A Pinky Joe Curly Tale, by DoofusPrime
Notes - Here's a story I've had in mind for a long time. Kim and Ron are in it (and a couple) but the focus is on James and his college experience. Which experience in particular, you can probably guess. This is rated T just to be safe, but it's probably closer to a K+. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. This work was not created for profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
Just Like the Old Days?
Amazingly, James could still remember the drive he had taken many years ago. The details were different than they were now, if he was remembering them correctly at all, but the experience – the feeling - was still clear in his mind. Closing in on the college, taking a last twist in the road past sun-dappled trees, the weather still warm even though summer was drawing to an end; seeing the sign beside the road as they hit the edge of the campus, along with a fluttering welcome banner staked into the ground nearby for incoming students; knowing a chapter of his life had closed, and the next would soon open.
He looked into the rear view mirror at his two sons, wondering if they were going through the same feelings.
"Are we there yet?" asked Jim.
"Yeah," said Tim, "it's like we've been in the car for hours!"
James shook his head. Maybe not. They definitely seemed more at ease than he had been.
"Are you guys kidding?" asked Kim. "We've been driving for fifteen minutes."
"Still, that's a long fifteen minutes."
"I do have to hit the bathroom," said Ron. "Jumbo soda at the Bueno Nacho drive-thru? Not a great idea."
"I told you to go before we left, Ron."
James looked over and smiled at his wife in the passenger seat as they listened to his children and son-in-law – who also felt like one of his children – chattering in the back. Jim and Tim weren't kids anymore, he had to remind himself, although sometimes it didn't seem like they had grown up at all. They had both gone through stunning growth spurts a few years ago, so they definitely looked like adults. They took up most of the back seat, and the fact that Kim was pregnant didn't help, either. Ron was forced to sit in the trunk, which didn't seem all that safe, but James was driving slowly, and he had tricked out the car with some added safety measures anyway. It was no Sloth, but then, he didn't need his car to go underwater or shrug off plasma beams shot by supervillain foes.
Maybe he was getting soft in his old age. He knew Jim and Tim would have preferred replacing the station wagon's state-of-the-art collision-absorbing bumper ring with some kind of equally state-of-the-art aerodynamic system that sent the car hurtling forward at near light speed. In the past, James would have heartily agreed. But then, sooner or later, the twins would have their own cars, and he was partly to blame for turning the two of them into speed demons.
"Here we are!" he announced.
"Drive slow, Mr. Dr. P," said Ron as they approached a speed bump. "My bladder is very sensitive right now!"
James hit the speed bump slowly, although he still heard a groan from the back.
The wooden sign he remembered so well loomed up after a last twist in the road. The hill on which it rose seemed a little more landscaped than he remembered; flowers and bushes were planted in such a way that they cleverly formed the college initials, M-I-S-T, which were spelled out across the sign itself in no-nonsense white lettering. The Middleton Institute of Science and Technology. James was glad his two sons had chosen to follow in his footsteps, although with their interests and the quality of MIST's learning institutions, it hadn't been a hard sell.
The station wagon pulled into a big parking lot on the edge of campus. It was fairly crowded already, as new students and their families were streaming in for freshman orientation, but James was lucky enough to find someone backing out of a spot close to the edge of the lot, where the main campus buildings began. He and his family streamed out of the car. After an orientation meeting scheduled in about fifteen minutes – they had left the house just in time – they would be checking out Jim and Tim's dorm room, which the two of them had insisted on getting for the full college experience, despite living so close to home.
James didn't mind, really. He knew Jim and Tim just wanted to try new things out, and they weren't planning to drop contact with their parents as soon as they began the collegiate life, although Anne had her worries. They had also paid for the expense themselves. A few clever inventions had netted them enough money to pay for a large part of their college career already. He was proud, despite all the times his sons' inventions ended up malfunctioning and blowing out the garage door. It had reached the point where the garage door replacement guy gave him a discount and asked about his family every time he came over. Just another thing that would be changing once Jim and Tim moved out, James thought wistfully.
"Here, KP, hold on to my shoulder-"
"You don't need to baby me, Ron."
Kim got out of the car by herself. She was pretty far along – about eight months.
"Sorry," said Ron. "I was just worried Jim and Tim had crushed you since you're so big now!"
