jackxwill - pirates of the caribbean slash

Title: Alchemy; or, Solamente Alegría
Author: Tessabeth (tess@virtualmail.com)
Pairing: J/W
Rating: NC17
Summary: Jack and Will visit the jungle searching for gold.
Note: Many many thanks to Pir8fancier, whose frightening clarity, tactful honesty and enlivening encouragement all conspired to make this a lot better than it was when she first got it.
Written for: The Mad Fangirl. Requests: 1. Tandem fighting, in the style of the end of the movie; 2. Monkeys! At least 100 monkeys of any type or types; feel free to go higher. Restrictions: 1. Major Character Death (feel free to kill off an Ensign Expendable); 2. Non-con.


Inigo Alejandro de Halcones has been waiting to die for two days now, but is finding it a dreadfully slow process – despite the fact that, for growing portions of each subsequent day and night, he is insensible to all around him. When he shudders feverishly to consciousness, he sees only the inside of his slowly collapsing shelter, with its growing collection of resident insects, and the slowly spreading mould, which overtakes everything in this godforsaken place. He hears only the repetitious, painfully loud cries of jungle birds, and the incessant crash of the breakers on the beach. He smells only the vile stench of his own, living flesh putrefying. The pain in his leg, once so extreme, is dulling as his nerves die. He is burning hot still, tongue swollen with thirst, heart thumping dully, insistently pumping his poisoned blood round and round his shaking, dying body.

He can make little sound, but Inigo’s lips form the words anyway. Madre de Dios, ayúde me, salva me.

When his eyes open again, she appears to have listened to him, which, despite his lifelong devotion, takes Inigo rather by surprise. He raises a shaky hand to his chest, crossing himself feebly. He can hear voices. They’re back! They’re back!

"¡Aqui!" he groans, putting all he has into that hoarse call. "¡Estoy aqui!"

A shadow appears on the wall of the tent, but the voice he hears does not speak his lovely mother-tongue, instead saying something in guttural inglés. More footsteps, and then a grizzled face, which wrinkles up its nose, and says something, the only word of which Inigo recognises is Jesus. But the expression needs no translation. Inigo knows that he is a disgusting, dying wretch. Perhaps they will be kindly, and put him quickly to the sword.

But they do not. A second man enters, a very odd man, whose long tangled hair, outlandish clothes, and dark-rimmed eyes mark him clearly as a pirate. He ignores the smell, bends, enters the tent, and crouches down by Inigo, taking out a waterbottle and bringing it to the Spaniard’s ravaged lips. Inigo wants to gulp greedily, but the pirate will not let him, saying, no, no, and then burbling on in English. Inigo can only stare. The man wets the corner of his coat, and lays it on Inigo’s brow. So cool. Inigo feels tears forming at the corner of his eyes at this unexpected kindness from an enemy stranger.

"¿Cómo… cómo se lláma usted?" says the man, in halting Spanish.

Inigo doesn’t want to waste words on such causerie. He says nothing.

"¿Está usted solamente?" Inigo nods.

"Oro… tiene usted oro?" A greedy light has come into his saviour’s eyes. Inigo doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Since he’s already crying, it’s the easier option. He shakes his head, minutely. The man’s lips twist with faint disappointment. "What in the devil’s name are you doing out here, then," he mutters, more to himself than to Inigo.

The Doctor, thinks Inigo. He has not seen him for weeks, but the Doctor may still live. This man could save him. "El Doctor," he mutters, his fat tongue making the words almost incomprehensible, even to himself. The man stares at him, frowns, says, "¿Que?"

"El Doctor," grinds out Inigo. "…tomó su tesoro. En la selva. A su cueva…los otros… lo buscan…"

"¿Dondé?" asks the pirate, his interest trebled at the word tesoro. Inigo shakes his head, mutters, "El río." He doesn’t really know, but his best guess is that the Doctor’s haunt was not far from the only fresh water source they’d found. He was a good man, and doesn’t deserve to die in this place. A pirate will hunt endlessly for treasure, he knows this much. And this man does not seem murderous. Perhaps he could save Inigo’s friend.

"Espera," says the man, and backs out of the tent. Inigo closes his eyes, can hear him talking with his companions. The words mean little to him.

"… don’t look like they’ve got what we hoped they might, but seems one of ‘em took off into the jungle with something. And he’s a learned man. Might be worth a look, eh?"

"What d’you mean, something?" says the grizzled voice.

"Treasure, he said."

"We haven’t time for this, Jack, I need to get home," says a new voice, a young, deep, impatient voice.

"Hold your horses, we have to get this poor bastard aboard first, which means Gibbsy’ll have to get back to the Pearl and bring her round to this bay – Ana, you and Pike can stay here tonight with Señor Whosit and try to keep him alive. If you can manage that, we’ll get him aboard tomorrow morning and get that leg off, and by then, Mr Turner, you and I’ll be back from our treasure hunt, so no time lost, don’t panic."

There’s grumbling, and some arguing, but Inigo listens no more, sinking gratefully back into forgiving blackness.

***

Jack Sparrow stamps and slashes and curses his way through the dense, stinking, and unforgiving jungle. What excuse there had been for a path disappeared long since, and now he’s hacking his way through virgin forest, vines grabbing at his face, wet and fecund earth sucking at his feet, ears assaulted by a constant whining buzz of insects that he’d rather not see.

Jack is not in his element on any kind of land. But this… this land is his worst nightmare. It’s hard not to hyperventilate down here in the dim wet, far beneath the forest canopy; he feels stifled, suffocated, buried by the clinging, living earth. He longs for the clean, simple harshness of the ocean.

Tesoro, he tells himself. Tesoro, tesoro.

"What exactly are we looking for, Jack?" comes a disgruntled demand from behind him.

"A cave," says Jack. "By a river. Jesus fucking - !" (This last as a snaking tree root catches him unawares, pitching him forwards. He clambers up, swearing.)

"That’s not what I meant," continues the boy, ignoring the walking chaos in front of him. "I meant, why are we bothering with this, what do we think we’re going to find there?"

"I don’t know," says Jack, "which is why it’s interesting me enough to make me trek through this godforsaken horror of overgrown weeds."

"Do you think it’ll be gold?"

"Not really. If this was a load of gold from Tegucigalpa, why would they have camped here long enough to be wandering around looking for caves, why would there be a Doctor with them, and what would he be doing dragging gold up to a cave? And where’s their ship, eh?"

Behind him, Will sighs. If there’s one thing he’s learnt in the past weeks, it’s that Jack is incapable of walking past something that intrigues him. He knows they’ll be looking for this damned cave until they find it, no matter how long that takes. Unless something more interesting occurs.

"But what use will it be to you?" he says, trying gamely to plant seeds of futility in Jack’s insane optimism.

"Use? Use? I don’t know, William," snaps Jack, uncharacteristically, "but I must say that compared to the rest of this voyage it’s got to be worth something to me."

Will’s silent. He knows that Jack has done him some very large favours over the past weeks, but Jack has never before shown that he in any way resents that. In fact he’s been utterly encouraging, and giving, and helpful in every way. When Will first wrote to him with his plan, he was unsure of the likely response, but a scant week later, there was a knock on his window late at night, and there was Jack, ready to go.

