Author's Note: A lot of POTC fic writers seem to have been smitten by the idea of what became of Bootstrap Bill. This fic started out that way but developed into something else. I don't really know how it will turn out, but I'm enjoying writing it!
Disclaimer: I don't own it. Disney does. No disrespect is intended. I am making no money from this and write it only for my own amusement.
Please read and review. (I try to respond to all reviews, but responses will appear at the bottom of the following chapter.)
A Pirates Life and Death by Ecri
The sea was cold and still with moonlight pouring down over the water and glistening like polished steel. The depths were not murky as one might expect, but even in the warm climes, if you go deep enough, water becomes icy and dangerous.
Down, past the seabirds, past the schools of fish and the dolphins, past the whales and giant squid, past the monsters seen by few men and so bearing no name at all save the generic title of 'seamonster' a man struggled to be free.
The moonlight did not filter down so far, so the pirate was spared seeing himself as a rotting skeleton, but this did little to lighten the weight of his curse. He heaved against the cannon strapped to his boots. If he had but landed in a better position, he might have untied the straps, chains, and ropes and walked to freedom, but alas, the canon had landed atop his legs crushing the bone and pinning him to the ocean floor. He had struggled for all the long years he had been down here, but to no avail. He knew he should give up, and, in truth, the rest periods he granted himself had grown in length until he sometimes sat still for days or weeks on end, but he always tried again. He always came back to the idea that he could free himself and find his son.
He did not know how long he had been here precisely, for he possessed no way to measure the passage of time, but the growth of barnacles along the cannon told him it had been years.
Then, miraculously, he felt a shift, a change in his being. He inhaled and the water filled his lungs. He sputtered and spat, but could not expel it, and there was no way for him to take in the air he needed.That's it then, he thought. They've reversed the curse.
He struggled for breath, part of him unable not to wish for life. It proved impossible as he had known it would, and Bootstrap Bill Turner finally found release gazing blankly with lifeless eyes at the cannon that had held him, his hand floating upwards reaching
Will Turner sat up in bed inhaling sharply, sweat soaking him. The nightmare had been with him since it had all ended, since Captain Jack Sparrow had sailed away with the Black Pearl and Elizabeth Swann had agreed to allow him to court her.
Time had passed quickly, but the dream had not faded with its passage. Will, lying still upon his bed, as if fearful any movement would shatter reality and plunge him deep into the dream again, tried to ease the pounding of his heart.
His father's demise was something with which he had struggled since his mind had pieced it together. His initial anger at Barbossa and the mutinous pirates of the Black Pearl had melted away into shock and horror when his own part in it all had become clear to him. He had killed Bootstrap Bill. He had done it himself when he had sliced his hand.
Forgetting his earlier need to be still, he pulled his hand free from the blankets and looked at the pale scar in his palm barely visible in the moonlight that flooded the open window. That mark had destroyed his father. He knew there was at least some possibility that Bootstrap Bill Turner may have managed to free himself from the weight of the canon, and perhaps the uncertainty of it all was difficult to bear, but Will could not cling to such a small hope. He knew what was most likely, and he knew he would be obsessed with these thoughtsthese nightmare images for all his life.
He tossed aside his bedcovers. He knew from experience, he would sleep no more tonight. At first, the dream had come only once in awhile. Then, it had increased in intensity and frequency, until, now, for the last two weeks he had dreamed it every night. Sometimes it came to him several times a night whenever he had been able to drift to sleep again or if exhaustion overtook him.
Dressing quickly, he decided to take a walk, hoping the night air would erase the last vestiges of the dream memory. As he walked he considered the twists and turns his life had taken. He had lived in Port Royal for ten years, since the ship on which he had booked passage, attacked by pirates, had been sunk in the Caribbean. His rescue by a ship of the fleet, by Miss Elizabeth Swann, had sealed his future. He had lost himself to her.
Upon arrival at Port Royal, he took an apprenticeship with the Blacksmith. The work was hard, but satisfying, and learning to use the tools had given him the chance to learn to forge weapons. He devoted his life to learning all he could about forging the finest swords in all the Caribbean.
As he'd grown, he'd asked incessant questions of his master, Mr. Brown, the blacksmith, but when the man seemed to prefer a good bottle–or a bad one–to conversation, it became prudent for him to seek information elsewhere. He'd fallen to interviewing everyone who would accept a question from a child–Navy men, locals, even the occasional dignitary. In secret, when his master slept off the strong drink he preferred, Will had put his knowledge to use.
