AN: I am REALLY sorry for taking so long with this. For some reason I couldn't get past the beginning of this chapter and it was a huge effort to even look at the story for a while. Then today I started again and it all just fell into place. I hope this was worth the wait. The name of the classic is at the end.
AN2: I've started creating a directory for all the JONAS stories on FFN. If you want to help compile all the necessary info or just to see where it's gonna be, the link is on my profile.
A Little Bad
The entire Lucas family sidled down the aisle of folding chairs, thankful they'd found room enough for them all to sit together.
"Don't worry, Dad," Nick said, "if this works we'll be able to go to Washington."
"Whatever," Tom muttered.
All four boys shot worried glances at their mother, who was no less confused. "Tom, honey," she said, "are you okay?"
"Really? Because I would have expected you to be freaking out right now."
"Eh," Tom said with a shrug.
"He's finally lost it," Joe said dully.
"He'll be okay," Kevin said. "Once Nick fixes this, everything will be back to normal. You can fix it, right?"
"In theory," Nick said, flipping through the notebook where he'd recorded Angeletti's offenses.
"And it looks like you'll have help," Joe said. The room was nearly full of parents and students, most of whom Joe recognized as people who'd gotten in trouble over the past week. He spotted Van Dyke and grudgingly waved. At the moment, they were together in this.
The moment ended quickly however, when Stella walked in. Joe waved to her but she ignored him and took a seat near the back beside a guy wearing a trench coat and fedora. Who was that guy? Was that who Stella had been hiding that morning? He knew she'd been up to something! And he was gonna find out what, he decided, rising to his feet in a spurt of righteous anger.
"What do you think you're doing?" Nick snapped, pulling Joe back into his seat. "They're starting."
Joe grunted in response.
The first half hour of the school board meeting was more boring that Mr. Smeltzer's history lectures. Soon enough Frankie was snoring quietly on Sandy's lap and Tom was playing Tetris on his phone. This only worried the boys more and Nick ran through his notes frantically one final time as the report on the quality of cafeteria food wound down.
"Hey," Kevin said quietly, nudging Joe in the arm.
"I know Stella's sitting at the back with some guy," Joe bit out, "you don't need to remind me."
Kevin awkwardly tried to turn in his seat. "Stella's with some guy?"
"Knock that off!" Joe hissed, smacking Kevin's shoulder. "If she sees you looking she'll think you're looking for me and then -"
"Oh my gosh," Nick said. "Would you just let Kevin say whatever he was going to say before you went all crazy?"
Joe folded his arms but shut up all the same. Nick nodded encouragingly to Kevin.
"Does the new superintendent look familiar?"
Nick and Joe looked up at the superintendent, who was kindly encouraging the current speaker to shut up already.
Joe shrugged and muttered something that amounted to, "I don't know," while Nick gave it a moment more thought. The woman did look familiar, maybe she'd been a teacher in the district for a while. That would explain where he'd seen her. He craned his neck, but hers was the only place without a name plate and he was forced to give it up. A moment later the meeting finally got around to Angeletti.
There was an immediate roar of voices vying for first shot at the man and the superintendent had to yell for order so loudly that she needed a drink of water afterward. Angeletti, sitting at the front of the room, remained silent. His back was ramrod straight and the only sign of distress he showed was the whitening of the knuckles on his fisted left hand.
"I suggest," Mrs. Snark said while the superintendent gulped down her water, "that we let the Lucas brothers go first." She smiled brightly at them and even began to clap her hands.
"Oh boy," Joe muttered, sinking down into his seat while Kevin pretended to be way too engrossed in Tom's game.
Nick gulped and began to rise.
"Actually," the superintendent said, "I believe Miss Malone has reserved the first spot." She ignored Mrs. Snark's pout and gestured kindly for Stella to come forward.
"What's she gonna do?" Kevin asked.
"She could ruin everything," Nick said, knowing that this had to be handled carefully.
"Why is he going with her?" Joe asked darkly.
"Yeah," Nick said as Stella and the mystery guy walked past. "That's the thing to be concerned about."
Just as Stella began to graciously address the crowd, Kevin began batting at his brothers wildly to get their attention.
"What what what?" Joe asked angrily, pushing Kevin's arm away.
Sandy leaned around Tom to give the boys a look and they all went quiet until she sat back again.
"I know that guy," Kevin whispered out of the side of his mouth.
"You do?" Nick and Joe asked, both in very different tones.
"He's the guy I saw this morning! And you're never gonna believe, I think he's -"
Just then Stella asked the mystery man to "get things ready" and he pulled off his hat before getting to work on the laptop and projector set up at the side of the room.
"Paolo!" the boys gasped.
Stella and the superintendent shot them a look.
"Sorry," Joe said sheepishly and all three of them slid down in their seats.
"Does this mean Fiona's here?" Joe asked worriedly, sliding further down.
"I hope not," Nick muttered.
Paolo nodded to Stella that everything was ready to go.
"Could someone turn off the lights?" she asked.
When the lights went off Paolo hit a button on the laptop and the projector flickered to life. It took a moment for the boys to realize that they were seeing Angeletti's office. The angle was odd, like someone had put the camera next to one of the filing cabinets in the corner.
The door opened and Angeletti came in saying, "Make this quick, Miss Misa. You have class in a few minutes."