"It’s been worth a lot to me," says Will, "and you know I thank you for it, Jack." For back on the Pearl is more money than Will has ever possessed in his life, the proceeds of the sale of many of Will’s finest pieces of work… sold to men that only Jack could have introduced him to, and protected him from. Sold to the buccaneers and pirates that sail out of Roatán Island; men who have sailed with Coxen, Sharp, even Morgan. Men who would have slit his throat and taken his wares without a second thought, if he hadn’t had the protection of Jack and his company behind him.

And now, Will can stand beside Elizabeth in the church, and know that he can give her all that she deserves. He could not bear to be her penniless charity case. Hasn’t yet made an honest woman of her for that reason, though he has never told her that, and her impatience grows almost daily.

So he owes everything to Jack… but at the same time, he can’t wait to get home, and get away from him.

Away from clever, funny, rapid Jack, with his quicksilver grin and his wicked eyes that look down so deep into you. Lively Jack, with his plans and ideas and imagination, his expected excesses, and his unexpected subtleties. Strange and lovely Jack, who walks as though the sea herself runs through his veins, and once reached out and touched Will’s arm with warm and trembling fingers, thinking him asleep. Unique and astonishing Jack, who sometimes makes Will think things that he doesn’t expect to think, and doesn’t want to think, for they can’t lead to anything good…

Mother of God, it’s hot in this place. Will pushes sweat-tipped strands of hair from his face, wiping away his unsettling thoughts, and plucks at his drenched shirt. "Wait, Jack," he says, and stops, and pulls it off, unable to bear its clammy touch for another moment.

Jack turns, and an odd tumult of expression crosses his face, till he says, roughly, "Don’t do that, put it back on."

Will flushes, annoyed, thinking of all the times on board when shirtless Jack has swayed and lolled around his darling ship, inviting the sun to admire him till his body looks like living mahogany. "Why?" he demands.

"You’re in the jungle, darling," says Jack, gesticulating above their heads. "There are things up there that’ll fall on you as soon as see you. And don’t even get me started on the bot flies."

"What?"

"Bot flies. Put it back on, I said, and that’s an order, Mr Turner! Disgusting things. Lay their eggs on other creatures, which bite you, and the eggs go under your skin, and turn into horrid wriggling maggoty things, and you get this big, pustulous, swelling – "

"Alright, alright, enough!" cries Will, struggling back into his damp clothing. Jack watches till he’s clothed again, then turns and continues his trudge. Hoping that the boy did not manage to interpret what he’s sure flickered across his face before he took it in hand.

Damnation! He has to get the boy home, soon, before he does something they will both regret. Mustn’t call him a boy anymore, either. The body under that shirt is a man’s body, and the heart that beats inside it is wiser now, a man’s heart. Jack wishes that he hadn’t put himself in this position, but who else was he to take into the jungle with him? Gibbs was the only one he’d trust with the Pearl, Ana the only one fit to take care of the Spaniard, and he wouldn’t want to spend two hours, let alone two days, alone with goddamn Pike.

Justify it all you like, Jack, says a small voice inside him. You know you wanted him with you. You know what you want.

"No I don’t!" shouts Jack suddenly, to Will’s confusion.

"Don’t what, Jack?" he asks. But the pirate stamps ahead as though he hasn’t made a sound.

Silence settles between the two, and they walk on, slashing and fighting their way through the undergrowth, until suddenly the dull hum of the forest’s inhabitants is broken by a terrible screaming roar.

Will cries out in alarm, and his sword is instantly drawn, as he stares around wildly for the source of that inhuman sound. But Jack swings round to him, delighted.

"Howlers!" he says. "Howler monkeys. Big things. Usually stay close to water. Good sign. Which way did you think it came from?"

"Left," says Will shakily, his heart still hammering, as he sheaths his sword.

"Excellent, my thoughts exactly," says Jack, and strikes out in that direction.

They follow the noises, which reverberate through the forest every few minutes. Smaller monkeys begin to appear, white-faced capuchins peering curiously at them from the trees, spider monkeys swinging from vines, calling taunts to the intruders. "Getting close," says Jack. And he’s right; soon they hear a watery burble, and the dimness of the canopy lightens as they come upon a small, fast river. As they come out of the trees, they see three large, dark howlers squatting on the sandy far bank, but the animals skitter away as soon as they see the men.

"Big, aren’t they?" whispers Will.

"Aye, but not dangerous."

Jack scrambles down the bank and across the shallow river, Will in his wake. He crouches down where the monkeys had been sitting. "Look," he says.

"Um… fruit?" hazards Will.

"Oranges," says Jack. "Which I really don’t suspect are what you’d call grown locally. Those boys have been pilfering from someone’s supplies. We’re close, mate."

"Well," says Will, looking about them, "which way? Upriver or down?"

"Down," says Jack decisively. With absolutely no good reason for doing so. But, with a one in two chance of being proved mysteriously right, he reasons it’s worth a crack.

Which, within a hundred yards, it is. They round a bend in the river, and come to another sandy inlet, which backs into a cave in a low cliff-face, in front of which are the blackened remains of a fire.

Jack brings a finger to his lips, and draws his sword, and Will does the same. They move quietly across the beach, and stand either side of the cave entrance.

"¡Hola, amigos!" calls Jack cheerfully. There’s no reply. Jack looks up at Will, grins and shrugs. "Come on then," he says, and makes his way inside.

Will follows Jack into the cave, very dark after the brightness of the riverbank. It smells odd… there’s the rotting dankness that pervades the entire jungle, but other smells also, burnt and sweet and strange.

He can barely make out Jack in front of him, and when the pirate stops, suddenly, Will crashes into him. For an instant, his face is buried in Jack’s wild hair, his chest against Jack’s hot back, before he pulls away, covering his confusion with annoyance. "What, Jack, why…?"

"Think I’ve found the Doctor," says Jack sadly, and moves out of the way, so that some light can filter through from the mouth of the cave. Reveals a thin, black haired body, curled foetal on the sandy floor, clutching its stomach, and clearly dead for some days, judging by the busy armies of ants wending their way to and from the corpse.

"What… what do you think he died from?" whispers Will. He can see no wounds.

"Vomited himself to death if those stains are anything to go by," says Jack, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "I’d say he ate something as he shouldn’t’ve. Let’s get him outside and underground, eh?"

***

By the time Will has finished filling in the grave, evening is drawing in, and Jack has lit a fire deep inside the cave, which has its own natural chimney, and a makeshift fireplace beneath it. It appears to have been inhabited for some time; there’s a bed, and a lantern, and rough shelves whose contents Jack is now systematically investigating. When Will ducks back into the cave, Jack is laboriously reading scratchy Spanish notes from a large notebook, filled with drawings, pressed leaves, and seeds.

"When you’ve quite finished reading," says Will, "shouldn’t we look for some food?"

"Found some," says Jack, not looking up. "Bag of those oranges, and some bananas too, tied up so the monkeys couldn’t get ‘em. Help yourself."

