by The Stowaway
Fandom: PoTC, Rating: NC-17 Pairing: Jack/Will/Norrington Full Header Sparrington Arc - 4
They rode at anchor this night off a tiny town on some island or other – Will hadn’t asked which – while Jack was ashore on a mysterious errand of his own.
“I’ll tell you all about it later, lad,” was all he’d said.
Will had laughed. “When you know how it turns out, you mean.”
Jack smiled, delighted. “Exactly!”
“So you,” Will continued sweetly, “can make it seem as if you planned it that way all along.”
Jack was reproachful. “Cheeky! Disrespect for the Captain’s not wise, boy, when you’ve joined his crew, however temp’ry.”
But Will only laughed again and shook his head.
Gibbs ended his tale with a characteristic flourish, accepting both applause and friendly derision with equanimity before beginning yet another. Will’s attention wandered. He thought of Elizabeth and the girls; gone these six months on a visit to her kin in England, and not expected back for at least as long again. The house was very empty with his family gone; the quiet had increased his loneliness. He missed the bustle and laughter more than he would have thought possible in the hectic days before their departure, with everything at sixes and sevens and the children – over-excited – becoming noisy and nigh unmanageable. The little scamps had driven Nurse distracted, he remembered. For months after they sailed he spent more and more time at the forge – reluctant to go home to a dark house and a cold bed. Until the day, five weeks ago, when Jack had appeared at his door, bold as brass, with an offer too tempting to refuse.
“What’ve ye got to lose, Will?” he’d said. “Your family’s in England; you’re discontent and lonely. Come with us.”
“Jack, you’re mad. How can I sail with pirates?” Will demurred, “My wife’s father would have my head if it got round.”
“Ah, but that’s the beauty of it, boy. We are going to raid the Spanish! He’s issued another call for privateers to do just that, hasn’t he now? So, far from disapproving, he might well present you with a commendation.”
Will hesitated; the two sides of his nature – prig and pirate – at war, as ever.
With that uncanny knack he had of seeming to read minds, Jack leaned in, smiling, and lowered his voice. “You’re Bootstrap’s son, lad. You owe it to his memory, wouldn’t you say? Come along of us! When will you get a better chance to try for yourself the life your Da loved so much?”
“Do you promise I’ll be back here before Elizabeth and the children come home?”
“You have my solemn word,” Jack intoned, “that you’ll be returned to Port Royal, tucked up in your marriage bed – safe as houses – when your lovely wife arrives from England. Here’s my hand on it.”
Will burst out laughing and took Jack’s hand in his firm, swordsmith’s grip; the prig was silenced, the pirate at the helm. “It’s all very well, you scoundrel, to make such promises; but what if you get us all killed on this adventure?”
Jack looked wounded. “Son, I’m…” Will rolled his eyes.
“Captain Jack Sparrow,” they chorused, and laughed.
Jack pulled him into a rough embrace, thumping his back heartily. “Ah, Will, we’ll make a pirate of you yet. Your father would be proud.”
And, Will mused, still gazing skyward as Gibbs’ tale continued unheeded, Bootstrap might well have been proud of his son. He was a good sailor, as it turned out. The crew, many of whom remembered him from the Interceptor voyage, had accepted him with cautious friendliness; showing old Bill’s whelp the ways of the Brethren. He had come to know the Pearl and had begun to understand Jack’s love for her – and hers for him. And he had a knack for battle, it seemed, as well. In each of the three treasure raids they had conducted – one at sea and two ashore – he’d fought well and kept his head. Jack said he had the makings of a leader, and indeed the crew looked to him with a kind of instinctive deference as the voyage went on. Jack watched his progress and smiled.
And Jack had continued his education in other ways, as well.
The first night at sea, he’d dined with Jack in the cabin. They had sat late over their wine, catching up. Will had talked of the children and of his sword-making. Jack had told him tales, some of them just faintly believable, about his chequered career – not so subtly making his case for the carefree life of a pirate. Will had listened with amusement and a very obvious skepticism that Jack clearly found entertaining.
Finally, Will stood and stretched, stumbling slightly. “It’s late,” he yawned, “and I’ve had too much wine. Where’m I to sleep, Jack?”
