I must express my deepest apologies for not updating this story in 51 weeks. For a short while after I got the third chapter done and dusted, I had a pretty clear image of where I wanted to take this instalment in the series, but as I wrote on things began to get more complicated than I'd originally planned, and I got a "specific" writer's block. This lasted for months, until I finally shook myself and determined not to keep my dedicated fans waiting any longer. Sadly, Fate and time management had other ideas, and with my hectic daily schedules I rarely got any time to work on the chapter. I finally finished it up just today, and am posting it at long last. I only hope the devoted readers of this fic can forgive me for being left dangling so long, and will continue to read this story as I struggle to update it as often as I can.
No more waiting now; behold Olivia and Fidget's third case!
Fidget remained by the window, waiting for Olivia. He had not seen her since Monday morning, when he'd gotten from her the letter that brought the Horwood-Lottridge case to a satisfactory close, so he did not know whether she'd heard about the results or not. He'd been anticipating a little celebratory chat with her about it all week.
As a matter of fact, they weren't the only ones who knew about their involvement in the case. On Thursday evening, he was babysitting little Boris, and to entertain the child he had told him all about it - though he might have hammed the more heroic parts of his hand in the events up a bit. The little boy had been absolutely enthralled by the story; he already admired Fidget a great deal as it was.
It was as he had been staring up at the teen like he was some sort of deity, that Mrs. Judson had come into the room, having been awakened by Fidget's dramatic storytelling. She had been naturally curious about the little one left in Fidget's care, and Fidget had explained to her that he was a friend whose mother had asked him to look after him for the evening.
Mrs. Judson loved children, and immediately took a shine to the cheerful little boy. Boris liked her too, and upon their nominal introduction, he proudly stated that he was named for a friend of his departed grandfather's, who was "always in a hurry" - though neither Fidget nor Judson could guess that he'd misinterpreted the word "Russian" as "rushing".
Boris almost went public with Fidget's story when he said, "Uncle Fidget was telling me about how he and Miss Olivia -" Boris called him "Uncle Fidget" because he typically called adults (or those in their late teens) he was acquainted with "Uncle" or "Auntie". He made an exception with mice, however, because for non-mouse species it was generally a custom to refer to mice men and women as "Mr.", "Mrs." or "Miss" at any given time.
Fidget, realizing what Boris was innocently going to do, stepped in and said, "Um, yes, I-I was t-telling him about, um, Rapunzel!"
Confused, Boris turned to him and asked, "Rapunzel?"
Mrs. Judson was just as surprised as Boris. "Rapunzel" didn't seem like the sort of story Fidget would tell, nor did it seem like the sort that a boy Boris's age would be interested in.
"Yeah, yeah! But not the usual way it's done, no! This one's way better!"
Curious, Boris curled up on the rug again, giving his sitter his full attention.
"Well now, uh, let's see. In the first place, Rapunzel this time won't be a peasant - she'll be a princess! And that prince guy she falls in love with? Oh, he's no prince! No, he's a thief!"
"Like you used to be?"
"Um," Fidget thought about it. He had in mind a thief much more independent that the kind he was when he worked for Ratigan, but similarities could be drawn, he guessed. "Yeah! Just like me!" Fidget drew himself up straight and spread his wings out. Now Boris was really interested. Mrs. Judson was interested too, but her maternal instincts made her decide that there were more important things to do than listen to stories.
"Well, this certainly sounds intriguing, but, if you both will wait here, I'll just go in and make some cheese and raisin scones!"
"Oh, uh, well, I don't wanna keep you up," Fidget began, but she whispered to him, "Not at all. It is important when keeping a guest - especially a little child - to have plenty of good food available. I'll have them ready in an hour!" She then hustled into the kitchen and was gone.
"Tell me more!" Boris said excitedly.
"Oh, uh, well where were we now? Oh, yeah! So there's this flower, no, a drop of sunlight! So this drop of sunlight falls into the earth, by a cliff or something like that, and that's where that flower comes from! And this flower's magic! If you sing to it, you can heal any illness or any problem you got! And then there's this old woman who finds it - she's an old bat, her name's Mother Gothel. Well, she's really old, you know, gray hair, wrinkles, all bony all over, that kind of thing? Well she finds this flower while flying, and she's intrigued by its glow - it glows, by the way. Well she sings to it; this flower has a special song that must be sung if it's gonna work, and the words just come to her. When she's finished, she's just like she was at twenty-five!"*
"Is she pretty?"
"She's gorgeous! She's about the height of mice -"
"How'd she get so tall?"
