[WARNING: This fanfic contains some scenes with graphic violence. Also, please note that I am not planning on making a sequel to this. This is just a stand-alone story.]

A Darkness Beneath

By: Mark J. Hadley

The City of Townsville never looked brighter and happier...the sun was shining, the air was crisp and clear, and everything was as it should be. It was starting out to be the perfect day...at least, that's how it felt to Bubbles. She had woken up that morning as happy as ever, and with the feeling that it was one of those days where nothing could go wrong.

At school, Ms. Keane noticed her cheerfulness today, and commented, "You seem to be quite happy today...what's the occasion?"

"Oh, nothing," Bubbles replied, smiling. "I'm just in a really good mood."

"Well, let's see you apply some of that enthusiasm towards your learning today, hm?" Ms. Keane told her. Bubbles laughed and nodded as Ms. Keane went back to the lesson, writing it out on the chalkboard. It was a math lesson...Bubbles didn't like math, but today it didn't bother her.

"I'm just in a really good mood," Buttercup whispered next to her, in a mocking tone, then folded her arms and added, "Geez, you don't have to rub it in our faces. You've been going on and on all morning about it."

Bubbles shrugged, "I can't help it. I just feel like something really good's gonna happen today. What's wrong with that?"

"Nothin'..." Buttercup said, "but could you please stop reminding us every five seconds?"

"Okay, I'm sorry," Bubbles nodded. She paid attention to the board again. You know, she thought, maybe this is my day to really learn this math really good! As long as it's not bothering me...

The buzzing of the hotline interrupted her thoughts. Blossom was over there in an jiffy to answer it, "Hello, Mayor?" After a pause, she said, "Yes, right away!" She hung up and said, "Ms. Keane, it's Mojo again...can we...?"

"Sure, go right ahead," Ms. Keane told her.

The three of them immediately flew out from the school, heading into Townsville. Buttercup nudged Bubbles and said, "So much for your good day, huh? Unless you count that we're gettin' out of school early."

"See?" Bubbles said, missing the sarcasm. "There's a bright side to everything!" Buttercup was about to say something in reply, but just shook her head instead.

* * *

They made it to the city, and spotted their target. Mojo had created some kind of robotic suit, barely eight feet tall, with him in the center of it. There weren't any obvious weapons, but then Bubbles spotted him blasting beams of energy out from the palms of the suit, and realized that most of them must be hidden. Still, it didn't look that threatening compared to some of his larger robots.

"Whatsamatter, Mojo?" Buttercup called out. "Running out of scrap metal?"

Mojo turned and noticed them, calling a threat back, "No, but it is you who will be running when I'm through with you!"

"Lame!" Buttercup laughed. "C'mon, you can do better than that!"

Mojo narrowed his eyes and said, "Indeed...well, how about this?" Stretching out the hands of the suit to the side, he fired beams in both directions, but then the beams did something strange; they curved in an arc, heading for Buttercup. By the time she noticed it, they both reached her from opposite sides. The blast wasn't sufficient to really hurt her, but getting hit from both sides like that knocked the wind out of her, and she hovered, holding her midsection and gasping.

Blossom and Bubbles both dove down at Mojo, but in an incredible display of agility, Mojo hopped back out of the way, then lept into the air, landing on a building. Wide-eyed, Blossom watched it go and said, "That thing's fast! We're just going to have to be faster, then."

Perched from his position on the roof's edge, Mojo grinned as hatches opened up on the shoulders of his suit and started firing a rapid-fire spread of blasts, blanketing the entire street below. Bubbles didn't have a clear escape route, but Blossom had barely enough time to grab Bubbles' arm and pull her out with her. The both angled up away from the street, stopping next to Buttercup, and Bubbles quickly asked, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Buttercup wheezed. "I'm fine...I'll be okay...but Mojo's gonna pay for that!"

"I have an idea," Blossom said. "Attack pattern Theta-Gamma-3, on my mark...ready?"

Bubbles and Buttercup both got into position and said, "Ready!"

"Now!" Blossom ordered, and all three of them shot directly at Mojo. He overheard their plan number and knew that they were going to try something fancy, so he stood his ground and readied himself to fire in whatever direciton they would go. As they approached, Blossom and Buttercup suddenly split off from the group, angling up in opposite directions. As Mojo instinctively spread the suit's arms out to track the two of them, he suddenly realized that Bubbles was still heading straight for him. Before he could raise any kind of defense, Bubbles had grabbed hold of the front of the suit, holding it in place.

"What are you doing? Let go!" Mojo shouted. By now, Blossom and Buttercup had angled back and were flying towards the suit from above, ready to pound it now that it couldn't get free. Mojo reached out to the front and tried to pry Bubbles off, but she was hanging on tightly. He pushed with all the suit's power.

Bubbles lost her grip at that moment and was pushed clear from the suit. With less than an instant left, Mojo quickly jumped straight upwards, avoiding the other girls as they flew in. They couldn't stop in time and collided head-first. Bubbles covered her mouth with her hands as she saw them both collapse to the rooftop, out cold.

