A little one-shot I couldn't get out of my head last week. R&R!
"To the truth." 15 year-old Jimmy Neutron raised his can of Purple Flurp.
"Yeah," Cindy Vortex gulped before touching her can to his, "the truth,"
Only hours earlier, the two had managed to receive detention for the fifth time that month. The principal had told them that unless they could work out their "issues", she would have no choice but to take more serious actions, including expulsion if the problems worsened.
"Well obviously I don't want to get expelled, Neutron!" Cindy had said while they were eating lunch together, a rare occurrence in itself.
"Well, obviously, Vortex, none of this would have happened if you hadn't argued with me in the middle of my presentation!"
"Well, obviously I wouldn't have to if you would stop being such a big, show-offy jerk!"
As you can imagine, this went on for quite some time. Only when an additional hour of detention was threatened by the lunch-duty teacher did the discussion become less heated.
"We have a problem," Jimmy said quietly into his untouched food.
"Duh, Nerd-tron! This is like the 10th detention we've gotten this month! My mom's gonna kill me!"
Their other friends stayed silent at the table, aware that they were having a "moment". Libby rolled her eyes and Carl stole her pudding.
"It's only the 5th time, and that's not quite the problem I was talking about,"
"Then what are you talking about?"
"Maybe if you would let me finish-" Jimmy unclenched his fists and sighed, "See? This is what I'm talking about. We're constantly at each other's throats and it's impeding my progress scientifically, it's hampering our abilities to perform in school, and it's just... not healthy. Scientific studies show that high stress levels-"
"Neutron..." she growled, the universal sign that things were about to go very bad, very quickly.
"...This is stressful, Cindy, and, we should try to... fix it somehow... remedy the harmful situation."
After a few mildly unhelpful suggestions from Carl, and a lot of very unhelpful suggestions from Sheen, Libby finally suggested that maybe, just maybe, they weren't being totally honest with each other.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"What are you talking about?"
Libby couldn't help but laugh at the twin looks of denial on their faces.
"All you guys need is the truth. You need to be completely honest with each other, and then you can resolve everything,"
Jimmy stole a glance to Cindy, who was looking thoughtful. Jimmy was slightly horrified. He felt a need to stop this plan before it was set into motion any more, "First of all, I think we're pretty honest with each other... that's why we have all these problems," Libby looked at him skeptically and he caved, "Okay, but... how can we assure total honesty? I mean, I don't have any inventions that would-"
There was a large smacking sound as Carl emerged from a pudding cup, covered in chocolate, "Well, sure you do, Jim," the table fell silent and all four friends slowly turned to look at him, "you've got that yummy prune whip."
"Carl, what are you talking about?" Cindy glared at Jimmy briefly before returning her focus to the chubby red-head.
"Jimmy has this stuff in his lab that makes you tell the truth and I ate it once, and it was really good. Hey Jimmy: do you have more of that stuff? It was really yummy and I'm kinda hungry." Carl rubbed his stomach and smiled wistfully at the memory.
Jimmy had stared at him, mouth open, shocked and terrified for three reasons.
1.) Carl was hungry? He had ingested enough food for at least 4 fully-grown men in the last 3 minutes.
2.) The existence of his truth serum had just been revealed, though Carl had only experienced it in its experimental stage. It was now complete and worked like a charm.
3.) He could feel the Cindy's burning glare on his face like a white hot poker. He turned around guiltily to Cindy, who looked as if she had a mind to break him in two.
"See?" Libby pointed, "Honesty problems!"
And so, there they were, three hours later, in their detention, about to down the truth serum mixed into their Purple Flurps. Jimmy had tried to worm his way out of using the serum, Cindy had called him a coward and asked what he'd had to hide. Jimmy had lied again and said he had nothing to hide, and rocketed to the lab before the detention to get the serum to prove that James Isaac Neutron was not a coward.
The detention advisor had left them in the first three minutes of the scheduled hour, and had trusted them to stay until 4:00.
Jimmy was just about to touch the can to his lips when Cindy grabbed his wrist, "How am I gonna know if this worked? What if you just gave it to me... or took some antidote or something?"
Jimmy rolled his eyes, "We can switch cans or something if you want; I don't really care. I put an hour's worth of truth serum into both of them, and as far as I know, there is no antidote. As for finding out if it worked," he struggled with the power he was about to give up, "you can ask the first question."
He was about to take the sip when Cindy grabbed his wrist again, "Why are you being so helpful?"
