Sorry for the ridiculously long wait my dear Unsuspecting Victims, but Boredom wasn't being nice!!
man, this is great! now i have someone to blame for when i'm being lazy and cant write a chapter wuick enough! of course, that someone is perfectly willing to zapp my face off if she feels like it... anyway, please, R&R!! (Read and Review)
“Hey! That's my couch!”
Sarah practically flew to said couch when she and Michael suddenly appeared back at the house. After being told that there was an infinite amount of Universe where the fandoms created by authors and artists actually existed and that she was being recruited by an inter-dimensional bureau to get rid of the dreaded Mary Sues, all she wanted was to lay on her couch with a cup of hot coffee and relax. Something the Michael seemed hell-bent on preventing.
“You know, you still have to turn in your papers...”
Sarah's eyes flew open and the pillow she was hugging dropped from her arms and onto the floor. She scampered up to a siting position and turned around, trying to get a better look at the clock situated behind the couch.
Upon seeing “8:25” fixed on the read out, she jumped off the couch and almost crashed into the low lying coffee table sitting in front of it. Michael just stepped out of the way as Sarah ran back into the bedroom, back into the living room, into the kitchen, and repeated the cycle four times. In the middle of one of Sarah's transitions, he reached out and grabbed her arm, almost knocking them both over in the process.
“I believe your pages are right there.” He said, pointing to the coffee table, and low and behold, there they were. Sitting right there in their yellow file folder.
“OhthankGod...” Too rushed to feel anger towards Michael for not telling her earlier, she scooped up the folder, flipped through the papers to make sure they were still there, and sprinted into the kitchen. Michael just craned his head to follow her movements, and watched her grab some keys resting on the kitchen counter, and disappear out the door.
After waiting a few moments to make sure Sarah wasn't going to be returning suddenly, he slowly walked into the kitchen and helped himself to the pantry.
Sarah drove like a mad man to the office building, the folder sitting in her lap. After running three red lights and promising to tithe this months entire paycheck, she arrived at her destination.
She jumped out of the car and, as an after thought, locked it. She then tore through the parking lot and through the front doors. After a run-by hello to the woman at the front desk, she sprinted to the elevator and mashed the “up” button until the elevator doors finally opened.
Jumping inside the luckily empty elevator, she quickly pressed the button for the seventh floor, aka, her boss's office.
Now came the hardest part: waiting.
The elevator ride always seemed twice as long on her due dates, and it was always here when she realized that she had forgotten her make-up, or to do her hair, and on occasion, grab the papers. After checking to make sure she still had the folder under her arm about seven times, the elevator pinged and the doors slowly opened to a room that rivaled the Bureau's office floor in noise and chaos.
Sarah stepped out of the elevator and quickly made her way across the room and to the far side --checking cubicles along the way for fawns and what not, just in case-- where her boss's office lay. She sent up a silent prayer for mercy, and continued her way towards the door.
When she made it, she just held her hand up there for a second, not sure if she really wanted to have this confrontation or not. Her decision was made for her the door opened, revealing the editor, her boss.
“Hmph. You're late.”
Sarah's only response was an eeped out, “Mr. Harrison!” Other than that, she just stood there, complete and utter shock written all over her face.
“You gonna come in or what?”
The older man stepped out of the door way, allowing Sarah to step inside. Sarah, still thinking that he was going to beat her to death with a desk lamp, slowly complied.
And back at the house...
Michael had just finished going through the pantry and, after finding nothing of interest, opened up the oven door.
“Hello hello... I don't think Sarah will be back in time to really enjoy this...”
And so, without a trace of guilt, Michael took out the trey containing Sarah's breakfast, and got to work.
“Thank you Father God...” Sarah felt like she was just going to collapse then and there.
Her boss, Mr. Harrison, chewed her out for being late to work, but luckily, never asked her where she had been. Which was a good thing in and of itself, because Sarah knew that she couldn't lie --and not have it be completely and utterly obvious-- to save her soul. Never could, and probably never would.
After the initial relief of not being strangled with his tie or killed in a some form or fashion, he then told her that she was not fired. Anyone could have told Sarah that she wouldn't be, but still. Mr. Harrison was not by any stretch of the imagination a kind or reasonable man. He fired two of his secretaries already for not bringing him the right brand of cigars.
Once Mr. Harrison had accepted her latest installment in her comic series and dismissed her, she left the office and nearly collapsed on the ground right in front of the door. She might have even, if the man who coloured her pages hadn't walked up to her.
