognition. "I...I know you? We've met before?" Will's
head tilted slightly to the side. If only he weren't so tired. His thoughts
flowed as slowly as molasses.
"Aye, I didn't see it 'til Jack told me you were Brown's 'prentice." Gibbs
smiled, and showed his tartar encrusted teeth. "Ye were picked up from the
wreck of that merchant vessel, the Dalliance, an' I were serving
before the mast on the Dauntless what found you in the water. Ye've
grown a bit since then, I see." Gibbs looked Will up and down,
appreciatively and leered slightly.
"You were Royal Navy?" Will was appalled. "Did you desert?"
"Nay, I mustered out clean as a whistle," Gibbs explained. "But with naught
to return to but a cold clime and a colder bed in England, I stayed on in
the southern seas, and've made my way as best I knew, as crew for ships as
"On any ship," Will was disdainful. "Even a Pirate ship."
"When ye have t'sleep with pigs because ye cannot afford the floor by the
hearth, ye become less particular about your compatriots, lad." Gibbs was
merely amused by Will's disgust. "An' I notice ye don't seem to mind the
pleasant company that our Captain Jack can provide."
Gibbs leaned in and whispered conspiratorially into Will's ear, "Tell me,
lad. Is his 'company' as pleasant as they all say? I've heard tales..." He
placed an arm around Will's shoulders, and began to knead the younger man's
Will looked away to hide his discomfiture. Gibbs continued to murmur in his
ear. "Jack's a legend in the 'ospitality 'ouses of Tortuga, and even those
beyond. They say he's as long as yer forearm, and as big around to boot."
The old salt ran a finger from Will's elbow down to his wrist.
Will's eyes flew wide. Was Gibbs talking about Jack's...Jack?
"Ah, ye've seen it then, I can tell," Gibbs nodded knowingly. "Then it's
true what they all say? That he's always in a state of perpetual salute?
That even when he's taken his pleasure, he's still fully able to satisfy,
and lass or lad who has need of him? That he spoils ye fer the enjoyment of
anyone else?" Gibbs slid his hand down Will's shoulder and back, and gave
his bum a squeeze.
Will turned and fled. Gibbs glanced over his shoulder towards the helm, and
chuckled in the back of his throat. The look in Jack's eye caught him up
short, however. "Murderous" was too gentle a word for what the sailor saw
The clouds obscured the setting sun and darkness fell, even more suddenly
than was usual for the tropics. The wind rose yet another notch to the aft
of the Interceptor, and her speed increased.
At the helm, Jack's teeth glittered in his face.
The storm broke upon the Interceptor with an intense fury. Will
struggled to find his way among the myriad ropes and follow the instructions
given by the more knowledgeable members of the crew...that being everyone
besides himself. The water swirled on the deck, making the footing
impossible. Will wondered how the other sailors managed to traverse the
decks so easily.
He found himself suddenly beside Gibbs. Taking a moment to ask the man about
a point that had been troubling him, Will queried, "How can we sail to an
island that nobody can find with a compass that doesn’t work?"
"Aye, the compass doesn’t point north, but we’re not trying to find north,
are we?" replied the older sailor, before another shift of the deck took
Will's steadiness out from under him, and flung him forward towards the
capstan. Gibbs took an easy-looking stride towards the quarterdeck, to
address his captain.
"We should drop some canvas, sir," he said, eyeing the sails nervously.
Jack spared the topsails and gallants a glance, and responded confidently,
"She can hold a bit longer."
"What’s in your head that’s put you in such a fine mood, Captain?" Gibbs
knew Sparrow for a daft, bold sea-farer, but this was a gale of supernatural
proportions. Which was only to be expected, he supposed, when one traveled
on a ship commandeered from the Royal Navy, on a venture designed to
retrieve cursed ship from a cursed crew of hell-spawn pirates.
"We’re catching up." was the Captain's only reply, and a fey light glittered
from him even between the lightning's bolts.
The pain of it was sharp, a cutlass beneath his sternum. Jack was done with
him, Will could see that now. Gibbs was laughing at him, every chance he
got. And touching him. A hand on the forearm, a slap to the backside, a
nudge of one leg against another. Will shuddered, but not from the damp.
