Author's Note: I've had this story and it's companion piece sitting around for ages. I've always imagined it would be part of a larger story, but that never panned out. I've also wanted to polish it up, but haven't really had the energy to do it. Sometimes I write in a flurry of motivation, and once the story's out of my system, I just can't get back into it to add on or edit. I hate leaving it all rough around the edges, but I hate leaving it all lonely and dusty on my harddrive more. So, for the sake of it seeing the light of day, here it is. It's not really based on the same POTC universe as my other stories, just a stand-alone episode happening nearly 10 years after the events of AWE.
P.S. OK, since I've already gotten a comment about it, here's my thing on Will's curse. At this point, Will & his family have no idea how the curse will pan out. So they're assuming that he'll only get to visit once every 10 years. Since this is from their perspective, I just left it at that. My other POTC fics are different in that respect.
A FORTUITOUS MEETING – PART 1
CAPTAIN WILL TURNER, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
Captain Will Turner felt an odd twisting in his stomach as the Dutchman approached her target. From his vantage point below, he could see evidence of a skirmish. One ship had been utterly destroyed, it's crew and debris littering the waves above, and beginning to sink into the deep. The other ship was clearly crippled and struggling to stay afloat. The carnage was nothing new to Will, after nearly ten years of ferrying the dead. He had seen worse battles. But there was something about this one that was bothering him. He couldn't tell from beneath if the crippled ship was one he knew, but he couldn't shake the odd feeling that it was.
Generally, Will kept the Dutchman submerged during daylight hours. The appearance of the notorious ship was considered a bad omen by most sailors, and Will preferred not to cause panic if he could avoid it. He could easily do his duty from beneath the waves, calling out to the newly departed souls, beckoning them to take passage on the ghost ship. What he could not do from underwater was attend to the dying. It wasn't a necessary part of his job, but when he could, he tried to arrive at a dying sailor's side in time to offer him a place on the crew, and to help ease the transition from life to death. Especially if the man was alone. Having experienced death firsthand, with Elizabeth by his side, he fervently believed that no one should have to die alone.
Because of the nagging feeling of familiarity with the battered ship, Will didn't feel comfortable waiting until dark to surface. If there was someone he knew on that ship, and they were at the brink of death, he would regret it if he wasn't there for them. It wasn't often that Will had contact with his friends among the living, and when the opportunity was there, he felt he had to take it, even at the risk of causing a bit of panic. He ordered the crew to bring the ship to the surface
As the Dutchman settled on the gentle waves, Will prepared himself to transport to the other ship, steeling himself for whatever he may find there. His father turned the wheel over to another crewman and went to his son's side.
"If there's anythin' over there that ye can't handle alone. Anythin' at all…" Bill said cryptically. He could tell that his son was bothered by something, which usually meant he was worried about Elizabeth.
"Aye." Will said quietly, as he removed his baldric, handing the belt and sword to his father. "I'll let you know."
Will raised his voice. "Mr. Turner has command in my absence." He announced to the crew, and with that, he disappeared from the deck.
As his boots hit the deck of the wounded ship, Will began searching for some crewmember to question. The fore of the ship was deserted, with the exeption of a small boy who was standing near the railing looking at the Dutchman. The boy turned around and Will strode toward him, intent on asking him for details about this ship and her crew.
Will appraised the lad. He seemed to be no more than ten years old, a bit young for a cabin boy. Perhaps a powder monkey? Or a crewman's son? With that thought, Will stopped suddenly. He looked at the boy's face. Wide brown eyes, a smattering of freckles across his nose. Elizabeth had been thoroughly freckled when he'd first met her. Honey-colored hair, like Elizabeth's when she'd been in the sun. But his nose, it was straight and long, very unlike Elizabeth's. And his chin… there was the tiniest cleft in the boy's chin. Just like Bill's and his own.
Will realized he'd just been standing there, staring. He suddenly remembered his errand, and a renewed terror rose in his chest as he thought of the battle this ship had just been through. If the boy was here, surely Elizabeth would be here also. But then why wasn't she with her son?
"Are you alright?" Will asked urgently. The boy looked taken aback, his hand resting uneasily on the hilt of the cutlass in his belt.
"I, uh… I'm fine." He stammered. Will felt a glimmer of relief, but his worries had not yet been assuaged.
"Where's your mother?".
"She's not on board."
"Oh thank God." Relief washed over him, and he glanced over at his father, who was standing near the railing on the Dutchman. Will shook his head at his father, knowing the man would understand that Elizabeth was not onboard.
Now that he knew his wife and son were safe, his duty was calling him persuasively.
