“Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second,” Kim said while shaking her head.
The remarkable teen was obviously having trouble because of the task to which she just agreed to do. Director Betty, leader of the Shogun’s secret police, had just recruited her for a mission, which was nothing new. The new thing was that it required her to go undercover and that she was going to have to pretend to be a geisha.
“You can’t be serious,” the teenage redhead objected.
“I’m very serious,” Betty insisted in her usual calm tone, which let the petite warrior know that she was as serious as always.
“But, there are a lot of things wrong with that plan. Don’t you have people that do stuff like this anyway?” Kim inquired in a slightly desperate tone because she would like to wiggle out of the predicament now if she could.
“I’m stretched rather thin at the moment.”
Betty had lost a few agents recently to several incidents. If she had those agents, she certainly would not need or even think to ask Kim to do what she requested. She only went to Kim because she believed that the incredible teen could pull it off. She had faith in the redhead to do pretty much anything, even though she did believe that Kim was a bit weird.
The operation was more delicate than a flower arrangement and she preferred that Kim handle it to any other agents that she had left because they were far from subtle. She also figured that if anything went sideways, as things had a habit of doing recently, Kim would be able to get herself out of any trouble, as that seemed to be the teen’s habit, maybe even her talent. She hoped that things did not come to that because lately her agents seemed to have a lot of bother getting out of situations gone wrong; she was beginning to think that they might be incompetent or worse yet, stupid. She did not want something to happen to Kim; the girl was her future niece, after all.
“But…but…I don’t know how to be a geisha. Surely you have someone else that could this,” Kim argued, attempting to keep control of herself. She wanted to add plenty of wild hand and arm movements to get her point across, but she refrained due mostly to her noble upbringing.
“I wish I did. You’re the best person I have for this job, so it’s on you, Kim-dono,” Betty replied. She was aware that if she was patient and explained everything, Kim would cave in.
Betty was not sure why Kim would give in, but she knew that the redhead would fold like a fan if enough time passed. She was not certain if the inevitable was due to what Kim’s best friend referred to as her “natural Kim-ness,” which was what made the girl competitive and helped her believe that she could do anything. Kim did not accept failure or that there was something in the world that she could not do as well as anyone else.
Maybe the fact that the teen held an endless desire to help out whenever she could was the reason that she was going to give in. Or maybe Kim would just end up curious and want to see if she could pull it off. Or perhaps there was just the fact that it seemed challenging. It could have always been a bit of all of those things. But, whatever it was, the girl was going to fall like an avalanche and stand by her impulsive agreement and the one-eyed woman knew that to be a fact.
“But, why is it on me? I don’t know anything about being a geisha,” Kim pointed out. She was a noble, a swordsman, an all around martial artists, and maybe even a bit of an acrobat. Mixing in any of those elements made her a poor candidate to be a geisha as far as she knew, not that she knew much about being a geisha.
“Should I go down the list as to why I’ve picked you for this job?” Betty asked the olive-eyed warrior.
“It might help,” Kim answered honestly because she wanted to know how it was possible for Betty to need an undercover agent for such a task and she suddenly came to mind. It was actually a little insulting. She was a samurai, after all.
“Well, let’s see, you’re pleasant to look at. You’re well read and well educated, so you’ll be able to keep up a conversation if necessary. You know how to carry yourself extremely well. You own several lovely kimonos for the task. And to top it all off, you play the shamisen (1),” the one-eyed woman explained.
“But…” Kim trailed off. She was not totally sure how to object about everything, but given a moment, she did get her mind together. “Do you know what this would do to my family if they found out?” she inquired.
“Kim-dono, I’m not asking you to compromise yourself in any way. You’re engaged to my nephew, after all. I just need someone to be sitting in on the daimyo’s gatherings who will talk to me when the night is over,” Betty replied.
“Talk to you?”
“Yes. You might not know it because it’s not something you should ever have to bother with, but geisha do not talk. They don’t tell you what happens in the walls of the establishment, no matter what. That’s why men go there,” the older warrior stated.
Kim nodded to show that she understood that explanation somewhat. She guessed that made sense for men to travel to such a place where everything that left their mouths was confidential. She did not know too much about that side of life because she did not need to know anything about it. Well, she had assumed that she did not need to know anything about it. It probably would have done her some good for the moment that she was in now has she shown just an inkling of curiosity toward that aspect of society.
