Hey, readers! This oneshot references the episodes 'Shrinkin' in the Ray,' 'Meat with a Side of Cute,' and 'Dinner or Consequences.'
Well, this oneshot took WAY too long to finish again. :( All the same, I hope you guys enjoy it. Before we get going, I thought I should let you guys know that I'm going to put 26 Letters on a hopefully brief hiatus while I finish a oneshot I owe Griselda Banks for winning 'By Jove, You've Rocked My Review' back in January of 2018. It's over 2 years late, which is completely unacceptable already. I feel it would be just plain wrong for me to neglect it any longer. On the bright side, though, I'm sure it's something you guys will enjoy, so I hope you can look forward to that while work on 26 Letters is paused. ;) I don't have a title for it yet, but it's going to tell the story of Becky and Bob crashing on Earth and making a home for themselves.
The theme of this oneshot was suggested by RavenishDove. The story takes place maybe a week or so after 'Handsel.' Enjoy! :)
Imperious [im-peer-ee-uhs] – domineering in a haughty manner; dictatorial; overbearing.
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"Boy, things are getting frustrating here at the Botsford house," Becky commented with a sigh. She glanced across the living room at her brother and boyfriend as they chattered self-importantly in front of the TV. "Tobey and TJ are really counting their chickens with this game console venture, and the premonitions of grandeur are starting to go to their heads."
"A-HEM," grumbled a voice that sounded even more cranky than hers. "Not to sound like a broken record, but how many times do I need to remind you people not to do my job? I'm the Narrator! Obligatory exposition at the beginning of chapters is my department."
"I was just thinking out loud," Becky defended.
"Well, your thinking out loud sounds awful narrate-y," the Narrator grumbled suspiciously.
"'Narrat-y' isn't a word," Becky retorted, "and I'm not doing it on purpose. I just need an outlet for my annoyance or I'll start to—"
"Hey, Becky! I need a refill," interrupted TJ. He held up an empty glass and rattled the ice inside it.
Becky balled her fists and loudly groaned, "TJ, I've refilled your lemonade five times already! Haven't you had enough?"
TJ scoffed and patronizingly explained, "Becky, we're doing intense brain work here! I need lots of sugar to keep my neurons firing at top efficiency."
"Well, get it yourself, then," Becky said. She went limp and let herself slip partway off the couch.
"And break my concentration?" TJ replied in a scandalized tone. "This is serious business, Becky!"
"Quite right," Tobey agreed, using his most haughty British accent even though only the three of them were present. "I'm working out the bugs in a revolutionary new invention that'll be worth millions!"
"And I'm his right-hand beta tester," TJ announced. "Are you a beta tester, Becky?"
Becky heaved a deep sigh and let herself slip the rest of the way off the couch.
"They're both acting so imperious," she muttered under her breath. "I don't know how much more of this nonsense I can take before—"
"Oh, Becky, dear," Tobey called. "While you're up, would you mind moving the couch over here? I could really use some back support."
"Ooh, now that you mention it," TJ added, "I could really use a shoulder massage after you get that lemonade refill."
"Oh my, what's that I hear?" Becky exclaimed, cupping a hand to her ear. "Trouble in town? Calls for WordGirl? I'm on my way! Word up!"
She changed into her superhero costume and flew the coop. A few minutes later, she was in her secret spaceship hideout, sprawled out on the bed in her colorfully decorated pony room and heaving a long, annoyed sigh.
"You realize you're gonna have to actually confront the issue at some point, right?" the Narrator pointed out.
"Yeah, I know," WordGirl conceded. She smiled and folded her arms as she added, "For now, though, I'm just going to ignore the issue and pretend it doesn't exist."
"Way to take the bull by the horns," quipped the Narrator.
"Don't judge me. I've had a long day. I don't have any energy to spare for confronting any more—"
"Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!" screamed a terrified voice.
WordGirl groaned, expecting to see that weird guy with the ponytail whose name she'd never managed to get, and sat up as she automatically started babbling, "The police station is on Main Street by the—"
She stopped mid-sentence when she saw who actually barreled into the room like he was running for his life.
"Dr. Two-Brains?" she asked, zapping over to him. "What is it? What's the matter?"
His eyes were twice as big and bloodshot as usual and he twitched uncontrollably, glancing this way and that as he incoherently babbled what WordGirl could only guess was meant to be an explanation.
"Gl—Gl—Four—BLAM! He was—! It was—! And the ray and the brains and then the c-c-c-c- OH! It's horrible! You've gotta help me, WordGirl! PLEAAAAAAAASE!"