Kim shot Ron a withering glare. James chuckled; he had made that same mistake in the past.
"Dude," said Tim, "crush our sis? No way!"
Jim nodded in agreement. "I was totally scrunched up against the car door trying to make room for her. I thought I was gonna push the thing open and go flying out into the road!"
The group made their way across campus towards the orientation building, Ron occasionally flitting around Kim, who shooed him off. James was always amused at the sight. It definitely reminded him of how he acted when Anne had been pregnant.
Going to college had slowed down the pace of their missions just a little, as Kim had gone abroad for a year and Ron had been busy doing remedial work to get his grades up. Their relationship had hit a few rough patches after high school, but they had worked through it, ending up closer than ever. After their marriage near the end of college, they had graduated by the beginning of summer. His daughter had been taking another little break from missions lately due to the pregnancy, mostly to ease Ron's constant worries, but he knew they'd both be back in action a little while after the baby arrived. He and Anne would be happy to help out whenever Kim and Ron were busy saving the world from their latest supervillain foe.
"Hi!" said a student guide passing by with a group of people in tow. "You guys looking for an orientation group?"
James scoffed at the question. "I don't think so! I happen to be an alumnus - class of 1986! I think I can find my way around."
The guide went by with his little group, pointing out landmarks and good spots to eat a bagged lunch in between classes, while James led his family onwards. After a few moments of aimless walking, however, he looked back over his shoulder. If the parking lot was that way, then they would be... just to the left of... over...
Anne put a hand on her husband's shoulder as they walked.
"Honey, do you actually know where the orientation building is?"
"I was just following everyone else," said James. "I thought it was in this direction."
"People are walking all over the place."
James looked at the other visitors milling aimlessly across the campus grounds. They did seem to be going every which way. And it looked like the campus had gone through a few renovations since he had been a student. Some of the buildings were very familiar, but a few were new. "Hmm. Maybe I don't know where I'm going. I guess I was busy reminiscing," he said with a chuckle. "Did we pass any signs back at the parking lot? Anyone?"
"Um, is it in that building over there?"
Ron pointed across an open area ahead of them, lined with cobblestone paths, well-trimmed bushes, and a few trees here and there. A gazebo stood in the middle of the little park area, which brought back some fond memories for James – but beyond that, he noticed the building Ron was pointing at. It wasn't the same place he remembered having his freshman orientation, but they must have moved their visitor's center. He had missed the gigantic yellow "Welcome New Students, Orientation Inside!' banner hanging down from the roof and draped across the building's side, which was a bit of a hint.
"Good eye, Ronald. Alright, everyone, we'll be late if we don't-"
James had stepped onto one of the cobblestone paths cutting across the little park between campus buildings, but just as he reached an intersection between the hedges, he ran smack into someone coming from his right. He stumbled, taking a few steps back. He gasped in shock and took yet another step back at the sight of his old classmate. Not Chen or Ramesh, unfortunately.
"Hello, Drew," he said, his voice barely above a hiss.
"James Possible. What are you doing here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing, Lipsky."
Jim and Tim drew closer together, their enthusiastic expressions suggesting they were anticipating some kind of fight. Anne also drew closer to her husband. "Let's be friendly," she told him.
"Friendly? Of course – why wouldn't I be friendly? Drew's learned the error of his ways, after all."
"That's right, Possible! Er, wait, no – that's not right. My ways were never in error. I've just changed them so as to – look, I'm not a supervillain anymore, so I don't need any lip. I got pardoned, remember?"
"Yeah," said Kim. "After making some generous technological donations to Global Justice, I heard."
Drakken waved the point aside. "Details, Kim Possible. Anyway, I recently accepted a job as a teacher here at the Middleton Institute of Science and Technology. My unparalleled genius and years of experience are in high demand." He turned from James and looked critically at Ron. "I see you're still with the buffoon, Kim."
"She's married to this buffoon," said Ron.
Drakken eyed her belly. "And pregnant, too? Either that or you really need to get back into cheer practice."
Kim bristled at the comment, but before she could say anything, another voice came from down the little path where Drakken had appeared.
"Hey, Doctor D!"
