Tangible Schizophrenia


Game 2: Monopoly

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R. Violence, language, and set-up for steamy sex in the next part.
Pairing: Jack/Will, ref. Will/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Anamaria, Norrington/Jack. Sadly, no sex, but the next installment with definitely rectify that.
Feedback: Much appreciated.
Disclaimer: Belongs to a mouse with red pants and big ears. Whereas I am only human.
Notes: Anamaria curses in French and English. If you really want translations, just ask. Crossover with 'Mexico'/OuaTiM.
Summary: Second part in the 'Games' series. Scene changes, flirting and barfights. Not the finale, but don't fear, I'm already writing the next part.


God, Will thought, even the sunbeams hurt. Rolling painfully out of the patch of sunlight on the bed, he barely snagged the trashcan before the sour bile etching into his throat finally spilled out. Coughing and choking, he threw up until his stomach was empty and hurting.

"M'God, don' tell me y'got a hangover just 'cause o' one bottle," said an entirely too-cheerful voice. Raising his head, Will glared balefully at Jack and the…fully-loaded breakfast tray of food. Rich, delicious food that filled the air with the mellow scents of butter, fruit and pancakes. Will dropped his head and amazingly, managed to come up with more food with which to vomit. Grimacing in sympathy, Jack set down the tray on the side-table and swept back Will's hair for him, then handed the other man a napkin and a glass of water when Will'd finished throwing up.

"Thanks," Will muttered grudgingly, wiping his mouth and rinsing it out with the water. His ass felt like it'd been thoroughly pummeled and then run over with a cheese-grater inside, and his head ached. "Did I break the laptop?"

"Nah," Jack answered, handing him said object. "Y'remembered t'put it on th'floor 'fore we started talkin'." The older man sat down as carefully as he could on the bed, though he might as well have just bounced on like an eight-year-old, for all the difference it made to Will's body. Barely restraining his 'I-told-you-so,' Jack patiently waited until Will stopped cursing, and then handed the other man two pills.

Looking at the offering suspiciously, Will asked warily, "Who'd you get these from?"

"They're certified pure painkiller by th'U. S. FDA," Jack replied, topping up the water glass in Will's hand. "Not street. So eat up, so we can talk wi'out you bitin' your tongue off." He took in another breath, but Will beat him to it.

"Savvy," the younger man mumbled, downing the pills. "I hate drugs."

"Y'd think diff'rently wi' a bullet in you," Jack admonished.

"I have had a bullet in me," Will shot back, gingerly sitting up and pulling the laptop toward him. He untangled the mess of cords spewing from its back and started handing them, one by one, to Jack to plug in. "No drugs. Liz shoved a belt buckle between my teeth and started digging. I nearly cracked a couple crowns off."

Eyes widening with more respect, Jack finished hooking up the phone jack and then turned back to ask, regarding Will intensely, "Jus' what have you and Elizabeth been doing? Last I heard, Bootstrap was raving all 'bout how your teachers were rec'mending you for advanced classes."

"Why would you want to know?" Will demanded. "It's got no bearing on Barbossa."

"'m curious. An' we've got time t'kill. Might as well spend it catchin' up on th'news, seein' as you're not good for anythin' else," Jack commented, lying back next to Will and sliding the food tray across his lap. What he earned was a concentrated stare from the younger man, who seemed determined to count every eyelash lining Jack's eyes.

The computer beeped, and Will finally looked away. "Where do you want me to start?" he said a little too casually, fingers flying over the keyboard.

"Well, once upon a time's a classic, but a bit overused," Jack mused. "In the beginning's kinda Biblical, an' I've always been partial to 'it was a dark and stormy night'…"

An incredulous smile touching the corners of his mouth, Will interrupted, "I met Elizabeth when I tripped over her in an alley."

"That's a good one too," Jack said, sounding slightly thrown.

"She came over here for college-chemistry major -and her Da died halfway through," Will continued. "Liz wasn't born in wedlock, so her Stepmum, who's now Viscountess something-or-other, got her money cut off. She was desperate, and she ended up starting a kitchen-sink drug lab. It worked for a while, but then Liz started sampling the product, and…well, she ended up in Miami outside this club, where I fell over her one night." Frowning at something on the screen, Will stopped briefly to rattle the keys furiously, and then when the computer pinged contently, he picked up his tale.

"I cursed at her, and then she cursed back, with a Brit accent, which caught my attention, since there aren't that many down here that aren't tourists. And then she started mocking me using all these chemistry terms. 'Bollocks the size of atoms,' 'your dick's slower'n peroxide degradation,' and such. I needed a chemist, so I took her home, tied her to the bed, and got her detoxed. Sort of. It's kind of this one big screaming blur."

"What'd y'need a chemist for?" Jack queried, slipping a piece of croissant into Will's hand. The younger man absently accepted it and popped it into his mouth, never glancing away from the laptop.

"'Cause one of my best customers had just OD'ed on this new cocaine, Aztec Gold." Jack began to rise up, and looking over, Will nodded. "Yeah. That one. Poor prat somehow gate-crashed this exclusive club and ended up a test subject for one of the early versions. I got into his apartment and found a packet of cocaine with this gold-coin symbol stamped on it, and then I remembered that Da had had this thing for the Aztecs. So I checked back through my files, and found this formula."

Listening attentively now, Jack kept sneaking food to Will with one hand, while his other liberally doused one of the coffees with rum. "Were they for the same drug?"

Chewing on some orange slices, Will answered, voice a little muffled, "Yeah. Except the formula seemed to be for the final version. Which, apparently is almost impossible to make unless you follow exactly this one procedure, and for that, you need computerized machinery. And the right programs."

"An' I take it you have those," Jack commented, sipping his java. Will shook his head. "No." He tapped the computer. "It's spread all over. There are a thousand people out there who each have a piece and don't even know it. But I do have the compass that shows me how to get them back."


Elizabeth stared until her eyes dried out, and then she blinked confusedly, asking, "Why are we in bed together?"

"'Cause I slipped you th'mickey an' ravished your pale skinny body," Anamaria grumbled back, burying her head deeper into the pillows. "We're th'only two women livin' wi' the group, ducon. All th'others go home at night, an' you think I'll be lyin' down wi'the boys?"

