AN: Hey everyone! So sorry for the delay, major computer issues. It's a nice long one to make up for it though, full of lots of mushy goodness you guys have probably been craving. Please enjoy and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!
Will blinked against the sunlight, shielding his eyes with one hand, the other wrapped securely around Elizabeth. He smiled, feeling the bump of her belly along his hip, savoring this rare moment of utter peace. Softly, he brushed his lips over her face until he reached her delicate mouth, his kisses nudging her awake.
"Good morning," he whispered.
She answered with a small groan. "It's far too early for anything to be good about it."
"You're lucky I love you enough to give you a bit of lie in then." He let his kiss turn lingering, groaning when hers turned insistent. "Unless, of course, I can interest you in something that requires a little more effort?"
"I am more than up for that, good sir." Just as he settled her over his lap, her stomach interrupted them with a loud rumble and Will grumbled into her collarbone. "Your child, on the other hand…"
"Fine, fine. Breakfast it is then." Still, he couldn't resist kissing his way down her body until his face was level with their unborn baby. "And good morning to you, Sa-"
"Savannah," Elizabeth cut in, tilting his chin up, her voice suddenly turning stern. "Her name is Savannah Marie Turner. That's what we're calling her. Do you understand me? Savannah."
Shooting her a playful smirk, he planted a smacking kiss on her belly. "Good morning, Savvy."
"She's not going by that."
"Oh, yes she is." At her glare, he tickled her sides until she relented. "You're the one that bet the baby's name against Jack, luv, not me."
She fell back against the pillows in a huff, explaining yet again, "I had four aces!"
"And he had a straight flush, which means in three months, we're going to be holding our beautiful little Savvy in our arms." Sliding out of bed, he hurried to dress when he heard Lucy's voice from the hallway, gently scolding the twins, Abigail and Annie, as they tried to sneak into her room. "Ah, the horde awakens. What shall I forage for them and my bride?"
"Omelets," Elizabeth replied, burrowing into the blankets to steal a few more minutes of rest, which Will was all too happy to give her. "Big, fluffy omelets with lots of ham."
Will laughed to himself. They never needed to do a gender test anymore. In this, her fourth pregnancy, Elizabeth craved eggs in every variety with all the girls. The only time she hadn't been able to tolerate them was their son's first trimester.
Leaning down, he stole one more kiss, still finding it hard to believe after all these years that happiness felt like this. "Deal," he said, nuzzling his cheek into her hand, never tiring of feeling her wedding band on his skin…
Will's eye snapped open, every sense immediately on alert as he awoke in a strange place. Trying to get up, he felt a weight across his chest, blinking in amazement when he breathed in Elizabeth's indelible floral scent; the night before crashed around his mind in fragments until he registered her bare skin pressed to his, one moment in particular etched permanently to his soul:
She loved him.
Elizabeth Swann loved him.
How it happened would forever remain a mystery to him. Staring up at the ceiling of his old bedroom, Will was disbelieving that the last twelve hours or so had unfolded the way they had. Wrapping his free arm around her shoulder, he pulled her tight against him as she slept, afraid to let her go; afraid if he did for even a moment, he'd wake from this dream to a cold reality where she'd rightfully left him knocked down in the pub.
But she hadn't. She had screamed and raged and probably come close to strangling him in her anger. Yet just when he was convinced that he was (finally) irredeemable in her eyes, just when he had convinced himself that he was (finally) strong enough to let her go for her own good, Elizabeth threw his noble intentions to the wayside by kissing him into submission and declaring her love for him with such vehemence he had eventually let himself be pulled under. Before he knew what was happening, he was kissing her back with all the longing he had suppressed these past months. Right when the thought formed that he had never wanted a woman more, she took off that damnable dress that had nearly killed him at first sight, showing everything she was giving to him with her changing body. Control was impossible after that and they spent the rest of the night in the throes of lovemaking, letting their bodies reconfirm over and over again what had been unspoken for too long:
He loved her and by a miracle he'd never understand, she loved him in return.
Whatever debt he owed the universe, he'd pay it gladly ten times over to be able to hold her like this. Running his fingers through her hair, he shifted slightly to kiss her forehead, smiling when she snuggled further into his chest.
I'll make myself worthy of you, he vowed silently to her. No matter what, I'll do whatever it takes to be who you need me to be.
A loud buzzing against the floor ended his contemplation and he slid as carefully out of Elizabeth's embrace as he could, laying her head gently on the pillow and covering her before searching for his phone. When he found it, the text message from Bria was short and to the point:
"Your daughter will call in two minutes. Don't be starkers when she does."
With quiet haste, he pulled on his boxers and undershirt, just closing the bedroom door behind him when the phone buzzed again with Bria's number. "Hey sweetheart," he answered. "How are you?"
"Daddy, how did you know it was me?"
"Because I wanted it to be you." Stepping onto the deck he nearly stumbled over a pair of Lucy's sandals, wondering for half a second where they'd come from before he focused on the little girl hundreds of miles from him. "I missed you so much, I wished you into calling me."
"I miss you, too, and Elizabeth. Can I say good morning to her?"
"Uh, she's, um, still sleeping."
"She is? Doesn't she have work?"
In fact, she didn't on account of Will calling in a few favors with Anamaria. There had been nebulous hopes of how they'd share their weekend together, all of which had a good chance of happening, but none which he could share with a five-year-old.
To cover, he asked, "You are on the biggest adventure of your life, young lady, and all you can talk about is a grown-up's work hours? You must be bored out of your mind there. Maybe you and Bria should come back."
"NO!" Lucy cried out in horror. "We haven't even gone on the pirate ride yet! I need to go on it at least twenty times before we can leave!"
"Twenty times? That sounds like a challenge. What else are you going to do?" Will asked, leaning against the rail. The next ten minutes were spent listening to Lucy chatter on about fireworks, waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse, and an itinerary of rides that left her jumping on the bed in her excitement of just thinking about them. Will let her ramble uninterrupted, simply happy to hear her voice. "I miss you," he said when there was a break in the conversation. "I wish I could be there, Lucy-Goosey."
"You can come next time. I'll know everything the four of us should do then so I'll have to be in charge."
"You, me, Elizabeth, and my brother."
For the first time, Will let himself see a future where they weren't fragmented into pairs – he with Lucy and Elizabeth with the baby – but one where they were all together. Not off on a magical vacation somewhere one day, just here at the house, sharing a mundane breakfast together; Elizabeth braiding Lucy's hair for school while Will tried to coax another mouthful of porridge into their uncooperative son; sharing looks of amusement over the kids' heads; perhaps even imagining adding another child to the chaos.
"Yeah," Will agreed quietly. "Yeah, the four of us together sounds amazing."
"Bria wants to talk to you now, Daddy."
"Okay, you go brush your teeth then. Front and back for two minutes."
"I will. Oh, and did you remember to read a bedtime story to all my stuffed animals last night? I don't want them to be scared because I'm not there."
Nope, got a little busy. In more ways than one.
