A/N: I know I don't need to start yet another story but uh...I am. This one won't leave me alone so I might as well get to it.

Set back in 1998 so angsty teenage Cooper will be on full display once this thing gets going.


"Mommy? Can you tell me a story?"

Annabelle sat back in her chair, her fingers absently playing with Cooper's unruly bright red hair. "What story do you want me to tell you?" she asked, knowing that there were lots of them that he liked to hear.

"Tell me a new one," he said, snuggling up to her and resting his head on her chest. "I want a new one."

"Okay." Annabelle was quiet for a moment as she thought up of a story he had not yet heard. When she came up with one, she began to speak again. "Once upon a time, there was a little boy and little girl who were trapped in a house with their mother and father. Their father was a loud drunk that liked to yell and their mother was the ultimate ice queen. Cold, mean, heartless…for years the little boy and the little girl were trapped and there was no way out for either of them. But as the years went by, the little boy grew up to be big and strong and he killed the evil parents so he and the little girl could live happily ever after."

Cooper rubbed his eyes. "That's good," he said, trying to hide the fact that he was going to yawn soon. "I don't like mean mommies and daddies. Don't be mean to me, okay Mommy?"

Annabelle nodded. "Okay." She kissed the top of his head. "I think it's time for you to go to bed now."

He shook his head stubbornly. "No Mommy. I want to stay up and wait for Daddy."

"Daddy and Uncle Mark are going to be out late tonight," she said gently. "And you've got school tomorrow."

"So? Daddy says there's no point to preschool anyway." He made his pouty face in hopes that he would get his way.

Annabelle shook her head. "I think you need to go to bed," she said, leaning forward so she could whisper in his ear. "I heard the Tickle Monster might come over tonight and see if you're staying up past your bed time. You don't want that do you?"

Cooper shook his head. He knew exactly what the Tickle Monster was and he did not like it. "Tell him no Mommy," he ordered. "Tell him to stay away or I'll have Daddy smash his head in. Okay?"

Annabelle smiled. "Okay. I'll make sure to do that. Now it's time for you to go to bed."

The sound of his alarm going off woke Cooper from his slumber, causing him to groan and reach blindly for the damn clock. "Bastard thing," he muttered when he couldn't find it. "Where the hell are you?"

"It might help if you actually look this way."

Cooper's head snapped in that direction, his eyes widening when he saw Joie sitting there with a big grin on his face. "Holy shit," he muttered, sitting up and staring at his best (and only) friend in disbelief. "When the hell did you get here?"

"Just a few minutes ago," Joie replied. "Poppa James let me in." His pale green eyes were twinkling in amusement. "So you're not a fan of the Tickle Monster?"

Cooper groaned. He hated it when he slept talk. He started to turn over so he could try to go back to sleep but then he noticed the mischievous look on Joie's face. Catching on to what was being planned, he quickly rolled out of bed before he was pounced on. "Oh hell no!" he exclaimed.

"Aw, come on," Joie said as he got up to his feet and started bouncing on the bed.

"No way," Cooper refused. "You and whatever diabolical plans you have need to stay over there."

"Sorry Coopy, that ain't gonna happen." Joie jumped at Cooper, who easily managed to catch him and throw him over his shoulders. Joie squealed and started trying to get free, but he wasn't going anywhere unless Cooper wanted him too. The size difference between them was very big, with Joie only being about five foot seven and 150 pounds soaking wet and Cooper being almost a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier. "Cooper!" Joie whined. "Put me down!"

"You gonna behave?" Cooper asked.

"Yes," Joie said.

Cooper decided to believe him and put him down on his feet. Joie huffed and slapped Cooper's chest before trying to smooth down his clothes and straighten out his blonde wig. "Damn it, look what you did," he pouted.

"Me? I'm not the one who started pouncing at people." Cooper reached out to touch the wig but got his hand slapped for his trouble. "I was just trying to help," he pouted.

"The last time you tried to help, you got it all tangled up," Joie pointed out. He went over to the mirror to make sure he looked alright.

