FANDOM: Hot Fuzz
WORD COUNT: 5,200ish
RATING: PG, fer cussin' and violence
SUMMARY: "It's the chittering," she said. "I can't abide the chittering."
WARNINGS: American spelling
DISCLAIMER: Obviously not mine.
ARCHIVE: Please ask first.
The Bellman's Map
They were a police force -- service -- in the sense that they technically existed. They had one telephone, an empty shop, Oxfam tables and chairs, an electric kettle, and a single car on loan from Bristol. The car was missing a nave plate.
Nevertheless, they existed.
They also had an umbrella stand, one of the few artifacts to survive of the destruction of the original station. It stood to the right of the shop door, just as it had at the station, and generally made them all feel better about things. By tacit agreement, it had always been there.
Fortunately, Sandford, Gloucestershire, was still reeling from all the gunplay, murder and explosions, and generally disinclined to commit crime. This was a lucky break for the Constabulary, since an actual crime would have meant that an officer had to go round to the copy shop and print out arrest forms from the Internet, at a cost of £2 a page. Then he or she would have to print out reimbursement forms for the cost of the arrest forms, then reimbursement forms for the cost of the reimbursement forms, eventually leading to an infinite reimbursement regression and the possible destruction of all time and space. Better if everyone just behaved, at least until the proper forms arrived.
Tony Fisher was in command, and anxious for any help he could get. He let Sergeant Angel draw up a foot patrol rota, on the premise that a visible police presence made up of local faces would be both reassuring, and effective crime prevention. It was mainly cosmetic, of course, but sometimes cosmetics have practical use.
Even so, there wasn't a lot for them to do. When they weren't on the streets, they were...drinking tea. Lots of tea. And trying to unload the cakes, biscuits, and pastry that the locals kept dropping off. Fortunately, they could depend on a Hoodie or twelve stopping by to help them keep the baked goods under control. None of them were in any way anti-cake, but the human body has its limits.
Nicholas Angel used the downtime to learn his new surroundings. He had a copy of AA Street by Street: Gloucestershire, and by golly he was going to commit it to memory.
He was also finding it entertaining as fuck. Page 25 might have been the single greatest page of any book ever published. It had Uckinghall, Ripple, Shuthonger, Puckrup, and its near neighbor, The Twittocks.
He had to see The Twittocks before he died. He had to. Fortunately, it wasn't far, and might make for an interesting afternoon's -- oh fuck, "What in God's name is that noise?" Angel's musings were interrupted by a bone-shattering thud from overhead. Either something was going on in the attic, or Ragnarok had come. In Sandford, one could never be certain.
"Squirrel in the attic," said Sergeant Turner, as if this were a reasonable explanation. Perhaps it was. Turner had a small table of his own, with a paper tent at one end that had ENQUIRIES written on it in biro.
"Oh," Angel said. "Is it a large, violent squirrel?"
"Andy's up there trying to catch it," said Tony.
"And by 'catch' you mean..."
"'Beat to a pulp,' yes."
"Oh." Angel sipped his tea. He'd started out with a plain white mug, but someone had replaced it with an oversized pink teacup that had "Princess" emblazoned on the side in curly script. "Should...should we stop him at all?"
"Nar," said Bob Walker. "Snogoncadjefugger." Bob's mug had St. Michael on it, and a sticker of an Alsatian.
"He's well out of his league," Tony agreed. His mug had Spider-Man. It changed color when you added hot tea.
Angel went back to his book. Some bits were easier to grasp than others. The pages describing Bristol would be snarled and knotted in his eyes until he finally got a handle on them. On the other hand, page 271 was almost entirely blue, helpfully labeled "River Severn." Very zen. There was a thoughtful dotted line down the middle, so you could tell whether you were drowning in Gloucestershire County or South Gloucestershire. It might be useful to know that, in certain circumstances.
Piff's Elm, Lower Swell, Tumpy Green -- fantastic. And Catbrain! There was a place called Catbrain!
"Wharsnigrinat?" said Bob.
Bob raised an eyebrow. "Ar?"
"It's in the book," Angel said.
