Business, Pleasure, by DoofusPrime
This is an entry for AmericanGecko's "minor character" story contest - the focus for this story, of course, being Jack Hench. Shego is a secondary focus of the story. Hope you guys enjoy it.
Cellular Displacement Beams. Phase Detection Glasses. Neutralizers. All of them were a balanced part of any supervillain's diet for destruction, and all of them were things Jack Hench had sold at one time or another. Although he still wasn't sure exactly what that last one did. Sometimes the scientists on his payroll could be a little obtuse about how they explained his newest products to him.
None of them were among the offerings Jack had on display at today's Villain Expo, however. A few odds and ends were scattered around his booth, a few cheap devices he was pawning off at an exorbitant price to gullible supervillain wannabes. But the main attraction, the current crème de la crème of Jack Hench's corporate collection of evil, was hanging on a display case right behind him:
The Invulnerator 2000.
The going price was high, but Jack felt confident someone would be interested. Hopefully someone with deep pockets and a wardrobe that needed sprucing up. It was just too bad he had to deal with Dementor right now.
"VAT are you TALKING about?"
"It's not just some T-shirt you can make with cheap child labor," Jack patiently explained. "My team of engineers took a long time to create this suit, and it's extremely valuable. I'm sorry, Professor Dementor, but I can't bring the price down any lower. You're paying for the high quality that comes with any Hench Co product."
"Zat is MUCH less reasonable than ze cost of mine henchmen's upgrades," said Dementor. He put his wallet away, but his gaze lingered longingly on the Invulnerator 2000.
"Speaking of henchmen," said Jack, "you haven't gotten anything to beef them up lately. Can I interest you in a special speed-enhancing concoction my scientists whipped up last week? We've got a special sale running. Two injections for the price of one! How about it?"
Dementor waved his hand dismissively before storming away from the booth in a huff. Jack shrugged; as far as his supervillain clients went, Dementor definitely got riled up much more easily than some of the others. Which was saying something. As far as he could see, getting easily riled up was some kind of prerequisite for joining the supervillain club. It was rare that one of his clients could keep the cool sense of poise that, for him, was second-nature. In fact, when it came to poise, the only person he could think of right off the bat was not exactly a supervillain at all. Although, if she ever put her mind to it...
Speak of the devil.
"Ah, Shego!" said Jack as a familiar woman garbed in green and black strode sinuously towards him. "Nice to see you here at the expo."
Although there were many other booths to visit at the Villain Expo, she seemed to have made a beeline for his own little setup. Jack was pleased; Shego was always one of his more pleasant customers, and it meant that his Invulnerator super suit was attracting a lot of high-profile attention. He hated when he came to an Expo with products that only attracted the likes of Beluga Boy, or the Tickling Terror. He really hated that last guy. Way too hands-on with his friendly greetings. And how tickling even had anything to do with supervillainy was beyond him.
"What's that?" asked Shego, pointing to the Invulnerator.
"That," said Jack, "is a brand new Hench Co product we like to call the Invulnerator 2000. A top-of-the-line full-body super suit, for all your superhero fighting needs."
"Why the 2000? I hear that all the time."
"A very good question. It was originally added to product names a long time ago, in order to bring associations with the year 2000 to mind and make the product seem more futuristic. People keep doing it out of tradition, but I'm sure that companies will start changing to 3000 sooner or later. Oh, and occasionally it's also because the product is in its 2000th model version."
"Interesting," said Shego.
Jack nodded in agreement. Maybe he was being a little too honest; making up something about the 2000 having to do with the super suit's cutting edge nature would have been a smarter move, but something about Shego brought out the conversationalist in him. "You know, it's modeled after the new suit Kim Possible's been using lately."
"How'd you pull that off?"
"Well, we took a number of surveillance photos, did some scans while she was fighting other villains. She has a little technical helper, Wade, who helps her with her gadgets – we traced what kind of supplies he got for the suit, hired some scientists to figure out what he might be doing. We even stole a few blueprints from his system."
"Right. And you did all this without Kimmie and her little tech boy noticing?"
"That's correct, Shego."
Shego scoffed a little. She was right, of course; Jack was fudging the truth a little, and maybe he had overplayed his little schtick. As far as he knew, nobody could break into that Wade kid's system, at least not without having their own system bombed in return. But the fact that she hadn't rolled her eyes and moved on to another booth was a good sign. "Interested in the suit?" he asked.
