Celt Teffnan Against the World Crime League
Another vaguely Christmassy fic. Which is weird, since I started it in July, when Flash Gordon got re-released on DVD.
TITLE: Celt Teffnan Against the World Crime League
FANDOM: Hot Fuzz
WORD COUNT: 2,300
SUMMARY: "Whoah. Who's Celt Teffnan?"
WARNINGS: American spelling, offensive snap judgments about movies you like.
DISCLAIMER: They don't belong to me, as you know.
ARCHIVE: Please ask first.
Monday is the day new videos are released. They "street," in advertising parlance, but Nicholas Angel finds this abuse of an innocent English noun unconscionable. Videos might be released, distributed, put on sale, or even set free to live among their own kind in the wild, but when they street, his whole being objects, right down to his fillings.
One Monday a month, more or less, Nicholas and Danny visit the video store in Buford Abbey, or, occasionally, one of the megastores in Bristol. Danny's eyes light up at the sight of shiny, shiny cellophane and lurid insert art. Nicholas enjoys a contact high of the sort that one can only get from direct exposure to pure, unadulterated Butterman glee.
Sometimes, Nicholas wanders off to look at CDs, or tiny white headphones. Sometimes he stares, hypnotized, at the wall of hi-def televisions -- they always seem to show the giant drain thing from Stargate -- until Danny notices and comes back to nudge him out of it.
They always finish with the same conversation.
"Nothing for you, then?" says Danny. He might have a healthy stack of Hong Kong action films, or he might have nothing at all. It doesn't matter. The real thrill is, of course, in the hunt.
"You sure?" Danny's tone of voice, and the small disappointment in his eyes, convey that he thinks that something about Angel just isn't right. Some sort of cinematic brain damage, perhaps. Angel's indifference to the art form is simply unnatural.
On one particular occasion, perhaps buoyed by leftover Christmas spirit -- or perhaps because the line was crazy long, winding through Disneyland ropes, and they had to talk about something -- Danny pressed the issue. He'd got himself a stack of post-holiday bargains, along with the new Die Hard in some sort of bulletproof collector's tin wrapped in a miniature sweaty vest that doubled as a Christmas ornament, and found Nicholas' empty hands especially distressing. "There's got to be something."
"I looked at the same stuff you did."
"I'll watch anything you like. I'll watch subtitled French shit. I'll watch documentaries about ants. I'll watch Citizen fucking Kane. It's okay."
Nicholas smiled. "I know."
"They have the Muppet movies."
"Don't like the movies. Never have done."
"They have the show. Boxed sets."
Oh, hell. Nicholas felt himself go a bit pink. "No point. I...already know it by heart."
Danny gave him a look that was as close to doubtful as he ever got.
"Really. 'Do you like Kipling?' 'I don't know, I've--'"
"'--never kippled,'" they said together.
"Oh." He could see Danny file this little tidbit away for future reference. "There's got to be something."
"Oh god, not porn." Nicholas had to throttle, and then bludgeon, a sudden memory of Janine's well-meaning attempt at resuscitating their relationship with some truly dire adult videos. The two of them had gone from forced attention to hideous embarrassment to hysterical laughter, finally making popcorn and throwing it at the screen. Perhaps not quite the desired effect, but it was one of the last times they'd truly got along. "The music's always horrible and I'm stopping this part of the conversation, okay?" A man pushing a pram was glaring at him. Or, worse, had had his interest piqued.
"Fair enough. All right. What did you like when you were a kid?"
Angel shuddered inside. He was not about to sit through a well-meaning evening of Christopher Reeve or The Fox and the Hound. "I mainly remember the candy. Curly Wurlys. Lion Bars. Those giant boxes..." It wasn't quite answering the question, but it wasn't a lie, either.
Danny got a dreamy look. "Oh yeah..."
For a moment they're both off on clouds of processed-sugar nostalgia.
"German Expressionism?" Danny ventures.
"No. Wait. Do you even know what German Expressionism is?"
"I'm gonna guess it's got Germans in it. Do you?"
"I think it's...something to do with tilting the camera kind of sideways, like they used to do on Batman."
