Hot guys. Creepy guys. Karaoke. You know, the usual.Disclaimer:
Based on real people. Artistic liberties taken. No offense intended.Notes:
I kind of bogart the awesome in this one. Sorry about that.
Comments are love!"Of all the times for your guy-dar to fail." ~Lady UnicornChapter Thirty-Four
TnB Travel Journal
We're in London, bitches!
"Just remember," Megan said as she walked to the hotel room bathroom. "We're still on a schedule."
"We know, Mom," Yeliah said, sitting on the bed reading our guidebook.
Megan stopped outside the bathroom door and looked at her, unamused. Yeliah smiled. "Sorry."
Megan went into the bathroom and I joined Yeliah and Sam on their bed. Amberwood and Spunky were sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, watching the news on BBC, and Puddleduck was still asleep in her own bed, very skillfully ignoring Starsong's attempts to wake her up.
"We're definitely going to Kings Cross," Sam said.
"Yes," Yeliah said. "What else?"
"Diagon Alley," Amberwood said.
"If you can find it," I said.
"Big Ben," Spunky said.
"Do they give tours of Big Ben?" I asked.
"Let's see," Yeliah said, flipping through the guidebook. "'Clock Tower Tours are regretfully closed to overseas visitors.'"
There was a collective groan.
"That's lame," I said.
-duck," Starsong sang softly in her ear. "It's time to get up
Puddleduck waved at her absent-mindedly, as if trying to wave away a fly.
"Ooh," Yeliah said. "What about the Tower of London?"
"I love towers," Starsong said, jumping on Puddleduck's bed.
"Don't we all?" Amberwood said.
"It's actually a castle," Yeliah said.
"Then why do they call it a tower?" I asked.
"Because it has towers," Sam said.
"That makes no sense."
"It's in London, isn't it?" Spunky asked.
"Of course," Yeliah said.
"Then who cares?"
give tours, don't they?" I asked.
"Yes," Yeliah said. "Even to foreigners like you."
I stuck my tongue out and she just grinned. The bathroom door opened and Megan came out.
"What did we decide?" she asked.
"We're going to Kings Cross, then the Tower of London," Amberwood said.
"But first-" Starsong leaned over Puddleduck and spoke deliberately in her ear: "Breakfast."
Puddleduck jerked awake. "I'm up."
Yeliah stood at the back of the group with her camera as we walked towards the entrance to Kings Cross.
"Didn't Jo say that when she wrote Sorcerer's Stone, she got Kings Cross mixed up with another station?" I asked.
"Euston," Megan said.
"Right," I said. "So maybe we should be going to Euston."
Everyone stopped and stared at me in awkward silence for a few seconds before moving on, except Yeliah, who kept her camera trained on me.
I shrugged. "Just a thought."
We followed the crowd in through the front door, and my eyes immediately went to the domed glass ceiling that stretched over the tracks.
"Wow," Sam said.
"Yeah," I said.
"Yeah, it's great," Yeliah said. "But that's not what we came for."
"You have no appreciation for architecture."
"I saw it. It's pretty. Let's find Platform Nine and Three-Quarters." She sighed. "That's a mouthful."
Megan stopped a passing security guard. "Excuse us, sir."
"Looking for Platform Nine and Three-Quarters?" he asked in a bored tone.
"Go to Platform One, turn right, and you'll find it outside."
"Outside?" Puddleduck repeated. "How's the train supposed to get to it there?"
We all turned to look at her.
"Besides magic, of course." She looked around at us. "What?"
Spunky patted her arm gently.
"Good luck," the guard said.
We followed his directions, and, as expected, ended up outside. On the outside walls of the building was a sign reading "Platform 9 3/4" and the handlebar of a luggage cart sticking out of the wall.
"Ladies," Megan said. "A moment of silence."
We joined hands, bowed our heads, and fell silent for a long moment.
"All right, then," Yeliah said matter-of-factly. "Pictures?"
"Yes," Spunky said.
"Isn't that pretty, you know, tourist-y?" I asked.
"We're tourists," Amberwood said in a "duh" tone.
"So no picture for the Lady?" Starsong asked knowingly.