James looked over the hedges and caught sight of Shego's head approaching them; Kim saw it too, and drew back a little as if tensing for an attack. Once Shego reached the intersection and appeared from behind the hedges, James was surprised to see a mirror image of his daughter. His Kimmie-cub wasn't the only one with a baby on board, apparently.
"Quit running around like a chicken with your head cut off," Shego told Drakken. "It's not like you're the first speaker at the orientation. We don't have to-"
She stopped mid-sentence as she noticed James and his family, gaping a Kim in particular.
"Princess," she hissed.
The two of them eyed each other for a few moments. Jim and Tim were practically hopping up and down in anticipation of some kind of battle. Ron's eyes bugged out at Shego's swollen belly; from the looks of it, James couldn't help thinking she had gotten pregnant at about the same time as Kim. "Who's the father?" he asked, unable to contain his curiosity.
"Drew," said Shego. "Duh."
"I guess I've been out of the loop. Wait, so you actually got a girlfriend, Drew?"
Drew struggled for a retort, but failed to find one. Sometimes, James thought, it was just too easy.
"I see you and Stoppable have been busy, too," said Shego as she eyed Kim's belly. Kim put her hands on it, a little defensively.
"That's right. How far along are you?"
Kim smirked. "I'm eight."
Shego's eyes smoldered, cheeks twitching like she had just been dealt a smack across the face. "Yeah, well, let me guess – you're quitting your missions to become a housewife to Stoppable, huh?"
"Um, technically I'm Ron Possible now," said Ron. "And we'll be keeping up with the missions sooner or later."
"What about you?" said Kim. "It must sting to leave the whole criminal lifestyle behind and end up the wife of a college professor. Talk about boring!"
"Science is not boring!" shouted Drew. "It's a treasure trove of endless fascination!"
"Now, now," said Anne. "Let's all keep things civil, okay?"
"What are you doing here, anyway?" Drakken asked James.
"My sons are enrolling."
"Ah. I see. I suppose that means I'll be teaching them."
"Awesome!" declared Jim and Tim in unison.
"Oh yes, I am sure it will be very awesome," cackled Drakken. "Or maybe fantastic, to choose a word starting with an F."
Jim and Tim's faces switched from excited to crestfallen in an instant. "Aw, man!"
James narrowed his eyes at his old schoolmate. "You'll be hearing from me if you engage in any academic shenanigans with my sons, Drew."
"Fight, fight, fight!"
Anne threw a menacing glare at her sons. Their fist pumping trailed off as they caught her look. Despite the fact that they were both nearly a head taller than her, they were cowed enough to quiet down immediately. "Okay," said Anne, "this is turning out to be very awkward, and we all need to be at orientation on time. Can we just let bygones be bygones?"
"Very well, Anne," said Drakken. "James knows I'm a much better bygone than he is, anyways."
"What's that even mean?" asked Ron.
"It – it just – it doesn't concern you, buffoon. Let's go, Shego!"
Although Shego was beginning to look a little amused at the sniping going on, she sighed apathetically as Drakken took her by the hand. The two of them walked off in the direction of the orientation building. James was about to follow, but, deciding he didn't want to be walking alongside them after that awkward exchange, ended up taking a circuitous route through the little park, trying to reach the building from the side. Kim was happy to join him and avoid Shego, but Ron, Anne, and the twins rolled their eyes in exasperation.
James was concerned. Seeing Drew Lipsky brought back memories. Being on this campus at all brought back a lot of memories, but most of them were positive ones. Still, today was not about him – it was about Jim and Tim. He was there to introduce the two of them to the wonders of the Middleton Institute of Science and Technology, to give them tips and sage advice on how to get through the whirlwind of college life - not to settle unfinished business with Drew. He entered the orientation building, approaching a check-in table while making sure to put a lot of distance between his family and Drakken, who was already up ahead with Shego.
Hiring Drew Lipsky as a teacher? He hoped his beloved alma mater hadn't been lowering its academic standards.
"And that's just a taste of what you can expect in my classes!"
The ball room echoed jaggedly with the sound of a few nervous claps. Drakken stepped away from the stage up front, where he had just demonstrated his latest invention – unfortunately, a small malfunction had left a blackened, scorched mark across the front of his blue button-down polo shirt, along with a noticeable lack of eyebrows on his face. James couldn't help smiling at the mishap. A little schadenfreude wasn't that bad, was it? The polo shirt and khakis were really throwing him for a loop, too – he was used to seeing Drew in that supervillain trench coat he always wore. And if he thought the look was weird, he couldn't imagine what his Kimmie-cub must have been thinking after foiling the man's evil schemes for years.
