Despite his best efforts, the crimson blood was everywhere. Will's hand was pressed firmly against the wound on Jack's back. Blood seeped profusely between his fingers, soaking into the pirate's shirt and the makeshift bandages. He was terrified at how pale Jack's face was and how still the pirate had become. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. He was the famous Captain Jack Sparrow. If he was going to go out, it was supposed to be in a blaze of glory, not laying on a Tortuga street bleeding to death from being shot in the back. More to the point, Jack couldn't die now. He was the one person who had reached him when it seemed near impossible and had brought him back from the edge.
"Cold." Will started as he heard Jack speak. Releasing the bloody rags, he quickly pulled off his coat and draped it over Jack's body. A small group had begun to gather around them, the sounds of celebrating seeming so far away now. A murmur rushed through the crowds, and Will could hear Jack's name and angry tones as they relayed to others what had happened. Pirates were an unscrupulous lot, but to most shooting another man in the back, a man such as Jack, was unheard of. Jack was well known. If someone had wanted him dead, they should've met him face to face. This shouldn't have happened.
He pressed down on the bloody rags again, feeling the warm blood against his skin. He closed his eyes for a moment, drawing in a shuddering breath. Where were Anamaria and Gibbs? He'd sent a street urchin to tell them to come and bring Gibbs and Ana and to tell them to bring Cotton as well. The old pirate was as good a doctor as any.
"Stay with me Jack. You've had worse than this." Will said quietly, resting his free hand on Jack's shoulder. There was a soft chuckle from the pirate which descended into racking coughs. After it had passed, he grinned weakly. Will tossed aside the bloody rags and ripped off one of his own sleeves, pressing it against the wound again. With his other hand he kept Jack laying on his side.
"The Grim Reaper has always been the one I couldn't escape, Will." Jack said. His voice was so weak that Will had to lean forward to hear him. Jack's eyes were beginning to droop heavily in exhaustion and his breathing harsher. The life was leaving him quickly. Will couldn't help but notice the calm look in Jack's eyes. Never once had he seen him frightened, not even now when he was facing death. Will, on the other hand, was terrified that he was going to lose his best friend.
"The Pearl is yours. Take good care of her for me." The words sent shivers down his spine. The ship that Jack loved so much, that he would give his life for, was being put in his care. "You know what you have to do."
"You can take care of her Jack, not me. I'm not a captain." Will said quickly, tears welling up in his eyes. He could never be a pirate captain, not one of Jack's caliber. He had been raised as a civilian. The blood flowing from the wound had slowed.
"Consider this learning quickly." He said, attempting a laugh again but it only made him shiver in pain. He could hear Gibbs' voice telling people to move in the crowd behind him. He breathed a sigh of relief. Help was coming for Jack. Cotton would bind the wound and Jack would be fine. He had to be fine.
"This is ridiculous. Everything's going to be..." Suddenly he felt Jack's body go limp. His chest didn't rise again, there was no intake of breath, and his eyes had shut. "Jack?" Will shook his shoulder, trying to be careful so that he didn't cause him pain. "Jack?" His voice broke and he shook his shoulder harder. "Jack! Don't do this!"
Two hands rested on his shoulders and he fell back into Anamaria's arms as she knelt down beside him. The tears spilled down his face and sobs wracked his body, one hand still resting on Jack's shoulder. Ana held him, her eyes shut tightly and tears pouring down her face. Gibbs fell to his knees beside Jack's body, a look of shock on his face. The crowd around them had gone silent. There were so many thought to be scum that had invaded the town of Tortuga, yet when Jack Sparrow had fallen, they showed different faces. Suddenly they were human again, joined in grief over one man who had affected more people than he'd ever known.
"Rest in peace." The words slipped quietly from Will's lips as he stood on the deck of the Pearl, staring out at the horizon. The sun was setting, red rays reflecting on the calm ocean. Only an hour earlier they had sent Jack to his final resting place in the ocean. No one could think of a better place than that upon which he had spent most of his life. The men were all in different emotional states. When the body had been brought back, the men showed just how much they had respected their captain. Heads bowed, hats pulled off in respect. Tears made paths on dirty cheeks as proper respect had been paid.
