Title: Agent Klutz: Week 3.5
Fandom: Read or Die
Disclaimer: Still don't own 'em, they still don't like me.



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Dear Diary,

What a day! What an exhausting, bizarre, utterly infuriating, yet oddly fulfilling day!

First of all, I should probably explain why there was no harrowing helicopter ride to live through.

You see, our mission (or missions, rather, which I will explain like the good little stickler for detail that I am) was in London, and of course, it would be silly to waste a day buzzing about in a helicopter, only to end just where you began.

I was thrilled to find that we were remaining in London, naturally, as I rather like going at home to my own comfy little bed to sleep at nights.

Drake seemed less thrilled.

He grumbled constantly about the rain, even though it wasn't raining at all, aside from a little drizzle in the morning. I told Drake he was a bigger bloody wimp than he insisted I was, if he couldn't handle a little rain. He glared at me and told me that he had nothing against a little rain, but he did have a problem with a damn deluge.

I don't know what he means. There were only a few neighbourhoods that experienced flooding.

Oh, very well; there weren't. I thought it would be amusing to the future generations who pass a rainy Sunday afternoon reading this. God help them, they need a hobby even more desperately than I do! Or they will, rather.

Drake's other problem was that "all these British people creep him out."

One, he hastened to add with a sound strangely like a laugh in his voice when I glared at him with all the wrath I could muster, was cute; thousands were simply scary.

One might wonder how, if Drake feels this way, he ended up working for the Royal British Library Division of Special Operations (the first and last time this Diary will ever see it written out in full; I get more than enough of repeatedly writing or typing that hand-cramping little title at work).

However, there would probably be very little point in asking.

Questions like that don't tend to have answers that don't induce severe headaches.

At any rate, we all arrived at the Library this morning, with our luggage since no one bothered to tell us otherwise, to find Mr. Joker waiting for us.


Now, do not misunderstand. There was nothing strange in this, as when Mr. Joker calls someone in, he tends to wait for them instead of buggering off for a mid-morning pint.

The strange part was the huge, expectant grin on his face, and the fact that he was waiting for us outside by his car.

Drake demanded forebodingly what was going on, the foreboding effect of which was apparently lost on or ignored by Mr. Joker.

He replied very coolly and calmly, although with that huge smile that would have been very creepy if it hadn't been so utterly cute, that things would be done a little differently today.

Now, here I would like to take a moment to address what is quite a mystery to me.

When Mr. Joker said this, Yomiko, Nancy, Drake and I all reacted with similar amounts of dismay and distrust.

The puzzling part is that, judging from the past few days, none of us particularly liked the way things were being done. Thus, I do not understand why on earth I along with everyone else reacted so strongly and negatively to the idea of its changing.

I can only assume that we've all had it effectively and firmly ingrained in us by now that no matter how aggravating, inefficient, and altogether unpleasant our circumstances are, they can always get worse.

And when something can get worse, naturally, it will get worse. Promptly.

This bit of universal truth failed to come true for me when Mr. Joker announced that one major difference would be that he would be joining us. I was quite thrilled by this, and looking forward to listening to him talk throughout the helicopter ride with wide, adoring eyes and no idea what he was saying.

When he told us that the next difference was that we were to be staying in London, I was even more thrilled because, as I've said, I have no particular aversion to spending time in my own home.

When he told us that these changes would be made because he thought that what he'd been giving us was a little much for us (read: for me) to handle, I began to get a faint inkling of exactly how this could be worse than what we were doing.

When he told us that we would be driving around the city, collecting every overdue book on The List, I think I must have grimaced horribly, because this one old janitor who has always scared me horribly, called out as he passed on his way into the building that I shouldn't scrunch up a pretty face like that.

I was sorely tempted to return that I would 'scrunch up' his not-so-pretty face if he didn't mind his own bloody business and leave people alone who clearly wanted to be.

However, Mr. Joker saved me from making an enemy in the old man by hastily suggesting that we be off, then.

And so, we all piled into his car as he indicated.

Imagine my surprise when, just as I began to climb into the back seat (and in the middle, squished between Yomiko and Drake who had apparently decided that elbow room is his privilege alone, thank-you-very-much), Mr. Joker caught my arm in a place that I'm not going to ever wash again until I take a shower tonight, and told me that he wanted me to drive.

I think I gaped rather rudely at that, because Phyllis, who happened past at that point called out and asked if I was trying to catch flies, and she thought I'd given away the pet frog.

I wanted very badly to call back to­ her that I'd dissected my pet frog long ago and used the bits in the Christmas fudge I'd given everyone around the Library for Christmas last year, but there were several other people around, and I didn't want to thoroughly disgust all of them, because that would create the necessity of coming up with ideas for Christmas presents for lots of people, that are not edible.

Sigh. If my dear, darling brother Michael were to read this, he would no doubt ask with this feigned innocence, "Gee, Sis, do you mean the fudge was edible? That's sure news to me! I tasted mine, and then set it to use as a paperweight!"

Have I mentioned that I love my brother dearly?

Particularly when he's screaming in pain?

Preferably pain that is being inflicted by me?

At any rate, I think I'll get back on track sufficiently to relate that yes, I ended up driving Mr. Joker's very expensive car all over the city today, regardless of the fact that I'm not on his insurance at all, and thus would have created an extremely bad situation if I had gotten into a minor accidenta and put a dent in the front, or side-swiped a fence, or crashed it flaming into a building or something.

Very bad, very careless planning, I thought.

Still, I have to say, it was a brilliant experience to drive a car that doesn't make noises that sound distinctly like profanity when you go over a bump the wrong way.

And it was an even more brilliant experience to find out that Mr. Joker trusts me enough to let me drive his car.

Apparently, he heard from someone that I make up for my lack of grace on foot when I get behind the wheel of a car.

I don't know what fool told him this.

I have two settings when I drive: panic, and full-out road-rage. There is no in-between. I am either whimpering in fear or bellowing in anger.

