Tangible Schizophrenia


Sleuth: Sam Spade

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17.
Pairing: Combinations of Jack/Will/Elizabeth/James (Norrington)/Anamaria
Feedback: Always welcome. In fact, I'll beg. Pretty please?
Disclaimer: Belongs to other people and mice.
Notes: Anamaria curses in French ('le con' is 'cunt', while 'un con' is moron/asshole/dumbass; when Anamaria says just 'con', it's meant as 'dumbass'). Full translations provided upon request. Tiny ref. to Die Another Day. //words// in Portuguese.
Summary: Elizabeth does Ghost-busters, and Will proves once and for all that he, in fact, is not a dork.


"I'm afraid the word 'interceptor' means nothing to me, unless Commo-damn it, Mr. Norrington was referring to a phonetap," Groves said frustratedly, hand clenched tightly around the edge of his desk. He looked up momentarily into Will's resolute expression, then dropped his head again. "And I'd assume 'Port Ro-' is Port Royal, but I don't know-"

"It's the name of a bar," Gillette broke in, dropping a fresh stack of files in front of his colleague. He tore off a blank piece of paper from a legal pad on the desk and scribbled furiously, then handed it to Will. "Directions."

"Not a good part of town," Will muttered, scanning it once before he folded it and slipped it into a pocket. "And I left my guns with Jack's team."

Groves stared at Gillette until the other man cracked and said, "I suppose we can lend you something." He turned precisely on one heel and exited the office, threading his way through the throng of madly-working people.

"What about 'hound'? And Martinez?" Will asked, tone brooking no argument.

"How many languages do you speak?" Groves counter-questioned. When the other man would have protested, he elucidated, "It's important, all right? My hands are-goddamn it, they're chained-and-balled. We don't have enough men in town to mount a search. Our computer systems are compromised, so we have to stay here and guard the data. But you're not, so you get to go after the Commodore."

"You keep calling him that," Will noted.

"I've known him since we were in the Royal Navy together."

Searching Groves' face, Will found nothing but sincere worry and aggravation. "English, obviously, and a couple dialects of Spanish. Portuguese, bit of Cantonese, and some Dutch. And French swears, from Anamaria." He waved away the other man's surprise. "Da was a sailor, remember? And I've lived in the crappier half of Miami for a while. You don't at least know Spanish, you're gonna get cheated out of your own piss."

"I see," Groves replied, looking rather awed. He shuffled through the files on the desk, talking in Portuguese as he did. //Not everyone in this office knows about the entire Martinez affair. He's more than the ordinary informant; in fact, he's more like a freelance spymaster. And lately, his networks have been sending some disturbing information about a private resort in the Caribbean that, apparently, is using state-of-the-art DNA manipulation to alter people's appearances.//

The other man handed Will a photo. //We've tracked several criminals that have frequented the resort. Some are being pursued by other MI6 operatives, but one, who we've codenamed 'Hound' for his addiction to betting on dog-races, happens to base his operations out of Miami. We broke up his organization last month, but the Hound himself slipped through our fingers.//

Looking down at the photograph, Will found himself staring at a sleepy-eyed man with a prominent scar across his right cheek. //Rafael Maricalla? I know about him.//

//You do--// At the knock, both men's heads shot up. Gillette entered just long enough to hand Will two holstered guns and some ammunition cartridges. As the other MI6 agent left, Groves stood up as well and crossed to the door, shutting it and turning to face Will. //It must be a revenge play//, he said soberly. //Maricalla tracked the Commodore down and tried to kill him.//

//If he's been to this resort//, Will replied, //Then he won't look like this anymore, will he?//

//He hasn't been yet, luckily. He was scheduled for this week, but as he's lost most of his resources, he can't afford it…he probably hates the Commodore now.// Groves looked pained.

Setting his jaw, Will tossed the photo back onto the desk and began to strap the guns on. "I'll start at the Port Royal, then. And I'll try to call every hour at the least; if I don't-"

"I understand." The other man half-lifted a hand. "Have you contacted Jack's team?"

"No. There's no time," Will answered, snagging his duffel bag from the floor and stowing the gun cartridges in it. "Not for the main members; they're all scattered for the holidays. If I don't call, or I can't find him by noon tomorrow, then get in touch with Elizabeth and Jack: they're in New Orleans at Anamaria's." He gave Groves a determined glance. "I am calling whoever's still in Miami. Long as I've got Jack's phone, might as well make use of it."

"It occurs to me that we should update to a cell phone model that has GPS in it," Groves remarked, stepping forward. He clapped a hand on Will's arm and squeezed briefly, then moved away from the door. "Godspeed."


