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{fic} Never Learned to Drown 1/4 | Pirates

Never Learned to Drown

By Clarity Scifiroots

Regular disclaimers apply, I’m dabbling in someone else’s sandbox.

Pairings: pre-Jack/Will, some Will/Elizabeth, hints of Norrington/Elizabeth

Rating: Mature, bordering on Adults Only

Warnings: Het stuff (W/E to an extent, hints of W/Tia), unresolved issues

Series: sequel to Lost at Sea

Summary: Will becomes familiar with what it means to be captain and perhaps sympathizes with Davy Jones.

Thanks to klear0bsession for boosting my confidence, which really helped encourage me to continue and wrap this story up. She remarks that this series has the makings of an epic, I’m starting to worry that she’s right...

Recently edited: April 12, 2009


~ * ~ * ~


William Turner watches the sky lighten as he secures the scarf around his hair. His feet are bare, digging into the sand he will be unable to touch for ten years. If asked, he would admit that he passed his night spending as much time taking in the feel of the land as the feel of his bride’s body against his.


Now that she has entered his thoughts he is unable to avoid the conversation he knows will complicate their parting. Elizabeth – the girl he’d become enamored with while still a boy, a girl he watched grow up. She’s a complicated woman full of passion and noble ideals, yet decidedly stubborn and willing to be ruthless in pursuing her goals.


Will closes his eyes and buries his feet deeper in the sand. He does love her, yet he could love her so much more – more sincerely – with time. He’s only known for little over a week what transpired between their interrupted wedding and the Pearl’s – and Jack’s – destruction. In the aftermath of the kraken, the resentment and doubt had grown from a seed planted sometime during his search for Jack.


He loves her, but it is nothing like the all-consuming and send-you-flying sort of love he once imagined it would be. Perhaps it is only that they have both matured to see the world more realistically, but there is part of him that knows they have their own paths to walk.


“Will.” Elizabeth’s arms slide over his shoulders and her hands wander down his chest, conspicuously avoiding the jagged scar. “We’ve some time yet...” Her lips brush over his ear and he leans against her, wishing her touch or her voice would fill the void in him. He knows that the organ removed from his chest is more a physical symbol for rather than manifestation of his emotions and soul, but he feels very detached from the world since its loss.


Gently he guides her hands away from his hips and kisses her palms. “Liz... I need to speak with you.”


With a sigh she sits beside him in the sand. Her shift is unlaced, hiding very little, and she seems to purposefully let the sleeve slip over her shoulder. She casts him a suggestive look; Will offers her a weak smile in return.


“You know that I...” Strange how hard he finds what he has to say when he’s thought about it since Tia Dalma suggested he would take Jones’ place. He looks out at the sea and finds his gaze lingering on the Black Pearl.


“I won’t be able to step ashore for—”


“Ten years,” she finishes. Her smile is strained when he glances at her. “Yes, I know. I... You know I’ll wait?”


Will again looks at the sea and watches the ships. “Elizabeth,” he says softly, “I don’t want you to. I will not bind you.” His gaze drops to his sandy feet. “You’ve always fought to be free. Who am I to try and trap you?”


Her hand slides into his. “Not trapped, Will! We’ve been waiting for this! All of this time, haven’t we been working toward... toward us?” He can’t quite remember how long ago they had been ready to marry. A year? Less, or more? “Will, I’ve been waiting for you since I can remember.”


He hates hearing the heartbreak in her voice, but there is no time to ease slowly through this conversation. He turns to face her and cups her cheek in his hand. “How much, Elizabeth?” She looks at him in confusion. “How much time have you spent pining for me? Who else have you... Has there not been anyone else you’ve thought about?” Before she can turn away to hide guilty eyes, he assures, “I don’t mean Jack. Whatever that was...” he trails off and lets it lay, needing that to remain in the past so he doesn’t rekindle the fire of anger and bitterness.


“I loved you so long from afar. I doubt I’ll ever meet someone else like you. But I’ve only begun to know myself and you’ve... We’ve both changed so much.” His voice drops to a whisper as he watches her eyes close, hiding the flash of recognition and hurt in her expression. “I love you, do not doubt that. But you belong to no man and I will not pretend to keep you.”


“Why,” she whispers, voice wavering, “then did you ask for us to be married?”


Will strokes her cheek with his thumb. “Because I promised you.” Her eyes open and he fights a grimace at her stricken look. “Shh... I mean that you have had my heart from the beginning. I trust only you to guard it. And I promise you that I will return.”


Confusion evident on her face, she says, “What are you asking of me?”


“Nothing,” he replies, smiling gently. “I will not change you and could not even if I wished.” He wonders if she also is reminded of Calypso. “You have my love, without terms or conditions. I wish you to be happy and live your life.”


