Take Your Witch to Work Day

It was just another manic Monday.  Complete with early morning alarm buzzing, crisp clean outfit freshly pressed and donned,  breakfast with coffee and the morning paper. It was almost normal.  Normal being a relative term of course, considering the business Matthew Halden tended to engage in.   What wasn’t expected was the doorbell suddenly being engaged before he had made it through his first cup of coffee.  Or, indeed the engaging figure that would present herself on the front step.  It was almost startling how out of place she looked.  The snow that covered the front lawn of his residence was a reminder of how bitter cold it was but the hen looked as warm as a sun kissed beach on a summer’s day.  Which was concerning as she was barefoot, had no coat, and was wearing her usual off the shoulder dress, this time a colorful pattern splashed with rich tropical hues. Mambo smiled at him sweetly with a hand on her hip as if she belonged there, despite how jarring a contrast she was to the world around her, and also... that she had never been told the address. 

“Good mornin’, mind if I be borrowin’ a cup a’ sugar?” She flashed an approximation of demure smile although it came across about as shy as a politician during campaigning season.

 

So, not his typical morning routine all of a sudden.

    • Lilly Teal
      Lilly Teal

      "Are you saying I can't be a lovely, delicate lady?" he laughed, batting the balloon pony out of his way as he reached up and tried to grab the penguin as near around the neck as possible. But well, any place would do.

      Narrowing his eyes a little, he sighted the walrus over Mambo's shoulder and, wrapping his arms around the penguin's legs so keep him from jumping off, lowered his head, snorted through his nose, and charged with all the terrifying force of his momentum behind him, and his massive, powerful horns in front of him.

      And a penguin trapped in the middle of them. And soon to be trapped in the middle of two more things.

      • Gladstone Gander
        Gladstone Gander

        "Did I say dat?" She smiled innocently. 

        The force of Matthew's blow knocked the air out of both the assailants. The walrus slid to the floor unconscious, Johnny was still awake but certainly not as springy.

        "Alright-" He grunted. "I like the cut of yer jib kid.  What do ya say you put me down and we talk about this man to man? Ya got my attention that's for sure."

        • Lilly Teal
          Lilly Teal

          Matthew made eye contact with Mambo and mouthed 'kid?' in incredulous amusement, the same way he had done with Rocco's comment to her. Only that had been with less amusement.

          "I'll put you down," he said calmly, rolling out his shoulders.

          But if you want to talk man to man you might need a stepladder. Can we get you a table? "But bear in mind tossing you up again is a very, very valid option if I don't like where the talk's going. All I'm concerned with is getting my stock back, I have no other quarrel with you."

          ... Matthew, all of this havoc was you not having a quarrel?

          Look, they started it.

          • Gladstone Gander
            Gladstone Gander

            Rocco gave Matthew a coy little smile and lifted his eyebrows. You're all young to me. She... really didn't need to be disguised anymore at the this point.  It was almost like she was doing this to mess with him. What? No... perish the thought.  Rocco sent him a  flirty wink for good measure. 

            "Yer stock huh?" Johnny Ice looked up... and up.... and up... and up until he could at the very least see the ibex's chin. "Ah you must be dat Halden guy.  Very nice operation ya got going there.  Tell ya what, I'll pay ya for what we've already got, as a show of good faith, and then if ya wanna talk scratch you let me know.  I can cut ya in on our profits. We can make it real discreet like.  Late night pick ups. Work the books, all profit kid. All profit." He moved back up the stairs to a briefcase that he'd retrieved the butcher knife from in the beginning and pulled out a wad of cash. "How much do you charge for that scrap normally? I'll pay ya double, again, as a sincere apology. If ya could see to it that Rocco," he glanced at the lizard who put his hands on his hips daintily. "...the real one, finds his way back here I'd appreciate it.  Unless of course ya already did me that favor.  He's got some loose ends I been meaning to tie up, and I'm sure you know how that can effect a business, smart gentleman like yerself."

            Rocco sent Matthew a hard look. I KNOW he's not talkin' about my fluffy little babies.

            • Lilly Teal
              Lilly Teal

              Honey, he is absolutely talking about your fluffy little babies, but we're not going to let that happen, right?