"Um, she's a different kind of bat than we are. And she's got white fur, and grayish eyes, and red lips, and she's really curvy -"
"Curvy?""Haven't you ever noticed how women's bodies go 'in-out, in-out'?" Fidget demonstrated an hourglass-shaped figure.
"Well, she's got lots of curly black hair, and she wears at this time a blue dress with a red cloak. Did I mention she's in the middle of the middle ages? Well, she's thrilled about this flower, but she doesn't want anyone else to use it."
"I dunno. I guess she just doesn't want anyone mistreating it. Or taking it from her. Well, every night or so, for the next four hundred years, she flies back to the flower, which she keeps covered up, and stays young and pretty. Meanwhile, there's a kingdom which forms on an island nearby, and after those four hundred years, there's a handsome mouse king and a beautiful queen, and they're gonna have a kid. The queen gets sick, and everyone wants to find a cure for her. The mice have heard rumours about this flower, but no one's ever been able to find it. Well, they've gotta try, so they all set out that night, searching for it. Gothel's just sung to it, when she hears voices coming. She covers it, and runs up the side of the hill nearby, but she knocked the cover over by mistake. They find the flower and take it away, boy is she mad!"
"What does she do?"
"Well, the flower's made into a broth for the queen, and she gets better. The powers from the flower don't die, but now they're in the baby's hair. She's a cute little thing, with green eyes, light tan fur, and beautiful golden hair. Most of the mice in the kingdom have brown hair, so this seems interesting, but nobody guesses."
"Her hair's gold because of the flower?""Yup. Anyway, So the king and queen are really happy, and so's everyone else, but Gothel still needs that flower - now she's getting ugly and old again. She flies up to the tower - these days she wears a red dress and a dark cloak, same sort of style people wore when she really was young - and she sings to the Princess Rapunzel's hair. She starts to go young again, but when she goes to cut off some of that hair for herself, it goes brown like the king and queen's, and I guess it doesn't work anymore, coz she goes old again."
"But how's she going to live?"
"Ah, well! She's in a panic, so she grabs the baby and makes off with her, ignoring the now awake king and queen's cries. She flutters to the ground - to throw people off, she's running instead of flying, and she manages to get to the shore. Well, here she's gotta fly, so she does. Nobody catches her, and she's safe across from the island. Now, she lives in a tower deep in the woods, so she takes the baby back there with her."
"What does she do then?"
"Well, she raises Rapunzel like she was her own."
"A bat pretending a mouse is her daughter?"
"Mixed marriage, she tells her. And her father's dead. She doesn't want Rapunzel ever leaving, in case she loses her lifeline again, so she tells her that it's way too dangerous for her to go outside; people will try to take her hair and use it for themselves. She also makes a point to warn her 'daughter' never to let her hair get cut."
Fidget went on to explain to Boris that Rapunzel grows up well; Gothel does her best to take care of her and make her comfortable in the tower, but Rapunzel is a very active mouse, and she yearns to go outside. What's more, her kingdom releases thousands of floating lanterns into the sky on her birthday every year, which Gothel tries to convince her are just stars, but she can tell they aren't, and she wants to see what they really are. In the meantime, she passes her time doing whatever activity she can, and she becomes really accomplished at all sorts of things. She also has a pet insect she calls "Pascal", who keeps her company, although Gothel doesn't like him at all.
The day before Rapunzel turns eighteen, she tries again to ask her 'mother' to let her see the lights, but in song, Gothel reminds her of all the reasons why she shouldn't (singing "Mother Knows Best", Fidget explained that Gothel's voice was much better than his.)
Meanwhile, there's a handsome mouse thief named Flynn Rider, who has stolen the lost princess's tiara together with two rats known as the Stabbington brothers. They're being chased by the royal guards, riding on their guard dogs, and while they run away into the forest, Flynn betrays the Stabbingtons so he can keep the money he'll get from the crown all to himself. Then, he gets chased by Maximus, the captain's guard dog, but he escapes him, with the crown, and comes across the tower. Gothel's out, so he climbs the side of the tower himself, but gets captured by Rapunzel, who thinks he's one of the selfish people Gothel had warned her about, and that he's come for her hair. Gothel returns, and Rapunzel hoists her up (Fidget explained that although Gothel could easily fly into the tower, Rapunzel wants to be as useful as possible, so she allows her to lift her up with her hair, now that it's long enough that she can do it.)
To cut to the chase, Boris enjoyed every part of the story, and Mrs. Judson was amazed by Fidget's skill in telling it, from the parts she heard, although at the climax Boris seemed to get a little disturbed.
