"Welcome to New York Ms. Danville."
"Is everybody settling back in?"
"Yes, and familiarizing themselves with the new machinery that was brought in when the lab was reopened. We've needed it for a while."
"But the city didn't want to spend the money on upgrades until now."
"Because they're trying to pretend the lab closure didn't happen. Or rather it closed to update the machinery, not because of a damn fool who didn't know what he was doing." Don snorts as he walks off the elevator, taking a deep breath and letting it out. "Ahhhh, it's good to be home."
"Jo Danville, Don Flack. One of the homicide detectives we work with often." Mac smiles.
"Who all is here?"
"Monroe is down the hall along with Adam. Sheldon is due in a couple hours late, he's picking up some people from the airport and taking them outside the city."
Jessy is yawning as she and Paige get off the plane and walk to the bathroom to freshen up a few minutes, by the time they get to the baggage claim area their flight is announced and they grab their bags. Jessy grins as a familiar figure waves at her. She nudges Paige and they head that way.
"Paige Guthrie, this is Dr. Sheldon Hawkes. . .he works with the house in New York."
"I joined the house after the mayor's son-in-law had the harebrained idea to close down my lab to save money. Everybody was left trying to find new jobs in the three months the lab was open because he also had the bright idea to get rid of shifts at the other labs as well as cutting positions so that techs were doing two or three jobs."
"And his magnificent changes ended up causing more problems than they should have fixed?" Paige snorts as she puts their bags in the trunk.
"Yep, the city ended up spending three times the money they would have saved moving boundary lines to cover the area the precinct covered and cars started getting to scenes ten to fifteen minutes later than they should have. When people started complaining hizzoner's son-in-law blubbered that he thought everything would work just fine. If he'd bothered to talk to people who knew what they were doing. . ."
"The lab would never have been shut down in the first place?"
"Exactly. He was stunned that precincts and labs weren't like fast food places and you can't just stick them anywhere you want."
"Are you back at the lab?"
"Yes, the house is letting both Mac and I work around our hours around the lab."
"Misters Caffrey and Burke know how long a case can take. And you're on the front lines as it were, by the time they got it. . ." Sheldon nods.
Paige looks around the grounds as they drive up to the house, Jessy and Sheldon pointing out the businesses that are doing brisk sales if the cars in the parking lots are any indication.
"Yes, it's something Mr. Caffrey added to the house that wasn't part of the original plans. It's doing good business." Sheldon says.
"Yep, Rupert's talking to town to see if there'd be any interest there."
"Why are we here?"
Jessy starts ticking items off her fingers. "Expo in a few days, before that I got to talk to the managers over some money of my father's that suddenly appeared." Sheldon snorts. "Yeah, if it was legit it would have shown up after his death, not nearly seven years later."
"Statute of limitations would have run out on most criminal activity by now."
"That's Rupert's thought too. I know he's been in talks with Mr. Burke and some of his former coworkers. I'm going to be attending a sale at a supplier and visiting the fashion school again to test out of several classes."
"And I'm here?"
"Rupert wants you visit various schools and get information for the library. Correction libraries. . .we're shipping similar packages to Vegas and Denver, in turn they're shipping to the other houses."
A week later Dexter Morgan smiles as he picks up Paige and Jessy from the airport.
"Another four hundred and fifty million dollars?" Rupert sighs when she puts everything down in front of him the next day.
"Yeah, along with a lifetime investment in a number of technically legal enterprises various places. A lot of real estate holdings, a couple casinos. . .stuff like that."
"I knew your father was. . ."
"As crooked as they come and he dropped to the level of shit he surrounded himself with. . .even as a kid. That's one of the reasons my grandparents disowned him. Personally, I think he was laundering money, running drugs, or something like that for years to have that much money to leave me. . .let alone the money he supposedly invested."
"Yep." Rupert looks through the file of businesses and whatnot Jessy has an interest in. "And it's not the first time crooks channeled their money into legitimate businesses."
A truck backs up to the storage area a week later, Jessy, Paige, and Dexter marking off items as the truck is emptied.
"Did you hear back on your tests?" Rupert asks after everything is put away.
