Disclaimer: POTC belongs to Disney.
Elizabeth could not believe what was happening. She clutched her small son close to her as the ship pitched violently in the crashing waves. The water was lifting them ten meters into the air and dropping them just as far. Several men had already fallen overboard from the slippery decks that were drenched in the tumultuous downpour. Suddenly, the ship lurched, and the two were slammed against the ship's port rail. Before she could gain her footing, an enormous wave washed over them, tossing their bodies off the ship. They landed in the water with a splash that could hardly compare with the chaos surrounding them. Her son's screams compelled Elizabeth to start swimming towards anything that was still floating. She saw a large plank that had just been torn off the boat by an enormous wave. Holding the little boy out of the water as much as she could, Elizabeth paddled frantically towards the section of wood bobbing in the churning water. After what seemed like an eternity, they reached it. She lifted her son onto the plank and heaved her body onto the wooden fragment next to him. She held him tightly against her while he sobbed and cried out. Her comforting words were lost in the roar of the storm that threatened to swallow them at any moment.
Elizabeth was completely helpless, and she began to cry with her son, not knowing how long they would be able to stay alive. After what felt like ages, her muscles began to tighten from her efforts to keep them afloat. The hand that was not holding her son began to slip from the plank's edge. Her body was getting weak, and the last of her resolve seemed to disappear as she saw the merchant ship succumb to the overpowering waves and wind. The nausea caused by the seawater she had swallowed intensified, and she closed her eyes to wish away the terrible situation they were experiencing. Her strength began wane, but the waves continued to roll. She felt her body slide off the only thing keeping her and her son above the water's surface. Elizabeth tried to hoist herself back up, but all of her energy had left her. She knew it was only a matter of minutes before she would become completely submerged. Fear gripped her entire being, but it wasn't the fear of dying that scared her. As she looked to her son, she realized he was silent and still, and the thought that he was dead terrified her. She tried calling his name, but her voice was carried away by the wind. The ocean was threatening to toss her from their small raft with each rise and fall of the massive waves, so she clutched her son and began to shake him, willing him to show signs of life. A surge of adrenaline pumped through her body as she focused all of her attention on her small child. She was completely oblivious to everything around them until she felt something land on her back.
Elizabeth whipped her head around and saw a rope leading to a large ship that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Before it could slip away, she grabbed the slippery line and coiled it around the arm that was not holding her son tightly to her body. Miraculously, she was able wind the rope around them before the men aboard the mystery ship tugged them through the ocean and onto the deck. Once she felt her knees slam against the wet wood, Elizabeth twisted the small boy in her lap, so she could peer into his face. His eyes were closed, and his mouth hung open just slightly. Afraid that there might be water in his lungs, she leaned him to the side and frantically rubbed his back in hopes that doing so would expel anything harmful. She was somewhat surprised when the little boy began to vomit, and she cried out as relief flooded through her.
As she hugged him tightly against her, she looked up for the first time since being pulled from the water. The rain continued to pour, and it was hard for her to see anything due to the drops of water that clung to her lashes. She found it peculiar that this ship did not seem to have as much trouble standing its own against the brutal waves as they continued to pound away at its sides. Although it was strange, she also found it comforting because it felt as if they were sailing through familiar, rough seas rather than through a hurricane. The ship's sailors were scurrying over the deck, and many were bent over crewmen from the sunken merchant vessel, speaking to each one briefly before helping them up and leading them below deck. The young woman decided to wait their turn, figuring that one of the men would approach them soon, but a familiar name being shouted across the ship made her eyes snap up from her son to the man who answered the call.
Elizabeth saw her father-in-law hurry towards the man calling for him, and her heart sank heavily inside her chest. Dread flowed through her entire body as she realized the Flying Dutchman had rescued them. She felt herself begin to panic as she wondered whether she and her son had actually succumbed to the storm and were now dead. She worried whether this would mean Will's curse would stay intact because they had come aboard and whether he was doomed to sail the land of the dead for eternity while she and her son moved on. What caused her the most heartache was the thought that her son would not live to see his fourth birthday.
Feebly, she cried out, "Bill!"
It was lost on the raging wind, so with a little more force she called, "Bill!"
A few of the Dutchman's crew took notice of her for the first time since pulling them on board, but the older man still had not heard her cries. Gathering the last bit of strength, Elizabeth shouted as loud as she could, "Bootstrap!"
She had finally caught his attention, and the old sailor squinted as he studied her face. It took him a few seconds, but recognition quickly spread across his weathered features, and his eyes widened as he ran to her.
"Elizabeth! What–? How did you–? Nevermind, let's get you inside."
