A/N-Well, my friends, here it is. It's over; c'est fini. I really hope you've enjoyed these startling developments, and I can't thank you all enough for your wonderful reviews! (And for getting me off my lazy arse to write this chapter...) And, of course, we absolutely MUST thank J. Lucy-Daisuke. I don't know how she does her magic, but she's really the one who's made this readable, and if you don't say thank you to her...well, that Deepcrow's still around somewhere, last I heard...
"Okay, okay…gently now, Gabriel…gently. Gently. Gently, Gab—oh, my god!"
"Shut up. I've got it," Gabriel responded in an easy tone that made Tycho even more nervous.
The Scholar blew at the chunk of tawny hair that fell in front of his eyes as he maneuvered the amber-colored window toward the door. He couldn't help freaking out; he had missed having windows, and dammit, he wanted this to be in one piece.
"So why didn't you get professional window…putter-inners?" the Brute asked as they carefully placed the glass in the door. "I mean, we've got enough now to pay for them, right?"
Tycho took a moment before answering to make sure the window was secure in the door. He smiled as he backed away, looking admiringly at the window, and then glanced over at Gabriel.
"Because I didn't want them to fuck this up," he said, returning his gaze to the window. Gabe shoved his hands in his pockets, looking at the window as well.
"It does look pretty badass," he agreed.
Somehow, they had managed to find nearly the same glass that had been shot out of the door almost three weeks ago. However, instead of "Ty ho Br h , Par orm l nv tigat r" emblazoned upon it, there was now a large picture of an eye with gear-like eyelashes and a lightning bolt within the iris. Arching above and below the eye, in large block letters, were the words "Startling Developments Detective Agency".
In all, it looked pretty legit.
Tycho gave the door a once-over, making sure the window wasn't going anywhere. Then, carefully, he opened the door. The glass didn't budge, so he contentedly went inside the Agency. His partner followed, heading straight for the step-ladder in the middle of the room to resume his earlier task of securing his punching bag to the ceiling.
"Not a bad day, huh?" he asked, picking up his screwdriver and looking over at Tycho. The Scholar shrugged, a faint smile quirking up the ends of his usually down-turned mouth.
"No, not at all. I'd even venture to say it was…remedial," he said, digging in one of his drawers for two bottles of Lightnin' Juice. He had almost bought some decent liquor. He had come this close. But Gabriel had insisted on a record player, and, since it was the Brute's money, he couldn't argue with him. Plus…the record player was kinda cool.
Gabriel's head tilted to the side, and his dark brows drew together as he frowned, "We talked about big words, Tycho…"
"You don't like them, I know. Remedial means to remedy—much like this Lightnin' Juice, it cures what ails ya," the Scholar tossed a bottle over to his partner, who caught it deftly as he jumped off the ladder. Both men uncorked their bottles, and Tycho held his in the air.
"Let's have a toast," he proposed, "to our grand re-opening."
"To kicking some supernatural ass!" added Gabriel proudly.
Before either of them could take a drink, their newly-installed phone rang loudly throughout the Agency. Both Tycho and Gabriel jumped, unused to the noise. For a few more rings, they simply stared at the communication device. Gabriel finally glanced up at Tycho.
"Answer it," he said.
"What?" Tycho was only dimly aware of Gabriel's having spoken to him, still caught up in the fact that someone was actually calling the Agency.
"Answer it. Y'know…" the ex-prizefighter made a nudging motion with his free hand. "You're good with…With words and stuff."
Tycho, never taking his eyes off the phone, nodded and slowly picked up the receiver. With a cautious, almost shaky voice, he said, "Startling Developments Detective Agency, Tycho Brahe speaking."
"Um…hello," came a quiet, slightly nervous-sounding voice that he guessed was a young woman. "This…this is the Tycho Brahe from the advertisement, right? The paranormal investigator?"
Tycho's eyebrows rose, and his eyes slid over to his partner. Gabriel was looking at him intently, and the Scholar smiled. In a moment, though, he was all business.
"Yes, you're right. I'm assuming you have a problem of a mythological nature?"
"Yes, I do, actually. You see, we have an enormous snake living in the sewers beneath my neighborhood, and it's already caused three of the houses on my block to cave in. I was hoping you could come take a look?" the young woman's voice dropped to a whisper. "I'm willing to pay quite a large sum, you see. This is my third house in the past two years, and I want this one to last a while."
"Oh, of course, of course. Before we continue though, I must consult my partner. If you'll hold for just one moment, Miss…"
"McIntyre. Lisa McIntyre."
"If you'll hold, Ms. McIntyre. This won't take a moment," Tycho covered the mouthpiece of the phone and looked up at Gabriel, a wide grin on his face.
"So? Is it a job?" the Brute asked expectantly.
"Yes. And from the looks of it, a good one."
Tycho wrinkled his nose, "Well, don't get too excited. She said there's a big snake in sewers. My vote's on a basilisk, but maybe a little less deadly. It'll be rough work either way, though."
Gabriel frowned, thinking, "Well…will I be able to punch it?"
"Yes, but…odds are it'll be covered in shit. Like, literal shit."
