I. The Mortal Coil
Portals, Pirates and Predicaments
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of ‘em but they do run rampant in my head….
Part I – the Mortal Coil
Is it over? Did we win?
Dawn Summers cracked open her eyes and was greeted with a sunlit sky that made her head throb almost as much as the cuts on her stomach.
A hand grabbed her roughly and hauled her to her feet. “Lookee what we got ‘ere, mates.”
It took a second for her eyes to focus, to realize the ground beneath her bare feet wasn’t ground at all, but wood and it was rocking. A boat. She was on a boat. And the demon holding her wasn’t really a demon. He was…a pirate?!
“’allo, lovely.” The pirate grinned at her with a few too many missing teeth.
“Hi.” Dawn smiled back uncertainly, waited a beat and then shrieked the one word that always saved her. “Buffy!!!!!!”
“Now what’s all this fuss about, missy?” Another pirate appeared at the elbow of the one holding her.
“She’s not here, you sniveling meatsack.”
Oh. No. That voice. “Glory?”
The insane god draped an arm around her, ignoring the two pirates. “That’s right, Dawnie. Your stupid Slayer sis really screwed things up this time. And would you look at my shoes? They’re ruined.”
“Ahem.” The pirate who’d inquired about the source of the fuss poked Glory with the tip of his sword. “Hush, darling.”
Glory arched an exquisitely shaped eyebrow and grabbed the sword. She jerked her hand back with a cry. “Ow! That hurt, you miserable insect!”
“That wasn’t very smart, pet. You’ve gone and cut yourself.”
“That’s impossible,” Glory snapped. She looked down at her hand. “Is that blood? Dawnie, am I bleeding?”
Dawn examined the cut. “Yes, it is, and you are and I hope you die.”
“Oooooh, this is so unfair,” Glory ranted. “Dreg! Where is he? Dreg! I want answers!”
A body was hurled at her feet.
“If yer inquirin’ about the leper, we did the merciful thing –“
“You killed my minion,” Glory shrieked. “You. Killed. My. Minion. Nobody kills my minions except me.”
Dawn looked up at the pirate with the sword who was watching Glory’s antics with more than a hint of amusement. “I don’t suppose you’d let me kill her, would you?”
The pirate smiled down at her and shook his head. “That’s rather bloodthirsty talk for a little bit like yourself.”
“Please? I really, really hate her.”
The pirate shook his head again, causing the charms in his beard to clink together. “Not yet.”
“But maybe later? Like when she gets on your nerves?”
“Maybe later,” the pirate consented.
“Are you in charge here,” Glory demanded of the pirate, shoving Dawn out of her way.
“I am.” He bowed slightly. “Captain Jack Sparrow, at yer service.”
Her hand darted out and wrapped itself around his throat. “You were in charge here, mealworm. Now I’m in charge, got it?”
Glory’s eyes widened in shock as the captain plucked her hand off and then applied pressure to her wrist.
“Owwwww. That hurts, you miserable –“
“Toss this one in the brig, boys. The little one’s with me.”
“Captain?” Dawn tugged at his sleeve again.
Kohl-lined brown eyes met hers, “Yes, pet?”
Dawn mimed a knife across her throat with her index finger. “Any time you want.”
Captain Jack Sparrow watched the girl with interest as she explored his cabin. He took a sip of his precious rum as she made her way to his bookshelves, tilting her head to examine the titles. “Some of those ain’t in English, love.”
Dawn – yes, that was her name—started at the sound of his voice. “Oh, uh, heh-heh, yeah, I can see that.”
She spun around guiltily and that’s when he noticed the slashes and bloodstains on the front of her dress. The dress itself was clearly expensive, but contradicted by her bare feet. “Where are ye from, darlin’?”
“Sunnydale.” Dawn hesitated and then hastily added. “It’s the family farm. In the colonies.”
A blind man could see she was lying. He decided to try another tack. Patting the bed beside him, Jack gestured to her. “Come here and I’ll clean up those wounds for ya.”
“I’m okay. They’re just…” She trailed off and looked down at herself. “Where am I, anyway?”
“You’re on the Black Pearl, fastest ship in the Caribbean.”
“Wow…” Dawn looked up, catching sight of the map on his table. In three steps, she was studying it intently.
Jack cleared his throat. “Pet. Your wounds? Unless, ye’d like to get infected, of course?”
The girl bounded over and perched next to him. “Do you have any cool pirate tattoos?”
Was he losing his touch? Shouldn’t she be quaking in fear, worrying about protecting her virtue – no matter that she was too young to be remotely interesting that way – and begging him not to hurt her? Instead, she was impertinently wandering around his cabin, poking at his things and now asking about his tattoos. Sighing, he rolled up his right sleeve and displayed the artfully done sparrow.
Her finger traced the ‘P’ that had been branded below the tattoo. “P for ‘pirate’?”
“Aye. Nice ta know ya can read, little missy.”
“You got busted, huh?”
“By the Dutch.” Why was even he explaining this? “But I escaped, of course. Don’t tell me ye’ve never heard of Captain Jack Sparrow?”
“Nope. But I’ll bet you’ve got lots of interesting stories –“
“Very few of which are suitable for young ladies. Now would ye stop tryin’ to delay me cleanin’ those cuts?”
“I wasn’t –“
“You were.” He gave her his sternest look.
“Okay, okay, maybe I was. This is going to sting, isn’t it?”
