Disclaimer: I don't own Avenue Q, Assassins, or anything by Queen!
"We are the champions,
We are the champions,"
Roland and the monster children sang excitedly,
"No time for losers,
For we are the champions... (dramatic pause) of the world!"
Kate let the sun warm her as she sighed deeply, relieved to be away from Princeton for once.
Not that she didn't love him, but all she wanted was one day where she didn't have to go with him hovering over her like a mother chicken does with her chicks.
Roland started in on the next verse of the song:
"I've taken my bows, and my curtain call,
You've brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it,
I thank you all."
"Come on girls," he called, "join in."
The monster girls - well, those who knew the song anyway - did so:
"But it's been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise-"
Just then, one of the monsters from the kindergarten class -named Lilly- pointed across the street and began jumping up and down eagerly.
"Look," she yelled, a wide smile on her face, "there it is. There's the museum!"
Everyone looked across the street and sure enough, there it was: the Art Museum.
Lilly ran forward and almost made it into the street. Fortunately, Kate managed to catch up with her and caught her by the hand.
Also fortunately, they didn't have much further to walk.
Before anyone knew it, the whole school was in the museum's garden, a big beautiful space full of flowers and art that was rented sometimes for big events, just like today.
The teachers -along with some of the bigger, stronger of the boys- set down the bags and bins of activities and started setting up the different stations.
"Alright kids," Roland called after getting everyone to quiet down, "feel free to do whatever you want for now, but stay in the garden. The games will be starting soon."
All the kids cheered as they went off to explore.
All the kids, that is, except for two eighth graders and a seventh grader, three brothers named Kevin, Michael, and Rex.
Michael just rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Come on, let's go." he whispered to his brothers, motioning to follow him.
The three of them slipped away towards the front of the museum.
This did not go unnoticed.
Kate, of all people, was the one who saw them leave.
If she had called to them and maybe attracted some attention to the situation, what followed could probably have been avoided.
But through it all, it was probably for the best.
"Come on kids, who's up for a little relay race?" Roland called, getting the kids prepped up for the first event.
Amidst the cheers, Kate headed around to the front of the museum to catch the wayward boys.
"Hey guys, wait up!" she yelled. "Come back here!"
As she got closer to the boys, she saw that they were standing on the sidewalk and they weren't moving.
In fact, it looked like they had become statues themselves.
Getting closer, Kate could see what had made the boys freeze: one of the Broadway portals -a square of white light that took up one of the sidewalk spaces- had been opened.
"Cool." Michael whispered.
The boys edged closer to the portal before Kevin pushed Rex in the back and yelled "Saved your life!"
"Aw," Rex groaned "you guys made my fur puff up."
The eighth graders started cracking up when, behind them, they heard a throat being cleared and a very familiar voice saying, "Boys, do you even know what that is?"
Slowly, the three turned around to see Kate, her arms crossed and an angry look on her face.
When no one said anything, she just asked "Well, do you?"
Finally, Michael piped up. "I know what that is. Our mom told us all about it. She called, she said it was called a...a… well, one of those Broadway portal things."
Kate just shrugged. "Close enough."
Then she uncrossed her arms and gave the boys a hard look. "Not the point. The point is, what are you three even doing out here? Do you have any idea what could happen? Your teachers are probably worried sick because they can't- Kevin, what do you think you're doing?!"
While Kate was giving her little lecture, Kevin snuck away back toward the portal.
"Oh, look at me." He called gleefully. "I'm gonna go jump in the portal."
Then he sneezed and nearly lost his balance. "Whoa!"
Michael and Rex started laughing out loud, but Kevin just glared daggers at them.
"Oh you think it's so funny?" He snapped, pointing his finger at Michael. "Let's see how far you can get, Michael."
"Okay." Michael smirked as he calmly walked past his brother and made it halfway to the portal.
Then he turned around to Rex. "Beat that." He called.
Rex eagerly raced past his brothers and nearly made it to the edge of the portal.
"Come on, Miss Kate." He called back to her. "Do you wanna take the jump?"
Kate just groaned.
"Boys, come back here. It's not safe." She yelled, trying again to get the boys to come back to her.
Then she heard another voice she was definitely not expecting: "Kate, no!"
Whirling around, Kate gasped, horrified.
"Princeton!?" she yelped.
There, in front of her, stood Princeton, completely out of breath, his orange face tomato red, his hair looking like it was tossed in all directions. "You were about to jump into that Broadway World portal!"
