The Bureau Files: Series 5
A/N: Hello, and here are the promised BLOOPERS that I spoke of in the previous episode! This is part of the 2020 TCR Birthday Bash, with today's prompt being: Bloopers! (Fittingly.) Given how harrowing this series was, I felt like some light-hearted humour wouldn't go amiss.
A few notes: There's a fair bit of light-hearted swearing in this, so if swearing doesn't float your boat, this is your warning. Addtionally, only series 5 is bloopered (there's no way I could commit to the whole thing), and each case is marked up, to make it easier to follow.
With no further ado, please enjoy!
CASE 1: ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING
Haru and Hiromi pass beneath the Torii gate to the komainu's shrine, pausing on the steps as Haru regards her friend's face. "Hiromi… are you... blushing?"
"Oh, shut up."
"My god, you're not blushing because of him, are you? I mean, I know he's smooth and all, but I was hoping that the great Hiromi could resist his charms. Trust me; he's awful at responding to confessions. Usually he ends up jumping off the nearest building. Worryingly so, actually. I think he might be allergic…"
Hiromi takes on a more flustered look. "Oh, shut up. I'm blushing for you, you idiot! How on Earth am I meant to ask my best friend if she's a furry?"
"In my defence, there's usually less of a height difference between me and Baron when we're in the Sanctuary," Haru says. "Or other worlds."
"Oh, great, so that just leaves solving the figurine and Naoko's eventual grand-kittens dilemma."
Outside the Guertena Art Gallery, Haru edges to an alley's opening and peers out into the street. She drops her bag.
"Holy shit, we've just set a dinosaur loose in modern day Japan."
Off-screen, someone admonishes, "LANGUAGE, MISS HARU!"
Haru runs out from the forest to the lakeside, the dinosaur toy held high as the diplodocus ambles in pursuit. "Gotta go faster," she mutters and races into the lake. "Gotta go faster– holy fuck that water's cold!"
"Give me a moment to acclimatise!" Haru hollers back. She takes a few tentative steps forward and freezes again as the water laps at her thighs. "Nope. No. Nada. Not happening. Holy fishcakes, what do they fill this lake with, ice?
"Seriously, Miss Haru, you need to move–"
"My goosebumps have goosebumps, give me a–"
Whatever Haru has to say is brought to a squeaky halt as a wave of water cascades over her.
Above, the diplodocus looks down sheepishly. "Sorry, Haru."
"Wetsuit!" Haru wheezes. "Get me a wetsuit!"
It is between takes. Crew busy themselves in along the shoreline, but further out Haru – now sporting a tastefully-hidden wetsuit – floats, spread-eagled, on the water. The dinosaur rests beside her, its huge legs reaching the lake's base without breaking a sweat. Haru sees the camera's running and waves. "Come on in! The water's lovely!" she cries, in the special tone reserved for the lie everyone tells after they've spent ten painstaking minutes inching into freezing water.
There is a gurgled oof as the wave upsets her balance and she momentarily dips beneath the surface.
She reappears a second later and grabs the dinosaur's side to prevent a repeat.
"All good! I'm good!"
In the foreground, Toto can be seen to lean over to Baron.
"Dramatic, reckless, and a complete disregard for common sense?" he whispers. "You're perfect for each other."
CASE 2: THE NEURAL HORIZON
The lakeside scene has been traded in for a space station. Haru rises from the end result of a portal entrance and stares up at the panoramic view set before her – or to the green screen that currently occupies that area at the moment.
"Holy… Space," she says. "We're in space."
"It would appear so," Baron agrees.
"Space," Haru stresses again, gesturing to the flat green windows. "The final frontier."
"We heard ya the… wait, what was that?" Muta falters.
"These are voyages of the starship Enterprise," Haru continues. She poses grandly, one arm outstretched to the greenscreened heavens. "It's ongoing mission, to seek out new life…" She hesitates. "No? Really? None of you get that reference?"
The rest of the Bureau share a lost look.
"Star Trek? Resistance is futile? Beam me up, Scotty? Live long and prosper?" She stares. "Wow, and I thought you guys had taste. Colour me disappointed."
The Bureau surveys the space station and the implications of the neuromod advertisement.
"Are ya saying that these things keep yer brain under check?" Muta asks. "Cause that doesn't sound like a horror movie at all."
