A big chapter coming. After this, it's going to get a bit wild. As a heads up, way back in chapter one I had a list of trigger/content warnings. Just so we're reviewing and expanding them...
CW: This story will contain original characters, references to recreational drug use, physical and psychological abuse, murder, and torture.
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Dipper’s message to Jo went unread. Everyone’s messages, and the group chat in general was completely ignored, as she sat at a table at Zoom Comics, reading a giant robot war manga that was in truth a trashy romance story for teenage girls. She’d been there since the shop opened, and was going through the entire series, and was near the end by after sundown–while ignoring the rest of the world around her.
“That’s an unsettlin’ sight,” Nano Williams said as the matriarch of Roland’s family and the comic shop’s owner arrived late in the afternoon and joined her son behind the counter.
“She’s been here all day,” Aaron Williams said to his mother regarding the usually well-accompanied Jo by herself. “Roland’s at home getting ready for the dance, and Drew’s been grounded.”
Nano craned her head away from her son with an eyebrow raised. “Lord have mercy, for what?”
“Cutting class,” Aaron said.
“I will have some words with that man,” Nano said of Jo’s father before she headed towards her. “But first… Nano’s got some granny-duty.”
Jo flipped a page of her comic and let out a sigh. “… Why don’t they just desert? They don’t even like the sides they’re on…”
“Narrative fiat aside, everyone has their reasons for being loyal to something they shouldn’t belong to,” Nano said as she sat down at the table with Jo. “But that’s a lot of rabbit holes, and they all go deep.”
Jo fought a grimace but gave up and hid it behind her manga. “Boy, don’t I know it.”
“What’s wrong, sweetie? You wanna talk to Nano about it?” Nano asked with all the grandmotherly gentleness one wouldn’t expect in a woman who was always so larger than life.
Looking up from her book at Nano’s bespectacled face, Jo sighed. “You should know the song and dance by now: I join a group, my dumb brain does that thing to make everyone hate me, and now I’m just waiting for the group to not need me anymore.”
Nano shook her head, humming in disappointment. “Mm, mm, mm… do you really think they all hate you, child?”
“I’d hate me,” Jo replied. “I blew it, and hard. All I was supposed to do, was enjoy a normal crush on the tall, cute guy–but no.
I had to look at all the other girls who he hung out with and think ‘Hey Jo, you need to establish dominance. These basic bitches are annoying, they’re loud, and they’re nowhere near as mature, smart, and tough as you are!’”
She rolled her eyes, seething. “If I bare my teeth enough, they’ll show their bellies and get out of my way. Because that’s the way it goes, that’s how it works.
It’s all about being top dog.”
The fire and venom quickly left Jo, weakening into bare embers and skin irritant. “I completely lost track of why I was even doing it so fast
… I just wanted to hurt them, and that’s when I realized I fucked up.”
Nano narrowed her eyes slightly when Jo finished her rant. “Josephine, sweetheart, you’re driven to be smarter, work harder, and to always come out on top… but when you come up short you have always been harder on yourself than anyone.”
Her elbows on the table, Nano began rubbing her hands together as she looked at her. “And I think that is where you can be wrong, sweetie.”
Jo looked down at the table and worried the pages of the manga with her fingertips while Nano continued. “You’ve always had a hair-trigger temper. I’ve got you on tape more than once getting into people’s faces, and I’ve even thrown you out of the store on one occasion for throwing ‘bows.”
“And…?” Jo already knew this.
“That’s forgivable,” Nano emphasized. “You’re not the first hot-tempered, hot-blooded teenage girl who makes terrible decisions when she’s mad to ever exist. Nor are you the first one to lose the plot and resort to just hurting people
to make yourself feel better.”
Jo pulled a grimace, before Nano placed a consoling hand on her shoulder, and smiled. “But between you and the girls I’ve known to fall into that ditch… there are folks waitin’ lined up ‘round the block to pull you out of it.”
The angry young woman let out a sharp huff through her nose and looked away from her. “Oh yeah, look at everyone crowding around like I’m the last Beetleborgs Omnibus on the shelf. I feel so not alone.”
“You’re only alone because you think you’re beyond all hope,” Nano said. “You haven’t given them a chance any more than you’ve given yourself one.”
Turning back to her, Jo protested. “I’m saving them the trouble! I’ll just be there, in the background with my head down and my mouth shut. Boom, easy, I do what needs to be done and they don’t even have to look in my direction.”
Nano gave Jo a firm look, tight-lipped, and completely unyielding. “That’s not what’s gonna happen, and you know it. They’re gonna worry about you, talk to you, and more importantly… they’re gonna forgive you.”
She rubbed Jo’s shoulder. “Even if you never want to forgive yourself. You’re not a quitter, Josephine McCormick, and giving up on yourself is as good as any quitting.”
While still resistant to making eye contact, Jo was cowed enough to look in Nano’s direction, sulking all the while.
Nano smiled ever slightly, and she nodded as if to say, “You know I’m right.”
“Nothing always goes our way,” she spoke, “And everyone takes the wrong way once or twice or even all the time. But the people you know ain’t gonna let you beat yourself up. I’m not, Roland won’t, your brother sure as heck won’t… and neither will any of those friends you’re saying hate you. You got too much goin’ for yourself for anyone to pass up on–flaws and all.”
Closing her eyes, Jo breathed in deep and let out her frustration, anger, and loneliness as a long, dramatic sigh. It tweaked her something fierce to hear such truth, but she couldn’t deny it, she did not want
to deny it.
“Can I still be a little pissed off at myself?” She asked.
“Never said you couldn’t,” Nano replied. “But if you’re gonna be mad at yourself, then you gotta use that anger
rather than just sit and stew in it.
When you get goin’, girl, you’re unstoppable… so while the gettin’s good? Go.”
Nano was right, but Jo didn’t hate it. “I guess that’s… yeah, you got a good point.”
After a few moments, Jo cracked the smallest smile as she conceded. Nano’s own grin grew. “Yeah, that’s my girl.”
“So, what do I do, then?” Jo asked.
“Well, you can start by apologizing to and forgiving yourself and anyone else you have to–then working to make things right.” Nano beamed. “I know you can do it, and I know as a matter of fact that your friends will be there to help you on your way.”
Jo brought her hand up to her nose and rubbed just underneath it, breathing in to conceal a sniffle. “Then… I guess I’ll start by apologizing for being a mope. And to myself for being really dumb.”
Nano sat back in her chair, chuckling. “You’re forgiven.”
“I’ll go talk to them, then,” Jo said as she got up. “Thanks, Nano.”
