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The Great Mandala

Kasy stared at the red-haired girl, and then looked at her grandfather, "You're giving us to her?" she asked in an accusing voice.

James swung the little girl down off his shoulders, "I don't know who she is, and I won't turn you over to her - stand behind me." He faced the young woman, "I don't know what you are doing here - but I am not handing these children over to you… Where is your partner?"

"Here, Sir," the young man said - joining the red-head in the standoff. "And, might I suggest we move away from this location. None of us should desire this encounter to be observed.

Briana nudged Sheki, "What did he say?"

"He said we should move."

The group left the sidewalk and into the trees of the small park where the teenagers had been waiting. The young woman kept her 'weapons' aimed at the children.

The two seemed eerily familiar to Dr. Possible, and he asked a question, "Are you a Kim and Wade from a parallel dimension?"

The young woman smiled, "You're half right, Sir, but-"

"More like a quarter right," her darker companion snorted.

"Half."

"Half of half is a quarter. You want me to explain it to you later?"

"You read William Hartnell's monograph on Time and Relative Dimensions in Space?"

"No," he admitted grudgingly.

"Half right," she told him smugly. "You want me to explain it to you later?" She sincerely hoped he didn't - since she had just made up the monograph.

"Pardon me," James interrupted, "but are you threatening us with jelly doughnuts?"

"They just look like jelly doughnuts," she replied. "Holographic technology disguises their true nature. A scientist such as yourself might gain technological information from seeing them."

"Holographic technology like that doesn't exist."

"Maybe not on your world." The girl kept her eyes on James and the children as she addressed her partner, "J, give them a holo show, go through your disguises."

Junior began switching through the options.

"Hey, you were at the ice cream place," Sheki exclaimed on number two.

He stayed on most of the disguises four or five seconds, but hurriedly rushed over number seven - a young woman of impressive proportions and very little clothing.

"What was that?" his partner snapped.

"J-Just a test," he stammered. "I forgot it was on there."

"A test?"

"Uh, in case I need a disguise at a beach or something."

"That what you're going to tell your mom and dad?"

"You say anything and I'll tell your moms you skipped soccer practice last week to make out with Francis."

"We didn't- How'd you know I skipped soccer?"

"Gabriela asked me if your ankle was well enough to play again. Who else would you skip soccer for?"

While the teens argued James and three little girls had moved gradually away from the pair.

"Hey, stop that!" the girl called. "Bring those criminals back here!"

"They aren't criminals," Dr. Possible insisted, "they're children, and you're scaring them."

"They may look like children, but that is purely a disguise on their part. They are evil and dangerous. Probably used an age regression ray to look young. We see it all the time in our work. They find some innocent victim in another dimension and they-"

"I am not from another dimension," Sheki insisted. "He's our grandpa!"

"I have no idea what story these little crooks have concocted, Dr. Possible, but you shouldn't believe a word Veeble and Vorbox have told you."

"Veeble and Vorbox?"

"Wanted in five dimensions. Please, you need to let us take them off your hands now. You don't know how dangerous these two can be."

"What about their friend?"

"Their friend?"

James pointed at the blond, who didn't like the attention.

"Snert."

"Excuse me?"

"We didn't realize they were traveling with their friend Snert. He-"

"I'm a girl!"

"The disguise is excellent, isn't it?" Jane commented to Dr. Possible. "Snert is less dangerous, but still shouldn't be trusted in anything he says."

The blond spoke up, "My name is Briana."

The boy's eyes went wide, "Briana Crandall?"

She looked puzzled. "Yes," she answered hesitantly.

"It's Briana!" he whispered to his partner.

The two went into a hurried, whispered conference with one another.

"You just blew the whole cover story you idiot!" she complained. "If you know her last name it means we know she's not a criminal."

"She's Briana Crandall!"

"Yeah, she's been their friend forever. So?"

"She was the greatest babysitter I ever had… My first crush when I was ten!"

"And here I thought you came over to play with me. You just came over to stare at my sisters' friends."

"You really thought I came over to play with you?"

"Like any of them even know you breathe? They're like, nova, and you're like white dwarf."

"Hey, watch it," the dark-skinned boy warned.

"Excuse me." James Possible interrupted, "But are you through threatening us with the Bavarian creams yet?"

"Weapons!" she insisted, "dangerous scary weapons. You don't want to know what I can do with these."

"What can you do with those?"

"I told you, you don't want to know."

"Well, the only people who I know have lied to me are the two of you. So I think you can put down the doughnuts. You knew these three… well, two of them anyway, were arriving. Why are you here?"

"We're here to take them home."

All three girls perked up at the news, although none of them lost their suspicions of the pair. They let Dr. Possible lead the interrogation. "Why did you tell me they were criminals?"

"Technically, they are in violation of several laws restricting time travel."

"Are we going to jail?" Kasy asked.

"You should," the red-head thought. "No. No jail. I didn't want your grandfather to believe anything you told him. So if I told him you were little crooks he'd think you're lying."

"Mommy says not to lie," Sheki said.