"Knowing Rapunzel's gonna keep her promise to Gothel, Flynn finds a shard of glass from the broken mirror - it was beside him - and he grabs Rapunzel's hair as she leans down. Swish! Slice! From here down," Fidget indicated about where Flynn cut Rapunzel's hair, "it all falls down!"
"What!" Boris gasped, "But now she can't heal him!"
"I know," Fidget shrugged. "And he's losing blood fast. But he loves her, you know, something about that makes him not care so much." Fidget scratched his head as though trying to figure out why that was so. "Anyway, Rapunzel still calls him by his real name, Eugene, and she can't believe what he just did, 'Eugene, what?' she's muttering. Oh, but everyone in the room turns when Gothel screams, 'NO!' After all, all of Rapunzel's hair's cut, so it all goes brown."
"You mean, the powers are -"
"Gone. Bye-bye! Desperate, Gothel grabs the hair on the ground - not all of it's turned yet - but soon it is, and she's just plain terrified!"
"B-because she's going to die?"
"Uh-huh." Fidget was actually getting more and more excited, perhaps he had been comparing Gothel in his mind to Ratigan, and wished something like this had happened to the nefarious Professor. "The moment none of it's golden, well you knew it would happen, she ages again! And no going back this time! 'What have you done? What have you DONE!?' she screams! Her hands are all gnarly again, her wings are stiff, her back goes all hunched, her pretty black hair's gray again, she's all wrinkled, she's old! Old and getting older! She's got four hundred years to catch up on! She runs to the broken mirror, and in its pieces, she sees what's happening to her! She's disgusted and delirious, she covers her face with her hood and wraps her wings around herself, as if she can hide her age! Pascal's still mad coz she kicked him, he moves all that hair behind her so she trips! She falls straight out the window! Rapunzel wants to catch her but she can't, so she falls down, down, down!"
"But she's a bat! Why doesn't she fly?" Mrs. Judson, having finished making the scones a while ago and now sitting, listening to the story, also wanted to know, but she stayed quiet.
"Well, she's more than four hundred years old! Don'tcha know what happens to a body that's been dead hundreds of years?"
"It falls apart!" Fidget grinned, and Boris's jaw dropped. "Yeah, it turns to dust! All the while she's falling, Gothel's crumbling apart! Rapunzel watches the lady who kept her trapped all her life fall to the ground, but all she sees is her cloak falling. Bang! It lands on the ground and goes open, and whoosh! Dust flies up and scatters in the wind, and Mother Gothel's gone! Gone up in dust!" Fidget clapped his hands together.
"Oh no!" Boris began crying. Fidget was confused by this; he had not anticipated that the little boy would not share his enthusiasm. "J-Judson, what do I do?"
Mrs. Judson had already gotten up and was bent over, hugging the little boy and comforting him, thinking, "I'd best make a note to advise Fidget about appropriate storytelling for young children!" "There there, dear, it's alright!"
Boris sniffled, "What about Flynn? Is he gonna go up in dust?"
Fidget had recovered from his state of cluelessness, and came over, sitting down and curling up beside his ward for the night. "Nah, of course not! He's the hero; they never turn to dust - I don't think…" Boris looked at him anxiously. Fidget got a sharp look from the landlady, so he quickly reassured, "b-but he doesn't! No, Rapunzel goes back to him, and she thinks he's gonna die, maybe he does, but when she sings that song again, just out of habit, and she cries, it turns out she still had some magic left! As she cries over him, her tears heal him and bring him back!"
"Really? Wow!" Boris cheered up again.
"Then Maximus takes them, with Pascal, back to the king and queen, everyone's really happy, and Flynn changes his ways and marries Rapunzel! And uh, I think the thing to say is, they live happily ever after!" Fidget sighed, glad that was over with.
Or was it? "What about the rats at the pub? Did they get what they wanted?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, they did! The guy with the hook became a world famous pianist, the mime became, well, a mime! The guy with the giant nose got himself a pretty girl, and the little frog got to play Cupid practically everywhere!"
"Poor Mother Gothel," Boris lowered his head. "She didn't get what she wanted."
Fidget thought about this quietly. He knew Gothel was supposed to be evil and self-centered, but the bat had taken care of Rapunzel all her life, reasonably well when excusing the fact that she never let her out and subtly tried to lower her self-esteem so she wouldn't try to leave. And for some reason, Boris seemed to really like her, out of all the characters, so Fidget decided he had to think of something to soften the blow caused by the character's death.
