Notes: This fic is based on 'Teers in the Hood but you should be able to follow along even if you're not familiar with that episode. Some names and events have been changed.
I really wanted to try a fic where the Planeteers were forced to rely on their communication and their own thinking instead of being able to fall back on their powers. (As a result, Cap probably won't show up in this fic.)
I also quite liked the fact that in this episode, the Planeteers were very split up – they were quite isolated from one another and had to act against one another (or at least pretend to) sometimes in order to keep each other safe.
The title of this fic is taken from the Patty Griffin song, Rain.
Warnings: This fic will contain violence, bad language, and sexual content, including content which may be triggering. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with reading content like this.
It's hard to know when to give up the fight
The things you want that will never be right
It's never rained like it has tonight, before
Gi clutched the letter in her hand as she stared out across the ocean. The others had left her to mournful daydreaming, chatting quietly and keeping themselves entertained as the geo-cruiser flew steadily onwards.
She unfolded the letter for what could have been the hundredth time that morning.
I am writing to you on behalf of my brother, David King, whom you met when he joined your parents' research project in Busan. Of course, David returned to America shortly after he arrived, to teach history and geography to high school students.
The school David teaches at now is located on the divide of two gang territories. He has spoken to me often about his despair regarding the students and their violent ways and attitudes.
The other night, David attempted to rescue a student by driving through a storm of gunfire. He was shot in the chest and crashed his car into a wall. He is now in a critical condition in hospital.
I know it is a lot to ask of you, but David has spoken often of you and your friends, the Planeteers, and I am hopeful you could come and attempt a peaceful reconciliation between the two gangs at the high school.
I am unsure of how to reach you by telephone, but my details are provided on the back of the page. Please get in touch.
Gi folded the letter again. She wished the geo-cruiser could go faster. She was suddenly terrified that they would land and Brian would be waiting for them with a message that David had died during the night.
She slumped down in her seat a little, remembering the first time she had met David. He had been a university student then, and she couldn't have been more than eight or nine. He had arrived in her parents laboratory, eager to learn, and passionate – but not entirely sure what particular direction of study he wanted to follow.
She had listened, hovering in the doorway of the kitchen that first evening of his arrival as her parents poured tea and cleared away the remnants of their evening meal. David had admitted to them that he was still exploring his options. He had thought, even then, that teaching was possibly an area he wished to explore, but the opportunity of studying with Gi's parents had been too good to pass up.
Incredulous that someone was thinking about passing up the ocean and its creatures for books, Gi had stepped forward.
"I can show you my friend, Kisa," she had said, fully-confident in expressing herself in English and feeling very bold all of a sudden.
Her mother had turned in alarm. "Gi, it's time for you to get ready for bed," she had said. "This is time for the adults to talk."
"Kisa's a dolphin," Gi had explained, ignoring her mother and sitting in the chair opposite David. "You should learn about her. It's more fun than teaching."
"Bed!" her father had demanded. "Right now."
David had grinned at her and waved as Gi was led away to her bedroom by her mother. She had smiled and waved back, and whenever she had seen him from that point on, he had made special efforts to ask her questions about her favourite animals and what she wanted to be when she grew up.
She smiled at the memory of him tolerating her when she had acted so demanding of his attention. She supposed her nine-year-old self had been a little in love with him, desperate to keep him around and have him working alongside her parents so she could talk to him and ask him questions about America and what he was studying at the time.
But after a few months he had apologised, telling Gi's family that he had decided to return to America and teach after all. Gi's heart had withered a little – especially when he told her he wasn't even going to teach marine biology, but boring, dried-up old subjects like history.
He had stayed in touch, though. He had sent her and her parents many letters over the years, with photographs and details of what he was doing. He had managed to make it sound exciting, though she couldn't help but harbour a little bitterness towards him after he'd turned his back on the study of marine biology. Still, she had kept all of his letters, and had written back to him each time with her own stories and dreams. She had told him what had happened to Kisa after the smelter had been built nearby, and he had responded by sending her a stuffed dolphin from SeaWorld.
