Author: Crofton77

Chapter One Hundred and Eighteen: Privilege

Charlie stretched and yawned, toothpaste drooling from the side of his mouth where his toothbrush hung.

“Charming look there.” Betty frowned at her son as he picked up the mail and looked through it.

“Hmmmpph…HMMMPH!” Charlie found a letter addressed to him! “Hmmmppphhhhh hmmmph!”

“Whatever that meant.” Thomas watched as Charlie bolted back up the stairs.

Charlie came back down a minute later fully dressed and toothpaste cleaned up.

“It's a letter from the PRO!” Charlie waved it around.

“Have you actually READ the letter?” Thomas asked drily.

Charlie grinned sheepishly. “Might be a good idea eh Dad?”

“My son the font of intelligence.” Thomas sighed as Charlie tore open the letter. “Well?”

Charlie scanned the letter, his face falling.

“Well?” Thomas asked again.

“There's only ten business owners in the PRO. I mean, they've all pledged their support…but only ten?” Charlie slumped.

“It takes privilege to own a business Charlie, you know that.” Thomas said. “A lot of the PRO don't have that privilege, which is why they want change.”

Charlie growled. He picked up his wallet, phone and keys and stalked off.

“See you later too.” Thomas frowned at the slammed door.

“PRIVILEGE. My arse.” Charlie grumbled as he sat with his friends at the tip as Daniel prepared to hit the ball out of the country.

“He's right though.” Belle said.

“Oh get off it Belle.” Charlie snapped. “All you need to open a business is hard work.”

“And the right skin colour.” Sammy piped up before bowling an extremely nasty bouncer.

“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!” Daniel roared.

“Oh come ON.” Charlie groaned. “I know the cops are racist but you can't blame everything on racism!”

The fight stopped before it even started as everyone stared at Charlie.

“You're coming with me.” Belle grabbed her best friend by the ear.

“Ow ow ow!” Charlie cried as Belle dragged him away from the group.

“I can't believe you!” Belle cried as she threw him into a pile of old bikes. “You were in my BP class, and you STILL say stuff like that?!”

“Belle-,” Charlie started.

“You KNOW that trying to register a business in Pleasantville is down to whether or not City Hall likes you!” Belle snapped. “And you REALLY think they'd let someone of colour register a business?”

“Sammy's parents run the garage!” Charlie tried to defend himself.

“They RUN it, they don't OWN it!” Belle cried, exasperated. “They tried to buy it years ago and got blocked!”

“Well that's not because of the colour of their skin!” Charlie fought back.

“YES IT WAS.” Belle snapped. “I've read the documentation.”

“Well, my Dad was hated by City Hall, but HE managed to open up his own business!” Charlie tried.

“At THAT point, Jones didn't have half the power he has now for a start, plus your father went all the way to Brisvegas to get the money required.” Belle countered.

“So why aren't these so-called less privileged people doing that then?!” Charlie tried.

“Don't be an idiot. Do you know how many days it took for your father to get those loans and approvals?! The only reason you didn't starve while he was gone is because you owned the house you lived in and didn't need to pay rent!” Belle pointed out.

Charlie winced.

“Charlie, our families have it really easy compared to most. Both of our families have homes that were paid off generations ago, so we don't have to worry about a roof over our heads, and if we get desperate we can get loans against the houses. A lot of people in Pleasantville don't have that. Look at how hard TJ and Petunia have it. They've been saving up for years, but still can't buy their own home.”

Charlie felt the familiar feeling of the Improbability Clause in the back of his brain as all the pieces came together to tell him he was an idiot.

“So you look at someone of colour in Pleasantville. They have next to no chance. Those are the bulk of the people in the PRO.” Belle sat down.

Charlie sighed. He knew that Belle was right, and he owed Sammy a huge apology.

“I guess I still have to learn not to be racist after all.” He said.

“We all do.” Belle replied.

Charlie got up and headed back to the group, who had resumed hostilities.

