Boilerplate Disclaimer: The various characters from the Kim Possible series are all owned by Disney. Any and all registered trade names property of their respective owners. Cheap shots at celebrities constitute fair usage.
This interlude is set in December after Team Possible II: City in the Sands, and long before Ron and Bonnie's wedding. This connects with the funeral, and might have been confusing if posted before Ron's wedding. This note, and apology, goes out to any chronology freaks among my readers.
Interlude – Making Up Is Hard to Do, part 1
Drakken winced as Zita stuck her head in his office door. She never came to his office with good news. He did a fast mental survey of projects and couldn't think of anything he had neglected. That was bad, very bad indeed. If he couldn't even remember the project she wanted to chew him out over, he must be very far behind on it.
"You need to talk with Wade," the Hispanic woman told him, "he's in a funk."
"He's been in a funk since Joss went away to college. Longer than that really, since they had their breakup last spring."
"Well, it's worse today. Go talk with him."
"Why don't you?"
"You're the father confessor to us all," Zita lied, hoping to inspire him with flattery. "Besides, if it's girl trouble he's more likely to talk with a guy than me. And if one of his projects has hit a snag you're a genius, I'm not."
"True, true…" the blue man muttered.
"If it's a money problem - send him to me."
"Speaking of money, Jim and Tim have been nagging me that they want their own offices--"
"Send them to me. You don't have to deal with that. You're too important." It was no longer clear if that counted as flattering the boss or not. Zita ran most of the day-to-day operations at Lipsky and Load. Keeping the geniuses in line was like trying to herd cats, but keeping their egos fed and happy made the job easier.
"For some reason they seem to think they'll have better success making their request through me."
"Those two aren't turning enough profit for the firm to have their own offices. They've got their shared lab now. If they stay on after they finish college or start making more for the company I'll consider offices for them. Not now."
Drakken made two cups of hot chocolate in the kitchen and went in search of Wade. The blue man had a deep faith that hot cocoa never made a situation worse and could usually be counted on to improve things.
The door to Wade's office stood open. The stocky young black man sat at his desk, staring off vacantly into space. Drakken walked in and put a steaming mug of hot chocolate down in front of him, "What's the good word, Partner?" Drakken asked cheerfully.
Wade said nothing, simply pushed a letter across the desk for Drakken to see.
"MIT wants you as keynote speaker on the first evening of a three day cybernetics conference… That's quite an honor." Wade said nothing and Drakken kept reading. "You're acting like something's wrong… Is it the fact you're a replacement for someone who cancelled, or that Vivian Porter was asked to give the keynote speech the second night when they made the original invitations and didn't ask you?"
"Has it slipped your mind that Joss is at MIT? I can't speak there."
"Well, to borrow a phrase from someone else, too awk-weird."
"You want to suggest they ask me?" Drakken asked, excited. "I've done important work in cybernetics."
"I, ah, don't think the choice is mine to make. They have some committee that extends the invitations."
"You and Joss managed to work together in Egypt last summer."
"We had too…" Wade's voice trailed off.
"You can do it," Drakken assured him. "Who knows, maybe she wants to see you as much as everyone can tell you want to see her."
Wade sighed, "Okay, I'll accept."
Very few people had the number for Wade's private cell phone. He pulled it out when it rang and stared at the incoming number, which was not one he recognized. He recognized the area code as Boston and wondered if it might be MIT.
"Wade! Great to hear you!" the feminine voice answered.
"Um, who is this?"
The woman on the other end laughed, "You did too good a job on my voice."
"Bego? Is that you?"
"It's me! Joss says she saw a poster that you're going to be out here in a month."
"Well, dang it, why haven't you given me a call?"
"Wade. You're my friend. I'm not going to let your misunderstanding with Joss--"
"It was a hell of a lot worse than a misunderstanding."
There was a few seconds pause on the line before the blue woman answered, "Look, you're my friend… Last summer, after Egypt, Joss confessed a couple things to me that hadn't really been clear before - the fact she'd told you she was ready to make love, and that the two of you had set it up together. I don't--"
"But I didn't listen to her when she said no."
