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Epilogue

Many Weeks Later, in New Home

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack wobbles over to the fountain with failboat legs and dumps his sack down on the grass.

sugar-hi unicorn giggles as she is politely pushed out of Joe's diner by unseen hands, and goes to hide behind a bin and watch people.

Contestant Hanna B glances up at the newcomer, "HEW! It's been forever. How are you?"

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack waves. "Hi Hanners, I'm good, y'know, apart from the seeing more of the failboat than i would like.

sugar-hi unicorn watches the worriedness and the interesting magical sack owlishly. she hoots, possibly at both of them at once. or maybe at the small beetle she's just noticed wandering along the ground.

Contestant Hanna B " That place is never that much fun. What's in the sack today?" continuing to lightly splash her feet in the water while dipping her tail in and out, watching all the ripples.

Rookie Wet jumps out of his little bush and slides to the fountain

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack wanders over to her and leans against the fountain. " Todoay, it's frogs. I found a rainbow coloured one in there earlier. It had teeth."

Contestant Hanna B turning to Hew and arching back slightly towards Ben as she does it, "A rainbow frog? Is it still in there? Can I see it? Does it bite?"

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack reaches into a pocket and produced the frog. "It snaps a little." he says, handing the frog to Hanners, "But I think it's asleep now."

Contestant Hanna B takes the frog from Hew, admiring the colors. "It's kinda cute. Not many frogs are. 'Cept maybe those little tree frogs with the huge hands. Those are pretty cute." she turns the frog over. . .

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack: "Hi Delaney, and offers a hand to the waving rookie. "Call me Hew. would you like a frog?"

Rookie Ben Colohan looks repulsed at the thought. "Um no thank you sir."

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack Shrugs and pulls a couple of frogs from his sack and drops them into the fountain.

sugar-hi unicorn looks up to see a frog! she eeeps and beams happily, and accepts the frog, watching it with round, unfocused and rapt eyes. ". . .hellothere. . ."

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack takes the frog from hanners and slips it back into his pocket. "If you want one, just rummage in the sack until you find a colour you like."

sugar-hi unicorn appears to be having an involved conversation with the frog, mainly by chirping at it, and blinking slightly less than the frog, which seems a little unnerved.

sugar-hi unicorn beams, as she finally gets the frog to croak nervously, and mimics the noise with an air of triumph.

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack pulls a couple more frogs from his sack and rests them on the edge of the fountain.

sugar-hi unicorn looks up at mister Iriri, unfocused. ". . .h'lo mister. . ." she holds up the frog. ". . .Larceny?" it's probably a name suggestion. probably.

Johnson holds out her hands. "Sure." She grins at Hew. "Do get to name mine as well?" She glances over at Shi. "Naming is a very serious business, honey. Make sure it's a good one."

Johnson whacks a gremlin idly with her foot before sitting beside Shi. Hugs her lightly. "Larceny? Interesting choice."

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack looks at the sqaushed gremlin on the ground and nods to Johnson. "You can name as many as you like."

sugar-hi unicorn giggles as the frog climbs u her arm, looking for somewhere less strange to sit. it appears that Larceny is a quiet, solemn little frog.

Johnson grins at Hew. "Generous of you, sir." She sits on the edge of the fountain and pokes gently at one which seems to be flicking its tongue out at nothing in particular. "You are Frog-Shi."

Johnson points at a dashing male frog which seems intent on chasing other- lady? not-lady?- frogs. "You're definitely frog-Iriri."

sugar-hi unicorn feels honoured, and then slightly ill as newday hits. but mainly honoured. she looks up at mister James, unfocused. ". . .uh, good i think. . . how're yousir..?"

Johnson pushes another frog with a very big airsack for a throat. It croaks loudly. "You're definitely frog-Hew, mister bulgy-sackvoice."

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack bends down to peer at his frog-namesake, "I think he looks rather clever."

Returning Contestant Hewithbulgingsack returns to Hanners and digs in his pocket for the rainbow frog. "Here." he says, handing it to her, "It kind of matches your name anyway."

Johnson grins and beckons at Hanners. "Come name some!" she invites. "This skinny one who keeps trying to kick everyone else is definitely me."

Paste-pot calliaphone pedals her cart purposefully into New Home. She is a girl on a mission and she's not gonna be distra-"oooooooh FROGGIES!"

Rookie Wet says "Ohh can i please have a frog?"

Johnson waves happily at Calli. "Hey gorgeous! Come see the froggies! This one's frog-you." She pokes a colourful little froggie that seems to be flicking its tongue at everything and bumping into everyone.

Johnson ruffles Iriri's hair and puts frog-him on his forehead, where it proceeds to attempt to hump his nose. She crows with laughter and turns back to Shi.

