I used Sammy and Cash in Jinxed For Life as well. Just to clarify, because I nearly forgot about them: they were featured briefly in the episode Car Trouble in which Cyborg's car gets stolen several times. Cash is the taller one with the toothpick, Sammy is the pint-size who looks like a Gizmo knock-off. I think I actually mixed them up when I put them in as cameos in Jinxed For Life, so I'll have to go back and fix that…
Other characters appearing are Johnny Rancid and Kitten.
Um…I was putting together source material for the next few chapters of Jinxed For Life, and ended up writing this. I thought it was way too big to be an Old School insert, so I decided to put it on its own. It's still set in the fanon that Metronome Maven and I have…established, I guess is the word, over the past few years during our time in the fandom.
And So Another Day Began
He had planned on a smooth, quiet exit in which he slid out into the hall like Casanova and allowed his latest score to sleep in, but it was dark, and Billy's eyesight was bad in the first place.
She rolled over and giggled at the sight of him on the floor, pants only pulled up half-way and still no shirt. "Where's the fire? Get back in bed."
He shook his head. "Places to do. People to be. School," He added. "I should probably go to school."
Yes, school. Politics, Brother Blood, donations, business. He had been so angry before, but that was done now, out of his system. Billy could never stay mad for long. He didn't know how to hold grudges.
She snorted. "That school…"
"Do you need money for the train or anything?"
"What a gentleman," She snickered. "This is the twenty-first century, dork. And I have a job, unlike some punks."
"Hey, going to school basically is a job."
"That school…you know, there are so many rumors about that place. Any of them true?"
"Well…" She twirled a strand of hair around her finger coyly, and Billy had a deep and sudden urge to be far, far away. "Like, how they're training kids to be mass-murderers. How it's the basis for a world-domination plot, and you're all a bunch of psychopaths with a death-wish or something. How you're hiding nukes there. And like," She wiggled her shoulders, letting the sheet all away even further from her bare breasts, "how your dad owns the whole operation or something. It's just what I heard. I don't believe a word of it, of course. It's so stupid."
"You think so?" He was fully clothed now, and opening the door. "Because every word is completely true." He winked, and slammed the door shut on her shocked expression.
Well, what the hell did she expect, asking him dumb questions like that?
And so another day began...
He made it to first period, but Jaya and Seymour had commandeered his usual corner in the back in his absence. And he was tired, and still mad about wasting the night with another dumb girl asking dumb questions about his dumb personal life. He didn't even notice when Professor Pandora stopped in front of his seat and stared at him for a good long minute.
"William? Mr. Jones."
Finally, he looked up.
The professor smirked. "What was her name?"
"Allison. I wanted to call her just "Ally" or "Al", but she didn't like the implications. Apparently giving your one-night stand a nickname is a huge taboo. I almost thought she was gonna walk out."
The smirked slid off Pandora's face, and replaced itself with an amused twist that was generally bad news. "Much as I'm interested in hearing the sordid details of your night-life, I was in fact referring to the name of the wife of the ruler of Spain in the seventeenth century."
Billy broke into his reflexive grin, the one that worked on unsuspecting adults and girls. "Ah. That's kind of different, isn't it?"
Angelica reached over behind him and flicked the back of his head.
"Girls are so dumb!" He blurted out in the hallway.
Jaya was quick to aim a kick at his shins, and he was quick to dodge.
"Maybe the ones that are dumb enough to bother with you," Jinx snapped, and stomped away.
Billy was pretty sure it was just girls in general.
He wished Xilo was around so he could vent to him, but the alien had been sent off on anonymous field work, and wouldn't be back for another week.
People generally assumed that Billy held with many stereotypical Southern beliefs, such as strict Christianity, women-staying-in-the-kitchen, darkies-are-only-good-for-shining-my-shoes, and all other forms of nonsense. He had given up trying to prove people wrong. Better to be distinctly hickish and southern than conform to the, like, totally Norcal scene, yeah?
