Warnings: Death by curse (times a lot); beetles in ears; service to crazy captain, mutineer captain, squid-headed captain, etc; excessive piracy-related angst; semicolons; another Ragetti's-eyeball joke.
Notes: Another random bunch of snippets done for a LiveJournal challenge called "1 Character," in which you have to write one sentence on each of 50 themes, all centered on whichever character you claim. Harder than it sounds. I'm also doing Davy Jones, so look for that in a couple weeks.
It's hard to keep a timeline straight for a choppy thing like this, so don't try too hard to put these in chronological order. Think of each sentence as a different possibility of something that could have happened to Bill. Most of them fit together, though. Some constants made up by me: he started out sailing on a ship in the royal navy, married a surgeon's assistant named Anna who died when Will was maybe three, went to the Caribbean with legitimate intentions, felt/still feels an intense liking and loyalty to Jack (whom I imagine as being a more decent and leaderlike, though still strange, fellow before the mutiny experience), does not hate easily, and is very good at finding simple comforts in the worst of places. Assuming a 1790s setting for PotC, we have King George III on the throne and the existence of a small southern coastal English town called Newhaven (Library of Congress' online selection of old maps, oh yeah baby) in which I placed Bill's home life.
His hands shook as he pulled out a sheet of brown paper and started wrapping -- the courier downstairs waited as patiently as ever, but Bill feared this would be the last birthday present he would ever send his son.
There was probably a law somewhere what said you had to sign a contract in blood or some such, but no law ever quite seemed to apply to Davy Jones, and Bill found the selling of his soul to be frighteningly bloodless.
Once or twice, on those rare occasions the Dutchman took port, Bill caught a glimpse of a familiar face -- some crewman or other of the Pearl, looking downcast and strangely unchanged after so many years.
It was meeting Will's mother what started it all -- the beautiful assistant of some sawbones in Newhaven, who fixed up his heart as tight as the splint that held his leg.
The tales lied... no plan ever truly fell into place.
There was no blacker terror than the crushing silence of the deep, and though he sold his soul to escape it, the chill never truly left him.
Little Will would draw bright pictures of his father's ship in sunny harbors where the waves were harmless squiggles and the water was always calm; during the worst storms, waves higher than twice the mast, rope slick under his death grip, Bill would close his eyes and remember.
Hector Barbossa stole his life, Davy Jones his soul; but his blood was still his own, and the heart that pumped it, and the passion for existance that could still set it aflame.
"I shall frame my question more clearly, sir," said Barbossa, a dangerous edge to his quiet voice; "Repentance of your words and plunder, or a cold and watery grave?" -- but Bill still said nothing.
The captains' quarters on those ships of His Majesty's fleet on which Bill had served had all been lush with color and texture, every inch carpeted; but Jack Sparrow worshipped the bones of things, and could not rest without the creaking, singing planks of the Pearl herself beneath his boots.
The memory of the first person to run screaming from the sight of a rove beetle crawling out of his ear would be forever burned into Bill's memory, an uncompromising reminder of his cursed life.
Bill never learned half as much about life as it ought to be lived from seven years in the royal navy as he did from three months' service under Cap'n Sparrow.
One thing you learned on the Dutchman quick as a damp-eared cabin boy was that there was no such thing as a soulless man; the very breath of a thing gave it spirit, gave it beauty, and the most beautiful monster of them all was the Sea herself.
Anna flinched but held her tongue as Bill gently picked the drip of melted wax from her fast-blistering hand, while little Will looked on with the unfathomable wonder of a toddler, maybe taking in his mother's silent strength.
There never was a single moment as could define his decline into piracy, but it was some time after he had gotten used to being called trash that Bill realized what a wreck he'd become.
Bill thought sometimes he must have been born not of woman, but of sea, from the womb of a ship maybe; he loved every vessel he served on, no matter the circumstance (though he wouldn't ever admit as much to Captain Jones).
Bill held his scaly hand over a candle flame and laughed until he wept, until his hand was marred with Davy's own Black Spot -- just to feel it burn.
The first time Bill helped man a cannon, the discharge flash-blinded him for three days.
The first beat of his newly-reawakened heart sent him reeling and gasping into Maccus' razor-scaled side, a taut rope slipping dangerously through his suddenly lax fingers.
Regret was a luxury Bill didn't often afford himself, but if anything he could not stop himself regretting the quiet family life heíd gambled away in this risky Caribbean venture.
His days of saluting the British flag or statues of the king before duty seemed like a distant dream... now he owed allegiance to nothing and no one, yet felt less free than he ever had at home.
The cloying stench of perfume-masked decay was overwhelming after the briny deck of the Dutchman; it didn't take long for Bill to fall into the same aversion of shore leave shared by the rest of the crew.
Bill never could develop a real taste for rum, but it wasn't until he'd served three miserable years on the Flying Dutchman that he learned its captain shared his secret affinity for a good red wine.
His hatred of mirrors started after Anna died -- long before he was touched by any curse.
"Go on, mate, take it," hissed Ragetti, as Bill's shaking hands hovered indecisively over the dead man's purse; "take it, he don't need it no more."
