?

Log in

No account? Create an account
tales of interest you guys box with numbers in inflammation the panda won't stop screaming backwards backwards frontwards frontwards
fic post: 'hard cheese' (hot fuzz) (1 of 2) - Thanks, ants.
Thants.
annlarimer
annlarimer
fic post: 'hard cheese' (hot fuzz) (1 of 2)
TITLE: Hard Cheese, Part 1
FANDOM: Hot Fuzz
AUTHOR: annlarimer
WORD COUNT: Eleventy-something thousand.
RATING: PG fer the cussin', bloodshed, and shit that blows up
WARNINGS: American spelling; don't try this at home even though I totally want to; slurs against the French.
SUMMARY: "Saxon was all enraged and savaged the ever-lovin' fuck out of the poor cheese."
NOTES: Crit is love.
CREDITS: at the end
DISCLAIMER: I no has Fuzzburger. Is Rogue's Fuzzburger!


Nicholas Angel was vaguely surprised to find that the Swan was not only still standing, but open for business. During his time in hospital, as both patient and spectator, his mental picture of Sandford had somehow developed into one of a large, smoking crater, with decorative ironwork and flowerpots. But the door of the hotel was open, the lights were on, and pop music leaked quietly from somewhere.

He was dressed in a St John Ambulance sweatshirt and a borrowed pair of Cartwright's jeans, cuffed at the bottom. He smelled of hospital. He needed a shower to rid himself of his last shower.

He didn't stop at the front desk. Any messages could wait another hour.

Climbing the stairs to the Castle Suite didn't hurt, exactly, but he didn't enjoy it at all. He needed stretching, and sleep.

He still had his key. It had been in his pocket when the station went up. He started to work the lock.

"Don't open that!"

"Gah!" Angel nearly dropped the key. "Sorry?"

"Not you, Kevin," the woman said to an invisible spot somewhere to her right. She was small, with dark hair, and spoke very quickly. She turned back to Angel. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout. It's still full of broken glass. The room. Put baking soda on it!" After a moment Angel realized that she was wearing a Bluetooth, and not insane.

"I just wanted to--"

"They finally took away the crime scene tape, but the floor's still crunchy -- there's an extinguisher by the cooker -- and there's fingerprint powder, at least I hope it's fingerprint powder, and God knows what else, so we moved your bags to the Princess Suite. I think we got most of the powder off the bags. I don't know if they seized any of your things."

"Oh--"

"Is seized the right word? The Princess Suite has the most light -- then use the big lid! Your plant's there. I'm terribly sorry about the pot, but it was the only thing we had that was large enough. You'll see when you see it. And the monkey. I hoovered the glass off the monkey, but I'd have it properly cleaned before giving it to a child. Don't throw water on it! There's a doll's hospital in Bristol. I can get you the number if you need it."

Angel blinked. "Thank you."

"End of the corridor. Normally I'd escort you myself but I think there may be -- Be there in a moment, Kevin -- a small crisis in the kitchen. Swap with me?"

"Crisis?"

"Keys. So you can get in."

"Oh." He held out the hand with the key.

She gave him another in exchange. "Lovely. Thank you. I do apologise, we hope to have service back up to acceptable standards -- Helen! How are you? -- in the next few days. Please ring if you need anything at all." She smiled brightly, then vanished down the stairs at a run.

That was odd, thought Nicholas.

So: the Princess Suite. The peace lily was on the small desk near the window. The Cuddly Monkey was on the bed. Nicholas was pathetically glad to see both of them.

The lily had been repotted and watered, and was...well, alive, if not happy. But a little bit of droop was infinitely preferable to an ignominious death on the carpet. The Castle Suite, he supposed, had to have been the least interesting crime scene in the village, and quickly cleared. Or the tiny Bluetooth woman -- manager? housekeeper? -- had nattered at the CSI team until they just gave her the damned plant already. Go, tiny Bluetooth woman. Godspeed, saver of plants.

"I'm sorry about this," he told the lily. "I was in hospital." He felt silly talking to a plant, but it was his oldest friend. Which, now that he thought about it, was damned sad. "I'm going to have a shower and a nap. I like your new pot."

