|Love's Sweet Charity
Author: Commander PM
Bubbles, in an attempt to toughen up, is spending her afternoons at the Townsville prison. But she finds that, perhaps, the villains need softening more than she needs toughening. Mojo/Bubbles MoBubsRated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Bubbles & Mojo Jojo - Chapters: 5 - Words: 16,344 - Reviews: 62 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 36 - Updated: 08-16-11 - Published: 08-18-07 - id: 3731896
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Bubbles had flown out of school yet again. In tears.
She had been standing in the lunch line, her tray half-full. It was vegetable soup that day, one of Bubbles' favorites. The only thing that could make that better was diced pears… and guess what the fruit of the day was? Smiling her customary happy smile, Bubbles held out her tray for the lunch lady to dispense said pears…
…when two boys behind her, playfully joking with each other, suddenly fell into her. With a clatter and a splash, Bubbles was suddenly drenched in her soup, her tray dropped to the floor. Behind her in line, a couple of kids started to giggle.
Bubbles' lips quivered for just a second before she tore out of the cafeteria, sobbing.
"Bubbles!" a sympathetic yet harsh voice shouted after her. It was Blossom. In that good sisterly way of hers, she understood Bubbles' mortification, and yet running out of the room wasn't going to score good points with the teachers on duty.
Or running out of the building and flying to the roof, still crying from embarrassment.
She was embarrassed that she had been laughed at, that her clothes were ruined, that she made it so that the janitors had a big mess to clean up, but she was more embarrassed that she was crying about it. But her embarrassment at her crying made her cry even more. A never-ending cycle.
It would have been embarrassing enough if she was in elementary school, but no.
Bubbles was seventeen years old.
She stayed up there the whole day.
She couldn't go home. The Professor was there and would have made her go back to school. And she couldn't show her face back in school that day. So she just sat on the roof, sheltered from sight from anyone standing on the ground, sniffling away tears only to begin crying again.
But finally, the final bell rang and she could hear people leaving school. Bubbles stretched out her leg, about to stand up in preparation to come home, but stopped when she heard two familiar voices float up to her ears.
"Are you serious? She wasn't in any of your classes?"
"Why are you so surprised, Blossom? You know the way she acts. Every little mortification makes her run away from school and bawl for about five hours straight."
"She can't keep doing this, Buttercup." Blossom sounded more disappointed than mad, which almost started Bubbles' tears again. "She can't keep running away from every little thing that upsets her. She needs to grow up."
"I'm worried about her," said Buttercup, sounding unusually concerned. "Someday someone's really going to hurt her, and she'll just collapse. She can't even handle getting food on her clothes. She has that trusting, optimistic nature, and some day someone's going to take advantage of that and really hurt her!"
"Break her heart, you mean," said Blossom.
"I didn't want to say it, but yes! You know how she is always getting all googly-eyed and thinking about the perfect boyfriend she's going to fall in love with some day. Some creep's going to take advantage of her. She always assumes the best in everyone."
"And then he'll give her a reality check, and it'll kill her," sighed Blossom. "You know, it's a darn good thing she hasn't started dating yet—well, that's because she's still like a twelve-year-old, shy around boys—"
"We can't protect her forever."
"We? What do you mean, we?"
"You and the Professor—and I'll admit, me too—keep trying to shelter Bubbles from the rest of the world!"
"Of course! We just said it—even the slightest mishap completely crushes her!"
"But we can't keep this up! She's not a child anymore, Blossom."
"…You're right, Buttercup."
Bubbles winced at the way Blossom had sighed those words out.
She heard her sisters fly off, but instead of joining them, she merely pressed her hands against her ears, not wanting to hear any more of their conversation. But she knew they were right. She did act like a twelve-year-old—and that was on her best days! Blossom and Buttercup seemed to think that Bubbles didn't know what she was like—but she did!
Can you still be completely innocent if you realize that you're innocent? Can you be innocent if you know the meaning of the word "innocent"?
Bubbles pulled her knees to her chest tightly. It wasn't like she liked who she was! She hated how she cried at everything, how people would treat her like a child! She knew she had to change…
"But I don't know how," she whispered.
Could anyone know how, she wondered? Did anyone ever say, "I need to grow up," then do so? Even if she could, she didn't know exactly what it would take to make her "grow up". To make her just as mature as Blossom and Buttercup.
Well. Maybe they knew.
Wiping away her tears with determination, Bubbles stood up and flew off the roof of the school, following her sisters home.
