fic post: A Boy's Book of Practical Magic to Mystify, Baffle and Entertain (hot fuzz)
TITLE: A Boy's Book of Practical Magic to Mystify, Baffle and Entertain
FANDOM: Hot Fuzz
WORD COUNT: Approximately 2,950 British Standard WordsTM. Some settling may occur.
RATING: PG for goddamn swearing
WARNINGS: Movie spoilers, DVD extra spoilers, American spelling
SUMMARY: For this trick, he'll need a volunteer from the pavement. You, sir, the man with the fucking enormous knife in your chest! Don't be shy, now.
NOTES: Crit is love.
DISCLAIMER: Hot Fuzz belongs to those damn punk kids at RogueCorpCo.
The NWA were some of the strangest customers the Crown Prosecution Service had ever dealt with. They were monsters all, few showing even a little remorse or regret, except perhaps for having been caught. But they were friendly, cooperative monsters.
None of them denied what they had done, and any confusion over who had done what and when arose from spotty memories, rather than attempts at concealment or shifting of blame. Some of them helpfully provided diaries.
"Now, when it says there, 'Deliver package to George Merchant,'" Bernard Cooper explained carefully during one interview, "that's code. What it really means is, kill George Merchant. Y'see?"
They were, the members of the CPS agreed, a spooky bunch of old fuckers.
The first time he visits his father in prison, Danny stands in the waiting room, shifting nervously from foot to foot, looking round suddenly at every strange noise. What with it being a prison and all, there are a lot of strange noises. His head only makes them stranger.
"This would be a lot easier if I could just hate him and not go," he tells Nicholas Angel
Nicholas looks up from a moldering issue of OK!, pretending to relax in hopes of making Danny feel better. "I don't think it would."
"Yeah. You're probably right."
The door opens, and a guard calls Danny's name.
Nicholas pats him on the shoulder. "Enjoy the strip search."
Nicholas grins at him.
The guard ushers him through.
"You fuck--" Danny calls, but the door shuts between them, and he can only offer Nicholas two fingers from behind the glass and wire window.
Danny was still nervous every time he did the next bit. Not as much as the first time, when he had no idea what to expect, and could only think of Midnight Express. But still. Nervous. The sound of steel doors slamming was the most final sound imaginable.
They never omitted the patdown, despite his being a policema--officer (not a strip search -- Nicholas only thought he was funny, and Danny had vowed to pay him back one day). The patdown always made him giggle. Danny would like to chalk this up to nerves, but the sad truth was, it just plain tickled. There was the distant rumble of hundreds of male voices, muttering and shouting and whispering.
At least the place was clean, and coldly bright. He had yet to see, for example, a rat scuttling off into the shadows with a human hand in its jaws. And that was good.
Part of him also thought that a rat scuttling off into the shadows with a human hand in its jaws would be kind of cool.
They're at the castle, where Dad's special club meets. Danny has absolutely no idea what to do, but he knows he's going to do something. He has to. It would be nice if he knew what.
"Angel. He knows too much," Simon Skinner says darkly. Then he sort of half grins and says, "Good God, I just said 'He knows too much.' Heh."
Dad shakes his head. "He'll have to be dealt with."
Dealt with? Danny thinks. Dealt with? What the fuck, Dad? You are talking about one of your officers, about Nicholas, like he's ants in a kitchen.
Skinner actually grins. "And you said, 'He'll have to be dealt--'"
"Thank you, Simon," Dad says.
Skinner looks a bit put out. Pouty, even.
A voice comes from somewhere inside Danny. "Let me do it." Whoah. What?
"Oh, son, you don't --"
"I do, Dad." He decides that he never wants to hear the end of that sentence. "He's--" Danny almost says, He's mine. "He's my partner. That means he's my responsibility." For the first time that he can remember, Danny Butterman feels big and fierce and scary. He feels dangerous. This must be what a cat feels like when it puffs up and goes all bristly. Or one of those fish. What do you call those fish that puff up?