However, he was somewhat sexist to a point.
In his childhood, there had been two kinds of women: frigid business bitches, and cocktail waitresses. Neither were particularly endearing.
The business scene was a man's world, despite the progress towards equality in the workforce. The big boys still ran the office, the old firms were still in the old families, and the old families held with tradition.
The only way a woman could really make progress was with good sex used correctly.
Billy had seen it first-hand. No one believed him, but his father's blonde accountant had 'worked' her way up the ladder in precisely this fashion. Billy had been something like her confidante.
"The only way a woman can get anything done around here is if she cracks the proverbial whip," she told him one day. "Do you honestly think your father would look twice at me for anything else besides my 'assets'? I don't even think he bothers looking at the numbers I put together for him."
Billy had a particular hate for this woman, and in this way learned to hate all women who used sex for their agenda, and, for that matter, all women who had an agenda. All people who had an agenda.
All that said, Billy loved Angelica unconditionally. All the boys did. But of all the boys, she kept Billy the closest, having claimed responsibility for his welfare when he arrived at HIVE as a clueless, rich little bon-bon, and steadily slid into the role of a hopeless degenerate with an alcohol problem and a horrible attitude amongst other things.
It was corny, but Angelica's only agenda was love. Billy didn't mind going along with it.
So he sat patiently through English as she lectured him on how she understood that his late-night activities were his way of unwinding, but surely moderation had to factor in somewhere, and if it was 'helping' him, why did he always come back to school so unhappy?
"We need to find a better outlet for you," Angelica finished with a flourish. "I have absolutely no idea what kind of outlet, but just something else."
"Get him back into track and field," Bailey grunted. "He was too tired to cause trouble after sprinting ten miles."
"Coach wouldn't take me back if I held him at gunpoint," Billy said quickly. Track and field had been fun for about ten minutes. Then he had figured out that he could get away with ditching classes, and physical education had been the first class to go.
A paper airplane hit him in the back of the head. He turned around just in time to catch Elliot whistling innocently.
The paper airplane contained a message in Seymour and Jaya's joint handwriting.
"Another big article about the local big guys losing money and demanding it from the city," it said. "Nothing about us, just political stuff. Anybody you know? Business partners, that kind of thing?"
Billy snorted, and passed the message on to Angelica. "Here. Maybe this will interest you."
With his excellent hearing, his one compensation for terrible eyesight, Billy heard Seymour and Jaya sigh in exaggerated despair.
Angelica glanced at him carefully. "I didn't want to ask, but…I heard you had detention last week? What was that about?"
There was no Xilo to cover for him and change the subject, so Billy just stared straight ahead and pretended he hadn't heard.
Mr. Jones could not be present for all the meetings concerning one of his many investments, the HIVE Academy. Somehow it had turned into Billy's responsibility to sit there, not really a part of things, listening to adults squabble and plot and wheedle for every cent they could get for weapons, higher tech, bigger facilities, diabolical schemes. Sometimes they talked about education too, when someone reminded them.
The intention was, apparently, that Billy would keep an eye on things, and report to dad like a good kid if he heard anything he didn't like. For the sake of peace, Billy wasn't allowed to talk during these meetings, and he was forbidden from repeating anything he heard to any of the students. The sessions were thinly disguised as "detention".
The article Jaya and Seymour were so worried about probably had to do with money disappearing into strange, anonymous bank accounts with a discrete HIVE watermark somewhere in the paperwork. That had been last week's topic, the big boost in funding from the local bigshots.
Billy had been careful to schedule an appointment with the school psychiatrist during third period, the class time that Brother Blood had taken as his opportunity to instill his profound wisdom on the future generations.
The school psychiatrist was currently Dr. Anderson, the longest-lasting psychiatrist at HIVE ever, being now on his second month and his third paycheck. Dr. Anderson was a happening guy who understood that sometimes students just needed an opportunity to get out of class and finish the homework they hadn't been able to complete during their late-night excursions. He made counseling sessions available for just this purpose, so long as the students helped him fill out basic questionnaires so that they could all pretend a therapy session had actually happened during the hour.
