Cheer Co.

By Shahrezad1

Summary: When Fear Co. changes to fit the times, Johnny Worthington and Rosie Levin are two "old dogs" which have to team up to learn new tricks.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Or really, anything Nathan Fillionrelated. Woe is me.

~/~/~

Chapter 6

Rosie scowled as she squinted at the road. In the morning light, having recently gotten off her shift, the black top seemed to go on forever. The scenery wasn't helping dispel the illusion, either. When she'd left work with Worthington's address in hand Rosie had anticipated it being out of the way, but this was just plain ridiculous.

The streets and communities of Monstropolis, empty sans a few early risers and members of the living undead such as herself, slowly made way for actual homes and yards. Then as time passed those, too, became larger as eight-legged horse pastures began cropping up on both her left and right. It didn't help, either, that she'd already done some driving this morning in order to pick Billy up early.

It became worse when she realized just what kind of "house" she was coming up on, larger buildings appearing beyond expanses of green.

Johnny had sent her the address via text after their blessedly short phone call—a quick, "The House is at 10265 Shadow Park Drive." Using Gook-gle maps to find the place, she'd found it odd at the time that the little arrow seemingly pointed in the middle of a "field." Now she was worried that it might just be correct on all accounts.

Just how rich was Johnny's family? And here he was griping about money issues.

Incredulity almost made her miss the turn, and Rosie jerked sharply as a sign marked, "Shadow Park Drive," appeared on her left. Then she was traveling down a gravel road bracketed by old Tendrilling Oak trees.

They liked to reach out their roots toward passerby, snagging them and pulling them into their maws for later consumption after their victims died of either suffocation or starvation. These, however, were as old as the land themselves and therefore languid. They no more than twitched their limbs as Rosie passed by, and at a greater speed than they would have been able to halt anyway.

Rosie frowned. While Tendrilling Oaks were a classic aspect of Monster landscaping they typically weren't used for public places these days. Previous generations had trained for survival among their roots, but such skills weren't needed anymore, particularly after the development of Scaring Schools such as Monsters University, Fear Tech and Scare U. The end result was that most of the Monster populace eschewed planting them; the fact that the Worthington "house" had them lining their entryway was a testament to the age of the estate.

The Scarer was grateful for their 'stateliness' and consequent lack of speed, for one. Should she decide to rent whatever it was Johnny had prepped for her—although after the length of her drive she was leaning toward an irritated 'no'—the ancient nature of the trees would slow them down, thereby keeping Billy a tad safer. Not that he was known to avoid danger when it was so readily available. She sent a glance her son's direction, the small child's head lolling in his car seat.

When she'd picked him up her mother had been surprised, looking up from her crochet work and muted Soaps in order to gape at her only daughter. Kelly had this talent for all things craft-related, an ability she couldn't seem to pass on to any of her children. One such thing she liked to do was create a blanket for each of the Levin grandchildren. Billy's was a bright boyish blue, with zig-zagging teeth-like edges as a border, the one trait all of Ma Kelly's creations shared.

Rosie wordlessly shrugged and went to pick her son up. He'd blinked blearily at her through his triple set of eyes before going back to sleep once recognition occurred. Because Billy was asleep the Levin matron couldn't verbally ask anything, which was a boon. But that didn't stop her from trying to stall her daughter.

Frankly, Mercado was glad she'd been able to duck out with both child and diaper bag in hand.

Turning her eyes back to the road, brown eyes grew darker and darker the further she progressed. The oak branches spread over the path, light filtering through green spiky leafs and speckling the gravel road. Just when she thought that it would go on forever there came a steady light at the end of the tunnel—a rounding "driveway," as it were, next to a large stone building.

Well, it wasn't Barkingham Palace, but it certainly was larger than any single "house" she'd ever seen. Somewhere between the size of the local library and the Scare School building at Monsters University, it was three stories at the most and a kind of speckled pale orange brick, the color of reptilian monster eggs. The angular roof was charcoal grey shingling, decorated with classic spike architecture and the sweeping arches of the late Bovinian era. The trim was a simple bone-white, and she spied six windows a piece on the first two floors—Rosie assumed the top one was an attic by the existence of only four on that level.

