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 Post subject: The modern Atas
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
Posts: 6
I've been doing some writing while bored, because for a long time I've been wondering what the modern equivalent of our characters would be. While some of us are in lines of work that still exist, such as being a Monarch, other jobs like blacksmith and shaman not so much. Blacksmiths for the most part became mechanics, but one could argue a lot of things a shaman might be today from priest to magician.

The hardest of these of all was Happastance. Essentially, he's always been a character that although cheerful, is in many ways very sad. It's also key that he's a product of being through a lot of the worst situations that are available in any time period, and coming out on the other side if not just fine, at least often appearing that way. So the stories are generally at least tangentially tied to him.

So, just a few things to keep in mind for this one. Characters have different names than their medieval counterparts. Other characters, like Victor, have no direct counterpart, and some appearances are practically cameos. Lastly, most of my characters have fucked up names. The one that is easiest to pronounce is Lhapzci, which is pronounced "Lopsy".


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
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One Hand Dirties the Other


Jacqueline had been a royal her entire life, but this was the first year of being the actual Queen. She'd known that it would involve quite a bit more work than being a princess, but she'd never counted on just how much complete bullshit that it all required.

After all, one might expect that the Queen of England would have to meet with heads of state from even the smaller of nations, but who knew that the President of Chile happened to also be the writer of some of the most insufferable boring poetry known to man? Who knew that the Prime Minister of Georgia has terrible coffee breath, and always sat too close? Jackie really enjoyed smiling through an hour of that.

She groaned as she looked at the calendar and saw that she still have over a dozen meetings left in the week. It had been even worse than usual as she attempted to pile everything she could into this week, in hopes that her visit to America would actually include some leisure time.

She signed the latest budget approval for the Palace's food budget, and dumped it on top of a large pile of equally boring paperwork she'd completed. She checked her email, rolled her eyes, and picked up a walkie talkie she kept on her desk. Technically it was for the guards, and she had more dignified ways of getting into contact with who she wanted, but this way was always fastest.

"Victor, what's this latest urgent security threat?" she'd ask, tossing the walkie talkie down. She never got a response over it. She simply rubbed her sore writing hand, and looked towards the doorway of her office.

Just as she knew he would, Victor walked in, carrying a manilla folder as always. "Mum, it's about the UN transportational security subcommittee head."

Jackie stared at him with a deadpan expression, her chin in her palms. "Oh, now, [i]this[/i] sounds exciting, Victor! Let me guess, if I don't speak out about seatbelt safety, nobody will?"

This was a dig in several ways. Victor took his job as head of security very seriously, and she knew that it bothered him that she never wore her seatbelt. "I'm surrounded by a full motorcade. I think we'll be fine." she'd remind him." But that was Victor. As much as he loved to overreact, she couldn't possibly think of someone better suited to the job. In addition to that, she quite liked his personality. He was respectful, but he recognized her as a person, and spoke to her in a manner much closer to normalcy than she usually got.

"No, Mum. This one's serious. He's not real."

"Mmm. Pity. Well, cancel the meeting, and move Spiderman up."

"Hilarious, Mum. No, I mean that his credentials don't check out. They do at first, but on every small detail, it eventually doesn't pan out."

"And how exactly did someone with fake papers make it all the way to meeting with me?"

"Precedent. I've been looking into it for three days, and here's where it gets stranger- he's been meeting with world leaders for years. We can find pictures of him at countless major events. If he's up to something nefarious, he's certainly biding his time."

"Okay... I will admit, this is starting to actually get interesting. So maybe we're the first to know? Not all places have Victors. You were the last one at the store."

Victor gave a token smile. His lack of a sense of humor, and his annoyance at having to, ironically, humor her, was one of the small treats throughout her day that kept her going. "Unlikely, Mum. He's met with everyone, and I seriously doubt that he's fooled everyone. Anyone we rang just played dumb."

"I guess we'll find out what he's up to tomorrow."

"You're still planning on meeting with him? After what I just told you?"

"Well aren't you curious too, Victor? Maybe he's just a very safety-minded citizen who didn't have the qualifications for his dream job." she'd say, loving Victor's slow blink of resignation.


------------------------------------------------------------


The next day, preparations were made for meeting their new guest. Extra security precautions were taken, but the actual identity was discovered almost immediately. Upon looking in the gentleman's bag, Victor saw something he'd never seen before, yet he knew exactly what it was. And who that meant their guest was.

"That is what I think it is, isn't it?"

"Yes, yes it is."

"And may I... xray it....?"

"Yes. But be careful, it's worth a good 30 million."

Victor had the man seated in a parlor, and went to inform the Queen of who had come to visit.

"Mum, it seems that our guest is none other than Pewter Powers."

"Okay.... so I have a meeting with a pimp? Or a southern blues musician?"

"Arms dealer, Mum. He goes by colorful nicknames such as "Pew-Pew" and "Pow-Pow."

Jackie snickered. "What a dork. Sounds like Barney and Betty had another kid."

Victor just squinted.

"The Flintstones. Their kid was Bam-Bam?"

"Never watched it, Mum."

"Sad."

"Can we please stay on the matter at hand?"

"Fine. What's he wanna sell me? We've got the bomb."

"That.... is a good question."

Despite Victor's token objections, Jackie decided to meet with her guest. He thanked her for the tea he had while waiting, and took a seat. He was dressed expensively- getting awfully close to that pimp thing again. His jewelry was excessive to the point where it was all looking like costume jewelry. Quite a statement when a Royal is thinking that about you.

"So, my man Victor informs me that your name is Pewter Powers....?"

"Let me guess- the helmet gave it away! Everyone always wants to see it. I just have to bring it along, even if I have to be incognito."

He reached into his bag and produced a gigantic golden helmet covered in glowing screens and set it on her desk. "Yes, it is a real Courtes and Fougeral, and no, I will not say how I got them to make it for me."

Jackie looked the helmet over. The screens flashed and geometric shapes flowed from one end to the other. She idly poked at it to see if it was a touchscreen. It wasn't. Pewter immediately took a pocket square and rubbed at the spot where she had touched it until satisfied that no fingerprint was left. It was neat, but seemed rather pointless. Which matched her opinion of the man before her.

"Okay, this has been fun, and your helmet is pretty, but I'm a very busy woman who already has an army. I'm not exactly in the market."

Sensing the dismissiveness, he went all in. "I knew your mother."

This was a serious claim. Jackie's mother wasn't the sort to play with snakes, no matter how pretty their scales. "I beg your pardon, but she would have mentioned dealing with the likes of you."

"I didn't say that she dealt with me. Or liked me. But she knew me. Everyone does. And I'm willing to bet she kept my card, even if she never showed it to anyone."