Bubbles could hardly stand to look at Blossom, Buttercup, and the Professor, at the way they sighed and shook their heads at her, at how disappointed they were with her.
"Your actions were very irresponsible," Blossom finally said, in her most authoritative voice.
"I know," whispered Bubbles.
"If you know, then why do you keep doing things like this?" Buttercup erupted. "You pull stunts like this all the time! I mean, for God's sake, Bubbles, you're not five years old anymore!"
"I know!" Bubbles' voice was louder this time.
"Now, Buttercup, you don't have to get nasty," said the Professor sternly.
"But what else will work with Bubbles?" sighed Blossom. "It seems the only way for you to stop being such a baby is to…" She left her statement unfinished, her eyes sad.
"I don't like who I am," said Bubbles. "I don't like how I cry at everything. And I know you're right. I need to toughen up. But I don't know how. How did you girls get tough? You've been tough for our entire lives, it seems. I think you girls are the only ones who can help me."
Blossom shook her head. "Bubbles, the process of maturing is a different one for each person, a process that she can only find out for herself. What makes one person mature might have no effect on another."
"And you're proof of that," said Buttercup to Bubbles. "I think one of the first things that really changed the way I thought about the world was when we found out that Mojo was just using us. And when I found out Ace was just using me too, then that cemented it."
"But… but like Blossom said, what Mojo did didn't affect me." Bubbles looked at Blossom. "What do you think changed you from a kid to an adult?"
Blossom jerked back a bit. "Uh, well, it was…" she stammered nervously.
"What?" demanded Bubbles, Buttercup, and the Professor.
"It's not something I would recommend you doing," sighed Blossom, "but it was when I stole those golf clubs and had to do community service. It…" Blossom shuffled her feet in an ashamed manner. "It made me realize that the whole world didn't revolve around me and my reputation."
"That won't work for me either," sighed Bubbles. "I'm not going to commit a crime, even if it would make me mature!"
"And that's not the thing about you that needs changing, either," said Buttercup. "You're not as selfish as Blossom was… and still is."
"Watch it," growled Blossom.
Buttercup ignored Blossom. "What you need is—"
"—to learn that the world isn't always a good place, so much that I get used to it and don't cry whenever anything bad happens!" Bubbles shrieked.
There was an uncomfortable silence.
"Because I know," she whispered, "I know that there are bad people out there, but I can never see that. I see a good person in everyone. I heard you girls talking after school and you're right. The only way to make me really, really accept the truth is for me to get hurt."
"Bubbles, I don't think you need to go that far," said the Professor, his eyes wide with worry. "There is nothing in the world that requires you to—"
"Professor, this is important to me!" Bubbles interrupted. "I don't want to be this way for the rest of my life!"
"But people change gradually, Bubbles," said the Professor, with a sternness that masked his parental worry. "I don't want to see you get needlessly hurt for something that's bound to happen anyway."
"Professor," said Blossom slowly, "I'm just as adverse to the idea of Bubbles getting hurt as you are, and I agree with you that change usually comes slowly… but if twelve years of crimefighting haven't turned Bubbles into an adult, what will?"
"That's the question," muttered Buttercup. "What will change her? Maybe nothing will. Why bother, then? I mean, Bubbles is the joy and the laughter. Maybe that's just who she's supposed to be and nothing can change that."
"There's got to be something," whimpered Bubbles.
"She could…" Blossom began, but then stopped herself.
"What?" demanded Bubbles.
"Bubbles, you said you see the good in everyone, right?" said Blossom.
"Yes," nodded Bubbles in confusion.
"Well… I think you're right, you do have to learn to see the bad in people too, and the best place where you can get to know bad people is…" Blossom gulped. "Prison."
"What?!" gasped the Professor.
"You've got to be kidding me!" cried Buttercup.
"I'll do it!" Bubbles said quickly.
"Absolutely not!" said the Professor. "I will not allow you to spend your free time in jail!"
"Why not?" asked Blossom, apparently surprising the Professor, for he gave her a look of confusion. "I mean, we beat up villains all the time. We're the ones who put them in jail. So why can't Bubbles spend more time with them? Not only will it help her, but it might help them out too, to see a caring person there."
"But…" The Professor stammered. "Everyone in that prison will have feelings of animosity towards you!"
"They always do," shrugged Bubbles. "I'm used to it. Besides, I'm a Powerpuff Girl. I can handle them."
