Once Every Decade @elementianhero22
Chapter 6

Once Every Decade, a series of PotC vignettes by Tsunami Storm

Chapter 6

-The second 'One Day'-

"Take this- chest, Liam. So that- your father will- recognise you. You've- grown so much- since he last saw you!" Elizabeth beamed proudly through her sweat-covered face and labored breathing, teasing her son just a bit and ruffling his dark, honey-coloured locks with a dainty hand.

"Mother…" Liam protested, concerned first and foremost with his beloved mother's health.

"He needs to- see one of us, at least. Else he- might straightway jump to conclusions again. I feel terrible that- I can't accompany you to- meet him at the shore, but the doctor insisted- that I rest, and concentrate on recuperating- as my first priority." Elizabeth made a face then, clearly not at all happy about the timing of all this. She really had pushed herself a bit too far this time. There was just too much to do!

Liam still looked doubtful, but his mother gave him another encouraging smile and playfully pushed the Chest to his own, signaling her greatest treasure to go meet with his father after so long apart. Liam could scarcely believe that five whole years had passed already. With a solemn nod and assurances that Elizabeth would be fine in his absence, the young man hefted the Dead Man's Chest under an arm and carefully opened the front door to their humble abode.

-Twenty minutes later-

"Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me," Liam softly sang to himself as he skipped along the gentle rolling hills just outside the borders of Port Royal, enjoying the feel of the long wavy grasses as they slid against and tickled his legs and sides. Reaching the beach and setting the chest atop a craggy rock protruding from the shifting sand, Liam turned his gaze toward the evening horizon- watching the last few layers of sunlight slowly sink into the cresting waves. A supernatural flash of green exploded across his vision, and the boy's chocolate eyes widened and sparkled in wonder. He'd never tire of seeing that. The 'Green Flash' was awe-inspiring and beyond words as always, and the iconic fluyt that was fast approaching the bay made the young man's smile widen until it was in danger of splitting his face in half.

"Land Ho!" A call from the Crow's Nest sounded, and the young captain below him grinned, "I can see that, Hadras!" having climbed into the rigging for a better glimpse of the island he'd once called home. And of course, to better spot his beloved Pirate King atop the bluffs or walking the beach. However, his grin soon faded when the picture for which he'd yearned these past ten years never met his eyes. Instead, the form of a young lad staring out to sea was the first sight the young captain witnessed.

"Who do you suppose that is?" Bootstrap growled in confusion and surprise. He'd fully expected to see his daughter-in-law eagerly awaiting her husband's return, not some youth pacing along the waterline. Who was that lad?

Will took the spyglass from his belt and put it to his eye, entwining a leg in the rigging and adjusting the focus with both hands with practised ease. "But that's-! On that outcropping-! The Chest?" He breathed as the memory of his heart sank like a stone in the depths of the sea.

"Now Captain, we mustn't jump to conclusions. Remember where that got you last time." James gently teased his close friend and captain of nearly eight years. Will grimaced slightly at the somewhat embarrassing memory, but then turned the spyglass back to the boy. He looked familiar, somehow.

"Drop anchor and furl the sails, men." Will called just a few moments later. "I'll be taking my 'One Day' on land. Mr. Turner has full command in my absence. James, you're the Second." The First Mate and Quartermaster nodded, fully expecting the appointment as it had occurred many times before, such as when the Captain left the Dutchman to gather his departed passengers or to attend to the dying aboard a wreck or otherwise derelict vessel.

"Aye, Captain!" The crew called as Will clipped his glass back onto his belt and dove right into the golden waves, the sunset at their backs painting the waters in myriads of wonderful colours and hues. They would wait patiently for their Captain's return come sundown tomorrow. The Duty could wait that long- long enough to give their beloved captain a more-than-deserved respite.

-Ten minutes later-

Will stood at the water's edge, hesitating to take that final step onto dry ground and starting the metaphorical hourglass to count down his 'One Day' ashore. He had too many questions before he could begin to relax. Who was this boy? Where was Elizabeth? Why did the lad possess the Dead Man's Chest? Was his dear wife alright? So many questions, and not an answer yet in sight to any of them. "Tell me, lad." Will began hoarsely, his voice so thick with emotion that it nearly came out as a quaver. "Who are y- wait. Liam?!"

The young man grinned, then glanced over to where he'd placed the receptacle for his father's heart. "Guess I didn't need to bring it down here after all. I told Mum it would probably be fine." He chuckled, and Will's heart swelled at the sound. Elizabeth was all right. Thank Heaven! But then, where was she? Why hadn't she come to meet him along with their son?

