Uh... hi.

*Dodges angry flurry of papers, metal objects, and out-of-season fruits

I'm... sorry?

If that even begins to cover it.

Anyway, uh... moving on...

Yep, I haven't updated this in four years. I'm no longer the age of the characters, which makes it sort of hard to identify with them-especially with Lea, since I had to start from scratch with her. Also, my writing style is way different, as in bunches more mature. I'll try to keep this and other chapters pretty consistent with how I wrote five years ago and not so-eh-Victor Hugo-esque? (Go out and read Les Miserables if you can-wonderful writing, wonderful story, and everything. I must say I've written for the fandom in this story's absence... *Dodges more items) For one thing, I haven't written in first person in years (provided I've got a choice-some of my English assignments have had to be done in first), so writing that way is still a bit weird for me. I've read and reread my older stories to ensure there's a match. Mostly the chapters will just be longer (yay!) because that became a habit. However, four years don't just go away, and there are going to be changes, however subtle I've tried to make them, and hopefully they are for the better.

Life got in the way as it has a nasty habit of doing.

Big thanks goes out to all of you who reviewed this story and PM-ed me in passing years, especially Kiri-Anne3x, who has helped me with finding the inspiration to continue this after growing hopelessly into ripe old age. (Guess what? I finally found a plot! You'll find it in this chapter.)


Mikey's house was beginning to get really boring, especially on a Saturday morning with rain pattering at the window.

"What've you got there, Data?" I looked over his shoulder—Technology Review. Why was I not surprised?

"Here." Mikey tossed me a spare copy of Film Review.

Beaming, I snuggled down into the couch. There was nothing more amusing than a critic gone rabid on some unsuspecting movie, however sadistic that sounded. "Got any Modern Screen for later?"

If there was a response, I didn't hear it. When somebody laid into Dirty Dancing, I didn't listen, and nor did I mind it—not one bit.

"Mouth, I might have to leave soon," said Eli quietly over a game of cards, eyes shifting about the room. "I'll take two."

"All right, but I'll probably stay." Mouth dealt her a pair. "Dealer takes one. Why do you have to leave?"

"Homework," said Eli. "I'm ridiculously behind."

"You wouldn't mind helping me with it, would you?"

"Of course not." Eli smiled. "Just tell me later on."

"Mikey, do you have pliers?" Data asked his friend.

"What do you need pliers for?" asked Mikey. "Please felicitate. Uh, emancipate?"

"Elucidate," I murmured.

'Thank you,' he mouthed to me.

Data hadn't picked up on any of it. "I'm going to build this! Here, look." He showed Mikey the magazine.

"No, no, no. Data, you promised."

"Just this once!"

"That's what you said last time, and the time before… no listen, Data, my Mom's really going to kill me this time."

"Please?"

Mikey contemplated this for a second. As long as nothing short-circuited, he'd probably survive until dinnertime.

"Yeah, well, I'm going to watch you. No explosions."

"No—no explosions this time. I promise!" Data beamed.

Mikey sighed. "Why do I think I'm going to regret this?" He asked himself. "Data, why do you always have to build something so am—ambitious?"

"Dream big," Data said simply. "Dream big, and problems small."

"Never heard that one, Data," said Mouth. "Which commercial?"

"I made it up!" Data beamed proudly.

"Oh, come on," said Mikey.

"You did not," Mouth chimed in.

"I did! I did make it up!" Data complained. "Here. Come look at what I'm building."

Mouth just rolled his eyes and dealt again, with a hint of a smirk on his face.

Just when we'd all settled into our routine, Chunk came in with tears streaming down his face.

"Chunk, what happened? You're late."

"What's wrong?"

"It's Sloth, guys! He's gone! Missing! Out somewhere that I don't know about!" Chunk sniffed.

I closed my magazine and dropped it on the floor. Even though I hadn't met Sloth until after the Cohens adopted him, I knew exactly whom he was talking about, and I knew it exactly when anybody else did.

"Gone gone, or shopping for groceries?" asked Mouth.

"No! He was dragged off!" said Chunk.

"What? Who would do this?" exclaimed Stef.