"Actually, I was thinking more of a YA dystopian novel myself," Haru says, "but horror movie works too."
There's a notably unscripted battle-cry and a round of GLOO ammunition hits each of the Bureau and sticks them into place. Morgan in her orange space suit leaps out into the centre of the screen, GLOO gun raised in dramatic fashion. "Nobody move! Resistance is futile!"
Amid the cackling of the crew, Haru can be heard to cry, "See? See, someone gets it!"
Another round of harmless ammunition sails past Haru, converting a nearby table into goo.
"No talking! Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!"
Off-screen, someone manages to find a speaker and shouts over the ensuing chaos, "Miss Yu, please may we stick to the script in future?"
"You give me a sci-fi glue-gun and don't expect me to have fun?" Morgan hollers back.
"I expect you to not drown us in copyright lawsuits, if that's okay with you."
"Hello? Um, cam someone come give us a hand?" Haru gingerly waves with the one arm that isn't tied up in GLOO guck. The other is encased in the sticky mess – and most notably, so is Baron's arm. "Also, uh, Morgan, you might want to work on your aim in future."
From beneath a small mound of GLOO comes an undignified spluttering. "Ya think?"
Morgan drags Baron through the greenhouse door, leaving Haru to the telepath alien on the other side and hauling Baron back when he attempts to return.
"What are you doing?" Baron snarls.
"I'm saving your life and hers!" Morgan snaps back. "If you go back in there, the telepath might register you as a threat and then it'll force Haru to–" Morgan jolts as something smacks the greenhouse window "–attack. Do you want her to end up like… like… the body…" She trails off and her gaze focuses on the window. She begins to giggle.
Baron turns and jumps as he sees Haru pressing her face against the glass.
"Braaaaaains," Haru wheezes. She gurgles something indecipherable to the living and lurches to the side in a notably good classic zombie lurch. "Braaaaaaaains! Urrrrrgh, gurgle, growl…"
Baron laughs, and the floodgates open. Morgan collapses into breathless giggles, and soon even Haru's spontaneous zombie role breaks character as she joins in.
"Cut!" comes the off-stage cry. Then, in lower tones, "Children. I'm working with children."
CASE 3: THE BUREAU'S HOLIDAY
Hiromi and Naoko share the limelight, standing by a ringtoss attraction in the spirit festival while Hiromi tries to break the news of Haru and Baron's budding relationship to Naoko. "What I – what we – were thinking," she fumbles, "was more along the lines of…" She sighs, makes a show of giving up, and says, "Fuck it. Naoko, there's something you need to know." She takes Naoko's shoulder in her hand and leans in. "I'm so sorry, but Haru… is pregnant with kittens."
The ring Naoko is throwing goes wide and smacks Toto out of the air.
There's a spluttering, indignant sound as the taiyaki Baron was finishing off gets caught in his throat and, further off, Muta guffaws at the state of both Creations.
The video cuts just as a blur of Haru cannonballs into Hiromi.
Haru and Baron sit on the Lazy River ride together, midway through conversation when Haru suddenly sits up. "Hang on, the ex-Cat King had a name?"
"Of course," Baron replies. "Did you think he was simply called the Cat King?"
"I try not to think about him too much. So, what was his name?"
"So what was his name?"
"Sir Snowball the Third."
"So what was his name?"
"No, no, I've got this, I promise." Baron's assurance falls on ears already half-deafened by laughter. Somewhere off-stage, a director has his head in his hands. "Promise, I'll behave this time. Honest. Gentleman's honour." He crosses his heart in a manner that would be convincing if the past five minutes of terrible cat names hadn't plagued the recordings. "Haru and I have agreed that I shall no longer deviate from the script. Haven't we, Haru?"
Haru grins in a manner for which the word 'conspiringly' had been made for. "Yeah, sure. He won't say a single word he hasn't been approved on." She turns to Baron and attempts to hide the humour. "Hang on, the ex-Cat King had a name?"
"Of course. Did you think he was simply called the Cat King?"
"I try not to think about him too much. So, what was his name? Hit it, Hiromi!"
Off-camera, sudden music blares into life. Before Baron can even make a pretence at his lines, Haru rises to her feet – somewhat uneasily in the Lazy River boat – and sways more or less with the music. "Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity! He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity–"
The music grinds to the abrupt half of having someone slam the pause button.