"Muahahaha!" Mojo laughed from his position in the air, hovering. "Two down, one to go! But just to make sure that these two don't get back up again..." He aimed the palms of his suit down, and energy started to build up on them.

Bubbles cried out, "NOO!" and flew at the suit, firing her eyebeams...not at the suit itself, but at the energy he was building up. As it struck, the energy exploded, knocking both herself and Mojo in opposite directions. She recovered in midair and saw Mojo ejecting from the suit as it plummeted out-of-control into the side of a building. The impact caused the building to shudder, a rain of broken glass falling out over the street. Mojo jetted off on his jetpack, quickly putting some distance between them and getting away.

Her sisters were quickly recovering, as they sat up and rubbed their heads. They surveyed the scene, and found Bubbles returning to the rooftop. Blossom said, "What...happened...?"

"Mojo was going to blast you..." Bubbles hesitated. "I stopped him...but he got away..."

"You let him get away?" Buttercup exclaimed.

Bubbles quickly explained, "I-I was worried about you two..."

"We're fine, just a little stunned," Blossom said. "Buttercup's right...you should have gone after Mojo when you had the chance."

"Yeah, stupid!" Buttercup frowned, getting up and dusting herself off. "Plus, maybe if you were a little stronger, you wouldn't have let go of his suit..."

"Buttercup, stop it!" Blossom said. "At least Mojo is stopped for now. He'll be back, but we should be getting back to school..." She glanced at a clock on one of the buildings and said, "Actually, nevermind. School's over...let's just head home."

The three of them started for home, and Buttercup grumbled, "Stupid Bubbles...messed up everything..." Bubbles closed her eyes...it hurt to hear her sister say that about her, especially after she had tried her best. But it wasn't good enough, she thought. Not good enough for them, anyway...I had such hope for this day, too...

* * *

"Buttercup, please...stop it..." Bubbles said, on the verge of tears, as Buttercup stood across the room, staring at her angrily. They were alone in the house...Blossom and the Professor had both gone out to see the mayor about the mess that Mojo caused. She continued, "I-I didn't do anything wrong..."

"Of course you did somethin' wrong!" Buttercup shouted back. "You shoulda held on tighter! We woulda had him if you weren't so weak!"

Bubbles closed her eyes. Buttercup had been going on and on about this ever since they got home. All through dinner, and all through the rest of the evening. Bubbles couldn't understand why she was doing this. All it did was make her feel terrible. "I'm not weak..." Bubbles insisted. "I...I...tried my best...but..."

"...but your 'best' is pretty awful," Buttercup interrupted. "C'mon, Bubbles, just face it. You screwed up today, and if Mojo just comes back with a more powerful robot or somethin', even more of the city is gonna be destroyed. Your little screw-up is gonna mean more work for us."

"There was nothing I could do!!" Bubbles cried out, then buried her face in her hands, trying hard not to cry but failing miserably. "I...d...didn't...m-mean...t...to..."

Buttercup rolled her eyes, and said, "Oh great. There you go again. Crying like a little baby. It's bad enough that you can't fight..."

"S-stop..it..." Bubbles sobbed. Tears escaped her clenched eyes, and deep inside, she felt angry...angry at Buttercup, for what she was saying. Why won't she stop? Bubbles thought. Stop saying such mean things...please...

But Buttercup didn't let up, she leaned in closer and yelled, "If you fought half as hard as you cried, we wouldn't be havin' this problem!" Bubbles said nothing, but she felt the rage building in her, as Buttercup continued, "It's your fault today, and it's always your fault! Why don't you just stay home from now on, ya big crybaby? We'll be much better off without you!"

Bubbles couldn't take it anymore...her eyes flew open, but even if she could see through her tears, a red haze seemed to blot everything else out. She screamed, "Shut up!!" and launched herself towards Buttercup. All the sounds she heard after that were faded, as though she were listening to them from far away...she couldn't control herself, and felt her fists striking Buttercup repeatedly as she kept screaming, "Shut up shut up SHUT UP!!" She couldn't even see what she was doing; it was all still just a blurry haze.

Eventually, she stopped, and stumbled back. She took a few deep breaths and felt her anger subsiding, and the red haze started to lift...once she could see clearly again, she gasped. Buttercup was lying up face-first against the wall, and looked unconscious. Stepping slowly over, she rolled Buttercup over onto her back, and froze as she examined her. Her arms and legs were all bent and broken at strange angles. It looked as though most of her bones were shattered, and her face was beaten and bloody. Worse yet, there was no breathing, no heartbeat...it took her a moment to realize what she had done.

Bubbles fell back a few steps, then sank to the floor, staring at Buttercup, then at her own hands, which had blood on them. She stammered, "Wh-wha...I...n-no...I..." She fell silent and thought, Oh my god...I k-killed her...wh-what have I done? I...I couldn't have...no, please...I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to!!

