Title :A Drink at the Green Dragon
Author: Rachael Sabotini (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Years have passed since "The Curse of the Black Pearl", and Jack is in Singapore, looking for a drink, only to find more than he expected.
Disclaimer: No money made and no harm intended. All copyrights remain as they are.
Author Notes: I want to thank Sparrowhawk, Bone, Katma, and Alexfandra for their willingness to do last minute beta duty. Many thanks to you all.
This story is part of the second round of the Jack/Will ficathon. It is is for Katie and her challenge is listed at the end of the story.
Someone had an unhealthy sense of himself, Jack was certain of that. The green dragon carved into the tavern's sign had been altered at some point to show the creature with a huge erection. But where the original craftsman had carved with some skill, the additions were obviously something a drunken sailor had added in a fit of mirth.
For one thing, it was the wrong size and shape for the creature. The original dragon had been carved somewhere in the east; it was long and snake-like with lizard claws for feet. The phallus was a crude horse's dick, and it made no aesthetic sense for it to be there. But it made the sign memorable, and the owner liked it, so the sign stayed. Jack didn't really care what the sign looked like, just as long as he could get drunk.
He'd forgotten how much he disliked Singapore and most of the east, but it made for a tidy profit. The Pearl had been unloaded and most of her cargo sold; all that remained was to re-provision her, then he could set sail again. It would take them six months to make Tortuga, and Jack was toying with the idea of going on to Port Royal after that. He hadn't sailed the Caribbean in three years, not since before the last war, and he had a mind to see how the town -- and Will -- had changed.
But for now, he had enough money in his pocket for a cheap whore and cheaper rum. Anamaria had the rest. She wanted to manage the finances, and for the moment, Jack was content with that. If he wanted anything extravagant, he'd steal it. But for now, cheap rum was just what he had in mind.
He pushed the door open and looked for an empty place to sit. Everyone who could sat with his back to the wall, and out of the limited lamp light. The room stunk of rum, sweat, spunk, and bile, and the noise could have drowned out a round of cannon fire.
Jack thought it quite homey.
De Boer laughed and slapped Will on the shoulder. "Better than a drink aboard ship, aye me lads?"
Caleb laughed with him, the smell of whisky nearly drowning the rotting scent always on his breath. "Aye, Captain. What about you, Will? You developed a taste for smoke yet?"
Will nodded slightly, looking around. He'd had a few puffs of the opium pipe that De Boer had passed around earlier -- part of the booty from their capture of a Chinese ship -- and Will enjoyed the way the drug made him feel. When he smoked, it intensified what he was feeling and the world had some depth to it; otherwise he spent most of his days feeling numb and washed-out.
With the smoke, Caleb and De Boer were almost pleasant company, and Will started to relax. He briefly rubbed his hands together, enjoying the feel of flesh against flesh, knowing the sensation would be gone by morn.
Was this the way Barbossa and his crew had felt, he wondered, when they were only half-alive?
His mind slid away from those thoughts, before anger could take him. He'd been a different man when he and Jack Sparrow had gone after Barbossa, and he didn't care to remember what he had once been. He was hidden here, in the South China Sea. The Caribbean was on the other side of the world, and he had no fear of anyone remembering Will Turner, once the Port Royal blacksmith and fiancé of the governor's daughter. Here, there was no one to see him and call him a coward. Here, there was no one to say he was a disappointment, or that he couldn't even manage to die right. Here, he was simply one of the crew on De Boer's ship, someone who occasionally fucked the captain, someone who did his job and did it well.
But every night as he lay in his bunk, he heard the sea cry, and his own mind whispered those same thoughts to him. Sometimes it was in Elizabeth's voice, sometimes in Norrington's, and sometimes it was in Jack Sparrow's.
Will took the drink that De Boer poured for him and swallowed it, laughing at some joke he hadn't even heard. He boxed up his thoughts and set them aside, bringing out the dice and setting them on the table. If he pretended he was cheerful, De Boer and Caleb wouldn't question it. They were blind to Will's thoughts. "So who's in tonight?", he asked, smiling brightly at Caleb and De Boer.
Caleb placed his coins on the table. "I'll go first."
Will sat back and watched, letting the world pass by.
Jack pushed his way through the crowd, avoiding the dice tables and the drunks with practiced ease. He nodded as he caught the innkeeper 's eye; a wooden tumbler and bottle of rum arrived at an open seat the same time that he did. He drank a quick shot, but found the innkeeper 's hand on the bottle before he could pour another.
"You're Jack Sparrow, ain't ya?" The innkeeper said. He was a big, bald lump of a man with a beard that more than made up for the lack of hair on his head. "I bin warned about ya, if that's who ya be. I'll take the money first."
