Elizabeth tucked William into his bed and sat on the edge of the bed. "Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you," she said as she kissed him on the forehead.
" G'night, mother," he mumbled sleepily as he rolled over on his side and buried his head in a pillow.
"Didn't you forget something?"
"I love you too."
"I think you're still forgetting something."
William peered at his mother through half closed eyes. "Good night," he said in Will's general direction.
Elizabeth leaned over her son and whispered in his ear. "I think you can do better than that."
"Thank you for the story, Captain Turner."
"William!" Elizabeth hissed in surprise, but the boy was already fast asleep. She turned to Will with an apology on the tip of her tongue, but he cut her off before she could make a sound.
"It's fine, don't worry about it. He doesn't know me. I knew it would take some time," he said, trying to sound optimistic, but knowing all the while that Elizabeth could both hear and see his disappointment. Just remember you were once in his place too - only with not nearly as long a separation to overcome. He'll come around. It will just take patience.
Elizabeth stood up, retrieved the lamp and brushed past Will into the hallway. Will turned to face her, stepped out of the room and quietly closed the door behind him. They looked at each other nervously. They both knew what they wanted, but it had been so long that some of their initial shyness with each other had inexplicably and unexpectedly returned. It wasn't as if where things were inevitably leading was a new experience for them – proof of that was now sound asleep in his own bed, but it had been such a very long time since they had more than a scant few minutes alone.
"I would carry you this time too, but I have no idea where I'm going," Will offered with a shy smile, breaking the awkward silence.
Elizabeth giggled softly as she gestured for him to follow her. Will did not hesitate, but followed her back down the hall and through the door he had observed earlier. He could tell by the moonlight coming in though the open draperies that the room was large, but beyond that he only had eyes for Elizabeth. He followed her to what appeared to be a small sitting area in the room. He was vaguely aware of another fireplace and a pair of chairs. There was a small table too, but that he only noticed because Elizabeth carefully set lamp down on it.
Will barely gave her a chance to stand up straight before he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. Elizabeth instinctively leaned back into him and sighed contentedly. Her entire focus devoted to nothing but the feel of Will's warm breath as he alternately kissed and nuzzled her neck.
"I almost forgot how much I like the way your hair smells – like lavender….and lemons," he murmured as he deftly began to unbutton the weskit she wore over her blouse. He moved slowly and carefully for no other reason than this would be the first time, but not the last, since their marriage that they weren't under some otherworldly time constraints. He intended to savor every single second and instinctively knew that Elizabeth felt the same.
Elizabeth responded to his ministrations by tilting her head back further until she was practically resting it on Will's left shoulder. She stayed that way, eyes closed, breathing as calmly as possible until Will started to ease her weskit from her shoulders. She lifted her head and took one small step forward – just far enough to shrug it the rest of the way off and toss it aside – with no care for where it landed.
Will's hands returned to her waist, but he did not hold her so tightly that she could not turn to face him. He noticed her timorously licking her lips as she faced him. Will reached up to put his right hand on her neck while leaving his left at her waist as he pulled her close and kissed her gently- and slowly. Elizabeth responded by putting her left hand on Will's chest and trying to twine her fingers in his hair with the right, but the ever present green bandana got in her way. Pushing herself closer to him, she tugged the offending scrap of fabric from his head and tossed it aside. His hair was longer than she remembered, but the long dark curls were as silky as she remembered. Elizabeth could feel Will smiling against her lips as their kiss intensified. He took the opportunity to pull the ribbon from her hair letting it all hang freely down her back.
She temporarily broke off the kiss, leaned forward and rested her forehead on Will's chest as she pushed the lapels of his coat back. Will allowed it to slide nearly completely off before catching it and carelessly draping it over one of the chairs. What happened to the coat was of no concern to him. However, the contents of the pockets were far too valuable to chance damage – no matter how impatient he and Elizabeth were.
Elizabeth lifted her head slightly and kissed the hollow at the base of Will's neck. His sharp intake of breath encouraged her to continue with her endeavors. Will delicately caressed her back and hips as she continued to plant soft kisses on his neck. Elizabeth raised one foot and expertly kicked off one shoe. The second one proved to not be quite so cooperative. She remained intently focused on Will, all while gently shaking her foot to remove the remaining, and thus far, stubborn piece of footwear.
"OW!" Will exclaimed as he jumped back from Elizabeth. "What did you do that for?" The shoe was off, but at the expense of Will earning a bruise on his shin.