“Man, Sarah... you look awful.”
Sarah gave him such a weary look that only served to convince him even more. It seemed like all the events that had just happened to her were finally sinking in. And that just made her miss her couch even more.
“Sorry, Jamie. I do look like crap don't I?”
Jamie smiled, a smile that made all of the female assistants giggle. Jamie was the “pretty boy” of the team, with his gorgeous blue eyes and short blond hair. He was also the youngest, of the guys at least. A point of envy among many.
“Yeah, you do. Did you get any sleep last night? I know you pull some crazy all-nighters, but this is getting ridiculous!”
“Hopefully she and her man were getting their thing on--”
“Renee!” Sarah blushed furiously, her fatigue temporarily forgotten.
Renee had a habit of being very blunt. She never lied to anyone, always opting to tell it how it was rather than bother with pleasantries. While she didn't work with Sarah directly, they talked a lot and knew each other very well. But then again, Renee probably knew everyone very well. Renee was very friendly, and you couldn't help but like her.
And unlike all the other female workers, she never fell to Jamie's gorgeous eyes. Usually one look was all it would take, and the women were practically throwing their phone numbers at him. But try as he might, he could never get so much as a second glance from her. Renee didn't seem to give much interest to any of the guys who worked at the offices, and the guys tried very hard to get her to notice. She was black, and extremely pretty.
Jamie and Renee were really close friends, that much Sarah could tell; and for all she knew, Renee was playing hard-to-get just to get on Jamie's nerves.
Wouldn't put it past her... Sarah smiled to herself, a smile that thankfully went unnoticed by Jamie or Renee.
“You really should take today off or something.”
And surprisingly enough, Sarah didn't argue. “I think you're right...”
Renee gave her a surprised look. “So you're telling me that you do have a life outside of work? You never leave early.”
“Yes, I do, and I'm going home.” Home. Just the thought of the word made her relax. And crave that nap on the couch so much more.
Jamie looked rather surprised, not used to Sarah actually taking their advice when it came to breaks. “Well, you just met your deadline, and me and the others need to finish up your papers, so I guess you could afford to leave early.”
“Are you kidding me? The poor girl needs to leave early. For the sake of doing it.”
Sarah flashed her a sarcastic smile but didn't say anything, “Anyway, see you guys on Monday. I am going home.”
Michael had just finished Sarah's breakfast, and found himself quite content. Too bad he didn't really have any time to savor the after taste of it, because at that moment, Sarah walked in through the door.
“What are you still doing here!?”
Michael looked up from the empty plate in surprise. “What are you doing back so early.” He said it more as a statement rather than a question.
Sarah just gave him a dark look, knowing that she'd see him again sometime very soon, and pointed to the open door. “Out.” Without waiting for a response, Sarah headed to the living room and flopped down onto the couch. She gave a loud, and very satisfied, sigh before kicking her shoes off to fall to the floor. She then grabbed one of the many small, red, square pillows, and rolled over onto her side and then preceded to squeeze the life out of it in a huge hug. Right after Sarah had finally gotten comfortable, and sleep and almost taken her, Michael somehow felt the need to ruin it.
“We still need to talk about your partner.”
Sarah gave a groan that was more of a whimper than anything.
“I have files on some agents who I think would cooperate very well with you and assure that you were kept safe while working on the missions.”
Sarah's self-pity quickly turned to anger though as Michael continued to talk.
Before Michael could start the next sentence, Sarah whirled around and threw the pillow she had previously been holding at him. She missed of course, but he got the point. Michael immediately stopped talking and stood up straighter.
“I'm sorry, you've had a lot thrown at you in one day--”
“--so I'll leave you alone for the time being.”
Smiling, and bowing his head slightly, Michael vanished from the room. After waiting for a few brief moments, Sarah collapsed back onto the couch. She was asleep before she even hit the pillow.
A/N: Thanks so much, liv! like with most of the stuff here, this story wouldn't have happened without you!! again, thank you!!
I KNOW this is a monster in length!! i know i know i know. I originally had it separated into two chapters, but you don't get an explanation as to what's going on until the second chapter. so i combined them so you would go ahead and get the explanation now.
please, PLEASE comment. i HATE begging for comments, believ me, but if you guys could bare through the monster length of this chapter and comment at the end, i would greatly appreciate it!! and it doesn't have to be anything fancy! just leave a comment!now, enough of my praddling, get to reading!!