This was a lie. The new pot was molded in the oversize likeness of Father Christmas' head, a right jolly old leering bastard -- and freaked Nicholas out rather a lot. Or it might have done, if he'd had any sort of emotional resources left. Instead he thought, vaguely, Oh good. Terror Santa.

The pot was so large it made the lily look small. Perhaps it had originally been a tureen and lost its lid. Santa's ears could easily serve as handles...

Fuck it. Shower, Nicholas thought. He wondered if he'd actually be able to get to sleep without the sound of Buttermanish breathing, muted tannoy, and random, mechanical, hi-there-I'm-still-working beeps. But a few moments later, he was face down on the bed, still dressed. He didn't move for another 18 hours.

***

The Sandford police station would have to be completely rebuilt, what with the exploding. So, while the Council, the Home Office, the National Trust, and anyone else with an interest in planning, history, or Sandford's rustic aesthetic took meeting after meeting to decide just how this should be done -- eventually they would decide on an identical station, albeit one with a shiny new Perspex sign -- the Constabulary set up shop in an empty storefront at the end of the High Street, just before it opened out on to the Market Place.

The two Sergeants Turner had not taken part in the Battle for Sandford, and were put back on duty as soon as they had been given medical clearance and a preliminary vetting. They were extremely annoyed by this, since this meant that they were both called upon to actually leave their (temporary) desks in the (temporary) station. And do things. And speak to people. They had become custody officers in order to avoid exactly that sort of thing.

The rest of the squad spent their days on administrative leave, drifting from home, to the hospital (annoying Danny Butterman was small town entertainment at its best), to evaluation by psychiatrists, questioning by investigators, dodging reporters, bothering the Turners, and hanging around the pub. Mostly hanging around the pub. The Crown was closed, due to imprisoned proprietors and excess bullet-riddling, so they had to go round to the Queen's Head, generally known as The Other Pub. The Head did great business, inheriting the Crown's remaining unincarcerated clientele, but nobody was truly happy about it. Pubgoers are territorial, and there was always an undercurrent of tension in the air, as though a musical knife fight might break out at any moment.

***

Nicholas returned to Danny Butterman's hospital room, feeling much better for his nap, wash, and brush-up. Danny had improved visibly in Nicholas' absence, though he was still more hole-riddled and tubey than one liked in a Butterman.

"You look better," Nicholas said. He felt himself smiling, in that idiotic way he'd done ever since Danny had first come out of surgery, opened his eyes, and given him a What the fuck is going on? look.

"So do you." Danny had been the one to tell him to fuckin' go home and get some fuckin' proper sleep 'cause he looked like a fuckin' zombie.

"Oh, I forgot!" Nicholas nipped out into the hallway for a moment, then returned with a lumpy, furry object. "I've brought you a fr--"

"Monkey!"

"--iend." The imaging technician had been happy to scan Constable Butterman's monkey, and declared it glass-free. Nicholas suspected she had a bit of a crush on Danny. This was not a problem; Nicholas was fairly certain he could take her in a fight.

"Gimme!"

Nicholas handed the creature over, and Danny gave it an enthusiastic squeeze. It squeaked in return.

"Heeheeyeah! Thanks, Nicholas. I was wondering were he'd got to. And then I forgot to ask because they keep, um..." Danny trailed off into puzzled silence.

"Giving you drugs?" Nicholas suggested.

"They do?"

"Never mind." Some jokes never get old. "You're sure it's okay?"

"What's okay?"

"Leaving...that here." Nicholas inclined his head at the surface...cupboard...thingie, where Father Christmas and the peace lily now lurked among the flowers and fruit baskets.

"Oh. 'Course." Danny put the monkey on his head, its arms around his neck, so that it became a cross between a scarf and a hat. "I thought sure she'd snuffed it when you hit Lurch over the head with her." He cocked his head for a moment, staring at the pot. "What the fuck have you got her in?"

"That would be the demonic head of Father Christmas. It stares at me."

"The plant?"

"The head. And I can't re-pot it yet because the additional stress could kill it."

"The head?"

"The plant. I'll take care of it, I just can't sleep in the same room with...him."

"He does look a bit sinister, doesn't he? Don't worry, I'll keep him in line."

"Thank you." He returned to his usual seat next to Danny's bed. The chair was starting to mold itself to his shape. Or vice versa.