"No, no," Elizabeth hastily protested. "I just don't remember how I got here…"

"Y'fell 'sleep on th'dining table," the other women muttered direly. "An' then Norrington carried you back 'ere. Savvy?"

Still disconcerted, the younger woman asked, "What?"

"I meant, comprend? Goddammit," Anamaria swore. "Putain's gotten into m'head again."

"Um. Yeah," Elizabeth shrugged, slithering out of bed. She was still wearing James' coat, she suddenly realized, and she'd probably wrinkled it beyond hope. Sighing, Elizabeth searched around until she found her shoes and slipped them on, then made her way to the kitchen, where Gibbs greeted her with a wave.

"Mornin', m'dear," he said, deftly flipping pancakes, eggs and bacon onto a plate. He slid it across the counter toward her, then grabbed another off a huge stack teetering by the stove and commenced to filling it.

Elizabeth dazedly picked up her share and began to munch on one sizzling strip, when she suddenly remembered. "Gibbs," she started tentatively, and when he turned around, she asked, "Is James up yet?"

"Norrington?" Gibbs' squirrel-tail eyebrows rose. "He's MI6, love. He don' stay 'round all th'time; he's got his own men t'see to." When he saw the disappointment flit over her face, he added more kindly, "He'll be back 'round when Jack and your Will come, so don' fuss. Eat up! You're thinner'n a knife-width."

Not having anything else to do, she sat and did, watching quietly as the 'regulars' slowly straggled in, snitching food off each other's plates as they checked cells, PDAs and pagers. Anamaria sashayed in last, dressed to the nines in leather and satin. She met the wolf-whistles with sarcastic aplomb. "Yeah, yeah, back off, salauds. Y'all got shit to pull t'day, so listen up."

The others speedily cleared off the dining table, and Anamaria slapped down maps of the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. "Barbossa's got his tail up, so we're gettin' th'matches out for th'bonfire. You're goin' be spreading 'cross here-" she tapped a triangle drawn on one map "-an' layin' down the groundwork, like usual. Gibbs'll be headin' for Nassau t'run things; me an' Liz an' a skeleton crew'll be hangin' here t'meet Jack and Turner. An' I know all o'you are thinkin' 'bout it, but we ain't goin' for Skullface's base yet, so if I even smell Havana on you, I'll cut all your throats for La Sirene's dogs. Comprend?"

A chorus of yes's answered her, and, grinning with catlike satisfaction, Anamaria planted hands on hips. "Well, get on then," she said.


Mumbling prayers to the C++ gods, Will pushed 'Enter' and let the first program run. "So how'd you meet my father?" he asked, carefully lying back. "And where's my shirt?"

"Ah, well," Jack trailed off sheepishly, retrieving something from beside the bed and handing it over. "Scarlet must've snitched 'em whilst I was takin' the tray."

Raising an eyebrow, Will examined the clothing, running appreciative fingers along the quality fabric. "It's…expensive," he remarked dryly.

"Madam seems t'have taken a liking t'you," the other man shrugged, swigging down the last of his coffee-flavored rum. "Dunno what's all wi' th'zippers an' chains on th'pants, though."

Will tossed said garment at the nearest chair. "I'm not going anywhere till this is finished, so it's just as well," he muttered. "But the shirt's good." Voice muffling and unmuffling as he struggled to find the sleeves, he said again, "How'd you meet my father?"

"Bit o' a story," Jack demurred. "You fond of violins? Or penguins?"

"That…would be a 'what the hell'?" the younger man replied bemusedly. Waving the objection off, Jack launched into his story. "It's really all Frederick Pope's fault," he drawled, swooping finger-birds through the air. "Y'see, he wrote some fine music-not quite as good as m'favorite, 'A Pirate's Life,' but not bad-and…well, y'father wanted somethin' nice t'send back t'your mother for her…birthday? Anniversary? Anyway…"


"Get dressed, fille," and an armful of clothes promptly smacked Elizabeth in the face.

"Hey!" she protested, clawing them off of her. "Why-" and then she got a good look at the clothing. "I'll look like a slut!"

"An' if you stay like y'are, we're never get past th'end o' th'street," Anamaria snapped back. "We ain't preacher's wives, an' where we goin' ain't no playground. C'mon, or we'll miss 'im."

Huffing crossly, Elizabeth nonetheless started to strip, then recalled last night and tumbled herself and the clothing behind the bed. Amused, the other woman turned around, making sure the bedroom door was locked. "An' 'fore y'ask, I meant both Norrington an' Jack, 'ventually. Th'one's always on time, an' th'other's never comin' when you'd think, so we got t'get goin', since we got one stop 'fore them."

"If you're expecting that much trouble, then why'd you send everyone off?" Elizabeth inquired, standing up to zip the skin-tight skirt. She ran a quick hand through her hand, then expertly tousled the front locks. "Shit. No makeup."

"Don' need any," Anamaria replied, twisting back to examine the other woman critically. "'s sunny today. You put anythin' on, it'll either be invisible, or fille de joie, an' we don' have time for turnin' tricks." She handed Elizabeth a gun and a few other weapons, which the younger woman quickly checked over before secreting them about herself. "I'm expectin' trouble elsewhere, too," Anamaria continued, "Which is why I sent 'em off t'deal wi' the small blazes. 's less complicated that way."

"So what do we have, then?" Elizabeth demanded, following the other woman out the door and out the house. "A forest fire? This isn't fucking California, Madame. And if we're going to see Jack, then why couldn't I call Will last night-"

"Gimme a sec," Anamaria told the lips she was pinching together. "An' it's Mam'selle." She shouted a few orders over Elizabeth's shoulder to the agents still inside, and a few moments later, a duffel bag came soaring out. Casually snatching it to her, Anamaria let go Elizabeth's mouth and took hold of an elbow instead, dragging the two toward one of the cars. When they were strapped in and cruising the freeways, she returned to the conversation. "Barbossa's got this fixation on Jack, an' Jack ain't exactly what you'd call forgivin', either. So my way o' thinkin' is, the smugglers have probably mostly left town; your Mr. Brown wasn' saintly, but he did have a broad clientele, an' they're goin' be makin' local trouble."