The only thing breaking the silence was the rhythmic snoring of one tired woman. The woman in question was fast asleep, her folded arms acting as a pillow, the scraps of paper beneath them acting as sponges. Let's just say, that she was not a dignified sleeper.
Sarah McGraw was, though, what many would call “a starving artist”.
Sarah worked as a comic book artist for the local publishers, “Two Fold Comics”. In her defense, Sarah would insist she was an “almost starving artist”. This was partly true, if only for the fact she was married to a husband who worked as chef and owned a successful restaurant, Ian McGraw. And despite Sarah's light red-hair, and Irish-sounding last name, she was not Irish, or even Scottish for that matter. Well, her husband's insert-x-amount-of-greats grand parents were Irish immigrants... but so far as she went, most definitely not Irish.
The McGraw's combined income allowed for a modest living, they even had a nice house. She had contemplated having a child once, her husband eager at the idea, but even at the age of 31, she didn't quite feel she was ready.
Sarah stirred for a moment, but only for a moment.
Sarah had taken the pages she was working on from her office at the work building, to her work room at home. She always insisted that she worked better in the comfort of her own home, but this may have just been for that fact that she had practically unlimited amounts of coffee at her disposal here. The work room --or as her husband called it, “the Lair”-- was small, and located in the basement. She had one large desk which sat in the middle of the far-end wall, and was shaped like an “L”. The arm of the desk containing a small shelf full of reference material and a heated tray she had jerry rigged to keep her coffee hot for when she pulled all nighters.
It was here that she would lock herself and finish the last of the pages that she needed to complete. And after she finished her part, they needed to be approved and then handed off to the next person, who would ink, colour, and eventually publish them. The dead-line was, as usual, the next day.
Sarah shifted her arms in her sleep, accidentally knocking one of the five coffee mugs situated around her to the floor. It fell and shattered with a crash.
Sarah was immediately awake. Looking around the room rather spazztically, she glanced to the floor and noticed the shattered remains of her mug. After staring at it for a while, she finally connected the dots and relaxed. Sighing with relief, she held her hand to her chest in an effort to stop her racing heart. That is, until she glanced at the nearby clock and just about cried out in surprise.
“5:20? It can't be five twenty! I still have three pages to do!” Running a hand through her messily pulled back hair, she tried to get her bangs out of her face. She groaned and began banging her head on her desk repeatedly; hitting it enough to knock another mug to the floor. It as well, fell and shattered with a crash. Sarah just sat there for a moment; her head resting against the desk. Finally, she released a grunt and sat up slowly. Staring down at the papers strewn about her with a vacant expression, she thought about doing the work, and even picked up the pencil, but never actually got to work.
She was well known, and liked, around the offices, but what she was really known for was her OCD tendencies and slow work process. She did good work though, so when the editors were ready to tear her a new one, they usually took pity. But that was bound to last for only so long...
Sighing, she picked up her pencil with a bit more conviction and started scribbling the layout for the next page, whimpering about dead-lines all the way.
Sarah hadn't head her husband come in, but recognized the voice immediately. Without turning, she put down her pencil and leaned back into her chair. “Hey Ian...”
He walked up to the back of her chair and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, looking down at all the papers and scribbles covering the surface of her desk. Sarah placed her hand over his and glanced down at the two mugs on the floor, or what used to be two mugs. Ian, noticing the turn of her head, followed her gaze.
“Hm. I see those were your two good mugs.”
“Hmmm...” She looked up at Ian, her hand still resting over his. “What are you doing up?”
Ian just looked down at her with an amused/irritated expression. “I could ask you the same thing Ms. Lets-pull-an-all-nighter-for-the-fifth-night-in-a-row. Plus, I need to get to get to work early today, and it's almost six o'clock.”
Sarah groaned, her head flopping down to rest against her chest. She needed to get to work –with these finished pages-- by seven. I am so dead... she thought to herself, tired resentment ringing strong.
Ian just looked down at her with a sad smile, but he knew that she'd finish the pages on time, somehow.
He slipped his hand out from under hers and patted it gently, “I need to get ready now. Just thought I'd come down to check up on you.” he kissed her gently on the cheek and turned to leave, “I went ahead and fixed you breakfast, I put in the oven to keep it hot.” Before heading up the stairs, he added, “You'll finish the pages.”
Sarah turned around to face him and smiled, “Thanks, Ian.”
Ian returned the smile and went up the stairs.
Sarah took a deep breath and turned back around, hoping her new found conviction would get her through these pages. “Ok... let's get started.”
