I - Ship of Fools
Locks, Keys and Portals
Disclaimer: Still don’t own ‘em and they still won’t leave…..
Part I – Ship of Fools
“Dawn, what the hell is going on here?!”
“An apocalypse,” Dawn sputtered. “Glory….we went through a portal and Captain Jack helped me but Glory’s trying to end the world.”
Captain Jack Sparrow barely had time to recover from the small, blond lass’s last attempt to choke the life out of him when she grabbed him by the front of his shirt and lifted him into the air. The murderous gleam in her eye would have done Ana proud. “Who are you and what did you do to my sister?!”
To her credit, young Dawn grabbed her sister’s arm. “I told you, Buffy, that’s Captain Jack and he needs our help.”
“Dawn, there are no pirates in Cleveland, honey.”
“Sure there are, Buff. They play the Indians – whoa!” A young whelp strode into the room, stopping short as he took in the scene and the players. The whelp was large, muscular and sporting a patch where his left eye should have been. “Who’s Captain Hook and what does he want?”
“That’s Captain Jack Sparrow to ye, lad.”
Ignoring Jack, the whelp took his place at Buffy’s elbow. “Demon?”
She shook her head. “Dawn says she knows him.”
“Where’d he come from?”
“Just appeared in the living room.” Buffy threw her sister a look. “What did I say about playing with talismans?”
“B-but, I didn’t. This isn’t –“
“Xander, did you conjure a smelly pirate?”
“Not me. Sorry, Dawnie, that leaves you.”
“Buffy! Xander!” Dawn was practically hopping with impatience, trying to get their attention. “Listen to me!”
As the pair turned their eyes to the young lass, Jack realized with a shock that while she was still a girl-child, Dawn was not nearly so young as when she was on the Pearl. How in the blazes…
“I was sucked through a portal. With Glory. Captain Jack was trying to help us get home.”
Buffy shook Jack, the way a terrier shakes a rat. “You were helping Glory!? Why?”
“I’m asking meself the same question, love.” Just then, his shirt gave way and Jack crashed to the floor. He had a fraction of a second to realize that it was covered in some kind of fabric and marvel at its softness before the frightening blonde was leaning over him. He peeked around her. “Dawn? Pet? Is this the future ye were tellin’ me about?”
“Yes! Exactly!” Dawn was fairly bouncing now. “Buffy, would you stop trying to hurt Captain Jack? He’s a good man.”
“Pirate,” Jack muttered, getting to his feet.
Buffy blocked his way once more, arms folded across her chest. “Slayer.”
As Jack looked down into the lass’s fearsome countenance, and yes, something that small and pretty was indeed fearsome, he had the sinking feeling that it was going to be a long day.
“I don’t get this. Dawn’s been right here, with us.” Buffy rested her gaze on Willow. If anyone had an answer, Willow would be the one. Besides, it would give Will something to do, rather than moping about Kennedy, who was off helping Giles, Faith and Robin round up new slayers.
“We’ve never really explored what Dawnie’s being the Key means,” Willow said, softly, waving her hand slowly over the pirate and then over Dawn. Her eyes widened in surprise. “Dawnie, your aura…..”
“What about her aura?”
“It’s….I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like this. And him,” Willow indicated Jack with a nod, “I don’t know what you’ve been into, Captain, but you’ve been playing with some serious mojo.”
“He mentioned cursed treasure,” Dawn put in. “Captain Jack? What kind of curse?”
“Did he summon Dawn,” Buffy demanded, her hands curling into fists. “Is he responsible for this?”
The pirate got to his feet, the very image of indignation. “I most certainly did not summon Miss Dawn nor did I summon Glory. I do, however, rue the day I laid eyes on them and their leper.”
“Leper? What leper?”
“He means one of Glory’s minions.”
“Blasted wench and her bloody minions,” the pirate spat. “Aye, Miss Dawn, I should have let ye kill her when ye asked.”
Buffy stifled the urge to snarl as Andrew placed a big bowl of popcorn on the coffee table. “Not now, Andrew. We’re interrogating Captain Seagull here –“
“Sparrow, love. It’s Captain Jack Sparr ---“
“No way!” Andrew whirled, his mouth dropping open in amazement. “THE Capain Jack Sparrow? The Black-Pearl-Captain-Jack-Sparrow?”
Sparrow shot a triumphant glance at Buffy, along with a golden smile that nearly made her cringe. She made a mental note to book dental appointments for herself and Dawn at the earliest opportunity. “Ye’ve heard of me, then.”
“We haven’t,” Xander said, draping an arm around the geek. “Wanna clue us in, Andy?”
“I’m surprised you don’t know about this.” Andrew was hamming it up now and Buffy had to grab the sofa arm to keep from throwing him across the room. “It’s right there in the Watcher Diaries, the early 17th Century volumes. Captain Sparrow successfully defeated the curse of Wacoatzl and the crew of undead pirates who took over his ship and marooned him on a deserted island. Legend has it he escaped on the backs of giant sea turtles. Great story, really. They should make a movie out of it.”