"I somehow can't see Barbossa caring," Elizabeth remarked, abandoning her petulance in spite of herself. There was just something infectious about Anamaria, like a cinnamon candy that burst up against soft gums and scorched them sweet.

"Well, he don'," the other woman admitted. "But his organization do, an' they're not keen t'start anythin' on U. S. soil when there's plenty of lax-gut governments elsewhere. So most of his men'll go, but his old crew and him'll stay t'settle the score."

Elizabeth stared. "That's stupid. You don't save the cannon fodder and put your leader in danger. That makes no sense."

"No, that's men," Anamaria corrected. "An' that's good for us, 'cause it'll save us th'trouble of chasin' that salaud 'bout the Caribbean. Anyway, who's left here is all th'originals. Can't bother askin' outsiders t'step into a grudge match; they never get it. 'sides, ain't really fair to 'em." She took a hairpin turn into the exit ramp that nearly knocked Elizabeth's teeth out. Then they slewed through three intersections, only one of which was even yellow, and came to a screaming, pinwheeling stop precisely between two huge trucks parked alongside a chrome-polished office building.

Forcing her legs steady, Elizabeth crawled out of the car and just managed to repress the urge to kiss concrete. She was slowly beginning to see why Will would rather cut the ignition wires than let her drive. "Where…are…we?" she panted, leaning over to grab her knees. A man passing by did a double-take and promptly took a header into the ground.

Sighing, Anamaria helped the other woman up, then removed the duffel from the backseat and locked the door. "We're goin' t'Tijuana." And she steered Elizabeth away from the lovely granite façade and across the street.

"Tijuana…oh," Elizabeth said dubiously, taking in the seedy dive they were now facing. "Will and Jack are in that?"

"Hell, no," Anamaria snorted indignantly. "Say what y'will 'bout the man, Sparrow's always gone for th'finer side o' things. Like a chat, really. This is where Agent Sheldon Jeffrey Sands is temp'rarily residing."

"Who's he?" the younger woman asked, hanging back. She surreptitiously tried to cover up some of her chest, but Anamaria batted her hands off.

"If y'got it, don' cover it, fille," the older woman scolded. "An' Sands is an official CIA fuck. Man gets off on human stupidity, 'specially his own. But he's just finishin' up five years in South 'merica-got transferred t'Mexico, thank les fantômes-so we'll be needin' a parley wi' him."

"Perhaps you do," Elizabeth said, tone wheedling as she gradually edged away from the other woman. "I believe I'll just head down to the stall on the corner and parley for an ice."

"In those clothes?" Anamaria snorted, seizing Elizabeth's wrist and effortlessly towing her into the bar. "You'd be up 'gainst th'wall in a heartbeat. C'mon, chère, time t'see how it's done."


"An' then we met up wi'-boy, I'm gettin' th'impression you've ceased to pay heed," Jack remarked, a touch annoyed. Nodding vigorously, Will vaguely h'mmed and continued to click-and-drag on the laptop screen. A raisin plunked, unnoticed, onto the 'F4' key. And then one struck the 'Caps Lock,' and another smacked up against the computer screen, and finally, a hail of them pelted against the side of Will's face. "Jack, you bastard!" he yelped, elbowing the man beside him fiercely and then immediately clenching his jaw against the soreness in his ass.

"It's unfair t'ask a man for 'is memories an' then fail to take 'em up," Jack accused, putting up a lively defense with a pillow. In the ensuing struggle, Scarlet's breakfast tray, luckily devoid of anything except a box of Raisin Bran™, took a precipitate tumble to the floor, and her dishes, which were sitting on the nightstand, nearly clattered off their perch. Will barely managed to wrestle his laptop to safety on the floor before Jack whacked him upside the head with balled-up sheets.

The two men finally ended up in an echo of the night before, Jack exerting his full weight over Will to hold the other man down. Panting, they stared oddly at each other for a few silent moments of déjà vu. Eventually, Will grew too uncomfortable and panted, "You can't possibly ask me to believe half the lies you've spun. They're improbable, implausible-"

"You're goin' out of order," Jack gasped back. "'l' comes before 'r' in th'dictionary."

"Oh-" Will tossed his head back, expressing frustration with every inch of himself. "I'm beginning to think you've never even met my father. You haven't shown you know a single thing about him-"

"--Except those damned anchovy malts," Jack interrupted, eyes distant with remembered exasperation. "I like fish as well as the next man, but droppin' them in chocolate's goin' a bit too far. An' the smell! Holy Mother, it was like…like…"

"Like having salt and fish oil shoved up your nose and down your throat," Will finished slowly. "So you and he…so you did. Why didn't you just say so?"

"Will, m'lad," the older man sighed, leaning back, "You've got this nasty habit of asking for too much too quickly, I've noticed." Eyes somber in their rings of mourning black, he reached out a hand and unthinkingly petted down the rumpled tufts of hair around Will's forehead. "I knew your father because he was a British intelligence operative. I knew him because he was good with a gun, better with a knife, and best with a belt. Didn't even know he sailed till the last six months, and till you came along, I never thought he was any good with computers. Certainly couldn't handle his pager."

"His nickname comes from tech slang," Will offered, unconsciously moving into Jack's hand. "And I always thought it was weird Da had so many problems with pagers; they just stopped working around him, like he was cursed or something."

"Mebbe," Jack commented offhandedly as he bent closer. "Man did have some interestin' haunts, though I'd have t'ask Anamaria 'bout that."

"Anamaria?" Will whispered, craning his head up. Jack had these fascinating gold flecks sunk into the thin black outline of each iris, and Will had the sudden urge to find out just what constellation they traced out. Probably the Crown.

"M'second-in-c'mand," the older man breathed, shrinking the last few atoms of space between them to nothing as he kissed Will. It was much slower and softer this time, giving Will plenty of time to memorize the scrape of Jack's moustache and goatee, take in the spice and cordite that wove through the hair falling over his face. His tongue tasted rum and sugar and smoky tobacco instead of alcohol and blood, and, discovering that he far preferred this combination, Will returned again and again to the lovely warm cave of Jack's mouth, each time surveying a new region.