"And you're here to give me one of those cards now."

"Amongst other things, yes."

She didn't physically take the card when offered, but that didn't stop him from laying it on her desk. He then pulled a beautiful Gucci tote back into his lap and produced several more things. A phone, a tablet, and a tiny remote with just one button on it. Curious.

"Mm, the gifts are nice, but I already have a phone and a tablet. I don't need a garage opener either, I have people for that."

Where Victor would sigh, Pewter howled with laughter, slapping his knee and pointing at her as if to say "I see what you did there!" Good lord that man was a ham.

"Very good your Majesty! Okay, okay, so the phone and the tablet are completely secure ways to reach me. That other one is your emergency FOB- press that button, and my entire organization drops everything and we solve your problems. Keep it somewhere safe, it's an expensive button to hit by accident."

"I've still yet to see why I would need, or want, any of this. I told you, I have an army."

"No, your COUNTY has an army. One that you don't get to use until you ask Parliament pretty please. And sure, you have the button to let the nukes fly, but only because we all know that's endgame. If you wanna do something smaller than ending the world, you're expected to explain yourself! No, what I provide is the best of the old and new. The old is you getting to run your country like you want to, and get what you want when you ask for it. The new part is the speed of it. Even when those old fucks can get together and agree on something, they do it at a snails pace while people you could easily crush make a fool of you."

Jackie didn't actually have a smarmy retort to that one. Pewter continued.

"It goes both ways! Need a few million just to appear? You've got plenty of equity that my firm would be eager to have, even if just to rent. Sure would feel nice to know that a hospital can be built for the small price of one eensy little missile. We subtly acquire the collateral, replacing it with a convincing facsimile so that no one is the wiser, and bing bang boom! Little Johnny and Sally can grow up without rickets. However you wish to use our services is fully up to you- we just provide you with options. I'm sure you can see the value in that."

Jackie frowned. From clown to hedge fund manager in a few minutes. She felt like she'd just been had by a used car salesman, and was signing on a used Hyundai. "There.... are a few points there. Thank you for visiting."

"I know I've given you a lot to think about. Tell you what- visit my showroom, I'll give you the tour, and you'll see that I'm the real deal."

"I'll consider it."


---------------------------------------------------
The Queen had indeed considered the offer, but it didn't take her long to decide. The location of the showroom was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from any landmass or shipping lane. Essentially a complete trap in the making. Going there was asking for kidnapping.

So she sent Victor.

Arrangements were made, and despite every objection he could imagine, Victor found himself on a small boat heading towards a half sunk freighter surrounded by smaller ships. Though they all looked like abandoned wrecked, they were all manned, and all armed. As he approached, a flare shot into the air. Victor's men gave the return signal, three flares fired at once, one straight up, the other two in opposite 45 degree angles. Weapons were lowered, and Victor was allowed to board.

On the derelict cargo ship, he was met by your typical modern pirate types. AK-47's, undershirts, and a general look of shiftiness. "You come this way." one ordered, leading him to a bulkhead door. "You put this on." he would say, giving him a shoulder mounted camera. Once it was on, and Jackie could view through her tablet, the piratey type radioed in. "Okay, is ready." he'd say, opening the door to reveal a room so dimly lit that nothing could be seen but pools of light directly beneath the lamps, and a shadowy figure.

"Welcome, welcome, WELCOME!" boomed the voice of the figure. Music began to play, and the lights began to fade up.

[Editor's note- Optional music! - https://youtu.be/wVrCZOiDlDo]

As the music increased in volume, new, bright lights would turn on, highlighting displays of wares, each one appropriately impressive for it's corresponding musical cue. An artistic display of three dozen M-4 assault rifles stacked to the ceiling on each other in asymmetrical flow, affixed to each other by their barrels. A nine foot tall pyramid of hand grenade. Three artillery pieces arranged in dramatic fashion.

Victor just stared at the highly choreographed show, but hadn't been doing his part. He'd barely even looked at the only other person in the giant room, due to something new appearing every three seconds or so. When he was approached, Victor saw that now fully lit, the figure was anything but shadowy. Pewter Powers visiting them was practically just to get them ready for the real thing.

Pewter Powers was a showy man. The sort of person to wear $100,000 worth of jewelry wherever they go. Shoes you can see yourself in. Watches that cost as much as a small Villa. This was not Pewter Powers.

This was Pew-Pew.

Clearly a different person than before, he was a large man. But what really made him most similar to a professional wrestler was his sense of style, as well as pageantry. There was a limit to how many rings one could physically fit on one's hands and still be able to pick something up. There was a limit to how many endangered species one can incorporate into one's outfit at one time. There's a limit to how large a decorative mask can be, and how loaded with electronics it can be, before one suffers permanent neck damage.

Pew-Pew was seemingly on a quest to find all of those limits and so many more. Victor felt like he could stare at this weirdo for an hour and keep noticing new depths of gaudiness. Was that vest panda fur? Was that a papal ring? Is that a chain necklace carved from an entire elephant tusk? As much as he wanted to keep staring, just standing there threatened to ruin the show. Pew-Pew put his hand on Victor's back and urged him forward.

"Come, come. So much to see."

He wasn't joking. Before long, they were walking past all manner of vehicles, from large trucks to tanks to APCS to self-mobile missiles. All along the walls were screens displaying other items such as boats and even submarines, along with generic stock footage of dramatically waving British flags. The whole place looked like Apple merged with a military weapons manufacturer, then decided to build a modern art museum to themselves to celebrate.

As the music swelled, the house lights went up and Victor could see that suspended from the roof were aircraft of all types, mostly jets and helicopters- all far newer than Victor would like to see in the hands of this fellow. What was hard to ignore was Mighty Molly.

Victor had heard about Molly, but hadn't believed the rumors. Most tacky scumbags with too much money like to celebrate by buying themselves a gold plated Desert Eagle or AK-47 to show off to their friends. Pew-Pew had some rich friends, and even more showing off to do. Parked in the middle of the room was a gigantic B-52 bomber clad completely in gold. Well, not completely, as silver filigree must have totaled miles when added up from all the plane. Countless designs and phrases littered the thing. It was the most insane thing Victor had ever seen.

He really wished it had stayed that way.

As they passed the plane, the music started to build again, getting ready to drop the beat. In the back of the room, lights started to illuminate two at a time. A gigantic cylinder in the back of the room was being lit up from the bottom to the top. By the time it hit the third story, Victor was already feeling like he was about to throw up. He went pale, and couldn't help but mutter to himself.

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no......"

He knew before the entire thing was illuminated exactly what it was.

That was an ICBM.

