The tall man kicks the door, clearly intending it to swing open dramatically.
Unfortunately, it's a pull door. The tall man rubs the door with the top of his sneaker, trying to remove the scuff mark. "Smooth," says the normal-sized man. "You ever hear of a fire code?" He pulls open the door and ushers his partner inside.
"This is a quaint English village. They don't have fires. I don't even think they have codes."
The desk sergeant squints at them. "Fire?"
"No fire, my friend, just the US of A." Two badges are proffered. Darien Fawkes. Bobby Hobbes. INS.
The desk sergeant looks at them for a second. He's holding his place in a book with his finger. He leans back and yells, "Angel! Americans!"
"Our contact," Hobbes mutters to his partner, the lanky and impulsive Fawkes.
"BRILLIANT! Americans! Did you bring your guns?" A large, ebullient man bursts through the metal station door.
"Federal agents," the desk sergeant says.
"Police? American coppers?" The man sounds ready to explode. "Five-Oh!"
Fawkes meets Hobbes's eyes. "He thought we would be armed even if we're not police?"
"I've seen ever so many films!" He makes guns with his fingers and poses like Travis Bickle.
"Ah," Fawkes says.
A smallish, ginger man slips through the door beside the other cop. "Ah. The Americans. You're expected. Please, come back to my office."
"Nicholas! Why didn't you tell me we were having Americans by! I would have brought my DVDs to be autographed!"
A door slams open. The chubby cop is pulled in. The door slams closed.
"Please," Nicholas Angel says. "Just this way." He doesn't seem bothered by the shouts behind the door.
It's a quaint English cop shop with quaint English teacups and a bigass quaint English German Shepherd that Hobbes subtly dodges, because big dogs are nobody's friend. "Seven and a half, nine for the pair," a quaint English lady cop says to the geezer holding the dog.
"Senyer murcur appag uppa duff," he replies. She laughs like a howler monkey. Hobbes thought English dames were supposed to be demure.
Fawkes elbows him and eyebrows meaningfully--she means us. Hobbes lowers his brow back--no way! Fawkes ear tugs an emphatic yes. Stick to the job, Hobbes's nose replies.
"How can we help you, gentlemen?" Angel sits behind his desk. His eyes flicker to Hobbes's right; the enthusiastic cop is back, quivering in the doorway.
"Lord Sandford isn't Lord Sandford." Bobby flips the photos onto Angel's desk. "Meet Arnaud De Fehrn."
"De Phone?" the chubby cop says.
"De Fern," Fawkes says.
"De Fehrn," Angel says with a perfect Swiss Miss accent.
"ANYWAY," Bobby continues. "Arnaud De Fehrn. International terrorist and a man of ten thousand faces. He's been impersonating the Baron."
"*Awesome*," the chubby cop breathes.
Angel raises an eyebrow. "But wouldn't Homeland Security chase this man? Or the army? Why INS?"
"Hey," Hobbes says. "I don't tell you how to run Parliament and you don't tell me how to run anti-terrorist operations."
"Terrorism affects us all," Fawkes says. "We were initially following him for visa violations and it escalated."
Angel doesn't buy it, it's clear on his face, but he just looks at the photo. "This man looks nothing like the Baron," he says.
"That's just what makes him so unexpected!" the chubby cop exclaims. "Stealth, surprise!"
"What do you need from us?" Angel asks.
"He knows us," Fawkes says. "So we need you as the face man. Men. Force. The face force."
"We're right behind you," Hobbes says.
"I see. Have a seat, please. I'll just need to see your gun permits."
Hobbes and Fawkes look at each other.
"And your British driving license."
The guns were locked in the evidence room to be shipped back to the States. A local shop rented them two bikes. "This is humiliating!" Hobbes says. "This is not conduct appropriate to federal agents!"
Fawkes glides in circles around him. "Hey, check it." He tips the bike up onto its front wheel and bounces.
"Showoff." Hobbes is sticking to the job, surveying the town. Not that it is going to be very effective with him being clearly visible and all. "Can you at least quicksilver me?"
"Yeah, when we get closer. It's not going to last long."
Hobbes stops short, leaning on his foot. "You know what we need?"
"And this isn't humiliating?" Fawkes asks.
"This, my friend, is efficient. Makin' that turn."