Buffy nearly choked on her popcorn. She recovered quickly. “It still doesn’t explain why he summoned Dawn or Glory.”
“I didn’t –“
“I don’t think he did,” Willow cut in, smoothly. “Dawnie, what happened exactly?”
Buffy pulled the bowl of popcorn into her lap and waited. This was going to be good.
“And the next thing I knew, I was here, with Buffy yelling at me ---“
“I was not yelling,” Buffy snapped. “I was just telling you that your geometry grade was unacceptable.”
“Like I said, yelling.” Dawn snatched the bowl of popcorn from her sister and stuffed a piece into her mouth. “Except, the totally weird thing was –“
“Getting sucked into a portal to a pirate ship with Glory wasn’t weird enough for you,” Xander interrupted.
Dawn shot him a look and gritted her teeth as she continued. “The weird thing was, that I remember being on Captain Jack’s ship and I remember everything that happened here since Buffy….since I went through the portal.”
Buffy and Willow exchanged looks.
“I remember Buffy dying and coming back, and Tara and the First and going to school and just about everything in between, but I also know that what happened on Captain Jack’s ship was real.”
“’Course it was, love. An’ didn’t ye bring ol’ Jack back wi’ ye?” He patted her knee and then jerked his hand back as Buffy fixed him with another pissed off stare. “Except ye are more grown up now than when ye were on the Pearl. And yer clothes are….strange. Not like the pretty dress ye had on when I found ye. I’ fact, all o’ yer clothes are a might strange.”
“This from He of the Puffy Shirt?”
“Back to Jack’s point.” Willow shot all of them a quelling stare. “Jack –“
“That’s Captain Sparrow, love.”
“Captain…How old was Dawn on your ship?”
“She said she were fi’teen.”
“She was almost fifteen when we beat Glory and she’s almost seventeen now.”
“Ye’ve grown up right nice, Miss Dawn.”
“Thanks, Captain Jack.”
Willow cleared her throat again. “Dawnie, I think it’s time we learned about the source of your power.”
Jack tugged at the strange material of the clothing that the Xander whelp loaned him. The bath itself had been well near an adventure. Imagine, he mused, an entire room devoted to one’s personal hygiene. Hot water at a whim. The future was a luxurious place indeed.
The entire home was filled with items that caught his attention, but the Andrew boy and the Xander whelp hovered over him, giving him no chance to satisfy his curiosity.
“We need to be careful how much we show him,” Andrew commented gravely to Xander. “We wouldn’t want to violate the Prime Directive or alter the time-space continuum.”
“You mean worse than it already is?” Xander lifted Jack’s clothes between thumb and forefinger. “Jack, man, how can you stand wearing this stuff?”
“Pirate ships,” Jack explained through clenched teeth, as he snatched his clothing back, “do not have the amenities you seem to enjoy, boy. And I believe I warned ye’ to be careful wi’ these.”
“They can practically stand up on their own. Andy, go put ‘em in the wash, will ya?”
The boy took the clothes with a grim expression on his face. “Remember. Prime Directive.”
“Just go beam yourself to the laundry room and let me worry about Long John Silver, will you?”
“All right, I’m going. There’s no need to be mean about it.”
Jack perched delicately on the bed and watched the blond lad disappear with his clothes. “Prime Directive?”
“No interference with primitive cultures – uh, never mind.” Xander shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts. He leveled his gaze at Jack. “Andy’s not quite right in the head, if you know what I mean.”
“Long John Silver’s jus’ a fairy tale, ye know.”
“Yeah, I get that.”
“So, you an’ the lass, Buffy, are ye…involved? Or the fetching red-head?”
A look passed over the boy’s face and Jack realized he’d struck a nerve of some kind. “We’re just friends. All of us. And forget about Willow. She’s….y’know, just forget about all of them. They wouldn’t be interested.”
“Ye forget, boy, I’m Captain Jack Sparrow.” Yes, definitely struck a nerve. “All those lovely lasses an’ yer jus’ friends? You some kind of eunuch, boy?”
Xander moved more quickly than Jack expected, grabbing him by the shirt.
That seemed to be happening a lot today, Jack mused.
“You may be a pirate, but this carpenter can kick your ass all the way to the nearest Hellmouth and back.”
Hellmouth? Carpenter? Jack sighed loudly. Always the tradesmen and their fiery tempers. “Easy, lad, jus’ passin’ time.”
“Try passing it with your mouth shut.”
Jack repressed a smile as an outraged Dawn strode into the room and smacked the lad smartly on the arm.
“Stop picking on Captain Jack.”
“He called me a eunuch.”
The girl tried her hardest, it was clear, but she lost her battle and erupted in giggles.
“I am not a eunuch.” Xander drew himself up. “I just happen to have bad luck with women. Most of them turn out to be giant insects or demons or --- y’know, never mind. You baby-sit him for a while, Dawnster. I’m going to see what Will’s come up with.”
“I do believe I could learn to enjoy this century,” Jack smiled.