Author's Note: Well! This took awhile. Sorry about that! I can't promise that I'll update any quicker… I'm in college and I have trouble staying focused. But I'll do the best I can, okay?
Ah, an introduction to FF and Lynx in this chapter. Eventually, everyone will be added, as well as more of our darling Johnnies. And I promise, Jack will be prominent in the next chappie.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who's helped me with this fic (again), especially DB, who got me rolling after a looong writer's block. Oh, and of course, thanks to all my readers (especially my JA gals!). Enjoy!
"NO!" Jack yelled.
The Beatific Bard stared at the smoke slowly filtering out of DB's pistol. Then she lowered her eyes to her chest and the red stain that was slowly spreading over the front of her shirt. She touched her fingers to it, and studied the blood on her fingers with a hazy curiosity. Then she collapsed to the ground.
"BB!" Jack called out in horror, starting forward to help her. DB cleared her throat and Jack stopped in his tracks. Her pistol was now aimed at his head.
"Not so fast, my poetic prince," DB cooed. She eyed him critically. "To be honest, I don't even know if YOU are worth the effort. I mean, who's even HEARD of The Source, anyway?" Then she turned to the other Johnny. "But YOU… I could catch quite a price for you, Mort. You're not quite Sands, of course, but you're definitely up there."
"A… a price?" Mort stammered. The way DB was studying him was pretty creepy. Gone was the swooning look that usually took over her eyes when she gazed upon one of the Johnnies. Instead, she was sort of… appraising him. Staring at him like he was some sort of product or item—and not in the good way.
"Mmm, yes. Do you know how popular, attractive, and fashionable schizophrenia is these days? The dough I'll get for you, Mortie-bear… Unbelievable."
"Money?" Mort asked, incredulously. "That's what this is all about? You angels are selling us? For money?"
"Oh no, sweetie. Not the angels. Just me," DB replied. She grinned. "Call it greedy and unethical if you like, but it suits me just fine." She approached Mort, keeping the gun trained at his forehead.
Mort's mind was spinning. He may be suffering from multiple personalities, but even to him this was insane. DB, their lovable Ops Angel, was turning on the Johnnies for… money? It just didn't make any sense. There had to be something else. But what? he thought to himself.
He watched DB come closer, and wondered if he should try and call Shooter out. He wasn't fond of his Mississippian friend, but Mort himself wasn't any good when it came to protecting himself. That was Shooter's territory; he was the brawn, and Mort was the brain. But the writer was so terrified at the sight of DB and her unwavering pistol that he couldn't seem to think straight.
"Come, lovie," DB said, as she reached Mort and placed the gun at his temple. She trailed her free hand over his face, smiling softly. "You'll fetch a good price for ol' DB."
Mort froze at her touch, a mere second away from somehow finding Shooter within him to fight against DB without getting himself killed.
As luck would have it, another insane personality came to Mort's rescue.
"For lack of anything witty to say…"
THWAP! DB's breathe caught in her throat and she fell to the ground. Mort flinched in surprise and looked up at Sands, the eternal cocky smirk gracing the agent's face.
"Yes, yes, you're very clever… now help her," Jack suddenly grumbled, quickly kneeling at BB's side. She had her hands clenched over the wound in her chest, her breath coming soft and slow. Sands crouched next to her, studying her blood-soaked clothing.
BB stared at the ceiling. She was in the midst of quite a freak-out session.
Oh god. I've been shot. She SHOT me! she thought to herself. Panic crept up her spine like first-rising vibes of an acid frenzy. The thought of the bullet laying lodged in her chest made her stomach churn. Ew, oh god. Get it out. Someone help me. I cannot die here, I CANNOT DIE HERE! She thought she felt her lips move and she furrowed her eyebrows. Did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me?
It was odd how similar impending death was to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
"Well, kiddo. Looks like you've had a bit of bad luck, hm?" Sands commented. Jack shot him a look.
"This is no time for sarcasm, Sands," Mort said quietly. Sands, in turn, rolled his eyes. He patted BB's arm, and she slowly turned her gaze towards him.
"You're a fairly new angel with a horribly inept Johnny, so I guess we'll forgive the dramatics this time," he told her, flicking his eyes over her bloody figure. "Nevertheless, it's time to get going. So go ahead. Imagine yourself better."
Both BB and Jack stared at Sands skeptically.
"You've got to be kidding," BB croaked in disbelief. Sands shrugged.
"Try it. You'd be surprised," he replied. BB sighed, and closed her eyes. She cried out in pain, writhing on the ground, but the blood stain was receding—almost as if it was going in reverse. In a matter of moments, the blood was gone. BB lifted her hand and the bullet appeared within it, and she tossed it away.