After a moment he got up, turned the plant around so Father Christmas faced away from them, then sat down again.

"Why didn't you do that at home?"

"I did. Then I went out for a run, and when I came back he was staring out the window, watching for me."

Danny pondered. "Sunglasses?"

"Head's too big."

"Black tape over the eyes?"

Nicholas mulled this over. "Too porny."

Then they both said, "Duct tape!"

"Duct tape fixes everything," said Danny. Last night they removed all my stitches and replaced them with a duct tape weskit."

"Danny?"

"What?"

"That's a fib."

Danny looked shifty. "Maybe."

Nicholas smiled again. "You're awfully chipper."

"I know. Weird, innit?"

Nicholas sighed. "I'm not sure I'm a good judge of what's weird anymore. I have no idea what day it is, and I'm frightened of a ceramic head."

"Hey...don't be like that. I mean, sure, it's dead boring in here, and it hurts, and smells weird. But, dig: I am on paid medical leave. There's telly. They feed me, they encourage video gaming to sharpen my motor skills, not that I can play for shit until I'm less in chunks and on fewer drugs...oh, and I get really lovely drugs." His voice dropped suddenly, for Nicholas' ears alone. "I will give you fifty quid if you bring me a beer."

Nicholas leaned in conspiratorially and said, "No can do, Constable Pincushion."

"Fuck."

They sat in silence for a bit.

"It might be Tuesday," said Danny. "Feels like a Tuesday. They start grilling you yet?"

Nicholas blinked. "You what?"

"The fuzz who investigate the fuzz. The shrinks. The accountants. They're all over the place. And the press."

"How did you know that?"

"A fella hears things. Also a fella has a television. An' they've been by a few times. The shrink wants to make sure I'm properly in touch with my trauma."

"And are you?"

"No fucking clue. She liked the bit where you rode in on a white horse, once I convinced her I weren't making it up. So. You seen 'em, then?"

"I...yeah. A bit, when you were still goofy. Somebody this morning." Doctors. Accountants. Nicholas told the truth to anyone who asked. It didn't really matter who.

"Cool. Who was it today, then?"

"HMIC, I think. I'm not really keeping track."

"That's not like you."

"Meh," Nicholas agreed. It wasn't like him. But then, what was? He wasn't sure he knew anymore.

Danny looked concerned. "Didn't it go okay, then?"

"I don't know. I suppose. They're only just starting, and they tend be close-mouthed until they take a decision."

Danny patted his arm. "Don't worry. Those Met fellas think the sun shines out your arse."

"They'll shitcan every one of us," Nicholas said morosely.

Danny smiled. "Naaaaaah."

"Probably not Saxon," Nicholas conceded.

"No, see, it'll be fine. I been thinking."

Oh, God. "Oh, good."

"In films, rogue cops who've been forced out of the Department -- sorry, Force -- sorry, Service -- in disgrace, like, they always become private dicks with nothing left to lose. I figured we could do that."

Nicholas raised an eyebrow.

"We'd have to go to Lon-don. Or at least Bristol. Since we solved all the good crime here. And we'd have to get a houseboat. But still."

For some reason, Nicholas suddenly felt better about the world. He managed a small smile. "Danny... I think I would very much enjoy being private dicks with nothing left to lose with you."

"Brilliant."

Then Nicholas said, "Wait. A houseboat?"

***

In a just -- or at least sane -- world, the Battle for Sandford would have led to years-long enquiries, sweeping yet ineffective legislation, and, indeed, shitcannings. Happily, the world is neither just nor sane, and the Great British public, press, and government dislike killers of children even more than they do rogue cops with nothing left to lose. The members of the Sandford Constabulary were treated as heroes. They saw a good deal more of shrinks than they did of HMIC, the fuzz who investigate the fuzz, or even accountants. There were rumours of commendations, and even promotions.

Nicholas felt relieved, puzzled, and strangely guilty about this. Of course, he felt that way about any stroke of good fortune, so that was all right. At least something was normal.

Sandford began its recovery. The reporters left, mostly. HMIC went away to write reports, mostly. Broken glass was replaced and bullet holes patched.

The funerals started.

