Tangible Schizophrenia


An Inconvenient Illness

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Main focus on Will/Elizabeth, Archie/Horatio, other pairings included.
Feedback: Fave lines, constructive crit.—anything you want, at any length.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Modern-day AU. I used Theodore for Groves’ first name and Alexander for Edrington. Guest appearances from Horatio Hornblower [movies], Master and Commander [movie] and Sharpe [movies].
Summary: Parodyfic, fractured fairytale. Liz is down with a cold.


“Because it’s Miami,” Elizabeth sniffled. Pouted.

To be honest, it was an unappealing combination of the two, but Will had very quickly decided to look on only on the bright side of matters. Even be downright delusional if he had to—and thank you to Jack for that ability—if that was what it took to get through the afternoon. After all, he loved her and he was her boyfriend, and that was what loving boyfriends did. And the self-preservation factor had nothing to do with it in the least.

“Well, you did get rather wet.” He carefully passed her a steaming mug of hot milk and honey. Then blocked her sneeze with a tissue and bit down against the slosh of near-boiling liquid on his skin. Will wiped the scalding drops off Elizabeth first before he addressed himself. “Liz, it’s only a cold. You’ll be fine in a few days.”

She looked thoroughly unappeased. “A few days. A few days of lying in bed and dripping snot like it was my monthly and feeling absolutely horrid.”

Before it could penetrate his mind, Will frantically excised those mental images from his comprehension. “Is there anything else I can do?” he quickly said, hoping to forestall yet another such comment.

“Tell me a porn story.” Like a little girl, Elizabeth scrunched her way under the blankets till nothing above her nose showed, and even that was mostly obscured by the wad of tissues into which she was snuffling.

And like an idiot, Will was gaping and speechless.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him. “I’m not twelve, Will. Anyway, I always had a feeling my parents were cutting out the really fun bits. Come on. You’ve been around Jack enough; you should be able to do it.”

“But—” One look at her, miserable and flushed and cuddling up to his hip, and Will knew he’d lost the battle. Sighing, he swung his legs onto the mattress and wrapped his arm around her. “All right, all right. Once upon a time, there was a kingdom. Rather like uppercrust Britain, as they had proper teas and everything.”

“This kingdom was ruled over by a wise and good king, who saw to it that his subjects were well-fed, educated, and never got hijacked by unreasonable DSL rates. In addition, he took those damned providers to court until they worked all the bugs out of a system before they released it—”

--jab in Will’s side—

“—but anyway, everything was simply wonderful there. But of course there was one broken bottle in the hold. The queen had died of an unfortunate accident long before, and the king only had one child, a daughter. Now, for reasons unknown—though many suspected a certain evil wizard with disgusting teeth and name beginning with a B—she was never a strong girl. As time went on, she grew sicker and sicker until at last the king began to despair. He consulted with all the doctors in the land, and finally they declared that what was needed was a magic crumpet.”

* * *

About to switch to one of the wiretaps he really should have been listening to, given that those were work and this one was for…insurance, Horatio paused.

* * *


“Yes, crumpet. I told you, these people had a teatime fixation. Now, this magic crumpet was unfortunately difficult to get to: one had to cross deep woods with fierce red-coated monsters, ford a river guarded by a black knight that never slept or ate or otherwise rested, and then one had to assault a—”

“—if you say a giant volcano while under an—”

“—mountain with a cave that only let in the pure of heart. No flaming eyes. And no blond elves.”

“Will, just because I thought that actor was cute doesn’t mean that…oh, never mind. So what happens next? And here, toss these in the trash.”

“Well, the…christ, these are soaked…king would have gone himself to get the crumpet, but he had to stay and rule. Also, he was of a fairly independent and progressive mindset, and figured that sending the army might have adverse effects on his neighbors’ foreign policies, whereas they weren’t going to notice a few extra vacationers going through customs. So instead, he threw it open to anyone in the kingdom, sending out a proclamation that whoever retrieved the crumpet would be handsomely rewarded with gold and land and a dinner with his daughter. Not a marriage, of course, because then—”

“Yes, yes, he’s a liberal-minded sort. Will, did they send you to another seminar on PC-ness again?”

