Title: The Death of the Pearl
Author: Lady BD (heerozechs195@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Will/Jack
Rating: PG
Summary: Even after all the years together, one thing remains the same...
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm too poor to sue.
Author's Notes: This is actually a summary of a huge epic I may never write. It's the very end that HAD to be written or I'd go crazy.
Warning: Major character death


The Pearl turned north, heading for deeper waters. Will and Jack watched silently as the land slowly slipped from view.

The years had passed in a tropical haze of high seas, plunder, riotous ports and, of course, rum. Always rum. Haphazardly directed by the frolicking guidance of the madman of the Caribbean. The Captain of the Black Pearl. Jack Sparrow.

Under his flag Will Turner had learned much of piracy, and why his crews were so fanatically loyal to him. Yes, they took what they wanted. As much as they wanted. Any time they wanted. But actual battles were few and far between. Jack valued his ship and knew how to use the fearsome reputation of those dreaded black sails to maximum advantage. Most victims dropped anchor without a shot fired. In return Jack left the crew alive with a fantastic tale to tell - the Day They Almost Were Sunk By Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl.

And in truth, the crew had very little need of plunder. The first order of business, all those years back, had been to ransack Barbossa's treasure and hide it in a place slightly safer than where the British navy knew to look.

When Will saw the treasure hold, he was amazed all over again. The first time he saw it he was distracted. It was just too much. There was Elizabeth to think of. And Zombies. And simple survival. The fact that he was dancing about on pure gold didn't register, and what difference besides? It wasn't his. But now…

"All yours lad, for the taking. As a member of the Black Pearl." Jack's voice dropped to a purr as he laid a friendly arm over his shoulder. "As… First Mate, of the Black Pearl."

It had been a heady day. The gold was impressive. He might have protested his promotion - he was too young, had served only a few months on the Pearl, but instinct told him the first thing a Mate did was support his Captain at all costs. So he clapt hands with Jack warmly in front of the crew and said in a loud voice "We have an accord." The crew cheered - this had come as no surprise to anyone but Will - and headed back to the beach for a celebration and all the rum they could consume.

Another surprise to no one but Will was what happened that night. Jack danced merrily around the fire, singing that god-awful song, when suddenly he dragged Will to dance with him. Cheered on by the crew, relaxed by the drink, mesmerized by the spinning, dark-eyed pirate in front of him, Will let go his inhibitions and danced with wild abandon. When he felt the arms slip around him it felt perfectly natural. And when Jack kissed him, wild and untamed as the sea, he returned the embrace with equal passion.

In truth, Will did not know how long the two of them had sailed the ocean. The legend of the Pearl had grown so large the stories were not easy to count. He heard once that Elizabeth never married, and could not bring himself to feel sorry for that. She would have been miserable as a wife. She was too free. Norrington went to his grave with a black hatred of the Pearl. Though Jack would have welcomed a chance to meet him again, Will was secretly thankful they never crossed paths

Still, the tell-tale signs were inevitable. More and more often of late Jack would start something, but it would be Will's blade that would finish it. It was whispered that while Jack was crazy, the real one to watch was the man who never left his side. The fastest blade in all the Caribbean, it was said, maybe all the world.

Then there was the physical. Will had now hit his prime. No one knew how old Jack was, but white streaks were beginning to show in that tangled mane of black. The sun had taken its toll on his weather-beaten face. His body bore lines of wear. He slept later and groaned heartily upon waking. It was a fact neither of them discussed. But Jack was growing old.

Will would never have acknowledged it, though his heart was sick with worry. In typical Jack fashion, pistol casually in hand, the subject was brought to the forefront one lovely night off the coast of yet another nameless port. "This is where I leave you. The Pearl is yours." He looked over the railing at the distant shore.

Thunderstruck, Will could only gape at him. "What did you say?"

"Clean out your ears, Will." He hoisted a leg over the railing, stuffing the pistol in his belt. "There's no such thing as an old pirate. You know it as well as I. And the Pearl goes to no other but you. So just drop me off."

"And leave you?"

"That's right."

"You're giving the Pearl to me?"

"Right again." Jack nodded once, his ever present bandanna jingling assent.

"That means… I'm the captain."