Beads tickled his cheeks, and Will raised a curious hand to finger them, counting each round and uneven ornament, stroking inquisitively along the bones cresting here and there in the raven braids. A hand met his, then slid down his wrist and arm to cup behind his head and tug him closer. In its wake, he could feel his skin rising in flushing streaks of heat.

On the floor, a friendly electronic voice said, "Download 100% completed! What would you like the Installation Wizard to do next?"

Startled, the two broke apart, and then Jack dropped his head into Will's neck, chuckling. "Y'programmed it t'talk t'you?"

"Sometimes I prefer talking to computers," Will muttered, stiffening as he came back to himself. "They're stupid, you know. You have to tell them how to do everything, but at least they never have outside agendas."

"'m sensing a severe lack o' judgment here. Or mebbe it's a severe excess o' judgment," Jack retorted, pushing up on one arm to study the man underneath him, a shrewd look on his face.

"Give me a reason," Will taunted. "One reason why I should trust you one more inch than I have to. You and Barbossa, you and him and my father, it's all your fight. Your hatreds. I never wanted any part of it."

"Well, you've got one, an' there's no denying it," Jack told him, eyes uncompromising. "You keep hiding, an' sooner or later someone'll cut you off at neck height an' leave your head buried in the sand. The only way you an' Elizabeth are getting through this is if you make the right alliances."

"Which, of course, would be you," the younger man replied sardonically. "Since I've precious little other choices. And as soon as you've settled your quarrel with Barbossa, you'll no doubt give me the handshake, the 'good patriot' speech, and the brush-off."

"Will," Jack interrupted, hands tightening on the other man's shoulders. "Have you ever considered a career in the federal government? You've certainly the right attitude already."


The bar was more or less empty, with only a lethargic bartender rubbing a rag over the chipped counter, and one man in the corner hunched over a plate of food. As Elizabeth and Anamaria rounded the bar, he spun around on the stool to face them. "If it isn't the beauteous Creole witch-queen," he drawled. "And who's this? Gretel's already lost her Hansel, I suppose. You know, you two should really consider a career in children's plays. Give them a real education."

"Sands," Anamaria said, speaking as if to a particularly nasty Doberman. "You've cleaned up your language."

Smiling deprecatingly, the pair of designer sunglasses answered, "The slow-roasted pork here is absolutely inedible." He forked up a bite and swallowed it. "It's so inedible, in fact, that it's adversely affected my inspiration for creative invective. Though I suppose for a cunt-sniffing hellbitch like yourself, I could produce something."

"Vieille poupée," she snarled back, keeping herself between him and Elizabeth. "Faisez le tapin!" Anamaria's hands curled, as if feeling for knives. "Mon dieu, je te déteste."

"Je m'en fous," Sands replied, smirking. "I hear Mexico's expensive this time of year. All the officials like to take vacations next month, and so they extort extra hard for petty cash."

Hoisting the duffel onto the countertop, Anamaria removed a children's lunchbox and slid it across to Sands, who just cocked his head and pointed a fork. "Really, my little dove, I thought we'd gotten past sandbox temper tantrums."

"It's th'ten-minute talk I'd be payin' for, not th'ten-dollar fuck," she growled, taking a seat two down from him and gesturing for Elizabeth to do the same. "Now then, Barbossa. What's his cover like?"

Exhaling noisily, Sands set down the fork and slipped a cigarette between his lips, then lit up, all one-handed. "You drive a hard bargain, dyke. But-" he cracked open the metal lunchbox and took a peek, then slammed it shut and slipped it somewhere behind him. "-suppose I'll try to be gracious."


"And is this where I'm supposed to be grateful?" Will snapped, wriggling. He glared back up and met Jack's eyes, and then he stopped, biting his lip nervously.

"No." Jack moved off of Will and stood up, swinging over to where his effects were piled on a chair. Fighting down his anger, he began rearming himself as he went on, tone still and deadly. "Working for the CIA, or for any intelligence agency, is no joke. You plan, and you gather men and tools and info, and in the end, you still have to stake everything on the dice's roll. Only thing that's dependable-or should be, if you're worth anything-is whoever's watching your back."

Pulling himself into a sitting position, Will felt shame suddenly bloom in his cheeks and tighten his chest. He opened his mouth, then closed it, and then drew a sharp breath. "Jack…"

A cell phone rang. Digging into one of his many pockets, Jack flipped a small thin silver compact out and up…and up, somehow making the cell click open in mid-somersault. Catching it deftly, he said, "Cap'n Sparrow…Anamaria?-what happened-Ana? Ana!"

Jerking the phone away, he stared ferociously at its crackling for a moment, and then Jack was a parti-colored whirlwind of activity, snatching this up and dropping that.

"What's wrong?" Will demanded urgently, getting off the bed. And promptly collapsing to the floor. "Shit!"

"Christ Jesus, boy-" Jack sighed, exasperated, as he reached to help the younger man back up. A brutal slap met his outstretched hand.

"I am not a boy," Will hissed. "What happened?"

"I don' know, an' that's what I'm lookin' t'find out," Jack growled, seizing the other man roughly and tossing him back on the bed. "But I know it's nothing you can help wi', seein' as you can' even put on pants." He cut off his tirade, and sucked in air. When he spoke again, his voice was aching and…old. Gentled, like. "Will, just stay here. No sense in makin' this an even bigger mess, so just…please just stay."

Jaw dropped, Will could only stare back at the pleading eyes. Jack waited another irretrievable minute for an answer, and when he failed to get one, he turned and left, one hand flopping up in a silent, resigned farewell.

Still unable to speak, Will dropped his eyes to the floor. Where a cell phone leaped into view, shining brilliantly up from the dull carpet and scattered cereal.


"So basically, they're all getting rather impatient with Skullface," Sands stated, punctuating each word with a jabbing cigarette butt. "He's finally begun to show some results, but it's already been too long for some of their bank accounts. Barbossa needs to turn a profit very, very soon, or they might take care of him for you."

"Wasn' so bad, now, was it?" Anamaria mocked from over a mint julep. "Bein' helpful an' all."

