Changing Faces

One day, maybe, I'll learn to relax. But today is not that day. And tomorrow isn't looking too promising. I should know better--I do know better! It's just...my entire life seems to be drawn to this one person who stymies me, infuriates me, annoys me, hypnotizes me, paralyzes me...it was fun at first, knowing that I could best him at almost every turn, that no matter how smart he might be, that I would still be the golden girl. I would always be the one who was pretty, popular, and ultimately superior. Somewhere along the line, that changed.

Don't look at me like that, I'm still all of those things, it's just...they don't seem to be as important anymore. And it's because of him, as much as all the worst parts of me don't want to admit it. It's because of him. I used to wonder what it was that made him so special, what gave him the right to change me, my priorities, my way of life. I used to think that there wasn't anything special about him, he was just an annoying boy with an oversized head and a mind-dashingly high I.Q. that gave him this air of arrogance, superiority, and condescension. And he was those things. But then I would look closer and realize that I was trying to show him up just as much as he was showing me up. Mutual competition and rivalry. It's fueled our relationship, our dislike...and also our intensity. I knew it was happening, though. The intensity. I could feel it in my chest, and I would turn the sum total of myself to the sole task of besting Jimmy Neutron. All other concerns were secondary. And that kind of rivalry, hatred, intensity, well...I was a fool to think that it could ever lead anywhere but here. Looking back, I'm forced to wonder if I really wanted it to lead anywhere else. Perhaps, for a time, I honestly did.

I used to be content. I was happy with who I was, I was happy with my ambitions, and having Libby as my only close friend was just fine. After all, it's best to have that one confidant you can count on, having too many people who know your weaknesses can only lead to trouble. So what if she was the one to see the tension building before I did? What mattered back then is that I could be the winner, that I always came out ahead of him. And, more often that not, I did. But it wasn't a sustainable way of life.

Too often, for the sole purpose of proving my superiority, of proving myself right, of being the better one, I would get wrapped up in his crazy adventures and schemes. Suddenly, there I was, standing alongside King Cranium with a scowl on my face, while Tweedledee and Tweedledumber kept us company. That didn't last for long, and soon I pulled Libby into the rivalry as my ally, though sometimes she got fed up with both of us. Still, it was somewhere around this point, where I started to become involved and not just a sideliner or a victim, this is where it all began, ever so slowly, to change. Because of these adventures, I saw things I never would have otherwise. The depths of the ocean, the mysteries of space. The world from the view of an ant, comic book superpowers...things I can hardly even recount, but when I think about it all...I know it made me feel less self-important. A little, anyway. Just enough to make me realize that he wasn't what I had always thought. He wasn't trying so hard to impress anyone. Well, okay, maybe Boring Bombshell Betty Quinlan, but she doesn't count! She's not the real deal, and she certainly has no right to pry into our affairs!

Okay, okay, so I get a little possessive. I can live with that! I'm not going to apologize for who I am. Besides, what was I supposed to do? Something big was unfolding, whether I wanted to admit it or not, and there was no way that I would let her or anyone else steal it from me! I didn't want to believe it at the time, but it was happening. It wasn't about just being right anymore. It wasn't about being smarter, or better, or any of that. It was about making him see that I was a colleague. Okay, maybe I'm no super genius. I don't pretend to be, and I don't want to be. Retroville can't take another one of those, it can barely contain Jimmy as it is! I just want him to see me as an equal, genius or not. I want him to listen to my contributions. I want him to acknowledge that I'm smart and that I can keep up if he'll just take the time talk me through things. I want to contribute. I want to help. I want to be a part of his team, his partner. Because I want to keep exploring the universe. I want to keep seeing things that I could never without his help. I'm not content to just sit back and have an ordinary life anymore. I suppose the truth is that he ruined that for me. But maybe that was what I wanted all along. So I want to be there with him. To be his partner. I want to be the person he jumps up and down with whenever he breaks another barrier of math and science. I want to be the person he looks at forlornly when one of his experiments fail. And I want to be that girl that he thinks about before he goes to sleep and when he wakes up in the morning. It's something that's been building for a long time. A history of stolen glances, halting conversations, his hand in mine...it's something we should just fall back and let happen. Maybe we are. Maybe I have. Sometimes I just have to sit back and let myself grin.

And I still am grinning. Whenever I'm certain no one else is looking. It was short and sweet and even a little chaste, but the way his lips brushed over mine finally told me what I've been waiting for so very long to know. It wasn't anything like I imagined it would be, not after all the near misses, the interruptions, the scheming of fate to keep us from sealing our little partnership. We don't need to talk about it, it's just there. It has been for some time, though my mind wouldn't let it rest until he made his move. It's the mind heart dichotomy. What you know, versus what you know . And now that I do know, in every sense of the word, well, I don't want to miss a thing. It's like there's this whole new spirit of adventure welling up inside of me. Only now, I have a place to lay my head at night. A shoulder to cry on. And someone to stare at the universe with, wide-eyed like a newborn. There's an entirely different way of seeing the world around us, and in those moments when we're in sync, when we're on the same wavelength, that's when I can see it too. The possibilities. The potential that lies within everything, the chance to take a creative spark and turn zero into one, to create something from nothing. I can see it then, and it's almost as though we're in a world of our own. And now I think I understand what Libby was always trying to say when I would grill her about what she sees in that hopeless geek Sheen. Sometimes you just click with someone for whatever the reason, and you just have to explore it. You have to realize that potential, let it unfold. And it's time that I did the same

Is it love? There was a time when I would have been loath to even consider such a thing. But now, when I'm honest with myself...yes. I think so. I really do. But I'm not going to rush it. That would ruin the fun! And just because there's a new level of understanding between us, doesn't mean that I'm going to make everything easy for him. After all, I do have appearances to keep up. And if we don't subject each other to some good old-fashioned, passive-aggressive torturing, well, then we might forget how we became attracted to each other in the first place. And that simply isn't something that I'm willing to risk. Everything that's worth doing, is worth doing all the way. From here on out, it's a leap into the great unknown. And while I ordinarily don't like to put myself into situations where I'm not in control, this time, I'm filled with a feeling of excitement. It's a vast universe, Neutron, let's go exploring.