Jack leaned in close, beckoning the innkeeper closer." I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, all right. But you see," he took out a single silver coin and twisted it around in his fingers, "I've been at sea far too long and am in need of a good stiff drink." Jack grinned at him, and laid the coin down on the wooden counter; it was worth more than the bottle, but not too much more, enough for a second bottle and someone to share it with. "Whoever warned you must have been mistaken," his voice became louder as he talked, spinning out the tale for anyone who'd listen as he pocketed the coin once the innkeeper was distracted. "Captain of the Black Pearl--"
"Shit!" There was the sound of a chair scraping against the wood, and then a thud as if the chair had fallen over.
Jack paused in his story. He knew that voice, and that voice shouldn't be here. He turned around slowly, watching as the men parted before him to see the man standing with his arms folded across his chest, the remains of a dice game behind him.
"Will!" He called, striding over. "It's good to see you, luv." He clasped Will on the shoulder and squeezed.
Manners would have required him to tell Will how fine he looked, but as a pirate, manners were only useful if they procured something Jack wanted. And as Will looked terrible -- he was too lean, his cheekbones too prominent, and his eyes were sunken in as if he had spent too many days in the sun on short rations -- Jack didn't feel the need to lie.
"Jack," Will said carefully, his hands by his sides. "I never thought you'd be here."
The motley crowd returned to their drinks and plotting while Jack looked Will over. The shoulder under his hand felt bony, and his clothes hung on him. They were a poorer quality than Jack would have thought, given that a blacksmith as talented as Will would make a decent living. "How are you doin', lad?" He inched in as close as he could, surprised at the smell of opium that lay around Will, settling in the stained folds of cloth that passed for a shirt. "I thought you were set up in Port Royal."
A swift flash of pain lit Will's eyes, and dashed away again before Jack could place it. Will shook off Jack's hand, his eyes turning coal-dark as he spoke. "Sacked by the Spanish fleet."
Jack pulled back a moment, surprised. He would have expected to hear of something like that, no matter how far he was away; and he would have gone to Port Royal if he had. "I heard rumors of a new war with Spain, but had not known of Port Royal. Surely it survived."
"Some of it, yes."
"How much? The governor's palace? Your forge?"
"I don't know."
"What of the ships berthed there? Didn't Norrington command a large fleet?"
"I don't know. I don't know. I DON'T KNOW." Will's cheeks flushed, and his gaze hardened. "Are you calling me a liar, Jack?"
"I know you have a history of truth-telling, so I wouldn't say a liar, exactly." He leaned in closer, his gaze flicking over Will's face. "More--"
"Aye, exactly." Jack said, with a smile and a nod. He looked for some reaction from Will, but there was nothing. His face, his voice, his manner had been either angry or flat ever since Jack had seen him. Jack found it puzzling, and while he tried to piece together what might have happened to Will, he talked. He didn't think about it, just said the first thing that came to his mind while he tried to pick out what exactly was wrong.
"There's a subtle difference between a liar and a dishonest man, " Jack said. The closer he got, the wilder Will looked; he seemed to have trouble breathing, and refused to look directly at Jack. "A liar will cleanly tell you something that just isn't true, whereas a dishonest man will shade the truth, so to speak. It's never quite-- "
Will grabbed the hand that Jack had just touched to his cheek. "Where the hell were you these past few years?
Jack blinked, gently removing his hand from Will's grip. "At sea."
"At sea." Will's lip quirked. "Of course. I was at sea, too. I was taken prisoner and set to manning one of the Spanish ships." Jack could read the exhaustion in his face, and a flicker of pain passed through his eyes. "I was one of the lucky ones." His voice was bitter, like the rind of a lemon. "Those that survived the attack were given a choice, to serve them or die." His hand trembled as he spoke. "I chose to live."
"Living is good. Much better than the alternative."
"So you told me." Will's voice was thick and dark as he spoke. "You were wrong."
"This one botherin' you, Will?" The man to Will's left stepped forward with a growl. He had straw-blond hair and a thin beard, and looked to have been in too many fights, with a broken nose and a long scar on his left cheek. Yet his blue eyes sparked as he spoke to Will, and Jack filed that look away. It couldn't mean what he thought it might.
"No, Captain. Not at all." Will was breathing heavily, his hands clenching and unclenching.
Jack took a better look at the man Will was speaking to, and recognized Anton de Boer. De Boer was of the Dutchmen who took to piracy when their homeland fell into political strife. He threw an arm around Will, his beer in his other hand, and grinned at Jack. "Found Will when I took that Spanish ship, I did, and offered him a berth." He proprietarily stroked Will's hair, turning his face slightly so he looked at Will's profile. "He was good enough for me to promote to third mate." He turned back to look at Jack, a leer written in his voice and on his face. "I suppose I have you to thank for that."
Much of Jack's life had been spent refining the art of manipulation and subterfuge, never letting the enemy know what you were thinking or wanting. To that end, Jack threw the glass of rum he carried into De Boer's face, and followed it up with the nearest wooden stool. De Boer slid to the ground, unconscious, blood running down his face where the skin had split.