In the darkness, another wave swept the deck. Will clung to the rope. Torn
between anger at Jack, and anger with himself, he considered letting go. It
would be simple. Lost at sea, lost in the storm. Elizabeth would never know
he had come to her rescue; neither would she know how he had betrayed his
love for her, participating in carnal acts with a filthy pirate.
He loathed himself.
But his calloused hands refused to loosen their grip on the lines.
So the wave had to do it for him.
He felt the skin tear as he was grabbed by an arm of the Sea, wrenched free
of his hold on the cordage. The gunwale and railing loomed, and he was swept
against them with the force of a draft-horse's kick, from a hoof unwilling
to be shod. Will had experienced that crushing force once before, and it had
nearly broken him, but he had recovered from that blow. This one, he
had his doubts.
The air rushed from his lungs, and the waters engulfed him. He could see
nothing but churning foam. The ship heeled over, and his body began to
slowly, inexorably be dragged towards the threshold of the Sea. His hands
scrabbled for purchase, but found nothing. Will wanted to see the sun again,
to have another chance, another opportunity to love and breathe and live.
But the saltwater wanted him, wanted to fill his mouth, his lungs, his heart
She wanted to take him away from Jack. She's a jealous mistress, thought
Will. Maybe Jack does still want me, after all, if She's this angry.
Or maybe it's just a storm.
And then ham-like hands grasped his waist, and tugged him upwards out of the
surf. Gibbs pulled him up, and clasped him tight against his own barrel-like
chest. Shouting against the roar of the storm, the mariner cried, "Breathe,
The wave receded, but the rain and the spray were so thick, it was difficult
to tell he was once again above the water. Gibbs took the rope from his own
waist, and untying it, attached it to Will's less husky frame. When Gibbs
pulled the rope tight across the solar plexus, Will vomited seawater over
"I'm sending ye below!" shouted the sailor. "Ye can work the bilge pumps!
We'll be needin' 'em in this!" Will was hurled by Gibbs' powerful arm in the
direction of the battened hatch. Together they unsecured the fastenings, and
with careful timing between the waves, threw open the door. Will untied his
safety line and leapt down into the darkness below; Gibbs slammed the hatch
behind him, leaving him in blackness.
But he was alive.
Jack's sinewy arms encircled Will's waist. They were standing near the forge
in the smithy in Port Royal. Glancing down, Will saw himself dressed in the
frock that Elizabeth had worn for Norrington's commissioning as Commodore.
Jack pulled at the corset laces beneath the bodice with his teeth. At the
hearth, Elizabeth, wearing his blacksmith's apron, held a nearly completed
sword in the fire.
"I'm not sure I approve of what you've been up to, Mr. Turner," she said,
drawing the glowing blade from the fire and approaching. Her eyes held a
"Wake up, lad," Gibbs' voice interrupted Will's dream. "It's past dawn, and
we've left behind the worst of the weather." Will's eyes opened, blearily,
and he saw the older sailor's face come into focus above him. Gibbs
continued, "Come above decks, we'll get ye some tucker."
Will only very vaguely recalled the previous hours. He had operated the
bilge pumps for what seemed like years, then finally collapsed into
unconsciousness in the dim of the hold. Gibbs was right; some food would
certainly be welcome at this point. He staggered to his feet and followed
the retreating form before him.
On deck, the crew sat arrayed in the weak sunshine of morning, their
exhaustion showing in the sprawled positions they took. "Ye're hungry?"
Matelot called to Will, as he climbed onto the deck.
"Yes, as I'm sure we all are," Will stated companionably. Several of the
crew were already enjoying a piece of fruit or a slab of some sort of flat
bread. "What fare have we for this morn?"
Matelot grinned ferally. "We saved ye yer favorite."
And each member of the crew reached behind his back or into her pocket or
into some other place of concealment, and produced...one ripe banana.
The crew erupted with laughter.
And Will laughed with them. He had passed through total exhaustion and near
death by drowning on the high seas. What value then, his pride or his
privacy? Will could see the humor of the situation, and he wondered what
Jack would do in his position. Not that Jack would ever find himself in this
position. But suddenly, he could see a path, clear of these sea dogs' scorn
He swaggered forward to Gibbs, who stood the most proximate to his position.
