A/N- This is a one-shot written for The Fireplace Crossover Challenge. It's a cross between Torchwood and PotC. For those of you unfamiliar with Torchwood, it's a sci-fi series that, amongst other things, deals with some time travel. Its lead character is Captain Jack Harkness, an who is unabashedly bisexual.
Captain Jack Sparrow lounged in the shadows, propped up against a mast. His eyes tracked the mirage as it moved closer and closer to The Pearl. It had started out as the merest speck on the horizon; hardly enough to warrant a passing glance, let alone spark any real interest. Yet, as the speck slowly and inexorably approached The Pearl, Jack's eyes remained riveted on it.
At first, this attention was due more to the sheer novelty of something new appearing on the scene rather than anything actually attributable to the moving dot. However, as it drew nearer, the dot developed into a true object of interest. The once amorphous blob coalesced into a tall man striding across the motionless, barren landscape. And now that man was standing less than fifty feet from the landlocked ship that had become Jack's very own private version of Hell.
Shrinking further into the concealing darkness, Jack thirstily drank in the details of this addition to the scenery. Part of him longed to run to the side of the ship and greet the newcomer, but years of experience as a pirate had drilled into him the value of assessing your enemy before acting. Jack's mouth twitched into a wry grin as he realized that most folks would never realize how very cautious he could be, when the situated warranted. Captain Jack Sparrow's exploits were well known and often viewed as either moments of sheer brilliance or utter madness. What most, save Gibbs and one or two others, failed to understand was that Captain Jack Sparrow never acted without a plan.
Jack fiddled with the trinkets in his hair as the stranger in the odd, long coat shielded his eyes and scanned for signs of life. Not yet wishing to reveal himself, Jack held still. There was an air of familiarity about this man. The coat reminded him of something Norrington might don, but Jack instinctively knew that there was likely very little else that the two men had in common. There was a certain something in the stranger's demeanor, apparent even at a distance, which suggested a joie de vivre that Norrington most decidedly lacked.
Jack watched as the coated man reached down, picked up a rock and threw it. The man's back was now turned towards The Pearl as he, with a seeming nonchalance, repeated the gesture a few more times. Recognizing the ploy for what it was, Jack decided that he was tired of the waiting game and stepped from the shadows.
"I'd be careful of those if I were you. Nasty, tricky little buggers they are."
Without turning around, the stranger queried, "Is that so? They look like simple rocks to me."
"Ah yes, that'd be what they'd be wanting you to think but I know better. When your back is turned, they scuttle about and follow you."
The man performed a quick about-face and flashed a wide grin up at him. Jack was blinded by the brilliance of the smile: a brilliance that had nothing to do with gold fillings. "Throw me a rope, Jack, and we can continue this conversation without shouting."
"Captain Jack Sparrow." The response came automatically and was out before it even occurred to Jack to wonder how his name was known. Curiosity bit at him and he knew the simplest route to answers was to play along with this newest hallucination of his. It might be madness but at least it was entertaining madness. He'd long ago given up any hope of escaping this prison of his. Better to carry on an imaginary conversation than die of boredom.
Jack threw the rope overboard and watched as the stranger quickly and athletically climbed up the side of the ship. The man landed with a slight thump on the deck and Jack was impressed in spite of himself. This was a tall, strapping, fine looking fellow who was not even a touch winded by the physical exertion. The mirage was so realistic that Jack doubted his senses for a moment. He chuckled as he mumbled to himself, "Now why couldn't I be conjuring up a Scarlet or even a Lizzie for company? Hell, while I'm at it, what about some rum? I could do with a drop or two of rum." Then Jack watched, as if by some divine intervention, the long coated figure reached to an inside pocket and withdrew a flask.
"I knew you'd be asking for rum. Here take this. It's the finest to be found in the galaxy."
Jack grabbed the flask and lovingly held it in his hands. His eyes wistfully caressed the metal container and he slowly unscrewed the stopper. Deliberately he made his movements slow, as he wanted to prolong this lovely daydream. It had been so very, very long since he'd had rum. His mind was cruel to play such tricks on him but it was a lovely cruelty. The kind practiced by women around the world: a glimpse of skin and the teasing promise of pleasure only to be followed by disappointment. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply and smelled the aroma of his nearly forgotten friend. Salvia collected at the corners of his mouth and he used the back of his hand to wipe it away. He lifted the flask to his lips and stopped short, hesitant to ruin the fantasy.
"Go ahead and drink it, Jack. It's real enough. As real as this ship and you and even me."
Deciding that he had tortured himself enough, Jack tipped his head back and took a large swig. Fully expecting to find nothing but air, he sputtered for a moment as cool, silky rum poured down his throat. For a few moments he luxuriated in the sensation, and then his eyes flew open as it occurred to him that if the rum was real, then so was the man standing before him. Being careful to not spill any of the precious liquid, Jack drew his sword and pointed it the stranger's chest.
"So you're real, eh? Then what are you doing here in Jones' Locker? That witch Calypso send you to make my life even more miserable?" Jack took another swig and slowly examined the man. "What's your name, whelp? I'm betting with your fine teeth and hair you'd be a hit with the ladies. Why'd you want to throw your lot in with the likes of Calypso?"