The man shook a warning finger, exactly like an old-maid elementary schoolteacher. "Don't try my patience, Marie Laveau."

The rickety door creaked as someone new brushed past it. And then it screeched through a firestorm of sparks, as someone booted it off its broken hinges and sent the metal panel across the floor. Sands and Anamaria both dove for the floor, while Elizabeth, who'd been nervously perched atop the bar counter, tipped herself over the side.

"Want…want water…gold…water," gurgled the newcomer, their footsteps lurching unevenly across the floor. On the other side behind the bar, Elizabeth watched, breath a tense quiver in her throat, as the bartender pulled back the safety on his shotgun and gradually began to rise. When he was about halfway there, he abruptly shot up and then the world was deafened by a double-barreled blast. Letting out a sigh of relief, Elizabeth edged her hand off the butt of her gun-

"Ahhh!" God-what-panicked, she threw herself backwards again, banging hard against the wood behind her. Before her, the bloody hands slicked off the bartender's collar, then readjusted their grip and dragged him over the counter. Body shaking, mouth taking in tiny gasps, Elizabeth heard Anamaria start to curse, and then gunshots began to ring out. Plaster fell in upside-down fountains and planks splintered explosively under the barrage.

A wet pop-thunk, instantly more meaningful. "Ah, merde," Anamaria swore, pain deepening the rough valleys of her voice. "You-cochon!"

More bullets, and then an ominous silence.

"You. Behind the bar. Stand up slowly," ordered a masculine voice. Anamaria's snarl, brutally choked off. "Or I nail your friend six ways from Sunday."

Oh, shit, Elizabeth thought. Frantically looking around, she spotted a niche just under the countertop and silently slid her gun into it, then called out, "I'm coming!"

Once her head cleared the bar, Elizabeth discovered four heavily-armed, violently ugly men staring back at her with vicious eyes. One of them held Anamaria against him, hand dangerously near the oozing hole in her left arm. Three bodies littered the floor, with parts of two more just visible in the corners of Elizabeth's vision. And Sands was nowhere in sight. But…no doors that way. He had to be still hiding. Not that he could be counted on for more than self-preservation, most likely.

"Rec'gnize us, poppet?" asked the tallest man, ebony menace rippling all along him. "The Captain t'ought you'd be checkin' in with th'other CIA gnats."

"What do you want?" Elizabeth inquired, trying desperately to keep the tremors from her voice. It evidently didn't work, considering how he flashed sharp white teeth at her.

Another smuggler stepped forward, and the dim light filtered off the miniature threat of a hypodermic needle. Air turning to lead within her, Elizabeth's sight momentarily shadowed with memories--shitmudpainpleasurecolorssomanycolorslikeshitshitshitherhairherclothes

"No!" she half-screamed, beginning to step back. The guns went up, Anamaria hissed, and Elizabeth jerked to a pause. "No. You can't," the younger woman said, almost begging.

"Y'r boyfriend can't," replied the leader. "He can't keep back what's ours, poppet. An' if he won't be givin' back, we'll be takin'."

The needle came forward, and forward, and forward till it was just grazing, too lightly to break skin, against Elizabeth's nose. "Gimme a vein, sweetheart," the man crooned.

"Fucker!" And Anamaria suddenly threw all her weight forward, cannonading into the man in front of her, whose flailing arms smacked the man holding the needle. Snapping away, Elizabeth grabbed the syringe with one hand and wrenched it out of his fingers, scrabbling for her gun with the other. A shot cracked across her eardrums, and she whipped the pistol up just in time to see Anamaria fall. "Salaud! Sands-you shit-"

The mentioned agent had popped up out of nowhere, and was now calmly downing smugglers.

"You bitch-" Twisting back, Elizabeth jammed the needle into the grasping hand and then, when he didn't even falter, blew out the smuggler's shoulder and left rib cage. She spun rapidly around, scanning the room, and when she saw no one up except Sands, she lunged over the bar to Anamaria on the floor. Who was pointing a gun with one hand at Sands. "You…shot…me," the older woman grated. "You little shit."

"What, you'd rather your mermaid got jonesed up?" the other agent retorted, red streaking down from a bullet graze on his temple. "Like Rob Zombie over there? I had a shot, I took it, and you just happened to be somewhat in the way. Damn good thing I picked up decent bullets."

Turning, Elizabeth went to take aim at Sands as well, but Anamaria brushed her back. "Don't, fille," she sighed, gun-hand dropping to clutch at the blood welling out of her thigh. "Diable's got a point."

"See? Was that hard? Being reasonable?" Sands' head pricked up at the groan in the corner. Gazing over the two woman, his face turned fascinated. "Well, goddamn. That's almost scarily impressive."

Head feeling rather dizzy from all the movement, Elizabeth nonetheless looked. And immediately wished she hadn't.

It had been a man. Now, it was nothing but an embodied craving, clawing futilely at everything, tendons barely shy of ripping right out the tissue-paper skin. Parched, fissured lips peeled back from whitened gums as crimson-shot eyes devoured her with blind hunger. "More…gold," it whimpered, somehow managing to move forward despite the gaping chunks missing from its chest. "More…please."

"Notre Dame," Anamaria hissed.

"My dick is fully functional, thank you," Sands objected, raising his gun and blowing off its head. "Man, I need to change travel agencies," he muttered, voice drifting off as he moved toward the bathroom.

Reality crashing back into place, Elizabeth flickered unsure fingers over Anamaria's wounds, then began ripping cloth from the nearest body. With difficulty, the older woman got her cell out and dialed a number, then said curtly, "Jack. The Tijuana. Bring meds."

She wrestled the phone closed and back into her pocket, then subsided onto Elizabeth's lap as the younger woman bound makeshift bandages around her wounds.


In the one-stall latrine that masqueraded as a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, Sands looked, disgruntled, at his reflection. Blood caked on his face; more crusted over his forearm. Yet another jacket gone to hell. Sighing touchily, he tore off a handful of cheap paper towel, wetted it in the rusty water, and began to gingerly dab at the scratches. When he'd gotten as much blood off as he could, he knelt down to the red duffel at his feet and dug around in its pockets, searching for the butterfly bandages and antibiotic paste. The doorknob rattled.

