Sunday, April 28, 2013

Insert Frankly Disturbing Shipping Here

"Get the fuck OUT, Leonard!"

It was a peculiar feeling, zooming through the air, but it was one Leonard was getting used to pretty quickly. Once upon a time he had leaped through the air, mouth gaping, reading to latch onto his human prey with fearsome incisors.

Now, his airborne experiences tended to come from Jess, usually bodily throwing him out of the Den of Sin when she wanted to use it for her own special purposes. There were always men involved, Leonard pondered. Men with long hair and quite often strange beards. This one was no exception.

Leonard wondered what his personal pet human could be doing with all these men in her room. Maybe they were playing board games? His old brother used to play board games when he wasn't rat-arsed beyond belief. As she also spent quite a lot of time rat-arsed beyond belief, maybe that was what Jess liked to get up to, too.

As his legs were still too stick-like to hold his skinny body off the ground, Leonard dragged himself along the Library corridor, shooting a hiss at Dave as he pelted past. Hopefully someone would have ordered pizza in the past couple of hours... Leonard felt very strongly that he could do with a nice slice or six of his favourite Meat Feast topping.

However, he was very much distracted as the reason for Dave's dash past sped around the corner and nearly collided with him.

Leonard quite liked Shirley. Considering she was a sentient piece of wood and he was a deformed ex-parasitic twin, they had a lot in common. Claws, fangs, inducing mutilation and fear, chasing people... Shirley seemed to be a fan of aiming for the vital organs when she took offense, whereas Leonard had a predilection for ankles... though, of course, that was more because Jess would severely punish him if he started going for the liver again.

Ambling along the corridors, Leonard wondered what to do with himself. When would pizza be arriving? There didn't seem to be anything at the delivery point, which was a shame. With a disappointed hiss, he dragged himself in the direction of the Main Reading Room. Maybe someone would have left some pizza in there...

However, before Leonard could find anything remotely pizza-like, something strange caught his bloodshot eye, shimmering quietly in a side-corridor not far from Jess's room. He edged towards this strange, bizarrely-rainbow coloured patch of air with some trepidation. He'd seen these before... Jess and the others seemed to be going in and out of them all the time. Maybe he'd been through one himself, once upon a time...

Could it possibly be...?

Was it even imaginable...?

Could that be... where the pizza came from?

With a semi-shriek of delight, Leonard hurled his skinny body through the Plothole, and tumbled into another world.


"One of these days I'll get you, you bearded British birdbrain, and you will know a whole new world of pain!" Shirley shook a fist as she drew to a halt at a crossroads in the Library corridors. Damn Dave – he'd managed to get just a tiny bit of a head-start on her after his last punning-related incident. Now he'd disappeared into one of four possible corridors... and Shirley didn't know which one.

Maiming needed to be achieved, and Shirley needed to be the one to achieve it, if she had to search the whole Library Arcanium to do it.

With a huff of annoyance, the rather-beautifully polished (if she said so herself) piece of wood shifted her gaze onto each corridor in turn. Her black eyes narrowed, and she decided she'd try the most obvious hiding place – she knew that Dave's room happened to be in the same nook as Ben's and Jess's, just down the corridor that twisted off to her right.

Shirley's anger levels, never exactly far from the surface, seemed to rise even higher with every metre she covered. She hadn't beaten anyone up for approximately, oh, twenty minutes. To be honest, it was making her tense.

And a sodding great Plothole appearing right in her path wasn't exactly going to make her any happier.

Of course, that's what that over-punning Agent would have done – sprung a Plothole and hidden in another world. Some people would do anything to protect their beloved limbs and vital organs. Pah. Well, Shirley wasn't going to fall for that one... especially if the Agent in question was too dim to close the Plothole behind him! Pausing only to make sure her claws were at their best (she thanked whatever deities pensive planks pray to that she'd given herself a full claw-maintenance check only a few hours earlier) she threw herself head first into the fandom.


Shirley wasn't quite prepared to land herself in the middle of a Lord of the Rings torture scene. Especially when that scene seemed to be in the middle of a post-battle Helms Deep.

"Well, I suppose this is as good a place as any to hide..." was her first thought.

"...did someone else get him first?" was her second.

"Wow, I never noticed how strange his screams are!" was her third.

