A/N: I have no idea where this came from but for once, I know where it goes. Directly after my fic 'Payback'--for you calendar sticklers, that'd be January, 2017--and doesn't give away any vital plot points for the final two arcs of the CATverse…because someone still hasn't posted the most important plot point yet. -glares in the general direction of the Captain-


Woodward Retirement Home, Keystone City…

"It never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many advances there are in science, there is no substance known to man that can get out old people smell."

"Angela! What if they hear you!"

The woman at the nurse's station shrugged in response to her coworker. "Most of them are deaf anyways, Peg. You worry too much."

"I think she worries just enough," a shrill, rough voice interrupted from behind the two young women, making them jump.

Peg, the slight redheaded nurse who had been scolding her darker haired counterpart, turned to find one of her charges leaning heavily on her walker and glaring at Nurse Angela.

"Miss Machiavelli!" Peg scolded, "What are you doing out of your room?"

"What's it look like I'm doin' out of my room, havin' a picnic?" the old woman replied grouchily, "I'll have you know, I'm out here because I yanked that damnable call cord six times and got no answer--and it's Mrs. Machiavelli, thank you very much."

"Dunno what kind of idiot would want to marry a shrew like you," Angela muttered under her breath.

The old woman, whose white hair was still thick and bushy, despite her apparent age of eighty or so, hobbled up to Angela.

"You think old people got no recourse, sweetheart?" Mrs. Machiavelli poked Angela in the shoulder repeatedly. "I got news for you, honey, I've done more unspeakable acts of cruelty in the past month than you've done in your whole life, and--"

"Alright, that's enough, Mrs. Machiavelli," Peg said in her sweetest, calmest 'go with the nice nurse now, crazy lady' voice. "Let's get you back to your room…"

Mrs. Machiavelli staunchly refused to budge. "I am not going back in there unless you do something about Miss Penwhiffle. If I have to watch one more episode of The Price is Right, I'm going to go barking mad."

Angela smirked. "A little late for that…"

"Alright, that is the final straw!" If she'd have been a little quicker, her movement may have been called a 'lunge'.

"Oh, what're you gonna do, beat me with your purse?"

"Angela!" Peg exclaimed, scandalized. "That's enough! I wouldn't be surprised if you got fired for that!"

"Or blown up," Mrs. Machiavelli muttered darkly.

"Come on, Mrs. Machiavelli," Peg said, turning back to the old woman. "Let's get you back into bed, hm? We'll see if we can't convince Miss. Penwhiffle to change the channel."

"Good," the old lady replied, sparing Angela one last glare before turning her walker around and starting for her room. "D'ya think she'd have a problem with MTV?"

Peg stared at her. She'd met some weird ones in her time, but this one took the cake…ever since the day she'd arrived a week earlier, she had acted distinctly…not old person-like--and this request for music videos was just another thing to add to the rapidly growing list of 'odd' requests. "Are you sure you want to watch MTV?"

Mrs. Machiavelli paused and looked at the young nurse. "You know what? You're right…VH1 is better."

She shuffled towards her room with the confused aide behind and when they finally made it inside, they found Miss Penwhiffle fast asleep, snoring to the sights and sounds of 'Mary Jolene Francis, come on down!'.

After getting her patient situated and changing the television station to something more suitable (cartoons were not the usual fare, but so long as it kept her problem patient quiet, who was she to complain?), Peg stepped out of the room and started back for the nurse's station, intent on giving the mouthy Angela a piece of her mind.

But, when she got there, she found Angela conversing with a man appearing to be in his forties, painfully thin and worn looking, brilliant blue eyes scanning the occupants of the room as though he wished very badly to be anywhere but here…

"The crone has a visitor," Angela said, nodding towards the man

He seemed to relax when he heard Angela's statement and he shot her an oily smile. "She's going to make sure you pay for that."

Angela smiled back at him, just as insincerely. "What can she do? She's an old lady with a bad hip."

"Even old ladies with bad hips have friends…"

"Oh, God, the blue haired old lady society will have me on their hit list? Whatever shall I do?" Angela mocked. "How much time before I get a knitting needle to the back, do you figure?"

"Oh…a week at most, I'd say." The man turned to Peg. "May I see her?"

"Er…well, I just put her back to bed," Peg replied. "But I guess…"

She motioned for him to follow her and took him directly to Mrs. Machiavelli's room, where she knocked before entering.

"Mrs. Machiavelli, I have someone with me that wants to see you," Peg chirped as she entered the room, ushering the man in. "I think it's your son."

Mrs. Machiavelli looked up from the obviously fascinating Daffy Duck and lifted an eyebrow. "Son? Try husband."

Peg's eyes went wide as saucers and she stared at the man.

He looked at her, embarrassment clear and cleared his throat. "Er...no, no, I'm her son…she's just confused, aren't you mother?"

The elderly woman glared at him from her place on her bed. "Don't push it. I may have the body of an eighty year old, but I can still kick your scrawny--"

"I'll just leave you two alone."

"That won't be necessary," Mrs. Machiavelli said snippily. "He has only to answer one question yes or no…" She turned back to her son. "Well?"

He scrubbed a hand over his face. "No. I'm afraid not."


"We're working on it…we even got Doctor--er…that is, we brought Kurt in on this. He estimates a week."

Mrs. Machiavelli narrowed her watery black eyes at the young--well, in comparison to her anyway--man. "Then maybe I'll survive this."

"If you don't, I'll never hear the end of it."

"Poor baby, they'll never let you hear the end of it, and I'll be dead. How very tragic for you," she replied, clearly not feeling the least bit sorry.

"I'll be back to collect you when it's time, Te---mother."

Mrs. Machiavelli waved him off, giving him the permission to leave that he hadn't even sought, the door banging shut behind him and startling Miss Penwhiffle out of slumber.

"He seems a bit prickly," Peg said conversationally, refilling Mrs. Machiavelli's water glass as Miss Penwhiffle grumbled and rolled over to go back to sleep.

"As a cactus," the old woman replied grouchily, snatching the glass before it was even half full and taking a swig. "But, he's my ticket out of here…"

Peg tilted her head at the old woman. "Oh…is your son planning on taking care of you personally then?"

Mrs. Machiavelli snorted. "The only 'taking care of' he'd ever do for me would involve a freshly dug, unoccupied grave…but, yeah something like that."

"I'll be sorry to see you go," Peg said automatically, realizing how hollow her voice must have sounded even as she spoke the words.

"Not as sorry as that friend of yours out there is gonna be," Mrs. Machiavelli answered. "The second I'm out of here…just you wait, she's gonna regret every nasty thing she said to me…I've got plenty of friends in low places."

Mrs. Arlene Machiavelli died later that night, after she was taken away by an ambulance that nobody could remember calling for, under the care of three of the strangest looking EMTs that Peg had ever seen. One had green hair, another had black and purple, and the third was a man who looked like he hadn't slept in a month and a half.

Even more disturbing than that was the fact that a few days after, a young woman--well, older than Peg, but younger than Mrs. Machiavelli's son-in-law--who looked remarkably similar to the deceased woman, came to pick up her belongings...and made a point of flashing Angela an "I'm gonna get you, you total, utter bitch" grin.

But, above all else, the most, most, most disturbing thing of all...

Nurse Angela Peters was found in her apartment, stabbed to death with a bright blue chrome knitting needle.

Peg swore to be nicer to all the more irritable patients from that day forward, lest she be rubbed out by the blue rinse racket…