Boilerplate Disclaimer: All the various characters from the Kim Possible series are so owned by Disney.
All's Fair in Love – part 3
"She's my wife," Wade complained to Drakken as the blue man made three steaming cups of coco-moo. "We have to hire her."
"I'm not sure… I mean, I think we should… But I won't fight Zita."
He brought two cups over to the table in the old lair kitchen, then returned to the stove for his own.
"Jim and I told Zita we should hire her," Tim assured Wade as Doc joined them.
"Jim," Wade snorted, "I don't know whose side he's on. He's helping Zita set up some test for Joss. Doc and I are the head partners, we need to stand up and tell Zita what to do."
"Uh, while the firm is Lipsky and Load," Drakken pointed out, "we don't run the place, Zita does. She's, uh, I mean, I don't want to tell her how to do her job."
"Coward!" Wade snapped, "no wonder you never took over the world." He regretted his words when he saw Drakken's hurt expression. "Sorry, I'm on edge… I don't want to face Zita either."
"Look," Tim pointed out, "this is best for Joss, and you know it. If she thought she only got hired because she's married to you she'd always be doubting herself and her place here."
"I suppose," Wade admitted reluctantly.
"Do you have any concerns she won't pass?" Tim continued.
"No… It's just… Well, Zita and Jim both have mean streaks sometimes. If they're setting her up to fail, I swear, even Zita can be replaced."
"Jim wants her here," Tim assured him.
"Zita once told me you'd be forty percent more efficient if we hire Joss," Drakken told the black man.
Wade looked puzzled, "How's that."
"Well, she, uh, said you're no good on Fridays before you go to see her, and no good on Monday while you're remembering the weekend."
The three had finished their hot chocolate and were wondering if they should go to their labs when Zita and Jim came into the kitchen and Drakken made more coco-moo.
"So, what's the test?" Tim asked nervously.
"The communication module for the Venus probe competition."
"Drakken's idea didn't work," Wade pointed out.
"It would have worked fine. The problem is they don't make any capacitor that would do the job." The heart of the probe streamed data to earth, accepted commands, and controled dozens of relays - in a limited space.
"It's the same as not working," Wade argued. "I spent two days working on the design before I discovered why it wouldn't work."
"That's the test," Zita told them. The others simply looked puzzled. "Look, Wade got the design drawn up. We asked her to look it over. It's a complicated schematic - will probably take her a couple hours just to get a sense of how it works."
"Did you tell her what it was supposed to be?" Tim asked.
"Course not," Jim retorted. "She could have told in high school that it's a transceiver. That won't take her any time at all. Zita and I have a little side bet going. I'm betting she takes about five hours or less to figure out why it won't work and come out and tell us what the problem is."
"Over six hours and I win the bet," Zita told them. "Loser has to take the winner out to dinner."
"That's a complicated mechanism," Wade warned.
"I'll give her tomorrow too," Zita assured him. "Wade, I don't think she would ask for help - but you can't offer any. It would mean you don't think she's capable of doing it for herself. If you trust her, you have to let her do it by herself."
But what if she--" Wade protested.
"Trust her," Tim told him. "Have faith, she can do it."
Wade nodded, "I know, just nervous."
"She'll do fine."
"So, what's it like finally living with your wife?" Jim asked. "I figure that living in two time zones meant no time to fight."
"Not quite," Wade chuckled. "It meant no time to talk things out the way we wanted before one of us had to leave."
"Bummer," Tim threw in. "How's furniture shopping going?"
"Joss has informed me that she has found the area in which I am completely ignorant. I'm not even allowed to pick out my own toothbrush without supervision - for fear I'd buy some color that clashed with the bathroom's color scheme."
Tim nodded in sympathy and put a hand on Wade's shoulder. "I feel your pain, my brother."
Zita shook her head in disgust, "Men are loco. A couch to sit on, a television on an orange crate and beer in the fridge and you're happy."
"And something to put the computer on," Jim added.
"How about just putting your laptop on your lap?" Tim suggested.
"Nah, gets in they way when you're reading internet porn."
Zita ordered them back to their labs after they finished their hot chocolate. She doubted any work would be done, the men would only be thinking about Joss.
