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Author's Note: This takes place during “The Adventure of the Misplaced Musical Miscreant” and was written as part of PoorCynic's second writing workshop on speech. Protectors of the Plot Continuum was created by Jay and Acacia, and I write in their universe with permission. The Hound of the Baskervilles was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and belong to his estate. Mini-Hounds of the Baskervilles were created by Juliet Norrington. Mawgs and Spaceballs belong to Mel Brooks. The concept and naming convention of a “kitchen cat” was started by Hawkelf. The PPC was created by Jay and Acacia.

* * *


"Gris . . . gris . . . gris . . . everywhere is more gris!" muttered Séverine. She was only partially paying attention to her surroundings as she followed her partner through the hallways of Headquarters. "I am tired now of seeing so much grey!" She walked several paces behind Yoof, who was zigzagging back and forth as he walked, testing the air around them with his wet, black nose.

"Ha!" It was a sharp, high-pitched whine, more bark than laugh. "Your Idea!"

"I know," Séverine replied. Her eyes continued to skim over the RC doors, not really looking at them. "It is only that . . . walking in la Nouvelle-Calédonie, we would have the sky, the flowers, and people, and colors—"

Yoof stopped and turned to look at her, the bases of his long, floppy ears raising just a bit above his fuzzy brown hair. "I'm people!" he whined, his human hands held up to chest level in a begging posture. "Sort of! Half a people!"

Séverine shut her eyes and frowned. "I know, Yoof. I am sorry. That was not what I meant."

"Ha!" Yoof barked happily. He returned to sniffing his way down the hallway.

"Caught any promising scents yet?"

"Just chocolate and Bleep-things." Yoof stopped again and half-turned so that one eye was looking at Séverine. "I don't want to get in trouble again."

Séverine shook her head. "No. We will not try that again." As Yoof returned to sniffing, Séverine muttered to herself, "This ridiculous Département Médical, claiming cooking ingredients to be medical supplies."

Her words were still picked up by Yoof's sharp ears. "Ha. Shouldn't be stealing from RCs anyway, ha?"

"It is either this, or we return to searches through the worlds. Remember when the house elves discovered us in the kitchen of Beauxbatons? Or running from the Medusa spiders? And do not forget what nearly happened with James Bond."

Yoof's ears laid back against his head as he whined, "Hnnn, hnnn, hnnn." He spun around as he continued his nasal search. After a few more yards, the little black tail that hung down under his jacket began wagging.

"Ha! Ha! Something!"

"Bon, bon! Find it, Yoof, find it!"

Yoof kept his nose held high up in the air and began to walk more slowly, soon zeroing in on one RC door in particular.

"RC number two hundred fifty-one," Séverine read aloud. She interacted with agents in person far less frequently than she did with their stashes, and had no idea who lived where. She tested the doorknob and was surprised to find it locked—most agents didn't seem to bother. However, a quiet swipe of her PPC ID card through the space of the door-frame was all it took to force the catch out of its hole.

Séverine opened the door just slightly, scanning the room through the crack. The RC appeared motionless. She opened the door wider and shut it after both she and her partner were inside.

RC 251, like so many others, reflected the variations of its occupants' personalities. One wall held a long, low bookshelf, very obsessively neat. The wall opposite had a television set surrounded by a tangle of wires connecting it to various game consoles, with game discs and open cases covering the floor around a splitting bean bag chair. The green glow of a night light spilled from behind the mostly closed door to a separate bathroom.

It was the far wall, however, that held the prize they sought: on the platform below the portal's regular location sat a huge mound of golden-brown tater tots.

Séverine sighed. "I study to become a professional chef, yet I spend my life raiding the padded cells of lunatics for American junk food." Nonetheless, she took a roll of garbage bags out of her denim bag and tore off the outermost bag. She started towards the potato product, but stopped when Yoof began to speak strangely.

