"Where is Bepo?" Lexi asked, pulling back onto the highway to head home. They glanced between each other before answering.
"He's somewhere up ahead. I think on the left."
"Alright well just tell me when to stop." The two nodded, and she kept driving, a little slower than what the posted speed limit was just in case she had to stop suddenly. Law glanced at them from the front seat.
"Did you find any sign of ways to get back to our world?"
"No, just a bunch of number signs along the road. What do they mean anyways?" Penguin asked Lexi, who yawned as the exhaustion began to hit her.
"You mean the green ones?"
"Yeah, and the white ones that say speed limit."
"The green ones are mile markers. They tell you how far you are from a central location. The white speed limit signs are the limit to how fast you're allowed to drive on the roads." She explained, turning up the speed of her windshield wipers. The rain was coming down harder. Lexi gave a worried glance out the window. She hoped Bepo had taken shelter under something to keep dry.
"Hmm…so then, what was that gas station for?" Shachi scratched his head.
"Vehicles run on gas. If they are empty they won't go anywhere. Like trains need coal to operate. You guys have trains at least, right? And have I gone too far?"
"No, keep going." Shachi said. Law looked to Lexi
"There aren't many trains, but there are a few located around the world. Most notably on larger trade port islands." He answered.
"Hmm." She replied, finding herself curious by the strange design of their world once again. So much was the so, but it all seemed so different. To them, she was sure everything was all new and confusing. Apparently, many of the every day appliances and objects that Lexi barely gave a second thought were strange and alien to them.
"This…truck," Law said slowly, as if he was testing out the foreign word, "how does it work exactly?" He inspected the interior with a closer eye than he had previously, noticing the small buttons and dials on the front panels.
"Cars and trucks have so much to explain that I don't even think I'm gonna begin to try."
"It looks kind of complicated." Shachi agreed. Penguin gazed intently at the roof light inside the cabin.
"If you let us take some of it apart and-"
"Hell no." She interrupted. "You are not going anywhere near the engine of this thing. I don't care how skilled you might be in your world, this is my only way of getting around and if it breaks down we're basically stranded."
"Aww…" She heard them mutter, slumping a little in their seats. Lexi distracted glanced out the window again, noticing that they'd gone quite a ways away from the gas station. Checking the rearview mirror, she saw the two pirates in the back talking quietly.
"Uh, you're keeping an eye out for where you guys left Bepo, right?" She asked.
Shachi's and Penguin's faces both turned to her in surprise. Their mouths formed perfect O shapes, eyes widening.
"Oh, we forgot! He's probably somewhere back behind us." They pointed back towards the way they'd come. Lexi deadpanned.
Slamming on the brakes, the truck screeched to a halt, throwing all the passengers against their seatbelt. Lexi could hear the breaths catch in their chest, and Law grabbed onto the car door handle to brace himself. They came to a complete stop in the middle of the road, and luckily no one seemed to be driving around, because they were alone.
Law looked at back at them with a glare. "You couldn't have mentioned that before?" He growled, and they tried hiding behind their hats.
"We got distracted…" Was their lame excuse.
Huffing out a frustrated breath, she made a three point turn and started driving back the way they'd come. Jaw set firmly, she gripped the wheel in a death grip. She'd had it up to her head with these two…
"Umm…what are we gonna have for dinner?" Penguin asked timidly from the backseat when his stomach grumbled loudly. She gave a short laugh. Perhaps on any other day she wouldn't have felt pity, but her patience with this whole pirate crew had been worn so thin the threads were barely holding the rope together.
"Do you see what time it is?" She pointed to the digital clock set into the radio dash. It read 8:48. "It is way past the time for me to start cooking. Looks like no dinner for any of us." She retorted. If their faces showed shame before at her anger, they looked absolutely horrified now at the mention of no food.
"No…food?" They whimpered. Their faces fell. "But…but…"
"No buts." She concluded, keeping her eyes open for the poor bear in the forest. She just hoped he wouldn't have wandered off without them…
Twenty minutes later, and after a few times turning back around again and shooting deadly glares towards the cowering pirates in the backseat, they found Bepo. Lexi and Law helped to get him in the back of the truck without anyone seeing. A car had gone by one but Lexi just pretended to be looking under the hood while the polar bear hid behind the truck and they'd passed without so much as a glance in her direction.
