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Interesting Assortment of Flying Pianos

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Podfic also available for streaming or download: HERE. Duration: 00:11:47, 10.7 MB. Enjoy!

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“I’m telling you,” Hardison said, half distracted, pulling at the collar of his t shirt that looked to be on backwards and two sizes too small. “Some hinky shit happening in upstate New York.”

“Shouldn’t you be doing something about it?” Claudia asked bleary eyed. Hardison had pinged her unfairly early. They’d only finished with the raiding party just after four a.m. This being up before nine business was so not on.

“Would if it were our kinda thing, but it’s your super-secret-goo-in-a-vat kind of thing,” Hardison clacked on a few keys making her email ping after a few seconds.

“Why do you only find me stuff on Saturdays? Saturdays are for sleeping in, Hardison. Have you been to bed at all?” Claudia asked, bringing up her email and clicking through articles about People Behaving Strangely and possible correlations to the recently deceased Eccentric Collector and his Interesting Assortment of Priceless Antiques.

If I had a dollar for every time I saw stuff like this, she thought to herself with a grim smile.

“Yes, I’ve been to bed,” Hardison said defensively, pulling his t-shirt away from his neck and examining it with a frown.

“Don’t pull the collar of my shirt out, Hardison,” Eliot grumbled somewhere left of frame.

“Please, I already tested the structural integrity of your shirt,” Parker dismissed from over Hardison’s shoulder. “Oh! Is this the Estate Sale you won’t let me steal from?”

“Parker. Babe,” Hardison chided, trying to get her hands away from the keys.

“What? It’s the weekend! I think it’d be fun to see if I could walk that rabbit statue off with all the costume jewelry I can find in the middle of the afternoon. You know? For funsies?” Parker implored, smirking ever-so-slightly. “Hi Claudia.”

“What else did you plan on stealing because you’d be bored. Did you plan on packing the rest of the sale off under the auctioneer’s nose?” Eliot asked, incredulous, pulling at Hardison’s shoulder while Parker started typing. “Excuse me, darlin’. I’ve got to see a man about a shirt. Tell Jo 'hi' for me.”

“Well, the sale has a priceless collection of samurai swords,” Parker waved at Claudia, reaching over Hardison’s fingers to type a few keys.

“Babe do I look done?” Hardison asked no one in particular, rolling his eyes.

“Well, since you’re busy, guess I’m heading to New York,” Claudia saluted just as the screen went dark and her Farnsworth stated making a racket.

She closed down her laptop and reached for the Farnsworth, flipping it open to Artie’s face.

“Let me guess, something hinky happening in New York?” She asked.

“Right, yes. I’ve booked your tickets. Wake Steve. You leave in an hour and--.”

“Be careful. I know Art,” she smiled.

Artie nodded, pointedly pushed his glasses up his nose and closed his Farnsworth.

***

“Why do you have a sawed-off shotgun at an estate sale?” Jinxy asked, face a suspicious frown, Tesla fixed on her while keeping an eye on the levitating piano in the corner of the room.

“Says the dude holding something that doesn’t even look like a real gun,” the woman--blonde, gorgeous, flannel adorned and with a stubborn set to her jaw--said, eyeing them both with a look that seemed to say, “Great. Civilians.

“But still. A shotgun! What do you plan to shoot with a shotgun!?” Claudia asked.

“A possible poltergeist or something malevolent. It’s loaded with rock salt. What are you two idiots doing here with toy guns?” The woman asked and then tackled both of them to the floor as the piano hurled itself into the wall behind them with an off-key thunk.

“Does that sound like a song to either of you?” Jinxy asked.

“Why is a possessed piano playing a Sousa march?” the blonde asked.

“You didn't see any sheet music around did you?” Claudia asked no one in particular. Nothing is ever easy, she thought, dryly.

“You thinking a tandem deactivation?” Jinx asked, reaching for Claudia's backpack she'd dropped once they'd been cornered by a floating piano.

“A few pages in the upstairs ballroom,” the woman answered. “What do you mean by deactivation?”

“Great, running for it. Just what I wanted,” Claudia grumbled.

“You don't just want to goo bomb the piano first?” Steve asked.

“And waste our goo bomb!” Claudia scowled.

“My life is more of a Twilight Zone episode than usual,” the blonde muttered.

“Hi, I'm Claudia and this is Jinxy,” Claudia beamed. “Call me old fashioned, but I like to know the names of people I'm getting ready to run for sheet music with.”

“Jo Harvelle,” the woman, Jo, smiled just a twitch. “I take it the two of you aren't hunters.”

