Chapter Three: World Without End
'His folly has not fellow
Beneath the blue of day
That gives to man or woman
His heart and soul away.'
Will Turner awoke to semi-darkness and the sound of thunder. A pre-dawn squall over the water, he thought, or perhaps cannon-fire. But who would be reckless enough to take on the Flying Dutchman in battle?
It took a confused moment before he identified the noise as the rumble of his own pulse in his ears -- a sound unheard for over a decade.
He lay wrapped in a blanket, enveloped by the unique scent of Bootstrap. Will moved his arms and legs experimentally and found them constrained by the high wooden sides of a narrow bunk. They had laid him in his father's cabin, but why? Then the memory came flooding back: the pulsing heart in Jack's hand and the descending knife. The Flying Dutchman had a new captain; the master's quarters with the spacious bed now belonged to someone else.
Quickly, Will brought his hand up to his chest and slipped it inside his shirt. The jagged, lumpy scar that he had borne for ten years was gone, and beneath his palm he felt only smooth, unmarred skin and a faint, rhythmic vibration. Lying in the half-darkness, listening to the creaking of the ship around him and the rush of the water beneath the keel, Will Turner smiled and breathed a single word: "Whole . . ."
Grey light seeped in through the tiny porthole, growing ever brighter and showing the faintest tinge of pink. Will rose, pulled on the boots he found neatly lined up on the planking beside the bunk, and made his way topside. On deck, the crew moved silently about in the pale dawn, performing the routine business of trimming the Dutchman's sails and swabbing the decks.
A lone figure stood at the wheel, beaded hair and tricorne hat silhouetted against the brightening sky. "William! I see you're awake."
Will strode over. "Jack, I . . ." He trailed off, finding himself suddenly at a loss for words at the sight of two inches of thin, pink scar visible above the collar of Sparrow's shirt. Bootstrap seemed to have done a marginally neater job of it this time. Practice made perfect, Will supposed.
"That'll be Captain Sparrow to you, whelp," Jack replied, with a faint upward twitch of his lips. "It's almost sunrise, Shipwreck Island is dead ahead, and I'm eager to have you off my ship."
"Not as eager as I am to be off it," Will said with a quick laugh. "I'll cross us over --" He stopped in mid-sentence, as the realization hit that he no longer possessed the ability. For good or ill, he was no longer the master of the vessel that ferried souls from one side to the other. He was merely cargo.
"That's all right, Will," Jack said. "I'll do the honors. You get on forward. This is a view you won't want to be missing."
Will dashed up to the bow and grabbed onto the rigging, bracing himself as the sun cleared the horizon and he felt the familiar gut-twisting flip of the Dutchman slipping between the worlds. Before his eyes, the clouds lit up with a flash of green and for a brief moment, the waves turned to sparkles of emerald.
"That's for me!" he shouted for joy, knowing that ever after, his favorite color would be green.
He swung himself up onto the bowsprit, leaning outward and straining his eyes as he searched the cliffs ahead for the first sight of her. 'Oh, please, Elizabeth,' he whispered. 'Please be there . . .!'
His heart gave a leap, and he felt a smile suffuse his face as he spied at the top of the cliffs, her slender form backlit against the darkening sky, her dress rendered pink by the setting sun. And beside her, a smaller figure . . .
"Oh my God . . .!"
"Bit of a surprise, eh mate? I'm sorry about all those eunuch remarks. I really didn't think you had it in you. Proved me wrong, you did."
Will swung down off the bowsprit and whirled to face his friend. His pulse hammered in his ears and he felt light-headed. Living with a heart again would obviously take some getting used to. "Jack, why didn't you . . .?"
Sparrow shrugged. "Supposing I had told you? Would you have been willing to risk it, knowing you have a son?"
"I have a son," Will repeated lamely, knowing he must sound like Mr. Cotton's parrot.
"No doubt about it, he's the spit image of you," Sparrow laughed. "I don't know what it is about you and Bootstrap, but you two throw colts that take after their sire. There was a lot more at stake here than you realized, mate."
Will shook his head, still trying to get his mind around the concept. Would he have risked never knowing his child as a living being if Jack's plan had failed? He could not answer that question. "I'm glad you didn't tell me, Jack."
