The Cold Calamity
"99, I think there's something wrong with Maxine."
And that was how the start of Maxwell Smart's day off began. The super
spy of CONTROL had gotten up at the same time he did everyday, out of habit,
and ventured to get his children ready for daycare. After since his wife
had started back at their place of business, finding someone to watch their
rambunctious five year old twins was a hectic one. 99's mother was out
of town during that week and so the two spies decided the local daycare
would be fine until the children started kindergarten in the fall.
So being up so early in the morning, on his day off, Max figured he'd see his two precious little darlings before they headed out. He walked down the hall of the second story of their new house ~which cost him a fortune of course~ and walked into the shared bedroom the twins usually slept in. He'd actually gotten the house cheap ~compared to most at the time~ and it was the one 99 wanted. They had discussed getting a much bigger house when the twins got older, Max thought she meant when they were teenagers, but the look in her eye told him she meant like now. So, he had gotten it. He had saved some extra money anyway, mostly for the twins' college fund, and used it to get the house they passed by on the way to and from work.
As he walked into the room, he saw his son, Zachary, already dressed in a nice white button shirt and nice black shorts, along with his favorite pair of sneakers. He was standing in the small mirror, combing his still wet hair and styling it. He was making "come hither" faces in the mirror as he combed. Max couldn't help but smile at his son's antics. A little Maxwell Smart in the making. He began looking for his cute-as-a-button daughter, expecting to see her emerge from the bathroom, dressed and ready to go, but what he saw alarmed him greatly.
Little Maxine Smart, named for her father, still lay in bed. Her normally adorable face looking puffy and sickly. She had a small string of snot which was slowly emerging from her small nose. Above anything, she looked horrible. The first thing Max did was panic, thinking his poor little cupcake was dying right in front of him. Before he rushed out and called for the paramedics, he remembered something 99 had told him, about jumping to conclusions and calling upon the help and resources of trained professionals.
She told him not to do it anymore.
So instead, he relied on the one person who would know what was wrong with his little princess. "99, I think there's something wrong with Maxine." he called.
Zachary turned from admiring himself in the mirror. "She was like that when I got up." he said. "I mourned her in my own, small way, then I began thinking of what kind of pet I would like. I then came to the conclusion that I want a baby brother."
"Zachary, that isn't nice." replied his mother as she came into the room.
The young woman took a seat on her daughter's bed and felt her forehead and cheeks. "Oh sweetie, you're burning up." she exclaimed, feeling the unnatural warmth her child was giving off.
"I don't feel well, Mommy." the little girl croaked, sniffing back the flem that wanted out.
99 made a sad face at her daughter, knowing that cold and flu season was
in full effect. They had just gotten both twins and themselves flu shots
~three complained and cried afterwards~ but she knew any moment, one of
them might get the average, everyday cold. "Why don't you stay home today
with Daddy?" she cooed, stroking the girl's cheek. "He'll take care of
Max immediately started to panic. Again. He remembered the last time he took care of someone who was sick. It had been 99 in fact and it was right before that horrible San German incident. The spy remembered he had taken care of "his" girl and immediately gotten sick afterwards. Three times in fact, the duo had gone back and forth from one to the next being sick. It had been his fault though ~who knew drinking from a sick person's glass would make you sick as well?~ but that wasn't the point. The point was, every time someone got sick around him, he too would get sick.
"Um...99?" he called, from his position by the door. "Can I see you over here for a minute?"
99 looked at her husband and did as he asked. "What's wrong, Max?"
"I can't stay here and take care of Maxine!" he cried softly, as to not arouse his daughter's suspicions.
"And why not?" 99 asked, in that tone of voice Max didn't particularly care for. "It is your day off."
"That's not the point." he said. "It's the fact that she's sick. You know me pretty well, 99. Someone could think about getting a cold and I would catch it. Someone could mention that his grandmother has a friend who has a friend with a cold and I would catch it. You know I'm very susceptible."
"You're a hypochondriac, Max."
99 turned away from him, that familiar look that told him he would be doing what she had told their daughter. Max sighed. This was not looking up to be his best day off.
Max had tried to get out of this new adventure he didn't want to partake in. He had begged and pleaded and it had all fallen on deaf ears, as his wife and son left for the morning. The secret agent now sat on the couch downstairs, flipping through boring channels with nothing on them. It wasn't that he didn't want to take care of his daughter, but she was sick and he would probably end up catching it. His thoughts temporarily interrupted by the pitter patter of little pajama feet alerted him that Maxine had come from downstairs and was coming towards him.