Elizabeth blushed and giggled nervously like a new bride. "It was an accident. I couldn't get my shoe off. I didn't mean it."
Will smiled at her seductively while twirling a bit of her hair with his fingers. "I guess we are a bit out of practice, aren't we?"
Elizabeth giggled again by way of response. She stood on her toes and kissed him on the mouth. Will slid his arms around her waist and pulled her as close as possible. His hands moved to the fastenings at the back of her skirt and inexpertly undid them. As the skirt puddled at Elizabeth's feet, she stepped out of the circle of material and kicked it aside with her foot with no care given to the fact that it was her best one.
"You are out of practice," she teased between kisses.
"And you're not?"
"You saw what I had to go through to get our son ready for bed. I've had way too much practice with buttons and such that aren't my own."
"Mmmm, Then I should thank you for not kicking me again," Will retorted as he pulled back, lowered his head and began kissing her neck. He slid his hands to the front of her blouse and began fumbling with the buttons.
"Here, let me," Elizabeth offered as she pushed him into one of the chairs.
"No," he answered in such a way that Elizabeth was not inclined to argue. His voice was raspier than usual.
As he undid each successive button, Will tantalizingly kissed the exposed area beneath. By the time he reached the bottom button Elizabeth was teetering on the edge between intelligible speech and incomprehensible babble all while trying to wish away the shift she wore underneath. Will stood back up and removed the blouse – with no help from its occupant.
"Isn't there,….. I mean,….. don't you normally wear something else over your shift?" Will asked both confused and embarrassed about his relative ignorance about women's undergarments.
"Stays. I'm not wearing them today."
"I noticed. Why not?"
Elizabeth had almost fully regained her senses now and looked at Will with annoyance. "Do you really have to ask that – now?"
Will understood as soon as the words came out of her mouth and at least had the good sense to color slightly himself. Had she not repeatedly, albeit wordlessly, let him this evening how impatient she was for this moment?
"Sit back down," she said again pushing him towards one of the chairs while making sure he didn't trip over any of the already scattered articles of clothing. "Take off your boots."
"Why? Do you want to wear them?" he asked for the second time that evening, but this time the invitation was serious.
"Maybe later," Elizabeth answered saucily before giving him a quick kiss and turning away. She picked up a splinter from the table, lit it from the flame of the lamp and started across the room.
Will pulled off his boots and tossed them aside carelessly as he curiously watched her as she did a full circuit of the bedroom lighting candles. He chewed his lower lip as he realized she was doing her best to replicate the way he had described to her what he had wanted their wedding night to be. As she lit the last of them, she blew out the splinter, and began to walk slowly towards him. The pale yellow glow cast from by candles made her shift all but transparent. She's just as beautiful as I remember – maybe more so.
He sat up straight in the chair as she approached, put his arms around her waist and then slid them over her backside. "You look different."
"Different? How so?" she asked as she played with his hair.
"I don't know – rounder?"
Elizabeth stepped back quickly, her hands on her hips, a barely discernable stern look on her face. "And exactly what are you implying?"
Will grinned at her sheepishly as he realized how unfortunate his choice of words had been. "I meant that you don't look like the young girl I married, you look more like a woman now. I like it," he said apologetically as he reached for her, pulled her back in, and lightly kissed her stomach and traced the outline of her hips with his hands.
"I think I may have to blame you for that – or thank you, it all depends on your point of view I suppose," She observed, giving him a teasing half smile as she kneeled down in front of him. "I meant take off the socks too," she said as she started peeling them off of his feet. "You would think I would be used to Turner men only doing half of what they're supposed to by now," she laughed.
"I was distracted by the view."
Elizabeth gave another half laugh as she dangled one of the socks from a finger – one that was stuck through a rather large hole where a big toe should go. "William Turner! What am I going to do with you? If I had any doubts that your son is just like you I can put them to rest now," she mock scolded him while rolling her eyes.
"I have an idea what you can do with me," he suggested as he got back to his feet, pulling her up with him.
"It doesn't involve socks with holes in them, does it?" Elizabeth asked innocently.
"Absolutely not," he said as he picked her up and carried her towards the bed.
Elizabeth closed her eyes contentedly and snuggled in to Will's chest. She kept her eyes closed as he gently laid her on the soft mattress with its freshly laundered sheets and coverlet. She lay there waiting to feel his familiar and comforting weight settle into the space beside her, but nothing happened. Surely this isn't happening again? What is he up to now? She thought to herself. She turned her head slightly towards where Will should be standing and peered through one half opened eye lid. What she saw both caught her off guard and disturbed her.
