He watched as Jack’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and for a fleeting moment what looked like hope passed through the pirate’s eyes. Jack recovered himself quickly enough and sat back up, edging closer to Will. Their knees were now touching and Will tensed a little, knowing that Jack would sense it and berating himself for doing so.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Jack twirled one of the braids of his beard thoughtfully for a moment. “So, who’s the man you decided to kill yourself over?”
"I don't think anyone in those times, let alone a man like Jack, would be that tolerant of a man who had just admitted his homosexuality. They killed you for that back in the day, it wasn't just a thing where they shrugged and went, 'oh, that's interesting'." Marcus pointed towards Jack, before letting a small grin appear on his face. "Heh, imagine how bad your hand would be cramping up if you were actually writing out a charge list?" Hefting the bell lazily in one hand, he was careful not to accidentally ring it lest he alert the canons with the noise. Now that the purple glow had at least gone down enough that it was possible to look at the actual fic's goings-on without his eyes being seared, he tried to keep his eyes on the canons. Will randomly bolted to his feet and started cleaning up the smithy, trying his best to ignore Jack, while Marcus nodded to himself. "I bet it's not too much longer before we have our shot. Technically, we could exorcise 'em whenever we want."
Examining the situation, Luke nodded fervently. He scanned through the words hurriedly and nodded again. "I'm not waiting for the pair of them to start stripping. We'll get them before that, right?" Wincing as the purple tint everywhere made his eyes hurt, the younger man shrugged. "I can cope without a charge list for once, though. It'd only be about fifty counts of being out of character." He eyed Jack curiously. "The thing is, I can see Jack being this matter-of-fact, if this sort of thing was canonical. As it stands, though..."
"Huh, so he actually is somewhat in character? Fancy that." Marcus arched an eyebrow, still looking at the captain of the Black Pearl. "Here I almost thought the only thing the author was getting right was the word 'savvy'." By this point, Jack had, wisely, decided to leave. However, Will caught his attention by calling out his name, causing him to turn around and somehow not see the two Agents standing right in the nearby corner. An awkward silence ensued for several long, dull moments, even the purple tint apparently growing bored as it started twisting itself in odd patterns again. Eventually, Marcus cleared his throat, immediately followed by Will slamming down his tools and cursing loudly at Jack. As he had not intended such a result, the sudden start in the fic caused him to jump slightly, before regaining composure.
“Damn it, Jack! Just say something already and then go. Insult me, ridicule me, laugh at me – just say something! I know I disgust you,” Will’s voice faded away and he became choked with tears. It had all come to this. This was the breaking point, and it would be Will’s heart which was broken. Will tried to steel himself for what was coming but it was no use. His heart was breaking already, and those wounds which had begun to heal earlier in the evening had split wide open once more.
"Well..." Marcus blinked, reluctant to move. "That was oddly timed." Apparently the tint had been equally surprised, as it was now flashing repeatedly and appeared to be spinning violently around the smithy, turning much of the building's interior into what looked like a swirling mass of purple.
"Ow, ow, ow." Luke's eyes were really hurting now. Whatever was going on with this fic, he didn't want to be around it any longer than necessary. "This is starting to weird me out." He'd seen a lot of odd things in his time, but fics randomly turning purple wasn't one of them. In an effort to block out the eye-burning colour, he tried to concentrate on the two canons, but the sight of Jack kissing Will's neck just made the big man pull a face and look at his partner instead.
"I really hope this doesn't mean the place is going to go nutso when we try to exorcise," was the only comment he made. "And for the love of God, let's do it soon."
"Urgh... hopefully not much longer," Marcus replied, starting to look visibly pale now. Sitting down to try to counteract the dizziness caused by the swirling purple colour everywhere and the speed at which it moved, he tried to focus on the two canons, who were now holding hands and talking again, seemingly discarding any trace of the characters that had been there previously. The purple tint darkened a good bit, but Marcus was just relieved that it didn't turn black again. "I assume this isn't at all in character, either."
"Nope." Luke snorted, and stifled a snigger as Jack's eyes were described as "beautiful" and "full of meaning". "Jack would probably be disgusted if he saw that, or even if he knew anyone was describing him like that." He peered at the Words, then back at the scene, and nearly choked.
As gently and as tenderly as he had done before, Jack reached up and wiped away Will’s tears with his thumb, before this time moving closer and placing a tender, chaste kiss on Will’s lips.
"That's so likely, yeah," the Assassin groaned, covering his face with his hands. "I did not need to see that."
"About how likely are we talking?"
Luke lowered his hands and eyed his partner for a moment. "About as likely as me snogging you."