"Before I left, I shaved three semesters off my degree. I'm a little over a year from finishing the degree. The rest of the classes I can't test out of, I have to take them in person. And they want me to take them by working with them for at least a year." Jessy waves a hand at the bookcases in her 'library' in the seamstress building that have more textbooks in them.
"There's nothing saying you can't. . .especially now." Rupert chuckles. "Your other degrees?"
"Xander and I have an appointment to take tests to test out of at least a year of classes before we sign up for our fall classes. Our advisors gave us handouts so we know what we'll be tested on and we've got the books. If we don't test out of them we'll have them for our classes." Rupert nods in satisfaction.
A month later Jessy and Xander settle in a room, a pile of tests in front of each of them. They each have a container of sharpened pencils in front of them and the proctor grins as they silently count the tests, wonder if this had been such a good idea after all, and sigh. The proctor chuckles. They'll do fine, that's why they were allowed to test out of their classes in the first time.
Several long hours later for them they finish the last test and Ryan chuckles, taking them to a restaurant for a meal they pounce on before taking them back to the House.
"How long will it take to hear about their tests?"
"At least two weeks. Neither of them need their grades before they sign up for their fall classes. How is Willow coming along?"
"She's going to be talking to her advisor this fall and plans on presenting her thesis next summer."
Three weeks later Jessy and Xander come back from signing up for their fall classes, getting their books and picking up other supplies at an office supply store. Rupert smiles as he waves letters at them and they sigh, taking the letters and slowly opening them.
"Wellll?" He finally asks.
"Passed them all, I'll be 'officially' three years in next spring and the school wants me to work with them during the summer." Xander says.
"Same here, I've officially tested out of all the library science classes and can sign up for grad school when they start accepting applications. I'll put it off a year since I've got a year and some for my fashion degree and still have the business degree."
Jessy snorts at a letter she drops in the garbage a couple days later. "Nooooooo, I'm not traumatized by my darling mother's untimely murder in prison and I'm not contacting you so you can sue the prison for an accident and take a huge chunk of anything you'd get me."
"Ambulance chasers." Jenny says.
"Exactly. They're looking to make a quick buck. They expect me to be like my mother and run to them to make money."
The first day of classes finds Xander and Jessy settling in the library on computers to start their second year of classes.
"Are you into the early business classes?"
"I will be next spring."
Jessy turns to look at Rupert. "You got a certified letter that I signed for." She takes the envelope. "New York?"
Rupert takes the envelope and opens it. A slip falls out of the letter and Xander looks at it. "It's a certified check."
"Why?" Jessy says.
"There's a single line on the page. 'We're sorry about the loss of your mother'."
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." Xander picks up the check. "This is a lot of money."
Rupert looks at the check and takes it. "Yes it is, I'll put this in my safe until you can deposit it."
Jessy looks at the check and sighs. "It can go in the CD with the money I got from the life insurance, we set it up to accept future depsosits when she found out what the money was from."
Rupert nods. "That's why you had all the lawyers trying to get you to sue, they know it's going to be a big settlement and wanted their piece of the pie."
Jessy snorts. "More like they want to give me a piece of the pie and keep the rest for themselves."
Rupert and Xander nod. Rupert locks the letter and check in his safe. He has the feeling this is going to be the first of many.
By the time of midterms three more mystery checks have arrived as well as expected payouts of insurance money from the company that owned the truck that had been arriving at the laundry and the state of California.
Rupert, Michael, Horatio, Ryan, and Dexter look at each other in his office late that night.
"Gentlemen, I know everybody has been looking into the situation. Was it an accident?"
"Probably not, there's rumors that the brakes were tampered with. . .making them look like they failed naturally. But there's no way to know for sure since the brake lines were rotten and fell apart in the mechanic's hands. If it was a setup though. . .who was the target? According to everything Jessy's mother was running late for her shift at the laundry. There were other inmates hurt in the accident, were they one of the targets?"
"And we only have the word of the lawyers trying to get Jessy to sue saying it was murder. And they're only saying it to try to get her to sue."
"They're the same people who are saying the brakes were tampered with. . .at least until the owners of the truck slapped them with a slander lawsuit. Now. ..the fact that Jessy is getting checks does make all of us suspicious but. . ."
"There's no way to say one way or the other."
"Everybody at the prison hated her mother and there's more than a few gang affiliations even if there's no actual gang members."
