Thanks goes to campy, jasminevr, Goinghome, and flynnyo for leaving reviews for "'Tis the Season", and big thanks to all who read "'Tis the Season." :-)
Once again, as usual, great big thanks again goes to Spitfire F.22 for beta reading for me. Thanks, dude! Here, have a cookie curtsey of Rufus 3000. (big grin)
Disclaimer: All Kim Possible characters are the copyright of Walt Disney Corporation. I'm just
borrowing them to write up a story with no intention of making any money. This is for fun. All other characters in my stories, that Disney doesn't own, are mine. :)
A/N: Well, the fun times are over now for the TUY gang. I'm not going to say anything more. Read the story first, and I'll explain everything in my after-story A/Ns.
Spoken sentences, that begins and ends with a slash (/) means the person is speaking in Japanese.
Oh, I've rated this story accordingly, given there are some strong language mentioned as well as for some scenes that wouldn't feel a K+ (PG) rating would be warranted. So I'm playing it safe.
Story rating: Rated T (aka PG-13)
Written: December 2005/January 2006
Summery: The semester's finals have arrived. Yet for one student however, things are not as peaceful or innocent as they appear.
Kim Possible: The University Years
The Finals Straw
By JuPMod (aka JPMod)
From the air, things looked pretty much business as usual on the vast landscape of Upperton University. People and vehicles moved about during this winter day, cold despite the sun, which was high in the clear blue sky.
Yet, if one would to look closer at the various students moving around, things were not normal as one expected. Some students looked ragged compared to others, like they didn't bother to shower or shave. Others looked like they would suddenly fall asleep, catching catnaps in places like the student center, library, or even the lobbies of the dormitories.
The signs showed it was the time of the school year when students rushed to complete those final assignments and cram knowledge into their brains in hopes that whatever they studied would be needed. It was time for the semester's final exams, and the university's student population was now in full-gear of studying and working to pass the last hurdle before the start of the nearly month-long winter/holiday break.
Walking down a path toward the student center to grab some lunch, a blonde man, looking a bit shabby, couldn't help but give a yawn. Even after two years experience of studying for the finals, he still wasn't used to staying up really late into the morning to cram his work. At times like these, he sometimes envied his high school days.
Giving a wane grin on the memories, Ron Stoppable shook his head. Times certainly had changed, and it was kind of weird to think he once was a laidback procrastinator during his Middleton high school years. All that changed on the night of the senior prom, when he and his long-time best friend since pre-k, Kim Possible, took that magical step to become boyfriend/girlfriend and realized they loved each other. Oh, he was still the same goofy, funny Ron, yet it was amazing how much love could change a person's view on things. Seeing he very much wanted to have a future with Kim, he became more serious in schoolwork and tried hard to improve himself. He had finally grown-up, and he had done this all for Kim as well as for himself.
Coming back from the momentarily happy thoughts of living the rest of his life with the woman he loved, Ron frowned as he focused on the immediate future of the next few days. He had just minutes ago completed the only final exam he had to take today, leaving another three more exams to go. He felt he had barely passed the history exam, yet it was important if he was going to be an international cultural specialist.
Sighing, he came within reach of the student center, knowing he definitely would have to get some food into his stomach if he would have any hope of staying focused on studying for the next three exams. It was at times like this moment he was glad Rufus stayed at the dorm room. Much as he loved his little pink buddy, he was in no mood for the naked mole rat eating his lunch when he was not looking, especially if Ron decided to have a short nap with his head on the table.
Entering the student center, Ron was still amazed that Kim could easily handle university studying. She at times would be ragged as everyone else, yet she managed in the past two years to have mostly B's with a few A's, and even though she was no longer an honor-roll student, she was content on getting by with what she had and no longer the semi-obsessed girl over getting A's like she was in high school. Least Kim didn't fell into the trap like some high school honor-roll students of thinking they have to maintain their honor-roll status even in college/university. It was sometimes not even possible.
Putting aside any thoughts on his girlfriend, Ron headed toward the Bueno Nacho booth to order his lunch.
Despite two years of this, Kim Possible still sometimes felt like ripping her hair out. Nonetheless, she continued reading her notes and textbook from psychology class, which was the most important of her classes she ha to pass next to political studies. She knew she would pass, but it required far more cramming than she ever did in high school. Except for Monique, all her friends, especially her boyfriend, continued to wonder how she could pull this all off and make it looked so easy. Simply put, it never was easy.
Giving an amused grin on the thought, she raised her green eyes from her work to look at the framed photo on her desk. It was an adorable shot of Kim and Ron at high school graduation, looking like a loving couple as they smiled at the camera with his right arm around her shoulder and her left arm around his waist.
From the framed photo, Upperton U's head female cheerleader looked up to the bulletin board on the wall above her desk. Besides notes and a calendar, the board contained even more shots of Kim with her beloved man. These were casual shots from various events – dancing school, last year's Christmas ball and Christmas at her home, an on-campus fundraiser event to help needy kids, last spring's Spring Break visiting Nana in Florida, and some other shots. Besides photos of Kim with Ron, there were also photos of other people – Monique and her looking like best pals at the student center's food court; Felix, George, and Ron last spring playing video games during one of the weekly time-out sessions; her 'rents and the Tweebs at dinner, and some others.
Kim's eyes focused on the recent additions to the photo collection in the past few months. One showed her family, Monique, Debra, Ron, George, and Felix at the Michigan/Upperton football game in November. Another, snapped by Ron, was Debra and her dueling each other at martial arts at the university's dojo. The most recent photo was a group shot of her, Monique, Debra, and Loretta at the Christmas ball, where Debra and Kim were sitting at the table and side hugging each other while Monique and Loretta stood behind them.
A chuckle from the bed behind Kim brought the redhead back to the present. "Girlfriend, you are so much in love with your blonde goofball of a man that you still take study breaks just looking at those photos."
Giving a small laugh, Kim shook her head. She didn't need to turn around to know Monique was studying in her favorite position – resting comfortably on her bed with her notes and books. "I wasn't just looking at Ron. I was also looking at the others, especially the recent ones."