"Yeah. You up to it?"
Gabriel thought for a moment, then grinned, "I've punched hobos, and they're covered in way worse stuff than shit."
Tycho nodded in agreement. "Right. So we'll do it, then," he said, then smiled a little. "Looks like we've got our first case."
Gabriel cocked his head, "First case?"
"Last one was practice."
"Ohh…right," Gabe said with a wink.
Tycho took a deep breath, then put his mouth back by the receiver, "Hello?"
"Mr. Brahe?" came Ms. McIntyre's voice on the other end.
"Ah, good, you're still there. Well, Ms. McIntyre, we are more than willing to help you with this…Ah…Predicament."
A sigh of relief sounded over the receiver, "Oh, good. I was beginning to run out of options, but then I saw your ad. Do I need to make an appointment?"
"Oh, don't worry about that, madam. Now, if you'll be so kind as to give me your address…" he fished out a piece of paper and a pen to scribble down the address.
"Oh, of course."
She dictated her address (slowly and clearly, much to Tycho's delight), and the Scholar wasted no time in taking it down. In the few seconds it took to write the few numbers and letters, an uncharacteristically huge grin formed on his face. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Gabriel bouncing expectantly, his blue eyes wide and his fists balled in anticipation.
After blowing on the paper to make sure the ink was dry, Tycho continued, "Thank you, Ms. McIntyre. Would this Tuesday be a good time?"
"Oh, yes, of course! Thank you so much, Mr. Brahe."
"Not at all, madam. After all, here at Startling Developments, it is our duty to tread, without fear, into the whispering dark. We shall see you Tuesday. Good day."
Tycho slammed down the receiver, grinning broader than he had in years. Gabriel, meanwhile, let out a large whoop while fist-pumping hard enough to create a small hurricane in the office.
"Fuck yes, man!" the Brute cried, ignoring the papers flying about the room. Tycho laughed.
"Gabriel, I could not agree more." He picked up his bottle of Lightnin' Juice. "I believe, my friend, that we need to add to our toast. To our bright future!"
"To shit-covered sewer snakes!" Gabriel added.
"And to the Startling Developments Detective Agency!"
At this, both men took a long swig from their bottles. Well, to be honest, Gabriel took a long swig; Tycho, meanwhile, downed the whole thing in roughly two seconds. The Scholar grinned widely as he slammed the empty bottle onto his desk.
"Not a bad day, was it?" he asked, looking over at his partner. His grin turned into a look of confusion as he noticed Gabriel's dazed look. "Gabriel?"
Gabriel didn't make a sound, but rather stumbled about for a moment or so before collapsing to the ground with a very loud thud. Tycho gasped in surprise, then quickly strode over to his friend's side.
"Gabriel? Gabe? Gabe?" he asked, shaking Gabriel's broad shoulder. Noticing the half-empty bottle of moonshine beside the Brute, he picked it up and carefully examined it. Nothing looked wrong; he sniffed the mouth of the bottle before tentatively taking a sip. It didn't taste like there was any poison in it. He would know; the Scholar seriously knew some shit when it came to poison. Before he could surmise anything else, though, Gabriel let out a snore loud enough to shake the newly-installed windows.
Tycho, initially caught off-guard by the horrendous noise, suddenly let out a loud laugh. He got to his feet and walked back to his desk, shaking his head with a grin. Now that he thought about it, he never saw Gabriel so much as sip any of the "brandy" when they had first met, nor any alcohol since then. Even so, he never would have guessed that the Brute couldn't hold his liquor.
He flopped down in his chair, swinging his long legs up onto the desk as he grabbed another bottle of moonshine. He looked down at the bottle, rolling it back and forth in his hands as he thought. He had a partner… It was kind of weird. The last time he had worked with anyone—really, interacted with anyone besides Anne-Claire—was back before his father was admitted to Cloying Odor. The Brahes had always been an uncommonly exclusive clan, and, to be honest, Tycho half-believed that he might have somehow broken an unwritten rule by bringing Gabriel into the business.
The Scholar lifted his eyes to look over at the unconscious ex-prizefighter. In keeping with his bear-like appearance, Gabriel sounded a bit like a wounded grizzly as he snored. Tycho let out a small laugh as he shook his head again. Gabriel was an idiot; there was no way in hell he'd be able to figure out the Long Project Tycho had inherited. And there was no need for him to figure it out. This was Tycho's problem, and he intended to go about it by himself.
The Scholar sighed as he let his head fall back, closing his eyes.
He had a partner, and a business to go with it. Granted, their first case had ended with much blood, gore, and an angry, millennia-old bird. But trial runs were necessary, and, honestly, it could have been worse. And, so long as they didn't put it on their résumé, no one needed to know it had happened.
Tycho lifted his head and popped the cork off the bottle. As he lifted it to his mouth, he paused and looked back down at Gabriel, who was still passed out on the floor. His eyes then wandered over to the logo on the new, amber-colored door.
"To the Startling Developments Detective Agency," he repeated softly, motioning his bottle toward the door. "Here's hoping we don't fuck this up."