Jack eyed the door dubiously. "Lizzie, it's dark out. It's dark in. Y'sure y'don' want t'wait till mornin'?"

"Positive," Elizabeth replied, then repeated it in a firmer voice. "Positive." She waved toward the door. "Go on ahead."

"Very kind o' you," he said, words just a little sarcastic. Snorting, Elizabeth reminded him, "Jack, I'm lousy at lockpicking."

At this, his face cleared up considerably. "That y'are." Kneeling down, Jack palmed one of his hair ornaments and fiddled with the doorknob for a few seconds till something clicked. The door slowly swung inwards, hinges rasping almost ominously. Coming up behind Jack, Elizabeth slipped her arm through his, her other hand tightening its grip on her pen, notepad and tape measure. Darting a look at her, Jack grudgingly started to move into the room. "So tell me again what we'd be doin', Liz?"

"Like you said, it's late," she replied. "So we're just going to take measurements of everything and check for the obvious: loose floorboards, that sort of thing. Lay down the foundation-work. And stop whispering. It's not helping."

"Sorry. Truly, I am."

Working swiftly, they got the dimensions for the room and most of the furniture down before anything began. Jack heard it first. "Ah, Elizabeth? I'd back away from th'bed, towards me."

Regarding him inquiringly, she did as he said, walking rather faster than strictly necessary back to his side. "What-"

Jack smooshed his finger against her lips a moment longer, then dropped his hand to her arm. "Listen," he murmured.

Wind. A slight breeze, setting the curtains at window and bed to stirring. Gusting, building up into a low moan. Unthinkingly, Jack and Elizabeth edged back to the door. They had just reached it when-

--"Didn' know air had color," Jack mumbled, staring at the swirling column of white inside the bed hangings.

"Our Father, who art thou in heaven…" Elizabeth recited nervously.

Wrong! Wronged!

The howl spewed out of the misty form, now shaping itself into a wild-maned woman with fiery eyes. She glared at the two who had dared enter her domain, sweeping down off the mattress. Her neck was oddly-shaped, as if it'd been stretched…

Wrong! she screeched, and it was like glass shoved into their ears. Crying out incoherently, Elizabeth fell back, taking Jack with her as she went. Behind them, the door slammed shut.

Dust settled back onto the floor. The wind died down. Staring at each other, Elizabeth and Jack wheezed, slowly regaining their breath.

"That was…int'resting," Jack finally volunteered.

"My God," Elizabeth panted. "I'm in a ghost story. A real ghost story. Goddamn it."


Grimacing at the puddles of…liquid he was stepping through, Will surreptitiously slipped a gun into his hand and cautiously entered the Port Royal. Which turned out to be completely vacant, aside from some bodies that, thankfully, didn't resemble James in the least. A total wreck, with very fresh bulletholes and broken furniture all over, but empty nonetheless. And no one outside as a possible witness he could question. Swearing unintelligibly, Will bent down and started looking for clues.

Brushing aside some broken bottles, he turned up James' shattered cell phone. Will picked it up, carefully cradling the pieces, feeling his stomach turn inside out. "Fuck. Okay. No time to throw up, Turner. Think," he told himself, making his way further into the bar.

James had been here. So'd Maricalla, and enough remaining muscle to mess up the place. All the huge bloodstains also had corresponding bodies, so James hadn't been-killed-and dragged off. And…Will double-checked, but found no drag-marks, period. Which meant that James hadn't been captured, either. Because the other man might be a stickass most of the time, but the only way Maricalla would've gotten close enough to take Norrington prisoner was if James was unconscious.

"Port Royal…here," Will murmured. "Interceptor…can't be just telling me the shit was flying. Didn't need to tell me; I could hear the gunshots. So it's got to mean something else." He walked back to the front of the bar. "Port Royal…Port Royal…where he was. Where he needed to leave. Interceptor…where he was going? Couldn't have gone far. Damn it, why does that sound familiar? Interceptor…"

Snarling wordlessly, Will flipped out Jack's cell and started punching buttons, calling for updates-he'd already worked through the speeddial numbers while driving over. On the fifth call, he hit a possibility.

*Maricalla's been spotted three blocks west from where you're at, Turner. Near Matelot's pawnshop. He's got five with him. Heavily armed, but they look like someone really put them through the wringer.*

"Great," Will replied, already running for the car. "How many of us can get over there in five minutes?"

*Including you? One. You. Matelot himself phoned it in, so they're probably beating the shit out of him. Listen, you wait ten minutes, you'll have seven backing you.*

"Shit. I can't." Yanking the door shut, Will fired up the ignition and swerved the car, one-handed, into the road. "Well, get 'em there quicker than is possible. Shoot anyone that's shooting at me or Norrington. And definitely take Maricalla down."

