Chapter 9: SAFE!

As Roy and Beatrice went around the town alerting the others of Mr. Muckle's 'change in plans', Mullet Fingers and I were forced to stay behind. Our heads shot up as Mr. Muckle walked out of the trailer, slamming the door behind him as he wiped the sweat off his face.

"Where is that idiot?" He muttered to himself. We watched from behind the bushes as he grabbed a fire extinguisher, glaring at the ground. I tilted my head confused then sent Mullet a look, asking 'what is he doing?' Mullet Finger shrugged, then crouched and moved closer, giving me a signal to follow him.

"Thinking about crashing my party? How 'bout a little arctic blast to change your mind?" Mr. Muckle continued to talk aloud. I quietly gasped when I saw him spray the fire extinguisher into the owl holes, quickly slamming my hands over my mouth to keep the evil man from noticing. Mullet clenched his fists beside me and grit his teeth angrily. The man laughed and sprayed another, mocking the owls. He sprayed another and Mullet grabbed the fishing net, storming up to the man.

"I wouldn't do that again if I were you." He said, eyes narrowed into a glare. I walked up behind Mullet, glaring at the man with my arms crossed over my chest.

"Who's gonna stop me, you?" Mr. Muckle chuckled. "Her?" He asked, gesturing with the hose of the extinguisher to me.

"You asked for it." Mullet said, putting the handle of the net in his mouth.

"What are you going to do? You gonna throw your little butterfly net? Is that what you're going to do?" Mr. Muckle taunted then the net fell over his head. He struggled to get out, setting off the extinguisher a few times. "Hey. Ok, you just made a big mistake, nature boy," he hissed, then groaned as Mullet tugged the rope and he fell to the ground. I chuckled at the man who squirmed like a trapped fish, stepping up beside my boyfriend.

"Ouch," Mullet Fingers said, trying not to grin.

"Roy's gonna be so mad at us," I said amused.

"Yeah, yeah. Just help me move him into the trailer." Mullet Finger said. I rolled my eyes and grabbed the man's legs, yelping when he tried to kick my head, and Mullet grabbed his shoulders. We slowly made our way into the trailer and sat the struggling Mr. Muckle in a chair.

"Find something to tie him up with." Mullet Fingers said and we searched through the room, coming up with a rope and some duct tape. I wrapped the rope around his torso and the chair as Mullet bound his legs and taped his hand to the chair's arms. I got the sweet taste of satisfaction as we looped the tape around his mouth.

"Finally, some peace and quiet!" I said relieved. Mullet grinned at me and I took a step back, looking over our work. "Do you think we should have taken the net off?"

"Nah, he'll be fine," Mullet waved off my concern.

I glanced at the digital clock sitting on the desk and nudged Mullet. "We should get going, it's already 3:25. Roy and Beatrice should be here soon." He nodded and we moved back outside, hearing the motor of a boat coming closer. We moved to the bank of the river beside the lot, seeing Beatrice and Roy pulling up.

"How'd it go?" Mullet Fingers and I asked.

"You're never going to believe this." Beatrice said.

"Uh... We ran into a little trouble." Roy said and I cocked my eyebrow. Mullet gave them a hand out of the boat. "The police are after me and we're out of time."

"Hah! You should see what Mullet's got us into!" I laughed, winking at him when he scowled at me. Beatrice and Roy looked at me confused.

"Aw, just come on!" Mullet Fingers said. We moved around the broken bulldozer and went inside the trailer.

"What are we doing here?" Beatrice asked before we could get a word in.

"Yeah, what's going on?" Roy asked and Mullet Fingers sighed, opening up the door to the office of the trailer. Mr. Muckle screamed, red in the face, at the two newcomers and I winced, rubbing the back of my neck sheepishly when the two turned to look at us stunned. Mullet shut the door again, muffling the gagged protests.

"You can't do this!" Roy shouted.

"It just happened," Mullet defended, eyes wide.

"He was trying to kill the owls!" I told them.

"What were we supposed to do?" Mullet asked.