"I don't think so. It doesn't even come in green."
"Oh, it can come in any colors you like," laughed Jack as he beckoned for Shego to join him behind the booth table and get a closer look at the suit hung up on its display wall. "I would demonstrate it right now, but this is just a replica. I've learned my lesson about taking expensive products to Villain Expos without a good-sized crew of henchmen keeping an eye on things. Hench Co has been busy lately, so I came here at the last minute to show people some of the things we've been cooking up lately."
"I see," said Shego as she joined Jack and looked over the suit.
'Right here, Miss Go-"
"Don't call me that."
"Sorry. Now, right here," said Jack as he pointed to a little panel on the suit, "is where you can control a variety of the suit's functions. Changing its color is one customizable option, as I just mentioned; temporary visibility dampening is another useful feature; electrical pulse field, self-repair, and even a plasma-throwing glove feature. Just like the one Kim Possible uses!"
"Hate to break it to you, Hench, but I can already throw plasma."
"Yes, and it's an impressive power indeed, Shego. But this will actually amplify the power of your shots."
Shego arched an eyebrow. Although she was playing casual, Jack could tell that he was beginning to pique her interest. Setting the hook, letting her take the bait. Now all he had to do was reel her in. Nobody could resist his charm, especially when he had it working full-time selling one of his products.
He knew that Kim Possible's new super suit had caught the attention of a number of supervillains, even though she only seemed to use it intermittently, and so the Invulnerator 2000 had come fresh out of his corporate labs at a very opportune time. Shego seemed like she might be a reasonable customer; Professor Dementor had been particularly interested, but he kept ranting about how, instead of paying for an inferior product, he would simply find Kim Possible and steal her suit instead. Jack knew he had tried to do that already on one or two occasions.
Good luck pulling that off, he thought with a wry grin. Literally.
Shego looked at the tag with a frown. "Pricey."
"You're paying for the high quality that comes with any Hench Co product."
Jack gave her his best smile, flashing his pearly white teeth.
"I dunno, Hench. I like my suit as it is."
"Where's your boss?" asked Jack. "Perhaps he'd be interested in making the purchase."
Shego gave him a withering glare, and Jack immediately realized he had just made an inadvertent faux pas.
"You think I need Doctor D to make my purchases for me?"
"No, not at all," laughed Jack, "I just meant that-"
"What is this, some used car lot where I'm the wife who obviously doesn't know anything about cars?"
"I apologize, Shego. I simply meant that you might prefer getting Drakken to pay for the suit. Between the two of you, I always thought you seemed like the one who called the shots, and so I assumed you could easily persuade him. Besides – if a woman like you wants something, I don't see how any man could turn you down."
For a moment, Jack wondered if Shego was about to slash him with a clawed hand, or send him tumbling together with his booth over the expo floor in a blast of burning plasma. However, her muscles eased up, and her glare softened. After a moment, she even flashed him a smile.
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. That Hench charm to the rescue, once again.
"You've got a point," said Shego. She turned around and looked out over the other expo booths until she caught sight of a man in a blue suit and black mullet. "Drakken!" she yelled. "Get over here!"
As it turned out, the man was not Drakken; just some other no-name supervillain In a blue suit and a black mullet, but with decidedly normal-looking skin. Her yell still caught Drakken's attention, however, as he popped into view from where he had been leaning over and inspecting some products at another booth. He ambled over to Shego and joined her as she looked over Jack Hench's super suit.
"The Invulnerator 2000," said Jack to his new potential customer.
"I see," said Drakken. "And what is to stop us from just taking this right now?"
"Replica," said Shego.
"Your beautiful partner in evil is correct, Doctor Drakken. The real suit is locked in a sealed vault at Hench Co headquarters, and the combination is right here," said Jack with a smile, tapping on his head.
"Just one suit?" asked Shego. "That's not exactly a product line."
"Keeping it to one suit ups the value," said Hench. "After all, it's not very useful if everyone is running around with one of these babies on, is it?"
Once again, Shego did not look like she was totally convinced; Jack could tell it was hard to put one past her. As a matter of fact, there was only one suit in Hench Co's vaults at the moment, a prototype, but that wouldn't be the case for very long. Hench Co just didn't like to sink too much investment into a product unless they had an idea it was going to be popular.
"I could tap your brain for the combination," said Drakken, although, strangely, he sighed at the thought. "But that would require effort. And kidnapping..."
