Pairings: For the most part canon. Eventual Jelsa, but beforehand there will possibly be others.
Rating: R/M because people are dying so censorship is a much lesser issue of debate
Disclaimer: Send your appreciation and respect to the minds of Disney, DreamWorks, Bluth, and pretty much any animation company that is not me. The original concept of this story is not mine: Fables belongs to DC/Vertigo Comics. I'm simply reinterpreting a pre-existing story, like pretty much everyone else on this website. Song and lyrics, "I Don't Like Mondays," is by The Boomtown Rats.
Thanks: To SashaWren and IGdude117 because my writing is by no means perfect and there's always something to improve. Seriously, give them major props and thank you's.
Chapter 1 – "In Which Elsa Hides Behind Her Handkerchief"
"I Don't Like Mondays"
Once upon a time dozens of worlds were in existence. Within these worlds lived great heroes, heroines, princes, princesses, dragons, villains, sorcerers; more magic than one person could imagine. These worlds were so busy with themselves, that they paid no heed when one day, the Land of the Lions fell to a dark power. Most were completely unaware, but those with powers that traveled through space and time noticed but did nothing.
After all, these problems were the responsibility of others.
One world fell after another, and only those who were lucky enough to have the means to find passage to other worlds continued to safety. By the time their cries were loud enough to be taken with serious consideration, the Great Conqueror had seized control of almost all worlds.
Desperate, the most powerful and adept of magical beings pooled their resources together to find a world untouched by the Great Conqueror. One such place remained removed from the Great Conqueror's grasp and they managed to shepherd refugees from hundreds of worlds to Earth. At first fear gripped the refugees: what was stopping the Great Conqueror from taking over this world? Yet the immigrants quickly realized that there was something different about this world: there was no magic. The inhabitants had no access to real magical study, animals could not talk, and all of the natural energy used for incantation was virtually untouched. They realized that this world was so mundane that it was less an issue of the Great Conqueror not able to gain control, and more of him having little interest. With that realization, the magic users who would eventually make up Floor Seven, or the Seventh Floor, were able to stake protective barriers around the new world to create a comfortable, temporary stronghold until the time these pilgrims could return home.
With new determination and a sliver of hope, these foreigners came to create a base, a town within the city of Boston, Massachusetts located in North America. They called it Fabletown, named after discovering for unknown reasons, interpretations of these magical beings' stories, sometimes called fables, seemed to carry over to the original inhabitants of this planet. As centuries passed, sister towns cropped up to make space and maintain portals that allowed entry to this world. Fabletown, however, continued as the parent beacon of power and order, and is thus where this narrative begins.
Given the hundreds, by this point thousands, of Fables that have found their way into this mundane place, governments had to be created to keep order, peace, and their secret safe from the rest of the world. One such Fable who was nominated to take great responsibility in the created government, was the reluctant Queen Elsa, nominated as one of the few women who actually had training and practice in running a country.
Originally Elsa had intended to keep to the Farm a great plot of land located in Maine. It was designated for talking animals and other such creatures and magical beings that could not coexist with the Natives without raising alarm. Elsa herself was a powerful, magical being who if her feelings went unchecked, could bring an ice age to the entirety of the planet. Given the safety net The Farm provided, and she wanted to keep company with her companion Olaf who was simply too conspicuous to reside anywhere else, it was her preference. However, once her experience was recognized as a necessity, she steeled herself into resignation, and found herself placed first in position of official Event Coordinator, and then, through a series of events, took the job Deputy Mayor of Fabletown.
One such role of Deputy Mayor was to keep order; to maintain their secrets from the Mundane World, which manifested itself from time to time as listening to the problems of Fabletown citizens. Adjusting to a new culture could be difficult, and having to suppress one's magical abilities or hide them all together was a habit that even after three centuries could prove difficult for any Fable. Which was why she was currently seated with growing frustration as the entitled bickering of Beast and Belle truly begun to hit her last nerve.
"I understand the current costs of a Glamour, but is there no way to bring it down? He's not a beast all the time." Belle implored.
The two women took a moment to eye the man at the brunette's side, his normally handsome features distorted as short horns protruded from his forehead, his jaw seemingly too large for his face, and brown hair thickening beyond what was humanly acceptable across his skin. The scowl on the semi-monster's face deepened considerably under their silent scrutiny.
Elsa exhaled for an attempt at a meditative breath. Balancing role of profession with friendship was trying. "Yes, but as I have stated in the past, Belle, it's out of my control. I'm sorry, but if the Seventh Floor is not willing to make a deal, it is not for me to intervene—"
"But we can't afford a Glamour," Belle pleaded and Elsa felt sorry. "You know we weren't able to escape with our fortune and –"
"You're da one who if Depudy Mayor," Beast half shouted, and he probably would have raised his voice even more if not for the fact that it hurt him to open his mouth since his teeth were currently too big. "Do fomefhing!"
