A/N: Another update! I'm really grateful to still have people reading this story. I started writing this about 6 years ago, and published it 5 years ago... Wow still so shocking that it's been so long, and I'm still not done! In a couple of weeks, I'll be a SENIOR in college (YAYY!) so you guys can imagine how busy it gets, and free time in high school is BEYOND different than free time in college. And since I just finished up my internship this summer and have a few weeks before school starts again, I decided I should commit to my promise and begin finishing this fic. So… I hope those still reading enjoy :). And feel MORE THAN free to review!
Chapter 28: The Day He Was Expelled From School
So it was final: Ned Bigby had a record and wasn't graduating with us.
When did things get so real?
The moments after I read Ned Bigby's text are unclear now. I can only remember my breathing getting shorter, tears burning my eyes, and this odd ringing noise filling the air.
I never saw what happened next coming, that's for sure. But, as they say... desperate times call for desperate measures.
::The Day He Was Expelled From School::
"Moze… MOZE!" It was Lisa's voice in what seemed to be some far, distant place I was miles away from. Though she was sitting right next to me, I couldn't hear her voice. My mind was reeling and racing with thoughts of Ned. Thoughts that revolved around Ned vandalizing Crubbs' property. Ned being expelled. Ned getting arrested!
I swallowed the built up saliva in my mouth as my surroundings began to come into focus again.
"Lisa…" I whispered.
I turned to look at her. "I'm going to kill him. Lisa, I am going to kill him."
She offered a sympathetic smile while Cookie leaned forward from beside her to look at me. "That's if his mom hasn't done it yet."
I smiled faintly. "I actually should give her a call, see how she's taking this." I looked around and noticed that the auditorium was almost completely empty. "Wow, was I out of it that long?"
"Yeah, for about two years." Cookie quipped.
I sighed and pulled out my phone, going to my contacts to dial Ned's house phone number. The phone rang several times before a chipper, "Hello?" answered.
"Hi, Mrs. Bigby, it's Jennifer. Was calling to check on you."
"Check on me? For what reason, dear?"
I paused. So maybe she didn't know. I just assumed that when Ned texted me, someone had gotten him out of jail, and I figured the first person he would call was his mother… guess I really didn't know him as well as I thought.
"Oh, um, just to say hello… see how your day is going… ya know, check on your day?" I improvised awkwardly. I had to get off the phone.
"Jennifer, what's going on? Is that really why you're calling?"
"Yes, definitely. And I see you're doing great! So I'll talk to you later. Have a great day!" I hung up the phone before she could respond and turned to Lisa and Cookie.
"What happened?" Cookie asked with brows drawn together curiously.
"She doesn't know." I stared at the two in disbelief. "Which doesn't make sense. Ned would go to his mom before his dad about something like this for sure. His dad would berate him and never let Ned get a word in. His mom would at least let him speak before she starts her rant… This doesn't make sense."
"Well call his dad's office. See if Ned's with him."
I did this as well and spoke with the secretary. Mr. Bigby hadn't left the office at all, so he couldn't have picked up Ned. What the hell was going on?
"Something's off… like this doesn't make any sense." I said with narrowed eyes.
"Yeah, something's going on here." Lisa agreed.
Cookie grinned. "Let's skip the rest of the day so we can figure out what's going on, okay?"
Just then all of our phones vibrated.
Hey All. So I guess you've heard the news. Loomer and Bigby are expelled because they pulled a prank off campus :(. Guess that means the tradition must be broken… Senior Prank Week is officially no more!
I could care less about Senior Prank Week. I had Ned to worry about. I turned to Cookie and nodded my head. "Let's do this."
"Where exactly are we headed?" Lisa asked from the passenger side of my car.
"To the police station."
Lisa and Cookie's eyes lit up excitedly. "Are you serious?" They exclaimed.
When I nodded, they both cheered. "Oh my gosh! This is so freaking exciting! Way better than being at school. Ahh, this is a real life adventure and mystery a—and it's like a freaking movie!" Lisa shouted, actually putting a smile on my face.
