honorat: (Jack and Will by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
By Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Then acquit me, Disney. You have your profit; I’m of no further value to you.

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] geek_mama_2, for the wonderful beta work; I’ll buy you a hat—a really big one.

Links to previous chapters:
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

* * * * *

Drawn Steel

The creaking rumble of the great gears seized Will’s attention the minute he raised the latch of the smithy door. For one instant, hope stirred like the brush of dove’s wings against his heart. Perhaps Master Brown had roused from his stupor and today they could work together again. Carefully, Will closed the door, set the latch back in place and turned to peer into the shop. The lift in his spirits lasted only until his eyes adjusted to the gloom.

The shop appeared empty. The only motion came from the donkey, frantically charging around its stone circle. With quick steps, Will descended to the loading dock, crouched with one hand to the ledge, and leapt to the dirt floor. Holding out an arm to the donkey, Will moved to its side and managed to halt the frightened animal. Soothingly, he ran one hand along its coarse mane, bringing the other up to stroke its quivering muzzle. The poor little creature was terrified. Concerned, Will wrapped a comforting arm around its shaggy neck, continuing to rub his hand up and down its nose. The donkey made a plaintive rusty gate sound. Whatever could be wrong with it?

He raised his head and scanned the shop, a little worry nipping at the edges of his mind. Had something happened to Master Brown? Now that the gears had stopped, the forge grew as silent as it had been when he’d left with the commodore’s sword. He could feel the donkey heaving a sigh of relief in his arms. Judging that the animal was sufficiently calm, Will straightened and stepped up from the stone circle. In the shadows he could make out the slumbering figure of the mastersmith. Now that he was listening for them, he could hear the man’s inebriated snores.

The heat of the forge in the afternoon was stifling, so he set about shedding his tight coat and prying a few buttons open on his weskit as he strode over to where Master Brown’s short, drunken bulk sprawled against the rotary grinder. The irony that the highlight of his day was discovering that this man had not moved did not escape him. His smile twisted wryly at himself for having hoped this time might be different.

“Right where I left you,” he said softly, the breath of his laugh catching in the unaccountable tightness of his throat.

Will turned away from his master, mentally berating himself for wasting time, when he stiffened, a frown wrinkling his eyebrows together. Even though Master Brown seemed as well as could be expected, the feeling of wrongness in the smithy intensified. Something had changed. Automatically, Will threw his coat on the hook where he always did, but he didn’t stop looking uneasily about the forge. His gaze sharpened as it caught on the anvil. Across its surface lay a medium-sized wedge peen hammer.

“Not where I left you,” Will murmured, tilting his head quizzically.

Had the mastersmith been up while Will had been out? Surely he could not have done so and replaced himself so exactly. Nor had Master Brown ever left his tools lying around, even when thoroughly foxed. It was one habit that seemed to come as instinctively as breathing to the man. Naturally tidy himself, Will had picked up that habit as well. Will’s eyebrows drew further together in puzzlement. What was the meaning of this mystery? And what had it to do with the donkey’s state of agitation?

As he raised his eyes, still seeking the source of his apprehension, an anomaly snagged his attention. On the workbench beside the forge, a battered tri-corn covered the small anvil—a hat that did not belong to anyone Will knew. Its dull leather was scuffed and a deep groove ran through the top of its crown. Will felt chill fingers creep along his spine. Some stranger had been in the smithy. Someone had been using the blacksmith’s tools for some unknown purpose. Who could it have been? And why? Searching for some clue as to the identity of the owner of the hat, Will reached cautiously for its brim.

Just as his fingertips brushed the leather, a steel blade struck the back of his hand with a stinging smack.

* * * * *

Deep in the shadows behind the forge, Jack Sparrow watched silently and warily as a young man entered the smithy through the same door the pirate had used earlier. Just how badly Jack’s escape plans were now scuppered remained to be determined. At least the new arrival was not wearing a scarlet coat. He was dressed painfully neatly and plainly in colours that blended completely into the dust and wood of the shop. His dark hair was pulled back severely in a tight queue. Just an ordinary citizen, then, barely more than a boy, really, in spite of his height. If he were a customer, he would likely leave. That would be the ideal scenario—which didn’t give Jack much hope of it, considering the way his day had been going.

