Title: A Rich Man
Author: Sparrowhawk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: The Isla de Muerta holds wealth untold, but Jack may be overlooking treasure of a different sort.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.
A/N: Written for Rachael Sabotini for the J/W ficathon2. Request listed at end.
Through the spyglass the Isla de Muerte appeared as a sooty smudge on the horizon, distant enough that Jack could not yet see the thicket of broken masts jutting from the ships graveyard off the windward shore or the mouths of the caves that honeycombed the granite cliffs. A thrill of anticipation rippled through him at the sight. Three times before hed watched the island come into view; three times hed left empty-handed. The fourth would be different. This time, hed leave with the Black Pearls holds filled to overflowing with treasure beyond most mens wildest dreams.
He was going to be a rich man. Theyd all be rich, and Jack fully expected his misfit crew to jump ship at the first port once they had their share. He didnt begrudge them that; most of the poor sods looked as if they were as long overdue for a change in their luck as Jack himself -- but then, Jacks luck had recently taken a dramatic turn for the better. Less than a week had passed since he had escaped the gallows and reclaimed the Pearl, less than a week since Will Turner had unexpectedly leapt off the forts parapets after him. Less than a week since hed gotten his life back and he didnt intend to waste another moment.
Jack closed the spyglass with a snap and turned to find his youngest crew member leaning against the rail nearby. Will was too green by half, but his sword arm made up for any number of youthful shortcomings and there was no one Jack would rather have at his back in a fight. Although the lad wasnt a pirate yet, in the past week hed begun to see the virtue of keeping his mouth shut and his eyes open, and Jack considered that to be a step in the proper direction.
Everything all right? Will asked, his face carefully neutral but a note of caution in his voice. He had maintained from the start that returning here was a bad idea, and considering the events of their last visit Jack could hardly blame him for feeling that way -- not that Wills opinion or anyone elses could have kept Jack from making a beeline for the island and its treasure as soon as he was able.
Pears to be, Jack replied. Well be there fore nightfall.
The Dauntless -- "
Is nowhere in sight. Reckon we ave at least a twelve-hour lead on her, great wallowing cow that she is, and thats assuming the good commodore guesses this is where we were headed, remembers how to get ere, *and* set sail straightaway. I figure weve plenty o time to get what we came for.
Will nodded. And then?
Jack favored him with a grin that welled up from deep inside, a real one. Then the world is our oyster! We can go anywhere we want to go, do anything we want to do. Freedom, savvy?
Wills polite smile was fraught with uncertainty. What I meant was, once were done here, what are you going to do next?
Jack had thought of little else for the past week and felt almost giddy with the possibilities. With an expansive gesture he pronounced, First well make port to spend some of our hard-earned swag, and I for one intend to get spectacularly drunk on the finest rum I can get me hands on. Probly not Tortuga, though; s too close to Port Royal. Nassau, maybe, because once I get tired of being spectacularly smashed and deliciously debauched, the very next thing is to get the Pearl a proper refitting. Return her to her former glory, as it were.
He paused to gauge Wills reaction. Whatre your plans, then?
Dont have any, Will said, gazing off across the water toward the island.
Jack frowned. It was unlike Will to be so subdued, as if his usual fiery nature had been doused. Perhaps the coals just needed stirring a bit. Figured yed buy yerself a smithy somewhere and set up shop. Send for yer bonnie lass, get married and live happily ever after.
Shes not -- Will pushed himself off the rail and began to pace. Elizabeth made her choice and I have to accept that. I cant go back to Port Royal now and I couldnt ask her to give up everything to be with me even if she werent engaged to someone else.
Sounds rather final, Jack said with remarkable restraint. There was a time and a place for teasing, but this wasnt it. Not if he wanted to remain on Wills good side, which he was surprised to find he did.
Will shot him a fierce look, then his expression softened as he realized Jack was not mocking him. It is final.
When Jack was happy, which he was, he fully expected everyone around him to be happy too, and Will wasnt. He strode over to throw an arm around Wills shoulder, determined to lift the boys spirits. S all right, mate. Youve a place aboard the Pearl for as long as you want. We can sail for the Orient, Africa, Madagascar Where shall we go first?
