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

Song of Glaucus

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R
Pairing: Will/Norrington/Elizabeth, Jack/Norrington
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: I didn’t create these characters and am not making any profit off of them.
Notes: Most definitely going to end up AU when the third movie comes out; set after PotC: DMC. Glaucus is a minor figure from Greek mythology.
Summary: Drastic actions are taken to save Jack. Norrington gets a new profession, of sorts, along the way.


Jack’s dead.

Elizabeth slouches on the bench, hunched into the farthest corner of it. Her hair falls in lank damp twists, and for the first moments, James mistakes them for fallen trails of the greenish-brown scum that grows in finger-thick tails on the brig walls. She’s tarnished, he thinks. Her eyes glow sullenly at him through the humid dark like those of a wild beast, and as he looks at her, he sees her nails slowly curl into her upraised knee.

He doesn’t see William at first—not till the ship rises on a swell and the lantern-light swings. Turner’s across the cell from Elizabeth, flat against the wall and watchful in a way that sends James’ fingers to his sword-hilt. He’s nothing but eyes either, but where Elizabeth lets the storm inside of her lash through her gaze, William gives James nothing but flat, indifferent opacity.

“A pretty pair, don’t you think?” Beckett says, drawing the words from his mouth like the finest silk handkerchief through a wedding ring. “Perhaps I should’ve let them finish the wedding before I arrested them.”

James murmurs something appropriate. He’s getting better at that. He credits that to the rum: it makes scoundrels out of gentlemen, but it also makes fancies and lies go down like truths.

“Well, well, I was generous enough to allow them some time together before they hang.” Beckett’s heel thumps down, hard and sharp like the snapping of a neck, as he turns.

It makes James flinch. Will and Elizabeth might as well be stone.

The East India man takes two steps before he pauses, then turns to give that look that makes James want to claw out the man’s eyes. “Did you want something, Mr. Norrington?”

And again, James flinches even though he knew the goad was coming. He has his ship all right, but he’s still not a captain. Fool, yes, but captain…Sparrow managed it well enough, James thinks bitterly, and lowers his eyes. He’s aware he’s waited a fraction too long to provide an answer, but then, he really does have a hard time caring now what Beckett thinks of him. “Just a few words with them. I used to know them, you see.”

He closes his eyes. After a moment, Beckett’s sigh wafts over the precise clicks of his heels against the planks. He goes up the ladder, and he takes the soldiers with him, no doubt in order to facilitate the last stage in James’ decline and betrayal.

“So…how is the East India Company after the Royal Navy, James?” Elizabeth asks. Her voice is soft and cutting, like the silk rope the Ottoman sultan supposedly uses to strangle his high-born enemies. “Does it suit you?”

James opens his eyes and glances around. Then he lets himself fall out of a stiff ramrod posture and lean against the bars with a quick exhale of relief. He’s not used to acting properly nowadays. “It’s not the shit on the Navy’s bootheels, if you must know. I really thought the pigpen in Tortuga was it, but I find myself even more disgusted now.”

Elizabeth shuts up. Will eases out into the light, still looking hard at James.

“Jack’s really…gone, then?” James asks after a moment. He has to swallow in the middle of his sentence.

“Maybe,” Will says. He glances around the brig. “If we don’t get out of here.”

Miracles and mysteries and magic in the Caribbean, and all of it can’t persuade James to take that optimistically. He has to know what the other side of the coin is, and even before that, he cannot ignore the unpleasant past. “But he’s dead. Right now.”

“Yes.” Suddenly Elizabeth’s off the bench and pressed up against the bars. The man’s shirt she wears is open to show her breasts swelling out of it. Beneath the dirt the lines of her face still speak of grace and beauty. “Him and the Black Pearl. He went down with her, for—” tears in Elizabeth’s eyes, something caught in her throat just beneath her jaw “—for us.”

And behind her, Will stiffens slightly and looks askance at Elizabeth. He takes her hand when she reaches for him, but he and she aren’t so free and young and soaring above all the world’s cares now. They know more than a little of the dirt and the tricks and the nooses coiled snake-like beneath all gifts. Good.