Or, when Mr. Joker is instructing me on exactly where to turn in between bits of conversation with Yomiko, Nancy, and Drake, sighing in shiny-eyes delight.

I'm honestly pathetic.

But I'm happy, so let all who judge hang it out their ear.

Hang what exactly out their ear, I would be hard-pressed to tell you, but let them hang something out their ear!

Eventually, we arrived at the first location, and when we pulled up in front of a nice, if rather small white house with a row of small fir trees in the front yard, Drake and Joker both double-checked the address, each sure that the other must have gotten it wrong.

Men.

Still, both were completely justified in wondering at the appearance of the place. Such a neatly-kept, demure, dainty little house when the first book we were to collect was a collection of 18th century French pornography!

We were about to turn around and see if we had turned at the wrong street, when Nancy suggested that maybe we should go up to the door and ask the people living here if there was another house whose mail they commonly got due to very similar addresses.

Mr. Joker seemed to think this idea was a good one, and so the five of us made our way up to the door.

I have to wonder exactly how I would feel if I was hanging about my home, minding my own business, perhaps enjoying a nice cup of tea (or better yet, a can of soda!) and maybe a warm bubble bath, and all of a sudden, five people came tromping up to my door. I can't say for certain, as I get sadly few visitors in groups of any number, but I am quite confident in saying that I believe it would unnerve me.

Yes, we made a reasonably intimidating sight. Except for Yomiko, who looked as adorable and unassuming as always, nose buried in her book, glasses sliding down every now and again.

What, me? Well of course I looked scary! Could there be any question?

And Drake didn't help us to look any less intimidating, either, with the way he was menacingly wielding his umbrella.

I don't know how he manages to make an umbrella look scary, but I must say, I was very nearly frightened.

Sigh. I seem to be getting off-track again.

Well, we reached the door, at any rate, and knocked. Riveting, isn't it?

A middle-aged lady answered, fairly plump and very pretty, with her long, thick brown hair in a braid down her back. Still wearing a housecoat and bedroom slippers.

I would shake my head in disapproval at just how long it takes some people to get dressed in the morning, if I wasn't so utterly envious of this lady, still in pyjamas at nine-thirty in the morning. What bliss to get such a late start on the day! Sigh…

She told us there was no house around with an address close to hers, and asked exactly who we were looking for.

Mr. Joker told her it was a household of Steeves that we were looking for, and she frowned and told us that yes, she was Mrs. Steeves, and then asked exactly what we needed.

She looked very confused when Yomiko this time told her that we were looking for an overdue library book, and asked why on earth our library didn't just call people with overdues like everyone else.

Nancy looked as though she thought this was a very good point, and I must say, I agreed. Drake simply looked annoyed that he didn't come up with it first. Yomiko looked aghast at the idea of failing to take a more hands-on approach to safely recovering our precious tomes of wisdom.

Her wording, not mine. I would never call French pornography a 'tome of wisdom'. Perhaps, if I had been born a man…eugh. What a horrifying thought.

I suppose I really have nothing against men, but my having been born one would throw a bit of a wrench in my notable…er, fixation with my boss.

At any rate, as soon as Mr. Drake mentioned the name of the book, Mrs. Steeves acquired this sort of grim, understanding expression, and disappeared from the door.

I mean, of course, that she walked away very quickly, not that she vanished suddenly.

She returned a moment later with a middle-aged man in tow, and told us that the book must have been loaned out to her husband, and that we should ask him what had happened to it.

He protested that he knew nothing of it, but at the time I didn't believe him.

He seemed the French porn type.

A man, that is.

Still, he continued to protest that he hadn't borrowed the book, even as Mr. Joker explained what the overdue fine would be.

At this point, a boy of around fifteen or sixteen, clad in flannel pyjamas, slogged to the door, wiped his nose with a pitiful sniffle, and asked what all the noise was – it was making his head ache and keeping him awake.

When he saw us, he asked with a frown what was going on, and his mother explained that all these nice people from some library or another (really, some people ought to learn to listen) were here to collect an overdue book of pornography that someone in the house (punctuated by a vicious glare at her husband) had borrowed.

Honestly, I've never seen someone's expression go from grumpy, sleepy, and sick to utterly terrified so quickly.

He tried to bolt – right out the front door, proving himself to be at exactly the same intelligence level of the people we've dealt with on all these missions.

Terror of his mother, expression gradually growing more and more suspicious, must have lent him strength, because he plowed through Yomiko, Nancy, Drake, and Mr. Joker without a problem.

I don't suppose any of the four, or Mr. or Mrs. Steeves, were terribly impressed when, after they started yelling "Grab him, Wendy! Grab him!" (minus Mr. and Mrs. Steeves, who didn't know my name), I stepped back to clear a path for the boy.

On instinct, purely.

Being a scary former rugby star is one thing; being rude is quite another, and my subconscious mustn't have wanted to do that.

Still, as it turned out, it didn't matter.

As I stepped back, I caught my foot on the flat stones bordering the walk up to the house. Then I started flailing, rather wildly, and shouting some not-so-nice words.

I shouted even more not-so-nice words as the boy tripped over my foot (or, if you're really picky on matters of detail, as I kicked him in the groin), and somehow contrived to fall sideways onto me.

If I didn't know how desperate he was to escape the combined wrath of an angry mother, an angry Yomiko, and an angry Drake, I would have said he did that on purpose.

And I must say, he may have been just a scrawny adolescent male, but he was a very heavy scrawny adolescent male!

Still, I didn't have long to think about it, since someone that I had thought was Drake grabbed him by his hair and hauled him off me.

Then I climbed to my feet and saw Mrs. Steeves shaking him, again by the hair, and demanding to know how he had managed to loan pornography from this library, and what he had done with it.

By this point, he was close to tears, which seems a little weak for a man until one remembers that it bloody well hurts to be shaken around by the hair, particularly by one's mother, who is angry because they have just found out that their underage offspring is indulging in the reading of pornography.

Not that I would know this; I don't have first-hand experience. I'm only guessing. Honestly!