Jack Hench gave Drakken a cordial nod, as if to thank him for dropping the brain tapping option. Sometimes he wondered if coming to these Villain Expos was really worth all the trouble. At least he should have come with a few henchmen to back him up this time. Most of his henchmen were not very interesting to talk to, and the scientists on his payroll were about as socially adept as most technical types he had met. It would be nice to come with his receptionist, as she was quite friendly, but he got the feeling she wouldn't be able to do much in terms of guard duty.
He liked to go out into the field, though, soliciting new and old customers, as it helped him keep the Hench Co name going through supervillain circles. He liked taking an active role in his corporation, standing front and center as its CEO and namesake. Jack sincerely believed it was the best way to run things, and it was a way of hiding in plain view. Other corporations catering to supervillainy had been busted in the past – if they weren't absorbed by him in hostile takeovers - for raising too much suspicion, flying too far under the radar. Strangely enough, doing everything in the open worked better. Hench could persuade any regulators, any politicians, any police, that he was simply an entrepreneur trying to make a buck in hard times.
Having a few dollars laying around help sweeten his persuasion was always useful. As well as using the occasional brain tap of his own when some bureaucratic do-gooder with actual power got too nosy.
"Pricey," said Drakken as he looked at the price tag.
"You're paying for the high quality that comes with any Hench Co-"
"Yes, yes, very well," said Drakken. "We've already gotten too much at this expo."
"This might come in handy with Kim's new super suit," said Shego.
Jack smiled at her comment; it was exactly what he had been counting on. He nodded enthusiastically in agreement, but Drakken did not seem convinced. "We've spent entirely too much at this expo already," he said. "And Hench always charges ridiculous prices."
"I'm right here," said Jack.
"Come on, Doctor D, it even has a color changing-"
"I think not, Shego! Now excuse me, but I saw an intriguing miniature Annihilation Ray being sold at the other end of the expo. I'd like to ask them why you would want to miniaturize something that's suppose to destroy things, instead of making it bigger. Sheer insanity!"
Drakken left the Hench Co booth and disappeared into a passing expo crowd. Hench was not all that surprised to see him go; he had been hoping to get Shego to convince him to spot the money, as Shego seemed reluctant to purchase the super suit herself, but Drakken was a long shot as well. The man was a bit of a cheapskate. Not a regular Hench Co customer. But it had been worth a try, anyway. Maybe he'd exercise a little more of his charm on Shego.
"I'm a bit surprised you work for him," he said, trying to keep a conversation going before Shego also left the booth and he lost his chance. She leaned idly against the table, giving him a questioning look. "I only say that because you seem more competent than he is. I'm sure you could be a supervillain if you wanted to be one. If you had the right supplies, for instance," he said, tilting his head in the direction of the Invulnerator 2000.
"I don't want to," said Shego. "Too much of a hassle."
"I see. To be honest, I always thought it was because you and Drakken were an item."
"Not in a million years, Hench."
"So you're single?"
Jack wondered if he was pushing a little too hard, but sometimes his irrepressible way with the ladies got ahead of him. Shego seemed like the type to appreciate a guy as classy as he was, anyway. If she was hesitant about forking over the cash for the Invulnerator 2000, maybe he could flirt his way into a sale. And even if it didn't work, it was hard not to put the moves on someone like Shego.
He waited for an answer, but Shego looked him over quietly, as if unsure of how to respond. Maybe she was with Drakken and just didn't want to admit it. She had made that wife comment, after all, although maybe she had just been speaking figuratively. Before long, though, her suspicious look slowly changed as her mouth twisted into an amused grin. "Tell you what," she said. "I'm not interested in your little suit – at least not for that price. But I might be interested in something else."
She reached for a pen and one of the Hench Co mailing list forms that Jack kept on the booth's desk. As he watched, she scribbled something on the back. He couldn't see it, but once she was finished, she passed it over to him before leaving the booth without a word. Jack considered stopping her, but he was momentarily mesmerized by a certain swing in her hips, and what was more, he knew that she had said whatever she wanted to say with her pen. He looked down to see what she had written:
A phone number.
Even with his flirting, Jack hadn't been expecting it. But if he wasn't going to make a sale, this was about as good as he could hope for as a consolation prize. And from a younger woman, too. He still had it!