Marcus couldn't help but shudder at the thought, looking back to the fic. Having thought about what he'd just said, Luke did the same, though not without a slight chuckle at Marcus' reaction. "At least we'll be exorcising them soon," the Floater finally offered, his eyes lowering to the bell. "Any bets on what'll happen with this tint?"
"Depends. It could either go berserk and try to blind us or go away. I'd bet on the second one, though. I think it's the OOC that's causing it. Anyway, seeing as we're jumping them soon, you're the one who knows how to exorcise. Run me through it again, will you?"
"Hm, how can I explain it?" Marcus ignored that the purple tint, on top of the undulating and spinning, had gone dangerously close to pitch black again, rendering the tint's own glow the main light source. Nodding to himself upon thinking of a good explanation, he looked to Luke, having to squint in the purple-induced darkness. "Well, first off, we need three main things. A source of canon - your DVD -" he pointed to the DVD that was in Luke's hand - "a candle -" fishing the candle and a lighter out, he lit the candle and placed it on the floor - "and this bell I brought. I don't know what the candle's for, theatrics mostly. The bell is mainly to make a lot of noise and get attention, whereas the canon source is there to actually draw the wraith out once the ringing and the chanting has caught its attention. Some exorcists hit the canons with the canon source, also known as the book. When the wraith's drawn out, it'll dissipate on its own in a few seconds, usually, but it's also an option to hit it with the book to make it do so instantly, or capture it in a jar. We don't have a jar, though. A lot of it is bell ringing and chanting things like 'avaunt' and 'begone' and 'the power of Canon and/or Christ compels you', honestly," he shrugged. "That's the best way I can explain it. Follow my lead when we get to that."
“There’s no need to be afraid, Will. I’m never going to hurt you, I promise,” Jack murmured, pressing a kiss to the side of Will’s head. “I love you.”
Nodding at the explanation, Luke grinned. "Yeah, I remember now. I take it I get to wave the DVD around - what the hell was that?" He stared at Jack. "That's it. I've had enough. This guy's practically a character replacement." He offered Marcus a hand up. "Let's move before I actually try to murder them both." Making Will into a gay woobie was bad enough, but making Captain Jack Sparrow say that to anybody - and mean it - was guaranteed to drive Luke nuts.
Grabbing the outstretched hand, Marcus pulled himself to his feet, being sure to pick the bell back up. "Agreed," was all he said, looking to where the canons stood. However, after a second he shook his head. "No dice, we can't exorcise if we can't see. I have an idea, though." Before Luke could ask what his idea was, he had already run off, making a beeline towards the canons with bell in hand.
Will’s heart skipped a beat at those simple three words which Jack had just spoken. He had longed to hear them spoken to him by Jack, that voice caressing his ears gently with that declaration, yet he had never dared hope that it would actually happen. A soft smile on his lips, Will lifted his head and -
"RAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!" Marcus' primal shout alerted the canons, and they looked over just in time to see him running at them, bell raised and swinging down in an arc. Before either of them could react, the exorcist's bell slammed into the side of Will's head with a thunderous clanging noise, instantly rendering him unconscious and making him collapse to the floor. The surprise of him appearing from seemingly nowhere and smashing Will over the head with a bell caused the purple tint and darkness to vanish, but it also temporarily snapped the canon back, as Marcus found out when he turned sharply to swing at Jack. The pirate, now fully in character again and graced with his usual quick reaction time, easily ducked under the bell, stepping back and reaching for the flintlock pistol he always carried around.
"You're gonna have to do better than that, I'm afrai-" Jack was cut off by the bell crashing sharply down on his head with another loud "clang". "Ugh..." He slumped to the ground, knocked out before he was even close to hitting the floor.
"This is the day we... almost fractured Captain Jack Sparrow's skull," Marcus said, looking a bit sheepishly at Luke as he held the bell at his side. "Maybe I should've checked my swing. Still, let's exorcise them, now that we can see."
"I ought to charge you for stealing lines," Luke grumbled, before breaking into a grin. "Still, can't blame you; I was planning to say something along those lines myself." He examined the two prone canons for a moment. "Pillocks. All right, go on and start with the bell, now you've nearly murdered them both." Holding up the DVD, he fumbled for the right phrases. "Er... avaunt, bad slash! Get out, woobiefication! In the name of proper characterisation, I banish thee!"
Marcus stepped back enough that he wasn't standing right in the middle of the two canons - that was just asking for the author wraith to end up right on top of you, in his experience - and then raised the bell, starting to ring it in order to begin the exorcism. "Begone, author wraith! Avaunt, OOC-ness! Leave these canons, and never return! Return to the Urple, bad slash and canon defilement! Will Turner and Jack Sparrow reject you! In our power as Protectors of the Plot Continuum, we banish you! The power of Disney compels you! The power of Disney compels you! THE POWER OF DISNEY COMPELS YOU!"
