Jessy's mother by josette grover
Summary:

Jessy deals with her mother's death in prison and starts a new chapter of her life.

 

 


Categories: Buffy/Angel Crossovers > CSI/NCIS, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other TV Characters: None
Genres: AU
Warnings: Original Character Death
Challenges: None
Series: Sunnydale House of Erotic Fantasies
Chapters: 16 Completed: Yes Word count: 63667 Read: 115273 Published: 2017.08.25 Updated: 2017.11.28
Story Notes:

OK, in this universe Gods are actually aliens. They came to Earth millenia ago and have spaceships like a TARDIS.

 

Also, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in real life.. here he didn't (snickering)

1. Chapter 1 by josette grover

2. Chapter 2 by josette grover

3. Chapter 3 by josette grover

4. Chapter 4 by josette grover

5. Chapter 5 by josette grover

6. Chapter 6 by josette grover

7. Chapter 7 by josette grover

8. Chapter 8 by josette grover

9. Chapter 9 by josette grover

10. Chapter 10 by josette grover

11. Chapter 11 by josette grover

12. Chapter 12 by josette grover

13. Chapter 13 by josette grover

14. Chapter 14 by josette grover

15. Chapter 15 by josette grover

16. Chapter 16 by josette grover

Chapter 1 by josette grover
Author's Notes:

The first part of this story takes place during the last story.

 

"Lady, my mother is in prison for life in California for murdering my father." Jessy says icily to the woman who'd tried grabbing her, saying her mother had begged her to get her away from the people who'd taken her. "I wasn't taken by anybody. . .the stupid bitch is sure somebody has brainwashed me because I haven't forgiven her for trying to frame me for my father's murder. I can't stilllllllll be mad at her about that, I would have only got a few years in a juvenile facility. . .she got life. . .her manicure is ruined. . .she's doing hard time."

 

Her partner moans. "Are you sure? She says you were kidnapped."

 

"She can say anything, doesn't make any of it true." Jessy snorts. "She's been claiming I was brainwashed because I haven't forgiven her for a few months now. And I want my fucking gun back NOW! I have a federal permit allowing me to carry it. You had NO damn reason to take it from me."

 

"She's right, she has the paperwork to carry it and you have to give it back." A woman says. The detecives look at her but she glares at them and the gun is handed over. "Nice. .. where's my bullets Jackass? It was fully loaded when you bastards frisked me."

 

"Detective." The woman snaps. Grudgingly he hands over the bullets and extras and she reloads her gun and puts the extras in her pockets.

 

"She says she tried filing a report saying you ran away from home and the courts wouldn't let her." Another man says as he walks into the squad room, he's got a file in his hands.

 

"She murdered my father and went to jail while I was in Chicago going over my grandparents estate. The court went looking for other relatives to put me with and didn't find any. I was going to age out of the foster care system in a couple months so the court let me live with my godfather."

 

"She claims you're only sixteen." A man sneers.

 

"Bullshit, I was sixteen when she murdered my father five years ago. That's why she tried framing me for my father's murder, I would have only got a few years in a juvenile facility. . .she got life. Of course the moron is fudging my age, she's been lying about hers for years. She claims she's only 25. . .even if I was only 16 she'd have got pregnant at eight and gave birth to me at nine. She's doing life in . . ." Jessy rattles off the name, address, phone number, and the warden's name. "I was born July 18th at . . ."

 

"Detectives, check the birth records. And somebody call the prison to find out if her mother is an inmate." The woman snaps. "Have you been offered any food?"

 

"No."

 

"Put her in a room and get her some food."

 

"Interrogation? Or a cell?" The male detective asks hopefully. The woman just gives him a look and Jessy is shown to an office.

 

"Are you people stupid?" The woman yells three hours later when she sees Jessy still sitting in the room. "Have you done nothing to verify her story?"

 

"The doc is talking to her now."

 

"Do your damn job detective, instead of sitting on your ass." The woman snaps. Fifteen minutes later the fax machine starts shooting out papers.

 

"Shit, she is 21." The first male detective moans as he looks at the papers.

 

"No! She swore her daughter was only sixteen." The woman says, snatching the paper from his hand.

 

"And I just got off the phone with the prison. Her mother is there for life for murdering her husband. And she's got a history of trying to get money from her daughter. . .let her go. . .NOW!" the captain glares from his office. "And after she goes, we're all going to have a little talk."

 

Jessy is finally allowed to leave the precinct. A officer who looks so new he might cut himself on the creases of his uniform takes her to the hotel that she'd made reservations for, finding Xander waiting for her in the lobby.

 

"Are you okay? Call Rupert, he's fuming that you were taken away at the airport."

 

"No thanks to the fucking police department here, it took them hours to realize that 'yeah, she's a lying bitch and everything I told them was the truth. They even had a psychologist talk to me before they finally got off their asses and checked the goddamn records. Even after being told to. Then they oh so graciously let me go." She grabs her phone and calls the House, Rupert sighing as he hears her voice on the other end.

 

"But Cap, we didn't know she was telling us the truth. She looks like a kid. . ." One of the detecives in the juvenile unit bleats as they're lectured by their boss.

 

"No fucking kid flies first class from Miami to Philidelphia and has reservations at one of the best hotels in the city. Gods people, doing a damn background check on the story would have shown that she was twenty-one. And if that didn't add up you should have checked the case better." He waves the case that's been copied and sent on to the prison. The woman who'd been giving them orders nods.

 

"But she said that we had to work fast, otherwise the kid would be gone again." the woman blusters.

 

"That alone should have told you the case was bogus." She snorts.

 

In California Jessy's mother whines as she's dragged out of her cell and brought before the warden who is waving copies of all the paperwork she'd mocked up and had somebody send out for her.

 

"You damn bitch! What the hell were you thinking?"

 

"But she won't send me money." She wails, stomping her foot. "Damn it, it's not fair. She'd already be out of the juvenile facility. . . I'm stuck here. If I have to be in trouble .. .she should too. And if she's in prison, they'll give me the money."

 

The guard gives her a disgusted look. "She wouldn't have gone to prison for being a runaway you stupid bitch. And nobody would give you her money."

 

"But that's not fair. . .I . . .I . . .I need that money."

 

"No. . .you need a good swift kick." The warden says as he fills out another infraction form and she wails as she realizes she's being punished for this. It's not fair. . .damn it why won't they take her side? She'd only have got a few years in a juvenile facility. . .she's doing life.

 

Another prisoner slaps her in the yard when they find out why the law library is locked down until further notice.

 

"You stupid brat. Leave your daughter the hell alone. she's better off without you."

 

"But she has to send me money. . .I . . .I can't live like this." She whines as the other prisoner walks off. She looks at the guards. . .they have to protect her but they're firmly looking the other way.

 

"Have you found out how my mother found out I'd be arriving in Philidelphia?" Jessy asks the warden as they talk after the expo she's attending is out for the night.

 

"Yes, the same people who got the paperwork out had been examining credit card records and found the ticket you'd booked. Of course your mother is bleating she had to do it. . .if you went to prison for being a runaway the court would have to give her your money. They have been arrested and are facing charges of aiding and abetting."

 

Rupert just looks at Jessy when she returns to the House.

 

"This is why I gave you the choker." He says in a waaaaaaayyyyyyy too calm voice in his office.

 

"I wasn't about to leave Xander in danger. That's why I demanded Xander be able to go to the hotel before I left with them. If they didn't go straight to the police station I would have." Rupert nods. . . she had got Xander to safety and would have left if it hadn't been real officers. He would have done the same thing.

 

In Philidelphia the mayor gets off the phone, looking over at the juvenile officers. "Really, did she look like she was sixteen?"

 

"Weeellllll nooooooooo." The woman ducks her head. "While her clothes weren't high-end she didn't come off as a kid playing dress-up. But isn't she still in trouble for using the card to book the hotel and her flight? It had to be fake." She blusters, trying to turn the blame around onto their victim. "And you made us let her go." She sneers at first her boss and then the woman who'd been telling them what to do.

 

"She used a company credit card to pay for the hotel and air fare you damn moron. She was attending an expo she registered for six months ago. Gods blood people, the woman is a fucking billionaire."

 

"Ohhhhhh!" She collapses under the hatefilled glares of her boss and the DA.

 

"No wonder her mother's trying to get her back." The detective who'd come in with the file mutters.

 

"Yes, and Philidelphia has a big old case of eggs on our face thanks to you not investigating the damn case. Let alone leaving her to cool her heels for three hours until you got off your ass to start checking the facts of the case."

 

The mayor's secretary brings in the aspirin and a bottle of water when they leave the office.

 

"The commissioner called, he's sorry some of his cops are damn fool morons." The mayor's lips twitch despite himself. He can hear the captain and DA cussing out the fool woman before the elevator closes.

 

"They'll make damn sure to double and triple check cases from now on. If he doesn't fire them."

 

"Yes, and she could have destroyed us in the media or sued. And we wouldn't have had a defense."

 

"She can still sue. . .especially if somebody gets wind of that bitch accusing her of using a fake card."

 

True to the mayor's words the juvenile bureau is slapped with a huge lawsuit and the woman who'd caused all the problems whines to the city's lawyers and are told the same thing--it was your own damn fault.

 

"But she can't sue us. . ." she whines.

 

"Yes she can when it's clear misconduct . . .which this was."

 

"Do you think she'll drop it?" She whimpers.

 

"Fuck no, she wants to destroy your little band of assholes. Along with the rest of the city. Even the standard settlment would destroy the budget for years and she just laughed at the attempt to apologize."

 

"But her mother said she'd been kidnapped and brainwashed, that's why she wouldn't forgive her." she wails. "And the courts wouldn't take her runaway complaint."

 

"You can't be both a runaway and kidnapped Moron. Christ, that should have been your first clue this was a fake."

 

"She could have wanted to come home and they kept her there."

 

"And yet they let her fly halfway across the country." the city lawyer says in disgust.

 

"But she was with somebody. . .they could have been controlling her."

 

"She made sure they were able to leave before she went with you. . .that's not somebody being controlled moron."

 

"Weeeeellllllll. .. nooooooooo." she finally says. When they say it like that, it makes the story the mother told her so damn stupid. . .

 

 

 

 

 

Jessy's mother sobs as she's led back to her cell after the court date. She can't believe that the judge yelled at her for threatening to have somebody 'rescue' Jessy from where she's living and have her deprogrammed. . .somebody has to be telling Jessy what to do. She can't still be mad about her telling that little fib about her killing her husband. . .she'd have only been in a juvenile facility for a few years. . .she got life. Her daughter has to give her money, she's her Mommy. Finding her notebook paper, she sits down to write a heartwrenching, sobbing account of her troubles that she's sure will get people flocking to her.

 

"Is any of this true?" Nathan Ford asks a few days later when he gets the letter.

 

"Nope." Hardison says, not looking up from the computer. "Her daughter isn't a runaway, she's 22 years old. She was sixteen . . .when her mother murdered her father. She was allowed to go live with her godfather because otherwise she'd have aged out of the foster care system in a few months. The dumbass woman's infractions at the prison is as big as all the Harry Potter books combined." Parker snorts despite herself. "The woman is continually whining for her daughter to send her money for the commissary. She can't understand why her daughter is mad at her for trying to frame her for his death. .. she'd have only got a few years in a juvenile facility. . .She got life, her manicure is ruined. And yes, that's a direct quote according to the prison guard. She's working three jobs to pay back all the judgments against her. . .including a recent one where the stupid bitch just sued trying to make the court force her daughter to come to the prison weekly to visit her mother and send her money. The prison is in California but her daughter lives in Florida."

 

"Fool woman." Sophie says.

 

"Yes, the lawyer blubbered he didn't know she lived across the country. . . when asked what he thought her address meant he asked couldn't it have been a mail drop? The fool woman has accused her of being a runaway before. . .earlier this year the daughter was brought from the airport in Philidelpia when she flew in from Miami."

 

"Oh shit, I know that case." Nathan moans. Sophie and Elliot look at him. "You were in Denver when it happened. Like this letter, the juvenile bureau thought the girl in question was only sixteen. They left her sitting hours in a room before they started investigating and found out the truth. The commissioner called them damn fools and she's suing."

 

"Did you send them the letter?"

 

"Yep, overnight mail. Dumbass woman's going to pout about getting in trouble again."

 

 

 

 

"You stupid bitch." The guard resists the urge to kick the wailing woman as he pulls himself to his feet, the alarms blaring as the prison goes into lockdown.

 

"Is she going to be okay?" The warden asks the doctor when he comes out into the outer room of the prison hospital.

 

"Yes, she's not hurt bad. . .she's already whining about how it wasn't fair she was shot while trying to steal the guard's gun."

 

"She'll find out how not fair it is when she's in solitary for 90 days . . .before she gets more time added to her sentence for this escape attempt."

 

"And the other prisoners will kill her for being in lockdown. . .again." the deputy warden sighs. "Let me go write a letter to her daughter to let her know what happened."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"You little moron, leave your daughter alone." The warden yells at Jessy's sniveling mother a few months after she's got out of solitary. He waves a hand at the letter she'd tried to sneak out of the prison by slipping it into a visitor's bag calling her daughter a thief and everybody here crooks for not taking her case and rips it up in front of her.

 

"But she stole that money from me. Why won't anybody listen to me." She wails, stomping her feet.

 

"She did not steal any money from you you goddamn fool." The warden sneers. "She inherited that money because you killed your husband. No prisoner can profit from their crime."

 

"But they should have given me that money. I. . .I . .. I can't live like this." She whimpers.

 

"Get out of my office you little fool. If you want money get off your ass and work for it like the rest of the inmates. Your daughter doesn't want to give money to you and she doesn't have to give money to you."

 

Lyara sobs in her cell for well over an hour. Why is everybody being so mean to her? She wipes her eyes and hurries to the commissary before work, she's got to buy something to make her feel better. Dropping off her purchases in her cell she hurries off when she sees the time. If she's late for work again the guards are going to yell at her. Her! Why, why, why won't the authorities listen to her? She shouldn't be here, her daughter would have only got a few years in a juvenile facility. She got life. She'll never get out of this awful place alive. Her manicure is ruined and her beatiful blonde hair is going grey. She looks old. She's only twenty-five. . .for the twenty-fifth time.

 

"Rupert!" Jubilee yells as she comes running into the main house a couple hours later.

 

"Good heavens child, what?" He comes out of his office.

 

"Jessy got a call and won't stop crying." He hurries off after her, wrapping his arms around Jessy in the seamstress shop. Cordy blinks, realizes what must be happening, and hurries after him.

 

"She's gone?" Cordy asks, wrapping herself around her other side, remembering what Jessy had said before Christmas. Rupert stares at her then moans realizing what must had happened. He'd thought she'd gotten bad news from the doctor's office.

 

"She. . .she . . .there was an accident at the prison. A truck lost their brakes coming up to the laundry. My mother and two other prisoners were hit, my mother bled out before they could get the truck off her. The. . .the warden was going to fax more information." The fax machine starts spitting out papers, Jubilee taking the papers and handing them to Rupert at his look.

 

"Jessy, are you going to be okay?"

 

"I'll . . .it will take a while. For all that I knew my mother was a goddamn moron, losing her like this still hurts. I figured the fool would be whining for a couple more decades."

 

"I hate to ask but. . ."

 

"She's got a plot next to my father, I brought them both when he was murdered. They can bitch, whine, piss, moan, complain, and have rip-roaring fights for all eternity. In whatever afterlife they ended up in." Rupert chuckles despite himself. "I. ..I need to be there."

 

"I have a plane, we can fly out in an hour."

 

Joyce nods as she puts up her phone. "The airport is fueling your plane and filing your flight plan right now."

 

"I. . .I need to fill this out so they know where to ship the body." Jessy takes the paperwork but Joyce takes it from her hands, asking her a few questions and filling it out before faxing it back to the prison. The prison will contact the funeral home for her.

 

Paige comes running into the store, hugging Jessy and handing her a duffel bag.

 

"I packed a couple days of clothes and your medicines."

 

"Thank you Paige. If I need anything else I can get it there." Rupert nods.

 

Joyce hurries up with a bag for him and they drive to the local airport, a car taking them to the plane.

 

Rupert checks Jessy's phone when they land. "The prison is shipping your mother. . . .your mother's body to the funeral home. It will be there in a day."

 

"Our first stop will be a chain store to get her clothes for her burial. Anything else?"

 

"Yes, the prison wants you to come and pick up her personal belongings."

 

Jessy moans and kisses her mother's forehead lightly when the body arrives. "I might not have liked you much. . ."

 

"But she was still your mother." Rupert says, wrapping an arm around her.

 

Jessy stands next to Rupert as the casket is lowered into the vault, Rupert leading her away as they start shoveling dirt over the coffin.

 

"Lyara?" He asks quietly.

 

"It's actually Laura, but that was such a plain name she had to change it. Since all the stupid bitch did was lie it fit. I won't give her the satisfaction of using that name on her headstone though."

 

"Oh good god." Rupert moans as the warden leads them to Jessy's mother's cell.

 

"Your mother routinely went to the commissary to buy stuff, especially when. . . "

 

"Sombody yelled at her because she was a stupid fool." Jessy nods. "She did this before she went to prison too." She looks at all the containers piled three deep and five high against one wall and the second bunk full of stuff. "I'm surprised everything is packed up so neatly."

 

"We made her clean her cell periodically under threat of having it all thrown away."

 

All the containers are opened and Jessy shakes her head. "The inmates would like to apologize to you for your mother's stupidity."

 

"Please, have them come take some of this stuff."

 

"Jessy, I found your mother's will." Rupert holds up a handful of notebook paper. Jessy takes it and starts to read. "Ahhh yes, more of her psychotic shit. I don't think this is legal for all I know that you can write out your own wills in California."

 

"I can have the prison attorneys come to read that."

 

"Please." She hands the pages to the warden and he snorts as he reads. "Yes, I don't think this is legal either."

 

Five days after they'd left, Jessy and Rupert arrive back at the House.

 

"Are you okay?"

 

"Yes, by the time my mother. . .my mother's body arrived at the funeral home we had clothes for her to be buried in. They had cleaned her up at the prison mortuary and dressed her in a plain prison uniform for the trip. Poor dear would have been horrified to be buried in that, she'll be wailing instead about being dressed in off the rack and not couture." She dumps three 30 gallon totes of stuff on the floor.

 

"Did you empty an entire aisle at a drugstore?" Joyce asks, looking at the open containers. They're full of makeup and bath stuff. "Forget a drugstore, one of those beauty supply stores."

 

"This is part of what my mother just had to have from the commissary at the prison. Because every time that nasty old reality interfered in her fantasy world she had to buy something to make herself feel better." Jessy snorts. "We found her crackpot will in her cell, she wanted all this shit to be used for the funeral so she was young and beautiful in the casket. . .which would have to be open so everybody could sob over her. All her money. . .which she didn't have by the way would go to one of those groups that prove innocence, this way everybody knows the truth and they'll wail about her loss." She hands over a bunch of papers and Joyce snorts as she reads. "Yeah, even in death the damn fool was trying to get somebody to get her off. We'd all be sorrrrrrryyyyy when she was gone. She'd be this poor tragic heroine talked about for years, taken from us in the prime of life by the corrupt court system. And her ungrateful daughter. . .who will have to forgive her now." Jessy puts the back of her hand to her forehead in a damsel in distress, ohhhhh who will save me now impression. "And everybody wailing about how she was taken from us so young would have to put up a huge monument to her."

 

"Christ." Joyce moans when maintenance starts bringing in more totes. "No wonder your mother was forever wanting you to put money on the commissary for her. All her money was going for this shit."

 

"Yeeeeesssss." Jessy snorts. "She had this stuff everywhere in her cell. Everytime the authorities told her no she had to buy something to make herself feel better. Prisoners lined up to tell me how sorry they were my mother was a piece of shit, I told them to take some of this stuff with the warden's permission. Even with all that I have all this stuff left. My mom wasn't one for reading so there wasn't any books there."

 

"Did the authorities examine it?"

 

"Oh yes, x-rays and everything before it went on the shelves and during periodic cell searches. Anybody who wants some, take it. I'll see if the spa wants any otherwise I'll donate it to the homeless shelters. What they can use anyway, they won't have any use for bath salts and bubble bath, they have showers." Joyce nods in satisfaction. Then scowls. "I didn't know prisons had tubs."

 

"They didn't, the special interest groups said this would make the women feel better about being in prison. Same with the makeup."

 

"Aren't they supposed to be being punished by being in prison?" Larry snorts from the mail slots. He opens a closet and brings out three totes of mail for Jessy.

 

"Oh, that's beside the point. If we make the women feel better they'll be happier. We don't reallllly want to punish them . . .let's make them think of it as a vacation."

 

"Bullshit."

 

"Yeah, the authorities weren't too happy with their oh so precious proposals. They wanted the prisoners not to have to wear uniforms . . .they were being mean to them. They also had the brilliant idea of tearing down the walls around the prison . .but had to admit that might allow the prisoners to leave." Jessy says in a mock-sad voice as Joyce snorts. "They wouldn't let them have perfume or stuff like hair dye in the commissary. . .something my mother forever wailed about because her beautiful blonde hair was going grey. The prison didn't even have a beauty parlor. That's how miserable her life was in prison, she was only 25 and going grey."

 

Jenny snorts, Jessy was turning 23 in six weeks.

 

"Yeah, it wasn't fair she got life, I would have only got a few years in a juvenile facility and I was a disgrace to her by not being interested in makeup, having my hair done weekly, or having manicures and pedicures. I could live without those for a few years. . .she was miserable."

 

Over the next few days they sort through the totes. Some stuff homeless shelters can't use but they have boxes they drop off for them.

 

"Is this everything?" Michael asks after they've left the last shelter. He knows there's a couple boxes in the back yet.

 

"Two more places, one that gives women good clothes for interviews to get into the workforce, they can use makeup." He nods in satisfaction. "And a group that employs crossdressers and celebrity impersonators for parties and other events. I'm dropping off stuff there too."

 

"Thank you my dear, while we get donations of business suits nobody thinks of makeup." The woman says, peering into the box.

 

A woman cries when she looks through the box on the table. She looks at the young woman. "My mother died recently, she had stuff I had to sort through after her death. She couldn't use half of what she brought but she had to have it."

 

"Well, we can use it."

 

"Take it, I still have stuff at home that I couldn't donate."

 

Jessy slumps into her favorite easychair back at her home at the House. The twenty-two overstuffed totes has been whittled down to three left and she looks at them before grabbing a gift set you'd see in the dollar stores and running a soothing bath. A tap on the door has her looking over her shoulder.

 

"Jessy?"

 

"In the bathroom, Jenny. Soaking."

 

"Are you decent?" While Jenny is used to seeing most of the employees naked in the jacuzzis she always asks entering their apartments.

 

"Everything's covered." she pulls the shower curtain around so her head is revealed in the clawfoot tub but the rest of her is hidden. Jenny grins as she walks in. "Get everything donated you could?"

 

"Yep. I'm sure my mother is wailing in the afterlife about not having all that crap anymore. Nobody showing up at the funeral to sob over her body, nobody telling everybody about how she was tragically stolen from us much too young. . .nobody is demanding to know how she was convicted. . ."

 

"Ummm because she was guilty?" Jenny snorts.

 

"Oh, that's beside the point. I should have been convicted because I only would got a few years in a juvenile facilty." Jessy waves a hand airily.

 

"Dumbass woman did not settle in well in prison?"

 

"Oh hell no, stupid woman not only tried to stage a hunger strike to get her own damn cook she was so damn sure she'd be getting out she tried ordering a new damn car and making me pay for it. She was fucking stunned when I told her hell no and that life meant life. .. even if that was overturned she still had fifty years from the other charges."

 

"Your mother was a fool."

 

"Yep, the car was sent back and she had to pay off the judgment because they couldn't sell it as new anymore. She tried suing to get the proceeds from the sale of the house. . .she lost there. She tried suing for the life insurance and lost. She tried suing the police for false arrest. . ."

 

"Ummmm, being convicted pretty much throws that argument out."

 

"Yep. I ended up putting out notices that I wasn't responsible for her bills so her creditors wouldn't come after me."

 

"Yes, you were just starting out and didn't need to pay her bills."

 

'And she had a number of creditors. Including her defense. . .moron wailed when she realized she'd be stuck with that bill. . .not me."

 

Jessy looks at the gun that had been her nearly constant companion for the last several months, putting it in the drawer of her desk before turning her attention to the work in front of her. She should put it away but a deep part of her tells her it's still needed.

 

"Ms. Michaels. . .I'm Arthur Brookwood, I'm calling about your mother's life insurance policies?" A male voice says a couple weeks later.

 

"Mr. Brookwood, my mother was in prison for life plus fifty-eight years. As far as I know she didn't have any life insurance policies." The female voice on the other end of the line says.

 

"Actually, she had several, all taken out after her incarceration. Without a will all the money goes to you. . .with the circumstances of her death every policy will have double payouts. The chaplain at the prison was named as the trustee for the policies. . .as he was with many of the inmates policies while they're incarcerated." Arthur looks through the forms.

 

"Excuse me Mr. Brookwood," the phone is put down and the sound of swearing can be faintly heard. He snickers despite himself. "Okay, now that I have that out of my system. . ." Ms. Michaels says when she picks up the phone again.

 

"You feel better?"

 

"No, but me cussing like a sailor will bring my boss running in any second. My mother had a half-assed will written on notebook paper in her cell. In that so-called will she says she wanted all her money to go to those groups that find out prisoners are innocent. . .because she shouldn't have been in prison. . .I would have only got a few years in juvenile. . she got life. Now I know what money she was talking about. Ahhh yes, here's my boss now. Let me put you on speaker phone."

 

"Ms. Michaels. . .has anybody looked. . ."

 

"At that so-called will? Yes, three lawyers at the prison and at law offices elsewhere. While holographic wills are legal in California. . .it's not in the proper format. It's more a series of ramblings about how she wanted everything when she died."

 

"Jessy?" Rupert asks.

 

"That money my mother was talking about? She had a number of life insurance policies purchased after she went to prison. Mr. Brookwood do you have a fax machine?"

 

A few minutes later Arthur is shaking his head as he reads the faxed papers. "No, no court would accept this as a will. I'll start the paperwork to have the checks made out. You should be getting them in the mail within a week."

 

The call ends and Jessy puts her head down on the desk. Rupert pats her shoulder and heads out, finding Jenny and Joyce waiting on him. "It seems the money Jessy's mother was talking about in her ramblings was from several life insurance policies she purchased after going to prison. Three lawyers have already said her papers are not a proper will so she's going to be getting a number of checks in the mail in about a week. And due to the circumstances of her death, each policy is paying out double."

 

"Yes, I'd be cussing too." Jenny says with a sigh. "Her so-called will? Can anybody try to get the money away from her?"

 

"No, no group or person was named in the papers and we've already had three lawyers state that the papers aren't in the proper format for a holographic will. Add in her continual problems at the prison and the rambling papers. . .no court would consider that the last will and testament of a woman of sound mind."

 

"Wait, where did Jessy's mother get the money for the insurance policies? She wasn't making more than fifteen dollars a week from all three jobs." Joyce asks.

 

"Laura. . .I won't give her the satisfaction of using her 'real' name of Lyara had money in her account in the beginning, enough to have supposedly kept her in what she needed for years but. . ."

 

"She blew through it?"

 

"No, the prison would only give her 40 dollars for the commissary every other week."

 

"Which she whined about. Because it didn't leave her money for everything she wanted."

 

"Exactly. How dare the prison keep her on a budget."

 

A week later Jessy comes up to the main house, finding a number of envelopes wrapped in a rubber band and a package waiting on her. She looks at the envelopes and sighs. Cordy wraps her arms around her. "This makes it real."

 

"Yeah, before then we might have not liked our parents, but they were alive." She sighs and opens the envelopes, signing the back of the checks and putting them in her purse to deposit the next day on the way to the airport.

 

"It's good timing." Rupert says.

 

"Yeah, by the time I'm back the checks will have cleared."

 

"What are you going to do with the money?"

 

"Put it in a CD, I don't need the money. I never thought there was any money." Jessy suddenly grins. "PUll the evil in girl, you don't need to turn into your parents."

 

"Not all the money, but maybe I will send the groups like the innocence project donations. So they can help real innocent people behind bars."

 

Rupert blinks and smirks. "Your mother would howl."

 

"Yep."

 

"Are you done packing?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"Talk to me later tonight."

 

"Okay?" Jessy lowers herself slowly into a chair in Rupert's office. He puts something on his desk even though nobody should be near the room. "It's about time to start thinking about taking up your family heritage."

 

"I hope you don't mean a bullying asshole like my father or a damn fool like my mother?" Jessy snorts.

 

"Jessy." Rupert sighs.

 

"You mean a god."

 

"yes."

 

"Can I? It's been . . .how many generations?"

 

"Several. And yes you can. The factor in the blood doesn't dilute no matter how many generations it's been. And even so, those without the factor can become gods, the factor just makes it easier. It's one of the few things the myths and tv series got right."

 

Jessy walks into the bank the next morning, being waved into an office. The woman who handles most of the banking for the Miami house blinks as she looks at the checks. "How?"

 

"My . . .my mother purchased several life insurance policies once she went to prison, the. . .events of her death meant a double payout on all of them."

 

"What do you want to do?"

 

"Put them in a CD, whichever has the best interest and I'm not dunned if I take them out."

 

"That's pretty much . . ."

 

"polar opposites?"

 

"Exactly. You can put it in a seven day cd. Like the name says it matures every seven days but. . ."

 

"The interest isn't as good as the other CDs?"

 

"Exactly. Do you need the money right away?"

 

"No, I had planned on letting it gather interest somewhere and donate the money to charities."

 

Andrew helps her into the car when she comes out and she gives the paperwork to Horatio. "Give that to Rupert, he knows where I keep my financial stuff at home." he nods and takes them to the airport. He walks them inside and waits with them until they board the plane.

 

"Jessy said to give this to you, you know where she keeps her financial paperwork." he says, handing Rupert the papers at the House. He looks everything over and nods. He locks them in his desk for the moment.

 

"How is Dexter Morgan settling in?"

 

"Good, he worked at another station so I hadn't worked with him before now."

 

"You are aware of his . ..past?"

 

"I am . . .and while I'd rather not have that type of individual around he's on our side and only targeted bad guys. The ones the courts couldn't touch. Or they walked away from them."

 

Jessy and Andrew are bleary-eyed when a chuckling Ryan leads them into the House nearly a week later. "This is the comicon 'I haven't slept in days, I haven't eaten a proper meal just as long, just whatever I can grab at the party rooms, I'm only awake out of sheer stubbornness, the second I lay down I'm going to sleep for a week' look." Ryan says with a chuckle.

 

MacGyver chuckles and nods as he leads the pair to a golf cart. Joyce jumps in with him and gets Jessy into her house, undressed, in a nightgown, and in bed. Rupert comes in with her bags and what she'd brought back. He had found a receipt saying that more would be shipped back.

 

"Is she asleep?"

 

"I think she was asleep standing up."

 

"I do too." He pulls the sheet up around her in case it cools during the night and leaves a nightlight on for the bathroom before they leave, locking the house door behind them.

 

Around noon the next day Jessy drags herself into the cafeteria, one of the cooks chuckling and putting a tray in front of her.

 

"Are you all slept out?"

 

"No, but my stomach and bladder were arguing about which one would win the battle to get me up. My bladder won." Rupert chuckles from the doorway, obviously having heard she was in the main house. He hands her a small packet and she looks inside, swallowing the handful of pills at his look and washing them down with milk. "Blyeauch."

 

"You've got at least seven more days of those."

 

"What I said before."

 

Rupert snickers. "Classes?"

 

"I'm on track to start again this fall. Xander and I figure on taking our classes on the computers for another year before we have to start taking our classes at the school."

 

Rupert nods in satisfaction then walks out to Xander's workbuilding, waiting for him to put up the power tools before he says anything.

 

"Jessy says you're on track to take the classes online for another year?"

 

"Yes, by then we'll have the basic classes for both degrees out of the way and we'll have to take the classes at the school. My second advisor is coming out here next week to see what of the other classes I can skip, Jessy's is due out the same time."

 

Jessy's advisor for her library science degree looks around the building and smiles. "It's not often one of my students has their own library. By why are you talking business and fashion as well?"

 

"I'm also in charge of the seamstress shop here, we do a good bit of business with girls coming shopping for prom or graduation dresses. Business? Well I inherited a good bit of money from my family and want to know what I'm doing investing it. I'm not getting into investment banking but a good solid base in business will help."

 

In his workbuilding Xander is saying nearly the same thing.

 

Both of them slump into seats in the cafeteria late that night.

 

"Are you on track for your other degrees?"

 

"Yes, my advisor figures I'll be able to test out of at least a year. He'll know for sure the closer we get to taking those classes." Xander says around a yawn.

 

"Same here. Though she thinks I'm probably well into a masters for classes. Though I'm not going for it yet, one I'd need time to figure out a thesis and two. . ."

 

"You don't need it for your work?"

 

"That's three, two would be getting the fashion degree in first. Though like the library science I'm well into my third year of classes, where we'd be working on projects." A laughing Penelope Garcia comes into the cafeteria for one last meal before catching her flight back to DC. "The FBI in New York finally figured out they're idiots."

 

"Ahhh, lemme guess. Like the New York police department when they shut down that lab they realized they needed that after all."

 

"Yep, and they can't get the old unit back together, they all either left the bureau or moved to other cities. Where all of them are running their own units. Any team they put together now would have growing pains as they settle in together and the New York team's rate was so good because they had Neal on the team."

 

"And just bringing in a con man off the street wouldn't have the same effect. They won't have the same rapport Neal and Peter have." Rupert says. The others nod.

 

Michael grins as Penelope gets on the plane, she's such a breath of fresh air. The stuffed shirts at the FBI must be horrified by her. He chuckles as he heads off to his apartment, finding his Mom leaning in the fridge. "Don't you ever eat anything but yogurt?" She asks, looking at him.

 

"Yes, but yogurt is quicker."

 

"I don't know where I failed you or Nathan, neither of you eat well, you're always running around getting shot at. . ."

 

"Mom, that lecture might be a little more effective if you weren't smoking all the time."

 

She sighs. "True. I suppose it's too late to tell you do as I say and not as I do?"

 

"Way too late."

 

Jessy looks around the library, concentrating on a book just out of reach. It flies into her head and she sighs. She'll deal with being a god later.

 

"Jessy?"

 

"Yeah Jubilee?"

 

"The weather station is forecasting a good sized storm coming through, Rupert wants all the outbuildings not absolutely needed locked up until the storm passes. Everybody in their homes or the main house."

 

Jessy sighs and shuts the library up, heading to her home and making sure all the steel shutters on the windows are down. It makes the home feel closed in and she sighs as she turns on a lamp, checking the food in her kitchen and accepting a package of food from the cafeteria before they shut down until the storm is over.

 

Nearly two days later the shutters come up off the windows and they open to let fresh air into buildings even if the same air is wet from all the rain that went into gutters on every building then into large resevoirs for drinking water in case the power is out a length of time.