Cookie grinned. "What should we call ourselves? Every mystery solving team has to have a name. We can't name our squad after a dog like Shaggy, Velma, and those guys… None of us have superpowers so we can't put a Super or Incredible or Amazing in our title... Ugh! Come on, guys! Help me out!"
"How about the We're Gonna Kill Ned When We Figure Out What The Hell Is Going On… Team?"
They laughed awkwardly at my words, making me sigh. "Sorry guys. I'm a bit on edge. Pulling a Ned and being a Debbie Downer."
"Understandably, at least." Lisa said. "I just can't see why in the hell Ned would even hang out with Loomer, especially after he stole Ned's poetry to date you. Shouldn't he hate the guy? What would make him team up with him to, of all things, commit a crime?" Lisa asked in one short breath.
"I… I think I know. I mean I've been so busy with wrapping up all of the organizations I run. I haven't really had time for Ned… Either it's a cry for attention or he got bored and hooked up with Loomer for Senior Prank Week." I responded, guilt overwhelming me completely in that moment. "If I had just relaxed a bit and enjoyed these last weeks with Ned, this wouldn't have happened."
Cookie sat forward from his seat. "Whoa, Moze, you can't blame yourself. Ned made this stupid decision, it has nothing to do with you. So don't go feeling bad, alright? I'm just shocked he would stoop to this level to get attention… it seems so un-Ned-like. It confuses the hell out of me."
"Me too, Cook." I said as I pulled into the police station parking lot. We all hopped out and walked inside to a relatively empty station. Only a few people sat in the waiting area, and about three people wore handcuffs near the booking area. There was one person in line, and I made my way to stand behind him, but before I could take two steps, Lisa tugged on my arm, turning me around to face her.
"Can you even get info from them about someone you're not related to? Like, aren't there rules you have to follow? Do you know any of them?"
I shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm going to try, regardless. If they ask, I can make up something... say I'm his cousin o-or stepsister... even though that's beyond disturbing to even think about."
They cringed, making me smile a bit. If they weren't here with me, I'd probably be pulling my hair out. They gave me the push I needed to turn around and get in line to discover exactly what Ned's fate was. Minutes passed before the man in front of me made his way to the waiting area.
I smiled at the police officer. "Hi," I looked down at the nametag on his shirt, "Officer Williams. I'm here to bail out Ned Bigby. He came in this morning."
Officer Williams smiled pleasantly. "Sure, let me just check the system. We've had a bunch of guys brought in last night and this morning. Not sure why so many crimes were committed during this time frame, but the rate is pretty high."
"Really?" I said nervously as he typed some things into the computer and wrote some things down, as well. "Cr—crimes like what?"
"A couple of DUIs, a few guys are in for assault or battery… Really violent guys this time around. You can't imagine the trouble they've been causing in those tiny little cells."
Just then loud yelling erupted from the back where the jail cells were located. Officer Williams sighed. "See what I mean? This is probably the third fight this morning, and it's only 10:30. Better hope this Ned fellow isn't in the mix."
He ran to the back and my face went completely pale. All of the color drained as I looked at Cookie and Lisa. "Oh my gosh. Ned's mom and I aren't going to get the chance to kill him because those guys back there are going to do it for us!" I said, my voice becoming strained with worry.
"Hey, hey, I'm sure it's not a big deal. Ned can handle himself. And hopefully if he and Loomer are as buddy-buddy as we think… uh, they'll have each other's back? Isn't that what happens in jail or prison or whatever? Make alliances?" Cookie suggested helpfully but unhelpfully.
I let out a long groan when Officer Williams returned. He smiled at me. "All handled. One pretty bad injury, but that's nothing new!" When he saw the look of stress on my face, he cleared his throat awkwardly and continued going through the system. After about the longest seven minutes of my life, he finally spoke, "Ah, alright. Well I found some info for you."
I hurried back to the front desk. "He's here?"
"Nope, he is not."