Once Bepo was safely in the back of the truck, she told him to try to lay low and not be spotted, and they started driving back towards home. She felt really bad they he had to continue getting rained on but there wasn't anything she could do about that. The polar bear simply wouldn't fit in the truck at all.
They drove, windshield wipers clearing the windshield and lights lighting up the road. It was pitch dark outside, and the stars were shining above. They sat in silence, Lexi too frustrated to deal with the pirates.
"Are we really not getting any dinner?" Shachi asked rather meekly from behind her. Lexi glanced at the clock again, noting that it was now 9:05. Just then, her stomach growled loudly, causing her to blush at the captain's amused smirk. With a deep sigh, she pointed to her purse on the floor by Law's feet.
"Hand me my wallet. Please." She added, seeing his frown and knowing he was not fond of taking orders. He reached for her bag, rifling through it and pulling out her Harry Potter wallet. He didn't say anything as to the pattern, probably because he didn't know what it was even of, and gave it to her. She idly opened the zipper and glanced inside to find a slightly rumpled $20 bill and a few ones tucked away.
"I guess we have enough for cheap stuff…" She muttered, placing the wallet between her legs so she could focus on driving. From her rearview mirror, Lexi saw the faces of the two engineers light up, but she glared again. "But you two are still in trouble. Which means no adventuring for you for at least three days."
"Aww…" They looked chastened. Smirking in satisfaction, Lexi nestled herself back into her seat and headed towards the closest McDonald's.
Because Bepo would make them stand up immediately if they went through the drive through, Lexi decided to go into the place by herself and leave the pirates to watch out for anyone coming. She intentionally parked as far away from the entrance as possible and away from any nearby cars just in case. She didn't want animal control coming to take the poor bear away. He'd already had a hell of a night.
"Stay here. I'll be back in a bit. You want a fish sandwich, right Bepo?"
"Yes, please!" He responded excitedly, probably envisioning the fish within his grasp at that moment. Smiling, she left the keys in the ignition so the heat would stay on for the other occupants and closed the driver door. Heading inside the building, she crossed her fingers and hoped that even during the five minutes she'd be away from those idiots they wouldn't mess something up…
"Hey, maybe Lexi-chan would be ok with us listening to her music?" Penguin suggested, eyeing a few of the CD's she'd used earlier on a flat-looking thing attached to the roof. Law raised an eyebrow.
"Do you know how this works?" He grabbed one, inspecting the strange circular disc. It had black writing on it that read 'Queen.' It was decorated in white patterns underneath the writing.
"Yeah, you just put it into that little slit in the front, see?" Shachi pointed to a long, thin slit besides where all the button and dials are. "Put it in so that the words are facing up. That's how Lexi-chan did it the last time."
Law did so, watching as the lights on the little screen above it became two straight lines, and then in the next instant showed the number '01.' A moment later and a song began to play.
'Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…'
"Hmm…I've never heard this one before. Lexi-chan didn't play it for us." Penguin said, listening carefully to the lyrics.
"Lexi-ya was certainly right when she said that music in this world is varied. It sounds nothing like what we are used to." Shachi and Penguin nodded, continuing to listen to the sounds of the man singing.
'Mama, just killed a man. Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he's dead. Mama, life had just begun. But now I've gone and thrown it all away…'
"Um…what is this song supposed to mean?" Shachi frowned, not quite sure what any of it meant. They sat there, intent on the music as they waited for Lexi to reemerge from the building.
"What can I get you?" The teenage boy asked from behind the register. Lexi stared up at the menu, glancing over the available options.
"Yeah, can I get one fish sandwich, just the sandwich. Um…four double cheeseburgers from the dollar menu…uh, three crispy chicken wraps…and…one bacon mcdouble." The guy typed in all the stuff onto his little keyboard, looking back up at her afterwards.
"Will that be all?" He looked pretty bored, though that was to be expected. She was the only person other than an angry mother and her two slightly overweight children sitting in the corner of the place.