Bootstrap helped her to her feet while ordering a nearby crewman to fetch their captain and quickly led her to what she could only assume to be Will's quarters. The room was larger than she had imagined, filled with various seafaring equipment and pieces of furniture. He led her to a small bunk that was built into the cabin wall on the far side of the room, where she sat and cradled her son in her lap. Bootstrap rummaged around looking for something for Elizabeth to use to dry herself, and she gently brushed aside the boy's hair to keep water from running into his face. As Bill searched, she whispered soothing words into the little boy's ear while he watched the sailor poke about the cabin. Everyone remained silent as the wind whipped around the ship and the sailors shouted on deck. The stillness inside was broken when Elizabeth's son said, "Mummy, I'm cold."
The older man stopped his search to stare at the woman and child in disbelief. Elizabeth comforted her son as she looked at her father-in-law out of the corner of her eye and almost smiled as he gaped at them. She could tell his mind was working furiously to piece together this confusing scene and stifled a laugh when he asked, "Mum? Elizabeth is he–?"
She turned the young boy towards the man and said, "Bill, I'd like for you to meet William…your grandson. William, can you say hello to your grandfather?"
Bill looked even more shocked than he had before at the revelation that he was a grandfather, but when his grandson rested his head against his mother's collarbone and smiled shyly at him before burying his face in Elizabeth's shoulder, the man clapped his hands together and laughed. Grabbing a blanket and wrapping it around his new passengers, Bootstrap kneeled before them and said, "Hello, William. It's a pleasure to meet you, sir."
William giggled weakly at being called sir, and Elizabeth asked him, "How are you feeling?"
"My stomach hurts," he whispered, turning to study his grandfather once more.
Bill smiled at William's inability to pronounce the r sound but turned serious a few seconds later. "He's probably swallowed quite a bit of seawater. It'll pass soon." Then he paused before continuing, "You know…when I first realized he was your son, I thought…"
He looked sheepish, and Elizabeth smiled, knowing exactly what he was thinking. "I would never do that to Will. I couldn't."
She hesitated before asking the question that rested heavily on her mind. "Are we…dead?"
He shook his head and smiled warmly at her. "No."
Relief washed over her. "Then why did you pull us from the water? Not to sound ungrateful, but…" she trailed off.
"There were some of your ship's crew who died, but not everyone…including you two. Will can explain better than I ever could."
"Thank you." Elizabeth pulled the blanket tighter around them and tried drying William as best as she could, though the material was not well suited for soaking water. "Bill, do you know if the curse…I mean, if Will sees us–"
"I honestly don't know, Elizabeth. It's my understanding that the captain cannot step on land but once every ten years. As far as seeing you? I suppose it's no different than seeing other people, is it? I'd reckon you being here won't affect the outcome."
His voice was low but comforting, and she felt a little more at ease hearing Bootstrap's opinion. She trusted the sailor's confident knowledge of the Dutchman's curse more than her own. She felt as if a pressure had lifted from her chest, and for the first time since before the storm, Elizabeth allowed herself to relax as she gently rocked her son on her lap. He snuggled into her arms and announced he was feeling better and asked if he could explore the ship. She looked at him skeptically.
"You still look a little pale to me, son. Let's rest a bit longer."
William protested and promptly fell into a coughing fit, which seemed to cement Elizabeth's concerns, and William knew then that his mother had won. Weakly he asked, "Later?"
"You'll have to wait until the rain stops, I'm afraid. We don't want to fall overboard again, do we?"
Bill watched the exchange between mother and child and smiled yet again. "Elizabeth, he's amazing. You've done a fine job rais–"
He was interrupted when the door was thrown open by a man who was completely soaked through from the rain. He turned his back on the three in the room and shook the water from his hair, unaware his father was not the only one occupying his quarters. "I'm sorry. I was helping Matty tie off the cargo or I would have come to see you sooner. What's happening? Did we manage…to…" he trailed off when he turned around and saw Elizabeth sitting on his bed. His jaw dropped at the sight of her, and he looked to his father for an explanation before changing his mind and running to her.
"Elizabeth! You were on the ship? Are you alright?"
Feeling as if she might burst from the joy welling inside, she answered, "Yes. Yes, I'm fine."
"But…where were you headed? What were you doing on that merchant ship out here? In this storm?"
"We were headed to Port Royal."
"Tortuga? What have you been doing in Tortuga?"
"It's a long story."
Will laughed. "Isn't that the perfect description of our lives?"
