Ace of Hearts
Ace couldn’t sleep at all that night. His eyes looked closed behind his shades, but tonight he was wide awake as the light of the moon softly illuminated through the cracks in the ceiling. Normally, he would be able to drown out the sound of Big Billy’s incessant snoring (which always sounded like someone ripping a really nasty fart for some weird reason). He tried to make himself comfortable on the couch.
Something was missing. How was it that Angie hadn’t even been part of their gang for a few days and yet he wasn’t used to seeing an empty space in the middle of the room where she slept?
He wasn’t worried about Angie; she proved was tough. She would figure out how to find her way back to the dump eventually. And if she didn’t?
Well that wasn’t hard. Ace would just find another really, really good thief to replace her. That wouldn’t be hard at all. No way.
Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be easy. And did he really want to replace her?
Ace thought about Angie and the way her antics drove him up the wall, how she would burst out in song at random moments and how she could never, ever sit still. And yet, despite being a hyper little ball of energy, she could fall asleep instantly every night. That was why the room looked so empty without her.
He spent most of his life convinced that he didn’t have a heart. So what was this strange feeling? It wasn’t like earlier when he was watching her dance. Nah. He’d seen plenty of hot girls before. That was nothing new. This was different. And whatever it was, it swallowed him whole. There was no escape from it.
Ace knew where she was tonight. And yet he wished she was with him.
Snap out of it, man, Ace scolded himself. You didn’t need nobody before and you don’t need nobody now. Especially not some girl.
Ace smiled to himself at that last thought, widely enough so that his fangs stuck out. With that, he fell asleep.
The next afternoon, Angela rubbed her aching head as she opened her eyes to a strange and unfamiliar place. She panicked for a moment. Where was she? She threw a fluffy white throw blanket off of her as she bolted upright.
She was in the living room of a middle-class home and she’d been sleeping on the leather sofa for so long that her body made an indent.
How far away from the dump was she? Her body went rigid and icy with fear as she began to hyperventilate.
“Let’s go see if she woke up,” Angela heard a voice say. It belonged to a young girl.
“Yay!” Chirped another female voice. This one was squeakier and a little more babyish than the first one. Somehow, they didn’t sound too unfamiliar to Angela. What was going on? How could this get any weirder?
Her question was answered when three little girls in matching dresses of pink and blue and green stood in front of her. Their big pastel eyes studied her carefully and suspiciously.
“Oh my God!” Angela cried. “This has to be a dream! I'm in the house of the Powerpuff Girls!”
“Well, it seems the patient made a full recovery,” Blossom observed smiling. “Looks like my first aid training came in handy!”
“Blah, blah, blah,” Buttercup said as she rolled her big, green eyes. She hated when her sister put on airs.
Angela loved the Powerpuff Girls. She knew all about their awesome deeds whether it was from the news or from Princess. How exciting it must be to fly around all day and have really awesome super powers. Angela wanted to meet them when she found out they were living in Cityville for a little while, but unfortunately she was stuck in a lovely little prison called boarding school.
“You guys rock!” Angela said. “I’ve heard all about you on the news and in the papers and stuff and so it’s really amazing to finally meet you! But can I ask one question?” Angela asked.
“Go ahead!” Blossom invited. “Because we were hoping you could answer a few questions for us, too.”
Angela remembered the last thing that happened before she blacked out. A jarring, painful shock went through her body. Before that, Arturo told her she could cut the final wire. Surely, they were going to ask what she was doing in the car. She had to think of something quickly.
“What happened to me? How’d you find me?” She asked.
“Someone called the hotline saying that they saw someone trying to break into a car,” Buttercup explained impatiently. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?” She asked suspiciously. “Was the baseball bat we found inside the car yours?”
“Buttercup!” Blossom scolded.
“Well,” Angela said. From there, the lies began spilling out like word vomit, “I had a friend drive me home. Suddenly, our car was jacked. They wanted the radio. My friend got away, but I couldn’t. They took the radio and they beat me with the baseball bat until I collapsed. That was the last thing I remember.”
“What do you mean by they?” Bubbles wondered. “You mean the people that hurt you?”
“These two big guys,” Angela said. “They were huge, like they could’ve been in a strongman competition. They had scraggly beards and they were bald. They smelled like they hadn’t showered in a year.”
“I'm so sorry,” Blossom said sympathetically. “We’ll go with you to talk to the police as soon as you’re feeling well enough to leave the house. They’ll work with us to find whoever did this to you.”
Buttercup’s eyes narrowed in on Angela, not leaving her for a moment.
“By the way, what’s your name?” Bubbles asked.
“You can call me Angie,” Angela replied.
“Ugh, let’s just watch some TV,” Buttercup said rolling her eyes. She and the girls sat on the couch next to Angela as Buttercup grabbed the remote and flicked on the TV where the news was on featuring the news anchor that talks like Sean Connery.
“Hey, maybe they’ll show the monster we fought on the way to school!” Blossom cried.