"Beast!" Belle hissed.
A younger Elsa would have flinched under the intimidating man's glare and growls, but given the experiences she had endured and the number of centuries she had lived, it would take more than an active pouter to make her react. One does not escape from the clutches of the Great Conqueror without a backbone.
Instead, she clasped her gloved hands together, leaned further over her desk, mindful not to crumple the documents beneath her bosom, and stated calmly, "If you really want me to do something, I can simply have you escorted to the Farm." The couple's jaws dropped collectively at that option. She continued as if she did not notice, "There your transformation will not risk the Fable population and the issue of paying for a Glamour spell will be nonexistent."
Belle's lip trembled and Elsa almost apologized, remembering that Belle and Beast were normally friends when not seated on the opposite side of her desk.
"But Elsa, that's not—!"
"Thair!" Beast cut off Belle, taking his turn to lean over Elsa's desk. "Id's not my fauld I've durned indo dis dhing! Id's her fauld!" He jabbed a large hand, which that was steadily growing claws, in Belle's direction, and the woman in question had the dignity to look infuriated.
"My fault? Beast, if you would just control your temper…"
"I wouldn'd have a temper in de firsd place if every dime you became upsed, I durned indo thif!"
"Beast, I am trying, but you do these things and I, I feel the way I feel!"
"Enough!" The temperature in the room dropped, and the two guests had the intelligence, if not instinct, to bring their argument to a halt. "I'm sorry, I really am, but this is a government office, not a space where I listen to people fight!" Elsa lowered her voice as she stood, speaking more gently. "I understand your frustration regarding how this curse has developed, but in reality, the issue of greater importance is our secrecy from the Natives. You two need to get your act together or ... we'll intervene, and you won't like the decision we make for you."
The couple stood as well, but Belle's anger was now directed toward Elsa. "That's easy for you to say! You've never been married, so how can you possibly understand the difficulties of maintaining a relationship? We've been together for centuries – longer than any normal person would expect to be committed – and your last engagement ended up frozen! So don't tell us –!"
"And Elsa's time is up." Jack Frost, a lean figure whose white hair stood in stark contrast to the bright orange jumpsuit he was required to wear, sauntered between the couple and deputy, wielding his dirty mop both as a staff and barrier. Elsa was almost relieved that he decided to intervene – he was pretty good about his timing.
"Funny," he said and scratched his head as he peered around dramatically. "That rabbit is usually neurotic about keeping everyone on schedule, but since he isn't here it's my duty to say scoot." His youthful features seemed all the younger with the impish grin he adorned as he prodded at Beast using the handle of his mop. Beast took a step or two back to avoid the touch. Belle in turn seemed to have calmed enough to be quite apologetic for her outburst. Elsa dipped her head to hide the genuine hurt on her face.
"Elsa, I shouldn't –"
Jack shifted so he blocked Belle from Elsa's view. "Yeah," his shoulders sagged dramatically as if he were the one with reason to look forlorn. "I would say bringing up painful memories of someone you're supposed to call friend isn't really something you should do, either." Jack perked up and with a playful tone that lightly concealed his seriousness, continued, "But you did, and regardless of whether or not you realize you were wrong, it's time to go." With each pause Jack prodded at the couple so that by the end of his sentence, they were in the doorway.
Beast glared at Jack quite ferociously. "I fwear, if you douch me widh thad one more dime..."
The man of frost adopted a smile that would put the Cheshire Cat to shame, and with great speed and dexterity, and a combination of magic and a millennia or two of practice, he spun the mop around in his hands and jousted the dirty end of the tool in the prince's face with enough force to knock him through the doorway and onto the floor a good ten feet from where he previously stood. In the moment it took for Beast to get his bearings, Jack had much more gently, yet just as quickly nudged Belle through the door.
A pause fell as Beast and Jack locked eyes.
"Jack!" Beast roared.
The man in question wiggled his fingers—"Toodles,"—and slammed the door shut.
"Man." Jack turned back to face Elsa with a chuckle. "How you managed to keep your face straight when listening to Sunshine there – I bow to your superior sense of self control." And he bent low at the waist, using the mop for balance.
Elsa offered a small, guilty smiled behind her hand and shook her head. He wasn't wrong, but Beast also appeared to be in physical pain so it would have been callous for her to find enjoyment in his struggle. "I feel sorry for them." She had sobered from her visible amusement as he straightened, partly to maintain a certain level of professionalism and partly because she recalled Belle's words. She opted to use one hand to prop herself up against her desk, and the other to massage her temple. "And thank you for intervening, but that was technically … inappropriate. This is a public forum where Fables are allowed to make pleas for aid, even if they are," she paused to choose the right word. "Inconsiderate."
The winter spirit shifted on the balls of his feet. Elsa couldn't recall a time when he ever let himself be completely still. "Aw, Your Majesty, that was funny and you know it."
Elsa opened her eyes as she pursed her lips. "Your role is of janitorial community service, not inflammatory bouncer."
