'Umm... okay. Umm... So, Suzie was floating round the playgroup-'
'-and she found this boy buried in the sandpit.'
'Him. Adric. And she dug him out. An' then he told her how he ended up there, 'cause of this little girl who keeps wedgieing him, an' spitballing him, an' just basically doin' Bad Things to him, like buryin' him in the sandpit.'
'So Suzie asks /why/ she's doing this to him, an' Adric says he doesn't know, she's been doin' this ever since he first got here.'
'Then he takes her to meet his other friend, Ucchan-'
'-an' /that's/ when Suzie's brother Billy shows up an' decides to give them a wedgie too. Somethin' familiar 'bout that...'
'You're telling me.'
'So Suzie smokejumps them out of there, an' we hold them off for a while by pointing Nyssa - that's the Bad Girl - an' Billy at each other. An' Suzie says, hey, why don'cha meet my friends, an' brings them along to meet us.'
'And they 'xplain what's going on, an' this looks like a job for the Justice Toddlers if ever there /was/ one, an' we ask the Main Tot if he can help out, cause no-one knows how to frag better than the Main Tot-'
'Got /that/ right.'
'An' he says yes. So that's sorta what's been going on.'
The little brown-haired boy, currently in a blue T-shirt, with a broken bell symbol on the front, and training pants, considered this.
'Well, you /did/ ask.'
'I know.' the boy said. 'That's what worries me.'
He tried to stretch his fingers.
'Ow. /Still/ don't have the hang of this. 'Kay... plan of action.'
'/Plan of action?/'
'Course. This /is/ a job for the Justice Toddlers, right?'
'Okay. Now, what we /could/ do is try changing the way you look, make you look all smart and dashing, sorta thing-'
'We /could/?' Adric said.
'Of course we could.' the boy said. 'But we're not gonna. Cause I'm guessing you don't wanna change who you are simply to stop this Bad Girl pounding on you.'
'Well-' Adric began.
'Course he doesn't!' Ukyou huffed.
'Then in /that/ case, I've got just the thing.'
Adric frowned. 'Umm... who are you again?'
'Snappy. Snappy Carr.' the boy said.
'/Snappy/?!' Adric echoed.
Snappy shrugged. 'Hey, /I/ like it.'
'Uh-/huh/...' the Main Tot said. 'Oh yeah, this explains a lot.'
Snappy grinned. 'Trust me, kid. With a name like Snappy, sooner or later, you're gonna get wedgied. An' since I wasn't gonna change it, I hadta come up with 'nother way to deal with it.'
'What'd you do?' Adric asked curiously.
Snappy's grin grew wider. 'Goes a /little/ something like this...'
'Is it too late to go back to the "changing who I am" plan? I liked the "changing who I am" plan.' Adric babbled.
'This should work.' Snappy reassured him.
'It's that "should" that scares me.' Adric muttered.
'Scares me too.'
'Yeah,' Snappy said. 'We're taking a risk. We're taking a whacking great risk that she's just gonna wedgie you again.'
'Course, that's a risk /whatever/ you do, isn't it?'
'Um...' Adric said.
'Someone lays into her, she takes it out on someone else. We change the way you look, she laughs and wedgies you. We hide you, she finds and wedgies you. You run, she finds and wedgies you.'
'I get it, I get it.'
'What we're trying to do is make sure you /don't/ get it.' Snappy pointed out.
Adric narrowed his eyes. 'Was that supposed to be a joke?'
Snappy looked up. 'Okay, guys. Stay out of sight.'
Suzie, Kon and Cass nodded from their positions on the ceiling.
Snappy looked around. 'And we've got the Main Tot-'
'That's Slo-bo!' came the yell back.
'-Slo-bo on the Super-Tricycle. You okay on there, Nita?'
'I'm fine, but I think Ukyou needs the potty...' Nita said, looking worriedly at the nauseous okonomiyaki chef.
'Okay.' Snappy said. 'Now, we wait.'
'Uh-huh. Managing to keep a horde of toddlers quiet? /That/ I'd like to see...'
'Shh! She's coming!'
Adric bugged, but kept his eyes on the abacus he was playing with.
'Right!' the little brown haired girl said. 'Prepare to get wedgied, swamptot!'
Someone tapped her on the shoulder.
Snappy raised an eyebrow. 'Wedgieing? Please.'
Nyssa crossed her arms. 'And just what's /wrong/ with wedgieing? Hmm?'
'Oh, nothing... it's just that after the-' Snappy looked at his fingers, and muttered to himself. '-after you've seen it enough times, it's... well, boring.'
'Boring?!' Nyssa shrieked. 'What's boring about it?!'
'Pulling a toddler's nappy into their bum?' Snappy said. 'Don't you find it gets... repetitive?'
'Of course I do.' Nyssa said. 'That's why I do spitballs-'
'-tangling up their hair in rubber bands-'
'-burying them in the sandpit-'
'Got the Etch-a-Sketch.'