"So she doesn't want her freedom-? She still-" Will began, but Liam quickly interrupted. "Of course she loves you! We all do! We would never abandon you, Father. Never in a thousand years!" Then he smirked and giggled a bit. "Mum was just being overly cautious. She feared you wouldn't recognise me right away, because I've grown so much. That's why she made me bring it with me."

"But why isn't she here with you?" The question at the forefront of his mind barreled out of his mouth before he was ready to say it, and it came out a bit harsher than he'd intended. However, if his son was taken aback at his father's tone, he didn't show it. "She's been overextending herself over the past few days. Actually, it's closer to a fortnight. The doctor said she has a mild fever and a few strained muscles. Nothing a bit of bed rest won't fix. Though the timing of all this seems to leave much to be desired." He grimaced wryly and looked up sheepishly at his father's concerned face, which melted into a matching wry smile within just a few seconds. "Of course. As expected of the ever-busy Pirate King Elizabeth Turner. Never takes any time for herself and doesn't consider the consequences of trying to do everything alone. You haven't changed a bit, my pirate angel." He laughed softly, and Liam chuckled again in agreement.

"She sorely wished to have come, but the doctor wouldn't hear of it. She'll be bedridden for at least three days and nights." Liam continued. "She also told me to give you this:" And with no more warning than that, the lad ran to his father and tackled him around the waist, wrapping his arms around his sire and using all his strength to communicate the depths of both his mother's love and his own in a giant bearhug.

"Liam! Okay, I get the point! Blessed sweet Westerlies, you hug like the Kraken!" Will laughed as he pried his son's arms open and knelt in the water so he could reciprocate the embrace. In a far more gentle fashion, obviously. The boy would make an excellent sailor in later years, if he already possessed strength like that at the tender age of nine!

Liam chuckled sheepishly again and put a hand to the back of his neck, honoured by the subtle compliment, but embarrassed that he'd made his father uncomfortable. Just then, something over his father's shoulder caught his eye. "Um, Father? What are they doing? What does that signal mean?" The boy frowned, pointing to the Dutchman at the mouth of the bay. Sure enough, one of the crew was waving a pair of maritime flags in a certain signal.

Will turned to regard his ship as well, then smiled. "It's all right, Liam. That's the signal for asking if all is well." Suddenly, a mischievous spark of excitement entered the young captain's eye, and he grinned once again at his greatest treasure. "What say we answer their query? Would you like to board the Dutchman and see your grandfather again?" He asked, holding out a welcoming hand for his boy to take, if he so chose.

Liam's face lit up with excitement, and that was all the answer Will needed. However, before the lad took the offered hand, he sprinted over to the outcropping that supported the Dead Man's Chest and nestled it under one arm before bounding back and placing his small hand into his father's much larger grip. Didn't want anyone else discovering it and walking off with it, after all. Before he could even blink, both boy and sire found themselves on the deck of the legendary vessel, eliciting more than a few gasps of surprise from the surrounding crew members.

"Will? What happened?" First Mate Turner asked, and Will smiled. "Elizabeth is feeling under the weather after overworking herself- again- so I decided to postpone my 'One Day' for a little while until she recovers. I'm sure Calypso won't mind. Liam has agreed to spend the day with us instead." The captain beamed, and Bootstrap echoed the expression as he knelt to accept a hug from his favorite grandson.

Just then, Will gasped sharply and stooped slightly, eyes slightly narrowed in what appeared to be pain and no small amount of confusion. A heartbeat later found his treasure at his father's side, asking in a horror-filled gasp, "Father? What's wrong? What is happening?"

Just as suddenly as the mysterious sensation appeared, however, it vanished, leaving Will confused and slightly breathless as he put a hand to his chest where his heart had once resided. "Strange." was his only reply for a minute. "That has never happened before. What could it mean?" He asked, though it was more to himself than to his family and crew. Then he straightened up and gazed heavenward, listening to a silent voice on the wind that only he could hear. "A sudden influx of lost souls? What could have-? Oh. Well that complicates things. You might have given me at least some warning." He groused, sending a halfhearted glare up at the sky. But he was teasing just a little as well, if the slight smirk playing about the lower half of his face was any indication.

Another pause. "You want me to go right now? But- Liam is aboard! You would have me risk my son's safety for the sake of a few mere seconds? Well, that's true. He is a very strong swimmer-"

Just then, another unexpected idea came to Will like a lightning strike, and this time the gleam persisted in his eyes as he raced up the stairs near the stern and threw himself against the wheel, Liam at his heels not unlike a hungry wolf pursuing his prey.