Billy threw himself into the chair and pulled out two nights' worth of incomplete calculus homework.
"What, you don't even say hi?" said Dr. Anderson from behind his crossword puzzle.
"I've got fifty-three problems to finish, thanks."
"That's a snap for you. You little genius, you."
It was true, kind of. Billy was like a calculator. He began filling in answers, not bothering to show the equations or double-check his work. The answers would be right. They always were.
Dr. Anderson pulled out one of the questionnaires he had drafted for such occasions. "Right. The deeds of the day. How are you feeling today?"
"Like a fruit," Anderson narrated as he filled in the response. Billy paused to glare at him. Anderson grinned. "Well, think before you speak. Don't worry, I'm not questioning your sexual preferences. It'll just be whoever else reads this thing. How was last night? Or, last few nights, I suppose I should say."
"I don't even remember. I think that watermelon was spiked. Which is too bad, because I had actually planned to stay sober."
"Alcohol abuse continues," said Anderson, scribbling something down.
"Xilo's gone for another week. You two are good friends, right?"
"We're convenient for each other."
"It's an inconvenience," Billy said uncomfortably.
Dr. Anderson raised an eyebrow and wrote something down. He didn't read what he'd written out loud. Billy leaned out of his chair to try to catch a glance, but his eyesight inhibited his ability to spy.
"What did you-"
"Anything good happen today?" Dr. Anderson cut him off in an unusual no-nonsense tone.
Billy slumped in his chair. "Well, I got out of third period."
"Harboring secret crush on psychiatrist. Possible Florence Nightingale complex…" Anderson noticed Billy's glare, and carefully scribbled out the answer. "Depressive state. No joy in life. Is that better?"
"Vacations are coming up. You feeling homesick? Nostalgic?"
"I'm not going home for vacation."
"Oh really? You're staying here?"
"Hell no. A friend said I could stay at her place for a couple weeks."
"And where does she live?"
Billy frowned, but he couldn't think of anything better to say, so he just said the truth. "The Hamptons."
Anderson narrated his answer. "Student is a lucky bastard-"
"It's going to suck," Billy added quickly, "The Hamptons are really boring, and I hate this girl."
"-And ungrateful. Spoiled brat. Has no idea how good he has it."
"So I've been told."
"Okay, down to the last few. Currently reading what book?"
"Uh…" Billy tried to remember what had happened in English. "Something Shakespearian, I assume."
Anderson snorted, and wrote, "Corialanus. Subtext affecting personal life."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Just ten more problems…
"Looking forward to?"
"Finishing my homework."
"Your greatest desire at the moment?"
"Getting out of this session."
"Most pressing issue?"
"These last six problems…"
"Dogs," said Billy, scribbling in the last number. "Done. What time is it?"
"You've got twenty minutes."
"Great. I'm going to my room. Write me a hall pass."
When asked about his biggest fear, Billy usually just said, "Dogs," and left it at that because it was a nice, one-word answer and couldn't be hashed out psychologically. There were big dogs, and dogs that bit, and dogs that smelled drugs, and dogs that had rabies. There were all kinds of things wrong with dogs. He liked to leave what it was about them he was actually afraid of to the imaginations of others.
But while it was true that dogs were pretty high up on the list of his fears, it didn't top his number-one issue.
His biggest fear was getting with a girl, and realizing the next morning that they were related and he had just performed incest.
And that was putting it simply.
He didn't know how many women his father had encountered in his career. He knew the number was large, and that his father was very good about writing checks to these women in order to help them with their…uh, lives. And the lives of their subsequent children. Billionaires could afford to do things like that.
He also didn't know why his father didn't bother taking these other children into his house, why Billy had been the only one "picked". But that was another issue.
