A/N: What can I say? I was feeling angsty.

The Parting Glass

Across the years, out of habit and longing, Will Turner returned to land on the one day. This day would be his tenth, marking one hundred years in the Dutchman's service. All those years weighed so heavily on him that he considered not returning to shore at all. He didn't want to see how the world had changed, how it had grown so small.

Seventy years ago, he had released Bootstrap from his service so that he could be reunited with Will's mother. Bootstrap had objected at first, but Will had seen the spark of longing in his father's eyes and knew they were both happy now in the place where he could not follow.

Forty years ago, he had gone ashore and Elizabeth had not been there. That evening, he'd paid her a visit in the small plot behind the church.

Now all was quiet. The Flying Dutchman reacted to his every need and as the green flash lit up the horizon, he found himself sailing toward a heart-wrenchingly familiar shore.

Elizabeth's lighthouse was dark. He managed without it, if only because the Dutchman could not be sunk, and he rowed himself ashore. As he rowed, an ache started to build up in his chest and he knew that was because he was nearing the resting place of his heart. Even in death, Elizabeth kept it safe.

No. He forcefully pushed her from his mind before his image of her could fully form. He couldn't think of her now, even after all these years.

Will was heading for the old church when he realized that something was amiss. He couldn't quite explain how he knew, he just did.

Drawing his sword – the very one which he'd forged for Norrington and which had killed him – he picked up his pace.

When he arrived at the church, the door was open and in the foyer was a young man. In one hand, he held a knife and before him sat the Dead Man's Chest, open.

Will raised his sword and pointed it at the young man. "I wouldn't," he said. Whether it was proximity to his heart or instinct, a fire lit under his skin. This man had intruded on his one safe haven, the last place he'd shared with Elizabeth. How dare he? How dare –


"Where is she?" Will had to grip his sword tighter to keep his hand from shaking.

The young man had frozen at the sight of Will with the sword and he'd dropped the knife. In the chest, Will's heart beat quickly to the rhythm of his fear.


Will took several steps forward and brought the sword to the man's throat. "What did you do to her?"

"I didn't, I've not…" He stumbled backward, tripping over his feet and his words in his haste to placate Will. "I haven't done anything . She's fine, she's safe!" The last word was a scream as Will pressed forward.

The fear in the man's eyes was palpable and reminded Will of the mindless terror in the men who'd been brought before Davy Jones for judgment. And the fear in the sailors Will had taken, those early on who had expected to see Jones and had seen Will instead.

In the chest, the heart still beat strongly but not as quickly as before.

"You're him," the young man said. "You're the captain of the Flying Dutchman."

"Careful," Will warned.

"I meant…I didn't mean…" The man's gaze drifted to the open chest as if only now realizing how dire his situation was.

"You were going to stab my heart," Will whispered. Something stirred within him, an emotion he had not felt in a very long time. He took a step back, lowering the sword. "Why?"

The man gasped in air as if afraid it would be his last chance. Perhaps emboldened because Will hadn't killed him yet, he straightened. "I wish to be immortal."

Will's eyes narrowed. "You'd do well to wish for something else. Immortality is not worth the price."

"But I know the price and am willing to pay it." He sounded eager now. "I know the story. I must give up my own heart. I must ferry souls aboard the Dutchman and can only step on land once every ten years. I've given it a lot of thought. I'm a capable sailor and I'm willing."

Will laughed but there was no humor in it. "No you haven't. It's not just your heart you're giving. It's your life, your everything."

No, he wasn't going to think about Elizabeth. He couldn't.

"But I haven't anything worth giving."

"You will. When you fall in love, when you marry…"

The man raised his head and his voice was filled with resolve. "I shall never marry. I only want to sail the sea."

He was a fool. No one would wish this upon themselves. Except maybe Jack. He'd have been happier with the job than Will though, Will suspected, not as good at it.

"What is you name?"

"Nathaniel Prescott," the young man answered.

"Nathaniel, I would give it all up if I could. So find a new dream."

"Then it doesn't frighten you…dying?"

His father's eyes had glistened with tears of joy when he'd finally died. He was at peace now.

"No." Will's voice was so quite Nathaniel might not have even heard him. "It's the living that frightens me."

"Then let me help." So he'd heard after all. "Let me take over. So you can finally rest."

He was so tired.

He wanted to let him do it. He wanted it so badly but then he thought of Calypso and the curse that had not just befallen Davy Jones but all those he'd betrayed. He remembered the fleet of little boats, lost in the mist, Elizabeth's father on one of them. As weary as he was, he still had a duty to perform.

"I cannot let you do that and betray the souls in my care."

"You're not betraying them."

"I can't know that."

Nathaniel pursed his lips. "But I want this. You don't. Why won't you let me do this?"

"You have to do the job. While you have immortality, you are bound to the Dutchman and while you remain bound, you will never be free." Sheathing his sword, Will stooped, closed the chest, and picked it up. It was no longer safe here.

"But I can do it. I promise."

"Ten years." Will's heart lurched. "Return here in ten years if you mean what you say. Then…then we will see." It was the hardest decision but he knew it was the right one.

Taking the chest with him, he turned his back on Nathaniel Prescott and exited the church.

"I will be here!" Nathaniel shouted after him, frustration tinting his words. "I swear it!"

He knew what this emotion was stirring in his chest, one he hadn't felt in so long.

It was hope.

Ten more years. Ten long, slow years, feeling as drawn out as the last hundred. Those were the most painful, even more so than the first ten that he'd served. Because in those days, he'd known Elizabeth would be there. With every fiber of his being, he'd known. And now that she was gone, the hope of seeing her again was too much to bear.