Will barely held back a snort at his unintentional pun before he recovered with, "They were actually all fast asleep when I got in and I didn't want to wake them. I will tell them two tonight, though, deal?"
"Deal." Through the phone, she sent him a noisy kiss. "I love you!"
"Love you more," he replied with his own kiss.
"That better have been for the child and not for me," Bria told him, sounding as if she swallowed a mug full of gravel. "Because I will find a way to slap you from a different continent."
"How did she do? Was she scared or too-?"
"She tried to make friends with every bloody person she saw at the hotel, including the staff. The bellhop was in here almost a half hour before she let him leave. You do know you've actually raised her to be quite resilient, right? There's not much cause to worry over her cowering in the corner."
"I know, I just…"
"Yes, merciless wench that I am, I understand. Your girl is aces, how's mine?"
Will saw Elizabeth as he left her, breathing evenly amongst the rumpled sheets, looking more beautiful than any fantasy he had concocted since he met her. "She's asleep," he said, feeling his face break into a wide grin.
Bria sighed softly with acceptance, hearing everything he didn't say. "If you break her heart, I swear on every piece of Gucci I own that I will kill you."
"If I ever did, I'd let you."
"Smart boy. Alright, I'm going to go let my ears be assailed by screeching children and cartoon music for eight hours while you continue debauching my best friend so do me a favor: Lizzie is pregnant-"
"Really? Hadn't noticed."
"-and has wanted to shag your bits off for months now." His skin flushed and he shifted, his body still responding to the idea even though they had spent the night doing so. "Don't let her overdue it is all I'm asking. She's not always good at knowing her limits when she's randy. Save the Karma Sutra fun for after the bairn is evicted, eh?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jack emerge from his house and begin to wander over. "Just keep Lucy safe and take lots of pictures. I'll call tonight."
"Unless your mouth is otherwise occupied."
"Goodbye, Bria." Hanging up the phone, he nodded towards his old friend. "Early morning for you."
Jack thrust a heavy brown bag into Will's arms. "Breakfast, courtesy of me lady." He leered knowingly. "She figured Lizzie would be quite preoccupied this fine morn and you, of course, are quite lackin' in the culinary arts."
"I kept my daughter healthy with my cooking all these years."
"She's young. Her system could digest feces-flavored cardboard if it had to."
"Well, thank you then." He peered inside to find a variety of warm muffins and wrapped breakfast sandwiches. "Anamaria send this from the café?"
"She did, 'long with this." Jack smacked him hard upside the head, making Will see stars for a brief second. "What you get when you go lookin' for trouble with Palmer and his pestilent-ridden cockstains."
"I wasn't looking for it," Will denied with a glare, which Jack met dubiously. "You didn't hear what they were saying about Elizabeth, right to my face."
"Where they near her when they said it?"
"Any of them have a weapon on them?"
"Of course not."
"And did they say they'd find her when she was by her lonesome somewhere?" At Will's brooding silence, Jack continued, "Then you be a real man and walk away next time."
"Jack, I couldn't-"
"Not even a week ago, you nearly lost your marbles after defendin' Lizzie from an actual threat 'cause you knew how easy it would be for you to wind up back in the clink." Jack clucked his tongue in disapproval. "How quickly we forget, young Turner."
Will brought himself up to full height, getting close enough to Jack's face that he could count every whisker on it. "So you're telling me if some chaps came up to you saying Anamaria deserved not dinner and dancing, but a few hours on a mattress in the back of a van, like the whore she really is, you could have been a 'real man' and walked away?"
Jack gave him a cruel smile. "Not in a million years for a million dollars. Of course, you are forgettin' that I don't have a precocious little girl who would be most devastated if she had to be told her daddy was sittin' alone in a jail cell." Properly chagrined, Will cast his eyes away, flinching slightly when Jack clasped a hand on his shoulder. "Luckily, the coppers were otherwise occupied last night so you should be in the clear. Although, Colum did say that Palmer was yappin' about gettin' a bloodsucker to sue you for grievous bodily harm."
"Don't worry. Plenty of witnesses to say you was provoked and even if there aren't, money does wonders for people's memories."
Will narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "You wouldn't actually…?"
"You're finally earnin' a decent wage on your own, whelp. Stupid as you were, I'm not gonna let a drug pusher take it from you for simply defendin' your lady's honor." He cocked his head towards the house. "Assumin' that she is your lady now, correct?"
Will nodded, staring thoughtfully out onto the water. "If she'll have me, then yes."
"Good. Took you long enough." With that last dig, Jack was off, wobbling through the sand and Will smiled in his wake. For all of Jack's faults that brought him endless grief and frustration, without the wily pirate there would be no good in Will's life either:
No friends that he'd die for.
No sailing adventures that most dreamed of.
After last night, such a notion was too much. Striding inside, he quickly put their makeshift breakfast together on a tray with drinks and tiptoed quietly back into Elizabeth's room, stopping along the way in the bathroom to swish around some mouthwash. In her sleep, she had turned onto her back and while she remained covered, the curve of her belly was noticeable beneath the thin sheets. He sat the tray on the crowded end table, accidently knocking over a notebook full of Elizabeth's scribbled writing and despite himself, he sat on the bed to read through it, smiling wider when he saw dozens of lists: some do's and don'ts for expectant mothers; items to buy for the baby; new recipes for the café; and even an extensive one for Lucy's upcoming birthday.
An inflatable pirate ship? Will thought bemusedly. God, she and Lucy were made for each other.
A gentle hand cupped his right cheek and he glanced down to find Elizabeth staring sleepily up at him. "Hi," she whispered.
"Hi." When she didn't speak again, Will felt a small sense of panic begin to engulf him until he remembered how sure she had been last night. Seeing as she took the lead then, he figured it was his turn to take the initiative and he leaned down to kiss her lips, sighing inwardly when her hand moved to pull his head closer.
She didn't regret it. She didn't regret picking him.
Finally, she released him, keeping her hand on his cheek and stroking his stubble. "You were snooping."
"Only a little."
"I should punish you for that."
"But I brought a peace offering." He placed the tray carefully over her lap. "Am I forgiven?"
"Only a little."
Suddenly, Will remembered something and stood, unable to stop himself from pressing another quick kiss to her lips. "Be right back." When he returned with a jar of peanut butter, he was surprised to find that she had pulled on his wrinkled shirt from the night before but found the sight almost as alluring as her naked flesh and chose to simply present her with his offering. "For you, my lady."
"My hero," she mocked impishly, her hand fluttering to her chest before tucking in to breakfast, breaking off bits of banana-walnut muffins to dip into the spread. "Suppose I'm becoming quite predictable and boring after all this time."
Will couldn't resist teasing back. "Maybe a bit. Lucky for you, though, you bake wonderful sweets and have gorgeous legs, so I'll put up with you."