 

Rupert is on the phone with the mayor of the town and he nods in satisfaction.

 

"A lot of rain but not a lot of wind or damage. They're checking the streets now. The power is off of course, but other than that. . ."

 

"I couldn't even tell we were on generator."

 

"Actually, we're not. I put us on a different power source." Rupert says absently. Joyce and Jenny look at him. "You're aware of alternate dimensions?" Both women nod. "In another dimension a young woman invented a rather powerful power source. All the buildings here either have that source or are running off it in another building."

 

Jenny whistles despite herself. "Part of the work I did on the buildings year before last while we were shut down for Christmas."

 

"Any other news?"

 

"The purchase of the island is going well, the lawyers will be going over all the businesses to see what they need."

 

A few days later everything is back to normal at the house, the damage had been light in town but they were still without power thanks to numerous lines being down. Crews from all over were working on the lines within a week all the power is restored.

 

In New York Police Commissioner Reagan sighs as he looks at Mac Taylor. "Is there any way we can get you to come back to run your lab again? You can come back at your old pay, seniority, and benefits. We can consider the last couple months as temporary leave thanks to the lab shutdown."

 

"Really?"

 

"The mayor is very upset at all the problems his son-in-law's cuts caused."

 

"I'd wondered how he'd been able to get things through so quickly, there was no notice of a possible lab closure before I got the call saying the lab would be closing in three months."

 

"Yes, because people with brains would have vetoed the closures."

 

"And he couldn't have that?" Mac snorts.

 

"No, the little fool wouldn't have been all that according to my grandchildren." Frank Reagan snorts. "If you come back most of your old crew is willing to return." He passes over a list of people who would be willing to transfer back. "You'll need a new coroner but I have it on good authority Sid is bored stiff with retirement."

 

"What about their current positions?"

 

"The labs were running well before his changes, they'll be going back to the way they were. You'll be getting some interns. . ."

 

"we have in the past." Mac says. He looks at the list and nods. "My other job has told me I can schedule it however I want."

 

"Then welcome back Lt. Taylor." Frank shakes his hand.

 

"Commissioner Reagan?" Don Flack squeaks when he answers the phone on his new desk. "Sir. . .this. . .he is? Boss, I'm heading back to my own precinct in a couple weeks, Taylor's taking the job back when the lab reopens."

 

"Good, you're a good cop Flack but I knew you were having problems settling in here."

 

"This way I don't have an extra twenty minute commute."

 

"Yes, that's the bad part of transferring."

 

A month later Mac looks around his lab as his crew starts walking in. Danny is wearing a uniform for a couple more weeks and Stella had transferred to New Orleans like she'd been planning. He has a new second in command that should be arriving . . .just about now. The elevator opens and a woman he's never met before comes out.

 

"Lt. Taylor, I'm Jo Danville.' Her handshake is firm.

Chapter 2 by josette grover

 

 

"Welcome to New York Ms. Danville."

 

"Is everybody settling back in?"

 

"Yes, and familiarizing themselves with the new machinery that was brought in when the lab was reopened. We've needed it for a while."

 

"But the city didn't want to spend the money on upgrades until now."

 

"Because they're trying to pretend the lab closure didn't happen. Or rather it closed to update the machinery, not because of a damn fool who didn't know what he was doing." Don snorts as he walks off the elevator, taking a deep breath and letting it out. "Ahhhh, it's good to be home."

 

"Jo Danville, Don Flack. One of the homicide detectives we work with often." Mac smiles.

 

"Who all is here?"

 

"Monroe is down the hall along with Adam. Sheldon is due in a couple hours late, he's picking up some people from the airport and taking them outside the city."

 

Jessy is yawning as she and Paige get off the plane and walk to the bathroom to freshen up a few minutes, by the time they get to the baggage claim area their flight is announced and they grab their bags. Jessy grins as a familiar figure waves at her. She nudges Paige and they head that way.

 

"Paige Guthrie, this is Dr. Sheldon Hawkes. . .he works with the house in New York."

 

"I joined the house after the mayor's son-in-law had the harebrained idea to close down my lab to save money. Everybody was left trying to find new jobs in the three months the lab was open because he also had the bright idea to get rid of shifts at the other labs as well as cutting positions so that techs were doing two or three jobs."

 

"And his magnificent changes ended up causing more problems than they should have fixed?" Paige snorts as she puts their bags in the trunk.

 

"Yep, the city ended up spending three times the money they would have saved moving boundary lines to cover the area the precinct covered and cars started getting to scenes ten to fifteen minutes later than they should have. When people started complaining hizzoner's son-in-law blubbered that he thought everything would work just fine. If he'd bothered to talk to people who knew what they were doing. . ."

 

"The lab would never have been shut down in the first place?"

 

"Exactly. He was stunned that precincts and labs weren't like fast food places and you can't just stick them anywhere you want."

 

"Are you back at the lab?"

 

"Yes, the house is letting both Mac and I work around our hours around the lab."

 

"Misters Caffrey and Burke know how long a case can take. And you're on the front lines as it were, by the time they got it. . ." Sheldon nods.

 

Paige looks around the grounds as they drive up to the house, Jessy and Sheldon pointing out the businesses that are doing brisk sales if the cars in the parking lots are any indication.

 

"Candy store?"

 

"Yes, it's something Mr. Caffrey added to the house that wasn't part of the original plans. It's doing good business." Sheldon says.

 

"Yep, Rupert's talking to town to see if there'd be any interest there."

 

"Why are we here?"

 

Jessy starts ticking items off her fingers. "Expo in a few days, before that I got to talk to the managers over some money of my father's that suddenly appeared." Sheldon snorts. "Yeah, if it was legit it would have shown up after his death, not nearly seven years later."

 

"Statute of limitations would have run out on most criminal activity by now."

 

"That's Rupert's thought too. I know he's been in talks with Mr. Burke and some of his former coworkers. I'm going to be attending a sale at a supplier and visiting the fashion school again to test out of several classes."

 

"And I'm here?"

 

"Rupert wants you visit various schools and get information for the library. Correction libraries. . .we're shipping similar packages to Vegas and Denver, in turn they're shipping to the other houses."

 

A week later Dexter Morgan smiles as he picks up Paige and Jessy from the airport.

 

"Another four hundred and fifty million dollars?" Rupert sighs when she puts everything down in front of him the next day.

 

"Yeah, along with a lifetime investment in a number of technically legal enterprises various places. A lot of real estate holdings, a couple casinos. . .stuff like that."

 

"I knew your father was. . ."

 

"As crooked as they come and he dropped to the level of shit he surrounded himself with. . .even as a kid. That's one of the reasons my grandparents disowned him. Personally, I think he was laundering money, running drugs, or something like that for years to have that much money to leave me. . .let alone the money he supposedly invested."

 

"Yep." Rupert looks through the file of businesses and whatnot Jessy has an interest in. "And it's not the first time crooks channeled their money into legitimate businesses."

 

A truck backs up to the storage area a week later, Jessy, Paige, and Dexter marking off items as the truck is emptied.

 

"Did you hear back on your tests?" Rupert asks after everything is put away.

 

"Before I left, I shaved three semesters off my degree. I'm a little over a year from finishing the degree. The rest of the classes I can't test out of, I have to take them in person. And they want me to take them by working with them for at least a year." Jessy waves a hand at the bookcases in her 'library' in the seamstress building that have more textbooks in them.

 

"There's nothing saying you can't. . .especially now." Rupert chuckles. "Your other degrees?"

 

"Xander and I have an appointment to take tests to test out of at least a year of classes before we sign up for our fall classes. Our advisors gave us handouts so we know what we'll be tested on and we've got the books. If we don't test out of them we'll have them for our classes." Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

A month later Jessy and Xander settle in a room, a pile of tests in front of each of them. They each have a container of sharpened pencils in front of them and the proctor grins as they silently count the tests, wonder if this had been such a good idea after all, and sigh. The proctor chuckles. They'll do fine, that's why they were allowed to test out of their classes in the first time.

 

Several long hours later for them they finish the last test and Ryan chuckles, taking them to a restaurant for a meal they pounce on before taking them back to the House.

 

"How long will it take to hear about their tests?"

 

"At least two weeks. Neither of them need their grades before they sign up for their fall classes. How is Willow coming along?"

 

"She's going to be talking to her advisor this fall and plans on presenting her thesis next summer."

 

Three weeks later Jessy and Xander come back from signing up for their fall classes, getting their books and picking up other supplies at an office supply store. Rupert smiles as he waves letters at them and they sigh, taking the letters and slowly opening them.

 

"Wellll?" He finally asks.

 

"Passed them all, I'll be 'officially' three years in next spring and the school wants me to work with them during the summer." Xander says.

 

"Same here, I've officially tested out of all the library science classes and can sign up for grad school when they start accepting applications. I'll put it off a year since I've got a year and some for my fashion degree and still have the business degree."

 

Jessy snorts at a letter she drops in the garbage a couple days later. "Nooooooo, I'm not traumatized by my darling mother's untimely murder in prison and I'm not contacting you so you can sue the prison for an accident and take a huge chunk of anything you'd get me."

 

"Ambulance chasers." Jenny says.

 

"Exactly. They're looking to make a quick buck. They expect me to be like my mother and run to them to make money."

 

The first day of classes finds Xander and Jessy settling in the library on computers to start their second year of classes.

 

"Are you into the early business classes?"

 

"I will be next spring."

 

"Jessy?"

 

Jessy turns to look at Rupert. "You got a certified letter that I signed for." She takes the envelope. "New York?"

 

Rupert takes the envelope and opens it. A slip falls out of the letter and Xander looks at it. "It's a certified check."

 

"Why?" Jessy says.

 

"There's a single line on the page. 'We're sorry about the loss of your mother'."

 

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." Xander picks up the check. "This is a lot of money."

 

Rupert looks at the check and takes it. "Yes it is, I'll put this in my safe until you can deposit it."

 

Jessy looks at the check and sighs. "It can go in the CD with the money I got from the life insurance, we set it up to accept future depsosits when she found out what the money was from."

 

Rupert nods. "That's why you had all the lawyers trying to get you to sue, they know it's going to be a big settlement and wanted their piece of the pie."

 

Jessy snorts. "More like they want to give me a piece of the pie and keep the rest for themselves."

 

Rupert and Xander nod. Rupert locks the letter and check in his safe. He has the feeling this is going to be the first of many.

 

By the time of midterms three more mystery checks have arrived as well as expected payouts of insurance money from the company that owned the truck that had been arriving at the laundry and the state of California.

 

Rupert, Michael, Horatio, Ryan, and Dexter look at each other in his office late that night.

 

"Gentlemen, I know everybody has been looking into the situation. Was it an accident?"

 

"Probably not, there's rumors that the brakes were tampered with. . .making them look like they failed naturally. But there's no way to know for sure since the brake lines were rotten and fell apart in the mechanic's hands. If it was a setup though. . .who was the target? According to everything Jessy's mother was running late for her shift at the laundry. There were other inmates hurt in the accident, were they one of the targets?"

 

"And we only have the word of the lawyers trying to get Jessy to sue saying it was murder. And they're only saying it to try to get her to sue."

 

"They're the same people who are saying the brakes were tampered with. . .at least until the owners of the truck slapped them with a slander lawsuit. Now. ..the fact that Jessy is getting checks does make all of us suspicious but. . ."

 

"There's no way to say one way or the other."

 

"Everybody at the prison hated her mother and there's more than a few gang affiliations even if there's no actual gang members."

 

"Tests?" Rupert asks when Jessy and Xander come into the cafeteria a couple days later.

 

"B plus/A minus range." Xander says.

 

"A-/A range." Jessy says around a yawn, they're well in the hurricane season and rain in pouring down from the latest brush against the coast. Miami had been evacuated and the television in the cafeteria is showing the packed roads as people wait until the last damn second to leave. As usual.

 

"Is this going to delay your schooling?" One of the cooks asks.

 

"No, we can pick up extra classes online while the school is closed. Unless there's major damage they should be reopening in a week or so. The students taking classes at the school will have a shorter semester, teachers will have to get more things into their lectures to make up for the missed classes. Students at the school know there's a chance that their education might be disrupted for a couple weeks during hurricane season, this is a prime example where taking the classes online is better."

 

"Students should know their educations might be interrupted during hurricane season. It's the downside of taking classes in the area." Joyce says. Everybody nods.

 

"Same with students who live in the snow belt knowing they might be missing classes thanks to bad storms."

 

"And by now it's your jobs to get your work done so you're on track when school starts up again." One of the cooks says. Everybody in earshot nods.

 

Xander and Jessy shake their heads as they listen to the news in their workrooms before they get started on projects.

 

"Your school I take it?" Illyana asks from the front room.

 

"Yep." The school had taken severe wind damage to a number of buildings and wouldn't be reopening for the rest of the school year. "We should be getting letters in the mail shortly reminding students it's their job to finish their classes online. If they can."

 

"Some degrees you couldn't. They're more hands-on." Joyce says with a nod behind Illyana. "You, Willow, Harmony, and Xander?"

 

"Willow can easily switch to the computer for the rest of her classes. She might have to wait to present her thesis but there should be a number to call on the letter. To find out if your program can be accessed online, to find out if they'll be open to buy the books for the next semester or if you'll have to buy them online. . .all that goody good stuff. Harmony's already taking her classes online, the teacher who would have been teaching at the school's university center is on sabbatical for a year writing another book."

 

"Good lord people, you know you're in a hurricane area. . .why weren't your buildings up to hurricane standards?" Rupert mutters as he listens to the news.

 

"They were grandfathered in and the school figured it would be cheaper to cross their fingers and hope nothing ever happened." Jessy snorts as she puts a tray down across from him in the cafeteria. "I hope the new construction was up to standards."

 

"It appears to have fared better than some of the other buildings on campus. Though not all of them were damaged."

 

"They were worked on over the years according to Willow, you could tell which ones hadn't by the damage. This time the board will have to get off their asses and bring the rest of the buildings up to code."

 

The letters arrive a couple days later, Rupert looking at his children.

 

"On track."

 

"Same here."

 

"My classes weren't affected."

 

"Yes, I can switch to the computer." Willow says. "While we can't take classes at the school until next fall at the earliest we can sign up for classes, get our books and supplies and those students in grad school who are signed up to present theses or defend dissertations still can."

 

"Do you have an appointment?"

 

"I was going to get one next semester. My thesis is nearly done but I wanted to talk to my advisor before I took that final step." Rupert, Joyce, and Jenny nod in satisfaction. These four were the only ones currently taking classes at that school, the others had either graduated or were attending other schools in the area.

 

"Are you going to losing work prom season?"

 

"No, most schools weren't that badly damaged or were up to hurricane standards. It was just our bad luck that our school was in the area that got a glancing blow. I'm sure the board has their hands out to the government blubbering about an act of god so they don't have to pay."

 

"Not if the school wasn't up to hurricane standards." One of the House's lawyers snorts. "The government will bring in inspectors and they'll have to pay for the repairs and bring the buildings up to standards or lose all their federal funding. They've done it before."

 

"Jeezus." Jessy moans as she looks around the room Rupert had brought her into after her finals and buying the books and supplies for the next semester's classes. "What is this place?"

 

"This is what your choker would have linked to to bring you back if you used it in Philadelphia." Rupert brings something out of a box on a chain he puts around Jessy's neck. "Don't take this off except to bathe for ten days, it will take that long to bond to you. And now. . .Let's go on a little trip."

 

Jessy slumps into a chair in the front room of the House a couple days later to the rest of the world but years later for her after going to the bank in town.

 

"Jessy?" Rupert looks at her from the doorway of his office.

 

"Went into town to deposit the judgment from the police department in Philadelphia. The officers involved got reprimands in their permanent records and everybody knows what kinds of fools they are now. They'll never have the type of power they had before, all their cases are double and triple checked, and they're off the promotion list for a few years, if not life. In return I didn't demand they be fired and they're bringing in more detectives to weed out the good old boy network."

 

"That above all says it's been needed for a while." Joyce snorts.

 

"Yep, it was only them going after me that got them more attention than they wanted. Anybody else they swept it under the rug. Or turned it around somehow."

 

"Yeah, blame the victim seems to be a favorite game for some police forces."

 

"Because they know they'll get away with it. Even if they do get charged like in the police shootings they never get convicted."

 

"Indeed, the only conviction was for the lesser federal charges in that one case and that was only on a plea bargain."

 

"Yes they wonder why the general public doesn't like police. Ours excepted."

 

"Yes, but even with ours there's bad seeds. That's why there are IA bureaus."

 

"Not that they do a lot to curb bad cops. They're always stunned to hear about bad cops when it hits the news."

 

"While according to the other officers everybody knew they were crooked."

 

"But nobody did anything." Joyce snorts.

 

"Exactly."

 

Rupert looks at Joyce and Jenny later that night. "A word of warning, morons in DC are whining about me not opening a house for them again."

 

"Oh of course. . .because Congress is so damn special."

 

"Yep, they can't believe we won't jump to open a house there. Because we already showed we'd open new branches."

 

True to Rupert's warning there's numerous calls over the next week, first demanding they drop everything and work on a house for them. That gets them hung up on. Then they try wheedling, telling them if they build a house we'll. . . That too is ignored. They try pleading then and when that doesn't work the threats come out. That results in them getting slapped upside the head by their bosses and told to grow the hell up.

 

"But they're opening new houses. . .why won't they open one for us." they whine.

 

"Because they don't want to and they don't have to."

 

If Cordy, Xander, and Jessy are quiet over Christmas everybody understands and hugs are passed around almost every time they enter a room.

 

"Have you got any orders from my friends?" Cordy asks as she puts down her tray.

 

"Yes, three so far. I finished the last one just before we shut the building down for Christmas. He just grinned at me and said he'd see me after he got back from a cruise with his family."

 

"Yeah, he's been complaining about that trip for a while. It's one of those ones that go multiple places and you're on the ship nearly a month."

 

"Christ, I don't know if I'd be able to handle that long a cruise. I went on some with my parents before I was diagnosed with RA and I was bored to tears and they were only a few days. Which my mother wailed about because she wanted to be gone longer but my father said he couldn't be away that long. If she hadn't been so damn greedy they could have gone on one of those damn long cruises once he retired. Not that he would have retired." Rupert nods.

 

After the first of the year Jessy, Xander, and Andrew go into Miami, Andrew following Jessy around the fabric warehouse since it's a cold wet day and those still make her ache. They go to a comic book store next and Xander chuckles at the bags they both carry out.

 

"Anyplace else?"

 

"Done, I got the stuff for maintenance and what I could get here. I'll put in the order for the other stuff when we get home."

 

"Same here."

 

"Are you going out to the school in New York again this summer?"

 

"If not at least visiting the supplier. The school agrees that my other classes come first. I'm not the only one going for a dual degree . . .just the only one who's not in New York."

 

"Rupert already plans on you going out a week after your classes are done, I'm taking a summer internship with somebody he knows so I'm flying out with you. He figures on us both being back in time for you guys to buy your books and supplies for your fall classes." Andrew says. "He wanted to talk to you in a couple days, he's already got plans for you to attend a couple expos in New York and the guy I'm going to be interning with is used to geeks vanishing when a new movie comes out or for comicons. All we need to do is fill out paperwork for those days."

 

Rupert nods as he comes into the room where Jessy's supplies are being brought off the truck. He looks at her.

 

"They're having a special sale at the supplier, otherwise I'd have gone in closer to prom season. But this way I could stock up stuff that was being cleared out for the next great thing. That will flop miserably."

 

Xander snorts. "Just like second hand stores had a lot of donations after Christmas."

 

"Yep, and stores cleared out holiday stuff."

 

The following week they settle in their usual spots in the library, signing into their new classes. A few days later Mr. Murdock shows back up at the House to go over their finances, this time Xander having Rupert sit in on it too.

 

One nice weekend they park the bus by their party boat, everybody trooping on with food that goes in the large galley before they cast off and start going out on the water. Several miles out they drop anchor and everybody gets settled in swimsuits or less, putting on sunscreen and getting comfortable.

 

Jessy and the others she brought out to the seamstress building for the girls who start flooding the building start putting together containers. The flood of orders ends after a couple days and Jessy heads into town to deposit all the cash and checks and replace the supplies used for the dresses. A few new items are coming out and she fills the truck.

 

Rupert chuckles as she slumps into a seat in the cafeteria.

 

"Get everything replaced you used?"

 

"Yes, as well as some new stuff just coming out. I'll put in an order with the suppliers tomorrow. Look at these," Jessy hands him pamphlets. "They've got new machines coming out."

 

"Yours see a lot of work." Rupert agrees. "You should have extras on hand. Do you have orders for quilts?"

 

"Yeah, Jack contacted me the other day and he ordered three dozen in various sizes. I know he put in an order for more soap. He was amused by the labels. .. he said Owen bitched for days when he saw his soap."

 

"Which is why he asked for that label for Owen's soap." Harmony snorts down the table. "Jessy, I'm attending the textbook expo with you, my teacher is going to be there to talk about his new book with some others." Jessy nods since she's got a mouthful of food.

 

They fly off to DC a couple weeks later, arriving at the hotel to find everybody up in arms and a clerk sighing behind the desk.

 

"What's going on?"

 

"Somebody screwed up and canceled aaaaaaaalllllll our reservations because they got the date wrong and thought we didn't show up."

 

"All the reservations?"

 

"Yes, they gave everything to another group. In an attempt to recoup some of their losses."

 

"Which weren't losses since it hadn't happened yet?"

 

"Yep, the manager is in his office trying to figure out which genius in computer services cancelled all the reservations and if it was just an accident or an attempt to steal them from us. Meanwhile somebody else is frantically trying to find room for either them or us. And desperately not having to try to pay back our deposits. They swear we can come back another time and use our deposits. . . "

 

"Why would we come back?" Somebody snorts behind Jessy and Harmony. "They already screwed up our reservations once. Why give them a second chance."

 

"Exactly."

 

"Are you stupid Lady?" A police officer asks the woman coming in for her shift who'd called trying to get them to clear out of hotel lobby. "They made reservations to stay here. Have you refunded anybody their money?"

 

"Nooooooo." She wails. The others had told her what had happened and she'd been so sure she could get the police to make them leave.

 

"Then they have every legal right to be here." He snorts. "Find them rooms somewhere or refund their money."

 

"But they could come back another time." There, they'll have to leave now.

 

"Why the hell would they come back? They have reservations, that trumps somebody just coming in off the street."

 

"But their reservations were canceled."

 

"Not by them, that means you still owe them their rooms."

 

"Yes it does, start checking them in. If the other group ever appears they can take the conference center a couple blocks away, the hotel isn't open officially but they'll take them." A man says, coming out of an office. "I don't believe they're going to be showing up, somebody from the group would have been here by now. Corporate believes the reservation system was hacked, they're looking into it now."

 

"Not the first time somebody has hacked to cause problems." Somebody snorts as they start lining up to check in and be given room keys, apologies, and an additional fifteen percent off their bills for the problems. The woman who'd tried getting them removed wails like a siren until she's told to shut the fuck up and either get to work or be fired.

 

"So that's it Rupert, we finally got in our rooms. Jessy's soaking right now and we're going to be going out to dinner." Harmony says on the phone.

 

"Did the other group ever show up?" Rupert asks a couple nights later. Jessy is in their room alone since Harmony is in a meeting with her teacher.

 

"No, which makes everybody think it was hackers out to cause problems."

 

Rupert looks at the receipt Jessy hands him when they return to the House. "Seven boxes, not as bad as Vegas since there were less new books debuting. Most of them were reprints of old books that hadn't changed." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "How are we on supplies for the library?"

 

"Good, I tripled my usual order after Vegas and doubled my usual order before we left so I'd have extra." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "Quilts?"

 

"Going well. Jack knew when he ordered them it would be a while."

 

"How was the expo?"

 

"Hell, that stupid woman who wanted us to come back would not leave us the hell alone. She had the police come in because nobody buys textbooks. She got her ass handed to her by the manager for that, she tried having all of us arrested for being in the banquet room we reserved for the first and last night of the expo."

 

"What a useless bitch." Joyce says.

 

"Yes, rumor is she was behind the cancellation of the expo's reservations. She was trying to get the owners to sell at a loss by ruining the hotel."

 

"That makes sense, otherwise she'd just be a miserable bitch who should have been drowned at birth."

 

"Amen." Jessy starts sorting through her mail. "She wanted all of us to come back. . .probably after her friends owned the hotel so the money went to her. Unfortunately for her the owners of the hotel realized what was going on and refused to sell."

 

Jessy looks at the quilts in various stages of construction when she walks in the seamstress building, everybody looking up and smiling at her before going back to work.

 

"Who's that?" a customer asks.

 

"Jessy Michaels. . .the boss." Cordelia's friend chuckles.

 

"Yep, she was off on a expo since she also runs the library on the grounds." Paige says. They turn back to look at the fabric as Jessy goes into the storeroom, nodding in satisfaction at the updated list on the clipboard.

 

Finals comes faster than they thought it would and Jessy puts her books up for the summer. Harmony rolls her head on her shoulders. "Have you heard the latest on the island?"

 

"The purchase went through and Rupert's heading off in a couple days to inspect it. An organic farm is in talks with him about growing on the island."

 

"How do they handle power?"

 

"Solar panels to provide energy and hot water, all the buildings have batteries since they're not on the main grid. Damn near every building on the main islands have solar panels to provide power or warm the water."

 

"Sending power back up the grid?"

 

"Yes, though while I was out there they were wanting people not to send it up the grid so more houses are having batteries installed to store the power."

 

"What about in bad weather?"

 

"Generators for the couple of hours if the batteries are drained or it's cloudy and the solar panels aren't providing enough energy that day. On the main islands they'd be buying power those times." Harmony says. In the doorway Rupert nods. "Is everybody done now?"

 

"Yeah, Xander was the last one to finish his tests."

 

"Have you heard anything about the school not opening this fall?"

 

"Yes," Jessy sighs. "The school is bleating they shouldn't have to update the buildings to the new standards so they're suing saying they should just put the buildings back the way they were. The government is saying oh yes you do."

 

"Anybody else would realize how damn foolish it is not to be up to hurricane standards already."

 

"That makes sense," Harmony snorts. "The board is just out to save money. I mean. . .hello, they only have one professor and the rest are TAs for my program. Because hiring more teachers would bust their precious budget."

 

"Don't they have insurance?"

 

"Won't pay out because they say the damage is their fault for not being up to hurricane standards."

 

"Indeed."

 

"About time to throw the board out and bring in people with sense."

 

"We had people with sense in charge before but they got replaced with these morons in a closed door meeting. I'm sure there's going to be hell to pay if this makes the media."

 

True to Harmony's word it's in all the papers when Andrew and Jessy are dropped off at the airport. The now former board has been fired and are whining about how they were just turning the school around .. .they weren't making enough money. The old board was actually going to update all the buildings and they didn't need it.

 

"Asshole, if anybody had been hurt they'd have been facing criminal charges." Jessy says as they stand up to board the flight.

 

Mac Taylor smiles as Andrew pushes the cart of bags out of the baggage claim area, putting them in the back and smiling as Andrew helps Jessy up into the seat. They drop him off first and help him get settled in the intern housing before heading out to the New York House.

 

Three months later Jessy slumps into a chair at the Miami House. "Please tell me you didn't work all the time."

 

"Nope, we went places. Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, DC to the smithsonian, expos. . ." Jessy looks around. "In one of my new bags is tons of photos. Even with all the traveling I still finished more than a semester of classes. I'm now over three years into the degree and they're talking about me taking a second one, that one the history of textiles."

 

Joyce nods in satisfaction.

 

Xander, Harmony, and Jessy shake their heads as they look around the school when they go in to get their books for this fall.

 

"They'll be working on the repairs for a while."

 

"Yep, I'm sure there'll be asswipes whining about the air conditioning being off while they take out the windows."

 

"Of course they will, then they'll be all 'oh' when they realize all the cold air would go right out the fucking big hole in the wall." A man snorts nearby.

 

"Amen." Another person snorts.

 

"Are you all on track to start your classes at the school?" Rupert asks when they return to the house.

 

"Yep."

 

"My name is Alexander Harris, I own my own business doing woodwork." Xander says in the classroom as he takes his first business class at the school. "I'm dual-enrolled, I'm three years into a woodworking degree thanks to testing out of classes and working here at the school over the summer." He nudges Jessy who's busy sketching. She swats at him. "this is Jessy Michaels, she works at the same place I do, but while I do woodworking she is a seamstress, she's three years into a fashion degree. . .the school doesn't offer it here yet but she spent the summer in New York working at the main school. She's also finished a degree in libary science here, tesing out of two years of classes since she is in charge of the library where we work."

 

"I thought you said she was a seamstress?" A woman asks.

 

"I am." Jessy says, finishing the sketch and looking up. "If anybody has teenage girls who went to Hurricane Springs for their prom or graduation dresses, they probably got them from me."

 

"I thought I recognized you Ms. Michaels." The teacher chuckles. Jessy looks up at him. "You're the father of the triplets."

 

"Yes, and thank you for finding dresses all three of them liked. And more importantly I liked." Jessy chuckles.

 

"You run a library and are a seamstress?"

 

"Our boss has his fingers in a lot of pies, a lot of us work in more than one area. In addition to our businesses, we have leatherworkers, soap, candles, and cheesemaking buildings."

 

The teacher chuckles and starts to lecture as the few younger students who'd been grumbling about old people in their class hush up and realize there's a reason why they have their own businesses. The smart ones anyway, the dumb ones complain at home and get the stupidity beaten out of them by their parents.

 

Back at the house Xander and Jessy check their mail and head to the cafeteria.

 

"How was your first day of classes at the school? Better than on the computer?"

 

"Computer is more convenient but you don't have the teacher and other students."

 

"Which isn't always a good thing, a good half of the students are too fucking stupid to live." Harmony snorts down the table. "But they're young and Mommy and Daddy told them they're special. They never had to work for anything. Once they're asked to leave the school for failing all their classes they'll have to and realize they should have listened to their parents."

 

"Some people are just born stupid." One of the cooks says.

 

The next couple months pass quickly and Jessy finishes her midterms in the business class, handing it in then pulling another textbook out to look through. The teacher chuckles softly, he knows she and Xander are riding together. And he's still taking his test. Ten minutes later Xander pokes Jessy and she marks her place as he hands up his test and grabs his bag. "From the fashion school?" He asks once they're in the car.

 

"Yeah, one of the history texts for the degree they want to start next fall." Jessy moans as the lights in the buildings go out. "Another fucking blackout?" The lights start coming on a second later as generators kick into life.

 

"Looks like it, even with all the new power plants there's still a huge strain on the grid." The going is slow until they get on the on-ramp since all the street lights are out. The electronic signs are out too but they have the car's GPS to keep them on track. The people at the guardhouse sigh when they pull up. "You two were the only ones out."

 

"We were just in the car when the lights went out. Any news?"

 

"Usual statement. ..they don't know what happened or when it will come back on." Dexter says as they park the car and he drives them up to the main house. Jenny sighs in relief when they walk inside.

 

"Good, I was hoping you were out of class when the power went out."

 

"Just had got in the car when it went out, thankfully all the lights in the parking lot are solared panel dusk to dawn lights. Which the old board whined about. . .they swore they wouldn't be needed."

 

Jenny snorts, this is the third blackout in two months. "Everybody who can create alternate power is thanks to the damn blackouts and the damn government is no closer to figuring out what is happening then they were."

 

"Rationing power? Are you fucking stupid?" the president asks one of his advisors the next day.

 

"But if you shut down power during the day. . ."

 

"Everybody will be flooding the system when it's dark and they turn on lights. And it's nearly winter, people will need heat."

 

"What if we make it like alternate side of the street parking, switching power every few days?"

 

"No. Find a real solution. . .not these damn pipe dreams. I'm not telling the taxpayers to suck it up and get used to being without power for days at a time. It's nearly November people, winter's going to be here in several weeks and they'll need heat. And they'll need electricity for that heat. . .to turn the damn furnace on if nothing else. No power would also lead to freezing pipes. There's buildings that need uninterrupted power. Let alone food spoiling thanks to refrigerators without power."

 

"But if we make it unilateral so everybody is losing power part of the time nobody will be upset." The advisor tries again.

 

"Find.A.Real.Solution.To.The.Power.Problem." The president says through gritted teeth. "Nobody is losing their power due to rationing."

 

"But if we don't start cutting power the whole grid will collapse within ten years. We're putting too much power through it. You've got to let us start shutting plants down."

 

"NO!"

 

"Did you get your remaining midterms taken?" the school is still shut down thanks to the power outage. Jenny asks Jessy as she comes up to her table.

 

"Yes, we took them on the computer like hopefully most of the students were able to. Otherwise they'll have to make them up at the office."

 

"Fools." Rupert says as he comes into the cafeteria. Jenny looks over at him. "The so-called experts in DC want to start rationing power because we're putting too much through the grid."

 

"Isn't that why we put up the power plant. . .because we needed the power?" Joyce rolls her eyes.

 

"Yes, as well as the other new plants. At first they wanted to cut power during the day when the demand was lesser but it would shoot up at night when people start turning on lights, ovens, tvs. . ."

 

"If you don't have power, all your food's going to go bad."

 

"Not here, but New York and Colorado need power during winter for heat."

 

"Yes, they're pouting that they're not being allowed to shut down plants. I'm sure the prison system would love to get the notice they're not getting power for a few days. The morons would whine they didn't know prisoners would escape if the cells didn't lock because of a power outage."

 

"Or hospitals lose power during an emergency. . .probably caused by the power going out."

 

"Yep. They didn't think about how many people need power all the time."

 

True to Rupert's words there's wailing in DC as the so-called experts realize just how many people need uninterrupted power. They'd been so sure that they could talk the President into doing that they wanted but he had real experts brought in who called them damn fools.

 

The school is back open the following week, more than a few students heading to the office to make up their midterms. They get their grades back in their classes and nod in satisfaction.

 

Rupert looks at them when they return. "Solid B+/A- range."

 

"A-/A range. We'll both make the honor rolls again."

 

"Have you signed up for your Library Masters yet?"

 

"Yes, though I doubt I'll get in right away. Did Willow get her masters?"

 

"Yes." Willow had had an appointment before the power outage to present her thesis.

 

The rest of the semester passes and after her finals Jessy takes inventory of the sewing building for the next year, putting in an order and dropping the receipt on Larry's desk.

 

"Get your grades?"

 

"Yep, we all made the dean's list again."

 

"I heard there was some problems at the school?"

 

"Yes, the business school advisor had started talking to some of the students about graduate school. One little shit had a fit and fell in it because he wasn't invited to a 'meeting' talking about grad school attended by some of the other students. He'd tell his Daddy about 'That', he was wich and somebody would be in twouble." Jessy says in a sing-song voice.

 

"Oh Christ." Larry says. "Living proof some people never grow up. For all that you're supposed to have become an adult by now, some people still go running home to Mommy and Daddy when they don't get what they think they deserve. They usually end up dropping out."