"There. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" Sands asked her. She opened her eyes and glared at him.
"I'm still in a lot of pain, and smeep you," she rasped.
"Such language for an angel! Alas, imagination can't make everything better. The pain will linger. But I'd say that's a small price to pay for getting shot through the chest and living to tell the tale," Sands said. Jack helped her up, and she gasped at the pain that shot through her chest. Her Johnny held her closely, watching her with concerned eyes.
"She had to have a real gun… not a water pistol, not a paintball gun, but a real smeepin' gun," BB growled through clenched teeth. She was trying hard not to lean her entire weight on Jack, but the pain was so great that it was taking all of her energy and will not to curl up into the fetal position.
"Well, you know. She takes after her original Johnny," Sands said proudly.
"In more ways than one," DB added.
Mort, Jack, BB, and Sands slowly turned around.
"Oh no," Mort breathed.
"I'm fairly resilient, too," DB finished. She raised her arm and aimed the pistol at Sands. He sighed.
"This is really getting old," he commented, a bit annoyed. Then he raised his own gun and shot DB's pistol out of her hand in one fluid movement. She gasped.
"Unfortunately, you can never be the real deal, sugarbutt," Sands said. With that, he grabbed her arms, pulled a roll of duct tape out of her pocket, and restrained her. As she sat on the floor with her arms and legs taped together, Sands crouched down to meet her eye to eye.
"Now. You're going to tell us what you did with unangeled, savvy? I would hate for things to get messy."
"A drug person can learn to handle such things as seeing their dead grandmother crawling up their leg with a knife in her teeth. But no one should be asked to deal with this trip."
Duke was quite aware that he was quoting himself to himself, but the scene before him had rendered him so speechless that it was the only thing he could think of to say.
FF was standing in the bathroom, emptying the contents of Duke's case into the toilet. His disbelieving, twitching eyes watched as she unscrewed the cap of a salt shaker and poured cocaine into the water of the toilet. Then she flushed.
Finally, he shrieked. "What the SMEEP, man? You've gone completely sideways!"
FF looked up at him with calm, disinterested eyes. It was then that he noticed.
"Oh, smeep," he muttered, chewing frantically on his cigarette holder. FF was not only stone-cold sober, but she was dressed all in black. Two words scrolled across her back:
Duke took a step back, horrified. "They got to you, didn't they? Those god-smeep manta rays," he whispered.
FF showed him a very official looking badge. Then, before he could defend himself, she leapt forward and grabbed his arms roughly, turning him around and pressing him up against a wall. Duke grunted and struggled against her grip.
"No, for smeep's sake! Intolerable vibrations! Get out! Flee!"
"I am placing you under arrest for the possession of illegal substances. You have the right to remain silent…" FF began.
"Fiend! You voted for Hubert Humphrey, didn't you!" Duke yelled. He heard the click of the handcuffs being placed around his wrist. FF spun him back around to face her.
"Are you refusing your right?" she demanded.
Duke swallowed. "Listen, calm the smeep down. You'll be straight in a few hours," he told her. His mind was spinning, which wasn't a good mix with the drugs that were already affecting his thoughts.
Fiend grabbed his arm and started pulling him towards the door, pulling out a walkie-talkie with her other hand.
"I've got him, chief," she spoke into it.
"Good. Bring him to me," came the reply on the other end. Duke's ears perked up at this. The voice, decidedly female, sounded vaguely familiar.
"Who the smeep is that? WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR? They can't get away with sandbagging a doctor of journalism…" Duke yelled in anger. FF seemed to not even hear him, she just continued dragging him.
Duke was panicking. True, lots of books had been written in prison, but he wasn't ready or willing to take that trip. Smeep, they'd find a lot of charges to commit him with.
"I NEED A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY!" Duke screamed.
FF shoved him up against a wall, his face squishing against it.
"You need more than a lawyer, buddy," she sneered. With that, she dragged him out of the room. Duke literally kicked and screamed the whole way.
BB, Jack, and Mort sat in the kitchen of Seraphim Hall. They hadn't been sure if they would be able to take the sight of how Sands would find ways to get information out of DB—BB's stomach was already a bit weak from her shoot-out, or rather shot-at, with her. The pain was still pretty bad, but she bit her lip and kept herself from complaining. If she did, she knew that she would hear it from Sands. She wasn't in the mood to deal with his biting sarcasm.
"I hope he doesn't hurt her too badly," Mort spoke up, chewing thoughtfully on some Doritos.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he does. After all, she can just imagine herself better," BB said with a scowl. Jack patted her arm reassuringly. She dipped a chip into the bowl of guacamole she had made and ate it, sighing with contentment. If nothing else, she had guacamole.
