Disclaimer: Apparently, there's no fourth season of JN. If it were mine, this wouldn't be the case. You figure it out.

Mrs. Unger had thought it was a great idea, pairing the two of them together. After all, she had stated, they were the two highest achieving students in Retroville High, and they stood the best chance of winning the State Academia competition and thus, of getting her a big fat raise. Essentially, Jimmy thought, she WAS right—after all, the competition was a class grade, and Cindy DID have the next best grades to his own. Logically, she would be the best choice, but then again, nothing with Cindy was logical. He had tried—oh, had he tried—to work alone on said project, hoping that he could lock himself in his lab and work on his subatomic particle experiments in peace. His pleas went unheeded, however, for Unger had insisted that Cindy was a key element to his win.

"Mr. Neutron," she had said, tugging at her sleeve, "I realize you're a 'genius' and all, but the Academia competition requires a presentation in front of the judges. And the fact of the matter is, Cindy is a better speaker and a more creative force by far. I'm sure with your experiment and Cindy's persuasive nature, you'll take first prize for sure!"

Despite his best efforts to convince her that he could study the world's greatest speechwriters overnight, she had refused to budge from her decision. So there they were, downstairs in his lab, working silently in different areas of the room. Jimmy looked up from the metallic part he was fashioning to gaze at Cindy, who was busy reading the monitors he had place her in front of. She was feverishly taking notes in a green lab notebook, somehow managing to write in legible, straight lines without once removing her gaze from the screen. Satisfied that she was not doing anything that would interfere with his progress or mess up his lab, he returned to what he was doing. After finishing that particular part to his specifications, he pulled a book off a nearby shelf, hoping to take from a set of notes he had taken two years back for his sophomore year science project and just recently thought to take out of his hardly-cleaned school locker. As he opened the book, a small piece of paper fluttered out and hit the floor at his feet. He stooped to pick it up, and marveled at the treasure he had found: it was a picture of Betty Quinlan, from the recently taken senior photos.

I must have stuck it in there between classes, he thought. He had received a picture from all of his friends (as was customary for seniors to do), but this picture was particularly wonderful, as it featured Betty in all her beautiful, young woman-ly glory. He placed the picture on the bench next to him as he returned to his work. He picked up a cutting utensil, hoping to cut a strike in the metal, but quickly found his attention drawn back to the picture.

Betty was facing the camera, clutching a prop diploma in her hand as she smiled radiantly. She had truly grown into a fine woman, with a beauty the rivaled that of a supermodel. Jimmy blinked at the photo. Gas planet, she was BEAUTIFUL. He smiled back at "Betty," letting his mind paint a picture of the subject.

She was tall, almost 5' 10", with a build that belonged more readily on runways in Milan than in hallways in Retroville. Her hair was long, dark, and shiny. Its long, volumous mass swayed when she walked, gently licking her back. It was a treat to watch her push her hair out of her eyes…ah, her eyes! They were of the deepest cappuccino brown, with just a splash of golden tint. Large and sparkly, they flanked the world's most perfect nose, which was tinted with just the slightest bit of pink. Her lips were full and luscious, the color of ripe red apples; they were sensual when they were pursed closed, and delightful when they framed her perfect set of glossy white teeth in a smile. Her whole body was covered in skin of the most lovely tanned bronze, and Jimmy lamented that the graduation garb didn't allow a good view of the slim collarbones that skin covered.

She was a teenage boy's dream, with two round, youthful breasts that were perfect in all their full-C-ness. From there, her waist curved inward, the slim look only interrupted by the tantalizing curve of her hips. Her legs were long, trim and silky, and the boys in the class had taken more than a little pleasure in staring at them during the swim lessons in Phys. Ed.. All lead down to the perfect set of feet, not too small, not too large.

She was positively sexy all around, the source of many of Jimmy's most wild and erotic fantasies. To him, Betty Quinlan was the quintessential sex goddess, with so much appeal that it positively dripped off her. The sheer thought of her and him, together in a private space was enough to rouse his most carnal urges and leave his body craving her.

