Tangible Schizophrenia


Game 4: Chess

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R. Violence and foreplay.
Pairing: Jack/Will, Will/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Anamaria, Elizabeth/Norrington, Norrington/Will. Ref. to Jack/Norrington.
Feedback: Beloved above everything, except really good hot smut.
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately. Am still having fun.
Summary: Part 4 of 'Game,' which is probably just one multi-part fic instead of an actual series.
Notes: Anamaria's curses are in French and English. Translations provided upon request. Written with much glee to Billy Joel's 'Captain Jack.' Dedicated to penm, whom I would love just for her awesome Sands icon, even if she didn't write incredible smutty Sands/El.


"Norrington, if y'think we're goin' in wi' anythin' less than a full arsenal, y're sadly mistaken." Glaring at the clump of Brits on the other side of the table, Anamaria palmed an apple from the centerpiece and bit into it, the defiantly sharp crunch echoing around the room. "I know we're both down men, but this ain't a Mexican standoff, here."

"An' th'doctor's not cleared you yet," Jack pointed out, snagging Will as he walked in and pulling the other man onto his lap. Squirming under the many raised eyebrows, Will snapped, "Dammit, Jack. I'm not going to-where would I run to, anyway? We're in James' kitchen."

"All I need's one finger, Sparrow, an' you know that-"

"'m enthralled by your pants, Will. Where'd Scarlet get so many chains-"

"Sir, London just called. They'd like an update-"


The only person not staring at the knife quivering in the table top, James covered his face with one hand and simply growled. "Elizabeth, that was perfectly good mahogany," he muttered.

Still toying with Anamaria's other knives, Elizabeth looked up with wide eyes and replied in an innocent tone, "But it's far too dark for the color scheme you have. Will and I've this antique cherry set that would suit much better." She dropped her chair down to all four legs. "Back to business. Will, shut up; you look cute like that. Anamaria, someone's got to coordinate, and if it's a junkyard, nobody inside's going to be able to see around all the shitpiles. And Jack, if Will goes off and is an idiot, I have first dibs on killing him, so stop worrying. I'll even bury the body for you."

Triumphantly regarding the silent onlookers, Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest and slumped back in her seat. Then jolted up, squeaking indignantly. Will and Anamaria calmly removed their fingers from the younger woman's ass, while Jack buried his head in Will's neck to hide his laughter. "Your girlfriend's a bit terrifyin'," he whispered to the other man. Then he glanced at the surveillance photos and satellite maps on the table. "All right, Jaime," Jack said in a graver tone. "What'd be th'overall plan for y'men?"

"Surround Isla de la Muerte and slowly close in on Barbossa," James answered. He cocked his head to the side, shuffling through the papers until he came to a grid map. "As we aren't sure as to Barbossa's exact location, I intend to split my men into small groups and assign each team to one sector. I know the numbers seem low, but we also have to consider the idea that the smuggler with the CD has not returned to his superior."

"That sounds reasonable," Will commented, leaning in to take a closer look. "By the way, the other CD's in transit to Langley right now, so we don't have to worry about that."

"No, I merely have to worry about the various ways that Jack means to turn my logic upside down," the other man sighed. Throwing a look of exasperation so old it was expectation, Norrington waited for the inevitable.

"Jaime, Jaime, Jaime," Jack said, voice and body signaling his profound sense of injury. "Y'know full well I'm never not unreasonable. Though now that y'mentioned it, I'd like t'add a few suggestions, if y're takin'."

Spreading his hands, James looked as open as a public phone book. "Of course, Sparrow. After all, as you say, take all you can…"

"…give nothing back," chorused everyone else in the room, with tones varying from resignation to mirth. Grinning broadly, Jack declared, "Now all I've got t'do is teach th'song t'you." Perceptibly restraining himself from further commentary, he returned to the matter at hand. "Now, Barbossa's not thinkin' straight anymore, I reckon. Back on th'Interceptor, he was takin' shots at both Will an' m'self. So he won' stop an' count th'cost. No doubt he's got a few men left-an' that's where MI6 steps in-but like Anamaria was yellin', th'line's too thin t'stop a full charge. An' he'll charge it. Savvy?"