The other members of the squad were certified fit for duty, and trickled back to work in ones and twos. Tony Fisher found himself in charge. He would have felt completely overwhelmed by this, if not for the utter lack of crime, and the Andys' taking to calling him "Auntie Tony" behind his back. This pleased him enormously, since the Andys rarely paid him enough attention to bother ragging on him, and gave him an excuse to plot revenge. He never actually came up with a plot, but that hardly mattered.

There was a bad patch in late May, when Gordon Ceiler was found face down in the duckpond by a French tour group. The Avon and Somerset Constabulary and SOCO were called in to investigate. But it was clear, no matter how many times they sifted through the evidence, that Mr Ceiler really had tripped on a brick, been impaled on his own trowel, fallen into the pond, and drowned.

It was the end of the investigation, but not of the French.

***

Sergeant Turner was glaring out the window. "They're back again."

"Aw, Christ Jesus," said Andy Cartwright. There was a sound of clinking coins. "Thank you, Andy."

"People have no shame," said Doris Thatcher, drawing the blinds against the red double-decker tour bus.

Everyone looked at her.

"The right sort of shame," she clarified.

They all nodded.

From outside came the fuzzy honk of a bullhorn, as the tour guide pointed out the fountain plaque that bore the NWA members' names.

"There's really nothing we can do about this?" said the other Turner.

Tony Fisher shook his head. "As long as they don't break the law, no."

"Isn't it trespassing?"

"They're keeping to the public thoroughfares."

"Noise?"

"Under the daytime limit."

Bob Walker made a disgusted sound. "Lawbidingbassards." Clink. "Thagsdorss."

***

Danny Butterman was released from hospital, though he still spent much of his time there, being made to swim, do things with large inflatable balls, and endure having his scars prodded to see if they leaked. But he managed to remain afloat, found the balls amusing, and remained watertight. He carried a cane (not in the water, of course), though as a rule it was more of a security blanket than a support.

Nicholas Angel -- thoroughly examined, vetted, pshrunk, and audited -- was allowed back on duty. He was surprised to find that a small part of him feared a repetition of the hazing he'd got his first week at work in Sandford. But putting on his uniform made him feel truly like himself for the first time in weeks. And the Andys had gone in for a better class of ragging. Nicholas never knew if he was going to find his desk drawers filled with origami swans, his mug replaced with a doidy cup, or his chair given an embroidered cushion with 'TWAT' picked out in cross-stitch.

He rather liked the cushion, and wondered which one of them had done the embroidery.

***

Sergeant Tony Fisher liked telling people what to do. Happily, this is a desirable quality in an acting commanding officer. Every morning, with their tea, the Sandford Constabulary were given orders. This made very little difference to the squad's normal routine, so they didn't pay him much mind, Nicholas Angel excepted.

Nicholas had a habit of listening attentively and taking his words seriously. Tony found this disconcerting. Nicholas had no idea, though he wondered why his commander tended to hide behind a clipboard when speaking to him.

"Right." Tony flipped through papers, though in reality he only had a list of five items written on the top sheet. "Sergeant Angel, you're this year's liaison with the Cheese Rolling Committee."

"Yes, sir. Wait. The what?"

"Cheese Rolling Committee. They meet on Thursdays. Roll is Monday...after next? Or the Monday after the Monday after next... I do wish they'd send us some calendars."

Roll? "Monday?"

"Same as every year. See what they need from us, make sure everything's in hand, the usual. You'll get a handle on it quickly, don't worry."

The what? "Yes...sir?" Fuck it. He'd ask Danny.

"And my goodness, you're still at the Swan?" Page flip.

"Yes."

"Your cottage isn't done?" Page flip. Tick mark with a pen.

"No. We've all been...otherwise occupied."

"We should have that seen to."

"I'd be grateful, sir."

"Had enough of the high life, then?"

Angel quirked a small smile. "Yes sir."

"Well, let's find out what needs doing."

"Thank you, sir."

***

As it turned out, very little needed doing. There was nothing wrong with Whey Cottage, as it was called, that a few open windows and a keen Swiffering couldn't fix. Apparently Frank Butterman and the NWA had decided it was best to keep Angel in the Swan, where they could keep an eye on him. Fat lot of good it had done them. The keys were left for Nicholas at the station the next day.

The moving in was informal, a small party consisting of Nicholas, Danny, the peace lily (its pot mummified in duct tape), Nicholas' suitcase, and a large, squishy bin bag.