Haru motions abruptly to Baron. "He didn't stray from the script!" she protests. "We did as you asked!"
The effect is somewhat ruined by Haru and Baron sharing a high-five.
CASE 4: A LIBRARIAN AND HER KNIGHT
Haru picks her way across the theatre prop room, reaching for the door.
"Are ya really sure that's a wise idea, Chicky?"
She gives Muta a look before dramatically raising a hand to her brow. "Oh no," she deadpans, "it's a door. Quick. Run for your lives. It's too late for me, save yourseohfuck–"
Her elbow catches on the handle and it slides open. There are two dull thuds; the first being the door slamming into Alexa's face and the second is Haru slamming onto the floor.
Both are accompanied by a string of curses.
"Haru, are you okay?"
"Miss Alexa, do you need ice for that?"
"Door: one. Chicky: zero."
Haru begins to laugh, and she turns her face upwards to Alexa's. "Hey, Alexa, you missed."
Haru shuffles along the piano bench, taking a seat alongside a temporarily human-sized Baron. "My conclusion. Right." She fidgets. "Sorry. Yes. Sir Gawain is Rool de Shenry."
"Raoul de Chagny," Baron corrects.
"Roul de Shagne," Haru attempts.
"Ra-oul de Chagny."
"Raal de Chagnry."
"Ra-owl de Chag-ny."
"Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer."
There is an audible chorus of badly-suppressed snorts from behind the camera.
"I think," someone calls across the recording, "that we better find an alternative."
The set has changed to the underground lake beneath the theatre, where the Bureau, Cornelia and Lady Elaine, and Alexa are facing off against the Opera Ghost. The Opera Ghost's mask has been removed to reveal the Dragon's half-humanoid identity, and she glares out at the intruders.
"I was made for one purpose and one purpose only, and that was to keep the Lady Elain under my protection," she recites. "If you finish this story, she will be taken away from me and I will be left with no… with noth…"
The Dragon's face screws up into a funny expression.
"With nothi… ah… ah…"
"Oh no," is heard, moments before the Dragon erupts into an ashy sneeze.
A bellow of smoke smothers the set, the camera picking up the occasionally worrying spot of fiery red and an onslaught of raised voices.
"Is everything okay? Did anyone get caught–?"
"Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry, I didn't mean–"
"Cornelia, are you unhurt?"
"Toto, there you are!"
"Is anyone gonna ask after me then, or is it every cat for himself?"
"–it's just all the dust down here–"
"Yes, I'm fine. Just hit my head ducking behind the wall."
"Dragon, your cloak–"
"You know, this wall isn't brick at all. It's just wood and paint…"
"–it's on fire–"
"Does anyone smell smoke?"
"YOUR CLOAK IS ON FIRE!"
The video resumes in the aftermath, several parts of the stage looking significantly more burnt than previously shown, and the cast and crew draped across it in various states of exhaustion.
"Edna Mode was right," Haru wheezes from atop the remains of a wall.
Baron, who is critically inspecting his greyer-than-before top hat, looks over at Haru. "How so?"
She raises a hand. "No capes!"
CASE 5: WHAT CREATIONS ARE MADE OF
The camera focuses on the SOS ball as it rolls erratically in Haru's palm, pulsing with an eerie glow that bathes the Bureau members in a sickly yellow pallor. "I bet that if we go back to the place where the message first came through, I might be able to find that tear and get us there."
"That sounds kinda dangerous, Chicky."
"So does a good 80% of our – whoop!"
The SOS ball rocks a hair too far and it slips from Haru's grasp. She yelps and snatches at it – and misses.
Glass shatters across the floor.
"Oh shit. That… that's just a prop, right? Right?"
The Bureau are in Grace's labyrinth, Haru still cackling after watching Muta walk into a wall, and the disappearing floor coming up close behind her.
"Haru, I don't want to alarm you, but you need to move," Baron warns her. "The floor–"
She blows a raspberry at him.
"No. Nu-uh. I've had it up to here–" and she drunkenly gestures at should height "–with walking. Do you know how long I've been walking?"
"Forever! That's how long I've been – gah!"
As she motions grandly at the expanse of 'forever,' her feet fumble in the imitation of tiredness – and then really do fumble on the tiled floor and she trips backwards. Her arms windmill frantically. She still goes down, vanishing into the abyss of the vanishing floor, screaming until they cut off with an abrupt flumph.