*Gotcha.* Pause. *Hey, Turner. Are you sure the Captain's okay with this?*

"Absolutely," Will answered blithely. "And if he forgets, just refer him to me." Ending that call, he dialed Groves.

*Will! You found--*

"Not James. Maricalla. Can you spare any back-up?"

*Where?* Will spun the car around the corner, then spoke. "Matelot's pawnshop. I think it's a drop site both our teams have used."

*It is indeed. Good luck.* Snapping the phone closed, Will sped down the road, which luckily was deserted at this ridiculous hour in the morning. He turned down a sidestreet, slowing to a crawl, and quietly parked the car a couple hundred yards from the store. Cautiously but quickly covering the remaining distance, he halted temporarily around the corner so he could palm his guns, then peered at the store.

Two men, heavyset but visibly bruised, stood guard on a tank of a Cadillac that was parked directly in front of the pawnshop. If Will strained his ears, he could just catch the very weak but unmistakable sound of flesh being slammed around. So Maricalla and at least one other man was inside.

Taking a deep breath, Will tested both triggers, and then hurled himself around the corner, shooting as he ran towards the store. Both guards fell almost immediately, but Will had heard too much of Maricalla to relax his guard. As soon as he reached the Cadillac, he threw himself down behind the car and flattened against the filthy ground, looking across the space under the car. The thudding of feet pounded his hearing, and two pairs of shoes appeared in his vision. Then a third pair.

Will shot as many ankles as he could in four seconds, then rolled onto his feet and launched himself over the top of the car, still firing. Maricalla's last three bodyguards went down with barely a whimper. Hitting the ground in a forward roll, Will spun around, sweeping in the area all about him before going into the store.

Maricalla met him with a nervous, desperate grin and a gun held to the blood-scabbed head of Matelot. //William Turner! I heard you'd found yourself a sugar daddy.//

"You've heard of me?" Will asked, startled, though the one gun he had trained on Maricalla didn't waver. His other gun was pointed out the doorway, just in case.

//I'm a connoisseur of fine things//, the other man replied, jabbing his hostage with the gun. Matelot groaned and twitched. //And you, my friend, are an artisan. Artists should stick to their craft.//

"Yeah, you're right," Will said, tone smooth and dangerous. "But the world's a right bastard that way, you see." Keeping Maricalla's eyes locked to his, he covertly shifted his second gun slightly left and fired, bullet shattering the display glass. A piercing siren instantly ripped through the air, and Maricalla shrieked, letting go of Matelot and doubling over to cover his ears. Will wanted to do likewise, but instead gritted his teeth and lunged forward, knocking the gun out of Maricalla's hand, and after that, he kicked the other man out onto the street. "Fucking prick."

A throat cleared nearby, and Will whipped around, guns coming up-"Whoa! Hey, it's us."

His teammates. Lowering his pistols, Will assumed a regretful expression. "Sorry, guys," he said, waving vaguely at the bodies around him. "None left for you."


"Fille, I just don' understand why." Swiping the last of the flour from her eyebrows, Anamaria slanted her gaze over to the woman sitting on the toilet. "What's so important 'bout this? We've had th'Countess 'round for ages. We're used t'her, even if we don' exactly like her."

"Wrong. Wronged," Elizabeth repeated quietly to herself. "Anamaria? You've seen her, right?"

"Yeah. Where you goin' wi' this?"

"It's just-I think I felt the Countess' emotions, a little bit," the younger woman said thoughtfully. "And she was…well, angry, of course, but it was more like frustrated rage than hatred rage. And the other thing was…I think she's mad at herself. For letting herself be tricked, and not because she lost her lover to another woman."

"Might be," Anamaria allowed, examining the dough glomped to her fingers. She took a lick. "Bon. Didn' put too much sugar in." And then she took a few more licks, working her tongue underneath her nails.

Elizabeth suddenly felt heated, and rather overdressed. "The key's there," she muttered, trying to concentrate. "Ghosts stay because they have unfinished business. So the Countess must have something she wants done. What didn't she do…that's it! The letter!" Beaming, Elizabeth jumped up and grabbed the other woman, shaking her enthusiastically. "The letter! It never got sent! So it must still be in the room, and all we have to do is find it."

Eyes bulging, Anamaria pinned the younger woman against the door. "Calm down, fille. Y'goin' t'rattle th'brains out o' us both."

"Oh. Sorry." Elizabeth blinked hazel eyes, then glanced down. "You're getting cookie dough on me."

"Huh. I am," Anamaria acknowledged. The younger woman slowly tugged their clasped hands up to her lips, sucking off a bit. "It is good," Elizabeth breathed.

