Oh dear god, Now what? by josette grover
Summary:

Life at Sunnydale House might be several things, boring is never one of them.


Categories: Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other TV, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Dr Who, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > CSI/NCIS, Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other Movie Characters: None
Genres: AU
Warnings: Cute Kid
Challenges: None
Series: Sunnydale House of Erotic Fantasies
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 76855 Read: 9437 Published: 2019.12.20 Updated: 2019.12.20

1. Chapter 1 by josette grover

2. Chapter 2 by josette grover

3. Chapter 3 by josette grover

Chapter 1 by josette grover

 

Arthur is hugged by Mona when he walks into the house.

 

“Is everything okay?”

 

“It's just been a bad few weeks, some fool at Princeton got a wild hair up his ass about students not measuring up to his standards and went looking through files trying to find excuses to get them expelled.”

 

“And Kate's interrupted schooling meant she should be expelled?”

 

“Yes, he didn't realize she'd been blinded before she could start school and the tornado delayed her education even more. He just saw she had a single room and an assistant. He's the type of old fool who hates people having fun when they're not in class, he complained they changed their clothes and went out on the weekends.” Arthur rolls his eyes. “Miserable human being.”

 

“Yes, yes he is. Thankfully Kate wasn't bothered by any of this, her assistant and I kept the nonsense from her.” Mona sighs. “The old fool was very quickly told to mind his own damn business and leave the students alone. . .no matter how much he complains about the clothes they wear when they're not in class they're not giving the school a bad name.”

 

He's giving the school a bad name.”

 

“Exactly.” Mona snorts. “Miserable old fool ran wailing off when nobody took his side.”

 

The house is quiet when Arthur returns home a few weeks later, he looks around a few minutes. “Should I be running and hiding?” He asks Larry.

 

He just rolls his eyes and waves a hand. “It's a low pressure system coming in and everybody is tired.”

 

“Is this supposed to be another bad year for hurricanes?”

 

“Yes.” Larry sighs. “Not even the fool Republicans in office can say there's no such thing as global warming anymore. They're getting in stockpiles of the boxes for the expected storm outages.”

 

“For those people that still have houses.” Jessy snorts as she walks through. “Larry, expect wailing from a lawyer soon. That damn fool bitch who wanted me to move my business into her tiny ass store in town was just dragged away. . .she was stunned I wouldn't sell her my entire inventory of outfits at the pittance she was offering so she could get all the girls to come to her store in town and buy their prom dresses. She'd show me.” Jessy snorts and Larry rolls his eyes. “Oh yes, she ran off wailing when I told her that my biggest money comes from the outside orders, not from the prom and graduation outfits.”

 

“How can you do that to her?” Larry snorts.

 

“Oh yes, she'd show me.” Jessy rolls her eyes. “Useless miserable bitch. This is her last chance at being somebody in the area, her family's going to be moving unless she started making the oodles and gobs of money she was expecting. How's Kate doing/”

 

“Good, she's talking with her advisors about pre-applying for law school since the scholarship will pay for it. This way. . .”

 

“She's got an in before she graduates? That's the way to do it, then hope like hell there's still a spot since I know there's always more applicants than spots. Now. . .I hate to say it but. . .”

 

“DW's attack might give her an extra in.” Arthur sighs and nods. “Sad thing is that's probably will be the tipping point since her grades are good. And somebody who didn't get in will complain.”

 

Jessy pats him on the shoulder and walks over to the mail cubbies and sorts through her mail, dropping most of it in the recycling bin unopened. Arthur heads off to his apartment, sorting through the mail that Buster had been picking up for him.

 

“No, Ms. Michaels don't have to make dresses for that fool to sell in her store. . .the woman has been trying to get her to move her business to her building for years so she could make her increase the prices on her dresses a hundred dollars with the money going to her. I don't care if you don't believe me. . .ask yourself why a lawyer from Stanley is being asked to sue a woman nearly a hundred miles away. That's because she's been told to go away at every lawyer in town, they aaaaaalllllll know the woman and her little stunts.”

 

The young lawyer stares at the phone when the call ends and taking a deep breath goes to his boss. . .who's talking with a lawyer from Marley. He taps on the door and when he's told to come in takes a deep breath and says he's sorry for disturbing them but. . .

 

“Ohhh lord, yes. . .that's exactly what that miserable fool would try.” Ben Matlock snorts. “She tried suing to get Ms. Michaels to move her business to her building before and nobody would accept the case. At first she wanted the city council to get the extra money. .. they'd have to kiss her ass for giving them so much extra money to work with then she'd show them.. .they'd come begging with their hands out to get some of the money rolling in, moron doesn't realize that increasing the price that much means there won't be any business.” His friend laughs but nods. “Did the woman give you a retainer?”

 

“No, but she paid me twenty dollars to call.”

 

“And you did, they told you no. Case closed.” His boss snorts.

 

Xander taps on the doorframe of Larry's office. “Okay, I had a thought. We should start taking the kids to the playground in town to get them used to kids their own age.”

 

“Yes, Phillip mentioned that a couple days ago.” Larry chuckles. “There's no lack of parents that we can't take a shift sitting watching them tear around a playground.”

 

“Rupert, I'm going to be destroying that damn fool man from the department of education.” Wesley says as he walks past the two younger men. “The little bastard is threatening to take the children away from us if we don't send them to the school in Marley.”

 

“ARE YOU GODDAMN MOTHER FUCKING RETARDED YOU DAMN FOOL!!! Threatening to take their children away from them because they're not planning on sending the children to the local school?” His boss slams his way into the moron's office. He jumps and starts wailing. “I don't give a goddamn what your excuse is. . .you were told to leave them the fuck alone. That's doesn't mean continuing to harass them.”

 

“But the oldest ones are going to be three in July, they should be getting ready for their classes.”

 

“They are getting ready for their classes, they're working with homeschooling stores in two cities to make sure the children will have a good base of classes as they grow.”

 

“But they could go to the school in town.” he continues to whine.

 

“Why the hell would they?”

 

“But the school district needs the money. The state cut per pupil funding again.” He wails.

 

“Too damn bad.” His boss snorts. “Leave them the fuck alone. . .or you're fired.” He storms out of the office, slamming the door behind him. He wails louder. . .he'd been so sure that this would make them do what he wanted. Weeelllll yes, the school does need a good bit of work, they don't offer the same number of classes that the group plans to be giving their children. But still. . .they should be sending the kids to that school.

 

“SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THEM SENDING THEIR KIDS TO THE SCHOOL IN TOWN!!!!” His boss yells from down the hall. “They're out of the damn district, even if they go to the school in town the town won't be getting any extra money.”

 

“They. . .they wouldn't?” he wails.

 

“No moron, the damn school district line ends at the mall. .. .nowhere near where they live. The district would have to go to court to annex that area, they're not going to do that for a handful of kids.”

 

“But I thought the boundaries went out that far.” He wails. Scrabbling for his mouse he checks the district borders and puts in their address. . .finding as his boss had said that they're outside the district. That area is an area that's not been annexed by any school district.

 

“But they're only fifteen minutes from town.” he wails.

 

“Yes, but the damn area was all zoned commercial/agriculture when the borders were set up. The town grew up that way. Schools have had to annex areas as towns grow up. Or put a new school up to handle the students in the area.”

 

“So that's settled, the moron will be leaving us the hell alone or his boss will be scraping his shit off his boots when he kicks his ass to the curb.” Larry says a few days later. “Asshole thought the school would be kissing his feet for getting them more money from the kids going. Idiot didn't bother to see that we're out of the damn district since the town's grown so much since they were created.”

 

“Yes, that's one of the problems many school districts face.” Wesley sighs.

 

“That and not getting tax money from all the snowbirds who flock to Florida for the winter.” Jessy snorts as she walks through. Leaning against the wall she looks at the expo list. “I'm not going out this summer. .. the school's going to be doing a massive amount of segments for their show.” Adding her name to a handful of them she drops the pen back on Larry's desk. “I'm going into Miami next week.” She looks over her shoulder as she walks out the door. “Oh, and Rupert has an embryo in the chamber. You're the baby daddy.” Larry slumps in his chair. “I. . .I know you said that you planned on having more children but . . .”

 

Wesley pats Larry on the shoulder. “You are a good father to Amanda, you'll be a good father to this one too. Now, have you heard anything about your mother?”

 

“She got another six months in prison for that damn fight she had with my sister but once she's out she's going to be moving into an assisted living facility and holding down a job. The facility's going to be having control over her finances. . .no more sending most of her money to my father and sister in prison.”

 

Jessy brays with laughter in the other room. “Hey Rupert, that fool who destroyed my other car is making a dramatic 'you won't have me to kick around anymore' gesture.” She comes back up the hallway as Rupert comes out of his office.

 

“Really, what brought that on?”

“Ohhh, the stupid bitch tried suing to get the money back her family sent me for the judgment against her. . .tried claiming that the accident was my fault because I shouldn't have been parked there. . .I should have gone to another store. A better one. The lawyer threw her ass out of his office calling her a damn fool. Now she's wailing her life is over. . .she's going to kill herself in some dramatic fashion that will make everybody sorry.”

 

“Bullshite.” Rupert snorts genteely.

 

“Yeah, her own family bluntly told her to make her own funeral preparations and lay out what she wants to be buried in if she's going to be pulling this shit. Moron ran off wailing because nobody's begging her to reconsider. Not even the police and her counselor believe this bullshit. And they're bound by law to take threats seriously.” Jessy says as she hands over the letter she'd been reading.

 

“No, it's another attempt to stop having to pay her bills.” Wesley sighs. “Miserable creature.”

 

“Her, that stupid woman who's hobby it was to claim she was injured and get money from businesses, and that stupid bitch who caused the accidents.”

 

“How much time did she get?”

 

“Twenty-five to fifty years due to all the damages. She's got to go the whole twenty-five years before she's eligible for parole and she's got to keep her nose clean to get on the list.”

 

“And she already isn't?” Xander snorts.

 

“Yep.” Jessy rolls her eyes. “She never thought she'd be actually forced to take responsibility for her own actions. . .don't the courts know she's spe-shul.”

 

Kiara walks past and checks the mail. “Hey Jessy, can I get you to give me a hand this weekend?”

 

“What's up?”

“I want to draw a temporary tattoo on my arm. . .you've got a good hand.”

 

“Yeah, sure.”

 

“When is Madison's new book coming out?” Wesley asks as the hallway empties out.

“Next month.”

 

“Everybody, listen up.” Larry's voice says over the intercom as the three tone alert makes everybody look up. “We're in the bullseye for a bad thunderstorm that's going to be coming into the area tomorrow night, they're predicting wind and rain.. . .a lot of rain.”

 

Rupert hurries to the office, he'd been down the hall when the alert had sounded. Larry has the weather channel on and he knows the others will have the tv on in their rooms.

 

“How long?”

 

“Looks like all day day after tomorrow for the rain and wind for a couple days after that.” Joyce says over the intercom. “That's as far back as they're forecasting it now.”

 

“Yes, but they also said this is just the first wave of a bigger storm.” Illyana says from the doorway. “Unless they changed the local forecast since this morning.”

 

The local news is coming on and they turn the channel, the weather forecast coming on first. The fuller forecast is several minutes later and everybody sighs. Yup, the year is already starting out bad for weather.

 

The sound of thunder wakes Jessy the following night. Quickly checking on the babies and her cats she goes back to bed. Rupert had already said that it would be a free day because of the storm.

 

 

 

 

“Hey Rupert, you know that stupid little brat kid in town that tries to run into the street to cause accidents? She tried it again and the driver of the car about beat her to death for her stupidity.” Jessy yells as she comes into the main building from Marley.

 

“Little fool. About time somebody stopped her.” Larry mutters. “I hope her damn fool loving Mommy was beaten to death too.”

“Oh yes, the Russian guy was not happy at his new car being dented and ordered his driver to deal with her too. They're both in a Miami hospital and will be facing charges.” Ryan is in the office and looks at them. “Teenage girl who runs out into traffic repeatedly to cause accidents, the bitch and her mother have been doing it for years. They're renting a place in town because they keep running through the settlement money they get like toilet paper. Both of them were actually having to work.” Jessy drawls as she walks into the office.” Larry does the world's smallest violin gesture. “Oh yes, the stupid bitch deliberately ran into them because it was a new car and they'd get oodles and gobs of money. . .until the driver pulled out a tire iron and went to town on her.”

 

“Are they under arrest?” Ryan asks.

 

“Nope,” Jessy smirks. “Diplomatic plates on the car. Mommy comes screaming out with her nails out because her baby is actually hurt and got her ass handed to her for her stupidity.” Ryan looks at her. “The video footage is all over town. Most people are saying the stupid bitches got what they deserved.”

 

“Why did they move to Marley?”

 

“Moron blubbered she was sure Stark would be there one day and they could run in front of his car. . .they'd be rich. . .” Jessy snorts. “While they were waiting for their ship to come in they made numerous attempts to get money through causing accidents. But the police are getting suspicious of everything and are not finding the drivers at fault. . .insurance companies aren't coming through with settlements, and trying to sue them aren't getting them what they wanted anymore. They were miserable.” Jessy drawls the last three words and Larry snorts.

 

“They'll be miserable in prison from now on.”

 

“Yep.” Jessy snorts. “They're wailing nobody was going to be 'hurt', it's just a hobby they have.”

 

Eyes are rolled by everybody in earshot. “Yeah, their own lawyer called them a fucking useless waste of oxygen as they were indicted in their hospital beds. They're in the guarded wing on the hospital until they're well enough to exchange the hospital room for a jail cell.”

Illyana smiles as she finds a letter from her brother in her mail cubby. He'd escaped to the United States with her as a young girl, they'd settled in New York first before Illyana had moved to Miami after school. There had been nothing left for them in Russia, their parents killed in a farm accident on the collective while their brother had died in an accident in space as a cosmonaut.

 

“How's your brother?” Rupert asks.

 

“Good, he's got a number of requests for his art, the private school he lives and works at is doing well and he's . . .content. Life is much better here than it would have been back in Russia, both of us would have been old before our times working the farm.

 

Jake comes in and taps on Jessy's shoulder, handing her a printout. She grins evilly and follows him out into the hallway.

 

“No taking over the world Jessyca.” Rupert says dryly. “Jensen, don't make me call Clay.”

 

“Clay's the one who found it.” He calls from the hallway.

 

“Jessyca, Jensen what have I told you both about trying to take over the world?”

 

“Don't tell you what I'm doing so you can honestly say you have no idea what the hell's going on if the police show up?” Jessy asks, looking around the doorway. Jensen grins. “Because plausible deniability is our friend boys and girls.” Rupert looks at the ceiling silently counting to ten while everybody laughs.

 

Three weeks later the news that Donald Trump is being arrested on a series of charges that will have him behind bars for decades has Jessy and Jake being applauded when they walk into the cafeteria.

 

“Thenk you, thenk you.” Jessy drawls as she curtsies. “It was my pleasure. Bastard annoyed the hell out of me by trying to take over one of my businesses in a hostile takeover because the bastard didn't want to pay to use my services. Insufferable asshole thought he should control the world.”

 

“Jessy.” Rupert sighs. “What about his employees?”

 

“What about them? It's not like the old fool actually takes an interest in day to day operations. He hasn't been anything more than a figurehead since before he tried demanding the power boxes. The only reason his businesses aren't in bankruptcy is he's got people who know what the hell they're doing in charge instead of him. He's too damn busy flitting around the country making an ass out of himself. Bastard's been cheating people for years. . .including his creditors in his bankruptcies.”

 

“You don't take a day to day interest in most of your businesses either but that's because you're running other successful businesses.” Wesley says with a smile.

 

Jessy shakes her head as she reads a letter a few days later. “Rupert, the fool realized nobody's believing her bullshit that she's going to kill herself. She's pouting. . . again.”

 

“Bloody fool.” He snorts. “I hope her family told her that as soon as they get their money she move wherever she wants as long as it's not around here. Where she'll have to pay all her own bills, buy and cook her own food. . . she'll be in hell.”

 

“Hell wouldn't want the bitch.” Jessy snorts.

 

“Prom dresses?”

 

“We're cleaning the front room right now, they'll start arriving next week. And that bitch has been told if she comes on the grounds to bother us or the customers she'll be arrested. She huffed off to another lawyer and was told the same thing. . .she is trespassing and it is within our rights to have her removed.”

 

Monday they unlock the door and smile as they see cars already waiting in the parking lot. Girls start streaming into the building.

 

“No, you can't fucking sue the seamstress building for a hundred thousand dollars for not giving you money from every dress they make. Because you're a fucking useless fool.” The lawyer snaps as she opens her mouth to wail 'whyyyyyyy'. “Grow the fuck up you miserable bitch and leave them alone. I don't care what kind of money you think you should be making by taking over their business.. . .they don't want you or need you involved in their business.”

 

She runs off wailing.

 

“Goddamn fool.” His office manager snorts. “She's gone to every lawyer in Marley, tried getting somebody in Stanley to make them sell to her, now they're trying Miami.”

 

A rapid knocking on the door an hour later has them turning that direction.

 

“I'm sorry, was a woman wearing. . .”

 

“Black skirt, white shirt with a black sweater? Yes, she was here. Did something happen?”

 

“She ran into traffic and was hit.”

 

“Probably try to sue the person who hit her.” the office manager sighs.

 

“She. . .she didn't make it. Do you have . . .”

 

The office manager rummages through the papers on her desk and copies a name and phone number. “Her name is Monique Dupree, this is her daughter Sabrina's number as next of kin. They live in Marley.”

 

“If it's not. . .”

 

“Attorney-client privilege. . .no, she was never our client. She wanted us to sue a business for not jacking up their prices and give the extra money to her. She does not own the business and has never been involved in it. . .she just wants money from the business because it's successful. When we refused her case, she ran off.”

 

The officer shakes his head. “Got a contact name and number Sarge. Her name's Monique Dupree and lives in Marley.”

 

“What's she doing in Miami?”

 

“Trying to get a lawyer to sue a business to give her money, they're successful so they should jack up their prices and give her the extra. Even though she's never been involved in the business.”

 

The officer shake their heads. . .some people.

 

Jessy shakes her head when she gets the news from Ryan who had recognized the business when he heard the story at the precinct.

 

“Rupert, that fool woman who was trying to make me give her money because I was successful and she was miserable died today.” Rupert gets up from his desk quickly, she can hear the chair clattering. Larry and Rupert are at the door in a second. “Moron went to another lawyer, this time in Miami. She wanted to sue me for a hundred thousand dollars since I wouldn't jack up my prices and give the extra to her. The lawyer told her hell no and she ran into traffic, getting hit and killed.”

 

“Idiot woman.”

 

“Of course. . .she couldn't fucking handle not having everything the way she wanted. Moron didn't care that my business would be ruined with her stupidity.”

 

“Moron's probably trying to tell everybody what to do in Hell. And wailing that she didn't get in Heaven.” Larry snorts. His phone rings and he turns around to answer it.

 

“Did you have the CD roll over again?” Joyce asks. Jessy had been in Miami to deal with that and buy for the library.

 

“No, it's going to go into a different account once it matures. It's less interest but I can access it now in case something happens.”

 

She nods in satisfaction.

 

The prom dresses start being carried out the door of the seamstress shop and Jessy and the others look in the other room. “Two weeks should have everything done in here?”

 

“Yep.” Faith snorts as she grabs an outfit and looks over the pattern in the container. The others do the same and start to work.

 

“Are you stupid. . .no I'm not giving the family money.” Jessy snorts. “the stupid bitch never worked here, she's just a miserable human being who wanted to make money off my hard work. She inherited a small building in town and wanted me to move my business into it and increase the price of every outfit I make by a hundred dollars with the money going to her. Of course that was after the city council told her no for her fantastic plan to increase the budget by that extra money going to them. When she couldn't become somebody that way she figured she'd just keep the money herself.”

 

The man on the other end of the line gulps. Maybe he should have done a little digging into the story instead of jumping on 'the woman owes mucho dinero for her part in causing the woman's death' bandwagon. The rest of the story he hears makes him realize why the family had not immediately gone after the woman she'd been trying to sue after the court found the man who'd hit her not guilty in her death.

 

“Welllllll, do you have a fantastic story of wrongdoing?” His editor drawls sarcastically.

 

“No, the story turned out to be a bust. The lawsuit was meritless.”

 

“Which you'd have damn well known if you looked into the case instead of jumping to conclusions. Moron, go back to the work I gave you instead of dreaming about a big story that's going to make you somebody. The only way you're going to go up the ranks in the office is by hard work.”

 

The rush of graduation outfits soon start arriving and Jessy nods in satisfaction as the last outfit is walked out by the girl and her mother. The remaining containers are brought out of the back room and the door opened for air as they settle back down to work.

 

“Guys, the latest hurricane turned. . . .it's bearing straight down on us.” Larry calls as they start walking into the main building.

 

“Oh hell, but we knew this was going to be a bad year.” Jessy sighs. “When's it due?”

 

“End of the week.”

 

“Everybody's been stocking up on stuff to keep them occupied. . . right?” Wesley asks. Everybody nods.

 

The food is delivered to all the houses and apartments, Jessy sighing as she can hear the wind pick up even through the shield and the soundproofing on her house. The boys are busy trying to pet the cats and she picks them up, the cats giving her 'why did you have these monsters' looks. She just chuckles.

 

 

 

 

The beginning of June Max taps on the door and comes inside. He grins at Jessy who waves a hand from her spot drawing at the counter.

 

“Muse hit her again?”

 

“Yup, been dumping on her for damn near a week straight.” Faith sniggers as Jessy sighs and puts the pencil down.

 

“I understand you're staying home this summer except for expos or sales?” Max asks.

 

“Yes, the school's doing a summer's worth of work on episodes for their tv show.” Jessy sighs as she rubs muscle rub into her hands as Faith opens the door and they start going through the racks, moving everything to the trucks.

 

“Damn, this room looks empty now.” Jubilee whistles.

 

“Yes, but it will soon be full again.” Jessy sighs. “Okay, we'll clean today and tomorrow then start filling containers again Monday.” Everybody nods and starts grabbing cleaning supplies. Jessy mumbles something very rude if they could have understood it and goes back to the counter and sketchbooks.

 

“Is the sale on in Vegas over the 4th of July?”

 

“Yes, I'm staying out later since I'll be attending a hydroponics expo.”

 

“How is the construction coming on the new one outside Miami?”

 

“They're getting work done quickly, trying to get back on schedule.” Scott says as he walks into the building. “the government is holding their breath to see how much money they gotta pay in fines for that moron butting into stuff that wasn't any of his damn business.”

 

“Isn't that stock in trade for the government?” Faith snorts as she walks out into the outer room and across to the bathroom.

 

“Certainly seems that way.” Scott says. “You hear the State Department called Kiara?” Faith sticks her head around the door and looks at him. “Some damn fool wanting to know how she can be both sixth and eighth in line for the throne, Kiara told her to learn how to read. . .it said she was 68th in line to the throne. You could almost see the 'oh shit' look on her face over the phone..”

 

“Morons.” Faith mutters as she shuts the bathroom door to take a piss.

 

“Somebody getting a wild hair up their ass and causing problems because they think nobody else saw what was obviously somebody trying to get away with something.”

 

“Yep, and looking like the idiot they are when they slink off.”

 

“Max pick up the orders?” Larry asks when they all walk into the main building.

 

“Yeah, we'll clean again tomorrow and start filling containers next week.” Jessy stretches and yawns as she looks out the window at the darkening sky. “Are they just predicting rain?”

 

“No, now they're saying we'll get more wind than they'd predicted.” Andrew sighs as he walks into the building. “Everybody's listening to the weather channel at Stark.”

 

“And getting in supplies early I hope.” Rupert says.

 

“They should, but that would make sense.” Jesse snorts as he walks into the hallway. “Which people don't tend to have anymore.”

 

“Amen.” Paige snorts. “The empty shelves over the last couple of years really shook up the whole 'oh, we can just run to the store to get anything we need' mindset while back home everybody would have their gardens in and canning food for the winter.”

 

Kiara drops a letter into the recycling bin. “My idiot grandmother wailing what a horrible human being I am for not marrying that old bastard so she could live the life of luxury she wanted. Both of them are going to be behind bars for the rest of their lives.” She says at the others looks.

 

“He was convicted on all charges then?” Rupert asks.

 

“Yep, the families of his late wives are supposedly up in arms at the deaths of their beloved family members.”

“Bullshite,” Rupert says genteely. “The other families were like your grandmother, they wanted to be rid of them.”

 

“Oh yeah, they blubbered they didn't know what he was doing but it was common knowledge in those circles.”

 

“Of course.”

 

The following Monday everybody arrives at the seamstress shop for two solid weeks of filling containers. The stacks are looked at in satisfaction and the store door is shut.

 

“Are you done filling containers?”

 

“Yeah, until September, Max won't be coming out early this year..” she snorts. The others laugh and nod.

 

“Jessy?” Francine asks.

 

“Need me to help out at the soapmaking building?”

 

“Please, even with you being off in a couple weeks for the sale it will help.”

 

“Making extra to replace what will be sold the fourth?” Larry asks. Francine nods. “We've got boxes of stuff stacked to nearly the ceiling of stuff already made up but we need to keep the shelves full of soap curing.” The soapmaking building had picked up a good bit of business from people coming to the big sale in town the 4th. And in turn the other stores out there too.

 

Jessy slumps into a chair in the hotel, Mona from New York nodding. “Gods, what a racket. How's Marley?” The hallway had been full of people and objects.

 

“Hopping as they get ready for the big sale in a couple days.” Jessy yawns. “The soapmaking building has been stacking up boxes of stuff for the sale. ..basically everything that's not already been pre-ordered but that means the shelves are bare..” Mona nods. “It's usually only twice a year that we have the massive shelf filling events and it's damn good money.”

 

“How long were you sketching?” The scanned file had been huge. Everybody had just grabbed a few pages and started making notes.

 

“Damn near three weeks.” Jessy grumbles. “I felt like I'd been mauled when the damn muse finally spit me out.” Mona sniggers. “How is the filming coming?”

 

“Good.. We figure to have at least two years worth of material by the time we're done. We did a good bit of filming last fall after we got the boxes.”

 

A couple days later they pull up at the supplier complex, the woman at the gate grinning as the car pulls into the lot.

 

“Who the fuck do you think you are trying to grab me?” Jessy bellows as she kicks at somebody.

 

“You can't go in there, we're taping. How the hell did you get on this floor anyway?”

 

“This is our goddamn room you fucking moron, we've been staying here for a couple days now.”

 

A manager is quickly brought up and starts complaining. “We told you we had guests on this floor, what the hell do you think you're doing trying to grab people?”

 

“But we were supposed to have the entire floor to ourselves.”

 

“No you weren't, you were given a certain number of hours when you could film. . .and that's not supposed to be starting for another three hours. And you sure the hell weren't supposed to have all that shit in the hallway.”

 

“H . .How can I work under these conditions?” The director wails and runs off to complain to somebody. Who tries taking his head off at the waist from the way he's yelling at him.

 

“God damn effing moron, I'm sorry ladies.” the producer says in a phone call a couple hours after they've got back from a free dinner at the hotel. “I told the fool the rules for filming and he swore up, down, and sideways that he could work within those rules. . .and the first damn thing he tried to do is ignore the rules and do what he wanted.”

 

Jessy just rolls her eyes at the teasing she gets back at the House. “God damn effing idiot, always going to be some moron who thinks he's better than everybody else and should get whatever he wants for existing. He was told to follow the damn rules and decided that the rules shouldn't apply to him. They bothered his artistic creativity.”

 

Larry rolls his eyes. “Just as many damn drama queens behind the camera as there are in front of it.”

 

“Hollyweird draws those type of personalities.”

 

Jessy nods.

 

Xander comes rushing into the seamstress shop a couple days later. “Massive power outage on the other coast. Stretching from California through Idaho, Nevada. . .nearly as far as Texas.”

 

Jessy sighs. “We've been expecting it.”

 

“Yep. No matter what that good old boy Bush said, the damn power grids are in serious trouble.”

 

“Yes, we're all fine here.” Lady Heather says in her office. “Gilbert is talking with his former coworkers right now. The hotels and casinos must be up on arms though at the loss of business.”

 

“And in turn blaming the city council for not magically keeping their power grid unable to be touched by any of the bad stuff that's been happening the last few years. So people can continue to gamble and attend shows.” Rupert snorts.

 

“Oh yes,” Lady Heather chuckles. “I still say you could probably see the city lights from space.”

 

A couple nights later Jessy taps on Rupert's office door and finds him in a Skype conference call with the other houses.

 

“Sorry to bother you, Larry's got the news on and they finally just announced that this is another massive outage like last year's and the power won't be coming back on. They magnanimously announced that the National Guard will be coming out with supplies since I don't doubt the stores are all empty now. Out of the goodness of their money-grubbing, black cockled hearts. And eventually they'll allow the boxes to start being delivered. . .once enough people's complaints make them start looking again and realize. . .ohhh yeah, the grid's destroyed. . .the power can't come back on. . .you just need to wait won't cut it anymore.”

 

“You're too young to be so cynical.” Charles chuckles as he listens to Jessy muttering about the morons in the government.

 

“I'm nearly 43 Charles.”

 

“Still too young.”

 

Erik snorts beside him. “Hush you, you were born cynical.”

 

“How was sales over the 4th?” Jessy asks as she walks back into the outer office.

 

“Good, we didn't have very many boxes to bring back and we got a few orders for other stuff since we had bigwigs from the government and people from the other branches of Stark out for meetings.”

 

“Government whining or actually doing something?”

 

“A bit of both. . .some whining about did Stark really need a facility out here. . .?”

 

“Either fire the people working here or make them move to the other facilities? Figures.” Jessy snorts. “Calmer heads tell them to go sulk in a corner?”

 

“Basically.” Larry chuckles. The government wants Stark to work on some other stuff out here. Some moron was having a fit about Kiara being over here and not across the pond but was told to go sit in that same corner.”

 

“Because members of the very extended royal family can't have normal lives.” Jessy snorts. “Old Prince Charles might have been sitting in the wings for his mother to die but everybody else went out and had lives of their own. Because they knew they'd never get the throne..”

 

“Yep.” Larry chuckles.

 

Kiara walks into the lab she shares with Scott and Jesse, placing the cooler with their lunches in the corner. She stretches and sighs when her neck and back pop. “Okay guys, what are we working on today? Be warned, I didn't sleep worth shite last night.”

 

“So nothing that will blow us up?” Jesse snickers. “Reports.”

 

“Yeah, I can do that.”

 

“Finally need to break down and get a different mattress?” Scott asks.

 

“No, Rupert took care of that already. I need to break down and throttle my grandmother, the stupid woman had a weeping, wailing, whinging fit last night. . .seems she finally was able to get a cellular phone and card that included international calling. . .”

 

“And you were her first call.”

 

“Yes, miserable bitch. Her life is over. . .she devoted the best years of her life to raising me. . .” Kiara makes a rude noise. “Effing fool, I told her she was a lying miserable bitch. . .she didn't raise me, the nursemaid and housekeeper did, she doesn't know when I was born, how old I am, what my interests are, what my hobbies are., . .anything. I told her to rot in prison for the rest of her miserable life. She was wailing like a siren when I ended the call. Since she was told to leave me the hell alone and everybody at the prison loathes her, I'm sure she's already in trouble for that.” Kiara yawns again and takes the mug of herbal tea Scott had been brewing for her. “Thank you.”

 

The trucks with the supplies Jessy brought arrive at the seamstress building a couple weeks later, everybody gathers around and starts emptying them. The truckers are used to trips to the House and a couple hours later call to see if there's shipments going back the way they'd come.

 

“How long until the power boxes start being brought out?”

 

“I'd say September, the government is still insisting the power will be back on shortly though everybody with a damn brain knows it won't. By then the states that get real winter will be demanding something be done before snow falls.”

 

“Did that fool woman move like she wanted to?” Xander asks Jessy one night at dinner when he's helping feed the boys.

 

“No, she's got the money mostly paid down now but finally realized she'd need money for a house, she'd have to have money to move, she'd need to pay all her bills herself. . .buy her own food and cook her own meals. . ..” Jessy drawls.

 

“In other words be a damn grownup.” Paige snorts.

 

“Yes, now she's looking for a sugardaddy to take care of her. One that's rich enough to have a chauffeur for her.”

 

“Lotsa luck there.” Faith snorts from another table. “I've seen pictures of the bitch, she's too damn old. She's the age she'd have already burned through one or two and was desperately looking for another one.”

 

“Yep. And be sneering at us because we're old. But all of our girls will have common sense and be paying their own bills.” Harmony says from another table.

 

“Yep.”

 

Joyce comes over with the assignments for the next couple of nights. Across the room Faith covers her mouth with a napkin and belches loudly. “Damn, did you guys sneak brussel sprouts in the lasagna again?”

 

“Yes, and in the salad mix too.”

 

“Hell, I'll be belching all damn night then.”

 

“Pepto?” Adam asks from another table.

 

“Antacids, I got a new bottle of the chewables in town yesterday.”

 

“Pepcid. . .I can prescribe it if you have that touchy a stomach. You're not the only one who takes it.” Adam looks over at Kiara and a few other people.

 

“Isn't that the stuff they were talking about causing kidney damage?”

 

“That's prilosec, that's something else entirely. One neutralizes acid, one shuts some of the pumps down that produces it.”

 

“Aren't you only supposed to use that for two weeks?”

 

“Unless you're under a doctor's supervision.”

 

“Jessy?” Rupert asks when she comes into the main building a couple weeks later. In Robert's arms. He puts her down on a couch and goes back outside.

 

“Yes, I'm having a damn flareup. And since I've been tempting fate for so long I'm sure the damn thing will last a while.” She sighs. “House is making up my prescriptions now, Faith just ran over to pick them up.” Almost as soon as the words are out of her mouth Faith walks in and drops a bag on Jessy's lap. Larry comes back from a closet with a wheelchair.

 

“Yes, you need it. You need to stay off that knee.” House says over the intercom. Jessy gives the ceiling a sour look. “Tough. Either stay in the chair, be carried everywhere, or get stuck in a hospital bed. And either stay in the house or in your house, the seamstress shop can work well on their own.”

 

“I gotta go through the notes the others sent me back on my drawings anyway.” Jessy sighs. “I'll be in the reading room.”

 

“Take your pills with food first.”

 

“Welllll yah,” Jessy snorts. “Otherwise I'll be hurling all over the place.”

 

Jessy maneuvers the chair up to a table and transfers to a chair since the wheelchair is too low to work from. Laying out the drawing pads she brings up the file of notes and finds the first drawing.

 

Larry comes in with more sketchpads and notebooks. “Want some of the meal replacement drinks? House said the meds would kill your appetite.”

 

“Hell no, those things are worse than the damn nausea.”

 

Arthur comes in. “Milkshake, easy on your stomach and empty calories.” He hands her a glass with a top and she starts to sip. “Awww, thank Denise for me. . . I know she's seen me through a few of these.”

 

“Jessy says thank you, Larry was asking her if she wanted a meal replacement drink when I walked in with the milkshake.” Arthur says as he walks into the cafeteria.

 

“Those things are worse than the drugs for making somebody hurl.” Denise snorts. The others snigger and nod. “You only drink those if you're one of the fools trying to lose weight by not exercising and eating decent meals or you're somewhere where you might not get decent food for a while.”

 

“Earthquakes, hurricanes. . .” the others nod. “Though I'd think the bars would be better then, take up less room.”

 

“And no chance of them tipping over.” Rupert nods. “Okay, it's been several years. . .do we need to stock up on dishes and utensils again?”

 

“Yes, especially with some rumors about the former asshat in chief trying to shut down the factories because he didn't think they were needed.” The head cook on this shift says. Rupert nods, he'd heard the same rumors.

 

They walk into the storeroom and start looking around. “Yes, we need to start stocking up again.” She sighs. They get on the computer in the office and start looking at stuff, putting together the order. A note that they're going to be putting in an order is put on the bulletin board for the other shifts, along with the news that Jessy's having a flareup and to push goodies on her to keep her weight up since the medicine makes her not want to eat.

 

The van and truck pull through the gates after the comic con in Stanley.

 

“Road work finally finished?” Robert chuckles when nobody oozes out of the vehicles.

 

“Yes, thank you god.” Jessy sighs as she finally gets out of the truck with Andrew's help. The wheelchair is pulled from the back of the van and a grumbling Jessy lowered into it.

 

She's wheeled into the main house by Xander, the door opening behind them a few minutes later.

 

“Guys, we're taking over a room on the fifth floor. . .stay out for a while.” Methos and Amanda say as they walk past. They have a big bag with them. . . that's moving.

 

“Don't wanna know, don't need to know.” Jessy sighs.

 

“Indeed,” Rupert says as they watch the pair walk past. “Larry?”

 

“I won't bother to watch the news tonight.” He sighs.

 

“Good idea.” Amanda smirks. “Oh Jessy, I need some of the bearer bonds. . .I got leads on some buildings in New York.” She says leaning down to whisper in Jessy's ear.

 

“Okay, let me know when you need them.”

 

In Miami a woman sighs as her daughters head off to buy books and supplies for university. “I hate the idea of the girls working and taking classes.” She says as her husband wraps his arms around her.

 

“Yes, that little bastard Adam throwing away all that money by thumbing his nose at rehab because he didn't think he has a problem. Little bastard's still wailing in prison about how he needed a drink after being in that horrible place.” Her husband drawls. “The others are beating the stupidity out of him daily but it's a deep well.”

 

“Is he having to repay us every cent we put out for him?”

 

“Oh yes, the courts were not happy with his stupidity. It will be decades but he's going to be paying us back every cent.”

 

“Fuck you, you stupid little sack of shit.” One of the girls says icily as she walks out of the school. “No, nobody's going to be telling the court to stop the payments to us. You owe Mom and Dad a hell of a lot of money.”

 

“But all that money is coming out of my pay. I'm only seeing a few pennies of it.”

 

“Too damn bad, you just had to have a new car after you got out of rehab. Which the money for came out of our college funds. But since you thought the state was paying for it and that you didn't have a problem you blew it off. And ran into the same damn mall . . .again.”

 

Her brother blubbers on the phone. “Bianca and I are having to work a full-time job and take classes here in Miami because Mom and Dad can't afford to pay for our schooling. Because they had to pay for your rehab. There's no way in Hell either of us would ever ask the courts to stop sending us money. I wanted to go to Harvard, Bianca wanted to go to Princeton. . .neither of us ever dreamed we'd have to settle for school here in Miami. You destroyed all our lives you miserable bastard, I hope you rot in hell.” Ending the call she buries her face in her hands and sobs, she's so damn tired of working forty to fifty hours a week and taking classes. Her sister drops their bags in the back seat and pushes her over, getting behind the wheel.

 

“You okay?”

 

“I'm just so damn tired of working and trying to get good grades. It's only by the grace of god that we got jobs in our areas. I keep waking up and having to remind ourselves this isn't all for nothing. Because in the middle of the night I have nightmares that by the time we get our degrees we won't be able to use them. All this. . .it was for nothing.”

 

“Maxy?” Her mother asks as she walks in and heads up to her room.

 

“Dumbass called, wailing that we had to tell the court to stop taking money out of his pay for us.”

 

“Oh hell no.” their father snarls. “Maxy's tired of working 40, 50 hours a week and taking classes. She has nightmares where by the time we finally get our degrees they're useless. And sometimes I feel the same way. . .gods I'm not even twenty-five yet but I feel ancient. We're less than halfway through our degrees and the only thing we can look forward to is more long hours at work and more classes. We're going to be thirty or thirty-one by the time we graduate. . .and they're talking about changing our programs. So it might be even longer than that. If we can even finish them.”

 

Her parents hug her before her father goes into his study and looks up a number.

 

In the prison Adam is being held against the wall as three of the biggest cons on the block cuss his fool ass out. “And leave your sisters alone. You're nothing more than a spoiled little brat who should have been drowned at birth. Even if the court wasn't making you repay the money for your rehab and everything else. . .you still wouldn't be getting all the money from your job, the state would be taking it to recoup the costs of keeping your useless ass in here.”

 

“T. . .they would?” He wails.

 

“Yes moron, they would. Nobody gets more than fifteen cents an hour from their jobs. You want more money, pick up more shifts. You damn near destroyed your sisters lives by driving drunk. Your parents had to dip into their money to pay for your damn rehab and the first thing you did when you got out was get riproaring drunk and drive into the same damn mall.”

 

“But I I I I I I I I I I didn't know my parents had paid for the rehab place. . .I thought the state would have paid for it. . .they made me go to that horrible place. I don't have a problem.”

 

“No, you're the damn problem.” Another prisoner snorts as he walks past. “You're a stupid little sack of shit who doesn't care who is hurt as long as he gets what he wants.”

 

“But I don't have a problem.” He continues to wail as he's dropped to the floor in disgust. He's dragged off by a guard and icily told to leave his family the hell alone by the warden.

Maxy is hugged by both her parents when she comes downstairs for dinner. “Are you okay sweetie?”

 

“I'm sorry for overreacting Mom.”

 

“Don't apologize, I know you and Bianca and tired of having to work full-time and take classes. Your brother is a worthless bastard.”

Maxy looks at her sister. “They're getting rid of our programs. I just got the call before I came down. This year is the last for them.”

 

“Noooooooo.” Bianca moans. “The other schools in Miami don't offer the degree. That's why we had to go there.”

 

“They're blubbering that they didn't realize any students would be affected.” Their father snorts. “Yes, James is already destroying the school in the media because we're not the only ones working and taking classes there who got the rug yanked out from under them.”

 

“But we don't have any students enrolled in the programs.” The school's chancellor whines. She grabs the papers and whines again when she sees names listed in the programs. “But . .but . . .but Hector told me that they didn't have any students in the programs.”

 

“Well he lied, we're the only school in town that offers the degrees. They stay. You will be apologizing to every student that would have been affected.”

 

“But we need to cut costs.” She wails. “Can't we still get rid of the programs?”

 

“No asshole, we can't. Didn't you hear me say we're the only school in Miami that offers the damn degrees?”

 

“But they aren't taking enough classes to make the degrees cost-effective. None of these students are taking more than three classes a semester.” she blusters, pulling up their records. “See?”

 

“Because they're all working you retarded whore.” The man slams his hand down on her desk and gets in her face. “You will leave the programs alone, you will apologize to every student affected, and you will be tendering your resignation. I expect it on my desk by the end of the week.”

 

“Noooooo, you can't.” She wails.

 

“Yes I can, your precious bullyboy Horace is being escorted off the grounds right now. I know damn good and well he was behind your stupidity.”

 

“But we need to cut costs.” She wails.

