Author name: Alex Neko (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Jack is locking himself away. Will keeps the key safe.
Warnings: graphic descriptions of cutting, major psychological problems
Category: angst, h/c, somewhat of a romance in a twisted kind of way
A/N: written for Sparrowhawk and the J/W ficathon 2, in response to challenge "Reverse the usual h/c scenario; Jack falls ill and Will cares for him." probably not the type of h/c scenario one usually has in mind, but i as a general rule loathe h/c fics so i had to do something to make it a little more palatable. also, i am a sick twisted person who likes to project my own angst onto poor defenseless fanfiction characters.
also, let it be known that i am NOT pleased with the ending to this story, and may either rewrite it or write a sequel, depending on reader responses (yes, here's where you come in).
Disclaimer: Disney, copyright, not mine, dont sue, college student, no money... ad nauseum. first PotC fic. read, review if you so choose, flame if it makes you feel better about being a paltry imbecile.
Step out of heat out of sea spray saltiness barnacled crustiness sun bleached dryness coating everything with a fine layer of tan to angry red. Step into cool suffocating darkness incense flavored bittersweetness sweat spicy sharpness clinging silent stillness emptiness.
"Close the curtains, Will, theres a good lad."
His voice is the rasp of a dull knife across wood, splintering at a touch. The sound is such a distinct physical sensation that Will looks down at his bare arms in the dim light, half believing that his skin is parting, tearing, opening up in ugly ragged gashes but nothing mars the leather-tan skin save old scars and the bite of the sun, leaving Wills wounds entirely internal, cutting open his heart instead of his skin.
The most dangerous injuries are the ones no one can see.
Gazing into the smoggy false night, Will wonders. When did the shadow who speaks from the shadows become what he is today? When did he finally allow himself to slip away into darkness once and for all? Jack Sparrow had always been an odd man, a changeling, prone to fits of every emotional extreme but all things came in balance. Dark days turned to light and back to dark in equality, providing a queer sort of security in Jacks very instability. Could Will pinpoint the day when he realized that the mood swings had taken an intense and alarming turn for the worse? The day when he realized that locking himself in his cabin for three days without food, drink, or sunlight was simply not normal, healthy Jack Sparrow behavior?
The day when he realized that the clean, straight slashes across Jacks arms were not the result of combat at least not with any opponent save those in Jacks own head?
"Did ye hear me, boy? Close the damn curtains. I cant abide the sunlight, not now."
Not now. Not ever, Jack. Will does not speak the thoughts in his head. Instead, he crosses to the window, where yellow-orange sunset leaks in through the crusty pane of cracked glass. In a quick movement, he draws the heavy black velvet drapes closed, plunging the room into inky blackness. A sigh of something akin to relief sounds from the direction of the bed, and Will can picture Jacks face relaxing into the closest he ever comes to a real smile these days. "Sbetter, dont ye think, Will? Not so damn bright. Just dark. Sall I need right now, just a little bit of dark..."
Jacks voice trails off. Wills throat feels like a bird is trapped in it, fluttering, flapping, dying.
The tightness grows, leaking from Wills throat down to his chest, and he knows he cannot stay here, cannot listen to Jack whisper and mutter like a dirge, cannot bear one more second of Jacks quiet agony. He turns from the shrouded window, is about to walk to the door, leave Jack alone to his darkness, when he hears the captain whisper plaintively, "Come sit beside me, Will, my love?"
Jacks room has become so familiar that Will can easily move about in it without looking around for pathways and besides, Jacks photophobia has made Wills own eyes so accustomed to darkness that he can see almost perfectly well in near-absolute black. He moves to the bed, sits lightly at the foot of it. He can feel the presence of Jacks body beside him. The room is uncomfortably warm, but Will feels the tremors as the bone-thin ghost of a man shivers beneath his tattered blankets. Yet though he has touched Jack, spoken to him, sat beside him, every day without fail, Will has not actually seen Jack as anything more than a vague shadow for the past fortnight.
Suddenly, Will can no longer stand the dark, not for another second. He feels that if he does not lay eyes on Jack right now, the pirate will somehow vanish like smoke, fading away forever into nothing more than a shade. When Will speaks, his own voice, at normal volume, sounds unnaturally loud. "If you dont light a candle, Jack, I cant stay." He meant to say wont, not cant. He didnt mean to let his voice tremble.
