Shocking, isn't it? Two updates in one week! Anyway, here's the epilogue for you all, it actually managed to write its way out of me. :D Let me say a HUGE thank you to each and every single one of my reviewers: I've never gotten this many reviews for a story and I'm extremely flattered by all the attention. I know someone asked if I was a fan of HP (due to my pen name) and yes, I'm a huge fan of HP. Someone also asked how I get so many reviews? Honestly, I have no idea, I wish there was the perfect answer to why some people get more reviews than others. All I've got to say is write from your heart (corny, I know) and keep at it! Don't let negativity stop you; instead, use it as a way to improve. :) Hope that helps!
Final disclaimer… not sure if I said that last time, but oh well, I'm saying it again. I don't own JN! Nick owns JN! I'm just borrowing the characters, granted without permission, but it is for non-profit fun.
Now enjoy the epilogue!
Cross the Rubicon
Epilogue: A Line Finally Crossed
It took a little while for everyone to finally notice the bizarre change that had occurred between Jimmy and Cindy. No one could quite explain it, and it had started out so subtly that no one had even really given it much thought, until someone absently noted that the two weren't quite fighting the way they used to. Granted, they did argue, but they never had all-out screaming matches, which had been a weekly occurrence. Nor did they start bets over who would have the better project; in fact, they'd even willingly collaborated on a few of them, much to the bafflement and surprised pleasure of Miss Fowl.
No one really complained, as both of them seemed to be showing off a heck of a lot less, leaving other students in the class to finally be able to speak. No one would've known how good Nissa was at poetry, or that Butch had an artistic streak in him, or that Nick actually had a pretty nice singing voice. Time that had normally been reserved for Jimmy and Cindy's fights could finally be used constructively, and the class was generally flourishing because of it.
Their closest friends were the first ones to notice, of course, though even they weren't quite sure what had happened to cause the change. One day Cindy had been crazy, chasing after Jimmy like some kind of monster, and the next she was back to normal, with the two of them starting little disagreements like before. But there was no hostility behind the fights, like neither of them had really meant it, and Libby had been the first to finally call Cindy on it.
"So what's up with you and Neutron?" she'd asked one day a few weeks after the incident. They'd been walking to the Candy Bar, for their weekly treat of sundaes, when Libby had finally remembered the way the two had acted during the presentations of their history projects.
"You almost never waste an opportunity to out-do him." Libby had fixed Cindy with a suspicious glance at that, to which she'd received a confused, yet closed, expression. "He cured you, right? You're not just carefully hiding that insanity?"
"Libby, don't worry," Cindy had reassured. "I'm perfectly normal. I just… I don't feel like fighting with him anymore."
Libby had raised both her eyebrows at that and had stopped walking. "So you gonna tell me what happened to bring this on? How come the two of you are suddenly relatively nice to each other? And why you suddenly can't do as much with me after school, or why you're so happy to go to your T'ai Chi lessons?"
Maybe it was just her, but Cindy had seemed slightly uneasy for a moment.
Cindy had finally sighed. "Let's just say that things… well, that incident crossed a line of sorts, and I don't think things are ever going to go back to the way they were, Libs."
"What do you mean, a line has been crossed? What kind of line?" she'd asked suspiciously, eyeing her best friend as she shifted from foot to foot and stared down at the sidewalk. "Cindy, what is it that you're not telling me?"
"Spit it out! Or else I'm not buying your sundae!"
"Hey! That's low!" Cindy had glared up at her then, but Libby had merely given her a look. "All right, all right. After Ji-Neutron managed to cure me, we had a long talk." Libby had noted Cindy's slip and hasty cover up; since when were the two of them on a first name basis? "We basically agreed that we would work to become better friends, so we hang out every once in a while now."
"Who would've thought…" Libby had murmured before shaking her head absently. "Well, if it means no more crazy bets and work-me-to-death kinds of projects, I'm all for this change. I only wish it had happened sooner…"
Cindy had rolled her eyes. "Can we go get sundaes now?"
"Sure. But for not telling me all this sooner, you're buying."
"Hand me that screwdriver, would you?"
Cindy immediately set down the wrench she'd been using to tighten some of the bolts on the interior of Jimmy's rocket and began rummaging around in the tool bag beside her. After a moment she came up with two, one with the flat blade, and the other with the plus-sign design.
"Which one did you need?" she asked, leaning over the edge as Jimmy wiggled out from beneath the rocket and stood before brushing himself off.
"It doesn't matter, I'm using universal screws," he said as he plucked the flat blade from her outstretched hands. "This one will work better though, because they're rather large. How goes the installation?"
"I'm almost done," she said, wiping some sweat from her brow. "All I have to do is tighten a few more nuts and the new plating on your rocket will be perfect." He gave her a grin at that before ducking down out of sight. "What about your task? Almost done?"
"Almost." His reply was muffled as he'd positioned himself underneath the rocket once more. "I'll tighten these screws as much as I can by hand, and once we're done with the body overhaul, we can start on the engine."