"Yes," James acknowledged reluctantly. Some of the Brits rustled behind him, but a razoring glare soon put their feet to rest. Turning back, he continued, "I don't pretend to assume what's in your mind, Jack, but this and support staff are about all I can offer. Our offices are a shambles; honestly, if it was anyone but Barbossa, I would have said wait and rebuild first."

"Anyone 'cept Barbossa's governmental associates, y'mean," Anamaria interjected. "He gets out o' Florida, an' he's got enough blackmail for asylum in more'n a few places. Salaud."

"Which means…" Elizabeth trailed off suggestively. Beside her, Will suddenly sat straight up, feet going down to straddle either side of Jack's leg. He twisted about and stared at his lover. "You can't be serious," he told Jack incredulously. "It's a junkyard! Huge stacks of bulletproof shit all over. And not only that, Isla de la Muerte is, in fact, an island. Three sides water, and metal barring the fourth. Getting backed into a corner is a bad thing, remember?"

"Mon dieu, he is," Anamaria added slowly, staring at her leader. "An' I can't come. Goddammit."

"Will, lad, first rule o' warfare's when in doubt, attack." Holding up a hand, Jack forestalled the arguments he could see sprouting from the other man's lips. "Look, trust me; I know how th'man thinks, an' where he'll try t'cross. 'sides, Barbossa tends t'lose his temper when I'm about. Might help."

Still looking rebellious, Will subsided gradually. "Fine. I--" he blinked "-I trust you. But I'm also coming. And I'd rather Elizabeth didn't, but she wants to, so she is too."

Startled, Elizabeth ceased observing the byplay and stuttered, "Wait, Will-" the rest of the sentence hit her brain "-well, obviously I'm going with you. Only way I'll ever keep track of anyone."

"So I'm stuck wi' Norrington?" Anamaria griped, the insolent arch to her lip the only thing standing between her and a pout. "That'd be twice over y're owin' me now, fille."

"As much as this amuses me," James broke in, tone dry and anything but humorous, "I would like to have a confirmed plan. Despite the deviations that will undoubtedly crop up."

"Any objections?" Jack asked, twirling in the chair to scan over all the faces. The silent faces. "Ah. Good. Let's have breakfast, then."


Glancing up with a harried expression at the knock, James quickly smoothed his face over and hit 'sleep' mode on his laptop, then waved toward the seat on the other side of his desk. "Come in," he greeted Will, who'd apparently found a pair of pants that didn't jingle.

"Thanks." The other man handed one of the two steaming cups of coffee he held to James, then perched on the edge of the desk. On top of a few folders, which rustled alarmingly. Deliberately suppressing his urge to snatch, James drained his coffee, then set down the empty mug and folded his hands in his lap, looking up inquiringly. "Did you wish to discuss something?" he asked politely.

"Gimme a moment," Will murmured, taking a deep draft of java. Releasing a contented sigh, he said wonderingly, "Anamaria makes unbelievable coffee."

"Why on earth else would the Caribbean MI6 and CIA fraternize so much?" James replied, the corner of his mouth tugging up. "She's the only operative for countries around that knows anything about brewing."

"Tell me about it. You could use Liz's as motor oil," Will remarked disparagingly, darting a conspiratorial glance at the other Brit. Then he rolled his eyes and reached under him. "Okay, okay." Hand re-emerging with a sheaf of papers, Will proffered them to James, who reached out and began to take them.

Ceramic clattered loudly as Will's mug joggled onto the desk top. A strong grip wrapped itself around James' outstretched wrist and yanked it forward till his face and Will's were less than a breath apart. "So Lizzie and I haven't been able to catch up on much," the younger man said conversationally, as if requesting more crumpets with butter, please. "But yeah, your name came up. And Anamaria's, but I'll tackle her when I get some decent weapons."

Mind checking off the next fifteen or so moves, James nodded and assumed the air he used when questioning prominent politicians. "Mr. Turner, I assure you that my intentions regarding Elizabeth will never endanger her or her relationship with you."