“Okay, even if I agree to do this, I don’t know anything about being a geisha,” the olive-eyed teen pointed out a third time.
“I already listed to you what you do know and will come in handy. Besides, you don’t have to worry about not knowing anything. I’ll handle that,” the brown-haired warrior assured Kim.
“Am I going to have to do this on my own? I mean, if there’s a whole bunch of these guys, I wouldn’t be able to gather information from all of them,” Kim said. She was no longer attempting to worm her way out of things, but just stating something that was evident. She was but one girl and they could be several plotters.
“It’s all right. I’m going to go get Yori-san to go with you.”
“Yori-chan (2)? Ron-kun (3) would never agree to that.”
“Let me worry about Stoppable-san. You just need to get ready,” Betty stated.
“How long will this take? You know my parents get worried when you keep me out for more than a week or so,” the redhead commented.
“I know your parents worry, but I don’t know how long this mission might take. I just need it to get started quickly before the plot takes place and they’re trying to storm the castle or something else just as insane,” the older woman said.
Kim nodded again to show that she understood. “What are we going to tell my parents while I’m gone? You can’t tell them that I’m out working in a teahouse or something like that,” the teen pointed out the obvious.
“I know I can’t tell them that,” Betty replied. Oh, that was all she needed to do was tell the respected noble parents of a well-known samurai that the girl was doing her a favor by going undercover as a geisha. Her life was already stressful, but with something like that, she might be forced to commit suicide for dishonoring their family. It would not help matters that the girl was engaged to her nephew. So, there was no way that she was going to allow anyone to know what she wanted Kim to do. It was going to be a more difficult secret to obtain than the path to enlightenment.
“So, what are we going to tell them?” Kim asked almost in a panic already. Nothing had even happened and she was already freaking out about what would happen if her family found out about what she had agreed to. Her parents, though laidback, were not so relaxed that they would take such news well were they to discover the contract.
“Calm down, Kim-dono. I will think of something. I always do,” Betty reminded the teen.
Kim took a deep breath to calm herself down, easing her twitching, anxious nerves. She had to remember that whenever she did something a little too bizarre, even for her family, Betty did have an excuse for them. Well, it was more like she had a thorough and well worked out lie for them. The older woman always believed that if Kim could be helpful toward her then she could return the favor in some manner, even though she knew that the girl would not approve of her methods.
“So, are you in?” Betty asked, even though she knew the answer to that question.
Kim smirked confidently; it was like she had been asked if she could walk down the street with no problem. “Hey, I can do anything. I think this falls into that category,” she boasted. She was now ready for the challenge since she did not have to worry about the secret getting out.
“All right. Get together whatever you might want to take in case you’re gone for a while and I’m going to go pick up Yori,” Betty sighed.
The one-eyed female really did not feel up to dealing with young Stoppable-san without Kim, especially since she was going to be trying to take his wife for who-knew-how long to do what-she-was-not-going-to-mention-in-front-of-him. The young man was just so excitable, even though most husbands would lose their cool if they knew what Betty had in mind for his wife.
Now, for the record, the blonde teen was a good guy. He was affable and kindhearted. He attempted to be understanding when it came to certain things that others might see as strange or wrong. And because of those factors, Betty tried to be patient with him. He often helped out, going out with Kim to do favors from Betty since they were best friends; an odd pair indeed. He was a good-natured lad, but he often seemed out of order in his mind and seemed to forget whom he was speaking with all of the time, which would get him into trouble with elders. She did not want to deal with his special brand of madness, but she needed Yori with Kim.
Yori was skilled in information gathering, among other things. She would be a good complement to Kim, especially since Yori was not as skilled in the refined acts being a proper woman. Yori was just what she was, a ninja more or less.
As far as Betty knew, Yori was a throwaway child. Her parents probably could not afford to keep her and just released her into the wild, so to speak. Now, such a thing was very much illegal, but that did not stop some people. She supposed it worked out well for Yori since the ninja was found and raised up by others. Sure, those people raised her to be an assassin, but Yori’s life worked out a lot better than most abandoned children.
Yori was still alive, first and foremost, which was not something that other disregarded children could boast about. She was also now married to into a noble family. She had a husband who was understanding, did not mind that she continued her work, even as a ninja, and was well off. Granted, her husband was probably just as crazy as his best friend, though a bit more cautious than she was. But, life was about give and take.