Jones Corporations was a global deal. Every country wanted a supply of nukes and whatever was coming next in the progression of WMDs. George Jones was a very hands-on kind of business man, unusually so. He visited each of his sites personally as often as he could. During his childhood, Billy had been brought along on several of the trips, introduced to the staff. He went to all the restaurants and sites, sat in on the meetings, spent time with his father no matter what. It was a misconception that rich businessmen don't have time for their kids; George Jones made time, all the time. Billionaires could afford to do things like that.
But being there all the time meant he saw his fair share, and knew what was up. Being surrounded by adults and their double-entendres from an early age had made him perceptive.
So when people tried to say, "Billy, there's no way you could ever meet a half-sister and get with her, because there's just no way you could possibly meet in this big wide world," Billy could say in reply:
"Look, my dad has a woman in every port, and then some. I've met them, they're real, and they disappear as soon as they start to 'show' or complain about how pregnancy is getting in the way of their work. I could get with a half-sister by chance any day. I've got better chances than everybody else."
He had considered investigating the matter, just to see how many kids there actually were. That thought lasted for about five seconds. That was another issue.
He ended up falling asleep in his room and missing fourth period too. By the time he woke up, it was half-way through lunch.
Eating was difficult.
It always had been, ever since he had arrived. He had done a good job of hiding it, because he had been determined to prove that he wasn't just some spoiled kid who had no clue what he had gotten himself into, but the truth was that he absolutely hated the food served in the cafeteria. He had been raised on billionaire-fare, gourmet cooking by high-class chefs and never anything less.
According to some of the kids who had come from less-than-good homes (Seymour in particular), the food at HIVE was actually good as long as you could be sure that no one had put any drugs in it. Billy found this difficult to believe.
But speaking up about it would have marked him as rich, and spoiled. So he kept his mouth shut.
Once all the trouble had started about the food being drugged, it had become easier to ditch meals and avoid the crap. But the availability of quality cuisine in Jump City was limited. Eventually Billy resigned himself to being a hungry snob.
Billy dozed through Chemistry, but he was wide awake for Professor Nanson's period, without a doubt the only class he appreciated.
Professor Nanson taught math, according to the school board, but sixth period was generally a free-for-all, any subject the students wanted to touch on. So it was more like a smorgasbord of math, debate, culture, theory, and philosophy.
Nanson didn't ask annoying questions. Nanson didn't wonder aloud why some students should be allowed to miss days of education on end with no consequences while others were punished harshly for ditching one class. Nanson didn't ask him how his dad was doing, and whether or not the faculty would be getting yet another pay cut.
And Nanson taught math, at least supposedly. Math was Billy's thing.
Nanson was also blind, and sometimes Billy got a little vindictive kick out of the idea that there was someone in the world with worse eyesight than him. But Nanson had ways of compensating, and just watching him for an hour every day was a great way to pick up survival tips.
Nanson liked to drop hints about the going-ons of the school board to the students. It was a relief; it lessened the feeling Billy got sometimes that he was a traitor to the other students, that for all his posing he was still stuck in the obedient-son, all-around-good-kid image he had tried so hard to break.
Apparently last week's meeting had already been covered, because the subject of the day was mostly math. But towards the end of the period, Nanson sentenced him to Friday detention in a fatal, sympathetic tone of voice. Billy stayed behind after class to ask.
"It's Brother Blood. It's always Blood now."
"Can't somebody else…?"
"I don't want anybody else there. I want you there." Nanson indicated his head to Billy. "We're counting on you."
"Don't. I'm not even involved-"
"So get dad in on it. Is this where he wanted his investment to go? The school is going to tank."
But "getting dad in on it" meant calling him. Billy hated calling him now. He felt like a freaking kid, tattling about what the mean kids on the playground were doing.
"The board ought to be able to handle it. That's what they're paid to do."
People understood money.
People didn't understand HIVE.
"If it's so bad, why don't you guys just leave?" Sammy demanded.
"For the last time, it's nothing," Billy snapped, and took another mouthful of bourbon.
