The usual legal disclaimers apply. Kim Possible and associated characters are the property of the Disney Company. I have no rights to them beyond what allows. All other characters, situations and events are either the product of my imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance, well, you get the drift.
I was tempted to take this chapter a little farther, but decided to put the players in motion and just see what happens.
From the Inside
As it turned out, the three friends did not have to ask about their classmate. An assembly was called in the school gymnasium at announcements the next morning.
Natasha Ryder had composed herself after her lapse in the staff lounge the day before. She walked up to the podium on the stage. There was the usual delay while the students sorted themselves out. Behind her, the staff of the school, with the exception of the chief custodian, were lined up, as if providing reinforcement. Tasha had decided that they needed to present a united front to combat such a serious issue. Next to her at the microphone was Officer Hobble, of the Middleton Police Department.
"People, please, let's have some quiet here." Once set on the path of a decision, Principal Ryder was not one to be swayed. This was her school, and she would have everyone remember that fact. Her apparent youth might have been a problem in her position, if she didn't compensate with strength of personality.
"As some of you will have heard, Jeremy Smythe is not with us today. He was taken to the hospital the night before last. He nearly died because he had taken drugs. Drugs that were bought here, on school property." There were murmurs and looks being cast about among the students sitting on the gym floor. "That's right. He got them here, and somebody knows something." This last statement resulted in even more rumblings out in the crowd of adolescents.
"While we are here, there are police and dogs searching the school. Your parents were informed yesterday in the letters that we gave to each of you here. If there are drugs present, they will be found." A number of faces out in the room paled a little at that. "If you have anything that might help us in finding out where these drugs are coming from, you can come to any of the teachers, or to Officer Hobble. He will be in the school, off and on, until we sort it all out."
From her place on the stage, Sarah Go had been watching the students. She was well versed in all of the signs of stress and deceit. How many times had she watched marks insist that they would pay back the mob loan sharks she had worked for in her early days of crime? The first thing she saw was the pale faces among a few of the older students. A couple had looked ready to bolt when they found out that the school was being searched. She made a mental note to have a word or two with Officer Hobble. When she looked to where her own home room class was sitting, she noticed a girl who didn't really belong there.
Amy Rice was sitting to one side of Ron Garvin. On his other side, Leanne Barton was leaning forward, whispering to her. For his part, Ron was looking around the gym. Following his gaze, she saw that it was aimed in the general direction of the older students. There was a questioning expression on his face, as if he were trying to puzzle something out. Then it hit her. "He's looking for somebody with guilt written on their face!" This was confirmed when she saw him look at one of the students that she had noticed. He gave a satisfied little nod of his head, and proceeded to whisper with his companions. When Leanne happened to look her way, Sarah resumed her search of the room, pretending she had never noticed the three of them.
"I'm going to have to watch those three." Sarah considered them carefully. It was impossible not to compare them with a certain red haired woman that she knew. "If they aren't very careful, they are going to get themselves into something very dangerous." It was one thing to want to do what you knew was right. It was something else to start poking around dangerous people. There was no doubt in her mind that the kind of people who would bring drugs into the school and threaten a child's family if he talked were capable of just about anything.
Office Hobble took the Principal's place at the lectern. "Look, this is a serious problem, kids. A boy just about died two nights ago. All we know is that he bought the pills he took from somebody here. If we work together, we can find out where it's coming from and put a stop to it now, before anybody else gets hurt." The portly officer looked around the room. It was pretty clear that nobody was going to come forward in front of everybody. That wasn't exactly unexpected. It didn't help that he was talking down to the kids, as if they didn't know what was at stake.
Sarah and Tasha exchanged quick looks. Both of them knew that it was pointless trying to get a young person to talk about something they didn't want to. Especially if you treated them like they were five. It was all Sarah could do not to roll her eyes at the farcical expression on Hobble's face. The guy was a good honest cop, but he couldn't read people no matter how open they were. It was one of the reasons that Drakken had set up shop in Middleton in the first place. The cops never even questioned the lair or a hover car zipping around the city. It was pretty clear that they would have to leave the search to the police and deal with the students themselves.
An officer came to the edge of the stage and gestured at Hobble, who relinquished the microphone. As he walked over to the officer, Tasha again spoke to the mass of kids sprawled on the floor of the gym.