"Tests?" Rupert asks when Jessy and Xander come into the cafeteria a couple days later.
"B plus/A minus range." Xander says.
"A-/A range." Jessy says around a yawn, they're well in the hurricane season and rain in pouring down from the latest brush against the coast. Miami had been evacuated and the television in the cafeteria is showing the packed roads as people wait until the last damn second to leave. As usual.
"Is this going to delay your schooling?" One of the cooks asks.
"No, we can pick up extra classes online while the school is closed. Unless there's major damage they should be reopening in a week or so. The students taking classes at the school will have a shorter semester, teachers will have to get more things into their lectures to make up for the missed classes. Students at the school know there's a chance that their education might be disrupted for a couple weeks during hurricane season, this is a prime example where taking the classes online is better."
"Students should know their educations might be interrupted during hurricane season. It's the downside of taking classes in the area." Joyce says. Everybody nods.
"Same with students who live in the snow belt knowing they might be missing classes thanks to bad storms."
"And by now it's your jobs to get your work done so you're on track when school starts up again." One of the cooks says. Everybody in earshot nods.
Xander and Jessy shake their heads as they listen to the news in their workrooms before they get started on projects.
"Your school I take it?" Illyana asks from the front room.
"Yep." The school had taken severe wind damage to a number of buildings and wouldn't be reopening for the rest of the school year. "We should be getting letters in the mail shortly reminding students it's their job to finish their classes online. If they can."
"Some degrees you couldn't. They're more hands-on." Joyce says with a nod behind Illyana. "You, Willow, Harmony, and Xander?"
"Willow can easily switch to the computer for the rest of her classes. She might have to wait to present her thesis but there should be a number to call on the letter. To find out if your program can be accessed online, to find out if they'll be open to buy the books for the next semester or if you'll have to buy them online. . .all that goody good stuff. Harmony's already taking her classes online, the teacher who would have been teaching at the school's university center is on sabbatical for a year writing another book."
"Good lord people, you know you're in a hurricane area. . .why weren't your buildings up to hurricane standards?" Rupert mutters as he listens to the news.
"They were grandfathered in and the school figured it would be cheaper to cross their fingers and hope nothing ever happened." Jessy snorts as she puts a tray down across from him in the cafeteria. "I hope the new construction was up to standards."
"It appears to have fared better than some of the other buildings on campus. Though not all of them were damaged."
"They were worked on over the years according to Willow, you could tell which ones hadn't by the damage. This time the board will have to get off their asses and bring the rest of the buildings up to code."
The letters arrive a couple days later, Rupert looking at his children.
"My classes weren't affected."
"Yes, I can switch to the computer." Willow says. "While we can't take classes at the school until next fall at the earliest we can sign up for classes, get our books and supplies and those students in grad school who are signed up to present theses or defend dissertations still can."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"I was going to get one next semester. My thesis is nearly done but I wanted to talk to my advisor before I took that final step." Rupert, Joyce, and Jenny nod in satisfaction. These four were the only ones currently taking classes at that school, the others had either graduated or were attending other schools in the area.
"Are you going to losing work prom season?"
"No, most schools weren't that badly damaged or were up to hurricane standards. It was just our bad luck that our school was in the area that got a glancing blow. I'm sure the board has their hands out to the government blubbering about an act of god so they don't have to pay."
"Not if the school wasn't up to hurricane standards." One of the House's lawyers snorts. "The government will bring in inspectors and they'll have to pay for the repairs and bring the buildings up to standards or lose all their federal funding. They've done it before."
"Jeezus." Jessy moans as she looks around the room Rupert had brought her into after her finals and buying the books and supplies for the next semester's classes. "What is this place?"
"This is what your choker would have linked to to bring you back if you used it in Philadelphia." Rupert brings something out of a box on a chain he puts around Jessy's neck. "Don't take this off except to bathe for ten days, it will take that long to bond to you. And now. . .Let's go on a little trip."
Jessy slumps into a chair in the front room of the House a couple days later to the rest of the world but years later for her after going to the bank in town.
"Jessy?" Rupert looks at her from the doorway of his office.