They lean into the turn. They're on a tandem bike.
"Your glutes do look good in the shorts, though," Fawkes says.
"Eyes on the job. We're going to circle the grounds and then make our way through the castle itself. Crap, un-invisible, un-invisible!" Hobbes just spotted two of the local cops. He screeches them to a stop behind a bush and Fawkes shakes the quicksilver off them and the bike. They take off again, at a more sedate pace.
"Gentlemen!" Angel hails them. He's on a tandem bike too, with Excited Cop. Hobbes never did get his name. "We're here to help. Danny and I often take this route." They take off together.
Hobbes pushes off as well, not waiting for Fawkes to catch up. "That was my *shin*," Fawkes mutters in his ear.
"Life moves fast, my friend." Angel and Danny--*what* is his name--are strong bikers. Hobbes is puffing a bit, keeping up without Fawkes helping.
"Oh, we are not losing to the limeys," Fawkes says, and starts pedaling in earnest. They pull ahead. Hobbes catches Angel's eye.
They tear up the gravel. Fawkes's abnormally long legs give him leverage, but the Brits have determination, Hobbes gives them that. Angel has a certain steel of eye that Hobbes recognizes from his glances in the mirror. Like hell they're winning this, though. American spirit licked them two hundred years ago and it's licking them now.
He and Fawkes lean into the curve. They're aerodynamic, streamlined. Danny is a drag on the Brit bike. Wide load. Hobbes, of course, is all muscle. He hears Angel breathing like a steam engine behind them. Hah!
They both charge past the castle gates. "Swan! Swan!" Fawkes yells. Swan? Swan! Hobbes swerves in plenty of time, bypassing the avian hazard like a thief in the night. Castle corner! They lean into the curve.
"Baron!" Fawkes yells.
"Baron!" Danny yells.
"BARON!" Hobbes bellow menacingly.
"Now!" Angel yells.
Hobbes swerves around the faux Baron; meanwhile, Danny plants his feet in the gravel, screeching their bike to a halt, and Angel launches off the bike like a red-headed torpedo. He nuts Arnaud in the chest. They tumble end over end. Arnaud's Baron mask flies off into the gravel.
Arnaud gasps. "Sic semper tyrannis!" Angel cries, handcuffing him.
"Merde!" Arnaud shouts.
"Oh, not bad, but a bit posh," Danny says.
"Really? I thought it was classic."
Hobbes and Fawkes de-bike. "We'll take him from here," Hobbes says.
"Did you think you would get away with it?" Fawkes asks.
Arnaud sighs. "Suck my balls," he says.
"Ooer! Aren't we rude." Danny points.
"Sergeant Butterman, please escort our colleagues and prisoner back to the station." Angel whips his sunglasses out of his pocket and slides them onto his face with a certain flair. "I have work to do." He strides off.
"Honestly," Arnaud says. "I'm happy to go home. This town is getting to me."
"So!" Butterman bounds over and grabs Arnaud by the arms. "Have you ever shot a gun up in the air and gone aaaaa?" he asks.
Fawkes and Hobbes look at each other.
"Have you ever shot two guns at the same time?"
"I have!" Butterman says. He grins and pedals. Arnaud is on the back of his bike, handcuffed to the frame. Surprisingly, he seems to be helping with the pedaling. "Have you ever charged evildoers with a barricade of shopping trolleys?"
"Smell that bracing country air," Fawkes says to Hobbes's back.
Butterman asks, meditatively, "Have you ever--"
"No!" Hobbes says.
"You didn't know what I was going to say!"
"Yeah, Bobby, you didn't know what he was going to say!" Fawkes says.
"You heartless bastard, Bobby Hobbes," Arnaud says. "Sergeant, have you ever looked across a prison table at a member of your family, knowing the bars would part you forever?"
"Have you ever held a man's life in the palm of your hand, knowing that a blink, a whisper, a hint would kill him?"
"Yes," Butterman says, looking impressed.
"Join me, Danny! Forget ginger-knob, he doesn't appreciate you! Together we could rule Sandford!"
"Oh, I couldn't do that. I love him," Butterman says. "Blimey, you Americans are lucky. You have the best villains." He shakes his head and pedals.
"Curses," Arnaud mutters.
"Can we stay longer?" Fawkes asks Hobbes.