He noticed Shego stepping up from her seat and helping Drew into his own adjacent with a brief worried look, although she caught herself at the last second and adopted a more apathetic one as she glanced hurriedly around the room. What a weird couple. Still, it took all kinds.
Several other teachers had already introduced themselves, talking about the university and their disciplines. Drew looked like had been the last teacher to speak. Now that he had finished, the elderly dean of the university stepped precariously up the little stairway to the platform, holding an ornate cane to help him walk. He approached the podium as the ballroom echoed with the rhythmic clicks of his cane hitting the wood floor. He cleared his throat into the microphone, sending a painful burst of feedback through the room. It took a moment, but James recognized the man. The cane and the pronounced stoop were both new. The frown was not.
Dean Barker, James thought, his brows lowering darkly. Still here after all these years!
"Thank you for that quite literally illuminating demonstration, Doctor Drakken."
The students and parents at the orientation meeting recovered themselves from their recent fright and gave their attention to the dean. James crossed his arms gruffly, although he wondered if Barker would even recognize him now. Just the sight of the man brought more memories flooding in. Things he hadn't thought about in years, things he had almost forgotten. He wondered if Drew was thinking about some of those same things.
"This upcoming year, I believe, will be one of our greatest on record. There are a number of exciting new areas of research on the horizon, and with the expertise offered by our newly upgraded staff, any student at the Middleton Institute of Science and Technology can anticipate a fruitful..."
The man's voice faded out as James lost interest.
He could tell his two sons were losing interest, too. Dean Barker always had a certain coma-inducing quality about him, at least when he wasn't being irritating and overbearing; it was something about the way the man talked, or the way he carried himself. Now that he was much older, the effect was even more pronounced. James could already hear faint snores coming up from various seats around the ballroom. Lost in the memories of his college days, he almost didn't notice when the speech came to a sudden end. A few scattered claps woke up the people who had fallen asleep. James even noticed one man fall out of his chair with a loud clatter upon waking up. The dean left the podium, and people began to rise from their seats.
"Alright," said James. "Let's get out of here!"
"What's the hurry?" asked Kim.
"I'd like to avoid Dean Barker."
"Oh, boy," said Jim, looking at Tim, who finished his brother's thought. "Dad's been in trouble with the deeean!"
"That's not it at all, boys. The dean and I just had a different outlook on things like the code of conduct, or what constituted dangerous and unacceptable campus behavior. You'll understand once you meet him, I'm sure."
"So let's go meet him!"
"No, we can't do that," said James nervously. "I have some things to show you outside-"
For the second time that day, he found himself running into Drew Lipsky. How the man had gotten from his seat near the front of the ballroom all the way to the back where James was sitting with his family, he had no idea. He grimaced, trying to sidestep his old classmate, but Shego appeared beside him, blocking his way. "Hey, Kim's dad," she said. "I was thinking we could all hang out a while!"
Kim gave her an incredulous look. "You want to hang out with us?"
"Well, not you, Princess. Don't flatter yourself. But I was thinking your old man could share a few stories about Drew back in the old days."
Drew gulped. "I don't think we need to hear any stories about the old days, Shego."
"Yeah, because you wouldn't come off looking very good," shot James.
"You wish, Possible!"
James tried to hurry out of the ballroom, but before he could reach the door, Dean Barker appeared, causing both himself and Drew to stop dead in their tracks. Apparently, the dean had noticed him in the audience; judging by the speed which he had gotten here even with his cane and slow walk, the man had left the podium and made a beeline straight through the other families to reach him. "Barker," he said. "Nice to see you again!"
"Yes," said Drew, nodding awkwardly in agreement. "So nice. To see you. Again."
"That's Dean Barker to you two. And you'll be seeing more of me now that you're working here, Mr. Lipsky."
Drew gulped; from the looks of it, he hadn't anticipated that part of his job description.
"I wouldn't have even hired you if the Board of Directors didn't overrule my concerns."
"Some people know genius when they see it," said Drew.