Unseen by Kim, Monique raised an eyebrow as she grinned. "You mean the ones with Debbie in them?"
Kim nodded as she returned her eyes to settle on the photos with Debra in them. "Despite only knowing her for two months now, she has become a good friend."
"Yeah," Monique replied with a small grin, "she has." Kim's best friend gave a snort of a laugh, for she still was surprised that Felix and Debra became a couple so fast in just two months. She was usually on the top of her game to tell when some people would be more than friends, yet Felix and Debra caught her off guard. She frowned a bit on that thought and wondered why she didn't see that coming.
Kim's amused words pulled Monique out of her musings. "I wonder how she's taking her first time experience studying for the finals."
Monique smirked on the image of the freshman student looking ragged and tired. "Well, we haven't seen her since Sunday, as we're all busy with preparing for the finals. Yet, I say she might just pull through." Her smirk turned sly. "If she could handle working out with you in martial arts, she could handle the finals."
Sputtering out a laugh, Kim's green eyes quickly caught the photo of her and Debra in their gi's, fighting each other. "Yeah, maybe you're right. Next to Shego, I haven't met anyone else who could give me a real martial arts workout better than Debra."
Suddenly raising a hand to her mouth, Kim tried to cover up a yawn. She turned her head to eye her nightstand's digital clock and saw it was close to midnight now.
Slapping her books and notebooks shut, Monique pointed to her friend. "Kim girl, I say we hit the sack. We both don't have to take any finals until tomorrow afternoon, so how about we get some shut eye and go study at the library tomorrow morning before our finals in the afternoon?"
Hearing her words made Kim want to yawn again. It would be good to get more sleep than they had usually been getting in the past several days. "Sounds like a plan, Monique." With that said, she book-marked her textbook and slapped it shut along with her notebooks.
As they prepared for bed, Kim's mind returned to thinking of her newest friend. She slyly grinned again on guessing how Debra was fairing on studying and preparing for her exams. It would indeed be an experience for the freshman student.
Weary blue eyes gazed down at the textbook, taking in the words to be processed and hopefully remembered in the mind later. It was a necessary task in order to prepare for what lay ahead. Yet regardless what the mind wanted, the body was speaking another thing entirely. It signaled a sure sign that it needed rest. It made a yawn.
Unable to suppress it, Debra Oxford Tsuda, freshman-year student of Upperton University, raised a hand to cover her mouth as her eyes closed. The yawn was loud and clear. Once it passed, she opened her eyes to look at the digital clock on her nightstand from her laying position on her bed. The time was close to 3:00 AM now.
From the clock, Debra moved her view to her roommate, who was sitting at her desk. Loretta Brown was watching her with a slight quirk in her lips. Seeing her amused expression caused Debra to scowl a bit. "Loretta, don't even start," she softly said.
"Who? Me?" Loretta teased with a finger on her chest and lips grinning wider.
"Yes, you," Debra narrowed her eyes at her friend. "How could you stand to stay up this late studying?"
The brown-skinned New Yorker, still grinning, reached to the coffee cup on the desk and lifted it up by its handle. She waggled the cup a bit. "As I had said, Debbie girl, you have to have your caffeine lifeline."
Debra scoffed. "Please. I drank one cup like three hours ago, and that's not enough to keep me awake. I hardly stayed up past 1 in the morning when I was studying for the mid-terms!"
"As I said," Loretta still amused at seeing her roomie looking like she was about to zone out, "these are the finals, Deb."
"Whatever," Debra rolled her eyes. She slapped her book shut and tossed it on the floor. An hour ago, she had stopped studying at her desk and had changed into her nightgown so she could study in the comforts of her bed. Since she was already in bed, she didn't have to do anything than just slipped down more under the covers to place her head on the pillow. "I'm going to sleep."
Loretta couldn't help but to give one more witty remark. "Want to call Felix so he can give you a goodnight kiss?" She chuckled and ducked, when a pencil from Debra's nightstand, was thrown at her. With that done, the sophomore student watched the younger woman turn off her nightstand's lamp and settled back down on her pillow. A few moments later, the girl was sound asleep, her brown/blonde hair spread across the pillow.
Her desk's lamp now the only light in the dark dorm room, Miss Brown turned back to her studying and work. Yet, with a grin, her mind still wondered about her roomie.
It'd came to no surprise, the day after the annual Upperton U Christmas Ball, that Debra looked like a girl in dreamland. When asked how good a kisser Felix was, Deb would blush and give a sly smile. Of course, she didn't give details, yet her flush cheeks were enough to tell that Felix Renton had sent Debra into orbit. For Loretta, she was pleased to see Debra happy.
Not needing to turn around, Loretta knew of the photo Debra had placed above her desk on the small wall-mounted bulletin board. It was of Debra sitting on Felix's lap, both smiling, just sometime before the ball closed at 1 AM. Using one of his wheelchair's cyberrobotic arms to hold Debra's cell-phone camera, Felix had taken the picture, which Debra had given a copy to him when she'd gone to get the shot printed the next day.
Loretta snorted amusedly at remembering Debra would, at times, gaze at that photo like she still was in heaven. She knew it was way too early to even say whether Debra and Felix were in love with each other. Most couples, when they first got together, acted like they were walking on air, and Debra & Felix seemed to be no exception. Only time would tell whether Upperton U's newest couple would able to make their relationship work or find out it was just a romantic flash with no deeper feelings.
Yet as her thoughts about her roommate continued, Loretta's grin waned as she remembered something else. Something she hoped that wouldn't ruin Debra's happy world.
In the weeks since the Drakken War, Debra has been getting more and more proposals for her to sing – TV or radio appearances, concerts, record deals, etc. The continuous mail pitches seemed to have escalated a bit after the memorial service, and now that people had heard her sing at the Christmas Ball, Loretta wondered whether even more offers would be thrown at Debra.
To a casual observer, Debra appeared to have the situation under control. She would throw away the letters or brush off verbal requests with minor annoyance. Yet, being her dorm roommate, Loretta had occasionally seen the petite athlete rip up a letter in brief anger and toss the letter into the trash like it was vile. When asked about the letter, Debra had said it was just a very annoying letter, nothing more.