"Look, you've all heard the lectures, both here and at home. I'm not going to repeat them. Just remember this, if you know something and don't tell us, you could be letting somebody in this room get seriously hurt, possibly even die." Tasha let that one sink in for a moment. The diminutive woman made eye contact with as many students as possible. It was well known that Ms. Ryder was a tough but fair woman who cared about what happened to others. If you had a problem, you could always go to her, and never worry about being judged. "It's up to you people. You aren't little kids anymore that have to be watched every second of every day. Each of you is capable of doing what is right."
Sarah saw three faces down on the floor. Leanne Barton was nodding in agreement with what her principal was saying. Amy Rice was looking nervous, but determined. Ron's face was a mask. He might have looked to most like he was not paying attention. It was the subtle body language that struck Sarah. The shoulders were tensed up, and one hand was a fist, barely hidden next to his leg. This did not bode well. As much as she liked being a member of Team Possible, she knew that some quests for justice came with a very steep price tag. Getting angry was not going to solve the problem.
Suddenly, the words that she had been hearing at the team meeting the night before hit her. If she took out the first person in the chain of this drug operation, they would lose everything. The real scum would just pack up and move on, and some other child would get hurt. Worse, they could decide to make an example of a random student or staff member. As much as it hurt, she was going to have to be patient, watch and find somebody who needed to be brought to answer for crimes committed. She had to channel her anger and fears. Looking at Ron Garvin, she made up her mind to share her epiphany.
Officer Hobble returned to the stage. Beckoning to Tasha, he looked out over the floor. He spoke to her in a low tone, so that only she and a few of the teachers on stage could hear. Ed Convey, the man who had put his hand on Tasha's shoulder the day before was listening quite intently.
"We've come up blank. The dogs signalled at three lockers, but when the custodian opened them, there wasn't anything there anymore. It's clear that drugs had been there from the sniffer dogs' reactions, but all that's left is trace amounts, nothing we could prosecute with." He looked the principal in the eyes. "It's like somebody knew there was going to be a search, and dumped anything incriminating. You did lock the place down yesterday, didn't you? Before you handed out the sealed notices to the parents?"
"I did exactly as you told me. The notices were passed out as the children left the building. Nobody was permitted back in." Tasha was both indignant and astonished. "My vice-principal, Ed Convey was with me when we supervised the custodial staff, as was Ian Wright, who worked with your people during the search."
"Well, I guess you can let the students go back to class. Until we can get anything else, we're going to want to question the kids that are assigned" he paused to check the paper that his colleague had given him. "lockers 346, 670 and 429. Those are the three the dogs signalled at."
"Alright, I'll meet you at the office and get you those names." She returned to the lectern. "Okay, the police have finished their search. All of you are to go to your normal first class. No one is to leave school grounds without permission."
All around the room, students picked themselves up off of the floor. Sarah left the stage with the rest of the teachers, and made her way to her first geography class. As she passed by them, she saw the three young people whisper final words to each other. Ron and Leanne made a left at the first corner, headed for a class in another section of the building. Amy was on her way to Sarah's classroom, being a student in that class. Sarah considered pulling the young blonde girl aside and asking her just what she and her friends were up to. She decided, in the end, that it would be better to confront the threesome as a group.
During the lunch break; Ron, Lea and Amy gathered at a corner table in the cafeteria. The young man had taken a seat where he could watch the rest of the room, and the teacher that was making rounds. Mr. Convey was prowling the tables at random, listening to various conversations.
"Okay, so now we know exactly what happened to Jeremy. I still don't see what you think we can do about it." Amy was picking away at the sandwich that her mother had packed for her. She still wore the nervous expression that had appeared back in the yard the day before. "We're just grade six kids. The older kids don't even know we exist, how are we supposed to figure out who is doing what?"
Lea put down the drink box she had been sipping from. "We have eyes don't we? All we have to do is watch the guys that don't seem to fit in. One of them has to be selling. If we don't see anything after a couple of days, we move on to the next one, until we see something." She took another bite of the cookie she had in her other hand. "Then we pounce on the guy and drag him down to Principal Ryder."
Ron followed the conversation and nudged Lea's knee with his when he saw Mr. Convey heading down the aisle towards them. When she was about to ask him what the deal was, she saw him look up.
"Hi Mr. Convey." Ron kept his tone casual, as if the three of them had been discussing nothing more important than the latest show on the cartoon network.
"Enjoying your lunch, kids?" The large man looked down at them absently. Every now and then, his gaze drifted over to a table of older kids.
"Yes sir." Amy gulped a bit of her sandwich down and smiled wanly at the teacher.