"Oui," the older woman replied, leaning forward and working her mouth on the other side of the hands. Catching on, Elizabeth licked and slurped, filling her mouth with sweet stickiness until her lips drifted into Anamaria's. And then they were eating each other out ferociously, teeth and tongues clashing wetly as their still-dirty hands undid buttons and zippers.

Panting already, Elizabeth followed Anamaria's clothing to the floor, knees hitting the rug with twin thumps as she buried her head between the other woman's legs. She traced the line of the hair there, soaking in the moans that floated down from above, then caught the folds of skin between teeth and tongue. "Merde!" the older woman hissed, legs going rubbery.

Anamaria made a backward pounce for the support of the sink and fastened her hands to its rim, letting her head fall forward so she could watch the golden mass of Elizabeth's hair ripple and sway over the gilt-skinned back. "More, oh, more…"

Pressing a smirk into the sensitive skin of the other woman's inner thigh, Elizabeth licked upward, thrusting her tongue in till she could feel the trembling all around her. She backed off and snaked up Anamaria's body, never breaking contact as she caressed the waist, stomach, sides and breast with her lips and the fingers of one hand. The fingers of the other slid smoothly into Anamaria, working the older woman until she gasped one last time and whipped back, muscles spasming about Elizabeth's fingers. Slumping down to the floor, Anamaria nuzzled into the dip between the younger woman's breasts. "Amant. Was lovely."

"You're welcome," Elizabeth said flirtatiously, lying down on her back. Taking up the invitation, Anamaria leisurely sucked each of Elizabeth's rosy nipples into full hardness, then nipped down the center of the other woman's torso, teasing the flat belly till it jumped beneath her mouth. Then she moved further down, diving between Elizabeth's thighs and staying there until the other woman muffled a fervent scream in the rug.

Several long moments passed as they twined together, lazily coming down, silently snuggling against each other. Eventually, Elizabeth looked over, and Anamaria sighed. "All right, all right," the older woman said. "I'll get you somethin' that'll keep her back a bit. So you can find th'letter. But in th'mornin'. Comprend?"

"Yeah." Elizabeth rolled over to stare contently at the ceiling. "Thanks."

"De rien," Anamaria responded. "'m just surprised y'got Jack on y'side. Y'know, he came by earlier, askin' if I could help, too."

"Think he misses Will and Jaime. And I am the other common denominator," the younger woman mused, drawing circles on Anamaria's hip. "He likes me, but I'm not the same. Similar, but not as…as…deep."

Propping her head up on one arm, Anamaria looked down, face a little worried. "Fille…"

"It might've bothered me if I didn't have my own deals," Elizabeth went on, lifting her head up to peck at the older woman's lips. "As it is, I'm good. Really good. And Will's happy."


"I am so fucking pissed off right now, I couldn't even begin to tell you properly," Will ranted, pacing with a jarring stride. "This definitely ranks as one of the shittier days of my life."

Abruptly halting, he spun to land a gun barrel a hair away from Maricalla's swollen, blackened nose. "And you don't know. Where. He. Went."

//No. No, I don't, I swear to God, I swear on the Holy Virgin. I don't know, I don't. I really don't know//, the other man babbled, looking piteously up at Will's grim face. //He came this way, but we lost him at the beginning of the street, and came in to ask Matelot, since his pawnshop's the only place open at this hour. I'm telling the truth, I swear. I swear!//

Maricalla's voice cracked on his wail, and for the third time, a sharp, stinging acid smell rose from the handcuffed man as a nasty tinkling sound registered with the half-disgusted, half-fascinated audience.

"Christ, his bladder must be the size of Disney World," someone muttered. Leaving Gillette to glare down the catcalls, Groves stepped forward and touched Will lightly on the shoulder.

"What?" Will snapped, turning.

"I believe he is telling us all he knows," the other man said urgently. "We should start searching the street."

Glowering, Will nevertheless removed the pistol from Maricalla's face and nodded. "All right. You can have the bastard. The rest of you, standard clean-up," he ordered, leading Groves out of the shop. Behind them, he could hear Gillette giving similar commands to the MI6 contingent. "Goddamn it," Will mumbled. "Interceptor, interceptor. Fucking hell, James, couldn't you be a little more obvious?"

"What?" Groves queried confusedly. Twisting to reply, Will caught his gaze on a flash of bright red and yellow. He looked more closely, and saw that the object was actually a piece of gaudily-painted scrimshaw: a carved depiction of a three-masted ship, mounted on a wooden plaque and resting in a corner of the pawnshop's display window. Beneath the carving, a faded legend scrolled across the grain: 'The Dauntless.'