“Finally! Finished these stupid things...” Holding the completed pages, she gazed down at them rather fondly; glad that she had finally managed to finish the assignment. She reached down to open one of the drawers installed in the arm of the desk, and pulled out an empty folder. Opening it, she slipped her pages in and stood up, wincing as her back protested. Placing the folder on the desk, she placed her hands at the small of her back and stretched, immediately feeling better as she heard the audible pops of her spine righting itself.
She picked up the folder again, and placed it under her arm. She glanced over at the small digital clock, and nearly dropped her folder.
“What!? It can't possibly be 6:30!”
Running up the stairs, she nearly tripped as she entered the kitchen, but managed to catch herself before she broke some teeth. Slowly down only a bit, she grab the door frame for support as she swung around the corner, and sprinted through the living room and to her bedroom. Tossing the folder on the bed, she threw open her closet door and ran inside, pulling down the first thing that came to sight, a nice pair of jeans and a conforming short-sleeve shirt. Forgetting make-up entirely, she quickly undressed and slipped the new clothes on. Digging through her shoe rack, she picked out a brown pair of sandals. Turning, she sprinted out the room and back to the kitchen.
She opened the oven door, hoping to get a bite of breakfast, but realized her husband would've made a nice breakfast, aka, something she couldn't just wolf down in the car. Sighing at the thought of forsaking breakfast entirely, she closed the the oven door and looked at the clock built in with the oven, and nearly croaked. The read-out said 6: 52.
She then sprinted to the door, only to realize that she had forgotten the folder in the bedroom. Cursing herself, she ran out the kitchen and almost twisted her ankle.
For all her rushing though, she stopped dead in her tracks when she heard someone rustling through papers in the bedroom. Ian left already... Quietly panicking at the prospect of an intruder, she waited in silence for a moment, holding her breath, hoping that she was only hearing things.
Her heart nearly sank to her stomach when she heard someone walking through the bedroom. Knowing there was no mistake now, she was at a loss as to what she should do. Her husband would pull out the glock 9 mil that he always had holstered at his side. She immediately regretted all those times she skipped out on going to the shooting range with her husband.
Realizing that there was nothing she could do, and that an intruder would probably be armed, she backed up as quietly as she could, trying to get to the phone that she knew was in the kitchen. There's no way that he doesn't know I'm here, what with all my running about... Lord Father God help me... Silently praying, she continued to back up, half way through the living room now, and almost within reaching distance of the phone in the kitchen. Turning, she began walking slowly, but less tentatively, to the kitchen. So close, almost there...
“Ah, Mrs. McGraw! There you are!”
She almost died then and there. Frozen in mid-step, she was paralyzed with fear. Slowly, slowly she turned around, to see an older man standing just outside her bedroom door, the folder open and in his hands.
She tried to get words out, but couldn't.
“Oh, I'm not going to hurt you in case you're wondering. My, you look awful... rough night?”
Sarah was so confused. She was terrified that some intruder was going to blow her brains out, put here was that same intruder trying to make small talk! After trying and failing multiple times, she managed to get the words out, in a a barely audible squeak that is, “How... How did you... what are you...”
The man craned his head forward as if he couldn't hear her, but then smiled and leaned back, “Oh, that. Well, I can't tell you how I got in, at least not yet, but I can say that you are a very talented artist!” Smiling, he glanced back down at the folder and flipped through some of the papers. “I never could draw myself...” He looked back up, and was honestly confused at the fact that Sarah still looked terrified. “I said I wasn't going to hurt you.”
Still confused and not totally herself yet, Sarah was at a loss for words. She placed a hand to her forehead, feeling very dizzy all of a sudden. The man immediately made a move to guide her to the near by couch, Sarah stepped back at his sudden movements.
“Don't –just... hang on a second, okay!?”
The man immediately stepped back and waited. Sarah moved her hand and took a deep breath. “Ok. What are you doing here?”
“I came to talk you.”
Sarah, now feeling stronger and a bit more confident, gave him a questioning look, “What?”
Sighing, he closed the folder and walked past Sarah to the couch. Sarah, of course, stepped as far away as possible. The man looked at her as she stepped away and smiled to himself, shaking his head. Sarah, as per her naturally defensive and sometimes petty character, responded suddenly and loudly, “Hey!” Surprised by her own out burst, she quickly clamped her hands over her mouth and blushed ferociously.