Both legs over the railing by now. "Give the boy a prize for swift thinking."

"That means… I'm your captain."

"What?"

"I'm your captain."

Jack raised his arms in protest then suddenly pinwheeled as Will hauled him backwards. He landed with an inelegant thump back on the deck. "That wasn't what I had in mind."

"Sit down and shut up. I'm giving the orders." Will ran to the large bell in the center of the deck and began ringing it vigorously. "All hands! All hands!" He waited until they stumbled blearily onto the deck, muttering protests. "Let me have your attention." He waited until they were looking at him. Then he barked his first and final order. "Abandon ship."

"WHAT?" The general protest turned to outrage as the crew tried to decide if he was serious or not. To bring the point home he pulled his pistol, cocked the handle and leveled it at them.

"NOW."

"But, Captain," a voice in the crowd protested…"

Jack cut them off. "Not your captain no more. He is. And I suggest you do as he tells you."

The crew took in Jack's defeated posture on the deck, Will's steely look, and most of all, the cocked pistol, then began making their way to the boats. "You know where the swag is." Will called after them. "It's yours. Make your way to it as best you can."

That earned him several disbelieving looks, but no further protest was had as they lowered themselves into the boats and slowly into the dark waters. Silently Jack and Will watched as they began rowing toward the port.

When they had cleared the Pearl, Will turned to Jack. "Weigh anchor."

"We can't crew this ship with two people, you know."

"We don't have to. Not for long. You're just going to have to trust me." Without another word he headed for the rigging. Jack sighed then shrugged, moving toward the anchor. Moments later the majestic black sails carried them out of port and north, out to sea.

--

Two days perfect sailing weather had carried the Pearl straight into the heart of the middle of nowhere, a fact Jack had commented on several times. "There's no land, no ships, no nothing. No no one! Nothing! What are you trying to prove all the way out here?" Will ignored him and held course.

At the end of the day, to Jack's astonishment, Will dropped anchor. His only reply to any question was "Tomorrow." Then he went below, forbidding Jack to follow him.

"And they call me crazy." he finally muttered, looking across the calm expanse of ocean.

When Will called him, Jack took the stairs two at a time. It was impossible for the pirate to be in a bad mood for long. Then he saw what Will had laid out. He examined the table, then slowly met Will's eyes. "That's a month's provisions there."

Will spread his hands modestly and motioned him to sit. "I thought a nice meal was in order."

Jack suddenly grinned. "For tomorrow we die."

The younger man met his eyes. "Yes."

Jack suddenly threw back his head and laughed, then pounced on the table. "Like your style. Why not? Could have told me, you know." He took an huge bite of chicken and washed it down with red wine then rum. "I would have gone along with you."

Will sat and began eating as well, a little more discreetly, but determined to get the most out of this final meal. "I didn't know what you'd think about the Pearl."

Jack stopped, mid-chew and looked at his Mate. "The Pearl?"

"Yes. That's why we're here. To sink her."

The chicken fell from Jack's hands with an audible plop as he looked in astonishment at Will.

"Well, we can't just leave her here," Will explained. "And we'll be… gone. You said it yourself. No one should have her but us. Who knows who might find her?"

One thing Will knew about Jack Sparrow. He was very glib about life and death. He could care less about gold. He knew Jack loved him. But in the bottom of his heart, the place most secretly locked away, there was only one thing. The Black Pearl. And now that the truth was out, the war was on. Leave her to drift defenseless and alone, or take her with them to meet their fate. The meal had just turned to ash in his mouth, Will knew.

Jack tried, but the meal was over before it was begun. When Will made to clear it away, he simply said "Leave it. No point in that." Later, in their cabin, an altogether different side of Jack emerged. No longer carefree and wild, it was as though with touch and motion he tried to express every ounce of emotion he ever carried for Will Turner. To brand on his body and heart for all time that it was love and so much more that he felt. Will realized he would not say goodbye tomorrow. So he must say it now. It was as though they were together for the first time.

When the sun rose it found them still entangled, watching each other as though there could be nothing more perfect than the man in each other's arms. They waited until full daylight bathed the decks, then silently rose and dressed. Neither looked back as they left the cabin.