Nano called after her as she headed for the door. “You’re welcome, sweetie.”
Aaron leaned on the counter. “Mom, I just realized. How’s Drew going to the dance if he’s grounded?”
Nano let out a short chuckle. “He’s sneaking out, of course.”
Aaron nodded. “… Are we going to cover for him?”
“Of course we are!” Nano declared.
With a smile that became more knowing, Nano watched Jo hop on her bicycle and ride off. “Kids these days need us more than ever.”
With that, Aaron conceded. “Fair enough, and Roland would want Drew there to make sure this dance’s stunt goes off without a hitch.”
Nano nodded. “Yeah, let’s make sure to close up early. I want to get down there and see the aftermath myself.”
At the Pines residence, Mabel was mindful of the clock as she put the finishing touches on Misao’s hair, brushing and styling it as she sat patiently in front of her swathed in a blanket. Across from the two in Shermie’s living room, Star and Janna were sitting on a couch, the former rocking from side to side and absently kicking her feet in the air while the latter explained one of Echo Creek Academy’s unofficial traditions.
“… Freshman year Spirit Week homecoming dance,” she began. “The dance was okay. It was a dance, so like… everyone was just hanging out all awkwardly swaying to the music and trying to not be embarrassing on the dance floor. When all of a sudden, right there on the stage, a mariachi band just showed up, relieved the bored-as-heck DJ, and just hijacked the dance.”
“No way,” Mabel said as she worked her brush through Misao’s hair. “And this was Roland?”
Misao hummed. “I know about Mariachi… they were able to make the party fun?”
“Yeah. Because it wasn’t just any
Mariachi band. It was a Heavy Metal Mariachi band. They melted face and it made me mad that I wasn’t there to see it. The exchange kid living with Marco at the time, Akil, gave it 6 metals out of his 1 to 5 scale of how metal something is.”
“That’s so metal,” Star said.
Janna nodded. “At the Winter Formal that year, an ice cream bar was hired as part of the refreshments for the dance. But midway through the dance, all the trays of ice cream and frozen treats were replaced with snowballs.”
Misao gasped. “Roland is a mad genius…”
Janna chuckled. “It was no Metal Mariachi band, but I got to smash a snowball in Brittney’s face, so it was worth it.”
Mabel was jealous. “Why didn’t I think of that? My first winter formal was so lame compared to that!”
Shermie, sipping some oolong tea, begged to differ. “Your Christmas tree outfit was still dang cute though.” To the other girls he added, “I got pictures if you wanna take a peek at ‘em later.”
Proudly, Mabel put a hand on her chest. “It was so cute that I had to leave the dance because it wasn’t considered ‘formal.’”
Misao snickered. “Let me guess, you had a star decoration on the top of your head?”
Mabel grinned. “I had my hair done up in a beehive ‘do to look like the top of the tree, and the star was at the very top. It and the lights I used to tie it all up worked.”
Janna and Star were both struggling to imagine it. With as much hair as Mabel had, arranged vertically.
That made Misao pout. “I want lights in my hair…”
Mabel hummed. “I don’t think I can source the LEDs fast enough…”
She turned to Star. “You think you could magic us up some lights?”
“My wand’s still funky, it still just shoots out glitter, but…” Star had the idea at the exact same time as Mabel.
“We can glitter bomb everything!” They said together, before Mabel continued. “YES! We won’t glow, but we’ll shine!”
“And sparkle!” Misao declared.
Star was giddy for the plan. “When I get my wand working, I’ll definitely give us all a real ‘glow’ for next time!”
Janna side-eyed Star with a smirk. “Just be careful, we’ve seen how you light people up.”
The girls all shared a laugh, Shermie joining in, before Mabel asked. “So what other pranks has Roland done?”
“Yes, please!” Star and Misao said together.
Happy to oblige, Janna continued. “So, because he was a freshman, Roland couldn’t attend prom, and the Juniors and Seniors then were on him like a hawk to make sure he didn’t try to pull anything, since they
were the ones most annoyed by the pranks the year before. So during Homecoming last year, he got Super Soakers, Water Balloons, and even connected a garden hose and handed them to all the Freshmen and Sophomores.”
Mabel stopped. “Oh, the school must’ve hated
him for that.”
“Yeah, but Nano helped smooth it over and cure the hurt feelings, and even the Juniors from the year before who were Seniors that year loved it. So, Roland got to pull a prank on Prom last year.”
“What did he do?” Misao asked.
Janna steepled her fingers together and smirked. “Prom Pillow Fight. With the Prom King and Queen getting the added honor of being covered in slime so the feathers stuck to them.”
Star understood the reference. “Like tar and feathering without the near boiling pitch!”
Janna, Misao, and Mabel were reminded that Star was from a medieval magical kingdom… and she’d probably seen it done not
for funsies. Or maybe for
“Yeah,” they all replied.
“All in all… Roland’s pranks sound great, and I want to help with his next one,” Mabel closed her eyes and hummed. “Kind of a bummer that Brittney doesn’t like fun.”
Star’s lips curved downward in a small frown. “Yeah… or maybe her idea of fun is just… all of this Spirit Week by Wong stuff.”
She wasn't going to mention how her control-freak ways reminded her of Ludo.
Janna let out a dismissive huff. “Sometimes fun for people is just power tripping. Which is why me going to the dance is going to drive her crazy.”
Star doubly resisted mentioning it. She was a girl on a mission, after all, and an even more poisoned well was a fail condition.
“I am surprised she has not banned him like he did Star,” Misao said.
“Hah!” Janna barked. “That’s only because Nano would beat her over the head with her Daddy’s money if she heard word of it. He’s all humble about it, but Roland’s got the same pull as her or the Vanderhoffs and he doesn’t need to be a millionaire to do it.”
Mabel nodded. “Yeah, I can see that. I can also see that he wouldn’t want to be a pain in Nano’s neck if he went around using her name to get what he wanted.”
“She’d become a pain in his
neck if he ever did,” Shermie joked. “Besides; call me a crazy altacocker, but I got a feeling Roland has a few cards up his tuxedo sleeve in store for Brittney.”
Misao had her opinion on that and said to Janna. “You know… with what you just told us about his pranks, Janna, and how self-obsessed that girl is with how everyone sees her? The best way Roland could prank her is to…”
She stopped, and her eyes widened a little. “… Oh.”
Mabel stopped brushing her hair as she and Star addressed her with a simultaneous “… Oh?”
Janna, Shermie, and Star watched the realization widen Misao’s eyes and spread a wicked smile across her lips. The German exchange student closed her eyes and let a deep, darkly amused chuckle reverberate from her.