Brigadier Iriri grumbles with annoyance and tilts his head, dislodging the amorous frog.

Paste-pot calliaphone attempts to give chase, tumbling out of her cart and tripstumblesprawling after this frog, no! that frog! no wait, there's another one there!

sugar-hi unicorn eeeps as Larceny attempt to hide down the back of her neck. a considerable amount of wriggling later, she retreives the frog, frowning at it.

Paste-pot calliaphone pulls herself together, and tries to remember all the advice she's had on stalking things. "deaky, snevious. don'closeyereyes, use yer senses" she snifffffs. smells like . . . Joes Diner.

Paste-pot calliaphone tiptoes towards the Diner and is almost at the door when she realises. . . no frogs this direction, she's gotten on the trail of bangers'n'mash. damn. she looks round confusedly. damn tricksy frogs!

Johnson laughs at Calli's antics. "You're gorgeous, sweetie." She picks up a Shi-frog and puts it on Shi's knee, near Larceny, where it proceeds to quiver on the spot and roll its eyes.

Paste-pot calliaphone is impressed by Johnson's frog-handling technique. She approaches, slowwwwwly, and then grabs for the nearest frog. It hops onto Johnson's shoulder, ribbiting in alarm.

Johnson laughs at Calli. "Don't grab her! Don't grab her!" It's the frog-Johnson, who hops off Johnson's shoulder and onto one knee and then back onto her shoulder again. "Move slowly with animals."

Paste-pot calliaphone blinks. "what, y'mean like . . . with scared toasters?" she pauses, and then tries again. digging in a pocket, she produces a sandwich crust. always works with toasters.

Paste-pot calliaphone offers the crust to the frog, and calls "c'mere little frogggeeee i jus' wanna PLAAAAY"

Rookie Ben Colohan looks at all the people and goes to a bench by himself. He doesn't feel right in the group yet.

Johnson laughs at Calli. "Like scared toasters. And try frog-you." She lifts little frog-Calli in her hands. The brightly-coloured amphibian hops off and onto Calli's foot. "Whoops. A bit random, that one."

sugar-hi unicorn considers. ". . .well if it'd make things easier for you, then yeah, i don' think we need it so much. . . 'mean, 's a lovely room but i wouldn' want t'be in the way or anything. . ."

Paste-pot calliaphone , for all her preoccupation with frogs, notices a rookie heading for a bench on the outskirts. she gives him a wave. jus' y'know, saying hello.

Johnson smiles at Ben. "Come sit," she invites. "I've found the frog-version of you!" She points to a tiny frog in the corner, quivering away from larger lady froggies. It meeps unhappily. Flips its feet.

Paste-pot calliaphone can't focus on much, though, besides - THERE IS A FROG ON HER FOOT! she looks like she might pass out with excitement. she says "hellofroggy! where'dy'comefrom whaddya eat can y'do somersaults?"

Johnson grins at the little Ben-frog. "D'awww, you're adorable. Ben? Come look. I don't want to pick it up in case I scare it."

Rookie Ben Colohan walks over but sits a respectable distance from Johnson. He looks just as miserable as the frog.

Johnson grins at Calli. "That there' a calli-frog. It probably can do somersaults, and will probably drag little leaves around with it all day. And then spill fly-juice on another frog's leaves."

Paste-pot calliaphone 's frog says "ribbit". Callia looks Highly Delighted with this response. She attempts to pick the frog up. It hops sideways, falls over its feet, and rolls into the shelter of Ben's feet.

Johnson tries to herd frog-Ben towards rookie-Ben with a leaf. It shuffles miserably closer, croaking in a tiny voice. "Awwww, you're so cute!"

Paste-pot calliaphone beams at Johnson. "y'think? that'd be the BEST! or you having me on? i mean, who the hell'd do that kinda thing?" Johnson clearly understands frogs better than she does.

Johnson laughs. "I think indeed. These are improbable frogs, honey." She likes frogs. Frogs and snakes. They're adorable.

Paste-pot calliaphone is on her hands and knees, trying to recapture her frog. It retreats further under the bench Ben is sitting on. Callia crawls around by his feet, bumping her head on his ankles. and on the bench.

Paste-pot calliaphone says, "Oww" and "heeeeeere froggy" and "sorry sorry OW!" and "GOTCHA!"

Rookie Ben Colohan jumps up. He looks back completely scared. "What the. . ..?"

Johnson laughs at Calli, clutching her sides. "Woman, you're hilarious. You found her?"

Johnson grins at Ben. "Sit down, kiddo! You're scaring your froggie!" Frog-Ben has inched towards Rook-Ben and now sits close to Ben's foot, shivering with fear.

Paste-pot calliaphone sits up sharply, with frog-in-hand. smacks her head on the bench. and takes a few moments of, uhh, quiet time.

