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   It hadn’t snowed yet, at least not really. Some had come down on Halloween and little bit of it had even stuck, but it had quickly melted. Few places would consider it much snow, but the town of Rhodes especially did not.

   Ruth was pretty sure real snow was now going to come soon, though. She was an avid follower of the weather. And between the websites she frequented and her own observations she had concluded the first real snow was soon.

   She was thinking about this at recess as she swung on a swing. She ignored the chaos of play around her and kept her eyes and thoughts on the grey sky. She was aroused from her thoughts by a loud “Pssst!” Ruth immediately looked for the source of the voice in the wrong direction.

   Swinging next to her was Maggie, who rolled her eyes as Ruth looked in the opposite direction. “Pssst!” she hissed again, but louder. This time Ruth looked at her. “Ruth, I need to talk to you.”

   “Oh,” said Ruth, “Why didn’t you just say that?”

   “Because that would have been obvious!” shouted Maggie. “Can we talk somewhere else? It’s hard to talk on the swings.”

   Ruth nodded and slowed to a strop by putting her feet down in the mulch. Maggie tried to do so as well, but being much shorter her feet were just dragged through the mulch as her momentum continued to carry her. “Do you want help?” asked Ruth.

   “No!” Ruth watched as Maggie again failed to stop herself. “...Yes.” Ruth grabbed the chains of the swing and brought it to a stop. Maggie hopped off and said, “Let’s go by the trees.”

   The two girls huddled beneath the almost bare trees. “Why did you need to talk to me?” asked Ruth.

   Maggie glanced around, making sure no one was watching. “I need your help.“ She looked up at Ruth with a grave expression on her face. “A terrible crime has been committed.”

   “You…want me to tell the police?”

   Maggie paused and thought for a moment. “Not that terrible. But someone stole my…” She glanced around again and then dropped her voice to a barely audible whisper. “Stole my diary.”

   “Someone stole your diary?” repeated Ruth at the same volume level.

   “Shh! Not so loud!” shouted Maggie.

   “I didn’t think anyone actually had one. I thought that was in books and movies and stuff.”

   “Well, I do.”

   “Why do you need my help?”

   “Because it was taken…by his sister!” Maggie dramatically pointed over to an intense game of wall ball.

   “Logan is an only child,” said Ruth.

   “No. Him!”

   “I thought Miles had a brother, not a sister.”

   “No! Him!”

   “Oh, Jorge!” Ruth shrugged. “So you want me to ask him to get it back for you?” She turned to go talk to him.

   Maggie grabbed her arm. “No! This is private girl stuff,” she explained. “I can’t trust it to a boy!”

   Ruth was skeptical. “Jorge wouldn’t look. Besides, he’s basically half girl anyway.” She pointed at Jorge who struck a ballet pose after making to the wall and being called safe. “See?”

   Maggie shook her head. “No. I can only trust you. Please?” Ruth looked at the girl in front of her. Without her usual confidence Maggie looked so small, except for her large, puppy dog eyes behind her oversized glasses.

   “Alright, what do you need me to do?” asked Ruth.

   Maggie’s face lit up, her confidence returning. “I found out that his sister is having a party on Friday. And I found out that Jorge is going to be having that Theo kid over at the same time. I need you to get him to invite both of us. Then we can find my diary.” Maggie looked pleased with her plan.

   “Okay, I’ll ask him. Just wait here.” Ruth wandered over to the game of wall ball. “Jorge!” she called. He turned towards her and was promptly hit in the face by the ball as it ricocheted off the wall. Ruth winced.

   “I’m okay!” cried Jorge. He ignored running over to the wall to be called safe and walked over to Ruth. “What is it?”

   Ruth shuffled awkwardly. “Well I heard you were hanging out with Theo Friday, and I was wondering if I could come too.”

   Jorge smiled and nodded. “I’ll have to ask my mom, but she’ll probably say yes.”

   Ruth held her right arm with her left hand for comfort. “Um...would it be okay if Maggie came too?”

