Punching The Mirror In Its Stupid Face
rating: +37+x

A fit bearded man, hair tied neatly back, strode purposefully into a café, nodding to the owner. Clapping his hand on a redheaded woman's shoulder, he sat down across the table from her. "Well, what's the craic? Thought our lad Paddy kicked all you fuckers out a few hundred years ago."

She glared but with laughter in her eyes. "Yeah, well, we have our Ways, you Jailor bastard. Besides, he was a vanguard for Catholic colonialism. And not even the first."

He accepted a cup from the café owner and nodded thankfully at the man before turning back to his friend. "Aye, that's what I'm here to talk to you about."

She smiled sarcastically and raised her eyebrows in faux-interest, as he reached for something in his jacket pocket. "Catholic colonialism?"

He rolled his eyes and overdramatically pulled his free hand down across his face, pulling gently at his beard. "No, you goon. I need a Way."

He pulled a flask from his pocket and started to unscrew it as she faked sadness. "And here I thought you were meeting an old army buddy for a cup of coff- did you just put rum in your coffee?"

There was genuine shock in her eyes for a fleeting second. He looked up, closing the flask again. "It's white hot chocolate. You know I hate coffee."

She looked at him hard. "Who puts rum in white hot chocolate?"

He kept his face carefully neutral. "Me. It's not a lot."

She sighed and looked sad again. He knew she wasn't joking this time and he looked away. He hoped he wasn't blushing. He moved the conversation along.

"I need a Way. Alt universe stuff. Shouldn't fuck up anything you're working on."

She put on a haughty face. "Oh, and why should I, an upstanding member of the magical community, help one who would lock us in cells for the admittedly indefensible crime of being different?"

He laughed a little, trying to cover his embarassment. "Same as always, you wee snake. Because I'm not locking you up, and because it's fucking important."

She asked her usual question, knowing the answer. "Have your bosses started to turn their heads to the idea that normal may not be quite what they think?"

He gave his typical response. "As if any boss ever had their head anywhere but their arse. But we can work together." Sipping at his hot chocolate, he continued. "I need a Way. I believe I have the necessary will. Are you going to facilitate it or not?"

She looked suddenly mischievous. "I suppose I must, for the sake of cooperation and brotherhood between the mundane and magical communities. But it shall surely be a great task, a-"

He interrupted, offering a manila folder. "Here are the details. What's your price?"

She took the folder and looked inside, growing intensely thoughtful as she read. "Mmm. This could take a while. I'll gather the materials, and you'll have to pay me then. I hope this is worth it. I'm going to have to stop working on some stuff for this."

He nodded. "It will definitely be worth it, and you'll be paid."

She looked up at him again, searching his face - and a little more than just that, by the suddenly strange light of her eyes. "You're more interested in this one than usual. Less detached. But you're trying to be?"

He let his neutral face drop, showing his exhaustion and worry. "I don't mean to hide anything from you that I'm allowed to tell you. I have a personal stake in this one. I suppose to some extent, that means you do as well, if you want to."

She smiled a little, almost sadly. "You know I do. And you know honesty was never a problem between us."

He matched her smile. "Aye. More the opposite, in fact." He grew a little more serious. "Listen, we'll need someone to come through and make sure we can get back through the Way again. Will that be you?"

She brightened up and so he did too. "Sure. I'll have to put my work on hold for the duration, but it's nice to get out of your own universe every now and again."

"What are you working on these days anyway?" he asked, waving at the owner for another drink.

"Oh, y'know. Cosmetics. Glamours for the bescarred. And, uh, addiction, medicine things," she trailed off, realising what she had brought up.

"…I'm cutting back, y'know. It's not as bad as it was. Only the odd shot every now and then. Not that I'm not grateful." He tried to cut through the awkwardness.

"Tell me this much… What about today?" She looked intense and worried again.

He sighed. "I'd say seeing you was a special occasion, but this operation has me stressed. There are implications."

She smiled at him but went right back to worrying. "Best have it done quick so. I'll need two days. Then we can go through." They both nodded, and idly chatted some more as they finished their drinks, before leaving to go over their mission documents again.

Mission Barthes Overview

Enter timeline R-zayin-H-517/6, confirm entry thereof, contain potential cross-universal-influence type anomalous humanoid as designated by Project Turtledove.

Threat level low. Designated target not thought to be combat capable, apparently does not possess significant information on Foundation activities.

Project Turtledove lead will then observe any cross-timeline effects before assigning new missions as necessary.

Target timeline and humanoid details attached.