Two days before the Christmas Ball, Loretta was again at hand to witness another moment when Debra ripped a letter in spite, and again Debra had brushed it off. Yet when the younger woman was out of the dorm room at class, Loretta had taken the ripped letter out of the trash, pieced it together, and read it. What she read was shocking, and she hoped and prayed Debra would do something about it.
Sighing, Loretta once more turned her head to look at her peacefully slumbering friend. She did look peaceful, but she questioned whether Debra was doing herself more harm by ignoring those specific letters. She really did hope that nothing would ever come to pass, and given Debra only had two days left of exams to go, it was likely she would go home without anything happening.
Yet what about next semester? Would Debra continue to receive these letters even then?
Turning back to her books and notes, Loretta sighed again and placed her roomie's problems temporary at the back of her mind to focus on her work. For now, she would worry about this later. With her decision made, she went to work, studying and preparing for the finals she would be taking later in the day.
Despite the fact that it was a clear, bright day, the temperature and the wind made it cold enough to feel like the Arctic. Yet it didn't deter those who would venture outside to get to class or a change of scenery than being cooped inside dorm rooms, apartments, etc. The weather was simply a part of university life, and those who did not adapt to the climate were pretty much told they should have enrolled somewhere else.
Leaving their dorm building just shortly after 9 AM, Kim Possible and Monique Williams had long adapted to the weather, as they were used to it for many years. Bundled up in their warm winter jackets, the two junior-year girls strolled off toward the library.
"I hope our usual table hasn't been seized, girlfriend," Monique said as they strolled along the path, their breathes creating puffs of white clouds in front of them.
Kim grinned. "Maybe or maybe not. You know it's unlikely someone would take that corner of the library at this time in the morning."
"Yeah, yeah," Monique smirked and gently slapped Kim's arm. "And you know I'm just PYT."
A snort of a laugh sputtered out of Kim's lips. Her best friend, far as she knew, was the only person on the planet to initialize words and phrases. Kim has learned long ago to know what Monique really meant whenever she used initials. Like 'PYT' meant 'Pulling Your Tail'.
"Yeah, I know, Monique," Kim shook her head, still grinning. "Least it's good to study in the library for a change." She sighed before frowning. "It seems every year the workload gets larger as we near graduation."
"You telling me?" Monique huffed and waved a hand in dismissal. "Kim, I could have told you that two years ago." This caught Kim's attention, for she turned her head to look at her friend, "I have a cousin who went to the University of Florida to study to be a lawyer, and each year her workload got more and more complex. By the time she was approaching graduation, her load was so huge she claimed she didn't even have time to eat." The African-American pointed a finger at the redhead. "You wait until next year when we're seniors. They'll really put us to work."
Kim chuckled. "I believe you, Monique. I have no clear plans now, but it's maybe possible I'll stay for graduate school."
"You?" Monique was surprised, before her lips curled up slyly. "I thought you and your BF would want to move on with your lives. You two said you might consider getting back to doing your world-saving thing." Her sly grin went wider. "Not to mention tying the knot?"
"Monique!" Kim exclaimed and gently laughed. "Ron and I haven't even discussed yet what we'll be doing after graduation. We'll get there when the time comes." She faced the path ahead of her.
Seeing the whimsical smile on Kim's face, Monique warmly smiled and knew what she was thinking. "And you definitely wouldn't mind marrying that man, girl."
"Yeah," Kim softly answered, her expression dreamy.
Still smiling, Monique faced the path, knowing Kim would be in this mindless state until they reached the library. Despite the headaches of the finals, the redhead heroine would have her head in the clouds whenever she thought of marrying her blonde boyfriend. Just thinking of becoming 'Kimberly Ann Stoppable' was enough to make her realize how deeply she was in love.
Out of the corner of her eye, Monique saw Kim still was on cloud nine and mentally chuckled. "Well, she'll come back down to Earth once she hit those books again. Nothing gets her out of her love-trance than schoolwork, finals included."
"Kami! I'll be glad when I take my last final exam tomorrow!" Debra mentally exclaimed as her fingers moved the pen to form words on some paper her English professor had provided. After turning in her final assignment, the professor, for the final exam, has asked for a two-page written essay on any news item one may have read and/or seen in recent times.
And so that was what the petite freshman student was currently doing. It seemed like a simple task to do to write-up the essay, yet it was taking awhile to write it up neatly in an interesting way without spelling and grammar errors. If it was typed on a computer, a student could easily have used spelling & grammar checkers, but the only spelling & grammar checker a student has in written form is his or her own mind.
After nearly an hour and half since she started, Debra reread her essay and concluded it was the best she could do with it. Getting up from her desk, she walked the short distance to Professor Davis's desk and turned in the essay. The professor quickly scanned the essay, smiled, and nodded before placing it on the stack of other finished essays. There were presently few students remaining in the large, stadium-style classroom.
Satisfied that she had finished yet another final exam, Debra returned to her desk, quickly packed up her books and stuff, and donned her pink/reddish parka and gloves. Her hair, being loose and free, was held by the jacket's back, and she was fine with that, given she didn't wanted her hair blowing all around her head once she reached the outside. After slinging her arms through the backpack's shoulder straps, the young woman headed toward the exit, feeling confident she was able to pass English.
Passing the threshold, she turned left, walking down the hall to the wide staircase that led down to the first floor. Yet when she reached the bottom, Debra came to a halt upon seeing two people waiting there as other people were going about their business. Her lips clenched and her eyes narrowed upon seeing these two individuals. Far as she was concerned, these two were representatives of the most selfish bunch of people in Upperton U - Shelly and Monica from the Tai Gamma Delta sorority house.
Ever since the Drakken War, Shelly and Monica were nosy and bossy in trying to get Debra to sing for their sorority house's band. Debra had refused them bluntly after the memorial service, but the two girls occasionally still confronted her, either after math or English class to make her change her mind. It seemed that these two were relentless to the point of stupidity to seek a conflict during the finals.
"You two already know my answer," Debra said coldly. "You should have accepted my answer a long time ago and moved on. I will not sing in your band."