 

“Getting rid of yours and his outrageous salaries will take care of that.” he snorts. “After that calmer heads will be looking for areas where budgets can really be cut without hurting the students. That sure as shit doesn't mean cutting programs and leaving students in the lurch.”

 

“Thank god the bad publicity made them change their plans.” Maxy sighs a week later when they get the official apologies.

 

“That was just an old fool's attempt to take over the school. He'd have lied about more degrees and soon the school would have shut down. As long as he got the money he wanted it didn't matter what happened.” Their father snorts. “Adam would have turned out to be just like the miserable bastard. . .if he didn't manage to kill himself drinking and driving.”

 

Kiara leans back against the wall in their lab at Stark, taking off her protective glasses and giving Jesse a look. “Okay, not it for the report.”

 

Scott chuckles behind her. “I'll write the report out later, it's time for lunch.”

 

They settle at one of the smaller tables in Stark's cafeteria, Andrew joining them a few minutes later.

 

“Has anybody been listening to the nonsense about that school in Miami?”

 

“Yes, that's some old fool trying to make a name for himself at the school. Which is a damn joke.” Everybody around them nods. “Not the teachers, the administration. The only reason they have so many students is they offer a lot of degrees the other schools don't.” One of the other employees snorts. “My nieces were two of the students told their degrees would be being dropped next fall, they're working full-time and taking three classes a semester since their father dipped into their education funds to pay for their useless brother's rehab. The little shit was the one who drove into the mall.”

 

“Your nieces?”

 

“There wasn't enough money left to send them to the schools they wanted to attend. . .or rather one of the girls could have had her education fully paid for but it would have left the other girl with nothing. They're not even twenty-five now and instead of just getting out of grad school and starting their lives they're looking at years of work and classes and worry that by the time they have their degrees they'll be worthless. And worse of all my idiot nephew called them whining that they had to talk to the courts about stopping money coming to them. . .he was only getting a few cents an hour from his job.” Sounds of disgust and muttered 'poo baby' comments.

 

“Oh yes, the little bastard's miserable because all the cons treat him like shit. He keeps blubbering he didn't know his parents paid for the rehab. ..he thought the court did. He doesn't have a problem. . .”

 

“Idiot should have been drowned at birth. No school would give the girls scholarships?”

“It might have seemed bad.” he says sourly. “Somebody might have said something. Or that's what they said anyway when the schools that had pre-approved the girls for admittance said when they dropped them like hot potatoes.”

 

“Nice damn schools there.” The head of the facility snorts as he walks into the room.

 

“Oh yes, they're blubbering they didn't know they'd getting so much bad publicity. If. . .if . ..if they'd been able to pay their own way and grease the wheels a little they'd have been accepted.”

 

“Oh of course. . ..because schools shouldn't care about their students.” He snorts. “If you can't pay your own way, go away. We don't want you.”

 

“Some schools care more about their damn reputations. . .they don't realize their stupidity is hurting them.”

 

“And their students.”

 

Maxy snorts. “Yeah lady, drop dead. You're a goddamn idiot and I know a dozen lawyers who will love to destroy you to the molecular level.” She says as she reads a letter. Excusing herself she faxes the letter to somebody along with another letter from her records and returns to the table.

 

Her parents look at her. “Some fool at Harvard whining that me telling everybody I wasn't wanted by them was ruining the school. . .they were gonna sue.” She mock-rubs her eyes.

 

“At least Princeton is still saying it was my fault for being poor for kicking my ass to the curb after the money was gone.” Bianca snorts.

 

“Leave her the fuck alone you goddamn retarded whore.” A man bellows as he stands over her desk with the faxed papers. She's looking at the letter Maxy had got when Harvard had overturned her pre-admission and whines.

 

“But I thought she was trying to make Harvard look bad.” She wails.

 

“No, the damn school is making itself look bad. Why the hell wasn't she offered a scholarship. . .that's what the emergency fund is there for after all.”

 

“But she didn't ask for a scholarship from the fund.” She whines.

 

“Did she know about the fund? Did you offer her any options instead of saying 'so long, we don't want you anymore'?”

 

“Uuuuuuummmmmmm. . .nooooooooo.” She finally has to admit.

 

“The poor woman is working forty hours a week and taking three classes at a substandard school and you're sulking because somebody might look bad at Harvard. Grow the fuck up and send an apology letter to her. . .no wait, I'd better do that. You'd screw it up somehow.” He slams the door behind him and she wails.

 

Maxy sighs as she gets the other letter. “They're sorry that stupid woman accused me of making up stuff. The man who wrote me says that I should have been offered a full scholarship. . .they have an emergency fund for stuff like this. Dumbass whore whined that I hadn't asked for it. . .then had to finally admit she didn't tell me about that or any other schooling options.”

 

“Of course she didn't, that would be doing her damn job.” Her father snorts. Bianca's phone rings and she holds up a hand. “It's the school. Yes? Yes, this is her. What? I thought this nonsense had been fixed. The classes start next week.”

 

“Bianca?” Her mother asks. She waves a hand. “No, I don't fucking understand why my degree program has to be canceled.” Her father's face grows hard again. “No, I don't fucking care that you're sorry that I'm upset, what the hell am I supposed to do about my degree? No, no other schools in Miami offer the degree. Yeah I'm sure Lady, that's the only reason I applied to your loser school.” Maxy's phone rings and her face grows hard. “Well you can fucking kiss my ass Lady, and give me back my tuition. Ummm, because you canceled the fucking classes. No, I don't want to switch to a different degree. You know what, talk to my lawyer.” She angrily ends the call and holds up a hand as she dials another number. “James. . .oh, you already heard huh? Yeah, I just got off the phone with some absolute twat who's stunned that I could possibly be upset at having my degree program canceled a week before school's supposed to start. Ohhhh, the degree is offered elsewhere. . .isn't it? Or you can change your degree and still attend here?” She listens for a long second and nods as Maxy ends her call and curses. “You too?” She nods. “Yeah, Maxy got the news just now too. Really. . .well aren't we special then.” She snorts. “The others got letters a couple days ago. We were important enough to get phone calls.”

 

“Why are they canceling the degree programs?” Their mother sighs.

 

“Because they're miserable bastards.” Maxy snorts.

 

“True, the 'official' word is because that bitch and her crony are suing to get their jobs back. The school is covering their asses and canceling the degrees. Unofficially they're mad about all the bad publicity and are sticking it to those annoying students who dared complain. I expect the shit will be hitting the fan any day.”

 

“But I thought they were funning me about no other school in the area offering the programs.” the woman who'd ordered the degree programs cut wails as she looks at the other school options.

 

“Why the hell would they be 'funning' you about no other school offering the programs?” Her boss snorts. “Idiot, what the fuck do you think you were doing?”

 

“But. . .but. . . but Horace. . .”

 

“Is a goddamn stupid sack of shit who thinks he should control the whole damn world and was leading Lisa around by the nose. Our first thought should be about our students. . .you know the reason we're actually sitting here and not somewhere else? Now, how many students haven't had their tuition returned?” The woman turns white. “You have started reimbursing their tuition because they're not taking classes, haven't you?”

 

“But they can switch programs.” she wails.

 

“They don't want to switch programs you goddamn fool, they're going for these degrees for their jobs. They're already taking a hit about not being able to return their books, they're not losing their tuition too.”

 

“But our budget. . .” she wails as she looks at the list of money that's going to have to be returned.

 

“Too damn bad. Start cutting the checks and find out what books they need for their classes and pay half of it back.”

 

“But that will ruin our budget.” She continues to wail. “We'll be the laughing stock of the community.

 

“And tossing our students under the bus a week before classes are due to start won't? They're suing us moron.”

 

“They are?” She wails.

 

“Yeah, because not only did you cancel their degree programs a week before classes began you won't refund their tuition.”

 

“But they can switch to other programs.”


“They don't want to switch to other programs.”

 

“But why not?”

 

“Because they need the damn degrees for their jobs. Now you either start finding out what the books cost for their classes and start cutting the checks or you're fired. And pray to god we don't lose more students next semester.

 

“But why would we lose more students?” She wails.

 

“Because they don't trust the school not to yank the rug out from under them.” He snorts,. She wails. . .she'd never even thought about that.

 

“If the school doesn't shut down next year, it's going to be because the whole administration was replaced.” Maxy sighs as she sits down to dinner.

 

“Yep.” Bianca sighs. “At least thank whoever you will that no students lost their jobs thanks to dumbass and her 'no schooling for you' tantrum.”

 

“I heard rumors that Birmingham is going to be offering the degrees as part of their university program.” Their father says as he passes the lasagna. While it's nice not to have to hurry dinner so the girls can run to classes he wishes it hadn't turned out the way it had.

 

“Please god, your mouth to their ears.” Maxy says. “And please god let the classes we already took transfer.”

 

“Yes, that is the downside of changing schools.” Their father sighs. “I could kill your brother for putting you through all this.”

 

“I'm sure the other cons in prison are threatening to do just that.” Bianca snorts.

 

“But they could switch to another degree program.” The woman who'd been complaining about her budget wails at a arbitration meeting to force the school to hire her back and pay her damages. The men and women across the table give her disgusted looks. “They are in the program degrees they need for their jobs.” One of them says slowly. “Did you get a degree?”

 

“Of course, I have an associate degree in finance,” She huffs. The board rolls their eyes . . .an associate degree? Not even a bachelors. Useless fool.

 

“Then would you have switched to a degree for astrophysics?”

 

“Of course not. I'd been working in finance. . .why would I do something so fucking stupid?” she huffs. Then deflates. “Ohhhh, I never thought of it that way.”

 

“Of course you didn't, you just saw the school as your damn playground to do whatever you wanted and the students were just there to pay your check. Get the hell out of our sight, there is no way you will be getting your job back.” She runs off wailing.

 

“Do you see the school closing?”

 

“Yes, they're no longer getting any new students, the only students who will be remaining after this fall semester will be the students who have to stay there because no other school offers the program.”

 

“Or switching schools would cause them to lose years of work because the classes won't transfer.” A clerk who'd been cleaning up the table says. They look at him. “My sister wanted to transfer schools, the other school said they'd accept her but she'd have to start her program all over again since most of the classes didn't transfer. She ended up with a degree that's basically useless since no other school will accept it.”

 

The head of the group sighs. “I'd never thought about that.”

 

“The court has, they're going over all their degree programs with other schools.” The clerk says. “And the school will have to reimburse students their tuition for every class that doesn't transfer. It was just on the radio before I came in.” he says at their looks.”They also announced the school would be closing at the end of the year to give those students finishing degrees the chance to do so.”

 

“Those who can anyway, a double handful of students in the degree programs the school got rid of were close to finishing their degrees when the school pulled this dumbass stunt.”

 

“Christ, I knew the school was a goddamn joke but I never thought it would be this bad.” Maxy sighs later that night.

 

“You stupid bitch.” one of her former coworkers cusses her out as she's dragged out of the school. “Your goddamn little temper tantrum destroyed the school, now you think you can flounce back in here. No, the board didn't overturn our decision. You have no damn business being here, now get the fuck off the school grounds before we have you arrested for trespassing.”

 

“But I thought you would have changed your mind. . .” she wails as she's dragged off, every student in earshot hissing and booing at her. The teachers pull them back to their classes after the stupid woman has been dragged away by security.

 

Jessy looks over as Kiara drops onto a seat across from her at the mall with a tray of food.

 

“What was the call you got the other night?”

 

“Oh, my fool grandmother walked up to one of the other prisoner's boyfriends during a visit and tried to kiss him because she thinks she's all that. She can have any. ..”

 

“Man she wants anytime she wants, she was just proving it?”

 

“Yeah, the guy shoved her away then punched her when she tried kissing him again. Because he has to be gay not to have immediately dropped to his knees and kissing her feet. It can't possibly be because she's as plain as a board fence and a miserable human being.” Kiara snorts. “The girlfriend damn near took her head off for her stupidity before the guards dragged my grandmother away. She's whinging about the woman hitting her, it's not her fault she's so devastatingly beautiful.”

 

“I take it everybody there howled with laughter?” Xander asks as he comes over. Larry's with him and trying desperately not to say that old tagline from a shampoo commercial 'don't hate me because I'm beautiful'.

 

“Yes, now she's in a cold dark cell for ninety days and wailing about how it's not fair.”

 

“Miserable bitch. Sounds like she and my mother were both cut from the same miserable cloth.”

 

“Along with most our family members.” Larry snorts. “Okay, after here back home?”

 

Kiara gets behind the wheel of the van after folding the stroller into the back. The boys had been put back in the car seats for the trip back home and are sulking. Kiara takes a picture and sends it to the others.

 

Back at the house Jesse sniggers as he prints out the pictures and puts them up on the bulletin board. Joyce walks past and giggles. “Didn't want to be put in the car seats?”

 

“Nope, the boys came by their stubbornness honestly.” he drawls. “Look how long it took Rupert to get their parents to get their degrees.” Jenny sniggers as she looks at the pictures.

 

The truck pulls up behind the library and the boys hop out, the others coming over and starting to move boxes and bags until Larry holds up a hand. “Okay, the rest is Jessy's personal stuff.” That's moved to a golf cart and taken to her house.

 

“Have you heard anything about Birmingham offering the degrees dropped by that other school?” Jubilee asks a couple days later.

 

“They're working on it but it will be a couple years. Which sucks for the students who were close to finishing their degrees when the rug got pulled out from under them. Damn miserable school.” Paige says from across the room.

 

“Damn miserable people in charge of the school playing with students lives. They didn't care about them, they only cared about how much money they could make. Now they're whining because everybody's talking bad about them.”

 

“Well of course they're whining. . .the school's supposed to be about them, not the students.” Scott drawls from the doorway. “Jessy, you said the light needs replacing in your office?”

 

“Yeah, the damn thing won't stay on for more than three minutes. It's not the bulbs, they're good because you can turn it off and back on. . .and it goes off again.” He nods in satisfaction and goes into the office. “Ohhh yeah,” he sighs. “We'll replace it Sunday. Keep it off until then.”

 

“Can do.” Jessy says as he gets back on the golf cart. “Guys, we need to replace the light in Jessy's office, the damn thing flickers off after three minutes.”

 

“We can do it Sunday. We need to do inventory of what we have. . .”

 

“Did it last week.” Sam says. “It's on the clipboard.”

 

“Thank you.” He looks over the list and shakes his head. “We'd better stock up.”

 

“Next sheet.” The page is flipped over and he nods. “Not everything is low low but we'll be there in a bit.”

 

“Get it while we're thinking of it than before we run out.”

 

“Oh god, it feels good to be walking around on my own two feet again.” Jessy sighs as she leans against the doorway of Larry's office.

 

“I bet, did the doctors say anything?”

 

“Luck of the draw that it lasted so long. Keep taking my pills and stay off the leg until the flareup passed. Which is what I was already doing.”

 

“Are you going to make another trip to the mall for the library?”

 

“Depends on what books are due out in November. I'll probably wait until January for the library though and just go in for me.”

 

“Has anybody tried contacting you looking for money trying to claim they were family?” Jesse asks as he walks past. “Beyond the letters?”

 

“Yep, all the law offices around the area know I'm an only child of only children of. . .” Jessy makes a so on and so on hand gesture. “The threats to sue are quickly laughed at and the 'wellllll. . .she might not really be a relative of ours but. . . ' wheedling attempts to get money went nowhere. The people suing were stunned by the courts demanding proof of relationship and either loans or hardship when they tried to file the lawsuits themselves.”

 

“No, they think real life is one of those damn court shows.” Xander snorts.

 

Andrew comes past to check his mail and waves a hand. “Please, they only go on those type of shows for the damn publicity. Same with Maury and the other shows.”

 

“Scream, shout, throw chairs, act like the damn fools they are.” Joyce says as she walks past them. “Andrew, closet.”

 

“Ahhh I was expecting this to arrive soon.” He says, opening the closet and bringing out the box.

 

 

“Jessy, it's time.” Rupert calls over the intercom. Xander grabs the stroller's handle as Larry and Jessy head off.

 

“It's a girl. . .Marie Annabelle Travers.” is announced over the intercom a few minutes later. Cheering from the others.

 

“Do you have children?” The social worker who'd come out to the house asks the woman sitting on a couch.

 

“Yes, I have a pair of twins who are turning three in six weeks and a little girl who's a few days old.”

 

“Who takes care of them?”

 

“I do.” Jessy snorts.

 

“Do you have a job?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Do you have your own home?”

 

“Yes, I made damn sure I could take care of my children before I started having them.”

 

“Do they all have the same father?”

 

“No, I used donated sperm and a surrogate with my eggs.”

 

“Are the fathers in the children's lives?” A man comes up and reaches for one of her bags and picks it up. He's got a baby seat in his hand.

 

“Yep.” Jessy smirks as Larry heads over to the changing area against a wall to change the baby.

 

Xander ducks into the room.

 

“Are you hiding from Cordy?” Jessy snorts.

 

“Heeeeellllll yes,” Xander says fervently. “She's doing her nails and smiling. Being stabbed with a nail file fucking hurts.”

 

“Another mother?”

 

“Yes, they have a little girl who's six months older than the boys. We want to make sure all the kids are close. Cordy's about eight and a half months pregnant and as she will tell you the Queen bitch all the time. It ain't just a mood swing.”

 

Larry's laughing as he changes the baby, nodding frantically. Two boys run over and latch onto Xander's legs, he makes monster noises as he walks around the room. . .picking up a girl and putting her on his shoulders. The social worker smiles. Especially when he trades off kids so everybody in the room has a ride.

 

“I understand you plan on homeschooling?”

“Yes, we want to offer more classes than the school in town does. They try their best for the students but the state keeps cutting school funding.” the woman sighs and nods. “A good number of us work for Stark in Marley and they offer schooling from kindergarten through doctorates. Not many people plan to take advantage of it here for their children but between the home-schooling stores and Stark's plans we'll be good.”

 

“What about stuff like field trips, proms, senior trips. . .?”

 

“We can come along on field trips, we plan on having our own as well. We've got a list of museums, galleries, and other places we plan on taking the kids to both in the area and on extended trips. The Smithsonian is a must.” The social worker smiles. “Proms the school has allowed other homeschooled students to attend, same with the senior trip. We just gotta know how much money to give the school. Most of us. .. .didn't have good high school experiences and we don't want that for our kids.”

 

“Bullying?”

 

“Sometimes for all that schools say they have a zero-tolerance policy.” the social workers sighs but nods. “Cordy had to live in a motel and work nights and weekends her last two years of school when her parents vanished, Larry left home because of his sexual preference. . .Xander was in the foster care system and they kicked him out at sixteen, I did my schooling online after I was diagnosed with RA when I was eleven.”

 

“You are a goddamn idiot, I spent the day at their home and there is no reason for their children to be in the system. They are wonderful parents. Leave.Them.ALONE!”

 

“Bu. . . but. . .but if I got her kids taken away from her, she'd have to give me back that money to get them back.” Dumbass wails over the phone. Then screams as her mother grabs her by the hair and slaps the hell out of her.

 

“Monica, don't kill her.” the social worker's voice says over the phone. “I wouldn't want to have to report you.”

 

“Oh, don't worry Maggie, that would be over too damn quick. This stupid little bitch will wish she was dead by the time I get done with her.” She ends the call and screams at her daughter for hours.

 

“And leave her the hell alone you goddamn retarded whore. Why are you so fucking stupid that you can't get it through your useless skull that she's not going to give you a damn dime.”

 

“But I gotta work.” she whines on the floor.

 

“Yeah, that's something a goddamn adult does you retarded sack of shit. You're as goddamn stupid as you are useless. Grow the fuck up you miserable sack of shit. And get the hell out of my house.”


“But. . .but where am I supposed to go?” She wails.

 

“I'd say Hell but they wouldn't want you. I don't give a shit where you go, you're not living under my roof anymore.”

 

“But Mommmmmmmmy. . .” she wails as her purse is handed to her and her ass kicked out the door. “It's not fair that she got that money from you.”

 

“It's not fair that you slammed into her car going eighty miles an hour.”

 

“But I lost my license.” she wails against the locked door. “She . . .she could have got out of my way.”

 

“The car was parked you retarded moron. In a lot. She was in the store.”

 

“Weeeeellllllll. . .yesssss. But. ..but . . .but you act like I killed somebody.”

 

“If you'd have killed somebody thanks to your damn driving you'd be in prison now asshole.”

 

“But it's not fair I have to work. . .” she continues to wail.

 

“What the the stupid little asshole do now?” Her father asks when he arrives home. His daughter is wailing and grabbing onto him and he pushes her away. She tries shoving her way into the door, Daddy will make Mommy let her come back home and she slaps her across the face again. Daddy grabs her away from the door and shoves her across the porch.

 

“Dumbass whore called Maggie to try to get Ms. Michaels kids taken away from her. Because she'd have to give her back the money to get her kids back. Needless to say, I tossed her ass out of the house.”

 

“Get the hell out of my sight before I kill you.” Her father says in an icy tone. She scurries off, wailing that it's not fair. . .she'd have given the kids back to her. It's not like she wanted them.

 

“Goddamn retarded whore.”

 

“Oh yes, she blubbered that it wasn't like she killed anybody slamming into a parked car going eighty miles an hour.

 

“Of course not, god forbid the bitch ever take responsibility for her own damn actions.” Her father snorts. The phone rings later that night and it's her counselor, who can be heard yelling at the fool in the background when he finds out what she'd done.

 

“But I deserve that money.” she wails.

 

“No, you deserve to get the stupidity beaten out of you for this stunt. You're a goddamn stupid little brat who can't leave Ms. Michaels the hell alone.”

 

“But she got my money.” she wails.

 

“You destroyed her car driving like a goddamn idiot.”

 

“Weeeelllllll.. . .I. . .I guess so.” She ducks her head and drags her toe in the carpet.

 

“You guess so.” He drawls sarcastically. She wails again. “Shut that crap up.” he snaps. “Dear god, how damn stupid are you that you can't leave her alone?”

 

“But I gotta work.” she wails.

 

“That's what a grown up does.”

 

“But she doesn't work . ..does she?”

 

“Yes, she owns a successful business. What, you thought she sat on her ass living off the money your parents sent her? Dear god woman, you are that damn stupid. Do the world a favor and kill yourself, you're too damn stupid to live.”

 

“But I didn't think she worked. . .why else be shopping in the middle of the day.”

 

“Because she needed a few things you damn fool.”

“But her car was old.” She hisses in scandalized tones. “If she had a job why wouldn't she have a new. . . .” She backpedals rapidly at the look of sheer hatred on his face.

 

“Not everybody in the goddamn world needs a new car asshole. Her car was paid for, which is more damn important. The money for a new car can go to better uses.” He continues to blister her ass verbally until she's curled against the wall blubbering.

 

“And leave her the hell alone you stupid little sack of shit.” He tosses her out of his office and goes home. “Sorry dear, I had a client call wailing about how miserable she was.” He kisses his wife on the temple.

 

His wife knows better to ask about his clients, she just smiles and leans back against him. He helps her get dinner on the table and she tells him about some of the people she'd seen at the library that day. He knows she's trying to get his mind off his patient, he knows she knows he knows, She smiles and he mentally replays her last words. “How could Elvis come down from the mothership? I thought he was in Polaris on a trade delegation?” She sniggers.

 

“They refused to trade when they heard Justin Bieber singing.”

 

“Don't blame them there.” He fills the dishwasher and starts it running before going to his office to send off a report. He knows once his boss gets this report she'll no longer be a client at the office.

 

“Oh dear fucking god.” He snorts as her father comes in the next day with a rambling letter saying she's going to end her life by walking into the ocean because everybody was being so mean to her. She had to work. “This was found tucked into her purse on the counter at one of the shops at the beach, I don't know if this is real or another damn attempt to get attention. Because she can swim.” He says at his look.

 

“She's no doubt looking for the press, people to be looking for her body in boats. . .and all that crap. She'll wail about how she was forced to do this. . . how Ms. Michaels won't return her money. . . ”

 

“Yep, and she's not getting it from me. The stupid woman burned her bridges with the family, she's fucking lucky she's not in jail for filing a false report. If Maggie didn't know what a miserable person she was and took her 'report' with the whole damn shaker of salt.”

 

“Did you alert the police?”

 

“Yes, but told them this was most likely another attempt to get attention on her. If she shows up with some wild tale she'll be arrested. Because I showed them the 'suicide' letter and this isn't the first time she's said she was going to kill herself because nobody was kissing her ass. Bitch will finally realize she was better off shutting her damn mouth, keeping her head down and working. Because the stupid bitch was nearly done paying off the money.”

 

“Is she still wailing about not being able to drive?”

 

“Oh yes, the bitch wanted to sue Ms. Michaels to stop driving. . .if she couldn't drive the other woman shouldn't be able to either. She got her ass kicked out of their office and wailed her life was over back then.”

 

“Oh dear god, I didn't hear that.”

 

“No, that was before we had her moved from that useless bitch who was wiping her ass and telling her it was everybody else's fault.”

 

“That useless fool, she was very quickly fired when the board found out she wasn't doing anything to help her clients. If the little fool didn't drive like a goddamn maniac and rack up a couple dozen tickets she might still be able to drive.”

 

“But that was being mean to her. “ Her father drawls. “The other cars can just get out of the way. . .that's what the bitch was blubbering when she caused the accident. . .that the parked car should have got out of her way. She didn't know it was a parking lot.”

 

“Your daughter was a fool.”

 

“Oh yes, if the twit shows up I'm selling her to one of the ships that go to Antarctica for years at a time.” He guffaws despite himself. “The bitch will be miserable.”

 

“No more than the idiot deserves.” Her father snorts. Her now former counselor makes a copy of the rambling suicide letter to close out her file and he goes into the office after an early lunch. The whole office is talking bad about his daughter and he knows she's probably wailing somewhere. In Hell hopefully.

 

At the house Jessy shakes her head at the sheer stupidity of that fool woman a couple hours after Thanksgiving dinner. “Dumb ass whore, she's just hurting herself. She's not hurting me. Though if the bitch tried getting in my face I'd be hurting her.”

 

“Some people never grew out of the me, me, me, don't you know it's all about me stage. She's one of them.” Phillip snorts as he looks at Marie. She's sleeping in her stroller while the boys are playing in their room with the others. Cordy comes through and puts Michael's stroller next to hers.

 

“You don't mind?”

 

“Pshea, I'm used to taking care of two babies at one time and the others are nearby.”

 

“Thanks, I finally stopped bleeding like a stuck pig and want to soak in the hot tub.”

 

“Did that a lot of times and I didn't actually push a watermelon out of a hole the size of an orange.”

 

“Don't remind me. . .please.” Cordy sighs as she heads off.

 

“Arthur, did Kate pre-apply for law school?” Rupert asks the next day.

 

“She's applying next summer. That way she'll be three years in.” Arthur says. “Her advisors think she'll get right in, cynic in me says because of the attack and tornado.”

 

“Indeed. . .or some fool who thinks they're all that will complain that that's why they weren't accepted into the school. No matter that other factors kept them from being admitted. . . it always has to be somebody else's fault.”

 

“Of course. . .just like it was my fault my car was destroyed.” Jessy snorts. “I should have got out of the moron's way. . .for all that my car was parked.” Adam looks at her and she tells him the story. “Damn fool.” He snorts.

 

“Yep, the moron is the one who called in that social worker.” Rupert looks at her. “If I get her children taken away, she'll have to give me the money to get them back.”

 

“Oh dear lord.” He sighs.

 

“Yep, the old family friend cussed her out and told her there was no damn reason for us to lose our children, her mother slapped the shit out of her. . .the social worker asked her not to kill her because she'd have to report her. Momma said she'd wish she was dead by the time she got through with her. Yelled at her for hours and tossed her out of the house, told her she wasn't living under her roof anymore. Moron went wailing to her counselor because Daddy wouldn't make Mommy let her back in and he told her off. She left a rambling 'I'm going to drown myself in the ocean' letter in her purse on the beach, her family thinks it's just another bid for attention. . .”

 

“She'd come rushing to the news cameras and policemen calling her name?” Cordy snorts.

 

“Yeah, there's not going to be any publicity, the police know she's missing so if a body shows up they should be able to identify her. If she does come out of hiding she's going to be arrested. Threatening suicide is still a crime. She'll no doubt wail about that in a 72 hour lockup, she just wanted some attention, nothing happened the last time she said she was going to kill herself. . .blah blah blah.” Jessy snorts. “Good riddance to her.”

 

“Is she still seeking counseling?”

“Nope, it was being shoved down her throat. Stupid cunt should have had a hose shoved in one ear so it can blow all the shit in her head out the other.” Jessy snorts. “Her stupidity trying to get the state to take the kids made the office cut her loose.”

 

“Yes, the fool has proven nothing short of a 2 by 4 upside the head will get through to her.” Xander snorts.

 

“Is Max picking up orders?”

 

“He's coming out tomorrow, Monday we'll start filling containers, we'll be done with everything by next August the way we're going.”

 

“Are you still working on your gowns?” Joyce asks, looking at Jessy. The others snigger.

 

“Yes, I'm on my third gown and have them in a room in the house. I've got cost write-ups for everything I'm working on.” She nods in satisfaction.

 

“Gowns?” Adam asks.

 

“Wedding gowns, I got hit with ideas a couple years ago, drew them out so they'd leave me alone. Joyce scanned the drawings and sent them to the teachers in New York, they insisted I make them.” Adam sniggers at her hangdog look and she makes a semi-rude gesture his direction.

 

The next morning Jessy swats Xander lightly upside the head as she walks to the trays. “Keep your damn twisted plots to control the world in your own head. . .Dr. Evil.” Everybody looks at Xander, who's stopped rubbing his head and is howling with laughter, then looks at Jessy who's muttering as she fills her tray, then back.

 

She puts her tray down and points at Larry. “Austin Powers.” Everybody cackles. She points at Jesse next. “Mini-me.”

 

“I'd have thought Andrew more Mini-Me.”

 

“Andrew was Scott.”

 

“Awwww, so were you Frau?” Xander cooes.

 

Jessy just looks at Joyce. Xander cackles again. “And Rupert was tooey.” Everybody laughs . . .especially at Rupert's sigh of 'at least I was able to wear decent clothes'.

 

“So, did you get back to your Uncle?” Jenny asks Willow.

 

“Yes, he was letting me know the upper brass tried taking the lab away from Catherine Willows to give it to some other guy. She wouldn't mind a demotion, would she? It doesn't seem right for a woman to be in charge.”

 

“I hope she destroyed the police department?” Rupert says sourly.

 

“Oh yes, the blubbering fool didn't know people would be upset at her losing her job to a man from another city. He didn't know she'd be losing her job, he thought the job was open. . .not because some bastard was taking her job. She's still in charge, he's working with her. The asshat lost his cushy position and is wailing that he didn't think she'd complain. . .let alone tell the media.”

 

“Asshat.”

 

“But no cop is going to willingly work with a woman.” Willow mock-whines.

 

“And there's no women cops Some of them even in charge of men?”

 

“Ohhhh, that's all for show. No real cop would willingly work with a woman.” Willow sneers. “Every officer talked to called him a woman hating fool. He ran off blubbering when the court kicked his ass up around his shoulders instead of giving him back his cushy job. He was going to walk out into the desert and kill himself.” Willow mock-blubbers the last sentence.

 

“Oh Lord, fools like that should have been beaten to death before they learned to speak.”

 

“Oh yes, so not only did she keep her position, she got a damn big judgment against the police department for trying that shit.”

 

“No doubt somebody was worried that having a competent person in the lab would ruin their plans.” Wesley snorts. Everybody nods.

 

After breakfast Jessy heads out to the seamstress shop, Max and a friend cooing at the boys playing in the pen and the baby in her stroller.

 

“Cordy?”

 

“Threatening to gut Xander. . .again.” The woman snickers. She's made the same threat against her husband with all three of their children.

 

“Are these the sketches you were working on earlier?” He nods at the notebooks.

 

“Yeah, the others looked them over and gave me notes on them.” They look through them and Max makes a note to call somebody before they open the other door and they look over the garments, the boys coming in with the racks from the trucks, moving everything to the racks and then the trucks. Max hands over an envelope and Jessy and the boys head back to the main house after the trucks are gone.

 

The next day Jessy and the others head to the seamstress shop after breakfast, Jessy handing out the bonus Max had given her yesterday before she grabs the notebooks and starts calling out outfits. By the time the seamstress building shuts down for Christmas they have nearly half the remaining outfits in containers.

 

“Jessy, that fool woman finally showed back up.” Larry says as she walks into the main building. She looks at him. “She walked into a police station with some fantastic story about how she'd been kidnapped but nobody believed her crap. She's currently in a 72 hour mental health watch. . .wailing that she thought Mommy and Daddy would have forgiven her by now.”

 

“She's not nuts, she's just stupid.” Xander snorts behind Jessy.

 

“Indeed.” Rupert drawls from the doorway of his office. “She is going to be facing some serious charges when she gets out of that room. Poor dear won't like prison, the other cons will knock the stupidity out of her. By taking off her head at the shoulders if necessary.”

 

“Couldn't happen to a nicer sack of shit.” Jessy snorts. “Especially if they find out she tried to have my kids taken away from me.”

 

“Oh yes, I understand 'somebody' has been dropping hints about that in various ears. Poor dear. . .a lot of the prisoners are mothers and won't appreciate her trying to take another woman's children away. ..especially for such a piddling amount of money,”

 

“Yes. . .dear god the woman acts like I was awarded millions of dollars, dear god it was only five thousand dollars.” Jessy rolls her eyes. “The other cases got more money than I did. But I caused the accident because my parked car wouldn't get out of her way.”

 

“Her car was parked you fucking little moron.”

 

“But I didn't know it was a parking lot.” she wails in the courtroom.

 

“Really, buildings materialize in the middle of the road where you live.?” The judge drawls. “Leave her the hell alone you stupid little sack of shit.”

 

“But she got all that money from me.” She wails.

“She got five thousand dollars in the judgment, you paid that off years ago.”

 

“No. . .no. . .no, she got more than that. . .didn't she?” The judgment is handed over and she wails. “All this. . .for nothing.” She continues to wail as she's dragged back to her cell before she can be transferred to prison, the guards and other prisoners telling her to shut the fuck up.

 

“But I thought she got five hundred thousand dollars from me.” she wails in her cell.

 

“You're a goddamn moron, no judge would give her that kind of money for her car. Goddamn fucking idiot. The owners of the other cars got a helluva lot more money than she did.”

 

“But I thought she got half a million dollars.” she continues to wail. Until her parents arrive and slap her across the face with the original judgment paperwork from her own room and a copy of the bank check. She drops onto the floor sobbing brokenheartedly as they walk away, telling her to grow the fuck up and get a life.

 

“Jessy, we just got a call from the court, that stupid bitch just left on the prison bus still wailing that she thought you got more money from her than you did.”

 

“Huh?” Jessy says, looking at Larry. Rupert is staring at him too.

 

“Oh yes, she was convinced you got five hundred thousand dollars in the judgment. . .not five thousand.” Brays of laughter from everybody in the cafeteria. At least among the younger adults, Wesley is sighing, Joyce and Jenny are rolling their eyes, and Rupert is 'oh dear lord'ing left and right. “When she was told you only got five thousand dollars and she paid that off years ago. . .well she started blubbering all this was for nothing.”

 

Jessy shakes her head.

 

Jessy nudges the stroller as Marie settles down to sleep. Harmony comes over with Laura and puts her in the playroom before settling on the couch across from Jessy.

 

“Cordy watching the babies?”

 

“Yep, she can't stand to be in her house anymore. We all know that feeling.”

 

“Oh yes,” Jessy yawns. “We'll have rain by dinner. Thankfully a regular storm and not a thunderstorm or hurricane.”

 

“Are all the boxes handed out now?”

 

“Yes, despite some asswipes in the local governments who wanted to lord it over the 'leeetle' people and make them kiss their asses for it. Morons were pouting when they found out they couldn't touch the boxes, the National Guard and others were in charge of distributing them.”


“Serves the assholes right.” Jubilee snorts as she walks past. She slumps onto Jessy's couch and closes her eyes. “But isn't that why people go into politics in the first place?”

 

“Certainly seems like it. For every person who helps somebody there's a couple dozen who are only in it to help themselves.”

 

“Only a couple dozen?” Jenny snorts as she walks past.

 

“I was trying to be nice.”

 

“Try harder dear.” She pats her on the shoulder as she walks over to a closet and brings out a box of paper. The cardboard goes on top of the full container and MacGyver chuckles as he takes it out to dump for pickup tomorrow.

 

“Gods, people are fucking idiots.” Andrew snorts as he walks in a few hours later. “Some asshole at the mall wanted cars to be parked by color, one row all red cars, one row black. . .” Everybody in earshot rolls their eyes. “Another moron wanted every car moved so he could have an entire row to himself. . .needless to say that didn't happen. One moron tried announcing she wanted everybody out of the mall so she could shop by herself . . .moron pouted when everybody ignored her.”

 

“As they should. You're never going to have a store by yourself unless you're special and made arrangements to shop after the store closes. And that's usually for charity groups, not an individual.” Rupert sighs.

 

“But millionaires and billionaires do it all the time.” Jubilee mock blubbers then laughs as she looks at all the millionaires and billionaires around her. Who all snort. “Yah, right. Either you shop like other people or you have 'people' who run out for stuff.” Jessy snorts. “And those fools are usually in entertainment and can't handle a real life where nobody's kissing their asses for existing.”

 

“Those type of personalities usually end up killing themselves with drug or alcohol.” Phillip sighs as he walks through.

 

“And sometimes their damn families are just as bad. . .Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan. . .”

 

“Anna Nicole Smith.” Jessy snorts. “You notice you never heard anything from her loving Mommy once she realized that little girl wasn't getting all that money?” Everybody snorts and nods.

 

“Whitney's family is a piece of work, blaming Bobby Brown for getting her into drugs when she was doing drugs before she met him.”

 

“Well yeah, they sued that boyfriend for oodles and gobs of money when that girl died, claiming he got her hooked. . .Hell, she grew up with two parents that did drugs.” Paige snorts. “Just like it wasn't any damn surprise that Anna Nicole would kill herself with an overdose, her son did the same damn thing.”

 

“Hell, she was halfplotzed all the damn time to begin with.” Andrew snorts. The others nod. “Losing her son just made it worse.”

 

Jessy straightens up a few days later, holding her back and swallowing two motrin dry before taking the final pictures on this latest gown. Sending everything off to the school in New York she looks at the time and sighs, four in the damn morning.

 

Rupert looks at her when she finally drags herself in the following day.

 

“I was up half the damn night finishing the latest gown.” She says around a yawn as she pours herself a cup of coffee. “I got a few hours sleep but don't expect too much of me today. My advanced age is catching up with me.” Larry's guffaw is muffled by his arm.

 

“Leave them ALONE you goddamn stupid sack of shit.” His own lawyer bellows in the face of the fool that drove into the mall.

 

“But they don't need that money, they're not in school anymore.” He wails.

 

“Because the school they had to settle for instead of 'good' schools canceled their degree programs you goddamn stupid sack of shit.” He says slowly. “Leave your sisters the hell alone before one of the others beats your stupid ass half to death.”

 

“But I can't live like this.”

 

“Then you should have thought about that before you got drunk and stupid and ran into the mall. You're not the damn victim here, your sisters are. And leave them the fuck ALONE.”

 

“But they're not in school anymore.” he continues to wail as his lawyer cusses his fool ass out. The door opens and his father walks in, the young man scrabbling against the wall at the look of sheer hatred on his face.

 

“You useless little sack of shit, your sisters were working and taking classes for their future and all you can do is whine they don't need that money anymore because their school screwed them over? Instead of having an ounce of guilt at keeping them from attending the schools they wanted because of your stupidity?” He continues to berate the young man as he advances on him and his stupid ass son is curled in a corner sobbing.

 

“If you ever get out of here, don't even think about coming back home. Cause I'll goddamn kill you for what you're putting your sisters through.”

 

“But Daddy. . . they're not taking classes.” If he says it enough. . .people will have to start listening to him . . .won't they?

 

“Because their school administration if full of immature assholes like you who play petty politics then whine like babies when they realize they didn't get what they wanted.”

 

“Have at him gentlemen,” one of the guards says as he's dragged out of the meeting room. “Little asshole is wailing his sisters shouldn't have the money being taken out of his pay, they're not taking classes anymore thanks to asswipes in the school administration canceling their degree courses. They're twenty-five and should have just got their masters instead of being less than halfway through their bachelors thanks to working 40, 50 hours a week and taking three classes a semester.”

 

The other prisoners begin advancing on him and he takes off running. Daddy might not have been able to beat the stupidity out of him, but the other convicts certainly can. The guard shakes his head. “Don't hurt the bastard bad enough to put him in the hospital ward.”

 

“Oh, we won't go that far. . .but the bastard will stop bothering his sisters and learn to keep him goddamn big fat mouth shut.” A con says as he strolls past, tripping the stupid kid as he runs back the way he'd come. Grabbing him by the hair he drags him to his feet. “Oh shut up you miserable little brat, what the hell is your maladjustment that you can't leave your sisters the hell alone?”

 

“But they're taking all my money.” he wails.

 

“It ain't your money asshole, it's the state's money and the state can send that money wherever the hell they want. You're a useless sack of shit that blew off rehab because you don't think you have a problem and left your family holding the bag for all that money.”

 

“But I thought the state would have paid for it.” He whines until he gets backhanded. “Shut your sniveling mouth. If you paid a bit of attention to anybody but yourself you'd have known the state wouldn't have paid for it. That's why so many people forcibly sober up in jail and then attend AA.”

 

“But I don't have. . .”

 

“Yes you do you goddamn retarded sack of shit.” The other cons proceed to let him know they don't approve of his rampant stupidity. Like the one convict had told the guard, they don't hurt him bad enough to be in the prison hospital but the lingering bruises and sore spots will remind him he's a goddamn fool.

 

Back home, his father finds Maxy and Bianca coming back from their last day of work for the year.

 

“Girls, your brother would tell you he's sorry for everything you're going through if he wasn't a miserable idiot who should have been drowned at birth.”

 

“Is that asshole trying to get the money stopped again?”

 

“Oh yes, you don't need it now since you're not taking classes anymore.” He mock-blubbers. “I cussed the little fool out and so did his own lawyer. The guards were giving him to the other prisoners for 'correction' when I left.

 

“There's days I wish Adam had died in that car accident instead of Lindsey.” Their mother says quietly. They look at the picture of the oldest girl who would have been twenty-nine today.

 

Jessy snorts as she reads a letter from the prison after Christmas dinner.

 

“Dumbass not settling in well?”