“Hunters?” Jinxy's eyebrows looked like they wanted to leave his face.

“Nope,” Claudia confirmed. “I'm guessing you've never run into with any other warehouse agents.”

“Can't say as I have,” Jo looked amused. Maybe even like she was giving Claudia a once over. Or like she was trying to decide if Claudia would be the first to trip. Claudia would be totally on board with trading one liners with her after the artifacts had been neutralized. Wait. Jo.

“Eliot Spencer says 'hi'!” Claudia said pulling out a bag large enough to neutralize sheet music as Steve got a good handle on the goo bomb.

“You know Spencer?” Jo asked, smiling.

“Of course I do. Everyone needs to know a compact badass,” Claudia grinned.

“Okay, bonding about badassery later,” Jinx said. “Running for the ballroom via the north stairs on three!”

After the artifacts were neutralized, the piano was loaded into a truck to be shipped back to South Dakota and tales of Eliot Spencer punching things in the face were exchanged.

“You know,” Jo said, “there's another estate sale in Starling City that I'd been thinking of checking out, but I don't really want to after today.”

“Once you get covered in goo, it's hard to go back,” Claudia said.

Steve snorted.

“Something like that.”Jo said, amused.

“That sounded way dirtier out loud than it did in my head,” Claudia groaned, just as her Farnsworth started ringing.

“I bet that's about Starling,” Steve said, flipping his Farnsworth open and chatting with Artie.

“Want to tag along?” Claudia asked.

“I think I'll leave the government work for the experts,” Jo answered, sharing a smile with Claudia. “But I’ll give you my number in case it’s my kind of thing.”

***

“No way!” Claudia beamed pulling Felicity into a hug, chattering all the while. “I hadn't realized you were still in Starling. You've not been on the guild.”

“Claudia! How have you been? It's so good to see you,” Felicity Smoak matched her enthusiasm.

“This is Felicity?” Jinxy asked. “Small world.”

“I take it there's a story there,” the man standing off to the side of Felicity said.

“More than one,” Steve said. “I think I might have heard them all on the flight here. Agent Steve Jinx.”

“Oliver Queen,” he held out his hand to shake. “Should we take this into a restaurant so the girls can ignore us while we look fondly on?”

“That sounds great. I've run from two flying pianos today,” Steve said agreeably, helping herd the two girls, who'd barely paused to breathe, into a nearby bistro.

***

“Maybe we should just turn the Zeus statue to dust,” Steve suggested as they made their way out the Warehouse door.

“Can you imagine how hard Artie would frown if that statue had such an accident?” Claudia asked. “I can just hear the lecture about dust being everywhere already, not to mention the cosmic ramifications, blah-dee-blah.”

Claudia and Steve crossed their arms across their chests and waited for their visitors to notice them.

“Doctor, why on earth are we in the Badlands of Earth this century? Why would the Tardis dump us here?” the redhead girl asked. Scottish, Claudia noticed, with a really nice dark plaid skirt.

“Pond, I have a perfectly good explanation for this,” the man, Doctor, said, brandishing what Claudia was pretty sure was a screw driver.

“That's what you always say,” the girl muttered, turning and stopping with, “Oh!”

“Oh? What oh?” the Doctor asked turning and then pointing at Claudia and Steve. “Well just how long do you plan on standing there?”

“This long apparently,” Claudia said. “Nice spaceship.”

“It's not a spaceship,” the Doctor countered.

“Lie,” Steve said.

“Fascinating,” the Doctor said. The girl rolled her eyes.

“Nice to see another ginger,” the girl said, extending a hand and walking over. “Amy Pond and that git is the Doctor.”

“I'm Claudia and that's Steve and we're both reluctant to let you inside,” she greeted.

“Especially since we don't have a vat of goo big enough for your spaceship,” Steve agreed.

“He looks like someone who will touch everything in sight too,” Claudia went on.

“Hey, not nice Pond and you two smart alecs,” the Doctor grumbled. “Depends on how much everything there is to touch, anyways.”

“Yeah, we're not letting you inside,” Steve decided.

“Now, now, Mr. Jinx, no need to be rude,” Ms. Frederic said stepping out from behind the Tardis.

“Did she just appear out of the desert?” Amy asked the Doctor in a stage whisper.

“She does that,” Claudia matched her tone.

And that's how they all ended up running from a flying piano in the warehouse after accidentally activating a portal to the other end of the universe. Claudia decided that they were officially never keeping anything for the Stargate Program again, certainly not if that alien tech can be turned on with a sonic screwdriver. Just no.