Dad looks at him for a long moment. Then, from inside his cloak -- his cloak, for fuck's sake! -- he produces a large hunting knife. He hands it to Danny, looking solemn.
Well, fantastic, Dad! You always go around packing cutlery? Got a garrote in your shirt collar? Flexi-saw in your hatband? Nunchucks? Shuriken?
They exchange nods. His Dad looks proud of him. This is eight hundred kinds of fucked up.
Danny gives him a darkish smile. "Thanks, Dad. I won't forget this."
He never does.
"I brought your birthday present, but they're x-raying it for razor blades or blotter acid or something. It's The Virginian."
Frank looked pleased. "I haven't read that in years! Thank you, son."
"If you send me a list, I can find whatever you like. Or if the library's in need of anything..."
"Thank you. I will."
Simon Skinner was a few seats down, chatting with a relation or a solicitor. Or a solicitor who was a relation. Or a really conservative pole dancer.
Danny grinned and offered a small wave. "Hey, Sissy."
Skinner glowered at him.
Danny's grin only broadened.
Frank's eyes were actually twinkling. "I'm sure he's glad to see you, deep down."
"Nah, he's not."
"No. He's not."
For Danny Butterman's 10th birthday, his Auntie Jackie got him a Paul Daniels TV Magic Tricks set. Danny never had any ambition toward to the stage -- too much dressing up involved, and more ironing than even a copper had to do. But he got a good grasp (no pun intended) of sleight of hand, and even pursued further study.
He moved from prestidigitation to small grotesqueries involving homemade blood bags or -- in a pinch -- sachets of ketchup. At school he was the go-to guy if you wanted a Halloween costume with a cleaver through the head, or your form's play needed a stage knifing. He could make a leaf blower into a prop chainsaw, or produce 50p from behind a small child's ear.
As he got older, there was less call for that sort of thing, but he never lost the basics. Oh God My Eye still made a good party piece.
Good thing, as it turned out.
Danny had hit that point of the visit where the reality of the situation was too much. His stomach was full of goblins, or possibly elves, and they were packing little tiny cattle prods.
Even worse, for a moment, behind the glass, Dad was actually Dad-like, looking at Danny with concern. "Are you all right?"
"I just don't like seeing you here, is all."
Frank gave him a small, dry smile. "Well, there was that small matter of the multiple murders. I can't say that my confinement is entirely unfair."
"You're...it's just...should you be this calm about it?"
"Oh, son, when you get to be my age, you'll understand. It could be so much worse. A man's got to learn to roll with the punches."
"Yeah. Speaking of... Did you walk into a door, then?" Frank was sporting a rather distinguished, if that's the word, black eye. Great, Danny thought. One more thing to worry about. Is prison like school? If I report this to somebody, will that only get him done over more?
"Tch. It's nothing. I had to explain the rules of civilized conduct to a young gentleman in the TV room, emphasizing that one should not, if one wishes to enjoy one's stay here, mess with the Boys from Sandford or their friends."
"Really?" Danny was impressed in spite of himself. "I kind of figured it were one of the screws."
"They are guards, and we address them by name. We're murderers, son, not savages. And if someone has followed the correct procedure, and reserved the television to watch Frankenstein's Cat, then by God he will be allowed to watch it without interference."
Danny had to laugh. "Keh."
"Don't touch him!" Danny crouches over Nicholas in the dark of the Church...sidewalk...arch-y...thing. There's probably a proper name for it, like there is for every other fucking bit of the church, but Danny can only think of "uvula" and "crenellation," and they're both almost certainly wrong, and possibly quite rude. Keh. Uvula.
"Don't touch him," he says again. The members of the NWA obligingly keep back.
