Title: All Roads Lead to Home, All Rivers Lead to the Sea
Author: Melusina (fabu on live journal) (email@example.com)
Summary: Even in the twenty-first century, Jack and Will are still pirates sort of.
Warnings: AU, Schmoop
Disclaimer: Sadly, even these modern versions of the characters still belong to the Mouse. In addition, I'm heavily indebted to those who've written all the excellent modern AU and reincarnation fic in the PotC fandom, especially The Mad Fangirl, and Guede Mazaka.
Notes: Written for the Jack / Will ficathon, for Aria Fifty-one, who requested h/c, action/adventure, angst, a happy ending, and alternate universe/alternate reality. Many, many thanks to Ceria Taliesin for her beta help and to Sparrowhawk for organizing the ficathon.
The damn cat was walking all over Will's stomach again, making biscuits on his chest and purring almost loudly enough to drown out Jack's snoring. The digital clock blinked 3:57 am. Grumbling about stupid animals that wouldn't let a man sleep, Will tossed the cat out of the bed and pulled the pillow over his head.
At 4:44, Will nudged Jack and gave him a good shake.
Jack came awake with a loud, "Huh?"
"I can't sleep," Will announced. "Your cat was stomping all over me and I predict the corpses from Peaceful Rest will be here any minute to complain about your snoring."
Jack stared at him blearily and pushed his long hair out of his eyes. "What're you goin' on about?" When he was sleepy, his sexy mixed-up accent was more pronounced.
"Your good-for-nothing cat and your snoring and the fact that I can't get any sleep." Will reiterated, as if talking to a very slow kindergartner.
Jack assumed an indignant air. "Captain Morgan does more around here than you do."
Will rolled on top of Jack, straddling his hips. "Yeah, sure, because risking life and limb to hang lights in a thunderstorm is nothing." He punctuated this with a twist of his hips that made Jack exhale sharply. Pinning Jack's hands to the bed, Will continued, "And what were you doing last night, while I was nearly electrocuted? Oh yeah, listening to Jimmy Buffet and drinking margaritas with Liz and Ana, and probably mmphm-"
Whatever Will was going to add to his litany was swallowed up in Jack's voracious kiss. Taking advantage of Will's surprise, Jack flipped them so that he was on top. And then, just as he was about to show Will exactly how sorry he was for keeping him awake, the radio alarm went off, filling the room with the cheery strains of "Walking on Sunshine."
Jack was in the middle of a costume fitting when his jeans rang. Unfortunately they were on the cutting table, and he was standing on a wooden stool several feet away.
"Don't move." Liz warned, around a mouthful of pins.
Ana looked from the phone to Jack. She and Liz exchanged matching smirks. "You programmed your ringer to play "A Pirate's Life"? I think you're starting to take the swishbuckling a little too seriously."
Jack held out his hands and winked broadly. "Pirate!"
The phone rang again, in counterpoint to Liz singing "I am the pirate queen" under her breath.
"Toss me the phone, will ya, Ana? And try not to get too excited about getting into my pants."
The stage manager just rolled her eyes at this. She dug around in the pockets of Jack's jeans until she found his phone, then threw it at his head. He jerked around to catch it and Liz swatted him on the leg. "Hold still I said, or I'm going to leave all these in your breeches and you'll be picking pins out of your ass for the entire run."
Jack hit the talk button and said, "It's me."
As usual, Dan Brown sounded like he'd been drinking since daybreak. His voice was so slurred that it took Jack a minute to catch up to what he was saying. ". . .fell out of the grid. He hit his head pretty hard and knocked himself out. EMS just took him to St. Vincent's. . ."
Will was fighting a white-haired man in a red uniform. A marine, his mind supplied effortlessly. There was a sword in his hand, not a prop sword like the one Jack used in the show, but a real weapon, lethal and flashing bright in the sun. His body seemed to be moving without any direction from him, skillfully lunging and thrusting and slicing the air with his blade. The marine retreated and Will advanced, then swept the man's feet out from under him. He tumbled backwards into the water. Will suddenly registered that he was on a boat. No, a ship. Below him a canon fired, and there was the acrid explosive smell, exactly the same as when they fired the flashpots in the show.
Again, his body moved of its own accord, spinning around and smacking into. . .Jack? It was Jack, of course, although the hair was completely different - crazy beaded dreadlocks - and instead of the neatly trimmed goatee, he wore two little braids on his chin. Jack put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Are y'alright, love? You're bleedin'."