The man smiled and dismissed it as he sat down on the couch and lightly tossed the folder onto the small coffee table sitting in front of him.“Ok, what was the question? Oh yes! Why am I here...” Shifting so he could look at Sarah head on, he began speaking, “I came here to speak with you. I'm with the B.M.S.P.R –sorry, but we couldn't think of a really cool acronym-- and I was wondering if you would join me on quick tour--”
“Woah wait!” Sarah had one hand on the banister of the stairs leading to the upper floor, and one hand outstretched, signaling him to stop. “Slow down! Do I know you or something? How do you know my name? What's you name for Heaven's sake! And... and are you recruiting me or something?”
“And to answer your questions in order: No, because, Michael, maybe.”
Sarah just stared at him blankly. Michael just looked down, smiled, and looked back up at here. “No, you don't know me, I know your name because I do, my name is Michael, and I might be recruiting you.”
Sarah's hand just dropped and after a moment, she shook her head in a vain attempt to clear the migraine that was slowly creeping in. She waved for him to continue, “just... carry on...”
Taking his cue, he replied, “Thank you. Now, where was I? Oh, I was wondering if you would come with me for a quick tour of the Bureau.”
“Sarah slid down the wall and sat down on the floor, her legs up crossed. “Aren't you coming on a bit strong? I mean, just two minutes ago, I thought you were an intruder and about to kill me... I was this close calling the police on you... and now your asking me to take a tour? How did you get in anyway?”
Michael just waved the first question off, “You'll know, if come with me that is. Interested?”
“No! That would be asking for trouble!”
“Ah, but you're curious aren't you?”
Sarah slowly stood up at that, her hand behind her and in constant contact with the side of the stairs for support. “A guy waltz into my house without my knowing, says he's with some government bureau--”
“Now I didn't say government.”
If she noticed Michael's interruption, she didn't show it, “--asks me if I want to go on a tour, and you ask me if I'm not curious!?”
Michael smiled, “So you are?”
“Of course I curious! But, I am not about to--
Michael clapped his hands in satisfaction, thus cutting her off. “Good! That's all I need to hear! If you'll just...” Michael stepped over to Sarah and took her hand before she had time to back away. “Hey! What're you--”
And suddenly, they were gone.
Sarah's previous thoughts went blank as she looked around.
The last thing she knew, she was this close to calling the police on some guy who decided to waltz into her house and try to talk business. Then she was here all of a sudden, with that same guy looking all smiley.
But the part that was really confusing her, was where exactly was “here”? It looked like she was standing on a large balcony. She stepped forward, her hand slipping from Michael's grasp, and placed her hands on the rail and looked over the edge. She amazed at what she saw.
It looked like a large news editorial workspace, what with cubicles dotting every square foot, people running this way and that, and the entire place in some kind of uproar. She just stood there for a moment, trying to take in everything at once.
“Where...” She slowly turned, trying to find Michael, and quickly spotted him. Except he was handing a clip-board of some sort back to a...
“Faun.” This got their attention. Michael looked away from the conversation he was having, the faun following suit.
Sarah just stood there, completely and utterly confused. Her mouth may have been hanging open, she really wasn't sure. Michael looked between the faun and Sarah stepped forward to stand next to her. “Mrs. McGraw, this is Tamos; Tamos, Mrs. McGraw.” After the introductions were made, Michael gestured for Tamos to come closer. “Tamos is also Judge's secretary and personal assistant. He--”
“Faun.” Sarah really had yet to gain her composure, she just gawked at the fact that she was actually talking to an actual faun. Tamos shifted uncomfortably, feeling awkward with the intense scrutiny. “Sir, if there's not anything else, I really should...” his voice trailed off as he stared down at his cloven feet.
Michael, seeming to gain amusement in the humble faun's discomfort dismissed him with a wave of his hand, “Of course.” The faun visibly relaxed and with a quick nod and a, “thank you, sir,” started down the left flight of stairs and passed out of sight somewhere below the balcony. Sarah, of course followed his every move, still enraptured by the sight of seeing an actual faun. Michael, never seeming to be in short supply of smiles, walked to railing of the balcony. Sarah was still craning her neck trying to catch a glimpse of the faun, or anything else out of the ordinary for that matter.
“Pretty interesting place, huh?”
After finally gaining her composure, Sarah managed to squeak out a reply. “Where am I?”
Michael didn't even bother to look over at her, because he knew where her gaze was, so he simply answered, “The Bureau of Mary Sue Prevention and Regulation.”
Sarah had absolutely no idea of what she had just gotten herself into.“The Bureau of... say that again?”
