The cafeteria, noontime…

The Bayville High commons, as it often was, was packed.  Save for the foolhardy souls who dared to brave the parking lot, the entire student body was milling about.  The jocks were clustered around the a la cart line, the fashion girls were lingering under the north skylight, the preps occupied two tables along the hall entrances, the musicians claimed the three next to them, the drama crowd found themselves uncomfortably wedged between the jocks and a table of sullen trench-coated Goth holdouts, while the techies had grabbed the center of the commons for themselves, devoting one table for spectator chess, another for cards, and a full two tables for a round-table debate about whether Babylon 5 was or was not the most kick-ass television show of all time.  Other non-aligned cliques claimed tables around the center, using the techies' proximity to define an informal neutral ground.  In the background, a recording of the most recent choir concert was played over the school speakers. 

In the midst of such chaos, a lone boy picked his way to his designated table.  "Ooh!  Pardon me," he said as he bumped into a girl with a heavy trenchcoat.  The boy quickly readjusted his grip on his tray and continued on his way.  The girl, tall, with long and extremely pale hair, grumbled to herself and continued moving towards the Goth table.

"Ey, congratulations, Erin," hailed one of her friends as she arrived.  "If they use this take, you'll be on-screen again."

The girl, Erin Valchek, sneered derisively.  "Pfft.  Right."

The speaker, a boy with greased black hair and a sloping forehead, grinned mockingly.  "I know," he continued.  "It could finally be your big break!"

A short, over-muscled black boy with sunglasses tugged uncomfortably at his trenchcoat.  "It'll be the only break any of us ever get," he muttered.

"Bas..."  Chided the white kid who was sitting next to him.

"Well of course Erin gets the break," continued the greased kid.  "She's the babe.  Babes are always the standout."

"George!"  Barked the leader of the table.  "Knock it off.  And Bas, you lay off, too."  The other kids reluctantly obeyed, and the leader went back to sulking over a can of soda.  The leader was of medium build with dyed pink hair, and wore a rather threadbare gray trenchcoat over his jeans and AC/DC T-shirt.

"Aw, come on, Ruckus," said 'Lith, the kid who was sitting next to Bas.  "They're just havin' some fun."

Erin sneered at 'Lith.  "Would you stop--"

Erin was interrupted as several mechanical thuds were broadcast over the commons' intercom.

"Can it, mates," cut in Ruckus.  "Just play your parts..."  Obediently, but reluctantly, all six kids at the table went silent and looked up at the ceiling.

"Ahem," a voice began.  There were brief sounds of a microphone being adjusted.  "That was the Bayville High Singers' performance of…  Ah, I don't know.  Something in Greek."

"Latin," a voice corrected.

In the relative quiet, Evan Daniels' voice carried across the room. "Toad and Alvers...  This can't be good."

"And Dukes..."  Echoed the voice of Scott Summers.

"Latin then," finished the voice from the speakers.  "And now, a very special performance by the Men's Harmonic Glee Club.  Today they will be singing…  Kurt's Mom is a Stupid Bitch."

There was a slight pause, and then half the commons erupted in laughter.

"What?"  Asked Lance through the speakers.  "What'd I miss."

"So much for your break," chimed the sixth kid at the table, as chatter filled the room again.

Annoyed that the joke was still being continued, Erin rolled her eyes.  "Big loss."

"So what happened, Antrho?"  Asked 'Lith.  "You got the best view..."

Antrho, an anthropomorphic white wolf who was covered in a heavy black trenchoat and a large top-hat, did his best to grin.  "You know how Kurt's mouth was supposed to fall open just then?  Well, it did, and some pizza fell out of it."  Anthro chuckled at the thought of it.

"Oh, that's just sick!"  Snarled Erin.

Ruckus jerked his head up.  "Erin--"

A stage bell rang.  "Okay, everyone," came the voice of Boyd Kirkland.  "Take places and start again.  B.T.P., Chapter Thirteen, take three, aa—aaand action!"

As the room livened up again, Ruckus angrily turned to face Erin.  "Lighten up.  That's an order.  You've been in a bad mood all day, and it's starting to annoy me."

"You, annoyed?"  Mocked Erin.  "Big surprise."  Before she could say anything else a half filled pop can nailed her in the shoulder.  "Gyow!"  She gasped out as the reflexively pulled away.

Ruckus crossed his arms menacingly.  "I said knock it off, and I mean it."

George snorted to himself.  "Oh, but you can be all pissy?"

"Ruckus isn't pissy," 'Lith countered.  "He's the boss, an' he wasn't being obeyed.  There's difference."

"Cut!"  Yelled out Boyd from across the room.  "Kurt, lets try that again, but this time without smacking Evan with your backpack.  Everyone else, as you were..."

George took the opportunity to stand up.  "Don't listen to him, Kurt!"  He halfheartedly yelled out.  "Improvise!  That's the key to stardom..."  Extras from some nearby tables laughed as George sat back down.

Beneath his overbearing trenchcoat, Antrho chuckled to himself.  "Good one, 'gorgeous.'  What would any of us know about stardom?"

George's face contorted.  "Hey shut--"  The boy cut himself off as he tried to grab Antrho from across the table.  Anthro reflexively pulled back and scooted towards Ruckus.  Predictably, Ruckus grabbed George's arm and threw the boy back into his seat.

"All of you, listen!"  Ruckus snarled, momentarily lapsing into his heavy Australian accent.  "I don't care if you're in a bad mood, I don't care if your pissed off, I don't care about any of it!  Just simmer down!  You keep this you'll get us thrown off the set!  You want that?"

