2. It All Comes Out in the Wash

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A little more background, plot development. Next chapter is where things will pick up, and we will finally meet more characters.

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I sat down on the bed in the guest room and began flipping through my contacts, looking for my Uncle Hiram's number. I stopped briefly when the name "Favorite Uncle" slid into my sight and smiled. Whatever creepy Uncle Hiram needed could wait five more minutes. With a smile on my face, I hit the call button and breathed a sigh of relief when I heard background noise on the other line.

"Are you running up your dad's phone bill again, Allyson? We may miss you, but you need to stay out of trouble," my Uncle FP chuckled, referring to the time I called him from Mexico three times a week for a month and causing my dad to hit the ceiling when he opened the phone bill.

"No, Uncle," I chuckled and then frowned, "I made it to town. I'm supposed to be getting ready for my first real day of school tomorrow..." I trailed off, trying to hide my anxiety. I had been homeschooled since I was 8 years old, and junior year of high school is hardly the time to try to transition anybody back into "normal adolescence".

"Yeah. Your mom told me about that," he shook his head, "I don't know what she's thinking. I told her that North and Southside relations are not exactly peachy anymore- not to say shit was ever great...but it's really gone downhill these past few years. Sending any kind of Serpent- especially one that has ties to Mexico City of all places- into Riverdale High School is like soaking a rag in gasoline and launching into a bonfire."

He continued talking, and all I could think was, "Great. I'm being sent here to NOT draw attention to myself, and I'm being sent to a school where people will automatically hate me because of my family affiliation."

I caught the end of his sentence, "...But, at least Jug goes to Riverdale. You'll have him there to look after you."

I stifled a chuckle at the thought of that. Jughead Jones, AKA my favorite cousin, was a year younger than me- and while he tried to act like the protective one, it was usually me saving his ass. I decided not to mention the million times it was actually me pulling Jug out of trouble and not vice versa because I could tell that he wasn't exactly pleased either. I was about to change the subject to when I could come visit (and hopefully just end up staying) with him and Jug when my phone beeped. I checked the screen and frowned when I saw Hiram Lodge's name flash on the screen and I sighed.

"I have to call you back, Uncle," I frowned, "Hiram is calling me. Has something important to talk to me about, apparently."

Uncle FP didn't sound too pleased about my reason for ending the call, but he still said his goodbyes and that he'd be sure to get me to Southside at least a few times a week but he's positive I'd fit in better there, and not to worry before hanging up as I clicked over.

"Hello, Uncle H," I mumbled as a feeling of dread bubbled in my chest. Hiram Lodge wanting to talk "business" with me had me on high alert. I thought I was here to lay low and be a normal teen. But then, I should have known hospitality with the Park Avenue Lodges, as Jughead calls them, comes at a price. Hiram Lodge, much like my father, rarely keeps around people he can't put to some kind of use.

"Allyson Victoria Lodge," his tone was neutral, and I think he knew that the use of my full name brought the hairs on my neck to attention.

"I hope you've settled in ok, and that you and Veronica are enjoying catching up. She was so excited for you to move in," he started, and then got straight to the point, "You are in fact in my home as a way to shield you from federal agents, but there's something I need from you, dear."

There it was. With a knot in my throat, I choked out, "And what is that, Dearest Uncle H?" I didn't even try to keep the sarcasm out of my tone. I knew deep down this was coming, but to know my "safety" was simply a business transaction felt like a punch to my gut.

"Well. We know that due to your mother's," he paused and seemed to be searching for a non-offensive term, "lineage... yes, that will do. Due to her lineage, you have a unique position in town that we hope to use to our advantage. In coming weeks, Lodge Industries will begin an attempt to gentrify the SouthSide. We are hoping to unify the town, and it will be beneficial to you if you assist in that process."

"And how, pray tell, do you expect me to do that? I can't very well stroll into SouthSide, drop my mother and uncle's names and casually mention that with FP's blessings my dearest daddy started a Serpent faction in Mexico City. I'd get jumped at the very least for walking in and throwing weight around like an idiot, especially with a cushy northside penthouse as my address," I rolled my eyes so hard. Unlike people on the north side of town, SouthSiders, Serpents especially, weren't impressed by money or status. If anything, that made you a very big target.

"That aside," I pressed further, "I thought I was supposed to lay low. Your bright idea is the exact opposite."

"No, honey," he sucked in his teeth impatiently and changed his tone to one to be used with an obstinate child, "You are here to be safe from your father's operation. It would only be expected that regardless of your school or address, you'd seek out the Serpents. After all, no Serpent stands alone. I simply expect you to walk in there as FP's niece and seek some respite from the high school your father chose for you due to academic opportunities and the ability to be concealed from police. That," I could hear his smirk and the confidence in his knowledge, "That would win them. After all, what are snakes if not loyal to their own kind?"

His tone was biting, but he was right. I felt a nagging thought, and before I could stop it, it flew out of my mouth.

"Who told you so much about Serpent culture, anyway? You hit the nail on the head, but I doubt anyone on that side of town would discuss it with you."

"Who else, child?" he chuckled darkly, "Your own parents presented it to me. They knew you wouldn't be so willing, especially because of those pesky by-laws that can be interpreted so many ways. See, they benefit, too, Allyson. If this goes well, your father receives a massive cut of the profits that will likely earn a lofty amount for their defense and pardon."

"So this move for my protection," I was fighting the urge to cry, "It was really a business ploy to combine the Lodges and the Serpents?"

Uncle Hiram tsk-tsked, "You're not entirely wrong, Mija. We need you out of jail. With your shady connections and my Veronica's savvy, you two are the next generation of Lodge Industries. We do want to protect you. But you also have options we don't, and we need to exploit them. We can't buy the Serpents, so you're our in. Get some rest, Allyson. You have a long day tomorrow."

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