Debra was about to walk past them before Shelly, the brunette, quickly shoved a hand onto Debra's chest to stop her. "We know you sang at the Christmas Ball," she sneered. "You've kept saying you would not sing in public, yet you did so at the ball."
"I sang freely with my heart," Debra growled softly. "I again point to you that I will not sing for fame, glory, power, or money."
The blonde-haired Monica stepped forward to block Debra's path. "Yet you occasionally will sing for the public. You're going against your own words."
Debra wanted strongly to give these two girls a few kung-fu chops to the stomach and face. They were quite insufferable. "Again, I said I will not sing in public for the reasons I'd stated. You're going in circles with your argument." With her body, she slightly shoved Monica out of the way so she could edge pass her and made way toward the front of the building. "I hope I will not ever have classes next semester with you two," she said over her shoulder to the two girls, "for you and your house sickens me."
As Debra walked away, Monica and Shelly narrowed their eyes briefly toward the retreating gymnast before they turned their heads to eye each other. They nodded, before Shelly reached into a pocket to pull out a cell phone. Flipping it open, the brunette pressed a speed-dial button before putting the phone to her ear.
"Hello, Leah? It's Shelly." She paused for a moment. "Of course she refused." Another pause before Shelly evilly grinned. "Will do. I'll talk to you later." With that said, she flipped the phone lid closed to terminate the call.
Monica smirked, while Shelly nodded in affirmative, her lips still grinning evilly.
"Well, we're almost there," George Castle mentioned before eating a french fry. "I think a lot of students are eager to get back home for the holidays." He gestured to the many students occupying the student center's food court.
Sitting besides the ponytailed sophomore student, Felix Renton smirked. "George, the past week has been quite a ride for a lot of students. Some more than others." He took a bite of a burrito before reaching over to pick up a soda and taking a sip through the straw.
George nodded, conceding the point. "True, true, my wheel chaired friend," he grinned. "I certainly feel like bailing once I take my final final exam tomorrow."
"Oh?" Felix raised an eyebrow, face teasing. "Are you that tired of Upperton U? Maybe you should move back to Delaware."
"And miss your Zombie Mayhem bashing charms?" George snorted/laughed. "I don't think so, therefore I'm staying put until I get that degree." He popped another fry in his mouth.
"Then you'll bail!" Felix pointed, smiling.
"Hey!" George narrowed his eyes, grinning. "I might stay here in the Tri-City area though."
Felix pointed to himself then. "Okay, then I'll bail. I want to get far away from you as possible."
George gave a mock hurt look. "You wound me, and I thought you were my friend!" Both men chuckled. "Speaking of friends," George's face turned crafty as Felix took another bite of his burrito, "are you willing to bail out on Debra?"
"Don't you go there!" Felix smirked/frowned as he pointed to the other man. "I certainly will not bail out on Debra." He took a sip of soda. "I want to see where we can go with our relationship."
"Uh-huh," George nodded, his expression still sly. "You mean other than snogging each other?"
"Hey!" Felix was perturbed. "We haven't snogged each other much in the past week due to studies and the finals."
Raising both hands up, George gently laughed. "Chill out, Romeo. I'm only yanking your chain." He reached over and softly slugged Felix's left arm. "You certainly scored big by getting Debra as your girlfriend." He gave a genuine smile. "If not now due to the finals, I'm sure you'll be the hot topic of the university's news circuits next semester." He waved a hand in the air to indicate imaginary headlines. "'Upperton U's Star Athletic Sweetheart dates Engineering Student.'"
Felix laughed at this, while George grinned widely. "George, I know Debra and I will not like to have that kind of attention. We've only been together for nearly a week since the ball, and we've only had time to see each other once since then."
George shrugged. "Nevertheless, I have no doubt you'll be the talk of the campuses, especially the athletic campus, next semester." He ate another fry.
Moaning, Felix nodded. "Yeah, like I said, I don't think Debra and I would want that kind of attention." He shrugged. "I just hope it will not be as bad as what has happened to Kim and Ron two years ago."
Waving a hand in dismissal, George scowled. "Don't go jinxing yourself, man." His scowl turned into a confident grin. "You and Deb will be okay, as long as you put yourselves into the relationship, you'll both work out fine."
Felix was amused and took a bite of burrito before replying. "When have you become a relationship counselor?"
"Me?" George pointed to himself before chuckling. "Nah, not me. I've only been on a few dates in high school, and nothing serious came out of them." He picked up a fry and waved it in air. "Let's just say after a year of hearing my roomie talk about nearly every bon-diggity moment with his gorgeous redhead girlfriend as well as some of the bad times, I pretty much ended up being a relationship counselor without a degree." He ate his fry with a grin as he watched Felix laughed.
"Felix!" a female voice called out, causing both men to turn to the source.
"Debra!" Felix grinned at the approaching smiling young woman in her winter parka.
When Debra reached Felix's chair, she immediately leaned down to capture his lips with hers. Both closed their eyes and just let themselves melt into the kiss.
"Ahem!" George pretended to clear his throat upon seeing the two continued to kiss regardless of their surroundings. "Are you two taking pointers from Kim and Ron on doing PDA's?"
Upperton U's newest couple broke the kiss and kept their blue eyes on each other. "Can it, Castle," both replied, smiling.
George chuckled and shook his head. "Yep, definitely taking pointers from Kim and Ron." Felix and Debra chuckled as well before their lips came together for a quick smooch.
"So how did your English final go?" Felix asked as Debra removed her backpack onto a chair to Felix's right before taking off her parka.
"Okay," she responded as she hung her coat over the back of the chair. "It was a simple two-page essay. Given my scores for the semester, I know I've easily passed English."
Felix beamed proudly at her. "Great!"
Debra grinned at him. "Thanks. Just one more final to take, and we can head home." Seeing her belongings were okay, she walked around Felix toward the food vendors. "Now excuse me, gentlemen, I'll be right back." She strolled away with Felix and George watching her.
Turning to his friend, George saw Felix was still staring at his girlfriend's form with a glazed smile. The architectural student snapped his fingers, startling the wheelchaired man out of his trance. "Boy, Felix! Enjoy watching your girlfriend's shapely figure?" George smirked. "Of course, you had her sitting in your lap at the ball, so no doubt you gotten to feel her as well, eh?"