"That'll be $19.79." Lexi reached in her wallet and took out the twenty, giving it to him and received her change. Taking her receipt, she wandered to the side to wait for her order. Glancing at her phone, she noticed it was already 9:31. It was getting pretty late. Hopefully Nana was doing ok…
A few minutes later they called her number and she grabbed the food. With a quick thank you, she was out the door into the rain. Jogging to the driver side of the truck, she threw open the door and climbed in as quickly as possible.
"Hold this. But no eating until we get home." She warned, handing the paper bag to the two in the backseat. They salivated at the smells from within its confines. But held off enough to not tear open the back from starvation. She gave them that much, at least.
Buckling up, it was then she noticed the music playing. It was the ending verses to Bohemian Rhapsody, and she glanced at Law. "Did you guys put a CD in?" He nodded.
"Yeah, we wanted to listen to more of your music!" Shachi said. She grinned. Taking out the CD, she replaced it in the holder on the sun visor and took out another one.
"Well, then I think you'll like this one." Popping it in, she clicked over to track 09.
'Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt. It is so big. She look's like one of those rap guy's girlfriends'. But, ya know, who understands those rap guys. They only talk to her because she looks like a total prostitute, 'kay?'
"Uh…Lexi-chan? What song is this?" Shachi asked in confusion. "There's no…music." He explained. She only smiled and shook her head.
"You'll see." Was all she said.
'I mean gross, look. She's just so…black. I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny, that when a girl walks in with a itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face you get sprung!'
She glanced to her right and laughed at the slightly horrified expression on Law's face. Turning around, she saw the look of pure delight on the boys' faces. And Lexi began singing along to the lyrics herself, bouncing up and down a little with the beat.
'Deep in the jeans she's wearin', I'm hooked and I can't stop starin' Oh, baby, I wanna get wit'cha, and take your picture. My homeboys tried to warn me but that butt you got makes me so horny. Oh, rump'o'smooth skin, you say you wanna get in my Benz-'
"Lexi-chan, teach us the words!" Penguin begged, eyes shining along with Shachi's. Lexi just laughed at the irked expression Law was now sporting.
"What, you don't like the song?" She asked innocently. He gave a low 'hmph' and crossed his arms, looking out the window.
"It's a ridiculous song." He said, not deigning to talk about it anymore. She grinned and went back to her singing, turning onto the main road towards her house. They'd be there soon, but that left just enough time for her to finish the song. Much to her delight.
It was 9:47 by the time they got home, and Lexi pushed her way through the door, carrying the bag of food in her hand and her purse in the crook of her other arm. The others followed in behind her.
"Bepo, wait here just a second and I'll get some towels for you." Lexi said, and the soaking wet polar bear obeyed. "Here, let's get you out of your uniform and wash it, ok?"
"Ok." He mumbled, undoing the top button of the orange jumpsuit.
"Here, go ahead and start eating. Just leave the fish sandwich for Bepo." She handed the bag to Penguin, and the other three pirates went into the kitchen to unwrap their food.
Taking the discarded uniform from the now-naked polar bear, who looked a little uncomfortable not having anything covering him, Lexi went into the laundry room and retrieved a handful of large towels.
"You can dry up with these." She offered. Bepo smiled, taking them and beginning with the top of his head. She returned to the laundry room and stuffed the drenched outfit into the washer, crossing her fingers that the material would hold up in the heavy-duty machinery. She doubted they had washers like the modern ones in their world.
Adding in the fabric softener and detergent, she set it to a regular cotton load and pressed start. Sighing, she took her stuff upstairs and changed into her sweatpants and tank top.
By the time she made it downstairs, the boys had already eaten through all of their sandwiches. Thankfully, they'd left the bacon mcdouble for her, though she had originally planned to have two of the chicken wraps. Either way, her stomach rumbled again and she dug into the wrapped sandwich.
"I'm gonna go check on Nana." Lexi said after finished her food, standing and wandering across the room to the door to her grandmother's room. Knocking softly, she entered.
"Nana? You awake?" She peered into the blackness. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust, but she could make out the distinct outline of a person under the covers. The brunette crept over as silently as she could. Faintly, the sounds of Nana's soft breathing made Lexi smile in relief. At least she was resting and alright. The day had certainly been eventful, and at least one of them was getting some sleep.