"Yes? I asked you a question, boy; it would behoove you to be answering my inquiries before I get testy."
The man sighed, smiled and shrugged off the heavy coat which was quickly becoming unbearably hot under the beating sun. "Captain Jack Harkness. Shall we take a seat in the shade?" Without waiting for a reply, he strolled over and sat down under the mainsail, finding a bit of relief from the sun. He held out his hand and wiggled his fingers in a silent plea for the rum.
"I think you've gone a bit daft, mate. The name's Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow, not Harkness. Now, I ask you once again nicely, who are you?"
The now semi-recumbent man laughed loudly and once again revealed his teeth. Jack found himself inexplicably fascinated by them. They were so straight and gleaming white. Come to think of it, the whole of the man exuded an air of health and vitality that Jack had never before encountered, not even among the posh and ponces.
"I'm not winding you up, Jack. My name is Captain Jack Harkness. Small world, isn't it?"
Jack suspiciously eyed Harkness. He felt as if he should be threatening him but Harkness' relaxed demeanor made that impossible, if not ridiculous. Shrugging his shoulders in acceptance of yet another unusual occurrence, Jack took another swig, plopped down to the deck and handed over the flask. At the every least, he had a drinking mate for a while.
"So, Captain Harkness, want to tell me what you're doing out here all by your onesies?"
"I was looking for you. We need to talk about a few things."
"Something tells me that I'm going to need more rum. Then again, a man can never have enough rum. Tell me about your ship, Harkness, a man cannot call himself a captain without having a fine ship. This one here is The Pearl; she's my lady and a fine one at that. She's seen me through all manner of beasties and bollocks. Wonderful thing about ships, unlike the ladies of the human persuasion, they don't go about betraying you and breaking your heart."
"Yeah, well that is part of the reason I'm here, Jack. First, let me ask you something. How certain are you that you are who you think you are? That is, how do you know that you are you, Captain Jack Sparrow, and not me, Captain Jack Harkness?"
"Listen, mate, I've not had myself nearly enough rum for that to make sense. But I know I'm me because I'm here and you're there. Therefore I am me and cannot be you, savvy?"
"Are you sure about that? One hundred percent positive?"
Jack's lip twitched up in a bemused smirk. This Captain Harkness was serious. He thought about the question and realized that he could not answer in the affirmative. "You'd best be telling me what's on your mind."
Over an hour later, both Jacks were pleasantly feeling the effects of the rum and Sparrow was surprised to find, no matter how much they drank, the flask never seemed to empty. He commented upon this fortunate development.
"Yes. It's a handy little device confiscated from a Terwillian. The technology in this device alone could prevent countless wars over oil. It's a shame that Torchwood has yet to figure out how it works."
Jack took the flask from Harkness and stumbled to his feet. Swaying a bit, he staggered over to the side of the ship and leaned against for support. His head was swarming with the tales that Harkness had just spun. Waving his arms about for emphasis, he asked, "Now let me get this straight, mate. I'm you and you're me. Only you're from the fifty-first century and another planet but you live in the twenty-first century in Cardiff? That bout sum it up?" The inquiry was delivered with such an emphatic hand gesture that a bit of rum sloshed over onto to his hand. Never one to waste good rum, Jack licked it off.
Harkness stood up and squinted, peering into the distance as if searching for something. "That's about it, Jack. I know it is difficult to believe but it's the truth." He flashed a charming smile.
"So… if I was to kill you with my sword, I'd not really be killing you at all but I'd actually be killing myself. Ipso facto, I'd not be here for me to be doing the killing of you therefore there'd be no killing to be done."
"Yes. That sounds correct. Even the Paradox Machine could not counteract your actually killing your future self. You are taking this rather well. Then again, I guess I should say that I'm taking this rather well."
"Well, mate, once you've been through the gullet of a giant sea squid and shat out upon this desolate strip of land, not much left in the world to surprise you. Still, me believing that you and I are one and the same is a whole other cup of tea."
"Oh, you'd be surprised, Jack. You have plenty of adventures left to experience."
Suspicion laced Jack's tone as he rather belligerently asked, "So tell me, when do I… we find the Agua de Vida? How much gold do we find?"
"We don't find it. It does not exist, at least not here on Earth, though there are similar waters on other planets."
"Then how am I still alive all those years from now? Come to think on it mate, how'd I get to be such a fine looking fellow?"
Captain Harkness expelled a loud sigh. This was proving difficult to explain to himself. So far, he'd been lucky in that he was ready to believe almost everything he'd told himself. But now this was the most farfetched aspect of the whole tale for him to digest. "Jack, you don't really exist. Well, you do, but not in this time period. When I said you were me, I meant you and I are literally the same person at this moment in time. A friend of ours, Captain John Hart, thought it would be a lark to send me back in time and implant false memories. It's a little trick he learned from a fellow named Adam. John wanted to see how long it would take for us to find my way back to the twenty-first century."
"Now you're just pulling my leg. I'm you but I'm not you and I really don't exist apart from you? I've told some whoppers but not even I'd try to sell this one. Mate, we don't even look like the same person."