"Liam, how long are you able to hold your breath?" Will asked quickly as he scanned his navigational charts and calculated their unexpected detour in his head.

Surprised by the rapid-fire question, Liam took a moment to think before he answered. "Um, just a little over a minute's time. Why?"

The Dutchman's Quartermaster had guessed the plan, however. "Are you mad, Captain?! You do not truly intend to dive with a living child on board, do you?!" He gasped, utterly dumbfounded. It was true that the Captain could be a bit impulsive at times, but this was nothing short of lunacy!

To the bewilderment of his crew and current 'guest', Will only laughed. "Worry not, my friend. You know as well as I that travel between worlds is nearly instantaneous aboard the Dutchman. One minute is more than enough time. Besides, Calypso is insistent. We have to leave now. I don't even have enough time to take him back to shore. He will be fine. I did it as a mortal on the Pearl. He can too." After this exchange with his still-gobsmacked Quartermaster, Will looked to the deck and called, "Man your stations! Weigh anchor and prepare to dive!" He grinned fiercely, a proud gleam in his eye that his son would get to bear witness to this extraordinary function of The Flying Dutchman.

Suddenly the deck was a veritable maelstrom of activity as sailors raced about the vessel and prepared to submerge. It made Liam feel dizzy just watching all of the men scattering and converging in a mad sort of practiced rhythm that had been perfected over the course of their decades of service. Within seconds, the legendary vessel's prow angled itself to the water below, and Liam inhaled as much air into his lungs as he possibly could, covering his nose as well just as the deck disappeared below the waves. His timing couldn't have been better as he squeezed his eyes shut as a wall of water crashed into and enveloped him and the rest of the ship, taking her crew and awestruck guest to a land beyond the horizon. Seconds after diving, a gentle hand on his shoulder made the boy start with surprise, and a kind, excitement-filled voice murmured, "Open your eyes, Liam. You'll want to see this." Interestingly, he could hear every word clearly even though they were deep underwater.

Carefully, and bracing for the stinging sensation that comes with opening your eyes below saltwater waves, Liam blinked several times before his ocular senses became acclimated to the dark waters. What he saw was a vision beyond words. They had only just submerged seconds ago, but Liam could already see the surface once more rushing up to meet them. At his side, Will still wore the same proud and fierce grin as he kept one hand on the ship's wheel and the other on his son's shoulder- though whether the friendly hand was meant to reassure him or to steady him and keep him from floating off the deck, the lad wasn't sure. As the boy watched the deck of the Dutchman rise to meet the seas of the other lands, Will shared a grin of excitement and wonder with his progeny, and Liam met his gaze with wonderstruck and equally awe-filled eyes.

Just as Liam began to feel uncomfortable about the lack of air to breathe, the Dutch fluyt tore through the aqueous barrier and broke the surface of the waves, righting itself with a spray of salty seawater in all directions.

"Well! That was an adventure!" Will laughed heartily as he shook the seawater from his hair and somewhat dried his face with his hand. "Welcome to Tierra del Fuego, my son. Home to some of the most dangerous and treacherous seas in the world, and graveyard of hundreds of pirate ships and honest sailors alike." He frowned as he trailed off, already scanning his surroundings for any sign of his newest passengers and idly wishing that Liam didn't have to see such destruction. On the beach of Cape Horn, more debris of destroyed ships littered the beach than did fare that would normally be found on a sandy shore, such as shells and skipping stones and members of the crustacean family of sea creatures.

"Wait. I thought you were diving to take us to the Land of the Dead?" Liam questioned as he looked up at his sire, but the captain smiled warmly and shook his head. "I discovered some time ago that I don't need to enter that world to resurface in another part of our Living World. It's the fastest way for the Ferryboat to travel in its Duties. Usually I try to arrive in time to ease the passage of the dying, as well as welcome those souls who have already passed. It's not necessary, but my passengers appreciate any comfort I can give. I've yet to hear a word of complaint, so I try to do so whenever possible. It's a far cry from my predecessor's methods, that's for sure." He chuckled as some of the older crewmen sniggered at his words.

Abruptly, his face fell and his expression turned sorrowful and sympathetic. Once again, Will was reacting to something that only he could sense. "This time, it appears that this is not the case. Can you feel it, Liam? We two aboard the Dutchman are the only living souls in or around Tierra del Fuego."