"I thought Mommy said to stay in bed." he said, as the little girl climbed the couch and sat beside him.
"I got lonely." she replied, looking up at him.
Max never got tired of looking at his children. They were so much like 99 and himself, it was freakish in a way, but their looks always told a different story. Max had gotten his wish when Zachary looked at him with those big blue eyes of his. Max had always wanted his son to have 99's eyes ~they were so beautiful on her~ and he figured they would be wonderful in their son. Both twins looked like their mother, except Maxine had her father's dark and sometime color changing green eyes. And both twins had their father's stubborn streak.
No mistaking that.
Max smiled at the girl and said, "Okay. Let's find something to do then. There's nothing on TV."
"The Sadie and Max the Bunny Show is on." Maxine piped up.
"What's the Sadie and Max the Bunny Show?"
Maxine sat up straight and began to sing, the best she could, the theme to the best darned show on television. "Sadie and Max the Bunny. Two private eyes going down the street. Sadie and Max the Bunny. Two funny people like you'd like to meet. She's Sadie and she's a little dog and she's a big baby when she's not on vacation and then there's Maxie and he's a bunny and he runs around looking for those carrots and there's Markie, he's another puppy and he's the boss that they report to. And then evil Slug monster comes around and tries to take the town, but there's only one thing stopping him! Sadie and Max the Bunny. Coming round the bend to take out the bad guys, yes it's Sadie and Max the Bunny. The Sadie and Max the Bunny Show!"
Max applauded, as Maxine took her little bows. Max quickly turned the channel to a previous station that had had a commercial on and sure enough, there was the Sadie and Max the Bunny Show, coming live from New York. They were at the cartoon segment of the show, featuring of course, the continuing adventures of Sadie, the crime fighting chow, and Max the Bunny, her crime fighting bunny partner. That day's episode was the second part of a four parter, in which Sadie is kidnapped by the evil Slug Monster and it's up to Max and Markie, their Labrador retriever boss, to stop his fiendish plot.
"Know why I like this show, Daddy?" Maxine asked, leaning against her father's shoulder.
"Cause Max the Bunny is named after us."
Max smiled and nodded. "Sure is." he said. "But he's not as neat as we are, huh?"
The girl giggled and said, "Nope."
The two spent the first part of the morning watching Maxine's favorite cartoons, all of which Max immediately liked as well. There was Captain Kangaroo, then the Super Friends, then the Wiggles and Giggles Show ~which was just plain weird, but funny~ Wacky Races, and of course Sadie and Max the Bunny. All in all, Max had a pretty good time.
"Daddy, I'm hungry." the girl said, once more looking up at her father.
"Do you want some soup or something?" Max asked. The child nodded enthusiastically.
"Okay." he said, trying to remember if they indeed had some soup in the house. "We'll...have some soup."
He took his daughter by the hand and lead her to the dining room table
and helped her into her seat. He then ventured into the kitchen and looked
around in confusion. It was rare for him to be in the kitchen, aside from
breakfast, which he could make himself, but making anything other than
toast and cereal and pouring some milk, Max really had no clue on how to
make soup. He didn't even know if they owned pots and pans. And if so,
where would they be? Well, obviously in the kitchen, but...
Max stood with his eyes closed, trying to think. Come on, Maxie boy, he thought. You can do this. You've beaten hundreds of KAOS agents, destroyed dozens of KAOS plots, and come very close to destroying the organization. You've saved the world more times then you can count. Surely you can make a little bowl of chicken noodle for your sick daughter. "Okay." he said to himself. "If I was a can of chicken noodle soup, where would I be?" He thought for a few minutes more and came to the answer.
Max walked over to the freezer and opened it. And searched for a grueling five minutes with no luck. Closing the door in defeat and shaking his head ~he was sure the chicken soup would be where they kept the chicken~ he walked back to the door. He could hear another coughing attack grip his young daughter and it made him just felt sick inside as well. He concentrated harder this time and came up with another idea.