"S'thaway." Bob pointed at a spot somewhere a few miles past their apple crate filing cabinet.
"Thank you," Angel said politely.
"Fucking cuntweasel bitch whore fuck!" Andy Wainright thumped down the stairs from the attic, hair and moustache grey with dust.
"No luck catching them squirrels, then?" Turner asked from behind his cup (caricature of John Grisham), all innocence.
"Grrr," Andy replied.
Just then, Andy Cartwright came in the front door. He was wearing a fencing mask, and carrying a cricket bat, a hockey stick, a tennis racket, and what appeared to be a wire bicycle basket.
"Where'd you get that?" Wainwright asked, fiddling with the kettle and two identical C.I.D. DO IT UNDERCOVER mugs.
"You don't need to know. We just have to have it all back in the shed before home time."
Wainwright smiled wickedly. "Groovy." He handed Cartwright a cup of -- what else? -- tea. Cartwright pulled his mask off and set it on the table.
"You don't think this is a bit much?" Doris Thatcher -- much faded Moscow Olympics mug with Mischa the Bear -- asked them. "Be fair. It was here before we were."
Wainwright looked at her crossly. "Oh yeah? Would you say the same if it was rabbits?"
Doris' expression became flinty. "That's low."
Angel gave Tony a questioning look.
"She was mauled by a rabbit when she was two." said Tony quietly. "She can't abide any rodent bigger than..." he trailed off, gesturing for the right word.
"Erj," Bob suggested.
"An orange," Tony agreed.
"Oh," Angel said, nodding. "Wait. What? A rabbit?"
"Werawful," said Bob. "Poorlilmeyetallshotfulleraysandode."
Doris had moved to stand directly behind Bob, miming, "Poorlilmeyetallshotfulleraysandode" along with him. Apparently this story got told a lot.
Somehow Angel kept a straight face. "That must have been awful."
"Ar. Werawful." ("Werawful," Doris agreed silently.)
"Best not to bring it up," said Tony. Doris tapped the side of her nose, and made a lip-zipping gesture.
Angel nodded. Doris went off to read the newspaper.
Andy and Andy chugged their tea in unison, made identical Jesus-Christ-that's-hot faces, and slammed their mugs on the table.
"Right," said Wainwright, picking up the hockey stick and bike basket. "I'm going back up." The tea had washed the dust from the lower half of his moustache, but Angel knew better than to mention it.
"Should you...?" Angel began.
Wainwright silenced him with a look. "This is something I have to do." He started up the stairs.
"...okay." Far be it from Angel to interfere with someone else's action hero moment.
Andy Cartwright followed, putting his mask on once more. "He can't help it. The poor, stupid wanker likes Hemingway."
"You're going, too?"
Cartwright's expression became fierce. Well, as near as Angel could tell. "He's a poor, stupid wanker, but he's still my partner." He charged up the stairs, cricket bat at the ready.
A few moments' tense silence, and then terrible sounds came from the attic, even louder than before. Clanging metal, more thumps, male shouting, and once or twice a rodental shriek.
"Should we do something?" Angel asked.
"The exterminator will be here after lunch," said Tony.
"Do the Andies know that?"
"I'm sure I don't know what they know," Tony said. "I suppose someone could go up there and tell them. Spare them this completely unnecessary ordeal."
Bob looked at Tony. Tony looked at Bob.
"Narrrrrrrr," said Bob.
Angel shrugged and went back to his book.
"Look, I can't stand this noise," said Doris. "And they might even catch the damned thing, in which case I don't want to be here. I'm going to, I don't know, go on patrol or something, okay?"
"I suppose it's why we're here," said Tony.
"Not alone," Angel said. "Regulations say---"
"Taig Saxnawl," Bob said. "Geylayzbassard smair."
"Good idea," said Doris. "Saxon! Do you want to go for a -- oh, all right." Police dog Saxon appeared from nowhere, lead in his mouth. It was even folded neatly.
"And what about your appointment, Sergeant Angel?" said Tony.
"Me, sir?" He'd had a haircut, dealt with the removals van people at his cottage, done his daily run... "No, I don't think--Oh, shit, Danny!" He vaulted over the table and vanished out the door.