Kate couldn't believe her ears. "What!? No, I wasn't! Princeton, please listen! I was-"
But Princeton wasn't listening. "It was a good thing I showed up here when I did." He cut her off. "If I hadn't showed up, I don't know—"
The boys quickly started running to Kate's defense.
"Sir, she wasn't actually gonna jump." Rex tried to explain.
"Yeah," Michael added, "she was trying to talk us out of it."
This just irritated Princeton all the more. "This does not concern you, boys." He snapped at them. "And you're lucky you're parents aren't going to find out what you were doing."
Then he turned back to Kate. "You know how much of a dangerous state you're in. What are you thinking?!"
"I'm thinking I'm fine Princeton!" she snapped back at him. "When my water breaks, then we'll start worrying, okay?"
(What Kate and Princeton didn't notice was that the sound of their arguing had attracted the attention of the rest of the school and now they were drawing a huge crowd.)
Princeton wasn't having any of this. "No, it's not okay." He insisted. "You shouldn't be anywhere near one of those things."
"Okay, you wanna know what?" Princeton didn't give Kate a chance to answer. "I was right. As of this minute, you're on maternity leave."
"Come on," he took her by the wrist and started leading her (more like dragging her) to the curb, "I'll get a cab."
"No way!" Kate yelled angrily, yanking her arm out of Princeton's grip. "Just because you're scared of what's going to happen-"
"Clearly, all this work is putting too much strain on you and you're not coming back until your head is clear." Princeton said, talking like Kate hadn't even said anything. "You think you can handle all this and you know what you're doing, but you just don't, Kate!"
This clearly struck a chord in the monster as she slowly, stiffly pulled her hands to her sides and glared at Princeton with a white hot anger he had never seen in her before.
"You think I'm the one under all this strain?" she asked in a calm, low voice that suddenly made Princeton very uncomfortable. "Well, let me tell you something mister: you don't know the first thing about having a baby and even though you think you're helping me by hovering over me all the time, you are just trying to cover up the fact that you are terrified out of your weak little mind. You are nothing but a coward, Princeton."
As Princeton looked at her, frozen with a deeply hurt expression, Roland stepped forward through the crowd and got between the two before they could say anything else.
"Excuse me, is there anything I can do?" he offered. "I mean, I am a teacher. Is there any problem?"
Princeton realized he was being spoken to and shook his head.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt things." He blushed. "She's just not in a very good state right now and I'm uncomfortable with her being all the way out here, away from our home."
"Well, I have a degree in medicine so I can assure you, she's quite safe with me." Roland smiled.
"Look, I'm sure she is." Princeton insisted, trying to get his point across.
"But you also have to take care of all these kids and something could happen if you're not paying attention. Not that I'm saying you're not, it's just that-"
Princeton was suddenly cut off by a monster girl shrieking "Oh my gosh! Miss Kate's walking back to the portal!"
Sure enough, Kate, having snuck away from Princeton while he and Roland were talking, was sauntering back to the portal, no one else daring to go near.
"Kate!" Princeton cried out, starting to go after her, but quickly stopping. "What do you think you're doing? You're gonna go through that portal and I'll have to get you back into this world before you fall into another one!"
Kate just kept going, acting like she didn't have a care in the world.
"Get back here!" Princeton roared at her, not moving from his spot. "I said get back here, now!"
Finally, he hollered "Stop!"
And Kate did, right at the edge of the portal.
With a confident smirk on her face, she turned around to face her fuming boyfriend.
"You make one more move, missy." Princeton growled, pointing a threatening finger at her.
Not even looking intimidated, Kate calmly got to her knees and raised one hand in the air.
Princeton, not even knowing what Kate was going to do, just continued yelling. "Don't you dare! If you even think about touching that thing- Kate, are you even listening to me?! Come back right n-"
But Princeton didn't get a chance to finish his sentence.
Because as he was talking, Kate just circled her hand in the air a couple times for measure and plunged it straight down into the portal.
She just stayed there for a few moments, her arm until just below her elbow covered by the light the portal was giving off.
"You get yourself right back over here." Princeton ordered, pointing at the ground in front of him.
Kate just stood up, pulled her arm out, wiped it on her skirt (not that there was anything on her arm) and began sauntering back to the crowd.
"That's right. You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into, my dear." Princeton nodded, a whole stream of angry curses forming on the tip of his tongue, not even caring he was in the presence of a large group of children.
What he didn't notice was that the light from the portal was growing brighter and brighter until it shone like a star.
"Do you hear me? You're in way over your-"
That was when the ground started shaking.
Children screamed and clung to each other. Teachers tried to reclaim order, but looked terrified themselves.