At any rate, the poor boy (Peter, I believe) ran downstairs, his exhausted slog all but evaporated, to retrieve the book, while Mr. Steeves doled out the late fee, grumbling about how that damned boy would pay back every penny, along with an ugly interest rate.

And so, the first mission of the day over with, we all piled back into the car.

Here, Mr. Joker beamed at me and told me he was certain my talent would come in handy.

I'm sure I was staring at him as blankly as Drake, Nancy, and Yomiko (who, yes, was reading the book we had retrieved), as I asked exactly what he meant.

He replied that my propensity for lucky disaster had kicked in at just the necessary moment to enable us to nab the boy without a lot of trouble and searching of the neighbourhood.

Here, Drake interjected that the damn kid was lucky he was tired today; otherwise, he'd have been up off the ground and shoving his fist down the boy's throat in a shot.

I asked if that wouldn't have been a little unpleasant for him, too, having his fist down someone's throat, and he told me, predictably, to shut up. And to stop my damn scribbling again, which I wasn't doing.

I think it's become a knee-jerk reaction around me.

Our next mission was just as silly.

Long story made short, it involved retrieving a volume on ancient Druidic lore (which seems as dubious to me as to anyone else) from a group of four teenage girls who wanted to establish a coven and were interested in following the Druidic life path.

Or something. I can't make out what the girl was driving at.

That same girl, the self-proclaimed leader of the coven (even if I'll wager her friends disagreed on this point), apologized rather grudgingly, and even more grudgingly paid the overdue fine (which I suspect came straight out of Mum's pocket). Still, she very much gave the sense that she felt we ought to be apologizing to her

She had set it aside, she explained with an accusing glare, because most of the things it said were far too ugly to be incorporated into their own personal system. Of course, that meant that her utterly forgetting the book was in her room was not her fault.

Apparently, being a witch means that you not only get to have a cut-and-clip belief system, including any bits from other systems you find prettiest and excluding any bits you find ugly or inconvenient, but that you also get to ignore all conventions of manners, and that nothing you do is your fault. Not what I've heard about it, but I suppose the fifteen-year old with eight pounds of eye liner and a pink tee shirt with a glittery pentacle on the front would know better than the bloody experts I've talked to.

Honestly, I am now seriously considering changing my name to Persephone Starclear Moongazer and starting a coven. I like the idea of a system that lets me do any nasty thing I like because "those so-called 'morals' are constructions of other systems, and the Goddess encompasses both good and evil."

I expressed as much to our little friend (Tasha, I believe, although she insisted upon being called Isis).

Unfortunately, she took me seriously and informed me with a scornful roll of her eyes that I was way too much of a conformist to be a Wiccan; she could tell.

However, she seemed quite anxious to get Nancy to be the fourth member of her coven. She was thinking of kicking Thea out, she told us, because she wouldn't dye her hair black or blue or purple or blood-red or ANYTHING, and she didn't have a pentacle. Then she told me kindly that I could join if I would consider a slight change in hair style and colour.

Oww…my poor ignored little sarcasm hurts.

On the way back to the car, I asked Mr. Joker how all these children kept being loaned these old, important, and very expensive texts. I don't think he knew why himself, because he changed the subject very quickly and skillfully, and before I knew it, I was explaining why both Nancy and I were wearing ankhs.

Nancy very pointedly threw out all the pamphlets Isis/Tasha gave her, and announced that she had no intention of calling that little flake again.

Nancy's words, not mine, although I wish I had thought of them.

Yomiko objected, horrified, that she had to call the girl back; it would be really mean to just let her wait by the phone. And anyway, she added decidedly, Nancy couldn't just keep that necklace if she wasn't going to call.

At this point, Nancy asked if I wanted to come with her in the dead of night some time to slip the things into the girl's mailbox and run away. Mr. Joker suggested we include some books on witchcraft as conceived by the important names in the subject.

The rest of the day is barely worth mentioning, and certainly not in any detail, although a few of the book-nappers tried to run and Yomiko had to catch them in a giant paper spider web, which attracted a lot of awe from passers-by. It attracted much less attention when I managed to accidentally detain two others by tripping over things and landing on them.

That aside, Drake wanted us to know that it is "not his lucky day".

Am by now fairly certain that whatever deity promised that Drake would have a lucky day sometime was simply toying with him.

We hunted down three multi-volume sets on the history of various parts of the world, five books on military strategy (thankfully only one of which ended up having been loaned through unknown means to a teenage boy who planned to avoid everyone else's mistakes and do world domination right­), and we've a legendary cookbook to start searching for tomorrow.

Mr. Joker won't be coming with us, as he has gotten over his cabin fever as soon as he realized exactly why everyone grumbles when they're being sent out on trainer missions.

He didn't say that, of course; he claimed that he thought my training was coming along nicely and that Yomiko, Nancy, and Drake could handle it from here on out (poor things), but we all know the truth.

I'm going to ask him (the next time I actually get to do my real job and stay in the Library for more than ten seconds – goodness, I never thought I'd herald that day with such joy!) if he still thinks that the people who spend all day, every day, at overdue collection are the ones who have it the easiest and just don't know how lucky they are.

I fully anticipate being either very Frowned At, which must be capitalized to express just how Frowned At I shall be, or being promptly be sent off to fetch tea.

And with that, dear diary, I shall be off to reorganize my bookshelf in my Special New Way.

I had planned to do it last night, but before I could begin, Mr. Joker rang me up, and I was certainly not going to tell him I was too busy reorganizing a bookshelf or doing anything else to talk!

He was curious over a note Mr. Mulder had sent him, tucked into the paperback Miss Scully had lent Yomiko.

I hope Mr. Mulder dies a horrible death. Or at least, that he never gets his dry cleaning back.

The note was a letter of congratulations on Mr. Joker's inevitable marriage to his cute little secretary.

I finally convinced him that I hadn't told Mr. Mulder anything of the sort, the process of which was no more traumatic than one might expect.