Jack watched him, without speaking, for a long moment. Will stared back, disconcerted and beginning to be flustered at what he read in Jack’s eyes. He thought to himself, fuzzily, that those eyes always glittered when Jack was up to something. Slowly, Jack rose and moved round the table to stand facing him. Close, too close. Will retreated a step and was stopped by the table at his back. Jack moved in until they were almost touching and paused, holding his gaze. Will’s head was spinning and the air felt thick and insufficient. He could not misunderstand Jack’s intentions, but he was shocked to feel his body responding to the man. “Jack?” To his dismay, his voice wavered, almost cracking. Clearing his throat, he tried again, “Where shall I sleep?”
“Why, where you will, lad, of course,” Jack said, smiling slightly, “but if you will,” and he slipped his arms around the younger man, pulling him close. Will groaned softly at the sweet/hot pressure against his groin. “If you will,” Jack continued, and his smile widened as he sensed Will’s resistance weakening, “I would have you in my bed tonight. There’s much I could teach you about a pirate’s life, if ye’ve a mind to learn.”
And learn he had, that night and all the nights that followed. Jack was like a drug for which he rapidly developed a craving. He could not deny the pleasure, which indeed was powerful – sharper and more concentrated than any he had known – but a part of him still held out against the seduction.
He’d wondered about this, during long watches at the wheel, wondered how he resisted the lure of Jack and, with him, that of the Sea and the horizon of which Jack was so passionately fond. He never could embrace fully the roving life, he realized, no matter how it tempted him, because he was not free. Elizabeth and their children were as strong a force as Jack; stronger indeed, for he knew that, in the end, they would win out and that he was destined for a life a-land. “But not just yet,” his pirate blood would whisper, “not quite yet. Let’s run free a bit longer, ay?” And Will would sigh and put off the inevitable for another day.
Another burst of raucous applause signaled the end of Gibbs’ story and a brief pause ensued, filled with the sibilant, creaking conversation of the Pearl with the Sea. Someone nudged Will. “Cap’n wants ye, Turner.” It was a measure of the respect he’d earned that no-one snickered at the statement, although not a few smiled. Will looked aft, to see Jack beckoning from the companion-way. He rose and padded along the deck on bare feet already acquiring the calluses of a seasoned sailor, to where Jack stood waiting.
“When did you get b…” he began, breaking off when Jack pushed him urgently against the bulkhead. He tasted rum as Jack’s tongue forced its way into his mouth; gasped as a leg, shoving between his own, pressed upwards until he squirmed. He felt himself being swept once more into the maelstrom; surrendering to the force of nature that was Jack. Before thought was quite suspended, he freed his mouth with some difficulty to ask, breathless and amused, “So, I take it your errand prospered? Care to tell me about it?”
Jack made a pleased noise against his throat and went on with what he was doing.
“Jack!” Will grasped handfuls of hair; tugged. “Tell me!” Jack allowed his head to tilt back and their gazes locked. With uncanny speed, he moved; and in a heartbeat Will’s wrists were pinned to the bulkhead to either side of his head. He groaned as Jack slowly rocked his hips, grinding their erections together.
“I’ll do better than that, boy,” he whispered; and his grin turned feral, as he considered the swollen mouth and glassy eyes before him, “I’ll show you.”
Jack kissed him again until his knees buckled, then yanked him away from the bulkhead, keeping a firm grip on his wrists, and backed him through the cabin doors. “Time for your next lesson, lad.” As the doors swung to behind them he shifted his grip and spun Will round to face the room with his wrists behind him.
“I’ve a present for you, James,” he said.
Will blinked, momentarily dazzled by the lamplight. As his eyes adjusted, he was startled to see a dark-haired man leaning against the table with arms folded, smiling broadly. He was dressed plainly but well in dark brown.
Abruptly, Will spoke over his shoulder, “Jack, what is this?” A ghost of laughter puffed warm against his neck and he shivered as Jack nipped sharply at his ear and the grip on his wrists firmed.
The man spoke, and Will started at the sound of a well-known patrician voice. “Will Turner. Well, well,” Norrington chuckled and sipped his brandy. “Turned pirate, have you?”
Will gasped, “Commodore?” Without the uniform, the wig and the military demeanor, he had not even recognized him.
“Not tonight,” Norrington looked past Will’s shoulder, amusement in his glance. Will felt rather than heard Jack laugh again as James stood upright with only the slightest suggestion of unsteadiness. “Mister James Norrington, at your service.” He bowed. “Captain Sparrow, erm, requested that the good Commodore remain ashore.” He looked Will up and down, drawling appreciatively, “Now I see why.”