"Went into town to deposit the judgment from the police department in Philadelphia. The officers involved got reprimands in their permanent records and everybody knows what kinds of fools they are now. They'll never have the type of power they had before, all their cases are double and triple checked, and they're off the promotion list for a few years, if not life. In return I didn't demand they be fired and they're bringing in more detectives to weed out the good old boy network."
"That above all says it's been needed for a while." Joyce snorts.
"Yep, it was only them going after me that got them more attention than they wanted. Anybody else they swept it under the rug. Or turned it around somehow."
"Yeah, blame the victim seems to be a favorite game for some police forces."
"Because they know they'll get away with it. Even if they do get charged like in the police shootings they never get convicted."
"Indeed, the only conviction was for the lesser federal charges in that one case and that was only on a plea bargain."
"Yes they wonder why the general public doesn't like police. Ours excepted."
"Yes, but even with ours there's bad seeds. That's why there are IA bureaus."
"Not that they do a lot to curb bad cops. They're always stunned to hear about bad cops when it hits the news."
"While according to the other officers everybody knew they were crooked."
"But nobody did anything." Joyce snorts.
Rupert looks at Joyce and Jenny later that night. "A word of warning, morons in DC are whining about me not opening a house for them again."
"Oh of course. . .because Congress is so damn special."
"Yep, they can't believe we won't jump to open a house there. Because we already showed we'd open new branches."
True to Rupert's warning there's numerous calls over the next week, first demanding they drop everything and work on a house for them. That gets them hung up on. Then they try wheedling, telling them if they build a house we'll. . . That too is ignored. They try pleading then and when that doesn't work the threats come out. That results in them getting slapped upside the head by their bosses and told to grow the hell up.
"But they're opening new houses. . .why won't they open one for us." they whine.
"Because they don't want to and they don't have to."
If Cordy, Xander, and Jessy are quiet over Christmas everybody understands and hugs are passed around almost every time they enter a room.
"Have you got any orders from my friends?" Cordy asks as she puts down her tray.
"Yes, three so far. I finished the last one just before we shut the building down for Christmas. He just grinned at me and said he'd see me after he got back from a cruise with his family."
"Yeah, he's been complaining about that trip for a while. It's one of those ones that go multiple places and you're on the ship nearly a month."
"Christ, I don't know if I'd be able to handle that long a cruise. I went on some with my parents before I was diagnosed with RA and I was bored to tears and they were only a few days. Which my mother wailed about because she wanted to be gone longer but my father said he couldn't be away that long. If she hadn't been so damn greedy they could have gone on one of those damn long cruises once he retired. Not that he would have retired." Rupert nods.
After the first of the year Jessy, Xander, and Andrew go into Miami, Andrew following Jessy around the fabric warehouse since it's a cold wet day and those still make her ache. They go to a comic book store next and Xander chuckles at the bags they both carry out.
"Done, I got the stuff for maintenance and what I could get here. I'll put in the order for the other stuff when we get home."
"Are you going out to the school in New York again this summer?"
"If not at least visiting the supplier. The school agrees that my other classes come first. I'm not the only one going for a dual degree . . .just the only one who's not in New York."
"Rupert already plans on you going out a week after your classes are done, I'm taking a summer internship with somebody he knows so I'm flying out with you. He figures on us both being back in time for you guys to buy your books and supplies for your fall classes." Andrew says. "He wanted to talk to you in a couple days, he's already got plans for you to attend a couple expos in New York and the guy I'm going to be interning with is used to geeks vanishing when a new movie comes out or for comicons. All we need to do is fill out paperwork for those days."
Rupert nods as he comes into the room where Jessy's supplies are being brought off the truck. He looks at her.
"They're having a special sale at the supplier, otherwise I'd have gone in closer to prom season. But this way I could stock up stuff that was being cleared out for the next great thing. That will flop miserably."
Xander snorts. "Just like second hand stores had a lot of donations after Christmas."
"Yep, and stores cleared out holiday stuff."
The following week they settle in their usual spots in the library, signing into their new classes. A few days later Mr. Murdock shows back up at the House to go over their finances, this time Xander having Rupert sit in on it too.
One nice weekend they park the bus by their party boat, everybody trooping on with food that goes in the large galley before they cast off and start going out on the water. Several miles out they drop anchor and everybody gets settled in swimsuits or less, putting on sunscreen and getting comfortable.