Michael smiled to himself, “The Bureau for Mary Sue Prevention and Regulation.” It was obvious that Michael was proud of the Bureau. You could tell in the way he held his chin up high, or the way he looked across the vast room, the room who's size outmatched any football stadium's.
Sarah just turned and slid down to the floor, her back resting against the railing. “This is all... too weird... what's a Mary Sue? How did I get here? I'm so confused...” Michael crouched down next her. “Don't worry. It get's stranger.”
Sarah just looked up at him, not really having a reply. “Take me back.” He cocked his head, similar to that of a dog, but didn't drop his smile. “What?”
Sarah's confusion turned to anger. “You know exactly what I mean! This--” She stood up and waved her hands over the vast room below them, “--is too much! I am a starving comic artist! I'm 31 and married! Now I demand you take me back to my husband, my house, my editor for Heaven's sake! Just take me back to where things make sense, and fauns don't make sense!”
Michael took her by the arm and guided her away form the edge of the balcony. “Fauns make perfect sense! They are some of the most logical people i--” Michael shut up with the anger/confused/pathetic look that Sarah gave him, and quickly changed tactics.
“Ok, I guess that sarcasm isn't really appreciated at the moment. But, we need you. Now, if you'll let me explain--”
Sarah pulled away from him, “No! Just take me back--”
Their conversation was interrupted by the opening of the two huge double doors behind them. Sarah looked between the doors and Michael, waiting for an explanation. Michael on the other hand, was looking between the doors and the wrist watch mounted just below his left hand. “Hm. She's early. That's annoying.” Sarah couldn't see what was happening behind the slow moving doors, but eventually, a female figure stepped out between them.
“Michael? You're still here? You're supposed to be giving your tour right now.”
Michael stepped forward to greet her. “Actually, you're early.”
The woman just gave him the ever feminine look of annoyance. Turning to Sarah –who was still hanging back-- she asked, “So, is this her?” She looked down at a clip board she had tucked under her arm. “Mrs. Sarah McGraw?”
Now that Sarah could get a better look at her, she realized she was quite pretty, but nothing out of the ordinary. She was wearing a black feminine business suit with a simple white undershirt. She could have easily worn a skirt, but obviously opted for pants. He hair was a dark red, so dark you couldn't even tell if your weren't close enough, and was pulled back into a mussed, but pretty bun. She also had small, rectangular glasses framing her stark green eyes. Just by looking at her, you could tell she had a sharp tongue and the will to use it
Michael moved to answer the question, but Sarah beat him to it. “Yes! And will someone please tell me what is going on!? And how to get back!?”
The women looked over at Micheal with the annoyed looked again, “And here I thought you were such a charmer. I take it he has yet to give you a straight explanation?”
Sarah, looking relieved over the prospect of finally getting an answer, responded with a loud, “Yes!”
The woman sighed and slapped the clipboard into Michael's chest to give it to him. Michael didn't look too surprised at the sudden action and took the clipboard, slipping it under his own arm. The women stepped forward and moved to shake Sarah's hand, “Then I think I'll be conducting this tour, and by the way, my name's Joanne.” Sarah hesitantly took the hand, and was surprised by the strong grip. “Well then, shall we?”
Joanne turned and began to head down the left flight of stairs, Sarah and Michael following close behind. Michaels leaned in close and whispered into Sarah's ear, “Pay attention. She has a habit of going a bit fast.” Sarah nodded her acknowledgment and Michael leaned back and fell behind, walking just behind Sarah as not to crowd.
Upon reaching the bottom of the large flight of stairs Joanne stopped walking and waited for her slower companions to catch up. “This is one of the many work floors we have in this building.”
Stepping out of the way of one of the workers, Sarah asked, “And what do you do in this building?”
Joanne didn't turn to answer, just began walking again, “I'll explain everything once we get to my office.”
Sighing, Sarah fell into step behind her, with Michael close behind. Together, the trio began walking through the maze of cubicles and hurried workers. After seeing her fourth faun, seventh dwarf, third elf and a huge collection of creatures she had no idea how to classify, she stopped looking into cubicles, and instead kept her focus on Joanne's back. Every time she “eeped” at seeing something strange or gawked as something went by, she could hear Michael's release of breath as he smiled.
Now that she thought about it, Michael wasn't so bad looking himself. Course, he looked like he was forty-something and already had a full head of short grey hair, but he had that rugged look that so many of the women she worked with would have swooned over.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn't realized that Joanne had stopped walking and was now standing next to an elevator door, waiting on them. “We're almost to my office.”
