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Lessons Learned at the Helm

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Feel the sea, they tell him when he stumbles. Over and over, for weeks. Feel the sea.

Will thinks it may be the most useless piece of nautical jargon he's ever heard.

He may have pirate in his blood, but he's spent his life on land, and his sea legs have yet to find him. He tangles himself in the rigging, is caught more than once by swinging booms, and he reels wildly when the ship hits even the smallest swell.

Will is afraid he's made a terrible mistake in joining Jack's crew, afraid he'll never be a sailor, let alone a proper pirate.

But no one else seems worried. They all laugh good-naturedly at him when he falls, help him to right himself, and tell him again and again – all of them – that he needs to feel the sea. Even Mr. Cotton's parrot joins in, which is possibly the most humiliating of all.

Only Jack himself doesn't use the refrain. He grins and winks when Will falls arse over teakettle and offers a flourishing hand that lingers when pulling him to his feet again. But Jack doesn't repeat the mantra. He just stares intently at Will and then strides off, his fluid hips keeping him easily on his feet, leading by example rather than catchphrase.

Will's despair mounts as the days go on. He learns nautical terms and all his knots and every nook and cranny of the ship by heart, but he simply cannot feel the sea, and he begins to dread the day they make the next port as the day he'll be set back on land, useless and unwanted. A thought that upsets him for more reasons than he'd like to admit. None of which have to do with Jack and his flourishing hands and fluid hips.


A few more weeks pass, and Will, although still completely without sea legs, is trusted enough to merit his own watches. He stands at the helm during one such period, hands on the wheel, surveying the deck and the wide open ocean and trying his damnedest to feel the sea. He is well aware, however, that it is not any inner sense of balance, but his hands gripping white-knuckled on the wheel's pegs that keep him upright. "Little good pirate blood does me," he mutters to himself.

"Now mate, I wouldn't say that just yet," says Jack, who has materialised at Will's side. He's without his jacket but wearing his hat, which should look ridiculous and doesn't, but then again, nearly everything about Jack should look ridiculous, and somehow none of it does. Will has given up fighting down the twist in his guts when he sees Jack Sparrow.

"If you're here to tell me to feel the sea, you needn't bother," he says, turning back toward the horizon so that looking at Jack won't distract him from his purpose at the helm.

"Nah. S'not something you'll ever get from telling. You've got to find it in you or not, see. And thus far, friend, you seem to've come down rather firmly on the side of not, which occasions my presence at this very moment." Jack bends at the waist and gestures toward his boots, offering a courtly bow in the most unlikely place Will has ever seen.

"Jack," Will says, smiling in spite of himself, "if I haven't found it yet, what makes you think your presence makes the slightest bit of difference?"

Jack rolls his eyes. "Because, love, I'm" – and they finish in unison – "Captain Jack Sparrow."

Will chuckles and before he knows it, Jack has moved to stand behind him and is reaching around to lay his hands over Will's on the wheel pegs. He can't suppress the shudder that Jack's closeness and warmth provoke. Or the way the skin on his neck and arms stipples when Jack's voice comes low and private in his ear.

"Now then, close your eyes." Will does so. "Clear your thoughts. Focus on the ship. Think of the Pearl, Will. Listen to her. Listen close." Will can't help how his blood rushes in answer to Jack's husky susurration. It pounds in his ears, muting the noises of the ship, muting everything but the rhythmic murmur of Jack's words. He's caught in their web, entranced as they roll over him like waves. "Let her guide you, Will. Let her hold you. Let her have you," Jack purrs at him.

Will is lulled by Jack's voice and the lapping of the waves. He relaxes into the gentle rocking of the ship and does what Jack bids him do: lets her hold him, lets Jack hold him, lets them both have him.

And suddenly he is gasping as it breaks over him in a wash like pleasure. The sea comes roaring into his heart, and he opens his eyes to notice a number of things in rapid succession.

Firstly, that he no longer feels the ship rolling beneath him. He is no longer engaged in the awkward fight to stay upright, because he is standing easily, suddenly synchronised with the rise and fall of the deck beneath his feet.

Second, he notes that Jack has pressed in close behind him, curled his hands tightly over Will's on the wheel, and aligned his entire body along Will's back and legs so they stand together, swaying in perfect concert with the sea and with each other. Jack is, essentially, embracing him, which leads directly to Will's third observation that his cock is at rigid attention in his breeches.