'-stealing their toys-'
Snappy looked up. 'Oh, sorry. Have we got to the point where you do something original?'
'What do you mean by /that/?!'
'I mean you're not exactly all that imaginative, are you?'
'I've got /tons/ of imagination!' Nyssa huffed. 'I've got imagination up to /here/!'
'That's not /all/ she's got up to there...'
'Mm-hmm. Of course, imagination can be fun...'
'And so is whaling on other toddlers.'
'Well, of /course/.'
'It's just-' Snappy paused. 'It's not very original.'
'So? It's still fun!' Nyssa huffed.
'Yes... but you're not exactly gonna stick in the memory, are you?'
'After a wedgie, you stick in the memory.' Nyssa acidly observed.
'Mm-hmm. But there's gonna be someone along, sooner or later, who's gonna be better at it than you, and then where are you gonna be?' Snappy said.
Nyssa crossed her arms. 'Still wedgieing. Hey, /I/ like it. Who cares what they think 'bout it?!'
'Right. And then someone turns round and wedgies you.'
'Then /I/ wedgie them back.'
'You would...' Snappy murmured. 'So that's it, really. Whaling on other toddlers for a fun time.'
'That's not /all/ I do!' Nyssa protested. 'We have these really, really fun adventures an' stuff, we do stuff with the Adults...'
'You get bored easily, don't you?'
'Well-' Nyssa began.
'Oh, whaling on other toddlers is fun.' Snappy said. 'It's just that, sooner or later, it's gonna stop being fun.'
'It... It will?' Nyssa said.
'We're toddlers.' Snappy pointed out. 'Short attention span basically sums us up.'
'It does, doesn't it?'
'So, when we see something new, we see just how many fun things we can do with it. And it lasts even /longer/ if they can actually react to it.'
'Um.' Nyssa said. 'Yeah.'
'Like having a toy all to yourself. An' you don't care if others think it looks scruffy, or messy, or something you don't wanna play with. /You/ know how to play with it, and make it fun.'
'Yeah... Yeah..' Nyssa said, her eyes lost in a vision only she could see.
'Your very own private, personal toy. /Yours/. And if someone tries to take it away...'
'THEY CAN'T HAVE IT!' Nyssa yelled.
Snappy shrugged. 'Course not. It /is/ yours, after all. But what'd happen if the Adults threw it out?'
'They wouldn't-' Nyssa hesitated.
For a moment, she looked almost lost.
'If it's worn out, or broken, they would.' Snappy said. 'Adults are like that. Course, you /could/ find a new toy. Won't be quite the same, natch. Different. Make you feel differently. But you don't /wanna/ feel differently, you want that old feeling back... and you can't have it.'
She nodded silently.
'And when even /we/ can't repair it...' Snappy trailed off. 'Then the Adults take it.'
'But...' Nyssa whispered. 'But I /like/ it. I /like/ playing with it!'
~Like putting it in the Hole, you mean.~
'Yeah. But the Adults don't think like that.'
'Adults are dumb.' Nyssa pronounced.
'Gotta point there...'
Snappy shrugged. 'Not much we can do 'bout that...'
'Wait a minute... is he saying... he is, he /is/! If Adric threatened to leave...'
'That's /it/. And she can't wedgie him to make him /not/ leave...'
~He can do something, can't he? She needs his presence.~
' 'Xactly, Suz. She /needs/ him around. She wants that feeling she gets when she plays with him.'
~But he doesn't.~
'Cause that feeling is cause of /his/ pain.'
~But if he kept threatening to leave-~
'Wouldn't work. Sooner or later, she'd call him on it.'
Snappy shot a glare at the ceiling.
'Sorry. We'll be quiet.'
'Hey, I've got an idea...' Snappy said.
'Hnh?' Nyssa's head had sunk low on her chest.
'Ever found anything /like/ that toy the Adults threw out?'
Nyssa shook her head. 'It's not the same.'
'Nope, it won't be. But lots of things aren't the same.' Snappy pointed out. 'Like nappies.'
'Nappies get dirty, and the Adults throw /them/ out. Wouldn't you say getting a new nappy was a good thing?'
'Well...' Nyssa began.
'This's the same thing, only much, much bigger. If you /stop/ playing with it, then it won't get dirty, and the Adults won't throw it out.'
'It'll still be here?' Nyssa asked nervously.
'So if I find /other/ things to do...' Nyssa thought out loud.
Snappy nodded again. 'Just not things that get the toys dirty, 'cause then-'
'The Adults'll throw it out.' Nyssa finished. 'Thank you. Thank you so /much/!'
Snappy grinned. 'Any time.'
An evil smile spread across Nyssa's face. '/Right/. Cookie jar, here I come!'
Snappy looked after her as she toddled off towards the kitchen, then shrugged. 'Hey, at least it's a start...'
'Wow.' Adric said. 'You did it.'