There was no denying it: Shego looked even more gorgeous in a dress than she did in her skin-tight green and black outfit. Jack wondered if he had ever seen her wearing anything but her harlequin uniform. Seeing one of his villainous customers dressed in something casual – or something fancy, in this case – was a rare event. The sight was always a bit jarring. Tonight, it was jarring in a good way.
"And so that's when he invited Kimmie into the escape pod and we all celebrated Christmas together," said Shego as she finished her story. "So yeah, he's a weird guy."
Jack nodded. He didn't need Shego to tell him Drakken was a weird guy, although comparatively speaking, he could be a lot weirder. He was used to dealing with some strange customers in his time. All part and parcel of the business of evil. He was surprised by how much Shego seemed to be talking about Drakken - and Kim Possible, for that matter. He supposed they were both a big part of her life, although he was well aware that Shego and Kim were archenemies. She must be a little fixated on her teen foe if she was talking about her on a date, Jack thought.
The two of them lapsed into a brief silence as they ate a few more bites of their steak, although it wasn't an awkward silence. Jack watched Shego as she ate. She wasn't particularly messy and she had good table manners, but he thought there was something distinctly predatory in the way she consumed her steak. Animalistic, even. Maybe he was just imagining it. At least she seemed to be enjoying herself.
He was having a good time as well; when he had first dialed the number Shego had given him at the Villain Expo and arranged a date with her, he had been unsure about whether she was seriously interested, or whether she'd just end up trying to seduce him into giving her a lower price on the Invulnerator 2000. It seemed like a lot of work just to get a discount on a super suit, though. Even if he was right in suspecting that Shego was a bit insecure about having to contend with Kim Possible's fancy new battle suit in future fights. Wining and dining, just for a few bucks off? Somehow it seemed far-fetched.
Which was why Jack was starting to convince himself she was actually interested in him. Judging by the way their date had gone so far, it seemed quite probable. They hadn't even brought up the super suit, and Shego had been feeding him various amusing tales of her long career with Doctor D, as she liked to call him. As far as dates went, this one seemed to be going pretty well. Jack felt like he deserved it. He could definitely be a bit of a workaholic, so this was a nice change of pace. Whether he was here for business or pleasure – or a little of both - it was worth taking time off.
Fine dining at a classy establishment, with a beautiful lady sitting across from him. What could be bad about that?
"Tell me," said Shego, "what made you get into the supervillain supplies and accessories business, anyway?"
"Oh, that's quite a long story."
"We have some time," said Shego, glancing at a clock on the wall.
"Jack nodded and thought back to his childhood. "Well, I guess it started with my parents."
"Doesn't it always."
"They owned a farm in Iowa. I lived there with them, helping tend the fields and raise the crops."
A spray of red wine peppered the white tablecloth with spots as it burst out of Shego's mouth. She snorted with laughter, holding a napkin up to herself as her outburst subsided. "Sorry," she said, "just the thought of you picking crops – you've got to be kidding me."
"No, I'm afraid not," said Jack. He wondering if maybe Shego's table manners were not as good as he had first thought. "They were both very religious people. Very strict in passing their Biblical virtues on to me. Daily prayers, Sunday school, sermons in the value of living simply. The whole shebang," he laughed.
"I could see how that might make you avoid the whole traditional morality thing, but what does farming with mom and pop have to do with wanting to sell stuff?"
"We'd sell some of our crops at a weekly farmer's market in town, whenever we had anything to sell. Sometimes we'd sell wooden knick-knacks, too. Jewelry boxes, cases, those weird old dwarf things with the beards that you cut out of logs. My mother had a knack for that kind of thing. My father would bring me to the market with him when I was young, and once I was old enough, they'd send me there alone once they realized I was good at it. I don't know if I had a natural talent or if it developed over time, but I just had the magic touch. Or the magic tongue, you could say. I could sell a man a rotten tomato, watch him take a bite out of it, and hear him say it was the best thing he ever tasted."
"Hmm," pondered Shego, "and do you still sell any rotten tomatoes?"
Jack was pretty sure the comment was a veiled jab at the kinds of things he sold at Hench Co. He gave her a winning smile as he took a sip of his wine. "Of course not," he said. "I value quality. And even then, I never sold any rotten fruit; it was just a theoretical example of my sales skills."