This was a nightmare. That thing could strike anywhere in the world in roughly 14 minutes. An entire city gone. And more than likely, the start of a worldwide nuclear holocaust. In the hands of Macho Man fucking Randy Savage over there. Victor didn't have time to get angry at the world that would let something like this happen, as when the bass dropped, the finale of the show went with it.

The missile launched.

Blinding light was first, and half a second later, the sound along with the hot air blasting past him. He dove for the ground and held his hands over his head, hoping to live through being so close to such a large missile launching.

As he looked up, he could see that it looked wrong. Also, his ears were ringing like hell, but he wasn't outright deaf, he could still hear the music blasting. "COMING SOON!" in white text flashed up on the projection of the missile. It had all been the work of a powerful sound system and a few fans blowing the hot tropical air into the heavily air conditioned showroom. His hands were still shaking and he struggled to catch his breath after his near death experience.

As the music faded out and such, Pew-Pew approached victor, or more specifically, his shoulder camera. "Hope you enjoyed the show, Your Majesty! Pew-Pew!" he'd say, making finger guns at the camera. "Boop!" he'd say, pressing the button on the camera to turn it off. He pulled the camera off and tucked it into his pocket before walking away.

He'd take a seat up on a tank's tread, and lean against the turret. He noticed Victor was still there.

"Show's over, thanks for comin'. Don't forget your tote bag on the way out."

Victor gathered himself, and left. He didn't forget his tote bag. Jackie got electronics, and he got a bunch of promotional crap.

He threw his "I Heart Pew-Pew's" T-shirt in the ocean.

---------------------------------------------------
"Mum, when I get back, I'm burning that card. There is no way we're dealing with him. He's an absolute madman."

"Well, you'll have to wait an extra week to do it, I'm already on the way to America."

"You.... left without me....?"

"Victor, I know you don't like it, but you need rest, and I don't need your downer routine getting in the way of this. It's been forever since I've seen Happy."

Victor immediately set to booking himself a flight to Los Angeles from the nearest island with an airport.


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 Post subject: Always Happy
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
Posts: 6
Always Happy

Despite an almost continuous run of theatrical productions and rather frequent appearances on film, and series of less than advisable, not exactly frugal investments, as well as a massive settlement over his action figures had left the Dblenomedlenov household in need of extra income. It had taken until the third try for Happy to realize that hovercrafts simply weren't up to the challenges of being a daily driver.

"Oh! I didn't see you there. If you've met me in person, and I hope you have, you know I'm fast. Fast friends. Fast cars. Breakfast. You get it." He'd say directly to the camera, walking past pictures of sports cars. "Just being fast is good, but what's better is staying fast. For that, I trust Penzoil synthetic, specially blended for newer models." He'd say, unscrewing the cap on the bottle.

Film sets are quiet by design- however, it was eerie the level of silence achieved when an entire crew holds their breath at the same time. Only the quiet whirring of the camera could be heard as Happy casually upended the bottle, glugging gulp after gulp of motor oil. He didn't finish it, but he did manage to polish off half a quart before smiling into the camera, holding up the bottle for the audience to see.

Fifteen whole seconds passed before the director could pull himself together enough to say "...cut.". The moment that word was uttered, the studio exploded into a frenzy of activity, with Happy simultaneously being rushed a medic, his lawyer, the studio's lawyer, and the producer. The medic, who had been in such a hurry to get to Happy didn't actually know what to do, and just sort of watched. Happy was the first one to speak, looking to the producer. "I know I can't say it to the public, but that stuff really sucks, Charles." Before long, the exchange was getting heated. When asked what he though "newer models" meant, Hap was quick to point out that he was indeed a new model, having recently became the face of Hollister.

Happy did not die from this, though, though he did vomit on Charles. In the end, they commercial ran as it was shot, albeit with lots of disclaimers.


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 Post subject: Bye Bye Birdman
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
Posts: 6
After months of being seen shilling motor oil and clothing made by Bangladeshi children, people had started to forget that Happy had legitimate acting chops. Sure, he was still in plays, but only as a self referential stunt casting sort of way, either as a parody of himself with a wink at the audience, or straight laced characters who balk at drug use and irresponsible behavior.

The task to reminding the world that actual talent resided within Happy fell to Leonard Inge. Leonard had represented Happy from the very beginning, and the two had a special bond. "Fuck you, Lenny. I'm tired. I don't wanna do it." Happy said over the phone.

"Fuck you, Lhapzci. You need money. I can hear you're in a casino."

"What's your point? I just did that Penzoil commercial, that thing is running around the clock. Where's my money from that?"

"Okay, we're actually suing each other at the moment, but that's besides the point. You used to do Shakespeare all the time, but now it's been over two years since you were in a movie as anyone other than yourself. People think you've lost it. "

"Eat. My. Ass."

"A car is picking you up Tuesday morning for an audition. You're either in that car and wowing the casting director, or I'm closing down the Emu Farm."

The Emu Farm was not in fact, an emu farm, but rather Happy's most treasured of assets, a nightclub of his own design. Due to the city of Leeds declaring Happy "A toxic influence whose morals fall well short of the high standards of the city", mixed with the fact that whenever he visited they expected him to make business decisions and actually run his club, Happy never was able to frequent his beloved club.

Over the phone Leonard could hear as an exasperated sigh evolved into a full scream of anger and frustration, as if he was attempting to turn into the hulk through sheer anger. Leonard could only imagine the looks at the casino, but the call didn't end with his number one client being tackled by security.

"FINE. Fine fine fine fine fine fuck you fine. If you touch a goddammed coaster at the Emu Farm I'll kill you. Then they'll throw me a parade because everyone will be so happy you're dead. "

"Good talking to you too, Lhapzci , try not to trip and fall dick first into anything too unclean, huh?"

"I hate you so much that I'm going to go touch myself while thinking about your casket lowering into the grave."

"I just told you not to get sexual with anything filthy. "

"Just... oh my fucking god. I'm going to drive my car through your fucking house. Brekkie is going to be goo coating my tires, and I'm going to make you lick it off."

Breckenridge was Leonard's beloved cockatiel.

"Do not joke about that. Brekkie is your age, you two share a birthday month. Stay healthy, I love you, Lhapzci ."

"Yeah, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. Tell Brekkie I'm sorry. Still going at myself while thinking about your funeral though. I'm totally going to deface your grave. Love you too, Lenny."

Leonard had later been overheard saying that "I'm not sure he knows he can fire me.", which worked out in several ways- for one thing, Leonard was the one constant in all of Happy's life. He was also easily the strongest influence, almost never to Happy's approval, but almost always to his benefit. He knew every secret, ran the books, got the jobs, and managed the dozen strong legal team that kept the actor out of prison.

