Author: Yours Truly (email@example.com)
Rating: R (Light)
Summary: A ghost of their past reappears to interfere with Jack's and Will's relationship.
Disclaimer: 'Tis not mine, and they're all bloody lies.
Feedback: 'Tis what keeps me breathing.
Author Notes: Written for the Second JackXWill ficathon. Italics mean that the event being referred to happened in the past. This is unbetaed so crucify me for any mistakes.
Written for: Christine.
Yes: A fic set in England with a mention/appearance of at least one of their parents.
No: No killing of Jack or Will or BDSM between J/W
"They say he's back!" The man hissed to his companion, rousing the curiosity of the pirate that rested comfortably against one of the back walls of the 'Faithful Bride'. The usually decadent air around Tortuga always seemed to increase when you walked into one of its fine establishments. "I heard that he's alive, back in England!"
"Who is?" The pirate asked the gossiper firmly, stepping forward into their conversation by showing off a gold coin between deft fingers with a crooked smile "If you be so kind as to fill me in, mate."
After a moment of hesitation, the hand that was not holding the drink reached out for the coin, but the pirate kept his grin in place and the coin well out of reach. "Answers first." Was all he said.
"Well, I never told you this " The man hissed, raising a crooked finger in the air and pointing it at the pirate's face.
"'Course not!" Said pirate grinned, lifted his hands in mock surrender.
"But I heard ol' Bootstraps Bill came back to life!" The man announced grandly, to then be nudged to silence by his companion. The pirate had to make a monumental effort to keep his grin firmly in place as the other man recovered himself, went back to his tale. "Heard he's living in England now, in London. Keeping a low profile, my mate said."
The fog hid everything.
Will saw it approaching as the Pearl neared England's shore, and he resented its cold bite into his flesh, the flood of memories that came along with it.
He could almost hear the echoes of fired canon-balls, the blast shaking the ship he travelled on. If he turned around now, he was sure he'd see crewmembers running around him as they readied their canons for battle, as they ushered him, just a cabin boy then, below decks for his own safety. He remembered Elizabeth appearing in what seemed like moments after he'd felt an explosion and the bite of cold water, her innocent face above him blurred by the fog and the smoke surrounding them. He also recalled the first thought that had come to his mind.
Am I the only survivor?
He frowned, staring down at his hands that gripped the railing. The hold on the wood was hurting him, but he barely took notice of this. The fog bank they had entered made him shiver violently, much as he had done, long ago during his mother's funeral. Such a bleak day as that few children have seen. He remembered looking around, and recognizing no one. Remembered feeling utterly alone.
He remembered London all right, its streets, its people, its weather, and all the good times it had granted him with.
"I hate you," He whispered softly, the words carried off by the wind and turned meaningless. Then he released his hold on the Pearl's rail, shaking his head in a hopeless attempt to bury his memories where nothing could make them return, even while he knew it was a foolish battle against his past. He turned around, trailed the familiar path back to the cabin he shared with Jack without another thought, closing the door quietly behind him.
The sun was barely out now, had risen behind the clouds while Will had stood outside, shivering from the cold and the memories. Now he stood inside the door, staring as Jack slept soundly on the bunk, an arm thrown carelessly over his eyes. The steady rise and fall of his breathing did nothing to soothe Will, as he clearly remembered their argument from last night.
"We're going to England? London? Jack, why didn't you tell me? You said we were going to France!"
Will sighed, moved closer to the bunk, fists unconsciously clenching at his sides. He hovered over Jack's sleeping figure for long minutes while his hands shook with the effort of not touching him and commit the feel of his skin to memory.
"I'm sorry Will, there's business to take care of there."
"What business? Jack, you've been lying for two weeks. I thought you trusted me "
He lay down on the floor next to the bed; his back turned away from the other man. He cursed the feeling of helplessness that was overpowering him, hated what this country could do to him. Most of all, he hated Jack right now.
"I'm sorry Will."