And lastly, he notes that Jack seems to be in much the same state.

He flushes and starts, breaking the spell, and Jack pulls away, smooth as always. "There we are. Lookit there. We'll be making a pirate of you yet," Jack says. Will can hear the pride in Jack's voice, and perhaps something else as well. And then Jack is gone from the helm, striding across the deck and bellowing something to Mr. Gibbs about checking the charts in his cabin.

"Aye, Cap'n," the First Mate retorts with an arched eyebrow. "These things'll always put a man in need of... checkin' his charts." Assorted crew members laugh, and Will flushes darker as he realises that they have all been observing his lesson and its... results. His watch ends shortly thereafter, and though his face is still aflame, he is proud of his new surefootedness as he escapes to his bunk to hide from the ribald laughter on deck.


From that point on, Will has no further interference from unsteady landsman's legs. To his surprised disappointment, however, he also has no further interference from Jack. Occasionally he thinks he imagined all the half-caught witchy staring and unnecessary touching, but then he remembers that day at the helm when Jack helped him to find his footing. Jack's reactions – both of their reactions, he must be honest with himself – that day were not imagined. But Jack has shown no further sign of that sort of interest.

And Will asks himself why this bothers him so. What does he want of Jack? He ponders this at great length, in moments of quiet, particularly when he finds himself at the helm again. He remembers the feel of Jack's hands on his and of Jack's whipcord body against his own. He recalls the beguiling thrum of Jack's voice in his ear and realises his eyes are closed, that he is concentrating hard to bring back the delicious shiver of sensations Jack produced in him. That he wants those sensations again, and more. That he wants to touch Jack and, yes, kiss Jack and feel Jack's quicksilver hands and rake's mouth on other parts of his anatomy. That he wants to make Jack Sparrow cry his name.

How far he has come from the lowly blacksmith who dared to dream of Miss Elizabeth Swann. Will thinks briefly of her tearful face when he told her goodbye, told her that he couldn't stay once the siren call of the sea had begun. And to tell it true, even then, the sea's call sounded in his head with a voice very much like Jack's. Come away with me. Taste the horizon.

It has taken Will not a few confused hours to determine what he wants, namely Jack, with all that entails. And not a few more to allay the ingrained disgust that comes along with his desire. But he's had time now to adjust himself to the idea. He's seen Matelot with Duncan and learned how the former acquired his name. And neither of them is any less a pirate or a man for it.

So Will stands at the helm and thinks of Jack and tells himself firmly that as his captain's eye has moved away from him, he was clearly only a novelty to begin with. He's sure he's not the only hand aboard the Black Pearl who carries Hymen's torch for Jack, and if all he ever has is a handful of remembered moments, they are still infused with greater passion than all the years of chastely loving Elizabeth. It will have to do.


It has been nearly a year since Will found Jack in Tortuga and joined up with his crew, and now they have returned to take on supplies. Most of the crew have dispersed to the island's hospitable establishments for the evening, and Will has volunteered to remain on board to guard the ship. He's long since made peace with his heart and feels no need to lose himself in drink and rented flesh.

The sounds of carousing echo faintly across the bay to where Will stands at the Pearl's helm. He has taken to standing there, even when the ship is anchored, because he associates it with important things in his life. It reminds him of his hard-earned role as trusted crew member aboard the most fearsome ship in the Caribbean (or the entire ocean, as Jack would no doubt insist). It reminds him of that day he finally felt the sea for the first time. And it reminds him, of course, of Jack, who loves this ship likely more than he will ever love another human being. His heart aches as it always does when he indulges his thoughts of Jack, and tonight, aware of the crew's exploits on shore, the ache brings with it heat.

Will sighs and decides to make use of the rare privacy. He closes his eyes and rolls his head full circle, feeling the cords of his neck stretch and pop pleasantly. He rests his hands on two of the wheel's pegs, remembering how Jack's hands felt atop his. How Jack's body felt pushed in close against his. The wood is smooth, and Will touches the ship with love as he cannot touch her captain. He thinks the way he feels her now must be some echo of the way Jack does, as a being of her own, and they whisper together silent sighs about the man they would both follow to the edges of the map and beyond.

He leans in close to the wheel now, pulling the leather thong from his hair before replacing his hand on the abandoned peg, the wood still warm from his touch. He jumps nearly out of his skin when a voice comes from his immediate right.