 

“No, this is a copy of the letter the prison's chaplain sent her parents. The bitch is whining about not being able to eat ten meals a day, the work is hard. . .much harder than a job outside would be and she's not getting all the money from her job there either, the other convicts are mean to her. . .” Joyce snorts and rolls her eyes as Xander plays the world's smallest violin. “Bitch spent days whining she thought I'd been awarded five hundred thousand dollars . . . not five thousand. Another convict damn near took her head off, yelling at her no court would award that kind of money for a car. . .”

 

“No, that's the kind of money an insurance company would offer up as a quick settlement for an injury case.” Rupert says as he walks past. “Hoping that the injured party doesn't get a lawyer and sue for what they really deserve. Jessy, how are you on the containers?”

 

“We got half the remaining garments in the containers to work on, we might have a few left over with the prom and graduation dresses but I doubt it the way everybody works on them. I already told Max to expect to pick the rest up September at the latest.” He nods in satisfaction. “He's already warned me to expect more orders since I got all that new stuff from last year.”

 

“I don't see the stupid bitch getting out of prison. . .” Jenny says quietly.

 

“Neither do I,. . .or her parents. Or the authorities at the prison. Same with that stupid little asswipe who ran into the mall twice. He's blubbering that he shouldn't have to give his sisters the money their father took from their education fund for his cars and rehab, they're not taking classes anymore thanks to the administration at their school playing mas machos with their students lives.”

 

“Is the school still going to be closing in May?”

 

“Yes, every student who can get their degree by then is doing so. Everybody else is hoping like hell that they don't have to lose too many classes when their degrees transfer. If the other schools pick up their degrees.”

 

“How old are his sisters?”

 

“Twenty-five, they'd have finished their masters if they'd been able to still attend the schools they wanted. . .but you know big league schools. . .if you can't grease the wheels, go away. They'd been approved but once the money ran out. . .screw you.” Rupert sighs as the others swear. “That's the only reason Kate got into Princeton. . .first the publicity from the attack and then the tornado. They're being seen as great big martyrs by taking in that poor blind girl.”

 

“And if she hadn't been attacked or her parents died it would be . . .screw you.”

 

“Yes, now you or Xander, both billionaires would have been in instantly.”

 

If we used the Travers and Austin names.” Xander says, holding up a finger. The others nod. “Because Harris and Michaels wouldn't have the same impact even though we've had ourselves successful under our own names.”

 

“Of course not, no 'real' school would ever want students who've made something of themselves.” Jenny drawls. “Because they're grown-up and won't screw around like the kids who never had to do anything for themselves before.”

 

“Yeah, they'll actually get their degrees. . .and I swear some schools can't have that.”

 

“Well no, don't you know we're just here to babysit your brats?” Jesse snorts as he walks past. “Xander, come give me a hand.”

 

Xander follows Jesse down the hall as Jessy stands up, stretches, and looks in the playroom where the boys are carousing while Marie and Michael nap under the eyes of a house elf.

 

“Did you hear anything about the school in town trying to be shut down by some Bertha better than you?”

 

“Yes, some fool was up in arms about the school offering a salad bar. The school was poisoning the children, haven't they been listening to the stories on the news about the e.coli outbreak? They were all 'ohhh' when the school told them their lettuce was grown in the commercial farm outside town.”

 

“E.coli?”

 

“Romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. At first it was just shredded lettuce packages but it went on to include the stuff in prepackaged salads.” Larry says. “Since all our lettuce is grown by us it doesn't matter.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. “I think over thirty states had outbreaks the last time they said anything on the news.”

 

Jessy unlocks the door of the seamstress shop, everybody following her in and grabbing containers, lining up to use the layout tables as Jessy bundles up the mail and goes to her office to sort through it. Most of it goes in the recycling bin unopened. One letter from a lawyer has her leaving a blistering response in a voicemail and she faxes the letter to the house's lawyers.

 

“Are you fucking stupid?” His boss bellows a couple days later. “What the hell concern is it of yours if she uses a DBA? It's hers, she did the damn paperwork. She's been using the name for twenty-seven years.”

 

“B. . .but. . .but. . .but my client. . .”

 

“Was sued under her legal name. Your asswipe client is just sulking because her damn lies finally got her ass handed to her by the court.”

 

In prison the stupid bitch who'd destroyed Jessy's car gets a fist in the face. “And leave her alone you goddamn stupid miserable sack of shit.” The other prisoner says over her wailing body. “I don't care how goddamn miserable you are. . .she's the victim here, not you.”

“But she should have. . .”

 

“Kicked your stupid head off to get rid of the goddamn shit between your ears.” Another prisoner snorts as she comes over. “What did this stupid bitch do?”

 

“Tried to get a lawyer to bother the woman whose car she destroyed. . .because she's using a different name and that has to be illegal. Entertainers and authors do it all the time you goddamn retarded whore.”

 

“But why won't anybody believe me when I say she got half a million dollars from me?” she wails. The other prisoner drags her to her feet by the hair.

 

“Because it's not true you goddamn retarded sack of shit.” Each word is punctuated with a slap. “You are a lying cunt who needs the stupidity beaten out of her ten times a day.”

 

“Ladies?” A guard comes over.

 

“Stupid here tried to get the woman whose car she destroyed in trouble. . .because she uses a business name. Moron didn't realize she sued her under her legal name.”

 

“Either name would have been acceptable in a court of law moron.” He snorts. “Don't kill her.” he says, walking off to her renewed wailing.

 

Jessy leans against the doorway of the inner room, a couple weeks later. “We're going to have to work in here a couple weeks. The racks are getting full.”

 

Faith walks over to the door. “Yeah, they'll be full by next week. You hear from the prison?”

 

“Yeah, dumbass is wailing why won't anybody believe her when she says I got a half-million dollars from her.”

 

“Ummm, because she's too goddamn stupid to live?” Faith snorts. “No court would give anybody a half-million dollar judgment for a damn car, the verdict would have been overturned immediately.”

 

“Well we all knew the bitch and reality weren't BFFs.” Jessy snorts. Jubilee sniggers in the other room.

 

Jessy sighs at all the valentines day stuff going up in the stores when she goes to pick up her pills in February.

 

“Gaudy crap, isn't it?” One of the other women chuckles. “The sad thing is, this isn't even the stuff the kids would see in their classrooms or the little valentines they'd exchange there.”

 

“Oh, schools are doing away with that.” Somebody else snorts. “Because you know the little monsters, they wouldn't give out valentines to everybody, they'll make sure some kid they don't like doesn't get any while everybody else gets dozens.”

 

“They're doing away with parties too, too many kids with food allergies or other problems.”

 

“Diabetes.”

 

“Yep.”

 

Jessy answers her phone and her face turns white. “Is everybody okay? I don't give a shit about that goddamn retarded whore. Good.” Jessy drawls. “Damn bitch.” Everybody looks at her. “God damn retarded whore who tried claiming she owned designers shops in Miami and got shot by a man trying to get her off a pregnant employee. . .the dumb bitch showed up at the shop and tried to grab the outfits the others were working on. . .she didn't 'wike' them. What did they think they were doing working out outfits she hadn't authorized?”

 

“Oh dear god,” Somebody sighs. “Yeah, Faith about ripped her damn head off getting her away from them then kicked her ass up around her shoulders all over the parking lot before security drug her off.”

 

“Wasn't she in prison?”

 

“Just got out and already back to her usual nonsense. Dumbass doesn't seem to fucking realize that people know she doesn't own the damn business. . .why come back to places you've already been and think that you're going to get what you want this time?”

 

“Because she's a goddamn idiot.”

 

“Do you need to hurry off Jessy? We can deliver your pills”

 

“No, the police dragged her off and her own lawyer is yelling at her. He done told her to stop this nonsense.” She drawls.

 

“But she's so goddamn special she should be allowed to do whatever she wants?”

 

“Yes, just like that goddamn fool who destroyed my car at the dollar store.” Jessy snorts. “Moron is still bleating in prison that she 'thought' I got five hundred thousand dollars out of her, not five thousand when I sued her.”

 

Bullshit is the common consensus to that statement.

 

“Prison? Has the government made too fucking stupid to live a crime now?” Jessy sighs and shakes her head, telling everybody the whole sad tale. “Fucking fool deserves to rot in there then.” One of the matrons in town snorts. “Have you heard anything about Birmingham taking over the degrees from that other school?” She knows Jessy is friends with some of the teachers.

 

“Janice says they're still working on them, but she's afraid the students are going to be right back to where they started. . .that the classes they took won't transfer. Your husband is the uncle of that fool that ran into the mall, right?” She asks the clerk behind the counter.

 

“Yes, my husband and his mother are brother and sister. That miserable bastard is still trying to get the court to stop sending them money to replace everything their father took out of their education fund for him. First it was he couldn't live on the few cents he got an hour from his job. . .” 'Poo baby' is sarcastically said by everybody in earshot. “Then when the girls degree programs got canceled he should be able to keep the money because 'well, they're not taking classes now.” Ooh la la sounds.

 

“I hope that fool is beaten three times a day every day for the entire time he's in prison.”

 

“Oh yes, his father told him not to bother to come home when he gets out, he wouldn't be welcome. Jessy, you're done.”

 

“Is she mentally ill?” The prosecutor asks a couple days later as he listens to the fool wailing in her cell that her clothes are old.

 

“No, she's just a stupid little shit who needs to be beaten ten times a day for her stupidity. She can't have a whole new wardrobe every season because all her money is going to her bills. And the conservators over her wouldn't accept a new seasonal wardrobe a necessity.” The prosecutor's assistant hisses and boos. “Damn moron will not get it through her thick skull that going back to the place you were arrested before and trying to take over isn't going to work this time either.”

 

“She's going to be facing prison again.”

 

“That or somebody's going to shoot the fucking bitch this time.” Her own lawyer snorts. “Because she's too damn stupid to live.”

 

“Yep.”

 

“And leave them alone you stupid bitch.” He yells at her a few hours later. “Nobody believes that you own those businesses. You have no damn right demanding they stop working on garments they've already been paid for because you didn't approve them.”

 

“But I want a whole new wardrobe.” she wails in the meeting room.

 

“Then get a goddamn second job and use that money for the clothes you want you fucking moronic bitch.” He screams in her face. “But leave designers and seamstresses the hell alone.”

 

“But aren't you getting me out of here?”

 

“Fuck no you goddamn moronic sack of shit, you don't get out of here except to go into a prison cell.”

 

She wails like a siren as she's dragged out of the meeting room and tossed back in a cell.

 

“Gods, she must think everybody is as stupid as she is.” Paige snorts as Jessy finishes updating them on the case. “Do we got a restraining order against her?”

 

“The judge is thinking about making it a part of her parole or probation. Of course if she does the full time . . .”

 

“We can shoot the bitch if she shows up again.” Faith smirks. The others nod.

 

“Shut up you retarded whore!” a voice bellows in the county jail. “You're too goddamn stupid to fucking live so just do the world a favor and die already. Nobody's going to drop everything and give you a new goddamn wardrobe because your clothes are old. Gods woman, you'd been to that damn shop before and they already knew you weren't the owner. .. what the hell did you think you were doing going back there.” The rant is picked up by other voices and the wailing woman sobs brokenheartedly in her cell about how everybody is being mean to her.

 

“Huh, really? I thought drowning in a toilet bowl was a damn urban myth.” Jessy can be heard saying the next morning at breakfast. Everybody in the cafeteria turns to look at her as she nods vigorously even though the person on the other end of the line can't see her. She says a few more words and ends the call.

 

“Dumbass bitch drowned herself in the toilet bowl in jail because everybody was being mean to her by yelling at her to stop her fucking whining and grow her dumb ass up. They couldn't believe she was goddamn stupid enough to come back to a place she'd been arrested at once already still trying to claim she owned the business and having a fit about everybody working on stuff she hadn't approved.”

 

“Well, nobody ever said the fool woman was smart.” Rupert says.

 

“Good riddance to bad rubbish as Mom would have said.” Jay snorts. “Because not even Mom would have had something good to say about that miserable woman.”

 

“No she wouldn't have.” Paige sighs. “But she would have said it takes all kinds to make the world turn round.” Her brothers nod.

 

“Are you sure you don't want to sue the jail?” An ambulance chaser wails as the man he'd been sure would make him a name in the legal community flatly refuses to sue.

 

“Yes, I'm goddamn sure I don't want to sue. Good riddance to the miserable woman.”

 

“But she was your wife.”

 

“Ex-wife, I divorced the bitch years ago.”

 

“But she claims she was still married to you.” he blusters.

 

“She also claimed she owned all those businesses. . .” He snorts.

 

“Weeeeeellllllll. . .yeeessssss. But . . .”

 

“But nothing.” He slams the phone down, the man wailing in his small office.

 

“Goddamn idiot.” One of the law clerks snorts as she walks past his door. “People like that give people who think the law profession is nothing more than a bunch of crooks more ammunition.”

 

“More proof they're right you mean.” One of the senior partners says as he walks past. “Do you have the work I assigned you done?” He asks, opening the door.

 

“Ummmmm.”

 

“Ummmmm, is not an answer. Yes or no.”

 

“Noooooo.” He wails. “Then do the damn job you were assigned and quit bothering people. Moron.”

 

“No, you can't have the commercial farm outside town shut down because it's not certified organic.” A lawyer snorts in Marley.

 

“But I have pesticide allergies.” she wails.

 

“Too damn bad.” He snorts again. “Take responsibility for your own health concerns, don't shove your damn problems down everybody else's throat.” she runs wailing from the office. Her sister-in-law is walking in the door and she tries to slap her, she ends up on the ground after being punched by the other woman.

 

“What the goddamn hell is your maladjustment?”

 

“You were coming in the building.” she howls.

 

“Yeah asswipe, I work here. . .remember?”

 

“I. . .I . . . I didn't realize this is where you work.” She blubbers as she hurries off.

 

“What the hell was that moron's problem this time?” She snorts as she comes into the office. “I know it's not attorney-client privilege. . .nobody here's stupid enough to take one of her cases.”

 

“She wanted the commercial farm outside town shut down because it's not certified organic. She has allergies.” One of her coworkers bleats.

 

“Bullshit, she's been using the allergy excuse for years. Everytime she didn't like a dish Mom made it was. . .ohhhh, I'm allergic. Because I'm a vegetarian. Dumb bitch has no problems eating the veggies Mom sneaks into dishes any time she eats at our house. And those are brought at the store in town.”

 

“Exactly. . .If you have a medical condition you need to take responsibility for your own actions, not force everybody else to change to suit you.” The head of the law firm snorts. “I don't know what your brother saw in that miserable fool.”

 

“Neither does the rest of the family.”

 

“Get the fuck out.” Her husband snorts as she walks into the house. “Not just out of my house but the hell out of my life. You made the biggest mistake of your life trying to hit my sister because the law office didn't believe your lies that you're 'allergic'.”

 

“But I didn't know she worked there, I thought she was there to cause problems. . .” she wails. Because I would have is left unsaid.

 

“Nope, not believing your bullshit anymore. You can pack a bag now, when you find somewhere else to live I'll send the rest of your stuff.” He slaps her with divorce papers. “And don't even think about trying to get the house, everybody knows I owned it before we were married.”

 

“But what am I supposed to do?”

 

“I don't fucking care. . .you don't ever try to hit a family member.” Wailing she packs a bag and continues to look over her shoulder, her husband will have to come saying he was just kidding. But he doesn't. She doesn't have a job anymore. .. her attitude problems got her fired. A few days later she gets on a greyhound bus and heads back to her hometown in Podunkville, Tennessee. Not even a wide spot in the road where she swore she'd never return.

 

Her loving family laughs at her when she returns home. They knew her oh so better than you attitude would have her come home with her tail between her legs.

 

The front room is cleaned for the prom dresses over one weekend and Jessy nods at the racks of finished and nearly finished garments and piles of remaining containers.

 

“We did good.” Faith says, looking over her shoulder.

 

“Yep, it won't be more than a week to finish all the outfits when we're done with the prom outfits.”

 

“Then we should be able to empty all the containers between then and graduation outfits.”

 

“If not it won't be but a couple weeks.”

 

Jessy unlocks the door the following Monday, grinning as she already sees cars in the parking lot. A lot of parents want to talk about the absolute stupidity of that women barging in and demanding they stop working on garments she hadn't authorized, they wouldn't know the woman wasn't the owner? Moron is the nicest thing they say about the fool woman, may she rot in hell.

 

“Nearly six hundred dresses.” Jessy says the end of the following week. “A little over a hundred is two outfits.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. “A lot of people were talking about that fool woman while the girls were looking over the drawings. Damn fool and moron were about the nicest things said about her.”

 

“I'm sure the bitch is wailing about not having a whole new wardrobe in Hell.” Joyce snorts.

 

“Hey, you hear anything about that fool woman who tried suing to get the commercial garden shut down because it's not certified organic?” Andrew asks.

 

“Yeah, the little bitch ran off back home to Tennessee with her tail between her legs when she tried slapping the hell out of her sister-in-law for actually walking into her workplace and her husband tosses her out of his house and slapped her with divorce papers. With her gone he got a quick divorce under desertion. . .the bitch whined that she didn't want a divorce but since she ran home to Mommy and Daddy. . .wellllll. . .”

 

“Too bad, so sad. . .” Xander drawls.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Why?” Rupert sighs. This is the first he'd heard about that.

 

“She claimed she only ate organic because she had pesticide allergies but her now former sister-in-law snorted it was because she just didn't want to eat something she didn't like. She's a vegetarian but that wasn't good enough for that fool. She didn't have any problems eating the vegetables her mother-in-law snuck into her food every time she ate at the house.”

 

“Stupid bitch is well worth getting rid of then.” One of the cooks snorts. “Saying she's allergic is just hurting people with real allergies. Who actually take responsibility for their own problems instead of trying to get the rest of the world to change to suit them.”

 

Jessy snorts and waves a hand. “Oh please, that's called being a damn grownup. And we all know that won't happen with some people. The stupid bitch who wanted a whole new wardrobe, the stupid cunt who tried claiming I caused the accident. . .”

 

“That dumbass moron who ran into the mall twice and now his sisters are paying for his stupidity by their education being delayed. . .” Andrew snorts.

 

“and that miserable bitch who is still bleating that you had to have got five hundred thousand dollars from her for destroying you car, not five thousand.” Larry snorts. “The absurd fool tried having another lawyer's office try to scare you into returning the money and I not only blistered their asses I called the prison and filed another complaint. . .she's no doubt getting her ass handed to her by the other prisoners right now.”

 

“Damn it, how fucking stupid are you?” The warden sneers as he listens to the wailing of the woman in front of him. “Shut up.” He finally snaps. She wails as she bites her tongue. “Shut the fuck up and LEAVE her alone. That does not mean contacting any other lawyers trying to get her to give you back a fantastic amount of money. . .one, you destroyed her damn car and two, you know damn good and well she only got a five thousand dollar judgment, not no damn five hundred thousand dollar judgment. Shut the fuck up about her causing the accident, she was parked.”

 

“But. . .but. . .but I didn't know it was a parking lot.” She continues to wail as she's tossed out of the warden's office. A line of fellow convicts are waiting on her and they proceed to slap and beat the stupidity out of her. She's left wailing on the ground as they all scatter and the guard gives her a disgusted look before telling her to get up and grow the fuck up.

 

“She's not going to get out of here except in a pine box.”

 

“Yes, the stupid bitch will not leave the woman whose car she destroyed the hell alone. She also won't stop bleating that she got five hundred thousand dollars from her. . .everybody's lying and taking her side.”

 

“She's a fool. . .no court would authorize a five hundred thousand dollar judgment for a damn car.” Another guard snorts.

 

“She knows that, she just doesn't want to admit it. Because Mommy and Daddy hit her with a bag of hammers and she's had to work for the last several years. That's the fault of the woman she hit, it can't possibly be her fault for causing the damn accident. She lost her license. . .ignoring the fact she'd been driving on a suspended license anyway because of all the tickets she's racked up and the other woman is still allowed to drive. The woman she hit got another car, she has to use public transit. . .it's not fair.” The other guards mock-sob and rub crocodile tears from their eyes. “Miserable bitch.”

 

“Yep.”

 

“What's her money going to?”

 

“To finish paying back what her parents had paid out for her judgments, paying off her burial costs. . .and the rest will be going to the woman whose car she destroyed as punishment for trying to get her kids taken away from her.”

 

“Worthless bitch.”

 

“Yep, I see her making it through until the day before she is due to be released and pulling something stupid.”

 

“Because 'I'm being released you can't do anything to stop me'? Yes, the woman is that damn stupid. Because even is she was walking out the door and did it, we'd still be able to stop her.”

 

“Well hell, she still believes that Mommy and Daddy were just 'funning' her when they tossed her out of the house when she tried getting that other woman's kids away from her because she got five thousand dollars from her in a judgment. And not five hundred thousand like the bitch has been bleating.”

 

Jessy smiles as the last of the graduation outfits are picked up. “How many outfits do we still have to sew?”

 

“Ten of one and eight of the other.” Faith calls from the door of the inner room as the containers start coming out and either placed against the walls or taken to the layout tables. The others had already been working on the garments in the other room and as Jessy looks another one is finished. Betty holds it up to look over and nods in satisfaction before putting it in a garment bag and taping a copy of the order to the plastic.

 

“Did we order more order forms?”

 

“Yes, I put in a triple order last week, it should be done in a couple weeks.”

 

“Have you heard anything about that fool woman in prison?”

 

“Getting her ass handed to her for her stupidity at least once a day by the other prisoners. She lost her privileges so she can't go whining to another law firm to cause trouble for me. . .not that the story that she's a lying brat hasn't already made the rounds of all the law offices in the area. Anything further out and they're. ..”

 

“Going to be suspicious. . .why are you talking to us about this and not a office in the area?” Paige asks. The others nod.

 

“But why won't you cancel that order?” A clerk whines at an office supply business. “How do we even know it's a legitimate order?”

 

The new store manager looks at the first employee

 

“Because they're usually in every few months with orders for the same document. Look the order history up if you don't believe me.” The second clerk huffs off to do that and lets out a wail.

 

“Go do something else and quit bothering her. You were told you could only use the printers if they weren't in use, they're obviously in use.” the store manager scowls as he looks over the history of the orders, clicking on the images and seeing they're all the same document being printed right now.

 

She runs off wailing and the sound of a punch a few seconds later.

 

“You hit me.” She wails.

 

“You tried pulling the damn plug on the machine. Damn right I hit you.”

 

“But I wanna use the machines to print up flyers for my fantastic party.” she stomps her foot and pouts. She makes a grab for the power cord again and gets smacked again. “Damn it you stupid whore, leave the goddamn machine alone.”

 

“But I wanna use it.” she whines.

 

“Monroe. . .you were told to go do something else. The machines are in use and will be in use for at least three more weeks.”

 

“But my party will be over then.” she wails.

 

“Then wait until after the store shuts tonight and use it then.” He snorts.

 

“I. . .I guess I can do that.” she blubbers.

 

“You guess you can do that.” Her boss drawls sarcastically. “Don't start your damn wailing.” He snaps. She shuts her mouth with a snap, yelping as she bites her tongue. “Get the hell over it and yourself and go start stocking the shelves. And no, I'm not going to make her do it. She's working on the order.”

 

She's reduced to snuffling as she starts filling a cart and goes down the aisles.

 

“Damn fool. I hope her damn precious party flops.”

 

“But I don't know how to run the machine.” She wails after the last order blank of the day comes out of the printer and is marked off the list.

 

“Then why the hell were you blubbering about not being able to use the machine?” Her boss snorts.

 

“But I thought you'd make her do it.” she wails. “Why are you being so mean to mmmmmmeeeeeee?”

 

The other employee sighs. “One page, glossy paper?”

 

She sniffles and nods. “Got the original?”

 

She hands over a thumb drive. It's plugged into the machine. “How many copies?”

 

“Fifty thousand?”

 

“For a party? Hell no.”

 

“Five thousand?” Her fellow employee and boss snort at that. “Five hundred?”

 

“That's more like it.” The machine soon starts spitting out the copies and she runs her card to pay for everything. The boxes are placed in the back of her car and the shop locked up. “Goddamn mother fucking moron, how the hell did she get the other manager moved instead of her being fired?”

 

“Don't you know who I am? Why's he being so mean to me?” the other employee mock-wails. “That's why he's suing the company. And I hope he bankrupts them for their stupidity.”

 

“Why the hell was he transferred when she was the cause of all the problems?” A man asks icily in corporate headquarters.

 

“We. . .we. . . we thought a different boss would. . .”

 

“Pat her on the head and tell her it's all somebody else's fault? Dear god, how fucking stupid are you?”

 

“But I didn't know he'd sue.”

 

“Well what the hell did you think he'd do? Dear god man, he'd been in charge of the store for years. That stupid fool had only worked there a few weeks.”

 

“Weeeeellllllll. . .yeeeeeessssssss, but. . .but. . .but. . .but.”

 

“But nothing, she's already causing problems under the new management.”

 

“But I didn't know he'd sue.”

 

“Well what the hell did you think would happen?”

 

“But. . .but. . .but wasn't that a promotion?”

 

“No moron, it wasn't a promotion.” He snorts. “He went from the manager to a big store to being the assistant manager of a smaller store and making only two-thirds of what he did before.”

 

“But I was told it would be a promotion.”

 

“Bullshit, nobody would have told you it was a promotion. Unless they meant it was a promotion for the other guy.”

 

“Can we give him his job back?”

 

“No moron, there's another manager in the store now. It's not a matter of no harm, no foul. . .everybody go back to what you'd been doing before we pulled this stupid stunt. There's no do-overs in real life. The only thing we can do is apologize and offer him a new store when we open one. And that means one less store for an assistant manager to take over.”

 

“But I didn't know he'd sue.” He whines again. If he says it enough, it will have to come true.

 

“What did you think would happen?”

 

“But I thought being around somebody else. . .”

 

“Wouldn't make the bitch even worse because 'oh my god, I can do anything I want now because they'll go away'. Idiot. The little bitch should have been told to go sit in the corner at the very least.”

 

Three weeks later the first clerk grins as a familiar figure walks into the office supply store. She taps on the door of the office. “Ms. Michaels is here to pick up that huge order. You said you wanted to meet her.”

 

“Thank you, where is that fool Monroe?”

 

“Still claiming to be on her deathbed because she didn't get the oodles and gobs of people showing up for her magnificent party. How can she hold her head up high now? Dumb bitch was expecting people to pay five hundred dollars a head for a party because she planned it. Daddy's being mean to her. . .we're being mean to her. . .if she could have printed the flyers she wanted. . . And yes, that's a direct quote. Daddy about ripped her head off for her stupidity. Too bad he didn't do it last year.” The last sentence is angrily muttered.

 

“I know you'd rather have your old boss back. . .” He says slowly.

 

“Who are you?” Jessy asks as she brings the purchases up to the counter and is confronted by somebody she doesn't know with a manager tag.

 

“This is our new manager James MacDaniels.”

 

“What happened to Mark?”

 

The whole story is told and Jessy sighs. “Too bad nobody thinks that stuff like this will happen when they kiss the ass of a spoiled shit brat.”

 

“Amen. Mark's living out of a single room in a town where he doesn't know anybody instead of living at home with his wife and kids. His kids had to leave the private school they attended and his wife is working two jobs to make ends meet.”

 

“James, nice to meet you. I just wish it were under different circumstances.”

 

“You goddamn stupid fucking retarded Bitch!” Jessy yells as the other employee tries to grab her outside the store. She knocks her to the ground and cusses her fool ass out long and loud, telling her her 'precious' party failed because she's a miserable sack of shit. . .not because she couldn't plaster the fucking town with posters. “Nobody will pay that kind of money for a goddamn party. . .”

 

“But charities. . .”

 

“Yes, charities. .. where the money can be taken off their taxes as a donation. Not a stupid idiotic spoiled goddamn useless sack of shit who got a good man punished because he was being 'mean' to you by not kissing your worthless ass. I hope the hell he destroys you in the courtroom.”

“You. . .you mean he'd sue me for what happened?”

 

“Damn right, and he's probably got lawyers lined up to destroy you. And if your precious Daddy has any damn sense, he'll make you pay the judgment yourself.” She runs off wailing.”Goddamn retarded whore.” She gets behind the wheel and drives off.

 

“I. . .I guess I never thought about what would happen to him or his family.” James says as he walks into the office as Margo starts filling a cart to shelve.

 

“But I didn't know he'd sue me.” She wails when her father slaps her across the chest with the paperwork from the lawsuit.

 

“What the hell did you think he'd do you goddamn little brat? You destroyed his damn life. . .his wife is working two jobs to make ends meet here while he lives in a small room in a town where he doesn't know anybody and his kids had to leave their private school.”

 

“But. . .he was mean to me.”

 

“Grow the hell up you miserable little shit. Me. . .me. . . me, don't you know it's all about me? He was mean to me. You're supposedly a grown woman, not a two year old. And weren't you supposed to be at work today?”

 

“I. . . I was there.” She whines.

 

“Yes, trying to blame the woman who gave the show a big order for your party flopping instead of pulling your big girl pants on and realizing you're not all that.”

 

“But if they'd been able to print all the flyers I wanted. . .”

 

“The damn party would still have been a flop. Because nobody knows who the hell you are and aren't going to be spending that kind of money to attend a party unless it's the place to be seen. You ain't that damn special you little shit.”

 

“But Daddy. . .” She whines.

 

“No, no but Daddy.” He sneers. “You're a goddamn stupid little sack of shit who's going to be toddling her ass down to the employment office and pick up a full-time factory job to repay me every damn dime I spent on that damn party and to put money away for destroying your former boss's life because you're a goddamn idiot. You don't have a job at the office supply store anymore, trying to blame the customer for your stupidity got your ass fired.”

 

“But they can't do that.” She wails.

 

“They hell they can't. . .and no, you're not going whining to your damn uncle Trey in corporate again. He's in so much trouble for his part in getting the other manager demoted. . .”

 

“I'd wondered how the hell that fool had been able to keep her job.” James snorts a couple days later as he gets a call from corporate.

 

“Margo?”

 

“Yes?” She looks over her shoulder from where she's fixing the damn absolute mess that was the shelves that that other fool had 'filled' when she couldn't get the order for the seamstress building canceled.

 

“I just got a call from corporate. . . they've bit the bullet and authorized a twelve point eight five million dollar settlement for Mr. Jacobson. Monroe's godfather has been removed from his spot. . .”

“I'd wondered how the little bitch did it.”

 

“Yes, anybody with any sense would have looked at her record and fired her immediately. But she was

special.” he said in a sing-song voice. “And. . .” she looks at him. “He's being brought back to co-manage the store with me.”

 

“Boss. . .if it wasn't against store policy, I'd hug you right now.” She turns back to what she'd been doing and moans as she finds more stuff shoved behind the others.

 

“Is this all stuff you found shoved behind others?” He waves at the half-full cart.

 

“Yes, and this is just from this aisle, she was just opening boxes and shoving stuff . . .”

 

“Because she was sulking she didn't get to do what she wanted.” He sighs. “Have you got the other side yet?”

 

“No. Or any of the other aisles.”

 

He pulls a box off a spot and starts sorting through it. “Fucking idiot.” She snorts as she replaces the box and moves to the next one.

 

“Well. . .yah, she's the type of person who never had to work for anything she wanted. Now she's got to and she's miserable.”

 

“She's going to be more miserable if she has to pay Mark the judgment her own lawyer thinks he'll get.”

Chapter 2 by josette grover

 

Jessy smiles as the last of the garments is put in the containers.

 

“That's it?” Faith asks, looking over at the silence from the counter.

 

“That's it.”

 

“Oh yeah, we'll have these done by August easy.” She looks at the piles with a practiced eye after putting the totes of pattern envelopes back in the closet. Everybody nods. The boys bring over the partial bolts of cloth and spools of lace and ribbon and it's measured and put on the shelf before they lock the doors.

 

“Got everything ready?” Larry asks as they walk in an hour early.

 

“Yeah, got all the garments ready to work on, the remnants measured and on the shelf to be used, and the cardboard tossed in the bins. Tomorrow's good enough to start.” Rupert nods from his door. “Jessy, did you get a call from Mr. Stark?”

 

Jessy sniggers. “Yeah, he finally realized who my family was.” He chuckles. “At first he was wondering why Baxter would have him contact me about a business he wanted to work with, then the penny dropped and Pepper said he just moaned. Because he knew my grandparents. Not well. . .they more worked with his father in the few ventures they worked on together, but he knew them.” Jessy finishes the first rough-sort of her mail and drops the junk in the recycling bin.

 

“No, the lawsuit against you from your former boss isn't going to be dismissed..” Monroe's own lawyer snorts. “Grow the hell up you stupid little sack of shit.”

 

“But I gotta work. . .” she wails.

 

“Good. That will keep you from being a stupid little sack of shit that should have been drowned at birth. “You're going to be paying that man money for the rest of your worthless life you little bitch.”

 

“But he was being mean to me.”

 

“How, by making you work? The others at the store are still finding stuff you shoved behind other stuff when you 'shelved' because you were sulking that you couldn't get that order canceled so you could have the printer.” She ducks her head. . .yeah, maybe she shouldn't have done that. But she wanted that printer. It wasn't fair that a paying customer was put in front of her. She gulps when she realizes she actually said that out loud.

 

“You stupid little bitch.” Her lawyer roars as he gets to his feet. “Grow the hell up you goddamn little brat. No, the case is going forward and I hope he destroys you to the molecular level.”

 

“But you gotta make them hire me back at the store.”

 

“The hell I do, they're better off without you.”

 

“But I gotta work. . .I can't shove my assignments off on anybody else.” she wails.

 

“Retarded whore.” The office manager snorts as she runs off wailing.

 

“Please, like anybody would pay to have sex with that fool. They'd be too afraid of getting whatever STD rotted her brain.” One of the law clerks snorts. The lawyer shakes his head. . .he should be chiding them but when they're right, they're right.

 

Jessy looks over as the door opens and Max and a couple of his friends come into the building. He looks at the piles of containers in satisfaction. “I figured you'd be pretty far along by now. Are the oldest kids in class now?”

 

“Yeah, for a few hours three times a week, right now they're learning their numbers, their letters, their colors. . .Wesley's sneaking in lessons during playtime.” One of the women with him chuckle as Jessy brings out the sketchpads.

 

“Marie?”

 

“Spending part of her time with her Daddy learning how to rule the world from behind the scenes with Amanda. I say she's a little too young yet, but. . . “ Jessy shrugs. “Now if he and Cordy were teaching the girls. . .they'd have the world at their feet by the time they finished university.” Max puts his head on the counter and just laughs.

 

“Friend?” One of the women asks.

 

“You've met her, my dark-haired associate.” Max says between cackles.

 

“Ahhh, yes.” She chuckles. “She works here?”

 

“In the main business, she's got a daughter turning four and a son who's going to be a year old in November. Jessy's twins are their siblings, Xander donated sperm for them while Larry donated for her daughter. She's a couple weeks older than than their boy.”

 

Jessy drops three receipts on Larry's desk when she walks in, kissing Marie who's babbling in the playpen in a corner of the room.

 

“Max is out early.”

 

“Yeah, he's got a major photo shoot that's going to have him gone for nearly three months. A couple of his associates will be picking up the outfits when I give them a call.”

 

“Fabric warehouse?”

 

“I'm going out next week, the trucks are going to be busy for the rest of the week with the 4th this weekend.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. “Nobody expects us to start the new orders until these are done anyway.”

 

“Are you goddamn stupid, no I'm not going to allow you to sue the office supply store. Goddamn idiot, you tried attacking a customer. You're fucking lucky not to be in jail right now.” A judge snorts as he dismisses the lawsuit. “Grow up you stupid little brat.”

 

“But I gotta work long hours. . .I can't shove my assignments on anybody else anymore. It's not fair.” She wails as she's dragged out of the courtroom.

 

“Miserable bitch should have been drowned at birth.”

 

“Oh yes, she's sulking because she's an idiot. She went whining to her godfather in corporate at the store she wanted to sue and her former manager got a demotion and was moved to another store. He's already sued corporate and got nearly thirteen million dollars in a settlement, she's afraid of how much money she'll have to pay him for her part in what happened., Because not only was he sent somewhere else, his wife had to work two jobs to pay the bills because he was only making two-thirds of what he used to, his kids had to leave their private school.”

 

Another person whistles. “She doesn't do it halfway when she destroys somebody's life, does she?”

“Nope, stupid bitch is going to be miserable for the rest of her goddamn life. She never went to college so she doesn't have any education for a career.”

 

“But it's not fay-yay-yay-yay-yur that I have to work.” She wails out in the hallway. Everybody ignores her and she grabs at people to make them pay attention to her, getting her ass handed to her for her stupidity.

 

“Too damn bad,” her father snorts as she wails about how people were so mean to her. “You don't ever grab other people because they're ignoring your little temper tantrum you stupid little shit.” He continues to tell his stupid daughter off until she runs off wailing.

 

“And leave people alone. Nobody has to bow, scrape, and kiss your useless ass.”

 

“Mark, welcome back.” Margo smiles as her co-boss walks into the store. “How are Maddy and the kids?”

 

“Very glad to have me home. And I am just as glad to be there.”

 

“Did the kids get back in their school?”

 

“No, we're going to keep homeschooling them, that school might have been good academically but it was full of self-absorbed brats like Monroe. . . including in the administration. The little bastard in charge had to admit that. . .welllll yeeessssss, we did pay through the end of the year but we don't want your children around the other students. . . the other parents might complain about a bad element at the school.”

 

“Your kids are seven and nine, the other damn students would be more the damn bad element because they'd be making fun of them if they learned what had happened.”

 

“Yes, that's what my lawyer told him when they sued for the return of the tuition and for pain and suffering. The fool finally blubbered that he might have made a mistake in treating our kids like garbage and tossing them to the curb.”

 

Margo rolls her eyes. “Yeah, he's bleating now that the publicity is making the school look bad. Students are being pulled by their parents. Because they might have to associate with poor people.”

 

“Good riddance to the brats then. Because unless they get a big dose of reality upside the head, they'll turn out as stupid as Monroe.”

 

“Schools like that are a place to be seen by the right people more than a real school.” James snorts.

 

Margo snorts but nods, “I expect the school to shut down because of the bad publicity and the students whine because other schools will actually make them work for their grades. Monroe would have been in hog heaven to have gone there but even they had standards.” She sighs as she grabs a flatbed cart and starts really stocking shelves.

 

Monroe wails as she gets the final judgment against her for going to her godfather and getting her former manager out of the store. “Aren't you going to appeal it?”

 

“Fuck no and fuck you, you got what you deserved you stupid little shit.”

 

“But they're going to be garnishing my wages.”

“Yep, because they know that's the only way he'll ever see a dime of the money.” And she'd already been threatened with prison if she tried quitting her job so she didn't have to pay the money.

 

“But it's not fay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yurrrrr.” she wails as she's removed from the courtroom.

 

“Life isn't fair you stupid little brat. Get over it. . .and yourself. You had no business trying to destroy his life because you're a little shit who didn't want to work.”

 

“Dumb bitch, she could be having to live on what she makes instead of living with Mommy and Daddy and wailing about how life isn't fay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yurrrrr.” Margo snorts as she listens to the gossip about their former coworker. “She'd damn lucky that it's only a third of her check that they're taking to pay off her judgment and Daddy's only taking another third to repay all the money she spent. She's still got a third of her check and she can get off her ass and get a second job if she wants more money. Not that the court won't take their cut out of that too.”

 

“And no bank would loan her the money to pay off the the judgment, she doesn't have good credit or anything for collateral.”

 

“And no bank would loan anybody that kind of money period.” James snorts. “My family's did a lot of construction in the past. Even with proven money coming in, banks don't want to lend money. . .”

“Unless it's for a home and they can make oodles and gobs of interest.” Margo snorts. “You can get better loan rates looking online. . .they whine but if you can't pay the damn thing down ahead of time. . .”

 

“Well of course they don't want you to pay it down ahead of time. . .they won't make the fantastic amount of profits in interest.” Mark rolls his eyes. “Because you're only paying interest for over twenty years on a thirty year mortgage. Thank god we'd worked with our families when we brought the house and renovated it instead of having a mortgage. . .we'd have lost the house.”

 

“And of course Monroe wouldn't have been the least bit upset. . .it was your fault for making the stupid bitch work.” Margo sneers. “I expect the little fool to be in prison by the end of the year.”

 

“That long?” Both men snort.

 

“She's going to show us. ..she's getting involved in organized crime. She'll be rich beyond her wildest dreams instantly and we'll all come begging for scraps.” Both men snort again. “Stupid damn fool.”

 

“Oh please, that kind of fool always think they're so damn special. And just end up proving to the rest of the world what they already knew. . .they're too damn fucking stupid to live.” Margo goes to the door and turns the sign from closed to open and unlocks the door.

 

“But I didn't know that this would happen.” the now former head of the school wails as he's summarily removed from his cushy office and his belongings packed in a couple of boxes that are put in the trunk of his car.

 

“You had no damn business tossing out two children that didn't do a damn thing wrong except have their father lose his position because of a stupid little brat's temper tantrum because she doesn't like having to work.” The last few words is said in a singsong voice. “Grow the fuck up you stupid little sack of shit. This is a school. . .it's not a damn playground for the rich and famous. Their tuition had been paid through the end of the year and their grades were good.”

 

“Weeeelllllll, yeeeessssss . . .but the other students.”

 

“Are stupid little shits just like their parents. Good riddance to them.” His former secretary snorts “Little bastards always came in to complain that their precious babies were having to think for their grades, I told the fuckers off and they ran off wailing.”

 

“Janice. . .” Her former boss starts to complain.

 

“Shut up moron, she's right. If they don't want to think, they have no place being in our school.” He's escorted off the grounds wailing as his. . .his secretary is promoted to his old job. How could they do that to him. He was gonna sue. He starts the rounds of the law offices and runs off wailing, how can they possibly not be wanting to take his case. . .don't they know who he is?

 

No, and they don't care is the general consensus as he's told to grow the hell up and get over himself. And out of their offices.

 

He frantically looks through the papers over the next several weeks to find anything on the school being shut down. . .dear god, how can his secretary run the school. She cares more about the students grades and not about them being seen by the right people. The world doesn't run that way. . .

 

Moron is the nicest thing said about the fool over the next couple of weeks.

 

Jessy and the others ooze out of the vehicles. “Bad trip?” MacGyver asks.

 

“Damn accident that got us moved off the interstate so we had to come back the back way.” Jessy straightens up with an audible crack. “We stopped to eat hoping it would be cleared so we could get back home but . . .”

 

“It wasn't so you had to go around.”

 

“Yes, and I swear the damn road was unending.” Jessy sighs as she opens the back of the truck and they start sorting stuff out and putting it in golf carts. They walk into the main building, Larry looking at them. “Damn accident made us get off the interstate, we've been driving for hours.”

