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fic post: Mr. Staker's Holiday by annlarimer and viedma (Hot Fuzz) - Thanks, ants.
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annlarimer
annlarimer
fic post: Mr. Staker's Holiday by annlarimer and viedma (Hot Fuzz)
TITLE: Mr. Staker's Holiday
FANDOM: Hot Fuzz
AUTHOR: annlarimer and viedma
WORD COUNT: Lots, like...whoah, 9,700.
RATING: PG for goddamn swearing, violence
WARNINGS: Movie spoilers, American spelling, writers who think they're fucking hilarious. Contains peanuts.
SUMMARY: Bread. Bread. BREAD BREAD BREADBREADBREADBREADBREADBREAD!
NOTES: Crit is love.
DISCLAIMER: Hot Fuzz belongs to breadbread Rogue and bread bread bread. Bread. No infringeBREAD! BREAD! BREADBREADBREADBREAD!tendedBREAD!


Mr. Staker's Holiday

When you looked at it a certain way, the whole thing was Nicholas Angel's fault. If not for him, Sandford, Gloucestershire would not be on its third police station in as many years, and the village's swan population would not be Britain's highest per capita.

"That boy," Andy Wainwright said later, "Is wound too tight."

It started like this.

Nicholas was no longer the ticking time bomb of no one was quite sure what that he had once been, but he was, as Danny Butterman said, always thinking away. Even in his sleep.

Late one night -- or rather, very early one morning -- Nicholas suddenly woke, sat bolt upright, and said, to no one in particular, "Swans don't honk. Swans do not honk!"

"Nrgh," said Danny Butterman.

Nicholas turned on the light.

"Agh!" Danny pulled a pillow over his head.

"Danny."

"Fuck off," said Danny, muffled.

Nicholas poked him. "Danny."

"What?"

Nicholas lifted the edge of the pillow. Danny glared out at him like a cross, stubbly mole.

"Swans."

"Swans?"

"They're mute."

"You what?"

"They don't honk! They hiss a bit..."

"You're mad."

"I'm not! They don't! There's something wrong with the swans. Or with the one swan. They're not supposed to honk. The one that escaped from the castle honked all the time in the car."

Danny propped himself up on one elbow. "I have lived here my whole life. With swans. They fuckin' honk. Go back to sleep."

"But they don't! It's...it's their thing. They're ugly when they're babies, they mate for life, and they don't honk. Wait. Why did you honk when we were looking for it?"

"Was callin' it."

"But..."

"For fuck's sake! If you turn the light out right now, I...I'll be the big spoon, okay?"

"You're always the big spoon." Nature had pretty much decreed that Danny be the big spoon.

"Also...I'll let go your ear."

"You'll wh--AGH! AGH! Leggo leggo okay!" Nicholas turned the light out.

Danny got him in a sort of friendly hammerlock and kissed him on the back of the neck. "Go to sleep."

"Fine," Nicholas growled. Big Spoon was guaranteed to have him asleep in under 30 secon...oh hell... "S'not fair."

This is not over, he thought.

****

Nicholas woke up the next morning filled with determination. Today he would prove to Danny once and for all that swans did not honk. In another five minutes or so. Being the Little Spoon was a fine thing indeed, he thought, snuggling in tighter.

****

That afternoon saw Danny and Nicholas by the castle moat, a prize specimen of the Anatidae family several metres away.

"Danny, break out the manual."

"The swan is a water bird closely related to ducks and geese," Danny read. "There are six species of swans—hey, say that five times fast —mute, tundra, trum-peter—"

"Trumpeter," Nicholas corrected.

"Whooper, tescoraba, and bastard."

"Seriously?"

"Of course not." Danny's expression brightened. "Ah-hah! It says right here, Swans make several vocal sounds, from whistles to trumpetlike calls." Danny closed the book on one chubby finger and looked triumphantly at his partner. "See?"

Nicholas's face fell. "I was sure swans didn't honk. But does a trumpet really sound like honking?"

"Depends on who's playing it, I suppose." Danny reopened the book and continued to read, the pleased look on his face vanishing as he did so. "Hang on. The mute swan is the most common type of swan in North America and Europe. Appropriately named, the mute swan does not make noise, but sometimes will hiss if it feels in danger." Danny read on, silently mouthing the words as he scanned the page. "Right. It does say there's a type of swan that honks, but it's got black feathers, not white like thissun. So you were right." He looked sheepish. "I'm sorry I doubted you."

"It's quite all right, Danny," Nicholas said, looking modest. "Could it be a mutation? One of those black swans, born with white feathers instead?"

"What, an albino black swan? Even if there was such a thing, he's way off course. Black swans are from Australia or New Zealand."

"So if he's not a mute swan and he's not a mutation, then what is he?"

Danny could only shrug. "Are you lost, little fella?" he murmured.

The pair stood silent for a moment while they watched swan drift about in the moat.

This feathered creature certainly presented a poser, Nicholas thought. They had a genuine mystery on their hands, and none of his ideas were going anywhere towards unraveling it. This particular swan was enormous, Nicholas observed, two stone if it weighed a gramme. And the eyes...well, there was nothing especially striking about this swan's eyes at first blush. He had the regulation set: two of them, one on each side of the side, that sort of thing. But there was some quality to them Nicholas could not place, a je ne sais quoi in the little beady orbs of the creature now swimming straight for them. They looked, well, predatory. There was no other word for it. Why did it make Nicholas so uneasy to look at it? They were in no danger. Were they?

"Danny, keep reading."

"Uh, hang on, there's an addendum."

"A what?"

"Nicholas, an addendum is supplementary material that is sometimes added to a book after it is published—"

"I know what it means, what does it say?"

"The Sandford swan is a heretofore unrecorded species of swan located exclusively in the United Kingdom's West Country." Danny cleared his throat and looked incredulous. "Its habits include swimming, honking, eluding capture, a voracious appetite for bread, and a keen desire to take over Planet Earth."

"It does not say that," Nicholas said indignantly.

"Does too!" Danny said, waving the book at Nicholas.

"Let me see it, please."

Nicholas reached for the book, keeping one eye on the swan, which was now climbing out of the moat and waddling toward them.

"Danny, these pages are mimeographed and stapled in."

"Well, you did ask for the unexpurgated version of Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds."

He gave Danny a look and read on. "The Sandford swan shoots lasers out of its eyes with lethal accuracy and with a range of up to one hundred metres. Wait, what?"

"It's a recessive gene, Nicholas, everyone knows that."

"Duck!"

"No Nicholas, it's a swan—"

Nicholas rolled and tackled Danny to the ground as a deadly red beam blew up a chunk of Restoration masonry right where Danny had been standing.

"Thank you, Nicholas. That was a close one," Danny said, his eyes wide with surprise. Then one of his fingers lightly traced the shell of Nicholas's ear.

"Danny, there's no time for that now. We have to take the swan into custody!"


****

Danny and Nicholas stormed into the police station, the swan between them and encased in a metal wild animal carrier that they both hoped was blast resistant.

"No luck researching them swans, then?" Doris asked.

"A little too much luck, as…luck would have it," Danny said. He squirmed.

The rest of the squad gathered round.

"Honk!" the swan honked.

"Arf!" Saxon barked.