“Then I hope you’ve taken the time he bought you to improve yourselves,” James drawls, and no, he doesn’t spare them the edge of his mood. When he drops his hand through the bars and fingers Elizabeth’s right breast, playing with the tattered edge of her jacket, he can feel her shake with suppressed outrage. Let her. He shakes so nowadays that he doesn’t dare step off the rocking ship, lest it show too soon. “The situation is very precarious.”

Will lifts his hand with slow deliberation and covers James’ hand with it so briefly they both cradle Elizabeth, feel her heart beating fast and uneven behind her breast. Then he gives James’ wrist a sharp twist; James yanks his hand out, then has it and a dagger through the bars a bare second later. He only gives Will a little nick on the side of the jaw. He’s not fool enough to keep his blade thrust into the cell where they could wrench it from him and he has it sheathed again as Will and Elizabeth are still reeling back, Will clutching his jaw till James almost hisses at him again for carelessness.

But no, James forces himself to turn. “I regret I wasn’t there for it, given the trouble he’s given me.”

The lanterns swing again as he walks away: a yellow beam passes over Will’s cheek as his hand drops to briefly alight on the key-shaped imprint in his flesh. He ducks away almost immediately, and James has to keep walking himself so he can only pray that damn them, they’ll have a particle of Jack’s cleverness. Because God knows James has none of his own to spare for this.

* * *

James is standing by the railing when the sounds of shouting and clashing swords reach him. He looks up at the sky and there’s a cloudy ring around the moon, making it into a baleful eye.

“Norrington!” Beckett calls out. For once the damned man sounds discomfited.

Well, James owes him a life and a ship and at the very least, a new uniform. And idealism aside, Beckett’s kind of practical, coldhearted mercantile dealings is in fact what drives the empire further and further to the horizon. It’s the Navy and others who are the spearheads, but if they didn’t have supply-lines back to London, they’d not have a hope of returning from the edges of the known world. Perhaps James does not approve of the lack of honor, of respect, of any trace of humanity, but he should at least accept.


James glances at the shout. His hands do tighten on the railing; old habits and a little lingering ability to feel pity do cede that much. But then he shrugs and leans further against the railing, putting his hip to it so he can raise his hands into the glowering moonlight. The shadows look like dried blood, and the real dried blood on his knuckles looks like cuts of darkness embedded in his flesh. “Sir?”

“Turner—Swann—they’re—help me!”

“Sir, with all due respect, Mr. Turner and Miss Swann are still subjects of the British Crown, and as such, I’m not responsible for them. I’m contracted to fight the Spanish and French. Sir.” Others are screaming, choking through wet gags of blood, and not all of them can be as revolting as Beckett. It’s going to be another night when innocents are killed simply for being in the wrong place, paid by the wrong person.

The gorge rises thick and bitter in James’ throat. He lets it pool in one cheek, then calmly leans over to spit it into the sea. No, he’s not going to do anything. He’s not going to feel peaceful about it either, but doing something would be the worse choice, and he no longer pretends that there’s a “good” or an “evil” choice. There are simply varying degrees of nightmares.

“Norrington! Damn you!”

“Exactly,” James mutters, still hanging over the railing. He spits a last time, then rests one arm on the railing so he can scrub at his mouth. His gaze passes over the dark waves, the creaking black solidity of the ship, and—

“Take a deep breath,” Will hisses, eyes phosphorescent and fiery, just before he seizes James’ arm and yanks him over the side.

* * *

Beckett had told James a considerably more straightforward and detailed version of the Davy Jones legend than Jack had. But Beckett, with his mind of warehouse dust and silver coins and gold bars, hadn’t given him the slightest idea of why such an existence might seem more attractive than living.

The water’s uncommonly cold for the Caribbean. It hits him in the chest and stomach and drives the air from him; he can see the bubbles funneling upwards and he strokes towards him, but his limbs have already turned sluggish, leaden. Salt stings his eyes, but for only a moment. It burns in his nose for considerably longer. It’s very quiet down here: solemn and cool and distant.