The three stared at each other, not moving a muscle. The noise had come from the floor above them, practically right over their heads. They looked up slowly.
"Did you…" Mort began.
"Yeah, I heard it," BB interrupted. She got up off of her chair and stood up, with a groan. She nearly fell over with the pain, but Jack jumped up to grab her. "We have to go see," she gasped, "It could be the Unangeled."
Jack looked up at Mort, who nodded, and they left the kitchen and went back out to the living room. Sands was crouched in front of DB, studying her curiously. He looked up at the others as they approached him, a puzzled look on his face.
"I told her that if she told us where the Unangeled were, I would give her the one thing she's been missing," he told them, standing up and scratching his head. They looked at him expectantly.
"Me," he explained. "But—"
"Sands! How could you! What about Arenas!" BB chastised him.
"I don't see her being my biggest fan right now, do you?" Sands shot back. "Anyway, it was something to bargain with. It's DB, for smeep's sake. She would have jumped at the chance! But…" He trailed off, almost pouting.
"But?" BB and Mort prodded.
"She told me to smeep off, and that she'd rather have..." He murmured the last word, casting his eyes towards the floor, his fingers clenching in anger.
"What was that?" BB asked.
Sands glared at her. "She said she'd rather have EL, all right?" he said, fuming. "EL! The smeeping jingling minstrel! HIM! Over ME!"
LF put a hand to her mouth to hide her smile. Jack chuckled.
Sands paced in front of DB, clearly agitated. "I mean, really. El! He's… he's… boring! And look at how he dresses! And I mean who's the better shot, let's be smeeping honest here. And can he be anymore gimmicky? 'Oh, look at me, I'm El Mariachi, I'm oh-so-tortured and vengeful. Let me carry around this guitar case and prance around like a magnificent poof'," he ranted in a deeper voice and Spanish accent.
BB rolled her eyes. "Yes, Sands, you're ever so much prettier than El. What WAS she thinking. Can we get to the point?" she asked.
Sands sighed. "Well, to make a long story short, I kissed her," he said.
"That's it? That was your ploy to get information out of her?" Jack asked, almost out of relief.
Sands shot him a look. "Well, she was clearly in need of a reminder of why I'm so great," he explained.
Jack and Mort shook their heads. Sands' ego was usually pretty entertaining, at least in small dosages, but in their current predicament, neither of them had the patience.
"So… no information about the Unangeled, then?" BB urged.
"Keep your panties on, I'm getting to the interesting part," Sands reprimanded her. BB sighed and Jack scowled at Sands.
"Anyway, after I pulled away, she kind of flinched and got very still. Then she said my name in this questioning tone and then jerked really hard and passed out," he finished. He gestured at DB, and everyone then realized that she was unconscious.
"Well, that's just great, Sands. You got yourself a smooch and we still don't know anything," BB snapped.
"Hey, I didn't know she would pass out," he retorted. Then he smirked. "Aw, who am I kidding. Who wouldn't?"
A loud THUMP came from upstairs again. They all looked up.
"We've been hearing that on and off for the past few minutes," Mort murmured, his eyes full of trepidation. Sands checked his gun to make sure it was loaded and cocked it. BB grabbed Jack and thrust him in front of her, and nodded to Sands. He put a finger to his lips and they all began to ascend the stairs. BB held onto Mort's arm and stayed hidden half behind Jack. She was still having trouble walking without any pain.
The trio wandered the halls of the dorm, peeking into rooms as they passed them. It was odd to see everything so deserted—the building was usually filled with the loud voices of excited sidekicks. But it was silent. Too silent.
Finally, they came to a closed door. The Johnnies looked at BB expectantly.
"It's, uh, Lynx's room," she whispered softly. Her heart leapt into her throat. She sincerely hoped that Lynx hadn't gone off the deep end as well. Lynx had been, at many times, her comrade. She wasn't sure how many more possessed Angels she could take—mentally OR physically. But then, Lynx wouldn't have a gun. Hopefully.
With a crash, Sands kicked open the door and immediately fired a bullet into the room. They heard the sound of glass shattering, followed by a terrified, high-pitched scream. BB ran forward and entered the room, shoving Sands out of the way.
Lynx was crouched in the corner of the room, curled into a ball. Shards of glass covered the floor around her and some were caught in her hair—Sands had shot out the window. Her hands covered her head and she was shaking.
Mort and Jack followed BB into the room. Jack glared at Sands. "A little rash, don't you think?" he said. Sands shrugged and entered as well.