Jack smirked. "Hey, I'd say making things chill is more my thing." She scowled. "Okay, okay." Jack scratched his stomach through his bright orange jumpsuit. "But Beast was asking for it – and founded fo f'upid." He mimicked Beast's speech impediment as he strolled toward the Snow Queen. "And what? You're okay with letting people talk to you like that? If so next time I'll keep my mouth shut." No he won't.
Elsa was no longer listening, mumbling, "I should talk to Belle later…" She truly felt for Belle, but she simply could not play favorites. And Belle did cross a line. Elsa had received plenty of criticism already for the help she provided Anna and Kristoff, and they were family. A Glamour may help Belle and Beast out, but it wouldn't solve the root of their issue. "I think Jiminy is still holding counseling sessions…"
She was vaguely cognizant that Jack had quieted and was standing three feet from her; she could feel his eyes lingering. Elsa's attention shifted to her desk. The papers accumulated to a good two feet high alone, and she had barely gone through half of them. Mainly they were made up of a combination of requests for moving to or from the Farm, requests for more access to Glamours, notification of travel or returns, disputes to be quieted, and then of course the paperwork for costs to covering up their existence. Just the other day about a dozen memory wipes had to be paid for to cover up Thumbelina slipping out of the Farm yet again. Needless to say her space seemed permanently in organized disarray despite her consistent efforts.
"Hey Elsa," Jack began, but was interrupted by the door slamming open and a very frazzled rabbit darting into the room.
"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear – Miss Elsa! Oh my, it-it-it's such a horrid – Miss Elsa!" The White Rabbit could not keep still, hardly able to maintain a grasp on his pocket watch. Elsa and Jack were both startled as the rabbit jumped onto the desk, knocking over the papers, and then was stuck in a staccato of apologizing vigorously between the mess he had created, and the emergency that had him so frantic.
Jack was chuckling as Elsa crouched to the rabbit's height and reached out her white gloved hands and gently held her palms open in a move to calm him. "It's all right, it's all right. But please, White Rabbit, what's wrong?" His red eyes could not stay still and Elsa found herself half afraid he was about to combust.
"Be beggin' yer pardon, Miss Elsa, but I'll be requirin' yer time." Lumbering into the room with a considerable limp came the sheriff of Fabletown. The large man appeared all the more massive with his oversized trench coat and manner that he would lean forward with each step of his mechanical leg. In his good hand he held a bundle of papers – more for Elsa to sort through – while his robotic arm set at its default "hand" mode was lifting his sunglasses to reveal both his normal and mechanical eye. The latter glowed a bright yellow. Despite portions of his face immobile from mechanical influence, he had no difficulty expressing his agitation. Elsa looked up from the trembling rabbit, and met the gaze of the large man who stormed in. His unease simmered to sympathy for a mere moment, gazing down at Elsa, before shifting his attention to the other occupant of the room. "Ah, Jack, I should have known ye'd be here. Good. I'll be needin' ya lazy bum, too."
Jack raised a brow at the sheriff and wrinkled his nose. "Oh yeah? Well maybe my lazy bum –"
"Silver." Elsa cut through the potential banter. Their regular pissing match would have to be postponed. "What's going on?"
"I'm afraid, Miss Elsa, I can' say, but yer goin' ter want to see this."
(Cause there are no reasons)
The small condo was in complete disarray. Covering the knocked-over pottery, furniture, and pictures in the kitchen and living room was a vast coat of blood. So much, that in many areas it had yet to fade to brown. Large hand prints dragged in the direction of the open windows. The curtains billowed harshly from the wind. From their confined angle at the door, it seemed that while there was considerably less blood in the other rooms, they were still in great disorder. The greatest spark of horror was generated from the message, "Scum of Fabletown" written in blood.
Jack shut the door, only taking his eyes off the scene to check on Elsa. The playful yet poised beauty had an expression of pure horror behind the handkerchief held up to her face. She was covered in white, from her gloves to her blouse to her tight-fitted skirt to her shoes, a stark contrast to the red that covered the room. She didn't belong there and he wished she didn't have to see this. Heck, he wished he didn't have to, either.
"Can' have any Natives gettin' wind o' this," Silver grunted. Jack muttered "No kidding" under his breath. "Jus' be sure to watch where yer steppin'. Don' want ter track any of the blood around. That means you an' yer bare feet, Jack." Jack lifted his right foot and wiggled his toes, mentally patting himself on the back for his sense of balance. The group was clustered together in front of the entrance, simultaneously staring in horrific awe and trying not to disturb the crime scene.
Jack stood to Silver's left and was handed a large box containing measuring equipment, plastic bags, bleach, and other tools necessary for analyses and cleanup. He wanted to be anywhere but in that apartment. The winter spirit could tolerate the presence of blood and pain for so long. He could not stifle the ache of remembering what his job used to be, once upon a time.