 

“I swear the damn road was seventy thousand miles, not seventy.” Xander says. The other three nod as they sort through their mail, Jessy looking at first an opened letter then at Larry.

 

“That goddamn fool. . .your order should have been canceled so she could use the printers to plaster the city with ads for her fabulous party. It's your fault the party bombed. . .ignoring the fact that nobody showed up because they didn't want to spend five hundred dollars. You have to be punished for that. . .the oodles and gobs of money she gets from you will take care of that 'pesky' other matter. She'll never have to work,” The last word is sneered, “Again. I told the lawyer what really happened and she about took her head off for her stupidity. Then her precious Daddy about killed her. She's wailing that she's got to work . . .” Jessy mock booo hooo hoos. “Goddamn retarded stupid sack of shit. . .I should have beat her ass bloody with a tire iron when she tried coming after me. The police would have given me a medal.” The others snigger.

 

“Fuck you, you stupid little sack of shit. . .grow the hell up. Nobody's going to give you oodles and gobs of money for existing.”

 

“But if I'd been able to put up all the posters I wanted.” She wails as her father points at the door.

 

“The damn party still would have bombed and I'd be out even more money. Nope, get the hell out of my house. Enjoy sleeping in the car for a few days.”

 

“But Daddy. . .”

 

“Hell no, you little shit. I told you to stop trying to bother people because you're a miserable little sack of shit and I meant it.”

 

“But I can't sleep in the car.” She tries to push past him to go upstairs and screams when he grabs her by the hair.

 

“Listen bitch, you don't live here anymore. I want you the hell out of my house and the hell out of my life.” He tosses her outside. . .followed by her purse. “I don't care where the hell you go but you're not staying here. You can come with the police to pick your shit up.” He shuts the door behind him and leaves her wailing on the sidewalk. The neighbors are giving her disgusted looks and she picks up her purse, the change of clothes he flung at her, and scurries off. She arrives with the police an hour later and tries to force her way back in, the police giving her disgusted looks.

 

“No, we're not going to make your Daddy kiss your useless ass. Grow up.”

 

“But where am I supposed to go?” She whines.

 

“I don't know, I don't care. Get the hell off my property Enjoy prison bitch, I know you blew off work to file that lawsuit and the factory fired you. I called the judge over your case and he's not happy, he's adding the money you still owe me to your judgment and plans on filing the arrest warrant tomorrow.”

 

She wails and runs off. “Goddamn retarded whore. You don't make enough money to suit yourself working in the factory with the court taking a third of it and me taking another third. . .you're going to have a helluva lot less when the prison only gives you fifteen cents an hour.” The officers nod, apologize for bothering him, and drive off. She tries slinking back onto the grounds and is met with a shotgun. The officers who'd drove off come back and arrest her for trespassing.

 

“He told you you didn't live there anymore you little fool, what the hell did you think you were doing trying to get back in?”

 

“But he's my Daddy.” She whines.”He's gotta take care of me. . .doesn't he?”

 

“No he doesn't, not when you're a stupid spoiled little brat.” The one officer snorts as she's shoved into the back of the car.

 

“Really?” Margo says the next day as she talks to one of Monroe's neighbors.

 

“Oh yes, the police had just left when they came right back. The dumbass bitch was wailing because she'd blew off her job to file a lawsuit against the person who had put in that order so she couldn't use the printers to plaster the city with flyers for that damn party of hers.” Mark and James sigh as they come out of the office. “Oh yes, her father snorted that if she thought she couldn't 'live' on what was left after the court took a third of her check for her judgment and her daddy took a third to pay back all his money she spent she really won't like prison where she'll only get fifteen cents an hour.”

 

“Serves the little fool right. She thought she was so special.”

 

“I'm sure the fool will whine about it not being fay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yurrrrr,” The neighbor snorts as the last of her purchases is rung up and carried out to her car.

 

Jessy walks into the seamstress building a couple days later and nods in satisfaction. “Working week?”

 

“Week after next, we'll have the racks full by then.” Jessy nods and walks into her office, sorting through the stack of mail that had grown impossibly huge the couple of days she'd been gone. She leaves a blistering voicemail message that has Faith sniggering in the outer room then a calmer one to his boss. “Goddamn fool, trying to tell me he was going to take my business away from me for not bowing, scraping, and kissing the ass of that useless bitch who's miserable nobody showed up to her party.”

 

“And leave her alone.” His boss says through clenched teeth a couple hours later.

 

“But boss, she said she got fired because of her.”

 

“Yes, because the bitch swore she was on her deathbed and couldn't come to work, yet was there to try to harass the other woman when she come in to pick up her order. That's why the miserable bitch was fired.”

 

“But she's going to prison.”

 

“And it's not got a damn thing to do with Ms. Michaels, it's because she's a miserable excuse for a human being who. . .” the stupid little brat's problems are laid out for him He ducks his head. “Yeah, the little bitch just doesn't want to take responsibility for her own stupidity. The other prisoners are going to beat the stupidity out of her once she arrives. Because they hate spoiled brats. . .and that's what that fool woman is, nothing more, nothing less.”

 

Maxy sighs as she looks through the university catalog from Birmingham listing the new degrees they're going to be offering next fall. Unfortunately for the girls, while their degrees are available. . .there's no spots for them in the program that year, there'd been so many students affected. They were on the waiting list for next year and guaranteed a spot, but it meant two more years before they could get their degrees.

 

“I should have beaten your brother to death with a shoe when he was arrested for driving into the mall. . .none of this would have happened otherwise.” Their mother mutters as she looks at the school catalog.

 

“It was just luck of the draw Mom, the ones who were closest to graduating were the first ones to get in the program, then so on. We were just under halfway through the degree.” Bianca sighs. “Just the luck of the draw. The ones closest to graduating should have been accepted first, I don't begrudge them that.”

 

“No, not at all.” Her mother sighs. “But you two should have been able to attend the schools you wanted and not have to worry about finishing degrees thanks to schools playing with your lives.”

 

“But they didn't sign up for classes.” Their brother wails in prison. “It's not fair I still gotta send them money. . .haven't I paid everything back by now?”

 

“Your sisters are on a waiting list because so many students were affected by the school dropping the degree programs asshole. . .they won't be able to start classes again until next fall.”

 

“But that's another year of me having to send them money.” he wails.

 

“Boy, you're going to be sending your family money for decades to repay everything they spent on your useless ass.” One of the biggest cons in the prison snorts. “Now grow the hell up before one of us finally beats you to death for your stupidity.” He runs off wailing “Goddamn fool. . .he doesn't care about anybody but himself.”

 

“Never has and never will.” A guard snorts. “Useless little brat. . .but that seems to be a lot of kids these days. That stupid bitch who was just sentenced to prison because she couldn't be bothered to keep a job is a good case in point.” The cons look at him and he tells them the entire story. “I'm sure the ladies are having fun beating the stupidity out of her.”

 

Jessy smiles as she leans against the door of Larry's office. “Rupert back from his trip to the other dimension to check on the crops?”

 

“Not yet, he's supposed to be back in a couple hours.” Larry looks at the time. The Banzai Institute, Stark, and the House had gotten together to grow crops in the growing dimension. This would be the first step in an eventual planned colony. . .either on another planet or another dimension.

 

Jessy sniggers as she comes back from Miami. “Rupert, that fool brat who had a fit about her precious party is now working two jobs, one outside prison as part of a pilot program and one inside with all her money from the outside job going to pay off her judgments. And she's still only getting fifteen cents an hour from the inside job.”

 

Xander and Larry laugh as Rupert stares at her. “How would they keep her from leaving?”

 

“A guard going to be there with her since she is proven she can't or won't fucking take responsibility for her her own actions. The job's going to be only six weeks as a pilot program, if it works out well they'll do it permanently with more convicts.”

 

“Awwwww, the poor baby will be miserable.”

 

“Can't happen to a more useless bitch.” Jessy snorts. “Living proof people grow old but they never grow up. Her, that retarded cunt that caused the accident, the retarded cunt that destroyed my old car and is miserable in prison because nobody believes her bullshit that I was awarded five hundred thousand dollars for the car, not five thousand, and the moron who drove into the mall twice. He's bleating in prison about all his money going to his family to repay everything the father took from the girls education fund. . .they're on a waiting list for Birmingham to start taking classes again, the ones who were closest to graduating got in first.” The others nod. “He's whining that since the girls aren't in school anymore, he shouldn't have to pay back the money.”

 

They shouldn't have had to go to a substandard school.” Rupert snorts. Everybody else nods. “Unfortunately, they were the only game in town and they knew it, they had the students over a barrel.”

 

The others nod.

 

Jessy puts the boys in the big cart at the store in town, Xander pushing the cart as she takes a second one. The necessities of cat food, litter, and other stuff is taken care of first before they go to the boys clothing and start looking through everything. Their cart is soon half-full of clothes for the boys and their sister and they check out.

 

The dressers are filled with their new clothes and Jessy nods in satisfaction as the boys run to their classes with Wesley. Joyce looks through the dressers and nods in satisfaction at the new clothes and the outgrown stuff set aside for future kids or to be used in patchwork quilts if they're too worn out.

 

“When are you going to Miami?”

 

“Week after next, I'll be out two days for the library and the seamstress shop.”

 

“Have you heard how the 'pilot' program is going?” Xander asks a couple days later at dinner.

 

“Stupid bitch is more than happy to work outside the prison, it means eight hours she isn't getting yelled at and the other convicts aren't trying to beat the stupidity out of her. She tried writing to Daddy saying everybody was being mean to her and the letters came back return to sender. Until then she was sure her Daddy was going. . .”

 

“To swoop in and kiss her forehead, telling her it was all a stunt? Figures.” One of the cooks snorts. “Well Hell, dumbass who drove into the mall twice is still blubbering he doesn't have a problem, he doesn't deserve to be in prison. . .everybody's being mean to him. Little bastard is sober and miserable about it.” Jessy snorts. “He's gotta repay every cent his father took from his sisters education fund and he's miserable about that too. Because all his money should be going to him. I know the second the bastard got out of prison he'd be at the nearest bar and drunk off his ass. . .because he still swears he doesn't have an alcohol problem.”

 

“More likely he'd die from alcohol poisoning.” Ryan says.

 

“No great loss there.” Xander snorts. “Because I can see the fool as one of those old guys on skid row living from bottle to bottle. Because unless they finally hit rock bottom and admit they have a problem, there's not a damn thing you can do to help them.” The others nod. “He's going to keep drinking and driving and end up killing somebody.”

 

“Drop dead you goddamn retarded whore.” Jessy screams as she stands over the woman who'd tried grabbing her. “I don't know who the fuck you are but you are sure as hell not my mother, my mother died 21 years ago.”

 

“Are you sure?” An officer sneers.

 

“Yes moron, I'm goddamn sure my mother died 21 years ago. I had to claim her body and arrange for her burial. I never met this bitch before in my life.”

 

“But she said she was your mother and you were an endangered runaway.” he bleats.

 

“Moron, do I look like a kid? I'm 44 years old. You can ask your boss. . .he's known me for twenty-two years.”

 

“Yes I have, what's going on Ms. Michaels?”

 

“This moron tried grabbing me. . .now she's blubbering she's my mother. Your idiot boy here just said that she told him she was my mother and I was an endangered runaway.”

 

“Bullcrap, you've been coming to the mall to buy books for the private library you run for years.”

 

“I. . .I might have been mistaken.” the woman blubbers as she tries scurrying backwards. The head of security grabs her by the collar. “You've been told to stay out of the mall, you've repeatedly accosted customers who are buying stuff you don't like.”

 

“But she was buying books. Nobody should buy books. . ..wait, did you say library?” She wails louder. If she's buying books for a library. . .all this was for nothing.

 

“Yes moron, library. As for you kid, stop to think a second. Because nine times out of ten it's a damn scam.” They walk off after apologizing to Jessy.

 

“Goddamn moron bitch.” One of the other shoppers say.

 

“Always going to be one who thinks they're so damn special and everybody else should do what they want.” Another snorts. “I'd almost think it was that fool who didn't like people buying what she didn't like but she died several years ago.”

 

“Good riddance to the miserable bitch, she was a distant cousin and everybody hated her.” A man snorts as he walks away. The group of shoppers get back to what they'd been doing as Jessy walks to her next store.

 

“But I didn't know she was buying all that for work.” the dumbass woman wails in a cell in jail since the mall had had enough and was pressing charges.

 

“You were told to stop being a miserable bitch and trying to shove your opinions down everybody else's throats you stupid bitch. And trying to claim you were her mother? That she was an endangered runaway?”

 

“But she was buying books. . .nobody reads anymore. . .do they?” she wails.

 

“Dear gods moron, yes people read.” Her husband snorts as he gets up and walks to the door.

 

“Aren't you getting me out of here?”

 

“Fuck no, you can rot in here for all I care.” he snorts as he walks out the open door. “You're a miserable excuse for a human being who needs a good swift kick. My divorce lawyer will be in touch.”

 

“But I didn't know she was buying it for work.” she wails to her lawyer. Who just gives her a disgusted look.

 

“Are you okay?” Jessy is asked when she returns to the house.

 

“Yes, stupid bitches like that need to be slapped stupid in jail before they realize they're not all that. I'm sure the bitch will be begging for a book to read as she sits in a jail cell without nothing to do but stare at the walls. The others laugh but nod. “Always going to be somebody who thinks they should be able to tell everybody else how to run their lives when they can't run their own.”

 

“Of course. . .do as I say not as I do.” Michael sniggers in his seat. The others look at him. “Mom was getting after me years ago for only having yogurt in my refrigerator. . .I don't eat well and I'm always getting shot at, I told her her lecture would be more believable if she wasn't always smoking.”


The others snigger.

 

Jessy walks through the storerooms, moving a couple of items but nodding in satisfaction.

 

“Jessy, can. . .” Francine comes into the storeroom.

 

“Need me to help out at the soapmaking building.”

 

“Yep.”

 

The idiot girl wails in her cell as she reads a letter from her own lawyer. . .she'd tried suing to make her Daddy let her come back home. . .after all he was her daddy. The judge had threw her case out and told her that no, her Daddy didn't have to kiss her ass. She over 21 and had a job, she could get a place of her own.

 

“What's her problem now?” One of the other convicts asks.

 

“Stupid bitch was trying to get a court to make her Daddy let her move back home. He'd tossed her ass out before she was arrested. 'But he's my Daddy, he's gotta take care of me'.” A guard snorts. “Monroe, get your ass out of your cell, it's time for your other job. And no, you're not on your deathbed. Get your ass out of there and get to work.”

 

She wails louder and is summarily dragged out of her cell and sent off to work, a write-up going in her record. A second one is added a couple hours later as she tries to attack another prisoner who isn't believing her shit and gets her ass handed to her for her stupidity. . .again.

 

“I'd wondered how long her 'precious angel' persona would last.” Jessy snorts as she gets a letter. Rupert looks at her. “That fool party girl, she wanted the courts to make Daddy take her back in when she got out of prison, he'd kicked her out of the house before she got sent to prison. . .”

 

“And she didn't go quietly?”

 

“Hell no, the police showed up because they'd make her Daddy let her back in. She couldn't sleep in a car. . .” The others boo and hiss. “Yeah, the police told her hell no would they make her daddy let her back in, she ran off wailing. They drove off. . .then returned less than ten minutes later because she'd sneaked back onto the grounds and her Daddy had a shotgun on her. She was trying to say it was an illegal eviction. . .she's got rights.”

 

“Everybody's got rights but the people leeches like those are living off. I miss the old days where you could just throw somebody out of your house and be done with it.”

 

“Yes, now everybody has to be done legally. ..like that couple that went to court to get their thirty year old son to move out. 'Oh, I'll move out . ..eventually'.”

 

“I'd beat any of my children who pulled that nonsense.” More than one person mumbles in the cafeteria.

 

“Well hell, we all know some kids are self-absorbed brats.” Jessy snorts. “None of our kids will ever act that way.”

“Sometimes it's the parents who try to damn late to be parents and not their children's best friends.” Phillip says. The others nod.

 

“You were saying she was told no by the law firm?”

 

“Oh yes, and she set up a wailing fit her life was over, she was on her deathbed. . .” Snorts from everybody in earshot. “Oh yes, she refused to come out of her cell when she was told to go to her second job. . .how could they expect her to work when everybody was being so mean to her. . . She got a write-up for that and another one for starting a fight during work.” The others shake their heads. “She's not going to get out of there.”

 

“Nope, her or that stupid woman who destroyed my car or the little bitch who caused that accident, all three of them have writeups a mile long. And that little bastard who drove into the mall is going to get his stupid ass beaten to death by the other cons. They know to the penny how much he owes everybody and once that's paid off, he's going to get a real beating.”

 

Halloween comes and the fabulous foursome drive into Miami, stopping at various stores and then going to the mall. Jessy has a thick bundle of mail when she returns. “Huh, must be running out of businesses to buy stock in, the distributions are going back to real estate.”

 

“More like the government is looking at the large investments. Make sure there's no insider trading going on.” Larry says dryly. Rupert nods from the office. “Even with splitting the stock orders through various accounts people are going to start looking. If they were a legitimate brokerage. . .”

 

“It would be different, they'd have our orders to back up their orders.” Jessy sighs. “Oh well. . .” she stretches and yawns. “Are we expecting rain again?”

“Yes, it's supposed to be raining for the next three days.” Xander snorts as he walks past to check his own mail. “Rupert, the truck will be coming to pick up my stuff tomorrow, I just got the call.” Larry nods in satisfaction and writes that down on his desk calendar.

 

“You are a goddamn idiot.” The head of the soapmaking building advances on the man who had burst in blustering about them buying all that coconut oil, don't they know it's bad for them. “This is a soapmaking business.” He looks around the building now and wails. “Get the fuck out of my business and don't ever come back you damn fool.”

 

“I. . .I didn't know you could make soap with it. . .all I saw was the barrels of coconut oil being sold instead of being thrown out like I wanted and I was furious.” He says a few hours later when his boss is blistering his ass for his abject stupidity.

 

“You were told to mind your own damn business. Your precious studies were shown as nothing more than fabrications,”

 

“But they said that it had all that saturated fat.”

“So? So does lard and butter and nobody has stopped using them in cooking.”

 

“Weeellllll, yessss. . ..but why won't anybody just listen to me?”

 

“Because the damn 'pundits' change their damn mind about everything. It's bad for you, no. . .it's good for you. People are tired of the so-called experts trying to tell them how to run their damn lives. Now, I moved you so you'd stop bothering people and you go ahead and do it anyway.”

 

“But I just saw all those barrels being loaded onto a truck .. .I didn't know you could use it for other purposes.” He whines. He's called ten different kinds of fool and told to grow the fuck up, He goes over his head to complain and is told the same damn thing. He ends up with a complaint in his permanent record over that and runs off wailing that people are being mean to him.

 

“Fucking fool.” is the nicest thing they call him at the House. “Goddamn idiots always going to think he's so damn better than everybody else in the world.”

 

“Always going to be somebody who jumps on the 'oh my lord, this is bad for you' bandwagon about something that's been eaten for years. And then jumps on the next one when they change their damn minds about that.”

 

“Oh please, people won't be happy until they take away all choice, you eat what we tell you to eat, when we tell you to eat it.” Jessy snorts.

 

“Please don't let it ever get that bad.” Joyce shudders.

 

“Are we making plans to have to move to the other dimension?” Jessy asks quietly late that night before heading to her house.

 

“Yes, thanks to all your information about being able to move between dimensions and bring all our buildings with us.” Rupert sighs. “But hopefully we won't ever need to do it.”

 

“Amen.” Jessy mutters. “Between the power outages and the damn hurricanes . . .”

 

“And general human stupidity, don't forget that.”

 

Thanksgiving is loud in the cafeteria.

 

“Max's orders?”

 

“He plans on coming out next week, we've got. . .”

 

“five outfits to work on in the other room.” Faith says. “And we'll have them done in a couple days. That will give us until the House closes to fill containers.”

 

“Lady, I don't know who the goddamn fuck you think you are but Jessy Michaels is a woman, not a man.” Larry says in disgust.

 

“Are you sure?” She sneers.

 

“Yeah moron, I'm sure. Now get back on your broomstick and toddle off, there's no way in hell that she sweet-talked a young girl, got her pregnant, and left her high and dry with the baby.”

 

“Then who is. . .” She says a name huffily. Then deflates at the round of laughter and the story that goes with it. “Are you sure?” she whimpers.

 

“Yeah moron, if you'd done some damn fact checking you'd have seen the charges against her. Stupid bitch is swearing up, down, and sideways that Jessy got five hundred thousand dollars when she sued after the bitch destroyed her car, not five thousand. She's already called in one of your coworkers to try to get Ms. Michaels kids away from her . . .she'd have to give her her money back then. She didn't want the kids. . .ask Maggie Jenkins, she's the social worker who came out to the House.”

 

She taps on the other woman's cubicle a couple minutes later, laying out the story.

 

“Oh dear god, that girl . . and I shouldn't call her a girl the woman's in her thirties, is going to get her ass killed one day.”

 

“Then this cock and bull story?”

 

“Is the absolute truth, the stupid woman destroyed Ms. Michaels car. . .because it wouldn't get out of her way. The car was parked. . .in a lot.” The other woman moans. “the other cars that were damaged got a helluva lot more out of her but for some damn reason she won't stop targeting Ms. Michaels for her stupidity.” She faxes a copy of that blubbering letter to both her parents and the prison.

 

“But I thought they'd give me the money. . .” dumbass whines in front of the warden.

 

“You stupid bitch, she doesn't owe you a goddamn dime. You destroyed her damn car. . .SHUT UP!” he bellows. “The car was parked you retarded whore. . .in a lot. And quit blubbering about how she got five hundred thousand dollars from your parents. . .she got five thousand dollars and you damn well know it.”

 

“But she got the insurance too.”

 

“Insurance only paid the blue book value of the car.”

 

“But I had to work.” she wails.

 

“Yes, that's what a goddamn grownup does. Now shut the fuck up and leave her the hell alone. Your cell is being searched right now and . . .”

 

“NOOOOOO! You can't go in my cell.”

 

“Listen you little bitch, get something through your head right now. You're not special. You don't tell the guards and staff what they can and cannot do.” The warden gets right in her face and she gulps and backs into the corner.

 

“God damn retarded whore.” Larry says as he walks into the cafeteria. “That stupid bitch who destroyed Jessy's car.” he says at Rupert's look. “The dumb bitch sent a whining letter to a social worker that Jessy had promised her the moon and stars, got her pregnant, then left her.”

 

“Oh dear lord.” Rupert moans.

 

“Yes, I told the social worker to talk with Ms. Jenkins, she told her exactly what the bitch had done. I got a call from the prison, the stupid bitch is wailing the authorities can't go in her cell to find all the contraband she has hidden.”

 

“Did the woman not see the return address on the letter was a prison?” Wesley asks.

 

“Please, the stupid bitch isn't that stupid. She probably had plain envelopes and paper in her cell.” Joyce snorts. Kiara nods. “She somehow snuck it out, none of the other prisoners would do it for her.”

 

“Probably hidden in another envelope, some fool on the outside who thinks she's an innocent victim passed it along not realizing she's a goddamn fool.:”

 

“Or that they might be doing something illegal, immoral, or just hinky.” Andrew snorts. Larry nods. They'd both got letters from family members not on prison stationary and had turned them in to the authorities.

 

“Is your mother out of prison?”

 

“No, she still has another year of the original sentence plus the six months for fighting with my sister. My sister got more time tacked onto her sentence too, but since she's got years it doesn't matter. The warden told me if she does get out and gets in trouble again, she'll be sentenced under the habitual offender laws.”

 

“She's in her forties now?”

 

“Yes, by the time she gets out, she'll be in her seventies. They'll probably put her in a halfway house or something like that.”

 

“Arthur, is DW still in prison?”

 

“Oh yes, and she's absolutely miserable. The authorities aren't putting up with her tantrums, she's having to attend classes to get her GED. . .nobody's kissing her ass and telling her she's the victim. The counselors have actually read her damn file instead of just looking at her age and seeing how long she's been institutionalized and thinking they're going to make a name for themselves getting her out.”

 

“Has Kate heard anything yet about law school?”

 

“Officially not until the letter start going out in a couple months. Unofficially her advisor says she's in. I'm sure some fool will start blubbering about favoritism until his records are looked over and he's sent off with a foot up his ass and a bug in his ear.”

 

“Because if there was favoritism. . .it should have been for him, not her.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Well hell, that fucking fool back when Xander and I were taking our business classes.” Jessy snorts. Xander nods. Everybody who hadn't been at the house at the time looks at them and the whole story is told. “Yes, there's fools out there just that damn stupid. . .on both sides.” Adam says dryly. Amanda giggles and nods. She'd come out to tell Jessy and Rupert what she'd done with the bearer bonds Jessy had given her, Jessy now owns a good chunk of land outside Manhattan that used to be under Mob control. The bonds had brought the land, buildings, and there was enough for necessary repairs on the properties. Amanda had said she'd made the buildings rent control and both Rupert and Jessy had nodded.

 

“It's 'found' money.” Jessy had said. “I don't need to gouge the renters, I'm sure the previous guys already were.”

 

“Yep, that's one of the reasons I brought the buildings. They got good people living there.”

 

The last outfits are finished and Max nods in satisfaction as he looks everything over before moving them to the trucks. He pushes envelopes in Jessy's hands before they drive off. “Okay everybody, Sunday we're sharpening scissors and Monday we start filling containers.” She passes out the bonuses and locks the building.

 

It's all hands on deck Monday and the building is hopping until the last day the House is open as they fill containers. Jessy locks the door until after the first of the year and hops onto Xander's lap for the trip back to the main building.

 

“Cordy's going to complain.” She says dryly. Sam Winchester sniggers behind the wheel.

 

“Cordy is giving me 'go the fuck away' looks, she's going to be 45 next year and will have a two year old and a five year old.”

 

“Yep.” Last weekend they'd had a party for Aaron and Marcus. All the children but Laura, Michael, and Marie were now in classes all day three days a week with Wesley. Next year it would be all day five days a week. Somebody from the homeschooling places had come out to the House and had nodded at Wesley's lesson plans. A fool had been blubbering that the kids shouldn't have all been in the same classroom since there was about six months between Amy, Albert, and the twins. And about three months between the twins and the others but he'd been told to go sit in a corner.

 

“Always going to be somebody who thinks they're all that trying to tell people how to run their lives when they can't handle their own.”

 

“Jessy, I got called in to NASA and passed along the plans you brought back for the city-ship along with the information from the other planets.” Rupert says after waving her into his office and shutting the door.

 

“Are they interested?”

 

“They're talking an international mission once it is built.”

 

“Which won't be decades since they'll need to find a place to build it, people will try to change everything and whine when their precious changes don't work. . .” Rupert snorts but nods. “Decades to get the parts made to build the ship, decades to get in supplies. . .and more years to argue do they really need this, this, this, that, that, that. . . and finally argue about who's going on the first mission.”

 

“And that argument will last the longest.” Rupert sighs.

 

“Okay, the tropical dimension?”

 

“We have our first crops in and if the shit hits the fan we can move the House and other buildings there. Now, the House isn't as off the grid as I'd like, while the buildings all do have the septic units and can switch to alternate power, we still have propane.”

 

“We can slowly switch the buildings. . .” A shaking rumbling has Jessy swaying and Rupert grabbing for her and something to steady himself.

 

“Jesus, is this an earthquake?”

 

“Yes,” Jessy yells. “I lived through plenty in California. If you can, stand in a doorway, if not fall to the ground and cover your head. Hopefully this won't last too long.”

 

The rumbling ends several long minutes later.

 

Rupert gets on the intercom.

 

“Security, check in. If you have to be elsewhere for other duties, call in and go once you've been replaced. Maintenance, start checking the buildings for damage. We are on lockdown. ..repeat, we are on lockdown.”

 

“Everybody else, report to the cafeteria unless you're hurt or trapped.” Rupert sighs as everybody starts straggling into the cafeteria. Security and maintenance had already reported in that they were all fine and on the job. Ryan and Calleigh had headed to Miami, running into the lab.

 

“Oh good Mr. Wolfe, Ms. Dusquene. . .with the two of you everybody is here.” The Chief of police says. “Okay, what we got was a major earthquake. . .the good news it was nowhere near us, but the quake was felt for hundreds of miles.”

 

“And the bad news is expect aftershocks that might be just as powerful and felt just as far?” Eric snorts. The Chief of police nods. “So we're on duty until further notice, just like a hurricane.”

 

“The House?” Horatio asks quietly as he sees uniformed and detective cars pull out of the parking areas.

 

“On lockdown when we left. Maintenance was checking all the buildings for damages and everybody else was heading to the cafeteria.”

 

“Anybody hurt beyond bumps and bruises?” Rupert asks later that night after everybody has been sent to their homes after maintenance has looked them over. Not that he expects them to get much sleep tonight, waiting for aftershocks.

 

“No,” Methos says as he leans against the door frame. “Have we heard anything about the epicenter yet?”

 

“No, so far all we've heard on the news is 'oh my lord, this part of the country has never seen an earthquake before.”

 

“No shit, really?” House drawls from his spot in front of Rupert's desk. “I'm sure some 'religious' group is trying to claim this was god's punishment for not doing what they want the rest of the world to do.”

 

The other two men nod.

 

“The other houses?”

 

“Not in the earthquake's path. Hopefully our orders won't be affected by the chaos left by the tremor.”

 

“Yes, I'm sure the National Guard is already trying to get in supplies to the hardest hit area but nobody thinks about the other areas affected. They're not as damaged but shipments will be up in the air for the foreseeable future.” Methos drawls. Rupert and House sigh and nod.

 

In her house Jessy looks in on her children again, being watched by the house elves and heads to her workroom. . .there's no way in hell she'll sleep tonight so she might as well keep her hands occupied. The New York school had called as soon as they'd learned about the quake, not knowing if they'd been affected or not. Learning that they'd felt the quake had everybody worried but telling them everybody was fine except for some bumps and bruises. They'd sighed with relief and agreed that picking up everything would take the longest.

 

Looking over the drawings for the wedding dresses she picks one and starts cutting the fabric. She hadn't known why she'd brought everything for the dresses over the last few trips to the fabric warehouse but having everything on hand will keep her busy.

 

She's not the only one yawning as she walks into the cafeteria the next day and the tv is on the national news channel where they're showing the destruction at the quake's epicenter and how far out the quake was felt. The remote is fumbled and the volume turned up, everybody recognizing Horatio's voice as he's interviewed.

 

“Unfortunately, the lab will always be needed. . .even in times like this.” He's saying on the screen. “The. . .criminal element uses the distractions of this and other natural disasters to hide their work.” He puts on his glasses and turns when he's called by somebody

 

“Okay, am I the only one who thinks there should be theme music when he does that?” Larry snorts as the volume is turned back down.

 

Choruses of Nopes and Noes fill the cafeteria.

 

“Are you fucking stupid?” A con hisses at the fool who drove into the mall. “In times like this the prison is on lockdown. If you try to escape or otherwise cause a fuss they can and will shoot you. And while you dying wouldn't bother any of us here it would mean your family is out the money they spent on your worthless ass.”

 

Similar threats are being made against three women in various prisons. They gulp and quickly get in their lineups to be counted and put in their cells for the foreseeable future. Monroe whines because under lockdown she won't be having to work but this will mean so much longer that she'll be having to work two jobs to pay off her judgment. Her cell is boring without a tv, dvd player, and everything else Daddy normally brought her. She can't even afford one of the tvs that the commissary offers. Quickly looking through the papers she gets weekly that tells her how much money is in her account and how much money she still owes everybody she whines. . .she doesn't even have enough to buy a DVD. . .let alone a tv or dvd player. Why won't Daddy send her money? He can't still be mad at her, can he? The stupid woman who destroyed Jessy's car wails in her cell until another con tells her to shut the fuck up and the dumbass girl who'd caused the accident is very quiet in her cell. . .finally realizing that Daddy wasn't going to be kissing her ass anymore and maybe she should have made a real effort at listening to everybody who was telling her what a miserable excuse for a human being she really is. She thought she was so damn special. . .now look at her.

 

“Thank god I stocked up on everything last month,” Jessy sighs as she looks out the window.

 

“Store shelves already getting empty?”

 

“Yup. . .some asswipe tried claiming the quake was an attack against Christmas but nobody was stupid enough to believe his crap and he's sulking in a corner. There was a lot of complaints about not being able to get in the last of their Christmas shopping but people with some damn sense are just glad they and their families are safe.”

 

“Yes, and the people who lost their homes or family members really aren't up to celebrating this year.” Kiara snorts. “People are already complaining that the earthquake was an attack against them.”

 

“Oh. . .of course they're complaining.” Jessy snorts. “Miserable fools think the world revolves around Black Friday and Christmas shopping. And I don't mean the people who make their major money at that time of the year. . .” Joyce nods behind them.

 

“Gentlemen. . .and I use that term loosely, do you think I am as stupid as you are? Get the Hell off my land. I know damn good and well there is no reason for you to be trying to take the land by eminent domain. You're just using the earthquake as an excuse to try to steal my land.” Rupert says icily as he gets off the golf cart. The men in the car gabble at him as he dresses them down like they were two years old taking a cookie from the jar after being told no. He calls their superior and he cusses them out long and loud before firing the entire pack of them. They threaten to sue and try rushing the gate, getting weapons in their faces and the police picking them up.

 

“Are you lot goddamn stupid? No, you can't sue the man for false arrest. . .you were told to leave his land and you didn't. Instead you tried to rush the gate. And no, you can't fucking sue your former boss for wrongful termination. You were engaged in illegal activities. . .trying to use your position to steal Dr. Giles land.”

 

“But Mr. Rattling said that we'd get a share of profits from all the businesses out there. They wouldn't give him anything.. .”

 

“And why would businesses in Florida give anything to a man who lives and works in Wyoming? He's never had anything to do with them. He's just sulking because he didn't have aaaaallllll the money in the world. Well he's going to be wailing when the court takes everything away from him as punishment for this stupidity.”

 

“Let me get this straight. . .some fool in Wyoming we've never heard about attempted to steal your land out of thin air?” Horatio sighs.

 

“Yes, his own lawyers are trying to claim he's troubled but everybody in the area just says he's a greedy sumbitch to quote the vernacular and has done this before whenever we wants something. I don't know how he got the idea to go after me.”

 

“You're rich and successful . . .he's miserable.” One of the House's lawyers snorts. “He's used crooked politicians to get what he wanted before, he thought the earthquake would let him sneak this theft through and by the time anybody realized what was going on. . .it would already be over and he'd have the land and everything on it hidden under so many shell companies nobody would find out what had happened.”

 

“Where's Amanda?”

 

“Seeing if she can buy some more land in the area devastated by the Earthquake. No doubt there will be people willing to sell cheaply.”

 

“But I don't know why I do these things.” The moron tries blubbering in a courtroom after the first of the year. “If I could just get some help.”

 

“You were offered help when you were caught doing this before and that time you claimed you didn't have a problem.” The prosecutor snorts. “You can't have it both ways.”

 

“But he's got all that land. . .all those trees. . .All those businesses. If I bulldoze the trees we can put up more businesses. . .he's leaving all that land to nature. ” The last word is sneered.

 

“And what about it? The area won't sustain the damn billions of stores you want to build. They're just an attempt to make you the big man.” The prosecutor sneers. “Real men don't have to push their weight around to make themselves look better. Real men just do what they need to do.”

 

Jessy sighs as she unlocks the door of the seamstress shop the first day everything is open. The news of the earthquake had been moved from the lead and front page to later in the news and interior pages of the paper.

 

Faith looks around. “You'd almost think nothing happened.”

 

“Yeah, but we got off damn lucky. Hurricane standards were close enough to earthquake standards that everything stayed in one place here. Miami's been hit by enough hurricanes that they're mostly up to code. . .excepting the morons who build to be seen.”

 

Jubilee nods as she grabs a container and gets in line. “Stanley should be up to code too after the hurricane.”

 

“Yep, every building was inspected and if they could be updated they were. Some of the older homes. . .”

 

“Got grandfathered in?”

 

“Yes, and while they're no doubt gorgeous to look at. . .they'll be destroyed in a good storm. Thankfully we're mostly protected from hurricanes.”

 

“Yep, nobody was expecting an earthquake to rip through Florida. Now California. . .”

 

“Yes, they've got the San Andreas fault and are used to them.” Jessy starts sorting through her mail and cradles the phone between her ear and shoulder as she calls the New York school's number.

 

“Davison school of textiles, please call . . .”


“Mona, it's Jessy Michaels.”

 

“Ms. Michaels, how is Florida?” the women around her make grabbing motions and she puts it on speaker.

 

“'back to normal. . .if you're not in one of the areas that saw major property damage you'd think nothing had happened except for several bare spots on the store shelves.”

 

“Because shipments aren't getting through?”

 

“Or the factory shut down because of damages.”

 

“How did you handle it?”

 

“Damn it, I grew up in California but I'm not used to quakes anymore. I found myself jumping at noises for about a week.”

 

“No doubt a lot of people were doing the same thing. And the children?”

 

“Have no idea anything happened beyond shaking and Mommy and Daddy grabbing them. They were fine, we. . .”

 

“Were nervous wrecks?” Everybody in the room nod vigorously. They wouldn't have been any better.

 

“Yeah, I knew better than to even try to get any sleep that night, I started working on another gown and from the way everybody was dragging the next morning nobody got much sleep.”

 

“Another gown?”

 

“Yes, the last couple trips to the store I was getting stuff for it. At the time I was. . .okay, I'll use it eventually. . .that night I was damn glad to have everything on hand to take my mind off everything but that.” More nods.

 

“Shut up and get to work you stupid bitch.” The 'dear' woman who'd destroyed Jessy's car is told. “I don't give a damn if it's not the work you like, you were told to do it. You're gonna learn you don't have any rights anymore.” A guard sneers. “Now get to work or be wrote up.”

 

She wails again as she's forced to start sorting through debris that's being dumped in empty lots, sorting it into recyclables. . .stuff that can be salvaged, and stuff that needs to go to the landfills. Not only is she being forced to sort through garbage she's not being paid for it. She's being forced to 'volunteer'.

 

“Idiot.” one guard says to another one.

 

“Yep, the others will knock the stupidity out of her. Moron doesn't realize this is a chance to be out of her cell for a few hours.” She gulps and gets back to work.

 

Jessy sighs as she looks over the cleaned and empty front room, everything put in the side room for the upcoming prom dress rush. “How's Max?”

 

“Busy taking pictures of all the damage along with Madison and Peter. It's not their usual format but it needs to be done.” The two older men had come to the house and grabbed Peter, his cameras, and his laptop. The money was good from the federal government and the work needed to be done for the records. Including insurance payouts and federal assistance.

 

“Is Rupert back?”

 

“Yeah, he got back from taking care of the debris that would otherwise be going to landfills last night.” Jessy says. “We were lucky.”

 

“Yes, even with that asshole coming in to try to steal the land we were damn lucky.” Faith says. “There's a lot of people left homeless after the quake and unless you're right there at the epicenter. . .”

 

“The government agencies tend to forget about you.” Jessy sighs.

 

“Yep.” A woman says as she comes into the building with her daughter and niece. “I spent weeks arguing with the insurance agency for the claim about my property damage.”


“Act of god.” Faith drawls, parroting the catch phrase insurance companies use to deny coverage.

 

“Oh yes, though the government is trying to crack down on cases like that. There's specific clauses for earthquakes the insurance companies like to pretend don't exist. Unless people know about the clauses the agencies aren't going to tell them.”

 

The rush of girls coming in for prom dresses slows down a couple weeks later.

 

“Seven hundred and ninety-eight dresses, a little over a hundred and fifty are two outfits. Yes, we've been getting interest from towns around the area. . .people that might have otherwise driven to the big city to buy off the rack.”

 

“Do you see the seamstress shop hitting a thousand prom dresses?”

 

“God I hope not,” Jessy shudders. “We're looking at having to work over a few days and do some finishing Sundays to get everything done.” The others who don't work at the seamstress shop snicker, it's something they'd be doing anyway.

 

“Stupid woman would be wailing about not making money off your hard work.” Larry says.

 

“Oh yes.”

 

“Has anybody heard about the prisons. . .the morons in prison.”

 

“The bitch who destroyed my car is whining about having to sort garbage. . .she's being made to work and not getting paid for it. Moron shut up when she realized this was a chance to get the hell out of her prison cell for a few hours. The moron who ran into the mall was told to shut the hell up and get his ass in line by the other cons, at a time like this the prisons are on shutdown and he could be shot if he tries anything. While they don't think him being shot would be any great loss, he still owes his family money and he's not getting out of it that easy.” Snickering from the others. “That bitch Madison is still whining about how Daddy won't do anything for her. . .she doesn't have enough money for a tv in her cell. . .or a blu-ray DVD player. She doesn't even have money for a DVD. . .why won't Daddy put money on the books for her. She's working hours and doesn't have a thing to show for it.”

 

“I didn't know you could get blu-ray players, DVDs, and tvs in prison.”

 

“Ohhh, it's some of the same foolishness that ended up with my mom having all that shit in her cell.” Jessy waves a hand. “The difference is my mom have an extra source of money coming in and could afford all that. . .stuff in her cell.”

 

“And she's had money all her life and is miserable.”

 

“Yes, I'm sure like Mom she'd have containers of stuff everywhere. Once she got a tv she'd whine about there not being cable or satellite tv in her cell. Moron's wailing that the quake is a direct attack against her, now she can't pay off her judgments as quickly as she could before. Fool doesn't realize that the damn judgments aren't going to be paid off quickly, and even if by some miracle she could. . .she still wouldn't be getting all the money from her jobs. Just like that stupid shit who ran into the mall, he was stunned that even if most of his money wasn't going to repay his sisters everything taken from their education fund, he still wouldn't be getting all his pay.”

 

“Stupid shits never do.” One of the house's lawyers rumbles.

 

 

The last prom dresses are carried out of the front room a few weeks later and the door to the inner room opens and containers brought out for the few weeks they'll be working on everything before the graduation outfits start to be ordered.

 

“Are we seeing any problems with the orders?” Faith asks.

 

“I haven't had to put in an order here since the earthquake. I haven't heard of anything being short in the house's orders, but then we do put in some good sized orders. There's still some lingering empty spots on the shelves but employees can be seen with carts filling shelves so. . .” Jessy shrugs. Faith nods. “The drugstore is still having trouble filling some orders completely but that's the big drug companies, not the earthquake.”

 

“Wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find some fool trying to use the earthquake as an excuse and blubbering when he's shown to be nothing more than a lying fool trying to cash in on the problems.”