If there were a curse Bill feared, it weren't the Aztecs' -- it were Capín Sparrow's, cast in full by his silent stare from the end of the plank.
Bill's fist tightened around the scrap of Anna's wedding veil as he steeled himself to walk out of their old home... to go down to the docks and never look back.
The rain poured buckets, so thick you couldn't barely see your hand what was in front of your face, but Bill -- even all the way back on the deck of the Dutchman as he was -- couldn't mistake Jack Sparrow's gait through the gloom, nor the painfully familiar young face next to him.
Only once, and only during the darkest pitch hours of a moonless night, did Bill ever glimpse Cap'n Jones walking the deck alone, stroking the rail like a lover's arm and recalling the saddest of tunes to himself in his soft baritone.
What price Bill wouldn't pay -- his soul, his life, and so much more -- just to keep his own son from flinching at his barnacled touch.
Bill rushed out in the morning on some errand without saying goodbye, and came home to find Anna lying lifeless in the parlour; that was the day William Earl Turner died, though Bootstrap Bill was not quite ready to be born.
Bill waited and watched from inside the creaking hull, marking Jack's every movement; this would be the first time they'd spoken since before the mutiny and though Jack's manner had always been more than a little eccentric, Bill could tell the years had changed him for the worse.
One thing Bill could say for the Flying Dutchman: all its insane disfigurement created various holes and niches not found on normal ships of any build, and she was, if anything, over-manned, so that if one wanted a moment of quiet, it was easy to hide and not be missed.
It was in that ethereal blur of nowhere-light just after sunset that Barbossa tied the last knots and the crew, drunk on riches and rum and mutiny, hoisted the cannon with Bill strapped to it over the rail; the Bo'sun, his face nothing but a deeper shadow in the dusk, cried the final order -- and Bill closed his eyes tight as the cold hit like a sledgehammer...
Captain Jones rarely spoke to his crew after their first fateful bargain had been struck, but after a day of miserable adjustment to the work, Bill heard the deep reverberations of the organ below deck for the first time -- and he realized that Jones was always speaking to them, through every chord and every glance and every strand of seaweed that grew in their hair.
Landlubbers didn't understand how much they took food for granted; Bill associated a decent meal with Anna and home, and hadn't had one since she died.
Wyvern once assured him he'd get used to the cold and the damp and the sudden dives into the deep, and Bill was so grateful for the kindness that he hadn't had the heart to tell Wyvern that he hadn't been able to feel cold for almost a year.
When his Caribbean venture went under, it was all Bill could manage to barter passage back to Europe on a Spanish trader; when she was raided and sunk by the Black Pearl only a week out to sea, it was all he could manage to barter for his life.
Anna loved the sea in a way Bill could never understand -- not as a thing of cold, infinite majesty and constant danger, but as something calming and serene, something to wade and play with Will in.
Bill held onto fewer and fewer souvenirs of his past as time went on, until with Anna's death he stopped trying to remember at all.
"Most of this crew has experienced true death, lad," Bill explained to a much-sobered Will after his son's first day of servitude on the Dutchman; "Cap'n Jones offers the deal to the dead only -- you and I got in on technicalities."
It was during a routine recruitment on an English merchant's ship off the Jamaican coast that Bill learned the alarming news -- that the ship Jones had chosen to salvage souls from had been sunk by the Black Pearl, and that there had been only one paying passenger aboard: a young boy with a strange gold pendant.
When his shoes stopped squishing at every step, Bill was fairly certain it was because his socks had grown into his feet.
"Oh, give me that," Bill snapped to a fussing Ragetti, before snatching the bloody false eye out of the other pirate's hands and scrubbing the offending sand off it.
Bill ascended the mound to the stone chest last of all of them, affected despite his fear of the curse by the others' whooping delight at counting their new wealth -- but as he looked into that damnable treasure that had cost a good man like Jack Sparrow his ship, his dignity and maybe his life, Bill made up his mind, and picked up only a single coin.
Bill sat curled up in a corner of the Dutchman's hold, seaweed-hair writhing snakelike around his face as the ship dived deeper and deeper, fantasizing about hunting Barbossa down, haunting him like a specter, and when their eyes finally met, simply smiling at the bastard through his new-grown mask of horrors...
Bill woke early -- a sailor's habit -- but never got up before Anna; he loved to watch her sleep, to count her eyelashes, her freckles, her steady breaths.
He'd never hated Davy Jones -- not like he hated Barbossa; not like he hated himself -- until the moment Jones gave the fateful order to destroy the Pearl and the bone-shaking echo of the summons drove the icy blade of fear into Billís heart.
Bill's foot once snagged in a net just as it was being deployed; if not for Captain Sparrow's lightning reflexes he most likely would have died, and ever after that he felt the loyalty to Sparrow that would eventually become another of his many curses.
There had been a time when William Turner had watched the horizon with the eyes of a navigator and the heart of a young man in love with adventure -- but Bootstrap Bill had eyes only for his work, and thought only for each passing moment.