“Onto something, there?” Shermie asked.
Misao nodded and answered in a singsong voice. “I~ know~ what he’s planning~”
Hillhurst Mansion’s size boggled both Marco and Jackie as they walked down its long, straight halls. The house wasn’t just bigger on the inside, it was massive, with long hallways and rooms that interconnected with one another in ways that defied logic and physics, like whoever built it was advised by a chaos demon from where nightmares reside.
“This place has honest to God Scooby Doo doors, dude,” Jackie said as she opened one door and looked inside it.
On the other side of bedroom with sheet-covered furniture was Marco staring at her from the room’s other door.
She pulled back and looked down the hall at Marco, who was standing at another door. He turned to look at her, and they both looked in their respective rooms at each other.
“So that’s how it works,” Marco said.
He closed the door. “That is too trippy.”
When he turned to Jackie, she was gone. “Huh–?”
Jackie abruptly opened the door, and he hopped back from it. At his fright, she grinned. “Yeah, it is trippy.”
She stepped out and spread her arms. “This whole house is trippy! I can’t believe something this cool is in Echo Creek.”
Marco agreed. “Yeah… if it weren’t for the monsters, it’d be a pretty neat fun house…”
Jackie dropped her hands to her sides. “But the monsters make it the perfect
haunted house. It’s almost Halloween, too, imagine how spooky it would be to have a party here.”
“Yeah, with real monsters that’ll chase you around and try to eat you,” Marco added with a bit of sarcasm.
“That’s what waivers are for,” Jackie said. “There’s like this haunted house in San Diego where you go in there and they legit torture you for like eight hours. You have to literally sign your life away to even enter.”
Marco recoiled. “Wait, torture?”
“Yeah, they’ll break your bones, rip out your teeth and fingernails, and even tattoo you.”
Marco went a little pale. “How do you know about something like that–?” He stopped, and both he and Jackie said it together.
The next door down from the one they stood at, the very one Jackie went into, opened to reveal Mums standing outside it. “I call bull on that!”
Marco and Jackie looked inside the room Jackie had just come out of. The door was still closed, and no one was in it. They both looked back at Mums.
This house was so weird.
“On what, the haunted house thing?” Marco asked.
“Yeah!” Mums stomped over to them. “Ain’t no way there’s anything like that! Or that there are people willin’ to put themselves through it!”
“They do,” Jackie said. “They don’t even have to pay for it, the owner takes food for his dogs as admission fee.”
Mums recoiled. “THEY GO THERE FOR FREE?!”
“Uh, they pay with dog food?” Jackie reiterated.
Marco was mind-boggled. “… Huh.”
“You are tellin’ me,” Mums said, “That there’s some jerk out there, acceptin’ dog food
from people so he can scare the living daylights outta ‘em AND beat the crap out of him. With no consequences?”
And suddenly Marco didn’t like where this conversation was going–and imagined both Dipper and Flabber would like it even less.
Jackie shrugged her shoulders. “… Yeah?”
Mums threw his hands into the air so hard they almost actually came off. “You’re making it up! Humans are dumb as bricks, but actually wantin’ to be scared that bad?! That’s EXTRA stupid!”
Now Marco had no idea where this conversation was going. “Scary movies are a thing? I mean, you’ve probably been in a few.”
“Those are horse crap!” Mums said. “Most of ‘em are more hilarious than ‘scary.’”
Fangula, stepping into the doorway, spoke up. “I’m personally a fan of the Final Destination series.”
“Comedic genius,” Mums agreed.
Jackie whispered out the corner of her mouth. “See why Janna is so cool with these guys, now>?”
Marco whispered back.
Mums shook his head. “Are people these days so desensitized and detached that they gotta actually look for crap to scare ‘em?! Is that why you brats keep coming out here?!”
Jackie shrugged her shoulders. “I dunno, dude. I’d never go into a messed-up place like that even if they paid me actual money.”
“But you step inside this place, where we want to kill you,” Fangula pointed out.
Jackie looked at Fangula and back to Mums as she responded. “I mean… it’s not like you could. Marco could beat the crap out of you, I’m pretty sure I have a shot at it, too. But… Janna says your cool, so whatever.”
Mums seethed at that. “You know, all we gotta do is catch you off guard once, and that’s it for you brats. You’ll be mincemeat.”
Marco got up in Mums gnarled face. “You know, I’m pretty sure I said something about extra real estate in hell–and that I was only going to say it once.”
Sighing, Jackie got between them. “Guys, guys… do we need to fight? Like I said, Janna says you’re cool, and if you can be okay with her, then why not the rest of us?”
“And what, become your scary monster mascots for your team of goodie-two-shoes?” Fangula asked. “No thank you, I prefer our relationship remain predator and prey–as brief as it will be.”
Mums agreed once more. “That’s right! There’s nothing you can say or do that’ll change that, you punks!”
“Peace was never an option,” Fangula hissed.
Jackie looked at Marco, then back to them before she finally gestured to her backpack. “Um… I got weed.”
Both monsters stopped where they stood, then looked at one another. They turned back to her, and Mums scoffed. “No, you don’t.”
Marco gawked at Jackie, startled. “No, you don’t!”
Jackie slung off her backpack and reached into it. “Yeah, I totally do.” To Marco’s disbelief, she pulled out a small jar full of green buds. “See? A whole ounce.”
Marco went a little pale, because that was a lot of marijuana for Jackie to be carrying in her bag. Even more surprised were Mums and Fangula, the former getting up close and personal to look at it with his sole wide eye.
“Where’d a kid like you get this much?!” He demanded.
“My family runs a dispensary; my parents even let me smoke on the weekends,” Jackie replied.
Mums eyed the label with even more scrutiny. “Wait… that’s like a store? It’s legal now?”
“Yeah,” Jackie confirmed.
“Inconceivable,” Fangula said, “The only people who smoke the devil’s lettuce are deranged evil doers with ill-intent!”
“Like us!” Mums said.
“It got legalized years ago, like… before I was even born,” Jackie explained.
Mums slowly nodded. “… Huh.”
Fangula, cradling his chin with one hand, tilted his head to the side as he tried to imagine that. “… Huh.”
Marco looked back and forth between the monsters, and now felt tentative hope about where this conversation was now headed. “Huh.”
With that established, Jackie made her move. “So… if you guys agree to not start crap with us, I’ll be your hookup.”
Mums and Fangula looked at one another immediately.
“Free of charge.”
The eyebrows of both monsters rose.