"I love when he does that," said Doris, clipping Saxon's lead to his collar, and they went out to make Sandford a safer place. Possibly the newsagent's was desperately in need of protection. Or the video shop.
Tony shook his head. Something was horribly wrong with the world when he was the only person in the room who knew what was going on.
There was another thump from upstairs, and a bit of plaster dust drifted down from the ceiling and into his tea.
"Wouldn't it be easier if I just walked, and you carried the box?"
"Easier, yes," Angel said grimly. "But that's exactly what they'll be expecting."
Nicholas could only have enjoyed himself more, Danny Butterman thought, if he'd thought to dress in a black turtleneck and balaclava. "Nicholas, I don't really know how to say this, but...you go a bit funny if you're on your own too long."
Nicholas ignored this. "Security cameras, Danny! They're everywhere. If you move an inch out of that chair before we get to the door, they'll know."
Even after distributing his comics, books and magazines to the other inmates -- patients, Danny had accumulated an amazing amount of crap while in hospital. CDs, a clutch of new flipbooks, assorted pens, a Beanie swan called Neill, plush slippers shaped like squashy police cars, cards (greeting and playing), the cuddly monkey, and several frightening sets of pajamas. (If you have not seen Constable Butterman dressed in zebra-striped flannel jim-jams, you have not lived.) All this was now wedged into a cardboard box, which was wedged into Danny's lap, who was in turn wedged into a wheelchair, and feeling a bit like the bottom half of a Russian doll. Nicholas Angel pushed the chair. Buford Abbey Hospital's endless corridors made the whole business reminiscent of a Seventies episode of Doctor Who.
"Do you want to spend half an hour getting a bollocking from her?"
Danny wasn't quite sure which her he meant. The head nurse, his surgeon, his physical therapist, the dietitian -- all were plenty terrifying. "No, but--"
"She'll do it. She'll track us down. She's mad." Nicholas pushed the wheelchair into the lift.
"I hope this place isn't wired for sound," Danny said. "She'll have heard you."
"Easy. Stay calm. With a little luck, and one more minute, we'll be out of here."
The door closed, and the lift played "Girl from Ipanema" at them.
"Wa-hey." Danny wasn't entirely sure that the rule barring patients from walking out of hospitals under their own power actually existed outside television comedies, but the idea seemed to make Nicholas happy. He was sporting both his aviator glasses and growly voice, which meant he was having fun. Truth be told, Danny was feeling a bit giddy himself. The outside world! He'd have the run of it, free and in one piece. Alive, walking, and not peeing into a bag. And then there was that small matter of having saved Nicholas' life. Danny didn't know if he qualified yet as a genuinely amazing policeman officer, but if this was as close as he ever got, he'd still be pretty damned pleased with himself.
He'd fired two guns whilst jumping through the air. He might not be amazing, but the world he lived in certainly was.
Ding. The ground floor. Nicholas had a job pulling the chair backwards over the divot-y bit between lift and lino, but got Danny out and turned around. Danny reminded himself to look away from the fucking water sculpture thing (staring into it made him fall over), waved goodbye to a couple of the staff, and saw his very own car parked at the curb. And then the doors whooshed, and they were out in the open air.
The sky was blue. The breeze was soft. Birds tweeted.
"What the fuck is that smell?" said Danny.
"It's...outdoors. The smell of not the hospital."
"Has it always smelled like this?"
"It has. Breathe deep midst the gathering gloom."
"It's 10:00 in the morning."
"Just do it."
Danny looked at him sideways, then took a deep breath.
"Smells more like fish and dog shit than I remember."
Nicholas patted his shoulder. "It'll go away. It's the annual Fish and Dogs Fair in Tuffley this week."
"You're mental," Danny said fondly.
"Right." Nicholas held his hands out. "Box."
Danny gave him the box.
"Rise and walk, sir."
Danny did. Or rather, Danny tried. Unfortunately, they'd both forgotten to set the brake on the wheelchair, and a few Newtonian moments later, the box was on the pavement, Nicholas was hopping on one foot and clutching a mashed toe, the chair had rolled back into the building through the automatic doors, and Danny was struggling to maintain a lurching, three-legged stance, with the assistance of Mr Thwacks.