"Has he come to yet?" Jack's voice, strained with anxiety, was the first thing Will heard as he regained consciousness.
Will struggled to pull himself out of his strange dream, still hearing the booming canons and seeing the light reflecting off that impossibly blue water. Details filtered into his consciousness: bright florescent lights, flowered curtains, and ah, sterile smell. Hospital then.
Will felt Jack take his hand and, with some difficulty, he pried his eyes open. Jack gave him a crooked smile that immediately shifted to a more nonchalant look. "Are you ok? You're bleeding."
Will blinked a bit at the déjà vu, then gingerly felt around and found the lump on the side of his head and the stitches on his temple. A trickle of blood came away on his hand. Damn, that was some gash. He thought back and remembered reaching for the dangling light, overbalancing himself and toppling onto the stage below.
"Yeah," he said, slowly. "I think I am. But while I was out, I had the weirdest dream. Really vivid and kind of freaky - like The Wizard of Oz or something"
"Singing and dancing and Technicolor?"
"Not exactly. Canons and swordfights and 'you were there.'"
Jack chortled. "You got knocked on the head and you dreamed you were a pirate? And Ana thinks I've had too much swishbuckling. . ."
"We were pirates. And you should have seen your hair!" Will grinned at the memory. "I guess Buccaneers and Black Flags has taken up permanent residence in my subconscious."
"James, I can't come in tonight. Somebody needs to stay with Will - he's on concussion watch."
James' dry British sarcasm came through loud and clear, even over the phone. "As usual. How many injuries does this make so far this summer? Six? And last year I think he finished the year at nine visits to the emergency room. He's got to be the clumsiest electrician I've ever seen."
"He's not that bad, Jamie. He's good on the board, and at least he's sober."
James sighed at the hated nickname. Jack was certain James was pinching the bridge of his nose. "Fine, you're just the lead, why would we need you to rehearse?" Then he relented a bit. "God knows you've done the show enough, Jack, I guess it'll be fine. Tell Will I hope he feels better soon."
Jack hung up the phone and rubbed his hands together with glee. They both had the night off, and concussion or not, Jack was going to make it worth both their whiles.
Jack had Will pushed up against the refrigerator, one hand cupped loosely over the placket of Will's jeans, the other lifting Will's black t-shirt. It was almost enough to make Will forget the throbbing pain in his head.
"I thought you were going to make me some dinner?" Will asked breathlessly. "Not that I'm complaining."
Jack swiped his tongue up Will's stomach and muttered, "Half a moment." He unbuttoned the top two buttons of Will's fly, his fingers grazing the sensitive skin underneath. Will grabbed onto the refrigerator handle to steady himself.
"Chicken noodle soup?" Jack bit down on the point of Will's hip. "Pizza?" He finished unbuttoning Will's fly and curled his fingers around Will's cock. "Beer? Anything you want." With one smooth motion, he yanked Will's jeans down around his knees. He looked up at Will with smoldering eyes. "But first. . ."
Instantly, the world shifted. The linoleum under Will's bare feet was replaced by smooth wood, the round kitchen light fixture morphed into an orangey full moon, and a wooden wheel took the place of the cool metal of the refrigerator handle. But the mouth on his cock was just the same, right down to the way Jack dragged the tip of his tongue along the underside before suddenly engulfing him again.
Jack fixed Will with those same smoldering dark eyes (lined with makeup the way they were after a show) and then moaned deep in his throat. And that was all it took.
When he opened his eyes, he was back in the kitchen. Jack was licking his lips and bouncing back onto his feet, with his usual lithe grace. He hooked one of the wooden chairs with his foot and dragged it towards Will. "Here, sit down, you look wiped out." Somehow Jack managed to make even this solicitous remark sound lewd.
Will fastened his jeans and sat down heavily in the chair. While Jack opened a can of soup, Will scrubbed his hand across his face and thought about what had just happened. It was the same as before - not dreamlike, but incredibly concrete, as real as Jack standing there at the stove humming "Alice's Restaurant" and doing a shuffle-y little dance as he stirred the soup. Will recalled the doctor's words as she checked him out of the hospital, "Call us if you experience any nausea, sleep difficulties, or hallucinations," and a chill went through him. So far he'd managed to avoid serious injury, but there's a first time for everything, right?