At the implication, Will flushed, humiliated and furious. He wrenched his wrists free of Jack’s grip and whirled to face the pirate. “If this is your idea of a joke, Captain Sparrow, then you are mistaken. A present? How dare you presume…” He stopped, choking on the words.
Jack’s face was a study in puzzlement. “How dare I presume… what, Will? What’s wrong?”
“What’s WRONG?” Will shouted, “You think to pass me around like some whore at a port-side tavern and you ask what’s wrong? Well, think again, Jack.” And he made to shove past and out of the cabin. He was stopped by Jack’s hands, gripping his arms above the elbow.
“Whoa, lad, steady on,” Jack chuckled, which only made Will angrier still.
He gritted, “Jack, I’m warning you. Let me go.” And he struggled to break out of the surprisingly powerful grasp.
“Not until you listen to reason. You’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick, boy. Now stand still and let me explain. Will you do that?”
Will hesitated, mistrusting Jack’s well-proven ability to talk him round, then nodded grudgingly. “Go on.”
“Wonderful! Good lad,” Jack smiled engagingly and released him. “Now then, I went ashore today, as you have no doubt guessed, to meet my old friend James here for a friendly drink or two.”
Will nodded, noncommittal; keeping his eyes firmly on Jack and ignoring the other man. He’d had his suspicions about Jack and the Commodore for some time, but had kept them to himself.
“Well,” Jack continued, warming to his tale, “the only decent tavern in that god-forsaken excuse for a town was becoming a trifle, shall we say, crowded, so we decided to adjourn to the Pearl to continue our drinking in comfort.”
A hand appeared at Will’s elbow, holding a cup of rum. “Join us?” Norrington asked quietly.
“No, I thank you,” Will muttered, looking away and clenching his fists.
“Don’t be churlish, lad,” Jack chided, taking his own cup with a nod of thanks. “Where’re your manners?”
Will flushed again and accepted the drink. “Sir.” Turning his head to meet Norrington’s eyes, he was surprised to see amused respect in them. James moved back to the table, picked up his own brandy and raised it to Will in toast.
“Here’s to your backbone, Turner. Anyone who can make that madman explain himself has my admiration. On you go.”
“Yes, well then,” said Jack, flicking dismissive fingers, “as I was saying. We made our way back here, quiet like, because the crew gets a mite uneasy when the Royal Navy boards, y’see.” He stopped to refresh himself with a healthy swig.
Will likewise drank. When it appeared that Jack had no more to say, he prompted, “And…?”
“And?” Jack asked, “Oh! And here we are and here you are and here’s the rum. Have some more – you’re not drinking.”
Will snorted and turned his back on the pirate, to face Norrington. “What was that you said about making him explain himself? I appear to’ve failed, after all. Would you oblige me?”
“With an explanation? Why, of course, dear boy, so far as I am able,” James smiled as he approached them – ignoring Jack’s rather wild-eyed signals to desist and fixing his gaze on Will.
Will could feel Jack hovering agitatedly behind him. It touched a chord of memory, but he brushed it aside and kept his eyes on Norrington. “So far as you are able?”
James’s smile broadened. “Indeed,” he chuckled, “for who could presume to understand fully that devious mind?” He nodded toward Jack. “Believe me, Will, it is not only you who finds himself caught up in these toils.”
Will relaxed ever so slightly and took another drink of rum. “So tell me then, what brings you aboard the Pearl?”
“Ah, our slippery friend was, oddly enough, telling the truth.” They both ignored a protesting sound from Jack. “The tavern was crowded and the chance of recognition made us seek the privacy of the Pearl. I knew, of course, that you were aboard, but no more than that.”
James smiled again and Will responded in kind. He found himself liking Mister James Norrington far better than he could have imagined. Still grinning, he took an incautiously large swig of rum and choked, eyes watering. Jack thumped his back as he gasped and James took his cup, returning it to him refilled.
“Thanks,” Will said, drinking again, “Right then: this ‘a present for you’ nonsense is just that – nonsense. Is that what you’re telling me?”
“Well, it is and it isn’t.” replied James, softly.
Will froze, hand clenching around his cup before raising startled eyes. “What?” He found himself snared by a hot, green gaze. “But I thought…”
“Let us simply say that Jack’s choice of words was… ill-considered. I much prefer your own.”
“My... my own?” Will’s head was spinning from the rum and his heart had begun to pound.
