Tangible Schizophrenia


Brotherhood of the Wolf
Boondock Saints
From Dusk Till Dawn
From Hell
Kill Bill
King Arthur
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Pirates of the Caribbean
Sin City
The Ninth Gate
The 13th Warrior

Q-sense ’verse


Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG.
Pairing: None. Barbossa gen.
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: The characters and world referenced here are not my original creations. Hail to the Mouse.
Notes: Mictlantecuhtli is the Aztec god of the dead. Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) is, among other things, the Aztec god of sorcery, deception, betrayal, courage and vengeance. Bridge piece between PotC: CotBP and PotC: DMC.
Summary: They don’t have pomegranate seeds in the New World, which is a bit of a mistake on the part of the Aztec gods.


It was cold. So very, very cold that it was almost like the old land, with its rolling green hills that whitened over in the winter, freezing to death any beggars who weren’t fortunate enough to find shelter. He had his first pair of boots from such a beggar; he was nearly such a beggar before he made his way to London and took to sea, but that was something he hardly ever thought on. But he was dead. He guessed he had to think of such things now.

It was cold.

Jack Sparrow, of all men. It was a pretty ending. It was something nice and neat out of those damn novels the girl had kept quoting at him, and didn’t he have plenty of laughs over those? Ol’ Jack had found a small chest of them in one lady passenger’s luggage, weeks before the mutiny, and he’d entertained the crew pretty well with readings from them. He was good at that, entertaining. He wasn’t so good at insinuation, and instillation of fear, and incitement of greed.

This one does not belong here. See, he wilts like the maize plant when the winds blow from the mountains.

They all wilt.

Or he hadn’t been, actually—he’d gotten quite good at it by the time he and Barbossa had met up again. It’d be nice and neat if the girl or that equally pretty Turner boy had done that to him, but Barbossa knew Jack better than that. He was sorry he’d never find out now who had, and never be able to go find them either. ‘course, if he had been able to, it’d be an interesting thing to see what he’d feel like doing to them once he had them. On the one hand, he’s dead, damn it, and maybe he didn’t like being a walking corpse but dead dead ain’t so fun either. On the other hand, Jack had gotten interesting, and not just in a shallow, gold-flash-coin-from-your-ear kind of fashion.

This one burned. He should have come to me.

He was cool for too long. He didn’t burn enough.

He burned whole towns. He created chaos among these new people on our shores, he put his name into their nightmares, he wrote their blood into the sands. He is mine.

Because it wasn’t that Barbossa rebelled because he wanted—well, all right, the view from the captain’s place was mighty fine, but he didn’t necessarily want that just for the sake of it. Following was something he could do. It just was never something he particularly enjoyed doing, and he’d been curious sometimes if that was him or Jack who’d made that so. Because he got tired; he’d been tired the whole time the curse had laid upon him. So tired, so worn-down—because they got no relief in sleep either—by the whisper in his ear, the tempting shake in his bones, like the snow-sleep that could creep up on you in the northern hills. The slow sloughing-away of himself till it was a burden just to remember the routines, the old snarl and spit and fire.

And what would you do with him? Our wealth is reclaimed, our revenge for our people has been—

Speak not to me of revenge. I know revenge. I know I am not finished paying out yet, and even then…even then…shall we linger here in the dark, watching while they push our children out of the land? Or shall we embrace them and make them our own?

He treasured being his own man. He’d thrown over Jack for that, incurring nine years’ torture into the bargain, and still he clutched the right of it tightly to himself. And this was not the same as being the captain of the ship: when all was said and done that was just a title, and titles didn’t mean much among pirates. They were about the same as hats. It’d only mattered in Jack’s case because Jack had made the captain of the ship the only one on the damned ship, and never mind how many bodies treaded its decks.

You think to take him for that?

I will have him for it. Or I will light a fire in your domain that will blaze it clean and scorch you out of it.

He’d begun being Barbossa on the Pearl. He’d had a name before that, a name he’d held onto in spite of his father, in spite of the wide ocean he’d crossed, but he’d kept it locked deep because he knew if offered it, Jack would snatch it up as he would any secret thing. And then he’d lose it, like any gained treasure that promptly ceased being treasure and became mere boring property once he had it.

Sometime during the curse, he’d lost it. He was still angry over that—so angry he could feel a flicker of heat within him, a tiny spark that nevertheless roared against the cold.

Then take him. I wish you joy.

And it was warm as the smoke billowed round, wrapping tight about Barbossa. Warm and warmer and then hot, and then blistering.

And will you? Will you return and do my bidding, little man?

They were all the damn same, he thought. From the silk in this one’s voice to the smoke-black of Jack’s eyes. Always thinking it was enough to ask somebody to follow, and never mind doing their part to stay ahead.

But he said: “Aye. Aye, I’ll take you as my captain.”

Good. Go and turn the world upside-down. Send the people fleeing to me. Light fires so I may smell the smoke of burning flesh and wood and dreams and be pleased, and I will give you victory over all that walks the earth and swims in the sea.

Barbossa laughed as he finally inhaled, smoke pouring through his nose and down his throat so his flesh charred. But he already had kindled himself, so what was that to him?

* * *

The first thing he did when he set foot among the living again was find an apple and eat it. Jack, he’d known a few tales, and he’d told ones about the lord of the dead that had involved a contract and some sort of fruit. Barbossa didn’t remember exactly what it was, but he knew it wasn’t an apple. And he knew his Bible, too: knew about Eve and her banishment to this world of flesh and suffering and sin. Knew the Lord God had given her breath, but her first bite had been what had really given her life, given her a way out to the world.

Knew this was the best damn apple he’d ever had.