I leaned back and forth. "Well, maybe one. You know, for posterity."
"Uh-huh," Sam said
We took turns holding each other's cameras and posing, first by ourselves, then together. Starsong and Yeliah were framing the sign with their best spokesmodel arm gestures when the next group waiting nearby became visibly impatient, and we all decided that it was time for us to move on.
"How are we getting to the Tower?" Puddleduck asked as we walked out of the station. "The underground?"
"We probably shouldn't take a taxi," I said. "We need to save as much money as we can."
"Ladies," Yeliah said, standing by a bus stop. "We have nine cameras and one day in one of the largest cities in Europe." She motioned to a double-decker bus that was coming down the road. "Must I spell it out for you?"
The buses got us close to the Tower, but we still had to hoof it over Tower Hill, and wait an hour for the next tour to start. The tour guide led us through the castle, giving us the rundown of its various uses (it was another multi-tasking castle), its resident ghosts (a colorful cast of characters), and the battles it had been through (all of them).
After a thorough history lesson, we moved on to the Jewel House, which, in case you couldn't guess, is where they keep the Crown Jewels. I don't think any of us heard most of what the guide said because we were busy staring.
When we were in one of the final rooms, she moved to a glass display case that stood in the center of the floor. "Here we have the three-carat diamond earrings worn by Princess Margaret to her sister's coronation in 1953, now worth an estimated five million pounds."
She led the group into the next room, but Starsong, Sam and I stayed behind, staring at the earrings.
Starsong looked up to the ceiling, and around the room. "There are no cameras in here."
"Shh!" Sam and I said together.
"Try not to sound like you want to rob the place while we're alone in a room full of jewels," I said quietly. "Or at least whisper it."
Sam leaned in over my shoulder and whispered, "If they don't have cameras, they might have microphones."
." We looked over our shoulders and found a large, serious security guard standing behind us.
"And guards," I said.
"We're going," Starsong said.
"Yes," he said with a nod.
We hurried away to the next room and re-joined the tour group. I hit Starsong's arm.
"Of all the times for your guy-dar to fail," I said.
"We all have our off days, Lady," she said.
"That concludes our tour, ladies and gentlemen," the guide said. "You've been a great group, stragglers and all," she said, looking at the three of us. "If you follow me, I'll show you to the exit."
We were following her out of the room when Sam was shoved into me by the security guard, who hurried past with a quick "Excuse me". When we arrived in the exit hall, we found two more guards standing in front of the door.
"I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen," one of the guards said. "We have a situation. We need to search all bags and purses, and we'll need you to empty your pockets. We appreciate your cooperation."
I opened my purse to check for anything that might be a problem. Thankfully, I had left all my guns and explosives back in the States. To my right, Sam opened her own purse, then immediately shut it. She gave a little squeak, and covered her mouth with her hand.
"What is it?" I asked.
She held up her purse. I opened it and found Princess Margaret's three-carat diamond earrings inside.
I closed the purse. "This isn't good," I whispered.
Sam shook her head, her hand still over her mouth.
"This is bad."
I looked around. Two of the guards were slowly going through the crowd, searching, but the guard who'd found us in the display room was staring right at Sam and me.
I stared back at him, and after a few seconds, he looked away. I grabbed Sam and pulled her around a corner, out of the guards' sight. We stopped next to a trash can.
"What are we doing?" she asked in a whisper.
"Dumping the loot," I said, as quietly as humanly possible. I opened the purse, took out the earrings, and dropped them into the trash can. "Okay. Act natural."
We linked arms, turned the corner, and almost ran into the guard. He stood with his arms crossed and looked down at us. We looked up at him and smiled. "Hi."
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Sam and I glanced at each other, then looked at him with our most innocent faces. "Nothing."
"Right," he said. "Let's see about that."
He motioned for us to turn around and he followed us around the corner. He looked carefully along both walls, behind the trash can, and finally inside it. He reached in and pulled out Princess Margaret's earrings. He held them in his hand and looked at us.
"Oh, look, you found them," I said with a smile.
"Good for you," Sam said.
"All right, come with me," he said.
