honorat: (Jack and Will by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
Author: Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Puts a chill in the bones how many honest writers have been claimed by this franchise.

Summary: Jack meet Will. Will meet Jack. Quick! Separate them before somebody gets killed! More of the epic of the blacksmith and the pirate. More movie novelization and missing scenes. We have rejoined our regularly scheduled program.

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] geekmama, for the wonderful beta work.


Prologue: To Miss An Appointment
Ch. 1: Pirate Attack
Ch. 2: Unrestrained Piracy
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 1
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 2
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 3
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 4
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 5
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 6a
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 6b
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 7
Ch. 4: Drawn Steel


* * * * *

A Clash of Swords

* * * * *

Will Turner had never faced across drawn steel a man whose life he intended to take. Nor had he ever fought an opponent who was trying to kill him. Sheer rage had propelled him into this duel, careless of the consequences, heedless of the pirate’s warning. But Will had never let his emotions control his swordsmanship for long.

As the shock of the pirate’s first attack shuddered along his blade, the young blacksmith wrenched his mind away from long-held custom. This would be no contest with the best two out of three trials.

The man who won the first bout in this match would live. The man who lost would die. It was as simple as that.

He could make no mistake because a mistake would be fatal.

With the prudence characteristic of his fighting, Will did not leap immediately to the counter attack. Instead he moved from one ward to another, retiring a little at each thrust, all his fear-heightened senses trained on the pirate. Just as he had always done since his first fight with Gordon, he sought to insinuate himself into the mind of the man he must defeat.

His world narrowed to the telltale flicker of an eye, the minute giveaway tensing of a single muscle, the slightest shift of weight or breath of air that preceded a motion.

Will was not impatient. He could wait for his enemy to serve himself to him. In due time, when he had absorbed all he could learn of his opponent’s style and skill, he would close measure and take the attack to the pirate.

As he allowed the man to drive him back, Will felt a grim satisfaction. Let the pirate think he had an inexperienced boy on the retreat. He would learn his mistake soon enough.

The musical strike of swords sang throughout the smithy as Will gave way with sure steps, parrying each of the pirate’s blows precisely and carefully. When he was sure of his ground, Will brought the fast action to a dead halt. For an instant, the two men stood motionless, blades straining, neither daring to move a muscle, watching each other and waiting for an opening like two poisonous snakes poised for attack.

Then a predatory smile touched the corners of the blacksmith’s mouth. For the first time, he, William Turner, would face a pirate, not as a mewling, cowering child, but as a man with the skill and the fortitude and the strength to exact retribution. The sense that each blow must be harder and faster than ever before, that he must not pull back at a touch or first blood, that he would instead follow through, driving his blade to its mortal conclusion, filled him like the roaring of a hurricane.

With contemptuous ease, Will Turner struck back. And now it was the pirate who was forced to retreat.

* * * * *

Jack was no stranger to seeing his own death in the eyes of an opponent. Over the years he seemed to have provoked a number of individuals and organizations into attempting to put a final period to the legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. However, he had rarely faced an antagonist this ravenous to kill—as though the blacksmith were dying of a thirst only a pirate’s blood could quench.

Jack, on the other hand, had no desire to see this foolish, heroic boy’s blood mix with the dust of this shop floor. Once, when he had been nearer the lad’s age, he might have matched him, fury for fury, until one of them lay dying at the other’s feet. But such useless waste of life had long since disgusted him. Now Jack Sparrow was all too aware of the price that could be paid and of who could be asked to pay it. He had already refused to allow the governor’s daughter to purchase his freedom with her life. He would not ask her hotheaded champion to pay that final coin if he could find any other way out of this pickle.

However, Jack’s hope that the boy would lose his nerve under that first attack seemed doomed to disappointment. Unfortunately, the blacksmith’s voracious hunger to slaughter a pirate was accompanied by a frightening level of skill, totally unexpected in a respectable tradesman.

It was just his luck to happen upon the only smith in the Caribbean who really knew how to fight, he thought grimly, watching his longed-for escape fade as he beat a hasty retreat.