Thorny creeping ivy was growing up the left side of the building, covering the edges of the furthest windows, and the front doors were bracketed by looming pillars, the bottoms of which were carved into clawed feet. If she didn't know any better she would even say that the glint of reflected light on the right-side windows possibly came from a pond at the back of the estate—but that was only speculation.

What had she gotten herself into?

The thought was a curse upon her tongue, a hiss and byword she wanted to spit out like fresh, untainted food. But she couldn't focus on it for long as she came up the arching drive and the doors opened as if on cue. Johnny Worthington strode out like he owned the place, sleeves rolled up to his elbows and looking as fresh as new paint.

Rosie swallowed what she wanted to say and decided that it would be best for her if she remained silent for now.

What was this, some kind of crazed period drama?

Her truck moaned to a stop and before Worthy got any ideas she unlatched her son, placing him over her shoulders so that his suction-cup held him to her even in his sleep, like a vampire bat baby or an oozing sloth. All the Levins had done something similar when they were young, tied or looped to a nocturnal mother as she went about doing her 'nightly' tasks while carrying her children. Billy himself was accustomed to hanging from Rosie by his tentacles, so he hardly stirred as she made the switch. Doing so freed her hands while keeping her boy by her side, although to others it looked like she simply had a rocky shawl covering her back, Billy's limbs reaching around her neck.

She pulled out of the truck itself right as he was coming around to open her door, climbing down and slamming the door shut.

Johnny blinked at the vehemence of her actions, but was able to smoothly move his outstretched hand back to his hips. He seemed unsure what to say so Mercado jerked her chin up in greeting.

"Worthington."

The previous thought of her old enemy as Mr. Fitzwailing Darcy was ousted as soon as Worthington opened his tactless mouth.

"Le-Mercado. Um, g-good to see you," his voice cracked on the word 'good' and she scowled by way of habit, saying nothing. Thus he felt the need to dig his grave deeper, taking a deep breath before launching into what was most definitely a prepared speech.

"I just wanted to say that I appreciate that you're willing to see the house. It means a lot to me, the fact that you've set aside any…preconceived judgments to do it," Johnny began as a venture into some sort of neutral ground. But Rosie was having nothing for it.

"I don't judge you," she stated baldly, "much. Out loud."

He blinked at her, then continued his monologue, "still, I really hope that you like the space-."

Her lungs expanded with a mighty sigh. She was tired, had just gotten off work, and had nearly lost her way on the journey over, "you appreciate the honor, I get it, now can I see the house? I just got off work, Worthington, and I'm about to die on my feet. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't interested, so less talking and more walking."

"Right," Worthington repeated, less confident now, "ah, follow me."

Expecting him to go around the back to some sort of cottage or smaller building, Rosie was surprised as he led her straight through the main doors. Her scowl grew darker and deeper as the shadow of the building arched over her, putting them both within its influence. As they went in she could almost sense his form straightening, his chest puffing up with some element of pride. It was enough to make her roll her eyes, but she was too distracted by her surroundings to give it much thought.

The entryway was just as grand as the exterior. Meant to impress, rugs of red with gold trim paved the way across polished wood floors. If she didn't know any better she would say that they had just been cleaned. Rich burgundy wallpaper, elegantly etched to resemble staring faces and jagged teeth, brought her attention to various white-framed doorways and offshoots branching to her right and left. Meanwhile the space before her opened up into a curving stairway. To the side of the stairs was another double set of doors she was sure held something like a ballroom, Rosie but made a point of ignoring that observation.

He led her wordlessly through a series of parlors, each a different theme and color scheme, and what had to be a conservatory (who even HAD conservatories in this day and age?), filled with venomous daffodils, fanged snap-dragons, and a long series of Venus fly traps.

A sense of dawning horror was starting to numb her awe. Why exactly was Johnny showing her all these museum-like rooms? He didn't mean to rent the whole place, did he? Particularly when she was on such a tight budget.

The conversation she'd had with her brother, and the hope paired with it regarding the opportunity to maintain independence, was starting to crack. Never mind the fact that she was surrounded by beautiful antiquity and generations of monster history.

Coming upon another long hallway, Rosie felt a sinking sensation in her gut as she was directed toward a doorway through which she could see polished granite floors.

~/~/~

Johnny nervously motioned for Rosie to follow him. He'd been anxious—almost too anxious—that Levin like the place that he'd almost forgotten the purpose of her arrival. She was here to look at the rooms and decide if she wanted to rent. Instead, it felt almost as though he was the one on display—or at least his family.

