after.midnight // v.naked
Title: The Importance of Ink
Author: Tamara
Email: tamara@bitchenvy.com
Rating: PG -- just some Will and Jack friendship
Summary: A visit to Tortuga leads to rum, body art, and the reluctant sharing of friendly feelings.
Disclaimer: Will, Jack, the ship that they live on and the places they frequent do not belong to me. They belong to the wonderful world of Disney.
Distribution: If you want this crap, drop me a line.
A/N: Boredom struck. This story struck back. This is a pitiful attempt to cheer myself up. Don't know yet if it worked.

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Will Turner's first official act as a pirate hadn't been the plundering of a helpless merchant vessel or defending his captain from a band of cutthroats looking to take on the legend. It wasn't fixing the guns or hauling ropes, as Jack insisted that only made him a gun-fixing rope hauler, not a pirate. It wasn't having a drink with the crew below Pearl's decks (though a surprisingly high tolerance for alcohol earned him some much needed respect among the crew) or even commandeering a ship. Jack made it quite clear that any and all acts of piracy he'd committed while under the title of blacksmith did not count and therefore meant absolutely nothing.

No, his first act as a pirate happened two days after they'd left Port Royal behind and docked in Tortuga.

They'd been drinking for hours, their mugs never empty as Jack spun one exaggerated tale after another, when the captain disappointed his audience and dragged Will into a back room and sat him down in front of a big man covered in ink and scars. Will had taken on look at him, immediately decided being a pirate was not nearly worth the sacrifices he was bound to have to make, and made a move to get out of the chair and leave Jack and his merry band of drunken louts behind. But Jack had simply shoved him back down, slapped another mug of rum in his hand and told him to, for once in his life, be a man. Highly insulted, Will had glared at Jack, nursed his drink, and listened with only half an ear as Jack discussed which part of his body was going to bear his mark.

There was a moment during which Will vehemently protested the senseless mutilation of his body and Jack reminded him that, as his captain, it was Will's duty to do as he was ordered. Words were exchanged, swords were crossed (in a spectacularly clumsy fashion as the captain was one drink shy of drunk and the blacksmith had passed intoxication one drink back), but in the end Jack cheated and Will ended up missing a shirt.

After deciding where the tattoo would go, there was the matter of what the tattoo would be. Another scuffle ensued but this time it was Will who cheated and Jack ended up on the other side of the wooden door. By then Will was committed to the path he found himself on (or much too drunk to care) and, never one to back down from a challenge, especially one issued by his captain, he downed his rum and took his seat.

Ten minutes later, he was nursing another drink. Jack had failed to mention that tattooing hurt.

Choosing a design had been fairly simple, once Jack was taken out of the equation and the pain had sobered him up a bit. Though he'd thrown his lot in with Jack (after months and months of convincing on the captain's part and a push in the right direction from his oldest friend just before she'd gone off on her own adventure), part of him was still very much attached to who and what he was before, the things he'd left behind. But he was also very aware of the blood that flowed in his veins, the connection he felt to the sea, the bond he shared with his captain. No, it didn't take long at all to decide what mark he would carry with him forever.

When he exited the room several hours later, he found Jack sitting outside the door with a bottle in his hand and serving wench on his lap. And though he was half drunk and his chest throbbed with dull pain, Will couldn't help but smile at the familiarity of the scene.

"All done, then," Jack said, eying him cautiously as he sent the girl away and stood up from his seat. "Not too upset, I hope?"

Will shook his head as he made his way toward the door. "Not upset at all," he said, sending his captain a smile. "Quite glad you made me do it, actually." If anything the caution in Jack's eyes increased a bit. "An' what did y' get?"

Will waited until they were back on the streets before he pulled Jack over to an empty doorway. He didn't speak as Jack peered at the fresh ink staining the skin above his heart. There amongst the slightly reddened skin were Will's initials surrounded by the four things he held most dear.

"A sword, a swan, a ship, and a sparrow," Jack said as he ran his fingertips lightly over the mark. He lifted his gaze to Will's and rolled his eyes. "Trust you to turn a drunken act into somethin' romantic and heartwarmin'."

"If I'm going to be looking at the damned thing for the rest of my life, it might as well mean something," Will replied with a shrug.

"An' what does it mean, mate?" Jack asked, genuine curiosity reflected in his dark eyes.

Will gave Jack a smile. "They're just the four things closest to my heart," he said simply.

Jack raised a brow at that. "'S that your way of tellin' me you love me?" the captain asked, looking as if the very thought that Will Turner may love him would effectively bring halt to the world, and not in a good way.

It was Will's turn to roll his eyes. Reaching out, he grabbed Jack's arm and rolled up his sleeve. "Does this mean you love me?" he asked, pointing out the crossed swords above Jack's own sparrow tattoo, swords that hadn't been there until after their first adventure together. If you looked hard enough, you could see the initials WT in the hilt of one sword, the letters CJS in the hilt of the other.

Jack yanked his arm away. "No, that just means your stupidity is rubbin' off on me," he remarked with a smirk. "That an' whiskey is a far more evil drink than rum."

Will smiled slightly. "I've known you for just over a year, Jack," he said, allowing himself to be serious for a moment. His head was just cloudy enough from rum and pain to loosen his usually quiet tongue. "You're the best friend I've ever had. I just wanted to remember that."

Although it was hard to believe that Captain Jack Sparrow would not live forever, the harsh reality of his chosen profession was that the next battle could be his last. And, truth be told, it was one of the reasons he'd let Jack and Elizabeth talk him into leaving Port Royal behind. The thought of never seeing Jack again, of learning of his death from the talk of the people in town, filled him with sadness.

The other truth was that there were places he wanted to go, sights he wanted to see, lessons he wanted to learn. So many things he wanted to do and he wanted to experience them all with Jack. Jack, who had stumbled onto him in the smithy a year ago and showed him there was something more out there in the world for him.

"A doorway's not the best place for heart t' heart chats," Jack said, a slight grin on his lips.

Will sighed. "Don't worry, Jack," he said as he moved out of the doorway and headed back towards the docks. "I promise no more soul baring confessions."

Jack followed behind him for a minute or two before he grabbed Will's arm and hauled him to a stop. "If it makes y' feel better," the captain said softly, "I care about y' too." For a moment, nothing happened, and the longer Will stood there staring at him, the more uncomfortable Jack became. "Speak, lad."

Will smiled. "Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?"

"That is the last time I'll ever be sayin' that, Will Turner," Jack said firmly. "Bad enough I have t' feel it. Admittin' t' it 's just wrong."

"You don't have to say it," Will pointed out as he continued on his way. "Those crossed swords say it for you."

Jack glared at the boy. "One more word out of you an' you'll be swabbin' the deck 'til you're ol' an' gray."

"Aye, aye, Captain."

At that, Jack threw up his hands in frustration and stalked past his friend. Will watched him go with fond eyes before he hurried to catch up. As he fell into step beside his swaying captain, Will smiled.

With Jack for company, maybe being a pirate wouldn't be so bad after all.