The only individual who was not horrified by the contents of the condo was the little blue alien scurrying about. Stitch was in the room long before they had arrived, taking pictures for the small detective department operating under Silver. As always, it was amusing to see the two aliens complemented one another; Stitch was by far more intelligent than Silver, but he also was more juvenile and impulsive, so working under Silver worked better for the two. The ex-pirate was used to working with unruly not-so-human types, so Stitch was not too much of an unknown entity. The sheriff also had a good sense of humor when there wasn't a possibility of foul play around the corner.
Jack got a kick out of the little mutant, despite his sometimes alarming lack of empathy: Stitch was always up for a good prank.
"Jaba ramid nye hassin, Boss Man," Stitch said. He was hanging off the ceiling holding the heavy camera and dressed in a bright orange jump suit, boots, and gloves. Jack glanced again at Elsa who frowned slightly: like most, she was not familiar with Tantalog. The alien was even more difficult to understand with the face mask he wore. For good measure he took a picture of the three, and cackled at their blinking expressions after the bright flash.
"Stitch!" Silver bellowed, and the blue alien quieted. "We may not be on a ship, but ye best be holdin' yerself to a certain code of conduct, ye understandin'?"
"Okay, okay," Stitch grumbled and scurried along the ceiling until he was above Silver and lowered the camera so that the sheriff could catch. "Stitch finished anyway." Jack smirked up at the small alien. There was something gratifying about seeing another troublemaker ordered around even more than him.
"Pardon the critter, Miss Elsa," Silver lightly groveled, to save face or keep in Elsa's good graces Jack wasn't sure. Either way, Jack knew the deputy mayor wouldn't be bothered; in general Elsa had a pretty great sense of humor. She simply felt there was more of a time and place for everything.
"What happened?" Elsa rubbed her gloved hands together, maintaining focus on the more pressing issue. Jack shifted the weight of the box in his arms, glad she asked, because he was about to ask the same thing. His eyes trailed some large drops of blood leading to a large pool close to his bare feet. He stepped around the mess, and looked like he was about to practice some deep squats.
"Naveen dead," Stitch said simply.
"What?" Jack and Elsa cried collectively.
Silver shook his head with a nervous grin at the two disgruntled winter Fables before giving Stitch a stern look. "Now, we don' know that fer sure." The blue alien rolled his eyes and gestured to the scene. "What we do know is this be Naveen's apartment, and this be his blood."
Jack and Elsa gaped at the scene with new eyes, and Jack thought that perhaps Stitch wasn't too off in his thinking.
"I didn't know he was in town," Jack muttered.
Elsa's eyes did not stray from the blood as she said in a quiet voice, "He returned from Venice about eight months ago. He wanted to keep it quiet." Jack would have asked how she knew, except that Fables were required to check in with her when entering or leaving town so as to keep track of their numbers.
"Aye, and this be where he stayin'."
Maybe it was because the place was a complete and utter wreck, but the apartment seemed awfully small and without class to belong to a prince. If this was all Naveen could afford, no wonder he kept quiet. Rather embarrassing in comparison to the success that his ex-wife, Tiana, had had garnered from her restaurants.
Jack tried for a more productive question, "Do we … have any leads or ideas on who would …?" He trailed off. It was well known that Naveen had more than a reputation for unapologetically luring in women and making use of whatever income or resources he could get his hands on. The prince was not among Fabletown's most favored people. Jack certainly held no respect for the man.
"What we be knowin' fer almos' certain is that this be the work of a Fable," Silver said solemnly.
"And Naveen dead," Stitch muttered from his perch.
The three turned to the small alien.
Elsa finally whispered as she lowered her handkerchief; "Do you truly believe, after all these years, that a Fable would commit murder?"
Before he could reconsider his words, Jack said in a light tone, "It's not as if we're exactly low on psychopaths and murderers in this town. Isn't that right, Silver?"
A pause followed.
"Actually, me beauty," Silver seemed to step out of the stiffened stance he had taken, and Elsa's glare redirected itself to him at his slip of tongue. The typical apologetic, playing stupid smile adorned his face. Jack's smile was all but a sneer. "Me apologies, Miss Elsa, but I'll be needin' him here. Even though he could be doin' some more respectin'." He chuckled as if he had made a joke.
Jack kept his head down, focused on the contents of the box.
"An' I be sayin' that a Fable be doin' the killin', fer that line right there." He pointed his mechanical arm to the writing on the wall. Jack looked up despite himself, following Silver's gestures. "A Native wouldn' be knowin' 'bout our kind, less be leavin' such a message agains' us. They be wantin' ter make us known by public means."
The Snow Queen gripped her handkerchief tightly, as if trying to feel the texture through her white gloves. "So … we have a killer in our midst."
Jack did not say a word, but his eye almost seemed to audibly twitch. Perhaps Elsa noticed for she added, "At least, a killer post-Forgiveness Act."