“And in other news,” the news anchor said, launching into another story, “Fourteen year old Angela Morbucks has been missing for three days. The teen was visiting with her uncle, billionaire Mr. Morbucks and her cousin Princess Morbucks when she escaped from her room on Saturday night without a trace. Anyone who has any information on her whereabouts is to contact Mr. Morbucks immediately. A reward will be issued upon her return. She can be identified by a heart-shaped birthmark at the base of her neck.
The news showed an old photo of Angela with her old long, curly hairstyle. Angela’s heart began to beat faster with fear upon seeing herself on the screen. If the Powerpuff Girls asked for a birthmark right then and there, she’d be screwed and her joyride would come to an end. She would be forced to return to her mundane world of the prim and proper.
“Holy cow! Princess has a cousin?” Blossom asked incredulously.
“Who is this Princess?” Angela inquired. It was the only thing she could think of to ask.
“Only the most annoying, spoiled idiot ever!” Buttercup groaned. “She is a colossal idiot. She is so stupid that she…”
“Buttercup!” Blossom interrupted. “Princess was new here. She moved here some time ago and decided she wanted to be one of us. We told her we don’t allow new members because it’s too dangerous, she has no superpowers, and she would only get in the way. Of course, she just had to have her way.”
“It was kinda funny,” Bubbles admitted. “She bought all these super suits to try and be a superhero, but they didn’t really help.”
“Maybe she just wanted to feel included,” Angela said. This sounded like her cousin, all right. “After all, some people seem totally mean on the outside, but once you include them, they’re really, really cool!”
“We tried that!” Bubbles cried. “On the first day of school, we asked if she wanted to play with us, but she acted like a stuck-up jerk!”
“There’s nothing good about her,” Buttercup said. “She slowed us down when we could’ve easily stopped that bank robbery without her, she ganged up with Mojo Jojo to get rid of us, she made crime legal and so all of our stuff was stolen, and she almost ruined Christmas for everybody!”
“Are you sure you should be talking about her like that?” Angela asked. “I mean, you don’t even know her that well.” If there’s one thing she couldn’t tolerate, it was talking about people instead of to them.
“Psh, all we need to know is that she’s some spoiled brat whose daddy gives her everything she wants,” Buttercup groaned as she rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue in disgust. Angela noticed Buttercup’s tongue curled up, and she wished she could do that herself. “Who needs her?”
Angela couldn’t believe what she was hearing. As cruel as her cousin was to her and as much as Angela liked playing pranks on her since she was such an easy target, Princess was the little sister Angela never had. Angela loved Princess from the day she entered this world. Besides, it wasn’t Princess’s fault she was so spoiled. She was lonely.
Angela was engulfed by flashbacks of the divorce two years ago, back when she was twelve and Princess was three. Daddy Morbucks lived in Cityville for a little while. Angela remembered the nights when she would stay up late and hear her parents talking about her uncle’s messy divorce from his wife, Narcissa. Angela would creep out of her cozy bed and tiptoe to the top of the stairs without a sound.
“I told my brother he was marrying a gold-digger. Did my little bro listen to me? Oh hell no!” Angela remembered her dad’s voice ranting and raving. “He said, ‘Narcissa’s a good woman. She’d never do that to me.’ Look what she does! She cheats on him and them tries filing for divorce six months later!”
“It’s going to be so hard on Princess, growing up without a mother,” Angela’s mom sighed sadly.
And it was. While her uncle got custody of Princess, Angela watched Princess grow up without a mother figure in her life. Angela watched her uncle spoil Princess with whatever she wanted. He used to talk a lot before the divorce, telling all sorts of exciting stories of his business ventures and political exploits. But afterwards, he never spoke at all. Instead, he continued to give Princess whatever she wanted. She was the only girl in his life he would ever need to spoil. Sometimes Princess would scream out at night for Mommy. And when she did, Daddy Morbucks gave her whatever she wanted. Time passed, and Narcissa wanted to be a more active part of Princess’s life, but the little girl’s trust was broken. Sure, occasionally Princess would talk to her mother on the phone, and Narcissa would occasionally visit Princess on her birthday or the holidays, but their relationship was never quite the same again.
“Angie, are you okay?” Bubbles asked.
“Oh, yes, of course,” Angela lied. “Just trying to watch the news is all.” Really, she hadn’t been paying any attention to the story on the man selling kittens outside of the grocery store.
“Hey look!” Blossom cried. “We’re on now!”
“This morning, the Powerpuff Girls stopped a gigantic gorgon from causing massive collateral damage in downtown Townsville,” the news anchor said. “The girls were able to take down the creature in under five minutes.”
“Oh yeah! We’re awesome!” Buttercup boasted.
“It’s all in a day’s work, I suppose,” Blossom said, pretending to be modest. “Anyway, I like to believe there’s some good in all the villains we battle, even Mojo Jojo,” Blossom admitted. “Mojo Jojo was just a neglected monkey. Even the Gangrene Gang has some good to them, even if we can’t see it. Remember the time we saved Big Billy from the oncoming train and he followed us around everywhere until he started ruining everything?”