"We gotta get him out of here now before people start..." Roy said, pointing a finger at us, before he moved to peek out the door window. "...showing up." He sighed exasperated. He shared a look with Beatrice and in my mind I related them to parents who had a naughty child.

"Too late." Beatrice said. Mullet Fingers rolled his eyes.

"Damn, that's a lot of people." I said, peering out the window. "So, uh, did we ever decide what we were going to do when they got here?" I asked them, making them look at me wide-eyed. "Of course not."

Beatrice peeked out the window once more and saw a man walking towards the trailer then immediately went outside to stop him. "Hi, Mayor Grandy." We heard her say before our attention was turned back to dealing with Mr. Muckle.

"We can't just keep him like this!" Roy said, crossing the room, opening the door, and gesturing to the pathetic man.

"Well, why not?" Mullet asked.

"Because we'll get in even more trouble!" Roy said.

"Mullet, they're already in enough trouble. Just because we'll be safe doesn't mean they will," I told him. Roy suddenly looked like he remembered something then started rifling through the organized papers on the desk.

"What are you doing?" Mullet asked confused as I moved to stand beside them.

"I'm looking for the other copy of the environmental report." He said and found a manila envelope. I glanced back as Mr. Muckle started struggling more.

"Well, whatever that is, it doesn't seem like Muckle wants you to find it." I pointed out to them.

"Bingo! Page 5. Yes!" Roy said. Mullet moved out of the viewing of the window, pulling me back with him.

"There's a cop walking this way. Let's go!" Mullet Fingers said, pushing us to Muckle's room then out that door, just as the cop knocked on the door. Thankfully Mullet remembered to close the door between the two rooms.

"What are we going to do!?" I asked the two as we quickly walked away from the trailer.

"We're going to stick to the plan." Roy told us. "You need to let these people know what's going on–"

"What?" I asked confused. "Roy–"

"Not us. We can't be seen." Mullet Fingers said seriously. "Only you can do this, Roy. You have to tell them."

"Ok." Roy said nodding. I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Good luck, Tex." Mullet said with a grin, cuffing Roy lightly on the shoulder before pulling me with him to the cover of the trees where we'd be able to watch without anyone seeing us. We crouched in the bushes as Roy walked on stage, talking to the mayor for a moment before moving to talk to the crowd. He looked nervous, but when he started speaking, he had everyone's attention. Mullet and I grinned at each other and Mullet kissed my temple, pulling me close.

"Who likes pancakes?" Roy started out and the majority of the crowd raised their hands. "Yeah, me, too. I love pancakes. And a pancake house will be great in Coconut Cove. But not here. Not in this spot because somebody was here first and they still are. They're little baby owls." People started looking up in the air for the birds and I chuckled, gripping Mullet Fingers' hand.

"No, not up in the trees, but in the burrows you see all around. And if you build a Mother Paula's here, you're gonna kill some really beautiful animals. Now, just think about that as you're chowing down on your key lime pie pancakes." Suddenly the bulldozer started up near us and we saw Mr. Muckle at the wheel, grinning. He drove it forward and Mullet Fingers and I crept closer to the site. People were starting to move out of the way and Mr. Muckle stood up.

"Hey, Coconut Cove!" He said hands in the air. "Welcome to pancake house number one hundred!" He cheered then sat back down. Mullet Fingers moved from my grip, standing in front of the bulldozer before the man could run over anymore holes.

"Mullet!" I hissed, then sighed with a fond smile on my face and a roll of my eyes. I moved up to stand next to him, clutching his hand and a little pale. The bulldozer seemed a lot bigger when it's moving towards you. It stopped about a foot from us.

"Get out of the way, kids!" Muckle yelled irritated.

"You want to bury those owls, you got to bury me, too!" Mullet yelled back.

"And me!" I said determined.

"Me, too." Roy said, joining us.

"That makes four of us," Beatrice stated, hands on he hips.

"We will not let you kill these owls." Roy told him.

"Ladies and gentlemen, these kids are a little misguided," Muckle told the confused crowd. "They have no proof of any owls! You folks see any owls? 'Cause I don't."