"Anyway, going to that farmer's market was the highlight of my teen life. It was a way to escape from the farm, from my parents, from the stifling life I had. I talked to a lot of interesting people, and I even heard about supervillains from time to time. A friend of mine used to sell homemade candles at the market, if I remember correctly. He had a stall next to mine sometimes, and he'd show me comic books. The superheroes were always lecturing, always going on about the right and wrong way to do things. I didn't really like that."
"Dooork," said Shego, although Jack could tell she was just teasing. "Drakken used to read the comic books, too. I wonder if everybody who gets into the villainy thing does that."
"Perhaps. Which was his favorite?"
"Don't ask me. Probably some corny blue villain."
Hench, a little disappointed, returned to his reminiscing. "Anyway," he said, "I turned into a good salesman, and I felt like life on the farm wasn't enough for me. I was trapped there, and I wanted to get out. My opportunity came one day when my parents' farm got bought out by a factory farming corporation that needed the land – Rutabaga Enterprises. I got an entry level job there, moved up through the ranks, and learned the ins and outs of corporate life."
"And how did you end up selling doodads to supervillains?" asked Shego.
"I enjoy it," said Jack. "Even when I got high enough in the ranks at Rutabaga to let me avoid much manual labor, I still didn't want to have anything to do with farms. I wanted to leave my old life behind. I left the company when I could, and founded my own little startup after making a few connections in the world of supervillainy. You know, I even had a go at it myself, if you can believe that! But I have no talent for it. Jack Hench is a born salesman."
"I would have thought selling things to supervillains would be a bad idea," said Shego. "I mean, don't they just steal from you all the time? It's not like they have much of an incentive to pay you."
"There are definitely risks," agreed Jack. "But it can be more lucrative than you'd expect. Money usually isn't an issue for supervillains, considering all the lairs and doomsday weapons they build themselves. Sometimes they're cheapskates, like your boss, but sometimes they're perfectly willing to throw away huge amounts of money. A man who seriously thinks he can take over the world will spare no expense in doing it. And sometimes they just don't want to deal with the possibility of getting tracked down and caught if they don't play nice. A man like me has links to organizations like Global Justice as well as supervillains, after all. Sometimes the reward for turning someone in can be just as profitable as making a good sale to him."
Shego smiled at him; she seemed to appreciate his duplicity. Not everyone did, but Jack got the feeling Shego understood where he was coming from. After seeing the way his parents farm had been swallowed up by people with money, power, and lawyers, he had gotten clued in to what life was all about pretty quickly. People like Kim Possible would always fight fruitlessly against people like Dr. Drakken, and meanwhile, people like Jack would reap all the profits. He took opportunities as they came. In this world, it was every man – or woman – for themselves.
"You know, you're even more ruthless than Drakken," observed Shego.
"You're probably right," said Hench as he carved emphatically into his steak with a knife. "You have to be ruthless when you're in my line of work. You take what you can get, when you can get it, before someone else does."
"I can understand that."
"What about you?" asked Hench. "What made you choose to be who you are?"
Shego finished a bite of her steak, placing her own knife on the table as she picked up her glass of wine.
"I don't like talking about my past."
Although disappointed by the answer, Hench dropped his line of inquiry. He got the feeling Shego probably wasn't the type to change her mind, even if he tried wheedling her. She was an interesting woman, that was for sure, but he'd probably have to wait until further dates to hear her open up a little. If further dates ever happened. Right now, he'd have to take what he could get.
Maybe she'd be open to stopping by his place for the evening, at least. He was getting tired, and the two of them had almost finished eating, so he wanted to go home, but he didn't want to end the date quite so soon. He hadn't been with a lady since his ex-wife, after all. The glasses of wine Shego had already downed would work in his favor when it came to persuading her to stop by his place, as long as he turned on a little bit of the old Hench charm.
"I have to say, I feel very open around you," said Jack as he chewed the meat thoughtfully. "Not only do you look gorgeous in that dress, but you're a very good listener. Very easy to talk to. There's just something disarming about you."
"I don't think it's anything about me," said Shego with a smile.
"How do you mean?"
"It's probably what I slipped in your wine earlier, when you stopped by the bathroom."
A piece of steak froze in mid-bite, suspended in the air by the prongs of his fork. Jack dropped the fork and looked at the empty wine glass beside him, realizing there had been something just a tiny bit off about the taste. Not only that, but he was starting to feel unusually tired. He got a distinct feeling that they would be talking about Hench Co's new super suit, after all. "What did you slip in my drink?" he asked.
