AN: Wow...I'm actually stepping away from the Star Wars section to write a POTC fic, weird. Anyway, I'm sure this idea has been done several times before, but it's been in my head ever since I saw AWE in theaters. I didn't write it then due to circulating rumors that Will could live on land again after ten years because Elizabeth stayed faithful to him, but the booklet in the AWE DVD confirms that this rumor is untrue - Will has to captain the Flying Dutchman forever. So when I heard that I decided to write this fic after all. Oh yeah, I don't own the ride or the movies - they're kept in Disney's vault.
PS: This fic is dedicated to my POTC loving friends Jen, Toni, and Pearl.
"Trapped Between Worlds"
The years have turned into decades, the decades to centuries, and yet here I remain, captain of the Flying Dutchman, escort of souls who die at sea. And here I will remain. Even now, I still put my hand over my left chest, feeling the complete stillness, the lack of anything beating in there, reminding myself of the price I had to pay for this eternity.
Eternity. Did I have any concept of what that meant when I was a blacksmith, thinking that eternity meant a large amount of tools to be made in front of that hot fire? I can't feel fire anymore, only the coldness of the sea, the coldness of the wind, the coldness of death.
I know all too well what eternity means now. Eternity means nothing in front of you. Eternity means accepting the concept of never. Not just never in ths lifetime, but complete, unchangeable never. I can never go home. I can never return to my old life. Not even to my Elizabeth.
She lived for more than a hundred years, always pushing herself to life long enough to see me again, but in the end even she couldn't escape death. She spent her final years at sea, deciding that I would be the one to take her to the afterworld.
The afterworld I can never enter.
When I sailed her there, we both knew it was a complete, final goodbye, yet the dead can't shed tears, but the captain of the Flying Dutchman can. Even with no heart, whatever was left of my soul could cry for her. When she saw my tears, she begged me to let her stay with the Dutchman crew, but I wouldn't allow it.
I could never sentence her to this. Even if it means never seeing her again.
I've seen my son die too, and my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren. With each generation, the chest containing my ever-beating heart is passed on. Now it's in the hands of my great-great-great granddaughter Emma, who captains a cruise ship. A ship meant for nothing but pleasure - even now I find it a difficult concept to understand. My ship has never been a place for pleasure - only for death.
When I saw her during my last day on shore, she wanted stories of the old days. The days of pirates and cursed treasures and sea monsters...she listened like a child. In her society, very few people believe in those things anymore. She reminds me of Elizabeth, always eager for adventure, always taking charge of things, intrigued with pirates.
Yet I can't get attached to her, because one day she'll pass the heart on to her children and I will have to sail her to the afterworld, losing her forever.
But my father is still with me; though I've told him often that he can leave whenever he wishes, he insists that he stay on the Dutchman crew so long as the burden is mine. Though I never tell him, my mind thanks him every time he says that. He should move on, I know, but I can't help wanting him with me. He is all I have, the only one who won't inevitably disappear. The only one who will share my life forever.
But can this even be called life? No...it's not life. Life is something that changes. It's not death either. Death is moving on, not staying between the two worlds.
Sometimes I wish that Emma would just open that chest and stab that heart, setting me free, but in those little weak moments there's always another voice that comes in, telling me no, she can't do that. I can't wish this on her or anyone else. And if she were to take my place, would she do her duty? Would she take care of those souls who die at sea? I can't trust anyone else to do this, not truly. It is my burden, and only mine.
Only mine...yet it wasn't my choice.
Yes, I wanted to free my father...but did I ever really consider the consequences? Did I ever completely accept that I would be sailing the Flying Dutchman for eternity? When I told Elizabeth that I'd chosen her over my father, did I really mean that, or was I only thinking about that moment?
I wasn't given the chance to find out.
Of course Jack's long dead by now. For all his pursuing immortality, he never achieved it. Perhaps it really should be him here instead of me. Perhaps he would enjoy it more. After all, he had no attachments.
But if that's true, why did he give up his own immortality to save me?
I don't remember that moment, only waking up to my father telling me what happened, and of that time I only clearly remember three words: "Sparrow saved you." That bloody pirate is the reason I'm here, the reason all these souls can make it safely to the afterworld. Elizabeth told me she saw fear in Jack's eyes then - not just cowardice but fear. Fear that I was dying? Fear for me instead of just himself?
I had so many questions when I took him to the afterworld, yet none of them were asked. Even dead, I wasn't sure if he'd give me an honest answer anyway. Had he ever given anyone an honest answer to anything?
That day he asked me if I was enjoying myself. How could I ever answer that? I told him it was interesting, which was true at the time, when I could still count the days until I could come ashore and see Elizabeth. He also told me that my "bonnie lass" was still keeping my heart well out of reach so he couldn't stab it. I wasn't sure if he had seriously tried to stab it or if it was just his way of assuring me that my heart was safe.
I can't see Jack ever again either, which seems to have left a further emptiness in me. We were never friends, yet there was something between us, something that kept crossing our paths. Perhaps it was my destiny to be here, and Jack was merely the tool that helped me get here.
Or maybe I just think that in an attempt to eliminate the nothingness, to stop the questions from rising, to prevent the regret for asking that one question, that one question that will never be answered, that one question that screams at me whenever I think of Elizabeth, or my son, or anything from my old life.
Jack, why couldn't you let me die?