About half an hour later, Mums, Fangula, and Frankenbeans were all seated on a couch in front of a small coffee table at a sitting area in the middle of the hallway. A misty cloud of strong-smelling smoke hung in the air above them, as Fangula let rip a long, much needed drag of a joint in a long, thin cigarette holder, while Frankenbeans beside him huffed from a heavily packed pipe. Mums was hunched over, toking from an intricate glass bong with Egyptian Hieroglyphics painted painstakingly all around it.
Jackie, off to their right of the couch the monsters sat in a chair, pulled a pipe from her lips and blew a held in cloud of smoke to join the fog building in the sitting area. “Good stuff, right…?”
Fangula burst into coughs as he doubled over, then asked in a higher, strained voice. “S-Strong… what has been going on for f-forty years…?!”
“Progress,” Jackie replied. “The best green grown on the west coast, straight from the mountains of Oregon, dude.”
“Love Oregon,” Frankenbeans, lamp shade still on his head, declared.
Jackie sputtered and broke into snickers. “Hehe… love organ. That’s gross–hahahahaha!”
As Fangula burst into wheezing laughter with her, Mums pulled his mouth from his overly elaborate water pipe. “Haaa… this takes me back to the shores of the Nile–watchin’ that nerd Scarab get stomped by Prince Rapses’ bodyguards. Good times.”
Marco, who politely declined Jackie’s offer to partake, stayed a bit out of the range of the smoke and tried to acclimate himself to more than just the strong smell wafting from the weed being consumed. His eyes were locked onto Jackie, watching her smoke and laugh with the monsters like they were her best friends.
The conflict that had raged quietly within since she abruptly visited his house had come roaring back.
I… never really knew Jackie at all, did I?
Seeing all these different sides to her all at once was still a shock, completely smashing the pedestal that he had built for her. In its place was something better, a profound feeling of happiness that he was hanging out with and learning about the real Jackie and not angsting over the idealized version he was afraid to approach.
Even with Star in his life, and this thing that’s started between them… it hasn’t made Jackie Lynn Thomas any less amazing in his eyes, only more.
He smiled as Jackie’s laughter had both infected Mums and Frankie as well, with neither having any idea why they were laughing. Well, I’m glad she’s better than I could ever imagine.
Leaning back against the wall, he looked to his left and noticed the door that this inconsequential sitting room was lined up across in the hall. It was different from the other doors, having an actual lock and a name plate at the very top. Paying it more mind, he leaned forward slightly and turned his head to get a better look at what was written on it.
“WOLFY” was written in all caps, with “No Entre” just below it.
He looked over at the Monster Smoke Out. “Hey… who’s Wolfy?”
Mums managed to slow down his laughter and looked blearily at the door. “Oh… oh crap… is that Wolfy’s room? Huh! How about that.”
Fangula looked up as well, and his head tilted back in surprise. “… That’s… strange.”
Jackie let out a chuckle. “Strange how… hehehe…”
Mums vented smoke through all his wrapped skull’s orifices. “Because it’s hard to find Wolfy’s room in this house. Last time we did was the last time he was here, forty years ago!”
“Wait… you can just lose rooms?” Jackie asked, amazed.
Fangula confirmed it. “You won’t believe this, but there’s rooms that have been missing longer than that, and not even Flabber knows where they are.”
“Useless phasm,” Mums muttered. “What even is a phasm?”
Something in the weed made Frankenbeans’ brain flicker for a second, as he answered in a refined accent. “I believe it’s something you have whilst afflicted with a seizure.”
Mums let out a laugh. Then laughed harder when the spark of intellect vanished in another puff of smoke. “I say big words.”
Jackie got up. “So, like… Wolfy… is he like… a werewolf?”
She sauntered over to the door, looking at the nameplate and then the knob.
“No,” Fangula replied. “Werewolves can turn back into humans from their war forms. He’s always in his war form. I’d say he’s more a warwolf than a werewolf.”
“Sick,” Jackie said as she took the doorknob in hand. “I wonder what a warwolf’s room looks like.”
For the first time since they’d gotten here, Jackie turned a door’s knob, and it didn’t open. Blinking the surprise from her eyes, she turned it left and right and leaned against the door. “… Huh… it’s locked.”
She turned to Marco. “We should kick it down. Do a little BnE, Janna will be proud.”
Marco looked at the lock and the door again. “I don’t know, there might be a good reason for it to be locked.”
“Come on~” She leaned close to him. “Don’t you wanna see what’s inside? It’s so suddenly forbidden.”
Marco’s face colored at Jackie’s close proximity. “Uh…”
Suddenly Frankenbeans burst out. “NO! NO BREAK WOLFY DOOR!”
Mums spoke in support of Frankenbeans. “You heard the man-thing, leave the guy’s room alone!”
Jackie turned to her. “C’mon! Why’s this door locked? Every other one we can open just fine. I mean, I’ve seen your room, and Fangula’s. Dig the coffin, by the way.”
“Thank you,” Fangula replied. “And I personally don’t like Wolfy. He tends to smell like wet dog and has atrocious manners. I say knock yourselves out and be the door-kickers you want to be.”
Mums let out a sharp laugh. “Even as strong as you monster kids are, you ain’t breakin’ that door. Flabber made it super strong at Wolfy’s request!”
Marco turned to him. “Flabber buffed this door?”
Mums nodded. “Only people Wolfy even wants near the room can go in! That’s probably why we’re here now, he was always sweet on Frankie. A real boy and his dog type deal, yannow?”
Facing the door again, Marco eyed it. “… But you guys just said that you haven’t seen this door in forty years.”
The mummy shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, we all don’t wander around this house together like a bunch of mean girls in high school. We don’t know when rooms pop up.”
Marco cocked his head. “How do you know–?”
“He just watched Heathers today,” Fangula explained.
Marco looked at the door again and hummed before he looked at the knob. He reached out and grabbed it. He turned it as he spoke. “Well, I just thought it was odd since you said–”
Marco stopped talking.
Jackie, Mums, Fangula, and Frankenbeans all stared at him in complete silence.
The young man’s eyes were locked on the doorknob and his hand still holding it. It had turned completely and opened just a couple inches to nearly clear the doorway.
Jackie’s gaze fell on Marco’s hand, and the partially open door. “… Dude? Why did the werewolf’s door, that can only open for people the werewolf wants there, open for you?”
Looking up from the doorknob to Jackie’s wide-eyed face, he slowly shook his head. “… I don’t know.”
Together they looked at the door. Behind them, all three monster residents present stood up and stared at it with the same stunned disbelief. Once more Marco and Jackie shared a quick look.
