DISCLAIMER: The same as chapter 1.
- I used to think chapter 5 would be the last one but due to the kindness of my wonderful reviewers, I wrote an epilogue. Enjoy! ;-)
- This chapter is dedicated to Lily-Anne.
(After the game of Liar's Dice and Will stealing the key from Davy Jones)
The men on deck watch were all sleeping soundly, thanks to Davy Jones' carelessness.
For the third time tonight, the captain of the Flying Dutchman has made a mistake: the first one was forgetting to coerce Will Turner to serve onboard; the second was agreeing to play a dangerous game of Liar's Dice with the young man; and, last but not the least, he had let the night watch without supervision, so the crewmen have been drinking rum heartily for hours. Now the main deck was nothing but a dormitory for drunken monsters producing various kinds of snores and grunts. Bootstrap Bill has easily removed Greenbeard from the wheel – using a lame excuse, "Captain's orders", but cuttle-fish-faced Greenbeard wasn't noted to be very smart – while Will sneaked into Jones' cabin to steal his key.
Bill was working quietly and efficiency to ready a longboat for his William's escape. After Greenbeard had left, the elder Turner had spotted a merchant ship, the Edinburgh Trader, innocently sailing a few leagues starboard of the Flying Dutchman. The night's ink-like darkness and the men's drunkenness have prevented the Edinburgh Trader to become one of Jones' victims and Bill had quietly thanked the heavens for this. His son wouldn't have gone very far on a longboat in open waters but he had a chance to catch a ride aboard the merchant ship. And with a bit of luck, Davy Jones wouldn't notice Will's escape before it would be too late.
Quiet footsteps resounded behind him and Bootstrap Bill turned around: it was Will, securing the Dead Man Chest's key around his neck by its leather strap. Despite of the circumstances, Bill couldn't help but feel prideful of his son. He had managed to take the key from Jones. Talent for stealing forbidden goods was definitively running in the family!
Bill handed Will his sword, which has been confiscated during the young man's capture by the Dutchman's sailors, and then he slipped into his son's hand a small leather case.
"Here, take this too…"
Will recognized the object at once: it was the knife his father had used earlier to defend him against Derrick. He got the blade out and the metal shone briefly under the moonlight.
"…now get yourself to land, and stay there," finished Bootstrap Bill.
Will looked at the cursed sailor with mixed emotions clouding his face: hope, relief, disappointment, despair... It was cruel to leave his father after having spent so little time with him! Will knew his father didn't have a chance to free himself from his enslavement but deep in his heart, he had hoped against all odds that they would flee together from Jones' clutches. When would they ever be together again?
"It was always in my blood to die at sea," said Bill Turner, "but it was not a fate I ever wanted for you."
"It's not a fate you had to choose for yourself, either" answered Will bitterly, looking at the devastating effects of the terrible curse on his father's face.
Bootstrap Bill had a sad smile: "Ah. I could say I did what I had to do, when I left you to go pirating. But it would taste a lie to say it wasn't what I wanted."
Oh Will, do not pity me. I have accepted my doom. But it would be unfair that you should bear the consequences of my past actions. Not you, my marvelous darling, my little one. My William.
"You owe me nothing, Will. Now, go."
Will was desperate: there should be a way, anything, to convince his father to go with him! Finally, he blurted out, gesturing at the snoring crew: "They'll know you helped me!"
That actually brought a laugh from Bootstrap Bill: "What more can they do to me?"
Jones has already chained my life and my soul for an eternity on this ship! But he won't have my heart. He won't have you, Will!
The young man sighed in frustration. Time was running out and there was still the matter of Elizabeth held hostage by Lord Beckett in Port Royal. But his chivalrous nature was outraged at the idea of leaving his wretched father behind. Showing the knife he had just been given, he swore an oath aboard the Flying Dutchman. Only his time, it had nothing to do with its Captain's usual blackmail on terrorized sailors.
"I take this with a promise," said Will. "I'll find a way to sever Jones' hold on you. And will not rest until this blade pierces his heart. I will not abandon you!"
Startled, Bootstrap Bill stared at his child who had just sworn to free him. For a second, he thought of refusing but another glance at Will's face killed any kind of protest in his throat. His William was the picture of resolution, enlightened by his dark brown gaze… The windows of his diamond soul, his mother's eyes.
In a flash, a series of images appeared in Bootstrap Bill's mind: him free from Jones… reaching Port Royal… Will and his beautiful wife… William Turner III sleeping in his cradle, watched over by his doting grandfather…
Will looked at his father one last time, and sealed his oath with his word: "I promise."
And, as brusquely as he had appeared in his father's cursed life, Will dashed for the longboat, climbed into it and disappeared on the night.
Bootstrap Bill stood on the deck, long after Will's boat was out of sight. Never, since Barbossa had sentenced him to an eternity of torment, had he ever allowed himself to be hopeful again. Would that ever be possible? Would his son be strong enough to lift the curse, freeing the Dutchman's mariners and sending Davy Jones to Hell where he belonged?
Bill was unsure about clinging to the tiny particle of hope his son has given him as a good-bye present. He knew he should be happy his son had escaped the ghost ship with his soul intact. And yet, Will's promise was now burning in his father's heart, chasing away the despair that had inhabited it for so long.
If someone can do it, it's Will.
And Bootstrap Bill smiled in the darkness.