Anamaria warned me he was here. Thought he'd have shown up a long time ago, if at all. Should've known Bill's boy couldn't resist the ocean. Lad has salt water in his veins or like enough to not matter. She said he was waiting in my cabin. Anamaria I mean, not the ocean.
He's sprawled belly down across my bunk, dressed except for his boots, arms wrapped around my pillow and his face buried in it. He wakes up when I shut the door. He sits up slowly and pulls his legs in. Moves carefully like he isn't sure his limbs will work how he wants them to. Folds his arms over his knees and rests his chin on top.
He's beautiful in the moonlight. Beautiful, even though there are dark smudges under his eyes from lack of proper sleep. Beautiful, though there's a dark lavender bruise on his cheek. Beautiful, though I can see more bruises peeking from the edges of his shirt. Lovely feet.
"Mind if I ask why you're calling?" I inquire.
He shrugs. "I don't have anywhere else to go."
I might forget how to breathe if he keeps talking like that.
"You want to tell old Jack what happened? Last I saw you, you were coddling the lovely Miss Swann."
"She couldn't take the shame."
"She couldn't take the shame. She spent most of a year with all of Port Royal telling her she could make a better match than a blacksmith. When the rumors started of what she did to keep alive with Barbossa's crew, she couldn't swallow her shame anymore."
"Doesn't sound much like our Elizabeth."
"She broke it off clean. She told me the wedding was off and got on a ship two days later." He's trying to defend her even though she's broken his heart. Fool idiot girl.
"Where's she going?"
"She has an uncle in India."
"I hear it's lovely this time of year."
He shifts on my bed. Stares at the sheets and doesn't say anything. I find a bottle of rum and pass it to him. Drag a chair over and sit down close enough to share the bottle. He downs a draught and gives me back the bottle.
"Thought you had a shop. Thought you had a home."
"I did. The Commodore and a few of his men thought differently. They found me one night and gave me a thrashing for impugning Miss Swann's honor. They told me to leave because I'd sullied enough good names. They said the next time they found me they'd hang me for the pirate I am."
"I don't think I've ever known you to impugn or sully." I point out.
He snorts. "According to the stories, I'm the only one who hasn't. You have though."
"I have not. Though not for lack of trying." He stretches over for the bottle and winces. I hand it to him, then lean over and pull up his shirt. He's covered in varying shades of purple. His hand covers mine and makes me let go.
"Jack, what're you doing?"
"I'm trying to take care of you."
He stills and stares at me. "I'll live." He sets the bottle on the floor. Reaches for his boots. "I think I'll bunk elsewhere tonight."
I catch his shoulders and push him back onto the bed. "Your virtue's safe from me. Let me check you over."
He blinks at me. "Those seem to be directly contradictory."
I grin at him. "Let me rephrase. Your virtue's safe from me while you're hurting. I don't take advantage when a man's down. Knowing our beloved Commodore you might have enough damage to render everything moot anyway."
He lets me take his shirt. Flinches away when I touch one of his bruises. I get up and light a lantern. He winces and covers his eyes with his hands. I rummage around a bit until I find a pot of salve. Gently push him onto his back. Use light and careful fingers to rub the salve into his bruises and scrapes. He sighs softly.
"Over, love." I tell him. He rolls over. It takes me a moment to place the marks on his back. Dark purpleblack welts, one side delineated in blood. Oh god, his shame is written on his back. That whoreson commodore whipped him with a sword. Probably one the boy made. I use clever fingers to smooth the salve over his hurts and rub out the tension turning his shoulders to steel. A nasty thought occurs in my head. I gently turn him back over. He's drifty like and more than half asleep. I reach for the laces of his trousers.
"What about my virtue?" He asks.
"Only way to erase a working over is with another of a kinder nature, savvy?" He blinks at me for a moment. The confusion eases from his face.
"He didn't hurt me. Not like that. Not there."
"He left your legs alone? Doubtful with the attention he paid your back."
"Oh. You shouldn't expect me to think when you're doing wonderful things to me."
"I'm going to take care of you. Savvy?"
"Alright. You take care of me, Jack."
Strip his trousers off, but leave him his smallclothes. I want to leave him something since he's lost so much recently. I tend to the hurts sprinkled across his legs and a particularly nasty one on his left knee where the skin's all rucked up.
"I fell." He says in way of explanation.
I kiss right above it. His hand tangles in my hair briefly then unsnarls itself and pets. I finish up and cork the top back on the pot of salve. Set it on the floor next to the rum. Pull off my boots. Sleepy hands help me get off my kit and pull me to lie down next to him. He curls against me. Tucks his head into my shoulder. I kiss his forehead. He sighs contentedly. I can feel him relaxing as he answers Morpheus's call. I snag the blankets with my foot and pull them over us. Slip an arm around him.
"G'night, Will." Turn my face into his hair and follow him over the black edge of night.