“Well… open it,” Jackie whispered.
Marco hesitated. “I don’t think I should, maybe it’s an accident? Did it mistake me for Wolfy or someone Wolfy knows, I…”
The sound of Dipper’s voice booming from the ceiling cut him off, and everyone looked at the ceiling. “Marco! Jackie! You guys need to come to the front, right now! We got a problem!”
“When did we install an intercom?” Mums grumbled.
“Dipper?” Marco asked. “What’s going on…?”
“Just hurry! This is an emergency! I can’t reach the others, I’m coming up from the Battle Base, now!” Dipper replied before the unseen speakers cut off.
The door would have to wait. Pulling it shut, Marco nodded to Jackie, and both took off down the hall, back towards the front of the house. As they watched them go, Mums scratched his head.
“Kid’s right. It had to be a fluke or somethin’,” Mums said. “Why would it open for him? Wolfy only likes Frankie.”
Fangula looked at the door, and then at Frankenbeans, who was reaching out to the door. The vampire watched, first in curiosity, and then in wide-eyed interest as Frankenbeans gripped the doorknob in his massive hand and gave it a turn.
But the door refused to open.
Echo Creek Academy was lighting up the night with the sun long set. Spotlights shone into the clear sky, crossing to trigger occasional holographic effects, such as the words “Echo Creek Spirit Week” and “By Wong”, with glamorous images of Brittney herself interspersed between them. Just outside the hazy glow, concealed in the darkness of the night sky, a pair unmanned helicopter drones with two-bladed rotors, a tail with downward-bent horizontal stabilizers at the tail, and canard wings at their very nose prowled.
Down on the ground, the gymnasium–where the dance was to be held–had its door covered by four well-dressed men with all the exact same look: bald, black-suited, wearing sunglasses at night and standing perfectly still like statues. Between them and the street were a crowd of students waiting to get into the gymnasium, separated by a long violet carpet bordered by velvet rope the same color. Another rope blocked the way up the carpet, and was overseen by two more well-dressed, quietly scanning the crowd with slow turns of their heads like machines.
They weren’t even visibly breathing.
“Full-body cyborg guards, QAH-50 Hammerhead Unmanned Helicopters, and I saw a truck I'm pretty sure is big enough to carry Unmanned Gears parked nearby,” Ferguson O’Durguson said to Roland as he, himself and Alfonzo Doolittle hung out across the street from the school, taking cover behind a catering van parked on the curb.
The rotund teen turned to Roland. “Dude, are you sure
you wanna go through with this? Brittney might actually kill you with the firepower she has here.”
Roland–wearing a sharp dark green suit with matching hat and carrying a wooden cane with a handle sculpted into the shape of a hawk’s head, shook his head at Ferguson’s concerns. “Nah, this is just her being paranoid about Star.”
“Yeah, I get that, my wife is actually the same way about her,” Alfonzo said. “Especially after the last time she was there!”
Ferguson brightened at the mention of Alfonzo’s wife. “How’s she doing, anyway?”
“Oh great, she crushed a prisoner revolt using my suggestions! We have such synergy!”
Roland stared at Alfonzo, quietly reconsidering his association with a tyrannical despot by holding it up against previous interactions. He shrugged his shoulders and set that aside to focus on the situation up front. “I expect Brittney to have a meltdown though, so the dance is probably going to end early.”
“Nice, we should hit up Britta’s after, and invite Marco along, too,” Ferguson suggested.
Alfonzo laughed. “Nah. He’s probably at home with Star, totally not smooching her like he wasn’t on the bus.”
Roland went still, then looked at Alfonzo. “Him and Star did what now?”
Ferguson turned to face Alfonzo, alarmed. “Dude!”
“What, I said totally not,”
Ferguson lifted his hands in a pleading gesture. “Alfonzo, that’s not how that works!”
Roland looked at Ferguson. “Even so, you confirmed it anyway, my guy.”
Ferguson slumped. “Ah, damn it! Don’t tell Marco, he made us swear!”
Adjusting his hat, Roland smirked from under it and spoke in a much more serious tone and manner. “Your secret is safe with me.”
Alfonzo and Ferguson in a similarly stylized nature, both hummed and nodded.
Speaking of bros, Roland checked a silver pocket watch on a chain he pulled from the pocket of his suit jacket. Opening it to reveal the smart interface connected to his phone, he pulled a grimace at no messages or calls from Drew.
It bothered him; Jo icing everyone out because she was in a bad mood was one thing, but Drew being no-contact was worrying–especially since his assurances that nothing would stop him from attending the dance.
“Let’s get going,” he said aloud as he began crossing the street. “Drew’s running late, I hope he’s okay.”
Ferguson and Alfonzo followed, the latter replying. “He was kinda grody since the monster attack, right? Maybe he went to see a doctor or something?”
“Yeah, I don’t think Brittney would even let him go in if he was dressed like a mummy,” Alfonzo stated.
“If only it was closer to Halloween,” Ferguson lamented. “We could totally have a cool costume dance party!”
Roland let out a small laugh. “Right?”
As they made it across the street and joined the crowd of students, one of the guards turned and stared at him, an orange glow shining from behind his sunglasses. “Wristbands, please.”
Roland held up his right arm, showing off his wristband. “My hype men aren’t going in, they’re just here to make me look good.”
The guard looked between his stylish eminence, and the comparatively mundane Ferguson and Alfonzo–who weren’t even meeting dress code–and nodded. “Yeah, you’re onto something there.”
“First rule of looking good, my man,” Ferguson said. “Hang out with a fat boy and a weird boy.”
Alfonzo folded his arms. “I am only a little overweight, and Ferguson isn’t THAT weird, but we make it work.”
The bodyguard reconsidered his assessment. “Y’know what? I’d let you two in just for that.”
Alfonzo and Ferguson nodded, uttering quick “Hms!” in victory, before the former noticed a car approaching and gawked. “Dudes… look.”
Roland and Alfonzo turned to look and joined Ferguson in slack-jawed staring as a hot pink stretch limousine nearly long as a school bus slowly pulled up to the front of the school. The other students waiting turned as well, staring in shock at the very long car and the startling fact that it had no wheels. Just over a foot off the ground, the car hovered in defiance of gravity, moving soundlessly except for the whistling whine of the engines that kept it aloft.
“You know what? I’m starting to think she needs therapy,” Ferguson said.
Alfonzo hummed. “Yes, or two years hard labor in the crystal mines.”