I frowned. "Okay, well can you tell me who bailed him out?"
He shook his head. "Sorry ma'am, 'fraid I can't do that."
"W—well why not? Is it against the rules?"
"Well, it's not a matter of it being illegal or not to release that information. It's just that a Ned Bigby wasn't brought in here at all. There's no Ned Bigby in the system."
He raised both brows and looked behind me. A line was beginning to form. "Yeah, no record of a Ned Bigby."
"Um o-okay. What about a Billy Loomer? Could he be here?"
The officer laughed. "When isn't Billy Loomer here? I'd be surprised if he wasn't, truth be told."
My mouth dried. "W-well, is he?"
He began typing on his computer again just as his walkie talkie went off. He spoke some codes into it before looking back at me. "Ma'am, we'll be getting quite a few rowdy folks in here soon, and I need to clear this line a bit so a disturbance won't occur. I'll need you to sit in the waiting area so I can assist other people."
"But I'm not done asking questions, yet!"
"Look, miss, I know Loomer and the kid wasn't back there when I just checked. If he came in earlier, then maybe someone bailed him out. Maybe the guy you're looking for bailed him out if he's not in the system. But right now, I need you to step aside..." When I didn't move, his friendly face became stern. "If you don't remove yourself, I'll be happy to get someone to move you instead."
Narrowing my eyes, I turned on my heel and made my way back to Cookie and Lisa, who moved towards the door to avoid the people coming into the station.
"Ned isn't here, guys. He was never here."
"Well, was he at another jail?" Cookie asked.
"This is the only one in the area, and the closest to Crubbs' house. He only could've been brought here." I put my hands on my hips, bewilderment apparent on my face. What the hell was going on?
Suddenly, a thought popped in my head. It was the only place I could imagine Ned to be. I turned to my friends. "I know where we're headed to next, you guys."
I headed out of the door before they could even react, determination written all over my face. Our mystery squad may not have a name, but I was definitely going to figure out what was happening with Ned.
We all jumped out of the car and hurried to the front door of Billy Loomer, our next stop. While Cookie and Lisa wore excited smiles at our adventure, I was strictly business. I rang the doorbell and waited impatiently for someone to answer, tapping my foot on the ground.
Just as I was about to ring the doorbell again, the front door opened to reveal Loomer standing there. His wide eyes showed his shock and he hurriedly stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
"Loomer what's going on?"
"So I guess you heard. Yeah, I got expelled. Were you worried bout me, babe?" He grinned at his words but I only scowled back at him.
"Never… ever in your life… call me babe again. And everyone knows you were expelled. What I want to know is why Ned was apart of your stupid plan to prank despite the consequences?"
"Why don't you ask him? He's the one who hit me up and asked if I wanted to participate. Of course I was down."
My heart briefly halted. "Wait… it was Ned's plan?"
"Yeah, it was all him. Didn't know he had it in him."
I glared at the boy, anger at Ned for being such an idiot suddenly coming to a boiling point. Before I knew it, I had shoved Loomer against the door, my hands gripping his shirt tightly in my fists. "Billy Loomer, where the hell is Ned? Tell me now!"
His eyes seemed to widen more than ever. "Moze, I—I don't know! I really don't! Can you let me go?"
After a moment of staring him down, I released the boy. "Fine. If I find out you have a clue where he is… my fist? Your face."
"Jeez, I haven't seen this side of you since middle school… I kind of like it… a lot."
"Ugh," I turned around but quickly turned back to face him, "If I find out, you won't like it at all." Again I turned around and headed towards my car, Lisa and Cookie on my heels.
"Soooo… that was awesome." Lisa shrieked as we hopped in the car. She and Cookie laughed and gushed at my actions but I was still in my mind, thinking. Something was so, so off. Why did he close that door so quickly? What was he hiding? And why did he always flirt with me when I brought up Ned? Like he was trying to change the subject…
"He's lying." I declared.
"Huh?" The two said in unison.