It had only been a couple of days back in the old place yet in many ways Johnny already felt like a kid again. Certain rooms reminded him of specific childhood events and as Worthington had been about to open the doors to meet her he recalled the first time he'd invited friends over.

There was the incident from when he was ten. It hadn't ended well—Jeff Bachem had gotten trapped in 'Uncle' Manny's cage, tucked inside the family weapons room.

It had been a relic from his great-great-grandmother's time when the family had yet to emigrate to what was then Monstroville. They'd lived among the humans up at that point, till Manny was trapped in a maze by a crazy human king. As it was, Manny's sister Margaret had kept the thing as a symbol of why humans were dangerous.

It was just a matter of unfortunate circumstance that they'd lost the key to it a long time ago, and Johnny hadn't really been surprised when none of his schoolmates wanted to come over after that.

His second attempt at having friends over, and the later visits after that success story, didn't occur until college. By that time he'd learned to actively put preventative measures into play—the weapons room was locked, for one, and the house was spotless, for another. Not that it ever remained that way for very long.

He'd put forth effort to clean up the place in this case as well. While their sole maid came through once a week to sweep and dust, there was still much to do. Having taken two days off to focus on the move, Johnny finished his own stuff first before diving into a bout of cleaning.

Looking at him one wouldn't have guessed that he knew how to do menial chores, but his mother had made certain that he knew the business end of a broom—for the time when he moved out, if nothing else. Additionally, when updating the kitchen Shirley James Worthington made the decision to not install a dishwasher. It was a pain during the various parties and galas they'd hosted over the years, but made sense on a day-to-day scale—more so now than ever, his father and grandfather having passed away.

His father hadn't argued but hadn't supported the idea at the time, either. It was the way that his parents worked, really. Anything having to do with the family reputation, Johnny's role, and his education was handled by John-John. Shirley cornered the market on anything home or family event-related, which seemed to suit his father well.

After boxes had been taken care of Johnny pulled drapes open to let in the light and picked the room which he thought was most impressive. Part of him knew that he was showing off while the other side of him explained it away—his mother's motto was to treat guests as though they were a 'fang on a silver platter,' after all, and he intended on following the instruction to a T.

The preparatory tasks took on a new feel then, almost in competition against himself. Johnny had smirked at the thought, going on to hum as he mopped, scrubbed, and sorted. Alison Grayson, the maid, gave him an odd look as he passed by her at one point with cleaning supplies in hand. But she only shook her head and turned her stalk eyes away—if anything Ali had learned not to question Johnny's actions over the years.

The only child had even trimmed and watered his mother's snap dragons, an effort resulting in any number of cuts. Upon first appearing all of them squealed happily when he came in sight. Johnny instinctively dodged back, the plants being fond of his blood specifically. Yet still he prepped the conservatory for viewing.

His trials were the end result of trying to dodge his cousin Rupert by dodging into the conservatory. While he'd been able to successfully avoid the bigger boy, the bites he'd collected weren't worth it.

When Rosie had driven up in her beater—not that he had any room to judge, lacking a vehicle himself—an anxious paralysis temporarily overtook him, worse than facing any carnivorous plants. Worthington had prepped what to say, what to do, and which rooms were best for viewing, but all it had taken was one of her sneers to tear down his wavering confidence.

He'd been fighting to maintain some semblance of normalcy since Wordsworth informed him of the debts which were now his—some days it worked, and others it didn't. Johnny was quickly coming to the realization that interactions with Rosie Levin played a part in his faltering as well. At least as of late.

So seeing the grey female again sent a kind of dread through his veins, reminiscent of his first Scaring exam. Or a run-in with Hardscrabble.

Even the gratitude he'd expressed—true if not the best wording, per se—had flown back in his face. Now he wasn't quite sure what to do. Rosie was unimpressed with the halls he'd so carefully cleaned and prepared. Even the work he'd done in the conservatory was given no more than a cursory glance.

Summoning up a handful of courage, Johnny straightened until more of his characteristic swagger was able to buoy him through the interaction. He opened his mouth to speak while heading for the hall of portraits—those, at least, were impressive.

"The Worthington house has been in the family for several generations," as in, a lot, "going back to the Roc-oco era-."