"Who knew that rockets could be so much like cars," Cindy mused before settling back down, wrench in hand.
"Well, of course," Jimmy responded as the clicking of tools filled the air. "Normally I could let this sit for a few more light-years, but I wanted to try out some modifications on the engine, and that requires a stronger body to handle the stress."
"Are those modifications the ones you got from April? The ones for a hyperdrive, or whatever?" she asked, tightening the last nut and leaning back with a sense of accomplishment. She heard him grunt a negative as she set the wrench down and vaulted over the side of the rocket, landing gracefully on the ground.
"I don't have the capabilities to build something like that," he said as he wiggled out from beneath the rocket again. "Half the metals she specified don't exist on our planet and a lot of the design specifications are meant for a space cruiser the size of a mansion. I couldn't simply scale it down, either, as it would ruin the integrity of the design as a whole, and I'd run the risk of a massive catastrophic failure."
"Failure as it blowing up-the-Earth-failure, right?" she asked as she helped him stand.
"Bingo," he said as he wiped sweat from his brow. "I'll have Goddard double check the work we've done while we take a break. And once that's done, and we're sure the body is to the specifications, we'll start working on the engine."
"Sounds like a plan," she said as they made their way to the main area of the lab, stretching cramped muscles as they did so. "I can't believe you used to attempt stuff like this on your own, Neutron."
"Well, I'd have Goddard helping," he responded as he plopped down in his chair and she began rummaging around in the fridge he'd installed for a couple of purple flurps. "Granted, things do go faster now," he added when she tossed him one. He caught it neatly, and she grinned at him.
"Your reflexes are getting better," she said as she opened her own can and sipped it while hunting atop the fridge for some straws. "And here you asked me if T'ai Chi really was doing any good for you…"
He groaned in response and accepted the straw from her outstretched hand. "Don't remind me. I think I still have bruises on my backside…"
"You'll get used to it," she said, smiling. "If it makes you feel any better, you're improving a heck of a lot faster than a lot of the students who've been there for a few months."
"But I still get my butt kicked whenever we have sparring…"
"You are the one who elected to take regular Kung Fu classes on top of the T'ai Chi," she pointed out and he glared off into space sullenly. "By the way, how are those? I've been thinking of taking some, just out of curiosity."
"Faster paced, definitely," he said, finishing off his soda, and tossing the can into the recycle. "I think you might enjoy them more, actually."
"I'll give it some more thought," she said as he stood. "Ready to get back to work?"
"Whenever you are."
They were knee-deep in the engine overhaul when the inevitable happened; Carl and Sheen appeared out of nowhere to receive one of the biggest shocks of their young lives. Cindy was actually surprised that it hadn't happened sooner, as Libby had figured out something was up weeks earlier, and she'd half-assumed that Sheen and Carl wouldn't be far behind in figuring out that something had changed between her and Jimmy.
I guess he's not as close to them as I am to Libby, she thought absently as she dragged her forearm across her forehead. Her hands were covered in engine grease, and she had a feeling that some of it was smudged on her cheek, but without a mirror she had no way to be sure.
"So explain again why Cindy is here?" Sheen asked for the tenth time. The four of them were still situated around the rocket engine and Jimmy was trying in vain to explain things. Cindy supposed she could've stepped in and helped him, but part of her was holding her back, waiting to see just want Jimmy's response would be.
And if it was stupid, she wasn't going to speak to him again. Well, first she'd kill him. Then she wouldn't speak to him.
"Cindy and I decided to try and become better friends," he said at last, which made both Carl and Sheen blink, as though the sentence just didn't compute. "She's been helping me with stuff around the lab for the past month."
"Jimmy, a private word, if you please," Sheen said, throwing an arm around the shorter boy and tugging him out of supposed earshot of Cindy. Carl followed, throwing worried glances over his shoulder at her every once in a while.
"You do realize that she's a girl, right?" Sheen hissed, and Cindy couldn't help but bristle.
"Of course I do," Jimmy shot back, not bothering to keep his voice down.
"Then have you taken complete leave of your senses?" Sheen hissed again, though this time his tone was definitely louder. "You're letting a girl into the lab! And she's helping you with your experiments! What if she's secretly sabotaging everything you do? Ever thought of that?"
"Sheen, quit being hysterical. There's nothing to worry about!" Jimmy snapped, stepping away from the two of them.
Sheen looked him up and down at that before glancing at Carl. "He's obviously under some kind of hypnosis. The Jimmy I know wouldn't ever let a girl within ten feet of his lab."
"So what do you suggest we do?" Carl asked, eyeing both Jimmy and Cindy anxiously.
"The only thing we can do," Sheen said gravely. "You distract her while I grab Jimmy and we'll make a break for it!" Cindy blinked at that, but before she could say anything, Carl had leapt in front of her and begun to wave his hands around while making strange noises.
"Sheen, put me down!"
"Not until we get you out of the control of the bewitcher!" Cindy heard him say. "Goddard! Goddard, we've got to get Jimmy out of here!"