“Maybe if you'd learn how to actually hit the ball you wouldn't have to worry about a bouncer!” Sammy yelled at Daniel.

“Maybe if you'd learn how to actually bowl you wouldn't have to resort to bullying tactics!” Daniel fired back.

“Hey guys.” Charlie said.

“Hey Charlie.” Sammy and Daniel said, before returning to trying to kill each other.

“Get him Sammy!” Tammy cheered.

“Get over it!” TJ fired at her.

“You know, maybe we should wait it out before your grand apology.” Belle scratched her head.

Crusader Daryl Jones was sulking.

“I mean, trying to poison Roger?” He heard Alex on the other side of the wall laughing. “What an idiot.”

“Yet had it been any one of us, we'd have been killed where we stood. Daryl just gets away with it because of who his Daddy is.” He heard Alice say bitterly.

“That's all he is really, a Daddys boy who never got told no in his life.” Alex said.

“Well, he's getting an education here, that's for certain.” Aiden said.

Daryl continued to sulk. He hated all of them! The moment he figured out how to get rid of Roger, he'd then get rid of the rest of them!

He just had to find a way to do it that wouldn't get traced back to him.

“And so I'm sorry for what I said. I was way out of line.” Charlie said to the group who had finally stopped trying to kill each other again.

“It's ok.” Sammy shrugged.

“It isn't.” Charlie sighed. “This whole time all I've been worried about is getting revenge on Demon for messing up my business. I forgot there's a bigger picture here, and that bigger picture means making things fair for everyone.”

“It's okay, really. We're used to it.” Sammy said.

“Well, you shouldn't be. No one should be.” Charlie said. “And if I have privilege, then it's up to me to use it responsibly and make things right.”

“Exactly.” Belle said.

“And I know you guys can do it.” Tammy smiled. “We're gonna land the first blow on the corruption in Pleasantville!”

“Yeah!” The team cheered together.

Charlie grinned, but inside he chided himself. Just because he didn't want to be a racist, it didn't mean there weren't parts of him that were racist. It was up to him to be on the alert and make those changes to not be racist.

Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen: Planning Stages

 Charlie had his head firmly in a book while Belle ate her seafood pasta.

“ARGH WHAT THE HECK?!” TJ screamed as he walked into Bills restaurant and saw the scene in front of him.

“I know, I freaked out too.” Bill said as he heard the screaming.

“I am not okay with this!” TJ carefully sat down with his friends.

“Charlie is looking up what we need to do to get the Chamber of Commerce up and running.” Belle explained. “And brushing up his Business Principles degree.”

“DEGREE?!” TJ cried.

“Charlie's had his BP forever!” Belle pointed out. “He was in my BP class at school for pete's sake.”

“I can't deal right now.” TJ sulked as Tammy and Sammy walked in and the screaming started again.

“You know it's really hard to study with all this noise going on.” Charlie frowned after the freak-out had subsided, which led to another quieter freak-out.

“Anyway, we've figured out that we need at least 100 signatures from business owners in the Pleasantville Council Region, which includes Fallsville, Greensville, Oakville and Treesville.” Charlie continued as Belle started slurping up strands of spaghetti.

“Given that there's a fair few business owners who are also pro-PRO I think we have that covered.” Belle shoved a prawn into her mouth.

“The big thing after that is the committee election, which is where things could fall apart.” Charlie sighed. “We can't let Demon become the head of the committee, otherwise it's just going to increase his control of the city.”

He grimaced a little as Belle kept talking with the others. Charlie had an especial hate for Demon, who not only had killed Charles Howzat. Charlies beloved grand-father, but had also fired Thomas Begly a few months after Charlie had been born. It had left the Begly family struggling until Thomas and Peter Masters made up and Thomas had been able to Improbability Clause up the family business.