"I love you too." Hearing her say the words so simply hit him nearly as hard as the night before and it must have shown on his face. Elizabeth smiled, sticking her finger right in the jar before smearing a dollop of peanut butter on his nose, nipping it off in a flash and leaning her forehead against his. "Get used to it. You don't know how many times I had to stop myself from blurting it out all these months."
He tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear, shaking his head in amazement that they had made it to this moment. "Why didn't you then?"
The playful mood dissipated, Elizabeth lowering her eyes until Will tipped her chin up to bring her back to him. "Because," she said slowly, "I just wasn't sure…I didn't think there was any way you could feel about me the way I felt for you."
Has she secretly been concussing herself since we met? Will thought, aghast. Do I need to have Corrine take her to the hospital for testing?
"How could you ever think that?" Will asked her. "Did I say or do something that ever made you feel…?"
She shrugged, staring down at the bedspread, her fingers toying with the loose threads. After a long moment, she finally whispered, "You never did anything wrong. It was just every time you smiled at me or gave me someone to lean on or made me feel beautiful because I was carrying your baby, I-I always had in the back of my mind that you probably did all that with someone else; that I wasn't the first totally helpless pregnant woman you had to take care of because she couldn't do it on her own."
Will blinked, unconsciously pulling back to stare at Elizabeth – eternally perfect in his mind – baffled that she could even come within a football pitch's length of comparing herself to Rebecca. His common sense briefly shocked into a stupor, he blurted out he first thing that came to his mind:
"You're an absolute nutter."
Elizabeth's head shot up, her mouth open and her eyes starting to come back alive with fire. "Excuse me?!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sure there's a more tactful way to say that to a woman expecting but it's the truth. As Jack would say, you're over the edge and off the map."
"I wasn't saying it to be funny, Will!" To prove it, she reared back and began slapping him with a pillow, making him have to battle to get their food tray to the safety of the floor before he stilled her.
"You really enjoy beating me, don't you? Is that a bad sign for our relationship?"
"There won't be one if you don't start taking me and my feelings seriously."
"Elizabeth, the only thing I've been since the moment I saw you is serious." Tugging her until she sat perched on his lap, acquiescing but still glaring down at him, he brushed a tentative kiss to her collarbone. "Seriously smitten."
Even though she allowed it, she also wasn't in the mood to let him off the hook. "Forgive me for having trouble believing the words of a man who went to such lengths to avoid romance, except with one other woman before me."
It was a fair, clean hit; Will knew he deserved worse for how little thought he gave to the few women who had shared his bed until he had met Elizabeth. And with the surprise of her initial statement fading, he could logically see how Elizabeth had reached the conclusions she had, preposterous as they were. He knew with certainty that she was the only woman he had ever loved, romantically, and he couldn't imagine a time when there would be someone to take her place.
He just had to convince her of that.
No easy feat, given her maddening tendency towards stubbornness.
"It wasn't romance with Rebecca," he explained softly into her skin. "We were idiotic teenagers from broken homes that fancied raging hormonal lust to be the same as love. Deep down, I knew there was something missing in how I felt but I never believed I'd be able to find it with someone, especially after Lucy came. I mean, you're only allowed so much happiness in this life. I had mine in my daughter, so I learned to be content with meaningless sex with tourists every once in a great while." Carefully, he looked up to find her studying him, more curious than angry so he forged ahead. "And then you walked into the club – wearing that lacy blue dress I envied because it got to touch you, laughing bright enough to power the world for a few hundred years – and I had to be near you; had to hear what that laugh sounded like in my ear; had to know what it felt like to have you smile just for me. When I finally mustered up the courage to speak to you…Elizabeth, I was in love before you even knew my name. I was in love before I knew about our baby and I was in love before I saw how you are with Lucy. I just loved you even more after both things happened."
Her lips curled into a small half smile and she sighed, "Why do you have to be so bloody perfect? You called me insane and I still find you charming."
He blushed under her praise. "I'm far from perfect, I promise."
"Not as far as you think," she immediately challenged, her fingers coming up to run through his disheveled hair. "There's a lot of men – like the one next door, for example – that would have tried to disappear into the night at the prospect of unplanned fatherhood, yet you turned your world topsy-turvy to embrace it." She leaned down to kiss him, her own hair creating a curtain around them. "Twice."
Before either had a chance to deepen it, Will leaned away, wanting to make sure Elizabeth understood something perfectly clear. "I needed Rebecca here with me to make sure Lucy was safe. I need you here because…because once I saw you again and once I found out about the baby, I wasn't capable of living without you. Either of you."
Elizabeth's brown eyes blazed until they were almost black. In a rush, she mashed her mouth back to his, her hands trying to yank his shirt off while her hips slid deliciously closer to his. Her fierceness caught him off-guard and unbidden, Bria's words from earlier came back to him:
"Wanted to shag your bits off…Don't let her overdue it…Randy…"
"W-Wait," Will mumbled into her mouth, her hands gliding over his bare chest in pure, delicious torture. "We don't…If you're feeling tired or not up for-Whoa!"
With a force he hadn't imagined possible, Elizabeth had him flat on his back, wrists pinned above his head, fixing him with a look that scorched him and rendered him speechless. "I forgave you for being a sneak, then again for calling me a nutter," she whispered, her voice charged like livewire and her curves melding to every inch of him, "but for trying to deny me your body, Mr. Turner, you need to be punished."
Okay, Will thought nonsensically as her lips began their painstaking assault. She and I have very different ideas about discipline. Good to know…
Hours later, Elizabeth was nibbling on a cold muffin, her still-clothed back pressed to Will's chest while he struggled to catch his breath. Finally, he managed to huff out, "Never, ever let me find out the name of the bloke who taught you that last thing. Deal?"
He felt her giggle and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "Jealous? Would you cross an ocean to defend my honor again?"
"No, there's just at least a sixty-eight percent chance that I'd end up mailing him the deed to this house."
Her full-throated laughter turned into a small, happy gasp and she tilted her head back to look at him. "We're definitely having a boy. Sex talk gets him all spastic and jittery."
"Yeah?" Gently, he placed his hand on her stomach next to hers, straining to feel the baby's movements, his face falling slightly when he couldn't. "Nothing for me yet."
"Soon. All the books say it should happen in the next few weeks. Speaking of this little man, though, we need to start being proactive about getting ready for him."
"How so?" Will asked, his brain still awash with endorphins that were making it hard to focus.
"We need to start making a birth plan," Elizabeth explained around a mouthful of food. "We should go through any old things of Lucy's to see what's still useable. I need to figure out when I want to take my leave because I don't want to think of what Anamaria's face would look like if my water broke on her kitchen floor. We have to have-"
Tact wasn't his strong suit so far in their budding relationship, but how could he be expected to control his thoughts when he was still recovering from Elizabeth's "punishment"? Now that it was out there in the world, the idea began to take on a life of its own and Will continued, "He's going to need a place to sleep, right?"
"So, there's three rooms in this house." Will kept his eyes resolutely on the ceiling, scared to look at her, and stroked her belly for a bit of nerve. "If…If you and I shared, he could have one all to himself."