Tension fogged the room in heavy waves and it was directed toward their sheriff. Elsa glanced away from the two men, but Jack stared unabashedly at Silver. The large alien began to shift his weight in something maybe akin to guilt until he felt the male Fable's gaze. He met Jack's stare, a darkness seemed to pass over his face. Perhaps it was Jack's imagination, but the larger man's mechanical eye seemed to slowly turn red. "Ye have somethin' ter say, boy?"
Jack's hands shuddered, aching for his missing staff.
"Silver." Elsa half sashayed to get between the two men before Jack could respond. "Are you sure you need Jack?" The tension evaporated.
"Ye think I'm askin' for us to dance the hempen jig or somethin'? O' course I be needin' him." He reached over and placed a heavy hand on Jack's shoulder, and Jack knew that he was purposely acting too familiar. "I'll be havin' a special job fer him." Silver barked a laugh as Jack roughly shrugged him off.
"Fine, just don't touch me, Cupcake." He'd much rather spend time cleaning Elsa's office. Silver spared him a warning glance before resuming his façade of a cheery individual and waved at the departing deputy.
"All right." Elsa lingered on her words and in the doorway, clearly not expressing all her thoughts. "I need to return … what should I say to the Mayor?"
The large alien turned to face the petite woman, his expression without humor, and said, "Best not ter be sayin' anythin' yet, not 'til we have some more o' the facts. Keep it between us and the investigative departments." Which Jack knew meant: keep the mayor out of it or he may make a bigger mess of the matter and tell the whole town.
Elsa's hand was on the door and Jack was glad to see her leaving. "Yes, and please keep me posted on the investigation."
Silver nodded next to Jack as the door clicked open. "Miss Elsa, I'll be sure to keep ye up ter date on all our findings – once we have the findings, o' course." He gave her a toothy grin, presenting a broad view of his gapped front teeth.
"Thank you." The Snow Queen paused and looked back at the apartment from the doorway, and Jack watched the touch of regret that passed over her face. "I hope we find a body."
(Tell me why)
Beneath the government building where Elsa worked resided a magically expansive labyrinth made up of enchanted and ancient artifacts that, even after centuries of documentation and study, had not been thoroughly examined. With thousands of Fables spilling in from hundreds of worlds, many powerful, magical items found their way into the community. For the sake of safety, all magical weapons and items for battle were taken from the citizens to be studied, all for the purpose to one day be used against the Great Conqueror. Thus, certain Fables volunteered due to their intellect and interest in research to take on the task of documenting all these items.
One such person was Milo Thatch, a lesser-known Fable who still didn't really consider himself one. He liked to attribute his longevity to the blue crystal that hung around his neck, rather than some unknown force that connected his lifespan to his popularity with unknown beings. Still, the theory had some potential merit and if his priorities weren't otherwise placed he would probably spend more time obsessing over the subject.
A voice broke the silence that had been present for a solid twenty minutes. "Small human child, get that over here!"
A second one cut in. "Yo, I haven't been a child for centuries. You want me to try out this sword on you?"
And a third. "Now there, Excalibur is not a toy but a great historical piece of cultural significance, and possesses more power in it than you could possibly imagine." A pause and a prideful chuckle, "And I should know because I measured and studied it myself."
Milo sighed. The team had been doing so well, so quiet for so long and now bickering was starting up again. Milo removed his glasses and cleaned the lenses, as if hoping that after putting them back on again he would find himself in solitude. After rubbing them clean with his shirt, he placed them back on and turned back from his desk to the rest of the area he resided. Alas, they were still there.
"Bah." A large and round, blue and tan alien with four eyes swiveled in his seat from his own workspace. The self-proclaimed "Evil Genius" Jumba Jookiba at least looked the part, with the magnifying lenses he wore and the white lab coat he adorned. If that wasn't convincing enough, the large silver and blue plasma gun he lifted off his desk, hoisted over his shoulder and aimed certainly would do the trick. "Today is day you learn to respect the name –"
"Oh blast it all – put that down!" The only occupant of the room whose appearance showed old age fumbled for his wand through his long, white beard. Milo had suggested once that the wizard cut the thing off if it was such an inconvenience, but the older man simply chuckled and said he knew what he was doing. Milo still did not understand the necessity of so much hair, but who was to argue with the legendary Merlin? At least the older man didn't grow indignant at his ideas like most.
The youngest looking occupant of the room, roughly appearing to be in his early twenties, did not seem particularly bothered by the fact that a loaded weapon was currently aimed in his direction. Instead, he openly smirked at the large alien, adjusted the worn blue cap on top of his unruly black hair, and lifted his arm from the sword in front of him, showing a red bracelet that hugged his forearm. Milo would have guessed it to be some new fashion trend Hiro was following, except that it was littered in buttons and when Hiro pressed one, an electromagnetic screen bubbled around him. "Go ahead and try it, Fatso!"