"How do you know?" I asked Chunk.

"Scuff marks on the floor?" asked Mikey. He'd seen more detective shows than any of us could count.

Chunk, whose crying had died down, burst into another round of sobs.

"No evidence," Data murmured.

"Genius insight, double o-negative," said Mouth.

"Hey!" I barked. "Leave him alone. He's right."

"Chunk, are you sure he was dragged off?" Mikey asked.

"He would never leave the house without telling us, and he hasn't come back! You guys don't believe me, do you?"

Chunk lied about many things. But Sloth was too precious to him. Anybody could see how torn he was.

"Yeah, Chunk, we do," I sighed. "It's just that the police won't."

"We'll have to take it on ourselves," said Stef.

"How will we do that?" Eli spoke up for the first time that evening.

Everybody looked to her in surprise.

"We don't have the resources to find him," she continued calmly. "We're not professionals."

Silence.

"Yeah, well, it's worth a shot," Mikey muttered, looking down at his feet.

"Damn straight it is," agreed Mouth, looking apologetically at Eli.

"Besides, we do know some of the circumstances in Sloth's value to other people since we rescued him," added Stef.

Mikey whistled. He recognized being outdone when it came to sleuthing habits.

"Where'd you get that, Steinbrenner? Forensics in the science lab?"

"I actually pay attention in class, Mouth," Stef said.

"That's nice to know, in case, you know, we're ever going to write a paper about the topic," said Mouth.

"I don't know, Mouth. You don't need to write a term paper to know the difference between Martin Sheen and John Kennedy." I retorted.

Stef and I shared grins as everybody laughed.

"Shut up, Lea," Mouth shot back. "This is the most dynamic to happen since One Eyed-Willie's treasure was found! It's an outrage!"

I rolled my eyes, but secretly I was jealous of my brother for being a part of that grand adventure. Bronchitis had kept me in bed and barely alive that year. Dad told me that nobody had died of that since medicine was considered to be witch potion. I still think I was going for a record.

"It's that weak immune system of yours, kiddo," said my brother. "You gotta stop eating Domino's."

"I like their pizza!" I sniffed. "Besides, it's not like I'm fat."

"Debatable."

I tackled Mouth and pinned him to the carpet in Mikey's house and smiled smugly up at Eli, watching with a horrified expression on her face.

"Point proven," Mouth struggled to get up.

I scoffed and stood. "That is because you're weak, my friend. You should work out more so you can be strong like Brand."

"Ooo! Somebody's got a crush on Brand!"

"Shut up, Mouth. You don't know anything about that."

Mouth shot a pointed glance at his girlfriend. "I beg to differ," he said dryly.

I screamed in frustration and stormed from the room.

"What a creep," said Mouth.

"Takes one to know one," Stef shot back.

"Well, that explains why you two are such good friends, then!" retorted Mouth.

"It also explains why you're her brother!"

Mouth had nothing up his sleeve except to glare at Stef and then look endearingly at his girlfriend. "Come on, Eli," he said. "Let's go somewhere else."

Stef walked past Mikey, Chunk, and Data into the kitchen.

"What was that?" Stef asked. "Your time of the month?"

"I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Mouth." I spat.

"Well, today's work is done. We can't decide what to do if all of the Goonies aren't here."

"Oh, he's sold us out long before that," I said. "My own flesh and blood, too!"

"Do you like Brand?"

"Not even a little! Why is it that—" I sighed. "I'm sorry about yelling, Stef, but I so obviously don't that it's a bit of a sore point. I don't feel like doing this anymore. I'm going home."

Stomping past the still-silent three, I closed the door firmly and walked back the block to my and Mouth's house. Opening the door, I was so sure to be alone that I leapt out of my skin to see Mouth and Eli were cozy on the couch with a movie. They must have had a similar idea. I made a face at Mouth before crawling up to my room and slamming the door. Sure, it wasn't any different than any other fights we had as siblings; it wasn't even the most venomous one by far. Still, now that there was a variable in the experiment that was our lives—Eli—it was easy to find a source of blame. She was not at all interesting and certainly no match for my brother. Stef filled that slot perfectly, but apparently that didn't matter to him—not anymore.

