Uh, hi. (; This is my first fanfic, and respectively, I chose one of my favourite sitcoms; the remarkable Black Books.
Disclaimer; I don't own Black Blooks, nor do I own any of the characters. Though I would like to. Very much. (;
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As the mid-morning sun silently glistened overhead, shining down on the bustling London streets of Bloomsbury; car exhaust fumes spiralled gracefully upwards, disgruntled office workers passing by the charming rows of shops crouched low to the curb, far-off sirens wailing relentlessly.
From the grotty window of "the shop that time forgot", Manny watched passers-by curiously, scratching at his wheat-coloured beard with the edge of a leather-bound edition of Great Expectations, party because he knew no-one was going to buy the bloody thing, and partly because he had previously broken the spine earlier in the week, and hadn't had the courage to tell Bernard yet. In fact, Manny kept a personal hoard of things he had broken around the shop, rather than face up and confront his sociopathic employer, chose to distract him with booze and shiny things on numerous occasions.
"Bernard!" Glancing at his wristwatch, he noticed it was half eleven; frantically, he left the book and dust-cloth on the window cil, and, with his fascinating hunched-skip, went to check on Bernard's breakfast; two rashers of bacon, a cup of black coffee and a bowl of fermenting orange juice. As soon as his back was turned, the familiar wheezing and heavy footsteps clattering came from the stairwell. A mumbled torrent of abuse spilled from the man's lips as he appeared, dishevelled as usual, a comb stuck within his black locks, dressed in his stained black jacket, his sour expression matched the kitchen appropriately.
"Good morning Bernard," Manny chirped, spooning the rashers of bacon on to a relatively-clean saucer; in his housewife manner, he swept in front of Bernard, pulling the chair out for him to sit on, and laying out the breakfast daintily.
For effect, Manny had also gone to the trouble of putting a freshly cut daisy in a emptied whiskey bottle, and straightened out the grubby table-cloth. Ignoring him, Bernard, mistaking the flower for a Kleenex, wiped his nose with it and threw it over his shoulder.
"Good? What exactly makes it good? The only good morning I ever had was when I realised I hadn't drank all the wine from the night previously, and I was still thoroughly disappointed," Came the disgruntled reply, as Bernard, ever the optimist, stuffed an unlit cigarette into his mouth.
"Well, did you have a good night, at least?" Manny continued, unfazed, hovering around the kitchen, dabbing at various surfaces with the corner of his Haiwain shirt. Bernard coughed, mockingly, and imitated him.
"Did you have a good night, at least? Listen to you! Lamps, outrageous clothes, mysterious people who call you on my phone, excess facial hair! This is all Changing Room's fault, they've made you this way!"
"What way?" Manny asked, genuinely bemused. He stood, self-consciously, as Bernard let rip on his first rant of the day.
"You with your socks and sandals, your moronic baby-face and your sociability! You might as well work as a motivational speaker, or worse! A personal shopper to old ladies in Debenhams," Bernard threw his hands up for emphasis.
"Television and friends have made you strange, Manny. One day soon, I'll find a lilac tank-top in with the laundry, and my book shop will be filled with people with.. with.. social lives!"
Manny fidgeted, unsure of what to say. Bernard sighed, slumping in his seat, turning his attention to the breakfast table. He studied the plate for a moment, then gaped, horrified.
"..What's the matter?" Manny asked, leaning in anxiously.
"What is this disgusting shrivelled by-product? Are you trying to kill me? I've told you a thousand times, all meat must be entirely unkosher! Look at this thing, it's practically spinning a dreidal and singing Hava Nagila," Bernard barked, slamming his fist down.
Before Manny had time to protest, Bernard's breakfast was splattered across the opposite wall. The Irishman smiled, satisfied, swiping a bottle of wine from the table and disappearing through the curtain that divided the filthy kitchen from the equally filthy shop.
Sighing, Manny swept back his mane of flowing hair, and went to get his prying spatula.
While Bernard took his usual seat behind his desk, faintly irritated at finding his wine glass had stuck to the table surface overnight, pointedly ignoring the steady throng of brave customers mooching around the dust-leaden shelves, he lit his sodden cigarette.
Running a hand through his nest of matted hair, he picked up an open book from his desk, some second edition Fowles, holding a slightly sticky wine glass in the other, and for a while, contently alternated between drags on his cigarette and swigs of wine.
"Bernard! Manny! Boys!" A sudden female shriek and the slam of the shop door made him jump, ultimately swallowing his cigarette down with his wine. Eyes-wide, Bernard watched helplessly as Fran, his skittish, and barely sane female friend, burst in to the shop.
They had been friends since Bernard had moved to London, and despite one drunken encounter spent together (which Fran had always thought he had forgotten), they had managed, amazingly, to stay friends. Still, it was safe to say that they shared an unspoken attraction to one another, and Bernard felt, at times, a little irking once in a blue moon, that there might be a chance with her. The thought was always diminished, however, as Bernard was forced to sit through gruesomely awkward "man" conversations with whichever man Fran had picked up when the time suited her.
Manny, who had just emerged from the curtain and had witnessed Bernard swallowing his cigarette, watched in fascinated horror; he barely registered when Fran collided with him and he tumbled over, whacking his head on the skirting board.
Bernard opened his mouth to laugh, woozily rocking forward in his chair, but all that left his mouth was a long gust of grey smoke; he collapsed shortly, landing directly on top of a recovering Manny.
"What are you two laying about for?" Fran yelled gleefully, poking her head from behind the curtain, shaking a bottle of £5.64 wine at them. "I've got bloody great news!"
Bernard rolled off Manny, coughing up the put-out cigarette, groaning.
"It must be great, you never spent more than four quid on wine unless it's the second coming of Jesus. Manny, get the holy glasses,"
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Thanks for reading. ;) The next chapter will be comming soonish.