There was also the matter of Daryl Jones. Charlie and Daryl had hated each other since they were toddlers, and before meeting Belle and the Knights of the Last Order Charlies life had been a living hell. Having your bully live nearly right next door made life harder than it needed to be, especially since Demon had never sought to pull Daryl into line. Every time Betty Begly had stormed over to report on another of Daryls actions in an attempt to defend her son, she had always been brushed off. Once she'd tried legal action, but that got thrown out the moment the judge (who had been paid off) looked at it.

Also on the list of things Charlie hated about Demon was Demons own daughter, Sunny, who had been abused by her brother for years. Again, Demon had turned a blind eye to the actions of Daryl. This particularly rankled Charlie who had once held strong feelings for Sunny.

Charlie knew he had to win this and get the first real blow against the corrupt City Council. The only problem was…well, that he wasn't Belle. Charlie loved his best friend dearly, but he was also in total awe of her drive and intelligence. Belle would have told anyone that Charlie was just as intelligent, if not more intelligent than herself, but Charlie would never believe it as long as he lived.

If I was Belle, all this study would be easy. Charlie sighed to himself.

“Hey, you're looking a bit down.” Belle clued in immediately to how her best friend was feeling. “Why don't you put that all down and come play some cricket with us?”

“I dunno…” Charlie looked over his paperwork as the others tried not to freak out too loudly.

“You guys go on ahead, we'll catch up.” Belle rolled her eyes her friends, who were at least able to look sheepish as they headed out.

“You got this mate. I know you do.” Belle touched Charlies cheek once the others were outside.

“I'm gonna need so much help though…” Charlie admitted.

“And I'm going to be right here the whole way through.” Belle kissed his cheek. “Come on, it's not like your batting average can get any worse.”

“HEY!” Charlie slammed his book shut and chased Belle.

“She kissed his cheek! They HAVE to be together!” Sunny watched the pair through the restaurant window.

“Honey, I hate to inform you but that means nothing. We're the most over-affectionate group of friends in the world, remember?” Petunia grinned. “I mean, these guys kiss each other all the time!”

“Affection between friends should be more encouraged!” Sammy gave TJ a kiss on the cheek. TJ hugged him back.

“Come on you lot, let's find Dan and have a cricket match!” Belle and Charlie had already rushed well ahead of the pack.

Daryl Jones wasn't very good at planning. He had grand aspirations, and no idea how to get there. So his first plan to get revenge on Crusader Roger didn't go well at all.

“I made you some tea, sir.” Daryl carried a teapot and a cup to Rogers office and knocked on the door.

“Bring it in.” Roger waved Daryl in. “Have you seen this? Begly Metal Services boss has decided to try and get a chamber of commerce going in Pleasantville.”

Daryl grimaced.

“Didn't you used to live next door to him?” Roger poured some tea.

“I lived next to the Masters. They live next door to the Beglys.” Daryl bit back his anger.

“Ah.” Roger said, stirring the tea. “He's doing really well for himself isn't he? And here's you, making tea for a criminal mastermind.”

Daryl seethed internally, doing his best to hold his poker face. “We took different paths in life.”

“Indeed. You can go now.” Roger leaned back in his chair.

Daryl turned around and made to go.

“Oh, and Daryl? Next time you try to poison me, make sure it's with something I can't smell a mile away.” Roger threw the cup at Daryl's head, cutting the back of his head open.

Daryl hissed.

“You're not a good actor at all, and you're not clever enough to think up a way to get rid of me. Don't try again.” Roger continued.

Daryl stalked out, furious. Not only had he failed to get rid of Roger, but now Charlie Begly was doing better than him.

Daryl swore that they would ALL pay. Dearly.

One Hundred and Seventeen: Planning Stages

 Charlie had his head firmly in a book while Belle ate her seafood pasta.

“ARGH WHAT THE HECK?!” TJ screamed as he walked into Bills restaurant and saw the scene in front of him.

“I know, I freaked out too.” Bill said as he heard the screaming.

“I am not okay with this!” TJ carefully sat down with his friends.

“Charlie is looking up what we need to do to get the Chamber of Commerce up and running.” Belle explained. “And brushing up his Business Principles degree.”

