Chapter Twenty-Eight: Ruby Giggles
“We lost the Lions Claw Blade.”
“Then we lost the tree.”
“And now the Lucky Seven Gun.”
“Yup, yup and yup.”
“Can this get any worse?”
“You're optimistic, aren't you?” Charlie scowled at Belle, who was sitting on the old tree stump.
“I think given the rubbish we've been through this past year, we deserve a bit of pessimism. LIFE SUCKS.” Belle replied.
“Most of it we kinda brought on ourselves.” Charlie tried to reason.
“I don't see how your grand-fathers death was our fault, I don't see how we could have stopped the flood, I don't see how we could have stopped Johannas from murdering my aunt and I don't see how the University was in any way our fault.” Belle pouted.
“Technically it WAS our fault that Grandpa died – if it wasn't for us, there wouldn't have been a Demon in the first place.” Charlie tried.
“Oh come off it.” Belle got up and walked away. She already felt like a coward for giving up the Lucky Seven Gun so easily, she didn't need Charlies guilt-trip on top of that.
Charlie watched her retreating back. Ever since she'd started University things had been different. She started studying more and talking strangely, about apathy and group-think and protesting and making their voices heard. Weren't they already doing that? Weren't they already fighting? Why blame the citizens of Pleasantville for what was going on, why not blame the real bad guys?
Charlie jumped a little as Sunny and Tammy walked over.
“Hey guys. Where's Petunia?” He smiled and gave both of them a hug.
“She's signing up for some program that will help her fast-track into a nursing career.” Sunny replied, while Tammy grinned. “And tomorrow Tammy is going to start trying remedial speech again.”
“You're going to try to talk again?” Charlie asked. Tammy made a funny squeaking sound with her throat, trying to make a sound. “Well, things are changing around here.” He said with a hint of bitterness.
“Things always were going to change Charlie. Look at Belle and I. THAT certainly changed.” Sunny pointed out. “We used to hate each other so much.”
“I just wish we didn't have to grow up. That we didn't have to change and move away from each other.” Charlie looked towards Belles window.
“Sometimes we need to move away from each other to become closer.” Sunny said.
Charlie still looked doubtful.
“Belle, no more. Go out and play with your friends PLEASE!” Joe begged his only grand-child. “Your studying is going to be the end of you.”
“I'm fine Pa, really.” Belle tried to read her textbook, but the lines were starting to blur a little.
“Your eyes are glazing over, you need to put down that book and do something else. Watch some cricket with your Dad or go to Brisvegas and watch the Leos play or even go and beat up the Death Valley Mobsters for all I care, just get your nose out of those books!” Joe pulled the textbook away.
“I can't really go beat up the Mobsters without my gun can I?” Belle snatched the book back.
“What's wrong with the Desert Eagle?!” Joe looked affronted.
“It's not the Lucky Seven Gun Dad, you know that. It wouldn't be right would it Beauty?” Peter walked in with a stack of paperwork and a large box.
“Don't tell me you're going to kill yourself with work as well!” Joe fumed.
“I don't see that it's any of your business old man!” Peter snapped.
“Watch how you speak to me sonny, or I'll deck you where you stand!”
“Like to see you try without breaking your hips!”
Belle rolled her eyes. She looked out of the window and saw Charlie, Sunny and Tammy beckoning. She turned back to her book and was about to start studying again when Peter removed the book from her this time.
“I have a present for you.” He said.
“Oh?” Belle piped up.
“You can only have it if you let your friends in.” Peter nodded to the window.
Belle sighed, and opened the front door.
“Hi guys.” She deadpanned.
“Geezus, don't sound so happy!” Sunny laughed, giving her friend a hug. Belle hugged her back.
“Anyway, do you want to see what I made you?” Peter smirked.
“Oooh, is Belle getting a present?” Charlie and Tammy rushed to the box to try and catch a glimpse of the present. Peter merely pulled the box away from them with a maddening smile.
“We have to go to the tip first. Coming Dad?” Peter grabbed the keys to the ageing Elantra.
“I'll pass, thank you.” Joe turned to the kitchen and prepared himself a coffee.
“Eh. Come on you lot.” Peter led them out to the car.