The lad made no useless or complicated feints. All of his motions were economical—never three moves when one would do. He pushed his feints into real threats against which Jack had no choice but to respond, leaving the pirate scrambling to recover from his parry to meet the second intention attack. And even if the young blacksmith had given him time to counter-attack, it would have done Jack no good because the boy never let his guard slip or uncovered himself.

It had been . . . a very long time . . . since Jack had faced blade work of this caliber.

As the clash of steel on steel shivered up his sword arm, the unsettling feeling of familiarity intensified. He had done this before. And not—he felt puzzled—with an enemy. However, the only warmth in this lad’s eyes was burning, blistering rage.

Up until now, Jack had been toying with his opponent, trying out his paces, hoping to probe a weakness that he could exploit, or trigger some prudence in this young fire-eater, that would lead the lad to step aside and save them both from doing something regrettable. That tactic was manifestly a failure.

As the pirate continued backing further into the shop in his effort to avoid the murderous point of that expertly wielded sword, he considered his next move. Clearly his plan to disarm the whelp was going to have to be revised. Jack knew very well when he was outclassed. However, his youthful opponent had one Achilles heel, as it were—one slight vulnerability that Jack could perhaps exploit and thus save his own valuable hide. Whatever his plebian origins, this blacksmith fought like a gentleman, courteous and highly refined. It had been more years than Jack cared to remember since he had been forced to duel according to polite custom, but he knew the style when he had to cross it. This boy’s noble, if misguided, adherence to honour was Jack’s only chance to extricate his posterior from the mess in which he now found himself.

Jack tended to place more reliance on his agility and cunning than on settled principles. His swordplay veered towards the wildly impulsive and imaginative. But he trusted he had mastered l’art de donner et de ne pas recevoir sufficiently to evade his self-proclaimed executioner.

In the end, every fight was won or lost first in the mind. Skill mattered, but craft mattered more.

* * * * *

As he had been taught, Will drove his enemy before him, giving the pirate no opportunity to surprise him with an attack in time. Sparrow’s parries, when he managed to find them, could not be followed with ripostes because he was still moving backwards. The safest opponent, Will thought with satisfaction, was a retreating opponent.

He had nearly pinned the pirate against the forge when, unexpectedly, the man beat aside Will’s blade and disengaged.

And stopped.

Even though a fighter never disengaged and stopped, but always disengaged as a parry and then a strike.

Will frowned, perplexed, and studied the pirate, waiting for him to raise his weapon in signal that he was prepared to resume fighting, but Sparrow seemed to have decided it was time for conversation. Once again, he appeared oblivious to the threat of Will’s sword aimed at his chest as he sauntered forward, cutlass insouciantly at his side.

“You know what you’re doing. I’ll give you that,” the pirate conceded, as though he were commending a student. “Excellent form.” He punctuated the compliment with two ringing taps of his blade on Will’s sword. Then his eyes narrowed in doubt. “But how’s your footwork? If I step here . . .” Sparrow sidestepped to the right and opened the attack in prime, high and inside.

The words, so like those of a master swordsman at practice, lulled Will into the familiar pattern. Instinctively he assumed a similar posture and met the attack with a parry that transformed immediately into a counter-attack. The memory of these motions lived in his muscles; the rhythm of these strokes drummed in his pulse.

Pass, sidestep, volte, traverse. Leading with the body, foot landing simultaneously with a strong, balanced block, beat, attack, counter-attack. Maintaining the ideal distance without allowing his opponent in too close.

Dust rose in puffs of air from hushed footfalls as measured and precise as any cotillion, but far swifter, set to the perilous, elegant music of steel clashing on steel.

For a moment the two of them froze, swords binding forte to forte.

“Very good,” Sparrow said approvingly. They might have been drilling in the salle d’armes rather than maneuvering to kill one another. Counteracting the binding with a circular parry, the pirate reversed direction. “And now I step again.”