“Think back to the first time we three stood thus, Will Turner. Do you remember? I told you that you forgot your place. And what did you reply?”
And just like that, the memory that had been teasing his mind became clear. He gasped as Jack pressed against his back, chuckling softly and nipping at his neck, while James took his cup from nerveless fingers and set it aside, returning to place his palm flat against Will’s chest, feeling the galloping pulse beneath.
“Well, where is your place?” James asked, taking Will’s jaw in one long-fingered hand. “Tell us.”
“It’s right here, between you and Jack.”
Firming his grip, James moved in, only to check as the younger man raised unsteady hands to the breast of his coat.
“My name is James, Will. Say it.”
A moment Will hesitated until, shaken by what he read in the green eyes so close to his own, his fingers twisted in the rich, brown fabric and tugged.
He sighed at the touch of James’s lips; opened under a clever and insistent mouth to suck the thrusting tongue that sought his. He nipped and was rewarded with a low growl as James took his head in both hands and pillaged his mouth: claiming, biting, taking.
He was dimly aware of Jack’s arms, wrapped around him beneath his shirt. One callused palm brushed lightly across his nipples at the same time Jack’s other hand pressed against his erection. Will jerked and moaned; but there was no escape (not that he sought one). Jack’s nimble fingers undid his breeches and slipped them to the deck. As he stepped out of them, he felt his knees unhinge but, pressed tightly as he was between the two men, he could not fall – however much the room spun about him.
Jack grasped the hem of Will’s shirt and muttered, “Some help here, mate?” James slowly pulled his mouth away from Will’s, studying the flushed face before him with pleasure. Will’s eyes were shut, lids trembling, and his mouth open around little panting breaths; he could not get enough air. James wrapped his hands about Will’s wrists, where he still clung to his coat, and tugged gently.
“Will, you can let go of me now,” he smiled.
Will opened his eyes and, with an effort, focused them on James. Gradually, the meaning of the words reached him. “Oh!” He unclenched his fingers and allowed James to raise his arms as Jack neatly drew his shirt over his head and tossed it aside.
Jack’s arms were around his waist and he could feel the heat between his shoulder blades as Jack pressed his open-shirted chest against him. He let his head fall back on Jack’s shoulder and watched through half-closed eyes as James stood back a pace to look him up and down again. The rum was singing wantonly in his veins and, this time, the scrutiny made him smile and arch his back, rubbing himself against Jack’s groin, eliciting a fervent “Jesus, lad!” from the pirate. He lifted a languid arm and drew Jack’s mouth to his, savoring the flavours mixing on his tongue. With one eye he watched James draw an audible breath as his gaze darkened. Will held out his other hand and James stepped within the circle of his arm, bending his head to join the kiss; three tongues stroking and gliding, dipping into first one mouth and then another in a flickering dance that made Will writhe.
James raised his head and caught Jack’s eye. “Hold him,” he murmured, and Jack winked, grinning, as James ran his hands down Will’s sleek sides to his hips, and sank slowly to his knees.
Will cried out as James’s mouth engulfed him in heat. His arm tightened convulsively around Jack’s neck and Jack bit at his lips, chuckling. “It gets better, boy,” he whispered, “just you wait.” Will forced his eyes open, looked down, and the sight nearly undid him. James slowly leaned back, drawing lips and tongue firmly along the glistening length of him, flicking delicately at the head before sucking him in again. In to the very root. Will could feel James’s throat easing to let him in, muscles working and clenching deliciously. He reached out an unsteady hand and James looked up at the touch. Blazing green eyes met his, sending a jolt straight to his groin, and he moaned; hand clutching in dark hair, hips bucking. James’s hands tightened bruisingly on his hips, pressing him back against Jack, stilling him, and he groaned again at the sweet and maddening need.
Jack twisted a hand in his hair, yanking his head back. As that wicked mouth fastened itself to his throat, sucking hard enough to bruise, Will gasped and his eyes slipped closed, the combined sensations almost overwhelming him.
James fell into a rhythm, forth and back; long, slow strokes that held Will, trembling, at the very edge of control without allowing him the relief of falling over it. And, every so often, James scraped lightly with his teeth, wringing a soft cry from his so-willing victim.
When James slipped a hand between his legs, reaching back within the cleft to rest a finger tantalizingly on the entrance, Will thought he would go mad. He whimpered and his knees buckled. Jack clasped his waist, arm sliding on sweat-slick skin; holding him as he writhed down and back, trying to force himself onto James’s fingers. “Please,” he gasped, “oh god please.”