Just as he could not step on land so too, he could not visit the land of the dead. Elizabeth was in Fiddler's Green with her father and with Will's.

He was not supposed to think of her. But now he couldn't stop himself. He dreamt of her, heard her laugh, gazed into her eyes.

He remembered seeing her for the first time, a girl with hair in ringlets, wide-eyed with curiosity.

He remembered as she screamed his name while he lay dying.

"I should have told you every day from the moment I met you. I love you."

The world had changed so much but it didn't matter because his world had died with her.

Ten years stretched out forever.

He did his duty because there was no one else.

He sailed calm seas between life and death, never quite crossing to one side or the other.

He thought he understood Jack's love for the Pearl because despite her history, the Dutchman sailed steady and true for him.

On the eve of the final day, the heart in the chest beat wildly. The sea was strangely still as he crossed over.

Soon, the hope he'd held onto would be crushed. Ten years was a long time to wander, even longer to wait.

As he sailed through the night, a brightness called out to him, passing across the deck. Elizabeth's lighthouse.

Will's breath caught and his grip on the wheel tightened.

He could have…no one would have waited, surely…?

Will felt as if he were dreaming as he retrieved the chest from the cargo hold and set it in the bottom of the longboat.

He rowed to shore.

All his subdued memories of a hundred years ago flooded through him. Elizabeth in her new French gown. Jack Sparrow convincing him they could commandeer the Interceptor by going after the Dauntless as they sought out an untended longboat.

"Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate."

His first kiss with Elizabeth on the parapet of Fort Charles.

Elizabeth in a rain-soaked wedding dress.

Elizabeth separated from him by prison bars.

The sheer joy on her face as they'd reunited on Isla Cruces.

Her betrayal.

Her distance as they'd sought a way to save Jack.

In his desperation, he'd admitted his feelings to Barbossa one evening on the journey to Singapore and something about the old pirate had implied a deep understanding of his dilemma.

"If you make your choices alone, how can I trust you?"

Will's eyes brimmed with tears and he allowed them to fall.

"You can't."

His boat reached the shallows and he hopped out, dragging it onto the sand. He grabbed the chest and gazed once more at the Flying Dutchman – she really was a marvelous ship – before heading inland.

Nathaniel Prescott was waiting for him in the church.

He looked older. A scar marred the right side of his face.

"You waited."

"I told you I wanted it," Nathaniel said. "I spent the last ten years searching for you, I don't mind admitting it. I'll do the job and I'll do it well. I've thought of nothing else."

"One day ashore. Ten years at sea."

"Then you understand."

"I do. I'm willing. I've never married. There were girls, of course, but I never forgot my promise. I never gave myself a reason to stay."

"That's a steep price for what's been done."

"Then I won't fight you on it." Will placed the chest on the floor between them.

Nathaniel still had the key. He stooped and unlocked the chest.

"Depends on the one day."

Nathaniel drew his knife and then hesitated.

"What are you waiting for?" Will's chest tightened. He wasn't going to go through with it.

"Are you sure this is right?" Doubt crept into Nathaniel's voice.

Will let out a slow breath. "No. But you are. That'll have to be enough."

Still, Nathaniel stayed his blade. "But what if…"

"What if you change your mind?" Will guessed. "Then that will be your burden. And one day, perhaps a hundred years from now, you will let another brash, young fool take your place. Just make sure he's the right one. That's all you can do."

Nathaniel seemed to steady his resolve. "Then…thank you." He raised the knife.

There was music in the pushing and pulling of the surf and the cries of the seagulls. The air was warm. The wind smelled of fresh grass and the sea. In the far distance, a fiddle played.

The tide delivered Will safely onto this unfamiliar shore. Here, the ache in his chest was gone and his eyes were dry.

Picking himself up, he walked across the beach, leaving footsteps on the white sand. Clumps of tall grass waved in the breeze and as he walked, the grass soon overcame the sand and the land became gently rolling hills.

He realized he recognized the tune the distant fiddle played. It was a song about pirates, the very one Elizabeth had taught him when they were children. At the time, he'd thought it a silly thing for such a pretty girl to sing, but he'd joined her in singing it because it made her happy.

Gradually, Will learned that he was not alone. There were others here, gathered to greet him. There were the boys, now men, he'd played with as a child in England. There was his favorite teacher. There were men he'd known in Port Royal and those he'd served with. There was the lawyer who'd worked with Governor Swann to make sure his life in Port Royal was a decent one. There was the Spaniard who'd once helped him and the woman captain who'd once aided him in battle. There was Mr. Brown, for once not drunk.

Anamaria was there with Cotton and Marty and even Pintel and Ragetti. Anamaria tipped her hat to him.

Captain Barbossa was for once without his monkey and James Norrington looked like he'd finally achieved some measure of peace.

Weatherby Swann and his wife were both smiling at him.

Jack Sparrow, the man Will had despised and needed, distrusted and put his faith in, the man Will owed his life to, smirked and raised a bottle of rum.

Beyond him, Bill Turner and Will's mother stood side by side, looking healthy and whole as Will had never remembered them. With them was William Henry Turner, the son Will had barely known and yet loved more than he thought was possible.

He wanted to speak to them all, to tell these people just how much he missed them and how much they meant to him, but he now had all the time in the world for that. There was someone else he needed to see first.

And then she appeared before him. As beautiful as she'd always been and as fierce, a governor's daughter and a pirate king, Elizabeth Turner saw him and she smiled.

Will broke down and rushed to embrace her. His heart soared as he held her. She was warm and solid and alive.

Tears slid down his face and hers and he kissed her.

A hundred years was a long time.

This. This was an eternity.