"You can't change what happened. She doesn't hate you. I think she… I don't know… Look, I didn't call you for Joss, I called you for me. Can we get together when you come out?"
"Sure, I'd like that." Being with Joss's robot sister would hurt, it would remind him of the good times he had with Joss - and the breakup. But Bego was his friend and it would be good to see her. He felt bad that he hadn't called her - but she and Joss were staying together and he was afraid Joss might have answered the phone. "Do you think she might see me again?"
"If you mean go out… I don't know. Maybe no. I don't want you to get your hopes up. But you mean a lot to her. I think she's still trying to sort that all out. If you mean would she like to see you in a neutral setting and talk? I think the answer is a definite yes."
"Is she seeing anybody?"
"I don't think I should be talking about that with you."
"So, the answer's yes."
"Wade. Our memories are growing up on a Montana ranch. She never had a social life until she met you. We're both meeting new people in school. We're going out and doing things. I've had five dates!"
"Heck yes. Of course three of them turned out to be creeps and one just wanted to invite me to his Bible study, but I've been out twice with Jeff and have some girls I do things with."
"Great! And Joss?"
There was a long pause. It was none of Wade's business. It would hurt Wade. But he was a friend and Bego was worried about her sister. "She's been sorta wild. I think she did more running around with guys than studying first semester--"
"That's what tears me up. Going out there and seeing Joss on somebody's arm. I don't think I could take it."
"Don't be an idiot. Joss is never on anybody's arm - she stands on her own feet. And I'm not sure there's anybody she's seeing seriously. And why in the heck did you agree to come talk if you're afraid to see her?"
"Drakken twisted my arm, made me accept the invitation."
"Oh, I see," Bego said solemnly. There was no way Drakken could have made Wade do anything he didn't want to do. "When did he gain that power? You only agreed because you want to come out here. And the most likely reason for that is to see Joss - Unless you want to go out with her blue sister."
Wade laughed, "I promise to take you out while I'm in town, okay?"
They chatted for another twenty minutes before Bego said goodbye, "Got to write a paper for Greek philosophy. I can't decide if those Skeptics were really smart or plum crazy."
"Thanks for the call."
"See ya next month."
Wade's stomach felt queasy as he flew east with Drakken and Vivian Porter for the conference. Drakken nursed what Wade felt certain was a vain hope of going on a real date with Dr. Porter. The fact the two of them could carry on a conversation was the only encouragement the blue man needed to nourish his ambition. He let Drakken have the seat beside her in the first class section of the plane so the two could talk. Wade told them he'd be working on his presentation on his laptop. After staring vacantly at the screen for half an hour he closed his eyes and tried to stay calm. He wasn't sure he could keep his breakfast down.
When the three left the concourse at Logan airport a blue figure shouted, "Vivian! Wade! Doc!" and ran to them. Bego gave them all hugs, talking non-stop about how good it was to see them.
Vivian Porter waited a minute for an opening to say something, then remembered Bego didn't breathe and put a hand over the blue girl's mouth, "You sound wonderful. It's been too long since we talked - what are you doing?"
"I'm hoping to go to MIT with you for the conference. Want to be with three of my most favorite people in the world… Um, one problem though."
"What's that?" Wade asked
"Well, I don't want to be mistaken for an exhibit. I've got the covers to make my eyes look human in my backpack." She looked at Drakken, "Can I be your daughter again if anyone asks?"
Drakken beamed and gave the girl a fatherly kiss on the forehead, "Anna, it is wonderful to see you again. You must tell me about college life."
"Love to, Dad. Oh, and can I get an advance on my allowance?"
The four laughed and she went with them to the baggage claim area. A driver with a sign reading "MIT" stood in the baggage area.
