The next morning, the Tofus and Hubbubs plus Miles were having breakfast in the yard. In the atermath of the yesterday´s success everyone was in very good spirits as they ate, chatted and laughed.
"Well its about time for me to go to work. Coming Billy?"asked Titus as soon as they all finished.
"No, Dad. We have some of the animals in the house which are still sick."said Billy, gesturing to the Tofu house with his thumb.
"Say no more."said Titus with a smile.
"He´s a real help Titus. If all goes well today, the remainder of the pets will be fit to go home by afternoon."said Buba.
"That means, that the Pet convention is still on tommorow?"asked Beth happily.
"Of course. I´ve informed the mayor about it an hour ago."said Pop.
"And me and Miles are meeting with Phil in the afternoon. We still have a stage to build."said Chichi and Miles nodded.
"Ah yes. And in that case, we have to book a few stands too."said Beth and Titus nodded.
Miles looked at her.
"Yes, Miles. Some merchants are using the convention to sell some small stuff. Last year, I also booked a stand for my new burgers. I´d say that it should be done again."
At Beth´s comment, Mom rolled her eyes.
"But please, promise me not to use that synthetic meat like last year."she said pleadingly.
"If you have a better idea Vi, you´re more than welcome to help. Time is short afterall."replied Beth with a grin.
However, Miles´ face took on a look, that Chichi was all too familiar with.
"Greed. Call. My. Name..."he said to himself as though in a trance.
"Uh-oh. And here we go again."muttered Lola placing a hand to her forehead.
"But first Miles, we have to go and get Amyas´ van motor fixed. That´s why I was excused off my classes again afterall."said Chichi.
Lola and Billy smiled at eachother. Since Pop has to go to work as well, Chichi had offered to get the motor done, since Amyas needs his van tommorow. What he however didn´t say, was who would fix the motor and where. He also carefully concealed his joy at returning to work into the Hidehole.
"What about you, Lola? Back to Megacity?"asked Chichi.
Lola shook her head.
"No Amyas gave me a day off. But I´ve spoken to Lily and we´re going to see Mr Philips about something."she said drawing curious looks from both Chichi and Billy.
Lola had spent some time over the night, immersed in her thoughts, trying to sort out her feelings. Speaking to Lily on the phone, she found out that her best friend was wrestling with pretty much the same emotions. Remembering their homeroom teacher´s offer to provide advise, the two girls agreed to speak with him, especially since Lily would not accompany her mother today either, spoken to her about it yesterday.
"Lola?"she heared her boyfriend ask curiously, while grabbing her hand as the adults rose from the table and only the younger ones remained.
"We just need a small advice, that´s all."
"Phil? Where is Chichi?"asked Chloe as the class met in the school yard before the school bell rang signaling the start of their first lesson.
"Yeah. We wanted to thank him too."said Oliver, who´s puppy was returned to him just yesterday.
"And not just for the pets."said Liam and a round of agreement followed in the group of teenagers.
Most of them have seen the news at 4, yesterday and some were even at the Tofu house as Miles´ van arrived. Not to mention, that the story spread extremely fast even by Beauvillage standarts and during yesterday evening many talks and conversations regarding it were being conducted among both the young and old. Plus the story ended up on the front pages of many of the country´s newspapers including Megacity Times, Beauvillage Day and Middletown Message.
"He´s been excused today too. Something about family business."Phil answered to his classmates, who immediatly exchanged awestruck looks.
"Man, he´s one busy guy isn´t he?"asked one of the girls.
"You have no idea."said April rolling her eyes, as the young teens erupted in laughter.
"I just wonder what could he be possibly up to now."wondered Emily and the group started to chat wondering what could he be doing, many expecting something extraordinary.
"Sheesh, talk about popularity. No wonder Chichi doesn´t like it."whispered April to Phil, who only nodded.
"What´s he doing by the way?"she asked in whisper as their classmates discussed the topic eagerly, paying completly no attention to them.
"Fixing Amyas´ van. He´s probably in the Hidehole now."
April giggled dispite herself.
"He must be in seventh heaven right now."
Phil let out a small sigh.
"Wish I could be there too."he said sadly.