 

"Yep, the little shit was bluntly told the reason he wasn't invited because there was no way in hell he'd be accepted to grad school, he was already on academic probation and was in danger of failing his classes. He still had a fit and somebody at the grad school tried banning the people who attended the meeting from the school, saying their applications would be automatically denied and if they were found on the school grounds they'd be removed by security because they were trespassing."

 

"Isn't the grad school grounds and the undergrad school grounds the same school grounds?" Larry snorts.

 

"Yes, calmer heads called them damn fools and the moron who'd been prancing around like a peacock because he was the man got the stupidity slapped out of him by his parents and the teachers."

 

"Hopefully literally in his parents case." Rupert snorts.

 

"Yep, because Daddy ain't as rich or powerful as he thinks he is."

 

"Is he still a student?"

 

"Nope, he failed his classes and the school 'regretfully' let him go. Little shit was already on academic probation and his parents had told him to straighten up."

 

"And he didn't." Rupert sighs.

 

"Of course not, now he's working a minimum wage job instead of sitting on his ass in the cushy job Daddy was going to give him once he got his degree."

 

"Serves the stupid little shit right." Joyce snorts from the doorway. "I'd say maybe it would make the brat grow up but those kind never do." She comes into the room and drops paper on Larry's desk. "The inventory and orders." Rupert nods as Larry files everything.

 

"Is everybody gone?"

 

"Who were leaving, Willow was the last one to fly out."

 

"Has anybody heard rumors about local governments passing laws to have people stop sending power back to the grid?" Larry asks at dinner that night.

 

"I heard similar rumors, but it was the federal government in my case and they were doing it to try to lessen power flowing through the grid." Jessy says. Larry nods. "Supposedly there was going to be tax breaks for people to install batteries to store the power at their home for their own use,"

 

"With only limited power drain when those went dry." Rupert nods. "But they wouldn't work very well in places that get a lot of winter weather. That's why they're doing that in Hawaii."

 

Joyce nods. "Hawaii, California, Nevada, and here in Florida it would work better than the Denver or New York houses."

 

 

Chapter 3 by josette grover

 

A few days later Rupert shakes his head as he reads the newspaper. "Larry, did you see this article?"

 

"The state legislature trying to make people not send power back through the grid? Yes, hopefully they realize how fucking stupid that is."

 

"I recognize that name." Jessy says, reading over his shoulder. "The one who brought the idea up, he's big in solar power. Or rather his company is big in selling batteries to store solar power."

 

"Which people would need if they can't send excess power back to the grid and he'd make money hand over fist." Larry snorts as the power goes out. A few seconds later the alternate power kicks back on and Larry turns on the local news channel, turning it off when there's nothing new.

 

"How are we on batteries if that fool bill passes?" Jessy asks quietly.

 

"We've got enough to cover the entire state with solar panels and not run out of room. Each battery has been. . ."

 

"Whoomped up several million degrees?" Jessy chuckles.

 

"Indeed."

 

A few days later a car comes up to the gates, checking an address.

 

"May I help you?" The man behind the gatehouse on the left says in a tone that says he really doesn't want to help her.

 

"Is this the Sunnydale house?"

 

"Yes."

 

"I'm from the state electrical commission. . .according to our records you have solar panels?"

 

"Yes, on every building and a field of them besides."

 

"How much power do you send back to the grid?"

 

"We don't, all power is used directly or stored in batteries."

 

"Have you heard about the bill in the state legislature to . . ."

 

"have people with solar panels stop sending it back to the grid. Yes, and it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's just a ploy to make more money for that asswipe when everybody has to go to him to buy batteries. And what about houses that just lease their roofs to companies for the power? That power goes to the grid, it's not used by them. And yes, I do know what I'm talking about, I'm an electrical engineer." Scott Lang says at her opening mouth. "I also work at the power plant the house owns." The woman in the car seems to shrink on herself a minute. She huffs up a second later to complain about something else but the guards glare at her and she gulps and drives off. They snigger and settle back to work as a different vehicle drives up. One of the guardhouses opens and they hand over the empty mail containers, taking full ones and putting them on the back of the golf cart. Jesse smiles as they arrive at the main house and he starts sorting mail into cubbies.

 

The double double double order of lye and other soapmaking supplies arrives over the next couple of days, being unloaded and put in storage until needed. The supplies for the other buildings start arriving too, everybody busiy putting things away. It doesn't seem like they should be ordering everything this late in the year instead of after the first of the year but this will keep them in supplies into February.

 

Jessy walks into the main house a few days later, disappearing from view for a second. Nobody's there to see her and she reappears a couple seconds later, shaking her head. She's got a tote bag on her arm and walks to the supply closets, writing down what she's taking as she fills the bag. Looking at the time she opens a takes her noon pills and heads to the cafeteria.

 

"But I figured that if the bill passed everybody would come to me to buy the batteries." The moron who'd wanted it wails. "I didn't know there's some people who don't own the solar panels and just send the power to the grid directly."

 

"So that's it." Horatio says a few days before Christmas when the news the bill was not voted on is in the papers. "He was just looking for a major payday."

 

"Does he even have enough batteries for every house in the state that has solar panels?" Larry asks.

 

"No, the state would have to give him money for that too." Rupert rolls his eyes. "The little fool is wailing that all his plans have gone to pot and everybody knows what kind of fool he really is."

 

"Oh my god, they're talking bad about me." Jessy says in a mock bleating tone as she sits down with her tray. Everybody in earshot nods.

 

"But they're doing it in Hawaii." Peter mock-blubbers. "Moron doesn't realize the islands are islands and self-contained power grids."

 

"And the state is probably giving them rebates to add the batteries to their homes." Xander says. "Because they can't put up more power plants." Nods from everybody in earshot.

 

"Are all the orders in we were expecting before Christmas?" Joyce asks a couple days later.

 

"According to the receipts."

 

Christmas is quiet, everybody who's still at the house coming to the main house to pick up presents and emptying stockings that had been filled by the adults. Christmas dinner is next and everybody is stuffed by the time they head back to their homes or apartments.

 

Rupert crooks a finger at Jessy and motions her into her office when the seamstress shop opens again after the first of the year. "You went time traveling." He says, looking at her.

 

"Not my idea." Jessy mutters. "I was coming into the main house one day and suddenly poof. . .I was back in the early 1900s. All I can say is I've got damn good coin, stamp, pulp magazines, and comic book collections now. Beyond what you gave me when we went traveling."

 

Rupert chuckles. "I've heard of this happening to others. It generally means you have a pre-existing gift." Jessy just gives him a look and he laughs. "Are you ready for your classes next week?" She gives him another look and he laughs again. "Show me what you got?" She opens her ship and walks inside, she's the only one in the building this early, shifts don't start until next week.

 

Next week Jessy walks into a classroom, nodding as she recognizes a number of familiar faces from her other classes.

 

"No friend?"

 

"Had to talk to his advisor, he'll be along in a few minutes." She settles at a table and after bringing out her books brings out a comic collection that has the other students sniggering. "Can't always be serious."

 

"You're going for three degrees?"

 

"Kinda, I've been taking the fashion degree summers at the main school since my business has a branch in New York where I can stay. They don't offer this particular degree here yet anyway. I'm technically three years into it, I usually get nine classes in while I'm at the school. I was able to test out of the majority of my library science classes, I'm actually doing the work."

 

Everybody around her nods. "You're not the first student to have done so." the teacher says as he comes into the room. "It usually happens with employees who are coming back for a degree they need for their job." He looks at her. "My boss is my godfather and he's a nudge." Snickering from the older students.

 

"Did you sign up for your Library Science Masters?'

 

"Yeeeesssssss." She says in the same put upon voice, getting more snickers. The teacher laughs and starts to shut the door, Xander sliding through a second before it closes.

 

"Good talk with your advisor?"

 

"Yes, I'm on track with my woodworking degree and he agrees with the others that I should be done this summer. And somebody's going to be turning the big 25." He looks at her. She rolls her eyes. "Oh god, that would have been another thing for my mother to be wailing about. ..how can she only be 25 if I'm 25?"

 

"Twenty-five and holding?" One of the women behind them snorts.

 

"Yes, for that self-same 25 years when she died a couple years ago." Xander pats her on the shoulder as the teacher starts the class. Back at the House nearly five hours later they eat a late dinner. Rupert comes in with a thick manila envelope for Jessy.

 

"Your library masters?"

 

"Too early, the letters won't go out until around April." Jessy says absently. She looks at the letter. "It's from the fashion school." She opens it and starts reading. "List of degrees that are going to be available at the Miami school starting next fall, the one I'm taking now is going to be available there next fall, as is the history degree. . .but they'd like me to keep working there summers. . .either as a paid employee, waiving the fees for my degrees, or both." She hands everything over to Rupert after she reads it, the others nodding in satisfaction.

 

"Ten bucks says you end up a permanent employee of the school." Andrew chuckles.

 

"Sucker bet."

 

Jessy looks over the list of supplies she's running low on that's going to grow as the others get ready for the girls who are going to be coming to get dresses for their proms.

 

The cars start arriving the next couple of days and Jessy is shaking in her office as the others help their customers.

 

"Easy, you're getting a rush from all the girls ordering here." Rupert says, rubbing circles on her shoulders as he talks her through dropping energy into a crystal he puts around her neck.

 

The list is up to two pages when she goes into Miami with Scott and Jubilee. Their first stop is the bank where she deposits all the money and checks, then he drops them off at the fabric warehouse and heads to pick up supplies maintenance needs for the House.

 

"Doesn't the house already get everything they need in the way of supplies?" Jubilee asks, looking at the truck.

 

"Rupert has some special projects in mind. . .this year's going to be bad for hurricanes so they're getting ready for anything."

 

The woman who'd smiled when she sees Jessy walk in sighs but nods. "Yes, I've heard the same predictions." She grabs a flatbed cart, Jubilee getting a second at her nod. Scott arrives a couple hours later and jumps out to help load the truck.

 

"Did you get everything?" The head of maintenance asks when Scott drives the truck up.

 

"Yes." They start unloading everything. "Okay, who's got the list of what Rupert wanted worked on?"

 

"I do, and yes. . .it's marked by order of importance."

 

"You brought extra." Jenny says as she sees the fabric stuffed into bins.

 

"The warehouse was clearing some of this out. And it means less stuff I have to get after the rush of dresses for graduation."

 

"Was that Mr. Sampson I saw?" Xander asks.

 

"Yes, his girls are getting dresses for their senior prom and will be coming back to get dresses for graduation." Xander leans against the doorframe and laughs.

 

At class he makes a grand gesture of opening his empty wallet. Jessy just leans her head on the table and laughs.

 

"Senior prom?" one of the women behind them chuckles.

 

"Yes, and they're coming back for graduation outfits." He pouts. Everybody joins Jessy in laughing. She'd heard the girls saying they had been saving their money towards the dresses.

 

"College?"

 

"They all got full scholarships to Harvard, thank you god."

 

"Your girls are special."

 

"Yes they are." He says proudly.

 

Jessy puts her book up when Xander nudges her arm and takes up his final exam.

 

"At least this time the power didn't go out." He chuckles as they pull out of the parking lot.

 

"Yes, because we just got it back." Jessy snorts. "And congress is no closer to fixing the power grid than it was last semester." They head to the on-ramp and home.

 

"Are the morons in the government still wailing about the power plant not being shut down?" Joyce asks as she waits for Jessy and Xander to return home.

 

"Yes, they suppose that putting up the power plant as a replacement for a failing one means it can stay running."

 

"How magnaminous of them." Dexter says dryly. "And congress can't understand why the people who voted them into office are disgusted at them."

 

"But there has to be all these power plants nobody needs putting a major strain on the power grid." Rupert mock-bleets. "If we can just find them and shut them down. . ."

 

"It still won't save the grid, it's too old and was never meant to be this big. Calmer heads are trying to redesign and rebuild it but the whiners are getting more attention. . ."

 

"Than people actually doing their jobs." Wesley says as he walks past. "The squeaky wheel does get the grease."

 

A few minutes later the front door opens and Jessy and Xander come in, dropping onto chairs in the foyer. Jessy takes off her shoes, rubbing her feet and taking the slippers Wesley hands her. Rupert hands Jessy another thick envelope.

 

"This one is from the grad school." She says quietly. The others chuckle around her as she takes a deep breath and opens the letter. "I'm in, I can start next fall. They agreed with me putting it off a year since I've got the other two degrees to finish." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "Xander, Jack and his crew are expected in a couple days."

 

"Isn't the letter a little late?"

 

"Not really, they tend to come out as students are graduating. Now I might have got on a waiting list if I hadn't elected to hold off a year to finish my other degrees."

 

"I can't see many librarians in Miami." Joyce says as they walk to the cafeteria.

 

"It's a program through the university center, but with more than one teacher unlike Harmony's degree. Now, if I could have got the degree from another school it would have been a five year degree and I'd already have my masters. But I couldn't get in that program."

 

"Why?"

 

Jessy shrugs. "This degree is geared more to adult students, that's one meant for kids just out of school. The program was probably full."

 

"This one was probably geared so you could finish sooner, You had your basic classes for both degrees and you were able to test out of the others, you possibly couldn't have done that with the other."

 

Jessy looks up from pulling on a new box of supplies in the library when two hands keep the box from falling on her head. "Oh hello Mr. Jones."

 

"Jessy. . .please, it's Ianto." he says in his quiet way. "Is this all you needed?"

 

"Yes. I didn't actually need it but I try to keep two boxes of everything on hand and I just opened the other box." Ianto carries the box up the stairs for her and looks around the library in interest as she puts it away.

 

"You've added to it again." He starts wandering the shelves, bringing out books and settling at a table. Chuckling, she looks at the time and drops a set of keys, a notepad, and pencils by him before heading outside. She knows one of the others will come looking for him in a few hours.

 

"I understand you've been accepted into grad school?" Ianto asks when they're both dragged to eat.

 

"Yes, I'm starting next fall. That gives me another year to finish the business and fashion degrees."

 

"And your fashion degree?"

 

"Should be finished this summer?" Jessy closes her eyes and starts ticking off classes on her fingers. "Yeah, I normally get in at least nine classes over the summer. . .though it doesn't seem like it since I'm working with the teachers. If I don't get them I'll go out again next summer, I've been offered the chance to get more degrees. . .they'll either pay me for my work, comp my fees, or both."

 

"Are you ready to go in the morning?"

 

"Nearly, I was doing one last load of laundry."

 

Peter Burke smiles as he sees the young woman looking decidedly green as she comes out of the airport, waving and calling her name. She nods and heads his way.

 

"Bad flight?"

 

"Turbulence, not as bad as you see on the news but it felt like I was on a bumpy road the entire flight."

 

"Ahhhh yes, I've had flights like that and hated every minute of them." Peter helps her with her bags and they drive off . . .or try to.

 

"Airports are the 9th circle of hell." Jessy mutters when they finally get out of the gridlock.

 

"Amen." They finally make it to the House, Jessy smiling at all the people who greet her by name. Her bags are carried into 'her' home at the House and she's helped to unpack.

 

"Are you getting all the power outages Miami is?" She asks at dinner.

 

"About half. . .for all that you've got another power plant." Sheldon says. "The lab and house isn't affected but there's been a run on generators where they can install them. And solar panels."

 

Jessy tells them about the fool who wanted solar panels not to send power to the grid in her area and everybody either sighs or rolls their eyes. "I know where they got that idea, the money, money, money all for me stupidity pit. Not only would everybody with solar panels have to come to him for their batteries, the state would have to help him out. . .after all they passed the law."

 

"Sounds about right, all he was seeing was profits from selling batteries. You can't stop every building from sending power to the grid, some homes only lease their roofs to the power company. Which he blubbered he didn't know when the bill wasn't voted on. Hawaii was doing it. . .why not them."

 

"Florida, California, and Hawaii would be the states that can do it, New York's solar panels shut down from November to March unless they're uncovered."

 

"And even then you wouldn't get all the power you get in the summer." The others nod.

 

The next day one of the teachers smiles as she looks out the window overlooking the parking lot. "Ms. Michaels just arrived."

 

The other teachers smile. A few minutes later the younger woman walks into the room. All the teachers greet her warmly. Gods bless Maggie's cousin Janice for telling them about her.

 

A week before Jessy was due to sign up for her fall classes and buy her books she slumps into a seat in the foyer of the main house. Rupert chuckles as she leans back in the chair and falls fast asleep. An hour later he nudges her shoulder.

 

Jessy blinks up at him. "Airports are the 9th circle of hell and anybody who brings a baby on a plane where the rest of us have to hear them crying because their ears hurt should be beaten to death."

 

"That good. . .huh?" Larry chuckles as he brings out the totes of mail. Jessy just looks at them with one eye closed. "Turbulence the entire flight out. . .not bad like you see people flying across the airplane but it felt like I was on a bumpy road for the entire flight. I was green by the time I got off the plane then we had to deal with airport traffic when Mr. Burke picked me up."

 

"And crying babies on the flight back?" Joyce chuckles.

 

"Yep. Not even being in first class kept out the noise, the stewardessses were handing out earplugs, I wore my headphones the entire flight. I didn't mind the crowds at the airport because I was home." The mail and her bags are taken to her house as she follows the others to the cafeteria. "Now. . .say what you will about private planes but the flights at the school were a helluva lot better than the bigger planes."

 

"They usually are."

 

After Jessy's got a couple trays of food under her belt she looks over at Rupert.

 

"Did you finish your degree?"

 

"Yes."

 

"So did Xander." Jessy grins.

 

"Can you take your masters classes on the computer?"

 

"Yeah, I'll have to go in periodically to talk to my advisor but I'd already planned on taking them online." Joyce nods in satisfaction. "One more year of night classes Mom, then all your kids will be home after dark."

 

The next couple of days are busy with Jessy sorting through the mail and going to the school with Xander and Harmony for their books.

 

"Did you finish your degree?" One of the students from last year's classes asks as Jessy walks into the room.

 

"Yes, so did Xander." Everybody applauds. The teacher, not one Jessy's had before, looks at them.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 by josette grover

 

"Ms. Michaels tested out of a degree in library science through the school, she's also going for a degree in fashion as well as business."

 

"My companion is going for a dual degree too. . .in woodworking and business. Like me, he's been getting in classes for the other degree by working with the teachers during the summers. But while he's working here. . .I've been taking my classes at the main school in New York since our employer has a branch there I can stay at."

 

"Is your library science just a bachelors?"

 

"Yes, I wanted to get into the program that would have left me with a masters but . . ." Jessy shrugs as Xander comes into the room, handing her a bottle of water and a bag.

 

"Thanks Xander." She twists off the top of the bottle and takes her night pills with the water.

 

"Congratulations on finishing your woodworking degree." Xander grins. "Why such different areas may I ask?"

 

"Our boss has his fingers in a lot of pies, I'm in charge of woodworking there while Jessy is in charge of the library and seamstress shop."

 

"Which explains the other degrees." he chuckles. "Are you going for your masters?"

 

"Yeah, I start next fall, that gives me time to finish this degree."

 

The teacher looks at her throughout the class, he'd taken over this job as a favor since the woman who normally teaches it is on maternity leave. He normally oversees the applications to the university center and he's the one who had arbritarily placed her in the other program, for no other reason that she was an older student. He hadn't done more than look at her age and now was realizing how big a mistake he had made. There had been plenty of room in the degree program and she could have tested out of her classes just as easily in that degree as the one he'd put her in. She'd even have been dealing with the same teachers. But she'd already be in the masters program instead of having to wait three more years. And the student he had placed in that other program had dropped out. Because it was hard. . .even at a first year level.

 

"Awww hell" More than one person moans as the lights go out.

 

"Everybody stay in place. Maintenance was planning on doing work on the generator. They put flashlights in . . ." the teacher's voice trails off as two flashlights, in the hands of Xander and Jessy, light up the room. He finds the flashlight maintenance had put in the room and turns it on.

 

"Why didn't they do it during the summer when there wasn't classes?" A student asks.

 

"Because that would make sense." Somebody snorts in the doorway. "As you can imagine, all classes cancelled until we can get the generator back online."

 

"Do you always have flashlights in your bags." One of the women ask Jessy as they walk the halls.

 

"Ever since the power started going out and congress is no closer to getting the power grid problem fixed than when it started."

 

"Amen." one of the others mutters as they make it outside. All the dusk to dawn lights are on and they shut off the flashlights, heading to the car.

 

"Well, they finally got off their asses and have plans on rebuilding the grid. It will take decades but it will last centuries and with tripling the population in the US." Rupert says to Joyce, Jenny, and Wesley a few days later. "They're breaking it down into smaller bites, each area working on their grid and then connecting it."

 

"Which makes sense." Wesley snorts. "Are the worst areas being worked on first?"

 

"Yes, according to the information online Miami is one of the first to be worked on. They're going to be getting in supplies the rest of the year and start the first of next year. They're going to try to keep from affecting the power grid while they work. But it might happen."

 

"Can't be any worse than what's going on now." Joyce snorts.

 

"Amen." Larry mutters as he walks past with one of the garbage can of scraps for the compost pile. Andrew and Jesse drag the other ones out behind him.

 

"Thank you boys, it wasn't piling up piling up but the cans were getting full." One of the cooks says when they return with the cans, rinsed out with the hose. They grab cookies cooling on the rack and the cooks chuckle as they juggle them in their hands before popping them in their mouths.

 

The next couple of months pass quickly and Jessy is at a fabric warehouse in Miami when one of the classes from the design classes visits. Jessy checks over the list of what she's getting with an employee as Andrew backs the truck up to the loading area, flatbeds start heading out overflowing with fabric or accessories.

 

"Oh lord. . ." one of the girls whispers as they see everything being packed in the back of the truck.

 

"Designers go through a lot of fabric." The teacher says briskly. "The larger houses have it shipped to them but some people prefer to examine the fabric themselves."

 

Jessy grins as she gets in the passenger seat. Andrew gives her a look. "Are we done?"

 

"Yeah, what's up?"

 

"The hurricane changed course. . . again."

 

"Are we in the way?"

 

"Edge of it, we're going to get a lot of wind and rain."

 

"We need to pick up anything?"

 

"No, Rupert tripled the orders the last couple of orders since they were saying this was going to be another bad year. We're good but stores are already getting empty shelves." They drive pass a home improvement store, Jessy sighing as she sees sheets of plywood being carried out the door.

 

"That's what happens when you live in hurricane country." Jessy sighs. "How long until it's supposed to hit?"

 

"Three. . .four days."

 

"Mandatory evacuations?"

 

"Not yet, though I expect roads will be parking lots in the next couple of days as people try to get away from the storm.."

 

"And it will be at least a week until the stations get gas again, if they're not filling cars they're getting it for generators."

 

A crime scene hummer is nearby and Ryan waves down the truck when he recognizes it.

 

"Is the house locking down?" He asks, leaning in Andrew's window.

 

"Yeah, once we're back we'll be in until the hurricane is over. If the storm is as bad as they say, Jessy's school will be closed."

 

Jessy's on the phone. "Yep, they just announced they were shut down through at least next weekend."

 

Rupert sighs in relief as Jessy and Andrew arrive. "They just announced the hurricane changing track after you left."

 

"They're already getting wood to board up windows. Ryan waved us down to make sure we were locking down the house."

 

Rupert nods as maintenance starts emptying the truck. "All the officers will be busy at their other jobs. With the house shut down they can turn their attention to the citizens of the area."

 

The cafeteria is busy making meals over the next couple of days and delivering them to all the houses and apartments. The employees who live in Miami have either evacuated or made their homes ready to ride out the storm, the others taking extra shifts before they head to their own homes.

 

The windows are all shuttered and even with the dome they can hear the wind picking up. Jessy turns on extra lights and gets in a number of classes to get her mind off the weather. They're already showing flooding in Miami and the storm hasn't hit yet.

 

A few days later Jessy opens her front door, the house seriously needs some fresh air and the weather channel says the worst of the storm has passed.

 

"How bad is it?" She asks Andrew who's listening to a radio as he checks on everybody.

 

"Not too bad. some flooding in Miami and we're expecting a few more days of rain as the storm loses strength."

 

"Our rainwater resevoirs?"

 

"Maintenance is checking them now. I think they're full."

 

"If they aren't, they will be if we get much more rain." Jessy says. Harmony comes up behind them and nods. "I see I'm not the only one who needed some air."

 

"I couldn't stand to be in my house anymore. I'm ahead on all my classes, even beyond what we'd be covering while school was closed."

 

Jesse comes running up to them. "Bad news, the lab Horatio and the others work at?" They nod. "Massive damage. . .it's all glass and was totaled. The city government is already pointing fingers at each other trying to parcel out the blame."

 

"I'm not surprised. . .people with sense complained about the design. But they were overruled by people who just had to have it. Because it was cute!" Jessy drawls as they walk into the main building. Joyce overhears them and snickers, nodding. "That's what Horatio said as he called in the news. They figure it will take at least six weeks to salvage what they can and clear the debris. Then rebuild. Meanwhile, they'll be working in a smaller lab across town until it's rebuilt.

 

"I'm sure some fool will blubber that they don't need to rebuild. . .can't they just use the other lab permanently? That way we have aaaaallllllll that insurance money for our pet projects."

 

"And the fools who were praising the lab design out their asses are now trying to back away from it. Oh no. . .they didn't like it. . .they were overruled."

 

Jenny snickers but nods. "Nobody believes their bullshit but they'll pretend they do. And use it as leverage to get what they want this time."

 

"That's petty politics, it happens everywhere." Wesley says as he comes down the hallway. "Rupert, according to all the weather statements it's out of the area completely."

 

"Start taking down the shutters then."

 

Everybody is busy the next couple of days bringing down the shutters on their homes or apartments, letting maintenance deal with the other buildings. The mail starts to be delivered and everybody grabs a handful and starts sorting. Between all of them the multiple containers of mail are soon taken care of and the recycling bin gets a lot of use as people sort through their mail. Jessy holds open her bag and Paige dumps her catalogs into it for her.

 

At the seamstress building she checks over all her purchases, moving a couple items.

 

"Any update on the school?" Xander asks as she comes out of the building. He holds an umbrella over her head.

 

"Still due to reopen next week."

 

"Did you get in as many classes as I did?"

 

"I could have taken my finals if I wanted." Jessy snorts.

 

"Yup, same here. It kept me from worrying about the weather. And. . ." Xander looks at Jessy. "Is it just me or it easy? Shouldn't it be harder the further along you go?"

 

"Neither of you are stupid, even if I did have to talk you into going for your degrees." Rupert says dryly. "And you do own your own businesses. There are more advanced degrees, but neither of you needed them."

 

The teacher sighs as he walks into the classroom. "Please tell me everybody got in extra classes while the school was shut down?"

 

"Or read ahead in the books. Because we can read a syllabus and see what we'll be missing. I take it some of the younger students didn't?"

 

"And are now wailing at having to get in more information in the classes we have left." The teacher sighs. "Did everybody get through. . .?" Nods from the students so he sets to work.

 

Jessy looks at the letter in the mail when she gets home. It's from the fashion school. Joyce is looking at her. "There's going to be a special expo in Vegas after Thanksgiving." She hands over the papers listing vendors and whatnot. "They're offering me a spot."

 

"Go, you'll be out of school then." Rupert says. Jessy nods and starts filling out the paperwork, faxing it back to the school.

 

Finals Jessy is looking over the last of the paperwork for the expo as Xander finishes his test, sliding it back in her purse when he nudges her and walks his test up to the teacher.

 

The others smile as they see Ms. Michaels waiting for them in the hotel lobby, putting their bags aside to go up to their rooms when they're allowed to check in. Jessy's bag is already there and they talk about what they've been working on as they walk to a hotel restaurant for dinner.

 

Jessy looks around the penthouse, then the others. "They comped it for us since they're still cleaning rooms after a bunch of kids got drunk and stupider. They'd hoped to have everything done by now but. . ."

 

"Shit happens." Jessy says. The others nod. "I'm sure they're holding them or their parents feet to the fire for all the damages."

 

"I'm sure they are, they'd just reopened the hotel after a massive renovation."

 

They sign in at the expo the next morning, having walked past a block of rooms being worked on after breakfast. Jessy returns home a couple days later having shipped everything back so she wouldn't be dunned with heavy bag fees. Rupert's lips twitch as he hands over a piece of paper and she sighs but signs up for the trip to universal studios.

 

"We'll be back in time for you to sign up for your last semester of classes."

 

"Did Harmony get her thesis approved?"

 

"She did." Rupert smiles. "Are you working on your thesis?"

 

"On and off. I'm doing it on what I know so it shouldn't be any problem getting it approved."

 

Jessy drives past Horatio's lab and precinct when she goes into Miami, shaking her head at the debris they're still cleaning up. She sees Ryan and pulls the car over, he grins at her.

 

"How was Vegas?"

 

"Noisy. Are they still going to be getting everything cleared away by Christmas?"

 

"Nope, now they figure not until the middle of January. At the earliest. They're still arguing about the lab should have been up to code. . ."

 

"In other words it's not our fault, lets pass the blame to somebody else. In the meantime nothing gets done?" Jessy snorts. Horatio had come up behind them and sighs but nods. "Don't you usually have a truck?"

 

"I'm in town for a doctor's appointment. I saw your names on the list for Universal?"

 

"Ahhh yes, in addition to not wanting to clear out the debris the city doesn't want us working in the other lab. Surely there's enough people there to do all the work."

 

Jessy covers her face and moans. "Dumbassery at it's finest."

 

"Yes, so my entire lab is off untii the first of the year or the city gets enough complaints."

 

"Serves the assholes right. Anyway, I gotta go to the doctor then hit the mall. . .unfortunately." Horatio chuckles. "Joyce make good her threat to check your closet?"

 

"Yes, she says I need to buy more clothes than socks, underwear, and bras." A woman who'd come up behind Horatio snickers. Jessy waves and drives off.

 

A week later Jessy settles in a seat on the bus, firmly closing her eyes to go back to sleep. Jubilee chuckles as she settles down in the row behind her, closing her own eyes for the trip.

 

Horatio looks at Rupert. "What about those who . . ."

 

Rupert chuckles. "We offer two trips for the children who are gone in December." Horatio nods in satisfaction as Ryan settles against the window and tries to sleep. Speed is in front of him with Calleigh while Alexx and her husband are across the aisle, their kids seated in front of them. They're looking around at the bus and the others, too excited about going to universal to go to sleep.

 

They drag back to the House a couple days later, Horatio smiling as he takes off his sunglasses back at his home and listening to the wailing messages on his answering machines from people who either want him to return to work, don't want him to return to work, or are complaining because he was out of the city while he was off.

 

"Morons." Speed says in his house. "Can't have it both ways people." He continues to listen to his messages.

 

"No, you can't punish them when you put them on leave because you didn't think you needed two labs." The mayor snorts as he listens to the whining of people at the last city council meeting of the year.

 

"You mean they're allowed to be gone?" the whining person yelps.

 

"Yes moron, they're not slaves. You decided the lab didn't need to be rebuilt or even the land cleared, You decided the satellite lab could handle everything and when they proved it wasn't the case you're trying to blame them. It ends NOW! The lab will be rebuilt. . .this time up to hurricane standards instead of that pretty glass monstrosity the people who actually had to work there didn't like."

 

"But the previous lab was so boring. . .it wouldn't bring people to the area." he whines. "That's why we went with the glass."

 

"So that's it," Horatio says on the phone the next day. "The lab will be cleared and the lab start to be rebuilt after the first of the year. We're back to close quarters working in the other lab but they're not complaining after having to do both labs work for two weeks."

 

"I bet, your lab does most of the work in the city." Rupert says in his office. "Now, I heard you're having a meeting after Christmas?"

 

"A double meeting, both to talk about the Houses and as the heads of our respective crime labs. I'm flying out to Vegas, so is Mac. They're having a conference in Vegas. The city council is blubbering that I have to be there but the conference was scheduled before the hurricane hit."

 

 

Chapter 5 by josette grover

 

"Are morons still complaining about you being gone for three days?"

 

"Oh yes, how dare we leave the city even though they told us they didn't need us working at the lab. Calmer heads told them to grow the fuck up and get over themselves.

 

Jessy, Xander, and Harmony return from signing up from their classes and buying their books.

 

"Did you sign up for your graduations?"

 

"The two of us did, Harmony will once she gets her masters." Jenny looks at her. "I've got an appointment next summer."

 

She nods in satisfaction as they sort out the supplies they'd picked up at the office supply store, unless it's something they absolutely cannot get anywhere but the school store they buy it there.

 

"Is there anything special beyond the computer programs we need to buy next year?" Wesley asks at a meeting a couple days before Christmas.

 

"It's time to start looking at computers and printers again."

 

"It's been a few years for anything but the laptops." Joyce says. "Server?"

 

"We've got most of the first server left and have two more waiting." Rupert says. "We won't need more for a few years."

 

"Construction. I was looking over Jessy's house and it needs some work."

 

"So do a couple of the guest houses. They all date from the same time."

 

Rupert looks at Horatio. "Are the plans for the lab back on track?"

 

"Yes, the morons who couldn't understand why we couldn't just use the other lab demanded to inspect it and went off whining when they realized how small it was."

 

"Of course they didn't realize half of what you do and thought any area could work?"

 

"Uh-huh. . .or that policemen still walked beats with a nightstick and whistle. They just got the position on the city council because the wanted to lord it over people who actually work for a living. Thank you for taking care of the debris Rupert, landfills were full with debris from the storm."

 

"Yes, I understand they're trying to truck it out of the state now. I can deal with it if you want to tell the council that."

 

"I will."

 

Rupert looks at Gregory. "Do we need to update the medical section?"

 

House shakes his head. "We're good barring anything beyond a mass case of the flu or food poisoning. We've got sixteen beds, enough for any injuries that we can't send on to a hospital."

 

Rupert nods and goes to the next item on the list.

 

Christmas is quiet at the House, presents being opened at the main building and stockings emptied. Jessy puts her bag on the floor beside her seat and starts to get a tray, one of the others giving her a look and pointing at the chair. The others snigger. "Everybody loves you Jessy and you're in pain, relax and let us fuss over you." Joyce says calmly.

 

"Mac." Horatio nods as he looks over his sunglasses at him when he arrives at the hotel next to the convention center.

 

"Horatio, I hear the work for your lab is back on track?"

 

"Yes, after whiny fools in the city council realized we can't all work in a auxiliary lab you'd find at a high school and they couldn't handle all our work anyway they supposed they'd have to allow us back to work and rebuild the lab. After they wailed because they couldn't punish some of us for being out of town for a couple days while we were on leave."

 

"Sounds like the self-centered morons who flock to positions on the city council to try to lord it over people who actually know what they're doing." Mac snorts.

 

Grissom introduces himself to the pair later that night and after they eat the rubber chicken dinner and sit through the boring talks they settle in Mac's room. Mac and Gil look over the new plans, shaking their heads when they see pictures of the old lab. "That was an accident waiting to happen,"

 

"They were looking at it as a way to bring people to Miami, they didn't care if it was practical or not as long as it looked good."

 

Horatio detours past the lab when he returns to Miami, seeing the last of the debris gone and construction started. Some people are still wailing even after seeing the other lab with them crammed together and had been told to grow the fuck up and 'asked' to leave the city council. They're pouting they can't shove their oh so precious opinions down anybody's throat anymore.