Author's Notes

Quick note, if you're looking for any kind of mood enhancing music for this piece, my personal recommendation is Baby O'Riley (Remixed) by The Who. Some people may be more familiar with the name Teenage Wasteland if you don't know what song I'm referring to.

Honestly, there's no reason for my writing this fic. Truth be told, I had just decided to reacquaint myself with this series on a more familiar level, and I truly had nothing better to do at work. I was trying to work on writing a new chapter of Gravity (which I currently have more than two thousand words on for those still begging I update it), but I just couldn't seem to concentrate. I kept getting drawn back to the Jimmy Neutron series. But I realized that I didn't want to take on another fanfiction project, I've got too many of those going already. So I just started jotting down some random thoughts on Cindy's character, and before I knew it, I had my own little narrative that kept expanding and expanding into what you now see before you. Ordinarily I wouldn't consider it worth exploring any further, but it's been a long time since I've published anything, and I just figured, why not post this, if for no other reason to prove that I still do write. Occasionally. When I can find the time. And I feel like it. Also, as I finish, it occurs me to me that Cindy is the one member of Nickelodeon's Angry Blonde Brigade that I have yet to officially work with. It's high time that I showed the Brigade's junior member some love, so here's a start. Perhaps, one day, I will do something more substantial. Almost certainly, considering my angry blonde infatuation!

I'm not going to rant much, but the ugly fact of the matter is that I'm thirty, I work long hours, I try to have half of a personal life, and my line of work mostly involves being yelled at by customers while trying to meet up with the ever increasing expectations of my employer. Simply put, it's hard for me to find the time, energy, and creativity to write these days. It's like the stars have to be in some kind of mystical alignment. Still, I do it from time to time. If there are any Codename: Kids Next Door fans out there, please check out Synaptic-Firefly's Before Dishonor. I completely co-wrote the story with her through an IM window over the course of several nights, and she took the time to edit and compile the entire thing, turning it into something worth reading. I love her for doing it, and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to create something like that.

At any rate, if you couldn't tell after reading this fic, I tried to focus on all the little consequences and scenarios that would likely be running through the blonde girl's head through the end of the series. I tried to keep everything in balance, changed from the harsher young girl from the front of the series, but not overly mushy and untrue to her character either. There's a new plane of her existence that she'll soon be exploring, so I thought this would be a neat way to approach it. Sadly, because it's so introspective and utterly plotless, I do find it hard to come up with a decent summary. And I'm not just going to type "Cindy's thoughts after Lady Sings The News." It just doesn't do what I tried to accomplish any sense of justice, I feel. So, with any luck, this story will amass a few visits on name recognition. I'm kind of counting on that to sell it, which means I've reached a point in my fanfiction career that is bordering on hubris, I love having fans, avid readers who crave what I write. It makes me happy—not for their praises, but because the stupid little things that I write make them happy. As such, I don't like putting myself in the position that I have to rely on them for a story to get traction. It's not as though they're obligated to read it because I wrote it. And that's not really the relationship that I wish to cultivate between author and reader. Too much of that will only lead to lazy and self-indulgent writing, and if all of my work begins to head in that direction, then I like to think that I'll have the decent sense to retire.

To be honest, I've thought more than once about retirement from fanfiction. I'm not bored with it by a long shot, I just find myself doing less and less of it, because it's been ten years since I first started publishing stuff and as I'm sure you can imagine, my life has changed a lot within that same period of time. I've always wanted to go out on top rather than burn out. However, for any of you out there that are panicking, please stop. I promise you, repeatedly, that I would never retire without finishing the stories that I've already opened. I'm not just going to up and quit the business until I'm satisfied with everything, and I won't be so long as I have open stories to work on. Ideally, somebody with a lot of resources will one day put me up in a nice apartment somewhere so I can quit my thankless job and have enough hours in the week to focus on genuine writing. I truly would love that. So would my readers. But I'm not going to get very far in life counting on the benevolence of others, so the reality is that most everything I write will be finished "when it's finished." Be that as it may, though, whether you've been following my work for years or this is the first thing of mine you've ever read, I'm glad you came, and I hope that I managed to make you happy. Because in the end, that's what it's all about. Making an emotional connection with you, the reader. Hopefully, the next time we meet, I'll have something more substantial for you to share in, but for now, any thoughts you have on this work are appreciated. This fic is definitely uncharted waters, since I'm a virgin when it comes to working with these characters. And of course, you can always reach out to me directly. Thanks for reading!

Lord Malachite

4/4/10

12:56AM, EST

E-mail: ranger(underscore)writer(at)yahoo(dot)com

AIM: Asukaphile26

The Legal Lambada

This author claims no ownership of the Jimmy Neutron series or any of the characters contained herein. This self-contained work was created for public consumption at no profit with respect to the copyright holders. Any implication that the author claims any type of ownership or rights to the copyrighted material is hereby denounced and waived.