"I'm sorry too." He whispered tiredly, eyeing the bag with his belongings that rested in the darkened corner of the room, beneath the desk. He hoped Jack didn't see it before they docked, so he could skip the goodbyes.
Jack watched him from the bed, but didn't say anything as Will finally drifted to sleep.
England loomed ahead the Pearl's route, ominous shores becoming clearer.
Will wasn't surprised when he woke to an empty cabin, the sound of activity coming through the door. He sat up slowly, wincing at the stiffness in his muscles from the hard floor and the headache that loomed over his temples, echoing like one of his hammers back at the forge. Rubbing his eyes, he sighed, looking out the small cabin window to see they were already docked at a non-conspicuous port that Gibbs had told him about the day before, a little way south to London.
It was time, then.
Will took one last look at the cabin he'd shared for almost a year now, his steps heavy as he moved towards the desk, bending despite his stiff joints to pick up his things. His hands fumbled beneath the furniture, seeking, but they came in contact with nothing. Frowning, Will ducked to peek his head there, but his bag was missing.
The young man felt his shoulders slump; already knowing what awaited him when he tried to leave. He walked towards the door, turning the handle slowly, and indeed, there was a click. Will leaned his weight against the locked door, recognizing the noise outside for what it was.
One of the crew was watching the door, making sure he wouldn't escape.
"I'm sorry, lad," Came a voice through the door, that Will recognized as that of Anamaria. Jack knew he'd never hurt her, but she had no such qualms about hurting him if he interfered with her orders. Will felt his headache increase by degrees, and blamed it for the tears that threatened to pick beneath his closed eyelids. "Jack means well, Will, you'll see."
The boy didn't answer her, moving instead towards the bed to lay there, looking outside through a window that was far too small to sneak out through. His body felt cold all over while his heart was heavy.
Jack didn't trust him at all, that was the fact of the matter. He thought Will was stupid. The pirate had been telling him about France during this entire voyage, speaking of all the things they were supposed to do there. Will had repeatedly told him he'd love to visit the country, because he'd never been there, and one day, while they had been in one of Tortuga's pubs, Jack had come up to him and announced that was to be their next course.
Will had been delighted to hear about it and Jack had joked he'd blend right in with the eunuchs he assured lived there. Then the pirate had hugged him close and told him stories of everything they'd see, of everything Jack was planning on showing him. It had all sounded marvellous.
He was so fucking naïve at times, that he'd let himself believe those promises.
"Why France, though?" Will had asked him one night, kissing his neck, and moving lower. "Do we have something to do there, or are you just indulging me?"
"Ah, whelp," Jack groaned, taking a hold of his head and guiding him faster towards the place where he wanted the attention. "Don't you know the fun of this is not having to do anything?"
"Right." Will grinned, then moved lower and slowly took Jack between his lips, relishing the moan his actions brought out. "Freedom, then."
"Freedom," Will laughed bitterly, the sound cutting through the silence of the cabin, and he heard Anamaria's muffled voice asking if he was all right. Not bothering with an answer, he went to the desk, and uncaring of his splitting headache, took a healthy gulp of the rum to be found there.
Freedom for the boy safely stored away in Jack's cabin, like a toy put away for later use. Freedom for the stupid lad who thought he'd found a home, and just found another prison.
The bottle shattered to a million pieces against the wall, and he cut his hand when he tried to pick up the mess. The burning of the rum on the wound was mesmerizing. After a little fumbling, he managed to sit on the floor next to the pool of drink, aware that the liquid was staining his clothing but uncaring as his thoughts raced and twisted themselves inside his mind. He watched without really seeing the blood welling up, until belatedly, he realized he was holding a shred of glass too tightly in his other hand, and more blood mixed with rum was burning its way out.
He ignored Anamaria's concerned calls to him, and absentmindedly licked some of the drink from the floor.
"Might as well act like a pet," He murmured softly to himself, still watching the blood, "That's what you want right now, isn't it Jack? You need something uncomplicated."