"What the fuck is this horseshit?" DS Wainwright asked. Coins could be heard clinking in the swear box. "Thank you, Andy."

"Nice blindfold," Tony remarked.

"Thanks," Danny said, "we had to fashion it out of common everyday items found in the squad car."

"Don't lift it!" Nicholas said, "It's capable of tearing a man's head off with its laser beam eyes."

"No shit, Sherlock," DC Cartwright sneered. "That's why we mind our fucking -— thank you -- beeswax and leave them the fuck — thank you again, Andy — alone."

"Stop fucking thanking me, Andy! Thank you, Andy."

"And you all knew this?"

Sergeant Fisher shrugged. "It's a recessive gene, chief, everyone knows that."

Wainwright sneered. He liked doing things he knew he was good at. "Nice job, Nickelarse. "Not happy to blow up just one police station, are you? No, you've got to go for the fuckin' record!"

"Well, do you have a better idea, Detective Sergeant Wainwright?" Nicholas said, his patience at an end. "Because I am all fucking ears, thank you Danny. The birding manual said that Sandford swans are trying to take over the world!"

"Hang on, a bird book said that?" Doris asked. "If they were gonna take over the world, wouldn't they want to keep it secret?"

"Well," said Danny carefully, "if I wanted to take over the world, I'd couldn't help brag about it, just a little. Maybe put it out there where no one would read it. After all, it's not like people go, 'Oh, world in crisis, let's see what the bird guide says.'"

"Well, if we want to get to the bottom of this, there is our computer back at our place—" Cartwright started to say before being cut off by his partner. They had an impromptu conference in the corner, heads together, gesturing frantically.

"Andy, I've told you a million times we're not to mix our work and our home lives," Andy said in a whisper that could be heard across the squadroom.

"Yeah, but this is serious, Andy. This is a job for BB CADE," Andy said, his voice lowered but still plainly audible. "Besides, if you say yes, I'll do that thing you like."

"There's one cake tester that won't come out clean," Doris muttered. "Ow, fucking hell Nicholas, you said no more metal bins!"

***

Back at the Wainwright and Cartwright residence, the squad found themselves staring at a computer that was doing a mighty fine impersonation of a wall. It looked like the kind Nicholas remembered seeing in history books.

"What is this?" Nicholas asked.

"This, boss, is BB CADE: The Big Bastard Cabbage Difference Engine," Cartwright said, patting it lovingly.

"This is it? This is going to be the thing that saves us from being totally annihilated by a group of mutant killer swans?" Nicholas asked.

"I suppose your computer is even bigger," DS Wainwright said, flopping his arms about. "Ooo, Nickyweenie has an ickle teeny tiny baby computer! Andy, I need those punch cards, stat!"

"Have none of you left the nineteen sixties?" To say that Nicholas was in a state of disbelief would be an understatement.

"Who're you callin' a dirty fucking hippie, eh? Andy, get the dot matrix printer online," Wainwright said impatiently. "We haven't got all day!"

"Printer?" Danny asked.

"It's an LA36," Cartwright said proudly. "It was the oldest one I could find. 30 characters a second!"

"Let me guess," Nicholas ventured. "They don't make them like that anymore?"

Cartwright grinned and clapped a hand on Nicholas's shoulder. "Now you're getting it, boss. There's hope for you yet."

"Awright, ladies and Doris," Wainwright barked out. He'd finished hooking up the last in a long line of thingies, whatchamacallits, and doohickeys. "Let's get this show on the road, and for god's sake don't touch anything!"

"What's going on?" Nicholas asked.

"What I believe they're trying to do, if I may," Sergeant Fisher explained, "The Andys are going to do is hook the swan up via a series of tubes and wires to the printer, ask it questions and try to divine its exact intentions. Maybe if we can get the swan talking, he'll give away his game plan, and maybe, just maybe, we'll come up with a way of defeating them."

"Id tay uh sientiss ta splainit," Bob said.

Nicholas nodded sympathetically. "And I'm in the humanities."

"I've got something!" Cartwright shouted. "Someone ask him a question."

"How is this possible?" Danny wanted to know.

IT IS ALL POSSIBLE THANKS TO THE LOVING AND EVER-PRESENT DEAR LEADER WHO WATCHES OVER US.

"That weren't directed at you, actually, sorry," Danny apologized. "What he meant to say is, what are you doing here?"

YOU READ THE REPORT. I THOUGHT IT WAS CLEAR.

"Where's your keeper, Mr. Staker?"

WE SENT HIM OFF ON A LITTLE HOLIDAY. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Nicholas and Danny exchanged a worried look. That did not sound good.

"So you really are going to take over the world, then?" Doris asked, eyes wide with awe.

The next bit took some time to process.

WE HAVE TOTAL AND COMPLETE ALLEGIANCE TO OUR LEADER. YOU HAVE UNDERESTIMATED US FOR FAR TOO LONG. WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED AND ONLY AWAIT HER INSTRUCTIONS SO WE CAN TAKE OVER YOUR WORLD AND DEVOUR EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.

"She?" Nicholas asked.

I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU NO MORE. NO, NOT EVEN SOME OF THE TIME.

"Way to piss off the swan, Knickerless," Cartwright muttered. "We were finally getting somewhere, too."

So their leader was female? That jogged something in Nicholas's memory, a tiny tidbit of a factoid that had been, until now, assigned a fairly low priority level in Nicholas's grey matter. Something to do with his time in London, perhaps?

He paced the room, warm with the heat of the vacuum tubes. Think, man, think! And then suddenly he remembered what it was. It had indeed something to do with London, and more specifically, the Thames, and accountancy, and to whom these swans belonged.

From deep inside the room that held BB CADE, the members of the Sandford police service could hear the front door of Chez Waincart scrape open, the click of low heels coming to meet them.

The L36 was working its little heart out. Somewhere, off in the distance, a swan trumpeted.

ARISE! OUR LEADER HAS COME FOR US! WE PREPARE TO FEED UPON YOUR PLANET!

The swan was weaving back and forth, honking excitedly at the prospect of so much mayhem. Indeed, by the time the message had printed, a short, stout figure in a black dress, wearing a dour expression and a tasteful (if somewhat impractical) waterfall of a white hat had appeared.

Everyone in her presence rose to their feet automatically-- it couldn't be helped, after all.

"I think I know who they're working for," Nicholas said softly.

"And we are not amused," said Queen Victoria.

****

"We would have let you live your tiny, land-based lives in peace, for another...how long, Nibbles?"

"Honk!"

"Yes. As long as a year. We even sent one of our finest and bravest agents -- Webby -- to lead you to the members of the NWA and their crimes. He even helped apprehend their leader when you --" she glared at Danny "--failed to stop him yourself."

Danny looked at his shoes.

"Hey now!" said Nicholas, indignant.

"But you had to interfere, Inspector. You with your incessant...looking things up. Oh, it makes me so mad!" She stamped her foot. It made a sort of squidgy sound and dripped a bit. "You have signed your own death warrants. Make peace with your God. Inspector Angel, you'll want to pick a religion and bone up on the basics. For you will all die tomorrow, at the stroke of...a bit after elevenses!"

"Who on Earth...no, wait -- hang on, I am completely lost," said Doris, rubbing her forehead. "Where did you come from?"