 

He recognizes one of the workers and they wave at him.

 

"How long?"

 

"Six months, the city refused to let us run double shifts."

 

"That's going to bite them in the end."

 

"Especially considering they're going to be facing fines in three months for not getting it done on time."

 

Horatio nods. "I've heard complaints from the courts about prisoners not getting quick trials but the state threw out suits since there's nothing the city can do about it with the lab gone."

 

Jessy settles into her seat for the first class of her thank you god last semester of classes.

 

"Think Rupert will start dropping hints about going for MBAs?" Xander nudges her shoulder.

 

"Just as soon as I finish my Library masters, you can't take classes in two masters at the same time." Somebody snickers behind them. She reaches into the rolling cart the others had insisted she start using and digs out her books for the class as the teacher walks in. . .Mr. Sampson. Everybody cheers.

 

"Yes, you lot have me for your last semester of classes." He chuckles. "Mr. Hanson is busy with the new crop of students signing up for their masters."

 

"How's your girls enjoying Harvard?" Somebody asks.

 

"It is cold and people talk funny." Everybody snickers. "Their grades are good. . .but people are weird to want to be out in that white stuff."

 

"They probably say the same thing about people who live in Hurricane land and keep rebuilding instead of getting the hell out of dodge." A man behind them says.

 

"True." He hands out the syllabus and they open their books.

 

"Your friend?" One of the women asks a couple weeks later when Jessy isn't in her usual spot next to Xander.

 

"Off for an expo for work, she'll take this class on the computer."

 

Jessy is sitting down on the edge of her bed at that moment, Paige sitting on the other bed. "Dinner?" She asks.

 

"Yeah." She puts her shoes back on and they walk to the elevator. The next morning they sign into the expo and set to work walking through the tables.

 

A few days later Jessy slides into the back seat of the car Ryan has brought for them, he gets in the front after putting their bags in the trunk.

 

"How was the expo?"

 

"Better than the hotel. Damn hotel had trouble with the water the entire time we were there. . .nothing as mundane as no hot water. . .people were complaining about the water cutting out completely in some rooms."

 

Paige takes up the story. "They wanted to work on it during the night when nobody would be using the water because they were asleep but soon realized. . .they wouldn't be able to get in the rooms because people were asleep."

 

"I swear the hotel must go through light bulbs by the tractor trailer as many as they seemed to be replacing during the expo." Paige then mutters. She looks at Jessy. "They weren't replacing them."

 

"No, I think they were trying to investigate the expo since the nice clothes didn't match hotel maintenance uniforms. Once they saw nothing was going on it stopped. I hope they didn't go as far as bugging rooms. . .I'm sure they enjoyed listening to tv shows and people snoring if they did."

 

"I'm sure they thought they'd find some fantastic crime that would make them the heroes of their bureau. And it blew up in their face." Ryan snorts as they get on the interstate.

 

"Did we miss anything?"

 

"Bunch of fool teenagers who got together to see who could pull the most crimes. Juvenile, annoying shit."

 

"I'd heard a story on the news about kids doing stuff like that." Paige says slowly.

 

"Yeesssss, young punks with too much time on their hands getting on websites like that trying to cause trouble for the dumb cops. If they suceeded they'd be able to put up a tally on the site for everybody else to try to beat in the next city."

 

Jessy moans. "I can just see my mother in the thick of one of those groups."

 

"And half the damn cliques in schools."

 

"That's who they were targeting. Teenagers who haven't grown into the smarts they think they have." Ryan snorts. Paige and Jessy giggle. "Hopefully they'll grow up and realize how fucking lucky they were their families didn't kill them for their stupidity."

 

Jessy snorts this time. "Half their families they came by it honestly. . .all you have to do is look at the morons who swore you didn't need two labs or even two crews. . .then howled when you were out of town while you were off. They get into politics to make everybody see they're special. . .because otherwise if they had to have a normal life they might realize what miserable people they are."

 

At the house they're greeted with hugs and their mail is handed over as their bags are taken of for the laundry. They head to the cafeteria for a good meal.

 

Jessy settles in her bed a couple hours later after she's got back her laundry and gone through her mail. She squirms in her bed a second. . .Rupert had told her they'd replaced her box spring and mattress for her while she was gone. It will take a couple days to get used to this new one she decides as she picks up her book from the nightstand drawer and starts to read another chapter in an old Anne McCaffrey novel. She'll have to make a trip to the bookstore next week she thinks as she marks her place and turns off the light.

 

The next afternoon finds her doing inventory in her seamstress building to get ready for the girls that will start descending on the building for their prom dresses.

 

The other students smile when Jessy walks into the room with Xander.

 

"Expo?"

 

"One of three I normally attend for the seamstress shop. Between that, the textbook expos, and others I'm usually gone six, seven weekends a year."

 

"Comicon." Xander coughs. "Yes, those too. Our boss has a list of expos for the year that we can sign up for. Some the people actually doing the job attend, but some are just go and bring us back information."

 

In the doorway Mr. Sampson nods as he comes into the room. He hands out tests and the sound of papers and pencils scratching is the only thing heard for the next few minutes.

 

A few days later Jessy and Andrew get in the truck, driving into Miami and stopping at the mall first. The bookstore is the first stop and the cart is soon full of books, Andrew running the bags out to the truck and coming back for the second load.

 

It takes three trips out but Andrew joins Jessy at the video store where she's filling the cart again. The manager of the store is used to them running multiple bags out to the truck and Jessy gets something to eat at the food court while Andrew runs to an electronics store. He runs the cart out three times and slides into the seat across from Jessy.

 

"Are we making two days of this?"

 

"Yep. I already called the motel. We'll stop to the comic book store and a couple other places today and then hit the fabric warehouse tomorrow."

 

The owner of the comic book store chuckles as he sees the pair walk in the door, holding up a hand bringing out boxes of their regular comics he'd put aside for them. They grin and start looking through the racks and boxes.

 

Andrew comes in with pizzas and they talk on Jessy's room after they get checked in, talking about what Jessy has to buy at the fabric warehouse before they head back to the House.

 

Rupert looks at the boxes and bags being taken into the main building the following day. Jessy drops the receipts on Larry's desk and leans against the wall, closing her eyes and moaning theatrically.

 

"Bad night?" Rupert chuckles.

 

"Some damn fool pissass punk policeman pounding on doors at the motel because he thought he was the man when a group of kids used their parents credit card to rent a room for a party. He was so sure he'd find more people if he just checked the other rooms. Surprise, surprise. . .all he found was people actually sleeping. Who weren't happy to be woke up by him. His supervisor was cussing him out when I slammed the door in his face."

 

"There's two type of officers, those who join the department because they actually want to help the public and those who do it for the power. He was one of the second." Horatio says from the doorway. "I brought out copies of our newest books."

 

"Thank you Horatio, I'll put them with the others in the library."

 

"Speaking of which, I'm expanding it next year."

 

"Okay." Jessy blinks. "Fuck, I hate getting woke up in the middle of the night. I'm groggy the rest of the damn day." Horatio chuckles as she looks at them.

 

"Did you get all the books on your list?" Joyce asks at dinner.

 

"And then some, same with the music and DVDS. I'll put in an order for audio books later. All the ones at the stores are abridged and they cut out the good parts."

 

Jessy looks around the seamstress building in satisfaction, everything is ready for the girls who will be arriving shortly.

 

The next week is midterms already and Jessy shakes her head as she feels a pang a moment that this is going to be the last time she sits in a classroom waiing for Xander to finish his midterms. Xander looks at her and chuckles a second.

 

"Feeling a little homesick about this being our last midterms for this degree?" He asks before he gets up.

 

"Until I realized it's our last midterms for this degree." Behind them one of the others snickers.

 

Jessy drops most of her mail into the recycling bin when she returns to the House. "Yeah . ..right." she snorts as she opens a letter from the police department. "I hope your supervisor kicks your damn fool head right off for this latest bit of stupidity." Joyce looks at her then at the letter.

 

"Fucking asshole wrote a half-assed apology for banging on all the doors of the rooms he knew were occupied trying to find more kids partying and finding all of us asleep. It was our fault for choosing that hotel. . .he was forced to do that."

 

"Bullshit. . .he was looking for the rush of power and he got his ass handed to him. Now he's sulking."

 

That turns out to be the truth as he's yelled at by his boss and IA the next couple of days as the department gets complaints. The motel threatens to sue and he gulps. . .realizing the precinct isn't going to be taking his side. Maybe he shouldn't have pulled that. . the other rooms had been dark when they'd arrived. . .he could tell people had been sleeping. His father had told him he'd pull something stupid and get his ass handed to him for it. How could he have been right? Mommy had told him he was special and he could do whatever he wanted. Other people were just jealous.

 

Rupert talks to Jessy after the rush of students getting their graduation dresses has eased. he leaves her with magazines and whatnot. Looking through her fabric she makes another list of what she'll need and works on plans for a second shop. Rupert nods at all her suggestions and starts making plans.

 

Xander looks at her as she grumbles about having to buy a dress for their graduation. "New building?"

 

"Yes, Rupert's getting into crossdressing."

Chapter 6 by josette grover

 

He pulls off the road, lays his head on the steering wheel. . . and just laughs. "I know you don't mean literally." he asks after the explosion of hilarity. Despite his fascination with tweed, Rupert is all man.

 

"No, he's planning on opening a second building for people who crossdress for their jobs or in their private lives. It's big business and some of those outfits are a lot of money. There's a store here in town that's going to put out flyers once ours is up and running. I'm going to be ordering more high-end stuff than I normally do.

 

Xander nods. "If you get an order for that kind of outfit you go into town and buy for that."

 

"Most parents don't come to a seamstress to buy that kind of dress for their kids, they go couture there."

 

"And you might get more orders if people see you have more fabric selections available."

 

"Yes, I'm working on some drawings for adult outfits."

 

Joyce looks at Jessy when they return to the House. "Yes, I got an outfit for graduation. Not a dress. . .a good pair of black slacks and a dress shirt. . .this way the skirt doesn't get tangled with the cane." Joyce nods in satisfaction. "This way it doesn't just sit in your closet."

 

Graduation comes and goes, Jessy smiling and shaking hands with all her teachers. She's introduced to the teachers who are part of the textiles degrees and they talk for several minutes.

 

"Feel weird to be driving away for the last time?" Xander asks. Jessy rolls her eyes and Peter chuckles from the back seat, he'd been hired by the school to take pictures of the ceremony.

 

"We'll be back. . .I know damn good and well Rupert is talking to you about going for an MBA, he's been dropping hints to me too. But I have to finish my Library masters first." Her eyes grow dark a second.

 

"Thinking of your parents?" Xander asks as they pull onto the interstate.

 

"Yeah, Dad would be horrified I'd got a business degree while my mother wailed that I embarrassed her by graduating at nearly 26. Even if I started late and got three degrees in four years. Not that she would have wanted me to do anything so common as to get a college degree. . .I didn't need one if I was just going to be a wife and mother Which is all she wanted. . .my grandparents had some sense and had wanted me to get a business degree."

 

"Which is why Rupert wanted you to get a business degree." Peter chuckles in the back seat.

 

"Did you finish your masters?"

 

"Yes, I need to go out this summer to present my thesis." Peter says.

 

Jessy hangs up her cap and gown in the closet when she gets back home, looking at the pictures of her parents sadly for a second. They might have been fools but they were her parents and should have been there for her graduation.

 

"Are you going back out to New York?" Larry asks as she walk into the cafeteria. He gets up and starts filling a tray for her.

 

"Yeah, next week. I'm going to be in New York for comicon and will send everything back before I had to the House."

 

Erik shakes his head when he sees Jessy drooping on a bench in the hotel lobby. "Is this everything?"

 

"Yes, I've taken to leaving some clothes at the House since Peter and Neal told me that that's my house." Erik chuckles and helps her into the car, stopping at a grocery store on the way to the house so Jessy can pick up some groceries.

 

"I understand Rupert is working on your home at the Miami house." Peter asks when she joins everybody in the cafeteria.

 

"Yes, and I already told him I would hurt him if he got rid of my clawfoot tub. A garden tub is okay but you can't soak in them like you can a clawfoot."

 

"They do have soaking tubs." Elle chuckles.

 

"As long as it's not one of those walk in tubs they advertise. . .they don't look at all comfortable. For all they say you can soak in them."

 

"No, you'd be sitting up.. . not laying down." Somebody says from the next table.

 

"New bed?" Peter chuckles.

 

"He got me a new mattress and box spring while I was at an expo a couple months ago. I'd just beat the old ones into submission." she grumbles. Chuckles from around her.

 

She looks over at Peter Venkman, one of the House's psychologists and Resident Ghostbuster. Though the way the others were looking around once they'd realized where he'd been going they might be joining the House in one fashion or another. She'd already told Peter and Neal that if they do join, Ray was taking over the library here. "Is being happy and sad about graduating normal?"

 

"Yes, the school has been part of your life for four years even if you did have to be talked into going for a degree. We still have a soft spot for Columbia even with being kicked out. We might not like all the people who work there. . .Yeager." He coughs. The others snicker. "But we'll always consider it home in a way. Same with the firehouse. Even if we've expanded into new locations and new teams."

 

A couple days later Jessy arrives at the textiles school for their graduation ceremony, a few of the teachers laughing as they listen to her grumbling about having to get dressed up again. The graduation ceremony is thankfully brief, though there's some mumbling when Jessy is introduced and the circumstances of how she got her degree is told.

 

A month later Jessy slumps into a seat on the bus the teachers are using for the expo, The teachers chuckle.

 

"Busy at work?"

 

"Important fancy ass charity thing. . .it went on for hours." The teachers chuckle and nod, they're familiar with those events. "Bunch of people blathering about how important they think they are?"

 

"Yes, thankfully I wasable to ignore most of them when they realized I didn't live in the area and had no interest in their grandiose plans to change things to suit them." The teachers snicker and nod. "I curled up in a corner and worked on my thesis, I did get to meet a few people who actually had brains and weren't interested in them either." Snickering from the others.

 

In mid September Jessy drops into the back seat of the car MacGyver is driving as he puts her bags in the trunk.

 

"Rough flight?" The flight was late so something had to have happened.

 

"Yeeessssss, the flight was delayed an hour by some absolute idiot who couldn't get it through her head she wasn't going to be upgraded to first class no matter how big a fuss she made. She was going to sue. . .didn't they know who she was?" MacGyver sighs. "Yeah, I was ssssssooooo glad that I didn't have to deal with the bitch. . .who was already three sheets to the wind. There was no way they were going to let her on the plane, let alone upgrade her to first class."

 

"Not if she was that inebriated." MacGyver agrees as they pull out ofthe parking lot. . .or try to anyway but nothing is moving. His phone buzzes and Jessy snatches it. "Hello?"

 

"Oh thank god Jessy, we were worried. MacGyver just said your plane was late but couldn't give us any information." Joyce says at the House, waving off hands trying to grab the phone. She listens and hangs up several minutes later. The others look at her. "Her plane was delayed an hour in New York by some woman trying to get upgraded to first class who was several sheets to the wind. Now they're stuck in the parking lot, it's bumper to bumper but nobody's moving."

 

"Sounds about right for airports."

 

A couple hours later Horatio grins as he waves Angus and Jessy through the gates, putting her bags on the golf cart. Jessy is hugged by everybody when they arrive at the main house. Jessy grabs one bag before it can head off to her home and. . .looking inside, shoves it at Rupert. "I was drawing constantly. I have tons of clothing designs. The others at the school spent hours helping me come up with patterns. The ones with the red dot on the front haven't been looked at by them yet. They're also outfits for the other building." He nods and puts them on his desk. Jessy moans at the containers of mail. "Anything I need to worry about?"

 

"Nope, it's all junk or whatnot."

 

"Thank god for junk mail." Jessy mutters as they walk to the cafeteria. "I can toss most of it in the recycling bin without even having to open it." Everybody in earshot sniggers and nods.

 

"Diploma?" Joyce asks dryly.

 

"In the bag with the sketchbooks. That way it stayed flat."

 

Jessy shakes her head as Rupert walks her through the changes to her home. At least her clawfoot tub is still there she thinks as she sinks into the steaming hot water. Looking around the room she shakes her head. The toilet has been moved to it's own area now so she can't sit stuff on the closed lid but she's got a folding table for that and a cupboard filled with towels and whatnot. Across the room next to the toilet but separated by a half way is a large shower with all the bells and whistles. Her tub isn't by the wall anymore, there's now a long counter with two sinks, a large mirror and on either end two cabinets for storage. She'd looked through them and aside from towels and washclothes they're filled with various soaps and other bath stuff. . .both what they make and what's commercially available. Her fingers and toes are prunes when she pulls the drain, knowing the water is going to a septic unit to be cleansed and used again.

 

Sighing she grabs a tub of the mail when she can't fall asleep, sorting through everything before wandering through her now fifteen floor home. Though it only looks two floors from the outside. She does like the touch of being able to look out from any window on the other floors she thinks as she looks at the clock. Bundling the containers together she finds Xander chuckling at the door. "Couldn't sleep?" He asks as he lifts them onto his shoulder.

 

"No, I finally gave up after a couple hours laying in bed."

 

"Jessy, tell me you tried to sleep." Joyce moans when Xander brings in the containers. They get shoved back into the closet to be used for the next member who's going to be gone for a while.

 

"Yes, for two hours then I said screw it." Jessy pours herself a mug of coffee. "Any expos I need to worry about? Or should I say any in Portland I can go along to and visit Powell's on Rupert's dime?" Xander leans against the wall cackling. Larry's laughing and even Joyce's lips are twitching as she tries not to laugh. Everybody knows if Jessy wants to go to Powell's she'll just hop on a plane or train and go. . . on her own dime.

 

After breakfast Jessy walks to the new seamstress building, looking at all the new space and making a second list of what to order. Getting on the computer she puts in the order and hands it to Larry, turning her attention to finishing the designs, coloring them, and making patterns.

 

Jessy comes back from Miami with her books and supplies for her classes, putting them in her new library. Rupert nods in satisfaction as he looks everything over.

 

"When do your classes start?"

 

"Next week for the online students."

 

"Here, look this over. It's some of the advertising I plan on dropping off to the crossdressing store in town.

 

"Make a note that if they want fittings. ..which they will with the high-end stuff they'll want to either be wearing or bring their special undergarments. That way we know everything fits." Rupert nods and makes a note on the screen. "Including shoes." He makes another note. "I'll have a range of sizes for my patterns but if they need a special size it will be extra."

 

The new supplies start arriving in early October and Jessy is busy making samples when she's not taking classes. She goes to her rheumatologist one day and he's all apologetic when he puts her back on the pills that had helped her before.

 

"Why take you off in the first place?" Xander asks at dinner.

 

"Ohhh, there was a newbie at the office who didn't think we needed the drugs. . .if we can just be weaned off them we'll have to be happier and healthier. Until the labs showed everybody was worse off without them."

 

Everybody turns to look at House.

 

"Yes, there are people that damn foolish out there. My former boss was one of them, she didn't like me taking vicodin for my leg. For people who are suposed to be helping their patents, they just want the power. If he could get what he wanted there, he could turn it into the next rung on the ladder. Fucking morons run off blubbering when their power games don't get them what they want." Everybody nods and sighs.

 

"Talk to your advisor?" Harmony asks a few days later.

 

"Yes, and he doesn't feel that I'll have any problems with my thesis since I'm actually doing the work." Harmony chuckles and nods.

 

A few days into November Jessy blinks as she looks at a letter and shoves it into Rupert's hands. "Money from Dad's investments. . .how much more money did he have squirreled away?"

 

"You would have been too young to understand it but. . ."

 

"Dad was being investigated by the FBI? Yeah, Peter told me when we were building the New York House."

 

"No, before that time. He'd been investigated before all all the charges were dropped when the case was found to be without merit. After that your father took to diversifying, your mother was furious when he took a lot of their cash assets away. At the time I assumed your father was squirreling it away for when he took off after leaving your mother."

 

"Yeah, it sure the hell wasn't a love match. Mom's connections weren't good enough for him anymore."

 

"He . . .he knew your mother would have taken care of you. If. . .if he'd left." He pats her shoulder.

 

"Bullshit. . .my mother couldn't take care of herself. If she couldn't have found a man to take care of her. . .which wasn't likely with a daughter who had chronic medical needs. She'd have killed herself in some grand fashion that she thought would have made people weep over her. He knew you would have taken care of me Rupert. You're more my real parent than they ever were. Now, changing the topic before I turn into one of those fool morose girls you see dressed all in black. . .Did you drop off the fliers at the store?"

 

"Yes, and people are already talking. I'm thinking of putting up a website in the future." Jessy deposits the cashier's check in her account when she goes into town, stopping at a few stores before heading home.

 

Jessy explores the new floors of her house over the next few days. She hadn't realized she had so much stuff and makes lists of stuff she's still going to have to get.

 

"Are you going into Miami soon?"

 

"Yeah, I've got a list of stuff from the fabric store I need to get. I need to get some stuff from the mall. . .in addition to our normal stuff. And stop to the comic book store, they're holding an author visit in a couple days. We can spend a couple days in Miami."

 

Andrew nods in satisfaction. "I'd heard about the visit too. I'm not a fan of his work.. ."

 

"But if we get stuff signed. . ." They both nod.

 

The owner of the motel smiles as he sees a familiar truck enter the parking lot. Jessy slides out the passenger door and limps into the office.

 

"I'm sorry for making you come in to reserve your rooms Ms. Michaels. After the party we changed our policy about taking reservations over the phone. . .to keep kids from being able to take their parents credit cartds and renting a motel or hotel room."

 

"Which won't stop their parents from renting one for them." Jessy snorts as she fills out the paperwork.

 

"No, but we can sue the parents for their children's misbehavior if they damage the room. And thank you for coming back after the officer pulled his Dirty Harry routine."

 

"Not your fault he's an idiot and thought this would give him the boost he needed up the promotion ladder. Because he couldn't fucking wait." The manager grins and hands her the paperwork before she limps back to the truck, the damn rain is making her knees ache even with the medicine.

 

"Comic book store first?"

 

"Yeah."

 

The store manager smiles as he sees them walk in, bringing out the boxes of comics and supplies. The people who'd been setting up the table look on as the totals are run up and they don't even flinch, putting everything in the truck before they come back in and start looking through the shelves and boxes of old comics.

 

A couple days later Jessy and Andrew pull up by her seamstress buildings, maintenance bringing stuff out of the back of the truck. Everything is soon sorted out and put away. Everything else is soon sorted out and Jessy drops the receipts on Larry's desk. Heading to the storerooms she fills her bag with stuff, writing everything down before getting on the golf cart that Dexter's driving with her stuff.

 

"Did you sign up for next semester's classes?" Rupert asks at dinner.

 

"Yes, got my books and other supplies. My advisor approved my thesis. . ." Rupert nods in satisfaction. Xander comes into the room. "Got that last piece of furniture done Rupert, once the second coat of varnish is on it can be sent off."

 

"Thank you Xander. I know that emergency order delayed your other projects but they're old friends."

 

The owner of the 'speciality' store in Miami looks around the seamstress shop in satisfaction. "Thank you for opening this. . .I know my clients will love being able to buy clothes that actually fit."

 

Jessy mumbles rude comments as Joyce drags her to a shoestore and actually makes her select more than one pair of the cheapest shoes. "Yes, you need more than one pair of shoes at a time. It won't turn you into those fools you see on tv with a whole closet full of shoes."

 

"No, that was my mother." Jessy snorts. "She had fifteen pairs of shoes still in the box when she went to prison." Joyce sighs and pats her shoulder. They take the shoes to the counter and check out.

 

"What did you do with all her clothes?"

 

"The second she was convicted we boxed everything up and took it to consignment stores. The money went into her account at the prison."

 

"Did you have. . ."

 

"Rupert asked the judge what we could do with her stuff. The judge was of the opinion it could be burned in front of her. Just her personal belongings. . .anything that Dad owned went to me in the will."

 

Joyce nods as they pull up in front of a Greek restaurant in Miami. "Did your mother have a fit?"

 

"Oh gods yes, the fool actually figured they'd give her a second cell just for her clothes. She was horrified she'd have to wear the same clothes as the rest of the convicts. She sued to make me buy her a whole new wardrobe around the same time she brought tha new car. The judge had to funning her that she was going to be there the rest of her life. . .right?" Joyce rolls her eyes. She'd never met the woman and she loathes the fool.

 

"Do you have any relatives on your mother's side of the family? She asks after they've been shown to a table.

 

"No, from what I was able to find out about them they died shortly after my parents were married." Jessy sighs. "Under mysterious circumstances." Joyce shakes her head and pats Jessy's hand before they order.

 

Rupert gets off the phone at the House a couple days later and looks at the wall. "Larry, can you call the others?"

 

Joyce, Jenny, and Wesley appear a few minutes later. Rupert takes off his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. Wesley chuckles as Larry brings him in a cup of tea. . .and doctors it with the flask in his desk the children pretend they don't know about.

 

Chapter 7 by josette grover

 

"Thank you my boy, the state government is full of morons. They are giving us more land around us .. .in return for putting up a bank, movie theater, mall, and warehouse club."

 

"For gods sake . . .why?"

 

"We have all those employees at the commerical farm and power plant. . .don't they need a bank?"

 

"Yes. . that's why they just drive ten minutes into town and go to the bank." Wesley snorts.

 

"As I told the fool. Of course we'll want the other stuff too. .. won't we? He's going to talk to the mayor next because I told him no. . .I'm sure the little fool will be blubbering that he didn't know we didn't need any of this. . .he was just looking for a way to make a name for himself."

 

"If you have all this of course you'll be interested in putting up houses around us." Jenny snorts. They walk out of the office, finding the decorations for the main house being brought out. Unliike most of Florida all the buildings have full basements and are used for storage for seasonal items.

 

The decorations start going up and everybody who's going home for the holidays or visiting relations leave. A grumbling Xander is one of the ones heading off, he'll be spending a couple weeks in Denver at the House there as well as going over his inheritence.

 

A group goes into Miami a week before Christmas, everybody coming back loaded down with bags.

 

"Asshole to elbow?" Joyce asks as they troop into the cafeteria.

 

"Oh yes, as usual this close to the holiday. I'm not even going into town until after New Years."

 

"Worse spring break, then they'd all be getting drunk and stupider." Ryan says sourly. Horatio and Speed chuckle. "And trying to get out of tickets by telling everybody how important their parents think they are."

 

"Amen. While those who have the real power don't talk about it."

 

Jessy limps into the second seamstress building a couple days before Christmas. It's turned cold for December . . .in the mid-sixties. A couple of people are in the building and Jessy brings out fabric and other supplies from the now linked back rooms. She'd doubled her usual orders. . .with the back rooms expanded there's no lack of room for everything.

 

Christmas is noisy at the house and after dinner people head to the home theater to watch Christmas movies. Jessy snorts and settles in a seat in the house with a book while she lets dinner settle for a few hours.

 

Some of the others are in the game room, playing video games, board games, or some of the games in the room. Oz wanders through with his guitar and starts playing.

 

Jessy settles in the library for the first day of her second semester of classes. She has to admit she might miss classes at the school a bit but she doesn't miss the constant power interruptions. Xander chuckles as he walks behind her and drops an armful of stuff on the table next to her.

 

"New expos Rupert wants you to look at along with some places in the area that you can visit. And yes, that includes Powell's in Seattle." He laughs as he blows a raspberry against her neck, getting swore and swatted at then laughs as he heads off.

 

"Xander." Wesley sighs.

 

"Jessy's parents and RA made her grow up too soon." He says quietly. "By annoying her she's acting like the kid she is." Rupert nods behind them. "Thank you Xander, I'd like her to live a little too."

 

"Did they ever get the matter of all the fines straightened out for the lab?" Xander asks, looking past Rupert.

 

"Oh yes, the fools on the city council were blubbering they didn't know they'd be held responsible for the lab not coming in on time and under budget." Speed snorts as he walks past. "He was just trying to save money. . ..he couldn't use the excuse of bothering neighbors for not having a second shift. . .every building around the lab empties at five."

 

"They were just trying to shove their weight around." Wesley sighs. Speed nods. "The equipment is going in now and they figure on everybody being back at the end of the month. Now. . .that won't mean everything's over. . the lab took the opportunity to get new equipment. . ."

 

"And it will be full of bugs . . .which makes getting settled in and finding what the city cut corners on to save their almight budget even worse?" Jessy snorts from the doorway. "The server is down at the school, there's a note saying it will be back up tomorrow."

 

"Good, I was going to tell you it's time for a break. You've got at least three months to get in all your classes." Rupert wraps an arm over her shoulders.

 

"I've heard rumors that this is going to be a bad year."

 

"I've heard the same rumors. That's why I'm getting in extra supplies again." Rupert looks at Speed.

 

"The city's getting in supplies too. The new building is beyond hurricane code so we're going to be a place for the state to store supplies."

 

"I saw a lot of complaints about other precincts?" Jessy asks, looking back at him as they walk to the main house.

 

"Yes, with the loss of our lab the city was forced to inspect all the buildings. Surprise, surprise. . .corners were cut a lot when it came to hurricane standards."

 

"Of course. . .this way the money can go to better projects." Jessy mock-chirps. "Then something like the lab happens and people are busy blubbering they didn't mean for it to happen." Everybody sighs but nods. Jesse is putting the empty mail containers in the closet and Jessy throws her mail in her shoulder bag, getting nodded at a couple packages on the floor.

 

"The people who go into politics are the last people that should be allowed power." One of the cooks snorts as they enter the cafeteria. Everybody in earshot laughs and nods.

 

"Jessy, trip into Miami?"

 

"In a couple weeks. Some fool group is picketing the mall for some damn useless reason nobody . ..even them understands. But they're parents and saving our souls." Jessy hisses. "This way we miss the fools."

 

"Yeeesssss, we got briefed on them the other day. They can't figure out why they're picketing either."

 

"The ones briefing you or the ones doing the picketing?" One of the cooks snorts.

 

"Both."

 

"Sounds about right."

 

A couple weeks later the truck pulls into a parking space, Jessy putting up the handicapped placard before sliding out of the passenger seat. A woman gives Andrew a look but subsides when she sees Jessy coming around the side of the truck. He looks at Jessy then the woman and back.

 

"Fools who try to find fault with people having handicapped placards. . . because they're miserable old bats. That's why I always park in a regular spot if at all possible. I put up my placard anyway because they complain if I don't."

 

"Damned if you do, damned if you don't."

 

"Exactly."

 

"How are you coming on your classes?"

 

"Good, I'm trying not to get them in too soon, Rupert would just give me the look. But I'm going to be gone for a couple weeks this semester."

 

"The more you get done now the less you have to do when you get back." Andrew nods as he opens the door for Jessy.

 

The bookstore owner grins as his favorite pair of customers come in and start wandering the aisles, filling the cart multiple times. The employees start boxing and bagging everything up and they head off to do the rest of the shopping, Andrew driving around to the loading dock a couple hours later and they put everything in the truck. A few more stops. . .including a late dinner and they arrive back at the house at nearly midnight. Locking up the truck they head to their home or apartment, everything can be taken care of tomorrow.

 

"Jessy, can I talk you into getting a different phone?" Jenny asks a couple days later.

 

"Why? I don't use the one I have now enough to say I need a phone. That's why I went prepaid. Lemme guess, the contracts are up?"

 

"Nearly up. You could get a smartphone to accept checks."

 

"Wouldn't work for those who pay in cash. And I get the bulk of my business twice a year. Even with the second building opening it wouldn't be worth it. I get a check or cash I can run into town."

 

"Just like the rest of the businesses." Jenny chuckles. "Which is why the state wanting to put up a bank nearby crashed and burned. They'd still like to put up a movie theater though, along with a mall and warehouse store." Jessy rolls her eyes. "Yes, they'll soon learn. You put those type of businesses in good traffic areas. We're out of the way for a reason."

 

"I could see them trying to put up homes and apartments in the area then trying to move us off as undesirables." Jessy snorts. "I saw it aaaaaalllllll the time in California, urban renewal at it's worst because 'oh my god, we can't have those type of people living here."

 

Jenny sighs but nods.

 

The next day everybody is on deck as the first truck of supplies arrives. Everybody should be shocked at how much more room they have in the stockrooms even with getting extra but they just shrug. It's something they've become used to.

 

A couple weeks later an employee at a hotel/casino in Vegas apologizes as he leads Jessy and Illyana to a suite. The room Jessy and Illyana should have been staying in hadn't been available due to water damage. Jessy slumps on a couch and looks around. "Two bedrooms, two baths, a sitting area, and a kitchen. Swanky." Illyana says.

 

"A swanky price too. . .you can tell they didn't want to give it to us for the price we'd already paid for the room." Jessy looks around again. "I gotta look at the paperwork when we return to Miami, I think this is one of the ventures my father invested in before he died."

 

The dinner is lively, Jessy wasn't the only one to have to move to another area.

 

"Any idea what happened?"

 

"Pipe cracked in a wall. . .by the time they found it a lot of rooms were affected. Carpeting tore up, walls tore out. . .stuff like that."

 

"How was the suite?" Illyana had called to let them know they'd been upgraded. Jessy's sour look makes Xander chuckle. "Not worth the money they would have charged you for it?"

 

"Exactly. It's meant for business meetings." Wesley nods. Jessy sorts through her mail, tossing part of it into the recycling bin without opening.

 

"Did you ship everything back?"

 

"Yeah. . .according to my last check the shipping numbers say they'll be in Miami in the morning."

 

"Oh thank god I am back." Jessy fills a tray and sits down to eat. "Somebody want to tell me why the bigger the name on the restaurant. .."

 

"The worse the food?" One of the cooks chuckles. "sounds about right. You wouldn't see our food in a restaurant unless it was one of those home cooking places. And you couldn't come back multiple times unless it was one of those all you can eat buffets."

 

"How are you in your classes?"

 

"Got my midterms in before we left. I'll have my finals done after I get back from Seattle."

 

Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

"I hear there was some problems at the hotel?" Jenny asks dryly.

 

"The rooms or that fool ass woman who was running around with the police trying to claim she'd been attacked? Stupid bitch was drunk off her ass and escorted out of the hotel twice before we checked in. She went to three different hotel rooms claiming this is where she'd been attacked. . .two of them were rooms that were being worked on for water damage and the third had been empty before the expo. The hotel had her arrested. . .dumb bitch was blubbering about how they should have given her money to go away, not have her arrested!"

 

"Which is why I leave the hotel industry to calmer heads, I'd have beat the little fool."

 

"What happened to the hotel rooms?"

 

"Pipe cracked in the wall. . . by the time somebody realized the wall and carpet were wet it had went down multiple floors. And you know Vegas, rather than shut down the hotel to inspect the other pipes and do the work they're trying to keep the hotel open, inspect the pipes at night, and work on the rooms during the day."

 

Over the next couple of days Jessy sorts through everything she brought home from Vegas. The sky darkens and she pauses her class to check the windows before finishing it. Looking at the time she walks into the main house for lunch.