James doesn’t taste the sea till he breaks the surface, and then the moment he opens his mouth, the air rakes over his tongue and down his throat with the salt and the odd sweetness and the fetid echo of meat deep within the afternotes, which is always surprising and then not, considering what must live and die and rot down in the depths. He treads water for a few moments, stunned out of thought. The ship’s already hundreds of yards beyond, someone having had the sense to order the sails set, and no other has appeared on the horizon.

Someone appears behind and to the right of him. There’s only a little noise, and a quick foamy ripple that’s immediately put out in the inky water; James turns around to see Elizabeth’s mouth, open in an airless gasp and ringed with dark purple lips. She coughs once, more of a formality than anything else, and lowers her head to look at him. Her fingers break the surface, then slide through the water to grip James’ shoulder.

“You could’ve damn well left me,” James finally says. His voice doesn’t have much heat in it.

“What? To let Beckett hang you instead? I won’t have your blood on my hands.” Her skin glimmers like the pearly inside of an oyster. Her hair looks like seaweed one moment, like liquid trails of moonbeams the next. Mermaid. Woman of the sea, with teeth that she flashes often. “Has Will come up yet?”

James is strangely unconcerned about Will’s whereabouts, considering that he does in fact want the other man to be alive. If only so his damned last-moment change of heart bears more fruit than a girl he sometimes wakes from dreaming about with tears in his eyes, and sometimes wishes had been sent back to England for a proper upbringing. “Beckett’s heeling her about.”

“What?” Elizabeth turns to look just as something dark crests out of the water. She stiffens and draws near—no, draws herself before James—before suddenly gasping and throwing herself across the space into Will’s arms. Even in the middle of the bloody ocean, they greet each other with such fervor and passion that—

“Is the point to drown?” James snaps, watching the ship. “If I wanted to atone that way—”

“Then you’d rather not kill yourself?” Will pulls away from Elizabeth, but they move towards James as one. Something bobs up from Will’s hand, something in a leather sack, and suddenly a low rumble wells from beneath James and lifts them all, lifts the sea up. “Listen, Nor—James. We’ve all done things…done what we thought we needed to do in order to save what we thought needed to be saved most, and been found wrong.”

At his shoulder, Elizabeth drops her head and turns her face into Will’s cheek. He flinches away, but then leans towards her. Another muffled boom shakes the water around them. The ship is close enough for the cries of the crew to carry across the space, and it’s only a matter of time before a lookout spots the three of them.

“Even you, the man—”

“It doesn’t matter now, so don’t interrupt me. You have to listen. We’ve all got one chance--one. This is the one that matters. This is the one we can’t change afterwards,” Will urgently says. He twists his hand around to dig at the drawstring of his bag; the booming briefly crescendos before subsiding again. “Davy Jones made a bargain and to stop him, we’ve got to make a bargain.”

Elizabeth briefly pushes herself up so her shoulders break above the water. Then she sinks back. Her hand rises, and so does Will’s: she carries a long knife, he holds something dully gleaming that contracts and expands. The bag floats away from them.

“Do you want Davy Jones’ power to fall back into—never mind that, to fall into anyone’s hands?” Elizabeth asks. Her voice is shaking with naïve passion and sincerity. “Do you want the sea circumscribed, chained, with fools in London drawing borders over it on their maps wherever they please?”

“It’d make things a great deal safer.” James smiles to see the flare in her eyes. He loves the sea, of course. He loves it too much to be a good proper Naval officer, and far too much to be a soulless mannequin of the East India Company. He loves it and he wants it—he wants to ride it with the trust that it’ll see to him, bear him wherever he wants to go, torture him and then lift him up till only the birds are his rivals.

And for the longest time, it wouldn’t. And they wondered why he seemed to hate Jack so.

“You—” Will starts.

“I don’t trust anyone alive with that power,” James interrupts. He can hear screaming across the water, a sailor singing out over the creak and groan of hemp and wood.