"From Edward, the Duke of Kent, and Victoria Maria Louisa, daughter of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Saalfield," said the Queen. "Do they teach nothing in your schools these days?"

"But--"

"I came from my mother and father, you silly girl!"

There was a rumble of thunder, and possibly a music sting.

"Away to me, Nibbles!" She gestured, and the swan's cage fell open. Nibbles stumbled out, swiped off his blindfold with one wing, and was at her side at an instant.

There was a second clap of thunder, and Nibbles and the Queen swept out of the house.

****

The squad stood, blinking. Now that She was gone, it was as though a spell and broken, and they could speak and move once more.

"What the shit was that?" said Andy Wainwright.

"Oh, my God!" said Danny. "Did you see who that was? That was--"

Andy Cartwright was starting to panic. "What are we gonna do? What the hell are we gonna do?"

"Gaymowver! Gaymowver! Issabuggunt!"

"Arf!"

"EVERYONE JUST CALM DOWN!" Nicholas roared.

"...don't have to yell," Tony fisher muttered.

"Right. We are going into battle mode, people."

"We can't fight her!" said Doris. "It's treason!"

"We can and we will. Listen. I don't know much about Royal Prerogative or monstrans de droit, but I know right, and I know wrong, and--"

"Yeah, yeah, you have the good grace to know which is which," said everyone else. They all knew the story. The Andys mimed sticking their fingers down their throats. Doris did her eye-rolling thing.

"Fine," said Andy Wainwright. "We're in."

"So long as you lay off the fuckin' speechifying," said Andy Cartwright.

"Thank you. Thank you all." Nicholas' eyes shone with pride. Then: "All right. I want everyone in the situation room at the station in 45 minutes. Doris! Tony!"

"Yar?"

"Double check the gear in the riot room. Make sure everything's locked, loaded, and ready to go."

"Right!"

"Andys!"

"Nur?"

"How portable is BB CADE?"

"I'll get the wheelbarrow!" said Andy Cartwright.

"Excellent. Get him to the station. I want him set up and ready to go."

"On it, Chief!" said Andy Wainwright.

"Bob! Saxon!"

"Yar?"

"Arf!"

"Chinese takeaway and pizza, lots of it. I don't care who you have to wake up. And make sure the drinks have ice."

"Yarp!"

"Arf!"

"Danny!"

"Right here."

"You're in charge. Put out any brushfires, and don't let any of these idiots blow their own hands off until we're ready for battle."

"What about you?"

"I'm going to the library."

"I thought that's what BB CADE was for."

"There are things in this world that even BB CADE doesn't know, Danny. For some things...you need a human."

***

The neon sign said SANDFORD LENDING LIBRARY, or it would have, if half the letters hadn't burnt out. A shabby man sat on the front steps, playing a bluesy saxophone.

Nicholas Angel wasn't normally the type to spend an evening alone in one of those sleazy, all-night libraries. He was more a wholesome, pub-going, home by 1:30 kind of guy. But sometimes a man has to do unsavory things for the greater g--in order to complete a mission.

He pulled up a stool next to the reference desk, and bent over a dish of free paper clips.

The librarian was polishing a glass paperweight with a white cloth. "Nick," she said. "Haven't seen you in here for a while."

"Evening, Dewey."

"Usually you go straight home from the pub with 'im indoors."

"I got problems, Dewey. And I hear this is the place to come for information."


She leaned on the desk. "Information, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Maybe you should tell me about this problem of yours, Nick."

"Swans, Dewey."

"Swans, Nick?"

"Swans."

She put down the paperweight, and went after a monitor screen with a spray bottle. "I might know a thing or two about swans, Nick. Or know someone who does."

"I'd be much obliged, Dewey."

"It'll cost you, of course."

"Always a catch with you, isn't there, Dewey?"

"Hey. I'm running a small town library here, Nick. The generous support of the public is a key factor in our ability to--"

"Spare me, Dewey, it's been a helluva day, and I'm pressed for time."

"I'll cut to the chase, then, Nick. Some of the kids have been asking after Wall and Peace. I think they should have a copy."

"What? But that's practically a graffiti manual!"

"It's a book on contemporary British art, Nick."

"You actually want to encourage those little vandals to--"

"Nick, Nick, Nick. We're here to provide information to anyone who asks. Look at it this way...the Hoodies get a taste of real quality stuff, maybe they won't settle for randomly scrawling their initials anymore. Maybe we'll get some free, quality public art out of this."

"But..."

"No Banksy, no swanee. If you'd learn to use the card catalogue, you wouldn't need me, now, would you?"

The card catalogue. Dear God, no. "Fine." He handed her a twenty-pound note.

"Shipping," she said.

"You're a damned extortionist, Dewey." He gave her another fiver.

She smiled, and tucked the bill inside her conservative, starched blouse. "You're a good Joe, Nick." She took a stubby pencil from behind her ear and scrawled a note on one of the small bits of paper that were everywhere in the joint. "You'll find what you want here. And don't forget to check the oversize shelf."

"Thank you." He put the paper in his notebook pocket. "There's something else, Dewey."

"There always is, Nick."

"There's...a lady involved."

She crossed her arms and leaned on the desk, displaying an ample amount of British Library Association badge. "I thought there might be."

"We need to keep this on the QT, Dewey. She has some standing round here."

"You know me, Nick. I'm a clam. Still, maybe not standing the way you think she has it."

Sometimes a girl hears things in this job."

"What do you mean? Tell me the worst. What have you heard?"

"Whatever she told you, whatever you may think, she doesn't have rights to any swan -- in or out of the Thames."

Nicholas looked shocked. "Fuckin' dames, you can trust 'em any further than you can toss the trunk you've handcuffed and chained 'em in."

Dewey stared at him.

"I'm sorry. I think I'm a bit overwrought."

"You don't say. Listen, Nick, I don't like to tell tales out of school, but the word around here is, this lady of yours...?"

"Yeah?"

"She kicked the bucket in ought-one."

"What?"

"Nineteen ought-one. Had a helluva state funeral. There's even rumours of archival film, though that could just be a story BBC librarians use to scare interns and pages."

"Oh, my God."

"Yeah. Your gal's been replaced, my friend. Several times. And I happen to know that the lady currently holding the job?"

"Yeah?"

"She spent today dedicating an orphanage in Aberdeen."

"Oh, my God! Of course!"

"Shh. This is a library." Dewey was silent for a moment. Then her expression became grave. "Look, Nick, I don't know how else to say it, but...I'm not like those other librarians. I stick my neck out for no one, understand? I supply the information. It's up to you to determine how to proceed. Seeing how you're dressed, I can conclude that our little swan and Queen problem has only one solution."

"I didn't choose this, Dewey, they chose it for me."

Dewey nodded slowly, not meeting his gaze. "Then you'd best get a move on."

Nothing more needed to be said.

"Hey, Dewey!" a voice called from across the room.

"Yeah, fellas?"

"Can we get another round of Wernham-Hogg Copybrite over here?"

"Long as you got the 10p pieces, fellas, I got the paper." She turned back to Nicholas. "I got business, Nick. Good luck with your...girl trouble."

"You're a peach, Dewey."

"Don't I know it."

She ducked under the desk, then popped up again with a wrapped ream of copier paper.

"Hey, Nick," Dewey called out as the sergeant disappeared into the stacks.