And Kate began stumbling back towards the portal, almost like the sidewalk was tipping her back.
Frantically, she struggled to regain her balance, arms protectively wrapped around her stomach
However, when she reached the edge, her arms went from her stomach to out in the air, wind milling like mad.
"Princeton!" she screamed. "Help me!"
His anger replaced by fear, Princeton took off running towards the pregnant monster.
"I'm coming, Kate!" he yelled.
But no sooner had he gone two steps than a white beam of light shot out of the portal straight towards Princeton and wrapped around his ankle.
"Get back, kids!" yelled Roland, herding the school back towards the garden.
As Princeton tried to unwrap the light beam from his leg, he was too busy to notice what would happen next.
"Ah! Oh no!" he heard Kate scream again.
Raising his head, Princeton watched in horror as Kate lost her balance and fell through the portal.
As she vanished behind the light, all he heard was a muffled "Help!"
He tried to make a run for the portal but the light beam pulled his leg out from under him
Princeton hit the ground before the beam uncoiled itself and slid back to where it came from.
He sat up, trying to regain his bearings when a blinding light flashed before his eyes.
Only for a second, but enough to knock Princeton on his back again.
"Oh!" he yelped, rubbing his eyes and trying to stand up.
Once Princeton was able to steady himself on his feet, he looked around, but couldn't find what he was looking for.
"Kate!" he screamed.
Focusing on the portal, Princeton started stumbling towards it, almost tripping over his feet and landing on his face again.
"Kate!" he screamed as he reached the portal and knelt down in front of it, frantically looking for signs that his girlfriend was just on the other side.
"Kate! Kate! Kate!" Princeton cried out over and over, leaning down further and further until the skin on his nose barely skimmed the portal's surface. "No!"
At that moment, Princedton felt as though something had grabbed the hair on the back of his head and yanked him down into the portal.
He felt warm air rushing by him on all sides for a moment, then he was floating.
Princeton opened his eyes to see he, indeed, was floating in a great white space, surrounded by orbs, each one differing in color.
Some were gold, others were silver, and the rest were bronze-colored.
Princeton let out the breath that was caught in his throat and whirled his head around, his whole body turning with him.
"Kate!" he yelled, his voice echoing on forever.
Princeton held his breath, but when all he heard was the faraway sound of his own voice, Princeton started runninng as fast as his legs could carry him (which at first actually surprised him, since he thought the only way to get around the portal was by floating).
As he ran, only one word – a word he felt like he had been saying all day – was on his lips: "Kate!"
Kate was in blackness.
When that freak earthquake occurred and she lost her balance, she expected to see some sort of white light, and she did. For a few moments.
Then it felt like someone had put something in front of her face, something that strangely felt like a giant leaf.
All around her, she heard men's voices chanting something she could not understand.
Although to this day, she swore she heard the word "rigatoni" somewhere in there.
Suddenly, there was a lurch that almost sent Kate flying forward.
As her arms flew to her stomach, she heard yells of "Whoa!" and "Hold on."
What Kate couldn't see was that she was covered by a large leaf and surrounded by men dressed like tribal natives (in a way), carrying long spears.
The men were taking Kate back to their own world when they stopped suddenly to avoid a large group of people crossing in front of them.
The leader stopped his men so abruptly that his body was jostled and the hat he wore on his head went flying off into a nearby portal, where it landed behind an old carnival booth.
The hat was black and had a green feather tucked into the band.
"Oh no." Gasped Princeton as he stopped to catch his breath, having run endlessly for what felt like the hundredth time, the word "Kate!" still echoing in his ears.
Finally, the reality of the situation hit him: "She's gone."
But Princeton refused to believe it. "No, no," he insisted, "she can't be gone. No, no!"
Princeton whirled his head around again, praying Kate was around, but all he kept seeing was white light.
And a large group of people who appeared to be moving from one portal to another, led by a few men dressed in medieval garb, acting like they were riding horses. Behind them were more men in dirty clothes clapping coconuts together, carrying huge, heavy loads on their backs.
Coconuts? Princeton stopped to think for a moment, trying to remember where he had seen that before.
But his spirits lifted as he realized there had to be over a thousand people in the crowd.
He took off running, yelling at the top of his lungs "Has anybody seen a monster!? Please! A pregnant monster!"
The crowd gave Princeton strange looks, but he got through the wall of people on the outside and kept up his pleas. "Her name is Kate! She's my girlfriend! And she's carrying my baby! Help me, please!"
Suddenly, a woman's voice screamed behind him "Look out!"