* * *

"Wake up, girls!"

Bubbles sat up with a start when she heard the professor's voice. In panic, she glanced around, trying to figure out where she was. She was shocked to see that she was in bed, with her nighties on, and even more shocked when she saw Buttercup yawning and stretching next to her. She's...she's alive? Bubbles thought. As she stared at her, Buttercup blinked a few times, her eyes still half-closed from sleep, and muttered, "What are you lookin' at?"

"Nothing..." Bubbles said, although she could barely contain her relief. It must have been a dream, she thought. Yes, just a bad dream...oh, thank goodness! I knew Buttercup would never say any of those mean things to me. But that dream felt so real! I remember everything that happened that day...it was almost like it really happened! But I'm just glad it's over with...

She got out of bed and got dressed for school, and after grabbing breakfast, she and the other girls flew off for school. Bubbles kept thinking about the dream... I never got that angry before, she thought. Well, one time, but never at Buttercup like that...not enough to do what I did! Buttercup can be mean sometimes...I hope she never gets like that, though. I was so angry! I hope nothing like that happens in real life...

* * *

After they arrived at school, Blossom smiled as she took her seat and said, "All right! It's Tuesday! That means we're having..."

"...a math lesson," Buttercup frowned. "Great. Wake me up when we're done."

"Buttercup!" Blossom said, glaring at her.

Buttercup laughed and said, "I'm just kidding. But math is still boring, no matter what you say."

Bubbles looked up at the calendar on the wall. It was Tuesday. The dream had almost made her forget. She smiled a little to herself and thought, It looks like I'm in for another math lesson. Having one is bad enough, even if it was only a dream...

The day progressed, and Bubbles gradually began to get a feeling of déjà vu, from the math lesson of all places. It was starting to look eerily familiar, until she realized that it was the same lesson from her dream. Ms. Keane was writing the same problems, covering the same material, and everything. That's weird, Bubbles thought. Maybe it's just a coincidence. Or maybe I'm psychic or something... She suddenly hoped that she wasn't psychic, because if she was, that would mean...

Almost as if on cue, the hotline rang. Blossom sprang up from her seat to fly over and answer it, "Hello, Mayor?" After a pause, she said, "Yes, right away!" She hung up and said, "Ms. Keane, it's Mojo again...can we...?"

"Sure, go right ahead," Ms. Keane told her.

Bubbles just stared, and thought, Wait, but that's impossible...no, maybe Mojo's just causing trouble again. I mean, we get called out of school a lot for this sort of thing. No way could my dream be right... Blossom and Buttercup were already halfway to the door, when Buttercup shouted, "Bubbles, c'mon!" That shook her out of her thoughts, and she got up, flying out after them. She still couldn't shake this ever-present feeling that all of this happened before, even though she knew it couldn't have...

* * *

As the approached Townsville, Bubbles asked, "Blossom...did you ever have the feeling like we've done this before?"

"Almost every day," Blossom answered. "It's not like Mojo ever quits, you know."

"No, I mean this exact thing," Bubbles said. "This whole day...it's just...I dunno..."

"No time to talk," Buttercup shouted. "Look!"

Bubbles looked to where she was pointing at...they had reached Townsville, and spotted Mojo, but a feeling of dread suddenly washed over Bubbles as she saw the impossible. He was wearing the precise same robot suit that he wore in her dream. Every detail was perfect. Bubbles thought, But...no...that can't be...how can it be the same? Unless...

"Whatsamatter, Mojo?" Buttercup called out. "Running out of scrap metal?"

Mojo turned and noticed them, calling a threat back, "No, but it is you who will be running when I'm through with you!"

"Lame!" Buttercup laughed. "C'mon, you can do better than that!" Bubbles stared in wide-eyed shock as she realized they were even saying the exact same lines as her dream. No, no, she thought, this is too similar...was that just a dream I had, or...or is this the same day over again? But how...

Mojo narrowed his eyes and said, "Indeed...well, how about this?" Stretching out the hands of the suit to the side, he fired beams in both directions, but then the beams curved in an arc, heading for Buttercup. Bubbles suddenly remembered this attack, and with a shout, pushed Buttercup out of the way. The two beams collided at the place where she had been a moment before. Buttercup blinked in alarm at the near-miss, then gritted her teeth and dove at Mojo.

Bubbles thought, I knew about the attack! That settles it, this is just too similar... Below, Buttercup had just reached Mojo, but he hopped back out of the way, then lept into the air, landing on a building. Wide-eyed, Blossom watched it go and said, "That thing's fast! We're just going to have to be faster, then."

Perched from his position on the roof's edge, Mojo grinned as hatches opened up on the shoulders of his suit and started firing a rapid-fire spread of blasts, blanketing the entire street below. Bubbles knew it was coming already, and was able to fly to safety before the blasts reached her...the other girls got out of there in time as well. "Any ideas?" Buttercup asked.