This didn't take so very long, since Mr. Joker is very reasonable (for a man), but after it, I happened to off-handedly mention the date I didn't actually have in Yellowknife, and Mr. Joker seemed quite interested, and wanted to know if "those awful lumberjacks they have up there" know how to treat a girl.

I think he might have been a little miffed.

Giggle-giggle-blush-blush.

Right, then! Off to the bookshelf!

Your faithful servant,

Wendy.


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Dear Diary,

Sometimes Fate smiles down upon the unlucky, after all.

Sometimes a small shred of good luck finds its way into all the bad that seems to pelt you from all sides.

In short, sometimes the world doesn’t maliciously bite you in the arse every time you look at it funny.

You see, for our next mission, we are required to meet with a few people in Paris! Joy! Rapture!

Florida was good, staying home was better, but Paris is utterly fantastic! Of course it isn’t very far, but I, the utterly “untravelled” little creature that I am, have never been. It’s one of those things that I never really thought of doing – I’m not much of a traveler, and tend to complain and whine until I get home again, believe it or not – but as soon as it was mentioned, it seemed like a wonderful idea, and has continued to seem more and more wonderful, until I have worked myself into quite a state of rapture over it.

Yes, I am very aware that this sort of thing invariably leads to disappointment.

We are all currently in the helicopter, on our way there, and thus I am being very careful to keep my giddy joy to myself, as both Nancy and Drake took it very coolly, and Yomiko said that if they had books there, it was okay with her, she guessed.

I don’t want to seem some silly amateur by getting so excited over traveling somewhere, for the purposes of a mission, that I have always wanted to see (even if it will be very quickly, while in pursuit of a book-napping madman).

I have plenty of other ways to seem some silly amateur.

Oh, glorious, happy, joyous day! I can’t even bring myself to mind Benny’s Greatest of Elvis marathon today! I might even start singing along!


Drake, however, will not, or so I suspect. Nancy likewise seems to be quite well able to bring herself to mind the marathon, and so does Yomiko, which came as no small shock.

I can quite honestly claim that I have seen Yomiko Readman threaten someone’s life now!

Of course, no one will believe me without a video tape. And not only this, I am fairly certain that if she had followed through and hurled Benny from the helicopter, she would have regretted it and caught him at the last minute with that book she’s reading.


Yomiko is so sweet.

Rest assured, I would not change my mind and save Benny’s life with my superpower.

Not that it could do anything so useful as that, but rest assured, if it could, I would not klutz Benny back to safety after throwing him out of a helicopter.

Except today, when I am possessed of a great love of everyone and everything on the planet, because I get to see a glimpse of Paris on our way through it very quickly!

Drake is currently glaring at me.

I must be writing too exuberantly, so I shall tuck this dear volume of my innermost thoughts and feelings away in my bag…after a little bit of rambling to prolong the process of doing so and thus to annoy Drake just that little bit more.

Oh, very well; so my giddy joy hasn’t turned me into any nicer a person.

----------------------------------------------------------------

It is now an hour later, and following another threat to hurl my diary from the window, Yomiko again surprised us all by looking up suddenly from her book and asking why Drake hated diaries so much anyway.

Drake sighed, looking frightfully solemn and just a wee bit melodramatic, and motioned for us to gather around (which we had been anyway, as there is not much room to spread out in the back of a helicopter).

He told us it was a tale of woe, going back many ages.

Nancy and Yomiko looked at each other skeptically, although Yomiko made more of an effort to be nice about it.

“Really,” Nancy said rather flatly.

Drake glared, then crossed his arms and pouted, and then admitted that fine, it was a tale of weirdness and vague stupidity going back about twenty-six years.

Apparently, it all began with a diary of his own from his childhood.


He was given it one Christmas by an eccentric elderly aunt (a damn psycho old woman, to use his slightly blunter wording), who apparently was in as much ignorance as I previously was of the fact that “guys do not keep diaries.”

It was a lovely book, bound in black leather, and clearly labeled as a diary by gold cursive lettering on the front.

Of course, I’ve had to glean this description from the details that Drake gave men, and I may have imagined it to be slightly grander than it really was, but it is all in the interest of making the story more interesting, so I may be forgiven.

At any rate, it must have been fairly nice, because two hours after tossing it carelessly into his closet and playing with his action figures again (which I giggled at until Drake glared at me and reminded me that he was seven at the time, and wasn’t sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing with action figures as he is now) he went and rescued it, and began writing, although he still can’t figure out what made him do it.

He spent a good deal of time ranting about how dumb it was to keep a diary, and how only dumb girls did it. So deeply engrossed was he in his ranting that it took him two pages to notice that the words were fading as soon as he wrote them.

However, before he could react to this with too much shock or fear, he told us, new words began forming on the page, where his had been, and he didn’t want to interrupt his diary by having a panic attack and thus risk missing something important.

Such a sensible lad Drake was, even at seven years old!

He also didn’t panic once he read what the diary had written, because he was too busy being annoyed.

I can’t say I blame him; I would be awfully annoyed, too, if my diary said, “Gripe, gripe, gripe. You’re a bloody little whiner, you know that?”

Hint-hint.

Please don’t ever do that, alright, diary dear?

If you do, I’ll throw you at Drake and laugh wickedly as he runs away screaming like a girl.

Well, when Drake’s diary called him a little whiner, he did not throw it at himself or at anyone else. Instead, being seven years old, he snatched up his pen and scribbled under the words, “Gripe, gripe, gripe. You’re a bloody little whiner, you know that?”

Mimicry: marvel at the maturity.

Apparently, it took the required effect of severely annoying the diary, which shot back some rather nasty things that I feel no need to repeat here, and that Drake mimicked back straightaway.

Then the diary sighed – or rather, it wrote “Sigh” – and told Drake that its name was Tom Something-or-Other Riddle, and asked how good Drake was with unscrambling scrambled words.

Drake wrote back that he wasn’t so good at it, and that he didn’t like doing it, either, so he was going to play with his cars.