Jack’s mouth was on his, biting, James’s mouth was sucking him faster and faster, that teasing finger was eluding his desperate effort.
“Come for us, boy,” Jack whispered, “Come apart for us,” as James’s finger breached him at last and Will shattered; spilling himself into James’s mouth as he cried his release into Jack’s.
When Will regained his senses, he was still clasped in Jack’s arms and he could feel James’s tongue gently licking him clean. Without lifting his head from Jack’s shoulder, or indeed opening his eyes, he reached for James. “Want...” he breathed as James rose to his feet. He tasted himself on James’s tongue, tasted Jack tasting him as three tongues tangled lazily. He was drifting on the borders of sleep when he felt Jack chuckling and opened his eyes to find both men smiling at him.
“James, mate, you’ve half killed him.”
“Indeed. I see he’s but a frail thing, after all. Not quite the tough young pirate I was led to expect.”
Blushing, Will scowled furiously and plucked at Jack’s arms. “Don’t be ridiculous! That would have half-killed anyone. Let me go, Jack.”
“As you wish, lad,” said Jack, releasing him all at once. Will’s knees betrayed him; he staggered and would have fallen, had not James caught him. Both men laughed, as much at his look of surprise as the actual stumble, as James guided him the few steps to the cot.
“Dutch courage! Into bed with you, puppy. We will deal with you presently.”
Will tumbled onto the sheets and rolled over on his back; a shiver of anticipation brushed his skin. ‘Tough, young pirate’, eh? Well, if that’s what they expected… He stretched luxuriously; arms above his head, spine arched. A tiny smile quirked his mouth as their faces shifted from amusement to something darker, more intense. He murmured impishly, “Well, be quick about it. Pirates aren’t known for their patience,” and closed his eyes.
“Cheeky brat, int’ he?” he heard Jack say, “Let him wait.”
Silence. Will opened his eyes. Jack was removing James’s coat, sliding it off and down his arms, to toss it over a chair. James laid his arms across Jack’s shoulders and Jack’s hands slid round his waist, snugging them together. “Give us a kiss, then,” Jack smiled, as their mouths met. Gentle at first, they soon grew more urgent. Mouths opened, tongues probed. Jack’s hands moved downward to grip James’s buttocks as James’s lost themselves in Jack’s mane of hair. As he watched, Will felt a stirring in his groin. At last they broke apart, panting a little and smiling at each other in a way that made Will close his eyes again. That look was not for him to see, he was sure.
“Well, pirate,” James’s voice was low and intimate, almost tender.
“Well, Mister Norrington?” Jack replied as softly, and Will could hear the trinkets in his hair clicking as he tilted his head.
“You are, for a wonder, overdressed for the occasion, don’t you think?”
“If I am, then what of you, mate? Look at yourself – neckcloth, waistcoat, stockings! Off with them.”
There was a sound of scuffling and faint huffs of laughter. Will peeked to see a tangle of arms as James tugged at Jack’s sash and Jack assaulted James’s neckcloth. They got in each other’s way and hindered more than helped – pushing and giggling like boys (or, in truth, drunken sailors) – until James stepped back a pace. “Take it in turns, Sparrow. You first.”
“Turns it is, love. But I’m the Captain here and you’re my guest. Stand still.”
“Oh, very well.” James sighed, with a well-feigned air of long-suffering. He toed off his shoes and stood patiently as Jack quickly divested him of every stitch of clothing before returning the favour.
Naked, they stood beside the cot, kissing; long and deep and slow. Will stirred restlessly but they ignored him. The sight before him had him achingly hard again and he stroked himself with one hand. Finally, he could stand it no longer and, rolling on his side, he reached between them to wrap his hand around both erections at once. Two heads swiveled towards him, two pairs of eyebrows rose above identical expressions of amused challenge.
“Both of us at once, boy? Cocksure, aren’t you?”
Will licked his lips and pulled gently on the rigid flesh in his hand. “Both,” he nodded, “please.” Jack and James turned and shared a long look – a wordless conversation of nods and shrugs – before grinning at Will. Freeing themselves from his grasp, they moved, Jack to the head and James to the foot.
“Can’t ask fairer than that, can he, James?” cried Jack, climbing nimbly on the cot to sit with his back against a suspension chain.