He felt her still against him for a moment before tucking her head under his chin, her first question surprising him. "How would we explain it to Lucy?"
"Um, I guess tell her the truth. She's old enough to know that when two people are in love, they share a room. Honestly, I don't think she'll be confused so much as angry that I'll get to spend more time with you than she does."
Elizabeth smiled into his chest. "And you think we're ready to take that step?"
He supposed he could try to joke and play it casual, but he sensed how important this moment was. "Yeah, I know we are."
"Well, I suppose we'd be considered bad parents if we stuck this poor boy in a closet." Her fingers wandered up and down his chest again distractedly. He grabbed her hand, bringing it to his lips.
"You're saying yes, right?"
"Maybe." She rolled onto her back, arching it by stretching and smiling alluringly at him. "What do I get if I do?"
"I'm not a bloody machine, you know," he groaned, his body starting to respond despite his exhaustion. "You can't just…" Teasing, she bent her right leg, exposing more of the creamy flesh of her thigh, raising her eyebrow in surprise when instead of for her, he reached over the side of the bed, swearing under his breath, "Fuck me."
"What are you doing?"
He gobbled a whole sandwich in three bites, chasing it down with a bottle of water. "Sustenance. Apparently, I'll need a lot of it to fulfill my fatherly duties." Her coquettish grin dissolved into a shriek of his name when he leapt onto the bed, covering her body with his, raining kisses down it with unabashed glee, scarcely believing that it was all real and not some horrible dream that he'd eventually have to wake from.
Yet, it was real, proven over and over as the weekend progressed with the effort to move Will's things into Elizabeth's room, in between meals and bouts of lovemaking so frequent that even Jack would have blushed. No surface of the house – save for Lucy's room – was safe from their coupling. It didn't matter what Elizabeth did: whipping them up a quick dinner, clearing (miniscule) space in her closet, or even teasing him about how much time he took up the loo, the urge to make love to her was overpowering and he was done fighting it.
For the first time in his young life, he was in love. Every moment he got to hold Elizabeth, even the quiet ones where they simply whispered more stories and secrets to each other, was a treasure that he hoarded greedily. He belonged not only with her, he had realized, but to her. Lying with her as she slept at night, Will was struck by how wholly terrifying yet still somehow comforting it was to need someone this way, something Will hadn't expected. His only role models for relationships were Jack and Anamaria; more often than not, when they weren't pushing the boundaries of public decency together, the pair of them battled like petulant, medieval royalty sparring over land rights. While he knew they'd kill for one another, sometimes they couldn't even live in the same house for days on end, a feat he couldn't imagine with Elizabeth. Three nights sharing a bed and he dreaded the thought of being at work away from her.
He was totally under her thumb. Jack would undoubtedly take the mickey out of him, but Will couldn't care less. No bullet or knife could pierce the bubble of joy growing steadily inside him.
Walking into the shipyard that Monday morning, he smiled at everyone he saw, clapping backs and cheerfully checking on the progress of the various ships in their care. By their telltale smirks and jokes they told when they thought he was far enough away, they all knew how he'd spent his weekend. Again, though, it fell into the category of things that didn't bother Will anymore, a list that was getting longer by the hour.
The grin was still on his face in the late afternoon when Hank poked his head into Will's office. "Got a sec, Turner?"
"Sure," he replied, not looking up from a set of blueprint specs. "What's up?"
"I'll be gone for a couple of weeks on business in Asia. Are you and Nathaniel going to be able to keep things here afloat?" He grimaced as soon as he spoke. "Dear God, that was an awful pun."
"If there's such a thing as a good pun, I've yet to hear it. Don't worry, we'll be fine here. Everything's ahead of schedule except for the frigate."
"What's holding her up?"
"There's some rigging work that's tricky. The guys are having trouble with it. If it's still an issue on Thursday, I'll go up there and finish it myself."
"A hands-on supervisor. Definitely not my forte."
Will smiled wider, adjusting the last line on the blueprint. "Good thing, otherwise what would you pay me for?"
Hank finally stepped into the room, shutting the door behind him. "Well, if there's such a thing as a perfect segue, that was it." He placed a thin envelope on the table in front of Will. "Phillippe and his staff at the museum were very impressed with how the transport ship came out. I thought it warranted your first commission."
Will took the envelope with great caution. After he was hired, it was agreed that Will would work for a base salary and receive additional compensation in cash based on both the overall final product of the ships completed and how fast they were finished. Though Will's expertise lay in the repair and restoration work, he was relying on Hank to sell their services as it was a world he was still clueless about. Whatever money Hank made for himself was his own business that Will wanted no knowledge of, but he also secretly feared that Hank wouldn't get top value for the ships because – due to his enormous personal wealth – Hank DeMarcus might have forgotten the value of money to those under him.
Will prayed he hadn't. He remembered how much it had cost to take care of an infant and soon he'd have not only an infant, but a six-year-old that he wanted to send to a better school.
If the envelope was any judge, though, Hank's memory was short.
The short time she'd had him for, Will's mother had raised him to be respectful to his superiors, even in the face of his own disappointment. "Thank you," he told Hank sincerely, holding the envelope up in triumph.
Hank squinted and pointed at Will's cheek. "That from the dust-up at the Peddler?"
Will touched the healing cut self-consciously. "Yeah. I, uh, went a little out of my head I suppose."
"Jack told me. Nothing wrong with showing shitheads to speak of your woman with respect, especially when that woman has Mulroney blood. Let's not let it happen all the time though, yeah?"
"And let Elizabeth know I should have some more treasures for her when I get back. We'll all do dinner at my place one night. Or on the yacht if it's clear out." Hank made for the door, but shut it instead of walking out, sidling back over with a smirk and a nod to the envelope. "Don't you want a peek?"
With forced cheer, he opened the envelope. To his surprise, he found a single check instead of currency. When he flipped it over to see the amount, the number of zeros on it smacked him harder than Jack ever had.
What in the fuck?! Will thought, struggling to keep himself upright as he tried to calculate if he had ever earned in his entire life what he was holding in his hand. How is this…? There's no way I…
"You do excellent work, so I figured a little extra was warranted," Hank said in the face of his continued silence, a sly grin playing on his features. "I know we talked about cash only but if you tried to take that into a bank in bills you'd be getting some very funny looks. Plus, I'm sure you'd appreciate being able to take your lady out to a place nice enough where you won't run into shitholes looking to demean her."
Without warning, anger erupted inside of Will. His phony smile melting into a narrow line, he thrust the check back at Hank. "I can't accept," he said as evenly as he could. "I didn't earn this."
"Yes you did," Hank countered, nonplussed.
"No, I didn't and I'm not taking it."
Instead of frowning at Will's insolence, Hank chuckled, shaking his head in bemusement. "Know we haven't known that long, young man, but you'll find that people don't win arguments with me about money." At his nonchalance, Will's temper snapped and he made to rip up the check right on the spot. Hank strode forward quickly and clasped Will's hands tightly in his own. "I'll find out your bank account and deposit the money in straight away. You're just wasting a tree to insult me if you do that."