A blond businessman spoke into his phone on a busy street. "Bravo-One moving on target now. Charlie, can you run the lights?" Dropping the phone into his pocket, he cut through the crowd, walking up behind an overweight, bearded, long-haired civilian, who was waiting to cross the road.

An aging boy racer car with the flagrantly illegal license plate "DIKFUK69" skimmed onto the pavement, scaring several people before driving away. Bravo-One pulled the already backpedaling civilian back further, discreetly contact-tasing him and lowering him gently. The car was already gone by the time anyone realised the civilian was on the ground.

A couple of people looked shocked, but Bravo-One was already on his phone again. "I need an ambulance to the Marshes. No, the other side. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know, he just fell after he nearly got hit by a car. I'm a first aider, he'll be ok until you get here." The concerns of those few who had looked back were assuaged by this.

"Alpha acknowledges. We should make it in three."

Soon the civilian was strapped into the back of an ambulance. The agent in charge leant over him and grinned humourlessly.

"Nice work, lads. Get everyone back to the Hole. The Snake's waiting for us."

The agent sloshed a bucket of cold water over the wooden chair and the sleeping civilian tied to it. "Wake up, fuckhead."

"FUCK." The civilian nearly jumped out of his skin, knocking the chair over sideways and taking himself with it. "Fuck me. That was fucking sore. Who the fuck you are you?"

The agent stood the chair up again from behind, not bothering to see to the civilian's comfort. "Don't jump on the floor then, you absolute gobshite. You're tied to a chair, you shouldn't be even capable of jumping on the fucking floor. But, no." The agent sighed and began pacing, his shoes loud on the stone floor. "Fucking everything up again. You have no idea how much fucking trouble you're in here. Do you even know where you are?"

The civilian tried look around, insofar as any man could without moving his body at all. Stone floor. Shitty school-yellow walls. No visible windows. Shitty flourescent lighting.

"Last I recall, I was on my way to my doctor. Now I'm not there. Unless they've cut the staff budget again. Who the fuck are you, and what do you want?"

The agent paced behind the civilian's chair. "I want to tell you a story."

The civilian just looked confused and angry, water dripping from his hair and beard. "I've got a fucking email address, y'know."

The agent leaned in behind the civilian to speak. "Ah, but you don't check it, you lazy prick."

The pacing began behind the civilian again as he responded. "Facebook then. Regular post. Whatever. Tying me to a chair is a complete overreaction…" The civilian tested his arms against the restrains. "I haven't done anything wrong and here I am like the fecki-"

The agent spun and spoke quickly. "Fuck facebook and fuck you. We're not friends. Did you think we were friends? Friends don't kidnap friends, tie them to chairs while they're asleep, then throw a bucket of water over them do they?"

The civilian sighed. "I've known some lads tha-"

The agent clasped a hand to his face. "Do you ever shut the fuck up?"

The civilian shook his head, spraying water from his hair. "You keep asking me fucking questions and throwing water on me! What in the fuck do you expect?"

The agent sighed, pacing again. "Fuck you."

The chair wobbled as the civilian struggled some more. "Aren't you the very personification of eloquence?"

The agent spoke with cold menace now. "Shut the fuck up, and listen to my story. I've had enough of yours."

Confusion overtook anger entirely in the civilian's face. "What? What in the name of fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"I said, shut the fuck up." The agent punctuated this line with a dispassionate slap to the civilian's back of the head. "You have no idea who I am. You have no idea who you are. I am going to fucking tell you."

The agent paced some more then began. "Once upon a time there was an awful gobshite. He wrote some fucking stories on the internet, and they all sucked - but some of them stuck around long enough for him to make an author page. I believe you should be with me so far?"

The civilian turned his head back and forth to try and follow the agent's pacing. "Not sure how this is relevant to fucking anything, but, yes, I follow. I write shitty internet fiction sometimes. Get the fuck on with it."

"He made a joke character. Himself as an agent. Irish army to military intelligence, bar brawler, alcoholic." The agent stopped pacing and leaned down behind the civilian's head, talking directly into the civilian's ear as his head turned slightly, bracing for a punch. "Very… Fucking… Funny!"

The civilian barely jumped. "Is there a point to this?" he asked, "I'm getting fucking cold from the water you threw on my head, you prick."

The agent began pacing again. "Tell me. What would you do if your existence was just a joke? Your entire existence, nothing but to amuse some kind of cosmic absolute bastard?"

The civilian laughed wild and loud and long, the agent stopping halfway through his stride and staring in surprise. "Given the situation I'm in now, how in the fuck would I know any different, you absolute prick? You fucking wank…" The civilian's insults trailed into more hysterical, raucuous laughter, his shaking threatening to tip the chair again.