Almost as if the canon itself were hoping to punctuate their statements, a loud thunderclap echoed from outside each time Marcus called upon the power of Disney, still ringing his bell furiously. Eventually, a sort of mist could be seen collecting around the prone canons, coming out of their heads. "It's coming out, keep it up! AVAUNT!"
Luke, who was getting rather into the spirit of things, had been waving the DVD around as if hoping to make it ring as loudly as the bell. "Get out! In the names of Verbinski and Bruckheimer, we banish you from this continuum! Begone from these two canon characters! The power of DISNEY compels you! Avaunt! Bloody well bugger off!" This last was directed at the coalescing author-wraith, which seemed to respond specifically to the comment. The purple tint returned in a huge flash, so bright that it rendered everything but the canons, Agents, and the misty form of the author-wraith itself invisible.
Trying to shield his eyes with one hand, his entire field of vision filled with the same burning purple tint, Marcus continued to ring the bell with his other. The flashing of purple, on top of being so brightly tinted that the colour was almost pure white, felt as if it would blind him, but he tried to keep his focus on the author wraith as it surged from the canons, forming entirely once it neared the ceiling.
"Luke? Can you see all right?" Marcus asked, trying to locate his temporary partner in the mass of flashing and moving purple, which now completely obscured what had been the smithy. The wraith didn't seem to be doing anything yet, content to just spin around in the air or whatever it was doing, but he was reluctant to take his eyes off it for too long.
"See? I can't see a bloody thing! What the hell's it doing?" Luke yelled back, staring at the author wraith. This caused the purple to flicker to almost urple for a few moments. "What, it doesn't like me swearing at it? This is messed up. AVAUNT!" he bellowed, flailing with the DVD as if trying to fan the wraith away. "Just avaunt, for crying out loud!"
The wraith seemed to finally notice the Agents, cued by a sudden stillness in the mist and the purple that had taken over the Word World flickering randomly from pitch black to urple to the normal tint every other second or so. The wraith let out a terrible shriek, almost more felt than heard, and the pain nearly made Marcus drop his bell. The sound felt like it was coming from the inside of his own head even though it was obviously the wraith's cry, the noise echoing throughout the purple and black void that had seemingly replaced the smithy. There weren't any words that could adequately describe the noise, nor do so with total accuracy, especially when it felt like it was ripping his head apart at the seams. If he had to describe it, the only thing anywhere near it he would be able to think of would be a chorus of thousands of Legolusters all squeeing in unison, with the pitch and volume raised to obscene levels. It was everywhere and nowhere at once, heard and not heard, fleeting and eternal.
Looking up, Marcus was lucky enough to catch the wraith just as it had started to swoop downwards at him, the movement unmistakable. He had seen partners get possessed by wraiths before, and, knowing what was coming, braced himself. "Luke! Once I jump to the side, throw the DVD at it!"
Covering his ears in an attempt to block out the incredibly loud noise, the big man had screwed up his eyes in pain, but opened them again as the sound of the bell faltered. He glanced around, trying to figure out why, and spotted the wraith diving at his friend. Recalling stories he'd heard of Agent possession, he was already moving by the time Marcus shouted. Closing his left eye in order to see better, he hurled the box towards the malevolent spirit with a powerful overarm throw, accompanying the move with a shout of, "Not this time, bitch!"
The source of Canon, thrown with uncanny accuracy, shot straight through the wraith's head before it could make contact with Marcus. The DVD landed somewhere behind the wraith as it started to fade, the contact with canon causing it to freeze and begin to evaporate. The seemingly endless expanse of purple disappeared, instantly snapping back to the purple-free smithy's interior and likely preventing the Agents from going completely blind. The hit had greatly reduced the volume of the wraith's screeching, and much to Marcus' relief it too began to fade, soon becoming almost inaudible as the last traces of the wraith and its handiwork began to vanish. The wraith had soon been dispelled entirely, though he still had to clutch a hand to his forehead to deal with the headache he now found himself endowed with. "Heh... who you gonna call?"
"Me, of course," Luke replied, grinning now that the danger was passed. "Not many other people around who could face the idea of you possessed by that thing. Wouldn't fancy the idea of trying to wrestle the bell off you in that state, though." He blinked a few times as his sight finally cleared, making things much easier to focus on. Carefully retrieving his DVD, he checked the box over for signs of damage, brushed a few bits of straw off it and tucked it into his pocket once he was satisfied it was unmarked.