Jessy and the others she brought out to the seamstress building for the girls who start flooding the building start putting together containers. The flood of orders ends after a couple days and Jessy heads into town to deposit all the cash and checks and replace the supplies used for the dresses. A few new items are coming out and she fills the truck.
Rupert chuckles as she slumps into a seat in the cafeteria.
"Get everything replaced you used?"
"Yes, as well as some new stuff just coming out. I'll put in an order with the suppliers tomorrow. Look at these," Jessy hands him pamphlets. "They've got new machines coming out."
"Yours see a lot of work." Rupert agrees. "You should have extras on hand. Do you have orders for quilts?"
"Yeah, Jack contacted me the other day and he ordered three dozen in various sizes. I know he put in an order for more soap. He was amused by the labels. .. he said Owen bitched for days when he saw his soap."
"Which is why he asked for that label for Owen's soap." Harmony snorts down the table. "Jessy, I'm attending the textbook expo with you, my teacher is going to be there to talk about his new book with some others." Jessy nods since she's got a mouthful of food.
They fly off to DC a couple weeks later, arriving at the hotel to find everybody up in arms and a clerk sighing behind the desk.
"What's going on?"
"Somebody screwed up and canceled aaaaaaaalllllll our reservations because they got the date wrong and thought we didn't show up."
"All the reservations?"
"Yes, they gave everything to another group. In an attempt to recoup some of their losses."
"Which weren't losses since it hadn't happened yet?"
"Yep, the manager is in his office trying to figure out which genius in computer services cancelled all the reservations and if it was just an accident or an attempt to steal them from us. Meanwhile somebody else is frantically trying to find room for either them or us. And desperately not having to try to pay back our deposits. They swear we can come back another time and use our deposits. . . "
"Why would we come back?" Somebody snorts behind Jessy and Harmony. "They already screwed up our reservations once. Why give them a second chance."
"Are you stupid Lady?" A police officer asks the woman coming in for her shift who'd called trying to get them to clear out of hotel lobby. "They made reservations to stay here. Have you refunded anybody their money?"
"Nooooooo." She wails. The others had told her what had happened and she'd been so sure she could get the police to make them leave.
"Then they have every legal right to be here." He snorts. "Find them rooms somewhere or refund their money."
"But they could come back another time." There, they'll have to leave now.
"Why the hell would they come back? They have reservations, that trumps somebody just coming in off the street."
"But their reservations were canceled."
"Not by them, that means you still owe them their rooms."
"Yes it does, start checking them in. If the other group ever appears they can take the conference center a couple blocks away, the hotel isn't open officially but they'll take them." A man says, coming out of an office. "I don't believe they're going to be showing up, somebody from the group would have been here by now. Corporate believes the reservation system was hacked, they're looking into it now."
"Not the first time somebody has hacked to cause problems." Somebody snorts as they start lining up to check in and be given room keys, apologies, and an additional fifteen percent off their bills for the problems. The woman who'd tried getting them removed wails like a siren until she's told to shut the fuck up and either get to work or be fired.
"So that's it Rupert, we finally got in our rooms. Jessy's soaking right now and we're going to be going out to dinner." Harmony says on the phone.
"Did the other group ever show up?" Rupert asks a couple nights later. Jessy is in their room alone since Harmony is in a meeting with her teacher.
"No, which makes everybody think it was hackers out to cause problems."
Rupert looks at the receipt Jessy hands him when they return to the House. "Seven boxes, not as bad as Vegas since there were less new books debuting. Most of them were reprints of old books that hadn't changed." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "How are we on supplies for the library?"
"Good, I tripled my usual order after Vegas and doubled my usual order before we left so I'd have extra." Rupert nods in satisfaction. "Quilts?"
"Going well. Jack knew when he ordered them it would be a while."
"How was the expo?"
"Hell, that stupid woman who wanted us to come back would not leave us the hell alone. She had the police come in because nobody buys textbooks. She got her ass handed to her by the manager for that, she tried having all of us arrested for being in the banquet room we reserved for the first and last night of the expo."
"What a useless bitch." Joyce says.
"Yes, rumor is she was behind the cancellation of the expo's reservations. She was trying to get the owners to sell at a loss by ruining the hotel."