"A little truth serum Drakken had laying around. It'll also make you pretty woozy, and eventually you'll fall unconscious for a while. That was my own suggestion, for the purposes of our little date here."
Jack began to feel like a bit of a fool. "So that's why I've been so open about my past with you?"
"Probably. Unless you just really like me – and believe me, that would be totally adorable, Jack. But unfortunately for you, tonight is all about business."
No pleasure, thought Hench. That's a shame.
"What kind of business?" he asked aloud, noticing that his words were beginning to get slurred.
"Before you conk out, I was hoping you'd help me out with something. When we were at the expo looking at the super suit replica, you mentioned something about the real thing being in a vault at Hench Co headquarters, locked by a combination only you know. Mind telling me the combo?"
A small part of his brain, deeper and fainter by the second, still resisted, but it was drowned out by the effects of the serum. Jack felt his senses numbing as he opened his mouth to speak. Such a charming young lady. How could he deny her anything she wanted?
The world was without form and void – except for a really annoying stabby feeling, anyway.
Things slowly began to take shape. The hard surface of a desk; the harsh glare of morning sunlight; and, finally, the realization that the stabbing feeling was a sharp pain in his head. Jack Hench groaned as he gingerly lifted his head from where it had been laying, cheek-down, on his office desk. He felt a tingly sensation on his cheek from where it had been sitting pressed against the wood. There'd probably be one of those gross red spots, too.
Jack looked around his office, trying to remember what had happened. Memories came flooding back: the date with Shego. The nice conversation. The fine wine - the wine! Jack groaned as it hit him. He never should have trusted Shego, no matter how seductive she was in that low-cut green dress she was wearing the other night. But how did he end up back in his office?
Holding his hands to his head, Jack felt the aching effects of either the truth serum Shego had given him, a hangover, or maybe both. He took another look around and found the answer to his question. On the desk in front of him, a blank piece of paper lay with some writing scribbled on it. Hench peered more closely; it was a Hench Co mailing list form, just like the one Shego had used to leave him her phone number at the expo. He even recognized that sinuous handwriting: casual, but elegant. A little bit dangerous. He picked it up and read it.
Dear Jack -
Thank you for the date last night. By the time you read this, the truth serum's effects should be wearing off, and you'll be awake in your office. I wasn't sure where you lived, so I thought it would be easier to leave you here. Your receptionist was kind enough to let me into your office; I think she was a little embarrassed at seeing you drunk with an attractive female stranger carrying you around.
The security was a little tougher in the lower floors, but the vault combination worked just fine. Thanks! If you're reading this in the morning, I should be testing out the suit right now. I don't know what kind of product testing Hench Co does, but if you want me to, I can let you know how well it works in the field, free of charge. It's the least I can do in return for the date. Which, by the way, I actually enjoyed. I think you've come a long way from that Iowa farm, Jack.
The note came to an end, and below the writing was a strange black mark. Jack rubbed his eyes, still feeling bleary from whatever the truth serum had done to him, and realized what it was as he looked closer: a black lip imprint. Shego must have pressed her lips to the note in a kiss. Jack had always wondered if her lips were naturally black, or if she wore lipstick. Then again, maybe she just added black lipstick to accentuate her natural color.
He wondered if he should crumple the note in a fit of anger, but he didn't really feel angry, despite being double-crossed. Even when she was stabbing him the back, Shego was pretty classy about it. He liked classy ladies. It was his own fault for thinking he had a chance, anyway. Jack still believed he had the charm, but a young lady like that – well, she'd never be interested in him just for his charm. There was always something else she'd want. Money, maybe. Or in Shego's case, a new outfit. At least the night had been fun while it lasted.
The door to his office flew open and hit the wall beside it, sending a fresh stab of pain through his head. His receptionist stood in the doorway, looking flustered. "Yes, Mary?" he asked.
"Sir, the guards say the Invulnerator 2000 was stolen."
"And why didn't they wake me up and tell me this earlier?"
"I think they were knocked out, sir."
Jack nodded. Just a confirmation of what he already knew.
Shego's offer to let him know how the suit worked was nice, but the Invulnerator 2000 had already been field tested extensively. It wasn't all that good, really. Just like what he had heard about Kim Possible's suit, it was very difficult to put so many cutting edge features in a suit without making it incredibly glitchy and unreliable. Shego would probably find that out soon, although her time to test the suit was limited.
