Audience of the Great Comedy
= - = 45 = - =
Like any other day, Jackie Lynn Thomas was boarding to school, the drone of hard polyurethane wheels against the pavement interrupted "ka-kunks" that followed her traversing the cracks in the street and in the sidewalk. As she approached the school looking for Janna, she did a double-take and coasted to a halt.
She stared, with mouth agape. The entire front of the school was decorated not in Echo Creek's oranges, but the purples, pinks, and blues that Brittney was commonly associated with. Everything from balloons to banners, to streamers, to lights and even what looked like holograms of cheerleaders and football players decorated the street-facing buildings of the campus. On the School's Sign, the words "Spirit Week By Wong" was written in place of the usual "Go Opossums!"
It was hard to look at, even for someone laid-back like her. "Dude…"
"I know, right? This is aggressively dumb."
Jackie looked and found Janna leaning against Otis the Opossum. Kicking up her board, she strode over and joined her side, brushing arms with her.
"Still down to dance?"
Janna coiled her arm Jackie's, inviting her to lean into her shoulder. "Maliciously."
"Cool, I got something for you."
As she leaned against Janna, Jackie produced a pair of purple bracelets that were wider around one half than the other. On the wide half "Spirit Week by Wong" was etched into it. Staring at it uncomprehending for all of an instant, Janna recognized what they were and she rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, this is how Brittney's making sure the people she wants go to the dance." Jackie offered one of them to Janna. "Chantal and I are cool, though, so I grabbed extra from her."
Taking the wristband and pocketing it, Janna nodded in praise to Jackie. "Good looking out, I could've grabbed one though."
Jackie chuckled. "At least I saved you a lockpick."
Taking that into consideration, Janna agreed. She really didn't want to exert any more effort than she wanted in jamming someone's face in their own crap. Brittney wasn't even at the top of her list of people harshing on her vibe, anyway.
"Has anyone checked on Brittney lately? Is she doing okay?"
Both girls looked to see Dipper, Mabel, and Misao, who had just been dropped off by Shermie. They were looking at the redecorated School–Mabel was cringing at the poor decor choices, Misao was outright disgusted by the flagrant ego on display, and Dipper had asked aloud what everyone was thinking.
Janna responded. "On a scale of one to ten: Fifty-one-fifty."
Jackie nearly burst into laughter, but she held it in as a throaty chuckle while she appraised Dipper up close and in-person for the first time. With the gulf of academia separating them, and having as high an opinion of Mabel as she did, she had been eager to have even a few moments' time with the other Pines twin. Their shortstack roommate and companion, too.
"Janna!" Mabel greeted as she and Misao led the way over to them. "And Jackie, too!"
"Morning, party girls," Jackie greeted.
"Hallo!" Misao chimed back. "Jackie Lynn Thomas, I am presuming?"
"Mmhm, and you're Faithful Pony, right?"
Misao beamed from being recognized. "Ja, I hope you've been keeping your six o'clock clear~!"
Jackie was too chill to fangirl. "You are twenty percent cooler in person."
Misao cupped her cheeks and beamed.
She looked back to the Twins, inwardly appreciating their height, and her attention drifted to Dipper. "And you're Dipper…"
Her smile grew a little. "… Hey"
Janna glanced out the corner of her eye at Jackie, looked at Dipper, danced her attention back and forth between the two, and all the malice she had had simmering since yesterday became a superheated geyser erupting taller than the Empire State Building.
Dipper, to his credit, didn't ogle the most popular girl at school even as he appreciated why she'd be revered as such. "Hey, yeah, that's me. Dipper, Mabel's brother…"
Mabel gently elbowed his side. "Yep, my handsome brainiac of a brother who can't stay out of trouble. He's single, too."
Dipper shot her a look. "Mabel, knock it off…"
Jackie let out a chuckle and brought her skateboard in front of her to rest it on her knees as she leaned over some. "But you are single?"
Dipper sensed that playfulness in her voice like a shark smelled blood. With a devil may care smile, he stepped up with a lot more confidence radiating from him. "You looking? Because if you're down…"
Jackie blurted out another laugh, but wasn't at all quick to walk back her shot. She held her board behind her back and looked aside as her face warmed up. "Yo stop… I might just say yeah…"
Misao nodded to Jackie. "I too have learned not to flirt carelessly with Dipper."
His smirk sharpened into something that even Janna now looked at with a bit of weakness. "You're all more than welcome to take a swing. But you ladies will knock it out of the park."
It had Jackie covering her mouth to stop her chuckling. "Dude, I said stop~!"
Mabel palmed Dipper's face. "Please, Casabrova, you promised to use your powers for good."
"Says the girl trying to hook me up." He gestured to Mabel. "Best wingman in the world, but does not know when to stop."
Jackie could tell she was going to have a great time. "I mean, if she works is that a bad thing?"