"Very nice for a eunuch."

And there is Jack, arms crossed, staring at him appreciatively with one corner of his mobile mouth quirked upwards.

"Jack, I—" Will blushes and is glad for the moonlight that hides at least some of the effect. "I thought you'd gone ashore with the others."

"I lacked the inspiration on this lovely evening." Jack waves his arm extravagantly to encompass the warm, still Caribbean night. "And I notice you felt the same lack of inspiration, which is greatly similar to the lack of inspiration you seem to feel every time we make port in some delectably debauched locus. You know... " Jack poses with one hand to his chin. "I might recommend that someone as used to spend so much time denying his eunuch-hood put in some time actually disproving said state. But my keen powers of observation have pointed out to me that since you have sailed with this crew, you have, in fact, not one single solitary time availed yourself of the, shall we say, opportunities at hand to do such disproving. Am I right, lad?"

"Yes, Jack. You're right." A year ago, Will thinks, he'd have been painfully embarrassed by this conversation. But now he's comfortable with any number of things he'd never even imagined living in Port Royal.

"And why, pray tell, is that?"

"I'm not interested, Jack."

"Not interested in the aforementioned opportunities in specific or not interested in the disproving at all?"

Will can't help but laugh. "You know, Jack, sometimes even now I'm not sure I understand you when you speak." Jack grins and sketches a bow, but returns to his inquisitive pose, still awaiting an answer, and it occurs to Will that his captain seems more than casually interested.

"I'm not interested in those sorts of assignations," Will says plainly, gesturing toward the lights and noise of the port across the bay.

"So instead you're here having an assignation of your own with my ship, eh?" says Jack, raising his eyebrows.

Will is nearly sure he can sense undercurrents of possibility here that make his heart speed, and though he'll happily employ coyness, he refuses to play at being obtuse. "I admit it's not very piratical of me, Jack, but I have little interest in taking some anonymous catamite to bed for a few coins."

"Catamite, you say? Not one for the ladies anymore, are you, Mr. Turner?" Something in Jack's demeanor has become rather predatory, and Will thrills to see it.

"I'm not one for the taking of unwilling persons, regardless of sex and regardless of money changing hands."

"It seems, then, that we are somewhat similarly inclined in this respect. This is one of admittedly few areas in which I'm no longer in the habit of taking what isn't offered to me freely. For example," Jack says as he steps suddenly quite close to Will, "I'd only be having any piratically-inclined blacksmiths if said piratically-inclined blacksmiths were inclined to be had. Understand?"

Will swallows hard against the flutterings in his stomach. "I'm not sure I do, Jack," he says, although he's sure he does indeed, and Jack says, "Then let me make it plain," and moves in the last few inches to kiss Will's mouth.

Will returns the kiss eagerly, tasting salt and rum and the tang of metal. Jack's hands come up to either side of his face and hold him, one thumb sweeping back and forth against a cheekbone, and Will sighs and sways forward, his whole body yearning toward his captain. The weight shift sets them both off balance, though, and their mouths break apart as they stagger. Will is breathing hard, and his pulse beats faster when he sees Jack's hungry face and his eyes gone dark and hot.

"William, I'll ask you this only once, so answer me truly. Is this what you want?"

And Will is suddenly glad for all the painful hours he's spent contemplating this very question, because now that it's on offer, he doesn't need to hesitate before pulling Jack to him and answering, "Yes, Jack. Yes!"

Jack groans and pushes Will back against the ship's wheel, kissing him like he's been starved of it. His hands are skating restlessly over Will's back and neck and sides, memorising him by touch, and Will chokes out a series of laughing sobs as those hands he's wanted for so long are finally on his body. He buries his own hands in the weight of Jack's hair, clutching, pulling, wanting to drown in the slick heat of Jack's mouth.

Jack's mouth, which is suddenly gone from his as it goes slipping along the length of his jawline and sucking a path down his neck. And all the while, Jack is growling at him like some jungle beast. It is decidedly the most exciting thing Will has ever heard. "Off!" Jack snarls, pulling Will's shirt from his breeches and up over his head. It snags behind him on one of the wheel pegs, leaving Will's chest bare and his arms bound by cotton and pinned uselessly to the wheel. Jack notes the situation and if anything, his eyes burn hotter. He sucks hard at the juncture of Will's neck and shoulder, and Will throws his head back and keens at the sensation.