Mr Thwacks was a wooden cane. It was on loan from Doris, once the property of her great-grandad, made of age-blackened wood, and hard as steel. The cane, that is, not Doris' great-grandad. Danny didn't need it to walk now -- well, not often -- but it was comforting to have it around, gave him something to do with his hands, and made him feel kind of badass.
As far as anyone in Sandford could remember, Doris' great-grandad had never used Mr Thwacks in anger. But he had often employed the thing as a pointer, leaving random bits of broken glass and china in his wake. Hence the name.
Danny got his balance back, and some of his dignity.
"All right?" said Nicholas, now leaning against the car.
"Fine." Nicholas bent to pick up the box, then looked up, faintly alarmed. "What're you doing?"
"You're doing this." Nicholas clutched at his lower left side, imitating Danny. "You're not hurt again?"
Danny only looked puzzled. Then: "Oh! No. They took out 400 feet of intestine and wouldn't let me have beer, and now my fucking trousers won't stay up. Stop laughing."
"I'm not laughing. I'm...smiling."
Danny glared at him.
"Don't worry. They do an excellent cranberry juice at the pub."
"Eugh. Do you know what that stuff tastes like?"
"Evil. Fruit of the Evil Tree."
Nicholas snorted, and opened the passenger door for him. "They grow in bogs, actually."
Danny blinked. "That's -- and you drink it? That's disgusting!"
"No, wetlands. The other kind of bog." Angel put the box in the boot.
Danny gave Nicholas an appalled glare. Then he slid into the passenger seat, nearly concussed himself with his own kneecaps because no one had sat in it since it left the factory, struggled to adjust the seat, and nearly concussed himself (again) with Mr Thwacks, when the seat sprang backwards without warning. Then he pulled the door shut, and was nearly throttled by the seat belt. "Jesus."
When he was reasonably certain there would be no more surprises, he patted the car's fascia. "Hello, sweetheart! Did you miss me?"
Angel opened the driver's-side door and got in. "You know it's not the same car, right?"
"Philosophically, it's the same car." He ran a loving hand along the sun visor. "Daddy missed you!"
"You know nothing about philosophy. It's a completely different car."
Danny shook his head pityingly. "You know nothing about cars. Besides, if it were a completely different car, I'd be extremely pissed off about having it but not being allowed to drive."
"In that case, it missed you terribly," Angel said. "It's been pining."
"Is it driving all right?"
"In the entire 20 miles I've driven it, it seems fine."
"Brilliant. Try not to ram it into anything."
"I promise nothing." Angel fired up the engine.
The drive back to Sandford was short and uneventful, apart from Danny's shouting, "Moo!" at any and all cows. Nicholas idly considered killing him, but all the best local body-dumping sites had already been taken, and he had no use for a Beanie swan.
"I'm gonna make some changes, Nicholas," Danny said.
"Yeah. Regular hours. Exercise. No -- moo! -- alcohol."
"Oh, I know I've been moaning a bit--"
Angel snorted. "A bit?"
"A lot. But I haven't had a drink since I went in, and I gotta say, I feel fucking fantastic."
"I would imagine the painkillers help," Angel said dryly.
"It ain't just the booze, though. I learned a lot in there about -- moo! -- proper eating. Healthy diet and that."
"Well, good. Good for you."
"Yeah, boyeee. In fact..."
"I'm going vegan."
"Meat is poison, Nicholas. No more. From -- moo! -- now on, Butterman is meat free. Tofu."
"Tofu's not bad," Nicholas conceded. Tofu had a comforting, blocky quality, like edible Lego.
"It's fantastic. And that, whaddyacallit, thingy. Moo, you dozy bastard! Satan."
Oh, dear Christ, no. "Seitan? That stuff that's like veal from the Pleistocene?"
"Heeyeah! Once you've had that, you'll completely forget the flavor of genuine meat!"
"You've gone mad."
"And no more processed sugar, Nicholas. No more sweets, no more biscuits -- well, we can bake our own, of course."