Again they resumed the deadly, intimate dance of swords, circling in lethal minuet amidst the glittering passage of blows.

With a final lunge, Sparrow drove Will back against the forge, but rather than press his advantage, the pirate dropped his arm, tilted his head, and with a strange smile, said, “Ta.”

Then he sheathed his cutlass, turned, and walked away.

Stunned, Will realized the pirate had maneuvered himself in between his opponent and the door. This had not been a test of swordsmanship, but of strategy. And he, Will Turner, had failed the test.

However, he had not yet lost the match. The apprentice smith weighed the sword in his hand, balancing.

* * * * *

One good thing about a fight with an honourable man, Jack decided, was that you could turn your back on him and walk away without expecting a sword between your shoulder blades. For all that this boy wanted a pirate’s blood so badly he was salivating for it, Jack knew he wouldn’t be breaking the rules to get it. Not particularly logical, but he wasn’t complaining.

Sauntering over to the loading dock, Jack vaulted lightly onto it and stepped eagerly up to the door. Relief that he’d be getting away at such small cost gave his step buoyancy. He was in one piece, and he’d been able to leave the kid in one piece, too. He could feel the young blacksmith’s eyes drilling holes in his back, but he didn’t turn around.

The silken slice of air hissing by his ear was Jack’s only warning that his bright plan was scuppered. Then the solid thunk of steel impaling timber shook the entire door.

Where once there had been merely a wooden bar, the lifting of which would free one eager-to-depart pirate from this pestilential smithy and its sanguinary smith, there was now a barricade through which a sword stuck fast, humming like an angry hornet.

Every vertebra in Jack’s spine came crawling up his neck. He stared at the blade under his nose until his eyes nearly crossed. That was . . . too bloody close!

With one hand, he grasped the pommel of the gently quivering sword. The vibration stopped, leaving the sword distressingly steady. Gripping the hilt with both hands, Jack tugged.

Nothing happened.

He tugged harder.

The bar and the door rattled, but the sword stayed driven into the wood. Jack added his full weight to his efforts, jumping up and down in increasing frustration, trying to break the slender strip of metal free from its oaken imprisonment. However, Lady Luck was having nothing to do with Captain Jack Sparrow this day.

He was going to have to find another way out. Jack turned and surveyed the only obstacle to that goal. The boy stood by the forge where Jack had left him, looking insufferably pleased with himself.

“That is a wonderful trick!” Jack exclaimed, his smile as insincere as his enthusiasm.

In a jangle of broken chains, he retraced his steps to the loading dock and strode onto the cart ramped and blocked against it.

“Except, once again,” he pointed out, “you are between me and my way out.”

Swaying with studied nonchalance, he descended the sloped bed of the cart. If it let him shake the wobble out of his knees, who was to know?

“And now . . . ” Jack smirked in satisfaction as he drew his cutlass with a sharp ringing of steel against scabbard, “. . . you have no weapon.”

Alas, what Jack had taken for nervous glances over the boy’s shoulder turned out to be no such thing.

The young blacksmith lunged for the forge and drew forth a sword being heated for some small repair. The air in the smithy sizzled with its fire as he brought it up to block the pirate’s blade.

The donkey took one look at the glowing metal, let out its frantic, rusty-gate bleat, and began charging around its circle again, setting all the gears in motion.

Jack knew exactly how it felt. The scar on his arm twinged in phantom pain. It did not matter that he knew a red-hot blade would have no strength against tempered steel. What mattered was quashing the utter revolt of all his nerves and sinews that wanted to join that flea-bitten donkey. Somewhere inside his head, a gibbering madman was flailing in frantic circles screaming that that was molten steel, and there was no way in hell he was going near such a substance with his flesh ever again.

Jack ignored the ravings of his brain. He refused to acknowledge the fact that the sweat-dripping heat of the forge was now ice in his blood. A slight widening of his eyes was his body’s only betrayal.

On the other hand, now was not the time for heroic stupidity. In the space of a heartbeat, Jack Sparrow desperately scanned the room, seized upon a plan, and dived for refuge behind the great central shaft that turned the gears.