Sure enough, the young man scanned the shop as though he already knew something had gone wrong. Then he vaulted to the floor and moved swiftly to still the donkey. There was a tight athleticism in his actions that did not bode well. Unless Jack missed his guess, this boy, not that drunken sot, was responsible for the order in this smithy. If he were that sorry little man’s son, Jack would be willing to bet his mother had been playing fast and loose with her chaste treasure. One thing was certain—an extraneous pirate in the shop was not going to remain unnoticed by those sharp eyes for long. Jack tightened his grip on the hilt of his sword. He might have to be persuading this youth rather forcefully that the better part of valour would be to let said pirate depart in peace.

As the boy soothed that darned mule back into its former immobile state, Jack rapidly ran through his options. Slipping inconspicuously away was out of the question. He would have to step out of hiding in order to reach any of the doors. While he might dash for the door that led to the main street, he could still hear the shouts of marines from that direction. He tensed as the young man came towards him. He hadn’t been spotted yet, but it was only a matter of time. The kid was already suspicious and alert, checking first on the snoring sleeper, then scrutinizing the shop.

Then the boy caught sight of the hammer. Jack had a moment to curse overly-conscientious, nit-pickingly tidy, gimlet-eyed blacksmiths before those quick eyes leapt to the telltale hat, perched on the workbench. Damn! Jack cursed the unknown woman who had chosen an inconveniently sharp-witted sire for this whelp. Why couldn’t he run afoul of some lumpish lout who’d scarcely notice the appearance of a fully rigged ship, let alone a small, non-descript leather object that just happened to be the precious possession of a pirate who very much did not want to be introduced? A pirate who would be extremely happy to take that hat that was causing the young man such disturbance and disappear forever. Was that too much to ask of Fate?

Apparently so. The kid reached out to pick up Jack’s hat.

Discovery was only moments away. Jack Sparrow preferred to choose his moments. With a swift flick of his wrist he brought the flat of his blade down sharply on those knuckles.

* * * * *

Will jerked his hand back and stared wildly into the shadows as a figure from his nightmares emerged into a shaft of sunlight. The darkened steel blade of a well-used cutlass advanced in steady threat against his chest. Fear and rage seized the blacksmith’s apprentice as he gave ground, stepping carefully backwards. This was no respectable man, no waiting customer. No decent citizen would wear such barbaric gaudery tied into such a savage tangle of braids and knotted strands of hair. No upright and honourable person would tie that mess of hair in such a wild red scarf, nor line his eyes so appallingly with such a strange black substance. And no sane man would wear his beard in such ridiculous, stringy, beaded braids. The despicable creature was dirty and probably diseased. The broken manacles on those grimy wrists, the still-damp appearance of his shabby clothing told the rest of the story. Will felt a wave of complete revulsion.

This was not even an ordinary criminal. This villain was a member of that cursed breed of human refuse who preyed without mercy or conscience on the helpless—one of those demon spawn whose slaughters and cruelties reverberated the length and breadth of the Spanish Main. He had seen beasts like this one slowly, and with evident relish, torture and kill men, women and children. He had lost a friend who had been like a brother to the depredations of such animals. And this brute had dared to lay his filthy hands on Elizabeth!

Fighting back the nausea of memory, Will resisted the temptation to throw himself at the intruder and strangle him with his bare hands. He could not let his anger make him stupid. He was unarmed, and the wretch holding that cutlass, even if his bent elbow and relaxed stance announced that he had no intention of striking immediately, would have no compunction about running him through if he felt threatened. Although every nerve in his body revolted, Will continued to fall back before the swordsman’s advance.

“You're the one they're hunting,” Will said. “The pirate.” The loathing vibrated in his voice like waves of heat shimmering off stone.

* * * * *

As Jack herded the young blacksmith into the light on the end of his blade, old memory stirred uneasily, like the faint quiver in the leach of a sail before a shift in the wind. There was something about the kid’s face . . . The heavy, straight brows? The dark, glowering eyes? Something in the set of the jaw, or the arrogant angle of the head? Jack couldn’t quite grasp what it was, but he could almost believe he’d done this sometime, somewhere in the past.