“—Ahem. In a nice little hamlet on the coast, one particular young man heard the town herald shouting the news. He was a very gentlemanly, shy sort, but he was also a great patriot of his country. Previously he’d intended to join the kingdom’s navy and distinguish himself there, but he wasn’t quite old enough. This quest, however, had no such age limit.”

“…he’d better be over the age of consent. I want porn.”

“He was seventeen, all right? Age to join the navy there happened to be nineteen—the king wanted all his soldiers and sailors to have at least a high-school education. And—”


“—stop interrupting, Liz. Or we’ll never get to the porny bits. Now, Horatio—”

I knew you liked his arse.

* * *

Horatio choked on his tea. Which wasn’t entirely a bad thing, as his teabag had been steeping for the past five hours; workaholic that he was, he’d forgotten to take it out. So his tea was possibly on the verge of attaining sentience.

Still choking, he put down the cup and ducked under the desk, pressing one finger into his ear so he could hear the earpiece’s crackling over the noise of the surrounding offices.

* * *

Horatio set off on a bright, sunny day with a meticulously-packed bag of food and supplies. He didn’t have a horse, so he walked. Fortunately, he lived near the right border and so he didn’t have too far to go before he reached the woods. He was a brave, rational sort, so he’d never really paid attention to all those rumors about the place—too illogical, given what he knew of basic zoology and botany—but even he was taken aback upon seeing the place. It was nearly pitch-black, damp, moldy, and made the most horrible growling noises. A bit like what happens if someone doesn’t remind Jack to clean out the back of the fridge.

Anyway, Horatio had been walking for a good long while, and he was hungry. It only made sense to stop and have a meal before he started on the next leg of the journey. Besides, his map grew rather vague at this point, so it’d be best if he took a few moments to reorient himself and decide on his further path as well.

He found a comfortable dry stump and seated himself on it, then unwrapped one of his sandwiches. Whereupon this furry blondish thing stalked up to him and planted two paws on his knee, like he owed the cat money. Horatio was sure he didn’t, but the cat was quite the handsome thing and obviously not the kind to be naturally roaming out and about in this region, so he assumed it was lost. He popped it onto his lap and fed it part of the sandwich. Much to his surprise, the cat thanked him.

‘The light lunch is much appreciated, Mister…’

‘Just Horatio,’ Horatio hurriedly said.

‘Horatio, then. However, I would prefer you cease ruffling my fur and put me down immediately. I am not some common feline; I am Major Edrington. Although it would be better if you addressed me as the Earl of Edrington, as that is what I am when I am neither cursed nor on-duty.’

Lizzie, you’re tickling my side. Stop giggling. Now, normally Horatio was an excruciatingly polite sort, but he’d never really liked the intricacies of social rank. It conflicted with his natural tendencies toward democracy. Also, he judged that the chances of an earl being turned into a cat were rather slim, though he was forced to accept that something very strange was going on with this particular animal. So he firmly but gently knotted the cat into a spare cloth he had and put it into his sack. The next time he ran across a homestead, he’d drop it off there. And, ignoring the squalling and amazingly fluent cursing, he got up and headed into the forest.”

* * *

“He’s laughing,” Alexander guessed, leaning over the desk.

William squatted down and tried to pry Horatio’s shaking body off the floor so he could see the man’s expression. He managed to squeeze a hand in and wipe something off of Horatio’s cheeks. “I think he’s crying.”

“Well, whatever he’s doing, he’s clearly in distress and needs help.” A determined expression on his face, Archie rolled up his sleeves and prepared to come to Horatio’s aid.

* * *

“The first few hours weren’t too bad, since Horatio’s lack of a sense of the fantastical meant that he wasn’t prone to making ghosts and slavering monsters out of a few rattling branches, but very gradually, he began to realize he was being followed. Also, the cat had gone very quiet.

Horatio wasn’t an idiot, so he found a big tree against which he could brace himself or up which he could climb if necessary before he stopped. Then he opened his bag and gingerly snatched out a very, very annoyed cat.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever been so poorly treated in my…what on earth are we doing here?’ Tail swishing, Edrington stalked in a small circle around Horatio, who was feeling a little regretful, though he hadn’t yet figured out whether it was from sticking the cat in the bag or taking him out.

‘The king’s daughter is sick and needs the magic crumpet from the Cave of Apollo,’ Horatio answered. A twig snapped rather loudly and he startled back against the tree, warily watching the darkness all around. ‘I’m going to get it for her.’