*****
TBC

Date: 2010-08-22 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] veronica-rich.livejournal.com
I think that's the only time I've seen 60 seconds turned into an epic battle of strategy. ;-)

But done well, I'm not complaining. When I opened LJ and saw this on my f-list, I got all excited. It's been way too long since I got to read something in this story. Go you!!

(I thought I linked here from [livejournal.com profile] pirategasm! LOL! :-P )
Edited Date: 2010-08-22 08:59 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-08-23 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Ha! Yes, I timed it and it took me about 8 minutes to read. There is no direct translation between film that showcases action and the novel that showcases thought. A simple description of what happened would not have captured what that scene did for me as I watched it--so you get the epic battle :D I did warn you about that in my summary. I'm happy to hear that you are enjoying this. Thank you so much.

Date: 2010-08-22 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] immortal-jedi.livejournal.com
*blink Blink*

A new chapter in this?

WOW! Also, you nailed Jack and Will's fighting strategies! Well done.

Date: 2010-08-23 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I know. What has it been? Four years since my last update of this story. Good grief! Time is definitely using its winged chariot.

I'm glad you found Jack and Will in character here after my long vacation from them. Thank you so much for commenting.

Date: 2010-08-22 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myystic.livejournal.com
You're back! *happy dance*

Date: 2010-08-23 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm BAAAAAAACCCCKK! It's been a long time. But I never forgot you all! *blows smooches*

Date: 2010-08-22 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladymouse2.livejournal.com
Insert ultrasonic squeal here...

I've been beaming like an idiot every time I've spotted your name back again among the posts and now you've returned to "Worthy of His Steel". Even though I am deeply devoted to "Crossing the Bar" as completely new material, your way with fleshing out those moments within the first movie have added such resonance that I'm thrilled to see this.

And you've lost nothing of your skills in the absence, ma'am. Here we finally get to the long anticipated fight and there's no hint of anticlimax. In fact, by telling not only Will's story but the Brown family's as well, you make far more comprehensible Will's sheer rage and loathing of the pirate.

I love the strategy revealed rather than just swordplay described; but the very description, full of the terminology that lends authenticity and immediacy, casts the action in such fragmented urgency that the mind's eye literally SEES it in all it;'s flickering, deadly ballet.

and your words in general throughout...! God, how I love the way you refashion metaphor completely fresh without straining for effect. The new context in which you place them gives not only a novel viewpoint but a strong image of both meaning AND sight.

>a wooden bar, the lifting of which would free one eager-to-depart pirate from this pestilential smithy and its sanguinary smith, there was now a barricade through which a sword stuck fast, humming like an angry hornet.<

And in passages like the above you even capture the period ornament and charmingly wry humor of the script dialog.

So, many bravas and huzzahs...and er, greed for more...

Date: 2010-09-12 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
*Removes cotton from ears* You can see I was prepared for you this time!

I know everyone would like me to hustle along and finish the epic, but I'm glad you enjoyed this. I find it's good to go back to my source material after such a long hiatus. It lets me get used to hearing the characters in my head again.

you've lost nothing of your skills in the absence
That's a relief. Having seen so many people drop out of fandom and never be able to return, no matter how much they'd like to, I particularly promised myself that I'd finish my WIPs. Of course since one of them is CotBP--The Novel, that's likely to keep me here for a long time.

there's no hint of anticlimax
When one attempts to put into words such a visual, visceral scene, it feels a bit impossible. I'm always pleased to know that I've managed, if not to recreate it, at least to create something entertaining as well. And it seems most people arrive at this point in the story far more sympathetic and admiring of Will than they started--which is my nefarious plot. Speaking of Will-admirers, is dear tortugablack still a fan? I know she always wanted me to finish this story.