In reality, the Emu Farm had been closed for years. After dumping all the real work on Leonard then almost never showing up, Leonard smartly closed the place down before it could bankrupt his client, and within three months. It was much cheaper to rent an existing club, get the old decorations put of storage, and basically create a new club every time Happy visited. Still, Leonard could use the theoretical club as leverage whenever he needed, as Happy never expected a profit to begin with.

Sure enough, with the threat of his already closed club closing as a threat, Happy not only showed up to the audition sober, but he even got the part. His role wasn't huge, but it was important - he was to play a young, not yet grizzled Ernest Hemingway. Although his audition was stellar, his on set performances lacked luster. It was as if he didn't give a shit about the part, and was only doing it for the money. Frank York, the director, was quickly becoming frustrated with the actor his casting directors hired. After a very boring take, he'd had enough. When Happy asked for a sparkling mineral water, Frank lost it.

"Okay, as far as I'm concerned, you're done, you little shit. I don't think you know who the fuck Hemingway was. He was a man about passion. Living life. Action. Drama. He was a man's man who got angry about shit, not a limp wristed fa-"

Frank didn't stop because he was tackled by Happy, but because he saw Happy running at him. A moment later, Happy was midair, and Frank was running. Happy caught him by the legs, pulled himself flush with his director via his tie, whereupon he'd straddle Frank, and rain as many punches into his face as he could before being pulled off him.

The people who pulled Happy off Frank were just random sound techs and such- when Happy turned on them, they let go quickly. Before anyone could figure out what was happening, Happy was already running across the craft services table, sending steamer trays and lit cans of sterno all over the place. By the time the crew was done literally putting out fires, Happy was long gone. Production assistants checked with the studio's check in gates, but Happy never checked out. They searched the lot until someone mentioned seeing Happy hop the fence. He was officially AWOL.

What ensued was a large scale, secret manhunt. Though Happy technically had the right to leave, he'd also arguably committed attempted murder. The studio wasn't especially upset about that, though they certainly noticed the missing $600,000 camera. Happy was last seem swinging it like a club at anyone attempting to reason with him.

The first call made was to Leonard, who quickly became the hub of the search. He even had a preferred detective agency that had found Happy several times before. After a few hours, they had their first lead- Happy had purchased a tent, clothes, a 12-Guage shotgun, food, and lots of rope. He'd paid cash, but the clerk recognized him, and mentioned it on Twitter. From there, they knew what he had, and the general direction he was headed.

Two months passed.

Leonard had been the most help of anyone, but had still come up dry. When asked about how long Happy might last camping in the desert by himself, he relayed the story if the time all other hotels had been booked, and Leonard put Happy up in a motel 6, only to get calls about a mental breakdown withing 45 minutes. Even so, Leonard was the most adamant that Happy was still alive. "If he dies, regardless of how it happens, I go to prison for the rest of my life. " he refused to elaborate.

During this world at large had no idea anything was amiss- Leonard maintained Happy's twitter feed, posting old photos old him vacationing in Serbia.

The trail finally got picked up again when Happy's tent was found, occupied by a homeless man under a freeway overpass. The homeless man had traded a fifth of vodka for it, and directed the crew towards an industrial park.

When Frank and Shelly, the key grip who desperately needed college credits, arrived to retrieve Happy, the warehouse workers behaved strangely. Happy had bribed them, but they were all still terrified of the legal consequences, and all flipped rapidly. He was on the second floor. After Frank and Shelly rode the elevator up, the operator took the car back down, clearly wanting no part of any of this.

A small, hunched over figure in the corner didn't react to being approached, nor reacted to anything said. Just quiet sobbing. When Frank put his hand on his star's shoulder, he realized that the figure wasn't Happy. In several ways. The terrified girl clutching a wad of bills had distracted Frank long enough for Happy to get the drop on him.

Happy had always been famously anti-violence, anyone who knew him knew that.

According to Leonard, the incident two months ago was the first time Happy had ever struck anyone.

Now, he seemed determined to make his second ever act of violence a straight up murder. The large open space echoed with unintelligible yelling from Happy and desperate, gurgling screams from Frank as he struggled to get air, the yellow crowbar pressed hard against his throat.

Frank knew he was going to die. He could see it in Happy's eyes, could feel his larynx being crushed as the 110 pound actor used every bit of strength he could muster to crush the life out of his director. Shelly knew it too- she fled back to the elevator, frantically mashing the button to summon the car again. However, freight elevator a do not come when you call them. Instead, it just rings a bell to tell whoever is on the other floor to send the car. The loud ring of the bell didn't drown out Happy's yells, but rather stopped them.

"Whoooo! God damn that was a rough one. I'm hungry. " Happy said, dropping the crowbar with a loud clang as he looked for craft services, as if expecting to see a fruit and cheese plate ten feet away. Frank was rolling around on the ground, gasping for air and holding his neck, attempting to figure out whether his voice box had been crushed, or it just felt like it. Shelly was scared out of her mind after almost watching her boss get murdered. Tears streamed down her face as she held herself, leaning against the elevator that had failed to come to her rescue. Happy, was happy.

He had done it. Although there would never be an official declaration of it, Happy had shattered the world record for longest continuous take, at a staggering 74 days, seven hours, 22 minutes. Even with the footage recovered from the camera, there was nowhere near enough footage to complete the movie even if the studio wanted to- which they didn't. They were eager to bury the project, relegation relegating the project to a urban legend.

It's agreed that the public will never hear the greatest stories, the ones only known to the poor bastards involved. Amongst those poor bastards, the unanswered question was always whether or not Happy did it all on purpose. Everyone knew he was stupid, but was he that stupid? Some think it was all about what Frank was trying to call him, while Leonard theorized it was the insult to Happy's talent that set him off.

Frank never worked again. Happy pretended to have forgotten he was ever a part of the project. Leonard put a black and white photo of Happy as a young Ernest Hemingway in with the rest of his headshots.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
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The Ougadougouan Connection

"Victor, have you been drinking?"

"No, Mum. Our planners say he's perfect. Fits every criteria."

"Happy is not a field agent. Period. I'll ask you again, have you been drinking?"

"Not a drop, Mum."

Victor had been drinking.

"So why is it you think that instead of sending any one of the dozens of qualified agents, I should send my close personal friend, whom is famously bisexual, to Burkina Faso to meet with an Islamic extremist group? I mean, he's not even British for God's sake."

"That's exactly it. If it were one of our own getting caught, they'd just behead him and be done with it. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa they know celebrities are worth a pretty penny. Being American means we have total deniabilty. On top of that, he's fluent in Farsi."

"He is not."