Lightning blasted forth. "Christ!" Will shouted to the sky, smacking his forehead. Unheeding of the questions behind him, he ran into the middle of the street, looking wildly about till he found what he was looking for, three buildings down. An abandoned nightclub called the Port of Call, though anyone familiar with the neighborhood called it the Shipwreck, partly because of the business' failure, and partly because of the painting of a sailing ship that adorned its old-style sign. When Will stopped under it and examined it more closely, he found that the artist had named the vessel the 'Interceptor.'

Will broke in the door and stepped through, calling loudly, "James?"

Nothing. But over on the other side-a broken window. And still-drying blood dotting the floor before it.

Heart pounding, he walked further inside, and said again, "James?"

This time, a soft moan answered him, from behind the bar. Almost leaping across the room, Will cautiously raised himself onto the bar counter. "James? It's Will. Are you there?"

"You're…late," came the reply, dry sarcasm managing to break through the pain.

"I know. I'm sorry," Will said fervently, carefully dropping down on the other side. "About everything. I'm a prick, and I'm sor-shit." He bit his lip and hastily crawled forward, trying not to think about the gummy stuff in which he was stepping. "Here," he muttered, gingerly slipping an arm around the other man's back.

Despite Will's care, James hissed in pain. "Bit of bruising," he explained deprecatingly.

"Bruises. Sure. Whatever you say," Will replied, easing them up and over the bar. "Why didn't you just say you were going to the Port of Call?"

James favored Will with a rueful smile. "Couldn't remember the name. Just the sign."

A shadow appeared in the doorway, and Groves' voice asked, "Commodore?"

"Theodore," James acknowledged. "Is Maricalla in custody?"

"Yes, sir. Thanks to Mr. Turner, in fact, who also repaired the network. We should be done processing the Martinez information by this evening."

"Good." Turning slowly, James met Will's gaze. "And thank you, Will. I…also apologize for earlier. You had valid concerns, and I didn't address them as clearly as I could have."

Openmouthed, Will stumbled over the words. "James…really, you don't have to…it was my-oh, fuck!" Hurriedly grabbing at the man sliding through his arms, Will just avoided letting James' suddenly unconscious form hit the floor. "Groves! Doctor, now!"


The first sign that something was amiss was Jack, standing completely still as he talked into the cell phone. No gesturings, no hip-swiveling stroll, no rolling waist.

The second sign was Anamaria, holding a carved-wood mask of African design in her left hand, and holding a house phone in her right. Judging by the snippets of conversation Elizabeth could catch, the other woman seemed to be arguing with a travel agent. Which made little sense, since they weren't going anywhere-"Will! Jaime!"

At Elizabeth's cry, Jack and Anamaria both jerked their heads up. "They're fine, fille," Anamaria reassured. "Trop bête, trop fièr, but they're fine. Goin' t'come in t'night, just in time for Christmas dinner."

"Stiff-necked gooses, the both 'o them," Jack muttered direly. "An' don't contradict me, Will Turner," he rebuked the cell. "Damn whelp, y'should've called. No-y'should've just handcuffed Jaime to th'chair."

"What happened?" Elizabeth asked more calmly, coming closer so she could try to eavesdrop on Jack's conversation. As an answer, he tossed the phone over to her. "Here, see if y'can talk sense into the boy. I'll be roundin' up transportation to an' from the airport," he said, stalking off with an affronted air.

Watching him go with a curious look, Elizabeth put the cell to her ear and queried, "Will?"

*Liz,* came a relieved sigh. *Jesus Christ. I can't wait to get out of this shit.*

"What happened?" she repeated, perching on a sofa arm.

*Uh…well…* Elizabeth made an impatient noise. *I got kind of fed up with the computers, and James got a bit stressed, too, and we, um, argued. So I went for a walk, visited with Scarlet-she sends a hello, by the way-and when I came back, James had gone out to do some stuff. He ended up getting ambushed by Maricalla, whose organization they smashed last month--*

"That limpdick?" she interrupted, tone furious. "I hope you two deep-sixed his ass."

*Kind of,* Will replied, a comfortable grin in his voice. *Thing was, James wasn't too clear when he called me for help, so it took all night to track him and Maricalla down. And, well, James is a little…tenderized.*


*He's still in one piece,* Will added hastily. *And he can walk, sort of. And yeah, everything important's still functioning. But…*

Elizabeth growled, low in her throat. "Men are such utter idiots."

"Amen," Anamaria concurred, momentarily emerging from her negotiations.

