Title: Bathwater
Author: Gileonnen (anne_from_xanth@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Jack/Will
Rating: PG-13 (language, nudity)
Summary: Pirate or blacksmith--after a long day, everyone needs to feel clean.
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Author's Notes: ma_cheri has given me a very difficult challenge--how to make bubble bath and a rubber ducky historically accurate? Well . . . after some intensive research, I determined that Mayans used rubber to create hollow balls and figurines, and that, while soap was unpopular, it was at least used in those days. And after that, all that remained was the hairbrush and the line "Easy on the goods, love." =) (A note on baths at the time--they were about three feet in diameter if you were lucky, round, and looked like half-barrels; you had to crunch up tight to sit in one.)


The great, alpine slopes of Barbossa's horde stretched around Jack Sparrow in every direction.

Cursed gold from the Aztecs and crowns from the French. A wealth in purple cloth that the Dutch would sorely miss. Ingots brought from Brittany, taken on the seas, and a chest of Mayan making that drew Jack to his knees.

It was covered over in strange carvings of men in profile doing gory things to each other, and generally that meant gold in the parlance of your average tribal coffers. The gold of the savages was usually put together in bigger pieces than European gold, and so he threw the chest open with gusto.

The results were less than pleasing. Certainly there was some gold, and several long, carved chunks of jade, but mostly the chest was full of broken crockery and spongy balls that put him in mind of inflated bladders.

One was markedly less inflated than the others, and it had a curious spire of material that jutted out from the less-than round shape. If he squinted hard, it looked a bit like a goose or a duck. An unusual thing if he'd ever seen one, and Captain Jack Sparrow had most definitely seen one. More than one, even.

As he tucked it into his coat for later perusal, he wondered idly if it would float.

--

Being a pirate's woman makes any respectable woman the subject of a bit of ridicule. She'll hold her head high and pretend that she can't hear the way men guffaw about her lover; she'll pretend confidence when they tell her that her man will only come back clapped in irons.

And if being a pirate's woman is a stressful situation, it has nothing on being a pirate's man.

Tortuga needed blacksmiths just as much as Port Royal, and a damn good thing it did, because Port Royal didn't want Will Turner after that unfortunate wedding fiasco.

He still thought guiltily of Elizabeth's tear-streaked face sometimes, when his captain had been long at sea.

So Will had set up shop in the pirate's port and made swords for brigands to use on his countrymen. It was becoming easier to do the longer he did it, and he worked in his forge from earliest morning to the late Caribbean summer sunset.

Usually he would go straight to bed and lie on the straw mattress, exhausted but unable to sleep. Tonight, though, he indulged himself in heating water for a bath.

If Will had been more a creative man, he might have rigged a system to use the forge-fire to heat water for a daily bath. But he wasn't creative; he was hardworking and straightforward, and he warmed the kettle over the fire and emptied pot after pot of steaming water into his wooden tub.

After much labor, he lowered himself into the tub, ready for a night of relaxation with stringent lye soap.

It felt good to clean off all of the grime and stale sweat, lathering the lye soap over his face and through his hair. It felt beautiful to rub at his aching arms and work the tight muscles to looseness.

He felt a coarse-bristled brush in his wet hair, and cursed himself inside. Once again, the man had managed to sneak in unnoticed.

"Easy on the goods, love," Will whispered as the bristles snagged on a knot.

"Sorry, lad," Jack murmured. "Give us a turn with the bath when you're done?"

"All right." Will closed his eyes and let himself be ministered to. Yes, this would be a night of relaxation.

There was a flat splash that made Will open his eyes just a crack. A misshapen brown lump floated in the bathwater.

"What," he asked, "is that?"

The slight lift of the hand in his hair suggested that Jack had shrugged. "I don't know."

Will opened his eyes a bit more and picked the thing up--it was far heavier than it appeared and made of a strange, spongy substance. "It looks like a plucked duck." He tossed it aside.

Jack's laughter was soft and low as he ran the brush through Will's hair and then tied it back. It had grown long since last they'd seen each other.

Will felt around for a cloth to dry himself and stood in the tub, his skin flushed red by the firelight.

"Go on," he said, stepping out of the bath and standing by the fire.

As Jack doffed his hat and coat and unbelted his pistols and sword, he decided that all the world's gold, precious gems, and misshapen rubber lumps had nothing on the feeling of coming home to a pirate's man clothed only in bathwater.

END