The agent seethed silently, watching the civilian's laughter turned to tears and sucking sobs and gasps for breath.

He growled and stepped forward to directly behind the chair again. "Do you think this is a fucking joke?"

The civilian calmed down long enough to say, "Isn't that what you just said it is? I don't know what the fuck you want with me. I don't know what the fuck the SCP wiki has to do with anything. Are you going to kill me or what?"

"What the SCP wiki has to do with anything is that it's real. You're in the SCP universe now. With the guy you created and gave these fucking problems." The agent finally walked in front of the civilian, leaning down and staring into his own face for the first time. "Why should I not kill you now?"

Mission Barthes Final Report

Despite the apparently successful operation, the civilian ████ "Tombstone" Tuomey from timeline R-zayin-H-517/6 appears to still be active. Investigation continues as to what happened, but we seem to be making very little progress. The prevailing hypothesis is that we simply did not reach the correct timeline - and, in fact, we may not be able to.

Agent Tuomey insists his SH contact is unimpeachable, and our instruments did not detect any anomalies beyond the Way she opened. Everything we had indicated that we reached the right timeline, and DNA testing proves beyond a doubt that we grabbed the right civilian.

The implications are perhaps disturbing, but largely beyond the scope of this report. It seems that we have somehow failed in success. Operational security was not compromised and no injuries were sustained.
However, I am recommending psychological evaluation of Agent Tuomey due to personal involvement leading to a frankly excessive amount of violence towards the subject.

- Regional Field Director Smyth

A fit, bearded man, hair loosely tied back, stumbled into the café, brushing a stray strand of hair out of his face as he nearly bumbled into a waitress. He sat heavily in a chair across from a redheaded woman, who sighed as he slumped onto the table.

"Looks like you need to get some sleep, Jailor," she said, staring at him.

"People don't come to cafés because they want to sleep, Snake," the man responded, leaning back, hands clasped on the table, as the same waitress left a white hot chocolate in front of him. "Quite the opposite, generally," he continued, meeting her eyes for the first time.

She smiled a little, and put her hand on his arm.

"Seriously, let yourself rest, it's been a month," she said, moving her hand on top of his.

"Aye, well, resting's the problem," he said, gently taking hold of her hand. "I stop distracting myself, and I start thinking. And y'know I can't take the fecking memory drugs."

Her eyes widened. "They offered?"

"Well, the shrink recommended it before I directed him to read my medical history properly." He sipped his drink one handed. "It's no help when they don't care to know what they're doing. I doubt the drugs would help anyway."

"You never know," she said, as one did in these situations.

He shook his head. "Apparently I may just be predisposed to this sort of mood. Your man - me - the other me… he was not exactly a happy man."

"Well. If this is just you. I think you're doing pretty well, generally speaking,"

"Snake, I killed an innocent version of me just because I thought he caused my life."

"…oh," her voice was smaller now.



The background of the café washed over their silence.


Eventually she grimaced and said, "Well, that was, perhaps, less than healthy-" He laughed gently and bitterly and she glared at him before continuing. "But in general you've held it together pretty well over the years. Army, G2, Foundation, and all of the implied bullshit haven't broken you." She took both his hands now, and leaned forward to look directly into his eyes. "Don't let this."

He began to smile, but looked away. "What do I have if I can't trust myself?"

She squeezed his hands. "You have me. And you know they should never have put you on that operation. It would've fucked with anyone's head."


"No fecking perhaps about it. You're off duty for a while right? Recuperative or whatever?" He nodded, still looking away. "Look at me. Up here, you fuck."

He looked up and she spoke as intensely as he'd ever heard her. "We're going to take a holiday. And you might not feel better anytime soon. And you might have recurrences. But you'll always be worh it."

He smiled properly, for the first time in a month. "Promise?" he asked.

She gently whapped his forearm. "If you're worth the Jailors, you're worth anything, you gobsheen. Finish your drink, we've got Ways to go."

Elsewhere, a tearful girl with brown hair down to her waist, stuck another poster to a pole. His family were no help, but she would do this every day. Soon it was every week, then every month. Eventually she gave up, as he had surely given up on her if he were still alive. She would still raise a glass in his name, once in a while.

In a chat room, people told each other it was the last day for someone to return, or his name would deregister, and he'd have to be promoted again. Their chat bot took messages for him, and didn't deliver a single one. The community carried on, mentioning him only as another member who came and helped and disappeared. Perhaps two were moved to tears but most moved on; communities are bigger than any one man.

An unpaid landlord contacted a mother, who was at first annoyed and then afraid, and then angry. She went and spoke to the police, who promised to do all they could. She stayed angry and they did nothing, because there was nothing to be done.

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