Disclaimer: Hello, people! My name is... a piece of information I don't plan on disclosing at the moment, despite the fact that this fandom is pretty much dead (sniff) and my only readers know me in the real world, because I am an optimist. A paranoid optimist.

Anyway my name is... and if I was really going about owning stuff like Black Books, I would also find a way to own Liam Fray (no joke, watch out) and Dylan Moran (present for a friend of mine).

Alas, I own nothing.


It is raining heavily outside the shop, and everyone is wearing raincoats or clutching umbrellas close.

It is warm inside the shop, and Bernard Black is lighting another cigarette and watching the people outside.

One man is pulling a fleece over his head and running as the raindrops pound the pavement around him. A small girl splashes past in pink and green wellies. One woman grins as she talks into her phone underneath a yellow umbrella.

The umbrella woman ducks into the shop doorway, where there is a small amount of shelter, and shakes out her umbrella while she finishes her call.

I hope she isn't planning on coming in like that, all sopping wet, Bernard thinks with distaste.

She folds her thin dark raincoat into a bag and comes in through the door as she says into the phone,

"I'll see you tonight, sweetheart. I love you! Be good for Daddy, okay?"

Then she hangs up, looking apologetic that she was on the phone in the first place, leaving him no excuse to get her out of his shop at the moment.

She has already spent a few minutes browsing when another woman bursts in, absolutely soaked and with an utter disregard for other people whatsoever.

She is flapping one of those stupid folding brollys, the ones that break in five minutes, and carrying three bottles of cheap corner-shop wine.


"Thank God," he hisses, once she's close enough to him. "That woman has been in here for at least ten minutes!"

She rolls her eyes at him and pulls a pack of cigarettes from her front pocket while she fiddles with the radio, getting it to a station with something other than advertising playing.

"Nice umbrella, though." Fran is looking at it and smiling, as the woman finally steps outside and puts it up. Fran wonders if it is courtesy or superstition that stops her opening it inside the shop.

"How? It's yellow." Apparently Bernard has taken an extreme dislike to yellow sometime in the past five minutes.

But he gives the umbrella a closer inspection and notices it isn't circular, like most umbrellas, but a large circle with several flaps sticking out.

"Oh." It's shaped like a sun. He guesses it is a nice thing to see in the rain if you're a cheerful person. Bernard isn't a cheerful person, so he settles with a quiet "hmph".

Fran waves the cigarettes in his face.

"Thanks," he mutters, "just finished mine."

She drops them in his lap, scowling.

"Where's Manny?"

"He has mysteriously and conveniently disappeared."

She gives him a Look. The type that deserves capitals and respect and honesty.

"He's with Roweena." He doesn't even draw out the name, because he's not drunk enough to resist the Look.

"So it's just us."

"Well, yes." He doesn't know why he replies to this, because it's so very obviously a statement of fact.

Her next question is a startling change in subject.

"Do you have a girlfriend right now, Bernard?"

She is very close to him, he realises, her breath tickling his face slightly.

"N-no. Why, do you?"

She looks at him for a moment before she answers, an intense gaze.

"No. No-one."

Is she implying that they should...?

"I'm not drinking more than a few glasses then." And with that, she pulls away, back to her chair.

Of course not. He sighs slightly mentally. He then realises he should probably question this sighing, but he leaves all the incredible angsting over feelings to preteen girls and gay vampires.

He mentally shudders, remembering the day all those Midnight fans or whatever they called themselves burst into the shop, squealing and giving away the ending of the series to anyone who was listening.

Then he notes that he's doing an awful lot in his head lately, so he should probably talk to Fran.

He looks over at Fran, who looks away quickly as if she's been caught staring at him.

Bernard gets incredibly drunk, but Fran doesn't touch a drop all night. Well, hardly.

As she lights the last cigarette she has, she wonders where she could get a yellow umbrella. Not literally, just something like it to make people smile, like they do at little children, or old couples.

She could, she supposes, just wait until Bernard goes senile and then walk around holding hands with him.

It's a long wait, she is thinking, and then she grabs his hand in reality and tows him upstairs.

It's past time that he should go to bed.

AN: Did you like it? By the way, if you read any of these and don't understand things (like the Cinnamon screaming in Orange) review or PM me and I will explain these inside jokes.

Also, M.M.M., are you happy now there is actually a plot? (M.M.M are the initials of one reader.)