"You're a very difficult person to deal with, Vortex, and I just want to get this over with so I can go home,"
"Oh," Cindy's face fell a little, "The rule is only one question per turn, right?" Jimmy nodded affirmatively and she looked at the can in her hand for a few seconds before finally downing it. Jimmy did the same and they sat in silence for a moment, "Oh, right. I get the first question," she thought for a second, "How do you get into your lab?"
Jimmy glared, but the truth serum forced him to answer, "There's a DNA scanner to the left of the door. I can just hold up one of my hairs and it comes right open,"
Cindy grinned triumphantly, "Okay, I believe you. This stuff definitely works, unlike most of your other inventions..."
"For progress' sake I'm going to ignore that last comment. It's my turn," Jimmy drummed his fingers on the desk thoughtfully, "Why were you so gung-ho about this truth thing?"
Cindy considered for a moment, "You're very confusing, and pretty dishonest sometimes, so I want to know what you're thinking. Plus, I don't think it would be such a bad thing if maybe we got along a little better."
Jimmy blinked at the candidness with which she answered, "Oh," he said quietly, "It's um, it's your turn,"
"Okay," Cindy looked him straight in the eye for the first time all afternoon, "Why are you such a show-off? Always bringing your inventions to school and putting the town in mortal danger and such. I've always wanted to ask that one,"
The longest pause yet occurred as Jimmy stared back at her, "I want to impress people with what I can do," he winced at his own words, but not being able to stop them, he continued, "But mostly I want to try and prove that I'm better than you, because, sometimes, even with my high IQ and all that, I'm not sure that I am."
Now it was Cindy's turn to blink disbelievingly. Jimmy thought of her as an equal? Sure, that wasn't exactly what he'd said, but if you minced some of his words... Basically, he considered her an intellectual threat.
"So, you're actually showing off for my benefit?" Her eyes lit up.
"Yeah, but you're cheating. That's your second question this round,"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Cindy said it without thinking and Jimmy stared at her, bug-eyed.
"Okayyy, this situation just became even stranger," he scooted away a little.
"What do you mean?"
"You just said 'I'm sorry' and obviously meant it," He scooted in closer to her and asked jokingly, "who are you?"
"I'm Cindy Vortex. Do you want that to count as your question?" She asked smoothly.
"No. Do you want that to count as yours?"
"Sure, whatever. Either way, it's my turn again." Cindy looked around the room for inspiration, "Umm, do you still like... Betty Quinlan?" she grimaced at how desperate it made her seem.
Jimmy opened his mouth, fearing what was about to come out, "No." he said simply, shocking both himself and Cindy.
"No?" She asked, trying to conceal her happiness.
"I guess not," Jimmy smiled.
"Then, who do-"
Jimmy cut her off quickly, even more alarmed at what her half-formed question would become and what his answer would be, "Only one question at a time, Vortex. Now, why do you want to know if I like Betty?" he asked slyly.
"The attention you gave her and way you stared at her made me physically ill," she answered truthfully, satisfied that she wasn't giving too much away with her answer. Jimmy seemed to feel the same way, as his face fell a little at her words. She was dancing around the answer exquisitely, "Do you like someone else?" Cindy bit her lip and stared hopefully at him.
Jimmy raised his head to look at her again. How could she even ask this? Maybe she just wanted to be sure... He noticed that she hadn't asked who he liked... which was good, because if she did, he would have had to tell her, "Yes. I like someone else. A lot." He cursed science and himself for inventing a truth serum... seriously, what a terrible idea.
Cindy, on the other hand was ecstatic at his revelation. She was dying to ask who it was, but she knew she had just used up her one question. It was like intellectual chess: one move at a time.
Jimmy tried to think of a way to phrase his query so that it fit into one question, "Do want to know who I like because you like someone, too?" he asked slowly and Cindy shrugged offhandedly, but her answer didn't quite match her gesture.
"Yeah," she winced at her own honesty, avoiding his eyes, though she could now feel them on her, searching her face. She then remembered that it was her turn, "So, you meant it, on Mars, when you admitted you liked me."
Jimmy stared and gulped, "Oh. Yeah. Technically I didn't say that I liked you-"
"But, do you?" Cindy held her breath for his answer.
"You're cheating again!"
"No, I'm not! The first one was a statement you just happened to agree with, the second one was actually a question, so answer it!"
Jimmy realized that she was right, and faltered under her gaze. Burying his face in his hands, he answered as quietly as he could, "yes, Vortex, I like you. Happy now?"