"Music to my ear canals…" And with much practice, Milo took his cue to duck beneath his desk as Merlin yelped and the sound of a large blast filled the room. He wasn't sure if it was his clumsy landing or the after effects of the weapon that resulted in the objects on his desk to fall to the floor in a great clutter. Luckily the explosion that followed only knocked over random items that were not fastened to the desks or resided on enchanted shelving. Merlin had long since learned his lesson working with these two and had found it best to cast some enchantments to prevent too much harm to the priceless things surrounding them, not to mention the building in which they resided.
The ex-navigator crawled out from under his place of safety at the sound of Hiro's unapologetic and rather triumphant laughter. Jumba's face was covered in char and all four of his lenses completely broken to reveal his blinking eyes.
"You incorrigible…!" Merlin was readying one of his many enraged rants and Milo was actively wondering why he hadn't put in a request to work in a different department when a far off door opened and a familiar walk inspired a halt to the scene.
"Oh great…" Milo groaned and thumped his head against his desk, muttering a quick, "Ow." His colleagues quickly tried to right themselves as best they could for Silver's arrival. If there was someone who could inspire any semblance of order, it was the Sheriff. Sadly, he also had a pension for roping Milo into one task or another that was usually quite unpleasant. If only Jim were around, he would volunteer in his stead, but he hadn't seen that man in a week.
"G'afternoon, gentlemen." Silver tipped his hat and bowed low. Typical, theatrical Silver. Milo was taken mildly off guard to see that the sheriff had shifted into his Glamour. The mechanical eye, arm, and leg were gone, as well as his more canine-like nose and ears, and in place were more humanly-acceptable features. Milo groaned because this meant they weren't making a trip to a certain Deputy Mayor's office and were instead going on a little field trip to the outside world where, most definitely, he was going to be enlisted to do a rather daunting task.
"Good afternoon, Silver," Merlin greeted, just as pleasant. Not only was he the leader of the Research Division, but he was also the only one not threatened by Silver's presence. Perhaps it was due to also being a rather prominent member of the Seventh Floor; they did not scare easily. Jumba was also grinning rather broadly from his seat, like if he were to smile wide enough, Silver wouldn't notice how blackened his face was.
"Hey, Big Guy," Hiro tipped his hat, looking pretty pleased with himself.
"What can we do for you today?" Merlin pressed. And by "we" he meant Milo, of course. Already, the bespectacled Fable was readying his coat and organizing his desk so that he may easily resume, whenever he ended up returning. He knew the drill. It didn't stop him from clumsily spilling the scrolls he had been looking over onto the floor.
Silver grinned back at them as he adjusted the belt on his pants, obviously ignoring the events that had recently transpired. "I'll be needin' the bookworm." Yup, that meant Milo. "Have a bit of a task I'll be requirin' his presence fer. It be his favorite pastime, after all." He winked at Milo who returned a smile not half as enthusiastic. Hiro snickered.
"Oh, of course – and would you look at that!" Merlin's expression was chipper, though a mischievous glint was in his eye as he pushed his wizarding cap back. "Here is Milo nice and ready for you. Good lad."
"Well actually I do have a bit of a…" Milo stood from the items he had been cleaning, grabbed the fishermen hat hanging off a coat hanger neck to his desk, and adjusted it on his head before taking his place next to the sheriff. "Yes I-I'm ready, just had a, uh, a spill," Milo had never outwardly complained in front of Merlin, but he didn't do much to hide his reluctance. The only thing that had lessened over the years was his protesting.
"Do be having fun!" Jumba trilled as he turned back to his work, or at least pretended to return to productivity.
Hiro, on the other hand, was much more interested. Especially since he was never invited to these outings. "So what's the story?" He rested his chin on the back of his chair. "You have some big baddie to wrestle down with the help of Muscles, here?" Milo scowled but Hiro had no semblance of an apology in his expression.
"Oh, jus' the usual kind o' business I won't be tellin' ya about." Silver barked a laugh which Merlin and Jumba were happy to join him.
"Now Hiro, you know it's best to not stick our noses in other's business. Some might call you a gossip, rather drawl pastime. And an overly muscular physique is highly overrated. Brains over brawn and all that." Merlin tsk'd lightly at the younger Fable. Hiro rolled his eyes and spun around in his seat, back to work.
Perhaps the action reminded him of a certain someone, for Silver stopped and peered around. Despite his mechanical eye no longer being visible, Milo could practically see the device zooming in and analyzing the room. "Where's Jimbo?"
Jumba and Hiro shrugged, the latter now bored as his question wasn't being answered. The younger Fable didn't even bother to turn around. "Dunno," he said. "Haven't seen him."
"I haven't seen the lad for six days now, but that's no surprise. You know, he is always disappearing and reappearing with a, a new story or two to tell. I'm certain he's perfectly fine," Merlin said, daring to pat Silver on the arm in comfort before returning to his work with a chuckle. "If he was in any real danger, I would know. After all, I happen to be a wizard."