"The wounded are below deck?" He asked William. The boy nodded, still looking bewildered. Will felt the conflicting emotions of wanting to talk to his son, and needing to fulfill his responsibility to the dying. He sighed heavily. First the dying… then he'd be free to speak with William until the Dutchman was needed elsewhere.
"Listen, I… I have a job to do, but I need to speak with you. As soon as I'm finished, I'll come back here." He gestured to the railing where William stood. "Will you wait for me?"
Will searched the boy's face, wondering if he knew who Will was, wondering if he'd even want to speak with him if he did. The boy nodded just slightly, and Will took that as the best answer he was going to get.
Will transported himself through the deck to the mess cabin where the tables had been converted to beds for the wounded. A stocky man was attending an unconscious man with a head wound and looked up startled as Will appeared before him.
"I apologize for my sudden appearance." Will said. "I don't normally come aboard ships like this, but…" Will's words died as he tried to find a way to explain his presence.
"You…" The doctor stammered, looking pale. "You're from the Flying Dutchman aren't you?"
William sighed and spoke quietly. "Yes. Please don't say anything to anyone. I'm only here to attend to the dying… to ease their passage. I don't want to cause any panic."
"I see." The doctor cleared his throat and straightened up, clearly attempting to be as professional as possible. "Do you…ah… know which ones?"
"I know the ones who are ready now." Will's eyes scanned the room, and he identified two men who were at the brink of death. He went to the side of a man with a hideous wound in his abdomen. A fellow sailor was applying pressure, but the wound continued to hemorrhage.
Will approached quietly, and took the man's hand. The wounded sailor's breathing was ragged, but he was conscious.
"You know that this is the end, don't you?" Will asked gently.
"Aye." The man gasped. His crewmate that had been attending him looked at Will in surprise, but seeing the intensity of his face, said nothing.
"Are you ready?"
"Aye, sir. I think I am."
"Just a few more minutes, and it will be over. My ship is nearby, and you can accompany us to the other side. I promise, you have nothing to fear."
"I believe you." The man gasped out, then his eyes drooped, and his body went limp. His breathing continued, shallow and rough, but he did not move.
"He won't wake again." Will said quietly the sailor that was still trying to stem the flow of blood. "You should turn your attentions to the others that may yet be saved."
Will moved to the man that the doctor was now attending. His wounds were similar to the other's, and he was gasping for breath.
As Will was speaking to the dying man, the doctor watched curiously. The man ceased to struggle for breath, and slipped silently unconscious. His breathing became a rattle, and then finally ceased. The doctor glanced past Will toward the stairs. Will turned to follow his gaze just in time to see a small figure dart up the stairs.
"You're captain of the Dutchman, aren't you?" The doctor asked quietly.
"And the boy… he's your son?"
Will wondered how to respond. If William's parentage wasn't common knowledge, that was probably for the best. Being known as the son of the Flying Dutchman's captain would be difficult at best due to the superstition surrounding his ship, and dangerous at worst, if anyone sought to control Will by using his son as leverage.
The doctor saw Will's expression, and his face became sympathetic.
"He's a good boy, Captain Turner. But a boy needs to know his father. Go to him. The rest of my patients will pull through, or you'll see them in a few days. Either way, they are my responsibility, not yours. Go spend some time with your son while you can."
Will's relief was obvious and he shook the doctor's hand heartily. "Thank you."
Without thinking, Will sprinted up the stairs toward the upper deck. He could have transported himself there instantly, but it hadn't even occurred to him to do so. As he ran, he decided it was probably for the best. Even if William knew of his father's special abilities, it would still be strange for him. And if he didn't know? Well, Will knew he was going to have to do some explaining anyway.
As he emerged on the deck, Will was relieved to see William standing right where Will had told him he'd meet him. He was gazing out over the waves at the Flying Dutchman. Will could just barely see Bootstrap at the fore of the Dutchman, staring back. I wonder if he can see William? Will wondered. And does he realize it's his grandson he's looking at?
Will walked over to where William stood. He wanted to put his hand on the boy's shoulder, to hug him and tell him how much he loved him. But he had no way of knowing if William even knew who he was.
Will leaned against the railing, trying to gather his thoughts and figure out how to begin. When he glanced at William, the boy quickly turned. He had been staring at Will.
"William, I… I don't know if you know who I am…"
"I know who you are." William said, turning to look at Will. "Is that my grandfather over there?"
Will heaved a sigh of relief. "Yes."
"And you're really captain of the Flying Dutchman?"
"Do you… do you have to leave now?"
