Title: Typhoid Elizabeth
Author: Lady BD (email@example.com)
Summary: Plague sweeps the Black Pearl
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm too poor to sue.
Author's Notes: In my little universe Will is first mate of the Pearl, and Elizabeth is part of the crew. It's been explained to death in previous stories.
Warning: This is a pretty standard H/C. I haven't seen any of those on here yet and I don't know if there's a rule against, but if they're not your cup of tea, give this one a miss.
One visits the necessary of a sailing vessel only when one has no other choice. It isn't pleasant. So Elizabeth's frequent trips were cause of note. "Feelin a little whoopsie, there, dearie?" Gibbs teased as she quickly passed him for the fourth time in an hour and a half. She didn't even have time to respond as she bolted past.
Her repeated absences from her post also drew the attention of the first mate. Will Turner had long ago forgotten that Elizabeth had been his one time fiancee. Those days were past. Their loyalty was to the Black Pearl, and to her captain. But this behavior was unlike her. It would take something extraordinary for her to leave her watch unattended. "Mr. Gibbs," Will called out, irritated. "Have you seen Elizabeth?"
Mr. Gibbs chortled under his breath. "Must have gotten some bad clams, she did, if you take my meanin Sir."
Just then Elizabeth rushed by them and back to her position, breathless, her face flushed. "I'm sorry," she gasped, almost doubled over. "I'm sorry. I'm not quite well. Will. Sir."
Will stepped closer and then frowned. "Elizabeth do you wish to go below? You do not look yourself."
At once she shook her head. "No. No, thank you. I mean. I'm all right. I just "
"Elizabeth!" Will cried out as she suddenly pitched forward and into his arms. The woman he held was burning. He brushed her forehead, it was beaded with sweat and glowed fever bright. He scooped her up in his arms then turned over his shoulder. "Jack! Jack!"
Over the railing the familiar dark eyes of the captain appeared. "What's wrong?"
"It's Elizabeth. She's terribly sick!"
Jack took one look then nodded. "My cabin. Meet you there."
Will wasted no time. He gathered Elizabeth in his arms and dashed for the captain's quarters. He hardly had time to tuck her in before Jack made his own appearance. He met Will's worried look with a shake of his head. "Come away, Will."
"But, Jack "
"It's the fever. Look at her."
"I can't just leave her."
"It's a killer, Will. Kill you. Kill the crew. Seen it before."
Will straightened, steel in his eyes. "I will not leave her to die. We need a doctor. Medicine. We need it now, Jack."
Jack pleaded with him, pleaded with his eyes, saw the resolve, then simply turned and left. When the mighty ship changed course Will could feel it and he let out a small prayer of thanks, then concentrated on doing what he could to get Elizabeth through the long night ahead.
It took two days for the Pearl to arrive in the nearest port. In that time over half the crew came down with symptoms of the plague. In all truth only Jack and Will seemed immune to the terrible fever that swept the ship. Elizabeth was the most progressed. She wasted away before Will's frantic eyes. She held down nothing, not even water, and the fever raged through her broken body. She was packed in cool cloths, but that was the most that could be done.
Jack looked around warily then shook his head at the port. "We bring this with us."
"Do we have a choice?" Will demanded, tucking an extra pistol into his belt.
"Not right." Jack sighed as he climbed into the boat. "Not like good, dishonest piracy."
Will said nothing, just concentrated on rowing. Not thinking was best. Not imagining that he was about to infect an entire town with plague no. He couldn't think like that. Just find the doctor, get him back here. Save Elizabeth and the crew.
Three blocks in and four streets over (passing plenty of healthy people that Will refused to think about) they found the shingle of a doctor. Kicking in the door was simple enough. Then Will let Jack go to work.
"How'd you like to have a fantastic story to tell?" Jack smiled at the man, his pistol casually slung over his shoulder.
The doctor looked from Will to Jack then said, "Am I supposed to be impressed or frightened?"
"Actually," Jack said, "you're supposed to be getting dressed, and right quick, and getting together a little kit, savvy? There's some sick people in need of your assistance, and you've been commandeered."
When the man didn't move Will lost his patience. He drew his own pistol and pointed it directly at the man's head. "Move."
"Or you'll what?" he said calmly. "Kill me? Then what? You'll have no doctor and your people will die. Hardly a good rationale."
Jack smiled at the doctor and then reached out to lowered Will's pistol. "He's a bit excitable. Good man, though. Tell you what. You come with us, and I give you these, all right? Do we have an accord?" Jack flipped over his hands, his rings winking in the moonlight.
The doctor sneered. "You think that's what I want? Pirate gold? I don't want your filthy treasure."
"Well what do you want then?" Will snapped in irritation. "People are dying."
"Pirates are dying."
Jack held up his hands placatingly. "The boy's right. Let's have it, then. What is it you want?"
"What?" Will barked.
"Go away. Never come back. Never bother these waters again. Swear to it."
"You don't even know who we are!" Will said incredulously.
"I don't know who you are. He's Jack Sparrow." He pointed to Jack's tattoo, clearly visible from where Jack had rolled his sleeve. "Which means the Black Pearl is in our harbor."