Jack slides a hand teasingly down Will's chest and stomach and down... Ah! Then he lifts his head and grins wickedly. "Most assuredly not a eunuch, then." He wraps his fingers around their prize, and Will twitches and moans, "Jack! I want to touch you, Jack!"

"Yes, pet. By and by. But at the moment you look so damnably pretty all trussed up at the helm, see, and I'm of a mind to enjoy you in such a state." Will whimpers and twists his hips, wanting to touch, wanting Jack's hand to move. Instead it retreats, and Will whines at the loss.

"Now now. Mustn't rush ourselves," Jack says and breaks away to make short work of Will's boots and breeches, until he's standing with his arms pinned to the wheel by his shirt and otherwise quite naked. Jack looks on covetously, and Will feels the heat in his body flare in response. "Look at you, lad," Jack says, hushed. He runs two fingers down Will's chest, then looks back up so their eyes meet. "Beautiful," he says, very quietly, and Will goes warm inside in an altogether different sort of way.

And then he's distracted, because Jack is efficiently disrobing in front of him and is suddenly very bare and covered in fascinating marks that Will is struggling ineffectively to touch. "Jack. Please! Let me."

"Patience, patience. I've something else in mind for you yet." Jack's grin doesn't belong on the face of any civilised person, so Will is emphatically glad Jack's nothing of the sort as he drops his knees to the deck and keeps his eyes on Will's while he leans in and...

"Jack! Oh, Christ, Jack!"

Jack gives an amused hum in response, which, given the current location of his vibrating throat, removes even those last words from Will's mind. He has Jack's mouth on him and Jack's hands on his hips and it's not long before he cries out his bliss into the still air.

After a moment, Jack pulls back and rises smoothly, smirking. Will knows exactly where that mouth has just been, and the sight of Jack lewdly wiping it along the back of his hand is too much at the moment. His head falls back against the wheel with a thunk and doesn't move when Jack finally frees him from his shirt. Jack runs gentling hands over his stretched arms and shoulders, gives him a moment or two to collect himself, and then presses firmly in against him. Firmly indeed. Will is thankful that he is young and that he's been largely refraining for a good year now, because he's nowhere near done with Jack tonight.

He puts his hands to Jack's body curiously and is rewarded with a sigh and a shiver. "Someday, Jack, I want you to tell me about all of these," he says as he traces over Jack's various markings.

"Someday, I may well indeed, but at the moment I can think of a great number of better things to do with you and me and not a stitch of clothing between us."

"Such as, Captain Sparrow?"

"Such as me finally fucking that gorgeous arse of yours."

Oh. Will's stomach seems to drop out of him entirely and his cock perks up fast.

"You've no idea how good I'll make it for you," he purrs into Will's ear, same as he did that day a year ago. "It's like nothing else you'll ever know. Like feeling the roar of the surf inside your body. There's a place, Will, a place that'll make you scream in delight. Let me find it. Let me make you scream." And the truth is Will was set on it from the start, but hearing Jack's description low and longing in his ear builds the flames even higher.

"Make me scream if you can, Jack," he says, and responds ardently when Jack kisses his mouth like a wild thing. Jack pulls a small jar of amber colored oil from his discarded clothes that, unstoppered, smells of cloves. Then he is standing in front of Will again, his slick fingers kneading at Will's shoulder blades, rubbing the sweet-smelling stuff into Will's skin like he's anointing Ganymede.

"I'll tell you what I'm going to do to you, darling," Jack croons, his hands moving slowly down Will's back. And he does, in an obscene litany, keeping his eyes fixedly on Will, who is starting to go a bit foggy round the edges and leans back on the wheel for support. He's so lost in the cadence of Jack's voice and the world of pleasure it promises that he's taken by surprise when the first finger works itself inside his body. He tenses instinctively.

"Breathe soft," Jack soothes him. "Wait just a minute. It'll ease." And he's right. Will's muscles unclench soon enough and Jack moves his finger in and up and suddenly Will's been hit by lightning.

"Jack! What—!"

"Like I told you, love."

"Again! Do it again, Jack."

"Don't you think for a moment I won't," and he does. He hits that spot again and again and there are additional fingers, but Will's beyond caring. He only wants more. Jack is directing him now, spreading Will's arms behind him to grip the wheel pegs and lifting one of his legs to wrap round Jack's waist.