Will stood facing the table next to the bed with his hand on the lid of the chest. Elizabeth watched him reverently trace over the carvings and the lock exactly as their son had earlier that same afternoon. The look of profound sadness on his face was enough to break her heart. It certainly had spoiled the playful mood they had been enjoying.
"Will? I told you I would keep it safe." It was the only thing she could think of to say at the moment. She pushed herself up on her elbows as she spoke.
"You did," he said as he turned to look in her direction. His hand remained on the chest -the effervescent twinkle in his eyes now replaced by a cold, dead stare. Elizabeth would have sworn that what he saw at that moment was not something in their room. It was quite probably not even something from the present.
"Is there something else wrong?" Elizabeth probed further as she sat up completely, pulling her knees into her chest and wrapping her arms around them. She shivered with an unexpected chill – one most assuredly not caused by the temperature of the room.
"I don't want to see it – not tonight." Will turned a circle in a suddenly frantic search to remove the offending container from his sight. "I just want to see you."
Elizabeth scanned the room in the low light. She changed positions again, this time kneeling on the bed.
"The foot of the bed," she said. "There's a blanket chest there. It's low enough you shouldn't see it," she hesitated for a second. "And I can still hear it. I'm sorry, I can't help it – it's a habit," she apologized shrugging her shoulders.
Will's eyes refocused on Elizabeth. He gently picked up the chest, carried it to the foot of the bed and set it down. Elizabeth inched her way across the bed on her knees to meet him on the far side. Will gave her a weak smile. Elizabeth put her arms around his neck and kissed him softly. It was all she could think of to do at the moment. What was there that could be said? It wasn't as if they had any choice about the chest and what it contained.
Will put his arms on his wife's waist and slid his hands to her hips. Elizabeth gently eased her hands from Will's neck to waist and untied the sash he wore. She then began unwrapping it and unbuckling the wide leather belt. Both of these were tossed away as everything else had been. She then moved her hands his sides and tugged at the hem of his shirt. Will released Elizabeth and put his hands over his head as she pulled it over his head.
Elizabeth inhaled sharply as she saw the scar on his chest for the first time in years. It wasn't as if it hadn't been there, she just had chosen to ignore it. At least it didn't look anywhere near as bad as it had when she had first laid eyes it, but it was still horrifying. She reached one hand up and began to trace it gently with her fingers.
"Don't," Will blurted out as he covered her hand with his. Realizing how abrupt he sounded he closed his large hand over her much smaller one and raised them to his lips. He kissed her palm tenderly before touching his forehead to hers.
Elizabeth trembled and closed her eyes as he carefully removed her shift and allowed his fingers to dance over her bare skin. His hands were still rough as could be expected after ten years at sea, but she didn't mind – she had never minded, even when the roughness had just been from his work at the forge. There was something oddly satisfying about knowing he had earned those calluses from doing a hard day's work.
A gasp escaped Elizabeth's throat as Will gently kissed her forehead, then each eyelid, followed by the tip of her nose, before returning his attention to her mouth.
Elizabeth released a sigh of contentment as she leaned backwards towards the bed, pulling Will down on top of her. Will put out one arm to keep his full weight from crushing her, but never once broke off the increasingly passionate kiss they shared. Elizabeth used her heels to push herself towards the head of the bed while putting her hands to use divesting Will of his last remaining article of clothing. Will pulled back from his wife for a moment.
"What now?" Elizabeth asked breathlessly. She noticed with relief that the glint of happiness in his eyes had returned.
"I want to look at you."
"Whatever for? You know what I look like – except rounder, remember?" She said as she reached up to run her fingers through his hair.
"It's been a while," he laughed. "You're beautiful. You'll always be beautiful to me."
Elizabeth smiled happily up at him and gently stroked his face.
"I want to thank you too," Will said seriously.
"For what?" Elizabeth's was getting more impatient by the second. She had waited forever to have this man back in her bed and she was getting tired of the delays.
"For being there, for William, for loving me, for waiting for me, for saving my life."
Elizabeth looked at her husband for a moment before pulling him down to her.
"Will Turner," she said, as she kissed him "Can you please stop talking now?"
"I love you, Elizabeth."
"I know, if I didn't you wouldn't be here now," she echoed his earlier words back to him.
"That's not the answer I was expecting either."
"Welcome home, Will," she said grinning. "Now hush."
It doesn't end here! What Next? picks up where Waiting leaves off.