Title: Drink Up, Me Hearties
Fandom: Life On Mars AU
Rating: T for thematic elements and Gene Hunt
Disclaimer: I am in no way smart enough to own Life on Mars. The show belongs to the wonderful, talented people who made it, of which I am not one. Everything outside the show however, like this bizarre AU idea, is mine.
A/N: I regret nothing. This is awesome. Okay, it's an Alternate Universe fic following the series, but set in the Golden Age of piracy, around 1720. Everything I know about pirates comes with my obsessions with Pirates of the Caribbean a few years ago. Also, this is wayhayhay eventual slash (like, it's nonexistent for the first half of the series.) But this is Life on Mars, baby, you should be used to that.
CHAPTER ONE: IT'S A GODAWFUL SMALL AFFAIR
Captain Sam Tyler was known far and wide throughout the Royal Navy as being one of the best and most studious of men. His exploits and successes at catching pirates were well-known and documented, and he was even considered an attractive folk hero in certain circles, much to the delight of his mother.
Captain Tyler was also a man of infinite patience, intelligence and order. Unfortunately such qualities, while very impressive for a Navy captain, did not contribute much to a varied personal life. His mother, back in Manchester, was the only one who actually enjoyed spending time with him.
Even letters from his fiancee, Maya Roy, were getting terser and terser after he stopped responding to them. He kept meaning to, of course, but work was always getting in the way. At least that's what he told himself.
The loyalty from his men was grudging, at best, since they resented that he worked them almost perpetually. His ship was always sparkling clean, his crew always spit-and-polished, and he always, always caught the bad guys. Even if it drove away everyone around him.
That was why he was sitting alone in his cabin on the ship, the HMS Hyde, reading a letter from Maya, instead of at a bar with his colleagues. Not that he'd want to be out, he had far too much work to do. He focused and looked down at the letter, which was the shortest of all her letters.
Sam, it read, in Maya's practical yet feminine handwriting,
I'm sorry this had to happen through a letter, instead in person, although maybe this way you'll actually pay attention to me. I can't be with you anymore. I keep writing, hoping that one day you'll write back, but you never do. Even when we're together, it's like your mind is somewhere else. All you care about is work, and everything else gets pushed aside.
I'm going to set you free, Sam. I'm sending the engagement ring in this envelope, hoping that someday, maybe, you'll find someone who can rake up those emotions you've buried so deep. Goodbye, Sam.
Sam tilted the envelope towards his hand, and a delicate ring fell out. He stared at the ring in his hand. He knew, intellectually, that he should be upset about this. In his head, he knew that when a couple splits apart, they should feel sadness and remorse.
He felt nothing of the sort. Maya was nice enough, sure, the proper kind of woman a proper man like himself was expected to settle down with. He had proposed with every intention of marrying her, but after getting called to work catching pirates, the engagement had slipped out of his mind.
He stored the ring in his pocket, pulled a map toward him and started calculating his next route, resolving to think more about Maya when he got the opportunity.
Except he never did, because Sam spent the next few days frantically trying to get the ship ready to sail for their next voyage. As Sam oversaw some supplies being transferred onto the ship, three days later, he thought of Maya's letter with a pang. He had completely forgotten.
He slipped his hand into his pocket, where the engagement ring still lay, and felt an intense wave of loneliness. Maya was right; his work was consuming him. But that was good, right? Better work than drink, better hidden sneers from his men than consorting with unsavory women. Did it matter, in the end, that he was intimate with no one if he caught the men terrorizing the seas?
He left the men to their work and wandered towards and empty spot by the water. He sat down on a barrel and took off his hat, scratching at the powdered wig under it. As he sat there contemplating, a small native girl no older than ten wandered by him, humming a song Sam didn't recognize.
She was dark-skinned, with starling blue eyes and blond tints in her otherwise chestnut hair. In one arm she held a ragged doll made out of blue fabric that seemed to fit perfectly against her red dress. She peered at him inquisitively, tilting her head in a way that would be cute on any other child.
"Wonder if they'll ever know," she sang, and her voice had an eerie quality that didn't fit a child of her age, "It's a best-selling show…Is there life on Mars?" She stopped singing and stood there staring at him for a long, awkward silence.
"Hello," Sam said hesitantly. He wasn't comfortable with children.
She blinked, with a remarkably impassive expression for such a small girl. "You're stuck, Sam," she said flatly.
"What?" Sam gaped, "How do you know my name?"
"I know everything about you." She said it as though it were something obvious. "You're not getting anywhere, you know."
"Wha- Of course, I am," Sam said, responding almost solely on instinct.
"No, you're not," she contested. "That's why we've decided to help you. It's for your own good, Sam, you'll see. Soon you'll see very clearly." She gave a smile that seemed to stretch too far across her face to be natural, and then she vanished.
Sam stared at the spot where she had been and blinked, very slowly.
"Maybe I have been working too much," he muttered, and walked back to the ship. They had a lot more to do, after all.
Several more days after that, they were in pursuit of a well-known pirate by the name of Edward Kramer, and they were closing in on him fast. Sam was pushing his crew harder than ever, joining in himself when needed.
It was a boiling hot day, the Caribbean sun burning down onto his still-pale skin, and he had taken off his coat, hat and wig. He was barely a captain now in looks, appearing merely as one of the crew. But his manner still remained as befitting of his rank, his posture perfect as he ran along the deck bellowing orders to his crew.
