Chapter Fifty-One: Sticks and Stones

Petunia was made for nursing. Ever since the days of playing with the boys and Tammy back in school she'd always been the one to bandage them back up again after they'd inevitably managed to injure themselves.

"Karate practise again?" One of the older nurses at the hospital where she worked asked kindly as Petunia folded clean linen.

"Pretty much." Petunia chuckled, looking at a few of her new bruises. Technically, karate HAD been involved, only it'd been more directed at Mobster Marion the day before – a dry-cleaning accident had sparked another outrageous overreaction by Pleasantvilles local prima donna.

"Marion, I understand you're upset, but calling in a helicopter strike over a ruined dress?" Lady Courage tried to reason with the irate Mobster Marion who was bright red with fury. Today, she was trying to destroy a dry-cleaning establishment for ruining a dress. Heretics.

"THIS DRESS WAS MY FAVOURITE! IT COST ME A FORTUNE!" Mobster Marion screeched back.

"In man-power to steal it maybe." Giggles had quipped dryly.

"I loved that dress!" Mobster Marion started sobbing as Lady Luck rubbed her back.

"It'll be okay." She soothed the irate villian.

"Really?" Mobster Marion hiccoughed.

"You look like a complete cow in everything you wear so what's the loss of one dress going to hurt?"

"You really need to be more careful." One of the other nurses said, waking Petunia from her brief daydream. "Someone your size won't heal quickly."

The words were meant kindly, but Petunia had to resist the urge to flinch. Her weight was still a very sore point with her – she wasn't drastically overweight, but her large frame and extra baggage was noticeable, no matter how healthy and fit she tried to be.

"To be fair, at least you're only practising. Have you SEEN that Knight, Lady Luck?" Another younger nurse piped up.

"Oh. My. God. I never thought the world would ever see a chubby superhero, but there she is!" Another nurse joined in the gossip.

"Not that she actually does much, I daresay that extra weight holds her back!"

"Not someone I'd want protecting me, that's for certain."

"I need to go and make my rounds, I'll be back." Petunia quickly made her way out of the storeroom and headed out to check on her patients. There was nothing wrong with her, and there certainly was nothing wrong with Lady Luck! She knew her limitations, that's why she stuck to healing her fellow Knights if they fell, that's what they loved her for. So what if she didn't go out and fight directly, she still did her fair share and copped a fair amount of abuse for it, her various bruises and scrapes were testament to that!

Still, they didn't know. They were as ignorant as everyone else in the city, Petunia supposed. She wheeled her trolley of supplies to the first door, ready to check on some young men who were in there after a foolish joy-ride in one of their cars.

She pulled out some bandages, and couldn't help overhearing what they said.

"It's the fat one again."

"Blow! Oh well, best be nice to her, probably doesn't get much male attention."

"Her own fault for not losing weight."

Petunia had to count to ten and take a breath. She had a boyfriend! A boyfriend who was a police officer too – TJ had followed in his fathers footsteps and was currently a junior officer for the Pleasantville Police Force.

She sighed. She supposed she should be used to it, stuff like this happened all the time, but it always somehow managed to get under her guard and wound her ever-so-slightly – and all those wounds added up over the journey.

Picking up the bandages, she went in to change dressings and clean up any mishaps. It was her job after all, even if she wasn't appreciated.

"Okay, the dry-cleaning I can understand. I can cop the ruined shoes. The botched jewellery I even sympathised with. But because they overcooked your steak slightly?!" Lady Courage looked dumbfounded at Mobster Marion and her band of Emerald Mobsters, who were trying to destroy a high-class resturant that overlooked Lake Pleasant.

"I LIKE MY STEAK RARE!" Mobster Marion snarled. "Today is my BIRTHDAY and these morons RUINED it!"

"Happy Birthday!" Giggles beamed.

"Thank you!" Mobster Marion smiled back.

"How many centuries old are you now?" Giggles followed up.

"Did you REALLY need to poke the bear?" Chuckles facepalmed.

"It was just so tempting!" Giggles argued.

"DESTROY THEM ALL!" Mobster Marion roared in anguished fury.

"Well, bear's been poked. Now what?" Sir Dark sighed as he prepared to see off an Emerald attack.

"At least if she's taking out her angst on us then she's not blowing things up." Lady Luck pointed out.

"Works for me!" Chuckles pulled out his beloved Lions Claw Blade and rushed at Mobster Marion, who had her short-sword out ready for him. The swords clashed and the battle was on!

"I don't understand why you bother with Ruby or Emerald power against me, you know it doesn't work!" Giggles floated above the scene, antagonising the Emerald Mobsters.

"Easy Giggles, don't absorb too much or you'll be ill!" Lady Luck hissed.

"I'll be careful, promise." Giggles saluted her friend.

"Why don't you get in and fight instead of leaving it all to Giggles then? Too fat for your own good?" Mobster Marion overheard the conversation and snapped at Lady Luck.

Something snapped inside Petunias head. After hearing jibes about her weight all day, this last insult from Mobster Marion was too much. She glared at the Mobster, before throwing down her first aid kit and rushing angrily at the woman who insulted her.

"LADY LUCK!" Sir Dark screamed. Lady Luck was no match for Mobster Marion, who quickly knocked her out cold with one hit.

"Wha…Where?" Petunia opened her eyes. She went to sit up, but several pairs of hands stopped her.

"You need to lie back and rest young lady. No more karate for you!" She heard the voice of her senior nurse, stern but gentle.

"You copped quite a nasty knock to the head. You'll need to rest for a while." Another nurse said.

Petunia blinked. She was in the hospital, in bed.

How embarrassing.

"Where's Teddy?" Petunia mumbled.

"I'm right here you silly girl." She could hear the exasperation in TJs voice and see the worry in his face as he leaned over to kiss her. "What were you THINKING?"

"I really don't know. I just got so angry…" Petunia sighed. Her head was throbbing and her arm felt heavy. Probably broken.

"We'll leave you two alone." One the two nurses smiled, and the pair left. Petunia looked towards the window, where morning light was streaming in.

"You didn't stand a chance against Marion. She dealt with you in thirty seconds flat." TJ sighed. "Thankfully Chuckles stepped in and stopped her from finishing you off. However he did manage to ruin her new dress, so she'll be after blood next time."

"She's such a cow. A stuck-up, pretentious, spoilt cow." Petunia replied. "She's great entertainment value though."

"You should have seen her face when Lady Courage told her to learn to sew." TJ chuckled. He stroked her face tenderly.  "Is there anything you want to talk about?" He asked quietly.

Petunia put her hand over his, but couldn't meet his eyes. "I'll be okay." She whispered.

TJ looked at her, concerned. Wisely, he decided to say nothing. This was something that Petunia had to work out for herself in her own time, her own way.

Suddenly a small stampede burst into the room, or so it seemed.

"Are you okay Tuney?" Sunny cried.

"You were so awesome going after Marion like that!" Sam grinned.

"It was a foolish thing to do!" Tammy disagreed with her twin.

"I'm just glad you seem to be on the mend." Daniel patted Petunias shoulder.

"Is it REALLY necessary for all us Knights to hang out and do EVERYTHING together?" Webster raised an eyebrow, having been dragged along by his fellow Knights.

"YES." Was the resounding reply.

Some things you just don't screw with.

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