A/N: So, we've come to the end. I hope y'all have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. This chapter is the epilogue of "Make Him Proud", but since one of my big ideas for this story did not fit into the plot there will be a sequel (which is already plotted out and the first few chapters are written). This epilogue will act as the prologue of the second story. Basically, if you still have questions about Haytham's childhood, why Birch was still alive to cause mischief, or like Edward you should check it out. Here's the info:
Title: Do Right By Him
Summary: Mr. Faulkner thinks Connor needs to get back in the saddle and insists he goes on a short, treasure hunting voyage. Haytham thinks this is A Very Bad Idea and suspects it will go terribly, but with Connor excited to get back out there he decides to accompany them (to prevent any major disasters…) Meanwhile, in a final desperate gambit to stop the colonial rebellion Great Britain decides to offer pirates clemency in exchange for their services as privateers against colonial ships. This is a series of one-shots that each stands alone in the context of the story.
Once again, I want to thank everyone who has reviewed. Y'all have been amazing. The suggestions, historical notes (and corrections of my historical notes), and general feedback have helped keep me motivated and on track through this whole process.
Huge thanks to my beta, Kris, without whom this story would be far less coherent.
No one wanted Birch to be buried in the same little plot of land beside the church as Achilles. In fact, no one wanted him buried anywhere on the homestead. Instead they sent a rider to the nearest port with a heavy bag of gold and a request that the next shipping off to England stop off in the cove. It arrived with a very grateful crew the next day. Norris and Warren had wrapped Birch in every available scrap of cloth while Terry and Godfrey had constructed a coffin with thick enough sides to hopefully keep the stench of death at bay for the length of the voyage to England. When they left the manor to take the box down to the docks, Godfrey had clapped Haytham on the shoulder and called him 'a good sort'. Haytham supposed that meant the people of the Homestead were finally over their idea that he was there to harm his son.
Connor and Haytham had made their way down to the docks over the course of a morning. Haytham strolled along as if he hadn't a care in the world and Connor forced himself to keep moving despite the distance. He was inordinately proud when they reached the docks and he had not required more than a single rest break. They sat in an oddly comfortable silence as ropes were wound around the coffin.
"Why did you kill him?" Connor asked. The ropes creaked as the coffin was raised onto the ship. Connor cut his gaze to Haytham without turning his head. His father's lips thinned, whitening at the corners. So it had not been the easy decision it appeared at the time. Strangely that made Connor feel better about the whole thing.
"Reginald Birch was not a good man," Haytham finally said. "I have known for some time that he had a hand in my father's death. For that, if nothing else, he deserved to die. I was simply too blinded by misplaced loyalty before to see it."
Connor levered himself up from the pile of wood he had been leaning against. They turned away from the ship and began to walk back towards the inn.
"Besides," Haytham continued in a softer voice than before, "He threatened you."
Connor's breath caught in his throat. He thought that was probably the closest Haytham would ever come to a declaration of affection. Connor smiled fondly at Haytham's back, "Me too." He muttered to himself. They fell into the most comfortable silence they had ever shared. There were still many things left unsaid, too many for true ease. But a wary peace had been struck, held together by trust built over the last three months. Morning training sessions and meals shared with the homesteaders did wonders for stained relationships it seemed.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a sharp call from the dock.
"Connor! Mr. Haytham!" Faulkner trotted up to them wiping his dripping forehead down with the rag he always kept on his person. Connor could see Haytham grimace in his peripheral vision, he felt the corner of his lips twitch into a slight smile.
"The boys and me're goin' pirate huntin' t'morrow," Faulkner declared. He glanced at Connor, "And we were thinkin' it might be a good idea if you came with us."
Connor jerked at the suggestion. His eyes flashed to Haytham's and back to Faulkner. "I, um-" Faulkner rested one hand on Connor's shoulder.
"Lad," he smiled fondly, "You need to get back out there. Birch and that bastard Lee may be dead but there's others out there. You are still needed in the world. You can't live out the rest of your days hiding away in the woods."
Connor stared out at the ocean for a long few moments before steeling his shoulders and nodding. "You are right, Mr. Faulkner. I have been hidden away for far too long."
This was a very, very bad idea. That was all Haytham could think as Connor nodded at Faulkner. The boy couldn't even jog, he could barely complete a single set of exercises without needing to rest for a few hours. How could he honestly expect to complete an entire voyage at sea without incident? He had opened his mouth to voice those very thoughts when he actually looked at his son. Connor stood before him looking different than Haytham had ever seen him. He and Faulkner were looking out over the ocean. The breeze ruffled the short hair that was beginning to grow back in on the sides of his head, the setting sun gave him a healthy glow and Haytham could almost see how this trip might be beneficial. So, instead of protesting, he stayed silent.
"Excellent," Faulkner laughed, "We'll expect you at dawn." He spun on his heel and started back down the path to the small cabin by the dock.
"Are you sure about this?" Haytham muttered as soon as Faulkner was out of hearing range.
Connor nodded without hesitation. "Yes. He is right. I have been a coward and it is time for that to end. Of course you may stay here if you desire. If not, I'm sure Birch did not sell your home in-"
"What are you talking about?" Haytham interrupted. Connor tuned to face him, his head slightly cocked in confusion.
"What you will do while I am gone? This voyage may last many months and as you are considered dead by most I thought you may not wish to be seen in the city."
Haytham snorted inelegantly, "I'm coming with you." He declared, "There is no telling what trouble you would get up to without me to talk some sense into you."
Connor grinned. Bonding time between father and son on the high seas, hunting pirates. Sounded like fun.
"Besides all that," Haytham continued, "You are terrible behind the wheel of a ship. It's time you had a decent teacher, else you might run into the first island you come across."
Connor groaned. Maybe not quite so much fun.
Do not read further if you are going to continue reading the sequel and do not want spoilers.
IMPORTANT Note about Sequel: This story has a bit of 'everybody lives' to it, I know some people hate that so I thought I would give you a bit of warning. As with Make Him Proud I am striving to keep it as historically accurate and plausible as possible and you will get a reasonable explanation for every character who is revealed to be alive though they are canonically dead.