"Well, she kinda did, actually." Boris looked up and tilted his head, cocker-spaniel style. "How?"
"Well, uh, she went to heaven, you see, coz despite all she did to Flynn and Pascal, and stealing the princess, and everything else, she did take care of Rapunzel all those years, so she was forgiven. And um, well in heaven, you're always young and beautiful! Or handsome, I guess," he explained, quickly muttering the last part.
Boris perked up after this, and deeply enjoyed the rest of his visit. Around 5:30 in the morning, his sister Lisa came by to pick him up, although she seemed more interested in being near Fidget again than she was in retrieving her baby brother.
Fidget did his best to maintain his composure as Lisa flirted girlishly with him, but all he really wanted to do was run for cover. It wasn't that he didn't like Lisa as a person, but he did not reciprocate the crush she harboured for him, and he had no idea therefore what to do when he was around her. Like most, he therefore decided to just grin and bear it, although the resolve almost dissolved when she kissed him on his cheek.
"Yuck!" Boris made a face at his sister.
Turning and glaring at him, she replied, "Boris, you go on home right now!" Boris rolled his eyes, turned to Fidget and smiled, "Goodbye, Uncle Fidget!" before flying off, and after stalling a bit longer and giving a lengthy goodbye to said bat with bedroom eyes, Lisa joined her brother.
Watching them fly away made Fidget forget his earlier awkwardness. After staring at them enviously until they disappeared from sight, Fidget glanced down at his crippled wing, rubbed it remorsefully with his other hand, then turned sulkily and closed the door.
Fidget's sombre mood kept up until after breakfast, when Dr. Dawson came and inquired of him what was the matter. All the mice had noticed the bat's usually chipper or at least content mood was off, but Mrs. Judson thought it best to give him a little space, and Basil couldn't be bothered, not when there were so many cases for him to take care of. That left the good old doctor, who, never liking to see folks down in the dumps, decided to see if there was any way he could help.
"Are you alright, Fidget?" Dawson asked after finding the young bat curled up on the bottom step of the staircase, back to the rail.
Fidget had his wings wrapped around his knees, and his face buried in his wings. Lifting his head only enough so one could see his eyes, he turned to the doctor and cocked an eyebrow, pretending he hadn't understood.
Convinced beyond a doubt something was wrong, Dawson sat on the steps beside Fidget, and asked again, "Tell me, what is the matter?"
Almost incomprehensibly, Fidget mumbled, "Why would anything be the matter?"
"Well, you haven't been yourself, this morning."
"Maybe I'm tired?" Fidget still kept his face in his wings.
Dawson suspected it was a lot more than that, but it seemed Fidget was not in the mood for sharing his problems, so, shrugging, the doctor said, "Very well then," and got up to leave. Peeking out at him once more, Fidget suddenly had a change of mind, and said more audibly, "I can't fly."
"Eh, what's this?" Dawson turned around again.
"I can't fly, and it's upsetting." Fidget finally met the doctor's gaze.
"Oh, I see," Dawson replied. It had slipped his mind that the bat had a crippled wing.
"It's been like this since I was six," Fidget said, scowling into his knees again. "Same time I got this!" He patted the peg which had replaced his right leg from the knee down.
"Oh dear," Dawson replied sympathetically as he sat down beside the disgruntled bat again, "suppose you tell me about it?"
Fidget eyed Dawson, hesitating. He rarely ever spoke about that night, and never by choice. Besides, he wasn't very well acquainted with Dawson, and after being at odds with Basil and later Dawson for the longest time he still felt uncomfortable conversing with either of them. Seeing as Fidget was so disturbed, Dawson politely said, "If it is such a sensitive topic for you, Fidget, I won't trouble you about it anymore."
"No, no!" Fidget held his hands up. A gut feeling pushed him over this border, time to be out with it. "I, uh, got this from a cab!"
Dawson raised an eyebrow. "A cab?""Um, no, not that way. Well there was a cab, yes, but it didn't give me this; you know they don't do that, right? Heheheh. No, I got caught by a cab," Fidget got down on the floor to recreate the scene. "I was flying, I was flying through the air and whap! Right into the horse!" Fidget flapped into the banister, which played the horse in this re-enactment. "Ow! Anyway, so I fell! I was out and I fell! Then my wing broke," he took the crippled wing and twisted it about to show Dawson how it must have looked. The old mouse winced and gritted his teeth. "Yeah, yeah it was horrible! Then the wheel ran over my leg!" He lay down and ran his hand over the leg. "Gone! Cut it right off! Ow! Aiyee!"
