Lou and Be Held

A/N: This is AU, so try not to let the discrepancies bother you. ^^;; This is set on Sentinel III, after the series ends. Also, Harry and Ron have a bit of a role switch, as Harry isn't the one who gets reduced to a computer program! ^_~

Fred scanned the list of names, hoping to find someone of interest to look forward to. A few names caught his eye, as they were men he was familiar with. He found it surprising that quite a few of them were business associates. However, none of them matched the shock when Fred read Gene's name on the list of contestants.


A week ago . . .


"WHAT?!?!?" Jim's voice carried throughout the building, his voice cracking as it raised in pitch. To say he was shocked, surprised, even bewildered, would be an understatement. His fingers flexed in the air as if trying to grasp the meaning of Gene's words. "Gene, what are you saying??"

"I'm saying, we need the money! So I entered a contest. What's the big deal? And it's not like there's any kind of entrance fee, either, so chill!" Gene replied flippantly.

"But . . . But . . . The Chipper-Dale Contest?!?"

"Actually," Melfina spoke up for the first since Gene dropped the news, "it's called a pageant in the manual."

"Same difference." Gene waved his hand in the air, as if to dismiss the meaning the word represented. "Besides, it's good advertising! Besides, for that kind of money, I could stand a little humiliation." He said the last with a wink and a smile. Despite his nonchalance, Gene knew all too well what he was getting himself into. Unlike most times, he didn't just jump into this blindly. He had contacted some men who had competed before to find out what to expect and, all in all, it didn't seem so bad. After all, was used to women ogling him openly. However, it was the men he was more concerned about. He was pretty certain he could handle it. Especially after all these years of business with Fred.

"I don't like this, Aniki."

"Did I mention the prize for first place is 500 million woolong?" Gene smiled as he saw Jim's face brighten at the mention of the prize. "400 for 1st runner up, 300 for 2nd, 200 for 3rd, and 100 for 4th. As long as I make it to the top 5 . . ."

"We'd make at least 100 million woolong!" Jim was ecstatic as he mentally calculated what they could do with the prize money, if Gene made it. "Aniki! If you won, then we could pay off over 75% of our debt to Fred!" Jim's eyes danced at the prospect. They'd be sooooo close . . .

"That's interesting . . ." Gene and Jim turned their attention to Melfina, who seemed to have her nose buried in the pageant manual. "It says here that this year's competition is being conducted by Fred Lou. He's providing over half of the funding."

"If he's a judge, then Gene's sure to win!" Jim jibed, chuckling even as Gene whapped the back of his head.

"Ha ha." Gene frowned. This didn't sound good . . .

"Actually, he's not a judge, but he is the director of ceremonies. So I guess you'll be seeing a lot of him, then. On stage, I mean." Melfina closed the book and set it down with the rest of the things Gene had brought back with him. Amongst them was what looked like an oversized, black-velvet scrunchie, with a white-plastic disc attached to it. The disc had a black border with a red number painted in the middle. 69. Melfina's mind tried to remember what that number signified, but it eluded her mental grasp. She didn't mind. She wasn't even sure Gene was telling her the truth, anyway. A crash brought her back to reality. Gene seemed intent on pummeling Jim for some reason, though she couldn't see why. She never understood Gene's thought process. He was very much an enigma to her. Jim, she understood better, but only half the time, it seems. She pondered if all humans were like this, or if it was just the males.

A/N: I know. It's short. But what do you expect for a prologue? By me yet? ^_~ I have a lot planned for this one, as it was dream inspired. ^^;; It took me two sittings to write this, a few days/weeks apart. ^^;; I only got as far as the "WHAT?!?!?" in the first sitting, though. ^^;; My muse left me rather quickly. At least I got more written *this* time! ^_~