Liam felt a little heartsick at his father's words, swiftly closing his eyes and sending a prayer to the heavens to ease the cares of these poor lost souls that they had come to take to their final homes. Will smiled softly and placed a gentle hand of wordless thanks on his boy's shoulder. Such a thoughtful and compassionate soul! Elizabeth had raised their son well, of that there was no question. Breathing out a slow and gentle exhale to calm his own emotions, Will once more called out to his crew, though this time his voice carried no urgency nor sharp inflection. Rather, it sounded like Will was merely requesting actions of his crew than shouting orders as a captain normally would.

"Cast all lines and unfurl the ladders." Will called in a calm tone, and though he hadn't raised his voice a decibel from when he'd been speaking with Liam, his order was received and carried out by all members of his crew on every part of the ship. "Leave no part of the Dutchman inaccessible."

Within minutes, every soul claimed by the passage since the Dutchman's last visit stood amidships on her deck, and Will descended the staircase to address the gathering of his newest passengers.

"Welcome aboard The Flying Dutchman." Will greeted with a solemn yet cordial smile gracing his face. "I am your captain and guide for this final voyage, Captain William Turner." Several gasps of shock and horror followed his statement of the name of his legendary vessel, and the shock was then followed by confusion. Liam couldn't hear everything that was said, but he could easily pick out the distinct phrases of 'cursed ship' and 'Davy Jones'.

Will smiled. He'd clearly heard the mutterings as well. "Different captain, different rules. If I accomplish nothing else in this charge, I will abolish that reputation of this ship. It's not a curse for our passengers or 'guests', or any who witness her at sea, simply a ferry to the other side, to your next great adventure. Whether to Fiddler's Green, or Valhalla, or Elysium, this vessel is merely a transport to the peace that you deserve after the hardships of this world are passed." To his delight, most of the passengers heaved sighs of relief at his words, and stopped quaking in their boots and shivering their timbers.

"However, there is one question I have for all of you with which some of you may be familiar." Will continued. "The previous captain would indeed ask this question of all he met, and the answer would be followed by a swift death or forced servitude for a hundred years." He growled sourly, and many of the souls stiffened up again in sudden fear. But then he smiled again, that disarming smile that could make even the coldest heart melt. "I am more than pleased to announce that this is no longer the case. While I must still ask it, the consequences of each choice are infinitely less severe. Should you answer 'No', then I shall happily take you to your next great adventure. If 'Yes', then I can offer you a place on my crew, until such time as you are ready to move on. I will never force you, and you are more than welcome to stay for as long or little as you wish."

After hearing the captain's words, most of the souls present nodded in approval and smiled in relief. Though all the passengers came from various lands and spoke in different tongues, every man had heard Will's explanation in his own language, for that was one of the supernatural abilities granted the Captain of The Flying Dutchman by the goddess Calypso.

Will looked over the crowd of passengers, his gentle smile never leaving his face. "Have any here a fear of death?" He asked, and to his considerable surprise, only a few persons raised their hands. Again, Will's smile never faltered. "Thank you. Those of you who are prepared for the next step, you will find rest below in the hold. Those who are not yet ready may remain above deck. I'm sure we can find something for you to do." He joked lightly to somewhat ease the tension, and was rewarded with a few quiet chuckles of amusement.

Once the crowds of souls had dissipated and Will had assigned each of his newest crewmembers to a suitable task, he returned to the wheelhouse and charts table, tapping a certain point on a map and then giving his compass a quick glance before spinning the wheel sharply to the right. They had some passengers to carry home.

End of Story (for now)

-And here we have the very first documented occurrence of the national holiday 'Take Your Child To Work Day'. Lol

Ha ha, just kidding. That event was established in 1993, but I wanted a cute father-son bonding chapter, and this fit the bill perfectly.

Oh and don't worry, lovely readers. Lizzie's fine, she just has a low fever and fatigue from working too hard. You gotta pace yourself, Your Highness, or you'll make yourself sick!

…Granted, I'm one to talk. I overwork myself all the time. XD

I wrote this whole chapter in four hours. Wow. It usually takes me a couple days at least before I'm satisfied enough with the general outline to actually type it out. That is, when I actually use an outline and not just fly by the seat of my pants.

I kinda wanted to end this chapter on a funny note like the last one, but it ended up being a 'D'aww' moment instead. Will is so thoughtful and compassionate! He's the perfect man for the job. If only he got more vacation time.

Oh, and I have no idea where their daughter Liza is. My muse is mum on the details. * Calypso shrugs and grins coyly *

God Bless!

Tsunami Storm

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