"I see," Dawson wavered his hands, urging Fidget to bring this "energetic" performance to an end. "Then it wasn't the cat's fault?"
Fidget had turned away, but now he looked back, laughing. "Hahaha, no! She wasn't even there yet!"
"And you say you were six years old, and you haven't flown since then?"
"Nah, I've flown," Fidget explained, trying to fly around the hall only to come to a clumsy crash seconds later. "I just can't do it right!" His face fell and he groaned in a more subdued way, "The doc said it'd never work right again."
Dawson was quiet, for a moment, as he thought over this information. "Do you know, Fidget, I just might know how to fix that wing of yours!" Fidget's ears perked up and his jaw dropped in disbelief. "If you will come down to my practice sometime, I'll have a look at it - the problem may be mendable even after all these years."
Fidget stared at him for a count of five, before he muttered, "Really?" Before Dawson knew it, a pair of leathery wings had clasped him in a hug as tight as a throttling, with Fidget showering him with thanks and excited praise, unfamiliarity quickly forgotten.
Chuckling nervously, Dawson gently shoved Fidget off, saying, "Oh, you're welcome Fidget, but don't get your hopes up too high. I only said it might be possible; I won't know until I've looked at it."
Fidget was too happy to listen, however.
After Olivia arrived, and had gotten a moment in during her visit to celebrate their successful mission with Fidget, he told her his own good news. "Oh, that sounds wonderful, Fidget!" She gasped. "Maybe you can take me flying sometime!"
"Heh, not a bad idea," Fidget replied.
Olivia then got down to business. "I wonder what we can do for Mr. Basil this time?"
They might have thought speaking of him had conjured him up, because Basil came bounding down the stairs at that moment. "Dawson! Dawson ol' chap! The game's afoot! We must be off, and I think we'd best get Toby for this case!" And just like that, he was out of the corridor and into the living room, the door slammed behind him. Olivia and Fidget watched as he came zooming back into the corridor, his Inverness and deerstalker adorning him, just as Dawson was descending the stairs.
"Come, come, Dawson! No time like the present! Let's be on our way!" Basil came back to the foot of the stairs and clapped his hands.
"Right behind you, Basil. I'll just take a moment to put on my coat -"
"No time, I'm afraid. We must make haste!"
"Now dash it all, Basil! No case is large enough that I cannot take one moment to get my coat!" Dawson firmly pulled his arm out of Basil's grasp and went into the living room.
Arms folded impatiently, Basil turned to the two onlookers and confided, "Except that it won't be a moment, rather it'll be somewhere in the average of 46.05 seconds. What's more, he'll insist on taking his hat and his umbrella."
Basil stood where he was, tapping his foot and tracking the time on his watch, until Dawson returned. "Right on time as usual, my good fellow!"
"I beg you par-" Dawson began, confused.
"Ah-ah-ah! No time for chit-chat! We must be off!" He then excitedly shoved poor Dr. Dawson in the direction of the door which would take them to the passage leading up into the human dwelling up above.
Staring after them, Fidget finally asked, "Now what were you saying?"
"I said, what do you think we can do for Mr. Basil this time?"
"Oh. He's got those letters on the table again."
"I noticed that. Let's go take a look!"
So saying, they went into the living room, over to the chemistry table, and stood there, reading over the letters one at a time. Olivia had so far selected five prime candidates out of eleven considered, when suddenly they heard a door open and Basil chattering frantically, accompanied by Dawson's concerned voice. The detective then came dashing into the living room, with the doctor in tow, leaving the little mouse and the bat barely enough time to replace the letters on the stack and step away from the table before they were noticed.
"Mr. Basil, what's the matter?" Olivia asked, hoping the detective, if he noticed, would not question the unmistakable shaking in her voice.
"No time to talk, Miss Flurrychums! A most terrible misfortune has befallen us! We have to -" SLAM! went the door, taking the rest of what Basil was saying with it.
"Dr. Dawson, what's wrong with Basil?" Olivia turned to Dawson.
"Well, Olivia, I'm afraid we overheard the humans upstairs discussing something very troubling. I don't want to worry you, but… Toby has been stolen."
"Stolen? Oh no, not Toby!" Olivia clasped her face with her hands.
"Yes, my dear," Dawson answered gravely. Then, to brighten her spirits, he quickly added, "But not to worry, Basil and I will hunt down the scoundrel who took him and get him back. He'll be alright!"