"That makes sense, otherwise she'd just be a miserable bitch who should have been drowned at birth."
"Amen." Jessy starts sorting through her mail. "She wanted all of us to come back. . .probably after her friends owned the hotel so the money went to her. Unfortunately for her the owners of the hotel realized what was going on and refused to sell."
Jessy looks at the quilts in various stages of construction when she walks in the seamstress building, everybody looking up and smiling at her before going back to work.
"Who's that?" a customer asks.
"Jessy Michaels. . .the boss." Cordelia's friend chuckles.
"Yep, she was off on a expo since she also runs the library on the grounds." Paige says. They turn back to look at the fabric as Jessy goes into the storeroom, nodding in satisfaction at the updated list on the clipboard.
Finals comes faster than they thought it would and Jessy puts her books up for the summer. Harmony rolls her head on her shoulders. "Have you heard the latest on the island?"
"The purchase went through and Rupert's heading off in a couple days to inspect it. An organic farm is in talks with him about growing on the island."
"How do they handle power?"
"Solar panels to provide energy and hot water, all the buildings have batteries since they're not on the main grid. Damn near every building on the main islands have solar panels to provide power or warm the water."
"Sending power back up the grid?"
"Yes, though while I was out there they were wanting people not to send it up the grid so more houses are having batteries installed to store the power."
"What about in bad weather?"
"Generators for the couple of hours if the batteries are drained or it's cloudy and the solar panels aren't providing enough energy that day. On the main islands they'd be buying power those times." Harmony says. In the doorway Rupert nods. "Is everybody done now?"
"Yeah, Xander was the last one to finish his tests."
"Have you heard anything about the school not opening this fall?"
"Yes," Jessy sighs. "The school is bleating they shouldn't have to update the buildings to the new standards so they're suing saying they should just put the buildings back the way they were. The government is saying oh yes you do."
"Anybody else would realize how damn foolish it is not to be up to hurricane standards already."
"That makes sense," Harmony snorts. "The board is just out to save money. I mean. . .hello, they only have one professor and the rest are TAs for my program. Because hiring more teachers would bust their precious budget."
"Don't they have insurance?"
"Won't pay out because they say the damage is their fault for not being up to hurricane standards."
"About time to throw the board out and bring in people with sense."
"We had people with sense in charge before but they got replaced with these morons in a closed door meeting. I'm sure there's going to be hell to pay if this makes the media."
True to Harmony's word it's in all the papers when Andrew and Jessy are dropped off at the airport. The now former board has been fired and are whining about how they were just turning the school around .. .they weren't making enough money. The old board was actually going to update all the buildings and they didn't need it.
"Asshole, if anybody had been hurt they'd have been facing criminal charges." Jessy says as they stand up to board the flight.
Mac Taylor smiles as Andrew pushes the cart of bags out of the baggage claim area, putting them in the back and smiling as Andrew helps Jessy up into the seat. They drop him off first and help him get settled in the intern housing before heading out to the New York House.
Three months later Jessy slumps into a chair at the Miami House. "Please tell me you didn't work all the time."
"Nope, we went places. Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, DC to the smithsonian, expos. . ." Jessy looks around. "In one of my new bags is tons of photos. Even with all the traveling I still finished more than a semester of classes. I'm now over three years into the degree and they're talking about me taking a second one, that one the history of textiles."
Joyce nods in satisfaction.
Xander, Harmony, and Jessy shake their heads as they look around the school when they go in to get their books for this fall.
"They'll be working on the repairs for a while."
"Yep, I'm sure there'll be asswipes whining about the air conditioning being off while they take out the windows."
"Of course they will, then they'll be all 'oh' when they realize all the cold air would go right out the fucking big hole in the wall." A man snorts nearby.
"Amen." Another person snorts.
"Are you all on track to start your classes at the school?" Rupert asks when they return to the house.
"My name is Alexander Harris, I own my own business doing woodwork." Xander says in the classroom as he takes his first business class at the school. "I'm dual-enrolled, I'm three years into a woodworking degree thanks to testing out of classes and working here at the school over the summer." He nudges Jessy who's busy sketching. She swats at him. "this is Jessy Michaels, she works at the same place I do, but while I do woodworking she is a seamstress, she's three years into a fashion degree. . .the school doesn't offer it here yet but she spent the summer in New York working at the main school. She's also finished a degree in libary science here, tesing out of two years of classes since she is in charge of the library where we work."