"Better safe than sorry," he replied.
BB quickly brushed the glass off of Lynx and pulled her into a hug.
"It's okay, it's okay, it's just us," she murmured. Lynx looked up, fear flashing through her eyes, but she relaxed a bit when she recognized them.
"Oh, thank god. I thought…" she trailed off, then hugged BB back, tightly. Then she stood up, brushing herself off. She raised an eyebrow at Sands. "Thanks for the, um, greeting, Sands," she told him, almost scolding.
He simply shrugged.
"Oh god, BB, what is going on! DB just waltzed in here this morning and went CRAZY!" Lynx said, her heart pounding at the memory.
BB and Lynx sat on the bed.
"What happened, Lynxie. Tell us everything," BB said. Lynx took a deep breath.
"I arrived here early this morning; no one else was here, yet…"
Lynx walked into the kitchen, getting ready to make herself some breakfast. The sunlight shone in through the windows and it was a beautiful day, as usual, at the academy. She was daydreaming about the Earl as she rummaged through the fridge, wondering when the DVD would come out. She sighed, and jumped a little when she heard the front door open and slam shut.
"Hello? Anybody here?" DB's voice rang out. Lynx grinned.
"In here, DB, making some breakfast! Want some?" Lynx yelled back.
"Sure, Lynx!" DB called, "I'll just be in here, watching a movie!"
Lynx smiled and made some breakfast for the two of them—pancakes. She carefully balanced the plates in her hands and walked into the next room.
"Look, he's got some nice things to say here: 'The soldiers' costumes are very realistic'. That's positive!"
"Rave of the century."
Lynx chuckled. DB was supporting one of her unangeled again—Ed Wood, this time. An unconventional Johnny, perhaps, but lovable all the same. Suddenly, there was a bright flash, as if someone was taking a picture. Lynx blinked, spots forming before her eyes. When the spots faded a bit, she found herself staring into DB's sunglasses. She yelped and the dishes in her hands crashed to the floor, smashing into pieces. The pancakes lay, ruined, at her feet. She frowned at them in dismay.
"Oh, DB, you scared me! I'll go clean this up," she said, scolding herself mentally for being so jumpy. She bent down to start picking the mess up.
"Don't bother. I think you currently have other things to worry about," DB replied, her voice low.
Lynx looked up sharply. DB was holding her pistol in her hand and grinning maniacally.
"DB… what?" Lynx whispered, a shiver rolling down her spine.
DB was silent for a moment and Lynx gasped as the air around them warped, then grew still. DB cocked her pistol.
"I'm sorry to inform you that the academy is closed for business," she told Lynx. "You see, there are no more Johnnies available to train for."
"What? What are you talking about?" Lynx demanded.
"Let's just say, they've been taken care of," DB answered cryptically. Lynx opened her mouth to answer, but DB cut her off.
"That means that, unfortunately, you're no longer an angel-in-waiting," she said.
"You're just… pointless."
Lynx's eyes filled up with tears, but she kept them from falling.
"What did you do with the Johnnies, DB?" Lynx asked, her voice cold.
"Not for you to worry. They'll find a good home… and fetch a good price," DB said with an evil grin.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Lynx demanded.
DB sighed. "Bored now," she sing-songed. The air warped again, and Lynx found herself in her dorm room. She ran to the door and jiggled the handle, finding it locked. She tried to imagine herself outside the door, but her imagination powers seemed to be blocked. She pounded on the door.
"DB! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU! LET ME OUT!" she screamed. Then she heard the door open.
"That's when you guys came in," Lynx finished.
The four of them sat for a moment, thinking.
"They'll find a good home and fetch a good price," Mort repeated.
"It sounds like a dog pound or something. An adoption agency," BB offered.
Sands shook his head. "No. It seems that our Angels don't really care about our welfare. They're just intent on getting rid of us, for whatever reason. An adoption agency would be too nice, and at least for dogs, you can usually get them for free at places like that," he told them.
The room was silent as the four thought about what DB could have done with the unangeled. It seemed like the answer was just out reach. They were almost there.
Suddenly, Mort jumped up.
"I got it!" he said, and they all looked at him.
"If you wanted to sell something and make the most money you possibly could, where would you sell it?" he asked them.
"To a sucker who didn't know when he was getting scammed?" Sands offered.
"RIGHT!" Mort rushed, "You'd sell it at an auction! Or on EBay or something!"
"Yeah!" BB yelled in excitement. "That way people could fight to get the cheapest price, and the price would rise in turn!"
"But where?" Mort asked in bewilderment.
"If I know my DB, I know where this shindig's being held. Let's go."