Wrenching the banana from the old salt's fingers, he carefully,
painstakingly, peeled back the yellow skin, as if it were the most delicate
sheath surrounding a beloved member. He gave the banana a brief,
experimental lick, up the length of the fruit. Then, the young blacksmith
proceeded to slide the banana between his lips. Slowly. Gently. Further and
further. Deeper in his throat than he thought possible, and then, aided by
his inhalation, just a little...bit...more.
Will closed his eyes. And then gradually slid the banana back out the way it
had come. Even Anamaria sighed when he released it with a slight *pop*.
"RAWK! Any port in a storm! Any port in a storm!" cackled Cotton's Parrot.
Will grinned, and bit off the tip of the banana voraciously. "Thanks for the
He was pelted with fruit by the crew.
"Dead men tell no tales," caterwauled Cotton's parrot. The Pearl slid
through the glassy waters as if driven forward by magic. The crew gazed over
the rail at the protruding spars and sunken wrecks of the ships' graveyard
they passed through.
"Puts a chill in the bones how many honest sailors have been claimed by this
passage," marveled Gibbs.
"How is it that Jack came by that compass?" Will asked a moment later, as he
and Gibbs repaired some of the rigging together.
"Not a lot known about Jack Sparrow before he showed up in Tortuga with a
mind to go after the treasure of the Isla de Muerta. That was before I met
him. Back when he was Captain of the Black Pearl."
"What? He failed to mention that." Will was frankly astonished.
"Well, he plays things closer to the vest now. And a hard learned lesson it
was. See three days out on the venture the first mate comes to him and says
everything’s an equal share as should be the location of the treasure, too.
So, Jack gives up the bearings. That night there was a mutiny. They marooned
Jack on an island and left him to die but not before he’d gone mad with the
heat." Gibbs obviously enjoyed spinning a good yarn, and they didn't come
much better than this one.
"Ah. So that's the reason for the…" Will pantomimed an awkward rendition of
Jack's graceful hand gesturing.
"Reason's got nothing to do with it." Gibbs had warmed to his story by now.
"Now Will, when a man is marooned he is a given a pistol with a single shot.
Well, it won't do much good hunting nor to be rescued. But after three weeks
of starvin’ belly and thirst, that pistol starts to look real friendly,
like. But Jack made it off the island and he still has that one shot. Oh,
but he won't use it though, save for one man. His mutinous first mate."
"How did Jack get off the island?"
Gibbs believed he had the younger man in the palm of his hand. "Well, I’ll
tell you. He waded out into the shallows and there he waited three days and
three nights till all manner of sea creature 'came acclimated to his
presence. And on the fourth morning he roped himself a couple of sea
turtles, harnessed them together and made a raft."
Will was suddenly skeptical. "He roped a couple of sea turtles?"
"Aye, sea turtles." Supreme confidence could often get one past these
awkward moments in a story, Gibbs knew.
Looking for holes, Will asked, "What did he use for rope?"
He and Gibbs finally noticed they were observed. Jack stood above them, with
a darkened visage and a serious demeanor.
"Human hair...from my back." Jack stated this baldly. "Let go the anchor!"
"Let go the anchor, sir!"
"Young Mr. Turner and I are to go ashore." Jack looked at Will pointedly,
then let his gaze slide off like seaweed against the hull.
"Captain! What if the worst should happen?" Gibbs' question was a fair one.
"Keep to the code."
"Aye, the code." Well, that was certainly clear as mud, thought the
quartermaster. But then Jack usually had his reasons for playing it close to
the vest, and leverage with Turner was likely what Jack was trying to
preserve. Gibbs could see that slipping from Sparrow's grasp every second
that Will was in the Captain's presence and yet still shunned.
"Turner!" Captain Sparrow bellowed. The crew scurried like rats in the
sunlight, preparing the ship for anchorage, and the blacksmith rose and
turned to follow him.
"My quarters, NOW." Will flinched as if struck. He followed Jack's
retreating form through the doorway to the Captain's cabin.
Once there, Jack rounded on him. "That was quite a performance you
put on out there, with the banana. Fancy a career on the stage, do ye? Or
are ye angling for a backroom in a tavern, rather?" Jack's face was so
choleric that Will wondered if he would feel a knife at his throat soon. An
involuntary twitch jerked the index finger on his sword hand, but the young
man otherwise held his own emotions fully leashed. If there was one lesson
he'd learned successfully in this venture, it was to leave a Captain's wrath
alone, remain silent in the face of it. And Jack's form of address and
physical manner left no question that at this moment he was,
pure-and-simple, the master of this ship and all who were borne by her.