After Dawson left, Olivia turned back to Fidget. "Who would do a mean thing like that?" She asked.
"Heh. Those humans are the worst, right?", was all he could say.
Olivia looked down at her shoes, frowning. A contemplative tension filled the room's atmosphere for a number of moments, until she finally said, "We can't just stand around and do nothing, Fidget!"
"Huh?" Fidget might have forgotten Olivia could talk, in that time, judged by his reaction.
"Toby is our friend, Fidget," she explained as she walked over to him. "When a friend is in trouble, you've got to help him any way you can!" She grasped his shoulders as she continued, "We've got to look for him too, Fidget! This can be our case for the week!"
"I might've guessed," he thought as he watched her run and retrieve her coat and things, then slip them on. He had already begun to realize arguing the point was fruitless with Olivia, so he just shrugged and went to get his scarf and hat. Glancing at the clock as he did this, however, he couldn't help but complain, "Aw, but Livy! Bed's in three minutes!"
Olivia stopped. It was one thing when she voluntarily made herself miss sleep in order to follow a case, but making someone else? "Oh, maybe you're right, Fidget. You go to sleep, I'll go look for Toby."
"Livy…" Fidget muttered in a foreboding undertone.
"It's okay, Fidget. It's daytime, so I should be alright."
"Ah-ah! No dice! You're not going to guilt me into coming along - I already am!" He resumed collecting his scarf and whisking it 'round his neck.
"But I wasn't trying to -"
"Say no more!" Fidget plunked his hat atop his head, then turned to her and said, "Just say where, and that's…. uh, where!"
Olivia wondered if that really was Fidget she was talking to, and not Basil in perhaps his most accurate impersonating disguise ever. "Um, okay then. Well we'd better go upstairs and look around, first."
Gazing over at the stairs to the rooms up above, Fidget inquired, "What's that got to do with it?"
"You know I didn't mean that," Olivia replied, "I meant where Toby lives!"
Fidget gaped back at her. "Oh - oh! Up there, huh?"
"Mm-hmmm. Come on!" Olivia signalled for him to follow her, then went to the door leading to the passage up to the human flats above.
Once they were up there, Olivia turned to Fidget, who was closing the door to the passage. "Now remember, Fidget, we have to keep quiet!" She whispered.
"State the obvious!" He rolled his eyes.
"Shh!" Olivia had related the purpose of this step in their search for the missing canine on the way up. She intended to look for any signs pointing to whomever might have taken Toby, and his home seemed the most logical place to start.
At length, Fidget, who'd been puzzling over this for the longest time now, finally whispered to her, "Livy, uh, what exactly do we look for?"
"That's the problem, Fidget. We don't know when he was kidnapped, or where. He might have been outside, or he might have been in here."
"If he was in here, there'll probably be something that proves it, like tracks or something unusual left behind."
"And if he wasn't?"
"Then we'll have to think this over again. Now come on!" They made over to the hall, and almost immediately noticed that where Toby's bed had been was clear space now.
"Fidget, look!" Olivia hissed, remembering at the last second not to yell. She pointed to the absence of the basket.
"Why's it not there anymore?" Fidget frowned.
"Maybe this is a sign!" Olivia suggested. "Maybe Toby was in his basket when he was taken, and the kidnapper took it with him!"
"Maybe? What else could it mean?"
"I don't know. Maybe whoever took him went back and grabbed his basket?"
"Why'd they do that?"
"I don't know that they did! But it wouldn't hurt to look." So they went over to where Toby's basket used to be, and examined the space. "See anything?" Fidget asked, looking side to side as Olivia paced around, inspecting the floor.
"I do! Fidget, look at these marks on the carpet!"
"Hahaha, looks like Toby's been clawing at it!"
"Fidget, those aren't claw marks! They're too wide, and look how long they are! I think they go all the way to the front door! Toby wouldn't have clawed the carpet all the way from here to there. They're wheels!"
"And look at this! How wide do you think Toby's basket is? Doesn't it look like these wheel marks are far apart enough that whatever they belong to could carry the basket? I'll bet that's how the kidnapper got it out!"
"And if the dog was in the bed, maybe they drugged him so he wouldn't bark! Or put up a fight," Fidget quickly added.
Olivia shuddered. Then to make things worse, they heard the door opening.
"Yikes! In here! Now!" Fidget grabbed Olivia and they scurried back into the parlour. Taking cover under a chair, they peeked out and watched the human detective and his assistant enter the hallway, and tried to listen to what they were saying.
"They're talking about Toby, alright!" Fidget nodded.