To Will's great relief, he didn't have another hallucination for several days. He'd just managed to convince himself that he'd been making a mountain out of a molehill, when it happened again.
He and Jack were sitting on the deck at the Crab Trap, the roar of the ocean loud enough that they had to raise their voices to be heard. They'd just finished a dozen raw oysters and a plate of fried shrimp, as well as a bucket of Dos Equis.
The sky was rose and gold and a pleasant breeze blew in off the water. Jack threw his last hushpuppy at a gull, then propped his feet up on planter of rosemary and tipped his head back. His foot brushed the herb and the sharp, clean smell filled the air.
Will leaned back himself, taking a simple, aesthetic pleasure in the line of Jack's throat and the way the fading light caught on his cheekbones. Predictably, the quiet moment only lasted a few minutes before Jack kicked off his sandals and said, "Let's go down to the water."
Instead of walking on the board walk, Jack, ever the show-off, had to jump up onto the rail and balance himself there. Something about his silhouette against the horizon gave Will an oddly familiar feeling of vertigo and then everything changed.
Jack was standing on a wooden structure - the gallows - with a noose around his neck. A drum was beating a steady tattoo, and Will's heart was pounding to the same rhythm. Will felt a stab of panic; he had to do something, but his hands were tied behind his back and there was a guard standing beside him. With a sickening fatalism, Will realized that they were both about to die. Jack turned his head so that he could meet Will's eyes, and grinned defiantly. "Be seeing you, mate!" And the hangman pulled the lever and Jack disappeared through the trap door.
This time, when Will returned to himself, he was collapsed on the board walk with Jack's arms around him. He couldn't shake the panic he'd felt in his hallucination, or the pounding heart and shortness of breath. Jack was saying his name over and over again, but it took Will a moment before he could reply.
"I'm ok, Jack, let me up." He sat up and brushed his fingers across Jack's face. God, it had been so real. Will shuddered at the memory.
"Maybe you oughta go see that doctor again," Jack said quietly.
Jack was almost asleep when Will spoke, picking up the thread of an earlier conversation. "The thing is, they feel so real. He hesitated, and the mattress creaked as Will rolled onto his back. "Did you ever see that Kenneth Branagh movie - Dead Again?"
Jack turned towards Will. The streetlight outside their window was shining through the blinds, casting yellowish stripes across his face.
"Do you ever wonder if stuff like that - reincarnation - could be for real?" There was sincerity in Will's voice, underneath the bantering tone, and Jack was reminded of the anguish on Will's face after the most recent episode.
"I dunno. I always figured you live and then you die and that's it. Take what you can and give nothing back, you know?"
"But there's no way to know. Anything's possible, right? 'More things in heaven and earth. . .'"
The whole topic made Jack itchy and uncomfortable, and he couldnt quite put his finger on why. As much to shut Will up as anything, he said, "Yeah, anything's possible."
Some of the tension left Will's body. "So maybe I'm not nuts?"
Jack laughed. "I didn't say that. You'd have to be nuts to pick me twice. Especially if I got you killed the first time."
Jack took the joint from Ana and inhaled deeply, then held his breath. He tried to pass it on to Will, but he waved it away, so Jack passed it on to Liz. It only took a few drags for Jack to feel pleasantly buzzed. Shortly thereafter Ana and Liz disappeared into the dunes, leaving Jack and Will dabbling their toes in the water.
Jack let his head loll back and opened his mouth, breathing in the salty tang of the ocean and savoring it on his tongue.
Will sprawled out beside him, and threw one leg over Jack's. "So, you stoned enough for a deep philosophical discussion?"
"What, like how do I know that what you see as green is what I see as green?"
Will kicked the water with his foot, soaking the bottom half of Jack's jeans. "No, like could we be reincarnated eighteenth century pirates."
Jack collapsed onto the sand with a sigh. "Not that again! I really want to believe it, but you have to admit, it's pretty farfetched. I don't mean to go all Scully on your ass, but I'm having a hard time buying this one."
Will pulled the elastic from his ponytail and raked his fingers through his hair. "I can't explain it Jack, but I know it's real. I've seen things, historical details, that I'd have no way of knowing."
Jack's frustration made his voice more sarcastic than he'd intended. "Except for the fact that you've spent the past five summers crewing an outdoor drama about pirates."