It took just that long for Shirley to realise that she wasn't the only person to stumble into this fandom... though 'person' was pushing it as a term.

Instinctively, Shirley ducked behind a conveniently situated rampart to fully take in what she was seeing.

Leonard was writhing around as much as he could from his position smashed against a portion of blown-up wall, pinned at the neck by a pair of large, distinctly Aragorn-like hands. His inhuman screeches were almost painful to the ear; many soliders of Rohan were backing away, wincing and covering their ears. Legolas, Gimli, King Theoden and Gamling were gathered loosely around the struggling, shrieking creature, while Gandalf poked him in the stomach with his staff.

"Insolent creature!" the wizard boomed. "Stop that noise and make sense! Why are you here?"

"We were of the impression that you were following Frodo," Aragorn spat. "Is this some kind of trap? Are you leading him here? Or have you decided to follow us instead?"

"It must be some ploy of Saruman," Theoden growled. "This creature must be answerable to him..."

"Gollum has never had any dealings with Saruman, or so I thought..."

"They think Leonard is Gollum!"Shirley laughed to herself. The canon characters, Gandalf in particular, must have been quite surprised that Gollum's appearance had deteriorated quite so much... and that he had lost the power of speech.

"We'll take him to Saruman," Gandalf declared. "This must be one of his more twisted experiments. We shall set out now."

"We'll have to wait," Theoden frowned. "Éomer must come with us... where is he, anyway?"

"The last I saw he was talking to a girl..." said Gimli, slowly. "I must have not seen correctly, for she had purple hair..."

Shirley laughed out loud this time. Now she could see what had happened. The Plothole hadn't been opened by Dave after all... Evidently Jess had tired of heavy metal musicians, and she had moved onto Lord of the Rings characters. Well, most of them had long hair and beards...

"Enough of this," Shirley yelled, leaping from the ramparts into a knot of confused canon characters. "Gimme that... Leonard."

Nobody spoke. Shirley quite hoped that the Library monitors were picking up what she was seeing – she was quite enjoying the look on Gandalf and Aragorn's faces and she was hoping she could show the others back in the Library.

"Now come on, let him go, or you won't like what's coming your way." Shirley flexed one of her claws and grinned malevolently. Ooh, that Aragorn looked like he had a couple of nice kidneys. She wouldn't mind having a go at one of those... or, you know, both.

Sadly, Aragorn let go of Leonard's throat just as Shirley was about to have some fun. With a terrified hiss, Leonard shot towards the still-open Plothole. With a sigh and a shrug, Shirley followed.

The assembled characters just stared at the Plothole for a moment. Gimli looked down at the pipe in his hands.

"I'm going to have to find out what they put in this pipe weed..."

Shirley let out an exasperated sigh as she stepped through the shrinking Plothole back into the Library. She would have liked to spend more time in the fandom in order to further acquaint her jaws with Gimli's trachea, but any longer in Helm's Deep and chances were Leonard would've ended up being eaten by an Orc or something.

"OK, numb-skull... or... half a skull or whatever you want to call yourself, exactly why were you--gah!"

With a shriek, Leonard had pounced at her and appeared to be trying to bite her in half. Shirley stumbled backwards in surprise, trying to decide whether to tear the little freak limb from limb or just to throw him off her when she realized he wasn't attacking, he was giving her a hug.

"OK, OK real nice, but get off!" Shirley snapped, smacking Leonard on the head with a gnarly fist. With a yelp, Leonard toppled over and fell backwards, his stick-like limbs flailing about wildly in the air for several seconds before he managed to right himself. He turned back to Shirley and started jabbering something in a peculiar combination of shrieks and growls.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Shirley waved a hand dismissively. "Little freak nearly ruined my polish." She muttered as she turned to leave.

Leonard watched her go with his head cocked and a strange expression on his face.


It took a couple of hours for news of the stray Plothole to reach Tash's ears. By this time Alice and Louise, who had been on monitor duty at the time, had sensibly and quietly Copyrighted any Lord of the Rings characters who had witnessed the kidnapping of one of their own, along with a deformed humanoid and a bloodthirsty piece of wood apparently storming the fandom. They felt it might be sensible to get things back to normal and perhaps save Jess from some of the inevitable wrath that would be coming her way.

Plus, Jess was still ensconced in the Den of Sin with Éomer and nobody particularly wanted to disturb them.

