Bootstrap slowly opened his eyes to meet the dimly lit room. The sound of heavy breathing resonated in the quiet space, and his vision finally fought off the weariness to discover Jack sitting up and trembling.
He rose to be closer to him and questioned, "Jack?"
The man did not respond. His amber orbs were wide and alight with panic, he was sweating, and he continued to pant for breath.
"What is it?" Turner asked concerned.
Jack shook his head. "It's-" he gasped, "-It's nothing."
"It isn't nothing. What's wrong?"
"It's more strange than anything, not having them come for me."
"What do you mean?"
"It's that time; I know it."
The anxiety Bootstrap had was increasing greatly. "What time?"
"They would get me the same time every other night…Blindfold me and drag me to some place."
"What did they do to you, Jack?"
Jack let out a small whine, shut his eyes tightly, and began to sway back and forth. Bootstrap remembered seeing him do the same thing when he liberated him from the asylum.
He took hold of Jack's arm and said sternly, "What is it, Jack? What did they do when they hauled you away?"
"They…They tore off the robe and…shackled my hands above my head. It was so dark, I couldn't see a thing."
The fragile male made a choking sound and tears started to drip from his eyes. It caused Bootstrap to become even more frightened of what happened to him.
"And then what did they do?"
"Please make them stop, William," Jack pleaded.
"I'm right here. There's no one else."
Jack lurched forward and begged once again, "Please make them stop!"
Turner enveloped him securely in his arms and cradled him affectionately. "Shhh…..shhh…..It's all in your head. They can't harm ya anymore. You're safe. You're free. They're not here. It's in your head."
"Their hands…I can feel them everywhere and I can't see. I'm twisting about to get away, but the chains make my arms stretch too much and I stop. Can you see them?"
Bootstrap was flabbergasted, and a hot fury weaved its way into his veins. He believed the assaults went beyond inappropriate touching, making him sick with the vision of Jack being forced upon.
He kissed Jack's forehead and whispered, "They aren't here now. They will never harm you again. I promise."
Jack took numerous deep breaths as Bootstrap stroked his hair soothingly. After several long moments, the older man sensed that he was calming down.
"It's alright, Jack. You're safe from them."
The memory ceased once Jack began to breathe slow and even.
"Lay down," Bootstrap encouraged. "Come on. Lay down."
Jack stretched out on his back and Turner lay beside him. Their heads were at the foot of the bed, and each gazed up at the ceiling for a short time until Jack turned to rest on his side facing the taller man.
"Sorry about that," he spoke quietly.
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm sorry it's all troubling you. You want to talk?"
"No. If I don't mention it, hopefully it'll just go away. Maybe the truth will just replace it…..This all makes me think that it's a dream; I'll wake up and still be trapped and torn inside that bloody Kraken."
"I can tell ya now it isn't a dream." He caressed Jack's cheek gently and whispered, "Get some sleep, Jack."
"I can't. I'm awake now. I won't be getting any tonight."
"You want me to stay up with you?"
"No. You've been losin' enough because of me these past few days."
Bootstrap nodded and waited a second before he kissed Jack softly. Jack smiled as Turner pulled away after a minute.
"What was that for?"
Bootstrap shrugged. "Not sure."
He winked and moved to lie properly beneath the covers. Jack sighed and rubbed his face.
It would be a long night like it always used to be.
There was a window that faced the populated docks of Port Royal, and there was a cushioned seat built right beside it for one to observe the outside world closely.
Bootstrap woke, stretched, and his eyes landed on Jack who was sitting on the window seat. The male's legs were bent and he held them against his chest. His features were clouded with intense melancholy and emptiness at the same time. He stared out toward the harbor even though the image was not as clear as it tended to be due to rain pouring steadily down, the drops clinging helplessly to the glass.
Turner unhurriedly got up and went to him.
"This spot taken?"
A ripple went through Jack as if he were being awoken from a trance. He gazed at Turner and grinned. "Of course not."
Bootstrap sat next to him and inquired, "Did you get any sleep?"
Jack shook his head.
Turner sighed. "Well, I guess you'll have all day to if you want. Will wants my help at the shop."
Jack stared at him caringly before saying, "I am truly happy for you, William."
"You're getting to watch your son grow up and be there for him like you always wanted."
Bootstrap smiled. "It's great, isn't it? Seems like it's the only good thing to come from this heart conflict."
Jack chuckled. "I think you may be right."
Bootstrap took Jack's hand in his and massaged it gently. "I'll get you some breakfast."
"And rum, if you have any."
"I'll see what I can do."
He stood and let his grip on Jack's hand loosen leisurely as he walked away.
When he reached the door, he paused and asked, "Can I get you anything else?"
Jack pondered for a moment then spoke. "Yes. Do you have a mirror?"