Twisting around, he drilled three holes in the top six inches of the door. On the other side, someone squealed. "Madonna and her skinhead kids," he said, trying to rub the aggravation from the bridge of his nose. "Blondie?" he called.


"You hurt?" Sands asked, rolling his eyes as he re-holstered his gun.

"No, but-"

"Great. Now fuck off," he replied brightly. "If you need liquid, use the bar's stock. Ana's got fucking 100-proof in her veins, anyway."

The door was snatched open, and a bronzed fury stood framed in the entrance. Ignoring her, Sands resumed treating his wounds. "You prat," she began.

"What, you two walk here?" he demanded. "Go get her in the car and find an ER. Jesus. Since when did Sparrow go fishing in the Clueless end of the gene pool?"

Huffing, she stomped back out, and shortly thereafter Sands heard the sweet sound of a body being dragged off. He smoothed down the last bandage, then braced a hip against the sink and took out his cell, punching in speed-dial.


Will hadn't been looking at it for very long before the phone shrilled to life, nearly causing him to drop it in surprise. Catching hold of himself, he cautiously answered the call.

*Sparrow?* A man. American. With pissed-off tone reaching road rage level.

"Ah, no, he's out," Will started to say, but the other guy cut him off.

*Isn't he always? Fuckmook. Whatever. Listen, when he gets back, tell him to keep his fucking girls away from me, or I'll start charging my clothing tab to him.*

"Girls?" Will asked, gut churning ominously.

*Yeah, Buttercup and Brownie. He wants 'em, he can check the hospital lists himself. I think I'm gonna skip out on the rest of my vacation.*


*Your call has been terminated. Please hang up, or dial another num--*

Tossing the cell across the room, Will lunged for the loaner pants and yanked them on, then almost had his knees buckle as the pain overwhelmed the drugs. Cursing violently, he forced himself back up and then began to ransack the room for weapons.

"Download 100% completed!"

"Damn," Will breathed, shoving the dresser drawers back in and turning to his laptop, still on the floor amid a nest of knotted wires. He moved a hand toward the keyboard, then froze.

Just…please just stay.

"It's been two days," Will muttered to himself. "Two days does not equal…hell, he was a one-night-stand. That's what it was supposed to mean-that's what it meant…and fuck." He hurriedly squatted down and typed a few commands, then set the laptop to sleepmode and closed the lid. "Will," he told himself reprovingly, "This is not a normal reaction."

Creaking. Someone was coming up the stairs.

"Will, darlin'?"

Letting out a huge breath, Will called back, "Scarlet? Mind coming in and helping me with something?"

"Why, certainly not," she declared, sashaying into the room. "I nevah mind helpin' a young gentleman like your dear self."

"Oh, thank you," Will replied, putting on his best puppy face. "For everything, really. It's great that you let me crash here for the night."

Her face fell into a practiced pout, and eyelashes drooping, Scarlet said plaintively, "Oh, you can't be leavin' already. Jack said you weren't to be out of bed for days." Her eyelid dropped in a knowing wink.

"I know, I know." He smiled winsomely, choking down his embarrassment, and she swiftly melted. "I'm just running out for a few supplies," Will explained, innocent eyes firmly in place. "Jack seems to think computers run on rum and luck, but I need a few other things, and since they're kind of specialized, it'd be easiest if I bought them myself."

"Well, I s'pose that sounds all right," Scarlet allowed.

"Precisely! It's just that I'm in the middle of something-" Will pointed to the laptop "-and I need someone to keep an eye on it. It's sort of important, so…"

"Oh, no need to explain that, honey," Scarlet interjected, patting his arm. "I've got the sledgehammer ready and willin', if anyone comes for it 'sides Jack."

"Ah, yeah," Will mumbled, eying her flouncing lace with a bit more deference. She suddenly put a hand to her mouth, looking absolutely crushed by consternation. "Lord above, where are my manners," Scarlet said self-critically. "Here you are, barely from the sickbed, and I haven't even offered you a selection. C'mon, darlin'."

The 'selection' turned out to be an extensive collection of guns, knives and liquor. "Take anything you fancy, dear," Scarlet told Will. "I've got more'n I know what to do with." She stood up on tiptoe-in six-inch spike heels-and gave Will airkisses on both cheeks, then swirled out. "Best of luck to you, honey. I've got to start getting' ready for tonight, so go on and help yourself."

Blinking rapidly, Will did just that. Five minutes later, biting the sides of his mouth against the soreness, he was hotwiring the nearest car to the candy-apple-red Mercedes that, beyond a doubt, had to belong to Scarlet. And two minutes after that, he was heading for the highway, cell phone glued to his ear as he began calling hospitals.


Brushing himself off, Sands stepped into the street just as Jack came to a squealing halt in front of the Tijuana, fishtailing his car in between a Buick and a boat trailer. He flung himself out and intercepted the other man, asking harshly, "Where are they?"

"What-he got hold of you already?" Sands shot back, shoving Jack off.

"Who?" One hand clamped to Sands' jacket, Jack dragged both men back to the bar entrance so he could glance in, and immediately clapped a hand over his nose against the stench.

"Your Brit," Sands replied, vexation leaking into his nonchalance. "Sounded younger this time. You finally wear out Norrington, or some-"

At the other man's words, Jack desperately searched for his cell, and when he found it missing, he smacked his forehead in realization. "Oh, Christ."

"Huh, they're still here," Sands observed, looking off across the street. Jack followed his gaze to the familiar car…and the two women staggering halfway into its back door. "Honestly, Sparrow, can't you train them any better?"

The blonde one's head shot up, and she called tentatively, "Jack? Anamaria's been shot."

"And hopefully she'll stay down for once," Sands snarked. Whipping his head around, Jack started to snarl something, then thought the better of it and tossed Sands forward.

"Hey! You shitwit, these are good Italian shoes-" the other agent began, stumbling off the curb. And then the gunshots and snapping chains blasted his attention elsewhere, and he looked up just in time to catch the rumbling scrape of a speedboat coming directly at him. "Sparrow! You fuckass!" Sands shouted, just barely diving out of the way.

