Despite being stuck in the same dorm room as Kim the last school year had been the happiest year of Bonnie's life. Sometimes she felt like Cinderella, only Connie and Lonnie were not stepsisters. Bonnie wondered why her parents never intervened on her behalf, but the older girls were good at waiting until no one was looking to torment her. Kim credited Bonnie's bad attitude to the cruelty she put up with at home. It had made Bonnie easier to understand and sympathize with -- although it really hadn't made her any easier to live with.
The mistreatment by her sisters gave Bonnie a certain independence and stubbornness. She grew up without anyone in her home she could turn to for advice, and where she would never receive emotional support. The atmosphere can crush the spirit, but it taught Bonnie to make her own choices and not give a damn about anyone else's feelings. During high school she went out for cheerleading and after school clubs just so she could spend less time at home. In her activities she always sought the recognition and admiration she was denied at home -- and had resented Kim for the redhead's popularity.
Despite their quarrels during the school year Kim treated Bonnie with a measure of respect. With the school year over Bonnie was back in hell. During the school year Bonnie had stayed away from home unless the dorm was literally closed. Her absence, however, had not made her sisters grow any fonder of her. If anything they seemed even more resentful of the fact she was back with them.
“Hello, this is Bonnie Rockwaller. Is Monique there?”
“Yes. Hold on a minute, please.”
Monique picked up the extension, “Bonnie?”
“Monique? Please, can you get me a summer job at Club Banana?”
“Whoa, you want me to hire you?”
“I'm glad you keep your ears clean. I'll take anything.”
“I don't know, Bonnie. We could use another sales person or two, but… Well, to be blunt, you can rub people the wrong way. And it reflects badly on me if I help get you in and it doesn't work out.”
“I'm an actress. I can fake caring. I know style.”
“I'm sorry, I'm just not sure about this.”
“Is there anything at all? I'll stock shelves.”
“There is an opening there. I was hoping to get Martin in for that job.”
“Marty, your brother?”
“Why aren't you hiring him for a sales person position?”
“Same reason I don't want to hire you.”
“Monique, you aren't being fair. You're letting how you see him at home influence your decision. I know Marty from school. He's great with people.”
“You really think so?”
“I know so. Your manager will be so happy you'll get a raise.”
Monique sighed, “Okay, come in tomorrow and do the paperwork. But you cause me problems, girl, and you're going to wish you never met me.”
“Thanks, Monique. Any word on Shego?”
“She's almost out of the hospital and into prison.”
“How's Kim handling that?”
“You haven't heard about Kim?”
“What are you talking about?”
A long, stunned silence followed the announcement. “You're serious?”
Monique thought for a minute before answering, “I know Kim doesn't want the story all over, but I'm going to call you her friend and give you what she told me. You'd better not repeat it.” Then Monique sketched the basic outline of the events for Bonnie.
“Thanks for telling me. I think I'll go to go over to Kim's.”
“You're not going there to gloat, are you?”
“God, no. It sounds like she needs all the support she can get.”
“I'm glad I told you.”
Bonnie ended up spending a lot of time over at Kim's that summer. They'd sit at opposite ends of the couch with their feet up on the coffee table or a foot stool and watch mindless television -- or they would turn off the set and reminisce about the last school year and what classes they planned on taking in the fall.
“Bonnie, are you really here to give me sympathy, or just here to get out of your house?”
“Good, I was afraid I might have to like you.”
“No, worst friends forever. I just needed to get away from the sisters.”
“If it ever gets too bad, we have a guest room.”
Bonnie's work ethic impressed the manager of Club Banana. She never complained of long hours and was always available for overtime. She had a great sense of style and sometimes hung around the store even after her shift was over to advise customers on coordinating outfits or colors that complimented complexions and hair color.
Bonnie took pleasure in having her picture up as employee of the month, and took more pleasure in tweaking Monique with the fact, “Employee of the month. And you didn't even want to hire me. I told you I could fake caring.”
“Hey, all the manager knows is that I recommended you. I can stand to look good too -- and Martin's doing great in the men's section.”
Kim's exercise these days usually consisted of walking around the mall and worrying about what was happening to her. The doctor refused to consider genetic tests until the end of the month -- and advised even that was too early.
On mall days Kim ate lunch at the food court, usually with either Monique or Bonnie and occasionally with both. Having to smile and act nice had usually left Bonnie in a foul mood, and she took the lunchtime to make snide comments about passers-by. Her monologues were often mean-spirited and petty, but could also move into the hilarious. Kim just sat and listened; glad to not be the target of Bonnie's tongue. The humor was appreciated, there was too little for Kim to laugh at these days -- but she wished there was a way to encourage the humor without also encouraging the bile.
Bonnie appreciated having an audience, even if Kim didn't have the sense to laugh at some of her best insults.
In mid-July Bonnie landed a role in a community theater play. Every bit of credit she could put on her growing résumé looked good. It meant she couldn't be quite as flexible with her Club Banana hours, but gave her even more time away from home.
In late July the trio gathered at Monique's to plan their fall schedules.
When Monique went to the kitchen for snacks Bonnie turned to Kim, “Hey, do you need a study buddy?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you had some trouble at the start of last year. I feel kind of responsible for you. Maybe if we take a couple classes together I can check your notes, we can prep for tests together, stuff like that.”
