Against the Current
Summary: There's more than one way to achieve immortality. Will X Elizabeth
Disclaimer: Pirates does not belong to me. This story is really odd – it deals with some uncomfortable themes like suicide and the immorality of the soul. That's why this is rated T. If these things bother you, then please move on.
Notes: I ignored the curse being lifted on Will, and their child. :)
"I never would have seen it ending this way, luv." A warm voice worn by the years and weathered by rum speaks into the darkness, causing his partner to flinch.
She blinked, trying to make her groggy mind focus on the present, dredging it up from where it had been lost – somewhere in the ocean that was her past.
A sigh escaped, she shifted to lean her head back against the wall, all the while breathing in the scent of salt water and liquor. It soothed her, to an extent. "How did you imagine it ending, Jack?" She asked, slightly curious.
There was that smile again, he shrugged, "I dunno. Perhaps on an island somewhere - when I'm old." He looked down at his aging hands, and his gray streaked dread locks. "Older, anyway." He admonished, "That and there would be rum. No death for Captain Jack Sparrow is fitting without rum."
Elizabeth looked over at him, watched as he smiled bitterly - the same smile that had come to warm her over the last few decades, it spoke of comradeliness, and not any small bit of mischief. Her smile mirrors his, yet there is a sadness that turns at the corners of her mouth, a depression that he has never been able to completely rid her of.
She sighed then, feeling the unfamiliar prick of tears.
It wasn't fair! She thought desperately. She only had two more months left, two more! Then she could be with him again. Her fairy tale would pick up, and for one day she could hope for a happy ending. Yet, her end would be written long before that.
In a few hours actually.
She looked up then, through the rusted cage of the English ship's brig, and tried to see the ocean beyond. Was Will out there, somewhere? Was he aware of her plight, or was he gone - out on another insidious task for an insatiable goddess?
She felt the real urge to cry then, an urge she hadn't felt in almost a decade. Not since that last time, ironically. Yet, Will had been with her then, it had been only natural to cry when she was tired of being strong.
She had only seen him twice since that god forsaken war, and now she felt every moment of separation acutely.
She would take great joy in taking back every moment in the next life.
Mustering up the energy, she smiled back at him, knowing that he was trying to cheer her up. Her old dear friend, he and she were the very last of the true pirates, and she knew that the extinction - or evolution, of their breed hurt him more than he ever thought it would. Yet, no matter how much pirates changed, the penalties did not. The infamous Sparrow and Swann duo have been wanted for decades, and as soon as the ship made port there would be 'justice.'
There was no miracle to wait on, either.
No goddess to intervene, no heart to stab, no crazy rum influenced plan of escape. There was not even a friend to count on. Their crew had long since moved on. She had heard that Pintell and Ragetti had opened a tavern in Cuba, and after he was too old for sailing Barbossa joined them there - the monkey too.
It was so odd to think of the old pirates behind the bar instead of in front, but that was just the way things had conspired. Gibbs had died a few years back – she could have sworn that even Jack mourned his passing. Yet, the old sailor had died happy, surrounded by old friends and his few dozen 'grandchildren' - both his own, and those children in the small port town that had grown up on his limitless tales of the sea. Others that had once had the pleasure of crewing the Pearl had met similar fates, and on over a dozen shores she knew that the loss to the pirate world would be mourned.
She could take some comfort in that.
Then Jack asked, "Are you ready to see him again?"
She looked up at him, confused, "Who?"
"Will. Who else would I bloody speak of?"
She shook her head bitterly, "The Flying Dutchman only takes to souls who die at sea. I'm not familiar with whomever takes them from land."
Jack nodded, "as I said, are you ready to see him again?"
Truly not understanding, she looked over at her old friend, trying to read another meaning or scheme in his kohl rimmed eyes. Yet, the mischievous spark she is used to seeing before a crazy plan is gone. There's only a quiet seriousness. Something she is not used to seeing at all.
She would love to see Will again. Just one more time before she died. Just once more. She sighed then, and buried her head into her folded arms. The coarseness of her salt weathered clothes mars against her dirty skin, and she doesn't notice anymore.
She has finally given up.
Would Will hate her for that?
Would he understand?
Would he miss her in two months? Waiting alone in the sand?
Would he blame her?
Would he hate her?
She remembers a monster from years ago. She remembers the pain in his eyes that just wouldn't die. That pain was enough to cause him to tear his own heart out. Would that same plague haunt Will? She could imagine him broken like that. The mental picture she developed in her minds eye clashed with how Will must surely look now.
She felt like a murderer all over again.
She looked up at him with tired eyes. He was serious when he used her name like that. With a sigh she buried her head again, she didn't want to feel serious right now, she just wanted to wait out the end in peace.
"You could be with him again."
She scoffs, not even bothering to look up. "And here I thought they took your rum, Jack. Have you been holding out on me?"
She can hear a smile in his voice, "Never, luv."