And besides, he didn't want to give any one supervillain all that power. He'd be making more of the suits soon, now that he knew there was some interest from the expo, and they were just flashy enough to make him some good money without actually being powerful enough to provide any of his customers with the opportunity to take over the world. In the end, he didn't really want his customers taking over the world. He wanted them to try. But if they succeeded, it would probably be very bad for business.
Hench Co was all about quality products – officially speaking - but Jack Hench was all about the sale. If quality helped, so be it. But as long as he could make a buck, he'd sell the most rotten tomato he had to offer.
"That will be all, Mary," he said, noticing his receptionist was still standing in the doorway.
"What about the suit?"
"I'll take care of it."
"Are you okay, sir? You seemed like you had too much to drink last night, and the green lady with you was a little pushy."
"I'm fine, Mary. Thank you for asking."
"You didn't mind me letting her into your office, did you?"
"If you see her again, don't let her in, but it's alright. Don't you worry about it."
A brief blush spread across Mary's cheeks before she nodded and went back into the hallway that led to the reception area. The door closed hard behind her, sending another throb of pain through Jack's head. He massaged his temples. A nice girl, really. Not exactly a rocket scientist, but very honest, and always diligent in her work.
But now it was time to take care of this whole super suit fiasco. Jack opened a drawer in his desk where he kept a number of gadgets and doodads and he liked to toy with. A clunky-looking remote control lay inside; a device which some of those scientists downstairs had given him a long time ago, with a number of programmable options. He pressed a few buttons until the name "Invulnerator 2000" flashed over the gadget's LCD screen. He pressed another button.
Recall Product? the remote control asked.
Jack pressed a red button. Another message flashed up: Product recalled.
Shego would be calling him soon with some updates on how her new suit was working. For now, all Jack had to do was sit back and wait for her to ring him up. Hopefully as his headache subsided a little.
He leaned back in his desk chair and enjoyed the view out of his office windows. It was a beautiful day outside. He'd have to take a walk around Hench Co's grounds in a little while. And maybe he'd get a drink and a snack while he was waiting for his call. "Mary," he said, pressing an intercom button on his phone set, "would you mind being a dear and getting me an orange soda and some peanut butter crackers from the vending machines?"
Jack smiled and leaned back. Definitely a nice young lady, that Mary. She didn't have the same pizazz as Shego, that thrilling edge that caught Jack's attention, but she was friendly and reliable all right. After another few moments, Mary came in with a snack and a smile, leaving them on his desk before scurrying back out. He began to eat, only to be interrupted by his phone ringing. He picked it up.
"Hench!" screamed a familiar voice.
"Why hello there, Shego. Nice of you to call back so early after our date last night. How's the suit working for you in the field?"
"Considering it just vaporized itself right off my body while I was fighting Kim Possible, I'd say pretty badly!"
"Is that right? What a shame. Sounds a little embarrassing."
"You think so?"
"I had to do a product recall. Hope you don't mind."
"You'll pay for this, Hench. I hope a little vindictiveness was worth losing your expensive suit."
"Oh, come on, Shego. Hench Co is all about mass production, I'm sure you know that. The suit really wasn't that expensive, when it comes right down to it. So you say it vaporized itself right off your body?"
"Yeah, right in front of Princess. Thanks a lot! I had to run off into a closet."
"You should really come out."
There was a brief silence on the other and of the line.
"Hmm," said Jack, twirling in his chair a little. "So what are you wearing now?"
The silence was interrupted by a click as Shego hung up.
Jack sighed as he placed the phone back into its receiver, enjoying a few mental images of Shego sans suit as he took a bite of cracker and washed it down with his orange soda. He wouldn't get much of an update on what she thought of the suit before it got vaporized, but that was alright. She and Drakken were not big customers, anyway. He'd have other customers giving him feedback in the future, along with their hard-earned cash. Or not-so-hard earned, in the case of some of his customers. So losing one suit wasn't really a huge deal.
Much more bothersome was the fact that a second date was probably out of the question.
That's it - reviews are welcome! If you're interested in reading other stories about minor characters, I have a big one called "Just a Jock" that is centered on Brick Flagg and Justine Flanner. And, like I said above, this is part of a minor character contest on the Kim Possible forum - check out the other entries too. Vote for the one you like most, assuming there will be a poll in the thread, I'm not really sure.