*Liz…look, we didn't mean to…hell, I should just say sorry and keep saying it till we get over there, shouldn't I?* He sounded depressed. Elizabeth rolled her eyes, and said firmly, "Will. You're still being stupid. Yes, I'd like to bitch you out right now, but I'm a scientist, remember? Logical cause-and-effect. It's not like you knew Jaime was going to get jumped. It's not like Jaime knew he was going to get jumped. 'less he's even more of a masochist than we figured…"

*Not going there,* Will cut her off. *At least, not till he's less…blue and purple.*

"Right." Elizabeth idly began scrutinizing her nails. "Just don't do anything else idiotic, okay? And get over here, already. It's been so weird. Like some of those mystery novels you read."

*Really?* Will asked, perking up a bit. *Like how-hey, Anamaria doesn't have bodies in the garden, does she?*

"No," Elizabeth snorted. "But she does have this family ghost. Scared the shit out of me and Jack. Name's Margaret Baskerville. Fell in love with this prick who dropped her for bouncier tits, so she wrote a farewell letter and hung herself in one of the bedrooms here. Then, a year later, her ghost supposedly killed her ex and his new honey, and ever since, she's haunted the house."

*What happened to the letter?* Will inquired, fascinated. *Is that why she's hanging around?*

For a moment, she just glared. "Damn it, Will," Elizabeth said, slightly annoyed, "It took me forever to think of that."

*Well, in the books, it always comes down to some message that got read by the wrong people, or that didn't get delivered in time. Stands to reason it'd be the same for a ghost-and wait. I thought you didn't believe in ghosts.*

"I don't know, now." She blew at the curls dropping in front of her face. "And don't even say I told you so, Mr. Da-Sent-Me-A-Haunted-Monkey-Skull."

*That thing was creepy, though. Swear to God, Liz, it would chitter at night. And it would keep moving around, even when no one touched it,* Will protested. Then he became serious. *Anyway, be careful. Because I know you're up to something with that. And I love you, Elizabeth. See you soon.*

"Yeah," she answered, voice soft. "Love you back. I'm waiting." Clicking the phone shut, Elizabeth looked up to meet Anamaria's considering gaze. "Hmm?"

"You an' Will…sometimes I feel…like it shouldn' be touched, it's something so fine an' good," the older woman said pensively, glancing sideways.

Flipping her the bird, Elizabeth replied, somewhat irritated, "Knock it off. Honestly, how many times do we have to tell you and Jack and Jaime? Will and I have our thing, and we know it. We're okay."

"Better'n okay," Anamaria nodded, a slow grin spreading across her face. She pursed her lips, then handed the mask to the other woman. "Here. 's what I promised you. Prop it up in th'corner, facin' th'bed, an' it'll keep th'Countess down for ten or so minutes."

Taking it carefully into her own hands, Elizabeth studied the spare lines of the carved features, noting the odd mouth: pushed out in an 'O,' like it was sucking on a straw. Her fingers tingled inexplicably where they touched the wood, and she suddenly felt like a warm quilt had been wrapped around her. Looking up again, Elizabeth smiled, sweet and curving. "Thanks, Anamaria."


Tucking the phone away in one of the bags at his feet, Will sat down on the bed behind him, gradually, so the mattress wouldn't shake. An edgy sigh issued from beside him. "I won't break," James said irritably.

Will didn't bother with a verbal reply, but instead poked one of the legs humping up the blankets. James flinched and hissed.

Pointedly arching an eyebrow at Norrington's stubborn stoicism, the younger man scooted back so they were sitting side-by-side against the headboard, then snagged an open jar of medicinal salve from the side table. "So," Will began casually, twisting around so he could tug at James' tie, "You're on vacation now. No need for the Armani armor." As the bit of fine silk came loose, Will moved to straddle the other man and undid James' shirt buttons so he could rub salve into the large blackish patches on the older man's chest and ribs. "And we don't have to be at the airport for another three hours."

"Really," James said dryly, watching Will work with an impassive expression-though his body was arching none-too-subtly into the gentle touch.

"Yeah." Gingerly massaging around the butterfly bandages on James' collarbone, Will stroked up the side of the other man's face. The jar absently dropped onto the mattress beside them. "Incidentally, Jack said I should've cuffed you to your chair. And Liz thinks you get off on pain."

"What-" James started to say, indignant and confused. An abrupt tug on one of his wrists stopped his words, and he lifted it to find his newly-removed tie wrapped around it. While he was still staring, his other wrist was lifted and put against the first, and the necktie was bound comfortably but snugly around both. "Will-oh, Lord."