He was no longer leering. Jack looked at Will and jerked his head toward the door. They'd best get on, before the brute came to.
Will responded by drawing his sword, his feet braced on the floor, ready for a fight. "I'll stay with my captain."
Something inside Jack twisted, and he pulled out his sword as well. This was what Will had been hiding, his new life at sea and a new lover. Jack had offered him similar years ago, and been refused by the noble young blacksmith. Jack had simply written it off at the time, certain that Will's interest lay with Elizabeth.
But this, finding him here, living as a pirate and fucking his captain -- Jack's fists clenched, and he had to force his hands to relax. He felt -- enraged. Betrayed. He didn't know what. Whatever it was he was feeling, it was all Will's fault.
No, not Will's. De Boer's. He should have been the one to rescue Will, not De Boer, and the thought made him angrier still.
"No blades in the common room!" shouted the innkeeper , but everyone was already placing bets on the match. Jack circled Will, getting the feel of him; he had more wariness to him than he had on the day he and Jack met. There was a look in Will's eyes that reminded Jack of a wild dog in a dark alley -- angry, cornered, hopeless and defiant.
Jack knew that look. It was a look that said a man was close to breaking. He'd seen it on the faces of refugees and slaves, survivors of ships sunk to the bottom of the sea. Men frozen on deck as the canons blasted around them, watching as their mates died. It was a poison that swept through some in the thick of battle, or in their bunks, alone, late at night.
There was no sense in that look, no way to reason with it. Drink didn't help, nor laudanum, nor any known drug. Time alone would heal it, but until then, the best thing to do was to sweat the poison out.
And a good swordfight would do that. Jack and Will circled one another, the intensity building between them. Jack watched Will's eyes, waiting for some small sign that would tell his next move. But Will didn't look away, and slashed at Jack eagerly, if a bit wild. Jack met Will's thrust easily, parrying it. He inclined his head slightly; it felt good to cross swords with Will once again.
Step, step, and parry, right, left, high thrust, twist left. It was like a dance, mesmerizing and free. Jack found his anger leaving him in the pleasure of sweat and precision; Will always brought out the best in him. The men around them roared, yelling curses and taunts as Will caught him cross the upper arm, taking first blood.
"Nice one, lad." He brought his sword up in front of his face and bowed slightly; the fight was ended as far as he was concerned. "Now for a drink." He turned for the innkeeper , only to find Will still in his way.
"No, Jack. Not yet. We're still not done."
Jack didn't have time to think on it as Will immediately came after him. He feinted left, and Jack slid around right, stepping carefully -- and gracefully -- toward the door. But the other men in the room had closed ranks, blocking the exit. They weren't about to lose the night's entertainment. Jack smiled slightly. He liked a challenge.
He glanced about the room and saw his path. The next time Will lunged, Jack was up on a stool and then the table. He slashed a couple of times at Will, then jumped to a new table, leading the men further into the room. He kept surreptitiously glancing at the door, and Will scored on him a second time, but the crowd roared its approval. The innkeeper seemed to have lost interest in the fight, preferring to tally the wagers being place.
When there was enough space near the door, Jack ran for it, jumping from table to table, knocking drinks, food, and dice onto the floor in his wake. At last, he grabbed onto one of the rafters, and swung himself over the crowd of men and landed near the door. "Good night, Will!" he yelled, grabbing the nearest bottle of rum, and dashed out of the door.
Sweat dripping into his eyes, Will stared at the spot where Jack had been. His hands shook; he'd had too much to drink tonight, too much to smoke. Seeing Jack had been a shock, and all those thoughts he'd kept boxed up tight had sprung free, overwhelming him. Thoughts of Jack kept him alive, and there were times when Will hated him for that.
Caleb hauled De Boer to his feet; he was still woozy after Jack had flattened his skull, and had missed most of the fight. "I'll get him back to the ship."
Will nodded, not really hearing him. He picked up his winnings and headed out into the night after them, the fog suiting his mood. Caleb soon out distanced him, for all he was carrying De Boer as Will found himself reluctant to return to De Boer's ship. His body still thrummed with tension, and with the knowledge that he'd see no more of Jack Sparrow, a fact that both cheered him and chilled him at the same time. He could feel sensation leaking away as his blood cooled from the fight, the false bright intensity of the opium replaced by his usual leaden feel.
When De Boer made his offer -- piracy or death --Will had said yes, and he could not forgive himself for that. Port Royal was ashes and he had nothing to look forward to; he should have been able to say no, to die like the men around him had died. Yet he found he could not ask for De Boer's sword. Sometimes, like a waking dream, Will would see it all again: how the man next to him had died refusing to join the pirates and had his brains blasted out. But at the time, all Will could think of was Jack Sparrow, in irons, walking the plank, never giving up. It was better to be alive and have a slim chance than be dead and have nothing at all.