A small growl escaped Felix's lips. "You're pushing things, George." His lips then curled into a small grin. George just shrugged and went back to eating his fries and burger, while Felix returned to finishing his burrito meal.
A few minutes later, Debra returned with a tray of Japanese-prepared food and a soda from Wong Chon's. She settled down and began to eat, as the men were nearly finished with their lunches.
"So, Deb, what else is happening besides the usual headaches of finals?" George asked with a grin to break the silence a few minutes after she began eating.
Debra shrugged while spooning some rice. "Oh, the usual, like the two weird sisters from the Tai Gamma Delta sorority house." She placed the spooned rice into her mouth.
Felix frowned. "They're still bothering you?" Even George frowned in concern.
"Yeah," the petite gymnast replied. "I never could understand why they kept insisting I sing for their house's band. It's annoying."
Watching her spoon more rice into her mouth, George shook his head before speaking. "Deb, I think you better report this."
This caught Debra's attention as she eyed the ponytailed man. "Why? The semester is nearly over, and it's likely I will not have the same classes with them next semester."
"That maybe true, Deb," Felix took over, "but it's possible they might not stop next semester. This is harassment, and you should report it before things might get worse."
Debra gave a small scoff. "Come on. It's no big, as Kim would say. Long as I ignore them, they'll leave me alone sooner or later." She sipped her soda as she held her gaze with her boyfriend's.
Sighing, Felix reached out to hold Debra's hand. "Deb, I still think you should report this."
Giving a reassuring grin, Debra squeezed his hand. "I'll be fine. I have one more final exam tomorrow to take before I can pack to go home. What could happen in one day?" Seeing she had not pacified his worries, she sighed and decided for a compromise. "How about this? At the first sign next semester that they continue their ways, I'll report it. If I report this incident now, it is likely campus security will not be able to do anything until next semester anyway."
Squeezing her hand in return, Felix knew she had a point. Looking at George, he could see even his friend couldn't argue against Debra's plan. Turning back to his girlfriend, the junior-year engineer nodded. "Okay, that makes sense." With a final squeeze and a smile, he let go of her hand.
Smiling in return, Debra returned to eating her lunch.
While George amusedly watched, Felix watched with a smile that masked how he felt. "I hope nothing happens in one day. Like she said what could possibly happen?"
"I hope she's right, George," Ron said as he lay on his dorm bed, reading a book. "It's only one more day, so we'll see tomorrow."
"Yeah," George admitted from his desk while he studied his notes for his last exam tomorrow. "She's a tough gal, and things should be okay."
The next day, Ron just needed to take his final for advance cultures class before the semester would be finally over for him. Today he had taken his cooking class final and, with Kim, the English final, which was a written exam as most English finals were anyway.
Yet his mind wondered about Debra. She was quite an amazing young woman, given her spirit, mind, and skills. An unique individual with a lot going for her. Ron grinned on the thought of Felix and Debra being boyfriend and girlfriend. Given what George had described how Debra had greeted Felix at the food court, he knew the pair would be quite passionate for each other, since they just started their relationship. It was the same with Kim and him when they had first started, and it took many months for them to cool down their enthusiasm somewhat.
Ron snorted a laugh. He certainly wished the new couple the best, for he liked the notion of Felix and Debra having found love in each other.
Sighing happily after closing his book, Ron rose from his bed, picked-up his pj's, and went to the bathroom. It was now close to 9 PM, and he decided to have a break and take a shower before hitting the books again for more studying. Tomorrow would be the final day of school, and afterward, he could go home and enjoy the holidays.
He smiled on the thought of spending yet another wonderful holiday season with his family and the Possibles. It was certainly felt like it was going to be another bon-diggity year.
Yet he rubbed his head on the thought of the final barrier he needed to pass tomorrow before even thinking of home-cooked holiday food, music playing, and watching yet again Snowman Hank.
Feeling confident that she has aced through this semester okay, Debra mentally grinned as she placed her book and notes for physics class in her backpack. Within an hour, she'd be starting the final exam for physics, and it would be the last exam for the semester.
Placing on her parka and gloves, she shouldered the backpack before heading out of the dorm room close to 2 PM. Loretta had left two hours ago to attend her last exam, so Debra locked the door before heading off.
Debra grinned upon seeing other girls of her dorm building already lugging duffle bags and luggage out of their dorm rooms. They already finished their exams and were in the process of leaving for home. The gymnastic athlete knew she would be doing the same by nightfall.
Since Felix's home was in Middleton like hers, he had offered her a ride home, and she accepted. It would be a great opportunity to introduce her boyfriend to her parents, whom she had told about Felix via email and phone. Besides also introducing her to his mother, the couple planned to spend some time together over the holiday break getting to know each other better.
Letting go a happy sigh as she left the dorm building, the freshman student placed her hands in her coat's pockets as she strolled off toward her physics class.
Unnoticed by Debra, two women, one blonde and one brunette, were watching her from the lobby of the adjacent girls' dorm building. Upon seeing the petite athlete had left, both strolled out of the building and walked the short distance to enter Debra's dormitory. They had seen Debra's roommate leave two hours ago, and now, as Debra has left, they were free to do what they wished.
Entering her dorm building, Loretta felt good that she had passed yet another hard working semester. Yeah, she knew her grades would not be processed for another couple of weeks, but she felt confident enough to know that she would be returning next semester.
After ascending the stairs to the second floor, the African-American walked down the hallway toward her room. She knew she had a lot to pack for the flight back to New York City.
As she drew near her room, she noticed something odd regarding the door. It was slightly opened, and she knew Debra was not the type to forget to lock and fully closed the door.
Feeling a sense that something was wrong, Loretta opened the door and walked inside to behold a sight that made her queasy and angry. She did not know how her roommate was going to react, but one thing was clear, Debra would not like it.
Taking out her cell phone, Loretta dialed a number before putting the phone up to her ear. "Hello, university security? …"
It was already dark when Debra left the building and headed back toward the dormitories. She was relieved that she had finished her last final exam, thus ending her first semester at Upperton U. She eagerly strolled along, knowing she couldn't wait until pack-up and the start of the winter recess.
