(Where many things are discussed, and some even resolved...)
Alryssa looked sideways at Imran, now drinking a chocolate milkshake.
"How can you _drink_ that?!"
"I need _something_ to get the taste out of my mouth..." Imran replied
"Try bleach..." Alryssa muttered.
Imran grimaced. "Didn't do much for Allie's stomach, either. She may be
able to turn _into_ a cat, but it doesn't mean she has the _stomach_ of
one... _Still_ can't get the taste of mouse out of my mouth..."
"How... Just how did you and Allie _do_ that merging trick?"
Imran shrugged. "Last resort. We _do_ share a connection as author and
Muse, after all. It was... amplifying it to the point of fusion... that
was the problem..."
Alryssa raised an eyebrow. "Whoo. You took a risk that Brain would be
afraid of cats..."
"You _might_ say that... There's also something to be said for never
actually saying what a Muse can _do_..."
Alryssa looked over at _her_ Muse. "Don't I wish... _Yours_ gets
hangovers, _mine_ takes hallucinogenics... You should see what she comes
up with... Mm. Speaking of unwelcome visitors, what happened to Lawrence
and Q? Lost track of them in the confusion."
Imran shrugged. "No idea."
"And the Doctor's Author Avatar Inapacitator?"
"No idea. Lost that, too."
In the darkness...
... there was a flash of light.
Don Orman looked up. "Hello, Q."
Q bowed. "Greetings, Mistress Orman. A _pleasure_ to return..." His tone
of voice indicated exactly the opposite.
"Don't get cute, Q. Our agreement only went so far..."
Q smirked. "As I well recall... So, what _did_ you do with Mad Larry?'
The Don sighed. "He's under our protection. Somewhere safe. He may be
insane, but he _has_ proven... necessary... in the past."
"Which is why _you_ couldn't be seen to reclaim him. And he _was_ no
longer a member of the Family... so you needed someone to play the role
of agent provocateur, to stop him, and reclaim him." Q's smile went
nowhere near his eyes. "In other words... moi."
"Not _just_ that..." the Don countered. She looked up. "We had been...
aware.... of Fiction Paradocs for some time. Of the... danger... they
posed. We needed to bring them into the open, and render them
"Which the Doctor and Fitz did for you. Quite nicely, as it turns
out..." Q sat on the desk. "What of the Editor's Pen?"
"And the Editor?"
"Still watching over the Families..."
"Ah. Well, then..." Q fiddled with something in his hand.
Don Orman looked up. "What will you do with _that_, now?"
Q tossed the AAI up into the air and caught it. "Return it to the point
where Brain - not Gordon - finds it. From there... it will find a home
in a certain feline's stomach." He smiled. "And _then_... you make good
on _your_ side of the agreement..."
Imran leaned back on his stool. "How about our fellow authors?"
Alryssa grinned. "Gordon's having a quiet drink with Benny in the wine
cellar. Benny asked specially. Not going very successfully as far as I
can tell, either... Gordon's a _little_ concussed... Cameron? Well, we
managed to find him some clothes - from Compassion - and he's talking to
Izzy at the moment..."
"She won't be interested." Imran said absently.
"How do you know?" Alryssa asked curiously.
Imran looked around, then leaned forward and whispered in Alryssa's ear.
Alryssa blushed. "So _that's_ what the Doctor meant by the 'Romana
Imran nodded. "Speaking of which... what _are_ you planning to do to the
Alryssa smirked. "Oh, let's just say I've got something _very_ special
in mind for them..."
Pinky looked down at the script in his paw. "Are you _sure_ about this,
Brain? Nibbling the Doctors' clothes to shreds..."
"Unfortunately, Pinky... _yes_. Otherwise Alryssa introduces us to
Wolsey..." the giant version of Brain said grumpily.
"And then... 'pick up 200 gallons of chocolate sauce'? Brain?"
"_Yes_, Pinky. Now get _nibbling_..."
Something was on Brain's mind."Pinky? Are you thinking what I'm
"I think so, Brain, but where is she going to get that much velvet
Brain winced. "Actually, Pinky... that was _exactly_ what I was
"Back on TV."
"That's _not_ what I meant. I meant... what woke him up in the first
Alryssa looked worried. "I don't know. That... scares... me. And that
means... he could do it again..."
"Me, too..." Imran looked down into his drink. "Things. Why does it have
to be nameless Things?"
"Something I was wondering..." Alryssa began. "How did Loz do that Thing
in the Corner schtick?"
Imran ahemmed. "Well, since I've seen _your_ alter-ego..." He
Alryssa looked around. "Imran?"
-Still here- Imran's voice came from around her. -Little trick the
authors can pull off. Tweaking the avatar any way they want... as long
as they're not affected by an Incapacitator-
"Nice..." Alryssa's eyebrows raised.
"Ow. That _really_ smarts..." Imran popped back into existence.
"Something _I_ was wondering. Why didn't you use Compassion's chameleon
circuit to turn back into yourself?"
Alryssa blushed. "Couldn't find it... Managed to turn on the light and
"Yeah. Know how that works..."
They were interrupted by Francois, carrying a late 21st century mirror
as part of the 'Round's refurbishments.
Alryssa used the opportunity to quickly change the subject. "What
happened to the Mask?"
Imran frowned. "Back in the toybox... I _think_."
"What _is_ that toybox, anyway?"
Imran shrugged. "Got me..."
Alryssa frowned. "Somehow, I thought we'd be able to clear everything up
"Way it goes, sometimes..." Imran stared into his drink. "Sometimes, you
just _can't_ clear everything up... Oh yeah. Speaking of clearing up...
I noticed Allie talking to you earlier..."
Alryssa smirked. "Yeah?"
"Don't tell me. I do _not_ wanna know... Yes, I do. _Tell_ me, by Io's
volcanoes. _Please._" Imran blinked. "Hold on... I don't talk like
Alryssa grinned. "Little of _my_ authorial licence..."
"Thanks a lot. So?"
Alryssa's grin grew even wider, if that were possible. "Well... Remember
"How could I forget..." Imran murmured. Then a sudden, horrifying idea
hit him. "Oh no..."
"Well, after things calmed down," Alryssa continued. "she wanted to know
where _she_could get an outfit like that..."
Imran turned round, saw the green and yellow 'ensemble' Allie was
wearing, _and_ the hairstyle, said "Uuuunnnnggghhh....", and fainted.
"....so I lent her my spare costume," Alryssa finished.
She and Allie looked down at Imran's prone body. "Woo. _That_ was
fast...' Alryssa mused.
Allie grinned. "Pretty normal for him, I'd say... So, about meeting
Alryssa flashed her a quick grin in return. "Shouldn't be _too_ hard...
" She finished her Guinness. "How about now?"
Allie smiled. "No time like the present...."
"So, about this 'Alisande' situation..."
The two girls left Imran's prone body by the bar, and passed the 21st
century mirror, which Francois had installed behind it.
No one was looking when it *rippled*.
And Q's face appeared.
He looked at the 'Round.
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Everything back to (ab)normal.
Just the place where a trickster god could be himself.
Q laughed silently. What _else_ could _possibly_ happen?
The End (maybe)