Chapter 1 – Glad to be Home
The soft sand felt strange under Will's boots after 10 years of wooden decks. As he stumbled from the water onto firm-packed sand, he wondered if he would spend his entire twenty-four hour stay on land stumbling and staggering like Jack Sparrow. He was forced to find his balance quickly, however, when Elizabeth launched herself into his arms. He felt as if his boots had taken root in the ground and would never let him leave this spot.
He immersed himself in the feeling of Elizabeth in his arms once more, the smell of her hair, the sound of her ragged breathing, the pounding of her heart against his still chest. How long they stood there like that, he had no idea. But eventually, his emotions calmed and he was able to open his eyes. He knew that somewhere on this beach, his son was also waiting for him, and he didn't want the boy to feel left out. Will pulled back slightly from Elizabeth, and raised his head to peer around. Sure enough, William was squatted down a few yards away, drawing in the wet sand, waiting for his parents to finish their amorous reunion.
Elizabeth realized that Will's attention had drifted from her to their son. She smiled nervously, hoping this meeting would as easy and fulfilling as possible for her two Williams.
William sensed his parents' gaze and lifted his head from his drawing. He wiped his sandy fingers on his trousers and stood up, looking hesitantly from his parents to the sand.
Will walked toward his son, one arm still wrapped tightly around Elizabeth's waist. He looked down at what William had drawn. It wasn't a picture at all, but words, written in clear print in the smooth sand. "Welcome home."
"Is that for me?" Will asked, his throat tight with emotion.
"Well, I certainly appreciate it. I'm glad to be home." Will extended his unoccupied hand toward his son, hoping beyond hope that the boy would accept it. William stepped carefully around the words in the sand and took his father's hand. Together, the three Turners made their way from the beach to their home.
The small family was strangely quiet on their walk back to the house. It seemed to Will that there was so much to say that the words simply would not come out. For her part, Elizabeth was enjoying the silence, feeling as if the moment had a magical quality that might evaporate if any of them spoke.
William had not wanted to go to bed.
"I don't want to miss anything." He had protested, his lower lip sticking out just as Will remembered Elizabeth's doing when she was a child.
"I promise, you won't miss anything." Elizabeth assured him. "Your father and I just want some time to talk and be together. Then tomorrow, we'll all get up early and spend the whole day together."
"Can I go see grandfather?" William asked.
"Of course, he'll be coming ashore to have lunch with us."
"And can I go on the Dutchman?" William directed his question to his father. "I want to see your ship."
"You certainly may. I'll have Boot – your grandfather give you a tour."
"So you might want to get some rest tonight. Tomorrow will be a very full day." Elizabeth said firmly.
"Alright then." William said resignedly, and flopped down on his bed.
Elizabeth kissed him goodnight, and Will stood by awkwardly. This would be his only chance to put William to bed, but he was afraid that William wouldn't welcome the attention.
As Elizabeth stepped away from her son's bed, he lifted his head slightly from the pillow.
Will realized that William was still struggling with what to call him.
"You won't leave before I wake up, will you? You'll still be here in the morning, right?"
"No, son. I won't leave while you're asleep." Will knelt by William's bed and looked his son in the eyes – eyes so similar to his own that it was almost disconcerting. "I'll be here first thing in the morning and all day long. You know I have to leave tomorrow at sunset. But I promise, I won't leave without saying goodbye."
William reached out and grabbed his father's hand. "I'm glad you're home, even just for one day."
"Me too, William, me too."
William yawned just then, and Will stood, his hand still clasped by the smaller one. William's head dropped to the pillow, and Will could tell he was struggling to keep his eyes open.
"Go to sleep, son. I'll be here in the morning."
"Good night, sir." William said sleepily.
"Good night, William." Will said gently. "I love you."
Will slid his hand from William's and stepped quietly away from his now sleeping son.
When he turned toward Elizabeth, she could see his eyes glittering with tears in the candlelight. Her heart constricted as she knew it was the first, and last time Will would ever put his son to bed. By this time tomorrow, he'd be back on the Flying Dutchman, sailing away from them. And when he visited again, William would be nineteen years old, perhaps not even living at home by then.
Elizabeth snuffed the candle on William's washstand and picked up the one she'd brought in. She took her husband's hand and led him out of the room quietly. Will was silent as they passed through the hallway to the door leading to the patio.
The patio was like a courtyard, enclosed by the house on three sides. The third side faced the sea, although it was only a dark shimmering glint in the distance. There was a small garden beyond a low wall, where Will knew Elizabeth grew bougainvillea, hibiscus, assorted vegetables and a small lime tree. The air was fragrant with the scent of the garden and the sea. Inside the sheltered patio, the ground was paved with smooth stones. There were chairs grouped around several small tables, where Will could picture Elizabeth entertaining guests at tea. There were sconces on the outer walls of the house, and Elizabeth took her candle to light each one. It was truly a beautiful and peaceful retreat – the sort of place that Will had never had, but had always wanted not only for himself but for Elizabeth.
"Will, I'm sorry about William's insisting to call you "captain" and "sir." He's always referred to you as "father" and even "papa" when he was smaller. It never occurred to me that he'd have trouble once you were here."
"No, don't worry about it. When I was a lad, I always talked about my father, and I thought about things I would say to him, and I always imagined I would call him father. But in the ten years I've been with him on the Dutchman, I don't think I've ever called him that directly. Somehow, when he was something of an imaginary character, it was easier than when he is flesh and blood."
Will looked thoughtful for a few moments. "I suppose though, it's long overdue. If, after being here with William for just a few hours, I'm already longing for him to call me father… I imagine I know how Bootstrap must feel."