She had put the plush dolphin (she had secretly named him David) into her suitcase as the Planeteers had packed their bags earlier that morning. They were flying to David's school, enrolling as new students in an attempt to ease the violence from the inside. None of them had hesitated when Gi had told them what she required of them.
Well – there had been a little hesitation.
"I can't believe we're goin' back to school," Wheeler was moaning at that moment. "I hated school."
Linka sighed wearily. "So you have said," she answered. "96 times since leaving Hope Island!"
"96 is a bit of an exaggeration," Wheeler said, craning his neck around to look at her. "Maybe you do need to go back to school, babe. Take some more math classes."
"No, I think she is right, Wheeler," Ma-Ti answered. "It seems like 96 times to me, as well."
"Still plenty of time to get to 100," Wheeler said, grinning at Linka.
She rolled her eyes and opened her book again. "I hope I am not put into any of your classes, Yankee."
"I hope I'm in all of your classes," he said, ignoring the fact she was trying to ignore him. "I'm hoping to copy all of your homework."
Linka spluttered indignantly and Wheeler started to laugh.
"With any luck, we will not be there long," Kwame said.
"I dunno, man," Wheeler said, shifting his attention from Linka for a moment. "It's gonna take something pretty special for these kids to listen to us. We're the new kids and they're pretty set in their ways."
"Lucky we are pretty special ourselves," Ma-Ti said confidently. "I am sure we can do it. And we will find out who shot Gi's friend, as well."
Gi smiled weakly at him. At that moment she was finding it hard to feel confident.
"It must be around here somewhere," Gi said, peering through the front windows of the geo-cruiser.
"Down there!" Kwame said suddenly, pointing.
"There's Brian," Gi confirmed, nodding. "Land down there. He said we can keep the geo-cruiser in his storage garage. It'll be out of sight there, and safe."
"Safe," Ma-Ti muttered, rubbing his temples. "This is not a safe neighbourhood."
Linka leaned towards the Heart Planeteer worriedly. "Are you all right, Ma-Ti?"
"Just a headache," he mumbled, leaning back in his seat. "It will pass."
Kwame landed the geo-cruiser beside the row of storage garages. It was mid-morning and misty drizzle started to fall as the Planeteers exited the geo-cruiser.
Brian held up his hand in greeting, and smiled when his eyes settled on Gi.
"You must be Gi," he said, shaking her hand. "It's nice to finally meet you."
"And you," she answered, smiling at him. "How's David?"
"The same, I'm afraid."
She nodded, and then set about introducing everyone.
"It's nice to meet you all," he said warmly. "You can store your craft in there – it'll be a tight fit, but if the measurements Gi sent me are correct, it'll fit."
"They are correct," Kwame said with a smile. "Trust me – she is never wrong with things like that."
Gi rolled her eyes with a smile and they waited as Kwame gradually piloted the geo-cruiser towards the storage shed, Wheeler directing him with improvised hand motions.
"Bozhe moy, Wheeler!" Linka cried, pushing him out of the way. "You are going to steer Kwame to Hong Kong if you do not look out." She eventually managed to steer Kwame straight. The geo-cruiser fit snugly into the garage – though Kwame had to use the escape hatch in the floor to get out.
"Well," Brian said, clapping his hands together once everyone was together again. "From what I can understand, I have nothing to worry about now the Planeteers are here!"
They all smiled nervously.
"I hope not," Gi said. "We haven't ever had a mission like this before, though. We're usually dealing with environmental disasters and pollution."
"Well, you're dealing with pollution here, too," Brian said, taking Linka's suitcase for her. She smiled at him, ignoring the look on Wheeler's face.
"It's just a different sort of pollution," Brian continued, leading the way. "Hatred and violence hang thick in the air of these neighbourhoods."
Ma-Ti nodded, looking pale. "I can feel it," he whispered to Kwame. "I have never felt something like this. People are afraid..."
"Don't connect to it, little buddy," Wheeler said sympathetically.
Ma-Ti shook his head. "I have not used my power yet."
Kwame frowned, feeling very worried all of a sudden. He hung back a little, letting Brian stride away with Linka and Gi either side of him. Wheeler scowled.
