Lucky Number Seven
"Good morning, and welcome to Cappuccino Chatter," said a sugary sweet blonde from her overstuffed armchair. Her face split into a wide grin for the trio of cameras angled at her face, and bore the plastic sheen of one face lift too many in the fight against the ravages of natural aging. "I'm Sunni Sheridan, and with me this morning is our first guest, a globetrotting adventurer who has literally saved the world dozens of times, all before her eighteenth birthday. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Kimberly Possible."
The redheaded hero in question sat opposite her host on an identical chair, placed on-set and on-camera before an audience of millions. She glowed beneath the hot studio lights, wearing her mission togs and a smile as genuine as Sunni's was Hollywood. A bay window behind the two women offered them and their audience (studio or television) a street level view of New York City. Or it would have, if row upon row of New Yorkers hadn't gathered outside the window with tag board signs and cheers of admiration for the sensational teen wonder.
She thanked the pink-suited woman and said, "Please, just Kim." The audience's crazed roar drew her smile tight as she answered them with a nod. Once the throng quieted again, she added, "And it's a real honor to be here. I'm a big fan."
The line, fed to Kim by the show's producer, made the smile on Sunni's face spread even farther. Kim couldn't help but wonder how much strain the host's surgically elevated cheekbones could bear before they would split and explode on live television. At least then, she wouldn't be bored anymore.
"Well, I'm afraid the reverse is true, young lady," Sunni said, piercing Kim's veil of tedium. "You're out there, mixing it up, taking it to the edge, pushing the envelope…" She threw a few playful jabs in the air, stirring a chuckle from the crowd. "You're an inspiration to women everywhere, Kim."
"No big," Kim said.
"Very big," countered Sunni, leaning forward. "You just saved the world from an army of killer taco robots. You might even say, 'Muy Grande,' eh?"
Kim waited out the courtesy chuckle coming from Sunni's audience, and pointedly did not share in it. After, she said, "I'm just an ordinary girl trying to help out, Sunni. I do my best, and I do what I can."
"How do you like that, folks? She's all that, and humble, too." Sunni stood up, and waved for the crowd to join her. "Let's show her some love, people!"
The entire studio rose to their feet in standing ovation, pounding hands together and tossing whistled as the red-faced, redheaded hero…all but one. That one person lurked around a snack table off-set with a bitter look of disbelief on his face. A speckled bun capped in white sat atop his palm.
"Show her some love," he said with a sneer. "You call this love? I call it yesterday's stale bagels." He sniffed at the white goop sitting on the bagel's sliced crown. "And this is schmear? This is spackle." He looked down at his pink rodent companion, who rooted through the generous fruit platter set out for Kim Possible's landmark interview. "This is spackle masquerading as schmear," Ron Stoppable told his little buddy.
Rufus poked his head out of a gutted pineapple and moaned through h cheeks stuffed to the rim with free food. "Mwoah-ho-ho, nachos?"
He shook his head. "No," he groused, "There's no nacho platter, no sidekick dressing room, or any of the other things I asked for." Ron folded his arms and leaned against the table, unwittingly sitting on the edge of a carrot cake. "Same old story," he said. "Save the world a dozen times, and you still don't get any decent grub."
"You didn't save the world," a gruff voice told Ron from the other end of the refreshments table. Looking over, Ron caught sight of a greasy T-shirt wrapped around flabby muscle picking at the food on the table. The T-shirt sported a head with a face that looked well-versed in expressing irritation. A practiced look of just that shot Ron's way just then, parting briefly to inhale a muffin. "Kim Possible saved the world," the man mumbled, spraying chunks of muffin at Ron as he did.
Ron exchanged glances with Rufus. "Are you serious?" asked Ron. "You've heard of Team Possible, right? Saved the world from the giant Li'l Diablos? Any of this a'ringin' a bell?" With a small flourish, Ron posed and announced, "Well, I'm the other half of the team." Rufus leapt up onto Ron's shoulder and tooted a 'Ta-da!'