Fingers picked at the piece of bread in his hands and he occasionally nibbled on the food as he observed Bootstrap set up a large, full length mirror in one of the corners near the bed.
"There," Bootstrap stated as he took a step back to survey the new addition to the room. "How's that?"
Jack lifted his thumb in the air and replied, "Perfect."
He went through with eating the bread and then got up from his seat near the window. Bootstrap crossed to him and when he reached him, the door began to open. Jack quickly dove to the floor beside the bed to be out of sight, but he had already been spotted by the youthful maid who entered.
She was an innocent girl who had the beauty of a porcelain doll. Her luscious brown locks were pinned up in a neat bun, her blue eyes were gentle and kind, and she provided every chaste characteristic that should be expected of one who was named after the virgin Mary.
"Who – Is he alright?" she inquired completely surprised and concerned.
Bootstrap shrugged. "I don't know who you mean, my dear."
"There was a man…..right there beside you."
Bootstrap studied her sternly and after a brief minute, he let out a sigh. "Can you keep something a secret, Mary?" She had a loyal streak present in her that he knew of, and it made him firmly believe that he could trust her.
"Yes, Mr. Turner. Whatever you need hidden, I will not tell a soul."
He motioned with his arm to Jack, who slowly stood in response.
"John," the younger man interjected hurriedly.
Bootstrap glanced at him questioningly, yet he did not correct him. "Yes, this is John. And I need you to not tell anyone that he's here; do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Mary said.
"You're the only person who knows he's here; nobody else can find out."
"Certainly, Mr. Turner. It will not be a problem."
Her gaze moved from Bootstrap to Jack and she stared at him with interest like a curious child. Jack shifted uncomfortably and flashed a smile.
"Mary?" Bootstrap questioned.
Her wandering eyes fell on Turner once more and she said rapidly, "Oh yes. Your son asked me to tell you he would like you at the shop as soon as you are able."
"Of course. Thank you, Mary."
She started to leave, but Bootstrap called to her.
"Yes, Mr. Turner?"
"I trust that if you see anyone come to this room, you'll divert them immediately?"
She exited, shutting the door behind her.
"You can rely on her. I promise," he spoke reassuringly to Jack.
Jack simply nodded.
"Now, what did you want with this mirror?"
"It's been awhile since I've seen myself, and I know I've changed, so I'm curious to see how much."
Jack went to the glass object with Turner behind him, but he stopped abruptly upon reaching it.
"Go on," Bootstrap prodded.
"Here. Close your eyes."
Jack did, and Turner guided him to stand before the mirror.
Jack stopped breathing and his mouth fell open slightly the instant he saw his reflection. The person that was pictured was hardly the one he vaguely remembered himself as. The change was overwhelming. His frame was extremely thin, his face livid, and his skin was a few shades lighter. But the change he noticed the most was the absence of his long hair.
He touched his fingers to the chin-length, messy, tangled strands and found no beads to grasp. Tears welled in his eyes at this. His other hand moved to caress his shaven face, and an expression of utter sadness and helplessness covered his features.
The altered appearance was such a shock and he was wholly wrapped up in it that he did not notice Bootstrap leaving silently to allow him to re-discover himself alone.
It was late in the afternoon when Bootstrap returned to the household. He opened the door to his bedroom and shut it quietly behind him. Jack glanced quickly over his shoulder as if startled and held Bootstrap's sympathetic gaze. He was still standing in front of the mirror, just as Bootstrap had left him – save for the absence of clothes. The older man took in Jack's naked body from the back as he walked closer. He was heartbroken at the clear sight he at last had of Jack's famished and marred form.
Jack stared at the glass as Bootstrap stopped behind him.
"Who is that?" he began in a whisper. "Who is that?" he voiced a little louder. "Certainly not who it's supposed to be."
"You look fine, Jack," Turner lied. In reality Jack was an absolute wreck on the outside and the inside.
"You and I both know that's a falsehood."
"Jack, you'll be fine."
"Did you find my trinkets?" he asked as he brushed his fingers through his hair.
"No, I didn't. What I showed you last night is all I have."
"They were my memories, Bootstrap. He's gone."
"Don't you talk like that. He's right here. I see him. He's just hiding."
"Maybe you can see him, but I sure as hell can't."
Jack covered his face, and Bootstrap turned him around to embrace him securely. Jack hugged him desperately as he started to sob freely. In Turner's eyes, it was the most vulnerable moment that he had ever witnessed of Jack.
Bootstrap rocked consolingly while still holding Jack tightly to him. He did not utter a word; all that could be heard was Jack's uneven breaths.
He looked at the mirror and wondered how it had come to be the way it was; he doubted if they would be able to retrieve the heart considering Jack's current fragile condition and state of emotional instability.