As the Dutchman eased into shallower water and prepared to drop anchor, Will turned and watched his wife and child make their way down the narrow path to the beach. "Ten years gone. My boy's entire life so far. A good quarter of the time I might have spent as man and wife with Elizabeth. It's a stiff price, but a fair one, I suppose, for having my life returned to me."
Sparrow cleared his throat. "Ah, on that score, mate, I have a little something for you and the missus. A belated wedding present if you will." He rummaged through his pouch and drew out a clear bottle, three-quarters full of amber liquid.
"Rum?" Will laughed. "I don't think so, Jack. On this night, of all nights, I don't think I'll want to be drinking."
"Take it, Will," Jack insisted. "I won't be needing it. And it isn't rum."
Sparrow turned and leaned his elbows against the railing, staring out over the water toward the beach. In profile, his face looked somber. "I found it, Will. The fountain flows slowly, but it's still flowing. I spent a long time alone with my thoughts while I waited for that bottle to fill. By the time it was halfway, I realized my father was right; I'd no use for eternal life until I could stand spending it alone with myself. The rest of it is the time it took me to puzzle out how to make things right again. There's a goodly amount there. Enough for eternity for you two and then some, I think. Use it wisely."
Will looked down at the tightly corked bottle before shoving it carefully into the waistband of his trousers along with his sword and pistol. "You could have been a rich man with this. Thank you, Jack."
"I could have been many things," Jack replied. "But I am what I am. And I'm already rich. Now let us bring round the dinghy to get you to the shore and into the arms of your eager bride."
"Belay that," Will laughed. "I'm not waiting for any dinghy. I'll swim for it."
With that, he ran out onto the bowsprit and launched himself into a dive, glorying in the freedom of weightlessness and the sheer joy of being alive. With his eyes on the beach, he hit the water and swam.
Jack Sparrow stood watching as Will cut the water as cleanly as a young dolphin. His heart -- no, his spirit swelled at the sight. Despite the crash of the surf, he still heard an odd silence in his ears and felt an alien stillness in his chest. This life without a heart would take some getting used to.
"Go on, lad," he whispered. "You're free."
"You're a good man, Jack Sparrow," came Bill Turner's voice from over his shoulder.
"And a pirate. Never forget that." The two of them stood watching as Will reached the shallows and struggled up through the surf into the arms of his wife. "I suppose you'll be wanting to join them, Bootstrap. Your time on the Dutchman is more than up."
Turner shook his head. "Maybe next time. Right now, three's a crowd. And by my reckoning, Jack, there's still some debt owing."
"Ha! Look at that -- he's getting her all wet." Will had picked Elizabeth up and was swinging her around, as the little boy looked on with wide eyes. Jack glanced over at Bootstrap. "Are you sure about that, Bill?"
"I know what you did, Jack. You gave my boy his life back. I won't soon be forgetting that. I'll stay, if you'll have me."
Jack nodded. "Then make yourself useful and hoist anchor. We're leaving." Already, he felt the call of drowned souls summoning the ferryman to his duty. He did not intend to shirk it.
"Aye aye, Captain Sparrow," Bootstrap said, and turned on his heel.
Before following his first mate, Jack spared a last glance back at the beach. Will had set Elizabeth down and knelt in the sand in earnest conversation with the boy, while Elizabeth looked on. As if sensing his eyes on her, she turned to the sea and raised a hand in farewell.
Davy Jones had been a fool to think that by cutting his heart out and locking it away in a box he could put an end to all pain. Jack still felt love, and loss, countered by the satisfaction of putting things to right for once in his selfish existence. "Goodbye, love," he whispered, as the wind filled the sails, the Dutchman creaked into life beneath his feet, and twilight swallowed her receding form.
Jack still felt all those things, but foremost, he felt hope. He was Captain Jack Sparrow, master of the mightiest ship to sail the seven seas. No man could harm him, for he intended to keep his heart close to hand. Eternity lay before him, as it does for all men, but even as he sensed the spirits of his crew around him, all good men and true, he knew that if it came down to it, he could face it alone with only himself for company.
As the Dutchman slipped from the cove and made for the open sea, Jack strode back to stand beside his first mate at the wheel. "Where to, Captain?" Bootstrap inquired.
Jack merely laughed. What a grand adventure! "Steady as she goes, Mr. Turner. Bring me that horizon . . ."
Ah, past the plunge of plummet,
In seas I cannot sound,
My heart and soul and senses,
World without end, are drowned.'