Janna took a moment to scan the street, looking first up towards where the buses parked to disembark. Sure enough she found Van Vanderhoff, standing at the corner of the school in the direction where faculty and students parked their cars–his face turning purple with rage and his fists tightly clenched.
The lingering smile curled to something cruel even for her, as she disregarded Van's existence from there.
"I'm of the opinion," she said, "That if you're into someone and they're into you, just go for it."
Dipper's eyebrows rose, wondering what she was getting at. "If only it could be that simple."
"It totally could, people just complicate things on purpose like they're obligated to."
Misao caught that, and hummed as she too wondered what Janna was implying.
Jackie smiled, agreeing with Janna with little more than a nod. "Anyway, we gotta talk about the dance and how things are gonna go, girls."
"The only way I see it going is crazy~!" Mabel said.
"Not if Brittney has her way."
To illustrate the point, Janna produced the bracelet Jackie gave her. The twins and Misao all recognized it.
"Admission Bracelets? For a school dance?!" Dipper asked.
Misao scowled. "That is the kind of thing for concerts or discotheques."
Janna pointed out the heavily decorated school. "And exclusive parties held by stuck up bitches with unwarranted egos."
Mabel let out a sigh, closed her eyes, and braced herself. "Don't you guys worry about Brittney, okay? Star and I, we'll get this all sorted out and it'll be good."
The look Misao gave Mabel screamed doubt, but she otherwise held her tongue.
"Do what you want." Janna left it at that. She already made her argument.
"If it doesn't work," Jackie dug into her pants pocket and pulled out a few more Admission Bracelets. "We're still on to crash the party."
Mabel was optimistic. "There won't be any need."
Dipper not so much, as he looked again at the school's decor. "Yeah, I'm sure she's being completely rational and not letting the power go to her head."
With the first bell minutes away, Drew and Jo met with Roland at their lockers just outside the school. Having been told of Drew's punishment, their mutual friend leaned with his back against his locker with his arms folded and an annoyed grimace.
"The heck is wrong with your Dad?" He asked, all but seething.
"It's just how he is," Jo said with her hands in the pockets of her overalls and her head turned away.
"Don't make excuses for him, he's treating your brother like Trip messing with him is his fault."
He looked from her to Drew. "It's only a matter of time before he tries to keep you from hanging out with us."
"And he's not going to," Drew replied, "I'm sneaking out for the dance and any time the Magnavores show up. I don't care what he does."
He thumped his balled fist against the locker. "This is too important for me to be worrying about being grounded, or stupid stuff like that. It's my responsibility."
"Basically," Jo agreed.
Roland gave Drew a light punch in the shoulder. "Just be careful, aight?"
There was no mistaking that under Drew's defiance, something was eating at him, just like it had been yesterday when they stood on the porch. Roland gave Drew's shoulder a squeeze.
Drew hesitated, then returned a slow nod.
Roland narrowed his eyes, his gaze boring into Drew for a moment before he relented. "Aight, but if something's bothering you, talk to me."
"I will," he promised.
"Drew!" Heather called as she trotted into the locker area from the school's parking lot. She waved at him, Jo, and Roland. "Hey guys!"
Drew lit up. "Heather, h-hey!"
The abrupt shift in Drew's mood made Roland recoil from him. Jo let out an exasperated breath so hard her lungs could've popped out of her mouth and dangled on the end of her tongue.
"What's up?" Drew asked, stepping up to Heather to deliberately avoid his sister and basically a brother. "How are you this morning?"
"Well, my family decided they're gonna drive to Tahoe, which means I'm leaving tomorrow," she explained. "So, my weekend just got worse."
Jo whispered to Roland out the corner of her mouth. "How's going to Tahoe sooner a bad thing?"
"Going cool places is all about who you go with," he replied. "I mean, would you like to drive up to Tahoe with the 'Teen Girl Squad?'"
Jo visibly cringed at the thought.
"That sucks," Drew said.
"I was thinking then," Heather went on, "That since you're such an expert at skipping class lately, that you could show me the ropes during lunch."
Drew's cheeks reddened. "An expert?! I'm not…! I mean…! I was helping the elderly!"
Heather giggled, then brought a finger to her chin and looked away. "And here I brought the Beetleborgs Halloween Specials from '98 to 2011 for us to read. I guess I'm gonna have to enjoy them alone at Britta's."
That got Drew's attention, and he smiled a bit. "How dare you tempt me with your collection of rares, contributing to the delinquency of a minor?"
Heather smirked and gestured to herself. "What can I say? I'm a bad guy."
Jo yanked Drew back by his shirt and stepped up. "I'll go!"
Heather wagged a finger at her. "Ah-ah-ah! Sorry, I want it to be me and Drew."
Jo stepped back and shoved Drew forward, he stopped himself barely from Heather. "If you don't take this offer right now, I'll lose all respect for you and punch you."