Ferguson looked at Alfonzo. “I’m also starting to think you
Two men stepped out of the front of the hover limo–two more bald and intimidating men in suits who walked to the back. With the driver standing at-ease, his passenger reached over and opened the rear-hinged “suicide door” of the limo, a misty fog rolling out from the bottom of the door and down the carpet.
The first person to step out of the car was not Brittney, however. It was Chantal, wearing a pink dress that hung off one shoulder with a red and white belt and matching white high-heeled boots. She shook her head from side to side, waving her short hair back and forth and took a few steps down the carpet before turning to look at the door.
Wearing a long blue dress, matching heels, and a hat that hung a black veil over part of her face, Megan emerged next and strutted over to join Chantal.
Ferguson whistled at the sight of both girls. “Dang, Roland… going to the dance with Megan lookin’ all like a high school Rhianna…”
Roland leaned on his cane with one hand, while he cradled his chin between the index finger and thumb of the other to appraise her. “I normally go to these things stag, but now I don’t mind havin’ someone to dance with.”
Ferguson turned to Roland. His face was serious once more. “But what about Drew? Are you going to subject him to flying solo here?”
“We won’t be there with him, yes? Neither will Marco, or anyone who can’t get a dance date,” Alfonzo warned.
“He understands. Brittney wasn’t about to let me go to the dance unless I had a date, so…” Roland said. “Besides, last couple days he’s been shockingly popular with girls.”
Ferguson and Alfonzo both slammed their thumbs down on the blue X button of the controller in their minds.
“… Not to rag on your bro, but this is Andrew McCormick,
right? Like… he’s barely ranked above me, man.” Ferguson looked at Alfonzo. “Nah, you’re completely off the market.”
Alfonzo was a little worried. “Who has been talking to him, is it someone with nefarious intentions? Maybe they were paid by the Vanderhoffs?”
At that moment, Drew leaped without warning from the limo, positioned himself in midair, and came down in a three-point landing with his left foot leading and his right trailing. He was stylishly composed, wearing a blue tuxedo in the same color as the Stingerborg armor, the stylish attire offset by a pair of blue and white high-top sneakers. Rising from his kneel, he tilted his head to flick his styled hair, unexpectedly longer and pulled into a low ponytail, and gave Roland, Alfonzo, and Ferguson a surprisingly ominous look.
He then broke into a grin and waved to them. “Hey, guys.”
Roland, Ferguson, and Alfonzo were all struck silent by the sharp-dressed man in front of them, Roland needing a moment before he spoke. “… Drew?”
A girl in the back of the crowd called out. “Damn, that dude cleans up good!”
Drew let out a small laugh, before turning to the limo. “One sec.”
He extended his hand to the open doorway, and Sabrina’s trembling hand reached out to take his. She was wearing a relatively modest yellow dress, with sea green and blue stripes at the hem, and blue slippers. With care he guided her down and offered her his arm, which she took while trying her best not to fidget.
As they stepped away from the limo, the last occupant emerged. Wearing an elegant pink cheongsam bordered with blue and patterned with lavenders, Brittney emerged from the car. Her long hair hung down mostly, except for a pair of braids that were tied around at the back of her head to guide her hair straight down. In her free hand she held a fur-tipped fan, which she used to hide the bottom half of her face as she walked up.
Closing the fan and revealing her perennial glower, she swept it downward as she announced. “Now the party may begin.”
With that, the guards at the door opened them and the guards at the front pulled down the velvet rope to allow students to head down the carpet behind Brittney.
Drew was Roland’s best friend, knowing him ever since he moved to Echo Creek when they were little. Still… he couldn’t help but be a little alarmed. “… What’s this?”
Walking with Sabrina closer to Roland, he leaned towards him. “This is the best I’m ever gonna look, so I’m rolling with it.”
“Okay, but what did Brittney want for the makeover…”
He stopped and realized that Drew’s injuries were gone. “… And I’m betting the medical treatment.”
Drew looked at Sabrina, who answered. “Um… that he accompanied me t-to the dance. That’s all… she didn’t ask him about… any… theoretical pranks…”
Confirming it with a nod, Drew added. “And if she had, I would’ve left on the spot.”
Chantal suddenly leaned in, hugging Sabrina’s other arm, making her freeze like a rabbit, and Ferguson to stare at her like deer caught in her high beams. “There is a prank though, right?”
Megan rolled her eyes as she joined Roland’s side and pulled him from Alfonzo and Ferguson. “Chantal, back off with that.” She then grinned wolfishly at him. “Hey~ big pimpin’~”
Roland flushed as he was led along. “Dang… you’re looking amazing.” He turned to Alfonzo and Ferguson. “You guys sit tight, aight?”
Ferguson was still gawking at Chantal as she smirked at Megan, while the extremely married Alfonzo sharply saluted Roland and
Drew. “Good luck and good night, yes?”
“I’ve got the luck part down pat!” Roland boasted.
Megan laughed. “Yeah, I’ve been up since six in the morning getting ready for tonight, you’d better appreciate.”
Chantal shrugged her shoulders. “And you’re still only the third best-dressed person here.”
“Pfft!” Megan dismissed that outright. “Please, I’m number two.”
Brittney looked back at them. “No need to debate, you all share the number two spot.” She opened the fan to wave it at herself. “But that was obvious from the start.”
Right as she made that boast, the air slashed vertically in front of her, and a shimmering portal swirled outward wide enough to block the path of Brittney, her entourage, and the other students. Seeing literal magic materialize in front of her, the rich girl’s eyes went wide while the guards all visibly tensed after being so statue-like before.
Stepping out of the portal, the picture of grace in a glittering rose red shoulderless evening dress with a rainbow-trailing shooting star that wrapped around it was Mabel, her literally sparkling hair held in place by a matching red hairband instead of the vibrant pink. Touching down on the carpet in heels that matched her dress, Mabel brought her fingers up and blew a kiss to her classmates as she winked.
At her left, Misao stepped out, wearing a short dark blue dress with large straps that hung off her shoulders and connected to long sheer fingerless gloves that matched her stockings. Like Mabel’s, her dress, matching shoes, and the blue carnation in her hair all sparkled. Her hair also shone, now dyed completely black with a blue hue on the other side and best visible when facing her front.
On Mabel’s right a girl that no one recognized for a moment stepped through, in a yellow halter-top chiffon dress that likewise sparkled. It clicked that the girl with shoulder length, shiny black hair and no old hat to hide it was Janna when they noticed she was wearing a pair of jarring black knee high combat boots that were at least laced up tight.
“Stylish minds think alike,” Mabel said to Brittney. “Because we both
decided to be fashionably late to this par-tay~!”
“… Wow,” Roland said as he openly gawked at Mabel.