Angel was making a mental list. Fire extinguishers. Check the batteries in Danny's smoke alarms. Christ, make sure Danny even has smoke alarms...
"We'll have to find someplace that sells flaxseed flour. Maybe Bristol."
Danny was giggling now. It wasn't pretty. And Angel had been had.
"You should've seen your face!"
"Is this your subtle way of hinting that you'd like an ice cream?"
"Now you mention it, I'd kill my Gran with a fuckin' chainsaw for one! Well, she's already dead, but I s'pose I could dig her up, an--"
"Oh look it's the Mini-Mart, what a coincidence which makes you not ever need to finish that sentence."
Sometimes, it takes a Mini-Mart clerk to let you know where you stand in this world. Angel got a polite, "Morning, Sergeant." But Danny got, "Danny! Good to see you. How're the insides?"
Danny tried not to look smug.
He was showing the clerk his scars when he noticed a kid slipping a Lion Bar up the sleeve of his jacket. And then a tube of McVitie's. And then a Cadbury Flake.
Danny thought several things at once:
First, that there was no hope in this world for anyone stupid enough to shove a Flake up his sleeve in the middle of summer. All that could come of it was a sleeve full of squish. But then, the kid was wearing a Swindon jersey. How bright could he be?
Then he thought, what in heck's happened to me that I actually noticed this? Have I got superpowers now? Maybe it was a radioactive bullet. Excellent!
Finally he thought, wait. Policeman. Me. Job. Do job. "A-hem." He'd been practicing his a-hems while in hospital, to the point where nurses kept listening to his chest and feeling up his throat.
Swindon kid bolted for the exit. Not very smart, since Nicholas was right there, looking a bit put out at being beaten to the a-hem.
Why do they always run? "Oi, Nick!" Danny tossed Mr Thwacks like a javelin. Angel caught it one-handed, and in the same motion swept the cane downwards in front of Swindon kid and scythed his feet out from under him.
Swindon kid slid across the floor and into -- of course -- a wire bin of bargain DVDs. Angel caught up in time to stop the thing overturning. With one finger. Heeyeah!
Angel tossed Mr Thwacks back to Danny, who considered turning his catch into some sort of Fred Astaire move, but then remembered that his medication caused him to fall over at random moments, and thought better of it. He was in no mood to explain to the good people at Buford Abbey Casualty why he was back half an hour after being discharged, with a broken ankle, or a Curly Wurly lodged in his ear.
"Why do they always take biscuits?" Nicholas asked, handcuffing Swindon kid.
"Oh." He hauled Swindon Kid to his feet. "Morning. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you say may be given in evidence...er, that's it, really."
"Excuse me. What just happened?" asked the clerk.
Two constables arrived in a van to take Swindon kid off to Clotting Reap. Clotting Reap not only had a van (and, one assumes, other cars), but cells. Sandford still had its own cells, technically, but they were badly dented, half-buried in bricks, and very little use to anyone without a building to surround them.
Angel sat on the curb outside the Mini-Mart, eating his ice cream and filling out forms on the clipboard balanced on his knees. "I hope you're proud of yourself, Constable. Not even fit for duty yet, and you've made a collar. Where'd you learn to throw like that?"
"Been playin' a lot of darts in hospital. Lady with Alzheimer's. Throws like a bastard."
"Just can't keep track of the score," Angel muttered.
"How'd you know?"
Angel raised an eyebrow at him, and handed the clipboard off to one of the Clotting Reap constables. "I'm magic."
Danny watched them drive off. "Justice has come to the Sandford Mini-Mart," he said. "Soon, snack bandits throughout the West Country will tremble at the sound of our names. Coconut macaroons, Jaffa Cakes, and Cadbury Fingers will rest securely in their packages, knowing that oh sod it never mind." He ate the final, pointiest bit of his Cornetto.
"Doris'll be pleased that Mr Thwacks saw some action," Angel said. "And that was an unfortunate choice of words."
Danny grinned. "She'll be even more pleased, then."
"Yup. Gave Mr Thwacks a right tossing."
"Mr Thwacks was on the job tonight."