"Oh, good. You didn't say they were pure," Will noted. "'cause God help you if she thinks you're condescending or boring."

And that was not on the list of predicted responses. James' eyebrow went up, and he said, more warily, "I take it you have no opposition to…additions?"

"That's a stupid question," the other man snorted. "If that were true, then I should be running from you after last night."

Rolling his shoulders covertly to reduce some of the strain, James shrugged meaningfully. "Jack and I long ago found a balance in our relations to each other. Which does not include monogamy. It's a characteristic that, I've discovered, does not suit either our personalities or our professions."

Will relaxed at that, ever so slightly. "How much do you like Elizabeth?" he asked offhandedly.

"A great deal," the older man replied seriously, eyes unchanging sincerity as they gazed at Will. A rueful chuckle trickled out of James' throat. "If I were to entertain any thoughts of marriage, she would be their focus. Surprisingly enough. It's been more than an age since I last saw her."

"Or a very compressed lifetime," Will suggested, voice briefly distant. "Three days between. Could read a lot of symbolism into that, if I actually remembered something of school." He finally let go of Norrington's wrist, but remained leaning forward, and James didn't alter his position either. "But that's good. That's one less thing I have to worry about."

"I thought you and Jack had reconciled," James commented, a bit surprised. "Or is it Barbossa?"

"Ah…neither, really." Will gnawed momentarily at his lip, then impatiently pushed the dangling hair out of his face. "It's the Aztec Gold. I…once I went to meet with a customer who'd gotten an imperfect version of it. And he died-he-just before I would've had to kill him to get his hands off my throat." He swallowed hard, sucking in air. "From what Liz tells me, the addicts haven't gotten any better."

"She's right." At the black current in James' tone, Will's head jerked back up from its gradual downward drift. The older man braced a knee against the edge of the desk and went on, "It seems that Barbossa's men are using it as a kind of 'steroid,' a way to switch to berserker mode during a fight. I've seen it twice, and I have to say, among all my experiences it's almost without parallel."

"Yeah," the younger man recalled. "You mentioned it on the phone earlier. One guy broke out of handcuffs and pretty much firebombed your entire suite of offices."

"One. Man." James spat out the words as if they were coated in acid, leaving them to etch holes in the space between the two men. "Twenty armed agents, and one man. And not a particularly impressive one."

A hand fell on his shoulder. "Hey," Will said lowly, fixing an intense stare on the other Brit. "Knock it off, secret agent man. At least you don't get kidnapped over and over."

Looking up, James saw no mockery in the face before him, despite Will's light tone. "It's very kind of you to say so," he sighed, raising a hand to rub at his temple.

"Get bent," Will retorted roughly, pushing himself the rest of the way across the desk to land awkwardly in James' lap. There was a short tussle and a moment of anxiety when Will's knee jabbed dangerously low, and then the two men ceased, panting. Keeping his fingers firmly entwined in the older man's ponytail, Will glared down. "Fuck off the pity-fest, Jaime-poo. In a couple hours I've got to give my back to you, and I'm damn well not doing that if you're going to fucking mope. And you know, if I really, really want it, Elizabeth will drop you so fast you'll lose all the skin off your ass."

"And if you'd really, really use your influence like that, then I should kill you right now, Jack's wishes be damned," James snarled back, twisting Will's other arm behind his back, which incidentally pinned them even more closely together. "I never let my personal foibles bleed into my personal life."

"Never?" Will mocked, pulling uselessly at his trapped limb.

James let the other man go so suddenly that Will came within a hair of toppling off the chair. Blowing out an aggravated breath, the older man dropped his arms to the sides of the chair. "Of course I'm lying," James snapped unhappily. "It's impossible to separate the two completely, witness Sparrow and his crew."

"Well, you're so professional that nine out of ten jackass experts probably couldn't tell the difference," Will replied, tone taking a hairpin turn into joking. He rubbed at his sore arm, a wry smile on his face. "And for the record, I would never do that. Though I won't refrain from telling Liz she's being an idiot."