"I have an idea," Blossom said. Bubbles already knew what Blossom was going to say, and silently mouthed it along with her, "Attack pattern Theta-Gamma-3, on my mark...ready?"

"Blossom, it's not gonna work!" Bubbles told her.

"I said, Theta-Gamma-3, now!" Blossom shouted back. "That's an order!" They didn't wait for her, but started to fly towards the robot anyway. Bubbles held her ground...she knew it wouldn't work...it couldn't work. She wouldn't be able to hold Mojo down long enough, and it would fail, just like last time...

Both of her sisters looked over their shoulders, and Blossom yelled, "Bubbles, what are you d--..." but in that instant where their attentions were diverted, Mojo leapt forward, grabbing hold of both of them. Bubbles clamped her hands over her mouth in shock...this was different. Mojo grinned evily as he tightened the robot's grip on the two of them, and they both screamed. Bubbles could swear she heard the sounds of Buttercup's bones breaking.

With a cry, she flew down as fast as she could and slammed a fist into the chest of the suit. Mojo released his grip on them as he flew back from the impact. The suit had been shattered from the blow, but Mojo ejected safely before it fell from the rooftop into the streets below. Bubbles watched him fly away on the jetpack and was about to follow, when he heard a groan behind her. She looked and saw Blossom next to Buttercup on the rooftop, checking her out...she looked like she was in pain.

"We've got to get her to the hospital," Blossom said sternly, "and fast!"

"But...Mojo..." Bubbles said, trailing off.

Blossom shook her head, "No time, let's go!" She carefully picked up Buttercup from one side, and Bubbles flew over to pick her up from the other. They both carried her off towards the hospital, and Bubbles looked off towards where Mojo's suit had crashed in the street, a blazing fire surrounding it and the newsstand it landed on. What a mess, she thought. But why did this happen? I tried to change things, but why did it still turn out so bad?

* * *

Bubbles sat on the couch, fidgeting nervously. Back at the hospital, Buttercup was in serious condition due to the fight, and when the professor had heard about her, he rushed off to the hospital immediately. Now she waited for their return, wondering what on Earth had caused all of this. She began to question that "dream" that she had...it was so vivid and real, not like a dream at all. Maybe it really happened, she thought, and I was somehow given a second chance to redo things...but if it really happened, then is Buttercup really like that? Did she really mean all those things she said about me?

The door opened, and Blossom came flying in. Bubbles looked up and said, "How is she?"

"Pretty bad, but the doctor says she'll be okay," Blossom said sadly as she closed the door and flew over to where Bubbles was. "The professor's staying there to keep an eye on her."

"Okay..." Bubbles said, lowering her eyes and rubbing her arm idly. "Blossom, I..."

"Bubbles, that was inexcusable," Blossom said before she could continue. "You disobeyed a direct order, and look what happened. Why didn't you listen to me?"

"Because...because I knew it wouldn't work," Bubbles answered. "It's hard to explain..."

Frowning, Blossom said, "It was a good plan. It would have worked if you hadn't just sat there instead of doing it. There's a reason we go over these plans so much...so that we can use them! But how do you expect for any of them to work if you're just gonna ignore my orders? We're a team!"

"I just knew!" Bubbles exclaimed. "Listen, I had...I dunno, some kind of dream, or...or something last night...I dunno what it was, but we already tried it, and..."

"What?" Blossom said in disbelief. "Don't make excuses for your own lack of discipline, Bubbles...just because you aren't functioning as a member of the team..."

"Blossom, how can you say that?!" Bubbles cried, tears starting to well up in her eyes. "I'm...I'm as much a part of this team...a-as..."

"You sure don't act like it, sometimes," Blossom said. She turned her back and looked out of the window, towards Townsville, and added, "Because of you, Buttercup's in the hospital, and Mojo's running around loose somewhere. Seriously, I don't see what's so hard about it, but you're always so heistant, and it's going to get Townsville destroyed someday, or one of us killed. You're more of a danger to us than anything."

Bubbles stammered, "Please...s-stop..." She felt her anger rising, and her vision filling with a red haze. Oh no, she thought, please no...not again...not again...

Blossom still had her back to her, and said, "I'm going to tell the professor that you need to be off the team for a while, until you can learn to show some respect for my leadership! As far as I'm concerned, the way you are right now, you don't deserve to carry the name 'Powerpuff'..."

Clenching her teeth, Bubbles couldn't take it anymore...Blossom's words hurt her, and her anger took over once again. Bellowing in anger, she dove from the couch and tackled her from behind, screaming, "Shut up shut up shut up shut up!!!" Again, she felt like she was out of control...she couldn't see what she was doing, but she felt it. Punching, kicking, biting...part of her wanted to stop, but she was too enraged to care. She just kept it up, for who knew how long.