‘Well, what a coincidence,’ Edrington drawled. He sat pointedly on Horatio’s foot and started to groom himself. ‘I need it too. It’s the cure for my curse.’

‘So why haven’t you?’ Another twig cracked, and Horatio began to dig through his bag for his matches and knife. He thought that with a bit of luck, he might be able to fend off whatever it was with a flaming branch.

The cat gave him the most contemptuous look he’d ever received in his life. ‘Because in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a cat now. And there’s a river in the way.’ Edrington shivered in distaste. ‘Ugh. Water.’

* * *

“Now they’re both down,” William noted, his confusion slowly changing to tolerant amusement. When Horatio seemed to be in danger of laughing himself into a sharp corner, William stuck out a hand to cushion the other man’s head.

“What’s going on?” Groves pushed past a faintly-irked Alexander to peer at Horatio and Archie snickering into each other’s shoulders like schoolgirls.

Alexander shrugged. “I’ve no idea, but they won’t meet my eyes now. Probably Horatio’s tapping some catty comments from Sparrow’s offices again.”

Archie went limp and just cried.

* * *

“Horatio looked a little dubiously at the cat, but Edrington sounded sincere. Feeling sorry for him, Horatio was about to offer to bring the cat along—he assumed they wouldn’t need the whole crumpet—when a huge blood-colored hound burst out of the trees, dripping froth from its gigantic wicked-looking bared teeth.

Paw halfway to his mouth, Edrington paused in his licking and looked over his shoulder. ‘Oh, for—’

But Horatio, suddenly realizing that he was a born hero, had grabbed the cat to his chest and somehow had scrambled up the tree. ‘Well, that’s a brute of a beast,’ he muttered. ‘Could eat you in one bite, kitty.’

Edrington made an incredibly insulted miaow and hit Horatio in the face with his tail. ‘I am an Earl, you—and for the love of God, Harper, stop scaring the man. When I get down from here, I’ll be having some words with your major.’

‘Surely, surely,’ said the dog, backing off the tree. Now that Horatio wasn’t panicking into action, he could see that the dog was actually smiling. But the teeth were still very, very big. ‘And I reckon he’ll be havin’ a few words with you regarding our colors.’

‘Oh, like it’s my fault that sorcerer didn’t know the difference between riflemen and regular infantry; all he saw was my uniform jacket, since you two were already undressed. Anyway, if you’d just escorted him politely out of Richard’s tent instead of booting him out, we wouldn’t even be like this, you overgrown mutt.’

Horatio suddenly understood. ‘Irish wolfhound.’

‘Yes, yes, it’s very amusing. And Richard there—’ a second red-coated dog, of some indiscriminate breed, had sauntered up beside Harper ‘—is pure mongrel, but that’s beside the point. We need that crumpet. My God, I have to hack up hairballs.’ For a moment, Edrington looked absolutely traumatized. Though still in a haughty way.

That was Horatio’s cue. He coughed politely and said, ‘Well, I’d be happy to have the company and share the rewards. But you’ll have to keep riding in my bag.’

Edrington sighed in utter resignation. ‘A man does what he must, I fear. But no wrapping me up this time.’

‘Deal,’ Horatio grinned, relieved.

* * *

“That bloody jackass!” Alexander glared at the earpiece he’d stolen from Archie. “Turner, you are quite the dead man walking.”

Theodore swallowed yet another laugh and nodded. “God help him if word of this gets to the Sharpes.”

Much to William’s bemusement, Horatio and Archie had subsided into two weakly quivering humps, from which emitted the occasional croak of laughter. He wasn’t quite sure what to do, so he patted them on their backs.

* * *

“Elizabeth? Are you done choking? Need water—all right, back to the story, then. So having made a pact with Edrington, and with Pat and Richard, Horatio got out of the tree. They proceeded through the forest without too much of a problem, other than the boredom of having to hear the dogs go on and on about all the rude bastards they’d chased out the woods prior to Horatio’s arrival. And the occasional lapse to animal instincts, which meant Horatio spent about five minutes every hour trying to pry a hissing, spitting cat from his head while also trying to fend off two dogs eager to get at Edrington. But all in all, they made it to the river in good time.