Will sighs. Food is never high on Jack’s agenda. He takes a banana half-heartedly. "Water?" he asks. Jack, still intent on the notebook, waves his hand towards the fireplace. "There’s a pot over there," he says. "Better boil it first. Probably tainted, and doubtless unreasonably foul."

Will grabs the pot and heads back to the river, filling it and then sitting outside, eating his meagre dinner and watching the sun turn the leafy canopy on the opposite bank to a broiling gold against the darkening sky.

In the cave, Jack’s too intrigued and enthralled to be hungry.

This "Doctor" was a naturalist, a scientist, a philosopher. His book is a collection of everything he’s learnt about this place. The plants, the animals, the way it works. On the middle shelf, there are boxes filled with samples; some pressed, some suspended in glass jars of oil, others dried and chopped and in small bags. Each one is labelled. Jack is working his way through the book, finding the sample each page refers to, learning. Jack likes to learn. You never know when you’re going to need an odd bit of knowledge. On the other hand, he’s glad the Doctor did it on his behalf, because apparently the last thing that good gentleman learnt was that a certain plant was highly poisonous.

Jack’s Spanish is serviceable, but only just. So a fair portion of the notes are incomprehensible to him. But soon he comes to a page whose simplest sentences certainly pique his imagination. He can make out the words, "encantador… maravilloso… tan bueno que es peligroso…ningún miedo, ningún dolor, solamente alegría." Delightful, marvellous. No fear, no pain, only joy. These are the good Doctor’s descriptions of the effects of a sample which appears to be dried, crushed up leaves, which he steeped and drank.

"Solamente alegría…" Jack mutters to himself. Don’t that sound fine.

Will looks around as Jack, bearing the lantern, comes out of the cave. The pirate dangles a bag at him, and grins widely.

"Good news, mate," says Jack. "I found some tea. Fancy a cup?"

***

It certainly doesn’t taste like any tea Will’s ever had before. But it’s not unpleasant; it smells faintly of vanilla, with a dry, musky aftertaste. Better than plain water, anyhow. Jack certainly seems to like it. He’s already making a second pot.

Will sits back on the Doctor’s makeshift bed, leaning against the wall of the cave. After the long day’s walk, and its unpleasant discoveries, he’s tired to the bones; the hot liquid is a welcome balm which slides down warmly, sending coppery tendrils of heat through his limbs. Calming all his irritations, relaxing his tense shoulders. Will’s mind starts to wander through the past weeks, past months, and he finds he’s seeing them in a new light tonight.

Tonight, these weeks on board the Pearl, which until now have seemed like an interminable delay separating him from his goal, don’t seem so bad. The days are never dull, with so much to learn, and do, and so many new people to talk and laugh with. It’s been quite an adventure really, and such a delicious change from the life he knows. In fact, really, ever since Jack appeared in his life, everything has been different. How dull life would be without Jack!

He looks over at the pirate, crouched by the fire, stirring the tea, and finds a smile flowing over his face. I’m so glad you’re my friend, Jack.

Jack looks up, grins. "Why, and I’m glad you’re mine, William."

Will blushes and bites his lip. Did he say that out loud? How odd. And yet, it’s true, so… why not say it?

"Is that tea ready yet?" enquires Will, and Jack nods, holds out a hand for his mug, and fills it to the brim before returning it.

"This one’s strong, Jack," he says, taking a scalding sip. Feeling simply and utterly happy, and for once in his life, without a single worry.

"Mmm," says Jack, "I didn’t think the last one was up to much."

"I liked it," says Will. "You know, I really think it’s great here."

"Do you?" asks Jack with a smirk, scrambling up beside Will on the rickety bed, which creaks alarmingly.

"Yes," says Will, suspecting that he has a silly grin on his face, but not really caring. "It’s dry, and warm, and there aren’t any bot flies, and I certainly didn’t expect to get a bed tonight."

"Who says you get the bed? Who’s the captain round here, eh?"

"Come on, you wouldn’t make me sleep on the ground, would you, Jack?" says Will, elbowing Jack in the ribs, and somehow finding this terribly amusing.

Jack takes a deep draught of his tea. "No," he says, "I don’t believe I would throw you out of my bed, William."

"You’d let me share, wouldn’t you?" persists the youth, rather hazily. "’Cause I don’t think that would be so bad."

"Darling," drawls Jack, "I think it would be fabulous." He can definitely feel this stuff now, on his second cup. There’s a sunny warmth running through his veins, and a smile that won’t be resisted on his face, and everything seems so simple, and honest, and true. He feels none of the torpor that comes with opium, or the hallucinatory oddity of absinthe, or the attendant stupidity of hashish. He’s no idea what this is. But he certainly likes it so far.

"Yes!" cries Will, and he throws an arm round Jack’s shoulders. "Fabulous. You’re fabulous, Jack, everything you do is fabulous, everything you touch is fabulous."

"Why, that’s terribly kind of you, sweetheart," says Jack, looking coyly up from under lashes that Will suddenly realises are the most beautiful lashes he’s ever seen. And oh, the eyes that they so subtly reveal, aren’t they the most beautiful eyes? He’s on the verge of telling Jack this, but Jack’s already talking.

"You may be right," says Jack, and he reaches a reciprocal arm around Will’s shoulders. "’Cause I’m touching you, ain’t I, and I know you’re fabulous. Although frankly you already were before I laid a hand on you."

Jack fears this may be too much, but Will just gives him a sunny smile. God, this is good stuff, whatever it is.

"You didn’t use to think so, you used to think I was a stick," says Will, with no trace of rancour.

"Oh, God, you didn’t hear that, did you?" says Jack. "I didn’t know you then. And you’ve changed anyway, and now, I swear on my mama’s grave, you’re fabulous inside as well as outside." The very small part of Jack’s brain that is still objective is quite horrified that he’s saying these things, but the rest of his mind is happily oblivious, and wants only to continue with this lovely truth-telling.

"Am I?" says Will, and Jack just nods, staring helplessly into those wide brown eyes. "I’m glad you think that," says Will, "Because, do you know, ever since I came aboard this time, that’s what I keep thinking about you, too? That you’re just so amazing, and interesting, and sometimes, Jack, I know this is going to sound really odd, but do you know what I think of sometimes?"

Jack looks at him, head cocked into a question. Will’s heart is hammering. I’m going to tell him, I’m going to tell him, it’ll be alright, really it will!

"Sometimes…" he says, slowly. And stops. Oh, Lord, he’s feeling terribly, awfully warm, and… excited.

"Finish your tea, love, then tell me," says Jack, draining his mug.

Will watches the movement of Jack’s swallowing throat, mesmerised by the tilted line of his neck, the sweet slide of liquid in his friend’s mouth suddenly strangely vivid in his imagination. He brings his own cup to his lips, and oh, it’s so warm and metallic, and the slight curve of the rim seems to fit his bottom lip so perfectly that for a moment, lost in sensation, he forgets to tilt it. He’s very… awake, very aware, very happy. Everything just feels terribly… good.

"So, sometimes, you think of…?" prompts Jack, who, by now, really wants to know.

Will takes a deep breath, and turns to look at his friend. Whose face, as it turns out, is very close to his own. Whose arm is still around his shoulders. Whose leg is touching his. Whose breeches… aha!… are having exactly the same trouble as Will’s own. How… fabulous!