When she finally started to calm down, she stood, panting, every muscle tense, and the red haze faded from her vision, until she got a look at the horrible deed she committed. This time, there was no mistaking it...she knew in an instant that Blossom was dead. Her body was beaten almost to the point where she couldn't recognize her anymore. Blood was splattered across the carpet and walls, and it looked like one of her legs had been torn off. Glancing down for a moment, she was startled to find that she was still holding the leg in her hand, and dropped it with a horrified shriek.

No, she thought, sinking slowly to her knees. No...this isn't a dream...I really killed her...I really did, I...I...oh, why did she have to talk like that? I...I didn't want to...but I...no, this didn't just happen...oh god, what am I gonna do?!

* * *

"Wake up, girls!"

Sitting up with a yelp, Bubbles stared out at the room wide-eyed, looking around, and realizing that she was back in bed once again. Buttercup and Blossom were both waking up groggily next to her, but she barely noticed, all she could think was, What's going on? It's starting all over again, isn't it? This isn't a dream, it can't be!

Blossom rubbed one of her eyes, and noticed Bubbles sitting up tensely...she asked, "Bubbles, are you okay?" Looking back at her, all Bubbles could think of was the bloody scene that she just witnessed only moments before. A fear began to rise in her...she thought, What if it happens again? What if...what if I lose my temper again, and...and...

"Bubbles?" Blossom repeated.

Ignoring her, Bubbles turned to the Professor and said, "Professor...I...I don't feel so good, is it okay if I stay home from school today?"

Raising an eyebrow, he said, "Are you okay?"

Buttercup was climbing out of bed and hovering over to the dresser, muttering, "She just doesn't wanna go to school today...it's Tuesday, math day, remember?"

That settled it. There was no mistaking it now...it was the same day again. It was starting over from the beginning, and Bubbles was suddenly terrified. She flew out of bed and hugged tightly onto the professor's arm, crying, "Please! I can't go to school today! Don't make me...I can't...it's important...please, please believe me!"

The professor stared into her eyes silently, then said in a soft voice, "Okay, sweetie...don't worry, it's all right. Blossom, Buttercup, get ready for school...Bubbles will be staying home today."

As the other girls got out of bed and went to get dressed, Bubbles continued to hug the professor's arm. She was shaking, and thought, I just wanna know what's going on...I don't want the same thing to happen, I don't...I just have to know what's happening to me...

* * *

At Bubbles' insistance, the professor ran various tests on her in his lab to see if he could find anything at all wrong. This testing lasted for some time, but the professor seemed skeptical that a problem would turn up. Bubbles didn't care...she just knew that something was the matter with her, and maybe if it showed up on one of the tests, it could be fixed. She felt more and more nervous and wondered, what if it couldn't be fixed? What if she was cursed to live this same day over and over until the end of time? What then?

The professor removed a printout from one of his machines and scanned over it with his eyes. He was silent, and Bubbles spoke up from the stool she sat on nearby, "Well? What does it say?"

"It says you're fine, Bubbles," he replied, setting the paper down and walking over to where she was sitting, gazing down at her. "I can't find a thing wrong with you. Do you mind telling me why you decided you needed to skip school if nothing's the matter?"

"But there is," Bubbles insisted. "Professor...it's Tuesday again...it was Tuesday for the past two days, but it's still today! I know it sounds weird, but the day keeps happening over again!"

The professor looked at her like she was crazy, which made Bubbles' heart sink. "Sweetie," he said, "I know you don't like math, but fabricating this story just so that you can skip..."

"I'm not making it up!!" Bubbles shouted. "It happened twice already, and it's gonna happen again! And each time...each time it ended so terribly...the girls were being so mean, and I lost my temper and...and attacked..."

"Listen, Bubbles, it was probably just a nightmare," the professor pointed out.

Bubbles shook her head vigorously, "No, it was real! I felt it, I saw it, and I don't wanna have it happen again! Please, believe me..." She started to cry, "Please...I don't wanna go through it again, I don't...I don't..."

Switching to a stern voice suddenly, the professor said, "Bubbles, stop this foolishness right now. The girls will be home from school soon, and we can talk about this later, but as for now..."

"School?" Bubbles said, suddenly glancing at the clock. In shock, she said, "Omigosh...Mojo! I-In the other two days, Mojo attacked right about now! I need to go help them!"

Before she could budge, though, the professor put a firm hand on her shoulder and said, "You're not going anywhere. We still need to have a talk about your behavior."

"But they need me!" Bubbles protested.

The professor sighed, "Bubbles, you lied to get out of school, made me waste valuable resources on tests that showed nothing, and now made up some story to get out of it all? I'm sorry, but there'll be no crimefighting for you for a while. Not until you've been properly disciplined."

"I-I don't believe it..." Bubbles stammered. "Y-you don't believe me...your own daughter..."

"You're my creation," he reminded her, "not my daughter." He walked over to a table and started working with some chemicals.

Bubbles stared silently for a few moments, tears streaming down her face, and finally managed to cry, "H-how...c-could you...say s-something...like that...?"