His ears were perked way up. "Early nineties model. Manufactured in NCIS continuum. One floor bolt loose. Back lid missing. Ceramic body, plastic lid and seat. Fill line down to ninety-four percent of full capacity."

"Yoof? What is the matter? What are you talking about?"

Yoof tilted his head. "Can't you hear it? Someone's drinking from the toilet bowl."

The green glow from the bathroom, which Séverine had mistaken for a night light, grew brighter and brighter as its source approached the main room. The door was bumped open, and a luminescent bloodhound puppy came out and gave a low, "Whuff."

"Of course," said Séverine, sneering. "Un petit."

Yoof began to growl, "Harrr, harrr, harr." The mini-Hound of the Baskervilles, 221b baker street, returned with its own low rumbling, a sharp contrast to Yoof's high-pitched yelps.

"Keep it distracted, please, Yoof." Séverine shook the bag open and kneeled down, scooping in the tater tots. "Little beasts," she told herself. "Bad enough to have a cat in the kitchen, but the whole of Headquarters is filled with monsters." Trying to ignore the growling behind her, she worked as quickly as she could, and tied off the bag when every piece was inside.

When she turned around, she saw that Yoof had dropped to his human hands and knees and was holding his head and shoulders close to the ground to match the mini's defensive posture. The two technically-canine beings kept feinting a charge, forcing the other to back up momentarily before it, too, lunged forward.

Séverine heaved the bag of tater tots over her shoulder Pere Noel-style and headed for the exit. "Heel, Yoof. We are done here! Stop that fighting; you are not even a real dog!"

"I'm half dog! Ha!" Yoof retreated from the mini anyway and stood up. "And half man! I'm my—"

"Own best friend, oui oui. But it is funnier when John Candy says it." Séverine held the door open for Yoof to pass, then clicked the door locked with the inside doorknob. She almost had the door shut when the mini-Hound of the Baskervilles let loose a howl worthy of its canonical namesake.

Séverine froze, almost feeling the sound physically travel up and down her spine, and then up it again. "Mon coeur," she swore quietly. She slammed the door and turned to Yoof, who had all of his hair and fur standing on end. "Let us return to the kitchens before that beast attracts attention."

221b baker street continued to howl as they left that hallway; preoccupied with worry, it took the pair only minutes to return to the cafeteria. On the way past the eating tables, the current cafeteria cat, Fr'sst, leaped onto one to watch them pass, unencumbered by the missing left foreleg he had lost during 2008's Sue invasion. The cat glared at the agents with deep, orange eyes.

"Do not look at me in that way, beast."

Yoof made a noise somewhere between a whine and a growl. Fr'sst hissed at their retreating backs in response.

* * *


About an hour later, agents were loading the newly heated and served tater tots onto their plates and splitting into various groups of friends to eat together. Yoof and Séverine watched from one of the doorways to the kitchen.

"This is a job well done, Yoof." Séverine crossed her arms and smiled contentedly. "Look how happy they are to have real food."

The happiness didn't last long. (It tends not to, in the PPC Cafeteria.) Soon, agents' eyes began to glaze over, multicolored stars began to spin in the air above their heads, and nearly everyone present stood and began to brawl with those closest to them.

Séverine stared, wide-eyed. Then she closed her eyes and said, "Food fights have never been uncommon here, after all."

Yoof whined, "Hnnn . . . hnnn . . . but they aren't even using the food."

"It is surely a coincidence," Séverine continued. "We have no reason to assume we are the cause. Nor should anyone else."

A sharp hiss drew her attention to the floor, where Fr'sst sat, black fur raised around his shoulders, mouth partly open to show off his shining white incisors. The cat stared directly into Séverine's eyes.

"Beast," she spat.

Author's Note: House elves and Beauxbatons belong to J. K. Rowling. Medusa spiders were created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and belong to J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. James Bond was created by Ian Fleming, and belongs to him, so far as I'm concerned. NCIS was created by and belongs to Donald P. Bellisario and Don McGill.

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