Chapter One Hundred and Thirteen: Pulling Together
“And the evidence goes into the, evidence box, and the rejects go into the, waste bin…” Belle sang as she sorted out her desk. It was that kind of Friday afternoon, where nothing new really happened but you still had to look busy.
“You seem cheerful.” Helen walked over and looked over at Belles desk.
“I'm gunning for the International Acting Award this year.” Belle replied. “This place is so depressing since Giggles took out the main chandelier.”
“I know. I swear if I ever get a hold of that brat…” Helen looked murderous. Belle sighed and went back to her sorting, hoping like mad the guilt didn't appear on her face.
“MASTERS! Can I see you in my office please?” Judith Jofrey called out.
“Oh Belle, you're in for it now!” Helen gasped as Belle got up.
“I'll be fine.” Belle said shakily.
“Are you sure? I can come in as a witness for you.” Helen offered.
“I'd better go it alone. Thanks Helen.” Belle tried to smile as she walked to the office of Judith Jofrey.
“Good luck Belle!”
“Don't let her intimidate you Belle!”
“Remember to take notes in case it needs to go to HR!”
“You haven't done anything wrong!”
It was heartening to have her coworkers believe in her…until you remembered most of them were Death Valley Mobsters.
Belle walked into Judiths office and closed the door.
“Take a seat.” Judith offered. She wasn't sitting at her desk, but rather at a little coffee-table she had set up in the office for more causal discussions.
Belle sat in one of the comfortable chairs. Judith offered her a biscuit and some tea, and she accepted. Once the tea was poured and everything was settled, Judith began.
“I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm pregnant with Daniels baby.” Judith said.
Belle had to keep herself from squealing.
“You can relax, unlike Jones office, there's no way to listen in to conversations here. I made sure of that.” Judith smiled.
“THAT IS SO AMAZING CONGRATULATIONS!” Belle squealed out in one breath. “When are you due? Does Dan know? Is he excited? Are you moving in together? Is it a boy or a girl?”
Judith laughed. It was a natural, happy laugh that Belle had never thought Judith had been capable of. “I'm a little over a month along, so we don't know the sex just yet. Dan knows, in fact, I wanted to talk to you about that.”
“Is he still in a funk?” Belle asked. “We wanted to give him some time off from the Knights to try and clear himself up, and instead he's acting like the Knights kicked him out.”
“He's been happier since he learned of the pregnancy though, which is where you come in. I want all his friends to know about the pregnancy, and have a small party to celebrate.” Judith said. “Help him reconnect to his true self. I worry that his family connections could rear their heads and take advantage while he's down and out. Much like you're family connections are trying to take advantage of you working for the Council.”
“What is UP with that?! I think it's blatantly obvious that there's no way I'd be a Haunted Maze Trouper. How'd they even get the name Haunted Maze anyway?” Belle said, annoyed.
“They know that you're ahem, friends with me, and that your father recently became a Councillor. They want to make sure they can leverage the Council through those connections, in case Mayor Jones gets out of hand.” Judith told her. “That's how your father finally got into a Councillor position. Of course, they have no idea that you're the town vigilante.”
“How do you KNOW all of this?” Belle asked incredulously.
“Because I'm still very close to Demons office, enough so that I have enough information to piece together what's happening.” Judith replied.
Belle grinned. “Answers a lot of questions. Anyway, I'll talk to the Knights and we'll try to set up a party for Dan. They really, REALLY miss him.”
“I bet they do.” Judith smiled.
“I mean, they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY miss him.” Belle said.
“YOU JUST RUSHED IN, NO PLAN, AND NEARLY GOT US ALL KILLED!” Sunny screamed at Sammy, who also had his hackles up.
“LIKE YOU HAVEN'T RUSHED IN BEFORE WHEN YOUR STUPID BROTHER WAS INVOLVED!” Sammy screamed back.
Context: Sir Hyper had led the rushed defence of a pharmacy against a pack of Haunted Maze Troupers. It hadn't gone well until Chuckles and Giggles had stepped in.
Now, the screaming match at the tip.
“The leadership of this group is appalling.” TJ grumbled.
“Well I didn't see YOU doing anything!” Tammy fired.
“It's not his job!” Petunia shot back.
As the yelling got louder, Chuckles and Giggles flew in.
“You wanna tell them about Dan NOW?” Chuckles looked at the carnage, thinking a hot chocolate and a good movie was a better option.
“WHAT ABOUT DAN?” The whole Last Order yelped.
Chuckles and Giggles took a second to compose themselves.
“I spoke to Judith yesterday at work. She and Dan are having a baby.” Giggles pulled off her helmet.
Four gobsmacked Knights glared at her. Sunny just looked at Belle with wide eyes.
“Did I say something wrong?” Belle asked.
“OUR Dan knocked up the sister of Mobster Marion?!” Sammy cried.
“I mean, I'm happy if he's happy…?” Sunny mumbled, looking confused.
“He's an idiot! What did he go and do that for!?” Petunia groaned. “Way to give Marion a path straight to us!”
“Hey, to be fair I work under Demons nose all day and he still has no clue at all who I am off the clock.” Belle pointed out.
“Working for someone is different than being family!” TJ roared.
“Ahem.” Sunny cleared her throat.
Suddenly things got very, very, VERY awkward.
“Right…sorry Sunny…” Petunia mumbled.
“But you don't consider Demon your family, do you?” Tammy asked.
“I still speak to my Mum sometimes. She likes to see Melody.” Sunny said quietly. “We're not close at all, but she's still my Mum, to a point.”
Sunny looked close to tears, and the old scar under her eye stood out. Belle rushed to hug her and Charlie scowled at the rest of the Knights.
“If Dan is happy, I'm going to be happy for him. We should be encouraging love, not breaking up families. I just keep hoping one day what I say will get through to Mum and we'll have another ally.” Sunny kept back the tears, and buried her face in Belles shoulder.
“Way to go guys.” Charlie folded his arms and glared at the Knights.
All of them looked subdued.
“We should throw a small party for Dan.” Sunny suggested. She looked at Sammy.
“Yeah, he'd like that. He'd be part of us again.” Sammy gave her a timid smile.
“Belle, you could talk to Judith about having it at her place right?” Sunny asked. “I don't think Dan would come to a party if we hosted it.”
“Good idea.” Sammy said. He and Sunny smiled at each other awkwardly.
“Okay then.” Belle sighed. “Anyway, Dad should be here soon, let's go Charlie.”
Belle and Charlie walked away, leaving the Knights feeling rather subdued.
“I guess we've been a little stupid recently.” Sammy started.
“Yeah. Especially us leaders.” Sunny replied. She sighed. “I guess I really can't understand how you guys feel. I love Dan, and I the respect I have for him…but I didn't grow up with him as my leader.”
“Yeah, you got the short end of the stick there.” TJ patted her back.
“I think we're all pretty upset about Dan leaving us in the lurch, and we took it out on each other.” Tammy piped up.
“From now on, I think we should take a minute to talk to each other first.” Sammy suggested. “Not just us leaders either. From now on, we protect Pleasantville with a plan – OUR plan.”
He grinned at Sunny, who grinned back.
“Now, can we talk about Dans party? I mean, he's going to be a Dad!” Petunia said excitedly.
The Knights quickly busied themselves with organising a baby bash – a bash to hopefully get their beloved leader back.