Forging his first sword had been educational to say the least. He'd taken to memorizing each step he took and, when he failed, he melted down the product and began again. Sometimes, he did so when he had not failed, simply because he thought he could do better, and lacked the money to buy more such materials.
Mr. Brown had become less and less the master of this domain and had let the work of maintaining the smithy to his young apprentice. By the time Will was 16 he was doing all of the work. Few people knew of it, of course, and most assumed Mr. Brown still forged the weapons and whatever other jobs the smithy was required to do.
This didn't actually bother Will, for he cherished the compliments to his work others asked him to pass along to his master, yet it grew harder and harder to deny that some part of him wanted to be known for the work he did. Perhaps if the Governor thought him an artisan, he might consider him worthy of courting Elizabeth.
He'd sold his first sword to a man passing through Port Royal. The man had inquired where he'd gotten it, so Will had told him that he worked for the Smith. In itself not a lie, just not an answer to that question.
He made sword after sword and then had begun studying swordplay. Practicing for hours a day, he approached it much as he had his previous endeavor. Asking, watching, and practicing, he became an expert, and could often bear a sword in each hand.
He knew his desire to wield the weapon came from a desire to remain in control. When his ship had been attacked all those years ago, that boy had been alone, afraid, and defenseless. He had despised the pirates who had come aboard in the fog and had killed everyone on board looking for gold. They'd shouted about gold as they'd wandered the shipas Will had watched the people he'd sailed with all the way from England being slaughtered. He'd vowed never to be helpless against a pirate again.
In the irony to end all ironies, his own father had turned out to have been a pirate, and his search for the man who bore his name ended when he learned Bootstrap Bill Turner had been strapped to a canon and left for dead at the bottom of the sea.
He hadn't had time to consider his father's demise until much later. The night Jack Sparrow had left, Will had fallen asleep, only to awaken a few hours later with the dream, vivid and fresh in his mind. That's when he realized he had killed his own father.
Captain Barbossa, Captain of the Pirate vessel, the Black Pearl, had thrown him into the ocean to be sure, but as the other crewmembers of the Black Pearl, Bootstrap Bill had been cursed. He had lived down there at the bottom of the sea forWill didn't know how long. The horrifying fact was that Bill had lived until his son, Will Turner ended the curse by slitting his palm and bleeding over a gold coin and dropping it back where it belonged. That action had ended his father's struggles. He had murdered his father without a thought.
The thoughts and images of his dream increased rather than diminishing as he walked, so Will began to walk more quickly, finally breaking into a run. He ran as though he could outrun his own mind. He ran all along the waterfront until he felt his limbs would drop off. Then he kept running until his chest heaved with the effort. He dropped then suddenly on a rocky outcrop and cried himself to sleep beneath the moonlight. It was several minutes before the dream started again.
Elizabeth strolled down the streets of Port Royal with a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. She liked dropping in on Will while he was working. He was so skillful and able. She had often come and watched for hours on end, and had yet to see Will's master, Mr. Brown in anything other than a drunken sleep.
She walked now into the workshop, and saw him standing over a sword he'd just removed from a cooling bucket of water. The blade had ceased to sizzle, but he held it carefully, respectful of the blade he had forged. Apparently satisfied with his inspection, he was about to put it down, when Elizabeth drew closer and called to him.
"Hello Will!" she called.
Startled he nearly dropped the sword. He fumbled for it, and accidentally caught the blade, slicing open his hand. Hissing in pain and surprise, he let the blade fall, and held his hand against his chest in an attempt to stem the bleeding.
Elizabeth ran to his side. "Oh, Will! Are you all right?"
He nodded. "It's just a scratch."
She pried his hand open and saw the blood pooling there. "It's more than a scratch. Come with me. I'll take you to my father's doctor."
Will stepped backwards pulling his hand away. "I don't think your father would approve of that. Besides, I can take care of it myself."
Elizabeth looked into his eyes, surprised to see the dark shadows and the haunted expression. "Will, you look terrible! Have you not been sleeping?"
He wanted to tell her he was fine, but he was a bad liar. He had never understood how the crew of the Black Pearl had believed him when he'd said Jack had fallen behind, except that they may have taken his hesitation for sorrow.