"I knew that," James said, faintly amused. Lolling his head onto the back of the chair, he studied the plaster mouldings at the tops of the walls. "Jack's judgment in people has improved considerably since the mutiny."

"You know," Will mused, massaging James' scalp apologetically, "I can't remember if Jack's seen an addict in action yet."

"He's come up against innocent-well, addicts that weren't otherwise engaged in criminal activities," the older man replied, subtly moving into Will's touch.


"And," James snorted disbelievingly, "Anamaria swears on her mother's bones that he said, 'That's interestin' and backhanded them with her shotgun. Without any hesitation whatsoever. But afterwards he discovered the attack had broken all the rum bottles-they were in the Tortuga-and according to Anamaria, Jack cried like a child."

Will's laugh meshed very nicely with his own, James observed. "I'm sensing dependency issues," the younger Brit chuckled, bending down to put his cheek next to James'. Warm lips grazed against an ear, and James shivered once, bringing up a hand to rest lightly on Will's waist. Hmm-ing thoughtfully, Will glided his mouth lightly over the curve of James' jaw, then down to kiss the hollows in the throat. Teeth scraped, barely there before they were moving on, tapping up cheeks and over the bridge of the nose to finally click against their counterparts.

It was swampy and jarring and disgustedly good. Nerves roaring to life, Will dove recklessly into the mouth below him, and James fervently met him, nipping and slurping as hands slid over clothing, feeling the heat hidden below.

"Hey, we're ready to go-oooh. My. Lord."

"'s sparkly, isn't it?"

Hastily breaking apart, the two men got to their feet and turned to find Elizabeth and Jack lounging in the doorway. "Good thing I'm such a liberal girl," she grinned. "And even better that it's us walking in. Man, Jaime, how the hell do you explain this in your mission reports?"

"I don't," James answered blandly. "Brevity obliges me to pare all irrelevancies out of my paperwork."

"As y'say," Jack concurred, flapping his hands about wildly. After a moment, Will and James realized he was waving them out of the room, and rounded the desk to join the other two. Brushing a quick kiss over Will's cheek, Elizabeth grabbed James' hand and tugged. "C'mon," she urged. "Anamaria's waiting in the car, and she's getting twitchy."

"Guess I'd be takin' you, then," Jack said, hooking one arm through Will's.

"Already saw that," Elizabeth declared, affecting a jaded air. "Can't you boys come up with something new?" Will instantly smacked her arm, and she yelped, hiding behind James. The four tumbled out of the apartment, still laughing.


The earpiece fell out. Again. Elizabeth was seriously considering just squashing it under one heel like the pestiferous annoyance it was. And then, like a knight, Will swept it off the dusty ground and, using both hands, solemnly presented it to her. Torn between frustration and nervous giggling, Elizabeth chose to sigh infinitesimally and take it from him, popping the damn thing back in and hoping to God it stayed.

Anamaria noticed, and when Elizabeth next passed by the converted storage truck that housed the electronics, she snagged the younger woman. Cursing as she stumbled in, Elizabeth demanded, "What the fuck-"

"Hold still, fille," the other woman ordered, fingers fiddling around Elizabeth's ear. A few things shifted, some staticky hair was swiftly braided back, and when Elizabeth sat back, the earpiece felt as if it'd been glued in place. Looking over at Anamaria, she stated, "You are showing me how to do that."

"Later, later," the older woman brushed off. "Firs', y're draggin' Will out o' our computers an' back t'Jack where he's s'posed t'be."

"But-but it's all so damn gorgeous! I can't believe what you've got here," the aforementioned Brit protested from behind them, only half-joking. "Five more minutes? Please? I've almost got-"

"No," both women said firmly, and Elizabeth reached out, hooking one ankle and pulling until Will grumpily exited the truck. Elizabeth made to go as well, but she was abruptly snatched backwards to press up against a pair of full, yielding breasts. "One for later-" Anamaria's mouth tugged much-too-briefly on Elizabeth's earlobe "-an' one for luck." And beneath Elizabeth, a sure hand curled up between her legs to stroke once, drawing all the blood down to it.