 

“How are you on Max's friends orders?” Larry asks when they come back to the house after work.

 

“Figure on being done next year, even with the increase in the prom and graduation dresses. It'll be tight.” she drawls. Everybody in earshot sniggers. “We got the containers out and working on them, the dresses in the other room are done or nearly done.”

 

A few weeks later the door is shut on the other room, there's only a handful of containers yet to be worked on. The girls start coming in for their graduation outfits and a woman walks into the room, seeing a familiar form on the wall across from the door and smiling as she walks away. Oh yes, this will figure nicely into her plans.

 

“Are you fucking stupid?:” A police officer says as he looks at the woman whining across the desk from him an hour later. “No, it's not illegal to have a doing business as name.”

 

“But why would she use a different name?”

 

“Because Michaels is her grandmother's maiden name.”

 

“Ohhhh, I thought she'd just plucked the name out of thin air.”

 

“Not even close.”

 

“But can't you make her change her name? If I can use the name all her customers would come running to me. . .right?”

 

“No, and she'd fucking destroy you.”

 

“But she'd got so much business. . .it's not fair.”

 

“Because she's worked for years to build up her business. There's no way she'd let your games destroy it.” The woman runs off wailing and the officer picks up the phone to call the Sunnydale House.

 

“Jessy, some fool went to the police station in Marley, trying to complain that it has to be illegal for you to be using a DBA name. Then it turned out she wanted the name. . .all the people who come to you would . ..”

 

“Go to her instead? Figures.” Jessy snorts as she hands Maria to her Daddy.

 

“Yes, the little fool ran off wailing when she realized you'd spent decades building your customer base and wouldn't let her games destroy it.”

 

“Dumbass fucking moron.” Faith snorts.

 

“Oh, there's always going to be somebody trying to take what somebody else has spent years building because they think they're special.” Cordy snorts.

 

“Yep, that stupid bitch who wanted me to move into her building and up my prices a hundred dollars case in point. As opposed to the other dumbass fucking morons out there. Three of whom who are in prison thanks to their own stupidity.”

 

“Are any of them going to be out in less than twenty years?”

 

“Dumbass who ran into the mall twice. He's got ten years left on his sentence, he's due up for parole again in another year but he's been such a fucking dickhead in prison he won't get it. Because they fucking want you to take responsibility for his own actions. . .and he won't. Fucker don't wanna admit he's got a problem. Or that he's the problem. His parents already told him, he gets out of there, don't bother coming home. . .he wouldn't be welcomed for continually trying to stop having to pay back his sisters because they're not in classes.”

 

“Jessy, closet.”

 

“Oh dear god.” Jessy looks at the thick bundle of mail wrapped in rubber bands.

 

“Another fucking distribution?”

 

“Most likely.”

 

“I haven't heard of any large robberies.”

 

“No, but there's been all that insurance money from the earthquake, crooked insurance adjusters, crooked contractors. . .”

 

“People using the earthquake as an excuse not to deliver on contracts?” Faith smirks.

 

“Probably.” Jessy settles in to open letters in the reading room, their daddies can look after the kids for a couple hours. “Huh, I'm back to stocks. More investments in companies I only had small investments in.”

 

“Probably figured the earthquake would take attention off their trades.” Rupert says. Jessy nods as she covers the table with stacks of envelopes and brings out her phone, signing into her banking program and scanning the checks to deposit them after she signs the backs.

 

Rupert drags her away after an hour to eat dinner, she kisses the kids foreheads as Arthur fills a tray for her.

 

“A lot of new stuff?”

 

“Myeh.” Jessy makes a yesnomaybe hand wiggle. “A lot of it is more stock in companies I already had so I have two letters, the original dividends and the new stock. I'm getting into a few areas I didn't own stock in before.”

 

Jessy slumps into a seat in Rupert's office a few hours after dinner.

 

“Forty new companies, another seventy that I already owned stock in, a few I've gone to a majority stockholder, a few businesses I own outright now.” Rupert moans. “And more land. A few of the stocks are on the downslide but they should be turning around. Right now some stocks are on a decline.”

 

“The Earthquake?”

 

“And general downturns. They'll bounce back. Even if you do hear businesses going bankrupt and closing all the time.”

 

“Too big too soon.”

 

“Or they were just pushed out of the market by online stores.” Methos says. Jessy and Rupert nod.

 

Jessy puts everything in her records when she gets home and drops into bed. A couple days later she gets a call and nods. “Yes, I'm in. The kids can stay with their Daddies for a few days.” Larry looks at her as Rupert walks to the door of his office. “The school, Jim's calling us out for a show going to Ireland.”

 

Jessy pokes Janice and sits down beside her, the other woman pausing the screen and grinning at her. “How are you coming along at the shop?”

 

“Good, we had nearly 800 prom dresses. A lot of people who would normally have driven to the big cities came to us instead. We're working on orders right now, when we get back it will be time to start wrapping up outfits for the graduation rush.”

 

“Awww, my kids would love these.” She says a couple days later as they look through a store.

 

“You have children?”

 

“Twin boys turning five in December and a girl turning two in November. I waited until I was at a good place to have my children.” The other women in the group nod in satisfaction as her purchases are bagged.

 

Jessy looks at a POD parked behind the store when she walks in a week later. “We got an order from the state, you know those quilted bags?” Faith says, looking at her.

 

“They want us to make them?”

 

“Yeah, the factory that would have made them was destroyed in the earthquake and the insurance isn't enough to rebuild it.” Jessy shakes her head. “It's good money for the house, it's a permanent job and we can work on it a few hours at a time. And the factories making the supplies for the job won't lose their contracts.”

 

Jessy shakes her head but nods and walks into her office to sort through the mail.

 

“Jessy, got a special customer here.” Jubilee says, tapping on her door a couple hours later.

 

A few hours later Jessy slumps into her usual seat in the cafeteria. “Anybody going into Miami tomorrow?” She looks around. The others look around then shake their heads. “Okay, I'll take my van in then.”

 

“You won't need a truck?” Rupert asks.

 

“No, it's just one outfit but I'll need to buy a lot of special stuff. Fancy stuff. Stuff I don't normally buy because I don't have a need for it.”

 

Jessy slumps into the seat the next night.

 

“Get everything?”

 

“Yes, it's all in the other building so I have plenty of room to spread out and work on it.”

 

Jessy unlocks the other building a couple days later and starts laying out fabric. Two months later the last of the graduation outfits are picked up and a car pulls up to the other building, a woman stepping out of the building a half-hour later with a garment bag that goes into the back of the car. Jessy locks the building and joins the others walking to the carts that have pulled up.

 

“Are you done now?”

 

“Yeah, it was a good bit of work but I charged a good bit of money for it too.”

 

“Is it going on the wall?”

 

“Nope, total privacy. They tried getting me to sign a non-disclosure thing and I pointed them to the door and told them to go to hell. They needed me, I didn't need them. Some fool who thinks they're all that.” Jessy snorts. “I don't even know who I made the outfit for, it was a cash deposit and a series of cashier's checks every two weeks with one last one today.”

 

Xander shakes his head. “Hey, it was good money. They paid through the nose for me and me alone to work on it.”

 

Jessy kisses the boys foreheads as she walks into the cafeteria a couple days later. “Sorry I'm late, some damn fool was protesting something at the complex my rheumatologist has his office at.” Rupert sighs. “Yeah, she was being drug off by uniforms as I walked out. It took a while for the parking lot to clear out so I could leave. Not the police. . .damn news crews. It must have been a slow day in Miami.”

“Or she was related to somebody important.” Larry says, rolling his eyes.

“Probably.”

 

The next morning Jessy opens boxes of supplies for the bags, starting to lay fabrics together and pinning the pieces in place. Two production lines are set up, one station quilting the sides, the next sewing the bag, the next attaching the zipper, the next the straps, checking the bag, and putting them in boxes.

 

The next morning everybody arrives at the shop after breakfast, the boys bringing in bolts of fabric as Jessy calls out outfits. A couple days later the containers are full and Jessy thanks the boys.

 

A woman comes in the next day and nods in satisfaction as she looks over the bags, Jessy, Faith, and Jubilee taping the boxes and putting them in her truck. She looks over the remaining supplies in the POD and gets on her phone. A few days later a truck arrives and fills the POD, Jessy and Xander ticking off the supplies as the others work inside.

 

“Are you going out to New York this year?”

 

“Nope, they're working on more segments for their show. It's a good time to do the work.”

 

“What do they do with the bags?”

 

“Fill them with supplies during disasters and hand them out. Fill them with school supplies and hand them out to low income students. Hand them out to kids in the foster care system. Fill them with groceries for the backpack projects. . .stuff like that.”

 

Jessy walks into the main building and lifts Marie into her arms. “Have a good day with daddy?” Marie grins.

 

“Another eighteen months and she'll be starting classes with Laura and Michael.”

 

“Gods.” Jessy sighs. “Any more complaints from that fool in the government?”

 

“Nope, not a peep since he found out the local school wouldn't kiss his ass for bringing them more students, not when they didn't get money from the state for them. He can't make anybody kiss his ass and he's sulking. His boss won't give him any good assignments after the shit he pulled here and he's miserable as the little people in the office get both the plum assignments and the promotions he think he's due.”

 

Later that night Rupert taps Jessy on the shoulder and nods. “Andrew,” she calls over the hubbub in the cafeteria. He looks at her. “Congratulations Daddy, we have a baby in the chamber.” He stares at her then runs over and hugs her. “I told you you were on the short list to be the baby Daddy. And you're a wonderful father to Brandon already. Not to mention doting on all the other kids.”

 

“Actually it's two children you two, I fertilized two eggs.”

 

“Then it's a good time to tell you I'm hating breakfast.” Harmony calls from across the room. “Cordy?” She'd been giving Xander disgusted looks.

 

“Yes, I'm pregnant again. These are the last children, five is enough with the boys.” She tells Xander firmly. “I know women are having babies later in life but I'm 45 years old damn it.”

 

“Faith, Willow, Kendra?”

 

“Yes, we've been inseminated, but we don't know if they took yet. Andrew, Larry, and Oz are the fathers again if they took.”

 

“Rupert, what's the progress on the other dimension?” Methos asks after dinner.

 

“We've got the first large gardens in and have plans for plantations. This year is supposed to be a bad one for hurricanes, everybody around us is busy getting in supplies while they can. I've increased the shields, they should be able to stand up to a direct hit from a nuclear bomb now, but in that event we'd be leaving immediately. We have a location set up already, the others have told us we're in the worst position with the hurricanes. I told them they're as likely to be affected by them as we are but. . .” Rupert holds up his hands in a 'what can you do' gesture. “We still have a good selection of supplies and we are supplementing the gardens with the hydroponics.”

 

“The cistern?”

 

“Has been enlarged to the nth degree. It will be needed as backup to the bottled water supply. Which has also been enlarged.” Methos nods in satisfaction. “We've got enough MRE's stored away to last everybody a hundred years and we can replicate more. There's still areas that are having trouble getting in supplies from the earthquake. If a hurricane hits the area. . .”

 

“They'd be devastated. At least thanks to the boxes power will be restored quickly as long as the buildings are sound.”

 

“Mack, how are we on weapons and ammunition?” Rupert asks a couple days later when he walks out to the security center and shuts the office door.

 

“I never stopped ordering the new amounts, even when things started getting better. I don't have the gifts you and the others do but I still had a bad feeling that the other shoe was attached to a slowly fraying rope.” Mack Bolan snorts. “and I've talked to the others at the other houses. They've got just as many bad feelings as I do and all the houses stocked up on weapons and ammo. I can't say we're doomsday survivalists, but . . .”

 

“We're doomsday survivalists.” Rupert says. “I've told Jessy to stock up on fabric and other supplies again, I told the candle and soapmakers to double and triple their regular orders so we can have plenty on hand. Thanks to the information Jessy passed along from her friends we've got plenty of room.”

 

Mack shakes his head, he'd been allowed to read the reports from the other dimensions. “Do we have other planets we can move to if we have to?”

 

“Buckaroo is looking at the moon and Mars but I'm afraid it would be a lot of work. Jessy's friends have told her that we're welcome to move to their planets if we have to, there's plenty of room. Pray to god it wouldn't be a one-way trip.”

 

“We'd need a list of people who we'd want to bring with us if possible.” Methos says from the corner.

 

“Yes, and it wouldn't be just our house moving.”

 

“The other houses.”

 

“And possibly the school in New York. And some friends in New York.”

 

Rupert comes back into the main building and finds the mayor of Marley waiting on him. “I'm sorry to bother you Dr. Giles, I know you've been keeping an eye on the hurricane forecast and we're expecting to be slammed.”

 

“Yes, how are you getting along on supplies?”

 

“Everyplace we can put supplies we're stashing them for the year. Literally every office has walls of supplies and you only have a path in the middle of the room to their desks. Every other place that can get in supplies is as well. Every citizen is getting in supplies, the school in town is being filled as soon as it closes for the year and will be used as a shelter again. I wanted to make sure your family out here would be good.”

 

“Yes, we've got a good number of supplies in and can 'hunker down' to ride out the storm. Thankfully we're not in the direct path of one.”

 

“Yes, we're far enough inland we don't get the major damage the coasts do. But this earthquake. . .”

 

“Made everybody sit up and take notice, realizing that we're not as safe off as we could be. You're a good mayor and the citizens thank you every day for taking care of them. Not many communities could say the same.”

 

“I know. I feel like I'm overcompensating but I have a meeting with somebody from the state who's coming out to look over our preparations. I don't want them to give us a failing grade, I've heard stories from other mayors who had the same inspection and failed. They lost money from the state that they'd have got if there was a disaster, thankfully there wasn't any disasters but they had to spend a hell of a lot of money to get everything up the way the government wanted it. The inspectors grudgingly passed them the second time, though they still would have lost ten percent of the money.”

 

“Sounds like a bunch of wonderful bastards.” Larry snorts as he comes in with Rupert's mail.

 

“Oh, you know the government. They want you to jump through hoops for the crumbs they'll grudgingly drop for you.” He snorts as he walks off. A few days later he slumps in his office chair after the inspection and his secretary looks in on him.

 

“We good?”

“We're very good. He was quite happy to see all the supplies on hand and nodded in satisfaction at the plans to use the school for a shelter. He complimented us, a lot of communities he inspected didn't have any plans or their plans weren't up to par when the earthquake happened.”

 

His secretary nods in satisfaction. “They got too complacent. . .ohhh, this will never happen to us. The earthquake knocked that idea out of a lot of heads.”

 

Mayor Watson nods. “Now we can just concentrate on our preparations and hope the hell they're not needed.”

 

Sammy Jo nods.

 

Everybody start cutting plastic after the last pallet is put in the middle of the main entrance. A bucket brigade is set up for the water bottles and the first of ten pallets is soon emptied and they start on the second.

 

“I swear everything is bulging at the seams but I know we're going to need all this is the hurricane system is half as bad as they say it is.” Faith mumbles a couple days later. She looks over at Ryan. “How's your precinct doing?”

 

“Good, we've got tons of supplies in and as soon as we get the official word we'll be locking the building down until it's over.” The first hurricane of the year has been forecast to hit Miami a glancing blow and everybody was preparing to lock down in a couple days. The last tray of food is brought out of the cafeteria and the pair head off to start delivering it. A couple days later the alert goes out and Jessy shuts the shutters on her house and settles in to wait out the wind and rain.

 

Several long days later she gets the all-clear and throws open the front door, Marcus, Aaron, and Marie heading to the main building with a house elf while Jessy starts taking down the shutters over the windows. Scott grins at her as he comes over.

 

“Any news in town?”

 

“A lot of down lines thanks to the wind. Not much flooding since most houses in the area don't have basements. Thankfully after the earthquake everybody in town got in stocks of supplies and bottled water. Which people in hurricane areas should be stocking up on as a matter of habit instead of making runs to the stores.”

 

“Well that would only make sense. People would rather rush around like chickens with their heads cut off just before the storm. ” Arthur snorts as he walks up with a cart of containers. He looks at Jessy and she nods, he goes into the house and finds the clean containers stacked by the door. Putting them on the cart he heads to the main building. Jessy's house had been the last building to stop at and he takes the cart to the cafeteria, filling the dishwashers and starting them running as the cooks who live in town start arriving. Like the rest of them if there's no damage to their houses they want to get the hell out of them.

 

“Bless you Arthur.” The head of the day shift says as she sees the dishwashers running. She knows the containers would have been washed in their homes but the commercial dishwashers they use are hotter and would sterilize the containers. “How is everybody?”

 

“Opening windows for fresh air. How is the power situation in town?”

 

“The boxes mean most of the stores don't have to worry about generators during a big storm. Most of us in town have the boxes so we're good no matter how long it takes. Because all the crews will be sent off to handle more heavily damaged areas instead of ours.”

 

Nods from the others as they start coming into the room. “Okay, how are we on stuff made up?”

 

A cooler is opened and large containers start to be brought out and put in the ovens or uncovered as frozen pizzas start to go in the ovens.

 

“How is the New York House?” Joyce asks a couple hours later after she's looked in on everybody.

 

“Good, I contacted them and Mr. Stark. They're getting the rain but not the wind.” Rupert says. “I saw video of subway trains under waterfalls from the rain.”

 

“Did you talk to your friends?” She asks Jessy next.

 

“Yes, they're thankful they're not getting more than days of rain. Annoying but they're not seeing the flooding unless they go into the city itself. Thankfully being hit by that outage means everybody has the boxes and if the lines go down. . .” Jessy shrugs. “I told them I was going to be a mother again and I could hear the squeal even with the phone held at arm's length.” the others snigger.

 

“I want to start education funds for the babies.” Andrew looks first at Willow then Jessy.

 

“Wait until we find out if it's just one baby, or two in my case.” Jessy says. Willow nods. “Did you tell your family?”

 

“Yes, and Uncle Gil says Grandma is hopping up and down. They're coming out after the baby's born. Uncle Gil likes the plans for my house,.Grandma and Aunt Susan say it's about time.” She looks over at Harmony.

 

“I like my apartment and have plenty of room. Kids grow up in apartments all the time and there's no lack of yard space for them to play in.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. “All our kids know they're loved by both parents even if we don't live together. Too many kids grow up with parents who live together but fight all the time.” Nods from everybody. Buster and Muffy grew up with single parents, Jessy and Cordelia basically raised themselves. Their parents were there . . .but not for them.

 

Jessy leans in Rupert's doorway a few hours later.

 

“I just got a call from the prison, that fool Stein was taken out of protective custody. The courts are tired of paying to keep his stupid ass in a cell 23 hours a day.”

 

“Awwww,” Larry purrs. “I'm sure the other prisoners are just waiting to 'welcome' him into the general population.”

 

“Yep, I doubt the fool will live through the end of next year. Cons don't like dirty cops. And now he's got to work not just one but two jobs.”

 

“D'awww, the poo' baby will be even more miserable.”

 

“Yep, because being in protective custody he didn't have to work before.”

 

The next day the mail starts arriving at the House and everybody starts grabbing handfuls from the containers and sorting it into cubbies on the wall.

 

“This is the bad thing about the sorting center holding our mail during a storm.”

 

“Could be worse, we could have lost our homes and be getting bills in the mail because the mail must go through.” Xander snorts. The others nod and grab their next handful of mail. All the cubbies are full and second piles are started.

 

“Jessy, are you going to the sale next month?” Larry asks as the second piles start growing and they break to start sorting through the mail.

 

“Yeah, I head off in a few days. I'll be gone not quite four days total.” Jessy says over the sound of envelopes hitting the recycling bin in the middle of the room.

 

“Do we have room in the recycling for this?” Betty asks.

 

“Yes, this is just what we'd be getting anyway, it just seems like a lot since we have it all dumping on us today.” Larry sighs. They look at the remaining containers and start grabbing handfuls of mail again. It takes three stopping and sorting breaks but all the mail is taken care of and the containers put aside to be taken out to the guardhouse.

 

Over the next couple weeks everybody works extra hours at the seamstress shops including Sundays to get back on track. Max and his friends had just chuckled at the 'we're doing this for us' emphatic head nods. The bags are beginning to pile up again and are picked up, the woman talking with Jessy.

 

“Is the orders ending?”

 

“Nope, we're getting more patterns.” Faith nods in satisfaction. “And a second POD of supplies. Expect the PODS to be refilled three times a year. . .or more. Because it's not just bags for the government now.” The folder that had been left with her is passed along and everybody nods. “”This means a second shift.”

 

“Won't hurt us.” Faith says. Everybody nods again. Jessy's phone rings in her office and she goes in to answer it.

 

She's rolling her eyes when she comes back out. “That guy again, another special outfit.”

 

“Sucks to be you.” Faith snorts.

 

“Rupert, the bag order is increasing. We're looking at having a second shift. We'll. . .”

 

“Need more stations, I was thinking about it.” He says from the door of his office. A cat is in his arms and Jessy scritches his chin. “He's new.”

 

“Yes, we got a request from the humane society they're overwhelmed since a 'breeder' was taken down. I would. . .”

 

“How many animals?”

 

“A couple hundred, several breeds. Both dogs and cats.”

 

“Contact whoever you can to get the animals. I got somebody who can take them.” Rupert and Methos look at her. Shutting the door, then opening it and rolling her eyes and pulling Larry into the room she shuts it again.

 

“Haven, they've taken in shelters full of pets that would otherwise have to be put down as well as rescuing animals from disreputable breeders.” She sends off a message getting an immediate response. “She'll take them, if they don't find homes on Haven they will on the other planets. Contact people to get others so they don't inbreed?” Larry immediately gets on the phone. A couple weeks later vans start arriving with animals. They're thanked profusely as the animals are unloaded and later that night the animals that hadn't been snatched up by the others are picked up by Josette.

 

“Will they be okay?” Faith asks a couple days after they've left.

 

“Oh yes,” Jessy shows her footage of the cats in a large building full of toys and climbing areas. The cats are investigating everything and lounging on large windowsills. Baskets have Moms laying down with their babies and larger kittens are tussling on the floor. Not all the animals had made it to Haven, some had found permanent spots in the main building or homes or apartments. Faith has a half-grown kitten purring in her ear and she reaches back absently to pet him behind the ears.

 

“Now, are we adding more machines?”

 

“Yes, when we shut down at the end of the year.” Faith nods in satisfaction.. “Now, changing the subject. The special order?”

 

“Going into Miami tomorrow to get the supplies. Stupid moron didn't learn from last time and not only tried to make me sign an non-disclosure form he tried slipping in a clause to keep me from taking other jobs. You know, the clause that keeps people who sell businesses from opening new ones in the same area. A non-competition clause the lawyers call it. His own lawyer gave him a look of pure disgust and ripped them up saying that I'm a business person and I can take any job I damn well want. He pouted and I pointed to the door again, he realized he's not all that and I'm going to the mall too. For me, not the library. That trip is going to be after I come back from the sale since I'll have the usual order and another trip to the fabric warehouse.” Faith and Rupert nod in satisfaction.

 

“Jessy, that container?”

 

“Josette.” The story is told and Faith pretends to prance down the hallway, swishing her skirt.

 

“Exactly, she didn't care if the colors would get dirty quickly, she wouldn't be washing it. Josette asked me if I could use it. I've already made inroads in it.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. The next morning Jessy gets behind the wheel of her van and drives through the gates, returning late that night and putting the fabric and other material in the other seamstress building. Dropping her bags on the table she looks at the time and heads to the main building. Grabbing her mail she walks to the cafeteria and fills a tray.

 

“Get everything you needed for your special order?” One of the cooks asks.

 

“Yes, and I'm making the moron pay through the nose for annoying me. Try to tell me I couldn't take orders from anybody else. Hmmmph. Stupid twit. I'm sure he's still blubbering about how it's not fair. Not only did I not sign the papers he wanted, when he tried hinting that this design belonged to him and I couldn't make it again I about took his damn head off. So did his attorney.”

 

“Idiot.” the cooks snort.

 

“Ohhhh, but he's special and expects everybody to kiss his ass for existing. When he can't get somebody to roll over for him he's stunned.” Jessy rolls her eyes. “Anyway I'll work on it until I leave for the sale. Moron wanted me to cancel all my plans and his lawyer had enough and dragged him away.”

 

“Yep, we could hear him calling him a damn fool from the soapmaking building.” Francine says as she comes into the cafeteria. “How far along are you going to be when you get back from your sale?”

 

“Far enough I can take a week or two off and help out in the soapmaking building. Longer if you need me to, I can work on it nights.”

 

“Thank you Jessy, we're expecting another rush on the soap at the 4th of July sale.” Rupert says, walking into the cafeteria. Francine chuckles and fills her tray again as Jessy starts sorting through her mail.

 

“Are you taking pictures of your dresses?”

 

“Yep, dumbass might pout about it but I want proof I made them. He started fussing but his own lawyer called him a fool. I'll have copies of the dresses in various stages and the paperwork.” Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

Jessy slumps onto the hotel room bed the day before the sale.

 

“You okay?” Janice asks.

 

“I've been dealing with an annoying customer. He wanted a special outfit, wanted only me to work on it, wanted me to sign a non-disclosure form, I ripped it up and told him to go to hell. Fool came back with a lawyer and tried making me sign the paper again, his own lawyer ripped it up. Moron wanted me to sign a thing so I couldn't make outfits for anybody else, his own lawyer called him a fool. He ain't that damn special. He didn't want me to leave for this sale. . .”

 

“Moron.” Angie says from the other bed.

 

“Yeah, It's good money though. . .he paid through the nose for both outfits. Fucker tried claiming he owns both designs and I can't make them for anybody else, his own lawyer about took his head off.”

 

“Gods, one of those fools.”

 

“Yep.” Jessy drawls. “When I get back home I'm going to be spending at least a week in the soapmaking building helping them fill the shelves again after the sale.”

 

“I've been to that sale the year this sale was moved, the soap flies off the table.”

 

“Yeah, the soapmakers have boxes of soap made up for the sale. Basically anything that's not a special order goes out and not much comes back. The sale is their moneymaker for the year.”

 

“Did you get much damage during the quake?”

 

“No, mostly stuff falling off shelves that had to be picked up and sorted out.” Jessy sighs. “We were lucky but it made us get in a lot more supplies, even more than normal since this has been such a bad year for storms.” Both women nod. “Marley's mayor came out to make sure we'd be okay out there, he's been working on hurricane preparations putting supplies wherever they could put boxes or water bottles. He'd been expecting an inspection from the state people and of course there was a lot of horror stories about the inspection. . .”

 

“From communities that didn't prepare for it? Figures.” Angie snorts. “Dinner?”

 

“Yeah, I could eat.”

 

Jessy returns to the House a couple days later and drops the receipts on Larry's desk. “This will take care of the order that we'd be sending out in a couple months.” Rupert nods in satisfaction from the door of his office. “I'll start at the soapmaking building after breakfast tomorrow, I worked extra on the outfit to make up for these two weeks. . .and yes, I'm charging the fool through the nose for it.”

 

Two weeks after she'd returned home she looks at the outfit in satisfaction and calls the number the lawyer had left her, leaving a message that the outfit was completed. Locking the door of the second building she walks to the main house with Jubilee and Illyana.

 

“Done?”

 

“Yes, thank you gods.”

 

A couple days after that there's a knock at the door and Jessy unlocks the other building, the outfit being looked over and the garment bag zipped back up before one last check is handed to her and the lawyer thanks her and drives off. Putting the check in the lockbox, it's too big to deposit with her phone, she turns her attention back to the others. The next morning she deposits it in her account in Marley before going grocery shopping and picking up her pills.

 

“Sissy?” She asks when she returns to her home.

 

“Miss Jessy?”

 

“How are the baby clothes supply?”

 

“Good, good. Anything too wore out put aside for quilts. Big kids though. . .?”

 

“Yeah, Us mothers are planning on going into the mall this weekend to go clothes shopping while the guys take care of the kids.”

 

Jessy walks into the main building and Larry points firmly at the closet door.

 

“Oh dear god.” she moans when she sees the 'it's a boy, it's a girl' balloons, two of each. “I'd been halfway expecting it. Josette says there's a good chance of twins in the chambers they use.” Larry laughs and nods. “Andrew seen it yet?”

 

“No, he's not due back until tomorrow. Scott and Dexter are bringing out two more cribs and other baby supplies once you found out.” The two men grin at her as they pass the door with the supplies.

 

“Well, I'll have to hit the second-hand stores for more baby clothes.”

 

“Are we still on this weekend for the mall?” Harmony asks.

 

“Yes, the kids are outgrowing everything.” Nods from the other parents. Grabbing her phone she dials the number for the New York school.

 

“Good afternoon, Davison school of design. How may I direct your call?” Mona says into the phone as she stops typing.

 

“Mona, it's Jessy Michaels. Since I know the others are going to descend on me en masse in a few months. . .I just found out it's two sets of identical twins, boys and girls.”

 

“Oh dear lord Ms. Michaels.” the phone is put down and Mona lays her head on the desk and starts laughing. Natalie is in the office and had heard Ms. Michaels, she picks up the phone.

 

“Jessyca?” she listens to the 'oh dear god, the shoe dropped' tone of voice on the other end of the line and valiantly keeps from joining Mona in laughing.

 

“Oh go ahead and laugh, everybody out here is.” Jessy snorts. “We're waiting for Andrew to come home from the conference he's attending and learn he's going from the father of one and expecting three more babies in a few months to being the father of one and expecting five more babies in a few months. General betting is he's going to go out like a light.”

 

“I would as well.” Natalie's biting her lip. “I'll pass on the news to the others and we'll come out after the babies come.”

 

“Four babies.” Mona laughs. “Oh dear god, she started out late but she's going big.” Mona's the mother of three herself, thankfully all having come one at a time.

 

“There's always a good chance of the egg splitting after implantation.” Natalie sighs and looks at the time then triggers the intercom.

 

“Attention everybody, we just got a call from Miami. Ms. Michaels is expecting two sets of identical twins, boys and girls.” The sound of stunned silence then laughter from the building around them.

 

At the house Jessy puts her phone away. “I'd been halfway expecting it, that's why I've been putting off starting the kids education funds.”

 

“Yes, no use starting some then having to go and start more.” Harmony sighs.

 

“Oh really?” Jessy purrs.

 

“Yes, my doctor just confirmed it earlier today. Another reason we need to go to the mall.” Scott stops and grabs Dexter. “Harmony's having twins too.”

 

“We'll bring out another crib for you Harmony and set them up tomorrow, the batteries are charging on the hand tools.” Dexter says.

 

“No hurry guys, we won't need them for a few months yet. Identical?” Jessy asks Harmony.

 

“Looks like it, twins run in my family.”

 

“Gentlemen, how are we on batteries for the hand tools. I know they eventually wear out. . .”

 

“We dropped the old ones in the recycling box at the contractor warehouse when we brought these new ones. We've got boxes of them to have on hand.” Scott says. “And they're on the replicator in case things go to hell and we can't get replacements.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. He looks out the window. Laura and Quentin would be wailing about their daughter having so many children out of wedlock with three different men but Matthew and Annabelle would be over the moon.

 

“Andrew, closet.” Larry says in an 'absent' voice the next day when he returns from his conference.

 

“I wasn't expecting. . .” his voice trails off as everything goes dark. Two arms grab him and he's shoved into a chair, his head between his legs.

 

“Two sets of twins?” Andrew babbles several hours later when Jessy sits down across from him at the table.

 

“I've been halfway expecting it, there's a good chance of the eggs splitting after being implanted. I'd be worried about Marie feeling left out by not having a twin but I have the feeling she'll be crowing about not having to share a birthday and everything. And there's more than enough other 'single' children she's growing up with so the others won't be able to start pushing her around because she's not a twin.”

 

“Unlike in the legion of super-hero comic books where that one planet where everybody has twins and a single birth is looked at as 'ohhh, that pooor baby'.” Andrew grins.

 

“Rupert, you'd probably know this better than Francine. . .but I was watching Dr. Oz and they had something about essentia. . .” Harmony asks.

 

“We buy from reputable companies that back up their claims with lab tests.” Jessy says absently. “Soapmakers tend to police their businesses a lot better than somebody buying it in a store for health claims since we use so much of it.” Rupert nods.

 

The next day Andrew and Jessy drive into town, walking into the bank and going to a teller.

 

“Ms. Michaels, Mr. Wells, is there a problem?”

 

“No, we need to open four new accounts. For our babies.”

 

“Four?” the teller squeals.

 

“Yes, we went with two surrogates and two eggs. Both of them split.” Jessy shakes her head and laughs. “When it rains it pours. Because Willow, Faith, Cordy, Harmony, and Kendra are expecting too. And Harmony's having twins too.” Since her sister works at the diaper service run by the church this is killing two birds with one stone, opening the accounts and letting them know they'll be contacting them about diapers soon.

 

They're shown into an office and the accounts are created with each of them putting in fifteen thousand dollars in each account. The paperwork goes in her office back at her house as she walks into the newly enlarged nursery and finds Dexter, Scott, and Sam working on the cribs and putting changing tables up. The second dresser has been brought back into the room, for the time being they can share a dresser. It won't be until they move to toddler beds that they need more room for their clothes.

 

“Are they going to be sharing rooms?”

 

“Yeah, at least until they get older and want their own space. When they're old enough to do that they can find their own rooms and arrange everything the way they want. Lord knows the girls will want their own spaces at least.” Nods from Scott who has a daughter and Dexter who has a sister and a daughter.

 

“Jessy, I hear rumors you're going to be a mother again?” Max grins as he walks into the seamstress building to pick up his latest batch of outfits to take to the others.

 

“Yes, it's two sets of identical twins, we used two surrogates this time and both eggs split.”

 

“Oh dear lord.” he splutters as a laughing Faith opens the door to the inner workroom. He looks at the boxes of supplies against the wall then looks at them.

 

“We got a permanent government contract to sew bags, we put up a second shift so we can work on them and the outfits at the same time instead of having days where we work on everything assembly line style. As it is we work on it in stages so each stage has plenty of work.” A box of quilted sides is moved to a station and started to be put together in bags. Meanwhile another station is busy making handles for the bags.

 

“Boys or girls?”

 

“Both.”

 

“Have you got any special requests?”

 

Jessy snorts and tells him about the two outfits before they go over the outfits. He sighs, nods, and laughs as the boys take everything out to the truck and strap the rolling racks down.

 

“Yes, he's a little fool who believes his publicity and hasn't had the stupidity knocked out of him so he gets some sense yet.”

 

“He tries it with me and he'll get the stupidity knocked out of him.” Max grins. “I'd pay money to see that fight.” He looks at the list of remaining outfits and nods. “I'll come out next year with the others for the new orders.”

 

“We'll be here. Unless a damn hurricane blows us away.” Faith snorts as she looks at the boxes. “Jessy, we're getting low on the zippers and pinned layers.”

 

“I'll go out and get it, one or two boxes?”

 

“Two should do it. Are you bringing in more blanks?”

 

“Yeah, I might as well while I'm out there.” Jessy takes the envelope Max hands her, waves as he drives off, and then goes to the POD. The boxes go against the wall or by a table and she opens them, pinning the layers together and putting them in a container that goes against the wall when it's full. The next box is different fabric and she looks through the file of patterns and lays out everything, filling that container by the end of the day.

 

The next day everybody is back at the shop and Faith and Sam bring out the containers of patterns, the other boys bringing out the fabric as Jessy calls out outfits and Faith calls out materials needed. Two days later they finish filling enough containers until the shop closes for the end of the year.

 

“Jessy, phone. It's for you.” Illyana calls.

 

“No, there's no way in hell I'm shutting down my seamstress shops to kiss your fucking ass. Get the hell over yourself, you're not all that and your outfits are a fraction of my work.” Jessy continues to calmly tell the fool off over the phone and he blubbers as he ends the call.

 

“Moron, what the hell did you think would happen? You've been trying to get her business closed since your first outfit. She doesn't need you, she's got plenty of other work.”

 

“But if she came to work for me exclusively, she could make maybe a half-million dollars in a few years.” he blubbers.

 

“Idiot, she routinely make ten times that multiple times a year. You're not all that special, quit trying to get her to sign a non-disclosure contract, a non-competition clause, and stop trying to steal her designs. She's got a damn good case against you, she could end up getting everything you own.”

 

“She could?” he wails.

 

“Yes moron, she could. You've tried forcing her to shut down her business with your whiny demands, you've tried stealing her designs. . . you're nothing more than a pathetic fool who's trying to shove his weight around and can't do a damn thing except make things more difficult for himself. Now shut up, let me deal with her, and go sit in a damn corner until you grow up.”

 

“But she can't make that much money.” he wails.

 

“And how did you learn about her, hmmm?”

 

He rattles off a list of big names who routinely get outfits from her then slumps. “Ohhh.”

 

“Yeah, ohhh. And now her seamstress buildings have a permanent government contract to make bags for them. Like she said, she doesn't need you. And she's going to be a new mother in a few months, she's expecting two sets of identical twins by surrogates according to the people who know her.”

 

“Knock the stupidity out of the damn fool?” Jessy asks a couple days later when the lawyer walks into the office.

 

“Yes, I'll fax him sketches.” they walk into the other building and settle down to work, a largish check for the deposit being wrote out. The others are closing up boxes of the bags when she walks into the building and she puts them in the third POD that had been delivered a couple days ago to hold the boxes until they're picked up.

 

“More stupidity?”

 

“Nope, the little fool got his ass handed by everybody and firmly told to sit in a damn corner until he grows up.” Faith laughs.

 

“An outfit?”

 

“Yeah, he says I'll probably have three or four a year, dumbass thought I might be able to make a half-million dollars over a few years if I work just for him. He was stunned I make ten times that multiple times a year.” The others laugh.

 

“Anybody need a ride into Miami tomorrow?” Jessy says at dinner. “I'm stopping into town to deposit the deposit for this latest outfit, picking up the order forms for the seamstress shop, and then going to the fabric warehouse.” Everybody looks at each other but shake their heads. “Okay then, next week I'm going in for the library and getting in our regular order from the warehouse.” Nods from the others. “Need me to get the book and DVD closets while I'm out there?”

 

“Please Jessy, thank you.” Joyce wraps an arm around her as she hands out assignments.

 

“Jessy, not a ride but can you pick up an order for me at the homeschooling store?” Wesley asks.

 

“Yeah, it's on the way.”

 

Jessy leans in Rupert's doorway the next evening. “They have a new store in the area that's all puzzles. Want to come in with me next week or should I just buy a half-dozen of everything every time I go out?”

 

“I'll go out with you.”

 

Rupert looks around at the store and smiles. The clerk nodding at the woman who'd come in last week and basically brought them their month's sales in one trip. The man with her nods in satisfaction and starts wandering the aisles, pointing at puzzles that are put in the carts. More than one copy of a puzzle is brought. The total isn't even blinked at they take catalogs, looking at them then at her.

 

“Can we order them through you?”

 

“Yes, and it would save you shipping.”

 

Jessy makes a sound that has Rupert sighing and looking up at the ceiling. “As my goddaughter so quaintly put it we don't care about the shipping but it would no doubt mean profits for your store?”

 

“Yes sir.” she says quietly.

 

“Good, we always want to help out local businesses.” The bags and boxes are put in the back of the truck and they drive off. A local business owner laughs at them. “You just met Jessy Michaels, she does a lot of shopping in the area. I don't know the man with her. . .”

 

“He called her his goddaughter.”

 

“Ahhh, the boss then. She usually comes out with two or three other guys, they all work together in the same place.”

 

The next morning Wesley blinks at the boxes and bags being put in a room for the time being. Looking in he nods, that will be something for everything to do while they're locked in during foul weather. Looking at a table he nods again when he sees small puzzles for the kids.

 

Jessy slumps into her usual seat at the dining hall for dinner, covering her mouth and burping a number of times.

 

“You going to live?” Methos asks, looking over at her.

 

“Yeah, I just took some alka-seltzer and it's beginning to work.” She yawns. “Faith?”

 

“Yo!”

 

“I'm expecting a package for the outfit in a couple days.”

 

“I'll put it in the other building when it arrives.”

 

“Thank you. It's not something the warehouse normally carries, high end shit.” Since she's making finger quotes around high-end Faith figures it's probably gaudy crap. “Exactly.”

 

“Jessy, do you need another container for recycling at the shops?” Scott asks from another table.

 

“No, most of the boxes are being reused with the bags since we're not packaging them, just putting them in the boxes, writing down the pattern and number, closing them with tape, and putting them in the POD to be picked up. The next stop will see them inspected and formally packaged.”

 

“Is there any news on the power grid?”

 

“Ours should be ready to go online sometime next year. Between the earthquake and hurricanes. . .things got delayed.” The others nod.

 

“The other power plant?”

 

“Failed the inspection, we'd been expecting it for years. But the new one is nearly done and will start operating by the end of the year. Gods willing something else doesn't happen to delay it.”

 

“The other power grids?”

 

“Should be finished over the next few years. That should take some pressure off the main grid and allow it to limp along until all the new grids start to interconnect.”

 

“Interconnect?”

 

“Larger plants not only produce for their area, but send power further up the line. There's not enough smaller power plants and operations to handle everybody.” Scott says. “Once all the lines of the new grids are up they'll be replacing all the fried lines, substations, and the plants that caused the outages.”

 

“Do we see people switching back from the boxes?” Somebody asks.

 

“Not really, it's going to be years before all that is done, people are going to be used to the boxes by then. Not to mention they're paying for the power they use, not the damn fees.”

 

“I see more the power plants sending out the power to the rest of the grid.” Xander says. The others nod. “Okay,. I'm heading into Miami tomorrow to the contractors warehouse, do you have a list?” he asks Scott. “I gotta stock up on tools again. Even with good maintenance. . .”

 

“I'll ride with you, we've got a couple places to stop.” He nods.

 

Jessy laughs as she finds the others peering in the windows to try to see what she's working on. “Trust me, it's not that damn exciting. He might think he's gods gift to humanity and there's spies everywhere trying to get hold of his outfits.”

 

“They're not and he's a fool?”

 

“Yep, but the money's good.” The doors are unlocked and they walk in for the day's work. Less than an hour into the day the power goes out.

 

“I got a bad feeling about this.” Faith says from the door linking the two buildings once the alternate power had come on.

 

“Yeah, so am I.” Jessy sighs. “We've been damn lucky so far. Nothing we can do, listen to the news in a couple hours and we'll find out what happened from Larry tonight.” she looks at Faith. “Check the internet.”

 

“Already did, massive outage. . .DC got hit again.” Paige says behind Faith. “All the way down to the coast and inland. We're looking at an outage twice the size of the others. They don't know yet if we're the area that had fried wires or just got hit by a surge.”