"Ma-Ti," Kwame asked softly, "I feel weak, too." He clenched his fist and felt only a faint surge of adrenaline down his arm. His ring glowed feebly.
"We are going to need a plan b," Ma-Ti said. "I do not think we can rely on our powers here."
"So if things get out of hand, no Captain Planet?" Wheeler asked in alarm.
Ma-Ti shrugged. "At least, not around here."
Kwame sighed and hefted his bag on his shoulder. "I cannot see things improving as we get closer to the gang territories." He led the way and Wheeler and Ma-Ti hurried after him, feeling increasingly anxious.
"I'll warn you now, it's not much," Brian said, sounding a little worried. "I bought this place a few years ago when the crime rate dropped and the neighbourhood looked like it was going to improve. But, it didn't, so here I am, stuck with a house I'm never going to renovate, let alone live in."
The Planeteers peered out of the windows of Brian's van. Through the rain, the house loomed up at them, leaning a little crookedly and looking beaten and sad. The paint was peeling, and one of the side windows was boarded up. A tree stood bare and sickly-looking in the front yard, surrounded by clumps of rough grass and dirt, which was turning to mud thanks to the steady downfall of rain.
"There are only four bedrooms," Brian apologised, turning the engine off.
"That's okay," Gi answered. "Linka and I will share."
Linka nodded in agreement, and they all grabbed their bags and hurried for the porch. The boards creaked and groaned under their feet, and Wheeler glanced down worriedly.
"Er, how much weight can this thing bear?" he asked.
"I don't think you'll plummet through it any time soon," Brian assured him with a smile. "But I wouldn't go bouncing around on it."
He keyed the door open and ushered them all in.
"Kitchen and dining to your right," he said pointing. "Living room to the left, and there's a bathroom tucked back behind the stairs. The basement's down here –" He knocked on a door on the way past, "– but there's not much down there but old furniture. Another bathroom, and the bedrooms, are upstairs. It looks a bit crummy, I'm afraid."
"We'll make do," Gi assured him. "It's fine, really."
Brian nodded and handed them each a key. "I wouldn't walk around here alone," he warned. "You're not far from Clayton's territory, and from what I can understand, he's the leader of one of the gangs involved in the shootout David interrupted."
"What can you tell us about the other gang?" Gi asked.
"They call themselves The Wrecking Crew – led by a kid known as Main Dog," Brian said, giving them a wry smile. "David thinks he's a little more reluctant to get violent – mainly because he's got a kid brother, Ronnie."
"What are they fighting about?" Kwame asked.
Brian shrugged. "The latest rivalry seems to stem from the fact Ronnie is dating Clayton's sister, Julie. Clayton doesn't like this. I think Julie's suffered a few black eyes from Clayton because of it, but she refuses to leave her relationship with Main Dog's brother. Clayton thinks the best way to deal with it is by wiping the other gang out."
"Oh this should be a piece of cake," Wheeler muttered. Linka elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
"Anyway, if you are forced to wander around alone, go out the back door and cut across Mrs. Medina's back yard. She knows you're here and she doesn't mind you cutting through her yard to get to the next street over. It's safer, and better lit."
"Thanks, Brian," Gi said.
"Sure. I'll be in touch through phone calls, and if you ever need to visit me, you have my address. It's a few miles away, but you can get there on the bus." He checked his watch. "Anyway, if you don't mind, I want to get over to the hospital before visiting hours are over. Did you want to come, Gi?"
Gi looked torn. "I do, but I think we need to talk about tomorrow," she said, glancing towards the other Planeteers.
"You should see your friend," Linka said immediately. "We will unpack and we can talk when you get back."
"Go and see David," Ma-Ti agreed.
Gi smiled gratefully at them and shrugged at Brian. "Guess I'm coming with you, then."
Gi bit her fingernails, staring down at David. He looked thin, and his hair was starting to grey already, though he was only in his early thirties. A bandage hid what she imagined to be an ugly, stitched wound on his forehead. More bandages ran around his chest, hiding the bullet wound which had nearly cost him his life.
"They're not sure when he'll wake up," Brian said quietly. "The head wound he received in the crash is pretty nasty. The bullet only just missed his heart, so they're willing to let him recover a little more before he wakes and puts further stress on his body."
