moragmacpherson: (discworld)
moragmacpherson ([personal profile] moragmacpherson) wrote2010-05-04 09:07 pm
Entry tags:

Fic: A Grand Sneer - Chapter 4/10 (Supernatural/Discworld BigBang)

Master Post
Chapter Four

The station was in a flurry of activity when Dean and Vimes returned. A number of officers vied for Vimes' attention, but the commander never broke stride as he headed for the stairs towards his office. "Is Captain Carrot here?" Vimes asked the open air.

A dwarf with a well-groomed beard had joined them, legs working hard to match the men's stride. "He is, sir, but we've had a number of disturbing reports-"

"Very good, Cheery, write them up-" said Vimes, taking the steps two at a time. Dean controlled the urge to ask Cheery if he had a brother named Surly.

"I think it's a little more urgent than that, sir," panted Cheery as they reached the top of the stairs.

Vimes frowned. "What kind of urgent? I'd like to settle this first, won't take but a minute." Their little group entered his office. "Ah, Captain Ironfoundersson, meet Dean Winchester."

Dean Winchester spent more of his life than was probably healthy in the presence Sam Winchester, a young man who was no slouch in the height department. Indeed, Sam was so blessed in stature that he spent most of his time slouching due to the embarrassment of riches he enjoyed insofar as height was concerned. Over the years, Dean had grown accustomed to the enormity that was his baby brother, and these days didn't call him Sasquatch or Gigantor more than once or twice a week, and only that much because it still made Sam glower each and every time.

As Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson rose from his seat and stood at attention, Dean's couldn't help but think that this guy was really fucking tall.

"Mr. Winchester, very pleased to meet you, sir." The fresh-faced giant extended a massive paw in Dean's direction, and Dean allowed his hand to be shaken all the while resisting the impulse to shade his eyes against the mirror polish of the captain's armor. The handshake was everything a handshake was supposed to be: firm but not crushing, energetic but not wild, neither a split-second too long or too short. After they released hands, Dean noticed his shoulders and spine had straightened out when he wasn't paying attention and that he was engaging in direct eye contact while smiling at Carrot.

"Good to meet you too, sir," Dean heard himself saying in his most respectful voice, and what the hell was going on? Bright blue eyes were beaming at him above a Colgate smile that should have been impossible in a place without modern dentistry. This guy was a joke, the solid jaw and broad shoulders something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and topping it all off with red hair in a standard military crop was a wholesome step too far even for ol' Norm. He had red hair and his name was Carrot. Of course it was. Why wasn't Dean making a snarky comment about it? Dean shot a desperate look over at Vimes, who was taking his place behind his desk while the dwarf talked at him, apparently immune to whatever mojo his subordinate was pumping into the air.

Vimes rubbed his jaw. "Has anyone sent round to Mrs. Cake, seen if they've set up shop there?"

Cheery nodded. "Corporal van Humpeding went, sir. Mrs. Cake hasn't had any new boarders in a month and says none of these things are going to show up at her doorstep that she can tell, she keeps a respectable house. She also said that if you want to know anything else it'll be ten dollars and that she knows you're not going to bother anyway." The dwarf smiled at this but quickly sobered and continued his report. "Sergeant Angua is checking out Biers now to see if they've noticed anything unusual in the last few days."

Vimes snorted. "Hell of a question for that place."

"Sergeant Angua's a bit of a regular there, sir, she knows how to deal with the crowd," said Carrot.

Dean saw Vimes give Carrot a significant look, the meaning of which, like the rest of this conversation, went completely over Dean's head. "She's a very capable officer," said Vimes, whose gaze shifted down to Dean and then back to Carrot. "While I'm investigating this, Captain, I need you to escort Mr. Winchester to Unseen University." Vimes pulled Dean's file back open and started to write a note, before he explained in a gravelly monotone, "Seems he's a hero of some sort from another world, got here through the library, needs to get back home to save the place, hopefully the wizards can take care of it. Start with the Librarian: this time of the morning, he won't have hit the pubs yet."

