Even after disappearing from Oxford on the job for six months, DI Green can’t entirely bring himself to go back to work. Someone else must have taken over, and of course he is recovering from a near death experience. He’s not quit the police, not yet, he’s just taking a break. Possibly early retirement, but probably not. He goes sightseeing, travelling around England seeing things he missed out on as a child, and by not having a gap year. He finds another small town with two enormous museums in and settles down. He likes the fact there’s very little drama, except where the Obsoleteum owner can’t get the funds to stay open, but he’s not doing anything illegal, so it doesn’t concern DI Green at all. He hears something vaguely worrying about swans and someone killing them all, but he’s not actively on duty, only sometimes helping the police, and in any case only deals with one crime at a time regardless of how serious other crimes that occur are. It could be Brian again. Brian probably didn’t stay in Little Witham, not after being correctly accused of murder but getting away entirely free. There is a possibility that he’s here. DI Green hasn’t seen Brian, but that doesn’t mean he’s not around.
He couldn’t have stayed in Little Witham. He murdered three people, and got away entirely without charge, but Lydia and Margot knew what he’d done. He moved from one impossibly small town with only three recurring characters to a slightly bigger town, but still not actually big enough to sustain the people there or their love of museums. Brian continues his research into what birds are considered water fowl, and which ones live solely on land. He hasn’t refined his tests much further, so he still mostly poisons the birds and then sort of boils them, but he has turned his studies towards swans instead of any birds he can find. It’s a lot easier to do this, now there aren’t three people stuffing birds in the town hall. No one seems to worry about the state of the birds in the town, or their rapidly declining numbers, and he’s been welcomed to the town on the understanding that he won’t be mocked if he doesn’t mock the weird robots that roam the town or the strange man with that key coming out of his chest.
DI Green doesn’t normally take things at face value. He couldn’t as a detective on some frankly weird cases where he pretty much always ended up nearly dying at the hands of the suspects, and that hasn’t gone away after temporarily leaving the police. When someone says they’ve invented a healing machine that will cure all ailments he always assumes something weird is going on. On top of that, his throat hasn’t really recovered from the goose attack so he does have several legitimate reasons for going to the Uptodateum. By the time he gets into the museum (can it really be called a museum if it’s up to date and if all the exhibits are so up to date they’re early?) there are already at least five hundred people in front of him. He joins the back of the queue and waits. He hears the sound of what he can only assume is an asthmatic duck and wonders if he’s getting auditory hallucinations as well as nightmares about waterfowl. He turns around when the person in front of him looks behind them at the noise and sees Brian. Holding a swan.
Brian’s not sure if he should run or not. That detective who (correctly) accused him of murder is standing in front of him. The detective he shot in the neck with a goose is standing in front of him looking a bit confused. He doesn’t look ready to arrest Brian, and with any luck he’ll currently be on a case and therefore unable to arrest him for murder because the detective only solves one crime at a time.
Is Brian going to launch another bird at him? It is possible. He does keep looking between Green and the swan he’s holding. There’s nothing he can do. Well, he could arrest Brian, but it’s been years and the mayor did ask him to find something to pin on the Obsoleteum owner so they could close down that other museum. Brian isn’t his priority.
The detective turns back around and moves forward in the queue. Brian lets out the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding, and stops mentally preparing to throw the swan.