The three of us walked back around the corner, and he called to his partners, "We found them, gents. Ladies and gentlemen, you're free to go. Thank you for your cooperation."
The guards took our purses and began leading us away. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the rest of the TnB was trying to walk out with the crowd.
" I said, my voice echoing through the hall. Everyone stopped and looked. "What the hell?"
They turned and followed us as we were led away.
The guards took us to their small office and our friend- Officer Mooreland- told his bosses his story. It didn't look good for us.
"I have no idea how they got into my purse," Sam said. "Honestly."
"You want us to believe that the earrings just appeared in your bag?" The chief of security asked.
"That's ridiculous," Officer Mooreland said.
"That's how we roll," Spunky said.
"The earrings were in the display case when we left the room," Starsong said.
If we had been a cartoon (which isn't that far of a stretch, really), a light-bulb would have gone off above my head.
"That's right," I said. "And somebody else was alone in that room, after us. It was you
," I said, pointing to Mooreland.
Everyone turned to look at Mooreland and half of the TnB gave a joint "Oooh."
"This is going to be good," Yeliah said. "Can I film it?"
"No," the officers said together. Yeliah stamped her foot angrily.
"You're accusing me
of stealing the earrings?" Mooreland said angrily.
"No, I'm accusing you of cheating on your taxes," I said. "Pay attention. You ran us out of the room so you could be alone, took the earrings out of the case, then hurried away to raise the alarm to cover your tracks. You dropped the earrings in Sam's purse as you passed her. I assume you were planning to recover them without anyone noticing when you searched her purse, but you didn't expect her to find them first."
"Why would I want to take them in the first place?" he asked defiantly.
"Because they're worth 5 million pounds
, maybe? More specifically...I dunno, gambling problems?"
"Medical problem?" Amberwood asked.
"Tax fraud?" Megan said.
"We're just speculating on that part," I said.
"This is all
speculation," Mooreland said. He looked at the Chief. "You can't be taking this seriously."
"This would be easy to solve if you had cameras in the room," Starsong said.
"We have microphones," the Chief said.
it," Sam said.
"Why didn't you say that to begin with?" I asked.
"You didn't give me a chance," the Chief said. Yeliah sniggered. The Chief turned to an officer seated at the control panel. "Do you have it cued up?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
We all fell silent as our tour guide's voice came over the speaker, leading the group out of the room. We heard the footsteps as they left, there was a moment of silence, and Starsong's voice came on:"There are no cameras in here."
Everyone turned to look at Starsong, who just shrugged."What?"
she asked on the recording."Try not to sound like you want to rob the place while we're alone in a room full of jewels,"
I said, my voice loud and clear. "Or at least whisper it.""If they don't have cameras, they might have microphones.""Ahem."
Mooreland's throat-clearing was surprisingly loud. I pointed to him, and the Chief watched him carefully."We're moving,"
We heard our footsteps as the three of us walked away.
"We're leaving," I said, pointing to the speaker. "That's us leaving."
"I hear it," the Chief said calmly.
There was a quiet creaking on the recording.
"And that's the case being opened," the Chief said, looking at Mooreland.
"You should put some WD-40 on those hinges," Megan said.
"You're free to go, ladies. Thank you for your co-operation."
"Yes!" Sam said.
"Can I just ask one more question?" I asked Mooreland. "Why were you trying to frame anyone to begin with?"
He gave me a bitter smile. "I think I should exercise my right to silence now."
"You have that here?"
"Well that sucks. I mean, that's good for you. It sucks for us. All right, ladies, let's jet."
We were all smiles as we walked back across Tower Hill to the bus stop.
"Was that as cool to watch as it felt?" I asked.
"Yes," Sam said. "Yes, it was."
Starsong put an arm around my neck. "You know, Lady, I think you're becoming quite the little badass."Yeliah films Spunky and Amberwood on the top of the double-decker bus as they ride through London. They're both grinning, and the wind is blowing their hair everywhere.
Amberwood leans over the railing and shouts, "We love you, London!"
A young man calls back from below: "We love you, too, Drunk Girl!"
Love, Glomps and Firewhiskey,