Sammy and Cash exchanged looks. Cash cleared his throat. "You come out here just about every night needing to blow off steam. You're tired, you're fucked up, you're stressed, and you're not the only one. How can a place like that function with a bunch of you head cases in one building?"
"It just does. People complain about everything because they want sympathy. Do you hear me whining?"
"You said were stressed."
"You asked. I didn't elaborate. Leave me alone."
"Hey, ladies, a few less fingerprints on the car," Johnny Rancid rumbled.
The boys stepped off. Johnny hooked a thumb towards the race tracks. "If nobody's racing tonight, let's split."
"There's nothing else to do in this stupid city," Sammy kicked at the pavement. "Stupid LA-knockoff of a place. There's nothing fracking here for anybody. I don't get why people stay."
"So leave," said Billy.
"I'm off," Cash announced. "I've got work in the morning. You know, real work. Like the kind where somebody who's not your dad gives you money in exchange for-"
"Yeah, yeah, go," Billy aimed a kick in his direction.
"Hey, take the keys. I'll be back later," Johnny threw his key-ring at Cash, who caught it easily. The three boys watched their friend stalk off into the dark.
"He's staying at my place until his dad lets him back into the house," Johnny explained. "It'll be alright. He's a steady guy."
Sammy frowned. "He didn't say anything about it to me."
"Does he have to?" said Billy.
"He comes clean with me. Unlike some people."
"You have something to say?"
"I'll wait my turn. You've got a lot to catch up on."
Light shoving became a serious scuffle, which Johnny tore apart. Sammy pushed him away and pointed at Billy.
"I don't know what the FUCK is up with you guys. Maybe if you'd just tell us, we could help!"
"It's out of your league," said Billy. "Just get over it."
The evening continued awkwardly. There was no Xilo to take Billy's side. Just Sammy, who liked to hold grudges, and Johnny, who didn't care one way or another. Unless he wanted to go back to the school, Billy would have to stick it out.
Everybody always wanted to help. All the local teen villains, the fans of the teen villains, even some of the adult villains tried to butt in and get a handle on the HIVE "situation". It was no use telling them that whatever situation there might have been was out of their league. What Billy really wanted to tell them was that whatever situation there was was his father's fault, but then they would have tried to make an issue about his home life, and there were enough people at school already doing that.
Kitten eventually showed up. Johnny took the hint pretty quick and left them alone in his car.
"Allison says hi," Kitten said sourly, pecking Billy on the cheek.
"Ugh. Don't tell her you saw me."
"She's a ditz. I think she started a rumor once about my tits being fake."
"Huh. She should have just asked me about it, I could have set her straight," said Billy. "She was asking plenty of other personal questions, I'm surprise we didn't touch that subject."
"You need to get pickier about who you bag," said Kitten. "Make everybody's lives easier. Get a girl for every day of the week, and cycle through them. That'll save this city a lot of damage."
They laughed. Kitten definitely wasn't Xilo, but she was enough for the short term.
She was fighting with Fang again, which meant there was a risk that the spider-head might show up in a jealous rage looking to fight any guy stupid enough to touch his woman.
They also had to be careful about Mr. Keith-Kitten's father, better known as Killer Moth-who had formed a deep and unshakable hatred for Billy on sight, even before Billy had started messing around with his daughter.
When they weren't messing around, or running away from one of the jealous men in Kitten's life, Billy and Kitten were a fairly quiet pair, to the point that they had been accused of being a completely boring married couple. It clashed with both their public personas. They liked it.
They ended up spending the night in Johnny's car with the hood down, talking about nothing and bickering over petty things like their summer plans and TV shows and parties. They avoided such topics as school and their parents.
When they woke up, it was four in the morning, and Billy felt it was about time to be getting back to school. He had already missed too much for one week.
"You and that school," said Kitten. "Just ditch. Get a life, get a job, get out."
"Going to school basically is a job," said Billy.
And so another day began...