The Professor stood up from the couch, pacing back and forth. "I don't know, Bubbles, I just have a bad feeling about this…"
"You're supposed to," said Buttercup curtly. "What else will get Bubbles to change?"
"She'll be under the surveillance of the prison guards," Blossom pointed out. "The inmates probably aren't apt to try any funny business under their watch."
"Please, Professor, please let me do this," Bubbles pleaded. "For three hours each day. That's all I ask. I'll go straight after school, and I'll be back home by 6:30. Please let me do this. I… I don't want to be a child anymore."
The Professor turned to Bubbles, intending to say no. No, no, no, there was no way she was going to spend her free time at jail, around Townsville's roughest inhabitants, practically asking any one of them to destroy her. But he saw her pleading eyes, huge and sorrowful, eyes that looked like they belonged on a seven-year-old rather than a seventeen-year-old.
"Alright," he finally sighed.
"I'm just sayin', Bubbles, people listen to ya, and…"
"I understand, but I can't do what you're asking me to do."
"Just put in a good word with the warden! One good word, that's all we're askin'. Please, Bubbles!"
Bubbles smiled apologetically. "Boys, you know I'd love to help you… but you have to commit a crime before being arrested."
"Darn technicalities!" cried Bossman of the Amoeba Boys angrily. "Can't you just let us in and look?"
"D'ah, jus' let us stand in a cell for five minutes!" Slim threw in.
"Shaddup, I'm the Bossman, I do the… uh… neg… negosurtations!"
"Get a criminal record, and then we'll talk," said Bubbles sweetly before turning and floating to the prison door.
"She's real nice, Boss!" said Junior, gazing at her.
"Shaddup!" snapped Bossman. "She's the enemy, remember?"
Bubbles didn't hear them. Her heart was pounding, seemingly behind her ears, with quick, painful thuds. Although she was floating, she stared up at the door, feeling her insides churn, thinking, The Professor was right, I shouldn't be… No! I need to change! I need this!
The door opened, and the warden looked at Bubbles. He gave her a kind, although skeptical, smile.
"Hello, Bubbles," he said. "Are you ready for your first day?"
"Yes," said Bubbles firmly.
She and the Professor had talked with the warden about what she had wanted to do. "Just look at it as a community service project," Bubbles had said, trying to win over both the warden and the Professor, who still wasn't feeling too thrilled about Bubbles' decision.
The warden had been more confused than anything else, but he finally relented, saying, "It'll probably do these folks some good to see a bright face like Bubbles' around."
No one had mentioned that it was Bubbles' bright face that had landed most of these felons in jail in the first place.
"If you ever feel like you're in any danger at all, get yourself out of here," the warden was saying to Bubbles. They were inside the prison now and making their way down a long, drab hall.
"I won't," said Bubbles resolutely, trying to hide the depression that was already creeping into her voice. It was so… cheerless in here! No wonder all the crooks were as sour as they were. The warden was right—they did need to see a bright face.
Maybe… maybe she could help them!
Bubbles felt herself light up. Not only would she be changed for the better, but so would they! They could show her that the world wasn't all sunshine and daisies, and she could bring some happiness into their lives. Blossom was right—she'd be helping more than just herself by doing this!
The warden unlocked a large, heavy door, but turned to Bubbles before opening it. "Are you ready?" he asked.
Bubbles gulped. That light of inspiration seemed to dim when she realized again just what she was getting into.
"I guess so," she said, trying to sound brave.
"Alright then." He swung the door open.
The reactions were slow at first. None of the inmates were paying much attention when the door was opened, but sure enough, one bank robber who Bubbles remembered beating up a few weeks ago happened to glance their way, stop, and stare in a dumbfounded manner. Eyes followed his own gaze, and soon the entire room was staring.
"Folks, this here is Bubbles Utonium, and she's going to be around here most afternoons, just helping out," said the warden.
"Uh, hi," said Bubbles meekly, waving her hand. "Like he said, my name is Bubbles… but most of you know me, don't you? I'm the reason why most of you are in here."
Fuzzy Lumpkins growled dangerously.
"Well, anyway… like he said, I'm going to be spending most of my afternoons after school here," Bubbles continued, feeling her face grow more and more red and her insides grow more and more unsteady. "It's kind of a community service project."
The Rowdyruff Boys snorted rudely. Mojo Jojo rolled his eyes. The rest of the inmates still looked dumbfounded.