Once that was finished with, he turned back to the main scene. Will and Jack were still out cold, Jack with a dark wet patch around the spot on his head where Marcus had whacked him. "How sharp is that bloody bell, mate? Actually, don't tell me; I'll just get paranoid about you waving it near me." The Assassin wandered back over and nudged the pirate with his foot. "Now we neuralyse them and come up with some explanation for why they both have massive headaches, right?"
Marcus nodded, putting the bell on the ground while he fished out his neuralyser and put on a pair of sunglasses. "I didn't really think I hit him that hard, but yeah, we probably should. Which do you want?"
"While I could be incredibly immature regarding that question, I'll fix Will up. You broke Jack, so you get to carry him back wherever he's supposed to be. The Pearl's probably your best bet, I doubt he'd be far from it in any case." He rummaged for his own neuralyser, then realised he'd forgotten his sunglasses. "Damn. Well, you head off." He watched Marcus nod and open a portal to the Black Pearl before hauling Jack through it. Normally Luke would have offered to help, but Marcus had pranked him enough this mission that he decided not to.
As the portal closed, Luke turned back to Will. "All right, you, wake up." This was met with no response whatsoever, unsurprisingly. After nudging the young blacksmith a few times, he looked around for the water barrel that he knew should be nearby. Having spotted it in a corner, he grinned and dumped a bucketful over Will's head. That got rather better results, and after a bit of coughing and spluttering, the canon looked up blearily at Luke.
The Assassin had covered his eyes with one hand, turned his head away and activated the neuralyser. He peered back after a few seconds, and noted with satisfaction that it'd done the job. Will's gaze was now blank and dazed.
"All right, Master Turner," Luke declared, hauling the canon into a sitting position and propping him against the wall, "I've got a few things to explain to you. First off, you do not, nor have you ever, have any kind of feelings for Captain Jack Sparrow. Particularly not so badly that you'd be willing to off yourself to avoid telling anybody. Secondly..."
Meanwhile, Marcus had hauled Jack through the portal, the two being deposited inside Sparrow's personal cabin on the Black Pearl. Marcus had judged it a bit too risky to portal on to the main deck, where they likely would've been instantly soaked by the storm that still raged outside. Fortunately for him, he had remembered where the captain's cabin was from when he'd seen the first film, and had known it to be a good alternative. "Let's find something to wake you up before you start bleeding on me, shall we?" Marcus asked, not expecting an answer from the unconscious canon but still adjusting himself so that Jack's weight was more evenly distributed and he wouldn't have to worry about the pirate bleeding on his disguise. Of course, it had been his fault that the guy was bleeding to begin with, but still. Looking around, his eyes soon fell to the huge window at the back, and he started to carry Jack over.
Placing Jack down, it took a few seconds to get the window open, but he was able to manage it before too long, picking Jack up again in order to hold his head and torso out the window, keeping a firm grip to make sure he didn't go falling into the water below while being rained on. Several seconds passed, and Marcus almost thought nothing would happen, but eventually the captain began to stir and groan. As the first signs of consciousness started returning to Jack, he was gently put down on to his chair, but he didn't notice the stranger that had done so and gone to close the window just yet.
"Uh, whuh? Whassgoinon?" Jack mumbled once he had awakened, looking around with the stunned and confused expression typical of someone who had just been knocked out and given a pretty bad concussion. His eyes falling to his lap, he tried to gather his thoughts, unaware of the person approaching him as he fought down the sudden urge to vomit and tried to ignore the pain in his head. There was something weird going on with his hair, it felt... sticky, almost. There wasn't much of a chance of dwelling on it, though, as someone ahead of him cleared their throat. Looking up to see who was mucking around in his cabin, he noticed an unfamiliar pirate staring at him. A member of his crew...? Whoever it was, they wore a pair of strange dark spectacles, and in their right hand he saw what looked like a short silver stick.
"Captain Jack Sparrow?" they asked, though the question was phrased as if the person already knew full well who Jack was.
"Yeah, s'me... do I know you?"
Jack's expression quickly changed to the typical dazed look of someone who had just been neuralysed, just as Marcus had expected. Leaving the sunglasses on for the moment, he cleared his throat again, though this time it was more to prepare himself than to get Jack's attention. It really would have been useful to have Luke's knowledge of the canon while doing this, but he figured it wouldn't need too much correcting. "Listen up, Captain. You do not have any kind of attachment, romantic or otherwise, to Will Turner. Your only love is the sea. End of story. As for the concussion you now have, as well as the cut on your head, that was due to a particularly nasty bar brawl you got in whilst drunk. You won't remember that fight, which is probably just as well, seeing as you lost rather spectacularly."