He told us that as he closed the diary, a lot of very frantic words began forming on the page, commanding and then entreating him not to go.

Nothing daunted, Drake shut the diary and began driving his toy cars around on the floor (which made me giggle again, which in turn earned me another glare).

Then, just as he had begun to stage a seven-car pile-up, complete with flipping and exploding vehicles and blood everywhere (men), he heard an odd sort of growl from his desk. Then he looked up, just in time to see the diary hopping off his desk and toward him, still growling, and baring rows of sharp teeth.

Then he dropped his car crash and ran away screaming.

Naturally, when he gasped out an account of what had just happened to his mother, he was not believed any more than one might expect. Parents never believe their children about the very important things, do they? Your diary up and attacking, the gnome underneath your bed who was really the one who pulled all of your toys out of your toy box, the fairies living out in the garden who were actually the ones that pinched your aggravating, rich little braggart of a cousin and made him cry even though he claims that it was you who did it…Perhaps there are good reasons that parents don’t believe children about these stories.

Apparently, Nancy doesn’t believe these stories any more than the average parent does. She asked, biting back a laugh, if Drake was absolutely certain that the diary had attacked him. Maybe it had only wanted to play, and baring its teeth was a sign of that.


From here, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask if he was certain the diary had had teeth at all, and if he was really sure it had been snapping at him; maybe the wind had just been blowing it open and shut?

By now apparently quite enjoying herself and this impromptu torment of Drake, Nancy took things one step further and asked if Drake was sure the diary had been moving at all; maybe it had just been sitting there and he needed help.

Drake was about to reply angrily, when Yomiko added with adorably sweet seriousness that a book would never try to hurt someone that way.

Benny called back at that point that he wasn’t so sure; he’d gotten some nasty paper cuts in his life, after all.

Yomiko replied, just a touch of impatience creeping into her voice, that maybe Benny simply didn’t know how to treat a book.

At this point, Drake pointedly continued his tale, his tone implying that he no longer cared if his audience was listening or not, because he was going on anyway.

Upon discovering the bitter truth that his mother would be no help to him, Drake made his way back to his bedroom, snatched up the diary with a pair of long, sturdy tongs, and carried it into the kitchen, where he proceeded to take a carving knife to it, much to the bewilderment of his father, who was in the process of preparing the Christmas turkey.

As Mr. Anderson went to inform Mrs. Anderson that their son had lost his small mind at long last, the bits of diary scattered about the kitchen rallied and – Drake says – glared at him, before attacking.

I think someone left a window open, and when it stirred the bits of paper, Drake, the little monkey, went mad from terror.

Silly boy.

Of course, no girl would ever panic over something so silly.

Either way, he may have lost his head, but he lost it to good purpose. He ran to the front hall closet, hauled out the vacuum cleaner and…well, I’m sure you can guess the rest. Little tiny bits of Tom Something, Evil Incarnate in the Form of a Diary, went shooting up into the vacuum hose, and all was sunshine again.

Until, of course, Drake’s aunt came in to find the cover of the very nice diary she had given him, mangled and torn, and the pages conspicuously missing.

Then there was a scolding of epic proportions.

From his tone while telling of it, though, I hardly think Drake minded, and this would only make sense; after all, he had just escaped the clutches of a violent, psychopathic diary (one of the silliest phrases I’ve heard in a long while – right up there with the “legendary cookbook” we are on our way to seek). I certainly wouldn’t have been miffed at being scolded about decimating my Christmas presents. I would have been thanking my lucky stars I was still alive.

It would be horribly embarrassing to have on your tombstone, “Shuffled off this mortal coil at the hands – or pages, rather – of a diary.”

And thus ends the tale of why Drake had a little hissy-fit every time I pulled out this little coil notebook confidante of mine.

Speaking of Drake and his little hissy-fits, he is currently having one, and thus I shall find something else to do for the remainder of the trip.

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Very curious.

We have just met with one of the men that we were told would have information on Artemis G. Bone, the man who was loaned the legendary cookbook that makes such a very strange and silly phrase.

He gave his name as Agent Smith, and we nearly missed him on our first glance around! He apparently blends in very well. Of course, his plain black suit, sunglasses, and utterly nondescript face could help with that, considering that we were meeting him in a café that seems to be a big haunt among business men on business lunches, particularly over lunch hour, which is when we were there, being that the trip here took all of a few hours.

Really, I don’t understand why we’re still using the helicopter instead of just bloody driving or something. Actually, that isn’t true; Nancy explained, after Drake disdained to reply to my burning question that I was really rather indifferent to, that it was because we might have to buzz merrily off to Somewhere Else on very short notice, and that Somewhere Else likely wouldn’t be within driving distance.

But back to our new friend, Agent Smith.

The only distinguishing feature about him was the little transmitter in his ear.

Apparently, he and Drake are old friends, because he basically ignored Nancy, Yomiko, and I (which may happen to me a lot, but doesn’t happen so much to Yomiko, and definitely doesn’t happen much to Nancy where men are concerned), and walked up to Drake.

When he was less than five centimeters from the poor man, he sort of half-smiled and half-smirked, and said,

“It’s good to see you again, Mr. Anderson.”

Even more curious, that was when a high-energy techno music that you could just picture a very slow-motion battle scene being set to began to play.

Then it stopped long enough for Drake to say,

“Uh, yeah.”

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

Again, the music, sounding oddly like something that Enigma might have written, kicked in for a brief moment before falling silent in time to not interrupt Drake’s reply of,

“Yeah; a long time.”

“A pity, isn’t it, that old friends must lose touch?”

Once again, the music had its moment to play merrily away.

This time, Drake glared at the world in general and requested, not terribly politely, that they “knock it off, already.”

The music fell silent, for good this time, and we all took our seats and ordered coffee and (in Drake’s and my cases) something unnecessarily gooey and sugar-filled.

Long story short, Agent Smith told us of (giggle) Mr. Bone’s past history as a renowned pasty chef that we have all nevertheless managed to never, ever have heard of.