"I'm not a fucking charity case, Hank," Will hissed.
"No, you're a good employee who got an upgrade for a boss because he's actually willing to pay you what you're worth." The older man tilted his head in question. "Do you truly not understand that you deserve this?"
Hank's analysis was too close to comfort. It immediately made Will defensive, which made him lash out. "Do you really think I deserve this?" Will spat out. "Or are you just trying to find a way to take care of the daughter of the woman you never had the stones to tell how you really felt?"
If Hank's analysis was on target, Will's own had launched a projectile missile dead center through it. Though Elizabeth may have been overcome the other night by the photos, it had been easy for Will to read the wistfulness when Hank spoke of Elizabeth's late mother. After all, if anyone was an expert in pining after an unattainable woman, it was Will Turner and he chose to use that knowledge for spite. For the first time in their relationship, there was true anger burning behind Hank's eyes and it made Will see how the man had been so successful in business. When the time came for it, he could be utterly ruthless, without fear of nagging things like empathy. It was a truly terrifying sight and if Will hadn't been frozen to the spot, he would have tried to inch away, but he couldn't. An agonizing moment passed before Hank inhaled slowly and regained control of himself.
"You like baseball, Will?" Hank asked with dripping kindness.
"Baseball. Elizabeth's grandfather was obsessed with it. We went to dozens of games together because he loved the cathedral of Yankee Stadium and the sport, but I never got a taste for it. You see, it's too slow for me. Batter gets three strikes before he's out. Team gets three outs to score. Utter insanity. It can take hours that I just never have. Time is money, after all. That's why with me, people only get two strikes, and you, young man, just got your first one."
Shit, Will thought, his stomach dropping to his knees as every nebulous plan he had made for the future started evaporating before his eyes. What the hell am I going to tell Elizabeth?
At Will's staggered silence, Hank continued coolly, "Now, if you don't wish to discuss personal matters at work, I can respect that so long as you extend me the same courtesy. Agreed?"
"Yessir," Will mumbled, somehow keeping eye contact.
"Good." Hank used both hands to smooth out the wrinkles on Will's shoulders, his smile returning. "Now that that's out of the way, you're going to accept your most-deserved commission and take care of some unpleasant financial matters. I imagine you have some debts to settle before perhaps investing in a newer car or even a bigger house, right?"
Will heard loud and clear the tacit insinuation that he had best provide for Elizabeth or that would be his final strike. "Yessir," he repeated, lacing his words with as much contempt as he dared.
"Alright then. I'll see you when I get back." He clapped Will's shoulders with a force that neared the line of pain, but his eyes were solemn when he continued, "You're a good kid, Will. You caught some bad breaks and didn't let them break you, which makes you a rarity among your generation. Take my advice: the bigger your world gets, the more you try to hold it up all on your own, the harder it's going to come crashing down on top of you." With that, he was gone, leaving Will alone in the office, staring a hole through that blasted check, cursing his reckless mouth. Hours went by as he brooded in silence, tracing through the fight with Hank and its origins deep within his psyche until he heard the last of the workers start to leave the work floor as the cleaning crew came in. Quickly, he gathered his things and raced to the car, wincing when he saw the number of missed calls from Elizabeth and Lucy, via Bria's phone.
He made the drive home in half the time, the lights from Jack's house and the dock behind it the only source of brightness on the cloudy night. As he stepped closer to his porch, he heard raucous laughter from the dock and gritted his teeth at the sound of Bootstrap's deep chuckle.
Fucking bastard needs to lose his way from this place and soon, Will thought, pressing his anger down deeper. It was his default reaction to the man, amplified further by fresh conflict with Hank. Why can't he just leave me to my life in peace?
"Not like he gives two shits about me anyway," Will muttered quietly, taking the time to compose himself as he gingerly opened the door and flicked the light on, squinting in surprise when he saw a covered plate waiting for him on the table. Stepping in further, his surprise increased tenfold (along with his guilt) when he found Elizabeth curled up on the couch, a blanket haphazardly tangled around her knees. Sinking slowly to his own, he brushed back the hair from her face, watching the shadows from the moonlight play across it.
He could happily spend all night looking at her. Beauty was hard work for some women, but not for Elizabeth. It came to her naturally, the outside magnified by the sweetness and strength he was privileged to know was inside her, along with something else.
Or rather, someone else. Carefully, he trailed his hand to her belly, hoping again that his son inherited all of Elizabeth's purity and none of his own damage.
I'm absolutely scared out of my mind that I'm going to find a way to hurt you, Will told the baby in his mind. If and when that happens, though, I'm not going to make a run for it. I'm going to do everything I can to fix it. I'm going to always be there for you, even if you don't want me to be; even if you can't stand me, I won't let you go, okay?
"You can talk to him, you know." Will jumped slightly at Elizabeth's voice, glancing sideways to find her smiling drowsily at him. "He's an excellent listener."
"Is he now?" He softly pecked her lips. "What if I'm asking his advice on buying you a present and I want it to be a surprise?"
"Then the present should be earmuffs."
Will laughed and settled more on the floor, his tension ebbing away the bigger her smile got. "Do you really talk to him?"
"Uh-huh. We test out new recipes together. He's a big fan of anything with peanut butter."
Elizabeth chuckled before her smile turned softer. "He's very fond of you, too. Just now, as soon as you came in, he started wiggling around in there." Their hands joined together on her belly. "I think he missed you today. We were chatting earlier and he said we should try to wait up for you."
"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I just…Something happened at work that threw me a bit and I needed to reset before I came home."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Will's instinct was to insist he could handle it on his own but Hank's advice about holding up his bigger world all by himself had struck a persistent chord he couldn't ignore. Elizabeth was his world now, along with Lucy and the baby; as much as he wanted to show them his strength and bear his burdens alone, he'd be useless to all of them if he let his problems become insurmountable in his own mind. Strange as it was to accept, in order to take care of Elizabeth, he had to let her take care of him sometimes.
No matter how much he hated weakening himself before her eyes.
After a long pause, Will finally said, "Hank gave me my first commission today. We got into a row about it and I let things get a bit…personal."
"He didn't pay you enough?" Elizabeth ventured.
"No, just the opposite."
She frowned, slowly putting the pieces together. "You think he paid you too much? Because…Because of us, not your work?"
Will nodded, bracing himself as old memories he wished he could bludgeon away crept to the surface. "When my mum and I were on our own, after my bastard father abandoned us, things could get really bad sometimes," he whispered, unable to look at her. "If there wasn't enough work and it came down to rent or food…" Will swallowed deeply. "She'd go days without eating anything more than three crackers, just so I wouldn't go to bed hungry. Everyone we knew struggled to get by and there was only so much to go around at the soup kitchens or the churches. We'd go for help and some of the people working there would look at my mum like…like…" Will didn't realize how tightly he was gripping Elizabeth's hand until she laid her other on top of his and he eased it, trying to steady himself. "They made us feel worthless. Not all of them, mind you, but enough that taking charity left an awful taste in my mouth. When Hank handed me the check, I just…"
He felt her fingers run through his hair, stroking it lovingly and he leaned into them, amazed it had only taken a few days for something to become such a comfort to him. With great care and hesitation, he pressed his cheek to her stomach, giving in and letting her take the reins; putting himself in her hands in a way he hadn't with anyone since the woman he'd just told Elizabeth about.