Well, now Betty was going to have to go deal with the madman that was Stoppable Ron. She doubted that he was going to react well that she was going to take his new wife away for at least a week, and it was a week if things were lucky. She would probably have the girls away much longer than a week, which she was very much aware of. She could already see Stoppable hopping all over the place in a most improper fashion before she even got to the reason she was at the house.
Betty exited the Possible manor, putting her sandals back on while she was on her way out. She bid Possible-sensei farewell in passing and then made her way down to the Stoppable residence. The day was getting longer with every step that she took.
The Stoppable residence was different from the Possible household in many ways. One of those being that they had servants. They did not have many, but they had enough to make life easy for the family. There were also no worries about being set on fire or something just as outrageous by a pair of wild twins running around the place like at the Possible manor. She did not have to worry about wondering if the mistress of the household was a fox spirit or not. In fact, she wondered how the Stoppables managed to have the son that they did have considering how normal they were.
When Betty entered the house, it was not hard to figure out where Ron was. She could hear him yelling and from the sound of his voice, she suspected that he was sparring with the person that she wanted to see. She was not surprised to find Ron on the ground, holding a bo-staff while curled up in a ball, begging his petite wife to stop.
Looking at him now, it was hard to believe that he was the heir to a very special style of combat from the continent. Betty was not sure if Ron’s behavior when sparring, namely the fact that he almost always lost, was due to the fact that he did not take anything seriously unless it was life-threatening or due to the fact that he really did not know what he was doing more often than not and just got lucky when he went out with Kim on missions. It was a question that no one really knew that answer to, like what came first the chicken or the egg.
“Ron-kun,” Yori sighed. Her expression belied her tone because she was looking down at him fondly, even if she sounded somewhat frustrated with his reaction to her attack.
“Do over, do over,” Ron said, which seemed to be his favorite phrase when sparring against anyone.
“Why a do over?” Yori inquired.
“I tripped. There was a rock,” the blonde warrior lied as he started picking himself up.
“What rock?” Yori asked curiously as she looked around where her husband fell. She would not want him to get hurt on such a rock, so she planned to remove it when it caught her onyx eye. Her character flaw, as far as Betty was concerned, was that the girl believed anything that left Ron’s mouth, no matter how outrageous.
“Excuse me,” Betty said to called attention to herself.
“Director-sama,” the couple gasped. Ron quickly picked himself completely and stood by his wife. They bowed to greet the older woman, but Ron did eye her suspiciously. After all, Betty did not make social calls.
“Stoppable-san, I was hoping that you would allow me to borrow your wife for a few moments,” Betty informed them civilly. She just wanted to tell Yori the plan without Ron being around to get overexcited, as he was bound to do.
“Um…why?” Ron inquired in a cautious manner.
“I require her,” Betty answered.
“For what?” he asked guardedly. He was usually friendly and if Betty ever came over for a regular visit, she would see that side of him more often, but she did not. While he was not against his wife doing what she wanted, he was against her being recruited on spy missions because of the dangers that she could be in.
“I’ll tell her,” Betty replied.
“It’s all right,” Yori assured her husband.
“But—” Ron tried to object, but he was cut off.
“It’s all right,” Yori promised. They had agreed that she could continue on with her duties after they got married, which meant that she would continue on taking assignments from Betty. He had to and would honor that agreement.
Yori stepped away with Betty and they discussed the mission as quietly as possible. It took all of Yori’s self-control to not scream in utter disbelief. There was no way that she could pull of such an assignment, she thought.
Ron watched from a distance with his pet on his shoulder. Rufus looked as interested in what was going as Ron. They both could tell that Yori was not happy with whatever was being said; her body language told that story extremely well. Ron’s jaw tensed ever so slightly because of his wife’s stance.
“Unhappy,” Rufus squeaked.
“Yeah, buddy, that she is,” Ron concurred.
They continued to watch until the brief discussion was over. Yori then returned to Ron and tried to explain that she was going to have to go away for a little while without having to tell him why she was leaving. Betty watched the young couple go back and forth, but she did not step close enough to hear what they were saying.
Betty could guess what Ron and Yori were going on about and she was fairly accurate in her mind. Yori was trying to explain that she would be gone for an undetermined amount of time because of serious business, which Ron could understand. He just did not want her to leave, especially on her own. He was trying to tell her that he could help, but Yori was attempting to explain that there was no way that he could help. After all, she did not even want to imagine what Ron would look like disguised as a woman.