He shook his head. "I have not slept well, though I have slept."
Gently, Elizabeth took his hand, wrapping it in a handkerchief she drew from her purse. Will allowed this, but refused each effort she made to get him to see a doctor. Something troubled him. That much was obvious, but why would he not talk to her about it? She sat with him for a time trying to ease her own mind as to his well being, but unable to do so.
When she left him to his work, she could not help but worry. She had noticed how distracted he was growing in recent weeks. Perhaps his adventures with Captain Jack Sparrow had stirred the pirate blood within him. Perhaps she would lose him to the sea. After all, he had the blood of a pirate. It wouldn't be surprising if he chose to follow that blood, those longings wherever they led. The thought stayed with her even as she tried to sleep that night.
That evening Will looked again at his hand. The painful throbbing took his mind off sleep.
Of course, it only worked for a short time before the demands of his already exhausted body began to take their toll.
Will struggled to stay awake, unwilling to see the dream images again. Though they haunted his memory when he was awake, it seemed preferable to see the memory of a dark vision that to live through it. Each time he slept, the images became more and more vivid to the point where he could almost feel the icy water and taste the salt of the ocean.
He forced his eyes open once again and stared into his cup of strong tea. The Pirates on the Pearl, and even Jack Sparrow himself, had told Will that he looked just like his father. Will wasn't sure how he felt about that. Bearing the name of a pirate and the blood of a pirate, was one thing, but he wasn't entirely happy with bearing the likeness of a pirate as well. As he pondered this, he didn't even realize it when his eyes drifted slowly shut.
Will Turner saw Bootstrap Bill struggle with the canon that lay across
his legs, his face obscured by the large black hat he wore. As the water
entered his lungs, panic set him to struggle for breath. Gasping, clawing
at the sandy bottom of the ocean, he thrashed violently, instinct denying
the inevitability of failure. His flailing ceased suddenly, and his head
tipped back. As the hat fell slowly from Bootstrap's head, Will Turner
looked into his own face and screamed.
Will leapt from his bed and stumbled to the washbasin on the dresser. Retching violently, he emptied his stomach until all that he could produce was dry heaves.
He took some time to clean up, taking refuge in the methodical movements and not allowing his mind to wander. At least the rush of adrenaline had wakened him fully. When he'd finished, he looked around his room for something to distract him. The room was small and he'd always kept it tidy though he had few possessions and didn't think he'd ever have enough to cause any clutter. The room was the attic of Mr. Brown's own home, and stood next to the workshop. He was tempted to return to the shop and begin working on another sword, but he knew the clatter might wake a neighbor. He never worried about waking Mr. Brown, as he had never been able to do it even when he tried.
What to do then, since he was loath to return to bed?
Another stroll, he decided, and dressed himself. His wanderings brought him to the docks, and he strolled casually along as he found himself wondering where Jack Sparrow was.
He looked out to sea, his eyes lingering on the horizon when he saw three huge and fierce looking ships approaching Port Royal with canon aimed and ready. Each flew the Jolly Roger.
Breaking into a run, he made his way to the fort hoping to sound the alarm. He'd made it halfway there when he heard the first canon shots.
Elizabeth woke to the sound of canon fire, and dashed to the window. "Not again." She whispered as she saw pirates running through the street, and, in the distance, three pirate ships.
She crept carefully to her bed and looked beneath it, bringing out a narrow box. Opening it, she drew the sword and scabbard Will had given her not long after Captain Jack Sparrow had sailed off in the Pearl.
"I made it especially for you, Elizabeth. It's perfectly balanced for you–not too heavy that it would make you weary just to hold it, but strong enough to go against any well-wielded blade." His eyes had shone with love for her.
Over the next few weeks, he'd given her lessons until her father had discovered it, and had forbidden her from pursuing such manly skills. Will had then offered to teach her in the blacksmith's shop whenever Mr. Brown fell into an alcohol induced stupor, which was often.
She knew she was no expert, but she was well able to wield the blade to defend herself. Strapping on the scabbard over her nightgown, she then bent and tore a few inches off the bottom of the garment, remembering Will's insistence that being able to move freely was of great benefit in a fight for one's life.
Heading for the door to her bedroom, she slipped through the corridors looking for any of her servants or her father who might still be inside.