As if she sensed what he had grasped, Elizabeth let the silence wrap around them like a warm quilt, their breathing and the gentle hum of the ocean outside filling the room. Her eyes never left his, never blinked or wavered in the face of his pain. "Whatever Hank meant with the money, it wasn't charity and you know it," she said at last. "He brings you these ships that are falling apart, beyond hope of saving yet you do. In your hands, with your ideas and your beliefs motivating all those workers, you find a way. Just like with everything else in your life." Her thumb toyed with the small dimple on his chin. "And even if this job with Hanks goes to hell, it'll be alright. You'll find something else while I whip up enough sweets to make everyone on this bloody island gain a hundred pounds." Will snorted a little and Elizabeth shifted up, taking his face in her hands. "Look, it's been a wonderful few days with just the two of us, but the truth is life's going to happen in the big, bad world. Nothing in it scares me, though, because we'll figure it out together, yeah?"
It wouldn't be that simple. Will knew more of that big, bad world than Elizabeth did and there were problems in it the idealism of love wouldn't overcome. Still, if she was willing to stand by him through whatever came at them next, he'd find a way to protect her and his children, no matter the cost.
"You're amazing." Nuzzling his lips into her palm, he shook his head in wonder. "Absolutely amazing."
Her eyes lit up brighter than Christmas morning and she reached behind her, grabbing her phone. "Nope, but I can show you amazing." She thumbed quickly through the screen, searching. "Bria sent me pictures. Apparently, they have these shops over there where they make kids up into princesses or pirates." Finding the shot, she turned the phone to him. "Guess which one your daughter chose."
"Oh my God, look at her" Will whispered merrily, his heart aching anew at the sight of Lucy in full pirate regalia: eye patch, tricorn hat, puffy shirt, even a toy sword that she held up with an adorable (though Lucy was probably going for fierce) scowl on her face. His throat tightened unexpectedly. It was such an odd contrast; cherishing this time with Elizabeth because Lucy was away yet wanting so much to hug his little girl all the same. Unable to give voice to what he was feeling, he simply said, "It's too quiet without her here."
"I know," Elizabeth sighed in agreement, browsing with him through more pictures of a beaming Lucy posing with characters or on rides with a wearied Bria. "No more big girl trips for her."
"She already told me she wants to go back after the baby comes, all four of us."
"That sounds like fun." He was secretly thrilled that she was agreeing to plans in the future, but frowned when she continued under her breath, "Hopefully I won't be such a whale then."
"Beg pardon?" When her face reddened and she kept her gaze on the phone, Will knew she hadn't meant for him to hear that bit. Refocusing his attention on her, he told her, "You know you're gorgeous, right?" Her silence was the answer, leaving Will stunned while thinking over their days together. For sure, their lovemaking had been mind-blowing and often happened whenever the mood seemed to strike Elizabeth, but thinking back on it, Will realized that other than the first night – running off sheer emotion and in near total darkness – Elizabeth had always kept herself covered.
Stupid prick, he chastised himself. So focused on your own end that you don't even notice what she needs. Time to remedy that.
Carefully setting the phone down, Will used both hands to ease Elizabeth's nightshirt over her body, slowing but never stopping as she tensed beneath his touch, until her stomach was fully bare. Her bump was still diminutive to his eyes, only slightly rounder than she was at her last exam, although her belly button was starting to pop out.
"There were times when I'd catch you out on the porch, torturing me with your yoga poses, that I'd have to run to the car to stop myself from taking you right then and there," he told her truthfully, tracing feather-light patterns across her pale skin stretched tight over their baby. "And then there were others when I had to run right into the shed."
"The shed? For what?"
He quirked an eyebrow up at her,amused. "To indulge myself in the idea of taking you right then and there." Elizabeth's breath hitched, her eyes darkening. "There's never been a woman who makes me…feel as much as you do. It's the obvious things, like your lips." He caressed them with his own, pulling away when she tried to deepen it. "And how sweet your skin tastes." He grazed the length of her neck, feeling her pulse start to hum, and he had to slow down to stop from losing himself in her. "And how nothing has ever hurt better than when you had to bite down on my shoulder to hold back a scream. I might have to get a tattoo of that mark."
"Will," Elizabeth moaned, locking her hands behind his neck to draw him closer, her hushed groan making his groin ache with need. He responded by tugging her onto his lap and gently laying her flat on her back against the floor, the sight of her nearly breathless with anticipation exciting him more than any fantasy or filthy magazine could. Still, before this went further he had to make her understand.
He had to take care of her the way she had taken care of him.
"And with everything your body is capable of doing to me, nothing makes me want you more than seeing this." He kissed a path down her belly, covering every inch of the swell until he felt her quiver beneath him. "This shows everyone in the world that you're carrying my child, my joy, within you; that I'm lucky enough to be yours."
"That we're each other's," Elizabeth breathily corrected him, impatience winning out as she tried to rip his shirt from him. He helped her along, then immediately took hers off as well, fusing his lips to hers afterwards as they spent the rest of the night echoing their newfound commitment. When they were sated and sweaty underneath the covers of the bed later on, Will's last thought as he drifted to sleep was that there was only one thing missing from his life.
He'd just have to wait a few more days to have her back, too.
Yet when those few days were gone and they waited at the airport for Lucy and Bria's plane to touch done, Will couldn't stop his doubts from creeping back. Lucy was inquisitive by nature; there were questions she was bound to ask that he didn't have answers for at the moment. As right as things felt with Elizabeth, Will couldn't help but to be cautious. It was the first serious relationship he had ever been in and he was determined not to muck it up by racing ahead towards the finish line.
No matter how much he was ready for the starting gun to go off.
"I should warn you," Elizabeth began, leaning more into his side, "there's probably going to be a lot of souvenirs. Bria with a credit card is a force of nature."
"Suppose there's no harm in letting her get spoiled once in a while," Will mused, checking the clock again. Their flight had been due ten minutes ago, but he forced himself to keep his anxiousness at bay for Elizabeth's sake.
"You might regret that come Christmas time." She peppered kisses over his jaw until he met her mouth fully, needing the distraction. "I picked up some of Bria's bad habits."
He leered and let his hand drift dangerously close to her rear, tugging her closer. "Well, I might to have to break you of them."
"Eagerly, if you'd like." Passion flamed anew and he traced his tongue with hers, not caring that they were in the middle of a crowded arrival gate, his body beginning to cry out for her. He was only seconds away from considering finding some kind of empty closet when she pulled back with a groan.