"You whipped out Mr Thwacks and were wavin' him around right there in the--ow!"
"Sorry. Hand slipped."
"That's assaulting an officer."
"I prefer to think of it as exercising discipline."
"Phwoar. The jokes just write themselves."
Danny insisted that Nicholas take him by the new station. His style of insistence entailed asking politely and making puppy eyes.
"It's the old bookshop," Danny said, as they got out of the car. "Mr Binder's place. Why didn't you just say that?"
"How would I know it's the old bookshop? It's not like it says Old Bookshop over the door. And the windows are full of papier-maché fruit."
"Yeah, the Council likes to camouflage the empty storefronts in the main street. Otherwise it's all unsightly like at Village of the Year time."
Nicholas opened the shop door for him. "Yes, well, let's hope this is the start of some good, old-fashioned, honest commercial decay."
"Yeah." He put Mr Thwacks into the umbrella stand without a thought. The umbrella stand had, after all, always been there. "Wait. What?"
Danny was greeted with assorted Wa-heys, Who let him in here thens, Butterballs, and Ois, to his obvious delight. He was given tea, in a plain white mug that mysteriously appeared from somewhere, since injured men need tea to live.
"Yeah, it were the bookshop," Danny said. "And a video shop. Then a computer games shop. Then it were a nail salon."
"A video shop again," said Turner, "before the nail salon."
"That were it. It's been empty for years now."
"So," Angel said, "basically, you're saying it's--"
"Cursed, yeah." Danny grinned.
"It wasn't cursed for Mr Binder," said Tony.
"True," Turner agreed.
"What happened to Mr Binder?" Angel asked.
"Won the lottery. Moved to the south of France. Good thing, really, or he'd probably have ended up under the church."
"He were gay, Catholic, and a Swindon supporter," said Danny.
"Fuckin' Swindon," said the Andys together.
"Cosckers," Bob agreed.
There was general low-level growling.
"Why are you wearing cricket pads?" Danny asked Andy Cartwright.
"Oh God, no," Angel muttered.
Danny got the story of the squirrel infestation from four people. Simultaneously.
"Oh. Let me have a go, then." Danny took a macaroon from the plate on the tea table and started up the stairs.
"He pulls this every fucking time I want to kill something," Andy Wainwright muttered.
"Wait a minute--" Angel said.
"It's all right," said Turner. "I've seen this before. Let him work."
Angel gave Turner an uncertain look, and followed Danny up the stairs.
In the attic, Danny knelt down and held out the biscuit. "C'mere. K-k-k-k-k-k-k."
To Angel's astonishment, a small rodental head appeared in the rafters. It chittered a bit.
"C'mere. K-k-k-k-k-k-k." The squirrel climbed down a post and crept toward him. "Atta boy. Or girl. We don't judge your gender choices round here. Any more."
The squirrel stepped into his open hand, took the macaroon in both paws, and started gnawing away.
Danny grinned. "Coconut. Num num num num num. Good roughage. Aren't you lovely? Look at your little hands."
Angel stared, half in awe, half certain that this would end with rabies shots and flea powder for everyone within a quarter-mile radius. "That--"
"Shh," Danny said, still looking at the squirrel. He stood, very slowly. "We're gonna go for a little walk, get you out of here. No need to worry about the tiny man, it's okay."
"Shh." He stepped around Angel and trod carefully down the stairs, squirrel in one hand, trousers in the other. "We're just going down the stairs, down the stairs, nice and easy. See? Welcome to the big room. Have you been down here? You ever come down here when nobody's around? Nice, isn't it? Now we're going across the room, stay back Tony, thanks, across the room, and out the..."
Doris was standing in the doorway, white-faced and googly-eyed. Saxon was at her side. They both stared at the squirrel on Danny's arm.
The squirrel stared back, clutching at the remainder of its macaroon.
Doris' hand snaked toward the umbrella stand, which had always been there, and Mr Thwacks.
"Oh, fuck," Danny said.
"Easy. Easy. Keep it tilted forward and pinch the squishy bit." Andy Cartwright held a cold flannel over Andy Wainwright's neck.