 

“They won't know for a while.” Scott says from the doorway. “At least Marley can turn the school into an emergency shelter if the power is off long.”

 

“If it's off long school won't be opening until the boxes start to be released. Thankfully anybody who can get them has generators.”

 

Scott nods. “Don't expect to see Ryan, Speed, or Horatio for a while.” The owners or managers of the soapmaking, candlemaking, pottery, and candy buildings are gathered behind him.

 

“Nope, they'll be needed in Miami until the power is restored. I don't doubt every policeman has been called out to keep the peace and stop the looting you see on the news. Even in Marley they'll be calling in all off-duty officers.”

 

“Yeah, and National Guard troops will be heading out to the affected areas as soon as they can fill the trucks.” The head of the candlemaking building has a son and daughter in the National Guard reserves so she knows what she's talking about.

 

The buildings are quiet later that day as everybody continues to work and those who live in town head home at closing time. They walk into the main house and after grabbing mail head to the cafeteria.

 

“Needless to say, all scheduled sessions are canceled until we find out one way or another if we're in the fried zone.” Rupert says dryly. Snickering from the various tables. He gives them looks but everybody knows he's not upset.

 

“Jessy found a store in Miami that only sells puzzles, right now they're in a room but we hope to have them set up with a similar buying option as the book and DVD closets. Catalogs have been scanned into the server and we can order them through the store.”

 

“It's that new store by Hank's shop.” she tells Xander, Larry, and Andrew.

 

“I'd wondered what was going in there. I'll have to check it out.” Is said nearly in unison. “Once things have settled down.”

 

“You might miss the last trip to the mall this year.” Joyce says, her lips twitching. Jessy's response is rude to the nth degree and has everybody laughing.

 

The next morning finds no new information and Jessy sighs and shrugs as she walks into the second seamstress building, turning on the satellite radio for noise so it doesn't feel like she's the only person in the world. For all that the others are right next door.

 

“Any news?” Rupert asks Larry as Arthur and Buster walk down the hall with the cart of food that's going out to the seamstress shop and Xander's workbuilding for their lunches.

 

“No restoration update at this time.”

 

“There won't be.” Scott says as he walks into the building. “I just took a line checker and shimmied up a pole by the guardhouse. The lines are fried. . .I didn't even need the meter, I could see the lines were fried.”

 

“Oh dear lord.” Rupert sighs.

 

Faith moans as Arthur repeats that when he brings their lunches to the seamstress building, Jessy's audible cursing as she walks through the linking door has her smirking. “The experts told that fool Bush that this would happen. Thank god the local grid should be up and running in a few months to replace it.”

 

If we didn't lose any substations and power plants.” Jessy snorts. “And if the new wiring didn't get fried too.”

 

“Oh dear god, I just saw a truck of boxes being delivered to Disney world. For all the buildings and the rides.” Jubilee moans.

 

“How would they do all that?” Buster asks.

 

“One master, the rest slave boxes, that's how we'd do it here if we didn't already have the alternate power. At the end of the billing period the slave boxes would send their usage to the main box and one bill would be generated with all the boxes listed. If their power plants weren't destroyed in this. . .” Jessy waves a hand, the others nod. “I rather see them waiting until their power grid is up and running.”

 

“Or relying on generators. But that would be one hell of a natural gas or propane bill.”

 

“Okay, as everybody no doubt knows by now, Scott says the lines leading to the House are fried. I talked to Mayor Watson and he moaned at the news. We're waiting on the official news but. . .”

 

“Another week or two and the boxes will start to be released.”

 

“Yes, the National Guard should start delivering supplies in a day or two.”

 

A couple days later a National Guard truck comes up to the gate, looking over some records and then getting waved through the gate, taking the road to the area used for deliveries and bringing the boxes off the truck.

 

“Okay everybody, we know the drill, open boxes and move them to wherever they go.” Xander says. “Is there any official word about when they're going to have to admit the power lines are fried?”

 

“Nope,. This administration is just as close-lipped about the other one. The only difference is they know the power grid is failing and is expediting the new local grids. Instead of doing everything they can to stop them.” Larry snorts. “It should be about a month before they admit the power isn't coming back on and start delivering the boxes. Because other places are going on fall and its going to start getting damn cold at night. Commerce is going to take a massive hit if snowbirds don't flock to Florida.”

 

“Not to mention all the damn Black Friday and Christmas shopping.” Jessy snorts as she opens a box and calls out what it is. Rupert looks at the list of what they'd gotten and tells them how many they should have got. Everything's counted and a second box is found and moved away.

 

“Are we taking you away from the garment?” Joyce asks.

 

“I'm at a stage where I need that stuff I talked to Faith about and according to the shipping record it's been delayed in a sorting center that's not got power. Everything's being moved to other sorting centers but it's delayed it by about a week. I called Fred when the power went out so some fool doesn't try suing me for not getting it done in a timely manner. He said he'd gut anybody who did. . .this falls under the unforeseen events clause in any contract.” the house's lawyers all nod.

 

“Dr. Giles, I'm sorry to bother you. I'm sure you're just as busy as I am with the power outage.” Mayor Watson sighs as he settles in a chair across from him.

 

“There's always something.” Rupert chuckles. “Coffee?”

 

“Please no, I've been living on coffee since the power went out.”

 

“Are they any closer to admitting that the power isn't coming on than they were when it went out?”

 

“Not that I've heard, by now some of the areas that lost power should have got it back if it was just a surge caused by so many lines going out.” He looks at Rupert. “Are you sure the lines leading to your building are fried?”

 

“Mr. Lang is an electrical engineer and climbed the pole the day after the outage, he could see the lines were fried.” Mayor Watson sighs but nods. He's not doubting the man's word, he's just hoping for a miracle.

 

“Yeah, so did a couple of the engineers in town. I. . .”

 

“was hoping that somewhere close had power and we weren't sitting in the bullseye.”

 

“Yeah.” Mayor Watson sighs.

 

Arthur leans against the wall outside Rupert's office. “No Kate, I'm glad your school has power, we're doing very well with the solar panels and generators. Mona would tell you the same thing. You get settled in for your last year of school. You need power, you're going to be seeing furnaces coming on soon. Here we can just add an extra blanket to the bed.”

 

“Oh hell, all the growers and their fans.” Mayor Watson moans.

 

“No doubt run by generators or they will have found other sources of warmth before they are needed.”

 

“Yes, and they can't complain about something we did causing it with so much of the country without power. How long do you think it will be until the government throws up its hands and says the power's not coming back on?”

 

“Another few weeks at the earliest, even then it will be at least another month before the boxes arrive. Bigger cities and those areas that get snow will be seeing them first. . .all for the fact that Florida is snowbird central and the governor is already demanding the power come back on NOW. Because he said so.”

 

“The man's a menace.” Mayor Watson snorts. “Are you okay out here?”

 

“Yes, the National Guard brought out supplies yesterday but we've been getting in extras since the power problems started. On top of what we order for hurricanes.”

 

“Dear god don't let one hit while we're out of power.” Mayor Watson mutters. “So much preparation depends on having a steady source of power before the hurricane hits.” Thanking Dr. Giles for his time he heads back into Marley and walks into Town Hall.

 

“Everything's quiet here boss, we're just waiting until the feds decide to finally admit that yes, the power isn't coming back on and start sending out the boxes. School's starting in two weeks and will stay open to allow everybody who doesn't have a generator to get water, recharge batteries, and charge their cell phones and other devices.” Mayor Watson nods. “Every business that can shut down to save their generators are. The stores hope to start getting shipments again once the power is restored.”

 

Jessy sighs as the package of ugly ass crystals arrive and she looks at the container, the outfit and hand waves the crystals onto the dress. There, she's still going to make him pay through the nose for it though. In the doorway Faith sniggers. “Did that fool CPA go off with a foot on his ass?”

 

“Yes, he didn't know it was his own firm that did all our accounting. He just saw the shops making oodles and gobs of money and we couldn't possibly be reporting all that income.” Jessy sighs. “He's one of those little twits who think they're going to make a name for themselves once they get out of school by hunting down scofflaws and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes. Moron's wailing because all the people he's swooping down on and demanding accountings already are paying their fair share of taxes. He's heartbroken, he can't find a big bust to make him somebody.”

 

“The damn government won't be happy until all your pay goes to them and they give you a weekly allowance.” Jubilee snorts behind them. “Jessy, Max is here with a special order for us. It's not something we normally make. . .”

 

“but it's Max.” Jessy comes out and holds up a finger then walks to the bathroom. Max laughs and leans against the counter. “How are you all doing with the power out? Any word on when it's coming back?”

 

“It won't, Scott climbed the pole outside the guardhouse with a meter. . .but he didn't need it to see that the lines are fried.” Faith says. Max moans. “Oh hell, I was hoping.”

 

“Yep, we all were. The engineers in town told Mayor Watson the same thing, thankfully with the generators and solar panels everybody's getting along well. Even if our beloved governor. . .” Faith sneers. Max laughs. “Hey, I didn't vote for the fool, is demanding the power come back on this very second because he's looking at all the losses of tourism dollars. I see snowbirds coming if they own houses, trailers, or have apartments out here to get away from winter if they can but. . .”

 

“The Black Friday and Christmas shoppers will be heartbroken. We'll probably be last on the list to get the boxes since this area isn't big in tourism and we don't have real winters.” Jessy makes a rude sound as she comes out of the bathroom and Max snickers. “Jessy and the others make one last trip to a mall in early December and flatly refuse to enter one until after the first of the year.”

 

“I can't blame them there.” They talk over everything and Jessy makes notes on the order. The other man puts down a deposit and Jessy whistles and waves for the boys who are lurking around pretending they're not lurking and they start emptying the back of the van, putting the fabric and other notions in the empty storeroom.

 

“Thank you for letting me vent and finding me people who can make my uniforms.” He says as the van drives off. Max waving to the others. “I would never have heard about these people, it's too big a job for just one person and . . .”

 

“None of the bigger outfits would touch it.” He snorts. “Figures, they get big orders and they get small ones. . .neither by itself would keep them in business forever but together. . .” He waves a hand. “I'm glad the area's doing well despite the power being out.” People had been out directing traffic in town once they'd got off the interstate and everybody had waved when they recognized Max.

 

“Do we need to cut out plastic?”

 

“No,” Jessy says, looking in the box. “They already are and sorted into envelopes by size and pattern.” Faith nods in satisfaction as she looks at the list. “A few good Sundays should see this done.”

 

“Yep. Now, need me to bring in supplies for the bags?” She can see they're running low on everything.

 

“Please.”

 

Jessy stacks the boxes on the wall, grabbing boxes and starting to lay out fabric, putting together layers and pinning them together. Jubilee grabs a stack and starts working on them, Paige opening boxes of zippers and the handle pieces and starting to work. Neither shift limit themselves to just one item, sewing bags during the day shift and working on outfits in the afternoon.

 

“Sunday, we'll fill the containers?”

 

“Yeah, might as well.”

 

“Do we have enough pattern pieces for all of them?”

 

“No, we'll have to use the pattern when we lay it out then put it back for the next person.”

 

“Any special finishing?” Illyana asks.

 

“No, not that I see.” Jessy looks at the list, the patterns, then pulls her big girl pants on and lays out everything for one. Faith nods in satisfaction. “Have you heard from your brother since the power went out here?”

 

“Yes, he's willing to send me money but I told him the House is still operating thanks to the solar panels and generators and I'm still able to work. I expect his next letter will have a bank check. What can I do?” she chuckles.

 

“Love him, that's all you can do. He worries since you're his only remaining relation, just like Sam worries about me and Jay even though he sees us every day.” Paige chuckles. “Jessy, any idea when they're coming out for the bags?”

 

“Two weeks. I got a call from them yesterday and they were very happy to hear we can still work on them even with the whole fucking state being without power. They're bringing out all the pieces that were made up before the power went off, work on everything until we run out and hopefully by then the boxes will be going out.”

 

Nods from everybody as Betty finishes an outfit and holds it up before sliding it on the hanger and taking it to the other room with the container.

 

“We're going to have to do a finishing week.”

 

“Yeah, I was going to say something, the racks are getting full.”

 

Jessy pokes her head in the room and nods. “Okay, no starting anything new unless you can finish it by Friday.” Looking over the instructions for the first outfit she cuts the fabric, lays out the patterns, and starts to work.

 

Rupert shakes his head but laughs at the news that they have another order that will be done within a few weeks.

 

Jessy shrugs. “It's helping out a friend of Max's. What's the latest on the lines?”

 

“The government is holding silent about the boxes, rumor is it they're waiting for some hotshot expert to come in.” Larry snorts.

 

“What? Is he going to wriggle his nose and magic them back to pre-fried state?” Faith snorts.

 

“Probably. Lord knows they don't want to listen to the people actually going up the damn poles and seeing, yes. . .they're fried.” Andrew snorts as he comes back from work at Stark. “Probably the guy will come in, look at the pictures, look at them, say 'yes, they're fried. . .why didn't you listen to the people telling you that' and leave. . .that's usually what the so-called experts they call in do.”

 

“And the taxpayers lose more and more trust in the government. And they can't understand why?” Jessy says sourly.

 

 

Chapter 3 by josette grover

 

Jessy's pointed to the closet.

 

“and of course this will be another disbursement as people jockey position to sweep up everything that's left after this power outage.” Jessy says sourly. 'Though I shouldn't say anything, Amanda is doing the same thing with the bearer bonds.' She thinks. Almost as if he'd heard her Rupert nods.

 

“Are more businesses closing?”

 

“Yeah, either they're running out of stock or it's just not worth it to keep the generator running.” Xander says. The others nod.

 

“Jessy, were you able to get your pills for next month?”

 

“No, the drugstore is one of them closed since they can't get in new stock. The National Guard has a list of people who need medications, their doctors, and will be bringing them out as needed. And trying to make arrangements for people who need medical treatments like chemo and dialysis. If it wasn't for the National Guard already having the records, I'd just replicate them until the power came back on.” Rupert nods in satisfaction.

 

“Any word on the power plants and substations?”

 

“The list of destroyed ones grow every day, thankfully our power plant is good and other one going up wasn't hooked up yet. But the rest? Slag along with every damn substation they've examined so far. If it was attached to the grid. . .it fried.” Larry says. Scott nods. “Including our grid since it was being tested when the surge went through and it fried too.”

 

“Fuck.” Jessy moans.

 

“Yes, the safety precautions were supposed to keep that from happening but since those precautions along with the plant itself is fried. . .” Scott shrugs.

 

“I fucking hope that the boxes arrive before the babies do so the service in Marley can deliver diapers.”

 

“And I'll need to start getting in supplies of formula.” Jessy moans. “I can take a week and run out to New York and hit various stores.” Rupert and Joyce nod. “If the boxes don't arrive by November you can start doing that.”

 

“Because even if the boxes are here by then, it will take weeks longer to get shelves full again in the stores.” Phillip says.

 

“Yep. Which the morons will wail about, another year that Christmas shopping was ruined.” Xander snorts. The others nod. “Has anybody heard if they started hiring people to take down the ruined line and tote it off?”

 

“No, but they'd have to start soon, no use just leaving it up there to rot.” Andrew snorts. “No wait, that would make sense. Nevermind, we're talking about the government after all.” the others snigger.

 

“Did you get the box you were expecting?” Rupert asks as everybody starts heading to the cafeteria.

 

“Yeah, and it was as damn gaudy as I was expecting. I just handwaved it on so didn't have to work on it for days at a time.” Rupert snickers despite himself.

 

The next day finds the Doctor in the cafeteria.

 

“How are you doing?”

 

“Good, we're in a waiting game on the power. . . the government will start delivering the boxes sometime.” The Doctor chuckles but nods. “Meanwhile we've got a lot of stuff in and can get some more stuff from areas of the country that have power but shipping is more and it takes longer to get here. Since we've got five pregnant women here we're getting in some baby supplies but we'll need more when the quads arrive. I figure I'll probably be heading to New York early November with a list of what the house needs. Because even with the boxes finally arriving, it will take weeks for stores to get full shelves again.”

 

“Even those stores with generators are getting low on supplies. Trucks are slow getting through since so much of the country is without power. I know Jack has said this is a time of change. . .thank gods losing the power isn't sending us back to the stone age.”

 

The Doctor pats her on the shoulder. “You'll get through this, everything's just coming at once. Now, the kids?”

 

“The school in town is staying open to allow people in town without generators to get water, charge batteries, and charge their cell phone or other devices. Classes start in a few days. Our kids are already in classes, even if they don't know they're taking them yet.” The Doctor chuckles again. “We're a little better off than the other areas, we're not seeing the city budget hemorrhage because tourism dried up. The governor wants the power on now, now, now, now, now but we didn't vote for the damn fool.”

 

“Hopefully they're also offering hot showers and a hot meal.” '

 

“Yeah, because the MRE's get old after a while and if you don't have power you can't keep lunch meat and stuff for cold meals cold in a refrigerator or cooler.” One of the cooks nods. “Even dry ice would evaporate eventually.”

 

“Clothes.”

 

“They've got them trucks with portable washing machines like you've seen in the Tide commercials that make the rounds of small towns, this lets people come out and wash their laundry. Just something as simple as clean clothes. . .” everybody nods. That's one of the first things everybody does when the all-clear for whatever weather event that gets them in their homes for days at a time, open doors or windows to get air, take down the shutters when they can, do laundry, and take the containers to the main building.

 

“At least we don't have to fill buckets to flush the toilet. And then only once a day to save water.” Everybody shudders.

 

Jack looks at the Doctor when he returns to Torchwood.

 

“How are they doing?” He asks as the boxes start to be brought out, Ianto sorting everything out before they go to different areas in the hub.

 

“Good, they have the alternate power and are just waiting for the government to pull their heads out of their collective bottoms and admit that the power is out and isn't coming back on. Then they have to send out millions of boxes. And then factories can start producing again and slowly lives will be getting back to normal. With Jessyca expecting quadruplets. . .” Everybody in earshot stop what they're doing and stare at him. “In chambers people, not her herself. The drugs she takes for her RA would be harmful to a baby. . .” Owen nods in satisfaction. “She's been freezing eggs for years. She's at a good time in her life to have a baby. The first egg split when it was implanted, the second one didn't. Rupert used two eggs and two chambers this time and they both split.”

 

“How are they on supplies? I doubt every store around them is low on stock and closing soon if they're not already closed.” Ianto asks.

 

“They've been getting in two or three times their usual orders, Rupert has been feeling that if they can't get it now. . .”

 

“they might not be able to get it. Yes. This is similar to the aftermath to a natural disaster. And they're in hurricane country.”

 

“Yes, the only difference between a hurricane and the power outage is there's no damage to buildings or the land.”

 

Rupert taps a number of people on the shoulder at dinner and tells them to go to the home theater room for a meeting after they eat.

 

“Anybody know what's going on?” Xander asks as he walks away.

 

“I have an idea.” Jessy says slowly. The others look at her. “Guys, you're getting old. While I was never part of the sex side like you, except for special fantasies. . .”

 

“We're too old. We're all in our forties. The people who would have asked for us have moved to other areas of the House too.” Xander sighs.

 

“We've got jobs, families, it's time we moved aside and let the younger kids take over.” Andrew says. Rupert nods as he walks across the room. “Lord knows there's no lack of positions here, we're moving up the ranks to middle management.”

 

“Just like Wesley, Joyce, and Jenny.” Jessy points her fork at Cordelia. “This is one reason why Rupert made us get degrees. Like you said, so you're not one of those poor people who have to sell their bodies.” Cordelia nods. “It's finally hitting us how old we are. We don't feel it. . .most of the time.”

 

A couple of days later the school is opened, the National Guard having brought in tables of supplies including clothes for people to walk through and fill bags. This way the students had clothes and supplies for the new school year. Marley had regretfully realized they wouldn't be able to have the labor day sale with no power and that area was now being used by the National Guard. Another batch of supplies had been delivered to the House, including a bag with Jessy's pills for the next month.

 

The supplies are put away along with the bags everybody had picked up from in town and they wander to the cafeteria. Nobody's hungry but with the power out all around them nobody can get settled on anything unless they have a job that has to be done.

 

Jessy and the others come in from the seamstress shops.

 

“How is everything coming?”

 

“Good, we're making good tracks on Max's friend's order, we just finished a massive finishing week on the other order since they were stacking up in the other room. The 'okay, this is everything we have in the way of supplies for the bags, please god they last until the factories start producing again' delivery showed up and the bags we made rushed off to be pressed into service. I have a feeling various parts of the government are going to start tearing into the main group if the government doesn't get off its ass and finally admit, yes the power is off. . .the boxes will start to be delivered shortly.”

 

“Yes, because the National Guard having to bring in supplies for everybody will be several thousand times more expensive than pulling on their big boy pants and actually handing out the damn boxes as soon as people realized the fucking lines were fried.” Xander snorts. His woodworking business is shut down until all the boxes start to be delivered so he's been working with Wesley and Larry doing whatever is needed at the house, either sorting out mail or helping with maintenance.

 

“Are any expos and sales still being held?”

 

“No, with so much of the country out of power the ones in the areas not affected shut down unless the were small local events and nobody was traveling cross-country to attend. The airlines have taken a major hit with so many airports closed and the government sticking their fingers in their ears saying la la la I can't hear you. Train and bus schedules had to be changed or dropped.” The others nod. “Now, the supplier I buy from in Vegas is open and I can put in an order if I need it.”

 

“But why can't the power come back on in the rest of the country?” A man whines in DC.


“Because the damn lines are fried, they can't carry electricity anymore.”

 

“But couldn't the people saying that be lying?”

 

“Why the hell would they be lying? They live in the damn area and are without power except for solar panels and generators. They wouldn't make money replacing all the lines, they're losing money hand over fist. And it's not just the lines that fried, so did every damn substation in the area and most of the power plants.”

 

“But my constituents. . .”

 

“Are in the same boat as everybody else until the damn brass pull their thumbs out and announce what we already knew, everything fucking fried and the power won't be coming back on and that the power boxes need to be released.” Somebody else snorts. “Your people aren't the only ones losing money, Florida is hemorrhaging thanks to tourism falling apart. Disneyworld is so far in the red it will be years before it breaks even again. Airlines are all declaring bankruptcy thanks to the power outage shutting down airports left and right. Train and busses aren't much better because they had to drop schedules or change them to go around areas that didn't have power. Stores and businesses are shutting down right and left, either because they can't refill their shelves or they've found out it's cheaper to shut down rather than have to continue buying gas to keep the generator running. Yes, the larger ones run on propane or natural gas but the bills would be too high.” Everybody around him nods “If you don't have solar panels or a generator. . .you're shit out of luck.”

 

“But can't they just buy them at the stores?”

 

“Moron, no store has any generators left within a couple days of the outage. And you have to order solar panels, you can't just buy them at your local Wal-mart. And no, stores can't just order more. . .there ain't none because the factories are closed because they don't have power.”

 

“Ohhhh.”

 

“Yeah, Ohhhhh. Things are going to get a helluva lot worse before they start getting better. And it's going to be years before everything recovers.”

 

In late October, nearly two months after the power outage Jessy arrives in New York in her ship.

 

“Ms. Michaels.” Mona gets out of her chair and hugs her. “How is Florida?”

 

“Absolutely dead. The National Guard is bringing in essential supplies but that doesn't include fabric, books, DVDS, stuff to keep people from going absolutely fucking bonkers.” Everybody around her who'd heard the words Ms. Michaels and come running nods. “I gotta start getting in baby supplies, the National Guard is bringing in some and thankfully the diaper service in town has a generator so they can wash the diapers in case the power is out after we deliver but. . .”

 

“You're going to need to stock up on some stuff.”

 

“Exactly. We all know how long it took the government to pull their thumbs out and bring out the boxes so you guys can have power for winter, I don't doubt it will take just as long for us. . .longer since on the coast we get better weather. Of course the dumbass governor is demanding the power come on immediately because his damn budget is bleeding from the throat. Thanks to tourism taking a massive dump with the power being out. . .”

 

“As are a lot of other industries.”

 

“Yep, and more are shutting down everyday. Pretty soon they're going to start complaining about being inconvenienced themselves and go 'ohhh yeah, the power can't come on. Maybe we should have released the boxes by now.”

 

“Yeah, especially when they wail about their precious budgets and realize they spent a helluva lot more on the National Guard bringing out supplies to everybody affected than they would have pulling their big boy pants on and sending out the damn boxes in the first place.”

 

“That won't matter to them, who cares about the deficit when they can puff up like peacocks and claim they're doing it for the taxpayers.”

 

“Not to mention they can dun the taxpayers for that money.” Another teacher snorts. “Anybody else would have done something by now, but not the government. How's Marley?”

 

“Dead, more businesses are shutting down because of the cost of keeping the generators going. The only one that keeps their generator going is the school because it's also used by people who don't have generators to fill water containers, charge batteries, and charge their cell phones or other devices.” Jessy sniggers suddenly. “The kids can't use all their computer stuff if they don't have electricity at home, some of them are actually forced to use paper and pencils.” Laughter and mock hisses from the others.

 

“Ma'am, may I help you?” an employee asks the woman who'd grabbed two flatbeds and was busy grabbing cases of baby stuff.

 

“Yeah, I live outside Miami and I'm expecting quadruplets by surrogates in a few months. Unfortunately while the National Guard is bringing out some baby stuff. . .”

 

“It's not enough.”

 

“No, and five other women where I work are also pregnant, one having twins too.” Jessy sighs. “Can I put in an order for more supplies? The place I work has a branch here so they can come pick it up and send it off.” The woman waves over a manager and Jessy puts her on the phone with Peter while she and the employee fill her list as best they can.

 

“I don't want to take everything and leave you short, I can hit warehouse stores too. I gotta hit other places too . ..the National Guard doesn't bring out stuff like books, DVDS. . .” the clerk and manager nod as the call ends. Jessy pays for everything and it's loaded into the back of the truck. She visits other stores over the next few days, looking at the lists the others had given her and marking off what she can. Two weeks later she starts delivering the boxes and bags in the main building of the House, dropping the lists of everything on the boxes before heading to the bathroom.

 

Rupert finds her sorting through the container of mail. “Did I miss anything while I was in New York?”

 

“Not really, the government is still absolute idiots and no closer to start sending out the boxes than they were.”

 

“Isn't DC without power too?” Jessy snorts.

 

“Oh, that's beside the point. They deserve the boxes, we don't.” Rupert snorts. “The morons are about to be lynched at the news they have the boxes but nobody else does. Animal shelters are shut down to save resources. . .all the animals being fostered or flown out to other areas.” Jessy nods, their local area had gotten a number of animals from other areas and there's a number of rescue groups in the surrounding areas.

 

“But I didn't know the power hadn't been restored by now.” More than one person wails in the government as the news they have the boxes but nowhere else does and a good chunk of the area without power actually has winter is announced on the news. Here it is nearly the end of November and there's been snow on the ground that's stayed for nearly a week.

 

“Why hasn't the power been restored? What are the companies doing?” A man wails in an office as he's raked over the coals by his boss for his not having released the boxes by now. After having been ordered to start releasing the boxes two months ago.

 

“MORON! The fucking power companies can't do anything, all the damn lines, all the damn substations, and most of the power plants were fried. The power won't come back on until the boxes start to be released.”

 

“I. . .I. . .I didn't think it was that bad. . .can't they just replace the lines? They do it all the time when a pole is knocked down.”

 

“IDIOT! We're talking millions of miles of line, in one case the new grid fried along with the old one. Even if they had all the line they need. . .which they don't since the plants that made the damn line are in the power outage area, the damn substations and most of the plants are fried too. The new lines are useless without those.”

 

“I. . . I didn't know it was so bad, the other outages weren't this bad .. .were they?” he says plaintively at the look of 'you fucking fool' on his boss's face. He's icily told that yes the other outages were just as bad and to get off his useless ass and authorize the release of the boxes so people can start getting electricity before they start finding people dying of exposure in their own homes.

 

“So that's it, nearly the end of November and the boxes are just getting released. I don't know if the government has boxes for everybody, for all that they're supposed to have them on hand I don't doubt Florida will be low man on the totem pole of the states and our area will be low man on the state's totem pole because we're not a tourism area.” Jessy says on the phone to the school after the announcement that the boxes were going to be released. “I'm sure the wailing about low black friday sales will start soon.”

 

“And the wailing of lackluster Christmas sales. . .the morons never stop to think that people are trying to stay warm, feed their children, everything but dropping everything to go shopping for stuff they can't fucking use right now. Now, changing the subject, how are your orders coming?”

 

“We finished the uniforms for Max's friend, he was stunned at the quality of work and promises he'll come to us when he needs more for his restaurant. The remaining supplies the government had on hand for the bags has been exhausted and we sent on everything we had. Some fool complained we weren't working on them, he was going to put in a complaint about us. I blistered his ass over the phone then he blubbered he didn't know there weren't any more supplies, shouldn't there be . . .ohhh yeah, with the power being out for nearly three months the factories weren't making the parts we needed so we couldn't pass them along to other places.”

 

In New York all the teachers are rolling their eyes or sighing. “That's idiots in the government for you. Trying to cause trouble for somebody else and ending up with egg on their face. Did you get the rest of the stuff that the National Guard wasn't delivering?”

 

“Yes, we've got enough baby supplies for six months before we need to get in more and the diaper service in Marley swears they can take care of us.” Jessy sighs. “Pray to god we can get to stores here in Florida by then. I'm fully expecting the boxes to start being delivered to Marley by Christmas at the earliest.”

 

In New York the others nod. They'd gotten the boxes right off thanks to the New York House but people around them had been without power another six weeks until they could get their own boxes. And they were near enough New York to be in that delivery area. New Jersey, New York's unloved stepbrother had had some people go into midwinter until they got their boxes.

 

“How are your Thanksgiving preparations coming?”

 

“Good., everybody's been cutting vegetables and making pies for the last couple days. Slicing bread for stuffing, the people who burn water doing dishes or taking the scraps out to the compost pile. After lunch all the veggie and other scraps that can be used in stocks will, they'll have the turkey bones for that stock.” Since they're all in the cafeteria they look at the cooks who nod. “After everybody's eaten themselves sick they'll start heading off the various rooms in the main building, I found a store in Miami that only sells puzzles and we've got a room set up for those. There's the home theater, the video game room, or people will just find a place to settle down and fall into a coma as they digest everything.” More snickering.

 

“The cooks have already started out putting out containers of Christmas cookies. Arthur will be heading off to his former foster mother's home to have Christmas with his sister, she's in her last year of pre-law and is tentatively pre-approved for law school.” The others smile. “With the power back on Xander's woodworking business should start getting orders again. Willow and Amanda will go out to Vegas after the first of December, they'll take Amtrak since the airport is closed. Hopefully it will be open in time for her uncle, grandmother, and great-aunt to come out after she delivers.”

 

“Betty is the only other one who has family to visit over Christmas, her friend is finishing her degree but still working at the factory. Her mother is still wailing in prison that she's got to send her money, it's

Betty's fault the accident happened, wwweeeeellllllll yes, Betty did have the right of way but she had the better car. Betty should have got out of her way. She doesn't deserve all that money she's getting from her, why won't they make her send it back, she can put that money on her books for the commissary. She's got to work for everything she wants now.”

 

“Idiot.”

 

“Oh yes, thankfully her father was able to prove he didn't have anything to do with keeping Betty behind bars for two weeks, that was all her and her 'friends' in the police department. He was able to get out of prison for violating his probation, her friend grew up sheltered and wasn't ready to have to live on her own. She's growing up since then, working full-time and getting a degree two or three classes a semester. . .” all the teachers nod.

 

“What the HELL do you mean there's not enough boxes for everybody?” a man bellows in DC a few days after Thanksgiving.

 

“The power outage is so much bigger than we'd been expecting.” The man who'd delayed having the boxes sent out in the first place blubbers. “I'd been expecting the power companies to be able to fix the lines on their own Are you su. . .” his voice trails off as everybody in earshot tells him they're sure he's both a damn idiot and the power companies won't be able to have power back on any time within the next several years.

 

“Why the hell have factories not been making the boxes?” Somebody who thinks he's all that asks angrily.

 

“We haven't been able to duplicate the workings that allow it to access the power facility.” One of the engineers says calmly. “I have repeatedly told people that we could not possibly replicate the boxes.”

 

Many voices raising in complaint but they're shouted down by people who say they've read the reports.

 

“Why would they make the boxes so people can't duplicate them?” A man wails.

 

“So somebody can't just build one and use it to get electricity without paying for it. Moron. That's why we can't turn a power box on after it's been shut off for nonpayment.”

 

“What are we supposed to do now?”

 

“Put our hats in our hands and contact the people with the facility and ask if they have extra boxes.” The president sighs. “Before we start seeing deaths from the cold.”

 

“Would people actually die without power?” Dumbass who'd decided they didn't need the boxes released wails.

 

“Yes moron, unless you had a generator to begin with you don't have any water. And furnaces can't come on without electricity.”

 

“Okay, how are we going to handle this? Do the boxes have serial numbers?” Jessy asks after they get the call.

 

“No, account numbers would be selected when the boxes either left the sorting area if they're purchased by individual consumers or by the National Guard when they're delivered. There's nothing on the box itself to say this is the second time they've been delivered. I'll deliver them to the staging areas later today and accept payment from the government.”

 

A few days later the trucks start heading off again full of boxes. As usual, there are some complaints that apartment buildings can't get more than one if there's only one meter to begin with. Wails of 'but I can't tell how much electricity my renters are using without individual boxes' is met with snorts of 'well, you couldn't before, could you?' and the morons skulk off with the one box they're alloted for that building. Multiple building apartment complexes get one main box and however many slaves they need.

 

It's nearly the end of December and the governor of Florida is having screaming fits since the boxes haven't been brought out to his state yet. He gets on the phone to the president and bellows about his precious budget being destroyed because of a lack of tourism and vents for a few hours. The president hangs up on the fool and sighs.

 

“Why hasn't the boxes started going out to Florida?”

 

“The expert decided that the other states should come first since they have actual winters. The others complained but were overruled.”

 

“I want that asshole in my office as soon as possible.”

 

He prances into the oval office an hour later expecting to be praised for all his hard work and is stunned when the president starts calling him a damn fool for not sending out the boxes to every state at the same time.

 

“But they don't need the power boxes right away, do they?”

 

“Yes moron they do, they've been without power just as long as everybody else.”

 

“But they don't get a real winter. All they gotta do is put a blanket on their beds and wear long sleeves.” He says in a see, I told you I know best tone of voice. Then wails as he's actually arrested for putting everybody in the state at harm for not sending the boxes out right away. “Dear god moron, it's Christmas in a couple days.

 

“But how could people have died without power, they don't get winter.” He yells..

 

“Car accidents caused by a lack of lights, people needing medical attention but there's no hospitals open anywhere, people dying from a lack of water because they don't have generators and can't get water anywhere else. People dying from food going bad because they can't keep it cold. . .” the ways people can die even in Florida without power keeps growing and he whines. The others had told him this but he'd told them they were damn fools, nothing could happen if the state doesn't get the boxes until he decides they should get the boxes.

 

“Thank god it's not the middle of summer or they'd be dying of heatstroke because without power there's no fans or air conditioning.” One of the guards snorts as he's dragged off and he wails.

 

“Christmas in two days and the power is still out.” Larry snorts. “Is there any news on the boxes?”

 

“Yes, I just got off the phone with the people overseeing the release, the fool in charge didn't want us to get the boxes until last, we don't get a real winter so we don't need power like everybody else, we can just put a blanket on our beds and pull on long sleeves.” Rupert sneers. Mayor Watson who'd been walking into the office moans.

 

“Oh dear god, tell me you're joking. . .please?”

 

“No, the fool governor went off on the president for hours demanding to know why we hadn't gotten the boxes yet. . .his precious budget was destroyed since it relied so much on tourism. The president called the people overseeing the release and was told the fool overruled the boxes all going out at the same time.”

 

“Nearly four months without power now, every damn business in the state closed, and he didn't think we needed the power boxes? Massive unemployment, soup kitchens on every corner to feed people and THE GODDAMN FOOL DIDN'T THINK WE NEEDED THE POWER BOXES LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE?” The last sentence is bellowed before he falls into a seat. Larry pours him a cup of coffee and adds a shot from the flask in Rupert's desk.

 

“Thank you.” He pulls out his cell phone and calls Town Hall, telling everybody there the news. The sound of screaming and cursing can be heard even through the cell phone. The news quickly makes the rounds of the main building and everybody starts swearing.

 

“Jessy?”

 

“Yes, I'll go out to New York again and stock up on stuff, there's no damn way stores will be open here until April or May now.” The others in earshot nod. Sighing, she dials a familiar number.

 

“Davison school of textiles design, please call. . .”

 

“Mona, it's Jessy Michaels. I know you're busy with Christmas preparations so a quick heads up. Some damn fool in the government didn't think Florida needed the boxes since we don't get a real winter.” A click and a loud moan means she's being put on speaker.

 

“Nobody in Florida has the boxes yet?” Mona moans again. The others come running.

 

“No,” Ms. Michaels says in disgust on the phone. “We don't get a real winter, all we have to do is put a blanket on the bed and pull on long sleeves, we don't need the boxes. Moron didn't realize people were dying from a lack of health care with all the hospitals closed, they were dying from bad food since they couldn't keep it cold, they were dying from a lack of water. . .”

 

“Car accidents thanks to lights being out, people can't direct traffic in the dark.”

 

“Exactly. This close to Christmas the boxes won't be going out, people want to be with their families and the trucks will needed to be loaded with the boxes anyway. That will take a few days even if people who don't celebrate Christmas or need the money work over the holiday.” Nods from everybody in earshot. “But this means stores won't be opening until April now. So short story long. . .” everybody sniggers. “I'm coming back out around the first of the year to get more supplies.”

 

“How are you on supplies for the seamstress shop?”

 

Jessy sighs, they can hear it over the phone. “I just put in an order with the supplier for the seamstress shops, the fabric warehouse did the same thing. They're one of the few businesses in the state with the box but shut down since with the power outage going on so long. . .”

 

“There's no customers. Yes, Janice said her school is shut down and with the power being out so long, I doubt any schools are reopening this year unless they've been on generator all this time. And even then that's going to be expensive as all hell.”

 

Jessy nods even though the others can't see it. “Yeah, the school in town is only open since the National Guard has turned it into a secondary command center allowing people to come in and charge their batteries, their phones or other devices, and getting water. This way they don't have to deliver so much water around town.” Overhearing her Mayor Watson nods. “And people can duck in and get a hot shower and a hot meal.”

 

The news is repeated at dinner that night and everybody curses the stupidity of that fucking fool.

 

“He'll be beaten to death even in federal prison if some of the cons have family members who were hurt by all this nonsense.” Phillip says. Rupert nods. “The cons will beat him to death when he starts pissing them off even if they didn't have family affected by the outage. Because they don't like assholes trying to push their weight around.”

 

The others nod.

 

Christmas is quiet at the House, Willow and Betty getting calls from the others telling them what was going on. Everybody with them had cursed fluently at the stupidity of that man and their own celebrations were quiet.

 

Idiot wails in the jail cell he'd been dumped into in a federal building. The sound of the cell door slamming seems to be echoing through the room, along with all the charges against him. . .including the list of deaths since the power went out that could be put directly on the doorstep of the power outage, including deaths in traffic accidents at night caused by no lights, deaths from illnesses due to no health care since all the hospitals were shut down thanks to the power outage, and deaths from lack of water and bad food.

 

He'd wailed in the courtroom that since Florida didn't have a real winter he'd thought nobody would be bothered by a lack of power, The board of judges had given him disgusted looks and even his own lawyer had called him a fucking fool.

 

Jessy leans in the doorway of the New York school's office.

 

“Ms. Michaels.” Mona grins.

 

“Hello, I know everybody's in the middle of getting ready for the new semester starting next week so I won't bother anybody. Like I said earlier, I'm back getting in stuff that the National Guard doesn't bring out.” The others who'd come running when they heard her voice nod. “Do you have a truck?”

 

“Yeah, need me to take stuff out to Janice?”

 

“Please.”


Two weeks later Jessy arrives back at the House, boxes and bags appearing in the middle of the room the supplies normally are put in until they're sorted out. Looking in her ship she moves the stuff for Janice to a truck and starts sorting through her mail.

 

“Are boxes arriving yet?”

 

“In the big cities, not rural areas yet. Miami is supposed to be getting their boxes this week. Prisons, hospitals, police stations, health care offices. . .” Jessy nods. This was how it was done in the other outages. Homes and businesses would be in the second wave.

 

“They're going to need several trucks, and several days to get all the boxes handed out.” Jessy says. Rupert nods.

 

Scott walks into the building and nods as he sees Jessy sorting mail. “Jessy, the supplies in the truck?”

 

“Stuff the New York school sent out for Janice, I'm going to call after breakfast to see where and when she wants me to deliver it. What's the latest on the National Guard bringing out supplies?”

 

“Due to come out tomorrow, people are complaining that if they can bring out supplies. . .”

 

“Why can't they bring out the boxes? I'd be complaining too.”

 

“Especially since they don't know if they're going to be able to get boxes to our area by February now.”

 

Rupert stares at him while Jessy curses.

 

“One of my friends from prison, he contacted me because he knows I live out this way. They can't explain why they can't get the boxes out in a timely manner. . .especially when they can send out trucks with supplies easily enough, but can't send out trucks filled with the boxes just as easily.”

 

“Oh dear god, the governor's going to be screaming again.” After breakfast Jessy makes the call and heads off with the truck, Janice and a security guard at the school meeting her. The school had sent a list of what they were sending to Janice and she marks it off as everything is unloaded. The news that the boxes being delayed makes him moan and Janice swear.

 

“What the goddamn fucking hell do you mean you can't get the boxes out to rural areas in a timely manner?” The president BELLOWS a few days later.

 

“But we can get them supplies. . .and there's medical help now that hospitals have the boxes. . .isn't it enough?” A man blubbers.

 

“No fool, it's not enough.” The president sneers. “They deserve the boxes just as much as every other person who already got the boxes. You can get the boxes out to the big cities but you can't get them out to rural areas?”

 

“But we'd have to do a lot of driving to get the boxes to everybody in rural areas.” he whines.

 

“And you don't already to all that driving to get the supplies to people? You can deliver supplies but you can't bring out a box and set up an account for them?” He snorts.

 

The man moans, when it's put that way. . .

 

At the end of January the trucks of boxes arrive in Miami and people gratefully line up at the tables and sign up for the boxes, creating accounts and heading home. More than one person crosses their fingers after flipping the switch on the box but flip on a light switch and sigh in relief when the light comes on. The homes that have been running generators for months shut them down and sigh.

 

A truck pulls up in front of the Town Hall in mid February, laying on the horn. Sammy Jo comes out and the National Guardsman grins at her. “I've got the first batch of your boxes.”