"Your son's going to be quite cross when he's born and can't use my bladder as his favorite play toy anymore. I'll be back." After another long kiss, she scurried away to find the nearest restroom and he amused himself by admiring the curves on display in her short sundress, wondering fleetingly how little he could convince her to wear as the summer weather progressed into oppressive.
All salacious thoughts left him at the sound of that sweet cry. Whipping around, he found Lucy running for him full-throttle, her sneakers squeaking against the tile. Unable to wait, he met her halfway, catching her as she leapt into his arms.
"Hey sweetheart," he said into her ear, trying desperately to keep the happy tears out of his voice. Holding her close, her heavy backpack weighing them both down, he grinned when she nearly choked him with her grip around his neck, pleased she had missed him as much as he had missed her. Needing to see her face, he leaned back, nuzzling her perfect little nose with his. "Long time no see, m'lady."
She giggled, setting her small hands on his cheeks. "I'm not a lady, I'm a pirate!" Pulling back further, he saw she was still dressed the part, only with a bandana replacing the hat to hold back her loose blonde hair.
"That you are." Will went in for another squeeze, feeling like he was breathing properly for the first time in a week. Being Lucy's father had been his defining trait for years now, so much that to shed it for even a few days had made him feel like a new man entirely. Now he'd have to find a way to merge the two as seamlessly as possible and create someone up to the task; someone able to balance his needs of being in a relationship with Elizabeth with caring for Lucy.
It certainly wasn't going to be an easy transition. He was sure he'd find himself pulled in different directions, never quite being able to live up to everyone's expectations, but for his ladies he'd find a way to make it work.
No, my two pirates, he corrected himself, kneeling to the ground and setting Lucy to her feet to get a proper look at her, struck by something almost immediately.
"This isn't the same one you had on in the picture, is it?"
"Nope!" Lucy said, twirling around so her red sash and vest billowed. "Bria bought me lots of them! And toys and stuffed animals and candy! And mouse ears! I have a whole bagful now! Anytime I asked for something, she said yes!"
"Of course she did," Will sighed, defeated.
"Bet your arse I did," the woman in question from behind them. Will turned to find her with the suitcases beside her, wearing tan linen pants and a silk blouse that probably cost as much as the check that Will had finally (somehow) deposited in his account. Bria pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head, revealing eyes bordering on exhaustion. "I couldn't drink so I had to satisfy other addictions."
He eyed the luggage rack speculatively. "Doesn't look like you did too much damage."
"Oh, they're all being shipped to your wee little birdhouse," she said smugly. "Doubt you'll even have room for all of it."
Will rolled his eyes and hugged his daughter again, still needing the contact. "Bria took good care of you?"
"Uh-huh. Guess what we did on the last day?"
"We rode a roller coaster in the dark!" Lucy pulled back, eyes still alive with wonder and she took Will's hand, spinning around him in a circle to burn off some of the excitement (and candy) that Bria's trip had filled her with. "Bria screamed the whole time, it was so funny. One time she even…" Lucy trailed off before letting her father go and gasping happily. With a start, she was off across the airport, leaving Will to watch in awe as Elizabeth met her with an equally happy shout and a bone-crushing hug of her own.
"She looks happy," Will heard Bria say as the continued to look on the reunion, Elizabeth admiring Lucy's outfit with great enthusiasm.
Will rose from the floor, nodding. "I'm doing my best, I promise. I won't let…" He turned to Bria, eyebrows raised when he found her sipping out of an enormous bottle of pricy vodka that she had pulled from one of the suitcases.
"What?" She shrugged at his look, taking another swig. "Your child is now back in your custody, it's allowed. I just hope the good Lord is kind to the person who invented the duty-free store."
Will could only chuckle to himself. She'd never be his cup of tea, but she was Elizabeth's family, which meant that she was Will's now, too. He supposed they'd just have to accept it at this point.
Elizabeth and Lucy strolled back to them, hand in hand, Elizabeth immediately pulling Bria into a tight hug. "She said you cried on Space Mountain."
Bria scowled at Lucy. "She lies, which is almost as bad as having horrible taste in clothing. She's been wearing those stupid outfits everywhere."
"Because they make me feel like a real pirate. And look!" Lucy wrestled something out of her bag to show them. "She got one for Felix too!"
"Aww…" Elizabeth said, stroking Lucy's hair. "That was so sweet!"
"No, it was just the only way to stop her whining about how much she missed the two of you," Bria corrected her. Stowing her drink, she studied Elizabeth appraisingly, turning her at different angles to check her over. "You don't look too terrible. That pudge though…"
"Is the most beautiful thing in the whole world," Elizabeth finished, sharing a secret smile with Will, patting her belly and smiling wider when Lucy cuddled into her side.
"Yeah, this is going to get pathetic really quickly," Bria muttered under her breath. Hugging Elizabeth again, she said, "I'm off. My layover's only an hour and there's a first-class longue calling my name. I'll ring you when I land."
"It won't even be sunrise here."
"Like that's ever stopped us." She nodded once at Will, fixing him with a stern stare, holding out her hand. "Mr. Turner."
"Ms. McKendrick," he replied, shaking her hand in farewell.
"She best be smiling like this when I come for the baby shower."
"Oh, I don't even know if I want-" Elizabeth tried to say before Bria silenced her with a finger.
"Anamaria and I are already in prep mode. We're sending the invitations next week. Don't come if you want, we'll just send you pictures of all the baby swag you could have gotten. Ta." Making to leave, Will saw her glance down at Lucy to find the girl holding her arms up, eyes pleading. With both he and Elizabeth looking on expectantly, Bria finally huffed loudly and gestured for Lucy to come over. "Fine, if you must. Just be quick about it." Giggling, Lucy wrapped her arms around Bria's slim waist, pressing her face into the woman's stomach, Bria doing everything she could not to touch the child.
"I had the best time ever with you, Bria, thank you," Lucy told her sincerely.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever."
"Are you going to miss me as much as I'll miss you?"
"Can't say that I will, no."
"You're so funny!" Lucy laughed into her blouse. "Elizabeth is going to help me send you lots of pictures for your house."
"Wonderful, I love getting crap in my mail slot."
"I love you."
Will would've traded his kidney for a camera at that moment. All at once, Bria's face softened to a degree he hadn't thought capable from her, a tiny smile slowly playing at the corner of her lips as a hint of moisture glazed over her eyes. Awkwardly, she set her hands to Lucy's head, patting it gently for a moment until she caught sight of Elizabeth's knowing grin. All at once, she schooled her features and pried Lucy off of her, surreptitiously wiping any trace of tears away.
"A-Alright then, that's enough," she said roughly, quickly fixing her sunglasses on. "Have a bit of dignity, why don't you?" She nodded goodbye to the adults. "Teach her to behave like a proper human next time I see her, aye?"
"We will, luv," Elizabeth sang, waving goodbye with Lucy as Bria sped away from them through the concourse. Taking one of Lucy's hands as Will took the other, they led her back out into the Caribbean. "You are absolutely exceptional, Lucy Turner."