"Like the two of you ever listen to anybody." "I hoped that if you had told Dr. Possible anything you shouldn't have he wouldn't believe it. It is possible to really mess your own lives up if you aren't careful. My partner and I are trained professionals."

Junior corrected her, "I think we're amateurs with a lot of practical experience.

She turned back to Dr. Possible, "I need to talk to you out of earshot of these three."

"Girls, go play on the swings for a minute. Big people talk."

"Can they really take us home?"

"That's what I want to know. Now go play."

The young woman spoke quietly "We're still figuring out the laws of temporal physics. Some dangerous discoveries were made, and the Time Cops were set up to try and keep disasters from happening."

"This is a disaster?"

"Could be," Junior told him. He had moved over to join the conversation. "Depends on what they told you and what you're going to do."

James Possible watched the girls on the swings for a minute. Despite their fears, or perhaps because of the hope of going home, the three children were laughing and giggling as they played together. "I think I want those two in my future… How can I be sure I won't mess something up? Do you have some sort of memory eraser to take away this afternoon?"

"Short term memory erasers… Way too dangerous to carry. Seemed like every kid in the country wanted one to use on a teacher. Absolutely banned - anyone caught carrying one does one year's hard labor in the salt mines on Venus. Ten years if you're caught using one," she explained.

"Why do I think you're making that up?"

"Because she is," Junior told him. "Any scientist who comes close forgets what he's doing. They'll never be invented."

"You don't know the future."

"Actually, we do. And if one had been perfected someone would have come back and given us one for situations like this."

"What now? Can you really take them home?"

"We can," she assured him, "but the less you hear the better. Go play with the girls for a minute and we'll get set up." He smiled at her and nodded. He was startled to notice something in the bright sunlight he had not noticed in the florescent light at his home - her skin also had a tinge of green; while fainter than the green of the two young girls he could detect the tone in her own fair skin. He smiled, suddenly willing to trust the young woman.

As James Possible walked over to the swings there were cries of "Push me, grandpa!" "No, push me!"

"What's the plan?" Junior asked.

"I put a fail-safe portal in the library closet…"

"After you put a faulty portal on the basement door!"

"I haven't put it there yet! Maybe it wasn't even me!"

"You told you it was you."

"Yeah, well, sometimes I make up things."

"That's for sure."

"And besides, it's your dad's fault the switch is bad on the basement door."

"Fleam, don't blame my dad for your-"

"Let's get them home, okay? We can finish this argument in twenty years or so."

"How we going to do it?"

"We'll both jump forward to the closet and I'll set coordinates. I'll jump them to you one at a time, you stay there and send the Chrono back. Don't let them out until all three are there."

"You jumping to closet?"

"Nah. I'll jump home. You can jump after you let them out."

James Possible felt a moment of panic when the two teenagers disappeared but she was back momentarily.

"Time for you three to go home," she called.

"Do you have a time machine?" Sheki wanted to know.

"I'm wearing it," she said - showing the device on her wrist. "It only takes one person at a time-"

"Then how do we get home?" Kasy protested.

"By closing your mouth and listening for a minute. I can send you one at a time to a closet in your house. You'll arrive back about twenty minutes after you left. My partner is there waiting for you. He knows a little button to press to send my time machine come back to me - then I'll send the next one until you all three are back. You, the red-haired kid, you go first."

Kasy gave her grandfather a big hug. "I love you!" Then she was gone. Briana followed a minute later after the Chrono returned to Jane, and then Sheki.

After dinner Mrs. Crandall told Kim, "We'd better take Briana home. It's way past her bedtime." When Kim took her upstairs they found Sheki and Briana sprawled on Sheki's lower bunk - sound asleep - with Kasy curled up on a large bean bag chair beside them.

Kim put her hand on the other woman's arm as she moved toward her daughter. "Come downstairs and stay awhile. If she wakes up you can take her home. Or you can leave her here - we've got extra toothbrushes and anything else she'll need."

"I don't want to bother you."

"No bother. They must have had fun to conk out like this. If she stays Ron can make her breakfast in the morning."

"Ron?"

"My best friend forever. He lives here too... You met him last year."

She thought for a minute. "A blond man?"

"Yes, he's a great cook."

"Oh, all right..." Mrs Crandall said with some hesitation. "I'm worried about her panicking in a strange place."

"She'll be fine," Kim assured her.

They covered the girls up with blankets and went downstairs.

Although the bar crew left as the dinner started the liquor remained, "I paid for it, it's mine," Alice said and poured herself a large brandy as the guests began to leave. The Crandalls, along with the Judge and her partner were among the small number of guests talking in the living room when the front door opened. Steps were heard crossing the entryway and running upstairs before a door slammed overhead.

"Someone in a hurry to get to the John," Shego suggested.

Ron walked into the living room a couple minutes later, "Are women all crazy?"

"Dangerous question, Stoppable," Shego growled. "You want to find a safer way of wording that?"

"Uh, is Bonnie crazy? She went all mad on me tonight."

"All mad on you?" Kim asked. "What did you do?"