"So… I hope I'll make your stay here more enjoyable!" Bubbles finished. And I hope at least one of you really hurts me, she thought sadly to herself. Emotionally, not physically like you've all already done before…
The inmates cracked their knuckles aggressively, but did nothing else. The warden was glaring at them, and none were really crazy enough to try to attack a Powerpuff Girls by themselves. So they all just turned away, pretending to forget that Bubbles was there.
Not very well, either. They kept glancing at her when they thought no one was looking.
Bubbles sighed. "Now what?" she whispered to the warden.
"Go talk to someone," he whispered back.
"Who?" asked Bubbles in desperation.
"It doesn't matter, anyone who you feel like talking to!"
Bubbles gulped, quickly scanned the room, and finally, with hesitation, began to approach the Rowdyruff Boys.
"Back off, you bitch," sneered Butch. Bubbles sighed. Those boys sure knew how to hold a grudge.
When the Girls had been nine years old, they had gotten into a huge battle with the Rowdyruff Boys. Although the Boys were only about nine themselves, their powers, like the Girls', had only grown stronger throughout the years. Half the town was demolished before the Girls, nearly unconscious themselves, managed to corner them and trap them under a falling building (falling completely by the Boys' own doing). The Boys weren't killed, but they were knocked out, making what the Girls and the Professor had to do undeniable.
Bubbles hadn't raised any objections, for she knew just as well as her father and sisters that if they didn't do this now, the Boys would be completely unstoppable in the future. Still, though, she felt sad as the Professor administered it to the Boys, who were still unconscious and had no clue that their powers were being taken from them.
When the Boys awoke and found themselves restrained to gunnery-type beds in the Professor's lab, they tried to break free, but all that happened was that Brick, while struggling in confusion and anger, somehow knocked heads with Boomer, making both boys dizzy. Blossom and Buttercup had laughed. Bubbles hadn't. The boys were evil, true… but everything about them that made them, well, them, had been snatched away without their consent.
They were still villains, no doubt about that. They were strong and mean and pushy. But without their superpowers, they no longer posed any real threat to Townsville.
"You guys were a threat to Townsville, and my sisters, father, and I did what we had to," said Bubbles, sounding as if she was reading from a cue card. She and her sisters had given variations of the same speech to them ever since that day eight years ago.
"You took away our lives," snapped Brick. "How would you like it if you woke up, tied to some ironing board, and completely unable to fly?"
"I'd hate it," said Bubbles, "but I never—"
"Stuff it!" snapped Brick, glaring at Bubbles. "Thanks to you and your goddamned sisters, we're nothing but freaks!"
"We were freaks before," pointed out Boomer. Brick rolled his eyes and punched Boomer in the gut.
"We were cool freaks! We could fly and shoot lasers and beat people up with no trouble at all! Now we're just lame-o gangsters with huge eyes and no fingers and we look like fucking Barbie dolls!"
Change the subject, change the subject… Bubbles thought wildly.
"Why are you guys even here?" Bubbles asked. "Shouldn't you be in juvenile prison?"
"Those losers couldn't control us," laughed Butch.
"They don't care about age around here," Brick added. "Hell, Princess Morbucks is in here a lot too, and we all like that."
"Why?" Bubbles asked innocently.
Brick suddenly smirked. Eyebrows flashing, he fixed his gaze at Bubbles' chest.
"Eew!" Bubbles shrieked, flinging her arms over her chest. "You pervs!"
Boomer and Butch were following their brother's lead, and Bubbles nearly shrieked in disgust again. She was wearing a T-shirt and capris, for God's sake! There was nothing to see!
In desperation, her eyes darted to where the warden had been standing, but he was gone. In his place was Mojo Jojo, leaning against the wall. Lighting a cigarette, he gave Bubbles a nasty smirk.
What HAVE I gotten myself into? I really DON'T know anything! thought Bubbles, turning red with both embarrassment and rage.
(AN: I really shouldn't be writing this. I have two other multi-chapter stories that I started more than a year ago that are just sitting there, and my inspiration on this story will likely die as quickly as it did for my other stories. But writing it I am. I can't promise that I'll finish this story, or that updates will be at all frequent (it took me two months to write this one chapter, believe it or not). But here it is. I'm throwing it out here just to, well, throw SOMETHING out.
Disclaimer: PPG ain't mine. End of story.
I'm going to try holding off updating this one until I've updated my other two stories, but holding my inspiration hostage like that has been disastrous in the past. So I might update this story two days from now. Hell, who knows? Anyway, I hope I've sparked your interest enough to make you want to continue reading.)