He leaned down to kiss her but stopped when he realized there was a small child in her lap he had not noticed until then. Feeling that it might be awkward to sandwich the boy in between them, he decided to introduce himself before busying the child with something while he reunited with his wife. A surge of sympathy coursed through Will as he realized the boy's parents must have died if he was being looked after by Elizabeth. He smiled at him while kneeling to look him in the eye and said, "Hello. You were on your way to Port Royal too?"
The little boy nodded with wide eyes.
"My name is Will Turner. What's yours?"
His wide eyes looked to Elizabeth, who smiled, before turning back to the man in front of him. "William."
"It is? What a coincidence! What's your last name William?"
Will laughed lightly. "No, that's my last name, William. What's yours?"
The boy looked confused, and Elizabeth placed a hand on Will's shoulder and said, "That's his name too, Will. William Turner."
Still smiling, he looked to Elizabeth, unsure of what she was trying to say until he looked back at the child sitting on her lap and realized for the first time that he looked vaguely familiar. The boy resembled the woman holding him. Will's eyes snapped back to Elizabeth's as his jaw dropped once again. "Elizabeth, what's–"
"Will, this is your son."
His attention turned back to the boy, who seemed to realize his father was kneeling in front of him at the same time Will was realizing he had fathered a child. "But, Elizabeth…how…I mean…I can't believe it."
"Amazing, isn't it?" Bill asked, reminding everyone of his presence in the room.
"Yes, it is."
After a moment's pause the older man said, "I'm going back on deck to see if everything's still holding together."
Will nodded as he continued to look at his son. William kept his eyes locked on his father's, showing his nervousness for the first time that evening. Elizabeth brushed his hair back as she had earlier, kissing the top of his head as she did so. The captain of the Dutchman broke into a smile when he saw the exchange as the idea of being a father became real to him. His father's smile seemed to chase away the anxiety William felt, and he grinned before hiding his face against Elizabeth's shoulder for the second time that evening, which made both of his parents laugh.
"He's not normally this timid. Usually he's right under everyone's feet."
"He has had quite an adventure tonight. You both have."
The couple smiled at each other, happy just to be in one another's company once again. The lull was disturbed when William declared himself to be "cold and still wet." Will stood and suggested they wear some of his clothing. "Everything will be big, especially for William, but at least it will be dry. We can fix his sleeves."
He walked to a modest wardrobe and pulled out two shirts and a pair of trousers. He handed them to Elizabeth and leaned against his navigation table to watch the interaction between mother and son. He was amazed with his wife's ability to fall into a motherly role so naturally and wondered if he would have been able to do the same had he been put in her situation.
Elizabeth helped William take off his shoes and stockings. She started unbuttoning his little breeches, but the boy stopped her and backed away. She looked at him curiously, and he leaned close to her ear, cupping his hands around his mouth to whisper something to her. Will watched Elizabeth roll her eyes before speaking quietly to their son.
"He's not going to care, William."
"No," he whined, glancing quickly at Will before again whispering something in Elizabeth's ear.
She tsked. "Your father was a little boy once. There's nothing to be embarrassed about."
William whispered again, and his mother answered in a tired voice, "Yes, William. He's got one too."
Will tried not to laugh as his son whispered for a fourth time in Elizabeth's ear. This time she gave an exasperated sigh, turned to Will, and said, "William would like for you to turn around."
He smiled and did as he was told, finding the situation more entertaining than his wife did. After a minute or two of rustling fabric, Elizabeth finally gave him the clearance to turn back around. Will was torn between amusement and adoration at the sight of his son being swallowed by his shirt. Elizabeth was rolling the sleeves up his small arms as the boy grinned at his father, embarrassment long forgotten. Suddenly his face fell, and he turned to his mother declaring loudly, "What about my trousers?"
"William, Daddy doesn't have trousers that will fit you."
"I don't want to wear a dress!"
"It's not a dress. It's a shirt."
The little boy began to get anxious again, and Will tried to step in. "William, what if I gave you one of my belts? Would that be okay?"
William looked at his father through teary eyes and considered the offer for a moment before nodding slowly. Will removed the belt he was wearing and walked over to his family, once again kneeling to his son's level. He wrapped the belt around the boy's waist, taking note of where he needed to make a new hole in the worn leather. As quickly as he could, Will poked a small hole through his belt and fastened it around the boy. It wrapped around him two and a half times, and it took a few seconds for him to secure the end, but William appeared very happy.
"There. And, if you'd like, you can keep the belt. I've got more I can use."
His son's eyes widened, and he looked to his mother for permission to accept Will's gift. When she nodded, he grinned and said, "Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome, William." He loved the way his son still had trouble pronouncing his r's and smiled just as Bill had done earlier. "Is that better?"