Cheery's head tilted at this revelation, but Carrot didn't even blink. Dean knew, he was watching. "Yes, sir," replied Carrot.

Vimes looked up again and Dean felt the scrutiny in his bones, saw Vimes make a decision as he tapped the pen against the paper and looked down again. "While you're there, might be worth it to ask they've got any insight into these, er, reports." Reports that Vimes apparently felt Dean shouldn't know about, even if he had just called Dean a hero. Finding out about these reports automatically moved to second place on Dean's priority list, right behind getting home. Vimes continued, "Not that I expect them to share too much, never can with the bloody wizards, but if they've caused it the least they can do is clean it up, nice and prompt."

Carrot nodded. "The University has long taken pride in its ability to police itself, sir, and I'm certain they'll be glad to offer their advice on the matter, whether it originated in the University or not. Wizards are always very forthright in their opinions."

Vimes smirked at this, shutting the file. "That they are. Don't forget to pick up his personal effects. Carrot, you will hold onto the gonne until he's on his way out the door, as it were. That's not up for negotiation, Winchester." He stood and shook Dean's hand. "I'm leaving you in the best of hands. Good luck getting home, and don't take it personal, but I hope I never see you again."

Dean met the commander's look with a grin. "Same to you, sir."

"Right. Sergeant Littlebottom, make sure that file finds its way to the Patrician, send word to Dolly Sisters that I'm on my way, and I'm leaving you in charge here." The last bit was said while Vimes clambered back down the steps, the dwarf trailing in his wake.

Dean was left alone with Captain Carrot, who stepped back to allow Dean to exit the office first. A quick sniff confirmed Dean's suspicions: the man smelled like soap and metal polish. Dean ducked his eyes down and walked out, muttering "Thanks," below his breath, a reflexive response to Ironfoundersson's overwhelming politeness. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Carrot stepped ahead of Dean and headed to the property officer, a man who rivaled Carrot in the clean-cut department. He seemed nervous and kept fingering a turtle-shaped pendant that hung from a leather cord around his neck. Along with his knives, flasks, jewelry, broken cell phone, wallet, and lock picks, Dean received a small booklet with a cover proclaiming that belief in someone named Om would give him a better life. This statement had an asterisk next to it leading to a lengthy disclaimer in tiny print at the bottom. Safely around the corner, Dean was about to drop it in the first wastebasket he saw, then reconsidered the pamphlet's potential uses as a certain problem was becoming distinctly more urgent. Carrot was still headed towards the doors.

Dean considered his options, found all of them wanting, grimaced, and finally said, "Uh, Captain Carrot?"

Carrot turned in a neat pivot. "Yes, Mr. Winchester?"

"I, uh, first off, just call me Dean. Second, um, where do you guys go to, uh, relieve yourselves around here?" Dean couldn't admit it to Vimes, but Dibbler's pies had hurried certain processes along, tea always made Dean have to piss like a racehorse, and there really wasn't any chance this place had indoor plumbing, was there? He strangled a whimper deep in his throat.

Carrot handled the question with what Dean was beginning to think might be his normal aplomb, directing Dean to the privy in the yard by the stables. 'Privy' here meant hole in the ground with a seat over it, the inevitable but welcome box of white powder next to the throne, and a cheap almanac with half the pages torn out hanging from a string on the door. At least it didn't smell any worse than the stables. Dean sat down to business before he noticed another book sitting on a small shelf. He grinned to himself as he picked it up: in jobs dominated by men - well, males - only one kind of book wound up stored in the bathroom. Or so he thought until he read the title, The Joye of Snacks, but it was that or learning about the benefits of accepting Om as his personal savior, so Dean gave snacks a shot. After all, he liked food.

Time passed. Natural processes took their course. Dean came out of the privy with a smirk on his face that made Captain Carrot's brow furrow. "Everything okay, Dean?" asked Carrot.

Dean slapped his new chaperon on the back. "Fantastic. This world of yours ain't so bad. Those Lancre witches are some kinky chicks, aren't they? Wish the witches back home were like that. Which way to the wizards?" Combining The Joye of Snacks with Dean's superb visual imagination provided him with a partial, temporary inoculation against Carrot's aura of respectability. His id preoccupied with new and novel smutty thoughts, Dean felt entirely at ease for the first time in ages. He didn't even bother to ask if he could have his gun back early.