Drew and Heather were close enough to touch noses when she pulled away, her face coloring like his. They both shuffled back from one another and she reached up to toy with her bangs.
"So…" she said with a jumpy giggle. "You wanna go…?"
Drew sputtered. "Y-yes! Absolutely! We can swing by Zoom and pick up my number one so you can read it again."
Heather beamed. "I'd really like that. See you at lunch?"
"Y-yeah!" Drew replied, before he gestured towards the door into the school. "W-walk to class?"
Heather nodded, and the two bade their farewells to Jo and Roland before going into the building.
Jo and Roland both watched them go in silence, before the latter spoke. "She is so good for him."
"Right?" the former asked. "He completely forgot about Dad being a jerk and his superpowers not kicking in yet."
Roland looked down at her. "Huh, I figured that's what it was."
Jo turned to him. "I can't blame him for being frustrated. He should've exploded yesterday because of Dad's BS."
She looked back the way Drew went with Heather. "But at the same time… I'm glad he didn't."
She paused. "Real talk?"
Roland had an inkling of what she was going to say, but before she could say a word, a voice rang out.
It was a voice Roland and Jo didn't want to hear. Turning around, they found not only Brittney Wong, but half the Spirit Week Inquisition. Chantal, a caucasian girl with short hair in a bob cut and an entirely no-nonsense expression, Megan Gandlym, a wide-eyed african-american girl with long straight hair, and finally Sabrina Backintosh, a caucasian girl far too timid-looking to be walking with a pack of wolves like this.
Jo couldn't stand the Teen Girl Squad that she had to deal with. "I'm out."
She retreated quickly, leaving him in the clutches of the scourge. Resigned to his fate, he faced them with head held high.
"Can I help you, ladies?" He knew exactly why he was being sought out during class change.
Brittney got right up in his face. "Don't even think about it."
"About what?" He asked with a sweet, innocent smile.
She poked his chest. "Pulling some stupid prank at my dance! The only reason I'm not flat out banning you is because of who your Grandma is, but if I see so much as a super soaker, a pillow, or a single mariachi, not only are you out of the dance, I will make sure you don't set foot in school for a week! Do I make myself clear?"
Roland took a step back from Brittney's prodding finger. "I promise I won't do any of that old stuff."
Let it be said, Brittney Wong was not a dullard. "There won't be any new stuff either! In fact, I know that you don't even have a date, so if you show up for the dance without one I'll know you're up to no good."
Chantal and Megan both nodded in agreement, and Roland bravely resisted rolling his eyes. "Okay you're right. I don't have a date yet."
He turned aside, letting out a sigh. "I was going to ask the person I wanted to go with today, but not like this."
Brittney recoiled from Roland, like he'd just gone radioactive. Chantal and Megan on the other hand, reacted with much more visible interest as Roland held out his open palms, and then rolled up the sleeves to the white long-sleeve shirt he wore under a green tee today. With a quick flip of his wrist and a prodigious amount of superspeed, he produced a bouquet of flowers–red and yellow roses with a white ribbon tying them together.
In a school well-desensitized to Star Butterfly's magic, the ol' razzle dazzle and sleight-of-hand still did the trick. Especially when all it resulted in a lovely bunch of flowers and not screaming monsters or burning rainbows.
Roland was on the other side of Brittney before she even realized it, stepping up to Megan, flashing her a debonair smile that gleamed in the fluorescent lights of the hallway. "If you would do the honor of joining me for the homecoming dance, I promise to make it a magical evening."
Megan looked between him and his flowers, to say she was impressed would be an insult. "Daaaaang."
She smiled and took the roses. "I'll see you at the dance, player."
Roland winked at Megan, then proceeded to smoothly pop and lock his way around Brittney and stopped right where he started in the confrontation.
"See? I got my date."
He turned around and busted a quick move the King of Pop would judge adequate to turn an about-face, then looked back at Brittney.
"I'll see you Saturday."
As she stood there, mouth agape, he stalked off with a swagger.
She looked at Megan. "You are not going with him to the dance."
Megan clutched the roses to her chest and smelled them. "I am so going with him to the dance."
Brittney turned her back to her hench cheerleader and whipped her hair. "Fine, but if he pulls some stupid prank and it ruins my dance you're going on flyer duty."
Megan looked at Sabrina, who was normally the one the Cheer squad threw into the air, and let out a concerned hum.
Entering the school, Roland pulled out his phone and began texting as he headed to his class.
Okay so Drew's phone is gone but he cleared his msgs.
Mabel here! We should get him a burner!
Misao says she can buy him one!
Janna Banana said:
Don't worry I got this.
It better not b stolen.
Janna Banana said
Now Mr. Diaz who do you take me for, a thief?
= - = 44 = - =
A new day, a new adventure.