Jack, however, was already across the street, helping Elizabeth get Anamaria into the backseat. Sands momentarily considered shooting out their gas tank, but the twinge of the bullet grazes persuaded him differently. "Well, fuck you and fuck Miami," he yelled, stalking off. "You can have this goddamned whore, but you'd damned well better stay the hell away from my beat."


"Jack,y'con, get th'fuck off," Anamaria growled, slapping away his hands. "Where's th'boy?"

"Sands made a call t'him, damn his eyes," Jack answered distractedly. "Will's got my cell; we can track 'em that way."

"You lost Will? How the fuck could you lose him?" Elizabeth cried, abruptly letting go of Anamaria. The other woman immediately took advantage of the situation and booted both people out of the car, then yanked the door shut and tumbled over into the front seat. Anamaria nearly slipped on wetness, but managed to grab hold of the car wheel and pull herself up. Hastily wiping her slickened hand off on her pants, she twisted the key and put the car into gear, then chucked her phone out the window into Jack's waiting hands. "'m goin' for Norrington," she called out the window, voice jagging with pain. "Go find Will!"

"Wait!" Elizabeth threw a hand out, but Jack caught her about the waist and lifted her to safety just as Anamaria bolted the car out onto the street. "She's bleeding, she can't-"

"She can an' is," Jack contradicted, continuing to haul Elizabeth toward his own car. "C'mon, girl. Where'd Will be?"

"Ow, you're hurting-" Jack let go and wrenched the car door open, pausing only to page somebody before he tossed the phone to Elizabeth and climbed into the car. "My name's Elizabeth. And who'd you call?"

"Clean-up," he answered succinctly. "M'phone's the first on th'list."

Clambering in and strapping the seatbelt across her, Elizabeth dialed swiftly, then clawed for the handlebar as Jack spun them onto the road. "Do you all drive like this?" she yelled, tapping her feet impatiently between ringing tones.

"Why, y'd want lessons?" Jack retorted, dredging up a saucy smile from somewhere. The next turn almost put Elizabeth into his lap, and then the recoil sent her reeling backwards with…with the scent of…she slammed her fist on the dash. "You fucked, didn't you," she accused lowly.

"What?" Jack's head turned, setting the bones dangling from his hair to tinkling against the window.

"You did," Elizabeth said, voice growing louder. "You fucked him. You fucked Will! I can smell him on you!"

"Mary, Mother of-is he answerin'?" Jack demanded with more than some asperity in his voice.

"Are you playing him? Or are you serious?" Elizabeth snapped back. And then someone picked up on the other line.


"Will!" Elizabeth breathed, her heart's swell shattering the bands around it. "God, it's just been…are you okay? Where are you?"

*I'm, um…I've been better. I'm--*

"Where is he?" Jack growled, drowning out Will's words. Glaring, Elizabeth waved her driver silent…and then she got a look at his eyes.


"Oh! Will," Elizabeth breathed, startled. "I didn't hear you the first time. Where are you?"


"Sir, there's a woman here to-" the Versace-suited man was vehemently elbowed aside by one Louisiana hurricane. Anamaria slammed the door shut, then marched across the room and knocked the phone from Norrington's frozen hand.

"Damn it, Anamaria," he snapped, beginning to rise. "This is my cover office. Not everyone here knows-"

"Jack's with Elizabeth, Will's on the loose, an' nobody's got a fuckin' idea where Barbossa's at," she interrupted, slapping car keys into his hand. "Get down t'the Tortuga. Now."

And then her eyes rolled back to the stark whites, and she slumped over into his arms. "Ana-" One of Norrington's hands ended up under the windblazer she'd had wrapped against herself, and slipped over thick, sticky fluid. "Oh, dear God," Norrington murmured.

Carefully setting the woman down onto the ground, he came to the door in two steps and hurled it open, roaring, "Call an ambulance! Gillette, get in here and see to Anamaria's wounds. Where's Groves?"

"Here, sir!" gasped the aforementioned man, dashing up from a conference room down the hall. "What's the matter?"

"Everyone else, you've just received a half-day," Norrington continued curtly. "Go home and ignore the news reports. Groves, with me." He turned smartly and exited the offices, snatching up briefcase and umbrella along the way.


"Oh, good," Elizabeth said into the cell, and then turned to Jack. "He's turned about and is heading back for the Tortuga. All considering, he'll get there ten or so minutes before we do."

"Bloody whelp," Jack sighed, passing a hand over his headscarf. The car cartwheeled around an intersection, just missing a truck of apples, and he pointed it back towards the nightclub. "Goddamned Sands."

"Cuntbag almost blew off my face," Elizabeth agreed. "I just wanted some water for Anamaria, and he was hogging the sink for his stupid piddling cuts." Worry seeping into her face, she asked more quietly, "Will she be okay?"

"Ana? She's taken far worse an' lived t'curse th'doers," Jack reassured. They drove in silence for quite a few miles before Elizabeth found the courage to return to the earlier conversation. "So…" she said apprehensively. "You and Will…"

"He did say somethin' 'bout you not mindin'," Jack replied, far too blithely. "Y'got a problem, it'd be wi' him."

A reluctant grin twitching around her lips, Elizabeth looked over and studied the profile presented against the glass-shard blue sky. "I don't, not like that," she clarified. "We're not…it's different from lovers, and not really lovers, either. At least, not the marrying kind. But I do love him, and care about him."

"Jus' how far are you willin' t'go for him?" he asked, slanting a glance over.

"I'd die for him," Elizabeth answered quietly, dropping her eyes to her nails. They were badly chipped and brown was crusted beneath every one.

Making some odd movement with his head that Elizabeth barely recognized as a nod, Jack said approvingly, "Good. No worries then, like I said t'him."

"What about you?" Elizabeth abruptly inquired. "Is there anything you'd die for?"

"My Pearl," Jack answered promptly. "An' 'fore you ask, she's a gorgeous sailing ship. Not a girl. Savvy?"

"Huh." Picking at a hangnail, she mused, "Will's father died for you, in a way. Didn't he?"