As she approached her dorm building, she noticed many people were gathering near the building and the familiar form of a university security car parked next to the building. It was clear something had happened for security to be here, giving her bad vibes.
Just as she was near the car, a tall male security officer, standing next to the vehicle, spotted her. "Miss Tsuda?"
"Yes?" Her uneasiness increased, sensing the officer wouldn't have called her unless something had happened that would involve her.
The officer thumbed at her dormitory. "You're needed at your dorm room. We need your cooperation on what you know regarding the crime."
His words made her heart race. "Crime? At my dorm room?" she thought as she moved quickly toward the building's entrance. Her legs ran her up the stairs to the second floor and down the hall where a group of female students were gathering around outside her room.
"Let me through!" Debra cried out, and once the other girls recognized her, they parted to let her through. Their faces were a mix of sorrow and sympathy toward her.
Entering her room, the sight that greeted her made her eyes go wide in shock. "This can't be happening," she whispered.
Loretta, who had been talking to an elder security officer, turned to face her roomie once she had entered the room. Face full of sympathy with watery eyes, she walked the few steps and placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Deb," she softly said.
Dropping her backpack without taking her eyes off the display before her, Debra walked numbly further into the room.
Loretta's side of the room was the way it had been, but Debra's side was in complete shambles. The bed sheets and pillows were ripped up. The nightstand tossed aside, the lamp broken. The Japanese jewelry box, which was inside the nightstand's drawer, was smashed and the jewelry taken. Her notebook computer was in pieces on the floor, and some of her books and notes were torn and tossed everywhere. The small bulletin board above her desk was hanging crookedly on one hinge, the various notes ripped including the picture of her and Felix. Looking into the open closet, some of her clothes were torn, including the black dress she wore at the memorial and the Christmas ball.
Yet there was one thing on the floor in front of the closet, which made Debra's eyes shed tears down her cheeks as she raised a shaky hand to trembling lips. Her most treasured possession, the electronic musical keyboard synthesizer, was out of its casing and was smashed and broken into two large pieces.
Eyes still on the broken instrument, the young woman slowly backed away, unable to take in the horror before her. "This… can't… be… happening!" she finished the last word with a shout.
"Deb--," Loretta began, wanting to calm her distraught friend, as she took a few steps toward her.
"No!" Debra interrupted, tears streaming down her face. "Not here! It can't be happening here! Not again!" Before anyone could say or do anything, she sprinted out of the room, pushed pass the onlookers, and ran down the hall.
"DEBRA!" Loretta cried out, her own tears spilling out. She clenched a fist, closing her anguish eyes as she titled her head down. "Damn it! Who could do this to her!"
Debra left at the opposite side of the building from the security car. She just ran and ran. Tears still spilling out as she headed off, not caring for anyone she passed on the way. Her upset mind and heart urged her on to get far away as possible from the nightmare she found herself in.
Four figures, one in a wheelchair, walked away from Upperton University's main athletic complex. One woman and three men were quite frustrated yet worried that they weren't able to find their friend at the complex.
"Damn it!" Kim cried out as she walked along a path while holding her activated Kimmunicator in hand. "Where could she have gone?"
"Amp down, KP!" Ron placed a hand on her shoulder. "We'll find her! She couldn't have left the university."
"Ron's right," Wade Load spoken from the Kimmunicator, his 14-year-old face on the small screen. "I had checked the vids from various security cameras spread throughout the area Debra was last seen heading. As I said, she didn't take any bus or taxi, and since she doesn't have her own car or vehicle to drive away, she still has to be on university grounds."
Kim growled, not only out of disappointment on not finding Debra but also out of rage for what had happened to the younger woman.
Three hours ago, Loretta had called her, via cell phone, and told her the entire sitch, which made the redhead heroine and Monique shocked and outraged. Both girls had observed the university security from their dorm room and had wondered what was going on. Loretta's story had brought a bad case of déjà vu, remembering the day Debra was kidnapped.
Scrambling to help out in the search with campus security, Kim told Loretta to call Felix, while she would call Ron and George. All three men immediately joined her, while Monique would go and stay with Loretta. George and Felix told Kim of what Debra had told them at the food court, and it became obvious to all who the likely suspects were in committing the crime against Upperton U's star gymnast. Soon after George and Felix told their story, Kim contacted Wade for his help, not only in helping find Debra but also gathering any evidence on the culprits.
As all four moved along, Kim glanced over to Felix, who wore an expression like he wanted to murder someone, not even bothered the slightest with the cold night air. She couldn't blame him for being perhaps angrier than any of them. Just last Saturday he and Deb had become a couple, and this tragedy had to befall his girlfriend.
Seeing Kim eyeing him, Felix shook his head as the four of them approached an intersection in the path. "Don't bother, Kim," he snarled. "I'm not going to amp down my feelings. I still very much want to strangle those two sorority girls for doing this to Debra."
"As do the rest of us," George said. "Just, I don't think it would do Debra any good to have her boyfriend going on a vendetta."
"Listen to him, Felix-kun," a male voice spoke out, starling the four to face the intersected left pathway. They watched as a middle-aged Japanese couple came toward them, both in winter coats.
"Mr. and Mrs. Tsuda!" Kim said, still shocked to see them. Ron was also shocked upon seeing them, but Felix and George were even more so, as this was the first time they'd met Debra's adopted parents.
As the Tsudas reached them, both gave sad grins to the four students. "Possible-san, Stoppable-san," Takai Tsuda greeted. "It's good to see you both again." He turned to George. "I presumed you must be George Castle." George only nodded in response.
"What are you two doing here?" Kim asked, even though she knew the answer.
Akina Tsuda eyed Kim. "It's quite obvious, Possible-san. We're here to find our daughter."
Mr. Tsuda took over explaining. "Loretta-chan only just remembered more than an hour ago to call us. She told us what has happened, and we've just now arrived."
Eying the four students, Mrs. Tsuda gave a sad, kind grin. "Please understand us. You are great friends to Debra-chan," she held Felix's gaze, "especially you, Felix-kun, given she told us you've recently become special to her."