Figuring that enough had been said, Marcus promptly opened a portal back to the smithy, already being gone by the time Jack's neuralysation had started to wear off.
"...and for another thing, why the hell were you even - oh, Marcus." Luke turned at the sound of a portal opening and nodded at the figure that stepped through. "Hi. Nearly done here." Rounding on Will again, he continued. "Why the hell were you even up this late? It costs money for candles and lamps, you know. You're supposed to work during the daytime, that's why you -"
"Uh, Luke?" Marcus had seen Will's gaze steadily growing more alert a matter of seconds after coming back from the Pearl, but now he could tell the canon was almost fully aware. Knowing that Will seeing a pair of pirates chewing his ear off about canonical relationships and in-character behaviour would not go well, he had thought to speak up. "He's waking up. Just how long were you ranting at him?"
"Eh?" Luke glanced at his friend, then back at Will. "Oh, bugger. Er... not that long?"
Will, finding himself lying on the floor with an aching head, several minutes of missing memory and two pirates standing over him, was coming to the most logical explanation; they'd broken in and attacked him. Despite his grogginess, he immediately reacted in a very Will-ish way. Rolling over, he scrambled for the nearest sword rack.
"Damnit!" Luke lunged for him, but missed, and as Will's hand closed over the hilt of a sword, the Assassin knew it'd be stupid to try again; he'd end up skewered. "Marcus, shut your eyes or something!" Raising the neuralyser again as the blacksmith turned round, he covered his face and pressed the button, hoping like hell Marcus hadn't just been mindwiped along with Will.
Fortunately, when he dared look, Marcus was wearing his sunglasses. Will, on the other hand, looked blank again. "Thank God for that. All right. Will Turner, you do not love Captain Jack Sparrow, and you would not commit suicide for the sneaky bugger. You love Elizabeth Swann. And the reason your head hurts is because you slipped and fell, whacking your head on the wall. Two pirates did not attack you in the middle of the night in the smithy, nor was Captain Jack Sparrow here at any point. You're going to go home, get some sleep, and remember none of this in the morning."
Will just blinked.
"All right, let's go." Luke rummaged for his Remote Activator and opened a portal back to HQ, stepping through it with a last backwards glance at the place. Marcus stayed just long enough to put away the glasses and neuralyser, then pick up his bell and candle, before following after. Looking around at the familiar, not-purple surroundings of his RC, he couldn't even be bothered hiding his relief as he tossed the bell and candle over by his bag.
"Thank God that mission's over," he said, rubbing his eyes in a futile effort at soothing his aching head. Moving to the Console, he started keying in the codes that would deactivate their disguises, but looked to Luke before he confirmed. "You might wanna brace yourself, you're about to have one eye again."
"Finally," was the only retort Luke made, as he took one last look at his disguise before half his field of vision was abruptly obscured. He reached up and rubbed at the empty eye socket under the scarf. "All right then. That was bloody awful," he added. "Are slashfics usually that bad nowadays? I've never seen things going that weird."
"Neither have I," Marcus admitted, visibly shaken and leaning on the Console. "The fic would've been pretty standard if that hadn't happened. As is, though, I'm definitely going to have to report that to Upstairs. I didn't even know stuff like that could happen. You all right?"
Luke nodded. "I'm fine. Didn't expect Will to go for a sword, though. That was a bit hairy. Good thing I still had the neuralyser in my hand, digging for it would have made things awkward. I take it you didn't have any problems with Jack after trying to knock his brains out?"
"Shut it. You're the one who let Will wake up from the neuralysation and almost try to put a blade through your chest." Despite speaking rather sharply, Marcus gave his friend a bit of a good-natured chuckle while he thought back on the event. "I didn't think I'd hit him that hard, until I saw the blood. Admit it, though, it worked. Anyway, no, he was too out of it to give me any problems, just asked who I was before I neuralysed him. Told him he'd got in a bar fight, heh. Probably the only part of the mission that went totally right."
"There were better ways to solve the problem than whacking them on the head," was Luke's comment. "But yeah, bar fight sounds about right for Jack. You know the continuum that well at least, then." He flashed Marcus a grin. "And I was just trying to explain to Will what he'd been doing wrong... all right, I admit I went a little overboard," he concluded on seeing Marcus's expression.
Leaning against the nearest wall and folding his arms, he shook his head. "So what now? We going Upstairs or what?"
Marcus nodded. "Yeah, that would be best, they should know about some of the stuff that happened. Mission could've only gone weirder if we'd forgot the... charge list... oh, CRAP! The charges!"
Luke raised an eyebrow. "I thought we didn't need charges for a slash mission? In fact, I specifically remember this question coming up when we went in."