The greasy man rubbed at his day-old stubble as he examined this boastful boy. "You do dress like her," he admitted, eyeballing Ron's mission clothes. "You some kinda groupie, 'r something? Part of a fan club?"
"Aw, c'mon!" Ron dropped his arms, deflating in spirit as well as in stature. "Ron. Ron Stoppable." The blank look on the large man's face persisted. "Sidekick extraordinaire, with a PhD in Distraction.
"Nope." He shook his head. "Never heard of…wait." A hard examination sent the man's eyes scouring across the scowling lines of Ron's face, and culminated in a snap of the his meaty fingers. "Ain't you the guy Kim Possible always saves? You're the guy who keeps losing his pants, ain't ya?"
A belabored groan tumbled from Ron's mouth as he dropped back against the table. Rufus echoed his groan and tilted into a pratfall off of Ron's shoulders, landing atop a lime gelatin with a bounce.
"Typical," said Ron. "You save the day again and again, and nobody knows your name. Lose your pants one or two…dozen times," he added in a cough, then continued, "And people never let you forget about it." He poured himself a plastic cup of punch to quell the indignation raging in his belly.
The greasy man wiped his hand on his jeans and then offered it to Ron. "If you run with the Possible kid, you're okay in my book. Name's Cooper. I'm a grip for the studio."
Ron took Cooper's hand after some hesitation. True to his profession's moniker, Cooper had quite the impressive handshake. "A grip, huh? It's gotta beat being the guy who has to move stuff on the set between shows." With a laugh, Ron said, "That's gotta be—"
"That's what a grip does."
"—one of the most noble professions of them all." Ron finished without missing a beat. The ironclad grasp around his fingers remained. "Heh. There now. That wasn't awkward in the least."
Cooper relinquished Ron's hand with a forgiving smile. "Very smooth, kid." He snatched the bagel from Ron's palm and took a bite, chewing the stale bread noisily and turning back to the friendly banter bouncing between the two televised women. Kim's irresistible smile, however uncomfortable, drew his eyes in and held them captivated. "So why ain't you up there, 'f you and Possible are so buddy-buddy?"
Ron glanced at the interview and repressed a tiny pang of envy. "Eh," he said with a shrug. "Fame and glory's not really my bag. Besides, the producer said I was too bourgeoisie for television." The memory of the producer's offhand comment, and Kim's resultant anger, resurfaced in his mind. It had taken a full minute for Ron to calm Kim down, and five more to convince her to do the interview without him. With a quizzical frown, Ron said, "I think that means 'handsome' in Norwegian."
The two of them lapsed into silence, entranced by Kim's voice as she regaled Sunni Sheridan and her audience with the tale of Drakken's diabolical Diablo drones, and her dynamic defeat of the dastardly despot. Throughout the story, she cast warm glances off-camera to a freckled face, which nodded approvingly at key junctures in the tale. A collective chuckle rolled through the audience when Kim reached the part about rescuing her father from the clutches of Drakken's mutated squid. Even downplayed by Kim's diplomacy and omissions, Ron's performance did not inspire awe. It did, however, inspire a rather biting comment from Sunni, one that dropped Kim's polite smile like the portcullis of a castle.
"No, Sunni," said Kim betwixt clenched teeth, "I wouldn't call Ron's fight with the squid a 'calamarity.'" She turned to the crowd with a scornful tone that made the show's producer scowl, and cast her fearsome gaze across an audience that still laughed behind its hands. "Just in case none of you have ever tried it, fighting any kind of giant sea creature is no walk in the park."
"So you've fought more than just squids, then," Sunni supplied.
Hesitant to relinquish her ire, Kim answered, "Well, sure. Sharks, eels, manta rays, piranhas…one time, even a dolphin."
"It's true," Ron muttered sidelong to Cooper. "He was one uppity aquatic mammal." Rufus nodded and chattered in agreement.