A reluctant little smile quirked Wills lips. Someplace where everyone and everything wont remind me of Elizabeth.
Africa it is, then! Jack laughed. Exotic women, exotic ports But first, we ave work to do. He fluttered a hand in the general direction of the island rapidly growing closer. Were going to be rich men, William.
And money buys happiness, is that it? Will asked good-naturedly.
Well just ave to find out, wont we? Jack grinned.
* * *
This was an evil place long before cursed pirates came here, Jack thought as he surveyed the torch-lit interior of the cave. The dank air, heavy with the scent of stagnant water and decay, seemed to cling to his skin and he could all but feel eyes watching him from the shadows. He brushed off the mood impatiently. Hed paid a high price in pursuit of the treasure cached here and hed be damned if anyone or anything stopped him from enjoying the claiming of it at last.
The first order of business, though, was to search the place thoroughly to ensure none of Barbossas lot still lurked in the darkness. Only when the crew returned reporting no sign of pirates, undead or otherwise, did Jack allow himself to relax. As his mood lightened so did that of his men, and soon they were laughing and calling to each other as they rummaged through the obscenely high piles of plundered gold and silver, jewels and trinkets. Let them have their fun, Jack thought with a satisfied smile, and theyll work that much harder getting it all loaded into the holds.
Now he could have a bit of a look round himself. He couldnt resist snagging an elaborate necklace heavy with emeralds the size of grapes, couldnt overlook the ropes of perfect gleaming pearls, or the ornate bejeweled dagger with matching scabbard. He tucked the choicest items away in his pockets to admire later, making his way gradually to the caves highest point, the raised mound that held the gold of Cortez the one bit of swag that didnt tempt him in the least.
The chest remained an ominous hulking presence, but sealed now; he and Will had lifted its massive stone cover into place after breaking the curse. Already the events of those few momentous days felt unreal to him; already the events of the last ten years seemed to dim as he began to look to the future rather than the past. Standing here like a king, surrounded by riches untold, it was easy to be magnanimous. He couldnt even bring himself to hate Barbossa at that moment, despite his betrayal. Why bother? Jack had won. He had *won*, he was alive and happy -- and about to become a very wealthy man -- and Barbossa was dead and unmourned. That, Jack thought, was by far the best revenge.
Jack glanced to where Will stood at the bottom of the hill. Aye?
Will nodded toward the spot where Barbossas body lay sprawled nearby. Shouldnt we bury him?
Jack gave him a look of sheer disbelief; magnanimity didnt extend *that* far. Yed go to all that trouble for someone who wouldve cut your throat without a second thought? And ye say *Im* mad.
Will looked uncomfortable. He deserves that much Id do the same for anybody.
Well, dont, Jack replied, more sharply than hed intended. Will Turner and his damned idealism -- the boy needed to get over that, and soon, else itd get him in trouble one day. Let im be a warning for anybody else who gets an itch for Aztec gold. And speaking of gold the dubloons go in the burlap sacks, Will.
Oh, right. Will glanced around him; everyone else was busily loading treasure into bags and boxes. He went to fetch a sack, knelt down to scoop up a double handful of doubloons, then let the gold trickle unheeded through his fingers. Darting a glance at Jack, who was now occupied with studying the carvings decorating Cortezs chest, Will stood and crossed the short distance to Barbossas body. The Caribbean heat had begun to work on the corpse and a cloud of buzzing black flies rose, along with a stomach-turning stench.
Shielding his mouth and nose with a hand, Will reached for Barbossa's fallen hat on the ground and quickly covered the pirate's face with it in a gesture of respect for the dead. But before Will could straighten, a screeching bundle of fur launched itself at him from behind, a dozen tiny knives tearing into his face, neck, and shoulders -- Barbossas pet monkey, protecting its master to the end.
At Wills outraged cry, Jack swung round, instantly on alert for any number of potential catastrophes. His instinctive response had him slipping and scrambling down the hill toward Will before his mind had a chance to catch up with his body. Although utterly relieved to find no trace of reanimated undead pirates, Jack was swept by a blinding urge to yank that damned monkey off Will and rip it limb from limb.