Betty supposed that some part of her, somewhere deep down, was a bit guilty for taking Yori from her loving, worrisome husband. The couple had not even been married a year yet and there she was taking Yori away when the couple probably wanted to spend some time together. Although Betty did not see why they really needed to spend anymore time together, considering the fact that they had already known each other for a number of years. They should want a break from each other by now, in Betty’s not-so-humble opinion anyway.
Ron put a hell of a resistance in Yori leaving for a mission on her own on such short notice, but he eventually yielded. They stood there for almost an hour, gently countering each other before the blonde surrendered and honored their accord. Yori wanted to help and that was what won her husband over. Betty figured it was a good thing that Ron was such an unorthodox husband or they would have had to go through a lot more than what they had.
The couple said their farewells in private. Betty did not want to be kept waiting too long, though. Yori understood that and made her farewell hasty without hurting Ron too much. As the ebony-haired spy left, she assured her husband that he would always be in her thoughts until she returned, which pacified him somewhat. He desired to beg her to stay with him, but he would not use such a tactic on her, lest she stay out of guilt and that would only bring them trouble. Betty and Yori then went to retrieve Kim, who was ready to go.
While Betty made up some excuse for why Kim was leaving, Kim and Yori looked at each other. They did not say anything to each other, but their eyes conveyed an identical message. It was crystal clear that they were thinking the same thing: how the hell did we get into this mess?
Kim and Yori stood quietly at the back of a room while Betty waited patiently for someone that she had described to the teens as “a friend.” As far as they understood it, the “friend” was going to help make them pass as geisha. They figured that the “friend” had to practice magic then because there was no other way that a samurai and an assassin were going to pass for anything aside for what they were.
Their attention was drawn to the front of the room as a woman entered. The girls both showed no outward signs of a reaction toward her, but they were both considering how beautiful the woman was. They glanced at each other out of the corners of their eyes. They were going to have to look like that? They quickly began making backup plans because now they were all but certain that the undercover plan was going to fail.
“Betty-san,” the woman greeted Betty as she sat down formally in front of the one-eyed woman. The newcomer smiled softly, almost coyly at Betty.
Yori and Kim glanced at each other again. “Betty-san?” their eyes seemed to ask each other. It seemed awfully familiar in their opinions and they were unaccustomed to hearing anyone refer to Betty in an almost friendly tone. They supposed things could have been stranger. She could have always said “Betty-chan,” which might have guaranteed Kim and Yori believing that they had gone mad at some point in time while in the room.
“Good day, Vivian-san,” Betty greeted the woman in return.
The woman, Porter Vivian, was a tall blonde female with striking eyes as blue as the sky, which was something else that caught Kim and Yori’s attention. They figured that it probably paid to be blonde if she was what they thought she was. The exotic look probably brought in many customers, they considered and they were rather correct in that thinking.
“Betty-san, I just want to remind you that this thing you ask of me is almost impossible,” Vivian said in a plain tone.
“Nonsense,” Betty replied.
“First of all, if it gets out that I helped the government, my business is blown. No one would ever come again.”
“They won’t find out,” the one-eyed woman tried to assure her nervous friend.
“Second, do you know how long it takes to be able to perform this job? I could sooner train a horse to walk on water than two of your people to do this,” Vivian argued, seeming rather polite, even though she was insulting the quiet females in the room.
“Would you at least look at them before casting such a dismal decision,” Betty requested.
Vivian sighed and turned her sky blue eyes over to the girls. She stood up gracefully; up until that very moment, Kim and Yori had no idea that standing could be done with such style and grace. She walked over to them and thoroughly inspected them without saying a word. They did not speak either, even though they did not enjoy being eyed like objects at a market.
“Would you consider selling the redhead to me?” Vivian inquired in her usual tone, so it was difficult to tell if she was kidding or if she meant that question.
“Vivian,” Betty said while Kim was close to snapping. Did that woman not know who she was, Kim silently fumed.
“What? Men would come from far and wide to see her,” the blonde commented.
“I can’t sell you this girl. Just make them believable in a week,” Betty said.
“A week?” Vivian nearly shrieked, but she gained control of herself just in time to keep her tone even. She turned her attention back to Betty. “Did you say a week?” she asked.
“They need to be in there and finding out things, unless you’re going to supply me with the information I need,” Betty replied.
