Disclaimer: the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia, mini-Razors to BattleHamster, and Archer and Sabbat to me.
William Archer – vampire, magician, and now, it would appear, PPC agent – covered his ears, swearing viciously under his breath. No matter how many times he heard that noise, he was never going to get used to it.
"Yes, I know something's wrong! I know! Now will you please shut up?!"
With a groan of exasperation, the vampire removed one hand from his ear, reached across to the shelves that covered one wall of the RC and took down a large and ancient tome. This he proceeded to hurl at the console – an action which had little practical effect other than to add yet another dent to the stubborn piece of machinery's grubby surface.
"For the sake of all the Gods!" There was nothing for it. He was going to have to go and see what the bloody thing wanted. Lowering both hands from his ears, he got up and walked over to the recalcitrant computer, noting with annoyance that the sound stopped as soon as he got within a foot of it.
Ah well. He was up now, so he might as well see what had triggered the alarm. Stooping, he began to skim-read the text that had appeared on the screen, his eyes widening with each successive line.
"Well!" he muttered, as he reached the end of the message. "There's a turn-up for the books."
He turned away from the screen and was just about to return to his chair, his book and his drink when—
Yes... when that happened. 'That' was something Archer had just about got used to by now – the sound of his partner having yet another battle with swenny tod, their (although that was debatable) pet (also debatable) mini-Razor. (That, at least, was not debatable. There was really nothing else it could possibly be.)
Sabbat, the human with whom Archer shared his rooms, his drink, and most of his experiences, had taken a dislike to the mini from the start (he seemed to think it was trying to usurp his position as resident psychopath), and the creature seemed to have picked up on this, becoming expert at finding dark corners from which it could spring out upon its unsuspecting enemy. There hadn't been any major bloodshed yet, but it was only a matter of time....
Archer thought he'd probably better do something about it, but couldn't quite think what. The mini-Razor did prefer him to Sabbat, but he doubted that it (he?) would give up its blood-lust because he told it to. And he didn't think that trying to separate the two of them would be a particularly good move – he might be a vampire, but healing still took a lot out of him. In the end, he settled for opening the door and shouting "You all right?" into the next room.
The reply he got was not encouraging. "Sixdammit! Does it sound like I'm all right?"
"Just asking." He paused, and then a thought struck him. "Do you need any help?"
"Aargh... ugh... no. I'm fine!"
Archer raised his eyebrows – it sounded like his partner was anything but 'fine'. "Really?"
"Of course," Sabbat replied, appearing in the doorway. There was a large smear of blood on the collar of his shirt and his neckcloth was half-off, but otherwise he appeared to be none the worse for wear. "I can deal with that thing any day. What was—?"
"It's not a 'thing'," Archer interjected, rather annoyed. "It's our pet."
"Your pet, more like. Why did you adopt it, anyway?"
"None of your business."
"It is when I have to live with the bloody thing!"
Archer was just about to reply when he felt something bumping against his boot and, looking down, saw that it was swenny tod. The mini was looking decidedly upset (or as upset as an animate razor can look, anyway), and Archer's protective instinct was instantly aroused. Pulling on a pair of tough leather gloves, he bent down and picked up the little creature, stroking its silver handle tenderly as he did so.
"What did you do to it?" he asked Sabbat, when he was sure that swenny wasn't actually damaged.
The other agent shrugged and turned away, doing up his neckcloth. "Nothing."
"Don't lie to me, Sabbat. What did you do?"
"I told you – nothing. You'd be better off asking what it did to me."
"It tried to kill me."
The vampire laughed. "It's about six inches long. How could it possibly do that?" (He knew exactly how, of course, but it was always fun to annoy Sabbat, especially when he wasn't in the best of moods with the human.)
"By doing what it does best, idiot."
The insult was affectionate, and Archer took it in good part. But he wasn't going to give up that easily. "I still want to know what you did to it."
"Self-defence," Sabbat replied. He walked over to the lockers and took out a half-empty bottle of ale. "You want some?"
"Yes, and don't change the subject. What. Did. You. Do?"
"I. Didn't. Do. Anything. Your. Pet. Is. A. Liar."
"Well, that makes two of you, then."
"Very funny. What was the beeping about?"
"Lockdown," Archer muttered, then returned to the question at hand. "What did you do to swenny?"
Sabbat rolled his eyes and took a swig from the bottle, seemingly unaware of the glare that Archer shot him (the vampire didn't approve of many of his companion's habits, and this was one of them). "I didn't do anything. And what did you mean by a 'lockdown'?"
"Exactly what I said. The whole of HQ is locked down whilst the Flowers That Be have a party." Then, giving up on ever getting to know what his partner had done to the mini:
"So, what are we going to do?"
"Well, we're locked in here for twenty-four hours, so we might as well find some way of passing the time."
The human agent took another gulp of his drink, swallowed, then raised an eyebrow. "What do you want to do?"
Archer collapsed into his chair and resumed stroking the mini. He could have sworn it was purring (if animate razors could purr). "I don't mind. What do you want to do?"
The vampire shook his head. "Sorry, but no. Not in here."
"Where else, then?" Sabbat asked, annoyance colouring his tone. "Lockdown, remember?"
"Not at all, if you can manage it. That stuff'll kill you in the end."
"Do I look dead to you?"
"I'm serious. You carry on with that, you'll be dead within two years."
"I don't care."
"Then you're an idiot."
"Godsdammit!" Sabbat punched the wall in frustration. "What in the seven hells do I have to do to get a pipe around here?"
"Stop behaving like that, for a start," Archer replied, unfazed by his partner's outburst. "Smoke a cigarette if you want – that's not quite so bad."
"Thanks for the permission, sir," the other agent hissed, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. He reached into his locker, grabbed a packet of cigarettes and his lighter and strode into the bathroom, slamming the door after him.
Archer carried on petting swenny, steadfastly refusing to rise to the bait. "He'll come back," he told the little creature, moving his hand out of the way as it wagged its blade-tail enthusiastically. "Don't you worry."
It occurred to him that the mini probably didn't really care what Sabbat was up to, but he felt like talking to it, and it obviously didn't mind the attention (it wasn't leaping for his throat, which was presumably a good sign).
"You know," he said, "I really fancy a drink right now. How about you?"
The mini's tail wagged faster than before, and Archer remembered – slightly too late – what their nice new pet actually drank.
"No, not that type of drink," he amended, hoping fervently that swenny wasn't thinking what he thought it was thinking. "I was thinking maybe a drop of cow blood would tide us both over until he comes back, huh?"
Carefully putting the mini on the floor, he got up and made his way to the fridge, noticing as he did so that there was smoke coming from underneath the bathroom door. He toyed with the idea of banging on the door and demanding to know what was going on, but decided in the end that it would probably do more harm than good.
A lot more coming soon (when I get round to actually writing it).
[Sadly, he never did. —Ed.]