When Tash found out, mind you, she wasn't quite so considerate.

"JESSICA!" she hollered, stamping down the corridor and slamming open the wooden door. Thankfully, the couple had apparently finished whatever they were doing and were in the process of getting dressed. "You are in big trouble this time!"

"Calm down, dear, it was only a bit of fun." A voice came from under the bed. "There's my bra."

"PHOENIXIA!" Tash's jaw dropped, then she turned to a slightly flushed Jess, who had frozen in the act of pulling her boots on. "Didn't I hear you say once you were straighter than a metre stick?"

"I am not a lesbian – TM." Jess shrugged. "I never said I wasn't up for experimentation."

"And I just couldn't leave this one untested," Phoenixia appeared from under the bed and gave Éomer a pat. His eyes were strangely unfocussed and there was a particularly out-of-character dreamy look on his face. Apparently he'd had a rather good time...

"Right." Tash's voice was measured. "Phoenixia, please take Éomer back to the Lord of the Rings and make sure he's well and truly Copyrighted. You... come with me."

As Phoenixia led an obedient future-King-of-Rohan out of the room, Jess made to follow Tash... but the pair of them were met in the doorway by a rather sorry sight.

"...Leonard?" Jess's eyebrows raised so high they practically became characters of their own.

The small creature on the floor had never looked so pathetic. If his major mode of transport hadn't been dragging himself along on his arms, he would have been dragging his feet as he slowly slid into the room.

"Is... is that a tear?"

Leonard let out a particularly heartfelt sigh, and, barely-formed lips trembling, he made his slow way towards Jess's iPod and speaker. Before either Jess or Tash could react, the (rather incredibly depressing) Nightwish song 'Forever Yours' was blasting out.


Over the next few days, things got worse and worse. Even if Jess had been free to go back to her room from the stacks and stacks of paperwork and cleaning she'd been put in charge of, she wouldn't have wanted to. For roughly eight hours each day, more and more emo-ish music was being played at top volume, while Leonard howled and hissed along.

For the remaining hours of the day, he was tailing the object of his affection everywhere she went, a big-eyed expression of pure adoration on his face. Several Agents had a bet on how long it would take Shirley to crack and cause Leonard some serious bodily harm. Some were privately psychoanalysing why she hadn't broken in the first fifteen minutes and just snapped him into pieces, one limb at a time.

On one particular uneventful day Tyler decided to follow the pair of muses/creatures/whatever they were just to see how many times Shirley yelled "BEAT IT YOU LITTLE FREAK!". He counted twenty three in a period of four hours, interspersed with one incidence of "I WILL EAT YOUR LIVER!" and one over-emotional burst of shrieky crying (the latter from Leonard).

For almost a week, Ben's tolerance of the whole 'affair' was impressive. He seemed to find Leonard's attempts to win Shirley's love amusing, if nothing else – he just had to make sure that he was out of the way at that special hour each day when Shirley finally had enough and had to take out her anger on someone. That was the time of day when Ben closeted himself with Lily and the pair of them firmly barricaded the door.

However, he finally got fed up when things came to a bit of a head and he ended up in the hospital yet again... though for once, it wasn't a Shirley-related injury.

Leonard had changed his approach after god-only-knows-how-many cries of "BEAT IT!" He just hadn't been able to understand how his dogged devotion wasn't working – he had even tried to get Shirley to come and play Monopoly with him. What could be more of a draw than that?

But then Leonard found himself watching Harriet wander into her office, clutching an armful of flowers and explaining to Emily that her boyfriend had given them to her. From the way she was smiling at the time, she had to be happy...

A plan was forming in Leonard's small mind.


"It's good to be free," Shirley sighed, enjoying a rare moment of peace in Ben's room. "Leonard must be off listening to Paramore again."

"Has he washed off the Magic Marker yet?" Ben asked, striking a random chord on Bahamut and causing the light fitting to shudder.

"God knows," Shirley rolled her eyes and cracked her knuckles. "I know he's an emo now but trying to look like he was wearing eyeliner? Too far..."

"Oh, I'm not sure," Ben grinned. "There's the hair..."

"The hair," Shirley cracked her knuckles harder. "We are not mentioning the hair."