Instead of answering, the professor walked back over to the table, a syringe in his hand. She saw the label on the side, which read 'Antidote X', and got to her feet on the stool, eyes widening. He said, "Hold out your arm, Bubbles..."

"N-no..." Bubbles said. "Professor..." She couldn't believe this was happening, that the professor was being so cruel...she felt a surge of anger deep within her, and her mind immediately started shouting, Oh no oh no not now please not now...

"Bubbles," the professor repeated more forcefully, "hold out your arm. Now."

"No!" she cried out, pulling back her arms and shaking, as she clenched her teeth and felt her rage building more and more. "Professor, how could you?!"

"I am your creator!" he said, looking angry now. "You will do what I say...now, hold out your arm!"

"NO!!" Bubbles yelled, her vision becoming a blurry red again. Even as she dove towards the professor, she couldn't focus on what she was doing...all she could think about was the awful things he said. She felt herself pummeling him, and knew he was probably dead by now...she knew what she was doing, but almost didn't care this time. She never knew he had any kind of feelings like that towards them...more than anything she was doing to him, that knowledge alone wounded her deeper than she could possibly imagine.

When it was all done, she stood, catching her breath and waiting as most of her anger slowly faded. For a crazy moment, she thought that the redness hadn't faded from her vision, until she realized that her surroundings really were red. There was barely anything left of him...blood was splattered up against the walls, floor, and even the ceiling, and the blood that covered a few of the lights washed out the rest of the room in an unearthly red glow. She looked down at herself...she was covered in it as well, blood dripping slowly from her shaking arms.

She was horrified at herself...horrified that she would ever do anything like this, even in anger. Falling to the ground, she buried her face in her arms and cried as she thought, Why did this have to happen to me? Why did the professor have to say all those horrible things? I just want it to end...please, let it end, now...

* * *

"Wake up, girls!"

"NOO!!" Bubbles cried out immediately, sitting up...she was soaked with persperation in seconds, and shook uncontrollably, as the professor blinked in surprise at her and the other girls, while still sleepy, gave her curious glances. Not that Bubbles cared; her thoughts were out of control... No, not again not again oh god it's starting over it's starting over...

"Bubbles?" the professor asked. "Are you...okay...?"

Looking at him, Bubbles knew it wouldn't help to say anything. He didn't really care, and she saw that now. The sight of him almost made her anger return again, but she clenched her eyes shut and flew out of bed, heading for the dresser. She got out her clothes and forced herself to get changed, although it was difficult because her arms were trembling so badly.

"What's going on?" Buttercup asked. "Bubbles?" Instead of answering, Bubbles finished getting dressed and just flew downstairs, heading for the front door. She had to get out of there, and couldn't stand being around them right now. Taking off, she flew out of the house and quickly made some distance from them.

Spotting a hill outside of town, she landed, and sat down under a tree. Her expression was hardened. The things the three of them had said and done...it was like she knew the truth about how they felt about her, at last. She needed some time alone to think...and at least this way, far from them, she wouldn't lose her temper and do anything to them. Although, a small part of her didn't even care about that anymore. Sitting with her legs huddled up against her chest, she lowered her head into her arms and started crying...

* * *

Hours passed as the day slowly crept by. Bubbles thought more and more about the situation she was in. Why was I losing my temper so easily? I tried not to...I don't like getting angry like that. But...they were so mean! I've never gotten that mad at them, but they've never been that cruel before. But how could I just lose control like that? It doesn't' make any sense!

Blossom...Buttercup...the professor...why? Why did you have to say those things? Have you always felt like that? And just never told me? Do you...hate me? That can't be true...but...after everything they've said...I just don't know! And...what about everyone else? All the people of Townsville like me, don't they? I mean, I'm a Powerpuff Girl! I save the day! But...if my family hates me, then...maybe...maybe everybody does...

No, I won't believe that! There has to be a reason for this! Maybe they just said it out of anger, or...or because of the situation...or...I don't know! But everyone else? No, I can't believe that everyone would have felt this way, and that nobody would have told me...

Bubbles heard explosions in the distance, and knew that the girls were fighting Mojo. With a sigh, she thought, Either way, I just have to stay here. Maybe if I don't lose my temper again, the day won't repeat, and everything will be fine... She closed her eyes slowly and tried to fall asleep.

She wasn't sure how long she had been asleep, if at all, but her eyes flew open at the sound of Buttercup's voice shouting, "There you are!" Looking up in a panic, she saw both Blossom and Buttercup flying towards her. Buttercup was upset, and said, "We've been lookin' all over for you!"

"Girls, no," Bubbles said, getting up. "I just need to be alone, okay?"

"No, it's not okay," Blossom said, frowning. "We needed your help over there! If all three of us were in the fight, we could have stopped Mojo...but instead, he got away, and quite frankly, it's your fault for not being there to help!"

Bubbles was flabbergasted...the hatred she sensed before in them still seemed to be present. "But..." she started to say.

