You sailed back into Port Royal the day of Elizabeth's funeral.

You didn't know it. Not then. Not yet. You saw the flags at half-mast but that was truly nothing unusual. All those bloody British soldiers, dying all the time. It wasn't until that night you heard the gossip.

The beautiful Elizabeth Swann was dead, and only a few days before her wedding at that. Her fiancé, that Turner boy, well, he was devastated of course. Her father was a broken man. They'd buried her next to her mother. Such a tragic accident too. The horse was always flighty, but to buck at the sound of a gunshot? Terrible. Simply terrible. Such skittish animals, horses. Well, that was life. It had been her time, that was all. Still. Tragic.

You almost ran to the smithy. You were sure that's where Will was, and you were right. The fire blowing as high as those of hell and a mighty din in the place, Will slashing and parrying, fighting demons no one could see. You stepped in and slashed and parried back. You don't think he even realized you were there. Not for a few minutes. But when he did, he didn't stop. He needed a release from his pain. He needed to move until all his mind knew was how badly his arms hurt, how badly his calves ached, how his lungs seared with every breath. He needed thrust parry step thrust turn slash guard. He needed heat and steel and sweat.

It could have been hours, could have been minutes. Could have been days. But you were both trembling from head to toe when he collapsed. He rolled his head forward to rest on his knees, his shoulders shaking. From crying, perhaps, or maybe just from drawing in the air he'd previously missed.

Neither of you said a word that night.


When you awoke Will wasn't there. You found him at her grave, next to some flowering tree. The look on his face... you couldn't leave him here.

"Come with me," was all you said. "With the Black Pearl. Leave Port Royal, if just for now. You've pirate's blood, Will. I told you you'd need to square with it someday. Today's that day."

And all he said was "Yes."


He is Will Turner but he is not. He has his face and his name and his voice, but he is no where near as guileless. He walks as stiffly upright, and his manners are as faultless as ever, but the underlying desperation is something very new.

"Does it ever stop hurting?"

You admit you don't know.


He heals. He has almost found a peace now. You don't know exactly how or why. Maybe it is just Time working her magic, softening his memories and gently but firmly pulling his beloved farther and farther from him. Maybe it is the sea. He stares at it for hours at night, standing on the bowsprit and watching wave after wave after wave. Maybe it is because he talks with you, and you share stories you have never shared with anyone else. Of pain and of blood, mostly, which turn his mind away from his own suffering. He asks you for a story of love, but you aren't ready to share that one. You know that he isn't ready for it.


"Jack, would you do something for me?"

Anything. The answer is out before you think about it, but even once you do you would not take it back. Maybe have made it sound a little less desperate, but no, you would not take it back.

"Would you kiss me?"

He would ask you?

"You're the only one I trust, Jack."

Ah, foolish boy. Never trust a pirate.

Even so, your fingers reach around him to pull out that tie that holds his hair. And then your hands, coarse and callused and not as clean as they might be, grab hold of his chin and tip up his head. His pupils, you note, are rather dilated, and you wonder mildly whether it is because of fear or arousal.

"Jack..."

It is a light kiss, an almost sweet thing. Certainly not how you would kiss a whore, or Anamaria, when she deigns to visit you. Anamaria prefers things hot and quick, and whores were long disbanded of belief or enjoyment in things sweet and romantic. You thought perhaps you had been too, but Will seems to ask for it when he is like this. And like this, it seems as though you could enjoy it as well.

"Jack... would you...?"

You kiss him again. A little harder, and this time his hands come up to curl around your shoulders. It is still sweet, certainly. But this is chocolate and not sugar. Cloying, almost. And much more addictive. Two kisses turn to three, and hands slide from face and shoulders downwards. It moves from three to four to five, and mouths which were closed become open, and things which you never thought possible suddenly seem to be.

"Jack..."

You decide you most definitely like the way he says your name.


The lad craves touch. Once he knew that you did not mind, he rarely left your side. You are only too happy to give it to him. You wonder, briefly, if he even really wants you or if he just wants someone. Either way, you could not turn him away. You wonder who is weaker for it; him or you?

He sleeps in your bed, almost on top of you. You've likened him to a cat a few times, and the description is remarkably apt even though you've yet to hear him purr. He wears your clothes, and he plays with your hair. He threatens to shave off your mustache while you sleep. He is utterly and completely ridiculous and you love every moment.


"Anamaria says we'll be pulling into port in about an hour."

And?

"Don't you need to be up on deck?"

Anamarie can handle it. You pull him onto the bed with you, and he rolls his eyes.

"You're incorrigible."

Insatiable, you correct.

"That as well."


He has almost as many scars as you. You did not understand why, so you asked him for an explanation. He simply stared at you a moment before shrugging.

"I was a child in a smithy. Accidents happened."

That night you took special care to kiss every single one of them. Every scar. Yours you had earned. You had done stupid and foolish and even horrible things. You had seduced the wrong women and cheated at the wrong card games. He had simply been a child. He had been small and slight and (you don't doubt) clumsy.

"They don't hurt, Jack."

You know that, you snap. Twat. You still can't help it.

"You're so... odd, sometimes." His voice is raspy, caught halfway between a laugh and a sob, and that night the both of you sleep deeply and without dreams.


"Jack, do you think there's an afterlife? A heaven and hell?"

If there is, you know which one you are headed for.

"Don't talk like that. If anyone deserved heaven, it would be you."

No, not you. Elizabeth would be there, of that you were certain. But you... you are a pirate, after all.

"And a good man."

You hate when he does that. You hate not being able to say a bloody thing.


"Tell me a story of love."

You tell him of a boy with eyes that showed straight through to his soul, a boy who became a demon whenever he picked up a sword. Whose father was a great pirate, and a good man. You tell him of how the boy took a great and beautiful lady as a lover, and then a great and terrible pirate as a companion. The boy stole both of their hearts, of course. That was the sort of man he grew to be. He rode the fiercest of waves, braved the darkest of storms, and piloted a ship helmed by the damned and commanded by a man Hell itself spit back out. The aforementioned great and terrible pirate, of course.

"So how does the story end?"

Oh, the usual way. Sunsets, professions of undying love, lots of rum, happily ever afters, untold riches, and scores of children. No... no, wait. Scratch the last one. But the rest will keep.

"I love you too, Jack."


Ack. THE FLUFF. Well, I hope you enjoyed it, and for those of you waiting for the next chapter of 'Challenges', please accept my sincerest apologies. The story refuses to be written right now, but I'm not giving up on it!