“CHEESE AND CRACKERS! What in the hell are you doing in my office?”
The question was completely superfluous. It would have been perfectly obvious to any observer who was not both blind and deaf what the two naked women were doing on his desk.
Barkin quickly closed the door - staying on the outside of his own office, and shouted as he closed the door, “You've got three minutes to put your clothes on people.” He stood with his back to the door, staring at his watch and growing increasingly livid with anger.
One hundred and eighty seconds after telling them they had three minutes to dress Mr. Barkin threw open the door to his office again. “All right, Miss Possible, will you please explain what was going on?”
His tone sounded perfectly calm and reasonable, but Kim shuddered to hear it. Steve Barkin's normal tone of voice fell somewhere between a roar and the rumble of a cement mixer. When angry he tended to sound more calm, a trap which had lured any number of high school students into lengthy stays in detention.
“We were, uh, driving by and I thought I saw some movement--”
Barkin raised one bushy eyebrow. “And that was how you look for a prowler?” He turned to Shego, “You have any lame excuse you want to try, Missy?”
“No,” she said quietly.
“I should call the police for you two--”
“No,” Kim interrupted. “This is my fault. I forced her to--”
“She didn't seem to be protesting very much.” He rocked nervously back and forth on his heels, trying to decide on the best course of action. He did not want this incident to appear in the newspapers, it would only inspire some of his own students to attempt the feat. It also suggested he had lost control and no longer ran his school. Those worries kept him from calling the police. It struck him that neither woman was in a position to argue with him for any punishment he might chose to impose. “Miss Possible,” the gravel voice purred, “you will go into Mr. Sunjhata's class room and write two hundred and fifty times, ‘I will not engage in sex in the principal's office.’ I'll be down in half an hour to see how you are doing. And do I need to say that when you are done the blackboard will be erased completely?”
“No, sir. What are you going to do with--”
“You're dismissed, Possible. I will see you in half an hour.”
Kim's footsteps echoed down the empty hall as she retreated to the math teacher's room.
He turned his attention back to the pale woman, who looked flushed and embarrassed at being caught.
“Sit down,” he told Shego, gesturing to a chair opposite his desk. A plan had already formed in his mind, but first he went to the safe and verified the envelope for the band trip had been put away the way it should have been. He started towards his desk, and then stopped. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to use that chair and desk again without certain… images coming into his mind.
“Will you be so kind as to put my desk back in the condition in which you found it?”
The two women had been too busy dressing to straighten things up. Shego nodded numbly and began eliminating the evidence of her presence there with Kim. If Shego had been a killer Mr. Barkin would have died. There were only a handful of times in her life she had experienced this sort of fear. If he called the police she stood to lose everything: her chance for a job, her freedom when she went to prison for violating probation, and Kim. Perhaps she could simply knock him unconscious and flee with Kim. There was no evidence to prove they had been there and his word was not enough for a conviction if Kim supported her story… Would Kim support her story or would the hero insist on telling the truth?
The feeling of helplessness was even worse than the fear. She was usually strong enough to fight what she feared, but she had no weapon in the face of Barkin's power over her.
He pointed back to the chair opposite his desk. He still preferred to stand against the wall, glowering down at the pale woman.
“At least it looks like you told the truth about knowing Ms. Possible. You lied about your child development degree,” he said accusingly.
“Yeah, and I wasn't certified either.”
“And based on what I just saw you were lying about other things too.”
Shego gave him a sad, half smile. “Some things. Go wasn't my real name, if that's what you mean. Heroes get to protect their secret identity--”
“You? A hero?” His voice contained both irony and anger.
“I was at the time, or thinking like one anyway. If it makes you feel any better, I really did think you were a nice guy. Maybe if I'd stayed around--”
“You didn't,” he spat. “And the Dobermans ripped my sports coat to shreds.”
If it weren't for her fear Shego would have told him, “You should consider that a favor.” Instead an uncomfortable silence reigned in the room until Shego worked up enough courage to ask, “So, what are you going to do about me?”
She didn't like his grin, “Oh, I have something in mind…”
The walls of the math teacher's room were lined with blackboards. Most teachers now preferred whiteboards and dry erase markers, but Mr. Sunjhata remained old-school. He loved blackboards and the smell of chalk in the morning as all the students stood in front of a section of the board and worked on the problems he called out to them. Kim wrote quickly. She had filled up the smallest of the boards and started on the blackboard on the longest wall.
“What is Shego doing? What is Barkin doing?” She couldn't get the questions out of her mind. Writing sentences was simply a nuisance. The punishment entailed being away from Shego and not knowing what was happening to her. She knew Barkin could be mean-spirited and felt free to inflict psychological torture on students -- Ron had certainly experienced enough of it. She just wasn't sure if he knew the agony he put her through while she wondered what was going on or had simply gotten ‘lucky’ in the agony she endured.
Eventually the door to the math room swung open and Mr. Barkin, followed by a silent Shego, entered the room. She remained near the door as Barkin stood, his arms folded, looking on as Kim finished her sentence, and the sentences. Shego remained stiff and silent in the background.
“Can Shego and I--”
“When you are in my school you will kindly show some respect in how you address faculty,” Barkin warned her.
“Faculty?” Kim looked puzzled.
“Ms. Badenphall had an unfortunate accident while helping spot for the gymnastics competition last week. I managed to find instructors for most of her classes, but I needed a part-time PE teacher for a class in women's self-defense this semester. I was afraid I would have to teach it myself. Ms. O'Ceallaigh just signed a contract to work as a substitute for this semester. Unfortunately I couldn't arrange a better time for her to come in to sign.” He turned to Shego, “I'll have your whistle for you when you come to the orientation session.”
Kim started to smile, “So everything is cool and--”
“No!” Shego snapped. “Everything is not ‘cool’, Ms. Possible. Kindly erase the board thoroughly so that we can leave.”