Levin's voice cut him off, "no."

Johnny halted, blinking. In front of him Rosie was tense, teeth gritted so that he could hardly see her forked tongue as she gritted out the next series of words. Gripping the doorframe, the female glared at him head-on as though Johnny was the instigator of all her problems. It was moments like these when he wasn't surprised that the females were the deadlier of their species.

"I said…no. No, I don't want to see some ancient vase or fancy painting."

Johnny straightened as self-consciousness zinged through him—she was closer to home with that guess than she probably knew. A feeling which was immediately fueled by panic.

"Look, Levin, it's just one more r-!"

"It's Mercado, Worthington. As you seem to forget, time and again. When are you going to get that into your bull-headed brain of yours?!" she hissed, "and no. I'm not going to see 'just one more' anything. By Jaws, Worthington, what are you trying to do here? Why even mention that you had a place for me to rent if all you were going to do was rub how rich you were into my face? Problems with rent, my tail. You haven't changed at all since college."

He gaped helplessly, his famous jaw working up and down but nothing coming out of it. Was that what she thought he was trying to do?!

"You know what, if that's the case then I'm just gonna leave."

Rosie turned on her heel and Johnny grabbed her arm to stop her, reacting without thought.

It was an overall bad idea.

The furious glare she bestowed on him for just touching her let alone thinking that he could restrain her movement resulted in a near fist-to-the-face, and he could practically feel Rosie's arm tense up into solid rock within his grip. Johnny was reminded quite forcefully of the fact that he had his mother's hands, would always have his mother's hands, and that Rosie did not have ones similarly small. She could very well knock him flat—again. But she held off, just barely.

In that space he tried to say something to diffuse the situation. What came out was—

"Johnny, honey! Is this the friend you were talkin' 'bout?"

Both 'adults' drew back from one another like kids caught fighting on the playground. Rosie stepped away as he let go, and both turned to face his mother as though on cue. Shirley, for her part, was unfazed by what she saw.

Unwinding a long scarf the color of the sunset from around her neck and setting her purse down on a nearby pedestal, a string of pearls was revealed beneath. The piece had been a gift from his father, the jewelry paired with shark-tooth earrings from the first excursion into the human world outside of work on their honeymoon trip to the Bermuda Triangle. That is, before laws were enforced making it illegal for all those not on Scaring duty to cross over.

Mrs. Worthington was elegant and refined, her golden fur groomed meticulously and a pleasant smile on her face as she turned toward Levin expectantly.

He remembered belatedly that she'd just returned from her Flying Spaghettorian meeting that morning, as indicated by the soft-bound New Monsternational Barb-le, her scripture of choice. She in turn took in their almost-altercation with interest, noting Rosie's fisted claws and Johnny's look of panic.

"Why, I don't believe we've eva met," Shirley began congenially, reaching out to clasp Rosie's hand in a friendly grip, startling the monster from her ire, "I'm Mrs. John Worthin'ton. Well, John-John to make things less confusin'. Or Shirley! Friends, an' enemies mind you, call me that. Johnny's companions have all taken to namin' me Mrs. W, which I think suits me just fine."

While his mother swiftly tempered the situation he took a step back, a move she didn't miss.

"What is your name, dear? An', dare I say it, you look absolutely lovely in tha' maroon blouse of yours. I wish I could pull off bruise hues, which sure are in all the rage, but I can barely do anythin' with this pelt o' mine," a wave down at her furred form belied this statement, as clearly she could wear whatever she pleased and get away with it, "you are so very lucky to have a scale tone which will pretty much match with anythin'—like a ghost, so spectral! It must be a boon ta you when you Scare. I'm assumin' you're a Scarer, as you would probably do well in tha' field. What did you say your name was, agin'?"

"I didn't," Rosie removed her palm from his mother's grip, "and I really should be going."

"Oh, now don't mind me!" Shirley exclaimed, "I see wha' it is! I must'a interrupted some'in then, between you two. Oh!" she snapped her fingers, "I understand. You must be courtin' and here I am, the uni-goose which horned its way right into the conversation," Shirley tapped one of her own antlers to demonstrate, "it ain't often that I get ta meet one of Johnny's girlfriends. Yer a lot more wholesome than the rest," the pale yellow monster smiled.