“DEGREE?!” TJ cried.

“Charlie's had his BP forever!” Belle pointed out. “He was in my BP class at school for pete's sake.”

“I can't deal right now.” TJ sulked as Tammy and Sammy walked in and the screaming started again.

“You know it's really hard to study with all this noise going on.” Charlie frowned after the freak-out had subsided, which led to another quieter freak-out.

“Anyway, we've figured out that we need at least 100 signatures from business owners in the Pleasantville Council Region, which includes Fallsville, Greensville, Oakville and Treesville.” Charlie continued as Belle started slurping up strands of spaghetti.

“Given that there's a fair few business owners who are also pro-PRO I think we have that covered.” Belle shoved a prawn into her mouth.

“The big thing after that is the committee election, which is where things could fall apart.” Charlie sighed. “We can't let Demon become the head of the committee, otherwise it's just going to increase his control of the city.”

He grimaced a little as Belle kept talking with the others. Charlie had an especial hate for Demon, who not only had killed Charles Howzat. Charlies beloved grand-father, but had also fired Thomas Begly a few months after Charlie had been born. It had left the Begly family struggling until Thomas and Peter Masters made up and Thomas had been able to Improbability Clause up the family business.

There was also the matter of Daryl Jones. Charlie and Daryl had hated each other since they were toddlers, and before meeting Belle and the Knights of the Last Order Charlies life had been a living hell. Having your bully live nearly right next door made life harder than it needed to be, especially since Demon had never sought to pull Daryl into line. Every time Betty Begly had stormed over to report on another of Daryls actions in an attempt to defend her son, she had always been brushed off. Once she'd tried legal action, but that got thrown out the moment the judge (who had been paid off) looked at it.

Also on the list of things Charlie hated about Demon was Demons own daughter, Sunny, who had been abused by her brother for years. Again, Demon had turned a blind eye to the actions of Daryl. This particularly rankled Charlie who had once held strong feelings for Sunny.

Charlie knew he had to win this and get the first real blow against the corrupt City Council. The only problem was…well, that he wasn't Belle. Charlie loved his best friend dearly, but he was also in total awe of her drive and intelligence. Belle would have told anyone that Charlie was just as intelligent, if not more intelligent than herself, but Charlie would never believe it as long as he lived.

If I was Belle, all this study would be easy. Charlie sighed to himself.

“Hey, you're looking a bit down.” Belle clued in immediately to how her best friend was feeling. “Why don't you put that all down and come play some cricket with us?”

“I dunno…” Charlie looked over his paperwork as the others tried not to freak out too loudly.

“You guys go on ahead, we'll catch up.” Belle rolled her eyes her friends, who were at least able to look sheepish as they headed out.

“You got this mate. I know you do.” Belle touched Charlies cheek once the others were outside.

“I'm gonna need so much help though…” Charlie admitted.

“And I'm going to be right here the whole way through.” Belle kissed his cheek. “Come on, it's not like your batting average can get any worse.”

“HEY!” Charlie slammed his book shut and chased Belle.

“She kissed his cheek! They HAVE to be together!” Sunny watched the pair through the restaurant window.

“Honey, I hate to inform you but that means nothing. We're the most over-affectionate group of friends in the world, remember?” Petunia grinned. “I mean, these guys kiss each other all the time!”

“Affection between friends should be more encouraged!” Sammy gave TJ a kiss on the cheek. TJ hugged him back.

“Come on you lot, let's find Dan and have a cricket match!” Belle and Charlie had already rushed well ahead of the pack.

Daryl Jones wasn't very good at planning. He had grand aspirations, and no idea how to get there. So his first plan to get revenge on Crusader Roger didn't go well at all.

“I made you some tea, sir.” Daryl carried a teapot and a cup to Rogers office and knocked on the door.

“Bring it in.” Roger waved Daryl in. “Have you seen this? Begly Metal Services boss has decided to try and get a chamber of commerce going in Pleasantville.”