Now smirking into the frail skin of the older man's throat, Will soothingly swirled his tongue over the bruising, discovering to his surprise and pleasure that the salve didn't taste too bad. He nudged James' head backward onto the pillows lumped up behind the other man, then nibbled up to the soft spot behind the ear, kissing it while his hands smoothed down beneath the blankets-James, apparently, had taken off the bottom half of his suit-coaxing the cock hidden there into a full arousal. Two hands slithered up his own bare chest, grazing silk against his skin, and Will moaned, pressing into the touch. "Have I mentioned that I'm sorry?" he groaned.

"'ppreciate the apology," James murmured back, snatching Will's lips into a long kiss. They remapped teeth and mouths while their hands busily caressed and stroked. Occasionally Will would hit a sore spot, and James winced, but the younger man always followed his error up with a slow grind of his erection against James'. "God…get these off," James muttered, tugging at Will's waistband.

"Guess you're feeling better," was the self-satisfied reply. Rising up on his knees, Will awkwardly yanked off his pants. He would have tumbled off the bed if James hadn't seized a leg. Refusing to be embarrassed, Will pulled the sheets off of the other man, and then scraped out a goodly amount of salve before tossing the jar back onto the side-table. When James began to spread his legs, Will clamped his own shut around them and sat back down on James' thighs. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded, part-amused, part-exasperated. "I'm not fucking you when you're so-so smudgy. Maybe Liz was right."

"Then what are these?" James asked, holding up his bound wrists. Seizing the opportunity, Will ducked his head through the circle of arms, then reached one hand down to slick up James' cock. His other went back to slip fingers into himself, and Will gasped, watching with wide eyes as the older man went limp at the feel of hot fingers on a hard erection.

A few minutes later, Will grudgingly took his fingers out of his ass, grunting. "You know something?" he panted, positioning himself over James' cock. "We've got a communication problem. It's always a communication problem. Books, real life-"

James unexpectedly yanked down on his wrists, which were still trapped behind Will's neck. Caught off-guard, the younger man plunged downwards, and both men cried out as James thrust into Will. "How about this: move," James growled.

"Hell, yeah." Still trying to remember not to hurt the other man, Will braced himself against the headboard and started to rock, fucking himself on James. His skin felt too tight, stretched taut over a fire that was scorching holes from inside-out. And the rough wet slide of flesh in and out of him-"Come on, come on," Will rasped, moving faster and deeper.

"Yes, please God, yes…" James whimpered back, huge eyes staring up blindly at Will. The older man abruptly went rigid, digging nails into the skin between Will's shoulderblades, and then came with a jolt, eyelids fluttering. Squeezing a hand between their sweaty bodies, Will wrapped a fist around his own cock and quickly sent himself that extra inch over the edge.

Coming back to earth, he barely avoided crushing James beneath him. Grunting, struggling with spaghetti-boned limbs, Will lifted up off of the other man and flopped down onto his side. A minute later, James did likewise, rolling to face his companion.

"Oh, yeah," Will recalled, and shakily untied James' wrists. "You all right?"

"Rather," James said breathlessly, eyes still sparkling. He shifted closer, so their foreheads bumped slightly. "I was honored to meet your father, once," he murmured. "I'm honored to know you now."

Lips quirking, Will kissed the other man softly. "You're a good man, Jaime. Insanely good. So don't ever even think of leaving."


An expression of intense concentration on his face, Jack poked the mask a little further with the broomstick. Nudged it a little left, and studied the positioning. Then tapped it slightly to the right. From behind him, a huffy Elizabeth gave up and stepped over the man crouching on the floor. "It's fine, Jack. Stop messing with the mask and start looking."

"Piffle. None o' you understand th'advantages o' patience an' care," he replied, though he did get up and shuffle in, always keeping Elizabeth between him and the bed as they began to search. They systematically investigated-Elizabeth systematically checked every nook and cranny of the room. Jack did his fair share of work, but like a magpie, he'd slip anything glinting and pretty into his pockets. After she replaced the third silver hairpin, Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest and glowered. "Jack. Put them back."


"She might get upset, considering how possessive she was of that guy." Comprehension dawned, and Jack nodded frantically, hands flying as they returned various trinkets to their original places. "Right y'are, Lizzie."

Nine minutes afterwards, they stopped and regarded each other disappointedly. "Nothing?" Elizabeth asked.

"Nothin'." For extra emphasis, Jack spread his arms. Something dropped out of his sash and clinked on the floor. Glancing down, he blinked. "Ah. Forgot 'bout that one. Don' worry; it's goin' right back."

Ignoring him, Elizabeth grumbled wordlessly to herself. "It's got to be somewhere, damn it."

The air chilled. At the farthest edges of her hearing, Elizabeth caught the beginnings of a howl.