"Oh. Sword and sandals?"
"Alcoholic Americans in vests dating prostitutes?"
"That's not a genre!"
"'Course it is. What they call 'independent film.'"
"Oh." When he's right, he's right. "No."
"Animals that play sports?"
"What? Seriously? No."
"No. Musicals upset me."
This made Danny blink. "Musicals? Musicals upset you?"
Angel shrugged inside his coat. "Well. I always start thinking about where the music comes from, and how all these people who've never met before know the choruses and harmonies and dance steps, even the tiny children, and how one singer's voice can carry over a whole town. And when they have costume changes or location cuts in the middle of a song, I wonder how they all got out there and how they'll all get back."
Danny stared at him.
"But mostly it's wondering where the music comes from."
Danny shook his head. "See, the idea here is to switch your brain off."
"That's what I'm saying. Musicals are upsetting. You're nearly up." They had reached the PLEASE WAIT HERE FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE CASHIER sign.
"If you're sure there's..."
"I promise, should anything grab my attention, I'll speak right..." he trailed off.
"Nicholas?" It took Danny a moment to notice that Angel had stopped, and he'd been talking to empty space. He doubled back.
For a moment, Danny thought that Angel might have actually found A Film of His Very Own, and was about to say, "Is that Flash Gordon? Is it widescreen?" or make a beeline for the Criterion version of The Man Who Would be King.
But Angel was glaring across the shop floor, at a young man in an anorak. Oh fuck, Danny thought, I know that look.
After a moment Nicholas hurdled the barrier, shouting, "Hey! You!"
The anorak man took off running, trailing game cartridges and CDs.
"But--" Oh hell. Danny cut the line and set his pile of discs on a counter. "Hi sorry I gotta do something real quick can you hold these for me name's Butterman thanks sorry I'll be back inna tick thanks awfully that's Butterman with a B thanks sorry bye."
And, as always, he followed Nicholas.
Nicholas thundered out onto the pavement, then stopped for a moment, sniffing the air. Don't let him have a car waiting don't let him have a car waiting which way which way oh dropped CD thank you stupid kid I see you that way! He barrelled down the high street.
Danny puffed out the entrance a few moments later, picking up Nicholas' trail from the annoyed and off-balance pedestrians left in his wake. He was better at running nowadays, but the pavement was icy and it had started to snow, and he lacked Angel's ability to instantly find the quickest way through a crowd. He'd have to remember to ask what the trick was.
Two seconds later, he was nearly run over by a minicab.
Nicholas half-skated down the street. Let's go into Bristol, he said. The lights are still up, he said. It's really pretty, he said. Well, the really fucking pretty fucking Christmas fucking lights are fucking screwing with my eyes!
The pavement had been wet when they went into the shop, but the temperature had dropped, and the lights made it impossible to tell what was water and what was black ice. Fortunately, anorak man fared no better, and didn't have Angel's running skills. Nicholas caught up with him in front of a sweet shop window full of animatronic cards and chessmen.
"Hah!" He nearly had the kid by the collar, when suddenly the pavement seemed to disappear out from under him. Why foot go sideways? Gravity fault! Prepare for impact! He hit the pavement hard, landing on his keys and mobile, bounced, and went into a bum-skid that probably wasn't nearly as long as it felt, though surely every bit as embarrassing.
"Fuck." Nicholas made himself get up, then wished he hadn't. Oh, this is gonna hurt tomorrow, this is gonna hurt now, ignore it, walk it off, where'd the bastard go?
The cards and chessmen were going at one another with spears and, er, clubs.
Angel started assembling a description in his head. There was a vanishingly small chance it might actually help catch the fucker -- okay, no chance at all, but it was what he was trained to do. Five-eight, hundred and seventy-five pounds, dark hair... Holy God, this is gonna hurt for days. I'm supposed to be good at falling over. His teeth were already starting to ache from clacking together.
His mobile rang.
Actually, it took him a moment to recognize the sound as his mobile, since its normally chirpy ringtone had somehow become a tiny and distressed moo, as though someone were drowning a small toy cow. He pulled it from his pocket. The faceplate was off-kilter and dented. The display informed him that the call was from [ELTTEF|\/F|\ .