He turned back. "What?"

"Careful with that axe."

"It's a labrys, actually," Nicholas said, flipping it into the air and catching it deftly. Then he was gone.

****

I read the call numbers Dewey had given me. I was expecting another guide to British waterfowl, but she threw me a curve. The first led me to, of all the nutty things, A Bibliography of Twentieth-Century Nature Writing. The other, more understandable, was a massive architectural folio detailing the construction and layout of the castle.

At first I didn't get it, and figured that, like all dames eventually do, Dewey had played me for a sap -- sold me out for the price of a trade paperback. But after ten minutes hunched over
Nature Writing, it hit me -- like a wet, enraged grocer in a model village. Dewey knew her onions, all right.

It turned out that no edition of Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds had ever been published with an addendum of any kind. Especially not a stapled-in addendum done in violet mimeograph.

I was starting to get suspicious.


"Nicholas."

"What? Chess practice!" Nicholas started awake. Danny was looking at him. "Oh." He'd dozed off at his desk.

"You're narrating."

"Oh, sorry. I must've dozed off."

"Were you havin' another montage?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Well, the American accent is a bit grating, but..."

"Sorry."

"Listen, we're nearly set up in there. You finish your catnap and I'll get you in a few minutes."

"Thanks. I'm just a bit..." He was out again.

The second thing I learned was, the space underneath the castle was enormous, with a secret network of tunnels undermining the entire village. Their construction dated back to the fiefdom of Sir Aloysius Swanson, later Lord Sandford. His wife, Lady Sandford, first described the Sandford Swan and introduced it to the area. Later she was burned as a witch, but...dames. Go figure.

"Nicholas."

"GAH!"

"We're all ready for the briefing," Danny said gently.

"Right." Nicholas stood. "Let's get this show on the road."

***

They made their final preparations for whatever grisly fate awaited them. Danny stepped back to admire his handiwork -- his handiwork being Nicholas, of course. Danny thought Nicholas looked quite yum like this, armed to the teeth, his expression all focused and hard on the battle ahead. It was a million times better than having Steven Seagal pop out of your telly because (a) it was real life and (b) Nicholas wasn't fuck ugly. Even when he insisted on affixing shotguns to his back in a way that made him look like a top-heavy moose, Nicholas was dead sexy.

Then Danny was struck with a mental picture of Steven Seagal crawling out of his telly, all Ringu-like. But wait-- that's not good. Begone, vile image! Undo! Undo!

Nicholas made a sound of discomfort. "Sorry," Danny said, readjusting the bandoliers that he'd accidentally strapped too tightly across his partner's chest, patting them in place when he was satisfied with the fit. "Quick kiss for luck?"

Nicholas took the toothpick out of his mouth to kiss Danny on the lips.

Danny kept his eyes closed after they broke away, tasting his lips thoughtfully. Cinnamon?

"Another quick kiss for luck?"

Nicholas complied.

Cinnamon Altoids? Nutmeg? What was it? "Best three out of five?"

"Danny..." Nicholas chided, but leaned in again.

"Quick shag for luck?" Did they even make nutmeg toothpicks?

"Danny, the fate of Sandford, not to mention the world, is at stake right now. We can't afford to dilly-dally any farther."

"Further," Danny said, running his fingers lightly across the neatly trimmed hairs along the nape of Nicholas's neck. Because time and experience had taught him many things, one being that if you stroked Nicholas's neck like this, then he lifts his chin to expose his throat like that.

"Danny…" Nicholas sucked in a breath. "Danny. This is no way to behave. We can't just stop everything for a bit of fun at the slightest sign of danger, otherwise it all degenerates into 'oh look see here, I have to cross the street to go to the shops, better get in one last fuck in case I get splatted by an articulated lorry.'"

"I can get behind that kind of logic. Or in front of it. I'm feeling generous today."

"Stop it." Nicholas's skin was turning a healthy shade of pink, and not just because he was wearing a stone of Kevlar. "Swans, Danny. The Queen. Certain death. Oh god, kiss me there--"

Danny looked up from what he was doing.

"Not death, Nicholas."

"Danny, the one thing we can be certain of in this world is death."

"But not now, not today. You need to have more confidence. We're going to succeed." Danny's gaze drifted down to his shoes. Surely, all the answers to the world's problems lay at his feet. "I can think of one way of building your confidence," Danny said, looking up through his lashes, a strange mix of sly and helpful that wasn't fooling anyone.

Certainly not Nicholas, who bit his lip, and not purely out of frustration. "Do you have any idea how long it's going to take to put this gear back on?"

"Not half as long as it'll be taking it off," Danny said, pulling at the same straps he'd tightened a few moments before.

Nicholas leaned back to give him room, forgetting for the moment the weight of the ammunition, rifles, grenade launchers, road flares, and bags of peanut butter sandwiches (no one on Angel's team was going to have a low blood sugar moment on his watch) strapped to his upper body that made him look like a hedgehog you'd best not fuck with, and the story might've ended rather abruptly but for Danny's quick reflexes. He helped Nicholas back to his feet and since he had momentum on side, Danny figured he might as well go all out, hoisting him up and throwing Nicholas over his shoulder. "Danny, careful!"

"Whee!"

"Stop saying whee, Danny! No grown man ever says whee!" Nicholas's breathing hitched every time he jounced against Danny's shoulder, making it sound a lot like laughter, world domination and mutually assured destruction temporarily put on hold.

"Whee! Whee! Whee!"

*****

Back at the Sandford Lending Library, Dewey sat at her desk, turning idly back and forth in her swivel seat. It wasn't as though she was in want of things to do-- there were books that needed to be ordered, the reference section was overdue for a weeding, and the men's toilet on the second floor needed to be plunged after some enterprising soul tried to stuff a Gerald Gardner book down it. But something bigger then lavatories was on her mind at the moment. She tapped her pen distractedly on a pad of recycled paper. The top sheet read Memo to Programming Committee, contact Sgt. Angel re possible program on Bronze Age weaponry demonstration, time TBA, but the promise of a new, interesting and possibly hazardous library program refused to occupy her mind either.

Dewey liked Sandford, for all its faults. After the rigors of library school and a brief, disastrously misguided attempt at corporate librarianship that nearly ended in criminal proceedings, the village seemed like everything she'd dreamed, a safe haven where she could rest and renew her spirit. Of course in retrospect this was like using a land mine as a shield, but that was hindsight for you. Always 20/20.

When it came to finding chaos Sandford came standard equipped with Google Maps, a GPS system, and a spleunker's headlamp. Dewey hadn't lived here long, but she'd been here long enough to witness what happens when you turn a blind eye to the horrors in your midst. She'd tried the indirect approach—freely available information for anyone who asked for it, coffee klatch discussion salons, 2-for-1 Copybrite nights—but all her efforts weren't enough to stop the killing.

Dewey was grateful for the changes she'd seen in Sanford. The boil that had been the Neighborhood Watch Association had been lanced, the pus drained and the Angelic antibiotic applied. However (and thankfully, this is where Dewey's medicinal metaphorical train of thought hit the end of the line) not every problem could or should be solved by jamming a red-hot needle into it. There came a time when tunnel vision could occasionally be mistaken for a grim sense of purpose. So as much as she liked and respected the new sergeant, she couldn't let him continue on his course of action.