Marcus couldn't help but facepalm, the sensation being the only alternative he could think of to the far more painful idea of smashing his head on the console until he was about as out of it as Jack. "I remembered wrong!" he said, scrambling to open his notebook and grab a pen. "We don't have to recite the charges, but we still have to note them down for filing! We need to fill a list out before we go."
"Oh, great." Luke came over to have a look at the notebook. "Well, let's see... off the top of my head I can recall purple prose, making Will and Jack incredibly out of character, making Will a woobie and suicidal, making Jack fall in love, making the pair of them gay..."
Marcus was jotting down the charges as Luke said them, occasionally nodding to confirm that he'd heard his friend. "Charge for turning the Word World into a monstrosity that tried to drive the Agents insane, I guess?"
"Definitely. First time I've been weirded out for a long time. Lack of a competent beta-reader - I spotted a few typos in there that should have been caught," he explained. "Making Jack stupid enough to risk arrest, weirding out PPC Agents, making PPC Agents feel ill due to practically Lovecraftian weirdness, and generally pissing PPC Agents off." He eyed the notepad. "You reckon that'll be enough to keep the Flowers satisfied? Oh, wait." He grimaced. "I read past the point where we exorcised. Reckon we can add charges from after that point?"
"I've done that," Marcus said, only looking up from the list when he had frantically noted down all the charges Luke dictated. "The Flowers wouldn't have a problem with it, as long as the charges make sense. So we can add some if you want."
"In that case, I think we can add being willing to strip naked where anyone could walk in on them, and..." He winced. "Not that I'm an expert on this, but would 'no lube' count?"
"It would, it's one of the more common charges," Marcus replied, finishing off the charge list and putting down the pen. "You think those are enough? Could be enough to justify an exorcism. Damn, why've I been so stupid lately?" He groaned, running a hand through his hair. "Can't believe I forgot something like that. That's the mistake of a kid's first day on the beat, not a sixteen-year vet."
"Eh, we all have off days. Sounds like you've had it rough. And I can't think of any more charges off the top of my head, so I guess that'll have to be enough. I'm not going back in for more, anyway." Luke made for the door. "Shall we go and tell the Flowers, then? Sooner we get that out of the way, sooner we can go and find something useless to do." He looked back over his shoulder with a grin.
"Why do I get the feeling that your 'something useless' will end up with me dragging you to your RC to sober up?" Marcus let out a bit of a chuckle, walking after his friend and squeezing past the big man to get into the corridor. "Close the door behind you, I don't want the minis getting out." He nodded into the RC, where Sill and Chaplin were already bracing themselves to take off in the door's direction. Marcus was surprised that Sill was awake long enough to be moving as much as he appeared to be; the mini always seemed to be in some kind of drunken stupor when Marcus saw him, but he didn't want to be chasing his new minis all over HQ. "With that out of the way, we can find the nearest elevator."
Carefully closing the door behind him, Luke nodded and chuckled as they set off. "They're cute little guys, that lot. I guess at least they're not likely to need feeding, so you got lucky there. I'd offer to take one off your hands, but the last thing we need in our RC is something small and vicious." He grinned. "I've already got Jessie in there."
"They kinda feed themselves." Marcus explained, walking alongside his friend. "They have these plug-like things on their backs, you see. When they get hungry, they plug themselves in to a nearby outlet and absorb the electricity until they're full. Plays havoc with the power, though." He had seen the minis in his RC feed enough over the days since he'd obtained them that he had a pretty clear idea of how they worked, mostly that instead of eating in the conventional sense they just needed to absorb electrical power, due to being miniature versions of an electronic device.
"I wouldn't let you have 'em anyway," he joked, keeping his eyes looking around just in case they walked past the elevator. "I didn't like them at first, but I think I'm getting a bit of a soft spot for the buggers. Heh, speaking of soft spots, I see you and Jessie still seem to hate each other's guts."
"Fair enough." Luke shrugged. "Yeah, Jessie and I're still driving each other insane. I guess it's more out of habit than anything now; we're just not the kind of people who are supposed to share living space, never mind working space. Though after last year she's... I dunno, she's not as sharp as she used to be." He sighed. "Not that I can blame her, it wasn't pleasant."
"Yeah..." Marcus' mood instantly darkened, the older man's step quickening as he looked around. He had been going to say something, the reply practically on his lips, but he found that he couldn't make himself speak. Instead, he focussed on the Generic Surface around them and the sound of their feet on the floor. They both knew what Luke meant by "last year", and it was a rather sensitive issue. "What happened to her?" He finally managed to force himself to ask, his voice suddenly much quieter.