"Don´t worry. You two will work on that stage in the afternoon afterall."said April soothingly.
"But still, another boring day of school has to pass first."grumbled Phil as the classmates turned to them once again.
"You know, we think, that you two are so lucky to be on such good terms with the Tofus."said Maurice and agreement once more followed.
"We were since the very begining."said Phil staunchly, though he scrowled inwardly a bit.
Just like April. Both of them remembered that just a few years back, when the Tofus, Lola and Chichi included were labeled as wierdos and no one wanted anything to do with them. Now the same people are looking up to them. Well until some new eccentric topic hits Beauvillage again. Or untill Mom and Pop Tofu get anotherone of their wild ideas.
"Not all of them though."thought April as an angry looking Mia huffed and turned to the school, walking trough the door.
"And also Mr Miles."said another girl.
"Yeah, he´s the coolest."said Liam.
"What´s he like? Do tell us!"asked Chloe, before the other classmates followed suit.
Phil and April both sighed as they were being interrogated on Miles once again. But nevertheless started to answer the questions.
However, the conversation was being overlooked.
"I can´t believe this!"growled Nick as the brotherhood looked on the teens from the school´s gate.
"They beat us to solving the case."moaned Archie slaping his forehead.
"Nevermind, my brothers. I still believe, that some foul play will be on the pet convention tommorow."said Wiseman, his eyes narrowing under his sunglasses.
All four looked on the group of teens ahead of them and listened to them on and on about Miles.
"I decided to excuse you off your classes tommorow."said Wiseman suddenly.
The three younger members of the brotherhood looked at their leader in pure happiness as he went on.
"We will station ourselfs at the place of the convention today as well. We have to know, what will happen. Tommorow, we´ll be partoling all of Beauvillage to make sure, nothing happens to the pets or their owners. I have a feeling, that the lowly criminal Miles will surely make his move."
"Are you sure about this, Lola?"asked Buba as they came back from the yard..
She and Lola had a nice little talk as soon as Miles and Chichi left with the broken motor. Mom left the house too, in order to insure, that Beth´s burgers for the convention would be all natural. Beth actually agreed to make the menu for the convention stand with her, so the two were probably hard at work by now. Buba had already guessed, that Lola had reservations about working for EPO before everything started and wanted to discuss it with her for quite some time now. Now however Lola confessed to her about the confused and conflicted feelings she was experiencing.
"Yes, Buba. I figure, that I can at least look at some different options, since I´m not really sure."she explained and Buba nodded in understanding.
"Well it can´t hurt I suppose."she muttered, as the two sat down in the kitchen.
Lola nodded and smiled at Billy, who was busy feeding a the remaining pets with Rocky perched on his shoulder and cooing softly.
The door opened and in came Miles, obviously down.
"Nice to see you´re back, Miles. Where´s Chichi?"asked Buba as Miles slumped down at the table.
"Oh, he´s at my friend´s overseeing the repairs. I´m to pick him up at 2 pm."he anwered depressively.
"What´s up with you?"asked Lola eyeing him as he laid his head on the table.
Miles fixed her with a pained look from underneath his sunglasses.
"The pet convention is tommorow."he said painfully.
"Yes. And let´s be glad that it is with all this food poisoning business."remarked Billy, turning from feeding another pet, who was visibly getting much better and showing him its affection.
"But I have nothing to use for it. I mean, the convention has the greed-grabber potentional, but I just don´t know how to take it."said Miles with his head still on the table.
"Maybe you could just take a break and have a good time for a change."suggested Lola.
"Lola, without any greed there´s no good time to have."said Miles sadly, almost on the verge of tears.
"Come now, Miles. I´m sure you´ll come up with something."said Buba soothingly, sitting down beside him and placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Oh, brother."said Lola quietly while rolling her eyes, which drew a small chuckle from Billy, who got up from his last patient and gestured to her to come to the yard.
"Looks like you and Chichi scored a new sibling."commented Billy with a smile as soon as they entered the yard.
Lola sighed before she embraced him.
"Do NOT even mention that. I feel as though I got another irritating little brother to take care of."she said and Billy laughed.