"You gave the guys detention again," Macy said, all but glaring at the principal as he took his seat behind the desk.
"They created a disturbance," Angeletti said mildly while organizing papers on his desk.
"They were trying to stop a disturbance."
"I do not see a difference."
"I'm not playing on Saturday," Macy countered.
Angeletti's hands stilled and he slowly looked up at Macy. "Is that so?"
Macy gave one curt nod. There was a long moment of tense silence.
"What?" Macy asked.
"Summer school. I can keep the Lucas brothers here all year long. And then how would they have their precious world tours? You will play in Saturday's tournament or I will give those boys detention every Saturday from now until they graduate - which will be a long time coming at this rate. Are we clear?"
Macy seethed and for a moment it looked like she might hit him but she turned abruptly towards the door.
"What about the hamster?" she asked, now out of frame.
"I imagine it'll be dissected soon enough."
Paolo cut the video and someone brought the lights back up on the silent room. Macy had made it to the front of the room during the presentation and was standing calmly beside Stella.
"I demand to know who this young man is!" Angeletti burst out, rising from his seat. "He has illegally invaded my office and my privacy. And I'm fairly certain he is not even a student, which means he was trespassing on school grounds."
"John," Stella said at the same moment Macy said, "Luke."
"He's not John or Luke," Kevin said, "he's -"
Joe and Nick leapt on Kevin, clapping their hands over his mouth.
"He's confused," Joe said.
"He's really bad with faces," Nick added.
The superintendent gave a slight, amused smile. "Who this man does not matter at the moment," she said to Angeletti. "What matters is that you appear to have extorted a student. Do you have anything to say for yourself? Can you shed some non-incriminating light on this video?"
Angeletti straightened his jacket. "Miss Misa is the one guilty of extortion. She attempted to get her friends out of detention by threatening to quit the chess team."
This brought on its own round of outraged cries. No one who knew Macy could believe that she would quit a team or dare to threaten a teacher.
The superintendent let the yells go on for a moment longer than before.
"Miss Misa?" she asked when things had died down.
"I would never try to get someone out of detention if they deserved it," Macy said sincerely. "And even though I can't prove that," she added, glancing back at Angeletti, "you can ask anyone who knew me before high school and they'll tell you that I hate chess. A lot. The way I hate losing. Losing to -"
"She gets it," Stella whispered.
Macy smiled sheepishly and went on. "I hadn't played in years before Angeletti told me that if I didn't he'd give the guys detention."
"And," Stella added, "you can check the school records. She wasn't on the chess team until this week."
"It happened on the same day you and Joe got your detentions rescinded, didn't it?" Macy asked.
"I think so," Stella agreed.
"All right, ladies," the superintendent said, "that's enough. Mr. Angeletti? You are suspended until further notice and all punishments you doled out in your short time as my replacement will be on hold until this can be straightened out." She went on, explaining that the board would be reviewing the case against him, but the sound was drowned out by the joyous cries from the Horace Mantis students in the room.
"Is Paolo gonna be okay?" Nick asked the minute they reached the girls after the meeting was over. It wasn't the most important bit of news but he knew if he gave Joe or Kevin the first word he'd never get any answers.
"He'll be fine," Stella said, "he's already on his way back to LA."
"How did you guys do that?" Kevin asked.
"You remember Principal Duncan?" Stella asked, nodding to the superintendent. "She came back to check on the school a few days ago and we got to talking. Turns out she never trusted Angeletti to be her replacement and when I told her how horrible he was she asked if I could help bust him."
"So," Macy said, "we called Paolo since he's the only paparazzo we like. He was more than happy to help."
"That's who you were hiding this morning!" Joe gasped. "And in the girls bathroom? Ew."
"You told our Dad, didn't you?" Nick asked. "That's why he's been so calm."
Stella nodded. "I didn't want him to worry."
"But you couldn't tell me?" Joe asked. "I thought I was gonna have to spend all day Saturday with Van Dork."
"Don't call him that! And no, I couldn't tell you! You can't keep a secret to save your life."
"Hey! I can keep a secret! I never told anyone about your weird fear of clown fish."
Stella gasped. "Joe!"
"Is that why you never saw Finding Nemo?" Macy asked sadly. Her question went unanswered since Stella was already chasing Joe around the nearly empty room. Everyone else, it seemed, had been eager to go out and celebrate.
"Uh, guys?" Tom called, dodging around Stella and Joe as they went out the door. "We're gonna go soon!" Kevin and Nick nodded and Tom turned to go. As he left they heard him yell, "Stella! Not the face! He needs that for Washington!"
This brought instant smiles to Macy, Nick, and Kevin's faces.
"We're going to Washington!" Kevin and Macy cried happily, grabbing each other's hands and jumping for joy.
"Wait," Kevin said suddenly. "What about the chess team?"
"If Coach didn't already hear that I was off the team, he'll know by the time school starts tomorrow."
"Good," Kevin said with a grin. A moment later their jumping and yelling began again.
Nick rolled his eyes and headed for the door, wincing at the sound of Stella and Joe yelling. As happy as he was to be going to Washington, he wasn't sure it was worth it if he had to travel with the four of them.
AN: The classic this is based on is Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Congrats to everyone who guessed! And as always...
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