There was only one bridge for the entire thing, which sort of bespoke missed development opportunities, but maybe it was a national park. Anyway, that one bridge was guarded by an extremely dedicated knight who wore black armor that glistened pure danger in the light. Not an inch of his skin, or even his eyes could be seen. It was rumored that he wasn’t even human. Harper thought it might be likely, Richard snorted but wanted to try swimming, and Edrington appeared to be busy stealing more of Horatio’s sandwiches.

Once again, Horatio decided to take a break. He was hungry again—no surprise, since he was a skinny man—and so he pulled Edrington off the sandwiches, portioned one out among the four of them, and settled down near but not too close to the knight.

The knight didn’t move.

Come to think of it, Horatio had apparently walked through the night as all. He was tired. He took a nap, lean body stretched out on the soft clover, curls softly rumpled by the wind. Edrington curled up by his face and appreciatively watched. So did Richard and Harper.

The knight didn’t move.

‘Can’t be human,’ Pat insisted. ‘All this, an’ he doesn’t even want a gander?’

When Horatio woke up, he felt refreshed and full, but his mouth tasted rather foul and he thought he could smell the slightest whiff of b. o. coming from him. The river bellied into the bank about a hundred yards from the bridge to make a small pool, so Horatio headed for there. He hoped the knight only guarded the bridge, and he found his assumption to be right when the knight didn’t follow. Relaxing, Horatio quickly stripped off his clothes and got into the pool. Edrington nearly fell off the bank trying to see.

Richard’s keen ears caught a weak squeaking noise. With an effort, he tore his eyes away from Horatio’s shapely ass and squinted at the knight. ‘Pat. Pat. Look. The bugger moved.’”

* * *

Shocking everyone, Horatio suddenly sat bolt upright. “What is it with people and my…my arse?” he demanded, glowering.

“Well, you do like skinny-dipping. Can’t deny that,” was Archie’s mild answer. His hands weren’t exactly in sight anymore.

Very quietly, Theodore sneaked off to find Tom. With all four of Hornblower’s lot here and Will with Elizabeth, the closets were almost certainly free.

* * *

“Horatio had just finished rinsing himself off when, much to his fright, someone handed him a towel. Startled, he sloshed backward and stared up…to see the knight awkwardly leaning over the pool.

‘Ah…I noticed you didn’t have one.’”

“—a word, Will? I know this is a fairytale and so I’m going to ignore that the knight’s got a towel and Horatio the ever-prepared doesn’t, but where’s the porn?”

“Look, it’ll be there. But the cave only lets in the pure. Which is what Horatio regretfully told the knight after they’d had a long conversation punctuated by blushing and stuttering while Horatio got dressed. It turned out the knight had been stationed at the bridge to guard it till a tamer of animals came to get the magic crumpet. He thought that was Horatio, and the dogs and the cat were too busy snickering to disabuse him of that notion. Anyway, the knight was rather lonely, and also pretty good-looking once he’d tossed the armor for some normal clothes, so Horatio was feeling…sort of fluttery. But he was still determined!”

* * *

Puzzled, Alexander stared at the earpiece, which by now they’d gotten hooked up to a small speaker. “Determined to be what? A virgin in perpetuity?”

“Now we know it’s just a fairytale,” Archie snorted, collapsing back on Horatio’s shoulder. “That hasn’t been a problem since the…third day after we met?”

“Archie!” Horatio didn’t seem to know whether to look nostalgic, scandalized, or merely annoyed.

William, on the other hand, was starting to be suspicious. “This knight…”

* * *

“The knight was very disappointed, but after Horatio promised to swing back and pick up the knight after getting the crumpet, he cheered up and let them over the bridge. They exchanged addresses just in case something prevented that, and Horatio happily went off, musing on how distinguished the name ‘William’ now sounded. In his pack, Edrington muttered darkly about unfair advantages and not being able to wear his favorite boots. Richard seemed rather interested in licking at Harper’s head and muzzle, but Horatio assumed they were just playing.

They made good time, walking briskly during the day and always managing to find a quaint inn or at least a sheltering bush during the night. The sandwiches soon ran out, but the dogs were good hunters and Horatio, though he always got a bit greenish when he cleaned game, wasn’t a bad cook. Edrington mostly batted at butterflies, though he occasionally contributed a squirrel or two.