Silence. Then, softly, "I dont want ye to see me like this."
"Please, Jack." Meant to be sarcastic, it comes out as a plea.
"I cannot let you see me like this. I wont!" Above a whisper, Jacks voice feels like a shout. Will turns away from the sound, like a slap to his face. He cannot trust his voice to reply.
A candle blazes into life on the night table. Will blinks in surprise, automatically glancing over to where he can feel Jacks thin form curled beside him. The pirates face is turned away from the light, hidden in shadow. "Happy now, whelp?" he asks, voice hoarse and thick, as though holding back a sob.
Will reaches out, touches Jacks cheek, feeling bone beneath the tight-drawn skin. He runs his hand along the familiar contours, damp with sweat and the residue of countless tears. His fingers brush over eyelids, nose, lips, chin and suddenly, he grasps Jacks chin and turns his face sharply towards the light. Jack jerks away, but not before Will has seen what he felt with his fingertips; a jagged red line etched across Jacks left cheekbone like a lightning bolt, still crusted at the edges with dried blood.
The world is contracting, pulsating, narrowing Wills vision, threatening to snuff out the candle with the power of pure, crushing despair. Will makes a choked noise. Jack lets out a hoarse, painful laugh. "I warned ye, but ye never listen. Never have, never shall, I suppose. Stubborn boy..." Jacks laughter turns to a sob, and he quiets, his body as tense as a harpstring.
"Why..." Will manages to gasp, through a haze of unshed tears.
"Why? Thats all ye ever ask. All ye ever care to know, is why..."
"Thats because thats what matters, Jack!" Will explodes. "Why are you doing this to yourself, to me? Why is this happening to you? Why are you... who are you?" He gropes for Jacks hand, finds it, clasps it to his chest. Its cold to the touch, and shakes as if with a palsy.
"Did ye ever think that maybe I know as little as you do?" Jack sounds as if all the flesh has been scraped out of his throat. "That maybe... maybe I dont know why?" He turns to Will, faces him full-on, and Will can see the cut in sharp relief, below the pirates dark eyes swimming with tears. "Im afraid, Will," he whispers. "Im afraid of the light..." His hand, held by Will, clenches into a fist. "I need the darkness... please, let me have the darkness... oh, Will..." He crumples, boneless, empty, bereft. The blanket slides from his naked torso.
Cuts, scars, slashes, lines like the marks of some demonic pen. They cover the tanned skin, splitting it, marring it, dividing Jack into jagged shards. Some are healed, some so fresh they still bleed. The blanket is stained with red. It is as though every hurt Jack has ever felt, everything hes ever believed himself to have perpetrated on another, has been inflicted and re-inflicted upon him tenfold. Jacks entire upper body is a canvas of pain, decorated with his suffering.
But this time, Will does not flinch away.
He gathers Jacks thin, ravaged form up and draws it into his arms. Will holds his captain carefully, closely, as tightly as he can without hurting Jack even more. Jacks blood soaks into Wills shirt the blacksmith pays it no heed. He buries his face in Jacks unruly mass of beads and braids and strokes the scarred back as Jack shakes with sobs.
Jacks tears seem to go on forever. Observing the situation, considering the impact of what may transpire, time takes the liberty to stop.
Finally, Jacks tears taper off, and finally, he raises his head from Wills shoulder. Will lifts his own head, his hands tangled in Jacks hair, presses together first their foreheads, then their cheeks. Their tears mingle and seep into Jacks wound, like aloe and acid. The pirate winces, trembles, and then falls still, as Will cups the pirates face between his palms. Jack closes his eyes.
"Purify me." The words spill out of Jack like blood, a dying man gasping for air, desperate, hopeless.
"I cant purify you, Jack," Will whispers hoarsely, through a haze of tears. A shudder wracks Jacks body, but Will stills it with a touch. The two sets of eyes lock, one begging for forgiveness, one begging for the privelege to forgive. Wills voice is like seawater on a cut, cleansing, burning.
"But I can absolve you." As gentle as an ocean breeze, Will touches his lips to the wound. They linger there for a moment, then slide down to press against Jacks own lips, salty with tears and blood.
The candles flame flickers once and dies. But to the two figures on the bed, tangling in each others arms and slipping down, down, through shadowed depths, clutching at one another like drowning men, praying for salvation, the darkness is all the light they can stand.
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