   Jorge looked behind Ruth to see Maggie spying on them from the trees. “I’m not sure my mom would be okay with that. Besides, why do you want to bring her?”

   “Uh…” Ruth had promised Maggie to keep her reasons a secret. “She’s my friend, and I want to get her to join the Beacon Scouts. And tell your mom…” Ruth thought and then was struck with inspiration. “Tell you mom she is a Beacon Scout.”

   Jorge slowly nodded. “Yeah, that could work. Still weird though.”

   “Um...you do owe me a favor for helping you with the plant growing badge.”

   “Fair enough. All right, I’ll ask.”

   “Thanks!”

   At that point, the sound of a whistle cut through the air. “Line up!” called the teachers.

   Before doing so, Ruth ran over to Maggie. “It’s all set. Uh...if his mom and our parents say it’s okay, anyway.”

   “Awesome!” Maggie held up her hand for a high five and was taken by surprise when Ruth pulled her into a hug.

   “I’m a hugger!” exclaimed Ruth.

---------------------------

   The next day Jorge reported his mother was cool with having Ruth and Maggie over as well. Once all the parent stuff had been worked out, Maggie briefed Ruth on the rest of her plan. While Jorge’s older sister, Maria, was busy at the party, Maggie and Ruth would leave Jorge’s room. Then they would search Maria’s room in secret. Though Ruth hoped they would just find it lying it around in the living room or the like.

   Ruth’s prediction about snow coming turned out to be true. It snowed Thursday night. Ruth and Maggie worried the party would be called off, but luckily the plows cleared the streets and the schools didn’t even have a two hour delay.

   After school and the Beacon Scout meeting Ruth made a quick trip home. Then a little while later Ruth’s dad dropped her off at Jorge’s house. She happened to arrive at the same time as Maggie. Maggie lived only a street away and had walked over.

   “Hey Ruth,” she said. “You ready?”

   “Yeah. I wore my cargo pants. To carry what we need.” Ruth sounded proud of her idea.

   “Well yeah. You wear cargo pants like every other day.”

   “But I wore them especially for today,” she explained as she rang the doorbell of the small brick house.

   Jorge’s mother answered the door. “Hello! Come on in. He’s in his room with Theo.” Then she looked quizzically at Maggie. Ruth held her breath. “You were in Jorge’s third grade class. Right?” Ruth let herself breathe again as Maggie nodded.The girls hung their coats up on a coat rack. Then Jorge’s mom lead them to her son’s room. “I’ll be in my room at the end of the hall. And stay away from Maria’s party, please. You know how teenagers can be.”

   Inside the small bedroom Jorge and Theo were on bean bag chairs. “Hey girls,” said Jorge. “My mom let me move an old TV in here so we could play video games!” Sure enough, both he and Theo had controllers in their hands.

   “You want in?” Theo asked.

   “I’m good,” replied Ruth. Maggie nodded in agreement. “We’ll just watch.” Theo just shrugged as the girls sat on the bed.

   Soon, there was a lot of noise from outside. The party full of middle schoolers had started. Ruth, meanwhile, had gotten so into talking and joking with Theo and Jorge she nearly forgot about why they were there. But, after a while she announced, “Um...I have to go to the bathroom.”

   “It’s on the other side of the hall,” said Jorge.

   “And I need a drink,” said Maggie, heading for the door.

   “Be careful of-hey!” Jorge was interrupted by Theo taking advantage of him being distracted and had taken the lead in the game. “No fair!”

   The girls quietly left as Theo and Jorge argued. “Boys,” said Maggie, rolling her eyes. “Alright, now that we came up with excuses-”

   “Uh, actually,” Ruth interrupted, “I do have to use the bathroom.”

   “Ugh, fine! You do that. And I’ll scout ahead.”