"Well, clearly we aren' meant t'find it," Jack said briskly, moving toward the door. "C'mon, Lizzie. Let's locate th'rum punch-Liz?"

He looked right. No one. He looked left. Empty space. A pained expression settling on his face, Jack turned around to see Elizabeth still in the room, hurriedly shifting furniture around, and a by-now familiar wisp of white rising behind the bed curtains. He hesitated, then strode back in, purposefully swaggering more than usual. "Elizabeth-"

"The bed!" she cried. "The Countess is always around the bed!" Unheeding of the growing mist above the mattress, Elizabeth grabbed one bedpost and started to pull. The heavy piece of furniture moved fractionally, just enough for Elizabeth to glimpse something behind it. "The letter. It's there."

Muttering swears and prayers, Jack came over and seized the post, then yanked, hard. The bed frame screeched across the floor, and a tattered piece of yellowed paper flew out. Grabbing it from the air, Elizabeth unfolded it and quickly scanned the writing inside. "Yes! Jack, this is-"

A swift grab and a leap interrupted her words, and for the third time, Elizabeth went flying out of the room just as iciness brushed her cheek. She and Jack came crashing down outside the chamber, moments before the door slammed shut. And then the screaming started.

"By all th'powers-" Jack mumbled, dragging them back from the rattling door. "Liz, I think y'better do somethin'. Now."

"Give me a moment," she retorted, though her voice trembled. Hurriedly smoothing out the letter, she strained to make out the words.

Before them, the knob suddenly shot out of the door and smacked against the opposite wall, inches from Jack's head. He instantly ducked. "Damnation! Elizabeth!"

"The letter's saying she'd do anything for him," she paraphrased. "Even give up her life, because she loves him so much-"


"She's happy to die, because then he won't be bothered by her-"


"Don' believe she agrees," Jack interjected. Elizabeth slanted a glance at him. "Well, of course not," she said. "If she really meant that, then she'd be a bit of a doormat, wouldn't she?"

Something cracked loudly inside the room.

"Don' insult th'ghost," Jack shot back. "Get her t'settle, already."

"Um…" Elizabeth looked back at the letter. "She hates what she did-what she wrote. She…doesn't want to be known like that…wants to take her words back? Of course! Jack, give me a match. A lighter. Anything."

Not quite understanding her reasoning, he nevertheless passed over a cigarette lighter, which Elizabeth flicked on and held to the corner of the paper. As the letter caught fire, the noises grew quieter, and the door stopped rattling. And when Elizabeth dropped the last flaming fragment into a platter Jack swiped from a nearby table, the racket disappeared entirely.

"Putain de merde, what'd you been doin'?" called Anamaria's irate, concerned voice. The other woman soon came into view, tenseness seeping out of her body as she saw Jack and Elizabeth standing in the hall. Jack waved at the door. "Think she's departed."

Frowning, Anamaria cautiously nudged the door open with a foot, then peered in. She halted on the lintel, cocking her head as if listening for something, and then stepped a little further inwards, stooping to retrieve the mask from the floor. Elizabeth tiptoed after her, and peeked inside. "So…" the younger woman inquired.

"Gone. Feels…peaceful," Anamaria replied, surprised and respectful. She slung an arm about Elizabeth's waist and hugged her, then nodded at Jack, who nodded back. "Pas mal. Y'know, there's other haunts in this town-"

"B'lieve I'm stickin' to m'day job," Jack said quickly, backing away.

"One's enough," Elizabeth agreed fervently. Shrugging, Anamaria led the trio back downstairs. "As y'like," the older woman remarked. "Now, there're a few extra cookies I think I can spare…"

*** Sleuth Outtake: Miss Marple
James: Suddenly I understand the appeal of h/c. Though I do wish the former part of it wasn't quite so-
Will: Painful? Well, your number was up. All the rest of us got knocked around in 'Game.'
Jack: Have t'love James' ties, though. They're quite useful, if I do say so m'self.
Elizabeth: Oh, yeah. Good thing he gets about ten a year as Christmas gifts, else he'd never have any. And have I mentioned how much I love cookie dough?
Anamaria: Oui, but feel free t'keep complimentin' th'cook.
Jack: *thunderstruck* That's it. Damn it, ev'ryone's gotten bedded onscreen in this fic 'cept for m'self. I thought she liked me.
Will: She does, Jack. We all do. Even though you're constantly soused and trouble-making and flirting and stealing…
Elizabeth: Actually, he was kind of sweet in this part. And you. *points at Will and James.* You two were doing your stupid Rambo thing. That's just fine for the rest of the year, but Christmas? Really. I'd kick your asses if I could get past the pouting.
James: I don't pout.
Will: Wanna bet?


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