"I see," Sunni said, oblivious to Ron's recollections. "But Ron, he helped you in those fights. He helps you in all your battles?" A smug look molded her plastic face, and returned the confidence to her producer's off-camera face.
Kim looked away and rubbed the back of her neck. Her gaze flicked toward Ron, but ricocheted away at the last moment, unable to look at him for fear of cracking her forceful façade. "Well," she said, shifting with discomfort, "Ron helps out in a lot of different ways. I could never save the world without him."
"Of course he does," cooed Sunni. She leaned toward the cameras and the audience beyond. "But I think we all know what really fuels the Team Possible machine." Pumping her fist, she shouted, "A whole lotta girl power, am I right?"
Cheers and applause thundered through the studio, drowning out Kim's weak protests. Even if he was the butt of the joke, Ron still felt badly for Kim; 'She can disarm a nuke blindfolded in the middle of a firefight,' mused Ron as he sipped his punch, 'But the girl still can't deal with the media to save her life.'
As the frenzy died down, Cooper looked over at the sidelines sidekick in question. The blasé serenity painted across his freckles stirred within Cooper his oft-ignored curiosity. It wormed its way into his mind and refused to leave in the wake of Ron's public humiliation. "Hey, kid, lemmie ax you something."
Ron shrugged. "Nah, that's okay. I'm not that mad at Sunni."
"No, not that." Cooper looked him up and down, from his wobbly ankles to his noodle arms, to his fallow skin and the uncontrollable clump of straw nesting atop his head. Juxtaposed with the living dynamo on the stage, one could hardly believe him capable of withstanding a strong breeze, much less globetrotting and adventuring. "Why'd you get into this kinda thing? No offense," he said with a laugh, "But you don't exactly seem like the hero type."
Ron sniggered into his punch. He exchanged pointed glances with Rufus, who joined him in a guilty little chuckle amidst Cooper's confusion. "You're not wrong," admitted Ron. He set his punch aside and traded it for a naked mole rat, which he placed atop his shoulder once again. "We've been at it for so long, sometimes I forget why we do this stuff."
His pink passenger snorted, folding his claws together. "Nu-uh," he said chidingly.
"Yeah, you're right," said Ron. He poked Rufus in the belly, transforming the rat's whiskered frown into chittering giggles. "It just seemed like the thing to say." Cooper's quizzical gaze became expectant, drawing Ron's eyebrow up. He shot a sidelong glance at Kim, then back over to his own interview. "Really? It's kind of a long story, and it's not really interesting unless…" He frowned. "Well, unless you're me, really."
With a glance back at the show in progress, Cooper shrugged. "Set won't need to be changed for a while. And Sunni's gonna keep your boss there gabbing for a good long while. So why not?"
Ron looked uncertain for a moment, but the genuine intrigue written in Cooper's expression loosened Ron's lips into a grin. "Gather 'round, my teamster pal," he said, throwing an arm over Cooper's shoulders, "And I'll regale you with a tale of heroics and heart."
"Don't touch me."
Sorry. Now, our story begins late in the dark, long-ago decade of the Nineties. The grunge rock craze had once again been contained in Seattle, where it belonged. People were giving in to unfounded panic at the coming of the new millennium and its three terrible zeroes, all the while unaware of the threat carbs represented to the American way of life. And a young, strapping boy filled with promise and cheap Mexican food had just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, thus becoming a man of action.
The sleepy, suburban streets of Middleton basked in a seasonable and sunny serenity. Breezes brushed past budding blossoms, infusing the wind with a sweet scent that tickled many a nose and turned hay fevers everywhere into rampaging beasts. But such was not the concern of the moment, as the case would normally be in Middleton. Instead, its habitual boredom gave way beneath the onslaught of police sirens as a caravan of squad cars barreled through the road. A smaller, slower vehicle trailed in their wake, unnoticed; a bike, trembling beneath a double-payload of two teens traveling at unsafe velocities that still could not match their guides'.