He reminded her of Spike. She was sure Buffy would throw a fit if she knew that she’d taken off her dress for the pirate so he could clean up her wounds. Of course, Captain Jack hadn’t even glanced at her, just used some sort of smelly antiseptic, put on a couple of bandages and told her to get dressed again.
And then he offered her a sip of rum, just to be polite.
Spike would never have done that.
Buffy would definitely have pitched a fit, which is why Dawn said yes and tasted rum for the first time in her fifteen years. She’d downed the entire mug in a gulp, which is something Buffy warned her never to do.
“That’s nasty,” Dawn coughed. “Now I know why Spike prefers beer.”
She smiled slowly. “You’d probably know him as William the Bloody.”
“William the what?”
“How about Angelus? Ever hear of him?”
“Who?” Kohl-lined brown eyes narrowed at her.
She bounced off the bed and reached for the crucifix he had hanging over his door. “I suppose this is just for luck, right?”
“Leave it,” Captain Jack ordered. “And sit down. Yer makin’ me dizzy.”
Sitting down was a good idea, considering the room was spinning and the ship was pitching back and forth. Dawn sank into a chair. “Can I be a pirate?”
Captain Jack sighed loudly and took another deep draught of rum. “Wouldn’t ya prefer to get married an’ have babies?”
“I’m only fifteen,” Dawn sniffed. “Besides, I know all about pirates. You’re probably planning on selling me, right?”
“That’s what we do, little missy.”
“Big mistake. Huge.”
“You need me.”
“And why would that be?”
“Because those books over there that aren’t in English…I can read most of them. And I’m getting pretty good with the spells and stuff – I’m no Willow, or anything – but I’m not bad. And,” Dawn leaned forward whispering confidentially. “I’m the Key.”
To her shock, Captain Jack started laughing. Hard.
“You think I’m lying? Ask Psycho-Glory what I am.”
“And next you’ll be telling me Glory’s no ordinary wench.”
“Of course not,” he snorted.
“She’s a hell-god.”
“This is no way to treat a hell god,” Glory shouted, kicked at her cell door. “I’m going to eat all of your brains for this you rotten little meat bags.”
“What do you want, old man,” Glory sniffed.
“The name’s Joshamee Gibbs, miss, and the captain might let you out if you behave yourself.” The old pirate kept his distance, eyeing her warily.
“Behave myself? Do you know who I am?!”
“A wench what’s in a great deal of trouble with our captain.”
“You have more to worry about from me, Gibbsy.” Glory began pacing her small cell. “I’m a god, little man. I could crush you with a finger. But I’m going to offer you the chance of a lifetime. Let me out of here, give me back my Key and I’ll give you more power than your feeble little mind could ever fathom.”
“Miss, the captain’s not much appreciative of talk of mutiny, even from a lady as lovely as yourself---“
“Mutiny? You think I want this rotten little boat? I want my universe, Gibbsy.” She stopped her pacing and glared at him. “All I want is to go home. Is that too much to ask? Is it?”
“O-of course not, miss –“
“I don’t know how you pathetic humans do it. All this suffering, all this pain….for what?”
Gibbs began backing away from the cell.
“Where are you going?!”
Gibbs turned and fled back up the stairs.
“Bring her, Gibbs.”
“She’s mad, Cap’n. Why don’t you amuse yourself with the nice wee girl instead,” Gibbs suggested.
Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes and instead gestured at the girl who was snuggled under his covers, sleeping off her rum. “A bit on the young side, Gibbs, wouldn’t you say? Besides, I’m still keen to know how two lasses and a leper found themselves on that wreck in the middle of the ocean.”
“I’m sure the mad one was behind it all.”
“Gibbs. Why are you stalling?”
“She tried talking me into mutiny, Cap’n. Dangerous wench, she is, and bad luck, too.”
“I can see how following her curvy form might have its appeal, Mr. Gibbs,” Jack chuckled. “Bring her and have supper brought for the three of us. I’m sure the girl-child will wake when she smells food.”
“Food?” The lump in his bed spoke. “Where?”
“Here and shortly.” The Key, indeed. Whatever that was.
Moments later, Gibbs steered a complaining Glory into Jack’s cabin.
She stormed up to Jack and poked a finger into his chest. “Where’s my Key, worm?”
Jack removed her hand, capturing it in his own. “You might want to mind your manners, pet, considering the position you find yourself in.”
Glory yanked her hand from his and, in a lightning-fast movement, grabbed his head in her hands. She emitted a shriek of frustration. “Why am I not eating your brains right now?”
He grabbed her hands again. “Perhaps you’d prefer whatever the galley prepared instead?”
At the suggestion of food, the wench’s stomach rumbled. She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound. “What is that?”
“That’s your stomach telling you that you’d prefer something other than my brains.”
“Is it, now?”
“Gods don’t eat.”
The lump in Jack’s bed moaned. Dawn emerged from her cocoon of blankets and got shakily to her feet. “Haven’t you figured it out yet, oh great Glorificus? You’re not a god anymore. You’re a pathetic little meat sack, suffering along this mortal coil with the rest of us.”
“What?! That’s impossible,” Glory wailed.
Jack stepped aside as Dawn walked up to Glory. “When we got sucked through that portal, you lost your powers. Which means I get to do this.”
With that, Dawn punched Glory in the face.
Glory staggered backwards, her hand flying up to her mouth, staring in shock at the blood on her hand. “You’re going to pay for that, Dawnie. I just need your blood, little girl, it doesn’t matter if you have arms.”