"Sometimes," says Will happily, "I think of what it would be like to kiss you. D’you ever think of that? Of me? Ever? Even though it’s really odd?"

Jack stares into that beautiful face, and the warmth and happiness are fizzing in his blood as he puts up a hand and touches that sweet golden skin. Will’s face is entirely open, and joyful, and even though Jack knows it’s the drug, he doesn’t care. Doesn’t believe Will could say these things if they weren’t in him. Decides to believe that this tea is just… allowing them to let out secret thoughts, and make them real.

"All the fucking time, love," he says, low. "Every day since I first laid eyes on you."

Will bites his lip, still smiling. "So… can I, Jack?"

Jack doesn’t answer. He’s throwing everything to the wind, and leaning closer, closer, so that he’s breathing in Will’s breath, and can feel the warmth of Will’s skin on his own, and oh, god, he wants those lips to touch him… and when they do, there’s a whole new surge of delicious heat through him, and he takes a sudden breath with the beauty of it. "Mmm -!" says Will, and Jack knows he feels exactly the same. Hot blood rushes through him, and he pushes a hand up into those warm, damp, silky curls and pulls Will to him, turning the kiss from gentle question to insistent answer, opening Will’s lips with his own and loving the lurch that his heart gives as his questing tongue is accepted into the boy’s mouth. Which tastes of the same liquid as his own, but underneath is infinitely more delicious, more Will, more of everything that Jack knew it would be.

And Will kisses him back. Will is floating in a warm haze of delight, as he releases all the thoughts and desires that he’s buried for the past months, and now they’re out here in the firelight, they’re not so terrifying after all. They’re wonderful. Jack’s tongue is wonderful, Jack’s hand is wonderful, and how wonderful would the rest of Jack be?

Will tugs at Jack’s shirt with his free hand, pulling it from the confines of breeches and sash. Jack smiles into the heat of the kiss, wriggling to help him, then arching and swaying into the delightful warmth of that cautious hand, sliding up his belly, round his flanks, up his back.

"What’s that?" says Will, without moving away from the kiss, so that Jack feels the reverberation of the words in his own mouth.

"Scars," says Jack, doing the same. "You’ve seen ‘em before."

"Haven’t touched them before," says Will.

"Want to touch them now?"

Will pulls back, so that he can see Jack’s beautiful face, and he’s sure that the flushed cheeks and reddened lips that greet him are a mirror of his own. "I want to touch everything," he says, honestly.

"Oh good," says Jack, almost speechless for once, and he stands, and under Will’s delighted gaze, slowly peels off each and every item of clothing. Will just grins at each new revelation. The slender torso, all muscle and sinew, that he’s seen before, but never touched. The muscled arms that flex so beautifully as Jack pulls off his beloved boots, revealing narrow ankles. And oh, yes, the lovely muscular thighs and the narrow hips and the one thing that Will certainly hasn’t seen before, being Jack’s dark and curving cock.

"Wow," says Will, and laughs and laughs, and Jack laughs with him, because it’s such a very strange thing to be here doing, but fuck it, it feels wonderful, so wonderful that when Jack pulls Will up and says, "Your turn!" Will has no hesitation, no compunction, no fear about doing the same.

When he’s naked, Jack sighs, and smiles, and prowls slowly round him, and finally says, "See? Fabulous," before stopping behind Will. He presses himself, slowly and inexorably, against the boy’s beautiful unmarked back, one hand pushing the hair away from the sweetly vulnerable nape of his neck so that he can lick and kiss and suckle the salty skin there, the other hand sliding over Will’s chest to pluck and tickle before tracing its way down, down…

Will sighs with gratification, and arches backwards, giving Jack access to his neck and ear, where the pirate’s tongue leaves sparking, delicious trails of pleasure wherever it goes. Pushes his hips shamelessly back, so that Jack’s cock sits warm and perfect in the cleft of his behind. He has never felt anything this right, this gorgeous, this luscious… it fills up his body and his heart and his mind with sweet delight, fills him so there’s no room at all for any conscious thought or concern. He is only the pleasure and the warmth and the flesh.

With one hand, Will reaches round behind him, stroking Jack’s flank, reaching down to the firm curve of arse, feeling the flex and clench of muscle under satiny skin. With his other, he intercepts Jack’s creeping hand as it fingers its way round his navel, and pushes it down, wraps his hand round Jack’s as Jack wraps his round Will’s heavy, pulsing cock. Lets out a long slow breathy sigh of joy.

It’s so simple. It’s so good. It’s so right.

"I know," says Jack, smiling into Will’s neck.

Speaking out loud again. "Jack," says Will, though the word’s half gasp, "I can’t believe we haven’t done this before. Oh, Christ!"

And Jack’s delighted to hear the profanity escape from Will’s lips as his fingers slide, firm and demanding, over that delicate silky flesh, and more delighted with the movement of Will’s hips, now pushing into his hand, now rolling backwards against Jack’s own, sealing Jack’s thrusting hardness between his slickly sweaty buttocks, so that, oh fuck, it’s so tempting to bend him over and give it to him there and then, but Jack wants to wait, wants to make Will wait, wants to make Will want it more than anything.

Right now, what Will wants more than anything is to push and move and come. And do it with Jack’s mouth on his.

He turns to face Jack, panting, and Jack has to let go of that fabulous cock, which is a loss, but then a most wonderful gain as it slides snugly alongside his own, pressing into his belly, and strong hands on his back crush him unresistingly against this gorgeous lithe body.

Will’s kiss is hungry and insistent and the sweet desperate sounds that come from him inflate Jack’s joy and desire to a conflagration. They grind against one another, all swaying hips, clutching hands, sliding lips, trembling thighs, demanding tongues. Exploring and pushing and seeking further and deeper and more, building to a shivering joy that pushes them out of their barely sensible selves, and into a violent cascading fall that sees Will biting hard into Jack’s shoulder to stop the sounds welling in him, and Jack’s fingers leaving scratching bruises on the boy’s perfect backside as he clutches him.

Slow release, and panting breaths. Will leans heavily against Jack, feeling he may fall, his head spinny and faint with the delight of it. Jack braces himself against the weight, shuddering slightly as slow drops of cooling liquid slide down his belly.

Damn fine tea, that. Damn fine.

"Well," says Jack, with a smile, lifting Will’s face for another, gentler kiss, "that was what you might call unexpected."

"Mm," says Will, coming down slowly, feeling his way back into his body. He shakes his head to clear it. "But… it’s not as if I hadn’t thought it before, Jack, hadn’t you?"

"Oh, I thought it," Jack assures him, stopping himself from adding, but couldn’t say anything because of Elizabeth, remember her? Instead, he drops to his knees, and cleans the lovely flat stomach before him with his tongue, revelling in the cool viscous taste of the two of them, mingled in his mouth. Will, appalled and enthralled, lets him, watches him. Likes the feel of Jack’s tongue, and the look on Jack’s face so much that he does the same to him in return. So strange. So good.

As he finishes, he looks up at Jack, whose hands are twined in Will’s hair, and whose eyes hold an expression Will’s never seen on him before. A simple warmth. It’s beautiful.