Will snorts, eyes flickering dangerously; he hears the hint in James’ voice immediately while Elizabeth seems to need a moment. But she does look so charming with a furrowed brow, and then so lovely when her hot eyes turn back to James. “Jack’s at the World’s End. The living can’t go there, but the dead understandably have difficulty coming back,” she continues. “We need him to stop the kraken after…to stop Barbossa—”

James has a mildly unpleasant moment upon realizing who she’d just mentioned. In apparent sympathy, Will grimaces at him.

“—and Beckett. Because what we’re about to do…” Elizabeth lifts her knife again to put just the edge against the heart “…no second chances, James. Can you do it?”

He only half-understands what she’s suggesting—Jack’s taught her well, that one, about selling a choice—and yet he understands more than she probably does. The booms roll almost continuously now, as if Davy knows, so they build upon each other, stacking the pressure higher and higher till it seems as if they’re swimming not in a sea, but in the roars rippling away from a fired cannon. The ship’s nearly upon them, and James can see a boat being lowered over the side.

But none of that really, truly matters. Dead or alive, it makes no difference when one utterly despises oneself. What does matter, what ultimately makes up James’ mind for him, is the idea of freedom. No more responsibilities to fail at, no more tug-and-pull between different worlds, no more barriers separating him.

“Of course I can. Can you?” James finally says.

Elizabeth snorts, but Beckett’s too close for any sharp words. In a few swift motions, she and Will make blade and heart meet.

The sea is suddenly, abnormally calm. James hears the sails snap flat as they drop out of the air, and then from deep, deep beneath him begins an enormous roar. He feels it in his bones before it ever reaches his ears.

Will is cursing over it, hurrying now to slash three portions before the heart, which has wilted and grayed with alarming speed, completely collapses. He pushes one to Elizabeth, who fumbles it so water splashes over the ragged hunk, then thrusts the third at James. It’s slippery with coagulated blood, tough and unyielding, and for a moment James feels nausea swirl up in his head.

He’s used to that now. He ignores it.

“For my father,” Will mutters, and shoves his fragment into his mouth.

“For the horizon,” Elizabeth says.

And James can’t help himself. “For Jack.”

The hurt in their faces is for him and for themselves, but he hardly has the time to really see it before he bites into his piece. It’s surprisingly fragile, falling apart almost immediately, and in a panic he gobbles it all in at once, afraid he might have left it too long to work. It’s almost too salty to bear, and he’s slapping his hand over his mouth to keep it down when suddenly the roar reaches the surface and they’re thrown upwards.

The water comes with them, overtakes them and engulfs them before they even reach the apex of their flight. James opens his mouth, or perhaps it’s pried open, and the sea is in him before he can stop it.

* * *

“You chose me because you still think I’m a good person. You think of all the people out there, I won’t abuse power,” James says, rolling over.

A knee stops him, and then Elizabeth flings herself over his waist. She plants her hands on his chest and stares down at him through her wild tangles of hair. Her shoulders arch back and she stays like that for a few seconds. Then, very slowly, she rolls them and the movement passes down her spine to her hips so the damp warmth between her legs just teases him. “You are a good person.”

“Not so much as you think.” He reaches for her, cradles the softness of her buttocks and then digs his fingers into them till the muscles beneath flex and she turns lean and hard.

Elizabeth throws back her head and then melts away as James pushes himself up towards her. But there’s a body to greet him still—hard muscle covered over with silk-smooth skin but for the rough uneven lines he feels when he wraps his arms around them. There’s a whisper of heat as Will draws his thighs up on either side of James, and then a scorching lick of it moving up the side of James’ face. He pulls at Will, slides his hands to Will’s jaw and aligns their mouths just as breasts rub up against his back and smaller, more delicate hands than Will’s push over his stomach and down.

“Better than you think. But anyway, it doesn’t matter,” Elizabeth murmurs, running her tongue around James’ ear. Her breath hitches and Will sways up against James, starting fire between them with the friction of their bodies. Will groans and Elizabeth’s teeth scrape over the knobs of James’ spine so he twists, clutches hard at Will. “You don’t have control over it. You swallowed it.”

