Summary: She was dead to him even as he left her behind . . .
Pairing: Will/Elizabeth, Will/Jack
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Notes: Wolfie, this is all yours. I wash my hands of it.
CAVEAT: I am a Jack/Norrington writer, and I think I may well always be a J/N writer. This is Jack/Will. Why? Because I was bribed with icons, is why. =)
A pirate captain is not a king. His men might go where he asks, but it is only a matter of might. He is their leader, not their ruler. He is first among equals, chosen by a show of hands and deposed in the same way.
Elizabeth hadn't seen that. She had tried to make herself in the image of a queen, and too much adventure had spilled too much blood among her men. Sixty-seven hands had marooned her on an island with naught but a pistol, and those same sixty-seven hands named Will the first among equals.
He had wanted to turn the ship to save her. He had wanted to dive into the water after her. He had wanted to do anything but watch her shoot a hole in the side of his ship and glare after him with hatred as she cursed his name.
He had not put up his hand, but it was hard to see one dissident in the crowd . . . Elizabeth should have known that he would gladly die for her, but there was something wild and angry in the woman's soul that called out for blood. He told himself that it had blinded her . . . better to believe that than to think that she didn't understand the sacrifices that he had made for her.
Will had wanted to do anything but lead the Ice Maiden's crew into more battles, but lead them he did.
Other captains joined him as he ravaged the seas in Elizabeth's stead. Portly Willum Locksley, who laughed that they were the two Captain Wills, had a keen eye for a ship's defenses; Faudel al-Sahra the somber Arab had spoken fewer than a score of words since he had begun following Will. Together, they planned and executed daring assaults on all manner of craft.
A pirate captain is no king, and one day Captain Willum Locksley was left at port with a bag of gold pieces and a crown on his head.
Will remembered the good-natured way that Willum had raised his hand when it had come to a vote. Perhaps it had been his sporting spirit that had given him more chance than Elizabeth, or perhaps he'd simply been a better captain.
On some days, when the wind was soft and the sky was grey, Will would wonder what madness had possessed a blacksmith and a governor's daughter to become pirates. But as the wind lifted and the seagulls cried, he would feel that madness in him again.
He wondered what had happened to Captain Jack Sparrow.
It frightened him in those dark moments when he lay awake in his bunk and wondered about Jack. He should have worried about Elizabeth. He should have been making up fantasy scenes where she had been picked up by a merchant vessel or had built a raft out of palms or even tied turtles together with a rope of her own hair.
But instead he wondered about the first pirate captain he had ever known.
Even when the man was gone, there was something alive about his memory. Elizabeth had died as she faded into the distance, and even though her ghost arose in him when his eyes fell on a rich ship, dead she was to him.
"Ill omen," murmured Faudel. Will turned in surprise. The man had his eyes fixed on the horizon and into the brightness of the evening sun.
"Yes, Captain Turner. A ship with black sails--they say that the damned are its crew."
Will shaded his eyes and fancied that he could see the outline of sails against the bright light.
Elizabeth's ghost was suddenly strong, and she wanted to board that ship.
Faudel's crew had shared his fears, and so the Arabic pirate had continued without the Ice Maiden beside him. But Will's crew had heard tell of Captain Sparrow and slowed their pace, allowing the Pearl to gain on them gradually. In only two days, they were within hailing distance; scant hours after that, Will was again aboard the Black Pearl.
It had been four long years, and four years had wrought change on Will. His face was leaner and his lips chapped by wind; his hair had burned to blond in places. But the greatest change had come over him like a mask, or the dropping of one.
Four years ago, he had been a blacksmith with pirate in his blood. Today, he was a pirate.
There were too many stories to exchange, and they bled out in great gouts of words that intermingled in a sticky pool of experiences. Rum was shared and collars were loosened and candles lit as the day wore into night. Outside, the crews shared song and dance and drink and lantern-light on the Pearl's deck.
Jack hadn't changed. He still wore his beard braided in twain and his hair beaded; he still lined his quick eyes with kohl and wore rings on his quick fingers. He still swayed like a drunkard and spoke like a fool. He was still vibrantly, brilliantly alive.
Will looked into Jack's eyes as the man finished a story that he couldn't quite believe, and Elizabeth's ghost rose in him like wave.
In a moment of rum-soaked clarity, he met Elizabeth's ghost and named it.
Elizabeth's ghost was the part of her that had left her father to terrorize the seas, and the part that had made her own crew fear her enough to leave her to die. It was the most powerful part of the woman he had loved.
Elizabeth's ghost was desire.
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