Kim and I had been goofing off at the park. Y'know, normal kid stuff. But when we saw a small fleet of police charging to the rescue, I knew we had to check it out. Even then, the whole hero thing was in my blood. Like destiny. And no man, not even Ron Stoppable, can defy his own destiny.
"Kim!" Ronnie Stoppable squeezed his eyes shut and buried his nose into the back of Kimmie Possible's shoulder as she leapt her bicycle over the lip of a hill overlooking Middleton's downtown district. If his eyes had been open, he could have seen the trail of patrol cars screaming down the road below them. Instead, the only thing he saw whenever a nasty bump jarred his eyes back open was the golden summer tan lurking outside the straps of Kimmie's lime tank top. "Are you trying to kill us?"
"Chill out," Kimmie called back, rolling her eyes up toward her helmet. They soared down the steep hill and breakneck speeds that fluttered her ponytail past Ronnie's trembling head. "We're fine."
A shrill scream disagreed with Kimmie from the back of Ronnie's throat as she leapt their ride over a curb and onto the sidewalk. "There are better ways to kill us," he wailed. "Faster ways. Easier ways. Ways that don't involve me losing my skin to eighty yards of—Waugh!" His whining descended back into pitiful yelps as Kimmie began zigzagging between pedestrians, nearly jerking him out of his seat.
"We did what you wanted," shot Kimmie. "Now we're gonna do what I want." A motorcade of flashing lights pooled ahead of them outside of the Middleton City Bank. The red and blue strobes drew Kimmie in like an exuberant moth to the flame. "And I want to see what all the commotion is about."
"But what I wanted to do was fun."
Kimmie began pumping the bike's brakes in staccato bursts. "I watched you chase ducks around a pond," she said, and added as a rueful afterthought, "For an hour."
"Yeah," countered Ronnie, easing his grip as they slowed to safer speeds. "But ducks can't hurt you…much." His hand found its way to his backside, gingerly testing the patch of skin still sore beneath his jeans. "Who knew denim is no match for duck bills, huh?"
She didn't answer, and instead swung the bike around before they hit the patrol cars perimetered around the bank's marble steps. Policemen streamed into the building between its towering ivory pillars, weapons drawn and ready for whatever trouble that had beckoned them to the scene. Kimmie's chest swelled with excitement at their precision, their discipline, their caution and simultaneous fearlessness in the face of unknown danger.
A familiar face emerged from a nearby patrol car, bidding Kimmie to stop and dismount her bike with a hop. Poor Ronnie wasn't prepared, and wound up on his bottom with a whuff as he cleared the bike's seat. Kimmie paid him no mind, and strode forward with a cute, calculated smile on her face. "Sergeant Preston," she called out. "Sergeant Preston!"
The round face seated atop a rotund body lit up at the sight of the teens. "Well, as I live and breathe," he began, before a wall of solid muscle appeared from nowhere to block Kimmie from his sight.
She bounced off of uniformed abs, shook her head clear, and gazed up at a shaven, square-jawed glare that could melt dry ice. "Unauthorized minor," the beefy cop rumbled down, "I cannot have you violating the perimeter of a crime scene. Please return to your home, or be prepared to face Obstruction of Justice charges."
Kimmie's smile bottomed out as the behemoth leaned in and placed a meaty hand on his nightstick. The cop's mood darkened further when Ronnie wandered up behind Kimmie, brushing his butt clean. "Next time, warn me before you Evil Knievel your way through—" He bumped into Kimmie, and followed her gaze up the three stories to the stern look of disapproval looming over them. "Whoa. Who's your new skyscraper friend?"
The huge cop's grimace zeroed in on Ronnie in an instant. "Son, do you know what pepper spray is?"
Ronnie swallowed. "Right now, I'm hoping it's like 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter' spray, sir."
"Barkin, stand down!" Preston marched up and shoved the large cop aside. "I know these kids. They're hardly a threat."
"I don't know," the man called Barkin said. He eyeballed Ronnie with a snort. "This one rubs me the wrong way." Getting right up in Ronnie's face, he rasped, "He's trouble."