 

Girls and their mothers start arriving at the seamstress shop, more expensive dresses being selected when they see the new fabrics available. Checking her supplies after the rush is over she sends in her order and getting in a truck drives into town to deposit everything then runs into Miami.

 

"Have you ever had a check not clear?" One of the clerks at the fabric warehouse asks.

 

"Nope, not after they see the signs we have all over saying if your check doesn't clear I enlarge it and plaster it all over the walls so everybody knows what kind of fool you are. A lot of women who'd been sneering before gulped and put their checkbooks away."

 

The manager leans against the counter and cackles. "Oh god, the embarrassment would be horrible for them."

 

"Yep, they'd never be able to hold their heads up around their peers again. Who already know what kind of miserable fools they are."

 

The manager is laughing so hard she can't speak, she just nods. The receipt prints out as Dexter comes around the back with the truck, everybody getting everything in before they take off.

 

"She wasn't taught that in business school."

 

"Nope, she learned that by living in that environment."

 

"Should I expect a wailing Rupert when he gets the credit card statement?" Jenny snickers when Jessy slumps into a seat at the main house after returning from Seattle. She hands her her mail and it goes in the bag. If it were anything important, Jenny would have said something.

 

"If he hasn't yet, he won't now." Jessy snorts. "Oh gods, I ache. Seattle is as wet and cold as they complain." She looks out the window. "I can say the same for Miami though."

 

The others chuckle but nod. "At least with all this rain the crops should be good."

 

"Yes, thank god we don't have to deal with the droughts and wildfires they did in California." Dexter looks at her.

 

"No. . .I didn't live in an area bothered by fires. . .thank you god. But I saw the fires on the news." Jessy tries to get up and Dexter lifts her out of the chair, carrying her to the cafeteria. Xander sniggers behind them as he comes back from his apartment.

 

Rupert comes in and drops two envelopes in front of both of them, staring at them pointedly. They open the envelopes and look at him. "You can sign up for pre-admittance, they are through your school and Mr. Sampson will be your advisor."

 

Everybody sniggers as they fill out the paperwork, Rupert handing them two stamps and two checks already made out. Jesse chuckles as he drops them in the outside box, everybody had been wondering how long it would take Rupert to put his foot down.

 

Rupert shakes his head as he watches the boxes being unloaded a few days later.

 

"New stuff coming out, stuff being sold at a loss because it wasn't selling ... Books from Powells and other stuff. Oh. . .I saw Amanda in Seattle."

 

"Oh dear lord. What did she want?"

 

"She just looked at me, laughed, and said she had a few things to teach me when I have the time."

 

"That's what I was afraid of." Rupert ignores the laughter from the others,

 

Sam Winchester looks up from the motor of his beloved Impala when a shadow falls over him. "Horatio." He says calmly as he turns his attention back to the car. There's another man with him but since the bastard hasn't bothered to introduce himself why should he be polite?

 

"The officer that. . ."

 

"Murdered my father and brother.'

 

"It was an accident." The other man starts to bluster.

 

"Bullcrap. The fucking fool came in shooting like it was the old west and was stunned when he found the garage really was a garage and not a drug den. Is the little fool still bleating he didn't know he had the wrong address?"

 

"Yes, the city is still investigating how the numbers got transposed. He does feel sorry about what happened."

 

"If the little bastard hadn't been all John Wayne going into the garage he might have thought a second and realized he had the wrong building. I might only be a civilian. . .but I doubt they were taught that at the police academy."

 

"No it's not."

 

"The only thing the bastard feels sorry about is everybody knows what kind of fool he is and he's going to punished for what he did."

 

"He . .he didn't even listen to my apology." the other man whines as they drive off.

 

"That wasn't an apology, it was an insult." Horatio says, looking at him over his glasses. "I agree. . .the only thing your fool son feels sorry about is he's going to be punished for what he did. . .unlike most of the police who shoot unarmed individuals. Your fool son was told to wait because his boss thought something was wrong with the paperwork when he was looking through the file but he didn't. . .and two men died for it."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8 by josette grover

 

Jessy gets her grades a couple weeks later, nodding as she looks them over and copies them for Rupert.

 

Larry chuckes as he takes the paper. "Rupert figured you'd be getting them soon, he's in a meeting now."

 

"The state still trying to put stuff up around the area?"

 

"And maintenance is talking about flipping houses. There's a lot of places for sale around here and in Miami that could be sold for a lot more money. . .they just need a bit of work."

 

"Or houses that are being lived in that could use some work."

 

"That too." Larry laughs.

 

"What's the work this summer?"

 

"The library and the candy store. We're also looking at painting the main house again."

 

"Have to be after hurricane season when the fucking humidity is gone."

 

"Amen."

 

"Thanks for coming with me Sam." Jessy says a couple days later. "Rupert wants me to at least look at a vehicle of my own. I keep telling him that I don't need one. . .it's just as easy to use one of the house's vehicles the few times I need to go somewhere."

 

Sam nods. "But sometimes you need your own vehicle. That way you can get away in case something happens."

 

"If I'm near it at the time." she mutters as they pull up to a dealership where repossessed cars are being auctioned off. Sam's got another reason to be there, the House needs more vehicles. He finds several vehicles and makes a call. . . the others arriving in cars and vans to drive off the vehicles if they buy them.

 

Jessy is torn between a sedan and a van, Sam and the others giving her the nod for both of the and she bids when they come up, not at all surprised when they both come to her. Going to the treasurer she pays for them both and gets everything she needs to go back to the house, Looking over everything she needs to register the vehicles she puts it in the file cabinet and joins the others in the main house.

 

"Jessy, I'm going to the secretary of state tomorrow.' Scott says. Jessy nods in satisfaction.

 

Jessy grabs a number and they settle in to wait, getting called up and going over all the paperwork, writing out checks and getting the license plates.

 

"Are you stupid?" A woman says in a smooth as silk voice at the airport a couple days later. "No, there is no way you are going to be allowed to empty first class because you think you're special." The woman across the counter from her continues to whine as Jessy is among the first people to board the flight.

 

The woman tries to stop her and Jessy backhands her. "Get your hands the hell off me."

 

"But you don't need to be in first class." She whines. "Coach should be good enough for you." She sneers.

 

"I have RA you retarded cunt, my business always books first class for me because the other seats have less legroom and I'd be in agony by the time I got off the flight." She takes another step and is grabbed again.

 

"ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID! GET YOUR HANDS THE HELL OFF ME!" She elbows her gut and gets loose.

 

"But I want first class to myself." She wails as she's dragged off.

 

"If you want the fucking plane to yourself buy yourself your own damn plane." Jessy mutters. Clapping from everybody around her waiting to board.

 

"Please return to your seats, boarding is delayed for the time being." one of the women behind the counter announces.

 

"Is she drunk?" One of the airport's police officers asks when she's put in a cell still wailing that they don't need to have other people in first class. She's special and they can just move back to coach and like it.

 

"Probably, she's refusing a breathalyzer but reeks of alcohol. Security cameras are backtracking her now."

 

"Who is that?" Police Commissioner Frank Reagan asks as a youngish woman walks into the house, getting hugs and hand clasps from most everybody.

 

"Jessy Michaels, she's the head of the seamstress shop in Miami as well as the librarian. She comes out summers to take classes at a textiles school in the area. The school has a branch in Miami but they've only offered the degree she was going for a couple years now. This way Jessy can get the degree here summers and go for her other degrees in Miami the rest of the year."

 

"Other degrees?"

 

"She graduated with a bachelor in library science and business and is going for a Library Science masters?" El looks over at Jessy.

 

"Yeeesssssss." Jessy says, rolling her eyes. "I'm partway through that and figure on getting an appointment to present my thesis this fall."

 

"Rupert demand you get a MBA too?"

 

"Yeeeessssss." El's lips twitch madly. "Go ahead and laugh, everybody else did. He handed the envelopes to the both of us, stood over us until we made out the forms, handed us checks and stamps, and dropped the appolications in the outgoing mail basket." El leans on the wall and howls as Jessy drops into a seat. "So anyway we can start them next fall." Frank bites his lip to keep from laughing, that's a parent move and from the way Ms. Michael's not really complaining she thinks of him as a parent too.

 

"We?"

 

"Xander Harris, he's a woodworker in Miami. Both of them were going for more than one degree in Miami, but while Jessy was going for the library science and textiles degrees he was taking a design degree specializing in woodworking along with the business degree.

 

"Peter, keep an eye out for a phone call or letter from the airline. Some fool woman tried having everybody removed from first class because she was special. .." Sounds of disgust prove everybody's listening. "She grabbed me when I started to board, telling me coach was good enough for me. I told the stupid bitch that the business always buys a first class ticket for me because of my RA, that's I'd be in agony by the end of the flight thanks to them cramming them in like sardines back there." Everybody who's ever flown nod and sigh. "Dumb cunt grabbed me again as I took another step and I elbowed the bitch right in the gut. Security dragged her off but the flight was delayed a hour while they investigated to determine charges against her. The airline was supposed to be giving out apologies to everybody for our problems. . .not that I see it happening. I gave this address and phone number as a place I could be reached for the next couple months."

 

"But she could have gone into coach . . ." The stupid bitch wails in front of a judge a couple days after the incident.

 

"Why should she?" The judge snorts. "She had just as much right to first class as you did. You had no business demanding first class be emptied for your personal use. And you certainly had no business putting your hands on that young woman. If you think you're so special that you need the plane to yourself. . .buy a private plane."

 

"Not likely now. . .she's just been hit with divorce proceedings." The bailiff snorts after she's dragged wailing out of the courtroom and back to jail.

 

"Really?" The court stenographer purrs.

 

"Yep, she married an older man with a lot of money but her alcohol abuse and rampant stupidity has been enough. She's gone. . .he packed up her shit and it's waiting in storage for her when she gets out of jail."

 

"couldn't happen to a nicer moron." The stenographer snorts as she covers her machine. "I notice she refused to take a breathalyzer. . .if you haven't been drinking you don't have anything to hide."

 

"Yes, and security footage shows her in multiple bars on the concourse before she went to the counter."

 

The apology arrives at the New York House a couple weeks later.

 

Jessy arrives back at the Miami house a week before she has to sign up for her classes.

 

"Did you get your masters?" She asks Peter as they walk into the cafeteria.

 

"Yes, you were in Boston while I was there."

 

"Oh that was a disaster. Some fools called in a tip to the police about the expo. They came in and shut everything down . ..then were stunned to find out it wasn't drugs. . .it was fabric."

 

"How the hell do you get drugs from textiles?" Xander asks down the table.

 

"No damn clue. They impounded the plane we arrived in. . .because they were sure we were transporting drugs. Drug dogs scoured the entire plane but found nothing. They didn't want to let us leave. .. they were trying to keep the situation quiet. It didn't work. . .we were all calling the media and blogging. The police finally had to let us go when the mayor asked if they had found anything. The hotel canceled the reservations of everybody involved. . then were stunned when no drugs materialized. They tried getting everybody to come back to the hotel but by then everybody was so disgusted at what had happened. The organization has banned Boston from any further expos. The hotel is blubbering about losing so much revenue but if they hadn't fucking canceled the reservations. . ."

 

"They wouldn't have lost the revenue." Rupert rolls his eyes. "You can't have it both ways people."

 

"Exactly. They're working on where the expo will be now. Boston is stil* pointing fingers trying to blame somebody else for what happened. Because it's not just our expo that pulled out thanks to their stupidity. Because if it can happen to us. . .it can happen to them."

 

Jessy sorts through her mail over the next couple of days, walking through the triple the size of the old one library and shaking her head because she can 'see' more room. Rupert chuckles and pats her shoulder.

 

Scott brings in the handtruck with the boxes and bags of books and other supplies for Jessy's university classes.

 

"Did you finish your thesis?"

 

"Yes, and I sent it to my advisor before I left New York." He nods in satisfaction.

 

"Are you stupid lady?" Sam asks scathingly in the courtroom. "No. . .I didn't get everything I wanted. My father is still dead, my brother is still dead. That little bastard was strutting around like he's the man. . .he's not the least bit sorry that he killed two people when he went in like Rambo. He's just sorry he's being punished. Him behind bars for the rest of his life isn't what I want. . .because the state has to take care of him now. If I got what I wanted, he'd have been shot just like my family." The judge gives the moron's mother a look but she continues to wail.

 

"I'll never be able to talk to him again."

 

"Bullshit. I can't talk to my brother and father all you have to do it go to the prison to visit him."

 

"The only reaason you convicted my baby is because they were white. If they were black he'd got away with it." she howls as she's dragged out of the courtroom.

 

"The apple didn't fall far from the tree." Speed snorts the next day at lunch.

 

"His father is just as self-centered." Ryan mutters. "You should have heard the complaining whenever I had to give any of the family a ticket. They were going to sue. They were going to go over my head and get me fired. Then wailed like a siren when the bosses told them to grow the fuck up. Moron only joined the department because Mommy dearest told him to. . .she was sure this would get them out of tickets now. . .everybody knows cops protect their own. They'd never pull her over now."

 

"Bullshit." Frank mutters.

 

"Yes, bitch wailed like a siren when she was pulled over after her son joined the force. Woman screamed like a siren when she was told we don't excuse tickets. How could we do that to her? She was going to lose her license if she got more tickets."

 

"God forbid the bitch obey the traffic laws." Maxine mutters as she comes over to the table with her lunch.

 

"Of course not." Ryan snorts.

 

Jessy leans in Rupert's door a couple weeks later, Dexter looking over at her. "Sorry to interrupt. I got an appointment to defend my thesis next week."

 

"That's early."

 

"It's pretty basic. . .I wrote about what I'm actually doing. Same thing I'll be doing for my MBA." Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

Jessy slumps into a seat in the main building the next week, giving the people watching her a thumbs up before she falls asleep. Joyce snickers and a couple hours later nudges her awake.

 

"Hard presentation?" Willow asks as she stumbles to a seat in the cafeteria.

 

"No, the ones before me ran long though." Everybody who's seen the time for their presentation come and go nod. "Since mine was a basic library science and I already run a library they just looked it over, asked a couple questions, and shoved me out the door. They wanted to go home too." Snickering around her. "So I'll get the official results in a couple weeks."

 

"Midterms?"

 

"Next week. They wanted to get them all in before the tests." Everybody who's went to grad school laughs and nods.

 

Rupert nods in satisfaction as he sees the last of the paint for the main house delivered. The other supplies have already been delivered and everybody but Jessy is busy scrubbing getting ready to paint. Everybody knows if you're taking classes you get a pass in something like this. Otherwise Jessy would be right there with the others.

 

"Tests?" he asks as Jessy stifles a yawn.

 

"Haven't got the grades back yet but I'm hovering around the A-/A range." Giving into the urge she stretches and yawns. It's been raining for the last few days thanks to the latest hurricane brushing the coast and she's not the only one yawning.

 

The rest of the semester passes by slowly and Jessy takes her finals, putting her books up in the room in her home Rupert had made for them. Everybody's busy painting and she heads to the main house, heading to the cafeteria to help get food ready. With everybody painting they're eating at the same time.

 

"Jessyca Maree McDonald Travers." The head cook says slowly, her hands on her hips as Jessy pulls on a hairnet and washes her hands.

 

"I just finished my finals and put my books away." She nods in satisfaction. "Start putting out the trays." Jessy grabs the stacks of trays and puts them on the tables along with silverware. The salad and pizza bars are filled next. The cook looks around in satisfaction. "Go yell it's time to eat."

 

"Dinner." Jessy bellows down the hallway, repeating it over the intercom. The others start trooping in as they finish up what they're doing, grabbing trays and filling them.

 

"Finals?" Rupert asks.

 

"Finished and put my books away, that's why I'm here instead of in the library." Rupert nods in satisfaction. He looks at her and she fills her tray. "Have you heard back officially about your Masters?"

 

"Yes, I've got it. Nobody's going to make any comments about favoritism or irregularities presenting it now. And you know damn good and will somebody will. Because they think they're all that." Everybody in earshot nods.

 

"Supplies?" Wesley asks after everybody's eaten and are just sitting in the cafeteria.

 

"Should be arriving tomorrow. Recycling?"

 

"The truck is due in a couple days. Soapmaking supplies?"

 

"Was arriving when I walked to the library after lunch." Jessy calls. "Leatherworkers and seamstress buildings orders are due tomorrow. Cheesemakers day after tomorrow along with the candy building." Rupert and Wesley nod in satisfaction.

 

"Paint?"

 

"We're nearly done, by lunch tomorrow."

 

A week later all the supplies have been delivered to various buildings and the recycling has been taken away. Jessy is at the mall getting the last batches of books, DVDS, music, and whatnot for the year with Amara and Doug.

 

"No Mr. Wells?" the bookstore owner asks.

 

"Fell and hurt his ankle. The doctor wants him to stay off it. So he's busy doing paperwork." The owner sniggers. "Yeah, a fate worse than death. Especially with how much crap always seems to show up at the end of the year."

 

"Oh yes, I know that very well." The store owner sighs as everybody starts getting books.

 

"Good afternoon Ms. Michaels. Mr. Wells called me and told me you'd be picking up both orders." the clerk at the comic book store says when she walks into the store. Dialing Andrew's phone, Jessy starts listing the new stuff, adding it to his order. At the House Rupert chuckles.

 

After a late dinner they arrive back at the House. Locking up the van and truck. . .there's not a damn thing that won't wait until morning they take golf carts to the main house. The next morning Jessy drops Andrew's boxes outside his apartment before dropping her schoolbooks and supplies at the library.

 

"Thanks for picking everything up, Jessy." Andrew says when he comes into the cafeteria.

 

"Did you get your books for next semester?"

 

"Yes. Also signed up for graduation and got enough supplies for next semester and both of us next fall." Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

Everybody heading home heads off the first week in December, the others settling in to the quieter House when the employees with families in the area are off for two weeks. Grumbling Xander is busy going over notes for his business plan, Rupert nodding as he looks over his shoulder.

 

 

Chapter 9 by josette grover

 

Jessy is at another table in the library, busy sketching something. Looking over her shoulder he nods at the outfit and Jessy gives him a look. "No, I'm going getting a fashion degree. . .I don't need the fucking headache of dealing with people who think they're all that and us 'lesser' people need to bow to their every whim."

 

"Are you stocked up on fabric for the next couple of months?"

 

"Yeah." The tv is on low across the room and Jessy grabs the remote, turning up the volume and listening to a news story. "Fucking fool. If you don't like a real life. . .you're sure the hell going to hate prison."

 

"Is that the fool woman that had a fit about not getting first class to herself?"

 

"Yes, according to rumors the fool woman couldn't handle having to have a job, pay her bills. . .you know actually be an adult! Her husband divorced her and under the pre-nup she didn't get anything. Fool must have thought that she'd get everything with him dead."

 

"Moron, he wouldn't have kept her in his will after he divorced her." Xander snorts.

 

"But she thinks she's special and of course he'd leave her everything." Jessy snorts. "She just got tired of waiting." Rubbing her fingers she gets up and pulls a bottle of soda from the refrigerator, opening it and taking a long sip. Covering her mouth with her arm she belches and wrinkles her nose as Rupert sighs and Xander sniggers.

 

"I saw in the paper there's another repo auction."

 

"Yes, thankfully we don't need any more vehicles."

 

"why so many cars?" Andrew asks as he comes into the library.

 

"Easy, parents buying their kids cars they can't afford. The kids swear they'll pay but you can't pay off a 40,000 car on part-time wages. And god fucking forbid the kids save the money and buy a cheap used car."

 

"Nope, because it's not really for the kids .. .it's so they can crow how rich they are that they can afford this for their kids." Rupert says scathingly.

 

"Or they buy the cars for themselves they want but they can't afford."

 

"Not that damn difficult, some fucking cars cost just as much as a house. And that's not the Mercedes or BMWs." Xander snorts. Saving his work, he stands up and stretches. "That's enough work for now, I haven't actually started the da. . .ng degree yet." he says at Rupert's looks. Andrew and Jessy snigger. "And I don't want to have to go back in and rewrite it if I messed it up."

 

"Both of you are actually doing the work, that's why you're going for the degrees you are instead of a degrees a kid just out of high school would be taking."

 

"Lady, get back on your broomstick and toddle off. There's no way in hell Sam Winchester is going to be fired because your 'Pwecious' baby boy went to prison for killing his family." The man at the security gatehouse says scathingly to the blubbering fool demanding Sam be fired for having her baby punished. "Go away, you're on private property and we'll have you arrested for trespassing. You're already facing harrassment charges for all the nasty letters you're sending."

 

She screams and tries to get out of the car, gulping as a weapon is put in her face. "Leave.Him.ALONE!" Wailing she starts the car and drives off. She tries to file a complaint in town but is told to grow the fuck up, she'd been told to leave and they had every right to pull a weapon on her. Wailing again she runs off. Why won't anybody take her side?

 

"No Lady, you can't sue him for your legal bills." A lawyer snorts a couple days later. "He's your lawyer, you have to pay him."

 

"But he didn't get my baby off." She wails. "I shouldn't have to pay him."

 

"He was guilty you little fool. Now grow the fuck up, pay his bills, and leave Sam Winchester alone!"

 

She runs off wailing again. How can everybody take his side? Don't they know who she is?

 

"The effing bitch who can't believe they actually arrested, let alone convicted her pwecious baby boy for murdering two people." the secretary snorts.

 

The next couple of days are quiet, Rupert walking over a construction site. The buildings are already going up and people are already taking notice. After touring the land he checks out a home that Eric's father's crew is working on and gives them the final payment. The realtor is already touring the house and updating the information on file for the new ad.

 

"Do you intend to flip more houses?" Eric's father asks.

 

"If we can sell this one at a profit."

 

"You should, it's a good-sized home . ..not one of those huge megamansions people build to show how important they think they are. The ones who build mansions with nine kitchens and a bowling alley for four people."

 

"Then go whining when the reality show documentary shows them to be fools. What everybody who knows them already knew." Rupert says dryly. Eric's father snickers.

 

Jessy makes one last trip to the mall, wincing at the screaming kids and frazzled parents.

 

"No more until the middle of January." She says. The others shudder and nod.

 

"Even the comic book store was crowded." Andrew grumbles as they walk to the cafeteria.

 

"Too many parents buying gift cards because they don't know what their kids buy. Same thing with game stores." Xander says behind them. The others nod. Only Paige, Sam, and Jay had loving parents who were interested in their children's life growing up. And from all the letters and phone calls that hasn't changed with them grown up and out of the house.

 

"How far are you in your second degree from the textiles school?" Jenny asks.

 

"A little under three years. It's all bookwork since it's a history degree so even with trips I'm going at it like gangbusters."

 

"Samuel, thank you for coming. I know it's not your day to work .. ."

 

"With my family gone I just rattle around the apartment. Thank you for giving me a place. . .I couldn't live at the garage after Dad and Dean were killed. Once it was cleaned up it sold for a good price. . .even if the bastard's parents did wail about me making money off their deaths until the judge knocked them upside the head and told them to sit down and shut up."

 

"I'm afraid there was an . . .incident in their home after the fool woman tried suing to make you pay her lawyer bills. She shouldn't have to pay them . ..the lawyer didn't get her precious son off. The police were called for a loud argument and found her dead and her husband dying. It appears they were arguing. .. over you. She grabbed a gun and was threatening to come back and . . .deal with you for daring to have her son arrested. .. he grabbed it and it went off while they were fighting. She died instantly but the blast. . .killed him too."

 

"Stupid bitch."

 

"Yes, she's no doubt wailing in whatever afterlife she ended up in that you should have let her precious baby boy do whatever he wanted. It's not fairhe's being punished. Don't we know what they do to cops in prison?"

 

"The little fucker's getting what he deserved. He's working two jobs to pay off his judgment. The prisoners are making his life hell. . .they don't have to lay a finger on him." Sam snorts.

 

"Yes, Jessy's mother was treated similarly by the other prisoners." Rupert smiles. "Mental torture lasts longer than physical beatings."

 

"Is there any other family?"

'

"According to Horatio two daughters. . .the boy was Mommy's favorite."

 

"Of course. I hope the girls get everything. If the fool got her way she'd have left everything to him so he'd have it when he got out of prison. . .they can't really mean to keep him in there forever. . .can they? Their appeal will get them a new judge and he'll have to agree with them." Sam snorts. "Because I should have let the bastard get away with killing my family. . .I didn't press the charges the DA did."

 

"Myeah .. .details as the children would no doubt say. You were her target since it was your family her useless son shot. Who is no doubt wailing because this means Mommy and Daddy won't be putting money on the commissary for him anymore."

 

"He's not bad, he's just misunderstood." Larry drawls from the front room. "Boys should be boys, he's just high-spirited. . .and all that other crap excuses they made." Sam nods.

 

Christmas comes, everybody taking Sam under their wings like they did Cordelia, Jessy, and Xander. Jessy leans against the window, looking past her reflection to the grey sky outside. Rupert comes up behind her and wraps his arm around her shoulders. "What are you thinking about?"

 

"Twelve years, how the time does fly. It seems like yesterday that the police were coming to my grandparents house to tell me that Dad was dead. . .and that Mom was claiming I killed him. Thankfully they quickly figured out I couldn't have done it."

 

"No, you were on a plane at the time."

 

"Funny, isn't it? A mother's love. My mother hated me and wanted me to go to prison for her crime. . .Sam's family's killer's mother didn't want him to go to prison for his crime."

 

"She didn't love him any more than your mother loved you. It was a fake love. . .what you can do for them rather than what they can do for you." Phillip says as he walks through. "That's why you see Munchausen by proxy cases." Rupert nods. "What happened after the police told you your father was dead?"

 

"They told me Mom was a 'person of interest' as they call it on the news. I called Rupert and he flew right out."

 

"By the time we'd got the estate settled Jessy's mother had been arrested. We flew back to California and after a hearing I was given custody of Jessy."

 

"It was mid-march and I was turning sixteen in four months, I'd have been aging out of the foster care system then anyway. Add in my RA.. . they were more than happy to let me be Rupert's problem." Jessy looks over her shoulder at him. "We shut up the house and moved me lock, stock, and barrel here. And I soon realized. . .this is my home. . .more than my parents house ever had been."

 

"Laura's attorney at the time wanted Jessy to stay in California. . .I believe as a material witness to supposed abuse or to try to cast doubt on her guilt but the judge told them there was no reason for her to have to stay."

 

"Stupid woman howled when the judge overturned the will and left everything to me."

 

"Yes, that was another reason I wanted you out of California until she was in prison. .. to keep her from trying to go after you. As it was I was fielding irate calls from special interest groups who were furious you had stolen money from her. . .until they learned the truth. Then they apologized and put out the word that she was lying and you had inherited the money because she couldn't benefit from her crime. They soon passed along the word to their fellow advocates and put her on a blacklist."

 

"She was convicted in a fast trial. . .the house's security system had caught the entire thing on video and Stein turned state's evidence trying to get a better deal. Not that he got it, he's still facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Even in protective custody he's still a former cop."

 

"How is construction coming on the condos?"

 

"Good, they're off for Christmas but will be back to work after the first of the year. Realtors are already lining up to sell them. Housing is outrageous in Miami. I'm already looking at a second area for more apartments."

 

"What about that house you renovated?"

 

"The realtor already has a person interested, they're just working on the financing. I've got a list of additional houses to flip. And I've got a listing of houses going up for auction in a couple months."

 

Jessy yawns a couple weeks later when she signs into her last semester of classes for the library science degree. Looking out the window she shakes her head at the grey overcast sky. "if you're going to rain, rain already." She mutters. Then laughs, it could be worse. Denver and New York are dealing with snow. If they had rain it would be freezing rain and bring down lines.

 

As if fate was reading her mind the power flickers and goes out, the alternate power coming on seconds later.

 

"Rupert?" Xander asks as he comes into the outer office.

 

"In town dealing with the paperwork for the houses he's flipping." Xander grins and drops the receipts on the desk. Larry looks everything over and drops them in the inbox. "Ready to start your masters this fall?" Xander just gives him a look and he laughs. "We all went through it Xander. Rupert just wants the best for us. Cordelia's bitching about having to get a business degree too."

 

Xander snickers as he heads off, wrapping an arm around her as he passes her in the hall. She tries elbowing him and he chuckles as he walks off. "Annoying wretch." Speed chuckles across from her as Horatio hides a smile.

 

Andrew gets behind the wheel of the truck for their trip into Miami a week later, Jessy yawning as she looks at the rain sleeting the windshield.

 

"How many days of rain does this make?" Andrew asks.

 

"Five." Jessy sighs. "I keep reminding myself it could be snow."

 

"Myself is shooting back she still doesn't like this wet crap anyway." Andrew snickers.

 

"Exactly. But like I heard somebody say one day, you don't have to shovel rain."

 

"Unless it's after a hurricane."

 

"True."

 

A woman is screaming and gesturing at a man who is icily tearing strips off her hide as they walk to the mall entrance, people are giving her disgusted looks.

 

"What's going on?" Jessy recognizes her as the woman who's always complaining about her parking somewhere else but putting up her handicapped placard. She looks at one of the mall security guards who knows her.

 

"Oh herself had a fit on the wrong person. . .the chief of police was not happy his wife was getting yelled at for having a handicapped plate yet not parking in a handicapped spot. . . mostly because they're all full. He's letting her have it with both barrels. Stupid bitch has been told to leave people alone, she's not the parking authority."

 

"No, she just wants to control the world." Jessy snorts. "Fool woman."

 

The bookstore manager smiles as the pair come into the store.

 

"Oh good, I was hoping you'd be here. We've got a guest author coming in an hour for a book signing." He passes over information. They start wandering the shelves, a couple people coming in and getting set up as they start checking out.

 

Jessy arrives back at the store after the signing has started, getting a couple books signed. After a late dinner they head to the motel, having planned on being in Miami a couple nights.

 

The next morning they walk into the comic book store, chuckling as they see the signs of a booksigning getting set up. The manager chuckles as Andrew grabs a flyer and looks over it with Jessy.

 

The following afternoon the truck arrives back at the House, boxes and bags being moved to various buildings. Jessy yawns as she slides out of the truck, MacGyver chuckling as he leads her into the main building.

 

"I understand there was some problems at the mall." Rupert just looks at her.

 

"Not it, that fool woman who keeps having a fit about me parking anywhere but the handicapped parking spaces. . .which were usually filled by people without handicapped stickers had a fit about a vehicle parking elsewhere. The chief of police was not happy the stupid woman was yelling at his wife."

 

"Oh god. . ." Jenny moans. "What an idiot. . .what business is it of hers where people park? Whether they have handicapped stickers or not."

 

"Oh, the bitch thinks she runs the world. She'd been told to leave people alone. . .but people like her never bother to listen to anybody but themselves." Everybody around them sighs but nods. "Maybe this time the stupid woman will stay away, she usually huffs off for a while after the mall management tells her to knock it off."

 

Jessy puts the signed books in her home after dinner, stretching and yawning as she takes off her clothes, dropping them in the hamper before settling in a steaming hot tub of water.

 

The next morning she looks over everything in her stockrooms, moving a few items and double checking all the containers and bills that will be used for the prom and graduation dresses. Boxes of ink pens are behind the counter and Jessy nods in satisfaction.

 

After lunch she checks over the supplies in the library, opening a pallet of paper in the basement and bringing ten boxes up to the main floor.

 

Her midterms come faster than it seems humanly possible and she sighs as she leans against the window after the last one. Cordelia comes into the library, scanning the books in her arms back into the system at the machine and put them in the cart.

 

"Hear from the school?"

 

"Yes, I got accepted." Cordelia sighs. Jessy hides a snigger against the window. "Damn it, models aren't supposed to be smart."

 

"How do you think Janice Dickensen and Tyra Banks run their empires?"

 

"I hate you." Cordelia sighs. This time Jessy doesn't bother to hide her snigger.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10 by josette grover

 

Rupert settles in his office a couple days later. He'd been in Miami going over the last details on the sale of the house they'd flipped earlier and looking at the new house Eric's father and his people were working on now.

 

"How are the condos coming?"

 

"Good, they figure on having all the buildings finished by the time Jessy is walking for her library masters. Realtors are already making contracts for the units. I kept the penthouse in one of the units for anybody who's going to be in Miami late. I know Jessy doesn't mind staying at the motel when she has many places to go in Miami. But the others could use it."

 

"Do you have other sites selected?"

 

"Yes, two others that will start being cleared in a couple months. The need for housing is outrageous in and around Miami."

 

"Oh yes, everybody wants to live in the area." Wesley says. "Are we flipping any more homes?"

 

"Yes, I have five waiting to be worked on and Mr. Delko's crew is working on a sixth. I also want you to go to the auction in town." He passes over information on the homes and Wesley nods at the prices he's willing to pay. "They have a year to reclaim the houses so we have plenty of time to go through the homes and see what they need done."

 

Larry taps on the doorframe. "Truck is here."

 

The others are beginning to arrive as the pallets begin to be unloaded from the truck.

 

A week later Wesley arrives back at the house late that night. "The auction ran long but I got everything. And under the prices we'd agreed on." Rupert nods in satisfaction as he puts the folder in his desk and they walk to the cafeteria, finding Xander tormenting Cordy about having to go for a business degree and Jessy yawning over her tray.

 

Jenny comes in with 'assignments' for the next day, getting nods from everybody she talks to.

 

"Jessy dear, go to bed." she chuckles as the last yawn nearly makes her swallow her glass of milk.

 

Jessy looks at her. "Not tired. . .spent the last three hours drawing outfits and fleshing them out." She waves a hand over her bag and Jenny and Rupert look everything over. "I scanned them and sent them to the school. . .I should hear something back soon."

 

"Are you going into town?"

 

"Yeah, I need to deposit everything and stock up on supplies again."

 

Sooner than she would have swore Jessy is taking the last final in her Library Masters degree. She almost wants to dance, but she'd look stupid and not only does she have the history of textiles degree she's working on summers she'll be starting the MBA this fall.

 

She's in her home putting her books away for the last time when Xander comes in with a cart. "Here's the last of your bookcases Jessy." He starts putting the stand alone units in the middle of the room, the walls are full of shelves already.

 

"Thanks Xander." Xander's not too surprised that Jessy's home is much bigger on the inside than the outside. . . most of the buildings on the grounds are bigger than they appear.

 

"Have you been listening to the news?"

 

"That fool woman who left her kids alone while she went on a vacation? I doubt there's many of us here who aren't familiar with their parents being gone for days at a time. Willow was just the youngest." Xander sighs but nods.

 

"How's Oz doing?"

 

"Relaxing after the big launch of that . . .'thing.'" Xander waves a hand about the site that lets people create communities and put up 'walls'. He's on it. . .everybody at the House is but it's not a big deal for him. Jessy snickers, she feels the same way about this. . . facebook thing. But the adults are sure this is going to be something big. .. big enough that they've brought a building in Miami, renovated it for the servers, and hired employees. From the way they're talking he's going to be joining the group of millionaires or billionaires at the house.

 

"The school in New York is already on it."

 

A couple months later Jessy puts on her cap and gown, Jenny wrapping the collar around her neck and smoothing it on her shoulders. She joins the others on the stage, seeing Oz taping the ceremony for the others. Jessy just rolls her eyes as the president of the school announces that she'd be returning this fall to go for her MBA, she can hear Xander sniggering in the crowd.