Tilting his head inquiringly, a puzzled frown on his face, Jack asked, “You seem somewhat familiar. Have I threatened you before?”

Nothing about that stern young face moved except for the lips. “I make a point of avoiding familiarity with pirates,” the boy said. The words were quiet, almost monotone, but they smoldered at the surface of such a profound inferno of hatred that Jack had to resist the urge to back away from the poison of it.

“Ah,” he breathed in comprehension, bringing his chin up haughtily. “Well, then it would be a shame to put a black mark on your record,” he agreed inclining his head in the slightest of bows. Allowing his sword to fall away from the boy’s chest, he stepped back towards the workbench. “So, if you'll excuse me…” Jack turned to retrieve his hat. Now would be a very good time to get the hell out of this infernal pit.

* * * * *

The instant the pirate’s eyes were off him, Will whirled and grabbed for the first blade that came to his hand from the rack around the central shaft of the gears where they were stored. The sword sang free with a metallic slice that Will recognized instantly. He brought up the blade in a classic point-in-line opening move of aggression, intensely satisfied. There was something completely right about the fact that he should have chosen this blade—the blade Joe had crafted for Gordon so many years ago. The small sword did not have the reach with which Will was capable of fighting now, but it was still greater than that of the cutlass belonging to the pirate. It would do very well.

Somehow, it was fitting that the sword Gordon had never been able to use against pirates should finally have a chance to fulfill its purpose. It was appropriate that this magnificent weapon that Joe had crafted should shed the blood of a pirate the likes of which had taken his life. It was part of a perfect pattern that he, Will Turner, who had been the only survivor of a brutal pirate attack, should wield this blade to eliminate one of those filthy bastards from the face of the earth.

Arm straight and steady, Will held the point of his sword at the pirate.

To his surprise, the man did not react with fear or even with anger. Instead, he faced Will, arms loose at his sides, cutlass only half raised, and stepped into range of the hostile blade. Its point was nearly at his throat. The expression on the man’s face was one of amused condescension.

“Do you think this wise, boy—crossing blades with a pirate?” The low, rough voice held a grace note of laughter, as though the man were humouring a child, not facing his executioner. But there was also an undercurrent of warning, of danger, that Will had never faced before in any opponent.

Nevertheless, the pirate’s reactions were immaterial. A good swordsman did not allow emotion to spoil his concentration on his goal. He certainly did not allow his opponent to goad him into losing his temper. Bringing his arm up a notch, Will replied, his own voice quiet with menace and accusation, “You threatened Miss Swann.”

* * * * *

Bloody hell! Jack had managed to tangle affairs with a knight in shining armour, bound to avenge a slight to a lady’s honour. God, he hated chivalry. What kind of villainy did that blasted boy imagine he’d been up to? Virgil was right: there was no evil thing more swift than Rumour. No doubt that story had lost nothing in the telling. He wished he’d had a chance to be guilty of half the things that kid must think he’d done. It didn’t look like he was going to be able to talk his way out of this one. That steel blade the whelp was brandishing in his face had more flex in it than the boy’s spine. And he’d seen obsidian with more softness in it than the matt black of that young man’s eyes. He was going to have to fight his way out of this smithy. Jack hated situations that deteriorated to this point.

At least a blacksmith wasn’t likely to be a foe worthy of a pirate’s steel. He’d just disarm the unmannerly whelp and be on his way. Bringing up his cutlass until it rang against the boy’s sword, Jack slid his blade in a clever twist along the edge of the opposing blade, foible to forte and back again. The silken glissade of steel on steel whispered mockingly.

So, this stick of a kid thought the big, bad pirate had done dastardly deeds and terrified little Miss Swann. Much he knew of that young lady! Though perhaps Jack had frightened her a bit at the end there. And so the pirate smiled sardonically and responded to the charge in a husky voice, “Only a little.”

Then Captain Jack Sparrow attacked.

TBC
Ch. 6: A Clash of Steel
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