"We checked multiple times on that one."

The Queen had to parse out what was going on- her security team hated Happy with a passion. He was essentially a walking security risk who treated the palace as a playhouse to which he could invite himself. Victor in particular wouldn't mind seeing Happy's obituary, but even if he'd decided to have him killed, this all seemed needlessly complicated.

"Fine. I'll call him. But only because I haven't seen him in a while. You know he'll never do it."

Happy was sometimes the best friend in the worst way. "I would love to help! Anything to serve my nation. "

This threw even the Queen for a loop. She known him almost his entire life, and this was a new one.

"Happy, you're not British. "

"Ask Lenny, he knows all that stuff."

The Queen and Victor exchanged glances. She was nervous about the idea of sending her friend on the mission, and Happy wasn't helping. Victor decided to step in.

"The mission itself is very simple. You are to fly to Burkina Faso and deliver funds to the LDMA, an extremist group. They in turn will focus their attention on the FSD, another, far worse group. Your contact will meet you at a restaurant, you will give him the money, then you get right back to the airport. The second you leave Burkina Fasoan airspace your mission will be considered complete."

Happy was amusing himself with the bag of supplies, flipping through the pages of a book. Victor resisted the urge to slap the book out his hands, instead gently taking it away and placing it back in the bag. He shoved a glass of gin into Happy's hands with the hopes it would keep him from grabbing anything else.

"That book is extremely important. The pages are all made of money covered with a removable dye. Your phone cannot make calls, and the battery will allow the screen to glow for roughly 40 seconds. The rest of the insides is all money. Every part of your luggage is filled with disguised cash of different currencies totalling four million pounds. Instructions to retrieve it all is in your file. Memorize it, because you cannot take it with you. " Victor said, plopping plopping the file in Happy's lap.

"Now, what's important is that it is all black money. That means it cannot be traced back to us, and we don't have to tell taxpayers what we spend it on. It's fucking hard to get, and it took us a bloody eternity to get this much of it. That means NO spending it. If you want a drink or a whore or whatever, you'll have to spend from your own pocket."

Happy just nodded and gave a wrong salute.

-----------------------------------------------------
Jackie first noticed something amiss when the drinks cart passed by her office. Eight samovars of tea and coffee were headed to the mission control room, about four times as much as usual. There wasn't supposed to be anything happening at all that day. She got up to follow the cart, hoping to God she didn't see what she expected to.

Sure enough, a large map of Burkina Faso was projected on the wall. Control techs filled the room, some pulling up flight statuses of fighter jets, but most were just watching the main feed. Any tech that noticed the Queen looked nervous to see her. She gently placed a hand on the shoulder of the poor sap unfortunate enough to be seated closest to her.

"Would you care to enlighten me as to why a mission involving my friend has launched four days early, and I was not informed?"

"Uh, well Mum, technically the mission hasn't started yet, he booked his own flight there. It's still theoretically possible that he could return here in time and board the correct flight. "

"We.... that's not going to happen. And just do whatever it is that starts the mission." She'd sigh.

The tech pressed a few buttons and leaned into his microphone. "10:36 am, hour one of Operation Sugar Daddy has begun. Agent D... Dub.... Dblenomen.... "

"Just fucking call him Happy."

"Agent... Happy has gone rogue, and suspected hostile."

"He hasn't, and us not."

The tech didn't really know what to say instead, and went quiet. The whole room had gone quiet as everyone watched the main feed, and satellite view of the Ouagadougou airport. A timer had counted down to zero, and was now going negative, indicating that his flight had landed. Things were heating up as they searched through the crowd of people exiting the terminal.

"Agent is wearing a blue shirt. Twitter has confirmed. " The tech said, soon adding "There. There there there there there." He said pointing to the screen. "No no, left." Some else piped in. The screen split, then split again. And again. Seven screens each showed a blurry blue dot. Jackie was the first to eliminate one.

"Far right- he's tying his shoes. Happy rarely wears laces, and when he does, he never ties them. "

Eventually, someone bothered to calculate how long of a shadow Happy should cast at that time of day. One after one, the screens went dark, leaving just a black void.

"Mum, please....." The poor sap would say. Jackie had never actually removed her hand from his shoulder, and now was gripping it rather hard.

Tense moments passed until some yelled "I got him!", and put a tweet up on screen.

"Holy shit! Is that #Happy?" It certainly was. He had apparently changed shirts while on the plane, and was now wearing white. He was also in the back of a car that wasn't a taxi. The plates were run, but the owner of the car was a nobody.

Victor had only gotten off his shift three hours ago, but was now hurriedly walking into the room. He did his very best to avoid the royal glare directed at him, and tried to take control of the situation.

"I need a full sitrep and ETA on all services."

"Well, he arrived in the city about a half hour ago, but we're about to lose him in the shanty town. "

"The hell do you mean 'lose' him?"

"The streets are narrowed and covered. We can pick him up again, but we won't know if he's still in the car or if he got out."

Victor looked as if he couldn't believe how someone so stupid could be hired to work at the palace.

"Satell- just ping his fucking transponder!", Victor snarled, already reaching over the tech to press the button himself as the tech stammered his objections.

A photo of a familiar, smiling face appeared with a pleasant chime, and the computer confidently reported that Happy was in the middle of London, about thirty feet away.

"He, uh, didn't take his survival bag, Sir."

Jackie and Victor both sighed and rubbed at the bridges of their noses. Victor was the first to speak.

"Right, any other disasters? Did he give the money to the FSD instead of the LDMA?"

"No, but he is heading into an FSD controlled area. He won't give them the money though."

"You sound awfully sure."

"Well, he didn't take the money either. We counted, it's all there."

Just as predicted, Happy was gone again. Eventually the car was found again, but it parked, and the driver got out. Unless Happy was sitting in a car in the middle of summer in Africa for no reason, it was safe to assume he was in the shanty town. Or he got a ride in a different car. It was all becoming a grand cup and ball routine.

As minutes without updates turned into hours, all anyone could do was search, and plan. Nothing made sense, even by Happy standards. If this was some sort of grand betrayal, why didn't he bother to take the money? If he wanted to succeed, why didn't he take the money? Mission analysts were forced to prep for both possibilities. Victor's pet project involved an old Phantom fighter jet and lots of paint.

"A stealth fighter is no good here-" He explained. "If a missile falls out of the sky and nobody picks up anything on radar, it's a pretty short list of who sent it. The Phantom is in use by a few local powers, so they'll think we're one of them on radar. If they get visual, we're fucked- the damned thing has a Union Jack on it and everything."