"Why would they come out of their holes while everybody's here?" Mullet asked him. "All we do is make noise! Cars. Trucks. Bulldozers!" Mullet said, gesturing to the machine. "All we do is scare them!"

"Yeah!" Roy agreed. "No wonder we don't see them. Maybe if we all just be quiet, they'll come out." He suggested to the crowd. We all turned to glare at Muckle as he made the bulldozer's engine roar. A policeman got up on the machine and turned it off, looking to Roy.

"Go ahead, Roy." He said and I grinned, turning to my dark-haired friend.

"Why don't we try it?" He acknowledged the crowd. "Let's all be quiet for one minute. Just sixty seconds, ok?"

"This is absurd!" Muckle put in and we glared at him again.

"Ok?" Roy asked again and they all nodded in agreement. "Everybody ready? Go." They hushed each other and we all started looking around for hints of the owls. We four shared anxious glances when none were popping up, then Beatrice spotted one. I smiled wide, holding Mullet Fingers' arm, then gasped when a few more popped up in the burrows around us. I chuckled when I saw that one had a couple babies. We had actually done it.

"Put your hands behind your back, please, sir. You're under arrest for violating state permits, operating a bulldozer without a license, and, uh, a lot of other stuff." The officer said, cuffing the man. We all clapped and I shared a wide grin with Mullet Fingers. I chuckled as the owls fled into their burrows again at the sudden noise.

"Ladies and gentlemen of Coconut Cove." 'Mother Paula' said from the stage, drawing back everyone's attention. "Ladies and gentlemen. Excuse me, Mr. Mayor. Ahem. I would just like to say that I, Mother Paula, am simply shocked by what has gone on here today. And you, young man, are no longer an employee of Mother Paula's. You're fired."

"You can't do that. She's crazy!" Muckle said as the crowd cheered. "I do the firing! She's only an actress." Everyone booed him.

"And, Mr. Mayor, I would like to donate this land to your town as an owl sanctuary!" She said and my lips quirked up amused as I tried to fight a laugh.

"Can she really do that?" Beatrice asked, arm on Roy's shoulder.

"She just did. And on live TV." Roy replied and I chuckled. He laughed with me.

"Mother Paula, that's a grand idea. Folks, doesn't that sound like a grand idea?" The mayor asked and the crowd cheered again. "And let me assure you my office is going to launch a full investigation into how the presence of these fine little creatures was overlooked."

Mr. Muckle was taken away by other cops and Mullet Fingers and I slipped away without Beatrice or Roy noticing.

We both smiled as we watched Roy and Beatrice hug their family and friends.

"Looks like we did a good day's work." I stated, hands on my hips. "Maybe we should take a day off."

"A day? Hah! With all the work we did, we deserve a week at the least, Frosty!" Mullet Fingers laughed, picking me up and spinning me around. "We did it!"

"Yeah, we did, didn't we," I said with a wink, moving in to peck him on the lips. He shot me a look as I pulled away and then yanked me close to him, giving me a long kiss that was well overdue. A couple of kids had changed the fates of tons of helpless owls.

Though our story was now over, we still visited the owls every now and then. The Mother Paula's company was forced to go through with the promises the actress made that day, due to the bad publicity. Now it serves as a wildlife preserve. Beatrice and I had, through everything, become tentative friends, but we we're quite there yet. Mullet Fingers still had hope though. When it came to Roy though, we always had a way for him to know we wanted to talk.

As we walked along the beach with the fishing net, Mullet Fingers pointed out a sign. A lighthouse was to be destroyed for another hotel building. Roy rolled his eyes at our looks and nudged us on with a smile. Florida definitely had it's own way of keeping us busy.


A/N: IT'S FINISHED! YES! I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO DOING IT! YES, THIS REALLY DOES HAVE TO BE IN ALL CAPS! It has been a year and a half since I updated and I must say that I am SO, SO SORRY! I really have no excuses except for laziness, but it's done now! I love all my reviewers and I'm so glad you stuck with me this long! Thanks again and I hope you all are as sad as I am that it's over! I liked how it ended, though I felt that I could have done more with the romance side of things.