“What?” James tries to say, but Elizabeth’s fingers are deft and Will’s body is sweet and the three of them sway together, flow together like nothing ever did or has for James. It’s not like with Sparrow, with that maddening slow swing of his that James can never quite match, or nor ever quite find an opposing rhythm to it. Not like him, whom James has chased and chased and whom James will chase--would chase—till the…

…world’s end.

There’s something about it, something about the way sun shines from Jack’s blood, and blood from Jack’s golden smile, that drives James mad. That draws him in and pushes him away, that never catches him at the right point in time in the right mood, and he never knows the beat, never feels the melody in his own bones but God, he can’t stop hearing it. And there’s a rushing in James’ ears now, a furious roar as Elizabeth yanks down his hand to her sex, as Will jerks against him, that is not Jack’s song but seems like James’ own, finally. Where he gives voice and it is heard, it can at least stand against Jack’s taunt even if it, like all other things in the end, cannot overtake it.

He can’t help singing. He can’t help himself, who and what he is, and now that makes sense. That makes possibly the most sense of anything that Elizabeth has ever said; they offered him a piece because they believe him an upstanding, honorable man but they expected him to accept it because they know, or someone knows, that deep down he will not stand the weight of power. He will slip back, he will hide behind his brocade and gentleman’s code of honor and not take, he will give the heart over to Beckett, he will let Jack Sparrow fly free as a sign that not all can be caged.

They slip and slide, flow over and around each other, and for a moment they understand each other perfectly. But they do not stand still, they cannot remain together forever and ever though they will meet again. Their paths will join again, fork and then cross once more. They could have the world; they will have the world but they will never hold onto it. And this…this suits him, finally, James thinks.

* * *

The end of the world is the sea. Land always ends at its shores. The eternal river wraps round the earth and runs from birth to grave and then beyond. Its flow does not cease, is not merciful and will not wait no matter how dire the necessity, but in return it is more irresistible than anything else in this existence.

* * *

Jack opens his eyes. He doesn’t know where he is, though he’s fairly sure that what he is, is dead. But then, this happens. He feels a chill in his body and he twists, makes himself laugh till he’s warmer. It doesn’t take long for the laugh to come naturally to him, for even dead, he is Jack Sparrow and he’s sure there must be some kind of understanding he can reach with someone. He can even hear someone now, and when he strains his eyes at the nothingness surrounding him, he can glimpse faint phantoms.

A light caress touches his cheek, then lingers. Oh, Jack, Elizabeth murmurs, all regretful ache.

“Ah, love. You do what you do—I can’t blame you for that. Got something out of it, after all, didn’t I?” Though when Jack thinks on this, he slightly changes his mind. “Don’t suppose you might have something more? You know, as a bit of…compensation?”

Jack. Not now. And that’s Will, ruffled and wounded and still staunchly facing Jack anyway. We’ve little time.

Something’s coming out of the dark. It looks like a man, maybe, but the hairs on Jack’s neck prickle even as a low, curiously warm feeling stirs in his blood, lazily pulling at him. This is someone he knows, or if not, then someone he really must, no doubt about it, come to know. “And who are you?”

We, Perfect crisp enunciation giving him away, and there’s a shocker to Jack’s heart…if he weren’t already dead, of course Are the Sea.

Jack gazes at this Norrington for a while. He’s looking for the commodore, and for the pirate and probably the privateer—at least for a little bit before he really came to know Beckett; Jack would lay good gold on it—but always there’s something even beyond those. Something that, when he’s finally stared into those green-gold eyes, the exact color the water turns when a dangerous sandbar is up ahead, makes him half-smile. And then makes him laugh out loud, in pure appreciation, and reach for the other man.

James’ hands are solid for a whole heartbeat before they melt away, leaving Jack with wet empty palms. Never mind it; it’s a fun game. Jack tries again, and then again till Norrington opens his mouth, looking exasperated.

“And I,” Jack says, getting in first while the getting’s good, “Am the Captain.”

Shortly not to be dead, he thinks. And then…and then well, he’s found himself something better than a horizon, hasn’t he? Horizons can’t always been seen, depending on the weather and so forth, but this? This is for the ages.