Daryl grimaced.

“Didn't you used to live next door to him?” Roger poured some tea.

“I lived next to the Masters. They live next door to the Beglys.” Daryl bit back his anger.

“Ah.” Roger said, stirring the tea. “He's doing really well for himself isn't he? And here's you, making tea for a criminal mastermind.”

Daryl seethed internally, doing his best to hold his poker face. “We took different paths in life.”

“Indeed. You can go now.” Roger leaned back in his chair.

Daryl turned around and made to go.

“Oh, and Daryl? Next time you try to poison me, make sure it's with something I can't smell a mile away.” Roger threw the cup at Daryl's head, cutting the back of his head open.

Daryl hissed.

“You're not a good actor at all, and you're not clever enough to think up a way to get rid of me. Don't try again.” Roger continued.

Daryl stalked out, furious. Not only had he failed to get rid of Roger, but now Charlie Begly was doing better than him.

Daryl swore that they would ALL pay. Dearly.

Chapter One Hundred and Nine: Chuckles Musings

 Today it was Charlies turn to stand at the Pleasant Dam and look out over Pleasantville, his mind ticking over like an engine ready to blow.

So many things didn't make sense to him. Like why, even though Dingbat had been murdered, were people ignoring his many faults and jumping directly to replacing him? Weren't they even going to investigate WHO killed him? Or was that just going to be another one of Pleasantvilles dirty little secrets.

Then there was Belle and Lara. How had their relationship mended so quickly? Belle had said that between a mother and a daughter sometimes things just didn't need to be said. Masters, they were so EMOTIONAL…

And speaking of the Masters Clan, why all of a sudden were Harold and Lady poking about? Surely they would have known they would have zero chance of winning Belle over to the Haunted Maze Troupe, not after how much effort she had put in to trying to bring Demon Jones down. If anything, they'd want Belle dead. That wasn't even touching the fact that Belles alter-ego was none other than Giggles the Great Defender, and if they'd known THAT little titbit it'd be on for young and old.

But the one thing that was troubling Charlie the most was – you guessed it – Daniel and his behaviour over the past week or so. He was the only one who hadn't stood by TJ at the big police funeral for Wallace Dingbat, he was acting out, he was avoiding everyone…Belle believed that he was just exhausted after yet another setback, and while Charlie could definitely relate – they all could – it just didn't seem like Daniels character to just give up. He was the leader of the Noble Knights of the Last Order, and he had nearly always been the one to provide order and poor batting.

Charlie sighed. Maybe it was just that being a leader had finally worn him down, just like it had when the flood had hit. Charlie wasn't certain though. He rubbed his face, his beard scratching at his hand. He just didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle, he needed Belle for that. Belle had already given him every scrap of information that she'd been able to source.

Still, it would be nice to have her here to bounce ideas off. She was out with her mother and sister, doing shopping for a family picnic that they were holding that weekend. Charlie sighed, and was just about to leave when Daniel appeared.

“Hey Charlie. You come here to think too huh?” Daniel walked over, looking a little pale, a little tired.

“Yeah, but it doesn't really work without the other half of the Improbability Clause here.” Charlie grinned as Daniel leaned on the guard rail. “You look absolutely wrecked mate. Anything I can help with?”

“Just tired and fed up of everything.” Daniel sighed. “It just feels like I can't do anything right.”

“Oh, I hear you 100%.” Charlie chuckled. “Just ask Belle.”

Daniel grinned, but the grin didn't make it up to his eyes.

“I was pretty impressed when you told us you're the heir to the Silent Lake Gang.” Charlie continued. Daniel looked surprised. “I mean, your whole childhood would have been based around being groomed to take over, even after your parents died. To turn your back on that and lead the Knights of the Last Order…mate, that takes GUTS!”

Daniel smiled, this time looking a bit more genuine. “It was them, really.”

“Them? Oh, you mean the others?”