The cottage smelled pleasantly of new paint and varnished wood. There were a few bits of furniture, old but solid. And a picturesque interior stone wall, with a...with... "What on earth is that?"

There was a hearthlike niche near the floor. Suspended inside was a short, thick, heavily rusted chain, from which hung a large, worn, vaguely cube-shaped stone. It was as though someone had tried their hand at a model Stonehenge, changed their mind halfway through, gone for a stone belfrey, and completely failed to realize either concept.

Danny ambled over for a look. "Cheese press. Gloucesters built the place. The stones used to be a wall around the dairy."

"...why?"

"The dairy used to be up here. They built the cottage out of the old stone. That there was in the wall outside for hundreds o'years. Don't stick your head under it."

"I'll try to restrain myself. What happened to the wall?"

"It's your house now. Well, bits of it."

"Ah. And what is a cheese press?"

"It's for...pressing...cheese?"

"Does it move?" Nicholas prodded the hanging stone, which did nothing.

"Nah. It's all stone and the metal bits are rusted. It's what you call a feature."

"Ah." There was a mantelpiece above the press. Nicholas put the peace lily on it. It would do until he could get a better idea of the cottage's sunlight levels.

Danny wandered about, snooping happily. "No sign of your boxes, then?"

"Theoretically," Nicholas said, "they are here. In reality, they were last seen in Sandford in Devonshire."

"There's a Sandford in Devonshire?"

"Apparently. The removals firm says tomorrow."

"Lying cunts." Danny opened a kitchen cupboard, then the fridge.

"No beer, sorry."

"Fuck."

"And you're not allowed it anyway."

"Fuckatron."

"I can buy food now!" Nicholas said, as though it had just occurred to him. "I have somewhere to keep it. And cook it."

"Hurrah!" Danny peered into a door off the kitchen. "Awww, look! You got a little baby washing machine."

"Oh, thank Christ." Nicholas dragged the bin bag into the tiny room, which held laundry stuff and an orphaned mop.

"What's in there, then?"

"Well," Nicholas ran a hand through his nearly non-existent hair, and went a bit pink. "Socks. And underpants. I haven't been able to do laundry since I got here, what with the..."

"Constant gun battles and explosions?"

"Yeah. I can get my uniforms and shirts done at the cleaners, but..."

Danny grinned. "So, since arriving, you've spent..." he did a quick mental calculation. "...around 200 quid on socks and underpants."

"Yes."

"You're gonna need a bigger box of washing powder." He nudged the fossilized remains of the last tenant's box with his cane.

"Yeah." Nicholas bent down to twist open the bin bag. "I might as well get a start. Let me put a load in while we're looking around."

"Heh," said Danny. "Load."

***

The garden was small and neat, with a hedge at the back. Nicholas and Danny did not pause to appreciate it as they fled the cottage, choking.

"OhGodohGodohGodohGod!"

"My eyes! My eyes--No, Nicholas, stop!"

Nicholas skidded to a halt a foot or two from the hedge, coughing. "What?"

"What're you doing?" Danny wiped at his streaming eyes. "Oh Jesus, 'm gonna die."

Nicholas walked back to where Danny was bent over his cane. "I was...going to jump over the hedge. As we do. When fleeing buildings." He patted Danny on the back. "You're not gonna die."

"N'jump," Danny said. "No jump. S'bad. God, what is in that bag?"

"Clothes! I swear to God, I only wore them once!"

"It's like a massive collection of dog farts."

"I suppose the bag got a bit warm, and something's...grown...over time."

Danny glared at him. "You think?"

"Why can't I jump over the hedge? Normally you're all for panicked hedge-jumping."

"Have..." Danny leaned on his cane, caught between puffing and coughing, and perhaps laughing. "...look behind it."

Nicholas cocked his head curiously, then wandered around the end of the hedge.

After a moment, Danny heard him say, "Mother of shit!"

***

Whey Cottage sat on the highest spot in Sandford. Not by much -- the village was reasonably level, as West Country villages go. Compared with the rest of the town, Spencer Hill wasn't much of a hill at all. At least, not from the Sandford side.

Beyond Nicholas' back garden hedge, the hill turned into something else altogether. A few yards behind the hedge, the ground just...stopped

"This," said Danny Butterman, when he'd got over his nasal distress, and gone to join Nicholas, "is Spencer Hill."