"You can definitely share the bed," says Jack.

***

Jack lies on his side, Will curved against his back in the hard narrow bed. He is pretending to be asleep, but it is taking all his resolution to do it, as Will plants tiny, whispering kisses on his shoulder, and moves minutely against him, not trying to wake him, but not able to stop himself. Jack is pretending to be asleep, not because he doesn’t desire Will with all his heart right now, but because he has a desperate aching fear that all of this will evaporate come daylight. And his only defence against that is Will’s unquenched want.

The effects of the mysterious plant are quiescent in his blood now, and he presumes in Will’s also. And yet, soft warm lips still tickle his skin, their tender implications skittering through his nerves. It fills him with a warmth almost greater than before, a wakefulness that threatens to burst him as he quells it into stillness and slow deep breaths.

A sharp crack from above their heads. Jack lies still. Will’s mouth leaves his shoulder, and Jack can feel the smith listening.

A noise, like a footfall.

A sibilant sound, a whisper.

Will’s hand comes round to cover Jack’s mouth, trying to wake him silently. Jack lets him think he’s done so, feigning a jerk to wakefulness, and stands without a sound. Will climbs slowly from the bed, ears cocked, and with his heart hammering reaches quietly for his discarded clothing, glimpsed dimly in the light of the dying embers. They dress fast, not speaking.

Jack creeps up to the entrance to the cave, sword drawn. There are definitely voices. They’re coming from the right, up by the Doctor’s shallow grave. And they don’t sound happy. Or English.

The beach is flooded with moonlight, which glints in Jack’s eyes as he gestures back at Will – come here, come on. They can’t afford to be trapped in the cave. Will walks slowly and lightly up to the other side of the cave mouth, and presses himself back into the shadows there. The voices are getting louder.

"El no se enterró él mismo."

"Puedo oler humo, le digo."

"They know we’re here," mouths Jack, and Will nods. This is not good. It sounds from the footfalls and murmuring as though there are at least half a dozen men above them.

Jack leans slowly and carefully outside, craning his neck upwards. Takes a step – Will does the same – and at the same instant, they see a dark, shadowed face leaning over the edge of the low cliff, not ten feet above them. The man’s eyes bulge, and he shouts, "¡Aqui!", and the forest erupts with running feet.

Jack and Will share a glance of an instant, and then run as one for the river. But they’re no more than halfway down the beach when a flurry of dark shapes traps them from either side, the Spaniards having come down on both sides of the bank. Their swords are drawn, and they shout incomprehensible, but comprehensibly angry, phrases. The nearest are mere seconds away from engagement, as Jack hisses, "Will, we want to go upstream, hear? My way. So we’re going to work them all round to your end, and then we’re going to run like fuck, alright, and – "

But Will doesn’t hear the end of this rather ungentlemanly plan, because with a roar and a flash of steel in moonlight the first soldier is upon him. He swings, wildly, and their weapons clash with a deafening ring that sends flights of shrieking birds up into the night sky. He can hear and feel Jack behind him doing the same, and although it’s hard not to turn and see what’s happening behind him, he stops himself, thinks, Jack’s got my back, and I’ve got his, and all I need to do is fight what’s in front of me.

And he does, with passion and energy and all the considerable skill at his command, and there’s one Spaniard down already, clutching his belly and shrieking, and here come another two, and Will uses a precious second to bend and grab the injured man’s rapier, so that he can defend his left, albeit clumsily, while he attacks with his right.

He dodges a wild thrust, parrying it away from Jack’s vulnerable back, which he can feel is moving to his right as Jack manoeuvres his opponents round, and round, and round, till the two of them are standing almost side by side; and suddenly Jack hisses, "Back!" and Will takes two great strides backwards as Jack does the same and pulls his pistol on the four remaining men. For a silent second the men stare at him, but before they can determine that he can’t possibly shoot them all, Jack and Will, as one, have turned and are belting up the beach, up the river, as fast as they humanly can.

"This way!" shouts Jack, and plunges into the jungle. Will drops the rapier, and grabs Jack’s arm, for as soon as they leave the river it’s terribly dark, and he cannot risk losing Jack. He can hear the Spaniards crashing after them, can hear every trampled bush and cracking twig and shout, and knows that he and Jack are similarly audible.

The Spaniards are gaining, that much is clear. "Faster, Jack, faster!" Will urges. "And quiet, quiet, they can hear us!"

"No!" shouts Jack, stumbling and running and crashing through the foetid undergrowth, swinging wildly with his sword. "No being bloody quiet! We’re going to wake up this entire fucking jungle!"

And indeed, it seems as if they are. Chittering tamarins flee before them, spider monkeys shriek their disapprobation from the treetops, and Will hears the horrible scream of a jaguar off to his left. Which, while adding to the chaos, hardly seems like anything that could be classified as an escape plan.

Until another noise bursts through, cutting through all the other jungle cacophony like a saw through butter. The terrible howl that Will had heard that morning, assaulting his ears, making his heart lurch. Howler monkeys.

"Yessss!" hisses Jack. "This way, Will, come on, this way," and he drags him towards the sound, and in a matter of moments, they have stampeded into an entire troop of howlers. "Frighten them!" shouts Jack, although it hardly seems necessary, for the instruction is barely audible over the maddened screams of the animals; and they both flail around with their swords, sending the howlers crashing and shrieking away from them, and suddenly Will understands what Jack’s doing, and pulls Jack off sideways, back towards the river, for now’s their chance, now there’s no way for the Spaniards to follow them, to hear them, to identify them under this blanketing chaos. And they run, as planned, like fuck.

***

For the rest of the night, they follow the river, not daring to branch out into the forest, but neither daring to stop, because the river is such an obvious route. Barely daring to speak.

Will pushes on ahead, not wanting to follow, not wanting to see Jack in front of him. His mind is whirling… he can’t, can’t understand what has happened here tonight. Not just the sudden and unexpected appearance of the Spaniards, but… before that.

Why did he do it? (And he knows it was largely he himself who started it.) What came over him? He flushes to think of how he stood there, in front of naked Jack, and stripped his clothes away, like some eager harlot. How he touched Jack, and pushed against him, and thrust his tongue into Jack’s mouth. How he licked Jack clean… felt the pulse of blood under the warm bronze skin of Jack’s belly…

Even as he thinks on it, even as he feels hot shame at his behaviour, he’s aroused by it again. Shamed and aroused, angry and overjoyed, cold and hot, and every other conflicting feeling there could be, all rushing through him, chasing their tails around his head. How could he have risked everything that he’s worked for, now, when he’s finally ready to go home and make Elizabeth his wife? And yet… how could he have lived and laughed and fought alongside this incredible source of joy, and never reached out and touched it before?

Will’s not a fool. He’s been aboard the Pearl long enough to see what rum, or opium, or hashish do to men. He knows that the answer to his question lies in that "tea"; and that, while it was none of those, it was clearly a potion of some sort. A disturbingly pleasant one. One that gave him the freedom to do whatever it lay in his heart to do.

And he knows one other thing; that, with Jack asleep in his arms, he was himself once more, with no chemical angel rushing through his blood. Yet his kisses did not cease, and the beating warmth in his tired heart would not let him sleep.