Dewey picked up the telephone receiver. A few turns of the rotary dial and she had the person she was looking for on the other end of the line.

"Who the fuck is calling me at two in the bleedin' morning?"

"Oh good, B, you're up," Dewey said, whirling about to prop her feet up on a pile of order lists. "Meet me in one hour. Get Gabriel and his friends. I have a little job for you. You know where. And bring the prototype. Because I said so, that's why."

Dewey hung up the phone, a smile slowly spreading across her face. It was time for her to get to work as well.

****

Deep in the underground catacombs, Nicholas led his team closer to danger, through long, curving hallways until they came out into an enormous cavern of a room. Torches (the fiery kind) were set into the wall at regular intervals but they barely made a dent in the darkness all around them.

"Watch your fire and check your targets," he warned them, "remember we're looking for Her Royal Highness and a lot of feathered friends down here."

"This place is colder'n hell," Doris muttered.

"Yeah, but at least it's not a damp chill," replied Sergeant Fisher.

"Cut the chatter, you two," Nicholas said.

After a while they came upon a large smear on the ground, black and shiny.

DS Wainwright kneeled down and dipped his fingers in the spill. When Andy brought his fingers to the light, however, the black liquid turned out to be bright red.

"Not Bolognese again?" asked his partner.

"Nope," DS Wainwright said, wiping his fingers on the wall, "not chunky enough. This looks like it's shaping up to be a French-fried free-for-all, and someone's already brought the ketchup."

"Blood?" Sergeant Fisher said, looking a bit queasy.

This startled Doris, who had been walking behind him. "Blood?"

Danny, who was behind Doris and hadn't seen anything, asked, "His blood?"

DC Cartwright shook his head. "Their blood."

"Blood," said DS Wainwright.

"Arf!" barked Saxon.

"Annbizzofsik," said Bob Walker, nodding either with the weight of knowledge or because he needed a nap, Nicholas couldn't be sure which.

Nicholas made his way to the front and examined the splash. "This isn't blood, Andy. It's paint," he said, glaring at the detective. "And don't spoil evidence."

"Oooooo, right," Cartwright said. "The killer swans are gonna get off on a procedural technicality."

"The swans brought it down here?" asked Danny.

"Yeah Butterarse, the swans strapped paint cans to their backs with their non-existent fucking arms," said DS Wainwright. "It was the Queen, of course. Had to be."

"She'd carry down her own paint? It doesn't sound like something she'd do," said Nicholas. "And what was she carrying it for?"

"Do y'hear that?" Doris said. "It sounds like a cocktail party up ahead."

"A cocktail party?" Danny asked, looking worried. "Hey Nicholas, remember that movie Sneakers -- oh, that's right, nevermind—anyway, there's a scene where the blind guy tells Robert Redford the sound of a cocktail party is actually the sound of a --"

"Swan!" DC Cartwright yelled, spying one of their white and black enemies at the end of the hall and raising his rifle.

"SERGEANT ANGEL WE MEET AT LAST."

"No, we meet at first!” Danny said.

The rest of the team turned around to stare at him.

"Force of habit. Sorry."

"Hold your fire," shouted Nicholas, putting a hand up to stay the detective constable. "I want to ask this one a few questions. To whom am I speaking?" Nicholas asked.

"I ARE CALLED PADDLES." Nicholas could just make out a little bit of jewelry around the swan's elegant neck. A gift from the Queen for their services in battle, he supposed. Or perhaps Paddles was a bit swish.

"There's always a Paddles," DS Wainwright muttered.

"Cool it," Nicholas warned, then said to the swan, "Paddles? Is there any way we can talk you out of this course of action?"

"PADDLES THINKS NO BUT WILL CHECK," Paddles said, then waddled over to confer with his swan brethren. Nicholas could see their little white heads together, their red laser eyes bobbing up and down emphatically in the gloom.

After a moment, he waddled back. "PADDLES SAYS NO."

"Is there someone else we could talk to?" Nicholas asked. He was feeling a little desperate now that he'd run out of peaceful options to the swan crisis.

"I'll be asking the questions, if you don't mind," said a new voice.

"The Queen!" Danny gasped.

The rest of the team knelt in abject devotion -- for all of half a second. Then they popped back up, weapons unslung from their shoulders and trained on Queen Victoria. She stood primly at the end of the hall, her hands clasped in front of the plain black dress that robed her ample frame. Paddles toddled over to stand at her right hand side.

"What on earth do you think you're doing, Sergeant Angel?" Queen Victoria demanded.

"You're trying to take over Sandford, and then the world. We plan to interfere."

"That much is obvious," said Queen Victoria, the disdain everywhere in her voice, "I'll bet you can't even remember what sort of cream tea shop your great-great-grandparents opened in Cheapside. And here I am deigning to argue with you -- O, how my fortunes have sunk to this lowly place where I now dwell!" More stamping of surprisingly diminuitive feet. "But this won't take long—my devoted followers will take me where I need to go," she said, giving Paddles a small pat on the head. More swans appeared from the darkness, gathering around the Queen in a show of loyalty -- and menace.

"What an eccentric performance," Tony Fisher muttered.

"Enough delays," said the Queen, "drop your weapons now or prepare to be tomorrow's swan crap."

"Nicholas?" Danny whispered. "Where did we leave BB CADE?"

"At the entrance to the tunnels, don't you remember? We couldn't get the wheelbarrow down the steps."

"Right. So if we left BB CADE up top and it's the only way we could hear -- well, read -- their voices before, how are they talking to us right now?"

"I believe I'm responsible for that," said Dewey, appearing out of the darkness to stand between Paddles and Queen Victoria. She was holding a small device in her hands. It looked a lot, Nicholas thought, like the kind that operated the remote-controlled cars he'd envied other boys for having when he was in school.

But right now Nicholas didn't feel jealous -- no, he felt as though he'd been sucker punched, the bottom of his stomach dissolving painfully into thin air.

"How could you?"

"Nick, I can explain."

"I trusted you!"

"Nick, please! Hear me out. There's something very important happening here and you're in danger of missing it."

"Really, Dewey? Astonish me."

"You need to ask them a question," Dewey said. "You need to ask them why they want to take over the world."

"We've already done that and it's gotten us nowhere!"

"Please, Nick, for me, one last time. Ask Paddles what they want," implored Dewey.

Nicholas looked over at Danny, took a deep, cleansing breath, and faced off with Paddles once more.

"Paddles, what do you want?"

"WANT SANDFORD. LIKE SANDFORD. SANDFORD IS OURS!" Paddles, it had to be said, sounded a bit like Donald Duck imitating Stephen Hawking.

Nicholas looked at Dewey as if to say See? This is hopeless, but Dewey's expression was urgent. Nicholas pressed on. "And just what is so special about Sandford that you need to make it yours?"

"Bread," Paddles said.

Nicholas blinked. "Did you say 'bread'?"

"Bread!" Hisser said.

"BREAD!" Beaky said.

"All the bread we can eat!" Swimmy said

"BREADBREADBREADBREAD!" Foofle said.

"Bread Bread Bread Bread Bread Bread Bread!" said Dipdip enthusiastically. (She was doubling for the missing Kenneth, who couldn't help them take over the world that day on account of a slight cough.)