"I know," she nodded in agreement, making them laugh while they waited for a cab before launching into a full recap of her trip on the ride home.
It was nearing dinnertime when she finally wound down and since it was her first night home, they decided to eat her favorites on the porch. As Lucy was helping Elizabeth prepare a salad, (finally out of her costume and in her pajamas) Elizabeth shot him a look over the table, asking him silently to begin what had been a well-planned discussion between the two of them. Taking a deep breath, Will plated the last of the fish and said, "Say, Lucy-Goosey? Can we talk about something?"
"So, while you were gone, Elizabeth and I…" He paused suddenly. Even though he had the words down to the letter at this point, it was harder to spit them out with his daughter's curious eyes boring into him. Clearing his throat, he tried again. "We, uh, got to talking about things and we…well, we decided that we…that is, it would maybe be a good idea if she and I c-could sleep in the same room." His blood pressure skyrocketed when there was no response from Lucy and he saw Elizabeth begin biting her bottom lip. When he could take the silence no more, he asked, "W-What do you think about that?"
Swiveling her head back and forth between the pair of them, Lucy finally turned back to her near panic-stricken father. "You're going to put all your clothes in her room now? And get dressed in there?"
"Yes," he said slowly, trying to see where she was going with this.
"You can still come in and visit though," Elizabeth offered, equally uncertain about the direction of the conversation. "We'll still have our girl time together, I promise."
"Are you going to get another bed in the room?"
Will swallowed, bracing himself by gripping the back of one of the chairs. "No, actually, we think it might be nice to just have the one bed and…and share."
After another long moment of watching mysterious wheels turn in Lucy's head, she finally rendered her judgement with a prompt nod and stole a piece of tomato from the bowl to munch on. "Good. I was starting to get worried."
His relief at her acceptance was so great that he almost missed that remark. "Worried? About what?"
"You two," Lucy said. "You're in love, like Captain Jack and Auntie Ana, but you didn't sleep in the same bed like them. I thought something was wrong." Going to pour her juice, she left both adults absolutely gobsmacked.
Where on Earth…? How did she come up with that?!
Elizabeth was the first to recover. "Lucy, who told you we were in love? Was it Bria last week?"
"Or was it Captain Jack drinking some of his grown-up juice and saying silly things to you again?" Will asked, ready to rush next door to beat his friend to a pulp.
"No one had to tell me," Lucy denied, concentrating on not spilling. "I knew all by myself."
"Because you were always looking at Elizabeth when she wasn't paying attention and she'd do the same with you," Lucy began to explain to them as if they were the children in this conversation. "And you'd both smile bigger and laugh more when you were together. Plus, you made her room all pretty before she came here. Elizabeth makes sure there's lunch for you for work. You shop together, you drive places together, you play with me together, and you're having a baby together!" Lucy looked to them, eyes crinkled. "Wait, didn't you know you were in love this whole time?" When neither could answer her, she shook her head in bewilderment and carried her dinner and Felix outside. "Grown-ups are so silly," Will heard her opine to the bear.
Will stared at her on the porch in shock, finally looking over to see Elizabeth biting back a smile this time. "The five-year-old had it figured out before we did," he told her, dumbfounded.
"Oh, let it go," Elizabeth said, grabbing the salad and plates, following Lucy. "Besides, she's almost six."
"Going on forty-five," he said to himself, taking the main course out to join his girls.
After a happy dinner together, they all sat on the steps, sharing a bit of mango ice cream that Elizabeth had made when Lucy climbed on Will's lap and pointed to the orange sky with her dripping cone. "Let's tell a cloud story, Daddy. Please? Before they all go to bed."
"Okay then." Finding the perfect one, he pointed it out and began, "That one right there, when it's floating over places that are cold, do you know what it is?"
"It's a factory that makes snowmen."
"And women," Lucy corrected at once, pointing her finger sternly at him.
"And women, of course. So, before the snow falls on the ground, there are angels up there that design what the snowpeople are going to look like and then they make the snow fall just right so that real people can make them into what they're supposed to be."
"But sometimes the angels play tricks on each other," Lucy continued conspiratorially. "One time, one angel named Calvin made a snowperson, then another angel named Tobias snuck over and instead of sending the snow to Norway, he sent it to Zimbabwe and then they got a huge blizzard!"
"They did not!" Will cried in mock outrage.
"They did! Ninety-thousand inches of snow! After that, Calvin and Tobias got into a such big fight in the factory, they broke it and all the snow turned into mushy green peas." When she paused, Will made to continue the story but she quickly put her hand up to stop him. "No, Daddy, it's Elizabeth's turn," she said before turning to look at the woman in question eagerly.
He couldn't hide his surprise. Neither could Elizabeth. Cloud stories had always been something he had shared with just Lucy, since the time she could comprehend stories. They had spent many a happy hour gazing up at the sky, making each other laugh and giving Will many of his most precious memories with his daughter. There was a sense of jealously that she wished to share this with someone else, yet when that someone was Elizabeth, it floated away in an instant to be replaced with a feeling of peace. Lucy was letting her into their world fully and completely.
It was right. Hell, it was help making their world complete.
When Elizabeth still didn't reply, he nodded slowly to her. "Yeah, how silly of me. It's your turn."
"Um, okay. Well, then, uh…
"Calvin and Tobias," Lucy offered.
"Yes, Calvin and Tobias were called into the office of the Head of Angel Relations, Ms. Pennyworth-Mouthface." Lucy laughed loudly and that relaxed Elizabeth enough that she snuggled closer to them, laying her hand over Will's. "She is furious with them; so mad, actually, that the feathers on her wings start clucking like loud chickens. When she finally stopped yelling about the proper decorum of angels and the cost of the clean-up, she told them their punishment would be two hundred and twenty-eight years of mud testing."
Lucy wrinkled her nose in disgust. "How do you test mud?"
"By seeing how runny and dirty it is by having it thrown at you," Elizabeth whispered loudly in her ear, drawing a laugh out of all of them. When her giggles subsided, Elizabeth asked her, "Well, Ms. Turner, what happens next?"
"Yes, I'm on the edge of my seat here," Will chimed in.
Again, Lucy looked at them if as if they were crazy. "It's not my turn!"
"Who's is it then?"
Shaking her head, Lucy leaned forward, rendering them both speechless again when she put her ear to Elizabeth's belly and listened for what felt like an hour.
The most perfect hour of Will's entire life. If Elizabeth's teary smile was an indication, she shared his sentiment, running her hands through Lucy's long hair with a contented sigh.
Nothing will ever be better than this, Will thought happily, looking on as his daughter bonded with her unborn brother, Elizabeth radiant in the waning sunlight. Wonder what will come along to take it all away?
He wished he could ignore such an idea, but in Will Turner's life, he'd had never been allowed to keep anything he loved for very long.
Frowning slightly, he wondered who – or what – would come along to take this all away.