Will walks faster, slipping on mossy river stones, cursing quietly to himself.

Behind him, Jack listens to the uncharacteristic profanities; thinking, worrying. Will has said nothing, done nothing since they lost the Spaniards but walked, faster and faster down the river.

You have to leave him to it, thinks Jack. Let him think. But damnation, that’s a dangerous option. In the light of day, sensible William will almost certainly return. Jack, unfortunately, was particularly taken with insensible William. Who appeared to reciprocate.

Jack’s a little hazy on the details, but he’s pretty damn sure that he didn’t push it unnecessarily, that most of what occurred was as much Will’s idea as his own. In fact, on reflection, he was quite restrained. He could probably have convinced the boy to do almost anything. Such as…

Jack stops, and splashes his face with cold water. He hates walking around with a hard-on.

The eastern sky is lightening as they come to the mouth of the river, and they both recognise the northern peninsula as the one the Pearl had rounded two days ago; so, they are two bays, or about two hours’ walk, away from Ana and Pike, and now, hopefully, their ship.

***

Ana spots them first, as they clamber down the side of the final headland, and walks along the beach to meet them. The Pearl is at anchor in the bay, a cutter drawn up on the beach.

"¿Dondé está, su tesoro?" she calls, teasing, for she can see their empty hands.

"Aye, aye, fool’s errand," says Jack, throwing an arm around her shoulders as they walk back together. "Although not entirely without its lighter moments."

Will doesn’t dare look at him.

"We ran into some of Señor Whosit’s compadres, and don’t appear to have made a very good impression," Jack continues. "So let’s get him aboard quicksmart and get out of here, eh?"

Anamaria looks away. "No need, Jack. He died in the night. The poison from his leg was all through him."

Jack bows his head for a moment, then looks up resolutely. "Have you buried him?"

"Pike’s just finishing up now."

"Was it quick?"

"Not very. He became delirious, not long after you left…" She can’t hold back a small chuff of laughter. "Thought I was the Virgin, come to take him off. Kept telling me to go and get the Doctor too, that he was a good man."

"He didn’t make it either, sad to say," says Jack. "Any idea what they were doing here?"

"Waiting for their ship… it was taking gold they’d brought down from Comayagua, up to Puerto Cortés, while they stayed here with the Doctor. He was some moneyed Castilian, a gentleman-naturalist. It was due to collect them soon, so they were trying to winkle him out of the jungle."

"Ain’t never going to, now," says Jack sadly. "Although, it wasn’t all in vain…" And from some voluminous inner pocket of his frockcoat, he pulls a battered notebook.

A keepsake.

***

The Pearl’s course is set east-sou’-east, heading back to Will’s home and his girl.

He should be overjoyed. But as he sits at the lanternlit captain’s table, with Jack and his fo’c’sle council, and a decent meal in front of him for once, he certainly couldn’t describe his state of mind that way. Isn’t sure how to describe it, really.

As for Jack, he’s in his element; back at sea, back on board his darling, drinking rum and telling new stories to his mates. He couldn’t be happier.

Well, actually, he suspects he could, but he’s not going there.

"So what’s in el tesoro, Jack?" says Gibbs, who has christened the tattered notebook with this sarcastic moniker.

"Recipes!" cries Jack happily, boots up on the table, mug in hand. "He was quite a chef, el Doctor was. Eating his way through all the flora and fauna he could lay his hands on. Which was a great service to science, and would have made him famous, only he took it just that little bit too far, didn’t he. You should’ve seen the vomit that came out of that man before he expired."

Ana throws a hunk of bread at him, for such vileness, but Jack only laughs. You have to laugh at death, or it'll start laughing at you.

"Alright, alright," he says, "it’s not really all recipes. Lots of, you know, pictures of things, notes. Stories about bugs. Lord knows why anyone would want to know about the horrors of that place, but apparently there are more enquiring minds around than mine."

"I doubt that, Jack," mutters Will, but no-one hears him.

"We did try one recipe, though," says Jack slyly, looking sideways at Will to see his reaction. Baiting him, after a day of being baited by the boy’s silence. Hoping to crack that determined façade, and see something of what lies beneath.

"And?" says Gibbs. "Come on, Jack, I know an opening for a Jack Sparrow tale when I hear one."

Will’s frozen. Surely, surely Jack isn’t going to tell them this story.

"It was a sort of a tea…" says Jack, slowly, swinging his feet down and leaning across the table, fingers weaving delicate descriptions in the air as his face takes on a mysterious cast. "A fine, dark leaf, that we steeped over a fire, deep in that terrible jungle, as the night creatures howled all round us."

Will feels himself blanch. Oh, God, Jack, please don’t, please.

"A strange steam rose from it," says the hypnotic voice, relentless. "It stung our eyes, even though it had a perfume as honey-sweet as burning petals, and as it rose into the night, the bats flapped and swirled through it, maddened by it…"

Don’t tell them what we said. What we did. Please.

"…but since we had nought else, and it smelled so fine, we couldn’t help but try it. We poured it into two battered tin mugs we found in the cave, and its colour was rich, a ruby brown like no concoction I’ve ever seen before, and it smelt of vanilla and rose and every good sweet thing. And…"

Don’t Jack, don’t share it.

"And when we drank it…" In the light of the sputtering candles, Jack’s face is wicked and otherworldly, and his audience spellbound by his dark voice and glittering eyes.

Dammit, Jack, it’s ours, yours and mine, and I don’t want it to be anyone else’s, I don’t want YOU to be anyone else’s! This thought strikes Will, suddenly, surprisingly, and it frightens him with its intensity. Astonishes him with its truth.

"When we drank it… it tasted like shit, so we poured it on an anthill and went to sleep."

Will’s heart is like a rising bird, and he laughs as loud as anyone, and nods as if in recollection, and raises his mug with Jack. Who knows a secret when he sees one.

***

Jack lies in his lonely cot, with only a very small bottle of rum for company. Tired. And not a little maudlin. Will’s barely spoken to him all day. He pictures the dismally illuminating look of shame and horror that Will shot his way, thinking that Jack was going to tell the whole tale.

As if he’d do such a thing! Jack’s not a man to kiss and tell. Especially when the kisses were like that. Burning sweet, and laughing and desperate, and hungry beyond reason, and…

Jack slaps himself, not particularly gently, and has just stood and divested himself of his shirt, ready to snuff the lantern, when there’s a knock on his door.

And there he stands, the owner of the kisses that Jack covets above all else. Shy and fidgeting and apparently not sure what he’s come here for at all. Jack looks at him evenly, trying not to reach out and grab him. Trying to let the boy do whatever it is he’s decided to do.

"Mr Turner!" he says, in a tone which he hopes is welcoming and yet not overly tinged with the desperate gladness he feels. "What can I do for you, my friend?"

"I… well, I… that is, Jack, can I…?" Will gestures into the cabin, and Jack stands back to let him enter, closing the door behind him. Blood starting to pulse despite himself. He settles, feigning nonchalance, into a chair.

Will stands, and then sits, and then stands again. Being alone with Jack is disorienting… delicious, and yet so wrong, and yet again, so... His fingers pluck senselessly at the fabric of his breeches. Why can’t it just be like it was last night, so easy?