He shook himself out of his reverie and felt a burning in his cheeks as he realized where his thoughts had been headed. Trying to regain his grip on reality, he turned back toward Cindy, who was hovered over a different monitor, a green glow cast over her face. He watched as she read the data fervently, her eyes scanning back and forth quickly. Her eyes…were nothing like Betty's. Hers were smaller, less "come hither." But, they WERE a rather piercing green, and almost attractive in the trace of intelligence they betrayed. Her nose was small and not nearly as perfect in shape as Betty's, but it was proportional, and was almost cute in the way she wrinkled it in frustration with the data at hand. Jimmy watched her lips—they weren't at all sexy like Betty's. They in no way cried "kiss me stupid," rather they were small and pink like tiny rosebuds. She was currently biting the lower one, holding it in place behind two shapely front teeth. The whips of blonde hair that fell in her face from her poorly tied-back hair further added to the look of contemplation on her face, and she appeared to have almost a frazzled look.

And yet, she was almost irresistible.

Whoa. Where the hell did that come from!

Jimmy shook the thought from his head. Cindy? Attractive? Not hardly! Why, she was too skinny—not curvaceous like Betty. Her skin didn't have the enticing olive tones of Betty's, and her fair skin made the green cast from the monitor only further illumininate the look of joy on her face that appeared when she realized that her data would work after all. He watched as she curled up in her chair, tucking her legs underneath her. Jimmy noticed that they were pale, but muscular, not like Betty's naturally thin and smooth ones. He even noticed that her feet, clad in flip-flops, were slightly larger than necessary for a woman her size.

Jimmy fingered the picture of Betty before turning back to Cindy. There was nothing about the girl in front of the monitor that called to his sexual desires the way Betty did. Cindy's eyes were much better suited to taking in the world, analyzing it. They were much better as tools for expression, and certainly, she had a lot to give. As for her lips, he'd listen to words tumble sweetly out of them just as soon as he would kiss them—not like Betty's. Those were solely KISSING lips.

Her straight blonde hair may not have had the bounce and sheen of Betty's ultra-locks, but it served as a perfect frame to a face that portrayed both a stubborn, intelligent girl and a sensitive, emotional woman. Her skin wasn't that of a bronzed goddess, but he supposed it was rather lovely in its own way—like that of a Botticellian beauty. He followed the soft skin down her body, to the snug tank top she wore. Her breasts weren't astounding like Betty's but they fit in well with her short stature and petite frame, giving her body a balance and proportion that he supposed was admirable…from a :cough: purely mathematical standpoint….

Her whole lithe frame managed to fit in the chair, and her curled up stance made her look almost fragile and gentle in a portrayal that almost made him want to reach out and hold her, just to see how she felt against him. The grin on her face as she smiled at her scientific revelation was almost intoxicating, and he shocked himself when he found he wished that smile would never end.

Why the hell would I think like that? he tried to reason in his brain, I mean, this is CINDY, for crying out loud! She wasn't the ravishing, sensual goddess of beauty that Betty was! Why did she even deserve this attention from him, as Betty did?

Was that to say Cindy wasn't beautiful at all? He tapped the metal piece in front of him with his cutting tool as he thought about this. Well, I've never really thought of Cindy in the er…context I've thought about Betty… Was it even possible to think about Vortex like that? Would thinking of her and him engaged in intimate activities elicit the same response that it did when Betty was the subject? He paused and tried to imagine this. Him and her, on a magical Parisian getaway, lying in each other's arms…

…arguing academia.

He frowned. Maybe she was totally sex-less to him. That decided he brought his thoughts back to Paris, only this time, with Betty.

Or at least, he tried to. Every time he tried to focus on thoughts that might be described as passionate--or even horny--his mind's eye kept focusing back on his conjured image of Cindy mock glaring at him from beside him on their bed in France, pointedly telling him that he was a lame-brained nerd, and that she was right.

Is this right? he thought, I'm a teenager! I'm supposed to be thinking about hot, naked girls. NAKED GIRLS! C'mon, Jim, you've done this before! Why is it so hard all of a sudden?

He tried once again to imagine Betty's beautiful body lying next to his.

But once again he failed, and the image melted into a vision of Vortex clobbering him over the head with a pillow, then explaining her side of the argument with exaggerated hand gestures. His vision self watched his counterpart closely, as if trying to engrain the fluid movements of her fingers into his memory before coming up with a proper rebuttal.