"John used a modified perception filter on us. I look at you and I see the same image that I see when I look in a mirror, with the exception of some rather odd choices in clothing and hairstyle. But I'd bet that you and others view me as looking very different from yourself."
Jack stared at Jack. The other man was taller, fitter and, though he was loathe to admit to it, handsomer. Come to think on it, it might not be such a bad lot being this fellow. "How does this perception thingamabob work? Sounds like something Tia Dalma would give me."
Harkness drew closer to Jack and grasped Jack's chin. Turning Jack's head this way and that way, he studied the bits and trinkets woven into the braids. His eyes alighted on a silver coin half hidden by dirty hair. "Ah. This would be it. If I removed this, you would and others would see yourself as me. Do you have anything else unusual on you? Anything else this Tia Dalma gave you?"
Jack thought for a bit and then offered, "I had a compass. Bloody useless as a regular compass. It was supposed to show me my heart's desire but the bloody thing stopped working a while back. Kept pointing towards that wench Lizzie instead of the treasure."
At this statement, Captain Harkness let out a loud laugh and appeared to enjoy a private amusement.
Once again as that dazzling smile flashed, Jack felt an unusual stirring. One usually reserved for a pretty woman. He became aware that not only had Harkness not let go of his chin but he was now using both hands to cup Jack's face. And Harkness looked just as mesmerized as Jack felt. Seemingly of their own accord, the whispered words, "I want it. I do want to know what it tastes like," pushed past his lips.
Slowly the two men moved even closer to each other, until they could feel each other's breath against their skin. Somewhere in his mind Jack noted that, although he would have sworn Harkness was taller, their mouths seemed on an even plane. Mouth met mouth and an electric zing flashed through both of them, rooting them to the spot. Soon tongue battled with tongue in a dance for dominance. Neither was willing to give any quarter and several minutes later they broke apart, chests heaving with the effort of breathing.
For once in his life, the ever loquacious Jack was at a complete loss for words. The experience had been the most erotically intense one of his life and his breeches were now uncomfortably tight. Flummoxed by this development, he muttered, "It's not what you're thinking. I ain't into that kind of activity, not even at sea. I'm a man's man through and through. What's so funny?" Jack was starting to grow irritated by Harkness' smirk and growing laughter.
"You should see your face, Jack. John did one hell of a job with that perception filter. I guess he did not want any competition."
His dawning horror at the import of these words was apparent on Jack's face. "You don't mean that I and this fellow… I mean you and this fellow…we don't…" He could not finish the abhorrent thought.
Through his mirth, Harkness recognized the importance of what Jack had just said. "So, you believe me now when I say we are one and the same? What changed your mind?"
Jack shook his head to dislodge the images that Harkness had implanted. "That's a simple one to answer, young Harkness. Pure deductive logic. I'm an expert at osculation. Been told time and time again that I'd be the best the ladies have encountered. You're as good as me, so you and me must be the same.
Harkness shook his head, confused by his own illogical logic. He decided that it did not matter. He had now convinced himself that he was him. Time was ticking away.
"Look, Jack, I don't have the time to explain it all but it is imperative that you and The Pearl head towards the harbor or you'll miss them. If that happens, we'll be stuck here and time, as we know it, will be bent beyond recognition. That's the only reason Hart confessed to me when we failed to return on schedule. He never expected us to give up and wallow in the Locker. " He reached over and picked up his coat.
Sensing the urgency, Jack decided not to argue, even though he wanted to vehemently deny the charge of wallowing. He was not wallowing, damn it. How'd this nancy boy know what it was like to be stuck out here day after day with no one but one's own onesies for company? Jack's thoughts paused as he wondered if he'd just insulted himself.
"Just answer me one question?"
Harkness paused in the shrugging on of his coat. "Yes?"
"You and I and this fellow Hart…we never…I mean I'd never fancy a bloke, would I? It's one thing fancying myself, that's natural, but another bloke would be unnatural. Bugger it all! You're just having me on, aren't you?"
"Why don't you ask him yourself, Jack? You see, when I found out in the future what he'd done to me, I did the same to him. It seemed only fitting that he be the one to rescue us. I believe you'll find that the last person to posses your compass can answer your questions. That's if his own perception filter has started to wear off. Unlike he did with me, I put a time limit on it. Get that compass and you'll have both your answer and your way back to the future." With one last smile, Captain Jack Harkness gave Captain Jack Sparrow a mock salute and touched a leather strap fastened to his wrist. Before Sparrow's eyes, Harkness shimmered and melted away.
For a few minutes, Jack stood on the deck of The Pearl and wondered if it had all been yet another vivid hallucination but then absent mindedly he raised the flask and took a draught of rum. No, it'd been real enough and he'd best get a move on.
As he trudged over the desolate landscape tugging The Pearl behind him, Jack thought about Harkness' words. The last person to possess his compass. The last person to posses his compass had been… An image of the delectable Miss Swann sitting cross legged and holding the compass flashed in his mind's eye. With a shout of, "Bugger it all," Jack fainted dead away.