When the man had left their table, Ron looked over to the brunette next to him. "Lea, it's not that easy. I've been doing some reading on the internet. When drug dealers move into an area, they don't get pushed out easily. We try to take him on, and we could be in for some serious hurt. Remember what happened when you set that trap for the grade eight bully that was stealing lunches last month?"
"Hey, that would have worked if the rubber band hadn't broken! We still managed to prove it was Gonzales didn't we?"
"That's not the point. Whoever sold Jeremy the drugs isn't going to stop at trying to slug you with a text book."
"He's right, Lea." Amy pointed at Ron. "This is big, too big for us."
Ron looked to the door where he saw that Mr. Convey was speaking with one of the boys that he had noticed at the assembly. The man was looking down at him and shaking his head, while the boy had a hand in his pocket, as if reaching for something.
"It might be bigger than we thought." he said to himself.
Sarah Go was sitting at a the table in the staff lounge, picking at the lunch she had brought with her. She was still trying to figure out how to find the person selling the poison to her kids.
It was kind of funny really, how she had begun to think of them as hers. From the time she had left her family home, after that argument with Herb, she had sworn that she would never have family again. It just hurt too much when they left you, or when something happened and you weren't speaking to each other. She wasn't ready to deal with that kind of pain again. She was still trying to deal with it now.
Menlow and the twins had been to see her a few times since the first meeting at Bueno Nacho. They had been excited for her when she told them about the new career. Years of being heroes and villain just kind of fell away, and it was like they were a normal family.
Just before she got the job, the twins had helped Sarah move into a new apartment, a few blocks away from the school. She had gone to a thrift store and purchased a few pieces of furniture, nothing special but enough to get by. Menlow and the boys had chipped in and bought a few things for her as well. Several duplicates of William and Wes had made quick work of taking things up the two flights of stairs in the converted Victorian home.
Now, here she was, claiming the students as her own. In a few short months, she had acquired more family than she knew what to do with.
Packing the remains of her food back into the container, she got up and decided to relieve Ed of his duties in the cafeteria. She walked down the hall and was turning the corner when she saw her colleague in the doorway. An older student was approaching him. Sarah ducked back around when she saw the way Convey and the student were looking around, as if to check if they were being observed. From her hiding place, she could just make out their voices.
"Mr. Convey, I need some more. You told me that you would have it for me. I was lucky that the last stash was gone before this morning, and I never kept it in my locker." The boy reached into his pants pocket, and was about to withdraw it when the man shook his head at him.
"Not here!" he hissed. "You know how this works. Anybody finds out that I've been supplying you and your friends, and there is going to be some serious pain. Not just for you either! You meet me at the usual time and place, and keep your mouth shut." The teacher walked past the boy, as if he had never said anything.
The student continued out the door, and turned to the main doors leading to the school yard. He was muttering to himself about having to wait for everything.
Sarah stood with her back pressed against the wall. Ed Convey was dealing the drugs at Middleton Middle School! Unconsciously, her hands began to glow green. The man had the nerve to comfort Tasha the other day, when he knew all along what had happened! It was only through a massive force of self control that Sarah did not go after the other teacher and smash him down onto one of the tables. She laid her head back against the cool wall behind her and thought it out. If she went to Hobble or Tasha now, odds were he would deny anything, and there was not likely to be any physical proof of his involvement. In all likelihood, he had opened the lockers of all of the students that had been purchasing drugs. No, this was going to take something more.
Composing herself, Sarah rounded the corner at a normal stride. A few of the students in the cafeteria waved to her, those that had gotten to know her in classes. Others were still pretty freaked about a woman with green skin and the somewhat sarcastic humour. Naturally it was going to take time for her to really fit into the daily lives of teenagers. She walked up to Ed Convey and smiled at him, playing the part to the best of her abilities. "Hi Ed, I can take over here if you'd like. Why don't you go have your lunch?" She tried to read his face as he turned to her. "Why don't I just feed you my fist before you go?" Was there just the slightest hint of a nervous twitch?
"Thank you, Sarah. I've eaten already, but I do have a few things to do before my next class begins." Convey looked at his watch. "Things are pretty quiet, but you might want to watch that bunch of boys over by the vending machines. The grapes on the table look like tempting projectiles." He walked off down the hall towards one of the exits, the one to the staff parking lot.
While she was so involved in her own thoughts, Sarah never noticed the trio of students getting up from the corner table and going out another set of doors. Ron was leading the girls out into the yard on a search of their own.