Jimmy's eyes widened. Why the hell did it keep coming back to that? He threw a glance behind him at Cindy, who was once again scribbling notes. When she stopped to chew on the tip of her pen, he suddenly found himself flushed with warmth as his focus was drawn to her two lips curled around it.

Wh-why is that sexy? That's not sexy! Betty Quinlan naked in bed is sexy! That's the sort of thing you should be blushing over! Now get back to your proper daydreams!

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing every available brain cell in his mind to think up an image of Betty so appealing, he'd be hard pressed to ever want to come back to consciousness, let alone think of Cindy.

Betty naked on the beach…yes…that was good. He'd use that. He could see his vision-self peering at the beauty, taking his gaze from her only long enough to close his eyes and thank the great Gods that he was this privileged. When his vision-self opened them, however, there was Cindy, standing over a tide pool, pointing to the contents and beckoning him over, a large smile plastered on her face.

Jimmy blinked himself out of that vision as well. A tide pool? I envision a tide pool over a luscious female? What in the name of Enrico Fermi is wrong with me? I must be ill.

He peered once again at Cindy, who was now trying to condense her notes into the computer presentation she was putting together for them. He had to admit, it was an impressive piece of work, and he couldn't help but watch as her small (but completely average! he insisted to himself) hands flew across the keyboard as she worked. It was only after he noticed that she had thin, delicate wrists, a few well-placed freckles on her toned arms, and a chickenpox scar on the visible flesh on her chest that he caught himself in thought about his rival yet again.

He almost wanted to hit himself over the head with something. According to all the best poets and painters and writers, there was a definite in beauty. Beauty was perfect. Beauty was sensual. Beauty was appealing to the senses. Beauty wasn't freckles, it wasn't scars, it wasn't piercing green eyes challenging his academic statements, and it certainly wasn't Cindy Vortex. Beauty should be what he dreamed about and lusted over.

Sighing, he glanced at the picture of Betty again. Betty was Beauty. She was perfect, a gem to admire, the kind of woman all men dream about having on their arms. And Cindy…

He turned on his cutting tool and began to focus on his work again. Cindy…

He gave Vortex a glance once more out of the corner of his eye, and saw her stick out her tongue at the screen in front of her in defiance as it refused to comply with her wishes. At that moment, thoughts and possibilities, unbidden, came to him.

Cindy and him talking animatedly over dinner. Cindy and him fighting over how to properly coordinate their shared bedroom. Cindy laughing at him as she tried to teach him Karate and he fell on his face; Cindy trying to conceal the look of concern in her eyes as she watched him drag his battered body back to his feet. Cindy sitting beside him on a couch after a long, hard day, offering him a Flurp because it was his favorite, saying nothing because she could tell he had a headache, but remaining close to him, as she knew he didn't want her to leave.

He was still staring at her when it came to him: Cindy was not beautiful like Betty. No, not by a long shot. But she was unique. And passionate. Her independence was charming. Her kindness, though rarely shown, was world-class. Her mind was admirable, even to a genius like him, as was her sense of practicality and duty. She may not have big, dark eyes, and she may not have curves that made men weep or lips that made men drool, but Cindy didn't need them.

If beauty was all the things that Cindy wasn't, then it was highly overrated and sub par. And James Neutron didn't do sub par. Full lips and breasts had the ability to arouse him, but lacked the ability to soothe his mind or that much deeper craving for something more. All his random thoughts and attempts at blocking vision-Cindy had only made him see how much he wanted that; more than physicality, more than ravishing women, he wanted someone who challenged him, someone who was receptive to him, and someone who made him feel whole. Someone truly beautiful. More than anything, those qualities were appealing to him. More than lips and legs and breasts, he wanted brains and quips and cohesiveness. Now THAT was beauty. THAT was sexy. THAT was the way to turn him on more than all the beautiful bodies in the world.

Yeah, Betty was sexy.

But Cindy was positively the drop-dead sexiest.

Too short, too pale, too un-curvy, and dotted with childhood freckles and scars, Cindy Vortex was no match for the physical beauty of Betty Quinlan.

But GOD, did Jimmy want her. The sheer thought of holding that bright, fiery, dramatic woman in his arms made him burn with more passion than a thousand naked beach Betty's ever could.