Victor dug into his workstation and began putting together the only real option for action. The timetable was far too short for anything other than air power to make a difference, and the only difference it could make would happen via a pair of 500 pound JDAMs . Jackie didn't bother asking whether the Phantom was going to save Happy or kill him. She knew full well that Victor was planning to be ready for either. Hours passed.

With no new information to work with, all they could do was prep. Victor finally presented his plan.

"We can do it, but it's not going to be pretty or cheap. We can take off in about four hours, and be on the border or BF airspace in about six, likely closer to seven. I ran the numbers, and of we weigh the thing down to it's maximum weight with fuel, we still have to refuel three times. To get there. Still working on getting back. If we do this, we need to send the tanker planes now to be in position. We've got the first two, and we need a favor from the third. The Frogs can do it on the ground, and they'll just want money. The Yanks can do it an hour faster, but they'll want a get out of jail free card. "

There was a lot about this plan to hate, and lots of reasons not to do it. However, Jackie couldn't ignore the fact that she would hate herself for the rest of her life if she'd let her friend die due to inaction. "Do it." She'd say quietly. "Give the Yanks their card."

Work steadily progressed, with a live feed of the hastily modified Phantom taking center stage on the screen.

Whether it was to be used or not, the Phantom project at the very least gave everyone something to do. Simply waiting made everyone watching the blank screen feel helpless. Now, there was a flurry of activity.

Watching Victor work was especially impressive and concerning. The way he could summon up parts and specialists was incredible. Where he was getting these things from... questionable. Victor assured the Queen that the explosive bolts harvested from a Space Shuttle on display (and on loan) would be replaced before anyone noticed. One of the specialists looked as if he'd had a little more convincing than the rest- he spoke funny and kept running his tongue along his teeth, as if he'd lost that front tooth very recently.

In the middle of all this, the obnoxious pink phone in her purse rang. The only person whoever called was the one who had given her the phone-everyone's favorite high class lowlife. She declined the call only to get a text soon after.

********************
SUPER SALE

CRUISE MISSILES 30%- THEY'RE GOING FAST!!!! DISCREET DELIVERY TO MOST OF AFRICA WITHIN THE HOUR!!!!!

*********************

As irritating as it was that he either knew, or was lucky enough to advertise such a specific thing at such a specific time, she felt pride knowing she wasn't tempted at all. This was an operation that her people could handle on her own terms; there was no need to make a deal with the devil. Too bad the feeling didn't last.

Victor had to violate essentially every safety rule in the book to provide the timeline he'd promised- the Phantom looked like a dead bird being picked apart by ants. Up front were lot of old men arguing with young ones- the mechanics used to working with a Phantom were almost all pensioners pulled from their gardens. They had to deal with the young punks installing halfway modern electronics to work the precision guided bombs.

The main fuselage was being loaded up with munitions and external fuel tanks. Technically, one shouldn't install electronics and load an aircraft with high explosives and fuel at the same time. This however, was a minor concern considering what else was happening. A mechanic working on the noseless front of the plane had found his impact wrench unable to free the last bolt, and was now just hitting a part with the biggest hammer he could find. With the loud sound of a bolt shearing, the main cannon dropped from the aircraft, hitting the ground with a deafening noise.

All carts capable of handling the gigantic gun were already in use hauling fuel and ammo and parts, leading the mechanic to simply hook the gun up to a truck and pulling it away. Sparks flew as the cannon bounced and skipped on the ground. The thing was ruined by the time it reached its destination of just outside the hangar, where it was dumped on the grass with other large heaps of once very expensive machinery that the crew had decided they could live without.

Completing this motley crew that made up this edition of "Pimp my seriously aging military hardware" were four grunts on the wings painting it.

"And why exactly did you pick red?" Jackie asked, having a rather strong suspicion that no air force had red planes since World War 1.

"It's the only color of paint this grade we could get enough of this fast. Just so long as it's not brown."

"Victor, does aircraft grade paint come in gallon sized buckets, and get applied with rollers? "

"Aircraft grade takes forever to dry. Industrial exterior will dry much faster."

"So you're coating it in house paint."

"Commercial use. Significantly tougher. Houses don't do mach 2. Neither do factories, but it stands a better chance. "

As Victor was trying to explain, the mechanics fired up the engines for the first time. The left one worked perfectly, but the right one made an ungodly howling noise before flaring out spectacularly, violently jolting the plane. Countless tools clattered to the ground, paint cans fell over, and at least one person fell off.

"Victor, if Happy dies, you're his replacement. You have to do everything he did. Everything."

After two hours of work on the plane, things were looking good, and the vibe in the control room reflected it. Front end work on the plane had been finished, and was being painted. Now work on the engines was happening, and the mechanics assured everyone that it would be airworthy soon.

Sure, a simple mission had been turned into a serious clusterfuck, and sure, they still didn't know where Happy was. Sure, they were gearing up for an illegal clandestine mission over sovereign airspace, and sure, all that jet could do was attack, with no possibility of extracting Happy from the situation. But God damn if they hadn't responded to a fucked up situation with aplomb.

Jackie had no idea for a moment when she heard deep bassy notes and "Hola!" Coming from her pocket. She felt real hope, and her stomach drop at the same time.

That was Happy's ringtone.

Although her urge was to answer instantly, she paused a moment when she noticed that the call was coming from Happy's house in Los Angeles.

"He..... llo....?" She'd answered cautiously. Happy couldn't possibly be really calling from his home. He wasn't. Instead, the nasal drone of Leonard was on the line.

"Your Majesty, something came up. Happy said he was going to visit you, and I really need to speak with him. Put him on the line, please?"

Quite sorry, he might be dead. Can't, I sent him to go give money to warlords. Don't worry though, I have a half-built jet that might make it to him, and there's only a medium chance it's going to kill him. She was quiet for a moment as she found something appropriate to say.

"Oh, yeah... it's just that Happy had quite a bit to drink during breakfast. I don't think he'll really be of any use until he finishes his nap."

Leonard knew Happy's history and his secrets better, but Jackie knew him better personally. However, Leonard had info.

"Okay, jokes aside, what the fuck did you do with my property?! The CIA kicked in my door 20 minutes ago, wondering if Happy betraying his nation was a snap decision, or if he's been planning it. My lawyers say I've got 24 hours to come up with something good, or they ransack Happy's house looking for info. You don't even want to know what happens then."

The Queen was not used to being talked to in such a manner, but she understood. Time for simple diplomacy.

"Leonard, we both know that Happy says silly things he doesn't mean. And yes, I have temporarily misplaced him, but you have done that too. He's not your property, he is a person with his own free will."

"We can argue the specifics of his contract later. The point is, I know exactly where he is, and I have a very hard time believing you had nothing to do with this. Give me an email, I'm gonna send you something."