Snappy grinned again. 'What can I say? When you've been wedgied more times then you can count, you get a hang for these things...'
Adric looked sideways at him. 'Um... 'less I got this wrong, you just threatened her with taking her toys away if she kept playing with them like /that/, so play nice.'
Snappy shrugged. 'You just gotta know how to put it.'
Adric shook his head in astonished disbelief. 'Wow. Just... wow. And you actually got away with it.'
'Like I said.'
'Big deal,' Slo-bo said as he piloted the Super-Tricycle in for a landing. 'No one got fragged.'
Nita covered her eyes. 'Oy...'
A small blonde cannonball cannoned into Snappy
Cass practically *jumped* down from the ceiling. 'Ciss, what happened?!'
'Ciss?' Cass waved her hand in front of Ciss's face. 'Ciss, you there? What happened?'
'Gi... Gi'mme a wedgie...' Ciss wailed. 'He gimme a wedgie!!'
'Who?' Snappy asked.
Adric pointed a finger at the toddler with long black hair, a plastic sword, and disturbing amounts of face paint, making his way towards them. 'Um, at a guess... him?'
Ciss nodded through her tears. 'Him.'
~Oh no...~ Suzie breathed.
'That ain't gonna work.' Kon advised Snappy. 'Guy /wants/ to get his toys dirty. Then he'll move on to the next. Trainee supervillain.'
Snappy covered his eyes. 'Oh, /great/. Have I mentioned just how /much/ I hate supervillains?!'
Slo-bo grinned. 'Oh yeah. This is gonna be good.'
He pushed a button on the Super-Tricycle's dashboard. Plastic guns rose out of their hoardings.
~And Billy's already /been/ in the Hole.~ Suzie whispered. ~He's not about to go back.~
'Neither are we.' Adric said. 'Everybody in.'
The others turned.
'The Super-Tricycle.' Adric repeated. 'In. /Now/.'
''Really, /really/ hope you got something in mind, Adchan...' Ukyou said, as they piled into the Tricycle.
'The blue box,' Adric told Slo-bo. 'Make for the blue box.'
'Hey, I ain't running out on this.'
~Slo-bo... Billy, he's /been/ in the Hole, same as you.~
Slo-bo's eyes narrowed. 'Then it's time for a game of Chicken. 'Cause Slo-bo /ain't/ chicken.'
He revved the Tricycle.
'Hey, mime-face!' Slo-bo yelled. 'Get ready to be /fragged/!'
The Tricycle roared towards Billy.
Billy drew his plastic sword.
-and it burst into flame.
'Uh-oh...' Adric said.
#Ready and waiting.# Billy said.
'Slo-bo...' Nita said.
'Relax, Nita. I'm on it.'
'This is gonna hurt /so/ much.' Ciss observed.
Billy grinned, and held the sword straight in front of him.
Seconds before impact...
'Oh no.' Adric covered his eyes.
And pushed a button on the Tricycle.
A Boom Tube opened-
-directly behind Billy.
He span around-
The Boom Tube closed.
With Billy inside.
'Heh. Chicken.' Slo-bo said.
'Where'd he go?'
Slo-bo's smirk grew even bigger. 'It matter? Wherever he is, he /ain't/ having a fun time...'
~He'll be back.~ Suzie said dourly. ~He always comes back.~
'Then before he /does/...' Adric said.
'Yeah, yeah. The fraggin' blue box. Heard ya the first time.' Slo-bo paused. '/Which/ blue box? This /is/ a playgroup...'
'The one...' Adric paused. 'The one with "Police Box - Don't Keep Out" on the door.'
'/Don't/ Keep Out?' Cass echoed.
'Hey, it's not like anyone but the Doc goes in there...' Adric said defensively. 'Besides, the Doc didn't want anything to happen to anyone who went in there. An' you don't tell toddlers to keep out of somewhere...'
'You tell them /not/ to keep out.' Kon completed. 'Tell toddlers like that somethin', and they'll do exactly the opposite.'
Cass and Ciss /looked/ at him.
Slo-bo patted the Tricycle on the bumper. 'Stay, 'kay?'
Cass frowned. 'Okay... Adric, are you sure about this?'
Suzie looked up at the large cardboard box, painted blue, with "Police Box - Don't Keep Out"stencilled across it.
Then she patted it.
Off their looks, she explained ~She wanted to be patted.~
'O-kay...' Kon said.
Adric lifted up a flap. 'Come on. More than enough room for everyone.'
The Justice Toddlers looked at each other. Then, one by one, they crawled inside.
'Do you... Do you think I should have warned them?'
'Um... not to touch anything.'
'Uh-huh. And what were you saying about telling toddlers /not/ to do something?'
'True...' Adric admitted.
'Come on, then. Let's do it.'
Ukyou crawled in.
Adric looked around, and then followed.
The flap closed behind him.
'Oh no... DON'T TOUCH-'
And then, with a wheezing, groaning noise, the box disappeared.
To Be Continued...?
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat.