Some People Got No Respect for the Dead
A Boot and Warrington Production.
Terry's almost forgotten how long expanses of hallways sound when you walk on them. His dressy officer's shoes make smart, sharp sounds that can't hardly compare to the crush of dirt and sand found at the Docklands. Terry half closes his eyes and establishes a pattern, a rhythm interrupted only by a short squeaking noise as he turns into C's office.
C offers Terry water from the pitcher on his desk. It's his bodyguards' water, actually; they like as few preservatives in their fluids as possible. However, Terry had found the vending machines on his way down the levels of the Rabbithole, and he has supplied himself with a curiously tear-shaped glass bottle filled with some sort of orange soda. By the time he reaches C's office, he has scraped off the label, folded it, and secreted it away in a pocket.
The Lord's Army is running low on Invisibility Cloaks, and Flight Ops and Recon have been severely affected. It's not that they haven't people enough to work the charms, but the best Cloaks have the magic woven into them at the loom. The families that made their fortunes off those spells don't share them for any price, and that sort of work isn't being done anymore in the British Isles. As they talk, Terry sits with one ankle crossed over his knee, jiggling his foot the entire time. C says he knows it's a long shot, but since Terry has displayed such an interest in finding things, and in cloth warehouses, might he have happened to stumble over some forgotten cache of Cloaks?
No, he expected not.
They get a bite to eat in the cafeteria, because even though Terry has had supper, it was probably traffic lights chopped small, and considering C's hours, this might be his breakfast. C picks up a pre-wrapped ham sandwich, and pretends nobody ever touched it. Terry, after loading down his own tray with granola, a cup of chocolate pudding, and a filet of some sort of white fish, places a banana on C's tray, perfectly centered at the top, curving around his plate. The tray makes a frowny-face. Terry makes a frowny-face at the tray. C makes a frowny-face at Terry, and tosses the banana into the nearest wastebasket before sitting down.
Terry picks up both trays when they're done, one balanced in each hand, and brings them to the trash bin without asking C's permission. C wrinkles his nose at the back of Terry's head and then gestures to the doorway and tells Terry to meet him outside the south entrance. He has something to show Terry, and here's the hallway he needs to follow, here are the stairs he'll run down, in order to lose his bodyguards for the few seconds that are necessary.
Terry is crouched by a stairwell when C comes out, dragging some rather heavy-looking box. Terry flicks a little piece of broken plastic with his index finger and stands, following behind C. Terry doesn't offer any assistance, and halfway to their destination he reaches into an inside pocket and pulls out a pair of black sunglasses, perching them on his nose even though it's past sunset.
There's hardly anything more empty than a deserted parking lot. They're on the edge of the demilitarized zone, and C kneels to unlock the box. "We've got some intelligence that the Allied forces trained at some point with Muggle firearms, and even though we've seen no sign of them in combat, we picked up this a week ago. Patrol in one of the areas they'd been pushed out of by your boys."
"This" is a semi-automatic Uzi pistol, about twenty-four centimeters long, which C holds in both hands, gingerly. "I remember your brother complaining that you'd gotten hold of a BB gun one summer. Nearly put out an eye. I suppose the two are very different. Really I wouldn't know, but have you any idea how to work it?" He stands, but doesn't hand it over. "Probably it would have already have happened, but I've got an awful feeling that they're planning something nasty out on that island, so if you could get the word around? Unofficially. So nobody's too surprised, so maybe you can start thinking of what to do, just in case."
Terry's eyes go wide, really wide, and his jaw drops slightly. This is like hitting a jackpot, and his hand automatically goes out to touch the barrel. "May I," he states more than asks as he slides the gun out of C's hands and into his own. He turns it over several times, then looks around and picks out an abandoned building at random. His hands slide into place easily, but Terry has to readjust his position several times before firing, shattering the glass of a far-off window. He seems unfazed by the noise, but his body slides back a few inches with the force of the blast. "I know where there's an old Muggle supply store with these vests, bullet-proof, up further west from here. I don't suppose that would do anything against these, though." He turns it over in his hands again and then turns back to C.
"I doubt it. Don't tell me you have training with that thing." C puts his hands on his hips and scowls at the gun. His ears are ringing. "Besides, what if you get hit in the head? Show me how."
"To get hit in the head?" Terry smiles and reaches for one of C's hands, setting his fingers into the right places and moving to stand behind him. "No training, but guns are guns really. At least I assume so. Just press your index against the trigger there and it fires. Try it."
C hits quite a lot of things really, after he stops falling down from the kickback and worrying that he will break his wrists, including the ground, the ground, something to his right when he aims left, and finally a window that Terry spared. He doesn't take the flash of red and white and brown in the sky as a bird or a plane or anything but what it is, someone Allied, someone flying on a broom, someone closer and closer. This time he doesn't even wince at the crack of the bullet's release, but then he feels his arm raised, and sees the body thump to the cement, and the broom two seconds later. He drops the gun, and wonders how that could be possible. Things dropped from the same height, same time, should reach the ground at the same time.
Terry has his wand out of its holster and raised immediately, pushing around C's shoulder to approach the body. The look on his face hasn't changed this whole time, and he walks casually but still with purpose. Terry aims at the Allied's head as he nudges the body over with his toe; he could be wired to explode, Terry thinks in passing, or he could still be alive. The body flips with another dull thump against the pavement and Terry lowers his wand. "He's dead. You're a good shot."
It seems safe enough, so C takes a few steps forward, and something drops: possibly his jaw, possibly his heart into his stomach. "He's Oliver Wood. He. Nobody's supposed to be dying around here." C grabs the mail bag, its strap still wound around the broomstick, and unclasps it.
"Wood, right. Thought he looked familiar. What's that?"
"Mail. I fucking shot a postman." C looks down again, and quickly up, eyes wide behind his glasses. "What do you suppose, he was wondering about the noise?" Blood has started to seep out from under Oliver's left shoulder; C steps away from the encroaching red wave. He clutches the mailbag, avoids looking at Oliver Wood's profile. "Oh no. What do we do. Oh fuck."
When Terry steps back from the blood his shoes make a scratching noise against the gravel; he frowns at his feet and twirls his wand once between his fingers. "Incendio? They're so fond of it."
"No fire. Not us." C peeks into the mailbag longingly; he's sure he can recognize Chang's by-now-familiar handwriting, but he shakes his head. "Besides. They'll investigate, and that would be too obvious. I mean. This should be a disheartening sort of loss, not one that'll piss them off."
In the end, they drag him out of the parking lot with a sponging spell trailing behind to sop up the blood. They're up past Regents Park, where the most stubborn Muggles have stuck around; the ones that no amount of evacuation by the Allied forces or threats and examples by the Army could budge. Terry and C leave Oliver sprawled face-down in a gutter on a silent street, unransacked mailbag tucked against his side, and lean his broom up against a nearby porch for anyone who needs to do some sweeping.
"After all. Nobody would expect us to go about shooting people. That's the sort of thing Muggles do. In all the films."
"Have you seen Some Like it Hot?"
C looks down and adjusts his glasses, and they walk back to the Rabbithole in silence. At the back door Terry tells C that he'd better return to his troops, unless Intelligence had any further need of him. When C says no, Terry salutes him and turns to go.
"You know, it's really getting to be silly the way they still have you acting as interim."
Terry turns and tilts his chin in the barest nod, smiling broadly at C. "Thanks for the chopsticks, by the way." Terry disappears around a corner, but C is already inside the building and doesn't see him.