A few moments later, tech spit out his coffee, and started choking on it. The tech next to him pushed him aside to see what had gotten such a reaction, and wasn't much more professional himself.

"Oh, FUCK!" was the response from the tech. He pulled the picture up on the big screen. There was FSD brass, doing their usual thing, proudly displaying their flag, and showing off a captive with a bag over their head.

Jackie just buried her face in her hands and kept muttering assorted swears to herself. Victor tried his hand at being comforting.

"Leonard, we know they're not going to kill him."

"Oh, I know they're not. They're gonna kill that asshole with the bag on his head. "

As if had been practiced, everyone in the room but Jackie looked back up at the screen. Jackie just pointed at the top right.

It had taken the CIA a few minutes to work out what Leonard and Jackie saw instantly. In the back, sitting in the chair of a mounted machine gun on the back of a pickup truck was a fellow wearing large sunglasses, a bandana over his face, and a Soviet era captains hat. The official file designated him as "Unmistakably Happy".

Coincidentally, this was the name of Happy's signature fragrance.

Leonard wasn't of much help after that, just full of threats as if a monarch would be terrified are the prospect of getting sued. Victor started talking into his wrist, and things started happening once more. On the left side on the screen, the Phantom. On the right, it's most likely destination, the FSD compound in what used to be a hotel.

The Phantom roared to life, thankfully sounding far better than before. As it rolled out of the hangar, one of the flaps got stuck in the up position. But that was okay- the same mechanic from before hit the flap with a hammer, which seemed to unstick it. Because the engines were being worked on the whole time, it was unpainted. This included the Union Jack on it. But that was okay- men were running alongside it on the runway, sloshing buckets of paint at it.

The afterburners lit up and their pop art masterpiece took to the skies. A few techs applauded, but most were paying attention to the new developments. The Americans would no longer require that get out of jail free card- they had a good idea of what it was for, and courteously faxed over a notice that there would be no consequences if they terminated their agent- as of about 20 minutes ago Happy had renounced his American citizenship and been classified as a terrorist. Because of course he was. They were busy translating a clip of him speaking to the camera, and it was all the typical death to the west stuff.

"I know you double checked, but I still didn't believe he spoke Farsi. Get me a glass and some Heffling's."

Victor did so. Heffling's was Happy's drink of choice when in England, and so there was always a few bottles in the cabinet. She poured herself some and slumped back in her chair. She knew Happy well, and none of this gelled with anything she knew about him. Radical Islam? Happy was the antithesis of everything regular Islam stood for.

She turned the bottle over, and smiled. It was no surprise to see him there- Happy was on every bottle of Heffling's, with his enthusiastic smile and word bubble telling you how to make his signature drink, the Happy Chappy. It was one part Heffling's and one part of another, competing gin. It was an extremely bizarre promotion, and so difficult to arrange that Happy ended up losing money on an endorsement deal. Still, he wouldn't have it any other way.

Jackie snickered, and soon had a little giggle fit. Happy would be fine. He'd have to live in the real world before he could be affected by it.

When crunch time came, it highlighted the elephant in the room. Everyone had thrown themselves into the work of getting the jet into place, and now it could destroy the building they thought Happy was in if they wanted. But they didn't want. Or at least Jackie most certainly didn't. Unfortunately, nothing new had happened. Twitter, satellite images, the CIA, Leonard, nothing since the video.

The Phantom loitered near BF airspace, waiting for the word to move in. A countdown timer indicated how long the jet could do so before it would be unable to return to a refueling area. After that, the pilot would have to eject and get picked up somewhere.

Night had fallen by now, and the building took on a green hue. Any light source glowed brightly, meaning it was easy to detect two shots.

"Whoa whoa whoa, shots fired. Two." A tech said.

Happy getting executed in some hellhole was the sort of thing Victor had secretly hoped for in the past, but after everything he did to save him, it felt like a punch in the stomach. Still, there were others to think of. He placed his hand on the Queen's shoulder.

"Mum, it's rather dangerous for the pilots to eject."

A very big part of Jackie wanted nothing more than to drop both bombs on the building and level it with everyone inside. Instead she just sat there. Victor gave her shoulder a pat and made a circular motion with his hand, ordering the jet to be recalled.

The room stayed quiet as Jackie sipped her gin. Some of the techs had been on duty for over sixteen hours. As the room emptied out, it got dimmer as workers turned off their screens. While many just wanted to leave, others just watched the screen, resigned.

"We have more shots, more shots."

The building was starting to light up with automatic gunfire. There were bursts of activity, but things were clearly escalating.

"Victor, is this a good thing? Or bad?"

"It.... is a thing." He'd say, leaning in to look at a monitor. "Someone talk to me, any idea who they're fighting? LDMA?"

"We have eyes on the LDMA, and it's not them. They look like they're on the way, though."

The FSD compound was getting more and more chaotic. Some got thrown out a window. Small explosions were happening. The LDMA smelled blood, and showed up in jeeps, which spurred the FSD to get their shit together enough to mount a counter offensive. A streak of light zipped from one side of the screen to the other as someone on the roof fired an RPG at arriving jeeps, turning two of them into a fiery blaze. The fighting spread in all directions- Ouagadougou was burning.

The Burkina Fasoan government could put up with a lot from their extremist groups- in addition to strongly endorsing traditional values, they actually did a lot to keep order.

This was the exact opposite of order. The LDMA has their rivals right where they wanted them, and the FSD fought with the ferocity of a cornered beast, using everything they had in the desperate attempt to exist tomorrow. Stray bullets, mortars and rockets were pummeling highly populated areas, causing untold scores of civilians to flee, spreading the panic and chaos to every corner of the city.

Unwilling to just watch their Capitol burn to the ground, the Burkina Fasoan government got involved. By now the 24 hour news networks were covering it. At first declared a national emergency, the conflict was soon called a civil war. All grudges across the country were now being settled, with the fighting intensifying by the moment.

A T-72 tank approached the FSD compound and was hit by an RPG. This blew out a set of treads and immobilized it, but also pissed it off pretty badly. Jackie got her wish as the tank sent a high explosives round into the lobby, and took out the structural support. The building pancaked each floor in rapid succession, and soon there was just a dust cloud where it had been, still flashing with gunfire.

It was at this point that Victor threw in the towel. "This isn't going to stop anytime soon. You can watch it if you want, but I would suggest getting some sleep."

The conflict raged on, with no signs of slowing. It would go on for weeks.

The next major update, however, came at 8 am the next morning.

"Happy's alive, and he's here. Street cameras got him a half hour ago. The bastard did it without showing up on a passenger manifest. "

Victor and Jackie could see Happy from the window as he approached. He didn't look okay; he looked fantastic. Knowing espionage only from the movies, he'd chosen to wear a tuxedo.