Spread before them was a steep and grassy slope of no less than 200 yards, half of the valley that became the even steeper (though less grassy) Sandford Gorge a mile or two further on.

"Holy Christ,"said Angel, peering over the edge. "It's like the end of the world."

"Yeah," Danny agreed. "So it's good you got the hedge. Stops you stumbling down there in the dead of night, like. An' come Cheese Day, it keeps the hooligans out of your garden."

"Hooligans? Cheese Day?"

"Yeah. The Cheese Rolling. Sometimes we get cheese hooligans."

"Are you speaking English?"

Danny adopted an expression of extreme patience. "The Annual Cheese Rolling. Down Spencer Hill. Which is where you live and we are."

"Is that what Tony was talking about? This Cheese Committee thing I'm supposed to be doing Thursday evenings?"

"You got Cheese Committee this year? Fantastic!"

"Is it?"

"Sure! It's got a bit of a cachet. Get to know 'em now, another ten, twenty years they might invite you to be Guest Roller."

Nicholas' brain was starting to corkscrew. "I'm not really clear on this concept of...cheese. They race up the hill?"

"Naw, that'd be stupid. They race down."

"What?"

"After the cheese."

"They eat cheese and then race down the hill?"

"No no no no no no no. They race after the cheese. In the wake of the cheese. Followin' the cheese. Which is rollin' down the hill."

"They do not."

"They do! Have done, for hundreds and hundreds of years."

"For God's sake, why?"

"Tradition, innit? You might as well as why people burn Popes, or throw haggises."

"I do ask that." Though throwing was probably the best thing one could do with a haggis.

"Then you understand."

"I...all right. This is one of those local things that has, over the years, become a community event that everyone turns out for, even though no one really knows why?"

"Yeah! It's like dancing 'round a Maypole, or running away from bulls, or puttin' bees on Nicholas Cage's face."

"Bees?"

"You ain't seen that one yet."

"Oh what a shame. How did this start?"

"Well. Nobody knows. So they usually say it's a fertility ceremony. Or a sun worship thing. Me, I think somebody was walkin' across the hill one day and dropped a wheel of cheese by accident and went running after it and all the other villagers said, 'Ooo-er, he looks a right prat! I'd like a go at that. Have we got any beer?'"

Nicholas mulled this over as he peered down the hill. It really was very steep. "Don't people get hurt?"

"'Course they do. It's really really dangerous."

"I'd think they'd break their fucking necks."

"Nah. Mainly arms and ankles. Collarbones. Bob got concussion from a cheese one year."

"Bob was an idiot for entering the silly thing."

"Nah, he weren't entered. We were doing security, police presence, like we always do, and during the Ladies Race, the cheese went all rogue and catapulted off to the side there. Knocked him unconscious."

"Good God."

"Saxon was all enraged. Savaged the ever-lovin' fuck out of the poor cheese."

"Are you sure he didn't just eat the cheese that had conveniently fallen to earth in front of him?"

"Nar. He was growling. Definite savaging going on there. He really hated that cheese. Broke Vicki Brewer's heart. She'd won the race, you see. Right before she left for university."

"I'm not following."

"The cheese is the prize."

"Oh."

"And you get a ribbon, if the Committee remember to have 'em made that year."

"I see."

"'Course, it's not like the old days, when the cheese could at explode at any moment."

Nicholas crossed his arms. "Danny, the secret to telling a really good bullshit story is knowing when you're about to go too far."

"It's not bullshit! It's completely un-bullshitty! The Church say they did away with it, but the real reason was that the formula for the explodinating cheese was lost during the Civil War, with the Distillation of the Monarchy. It went into hiding with Cromwell, or Sir Francis Drake, or some other cunt in pouffy trousers, and got...misplaced. Lost to history."

Nicholas remained skeptical. "Danny, I don't like to doubt you, but..."

"Look," Danny said. "Let's go round to Burt's place. He'll set you straight."

"Burt."

"Burt Gloucester-Gloucester. Dairyman. Makes the cheeses for the race. Not just that, there's no living in racing cheeses, but he's on the Cheese Day Committee, and he's the go-to guy for yer racing cheeses."