He had seen and helped 99 put things into the cabinet before, so he knew
there had to be stuff there. First he checked the bottom cabinets and yelped
in joy. He had found the pots and pans. Removing one, he arose and began
looking in the top cabinets and gave another cry of joy. He had found Oreo
cookies. And lo and behold, behind the cookies, was a can of Campbell's
chicken noodle soup. Max almost fell to the floor and cried, he was so
He put the pot on the stove and read the instructions on the back of the can. It seemed easy enough. All he had to do was turn the stove on, pour the noodles and broth into the pot, pour water into the same can, and pour that over the stuff in the pot. It was fool proof. Even he, the great Maxwell Smart, couldn't screw this up. The super spy followed the instructions to the letter and began making the soup and was finished just in time to hear Maxine calling his name. He went out into the dining room, leaving the soup still cooking, on the stove.
"One kid's meal and a Big Mac please."
Max sat in the car, little sickly Maxine sitting in the backseat couching up a storm, and her little teddy bear next to her. They were currently in the McDonald's drive through aisle, getting some food. Max felt horrible at how he had ruined that perfectly good pot of soup and felt even worse when Maxine got that sad look in her eye as she walked into the kitchen after hearing him scream. He was even more worried about what 99 would say when she would come home later.
She'd kill him.
It had all started when he had walked into the dining room to see what Maxine wanted. A tissue. So he got one from the guest room downstairs, handed it to her and walked back into the kitchen. As he walked in, he smelled something horrible, like something was burning...
"The soup!" he exclaimed, seeing the yellow juice rising, or rather overflowing, from the pot on the stove. It was on the floor and all over the clean stove. When he reached to turn it off, his stomach hit the front and he burned his own shirt. Not only that, but he spilled some of the very hot soup down the front. Maxine, hearing her father's screams, walked into the kitchen to see her father jumping up and down in pain, his shirt with a yellow stain and soup leaking on to the floor and stove.
"What happened, Daddy?" she asked.
Max stopped long enough to sputter, "Ah...nothing. Nothing! Everything's okay, sweetie."
"Then how come lunch is on the floor?"
Max looked from the stove and the ruined soup and felt like crying. He had single-handedly ruined lunch for his sick daughter. Right then and there, he swore he would never enter the kitchen again. "Daddy, I'm still hungry." she whined. Max sighed inwardly and looked upward toward the ceiling, mentally pleading for some help. Suddenly from the background he heard a commercial.
"Hungry?" the advertiser asked.
Max and Maxine nodded.
"Then come to McDonald's for some wonderful value meals." he continued. "And for a limited time, every kid gets a special figure from the Sadie and Max the Bunny show. Only in a McDonald's Happy Meal. And for you adults, a Big Mac is just a dollar."
Max smiled and whispered, "Thank you."
So they had gotten into the car and headed for the magical place that harbored their lunch. The attendant handed Max their food and then took their money and watched the spy and his daughter speed away. Maxine quickly took her Happy Meal box and began looking for her toy. She got Max the Bunny. "Look Daddy!" she cried, trying to show Max her toy. "I got Max the Bunny!"
"Hey, that's great, sweetie." Max said, smiling.
He had made her happy again. Thank goodness for five year olds.
After the fast food had been eaten and the drive had helped soothe Maxine's sniffles, the two came back home. Max carried his daughter inside and put her in the guest room downstairs. The girl had fallen asleep in the backseat and Max didn't think either of them could make it up to the second floor. So he deposited her in the spare room and went into the kitchen to see what he could salvage before his wife and son came back home.
Agent 99 sat in her office, going over some files that the Chief had instructed her to go over. On the floor, sat her son, Zachary, coloring in a very large cartoon book. Upon arriving at the day care center, the two had learned it was closed for the day, due to the caretaker's noticee of a death in the family. Not knowing where else they could go, 99 reluctantly told Zachary they were going to CONTROL and she would watch him there.
Zachary had gotten extremely excited. He loved hanging out at work with his parents. Though he was still young, both he and his sister knew their parents work was dangerous, but they were also helping the world be a better place for them and maybe their own children one day. Just thinking about all the good his parents were bringing into the world, Zachary's heart swelled. That's what he wanted to do when he got older. He wanted to work for CONTROL and make the world a better place. He wasn't sure about Maxine. Every once in a while she showed promise, like when she could open locked doors and handle lasers and stuff, but sometimes, Zachary didn't think his sister would make a very good spy.