Wholesome?! Johnny grimaced and choked on his words. Beside him Rosie stiffened and with all the creaking slowness of a horror flick she turned and looked at him.

"Uh, ah. Well, Mom, this is Rosie. We-."

"I'm not his girlfriend," the Scarer growled.

"She, ah," Johnny began, stumbling.

"I'm the one who gave him that black eye," the monster continued, arms crossed.

Shirley's smile got wider, if anything, "oh, good! The Worthin'ton men have always needed ta be taken down a few pegs once in a while."

That seemed to release a bout of weak laughter from him, "a-actually she's right! About the not being my girlfriend. You see, Rosie here's actually an old buddy from college. And a coworker! She's a bit down on her luck and needed a place to stay. And I didn't really want to bring it up but-."

The grey monster outright hissed in his face and Worthington resisted the urge to jerk back and swat at the thing.

"—w-weeeell, you, ha ha, forced my hand. Anyway," he coughed, and edged away from her murderous glare, "Mom, meet Rosie Le-ah! I mean, Mercado. Rosie, meet my mother. Shirley James Worthington."

For the first time since the 'girlfriend' bomb had been dropped Rosie looked away from him, and the purple male felt as though the eye of Sauron (an old School Principal) had finally turned. The searing glare dimmed as the two women began chatting, and he wasn't sure if he only was imagining the smell of burnt fur.

"Charmed," Rosie stated baldly, fighting back a grimace. Her left eye did, however, twitch.

"I really do apologize for the misunderstandin'," Shirley said in turn, still with her cheerful gaze focused on Levin. Expelling a deep sigh, his old schoolmate nodded in acquiescence.

"It's fine."

"So!" Johnny clapped his hands loudly, destroying the moment. Levin-Mercado scowled at him, "how about another tou—oOW!"

The yelp became a scream as he found his scalp burning and his eyes smothered by a wet, rubbery surface. Something was smashing down his lids in even as it tugged at his eyebrows.

Had he been listening instead of screeching Johnny probably would have noticed that Rosie's strange shawl no longer hung from her shoulders. Additionally he probably would have heard the Scarer mutter, "Oh, Billy," before moving close enough to tug at the parasite on his head.

Five minutes and several long and painful tugs later, Rosie had the mischievous mass of fur and damp rubber tucked protectively in the cage of her arms and Johnny was missing patches of fur from his eyebrows.

"What…was that?!"

"That," Rosie responded with a certain amount of tartness, although she couldn't seem to keep the glint of a smile from her features, "was my son, Billy."

"You're so-!"

Any indignity was overshadowed by his mother's laughter, the aged monster shaking so hard that her rack of antlers quivered along with the heirloom chandelier above her. Worthington opened his mouth to say one thing and what came out instead was-.

"He can stay."

-because he hadn't heard Shirley laugh like that since they got the news regarding his father's heart attack.

Rosie's smile dropped into a sneer, "who said he wasn't?"

"Well, isn't he just the most adorable little monster I ever did see," Shirley cooed in turn. And as though Billy's mischief sensor had been turned on, he arched in his mother's grip to blink all three of his eyes as the strange golden-blonde creature in front of him. The child wiggled out of Levin's hands to slide to the floor, taking a few tentative steps toward Mrs. Worthington. What happened next was a surprise to everyone.

"He actually doesn't like to be hel-oh! Um, never mind."

The child, normally abhorring the adult act of carrying him around (mostly to keep the toddler out of trouble), willingly raised his tentacle arms above his head for Shirley to pick him up—and she obliged like a pro.

"Oh, this here is a real sweetheart. He must be a wonder ta his mother. Yes, you wanna be jus' like her, I kin tell."

The unexpected duo shared a beaming, conspiratorial look as Rosie gaped on. Meanwhile Johnny was trying to process what had just happened.

Rosie gave him a look he couldn't decipher, although he did notice the monster straighten slightly as though something had left her—worry or anxiety? Well, whatever it was, he hoped that she'd let go of some of her pent-up aggression with it.

"An' you showed Miss Mercado all the important rooms, then?" his mother asked cheerily all the while bouncing the toddler on her hip.

The purple male chuckled awkwardly, hand going to rub the fur at the back of his neck, "um, yes, Mom. All the usual places."