“No, indeed, Jack,” James replied, as he did the same. “Such a courteous request must be honoured.”
Will looked from one to the other and swallowed, hard. Excitement, or was it apprehension?, fluttered in his belly.
“Well, boy,” growled Jack, spreading his legs and cocking his hips, “what are you waiting for?”
Will rose to all fours and crawled up between Jack’s widespread thighs and raised his face. Jack leant forward and kissed him hard and fast before lounging back, with a grin. “Have at it, lad.”
Will bent his head and took Jack in his mouth, swirling his tongue around the head before taking him deeper. Jack groaned and the cot swayed as his head fell back against the chain. Will pulled back and grinned up at him before settling down on his elbows and turning his attention wholly to sucking and teasing Jack altogether out of his mind. He rocked his body back and forth on his knees, smoothly gliding his lips along Jack’s full length and flicking each time at the head with his tongue. He hummed low in his throat and Jack groaned again.
So absorbed was he in his pleasurable task that he started at the touch of James’s hands on his thighs – urging them to part. He instinctively tried to draw back, although in no way unwilling, but Jack would not allow it. The pirate’s hands fisted in his hair, holding him in place. “Both at once, boy, that was the offer. Too late now to change your mind. Spread your knees.”
Will hastened to obey, parting his legs and curving his back invitingly while carefully maintaining his rhythmic sucking. James pressed against his thighs and a slick finger entered him. He moaned, and Jack’s hands tensed in his hair. The finger withdrew, leaving an aching emptiness that was soon filled, overfilled and stretched into ecstasy as James entered him. He wailed soundlessly, throat working, as he took Jack as deeply as he could, while James buried himself utterly within his spasming body.
James grasped his hips, fingers pressing on the earlier bruises and making Will groan at the added sweet ache. James rocked back slightly, drawing Will with him, giving Jack room to move. Will panted, body clenching around the invading flesh, as Jack and James leant forward over his sweating back, mouths urgent, teeth clicking. “After you,” James whispered and Jack nodded and leant back, eyes locked with James’s.
Will was beyond thought; overwhelmed, undone, swept away. He had never imagined that anything could feel like this. His head was full of the chant ‘please, please, please’ but he was unaware of it, couldn’t have said if his life depended on it what he was pleading for. He was for the moment an instrument of their pleasure and thereby his own, existing solely in their use of him and content to have it so.
James withdrew part way and thrust gently back in, …again, …and again; setting a slow rhythm that rocked Will forward and back. Jack, in his turn, thrust as James withdrew, matching his pace; the vibration of Will’s whimpers sending jolts of pleasure through him. After a time, Jack nodded to James and James held Will still against himself as Jack thrust harder and faster. Will struggled to open his throat as Jack fucked his mouth, sucking as hard as he could. In minutes, Jack gave a hoarse cry and thrust hard, spilling himself down Will’s throat. A few moments Jack slumped over him, hands slack on his head, panting, until James stirred impatiently. Jack smoothed the sweaty hair from Will’s brow and gently raised him. Will let the softening flesh slip from his mouth, felt Jack’s kiss and fell down again, pressing his face to the top of Jack’s thigh, where it joined his hip and wrapping his arms around Jack’s hips. Jack’s hands braced his shoulders. James began to move within him, pulling almost all the way out before slamming back in, a pounding rhythm that soon had him twisting and crying out with every stroke. When James reached to clamp an imperative hand around his erection he screamed, his convulsion triggering James’s own release and shuddering cry.
James fell forward on top of Will as he sprawled across Jack’s thigh and they lay, panting, still joined, as Jack stroked them both and waited for reason to return.
After a time, James stirred and lifted himself off Will’s prone body, his withdrawal wresting a gasp from each of them. He rolled to the side and helped Jack shift a barely-conscious Will to lie next to him as Jack slid down on Will’s other side. Jack half-sat for a moment, leaned over Will to kiss James briefly, and lay back down, his hand resting on Will’s hip. After a moment, James’s hand came to join his and they fell asleep with fingers entwined.
Will awoke before dawn, blinking at the light of the single candle burning on the table. His head was pounding and his mouth dry. What was wrong with him? He shook his head, trying to clear it, and groaned at the movement.
A dry chuckle sounded in the shadows beyond the candlelight. “The pup’s awake, Jack,” said James.
“Is he, now?” Jack replied, “Not very much awake, I’d say, by the looks of him.”