He pauses, waiting for his words to sink in before continuing. Part of him wonders how long it took for Jones to lose himself and if the same fate will find him. At present Elizabeth’s fate is the only one he is concerned with.


“I will not be with you, and you cannot follow me,” he reminds gently. He watches the reality finally start to sink in and brings her into his embrace. Against her hair he murmurs, “You’re so alive. I hate the thought that my memory would hold you back from anything or anyone. Surely you’d hate to be alone.”


“Doesn’t mean I’ll fall in love with someone else,” she protests, face pressed against his shoulder.


Will strokes her hair soothingly. “I’m not saying you must. Just know that you owe me nothing.”


The sun’s earliest rays appear in the sky. When he turns his head he can see the tide inching closer, reaching for him as sure as the siren song playing in his mind. This must be what it’s like for Jack, he thinks, when he talks with Pearl.


Elizabeth pulls away eventually and meets his gaze. He does not comment on the wetness on her cheeks. Her fingertips trace his lips as she smiles sadly. “I’ve kissed only a few,” she begins quietly, “though your lips are the only ones that matter. I can’t imagine— but maybe I don’t understand yet.” She takes a deep breath and drops her hand. “You’ll always be more than a memory, Will, don’t think so little of yourself. And if you ask nothing of me but to keep your heart safe—” they share a smile at the double meaning “—then I must insist you have no obligations to me.”


Before he can protest her lips are on his in a fierce kiss. When they part she looks away and says, “I don’t know what awaits you. But maybe... maybe there will be someone who captures your interest.”


Will gently guides her to face him again. “I’m ferryman to the dead,” he murmurs, trying hard to hide the resignation in his voice.


“If I’m to be happy, you must find a way, too.” Her expression sets in determination and Will can feel his lips twitch upwards.


“Alright,” he promises.


~ * ~


He doesn’t say goodbye. When he returns to the Dutchman he walks straight to the helm and orders the crew to get underway. His father relinquishes the wheel silently, although Will can tell by his expression that he wants to say something. Will catches Bootstrap staring at the Pearl still anchored in place. Quickly he looks away and locks his eye on the horizon.


Considering that he has no real idea of the particulars of his captainship, he feels surprisingly calm. Beneath his hands the wood feels warm and alive, so unlike he imagined after his previous stay aboard the Dutchman. As the sun rises, he begins to hear a collection of murmuring voices, too quiet to distinguish any words. The ship hums beneath his feet as an accompaniment, and he can sense her anticipation.


Where can you take me? he questions silently. Guide me.


The Dutchman arcs into the next wave and she begins her dive beneath the sea. For a moment Will can only think of his numerous experiences of almost-drowning, and he has a strong desire to hold his breath. As the ocean swallows the Dutchman the voices in the back of his mind grow louder and one familiar female voice separates from the rest.


“De Duchess be gentle when you love her. You have not’ing to fear from de sea. You be free to sail dese waters if you do de job that you been given.” Tia Dalma – Calypso, now. He lets the Dutchman sail as she will while  he listens intently to Tia. “Dere be many souls yet to cross worlds. Davy Jones abandon dem. You mus’ see to dem.”


“What do I do?” he asks. How is he to guide wandering spirits of the dead? Is he to ask if any wish to be part of his crew? Will does not know yet if the Dutchman needs a full crew, but he has only a handful of men since much of Jones’ crew opted to move on when he voided their debt.


“Your Duchess know wha’ to do,” Tia says, sounding amused. “An’ you will know dem dat belong wit’ de crew, ‘n dem dat might no’ be prepared to die.”


Her words are suddenly lost in a surge of voices moaning and screaming and crying. Will grips the wheel to keep from falling to his knees during the onslaught. It takes some time for the initial shock to wear away and realize that the Dutchman has surfaced again. The noise lessens somewhat, the number of people clamoring for his attention lessening.


“Capt’n, eight to starboard.”


Will approaches the rail at his father’s call and searches the sea below. Bile rises in his throat when he sees the navy men in the water, staring up at the ship in terror. Each man stays afloat with the aid of a barrel. He remembers all too well the feel of rope and waxy skin beneath his hands as he tied dead men into place and pushed them off the Pearl in order to leave a trail for Beckett.


“We’re to take them aboard,” Bootstrap says gently. He nods toward the four men standing on deck, looking up at the helm and awaiting orders. “Else they can follow behind.”


Shaking off his memories, Will turns to the crew and says, “Bring them on. Work quickly, we have plenty more to find.” He turns away from the rail and his father’s concerned gaze. Back at the wheel, he retreats into his mind and tentatively tries reaching out to the voices, searching for the source of each cry. He can feel the Dutchman tremble under his feet when he finds the next group of souls calling for guidance.


~ * ~

Continued in next post