“Yup. Before the private school shut down, the public school was tiny. There was barely anyone to make friends with. TJ and Petunia started school not long after my parents died, and I think their saviour complexes got the best of them. TJ has always wanted to be a cop and protect the innocent, and Petunia is just the most mothering and beautiful soul. That's why Sammy and Tammy latched onto us.”

“Sammy said Tammy latched on to Petunia because she was so kind, and he looked up to you especially. You've always kinda been his hero.” Charlie said, looking out over Pleasantville. “He'd do anything for you.”

Daniel nearly told him. He nearly told him that the great Sir Lionheart who everyone loved and admired was nothing more than your everyday killer. He nearly admitted that he was the criminal that he had been raised to be.

He didn't, but boy did he want to.

“You and Belle are two sides of the same coin.” Daniel chose to brush it all off instead. “Thanks for the chat.”

“No problem.” Charlie stretched. “And good timing, Giggles is here to give me a lift!”

“Hiya boys!” Giggles landed between the two. “Coming Chuckles?”

“Sure am!” Charlie pulled on his beanie and tied a scarf around his face. “Later Dan!”

“See yas.” Daniel watched as they headed towards the city. He couldn't help himself though. “Three…two…one…”

Do I really need to tell you what happened next?

It was still on Chuckles mind as he watched the new Inspector Andrew Haiter was sworn in at a rather overdone ceremony a few days later. Next to him, Sunny had once again stepped up as Giggles.

Belle was standing with the rest of the Council employees, and in front of them were the Counsellors, with Peter Masters standing behind Judith Jofrey. TJ was standing perfectly still in the police ranks, and Petunia was standing in the crowd.

Chuckles wished like crazy he had his best friends ability to see all the little parts of the situation that he couldn't. No matter how hard he tried, he never seemed to notice the tiny little details that made the difference. Even from where they were standing on a nearby building, the real Giggles would have been able to pick out interesting little details that when put together would perhaps reveal a clue to what their next move should be.

But hey, Chuckles grinned to himself, if he could do that, it wouldn't be the Improbability Clause anymore, would it?

Later, he caught up with the real Giggles as she finished putting her costume on.

“So, what did you see at the ceremony?” He asked her as she pulled on the Backpack.

“The police weren't in a great formation, half of them were bunched together a little closer, although it wasn't too obvious. TJ is pissed, he was in charge of the formation. Demon looks like a pig in mud, hope he falls down the stairs one day, and I swear Haiter has the perfect poker face.” Giggles finished fastening up the Backpack.

“There's a divide now in the police department. We just have to find the battle-lines.” Chuckles deducted.

“Also Dad didn't look to healthy.” Giggles added.

“He drank waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much beforehand.” Chuckles finished his deduction.

“Sounds fair. Come on, let's go.” Giggles picked him up and the pair flew over the city.

“I spoke to Daniel at the dam recently.” Chuckles said as they soared through the air.

“So did I. Did you get the feeling there was something he wanted to tell you but didn't?” Giggles maneuvered over a power pole, nearly smashing Chuckles foot into it.

“WATCH WHERE YOU'RE FLYING!” Chuckles roared.

“I AM!” Giggles shot back. “Did you even hear what I asked?”

“I DID!” Chuckles snapped. He thought back to his talk with Daniel. “Yeah, I think I did. Do you think he's gonna quit the Last Order?”

“I don't know. It really seems like he needs a break from it.” Giggles landed on the Pleasantville First Bank. “But…”

“There's something else going on.” Chuckles finished her sentence as a plane flew overhead with a “BELLE MASTERS SHOULD JOIN THE TROUPE” banner on it. “I just don't have enough pieces of the puzzle to figure it out.”

The pair sank deep into thought for a minute.

“Maybe we should suggest he takes a break.” Chuckles mused.

“That would be a good idea. Why don't we run it past the Knights first? It's technically their area after all.” Giggles suggested.

“Even better!” Chuckles grinned.