Princeton whirled around, just in time for his head to smack against somebody else's and him to be knocked out of the crowd.
His head throbbing, Princeton lay on the ground, his hope gone.
"Ohh." Groaned the woman as she massaged her temples, her own head hurting. Then she looked up and gasped, seeing Princeton sprawled on the ground.
"Oh, sorry!" she called, scampering over. "I didn't see you."
Kneeling down next to Princeton and helping him sit up, she asked "Sir, are you okay?"
Princeton just shook his head and whispered over and over "She's gone, she's gone…"
"There, there." The woman said in a comforting voice. "It's all right. It'll be okay."
Princeton just shook his head and pulled himself out of the woman's arms. "No, no. I have to find my girlfriend Kate. I'm looking for a monster!"
"A monster?" the woman asked, cocking her head as he started to run again.
Then she gasped and ran to catch up with Princeton, who hadn't gone far. "Hey, I've seen a monster."
"You have?" Princeton spun around and was taken aback by who he saw.
Wild blonde hair, striking emerald eyes, big ruby lips, and sexy pink skin. These belonged to a woman he had certainly not seen in quite a long while: Lucy the Slut (well, now she was just Lucy due to an incident involving his lucky penny).
She was wearing a white halter cut dress with gold sequins at the bust line, which showed off some cleavage, but not as much as her clothes used to. She also wore a pair of white sandals.
Princeton couldn't believe his eyes. He remembered when Lucy had disappeared on her way to Church one morning, but he refused to believe the portal had anything to do with it.
He was snapped back to reality by Lucy saying "Yes I did see a monster and she passed by not too long ago."
"Was she pregnant?" he blurted out.
Instead of answering that, Lucy just smiled, extended her hand, and said "Hi. I'm Lucy."
"I know who you are!" Princeton snapped, irritated he wasn't getting answers.
Lucy frowned, confused. "Really? Where from?"
Princeton groaned. "Never mind that. Which way did you see the monster going?"
"Oh, uh," Lucy stopped to think, "um, this way! It went this way! Follow me!"
Princeton heaved a great sigh of relief as Lucy took off in a direction and he went after her.
"Thank you!" he yelled. "Thank you, thank you so much!"
"No problem." Lucy smiled over her shoulder.
They ran for a little while, then Lucy slowed to a walk, began sashaying her hips, and humming to herself, having a good old time…
At least until she turned her head and, seeing Princeton close behind her, stiffened up and began walking faster.
Princeton frowned and tried getting closer to ask what she was doing, but Lucy was too quick for him.
Making a run for it, she dove into a nearby golden orb and Princeton, not even caring where it led, followed.
He landed on his feet, in the middle of what looked like an old carnival ground at night.
Amidst the darkness, he saw the white of Lucy's dress disappearing behind a booth.
"Hey! Wait!" he yelled, running after her.
For the fact it looked like her sandals were hurting her feet, Lucy could run surprisingly fast.
She zigged and zagged through various booths before finally coming to a sudden halt, Princeton almost plowing into her.
She turned to him, fuming, and shrieked in his face "Will you quit it already, perv!?"
Princeton just stared at her. "What?"
"I'm just trying to walk here." Lucy snapped. "What, the Great White Way too big for you so you think you can corner me here? You got a problem, buddy?"
Princeton tried to say something but Lucy kept getting closer into his face. "Huh? Huh? Do 'ya? Do 'ya? Do 'ya? You want a piece of me? Yeah, oooh, I'm scared now. Whaat?"
"Wait a minute." Princeton managed to get out before Lucy interrupted him again with "Look, do me a favor and stop following me, okay!? Go back to your own world, you creep."
Princeton couldn't believe his ears. "Oh, so you wanna be hard to get again, huh?" he snapped right back at her "Well, I have three thing to say to you, Lucy. Number one: I am not a pervert, number two, we're both from the same world, and number three, you're showing me which way Kate Monster went!"
"A monster?" Lucy gave Princeton a blank look again. Then she grinned. "Hey, I've seen a monster. I saw it go by not too long ago. It went this way, come on!" She turned and started running.
Princeton had had enough of this.
Wait a minute, wait a minute!" he yelled, grabbing her arm and pulling her back to him. "What do you think you're doing? You were already telling me which way Kate Monster was going!"
"I did?" Lucy asked, very uncomfortably.
She hung her head and covered her eyes, her cheeks turning a deep red. "Oh dear..."
"Look Lucy," Princeton continued, his a little bit gentler, "if you think this is some kind of practical joke, it's not funny! And believe me, I know funny. The story of my life is a Broadway musical!"