   Ruth nodded and went to the bathroom door. Finding it mostly closed she gently knocked and then, after hearing nothing, opened it. To her surprise there were two middle schoolers there kissing. Ruth didn’t consider herself an expert on kissing by any means, having only really seen it in movies and the like and between her parents, but she was pretty sure you shouldn’t look like a fish doing it.

   “Uh… h-hi,” stammered Ruth.

   The girl portion of the couple looked over. “Oh hey. Don’t mind us.”

   “But I have to use the bathroom,” Ruth whined.

   The girl rolled her eyes. “Fine! Come on, Alex!” She dragged her boyfriend out of the bathroom. Ruth was glad to see them leave, and not just because she had to use the bathroom.

   Shortly, Ruth rejoined Maggie in the hall. “Alright, I peeked in, and I’m pretty sure this is her room,” explained Maggie. Both girls glanced down the hall. Seeing it empty, they quickly slipped into the dark room, closing the door behind them.

   Ruth went to turn the lights on, but Maggie stopped her. “We have to be stealthy,” she said. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small flashlight. She turned it on and shined it around the room. The room had two beds and other various bedroom objects. Obviously, Maria shared this room with her younger sister.

   The two girls went to work searching for the diary. Maggie had told Ruth that it was a plain blue book bound by a strip of black cloth. Ruth asked her companion, “How do we know which side of the room is hers?”

   “Look for clues.” Maggie opened the top drawer of a dresser and pulled something out. She shined the flashlight on the object and made a face as it revealed she was holding a pair of pink girls briefs decorated with cartoon owls. “See? These are way too babyish to be her panties, so this isn’t her.”

   “I actually have that exact pair,” said Ruth, thinking out loud.

   Maggie giggled. “Really?” Ruth turned away from the flashlight so Maggie couldn’t see how red her face had suddenly gotten.

   Having turned away, Ruth saw something on an end table. She walked over and picked up Maggie’s diary! “Maggie!” The other girl hurried over and snatched it out of Ruth’s hands.

   “This is it!” she cried as she looked through it. Then they heard someone walking towards the door.

   “Yeah, I’ll just get it from my room,” said a girl’s voice.

   “What do we do?” asked Maggie. She hadn’t thought of a real exit strategy.

   “Out the window!” said Ruth, quickly opening up the window and screen. “You first.”

   Maggie easily scrambled out the window, landing gently in the snow. She got up and dusted herself off as Ruth began to climb out. As she did however, the door opened. “What the-!” yelled Maria, “What are you doing in my room?!”

   The surprise caused Ruth to jerk forward and fall out of the window. Unfortunately for her, her cargo pants caught on the window and did not follow. She was left mostly out the window, but her feet and pants were still in the room. Without her pants at the proper place it was clear she did own the exact pair of underwear they had found. The little, smiling cartoon owls seemed to be mocking her. “Ouch! My dignity!”

   “Are you wearing my underwear?! Gross!” cried Maria.

   Maggie hesitated. If she ran now she wouldn’t be discovered. She could be free and clear with her diary. She looked at Ruth as the red faced girl struggled with her pants while Maria came forward. Then Maggie ran over and pulled Ruth and her pants down from the window. “RUN!”

   Ruth awkwardly got to her feet while pulling her pants up. Both had left their jackets, so they shivered as they ran. Ruth was especially cold as the snow had touched her bare legs before she had gotten her pants back to their correct position.

   They made their way to the front yard, and stopped to catch their breath. “That was awesome!” shouted Maggie between pants. “Thanks for your help!”

   “Y-you’re welcome,” replied Ruth. “But what do we do now?”

   Before she could answer, the front door of the house flew open. Inside the doorway were Jorge’s mom and Maria. “There they are!” cried Maria.

   “Girls, come here please,” ordered Jorge’s mom.

   The two girls shared a glance and then reluctantly walked over. “C-can we talk inside, p-please?” asked a shivering Ruth. Jorge’s mom nodded and everyone came back into the house.

---------------------------

Back in Jorge’s room, Jorge turned to Theo, a quizzical look on his face.