"I imagine," Elizabeth said carefully. "That he must feel extremely proud of you. You've changed so much since I saw you last."
Seeing Will's worried look, Elizabeth amended, "For the better, of course. I started to see it during the situation with Beckett, but now it's firmly taken root and grown in you."
"Confidence. It was something you always lacked as a child, and as a youth. It's what kept you always bound by convention, even if at times you wished to break free."
"I was brought up to know my place, which was beneath everyone else. Confidence was a luxury I couldn't afford."
"And why should that be the case? Because of your parentage? Because of your occupation? The qualities that make you a fine captain have always been a part of you. You've always had the ability to lead, it was just subdued under your sense of propriety."
"Which you always did your best to dismantle."
"Of course. I knew who you were, William Turner. I knew what you were capable of becoming. You just lacked the confidence to show it to anyone else."
"I often wonder, if this hadn't happened to me," Will gestured to his chest, "What would have happened to us? Would I have been able to go back to Port Royal – to the life I was living there? To the expectations placed upon us?"
"I don't think so, Elizabeth. I don't believe I could ever have been the man your father wanted me to be."
"And neither would I have wanted you to. Of course we jumped through his hoops in order to gain his approval, but that life was never one I wanted for us, Will. It would have suffocated us both."
"It's a shame that just when we had freed ourselves from it, we found ourselves bound to a darker fate, and still unable to get what we really want."
"And what is it, Will Turner, that you want?"
"I've only ever wanted to stay by your side and raise our family together. I think I'd even be content to be a blacksmith again, if it meant that I could be with you and William."
"But the Dutchman needs a captain." Elizabeth said, with a touch of bitterness in her voice.
"The Dutchman needs a captain." Will paused thoughtfully. "I owe so much to Jack… he could have taken the Dutchman for himself… but he didn't. And because of him, I've had this day to look forward to every single day of the last ten years. And knowing that I'm doing it in order to be with you makes my bondage to the Dutchman easier."
"And fait'ful service must be rewarded, William Turner." An eerily familiar voice spoke from the garden.
Will's eyes widened and he saw Elizabeth's similar expression of recognition and surprise. "Calypso." He said quietly.
The familiar figure of Tia Dalma stepped from the shadows of the garden. "Service to de Flying Dutchman never meant to be a curse, but a responsibility. Davy Jones brought dat curse upon himself. But you.." She approached Will and looked him directly in the eye. He suppressed the urge to look away from her yellowed eyes, and submitted stoically to her scrutiny.
"You have done your duty," She stated firmly. "And fulfilled your obligation."
From beside him, Will heard Elizabeth gasp. "Fulfilled?" she whispered.
Tia Dalma ignored her. "Because you have returned to your true love, and she to you, you are free to remain with her."
Will felt his throat constrict. It sounded like Calypso was releasing him from his duty. But how was that possible? Surely there was some catch. "But the Dutchman?" Will asked, his voice shaking. "Who will take command?"
Tia Dalma sauntered away from him, and her hands flitted through the air. "Dere will always be men who love de sea more dan anyt'ing else. And so – de Dutchman will always have a captain."
Will grabbed Elizabeth's hand, and tried to remain composed. "And the crew?"
Elizabeth held her breath. She knew what he was really asking was what would happen to his father. His whole purpose in seeking out the heart of Davy Jones had been to free his father from the Dutchman. If that could not be accomplished, would he give up his own chance to be free, simply so that his father would not be left alone? He hadn't had to make that decision ten years earlier. His choices had been taken from him by Davy Jones' sword. But if presented with the question again, what would his choice be?
"Dey too are free, free to live out deir nat'ral lives on land, free to go on to de land beyond the horizon, free to continue to serve de Dutchman."
Elizabeth's eyes narrowed suspiciously. This seemed too good to be true. "What's the catch?"
The woman's dark eyes flashed at the suggestion that she was hiding something from them. "Dere be no catch. De sea has been corrupted for many years, untended, un-cared-for. But now I am putting everyt'ing right. I bind no one who does not bind demself willingly. And dose who fulfill deir obligations are set free. 'Tis only dose who take for demself and do not do deir part dat are cursed. Dey bring de curse upon demself."
The tension that had been building in Will's face seemed to finally lessen. "I'm really free?"
He laid his hand on his chest, feeling the scar where his heart was removed.
Tia Dalma looked at him with almost a tender expression. "It will be returned to you. If your love be fait'ful to you, you will live out your nat'ral life wit her, and den, when you are old and your children and grandchildren be grown, de Dutchman will come for you bot, to take you across the horizon togeder." She paused and her voice became stern again. "But if she leave you…"
Elizabeth answered fiercely. "There's no danger of that."
The goddess turned to Elizabeth and looked at her appraisingly. "No. I tink you bot know now what you truly want. Your hearts are no longer divided." She smiled and nodded. "You will live in peace." And with that, she stepped back into the shadows and disappeared.
Elizabeth and Will stood peering out into the darkness for several moments trying to process everything that had just happened. Then Will grabbed Elizabeth forcefully by the waist. He spun her around, and she was surprised to see the intensity of his expression. He kissed her powerfully and deeply, and when they parted, he was smiling – no grinning – from ear to ear.
"I think I shall do that every night for the rest of my life."
"A life that will now be significantly shorter than it was to be yesterday."
"Elizabeth, immortality means nothing without you. I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all eternity on the sea alone."
"I'm glad you feel that way. Because even one lifetime without you is far too long."
As the couple continued whispered affirmations of their love between passionate kisses, they failed to notice the small boy creeping away from his hiding place at the door of the patio.