His fist slammed down on the rail and he leaned forward, squeezing his eyes shut. Everything had happened so fast. That soldier who had been prowling around Tortuga untouched flashed in his mind. When he had turned to face Jack, the pirate had fallen into his arms and they had both collapsed on the ground. In a moment of shock, he remembered the flash of red. The red uniform of the man who had shot Jack Sparrow in the back. He had seen the arrogant smirk as the man had lowered the pistol and disappeared into the crowd again. But Will couldn't go after him. He couldn't have left Jack behind.
Slowly he opened his hand, watching the blood flow from his knuckles. It was odd. He didn't even feel the pain, but then again it probably wouldn't have compared to what he was feeling inside. Jack had been more than just a friend to him. Over the past few years, Will had come to look at him almost as a father. Jack had pulled him back from the brink of an existence that might very well have killed him or at the least have made him a very lonely person. He had put in the time he hadn't been obligate to just to return Will to his old self after a tragedy had changed him for the worst. He owed Jack so much.
The sound of boots on the deck alerted him to another person on the deck. Most of the men were down below, quietly drowning their sorrows in the rum storage, leaving only a few select men on watch. It had seemed like the right thing to do, giving them the night off.
The newcomer was Anamaria. She gave him a half hearted smile as he nodded to her and walked over to join him at the rail. For a moment the two pirates sat in silence, looking out to the sun half hidden behind the horizon.
"It's beautiful." She said finally, her voice thick as she tried not to let the tears break free again. "Fitting for his final good-bye."
"It shouldn't have been." Will said, looking down at his bloody knuckles again. "He should be here." He turned to look at Ana. "That night in Tortuga, I saw a British Naval soldier down in the main part of town. He was talking to another man and no one was bothering them."
Ana looked shocked. "But the Navy never comes to Tortuga." She said. "And just one man going in there alone is like throwing away a life." She said, her eyes narrowing. "Wait. Are you saying that he was involved in this?"
"He was the one who was responsible for shooting Jack in the back." He responded angrily, the need to hit something welling up within him again. "He actually smirked at me before he disappeared into the crowds and..."
"What kind of a man shoots another in the back? That's the way of the coward." Ana said, raising her chin. "And an insult to the legend of Jack Sparrow. An insult that needs to be rectified." Her voice became steadier, a fire rekindling in her eyes. The same look was mirrored in Will's.
"That means where we need to be heading is a place that has the manpower to do such a task."
"Port Royal." Ana said, then her eyes softened. "That means you would have to go home, Will. Are you ready for that?" She asked.
Will glanced back out to the sea, his gaze becoming distant. You know what you have to do. Jack's words echoed in his brain. He'd known all along what Will would do should anything happen to him. He would go back to Port Royal and try to reclaim his life.
"For Jack." He said finally, glancing over at Anamaria. She nodded.
"For Jack." She echoed and turned on her heel and walking away, most likely to call the crew together and explain the situation.
Will turned back to face the horizon.
"Thank you Jack."
"The rest of the story you know." Will said quietly. Elizabeth gazed at him, her mouth slightly open as if to speak. She couldn't find any words to say to him. Instead she lay up against him, resting her head against his chest and closing her eyes. She could hear his heartbeat in his chest beneath the rough fabric of his shirt. It reminded her of a long time ago when they would lie in bed after making love and she would listen while he slept. Then fate had torn them apart and she had dearly missed that sound.
"You came back to me." She said finally after the long silence. "All those years I never let go of you, thinking that you had died. The day Michael brought you to the house and you were alive I couldn't believe it. For some reason I have yet to comprehend, I don't think I gave up on the hope that you were alive even when all the odds were against it." His arm rested across her shoulder, the other slipping around her waist. Such warmth and love in his grip.
Will rested his chin on top of her head, still lost in his own thoughts. So many lives had been lost just so he could be here now, holding Elizabeth in his arms. Jack had brought Will back from a fate worse than death and taught him well. James had taken good care of Elizabeth and Emma, making sure they were safe and taken care of, loving Elizabeth dearly when he knew she couldn't fully love him in return. Dear friends all of them.
He finally moved and looked down at Elizabeth. "I had to come back to you." He said quietly. "I couldn't leave so many lives in danger." Elizabeth looked up at him and he saw the love there. He had kept his love for her close to him all these years, holding onto the hope that he would be with her again. Now here he was. "And I loved you."
"I love you too." She closed her eyes and resettled her head against his chest. "Please don't leave me again." She whispered. He stroked her soft hair, closing his eyes. "Promise me."
For a moment the only sounds in the room were that of the fire burning in the hearth and the tick tock of the clock in the corner. It truly felt as if he were home again.