Zita went back to her office, but she wasn't thinking about Joss, she was thinking about the bet with Jim. They had been out a few times since Ron and Bonnie's wedding. They almost always ended up back in her condo in bed. She stared out the window. Did she want to win or lose? This was completely wrong; it interfered with work. The bet was only dinner. She didn't owe him anything else if she lost. Just thinking about it made her horny. This was wrong, and the only thing she could think about.
They would not go back to Jim's apartment over the old carriage house. They had done that once. Kim knocked on the door in the morning and reminded Jim about some nonsense of not sleeping with a person you wouldn't bring to the breakfast table for the family to meet.
Unsure which would have been more embarrassing, breakfast or running, Zita opted for breakfast. "We weren't sleeping together," Zita lied as they sat at the kitchen table. "I--"
"At least we didn't get much sleeping done last night," Jim interrupted. "Man, I'm exhausted."
Zita blushed, "I was there to talk business."
"Business?" Jim smirked, "is that what you're calling it? Are you going to bill me by the hour or a flat rate for the whole night? Or are you going to pay me?"
She hadn't talked with him for three weeks after that. And it had been more than two months after she was willing to speak to him again before they ended up back in her bed at her condo.
She closed her eyes tightly and tried to remind herself that sex with a co-worker was a bad idea; desperately wanting to drive out the memory of how good it felt.
The day crawled by at a snail's pace. At noon Zita heated a frozen lo-cal meal and took it in to Joss in the small conference room. "Put it down over there," the young woman told her, waving absent-mindedly to an open space on a bookcase. The table in front of Joss was littered with her own notes and schematics of the communications module. "Can't figure why anyone needs somthin' this powerful - but somethin's wrong here."
Zita smiled as she headed back to her office. Jim would win the bet. He'd have her take them someplace romantic. They'd share a bottle of wine then come back to-- She tried to shake the image out of her head. It was wrong. The bet was dinner, nothing more.
Three-thirty, and Joss remained in the conference room. Zita stared as the clock. She'd won the bet, and felt terrible.
The men were back in the old kitchen at four. Only Jim could think about anything but Joss. He wondered where Zita would have him take her for dinner. He smiled, dessert would definitely come later in the evening back in her condo. Zita entered the kitchen a little later. "She was making progress when I saw her at noon," she assured Wade. "I'm really surprised she hasn't come out to tell us she found the problem."
At four-thirty Tim knocked on the conference room door.
"Who is it?" Joss called.
"Tim. You going to knock off for the--"
"Go away, I'm almost done."
Tim retreated to the kitchen with his report.
The men weren't certain what to think. It had taken Wade two days to isolate the problem, but most of that time had been spent in converting Drakken's sketchy doodles into a schematic design. He had seen the problem as soon as he finished, but his work on the design had given him an edge in comprehension. The Possible twins thought they would have seen the flaw in two hours, tops, but they were geniuses with high opinions of their own abilities. It could easily take a good engineer two days to discover why the device wouldn't function.
Shortly after five Joss came into the kitchen and dropped her pile of papers on the table, "Where's this thing supposed to go? You're going to need to alter the plans for Mercury."
"Venus was the theory, if we had a design we could put in the competition," Wade told her.
Joss let out a soft whistle, "Cool."
"So, what is your report from seeing the plans?" Jim asked.
"Well, I reckon you can pass the extra costs along in the contract."
"That's your report?" Jim asked. A couple of the men felt sinking sensations in their stomachs, Joss had failed to discover why the device wouldn't work.
"Pretty much, 'cept it'll take six or seven weeks to get the capacitor."
Wade stared at her, "What are you talking about, they don't make a capacitor with those dimensions that'll do what these plans require."
"I called all our suppliers," Tim added. "They said it couldn't be done."
"Well, there's not one commercially available. And I don't know much about your suppliers. If they mean it can't be done at a reasonable price they might be right - if you'd already signed a contract on this it'd eat up the profits. But I called a couple of my profs from MIT and got the names of some places that will build to spec. Found a place in Japan that'll make one the necessary size and four percent more efficient than the plans require."