This is a lot less difficult than it ought to be. Danny's angrier than he's ever been in his life. He's also very frightened, and sorry for scaring Nicholas so badly, and, God help him, ashamed of himself for conning his Dad. Worse, he's a heartbeat away from giggling uncontrollably, which, given the circumstances, would be fucking difficult to explain.
Nicholas stares up at at him, unblinking, the knife still in his chest. More precisely, it's (mostly) in the notebook in his breast pocket.
One last magic trick. For this, he'll need a volunteer from the pavement. You, sir, the man with the fucking enormous knife in your chest! Don't be shy, now. Danny passes his hand over Nicholas' eyes, and Nicholas is smart enough to shut them. They're probably starting to hurt. Not as much as the poor fucker's knees likely do, after hitting the cement, but still.
Danny speaks very quietly, through clenched teeth. "Shut up. Lie still. I'll get you out of here." It sounds more like "Shug, zill, leggyuowghere," but Nicholas has spent enough time around Constable Walker by now to get it.
Nicholas is, not to put too fine a point on it, kind of dinky, so picking him up and carrying him isn't a problem. He's approximately the same size as Saxon, but without the fur and, Danny hopes, drool.
Danny has to take care that the knife doesn't go in further and hurt him, or fall bloodlessly onto the cobbles and give the whole thing away.
Dad puts a hand on Danny's shoulder. "We can put him in the crypt for now."
Danny is horrified, and doesn't have to act at all. "I ain't leavin' him alone in there. He deserves better." He has no idea about the crypt's other occupants, which is just as well. Incoherent screaming wouldn't help at all.
"I'll take care of it, Dad. Nobody will find him. It's...it's best you don't know where he is, anyway."
So Dad follows him to his car, and obligingly pops the boot. Danny folds Nicholas in, none too gently, since Dad is right next to him, looking down at the corpse. Danny puts the lid down, hoping Nicholas' fingers aren't in the way.
As he drives out of Sandford, Danny realizes that everything he said was true. Even after all this, he can't bring himself to lie to his Dad.
It was their third or fourth drive up the M5 to Happy Prison Fun Time, and Danny was having his usual pre-visit massive conniption spaz freakout. This time, he was trying to tell Nicholas that he really didn't have to come along and Danny really would be fine by himself and it was really unnecessary for him to waste a perfectly good day doing this. Really. "I mean, I know you hate him."
Nicholas looked surprised. "I don't hate him."
Danny blinked. "You don't?"
"I'm horrified by what he did. I'm angry that I let him sucker me. I still don't understand why any of it happened."
"Wait. You don't?"
Nicholas shook his head.
Danny's eyes widened, and he made a noise that was vaguely like a laugh. "Oh, thank fuck! I don't either. I thought it was 'cause I'm stupid."
"That's not the reason. Also, you're not stupid," Nicholas added quickly.
"No, you fucking idiot, you're not."
"Oh." Danny considered this.
"Anyway, I don't hate Frank."
"Huh. 'Cos he hates you. A lot."
It was always cold in the visiting room. Even the chairs. Danny could always tell it was nearly time to go when his arse started to turn numb.
"Before you go, son...a favor?"
"Please tell the squad that it was very wrong of me to call them -- and, by inclusion, you of course -- incompetent flatfoots. It was unprofessional and inappropriate, and, considering our current relative positions, obviously untrue."
"I will, Dad."
"And I suppose I really ought to apologize for holding a gun to your head."
"It's okay, Dad."
"It's just that sometimes, in the heat of the moment, one is often forced to make do with the resources at hand..."
"I understand, Dad." He didn't, of course, but there was no point in arguing about it.
"I'm fairly certain I would not have shot you."
"I should have shot that little prick Angel."
"Daaaaad, you're being a cunt."
Danny always walks out in a daze, feeling as though he's been half-drowned, or dragged back in time.
