Changing Paths
BY: Loui

Three months to the day since his now near-legendary `rescue'
of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner shook hands with his former
master.  Somewhat to his surprise, the drunken old sod gave him a
quick hug and said, "God Bless, lad.  God Bless."

"Keep well, old man," said Will with a catch in his voice.  He then
more firmly settled his travelling bag on his shoulder and headed for
the door of the smithy.  His other belongings were already on board
the Seawind and there was a boat awaiting him at the dock to take him
out to the waiting ship.  All had been arranged for the simple
payment of a couple of hand-crafted swords for the captain.

Master Brown had already given him leave to use the forge for his own
work after his last pieces were completed for his former master; it
had only taken a little more work to fashion the two extra blades. 
As they got him one step closer to his goal, Will had considered them
a bargain.

Forty minutes later, he cast one last wistful glance back over his
shoulder and at his past, and then, he turned his gaze out to the
Seawind and the hypnotic rolling waves of the sea.  It was time…


Five months later, having come to a reasonably amicable and
*temporary* arrangement with Tortuga's only other decent
blacksmith, Will Turner found himself reasonably pleased with his lot.

He'd slowly settled in to life in the crazy pirate haven.  Old
MacNair was a stout old Scot, and a decent blacksmith, and he'd
welcomed the help.  Not to mention the fact that - helping the old
man - allowed him to earn enough to support himself reasonably well
and keep a hand in at his trade.  While waiting on word of the Pearl,
there was worse things that he could be doing.

The working of the metal also allowed him to come to peace with the
decision that he had reached.  The gentle tears that had run down
Elizabeth's cheeks at his decision rather than hysterical sobbing
had also eased his heart.  The mad couple of weeks that they'd
during the Curse/Sparrow/Pearl escapade had been exhilarating.  The
couple of weeks after Jack's - and Norrington's the following
day - departure had slowly brought matters back to reality.

He loved Elizabeth - he always would.  He also knew that those
feelings were wholeheartedly returned.  What he and Elizabeth had
both come to realise was that it was the gentle first-love of
childhood.  A love secretly cherished for the hope that it was the
grand passion in their lives… something that had became apparent
was not the case.

He'd found himself spending an inordinate amount of time wool-
gathering while he was supposed to be listening to wedding plans and,
after one too many such incidents, a gentle yet strong hand on his
shoulder had interrupted his reverie and Elizabeth's firm voice
had commanded him to "talk to me".

He'd passed it off as a moment's idle concern about what
Sparrow had managed to get himself in to since his `escape'.
let it go then, but they'd both known it was more than that. That
evening, alone in his rooms in Port Royal, Will Turner had finally
admitted the truth to himself.  He missed the sea… he missed the
excitement… most of all, he missed the irrepressible pirate that
was *Captain* Jack Sparrow.

The next day, he'd gone to Elizabeth and confessed what he was
feeling.  There had been a few tears on both sides but they knew it
had been coming.  They decided to break their engagement.  While she
was a bit more adventurous than the majority of ladies of good
breeding in the community and neighbouring towns, Elizabeth's
reputation was still excellent.  It would not be hard for her -
should she choose - to find many willing suitors.  Surprising them
both, Will had put in a good word for Norrington - who he had to
admit was a decent enough man in the long run.

It had left him free to get his affairs in order and arrange passage
to the one place that he knew Jack would eventually return to.


It was seven months after his arrival in Tortuga that the Black Pearl
finally made it's way back into port.  Knowing instinctively that
he had to keep his distance at first if he wanted any chance of
equality in the ranks of it's motley crew, Will did not
rush to the first inn that Jack and his crew visited.  Nor did he
even attempt to contact anyone from the Pearl on their first night in

It was the afternoon of the second day of the Pearl's dropping
anchor in the bay when a familiar voice echoed from the doorway of
MacNair's smithy, saying, "Well, well, well.  I guess I owe
Ray that drink after all.

"Bootstrap Turner's boy `tis indeed in this fair, unwashed

Looking up from the blade that he was finishing polishing, Will
cocked his head to the side and assessed the colourful clothed frame
of the pirate at the door, and then grinned, saying, "'Least
it's not a slap in the face, Jack Sparrow.  Isn't that what
normallyend up owing the ladies?"

That produced a genuine grin on the face of the pirate and a devilish
twinkle in his kohl accentuated eyes.  "It's a rare gift that,
Will Turner."

"Whatever you say, Jack," said Will with a chuckle.  He then put
aside the blade he was working on and walked towards the doorway of
the smithy, Sparrow met him half way.  They exchanged a brief, manly
embrace before stepping back to gaze merrily in to each other's

"Drink?" said Will.