"Well, we went to the Off-Elm for dinner and the show-"

"Good start," Mrs. Crandall told him, and nudged her husband to give him a hint.

"Then I suggested stopping at a romantic little place I know for a snack on the way home-"

"Sounds good," Kim assured him.

"Wait a minute. Stoppable, what was that romantic place you know? And you'd better not say Bueno Nacho."

"Ron, you didn't?"

Ron looked uncomfortable.

Kim sighed, "What did you get her?"

"Well she ordered a-"

"Not food!" Shego almost shouted, "What gift did you have for her?"

"Gift?"

Shego and Kim looked at each other. Kim sighed. "This is why you dumped him, isn't it," Shego suggested.

"I'm feeling lost," Steve Crandall complained.

"After the party last year they got engaged," Shego explained.

"Major anniversary," Kim added.

Steve paled, "And he got her..."

"Bupkis," Shego sighed. "Gonna be a long time 'til he sees the other side of her bedroom door again."

"It's too late tonight, go out first thing tomorrow," Kim told Ron. "Buy her something nice." "Pick out a ring."

"Something she wants," Shego added. "Buy her the ring."

Mrs. Crandall had a suggestion, "Something expensive," "Something to go with her engagement ring."

"Fine," Ron sighed. "First thing tomorrow." "They have a cool new Blackberry at 'Lectronics R Us."

Years before the conversation in the Possible Manor living room, on a warm afternoon in late June, an electronic device from another era materialized in the hand of a teenage girl. As quickly as it appeared James Possible reached over and took it.

"Hey, give that back!" she protested.

"First you are going to answer some questions, young lady."

"No, you know way too much already. I'm hoping there was no damage from today, but the more you know the greater the chance of something going wrong down the line."

"One question, you have to answer one question."

"No I don't."

"Do you want to get home?"

"What's the question?" she asked grudgingly. "And I don't have to answer."

"Is Kimmie really happy with Shego?"

The girl smiled. "Yes, they're both very happy."

He shook his head, "I can't believe it."

"The first few years weren't easy, but Eemah says you…" She suddenly stopped talking. James wondered if it was because she realized she had just admitted what he already knew. "She says you were always kind and supportive… We always thought it was become of grandma Anne's parents being, well…"

"Anne and I promised to always be supportive of our children and their choices, no matter who they brought home. I don't think we had anyone like your Eemah in mind when we made that promise."

The girl laughed and kissed him on the cheek. "You did great."

"Can I warn Anne, please?"

The girl thought for a minute. "No, you can't. You already know more than you should."

"But-"

"It's important you not say a thing."

"It will be hard on her."

"It probably will be. But you have to let it happen." The girl suddenly laughed. "You get to be very supportive to everybody. And this is why the family says you're the best husband, and father, and grandfather in the world." She threw her arms around him and gave him a hug.

"I imagine big sisters are a pain."

"They sure are. Uncle Jim has stories about… How did you know they were my older sisters?"

"Because they didn't recognize you."

"Oh. You tell me stories about what uncle Slim did to you when I complain about how the twins treat me."

He chuckled and gave her a hug. "Big brothers can be a pain too. You and your sisters are going to be a handful."

"Us? Just wait until you see uncle Tim's family."

"Did today ruin anything? Will those two troublemakers still be my granddaughters?"

She hesitated, "I don't think today ruined anything - but I can't be sure 'til I get back to the Dome and check. When someone jumps back it screws up the time stream and our instruments don't work right. That's why we miss details about exact time and location. And when we come back our presence throws things off too. I could give you a reading now, but don't know if it will be accurate."

"Please, give me a reading."

"Let me see my Chrono."

He kept his hold on it, but held the device so that she could work with it. She pushed buttons, and waited. A minute later a green light blinked.

"Green is good?" he asked anxiously.

"Green is good," she assured him, "but remember, I need green when I get home to really be sure."

"Can you come back and tell me if it's green when you get home?"

She put her arms around him and gave him a hug, "Silly grandpa. If I come back to tell you things are fine I might really mess things up."

"I guess that's right." The hug felt good. She might be a year or two younger than Kim. How very strange to have a granddaughter as old as her mother.

"How long until I see your sisters."

"You know too much now. I'm sorry."

"Can you do me one favor?"

"Maybe," she answered cautiously. "What is it?"

"If I'm still alive, when it's tomorrow for you, take me out for ice cream and let me know I can finally admit to Anne I knew this - the pressure on me is going to be awful."

She squeezed her grandfather tightly, "For you, grandpa, anything… But maybe you shouldn't tell grandma. She might be mad you didn't tell her."

"I've got a few years to decide. Promise - ice cream on your tomorrow and let me know I'm free to talk."

"I promise."

He handed her the time device, and after a final hug and kiss on the cheek she disappeared.

James Possible sighed. He felt certain he'd never forget this day, but in case he did he would write up a little slip of paper and stick it in his wallet. After his granddaughter took him out for ice cream he would have to call Kim and warn her about her younger daughter and Francis.

-The End-