|Norrington saw neither hide nor hair of Will Turner for the next two days. It was pointless to worry; the firebrand was old enough to look after himself, and maybe it was a good thing that their paths didn't cross for a while.
He sat under a tree, careful not to lean his still hurting head against the trunk. His shirt, rumpled into a ball and soaked in the pool, was pressed firmly to his eye. It was swollen and hurt; in addition, he had a pounding headache. Quite a blow! He had underestimated young Mr. Turner.
Maybe he shouldn't have said anything at all, and just let Will rant. But it was getting to them both, being here on this isle, with no one but each other for company. Sooner or later, they would have had to talk about Elizabeth, anyway.
Norrington sighed. All these last weeks, his greatest wish – beside escaping from this island and shooting Jack Sparrow – had been not to have to see Will Turner for a while. And now that the young man was gone, he missed him. A strange thing to discover. He had hated Will's off-key singing while he collected firewood or carved something, had been annoyed by his loud snoring and seriously disgusted by his habit of biting his nails.
How obnoxious Will was, constantly ignoring the natural distance between their social classes! Norrington knew very well that he did look like a pirate at the moment, with his dirty, shabby clothes and matted hair. But in his mind, he still wore the uniform of the Royal Navy and a wig. Who was Will Turner, a simple blacksmith, to think himself on a par with him?
And now he sat here all alone, and didn't like it one bit.
A shadow fell over his legs, and he looked up, wincing when the back of his head touched the trunk.
"I carved some dice," Will said, holding out his hand and presenting his handiwork. There was an expression of mingled regret and anger on his face.
"Is this Turnerese for 'I apologise for my outrageous behaviour', Mr. Turner?" Norrington asked.
"I carved dice. If you want, we can play. It's better than fighting, don't you agree?"
"Indeed, it looks like you've found the perfect way to ensure world peace," Norrington replied. "We should export some dice to France. A jolly good idea."
Will didn't reply, just arched an eyebrow, and Norrington decided to let the matter rest. This was as much in the way of an apology he would ever get from Will Turner.
"Let us play then. What's your bet?" he asked.
Will let out a sigh of relief, then sat down beside Norrington in the soft sand.
"How about the British Empire? If you win, you'll be king. If you lose, I'll keep it."
Norrington laughed out loud. It was the first time Will had seen the man laugh, and that simple act transformed his face completely. Will had always wondered why Elizabeth had been able to find good words for the commodore, who was nothing more than a walking collection of rules and laws. Maybe he had been wrong in his assessment?
"I really doubt I would be the kind of king the British Empire needs, Mr. Turner, so I suggest you keep it for the time being. How about fishing? The loser will do two days of fishing duty."
Will, who hated gutting fish with a flaming passion, agreed immediately.
"Make that three days, and we have a deal."
He offered his hand to Norrington to confirm the bet, and the man didn't hesitate to shake it.
"Let us begin," Norrington said, and a heated game of dice began. Fortuna had no favourite; once Will won, then Norrington, and so they spent the evening. Dusk had already settled in when they played the all-deciding last round, and in the end, Will was the lucky winner.
"I won! That means three days fishing for you!" Will cheered. "You'll chase after those slippery little buggers, getting your back burnt, while I sit in the shade under a tree and give you orders!"
Norrington laughed again.
"Three days fishing it is," he confirmed. He offered Will his hand. "Agreed?"
"Agreed!" Will replied. He had a firm handshake, Norrington noticed. Will sat shoulder to shoulder with him, a big grin on his face.
"Will I get a chance for revenge?"
"Probably. I also hate collecting firewood."
It was the smile. Or the mirth in Will's eyes. Or his loneliness, the need for a human touch. Even more likely, it was a momentary insanity that made Norrington lean forward and brush Will's lips with his own. That brief touching of skin really didn't deserve the name 'kiss', but both knew without the shadow of a doubt that it had been a kiss, no matter how misguided.
Norrington sat paralysed; all he could do was stare at Will, who looked equally mortified. What the hell had come over him, to do such an outrageous thing? This was Will Turner, good grief! He didn't want him!
But that was a lie. The last two months passed through his memory, and whether he liked it or not, Norrington had to admit to himself that he did want Will. A lot. But he would never have him. A fine spectacle that would make – a former commodore of the Royal Navy hanging from the gallows!
"I…" he began to apologise, but Will, able to move again, got up, cutting off his attempt. There was no hatred in his eyes, no disgust, just confusion and puzzlement.
"Why did you do that?" he asked, touching his mouth as if Norrington had hit him.
Norrington could only offer a helpless shrug. He couldn't put into words how he felt. He longed for something he couldn't express.
Will shook his head.
"So that's what you were been punished for," he stated. "And you punished men for something you'd done yourself."
Norrington wanted to protest, explain himself, but Will did not give him the chance. He turned around and left without hurry, well aware that he wouldn't be followed.
Norrington buried his face in his hands, unable to take the sight of Will Turner disappearing into the jungle again.
* * *
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|WITHOUT FAIL 5/7
by Molly Joyful