The ruby-coloured one-piece suit was skin-tight with two powered boots attached for flying. There were pink pads on the fingertips and palms of the attached gloves, and the top lifted up to cover Belles face, with two little nodes that sat on her temples and connected with a band over her head which could unclasp from the left side to make it easier to get it on/off. The back locked up with a plastic zip, making the whole thing feel very uncomfortable. Two small pink power boxes sat on the shoulders, and around the middle was what looked like a pink belt.
“Dad, seriously? You want me to fight crime in THIS?!” Belle groaned.
“You look like a video game character!” Peter defended. “You have your usual flight capability, plus you have the ability to form these carbon weapons using your mind.”
“Wha-?” Everyone looked dumbfounded at Peter.
“Just say this old dart board here is a bad guy. Form a dagger and throw it at him.” Peter instructed.
Belle looked at her right hand. Slowly the pink pads glowed, oozing a ruby-coloured substance which hardened to look like a ruby weapon.
“Wow.” Belle threw the Ruby Shard at the dart board. It hit easily, lingering for about ten seconds before disintegrating and disappearing.
“The best thing is, this stuff will leave your opponents limbs numb, incapacitating them for a few minutes without killing them.” Peter grinned.
“How did you find that out?” Sunny asked.
“Plus you can fly now without the issues that the Backpack has!” Peter ignored Sunnys question. “Just jump up and away you go!”
“Whoa-OAAA!!!!!!” Belle cried. As soon as she'd gotten airborne, her top half had fallen and she was nearly hanging upside-down. She struggled to get back up.
Charlie roared with laughter, Sunny and Tammy tried to hide their giggles and Peter groaned.
“You're too used to the lift coming from your back, leaving your legs free.” He sighed. “Still, this is an improvement, at least it's harder to shoot both your feet.”
“Thanks Dad.” Belle groaned. She eventually righted herself and landed heavily.
“Anyway, I have another meeting to get to, and I'm almost late! You guys can get yourselves home right?” Peter asked.
“Sure.” Was the general reply. Peter quickly sped off. Belle frowned.
“I wonder why Daddy has so many more meetings recently.” She floated up wobbily and watched her father leave.
“Probably getting hammered at work after the whole flood thing and the University getting destroyed.” Sunny pointed out. “I know my Dad is copping it.”
“But this many meetings? And on weekends too?” Belle hovered in the direction her father had taken.
“You should surprise him, Ruby Giggles!” Charlie piped up.
“Ruby Giggles?” Was the reply from above.
“Well, you're not exactly regular Giggles anymore are you?” Charlie pointed out.
Ruby Giggles slumped slightly, but it was enough to make her lose her balance again.
“I'm glad you could get here. I had this place booked for weeks!” Peter smiled at Lara as they both enjoyed their pasta dinner.
“It was close, but I managed to get away in time.” Lara Vargas replied, smiling into his eyes. She had beautiful long chestnut brown hair and deep hazel eyes. She was a little on the bigger side, but had a huge smile that was kind and warm. “I would have left tennis anyway, I love spending time with you.”
“Managed to win a few games?”
“All of them sweetheart.”
“Oh, you're good.”
The pair laughed. Peter was on cloud nine. Not since Belles mother had broken his heart had he thought he would be able to love again. Now he was sitting in a restaurant with the woman of his dreams.
“What about Oscar? Isn't it your weekend with him?” Peter asked about Laras toddler son.
“No, Irwin is taking him on a camping trip.” Lara replied. “He might not have been a decent husband but I will admit he's a damned good father.”
“And that's all that counts.” Peter smiled.
“How about Belle? How's she doing?” Lara asked. She was always curious about the Masters clan, she loved the idea of the family code and the Improbability Clause.
“Still over-studying. She's a good kid and wants to save Pleasantville but she doesn't realise that if she over-does things she's just going to make herself sick.” Peter sighed.
“Reminds me a bit of her father.” Lara grinned cheekily.
“Hey, I was never that bad!” Peter argued.
“Are you kidding me? I remember in school while we were all out at the sports carnival you were holed up studying. Your brother had to drag you away for your events!” Lara laughed at the memory as Peter turned pink.
“I was such a little snot then. But you were a complete cow so it all evens out.” He laughed as she poked her tongue out at him.
Outside meanwhile, Ruby Giggles was sitting on a rooftop across the street and could see her father and Lara sitting in the restaurant.
Her father had a girlfriend?!