Betwixt the Wind and His Nobility Author: gileonnenPlay: Henry IV, Part IRecipient: kerrypolkaCharacter(s)/Pairing(s):
Kate/Hotspur, Kate/1978 Cadillac, Bolingbroke, NorthumberlandWarnings:
Mild swearing, assault on a clerk, gratuitous Solitaire, sneaky Chicago
reference, crack AU.Rating:
Kate and Hotspur attempt to renew their drivers' licenses.Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
Kate shot her husband a quelling look as he jounced his leg, every bounce of his knee sending his orange plastic swivel chair squeaking and rocking. Long practice had taught him to deflect such looks, though, and he scarcely raised his eyes from Car and Driver.
Hotspur was, as per usual, completely unaware of the physics of leg-jouncing vis-a-vis the structure of the chairs in the DMV. It probably hadn't occurred to him that, because their chairs were bolted to one long metal bar, itself imperfectly secured to the floor, each flex of his formidable calves rocked the entire row of chairs
. Including--Kate felt this was pertinent--the chair in which she was sitting.
And then there was that abominable squeaking. She couldn't abide the squeaking.
"Will you stop
," she snapped at last, shoving at Hotspur's shoulder. "Look, your number's up."
It wasn't, of course, but Hotspur wasted long enough in consulting his ticket and scanning the tickers over each window that by the time he'd finished, his number was
up. With a mighty heave and a mightier squeak of plastic, Hotspur rose from his chair and picked his way over splayed legs and toppled purses. He might have been crossing a battlefield--but she knew that he'd never show such disdain for a corpse as he did for Louis Vuitton. She followed in his wake, mostly because if she didn't stand soon her thigh would start cramping something awful.
The clerk at the counter was a pimple-faced youth who smelled strongly of marijuana and grape bubblegum. He studied Kate and Hotspur with a thoroughly unimpressed expression, then turned his eyes back to his computer screen. "Form?" he said, with a sharp double click.
"I'm just here to renew my license," said Hotspur; when Kate laid a hand on his wrist, she could feel the muscles flexing as his fingers clenched and unclenched.
"You need a form for that." The clerk cracked his gum. In his thick-rimmed glasses, Kate could see Solitaire reflected.
She kept her silence.
"Yes," she said, when it became clear that the clerk wasn't about to produce a form unless it had the Ace of Spades on it. "Yes, all right, we'll need to fill out form, but we would like you to give
us a form. So that we can fill it out. Obviously."
"Window E. They'll give you a new ticket." The clerk reached over to a switchboard and flipped a switch; the ticker made a soft, mechanical beeping sound to urge the next poor sod to the window.
"He can't treat
us like this," growled Hotspur as they crossed the floor to the queue at Window E, avoiding a stain that looked suspiciously like old vomit. "I'm a veteran
; he can't treat
us like this, that damn unprofessional--"
"The sooner we stop complaining about it, the sooner this can be over," said Kate. "Look, here we are, between the velvet ropes--" which were, in fact, canvas straps, but that didn't sound particularly soothing "--and soon we'll have our forms, and we can be out
"I shouldn't be in
here in the first place."
"Yes you should, dear," said Kate, lacing her fingers through his. "Because you make the other riders nervous when you take public transportation."
"They were in my space.
"They were seven years old.
"And in my space." The woman at the head of the queue took her form and pressed it against the wall to fill it out; the only horizontal surfaces in the DMV were the counters and the end tables littered with magazines. Of course.
our car, don't you? It's a good car. A very good car." At the mention of their car--which was, Kate knew full well, a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Classic Coupe and thus no less than a bitchin'
car--she felt Hotspur calming. "And wouldn't it be a shame if we couldn't take her out for a spin, all because we were too impatient to renew our licenses?"
The man ahead of them took his form and his ticket; they were up. "We'd like license renewal forms," said Kate. "The man told us to come to this window--"
"This window?" The woman at the desk offered a puzzled little frown. "I don't see why. This window is for motor vehicle transactions--authorizing receipts, figuring sales taxes ..."
"That bastard--that little gum-cracking Solitaire-playing bastard
," snapped Hotspur. His eyes went hooded; his brows went down; the muscles in his neck bulged in a way suggestive of an approaching coronary.
At this point, Kate knew, things could go down one of two ways. She could berate her husband and threaten him with maiming and coax him down from his towering rage ... or she could unleash a tide of infinite rage on the clerk's hipster ass.
The squeak of an orange swivel chair broke her resolve. "Do what you have to do," she said, and Hotspur didn't need to be told twice.*
Even Officer Bolingbroke had to admit, the footage from the security camera was impressive--in the way that footage of a tidal wave or a mudslide was impressive. All six and a half feet of burly ginger Percy went hurdling over the rows of plastic chairs, descending like the wrath of God on the weedy boy behind the counter; the kid's iPod went flying in the scuffle, to be picked up by a nefarious (and suspiciously familiar) figure whom Bolingbroke was steadfastly refusing to identify. The video was soundless, but from the kid's expression, he could fill in the screams of horror as Percy dived over the counter.
Henry Bolingbroke had been a soldier, once--and more importantly, he'd been to a DMV. He couldn't help sympathizing.
The video cut out, and Percy (Senior) jounced his leg uncomfortably. At length, he folded his hands over his stomach with a harrumph of distaste. "This doesn't leave the room," said Percy. "Or I make inquiries on the sale of secondhand electronics in this city ... and you may not like what I find."
"Understood," said Bolingbroke, expression perfectly neutral. "What do I do with your son?"
Percy waved a negligent hand. "Let him cool his heels in a cell for a few hours. I'll bail him out when I get around to it."
"And his wife?"
Bolingbroke couldn't help smirking as Percy's face went pale. "If she wants to bail him out," said Percy in a measured fashion, "Let her bail him the hell out. And thank her. And give her coffee if she wants it. And hope you never see her again."
"I'll take that under advisement. And Percy--"
On the point of rising, Percy paused. He leaned forward in his seat with an expression of great interest. "Yes?"
"Stop that infernal foot-tapping business. It could drive any sane man to murder."