"You know," said James, "seeing as I'm not your student anymore, I don't really have to call you Dean Barker at all. And how are you still the dean, anyway?"
"Tenure, Possible. Why are you here? Is your daughter attending?"
"Kim? No, no," laughed James. "I tried to convince her – she does have a knack for the technical side of things, even if her brothers are a little better at it – but she wanted to go to Upperton, just like her mother."
"Upperton," said the dean, his voice dripping with contempt. "Nice to see you again, Anne."
Anne nodded politely. James was amused at the dean's reaction; although he seemed to look down on any college that was not the Middleton Institute of Science and Technology, he had no problem with Anne herself. His wife had attended a few classes at MIST, and apparently she made a good impression on just about everyone.
"It's my two sons," said James. "They're enrolling here at their father's alma mater."
"How pleasant. More Possibles to deal with. I'm sure I'll have my hands full."
James was about to make an excuse to dart away from any further conversation with Dean Barker, but fortunately, the man seemed to grow tired of talking – either that or, in his old age, he just plain forgot that he was in the middle of a conversation at all – and wandered off in another direction, cane clacking along the ball room's polished wood floor as he joined a nearby group of people to chat. James breathed a sigh of relief and made his way out of the crowded room, taking the exit and emerging into fresh air and sunlight, back to the little park square they had passed through earlier.
Drakken and Shego followed him out. James was beginning to realize he couldn't avoid everyone today.
"Can you believe him?" asked Drew.
James had to agree. "The nerve of that guy."
"What," said Kim, "Dean Barker? What'd he do?"
"It's not what he did, honey, it's just – well, it's just what he did."
James' family exchanged confused looks, but he wasn't surprised they didn't understand. They hadn't gone to school under the tyrannical rule of Barker, after all. But Drew knew where he was coming from.
"Come on," said Shego. "You gotta know some juicy stuff about Drew."
"I sure do," said James. "But maybe we should leave the past to the past."
"Why would we do that?" asked Tim.
"Yeah!" added Jim. "Let's dredge up all your unpleasant memories!"
James looked to his wife for support for the second time that morning, but she gave him an amused smile and a shrug, as if telling him she couldn't help even if she wanted to. He knew Ronald would probably side with the twins, too. As a last ditch effort, he looked pleadingly at his daughter. For a minute it looked like Kim would agree, seeing as she probably didn't want to be around Shego any more than he wanted to be around Drakken. But instead, she smiled.
"Maybe not unpleasant memories," she said. "But there must be a neat story you can tell us about when you were here, dad. How about what happened with Pinky Joe Curly Tail?"
His own daughter had betrayed him! How could she rope him into spending an awkward afternoon with Drew Lipsky when she hated Shego so much? Then again, maybe he was overestimating their level of antipathy towards each other. They hadn't seen each other in years, after all, and other than a little competitive pregnancy going on, it wasn't like they were mortal enemies anymore. And, now that he thought about it, Pinky Joe Curly Tail was kind of a nice memory. He still missed that little guy.
"Alright," he said. "Maybe just one story."
Jim and Tim exchanged high fives. "Score!"
James led his audience away from the orientation building as they made their way through the hedges and paths of the little landscaped park that marked the center of MIST's campus. "I guess I should start a little while before Pinky Joe, so you can understand what happened," he said. "Not so long ago, boys, your father was a just a boy like you two, without all the experience and worldly wisdom he has now. He was just starting grad school-"
James stopped and looked at Drew, remembering that his ex-friend was involved in the beginning of this story. He was involved in most of the story, actually. He could already see Drew interrupting him at every turn. But there was no way to avoid that now, and he had promised a story.
"I was just starting grad school," he continued. "Bob Chen and Ramesh were there, as was Drew's father, and we were all helping Drew move in. I didn't know it at the time, but I'd be meeting your mother soon. I also didn't know I'd be on the chopping block with Dean Barker for rat-related shenanigans. I was young and naïve, but the future was bright..."
Notes - That's it, I hope you enjoyed it. And I appreciate reviews, of course. You might enjoy reading this story with another story of mine, Pater Unfamiliar - both are standalone stories and you don't need to read one to get the other, but they share the same past and will have a couple of overlapping scenes in a later chapter that will hopefully be fun.