              "Those loose ends are under my jurisdiction now, Johnny. You don't get to tie them up," Matthew said flatly. "That's for me to tie up if i choose." You gave up that privilege when you sent them to us. Mostly Mambo, she's not going to let them go even if I'd wanted to.

              "See, it's not really the money that's the issue. I don't want any profits, I just want my stock. It's the principle of the thing. You understand that, don't you?" His voice was calm and friendly, though it had every promise to become neither at the drop of a hat. "I may just be a businessman-"

              How can anyone believe that, at this point?

              "- but I do not like being made a fool of."

              • Gladstone Gander
                Gladstone Gander

                Johnny Ice laughed.  Oh did he laugh.  He laughed and laughed and laughed. Eventually he wiped a tear from his eye. 

                “Just a businessman he says, yeah and I’m Darkwing Duck. Alright tough guy. You want your stock back go on and take it, my boys have got it in a truck out in the parking deck out there.  No hard feelings right?”

                Because who could hold a little attempted murder against a guy?

                Rocco eyed the peguin, then Matthew, then lifted his eyebrows with a shrug. 

                Now what?

                • Lilly Teal
                  Lilly Teal

                  "No hard feelings," he agreed, slapping the penguin on the shoulder deliberately hard. He normally didn't go for that sort of pettiness, but he didn't trust him as far as he could throw him.

                  Or, since he was reasonably sure he could throw the penguin very far, he didn't trust him as far as Johnny could throw him.

                  "At least, there won't be, unless you're intending to have your boys in the truck try something," he added pleasantly, tightening the hand on his shoulder. "Let's walk out together just to be sure, shall we? I'd hate for there to be any sort of misunderstanding when we're all getting on so very well right now."

                  Yes. A simple, innocent businessman. Look at how polite and businessy he was being.

                  Matthew, how do you convince anyone that you're an innocent of any kind?

                  • Gladstone Gander
                    Gladstone Gander

                    "Yeah, smart real smart guy this one." he inclined his head to Matthew addressing 'Rocco' who rolled his eyes lightly before opening the door and holding it open like a gentleman.

                    Or.. well that little smack to Matthew's rear as he walked past probably wasn't gentlemanly at all, it certainly wasn't ladylike either.  She was enjoying herself very much.  

                    Johnny walked them back to the van where the two goons straightened up at the sight of the "big man", the uh.. penguin. Not that Matthew didn't make them nervous because... my was he big.  They straightened up at the sight of the big... men? And Rocco. But nobody straightened up for Rocco.

                    "Alright boys, change of plans. We're going to take this merchandise and give it back to this fine gentleman right here." He turned to address the ibex.  Or.. the ibex's knee, as it was the closest thing to eyelevel. "Okay Mr. Big Business. You got a truck to load this stuff into? Or were you planning on carrying it box by box?" 

                     

                    • Lilly Teal
                      Lilly Teal

                      A valid point, a valid point. They had completely forgotten the truck at the docks, and the boxes wouldn't all fit in the car, especially not with Del and Mel in the back seat. But the revelation failed to embarrass Matthew.

                      If he wasn't embarrassed after being smacked on the rear by a six foot tall lizard man, nothing much else was going to do it. 

                      "I'll admit," he said cheerfully, "I suspected you had either sold it forward, or that you wouldn't cooperate at all, so I just came in my car. But we have a van right here, all loaded up. Do you want a deposit, or will you just take my word that I'll bring it back?"

                      Wait, are you... you're not joking. Wow. Okay.

                      • Gladstone Gander
                        Gladstone Gander

                        "Aw no, see we're real nice guys, ain't we boys?" Johnny nodded to his "nice guys" who smiled "nicely". "But you should do an inspection of the goods to make sure they're actually yours don't you think?  I mean we're very busy little bees buzzing around lots of people's honey pots. And we wouldn't want you to wind up with someone else's honeycombs would we? That could put you in a... sticky situation."

                        Johnny snapped his flipper at his helpers a few times until they opened the van doors.  Well there were a lot of boxes in there.

                        "Why don't you just climb on in and take a look?" Suggested the penguin evenly. 