Lucy began shaking her head. "No, it's not. I know it's not. I'm so sorry. See, I recovering from amnesia and suffering from short-term memory loss."
"Amnesia and short-term memory loss." Princeton echoed.
Lucy nodded eagerly, but Princeton just shook his head. "I don't believe this!"
"No, it's true." Lucy insisted. "See, I fell in that portal a few months ago and banged my head. Or at least I think that's what happened."
"Hmmm… what did happen?" she looked at the ground and frowned in concentration, Princeton almost seeing the gears in her head turning, trying to find the memory of those events.
She lifted her head, looked at Princeton like she was seeing him for the first time, and smiled. "Can I help you?"
Princeton just stared at her and shook his head as he started to back away. "Lucy, I'm sorry, but there's really something wrong with you. I don't want to leave you here, but I have to find my girlfriend."
As Princeton turned to leave he felt himself bump into someone.
Backing up a couple steps and looking up, by the light of the moon, he saw a man with dark hair, a thin moustache, and Civil War era clothes smile at him in a friendly way.
The man also had a gun in his hand.
Princeton froze with terror as the man said "Evening." in a Southern accent.
Even though Princeton found he couldn't say anything, Lucy just walked right up to the man, grinning real big and said "Well, hi!"
"John Wilkes Booth, at your service." The man bowed, making Princeton feel sick to his stomach.
John Wilkes Booth? He thought to himself. Am I really in the presence of the guy who killed Abraham Lincoln? A cold-blooded murderer?
Booth, seeing Princeton's terrorized expression, just smiled.
"It's all right, I understand." He said kindly, taking a few steps back. "Why trust a presidential assassin, right?"
Booth turned his back to them, like he was walking away, then spun around and aimed the gun at Princeton, who immediately shrieked and dove behind Lucy. But instead of hearing a shot, all he heard was hysterical laughing
Peeking out from behind her shoulder, he saw Booth wiping his eyes, his gun in its holster. "Oh Lord" he laughed, "that still never gets old. So, what's a couple of kids like you doing in our little part of the world, huh?"
"Nothing!" Princeton blurted, the word coming out before he could stop it.
Both Lucy and Booth turned to look at him, so he stepped out from behind her and straightened, trying to make himself bigger than he really was.
"We're not doing anything." He explained calmly. "We're not even out."
Booth looked very intrigued by this. "Great!" he rubbed his hands together. "Then how'd you younglings like to come to a little… thing I'm having with some dear friends?"
"You mean like a party?" Lucy asked, smiling.
"Yeeeeeeeah, something like that." Booth grinned sneakily. "What do you say?"
"Ooh, I love parties!" Lucy gushed as she grabbed Princeton's arm and looked at him pleadingly. "Let's go! That sounds like fun!"
"You know, parties are fun," Princeton said as he began backing away, Lucy still hanging on to him, "and it's very tempting, Mr. Booth, but-"
"Oh, come on," Booth said as he slid behind the two and began prodding them forwards, "I insist."
Princeton could feel the handle of the gun in the holster pressing into his back, making his heart race.
"Okay!" he yelped, running forward. "That's all that matters."
Booth guided them through the dark carnival grounds until they came to a large tent with a table covered by a sheet outside the main flap.
"Hey, look!" Lucy grinned as she pointed to the table. "Party favors!"
Booth just laughed. "Mind yourself, though." He cautioned. "You wouldn't want to have jittery hands holding one of those favors."
As Booth led them inside the tent, Princeton saw a group of men and women wearing clothes from all different decades, huddled around a stage with a podium on it, with chairs set up in front of it.
Princeton also noticed that every person in that huddle was holding a gun.
His eyes darted around frantically, looking for a way out, but every part of him froze when he heard Booth call out "Ladies! Gentlemen! I'm back!"
The group turned to the three of them and a woman dressed like a hippie stepped forward.
"There you are, Booth." She said in a squeaky voice. "Finally!"
Booth nodded. "We got company." He motioned to Lucy, who grinned at the people and waved at them, and Princeton, who was too terrified to do anything.
"And about time, too." Said a man in a dirty Santa suit.
"We've already gone through the first round and my stomach still burns!" yelled a man who sounded like he was Italian.
"We almost went on another frenzy." Added another man who sounded like he was Russian.
"Come on," said a third man carrying a Bible in his hands, "let's get this over with."
Princeton squeezed his eyes shut and the last sound he heard before blacking out was the sound of a gun being cocked.