Yup, here we go. Finally. This is where this fic actually becomes recognizable as a WoO parody. My undying thanks to the reviewers who showed that they actually cared about this fic. :)
Disclaimer: Release the hounds.
Chapter 5 – Quoi?
At first, nothing but a dull roar filled Javert's ears. He couldn't even discern its source, only that it helped to aggravate the pain that burned throughout his cerebral cavity. On the bright side, the room was cast in a gloomy gray that made it easy on the eyes. He let his eyelids flutter open and shut, testing to see how much coming to would worsen the headache. Before he felt prepared, though, another sound entered his ears.
"Inspector? Inspector, are you awake?"
He didn't answer immediately, wondering if his silence would deter the boy's inquiry. It seemed to work briefly, but when he began to open his eyes again, the voice came back. "Come on, Inspector, don't pretend you're not awake. Please? I just want to know if you're all right."
With an unhappy groan, Javert let his eyes open all the way. He was rewarded with a pair of glistening, muddy brown eyes and the goofiest grin a boy of ten or eleven years could muster without immediately bursting into laughter. All about half an inch from his face.
"Get away from me!"
Gavroche jumped back a few feet to avoid any immediate thrashings. "Sorry, Inspector, I couldn't resist. Besides, many people would pay to wake up to a child's adoring face."
"Oh, really? Then go find one."
The gamin's grin dropped into an uneasy frown. "That won't be so easy as you think."
"Look for yourself."
Javert saw that Gavroche was inclining his head toward the window, the one which was now devoid of both its sashes. He had been resting in a chair, but that became irrelevant as he carefully stood and approached the window. Perhaps it was still his head playing games with him, but somehow the floor felt . . . odd. It did not want to stay under his feet, but to shift around in a subtle but nevertheless irksome fashion. Javert extended his arms and at last clutched the sill. He had a difficult time focusing at first; the outside looked like nothing except a swirling mass of brown and dark gray. I must have been hit harder than I thought, he reasoned while rubbing his eyes and shaking his head several times. After a while, he was forced to come to the conclusion that his eyes were just fine; the entire building was surrounded by wind, dirt, and debris.
The recently revived man needed another moment to pull the facts together. Tornado . . . prefecture . . . swirling wind . . . uneven floor . . .
"Gavroche," he began slowly, "how long have I been out?"
"I'd say quite some time," replied the boy candidly.
"Did anything odd happen while I was unconscious?"
"Well, I suppose, although I couldn't really explain it to you. That big mass out there pretty much settled in just minutes after that window hit you smack in the head. Then there was a bit of a strange rocking going on, but I figured that was just from all the wind. I told you the cathedral would have been better than this place."
Javert, for the second time that day, gave a dry gulp. "You may be more right than you know."
Gavroche wrinkled his forehead in puzzlement. "How's that?"
The inspector waited another minute, just to be sure that he comprehended the situation correctly. He stared out the window for a time, then turned to Gavroche. His face was unusually pale, which made the gamin afraid that his friend would collapse again.
"Gavroche," Javert said, "I . . . don't think we're . . . on the ground . . . anymore."
Gavroche didn't dare to breathe, only to gasp, "What?"
"I think we . . . this building . . . is inside the tornado . . . in the air."
The boy's mouth hung open for several seconds, then stammered, "W-we're i-in the . . . air? Y-you mean . . . flying?"
"Now, now," Javert quickly replied, taking a step toward the boy, "there's no need to be frightened or fall into hysterics. If we simply remain calm . . ."
"Frightened? Frightened?" Gavroche let out an incredulous scoff with each repetition of the word. "You think I'm frightened? This . . . this . . . this is the best day of my life!"
It was Javert's turn to gawk in confusion. "What?"
"Who has never dreamed of being able to fly?! You yourself asked why you couldn't fly like the birds in that little ditty of yours!"
Javert immediately shushed him. "I told you not to bring that up again!"
"Who's gonna hear? If all your chums were in the cellar, underground, it's not likely they would be up here with us." The gamin, now beaming with sheer enthrallment, rushed to the window beside Javert and leaned out slightly. "I can't believe we're flying!"
"Be careful!" the older man snapped as he instinctively yanked the boy away from the sill. "You want to fall out?"
"Do you think I would fall directly to the ground, or would I ride on the wind for a while?" The boy's fearless curiosity and wonderment startled the policeman. "Oh, I wish I could find out."
"And risk ending up like a tomato thrown into a bad actor's face? Not under my watch."
The gamin seemed content to shrug it off and to stare outside. "Look! I think I saw some chickens go by! And a dog!"
"Don't be ridiculous," grumbled Javert, even though he thought he saw the figure of the local greengrocer and his cart of cabbage heads pass out of the corner of his eye. He preferred to leave the sight-seeing to Gavroche while he attempted to further assess the situation. At some point, he acknowledged, the building would be freed of the tornado's winds and would plummet toward the earth. If they were low enough to the ground, there was a slight chance for survival. If they were too high, things were going to end pretty disastrously. But what could they do when that time came? Was there no way to protect themselves from the impact?
He heard Gavroche gasp loudly. "Look, Inspector!"
Javert allowed himself, much to his dismay, to look out the window again. This time he saw a number of fisherman's boats with the fishermen still inside them, and numerous bits of boating equipment and tools. But what Gavroche had seen and was still pointing to was far more disturbing.