"I dow," Andy Wainwright said, understandably irritable.
Doris slipped a newspaper onto the table beneath his head, hovering, too distressed to make any remark about squishy bits. "I'm really sorry, Andy. It was just reflex."
"S'all ride, Dorz. Juz ad agzided."
"It's the chittering," she said. "I can't abide the chittering."
Andy Cartwright grinned. "Boy, did Butterball move fast, or what?"
"Shud id, Addy. Evry dibe I wadda gill subthig..."
Near the stairway, Bob Walker wasn't quite shouting: "Drop it!"
Saxon cowered beneath the stairs, deeply ashamed for not obeying, but utterly unable to let go of the dead squirrel.
Turner glanced at them, on the phone to the exterminators. "Technically, it's still in the building. But not in any potentially destructive capacity, is my point. Well, it's a bit of a story... Have you ever seen that cartoon about the bloke who turns into a llama--yes, that's the one. And there's this other fella who can talk to tiny forest creatures? 'Member him? No, now you mention it, I don't know whether they have squirrels in South America. Tell you what, have you got the Internet over there? Why don't you go to the Wikipedia, and..."
Tony Fisher sat with his head in his hands, waiting for the aspirin to take effect. Why would a just and merciful God ever allow him to be put in charge of anything? Surely this couldn't last.
Nicholas and Danny sat in the front window, backs against the false fruit display. Nicholas was filling out another form, dotting an "i" with an audible tap. "There. Just have to take it back to the copy shop, fax it over to Clotting Reap, and we're done."
Danny was poking a new hole in his belt with a nail he'd found near the wainscotting. "Poor little bloke. Didn't mean no harm. Just wanted to be left alone with his nuts." He'd cleaned the blood off Mr Thwacks, and replaced it in the umbrella stand.
"As do we all," Angel said wisely. "At least he got a biscuit."
"True. Perhaps, one day, from that small beginning, man and squirrel can learn to live in peace." Danny did up his belt, then stood. His trousers remained in place. Security at last. "What you thinking?"
Angel, being Angel, was thinking about any number of things simultaneously. But of course he said, "I don't know...lunch? Pub?"
"I hear they do a good cranberry jui--oh fuck it, I can't!"
"Tea?" Nicholas suggested. "Tango? Coke? Fanta?"
"Yeah, all right. Wait. It's Monday!" Danny seemed strangely delighted by this notion.
Nicholas could not disagree. "All right."
"It's the day new videos come out. Can we stop at the video shop?"
"You're supposed to be resting, Constable."
"I'm supposed to be getting exercise, too. It's a whaddyathing, vicious circle."
"More of a paradox, really."
"C'mahnnn, maybe there's a good box set to kill the time."
Angel looked at him. "Excuse me just a moment, would you?" He trotted up the stairs into the attic.
A moment later, the entire shop rang with a scream of utter frustration. Everyone looked ceilingward.
Saxon dropped the squirrel, and hid behind Bob's legs.
The squirrel, only stunned and frightened, suddenly sprang to life, ran like hell for the door and dove through the mail slot.
"You fugger!" Andy Wainwright shouted at it. This made his nose open up again, and gush blood all over the newspaper.
"Yes!" Danny shouted gleefully.
"Good boy," Bob told Saxon. Saxon thumped his tail on the floor, glad that they were all right again.
Angel came downstairs again, smiling pleasantly. "Right," he said to Danny. "Get your cane."
Danny was staring at him with an expression of complete and utter worship.
"That. Was. Amazing."
Angel stared at him for a long moment, bewildered. "Just...just get in the car."
viedma, violetisblue, and crantz for various prompts ("Andy's squirrel ordeal!"), betamagic, and listening to me bitch about this for a solid month. F'rinstance, when I accidentally deleted the first half. And then accidentally deleted the second half.
viedma and violetisblue for introducing me to seitan.
Tasha, for the time I had to pry a stunned teenage blue jay out of her jaws. Goddamn stupid dog.
Mom, for the incident with the wheelchair brakes. Once again, I'm really, really sorry. Don't haunt me.
Mr Thwacks appears courtesy the Critchfield family.