"Yes, but now we have to turn around so Mum can dress." The seriousness of his tone made Will laugh.
"Yes," he answered, taking his father's hand and leading him away from Elizabeth.
"And why is that?"
"Because she's a girl, and you can't see."
Will turned his head to look at his wife. He winked at her. "I can't?"
Elizabeth laughed and quickly changed as her husband and son gave her privacy. William continued his random chatter, and she was glad he was beginning to feel more comfortable. She wanted Will to experience their son the way she had for the last few years. When she had finished, William ran to his mother and proceeded to explain that she could not watch his father change either. Mother and son repeated the privacy procedure for Will, and soon all three Turners were much dryer and more comfortable than before. Elizabeth held William in her arms as they sat at Will's navigation table. Will showed them the tools he used to map the ship's course and let his son play with an intricate compass left behind by the last captain. Suddenly he looked at Elizabeth and, not knowing how much she had told their son about his curse, asked, "Where's the chest?"
She looked apologetic. "I'm sorry Will. I should have mentioned that I sent it with Jack. I intended to tell you earlier."
"Yes. He was helping us move. I had him take it so it wouldn't get stolen on the merchant vessel."
Will's confusion hit its peak when Elizabeth spoke of moving. "Moving? Where? Wait – You were living in Tortuga? Why didn't you just sail on the Pearl?"
"Perhaps I should start from the beginning. We had been in Tortuga for a few months, but I decided to move us when Jack told us the king had abandoned Port Royal after E.I.C. crumbled. It's a pirate port now."
"So I've heard."
"He said many of them were waiting for me to return and that William and I could live in the mansion. I didn't want to go back at first, but eventually I decided that it would be a better place than Tortuga. Jack made it seem as if Port Royal was a more civilized pirate port."
"He made it seem more civilized?"
Elizabeth smiled. "He said he had no interest in staying there, so I guess I'm making assumptions. Regardless, his crew helped us gather what little belongings we had. I personally placed the chest in a safe place aboard the Pearl. I still have the key," she said as she tugged the key from under his borrowed shirt to show him. "I keep it around my neck."
"If all of your things were on the Pearl, why didn't you sail with them?"
"William is afraid of Jack."
Will laughed. "What?"
At that moment William piped up. "He yelled at me an' then he scratched me!"
"The monkey," Elizabeth clarified.
Will laughed again.
"It didn't hurt though!" William added. "I didn't cry, did I Mum?"
"No, you didn't."
William beamed at his father, proud to showcase his bravery.
"He's got such an extensive vocabulary for his age. He's almost…" Will began to think and count the months that had passed since he began serving aboard the Dutchman.
"Tell your father how old you are," she whispered in William's ear.
The little boy held up three fingers on his right hand while he kept his thumb and pinky finger held down with his left hand. "I'm three."
"And tell him how old you'll be in March.
William struggled to free his pinky finger. When it joined the others, he yelled, "Four!"
"Four? Amazing!" Will said, delighted by his son's efforts.
Grinning, William leaned towards his mother's ear and cupped his hands to whisper to her once again. Elizabeth's eyebrows lifted, and she looked at Will and smiled. "I don't know, son. Perhaps you should ask him."
William looked at his father with a shy expression. His question was barely a whisper. "Do you want to hear a pirate song?"
Will leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees and resting his chin in his hands and said, "I would love to hear a pirate song."
William started singing slowly, mispronouncing only a few words here and there, but as he went on, his excitement grew, and he began leaving out words as he happily sang:
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a boot.
Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's light for me.
We tort, we pilfer, we fetch and snack.
Drink up me hearties, Yo Ho!
More road, embezzle and Captain Jack.
Drink up…hearties, Yo Ho!Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's light for…
Yo Ho! Pirate's light is ME!
When he finished shouting the last word, William burst into a fit of giggles as Will and Elizabeth clapped for him and marveled over his singing ability. Satisfied that he had impressed Will, the child curled himself between his mother's arms and stared at his father as Will and Elizabeth discussed the past four years they had spent apart. She described William's birth and early years, telling humorous stories and recalling their travels to various places. Will asked many questions and listened intently, loving the descriptions and details of the lives of his family. Eventually they noticed the smallest Turner had fallen asleep, and Elizabeth asked if Will wanted to hold him.
"What if he wakes?"
"When William sleeps, he's oblivious to everything around him. The apocalypse could be happing right outside our door, and I doubt he'd even lift an eyelid. Besides, I'm sure he'd love nothing more than to sit in your lap for a few minutes."