I love the strategy revealed rather than just swordplay described; but the very description, full of the terminology that lends authenticity and immediacy, casts the action in such fragmented urgency that the mind's eye literally SEES it in all it;'s flickering, deadly ballet.
The Muse is purring over this comment--I feared the focus on strategy and the thoughts of both men would mire that swift, glittering fight in such clay it could never be discerned. Much relief that you found it kept moving in spite of its burden of words.

And for all your other lovely compliments, much thanks. I've had such fun with this. It's great to know you share the enjoyment. I'm back to teaching now, so updates will be slow, but I'll keep plugging away.
Edited Date: 2010-09-12 06:05 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-08-22 09:51 pm (UTC)
ext_15536: Fuschias by Geek Mama (Jack - Threatened)
From: [identity profile] geekmama.livejournal.com
So wonderful, it adds so much to our enjoyment of our favorite movie. This is what a novelization should be.

And it is equally wonderful to have you back among us.

*Enormous Hugs*

Date: 2010-09-20 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you're enjoying the novelization. Since Disney doesn't seem inclined to publish a good one, I seem to have to write my own. LOL.

It's wonderful to be back, if a bit randomly. Thanks for being such a constant in this universe!

*Ginormous Hugs Back*

Date: 2010-08-22 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pearlseed.livejournal.com
"The scar on his arm twinged in phantom pain. It did not matter that he knew a red-hot blade would have no strength against tempered steel. What mattered was quashing the utter revolt of all his nerves and sinews that wanted to join that flea-bitten donkey" You stun me utterly, to my very bones! What a way to remember his horror, how powerful a memory of pain, fear, and anger. Jeez-louise, this is an awesome line in a powerful reframing.

I love this story as I do my own name and I am falling in love with your story, familiar, yet so much richer, faces and voices true, actions presented in poetry, and the laginappe, the extra tasty bit that feeds my soul. Yeah, keep on keeping on, share...not my birthday anymore or near Christmas, but this feels like such a gift! Thank you.

Date: 2010-09-23 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm pleased and gratified that you found new insight in my interpretation of this so familiar scene. I too love this story and love digging into the negative space of it to see what might be lurking there. Your kind comments are a gift, too. Thank you.

Date: 2010-08-23 12:52 am (UTC)
captaintish: (PotC -- Jack Sparrow)
From: [personal profile] captaintish
*SQUEEEE*

NEW CHAPTER!!! *bookmarks to read later*

Date: 2010-09-23 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
*waves* Hi there! It's good to "see" you here!

Date: 2010-08-23 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cymbeline.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness its great to see more from you! And this coming after watching POTC with my daughter the other day. It was her first time seeing it :-)

Date: 2010-09-23 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Aww! What fun to share this story with your daughter! I'm glad you could stop by and see my little retelling. The first PotC movie was such fun and inspiration.

Date: 2010-08-23 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aletheiafelinea.livejournal.com
Aah *purrring* I'ts always exciting to get a bit of well written character analysis.
For a long time, irony strikes me in that Jack - considered a pirate, scoundrel and nothing good, is in fact far less eager to draw the other's blood and values more the other's life than Will - an archetypal hero on the post of The Most Honest Character. My private explication of this paradox is that Will sees rather a nameless figure with the label 'pirate means The Evil' than a living man. Well, hot-headed youthfulness. On the other hand, Jack is not only older and more experienced but also more inclined to accept life in all shadows of grey, as it seems to me.

One good thing about a fight with an honourable man, Jack decided, was that you could turn your back on him and walk away without expecting a sword between your shoulder blades. For all that this boy wanted a pirate’s blood so badly he was salivating for it, Jack knew he wouldn’t be breaking the rules to get it. Not particularly logical, but he wasn’t complaining.
This is brilliant!