   “Ruth and Maggie have been gone a long time,” he noted.

   Theo shrugged. “I’m sure they're fine.”

   “Yeah, what trouble could they get into, anyway?”

---------------------------

   “We can talk in my room,” said Jorge’s mom. She marched the three girls down the hall into her bedroom. She then closed the door and faced them. “Why were you two in my daughter’s room?”

   Ruth was too worried to speak, but Maggie did so for her. “She stole my diary! We were just getting it back.”

   “Why not just ask for it?”

   “Because you don’t just ask a thief for your stuff back!”

   “I didn’t steal your stupid diary!” interrupted Maria. “I think I accidentally picked it up with my books at the library. I’ve been trying to find you since I got it. I would have given it back if you just asked!”

   Maggie was very surprised. “Oh. I saw you take it, so I thought…”

   “Why would I steal it?”

   “Why would you think Ruth stole your underwear then?”

   “Because I saw her wearing it!” When Jorge’s mother gave her a strange look, Maria added, with a slight smile, “Her pants fell down when she climbed out my window.” Ruth’s face was red from the cold, but had been returning to normal. Now it turned tomato read all over again. Maria continued, “But you can-”

   Now Ruth finally spoke. “No one is looking at my underpants!” She gripped the waist of her cargo pants tightly. “I own these underpants. They’re just what I happened to put on this morning!”

   Jorge’s mom sighed. “I don’t think Ruth stole your underwear.”

   “And I didn’t steal this girl’s diary,” reiterated Maria.

   “But I bet you read it!” accused Maggie.

   “A little before I realized what it was,” admitted Maria. “I don’t know why you’re so worried. It’s pretty boring other than talking about the crush you have on that girl, L-”

   “SHHH!” cried Maggie.

   “Alright, enough!” said Jorge’s mom. “Now, I want everyone to apologize to one another.” The girls did so, though without enthusiasm. “Maria, you should get back to your party.”

   “Yeah, there are some people making out,” noted Ruth, making a face. “It was lewd.”

   “What?!” cried Jorge’s mom. She quickly exited out the door, followed by a panicky looking Maria.

   “Sorry, I got you into this,” said Maggie quietly. “And that I called your panties babyish. ...I like them.”

   Ruth smiled. “It’s okay. And I like them too.”

   The two girls headed back into Jorge’s room.

   “Hey. What took you so long?” asked Jorge, careful not to take his eyes off the game this time.

   “Oh, dealing with middle schoolers,” said Maggie dismissively. Jorge just nodded.

   As they took their positions on the bed again, Ruth suddenly had an idea. She leaned over to Maggie and whispered, “Hey, you could make things up to me, by telling me who you like.” She giggled a bit as Maggie blushed. “You like girls?”

   Maggie nodded. “I guess it’s fair. But you have to swear on your life that you won’t tell anyone.”

   Ruth solemnly nodded and said, “I swear on my life.”

   Maggie leaned in very close and cupped her hands over Ruth’s ear. Then she whispered, “I like...I like Lola.”
   
   “Uh, but she’s older than us,” Ruth whispered back.

   “I didn’t say I wanted to date her or marry her or anything like that,” replied Maggie. “I just...like her is all.”

   Ruth’s face lit up as she was struck with an idea. “You should join the Beacon Scouts,” she suggested. “Lola is a member so you could see her.”

   Maggie thought it over. “I’ll ask my parents. It would be super cool to join.”

   “Yeah, you could hang out with me!” Ruth then giggled and added quietly, “Or your cruuusssh.” This caused Maggie to giggle with embarrassment.

   Theo and Jorge had not heard any of the conversation, but did hear the soft laughter. They looked back at the giggling girls, and then at each other. Theo rolled his eyes and whispered, “Girls.”