By the time Jack skidded to a stop, dagger in hand, Will had managed a tenuous grip on the squirming creature, but it was still clinging to him like a burr, still trying furiously to bite and scratch. With no hope of getting a blade into the beast without risking harm to Will, Jack wrapped his fingers around its scrawny throat from behind and squeezed relentlessly until it went limp. Then he squeezed some more for good measure until he realized what he was doing and flung the lifeless body away in disgust.
His heart pounding like hed run a race, Jack grabbed Wills arm and turned the lad to face him.
Gods, boy, whatd ye do?
I didnt *do* anything. It jumped on me, Will snapped, scrubbing at his face with a shirtsleeve. A thin trickle of blood oozed down his cheek; more blood smeared his neck and shirt collar and dripped freely from a deep bite to his hand.
Well, yer a right mess, Jack observed, fighting down a sense of profound annoyance at Will for getting himself hurt.
Will glared at him, opened his mouth as if to speak, then shot a glance at the crew beginning to gather around them and apparently thought better of it. That placated Jack somewhat -- he and Will had had a chat early on about the various definitions of insubordination -- and he stepped closer to survey the damage. With a frown he lifted a hand to tilt Wills chin toward him, studying the crimson scratches furrowed from temple to cheekbone. Will squirmed a bit under the scrutiny, but met Jack's eyes without flinching and didnt attempt to pull away.
Jack felt, unreasonably, as if a disaster had been narrowly averted. He didnt like how Wills face had gone all pale, how his deep brown eyes were still startled-looking. For a moment he gazed at the boy as if seeing him for the first time. Will Turner might be the most impulsive, self-righteous, *maddening* whelp hed ever known, but by God anyone who wanted to hurt him would have to go through Jack first. He should have been keeping a closer eye on the lad.
Ye need to get cleaned up, he said at last. That hand needs a bandage.
"It's not that bad." Will tugged off the faded scarf he wore round his neck and bound it tightly around his hand.
Jack was well-acquainted with Wills independent streak and he recognized that the lad didnt want to look weak in front of the crew. He even realized the injuries werent critical -- but he just couldnt help himself. The treasure all but forgotten, he wrapped a hand around Wills upper arm and gave a gentle tug. "C'mon, back to the ship with ye."
Are ye questioning a direct order, Mr. Turner? Jack put on his captains voice and captains scowl, Wills chin came up and he returned a challenging stare, and an entire argument passed between them in silence.
Will looked away first, glancing down at the blood soaking through his makeshift bandage. "All right then," he said quietly, and allowed himself to be led to one of the dinghies and thence out to the Pearl.
* * *
Jack paced the narrow galley, feeling cornered. Hed left Will on deck and come below to fetch soap and water and bandages, but in truth he needed a moment to himself. He realized now that he had overreacted -- dramatically, decisively, definitively. Worse, the whole crew knew hed overreacted, and worst of all *Will* knew hed overreacted. Damn!
Will getting hurt had shaken him, that much he could admit. And Jack had simply wanted to make sure he was taken care of no harm in that. Never mind that the injuries werent serious; that wasnt the point. Never mind that Will was more than capable of cleaning himself up; that wasnt the point either. Jack was a bit vague as to what the point actually was, at this point, but then hed never been one to examine his own motives too closely.
He knew it was pointless to stay down here when the problem was up there, though, so he got what he came for and ascended the steps to the main deck. Will was where Jack had left him, sitting cross-legged on a sail locker, a glowing lantern hanging from a hook nearby. He looked up with a faint smile, all his earlier defiance drained away.
Jack sat down and turned to face him, damp rag in hand. Best just to get the lad patched up as quickly as possible and hope the whole incident was soon forgotten. He suspected it wouldnt be that simple, however; he already knew that nothing was simple where Will Turner was concerned. But Will was watching him with quiet acceptance, waiting, so Jack dabbed the rag at the line of scratches marking his face. They werent deep, probably wouldnt scar, werent even bleeding much, now. So far so good.
The wounds on Wills neck and shoulder were a different matter entirely, Jack realized. For one, he had to get much nearer to see what was what, and that involved leaning right close to Will, close enough to smell the scent of soap mingled with sweat rising off him, close enough so that their knees were touching. Close enough that Jack could see a pulse fluttering in Wills throat when he turned the boys head to the side that is to say, entirely too close for comfort when the person he was being too close to was supposed to be nothing more than a friend.