But it isn’t like last night. It’s not an accident, a twist of fate, a serendipitous opening. It’s… a choice. A choice that Will’s been trying to make all day; and which is driven less by a need to understand what he wants (that has been sitting, urgently bright, in the forefront of his mind every time Jack has wandering into his view) than by a need to believe that this desire is reciprocated, in all its facets. Not just the desire to touch and kiss and lick and push… but the desire to stand together, and be together, beyond tonight, and tomorrow, and its tomorrow. This is what Will must determine. Because the implications of this choice are towering, terrifying, seismic. He cannot make such a choice, with all its repercussions and attendant cruelties, without being certain.

"Come on mate, spit it out," says Jack gently.

"Well, Jack…" says Will, slowly, thoughtfully; "You know… you know how you took the notebook?"

"Yes, I know how I took the notebook."

"Well… I was wondering if maybe… if maybe you took some of that other stuff, also." Will’s staring at the floor as he says this, but then flicks a look up at Jack. Brown eyes huge. Teeth on his lip.

Oh Christ, I want you, thinks Jack. But I really don’t want to have to drug you every time I touch you.

"Why?" he asks, softly.

Will just looks at him, for a long moment, a flush growing at the base of his neck. It’s a fair question. "I just want… I want to feel that way again."

Just to feel that way again? Jack’s more than a little disappointed that Will doesn’t say, I want to touch you again, or be with you again. Apparently, he just wants the rush. On the other hand, whispers Jack’s baser half, once he’s got the rush, you’re away, aren’t you?

Only problem being, that Jack didn’t in fact grab the meagre remainder of the leaves.

Oh, fuck it. No man in his right mind could resist an opportunity like this, be it neverso slim, and there’s plenty who would say that Jack was never in his right mind to begin with. "Be back in one second," says Jack, and scurries down to the galley, alternately rejoicing and hating himself.

He rifles the cupboards, hastily concocting a mix of tea leaves, cinnamon quills and vanilla pods, and douses the lot in a tankard of unwatered rum. Will drinks so little usually that even a decent swig of rum should cheer him up a bit.

Flush with guilt and lust, Jack returns to his cabin with his potion.

***

"It’s not the same as before," says Will, with a considering look, licking his lips. Trying to conceal the force of his heartbeat, which is threatening to burst from his chest. Unsure whether to be disappointed with his correct forecast of Jack’s behaviour, or impressed with himself at finally being able to predict the terminally unpredictable. Well, he now knows at least one thing that Jack wants.

"Course it’s not the same," agrees Jack, from his lounging sprawl across his cot. "Everything’s better in rum."

Finally, Will’s mouth twitches up into a smile. "You would say that," he says.

"I most certainly would," Jack concurs. "But ain’t you feeling just a little bit better with that down you, eh?"

Will, serious, considers. "Yes," he determines, "I am." Feeling a strange weighty warmth return to his limbs as he looks at his friend. His smile widens. "I am, Jack."

"Well, don’t just stand there like a stick, come here and get comfy," says Jack, patting the mattress beside him and trying not to look conniving.

Yes! Whether it’s the rum, or Will’s own mind’s fierce urge to shake off his shackles of propriety, he’s doing so with alacrity, and suddenly there’s a warm, smiley body beside Jack, leaning against the wall with him.

"Just like last night, only without the dead body and the insects," says Jack.

"Well, not just like last night," says Will, shyly. He flicks a glance at Jack, who’s staring fixedly into his tankard, willing his hands not to stray. He’s going to give the boy every opportunity, certainly, but he’s not going to come right out and jump him. Wouldn’t be right. (And, Jack concedes, when a man who’s just tried to convince another man that he’s given him some mysterious drug that might make the man doing the drinking want to have mad sex with the man doing the giving – when this man can still realise that some actions are simply beyond the pale – well, you must admit those actions must be well beyond the pale for such a man to have noticed it.)

"No…" says Jack slowly. "I s’pose it’s better than last night, since our bellies are full, and the chances of anyone attempting to murther us are greatly reduced."

"There is that," admits Will, and takes a sip, wincing. "But, on the other hand, Jack… weren’t there things last night that were… good?" He twists round, the better to see Jack, his heart thumping. All his courage returned with the rum. And when he sees Jack’s odd beauty, his sharp darkness interrupted with glint and shine, his heart twists, and he knows he can’t close his eyes to it. Has to try to make it his own, no matter what that means.

"Very good," says Jack, looking up, his black eyes serious and intent.

"Very, very good," murmurs Will. And stops Jack’s "Very, very, very - " with a hand on his jaw and a soft, damp, questioning kiss.

Oh, Christ Almighty, the boy tastes divine, rum and Will, the most perfect combination Jack could conceive of. His heart shivers in his rib-cage, jumps as Will’s tongue comes searching for his own, and in seconds the kiss is firing them both with a ravenous want that expresses itself through wide open mouths, demanding tongues, sharp teeth and wandering hands. Will’s long fingers twine through Jack’s tangled hair, gripping and pulling the pirate closer to him, and Jack’s reaching up under Will’s shirt, desperate to have that sweet skin against his own once more.

Will obediently lifts his arms, backing away from the kiss, so that Jack can pull his shirt over his head, and then launches himself back at the man, pushing him down on the bed, covering his neck and shoulders and collarbones with wet kisses as one hand wanders over Jack’s thigh, and up to grip his hip.

Jack’s in some sort of heaven. Will’s mad for him, and there’s very little excuse for it this time, unless you count a half a mug of rum. Which Jack certainly doesn’t, unless it’s to count it as breakfast.

Will’s hand is drifting lightly over the outside of Jack’s breeches now, trailing a taunting line along his unutterably grateful cock. He stops his kisses, props himself up on one elbow, and says, with that mile-wide smile of his, "This is what you want, isn’t it, Jack? Because… because, God, I want it more than anything."

"Oh, Lord yes," is what Jack means to say. But what somehow emerges into the charged air between them is, "Will, I didn’t have any of that stuff. That’s just a mug of rum and sundry… odoriferous nonsense."

Will closes his eyes, taking a tiny moment of darkness to process the import of these words.

Jack’s told me the truth. He doesn’t want me to think this is a drug. He wants me to come to him… myself.

Jack wants me. Not merely my body. Me.

Jack, meanwhile, is thinking to himself that not only is he the lowest of the low to have done this in the first place, he is now compounding that sin by acting as though he is also the most incompetent con-man on the face of the earth. After years and years of elevating mendacity to an art form, he has to suddenly be gripped with an attack of honesty right now?

But with a twist of victorious amusement on his lips, Will says, "I know that, you insufferable rogue," and gives one of Jack’s nipples a painful tweak as he leans down to the other, sliding his lovely hot tongue around it, drawing it between his teeth as Jack gasps out, "You do?"

"Of course I do," mutters Will between licks. "But it was a wonderful excuse, and I felt a need for one. I’m afraid I’m just not terribly practised at throwing myself at men. Besides which… I’ll admit I was curious as to the extent of your capacity to lie to me."