Glowering at Ruckus, George reluctantly sat back down.  Beside him, Erin defiantly crossed her arms and glared at Ruckus.

"Ku—uuurt?!"  Boyd interrupted again.  "You're killing me here!  Are you tripping over your own tail now?"

"Sorry!"  The young boy yelled back.  "Just noticed that Amanda vas vone of za extras..."

Boyd groaned audibly.  "Try it again, everyone..."

As chatter once again filled the room, Ruckus glared at the other kids at his table.  "Get this through your heads...  We're not here to put on a show.  We aren't the stars any more.  We aren't going to make it into the series, and there isn't going to be a sequel.  The Nasty Boyz are over.  Done.  Finished.  Our part has been fulfilled."  Taking a deep breath, Ruckus settled back into his seat.  "So lets not try to kill each other, and do this gig like professionals."

After a moment, Anthro stuck his head up.   "We might still make it into the series."

"Kirkland has already said the fourth season is aaa—aaall Apocalypse," countered 'Lith.  "No Sinister, no us."

"Always a fifth season," Bas muttered.

'Lith shrugged.  "Might not be a fifth.  Four seasons will make 52 episodes, which is what they like for syndication."

"I thought that was 65 episodes"  Piped Anthro again.

"Maybe it changed," answered 'Lith.  "The Apocalypse arc is meant to be a big finish anyway, so..."

As if on cue, the background music cut off, and several mechanical thuds echoed through the commons.

"Remember guys," said Ruckus as he looked up.  "Like professionals..."

"Ahem," a voice began.  There were brief sounds of a microphone being adjusted.  "That was the Bayville High Singers' performance of…  Ah, I don't know.  Something in Greek."

"Latin," a voice corrected.

"Toad and Alvers..."  Recited Evan.  "This can't be good."

"Bet Dukes is there, too..."  Scott's voice echoed.

"Latin then," finished the voice from the speakers.  "And now, a very special performance by the Men's Harmonic Glee Club.  Today they will be singing…  The Ballad of Misses Landers."

Anthro cocked his head to the side.  "Hey, wasn't it something else, earlier.

A few opening notes on a toy piano were played, and which was then joined by the rich bass of  Fred Dukes.  "Mi—iiise-eees… Landers was a health nut, she cooked food in a wok!  Mister Harris was her boyfriend,  and he had a great big—

"Cock-a-doodle-doodle.  The rooster just won't quit.  And I don't want my breakfast, because it tastes like—"

With his arms crossed, George glared balefully across the table at Ruckus.  "Like professions, huh boss?"

"Shitzus make good house-pets, they're cuddly and sweet!  Monkey's are-en't good to have, because they like to beat their—"

With his head tilted angrily to the side, Ruckus closed his eyes.  "'Lith, you have your boom box with you?"

"Yeah," the jock-turned-goth quickly replied.

Ruckus' head tilted further.  "Then you're with me."  Ruckus abruptly shoved himself away from the table and began stalking across the room.  'Lith hurried after him a second later, carrying a large boom box.

"Uh-oh..."  Antrho observed.

"Ah, whatever," dismissed Erin as she leaned back in satisfaction.  "They did this scene right on the first take, anyway..."

"Meetings in the office, or meetings in the halls.  The boss he wants to see you, so you can suck his

"Balsac was a writer.  He lived with Allen Bunt.  Miss Roberts didn't like him, but that's cause she a

"Contaminated water, can really make you sick.  Your bladder gets infected, and blood comes out your—

"Dictate what I'm saying, for it will bring you luck!  And if you all don't—"

Fred was abruptly cut off by the sound of someone being thrown against the wall.  A loud grunt of exertion came soon after, followed by the sound of something banging against the microphone.

"Wow," observed Erin with a hint of genuine admiration.  "Two hits and they've already folded.

Anthro did his best to grin again.  "Ruckus has still got it."

"Cut!"  Yelled out Boyd, annoyed, but not quite angry.  "People, what are you trying to--"

The microphone thudded as it was hastily uncovered, and a beat began being broadcast.  Ruckus joined in a moment later.

"C'mon, feel the noi—iiise!"  He yelled, over the song.  "Gi—iiirls rock your bo—oooys!"

"Forget it," Boyd finished.  "Have your fun.  Main cast, meet me at two in the green room to look over the next few scripts..."

With permission given to rock out, several of the jocks raised their arms and yelled.

"We'll get wi—iiild wi—iiild wi—iiild..."

"Hey, that didn't go so bad!"  Said Anthro.

"Wi—iiild!  Wi—iiild!  Wi—iiild!"  Several jocks joined in on the refrain as the extras began milling about as their own accord.

Anthro tossed off his overcoat and joined the quiet riot ensuing around him.  Rolling her eyes, Erin walked off after him.

"So you think i've got an evil mind?  I'll tell you honn—ey...  I do—ooon't kno—ooow  why!"

"I do—ooon't kno—ooow why!"  The rockers in the crowd repeated.

Remaining behind, George crossed his arms and sulked into his chair.  "So what?  We'll still never make it on screen again," he said, looking over at Bas.  "Mark my words..."


Author's note:  Well, looks like Beyond the Pale is going on hiatus again.  I just can't seem to keep up the enthusiasm.  Still have plenty of ideas archived in my head, just not the time or the will to write them down…  So the story is just going to pause here for a while until my will to write comes back.  And if it doesn't…  Well, chapter 25 is a good place to close the story, I suppose.  There's a touch of significance to it…

'Til later.  Crash.