99 drove towards CONTROL headquarters, making regular glances in the rearview mirror. The happy look that Zachary got on his face whenever they headed towards headquarters not only filled her with joy, but fear as well. As much as she loved being a spy, she didn't want her children to enter into the life. How many times had she thought she had lost her own husband, the boy's father, in countless battles with the enemy. Time and time again, the young agent had thought about throwing in the towel and retiring, but she always got the urge to be back in action. She had been given six months off after the twins were born and though she loved it, it become increasingly boring after a while. She craved the excitement of a mission, the adrenaline she got while in the heat of battle and the joy and fulfillment she got when a mission was a success and one less KAOS agent was on the streets to do anymore harm.
As she looked back at the smiling young face of her son, she had to ask herself, was that so bad? Was it so bad that their children wanted to join the fight in saving the world from danger and making it safe? Her emotions went back and forth, as they always had. On one hand, no. It wasn't bad at all. She and Max had taught the children right as they began to walk the things they needed to know to keep them safe from harm. Already the two were learning German and French and Spanish from their parents, even before they could fully read. Both were enrolled in martial arts classes even before they had entered kindergarten. Both knew a bit about the secret weapons their parents dealt with on a daily basis, even before they could ride a bicycle. Max certainly wanted his children to follow in their footsteps and keep the world safe after they were gone and 99...
Then the other side took control. Yes, of course it was wrong to allow children so young, her children in fact, to have planted in their little minds that killing and hurting people was okay, as long as it was in the line of duty. It was most certainly wrong that they looked forward to accompanying their parents to work, especially when under extreme circumstances of danger. There had been more than one time that a red alert had gone off while the twins had been in the office and more than once had they begged their parents to come along. It was bad enough that at any point in time, the twins could easily become orphans, but the very thought that she and Max could lose the twins at any given moment was even worse.
99's inner struggle continued as she drove into the underground parking lot and found her usual parking space. Zachary unbuckled himself and jumped out, excitedly, waiting for his mother to emege as well. 99 got out and took Zachary by the hand, as they took the secret entrance into the underground secret organization. Stopping short from going through the phone booth at the end of the hall, which was really a secret elevator, the two took the real transporation down to the basement where the doors opened to reveal a cozy outer office. A middle aged man sat at a nearby desk, filling out paperwork. He gave a smile when the two entered.
"Hi 99." replied Larabee, the office secretary. "Hey Little Zach."
"Hi Uncle Larabee!" the boy shouted, searching through the glass container full of lollipops.
"What do you say, Zachary?" 99 asked, as she made her way to the office door.
"You're out of red." the boy replied.
"I know." Larabee said. "I ate the last one after the Chief yelled at me."
"Larabee..." 99 sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Want a green instead?"
"Sure." Zachary exclaimed, taking the green lolli from his uncle's hand. "Thanks."
99 smiled at the earlier incident. Zachary was beginning to be more and more like Max everyday. A reasonable scary thought to say the least, but otherwise, very adorable. Zachary was coloring a large dinosaur, when he felt that someone was looking at him. Very slowly, he looked up to see his mother staring at him. "Something wrong, Mommy?" he asked, thinking of a prepared statement for whatever he had done.
"Nothing's wrong, sweetheart." she said, smiling. "I was just thinking of how much like your father you are."
Zachary smiled as well. "Is it my rugged good looks?" he asked. "Or my irr...irris..."
"Yeah!" the boy cried. "My ir-re-sis-table charm?"
"A little of both." his mother stated, causing the boy to smile even bigger. "I wonder what your father and sister are doing right now?"
Zachary's smile faded just a little. Now why she have to bring them into the conversation? "Do you think they're having a better time than us, Mommy?" he asked.
"No." she laughed. "I was just wondering, that's all. Come on. Let's get some lunch."
"Oh boy!" Zachary jumped up from his spot on the floor. "I love the deli food. It's so yummy. Do you think I'll have food like that in school next year, Mommy?"
"I don't..." 99 started, just to be interrupted.
"I wonder what's for lunch." Zachary continued, taking his mother's hand and leading her out of the office. "What do you think's for lunch, Mommy?"
"I wonder if they're have hamburgers." the boy continued. "I like hamburgers. Do you like hamburgers, Mommy? I like the ones from McDonald's. Hey, do you think we can go to McDonald's, Mommy? I like McDonald's cause they have burgers and cheeseburgers and playland..."
"What're you doing?"
Max had awoken from a nice nap, he didn't even know he was tired, and went to check on Maxine. When he looked into the spare room, she wasn't there. He looked in the kitchen, the backyard, and still couldn't find her. Then he went upstairs and discovered the small girl, seated around a table with her stuffed animals. "What're you doing?" he asked, leaning against the doorjam.