Gi just nodded numbly. "It's strange," she said slowly. "He could only have been 20 or 21 when I saw him last. I was just a little girl, but he was so nice to me. I feel like I owe him something – like he's been looking after me for so long I need to repay him somehow."
"This is just a favour, Gi," Brian said. "You don't owe him anything. If it gets too difficult or too dangerous, stop. I don't want to put you through anything that's too much for you. David wouldn't want that, either."
"It's okay," Gi said softly. "How long can we stay with him?"
"Another twenty minutes or so."
She nodded, and sat at David's bedside.
Linka folded the last t-shirt and placed it on top of the others, closing the drawer neatly. She had unpacked her own suitcase before deciding to unpack Gi's as well. She'd discovered the stuffed dolphin, a little ragged and worn and obviously well-loved. She'd placed it on Gi's pillow with a smile.
She stretched and checked her watch. Gi shouldn't be too much longer.
She sank into the lumpy mattress on her bed with her book, but left it resting on her chest, deciding to daydream for a while first. She couldn't seem to shake a sick sort of unease, which had settled over her as soon as she'd left the geo-cruiser. She clenched her right hand and watched her ring glow weakly. She doubted she could summon more than a gentle breeze – the usual feeling of power and energy seemed absent in her arm.
Linka jumped, and looked up. "You are back already?" she asked.
Gi nodded and sank onto the end of her bed. "Visiting hours are over for a while. I can go back later, if I want, but there's not much I can do."
"How is he?" Linka asked, discarding her book and sitting next to Gi.
Gi shrugged, and her eyes glimmered with tears. "It looks bad, to me," she sniffed. "Brian says his condition hasn't changed in days."
"I am sure things will be okay, Gi," Linka said comfortingly. "Your friend sounds very strong and the doctors will do everything they can."
"I know," Gi whispered, wiping her eyes. "He's just always been there for me. I really want to do this for him. I really want him to wake up and find things better, you know?"
Gi sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. "I think I need to lie down for a while."
"Okay," Linka answered, giving her a gentle hug. "Call if you need anything."
"Yeah, thanks," Gi sighed, stretching out on her bed. It creaked under her weight and she winced.
Linka smiled and closed the door behind her. Wheeler's bedroom was to the right, at the end of the corridor. She could see him stretched out on the bed, his suitcase only half unpacked and his closet door hanging open.
"How have you managed to get the biggest bedroom?" she asked, leaning against the door-jamb and looking in at him.
He lifted his head from the pillow and grinned. "I'm willing to share. You don't look like you take up much room."
"Bozhe moy," she muttered, leaving him again.
He chuckled and rolled over, closing his eyes. Unpacking could wait.
The Planeteers were crowded around the kitchen table. Empty, grease-stained pizza boxes had been shoved aside to make room for sheets of paper and pens, which Linka was hurriedly scribbling on, prompted by comments from the others.
Linka jammed the lid back on her pen. "Right?" she asked, requiring confirmation from the others.
"It seems right to me," Ma-Ti agreed, running his eyes over the notes Linka had scrawled. "Main Dog is the leader of The Wrecking Crew. His younger brother is Ronnie, and he's dating Julie, the younger sister of Clayton, who is the leader of The Evil Educators."
"This sounds like a bad movie plot," Wheeler muttered.
"Well it's not!" Gi snapped. "It's serious!"
He looked up in alarm. "I know, Gi," he said, instantly apologetic.
She rubbed her forehead and rummaged around in her bag. "Brian gave me our schedules," she said. "The principal of the school has sorted us into classes. He and the other teachers know why we're there and they've promised to try and help us out as much as they can, but most of the communication will be done through Brian. If we're caught talking to the teachers too often, it'll look suspicious."
She handed the timetables around.
"Aw, man," Wheeler groaned. "I'm gonna have to start waking up early again."
Linka shot him a look and he fell silent.
"Thanks for doing this," Gi said quietly, looking down at her hands. "I know it's going to be hard."
"We are happy to help, Gi," Kwame said gently. "We will do all we can to make things better here."