Before he could object, Elizabeth stood and handed the little boy to Will, carefully placing him in the man's lap. His eyes widened, and he felt a surge of anxiety course through his veins. "Wait. Wait, Elizabeth, I – I don't know what I'm – What if – Oh god…oh god…"
Elizabeth smiled at her husband's nervousness, and her heart melted at the scene before her. Even though William was quite sturdy, Will looked as if he was afraid to breathe or hold him tightly for fear of hurting him. His eyes remained wide in complete reverence and awe as he looked at their sleeping son, and she realized that Will was experiencing the same moment that she had experienced the first time she held William after he was born. A lump rose in her throat, and she swallowed hard to force it back down because she didn't want to ruin the moment with her tears. Will's eyes met hers briefly before moving back to his son's face. After a few minutes, he spoke very softly. "He's amazing. You're amazing for all that you've done. It's all so…"
He smiled as he cradled William in his lap, and Elizabeth returned his grin and said, "I know exactly what you mean."
They didn't speak very much over the next few minutes, only interrupting the silence to make small comments about William's small hands or tiny feet. After the initial awe of holding his son began to fade, their conversation turned more serious as Elizabeth told him about asking Bootstrap whether they had died. Will sighed.
"Thankfully, he's right. You're both very much alive. I think someone told me two other crewmen survived, but everyone else has moved on. Well, most of them perished, but a few of them signed on to work aboard the Dutchman. Sometimes when these things happen, we can find men on the verge of drowning and give them the option of service or allow them to die less painfully than drowning by sending them to the other side peacefully. We can't bring them back to life, since they were destined to die."
"Then what about us? Were we not–"
"You weren't on the brink of death. I'm sure it felt like it, but you weren't. We'll be able to take you to shore before…we have to go back. We can take you to Port Royal, if you'd still like to go."
She nodded and asked, "How long do we have until…"
He smiled warmly at her and said, "It should only take us about a day and a half, but I think with this storm, we could probably stretch it to three days, just to be safe, of course."
Elizabeth felt her heart lift at the though of spending at least a couple of days with Will, even though she knew safety precautions weren't necessary for the Dutchman or its passengers. And although she remained excited, she could not help but yawn.
"You should lie down."
"I'm fine, I'm just…" she trailed off as another yawn overcame her. "I'm sorry."
"Here, you and William can sleep in my bunk."
Will stood and carried William across the room and gently placed him under the blanket covering the modest mattress. Elizabeth followed him and placed a kiss on their son's forehead before turning to Will and kissing him deeply for the first time in almost four years. Will wrapped his arms around her and whispered, "I've missed you."
She hugged him tightly and whispered the same. As much as she wanted to be closer to him that night, she knew it would have to wait because of the storm, and also because she was still weak from fighting to keep her son and herself from going under. As if he had read her mind, Will gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and helped her settle into his bunk. As he pulled the blanket over her, she said, "Stay with us…Please?"
Laughing, he said, "I'd love to, but I don't think I'll fit."
Elizabeth turned on her side and hugged William against her. "Yes you can. Don't be stubborn."
Deciding it was better to agree than disagree, Will managed to squeeze himself onto the bunk and wrapped his arms around his wife and child. Although the three remained on their sides throughout the night, Will and Elizabeth had never slept better.
The Turner family spent the next three days staying as close as possible to one another, knowing that their time together would pass quicker than they would have liked. The storm only lasted another day, which excited William because he was able to roam the ship freely during the clear weather, much to the delight of the Dutchman's crew because he kept them entertained with his questions and songs. And when he had exhausted all of his energy, Elizabeth and Will were able to steal a few moments of privacy while their son slept. Those moments were difficult to find not only because William had plenty of energy but also because there were only a few places on the ship that afforded the kind of privacy Will and Elizabeth both desired.
Soon, however, the Dutchman arrived at an unpopulated shore close to Port Royal so as not to be seen by the townspeople, and the Turners had a difficult time parting ways. Will asked Bootstrap to help Elizabeth locate Jack and help her get settled before the Dutchman left the island. After the tearful farewells of Elizabeth and William, Will waved to them before they disappeared out of sight, not to be seen by him for another six years.
A/N: And I'm back! From outer space! Well, actually I just suddenly found time (and the desire) to write again. Okay, see…the original plan was for me to write a big smutty one shot, but as I got going, cuteness devoured this story, and there was no way to insert such things in this one. I'm still looking for ideas, so if you've got any or you'd like to see something, PM me, mmmkay?
P.S. Thanks to oh-you-pretty-things for the idea for this story - minus the M-ratedness. Sorry. The longboat will be in the next one...maybe.