 

"Oh hello Mr. Sampson." Jessy says as she picks up her manila envelope after the ceremony.

 

"Hello Ms. Michaels. Welcome to the MBA program. And you as well Mr. Harris."

 

"I'm confused. . .if the town nearest them is called Marley. . .why is their area called . . ." One of their former classmates asks.

 

"Hurricane Springs? There's a lot of former smaller towns that have been lost over the years. The name is still there and people still live there but they're not incorporated, have governments, or other stuff. Most of the time they're just a few roads and have only a couple hundred people living there."

 

"Yep, I live in one myself." Another former classmate says. "I get my mail from the nearest town. Kids in the area go to a school in another town. . . It's closer. My kids go to the school in the other town, it's better and we live just across the road from the boundary."

 

Jessy flies to New York, Erik grinning as he takes most of her bags. She leaves out one duffel that she'd packed for the trip to Vegas, the teachers finding her eating in the airport when they come out.

 

"Sorry to make you turn around and fly out."

 

"Ehhh. . .I'm good. There wasn't any idiot passengers having a fit about having to share first class or screaming kids."

 

"How was graduation?"

 

"Long. . .why does every person who thinks they're somebody pick graduations to make a grand speech nobody gives a shit about? It's not like we're a big university with a famous commencement speaker." Jessy grumbles. The others snigger. "A lot of the people I'd taken the business classes with got their MBAs, I'm starting mine this fall."

 

They arrive in Las Vegas, walking through the airport that's still bustling even at this late hour and head to the hotel. The one that Jessy had stayed at before and is one that her father had a partial ownership in. Once they're settled in a couple suites they gather in one and order from room service.

 

"So how is your business going in Miami?"

 

"Mine or the whole business? Good, Rupert put up a set of condo buildings last fall. . .they're selling now. He's got two more locations being cleared. You're outside New York but I'm sure you know how outrageous housing is in Manhattan." Everybody nods. "While we don't have million dollar parking spaces it's nearly as bad in Miami. Mine is going good, with the second building and more expensive material available we're getting more high end dresses."

 

The teachers nod. "Your buildings looked good on the video on your page. I didn't realize how big your library was."

 

Jessy nods. "A lot of people didn't. When you think of a private library, you think of a single room. . .not a whole building. A lot of our. . .associates have specialities so we have a lot of different areas."

 

"How often do you buy?"

 

"Textbooks usually every other year unless something new is coming out, I usually have one or two good-sized orders in every year from amazon. Fiction I generally hit the mall every other month or so. That's when I get the bulk of the DVDS and music too. All except the audio books since they're generally abridged in stores." the others nod. "And cut out the good parts." One of the other teacher mutters. Jessy sniggers and nods.

 

"How often are you there?"

 

"Usually every day, I take my online classes there. I'm not needed that often at the shop, after the rush for prom and graduation it's pretty quiet."

 

"I wasn't sure about facebook, but we're getting requests to join from seamstresses and textile workers all over the world."

 

"Yes, Oz is glad that people are using it."

 

"You know the man who created it?"

 

"Oh yes, he works in Miami with us. Oz has been working on that on and off for the last few years, Rupert realized just how big this was going to be and started the process of hiring employees, getting a building of servers, and. .. weeeeelllllll. . .everything. Oz is relaxing for now. .. he normally writes programs. I use one. . ."

 

"I told you that was the same person." One of the teachers yelps and points a finger at another one.

 

"in the seamstress shop. Yep, another one he created is used in law enforcement. He doesn't have to work but like the rest of us he'd be bored to tears."

 

"My dear, how did you meet Dr. Giles?"

 

"He's my godfather, he took me in when I was fifteen, nearly sixteen. My mother killed my father and tried framing me for it. . .because I'd only have got a few years in juvenile." The teachers stare at her in stunned horror before hugging her. "I was on a plane from California to Chicago to deal with my grandparents estate at the time. .. she blubbered that I could have killed him since it was seven when he was killed but the plane didn't arrive in Chicago until ten."

 

"Ummmmmm, isn't seven in California the same time as ten in Chicago?" one of the teachers asks, rolling her eyes.

 

"Yep. the police were already calling her a person of interest when they came to tell me my father was dead. I told them to check the security system, it was set to record in all the main areas of the house. . .my father had installed it because furniture kept getting moved from where he wanted it and he wanted proof who was doing it. Fucking fool was moving it himself. The system was set up to go to a server in the house and the company where it was kept on another server. The cameras caught them killing him."

 

"Them?"

 

"My mother and her lover. . .she was sure she'd get all the money with him dead. Her lover got involved because she promised him some. I called Rupert and by the time the estate was settled my mother had already been arrested. Rupert shut up the house and moved me lock, stock, and barrel to Florida since the state allowed him to take custody of me. Since I'd be aging out of the system in a few months anyway. Add in my RA. . .they were more than happy to let me be somebody else's problem."

 

"Why were you taking care of your gramndparents estate. . .?"

 

"My father had been kicked out of the family for being as crooked as they come but I hadn't been. I'd been getting the same business training my father wanted to give a boy for years."

 

"Which he didn't want to give you because you were a girl? Figures."

 

"Yep. Once we were in California I arranged for Dad's burial once they released the body and applied for the life insurance. The court gave everything to me .. .my loving mother started telling everybody I'd stolen from her. Rupert was fielding calls from special interest groups for weeks until they realized she was a lying bitch and put her name on a blacklist. Once she sentenced we cleared out the house and sold it. Including her room of clothes. Damn fool was horrified she'd have to wear uniforms like the other prisoners. Weren't they going to give her a second cell for her clothes? How could she live like this?"

 

"Couture?"

 

"Oh yes, we packed everything up and took it to consignment shops. The money we made from selling her shit went into her account at the prison. She was always wailing for me to send her money, the prison only gave her forty dollars every other week out of her account. . .anything else she'd have to pay for herself out of the money she made from her prison jobs. ..what was left after money was taken to pay off her judgments. Moron tried suing to get the life insurance. . .nope, sued to get the money from the house. . .nope. Sued to make me visit her weekly and give her money. . .OH HELL NO!"

 

"Is she still alive?"

 

"No, she died in an accident at the prison four years ago, a truck was coming up to the laundry where she was working and lost their brakes. She bled out before they could get the truck off her. When I went to her cell to get her belongings she had thirty gallon totes full of stuff she'd brought at the commissary. . the prison had made her pack it up or get it thrown out. She had to buy stuff to make herself feel better. She did the same shit before she went to prison, I ended up having the other prisoners come in and take what they wanted. . .they all wanted to apologize for the shit my mother put me through, and I still had tons of shit I ended up donating to homeless shelters and whatnot in Miami. Even then I still had stuff I couldn't donate. . .she had boxes of bath salts special interest groups wanted sold in the prison commissary . .to make them feel better about being in prison. . .so they don't feel like they're being punished."

 

"Isn't that why they're in prison?" One of the teacher drawls.

 

"Uh-huh, they wanted the prisons to stop making them wear uniforms. . .they want them to feel like they're on vacation. They wanted the wall removed too. . . but agreed they might walk away if they do." Snorts of disgust from the others.

 

"Did your mother leave you everything?"

 

"Helll noo, she wanted all her money to go to this grand funeral. . .all that crap in her cell was supposed to make her look like an angel tragically taken from us too young. She kept bleating she was only twenty five but I was nearly twenty-three when she died. People would flock to her funeral, wailing and beating themselves with hairshirts, they'd put up a huge monument to her and demand to know how she could have been convicted."

 

"Ummmm, she was guilty?" One of the teachers snorts as they look at the time.

 

"Yeah, stupid bitch would not leave me alone, she was so damn convinced I had to have forgiven her by now, she got life in prison. . .her manicure was ruined. I would have only got a few years in juvenile. . .I'd already be out. She contacted people trying to get her out, escaped once and made it all the way to the Miami house demanding her daughter leave that hedonistic place. . .got shot trying to steal a guard's gun in another escape attempt. She's probably wailing in whatever afterlife she and my father ended up in because I got all the money from the life insurance policies she purchased in prison. She wanted them to go to groups that get innocent people out of prison. . .because she was innocent but nobody got her out. Everybody agreed her so-called will was psychotic rambing. . .of course I didn't know about the insurance policies until a couple weeks after she died. It's all in a CD until I need it, along with the settlements from the company that owned the truck and the state of California."

 

The week passes quickly and Jessy and the others return to the hotel room for one last night before flying to New York in the morning. Jessy had already sent her purchases to the Miami house except for a few items that would come with her to New York and the others had sent their stuff to the plane.

 

The next day after noon Jessy walks into the cafeteria of the New York house and slumps into a seat.

 

"How was Vegas?"

 

"Full of morons and asskissers." Jessy mutters. Peter sniggers as Erik puts a tray in front of her. "Thanks whoever dropped the car off at the school. People couldn't believe we weren't there to gamble or see shows. We had to be poor and had to be watched so we didn't steal anything. . .until they saw the kinds of purchases people were making at the expo. Then they realized oh we just need to guide them to our casino and our shows. Once they see everything we have of 'course' they'll realize they really want to do this instead of attend a nasty old expo." Jessy drawls.

 

"Well. . .that's the only reason you go to Vegas. . .right?" El says in an airhead voice. "People forget people actually live and work in Vegas."

 

"Anyway, they don't want me to come back to their casino. . .I bankrupted them."

 

"Really?" Neal drawls.

 

"Well no, not really. . .but I won more than they're comfortable with at the slot machines. Including the big jackpot. They didn't really think it would ever be won the way they were blubbering when I cashed out."

 

"Of course not it was a big draw for them." Charles chuckles. He and Erik are two of the few people who had permanently paired off while working at the house.

 

Jessy sighs as she relaxes in an easy chair in her house, the others had said not to bother to come in until day after tomorrow. . .it would take them that long to recover from the flight and get everything settled into the school. She'd already deposited the check before they left Vegas.

 

Meanwhile in Miami Jenny is snickering as Rupert tells them what had happened in Vegas. 'Own damn fault, shouldn't have kept trying to get her in the casino if they didn't want the chance of her winning." Joyce snorts.

 

Jessy is tapped on the shoulder as she gets her last bag on the folding baggage cart. Looking around she grins at Ryan, who motions to her ears. "Sorry. . .not one, not two, but three screaming kids on the flight back." she says as she pulls off the noise canceling headphones and wraps them around her neck. Ryan moans, shaking his head. "Oh christ. Is this everything?"

 

"Yes, thank you god." Jessy mutters as they walk to the door. "How's the house?"

 

"Good, Rupert's got a bunch of houses to flip. . .including a few mansions. There's a few new hotels going up, Rupert's looking at more condo sites. The state got their way. . .we own more land by the House and they're putting up a mall, megaplex, bank, restaurant, and warehouse store. They're not right by the house but they'll still bring in business to the area."

 

Jessy snorts. "I'm still going into Miami, I like the owner of the stores I do business in at the mall. If there's decent stores in the new mall we can go both places." Ryan nods in satisfaction as they finish putting everything in the car, the cart folding and being put on top. They finally make it out of the airport and Ryan takes the scenic route to get pass a couple wrecks. Ryan moans as his phone buzzes and Jessy grabs it for him, holding it up so he can listen.

 

"I'm being called in." He looks at her after nodding to end the call.

 

"Go to the lab, I'll drive myself home."

 

Horatio looks over as a House vehicle pulls up, Ryan getting out of the drivers seat. The passenger side door opens and Jessy goes around the front of the car and drives off after waving.

 

"Is Jessy okay? She looked frazzled." Speed asks as he looks over everything. "Sorry to call you in on your night off."

 

"Three screaming kids on the flight home she said when I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed at her headphones."

 

"That would do it." Calleigh moans. "How's traffic?"

 

"Bad, we had to go five blocks out of the way to get around accidents." Ryan signs in and they head off.

 

"Where's Ryan?" Michael asks as Jessy drives up to the gates.

 

"Got called in, I told him I could get home on my own." Jessy pulls through the gates and gets in the cart MacGyver brings up.

 

"Bad flight?" he asks as she just 'listens' to the silence.

 

"Three screaming kids."

 

"Oooohhhhhhh yes, definitely bad flight."

 

"Yeah, the only thing that would have made it worse would have been big screaming kids. But then we would have diverted and their asses arrested." Dexter and Scott nod as they start emptying the trunk, everything will be in her home by the time she gets there.

 

Jessy pulls on her noise-dampening headphones when she gets inside. Joyce just looks at her as she opens a medical box in the office and grabs a packet of advil, swallowing them with a bottle of water from the mini-fridge.

 

"Three screaming kids on the flight. Their parents should be shot for inflicting them on the rest of the passengers. People, you know you're going to be in a goddamn flying tube for hours. . .take another way if you can. I don't care how much you bleat your kids won't be bothered by the flight. . .either they're screaming because they're in pain or they're screaming because they're brats and you don't control them."

 

"This is why they want sections for kids in the back of the plane."

 

"And ban kids in restaurants. Because you can get up and walk away from screaming kids a helluva lot easier in a restaurant than you can a plane."

 

"Or make them leave." Rupert says as he hugs her, stroking her hair. She sighs as the headache vanishes. She leans against him a long minute until her growling stomach makes her look down. "Oh come on, you cannot be empty. . .I ate just before we left and the flight wasn't that damn long. . ."

 

"Even though it felt like it at the time." Rupert chuckles.

 

"Exactly." He chuckles and touches her temple, showing her how to put up a bubble around her where no sound can get through unless it's an emergency. And how to set up alerts so she can know it's an emergency. She blinks. . .she's already halfway doing this in the library when she's taking classes or tests. Rupert nods.

 

"Where's Ryan?" Joyce looks around.

 

"He got called in, I told him I could get home on my own. . .we were already taking the scenic route to get around a couple accidents. I have the feeling it's going to be hours before they're done."

 

Rupert hands Jessy a file after the first tray of food and she looks it over. "Ryan said there were new hotels going up."

 

"Yes, I don't think he realized they were your hotels." He chuckles. Cordelia brings a second tray over for Jessy, getting an armhug in thanks.

 

"Max needs to talk to you."

 

"I'll call him tomorrow."

 

Chapter 11 by josette grover

 

 

Cordy swishes her hips as she gets ready for a member tonight. He always asks for her and she's already had her shot so he can take her virginity on the kitchen table. Faith comes in wearing an outfit that shows she's going to be 'sacrificed' on an altar to appease an ancient god.

 

The mail is waiting on her when she opens the door and she grabs a double handful to look through. "Rupert. . ." She whines when she finds a bag from a phone store in the container. A sticky note is on the box saying that now she can deposit checks the same day. He'd already set up the app, she just needs to enter her information.

 

"I still have to deposit the money Rupert." she sighs as the looks over the manual and sees the note saying everything's been activated. Shaking her head she puts it up and continues sorting through her mail.

 

The next morning she checks on the seamstress shops after breakfast to go over her inventory and finds notes on everything they're running low on on a clipbaord. After lunch she calls cordelia's friend.

 

"Smart."

 

"Hey Max."

 

"Jessy, good Cordelia told me you'd be arriving home yesterday."

 

"Yes, and after the planeride from hell I just wanted to relax."

 

"Turbulence?"

 

"Three screaming kids."

 

Max winces. "Can you talk to us about outfits?"

 

"Yeah, when do you want to come out?"

 

"I can be out there in an hour."

 

"I'll be in the shop."

 

Max opens the door an hour and ten minutes after he ended the call, a young man and woman coming in behind them looking around. The woman chuckles at the message on the wall. "Have you had any bad checks?"

 

"Nope, though we've had people look at it and put their checkbook away and pull out a credit or debit card instead."

 

They look over the designs, Jessy making notes and then going through the back to the other building for her pads, the others looking them over and adding more outfits. A contract is brought up and they sign everything, putting down a huge deposit. Max sniggers as Jessy scans the check. "Finally broke down and got one to deposit checks?"

 

"Rupert got it for me while I was in New York." He leans on the counter laughing. "That's the only way you would have got one."

 

"I still have to deposit the cash n the bank anyway." Jessy drawls. She starts making lists of what she'll need to buy or order as they head off and in what order to make them.

 

Turning to the computer she puts in the order and, looking at the time heads to the main house.

 

Detouring to various tables she tells everybody of the huge order and to come to the shop tomorrow after breakfast. Rupert nods as he listens to her.

 

"Get everything?"

 

"I put in an order but I'm heading into. . . Andrew, I'm going into Miami day after tomorrow to the fabric warehouse. . .coming with me to stop to the comic book store?"

 

"University?"

 

"Too early, Xander and I will go in in a couple weeks. I know Cordy has a special day to go in since she's a new student."

 

The next morning everybody is standing around the seamstress shop as Jessy hashes out the order in which everything will be made.

 

The next day Andrew and Jessy stop at the comic book store first, the owner grinning at them as they start looking over the shelves as he brings out their orders.

 

After visiting a couple more stores in the area they drive to the fabric warehouse.

 

"Ms. Michaels." the clerk smiles.

 

"I got a huge ass order." She hands over her list.

 

"Oh yes." She and Andrew grab flatbed carts and start filling them, scanning everything and putting them in the truck Andrew brings around the back so they can keep filling the flatbeds. The last item is marked off the list and Jessy pays, the receipt shooting out of the printer.

 

"Still got stuff to order?" Andrew asks as they pull away from the back of the business.

 

"A few items, I got the bulk of it today or ordered it a couple days ago."

 

Back at the House maintenance is busy emptying the truck and putting everything in the storerooms, Jessy ordering the last of the supplies as they work.

 

"Get everything Jessy?" Rupert asks as she comes into the main house and checks her mail.

 

"Nearly, I ordered the rest after I got back. By the time we need it. . .it'll be here."

 

The next day people are busy putting together the supplies for their outfits and starting to lay them out.

 

A couple weeks later Xander and Jessy return from the school in Miami with their books and the supplies they had to get there. They set up everything at tables. . .Cordelia's stuff for her her first semester is at another table. She's going for a different degree than they had. . .they already ran their own businesses but won't be getting into different books for at least a year.

 

"How is the order coming?" Cordy asks as they get everything set up the way they want.

 

"Good, we've got a half-dozen in progress at any time. The finicky details in the way of decorations take the longest." Cordy nods as they walk out of the library.

 

A few weeks later Max makes a trip out, smiling and nodding as he sees a list of projects being worked on and the outfits in question. He takes pictures for the others and getting good responses.

 

"How is your MBA coming?"

 

"Started it a few weeks ago, I don't see any problems with my business plan. . .hello, it's what I'm actually doing."

 

"Jessy, got an e-mail from Jack Harkness, he wants more quilts." Illyana says from the computer.

 

"Ask him how soon he needs them, I've got this big order first." Illyana's fingers fly over the keyboard. A few minutes later she looks up again. "January is fine. . .they don't need them yet."

 

"Okay, print out the details and I'll get everything tomorrow. I'm going into Miami anyway."

 

"Quilts?"

 

"I can make them special order, Jack and his friends live in Cardiff."

 

"Ohhhh, they actually get months of cold there."

 

"Yep. He's a good friend, he orders soap and candles from us too. We have special labels made up for him, tweak his ego and make his coworkers laugh or cuss."

 

"Andrew." Jessy calls as she comes into the cafeteria.

 

"Yeah."

 

"We're stopping at the fabric warehouse too, I got an order from Jack for quilts. He already knows I got a special order from Max, he's says no hurry on them." She says at Rupert's opening mouth. He grins at her. "Information on your other supplies?"

 

"According to the latest, they're due to ship next week." Jessy says as she grabs a tray and starts to fill it.

 

"Normal supplies?"

 

"I'll start doing inventory next week and order after midterms, that way everything should arrive while we're shut down." Jenny and Joyce nod in satisfaction. "And if you need anything else it's not a hardship to run into Miami to the warehouse. . .just like tomorrow."

 

"Exactly."

 

"We can stay at the motel depending on how long it takes." Andrew says. Jessy nods.

 

After an early breakfast Andrew slips behind the wheel of the big truck. They end up at the mall just as it opens, heading immediately to the bookstore. After lunch they hit the comic book store and looking at the time eat dinner before checking into the motel.

 

"Hannah, is that already sold?" Jessy calls as she sees fabric being loaded up on flatbeds.

 

"No." she turns to look at her boss then one of their better customers. "We were clearing it out for a seasonal display.

 

"I got quilting orders the other day."

 

Hannah chuckles and they start moving bolts onto another flatbed, Jessy marking off items on the list.

 

"Well. . .that cleared out a good bit of it." Hannah's boss chuckles as they look at the decimated flatbeds. Hannah laughs as she starts pulling them into the back room.

 

"Get everything?" Xander asks as he helps move the bolts into the back of the seamstress shop.

 

"Most of it, I'll order the rest before dinner." Copying the receipts she hands them to Xander who chuckles and takes them to the main house.

 

"Jessy." he hands them to Larry who nods and puts them in a file. A couple hours later she hands him another receipt. "The rest of the stuff for Jack's order."

 

"How are you on supplies for the library?"

 

"Coming in this next batch of supplies." He nods in satisfaction and puts the receipt in the file. "Did all the condos sell?"

 

"Yep and they're already looking at the other two developments. And the area is clearing for the businesses the government wants to go up."

 

"Yeah, Andrew and I saw the signs when we came back." Jessy yawns and looks at the rain sleeting on the window. "Have they said anything about substations?"

 

"Yes, we've got the power plant nearby but that area is going to have their own substation. It will take strain off the one that handles town." Jessy nods. They'd heard the talk about the need for a new substation but hadn't been able to raise the funds necessary.

 

The next couple of weeks pass quickly and soon Jessy is taking her midterms. After she's done she walks to the seamstress building to make a list of what she needs to order. She looks up at the chuckle from the door to the front room. "Mr. Sampson."

 

"Ms. Michaels," His lips twitch.

 

"Mr. Sampson, how are the girls?"

 

"Planning on coming out when they get back to get their graduation outfits, will you have time for them?"

 

"Of course. We're on track for these."

 

"I'm actually here to talk to you about your MBA."

 

"Let's go to the library then." she puts the clipboard down where she'd been working so she knows where to start again and they walk to the library.

 

"Oh my. . .when you said you run the library. . ." He turns around in a circle, taking in everything when they walk into the building.

 

"You weren't expecting something so big. Yeah, I got the same reaction when I put up video footage on my facebook page. You caught me at a good time, in a couple days I'm off to New York for comicon with Andrew."

 

"So Dr. Giles told me when I called to arrange a time to come out." He chuckles.

 

A couple days later Jessy and Andrew pull their bags out of the trunk of the car, checking in and getting some food before making their way to their gate. They pull out the latest information for the comicon in New York, going over everything as they wait for boarding.

 

Nearly a week later they arrive back at the House, everybody chuckling as they chivvy them to their homes and beds.

 

"Are you awake?" Rupert asks when Jessy stumbles into the cafeteria the following day.

 

"No, but I'm up." she mutters. Yawning she is led to a seat by Cordelia and a tray put in front of her by Xander.

 

"Did you sleep at the con?"

 

"Yes, even though I've heard stories about people just dropping once the con is over."

 

"And rooms that have a dozen people staying in them sleeping wherever they can?"

 

"That one's true. That's the only way they can attend the bigger cons is get as many people in the rooms as possible. Of course hotels don't know how many people are actually staying in the rooms." Andrew says around a yawn as he walks into the room.. "I've seen the posts on lists before I came to the House. If i'd had the money for a ticket and the entrance fee I'd probably have signed up for a spot."

 

"How are you on your classes?"

 

"I've been getting extras in since I knew I'd be gone for a week. Even now I doubt I'd be able to read without my eyes crossing."

 

"Can you join me for a meeting about the hotels?"

 

"As long as I don't have to do anything too strenuous. . .like think." The others snigger. They know Jessy's just complaining to complain.

 

"Miss Jessyca." A man smiles as she walks into the room.

 

"Hello Baxter, it's been a while." She shakes her head after she's pulled into a hug, but then he's an old friend. His father and grandfather before him had worked for Jessy's grandparents.

 

"You were gone this summer?"

 

"Yep, I've been taking classes at a fashion school in New York, they have a branch here in Miami but the initial degree I was going for wasn't offered here until a few years ago now. So I've been taking classes there summers."

 

"Did you finish this latest degree there?" Rupert asks as he walks around his desk.

 

"Yes. And yes, they are paying me and waiving the cost of the classes." Rupert sniggers. "Are there any problems with Max's order?"

 

"No, we were on track before I left and Cordelia didn't mention anything. I'll look over everything before I start classes again."

 

"Classes?"

 

"The nudge there is making me get an MBA." Baxter nods in satisfaction. "Good." Rupert laughs at the sour expression on Jessy's face and they settle down to talk about the progress of the hotels.

 

"What's going up around you?"

 

Rupert ticks them off and Baxter's eyes grow big. "The state wants them. . .and what the state wants. . ."

 

"That sounds about right. I hear you're building condos now?"

 

"Yes, our first venture is selling well, the other two are under construction now. I'm also flipping houses, there's a lot for sale that have been sitting there since they need work. With the remodels they're selling well." Baxter nods in satisfaction. "In addition I brought a number of houses in town that were up for tax auction, with the new businesses coming into the area they'll sell well."

 

"Do you see the need for condos out here?"

 

Rupert looks at Jessy then starts scrambling for a notepad, writing a few things down before they turn their attention back to the hotels and other stuff.

 

After they leave Rupert calls in Wesley, Joyce, and Jenny. "Jessy had a good question during the meeting. With the new coming into the area in a few years, do we see the need for condos in the area?"

 

"There is that area on the other side of town. . ." Wesley says slowly. "It goes to Stanley."

 

"Yes, that's the area I had been thinking of myself."

 

"We wouldn't want to start building until we see a need."

 

A couple days later Jessy signs into her classes again and faster than she'd thought possible she's taking her finals. Putting her books away in her house she checks on everything in the seamstress shop, finding Max and his friends there.

 

"Jessy, finish your tests?"

 

"Yeah, just now. Is this the last of your outfits?"

 

"Yep, and here's the last of the payment." Max hands over the checks she scans on her phone after stamping the back and puts it under the counter to shred later. Sam Guthrie holds the door open as they take out the last of their garment bags, putting them in the van before driving off.

 

"Gods, it seems empty in here now." Faith says as she grabs a broom and starts sweeping. "Are we starting on the quilts before shutting down in a few weeks."

 

"I don't see why not, we should have a few tops ready before then." Jessy says. She grabs the list and starts bringing out supplies from the back as Paige brings out the box of quilting patterns. "Jessy, did you order more plastic for the patterns?"

 

"Yes, and x-cto knife blades. We're running low even with sharpening them and the scissors. I ordered new scissors too."

 

Thankgiving is noisy in the cafeteria, everybody had got their grades and Cordelia is being twitted about actually being smart.

 

Chapter 12 by josette grover

 

Mr. Sampson and his daughters come out a couple days later, selecting outfits and getting measured for them. They talk about Harvard and their plans for the future once they graduate. Mr. Sampson asks what's going in down the road and Jessy rattles everything off, the four of them staring at her. "The government." she sighs. "They wanted it and brought the land for us just like they did when they brought the land for the power plant."

 

"Do you own the commercial farm too?"

 

"Yep, it saved a lot of jobs in the area and it's a source of fresh fruit and veggies for senior citizens and the underprivileged in the area." Mr. Sampson nods in satisfaction.

 

They put down money on their dresses and head off, shaking their heads as they pass the area being cleared. "I can't believe the government wants all that."

 

"I can, you hear about pork barrel projects all the time. And they wonder why people complain about overspending."

 

"They don't care." his second daughter snorts. The other two laugh but nod.

 

"Thanks for bringing us out Dad, I know seeing dress designs makes you break out into hives." The other two snigger. "I'm forcing myself not to run screaming for the door. . .Ms. Michaels is enrolled in the MBA program and I am her advisor." The girls snicker as they get on the interstate.

 

The decorations are starting to go up as she walks to her house, finding Rupert, Xander, and Andrew bringing out the outside decorations.

 

"Is that it?"

 

"Yes, we've started the quilt tops and I can start their dresses after the first of the year. According to the latest on the order, it's due week after next." Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

"Are you making one last trip to the mall and comic book store?"

 

"Yeah, next week. Any later and we won't want to be in the malls."

 

"Amen, we won't want to even go into town any later than that. Gods sake people, why wait until the last goddamn second to buy gifts?" Xander mutters.

 

"Because if you buy them ahead of time you'll miss the latest greatest crap they bring out." Xander snorts as he puts up a ladder as Andrew opens the tote marked house front--frame, tote one. Boxes of lights are opened and start to be put together, Xander taking the string and clipping it around the house.

 

"Books?"

 

"Xander, Cordy, and I are going in day after tomorrow, get everything we need."

 

Two days later the van pulls up by the library, Cordy running in and getting the flatbed for the bags and boxes that go in. Everything is sorted out as Rupert leans in the doorway.

 

"Are you all set for next semester now?"

 

"Yep."

 

Several days later Jessy and Andrew head into Miami, one of many cars and trucks heading there. Late that night everybody descends on the cafeteria.

 

"Mall full of screaming kids?" Rupert asks as he sits down.

 

"Yes. Morons can't be bothered to fucking get a damn sitter so they can shop without having to drag the kids along. You're not doing anybody any favors, you can't shop for everything you want with them along. They don't want to be dragged pillar to post, and everybody around them doesn't want to listen to them screaming."

 

"There's no place to leave them to play in malls." One of the cooks says.

 

"There's no place to leave them anywhere anymore. Too bad there's no daycares where you could just drop kids off for the day."

 

"Too big a chance of them not coming back to pick up the kids." Rupert says sadly.

 

Tagged gifts start appearing under the tree in the main house, everybody had drawn names in November, those who'd gone home having purchased their gifts before they left and putting them in the office.

 

A couple days before Christmas Jessy and Rupert go out to check on the hotels. "Are you done for the holidays?"

 

"Yes, we start again the first full week in January. We're ahead of where we'd normally be, we took the holidays into consideration."

 

Driving past the mall Jessy moans as she sees a familiar figure gesturing wildly as security takes papers off windshields. A tow truck is there but the driver is giving her disgusted looks as a police car pulls into the parking lot.

 

"Stupid bitch, I hope they put the moron away in a home before somebody shoots her for her stupidity." Jessy mutters as the light changes and they pull away.

 

"Andrew." Jessy calls when they walk into the main house.

 

"Yeah." He turns around from putting another gift under the tree.

 

"That stupid bitch who thinks she's the parking authority might be in serious trouble. Security was pulling papers off windshields and there was a tow truck. Maybe the fool tried putting fake citations on them to get them towed? Because parking anywhere but where she wants has to be a crime."

 

"Wouldn't surprise me at all if she did. Fucking whore was trying to move the truck when I went out with boxes and bags from the store and I cussed her ass out long and loud. Security came running over and told her to grow the fuck up. She tried taking her keys to the truck and they grabbed her before I could punch her stupid ass out. Maybe this time they'll finally put her away."

 

"Amen, we didn't get it like you and Jessy did but we certainly heard her bellyaching." Xander says as he walks in.

 

"Did you get everything out?"

 

"Yep, the truck just left."

 

Jessy watches the local news and laughs when she hears the story that the woman is being held under psychiatric evaluation pending charges. "She's not 'twoubled', she just wants the world to bow down and kiss her ass for existing. If it wasn't handicapped parking spaces she'd have another way to try to make people do what she wants."

 

Christmas is loud, after all the gifts have been opened and stockings examined people are either watching christmas movies and tv shows in the house's theater or playing video games in the gaming room until dinner.

 

The expo list for the next year goes up after New Years Eve, everybody looking the list over and putting their name down for the expos they're interested in then signing up for a couple that are just 'get the information and bring it back to the house'.

 

The next week Jessy, Cordelia, and Xander sign into their second semester of classes, the following week Andrew and Jessy heading to the mall for their first purchases of the year.

 

"So whatever happened to that fool woman?" Jessy asks a guard she knows.

 

"Wellllll, the head doctors found out she wasn't mentally ill, just. . ."

 

"A miserable bitch that wants to control the world?"

 

"Basically. .. yeah. She's in jail for ninety days for creating false citations in an attempt to get the vehicles towed. Unfortunately for her stupidness, security saw what she was doing and got in her face about it. We have a one year temporary restraining order against her once she gets out of jail. . .after that?" the security guard shrugs. "She's going to sue for having her arrested, her own lawyer told her to grow the fuck up.

 

Xander and Cordelia take breaks from their classes as is brought into the library later that day when they return to the House.

 

"How is the mall?"

 

"Quiet without having to worry about dumbass. . .who's in jail for ninety days for creating those false citations to get the vehicles she didn't wanted parked there gone. Unfortunately for her security saw what was going on and got in her face. They've got a one year temporary restraining order against her. She's going to sue, she's the victim. they didn't have to arrest her. Her own lawyer told her to grow the fuck up, she'd been told repeatedly to leave cars alone for a while now and refuses to do it."

 

"Jessy, how are you on your classes?"

 

"I'm a little ahead. . .why?"

 

Rupert's lips twitch as he hands her an envelope. "Enjoy your vacation. Jenny packed your bags, Horatio is waiting at the front gate to take you to the airport. He's heading back to work, so don't keep him waiting please. And your passport is in the envelope."

 

Jessy is muttering rude comments as she gets out of the car, Horatio's lips twitching at some of her turns of phrase as he hands over her bags. Checking her ticket she heads to the right line and quickly checks in, her medical excuse quickly getting her through security. Getting some food she sits down and starts going through the envelope, sighing as she sees she's going on a cruise. But when she sees who's sponsoring the cruise an evil smirk passes her lips. Her section is called and she gets on the plane, settling into her seat.

 

A shuttle takes her from the airport to the dock, checking in she looks around the room and shakes her head. Oh well, it's only ten days and she won't be in it that much. Looking over the amenities she puts on a bathing suit and coverup, putting her room key in a fanny pack and grabbing a towel.

 

After a dinner that seems to drag on forever as the owners of the cruise line and the owners of the casino make long speeches the gaming rooms open and Jessy heads immediately to the slot machines.

 

"Enjoy yourself?" Ryan asks as he picks her up at the airport ten days later.

 

"Hell no, the cruise ship got hit by the norovirus a couple days into the trip."

 

"I didn't hear anything about that on the news." Ryan scowls. Everybody had been listening to news about the ship because Jessy was aboard.

 

"You wouldn't have, the owners of the cruise ship and the owners of the casino wanted it kept hush-hush-hush so the bad publicity wouldn't come back on them. They kept swearing up, down, and sideways that it was just some bad cases of seasickness. . .the CDC was ripping them to shreds when the ship's doctor called them in at the docks. They were trying to get people to sign non-disclosure paperwork, I ripped it up and threw it in the garbage where it belonged before I walked off the ship. They're just whining because with people sick they weren't losing all their money in the gaming rooms."

 

"That sounds about right. Was there anything else to do on the ship?"