The blond squinted at Barkin, emboldened by the save by Preston. "You're like a borderline case that hopped the border," he decided. Then he sniffed at Barkin's lingering threats. "But your breath is minty fresh. Kudos." A growl from Barkin chased Ronnie into hiding behind Kimmie, where he whimpered in renewed cowardice.
Preston rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Barkin, by all reports, the suspect is long gone. Go secure the bank lobby, and leave these kids alone." He gathered the tens by his side and kept a stern look on the rookie until Barkin had grumbled his way past the yellow tape line. "Sorry about that," apologized Preston. "Barkin's new to the force…and ex-military." With one last sigh, he banished his own woes from his face, replacing it with a bright smile to offer to the teens. "So, how is Middleton's finest vigilante duo doing today?"
"Hi, Sergeant," said Kimmie, adding a girlish giggle that made Preston melt. Just as soon as she knew she had him, her smile faded to make way for what Ronnie had dubbed her 'Mission Mode.' "What's the situation here?"
The seasoned sergeant gave Kimie and her reluctant entourage a wry look. "Well, normally," he said, and hefted his equipment belt up in a self-important gesture, "Normally, we let middle schoolers find out about robberies on the evening news. But seeing as how you single-handedly stopped the last bank robbery…"
Kimmie's smile returned long enough to dole out some modesty. "No big," she assured him. "Mom was there cashing a check, and…well, you know the rest." She blinked luminously, and cocked her head at an adorable angle.
Nobody's fool, Preston knew he was being manipulated by Kimmie's dewy eyes. He also knew when he was out-maneuvered and out-gunned. His defeated smile helped usher the teens toward the crime scene. With no foreseeable danger, he could afford to bend the rules for a couple of good apples. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to give the future of law enforcement a little peek." Now he leaned in, giving them a hard eye. "But stay close, and don't touch anything."
"Yes sir," Ronnie harmonized with Kimmie, and then grumbled under his breath, "You eat one piece of evidence, and you never hear the end of it."
Together, they entered the bank. Kimmie did her best to curb her excitement and act serious in the hive of activity, but she couldn't keep all the wonder out of her beaming face. Ronnie did his best to curb his obvious boredom. Keeping his mouth shut became easier once he caught sight of Officer Barkin's evil eye from the corner of the room.
Middleton City Bank's sprawling lobby was a shadow of its former self. Its polished floors sported a fresh carpet of scattered shattered glass from the skylight, which even an amateur like Kimmie could tell had been the point of entry. The lacquered oak partition separating the lobby from the service area behind the counter lay in splinters. But most impossible of all, and what dropped Kimmie's and Ronnie's jaws, was the gaping hole in the wall where the bank's walk-in vault had been.
"Darndest thing," grunted Preston. He lifted the bill of his cap to scratch his brow as they gaped at the gutted gap. "Witnesses say some costumed nut busted in through the ceiling and used some kind of ray gun to rip the bank vault right out of the wall. Then he flew back out without as much as a how-do-you-do."
A great furrow of torn tile rested in the polished tile floor. It stretched from the vault's former resting place, through the wreck of a partition, all the way over to beneath the skylight. Kimmie leaned on her tiptoes, trying to get a better view of the vault's void, while Ronnie whistled appreciatively. "Costumes?" the teen asked. "Comic books are coming to life now?"
"Don't know, m'lad," said Preston. "But I do know trouble when I see it. And I have never seen any kind of trouble like this before." They stared at the open space, wondering how anyone could lift untold tons of steel through a wall and into the air, only to disappear without a trace. "I'll tell you kids one thing," Preston said. "I can't imagine anyone tough enough to take on somebody who can lift a bank vault like that."
Ronnie Stoppable's stomach plummeted as he watched his best friend's face transform into absolute, adolescent seriousness at the utterance of Preston's ominous words.