Her shaking body was gently pushed outside the truck, and the older woman tossed her a brilliant smirk--only a little edged with anxiety--before Anamaria pulled the doors shut. Very slowly regaining her equilibrium, Elizabeth nearly knocked over into Norrington. She automatically apologized and continued walking, then whipped around. "I thought you were only doing support!" she exclaimed.

"My men are," James answered, checking the action on a gun. "But Jack has an uneven number of agents, and it would be more practical to go in twos."

"Oh." Elizabeth shrugged. "Well, I know you better than the CIA boys, anyway. Unless you want to go with Jack?"

"Actually," James said, turning to direct a considering stare across the parking lot, "I don't believe that's an option."

Following his gaze, she nodded. "Yeah. Wonder when Will's going to snap; he doesn't take coddling well."

"Hopefully, when Barbossa is in his sights," he murmured, slipping the gun back in its holster and crooking an arm. Chin up, Elizabeth took it. As they walked toward the entrance ramp of the Isla de la Muerte scrapyard, she favored James with a sly smile. "We've taken care of the 'dinner'," Elizabeth mentioned coyly. "But that still leaves coffee and dancing. Wanna find a pub afterwards?"

"It's been ages since I've had a good stout," James deliberated. "I suppose we could."


"Not to come off as gay-phobic or commitment-phobic or-all right. At this point I no longer care." Will sliced his free hand through the air for extra emphasis. "Jack, I don't shoot as well with my left hand. So let go of my right. Christ, we're almost ready to go in."

"Y're goin' t'hurt m'feelings, Turner," Jack retorted, swaying dangerously close before unexpectedly swinging away, dropping the hand as he did. Left in the cloud of rum mist and spicy smoke, Will beat down his desire to run after the other man and slap/kiss him, forcing himself to follow at a calm, sedate pace. It worked for maybe five minutes. "Jack," he called softly, speeding up. "Wait…wait for a minute."

Nearly over the junkyard fence, the older man paused till Will caught up, then hauled them both over to land crouching on the ground. He tapped his partner once on the shoulder, then whispered hurriedly, "Jus' wanted a moment. Not much time for 'em, usually."

Which immediately put regret in Will's mouth. But before he could say anything, their mikes crackled and Anamaria came on. *Stop smashin' your faces t'gether. Ev'ryone's in, Jack.*

Not removing his gaze from Will, Jack touched the tiny speaker-piece and said, "Savvy. We're in, so let's get started."

Directed by the hiss-and-spit tinny voice, they stealthily picked their way further into the scrapyard, gingerly clambering over the masses of old cars and fractured appliances, occasionally choking down a curse as they encountered pieces of metal still fresh enough to cut. Random bursts of gunfire in the distance signaled the opening confrontations, which Anamaria confirmed. Instead of moving toward them, however, Jack merely relayed a few instructions and then tugged Will in the opposite direction. Glimpsing puzzlement on the younger man's face, he crept in briefly to explain, "Barbossa's always goin' t'toss men overboard if he thinks it'll lighten th'load in a storm."

As they went on, Will and Jack progressively coasted apart, still keeping sight of each other, but spreading to cover more ground. A warning clank sent them diving sideways, and, sheltering behind a shattered dumpster, Will brought down the first smuggler. He swept his eyes over to catch Jack's nod and got back to his feet, traveling on.


Though she tried her damnedest, Elizabeth still ended up separated from James. Probably because of that one leap over the mound of lead pipes. Shaking the nerves off of her, she queried Anamaria, "Where's the nearest friend?"

*Y'lost Norrington already? For shame, fille; we're goin' t'get you trained up proper later. But y're in luck now. Jack's 'bout two hundred feet t'your left, past the-uh-magnetic crane. 'Least, I'm thinkin' that's what it is…stupid smeary photos…"

"Yeah, I see it," Elizabeth replied, already halfway there. Keeping her gun out and her eyes flickering everywhere, she searched for Jack and finally spotted him below her, cautiously soft-footing it over some rusting girders. And then she looked straight down the side of the pile and spotted a familiar grizzled head peering at her friend. Hatred rushing into her blood, Elizabeth quickly snapped off a shot, yelling, "Jack! He's here!"