~/~/~

Rosie was a veritable witness as Johnny's mother's amethyst gaze turned stony, "what usual places?"

"The ballroom. The, ah, conservatory, too. I was about to show her the hall of portraits," he rushed to explain, motioning to the doorway behind him, but his mother spluttered out a laugh.

"Well, no wonder she was rarin' to go, honey. No boarder wants to see stuffy ol' things like that. Heck, I go a month practically between visits to the ballroom," she gently scolded. But the woman's expression did soften slightly, "I will thank you for visitin' my plants, though. Even with how much it pains you."

What now?

"Well, then," Shirley turned to the single mother with Billy still in her arms—he had yet to demand being put down, which was a feat in and of itself, "let's get the real tour underway. You're probably in a rush to be somewhere—I know I always was. Follow me, sweetheart."

Rosie gave the strangely deflated Worthington male a curious look but decided against her better judgment to follow his mother. Johnny trailed behind.

The end result was a real tour of the manor's essentials—the kitchen, which strangely lacked a dishwasher, and the laundry room, which gloriously possessed a working washer and dryer, plus a laundry chute. Both were cheerfully wallpapered, this time in mint green. The pattern of glaring faces had been switched for one of dandelion sprigs—the little flowers caught in a permanent roar. The repeated image was frivolous, a tad childish, but as happy as the woman before her.

The exterior herb and vegetable gardens were next, as well as the pantry, where plants were left to rot until they were deliciously overripe. As they entered the house Shirley finally turned back to her son, furred brows raised in a pleasantly querying expression.

"Johnny, why don't you show Miss Rosie here," she'd dropped the 'Mercado,' somewhere between the laundry room and the garden, "the room you prepared for her."

He filled his barrel chest with air and nodded shortly before taking the lead. But as they headed up the main staircase and took a right the grey giant couldn't help but note Mrs. Worthington's buoyant expression slip away.

"Here we go," Johnny muttered, then motioned them through a white door with elaborate moldings.

The room was all wrong, she could tell that immediately. The whole place was ivory, from bed sheets to carpeting, and the interior was lit with enough sunlight to burn a flame-breather. It took only a few moments for Billy to wiggle down, crawling along the floor and leaving a mud trail behind him via their trip in the garden. He returned to his newly adopted grandmother figure with grinning eyes, whereupon Shirley lifted him back up without complaint.

They gave it another few moments before, "hmm," was all Johnny's mother said, tugging Rosie by the wrist and ignoring her son entirely. The former was rather a feat, considering that she only met her guest's shoulder, but whatever it was she seemed pretty determined so the Scarer let her lead.

When Mrs. Worthington finished they were on the opposite sides of the manor, in a darkened wing of rooms. Then Shirley was pulling a key ring from among her antlers, unlocking a tall viridian door and motioning Mercado in.

Rosie entered curiously, but within a moment was hard pressed not to gasp.

The deepest blues she'd ever seen were her first impression. Like the sky at midnight or a sapphire on black velvet. Light filtered softly through a gap between long damask curtains, thinner material frothing up like sea foam, and within the gentle beam she could see that the interior had been clearly split between two parts by a artistically rusted metal-and-ruby partition the color of dried blood. Each folding segment arched upward in a curving peak, looking like they'd been stolen from a stained glass window.

This side of the room was just as fascinating as the divider itself. It was clearly a receiving area, an almost-parlor bearing a long pearl-toned sofa and smaller cream arm chairs for visitors. The sofa itself was tuckered in parts, fabric pulled in to create an elegant appearance, but even from here Rosie could tell that it was made of sturdy, washable material—ready to handle any spill. It was beautiful, but also functional. All three pieces, plus a small side table with clawed monster feet, were set before a fireplace, medium in size with a mantle made of gold-flecked lapis lazuli.

The walls themselves, a mix of the azure she'd seen previously and a muted golden brown, held a single mirror on either side, the two reflecting each other into eternity. The flooring was stone, but covered in sturdy braided rugs which were the green of the ocean's depths, and the large expanses she could see were riddled with claw marks as though many monsters used to pass through. Whatever the case, further use wouldn't harm the flooring and the rugs dealt with much of the cold which seeped through old houses.