                        "Hey jingle feet why don't you slow your hot dog cart and-" Rocco suddenly lost all motivation and he crossed his arms over his chest looking at the crew then Matthew. "-I dun' even know why I'm tryin' t' do dat anymore." He confessed then shielded his mouth to whisper to the ibex. "If ya want.... I kin get in dat truck, transport yer boxes t' yer warehouse and den teleport meself back here?" he shrugged lightly. "Unless ya wanna bash some more heads, which I know yer very good at an' it seems t' make ya happy. Ya rough an' tumble leetle ting you." Wink. 

                        Little thing?... maybe the altitude of her borrowed form was going to her head.

                        • Lilly Teal
                          Lilly Teal

                          "My fists are a little tired," he murmured back with a smile, though 'little thing' definitely made him raise his eyebrows. "Yes, if you could do that I'd appreciate it. This is so obviously a trap I don't want to dignify it with the time."

                          He had wanted to ask if it was possible for her to do that, but you never imply you don't know what you're doing in a situation like this.

                          Straightening up, he gave the three a nice, friendly smile of his own. "Rocco will be only too happy to do that. Won't you?"

                          And I'd like to see you three try to make me follow. I am stay right out here. He even folded his hands behind his back to emphasise how very much he wasn't going to get into that truck.

                          • Gladstone Gander
                            Gladstone Gander

                            Rocco, ever the helpful toadie hopped up into the back of the van and took two whole steps before the doors were slammed shut behind him.  Those nice guys then drew very nice guns and very nicely aimed them at that very nice smile on the ibex's face.

                            "Okay then,"  Johnny grinned. "-didn't expect you to fall for that one but your confusing little friend has got another gun aimed on him right now. Normally this would be the part where I would tell you what we want from you but I'm just sick of looking at you at this point." He made a little motion for his guys to get on with it.

                            "IT'S A TRAAAAAAAAAAAP!" Del was running toward Matthew flailing her arms helpfully until she saw the guns, and they looked at her and she froze mid flail. "-...I guess you already... know... aha ha... I'll just..." She tried to duck behind a car as the goons opened fire, trying to spread their attention between the squirrel and the ibex. Thankfully they were terrible shots.

                            • Lilly Teal
                              Lilly Teal

                              Oh not again. Matthew just wanted to go home and sleep at this point, but nobody seemed to want to let him. Letting out an exasperated growl, he brought his hands to the front of his body again, grabbing Johnny around the neck and throwing him at the nearest goon in one smooth motion.

                              Said goon hadn't been expecting his boss to come towards him at such speed, and took a startled step back, his aim going off even more than usual. It was just the opening Matthew needed to run towards Del and scoop her behind the car properly.

                              "I thought I told you two to stay in the car," he said, as if he had just come back from shopping and bullets were not currently whizzing over their heads. "Where's Mel?"

                              As if in response, the van gave a little rumble, and suddenly reversed. One of the goons still managed to jump out of the way, only just, but the other one was knocked right in the small of the back, reflexively pulling the trigger and sending a few bullets skywards as he fell, the truck rolling over him. He quickly made himself as flat as possible, keeping out of the way of the tires, but at least he wasn't actively shooting anymore.

                              The weasel stuck his head out of the van window, twisting around to look behind him with a wicked grin.

                              "My bad!"

                              • Gladstone Gander
                                Gladstone Gander

                                "We're helping!"  Delores tried to smile but my goodness was he even bigger this close and she had just been scooped to safety, like a bit of slightly melted ice cream by a steel ice cream spoon. She started taking short panicked breaths as Mel did... well Mel things and she wrung her hands instead of slapping Matthew (as was her idiom with her friend) and grit her teeth as she looked between the van and the ibex. "It was-I mean-these guys are-we didn't want-shooty guns-ouchies-uh-drivey wive away?" She suddenly bowed her head lifting her clutched hands as if in prayer. "Please don't kill us! I swear we were only trying to-" Mel backed into a support beam with a crunch. "-help."

                                Inside the van there had been a thug waiting for Rocco as he entered the cabin, presumably he was the guard, even more presumably he was usually the one who had the least interesting job in the crew. Not many people made it this far. What also normally didn't happen was his gun turning into a bag of baby carrots and the van reversing jerkily and coming to an almost instant stop, peppered with screaming and gun shots and carrying on outside. What also, in his experience, had often not (read: never) happened was Rocco physically changing into a completely different person. But hey.  Today was a day of firsts for everyone.