"Oh," says Jack, caught out, but for once, glad about it. "Well, now that you know my shameful secret, being that I can only lie effectively to those I don’t much care for, do you still feel the need for an excuse to throw yourself at me?"

"No," says Will, lifting his lovely face to Jack’s, leaning over him so their faces are hidden in a tangled curtain of nut brown curls. "Now," he whispers, "I’m feeling other needs entirely."

"Is that so…" mutters Jack, sliding one hand over Will’s warm and silky back, and dipping into the waist of his breeches with the other, stroking the lovely cleft of his behind… acutely aware that Will’s quite probably rather inexperienced in these things, and wanting to give the boy the lead. "And what, pray tell, would you like to do to feed these urges of yours?"

"Well," says Will, with a shy – no, definitely coy! – glance, "I should admit to you that I don’t exactly know how best to cater to them, Jack. All I know is that I’ve most definitely got them." And he grinds his hips down on Jack’s answering hardness, drawing a delighted groan from the man beneath him.

"I’m fairly confident," says Jack, "that between the two of us we can fulfill every need you have, mate, not to mention, with any luck, the vast majority of mine."

"Excellent," mutters Will, leaning down for a kiss, the fingers of one hand hooking under Jack’s waistband, searching, stroking.

"But…" says Jack, who is still temporarily possessed by a perverse fairy of veracity, "But what about, you know…? Your girl?"

Will freezes. Faced, coldly, with the crux of his choice.

At this point, Jack, who initially felt suicidal as he heard these words issue from his mouth, realises what they mean. They mean that, firstly, he would not hurt Will for the world, even if that hurt would bring himself pleasure. And secondly, that he’s not willing to simply have his way with Will, and then let him go. Which is something he’s experienced extraordinarily seldom in his life. He puts a hand up to Will’s face, thumb stroking the bones beneath that golden skin, which is like honey made flesh.

"Because I can’t give you up, once you’re mine," he hears himself say. "I won’t share you."

Will closes his eyes as if in pain. There they are. The words that make his choice clear. Hard… cruel… but clear.

"D’you mean that, Jack?" he whispers.

Jack grinds his teeth, knowing that he’s probably giving away the most precious thing he’s ever likely to have. "I’m sorry, love, but I do."

Will’s silent for a moment, and then he says, "I made a terrible mistake, Jack."

"Oh, no, no, don’t think that, it wasn’t – " But Will stops Jack’s words with a finger across his lips.

"I did, Jack, I did. I thought I could do it. Could buy my way into being what Elizabeth needs. Could be a good husband to her, and ignore all the strange things I thought about you. But how could I, when I know now what’s really in every beat of my heart, and what my body wants with every breath? What manner of man would that make me?"

Will looks at Jack now, and his eyes tell the sweetest story Jack has ever read. Jack’s heart leaps in anticipation, waiting for his words.

"So sharing won’t be required," says Will, and adds, with a fierce look, "or permitted, for that matter."

"I’m exceptionally pleased to hear it," says Jack, who’s pleasantly surprised to find that even the latter demand doesn’t bother him one bit, "and since that’s the case…"

Jack hooks a leg over Will, and rolls him onto his back, kissing him with new urgency, his mouth no longer satisfied just with Will’s lips and tongue, but roaming all over that beautiful face, the satin cheekbones, the heartbreakingly delicate eyelids, the strong dark eyebrows, the soft moustache, drawn back, irresistibly, to the lovely curve of Will’s mouth, parting beneath his, inviting him in.

Will squirms beneath him, his desire no longer permitting stillness. "Touch me, Jack," he mutters, "Please, touch me."

Jack sits back, between the boy’s knees, and traces a teasing nail along the outline of his erection. Will bites his lip at the delicacy of the sensation, then hisses, "Touch my skin," and starts to push his breeches down over his hips. Jack, almost out of his head with lust, helps him, and throws them on the ground. Will is spread-eagled before him, the most glorious thing he’s ever seen, all long limbs and sharp lines and perfect skin. "All mine," says Jack, in wonder.

"Not for long, not if you don’t touch me soon," gasps Will, whose hands are clutching at his own thighs, desperate for sensation.

"Demanding little bugger, ain’t you," mutters Jack with a grin, and he slides his warm hands slowly down Will’s pale flanks, seeing Will flush at his choice of words. "Oh, yes, dear heart," says Jack, "It will come to that, believe me."

"I know," says Will, and then, to Jack’s unutterable surprise, "I would have let you, last night. I know you wanted to."

"I did," admits Jack. "Among other things."

"I’ll… ah! I’ll… Jack, I’ll let you now," says Will, his low voice catching as Jack’s nimble fingers skitter over his hips, threading their way down to where he wants them, with all his heart, to be.

Jack can’t quite believe his luck. But at the same time, he’s not willing to be "let" – not willing to be granted it as a gift.

"Not till you’re begging me," he says, the touch of ferocity in his voice making Will’s eyes widen.

"And what… mmm… makes you think that will happen?" pants Will.

Jack smiles his golden promise of a smile, and as he lowers his mouth to his prize, he mutters, "The simple fact, darling, that I’m Captain Jack Sparrow."

Will trembles under the weight of that beautiful truth, and under the unbearably delicious sensation of Jack’s hot tongue, licking its way over skin that has never been touched in such a manner before… over the tender white flesh where hip meets thigh, down to circle through soft brown curls, and up, gloriously up the quivering length of his shaft. The pleasure and heat that course through him are better than any drug, and he arches, muttering, "Yes, you are, you’re Captain Jack Sparrow, you’re my Jack, you’re mine, aren’t you, mine-" until he can’t speak anymore, all sense having left him under the lascivious slide of Jack’s mouth. His body is beating with a rapid, enervated pulse, and he twitches and quivers, as Jack’s hands push beneath him, cupping his backside, digging deep into tense flesh as Jack lifts Will to his mouth, opening his throat, taking that lovely cock in deep, deep, as Will whimpers his pleasure.

Will hears these small animal noises coming from himself, and knows deep inside that he has found a place where he can lose himself, his cares, his fears, and every bad thing. A place where he will find the strength to do all the hard things, even the cruel things, that this choice will demand of him. A place where there is only his joy, his and Jack’s; and he needs no liquor, no drug to find it. All he needs is Jack. All he wants is Jack. And he has to show Jack that.

"Alright," he says, in a strangled squeak. Jack looks up in query, his tongue still describing circles round the end of Will’s cock.

"I’ll beg," says Will, shamelessly. "Please, Jack. Please do it. For me. Please, give it to me."

Jack knew it would happen, but by God, he didn’t know it would happen that easy.

He shucks off his trousers, gives himself the indescribable pleasure of Will’s skin on his, Will’s body breathing hard beneath him, Will’s lips on his own, Will’s hair in his hands. "Anything," he whispers, and means it with all his heart. "I’ll give you anything."

***

Up on deck, a hot and changeable wind fills and snaps the dark sails. At the helm, Mr Gibbs fears a storm.

As the watch changes, there’s a strange sound on the air. An animal cry, a feral ululation.

"God’s teeth," mutters Pike, still unsteady from his night on land. "I can still hear those damned monkeys."

If Mr Gibbs smiles, it’s too dark for any to see.


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