"Carl, would you mind moving now?" Cindy asked after a few moments of the red-head's silly attempt at a diversion. He paused at her words, blinked a few times, and lowered his arms.
"I wasn't… distracting?" he asked, and she gave him her best glare, one that made him whimper and scurry out of the way as fast as possible.
"Sheen, run for your life! I failed!"
The boy in question turned slightly at Carl's high-pitched warning, only to find Cindy's glare now focused on him. He froze, though a muscle below his eye twitched, and she took a few steps toward him.
"It seems I've been left with no choice…" And with that, he dropped Jimmy and began cowering at her feet, uttering desperate pleas for his life.
"Please, oh please don't kill me! I haven't seen all of Ultralord, the long lost episode! I can't die until I've seen it all the way through at least twice!"
A sigh from Jimmy made her glance up and she found he was picking himself off the floor, albeit with Goddard's help. He gave her a look, one that made her grin slightly, and he then made his way over to the once again hysterical boy.
"Would you calm down, Sheen? Cindy isn't going to kill you," Jimmy said, rolling his eyes as Sheen started and stared up at him. "And if you would quit jumping to conclusions, I can explain."
"So you mean you haven't been bewitched?" Carl asked hesitantly, taking a few tentative steps towards Jimmy.
"No, I haven't. It's like I told you before," Jimmy said as he helped Sheen up. "You know how you and Libby will occasionally watch Ultralord together, or go out to the Candy Bar?" Cindy couldn't help but raise a few eyebrows at that. Libby had been doing… what? And without telling her?
Sheen looked thoughtful for a few moments before a light bulb seemed to go on inside his head. "Oh, I see. I'm sorry, Jimmy."
"No problem, Sheen," he responded easily. "Now if you don't mind, I… I mean, we have an engine to fix." He smiled at Cindy as he spoke and she felt part of her warm curiously.
I'd say he passed that hurdle with flying colors…
"So you up to a test flight this afternoon?"
It was late Saturday morning when Jimmy's question made her blink a little. They were currently walking home from the Kung Fu class he'd convinced her to join, and they'd been discussing the upcoming science fair, along with the possibility of designing something together for once, when his sudden change in the subject had made her blink a little.
"You think it's ready?" Cindy asked and he nodded a little when they turned the corner to their block.
"In fact, I think it's more than ready," he said before taking a rather large sip from his water bottle. "We could've tested it last week, but I wanted to double check some of the calculations."
"You mean the ones I had doubts about?" she asked curiously, and he gave her a somewhat apologetic smile.
"Yeah," he said with a little sigh. "I know I was being kind of stubborn when you brought up those questions…"
"Jimmy, you were being down right obstinate," she drawled, making him huff slightly. "But go on, I'd like to know what you found."
"Well, the calculations were within the accepted error percentage, but you were right," he said, his slight glare forestalling any attempts at gloating. Not like she was going to rub it in is face though… she really was trying to work beyond that.
"We both were right," she said, compromising. "I was right about the mistake in the calculations, but you were right in the fact that they wouldn't cause any problems."
"Yet, anyway," he said as they reached her driveway. "After the test run we can adjust for some of the stresses that the mistake will cause on the body frame."
She gave him a smile. "Sounds like a plan. What time were you thinking?"
"I'm going to go take a shower and then I'll be in my lab, setting everything up," he said, glancing at his watch. "How about you come over as soon as you're ready?"
"All right," she said, nodding in agreement. "It shouldn't take me any longer than half an hour or so. Does that sound okay?"
"Sounds fine," he said and turned to go.
Cindy shifted a moment from foot to foot before voicing the thought that had been trying to work its way out of her for weeks.
"I'm glad that things are going well between us," she said at last and felt her heart rate speed up slightly when a grin stole across his features slowly.
"And why wouldn't they be?" he said, turning to face her, his eyes dancing happily. "I'd say we work awfully well together, though you would've never guessed it, since we were too busy hating each other's guts."
"You… really think so?" she asked in a slightly hushed voice, part of her deeply touched by his comment. His grin faded slightly at her expression, but he nodded, and she threw her arms around his neck in a warm hug.
"Cindy?" he asked after a moment, and she loosened her grip enough to look him in the eye. "Not that I'm complaining or anything, but what brought this on?"
"I'm just happy," she said, smiling, and his grin returned quickly.
"That makes two of us," he said warmly, his grip on her tightening briefly. Then, before she could react, he kissed the tip of her nose and spun away quickly, though not before she'd seen his blush.
"I'll see you later, all right?"
And then he was gone, hurrying across the street and leaving Cindy to grin goofily in her driveway, touching her nose gingerly. He could be just so very cute sometimes, and he didn't even realize it…
love you, Jimmy Neutron... and may that never change.
(pottergal is now doing an insane-o happy dance) I know, I know, kind of dorky, right? I was going more for "cute" than anything, and I hope I succeeded. Hope you all enjoyed that last little bit of fluff, and I'm sad to say but this is it for ma story. Please leave a review letting me know what you think and I'll love you forever!