"Not yet. I still have some time. I'd like to spend it with you, if you're willing."
William nodded. "My mother will be sad she wasn't here."
Will felt a pang to the core of his being. Of course he was glad Elizabeth hadn't been aboard the ship when it was attacked. It was his greatest fear that something terrible would befall her in his absence. But if she had been aboard, and not been harmed… she'd be in his arms this very moment.
"Do you miss her?" William asked shyly.
"Yes, very much. And I miss you too."
"But you don't even know me." William stated with a bit of skepticism.
"I know your name is William Joshua Turner the third. I know you are almost nine years old. I know you like to ride horses and draw. I know you're a right good cabin boy, and I suspect this is your first voyage alone."
"Oh." William said, clearly amazed that this stranger – his father – was clearly interested in William's life.
"Is there anything else I should know?"
"Well… before mama let me come on this voyage, I've been helping Paul and Beto at the smithy. Mama said you used to be a blacksmith, so I want to be one too."
"That's right, I was a blacksmith. But, then, if you want to be a blacksmith, why are you at sea?"
"I wanted to visit my friend on Barbados, and mama decided I was old enough to go alone. This is her ship, you know. It does trade runs in the Caribbean, so I get to go to Barbados, and also a bunch of other islands. But not Tortuga. Mama said she's not ready for me to go to Tortuga yet."
"I should think not."
"Have you been to Tortuga?"
"I have, and I can tell you, it's not as much fun as some people might lead you to believe. Noisy and smelly, and most of the people there are quite rude. So really, you aren't missing much."
"Are you really my father? I mean, really really?"
"Yes. Really really."
"And you're married to my mother?"
"Of course. We married on the deck of the Black Pearl. Hasn't she told you that?"
"Well, yes. But lots of people say all kinds of things…"
"Well, they say that my father must be dead and that my mother just doesn't want to believe it. Or that my father ran away on purpose and won't ever come back. Or that my mother doesn't even know who my father is. But none of that is true… is it?"
"No. You can see that I'm alive, and I promise you I didn't leave on purpose. I promise I'll be back to visit as soon as I can. But you do know I can't stay, don't you?"
"Mama said you have an important job to do and you can only come visit for one day every ten years."
"That's right. I wish it wasn't so… but it is."
"It's because Davy Jones was really really bad, isn't it?"
"Well, yes, that just about sums it up. I have to do the job that he refused to do."
"Did he really stab you with a sword?"
Will looked taken aback. "Yes, he did." He pulled his shirt open to show William the jagged scar, which still remained red and raw even after so many years.
William's eyes grew round as he stared at the scar. When he spoke, his voice was low, almost a whisper. "Did it hurt?"
"Yes, but I'm alright now. I know it looks bad, but it doesn't hurt very often." What Will didn't tell him was that the scar from Davy Jones' sword had all but faded, and the ugly red scar was actually from where Bootstrap had cut out his heart. If William knew about the heart and the chest, so be it… but if he didn't, Will didn't really want to bring it up.
William nodded and seemed satisfied with the explanation.
"And you help dead people get to Fiddler's Green?"
"The men who died today… they'll go with you?"
"And you take care of them… so they aren't frightened?"
"That's right. Death isn't something to be afraid of, William. It's difficult, because no one can explain what it's like to someone else."
"Captain Turner?" William asked hesitantly.
"I'm sorry I don't write better letters. Mama always wants me to write more. But I can't ever think of what to write."
"I understand. And I want you to know, that I'm pleased every time I get a letter from you, even if it's short. I just want to know what your life is like, so I can imagine what it would be like if I was there."
"I'll try to write more."
"And William?" Will laid a hand on William's shoulder. "I know we've only just met, but you don't have to call me Captain."
"Would you like to call me Will?"
"Mama said I'm not to call grown-ups by their first name. And anyway, Will is my name."
"Is that what everyone calls you?"
"Mama won't let them. She says that's your name. But I wish they would call me Will."
"You don't like the name William? I think it's a good name."
"Well if you like it so much, maybe you should use it and I'll be Will."
"Ah, you've caught me. I think I prefer to be called Will too."
"I don't know why we can't both be Will. I mean we're never in the same place for people to get confused."
William said it straightforwardly, with no hint of anger or sadness. But it pierced his father like a blade.
"You know, you're right. If you'd like, when I come for my visit, I'll tell El – your mother that you can be called Will. But don't be surprised if she carries on calling you William. My father still calls me William."
"But that's his name too, isn't it?"
"Yes, but everyone calls him Bill or Bootstrap."
"I guess nobody wants to be William."
"Maybe not, but it's still a good name."