There had been relatively few sessions on the first day, and the speech that evening would probably not be well attended. Vivian Porter's speech on the second day would serve as the keynote address of the conference. Still, Wade reflected, he was glad he hadn't been asked to give the closing address - when many of the conference attendees would already be on their way home and half of those who came would be looking at their watches.
Drakken and Bego crashed the dinner for conference speakers, Drakken as Vivian's guest and Bego as Wade's. Vivian wanted to sit with other scientists at the dinner, but they ate together that night so that Bego could talk with all of them. The black man changed clothes before the evening session. While Drakken annoyed some of the planners by wanting to sit on the stage. The fact he was Wade's partner, designer of the infamous Bebes, and that his firm manufactured parts for the experiments of conference participants brought him a seat - in the last row of distinguished guests. Bego made it to the front row with a more brazen approach. As she headed for the front of the auditorium an organizer coughed politely to remind her she was not invited. She took Wade's arm, kissed him on the cheek, and said, "I'm with him."
Wade wanted Bego beside him as they waited for his introduction. She ran on about English Comp. and American history and other classes he had flown through at age eight. But for her it was all new and exciting. He wanted her to keep his mind off of Joss.
Keeping his mind off Joss would be impossible during his talk. The first five rows, front and center, had been reserved for scientists and faculty, but Joss and seven young men had the front row of the MIT students' side section to the right.
At the end of his talk Wade stumbled back to his seat, unable to recall a word he'd said, as one of the organizers went to the podium to announce minor changes in seminar participants and room changes for the next day's sessions.
"Was I as bad as I think?" he whispered to Bego.
"How bad do you think you were?"
"The villagers should be collecting pitchforks and lighting torches."
"You weren't that bad. 'Course I have no idea what you were talking 'bout most of the time. You could have done better, but you did okay."
There was a general milling around at the end of the session. A number of scientists offered Wade the polite and expected compliments. A few asked questions that showed they really had paid attention. Vivian was talking with colleagues and Drakken had disappeared when a wedge of students muscled their way towards Wade with an obviously reluctant Joss having been pushed into the point position.
"Uh, hi, Wade," the young woman blushed.
He nodded, "Joss."
"You, uh, busy?"
Wade turned to Bego, "Anna, do we have plans?"
"Anna?" one of the young men whispered to Joss, "she looks like your sister - 'cept for the eyes."
Bego spoke up, "I was the model." She wondered how long she could pass, but wanted to find out. She turned back to Wade, "You promised me a date, but we could go out tomorrow night. I'll go--"
"You stay," Joss told her. "This isn't important. I don't want to bust up your time."
A couple of the young men with her poked her and hissed, "No!" "It's important," another reminded her."
Joss looked down, unwilling to look in Wade's eyes. "There's, um, a noodle place real close," she suggested. "Please?"
The waiters pushed five tables together to make enough places for everyone to sit. Joss sat as far from Wade and Bego as physically possible. She didn't order anything and avoided eye contact. Wade just ordered tea, and Bego occasionally pretended to take a sip.
For almost an hour Wade came under assault from students asking how to apply for a Lipsky and Load fellowship, students in need of a job - who were certain that they would fit in very well and Lipsky and Load, people with their own résumés, people with the résumés of friends and family members, and students who wanted in on the alien technology project - and would work for free if chosen.
Wade picked up the tab for the whole group. Joss tried to slip away when the others left, but Bego stopped her, "Care to explain what that's all about?"
"I'm sorry," she apologized to Wade. "They knew I had a Lipsky and Load grant and, well after last summer, everybody's heard of you and--"
"Heard of us," Bego grinned, "I have people askin', 'Hey, were you on the cover of Time?' when they see me."
"Anyway, they wanted me to introduce them. I didn't want to bother you. I'm sorry."
"No problem," Wade assured her.
"I'd better get home," Joss said, trying to leave.
"You don't have to," Bego told her.
"Don't want to bust up you two having a good time. 'Sides, you know how long it takes to get home."
"Can I call a cab for you?" Wade offered.