A thumb appears through the darkness.
"Just checking gravity's working!" A pause. "It is!"
The hand flounders in the air.
"Can… Can someone come help me off this net? I'm kinda stuck…"
Still in Grace's labyrinth, Haru and Baron have reunited after being separated. Haru's make-up is designed to create bags under her eyes and hollow her face into gaunt shadows, giving her the look of extreme exhaustion. Baron is carefully holding himself to give the impression of a half-wooden form.
Haru staggers to her feet, and sways.
"M'fine," she mumbles. "Let's get outta here."
She pulls Baron to his feet, and he gestures to the button centring the room. On the walls around him, the painted frescoes begin to stir. "Haru, you have to push–" he begins.
"No, I don't," she dismisses, and she gestures in the air.
Off-stage, the magic department work their, well, their magic, and a portal opens. The visuals switch to another camera just as Haru and Baron slip through the opening and–
"WATCH WHERE YER BLOODY OPENING THOSE THINGS!"
After several dubious moments, the camera shifts, falling on a tangle of limbs and tails and coats, the bottom layer of which is most definitely Muta.
Sprawled on top of him, Haru and Baron look shocked, but none the worse for wear.
"Well, what do you know?" Haru asks. "I think that was the most comfortable landing we've ever had."
"Yeah, yeah, you've had yer laugh. NOW GET OFF."
CASE 6: QUEEN OF HEARTS
The camera pans over the emotionless world in the midst of the coronation celebration, until it settles on Baron and Haru sitting together on a low wall. Haru's attention shifts to the musician beside Muta.
"Oh, please don't tell me he's teaching the locals modern music. I swear, we leave him alone for ten minutes…" She trails off.
"I know that song," Baron says.
"Yeah, so it's probably not anything from the last twenty years."
"I do listen to contemporary music, Har…" Baron pauses, off-script. His eyes narrow. "That's… not Katzen Blut." His expression shifts further. "And when did they bring drums in?"
Haru winks and slides off the wall. "Since I bribed the band. Hiromi, mic!"
From off-screen, a microphone goes flying and Haru catches it with a flourish that hides a fumble. She spins back to him with a conspiring grin. "Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling."
"Haru, we're already dating, so any love confession is a little late to the table."
"Gotta make you understand."
"Are those dance moves? You look like you've got sea legs."
Haru grabs Baron's lapel and pulls him up onto his feet. "Oh, stop spoiling the fun and go with it," she teases. Her grin widens and she lifts the microphone to her lips. "Cause I'm… never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never–"
"CUT!" comes the cry from off-screen. "Someone please revoke Haru's music privileges."
The video resumes, and the song in the background is most definitely Katzen Blut this time. As Haru and Baron dance, Haru's coat transforms into the illusion of a golden dress, and she falters. Awe colours her face as she brushes at the magic.
"Too much?" Baron asks.
Her expression turns to teasing admonishment. "Now that's just a waste of magic."
"If it makes you smile, it is no waste."
"Now you're definitely flirting," she mutters.
"That's not flirting. This is." He leans in and says, in an affected American accent, "How you doin'?"
Haru snorts so hard she breaks away from the dance, wheezing as she grabs the low wall for support. "Where did you get that line from?" she demands between gasps.
"Hiromi. She assured me you would recognise it, but I did not expect… Are you alright?"
Haru now has her head in her hands. Her laughter has mostly dissolved into hiccups. "Oh my god, I'm going to kill her one of these days."
Katzen Blut plays in the background, significantly further through the scene this time around as Haru spins in Baron's hold. Her dress is a thing of sun and starlight, and to the camera it's as if galaxies swirl as she turns. The song lulls, the light fades, and Baron lowers Haru in a dip that brings them intimately close. The moments pass. A pin dropping would be deafening in the ensuing silence. The distance shortens, then vanishes entirely as Haru pulls Baron to her in a kiss.
When they break away, the silence is somehow louder still. Haru stares up into those emerald eyes, her breath rippling across his fur and–
"Fuck. I've forgotten my line."
CASE 7: SANCTUARY
Louise stands in the recently re-found Sanctuary, hands on hips while those around her speak in their own untranslated tongue. Toto speaks to her in Ozite, and she returns with, "Pretty sure, but it isn't as if I can just–"
Baron interrupts in irritated German, something sharp and demanding.