Will flinched like he'd been slapped and threw himself to his feet, kicking sand all over both of them. "It's not like this crap - 'avast, yarrr me hearties' - it's the real deal. If you don't believe me I don't know what else to tell you." And without another word, he turned and walked back towards their apartment.
Jack decided to hang out on the beach for a while, to give Will some time to cool off - he had a hot temper, but it usually blew over fairly quickly. Jack didn't intend to go to sleep, but it was dark and the sound of the surf was soothing, and before he knew it, he'd drifted off.
His first thought was that if this was anything like what Will had been experiencing, he owed him an apology. Jack had assumed that Will's whatever-they-weres were like watching a movie. But this was nothing like that. It was a little bit like a performance, when things were really cooking and his muscle memory took over and he didn't have to think about what to say or when to cross, because it just flowed out of him. Except that Jack was intensely aware of himself as separate from the body he was inhabiting, which was creepy as fuck.
He was at the helm of an old-fashioned tall ship - The Black Pearl - he knew that was her name, as if he'd known it all his life. His hand fit around the wheel like it was made for his grip, and the deck swayed gently under his bare feet. Standing there, Jack felt a sense of completion, of rightness like nothing he'd ever known. There was nothing in his life to compare to this - the way the ship felt like a part of him and also like a lover responding to his touch.
Someone slipped behind him and slid an arm around his waist. Without his volition, Jack's head turned. After Will's stories, Jack was unsurprised to see Will's head resting on his shoulder.
Will kissed him hungrily and then gave him a predatory grin. "Come to bed, Jack. I'll make it worth your while."
As Jack struggled back to consciousness, he was immediately aware of two things: his damp jeans were clinging uncomfortably to his erection, and Will was shaking his arm and saying, "C'mon, get up and come to bed, Jack. If you sleep out here you're liable to drown when the tide comes in."
The cue to cue was going swimmingly until Ana called light cue 33, at which point the special for Jack's entrance refused to come up.
"I'm working on it, Ana," Will said through gritted teeth. Damn drunk Dan, he'd no doubt done something screwy with the dimmer packs. And as usual, Will would have to be the one to straighten it out. Why Web Swann kept Dan on was a mystery. With a sigh, Will set to troubleshooting the problem.
Ana took off her headset and yelled, "Technical difficulties, guys. Take a break."
While Will tried to solve the lighting problem, the actors milled around gossiping and smoking, in blatant violation of the no smoking in costume rule. Jack took off his feathered hat and sat in the house, thinking about the previous night's dream.
Jack should have told Will immediately that he'd had a dream like the ones Will had been having, but he felt a strange reluctance to do so. He was half-convinced it was nothing more than a combination of the pot and Will's crazy stories that had prompted the dream anyway, and he hated the idea of giving Will any more ammunition. But he felt guilty about not telling him, especially since the hallucinations were still a sore topic between them.
Liz approached with a needle in her hand, interrupting his thoughts. "The pocket on your coat is torn. I noticed it just now and I thought I'd fix it while we're all sitting around."
Jack silently took off his coat and handed it to her, hoping that she'd take the hint and shove off. No such luck, she sat down in the seat next to him and began sewing up the pocket. "So, how are things with you and Will?"
Jack raised an eyebrow at her. "You know exactly how things are with me and Will or you wouldn't be asking."
"Subtlety's not my strong suit," Liz admitted. "Will says it's. . .tense."
"Did he tell you why it's tense, you interfering biddy"?
Liz nodded as she bit off the thread.
"And I trust Will. In all the years I've known him, he's never lied to me."
Jack toyed with the feather on his hat. "I don't think he's lying. But what if he's off his rocker from that fall he took?"
Liz said, "Stop that - you'll break it," as she smacked his hands. "He seems perfectly normal. And it's not like he's some kind of hippy dippy freak. He's never shown the slightest interest in all that New Age crap."
Jack felt himself getting defensive. "First time for everything, right? You can't tell me you believe in that crap. And don't you dare quote Hamlet at me."
"Who the hell knows what happens after death? Why is reincarnation more ridiculous than heaven? Or that we simply cease to exist?"
Before he could argue with that, Ana called places. Liz took his hat, placed it on his head at a rakish angle and said, "Just think about it ok? It's making him nuts that you think he's crazy."
After the cue to cue, Will disappeared with Ana to discuss some last minute fixes. Jack walked home by himself, thinking about his conversation with Liz.