Megan would be offended, if she was not in awe of Janna’s glow up. “Yo…”
She wasn’t the only one impressed, as Drew averted his eyes from Janna–and she caught it with a more vicious smirk.
Sabrina was looking back and forth between Mabel and Misao, her head almost spinning as she sputtered. “… Th-they’re real…”
Brittney looked around as the portal closed behind Mabel, Misao, and Janna. “Where is she?”
Mabel didn’t even pretend to play dumb. “Star is not coming, like you asked her.”’
She held up the Dimensional Scissors. “These right here mean she can’t sneak in.”
With that she tossed them to Brittney, who snatched her free hand out and caught them. Staring at the scissors, she opened them and closed them, gently cutting into the fabric of space time as she did. Pulling the scissors out of the hole she made, she closed and put them away.
“Good.” She looked at Janna, and the bracelet she wore. “Where’d you get–?”
“Jackie Lynn Thomas, who is not showing up,” Janna replied, cutting her off.
Her brow furrowed; Brittney looked Janna over before she turned her nose up. “Well, you put in the effort to look decent. You’re in.”
Janna’s smile was thin and fake. “Yeah, like your permission matters.”
Mabel stepped aside, moving Misao and Janna with her. “Let’s be nice, guys. We’re here to have a nice night, not kick off more drama.”
Misao agreed as she followed the two so Brittney could pass. “Ja, this is Fraulein Wong’s evening. We’re just a part of it.”
At the back of the crowd, as everyone started going inside, Ferguson and Alfonzo watched them.
“Started from the bottom, now they way up,” Ferguson muttered. “Comic book nerds dancing with cheerleaders; there’s hope in this world.”
Alfonzo looked at him. “Well, yeah. You almost married the Pixie Empress, you know.”
Ferguson nodded and placed his hands on his hips. “There’s just too much of me to love, Al.”
He then looked at Alfonzo and jokingly began to ask. “On that note–how do you and sugar wings–?”
“Don’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to handle the answers to,” Alfonzo warned, in a dead serious voice, shutting Ferguson up.
“Alfonzo~! Ferguson~!” Both boys turned and walked around the limo, where they saw Star sitting in a front yard across the street from the school in a folding lawn chair along with Shermie, who was in a plastic patio chair. There was a cooler between them, and a can of Pitt Cola in her hand. “Have you ever tried this peach soda? It’s actually got a pit in them!”
The two lit up in smiles and quickly crossed the street to join her, Alfonzo reaching her first. “Hey, Star!”
Ferguson was grinning ear to ear again. “Came to watch the fallout?”
Star shook her head. “I’m just here so I’m not too far away from my scissors. Grab a drink, sit down! Let’s have our own party right here!”
“I thought you would be hanging out with Marco,” Alfonzo said.
“Marco’s hanging out with Dipper and Jackie, finally,”
Star said with mock exasperation. “So, I’m here to have brewskis with the bros.”
She stopped herself. “Well, not exactly brewskis, since we’re in public and that’s apparently a crime here.”
Shermie shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, things aren’t like they were back when I was a kid. Back then you could brown bag it and nobody would care unless you acted like a putz who couldn’t hold his liquor.”
Ferguson immediately caught the implication. “Wait, you can drink below twenty-one in Mewni?”
“There really isn’t
a legal drinking age because, you know, Mewni is a brutal medieval society where there's no fridges to preserve food or water. But most other dimensions I’ve been to, it’s always sixteen,” Star explained.
“Can confirm!” Alfonzo piped in. “In the Pixie Kingdom it is also sixteen… but they don’t drink alcohol–just do space cocaine!”
Ferguson pouted. “… I want space coke.”
As Alfonzo dug through the cooler and pulled out a soda, Star shook her head. “I wouldn’t recommend it. Do enough of it and the next thing you know you’re doing really lame dances to bad songs that end up all over social media and all you feel after is dirty.”
Shermie chuckled. “Speaking from experience, girlchik?”
Star pulled out her Magic Mirror compact and showed it to Shermie, Alfonzo, and Ferguson. “Secondhand embarrassment.”
The three stared as a video clip played.
“It’s the~! It’s the~! It’s the Rick Dance~!”
The music sang as the dancing on screen played.
All three cringed in disgust. “Eugh!”
Ferguson grabbed his own drink and sat down on the grass to look at the school. “Well, I’d still take that over the cringefest that’s going to go down in there–and not only because it looked like there was nothing but cute alien chicks in that vid.”
He looked at Star. “Right?”
Star took a sip of her soda. “Actually? No… I hope they all have fun.” She gestured with her can to the the dance. “Misao and Mabel and Janna are there, and at the end of the day Brittney put so much effort into this that it’d be a shame if it wasn’t fun or interesting. If it can be that, then I won’t mess it up, and I definitely won’t wish that something bad happens.”
Exchanging looks with each other, Ferguson and Alfonzo both nodded, before both held their sodas to her in a toast. Reading the proverbial room, Shermie joined in as Ferguson responded. “Well, that just proves we’re at the better party anyway.”
Star smiled and clinked her can to the other three. “Thanks.”
What had started as Noxic’s half-built workshop and a clearing for more facilities was now indistinguishable from the rest of the ruin that was The Scraplands. What had started out as Noxic was barely distinguishable from the scrap as well, the mechanical man wedged into a deep hole in the ground barely wider than he was, his limbs and head the only parts of his body sticking out of it.
Nearby, loud thuds filled the air, as Typhus lay on the ground, being literally beaten into a pulp by Hammer Kong. Everything from his shoulders down was a whitish-green and red salsa spread over the ground, and the enraged combat mecha was still pounding away at it like its existence offended him more than Typhus ever did intact.
“Make me to hammer things! Give me hammers for hands! Put me to work where there’s nothing but SCREWS?! And then you have the nerve to keep runnin’ into my hammers, and then you have the nerve to not get back up when I pound you into the ground?! AND NOW YOU KEEP GETTING ALL OVER ME WITH YOUR INNARDS?! YOU BASTARDS I’LL NAIL YOU TO THIS PLANET’S CORE!”
Typhus didn’t say anything, but not because he was unconscious or in too much pain. A half hour into the beating, he and Noxic both reasoned that anything they said would just make Hammer Kong angrier–or at least angrier than saying nothing at all made him.
“I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME, SAY SOMETHING!” The Combat Mecha roared. “SAY ONE MORE THING AND I’LL KILL YOU!”