Kim raised one eyebrow, “And would this studying be over at my house or over at yours?”
“Your place, of course.”
“Can you be honest with me and just say I'm an excuse for you to get out of your house?”
“Hey, I don't need charity. There are lots of people who would want to study with me.”
“I know that, but they wouldn't all put up with your shit.”
“I'm offering to put up with yours. Hey, do those mood swings last for the whole nine months? I might be the only one still talking with you at the end of the semester if they do.”
Bonnie waited nervously at the front of the line that stretched out from the locked door of the administration building. She held Kim's class registration material with her own, and knew that students weren't supposed to register anyone but themselves. Kim said going to Canada was important, but hadn't given details. It just sounded like a vacation to Bonnie, sticking her with the impossible job of getting Kim into classes.
Kim's faith in Bonnie was well placed. Monique might have taken 'no' for an answer. Had Ron been in town he would probably have overslept and missed registration entirely. Bonnie stood sixth in line, wondering how obsessive-compulsive you had to be to arrive before 5:30 in the morning. Bonnie would not take 'no' for an answer. And she was early enough in line that she could jam up registration for everyone until they gave her what she wanted.
Various approaches exist for skirting rules. Polite and charming serves some people well. Loud and angry can also get results, as well as whining and petulance. Bonnie preferred a combination of the three -- but left polite and charming for last. By the end of the process the beleaguered administrator would just be so exhausted he or she would need that bit of charm to keep from throwing Kim and Bonnie's registrations into the waste basket, 'losing them,' after Bonnie left.
Bonnie didn't know where Ron went over the summer, but he came back looking good. He had lost some of his new muscle tone over the course of the last school year, but had still been in good shape when he left. He was back looking better than ever. She wondered if he had been working at some spa -- she wanted to try it. Bonnie was definitely moving him up from her C list of men to high on her B list.
Bonnie realized, reluctantly, that she couldn't keep the Club Banana job and maintain her high grades. She had hoped that if she kept working she could save enough for the dorm second semester. The manager didn't want to let her go and extracted a promise from her to come back for the holiday rush in December.
The Possible house offered Bonnie a major escape from her home. She was there to study several evenings a week and sometimes slept there. Kim had turned her study habits around and probably didn't need Bonnie's help, but Kim felt some sympathy for her ex-roomie. Bonnie slept in the Possible guest room often enough that she left a few changes of clothing at Kim's.
Time at Kim's house brought Bonnie into closer contact with Ron. Clearly he had some focus issues, but his concern for Kim showed he was a nice guy. The right woman just might be able to do something with that raw material.
Over the course of the months Wade began spending less time on the Team Possible website. He had posted the news Kim would be unavailable for missions for the indefinite future -- but people still left the occasional message. When he logged in to check hits he found a string of emails from Canada, one a day for more than a week. Had it really been that long since he logged on?
The sender information on the emails indicated a Canadian prison as point of origin, and the messages were all essentially the same.
“Mr. Load, Please confirm a date and time when I can have an audio connection with you. I need my working clothes and a set of tools. Sincerely, Shego.”
Wade realized her request for an audio link meant she didn't want a visual image. There was a greater chance she didn't want someone seeing him than a fear of him seeing her, so Wade resolved to introduce her to the new Drew T. P. Lipsky.
Shego waited nervously at the computer monitor at the time specified in Wade's email. She cursed under her breath as the screen lit up -- she had trusted the boy to take a hint. Then she stared at the screen; it was, and wasn't, Dr. Drakken at the same time. The face was the same, but she skin tone was normal and he wore a suit and tie. She was still staring at the screen when she realized he had spoken to her.
“Ah, can you repeat that? I didn't hear you.”
He reached forward and adjusted a knob, then spoke again. She understood why she hadn't heard him clearly the first time; the voice coming through the speaker had been electronically distorted.
She stuck her tongue out at him. “You still aren't coming through clearly.”
He adjusted another setting, and Wade's normal voice came over the computer speaker. “Can you understand me with this setting?”
“You sound fine. What happened to Mr. Load?”
“Brilliant man, doing outstanding work for us. Far too busy with his important research to handle calls,” the screen DTP Lipsky gave her a wink. “What can we do for you?”
“Well, like I said in my email, I'm wondering if you have possession of my old working clothes and some of my tools. I need to get my hands on an outfit.”
“Can I ask what they're for?”
“Only if you want these gentlemen standing behind me to ask how you came into possession of my clothing and lock picks.”
“Is there anything new you need? Our Mr. Load might be able to help you.”
“No, you both are too kind. Just make certain you send a pair of gloves with the diamond tipped claws -- I may need to cut some glass. And please don't mention this talk with anyone but Mr. Load.”
“I'll send it off personally. Are you going to be okay?”
Shego grinned broadly, “With any luck I'm going to be great!”
AN: Monique's brother is canon; she credits her brother for starting her interest in wrestling. I don't recall a name being given in the series.
Chapter 10 will appear as a stand-alone story after Chapter 11 appears. I recommend you go ahead and read chapter 11 before going to chapter 10 to find out how it happened.