Silver chose not to respond, and instead tipped his hat to the researchers and clasped a large hand on Milo's slim shoulder. "Well, I'm sure yer right. Best be on our way, then."
Sniggered farewells were exchanged on Milo's behalf as they exited the building. With some hope, Milo looked to the elevator that would have taken them to the eleventh floor, the deputy mayor's floor, but they cleared the level. The two passed through the hallway out onto the main floor where the receptionist was adjusting a plate of brownies next to his phone. Milo offered a small wave as the very large, in-shape man who almost seemed to spill out of his grey suit perked at their appearance.
"Hello Silver – busy day for you, today! This is the fourth time I've seen you run in and out. And Milo! Oh, it must be a fun one. I don't suppose you two have a quick second for brownies. There's peanut butter." He beamed and held out a tray.
Milo began to reach for one, grateful for the distraction and his cooking. "Oh, thank –"
"I'm 'fraid not, Kronk," Silver said, his expression bright but his movements gruff as he pulled Milo by the collar of his jacket before he could touch one. Silver did not slow his pace as he dragged the smaller man toward the exit. "As ye say, busy day."
"Bummer." Milo could see Kronk pout as he munched on one himself. "Does that mean we'll have to cancel cooking tonight? I've already gone to the farmer's market!"
"It'll have to wait!" Silver called over his shoulder. As they cleared the automatic doors and entered the bustling streets of Fabletown, Silver muttered, "Nice fellow, but sharp he be not." Milo couldn't argue that one.
"Mr. Silver, I, I, I want to ask, where is it exactly we're going?" Milo asked as they hurried along.
"Ye'll have to wait an' see. Can't be talkin' out here." Silver glanced at the citizens who walked by, most hurrying at the sight of Silver. The disguised alien tipped his hat and grinned at the Natives. While the sheriff looked perfectly human, his intimidation factor was still present, especially since he was dragging some small man to who knows where.
"Oh, of … of course." Milo pushed up his glasses. He had the sneaking suspicion that Silver took some sort of sadistic delight in bossing him around.
The walk wasn't too far, simply ten minutes or so, but regardless Milo was looking to catch his breath once they arrived at the apartment complex.
"No time fer that." Milo nearly fell when Silver yanked his sleeve forward so that they may enter. Up and up they climbed the stairs until they arrived on the fifth floor. Milo was still wheezing when they stopped at Room 508 when the door opened and he was half tossed inside.
Milo somehow caught the door and straightened himself up, determined to reclaim some dignity. "Now, now see here, Silver! You can't just –!" He cut himself off when he saw the other two inhabitants of the room.
"Hey Milo, are you babysitting today?"
The other miscreant cackled in what Milo would dub "villainous glee."
Stitch and Jack: his least favorite combination.
Jack was sporting the usual bright orange jumpsuit, but the fact that Stitch was as well? "Am I here to clean up this mess they made?" He gestured to the toppled furniture and torn wall paper in disbelief, and ignored Jack's indignant Hey! "Silver, this is ridiculous! You-you-you always do this!" He counted out on his hand in frustration, "First, you interrupt my work – really important work that kind of pertains to the growth and freedom of not only Fabletown, but all Fablekind! Second, you pretty much manhandle me all across town and I bruise pretty easily, you know! Third, you are pulling me away yet again to play, yes play, babysitter, and I clearly cannot control –!"
Silver shut the door with enough intensity for Milo to quiet himself. "Quit yer yammerin'. Are ye blind? This be a crime scene."
The Basement representative startled as he looked at the apartment, past Jack and Stitch, and tuned into the disarray with new understanding. "O-oh." Much quieter than his previous volume, he tentatively asked, "W-was this a break-in or…?"
"Nothin' we can conclude quite yet, I'm afraid."
Milo's tongue seemed to fall back into his throat.
Silver gestured to a large box that Milo had not initially seen upon entry. It was filled with about a couple dozen bags of blood. "I should say, this be more the recreatin' of the actual crime scene. I've rented this place below and had the Seventh Floor duplicate the contents of the above apartment here. Stitch an' Jack have already recreated the mess o' the room, but now it be time to calculate the blood loss."
"B-b-b-blood loss?" Milo repeated.
"Stitch already know how much Naveen lost," the furry alien said, folding his four arms.
"Naveen?" Milo looked to Jack for confirmation. Jack grimly nodded. No wonder he wasn't cracking as many jokes as usual. "He's in town? Is he all right?"
"We're not sure," Silver answered. "It was at least certainly made ter look like he isn'."
Jack leaned against the wall, "Here we go again."
Stitch groaned loudly, using his claws to pull his lower eyelids down until they all had a lovely view of the inside. "Naveen not okie taka. Naveen dead! Human body hold five and a half liters of blood, and Naveen easily lost over three. 3.6 liters Naveen lost. No way Naveen alive." Stitch released his face for a good scowl at Silver and added for good measure, "Stupid head."