They were just catching up to Kramer, the wind at their back and their sails pulled taught, when someone cried, "Captain, another ship coming up behind us!"
Sam raced to the stern, pulling out a telescope and peering at the ship that was, indeed, pulling up behind them and gaining speed.
"It's not flying any official colors," he said to no one in particular, "It's probably a pirate ship. But Kramer doesn't have any other ships, he's not powerful enough to…"
The ship shook with sudden impact, and Sam turned quickly.
His first mate replied to the unanswered question, saying, "Kramer's turned and fired on us, sir. We've back him into a corner and he's getting desperate."
Sam nodded. "Right. Ready the cannons and prepare to fire ba-"
The ship shook again from a cannon impact, and a piece of the rigging swooped towards Sam. It hit him in the head and knocked him off his feet, and Sam staggered backwards toward the railing.
His first mate reached for him, but it was already too late and Sam fell over the railing off the ship. The only thought that came to his woozy mind, in the few seconds before he hit the water, was, This has got to be the stupidest way to die.
Sam groaned and opened his eyes, then quickly shut them again. The sun was bright and hot on him, and his head and body were aching. He gathered himself together, and remembered the confrontation with Kramer.
Deciding he need to know what was going on, Sam forced his eyes opened again and sat up. He came face-to-face with a motley, dirty crew of men with, surprisingly, a few women mixed in as well.
The man that became the most immediately apparent was the one standing right in front of Sam, staring down at him with worried eyes, and the yellow-haired man further back with a look of complete disgust on his face.
"Y'alright?" the man with the worried eyes asked, leaning in even closer to Sam. When Sam leaned back instinctively, the other man sensed his faux pas and got out of Sam's personal space.
"This isn't my ship," Sam muttered, looking around.
"Er, no," the other answered, "You fell off your ship, and we rescued you. Don't you remember?"
Sam felt extremely discombobulated as he replied absently, "I remember falling off my ship…"
The other man grinned and stuck out a hand, "I'm Chris Skelton," he said, "And who are you?"
Sam said, "Sam Tyler," but didn't take Chris' hand. Chris awkwardly pulled it back to himself and wiped it on his filthy shirt.
"I say we should have left him in the water," the yellow-haired man said. Along with the hair, he had an impressively bushy beard and was holding a cigar in one hand.
"That's Raymondo," Chris whispered to Sam, at the same time as an older woman was telling Ray, "You know the guv wouldn't like that, Ray. Do you want to be the one he keelhauls next?"
Ray snorted and said, "The next one will be you, Phyllis, you old bag, if you don't shut up."
"That's Phyllis," Chris said unnecessarily, as Phyllis and Ray began arguing in the background, "Look, you look really bad. Maybe Annie should take a look at you."
"Who?' Sam asked, not really caring about the answer.
"Our medical person. She's really good at it," Chris lowered his voice and said, "She's got nice tits, too."
The vulgarity was too much for Sam, who jumped up, ignoring the resulting pain in his head. "What the hell is going on?" he shouted, and everyone else stopped talking and looked at him. "Where's my crew? My ship? I'm a captain of the Royal Navy, not meant to be on a filthy ship of-" he looked up and saw the flag flying in the breeze, "pirates."
Ray snorted, his look of disgust becoming even more complete, and Chris said, "Er, you might want to keep it down, Sam."
Sam, standing with his back to the doors of the captain's cabin, heard noises of things being moved and coughing.
"Too late," Ray said, with an intense look of satisfaction.
The door behind Sam was flung open, and Sam turned to see who was there. He saw a large, bulky man wearing a simple white shirt hanging open, and brown pants. A cutlass hung on one side of his belt, and a gun of the other, and he held a cigar in one hand. He was obviously in charge.
Sam turned to face the man fully and, still feeling anger and confusion coursing through him, said, "Fine, then. Surprise me. What ship is this supposed to be?"
The man considered Sam for a minute, and placed the cigar in his mouth. "Word in your shell-like, pal," he said, then grabbed Sam's shirt and dragged him into the cabin, slamming him up against a wardrobe anchored against the wall.
Sam shoved off the man's hands, feeling a spark of pure fury he hadn't ever felt against this man who dared to manhandle a captain of the Royal Navy. "Big mistake," he hissed.
"Yeah?" said the man, unfazed by the force of Sam's anger, "What about this?" And he punched Sam in the stomach, causing him to double over.
As Sam was still gasping, the man grabbed him by the shirt again and shoved him back against the wardrobe, pressing into Sam with his body. "They reckoned your brains were scrambled," the man said, "Well, I don't care if you've got your brains fallin' out your ears, you do not ever waltz onto my kingdom acting king of the jungle. From the moment you step onto this ship I own you, as surely as if I bought you with me own meager coin."
Sam, still more angry and unhinged than he could ever remember being, said, "And who the hell are you?"
The man pressed even closer still, and said, "Gene Hunt, captain of this good ship and crew."
"A pirate ship," Sam said, sneering.
"Your ship now," Gene said, "Welcome to the Mars."
A/N 2: Oh yes. I just did that.
Next time: Sam's anger had a brief war with his professional curiosity, before he asked, "You said you were after Kramer. Why?"/ a cute girl with brown hair tied back and blue eyes trotted in, her eyes engaging in a cursory examination of Sam's health. / As soon as they got to the relative privacy of belowdecks, Sam said, "I'm not staying here, you know." / Gene lifted the sheet to reveal the dead body of a young woman. "Meet Suzi Tripper," he said.