With the mission to end all missions dropped into her thirteen-year-old lap, I knew there would be no stopping Kim. It didn't matter that she knew nothing about the case, the suspect, and she refused to acknowledge the fact that this guy could lift large portions of a metropolitan bank, whereas she could not. Still, if Kim was set on a goal, I would be right there to help her.
"Who's a little mole rat? Who's a chunky, cheesy little mole rat?" cooed Ronnie as he tickled Rufus' tiny pot belly. The two of them giggled together, sprawled out across Kim's bedspread. The weighty legacy of Missus Doctor Possible's ravioli casserole sat in their stomachs, encouraging them to lay spread-eagle and bask in its consumed glory.
Seated at her desk, Kimmie shot the duo an irritated glare. "Will you two keep it down," she snapped. "I'm trying to concentrate." She swiveled back to her computer and began the dialup process. Hideous screeches clawed at her ears and her patience, signaling her modem's activation. "And keep him off of m bed, Ron," she added, giving a muttered, 'gross,' under her breath for good measure.
Ronnie scooped up his mournfully moaning mole rat and deposited him into his shirt pocket, where Rufus could at least see the action. "You just don't like Rufus because he's bald," shot Ronnie. To this, Rufus added a 'yeah!' "Y'know, my dad is bald. I might be too, someday. S'that mean you're gonna not like me?" He placed his hands on his hips, a gesture which Rufus mirrored from Ronnie's shirt front.
"I have bigger things to worry about than the emotional needs of your freaky new pet, Ron," said Kimmie. Her fingers hunted and pecked their way into an online search engine. "In case you don't remember, we have a mission."
"What, the bank thing?" Incredulity flooded Ronnie's tone. "Don't you think that sort of thing should be left to trained professionals, and not untrained…un-professionals?"
Kimmie whirled about in her chair. Defiant indignation burned bold and green in her eyes. "Meaning what?" she demanded.
He shrank at her challenging tone. "Meaning, uh…Well, look," he said. "I know we helped out with the other bank robbery…and those muggers…" Ronnie began ticking his fingers off: "The fire at Mister Milton's shop, the kid lost in the park, the runaway Ferris wheel and that rich dude's odd and slightly disturbing collection of plush." Glancing at his fingers, he couldn't help but pause in reflection of her accomplishments. But the moment was brief. "But this 'mission' fad is getting kind of passé, don't you think?" Excitement drew his eyes wide open and rounded his lips for an, "Ooh, ooh! I know; let's bring the giga pet craze back! What do you say?"
An arched eyebrow bore upon him in silent reply until he dropped his arms and silenced his misplaced enthusiasm. "Helping people isn't a fad, Ron," Kimmie said. She turned back to her computer and continued the painstaking process of typing in parameters for a web search. "That money belongs to a lot of people who need it."
"But what can we do?" asked Ronnie.
"I don't know," Kimmie admitted. "Something. Anything." With a pointed look back, she told him, "But not nothing. As long as you try, you can do anything."
"And that's where I come in."
Both Kimmie and Ronnie froze in mid-argument, and turned toward the voice addressing them. The windowed face of her computer idled back. "KP," whispered Ronnie, "Did your computer just talk?"
"I…I think so," Kim whispered back.
"Maybe it's that Y2K thing," Ronnie mused.
He leapt back with a shriek when the computer answered back, "Not exactly, Mister Stoppable. I'm using Miss Possible's computer to contact you both. I've hacked in through its connection, and now I'm just using its speakers and microphone to talk to you. Pretty sweet, huh?" the voice added smugly.
Kimmie's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Who are you?" she demanded of their faceless, absent intruder.
"Turn your web cam on," instructed the voice. Kimmie reached up and reluctantly complied, against the muttered and fearful wishes of Ronnie and Rufus, switching on her spherical camera seated atop the monitor. The instant she did so, a gasp whistled through the computer's speakers. "Oh my gosh," gushed the voice, "It's really you! You're really her! I mean," amended the flustered voice, "You're Kim Possible!"