 

"Hell no, that would take them away from gambling. Not even shows like they have in the casinos in Vegas. I looked over the paperwork and I was supposed to be a special invitee because I won the big jackpot last year. . .so at least Rupert's not out any money for that shit." They get out of the airport and drive towards the interstate.

 

"Did you bankrupt them? And please, I know you."

 

"I damn well tried." Jessy smirks. "Poor babies didn't like me only playing the slots, they couldn't get the big bets out of me."

 

"Do I need to stop to the bank?"

 

"Nah, I already deposited everything." Ryan chuckles as they get on the interstate.

 

Rupert chuckles as Jessy just gives him a look when she walks into the main building. The whole story is told. "That was a top of the line stateroom?" Joyce snorts as she sees the pictures.

 

"Yep. There was no internet or cell service on the ship but I expect people are already posting about the goddamn clusterfuck that trip was."

 

"Yep." Cordelia says, looking online. She hands over her computer and Jessy adds her own scathing comments, uploading pictures she'd taken with her cellphone. Which were majorly different than the brochures. . .which more people were complaining about.

 

"so did you destroy them?" Rupert asks, his lips twitching.

 

"Not for a lack of trying."

 

Over the next couple days the story is revealed on the national news and the casino and cruise ship owners pointing fingers at each other as to whose idea it was not to turn around and come back, whose idea it was not to alert the CDC to the norovirus on the ship, and whining about losing money.

 

"Are you all set for prom?"

 

"Yep, they should start descending on the shop tomorrow. In a couple days. . .after I get my midterms taken I'll go into Miami and restock on supplies."

 

A few days later Jessy finishes her midterms, stretching backwards in the chair, her arms stretched over her head with her fingers interlaced. Looking at the time she smiles as Faith comes in with her phone.

 

"Done?"

 

"Just now." Jessy stretches and yawns. "Is the rush over with?"

 

"Looks like it." She hands over her phone and a file copy of all the orders, Jessy looking them over as they walk out of the library. "A good selection, do you . . .ahhhh, already got the list of what needs to be replaced."

 

"Yep."

 

Jessy and Andrew go in the next morning, Jessy stopping to the bank to deposit the money from the safe in the sewing building before hitting the interstate. "Do you want to stop to the fabric warehouse first?"

 

"We can hit it on the way back."

 

The comic book store is their first stop and the manager smiles as they walk into the building. He goes in back to get their regular orders and they wander the store. They come out of the store loaded down with boxes and bags and put everything in the back before visiting a couple other stores in the area.

 

They make it to the fabric warehouse store that afternoon, Jessy, Andrew, and Hannah filling flatbeds. They arrive back to the house, Jessy copying the receipt and giving one to Larry before they go to the cafeteria to eat.

 

"Get everything?"

 

"Most of it, I'll order the rest after dinner."

 

The dresses start being picked up over the next couple of weeks.

 

"Do we own the homes in town?" Joyce asks a few nights after the last of the prom dresses are picked up.

 

"Yes, maintenance is going through them now and making plans for what we need to do. Once we get the plans done we'll have Mr. Delko come out and walk through them." Rupert says. "If he can't do the work he will know who has spare crews."

 

Wesley nods. "And the worse houses in the area becoming the best will make other homeowners work on their homes."

 

"The condo units?"

 

"Selling well."

 

Jessy yawns as she finishes her finals. The rush for graduation outfits is done, Mr. Sampson just the only parent to pick up dresses for his daughters instead of the girls picking them up themselves. He'd thanked her when he realized they'd got them ready for shipping.

 

"Are you done?" Joyce asks from the doorway.

 

"Yep, I finished the last final not five minutes ago." She finishes stretching and straightens up. Covering her mouth with her hand she belches and Joyce sniggers.

 

"Are you ready for the expo in a couple days?"

 

"Yep, I need the break from worrying about my finals before I start working on my business plan."

 

Jessy and Paige head to Chicago a couple days later, checking into a hotel and settling in the room to go over their plans for sightseeing before the expos starts.

 

Jessy drives up to a big home. "Your grandparents home?"

 

"Yeah, I sold my parents home in California but I kept this one. My grandparents cook and housekeeper live here. . .I told them they can live here as long as they live but it's my house and they can't have family moving in." The door opens and an older woman rushes out, pulling her out of the car and hugging her. "Miss Jessyca, welcome back."

 

"Was this your grandmother? You look a lot like her."

 

"Yeah," Jessy turns to look at the pictures Paige is looking at on the wall. "That's one of the reasons I took Michaels as my last name when I did the paperwork for my DBA."

 

They return back to the House over a week later, Speed chuckling as Jessy drops into the back seat.

 

"Bad Expo?"

 

"People are fucking idiots. Morons, we reserved the conference center and our rooms months ago. .. why the hell do you think we're going to step aside for you? You're not that damn special. You just want it because somebody else has it."

 

Speed chuckles. "That's the reason for most crimes."

 

"They're coming along pretty good." Jessy says as they pass the construction of the mall and other buildings. "I say the bank's going to be open first."

 

"Then the restaurant. It's a tossup between the megaplex and the warehouse store."

 

"With the mall last. I don't think they've got any stores on board yet."

 

Larry chuckles but nods when they arrive at the main house. "I think the government bit off more than they could chew here."

 

"Well you know the government." Jessy snorts. "Do what they want then whine when it doesn't turn out the way they think they it will."

 

"And it's the taxpayers that are stuck with the outcome."

 

Rupert chuckles. He passes along fliers. "These are ads that are going to be going in the trade journals and whatnot. Don't worry, we'll have the mall full when it opens. The government swears the mall will be full."

 

"And we all know the government knows best. . .right?" Jessy snorts. Everybody around them sniggers.

 

"What are your plans for the summer?" Jessy's not going to New York that summer, the fashion school was shut down while they added new buildings to the school.

 

"Probably finish my business plan and pass it along to Mr. Sampson." Jessy stretches and yawns as they walk to the cafeteria.

 

Jessy reads a letter and, snickering, hands it to Rupert. "They're trying to set the casino cruise ship up again."

 

"Aren't they in trouble for bait and switch with the 'magnificent' staterooms?" Xander drawls.

 

"Oh the ship had them. . .but none of us were good enough to get one. The owners of the casino and cruise line got them. What? You thought we were going to pay for you to sleep in them?" Jessy snorts. "These sardine can staterooms are good enough for you, all you're supposed to be doing is giving us all your money anyway."

 

"Sounds about right. . .don't they realize they need more attractions to keep people interested? Even the casinos have restaurants and shows." Cordelia snorts.

 

"Please, all they care is getting the money from patrons, not giving them anything in return."

 

Jessy goes into Miami a couple days after she gets back with Andrew, their first stop is the comic book store and she chuckles when she sees the information on the new mall on the counter. "Yes, it looks like a good development but .. ."

 

Andrew chuckles. "Our boss owns it." The manager looks at him.

 

"The government brought the land because they wanted it, there's going to be a megaplex, a warehouse store, a bank, and a restaurant in the development. We didn't think it would do anything out there. . .it's not exactly a main street." Jessy waves a hand at the store front where cars are going by and people are walking down the street.

 

"First rule of business. . . location, location, location." The manager chuckles. "Exactly, now they government is frantically trying to bring attention to the development to get in business. Because we told them it wouldn't work. . but you know the government. . ."

 

"Don't listen to people with sense then whine when you're proven a moron?"

 

"Exactly. Since our businesses are out there, a commercial farm is out there, and a power plant is out there we should want all this shit. . .right? It started out first about a bank. . .don't all the employees at the power plant and commercial farm need a bank? Ignoring the fact that they can drive ten minutes into town and go to the bank."

 

The store manager laughs.

 

"Isn't that why Rupert got you a smart phone last year so you could deposit checks electronically." Andrew chuckles.

 

"Hello. . .I still have to run into the bank to deposit the cash." The manager laughs harder. He can't fault that logic. "Unless you're going to one of our businesses. . .you're not going to be driving out that way."

 

"What about the town near you?"

 

"They think it was a mistake too but they'll advertise it all they can. The moron who pushed everything through is frantically trying to find businesses to take spots at the mall. . .his plans to be somebody in the government have already crashed and burned now he's trying to keep his job."

 

"Even if he gets the businesses. . .it doesn't mean they'll stay open."

 

"Exactly."

 

Jessy and Andrew put their purchases in the truck and visit a couple other places before going to the mall. Police cars and news trucks are all over the parking lot.

 

"Ten bucks says it's her."

 

"sucker bet." Jessy puts the handicapped placard on the rear view mirror and they get out, A scream has Andrew and Jessy turning around, the dumb woman breaking away from the officers and running at them. The officers grab her and drag her away.

 

"Fucking fool."

 

"Amen."

 

"But they deliberately parked in a non-handicapped spot." she screams as she's shoved into the back of the police car.

 

"What the hell business is it of yours? You don't rule the world Lady. They don't have to park in handicapped parking spaces if they don't want to. You were told that. Grow the hell up and get over yourself." One of the onlookers snorts. She screams and kicks the partition between the seats as she's drove off.

 

Many hours later they pull through the gates, sorting everything out and having it sent to their house or apartment before they walk into the main building.

 

 

Chapter 13 by josette grover

 

 

"Good lord. . ." Jessy moans. "They did it again. . .I guess they really want me to bankrupt the morons." Rupert takes the thick envelope and shakes his head as he reads everything. "They are fools."

 

"They expect they can just put the casino on a cruise ship and still make money hand over fist."

 

"Okay, I've heard of gambling cruises but why. . ."

 

"Once they're in international waters they're not bound by state gambling regulations." Joyce snorts.

 

"Exactly."

 

A couple weeks later Jessy gets off the plane in Los Angeles, the shuttle taking her to the dock again.

 

"How was the trip?" Horatio asks as she trudges to the car.

 

"A fucking photo op from the word go. It was luck of the draw whether or not you got the good stateroom. Which I didn't. They had photographers everywhere trying to get pictures of 'happy gamblers' and were stunned when a lawyer told them that just because you paid for their passage, it didn't mean you were allowed to take pictures of them."

 

"No, they have to sign releases."

 

"They tried claiming I signed a release but magically they couldn't find it. Or any of the other releases. Because they didn't exist. I wasn't the only one saying that if a release showed up in my name I'd be suing for fraud."

 

"Was anybody sick this time?"

 

"No thank god but they were heard whining about not making enough money. Especially after I killed them on the slot machines. They were expecting high rollers to drop ten thousand dollars a day on games and they didn't get it because people were outside by the pool, getting fresh air, eating. . .sleeping. . .doing everything but gambling 24/7."

 

"Did you deposit your winnings?"

 

"Yes, they were wailing about going broke as people were streaming off the boat. We paid their way, they were gonna sue because we didn't drop as much money as they wanted. I spent a whole five dollars on the slots the entire trip."

 

Joyce shakes her head as Jessy recounts the trip once she's at the House. Sorting through her mail she drops most of it in the recycling bin. "No, I don't need ten million credit cards or to buy a new car since mine is old." She drawls. The others snigger.

 

Jessy yawns as she strips her bed the next day, she'd slept poorly on the ship and had slept a solid ten hours after dinner. Joyce chukles as she looks in on her, helping her make the bed back up before she pushes the hamper to the laundry room.

 

"How are you coming on your business plan?"

 

"Good, I'm well on track to send everything to Mr. Sampson this fall. Any update on the construction?:

 

"The local papers and news shows are going to be writing and airing stories about it over the next few months, the government wants a big production of everything opening . . .they'd wanted it to be Christmas."

 

"Christ, the mall's not even half-finished. . .let alone got any stores." Jessy looks over her shoulder from putting the last of her laundry in the washing machine.

 

"Yep, calmer heads. . .not morons trying to frantically keep their cushy jobs in the government. . .prevailed. The bank and restaurant, warehouse store and possibly the megaplex will be open by Christmas. The mall. . .they hope by Labor Day next year."

 

"Hope is right. I don't see it opening for next Christmas."

 

"Amen. But maybe the multiplex will bring in more interest."

 

"Doubt it."

 

"If not the county can use it for shelter and supplies during hurricanes." Joyce says. Jessy grins as they walk out of her home.

 

Rupert and Oz get on a plane to California, his little facebook thing is growing by leaps and bounds and they're flying to California to talk to the people who want an operation in California. They're already outgrowing the operation in Florida, they purchased land to build a larger complex that will have a solar farm to supply most of their power needs.

 

The summer passes quickly, the fool woman who would not stop trying to tell people where to park at the mall was sentenced to six months in jail and had been forced to attend counseling. Her husband had put her out of the house and her kids didn't want anything to do with her for her stupid stunts and she's finally realizing that maybe she wasn't all that special and people could park wherever they damn well wanted when they went to the mall.

 

Jessy looks over the list of supplies a a truck pulls up to the sewing shops and she checks everything off as the others move it into the building. Several hours later she moves a couple items and nods in satisfaction.

 

"How are we on orders?" Rupert asks as she comes into the cafeteria for dinner.

 

"We got three people coming in to pick up outfits at the adult shop, we have five more being worked on, and eight appointments. We're getting people coming in now from beyond Miami."

 

Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

"But I thought everything would be done by now." the moron who'd wanted everything by the house wails as he inspects the construction. The bank is the only building finished and will be opening in a few weeks. "Where are all the stores flocking to the area to get in on this?"

 

"Moron, we're in the middle of nowhere. . .nobody is going to come out here. The news shows are going to be advertising the mall and the local newspapers will do the same but you're going to have to realize even if you get stores, there's no saying they'll stay in business."

 

"But why not?" he wails.

 

"Because there won't be any customers moron." The head of the building crews has finally had enough and rounds on him. "If you'd bothered to fucking listen to people they would have told you this was a poor place for a mall. Nobody comes out this way, it's not in a major traffic area. . ."

 

"Bu. . ."

 

"Shut up moron," his boss bellows. "You were told it wouldn't work but you went ahead and did it anyway, now you know you fucking screwed up and still don't want to admit you were wrong."

 

"But I thought that people would flock to the area." He whines as he's shoved into a car.

 

"You're probably one of those fools who think that you're going to win the publishers clearinghouse prize too." The head of construction snorts.

 

"But I thought people would flock to the area." he howls until his boss snaps at him to shut the fuck up.

 

"Why would they flock to the area. . .because you said so? I don't think so. Not only are we on the hook for buying the land and construction, we've got to find them stores. And we've got to pay their costs for five years, including the employee wages. By then the mall should be functioning on it's own or we're paying damages for putting up this monstrosity."

 

"Nnnnnnoooooooo!" he wails.

 

"Yes, the courts were not happy with you trying to pass the buck onto them. They told you the damn thing wouldn't work."

 

"But I thought people would flock here." He wails again, then howls when he bites his tongue when his boss tells him to shut up. Again.

 

"What about using the mall as a stop for Greyhound. Or the local bus line. . .I'm sure people would love the opportunity to shop as they wait for the next bus." He runs into his boss's office a few days later.

 

"They change busses in big cities, not small towns." His boss snorts. "They have one bus that goes through daily and it wouldn't go out there."

 

"What about putting up an advertisement on the expressway for the mall?"

 

"We'd already planned that. They're also putting up billboards to direct people to the mall since it's a little out of the way. But they gotta have stores there first."

 

"Is that moron still wailing about there being no stores flocking to the area to be in his mall." Another government employee asks a couple weeks later.

 

"YYYYeeeessssss." his superior says in disgust. "Now the fucker wants to advertise the mall at the Miami Airport."

 

"Nobody's going to want to drive from Miami to a mall .. ."

 

"An hour away on the interstate."

 

"They drive to Miami to shop, not the other way around."

 

"Exactly, moron thought a handful of stores in the area meant he could put up anything in the area and now he realizes he fucked up. Not only are we responsible for the mall, we're responsible for the bank they didn't want. . .moron bleated that didn't the people who work at the power plant and commercial farm need a bank. They told them that they could drive ten minutes into town and go to the bank. But that wasn't good enough for him."

 

"Oh jeez, he is a fucking moron."

 

"Oh yes, so not only do they have a mall, they have the bank, a restaurant, a warehouse store, and a megaplex we're responsible for. Because of his stupidity. The bosses are reaming him out and he's finally realized he's not all that. He's afraid he's going to lose his job but he's not getting off that easy."

 

"No, they'll be making an example of him for decades."

 

In early August Jessy, Cordelia, and Xander head into Miami to get their books, Jessy and Xander dropping off their business plans in the box at Mr. Sampson's office. He's currently out of town but had told them that was okay. Cordy's beginning to get different books than them and they look them over back at the house after they've picked up their supplies at the college and the university center.

 

Jessy looks over the footage of the new buildings on facebook once it's put up, shaking her head. She can't believe they got everything done so quickly. In turn they're moaning about the construction going up that she had taped coming back from the school in Miami.

 

"Yes," Jessy says on the phone to her ear as she walks into the main house. "My boss told him that there wouldn't be any business but of course he knew best. With the commercial farm and power plant out here didn't they need a bank? He didn't want to hear that they could drive ten minutes down the road and go to the bank. We needed a bank . . .and once we had the bank didn't we need a mall, a warehouse store, a restaurant, and a multiplex? Moron's frantically trying to get stores in the mall and not getting any bites. The bank is the only one open yet and they're not getting the business from the employees, they're still driving ten minutes and using the bank in town."

 

Guffaws on the other end of the line. "He's stunned they won't use the bank. . .he's gonna sue." Derisive hoots of laughter and catcalls. "Yes, he's not going to get any satisfaction there. Moron wanted everything to be open by Christmas, he was stunned that he can't just magically wave his pissing wand and have everything the way he wants it." Rupert sighs as the women on the other end of the phone cackle.

 

"We told him the employees would just drive into town. . .most of them live there." Jenny says dryly.

 

"Oh please, who are we to tell him the truth? He's full of his own self-importance and only when like this happens will the moron realize he's stupid and should have listened to people who know what they're doing."

 

"But how could they have been right?" he whines in DC. "They've got to be forcing the employees not to. . ."

 

"Shut up asswipe, nobody's keeping the employees from using your precious bank. You were told the bank wouldn't get any business, that they could drive ten minutes into town and use the bank there."

 

"But they should have wanted to use my bank." He whines. "Can we build a retirement community out there? That way we have a captive audience."

 

"No, we're not putting up a retirement community out there." his boss says dryly. "We don't need more buildings sitting empty. Have you got any interest in the mall yet?"

 

"Noooo," he wails. He's complained that people had to be hiding the interest in the mall from him but he'd sent out more information and got no responses.

 

"Any news on when the restaurant is going to open?" One of the cooks asks a few nights later.

 

"Not until the grand opening for the megaplex. Nobody's going to come out otherwise. That's supposed to be in a couple weeks."

 

The new semester starts and Jessy and Xander are called in to talk to one of Mr. Sampson's class about the absurdity of putting up all those businesses off the main track. The latest pictures of the mall construction are put up on the screen.

 

"And he wanted it open for Christmas?" One of the students shakes her head.

 

"Yes, and he's still trying to get stores interested. I expect to see some interest once the megaplex opens."

 

Jessy shakes her head at all the live coverage on the tv the day the megaplex is supposed to open. The government is still frantically trying to pull their nuts from the fire and mucking it up as usual. Rupert snickers behind her as he walks into the cafeteria. "Not going to try to be one of the first hundred people there to get a free ticket?" Since they technically own the megaplex, they've got passes to get them in any movie free.

 

"Please god, don't start the damn midnight showings." Cordelia mutters as she walks into the cafeteria. Why had she started a business degree? Oh yeah, Rupert insisted.

 

"Why the hell didn't they wait until Friday night when people are off?"

 

"Because that would make sense?" One of the cooks snorts. "This way they have to find a sitter for their kids or attend a movie they can watch."

 

"Are you going into Miami?"

 

"Tomorrow." Jessy says. "Fucking mall's going to mean traffic in the area."

 

"We had to expect it, thankfully they're not directly on our road."

 

They drive off the next morning, seeing the 'grand opening' banners flapping in the breeze as they look towards the megaplex.

 

In Miami their first stop is the comic book store and Jessy snickers as she sees another flyer for the mall. "They're trying." The manager says.

 

"Oh yes, he's trying not to lose his cushy government job. He's whining because nobody's using the magnificent bank he put up, we told him that they'd just drive ten minutes into town. . .because they live there or it's on the way to their homes."

 

The manager nods. "Did you go to the magnificent grand opening of the megaplex they've been talking about on the news?"

 

"Fuuuuccccckkkkk no." Jessy shudders. "I'm not one for movies at theaters anyway and there was not way in hell I'd go somewhere on an opening day. Even out in the boondocks where we live. Especially after all the fucking hoopla on the news. Which is just going to get worse the closer to the mall being completed we get."

 

"So do you own the megaplex like you do the mall?"

 

"Yeah, everything but the bank. We own the land and they're paying us rent." Andrew says absently. "Or rather the government is paying their rent for five years. They're still praying for a miracle that will pull their fat ass out of the fire. Because if the businesses fail and we can't find a use for them. . .they gotta return everything to the way it was. So it's in their best damn interest to make sure this colossal mistake turns out well."

 

"Because god forbid they listened to people who knew what they were doing in the first place."

 

"Amen."

 

The bookstore owner smiles as he sees them walk in and start shopping. Andrew sniggers as Jessy walks to one of the chain stores like she's facing a firing squad but grabs a second cart, he probably should get some clothes of his own.

 

Many hours later they pass the megaplex on the way home, finding employees had picked up the debris left over from the banners and whatnot. There's a few cars in the restaurant with more cars in the multiplex parking lot.

 

"Maybe this won't be a fucking disaster after all." Jessy mutters as they drive past the construction and pull off onto their road.

 

"Your mouth to everybody's ears." Andrew mutters. "But if they get enough customers the traffic will be hell."

 

"They're putting in a traffic light here and we'll have a straight lane past the mess."

 

"How much land do we own?"

 

"With this newest purchase we go up nearly to the town limits. If I remember the map right the corner just before we reach town is the very end of our land. Not counting what we brought in town."

 

Andrew nods, the crews had been working on the houses all summer and true to form with the worst houses in the area well on the way to being the best houses the other homeowners were painting at the very least. Eric's father said that he had a dozen projects lined up for his people once they were done with the houses.

 

"Is Rupert still flipping houses in Miami?"

 

"Yep, he's got Wesley going to a foreclosure auction next week. Some of the houses are in pretty bad shape, but some they just got in over their heads with either buying more house than they could afford or the damn bad loans everybody talked about."

 

"Well yeah, that one show showed a house that had mortgages that was nearly twenty-five grand a month."

 

"Yeah, I remember when I thought six thousand a month mortgage was bad."

 

 

Chapter 14 by josette grover

 

Joyce nods in satisfaction when she sees bags of clothes for both of them being removed from the truck.

 

"Was there anybody there when you drove past?"

 

"Yes, there was a few cars at the restaurant and more at the megaplex. . .I expect to see more tomorrow night as people are off work."

 

"That would have made more sense than having them open on a Wednesday." Xander snorts.

 

"The government? Make sense? Ewww, how wrongidy wrong wrong." Cordelia shudders as she walks past. Everybody snickers.

 

"Have you heard about your business plans?"

 

"Yes, they were accepted and we've got appointments next month to present them. Mr. Sampson doesn't see any problems. ..after all it's what we're already doing, not like kids just out of school." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "Too many of them would pull a stunt like that moron here and since it's the government they got the money to try to fix their mistakes."

 

"But we have to be getting more customers than that." dumbass wails in DC when he gets the ticket sales from the megaplex after the first two weeks it's open.

 

"What the hell were you expecting? Sold out theaters for weeks ahead of time? It doesn't work that way boy. Not in that location."

 

"But this was supposed to be my big shot." he whines.

 

"And now it's your big flop." His boss snorts. "You're the laughingstock of the government and this whole mess is going to be going down in history as what not to do in business." He walks off to the moron's wailing.

 

"What, the moron thought people would be standing in line for hours to get in the building? It's a fucking movie theater, not the latest apple product." One of the others snorts.

 

"Yeeeesssss, fucking moron was hoping that this would magically make everything turn around and he could crow 'seee! I did know what I was doing'. That's good ticket sales for that area, but it's not good enough to suit him."

 

Cordelia sighs after she finishes her midterms. Xander is still typing but Jessy is giving the computer a level two death glare.

 

"Have you been talking to your advisor? About . . ." she makes a hand wave in the general direction of the mall, megaplex, and whatnot.

 

"Yes, this whole situation is a prime example of what not to do in business. If that moron had come up with that for a business plan he'd have been tossed out of the room on his useless little ass." Cordy sniggers softly in deference to Xander who finishes typing and puts his hands up in the air.

 

"Done?"

 

"Yep." Looking at the time they head off, it will be a couple days before their tests are graded and they can do with a break. Larry chuckles when they walk into the main house, he knows that look from the others. At least they're not guzzling coffee like Willow while cramming for tests.

 

Mail is checked and for the most part dropped into the recycling. The table of trade journals and papers is looked over and Jessy snags one to read after lunch.

 

"Has anybody seen if there's more cars at the megaplex?" Rupert asks.

 

"No, it seems to be steady. .. at least during the week. Why? Is dumbass complaining that we can't possibly be telling him the truth about ticket sales?" Jessy drawls.

 

"Yes, the fool demanded he be allowed to fly out and find out the truth and got his ass handed to him by his superiors. This is the same moron who was positive people were getting rid of responses from stores wanting spots in the mall."

 

"Because the little shit couldn't possibly have been wrong about stores flocking to the mall." Jesse snorts. "Hopefully the warehouse store will bring in more customers."

 

"That's the only thing they could have used in town, the megaplex is too damn big, same with the mall. And I don't think the bank still has any business."

 

"No, that's not true. I saw one car there the other day." Illyana calls out across the room. The others laugh.

 

Jessy takes a deep breath and gets behind the wheel of her van a few days later, passing the mall, megaplex, warehouse store, and bank on the way into town to the dollar store. There's a few more cars in the parking lots for matinees but it's early yet. Parking her car in the dollar general parking lot she grabs a cart and starts wandering the aisles. The Christmas decorations are already out and she looks at artificial trees for a while before sighing and putting two in her cart. Sniggering behind her has her swatting at Xander as he picks up one of his own.

 

"You've got the room for them." They grab boxes of lights and a couple totes before checking out.

 

"Any idea how they're handling the pay and rents?" Xander asks as he puts the containers in the back of the van.

 

"According to Rupert the government created a fund, supposedly it's got a billion plus in it after the construction. The bank just gets their rent paid but the others let somebody know how much they're paying their employees, how many employees they have, supplies and bills, how much they're giving us, and the fund gives them money monthly."

 

"Makes sense. Which the government usually doesn't."

 

"Please, if they'd just put a foot down on that fool's neck in the first place they wouldn't need the fund in the first place. Though I'd have put my foot down a lot further down, keep his stupidity from being passed on to a new generation." Xander sniggers as he puts his stuff away in one of the house's trucks he'd parked next to Jessy's van.

 

"Are you going anywhere else?"

 

"No, I'll order the rest online. K-mart has better Christmas decorations but we don't have any stores around here."

 

Jessy gets online when they return to the house, putting in her order before heading to the cafeteria.

 

"Any word on when they're going to open the warehouse store? I see they're getting in supplies." Xander asks Larry.

 

"According to all the publicity next Sunday. They're going to have free food, giveaways, all that . . ." Larry's voice trails off as a loudly cussing Jessy waves an envelope. "Oh this time I am destroying the fucking morons. No more nice girl."

 

"The casino. . .again?" Rupert snickers from the door of his office.

 

"Yep, this time they're sure they're going to get all our money."

 

"Are they stupid?" Joyce asks as she reads everything, handing it to Rupert. "Trying to force you to attend or you'll be arrested for theft? You didn't ask for the morons to pay for anything for you. if they try pressing charges they'll be laughed out of the police department."

 

"Yes, yes they are. This means I'm going to have to finish my classes early, I leave the day after we're supposed to be presenting our business plans. You know how long the damn things run so we'll have to stay in Miami overnight."

 

"It won't be that big a hardship, you can stay at the motel, Xander can take you to the airport, then bring the car back home." Jenny says calmly. "Xander, are the trees that were taken down for the construction nearly ready for you to work with?"

 

"No, they need another year to dry in the building but the wood from the trees that were knocked down in the storm are ready. The teachers at the school was out looking at everything a couple weeks ago."

 

"Are you going to be taking another degree?"

 

"Myeah." He waves a hand. "Like Jessy the teachers want to work with me on other projects. Once I'm done with the MBA. . .and no, you're not talking either of us into a doctorate. . ." he waggles a finger at Rupert who just chuckles.

 

"A-fucking-men." Jessy mutters.

 

"I'll be back to working with them summers."

 

"Are you fucking stupid? No, you can't fucking threaten them with arrest for theft if they don't go on the cruise." the casino's lawyers sigh.

 

"But why not?" the man who's still trying to be somebody with the cruises and knows this is his last chance whines.

 

"You sent all that shit out to them, they didn't ask for any of it." The lawyers snorts. "They don't have to come out to the cruise."

 

Jessy sighs as she finishes her last class, stretching in her chair and rubbing the back of her neck.

 

"Done?" Jenny asks quietly so she doesn't disturb Cordy or Xander.

 

"Yes, thank you god." Jessy walks out of the library, she can take care of everything later.

 

Jenny takes her to her home, checking her clothes for the cruise and to present her thesis.

 

Jessy mutters rude comments as she gets off the shuttle from the airport to the dock, walking on the cruise ship and demanding a different room when she finds out where she'd been placed. They try to claim there's no room but since there's not a whole lot of people checking in they finally cave and put her in a good stateroom.

 

"Move her back." the head of the gambling cruise orders when he finds out what's been done.

 

"Fuck you asswipe, there's room and she can have a better room. I don't give a shit if you don't like it. Aren't you supposed to be making them want to be on the ship?" One of the others snorts. He walks off wailing and sends off a complaint to the casino via ship to shore, being told to grow the fuck up. The other man was right.

 

"How was the cruise?" Dexter asks as she walks out of the airport.

 

"Oh god, if that moron trying to make somebody out of himself with the cruises doesn't have a nervous breakdown it's because he's drunk himself to death The first thing I did was demand a better stateroom since the ship was less than half-full. He had a fit about one of the other employees doing it, called the casino to complain and was told to grow up. Bastard watched me like a hawk, tried claiming my cane had to be hiding electronics, had it x-rayed and found it was plain wood. Had me scanned with an x-ray machine and found nothing. By then the other guests were loudly booing him and he scurried off with his tail between his legs. And that was just the first night before dinner."

 

"Good lord." Dexter murmurs as they make it out of the airport.

 

"Yeah, the bastard routinely accused me of cheating but found nothing and realized I could sue the fucker for millions for slander. He was sobbing as I played the slots and won money, went to the gaming rooms and added more money. . .everybody was cheering me on by the time the cruise was over."

 

"Does this mean no more cruises?"

 

"Yes, rumor was this was his last chance and he effed it up big time."

 

Jessy looks at the megaplex and restaurant when they drive past. "Oh, rumor is one store on board on the mall."

 

Jessy claps her hands in a 'golly gee willikers' gesture. Dexter smiles despite himself. "The cynic in me says I expect them to come running when they realize they won't be out anything for five years."

 

At the house Jenny takes her bag to do laundry as Joyce walks her to the cafeteria.

 

"The slayer of gambling cruise ships has arrived.* Jessy makes crowd roaring noises. Everybody snickers.

 

"Okay, Jessy is back. Tell us how your presentations went." Rupert looks at Xander. Both of them laugh and give thumbs up, getting hugs from everybody.

 

"Is that the end of the cruises?" Joyce asks after Jessy has eaten and told her story. Jenny had sniggered at Jessy making them give her a good stateroom.

 

"I think so, dumbass was the only person who really wanted them, the cruise line was losing money on these trips. Nobody else at the casino wanted them. . .they realized to get high rollers you have to have something they want. Not just dump them on a ship in the middle of the ocean and expect them to start gambling. That's why casinos and hotels have other stuff."

 

"And even the cheap hotels in Vegas don't offer much but you can sightsee."

 

"Amen. So Dexter says there's a store possibly on board at the mall?"

 

"Yes." The others look at Rupert. "I got the news just before Dexter left to pick Jessy up."

 

"Cynic in me says they come crawling out of the woodwork when they learn they're getting paid for everything for five years."

 

"The cynic in me agrees with the cynic in you." Rupert sighs as everybody nods.

 

"Or hire employees they don't need for the same five years then fire them once they have to pay for them."

 

"Hell, close the stores the second the five years is up."

 

"The government will have to put in clauses in the contracts to keep that from happening." Joyce says. "They're already out all this money thanks to that fool, they'll make sure something like this doesn't happen."

 

"The damn mess shouldn't have happened in the first place if the government had sense." Jessy snorts.

 

"How much money did you win?"

 

"Enough." Jessy smirks. Rupert just looks at her and she shows him a copy of the check. "Enough indeed." He drawls. "Already deposited?"

 

"Damn straight, I'm not leaving that kind of check in my purse."

 

In her house after putting away her laundry she updates her money program, puts the receipt with everything for the house's accounts for her taxes, and heads directly to bed.

 

Jessy stumbles into the cafeteria the next morning. The cooks laugh and put a tray in front of her.

 

"So what are your plans?" Xander and Cordy are taking their finals.

 

"Finals and take care of everything I left in the library before I left. Tomorrow I'm going into town with Andrew. After Thanksgiving and putting up decorations the three of us gotta sign up for next semester's classes, get our books, and Xander and I will be sign up for graduation."

 

"Did you get out your order?"

 

"Faith took care of it since I had to cram in the classes for that damn cruise." Jessy covers her mouth and belches. "We're spoiled by you guys, the food on the ship was absolute crap. . .and yes, it wasn't just my opinion."

 

"Did you eat at the captain's table?"

 

"No, I was banned from that honor for daring to demand a better room out of them."

 

"Ooohhh la la." One of them drawls. "I guess that shows you."

 

"Oh yes, I should have been gutted. Like I gave a shit about the 'honor' of sitting at that table. I could tell when somebody looked into my background and realized how much I was worth, the smug asshat's face absolutely fell and the captain's face turned pure white. Since that was the morning we were pulling back into dock, there went the option of trying to suck up to me. I smirked evilly at them and walked away."

 

The cooks chuckle. Good on her.

 

Opening the library door quietly Jessy finds Cordy and Xander tapping on the keyboards. Her books are in bags and she quietly turns on her computer, signing in and taking her tests. Joyce taps her shoulder and she holds up a hand in a five minute gesture, finishing that final before breaking for lunch.

 

Her story about the captain of the ship and moron is laughed at by everybody at lunch, the general concensus is serves the morons right.

 

"Are you done?" Larry asks when she comes into the main house, grabbing her mail and leafing through it. Most of it goes in the recycling bin with the rest being slid in her bags with her textbooks.

 

"Yes, thank god. I hate having to rush my tests but with that fucking cruise it couldn't be helped."

 

"Did you go through your mail last night?" Rupert asks as she walks into the cafeteria.

 

"Nope, I went right to bed. Even in a better stateroom the damn beds weren't comfortable. I knew if there was anything important you'd have told me."

