Time and Tide
Summary: He didn't realize he was getting old – not until she pointed it out. Lots of fluff.
Note: This totally disregards the end of the third movie – I wanted to write a fluffy little fic, and that was hard to do with Will's curse. Just indulge me with this little 'whatif'.
"Papa, what are these?"
"What are what?"
The little girl propped forward on her elbows, her sleeping gown tangled about her as she shifted her weight to lean in closer to her father. A moment latter a small finger was tracing a stray lock of hair, and he frowned, confused.
"This." She clarifies.
He turns his eyes down, trying to see what the child found so fascinating about his hair. She saw his raised eyebrow and sighed – almost dramatically, like her mother.
"This is not the same color." She says, her tone is curious as she states the obvious. Will finds himself indulging his daughter as he looked down again, trying to see what was so special about the strand.
To his chagrin, and confusion, the lock was gray. He was silent for a moment, his mouth working like he wanted to speak, but not sure how to form words in light of this most . . . shocking development
"This is gray." The child said, seeing that her father looked unlikely to speak in the next few minutes.
Will shook himself, turning back to his youngest. "Yes, it is gray." He said, slowly, still unsure himself.
"Why?" She asked, curious.
"It comes with age." Will explained, fingering the lock that Emma had let go of. Well, it was bound to happen someday, he admitted. Being married for almost twenty tears and raising three children might have done something to speed the process up a bit. His jaw locked as he frowned. Yes. This was all Elizabeth's fault – it had to be.
"Momma's hair isn't gray."
Will frowned some more. If only she knew . . . . "Mamma's lucky, darling." He said, hoping to distract his youngest.
Yet, she was undeterred. "Daddy, what are those?"
"What are what?" He asked again.
"The lines." The little girl whispered, almost conspiratorially.
His frown deepened, almost comically.
A peal of laughter escaped her lips as she reached forward to touch his forehead, causing him to smile as he reached his hand up to trace where her fingers just felt. He understood when he felt the deep folds that adorned his forehead. "My wrinkles?" He asked.
She shrugged. "The lines." She said again.
He smiled affectionately, "Yes, those are wrinkles, Emma."
The little girl nodded, "Wrinkles." She said, trying the word out on her tounge and shrugging, obviously discontent with it.
He nodded, "Yes, wrinkles." He shifted, getting more comfortable on the child's bed as she frowned. He counted down mentally until the next question.
"Where do wrinkles come from?" She asked, all curiosity and innocence.
He grimaced, feeling his forehead again. "Age." He said slowly, not sure how much he wanted to admit in front of her.
"Age?" She asked, her dark eyes dubious.
"Yes," He repeated. "Age."
"Momma doesn't have any wrinkles."
Will forced a smile, again. Yes, the years had been very kind to Elizabeth. "Once again, sweetie, Momma is very lucky."
She nodded before frowning again. "So wrinkles and gray hair come with age?"
The little girl had a most displeased look on her face. "I don't want to ever get old, then." She declared, a stubborn set to her mouth.
He thinks to tell her that is impossible to stay forever young, but then he thinks of cursed gold and fountains of youth. He alters his words a little bit. "There's nothing wrong with age."
She gives him a dubious look – another one taken straight from her mother's arsenal.
"Let me explain." Will said, drawing the little girl to him to sit on his lap. "My age means that I've seen a lot of things. I've been through a lot of things, so I have a lot of things to remember."
"You need wrinkles and gray hair to remember?"
He laughed at the look in her cinnamon eyes. "No," he says. "They're just part of the package. And, for your information, I only have a few gray hairs and only my forehead is wrinkled - and that you can thank your mother for."
She tilted her head curiously. "Then why don't you just give her wrinkles?"
Will sighed, cursing Jack again for putting nonsense like that in the child's mind. "It doesn't work like that, sweetie."
She looked up at him with wide eyes. "Why not?"
"Wrinkles are earned, not given."
"You just said that momma gave you wrinkles."
"It was a figure of speech, darling."
"For instance," he said, pointing to one wrinkle, "I got this one when we met your Uncle Jack."
He pointed to a gray hair, "I got this one when your mother agreed to marry me, and this one when your sister was born. I got all of these the first time Kitty brought a boy home."
Emma nodded solemnly. "Yes. You and Uncle Jack were very mean to him."
Will smiled fondly at the memories. "You see, these are a good things."
"Ah," the little girl said, understanding. She climbed off of her father's lap to climb underneath her covers, she reached her hands up for her customary goodnight hug, and Will obliged her. "So, that's why Uncle Jack has so many wrinkles? Is that a good thing?"
Will just laughed. "No. Jack's just old."
She nodded, making a face which Will mirrored. "Goodnight, dear." He said as he turned to leave the room, dousing the softly glowing candles on his way out.
She was asleep a few moments latter.
Will lingered for a little bit, watching her sleep, before closing the door slowly behind him. Yet, he was drawn up short in the hall by his wife. He smiled, assuming that she hadn't heard his conversation between him and Emma, before turning to walk around her. Elizabeth merely smiled before blocking his path.
He sighed, knowing that she was never going to let him hear the end of this.
Sure enough she sauntered forward, a still smooth hand tracing the wrinkles burrowing through his forehead. "So, these are a good thing, are they?"
He smiled, before taking her wrist in his hand. "A very good thing, love. They speak of how long I have put up with you."
She raises an eyebrow. "You've put up with me?"
He raises an eyebrow to match hers before extending a hand to touch a gray hair loitering in her mass of golden locks. She scowled fiercely as his keen eyes picked up on what Emma missed. "What of you, Mrs. Turner? Are you afraid of losing youth?"
"Just as long as you loose it faster than me."
He laughed before pulling her close, breathing in the scent of sea water and storms – the scent of home. "Don't worry dear, you're just as beautiful now as you were twenty years ago."
He could feel her smile from where her head was burrowed underneath his chin. "Really?" She asked, her voice was younger there than he remembered it being then.
"Really." He assured her, kissing her lightly.
For if life continued going as it had, he would gladly take a whole head of gray hair. Any wrinkle was worth the years he shared with her.
Smiling, he took her hand and walked with her into the shadows. Yes, he planned on many more wrinkles in the future.