The pair hugged, before taking off and flying right into the “BELLE MASTERS SHOULD JOIN THE TROUPE” banner.

And then falling into the lake.

“That's actually a good idea.” Sunny smiled as Belle emptied her Giggles helmet out onto the ground of the tip.

“Who's gonna be the leader of the Knights in his absence though?” TJ asked.

“Sammy or Sunny.” Tammy said.

“In that case, I vote Sunny. She's older and more experienced than I am.” Sammy said.

“Except one thing – I'm a parent, and I'm not always going to be able to get out.” Sunny pointed out.

“Unless it's the Crusaders and Daryl is around.” Charlie teased.

“That's a special case.” Sunny shrugged with a grin.

“Maybe two leaders then.” TJ suggested.

“That would work!” Sammy said.

“I think that would be great!” Petunia added. “Two heads are better than one!”

“Two heads are better than one for what?”

Everyone looked as Daniel walked over, still looking tired.

Chapter One Hundred and Three: People Don't Like Change

Hot, stinging tears fell down the face of Belle Masters.

Everything was going wrong. Fights were breaking out all over the city between people who supported the PRO and people who supported the PCC. Demon was loving it. Now TJ had been arrested too, although Belle was pretty certain those charges of him attacking his superiors was an out and out lie.

“All we need now is for the DVM, the Crusaders and the Troupe to come in and take advantage.” Belle sulked. She was sitting in the tree, and the hot, humid weather was just making her feel even MORE miserable. “This is all our fault.”

“Hey Belle. You okay?” Charlie carefully crawled into the tree from his bedroom window. “You look like you're about ready to give up.”

“I'm just frustrated. We're working so hard to make this city a better place and the citizens we're trying to protect are the ones who have turned on us!” Belle groaned.

Charlie sighed.

“Charlie?” Belle asked.

“I know you're frustrated with the situation Belle, and believe me, I don't blame you one bit for that. But you have to understand where the PCC are coming from.” Charlie told her.

“What are you talking about?” Belle raised an eyebrow.

“Change Belle. Change.” Charlie said. “I think I know where the PCC has spawned from.”

Belle looked confused. Charlie sighed again.

“Belle, even I can admit that I am terrible when it comes to change. Like when you started uni and I started dating Sunny. I couldn't handle how it changed everything, and how everything was going to continue to change.” He said.

“But you went to Awesomica. That was a huge change.” Belle pointed out.

“Running away from change you mean.” Charlie chuckled. “It was me trying to escape the consequences of us potentially moving on from each other.”

He sighed again and looked up at a flock of birds that was flying into the sunset.

“People are afraid of change. They're much easier with the devil they know, and that's Demon. Demon is the epitome of everything that Pleasantville has been since it's inception, ruled by crime, and if that changes who knows what comes next.” He explained. “Plus, while the PRO from the outside looks like it legitimately wants to change Pleasantville, you can't deny that what it's striving for, and what we are striving for, will leave a bit of a power vacuum in Pleasantville, at least until it sorts itself out. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if some more nefarious types are backing the PRO in order to remove Demon, the Mob and the Crusaders from power in Pleasantville just so they can take it themselves. I mean, I think there are people in the PCC who want crime gone too, but all they can see is that power vacuum being created and someone even worse coming along.”

“I knew it. We should never have started meddling in things.” Belle began to cry again.

“But if we hadn't, things wouldn't be happening!” Charlie protested. “You have been SO weepy recently!”

“Shut up!” Belle snapped.

The pair looked at each other, before backing down.

“Demon is doing just fine. He's getting between us no problem.” Belle slumped.

“We can't let him. Pleasantville is on a knife-point. Things could explode at any second.” Charlie sat down next to her and put his arm around her.

Belle sighed a heaving sigh as she tried to calm herself.

“I think the first thing is to get us back on the same page. I tried to keep you from Demon because I thought he would get to you and you would do something we'd regret, but that was wrong of me and now he's using that to try and get to me.” She hung her head. “I'm sorry.”