"He's lying. He has to be. You guys saw how quickly he closed that door. And you saw how he kept changing the subject. He knows where Ned is… I wouldn't be surprised if Ned was in there right now."
"Maybe his living was dirty... He could've been ashamed." Lisa suggested.
I scoffed. "Please. Billy Loomer has no shame. No… I have a hunch that Ned's there. And the only way to get to the bottom of it is to infiltrate."
Lisa and Cookie looked at each other worriedly. "Um, you're taking this mystery a bit seriously, don't you think?"
I only smiled and pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street. I made the first right and made sure my car could not be seen from Loomer's house. "Alright guys, we'll be able to see his living room from the backdoor window. We'll be able to see if Ned's in there."
"Are you suggesting we trespass?" Lisa asked.
"Either you're with me or you're not." I stated simply before getting out of the car. As I headed down the street, Lisa and Cookie got out of the car and caught up with me.
"We're with ya, Moze. We're with ya."
When we were about three houses away from Loomer's, I turned to the two. "So here's the plan. You guys are going to distract Loomer by knocking on his door while I sneak around the back where Ned should be hiding. Tell him that I was so pissed I abandoned you guys here a-and you need to wait for a ride."
Together, we headed down the street, myself crouching behind the two in case Loomer was watching. When we got close enough, I hopped through the neighbors' bushes and headed to Loomer's backyard while Cookie and Lisa went to his front door. I jumped over bicycles and other toys laying out, and had to briefly laugh at myself for taking this secret agent thing to the next level. I was almost tempted to do a front roll over a dog bone, but I restrained myself. In the backyard I peered through the open blinds of his backdoor at Billy as he talked to Lisa and Cookie. I carefully examined the rest of the living room. There was no Ned… but he had to be here…
That's when I spotted it.
He was here.
Just then, a face popped in front of the window. I couldn't control the scream that escaped my lips. I jumped backwards and tripped over a toy, falling flat on my butt. As I sat there stunned, I heard the backdoor open and there stood Ned Bigby in his handsome but stupid glory.
He had a huge grin on his face that made my heart melt but made me want to hit him at the same time. "Need a hand?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes and got up on my own, wiping my butt off. "No, I don't need your hand because you're a MORON! Why are you even here with that criminal, Ned? What has gotten into you? Why did you vandalize Crubbs' property? Don't you realize how this can impact the rest of your life? How this petty crime is going to be with you forever? Did you really think—wait, did you even think at all? And then have the nerve to text me 'sorry to disappoint you'? Are you serious? And you know your mom has no clue, right? Ugh, I can't believe you're hanging with this IDIOT, Ned. You are so-"
He laughed out loud and tried to reach out and hug me, but I pushed his arms away. "Moze, listen, I can explain."
"You better explain! Answer every single question I just asked!"
Again, he laughed. "I don't think I can remember them all, babe."
"Do not call me babe, and you better get to remembering right now." I crossed my arms over my chest and stared at him, my foot tapping once again.
That smile never left his face. "Damn, I love when you're like this."
I threw my hands up and started to walk away but he gently grabbed my wrist. "Wait, wait… I can explain everything to you. I promise." I turned around, and saw that Loomer, Cookie, and Lisa were now standing in the doorway, the three of them wearing smiles as well. Guess they had been informed of whatever was going on.
"You better." I grumbled as I stomped by him and inside of Loomer's house. Whatever excuse they had better be good… beyond good.
What happened next was everything I hadn't expected.
Only Ned Bigby could get involved in something like this.
Only Ned Bigby.
A/N: Chapter 28 DOWN! About two or three more to go before I can officially say this story is complete! I imagined this being a 30 (or 31 for an epilogue) chapter fic, and I can't believe I'm so close to this goal. Finishing this is everything to me, honestly. And though my updates are far apart, my dedication is still intact, and I WILL get this done. I refuse to leave it incomplete. So if you just finished reading this, I hope you enjoyed and I'm excited to update this for you. Anyway, as always, MUCH LOVE!