Jack swallowed hard and concentrated on swiping the soapy cloth carefully over the small punctures. The monkey had bit Will several times in succession along his neck and several more at the top of his shoulder. To get at the latter Jack pushed aside the loose open collar of Wills shirt, unconsciously gliding his fingers over smooth undamaged skin and taking them both by surprise. Wills eyes darted up to meet Jacks questioningly, and Jack put on his best poker face as if he hadnt just stroked his friends shoulder in a clearly sensual manner.
Jack was sweating now. He was not going to think about touching Will not that hed never thought of it before, of course; it was impossible to be around the lad for any length of time and *not* think of it. But thinking and doing were far different things and Jack could list half a dozen reasons why starting something with Will Turner would be a Very Bad Idea. It must be a bad idea, Jack reasoned, because even the thought made him want to bolt.
It was a relief to sit back, take a breath, look away from Wills sharp eyes studying his every move, but the respite was brief; there was still the boys injured hand to deal with. Jack cursed himself for ever getting into this situation; he never imagined that taking care of Will would affect him this way, or prove to be so difficult. Frowning, he picked up Wills left hand from where it lay curled on the boys knee and began unwrapping the bloodstained cloth. The wound, a deep bite clear through the fleshy web between thumb and forefinger, still bled slightly.
Why are you doing this? Will asked softly, the first words hed spoken since they came aboard.
Jack glanced up from wiping away the dried blood. T make sure ye get looked after properly, o course.
I couldve taken care of it myself, you know.
Bollocks, cant take care of a hand wound yerself, Jack replied gruffly, turning Wills hand over, palm up, to inspect the long, thin scab that bisected the callused palm. Good thing its not your sword hand, eh?
Will slipped his hand free of Jacks to catch the pirates left hand and examine it; Jacks matching scar bore a thick, wide scab, inflamed around the edges.
You shouldntve cut yourself so deeply, Will said, cupping Jack's hand in both of his.
I was in a bit of a hurry at the time. Jack wanted to pull away, wanted to escape Will's scrutiny, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do so. It had been too long since someone had touched him with such care, and the fact that it was Will touching him made his breath come a little quicker, his heart pound a little harder. He was *not* going to think about touching Will, wanting Will, watching over Will
Jack didnt trust himself to look up. He was unprepared for the wave of longing sweeping through him, not lust but something powerful and genuine and all too rare. He hadnt felt like this in longer than he could remember, hadnt allowed himself to feel it. And he knew that as soon as he met Wills eyes, Will would know. Will always could see right through him -- dammit.
Mmm? Jack busied himself with winding a fresh bandage around Wills hand and knotting it carefully in place.
I know why youre doing this.
Jack froze for an instant, blinked, prepared himself for the worst. Whys that, then?
Look at me.
*I cant*, Jack wanted to answer, but he looked up resignedly to find Will gazing at him, serious and intent but with a hint of a smile lingering around the corners of his eyes.
This is why, Will said, and leaned forward to press his lips to Jacks.
Will's kiss was soft, almost chaste, more of that unexpected gentleness that scuttled Jack's defenses so thoroughly. But once Jacks heart resumed beating and he remembered how to breathe he cupped a hand at the back of Wills neck and pulled him closer, parting his lips, exploring, learning -- trusting. He felt as if hed been given a precious, most unexpected gift, one that outshone even the richest treasure. Will had somehow worked his way into Jacks heart without Jack ever noticing, and now that he had noticed well, nobody would ever hurt Will again if he had anything to say about it.
They both startled at the clunk of wood on wood as something heavy bumped the ships hull, then immediately recognized the voices of Gibbs and Anamaria in the dinghy arguing about the best way to begin bringing the treasure aboard.
Will smiled and linked his fingers with Jacks. Youre going to be a rich man, Captain Sparrow.
I already am, luv, Jack replied, and kissed him again.
Ficathon request: Written for Rachael Sabotini, who wanted "a pirate-era story where Will gets physically hurt -- bruises, blood, and the like -- and it sparks something in Jack."
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