"Her girlfriend died," Luke replied, his voice rather subdued as well. "Poor girl got shot in the fighting. And... and I found Jessie in the middle of a battlefield. I thought she'd died when I found her; somebody'd ripped her back open." He closed his eye briefly and shook his head. "Good thing we weren't that far from Medical. I took her straight up there. She left three months later after they managed to fix her spine."
"I see. They really do have miracle workers in Medical, don't they?" Marcus joked, but his heart really wasn't in it, as proved by the half-hearted grin he gave his friend. "And she's still walking around? Lucky she wasn't paralysed."
"I thought she was going to be," Luke admitted quietly, before falling silent.
Neither could force themselves to say anything, as they looked for the lift. It turned out that said lift seemed to be feeling rather evasive, as it took them a short while longer than usual to find it. However, they eventually located it, and stepped inside. After a quick, dizzying ride, due to HQ's apparent policy of having all its machinery make life as difficult for the Agents as possible, the two men found themselves walking down the corridor towards the office for the Head of the Floaters Department. Just seeing the door there was a surprise in itself for Luke. Most of the time, his Department Head hid the door until the Agents banged on the wall loud enough to cause a scene.
"Well, here's the door. Have to admit, I haven't been up here much, try to avoid it. Let's get this over with." Marcus hesitated for a second, and then rapped on the door a few times, just loudly enough to catch the Hyacinth's attention inside.
Yes? What is it? I'm rather busy, you know, the Flower communicated. Marcus opened the door as soon as she was done not-speaking, looking around the office a bit warily before returning his eyes to the Floating Hyacinth and coming to attention, raising his right arm in a salute.
"Agent Marcus Langston, Department of Floaters, reporting," he said, focusing on the Flower as if trying to gauge a reaction. Of course, with no discernible facial features, it betrayed none.
I know who you are, Agent Langston, the Flower said, if such things could be said to speak, making a gesture that appeared to be some Flower equivalent of returning the Agent's salute. Though I can't say I was expecting you of all people to drop in. Do you really need to act like this every time you come by? You're not in the army, you know.
"Would you rather I came in yelling and complaining, ma'am?" Marcus asked rhetorically, his stance relaxing somewhat.
No, I suppose not, the Floating Hyacinth appeared to concede. But you get my point. What is it you want, and why is Agent Celinus standing behind you? He is not in the Department of Floaters, you know.
Luke had rolled his eye on seeing Marcus’ salute, but now turned his attention to the Hyacinth floating in its tank. Taking his hands out of his pockets, he nodded towards it and came up to stand beside his friend. “We’re both aware I’m not DoF, ma’am. I just happened to be in his RC when his latest mission came through, so he asked me to go along, seeing as his usual partner’s still in Medical. And I could happily have lived without having to go through that fic, there was some damn weird-ass stuff going on.”
I assume that by ‘weird-ass’ you are not referring to the canons’ anatomies, Agent Celinus. And yes, I am aware that it was a slashfic that was sent. One of you, get to the point. I don't have all standard time unit.
"Of course, sorry ma'am." Marcus nodded, still not keeping his eyes off the Hyacinth and her tank. "We came up to report the results of the mission, mostly some highly unusual circumstances that occurred. Otherwise I would have just submitted my report through the Console as usual."
And what circumstances would those be?
The irritation was obvious in the Hyacinth's mental voice, so Marcus cut right to the point and reported the events of the fic, being sure to tell her everything, with Luke nodding and occasionally making a comment to confirm his words. Summarising the entire course of the mission, he put special emphasis on the apparently sentient cloud of urple that had taken over the Word World and the author-wraith's unusual level of awareness, including the direct attack on them through its scream and the possession attempt. Of course, nearly bashing in the canons' heads was glossed over. Once he had finished speaking, there were a few seconds of uncomfortable silence before the Hyacinth stirred again.
I must admit, that's... unusual.
"Neither Luke nor myself have ever seen anything like what happened," Marcus confirmed. "We figured the incident should be reported, and personally I was wondering if there were any such occurrences on record."
If there are, I'm not aware of them, although I intend to look into this as soon as possible. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Very responsible of you.
Luke shrugged, ignoring the slight dig. "Figured it was only fair; if slashwraiths are starting to go crazy, somebody ought to know."
I will investigate. If this is an isolated incident, all well and good; if not, I'll certainly alert the Queen Anne's Lace, seeing as her Department is at the most risk. You've done your Duty, and at least you decided to actually come and report; though from you, Agent Langston, it's not too surprising, given your record. Now, if you'll both excuse me, I have work to do.