Jack's manner shifted as suddenly as the wind direction in a squall. Hands
went from rigidly still to flamboyantly placed on his hips, and he sighed
exaggeratedly. "What am I to do with ye, then, hmmm?"
Will smiled weakly, and shrugged.
Jack grabbed the small chair from the writing desk in the cabin's corner,
spun it 'round backwards, and sat astraddle it. Folding his arms across the
arched windsor-back, and resting his chin on them, Jack seemed truly at a
loss as to how to proceed next. "What am I to do with you..." Will
continued to stand before him, motionless. The moment stretched in silence.
"Well," Will interjected quietly, "you could use me as leverage, and
toss me overboard as soon as you've got your Black Pearl back."
Jack's briefly flared nostrils and suddenly darkened pupils were the only
sign that Will's words had struck home. Then Jack's lip curled ever so
slightly. "I doubt very much that I could rid myself of you by a mere
drowning. And ye seem to be a bit more of a
ratiocinator than I once feared."
Will let the unfamiliar word slide past. Jack's meaning was clear enough.
"But you would trade me for the Pearl, would you not?" Desperation
makes some men bold, Will being one of those men. He doubted he'd walk away
from this escapade with anything like his life intact, let alone his heart.
"Honest and direct. That's all you know how to be, is that it, lad? Well,
I'll repay in kind, then. I would trade my own darling departed mother's
soul to eternal torment in the depths of Hades, if I thought it would even
slightly affect my chances of returning to the helm of my ship."
Jack rose from the chair, and approached the stolid form before him, leaning
in. "I would absolutely prefer, however, to conclude this little
adventure of ours, without you coming to some form of grievous bodily
harm, savvy?" Jack's hands were once again helping him to speak,
gesticulating with every syllable.
Wan sunlight made the dust motes dance in the cabin. Will inhaled, wondering
if Jack did this deliberately, coming within range of his body, and moving
in that way? When Jack passed close, Will could smell the sea on his skin,
the warmth of the rum and the maleness of his sweat. Not that the
perspiration of another man was an unfamiliar scent to Will's nostrils, no
quite the opposite. Plenty of male sweat could be smelled in the smithy, and
also on the practice ground at the fort, where he had learned to love to
dance with the blades that he also created.
But then, none of those perspiration-soaked men had ever sucked him
Will felt as if he was trying to restrain a draft horse with twine, keeping
his body and words in check, keep his reason and intellect clear in this
moment. "Captain Sparrow. You have my loyalty and obedience. But my primary
purpose is to rescue Miss Swann. I will not see her safety swept aside in
your pursuit of regaining your ship."
Jack chuckled in the depths of his throat. "So ye haven't forgotten
about the lass? Ah, well, I should have guessed that one." Jack nodded to
himself, as if making a brief recalculation of the factors involved in the
equation. "Aye, then. Let's see what else ye remember. Do ye recall a few of
the rules of love play? The object is not to come in first, but to...??"
"The object is to come in last. And ladies always go first." Will was
standing for examination, and he knew it.
"What happens here today...?"
"...is not to be spoken of later. Kissing and telling is ungentlemanly."
"And finally?" Jack was smiling by this time.
"Relax!" And Will leaned forward into Jack's devouring mouth.
"Ye mind showing me that trick with the banana again, mate?" said Jack after
a moment. "I wasn't able to see much from at the helm."
Will hesitated, unsure if this was a wisest course. Well, none of it had
been the wisest course, to be perfectly honest. None of it. He was
about to sail into a situation that would likely result in this pirate
trading Will's life for the sake of revenge and a ship's return. Would more
sex cloud his judgment...or Jack's?
And if he was going to die anyway...why not?
Will reached for the laces on Jack's breeches, untying them deftly. "I
didn't believe that story of hair from your back for one minute, Jack."
"Why do ye think there's none left?" Jack spangled some teeth at him. "Some
turtles swam off with it!"
"Aye, Seeeeea Turtles..." Will wickedly imitated Gibbs' voice.
Jack dissolved into giggling. "Let's hurry it up, mate. We don't want to
miss Barbossa's party, and the rescue of fair lady."
So Will hurried it up.