"You've really done it this time, Bubbles!" Buttercup interrupted. "The Mayor wants to see you...probably to chew you out for skipping out on your duties as a Powerpuff Girl. I don't blame him..."

"I'm not going back, not right now!" Bubbles said, planting her feet firmly on the ground.

Shaking her head, Blossom said, "That's what you think...c'mon!" Before Bubbles could try to flee, Blossom and Buttercup each flew over and grabbed hold of one of her arms. She struggled, but their grip was too strong. They immediately started to fly back into Townsville, dragging her with them.

"Nooo!" Bubbles cried out. "Please, don't make me! Leave me alone!!"

"This is for your own good, Bubbles," Blossom told her. In less than a minute, they had reached City Hall, and entered the mayor's office with her in tow. They apparently guessed that she'd try to flee, so they didn't let go of her, but kept their grip as they approached the mayor's desk, where he sat, looking pretty unhappy. Ms. Bellum, as always, was at his side, and she didn't look much happier.

Bubbles quickly tried to explain herself, "Please, Mayor...I couldn't be there, I had to...to be alone...I can't..."

"The safety of my beloved town is important to me," the mayor said. "When I call the Powerpuff Girls to save the day, I expect them all to be there, you know? This isn't some...er...two for...three...sale..." He looked over at Ms. Bellum, "That didn't make sense, did it?"

"Allow me, Mayor," Ms. Bellum said, stepping around to the front of the desk. "Bubbles, I think the mayor is trying to say that if you're going to be a superhero for this town, you have certain responsibilities. Responsibilities that you failed to live up to, today. I don't think you realize that lives were cost because of your mistake..."

"Th-they were?" Bubbles said in a low voice.

Ms. Bellum nodded and said, "With an attitude like this, you don't seem to want to be a Powerpuff Girl anymore. Well, if that's your decision, then I guess you'll have to see it through. I don't think Townsville wants a superhero that will only be there when they feel like it."

Blossom spoke up, "The town's angry with you, Bubbles. The mayor received a lot of phone calls just before we found you, and the people don't want you protecting the city anymore..."

"Neither do I," Buttercup muttered, and although Blossom shot her a glance, it was too late...her comment was still spoken, and it didn't make Bubbles feel any better. She just stared silently, not believing what she was hearing. Now the whole town was turning against her. She realized that they wouldn't have turned so quickly, on a single event, had there not been a prior hatred there for her...something they just didn't want to show. The thought of it sickened her, that they felt this way and pretended not to. She felt the anger rising deep within her again, but did very little to hold it back this time.

They said a few more things, but it fell on deaf ears. Her anger boiled over, and she screamed, "YAAAAAHHH!!" as loudly as she could, pulling her arms free from Blossom and Buttercup in a sudden burst of strength. She didn't hold back, but let herself do whatever her anger directed. Again, she was only slightly aware of her actions, slamming her fists into whatever she was near, but she knew she was causing a lot of damage. She didn't care...she couldn't forgive them for treating her like they were. For thinking about her like they were.

When the red haze finally lifted, she looked around to get her bearings, and realized where she was: high above Townsville...or what was left of it. In her anger, she had demolished most of it, single-handedly. Most of the buildings had collapsed under her attacks, and what was still standing was set ablaze. This was far more than she expected, and for a moment, she shuddered, as she never fully realized that she was capable of destruction on this scale. Bodies were everywhere, and she suspected that the mayor, Ms. Bellum, and both her sisters were amongst them somewhere.

She wondered if the torment would ever end...would this day keep repeating over and over? Would she be stuck like this forever? She didn't know what was worse: having to face her own ruthlessness at the end of each day, or having to face their hatred, their accusing stares, again and again. Hanging her head, she let her tears fall...not for the people she killed, but for her own torment...

* * *

"Wake up, girls!"

Bubbles immediately bolted out of bed, and didn't even waste time to get dressed this time. She couldn't bear to be in the presence of her sisters or the professor, not anymore. Without a moment's hesitation, she flew right through the roof, and flew off into the distance. They would wonder why she left in such a hurry, but she didn't care. She knew that they didn't care, either...not for her, anyway.

After a quick glance around, she realized that they would just find her again if she stayed here. There was one place, though, that they would never think to look...at least, not for the day. But since it wasn't going to last longer than a day, she knew it was the perfect place to get away from everyone. Angling up, she built up speed and shot away from the surface of the Earth, as fast as she could fly. Within moments, she had reached the upper level of the atmosphere, but she held her breath and kept going. Even though they couldn't survive in space without air, she knew of a place that had it, and that she could easily hold her breath long enough to reach it.

It didn't take long before Bubbles got there...a field of asteroids, out in deep space. Among them was a much larger asteroid, so dense that it had its own gravity, and even its own tiny atmosphere. She and her sisters had come here before, but it was so long ago, barely a few days after their creation, so she figured that they wouldn't think of looking here. Touching down on the surface, she released the breath she was holding and sat down, looking back up at the Earth, floating there in the 'sky' so far off in the distance.