 

“Oh thank god.” Sammy Jo rushes into the building and people come rushing out, heading to nearby streets and letting people know the boxes have arrived.

 

“Do we have enough boxes?”

 

“We have fifteen hundred boxes in this truck, we are expecting a second truck in an hour. There's 2,500 addresses on file that we deliver supplies to and the second truck will be delivering to the outlying areas. It will be a few days but everybody in the area will soon have their power back.”

 

A tent goes up, tables being laid out and people start lining up. Like they'd said, it takes a few days but everybody has their power back on and they sigh in relief. A guardsman has been marking off the businesses and homes in the area as they get the boxes and he nods that everybody has boxes.

 

“How much longer will we be getting supplies?”

 

“Another two months, it will take that long for stores to get their shelves filled. Factories are opening back up again and producing product. A good seventy percent of the state has the boxes now, it will be a few more weeks to get every building a box.”

 

A woman hustles from the nearby church with a bundle that goes in the back of the car, she pops the trunk and heads back inside. “The babies are starting to arrive out at Dr. Giles.” She says at Mayor Watson's look. Filling the back of her car with packages of diapers she fills the floor with pails and heads off. No use making multiple trips out, if one is delivering the others should shortly.

 

He laughs. “At least they waited until we got the boxes.”

 

“And Gregory House won't have to deliver them.” Another man chuckles.

 

“Oh dear god, that would be horrible.” Mayor Watson moans. “A doctor who is a very sarcastic, very biting wit man. He is an excellent doctor, you get better quickly just to get the hell away from him.” He tells the National Guardsman.

 

“That other doctor out there is just as bad.” The other man snorts.

 

Meanwhile at the House Larry puts down the phone as Xander grabs the rug cleaner to get the spot where Harmony's water had broken in the hallway. It's not a commercial cleaner but maintenance will come out later tonight and clean the whole hallway.

 

“Funny it's Harmony going first.”

 

“Not really, she's expecting twins and multiple births deliver early. Usually a couple weeks before a single birth, that's why the babies are smaller.”

 

“And Jessy's quads are different in that they'll stay in the chambers as long as necessary.” Methos says as he comes into the building. “Is Harmony's nursery ready?”

 

“Yes, and we have two nursery elves waiting for her to deliver. Jessy will have four more, one for each baby, the others will have another one since the other elves still have the other children to take care of.” Rupert says from the door of his office. Almost as if she'd heard him call her name Jessy walks into the building with the others from the seamstress shop with the supplies of diapers in their arms and the diaper pails hanging off their arms.

 

“Whose water broke?” Jubilee asks.

 

“Harmony.”

 

Four sets of diapers and two pails head off to her apartment, the others going into a closet until they're needed. Jessy moans as she's pointed to the closet and pulls out the huge armful of mail.

 

“I'd wondered when they'd start 'distributions' again.” She says sourly. “I know the insurance companies are wailing and waving their hands about having to lay out any money from damages after the power's been out so long.” Rupert and Methos snort but nod.

 

“I'm glad the government announced they'd be cracking down on lawsuits dealing with the power outage, I'm sure there's some crooks out there who'd be demanding concessions from companies for breaking contracts otherwise.” Jessy snorts. “Like that stupid fucker who was going to put in a complaint about us not sending out any bags until the idiot realized there was no more parts to make the bags since the power had already been out for a couple months. He was looking for somebody to get into trouble, the only person who got in trouble was him.”

 

“There's always going to be miserable assholes.” Methos snorts. “Any word on the bags?”

 

“The factories have inspected their machinery and will start work next week. I'm going off tomorrow to see how the stores we normally purchase from in Miami are doing. Most of them have insurance that will pay them for any losses from long-term power outages.”

 

“Whatever happened to that fool who had ordered the special outfits?” Faith asks, walking past from where she'd been lounging in the pool.

 

“Ohhh, that fool had a fit that the power outage was caused by his enemies to steal his designs. His family about took his head off and he ended up in a psychiatric hospital for a few weeks getting his head shrunk back down to normal. Poor darling was so upset when he had to admit he wasn't all that, nobody wanted his fantastic designs, there weren't people spying on him from the bushes, the power outage wasn't a personal attack against him. . .” Snorts of disgust from everybody around her. “He's got to work a normal job, his doctors won't let him waste all that money on fantastic outfits unless he's going to make them himself.”

 

“So basically like that fool woman who brought all that fabric.”

 

“Yeah. Fred called me during the outage to tell me what was happening.”

 

“How are you doing on the outfits?”

 

“Good, I expect prom and graduation business to be light. . .” the others nod. “But that will allow us more time to work on the outfits before the bag supplies start showing up. I figure we'll be done early this year.”

 

“Jessy, take a truck tomorrow.” Rupert says.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Xander goes with her the next day and they pick up stuff from every store they walk into, the comic stores had been still ordering in stock even though the store wasn't open, knowing fans would be coming in when the power was restored. The puzzle store is visited and the clerk smiles as the shelves take a hit. The other store owners had told her she wouldn't have to worry when the power came back on and they hadn't been joking.

 

Jessy starts sorting bags out when Xander opens the back of the truck at the House.

 

“It's two girls, Brittany and Barbara Sue McNally.” Robert calls.

 

“Awww. Is Jesse up off the floor yet?” Xander laughs. He shouldn't, he'll be getting up off the floor too when Cordy delivers, but that will be from a left hook.

 

“Harmony's giving him disgusted looks from her bed. The babies are good weight, the doctors say they can come home in a couple days.”

 

“How did they handle births in the outage area?”

 

“They'll have to go to the courthouse and request a home birth certificate.” One of the house's lawyers sighs. “There's going to be miserable old fools blathering out there about how it's not proper until they get the stupidity slapped out of them.”

 

“Did they ever find out what caused the massive power outages beyond old age and poor maintenance?” Andrew asks as they walk into the building. “Are the stores open?”

 

“Yep. And all the comic book stores has months of back stock they're putting on the shelves.”

 

“I'll go out tomorrow then for myself and Jesse then.” he says.

 

“As for the outages. . . that's it exactly, the power grid is old, it was never meant to last this long or have this much use on it.” Scott says. “Poor maintenance created a surge and wham everything was fried.” Jessy grabs her mail and start sorting it out.

 

“And I'm sure the plant that was 'testing' the new grid is whimpering with relief that everything fried so nobody can say they did something wrong, which they probably did.” Nods from everybody.

 

“Anybody seen more businesses opening?”

 

“Miami's slowly coming back, it's going to be months. The governor is raging again, the snowbirds who would normally have come to the state stayed home. The kids who would normally be arriving for spring break haven't made their reservations. He's wailing about the damn budget and there's nobody he can grab by the shoulders and blame this whole situation on.” Everybody snorts. “the Miami city council is whining about their budget, having to pay everybody overtime for all the shifts they worked.”

 

“And they wouldn't be doing the same thing during a hurricane?” Joyce snorts.

 

“This lasted so much longer than a hurricane. But every other town or city that was hit by the outage is in the same boat. Florida is just screwed since so much of the budget comes from tourism.”

 

Nods from the others. “Thank god we're out of the major tourism area. Except for the fourth of july and labor day sale at the flea market.”'

 

“Repossession auctions?”

 

“I expect them to start in a few months since there's always going to be nasty sumbitches out there who ignore stuff like hurricanes, tornadoes, and what not and rush in to snatch up everything they want. Then whine when the bad publicity makes them look like vultures.”

 

A couple days later Harmony slowly walks into her apartment, the babies being put in their cribs.

 

“We's got water for you to soak.” One of the house elves says. Jenny helps Harmony undress and settle in the water, she moans as the heat relaxes muscles she didn't even know she had.

 

A rapping on the door has Jenny hurrying that way. She's grinning when she returns to the bathroom. “Jessy's quads were released from the chambers. Andrew is babbling in Klingon.”

“Names?”

 

“Brenda Joyce, Bethany Anne, Charles Alexander, and Carson Edward Travers. Jessy is sending out the announcements to everybody now. Now we just need to get the others delivered.”

 

“Won't be long, Kendra just said her water broke. Cordy's cussing up a blue streak.” Jesse's voice says from the other room.

 

“That just leaves Willow and Faith.” Jenny grins. Her phone beeps. “Awww, first pictures of the babies now that they've been cleaned up, examined, and got diapers and clothes on.” Harmony looks at the pictures and sighs. “They're adorable but I think my girls are cuter.”

 

“That's a mother's right.” Jessy's laughing voice says over the phone a few minutes later. “And you actually carried them for nine months.”

 

In New York Mona grins at the e-mail she gets and triggers the intercom.

 

“Attention everybody Brenda Joyce, Bethany Anne, Charles Alexander, and Carson Edward Travers have just made their entrance.”

 

“Awww.”

 

The following weekend Jessy chuckles as everybody starts arriving at her house and handing over bags and boxes before peeking in on the babies. More bags are dropped off to be given to the others. Cordy had delivered a little girl named Susanne Amanda Chase while Kendra had given birth to a girl named Sarah Emily Osborne. A rushing of people and Faith's loud cursing tells everybody that at least Faith's water has broken. Willow yelling has her being put in a golf cart too.

 

“Oh dear, god, that outfit Jessy.” One of the teachers complains as she looks through the pictures in her workroom.

 

“The one with the crystals? That's the last one the fool wanted before the power went out, he went on a rant that the power outage was a personal attack against him and he spent at a few weeks in a psychiatric hospital where he was very bluntly told nobody's laying in wait in the bushes to steal his designs.”

 

“Nobody would want the damn thing.” One of them shudders.

 

“Yeah, he's been told if he wants to create an outfit now he has to sew it himself.”

 

“Never going to happen.”

 

“Nope.”


“How has everything else been otherwise?”

 

“Good, we had the outfits for Max's friends so we still had work. The bags components are being made now and the woman we work with says we should get this first batch of supplies in June.”

 

“Are you figuring on a lot of prom outfits?”

 

“No, or graduation outfits. We were lucky in being able to keep working, most families weren't. Savings and unemployment would have run out even with extensions. But this gives us time to work on the other outfits.”

 

“Are you sure?” They ask when Jessy walks out the door with them.

 

“Oh yes, the others will keep an eye on the babies and I need to get out of the house for a while.” Larry, Andrew, and Kiara had walked in. “Kiara, shouldn't you be working on something for Stark that will make you oodles and gobs of money?”

 

“I need a break.” The others blink at the uppercrust English accent. “Before I go back to England and beat my grandmother to death with a cricket bat.”

 

“Ahhhh, she's still causing problems?”

 

“Oh dear gods yes, how could the authorities have found her guilty? Welll yesssss, she did try to sneak that marriage license in between me and an 80 year old man, but she deserves to live a life of luxury. No, she did not falsify the marriage license between her son and my mother. . .somebody wrote the date wrong. My mother wasn't dead for three days when the marriage happened thanks to one of my father's STDs she couldn't get treated for because she was pregnant with me. She's a member of the Royal Family, treating her like this is treason. She spent the best years of her life raising me, I was an ungrateful little bitch. Who cares if the man killed every wife he had and all his children, she wants to live a life of luxury.” Kiara pretends to stomp her feet and pout. “Unlike that old fool I can hold down a job, pay my own bills, and invest my money so I have something for the future.”

 

“And your father?” One of the teachers asks.

 

“Wrapped his car around a tree driving drunk. It was either that or die of one of his damn diseases.”

 

“You're a member of the Royal family?”

 

“Kiara's sixty-eighth in line to the throne.” The others snicker despite themselves.

 

“Yes, as I've told the others the whole continent would be lost before the Throne came to me. Since my mother was American I held dual citizenship. I got told about Rupert through the Embassy as somebody who would pay for my schooling. I came over and have been here ever since except for periodic trips back across the pond when somebody gets a wild hair up their arse and demands the entire family appear in front of the Queen.”

 

“Or be ousted from the family?”

 

“Oh nothing so crass as that. We'd get the cold shoulder and stiff upper lip for the rest of our lives unless we had a real good excuse, death or in serious ill health, giving birth . . .nothing so common as having to work. We're all supposed to give our formal support to the monarchy and all that crap. It looks good and keeps us from thinking we might have normal lives.”

 

“Talk to Wade lately?”

 

“Yeah, he and Vanessa are talking about having children.”

 

The teachers look around the main building as Jessy stuffs her mail in her shoulder bag and she takes them on a tour of the public areas of the House, ending in the cafeteria. They snigger as Jessy is pointed firmly at a seat and a tray filled and put in front of her.

 

“I didn't actually give birth you know.” She says dryly. The others snicker at the 'details' hand wave.

 

“Marley was so dead.” One of the teachers say when they return to the school.

 

“Yeah, it's going to be a long time before everything is reopened. Even Miami has a number of closed stores yet.”

 

“And no doubt ones that won't reopen.” The others nod. There's stores all over the country that didn't reopen because of the outage. And it wasn't all small stores either.

 

The news that Faith had a girl named Amanda Marie and Willow had a boy named Michael James Rosenberg is passed along to various people and after a couple weeks the babies start making appearances in the cafeteria.

 

“God damn old fool.” Jessy can be heard muttering not so under her breath as she and Andrew come in from a doctor's appointment. The others look at her. “That damn miserable old fool doctor who didn't like me giving the boys formula years ago, a nurse overheard him mumbling about calling protective services to have the kids taken away from me because I use formula and stopped him when he reached for a phone. The fucker's been told repeatedly to stop trying to shove his opinions down parents throats.”

 

“Damn Mommy gangs and those fools who nurse their kids until they're walking, talking, and about to start school.” Faith shudders.

 

“Yes, the little bastard is having a dozen and a half fits, he's going to put in a complaint against the nurse who stopped him, how dare she stop him?. Parents who don't breastfeed when he's told them to should have their children taken from them. I fully expect to get a call from child protective services because the little bastard will go around the office and call it in on his own time. I'll sue the fucking asshole if he does. Miserable old fool should have been put out to pasture years ago.”

 

“God damn you, you stupid sack of shit. We fucking told you not to call protective services because the parents won't kiss your worthless ass. You were stopped once, that didn't mean call in a complaint to the main office and call protective services on your own time. Thank God your butt buddy crony lost the right to investigate claims and the people who took over actually listened to the facts and know you're a miserable old fool.” His boss hisses as he's yanked into an office.

 

“But they need to be breast fed, everybody knows its better for the babies.” He howls.

 

“Bullcrap, generations of children were raised on formula, get the hell over yourself you old fool. Even when you were a new doctor not everybody breastfed.”

 

“Yes they did.” he yelps. How dare they tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about.

 

“Really, orphanages were able to breastfeed?” His boss drawls. “Nannies were able to breast feed?”

 

“Nooo, I guess not.” He sulks. “Hospitals didn't breastfeed babies when they were sick unless the mothers pumped.”

 

Damn it, how can they not be bowing, scraping, and doing everything he wants? Instead of getting the kids away from the parents and that uppity bitch NURSE not getting into trouble for stopping him he's got a formal reprimand in his file for both trying to call protective services and for calling in a complaint against her. His boss calls him a fucking fool for a long time after that and told him if he can't get over his demands every child be breastfed, he can find himself another job. He can't do that. . .how can he push his weight around anywhere else?

 

“Old fool should have been put out to pasture years ago.” A nurse snorts as the man slumps off, a far cry from how he'd strutted into the building earlier.

 

“Rumor is it he has to work, he's got a number of big complaints against him for his stupidity in demanding the world be run to suit him. Malpractice insurance won't cover him. Not for something like this. His own family hates him, his attitude sent them away years ago.”

 

Snorts from everybody in earshot. Figures. Nobody really likes the old fool at the office. He's always trying to get his own way over everything. From demanding everybody do his work to trying to get the best seats in the lunchroom, going as far as moving another employee's food if they had put their food down and got called away. He'd tried throwing it out once and got cussed out by the boss when he walked back in. He'd blubbered he hadn't known it was his food and got cussed at again for thinking he could throw out anybody's food and had got his first of many reprimands in his file.

 

Jessy walks into the main building after the girls would normally have ordered their prom dresses. She leans in Rupert's doorway. “Light, just like I figured. A hundred outfits. Everybody is in the same boat, with the power out so long nobody has extra money for prom dresses, some schools are canceling them entirely since they just don't have the money this year.” Rupert and Larry nod. “Graduation might be a little more outfits but thankfully we're not counting on them to stay in business.” They nod again. “This gives us more time to work on the other outfits, we'll have them done early this year.”

 

“Have you heard about the bags?”

 

“The first shipment should be coming out just as we would have been finishing the graduation outfits.” She grabs her mail and starts sorting through it as she drops into a chair in Rupert's office. “Has the National Guard announced yet when the last of the supplies would be coming out?”

 

“Next week.”

 

“Thought so, trucks were at the stores in town so they're getting stocked up on supplies again. The drugstore is open again.”

 

“Things are getting back to normal and some fool in the government will start whining about having to spend all this money to get supplies to the citizens.” Phillip snorts from the doorway. Everybody nods. “Expos?”

 

“Not until next year.” the others nod. “I'm going out over the fourth for the sale again, I'm sure Marley is glad to be having some money coming in from the flea market again.”

 

“Is the soapmakers ready for the fourth?”

 

“Yes, they've been making soap and I moved stuff in the PODS so they can put the extra in there when they run out of room. We're not expecting the massive sales they have been getting. . .” nods from the others. “Too many people getting back to work, trying to figure out how the hell they're going to pay off their mortgage or car payments, figure out day care for their kids since so many schools in the area didn't open.”

 

“Yeah, so many students are going to have their schooling extended another year.” Wesley sighs. “The homeschooling students will have an advantage. As will the students whose schools opened.”

 

“Why didn't they all open?” Arthur asks.

 

“More than one school, the school district didn't have the money to keep the generator running constantly. . .the only reason the school opened in Marley was because it was an established shelter and the National Guard was using it as a secondary command center. Generators aren't meant to be running for months at a time, the bills for fuel were enormous. Hell, just the smaller generators that run on gas, four months of gas would have been several hundred dollars if the National Guard hadn't been bringing it in because the gas stations either ran out or couldn't open.” The others nod. “Districts carefully budget their money, having to run the generator for so long . .it wasn't an easy decision. That's why you hear so many stories on the news about districts doing away with bussing or privatizing it to save money.”

 

“It was only the National Guard bringing in supplies before school started and bringing more out over the last few months to keep everything supplied that the teachers and students had everything they needed this school year.” Larry says from the front room.

 

“Instead of having a 'fill the bus' event to get in supplies.” Phillip nods.

 

“Is anybody hearing rumors of lawsuits?” Faith asks.

 

“Suing who? nobody can point a finger at one event that caused this or the other blackouts.” Jessy snorts. “If there was the government would be all over the news demanding repayment of everything they paid out. . .just like in the news when you see somebody being charged damages for a california fire.” More nods. “Not that I'm sure that old fool in the governor's office wouldn't be first in line to file the paperwork if it meant his precious budget recovering.” Sniggering.

 

“Yes, because unlike the government we don't focus on one area for the majority of our money.”

 

“Yep.”


“I just got my first 'are you open for orders' e-mail.” Xander says, poking his head in the door.

 

“Things are getting back to normal.” Larry says. Everybody nods and look at the time, heading to the classrooms and nursery in the main building to get the kids then heading to the cafeteria for dinner. Various conversations are going on at the tables. Jessy gets a call and steps outside, Rupert following her with his eyes as she leans against the wall and talks quietly, nodding at what's being said on the other end.

 

She whistles shrilly when she re-enters the cafeteria, the others looking at her.

 

“That was Max, he thought with the power being out so long that there wouldn't be that many graduation and prom outfits, he's coming out next week with friends to put in new orders.” The others nod. “Think twice as big as the other orders. . .each. Xander?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“He wants to talk to you about orders too.” He nods. Jessy looks over at people from the other stores. “Yes, you guys as well. Max says our stuff is going to be in some of them bags you see talked about at award shows. With so much of the country without power for so long they're looking for other places that can supply stuff for the bags. A small box of candy can easily slip into a bag.”

 

“and will bring us more orders.”

 

The pottery people look at her. “Yes, you too. You make plenty of small stuff that can be put in a bag. Or even gift certificates towards something bigger. So can the leatherworkers.” Nods from the others. “The cheesemakers might be the only ones not showing any immediate orders but since all the websites have links to the others.”

 

Jessy kisses all her children as they lay in bed, snickering softly as the boys make faces in their sleep. Letting the house elves look after them she walks into the cargo container Josette had delivered. Rupert moans behind her. “Were you just waiting until I opened this?”

 

“I was wondering what it was.” He looks at the neat rows of rolls and bolts of fabric and boxes of other supplies. “Jessyca Maree McDonald Travers?” He asks in a calm. . .to him anyway voice. Since she's sniggering, he knows it's not very calm.

 

“Where would I have ordered this, everything is closed. No, this is some more of what Josette passed along.” She tells him the stories and he moans at just how much stuff Josette would have picked up.
Because he has a good idea how big the ships are and how much they can hold. There's a small envelope taped to one box that says open me first and she grins. “Awww, Josette put everything on the replicator and since our replicators are hers are similar, I can add it to my replicator in case I ever run low.”

 

“You won't run low for several centuries, let alone decades.” Rupert says firmly. Jessy sniggers and nods. She slides the thumb drive into her computer and adds it to the replicator's database once they're back in the house.

 

 

“Are you fucking stupid? No, we're not taking your lawsuit against the woman whose children you tried to have taken away from her for not kissing your ass when you demanded she give the children breast milk instead of formula. Get the hell over it and yourself you miserable old fool.”

 

“But I got a complaint in my permanent record because of her.”

 

“Because you're a miserable old fool who tried calling a butt buddy in child protective services to get her children taken from her because you don't like her giving her children formula. Get the hell out of this office and don't bother her again.”

 

“But I got a complaint in my record now.”

 

“You deserve a helluva lot more than that. You keep pissing people off and they're going to kick your stupid head right off your shoulders.” The man skulks out of the office.

 

“What was his problem, from the way he was leaving I doubt you took his case.” Another lawyer asks/

 

“Old fool wanted me to sue the woman whose children he tried taking because she wouldn't go to a breast milk bank he suggested. Oh no, she actually feeds them formula. He tried calling one of his butt buddies in child protective services after he left the exam room and a nurse stopped him. The miserable bastard called at home but his cohort had lost the power to take kids and he's now got a permanent complaint in his record for both trying to get the kids taken from her and trying to file a complaint against the nurse who stopped him in the office.”

 

“Oh dear god, and I'm sure the kid is perfectly safe?”

 

“Oh yes, all four of them are doing very well on formula.”

 

“Four of them? Quads? They'd have to have gone on formula anyway, there's no way one woman can breast feed four babies at once.” He splutters. “For all that I heard one woman do it with six.”

 

“Yes, she has RA and used a surrogate with her eggs she had frozen and friends sperm. She had a pair of twin boys the first time, he tried going after her then but she ignored him. She had a little girl with the second surrogacy. This time she used two surrogates and both eggs split.”

 

“Moronic old fool, there's been generations of babies raised on formula and they turned out just fine. I hope that woman has a lot of family and friends to help her.”

 

“Are you fucking STUPID? Leave her the hell alone, there's no damn reason for you to be trying to sue her because you're a miserable excuse for a human being.” His boss at the doctor's office rages and he whines as he gets another complaint in his file.

 

“And leave her the hell alone you goddamn fool. You're no longer her pediatrician, she's already been transferred to another doctor here.”

 

“But aren't you going to make her find another office?” He's stunned they're keeping her as a patient instead of doing everything he wants.

 

“Fuck no and fuck you, she's more than welcome at this office. You however, are on such shaky ground I'd think very hard about retiring permanently.” He runs off wailing. “Goddamn idiot.”

 

“What did the old fool do this time?' One of the other heads of the office asks.

 

“Not only complained to the board over all the offices about getting a complaint in his file for the shit he pulled, he tried going to every lawyer he could to sue Ms. Travers for getting him in trouble for trying to get her kids taken from her.”

 

“Goddamn idiot, it's time we cut him loose.”

 

“I'm afraid so, the old fool was so damn stunned that we would continue to keep Ms Travers children as patients, we should have kissed his ass by telling her to find another office rather than making sure she got another pediatrician and that he couldn't bother her anymore.”

 

“Oh of course not, everybody should bow down and kiss his ass for existing.” The second man drawls. Then sighs. “I'll contact the board before the miserable fool goes whining to them again about getting another reprimand in his file.”

 

When the fool appears at the office again the next day a folder is slapped against his chest, filled with the paperwork terminating his employment. He wails long and loud as he's escorted from the office and told not to return.

 

“Why the hell did he go after that young woman?” One of the board members asks.

 

“She didn't bow and kiss his ass years ago with her first children, she didn't bow, scrape, and kiss his ass with the second child, and she went off on him when he demanded she use breast milk this time. All her children are healthy and happy and he's a miserable old bastard.” Another says. “He's pulled this shit multiple time before, that's why the old fool was still working and has worked a number of offices. I'm sure some small office somewhere will hire the fool and be stunned when he keeps pulling the same shit that got him terminated from every other practice.”

 

Max taps on the door of the seamstress building, grinning at Jessy who nods at the notebooks on the counter. She's busy talking on the phone and ends the call a few minutes later.

 

“Oh dear god, people are whining. How can we still be open when other seamstress buildings aren't? Wellllll yyyyeeeessssss, you do have ongoing orders. . .but other stores in the area aren't open yet, are they? It's not fair to them, is it? There aren't any other seamstress operations in your area, the closest would be Stanley or Miami? I thought there was one closer. . .wasn't she trying to sue you for profits? Oh, she was trying to make you hand over all your work so she could make profits off it. I didn't know that. I guess it's okay if you stayed open after all.”

 

“Idiots. They want to find a way to drag you down to be as miserable as they are.” One of the people with Max snorts.

 

“How's Faith?”

 

“Bored to tears with her maternity leave but. . .” Jessy shrugs. “She does say changing a girl is a lot easier than changing a boy, boys aim.” Everybody in earshot laughs.

 

“First child?” One of the newcomers asks.

 

“Second.” Max says.

 

“Third actually, Faith had a little girl as a teenager, she was pregnant when she arrived at the House after living on the streets after running away from her foster home when her foster father tried raping her. Rupert arranged an open adoption, she got letters monthly from the parents with pictures while she was growing up.”

 

“Oh dear god, what happened to him?”

 

“Wellllll, the social worker that put Faith in the home and called her a liar when she tracked her down on the streets got in a fucking lot of trouble when another girl he attacked cut him with a knife and he bled to death. She finally admitted she knew what kind of man he was but she kept funneling little girls to him. She lost her job, personally I think she should have gone to prison and got the hell beat out of her by women who were molested.” The others nod.

 

“Thank you for bringing us out to those businesses Max, they're just what we need.” One of the newcomers says. “All the businesses have something to add to the first tier bags, even the second or third.”

 

“They were the first people I thought of when you started talking about needing more businesses for the bags.”

 

Jessy drops three receipts on Larry's desk. “First batch of fabric, containers, and hangers. I put in an order for more order forms. Mark said that since things are still somewhat dead in Miami he'll put a rush on them and I can pick them up next week. Let me know if I'm picking up for more than the library while I'm there. I already talked to Scott about needing both trucks tomorrow.” Larry nods and starts a file folder, whistling at the fabric order.

 

“Oh yes, like I said last week, these are massive orders, double the size of the usual orders. And the other stores are looking at massive orders of their own. Oh Faith, Max didn't realize you had a baby before Brandon, expect a hug when you're back at the seamstress shop and he comes out.”

 

“Ahhh jeez, he hugs like a damn octopus, I always feel like I've been mauled when he releases me.” Faith snorts. Larry snickers behind them.

 

“That's called being a parent and being a friend. Oh Jessy, you'll find an open letter in your mail. That fool physician who had an absolute fit about you not feeding the children breast milk did try to call protective services.” Jessy growls. “But since his butt buddy has been removed from his position and cannot take children away anymore the complaint went to another caseworker who realized it wasn't a valid referral.” Snorts of disgust. “He got a reprimand in his record for calling on his own time and trying to put in a complaint about the nurse who stopped him from calling while you were in the office.”

 

“Fucking asshole.”

 

“Yes, he tried getting lawyers to take his case suing you for him getting a reprimand and no lawyer would take his case. He also complained to the board overseeing that group of offices about the nurse not getting reprimanded. . .”

 

“Don't you know everybody should be kissing his ass. Moron.” Jessy snorts.

 

“The last straw was the office transferring the children to another doctor at the office, he was stunned that the office wouldn't show you the door and force you to find another office.”

 

“Of course, don't you know he's god's gift to humanity.” Jessy snorts. “Miserable old fool.”

“Yes, he has been terminated.”

 

“I'm sure the fucker ran wailing off over that.”

 

“Oh yes.” Jessy finds the letter and reads it then sorts through the rest of the mail. Most of it ends up stuffed in the recycling bin.

 

Jessy slides into the passenger seat of the truck Robert's driving the next morning after breakfast, nodding in satisfaction as she sees businesses opening back up in Marley.

 

“It's been a long hard ride.” Robert sighs.

 

“Yep, and it would have been a lot shorter if dumbass in the government hadn't screwed around and held up the boxes for two months because he was sure the damn power companies would have the power back on soon. He was told the fucking lines were fried but thought they could just fix the damn lines and everything would be hunky goddamn dory.”

 

“Him and that moron who kept blubbering that Florida didn't need the boxes because we don't have a real winter should have to apologize to the friends and families of everybody who died because of the power being out so long.” Mayor Watson says from the window next to Jessy. She grins at him. A police car comes rolling up to see why they're stopped at the light and drives off when they recognize both the trucks and the mayor. “Thank god Marley was a little better off than the rest of the state and country.”

 

“Yes, the moron in the governor's mansion might think tourism is the be all and end all but we were able to stay open out at the House and Marley's budget isn't affected as others because most of theirs comes from tourism.”

 

“Yes, even some of the other mayors in the area are wailing about their budgets.”

 

They return to the House late that night, Jessy checking in on the babies who are asleep under the calm gazes of their house elf nannies before walking to the main house, first checking her mail then walking to the cafeteria.

 

“Did you get everything you needed?” Xander asks.

 

“Most of it, I'll put in one last order tomorrow, the trucks are parked behind the shops and need to be unloaded tomorrow.” The others nod they'll be there after breakfast and Jessy knows the 'the trucks need emptying after breakfast' message will be making the rounds.

 

Jessy sighs as she finishes double checking she has everything on the list and sends the order, printing the receipts for the records as she hears people filling the shelves in the back rooms.

 

“Got everything unloaded, Jessy.” Faith sticks her head in the door of the office. “Are you going in soon for the library?”

 

“Next week when I go in to pick up the order forms.”

 

Jessy drops the receipt on Larry's desk and he grins as he puts it in the file. “The IRS is going to be howling about not getting the taxes they usually do with so many out of work for so long.”

 

“Yep.” The accountants had come out and they'd all had their taxes done. Jessy had pretended to drop a tote in front of some of them and the head had just gave her a look. A 'I know they're idiots, but really' look. He'd sighed at everything she brought out of the tote and sighed but nodded at the 'it's gonna be worse next year' comment.

 

“Jessy, Amanda is in need of more bonds.” Rupert says after waving her into his office and shutting the door. She nods. “I'll bring them out after dinner.”

 

“And the cooks need help with the hydroponics over the next couple of days. Don't grumble, the others are busy planting gardens or taking care of the babies.”

 

“Yes slave driver.” Jessy mock-grumbles. “Larry, I need a couple books of stamps. The requests for money are picking up now that the power is back on all over.”

 

“Has anybody heard anything about a fund. . .” Joyce asks at dinner.

 

“for car and house payments? Yes, it was something the government came up with to both spend more taxpayer money and to save houses and vehicles while the power was out.” Rupert says. “They paid off mortgages, No years of interest much to the dismay of banks but what they actually owed.”

 

“Of course the banks were upset, the damn years of interest on car and house notes is more than three times the amount they loaned you in some cases.” Jessy snorts. “I remember watching a show where the damn mortgage was 25,000 dollars a month. Over a damn thirty year loan that would be nine million dollars.”

 

The others shudder.

 

“What the goddamn hell do you think you're doing?” Jessy bellows as she walks out to her car and finds a woman writing her a ticket.

“There's there no parking here. . .dear.” the woman sneers. “Take it away.” She bellows to the tow truck driver.

 

“Bullshit, there's no signs saying no parking.

 

The woman looks around for the signs that have to be there to prove this uppity little bitch wrong and can't find any. Jessy is busy calling the police and they hurry up. “Who the hell are you and what the hell do you think you're doing?” An officer says icily. “Take that car off the tow truck. . .NOW!” He tells the driver.

 

“She needs to pay my bill.” He blusters.

 

“The hell she does, this is an illegal tow. There's never been any statutes saying people can't park here.”

 

“But she said there's no parking here.” He bleats.

 

“And she's not an officer in our town. Take the car off the tow truck NOW.” The chief of police bellows as he drives up. “Were there any other vehicles removed.”

 

“Ummm.”

 

“Ummm is not an answer. And start taking her car down now or you're going to be arrested for attempted theft.”

 

“But you can't. . .” the stupid woman tries throwing herself at the officers and is quickly taken down and placed in cuffs.

 

“Jesus.” everybody murmurs as Jessy recounts the story back at the House. “Of course it turned out she wasn't a real officer, the dumbass driver is bleating he didn't know it wasn't a valid tow but since there wasn't a police car on the street he can't possibly be that damn stupid.”

 

“Probably in on it, the way he was demanding you pay the fee before he took the car off the truck.” One of the house lawyer's snorts.

 

“Oh fuck. . .I know who that fool woman is now.” Jessy grabs her phone, and she knows Rupert is giving her the hairy eyeball for using it at the table, and makes a call. “Chief, sorry to bother you at home. It's Jessy Michaels. I recognize that fool woman who was pretending to be an officer now, she considers herself the parking authority of the damn universe. She got in trouble for trying to tell people where they could park at a mall in Miami years ago, she finally got arrested instead of just being told to leave the mall for putting false citations on vehicles there and getting them towed away.” Rupert moans. “No, I don't know her name but. . .Andrew, call the mall and see. . .”

 

“If they know her name, the head of security there will remember the fool very well.” He snorts. “Give me his number so I can pass it along?” Jessy rattles it off and he heads out into the hallway. “Yes, she was arrested for it, I don't know why her prints aren't coming up in the system.”

 

“It was a civil matter, it wouldn't be in the database.” The same house lawyer says. In her ear the chief of police is saying the same thing. Andrew calls out a name from the hallway and Jessy repeats it. “The head of security there is. . .” Jessy rattles off a name. “Andrew says he's going to contact the fool's next of kin, either her husband. . .though I heard he divorced her for her stupidity, or one of her kids.”

 

“Girls, your mother is a goddamn stupid fool.” their father says as he gets them on a conference call a couple days later.

 

“What did that stupid bitch do this time? Dad, don't get on my case about my language. . .she tried calling the school a couple months ago demanding I be removed from all my classes. At first she tried claiming she didn't write the check out for my tuition and I was going to be arrested for fraud, when the school called her a damn liar and told her I had a partial scholarship for my tuition and that grants, work-study programs, and my education fund was paying the rest she had a weeping wailing howling fit about how could I decide to attend a school so far from home? The school agrees that she's the reason I left the state to attend school.” His younger daughter says. Since this is her last semester of school he moans. Dear God, trying to get your daughter removed from her school when she's so close to graduating? Just how big a miserable fool was his ex-wife?

 

“Yes, and she tried calling in a complaint about me at my work. Since I wasn't even there that day the investigation against me was quickly dropped and my bosses realize she's a goddamn fool. She bleated like a billy goat that she had to do it, my job was embarrassing her. I needed a better job.” His other daughter says in disgust. “What did the goddamn moron do this time?”

 

“Dressed up in a policewoman costume from a shop and started putting out her fake citations in a town an hour away from Miami, one of her cronies who had towed the cars at the mall were towing the cars away from where they were parked. She was stopped when a woman came up to them with her car on the tow truck and demanded to know what the hell was going on. She was arrested when the fool tried throwing herself at the real officers who were demanding the car be taken off the truck and asked if there had been any more removed.”

 

“Oh dear god.” His younger daughter moans. A voice can be faintly heard and she apologizes for interrupting the class. A question and she repeats what her father said, getting a moan from the teacher.

 

“There was reports of twenty missing cars that day, it looks like the fool just went up and down streets and started slapping fake citations on the cars and sending them off. Of course with no real citations nobody would have found out what happened to the cars unless businesses in the area had surveillance video. I'm sure the tow company would have found the cars and charged the owners oodles and gobs of money to get them back. The tow lot is very loudly backing away from their now former employee, the fucking fool barely kept his job the last time. He knew she wasn't a police officer this time.”

 

“What is she looking at?” the girl in class asks.

 

“Grand theft auto.” Her father and the teacher says in near unison. He's a former officer who turned to teaching when he lost a leg on duty. “Attempted assault since you say she threw herself at the officers. Impersonating a police officer. . .She's looking at a long time in prison.”

 

“Good, serves the fool right.” She says after ending the call with her father and sister. “Miserable woman.”

 

“Was she in counseling?”

 

“Yes, after the first time she was arrested. Moron considers herself the parking authority of the world and kept bothering people at a local mall back home about handicapped parking spaces.”

 

“They were parking there instead of in regular spots?” A classmate asks.

 

“Hell no, nothing so damn normal. She was complaining because people with handicapped placards or plates weren't parking just there. . .mostly because the damn spots were already filled. Oh dear god no, they were parking wherever they wanted. .. not where she wanted them. Because handicapped people should only park in handicapped spots.”

 

Sounds of disgust.

 

“Oh yes, this isn't the first time she tried putting down fake citations and getting vehicles towed. She did that at the mall and got arrested for it. The man who was towing the cars then was with her this time, he knows she isn't a real officer and barely kept his job back then.”

 

“He was only in it for the money the tow yard would make.” Another student says.

 

“Yes, Dad figures the tow yard would find the cars several weeks after the were reported stolen and the owners would have to pay outrageous amounts of storage to get them back.”

 

“And how would he be able to explain how they'd been there for so long?” Another student asks. “If he faked reports for the system, they'd immediately see they'd been reported stolen.”

 

“I think he was hoping that since the tow yard is outside Miami and the town she'd targeted were an hour away, they wouldn't talk to each other until much later when the notices of 'pay or have your car be sold' were sent out.”

 

“And the office had to notice him bringing in car after car after car without any paperwork being brought to the office or calls going out.”

 

Another student snorts. “Probably figuring they wouldn't complain since he was making them money hand over fist. Or they'd fake paperwork to back him up. But with so many cars reported stolen showing up there, they'd be shut down while the police investigated. Yes, I know what I'm talking about, my family owns a tow yard and a creep brought in stolen cars to get us shut down. Unfortunately for him we had video of him and his cronies bringing in the cars and leaving them and he's facing decades in prison as well as losing everything he owned in the civil case. We wouldn't sell to him and he wouldn't have that. He thought his friends in the gangs would back him up and they turned on him. Fucking fool.”

 

“There's always going to be fools out there who think they're so much better than everybody else and end up making absolute fools of themselves.” The teacher drawls. “Fucking idiot.” More than one person snorts at the weeping and wailing of the fool woman as she's arraigned on multiple charges. Her blubbering that she was just trying to help people, they were parking everywhere and not where she wanted them to park has people giving her disgusted looks or yelling at her. But they were parking wherever they wanted she wails in the courtroom.

 

“And how would stealing their cars help them?” the judge says icily.

 

They wouldn't park where she didn't want them to park again she says in a duh tone of voice that has her tossed back in her jail cell until her court case starts. . .in a few months. But they were parked on the street and not in a lot she yells in the courtroom as she's dragged off.

 

Fucking fool, what the hell did she think she was doing is asked in various offices.

 

She wasn't thinking is the general consensus. Goddamn stupid fool is the official diagnosis of the psychiatrists that have talked to her since her first arrest and now this one.

 

Jessy shakes her head as she listens to the wailing of the fool woman who is so goddamn sure she can't control the world's parking. “Fucking fool, the state is slowly recovering from the electricity being off so long and she's got to move cars because she doesn't like where the owner parked them.”

 

The truck with the boxes of supplies for the bags arrives after the last of the graduation outfits have been walked out the door. Jessy and Illyana start bringing in the boxes and they start putting together layers.

 

“Things feel like they're getting back to normal.” Illyana says as she looks around the room.

 

“Yes, the prom and graduation outfits will be normal next year with everybody back to work for nearly a year, the bags are picking up again, they really want to start picking up the bags and dropping off the supplies every two months now, the power being off for so many people showed how much they're really needed.” The others nod. “They finally come up with the total for all the supplies they sent out . . .not including the fund for the loans to pay off cars and houses since that should be repaid.” The others nod. “and they're wailing when they compared it to what they'd have paid out if the boxes had started going out just as soon as people started announcing the lines were fried. . .it wasn't all that fool who was stunned the power companies hadn't got the power back on yet, it was also the fucking morons who wouldn't fucking listen to people and waited for their own damn expert to call them fucking liars.”

 

“It's also the fools who didn't bother to follow up on the orders to start sending out the boxes to make sure they were actually going out.” Rupert says from the door of the shop. He nods in satisfaction at the boxes against one wall and Illyana and Jessy putting together layers. Jubilee comes back from the other room where she'd been working on outfits and takes the pile when it gets big enough, taking it over to her station and starts to work. Shrugging Jessy and Illyana keep working, soon having the table full of piles of layers to be quilted. Paige is busy laying out pieces for the straps and starting to stitch them together.

 

“Since they plan on picking up and delivering every two months, are the orders increasing?”

 

“Yeah, half again what they are now and they plan on adding more bags, the patterns will be revealed the end of the year.” Jessy says. “the supply of bags really took a hit, they were used for everything while the power was out.” Everybody nods, they'd seen the bags in use everywhere. Both during the power outage and afterwards.

 

“Are you ready to start two shifts again?”

 

“Yeah, I already announced it would be back to two shifts just as soon as we finish these garments. And that won't be too long, we've only got a dozen containers yet to open.” Rupert nods in satisfaction. “Guys, listen up.” Everybody turns to look at her.

“We'll need more patterns.”

 

“Do we have everything we need?”

 

“Yep, I picked up more plastic and more envelopes. A couple solid Sundays of work and we'll have all the patterns we need.”

 

“X-cto blades?”

 

“I have three cases in the back. I also have three more cases of scissors too.” Rupert nods in satisfaction as Betty comes out of the other room and grabs a container, laying everything out and starting to cut. He leaves them to their work and heads off to talk to the other stores.