So he said yes, and what he found instead was a living death, a way to breathe and eat and fight and fuck while remaining dead inside.
There was no changing that; it was what he deserved. But he wanted to go back and change what he'd done and said from the instant Jack had appeared at the Green Dragon. He'd felt so ashamed of what he'd become that he'd let his anger carry him; it wasn't like Jack to condemn the choices Will had made. The only one who'd done that was himself.
When Jack had been there, talking to him, fighting with him, Will had felt alive. The constant sound of his own voice recounting his failings had remained silent for once, and Will realized he'd felt some actual joy at seeing his old friend. How long had it been since he'd felt anything like that, he wondered. Had to have been before the Spanish came to Port Royal. Before he was captured and pressed into service. Before De Boer had liberated the Spanish ship--
"You want some company, mate?" The voice came from the darkness, and Will could make out the still figure waiting for him in the alley.
His heart pounded, and he felt himself drawn inexorably into the dark. "You never came to the wedding."
"You told me to stay away. Said it would be easier." Jack stepped out of the shadows, and Will could feel his gaze flicking over him. But there was no pain in it, no censure for what he had done. Jack was just...Jack.
"It wasn't." Will licked his lips and looked away from Jack's intense gaze. He didn't want to fail again. "So what happens now?"
"That depends. You still lookin' to skewer me?"
Will thought about it. He closed his eyes a moment and let himself breathe; no, he really didn't want to kill Jack. "No."
"Good." Jack smiled, and swaggered up to Will. "Come have a drink with me on the Black Pearl, luv. You're always welcome there."
"Are you sure you want a coward aboard ship?" Will couldn't stop the words before they tumbled from his mouth.
"You are no coward, Will." Jack said. "I fought by your side against Barbossa, and you stood by me when I would have been hanged." Jack's dark eyes glinted in the fog. "If you can't believe yourself then believe me when I say that your cowardice is a lie."
"Perhaps I am simply being dishonest." If Jack had been gentle with him, Will would have walked away. He needed no man's pity. But Jack's rough support soothed him, easing some of his pain. A part of him wanted to tell Jack everything that had happened, yet he was afraid that if he started talking, the memories would return along with the waking dreams.
"I know a lie when I hear it, lad. I have told too many."
"I'm alive, aren't I?" Will said bitterly. "That's proof enough."
"Men die, Will. There is no other ending." Jack gathered Will into his arms. "How you live is what matters. Don't worry it away." He pulled Will in even closer, wiping the hair from Will's eyes.
The touch was too much. Will couldn't do this, he couldn't be held like he was precious to someone, like he actually mattered--
Jack's lips were soft and full, warm and slick and welcoming; Will's fears receded under their touch. The prickle of hair around his mouth only highlighted how sensual it felt, and Will couldn't help contrasting them to the rough, dry, wind-parched feel of De Boer's. He licked Jack's lips, and Jack opened his mouth wider, letting Will inside. They kissed and touched in the darkness, the fog hiding them like a large cloak, away from the prying eyes of any stray passers by.
It felt wonderful, and when Will opened his eyes, it was as if some of the color had returned. True, it was the darkness of Jack's hair, and the color of his skin, and glint of the beads in his hair; it was more beautiful than anything Will had seen in months, and he had to be honest. "I cannot stop my thoughts."
"Not today, no. Maybe not tomorrow. But there will come a day when you don't think on it, when its hold on you has faded away to a shade of a whisper of a shadow of a thought." Jack's fingers wove through the air, painting a Will a new future; Will followed their movements eagerly. "You survived, and living is not a crime."
The words resonated within Will, and he felt them surge within him, like a wave cresting the shore. "Living is not a crime," he repeated softly to himself. He had a phrase now that rang true to him, that he could use when the memories welled up within him, when he felt that he should not have survived. It was a small thing, but precious, and Will was certainly that Jack didn't even know what he said.
He swallowed, feeling somewhat uncomfortable. He didn't like owing Jack Sparrow too much. "You mentioned a drink?"
"If you want." Jack's head was tilted slightly, his eyes questioning.
Jack wanted more than a kiss, and Will thought on it. He'd given himself to De Boer because it really didn't matter. He wanted sex, and De Boer wanted him, and that was the end of the matter. With Jack, though, there was always more. Two hours ago, he would not have felt ready for it, but now... "Aye, I want."
"You are welcome t'stay for longer," Jack said, his white and gold grin spreading to encompass his whole body.
Will smiled back, a real smile this time, one that streamed up from his heart. "We'll see what the morrow brings."
Requests: How Jack and Will got together with either swordfighting or regular fight between the two included. Restrictions: no major character death, Elizabeth is out of the picture (no offense to her)
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