Luke nodded and shifted towards the door. After spending any time in the PPC, one learned when a Department Head wanted you to leave. Marcus also turned to exit through the doorway, only to be cut off by a rustling from the Hyacinth that was likely her equivalent to clearing her throat.
Before I forget, Agent Langston, did you at least fill out a charge list, amidst this 'weirdness'?
This question, which Marcus had honestly hoped the Hyacinth would neglect to ask, made the Agent freeze in his tracks. Turning slowly, he faced the Flower, his hand on the back of his head as he showed her the notebook. "Er... technically."
'Technically'? How do you 'technically' fill out a charge list?
"To be honest, I forgot." An annoyed look, at least it looked like an annoyed look, from the Hyacinth made Marcus hastily pick up the next part of his explanation. "During the mission, I got mixed up, and for some reason I thought the charges weren't needed. Once the incident I was reporting started up, it was pushed from my mind." Slowly approaching the desk, he set the charge list down on the desk, in front of the Hyacinth's tank. "With Luke's help, as he knows the canon better than I, I filled out a new charge list upon returning to my RC."
That's an amateur mistake, Agent Langston, not one I'd expect from an Agent who has been on the job as long as you have. In the past few mission reports, I've noticed you've hit a slump, you're making mistakes like that more often. I think we both remember how that Firefly mission yesterday went, the one with the three Sues. Judging by that report, you were lucky not to get shot.
"It was an ambush, bullets started flying almost as soon as I showed myself to read the charges." He didn't have the chance to defend himself any further, as the Hyacinth made a gesture to wave him down and continued.
That doesn't matter, you still nearly got yourself killed, and Eru forbid a canon should end up in the crossfire. You've been on the job long enough, got good enough at it, that such things just shouldn't happen; with as much experience as you have, I expect better of you, Agent Langston. Whatever this problem is that's causing you to make such mistakes, fix it. Dismissed.
"Yes, ma'am." Marcus didn't need to be told twice, quickly leaving the room and shutting it behind Luke and himself. "That could've gone worse," he said to Luke, once they were out of the office and the Hyacinth's direct equivalent-of-earshot.
"I'll agree there," Luke replied. "The roastings I've got off the S.O. in my time for far less... well, compared to that, the Hyacinth's actually not that bad. But calling you out for having trouble working on your own? That's a bit unfair." The big man paused for a moment, regarding his friend speculatively. "You know what? I think you need a break for a couple of hours. Come on, let's go have a drink or something."
"It wasn't so much calling me out as much as pointing out that I usually don't have that much difficulty even when I do work on my own," Marcus said, shrugging. "She's right, I've been in a slump lately, been screwing up more. Just don't know why. I don't even remember the last time a mission devolved like the one she was talking about, it was so long ago. The Hyacinth is just really blunt about it, like most Flowers." He sighed, but then paused, soon giving Luke a wry smirk. "How did I know you'd offer to go drinking? You know my stance on that, though I suppose someone has to keep you from getting in too much trouble."
"Eh, nobody's gonna force you to if you don't want to. 'S not going to stop me, though, you know. I promise to try not to drink too much, if it makes you feel better." Luke grinned and sauntered off down the corridor, glancing back at his friend. "What, not going to put a leash on me?"
"Don't have one," Marcus joked, easily catching up with Luke's pace. "Was just telling you that I didn't plan on touching anything, y'know. Let's try not to get in a bar brawl this time, though?"
The Assassin looked mildly insulted. "I haven't got in a brawl for... over a year now. Cut me some slack, huh?" They walked off down the corridor together, throwing friendly insults at each other.
Authors' Notes: (Kyle) Wow, co-writes are a lot faster than going about it normally, that's my first impression on it. Heh, I almost don't wanna go back to being on my own in writing it all, though it's funny how what was supposed to be a quick little thing turned out to be (I think) longer than my last mission, which I spent two MONTHS on, after just a couple weeks. It was fun, though, a lot more than I expected from a fic that was basically our Agents huddling in a corner watching stuff, and I needed the slash practice anyhow. I do look forward to writing with Zodfang again, though, he's too much fun to leave on the bus that is Medical. Still, I enjoyed it, and I hope you all do, as well. Constructive criticism isn't just welcome, it's explicitly requested.
(Cassie) Agreed. Co-writing is heaps of fun, though it involves a lot more back-and-forth discussion. Still, that's never a bad thing. And while I appreciated the experience of a slash mission, the participants in said slash did not impress me one bit. My view is that slashy interaction between Jack and Will should refer to a situation where they're fighting, not having it off. Luke's great to write, though; he's a fun guy, and his friendship with Marcus means we can get away with sneaking in references to past events. Hope you enjoyed this, and as Kyle said, concrit would be just lovely. *waves* See you all next mission!