Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Nine: Mental Health

“This past few weeks has almost been perfect.” Belle sighed as the leaves of the old gum tree left shadows across her face. “Ever since you established the Chamber of Commerce life in Pleasantville has gotten better for everyone.”

“Except Dan.” Charlie grimaced. “I give it another month before he storms out of the Knights of the Last Order again.”

“It'll be fine, once the baby is born he'll get over it.” Belle reassured her friend.

It had been several weeks now since the first victory over Demon with the Chamber of Commerce. Everything was going smoothly – except Sir Lionheart and his abrasive attitude.

“I hope you're right – for the baby's sake.” Charlie chuckled. Belle swatted him.

“How long until they admit it?” Peter put the curtain back and returned to his book, sitting in his comfy chair in the Masters lounge room.

“As long as it takes.” Lara shrugged, lying on the lounge.

“Anyway, the baby is only a month or two away. What's the worst that can happen?” Belle sighed as a cold breeze began to pick up.

Naturally, the next time Belle and Charlie went to the hospital, they walked into the iciest silence anyone had ever encountered.

“I think I might wait outside, it's warmer out there and it's negative six out there!” Charlie yelped. “Are you guys STILL fighting?!”

“Dan is now refusing to speak to any of us.” TJ told him. “Which doesn't bode well since he's our leader.”

“Honestly, I wish he'd stayed away.” Sammy said. “At least until he'd gotten his head together.”

“It's his first child and a complicated pregnancy.” Belle pointed out.

“I know, but even Judith is getting tired of him.” TJ said.

Sure enough, Judith chose that moment to kick the father of her child out of the room.

“I can't BELIEVE this!” Daniel cried angrily. “Oh, hi you two.”

“G'day Dan. Having a rough time?” Charlie tried to be sympathetic.

“Well THIS lot aren't helping!” Daniel snapped, turning to TJ and Sammy who were glaring at him.

“Well if SOMEONE would just pull his head out of his arse and realise he's not the only person in the Universe with problems then we'd be fine!” TJ shot back.

“Well MY problems are the most pressing right now!” Daniel snapped.

“Sunny still can't get a job, and Melody has gastro at the moment. Petunia is suffering from extreme overwork and is showing signs of falling apart. I think those are pretty pressing problems.” Sammy said evenly.

“Oooh, gastro, that's SO dangerous.” Daniel snapped.

“For a three year old, it can be.” Sammy told him. “Besides, if she came here and brought the gastro with her, she could put your baby in danger. So she's staying away.”

“Whatever.” Daniel said, although he was starting to look guilty. He stormed off to get himself some coffee.

“I don't understand. He used to be such a great leader, always putting us first.” TJ sat down.

“Something's changed, and I don't think it's just the baby either.” Sammy thought out loud.

Charlie blanched.

Daniel sat quietly in the café downstairs. Inside, he was churning up with guilt, anger, fear and exhaustion.

His first baby, and both they and his beloved girlfriend were in danger. Was this his fault, the Universe paying him out for murdering Wallace Dingbat? Was it punishment for being a bad leader of the Noble Knights of the Last Order?

He stared at his coffee, the smell making him nauseous. Everything was happening all at once, churning him up and wearing him out. He was irritable, moody and didn't want to be. Especially not to the friends who were backing him up.

But would they continue to back him up if they knew the truth?

“NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!” Giggles cried, chasing after Mobster Marion who was driving away with a sack full of jewellery.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!” Marion laughed. She was a lot more daring again now that Judith was in hospital.

“I don't object to you having pretty things, but you need to pay for them!” Giggles landed on the roof of the speeding car.

“NEVER!” Marion cried.

“Look, I really don't want to shoot out the tyres of this really, really nice car you have…especially as I don't think it's yours.” Giggles tried. “Can't you please turn around?”

Marion thought about it for a second. Suddenly the Lions Claw Blade was stuck out from behind a bin, hitting the front tyre of the car and spinning it out!

“I NEARLY HAD HER CONVINCED YOU IMPATIENT PERSON!” Giggles roared at Chuckles, who shrugged.

“I SPENT $5000 ON THESE TYRES!” Marion screamed in fury as she got out of the car.

“You got ripped off.” Chuckles pointed out.

“REALLY ripped off.” Giggles added.

“I mean you got EXTREMELY ripped off.”

“Mega-ripped off.”

“Ripped off and Ripped off 2.”

“All the ripped off and then some.”

“I GET IT!” Marion screamed.

“Oh lookie, the policeman is here!” Chuckles saw TJ approaching. “We'll see you next time!”

“Great. Just great.” Marion sulked as Chuckles and Giggles left. “Hey TJ. Have you seen Judy today?”

“Yeah, I was at the hospital this morning picking Petunia up.” TJ handcuffed Marion and took her to the police car. “Judy looks fine, the baby is fine too. A few more weeks and it'll be safe to give birth.”

“I do thank your wife for looking after my sister.” Marion ducked her head as she got into the car.

“She does her best.” TJ replied.

“On one hand, it's great that Marions mental health is starting to improve. On the downside, I really don't want to have to keep chasing her away from every shiny thing in Pleasantville.” Charlie took off his coat back at the tip.

“She's in better shape than Dan. I can't wait for the baby to be born.” Belle stretched her arms out over her head. “How's the COC going?”

“Great, we've established a solid dispute resolution process for both customers and businesses. Means we can look at every case on its merits and make sure everyone is protected.” Charlie said proudly. “How's Demon behaving?”

“The usual. Leering, hints, snide remarks…he needs to remember he's a married man.” Belle replied as Peter Masters drove up.

“You two going back to the hospital?” Peter asked.

“Nah, I need to get home and have a shower and finish off some paperwork.” Belle said. “Plus I need a lot of sleep.”

“Makes two of us.” Charlie agreed.

“Ah to be young and busy.” Peter chuckled.

Then Belle's phone went off.

“Hello? Oh no! DAD! We gotta get to the hospital, the baby is coming and it's not good!” Belle cried. “That was Sammy, we gotta step on it!”

“I'm on it!” Peter sped up and headed towards the hospital.

“I just hope everything is okay. I don't think it'd take much to push Dan to do something he'd regret.” Belle worried as the streets flew past.

Charlie didn't say a word.

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