He nodded to himself after a moment, looked out the window again.
It was dark when Jack came back. The food Anamaria had brought in had long ago gotten cold on top of the desk, and he had vague recollection of her yelling at him for breaking one of Jack's finer rum bottles, then softening and telling him about how he'd see this was for the best.
He hadn't answered her, and neither had he let her tend the cuts on his hands.
It was almost funny how Jack came inside, slowly and carefully, as if he expected Will to hurl a chair towards his head. Honestly, he should do that. A month ago he would have done that. If he didn't know what this shit was all about, he probably still would. But the leaden weight inside his chest had noting to do with anger or resentment, and so, he didn't. Will just sat in the bed, looking down at his hands. He'd been picking at the cuts all day, hoping for more blood to pour out.
He didn't bother answering as he heard the door being locked again, this time from the inside.
"William, c'mon, luv " he felt the mattress dip next to him. Briefly raised his eyes to watch Jack removing his boots from beneath his lashes. Didn't move when a hand tentatively reached for him, touched his shoulder. "Talk to me."
"Will, luv," A voice boomed behind him, and he turned around, drink in his hand to meet Jack's shining eyes. "Guess where we're going next."
"Hi," He said faintly, clearing his throat when his voice was barely over a raspy whisper. He let the hand raise his head to meet Jack's eyes, briefly enjoyed the flash of uncertainty that lurked there when Will didn't lash out, didn't do what he knew Jack was expecting.
"Hi," Jack muttered back, still testing him with his eyes, still careful. Will sighed, moved closer until his head rested on Jack's lap, remaining there with his eyes open. He felt Jack's hand touch his face, slowly begin to run through his hair, but wouldn't say anything else. "What's running through your head, luv?" His question was met with stony silence. "C'mon, I know you're angry. You can yell now "
Will didn't feel the need to remind him that he could have yelled his voice raw all afternoon for all Jack knew. He hadn't of course, and the pirate probably knew him better than that, but still, he could have.
"How was the shore, then?" Will asked softly, staring ahead of him. "I haven't been on land for a while. Was it hard getting used to, again? Sea legs and all that- though you always stumble."
"It was fine," Jack answered after a second, his hand trailing over Will's throat. The boy didn't fight the touch, instead leaning back to give the hand a better access. "It's cold outside, you should put your coat on when we go tomorrow."
"Oh, I'm going too?" He felt Jack tense beneath him, ready for the outburst. Will just moaned as the hand found that special place beneath his jaw line that always made him melt. "Okay."
"Jack, please. What business do you have in London? You promised me no more lies."
"I did, so don't force me to lie, whelp. I can't now, but I'll tell you in due time."
The caress continued in silence for another few minutes, before he felt Jack push him away and stand up. He watched him as he moved to pace the room, looking so bewildered it almost made Will want to laugh. Almost. When the pirate finally tired himself of moving like a caged panther, he turned, looked at Will, and slowly his eyes travelled to Will's hands. The younger man saw them widen when they saw the cuts, and immediately, Jack went to his desk to get something to bind the wounds with.
Will remained silent when Jack came back, strips of one of his shirts in his hand, soaked in the contents of another bottle of rum he had hidden somewhere. It burned when it touched his cuts, but Will didn't react, watching the procedures as both of his hands were carefully bandaged.
"How did this happen?" Came the gentle inquiry, and Jack searched to meet his eyes. Will just shrugged, smiling hollowly.
"Accident with one of your bottles." He explained softly, allowing his lax body to be drawn forward into Jack's lap, his back to his chest. The older man slowly unbuttoned his shirt, let it slide to the floor as he fondled Will's chest gently, his mouth tracing patterns on his throat. Will moaned quietly, passive as the other hand was travelling to his breeches, untying the laces with practiced ease.
When Jack's hand touched his member, he didn't draw back, enjoying the touches, mewling softly when they were withdrawn. Jack turned him around suddenly, holding him at arms length and peering into his eyes as if trying to read the secrets of the universe in them.