"Drink!" was the pirate's emphatic response.


Several drinks later and after telling Jack the story of "your lady
fair and why I didn't get an invitation to the wedding" Will was
ready to raise the subject of whether or not he was welcome on the
Pearl.  Something interrupted them - something usually did, after all.

This something was a bar brawl that started when Jack quickly shook
off the gentle alcohol haze surrounding them and told the two
unsavoury looking characters that had approached their table
requesting/demanding to be re-hired as crew exactly what they could
go do with their request.

By the time the brawl had turned into a melee and spilled out into
the street, Jack and Will were fighting off all-comers side by side
and like two partners that had fought together for years.  Fight
over, they'd retreated off to Will's room at the back of
MacNair's smithy - the old man had a lady friend of long standing
that he stayed with - and collapsed exhaustedly on the floor, leaning
back against the side of the bed.

The next morning, Will woke with the rough shaking of his shoulder. 
Eyes blinking open, he looked into the intense eyes of his
companion.  Jack was crouched down in front of him, eyes level with
his own.  The simple question Jack asked - minus his usual
embellishments - penetrated Will's half awake mind and brought
him to full alertness.

"So, Will Turner.  Are you with me?"

"To hell and back, *Captain* Sparrow."

The grin he got as a reply made Will smile as well.


One month later - Anamaria having insisted that she'd had her
fill of being first mate to the crazy captain of the Black Pearl -
left the ship and Will Turner assumed the post in her place.  His
parting gift to Anamaria was a pair of items that he'd crafted in
last few weeks in Port Royal.  She was a good fighter who was best
suited to using a short sword or dagger… the two he'd given
her when
she left for pastures new had been two of the best he'd ever

For the main part, the crew had already met him during his earlier
adventure with Jack.  The remainder had quickly come to respect his
abilities with the blade and the fact that he seemed to be able to
cope with their mercurial captain's moods and whims.  Mr. Gibbs
supported him wholeheartedly and his loyalty to Jack won him their
respect; especially when they saw that their captain genuinely
trusted and liked their young first mate.


It was on the night of the first anniversary of his second voyage on
the Pearl that things began to change again.  Joining his captain and
friend for dinner in the captain's quarters, Will reached around
neck and pulled out the leather pouch that he'd been wearing
against his chest all day.

He tossed it across the table to his friend and said, "Here.  I made
you these a while ago.  Tonight seems like as good a time as any to
give you them."

Eyes curious and eager - he *liked* presents - Jack emptied the
contents of the pouch onto his palm and Will shifted nervously in his
seat at the gasp of surprise his present produced.  Jewellery was not
something he normally worked with but these pieces had seem to come
from the forge with effortless ease.

The ring of pure silver was reminiscent of waves, the stylised
sparrow mounted on the J and S inlaid into the centre was delicate
yet strong; the silver drop earring that matched it was a solid
teardrop shape which this time had the ring's centre design
etched onto the surface.

Questioning eyes were raised from their assessment of the objects to
meet his own and Will silently shrugged a response.  He watched as
Jack's nimble fingers assessed the ring's weight and size
removing a ring from his left hand and replacing it with his gift,
the earring also found a new home in one of the holes in Jack's
left ear.

Raising his glass, the pirate captain then said, "Thank you." 
Nothing more needed to be said.  It was almost an hour later before
Will rose to excuse himself - he was next at the helm.  Jack rose
with him and walked towards the closed door of his quarters.

Before he could open the door, Jack tugged him back and raised strong
hands to the back of his head to pull his lips down to meet the pair
that was demandingly searching for his own.  Surprised - yet not -
Will enthusiastically returned the embrace.  The heady rush of
emotion and the sense of inevitability about the moment near turned
his legs to jelly, but he had enough presence of mind remaining for
him to raise his hands to Jack's shoulders and steady himself.

A long moment later, they broke the kiss.  The finger wearing a new
silver ring stroked gently down his cheek and Will couldn't help
but lean in to the touch.

"You want this?" was the soft question.

"Yes, but…"


Will nodded wordlessly.

Grin on his face, Jack Sparrow stepped back and released Will.  "Slow
I can do, Will Turner.  Just you wait and see.  Just…" his voice
trailed off, eyes insistent.

Bouncing off toward the door, heart lighter than it had ever been,
Will said, "I keep my word, *Captain*.  You know that.

"I'm yours… just like you're mine."

Smiling, Jack gave an elaborate bow and said, "Would I disagree with
my first mate?

"Now get to the deck, you young whelp and take the helm!"

"Aye, captain."

And… like the excellent first mate that he was… Will Turner
did as he had been ordered.


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