But the angle was too steep, and the bullet ricocheted one way while Barbossa dove the other. Crashing her way down, Elizabeth kept sight of the fleeing man, but couldn't find a clear shot. She surged up a short stack of metal, finally getting a shot, and then a roar deafened her ears. Whipping around, she stared-

--and the addict, vaguely recognizable as one who'd held her back at Mr. Brown's house, lunged forward. Eyes blooming large, Elizabeth stumbled backward and promptly fell off. Just before she would've had her landing broken by a ripped-edge piece of sheet iron, two strong hands wrenched her back. She began to thank Jack, but then smelled the stench of dirt and stale vomit, and gasping, tried to fling herself away. But Barbossa simply chuckled warningly and clasped her closer, unmistakably enjoying her stiffening at the needle pricking her throat.


Racing across the small clearing, Jack saw it all, but couldn't stop it. Denied one target, the addict went for the other and came screaming into Jack's bullets. When the smuggler finally toppled over, Jack immediately swung his gun over and hoped, but it wasn't to be. Leering back, Barbossa pushed the syringe just that little bit more. Elizabeth was whimpering in huge gusts of breath, a hair away from hyperventilation.

"I don' believe you'll be usin' that," Jack's nemesis derided, jerking his chin at Jack's gun. "Down, now. Or poppet 'ere gets t'join th'ranks of th'undead."

"Ohgodohgodohgod-" Elizabeth gasped. Not lowering his gun, Jack interrupted soothingly, "Calm-be calm, Liz. It'll be fine. Just breath-breath, girl!"


"Salaud!" Anamaria screeched at the zoomed-in image. Her clenched fists beat a steady tattoo against the steel walls as she whirled up out of her seat and stormed toward the door. Only to find a quivering Groves, the tip of his raised gun tracing serrated ellipses in the air, blocking her way. "Madam," he commanded, voice hitching. "Please take a seat."

"Homme, y've got no fucking idea what y're doin'."

"And neither do you, I'm afraid," he answered, discernibly steeling up. "You can't do anything. There's absolutely no way you could make it there in time. So sit, and be of use where you can be of use."

Her mouth opened, then clicked shut. "Putain de merde," she hissed between her teeth, slamming herself back down into the chair. Ignoring the bolts of pain that sent up her leg and arm, Anamaria shoved the headset back on and stared at the monitors, lips moving silently.


When they'd begun running into too many smugglers to bother looking at each other all the time, Will had taken to counting Jack's bullets, listening for the clack of a fresh cartridge sliding home and then beginning again. So when he walked into the clearing and choked on his heart, he knew one bullet still nestled in Jack's gun. And he knew his own guns were all empty.

"Pleasepleaseplease don't-" Elizabeth was pleading, eyes wildly unseeing as Jack slowly squatted, gun held horizontal and out from him. Her breath was rushing up faster and faster, and Will knew from experience that she'd panic herself into a faint if nothing stopped her.

Glancing over, Barbossa saw Will's palms-up and nodded approvingly. "Whelp's got sense," he growled. "Now get over by ol' Jack, there."

Edging his way to the three, Will called gently, "Liz…it's Will. Will. Remember? Screams at monkeys?"

"Mon-mon-monkeys," she stammered, body beginning to ooze out tension. "Monkeys. The zoo. Just-just because it jumped at you."

"From behind bars," Will nodded, dredging up a smile from somewhere. He was almost by Jack, a mere pace from Elizabeth. She grinned back.

"Lovely, lovely," Barbossa commented sarcastically. "Now then, Jack-" he began moving toward the gun on the ground. "--I've been lookin' forward t'this for a long time. Bet you've been as well. Still miss her?" he jeered, reveling in the tic of Jack's cheek muscles. "Miss her swell under your feet." He turned to lock eyes with Will. "Y'll always be second fiddle to a ship, y'know," he taunted.

Will tore his gaze away from the hard madness and sought out Elizabeth's eyes, searching. Her head moved up and down, detectible only if you were looking for it.