"For a creature with only about three strands of hair, getting them into a side-fringe was pretty impressive." Ben paused. "Especially as he took the Magic Marker to them, too."

Shirley groaned.

"You should be flattered, really," Ben pointed out.

Shirley opened her mouth to speak... but suddenly the Library was rocked by a fearsome holler.


"That didn't sound good..." Ben leapt to his feet, clutching Bahamut.


"Oh," the Agent sat down again. "It's just Phoenixia. Maybe someone let some poisonous slugs in from somewhere again."

Shirley raised an eyebrow. "She sounds pretty angry this time... Oh no. Oh, we're for it."

The reason for Phoenxia's irk was poking his (still covered in black Magic Marker stains) head around the door... a 'bouquet' of somewhat bedraggled-looking flowers extending towards Shirley.

Shirley groaned. "You again?"

Leonard growled something softly and pushed the ragged flowers a little closer to Shirley.

"OK, OK, fine," the Clichè Stick snapped, snatching the flowers, causing several dying petals to flutter to the floor. "Now beat it!"

She rolled her eyes and turned back to a snickering Ben as Leonard shuffled out, feeling that he may at last have accomplished something.

"You'd better not let Phoenixia catch you," Ben snickered. "She'll blast you from here to next week!"

"Oh, I don't intend to," Shirley said, tossing the flowers at Ben and running out of the room.

Ben caught the flowers awkwardly with a confused look on his face. "Hey, what do I do with these?"

He got up to follow his muse just as Phoenixia appeared in the doorway, Incandescent Silverriegn in her hands and murder on her mind.

"Oh, snap."

Ben tried to hide the stolen flowers behind his back, but it was too late.

"So it was you!" Phoenixia shouted.

All color drained from Ben's face.

"No! Wait! Listen, it wasn't me, it was—"

"Hold still!"







"Right, Shirley, this has got to stop." Ben groaned, struggling to sit up in his designated hospital bed (it seemed to him like he spent more time in it that he did in his normal bed).

"It really does," Lily scowled from the chair beside Ben's bed (it seemed to her like she spent more time on it than she did on any other chair in the Library).

"I agree," Shirley heaved a sigh. "I'm the only one who's meant to send you to this bed... But." She paused. "This is so... strange. I actually don't want to hurt him."

"Shirley..." Lily began. "Are you...?"

"Shut it! Right, I'm off to talk to him."

"He won't be far away," Ben provided helpfully. "I'm surprised he hasn't come in here yet with chocolates. Or tried serenading you..."

"He already tried that," said Shirley grimly.

"Be nice to him, Shirley," Valerie bustled over, privately thinking 'if you can'. "He's only just working out what it is to be human, and whatever he looks like now, he is human. Sort of. He can't seem to control his feelings and emotions, you need to take a gentle path with him or else he might regress entirely."

"Gentle," Shirley scoffed. "Well, I'll try."

Shirley had to admit there was something almost sweet in the way Leonard's scrunched-up little face lit up when she marched determinedly into Jess's room, giving the iPod speaker a firm whack and shutting up Evanescence mid-wail.

"Right you, we need a discussion." Shirley put her hands where hips would be on your average human. "This has got to stop."

Leonard looked up at her, naked admiration in his eyes, and gave a gentle hiss.

"I know you're only just discovering your humanity or whatever it was Val was on about. But this is getting too much. So I saved your life – I'd have done it for anyone in the Society."

Leonard raised what would have been an eyebrow, if he had more hair. In a split second, Shirley realised that what she had just said wasn't entirely true.

"Oh fine, fine. So I like you." Shirley sighed loudly as Leonard nearly knocked her off balance in one of his clumsy attempts at a hug. "Woah, calm down, I don't like you that much. Now if this is going to work, I don't want you hanging around me all the time, all right? I need space."

Leonard nodded eagerly.

"And another thing, I'm a busy piece of wood, I have lots of things to do and not enough time to do them. I could definitely use your help with a few things..." Shirley's black eyes took on a slightly evil glint. "First things first... I never quite got Dave back for that Stonehenge pun. You know what to do."

With a happy growl, Leonard scampered off.

"What have I got myself in for?" Shirley sighed. "Oh well. Everyone needs a devoted slave or two."


As Leonard dragged himself happily down the corridors, he felt his first twinges of triumph. He knew stealing those flowers would get results...

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