"Captain Jack Sparrow." Jack corrected mildly. "And you have my word. The Pearl will never trouble these waters again, if you come aboard and help us now." He offered his hand, which the doctor took warily. Jack shook enthusiastically, smiling at the man. "Dr ?"
" Matthews. What's wrong with your crew?"
"Plague." Will said grimly, causing Matthews to look at him in alarm.
"Very." Jack confirmed, all good humor leaving his expression at once.
"Symptoms showed up three days ago. So I guess going on a week."
"How many dead?"
"And you brought this into my town? Matthews demanded.
"We needed you!" Will said defensively.
"Pirates have no soul." the doctor snapped. Then he stood and angrily began dressing. Jack looked at Will for a moment then cleared the room and let the doctor work. Several minutes later the man stood before them holding two bulging bags. He left the building without looking back and calmly followed them to the boat.
When they reached the Pearl they hurried to Elizabeth. If Matthews was startled to see a woman on board he gave no sign. He simply began his examination and when he noticed Jack and Will hovering he firmly told them to get out.
After several lifetimes Matthews returned on deck. "Well?" Will demanded.
"You're correct. I've done all I can, which is to say not much. She's very advanced. But I've given her something to break the fever. If she can tolerate it there may be hope. This ship is quarantined until further notice."
"But that means you can't leave."
"I know what it means, young man." Matthews sighed. "Show me the crew."
For the next four days it was touch and go as the fever raged, peaked, and finally broke. Jack and Will became temporary nursemaids, assisting the doctor in every task, fighting for the lives of the crew. When Elizabeth's eyes fluttered open and she weakly asked for a glass of water Will's spirit soared. He couldn't wait to tell Jack.
When Will went racing on deck to find Jack the first thing he noticed was the stillness of the ship. It was as though the Pearl was holding her breath. Something was very wrong. The happy exclamation caught in his throat as worry began to build. The decking under his feet felt off. His heart began pounding. Oh no He took the stairs at a run, soul filled with dread.
He found Jack slumped behind the wheel, one hand reaching forward as though he had tried to cry for help. Will's horrified gaze swept over him, already in denial, knowing what he would find. A face flushed unnaturally colored, fever bright, covered in perspiration, signs of a body fighting the plague. An inarticulate sound of pain left Will's lips as he lunged forward, clutching Jack to his body, feeling the heat burn through him. "No, God," he whispered, eyes screwed tightly shut, "anyone but him, please GOD " Then he was up, Jack in his arms, making his way to his own cabin, calling at the top of his lungs for Matthews.
"I've done all I can."
Matthews rubbed the back of his neck then shook his head. "Young man, you don't understand. This fever does not respond to threats, demands or promises. Only time, medicine, and maybe God. I have others to tend. He'll live, or he'll die. I'm sorry." He let himself out, leaving Will alone with Jack.
They had stripped the pirate down, covered him with cool wet cloths to try to break the wrath of the heat that raged through his body. Every now and again Jack would turn his head fitfully and moan. But all Will could think over and over again was "he looks so helpless." A tremendous surge of protectiveness overcame Will.
He sat, day after day spooning water and medicine down Jack's throat, turning the cloths and praying half remembered prayers to a God he barely believed in. He promised the doctor anything - every piece of gold in the hold - anything he ever desired - if he just kept Jack alive. Matthews simply looked at him with weary pity and left him alone.
Most of the time Will ended up talking to Jack. He spoke of his childhood, how his mother raised him, of the fantasy she dreamed up of his father, of how he met Elizabeth and how they grew up together. He spoke of his apprenticeship and the long, lonely years as a blacksmith. "Might as well have been a eunuch," he admitted ruefully.
Finally, when the words ran out, when the man before him lay still as death, he spoke of Jack himself. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." Will admitted with a sigh that came straight from his soul. He reached forward and gently caressed the side of the pirate's face. "Jack Sparrow, you'll never know how much I love you. I'd do anything for you." He laughed a little self consciously. "Even be first mate of this crazy ship." He glanced around the cabin. "But I love her. I love you. Did I say that already? You're you're everything I want to be. Well, no, that's not quite right. But I want to be more like you. Maybe I want you to be a little more like me. But we're good for each other, I think. I don't know if you know that. And I don't know how to tell you. And now maybe I'll never get the chance. I'd give anything to have one more chance, Jack. Just to tell you how I feel about you."
"What exactly would you give me?"
"Anything. Anything at all JACK?" Will leapt to his feet, eyes wide.
Jack propped one eye open, then the other, then gingerly lifted his head. "Well, that was worth waiting for, I confess."
Will didn't know whether to be outraged or to die from relief. "You've been listening the whole time?"
A soft smile crossed Jack's face and he dropped his head back on the pillow. "You have a nice voice." Then his eyes fluttered closed, as though the effort to keep them open was just a bit too much. He took a deep breath. "You mean it?"
Will resumed his seat, hesitated, then did something he'd been longing to do for a week. He reached out and gingerly stroked the tangled mane of black hair. At once Jack smiled, arching slightly into the touch. "I mean it."
"Nice. Love you too. Owe you a life. Interesting " And suddenly he was asleep. But the body under Will's cautious touch was cool, and he knew the worst was past. And the best was certainly to come.