He watched her even more closely then, feeling shivers of desire run down his spine as she moved her long bangs out of her eyes, as she rubbed a cramp out of her sore leg, as her thin fingers reached to turn the page of her notebook. He was nearly undone as she licked her lips with her pink tongue; so much so that he could feel intense burning even down to his fingertips. Hell, it even bordered on pain.

Jimmy came out of his thoughts then, only to find that he had sliced his hand open with his cutting tool.

He let out a cry of pain, dropping the bloody part in his hand. I was so out of it, I missed the part I was cutting! Meanwhile, behind him, Vortex spun in her chair, eyes wide.

"What happened?" she demanded, her gaze melting into a glare, "Did you ruin the project, Nerd-Tron?"

Jimmy clutched his bleeding hand and glared at her. "No. I…cut myself."

Cindy's eyes softened then, and she stood. "Dummy. Let me take a look at it."

"It's fine," he insisted, trying to shy away from her ministrations, "I don't think I got it that bad."

Cindy snorted. "You're bleeding all over yourself, you klutz." She pulled the first-aid kit off the shelf nearest his main lab bench and took a seat in front of him. "Now hold still and stop being a little baby while I clean up your mistake."

She took his bloody hand in hers, and pressed a thick piece of gauze to the wound. "What did you cut it on?" she asked.

"My tool."

"Hmm. Maybe you should get a tetanus shot, then."

"Nah," he muttered, "I got one last year after another lab experiment went…awry. They're good for ten years."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Only I could be so lucky as to get stuck with a dunce like you."

Jimmy glared at her. "Yeah, well getting stuck with a smart-mouthed girl like yourself is no picnic either."

"I could leave you to bandage this yourself, you know," she replied, letting the threat hang even as she continued treating the cut.

He was silent as she continued to staunch the blood flow, using the time to carefully study her face as she focused intently on the task at hand. He almost flinched in surprised when she spoke, in almost a whisper.

"I wouldn't have really left you to take care of this alone, you know."

He grinned at her. "Thanks. I didn't mean what I said about you either. Not totally anyway."

Cindy smirked at him, brandishing a bottle of disinfectant. "Well, thanks, but I meant I wouldn't miss an opportunity to torture you with this stuff." Jimmy's eyes widened, but he took secret solace in the fact that her eyes belied the real reason she had helped. She poured some of the pungent liquid onto a clean piece of gauze, and then removed the bloodied one to view the cut. "This'll sting."

Maybe it was the nature of the liquid, or maybe it was the depth of the cut, but the measure hurt like hell, and he had to bite his lip in order to stifle a cry.

"Relax," she spoke gently, "I'm almost done."

He winced as she finished wiping the last of the blood off his hand, and then marveled as she pulled his hand close to her lips in order to blow on the freshly cleaned wound. The way her hand felt wrapped around his, the way her breath felt as it brushed along his palm, the way her lips were puckered together as she blew was amazing to him, and the caring looking on her face made her beauty stand out all the more, almost stealing his ability to talk completely.

"Wh-what are you d-doing?" he breathed.

Cindy looked up at him, blushing suddenly. "Sorry. Force of habit…my mother used to do that when I was little, and I've done it to my cuts ever since. Makes it sting less, I think."

Jimmy only managed a grunt in response. He feared speaking up again, for he didn't know if he would ever be able to completely regain his speech. Cindy pulled out the materials necessary for wrapping the wound, and began to coil the tape around his hand.

Jimmy swallowed as her fine fingers worked, but managed to make coherent sentences again. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

Cindy didn't take her eyes off her task as she replied, "My mother made me take a first-aid class. And do volunteer work at the local hospital. I could probably give you that shot myself, given how many I've seen."

"No, no. Ten years, remember?"

Cindy smiled wickedly. "Too bad."

Jimmy laughed nervously as she finished off the bandage and tore the tape with her front teeth, an action that was oddly attractive to him. He examined the handiwork with a trained scientific eye, and was quite surprised to see that it was absolutely perfect. The sheer perfection of the wrapping and the knowledge that Cindy held about it only made Jimmy appreciate her virtues all the more.

"Thanks, Vortex."