Entering fully into the space as though in a daze, Rosie rounded the partition to view the "bedroom" section. A large four-poster bed, light wood unvarnished and unpainted, sat in the center. The bedding was a very deep plum but the pillows were a smattering of putrid green and metallic orange—Alex's orange. She hardly noticed the large wardrobe to the side, wood also simple but varnished, though her eyes did catch on the door to the right.

"This used ta be the nanny's quarters, back when John-John an' I both worked all the time," Shirley said 'all' with a drawl, making it sound more like 'awl,' "Before that it was John's sister's," his mother answered for her in the silence, "I had it renovated for when my sisters visited. O' course, they always brought one or more o' Johnny's little cousins with them when they did so."

There was an uncomfortable cough behind them which both ignored.

"The door on the right leads to the nursery through a shared bathroom. Once upon a time it was Liliana's parlor. This way you can keep contact with your little one," Shirley smiled down at the child in her arms, before falling silent.

Rosie turned slowly, her expression unreadable, "how did you know?"

The question was both vague and yet specific. Mrs. W. smiled, shrugging humbly, "I was a young mother once. Besides, you look good in bruise tones. And it seems ta me that Johnny may have forgotten that you are not in college anymore."

Looking not at her original host, but to the true homeowner, Rosie straightened, hands clasped and legs a military shoulder-length apart as she stated quite firmly, "alright, I'll take it."

Mrs. W. smirked and handed Billy over, "Good. I look forward ta seein' you again. You seem like a nice young woman."

"Thanks, Mrs. W."

When Rosie finally drove away the golden monster turned to her son with crossed arms.

"You betta be fair with the rent you charge her, Johnny, or I won't be happy," with that threat aired Shirley reentered the house, expression a thundercloud.

Apparently his mother was more observant than he'd given her credit for.

~/~/~

AU: Sorry about the wait! D: I was writing this chapter from Johnny's POV at first, which was all wrong (as he would hardly notice the details, having lived there all his life and taken it for granted), so I had to redo the entire beginning in Rosie's POV.

Also, I attended Salt Lake's first Comic Con. It was cool. I got to attend a panel with Dean Cain. :D (Highlight of my life. I've adored that man since I was ten.)

The "I don't judge you," line was actually created by a friend of mine, and I've been waiting for the right moment and the right character to use it for years. So way to go, Rosie! ;D This same friend is the one whom I turn to for my "Brooklyn Jewish Mother" accent. She's a pro.

Writing Shirley is basically like describing an older Lottie from "The Princess and the Frog." Muahaha.

If you want to know what the "Spaghettorian" reference…you should look up the, "The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," otherwise known as Pastafarians. ( www. venganza or en. wikipedia wiki/ Flying_ Spaghetti_ Monster) Because if there was any monster which was to be considered a deity (outside of Cthulhu), the flying spaghetti monster fits the bill.

Also, it's an inside joke with my sister. :D

I just finished watching the first season of Castle for Johnny research (plus it's hilarious), and realized that Rosie and Beckett have a lot in common (of course, I watched the show after having written most of Rosie's scenes beforehand, though).

So if Rosie sounds a tad like Kate then I apologize, mostly. It's scenes such as the one where she states, "call me a muse again and I'll break both your legs," in which I see the similarities.

Sorry, not sorry. ^^

Song choice for this chapter is EMF's, "Unbelievable."

I had a general idea of what the Worthington manor/house/chateau/manse looked like before the story began. I was reading something or watching something, I can't remember, where it said that if any personality was reflected in the Roar Omega Roar house then it was Johnny's. That kind of stuck with me, and I took the basic design of that Frat house as a springboard for the way his family's place is. Because it makes sense that he feels comfortable in an environment similar to the one he grew up in.

Naturally, however, it's also the end result of maaaaaany generations of living. So there's going to be various influences throughout. The different sections of the W. place were decided upon via lots of research, first in the character's personalities as well as what kind of designs would mesh. I have a tendency to be the recipient of my roommate's "Elle Décor" and "House Beautiful" magazines among others, and use those as research.

AKA she hands them right over to me and I rip them down into piles of, 'fabric and patterns,' 'anatomy,' 'information,' 'interiors,' 'exteriors,' 'faces and profiles,' and 'clothing.' Then I staple together tiny packets for each person.

I am such a freaking nerd. But I really do think that one's décor says a lot about a person.

Currently my apartment says, "broke art student with an anti-social, sometimes violent, roommate." XD