"Don't need to go throwin' money around," Joss answered. "Bego and I are getting' real good with the subway and busses."
"Why don't we all go back to our place and talk for awhile?" Bego suggested. "Mr. Big Spender can pay for the taxi."
Joss and Wade maneuvered Bego into sitting in the middle, but halfway to Waltham she knocked on the partition, "Stop here," she told the Iraqi driver.
"Here?" the puzzled man asked.
"What are you doing?" Joss hissed
"Getting out. You two need to talk."
"But--" Wade started to protest.
"You two need to talk."
The cab pulled over to the curb and Bego crawled out over Wade. She stopped for a minute, straddling his lap and facing him. "Remember, handsome, if she's lost all interest, I'm available." To the shock of both Wade and Joss she then gave him a long kiss before stepping out of the car. "See you at the apartment," she called to Joss as she shut the door.
"That was weird," Wade muttered.
"She wants us back together."
"Yeah, thinks it'll stop me from…"
"Never mind," Joss snapped, "It's none of your business."
There was a minute of silence in the back of the cab. "I'm sorry, Wade, but it isn't your business. I'm off the ranch, out of high school, and I want to have fun. I don't want Bego tellin' me how to live, and we aren't datin'. I'm free to do what I want."
"I can't argue with that," Wade agreed, although it felt like someone had stuck a knife in his gut and twisted it to hear her words.
"So, what's new with you?"
"I'm in therapy."
"There was another minute of silence in the cab before Joss managed, "I'm sorry."
"That I'm getting help? That's a weird thing to say."
"Is… Is it my fault?"
"That night wasn't all your fault. I said I was ready. I thought I was ready… I was leading you on. It wasn't fair of me…"
"Joss, my problems started before that night. And I've got more problems than just that night…"
"This is so weird. You were always, like, the mature one and--"
"And needing help makes me immature?"
"No, it's just, I don't know. We're 'bout the same age but you've seen and done so much. I always thought you could do anythin'."
"Hard being a genius. I thought I had all the answers - was willing to run other people's lives. I found--"
The driver called, "Is this the place?" The two hadn't noticed he had reached the address and been parked for a couple minutes.
"Yeah," Joss told him and put her hand on the door handle.
"Can you take me back to MIT," Wade asked, "I--"
"Come up and talk for a spell?" Joss invited.
"I don't know."
"Bego wanted us to talk. Come on, it'll be half an hour before she gets back."
Wade pulled a large bill from his wallet, "Can you wait awhile?"
The driver's eyes opened wide and he smiled, "You out in hour and a half, I still here," he assured the young man.
Joss giggled slightly as they got out of the cab, "Zita's never gonna let you take that off the expense account."
"I don't care."
Wade sat in the small living room while Joss boiled water for herbal tea. "I've gotten to like coffee in the mornin', but think it's too late just now," she called from the tiny kitchen.
"This place is small."
"Not if you believe the… Other students say we've got a lot of room for the two of us."
There was more uncomfortable silence until Joss came in with two mugs and handed him one before sitting down on another chair. "I think I need to apologize to you," Joss began.
"No you don't."
"Yes, I do. In Egypt we talked about bein' friends, but I've not done a good job… Maybe I still have some bad feelin's towards you. Maybe I've just been havin' too much fun. But seein' you and Doc tonight? It felt good. I wanna hear what you're up to. I wanna hear what Tim and Jim's up to." Joss sighed, "We're not gettin' back together. We both know it. But I don't want to be afraid of Middleton. Tell me what's goin' on."
Half an hour later Bego arrived with the news, "The taxi is still out front. The driver looks like he's chain smoking."
"Take the load off your feet," Joss invited, "Wade's tellin' me about Middleton."
"That's okay," Wade said, rising to leave. "I promised Bego we'd do something while I'm in town. Maybe we'll take in a movie tomorrow night."
"Sounds great," the blue girl agreed. "But after Vivian speaks. I want to hear what she has to say."
"You can pick the flick," Wade told her before he left.