A fine breeze blew across the decks - it was a perfect day. Impossible for Jack to be in a mood. He spun around once and then said, "All right Mr. Turner. Let's sink a ship."

Immediately the two lowered themselves into the hold, then hoisted out one of the cannon. Without discussion they loaded it then wheeled it into position, pointing back into the hold. Will met Jack's eyes then stepped back.

Jack draped a friendly arm over the canon then looked into the hold. "Well, darling. We've had a good run, haven't we? Fun times. Never be another like you. You were the dreaded Black Pearl. They never took you, love. Remember that." Then he whipped off his hat and touched the fuse of the cannon. It shot a massive hole into the hull of the ship, then did a spectacular recoil and landed back in the hold, widening the hole even more. Jack looked in after the now sinking cannon and cocked his head. "Well isn't that interesting?"

"Hole that size will fill quickly." Will said matter-of-factly.

Jack replaced his hat then wandered to the rail. "Yo, ho ho ho, a pirate's life for me…"

Will joined him and the two said nothing as the deck slowly tilted out from under them. For a time they held on to the lazy roll, but then they let go, sliding to the lower side as the Pearl listed and took on water. When the railing was nearly parallel to the sea, Jack winked at Will. He stripped off his sword, his pistol and finally his coat and hat, then dived neatly into the water. Seconds later Will followed him and the two stroked cleanly away from the sinking ship.

"Well, Will Turner?" Jack called out to him. "Has your swimming improved at all? Do you think you can outlast her?"

Will tread water easily a short distance away. "I think I can. She deserves witnesses."

The two of them watched as the mighty ship, the terror of the Caribbean, sank majestically beneath the waves. It really didn't take that long. First the decks, then the rigging and finally the tall masts disappeared until nothing remained but bubbles breaking the surface. And then suddenly Jack and Will were all alone in the vastness of the ocean.

Jack flipped on his back and floated contentedly. "It's been a good life. No complaints. Good ship. Good food. Good company." He glanced over at Will and smiled.

"What do we do now?" Will felt like an idiot for asking the question, but it had been gnawing at him.

"Now?" Jack raised his head. "We drown." He shrugged. "That's what you call an occupational hazard."

"Oh." He tread water for a time in silence, watching Jack float. "Jack…"

"Don't say it."

"But you don't know…"

"Yes I do." He didn't even open his eyes. "Don't. Good-byes already been said, love. Let's just do what we're here to do."

Will considered this and concluded Jack was probably right. He also came to the sudden realization that he was getting tired. Jack looked like he could go on forever. He wondered if he should mention this and then thought against it. When he went under, that would be it. He stopped concentrating on Jack. On anything but staying afloat, as slowly his limbs turned to lead. He thought the folly of his actions might strike him, but instead a strange kind of peace filled his mind. Peace, and a deep, unconditional love for the man beside him. The man he had served with for so long. He knew he would go under soon. He knew he should not say goodbye. But he had to say something. "I love you Jack." And then he felt the waters close over his head.

Just above him a terrific splash bubbled and churned, and an iron fist closed over his wrist, yanking him to the surface. Will gasped and with fading energy kicked to the surface, trying not to drag Jack down with him. Jack waited until he got his breath back and then took him by the shoulders, shaking him a little. "That's it, then? That's it? Just, I love you, then you're gone?"

"I thought that's what we're here to do!"

Jack looked at him intently, then let him go. He reached behind his head and yanked free his ever present bandanna, which jangled and winked in the Caribbean sun. "Give me your wrist." Cautiously Will extended one hand, to which Jack tied one end of the bandanna. Then he extended his own, motioning Will to do the same. His dark eyes bored into Will's. "When we go down, we do it together. Savvy?"

Will's heart burst with love. "Right." He swam with renewed strength, but soon the old weight crept back. He fought it as best he could, but finally he gasped "I can't last much longer."

Jack reached out, gently touched his face. "Do what you must love. I'll be there."

When the waves closed over his head a second time, Jack was by his side, swimming to the bottom. No heroics, he just hooked the bandanna under an outcropping and waited, Will in his arms. And as Will returned the embrace, darkness closing around him, his last coherent thought was his love for Jack would now be eternal, at the bottom of the Caribbean.

END