Gi nodded and Linka squeezed her hand under the table.
"We should get some sleep," Ma-Ti said. "I think we are all feeling a little drained, and tomorrow is going to be a big day."
The others agreed, and Linka gathered the notes up, intending on storing them safely upstairs.
Gi was sitting in the middle of her bed when Linka arrived.
"Are you all right?" Linka asked sympathetically. "Do not mind Wheeler. He speaks without thinking."
Gi smiled. "I'm used to it."
Linka smiled back and closed the door. "Is the bed comfortable?" she asked, tucking the notes into the back of a notebook and dropping it into the top drawer of the bedside table that stood between the twin beds.
"Mine looks more comfortable than yours," Gi said guiltily. "Sure you don't want to swap?"
"Nyet, I think you are in need of better sleep than I am," Linka teased, stripping her t-shirt over her head. "It is cold in here, though."
"I think there are extra blankets in the hall cupboard," Gi answered distractedly.
Linka pulled her nightgown over her head. "I will be all right once I am in bed," she said confidently.
Gi nodded and Linka sighed and sat on the edge her bed. "Do you want to talk?" she asked.
"No, I'm okay," Gi said, smiling bravely. "I just feel a bit sick. All this stuff with David, and then, you know..." She shrugged. "I think taking my ring off would make me feel better, but I dare not. Does that seem weird? It just seems like it's leaving me more vulnerable to all the negative feeling around here."
"It feels a little draining," Linka agreed. "But we may need them."
"If they'll even work," Gi said doubtfully. "I don't know how David can stand it in a place like this."
"You said he wanted to make a difference," Linka said softly. "It is good, having people like him around. There will be students he has affected, whether or not they are in the gangs we are here to break up. I am sure he has touched the lives of many young people."
Gi looked a little happier. "You're right," she agreed. "I should think of the positives."
Linka squeezed her friend's hand. "Go to sleep," she ordered with a smile. "Do you need anything?"
"No, I'm okay," Gi answered. "Thanks." She smiled, and Linka squeezed her hand again and crossed to her own bed, slipping beneath the blankets. Her bed creaked loudly and she groaned.
"I am going to wake you whenever I roll over," she grumbled.
Gi yawned and smiled, shutting the lamp off. "You're underestimating my ability to sleep," she sighed. "I'm exhausted. Night, Linka."
Linka blinked, waking up to the water-stained ceiling above her. She squinted at the digital clock on the bedside table and barely resisted the urge to groan aloud. She had only been asleep for an hour. Deciding to get herself a glass of water, she eased out of her bed and padded across the bare, dusty floorboards.
She was distracted, however, when she noticed the light coming in from under Wheeler's door. She knocked gently and peered around the corner.
He was sitting up in bed, shuffling a pack of cards.
"Hey," he said. "Want to play strip poker?"
"Nyet, I think I will pass," she said, stepping into the room.
"Your loss, babe," he said, raising his eyebrow. "I look pretty good beneath these sheets."
She ignored him. "You should be asleep," she said, chiding him quietly, not wanting to wake the others.
He grinned. "Come here a second."
She hesitated, mainly for show, before sitting on the end of his bed.
"Pick a card," he said, holding the pack out.
She rolled her eyes with a smile and drew a card out of the middle. "You are not tired?"
"Exhausted," he said lightly. "Take a look at your card and put it back."
"You should sleep," she said, glancing at her card and then sliding it back into the middle of the pack. She watched him shuffle them again.
He shrugged. "Got a headache. Been feelin' a bit weird since we arrived."
"Da, me too," she agreed. "Ma-Ti said it feels to him as though smog is everywhere."
"Smog?" Wheeler glanced to the window, though it was dark out. Raindrops glittered on the pane.
"Hate and fear and violence," Linka clarified. "This mission could be dangerous."
"I'll protect you," he dismissed.
She sighed. "I should go to bed. I am tired."
"Okay." He handed a card back to her. "Night, babe."
She glanced at the card he'd handed her. "You got it right," she said, smiling at him.
He grinned and stretched out, sinking into the pillow. "Night," he said again. "Queen of Hearts."