Chapter Thirty: My Best Friends, Part 2.

 Chuckles sighed. Alongside him, the Knights of the
Last Order were standing around looking bored. Meanwhile, Ruby
Giggles was singlehandedly making life hell for the Death Valley

It had been a week since Ruby Giggles triumphant
debut, and she was only getting stronger. She'd learnt how to form
Ruby Shields which were strong enough to keep even the Lucky Seven
Gun at bay, and her aim with the Ruby Shards was deadly.
Chuckles sighed and examined one of the Arm
Scythes. Lady Courage checked her watch. Sir Lionheart and Sir Dark
were playing on their Game Pads, and Sir Hyper was sending text
messages to Lady Luck and Lady Silent, who were back at the tip
preparing for any injuries.
“She finished yet?” Sir Lionheart looked at
his watch.
Chuckles looked over. “Yeah, the DVM have run
away.” He got himself up off the wall.
Ruby Giggles grinned to herself. She felt strong,
powerful, relevant. She didn't need anyone!
She swooped down to join the others. “How good
was that?” She bragged.
“Saves us a job.” Lady Courage scowled, which
made Ruby Giggles feel even better. Antagonising her rival was
always good fun.
“I'll catch you guys at the tip!” Ruby Giggles
soared off.
“Wait! Giggles!” Chuckles ran after her, but
she was gone. “What happened to being a team? She always used to
fly me back to the tip.” He pouted.
“The Backpack always gave out and she nearly
always dropped you.” Sir Dark pointed out.
“THAT'S NOT THE POINT!” Chuckles wailed. “No
one understands me.”
“You're starting to sound like Belle.” Lady
Courage raised an eyebrow as Chuckles dissolved into hysterics.
“Hey Uncle Bill. Hey Pa. Hey…Dad? Who's
this?” Belle walked into the house that afternoon. She had just
dropped her bag on the table when she noticed Lara sitting there,
holding hands with her father.
“Beauty, this is my friend Lara Vargus.” Peter
introduced his daughter to his new girlfriend.
“Hi…?” Belle was a bit dumbfounded. She'd
known that Lara existed, she'd known that her father was seeing a
woman, but now she was actually MEETING her fathers friend?
“Hi Belle. Your father has told me a lot about
you. You're going into Law too aren't you?” Lara shook hands with
the younger woman.
“Yeah. Criminal Law.” Belle looked quickly
at her father, who was grinning.
“Belle is doing her University studies part-time
alongside her Year 12 studies.” He said proudly, making Belle blush
a little.
“How smart!” Lara smiled pleasantly.
Belle felt rather uncomfortable. In eighteen
years Peter had never had girlfriends. Not even female friends.
Belle had no idea how she was supposed to behave.
“I'm just trying to make a difference.” Belle
shrugged, figuring modesty was the best way to go.
“Lara and I met through work – she does Family
Law.” Peter tried to edge the conversation along.
“Yes, he told me about what happened to you,
very interesting from a legal perspective.” Lara smiled.
Belle tried not to scowl. Even after all this
time, the thought of what she had been through still hurt. Lara
quickly realised she'd said something wrong and tried to make amends.
“But that's in the past, you've grown up to be
quite a grand young person even without your mother.” Lara put her
foot in it again.
“I need to go and study.” Belle stomped
upstairs, leaving her father bewildered.
She dumped her bag by her wardrobe and closed her
door. She then flopped down on the bed and sighed. She rarely
thought of her absent mother, or her maternal grand-parents who had
only appeared on the scene after her mother died. She didn't even
know her mothers name.
And now her father was in love again. Was Lara
going to try and be Belles mother? Did Belle even NEED a mother?
Betty Begly had always been like a mother to her, even after the
whole Charles/Sapphire affair.
Belle looked outside. Charlie and the others were
sitting outside near the old rotted stump, talking about something.
Now she was on the outer with her friends too. Belle began to wish
she had never started University. If she'd stayed in school
full-time then Charlie would never have had the opportunity to get
close to Sunny (who he now had his arm around), she would still be
getting all the jokes and having fun still. Instead she was
constantly studying and trying to keep her grades up so she could
stay in University.
At least she was going to make a difference.
A knock on the door woke her from her thoughts.
Joe walked in and sat down on the bed next to her.
“After the war, Tim and I had a huge fight –
it's how I got the scar on my lip. Charles took Tims side of course,
and I didn't speak to either of them for two years, even though I
lived next door to Tim and our sons were best friends.” Joe sighed.
“We only became friends again when Thomas lost his little brother
Jack – Jack and Bill had been inseparable, and Tim was devastated
to lose his youngest son.”
“It seems the Masters and the Beglys are always
having fights.” Belle pointed out. “Dad and Thomas had one too
didn't they?”
“Yep, but only one. Ever since that fight both
Pete and Tom have been inseparable again. Ever since the fight I had
with Tim we were the greatest of friends again – one could say our
friendship was even stronger for the argument.” Joe smiled. “You
and your friends will work this out, it might take a little while but
everything will be fine.”
Belle tried to smile back, but it was hard when
all her friends were sitting there happily without her.
“Why don't you go out to play?” Joe suggested.
“Surely you can take a break from the constant study?”
“I have a couple of assignments due for school
Pa, and if I fall behind at school I'll lose my University place.”
Belle pointed out.
“You're as bad as your father.” Joe shook his
head. He kissed his grand-daughters head and got up. “Staring out
that window isn't going to help you study or make you feel better.”
He pointed out.
He closed the door as he left, leaving Belle to
her thoughts.
“It's good to be home, isn't it boys?” Tim
sighed and stretched out in the sun next to Pleasant Creek. Young
Peter was playing with young Thomas, and it looked like Delilah was
pregnant again.
“Sure is. No more jungle fighting or
hand-to-hand combat.” Joe sipped his beer.
“What are you talking about, you never fought at
all!” Charles laughed as he set his fishing rod again.
“I didn't kill anyone you mean. I got in plenty
of fights thank you.” Joe frowned.
“What, while you were hiding?” Tim sniped.
“I was gathering intelligence!” Joe tried to
defend himself.
“You were hiding in a village trying to avoid
getting into a fight!” Tim corrected him. “I don't know why you
bothered signing up, you did absolutely nothing.”
“I saved your lives! If I hadn't come along
when I did you would have both bled to death in the jungle! If that
bullet had hit you instead of my cheek then you would have been done
for!” Joe pointed to the nasty cut on his cheek, which was still
being held together with stitches. “I only signed up to protect
you two.”
“So that no one would realise how much of a
coward you are.” Charles stated.
“My orders were to wait in that village!” Joe
yelled. “You could have stayed too.”
“We wouldn't abandon our mates like that.” Tim
stood up. He was still very wide, and very short. “Charles is
right, you ARE a coward Joey, and you use your loyalty to the Masters
Code as an excuse.”
“Can you NOT say that in front of my son?!”
Joe growled.
“What, you want him to be a coward too?” Tim
spat. “I used to look up to you Joe, but you let me down.”
“That is complete and utter rubbish!” Joe
“I don't see you proving it.”
“I don't need to. I don't have to spill blood
to prove myself like you do you short moron.” Joe hissed.
CRACK. Tim punched Joe hard in the mouth,
splitting his lip open with his wedding ring. Joe glared back at him,
but said nothing – the old scar, the healing scar and the new scar
all combined to make him look hideous and for a split second Tim
regretted striking his best friend.
“We're leaving.” Joe said, seething. Delilah
quickly gathered up Peter and the small family left.
Joe flicked through his old photo album. He
missed Tim and Charles. He wondered when his time would come.
He wondered when he would be forgiven.

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