SOME TIME (and a considerable amount of a candy) LATER . . . at the Bingo Hall (Nondescript Cloakroom)

calliaphone enters the speakeasy, one hand clamped to her jaw, which is swelling up quite impressively. she trots over to the bar, and attempts to get Battenberg's attention.

calliaphone finds this tricky, on account of . . . he's got his back turned, and she's got a mouthful of saltwater. she tries hailing him. and gets uncomfortably close to drowning.

calliaphone resorts to clanking her bucket on the bar. This is more successful, which is fortunate, since the saltwater has now made it into her lungs, and Battenberg's assistance would be most welcome.

The barman turns, and raises his eyebrows at the sight of a spluttering, balloon-jawed Calliaphone. He sighs, and makes his way round the bar to sort matters out.

calliaphone is not as grateful as she should be. But it is hard to be grateful when you are dangling by your ankles in the grip of some well-meaning piece of cake-for-brains. she sputters and gasps, but . . .

calliaphone: she does also breathe, as the saltwater drains from her airways.

Battenberg waits for a moment, until she's finished wheezing and cussing. And then he turns her rightside up, and sets her back on the floor.

calliaphone staggers, steadies herself on the bar, and attempts to look indignantly dignified. "i wuzh hanfdling thingsh"she announces.

Battenberg nods solemnly. "Course you were," he says. "Just like you're handling that toothache, huh?"

calliaphone gives him a mistrustful look. "howfyoufknewIgotshtoofhake?" Her eyes widen. "youfhnotshgonnacall nodentishtsh?"

Battenberg says, "Scared of a bit of drilling, are you? Well then, let me see if I've got something else that might help you out." He rummages behind the bar, and produces a bottle.

He grins at Calliaphone. "Cask strength Knockando. For medicinal purposes only. Obviously." He pours her a glass, and then hunts around behind the bar some more.

calliaphone 's expression begins to shift from mistrustful to conspiratorial. she takes the glass and slrrps some of the whisky, swilling it round her mouth, letting it anaesthetise all it touches.

calliaphone siiighs with relief. and again as she realises . . . this mouthwash doesn't require a spitoon. she swallows the medicine, and turns her attention back to Battenberg, who is still hunting about.

Battenberg clatters about behind the bar, muttering "Now where did it get . . . aha!" and he straightens, brandishing a hipflask aloft.

calliaphone starts to grin. This man truly understands medicine! He should've been a doctor, he could've saved countless lives! She watches, as Battenberg carefully fills the flask with Medicine.

calliaphone starts to grin. This man truly understands medicine! He should've been a doctor, he could've saved countless lives! She watches, as Battenberg carefully fills the flask with whisky.

calliaphone slrrps some more from her glass, while she's waiting. At length, Battenberg is done, with not a drip spilled. He hands her the flask. "It's no substitute for a dentist, mind."

calliaphone nodnods. Her mood is mellowing pleasantly, now the pain is going. She'll think about the dentist. Maybe. Tomorrow, or something. For now . . . she takes the flask and tucks it into a pocket.

calliaphone pauses to give Battenberg a hug, and then remembers something. "i HAVE something for you!" she announces. and, reaching into her accordion, she produces a small, brightly coloured frog.

calliaphone holds her prize aloft. Battenberg looks at it, visibly impressed. Callia says, "i was deaky an' sneavious, just like you said!" no need to mention that's not how she got the frog, after all.

calliaphone 's frog ribbits, and attempts to hop from Callia's hand onto the bar. Alas, it trips over its feet, and somersalts into an ashtray. Battenberg picks it up, and looks from frog to Callia.

calliaphone frowns. She says, "it does that a lot. i dunno what's wrong with it. BUT otherwise it's perfect, wouldn't you say?" "Oh yes" says Battenberg. The frog preens, and ribbits again.

calliaphone says, "so where're you gonna keep it?" "Keep it?" Callia nods. Battenberg hmms. He says, "Perhaps. . . perhaps you ought to take care of it for me."

calliaphone 's eyes widen. "What, reeeealllly? You'd let me do that?" She beams. Battenberg grins. And the frog hops from his hand, sprawling awkwardly back onto the accordion.

calliaphone rescues the frog, tucking it safely back inside Cordy. and then, with a final wave to Battenberg, she is gone, clutching her bucket-of-tools.

calliaphone puffs up with pride. She is Guardian of the Battenberg's Frog! She will discharge her duties with Honour! Shebeams again, as she tucks the frog safely inside Cordy.

calliaphone salutes the barman. And then, with a final "an'thankyouforthemedicine", she and the frog and accordion, and the clanking bucket of tools, are all gone, and the speakeasy is quiet again.

 
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