"'s been an unrepeatable pleasure," Barbossa started, but then Elizabeth braced on her toes and threw herself backward, head cracking into the nose behind her. The syringe flew out of Barbossa's hand, and pouncing forward, Will seized Elizabeth and tossed her towards Jack, who'd leaped a heartbeat behind the other man. Above all their heads, a shot rang out.


Scrambling forward, newly-burnt cordite stinging his eyes, James bitterly cursed the treacherous rubble underfoot, already knowing what he'd find when he reached the others. When he reached the base of the mound, he stopped, taking in the deadlock.

Jack and Elizabeth were huddled together, glaring at the second pair. Bleeding profusely from one shoulder, Barbossa nevertheless retained enough strength to clamp Will's wrists together in front of the younger man with the hand of his wounded arm, while the other shoved one of Will's guns into the tender skin under the chin. "Used t'be a matter o' profit," the smuggler seethed, voice a crawling growl. "But ev'rything's always got t'be personal wi' you, Jack. Well, so be it. CD's in m'pocket, an' now I'm leavin' with it. An' wi' young William 'ere. I took th'first Turner, an' I'll take th'second."

Gun half-raised, Jack said nothing in reply.

"Will-" Elizabeth cried, stricken and reaching for him. He denied her that with one sharp burning glance. "No, Liz. Just wait," he ordered.

"Aye, just wait," Barbossa echoed, tugging his hostage to his feet. Jack rose as well, still silent. The smuggler clucked his tongue scornfully. "Now, now. Be sendin' you his body soon enough, Captain. So just sit."

"'fraid I can't," Jack answered finally, bringing his gun all the way up. And then he hesitated.

"Shoot him," Will snapped, nerves strung nearly to breaking. "There's no bullets left. You've got one. Shoot him!"

"A likely story," Barbossa sneered. "You goin' t'count on that fairytale, Sparrow?"

"Jack-" Will put all his heart into his eyes "-I trust you. Now shoot him."

"Wrong question, whelp," the smuggler interrupted. "Question's whether he trusts you. An' I'm thinkin' not enough, so we'll jus' be leavin'-"

Jack fired.


Everyone froze. Norrington at the sidelines. Will and Barbossa pressed together in a mockery of affection, Jack grim-faced over his smoking gun. Elizabeth staring. Anamaria and Groves glued to their TV screens.

And then, so very slowly, Will felt warm liquid trickle onto the back of his neck. The gun fell from his chin, the arms from his wrists, and Barbossa's body, black hole glaring like a third eye from the forehead, collapsed slowly backwards. Limbs still numb, Will turned to look down blankly at his father's murderer, then twisted back to be enveloped in Elizabeth's embrace. "You goddamned techie moron," she whispered, voice bound tight, arms squeezing the breath out of Will.

Uncaring now, he wrapped his arms around her and returned the hug fiercely, scenting her golden hair. Then looked over her shoulder. Feeling the movement, Elizabeth gave him one last clutch, and then stepped away, letting Jack come forward to drown Will in a ferocious kiss. He clung to the older man, pulling hair and digging nails into fabric and smooth muscle as he wound himself around Jack, who more than reciprocated.


*Fucking finally,* sighed Anamaria in Elizabeth's ear as the younger woman knelt by the body and dug out the CD. It was James that answered, pulling Elizabeth up to clasp her to his front. "Call mop-up," he said tiredly. "We'll drag them out before they become indecent."

"It's…over," Elizabeth murmured, folding her hands over his. "Wow. I…I think I'm going to be coming down from this all night."

"Thank God for Jack," he replied, a thread of self-condemnation weaving among the heartfelt tone of his voice. She snorted, laying her head on his chest. "Stop that," Elizabeth said. "Your shot kept Barbossa from getting Jack's gun, so the fucker had to take one of Will's instead."

"I-" she glowered up at him. "That's true," James finished, tone still uncertain. But at least he was considering the idea that he wasn't responsible for the world, Elizabeth thought. She had plenty of time to cement it firmly into his brain. Time. They had time.

Before them, Will and Jack had stopped kissing, but remained cheek-to-cheek, simply taking in each other's breath.


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