"Oh. He's also my new landlord. I suppose it's actually part of the job, then. And it'll give the cottage a chance to air out..."

"Yay! We're doing cheese and crime."

Angel nodded. "Community outreach."

Danny grinned. "Dairy cops with nothing left to lose."

***

Danny's car pulled up next to a milk float, a white delivery van, and a Mini with DUBLG plates. There was also a familiar tour bus parked a bit off to one side.

"Good for Burt!" said Danny. "I hope he's making those bastards pay through the nose."

The dairy was a long, low, stone building, with a cool interior and an aura of pasteurized wholesomeness. Framed prints celebrating BRITAIN'S CHEESE HERITAGE and FIFTY YEARS OF ARCE hung on the walls. Danny rang the bell, and after a bit a smiling man in a stripey apron and straw boater appeared at the counter. "Danny! Good to see you up and about."

"Ta. Need a rolling cheese, Burt."

Mr Gloucester-Gloucester's face turned grave. "Danny...God knows I never like to turn down business, but I can't in good conscience sell a rolling cheese to a man in your condition. Best go home, eh? You'll be glad I turned you away in the morning."

"Oh, Christ, no, Burt. It's for my partner here. He's never seen it done, so I figured I'd give him a demo. Fling it down the hill for him."

"Oh! Are you thinking of having a go this year, Sergeant?"

"I'll be attending in an official capacity, Mr. Gloucester-Gloucester. I'm police liaison to the Cheese Committee."

"Studying up, eh? Good man. Hang on, gents, I'll fetch you a nice one."

Burt disappeared into the back, and Nicholas and Danny had a short stage wait.

"It's not much of a cheese shop, is it?" said Nicholas.

"He mainly does wholesale," Danny replied. "And governmental cheese research."

Governmental...no, don't ask. "His is the first double-barrelled name I've come across since I've been here," said Nicholas.

"Buncha cheesemaking families, all over Wessex, all marryin' each other," Danny said. "You got yer Gloucesters up north, the Gloucesters down by the Severn, the Gloucesters on the Downs..."

"The chalk and cheese Gloucesters?"

"Yeah. Burt here's one of the Double Gloucesters."

"Thank you for holding off on that joke until now."

"No prob."

"Here we are!" Burt was back with a parcel. "One standard British Racing Cheese, regulation weight, wrapped for rolling. Entirely edible if you don't destroy it."

"Lovely jubbly," said Danny admiringly.

Nicholas took the parcel, since Danny was short a hand. "What do we owe you?"

"On the house, Sergeant. Since it's prep for the day, and you're working with the Committee, it's covered by ARCES."

Nicholas blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Association of Racing Cheese Enthusiasts - Sandford."

"Oh of course."

"Thanks, Burt!" said Danny.

"Come see us again, boys."

"The way things have been goin' around here, we may be wanting some of that exploding cheese."

Burt's face clouded. "Exploding cheese is a myth, Danny. You know that."

***

They walked out to the tiny carpark.

"That were odd. He usually goes on and on about the exploding cheese."

"Perhaps his family are being held hostage by terrorists and he was trying to give you a subtle clue."

Danny laughed, and whacked Nicholas on the bottom with his stick.

***

A shadowy figure appeared from behind the counter. "Tres bien, Burt. I am glad, for the sake of your lovely wife, that you did not try anything foolish."

"You'll never get away with this," Burt told him, then felt like a perfect idiot, because, really, who says that?

"Of course we will, you silly man. We are getting away with it right now. ARCE's rule is at an end. Soon all Europe will know the name of FROMAGE."

"Listen, Étienne," (the shadowy figure was called Étienne) you're missing the point here."

"And what is that, Burt?"

"Sergeant Angel moved into his new cottage today. Guess which cottage it is. Guess."

The shadowy figure, despite its shadowiness, went a bit pale. "Oh, you are fucking kidding me."

"You little Gallic stereotypes are gonna have to settle on a timetable. Unless you want Nicholas Angel to walk in on us as we're burglarizing his home, you'd better make damned sure it's when the entire force is otherwise engaged."

"Oh, merde."

***

In a pantry in the Swan hotel, Victoria Brewer -- otherwise known as the Bluetooth woman -- and Kevin Nackles -- who was no longer allowed near the kitchen -- listened to this conversation through overly large headphones.