"Did Ana drug you?" Came a quiet question after a while, and this time Will couldn't hold back a bark of laughter. It came out as a bitter, painful sound.
"No, Jack," he whispered back, seductive as he lowered his lashes to look through them, licking his lips and smirking when Jack did the same. "She didn't do anything. I can be docile on my own."
He saw a frown threatening to appear in Jack's brow but didn't allow it, kneeling on the bed as he removed his breeches the rest of the way. He leaned forward, smiling with all the promises of a whore, and moving deft fingers to slowly peel away Jack's clothing, constantly leaning his head in to lick a patch of the skin revealed. Soon, his hands were caught and held firmly, but he didn't fight it, merely knelt there, looking at Jack.
"I don't want you docile," Jack said uncertainly, but Will could see his play was affecting him, if the bulge in his trousers was any indication. "I want you to tell me you're angry, and let it out."
"Yeah?" Will cocked his head to one side, smile firmly in place. The betrayal inside his chest was an oppressing weight as he played, choking him with everything he really longed to say, yet throwing Jack off-balance like this felt like revenge. "I can do that Captain, just tell me what you want me to say."
"Will, stop," Jack growled, but his hold on Will's wrist didn't lessen, and neither did the heat in his eyes. "Tell me the truth, I know you hate me right now."
Will stayed silent for a minute, debating with himself. Then he smiled again, nodding his head. "Yes, I really do," He said softly, whimpering as he thrust his hips forward, showing Jack that his body was also reacting, even as his eyes remained blank. "But it doesn't matter, I'm not leaving."
"Will, 'tis not about that," But the pirate's resolve was already shattering, Will could see, as his body was practically shaking with the need to grab him and appease his needs. "You're coming with me tomorrow, Will, we'll go to London and I'll explain everything."
"No need," The boy whispered, leaned forward and freed his hands from the lax hold, placing them at each side of Jack's face and stealing a kiss that was all about control. Will's control. "I don't care."
They tumbled backwards into the bed, and Will moved down Jack's body, getting rid of every remaining article of clothing. He had to admire Jack's attempt for coherency once Will had him between his lips, looking up at him with large brown eyes.
"Will I " A deep breath, "I swear 'tis important "
I know, you daft bastard, Will thought faintly, lowering his eyes back and hollowing his cheeks. That's never been the point.
Yet his thoughts remained unvoiced.
Jack had trimmed his hair that morning, taking out his beads and trinkets, and then combing the wild mass into a simple ponytail. He shaved his moustache, and replaced his clothes for new ones he had gotten the day before. Will asked if he should disguise himself, but Jack just told him to wear his hair loose and shave his goatee, because he didn't draw much attention to himself either way.
Will had thought Jack looked extremely different once the transformation was done, but didn't comment on it.
They were currently travelling through a beaten down dirt road that, according to Jack at least, would lead them to London. They had stolen the cart they were using back at the port, from an old man whose glasses were 'accidentally' stepped on by Anamaria. Not one of their most noble deeds, but as Jack was so fond of reminding him, they were pirates. Anamaria had stayed behind in the port, making sure the Pearl was always well watched over by the crewmen, who were all over the small town enjoying their time on land.
Between Jack and Will, the silence was oppressing. The night before, once their cries had died out and they were both spent and exhausted, Will had simply pretended to fall asleep on Jack's chest, hoping to avoid any more questions. Jack had probably seen through his act, but nothing further had been said.
"Will " It was almost alien now, how the insecurity made Jack's voice waver so noticeably. "I swear I have good reasons for not having said anything about this trip."
"I know, Jack," He answered calmly, leaning back against the cart's wooden structure and closing his eyes. He hadn't slept a wink throughout the night. "I don't care, you always have reasons."