Will raced towards the center of town, a sword in one hand and a knife in the other. He stopped several times to help where he could, dispatching several pirates along the way, and instructing anyone not able to take up arms to hide somewhere away from town.
He fought his way through the throng of people, some madly running for shelter, some deep in the thick of the fighting. He moved towards the governor's house, his only thought too reach Elizabeth's side and keep her safe.
He was still several yards from the house when he saw her out front, sword in hand, holding her own against a pirate.
He rushed to her and ran the pirate through without a second thought. He called to her loudly to be heard over the din of canon fire, rifle shots, and screaming. "Run, Elizabeth!"
"No! I will fight with you!"
He shook his head, already engaging another pirate. "You must run! Make for the treeline and keep going! You must hide!"
"I do not"
Elizabeth stopped hearing the desperation in Will's voice, and seeing it in his face. He deftly knocked the pirate he was fighting unconscious and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Please, Elizabeth. I must know that you are safe!"
Not knowing what else to do, she nodded, kissed him quickly, and, still clutching her sword, ran towards the trees, taking any women and children that she came across with her.
The siege of Port Royal had not taken long. An hour at most, and the fiercest resistance was crushed.
Commodore Killian stood in the streets watching as his men dragged the good citizens of Port Royal to stand before him. Each man, woman, and child was bound and divided into groups; those who would be offered life as a slave aboard one of Killian's three ships–and a slave to Pirates was a fair existence as far as the Commodore was concerned–those who would be taken as slaves and sold elsewhere, those who would be killed outright, and those who would be left behind to tell the gruesome tale.
His ships, the Revenge, the Serpent, and his flagship, the Marauder would be well loaded with booty from this trip!
Killian saw a scuffle as several of his men seemed still in the midst of confrontation. He drew closer and saw three of his fiercest pirates crossing blades withit could not beone man! He drew nearer, and pulled his pistol. Coming up behind the man who fought though he was defeated, Killian placed the pistol to the man's ear and cocked it. The sound froze the fool in his tracks, sword suspended in mid-strike.
Reaching around the man, Killian laid a grip of iron on his wrist, squeezing until he dropped his weapon. Then, he spun the fool around to get a look at him. The age of the man surprised him considering the skill he had with the blade. Killian leaned closer to him.
"You best surrender now, since you have no hope to escape." Killian turned to his men. "Three of you! To one?" The Commodore shook his head. "Disgraceful." He turned back to the youth. "What's your name, boy?"
The boy stared at the man defiantly.
The Commodore sighed. "We don't much care for theatrics or bravado, boy. Tell me your name and tell me now, or I may just send a bullet through your brain!"
"Will Turner." Will was reluctant to tell his name, afraid these pirates might have known his father, but he had to do all in his power not to be killed so he could find Elizabeth.
The Commodore's eyes narrowed, but he made no further comment.
Turning to his men, he spoke as though Will weren't there. "Put him with the first group."
The men nodded, and Will wrists were bound in front of him before he was led away.
Will watched as the Pirates sorted through the people, killing several, allowing some to live, yet all seemingly by whim or some strange calculation the blacksmith had yet to decipher. He himself stood bound and gagged at the docks with several other strong young men who would be taken aboard the pirates ships and used as slave labor, eventually given the choice to stay a slave or join the ranks of the crew.
He worried for Elizabeth, hoping she had managed to get far away. Those hopes were shattered as he heard a familiar voice screaming to be let go. Will turned and saw Elizabeth and several other women being dragged towards the docks.
No! His mind called out even as his voice failed him. He took several steps forward then thinking only of reaching her side, when one of the pirates guarding the slaves noticed his movement and hit him sending him crashing to the ground. He looked up then, not at the pirate who had hit him but at Elizabeth.
She saw him and stopped struggling causing the pirates to overbalance at the sudden cessation of resistance. Righting themselves before they hit the ground, the men tossed the women to the ground in front of Killian.
Killian considered the group. "Good takings, this trip. They'll fetch a good price. We'll sell 'em at Tongo."
Will recovering himself, got to his feet and stepped forward, knowing there was nothing he could do, but unable to accept such a sentence on Elizabeth's head.
She shook her head at him, silently pleading with him not to make things worse for himself, and maybe get himself killed, by attempting an escape that could only fail.
His eyes locked on hers, and he stopped in his tracks, unable to swallow the lump in his throat or the fear for her that swelled his heart.
To Be Continued