Numerous minutes passed before Jack got himself under control. He showed no signs of wanting to pull away, and Bootstrap did not make a move to.
"My apologies for this," he voiced softly, sounding ashamed.
"Don't be sorry. It's not your fault."
"It wasn't supposed to be like this. I didn't know that blasted heart had the ability to do all that it has."
Jack waited a little while longer and then broke away slightly. They stared at each other for a period until it seemed as though each made the unspoken conscious decision to move closer and kiss.
As Bootstrap savored the coarse, yet supple lips, he vowed that there would be no interruption this time.
They stumbled slowly toward the bed and upon reaching it, Jack lay down and Turner moved over him. Their attention reverted quickly back to each other's lips – incessantly tasting, devouring, remembering. Jack's fingers swept through Turner's hair, while Turner's own caressed Jack's face affectionately.
When Jack felt a hand slide along his leg, he stiffened in response, but soon relaxed. He started to pull at Bootstrap's shirt in order to let the man know he wanted it gone. Bootstrap removed the clothing and tossed it carelessly aside. A few moments later, an impatient tug made him pause again to rid himself of his trousers. Delight swelled within Jack as his hands meandered about on the nude being above him.
Bootstrap began to nibble on Jack's neck, eliciting an exhale of breath mixed with a satisfied noise to come from the younger man. His mouth ventured downward as his palms roamed the bare torso. It made Jack whimper and gasp; his fingers clutched the bed linens tightly as Bootstrap's mouth went below his waist. His face was tense, and he found himself submerged in ecstasy, but all at once the appalling memories bombarded his freeing thoughts of the moment. Anxiety flooded him, and he became rigid under Turner.
"No, no. Stop," he whispered weakly. "Please stop."
Bootstrap ceased his actions instantly and shifted to where he could look at Jack directly. "What is it?"
"It's…..It's too soon. I'm sorry, love."
Turner could feel his face flush with hot anger at the thought of what had been allowed to happen to Jack. He put a gentle hand on Jack's cheek and brushed his hair back.
"Whatever they did to you, I swear it will never happen again. I will never hurt you, Jack."
The words caused a smile to form by Jack's lips. He watched as Bootstrap lay next to him. Silently, he crawled atop the warm body and rested his head on Turner's chest. Turner stroked Jack's short hair and sighed.
"I'm sorry, Jack."
"For what, love?"
"Not getting to you sooner. I didn't realize it was so bad. Maybe if I had, you wouldn't hurt as much. Maybe you would have a bit more of…..a bit more of the old Jack Sparrow still in ya. I hate that you're unsure of how you were."
"It was bad before you got there, but I made it worse for myself after the three of you visited, I assure you. Don't worry yourself with it. I promise to come to my old ways; at least a scrap of them."
Jack placed a soft kiss on Bootstrap's skin and let out a breath. Bootstrap held Jack to him protectively, wondering wordlessly about how their daunting task would start to take shape.
Jack turned to lie on his side and was clearly still under the control of sleep, for he did not hear the knock on the door nor the polite voice that questioned, "John?"
Mary opened the door and crept into the room. She shut the entrance quietly and looked to the bed. The covers had fallen slightly from Jack's shoulders, revealing a small portion of his back. Her expression became curious as she gazed with interest at the marks visible. She was about to draw nearer, but Jack stirred and mumbled something incoherently. Quickly, she darted to the closet as the reason for her entering returned. She hurriedly searched through the hanging garments, unaware of the amused, brown eyes watching her from behind.
A sigh came from her when she could not find what she had come for. The moment she turned around, she let out a surprised yelp and put a hand to her breast. Jack had sat up and continued to observe her with a kind grin playing across his lips.
"I'm sorry," she said, sounding embarrassed. "Did I wake you?"
"No, no; you didn't wake me. What are you doing?"
"Oh, well, Mr. Turner – the younger Mr. Turner – wanted to come in here and look for some sort of coat, but I told him I could do it. I can't seem to find it, though."
Jack's eyes narrowed slightly as he inquired, "What kind of coat?"
"A grayish one that's a tad long, large cuffs on the sleeves, and made out of a somewhat coarse material, I believe."
"Did he say why he wanted it?" Jack's heart began to beat at a greater speed, and he silently wished that her gaze would not shift to the right to look near the bed.
"I heard him mention that someone else was interested in knowing if such a coat was here or not. Apparently it isn't from what I can see."
"Uh-hmm." Jack tilted his head as a thought suddenly came to him. "Tell me, Mary, do you know who Jack Sparrow is?"
"You mean the one from all the stories?"
"Yes, of course. He seems to be quite a celebrity even though he's fictional. But I think otherwise."
"What do you think?"
"I believe he's…..You really don't want to listen to a maid, do you?" she inquired shyly.
"Why wouldn't I?" he replied charmingly.