"Yet you do not know her well as we do," Mr. Tsuda continued. "We know her well enough that if she wants to hide, she would go to a place where it is unlikely anyone would be around."
"And where would that be, Mr. Tsuda?" Ron asked. Even Rufus, from the front pocket of Ron's coat, bobbed his head in agreement with the question.
Mr. Tsuda's gaze held Ron's. "Despite the large size of Upperton University, my wife and I agreed that there is only one place where it is unlikely anyone would bother to check, given it is unlikely possible anyone would think anyone would gain access to the place to hide."
With that said, he raised his right index finger up, and everyone followed the direction to look at the structure indicated – Upperton University's clock tower.
The clock tower was one of the oldest structures in all of Upperton University. Dated back to days of the university's early years, it was more than 100 years old with many renovations and repairs made over its existence. It was built then to give people the time, and many then made their schedules around the bells of the clock as it made a single bell strike every 15 minutes and telling the hour by ringing the bells the number of times for the hour indicated. Though present-day people no longer needed the clock to tell the time, its bells still sound out of tradition, yet it was modified to forgo the 15 minute chimes and keep the hourly chimes.
Not only was the clock tower one of the oldest structures, it also happened to be the tallest for miles/kilometers around. Situated in the eastern section of the university, the tower could be seen from almost anywhere on university grounds, and it also made a great reference point for people traveling on the nearby interstate highway. Taller than even the athletic stadium yet narrow, it was close to 10 stories in height, composed of a steel frame with exterior light color blocks topped with a copper plated pyramid roof. The clock gears & works on top were able to turn the clock hands for all four sides, and the round glass clock faces were able to allow the clocks to be lit from the inside, allowing people to read the time even at night.
Approaching the base of the tower, which was surrounded by a small park, six people looked up to the top, seeing the time was nearing 9 PM. Ground lights shining up onto it lighted the tower. They walked around the base until they found the steel entrance door. It only took a moment to see that someone picked the lock, and the door was slightly opened.
Mr. Tsuda opened the door to reveal the interior and the staircase leading up to the top. He turned to the group of young adults. "It is best that few people come. If Debra is distressed as Loretta-chan has said, it would be best not to overwhelm her." He pointed to the three university men. "You three stay here. Kim-san will come with us." All four nodded in agreement.
Kim looked down at her Kimmunicator in hand. "I think it's best to sign off for now, Wade. I'll let you know if we find her."
"Will do, Kim," Wade replied. The small screen blipped off before Kim pocketed the device.
With that done, the Tsudas entered the tower followed by Kim, and all three ascended the stairs. It took them many minutes before they reached the top and another steel door. Given this door didn't have a lock, it was easy to open, since no one thought anyone could get through the entrance door.
Walking into the vast clock room, all three saw it was what they expected. Turning gears and levers took up almost the entire room with four bells. Obviously it wasn't on a grand size as Big Ben in London, United Kingdom, but it was still large enough to strike most people who ventured into the room with awe. The inside of the copper plated pyramid roof could be seen above the clock machinery.
Knowing his daughter wouldn't be within the area of the moving gears and levers, Mr. Tsuda, on a hunch, led the way toward the opposite side of the room from the staircase exit. Surely enough as they approach the other side, they could hear the sounds of soft sobbing over the tick-tocking of the clock.
Mrs. Tsuda rushed forth around a corner, followed by her husband and Kim, to see Debra sitting against the wall close to the glass clock face with her knees drawn up and her arms wrapped around her legs. She was weeping with her forehead resting on her knees, cheeks strewn with tear trails.
"Debra-chan," Mrs. Tsuda spoke softly, startling her daughter, her puffy, wet eyes wide with fear for a moment, until she recognized the three people before her.
/"Mother,"/ Debra responded just as softly in Japanese, and quickly, mother knelt down and both women embraced. As Debra cried on her mother's shoulder, Mrs. Tsuda tenderly stroked her daughter's hair, while speaking soothing words into her ear.
Seeing the younger woman so distraught, Kim couldn't stop her own tears from silently flowing. She clenched a fist, once again feeling fury that anyone could be so cruel to her friend.
/"Why!"/ Debra almost wailed as her tears continued to spill. /"Why does it have to happen here! I thought we had escaped this!"/
/"I am sorry, Debra-chan,"/ Mrs. Tsuda said, a tear or two escaping her eyes
Feeling and hearing Debra's weeping somewhat waning after a few minutes, Mrs. Tsuda pushed Debra back a bit to look into her tear-stained face. Still stroking her brown/blonde hair, she kept her eyes locked onto her daughter's blue ones. "We have to go back to your dorm room, Debra-chan."
Hiccupping between words, Debra shook her head. "No… I don't… want to go… back."
"We have no choice, Debra-chan," Mr. Tsuda replied with tenderness. "You must report what you know about who could be responsible for this crime against you. Then we can pick-up whatever remains of your belongings and return home."
Eyes on her father's, Debra thought it over for a minute and then slowly nodded. "Hai," she whispered.
Mrs. Tsuda slightly grinned. "Besides, it is near 9 o'clock now. I presume your ears must be ringing from the past few hours."
Despite still feeling miserable and torn, Debra couldn't help but produce a small laugh, making even Kim and Mr. Tsuda grinned slightly. "Hai," she choked. "I think I have enough of hearing bells for a while."
Taking a few steps toward them, Mr. Tsuda reached down and helped his wife and daughter stand up, and with a hand on her back, the patriarch of the Tsuda clan gently pushed her daughter to move. "Come. From what your roommate told us, Debra-chan, you have completed your last final exam today. The semester is now over for you. You can rest now."
Debra nodded as she moved along, still clinging to her mother, who had an arm around her shoulder. So with the Tsuda women leading the way, the group ventured to the staircase and descended down to the bottom where Felix, Ron, Rufus, and George were waiting outside to greet them.
"Debra?" Felix said upon seeing her. He very much wanted to come forward to offer comfort and support.
Lips trembling, the petite athlete shook her head and tore her gaze away from his. "Not now, Felix," she nearly whimpered as she felt on the verge of another tear-filled breakdown. "Not now."