"I know we just spent all day trying to make sure he doesn't die, but when he gets here, I'm going to strangle him. "

"Oh, you'll just give him an erection."

Happy was sober and professional that say, going so far as to use the front door, which was unusual for him.

"Part time agent Dblenomedlenov reporting for duty, Ma'am!" He'd cheerfully say.

"How did you-" Victor would say, getting cut off.

"Kindly shut your face, Victor!" Jackie would say in a singsongey tone. "Happy, I haven't seen you in days! How was your weekend, hmmm?"

Happy gave a little sigh. "The usual. I wanted to know my way around Burkina Faso, so I called my friend Abby- Abby loves it there. So I go, I meet a guy, I made a movie with him, we broke up, and I caught a ride with Abby back here."

Abby was Abdullah Bin al-Alawahi, a Saudi prince. His private jet was how Happy hadn't shown up on any passenger manifests.

Over tea, Jackie pressed for details, disguising her interest as idle gossip. His boyfriend, Sharifi, had recently become the number two man of the FSD. Happy referred to the group as "The local AV club hipsters."

"You know the type- big beards, too cool for everything, live in the bad part of town and talk mad shit about everyone."

He was happy to make a movie with his new friends, though when asked about his lines, he mentioned that he just read cue cards that were in Arabic, not Farsi.

Lots of pointless details were given, but he eventually got to the juicy part. "So the guys are all like 'we need more bombs', and I'm all like 'fuck yeah we do, I'm all about that shit, I'll hook you guys up with all you can handle.' I lean out of the taxi and kiss Sharifi goodbye as I go, and spent the next two hours looking for a place that has jaegermeister. "

"So I get a call from Sharifi and he's all like 'You gotta tell everyone that you kissed me against my will.' And I'm like 'wow, take the fucking knife out of my back, I thought I meant something to you.' So he's on speakerphone and I can hear his family losing their shit. He's all 'you gotta tell them I'm not like that', and I'm like 'You were like that earlier today, and now you're like a real piece of shit. Next you'll tell me your family doesn't like that I'm jewish.' So then they really start losing their shit, so I tell him go fuck himself, and I go hang out with Abby."

"Happy, you're not Jewish."

"You really have to ask Lenny about that stuff."


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 Post subject: The Happy Couple
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:41 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:10 pm
Posts: 6
Jackie had almost finished the outline of her speech commemorating a new garden- nothing big, but it paid to say the correct names when she talked about how much work it had been. It had actually been her shrugging and saying "Okay, fine", but people liked to imagine their Monarchy's involvement was a bit deeper than that. Hearing a knock on the frame of the door, she looked up to see a less than jubilant Victor.

"All appetizers are half off." he'd grumble before moving along on a one man mission to lock up the silverware.

It was amusing to see how worried Victor could get. The cute little phrase that he so hated meant that it would soon be Happy Hour. Or, more accurately, Happy had been spotted, blind drunk, stumbling in their general direction. Though she considered pointing out that Happy wasn't a thief, she did have to admit to herself that anything could happen.

Happy was trying to scale the fence, and doing a very bad job of it- two guards were trying to pull him down, and once they did, they escorted him to a back entrance where the Queen was waiting for him.

"Oh, you look just awful... come on in and tell me what happened." she'd say. He did look awful. He was drenched from head to toe, which was unusual because it wasn't raining out. Tears streamed down his face and his nose was running. She considered asking him if he'd fallen in a pool or something, but knew there wasn't much point to that at the moment- his retelling of what happened was completely unintelligable as his assorted sobs got in the way of him forming coherent words.

It wasn't as if Jackie actually needed to know what happened- the soaking wet part would be nice to know, but what had him upset was clear, at least to her. His latest relationship had crumbled just like all the previous ones. The most common cause was Happy's lover finding out just what his lifestyle actually entailed.

After some calming down, Happy was wearing a robe with her initials on it, and alternating gulps of gin and spoonfulls of ice cream. Blues Brothers was playing on the TV just like every time he came over for a post-breakup comforting. She might be worried about the bad influence that their style of driving might have over the already famously bad driver, but it didn't seem any of it had stuck- after all this time, he didn't seem to understand the plot. "Those guys are my favorite cops."

Jackie would follow through the tried and true steps, listening to his sob stories about how he thought he'd finally found his soulmate. She'd notice the complete abscense of a name- it wouldn't be the first time Happy had decided that someone was "the one" before learning their name. Eventually, he was drunk and all cried out, and passed out on the couch. Jackie didn't like that his preferred passing out couch was in a tour area, but it was the only part of his dropping by that Victor liked- tour revenue had gone up quite a bit once word got out that the Queen might have a minor celebrity passed out on her couch. She'd wonder for a moment if he was wearing anything under the robe, but it didn't matter. It wasn't anything the internet hadn't seen before. She turned out the lights, and retired to her bedroom.

In the morning, Happy was a tad grumpy- being woken up by a stranger asking you to sign an autograph wasn't his favorite way to start the day, but it was hardly unusual for him. "Keep dreaming! I love you!" he'd write in the notebook before posing for a selfie with the fan- in about two seconds, he went from hungover mess to photogenic celeb, able to turn it on in any condition.

Over breakfast, his mood steadily improved. Partially due to having a good meal in him, partially due to venting about his past love to Jackie, and mostly the bottle and a half of champagne's worth of mimosas. By the end of the meal, he was already hitting on the waitstaff like his old self.

Having been cleaned overnight, Happy's suit looked good on him as he stood on the doorstep, ready to start his day, three hours after call time for a smoothie commercial. Jackie fussed over his lapels, knowing he wouldn't. "Thanks for being understanding last night... I was being dramatic." he'd say, producing a polaroid from his jacket and holding it out to her. "I don't want to throw this away, but I don't think I should look at it soon. Do you think you could....?" he'd say as she was already taking the photo out of his hands. "I'll keep it safe for you, Happy. Break a leg today." she'd say, giving him a hug before shoving him along his way, lest he stay all day.

Moving back inside, she'd walk to her bedroom and actually look at the photo for the first time. On the left, the excited face of someone she'd never seen before, who had been swept off their feet and found themselves in a relationship with a celebrity, eyes lit up with the possibilities of the future. On the right, Happy, who should know better at this point, just as excited and optimistic. A shame, they were cute together.

She opened up a drawer in her dresser, and opened a shoebox she kept in there. As promised, she took good care of the photo, gently placing it in the box with all the others. Noticing the box was just about full, she put the lid on, and took it from the dresser, then put it in the closet, along with all the others.


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