 

"That was probably their point, if you can't sleep because of an uncomfortable bed. . .you'll gamble instead." Joyce snorts. Everybody laughs and nods.

 

In her house Jessy sorts through her mail, tossing most of it into the recycling bin unopened.

 

"But I didn't know she was rich." Dumbass wails in Vegas the day after the cruise as the casino employees who'd been on the cruise complain about how he'd treated that one passenger. "If I'd known. . ."

 

"You'd have given her a good room in the first place and been her personal assistant the entire cruise." One of the others snorts. He'd done that for another 'bigshot'. He ducks his head and finally nods.

 

"What the hell were you doing doing a background check on her anyway?"

 

"I was trying to prove she was a professional gambler and have her removed from the cruise." he finally says. "She was only invited because she won that big jackpot last year."

 

"MORON!! Gamblers are our bread and butter, we don't toss tbem out the door."

 

"But she got a better room and I didn't want her to have it. They," he hisses at the others. "Wouldn't pack her up while she was at dinner the first night and move her back with the others." His boss rounds on him again and the others shake their heads as they leave the meeting room.

 

"Is the gambling cruise line dead?"

 

"Yeah, and so will that moron if the boss gets his way. Stupid fucker hated this young woman the entire trip, accusing her of cheating and trying to get her removed from the better room she'd requested."

 

"Why?"

 

"Because he's an asshat." One of the others drawls. "Little fucker tried getting me in trouble with the bosses for giving it to her. Moron banned her from the captain's table for getting a better room. .. then had the ship's purser do a background check on her, trying to find she was a professional gambler and have her removed from the cruise ship, moron was gutted when he found out she's a billionaire."

 

"Serves the moron right, I still don't believe you were passed over for that promotion in favor of him. All he's done is screw up."

 

"Yeeessss, but then he's the son of a big shot and I work for a living." he drawls. The man who'd chosen the other guy for the job winces as they walk away. Maybe he shouldn't have bowed to pressure and gave the job to the man who deserved it after all. Going into his office he looks over the other man's file, silently handing it over when dumbass goes wailing past.

 

"How the hell did he get the job?" His boss asks after looking over the file.

 

"His father caused a fuss and I had to give it to him instead."

 

"Well call him in and tell him the job is his. He's packing up his office and will be gone by the end of the day. I'm sure his daddy will complain but he's a fucking moron too. And I'll tell him that when he comes blustering into the casino."

 

"Banders, come to my office." He says as he tracks him down. His boss hurries up. "Is he in trouble?"

 

"Nope, he's getting that promotion he should have got last year. I apologize for giving it to that moron instead of you, his Daddy. . ." his voice trails off as he comes rushing into the casino. "Insisted his loser son get the job instead and all he's done is screw up."

 

"He being demoted?"

 

"He's been fired. You know the fool wouldn't settle for a lesser job. Do you have anybody who can take over for him?"

 

"Yep." He turns to his assistant. "Get me Cyndi."

 

"Tell her to come to my office after lunch to make out the paperwork." The moron's father grabs his shoulder and he brings back a fist, making the other man gulp. "Don't ever put your hands on me again." He quickly backs up as security hustles over, along with his boss who starts telling him just why his precious son got the sack.

 

Thanksgiving is noisy at the House, people talking across the tables. Jessy had gotten a call and letter apologizing for the actions of the casino's former employee and she's preening in het seat. Rupert is torn between laughing and feeling like he should be chiding her. But the moron had brought it on himself by treating her like garbage, he'd just targeted the wrong person. Moron had tried suing her but had been laughed out of the lawyer's office, being told it was his own damn fault for being a bullying asshole. He'd run off wailing when he found out he couldn't sue the casino for wrongful termination either and was gutted, absolutely gutted because he couldn't make people do what he wanted anymore.

 

The day after Thanksgiving the Christmas decorations start going up and Jessy waves a hand at the boxes for the new Christmas trees, they fly out of the boxes and assemble themselves, They look better than the photo on the boxes that real human beings can never reproduce she thinks as she walks out the door.

 

Chapter 15 by josette grover

 

 

Xander, Jessy, and Cordy come back from picking up their books for the next semester, sorting out what they'd got at the office supply store between them. They smile at Mr. Murdock, Cordy grinning and heading off as he takes first Xander, then Jessy into the office to go over their finances.

 

"Huh, I knew I was getting up there but. . ." Jessy looks over her her records.

 

"Yes, with all the new construction around the country you've hit the hundred billion dollar mark."

 

"No wonder the little fool was so horrified on the cruise, I knew I was well over eighty billion." Jessy sniggers.

 

"Oh yes, and it's just going to go up from there. Now, that construction on the way out here?" Jessy, Rupert, and Xander tell the entire story and he shakes his head. "That's the government for you. Waste money on their pet projects then wail when they don't amount to anything."

 

The last trip to the mall in Miami is packed and Jessy shows the latest video of the area to the comic book store manager as they wander the shelves. "I'm surprised, I wouldn't have thought you'd be getting this much business."

 

"As opposed to the moron in the government who was expecting everybody to descend on them. Because he built the mall. Because he's all that." Jessy drawls. Andrew laughs as they get ready to check out.

 

Jessy slumps in a seat in the main building when they return from Miami long long long hours later. "Mall a madhouse?"

 

"Yes, full of screaming kids and parents who want to scream too." Jessy says sourly. Joyce sniggers. "Andrew?"

 

"Yes?" Andrew looks over from checking his mail.

 

"Mr. Stark plans on opening a location in the area. He wonders if you'd like to work for him." He looks at Rupert who grins. "You'd still be living and working here, it's going up on the other side of Marley with construction starting next spring." He puts up a map on the wall, pointing the area where it's going to be located. "We've brought land between Marley and Stanley for condos and want to put up more in the area."

 

Jessy stretches, yawns, and traces an area with the cap of a pen. "I've been looking at this area with the thought of condos. You'll want to talk to the mayor though."

 

"I'd planned on letting him know in a couple days." Rupert says.

 

"Well, I guess we don't have to worry about the mall anymore." Xander snorts as he walks past. Everybody chuckles. "Xander, you'll have an order for some furniture probably year after next when they're close to opening." Xander nods as Jessy sorts through her mail. She reads a letter and then hands it over to Joyce. "A letter from the captain of the cruise ship, apologizing for listening to the abject stupidity of that moron and not giving me all the attention a passenger of my standing deserved. Which includes inviting me to dine at the captain's table at least once during the trip. He'd like to offer all those if I choose to take another cruise on his ship." Jenny rolls her eyes and Jessy nods. "Your name isn't Merril Stubing and that ain't the Love Boat."

 

"Next year we're going to disney world and then on a disney cruise." Rupert says. Jessy roundly cusses him out, the others laughing.

 

The cooks smile as the truck that had gone to the kitchen store in Miami pulls up to the cafeteria, Scott opening the back of the truck as one of the cooks gets out of the passenger seat and starts listing off items as they take it out of the truck. They'd needed a lot of non-food supplies and rather than ordering online they'd made a special trip into Miami to go to a high-end kitchen supply store.

 

"I got five different knife sets so we can test them all out before we decide which ones we want to buy." The head cook for the day shift nods in satisfaction.

 

Jessy yawns as she sits down to breakfast the next morning, it's raining like they'd been predicting and it makes her sleepy. But since she doesn't have to do anything she'll just yawn and if she wants a nap in the afternoon. . .meh. Who's going to tell her she can't?

 

"Isn't your order for the seamstress shops due today?"

 

Rupert, that's who.

 

She cusses him again and everybody sniggers. "You can have a nap after the fabric is inside."

 

Jesse and Faith pull the awning out over the back of the truck with a snap as the truck backs into position, fabric and other supplies being moved bucket brigade style into the back of the seamstress shop. Nearly two hours later the truck pulls off and Jessy waves the other one off with thanks, hand waving a few things before she shuts the building up. Putting up the umbrella she heads off to the library to find something to read for a couple hours.

 

In his office Rupert looks over the receipts for supplies. "Larry?" He asks in a calm voice.

 

Larry sniggers in the outer office so maybe he wasn't so calm after all. "If it's the body paint, beads, and other jewelry Madison is due back in the states after the first of the year."

 

"Ahhhh, so we can expect him to come and ask everybody to put on body paint again, either for his sessions or for another book." Rupert puts the receipt down and looks at the copy of the books on the shelf in his office. He's not the only author who uses the House for his inspiration, just the only one who is also a photographer.

 

Even Jessy has laid out for one of the photography sessions.

 

Jessy comes into the cafeteria a few hours later.

 

"Get your nap?" Andrew chuckles.

 

"No." she grumbles. "Meany bully." she pouts at Rupert who smirks at her.

 

Rupert looks at the containers of fruit that had been harvested from the trees on their property, he knows that the kids will have taken what they want while they were harvesting.

 

"Rupert, the mayor's on the phone. Line one." Larry says over the intercom. Walking to the phone, Rupert gives him the news. . .holding the phone away from his ear at the yell.

 

He's at the House twenty minutes later, looking over the planned construction sites. "Yes, there's no problems rezoning those areas and you have a good reason for wanting it changed instead of people who think they're all that. Like that fool continually calling my office and wailing that I can't be doing enough to get the mall full. I hang up on the fool, the third time I called his boss and he blistered the twerp's ass."

 

Jessy snickers as she walks through, a knitting bag on her arm as she checks her mail. Rupert looks at her. "Projects for one of the new degrees the school in New York want me to make. They sent out boxes of stuff for me to work on." he nods in satisfaction as the mayor snickers. Even in the middle of winter in Florida it's still in the eighties. When they don't have a cold rain making it feel colder.

 

Christmas comes and goes and the others begin arriving back at the House. Cordy grumbles the first day of the new semester, glaring at Xander. "You two are looking at the end of your classes, I got two more years after this."

 

"Buffalo crap, you really think Rupert's not going to start dropping hints about us going for doctorates?" Jessy snorts. "Oz is already looking at other degrees. . .with Rupert's help." Cordy sniggers. Then sighs. "He's making sure we have other options as we grow older. . ."

 

"He'd never allow you to become like those poor people that have to sell themselves until they die." Jessy says calmly. Both of them nod. Jessy sighs as she turns on her computer, one more semester. The door opens and Amanda struts into the room, grabbing Jessy by the collar and pulling her from the chair.

 

"Come on, I gotta start these damn classes. Bad enough I'm going to be missing classes this afternoon cause I got a doctor's appointment."

 

"You're sitting in the library bitching about those damn classes and you'll be back in plenty of time. Rupert says your appointment is here at the house, not in Miami." She pulls her away and touches her sword, her ship appearing and pulling the younger woman inside.

 

"No Dr. Phil. . .I have no intention of ever seeing my mother again. I do not care if she claims she was an abused woman in fear of her life, she chose to listen to my father's bigoted rants. She has made no effort to contact me since I left home, not even after he wrote me wailing that they were going to lose their home because my brother was in prison from selling drugs and my sister was an unwed mother. He didn't want me, he just wanted my money. I tossed his letters in the garbage where they belonged. It was only after he was arrested for trying to hire somebody to kill me because I wouldn't give him money did she leave him. . .because her good name was ruined now. . .she couldn't hold her head up around town anymore."

 

In his office Dr. Phil winces, this is a far cry from the begging letter his mother had wrote his people.

 

"Your siblings?"

 

"My brother's in prison for selling drugs. . .not that either of my parents would believe he'd be involved in that. My sister was part of a shoplifting ring while her daughter is in daycare. So no Dr. Phil, this is nothing more than another attempt to get money out of me."

 

"Your mother might have changed."

 

"She would have tried to contact me first if she was really interested in getting back in my life. This is nothing but a bid for attention. As was her drinking while I was growing up, her spending sprees, her crying jags that would last for days, and her so-called suicide attempts. If you want to know the truth about my parents, contact my Aunt Angie Mendez. . .her number is . . ."

 

In her office Angie Mendez leans back in her chair and laughs nastily when Dr. Phil calls her. "So, she's back to her poor poor pitiful me crying? Doesn't surprise me at all. Little bitch got away with everything doing that growing up. Mommy and Daddy would make it allllll better for her. Now she's got you trying to wipe her nose and kiss her ass."

 

"You don't think she really wants to reconnect with her son?"

 

"Hell no, she's just expecting you to take care of her like everybody else does. You'll have to make her miserable son take care of her after you give her an all expenses paid vacation at one of your spa. . .errr treatment centers. Because she's tired of having to be a human being who has a job and pays her own bills and not some pampered princess."

 

"Her son?"

 

"Healthy, happy, and well rid of the stupid bitch. He's got a good job and good friends thanks to that job."

 

Jessy walks into the main house at lunch, Rupert shaking his head. He can see by the way she's walking that Amanda gave her some training. Settling down she eats a good meal and takes a golf cart to the medical center.

 

"Quit smiling, I hate cheerful people." House grumps. Jessy just smiles again and he walks off grumbling.

 

In her home a few days later Larry's mother wails as she gets a letter saying Dr. Phil was no longer interested in her story. How can they do that to her.. ..? she wails as she slumps to the floor. He .. . he has to make her son take care of her. Don't they know she'll just die if she has to work and pay her own bills anymore?

 

Jessy and Larry drive into Miami a few days later, their first step is the comic book store.

 

"No Mr. Wells?"

 

"He's busy talking with the man he worked a couple summers in New York. He's building a branch outside Marley."

 

The manager smiles and brings out their regular orders as Jessy looks over the shelves.

 

"Are you nearly done with your schooling?"

 

"This is my last semester, thank you gods." Larry and the store manager snigger.

 

"Anywhere else?"

 

"Not me, we brought the big truck in for you and what we're buying for the House." Jessy says. "I'm not buying books or fabric for a couple months." Jessy looks out at the rain the wipers are barely keeping up with. "This is supposed to be another bad year." The wind is whipping and cold air is coming around the doorhandle by Jessy's elbow and she pulls her light jacket closer. Larry turns the heat up as he looks over his list. Jessy looks over and makes a couple notes. "It means backtracking a little but it gets the biggest stuff on first." Larry nods and starts the truck going into the street.

 

"Huh, I didn't know about this place." Jessy gets out of the truck. .. Larry snickering as she walks to a store when they're parked.

 

Several long hours later they arrive back at the House after having a late dinner in Miami. Jessy grabs hers and Andrew's purchases, dropping his inside his door and handing him the receipts as they walk into the main house.

 

"I stopped a couple other places I found after we hit the comic book store, there's a couple other receipts. . .if you don't want it I'll pay you for them."

 

"What?" Jessy lists off items and Andrew just grins. "Bless you for knowing my collection as well as you know yours. Did you get that stuff too?"

 

"Yup, and a few extras. . .my wallet's going to be a little slim for a few weeks as I replace all that money." Everybody around them guffaws. Larry is going over everything he brought with the head of maintenance and he nods.

 

"Are we caulking windows?"

 

"Yes, and the shops are nearly done making heavy curtains for all the windows. When the weather is nicer they can be put up until they're needed again." Rupert says. "Caulking all the windows won't take too long, The shutters are steel, not wood so they shouldn't need replacing."

 

"No, if they were damaged they'd have been replaced. .. probably along with the window and wall." Rupert chuckles. "Start a list of buildings to work on, the main buildings can be done at night while homes are worked on during the day so they can sleep at night."

 

Sooner than she would have thought Jessy is taking her midterms. A couple days after that Andrew drives her into Miami with the truck, stopping at the motel and running inside to reserve a couple rooms for the next two nights since they're going to be in Miami at least three days. They visit the comic book and other stores Jessy had found, the clerk chuckling as Andrew walks into the store and drops to his knees in thanks. He's not the only one to have done it. Jessy opens her cart and starts filling it, Andrew bringing over his purchases and they put the bags in the back of the truck.

 

A couple days later they arrive back at the House, Andrew pulling up behind the seamstress shop and maintenance moving the bolts of fabric and other supplies into the back of the building. The library is the next stop and boxes and bags are moved in there, finally their personal purchases being taken into their homes. . .Andrew had moved into a house of his own out of his apartment after he'd started seriously collecting.

 

"Larry, how many empty apartments do we have?" Rupert asks in his office.

 

"Five, with another three that has one person living in it." Larry says automatically from the outer room. "We're looking at two opening up this year, Paige wants to move into her own house since she's got all that stuff her mother sent out before the fire. That would open up an apartment, maybe two since Jay and Sam are looking at their own homes now. Xander wants to be closer to his workbuilding, and Oz is looking at more space too. They haven't decided one way or the other though if they're going to look at land and have houses built.”

 

"What about the other Houses?"

 

"We're the only one who have most of the people living on the grounds, the others had their own homes before they joined the Houses." Rupert nods. "Their apartments are less than a quarter full, they have room for years."

 

"So did we in the beginning, when we built the other houses I planned ahead."

 

Jessy and Andrew walk into the main house, checking their mail. "Jessy, you got a couple packages in the closet." Larry calls out his door.

 

"Thank you Larry." she calls as she opens the closet and puts it in the cart she'd brought into the main building and puts the packages in the bottom after moving the bags. Grabbing her mail she sorts through it and drops most of it into the recycling bin unopened, Andrew doing the same thing.

 

"When's your comicon?"

 

"Next weekend." Andrew says as Jessy walks to the supply closet and gets a few things, writing it down. Jenny looks at her. "They were out at the mall and I didn't feel like either waiting as they ran in back to look, looked through the cart of boxes they were shelving, or making Andrew run other places. Not when I knew we had it here." Jenny nods in satisfaction. "As it is, we stopped at the warehouse store and stocked up on stuff on the way home."

 

"I wouldn't have thought it but having the store out here is convenient."

 

"Any word on the mall?"

 

"We've got a couple more stores firmly on board and more looking over the premises. It's due to open around the fourth of July now so parents can do their back to school shopping."

 

"Kids trick or treating at the stores, Christmas . ."

 

"Yep."

 

"Is the construction nearly done?"

 

"For the most part, they're holding off on the food court until they have the restaurants so they can put in the kitchens. They've got a list of people interested, they're going to be looking over the mall the next few weeks."

 

Wednesday the following week Andrew and Jessy are dropped off at the airport, both of them picking up food at the fast food places before settling in at their gates, both of them on their laptops until their flight is announced and Andrew helps Jessy into her seat before taking his own.

 

Nearly a week later they arrive back at the House, Dexter and Horatio chuckling at the 'haven't eaten a full meal or slept in nearly a week' haze both of them are in. They're led to the cafeteria and devour everything placed in front of them before being led to their homes.

 

Jessy yawns as she walks into the main building, grabbing her rubber band wrapped mail from the cubby and opening the closet since Joyce is pointing at it. Bringing out her packages she puts them in the cart and heads to the cafeteria.

 

"How are you on classes?" Joyce asks after Jessy's eaten a tray of food and drank a cup of coffee.

 

"Ahead of Xander, I got in extras since I knew I'd be gone most of a week and even now there's now way in hell I'd be able to concentrate on them. I'll start again next week." Pulling off the rubber band she starts sorting through the mail, the junk going into the nearest recycling bin.

 

"Prom dresses?"

 

"Done and they'll start ordering graduation outfits soon. I'm heading into Miami tomorrow with Jesse. . .yes, he already volunteered. . .he was waiting outside my house when I came out to ask if I was heading into Miami. This way we're not tying up two vehicles." Rupert nods in satisfaction as he walks into the cafeteria.

 

"When will you be getting your collar for the MBA?"

 

"If it's anything like the other one in a few weeks."

 

Jesse pulls up in front of an electronics store the next day after they've stopped a couple places for Jessy. He'd made a couple purchases himself at a few of the places, making mental notes to make another trip in in a couple of weeks.

 

Back at the house they check through the mail and look through the table of catalogs the House gets, there's a computer by the table they can use for orders.

 

"Are they clearing land for Stark's new facility?" Larry asks as he walks out of the office.

 

"Yeah, I saw the vehicles as we were getting on the interstate." Jesse says. "Any idea how long they figure it will take?"

 

"Supposed to be opening the beginning of next year." Andrew says as he walks in the building. "I'm due to start working as soon as my section is finished. Have they strarted on the condos yet?"

 

"Yes, and the houses in town are finished. I don't know how many people want to transfer from New York. . ." Jessy looks at Andrew.

 

"About a dozen according to Mr. Stark, who was very happy to find out we're already putting up housing."

 

"It's cheaper than in Manhattan, that's for damn sure." Jessy mutters. "Are they having intern housing here too?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"I'm done." Jessy breathes a couple months later when she finishes her last final. "I'm actually fucking done."

 

"Until Rupert gets his way again." Cordelia chuckles softly in deference to Xander.

 

"Don't even think about that." Both of them mutter nearly in unison as Xander finishes his last question, taking a deep breath and whooping.

 

 

Chapter 16 by josette grover

 

Jessy waits at the airport in New York for the teachers from the school.

 

"How was your trip?" One of the teachers asks when they find her in one of the restaurants. Jessy just looks at her and she snickers. "At least we won't have to deal with morons wanting us to gamble in Santa Fe."

 

Jessy laughs and tells everybody about the gambling cruise ship trips and they sigh, moan, or shake their heads.

 

"How's the mall going?" One of the teachers asks as they get on the plane.

 

"Pretty good, once the first store came on board after the megaplex and warehouse store opened they started getting more interest from stores. Stark building in the area just brought more stores looking. They plan on opening for the 4th so they'll have back to school shopping." The teachers snicker. "Are you sorry to be missing it?"

 

"Fuuucckkkk no. You couldn't force me to go somewhere the first day it opens, it will be asshole to elbow people. . .almost as bad as the malls in the middle of December. I won't go any later. . .gods people would it kill you to buy the damn presents throughout the year."

 

"Bu. . .but if you do that you'll miss the next big thing they bring out." One of the teachers mock-blubbers then snorts. "Yeah, we do the same thing. We put up a tree. . ."

 

"In the main building after Thanksgiving. We've already pulled names for gifts though most of us will buy more."

 

"Same here, like us you've become family with your coworkers." the pilot tells them they're next to take off and they check their seat belts.

 

A week later Jessy walks into the cafeteria at the New York House. "Thank you whoever dropped off the car for me."

 

"How was Santa fe?"

 

"Nice, I did a lot of sightseeing after the expo. The city is magnificent, they really take care to keep the ambiance of the old buildings and still be a growing city."

 

"As opposed to other cities that tear down their old buildings and put up cookie-cutter buildings that look awful and don't fit into the area at all." El snorts.

 

"Yep. Miami is a prime example. Horatio's lab building was all glitz and glamour to bring people to the area and was destroyed in the hurricane, when they rebuilt it they went for function and not style."

 

"Nobody goes to a precinct to look at the architecture." Peter says dryly. "That's why they make government buildings plain."

 

"Yep."

 

Jessy settles in an armchair in her home in New York, closing her eyes and relaxing for a couple minutes. Her books for the classes she'll be taking this summer, the projects for the classes she'll be taking this summer, her pay stubs. .. and she's stunned to find out she's a full-time employee, not seasonal, and information on the school's benefits including the 401K. She scowls up at the ceiling when she sees university catalogs, degrees that can go with her current degrees already marked. Opening the boxes she starts sorting everything out before looking at the time and heading to bed.

 

"Okay, what's our charity projects this year?" One of the teachers asks a couple weeks later.

 

"Hats and socks. Woolease since the homeless shelters won't have a way to handwash wool and lay it out to dry." They nod and start making notes. "The order is going out next week, that way we have the yarn by mid-August and can start knitting. With the machines we can quickly get them out." The others nod.

 

"How is Ms. Michaels coming on projects?"

 

"Good, she got a year's worth of projects in while we were putting up new buildings and she's well on her way to getting a year of projects in again.

 

Joyce sends her video footage of the opening of the mall, she sends it to Peter and a couple of the teachers at the school.

 

"I'm surprised there were that many stores for such an . .."

 

"The news that Stark is opening a branch there made more stores interested in that location. Add in the hoopla over the 4th of July..." Jessy shrugs. "I'll probably check it out once I get back but. . .meh." the others snigger as Jessy opens a file on the computer and starts taking a test.

 

Jessy rolls her eyes as she gets on a plane for an expo to Atlantic City. "Yes Rupert, I'm heartbroken at missing the fancy party at the house here in New York because of this expo." The others snigger. "Yes, I do know there's casinos in Atlantic City. No, I doubt I'll try to bankrupt a casino while I'm out there, unless the moron is working at one and then all bets are off."

 

She listens a second. "Yes Rupert, it's not their fault if they hired that moron. I'll stay away from the gaming tables and concentrate on the slot machines if I go to a casino. But if he is there and tries something, I'll throw such a fit." She ends the call and puts the phone away before the plane is shut up and the pilot gets in the cockpit.

 

"He called just to tease you about visiting a casino?"

 

Jessy smiles sadly. "It's my birthday. He always wishes me a happy birthday since my father died."

 

"My dear. . .you need to think about your future. Do you have a retirement fund set up?" The school's finance man says when they return to the school after the expo.

 

"Yes, Rupert made sure all of us do. I have ... " Jessy pretends to think a minute. "Roughly a hundred thousand in a 401K, another seventy-five thousand. . .give or take in a Roth IRA."

 

"That's low for a 401K. Do you have any CDs?"

 

"Yes, I put the insurance money and settlements from California and the owners of the truck from the accidents in one. It's currently a five year CD, I didn't need the money right away. It's already rolled over once and it will probably roll over a couple more times before I even think of touching it."

 

"I'd suggest enrolling in the 401K here, it's extra money when you retire." Jessy fills out the paperwork.

 

"Travers?"

 

"My real last name, Michaels is my grandmother's maiden name."

 

"Did you legally change your name?"

 

"No, all my paperwork shows both names. Entertainers do it all the time. So do authors." He nods and starts processing the paperwork. "Is this your local address?"

 

"Yes. And the address in Hurricane Springs."

 

They go over the new 401K and how much more money weekly will be coming out of her check before she is dragged off to the cafeteria for a meal before heading to the House.

 

The yarn for the school's charity project starts arriving and the machines start running, the teachers shaking their heads when Jessy insists on doing her part.

 

The remaining weeks fly by and soon Jesse is tapping a yawning Jessy on the shoulder. She just looks at him. "I was in town buying stuff and volunteered to pick you up."

 

The cart is just lifted into the back of the truck and Jessy gets in the passenger side. They finally get out of the airport and she looks at the new construction when they arrive in Marley.

 

"How is the mall doing?"

 

"Good, the moron who wanted the mall tried backing off on the fund when they found out about Stark moving into the area but his boss told him he wasn't getting off that damn easy."

 

"Figures the little bastard would try something like that." Jessy snorts. "As long as it looks like it's going good, forget everything but reaping the rewards."

 

"Yes, he got his ass handed to him for that bout of stupidity."

 

They arrive back at the house, Scott and MacGyver chuckling as they lift down the cart and take it to Jessy's house while she walks into the main house. Larry brings out her mail and she shakes her head at the containers. "Crap, crap, crap, more crap, still more crap, and even more crap?"

 

Larry sniggers. "Probably." It heads off to her house as she opens the medical box and brings out a package of alka-seltzer, opening a bottle of water and dropping them in a glass. Covering her mouth with her arm she belches after draining the glass. "Ahhh, that feels better. I've had a sour stomach all day." Joyce sniggers as she walks over, hugging Jessy and then holding her at arm length. "I like the new hairstyle."

 

"Yeah, the ladies at the spa in New York just made tut-tut sounds and went to work. I'm not sure I like it though. Maybe for special occasions. I'm not a fussing person, it's put it up out of my eyes and I'm good."

 

Jessy and Joyce walk into the cafeteria.

 

"How are you on your classes in New York?"

 

"I'm working on three degrees." Xander laughs. "I'm working on projects for two more duing the summers."

 

Back at her house she puts up her paperwork from her new 401K with the other financial stuff and drops melodramatically onto her bed. From the door of her bedroom Rupert chuckles. "I understand you opened a new 401K?"

 

"Yes, their financial manager thinks only having a hundred thousand in this one was a little low. I need to think about my future." They both snigger. "Everything's in my drawer for our accountants to go over when it's taxtime."

 

"How do you get your pay?"

 

"I opened an account at the bank nearest the school and they direct deposit it into that, they send the paystubs here monthly."

 

The next couple days are spent going through the mail, most of it junk as Jessy had said. Andrew and Jessy go into Miami, the clerks and managers of the stores grinning at Jessy as she picks up everything that Andrew had had them holding for her. The mall is next and they eat a late dinner before going to the motel. The next day they go to the fabric warehouse, filling the rest of the room in the truck before they head back to the House, sighing once they're past the traffic by the mall.

 

The truck is eventually emptied and they walk into the main building. Xander wrapping an arm around Jessy's shoulders.

 

"Feel weird not having to sign up for classes or get books and other supplies?"

 

"No." She says firmly. He snickers again. "And I did get stuff at the office supply store for the library. Is Cordy taking classes at the school now?"

 

"Most of them, she's going in three days and taking the rest here on the computer." Larry says absently. "Jessy, closet." She opens it and looks at the packages, sighing.

 

"The New York school?"

 

"Yep."

 

"Didn't you bring back a shitload of stuff with you?"

 

"Yep." Speed snickers as he takes it to her house. Meanwhile Jessy is busy sorting through her mail, dropping most of it into the recycling bin unopened.

 

"Jessy, did you get your medication?"

 

"Yeah, and stopped to the store in town to get money orders." Sitting at a table she makes them out to various charities and drops them in the outgoing mail box.

 

"Fabric Warehouse?"

 

"Next week."

 

Halloween costumes and decorations start coming out in stores after a few weeks and Jessy comes into the house from a trip to Miami with Andrew and Jesse to find Madison with drawings.

 

"Fuck, that means a trip to the spa and getting sugared everywhere." She says at his look. The boys snigger.

 

"Can I talk you into dyeing your hair? Only temporary. . .it will come out after a few washes."

 

A few days later Jessy looks at herself in the mirror. . .she looks strange as a brunette she thinks as she takes off her robe and lays on the table to be painted.

 

Halloween comes and she dresses in her costume. . looking like one of those goth kids you see at the malls. Fake piercings and tattoos complete the look and after eating breakfast at her house she gets in her car and drives into Miami.

 

The new mall is her last stop that day and she walks up to Joyce. The woman gives her a look then blinks. "Jessy." She says, tapping a foot and just looking at her. Wesley is near her, blinks, and takes a picture with his phone.

 

"I knew you'd recognize me even in this getup." she chuckles.

 

"Your hair's getting a little faded." She puts a lock of hair in place.

 

"Yeah, one more shampoo and I should be back to my normal hair color."

 

Back home Jessy struts into the cafeteria, the others moaning or laughing.

 

"Hit the mall in Miami?" Andrew snickers.

 

"Yes, and got security after me three times until somebody realized it's Halloween and like a bunch of other poeple there. . .I was in costume." she drawls. "Sneaked up on Speed at the bookstore and tormented him until he just gave me a level three Horatio look and I laughed. The others were at the mall and he sicced me on them." Everybody laughs. "The stores were having parties and I popped in on them. . parents who were there with their kids started pulling them away from me until the managers laughed and took pictures. The kids knew I was in a costume and just gave their parents 'quit embarrassing me' looks." More snickering.

 

Jessy stands under the hot water of her shower, the colors of the body paint and fake tattooes she'd put on running down her body along with the shampoo and body wash. Turning off the water she looks in the mirror and nods in satisfaction, drying off and dressing in a nightgown, running a comb through her hair after she rouhly towel dries it. She'd brought in everything she brought before she went into the main house and starts opening bags.

 

A couple weeks later Andrew, Jesse, and Jessy make their regular trip into Miami, the managers of the store chuckling at her usual look. "Yeah, I don't normally celebrate halloween but they were having a special thing at the mall nearby so I thought. . the hell with it. . .do it. I already had that stuff in my hair for a photo shoot. . ."

 

"Yeah, everybody was doing double-takes even though we knew it was Jessy." Andrew snickers.

 

Thanksgiving comes sooner than she would have thought and she sends off a box of hats and socks she'd made to the school in New York, getting thank yous but you didn't have to messages from the others.

 

Christmas is quiet, everybody hugging Jay, Sam, and Paige since this is the first Christmas since they lost their family. Sam Winchester gets his share of attention since while this isn't the first Christmas without his father and brother it is the first one since their murderer had been put in prison.

 

A couple days later Rupert calls Paige into his office, going over the plans for her new home that will be built that year.

 

"Thank you Rupert. I know it will get easier but . .."

 

"You never quite get over the loss of a parent, especially as close as you were. You not only lost both your parents far too young, you lost your younger siblings. I won't even pretend to know why your mother sent all this . . ."

 

"Mama knew when things were going to happen. She says it was something in our bloodline but she was very happy none of us seemed to have it. She knew when she and the others were going to die, she wrote it all in the family bible she sent off in the last batch of stuff before the fire." Sam says quietly, wrapping an arm around Paige, who turns and shudders against his shoulder. "Things had been looking up at home too. The money from the settlement was coming in, our youngest brother was attending school all day, and Mama had a part-time job sewing in the next town. Thank you for paying for the funerals. . there was no way the town could have raised enough money for six coffins and everything else."

 

Jessy walks into the fashion building on the college campus a couple days before the new semester, walking through it with one of the teachers there.

 

"Yes, it's not quite like the main school but for the students we get it works." One of the teachers chuckles. They walk into a room and find piles of uniforms. Jessy looks at her, this room had been locked and the window shades were drawn.

 

"I'm sure you heard about how departments put worn out uniforms in a room. . .?"

 

"And somebody decided to make bears out of them for kids? Yes, that's what you're doing here?"

 

"Yes, it's slow work but once we get everything torn apart we'll be quickly putting them together."

 

Jessy sighs and brings out a bag. "Load me up, I'll either bring back the torn apart uniforms or the bears in a couple weeks." The other women chuckle and fill a bag with uniforms and a pattern for her. Polyfill is handed over next and Jessy puts everything in the seat of the truck next to her before making her other stops.

 

“Jessy?" Rupert asks a couple nights later when he finds her at the sewing machine after the shop is closed for the night. She looks up from what she's doing and tells him what's going on. He nods in satisfaction and lets her work. Tapping on an office door a few nights later she smiles and hands over the bears.

 

"Thank you Ms. Michaels." The bears are put in a large bag and Jessy picks up more supplies. A few days later one of the teachers drops off the first batch of bears at the precincts.

 

Jessy looks over the shops the day before girls start coming in for prom dresses, it's neat and clean, there's plenty of supplies, and piles of flat containers ready to be filled with supplies for dresses.

 

A week or so later Jessy drives to the fabric warehouse, Paige and Hannah filling flatbed carts.

 

"Is that everything?" Rupert asks as maintenance empties the truck.

 

"Most of it, I'll order the rest later tonight."

 

A few weeks later Jessy is very quiet and Rupert hugs her when she comes into the main building.

 

"This is the anniversary of her father's murder. . .isn't it?" Phillip asks quietly as she walks off.

 

"Yes, fifteen years ago today. While he might have been a miserable bastard. . ."

 

"He was still her father."

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