Chapter Ninety: How Long Must We Sing This Song?

“So, do I really want to know the logic behind kidnapping Belle?” Daniel asked one sunny afternoon as he stood with Judith Jofrey on Pleasant Dam.
“Demon wanted revenge on Peter for alerting the authorities to the presence of the Ruby Suit.” Judith replied. “He put a hit out on Belle.”
“And your sister just happened to be the first to get to her?”
“Not really. It's a long story. Suffice to say your friend annoyed quite a number of people during her ordeal.”
“Knowing Belle I'm not really shocked.”
“She's your friend!”
“Doesn't mean she can't bore me to death.”
Judith did her best to suppress a giggle. “Anyway, you're in luck. Everyone seems to be united in their annoyance with her, for now.”
“And that means?” Daniel raised an eyebrow.
“No mischief for a while.” Judith replied.
“I doubt that.” Daniel frowned. “The Troupe are always looking to sell their drugs and cause trouble. The Crusaders will probably be looking to strike you guys first. Roger will still be pissed about Mark.”
“Do you EVER take a break?” Judith wrapped her arms around his neck. “You don't have to be the big leader all the time.”
“Can't help it.” Daniel hugged her back. “Unfortunately when you're the oldest of a rag-tag group of kids, you become their leader and you'll always be their leader.”
Judith looked up at her boyfriend. She felt like there was something that he wasn't telling her…
“A-And then…Roger just shoves me into the Trouper…and he's all “She's YOUR problem now!” and ran off!” Belle howled with laughter as she told Charlie how she had talked herself to freedom. “And the Trouper just looks at me, which is when I told him all about the beginnings of the Haunted Maze Trouple fifty years ago in Brisvegas…”
“Which I do NOT need to hear about!” Charlie laughed with her.
“I honestly don't get them.” Peter shook his head, looking up at the tree where the friends were chilling out.
“I don't either.” Thomas sighed.
“I'm glad you're safe though. I was worried there for a while.” Charlie said as the laughter died down.
“I was fine. I just figured if it was enough to get you to tune out, it would work on anyone.” Belle grinned. The grin slid off her face as she turned to look at the slowly flowing creek.
“You okay?” Charlie asked.
Belle sighed.
“The government doesn't care. No one cares except us. Why are we even bothering? Nothing's going to change.”
Charlie blinked.
“All the government cared about was getting their suit back. The people here are still so willfully ignorant. Why don't we just give up?” Belle continued.
“Belle, these things take time.” Charlie told her. “The government might not care, but they can be made to care.”
“The government has people campaigning in the opposite direction to us. People with money and power and influence. We can't fight against that.” Belle groaned.
“We CAN!” Charlie cried. “It's been done before!”
“Everything is working against us.” Belle sighed. “And what do we get for our trouble? Attacked. Kidnapped. Ostracized.”
“We're gaining allies Belle! It's hard, it's slow, but we have to do it!” Charlie took her hand. “We have to make a difference. This isn't just a Pleasantville problem, but if we can fix it here then maybe others will take heart and fix their problems too!”
Belle turned to look at the creek again.
“We need to do this together Belle. You, me, the Knights, your Dad…we all need to keep working together.” Charlie begged her. “If Chuckles and Giggles give up, your Dads arguments start ringing hollow.”
Belle sighed again.
“Please Belle?” Charlie looked quite pathetic. “Without you, I'm nothing.”
Belle laughed, scaring Charlie.
“YOU are nothing without me?” She scoffed. “Charlie, if it wasn't for you I'd never get off my butt to do anything! I'd be too busy procrastinating all day!”
“You got your degree by yourself!” Charlie pointed out.
“As a form of procrastination. If I had a choice to stay at University and do nothing but study I'd take it in a heartbeat. Alas, I have a best friend who keeps me on my toes, who motivates me and who keeps me optimistic.” Belle grinned.
Charlie smiled back.
“You're right of course.” Belle looked towards the creek again. “I just get disheartened so easily.”
“It's not going to be a quick process. You've said so yourself.” Charlie put a hand on her shoulder. “I mean, you've told me a million times about how certain interests lobby the government and that most people don't care as long as it doesn't affect them. Well, we're gonna make them care!”
Belle grinned at him.
“Wanna go out and make ourselves visible?” She asked.
“Absolutely.” Charlie replied.
So Chuckles and Giggles headed out into Pleasantville…a wise move in the end!

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