While they walked through much wealthier neighborhoods than he'd seen that morning, Dean discovered that Carrot knew the name of every single person they passed, for an extremely broad definition of 'person,' and that the captain's presence had the same effect on most everyone: better posture, better manners, and a vague tickling at the back of the knees that didn't make any sense to Dean. But people's knees twitched when Carrot walked past. It wasn't like Andy and Ansem: Carrot didn't control people, didn't order anyone to do anything, not when he could make it a polite request instead. The world was simply a better place for about twenty feet in every direction around him.

Carrot was better tour guide than Vimes, telling Dean about the excavation project going on under the city and that the strange towers with the flaps were 'clacks' towers that used semaphore to send information all over the Disc. He identified every new species that Dean pointed out, along with their more admirable characteristics and contributions to city life. When Dean asked about the mysterious reports, however, the captain started turning the questions back at Dean. Dean found himself in a distinct over-share mood. By the time they arrived at the University, Dean had told Carrot about growing up as a hunter, how he and his brother had been manipulated into starting the apocalypse, and was finishing explaining the whole Lucifer-Michael host situation. Carrot kept asking questions, Dean kept giving answers, Carrot's route meandered as much as Dean's story, and maybe that temporary immunity had worn off somewhere along the way. "This decision is a terrible burden," said Carrot as they passed under the gate.

Dean shook his head. "Tell me about it." Still, it felt good to have someone like Carrot acknowledge it. The cynical-bastard portion of Dean's brain, already confused about how it had been pushed out of the driver's seat, filed that thought away for later examination when he was outside of Carrot's field of influence.

Carrot looked down at him. "Yet you're eager to return."

"Gotta get back to my brother. So far as he can tell, I just up and disappeared. I don't need him getting any wrong ideas."

Carrot nodded. "Yes, if Lucifer claimed you had already consented to the angel Michael, then he could use this to convince your brother to consent to him."

Dean blinked, his heart dropping into his stomach at the thought, and God he was an idiot for not thinking of it first . Maybe Carrot was more devious than he let on. He sped up the pace. "The sooner I get home, the better."

The courtyard was familiar, and just outside the door Dean remembered led to the library was a large cart, the words "Property of H. King" stenciled along the side. Burly men were wrangling the tulpa's corpse onto the platform. Dean stopped. "Huh."

"Yes?" asked Carrot.

Dean shook his head. "Nothing. It's just, uh, tulpas aren't usually so real. They're walking beliefs, can't hold together for more than a few minutes at a time without a lot of conscious effort on their part." One of the dog's heads flopped out of the back of the wagon. "That thing doesn't look conscious."

"Ah." Carrot nodded sagely. "I think you will find that on the Disc beliefs hold form very well." Dean followed him as he walked across the courtyard. They had almost reached the library when the ground exploded behind them, plumes of dirt shooting into the air.

Dean managed to maintain his balance and he spun around, saw out of the corner of his eye that Carrot had done the same and was in the midst of drawing his sword. It was then that something hooked around Dean's ankle and gave a firm yank. Dean landed hard on his back, knocking the air out of him, and then something was dragging him forward. Dean's fingers pawed at the ground, kicked with his free leg, trying to resist, but the thing was strong. It was, however, vulnerable to the steel of Carrot's blade, and it let out a terrible shriek when Carrot severed its tentacle, freeing Dean.

Shit. It had tentacles. That was never good.

The dust was settling and Dean could finally get a real look at the thing as he pushed back onto his feet, one of Carrot's long arms wrapping around his chest to pull him further away from the monster's grasp. Once he saw the dozen blue-green tentacles surrounding a very toothy maw, Dean wished he could un-see it. To hell with asking: this fucker radiated evil. Several of the tentacles were shooting in their direction, but Dean had his knife out now, and between his slashes and Carrot's, they managed to escape its reach. The monster kept making those horrible noises, the movement of its limbs slowing due to the half dozen arrows that Dean could see were buried in the main body. Another bolt struck the beast, coming from Dean's right, and when he looked over he discovered the shooter was a stout, bearded man in what must be a wizard's cap and robes, who was stalking towards his quarry and reloading his crossbow in an easy, practiced motion.