They looked at each other.

"Oh, shit," said Kevin.

"I know what it means, Kevin."

"No, I...never mind."

***

"All righty then." Danny plunked down in the grass, just where Spencer Hill dropped off the edge of the world. Nicholas stood behind him. "Rollers sit on the lip of the hill, like this, along with the MC. The racers are spread out along either side."

Nicholas stared down the hill. The slope was concave, eroded, he assumed, by generations of suicidal Sandforders. Sandfordites? Sandfordians?

"The MC -- he's Andy's dad -- counts down, like this: One to get ready...two to get steady... -- the roller lets go the cheese on two." Danny did indeed let go the cheese, bowling it neatly down the hill. "AND THREE AWAY! And you run after it on three."

At first the cheese rolled steadily. Then gravity and the steep incline took hold, and went faster and faster down the hill -- until it hit a tussock, hillock, or abandoned duck's nest, and shot a good 15 feet into the air. Its newly acquired spin caused it to veer off course, and it bounced and spun at random until it came to a stop under the hedge at the bottom of the hill.

"Holy Christ," said Nicholas.

Danny clambered to his feet to get a better view. "See what it does? It can hit 70 miles an hour. That's how Bob got coldcocked."

"How can anybody catch the damned thing?"

"You can't. Nobody's ever actually caught up to the cheese, unless it's ricocheted back up the hill."

"But then --"

"Finish line's about where that shrubby thing is. They give the cheese to the first person across."

The bit of Nicholas' brain in charge of logic was starting to hurt. "Why even roll the cheese, then?"

"What's the point of runnin' down the hill if you ain't chasing a cheese? You'd look like a fuckin' twat."

Nicholas stared at him.

"What?"

After a moment, Nicholas said, "Well, I suppose I should go and get it. No use littering."

"Plus we can have cheese." Danny started back towards the house.

"Where are you going?"

"The car."

"It's only just down the hill. I'll nip down and get it."

"I really--" Danny said, but Nicholas had already gone over the edge. For once this was not a metaphor.

Danny sat down again. Some things a fella just has to learn the hard way.

***

continued at http://annlarimer.livejournal.com/934467.html - or just hit 'next entry'

Tags: , ,
mood: cold cold
noise: 'hard cheese of old england' earwormed forever

Flavogg heard 12 supplications or speak to the Mighty Flavogg
Comments
big_twinkie From: big_twinkie Date: November 14th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) (linkage)
the princess suite. poor nicholas.

this was fun. i suddenly want to eat cheese for some reason...
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: November 17th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC) (linkage)
It's named for the Princess Road in Wells. Honestly. >.>

I would love a little nibble.
random_nexus From: random_nexus Date: November 15th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC) (linkage)
BRING ON THE CHEESE!

OHMAHGAH!!! I have been snickering, laughing, snorkling, chortling, and there was this one little wheezy sound when I had just taken a bite and was trying not to inhale chicken chow fun. THIS IS TOO FRIKKIN AWESOME!

I have already told you more than once, but ILU dammit!
<3

ONWARD!!!!!!
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: November 17th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC) (linkage)
DO NOT INHALE CHICKEN!

Also, thank you.
From: panda_pooka Date: November 15th, 2009 06:07 am (UTC) (linkage)
This is one of the funniest things I've read in a LONG time.
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: November 17th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Danke, Panda.
From: panda_pooka Date: November 18th, 2009 07:53 am (UTC) (linkage)
Icon joy!
:)
beccavox From: beccavox Date: November 16th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC) (linkage)
I, as always, love your Sandfordian (that's my choice) insanity.

Off to part 2!
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: November 17th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Thank you. Good luck.

(oh god we'll never see her againnnnnnnn!)
dr_tectonic From: dr_tectonic Date: November 18th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (linkage)
Halfway through, and already I ♥ this more than... well, more than cheese. Which is A LOT.
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: November 19th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC) (linkage)
I dunno. Cheese is pretty neat...
aella_irene From: aella_irene Date: December 2nd, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC) (linkage)
I find this hilarious for many reasons, not the least of which is that, um, my brother broke his leg cheese rolling one year.

This fic strikes a chord.
Flavogg heard 12 supplications or speak to the Mighty Flavogg