"I thought you said she was a seamstress?" A woman asks.
"I am." Jessy says, finishing the sketch and looking up. "If anybody has teenage girls who went to Hurricane Springs for their prom or graduation dresses, they probably got them from me."
"I thought I recognized you Ms. Michaels." The teacher chuckles. Jessy looks up at him. "You're the father of the triplets."
"Yes, and thank you for finding dresses all three of them liked. And more importantly I liked." Jessy chuckles.
"You run a library and are a seamstress?"
"Our boss has his fingers in a lot of pies, a lot of us work in more than one area. In addition to our businesses, we have leatherworkers, soap, candles, and cheesemaking buildings."
The teacher chuckles and starts to lecture as the few younger students who'd been grumbling about old people in their class hush up and realize there's a reason why they have their own businesses. The smart ones anyway, the dumb ones complain at home and get the stupidity beaten out of them by their parents.
Back at the house Xander and Jessy check their mail and head to the cafeteria.
"How was your first day of classes at the school? Better than on the computer?"
"Computer is more convenient but you don't have the teacher and other students."
"Which isn't always a good thing, a good half of the students are too fucking stupid to live." Harmony snorts down the table. "But they're young and Mommy and Daddy told them they're special. They never had to work for anything. Once they're asked to leave the school for failing all their classes they'll have to and realize they should have listened to their parents."
"Some people are just born stupid." One of the cooks says.
The next couple months pass quickly and Jessy finishes her midterms in the business class, handing it in then pulling another textbook out to look through. The teacher chuckles softly, he knows she and Xander are riding together. And he's still taking his test. Ten minutes later Xander pokes Jessy and she marks her place as he hands up his test and grabs his bag. "From the fashion school?" He asks once they're in the car.
"Yeah, one of the history texts for the degree they want to start next fall." Jessy moans as the lights in the buildings go out. "Another fucking blackout?" The lights start coming on a second later as generators kick into life.
"Looks like it, even with all the new power plants there's still a huge strain on the grid." The going is slow until they get on the on-ramp since all the street lights are out. The electronic signs are out too but they have the car's GPS to keep them on track. The people at the guardhouse sigh when they pull up. "You two were the only ones out."
"We were just in the car when the lights went out. Any news?"
"Usual statement. ..they don't know what happened or when it will come back on." Dexter says as they park the car and he drives them up to the main house. Jenny sighs in relief when they walk inside.
"Good, I was hoping you were out of class when the power went out."
"Just had got in the car when it went out, thankfully all the lights in the parking lot are solared panel dusk to dawn lights. Which the old board whined about. . .they swore they wouldn't be needed."
Jenny snorts, this is the third blackout in two months. "Everybody who can create alternate power is thanks to the damn blackouts and the damn government is no closer to figuring out what is happening then they were."
"Rationing power? Are you fucking stupid?" the president asks one of his advisors the next day.
"But if you shut down power during the day. . ."
"Everybody will be flooding the system when it's dark and they turn on lights. And it's nearly winter, people will need heat."
"What if we make it like alternate side of the street parking, switching power every few days?"
"No. Find a real solution. . .not these damn pipe dreams. I'm not telling the taxpayers to suck it up and get used to being without power for days at a time. It's nearly November people, winter's going to be here in several weeks and they'll need heat. And they'll need electricity for that heat. . .to turn the damn furnace on if nothing else. No power would also lead to freezing pipes. There's buildings that need uninterrupted power. Let alone food spoiling thanks to refrigerators without power."
"But if we make it unilateral so everybody is losing power part of the time nobody will be upset." The advisor tries again.
"Find.A.Real.Solution.To.The.Power.Problem." The president says through gritted teeth. "Nobody is losing their power due to rationing."
"But if we don't start cutting power the whole grid will collapse within ten years. We're putting too much power through it. You've got to let us start shutting plants down."
"Did you get your remaining midterms taken?" the school is still shut down thanks to the power outage. Jenny asks Jessy as she comes up to her table.
"Yes, we took them on the computer like hopefully most of the students were able to. Otherwise they'll have to make them up at the office."