She smiled broadly. "In that case, I believe he's real. I don't know why, but something tells me he is."
Jack ceased to breathe for a second.
"In fact you kind of resemble him; well, if you had longer hair, a beard, and whatnot." Jack's grin faltered, but she did not notice. "But that's just based off of what I've seen in books. He could be completely different."
"You want to know a secret, my dear?"
"What would that be?"
Jack paused for a brief moment before he said rather proudly, "I happen to know him, so I assure you, he's real."
The visitor stared at the house with suspicion for a minute before he walked stiffly to the door. He knocked firmly four times, then an additional five, and glanced about his surroundings as he waited. His focus returned to the door when it started to open.
"Good morning, Commodore," the butler greeted.
Norrington permitted a minute smile to pass across his lips before speaking. "Morning. Is the entire Turner family in at the moment?"
"I do believe they are, sir. Please come in."
The gentleman led Norrington into the main parlor and then went to gather the three residents. Elizabeth entered first, followed by Will, and lastly Bootstrap. Salutations were exchanged and simple queries were answered as they took seats near one another.
"What's the occasion, James?" Elizabeth asked kindly.
"I have some disturbing news that I need to inform you of immediately," Norrington stated.
As the words filtered out of the Commodore's mouth, Bootstrap became intensely alert.
"It concerns John," the Navy officer continued.
Will grasped his wife's hand and questioned, "What's happened?"
"We've received notice that he has escaped, and it has been confirmed that he was not alone in the endeavor."
Norrington's eyes shifted to glance at Bootstrap skeptically after he finished the sentence. Bootstrap held the intimidating gaze unwaveringly for a short time before Norrington continued on.
The door was hurriedly closed to the bedroom once Bootstrap had entered, and he found Jack sitting on the floor when he turned around. Jack immediately discerned the uneasiness and seriousness that clouded Turner's features.
"What's wrong?" he inquired gently.
"What are ya doin' down there?"
"I asked you a question first."
Bootstrap treaded to him and sat next to him. Jack stretched his legs out and patted them as a smile came to his face. The older man took the invite; he lay perpendicular to Jack with his head resting on the male's lap.
"They know, Jack," he said gravely as Jack began to stroke his hair.
"Know what, love?"
"They know you're not there anymore."
A tremor of fear bolted through Jack. "Are you certain?"
"Norrington was just by to say so. And he knows you had an accomplice. He's sure I had somethin' to do with it."
"How do you know?"
"The way he looked at me, I know."
Jack went silent. Bootstrap observed him closely before continuing.
"It's your call, Jack. What do you want to do? Are you ready?"
Jack appeared to be searching for an answer as his thoughts crashed about in his mind. A hand reached up to caress his cheek reassuringly.
"I'll be right there with you."
A quaking breath escaped Jack before he spoke. "If there's a move to make, it has to be made now."
"How soon do you want to act? Are you sure you're well enough?"
"I'll be fine. Tonight we'll start. I'll go find Beckett's office and do some rummaging around-"
"What?" Bootstrap voiced dryly and started to get up.
Jack held him down and said calmly, "Don't worry. I just want to see if he's kept the rest of my effects as memorials, savvy? He may have still wished to have the compass even after he got the heart; certainly won't be good for us if he does."
"We'll leave here afterward. Commandeer a ship-"
"And head for a lady friend of mine. Then, of course, we'll need a crew; Tortuga it is."
"What about Barbossa?"
"We'll deal with him soon enough."
Jack placed his hand against Turner's countenance lightly and sighed. Bootstrap kissed the fingertips softly in response.
"Jack…..I'm sorry. For the mutiny-"
"Stop that. It was so long ago and I got her back. 'Course now it seems that I've lost her again, but that's beside the point. We both paid our dues, so let's move on."
Turner inhaled a deep breath and nodded.
"You know, there's another good thing that's come from this mishap."
"You." The younger man's smile broadened.
The affection and sincerity present in Jack's rich eyes were easily seen. Bootstrap rose and moved to face Jack directly. Jack wrapped his legs around Turner's waist as Turner inched closer. They kissed one another's lips vehemently, occupied only with the pleasurable sensations aroused from the contact, until at last each broke away in order to catch a breath.
"I never thought we'd be doin' this again," Turner voiced with a chuckle.
"Stealing kisses in spite of present danger?" Jack replied charismatically.
"Well, we always seemed to make it out alright, so it must've brought good luck. Why do you have to be so irresistible, eh?"
"Stop tryin' to flatter me and just go on."
Bootstrap was more than willing to comply as he leaned forward to capture Jack's mouth with his once more.
A/N: I really loved working on this fic, but who knows if it'll ever actually be finished. :/ Just thought I'd post it anyway since I've been sort of going back through old fics. Maybe feedback will get me inspired to continue. :)