Seeing the enormous men disappear up the stairs, Olivia stepped out from under the chair and declared, "We need to follow them. Maybe they've found out something important."
"Y-you want to go up - up after them!" Fidget stuttered, shrinking back into the darkness under the chair.
"Yes. Don't be so afraid, Fidget! This isn't worse than anything Professor Ratigan made you do!""Yeah, says you!" Fidget grumbled, crawling out and joining the little girl. It was just as they were about to go upstairs, however, that the human landlady entered the hall, calling out for Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Ducking quickly, they cowered into a corner, huddled together as tight as they could, hoping they would not be noticed.
Mr. Holmes came down the stairs upon his landlady's call. Olivia and Fidget listened carefully to what they were saying. Mrs. Hudson had a typed message for Holmes - she'd found it beside the typewriter while she was cleaning. Holmes skimmed over the contents of the message, and upon determining that it was from Toby's captor/s, and that it had been composed using that very typewriter, was very displeased that she'd not notified him sooner, and saved him time. Hudson sharply replied that she'd only noticed it after he and Dr. Watson had gone out, and that there was no reason to take that tone with her.
"She's so much like Mrs. Judson," Olivia mused. When the coast was clear, the two came out of hiding and continued on their way up after Holmes. "So the kidnapper wrote a message when they took Toby!" Olivia thought out loud.
"Or they came back after they took him and wrote it." Fidget contributed.
"That'd be very risky, but maybe they did."
It was at that moment that they heard men's voices and huge feet trampling down the steps again - four of them, so there were two men approaching. Fidget, now annoyed, said, "Oh come on! I've had enough of this!" Grabbing Olivia, who couldn't stop herself squealing in surprise, he sped over to the edge of the staircase and jumped!
"Holmes! Did you hear something?" Dr. Watson could be heard to utter. "It was very faint, but it sounded like a little girl shrieking!"
"Nonsense, Watson," the detective replied impatiently, "It is the damn creaking in these steps."
"But Holmes -"
"Tell me, Watson, if there were a child voicing distress, would I not be able to discern it from the noise of overexerted stairs?"
While the detective and the doctor continued to argue the point, the one who had shrieked - in a voice faint and high enough for human ears to easily mistake it for squeaky steps - turned and glared at the one who'd stimulated her to do so.
"Fidget, how could you do that? We might have been killed!"
"Call it bragging, but I'm pretty good at jumping, even if I can't fly!" Fidget smirked. "You've seen me hop from one roof to another, right?"
"No." Olivia replied.*
Fidget thought. "Oh, I guess you didn't. Huh. Well I landed alright, didn't I? You're not hurt?"
"I was scared to death!"
"Who isn't?" Fidget broke off laughing, pleased with his joke and thinking he'd won the argument. Olivia might not have let him, but she remembered the case, and decided its priority was much higher.
"If only we knew what was in that letter," Olivia muttered.
"Better go up and look for it."
"Fidget, if Mr. Holmes is anything like Mr. Basil, he isn't going to leave an important clue like that behind. Hey, look!" She pointed at the humans as they were heading out the door. "I'll bet that paper he's holding is it! Come on!" She grabbed Fidget's hand and sped off, Fidget quickly catching up.
"So uh, this means we're gonna follow them?"
"Yep! If we can catch up to them, we might be able to get a glimpse of what the message says!"
"Livy," Fidget said as they got down on their bellies and crawled under the door, "I'd love to know how you think we can catch up to them!"
"Where there's a will, there's a way, Fidget!" was all she could say.
There was a way, of course, a long, long way between the two search parties. And that long way was growing with each step. When the mouse and the bat had gotten outside, their human quarries were already at the corner of the street. They'd crossed before the smaller creatures had reached that same corner, and it seemed quite clear they'd soon be a block away. The fact that Olivia pressed on, seemingly ignoring all common sense in her passionate pursuit of that letter, boggled Fidget's mind. Still, they were in this together, and she was undoubtedly in command. Wherever she went, he'd follow.
"Really keeping up with them, aren't we?" Fidget turned to his companion, smirking.
"They've got to stop at some point, Fidget!" Olivia huffed, trying to either pick up pace or at least stay at the one she was already at. Unfortunately, though she was fit for a girl her age, her stamina did not match that of an adult's, nor could her velocity match that of a human's, and she found herself beginning to tire. Hope and desperation were the only things which kept her running. Fidget saw that the girl was getting weary. "If only I could fly," he thought to himself, "we'd've been there by now."