"Tea party, Daddy." was the girl's reply, as she started to pour tea for her lion cub, Mickey.
"Oh, a tea party, huh?" Max asked.
The girl nodded. "Uh huh."
Max looked at the scene strangely and in confusion. "Wanna join us, Daddy?"
Maxine asked, looking expectantly at her father. Max wasn't sure what he
should say. On the one hand, he was a grown man. He couldn't be having
tea with small, stuffed animals. What if they guys at work found out? It
would be more embarrassing than when they found out about his teddy bear,
Mr. Hugginstuff. But on the second hand, Max had never been to a little
girl's tea party before. He'd never even known about them, until he had
a daughter of his own.
He had first heard about them when Zachary had come storming and stomping downstairs one day, looking very mad and upset. He explained to his parents that Maxine had kidnapped his GI Joe and he was now sitting at a table having tea. 99 had told him to ask Maxine for it back and the boy left to do his task. Max had then turned to her and asked, "What's that about?" When she started to say something about sibling rivarly, Max shook his head and said, "No, no. This tea party thing."
99 had laughed, but then explained it was just something that every little girl did. Max still didn't understand it, definitely a girl thing, but as he stood in the entrance of his daughter's bedroom, the growing urge to discover this "womanly ritual" just struck him as something that looked interesting, something that looked...fun. "Sure." he said, walking inside. "I think I will have some tea." Maxine smiled and offered her father a smll seat. "Eh..." he stammered, knowing he wouldn't be able to sit in the little chair. "Why don't I sit on the bed here?"
It was an eye opening experience for Max. He had never done anything like this when he was little. All he did was play sports and watch cartoons and read comic books, but this...it was like little girl's were in a class of their own. First, there was no tea. Well, imaginary tea as the guests couldn't have real tea, as Maxine explained it to him. Then, each stuffed animal had a voice and personality of their own. Mr. Beasley was a gruff teddy bear who complained he didn't get enough sugar in his tea. Hello Kitty introduced herself to Max and asked if he would like a bisquit. When Max declined, her friend Keroppi asked if he could have it. Zachary's GI Joe sat next to Max and gave orders to say grace, which Maxine said wasn't necessary.
As Max drank his non-exsistent tea, he observed the interesting experience he was now in. Looking at Maxine, he wondered if 99 ever had tea parties with her father as a little girl. He figured she probably did, but he wondered if her father ever understood why he was sitting there having imaginary tea and talking to stuffed snimals.
"Having fun, Daddy?"
Max turned to look at his daughter's still red and puffy face and smiled. Even though she looked slightly better than she had that morning, she was smiling. And she was happy. "Absolutely, Cookie." he said, rising his small pink cup high. "Absolutely."
99 closed the door, as Zachary bounced inside the house. The young agent looked around and noticed things seemed to be okay. Maxine and Max were sitting on the couch, Maxine wrapped in a large blanket and drinking from a cup.
"Hi Mommy!" she called.
99 walked over and felt her forehead. "Your fever went down." she said, reaching into her pocket. She pulled out a bottle of Children's Tylenol cough syrup. "I bought some Tylenol from the store on the way home." she continued. "This'll make you sleep a little better tonight."
"Thank you, Mommy." the girl said, turning back around to watch the TV.
"Nope." Max replied, giving his wife a kiss on the cheek. "Everything went perfectly fine."
"I told you you'd be okay." she said, heading towards the kitchen. Max paled slightly.
"Whatcha watchin', Pop?" Zachary asked, sitting on the couch next to his father.
"Um..." Max started, but was interrupted as 99 reemerged from the kitchen.
"Maxwell, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment?"
Max gulped as he stood up, head hanging, and went to the kitchen. Zachary scooted over to his sister. "Know what we did?" he asked, a huge smile on his face. "I got to go to work with Mommy today and we had lunch in the deli and Larabee gave me a lollipop and then we talked to the Chief and then we went to the store, where I asked the clerk about this sign that Mommy told me not to ask again until I was 16 and the clerk gave me a dollar so I wouldn't tell his boss!" Zachary smiled and leaned back. "So what you do today?"
"Nothing." came the reply.
The two children sat back on the couch, watching TV, as their parents discussed cleaning arrangements in the kitchen.