Will ignored them, swinging his legs out of the cot and sitting with his head in his hands. His breeches landed at his feet and he bent carefully to pick them up and pull them on. Once standing he made his way, staggering only a little, to the water jug and drank thirstily. Replacing the jug with care, he stood for awhile with his back to the cabin. Then, squaring his shoulders (a gesture that looked oddly forlorn to James’s sympathetic eye) he turned to face them, head high and a little defiant. He saw James, fully dressed and very spruce, standing beside the table watching Jack hop about on one booted foot as he drew the other boot on. Succeeding at last, he stamped his foot to settle it and turned to Will with a grin.
“We’ve got to get James here ashore before dawn. Good luck you woke in time to say your goodbyes in proper form, lad. I’ll leave you to it whilst I just go see about the boat.” And he strode briskly out on deck.
Will took a deep breath and slowly crossed the cabin to stand before Mister Norrington. He blushed but forced himself to look James in the eye. “Sir, I…” he said, and stopped, at a loss.
James smiled and Will was taken aback by the sweetness of expression in the man’s face. “I think I can help you, Will,” he said softly. “You are shamed by last night and wondering how you will ever be able to face me when we are both home again in Port Royal, are you not?”
Will blinked at him, astonished. He nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“James. Here and now I am James, young Will. Names are important.” James smiled, a bit ruefully, Will thought. “I have lived with this dilemma for some years, myself. It would be useless to deny that to you; not after last night. So, I know whereof I speak.”
Will blushed again and tried to smile. “James,” he repeated, dutifully.
“Now, listen carefully. When you get home, this,” James nodded at the rumpled cot, “this interlude between Jack and James and young Will the pirate never happened. You do intend to go home again? Not thinking of becoming a pirate forever, are you?” Will shook his head firmly. “Good man. I can see you have given this problem some thought already. Now then, when Mr. William Turner, Blacksmith and Commodore Norrington meet in the streets of Port Royal, this never happened. Do you understand?”
“I think so, si... I mean, James.” Will faltered. “We will be different people then, living another life.”
“That’s it!” James smiled again, “You just hold fast to that idea and you’ll do. Think of this as a dream or a tale you heard. Don’t try to bring it home with you, son. It will break your heart.”
Jack appeared at the cabin door, beckoning, “Shift yourself, man, it’s almost dawn!”
James picked up his hat from the table, took Will’s jaw in a gentle clasp and kissed him. “Goodbye, young Will. This never happened.” And he was gone.
Several months later, on a fine and sunny day, Mr. William Turner, Blacksmith, but lately returned himself from an extended and somewhat mysterious holiday, came down to the docks at Port Royal to meet the ship bearing his wife and daughters back from their year in England. As he waited for the ship to be warped in to the quay, he happened to encounter Commodore Norrington, who had likewise come to meet the new arrival. Their greeting was formal, their faces sober, but a discerning observer (for example, a certain notorious pirate captain, mercifully absent) might have seen a lurking twinkle in their eyes and just a hint of warmth in the handclasp they exchanged.
As the gangway was lowered into place, the passengers bustled about, preparing to debark. The girls’ excited squealing reached their ears, making them smile. Mr. Turner glanced at the Commodore, his mind comparing for just a moment the small and rather bleak curling of his lips with the broad and amazingly sweet smile of a dark-haired man in a brown coat. Giving himself a mental shake, he said to himself, “it never happened, you fool.” Nonetheless, he turned to the Commodore to issue an invitation, and that certainly would not have happened a year ago.
“Sir,” said Mr. Turner, “I should be honoured if you would be so kind as to join my wife and me for dinner this day week. Once the confusion of homecoming is behind us, she will be most anxious to see you after her long time away.”
If the invitation surprised Norrington, he was far too clever to let it show. “It will be my pleasure, Mr. Turner,” replied the Commodore, with a slight and very correct bow.
“My thanks, Commodore,” Mr. Turner bowed. “Good day to you, sir.”
“And to you, sir,” replied the Commodore.
And so, Mr. William Turner, Blacksmith, turned his back (more or less) on what never happened to greet his lovely wife and daughters.
Returning later that day to his office in
the Fort, Commodore Norrington reflected on the friendly invitation offered
him, and he realized, with amused exasperation, that Mr. Turner seemed to
have learnt the habit of walking a mighty fine line during his days at sea
with a certain unnamed pirate. He sighed. Life just got a bit more
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