Endless minutes trickled by, while the only sound echoing through the road was the even clap of the horses' hooves on the ground. There was a slight fog surrounding them, which reminded Will with every step that this was English soil they stood on.
Almost asleep when it happened, Will was almost thrown off the cart when all of the sudden, Jack reined in the horses that led them, into a sudden stop. Will grasped a hold of Jack to hold himself steady, his breathing almost stopping on his throat with the scare. Soon enough, the horses settled down, and Will frowned, resuming then his previous position. Jack's eyes felt like a vivid touch on his skin, burning through his closed eyelids.
"Fuck it, William, can you bloody be angry already?" Jack snapped at last, grabbing a hold of his shoulders and shaking him violently. Will opened his eyes leisurely and merely shook his head at the pirate.
The exasperated look would have been funny in any other situation.
"Why the hell not? I lied to you, I broke a promise to you, then I left you locked inside our cabin for an entire day, and I still haven't told you why for all of those things. Why aren't you angry?!"
"Because I understand."
"William, how in hell could you "
In that moment, Will's eyes must have betrayed him, because Jack grew quiet and let go of him, staring at the lad with such a serious expression, that it almost made him seem like someone else. Just then, Will felt his own façade crumble, mouth twisting into a thin line while his eyes began to shine with a whirlwind of feelings.
He almost felt better when he realized that Jack wasn't able to meet his gaze for long.
"I know what you came here for, Jack." He began quietly; leaning forward with an air of calm that fooled none of them "I know we're looking for my father. I know you think he's alive. I know you're fucking trying to find him. And you know what?"
Jack froze, and there was an interminable silence between them. Finally he seemed to steel himself before looking up, an eyebrow raised. "What? You hate me for not telling you? Hate me for learning about it by someone else?"
"No," Will said simply, dashing forward and grabbing Jack's jacket, shaking him with all the violence he was restraining. Then he took a shuddering breath, released it slowly, all the while his insides seemed to burn with the words that wanted to escape. "I don't care."
And the words should have sounded much crueller than they did. Will was denying his father, his past, and Jack's best friend, denying so much in three seemingly rash words. Instead, the confession sounded painful. Will's voice came so much smaller than it was, so much wearier, that it filled the air with what almost became an admission of weakness, shattering whatever ice had lain between them. The admission, it seemed, was escaping from between unwilling lips.
Will felt himself being drawn forward, and couldn't find it in him to resent the warmth of Jack's embrace. It wasn't until Jack rested his hand on the small of Will's back, that the lad realized he was shaking.
"Who told you?" Will whispered after a while, drawing back to look at Jack. "When we were in Tortuga, who told you about my father?"
"Gibbs, lad," Jack said softly, lifting a ringed hand to touch Will's smooth cheek "The bartender was gossiping over at the Faithful Bride, 'cause his son assured everyone he saw your ol' man here in London. So Gibbs heard, and rushed over to tell me while I was getting us a room."
"Everyone knows then," Will said tiredly, looking down, "I paid a gold coin off to a drunk that was gossiping about him while you were getting the room. He told me the same thing, that he was here."
There was a pause, and Will unconsciously began to pick at the edges of the bandages on his hands as he tried to find the words to explain himself.
"Then you told me about France," Will continued softly, frowning at nothing, "And I was so thrilled, 'cause that meant you hadn't heard about my father, and you wouldn't come to find him."
"Why, Will? Why don't you want to see him?"
As much as he had been expecting that question from Jack, he still wasn't sure of the answer. Biting his lip, he sat up on the cart before jumping off it, moving away from Jack but pacing the road right next to their vehicle, needing the movement to clear his mind. Jack jumped off next to him, and he saw him tying the horses to a nearby branch, resting the cart to one side of the road.
"Because he might not be real." Will answered at last, looking past Jack's shoulder. "Because when I was little I prayed everyday for his return. I wanted to see his face, sail with him. Because he was the only one that kept me sane when I was alone " he drifted off slowly, stared at his shoes as if they were mesmerizing. "And then he was dead."