I asked exactly how this could be, and Agent Smith replied, adjusting his ear piece, that this confused him, too, but he assumed it was because the average person didn’t exactly follow the culinary world.

I suppose this is a point, although you’d think a famous anything with a name like Bone would become well-known to the general public just for the sheer novelty.

Yomiko asked, at this point, if Agent Smith knew exactly where Mr. Bone was to be found, and said that we should probably go to talk to him as soon as possible.

After we all stared at her with expectant grins for a moment (even Agent Smith, who I think was only copying the rest of us), she said sheepishly that she had spotted a bookstore on our way from where we landed that she’d like to go take a look at.

Nancy murmured something about the silliness of spending your free time in the widely-agreed-upon most romantic city on earth in a bookstore, and then wondered aloud why it did seem like such a romantic thing to do.

Agent Smith looked a little floored at this, and at the mushy smiles our two ever-so-adorable-and-aggravating lovebirds proceeded to give one another before they remembered with a good deal of horrified embarrassment that he was there, but then he seemed to shake himself off and decide that it was high time to get back to Important Things.

He told us grimly that finding Mr. Bone might not be as easy as we had hoped, as Mr. Bone was very anxious not to be found.

Drake shrugged and said that the gym teacher had been anxious not to be found, but none of us had faced anything more difficult than teaching a gym class.

Here, Nancy and Yomiko and I all hotly reminded him that while he had the easy job of playing football, we had nearly drowned in a snow bank.

He said coolly that it wasn’t his fault that none of us knew how to walk.

Nancy said that she would like to see him try it with feet approximately three feet long and made out of wood.

Agent Smith muttered that he would like to see that, too, but I don’t think I was supposed to hear him, so I didn’t laugh.

Then, just in time to head off a fight that I frankly would have liked to see develop (I would have put my bets on a victory for Nancy, by the way), Yomiko hastily asked Agent Smith why Mr. Bone would be so difficult to locate.

Looking as relieved that we had finally found our way back to business as an utterly deadpan expression would allow, Agent Smith replied that they suspected (he didn’t stop to explain who “they” were) that Mr. Bone was developing a nefarious plot, and that the book was somehow involved.

Drake demanded grumpily why every nefarious plot nowadays seemed to involve a book. After all, he said, in the age of computers, they ought to involve the Internet or something.

Nancy asked, with a raised eyebrow, if Drake had ever actually been on the Internet – she personally had seen plenty of nefarious plots involved therein.

Oh, alright, so she didn’t say ‘therein’. Let me have my poetic touches, would you please?

Yomiko, once again forced into the role of the sensible one now that she had finished reading the book in her pocket, the one in her other pocket, the four in her coat, and the emergency back-up book that she thinks no one knows about, tucked into the holster at about her knee, asked Agent Smith if they knew anything about exactly what the plot was, or how the book was involved.

Agent Smith replied a little snippily that he had been in the process of looking into that, but that he’d had to take time off to come and talk to us.

I told him just as snippily that it certainly wouldn’t have broken my heart if he hadn’t bothered, and Drake told me to just stop talking right now.


Agent Smith just smiled, though – an admittedly rather scary smile – and said that he had, in fact, been sent to find us so that he could take us back to their headquarters, just so we would be informed immediately if they had found anything out.

And thus, we are on our way there right now, in the back of a very nice car.

At least, Nancy and Yomiko and I are in the back.

Agent Smith, who is driving, is very luckily up front.

Equally luckily, so is Drake, who is once again threatening my diary with certain being-thrown-through-the-air if I don’t put it away very, very soon.

Have just had a good deal of fun making it “growl” and “snap” at Drake.

Nancy is snickering, Yomiko is looking horrified at the idea of a book being so mean, Drake is making a sound somewhere between an outraged bellow and a frightened whimper, and Agent Smith is looking quite as though he wished he had never seen any of these loonies from the British Library.

I think we’re a very nice group of loonies, personally.

Quite the nicest loonies out there.

Or at least, in this car, at the moment.

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Very curious, indeed.

We arrived some time ago at Agent Smith’s referred-to headquarters, and I am fairly certain that there is a bad movie in here somewhere.

You see, everyone working here looks exactly like our new friend, down to the nondescript black suits, sunglasses, and ear-pieces.

Even their faces looked exactly alike.

And they all gave their name as Agent Smith!

As soon as we got inside, they all surrounded Drake, and each took their turn saying,

“Good day, Mr. Anderson.”

Then they formed two rows on either side, with Drake and one of the Agent Smiths in the middle, advancing on each other in very slow motion, amid the rain that rather unexpectedly started up – indoors – to the sound of a very ominous choral piece in something that sounded vaguely like Sanskrit.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me wish I had just gone into a normal career. Like that of a circus acrobat.

Of course, in addition to the obvious problems of someone possessing supernatural klutziness being an acrobat, then I wouldn’t have met Mr. Joker, unless he spends a lot of time with random circus acrobats, the mere idea of which makes me so angry that I would like to pick up the Agent Smith that just happened by and start randomly bludgeoning other Agent Smiths with him.

I don’t know why the thought of Mr. Joker finding happiness with several circus acrobats makes me want to deal severe pain to Agent Smith, Agent Smith, Agent Smith, and so forth, but a woman scorned, even if it’s only in her imagination, doesn’t have to be rational if she doesn’t want to! Humph!

At any rate, after the fight scene that didn’t really ever develop, three of the Agent Smiths took us aside and told us that they hadn’t found out very much about Mr. Bone’s Nefarious Plot (which honestly sounds like a children’s storybook with a lot of talking animals for main characters), but that they were in the process of tracking him.

He had apparently last been seen in Japan, where he has given a seminar to a group of young aspiring chefs that we will be going to speak with.

Oh, bother these nefarious quasi-villains who can’t stay in one place for more than ten minutes!