Alone at last, she had the whole day to ponder about everything that had happened to her. Everyone hates me, she thought. My sisters, my friends, even my own da--...my own creator...they all think I'm worthless. They don't really care about me. If they cared about me, they would never have said the things they did, not in a million years. You just don't do that with people you care for. I wouldn't have said that to them...or at least, not before. But if they don't care about me, then why should I care about them?

Looking up at the world, sitting there so motionless, she wondered about all the other people living there. If the people of Townsville didn't like her, what about everyone else? Probably not, she decided. It began to dawn on her how distrustful people as a whole could be...they could act nice all they want, but they were rotten, all of them. In a way, she felt grateful for what this repeated day has shown her: human nature, in all it's cruelty. A darkness beneath the façade.

How could I have ever cared for them? she thought. None of them would show me kindness in return. And even if they did, they wouldn't mean it...it would just be another forced courtesy. To think that any person could ever show true kindness...no, I don't believe they would, not anymore. Not after what I've seen.

As the hours passed, the more she looked at the Earth, the more her anger deep within her seemed to rise. They had done nothing to directly provoke it, but they didn't need to; she knew they hated her just the same. In fact, she imagined that the professor was talking about how irresponsible she was right this instant...maybe Blossom was commenting on her inability to work as a team...and Buttercup, probably calling her stupid, or worthless. Just the thought of it continued to rise her anger, until she couldn't take it anymore. Her vision of the Earth began to cloud in red yet again, and before she knew it, she took a deep breath and left the asteroid, speeding towards home even faster than she had left.

Bubbles wasn't sure just what she had done after that, but she remembered not slowing down even when she reached the Earth's surface. She just kept flying, bursting through the ground, towards the center. She felt all of her rage exploding outward in a single powerful punch, and she took off again, heading back the way she came. The next thing she knew, she was back at the asteroid again, and the haze was fading, allowing her to see just what she had done this time.

The Earth was no longer where it had been...not fully, anyway. Even from this distance, Bubbles could see it had broken off into firey fragments, and were very slowly drifting apart. Whatever she had done at the core of the Earth, it had caused the complete destruction of the planet. Where before, she might have been appalled at what she did, she just gave a small smile instead. She knew that ultimately, it didn't matter. The day was just going to restart again, as it had before. She was just glad to have the chance to take out her anger on them all. It felt good.

Knowing that in minutes the cycle would start again, she sat down, staring up at the remains of the Earth, and waited.

* * *

And waited...

And waited...

Minutes turned into hours. Bubbles' concern turned into fear, as a horrible thought occured to her: It's...it's not restarting, is it? Oh my god...

She knew it had to be true, much as she didn't want to believe it. The cycle had ended...the day had stopped repeating itself, and time was returning to normal. But now, the damage could not be undone. The Earth was gone, and the weight of what she had done slowly dawned on her. Billions of people...she had killed them all, every last one of them. Her rage had been unleashed, and this time, it was for good.

Bubbles shook uncontrollably...after all she had been through, it couldn't have ended like this. Out of her fear, as time passed, she tried to think of something that would justify what she had done, how she was responsible for the deaths of billions. Not that they didn't deserve it, she thought. You saw what they were like. If they came back again, they'd just continue being their rotten selves. All of them. Why should they be spared? Maybe so that they could get a good look at themselves, and realize why they needed to die.

It occured to her that ones like Mojo Jojo had spent their lives trying to destroy or conquer these people. People like him knew that they didn't deserve to be masters of their own fate...she felt blind that she didn't see this before as well. Blinded by her own desire to fit in with a society that didn't care for her anyway.

How ironic, she realized, that in this, the day she had learned of the true nature of people, she had spent the earlier part of it trying to protect them from Mojo. If I knew then what I knew now, she thought, I wouldn't have been trying to stop him...

I would be helping him...

* * *

Mojo Jojo peered closely at the readouts on the screen and smiled, deciding that she was just about ready. It had been a long process--a little longer than he had expected--but it would be worth it in the end. Moving her from place to place to avoid her sisters finding her was the toughest part. But now, it was done.

He walked over to the brainwashing machine, which held Bubbles in the center, unconscious, her arms and legs in restraints and a helmet secured over her head. Flipping a few switches at the console, the lights on the helmet disconnected, and it rose back into the machine above her. Bubbles slowly opened her eyes, blinking a few times...they darted back and forth, taking in her surroundings, before finally stopping on Mojo.

He spoke, "Do not be alarmed, Bubbles. For it is I, Mojo Jojo." He flicked another switch, and the restraints opened...Bubbles was released, and she merely hovered in palce as Mojo continued, "It is time at last for us to begin. You will assist me in defeating your sisters, the Powerpuff Girls, so that we can take over Townsville, and then the world!"

Bubbles stared at him, narrowing her eyes, and in a voice as cold as ice, said, "It would be my pleasure..."