If Jack's dream had been a memory (and that was a pretty big if), he'd once been a real pirate. Captain Jack Sparrow, with a ship of his own, to take him anywhere he cared to go. Now he was a sham, the next best thing to Captain Kangaroo, a pantomime pirate with a prop gun, a fake sword, a toy compass, and no ship.
What he needed, Jack decided, was some rum, stat.
After a quick trip to the liquor store, Jack sat out on the balcony where he could see the moon on the water. He downed a shot hastily, and lit a cigarette, then threw back another shot. He wondered idly if he could induce one of the hallucinations. Couldn't hurt to try, right? He downed another shot, then closed his eyes, remembered that feeling of connection to the ship, and willed himself to her.
When he opened his eyes, the moon was just as full and bright on the water, and the air smelled of brine and rum, but the world was rocking and he could hear the slap of waves against the hull.
Will sat across from him, a bottle in his hand. His voice tuned in like a radio, midsentence. ". . .got her back. Again." He grinned triumphantly.
Jack's mouth formed words that he had never planned on saying. "Of course I did. I'm Captain Jack Sparrow!" And they clinked their bottled together and drank deeply.
In an instant, everything was back to normal. Jack considered his alter ego's words. He'd lost his ship. More than once. And he'd regained it. Maybe Jack couldn't have a ship like that in this day and age, but that was no reason to mope around and make himself and everyone around him miserable. He'd find something else to fill that place in his soul. Hell, maybe he could even buy a sailboat - Ana had been looking for someone to take her crappy little catamaran off her hands. It was a piss-poor excuse for a boat, but you have to start somewhere, right? And suddenly, Jack was filled with confidence. Damn straight, he thought, I'm Captain Jack Sparrow!
Will got home well after midnight and found Jack on the couch, half drunk and watching Captain Blood. He appeared to be drinking rum straight from the bottle.
Jack sat up and toasted him with the bottle. "Those were the days, eh Will?"
Oh, so now Jack had moved from disbelief to outright mockery. Great. Will resisted the temptation to throw his keys at Jack, and instead turned and went into the bedroom. He tossed his toothbrush and a change of clothes into an overnight bag and came back into the living room, saying, "I'm sleeping at Liz and Ana's. I guess I'll see you tomorrow at the tech."
Jack swung his feet off the coffee table (knocking the rum over in the process) and grabbed Will's arm. "Whatever you thought I meant by that, I didn't mean it."
"Oh, I think it was pretty clear," Will said, heading towards the door.
Jack, who was more agile than Will, even after half a bottle of rum, leapt in front of him and blocked the door. "This isn't going to fix anything. Don't go."
Jack's eyes were still faintly rimmed with eyeliner, reminding Will of that other Jack. Will felt some of his anger recede.
Jack seemed to sense his change of heart and pressed his advantage. "Please?"
Will perched on the arm of the wingback chair and crossed his arms expectantly. "Well?"
Now that Jack had won a reprieve, he didn't seem to know what to say. "I know I've been a pain in the ass lately," he said hesitantly.
Jack brightened and took a step closer. "I should have believed you when you said it was real."
Will nodded again.
Jack sauntered closer. "You were right and I was wrong."
Jack closed the distance between them, breathing, "I'm sorry," on Will's lips before kissing him fiercely.
Will was smart enough to know that a good fuck wouldn't solve their problems. His super-ego was insisting that he call a timeout until he and Jack could talk through everything, but his id (which was screeching, "fuck him now!") won.
Will and Jack barely noticed when the chair tipped over with their combined weight, snapping a leg and toppling them right into the pool of spilt rum. They were too busy tearing off each other's clothes to pay much attention to anything else.
Jack stared at the broken chair leg. "We broke the chair."
"Yep," Will said in a satisfied tone, mopping up the rum with Jack's t-shirt.
"So, are things ok now?"
"That depends. Are you going to keep acting like I'm crazy?"
"Are you going to keep acting crazy?"
Will tossed the rum soaked t-shirt right into Jack's face.
"Joke! Sorry, sorry, it was a joke."
The look on Will's face told Jack he'd gone too far.
He took Will's hand. "Seriously. I'm sorry. 'More things in heaven and earth,' right?"
Will smiled and the relief was evident in his eyes. Jack opened his mouth to tell him about his visions, about the ship that might have been his, once upon a time; but something made him hesitate to share that story. It wasn't time yet. But when it was, he knew where to go.
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