---------------------------

   At the next Beacon Scout meeting Ruth waited anxiously for Maggie. Finally, Maggie walked into the church basement where their meetings were held. She was wearing a yellow sweater, a brown skirt, black leggings, and a bucket hat. She mostly looked like a Beacon Scout. To Ruth’s delight she got to give her the sash, the last item needed to complete the ensemble.

   In addition to her outfit, Ruth noticed that Maggie also was appearing without her usual confidence, much like when she first asked Ruth for help. She looked so small (which she was) and very nervous, especially when she glanced at Lola.

   “Maggie!” called Ruth. Maggie hurried over. “I got your sash here,” said Ruth. She gently put it on Maggie. “And you already have your first badge. The Beacon Scout badge.”

   “Thanks, Ruth. I-umph!” Maggie was pulled into a bear hug by Ruth. “Right, you’re a hugger.”

   “Yep! Welcome to the Beacon Scouts!” said Ruth, not letting go. Finally though, she did. “Come on, I’ll take you to meet Felix and Zuri.”

   The Beacon Scouts had their tenth member.
Well, " A Beacon Scout and Another Child Commit a Heist", but Deviantart has title character limit. Anyway, a Beacon Scout teams up with someone to retrieve an important bit of property. Will they succeed? Maybe, but given who's involved, it will probably go wrong in some way.
-----------------------
Thanks to :iconfireblazedragon5: for editing, as usual.
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:icontheowlgoesmoo:
TheOwlGoesMoo Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
“Jorge wouldn’t look. Besides, he’s basically half girl anyway.” Oh that's just harsh, girls XD

Poor Ruth. Got to love her over-honest personality. Also, this is an important lesson on why belts are very, very important things.
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I don't think Jorge would be insulted.

Hey, they say honesty is the best policy. And you'd think she'd already know, but sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.
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:icontheowlgoesmoo:
TheOwlGoesMoo Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I mean they're not wrong, after all.

There's some debate on that XD Yeah, with how observant she is of her own friends/crushes, you'd think she'd put two and two together. I'm guessing the lesson might stick a little better now though. Whether that lesson is "wear a belt" or "don't climb out of windows", well, we'll wait and see.
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
After all, when you wear pink that much...

Not from Ruth!

Hopefully it's wear a belt, given how often she wears baggy cargo pants.
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:icontheowlgoesmoo:
TheOwlGoesMoo Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
But we must remember that pink is the manliest color! (Actually, if my history is right, didn't it used to be? Like blue was for girls and pink was for dudes?)

Experience hasn't quite made a mark yet, eh Ruth?

They're not famous for sticking around your waist, particularly if you're in the habit of stuffing them full of things.
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Yep! Blue was for the virgin Mary, and pink was close to red, which was considered masculine (and still is a little).

Hey, sometimes it pays off. ...Right?

T be fair, she's largely avoided the problem until now. It just happened at a very inconvenient time.
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:icontheowlgoesmoo:
TheOwlGoesMoo Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Really? Huh, I knew about the close to red thing, but I never knew about the Mary association. The more you know!

Given time, one would hope XD

On the plus side, it was a pretty small audience. On the not so plus side, it could hardly have been two worse choices at that moment XD
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Of course, that could be a pile of bullcrap,  but's what I've heard and it makes sense. Which actually increases the chances it's bull. XD

The girl chasing you and the girl you may or may not have a crush on. Tough luck for Ruth.
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:iconfireblazedragon5:
FireBlazeDragon5 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If by going wrong, you mean it all turns out okay...
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Ruth losing her pants was not part of the plan.
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:iconfireblazedragon5:
FireBlazeDragon5 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Losing your pants is never part of the plan. XD
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Well, it might be for some people, but not Ruth. Especially not when wearing silly underwear. Which for her is always.
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:iconfireblazedragon5:
FireBlazeDragon5 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
........ That's scary.
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
What is?
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:iconfireblazedragon5:
FireBlazeDragon5 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Losing your pants being part of the plan.
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:iconbadguy101:
Badguy101 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
What if losing your pants is because yous lip out of them to escape and you're wearing something underneath?
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