Luckily, Heaven helped those who first helped themselves. As they reached the corner of the next block, a hansom was passing down the road. Holmes and Watson had turned right, and the hansom was heading that same direction. "What luck!" Olivia panted. "Quick, Fidget!" Fidget did not need to be told twice; one well-timed leap and they were on the footstep of the cab. Because the horses travelled much faster than the humans, they were caught up to the detective and the doctor in no time. Waiting to get a little ahead of them, they quickly jumped off their transport and scurried back onto the sidewalk.
Watching as the humans fast approached, the bat turned to the mouse and inquired, "So what do we do now?"
Olivia did not answer. She didn't have to. She watched as Mr. Holmes glanced at the letter again, before stuffing it in the left pocket of his Inverness. Six steps later and his trouser cuff was within grasping distance; she grabbed ahold and Fidget quickly followed suit. "To that pocket!" She hissed as quietly as she could, and the two delicately but swiftly ascended the leg of the human, hitched onto the edge of his coat, and continued on till they reached their destination. Hopping inside and feeling ever so thankful that even the observant Holmes did not detect their presence, they proceeded to work together, adjusting the large sheet of paper at turns and tips to discern its contents.
"We… have taken… your dog… detective,… and if you… ever wan… want… him back, you'd… better -"
"Shh! I'm getting to that, Fidget! Hold that corner up!" Olivia hissed, then returned to her reading. "You'd better… come down to… Carey Street, unarmed. Bring the doc… with you… too. Make Haste."
"Queer street?" Fidget cocked an eyebrow.
"Carey Street," Olivia replied.
"Yeah, that's Queer Street, where the bankurtis - uh, bankaris… um, the courts for folks who've lost their money are!"
"Why would anyone want to take Toby there?"
"Maybe to charge him for making them go broke?" Fidget laughed.
"This isn't a time for jokes, Fidget, we've got to think!" Olivia drummed her fist into her other hand. She assumed Basil's primary thinking pose. "So far we know that the people who took him used a wagon to get him out, and they might have knocked him out so they wouldn't get caught. They left this note so Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson would go to Carey St. to get him back, and they don't want them to have any weapons with them." She wondered whether Holmes would obey that order or not.
"Say, Livy, did you see this?" Fidget showed her a peculiar smudge of ink from the typewriter, on the right side of the paper.
Olivia squinted in the darkness. "Isn't that a -"
"It's a handprint!" Fidget declared.
"But it's small enough to be a rodent's hand!" Olivia said. "That would mean… Toby wasn't kidnapped by humans at all!"
"That Holmes guy must be having an off day, if he didn't notice this!"
"Even Mr. Basil doesn't notice everything right off the bat, Fidget," Olivia said, but when Fidget tilted his head to the side and stared at her with his eyes wide open, she quickly corrected herself, "um, I mean, right away!"
Fidget nodded in acceptance, then looked back at the handprint. "But just look at the size of this print, Livy! You can't call that small! It's bigger than Ratigan's hand!"
Olivia thought about this, then proposed, "do you think that means it was rats? Or in any case, one was in on it?"
"I'd put my money on it!" Fidget affirmed. "Hey, wait! Why've we stopped?"
The two of them had noticed that their human transport had halted in his footsteps. Drawing in their breaths, they cowered into the deepest recesses of the pocket they could manage, looking on in terror as the pocket was opened and a giant, slender man's hand reached in…
AN: …To be continued! I apologize once again for this far-too-long waiting period. I hope to get Chapter 5 and the conclusion to this particular case up much faster.
Now, as always, here are the details behind those places I've marked with an asterisk:
1. Yep, you guessed it! Fidget's story for Boris is "Tangled", mouse-size! Naturally Rapunzel and Flynn and most of the folks had to be mice, but watching Mother Gothel, and noting that aura of mystery and the way she just seems to fit in with the night, I couldn't see this version of her as anything but a bat. The Stabbington brothers and all the other really big, brawny guys in the film are rats in this version, "Shorty", I felt just had to be a frog; Pascal couldn't be a chameleon in this version, naturally, so he's an insect, and Maximus and the other guard horses are dogs. I personally think Fidget does a pretty good job of telling the story, not to suggest that anything compares to Flynn Rider's narration. ;)
2. Obviously that little exchange of words is about the scene in GMD when Fidget kidnaps Olivia at the human toy store. Also obvious to everyone except Fidget, is that Olivia would not likely have been able to guess he was hopping from roof to roof on his way back to Ratigan's lair, if she was inside a sack and panicking over her ordeal.