But Nicholas is always waiting, thank fuck. He'll have his nose in a book (he'd learned from the first time that Her Majesty's Prison Service was not to be relied on for entertainment), or be scribbling away in his Official Inspector Notebook, or chatting with the guard on duty, or barking into his mobile, probably at an Andy. Danny sees him, and remembers that he's not 12 years old anymore -- or 20, for that matter -- and is more than just Frank Butterman's boy, and he can think again. Or not think, if he wants.
"All right?" Nicholas always asks.
"Dunno," Danny always replies.
They walk out in silence, then sit on the bonnet of the car until Danny remembers that it's his car, and he has the keys.
"How is he?" Nicholas asked.
They were halfway home now, Nicholas driving. Danny played with the radio and chattered as he decompressed.
"I..." Danny struggled for an appropriate phrase. "I think in his head, he's still wearing the cape."
"How are you?"
I am completely fucking hatstand. "Not sure."
"Fair enough." He looked at Danny with that odd, mild expression that only Danny ever got to see.
"It's so weird, talking to him. One minute he's all normal like, then the next he comes out with some mad thing, and it's like being pelted with baby frogs. Or watching Vic Reeves sing. You just don't know how you're supposed to feel about it."
"I don't think there's a way you're supposed to feel," Nicholas said.
Danny sighed. "I dunno. I mean, is it possible that people go through their whole lives just...completely fucking mad, and nobody else notices?"
Danny snorted. "Okay, we got to work on your whole brutal honesty thing."
"I'm glad you're here. You didn't have to come."
Angel gave him a small smile. "I'd only worry more if I weren't here."
"You're gonna ask me who Vic Reeves is, right?"
"Well not now, no."
"He started talking about television license fees."
"Really. He did this whole speech about single person households, and multi-person households, and Ofcom and LASSY."
"Is that a special interest of his?"
"Not that I've ever seen. Mind you, he had a fuckload of special interests that I never knew about. So I was sitting there watching him talk about the Wireless Telegraphy Act, and just..."
"Freaking?" Nicholas suggested.
"Freaking. Yeah." But then Danny smiled a little. "It was okay, though. 'Cos that was when I got it."
"I was talkin' to my Dad." And he grinned. He couldn't help it. "That's why I went in the first place. I went to talk to my Dad."
Nicholas grinned back. "There you go."
"Who is of course a looney convicted murderer and fuck it, Nicholas, my brain keeps going in circles."
"It's like I'm a goldfish in a bowl. And the bowl's got a little castle and...and a..." he mimed an enormous globe shape around his head.
"Diver! And I go around and it's all, Castle! Diver! Castle! Diver! over an' over an'--"
"It will get better."
"I hope so."
"It will. Have I ever lied to you?"
Danny looked at him sideways. "Not that I can prove."
The bit about not hating Frank was a complete lie, actually, but Danny will probably never find that out.
"Oh, and Sissy was there. He said hey."
Nicholas smiled. "He did not."
"Well, he would have done if he'd thought about it."
"Only if it's the kind of 'hey' that means 'get stuffed.'"
Mum should look odd, or distressed, or something, but she doesn't. "I'm stepping out for a bit."
Dramatic convention suggests that there should be a strange light in her eye or a quaver in her voice. But she only looks Mum-like. And it isn't unusual for her to nip out at short notice. There's always a committee meeting, or somebody's new baby to see, or emergency gardening advice needed.
Really, she ought to look odd.
Danny is doing his homework in front of an old Minder repeat. "Bye, Mum!"
After a bit, Danny asked, "Hey, Nicholas?"
"How come you never talk to your family?"
Nicholas looked at him oddly. "We're talking right now."
It was a good thing Nicholas was driving, really. Because it took Danny a few moments to process this statement.
Then he kind of lost his shit.
Some of you may recognize bits from the sandfordpolice WiP meme from a while back. Because this took fucking forever. I don't even want to know how long. Way back to halfway through the last Moleskine. But it's staked, beheaded, and buried at a crossroads now, even if I'm not done whining about it. Whine. Meh.