Angela couldn’t believe this. But this sounded like something that would happen to Billy, all right. She grinned.
“Buttercup might be able to tell you what if there’s anything good about them,” Bubbles giggled.
“Ugh, don’t remind me,” Buttercup shuddered.
“Oooh! Oooh! I wanna know!” Angela cried out excitedly. This was about to get interesting.
“I wanna tell the story!” Bubbles cried as Buttercup’s forehead met her hand and her face turned bright red. “Buttercup used to have a huge crush on the leader!”
Angela couldn’t help to be but a little jealous. However, she could easily understand why Buttercup would. Angela was wishing she could hear that voice right now and see that wicked grin on his face with his fangs sticking out. She loved the fact that he was unlike anyone else she’d ever met in her life. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that he had a nice ass, either. Angela tried to stop herself from giggling.
“Yeah, until he took advantage of me so he could get rid of my sisters,” Buttercup frowned. “I’ll never trust a boy again.”
Angela couldn’t believe her ears. She felt a sickening notion in her stomach. If he could lead a Powerpuff Girl astray, he could easily take advantage of an ordinary girl like her. But what would he want with her? So many questions popped up in her brain. So many answers longing to be found.
Luckily, the hotline rang. Blossom answered it. Angela couldn’t help but realize that the face on the hotline phone looked so creepy.
“Girls! Trouble! Move out!” She barked at Bubbles and Buttercup two seconds later.
“I'm sorry we can’t stay,” Bubbles apologized. “We’ll be back when we get done foiling a bank robbery!”
“I have to go too,” Angela said. “I need to get back to my family. I dunno if they miss me. But I sure do miss them.”
Angela may have been lying to those girls that entire time, but this was one thing she had said all day that wasn’t entirely a lie. She had only lived with the Gangrene Gang for three days, but they were the closest she had ever felt to being home. Of course, the girls didn’t hear what she said, because they were gone in an instant in a flash of pink and blue and green.
As Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup zipped through the sky en route to the bank, Bubbles said, “You know, Angie’s a nice girl, but there’s something about her that seems kinda weird.”
“I'm telling you, she’s the one who jacked the radio!” Buttercup insisted.
“I wouldn’t say that much, but there’s something about her story that doesn’t add up,” Blossom said. “For one thing, how is it possible for someone to get beat with the baseball bat and not have any marks on them?” With that, they crash-landed through the roof of the bank and beat the robbers black and blue as the innocent bystanders cheered.
Meanwhile, back at the Townsville Dump, Ace, Snake, Lil Arturo, Grubber, and Big Billy were all sitting around playing poker. As usual, Grubber was winning.
“He always wins,” Arturo said in disappointment as Grubber gathered up whatever the gang placed up as a bet and blew a huge raspberry in triumph.
“Any idea when Angie’s coming back?” Ace asked casually.
“Will you quit asking that already?” Arturo complained.
“That was the first time I asked!” Ace protested.
“Exsss-actly,” Snake said. “You never care when one of ussss goes missing!”
“You thought Big Billy was dead when he ran away to help Powerpuff Girls after they saved Billy from oncoming train,” Big Billy reminded him slowly. Ace was shocked that Billy even remembered that ever happened.
“I just wanted to know, that’s all,” Ace said. “Besides, she owes me money!”
“Actually,” Arturo corrected him, “You owe her money. So do I. Lots of it.”
“Oh yeah. You never told her what you were gonna do with it,” Ace pointed out.
Just then, Angie burst through the door carrying a hot apple pie.
“Honey, I'm home!” She cried. “And I brought pie!”
Ace grinned, flashing his fangs. Oh yeah, Angie was back all right.
“What’ssss with the pie?” Snake asked as Angie set the pie down on the table.
“Let’s just say I was doing Professor Utonium a favor by taking this pie off his hands,” Angela explained. “He learned the hard way that if you leave a pie to cool on the windowsill, birds will invade your house.”
A cutaway reveals Professor Utonium wearing a frilly pink apron and chasing blackbirds out of the kitchen with a broomstick while yelling, “Shoo! Shoo you rats with wings! Get out of my kitchen!” The scene then cuts back to the wooden shack at the dump.
“Big Billy likes pie!” Big Billy cried as he took a fistful of pie with his hands and began chowing down.
“Sssssave some for me!” Snake cried.
“Thanks for bringin’ a pie back,” Ace said as the others began scarfing down the pie. “But I gotta ask ya somethin’.”
“Go ahead,” Angela said. Her face began to turn bright red.
“Why’d ya bother comin’ back?” Ace asked. “Don’t ya have somewhere else to go?”
“Nowhere that I would want to go back to,” Angela said. “Why? Don’t you guys even want me here?”
“Nah, it ain't that,” Ace told her. “You just don’t seem like the kinda girl that would wanna spend all your time hangin’ out with us is all.”
“Well, whatever it is, my life would be so boring without you guys,” Angela said. She went off to join the others in hopes that there would still be some pie left.
Ace couldn’t help but smile. At least now, the wooden shack would feel a little less empty.