Well, I suppose it’s time to bid Agent Smith, Agent Smith, Agent Smith, and so forth a sad (hah!) farewell and load back into the helicopter.

Ugh.

I’m just not ready to face Benny again quite yet. And now I don’t even have my giddy joy to protect me from the horror of Elvis!

But what must be done, must be done.

And I never even got to see anything worth mentioning of Paris! Only a café, a lot of men that looked exactly alike, and the inside of their secret (or possibly not-so-secret; I wouldn’t know) headquarters!

Grumble.

Your faithful servant,

Wendy.


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Dear Diary,

I am in a considerably better mood this morning than I was yesterday, as following the revelation that we would be chasing off to Japan after Mr. Bone the Nefarious Chef, we were also told that they had no further information as to exactly where in Japan he would be, and thus that they needed to do a wee bit more checking up before we went after him.

Not only this, Agent Smith (one or another of them) added, but we would have to get in contact with the Library to let them know that this “simple trainer mission” had finally turned out to be something a lot more sinister.

Oh, I do wonder if this means that Mr. Joker will order me home right away so that I don’t accidentally make a mess of something important this time!

One can always hope.

Just as one can always hope that his reasons for ordering me home might actually have something to do with concern for my safety along with concern for the success of the mission.

Still, I was explaining why this delay has put me in a good mood.

Well, it is fairly obvious, I should say.

We’re all of us feeling a little more clear-headed.

Drake got to go look for something nice for his daughter, Agent Smith got to get away from all these crazies for a while, and Nancy and Yomiko got to have their alone-time.

Albeit, it was in a bookstore, but they seem to have enjoyed it quite a lot anyway, particularly Yomiko, who has managed to amass quite a stack of purchases.

When I remarked that she would have something to read in the helicopter now, she replied sadly that no, she’d already read them. On the way from the hotel room, Nancy clarified.

As for what I did on our free time…

Hee-hee-hee

This time, when I tell Mr. Joker the story about the nice-looking young man I had a date with, it’ll be true!

At least, a little more true.

It might not have been a date as such – we just started talking (or rather, he started talking and I started nodding hazily while staring up at him in innocent admiration – innocent adoration is reserved only for Mr. Joker) at the bar in a nice little restaurant, where we both just happened to be – but we did spend the evening together, and it was surprisingly enjoyable, considering I couldn’t understand half of what he said, thus proving that I didn’t absorb nearly so much out of my years of taking French in school as I had prided myself on.

Still, not understanding more than half of what my date said is not a new experience. It happened all the time in high school. This time it was simply the result of his speaking a different language, instead of his rambling on about hobbits, or Star Trek, or the new green tights and cap he was going to buy himself when he had the cash (yes, Peter was a strange boy).

And I must say, nearly as much fun as imagining Mr. Joker having a fairly strong reaction (even narrowing his eyes or something!) to my having a date (of sorts) was the young man (Claude, I think, although he could have simply been calling me a clod after I walked into the fourth door frame we came across) walking me back to the hotel and giving me a goodnight kiss under the watchful and curious eyes of the others, who had returned from their various rambles through Paris.

Thankfully, no one asked any questions; I didn’t exactly fancy the idea of explaining to them that I’d been basically embarking upon a childish quest to make my boss jealous.

At any rate, we all had a nice night’s sleep, even Yomiko and Nancy, once they got through…er, pillow-fighting.

Thankfully, the room that was assigned to Drake and I had two beds, so I didn’t need to worry about waking up in the hotel swimming pool after accidentally cuddling him in my sleep.

And Benny was blessedly elsewhere, visiting old college friends (of his father’s, of course, as he hasn’t even reached college himself, I would wager), so the entire situation was a lot less irritating than it could have been.

One has to look on the bright side, you know.

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Well, this is, as the silly little colloquialism goes, a fine kettle of fish.

We have just been contacted by Mr. Joker, who has been doing a little research on Artemis G. Bone since yesterday.

After fifteen years of extensive schooling and training under some of the world’s most celebrated chefs (do I sense some far-too- influential relatives in the man’s family, I wonder?), he took his first steps toward independence in opening his own restaurant.

Some sort of fusion of several different styles of cuisine, all thrown together into a crock pot, and drunk through a straw – beyond that, no one could find out the particulars, for which I am rather grateful, as an appetite is a good thing to have every now and again, and I have a feeling that to hear the aforementioned particulars could have frightened it away for quite some time.

Naturally, it was an utter failure, and the man was effectively shunned by the Wide World of Food.

Equally naturally, instead of simply finding a new hobby, Mr. Bone decided that those who had criticized him were responsible, not only for his hurt little feelings, but for everything else that had ever gone wrong in his life.

From here, it was a logical step (to him, at any rate) to attempt to kill each of the restaurant reviewers in an ironic and utterly silly manner.

Thus was Mr. Bone sentenced to twenty years in prison for the attempted murder of several important New York journalists with a wooden spoon, a cheese grater, and a wide assortment of vegetables.

I might have made up the vegetables; I’ve forgotten.

After his prison sentence, which ended approximately ten years ago, he was given extensive therapy – ten years of it, at which time it was simply assumed that he was effectively cured (he told them so, after all), and was therefore released.

Sigh.

Fairly clearly, the doctors were wrong.

Sigh again.

Nancy asked Mr. Joker if I should be sent home in case the situation became dangerous and, I added, before I broke something important.

Mr. Joker replied that this would not be necessary just yet – we would play it by ear.

I loathe those who speak in metaphor.

At least, when they’re using metaphor to tell me things I don’t particularly want to hear.

Also, we have just been informed by Agent Smith (which Agent Smith this one is, is anybody’s guess) that we shall be accompanied on the remainder of this mission by a colleague of his.

This colleague, as we found out when we met him for the first time this morning as he climbed into the helicopter and proceeded to nearly squish me into the wall by taking up much more of the seat than he could have possibly needed to, is known as Agent Rock.

When Agent Smith told us this, he, Agent Rock, muttered that that sounded stupid, and that in his last career, he got to just be “The Rock”.