A large piece of the floor of the Jondrette flat, with table, chairs, and family, was flying steadily in view at a relatively harmless distance. Two scrawny, wraithlike girls were sitting at the table, folding what looked to be letters of some kind; the notorious couple of the inspector's acquaintance – M. and Mme. Jondrette – were standing around the table arguing with each other. Nothing of what they said or did could be heard, but that didn't stop Gavroche from ducking down behind the window to avoid being seen.
"Can this really be happening?" Javert muttered to himself while he continued to watch. Suddenly, Mme. Jondrette's eyes met his, and as a deep, wrathful gleamed filled them, she gestured her husband with a frying pan to look at Javert. The small man with the face of a drunken rat turned and sneered at the inspector. The girls looked at him, too, but their expressions were blank either from indifference or dullness. Despite the differing expressions, each family member seemed to take the presence of the policeman as some sort of signal, and one by one, they went to the edge of the floor and leapt into the swirling maelstrom. Jondrette jumped first, his pockets stuffed with the letters his daughters had folded and some unidentifiable painting in his hands. Madame was next, still clutching her trusty pan. The girls nearly leapt at the same time, with the reddish-blonde first, and the shorter brunette immediately second. Javert knew they were just ordinary waifs in ragged clothes that hung loosely from their malnourished frames, but just before they disappeared into the column of rubble and fodder, he thought he saw the backs of the girls' blouses expand out behind them in a peculiar way. But they were out of sight instantly, and he thought no more of it.
At that moment, another signficant event was taking place. The building began to tilt and spin a great deal more, and Javert's ears started to clog from the changing pressure.
This is it. We're falling. His mind raced as he looked about the room. Gavroche seemed to sense what was coming, too, and he looked to Javert.
"What do we do?" he cried frantically.
Javert looked around. There was an awful lot of furniture. They would be crushed by it at any moment, unless . . .
"Gavroche! Get on the large table! The one in the center! Climb on it now!"
It was a little easier said than done, for the table started sliding across the floor as the inspector and the gamin attempted to board it. Javert managed to leap on first, then quickly grabbed Gavroche by the arm and hauled him up next to him. "Lie on your stomach! No matter what happens, don't fall off!"
"No worries!" answered Gavroche with a smile and a salute. Despite the imminent danger, the boy couldn't help enjoying himself. It may have been the fact that it was dangerous which made him find it so much fun. Javert wanted no chances, however, and for the sake of what he believed to be reasonable precautions, he anchored Gavroche's torso down with a protective arm.
The air whistled and howled outside as they descended. Portraits on the walls rattled and flew up to the ceiling with loud bangs and crashes, the tables and chairs spun and glided wildly, and the panes and sashes of the windows shook and flailed when they got loose of their latches. Javert gripped the edges of the table as hard as he could and pressed his body firmly against the tabletop. He knew to brace himself for one painful landing.
He couldn't predict exactly when they would reach the ground, but there was no mistaking that they had the second wood, brick, and plaster suddenly crunched and broke with unbelievable volume. The legs of the table gave way from the impact, which made Gavroche cry out sharply.
Dust flew up into the air and hung about for many minutes. Neither body stirred as the deafening sounds of wreckage and destruction died away into empty silence.
After minutes of waiting, the dark head of lawman was slowly lifted. His sharp grey eyes took in the sight. The walls and windows around them were not those of the conference room, but of the main hall the pair had been in mere minutes – or hours – before. The entire second floor had fallen on top of the first.
Javert turned to Gavroche and gently roused him. "Are you all right? Nothing broken?"
"I don't think so," said the urchin carefully, as if afraid a sudden, unexpected pang would seize his small body as soon as the words left his lips. He was relieved to find that none did.
"Good," Javert gruffly replied, now wasting no time in removing his arm from Gavroche's back and pushing himself off the legless table. "We'd better leave before something else decides to break and fall on us. If, that is, we can find the bloody door."
"Is that it?" asked Gavroche, pointing across the room to a set of severely cracked double doors, one of them still barely hanging by its hinges.
Javert cleared his throat. "So it would seem."
Gavroche leapt nimbly from the table and dashed to them. The inspector quickly followed, afraid that any hasty actions might cause the rest of the building to cave in.
"Careful, now, careful! Let me open it."
"I doubt it," the gamin rejoined, "the bottom edges are completely smashed into the ground. Why don't we just climb out a window?"
"They're several feet off the ground, even the ones on the bottom floor."
"But since these doors are part buried in the ground, won't the windows be closer to the ground than before?"
Javert growled quietly. "Fine, but I'll go out first. And whatever you do, stay close to me. Chances are we are in a different part of Paris, probably one of those patches where Patron-Minette goons like to lurk about. So keep a sharp eye, got it?"
"Don't worry, inspector." He was about ready to add something else, but a thought suddenly came to him, and he decided it was best to keep quiet.
"Let's go, then."
All the windows on the first floor had been shuddered, so Javert had his hands full with keeping a watch on Gavroche and wrestling open a pair of shudders that had somehow splintered and wedged against each other. At last, he finally wrenched them loose and kicked through the glass without a flinch. After all, it is not as if it will be used anymore.
He climbed onto the sill and looked out. What he saw nearly made him fall backwards, which was averted by shooting out his arms and grabbing the side panes.
"What is it?" asked Gavroche at seeing the motion. "Do you see something strange?"
Javert hesitated before speaking. "That would be an understatement," he finally answered, gesturing for the boy to come to the window and see for himself.
When Gavroche saw what Javert had, his jaw dropped.
It was certain that they were not in Paris. They were not in France, either. There's really not a lot of jungle in France.
Heehee, evil cliffhanger! Bwahaha!