Eying each other, the elder Tsudas spoke wordlessly, and Mrs. Tsuda nodded. Without saying anything, she led her daughter away from the tower onto the path toward the dormitories. Unable to control herself, Debra sobbed anew, causing Felix, Ron, and George to feel saddened. Even Rufus couldn't help but feel like crying as Kim took a few steps toward Ron, wrapped an arm around him, and placed her head on his shoulder. He returned the hug, offering comfort.
Felix felt his heart in an emotional tight grip. Seeing his girlfriend so much in pain made him want very much to help her. Anything to eased her grief. Yet Mr. Tsuda placed a hand on his shoulder, and once their eyes connected, the elder man shook his head.
"I can see you very much want to help her, Felix-kun. Yet now is not the time to do so. She needs to grieve over what has happened, and hopefully she will let you in when she needs you." He sighed. "I know Debra-chan was planning to return to Middleton with you, yet under the new circumstances, I think it is best her mother and I take her home."
Even as Debra and Mrs. Tsuda were getting further away, the group was startled when the agitated star sports champion shouted out in anger toward no one. "I HATE THEM! I HATE THEM! I HAAATE THEMMMMMM!"
Kim closed her eyes and buried her face into the crook of her boyfriend's shoulder, feeling her tears spill onto his jacket. Ron, tightening his arm around his girlfriend, felt like his heart was about to break. George stood there feeling numb, while Felix felt useless.
As the minute hand of the clock tower struck nine, the bells started to ring out. It was at this moment that Mr. Tsuda hung his head down as he released his hand from Felix's shoulder. He closed his eyes, feeling ashamed. /"We have made a mistake my wife and I."/ He shook his head as he raised it to stare after his beloved wife and crying daughter as a single tear escaped his eye. /"We have made a mistake."/
Walking into the room, the aid held a newspaper in hand. "Master."
Master Shimizu swiveled on his chair to face his aid, who held out the newspaper to him. Taking it from him, his eyes scanned the article mentioned on the second page of the Upperton Gazette. His mouth slowly curled into a satisfied grin as he raised his eyes to his aid. "Excellent. Just as I had foreseen it would happen."
Turning his chair around to face his desk, Master Shimizu read the article out loud. "Debra Oxford Tsuda, Upperton University's star gymnast, has yesterday been a victim of a crime made, according to Miss Tsuda's report to police and university security, by fellow students, who destroyed Tsuda's personal property out of revenge for not participating in a music band. Police and university security are currently conducting an investigation into two female freshmen students of the Tai Gamma Delta sorority house, which constantly has asked Tsuda to join their band but was repeatedly rejected. University security has mentioned that it is likely the two women would be indicted in the crime according to video evidence and witnesses who claimed they saw the two women entered Tsuda's dorm building and room.
"Reports indicated Miss Tsuda has suffered an emotional breakdown upon seeing her personal possessions destroyed. With the semester over, she has returned to her home in Middleton to stay with her family. All requests for comments were denied, and the family firmly asked for respect of their privacy in this time of personal lost."
Master Shimizu once more turned his chair to face his aid. "This is what we've been waiting for. With her singing abilities exposed, it was only a matter of time before someone would harass her and eventually take it further. In the end, her past from Japan finally has caught up with her."
He pointed a finger to his aid and rose from his chair. "Phase II is complete. We'll begin preparations for Phase III immediately. We'll be returning to Japan at once."
The aid bowed as Master Shimizu lowered his finger. "It'll be done, Master." With that said, he left the room.
Still giving a pleased grin, Master Shimizu turned to his desk and look down at an 11-day-old newspaper photo of Debra Oxford Tsuda in her Upperton University gymnastics leotard with her long hair in a tight bun. The shot showed her smiling after making a perfect jump and landing on the vault during the road-competition against Florida University. The article besides the picture indicated Upperton's easy victory over Florida.
"There is no doubt you'll be returning to Japan soon, Miss Tsuda," he grinned. "No doubt at all, and I'll be waiting for you there."
After story A/N:
1) This story has been quite difficult for me to write. It was not just the emotional drama of what has happened to Debra (Writing those scenes truly made my eyes watered at times), it was just that I had no idea how I would write up the plot leading up to the dramatic stuff. I knew what I wanted Debra to experience at the end, yet I had a case of writer's block on writing up the beginning, the middle, etc. This was why it had taken me just as long to write-up this story as "'Tis the Season." So in the end, I think this story may have come out to be not one of my best written in the TUY series.
Yet this story was necessary, given it is part of a story arc I have in mind; an arc that started with "To Help a Friend" and eventually will tell more about the character of Debra Oxford Tsuda and her past. Therefore, this is what some of you have been waiting for, the end of Phase II and the start of Phase III. :)
2) I can hear some people think that Debra's reaction to her belongings being smashed seemed OOC for a strong woman who can do martial arts. All will be explain in upcoming stories on why she reacted this way. As Master Shimizu said, her past has caught up with her.
3) I just want to say that I only guessed how tough university finals would be. This is university, and I don't think it's easy compared to community college. For anyone familiar with the popular comic strip "For Better or For Worse", I've watched the comic characters of Michael and Elizabeth Patterson went to university and had tough times when it came to projects, exams, etc. I pretty much based how difficult university work must be for the TUY gang based on the "For Better or For Worse" comic strip.
4) After thinking about it long and hard, I had decided that it is best that I seek a new beta-reader and let Spitfire F.22 go from the position. He's very busy with school. Such I believe it's for the best he is let go so he can focus totally on his school work and I can find someone else who least can do just a good job at a faster time than two weeks.
So I hereby opening the beta-reader position for anyone who wouldn't mind beta-reading my stories and have a sneak-peak of my stories before anyone else does. :) Just I want to remind everyone that the beta-reader has to not only correct any spelling and grammar errors but also help in editting any ackward sentences and still keep the original meaning/point of the sentences.
If anyone is interested in becoming my new beta-reader, let me know either via email (email addy in my Author Profile) or via private note through DeviantArt. Thanks. :)
And best of luck to you, Spitfire F.22! You've done a wonderful job as my beta-reader in the past many months, and I wish you well in your endeavors whatever they may be. :)