Tim broke in, his excitement showing in his voice, "Wait, you're telling us you figured out how to fix this?"
"Wasn't that the test?"
"The test," Jim explained, "was to see if you could figure out why it wouldn't work. If you figured out how to make it work you've exceeded all expectations."
The twins joined Wade in happy laughter for Joss's success. Drakken looked slightly offended, "I told you it was a brilliant idea! I just needed someone like Joss to figure out the petty details."
"Petty details nothing," Zita snapped. "We can't sell technology that doesn't work. Did you all hear what she said when she came in? Her first comments were on costs and profits!" She turned to Joss, "You're getting your own office."
"What?" Tim protested.
"Tim and I were here years before you let us have offices," Jim reminded her.
"You two did nothing but blow things up for the first three or four years. This firm is not here to provide you with an endless flow of explosives; it's here to turn a profit."
"We're celebrating tonight," Wade told Joss.
"That's a good idea," Zita told him. "I think all of us should go out for dinner to celebrate Lipsky and Load's new engineer."
"Can we go to the Astor?" Tim suggested
"Too expensive. Alfredo's has very good Italian, with good value."
"Wait for it," Jim thought.
Zita did not disappoint him, "And while we're out to dinner the men will explain some of the current projects going on here and we'll figure out what projects you can assist with until you start to receive some of your own. I'll also explain the Lipsky and Load benefits package, vacation schedules and other things you need to know."
"Alfredo's, you said," Drakken asked. "When?"
"I'll call in a reservation for six at seven."
"No Erin?" Tim protested.
"This is a business dinner," Zita reminded him. "If Lipsky and Load pays, and we do business, it's a tax write-off."
Drakken, Joss and Wade, and Tim left to change before dinner. Zita returned to her office to call in the reservation and work until dinner. When she finished with the reservation she looked up to find Jim in the doorway, leaning against the frame.
He grinned, "Looks like I won the bet."
"How do you figure that? I won."
He shook his head, "No you didn't Z."
"It took her more than six hours."
"The bet was if it took her six or more hours just to discover the problem and say it couldn't be done. She figured out the problem in less than six. You said that yourself."
"You lost, Zita. She solved it, she did way better than expected."
"And this Friday you will be taking me to dinner at the Astor. You can reserve a little private dining room if you want to impress me or we can sit in the main dining room. Your choice."
"I didn't lose. I--"
"You lost. Dinner at the Astor."
"All right," she snapped. "But we are not going back to my place afterwards."
"I mean it."
"I said okay."
He had given in much too easily. "We're not going to your place afterwards either."
"I'll dust and vacuum."
"We are not going to your place."
"Fine, if you say so."
She felt disappointed; he had given in much too easily. "What time would you like to eat, and who's driving?"
"Dinner at eight, I'll drive. You want me to drive to Alfredo's tonight?"
"No, I'm going to need to come back here. Didn't get much done today."
"Okay, see you at seven."
She stared at his back as he left. The twins had filled out very nicely since they started at Lipsky and Load. "He gave in so easily, maybe he's not interested." She sighed, "We shouldn't be having sex. Maybe it's just as… He might plan on a room at the hotel that night. They say their rooms are very nice… I'll take my big purse, I can put in a change of underwear and a toothbrush - just in case."
"You impressed Zita today," Wade told Joss as they got ready for bed that night.
She grinned it him, "It felt real good."
"Heck, you didn't impress just Zita today, I think you impressed us all. But, man, I don't think I've impressed Zita twice in the years she's been there. And you just looked at that schematic and solved the problem. You're incredible, you know that?"
"My husband has been known to tell me that."
"Your husband is a very lucky man."
She giggled, "I think so. I think he's pretty special too."
He winked at her, "Want the celebration to continue right now?"
"How about an eye-opener in the mornin'? It was a really stressful day."
"I can live with waiting 'til morning."
They got in bed and he pulled her close, "You're incredible," he whispered.
"Thanks." She snuggled close, finding a comfortable position with his arm around her. "Oh, Zita forgot to cover somethin' important tonight."
Wade thought about dinner, Zita had seemed excruciatingly detailed in her orientation. "What did she miss?"
"Details about maternity leave."