"Up you come, now," and Will's other leg is around Jack's waist and Jack finally finally pushes in, his face a rictus of pleasure bordering on pain. It burns. Oh, it burns. But deliciously. Will cries out, pushes himself down. Jack's hands cover his on the pegs, gripping as that sinful mouth flexes open and shut without sound.

Will writhes, pinned in place up against the wheel, desperate for more sensation. "Move, Jack!" And Jack does. In and in and in, gasping with it.

"William, by the devil... Best thing I've ever felt. Ah!"

He's hitting that place on every stroke now. Twisting. Pushing. Driving Will mad.

Jack buries his head in Will's shoulder and fucks him strong and sharp like the world is ending, and Will's cock is rubbing between them and he hurtles over the edge with a sob that's more like a scream. Jack lifts his head, eyes unfocused. He latches his mouth to Will's ferociously and then tips his face to the night and howls his release.


Will isn't sure he ever wants to move again, but his muscles are shaking with the effort of holding himself up. He gingerly unwraps his legs from Jack and promptly collapses to the deck when he tries to stand. Jack falls bonelessly with him.

They lie there until Jack drags his head around and noses appreciatively at Will's shoulder. "Mmm," he says. "Said I'd do it. Make you scream. Don't let it be said Captain Jack Sparrow doesn't fulfill his promises." He lifts his head, and his face is soft with the drowsy aftermath of lust. Will huffs a laugh.

"I can think of many promises Captain Jack Sparrow has not fulfilled. Pirate, remember?"

"How could I forget after a spot of the best plundering man's ever known?"

Will smacks him softly and they lapse into satiated silence again. The waves rock and Will smiles to himself. He thinks about feeling the sea and about how long ago it was that he gave up on being wanted by Jack Sparrow. He's never been happier to be proved wrong. And in such a thorough fashion. He stretches and relishes the aches in various parts of his anatomy. He'd be happy to drift off to sleep now, but a thought niggles at him.

"Jack," he says and receives a faint inquisitive noise in reply, muffled under Jack's mass of hair. "You said 'finally', Jack."

"Said a great many things, 'f you r'call." Jack sounds immensely (and deservedly) pleased with himself. His grin bears this out as he rolls to his side to face Will.

"Yes, but among them was 'finally', as in 'Such as me finally fucking...'" Will stammers to a halt, flushing red. Seems he can still be embarrassed after all.

"Ah yes," Jack says, full of indolent pride. "I did indeed. It may have escaped your attention, dear William, but my interest in fucking for the last year has been confined to your comely self."

This does take Will by surprise, as his shocked face no doubt communicates to his captain.

"Now, what could possibly be so surprising about me wanting to have coition solely with you? If you haven't noticed, you're quite the best looking thing the Caribbean's ever seen, yours truly being perhaps the sole exception. And there's none I'd rather have with me in a spot of trouble or a quiet moment, neither."

"Then why, all this time, did you say nothing?"

Jack looks at him perplexed. "P'raps not said, Will, but most assuredly implied. Those first months you were aboard, I touched you on just about every pretext I could think up. I couldn't keep my eyes off you. You remember the time I taught you to feel the sea? I made no attempts at concealing my intentions that day, and well you knew it. So when you didn't appear reciprocal, I let it alone."

Will thinks this is as sure a proof of Destiny's ironic sense of humor as anything. Each of them has convinced himself that the other is the indifferent party, and each has then resigned himself (quite unnecessarily) to a solitary fate. "So you thought I was uninterested, and then you just... went without?"

"Aye, lad." Jack shrugs. "It'll be the best for Captain Jack or it'll be none at all. And as concerns obliging company, I've had enough of it to know that it certainly ain't the best if it's paid for or procured in less than voluntary circumstances."

Will smiles. "Well, I would consider these circumstances voluntary, Jack." He glances pointedly down at their bare, sticky bodies.

"Mmm. That they were. Enthusiastically so."



"And they'd be voluntarily repeated, where I'm concerned."

Jack smiles at this, not lewdly or wickedly or cunningly, as he often does. No, this smile is simple and genuine and stretches across his entire face. He holds out his hand to Will's. They shake firmly, and Jack pulls Will down to settle against him as he says, "Then we have an accord."