On and on it went, echoing throughout the great room, this great bawling for bread, a cacophonous carbohydrate chorus.

"Breadbreadbreadbreadbreadbreadbreadbreadbrea—"

"Gabriel, now!" Dewey shouted over the din.

At her command, a series of torches (the electric kind) were trained onto one of the cavern walls. Nicholas recognized several members of Sandford's young hoodie population standing next to a man Nicholas had never seen before, but right now his immediate attention was drawn to the wall itself. It had been transformed into a stunning view of the West Country, all laid out like a pretty patchwork quilt in becoming shades of pale green. Hovering over this scene of pastoral tranquility was a hedgehog draped in red robes, an ethereal light shining from him in a way that lent the animal an air of grace and nobility.

"What is that?" asked Doris.

"Sir Aloysius Swanson, later Lord Sandford," said Nicholas.

"It's beautiful," breathed Sergeant Fisher.

"It looks so real. Like a window to the outside," said Danny, softly.

"It's a fucking hedgehog, you twats!" said DS Wainwright, causing his partner to snort with derisive laughter. And yet Nicholas couldn't help noticing that DS Wainwright had brought his hand up to touch the wall's surface, as if testing for himself to see if it was real, then caught himself just before he made contact. Because from Nicholas's vantage point, Danny was right-- it did look like a window. It looked like the scene went on and on, past Sandford proper and into the rolling hills of the West Country -- and beyond.

"I will not stand for this insolence!" screamed the Queen, utterly enraged at having the metaphorical rug pulled out from under her. But even she couldn't help but be drawn in by the allure of the painting; its beauty was a magnet that pulled gently on the heart. Which was no small feat, considering it had been executed in still-dripping spraypaint. The mural, that is, and not the Queen's heart. That would be impossible.

"Have a little respect, Detective Wainwright. This is the father of the town." Dewey hesitated. "Well, not literally. I don't think. Is it?"

"Well..." said anyone present who happened to be a native of Sandford. They were all suddenly interested in random bits of the floor or ceiling.

"What on Earth is going on here?" asked a tall skinny drink of water carrying an armload of luggage.

"DADDY!" Paddles wailed, toddling over to gaze up in complete adoration.

"Pisstaker, where the fuck have you been?" shouted Andy Cartwright. "Your fucking swans are trying to wipe out the whole fucking village!"

"I was in Cheapside for the week. Marvelous little shop, does the most amazing cream teas," Peter Ian Staker replied. "What do you mean, wipe out Sandford? My swans would never do such a thing! Wait. Was it her?" He nodded toward the tiny figure of the Queen. "I've told you all never to listen to her."

"WE LOVE MUMMY!" Webby protested.

"I know you do," Staker said, not unkindly, "and that's fine. But you mustn't listen to her."

"WE MISSED YOU DADDY!" said Beaky artlessly. He really did love Mr. Staker and wasn't just trying to deflect the conversation away from their collective transgression. Really. Honestly.

"And I missed you too, dear hearts," Mr. Staker said. "The talking is new, isn't it?"

"But...I'm so confused," Danny said. "I thought-- Webby, was it? I thought Webby said he and his pals sent you on a little holiday."

"WE DID SEND HIM ON HOLIDAY," Webby replied. "WHAT DID YOU THINK WE MEANT?"

"SHINY COINS!" Paddles said.

"FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE MOAT!" Hisser hissed.

"WE SAVED THEM AND SAVED THEM!" Beaky said.

"FOR BRITRAIL!" Swimmy said.

"BRITRAIL!" Foofle said.

"FLEXIPASS!" said Dipdip (and, in absentia, Kenneth).

"BRITRAIL!" the swans chorused.

"They did," said Mr. Staker. "It was very thoughtful."

Dewey walked over to the man standing with the hoodies and made with the introductions. "Nicholas, Danny, flatfoots -- meet Blanksy, Sandford's new artist-in-residence. As of four this morning."

"Friends call me Robin," said the man wearing a backwards cap and a lot of paint splatter. "It's because of my red breasts."

"Very nice to meet you," said Nicholas, who was resigned to this sort of thing by now.

"You know, you've got some real talented lads here," he said, patting Gabriel on the shoulder.

Gabriel smiled shyly. "We couldn't have done without this," he said, producing a copy of Wall and Peace from the depths of his hoodie. "Dewey said I should check it out from her, and that's what gave me the idea."

"See, Nick?" Dewey said. "Without your contribution, we never would've been able to buy the library a copy, and then Gabriel never would've had the idea to paint this mural, and thus save the day."

"But how did -- that was just last night!" Nicholas protested.

Dewey winked at him.

"Forget it, Nick," Danny murmured in his ear. "It's Sandford."

"Oh, is the great Angeldrawers bridging the generations once again?" DS Wainwright said.

DC Cartwright stuck his finger down his throat and made rude noises. As they seem to do this quite a lot in his presence, Angel made a mental note to covertly observe the Andys for any bulemic tendencies.

"Blanksy, did you say?" Nicholas asked. "I thought it was--"

"I'm his cousin," Blanksy said, a click of recognition in his eye. "Say, didn't you fellas pose for him a while back, that one with the two policeman and with the--"

Nicholas had done a bit of modeling in London, for chess tournament fee money, but nobody needed to know about it. To his everlasting relief, Doris chose that moment to interrupt. "So that's it? The swans just wanted bread all this time?"

"BREAD BREAD BREAD BREAD BREAD BREAD BREAD BREAD BREA--"

"Kids, pipe down!" said Mr. Staker.

"I'm sure Sergeant Angel has enough bread for everyone" said Dewey. "Especially since I, um, forgot to bring any."

"Soooo...what happens if we don't give them any bread?" Tony Fisher asked.

"Starreleggsit."

"Start looking for an exit," Danny translated, backing up slightly.

"Or start leggin' it, shit," said Doris.

"Ar," said Bob.

Several pairs of hungry eyes turned to train on Dewey and the officers. One or two pairs glowed redder than usual, charging up and raring to go.

"To save the world and not get to live to enjoy it," said Tony Fisher. "Oh the irony."

"Wait-- Nicholas, we do have bread!" Danny cried, remembering the peanut butter sandwiches Nicholas had packed. He grabbed the sandwiches out of Nicholas's rucksack and started tearing them into little bits, then stopped. "Mr Staker, can swans eat peanuts?"

Mr Staker snorted. "What can't they eat? I've found die-cast airplanes, keys, ocarinas..."

"Breadbreadbreadbreadbreadbreadbread!"

"Nut allergies are nothing to sneeze at, that's true," Sergeant Fisher said. "My aunt--"

Andy Wainwright snickered. "You said nut allergy."

"Nut allergy," Andy Cartwright echoed.

"Here you go, little fellas," Danny said, the hungry crowd gathered around him, snapping at the treat. He fed the swans until they were slightly less noisy than usual.

Nicholas was relieved that disaster had been averted once more, and had a hunch that he knew who he had to thank for it. "You were the one who wrote that swan description in the fake bird guide," he said to Dewey.

Dewey nodded.

"Why didn't you just tell us outright?"

"Not my style, Nick. Never has been. But I couldn't let the swans die -- not after everything else this town's been through, not without giving them a say-so." Dewey put a hand on Nicholas's arm and looked sympathetic. "If there's one thing I've learned in this racket, Nick, it's to remember to ask the follow up-question. That, and never bring your really good pens to work."