“Hey, I had the same idea as you. Only I was scared of Demon, and of my own guilt when it comes to what happened to Grandpa.” Charlie admitted. “I was a coward.”

“You're not though. You're wiser than anyone I've met.” Belle told him.

“WE'RE wiser.” Charlie reminded her. “You're the one who finds all the pieces of the puzzle that I can't see. I just put them together.”

The pair smiled at each other. Then they both groaned as another hot blast of wind scalded them.

“This heat isn't helping the situation at all. Everyone is irritable because they're too hot and sticky, and they're more likely to take things the wrong way and start a fight instead of a conversation.” Belle groaned.

Charlie pricked up his ears.

“Improbability time?” Belle asked.

“Improbability time!” Charlie grinned back.

“Will you LEARN TO KNOCK before entering?! Oh, and there's two of you. Brilliant.” Demon looked up from his paperwork to see both Chuckles and Giggles staring down at him. “Don't you have some capitalism to fell?”

“It's actually quite scary how close thievery and capitalism are, but no, your little friends have been very good recently. Except the Haunted Maze Troupe and we still don't know what their issue is or what they're even doing.” Giggles said.

“They're drug dealers and trouble-starters. Of course they love to mess with everyone.” Demon pointed out.

“Know that from your former drug dealing?” Chuckles bit.

“ANYWAY!” Giggles quickly interjected. “We want to use the Pleasantville Sports and Community Centre for a city meeting between the PRO and the PCC.”

“With air-conditioning.” Chuckles quickly added.

Demon grinned.

“With absolute pleasure.” He smirked.

“The Noble Knights of the Last Order will be guarding it, so don't think you can cause trouble with the Mob or the Crusaders.” Giggles warned.

“The Mob are laying low until they get their opening, and you know I have no control over the Crusaders, no matter who is in their ranks.” Demon said with a note of bitterness, which was satisfying to hear.

“Make sure that air-conditioning is working and it's a nice, pleasant temperature in that centre or else.” Giggles warned. “Come on Chuckles, we're leaving.”

“I do hope you've paid your respects to your grandfather recently. It's coming up to that time of year, isn't it?” Demon said smugly.

Chuckles flinched, before following Giggles out of the building. Giggles sighed sadly – the chandelier still hadn't been repaired – before walking out into the street.

“It's no where NEAR that time of year.” Chuckles snapped as Giggles lifted him up into the air.

“Don't worry about him. He's a butt.” Giggles replied.

“A powerful butt who happens to run the joint.” Chuckles groaned. “I hope we know what we're doing with getting the PRO and the PCC in the same building.”

“We have to do something. The whole city is a powder-keg right now, and it's getting hotter and hotter.” Giggles replied. “I must admit, it's nice up here.”

“I love flying.” Chuckles grinned.

“I hope you like falling too.” Giggles joked.

They lasted two more minutes before falling into the creek.

“I spy with my little eye-,”

“Sam, if you keep this up I swear I'm going to arrest you again.”

TJ and Sam were bored out of their skulls. Since the mass release of everyone who didn't deserve to be in prison, things had gotten very quiet. In fact, TJ and Sam were the only ones left in their whole cell block, which meant they were the only two people they'd seen apart from the odd guard.

“I know Belle and Charlie are working on getting us out.” Sammy tried. “They have to be.”

“There's a LOT on their plates right now. The whole city is just waiting to turn into a war-zone.” TJ told him. “Honestly, I think they'll have to calm that down first, otherwise there's going to be trouble if we get out.”

“It sucks. I hate this.” Sammy pouted. TJ put his arm around his friend and put a small kiss on his forehead.

“It'll be okay. Petunia and Lizzy are out there waiting for us.” TJ tried to brighten the mood up.

Sammy smiled as he thought of Lizzy. Then his face crumbled.

“Lizzy finished school and I didn't get to go to the graduation!” He began to cry. TJ blinked, and began to cry too.

Gaol sucks.

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