 

Jessy yawns as she looks out the window of her home the next evening, the wind is picking up and while this isn't a hurricane it's a good wind and would have power out in a lot of places if the lines weren't already fried. Making a mental note to see if any of the power companies have plans to start tearing down the wires or if they're going to leave them up there to rot until new line is installed.


“No, I haven't heard anything about the fried lines being taken down. . .that would make sense.” Larry drawls the next morning at breakfast when Jessy asks the question to the room. Pulling out her phone, and walking to the hallway at Rupert's look, she calls the New York House.

 

“Nope, the fried lines haven't been taken down there either.”

 

“Figures, they plan on replacing the old line with the new when they get it.”

 

“And they won't get it for years.”

 

“Oh, it would take too much money to go out, remove all the fried lines, then go back out again and rewire everything. It will be cheaper to take it down and rewire it at the same time.” Somebody says from another table. Everybody snorts but nods.

 

“Unless they blubber and whine and talk the state or local governments into paying for it. Because they're not making money hand over fist with so much of the country on the boxes.” Someone snorts from another table. Nods from everybody else.

 

“I'm sure they're already passing on some of the losses to their other customers. And I heard rumors from one of the engineers in town that they have to inspect all their machinery and lines now in a vain. . .and all too fucking late, attempt to make sure another surge doesn't take out the rest of the power grid.” Scott snorts. Everybody in the cafeteria nods again.

 

Three weeks later Max grins as he picks up the last of the completed order and sees boxes of completed bags going out to the POD.

 

“You're going like gangbusters.”

 

“The government wants every bag we can finish as soon as possible.” Faith says. She yelps when he hugs her. “Dammit, I told Jessy you're like an octopus when you hug somebody.” Max just laughs, he's heard that same complaint from his family many a time. He gives her a look and she shows off baby pictures. “She's adorable.”

 

“Yes, Andrew's silently freaking at the thought of three teenage girls in fourteen years.” everybody sniggers.

 

“Did Andrew get in contact with his friend?”

 

“Yes, Mr. Stark offered him a job right away. His former employers are sulking. . .they didn't realize that getting rid of that section would lose them so many patents and money.” The company that had brought out his former employer had gone on a massive cost-cutting spree and they'd been stunned to find the so-called dead wood was among the more profitable ventures in the company. . .it just hadn't got the massive notice that what they'd brought the company in the first place for had gotten. Everybody had gotten other jobs very quickly and they were left begging to be allowed to use the patents they'd figured they were buying the use of when they brought the company.

 

“Cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

 

“Yep. Like the rest of us he doesn't have to work and the knowledge that their company could have got the prestige of having his patents come from the time he worked there will be killing them. Plus the fact that no matter how much they tried putting the clause in the contracts, the patents still belong to the people who created it, not the company they worked for when it was created.”

 

“Bastards.”

 

“Oh yes, they're getting a lot of second or third looks from people they're trying to get to come to work for them, they're frantically backing away from the stance that they own the patents. . .oh no, it was somebody else who tried slipping that clause into the contracts when they brought the company, some unnamed person who had overstepped his authority and is no longer an employee of the company.”

 

“And everybody believes that sssuuuuurrrreeee. Because if it really was a former employee they'd be plastering the name all over the place. And opening themselves up to a major lawsuit.” Jessy drawls. Max grins and hands over the envelope he pulls from his pocket before getting in the truck and driving off.

 

“The kids head off for Kate's graduation from university?”

 

“Yep, and she's already got the letter saying she's accepted to law school this fall. Thankfully her school was one of those that didn't get shut down thanks to the power outage.” Faith says as they all walk to the main building after Jessy's locked the doors.

 

“Yeah, the students who had their schooling delayed thanks to that worthless school in Miami. . .” Jessy slaps her head and makes a call to her finance guy. “As I was saying, their schooling got delayed another year by the power outage since the school didn't open.”

 

“What were you thinking. . .we all know that look on your face.” Faith snorts.

 

“Seeing if the old campus was up for sale yet and if it was if we could pick it up rather cheaply.”

 

Rupert is looking at her, silently asking the why question on everybody's mind. “If the buildings are good, it could become the Davison school of textiles, Miami campus.” He makes a hmmm sound. “We could turn it into a lot of things, Josette Grover says an old state hospital near where she used to live in her original dimension was turned into condos and stores. Like the school, it was more than one building.”

 

She gets a call an hour later.

 

“Nope, not for sale yet, the former college is still tied up in a number of lawsuits.” She tells Rupert.

 

“Yes, they're trying to declare bankruptcy on their terms, keeping their assets from both the bankruptcy court and any of their former students if they get judgments in the civil cases.” One of the house's lawyers says as he walks past where the two are talking in the hallway. “I'm sure they're funneling money away into hidden accounts so if they do lose, they don't lose it all.”

 

“Just like a ponzi scheme when it's all going to hell.”

 

“Yep.”

 

Faith brings out the first container of patterns as Jessy settles behind the counter as the others gather either at the stacked containers or at the door to the stockroom. Grinning Jessy brings out the first notebook and reads off the outfit, Faith grinning as she grabs the pattern and the fabric, rolls of lace, ribbon, and other stuff is brought out.

 

It takes two weeks but they have a wall of containers full and settle back down to work. The schools in the state that were open are closed and everybody is busy getting in supplies for the next school year.

 

A couple days later she walks back into the library at Stark, nothing needs to be done but she should be there to earn that paycheck she gets she thinks. She'd talked to Mr. Stark last night about there not being any textbook expos until the next year but there should be some new books about the power outages soon. Whether they were worth the paper they were printed on she'd snorted and in New York Mr. Stark had nodded. He'd been the focus of a number of books that weren't worth the paper the papernational Guard they were written on. They'd quickly been pulled from the shelves when the magic words 'libel laws' were uttered by his lawyers.

 

Most publishers had tried to keep producing but with so many stores shut down they realized they'd be piling up stock. Now that everybody had power again thanks to the boxes print runs were starting up again and new stock was making it to stores. Same with DVDS, though movie premieres had come and gone as theaters that had still been open got the new movies while those who reopened after the power came back on looked at all the lost income and put in insurance claims.

 

Jessy slumps onto a couch in the hallway of the House a couple weeks later, taking off her shoes and rubbing her feet.

 

“How was your rheumatologist appointment?” Rupert asks.

 

“A lot better than people who needed treatments like dialysis and chemo.” Jessy snorts. “I was still able to get my pills thanks to the National Guard and while all the damn 'the power is still off' drama didn't help my stress levels there's no more damage on the x-rays than there was before the power outage. ”

 

“That's good. . .especially after that bad flareup a few years ago.” Jessy takes the slippers Jenny hands her and walks to the cafeteria with the others after she grabs her mail.

 

“I've been lucky, it's been years since I had such a bad flare-up and if I had to have RA, it was decent enough not to affect my hands so I can continue to work, I've heard of people having to go on disability since it affected their work. I can always sew and design outfits in a wheelchair.” The others nod.

 

Jessy looks at the two opened letters, then at Rupert.

 

“Some absolute fool who was trying to sue because you didn't bury your mother in couture like she wanted. She was actively involved in your mother's burial and you went behind her back and didn't buy the outfit she had picked out. She wanted the money that your mother had been setting aside for the outfit back. We talked to the lawyer and he was very apologetic that he had the wrong people, your mother was not named Lynette Michaels and she had died nearly 23 years ago, not six months.”

 

Jessy snorts. “If there was a woman who wasn' t buried in the outfit she picked out, why didn't they say something at the funeral? Even the old Bertha better than you biddies would have been making a fuss at the funeral. You wouldn't have been able to hear the preacher for all the hissing and whispering.”

 

“Yes, this is a young attorney just out of school and hasn't learned yet to investigate claims to make sure they're factual.”

 

“And this second letter?”

 

“That little fool who was having you make outfits for him, he's trying to claim he owns your designs. You'll notice the name on the letter is not the lawyer who was out here, I called him and he's probably still yelling at the fool. The little bastard's looking at prison time since he attacked his psychologist for daring to tell him he couldn't have everything he wanted.”

 

“Moron deserves to be in prison then, the other cons won't put up with his bullshit.” Jessy mutters. “And I'm sure Fred is telling the real movers and shakers in the industry what the little bastard tried to do, they will all be talking bad about the miserable little fool.”

“That above all will hurt him the most.” Rupert says dryly. Jessy snickers and nods. “Little fucker will bleat mental illness because he thinks it will get him out of trouble, otherwise he'd be huffing that there's nothing wrong with him.” the others nod.

 

“Has anybody heard rumors about some fool wanting to bring in parking meters everywhere in Marley?” Somebody asks at another table.

 

“Yeeesssssss.” Andrew says dryly. Rupert looks at him in disbelief. “I heard the wailing when I was at the post office to get a package weighed. Some fool was wailing about all the lots in town, if the city council turns them into pay by the day lots. . .yes, including Stark and stores and put parking meters on all the streets the money will come rolling in for the city. The mayor tossed the fool out on his ear saying their parking was just fine the way it was and he ran off wailing . ..how can Marley not want his precious parking plan?”

 

“Idiot.”

 

“Sounds like the same damn fool at the doctor's office who was wailing about the parking lot and how much money the city could be making. Who cares if this is a doctor's office. . .people not paying for their parking spots? That's fucking criminal.” Jessy mock-bleats.

 

“Oh dear god, isn't parking bad enough at the mall now.” Paige mutters. “Fucking paying for the day or having to deal with meters. . .”

 

“Amen. I'm sure the fucker works for a company that supplies parking meters, if he gets huge orders he'll quickly make his way up the ladder.”

 

“Sounds like it. God fucking forbid he actually work to get ahead.” Larry drawls. Then he gets up, walks out to the hallway to stretch and yawn.

 

“I suggest you go to bed early tonight, the office will survive without you.”

 

Jessy's head lifts up and she looks around. “Rupert.” She points at a window and Rupert and Adam stare that way, seeing a man there with a gas container in his arm. They quickly shield themselves and descend on him, tying him up tight and opening the windows and doors to get fresh air into the room. Jessy calls security and they come running into the room.

 

“Goddamn fool, what the fuck did he think would happen?” Jessy scowls. “There's a great big opening across the room. Gas would never knock us out, there's too much air coming into the room.”

 

“It's too big for a single tank anyway.”

 

“Needless to say, the house is on lockdown. If you don't have a session tonight, box up your food and go home. In groups.” Jessy calls. Rupert nods. “If you do have a session, bunk down upstairs.” On one of the upper levels is several dorm style rooms meant for emergencies.

 

“Maintenance is waiting outside to take everybody to their homes.” Scott says from the doorway. “We'll deliver you by apartment building or houses.”

 

“Bloody fool.” Rupert says later that night.

 

“Do we know who he was after?”

 

“No, he's either refusing to answer or he doesn't know.”

 

“Since the little fool only had one tank and could see the big opening in the other wall. . .I'd say the latter. Security is backtracking him trying to find out where he came from and where he scaled the wall. We're going to be putting up sensors to keep that from happening again.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“The fucking governor? He was hired by the damn governor?” Jessy asks a few days later.

 

“Oh yes, he was going to hold people hostage here until we turned the power box business over to him. . .with that money his budget would be restored and he could lord it over the others governors in the area.

 

“Goddamn moron.” Larry mutters.

 

“Yes, he was stunned to find himself arrested, blustering that we should have given it to him. . .he's the governor.” Rupert drawls the last word. “Needless to say, he's not getting any support from the state government, they're in the process or removing him from office. He's not getting any support from his cronies in big business, they know he could easily have targeted them.”

 

“How did he find out we owned the power facility?”

 

“He wasn't sure who owned it, he's heard hints that we had unlimited power and that meant we had the boxes first. If we didn't know who did it, there's enough millionaires and billionaires out here to make it worth his while while he still looked for the goose that laid the golden eggs.”

 

“For himself no doubt, screw the budget.”

 

“That was my thought as well. Both our . . .interloper and the soon to be former governor are both wailing in jail that nobody would be hurt.”

 

“Oh somebody would have been hurt. . .that asswipe.” Jessy snorts. “Because there's enough knives and heavy pans in the kitchen to put the hurt to ten people, let alone that fool.”

 

“Shut up you goddamn fucking moron.” The governor's lawyer snaps. He gives him a hurt look, why is he yelling at him. “Dear gods fool, what the hell were you thinking having somebody go on their grounds to hold people hostage so you could get the money from the power boxes? Gods, you don't even know they own the power facility.”

 

“But the budget. . .” he wails. “If they don't own the boxes they know who does.”

 

“And what goddamn concern of it is yours?”

 

“But my budget. . .”

 

“Shut the hell up about your goddamn budget. Dear gods moron, the budget has been falling apart for years because of the damn bad hurricanes, the power outage was the straw that broke the camel's back. The government has a damn fund that you could have applied to to help with the losses from the power outage.”

 

“But they wanted an accounting of everything and I'd have had to pay it back.”

 

“Fucking fool, toss his ass in prison and leave him there to rot.” His own lawyer says later that day at a hearing. “Moron won't stop wailing about his precious budget, he wouldn't apply to the fund that would have given him some of that money back, they wanted an accounting of how it would be spent and they actually would have made him pay the money back.”

 

“Oh the humanity.” One of the others mock-warbles. An older man looks at him. “Please, that's the kind of fool that he is. None of us voted for the fool.”

 

“Yes, he's wailing about his precious budget, money should be rolling in so he can skim money off the top. He can't do that with the fund, they wanted an accounting of every penny.”

 

“Harvey. . .just because you think he's a crook. . .” a man says sternly.

 

“Oh no, he admitted he took money from the budget. . .the state doesn't pay him enough.” He mock-blubbers. “He dipped into any number of funds over the years to pay for something he wanted. It's not illegal is it? It is?”

 

“Yes, he's being charged with that as well, he was wailing that with the budget so far in the red he won't be able to buy a new speedboat or take a vacation or. . .” he lists a half-dozen other things the moron would have taken money from the budget to buy.

 

“Oh dear god.”

 

“Oh yes, if he had the money from the boxes, he'd be able to replace the state budget, thumb his nose at the federal government, and have everything he ever wanted. If the people he was targeting didn't own the business, they would no doubt know who did. There was also enough millionaires and billionaires out there to make it worth the effort of lowering himself to hire that fucking fool. Because they have children and would no doubt give him money to make sure the children weren't harmed.”

 

“That was a cafeteria, there were knives and other items there they would have used against him for threatening their children.”

 

“Oh please, that's why he had the gas cylinder. It's just that we was a goddamn fool and didn't see that huge archway across from the window that was keeping the gas from affecting them.”

 

“And one cylinder wouldn't have affected them unless he got the tank right in their faces and turned the nozzle.” Another man snorts. “There was at least fifty people in that room, he'd never have been able to get everybody.”

 

“No, but this sounds like one of the fool's grand gestures. Reality never factors into them.”

 

“Goddamn moron, I hope the hell the bastards that voted for him realize how big a mistake they made.”

 

“Oh please, idiots never learn. That's why so many people are bleating about that fool Bush.”

 

“Rupert, are we adding more cameras to the woods?”

 

“Motion activated cameras and lights, with a pre-recorded message saying they were trespassing. We'll make it human height so an animal won't activate them.” The others nod.

 

Jessy yawns as she wanders up the stairs to the second floor of the seamstress shop and looks in on the machines. Almost as if he'd heard her thinking about him Rupert comes up the stairs.

 

“Faith said that she thinks you need to increase your yarn order?”

 

“Yeah, I'm getting more requests for socks. Even here because god knows some places think that the damn air conditioning needs to be down to below freezing levels.”

 

Rupert snorts but nods. Jessy hands over the plans she'd been working on, followed by a list of the socks she can make with the more advanced machines. He nods and she sends off the order.

 

“What are your plans for this floor?” He asks as she crooks a finger for him to follow her as she heads up to the third floor. It had been originally meant for storage and is now used for overflow storage and other stuff.

 

“I was thinking of getting a loom. We don't need to make our own fabric. . .yet, but the school is dropping hints.” Rupert snickers. “Oh, did you talk to the pottery about tiles?”

 

“Yes, and they're buying extra for the flea market. It should sell well.” Jessy smirks and brings up a couple files from her ship, Rupert moaning as he looks them over.

 

“Yes, that's thousands of sock machines. Josette started out with one sock machine and a couple boxes of yarn. . .” Jessy tells the rest of the story and he shakes his head. “Becka says they're going to be putting up a building for knitting machines on the grounds of the business she runs, along with soapmaking buildings, candlemaking buildings, a building of 3D printers for them damn mini-me figurines. . .among other stuff I hope, a pottery and a building to make plastic clay. . .and she says the government is buying thousands of tiles.”

 

“Oh dear lord, I won't complain about the tiles the pottery is buying then.” He snorts.

 

“Becka says the government is full of morons spending money just to spend money.”

 

“Yes, that's human nature. Even with all the problems they've had in their dimension. . .I can't say anything, not after that fool former governor tried stealing the boxes so he got the money from them. He'd be able to thumb his nose at everybody else, buy anything he wanted, and oh so graciously pass along some of it to the budget.” Rupert sighs.

 

“Which he'd take right back as soon as he could with his damn 'skimming' money anywhere he wanted. Then he'd blubber because his precious budget kept going over. Not because of anything they were doing, but because the bastard was taking the money for his fleet of boats, his cars. . .”

 

“Oh yes, the judge was not happy when he finally had to admit how much money he'd taken from the state budget, it amounted to millions of dollars. And of course they'll never get it back. The money has been spent and everything was 'lost' when he was regretfully robbed.”

 

“Bullcrap.”

 

“Oh yes, but since they can't prove he moved his money and belongings before he was arrested any more than they can prove how much money he actually stole in the first place. I fully expect that he'll get out of a 'club fed' prison and when he got out he would disappear to wherever his ill-gotten gains are stashed and live out a life of luxury. His megamansion home isn't in his name so they can't seize it.”

 

Jessy sighs but nods. They walk down to the first floor and outdoors. This is a Sunday so nobody's at work but maintenance is busy upgrading the security systems to make sure another event doesn't happen. The other houses are looking at their security systems and upgrading them if necessary. They shouldn't have the same reason for updating their security, but better safe than sorry. Jessy knows the school is looking at their own security.

 

“Do you have a loom?”

 

“Yes, there's several in the stuff the school picked up at the sale. The school was looking for a reason to send me at least one of them.” Rupert snickers despite himself as Scott comes up with the golf cart and drives them to the main house.

 

Jessy leans against Rupert as she punches in the number for the school one-handed, getting the answering machine and leaving a message. She ends the call and looks up at the sky. “We're going to have one hell of a storm coming in.”

 

“Yes, the forecast was just updated when I came out. The storm changed direction and now they're saying it's going to go right up the coast. We're not expecting more than wind and rain but they figure it will be a couple days before it gets out of the state.”

 

“Well, if the lines are down it will be a damn incentive for the power companies to get off their asses and remove them.” Xander snorts as he gets on the running board of the golf cart and grabs one of the poles holding the cover on for the trip. The others snort but nod.

 

“Has the factories started making line again?”

 

“Yes, but it will be at least several years until they can start laying line again. And that's in areas that didn't have power plants and substations fry.” Scott says. “We're very lucky in that our power plant didn't fry and the new plant wasn't affected.”

 

“Going to be longer for those places, they gotta come up with the money for them. I'm sure the idiot owners are trying to get the taxpayers to pay for the new plants but city councils either won't put them on the ballot or the voters will say 'screw you, we don't need your plant now' in droves since they got a steady supply of power thanks to the boxes.”

 

“Did we get another order for the boxes for more natural disasters?” Methos asks later that night after dinner.

 

“No, but I expect to after the government takes stock of what supplies they still have on hand.”

 

“How much of the US is on the boxes?”

 

“About fifty-eight percent now, it was twenty-seven percent before the outage.”

 

“Are any other countries having the same trouble with their grids that we did?”

 

“I'm afraid so, smart countries are learning from the problems we had and are focusing on alternative renewable sources of power. I'd offer them to other countries but I can see people sneering about the 'uppity yanks' coming in trying to push their weight around.”

 

“Of course, because they didn't do it themselves.” Methos drawls. “Stupidity isn't just limited to the United States. If the power goes out, let them come begging to us.” Rupert nods. “How are the gardens coming along?”

 

“Good, we planted extra to can or dry to have on hand. Because all of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Are we still going to be getting in extra supplies once we can?”

 

“Yes. Because as you said, we're still waiting for the other shoe to drop. And unlike the rest of the world, we know that even with the power back on, it's not over.”

 

Larry comes running into the office and fumbles for the remote. Methos grabs it. “CNN?” He nods. There's a commercial on right now. “Massive power outage in England, early estimates is the whole country is without power.” He says at their looks.

 

“The other shoe just dropped. Their power grid is old and has been failing for years.” Methos sighs.

 

“Yes, and they don't have the alternate power options we do.” Rupert sighs.

 

“Is there any boxes out there?”

 

“Yes, I have land out there and the buildings have boxes, so does Adam.”

 

The next morning Scott looks at Jessy then the other parents in the room. “Okay, this is a stupid question but do we have godparents for the kids?”

 

“Officially no, but we've all got paperwork set up to give custody of them to the other parents and then the House.” The others nod. “Because we all know there's morons out there who would swoop in to try to take the kids to get our money, even before that asshole.” Nods again. “We don't want the kids to be afraid but we want them to know that some people might not like them and try to hurt them.” Nods again. “What any parent has to tell their children anymore.” Phillip sighs.

 

“Okay, has anybody been listening to the news?” Rupert asks, standing up. “I told Kiara this earlier in case she's personally affected but there was a massive power outage last night in England. Most of the country is without power.”

 

“Stupid bitch tries to escape I hope they shoot her.” Kiara mutters.

 

“Has your extended family tried contacting you yet?”

 

“Hopefully the bloody fools have better things to do, they didn't contact me when the power went out here.” Kiara snorts.

 

“Are we looking at selling more boxes?”

 

“Not right now, the government is no doubt frantically trying to find out what the problem is. The power grid there is worse off than ours. Like Hawaii they can't really build more plants.”

 

“And with the bad weather solar panels don't really provide all that much power.”

 

Rupert nods.

 

“Are you bloody stupid?” A man bellows in England, glaring at a subordinate who'd had the 'splendid' idea to call in the extended members of the Royal family for a photo op. “Some of those people live in other countries, they're not going to drop everything and fly in. The damn airports are closed anyway.”

 

“They. . .they are?” He whimpers.

 

“Yes moron, they're closed. There's no fucking power and all incoming flights in and out have been canceled. We're too damn busy trying to get people food, water, and other supplies to worry about the others, they have lives of their own.”

 

“But they're members of the Royal family, it's their duty to be here.” he bleats. Then gulps at the look of pure hatred on his boss's face. “Maybe we can spin it that they're busy with their own duties that need attention?”

 

“Maybe we can spin it that nobody gives a shit about people they don't know who the fuck they are because they're busy trying to get food and water you bloody little fool.” His boss bellows. “Now get that fucking idea out of your head right now and go do something useful, like clean up dog shit in the park.”

 

“Damn fool, was he expecting everybody to rally around them like the country did during the war?” A man snorts as he hurries off.

 

“Probably. Or more likely rally around him because he came up with the idea. Moron doesn't realize. . .yes, we were at war and there was rationing. But we had electricity, radio, and running water we could get out and work. Instead of sitting in cold flats eating cold canned food because that's all we can do. Okay, how bad off are we?”

 

“I've been going through the list of essential services. And we're way beyond bad. We're into catastrophic.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you fucking stupid? No, you can't sue the people who you tried stealing their children for false arrest.” The former governor's lawyer says in disgust. “Dear god, how fucking stupid are you?”

 

“But I didn't get the power boxes.” he whines.

 

“Too fucking bad. You tried to steal it and you lost your big bid to be somebody.”

 

“But I'm going to be in prison for at least twenty years.”

 

“Too bad, your own damn fault.”

 

“But they're the reason I'm in here.” he wails.

 

“Your damn greed is the reason you're in there.”

 

“But why won't you make them give me their money?” He wails as his lawyer walks away.

 

“Because it's their money, not yours. Moron.”

 

“But the state budget. . .” He wails.

 

“Wouldn't have been as bad off as it is if you hadn't been stealing from it.”

 

“But they didn't pay me enough money for everything I wanted.” he wails as the door opens behind him and he's dragged back off to the hellhole that's his jail cell.

 

“Idiot.”

 

In another jail cell a woman is wailing brokenheartedly as her ex-husband and daughters have flatly refused to have anything to do with her. If she was a better human being she'd have to admit that she was the reason that her family didn't want anything to do with her. But since she's not she's been railing about everybody treating her so horribly, her younger daughter didn't deserve to be going to that school across the country. . .she should have gone to a nearby school and liked it. Her older daughter should have had a better job, she's embarrassed to have to admit to anybody where her daughter works. Her ex-husband is not only not begging her forgiveness, he's got on with his life.

 

“Shut up you fucking miserable bitch.” A voice yells. “We're tired of hearing your damn wailing. You're a miserable excuse for a human being who should have been beaten to death years ago.” The chorus is brought up by other prisoners and she sobs because everybody is being mean to her.

 

“Fucking fool.” A guard snorts. “Thank god this is the last night we have to listen to her weeping and wailing.” She'd been found guilty and sentenced to fifty years to life in prison for all the charges and would be moved in the morning. Everybody is of the mind that she'd end up dying in prison.

 

“But they were parking all over. . .not where I wanted them to park.” she continues to wail as she's led off the prison bus and goes through the humiliating process of intake and walked to her new cell.

 

“Goddamn fucking fool.” Her younger daughter mutters as she prepares to register for her first grad school class.

 

“Your mother?” Her teacher asks. He knows she was convicted in a quick trial. She'd tried pleading not guilty but since the prosecution had video footage of her misdeeds. . .

 

“Fifty years to life for all the charges, everybody figures she'll die in prison. She's still wailing about how badly she's being treated. I ran away to another state to get away from her, The school was so mean, they didn't believe her blubbering story about how I faked her signature on the check for my tuition. . .if the story was real she'd have been in touch with them long ago. So would the police.” Her teacher nods. “Thank god the school saw that I was on a partial scholarship, that grants, work-study, and that my education fund was paying the rest. There was no big huge ginormous check for my tuition. The stupid woman tried to get my older sister fired from her job by calling in a complaint. Since my sister wasn't at work that day the case was quickly dropped.”

 

“Why the hell did she do that?” Another student asks.

 

“Ohhhh, your job is embarrassing me. How can I hold my head up when you work. . .there.” she drawls. “My sister works at a large bank. . .not out front but in one of the offices on the upper floor. She doesn't deal with the public.”

 

“Oh dear god.”

 

“Oh yes. Miserable fool. Of course this is the same fool who tried getting people removed from a cafe because they weren't dressed the way she wanted them dressed, the owners of the business tossed her out on her ass and told her not to bother returning. She tried suing them for not kissing her ass and no lawyer would even listen to her complete story, tossing her ass out of their offices. That was when she was trying to tell patrons at the mall where to park.”

 

“Did she have a stroke or. . .”

 

“Some sort of mental deficiency to explain her actions? No, I wish. Having a mother who couldn't control her actions was preferable to having an absolute bitch of a mother.” She's up next and registers for her classes, heading to the bookstore to get her supplies and heading back home to her apartment.

 

 

Kiara walks into the lab at Stark the next morning, the cooler with their lunch going in the corner of the room.

 

“Did that fool try getting you to return to England to be a damn puppet for the royal family during the power outage again?”

 

“Yes, and I told him bluntly to shove it up his useless ass, I had much better things to do than dance attendance to his wishes. . .like scrub the bathroom toilet.” Jesse sniggers. “He huffed that I had to do what he wanted, I told him the hell I did. He told me he'd call INS and they'd return me, I told him I was a United States citizen and you could hear his boss yelling at him in the background. He got on the phone and apologized to me, he'd told the fucking fool to leave the royal family alone. . .we had better things to do than pose for photo ops. . .that would go nowhere since there was no way to print newspapers, there was no damn television or radio . . .yes the Queen had her talks during WWII but while they had rationing they had electricity, radio, jobs. . .” both men nod as she turns on the computer. “Last time he told him to go pick up dog shit in the park, this time he told him to go clean up pigeon poop off statues with a toothbrush. Fucking fool thinks everybody's going to flock around him for getting us there, he said something about spinning it that we had duties where we were, his boss said how about spinning it nobody gives a crap about people they don't know, they're too busy trying to get food and water.”

 

“And thank god it's not winter yet.”

 

“Yeah. They're trying to get supplies sent out but there's only so much and with the entire damn country without power. . .”

 

“Nobody's making stuff to send out.”

 

“The economy is already faltering, there's no money to get in supplies from other countries. Even if they had power they couldn't print more money, that would lead to massive inflation. If they borrow the money to buy stuff they have to pay it back. . .”

 

“And it's going to be worse before it gets better. Is the government making any effort to get power back on?”

 

“Not that I've seen or heard, but somebody's going to have to start doing something before it gets winter or people start dying from bad food and water. And prisons will be going through their supplies rather quickly.”

 

 

 

Rupert puts down his phone and leans back in his chair. “Jessy, are you there?” He'd heard her swearing before the call.

 

“Yeah, just ignoring calls from that fool's lawyer about 'are you sure you won't turn the design over to my client? He said he did some of the work'. Fucking moron, he's new and trying to use this as a way to make a name for himself. Dumb fucker is quickly learning the fool has pulled this shit with others. That's how he thought he could get away with pulling this shit with me, unfortunately for him I'm a stubborn little shit and I don't take crap from anybody. . .watcha need?”

 

“The government in England finally. . .”

 

“Pulled their thumb out and admitted they aren't going to be able to fix the power problems? Jeez, it's only been six weeks since they finally admitted they can't get the power back on. They've already got to be getting pretty cold.”

 

“Indeed. They contacted the US government and we are working on getting the boxes out to them and setting up a new bank account where their payments will go. First from the government then individuals as people start getting back to work.. It will be a while, we'll need to bring out at least two dozen more warehouses of boxes, beyond what the US is looking into having on hand for more disasters.”

 

 

 

“Are you fucking stupid?” Kiara says in an icy tone that makes the man on the other end gulp. Especially because he can see his boss coming his way under a full head of steam. “No, there is no fucking way I am coming back to England to fucking hand out power boxes. You just want a fucking photo op and there's still no way for you to get the picture out to the people you want kissing your fucking arse.” She ends the call, wishing that it had been one of the house's phones so she had the satisfaction of slamming the phone down in his ear.

 

“But she's a member of the royal family. .she should be here.” he wails as his boss rails at him

 

Rupert looks at Kiara when she returns to the cafeteria. “That fucking fool who wants me back in England for a damn photo op since I'm a 'member of the royal family'.” she drawls. “Having members of the Royal family handing out power boxes to affected citizens will be a splendid photo.”

 

“One, you live in the US, there's no commercial flights going into the island since the damn airports are closed, and two. . .” Rupert sighs.

 

“Nobody fucking knows who the bloody hell I am. If he wants a fucking photo op he'd be better off getting celebrities to do it. And three. . .there's still no fucking way to get the damn photos out once the damn things are taken.” Kiara snorts. “Fucking fool wants everybody to flock to him and kiss his ass. . .he figures on using that to get a better job in the government.”

 

“Isn't that why most of them go into government in the first place?” Jessy snorts. “Or go into some other area where they can think they can get people to kiss their useless asses until somebody with brains kicks it.”

 

“That fool?” Rupert asks, looking at her.

 

“Wailing in a jail cell that it's not fair I was allowed to keep aaaalllllll my designs. He could have given me money. . .eventually. Bastard's stunned that not only would the judge not force me to give him my designs, he asked if I wanted his shit. And it is shit, the fool was grasping at straws to try to keep his head above water, he thinks he's all that but he's a damn poser.”

 

“Guys, listen up. We're expecting a new hurricane bearing down the coast in a couple weeks.”

 

“So get in leisure activities and get used to being inside for a while?” A voice sighs from a nearby table.

 

“That's why everybody should have a good supply of DVDS and other leisure activities.” Phillip says. “For times like these. We'll still have satellite tv, internet, and radio. This far away from the initial storm we shouldn't lose the signal.”

 

Jessy gets a phone call and nods even though whoever's on the other end can't see her. She makes another call and comes back into the cafeteria. “The courts ordered the school sold, much to the dismay of the former administration who were praying everybody would ignore the bad publicity and they'll be able to reopen it. I told my financial guy to put in an interest claim and called Janice to see if it would work as the new Davison campus. That's if the buildings don't need so much work it's not worth it.” The others nod.

 

“Amanda wants to talk to you after dinner.”

 

“Okay, I've been expecting it.” Amanda had dropped in a couple times to drop off deeds and pick up more bearer bonds during the power outage. She's trying not to feel like she's preying on people who lost everything to the power outages but she knows Amanda wouldn't do that. She'd told them about the fund she'd set up with some of the bonds to loan money to people who needed it at little to no interest. Not one of the loans has gone bad once the power was back on.

 

Jessy smirks and heads off in her ship a couple nights later with Methos and Amanda.

 

“That's mean.” Methos smirks as he sees where they are.

 

“Dumb fucker said everything had been stolen. . .he didn't know how right he was.” Jessy purrs.

 

“I taught you well.”

 

“I take don't take threats against my children or any of the others well.” Jessy says firmly.

 

Rupert shakes his head when he sees everything. “Fucker said everything was stolen, if he ever gets out he'll find out he was right. He doesn't deserve to wallow in what he stole from the citizens of Florida.”

 

“No, no he doesn't.”

 

“Okay, enough about me helping myself to that fool's ill-gotten gains.” She looks at Rupert, then Methos, and finally Amanda. “Has anybody been making plans in case we get a major disaster in the area? The earthquake and the power outage is living proof that anything can happen and while things were better here than it was elsewhere. . .”

 

“Yes, we need to make plans. Hurricanes are getting worse.” Rupert sighs. “When factories start producing again, we plan on getting in more orders and everything in on the replicators.”

 

“Yes, I've got copies of what is on the others replicators from trips out to Haven. Now. . .beyond the other dimension, do we have a place to go? I don't see us going to Mars or the moon. Let alone a place like Haven.”

 

Methos and Amanda look at her while Rupert sighs, takes off his glasses, and finally nods. The tell us now look is unmistakable and between the two of them the whole story is told. “If we have to live under a dome, I'd rather it be here on Earth where if something happens we don't die.” Methos nods.

 

“Yes, our Mars is like most, not able to sustain life. Terraforming Mars or the moon would take decades.”

 

“Yes, Haven and the other planets were terraformed and waiting for them when Josette and the others had to start moving off their Earth. When are you due to make your next trip out?”

 

“During lockdown for the next hurricane coming through, they already know I probably won't be coming out with the babies so young. But if we're going to be under lockdown I might go out to get the hell away from all the rain. If I do, I'll bring back information on terraforming planets.” They look at her and she tells them about the 9th planet Earth and then the Earth that had been transformed into a garbage dump. “Now both those planets started out with a planet that had an atmosphere.” They nod.

 

“Again if we gotta live under a dome. . .”

 

“Awww fuck.” Jessy moans. She waves a hand at them. “No, I just saw a planet covered by hundreds of domes linked to each other by tunnels.” The others shudder but nod as they see it themselves.

 

“Nope, if it ever gets that bad, we're off to the other dimension.” Rupert sighs.

 

“Dr. Giles.” Mayor Watson smiles a week later.

 

“I'm sorry to bother you, I know you're as busy as I am getting everything ready for the coming hurricane.”

 

“Yes.” He sighs. “Thank god we're never in a direct path for a hurricane.”

 

Rupert sighs. “Yes, though the earthquake warned us we're not out of total danger.”

 

“There is that. . .unfortunately. I've been working on plans for a mega disaster, the earthquake and being without power for so long is telling people who might have poo-pooed my plans before that they need to make their own.”

 

“Yes, I've been working on my own plans for such an occurrence. Plan for the worst and pray . . .”

 

“for the best. Oh yes.” Rupert excuses himself and heads back to the House, a truck pulling in behind him as Xander, Jesse, and Andrew get out of the truck. The gate opens again and Jessy's van pulls into the parking area.

 

“Getting in leisure activities?”

 

“Yeah, we stopped a number of places.” Jessy sighs as she gets out of the van with Betty. “This is our last trip out before the hurricane blows through. This far we shouldn't get more than wind and rain but there's always the chance of a tornado.” The others nod.

 

“Awwwww. . .fuck!” Kiara moans.

 

“That fool wanting you to return to England for a photo op?”

 

“No, that bloody fool finally got his leash yanked hard enough even he realizes he can't keep on pulling his stupid shit. No, rumor is it that there's been a number of deaths in the extended royal family thanks to the power outage. Nothing official yet. Which means I'll probably have to make a trip out next year after things get back to normal and some fool starts bleating that we need to swear fealty to the throne again after the time of troubles or some such rot.” Kiara waves a hand and everybody snickers. “We pledge our allegiance to the throne and not the person currently sitting on it since we've had some stinkers over the centuries.”

 

“Same thing here except we're stupid enough to elect ours.” Xander snorts.

 

“Jessy, closet.”

 

“Ahhh yes, more 'distributions'.” Jessy drawls. “I'll sort through everything while we're on lockdown.” Rupert nods.

 

“Any word on when the power boxes are going out to England?”

 

“The first shipment is due to be delivered in eight days, thankfully the bases they're flying out of aren't in the hurricane's path. We figure on it taking ten shipments to get enough boxes to England for every building. When we're not shipping boxes we're shipping gasoline since all the tanks are no doubt empty.”

 

“And the trucks delivering the boxes will need gas to deliver them.”

 

“And deliver other supplies.” Xander sighs.

 

The next week everybody is hunkering down in their homes with plenty of food and stuff to keep them occupied while the wind and rain from the hurricane start blowing through. Jessy spends a day going through the massive pile of envelopes and shakes her head.

 

The storm finally blows through and almost in unison windows and doors start being opened, Jessy starting to take down her shutters when the all clear sounds. She's not the only one taking care of her own building, letting maintenance handle the other buildings. A rapping on the door has her grinning and handing Arthur the empty containers, he puts them on the cart and takes them around the back of the cafeteria, filling the commercial dishwasher with the first of three loads of them. He's putting them away when the employees who live in town start to arrive and they nod in satisfaction before pulling out more of the food they'd made ahead and putting it in the ovens to warm.

 

“How is everybody here?”

 

“Stir crazy from being cooped in so long. Listening to the wind and rain and flipping channels on the tv to find something to do rather than sit there waiting for the all clears.”

 

Jessy stands up in the middle of the cafeteria and whistles shrilly. “Yo, parents.”

 

The others look at her. “Scouting?”

 

“I've got some qualms about boy scouts, their stand on homosexuality. . .” Larry says. The others nod.

 

“Yeah, me too. But I was talking to one of the women in town, they have a 'branch' that is open to boys and girls, you can get badges in both groups, you can advance through the ranks like you would in the other groups. I put the information on the server. It's under scouting.”

 

“Thank you Jessy.” Rupert says when she sits down.

 

“Jessy, did you manage to get through your disbursement envelopes?” Rupert asks later that night.

 

“Yes, and they're expanding things again. . .now I'm getting gift cards with receipts. A few thousand dollars to Amazon with hundred dollar gift cards. . .I was very careful to keep the receipts with the cards after I added them to my account, you keep hearing horror stories about them closing out accounts with large gift card amounts and keeping the money citing fraud.”

 

Rupert nods.

 

“I'd be surprised to find out if they're not involved in mortgages.”

 

“It would be a perfect way to launder money and the interest would be added to the accounts.” Rupert sighs.

 

Larry looks at the website for their toll pass, adding some money to the corporate account that pays for all the cards that go in the vehicles. Rupert gets the notice of the transaction on his computer and he nods. “I was going to say we were probably getting low.”

 

“Yeah, thankfully we were able to get a corporate account that linked all the stickers and cars instead of everybody having to have their own.”

 

“Much more convenient this way.”

 

Faith looks over at the tinkling of the bell over the door and blinks once, twice, and then a third time. It's a woman. . .the height while right for a crossdresser are definitely all female. No surgery could get them. And the hair. . .it flows up over her head and down her back to barely brush the floor. She's reminded of an old country singer her Ma used to like before she started drinking to excess.

 

“Is this Jessy Michael's place?”

 

“Yes, it is. Can I help you?”

 

“Is she here, I got a job for her. Tell her it's Greta, she knows me.”

 

Faith taps on the office door and Jessy looks out, grinning. “Greta, what's up?”

 

“I'm enrolled at a private university that has uniforms. Skirts or shorts. And. . .” she motions at her long legs.

 

“Any ready-made skirts, shorts, and even slacks don't take your long legs into consideration.”

 

“Nope, the one school I attended the long skirt barely covered my underwear, the short skirt didn't even do that. And rather than deal with the hassle of having everything altered or made over while I'm there. . .”

 

“You're getting everything done now.”

 

“Yeah, Josette was laughing her ass off because I've got three masters. . .and I'm going for a doctorate. . .and I'm going to be starting a bachelors. But Dad's making her attend school too.” Greta smirks.

 

Jessy sniggers. “Think she'll finally pass algebra?”

 

“Nope.” Greta smirks. “Only because she's already warned the school there was no way in Hell would she be able to pass the class. I think the teachers are going to take it as a challenge.”

 

“Okay. Fabrics?” Greta rattles them off and then holds up a hand when Jubilee heads to the back room. “I got the fabrics in the van.”

 

Xander, who isn't even pretending he wasn't eavesdropping, Sam Guthrie, and Sam Winchester bring it into the other building. Greta looks at the door, sighs, and walks outside, coming in a few minutes later dragging Josette behind her. “If I gotta go through this, you gotta go through this.” I just give her a look and Jessy and the others snigger.

 

“Shoes?” Jessy asks when Greta stands on the circle to be measured.

 

“Flat heels. Loafers or tennis shoes depending on whether we're in a classroom or the gym.” Greta says absently. Jessy is looking over the patterns and drawing out new ones as Greta and by extension Josette's measurements are called out. In addition to uniforms they'll need specialty workout gear and once Greta is measured she goes over to look at the books of dresses, Josette firmly shakes her head.

 

“Ain't no fucking way are you getting me dressing up to attend some fancy party.” I snort.

 

“Dad says you're going to some of them.”

 

“I'll fucking wear regular clothes and make it look like I'm dressed up.” I say fervently. “Ain't no way in Hell I'm going to be stuck both at some place I don't want to be and wearing that shit.” I look over at Jessy. “Not that I don't care if you make it.”

 

Jessy just waves a hand. “I don't wear that shit any more than I have to either.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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