The tentacles were only twitching now, but the wizard raised the crossbow again, landing his next shot in the creature's eye. It shuddered one last time before falling still and dead. The wizard let out a booming laugh. "Ha! Bracing. Nice to have the hunt come to me for once, though you were a dumb sonovabitch for daring to break through in my very home, and unannounced no less. Poor form, old chap, poor form." He kicked his prey before he turned to the wagon and yelled, "Got another one here for you boys, send Piss Harry my compliments." Then he turned his attention to Carrot and Dean. "Ah, Captain Carrot, excellent reflexes and technique as always, you really must come hunting with me one of these days, what brings you to the University, not Watch business I hope?"

Carrot managed an apologetic smile. "I'm afraid so, Archchancellor."

The Archchancellor huffed. "Well, I'm always happy to help the Watch. What's old Stoneface need from us this time, and here, take this, son, mind your weapon." He tossed a rag at Carrot, and the watchman used it to wipe his sword clean of the foul green goo that clung to the blade.

"Thank you, Archchancellor. I'm actually here on two errands. The first has to do with my friend, Mr. Winchester. Dean, meet Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of Unseen University."

Ridcully waved off the introduction. "Pleasure, pleasure, hate these formalities. Damn thing had the drop on you, but that was some excellent knife work and you carry yourself well. You don't look daft enough to be a potential student, so what can I do for you?"

Was there a good way of explaining this? "I, uh, um, the library, uh, I-" and words were completely failing him, so Dean tried to buy time via a not-entirely staged coughing fit, but regretted the tactic when Ridcully's fist pounded into his back.

"Swallow a clod of dirt back there, son? Or maybe I was too quick in declaring you not daft." Ridcully snorted. "Captain, get to the point for him."

"Mr. Winchester traveled here from another world by means of your library last night. We were hoping you could send him back," said Carrot. It sounded so simple when he said it, but it wasn't something Dean had ever imagined saying before, much less having it be believed.

Things worked differently here on the Disc, though, because Ridcully was nodding. "Ah, that was you? The Librarian managed to do in the dog, by the time he let us know something else had come through, you were long gone. No shame in the running, mind you, that knife of yours wouldn't give you near enough reach to take down something with three heads. A lesson in preparation, that is, young men today, like to go charging in all but unarmed, and what good does that serve anyone?"

The Archchancellor had paused so that he could be agreed with, and Dean wasn't going to get a better opening than this. "No good at all, sir, but didn't you want me to talk to the Librarian about how to get home?"

"Oh, right, follow me, lads." Behind Ridcully's back, Carrot gave Dean an approving nod, and Dean was not about to admit to himself how good that felt. He cast one last glance back at the thing that had attacked them, wondering what the hell it was, wondering if this was a regular sort of thing here, what with everyone else taking it in stride. Then again, at the moment 'everyone else' was Ridcully and Carrot, and they weren't exactly normal, either of them. But it was a nice to have some help in the fight for once, so Dean wasn't going to argue with that, even if Ridcully's energy was unnatural in a man of his age and the whole Carrot-mojo thing freaked Dean out. Dean could deal with this strange world for a little while longer without cracking up; he'd be home soon, and even if things weren't okay there, at least they were familiar. The Librarian was going to send him home: everything was going to work out all right.

The whole mantra went to hell when it turned out the Librarian was a fucking orangutan, and Dean was laughing and then he was crying and then it was both at the same time, couldn't stop either one, and who the hell were these people looking at him like he was the crazy one? Dean just needed to lean against the wall and shut his eyes for a second, block out the crazy for a moment, okay if he slid down the wall a little - his legs had gone all gumby and shaky anyways - and the black felt so very nice he decided to stay there awhile.

Master Post