Silence stretched on for a few more moments.
"Will will gather the souls lost at sea, and he will return them home."
Elizabeth nodded, with a roll of her eyes. She has heard the story before. So many times . . .
"He will return them home. Where would home be for you?"
"With Will." She replies without thinking, and even as she wallows in her depression some part of her mind is whirling, scheming, putting two and two together. Then she understands.
She looks up, and Jack must have read the horror in her eyes. "You're mad."
He shrugged, "Have been for a long time."
She stared at him, mouth agape and eyes wide. Her hands clenched and unclenched at her side, suddenly searching for something – anything to hold on to. Yet, they are empty, lost without his to hold.
Could she really . . . .
She could . . . .
It went beyond every human inclination - her heart yearned for freedom, for life, for breath. Even now, a small part of her insisted that there was still some chance left for them. They wouldn't die here. They still had so many adventures, there were still so many unexplored ports and virgin seas.
There was still so much left . . .
Then she looks over at him. Jack's eyes are tired and weary – with horror she realizes just how content he is, lounging on the floor of the brig like it was a hammock on a tropical shore. He was ready, she realized with a start, he was ready to move on, to explore the last uncharted shore.
Only, death was not uncharted for him. It was merely an old friend, one whom he had abandoned for such a long time.
An odd sort of peace settled over her then. What was left for her? Broken hearts, and drifting memories? What was living without her love? What was the wonder of the seas without him by her side?
The mortal pain of the tang of the knife, compared with the prospect of forever.
She took a deep breath, it shakes in her suddenly quivering lungs.
She could . . . .
Her eyes lock with his, he stares right back. "You're serious?" She whispers. Not as horrified as before.
That was it – no twisted words, no fine speeches or wit at the wrong time. There was just the truth. Plain and harsh, unyielding . . . beautiful.
"You're not scared?' She asks, her voice is resigned.
He shrugs, laughs bitterly. "I've been dead once before." His voice is quiet, the lilting drawl is soothing to her, draws on her soul.
He gets up then, takes a small blade from his belt – one the guards hadn't confiscated, and holds it before her eyes. She watches it like a serpent, strangely fascinated as she notices the coral corroding it's hilt. It was the same knife that was used to cut Will's heart.
It will be the same blade to cut her heart . . .
It's oddly fitting.
She takes a deep breath, calming herself. Her eyes misted, then rise, branding to his. "I shall miss you."
Jack shrugged, "time and tide."
"We've had a good run."
The knife draws closer to her.
"Aye, that we have."
She can feel it against her throat. His callused hands are soft against her skin. She trembles, despite the heat of the brig.
He hesitates, his hand shakes against her skin. So she smiles, her hand comes up against his face, cradling it.
"Please." It is the only thing she says.
He reads something in her eyes . . .
Then all thought evaporates underneath the pain. There is searing heat, the crimson flow of blood. She can dimly feel him catch her as she slumps to the ground, he cradles her against his, whispering soothing words. Yet, she needs no comfort, for death is oddly painless, instead it is light and lilting – it is just there.
She hears him whisper. "Be sure to tell Captain Turner hello for me."
She smiles, her hand falls from his face. "I will." She tries to say, but her words come out as a gurgling cough against his cheek.
Her breathe goes in and out, soft against him.
Then it does not resume.
He feels her go, and yet, can not bring himself to grieve, she is finally home. Achieving that happiness he never could give her. He reaches out, his callused fingertips gently close her eyes. "I'll meet you there, Lizzie." He whispers. A tear flickers in his eye. "Just one last horizon."
Oddly enough, her face is fixed in a smile.
Will Turner has never minded herding the souls. There was a strange peacefulness to it – there was a sense of completion that marked the long, dreary hours.
Still there was that one last regret.
Two months, he thinks, his empty heart sings at the thought.
Just two more . . .
Then he hears a siren call, a warning, a requiem. He crouches over as he feel something important leave him – the force that sustained him in place of his heart flickered, and for an infinite moment he felt fear.
"Elizabeth?" He whispered. He was suddenly incapable of anything more than that.
The soul approaches him – it fairly sings. It radiates, where as all of the others held contentment and silence.
This soul is familiar. The one he has both longed and dreaded seeing over the long, long years . . .
There is no escaping it though, and in that moment he understands before reaching out to take the spirit's hand. The longer he held it the clearer her features became – unnaturally bright light dimming to deeply tanned skin and golden hair. The eyes that harbor storms and the mouth that promised both heaven and hell . . .
Her hands tightened around his. Something clicked into place. A wrong was made right in that moment.
He clutched her to him, feeling her silent tears soak his shirt as she melted against him – securing him as if he were a lifeline.
A forgotten heart beat again . . .
He looked down, locked eyes with his temptress even as she smiled. Unspoken words are said and tears are dried.
Against the current, a mortal and an immortal.
Yet, never was there a wrong that was more right.