One Hundred and Seventeen: Planning Stages

 Charlie had his head firmly in a book while Belle ate her seafood pasta.

“ARGH WHAT THE HECK?!” TJ screamed as he walked into Bills restaurant and saw the scene in front of him.

“I know, I freaked out too.” Bill said as he heard the screaming.

“I am not okay with this!” TJ carefully sat down with his friends.

“Charlie is looking up what we need to do to get the Chamber of Commerce up and running.” Belle explained. “And brushing up his Business Principles degree.”

“DEGREE?!” TJ cried.

“Charlie's had his BP forever!” Belle pointed out. “He was in my BP class at school for pete's sake.”

“I can't deal right now.” TJ sulked as Tammy and Sammy walked in and the screaming started again.

“You know it's really hard to study with all this noise going on.” Charlie frowned after the freak-out had subsided, which led to another quieter freak-out.

“Anyway, we've figured out that we need at least 100 signatures from business owners in the Pleasantville Council Region, which includes Fallsville, Greensville, Oakville and Treesville.” Charlie continued as Belle started slurping up strands of spaghetti.

“Given that there's a fair few business owners who are also pro-PRO I think we have that covered.” Belle shoved a prawn into her mouth.

“The big thing after that is the committee election, which is where things could fall apart.” Charlie sighed. “We can't let Demon become the head of the committee, otherwise it's just going to increase his control of the city.”

He grimaced a little as Belle kept talking with the others. Charlie had an especial hate for Demon, who not only had killed Charles Howzat. Charlies beloved grand-father, but had also fired Thomas Begly a few months after Charlie had been born. It had left the Begly family struggling until Thomas and Peter Masters made up and Thomas had been able to Improbability Clause up the family business.

There was also the matter of Daryl Jones. Charlie and Daryl had hated each other since they were toddlers, and before meeting Belle and the Knights of the Last Order Charlies life had been a living hell. Having your bully live nearly right next door made life harder than it needed to be, especially since Demon had never sought to pull Daryl into line. Every time Betty Begly had stormed over to report on another of Daryls actions in an attempt to defend her son, she had always been brushed off. Once she'd tried legal action, but that got thrown out the moment the judge (who had been paid off) looked at it.

Also on the list of things Charlie hated about Demon was Demons own daughter, Sunny, who had been abused by her brother for years. Again, Demon had turned a blind eye to the actions of Daryl. This particularly rankled Charlie who had once held strong feelings for Sunny.

Charlie knew he had to win this and get the first real blow against the corrupt City Council. The only problem was…well, that he wasn't Belle. Charlie loved his best friend dearly, but he was also in total awe of her drive and intelligence. Belle would have told anyone that Charlie was just as intelligent, if not more intelligent than herself, but Charlie would never believe it as long as he lived.

If I was Belle, all this study would be easy. Charlie sighed to himself.

“Hey, you're looking a bit down.” Belle clued in immediately to how her best friend was feeling. “Why don't you put that all down and come play some cricket with us?”

“I dunno…” Charlie looked over his paperwork as the others tried not to freak out too loudly.

“You guys go on ahead, we'll catch up.” Belle rolled her eyes her friends, who were at least able to look sheepish as they headed out.

“You got this mate. I know you do.” Belle touched Charlies cheek once the others were outside.

“I'm gonna need so much help though…” Charlie admitted.

“And I'm going to be right here the whole way through.” Belle kissed his cheek. “Come on, it's not like your batting average can get any worse.”

“HEY!” Charlie slammed his book shut and chased Belle.

“She kissed his cheek! They HAVE to be together!” Sunny watched the pair through the restaurant window.

“Honey, I hate to inform you but that means nothing. We're the most over-affectionate group of friends in the world, remember?” Petunia grinned. “I mean, these guys kiss each other all the time!”

“Affection between friends should be more encouraged!” Sammy gave TJ a kiss on the cheek. TJ hugged him back.

“Come on you lot, let's find Dan and have a cricket match!” Belle and Charlie had already rushed well ahead of the pack.

Daryl Jones wasn't very good at planning. He had grand aspirations, and no idea how to get there. So his first plan to get revenge on Crusader Roger didn't go well at all.

“I made you some tea, sir.” Daryl carried a teapot and a cup to Rogers office and knocked on the door.

“Bring it in.” Roger waved Daryl in. “Have you seen this? Begly Metal Services boss has decided to try and get a chamber of commerce going in Pleasantville.”

Daryl grimaced.

“Didn't you used to live next door to him?” Roger poured some tea.

“I lived next to the Masters. They live next door to the Beglys.” Daryl bit back his anger.

“Ah.” Roger said, stirring the tea. “He's doing really well for himself isn't he? And here's you, making tea for a criminal mastermind.”

Daryl seethed internally, doing his best to hold his poker face. “We took different paths in life.”

“Indeed. You can go now.” Roger leaned back in his chair.

Daryl turned around and made to go.

“Oh, and Daryl? Next time you try to poison me, make sure it's with something I can't smell a mile away.” Roger threw the cup at Daryl's head, cutting the back of his head open.

Daryl hissed.

“You're not a good actor at all, and you're not clever enough to think up a way to get rid of me. Don't try again.” Roger continued.

Daryl stalked out, furious. Not only had he failed to get rid of Roger, but now Charlie Begly was doing better than him.

Daryl swore that they would ALL pay. Dearly.

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