"Yes, I know," Louise snaps back. She clicks her fingers and the magic department release a trill of magic. "That's better. Now you can all accuse me together. Everyone happy? Great! Right, just a heads up, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep this going. After the Gist and Lady Elaine and… and…" Her face crumpled. "Dammit. Line!"
From off-screen, the prompter calls, "And fuelling the tracking crystal!"
"And fuelling the tracking crystal," Louise mutters. "Right. Okay." She clicks her fingers, and the magic department obliges. That's better. Now you can all accuse me together. Everyone happy? Great! Right, just a heads up, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep this going. After the Gist and Lady Elaine and… and… shitbuggerfuck–"
A most scandalised Baron gasps. "LOUISE!"
"Let me help you, Toto," Baron whispers.
"You better know what you're doing."
"I always do."
The climax of the episode draws to a peak, as Baron pulls Toto from the Sanctuary's heart and in an outpouring of special effects and magic effects and after effects, there is a wave of magic and light as Toto is replaced with the Dragon and Grace. When the camera regains focus, it is of Haru as she spots the two Bureau Creations.
She stumbles across the Sanctuary courtyard and collapses into the feathery heap that is Toto.
"Easy, Haru! Some of us are a little delicate right now–"
"Oh no," Toto mutters, just before Muta uses his girth to his advantage and sweeps them all up in his arms. "Muta… please…"
"Nah, you're gonna be hugged and yer gonna like it."
"I'd like to survive it first," Toto wheezes. He – and the rest of the Bureau – are dropped back into their original embrace. "Well, now if you've filled your shenanigans quota for the day–"
"…I just had to go and open my beak, didn't I…?"
The camera catches a blur of white fur, and then Louise is visibly leaping into the group.
There is a collective oomph as several Bureau members are caught in the fallout. It dissolves into breathy laughter and they settle themselves into a less tangled mess.
"GROUP HUG!" cries Hiromi, and she arrives on scene, dragging several of the human cast – Naoko, and Michael – along behind her and into the embrace. More cast members – Cornelia and Lady Elaine and Morgan Yu and Grace and the Dragon and one foot that looks like it belongs to the dinosaur gist – pile in as the momentum builds up.
From beneath it all, comes a very muffled, "BREATHE! Let me breathe!"
The set is back to the Sanctuary. The proper Sanctuary. A few props have changed – the sofa has a new pattern, fresh cushions have been applied, and the vases in the background have been shifted around – but it's definitely the Sanctuary. The camera is fixed on Haru and Baron, sharing the sofa together with domestic comfort.
"Things will be different now," Baron says.
Haru pauses in her book to look to him. "Well, obviously. But what were you thinking of?"
He leans towards her. "Grace and the Dragon. The Sanctuary. What are you thinking of?"
She closes the gap. A quick kiss.
"Ah yes." He kisses her back. "That too."
"And that's a wra–"
The off-screen voice falters. "What is it, Haru?"
"I don't think we got that kiss quite right. We probably should do it again." She looks to Baron. "What do you think?"
Baron grins back. "Oh, most definitely."
"I mean, this is the final kiss of the season."
"It has to be perfect."
"I couldn't have put it better myself."
There is the sound of defeat. "Fine."
Then, quieter, but not quiet enough for the microphone to miss: "Flipping lovebirds."
A/N: Many thanks to my wonderful reviewers, especially if you have stuck with me from the beginning. Without you, TBF would never have got this far. So a huge shoutout to: Wolfie, Nanenna, Suzumehime, James Birdsong, Marshmallow Cloud, Midnight Redhead, WhisperOfWorlds, DiamondAndPearlStories, LilyTaurius04, RosaTrine, Amanda, Valentine Meikin, Trisomia, Ariza Luca, Fairyhaven13, L, atsuyuri_sama, Erufailon4, CactusNoir, slyphantomm, goldendoodle, FollowtheMoon, The_Q, SecondUNIT, Malachite14/All_Greenie, Athena, Golden_Pink, Jay Gill (gilafish), PandaBearofDragonMom, alapest, CoRvid, avenoirie (saemije), roolsilver, walkingthroughthegarden, Katty177, MA_reads, Cupid'sdoll, CosmicDizzy, and finally to each and every anon! Thank you. You keep us writers writing!