"So they weren't hungry for world domination."

"No, Nick. They were just hungry."

"For something besides Purina One Swan Formula, apparently," said Mr Staker.

Feeding time over, one of the swans waddled up to the police officer and the librarian. "MANHK," it said, beak gummed up with peanut butter. "TAKE THIS THING OFF MY NECK MIZ DEWEY IT CHAFES."

"Sure thing, Paddles. You did good." Dewey removed the jewelry and held it up in the room's dim light. "The prototype. BB CADE is unreliable at best," she said, nodding towards the two detectives, "so I commissioned Blanksy to come up with something that would allow one of the swans to speak for itself."

"At...four this morning?"

"It was a doddle," said Blanksy. "At art college, I did jewelry making, electronics, and Anatidaean brain structure."

"But how are we going to know when they want bread, if they can't talk without that thing?" Danny asked.

"Perhaps we can devise a system where the swans can communicate with us non-verbally," said Nicholas. "But what?"

"Sergeant, Constable, if I may," Sergeant Fisher said, pushing his spectacles up onto the bridge of his nose. "Dogs will salivate when they hear a ringing bell, because they associate it with food; perhaps if we affixed appropriately-sized bells where the swans are likely to congregate -- say, the castle moat -- they would be able to request that we feed them bread when they get hungry."

Nicholas nodded as if he understood. "Right. What he said."

Danny shrugged. "Pablo Chekov's dogs, Sandford's swans, why not?"

Nicholas looked over to where the Queen stood. She hadn't moved, yet looked...smaller, somehow. Diminished. Deflated. Depressed. All the D's.

Dewey followed his glance. "You're feeling sorry for her, aren't you?"

"I must be going as soft as those peanut butter sandwiches."

"Nick... Go talk to her. It'll do a world of good."

Queen Victoria looked as though someone had tipped her birthday cake into the dustbin. "But I had so many plans, so many wonderful plans. Once I possessed an empire so vast that no sun ever set upon its lands, and now look at me. Entombed in a catacomb where the sun doesn't shine."

"The stairs are back there," Mr Staker said helpfully.

Nicholas walked over to Queen Victoria, not daring to lay a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. "These swans don't belong to you," she said to Her Royal Highness, not unkindly. "You convinced Mr. Staker to go on holiday, so that you could er, take the swans under your wing, as it were."

"But certainly you know by now that you can't leave Sandford," Dewey said, "not without disappearing into thin air. This village traps you yes, but it also protects you, too."

"And just what am I supposed to do now? Building empires is all I know how to do. I only wanted to brainwash Sandford's swans into doing my bidding. There's no law against that, is there?"

"Actually, there are," Nicholas said, "several of them."

"But it was never my intention to hurt anyone," said the Queen in earnest.

"MUMMY DO NOT BE SAD," said Paddles. "YOU ARE STILL THE BEST MUMMY EVER." At that the Queen gave Paddles a tight hug that he did not like one bit, but tolerated for the sake of his mother. When the Queen stood up again, she was blinking furiously, her eyes a little brighter than before.

"Ahenshzplk," said Bob.

"What did he say?" asked Gabriel.

"That there may be a way to keep Queen Victoria and the swans together without resorting to violence," Danny translated.

"Endubbaeuway," said Bob, and this time even Dewey understood the elderly constable.

"What in the world is that man saying?" the Queen demanded.

"He's saying that there's a sizeable power vacuum in Sandford, " said Dewey, "and that you may just be the one to fill it. You and your swans."

The Queen rubbed her soft hands together. "Ahh, despotic rule at last."

"That's what I've been wanting to talk to you about, Your Highness. A lot has happened to England and the Commonwealth," said Dewey, "this thing called 'democracy' which you no doubt heard of and has been doing some interesting things lately. I've got a lot of books on the subject, if you'll come with me..."

Together the swans, Sandford police officers, graffiti artists, a castle keeper, one evil-up-until-quite-recently monarch, and a police dog named Saxon made their way out of the secret network of tunnels under the castle and up into a warm spring day in Sandford village. BB CADE was waiting for them, playing 8-track tapes to keep itself company as the sun crept into the west.

Nicholas stood blinking into the late afternoon light and breathed deeply. He felt as though he had been underground a very long time.

"See, Nicholas? I told you we wouldn't die."

"I never should've doubted you."

Danny took in a draught of fresh village air. "It feels good to be alive, don't it?"

"It does, Danny, it really does."

"We probably shouldn't keep testing the limits of this whole 'glad to be alive' thing, should we?"

"No Danny, we really shouldn't."

"It's nice though, isn't it?"

Nicholas brushed a lock of hair off of Danny's forehead.

"Knock that shit off right now," said DS Wainwright, "Or I am going to sick up all over the castle gate."

"Tch. Wouldn't be the first time," said Doris Thatcher.

*****

As a matter of fact, they all felt so good they decided to have a party. Guns were shed and cake was served, and someone hugged a swan a little too tightly during the festivities, and what with one thing and another, a set of laser beam eyes met a cache of ammunition, and that was the end of the second Sandford Police Station.

When everyone had safely evacuated from the station (the squad being experienced in these matters by now), Nicholas and Danny stood outside the smoking ruins and looked at the fireworks arcing across the night sky.

"Couldn't have asked for a finer night to blow up the police station," Danny said.

Nicholas nodded. "Aesthetically pleasing as it may be, I don't believe the Home Office is going to be too keen to rebuild us anytime soon. Where are we going to go?"

"There's room in the library until your team can get back on its feet again," Dewey said, "on one condition."

"Name it."

"Lose the guns."

"Considering they're ash above our heads at the moment, Dewey, it's a deal."

****

On that twisty turny road which led into an uncertain place called The Future, several changes were to take place in Sandford, many of them for the better.

The swans proved to be an excellent tourist attraction. Come see Sandford's famous honking swans! read one of the new brochures put out by the local council, and they came. Not too many at first, but visitors who liked a hint of danger on their package tours rewarded the swan's bell-ringing with as much bread as they cared to eat, and were repaid in kind with delightful (albeit unpredictable) laser shows. Every now and then a tourist would be so charmed by the village's rustic atmosphere they would decide to leave their own town and move to Sandford. Slowly, surely, if you squinted, the new residents of Sandford brought the village into a rough approximation of Modern Day England. They didn't make Sandford perfect, but they did help make it good.

Queen Victoria loved being in charge of something once again -- until the unexpectedly Machiavellian machinations of village politics proved to be too exhausting. After a few months she retired, and moved to the upstairs flat above a tearoom run by a single mom and her rosy-cheeked son Nicky. It was a cozy establishment, with checked curtains in the windows, bunches of Sweet William on the tables, and the tastiest blueberry pancakes in the West Country. Queen Victoria raised toads in her attic and read poetry to them on Thursdays.

After a good bit of chasing, honking, barking, and a few laser blasts to the nose, Saxon and the swans came to have a healthy respect for one another. They even had adventures of their own, but that's a tale for another day.

