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The Practicalities of Shopping

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There was one egg in the refrigerator this morning. Josef struggles to remember what happened to reduce them from the six they’d had the evening before to one. He’d poached two for the children and William had made an omelet the other day. As a family they’d made brownies together the other evening – and he had snuck the last brownie with a glass of milk in the middle of the previous night. Two had turned out to be smoke bombs that had been useful when the Octopus Gang had invaded their home and tried to steal the Renault Sapphire on its way to its new home in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Work/life balances. No one knew how to strike them as well as he and William had.

Well, he could call his minions and request they pick up a carton once the children were off to Blofield’s School for Genius Criminal Minds. There would be fifteen minutes before the bus arrived, and he could be at the store and back in time for his teleconference. He supposed he was pushing things a bit, but breakfast was an extravaganza in his house, and hungriness a distraction that could result in capture or entombment in a block of cheddar.

He’d have to go to his market on the way to his first meeting with the Villain’s Union. Well, he could pencil it in, but that would mean he’d need to juggle around his discussion with the Poison Council, and whatever summit the Hero’s League wanted to have at the end of the month.

Ahh, the wages of supervillainy.

Christine and Edsel were sent off on the bus with kisses, and he gave William an appreciative kiss before sending him along on his afternoon mission – the Queen had asked for him specifically, and you didn’t turn the Queen down for anything. Especially not a mid-morning brunch. It simply couldn’t be helped. He sighed and made a note, deciding to make cake for the children instead, promising himself he’d text William about the eggs before the meeting with the Poison Council. There were few things in his life that could be broken.

Well, except for eggs.






The Poison Council conference broke down in a hail of laser fire and bitter recriminations, naturally. Josef was on the floor, shooting at Maxwell the Mutilator, when his cell phone rang.

“Darling,” he said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your timing’s off.”

William gasped. “Never in my life have I ever been off-beat,” he said. “What’s the matter?”

“Maxwell the Mutilator is trying to gain control of the Quartz of the Quixotics,” said Josef. “What’s going on? I hear an airplane’s engine!”

“Oh, nothing important – I’m about to dive out of this plane and parachute into the lair of Nazis to rescue the Queen’s grandson from a blood sacrifice.”

“A typical Tuesday, then?”

“You know the routine,” William sighed. “About the eggs! I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to grab them. If I don’t, I’ll make contact on the flight back. I promise that I’ll be back before the children arrive home from school.”

“But darling, I’m swamped…”

“I know, and so am I! But I’ll be back and with you soon. All of my love, dearest.”

Josef swallowed. “Yes, all of my love,” he said calmly.

The last thought Josef had before he was knocked unconscious by Maxwell himself was that he could really use a hand.






The world swam back into sight with a nauseating thud. As Josef tried to stretch and waken, he realized his arms were pinioned behind him – tied tight.

He would not call for help. Instead, he rubbed his bonds stubbornly against the metal rungs of the chair, trying to make the ropes give. Josef felt as if he’d been repeating that simple gesture for hours when a cry and the sizzling of metal rending drew his attention to the door.

He thought he was dreaming when William entered the room, and then he felt his bonds give and he was in his husband’s arms.

“You found me,” Josef sighed, holding William to his chest. For a long moment, he was held in return. “How?”

“Your men radioed that that Mutilator fellow had kidnapped you. It wasn’t a hard thing to search for you.” Then, after a curious pause, he asked, “Did you think my job would ever be more important than you?”

Josef closed his eyes tightly, shaking his head fiercely. He clung to William for a moment – only a moment. Who could blame him for taking some time to savor the form and poise of his handsome husband? “No, never.”

William smirked. “Darling, please don’t grab my ass while I’m distracted and holding a ray gun.”

He hadn’t meant to, but he was. “I wasn’t grabbing your ass; I was correcting your pleats.” Josef tugged once – and pulled free a dagger strapped to William’s hip, embedding it in the forehead of an advancing soldier.

“Ahh yes – correcting my pleats by saving my life.” Josef straightened up, only to be yanked closer. The sizzling sound of the ray gun filled his ear as William shot several more soldiers. Josef kicked one away and grabbed a crossbow from the back of a defeated soldier.

“Well,” Josef said. “I suppose we do have a Mutilator to defeat. And perhaps he has some eggs. If he does I’ll make a fine cake with them while I drink his blood.”

“Glorious. I was so looking forward to your sponge cake,” William said.

Josef smirked. “Ahh, that’s why I tried to brainwash you. And then married you.”

“Yes, and in the correct order,” William said.

Josef squared his shoulders and pressed himself to his husband’s back. With a nod of his head, they kicked the door down and began to fire.






They made it home four minutes before the bus arrived with Christine and Edsel. They both still stunk of smoke and gunpowder, but the children were used to their parent’s rather outrageous day jobs, and the sight and scent of them post-battle only mildly disturbed them.

“How was the fight, daddy?” asked Edsel, as William took his backpack and set aside his homework.

“Very good,” Josef said. Christine hung her arms around his neck, and worried about the tiny scorch mark on his cheek.

“Come now, darlings,” William said, taking Christine from Josef’s arms. “I have a sponge cake ready to go into the oven. Wouldn’t you like to decorate it?”

Josef smiled at him as the children squealed. Another day had been saved, and they had enough eggs left over for a full omelet breakfast in the morning.