"We know who she is," said Ronnie. "Now tell us who you are, Mister Computer Man, or I'm pulling the plug." He leaned in and flicked the screen for emphasis, prompting a roll of Kimmie's eyes.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Hold on." A second later, a new window opened on the computer's desktop of its own volition, carrying with it the second sight to drop Kimmie and Ronnie's jaws that day. "My name is Wade," said the little boy on the opposite end of the connection. "I'm here to help you guys out."
Ronnie exchanged a glance with Kimmie, then with Rufus, before returning his disbelieving eyes to the round face smiling at them from the computer. "Help? Dude, you're some AWOL from the Teletubby Brigade. I don't think we need any juice boxes to stop some super-powered bank robbers, thanks."
An indignant look soured Wade's sweet smile. "I've got PhDs in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and Interior Design." At the last one, and the teens' quizzical looks, he said, "I had some extra time between classes. And I also know," he added with a glare at Ron, "That the guy you're looking for isn't super-powerful. But he is smart, and he's dangerous. And I want to help you bring him down."
"Why me?" Kimmie nudged aside her flattered ego for the moment. "If you know so much, why not go to the police?"
Wade's expression became sheepish. "Turns out the police aren't so hot to take advice from an eight-year-old genius," he confessed. Brightening, he said, "But with my help, I bet you'll catch this guy easy. You can do anything!"
"Kim, I don't know about this," Ronnie said.
"I've seen your website," Wade told Kimmie. "I see what you do for people here in Middleton on the news. You help people. Well," he said with a sweep of his arms, "I want to help people, too. I'm really smart, and I want to be part of your team."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," barked Ronnie, shoving Kimmie aside to dominate the camera's field. "The position of plucky sidekick has already been filled, Mon Ami, so you can just take your extremely well-versed knowledge of everything and hightail it on outta here!"
Kimmie cocked a brow. "Plucky?"
"Besides," continued Ronnie, "We're not sure if we're really all that interested in this whole crime-fighting gig." He folded his arms and harrumphed, hoisting his nose into the air. "If you must know, we were in the middle of talks to quit the whole deal when you oh-so-rudely interrupted."
"Please, Miss Possible…" pleaded Wade. "I don't know if the police will find this guy. I don't know if they can take him down…But I do know that we can do some real good if we work together."
Kimmie sat in quiet contemplation of the face in her computer. Her fingers steepled in front of her, resting at the tip of her nose. Ronnie hung at her shoulder with bated breath, hoping, praying that his best friend would come to her senses. They were middle schoolers. Theirs was a simple lot in life: hang out, eat junk food, skip homework, and drive their parents to the brink of insanity. Why would anyone want to give that up to fight someone who could bench press a bank vault?
"Wade," said Kimmie, "Tell me everything you know. We've got a bad guy to stop." Her eyes fixed intently on the screen as Wade began typing on his own keyboard. She missed the brief, crushed look on Ronnie's face.
"Then I'm on the team?" asked Wade as information began cropping up on Kimmie's monitor.
She smiled. "Let's call this a trial run," she told him. "The first rule we'll lay down is, you gotta call me 'Kim,' understand?" The grin on his face said all she needed to know. "Next, you tell me everything you've got on this guy."
"You'll need a name to start with," Wade said. "The guy calls himself 'Colonel Calamitous.'"
I didn't know it at the time, but that was the exact moment everything changed. Up until then, Kim had just been a good Samaritan, helping out wherever she found trouble. Now she would start looking for it. And brother, did she ever find it…
"So, that's the story?" Cooper asked between sips from a Styrofoam cup of coffee. "You got into this hero thing to hang out with your best friend?"
Ron shook his head. ""Sort of, but not exactly." His gaze wandered back to Kim, who forced a pretty smiled for the camera as Sunni announced their first commercial break. "That's how it started. But I never would have stuck with it, especially not after what came next."
"Why? What happened next?" asked Cooper.
"We'll be right back," Sunni assured her viewers, "After these messages."