“Finally...” Sarah just wanted to get some answers, and get home. Actually, she just wanted to get home. Twenty plus mythical creatures and God only knew what else was a bit much for one day, thank you very much.
Joanne turned and pressed the “up” button on the wall next the closed elevator door. After waiting a few minutes, the shining steel doors opened, revealing a spacious elevator room with polished wooden walls and a black tile floor. “Nice elevator.” Sarah stepped inside and moved to one of the back corners, allowing Michael to step inside.
After Michael was situated, Joanne reached for the panel next to the door and pressed one of the many buttons listed, thus closing the door. She then ran her finger over the buttons labeled with floor numbers, and picked the highest one, ninety-seven. “That's a lot of floors...”
“Hm... makes good for impressing visitors, but whenever the elevator breaks, well, let's just say that half the workers get sick all of a sudden.”
Joanne flashed Michael with an annoyed smile. He just shrugged and gave her an innocent look in reply. “But in the employees defense, they never tried it again.”
“Mainly because I saw to it personally.”
Sarah looked over at Michael with a slightly concerned expression, Joanne was in front so Sarah couldn't see her expression, but she could tell she was smiling in some form or fashion. Michael just smiled and said, “I was going to leave that part out...”
Sarah looked between the two of them, “You two don't talk like your employees. Do you head this Bureau or something?”
Michael answered, “Well, I head the Mary Sue division while Ms. Joanne here heads the Gary Stue.”
Sarah just looked completely confused. “What?”
Michael's reply was cut off by the light “ding!” of the elevator, announcing their arrival. Joanne stepped out without bothering to make sure that Michael and Sarah were still following.
Upon stepping out of the elevator, Sarah was met with a beautiful change of scenery. While the last floor looked like a news work space, this place looked like the lobby of a five star hotel. The first thing she saw was a huge fountain sitting in the middle of the room, and when she looked up, she noticed that the roof was like that of a green house. The sunlight came in beautifully through the glass panels. She was so enraptured by her surroundings that she would have collided with Joanne if Michael hadn't pulled her back by the arm.
Stopping for the first time, Joanne turned to face them and smiled. “And this, Mrs. McGraw, is the Senior Offices Floor. Michael's office is right there--” She pointed to the far end of the room, which held the largest office (which also had glass walls) and was situated on another –but smaller-- raised platform, “--and the office I use on my visits here--,” she turned to a near by door on the side of the wall closest to them, who's surrounding walls were normal and opaque, “Is right here.”
Sarah slowly nodded to show that she understood, but it was obvious that she was still amazed at where she was.
Joanne opened the door and gestured for them to follow, “If you'll come with me...” Sarah entered the office with only a small tug needed form Michael. Joanne walked over to the large desk sitting in the middle of the room and sat down in the large leather chair sitting behind it. Sarah sat down in one of the two smaller leather chairs in front of it, and Michael opted to stand and next to Joanne. Joanne was the first to begin. “So. Where do I start?”
Sarah shifted in her seat so she was leaning forward. “How about the Bureau's purpose?”
“Ah yes. 'Bureau for Mary Sue Prevention and Regulation'.”
“Yes! That! What is a Mary Sue!?”
Joanne smiled and clasped her hands, resting her chin on them. “A Mary Sue is a pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot on such a scale that suspension of belief fails due to the character's traits, skills, and abilities being tenuously or inadequately justified.”
Sarah was at a loss for words, the definition catching her off guard. “Wha...?”
Joanne smiled, “Ok, a Mary Sue is a female fictional character who is just too perfect. They lack any character flaws any sort and are always drop dead gorgeous except for the occasional, and unusually clean, slash scare.”
“Woah wait, so are you guys some sort of Writer's Guild or something?”
Joanne spun around her chair, crossed her legs, and clasped her hands in her lap in one fluid motion. Then fixed Michael with a very annoyed expression. “Did you tell her anything?”
Michael through his hands out in front of him, trying to defend himself, “Hey! You came early! And I introduced her Tamos!”
“Because he just so happened to show up?”
“Maybe. But I was going to anyway!”
“And you run this bureau?” Joanne spun her chair back around fixed Sarah with a forced smile. “Not exactly. Are you familiar with the term 'FanFiction'?”
Sarah was looking very confused at this point, “Um, yeah. I lived on that site when I was a kid. I occasionally get on to see the fics for my stories out of curiosity, but other that, I have nothing to do with it anymore.”
“It's a start.” Joanne reached down and started digging through a drawer, she then pulled out a simple manila folder, without looking at Michael, but still addressing him, she dropped the folder on the desk, “See! You were supposed to take this with you!”