Swaying with studied nonchalance, he descended the sloped bed of the cart. If it let him shake the wobble out of his knees, who was to know?
And this even more. *grin*

Date: 2010-10-02 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed the character analysis--I wasn't sure if it would slow the action down too much. I think you're right that age has something to do with their different attitudes. Also I agree there is a tendency in one who is the "Hero," the right or righteous one, to see things a little more in binaries--good vs. evil, black vs. white. For Will the syllogism Pirate=Evil, Jack=Pirate, therefore Jack=Evil is perfectly logical. Jack doesn't have the luxury of thinking he's right all the time.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Date: 2010-08-23 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunshine304.livejournal.com
Oh, what a treat! I love your movie novelisations (although I think I never commented on the finished ones, because that was the time when I was a mean and lazy lurker *g* - but just so you know, "Marooned", "Aboard the Dauntless" and "Daring rescue" are great. Detailed, insightful, fun!), so it's great to see an update to this!

That moment of sword-in-door is very funny (too bloody close indeed) and I love your descriptive style in general, e.g. that flailing madman in Jack's head (because, yes, so true *g*).

Date: 2010-10-02 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for the post-dated comments on my old novelizations :D And I'm thrilled to know you enjoyed this installment. It's such fun to rummage around in Jack's head, and it's always good to have company.

Date: 2010-08-23 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sharklady35.livejournal.com
> "You know what you're doing. I'll give you that." <

As can definitely be said of your description of fencing.

> Jack knew exactly how it felt. The scar on his arm twinged in phantom pain. It did not matter that he knew a red-hot blade would have no strength against tempered steel. What mattered was quashing the utter revolt of all his nerves and sinews that wanted to join that flea-bitten donkey. <

I'd not thought of that- very insightful! This chapter reinforces your rep as one of the fandom's best PotC fic-writers. And that's not a phrase I throw around!

BTW: In regard to the next chapter, I'll be most interested to read your take on exactly when Will realized he wasn't dealing with the most vicious breed of pirate. He obviously knew that by the time he released Jack from jail, as per his outtake quote:

"Why bother with that (pistol)? You could have escaped before but you weren't willing to use it."

This speaks volumes.

FFN (qwertzioup4)

Date: 2010-08-23 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Somehow, FFN deleted a part of my comment.(?)
I thought you had finished the story with the last chapter because I couldn't imagine how you (or anybody) could possibly describe the fight. But the idea of writing the character's thoughts / intentions instead is a brilliant idea.

Re: FFN (qwertzioup4)

Date: 2010-09-23 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
FFN can be a bit of a pain! I know what you mean about that fight--it is taking me forever to find a way to turn such a visual feast into something that at least carries some of the feelings it stirred. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Thank you.

Date: 2010-08-24 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] virgo-79.livejournal.com
Ohh, I'm happy, so happy, so happy to be reading new Honorat work! (In my head that's set to music.)
You remind me anew with this just why it was that I loved these characters so much; you find all their depths and flesh them out beautifully here.

There is so much to love about this, but in particular I like how you incorporate both of these characters' traumas. And the portrayal of the duel as a dance is great; that was present in the movie, but I like the detail you've given it here.

And you probably could have anticipated this, but my toes curled in joy reading this: "It had been . . . a very long time . . . since Jack had faced blade work of this caliber.
As the clash of steel on steel shivered up his sword arm, the unsettling feeling of familiarity intensified. He had done this before. And not—he felt puzzled—with an enemy. However, the only warmth in this lad’s eyes was burning, blistering rage."

As enjoyable as ever, madame!

Date: 2010-09-06 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm so happy, so happy to be reading a [livejournal.com profile] virgo_79 review again. It's been such an age since I've posted anything.

In my head that's set to music
And in my head the music is "I'm so Pretty!" *snerk*

both of these characters' traumas
Quite a few people were struck by Jack's moment of phobia--it seemed the only explanation to me for that frozen moment before he dives for cover. But you noticed Will's memory of helplessness as well. Yay! The way their histories colour this fight has always intrigued me.

duel as a dance
I'm pleased as punch that you felt this captured that deadly ballet, as it were. I think I sweated the most over that scene.

you probably could have anticipated this
You'd win that bet :D I certainly owe my picture of Jack and Bill almost entire and wholecloth from you, so I tip my hat to you for inspiring me to write Jack's memories this way.

Much thanks for your kind comments.
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