"But you like him nonetheless."
Lola giggled a little in the embrace.
"Ok, I´ll admit it. If only he wasn´t so focused on making money. With Mom, Pop and your parents the last thing we needed is someone with more special interests."
They laughed once more, before both turning serious.
"That aside for now. Are you and Lily completly sure about this?"he asked seriously.
"We´re not. That´s why we´re going to Philips. He did say that we can ask his advise. Lily already called him and he said, he´ll meet us in the Rising Sun restaurant around noon."
"You´re not sure about EPO dispite the success you´ve had, then."he said solemnly.
Lola shook her head.
"Not completly. But maybe this will help me make up my mind."
Billy nodded once more before he kissed her deeply.
"Whatever you choose, I´ll support you all the way."he promised and it warmed Lola´s heart.
They stayed in the yard for a few minutes, before returning to the kitchen where Buba and Miles were behind the stove, cooking the herb recipe.
"I´m very gratefull that you taught me to cook this delicious dish, Buba."said Miles in a happy voice as he mixed the cooking herbs in the pot.
"Well, you like it so much, that I just couldn´t refuse."said Buba in equal happiness.
"The little guys will need some too, right Billy?"asked Miles looking over his shoulder at the pair.
"Yes, but not much anymore. They´re soon be completly fit to return to their owners."he answered with a smile, looking at Rocky who was also having some of the herb recipe that was left on the table.
"Heh, nice to see that even pidgeons like it."commented Lola smilingly.
"What´s not to like. This stuff is so great, that anyone would... like...it."said Miles getting a frozen look on his face.
For a second everyone in the kitchen was quiet before Miles jumped and exclaimed.
"EUREKA! CARAMBA! THAT´S IT!"
It was a few minutes before noon when Lola and Lily walked down the main street to the Rising Sun restaurant, which had the reputation of being the best in Beauvillage.
"Any idea, why Philips wanted us to meet him here of all places?"asked Lola.
"Well, he mentioned that he dines here from time to time and that he´d rather discuss this in a more friendly place than the school."explained Lily.
"Figures, I mean he shares his office with old Morter."said Lola with a small shiver.
"She would make this talk very difficult if she was there. I guess that´s what Philips thinks too."mused Lily as the two entered the restaurant.
They looked around for a while, searching for their professor. There weren´t much people in right now, but the restaurant was almost half full, which was hardly surprising given its reputation. Lola´s look stopped at an empty table for a second.
"What?"asked Lily, following Lola´s dreamy gaze.
"This is the table we sat at during our last anniversary with Billy a few months ago."she said deep in the pleasant memory.
Lily smiled as well, allowing Lola to relive the memory for a few moments.
"Lily, Lola."they heared a friendly voice call from the opposite table.
The girls turned and there was their homeroom professor, already sitting behind his table and eating his lunch. The girls sat at the table and he smiled broadly.
"We´re sorry to disturb you during your lunch break, Mr Philips."said Lily as soon as she sat down.
"Not at all Lily. My scheduele is kinda busy in school today and I would have very little time otherwise. But now I still have over an hour left free and its nice to get out of the school for a while."Philips waved off the apology.
"Order something too. My treat. We might as well make this comfortable."he offered good-naturedly as he saw the waiter approaching.
"Oh no, Mr Philips. We couldn´t."said Lola shaking her head along with her best friend.
"I insist Lola. You and the others helped all those pets including mine. I want to show my gratitude."
"Your advise will be gratitude enough."said Lola as the waiter stopped by their table.
Philips shook his head and smiled.
"I insist."he repeated.
Lola and Lily shared a look, but agreed and ordered their favourite dishes, given that they haven´t eaten anything since breakfast.
"Just hope my Mom doesn´t find out about this. She and Pop still have reservations about the place."said Lola and the three shared a small laugh.
"Well, you said that you could use my advise. I have to say, that you´re the only ones from the class who actually did so. It seems, that your classmates have already decided which careers to persue."commented Philips before Lola and Lily started to talk.
The three of them shared a very pleasurable conversation for over fifteen minutes as they dined, they discussed what the two girls have done up until now, the food poisoning case and Billy´s decidion of becoming a vet, which greatly pleased Philips.