"Did you raid your cousin's closet again?" Cooper asked, taking in Joie's pink tank top, skinny jeans and six inch heels that looked like they were meant to kill people's ankles.

"Yup," Joie replied. "I had to. Dad burned all my clothes."

Cooper sighed. Joie's dad absolutely despised the fact that Joie was a cross dresser and he did everything he could to make Joie's life a living hell. "You need to start just keeping a whole bunch of shit here," he said. "You know we'll protect it."

"Yeah well, I'll keep that in mind," Joie said. "Now come on. Let's go get something to eat."

"Hold your horses," Cooper said, letting Joie change the subject because he knew the whole dad thing was a sensitive subject for him. "Let me get dressed. I'm not going downstairs in my boxers. Dad will start complaining because I bitch at him when he does the same thing."

Joie laughed. "Yeah but at least you're not covered in Mark hickeys when you run around shirtless." He sighed as he watched Cooper put on a black AC/DC t-shirt and a pair of ripped up jeans. "I miss the red. Why did you have to go to brown?"

Cooper touched his hair (which was what Joie was talking about) and shook his head. "I hate the red. I look like a fucking clown." He slipped on his combat boots and stuck his wallet and his knife in his pocket. "Now come on. I need to go make sure Dad isn't trying to burn this place down by making breakfast."

Lucky for them, they discovered that James was going the cereal route that morning. "Hi Joie!" Connor greeted, waving with the hand that was not trying to stuff Rice Krispies into his mouth.

"Hi Connor," Joie greeted back.

Cooper rolled his eyes at little brother. "You're getting that all over your face," he pointed out.

"So?" Connor asked with a shrug. He looked at James, who was pouring himself a bowl of Lucky Charms. "Daddy, I want to kill some people today, okay?"

"Not at school you're not," James said as he handed Cooper and Joie their bowls and let them have their pick of the cereals that were on the table.

Connor let out a loud whine. "Why not?"

"Because I said no," James replied. "I'll take you out to kill someone later, alright?"

"But Daddy, the kids on the playground call me a retard," Connor complained. "And the teachers keep trying to put me in that stupid special class."

"Well fuck them then," James said. "Kick the little brats in their face and tell the teachers to go fuck themselves."

Cooper rolled his eyes and just focused on eating his food. Connor had tons of issues in school, the main one being his overly short attention span causing him to be disruptive and unruly the whole day through. That was the main reason the teachers wanted to hand him off to Special Ed, although the fact that he could barely read or write his own name probably didn't help matters.

"Look on the bright side honey," Joie said, doing his best to cheer up Connor. "We've only got a couple more days of school left and then we've got the whole summer to do whatever we want."

Connor tilted his head to the side. "But I want to do what I want NOW!" He picked up his bowl of cereal and threw it down on the ground, making a huge mess.

"Damn it Connor!" James groaned.

"Spot!" Cooper yelled, banging on the table to make sure the dog heard him. "Come here boy! You want food?"

It took a couple minutes, but their Old English Sheepdog came in and made a beeline for the spilled food. "Good boy," Cooper said, reaching over and petting Spot's back. His parents had gotten him Spot for seventh birthday so he was the one that was closest to the animal.

"Mark and Crispy Critter are coming home tomorrow night," James said. "Can you two watch Connor while Mark and I go out?"

Cooper shrugged. "I guess." Babysitting wasn't on his list of things to do if he could help it, but he didn't feel like arguing with his dad about it.

"Sweet." James looked much happier now. "Oh and I guess Bearer wants to come by for a visit soon too…so uh, please make plans to help me torture him, alright?"

Cooper and Connor nodded. Neither of them could stand Bearer and loved to help torment him. "Daddy?" Connor said.


"I--" A loud bang from outside startled all of them and James began cursing loudly as he got to his feet and went to go see what was going on. "Damn it! Those idiot neighbors better not have hit my car with that damn basketball again! I'll fucking kill them if they did!"

Cooper shook his head. They probably did…hopefully Dad saves enough of them for me so I can play with them when I get home from school.