Yomiko shot him a look of wide-eyed sympathy, and confessed that she missed the days when she was allowed to be known as simply “The Paper”.

At this point, I felt it my civic duty to speak up and inform everyone that if the next person to join the team was “The Scissors”, I was going home.

However, as Agent Smith informed me in complete seriousness before promptly leaving, Agent Scissors would not be joining us, because he is on vacation this week.

Bother.

I had hoped that I would have an excuse to turn and head for home handed to me, but sadly, it was not to be. That’s the second one that’s fallen through in the last ten minutes!

Nancy asked at this point exactly what Agent Rock’s superpower was.

He looked at her rather oddly for a moment, and she asked, surprised, if he didn’t have one.

He sort of grinned and told her that sure, he did. His “superpower”, he said, was to lay the “smack down” on people, and refer to himself in the third person as he did so.

Goodness! I may be still nursing my bruised ego over having the superpower of klutzing to death all those who would harm me, but at least mine isn’t so…strange. Honestly, anyone could go around smacking people, if they really wanted to. It doesn’t seem like much of a superpower to me. Perhaps it’s simply that he is able to get away with it that is remarkable?

As for referring to himself in the third person, no comment.

Aside from that one.

However, Drake apparently saw nothing at all lacking in this description, as his eyes grew immediately shiny and adoring (which was so utterly cute that I almost gave the idea of falling madly in love with him some new consideration), and he asked if Agent Rock had, at one time, been a professional wrestler, because he thought he’d looked kind of familiar.

I think Drake is mistaken – he must have seen Agent Rock in that movie, “The Scorpion King”. At least, I’m fairly sure that was him. It looks awfully like him, at any rate.

Apparently, we were both mistaken, because Agent Rock acquired this very nervous expression and said that of course he had never been a professional wrestler – and he even made it a point to read my mind and tell us all that he had also never starred in “The Scorpion King”, or “The Mummy Returns”, or any other movie with scorpions or mummies, or even daddies in it – and to shut up about it before we all got banned.

I wish I knew what that was supposed to mean.

Ah, well, I’ve given up trying to decipher the meaningless ramblings of this fine group I’m traveling with.

I believe I’ll drift blissfully back into my daydreams of Mr. Joker again.

Happy sigh…

Have just been given quite a rude awakening by Agent Rock, who has informed me that I was beginning to blush and drool a little, and asked with a coarse and rather unnecessarily loud laugh, who the lucky guy was.

Nancy, Drake, Benny, and Yomiko are all pretending not to have heard, looking slightly green.

At least, Nancy and Drake and Benny are.

Yomiko managed to make a quick trip into a bookstore on the way while Drake stopped to throw out a gum wrapper, so she probably actually didn’t hear.

Yes, she’s now fully stocked for the ride to Tokyo.

Or at least, for the first twenty minutes of it.

After all, she only managed to buy fifteen books before Drake called to her to hurry it up in there.

And one of the books was a Tom Clancy novel that she said, wrinkling her nose, she must’ve grabbed by accident. At least, she has just added, she can use the paper.

Agent Rock, who apparently knows nothing of this group, has just asked, looking a wee bit nauseous, what she plans to use the paper for, and has advised that she carry a roll of toilet tissue with her in her purse from now on, just in case.

And this has brought all conversation to a screeching halt, as no one seems to be in a hurry to dignify this with an answer, or even with an explanation.

Currently far too quiet within this helicopter that we like to call…well, a helicopter.

Benny has, of course, just decided to break the silence with his rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon”.

I pointed out stonily that that wasn’t Elvis, at which point Benny gave us all a scare by turning around, and thus away from the controls, giving me a strange look, and saying that he knew that of course, but so what? What did Elvis have to do with anything?

Drake pointed out a little edgily that we’d all be as dead as Elvis if Benny didn’t watch the damn controls, and Agent Rock protested hotly that Elvis was not dead – he’d seen him in a pita just the other day!

Nancy pointed out that if Elvis had been in Agent Rock’s pita, which Agent Rock had then eaten, he was probably dead now, one way or the other.

I really wish my mind worked as quickly as Nancy’s. It would make the construction of smart-arse comments so much easier.

Which might get me a lot more beaten up. Of course Nancy can handle it, but unless I trip and land on the person trying, I cannot.

Thus, perhaps it is best that I remain the dim but cute little thing I currently am.

At least, until I have a good, compelling reason to change.

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Am now in a nice little hotel room in Tokyo, which seems all the nicer that I am sharing it with neither Benny nor Drake, who are sharing a different room.

It is much later: 11:56 p.m. if one believes my watch, which is a bad thing to do, taking into account the difference in time zones.

We are basically only here to drop off everything that needs to be dropped off, before we pile into a rental car and race off to interview some of the group of young people that Mr. Bone gave his seminar to, as well as some of the faculty of the school through which the seminar was held.

If they hired him to influence the impressionable minds of people who probably aren’t that much younger than me now that I think about it, either they didn’t know about his time in prison (which seems a little unlikely, unless they’re simply exceptionally sloppy), or they consider him such a visionary that they didn’t care (which seems incredibly unlikely, unless they’re exceptionally stupid).

Either that, or it’s a plot involving the university, to indoctrinate those students to be his little ladle-wielding minions!

Hmm…I think I might be a little over-tired. This honestly seems plausible right now.

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It is now three minutes later, and I am cursing the tendency of the universe to point and laugh maliciously at me.

You see, although I shall not be sharing a room with Benny or with Drake, I will be sharing one with Agent Rock.

Grumble.

Ah, well. Agent Rock has just told me that Drake is waiting downstairs for all of us, and I can imagine that he’ll start leaning on the horn if we don’t hurry.

Oh, very well. To be fair, he’ll probably do nothing of the sort. I’m simply in a rather jaundiced frame of mind at the moment.

And on that note, dear diary, farewell until we can get back here, get some proper sleep, and I can once again think coherently.

Your faithful servant,

Wendy.


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