Speaking of sleep, she yawned deeply, stretching her arms above her head. She really needed more rest herself. But she had class the next day and needed to do a little more studying. Leaving Nana to her rest, she slipped back out into the living room.
"I think we're gonna head to bed, Lexi-chan." Shachi said, a nodding Penguin following him up the stairs. "We'll see you tomorrow."
"Night guys." She responded, taking out her binder and books from her college bag. She'd forgotten to bring it back upstairs and so she decided to study on the couch for once. To mix things up a little.
Law and Bepo remained downstairs in the kitchen. After a few minutes, Bepo wandered over. Lexi looked up, noticing his sheepish face.
"Um…how long will it take my uniform to wash?" He asked, and she rubbed her eyes.
"It won't be washed and dried until tomorrow, Bepo. But since I'm gonna be up a little later tonight I'll make sure to switch the loads so it'll be ready for you first thing in the morning."
"Ok." He nodded gratefully, heading towards the stairs to go to bed. She watched him go, admiring his soft white fur. How she just wanted to touch it…
Law approaching caught her attention, and she looked up into the pirate's face.
"Do you need further help with your studies?" He asked. She yawned again, shaking her head.
"Nah, this stuff is a little easier to understand. Maybe for the next chapter though."
"Then I'll be turning in for the night." He said, turning away.
"Night, Law." She called softly, pulling out a yellow highlighter from her bag.
"Goodnight." She heard his soft footsteps ascending the steps and the bedroom door shutting behind him. She sighed, frowning down at her homework. How she wished she could just set it on fire or something…
'Why does any of these even matter anyway? I'll just be doing this the rest of my life. Studying or working. Wasting away at a job I probably won't enjoy…' She thought sadly, propping her chin up on her hand. 'I'd take being a pirate over doing this for fifty years any day…'
Yawning once more, she set to work on her textbook and notebook.
*Two Hours Later*
It was always when he wanted the most to fall asleep that his insomnia refused to let him. The more he tried relaxing the more he felt on edge. This unfamiliar bed and surroundings probably didn't help much either. He just couldn't shake that strange feeling ever since they'd arrived.
The moment they set foot in that pool of water in front of that waterfall…everything had just gone black. There was nothing. All he remembered was Shachi and Penguin venturing further than he had wanted them to, and then…nothing.
He hoped the rest of his crew were alright, and that they hadn't given up on them. If only he'd had a den den mushi on him when they'd been transported to Lexi's world, but he had a hunch that it wouldn't have been able to reach his crew anyways.
He raised his hand to his face, seeing the outline in the darkened room. His powers hadn't worked when he'd tried using them. Perhaps…since his world didn't 'exist' in Lexi's…perhaps anything pertaining to it also was null and void? He shook his head. Everything was so confusing. Just sitting there and speculating wasn't getting him any tangible answers either.
He sighed, feeling the urge to relieve himself grow stronger. Rising from the bed, he stalked quietly to the door and to the bathroom down the hall.
After finishing his business, he crept back out, glancing at Lexi's room. To his surprise, it was cracked open an inch or two. Curiosity getting the better of him, he gently pushed it open.
It was messier than the first time he'd been inside, but Lexi was nowhere to be found. He frowned, wondering if she too suffered from insomnia and had gotten up as well. Returning to the hallway, he glanced down at the living room from the top of the stairs.
Lexi lay sideways on the couch, an outstretched hand still posed as if taking notes in her notebook. The other was tucked into her chest. Smirking, Law quietly descended the steps and approached the sleeping woman.
"Always working yourself to sleep." He muttered, crouching down besides her. Her hair, which had been put in a messy bun, was starting to fall out of the band holding it together, and several strands fell over her face. Glancing around, Law spotted a basket of blankets besides the chair and grabbed one. He unfolded it and draped it over the still form of Lexi. She shifted at the new sensation, curling up tighter in a ball.
Staring for a few more seconds, he turned and went back up the stairs. He supposed she would be fine on the couch for one night. Besides, he was beginning to feel that sleepiness that indicated his fatigue was overtaking his inability to sleep.
He fell asleep within a few minutes of his head hitting the pillow.ns 220.127.116.11da2