He flipped it open, and the top half flew into the street, where it was immediately ground into the snow by a Somerfield van. Of course. "Well, shit." He needed that bit to hear. "Um. Danny?" he told the bottom half, just in case it still worked. "I've cocked up my phone. If you can hear me, I'm going back to the shop. If you're there, call the, er, the po--"
Nicholas stopped short. No. No. I am not having you talk in my head. I refuse.
Oh, thank Christ, it was an actual voice, from...where the hell was it from?
"Oi, Nick!" Oh. A few streets away, he saw a familiar figure, waving frantically.
Oh, thank God. Oh, thank you. This year's been weird enough, I don't want a two-way brain. No. No.
Maybe next year.
"Coming!" He jogged the distance, trying not to limp visibly, and careful not to slip on the ice. Really, the Christmas decorations were very pretty, if you had time to look at them, and the fat and leisurely snowflakes were, it had to be said, lovely in the Christmas lights. The woods are silent, dark and deep, he thought, and Bristol's not bad, either, when it's not trying to kill you.
As he got closer, Nicholas made out a strange tableau. There was Danny Butterman, with the anorak man, who was handcuffed to the door of a minicab. Angel had to stop and lean against a lamppost, because he was laughing so hard.
"Hurry it up!" Danny shouted. "I want to get back to the shop before it closes and get my stuff."
"Coming." God forbid Danny should go another night without taking possession of Die Hard ... what was the new one called? Return to Die Hard? Still Even Yet More Die Hard? Die Hard Goes to Monte Carlo?
"What happened to you? Are you all right?" Nicholas was coated with snow and melt all down his right side. Possibly a bit of pavement rash to the face. He couldn't tell.
"Slipped on the ice. M'fine. Killed my phone." He held the remainder up for Danny to see.
"Whoah. Who's Celt Teffnan?"
"That would be you." The mobile gave a last, quiet mew and went dark.
"Oh dear," said Danny. "Sorry. If I were wearin' a hat, I'd take it off. Still, it were in the line of duty. You can file a reimbursement form. You like forms."
"Thanks, Celt. Looks like you've got this under control."
Danny beamed. "I almost got run over!" he said proudly.
"Well done!" he clapped Danny on the shoulder. "What did you need me for? Why all the yelling?"
"You're my partner," Danny said simply. "Also, this bloke here--" Danny inclined his head toward the cabman, who was leaning against the bonnet of his car, as far from anorak man as possible. "'m out of cash. He says he goes nowhere unless..." Danny made the universal folding-money gesture.
The driver took offense at this. "Listen, sonny, I got four kids to support, an' they all fuckin' got musical instruments."
"I'm sure the winter evenings at your home are very festive," said Nicholas. "Will this get us back?" He produced a tenner from somewhere.
"It'll do." The cabman yoinked it before Nicholas could object.
"Oh good." You will not get a tip, Nicholas vowed silently.
"Thanks," said Danny. He bundled anorak man into the back seat.
"Always glad to tag along on a mission." Nicholas took the other side, wedging the kid in so he couldn't escape. Or possibly breathe.
Danny grinned madly. "Heeyeah."
That's about it, really. Danny got his videos. The Avon and Somerset Constabulary got a shoplifter. Nicholas got a new mobile with a crush-resistant case. The cabman's children started a garage band that played a few pub gigs. Bristol is still there, and by all accounts well worth a visit at Christmastime, although the Bristol City Council and the Safe Bristol Crime and Drugs Partnership request that visitors kindly refrain from making off with unpaid merchandise.
Videos are released on Mondays in the UK, Tuesdays in North America. No one knows why.
Suprisingly, there is no Criterion version of The Man Who Would Be King. And I totally made up the Die Hard Whatever the New One Is Called collectors tin. Although Empire did give away a Bruce Willis wife-beater beer cozy with a recent issue.
You damn punk kids can read about Ealing comedies and Hammer horror here:
Now get offa my lawn.