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
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?
“Hey Charlie.”
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Reminds me a bit of her father.”
Lara grinned cheekily.
“Hey, I was never that bad!” Peter
“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?!

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