"And now he might not be," Came Jack's gentle reply, along with a heavy hand on his shoulder. "He might have survived, Will, we have that chance "
"I don't want it!" Will blurted out, choking on the words. "He was dead, and I mourned him. I came to terms with being an orphan and alone, with having no one. I accepted his death, and it hurt Jack, it hurt so much "
"I know whelp," Jack muttered against his hair, drawing him closer, and his voice made it impossible for Will to think that he didn't understand.
"I was so angry, Jack," The younger man said after a moment, pulling away to sit beneath a tree. "So fucking angry, because you'd lied. When you promised me France, I thought I wouldn't have to face this, that you wouldn't know "
"Don't," Will said softly, with a laugh that escaped his lips unbidden. "Don't apologize. I don't want your apologies. And I don't want this, Jack, please don't make me face this."
"Will, he might be alive," Jack told him firmly, sat down in front of him, and his eyes were so hard to meet. "I know 'tis difficult, but 'tis a possibility."
"Jack, I've never had a father," he muttered, clenching his hands, "I don't remember him. I don't need him now, Jack, I have my life, I I don't want this now. I needed it ten years ago, not now."
A bird sang from the tree branches above their heads, and Will briefly looked up, biting back tears. Jack opened his mouth to speak, but Will beat him to it, smiled faintly.
"I know you need it, Jack," He said softly, reached out a hand, "I know he was your friend, and you feel guilty, even though you shouldn't." A pause. Jack was looking at him with something akin to surprise on his eyes. "I understand, and I'm not angry. But I'm afraid. And for once, I don't want to face it. Just don't ask me go see him, if he lives, all right?"
The kiss they shared tasted bitter, but Will blamed it on the invisible tears that wanted to break through their defences. Their eyes were dry though, as they pulled back.
"Of course not, luv," Jack whispered against his lips, leaned in again and this time, it was sweeter, the air around him clearer.
"Please don't hope too much, though," Will whispered back, eyes haunted, "It might not be true."
"Worth a shot, luv," Jack grinned, kissed Will's forehead. "For once, this is worth a shot."
London was a blur when they arrived, a mass of aristocratic people blended in with the working class, whores painting all the corners of every darkened alley. They went through the streets in their cart, going past buildings that seemed eerily familiar to Will, some more pleasantly than others.
After a brief tour around the city, Jack led them to one of the local bars, which showed a big sign with the word "Lodging" engraved on it. It seemed far more fancy than the places they usually stayed at, but when he commented on it, Jack just winked and told him that they had to spend their swag somewhere.
Now, he sat on the bed of the spacious room, staring out the window while Jack was outside, having gone to the place where Bootstrap Bill Turner was supposedly living. Will watched through the glass as the night began to fall, raindrops slowly making an appearance along with the darkness.
"I'm sorry," He whispered softly, to a father he'd never met and didn't want to see. A father that was better left alone in Will's memories as the hero that had made his mom so happy with his letters, and had always sent a present for Will's birthday until the day he turned seven. Like the man that Jack told him he resembled, in all but his mother's eyes, and that in Jack's eyes was the best friend a man could ask for.
No living man would ever be better than that image.
"Hope you understand that." He told the empty room, trembling as a cold shiver ran through his spine.
It was almost morning when Will saw the cart turning around in the corner, saw Jack approaching the building from his vantage point at the window. He sat on a chair facing the door, wrapped in a blanket, staring at the wood until it creaked open, and Jack stepped carefully into the room.
Their eyes met.
And Will didn't need to ask to read the defeat on those dark eyes.
He had but a second to feel for the absolute demise of a parent that he'd lost long ago, the last ember of hope fading out, as if blown by the wind. But Jack, he knew, had harboured more hope than he, and so, Will shed the blanket around him and stood, taking his lover into his arms and warming the space left by his father with everything he had to offer.
The next day, the sun came out over London, and Will thought it was the nicest gift his father could have given him.
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