                                There was a hysterical terrified scream from inside the truck and bone chilling maniacal laughter.  The back doors of the van burst open, and a tough looking guy with muscles bigger than most bodybuilders ran shrieking away from them, sobbing incoherently and oh goodness, those pants looked a little... damp.

                                "Allllright you mongrels-" snarled a gravelly voice from the now open van, which was instantly recognizable to any god fearing St. Canardian but then there was a revving of a chainsaw and well there was no mistaking the mallard that hopped out of the vehicle. That bright red hat alone could be seen two blocks down. "-you wanna explain to me-why- you think that ripping off my business partner here-" Negaduck motioned with the growling chainsaw in Matthew's direction zeroing in on the three remaining speedbumps-ah- men. Yes men, of course. "-was a GOOD IDEA?" 

                                "H-he's your-" Johnny Ice seemed to be shivering as if he was made of his namesake. Negaduck glared at him as if challenging him to  continue. "-friend?"

                                "'Friend'?" He echoed with a dark little chuckle. "-Did I say friend!?" The live chainsaw swiped at the penguin who was frozen to the spot. "So not only are you ugly you're stupid too, no he's not my 'friend' he's my supplier and let me tell you waddlesworth I don't-" He flashed a mouth of pointed teeth in what could... technical be called a smile. "-share.  So take note you ingrates. If you have to lure me out of hiding using some ridiculous spell again..." The chainsaw answered by tearing a conveniently placed wooden box (had that been there a moment ago?) in half, spewing nuts and bolts all over the ground. "-you're gunna wish I let him finish you off himself. GOT IT?" 

                                Oh they got it. And they got it even louder as they instantly hopped to their feet and scrambled away nearly pushing each other over to get into the stairwell and retreat from that unhinged cackle.

                                The instant the door closed Negaduck broke down into a bout of coughing and banged his chest a few times. 

                                "Ugh, dis guy... dat voice a his is hard t' manage fer long." Public enemy number two wiped his eyes popped out a sassy hip to the side and put his hand on it.  The other lifted up and snapped his fingers and finally Mambo was herself again. "So... how was dat?" She looked behind her to the driver's side door where Mel was. "Ya need t' take it easy on t' gas dere child, ya almost made me lose me focus. Did ya hurt yerself?" 

                                • Lilly Teal
                                  Lilly Teal

                                  Matthew stared down at her for a moment, not entirely sure why she was reacting the way she- ah. They had, or rather he had, terrorised them a fair bit, hadn't he?

                                  And yet they still came running in to help, because they didn't want anyone to get hurt. ... without a plan and right into the line of bullets. Good grief. Their hearts seemed to be in the right place but they were going to get shot in that right place before long if someone didn't teach them a few things.

                                  ... someone had said that to him, a long time ago.

                                  Mambo would be good for them. She had been for him.

                                  "No no, I'm not angry. You did well trying to help, it was a... decent distraction."

                                  Speaking of distracting, Mambo's next performance caught everyone's attention nicely. The mannerisms, the voice, the look, everything was perfect, and he couldn't help but wonder if she'd had to do this before.

                                  And as she turned back to herself, he spared a private moment of relief that he wasn't going to have to deal with flirty looks and casual groping out of someone who looked like Negaduck. Rocco had been more than enough. Giving Del a slightly distracted pat on the head, he got to his feet and fixed his coat cuffs.

                                  "Are you hurt?"

                                  "Nope!" Mel beamed at Mambo's question, pleased that his stellar driving skills were so instrumental to their victory. Sure. It was all because of the driving. "I'm used to hitting things. Del can tell you, we once drove right through a grocery store because our brakes gave out, and we only stopped because we hit the fresh produce."

                                  • Gladstone Gander
                                    Gladstone Gander

                                    Del blinked up at him as she was patted on the head and pried her pleading hands apart with a goofy bucked toothed smile.

                                    "I'm fine thank you sir." She popped up to peek over the bullet pocked trunk of the unfortunate car they'd taken cover behind. She waved to Mel happily.