"You're welcome," she said, putting the unused supplies back into the kit. She placed the box back on the shelf and peered at him with her amazing, inquisitive eyes. Jimmy was so caught up in their appeal that he almost missed her question.

"So, what exactly had you so distracted that you cut your own hand?"

Jimmy blushed crimson. He couldn't actually tell her that he was contemplating her beauty.

"Uhh…um…"

Cindy made her way over to where he was, and stole a glance at his workstation. "What is this?" Her hand reached out to pick up the picture of Betty.

"Well, that explains everything," she sighed.

"It's not what it…I mean, I wasn't distracted by…"

"Nerd-bomb, you truly are stupid sometimes, you know?" she said, sneering at the picture of Betty, "And besides, didn't I tell you to rid your lab of these pictures years ago?"

"That's a new one," he explained lamely.

"I didn't mean get NEW ones," she gritted her teeth.

Jimmy put his hands up in defense. "That's the only one I have. I'll toss it out."

Cindy frowned, then looked at the picture in her hand. "No, that wasn't part of our deal. Keep it."

She placed the picture back on the counter, and then proceeded to mop up some residual blood that had dripped on the workbench. The lab was silent as she worked, and Jimmy tried to think of a way to break the stalemate. It would be so much easier if she weren't so hot when she was secretly fuming.

Cindy finished, then looked back at the picture. "She's pretty, isn't she?"

"Huh?"

"Betty Quinlan. She's pretty."

"Well, yeah…she's okay, I guess."

Cindy gave him a skeptical look.

"What?" Jimmy asked.

"'Okay?'"

"Yeah. Okay."

Cindy shook her head at him. "You're a lousy liar, Neutron."

"Huh? What makes you think I'm lying?"

"I can tell. We've known each other for like, 8 years now?" Cindy picked up her notes again and sat in front of the computer to continue her work, not bothering to say anymore.

"Okay, fine. She's pretty," Jimmy shrugged.

"Hmpft," Cindy grunted, "Marry her, why don't ya."

Jimmy laughed. "She's not WIFE material…sex goddess material, maybe."

"Yeah, right," she remarked, not looking at him.

"Seriously. I've had a long time to think about it; she's hot. VERY hot, in fact. But totally in a physical way—I realized today that I've never had a fantasy in which I was married to her or anything."

"Just having sex?"

"GREAT sex," he said, egging her on.

Cindy glared at him. "I don't want to hear about your sick fantasies, Neutron."

"What, about Betty naked?"

"No! About YOU naked!"

Jimmy looked indignant. "Hey!"

Cindy turned back to the computer, a smug look on her face.

Jimmy watched her self-satisfied look with pleasure—it was by and large one of her most beautiful facial expressions. After a minute or so of no talking, he stood, then turned back to Cindy.

"I'm going upstairs to get a Flurp. You want one?"

Cindy gave only a curt "Yes" as a response.

He stood there a moment longer, then leaned in so that he spoke right next to her cheek. "You know, Vortex, you're kinda pretty yourself." That said, he slowly planted a kiss on her cheek, his lips brushing the corner of her mouth. He retreated for the stairwell before she had a chance to say anything, his whole body on fire, it seemed, from the pleasure of the deed. He stopped at the first set of doors out of the lab and turned to steal a glance at Vortex. She was still staring at the screen, one hand resting on the keyboard (which was continually typing up a letter combination like "jhkkkkkl" unchecked as she left it there), the other lightly touching the spot where he had planted his kiss. After getting over her initial shock, she smiled, sighing to herself.

"He called me 'pretty,'" she mouthed. Her grin grew, only to jerk into a look of self-annoyance when she realized half the page she was working on was now taken over by "l"'s, "j"'s, and "k"'s, for the most part. Despite the glitch, her lips remained in a ghost of a smile as Jimmy turned and headed for his house. He grabbed two Flurps in the kitchen and headed back down to his lab, grinning to himself.

It was only noon, and she had said she would work on the project until four. That was four more hours of staring at his true beauty. He couldn't wait to return to his private "study."

…Well, assuming he wasn't trying to work power tools at the same time.

A/N: Wow, that was kinda fun! This is my first JN fic ever, so if any of you feel so kind as to review, I ask you to keep that in mind. Other than that, go wild!