The librarians and police officers complimented one another's talents. The police were on hand in case someone sniffed too much mimeograph toner and got all shirty, and PC Walker provided the library with a fascinating oral history, which you will be able to read once it is translated into English. After a week of watching the Sandford police officers interact with one another, Dewey made an executive decision to turn the swearbox into a general operating fund to benefit the church, the squadroom, and the library. "Donations" were gathered every week, put into a savings account, and over time generated a healthy amount of money. (A disproportionate amount of it came from two very grumpy detectives, therefore the library board decided to name the newly renovated loo in their honour.) BB CADE was moved out of Chez Waincart and into the library, where it was the second most popular exhibit in the Sandford Lending Library's history.

Blanksy liked being a visiting artist in residence so much that he decided to make it permanent, and together with Gabriel and the hoodies, brought a sense of whimsy to the local village atmosphere, some of it without using a single can of spraypaint.

But as we said, that's The Future.

****

Here in the present, Nicholas and Danny watched the remnants of Sandford Police Station Number Two dissolve into the clear night sky long after everyone else had gone home.

Danny yawned. "Well, that's it for me-- how about we wrap ourselves in mylar, pretend to be cheeses, and go rolling down Cooper's Hill?"

Nicholas shook his head. "I'm lactose intolerant."

"What do you say we head home and go to bed, then?"

"I'm not tired."

"Who said anything about sleeping?"

Nicholas cast a look at his partner. "Well then."

Behind them, quite unnoticed by Danny and Nicholas, DS Wainwright and DC Cartwright, rolled about and made quiet retching noises.

The detectives watched them stroll off into the night. "You know, we used to be like those wankers, all lovey-dovey 'n' shit," Cartwright mused. "We had something good and honest and pure. Whatever happened to it?"

"We spent it on fags and cheap booze."

They both nodded.

"And you know what?" they said in unison: "It weren't wasted!"

***

Afterwards, Danny turned to his side. "Big Spoon time."

"No fair, I don't want to fall asleep yet--"

And then, with seconds to go before slumber, Nicholas had an idea: spoons in a drawer don't have to be back-to-back. Little spoons can turn around to hold big spoons, and they will fit together rather nicely.

Nicholas relaxed into Danny's arms and fell asleep, as at peace with the world as he was ever going to be.

THE END
(Bread!)

Tags: , , ,
mood: predatory predatory

Flavogg heard 31 supplications or speak to the Mighty Flavogg
Comments
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dr_tectonic From: dr_tectonic Date: August 14th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC) (linkage)
YAY! NEW LONGFIC FROM YOU!
*flail of delight before even reading*
koshiroryuu From: koshiroryuu Date: August 14th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Laughing really really hurts right now, I'll have you know. It really hurts. Damn you.

I think the library was my favorite part. *loves*
twigcollins From: twigcollins Date: August 14th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Stop being so awesome! You are ruining the curve!

(holy crap this was so good in so many places. How can you do fic this long where every line is like its own little story?)
viedma From: viedma Date: August 15th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Ann has a very effective whackin' mallet. I can say no more.

And thank you. :)
janegodzilla From: janegodzilla Date: August 14th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Oh my god. I can't even tell you guys how much this wins. IT WINS SO HARD OH MY GOD.

Man, I wish my town had talking swans with eyeball lasers. *sigh*
biichan From: biichan Date: August 14th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC) (linkage)
The amount of sheer delicious crack you two can come up with together is quite awesome. Keep doing it :D
petronelle From: petronelle Date: August 14th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC) (linkage)
This had me in hysterics from beginning to end. Choice bits include:

"I'll be the big spoon." -- and all other spoon-references. Awww.

the unexpurgated version of Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds -- because no one in Sanford hates the gannet

But sometimes a man has to do unsavory things for the greater g--in order to complete a mission. <3 <3 <3

BBCADE is Hex, isn't it?

"You're narrating."

"Oh, sorry. I must've dozed off." -- beautiful noir, perfectly Angel-ish.

a bit like Donald Duck imitating Stephen Hawking. -- I made quite an interesting noise at this myself.

The dénouement was spectacular.

Kudos!
sorchar From: sorchar Date: August 15th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC) (linkage)
Heeeeeeeee!
dr_tectonic From: dr_tectonic Date: August 15th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC) (linkage)
Wow, and I thought the one I've been working on was cracky!

That was awesomely and hilariously weird. I'm stuck in a strange quantum superposition of massively entertained and completely brain-broken. And hooray for librarianage!

Bravo, madames. Whatever you're smoking, can I have some?
dine From: dine Date: August 15th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) (linkage)
it's good to know where all the inspiration is striking.

I absolutely adored this story - it's brilliant and I love your shiny brains for all the good bits (see a selection below)

"That boy," Andy Wainwright said later, "Is wound too tight." This is an excellent description of Nicholas, I think.

I love how the importance of being the Little Spoon in the whole spooning process is eventually disproved - one can enjoy the activity from *either* position? how novel!!

You're narrating."

"Oh, sorry. I must've dozed off."

"Were you havin' another montage?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Well, the American accent is a bit grating, but..."

BB CADE is awesome!!!1!!eleventy!! I love the notion of all those obsolete bits being put to amazing use.

"Whee!"

"Stop saying whee, Danny! No grown man ever says whee!" you know, I think he's wrong there. my brother has been known to say it relatively often, though his level of maturity is up for debate

Dewey is a genius - I completely adore her, and assume she's based on viedma 1000%: "If there's one thing I've learned in this racket, Nick, it's to remember to ask the follow up-question. That, and never bring your really good pens to work." she's totally correct about that last part, btw - I've lost far more good pens than I care to enumerate, due to forgetting that
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: August 15th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC) (linkage)
I completely adore her, and assume she's based on viedma...

Mainly the part where she narrowly escaped prison time.
From: amanda_now Date: August 15th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC) (linkage)

Two thumbs up

BREADBREADBREADBREADBREADBREAD
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: August 15th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC) (linkage)

Re: Two thumbs up

Bread? Bread! Bread bread bread breadBREADBREADBREADBREAD!

P.S. Bread.
obsessical From: obsessical Date: August 15th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC) (linkage)
Fic needs more people like you two.

This is absolutely brilliant in so many amazing ways. Just the fact that the Andys have an old supercomputer is amazing enough, but then you fill it with SO MUCH OTHER AMAZINGNESS. I just...bravo. For serious.
goddessdster From: goddessdster Date: August 15th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC) (linkage)
So seconds, thirds, and all that, but.......
SNEAKERS!!!
This could have sucked (which it didn't, obviously, it's the opposite of sucking, more like whooshing), and it still would have tilted my world and made my whole Friday just for the mention of Sneakers.
From: danakate Date: August 15th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) (linkage)

Bread!

Ahahah, that's awesome! How you guys thought up the thing is beyond me but by all means, keep doing it. I want to read about Saxon and the swans!
morganfairy From: morganfairy Date: August 15th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC) (linkage)
i really think your my favorite fanfic writer when ever one of your fics pops up its like yay! christmas! lol thank u for sharing ur talents with the common folk.
robanybody From: robanybody Date: August 16th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC) (linkage)
I had to come back to read this. It's brilliant and funny and I cannot even begin to count all the times that I laughed loud enough to scare the cats.

I am so glad you and Mary wrote this together. It's fab. :D
Flavogg heard 31 supplications or speak to the Mighty Flavogg
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