"Well, it seems that Beauvillage will have its own vet in a matter of a few years."he said folding his arms in a satisfied way, smiling to himself.
"Until that time, the pets will be treated at the Tofus."said Lily with a smile finishing her food.
"Well, that went well. But now lets move on to you two. Lily you first."said Philips kindly gesturing to the said girl, who nodded and thought to herself before begining.
"As much as I enjoy history subjects I thought that archeology would be more interesting, especially since its done outdoors. But the excavation in the moutains were completly boring. I remembered the advice you gave me a few months ago, but I long to put it into real life rather than on paper."said Lily and Philips looked thoughtfully for a second, while Lola was completly bewildered.
"What advice Lily?"she asked curiously.
Lily however shook her head smilingly and winked at her.
"My secret, sorry."
Lola scrowled. She hated when she got like this. They were best friends for crying out loud! They shouldn´t keep secrets from one another.
"Well Lily, I do have a suggestion."said Philips while drawing up a small book from this work brief case and showing it to them.
"Megacity science academy has a program, which I think would suit you well. Upon the second of the five grades you can decide further to persue a career in either their science division – become an explorer, or nature science, or their social division – which would probably make you a tour guide – since you´re good at languages."
It was true, Lily had a small gift for languages, she learnt French pretty much on her own.
"Though you may not exactly need it anyway if your other little gift shows itself to its fullest potentional."he said winking at Lily, who giggled.
"Well, I am pretty much done with my first little project, but I´m not sure it could live up to what you´re expecting."she said and Philips shrugged smilingly.
"You never know. It´s worth a shot, I think. I will be delighted to look at it once its done."
"What in the world are you not telling me?"asked Lola, crossing her arms and glaring her best friend.
"Its just a little project I´m making, Lola. But I´m not sure of the outcome and until that time, I will keep it a secret."answered Lily in an apologetic voice.
"Great. Now you´re acting like Chichi."grumbled Lola.
With all of Chichi´s little projects, the Hidehole being the top of the hill, she was getting a bit allergic to any secrets kept from her.
"Lola. Now its your turn."said Philips getting her attention.
It took a moment for Lola to compose her thoughts before she explained the entire EPO thing, with all of her thoughts on the matter. She talked for over 10 minutes, with both Lily and Philips listening to her attentively.
"...and no matter how good the food poisoning case turned out, I still feel unfufilled."she finished and a moment of silence followed.
"Well, Lola it seems to me, that the EPO is not really meant for you no matter how much talent you have in that field. The real question however stands, what would you like to do? What do you enjoy? That would be the easiest place to start."said Philips sagely and Lola was silently thinking.
Lily and Philips looked at her, as she was mulling it over, but then a small look of reservation came across her face.
"Yes?"asked Philips expectantly, but Lola shook her head.
"There is one thing, but... surely its not an option."she said more to herself than them.
"What is it Lola? Tell us."implored Lily.
Lola bit her lip.
"I... I always enjoyed..."she began, but fell silent once more.
"Lola, don´t be ashamed. We won´t laugh. Just tell us what do you enjoy."said Philips in a low soothing voice.
Lola took a deep breath and looked to Lily.
"Remember all the school plays I was in? And that commertial three years back?"she asked and Lily´s eyes went wide as she nodded.
"You want to be an actress?"she asked quietly.
Lola bit her lips again.
"I know its stupid and all. I mean what are the chances of that happening. But I really enjoy the various roles and the stage."she finished in a defeated voice.
"I don´t think its stupid at all, Lola. In fact from what I´ve seen in the last play, you definitely have a talent for it."said Philips thoughtfully.
Lola fixed him with a completly bewildered look.
"I´m serious Lola."he nodded with a smile.
He took the book he showed Lily moments ago and listed trough it. Lola sat completly still, remembering the plays she participated in, the small roles and ploys she employed with her little brother over the years on various people, her parents more often than not and finally she remembered the words Bee told her almost four years ago before the big school play, when she was competing with Cherie for the main role.
"...and I also see, that your fire energy is oriented towards – celebrity!"