At last they were at the mountain. It was barren and cold, and Horatio shivered just looking at it. But then he remembered that a kingdom was depending on him, so he set his jaw and prepared to climb.

Richard and Harper accompanied him the first third of the way, but after that the ground grew too steep for their four paws, so they stopped on a wide ledge and told him they’d wait there. Horatio was sad to lose the company, but he forged onwards. Meanwhile, Edrington had wormed out of the bag and curled around Horatio’s neck; he was heavy, but he also made a good neck-warmer, so Horatio let him stay.”

* * *

“So he is useful outside of the bedroom,” William muttered, still irritated at being stuck at the bridge. Turner had some interesting ideas about their personalities, but that wasn’t one of them.

“I beg your pardon?” Alexander retorted, drawing himself up.

Before they could get any further into their quarrel, Horatio shushed them both. “Quiet! The crumpet’s coming up.”

* * *

“Tired, sore, a bit frostbitten, Horatio heaved himself up the last few inches and flopped onto the nearest patch of snow-free rock he could see. His fingertips were bloodied and he was so hungry—having eaten the last of his food about eight hours ago—that Edrington was beginning to look a distinct possibility.”

Eat him, indeed. You know, as much as Alexander does need a good taking-down once in a while, you’re selling him short. For one, you’re wasting his abilities in the bedroom.”

“Hey, we have a deal, remember? I don’t tell you which of my exes was the tightest and you don’t tell me about yours. Except when I need an advantage in a prank war. Where was—oh, yeah. So Horatio did a bit of passing-out.

When he woke, he was inside a lovely snug cave while a lovely reddish-blond worriedly watched him. ‘Oh, good. You’re all right,’ said the other man.

‘I didn’t realize anyone lived here. Sorry about collapsing on your doorstep; I probably gave you a bit of a fright.’ Horatio smiled rather nervously. For some reason, this made the man go pinkish and…look vaguely predatory.

‘Oh, it’s no trouble at all. Actually, I’m happy to finally have a visitor. I’m Archie, by the way.’ The man held out his hand.

Still a bit bashful, Horatio gathered the sheets around him—he must have really worried Archie if the man had gone through the trouble of stripping him to check for wounds—and shook the proffered hand. ‘Horatio. I’m—I’m here for the magic crumpet. You see, the king’s daughter is very ill, and she needs it to recover, so if you could just point me the way I’ll stop bothering…what?’

Archie manfully got his twitching lips under control. ‘Oh, nothing. I just happen to be the…ah…crumpet.’”

* * *

Looking as murderous as he could given that his arms were full of hysterical Horatio, Archie silently dared anyone else to make a comment on that. “Turner is going over the side, effective immediately.”

William tucked his chin into his chest, but a faint grin was still visible. “I think you may have to get in line for that.”

* * *

‘It’s a very long story involving Kitty the well-meaning but somewhat inexperienced sorceress and a childhood nickname I’ve never been able to shake,’ Archie hastily explained, somewhat alarmed by Horatio’s egg-eyed stare.

In fact, he was so concerned that he felt the need to move from sitting in a chair to sitting on the side of the bed and leaning very, very close to Horatio. Who, I’ll remind you, is stark naked beneath those sheets.”

“I love having a boyfriend with the same taste in men as me.”

“Thank you, Liz. So Horatio recovered after a moment, needed another moment to look for Edrington. Once he located his cat snoozing up to his pillow, he turned to the extraordinarily pretty man sitting in front of him and reminded himself that duty comes first. Even though now he could, if he wanted, count freckles.

He needed another moment. But then Horatio finally managed to ask, ‘So would you mind terribly coming with me and healing the daughter and possibly having a swim with me? Beside me. Somewhere in my vicinity. Oh, but I owe one to William…’

‘I’m sure we can work something out. I don’t mind more company,’ Archie purred, sounding a bit like Edrington.

So like Edrington, in fact, that Horatio had to check again to make sure his cat was still on the pillow. Edrington was, and Edrington looked fascinated by whatever was happening over Horatio’s shoulder. Being a curious fellow, Horatio turned around and promptly got his breath stolen from him. He fell backward, incidentally dragging Archie with him so the sheets slipped out of the way and—”

* * *

“Wait! Wait! Will’s telling Elizabeth porn involving us? He—they—” Horatio flailed.

For a moment, Archie looked supremely suffering. “You didn’t see that ending coming?”