"I know," Jack replied, unexpectedly sharp. "An' I'll watch Will. But not 'cause I'm owing for Bootstrap. A man makes his decisions as he pleases, and thus his fate's his own."

"Good," Elizabeth smirked. "You are fond of him."

"What?" Swiveling his head, Jack stared intensely at the woman, his kohl-lined eyes burning like the jewel-orbs of a pagan idol. Then he turned his attention back to careening through the streets, shaking his head. "Women. Always havin' th'strangest ideas."

"Whatever," Elizabeth said dismissively. "Can't fault you, you know. Will's just too glittery. And beneath all that shit, he's real gold, too."


"Now you listen to me, you stuck-up Brit tightass-"

"Madam, would you like another cup of coffee?" Norrington queried, determinedly ignoring the rabid police detectives frothing at his side. Scarlet smiled demurely, replying, "Why, thank you, Mr. Norrington. And thank you. I don't know what I would've done if you and your boys hadn't shown up." A surprising glint of steel shimmered up to the surface as she added more soberly, "Nevah seen anythin' like 'em. They jus' simply refuse to stay down."

"Indeed," Norrington agreed, glancing over at the raving, cravings-maddened addicts being chained down to the stretchers. Involuntarily shuddering himself, he resolutely suppressed the memories of rawboned horrors spewing blood and flesh but still continuing to move forward.

"Hey, are you even listening-"

"Detectives!" called a merrily wavering, very familiar voice. "Terribly sorry t'get you out on a lovely day like this, but you're in luck…'s a Federal investigation, so nothin' for your fine men t'worry over." Jack Sparrow came staggering up to greet the crestfallen faces of the local law enforcement, Elizabeth trailing bemusedly behind him. A wide cat's-grin plastered itself across Scarlet's face, and Norrington briefly allowed himself to meet it with his own smirk.

No matter how intently he studied the man, he never could quite figure out how Jack could make a milling mass of paramedics, police officers and bystanders appear or disappear in an eyeblink. Nevertheless, that was exactly what happened under Norrington's fascinated gaze.

"Where's Will?" Elizabeth broke into his thoughts.

"Will went shoppin'," Scarlet answered. "'Round an hour ago, I do believe."

"And he's not back?" Jack asked, walking up with an odd expression on his face. Clearly confused, Scarlet replied cautiously, "Well, no…but I didn't let 'im go without a few presents. Jack-"

"Shit," Jack snapped, unusually terse. "Did he leave anything?"

"Oh, yes!" Scarlet said, dropping her grimy-headed sledgehammer and rushing inside. She emerged a few minutes later with a laptop. "He said only you were to touch this, darlin'."

Fingers uncharacteristically fumbling, Jack took the laptop and opened it up, then took it out of sleep mode. A screen as blue as the ocean greeted him, while in the middle a golden compass spun idly.

"But…it's not pointing north," Elizabeth noted.

"Jack, what is it?" Norrington asked, putting a hand on the other man's shoulder. Beneath it, he could feel the muscles spasming.

"It's…" Jack cleared the screensaver. "It's the compiler and programs. No interpreter." He stood still for a moment, then shoved the laptop at Elizabeth and started making his way inside the nightclub. "Will, you goddamned idiot," he muttered.


He'd barely gotten out of the car when they had struck. Will's mind had tingled, and he had ducked just in time to avoid a crowbar to the head. Yanking out Scarlet's gun, he had managed to put down three of them before one had leaped over the car behind him, and too late, he had twisted away. The last clear memory he had was of someone saying, "Hurry up an' blow th'nightclub; we ain't got t'wait anymore. Or we goin' t'miss the boat."

And then a kick to the head had sent him into darkness.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Game Outtake: Girltalk

Will: Ow. Now both ends of me hurt.
Elizabeth: *smacks him* Shut up. At least you've gotten some. She's waving two guys and a girl in front of me. Hell, I even get the perfect set-up for some h/c, but what happens? Nothing! Just Jack showing up and dragging me off.
Jack: 'Just Jack'? Liz m'dear, I b'lieve you'd be needin' some corrective measures. God. All o' you just keep runnin' 'round like headless rats, leavin' me t'clean up after you. Don' know why I should bother, 'stead of stickin' to what I know'll stay put. Right, Jaime?
Will: 'Headless rats'?
James: Thanksgiving with Anamaria's family. And I have no knowledge whatsoever as to what you're referring to, Jack.
Elizabeth: So she said we get to loosen him up, right? 'Cause gentlemanly dorkiness only goes so far.
Sands: Really. Well, whenever you'd like to go, pretty…
Anamaria: Like hell, whiteskin. I'm the testosterone alternative, here.
Sands: That would explain a lot.
Will: Dammit, Jack, couldn't you have squashed him properly?
Jack: Most dearly wanted to, Turner. Unfortunately, we crossover again in 'Dinner Party,' an' that's in the future, so th'bastard's got t'live. Not t'mention, El might get upset.
Elizabeth: 'The'?
Anamaria: Which the? There's the threesome El, the psychic El, the possessive psychotic kink El-
El: *emerges from shadows, freaking everyone out* Third-arm kink leather kink exhibitionist salsa-dancing El.
Sands: *high-pitched and nervous* El! You got a sense of humor!
El: This version of me's always had a sense of humor. Sparrow? *hands over fistful of dollars* This is for the dry-cleaning. *leaves with manically-grinning Sands tucked firmly under an arm*
James: I don't believe I shall ask.
Jack: So that's why he was starin' at m'car earlier.
Will: *puzzled* Hey, so just what pairings are we then? It keeps changing.
Jack: You're wi' me and Elizabeth, Liz is wi' you and Anamaria and Jaime, Jaime's wi' me. You share me wi' Liz, and you share Liz wi' Anamaria and Jaime, and you share me wi' Jaime, and I share you wi' Liz. Savvy?
Elizabeth: *blinking rapidly* No.
Anamaria: S'all right, fille. It'll all work out.
James: In bed. *all stare* Fortune cookie law, according to Jack. Always add 'in bed' to the end. *all still staring* What? I don't like waiting any more than you; I'm simply more dignified about it.
Will: Okay, he's definitely getting nookie next. He needs it. All agree?
Everyone except James: Aye!


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