"Fools." Rupert says as he comes into the cafeteria. Jenny looks over at him. "The so-called experts in DC want to start rationing power because we're putting too much through the grid."
"Isn't that why we put up the power plant. . .because we needed the power?" Joyce rolls her eyes.
"Yes, as well as the other new plants. At first they wanted to cut power during the day when the demand was lesser but it would shoot up at night when people start turning on lights, ovens, tvs. . ."
"If you don't have power, all your food's going to go bad."
"Not here, but New York and Colorado need power during winter for heat."
"Yes, they're pouting that they're not being allowed to shut down plants. I'm sure the prison system would love to get the notice they're not getting power for a few days. The morons would whine they didn't know prisoners would escape if the cells didn't lock because of a power outage."
"Or hospitals lose power during an emergency. . .probably caused by the power going out."
"Yep. They didn't think about how many people need power all the time."
True to Rupert's words there's wailing in DC as the so-called experts realize just how many people need uninterrupted power. They'd been so sure that they could talk the President into doing that they wanted but he had real experts brought in who called them damn fools.
The school is back open the following week, more than a few students heading to the office to make up their midterms. They get their grades back in their classes and nod in satisfaction.
Rupert looks at them when they return. "Solid B+/A- range."
"A-/A range. We'll both make the honor rolls again."
"Have you signed up for your Library Masters yet?"
"Yes, though I doubt I'll get in right away. Did Willow get her masters?"
"Yes." Willow had had an appointment before the power outage to present her thesis.
The rest of the semester passes and after her finals Jessy takes inventory of the sewing building for the next year, putting in an order and dropping the receipt on Larry's desk.
"Get your grades?"
"Yep, we all made the dean's list again."
"I heard there was some problems at the school?"
"Yes, the business school advisor had started talking to some of the students about graduate school. One little shit had a fit and fell in it because he wasn't invited to a 'meeting' talking about grad school attended by some of the other students. He'd tell his Daddy about 'That', he was wich and somebody would be in twouble." Jessy says in a sing-song voice.
"Oh Christ." Larry says. "Living proof some people never grow up. For all that you're supposed to have become an adult by now, some people still go running home to Mommy and Daddy when they don't get what they think they deserve. They usually end up dropping out."
"Yep, the little shit was bluntly told the reason he wasn't invited because there was no way in hell he'd be accepted to grad school, he was already on academic probation and was in danger of failing his classes. He still had a fit and somebody at the grad school tried banning the people who attended the meeting from the school, saying their applications would be automatically denied and if they were found on the school grounds they'd be removed by security because they were trespassing."
"Isn't the grad school grounds and the undergrad school grounds the same school grounds?" Larry snorts.
"Yes, calmer heads called them damn fools and the moron who'd been prancing around like a peacock because he was the man got the stupidity slapped out of him by his parents and the teachers."
"Hopefully literally in his parents case." Rupert snorts.
"Yep, because Daddy ain't as rich or powerful as he thinks he is."
"Is he still a student?"
"Nope, he failed his classes and the school 'regretfully' let him go. Little shit was already on academic probation and his parents had told him to straighten up."
"And he didn't." Rupert sighs.
"Of course not, now he's working a minimum wage job instead of sitting on his ass in the cushy job Daddy was going to give him once he got his degree."
"Serves the stupid little shit right." Joyce snorts from the doorway. "I'd say maybe it would make the brat grow up but those kind never do." She comes into the room and drops paper on Larry's desk. "The inventory and orders." Rupert nods as Larry files everything.
"Is everybody gone?"
"Who were leaving, Willow was the last one to fly out."
"Has anybody heard rumors about local governments passing laws to have people stop sending power back to the grid?" Larry asks at dinner that night.
"I heard similar rumors, but it was the federal government in my case and they were doing it to try to lessen power flowing through the grid." Jessy says. Larry nods. "Supposedly there was going to be tax breaks for people to install batteries to store the power at their home for their own use,"
"With only limited power drain when those went dry." Rupert nods. "But they wouldn't work very well in places that get a lot of winter weather. That's why they're doing that in Hawaii."
Joyce nods. "Hawaii, California, Nevada, and here in Florida it would work better than the Denver or New York houses."