“It’s not over yet,” Alexander interrupted, crouching down by the speaker. “Shhh.”

* * *

“—and it hurt rather more than he’d expected, but it was also much, much more delicious than he’d been told it would be. Especially when Archie got his knees out of the way so they could slide together that one last inch. Then Horatio wondered why exactly he’d had to avoid this for so long.

Of course, then they had an interruption. Someone shouted in a high and shrill voice, ‘Kennedy? Kennedy? It’s not nice to hide.’

Horatio yanked his mind out of its blissful submergence in Archie’s neck and chest and thighs and hands, observing that Archie had gone pale and stiff. ‘Who’s that?’

‘That’s the reason I’m hiding in this cave in the middle of nowhere. She won’t take a hint—” A huge shadow swung around the corner and in blank panic, Archie dove down to bury his face in Horatio’s neck.

This, plus the prick wonderfully straining his ass, made it rather difficult for Horatio to sit up, but his heroic instincts were snapping to attention and so he accomplished that, just in time to greet a monstrous anorexic thing of putrid green eyeshadow and long, clawlike nails painted sparkly.”

“That sounds a lot like the woman Jaime interviewed for the hostess position at his Chinese restaurant.”

“It is. My God, she groped me, flirted with James even after I’d tongued him goodbye, and then when Archie walked in, she actually tried to pounce him. Jumped off the chair and everything.”

* * *

Shuddering, Archie twined himself around Horatio, who rubbed soothing circles on his back.

“She had to have been no more than a high-schooler,” William said by way of explaining to Alexander, who hadn’t been in town that day. “Her older sister was actually the one who’d gotten the interview, but she erased the message we left on the sister’s answering machine and popped in first. Seems that she lives across the street from the restaurant and developed a bit of a crush watching the staff.”

* * *

“Anyway, bubblehead didn’t even notice Horatio, but instead ran straight for Archie. Horatio cast about for something, but his pack was across the way and Archie was still rather deep in him. Frantic, he snatched at the blankets and grabbed something relatively weighty, which he threw without hesitation at her.

Edrington wasn’t happy, obviously. But he dispatched of the nuisance nonetheless.”

* * *

“I’ve never seen him go that shade of red before,” Archie wonderingly noted. “Alexander?”

Who glared first at the speaker, and then at Horatio. “You. Threw. Me.”

“I did not!” protested Horatio. “It’s a story. A story! Not real!”

* * *

“…and after Archie had calmed down and gotten back to the business of deflowering Horatio…Elizabeth, are you done laughing?...and after they’d taken care of licking each other clean, helping each other dress, etc., Horatio thought he should apologize to Edrington. And probably offer him a piece of fish, or something like that. Whereupon they found an infuriated blond man who was interestingly lacking in clothing.

‘Oh, right. I should’ve mentioned that that’s how the magic works,’ Archie said, unashamedly eying the join of Edrington’s legs. The newly-uncursed major looked somewhat less angry.

‘We, er, bugger each other and you fix things?’ Horatio asked. ‘Oh. Well. I have no idea how I’m going to explain this to the king…and sorry about that, Edrington. But…well, we did uncurse you. And does this mean Richard and Harper are back to normal as well? They must be cold…’

Edrington snorted and stalked toward the bed. ‘If I know them at all, they’ve got a very efficient way of taking care of that. Now…’”

“Will? Wanna catch my cold?” Elizabeth’s hand stole very quietly into Will’s lap.

“…And Horatio learned all the manner of tricks on his way home. He also remembered to pick up Richard and Harper, now very fully male, and William, who was eventually reconciled to the thought of an extra-large bed. They all went to the king—well, Horatio and Archie and William, as the other three were actually from another country and had to get back to their posts—and Horatio and Archie screwed like jackrabbits while the princess watched. Needless to say, she made a complete recovery. And right, why not? I’ve had my flu shot.”

* * *

Horatio’s hand whipped out and he clicked off the speaker. “All right, I think I—we—have heard enough.”

“I’d agree.”

All of them jumped and turned around to show various degrees of guilt and embarrassment to James, who had his arms folded over his chest. “Back to work, gentlemen.”

After seeing that they did, in fact, go back to work, James returned to his office. He started to pick up the phone, then put it down. He could remind Will to debug the bedroom later.