Stitch's pout lost to Silver's glare. "Talk like that ter me again, an' I'll personally see ter ye havin' a very limited supply o' coffee."
If the situation were less serious, Milo would have laughed at how affronted and aghast the creature was. At least Jack managed a snicker.
Silver continued, "An' I don' care what kind of brain ye have allowin' ye to calculate all o' that. We need it fer the books, in a tangible way, how much blood was lost." Stitch's response was a raspberry. Milo wondered why it was that Silver would rile them up just in time for Milo to take over every time. "So here's how it's goin' ter go: Milo is in charge"—Jack raised a brow and looked at Stitch who mirrored his expression—"an' he'll be makin' sure ye two are behavin' an doin' ye job. No horsin' around, ye hear?" He pointed his index finger at Stitch and Jack, daring them to promise otherwise.
"Sheriff, we'd follow Milo over a cliff," Jack declared with mock seriousness.
Stitch mirrored Jack and agreed in Tantalog, "Ih."
Milo didn't buy it for one second and he doubted the sheriff did, either, but Silver had to get going. "There ye go, Milo. Couldn' ask fer more loyalty than that!"
"Mr. Silver, that clearly –"
"Now Milo," Silver spoke over him. "We'll be usin' Stitch's photos for ye to look at, but we'll mostly be usin' his photographic memory in recreatin' the blood splatter. So just focus on them behavin' themselves. They'll do the grunt work. Righ' boys?"
Jack and Stitch saluted in unison. It was kind of impressive, but not enough to dissuade Milo.
"Yes, but see –"
"That's a good lad. Now, I'll be checkin' in tomorrow mornin', so ye best be finished by then. In the meantime, I have my own investigatin' to be gettin' to." Silver's large hand encompassed the door handle, and Milo saw his way out evaporating.
"Elsa should be by with food 'round 6," Silver promised and with a click the door was shut.
Milo slumped his head against the wall.
"Jeez, Stitch, you'd think he wasn't happy to see us."
"Ih, so mean."
Hopefully she'd be bringing scotch. And maybe some of Kronk's brownies; those looked really good.
(She wants to play with her toys awhile)
Elsa exhaled as her key clicked the office's lock into place. Despite her workplace hours coming to a close, her labor for the day was incomplete. At least, she consoled herself, she would have a pseudo-break by sharing in Kronk's company in the kitchen for a good hour or so whilst he prepared dinner. Normally the secretary would make the deliveries, but the case was of the utmost secrecy and Kronk did not possess a great capacity for discretion. Hence why Elsa was stepping up to the plate.
At least if there were two individuals who could still manage to be cheery in a dark situation, Stitch and Jack would be the two to accomplish such a feat.
The deputy mayor inserted her keys into her purse, then adjusted her gloves for the nth time that day. Time to traipse down the steps. She peered into the glass in the door, tuning out "Deputy Mayor" and instead focusing on her slight reflection to check her hair. A strand or two was mildly mussed, but otherwise her braided bun remained in place. Elsa patted at her hair for good measure, and then stopped when she noticed something else behind her. Or better, someone.
Before she could react with her powers, a firm hand gripped around her waist while the other caught hold of her wrist – one she hadn't realized was already glowing an icy blue in preparation. She gasped as she was jerked backwards into the body that held her and pinned her to the figure – male. Elsa lifted her foot and slammed her heel into the shin of her attacker. He released her waist in surprise and pain, but at his groan she recognized his voice and spun away from him despite his hold on her wrist.
"Jim!" she cried. "What in the world?"
Her outrage died on her lips as she faced him, more questions sprung up than answers. The handsome adventurer seemed small and worn in a way she hadn't seen in a century. Jim held around his hips what looked like an old, greying curtain. Beyond that all he wore was his standard gold earring. If it weren't for his wrists, neck, ankles, and torso which held evidence of deep rope burns and swollen bruising, and therefore confinement, she would have more than reprimanded him.
"Elsa, I'm sorry, I panicked. I thought you were …" He slumped against the wall despite maintaining his hold on her. "I messed up."
The snow queen bent down with him so she would not be pulled down by his weight and removed one of her gloves. "Jim, what happened?" She sought out with her bare fingers deep bruising along his neck and gently pressed her magically cold digits to calm the swelling. The man sucked in air between his teeth, not in displeasure.
Closer still, she could see the deep circles under his eyes and the slight gauntness his features had taken. Sweat littered his skin so his brown hair clung to it. She almost touched her other hand to his cheek. "Where's Silver?" He asked. Despite the weariness that had overcome him, she could see his determination in his deep blue eyes. "I'm here to report a kidnapping."
Elsa in that moment dearly missed her event coordinating job.
(I don't like Mondays)
a/n: Hello one and all. Kindly let me know if this is up your alley. Especially since I intend this make this story a rather long one.
Do review, I like hearing from you lovelies.