As soon as I heard the back door slam (apparently Mouth had gotten bored), I slinked downstairs and turned on the television, flipping through the stations until I got the tail end of a Cosby Show episode and after that Hill Street Blues.

"Nope," I muttered to my science equations. "Sorry. The fun has won out."

The doorbell rang, and I swung my legs over the couch to get it.

"Hi," said a tentative Mikey. "Thought I'd drop by and check up on you."

"Come in," I said. "I'm not doing anything, and Mouth's not back yet. Sorry about my little spat with him this afternoon," I opened the door wider.

Mikey noticed that the television was on. "What are you watching?"

"Hill Street Blues," I said. "Want me to change it?"

"No." Mikey sat next to me on the couch.

"You know what show I miss?"

"I Ran All The Way Home?"

"No," I laughed, remembering. "Well, yes—but Mork & Mindy was what I was referring to, actually. That was a funny one. After that, Robin Williams sort of fell off the face of the Earth. I mean, have you heard about anything with him in it?"

"No," said Mikey.

"He's got loads of potential," I said. "I really hope he breaks into movies, or even back in TV, provided it's quality like Mork & Mindy was. Oh, and I never got to thank you for the ice cream."

"No problem," Mikey shrugged. "Too bad Data and Chunk couldn't come."

"Yeah, too bad." I smirked, remembering a time when Chunk got us thrown out for spilling his ice cream right after he left the register and then demanding a refund. Whatever I felt about his absence was far from remorse. "So, uh… what happened after I left?"

"Nothing. After you and Mouth left, there was nobody to argue with, and none of the usual bandage."

"Badinage?" I couldn't help but laugh. We all thought he'd gotten over his word problems. "Where'd you even pick that one up?"

"Somewhere. You?"

"One of my pirate novels, probably."

"Is there something going on between you and Robert Louis Stevenson that the rest of us should know about?"

"Nothing that time won't erase." Rolling my eyes, I flipped through the channels once Hill Street Blues stopped. "How about the Hardy Boys? I insist that the novels are better, but ah well."

"Is it on?"

Wordlessly, I gesticulated toward the television screen.

"Okay, then."

"How's your dad doing with the mayoral slot? He's only got one year left, right?"

"Yeah. Apparently he's doing a good enough job that his dissenters can only criticize his background and not his policies."

"What, just because he doesn't have a political degree?" I scoffed. "Your dad's a curator, Mikey, and that's the best prerequisite for local politics there is. Half of politics is knowing which parts of history were mistakes and not to repeat them."

"Thanks, Lea."

However, my jaw had dropped as I looked at the screen. There was a trailer for Little Nikita on, and my, weren't my eyes chock full of candy!

"What are you looking at?" Mikey was puzzled.

"Sidney. Poitier… River ain't too bad, either." I muttered before presently clearing my throat. "Anyway, what about Sloth? When did Chunk say he was taken?"

"It's been all day at this point," said Mikey.

"That's really bad." I bit my lip. "The Fratellis are locked up, though, with about 700 years between them. Who could it be?"

"I have no idea."

"I'm guessing that whoever wants him doesn't want to murder him. Sloth's too sweet for anyone to want revenge for anything. Worst case scenario is ransom, so I think I can safely say that it can wait until morning."

"Thanks."

"Huh?" I looked at him.

"For being optimistic."

Mouth burst in a few moments later, thankfully unaccompanied.

"Ah, hello Mikey. Dealing with my hormonal, crazy sister?"

"Mouth, what are you talking about?" I smirked—nothing better than picking a trap and ensnaring all others in proximity.

"Care to explain your behavior? If I have to tear you away from another Sidney Poitier poster, I swear…"

"It's a novel idea, Mouth, known as paying attention in class," I said grimly. "Health class, as a matter of fact. Don't pretend you don't understand."

Silence.

Mouth would've laughed if he weren't the target. He just made a face. Surprisingly, though, Mikey didn't laugh, either.

I waited around for what seemed like hours, then stalked up to my room and slammed the door.

"Point proven," Mouth grabbed something to munch on. "Watch the mood swings, my friend."