Cindy put her head down on her hands, conscious of the pain she was causing him, and more conscious of the fact that it was bothering her, "Yeah," she answered, not sure if he was totally aware he had asked a question, but being forced to answer because he had anyways, "Because I like you, too."
Jimmy looked over at her, suddenly and smiled sheepishly, "Then... why do we fight all the time?"
"I don't know," Cindy answered truthfully.
"I don't know, either,"
The honest silence hung in the air like an ugly curtain as the seconds ticked on.
"So... You obviously don't hate me like you tell me you do," Cindy grabbed her own forearm, a nervous habit of hers.
"Right back at you."
"Okay, umm... Back on that last few minutes on the island, when I asked, were you seriously considering... staying?"
Jimmy noted that her face mirrored the expression it had at that event: a little embarrassed, and both hopeful and utterly hopeless at the exact same time.
He remembered back to that day on the beach several years previously, "Yeah. I really was." he smiled at her, "Um, back when we were trying to escape the League of Villains in that crater, do you remember what you were going to say... to me, before I interrupted you?"
Cindy froze. Of course she remembered. She had been about to tell him that she... loved him. She'd thought their lives had been about to end, though.
It had literally been the last thing in the world she'd wanted to admit, "Yes. I remember,"
Jimmy opened his mouth and shut it again just as quickly. Technically she'd answered his question. Now he couldn't ask what he'd really wanted to know until the next question. He watched carefully as she subconsciously felt her cheek, where he remembered he had kissed her for helping him figure out how to escape.
Weakly, Cindy asked what she knew would be the final question before he asked... and she confessed, "Why do you want to know what I was going to say?"
A hundred answers filled his brain, but he knew only one would satisfy both of them.
"I wanted to know so I could find out," he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, steeling himself for the most important words of his life, "... if you loved me, too."
Whatever she had been expecting, this wasn't it. Her mind simply quit working as she stared, dumbfounded at the boy genius. He was carefully avoiding her eyes, an art form he had mastered over the last hour.
"Do you?" he asked, almost too quietly to be heard, resting his brow in his hands so that his eyes were hidden from her view.
She still couldn't respond. Jimmy had just confessed to… loving her. She couldn't answer this without giving the truth of the previous second at least a minute to sink in.
Unfortunately, the truth serum forced her to answer. She nodded.
He looked up suddenly, eyes alight, smiling in the subtle way that he did that caused her to dissolve right on the spot. His eyes told her that he finally knew the truth she had guarded with her life for the past 4 years.
He tapped his fingers on the desktop, glancing to the clock as he did so. Two minutes of honesty left.
Cindy watched him apprehensively, "So… your secret's out." She pointed out in a weak attempt to gain the upper hand.
"And yours as well," Jimmy countered.
Cindy bit her lip and propped her face up on her hand, staring intently at Jimmy's empty Flurp can. A few loose strands of golden hair fell across her face and Jimmy stared at her, transfixed, "What do we do now?" she asked hesitantly.
Jimmy kept staring and her, drinking in her beauty, and opened his mouth, forgetting that the serum was still in effect, "I really wanted to kiss you just now,"
Cindy's head snapped up, eyes wide, and Jimmy covered his mouth, his eyes even wider. She smiled widely and raised her eyebrows, "Oh, really?" she asked, leaning in a little closer.
"Yes, really," Jimmy covered his mouth again and sighed in defeat, "Stop asking me questions!"
"Or what?" she asked, tilting her head to the side in mock curiosity.
"I'll have to start asking you questions."
Jimmy realized at the same time she did that they were no longer at eye level. He was looking down into her eyes and there was no longer a table between them; they were both standing up, less than a foot apart.
"Fire away," Cindy said nervously, aware that the distance between them was closing fast.
"Okay, well, I was wondering what you would do if I…"
Jimmy stopped, and with a hint of a devilish grin, slid his arm around the small of her back, pulling her to him, her lips colliding with his satisfactorily.
She was surprised for a second, but quickly moved her arms to his chest and shoulders, answering his question in a nonverbal but very satisfying way.
Jimmy broke the kiss after only a few seconds, smiling euphorically, "Oh." He said quietly, watching her open her eyes numbly, "Good to know,"
With that, he slowly freed his body from her arms, picked up his school bag, and headed for the door. He was a few steps out into the hallway when he felt the fingers of a small, smooth hand slide in between his.
He looked over, smiling as she fell into step beside him. They walked down the hallway, hand-in-hand and out in to the bright afternoon sunlight, having no idea what lie ahead.
He could have said right then that it was the happiest day of his life, and though the serum had finally worn off, it would have been the complete and utter truth.