“I’ve already given you more than I was supposed to,” the blonde beauty pointed out as she returned to her seat in front of Betty.
“And you won’t have to give anymore if you take them through a crash course. They might not look like it, but they’re very bright and they pick up things quickly. Give them a week and surely they’ll pick it up,” the brunette woman stated.
Vivian looked at the girls. “They don’t look that quick,” she remarked with a teasing smile.
“You shouldn’t judge them by looks. Besides, weren’t you just offering to buy the redhead?” Betty retorted with a taunting smile of her own.
“Still, what you ask of me, impossible. They probably can’t even walk in a proper kimono,” Vivian commented. The teens were not wearing formal kimonos. They had come out in hakama, which was their casual wear.
“You’re just going to be difficult about this?” Betty asked.
“I’m being realistic,” the blonde answered.
“Girls, could you wait outside for a moment?” the one-eyed woman pretty much ordered the teens.
The younger warriors did not argue. They were not happy to just stand there and be belittled by the blonde woman. They silently exited the room and wondered what the two older women were going to talk about. They wondered if they were going to be going home much sooner than expected.
“Do you think we can do this, Kim-chan?” Yori asked curiously.
“Come on, Yori-chan. We can do anything,” Kim answered confidently.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” the ebony-haired young woman inquired. Kim shrugged; she had no idea what they were going on about. They looked at each other and nodded. They cracked the door to look inside.
“Vivian, why must you be difficult?” Betty inquired in a low tone, just in case certain pair of spies were trying to do their job before they were even at the location they were supposed to be.
“Perhaps I just want you to stay around a little longer than usual,” Vivian replied.
“You know I’m busy.”
“I know,” the blonde admitted with a small shrug and matching smile. She did appear a bit disappointed, though.
“Can you teach them or not?”
“And when you do come by, you’re so tense and huffy. It almost makes me never want to talk to you again,” Vivian commented and pouted something fierce, as if the expression was weapon that she was brandishing.
Betty sighed. “Vivian, please, just help me out here.”
“What’s in it for me? This is such a difficult task and against so many understandings that I have with my clients. I mean, we are discreet,” Vivian reminded the warrior woman.
“Just use them on the party that I need information from and they won’t have to know anything about your other clients. I’m sure you can figure out a way for them to blend into a room and not have to do much.”
Vivian seemed to think on the matter. “What’s in it for me?” she asked again with a smirk.
The one-eyed woman just sighed again. If only she was not going to need Vivian again sometime in the future, she would not put up with the little game from the blonde. She then leaned forward and whispered something into Vivian’s ear that made the blue-eyed female smile. As Betty pulled away, she ran a finger along Vivian’s elegant jaw.
“All right?” Betty inquired as she sat back down.
“I guess I can try to do something with them, but I can’t make any promises. A week is nothing unless they’ve already done this before,” Vivian replied.
“They’ll be fine,” Betty commented, trying to sound reassuring. She hoped that they would be fine anyway.
“For both of our sakes, you better be right,” Vivian replied. “You’re going to call them back in now?”
“You want to sit here alone for a moment, don’t you?” Betty asked because she knew the blonde very well and often knew what was going through her mind.
“It would be nice.”
“Fine,” Betty agreed and Vivian smiled.
Kim and Yori glanced at each other and then turned their attention back to the small slit in the sliding door. They were not too sure what they were looking at and they glanced at each other with the hope that one of them would be able to explain it. Neither of them had any rationalization for the other, so they just continued looking on. Perhaps the scene was like a puzzle that they were required to put together and it as necessary that they concentrated on it for a little longer.
“You two,” Betty called after a few minutes, which almost caused the two teens to jump. They maintained their cool.
“Yes,” the duo answered.
“You can come back in now,” Betty informed them.
The pair slid the door opened and reentered the room. Kim shut the door behind her and stood by the shoji with Yori. They looked at the older women, who were sitting as they were when the teens had exited the room minutes ago.
“You two pretty much belong to this woman now,” Betty informed them while motioning to Vivian.
“Get ready for the worst week of your lives,” Vivian told them with a rather scary smile. Kim and Yori glanced at each other; what the hell had they gotten into now?
1: shamisen: a Japanese string instrument. Think small guitar or banjo.
2: -chan: used to express intimacy and affection.
3: -kun: informal and intimate used to address males mostly.
Next time: Kim and Yori get a crash course and then are thrown to the wolves.