                                    Mambo opened the driver's side door and tugged the young man out. He was at least one and a half heads taller than her but she still managed to stare him down. She gave his arm a small smack.  

                                    "Well maybe next time ya oughta try not t' hit anyting!" Her hands went to his pants and pulled them up slightly tucking in the loose ends of his shirt. "An' whad are ya doing wit yerself here? Child I'm gunna have my work cut out wit jus' tryin' ta keep ya clean-" She squinted up at his face and made a few pointing motions beckoning him to lean down. A handkerchief appeared in her grip and she aggressively rubbed a dried patch of ketchup off his cheek, shaking her head the entire time. From chainsaws to fussing in point five seconds. That was Mambo. Once he was cleared for inspection she gave his cheek a little tap with her palm. "Dere, handsome as a movie star. Now-" She turned her wrath on Delores who's eyes lit up at her attention. "Young lady-" She plucked a piece of french fry from the mass of curls on the squirrel's head. "...Imma have t' scrub ya twelve times jus' to see whad color ya really are. Now-" She clapped her hands for attention. "-you two. Dis is how it's gun' be. Yer gunna go back t' dat hideout of yers. Yer gun' pack up yer tings and den yer gunna come see me. I'll give ya beds. I'll give ya food. But yer gunna wark fer me.  None a' dis-" She waved her hands irritably at the world at large. "But yer gunna learn," She poked Delores' nose. "I'll teach ya whad magic I can. An' yer-" She fussed with Mel's shirt fixing a few missed buttons and sighed. "-dere's always wark for a tall boy t' do. An' I'm sure yer gun' pick up tings quick.  I'll even get someone t' teach ya NOT t' hit tings..." She finally spared a glance at Matthew, the moment she did she smiled. "...Maybe Gladstone?" She returned her attention to her fluffy little babies. "If ya have any objections tell me now so I kin smack t' dumb outta ya.  If yer good den go down stairs and get yerself a cab. Jus... maybe not down the stairwell.  Use t' elevator." 

                                     

                                    There. Good. That was done, regardless of whether the pair objected or not she turned her full attention to Matthew and approached him, placing her hand on his forearm. 

                                    "Yer stock is back home safe n' sound." She jerked her head to the empty van. "If I kin make a request? I'd like t' do t' same." She smiled at him tiredly. "I tink I may have over dun it a leetle. An' maybe-" Her eyes slid to his a sultry smile crossing her black beak. "-ya have sum sick time ya kin call in t' help take care a' me?" Eyelashes batted at him.  From a lovely lady's face.  Not a lizard. Or a super villain. Although one could argue this was much more dangerous.

                                    • Lilly Teal
                                      Lilly Teal

                                      As the kids, now thoroughly adopted, passed him by, Matthew spared them a small smile. "I'll teach you how to actually defend yourself, boy, if you like. Not just hit things until you hurt yourself. And maybe we'll practice your driving."

                                      Mel's grin was not very clean, and the breath left a LOT to be desired, but it was a broad, enthusiastic one. "Yes sir! Thank you sir!"

                                      The last thing the older couple might have heard, before the younger pair walked off, was Mel leaning closer to his friend with an excited "We're getting beds."

                                      BEDS!

                                      It was everything Matthew could not to laugh out loud, still riding the adrenaline high of the whole experience, before Mambo distracted him neatly. The offer was distracting, of course, but he was more concerned with how tired she looked. Looping an arm around her, he gave the hen a warm smile.

                                      "I suppose I could pull a few strings for such a hard working partner. To make sure you get home safely in your tired state of course."

                                      Iron Hook hadn't had sick days, mostly because he hadn't had official hours, but he'd had friends to care for, to see home, to duck out of duty and run, laughing, as people looked for them. Matthew Halden had sick days, but far, far less people to use them for. For the longest time his circle had become... what? Two old friends, who he hadn't seen face to face in years, old contacts he couldn't meet face to face for fear of endangering his new life.

                                      One permanent face. That was all. A loving and gentle face, but just one.

                                      But now, we can safely make it two.

                                      Grinning, he pulled her closer for a kiss before he escorted her to the car, like the gentlemanly businessman he was.

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