“Your office was locked!”
“Oh don't start with me. That has never stopped you before.”
Sarah didn't get these two, they seemed to bicker over the simplest and most insignificant of things. Joanne sighed and handed the folder to Sarah. “Here. Just flip through it intelligently while I explain.”
Sarah took the folder and flipped it open to the first page. It had multiple mug shots of beautiful women, all ranging from the ages of fifteen to seventeen. The majority of them either had jet-black hair, or stark-white hair. And Sarah noticed that many of them did have an unusually clean slash scar going vertically down one of their eyes, or down the side of their cheek.
“As you may know, books, movies, etc. are often called 'Fandoms'. Each with their own characters, history--,” She glanced at Sarah to see if she was following, when it appeared she was, she continued, “--universes.”
Without looking up, Sarah added, “Fictional of course.” When Joanne nor Michael responded, Sarah looked up.
“In a way.”
Sarah didn't say anything, just looked confused for the umpteenth time and waited for an explanation. “Each Fandom, in turn, has their own Universe. The First Plane, or your Universe, is the start of everything. All new Realities --Fandoms-- are created through the First Plane.”
“And I live on this uh... First Plane?” Sarah was obviously having a hard time grasping any of this, but decided to humour.
“Yes. And this Reality--” She tapped her desk in an effort to emphasize, “--Is the Focal Point. This is one of the few Universe in which all Universes are accessible, definitely the main one.”
The folder lay forgotten in Sarah's lap. “And you expect me to believe this?”
Michael answered this one, “How else do you explain this? You were at your house, and suddenly you were here! And where else do you expect to see Fauns running around as secretaries?”
Sarah didn't know how to answer his question. “But still! Universes? Focal Points or whatever? This is all too much! I'm a starving artist! I'm married for goodness' sake!”
Sarah turned her head to Joanne in surprise. “What?”
“You are exactly what a Mary Sue isn't. You're thirty-one, married, and not gorgeous!”
Feeling slightly insulted, Sarah crossed her arms and leaned back into her chair. “I still don't know what you mean.”
Joanne decided to step back for a moment, “Ok, a Mary Sue is plague upon all of Fanfiction. And when some twit author decides to write a Mary Sue into the story. She does. That character then exists in that Fandom. While they have no affect on the First Plane or with the way the author choices to write the story, they do exist in the Fandom! The author has no idea of their existence, but the characters do, and they have to put up with them. And so it is our job to--”
“Prevent and Regulate.” Sarah finished the sentence.
“Good! You're finally starting to get it! Now, what we need is an operative willing to go out to these Universes and extract the Mary Sues. Bring them back here, and we'll take care of the rest.”
“And if I say no?”
“Then all memories of this place and what we have told you will be erased and you'll be sent back to the First Plane.”
Sarah just sat there for a moment, thinking over her options. Michael looked at her expectingly, and Joanne rocked back into her chair, waiting for an answer. Sarah looked between the two of them, at a loss for what to do. After a moment of silence, she sighed. “I'm sorry, but I can't. I have a family. I can't be running around doing whatever it is I would be doing. I'm sorry.” Standing up, she placed the folder on Joanne's desk, and turned to walk out the door.
But Joanne spoke up. “You know, one of your comics, the one with Darian and Dylan? Is quite popular.” Sarah stopped immediately at the mention of two of her most beloved characters. Joanne smiled to herself and continued. “Especially in the business of Mary Sues.” Sarah turned around slowly. “It seems that--”
“Fine.” Sarah didn't need to hear the end of the sentence.
Joanne looked at her in surprise, not expecting the immediate change of heart.
Sarah continued, “I will not let some twit fangirls trash Darian's memory.” Meaning the eventual death of her character, despite the fact she had yet to write it.
“But their little fantasies don't affect your reality, just the one the character's inhabit.”
“That makes it that much worse.” Having the situation brought down to a more personal level, she felt compelled to help the authors and artists who had unknowingly created Universes, only to be tainted by the likes of Mary Sues.
Joanne smiled, “Are you sure? This would drastically change your life. It would be dangerous, maybe even fatal.”
Sarah faltered for a moment, thinking of leaving Ian behind, “Ian always says I'm obsessed with my work.”
“Very well. I think we're down here.”
Michael walked around the desk and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, whispering quiet thank you, he closed his eyes, much like what he had done back at Sarah's house.
And then Michael and Sarah were gone, leaving Joanne content and alone in her office.