Somehow, over his own furious raving, the sound of feet hitting the ground behind him alerted Hammer Kong, and he turned around to face Jara. The sight of the red-garbed Magnavore made him see red, which in turn made her hard to see–not that he wanted to look at her. “YOU COME TO GET NAILED LIKE YOUR FRIENDS HERE, LADY?!”
“Phrasing,” Jara flatly answered.
That just, as one could guess, enraged Hammer Kong further. “I’M GONNA POUND THE CRAP OUT OF YOU FOR TURNING MY WORDS INTO AN INNUENDO!”
“Try it,” Jara said before she lashed Hammer Kong across his face and chest with her beam whip.
Like the very concept of existence itself, this infuriated the mad robot and he lunged at her. Being nimble, Jara sidestepped the lunge and hopped back from Hammer Kong as he turned and charged after her.
“RUNNING AWAY IS JUST PISSING ME OFF MORE!” He yelled.
“Provide me a list of things that don’t
make you angry, you berserker ball peen.”
“BALL PEEN?! BALL PEEN?! I’M A CLAW HAMMER, YOU BIGOT!”
“All brute force, no finesse,” Jara said as she seemed to flow like water around his angry surging swings. Dodging two of the attacks, she lashed him twice more then made a “come on” gesture with his free hand.
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!” Hammer Kong howled before charging after her as she continued hopping back, leading him away from his battered nails née Magnavores.
Typhus let out a sigh of relief, as Noxic groaned and began wiggling his way to get out of the ground. “Finally… I thought she’d never do somethin’.”
It took some effort, but soon Noxic was out of the hole and on all fours–his torso reshaped into a long cylinder that pointed straight up, while his head was bent at a right angle so he could at least look forward as he skittered over towards his pal. “You okay there, big guy?”
“I feel about as good as you look, baby,” Typhus said.
Noxic let out a laugh. “Then you must be feelin’ great!”
Both Magnavores broke into laughter, glad that they could laugh at anything and not get hit with a hammer for it.
Back on the winding path out of The Scraplands, Hammer Kong was–to make sure it was clear–angry as he swung his limbs/weapons at Jara.
“YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE WEARING RED, BECAUSE OF ALL THE BLOOD I’M GONNA HAMMER OUT OF YOU!” He yelled.
“Now who is the bigot, presuming I am red-blooded like some human?” Jara sassed back.
“HOW DARE YOU CALL ME A HYPOCRITE! IT’S NOT MY FAULT YOU MEATBAGS LOOK THE SAME!”
His sole eye slit lit up and unleashed a shower of beams that Jara drew her cloak around in front of her to deflect in every direction, before she jumped away once more, opening the distance between them. Frustrated that this attack failed, Hammer Kong barreled after her, yelling incoherently as he picked up more and more speed.
Landing in front of a pile of cars and other motor vehicle wrecks, Jara folded her arms and waited for Hammer Kong to pick up speeds rivaling a runaway freight train–before she nodded her head and vanished in a blast of flame. With no target for all of that momentum, the pile of car wrecks would have to do, and it was not up to the task as Hammer Kong plowed into and through the ruins to come out the other side, covered in steam and scorch marks from the friction of all that steel scraping against his armored body.
With Jara not splattered all over hismy, Hammer Kong looked around and realized that she was gone. “HEY! DID YOU JUST LEAD ME HERE TO GET ME AWAY FROM THOSE OTHER TWO NAILS? BECAUSE I MIGHT DECIDE TO GO BEYOND RAGE IF THAT’S THE CASE!”
There was no answer except for the sound of someone biting into a sandwich. Turning around and looking up, Hammer Kong found a young man sitting in the open doorway of an excavator, eating a thick, meat-filled sandwich soaked in red sauce that stained his hands, soaked the bread, and was smeared all over his face. The sauce dribbled onto the black hoodie sweater he wore and the image of a brightly smiling dirty-blonde teenage girl across its chest, and some even dripped from the bill of the black baseball cap with a deer skull in its middle he wore over his curly sandy brown hair.
“WHAT. ARE YOU. LOOKING AT?!” Hammer Kong screamed at the young man.
“Nothing,” the young man replied as he took one hand from his sandwich to pull out his phone.
“OH YEAH?! I’M NOTHING TO YOU?!” Hammer Kong roared.
“Nah, I’m nothin’ to you,” he replied as he hit a button and music began to play.
Hammer Kong stared at the young man as he resumed eating his sandwich like nothing mattered. As the soft guitar intro began to float through the air, Hammer Kong’s ire ignited once more, and he looked around to his left and right. “RRRRRARGH! I NEED TO FIND MORE NAILS!”
Completely forgetting the young man, the combat mecha turned and noticed a glow in the distance–the spotlights from Echo Creek Academy shining into the night sky and the holograms advertising Spirit Week by Wong. Growling, he began stomping towards them. As Hammer Kong left, the young man kept eating his sandwich and began to hum to the lyrics.
On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
Jo would’ve used her super strength to ride her bike a little faster to get to Hillhurst, but being a reasonable girl when she wanted to, she realized that all she’d likely do is destroy her bike and she’d have to walk, or Hulk jump to get there. Hulk jumping, while something she could probably do and be hella fun, wasn’t conductive to allowing her to think about what she should say.
Coasting along the relatively secluded road that the driveway of the abandoned Hillhurst Manor led to, she did just that. “A simple sorry should be enough–nothing fancy or dramatic… just admit I was wrong to be like that and work not to do it again. I think Dipper would appreciate that… the others too, obviously.”
There she stood in the doorway
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinkin' to myself
"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
She shook her head. “No, no… get out of that toxic mindset! They’re not the others;
Star, Misao, Mabel, Janna… they’re part of the team, they’re all doing their part. I mean, shoot… Star’s a better fighter than all of us combined! She’s literally saved our butts more than once.”
Reaching the Hillhurst driveway, she slowed down to a stop and sighed. “… And Nano’s right, they won’t give up on me, and I can’t give up on me–not when there’s so much more at stake.”
Then she lit up a candle
And she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say
Just as she was about to pick up a little more speed to get to the house, Jo abruptly stopped. Parked completely across the narrow driveway, to block sight of it from the road, was a dark green sports car, a McLaren 12c. Staring at the car, and seeing no one inside through the tinted windows, she looked around for any sign of an owner or anyone who could explain why it was there.
“Wait, what…? Whose…?”
A glow in the distance then caught her immediate attention, and she looked towards Hillhurst. Then she grew alarmed when she saw it was a fire, sending a dense smoke streaming upward.
“Welcome to the Hotel California…”
= - = 61 = -=
So. U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer, or Hammer to Fall by Queen? I cannot decide.