He started sobbing and hugged her feet, then fell to the floor in a fetal position, dragging her down with him.
"Whoa, Doc, calm down! It's okay," she said, reaching down to pat him on the head as he squeezed her feet to his chest.
She tried to gently prod him for information, but it was no use. He just lay there trembling on the floor in shock, babbling incoherently.
"Wow, I've never seen Doctor Two-Brains this upset before," WordGirl marveled. "I wonder what spooked him?"
"Guess you'll just have to go check it out," commented the Narrator in a knowing voice.
"Hold on a second… You already know what's going on, don't you?" WordGirl accused, pointing at the ceiling.
"Maybe," teased the Narrator.
"Well, can't you just tell me? You know, serve up some of that obligatory exposition you're so proud of?"
"Oh, now you want my exposition," the Narrator whined. "Well, too bad. I'm kind of tired of being taken for granted all the time, so you're just gonna have to head into town and see what's going on for yourself."
The ground shook, and the Narrator softly added, "Don't sweat it, though, it'll be really obvious."
WordGirl zipped off into town, and her jaw dropped open at the sight that greeted her.
Lil' Mittens, the adorable kitten who the Butcher had adopted a few years ago, was pawing around in front of the department store—and he was the size of one of Tobey's giant robots. In the folds of his now pool-sized paper hat was a man WordGirl cringed to recognize. He had several plastic brains taped to his head and he shouted in a shrill voice, "Yes! Go forth, my amazing creation! Muhaha!"
"Glen Furlblam?" WordGirl exclaimed in disbelief. "What in the world is going on?! How did Lil' Mittens get so huge? And what does it have to do with Dr. No-Brains?"
"That's a bit mean," commented the Narrator.
WordGirl sighed and said, "I know. Sorry, I'm just running on a kinda short fuse today, and I think Tobey's sense of humor is starting to—"
"MEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!" Lil' Mittens bellowed, though WordGirl got the sense it would have been nothing but a cute little 'mew' had he been his rightful size. The noise was so booming that several nearby windows shattered. The kitten swiped a paw at an outdoor toy display and demolished the building's front entrance in the process.
Glen Furlblam belted out another irritating laugh. "That's right! Fear me! I am the great and powerful Dr. Four-Brains! Bow before me!"
"Oh, for crying out loud, is everyone acting imperious today?" WordGirl flung out her hands in exasperation, paused for a moment, then looked up and asked, "Well?"
"Well what?" asked the Narrator.
"Isn't someone gonna prompt me to define 'imperious'?"
"Oh, that's not necessary. We covered it in the chapter title."
"What?" WordGirl looked a little hurt. "You mean I've been using that word all this time and now I don't even get to define it? That's my one job! …You know, besides stopping villains and saving the city, that is."
The Narrator unsympathetically replied, "Oh, gee, what does it feel like for someone to steal your one job?"
WordGirl relented with a sigh. "Okay, I get it. Sorry for taking your lines."
She clasped her hands and looked up into the sky wearing the sweetest begging face she could muster. "Now can you please help me out with this"—she made a bewildered face and gestured with her hand out toward the bizarre villain/cat duo—"confusing mess in front of me?"
"Well, I can do a flashback."
"Ooh, that would be perfect!"
"All right, then." He cleared his throat, then theatrically announced, "Minutes earlier, in Dr. Two-Brains' secret lair…"
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"What's this? I said 'parsnips!' PAR-SNIPS!" Dr. Two-Brains yelled at his henchmen, gesturing to a giant crate full of soft green leaves. "Do these look like parsnips to you?"
"Woops," said the shorter henchman. "Sorry, Boss, I coulda sworn you said 'catnip.'" Beside him, Charlie averted his eyes and nervously touched his index fingers together.
The Doctor's eye twitched. "Catnip? You're telling me that I'm standing next to a crate full of catnip?"
"Um…" He looked up at Charlie, then back at his boss and drawled gingerly, "Is that… bad?"
Dr. Two-Brains took a step back from the crate, then blasted at the top of his lungs, "My grow ray runs on parsnips! You know that already! I have one crate right over there in the corner and the last thing I said before you left the lair was that I needed another one! Why would I send you to buy something that attracts—?!"
The doc froze—his eyes suddenly the size of golf balls. He whirled around to face the open door leading into the lair and saw a small orange kitten trotting in, headed for the crate.
He slammed the lid back on the crate and sprung up on top of it. "Henchmen! Get rid of it! Quick!"
"Aw, but he's so cute!" the henchman who wasn't Charlie argued with hearts in his eyes. Charlie smiled and scooped the critter up, tickling its tummy.
"It's not cute!" yelled Two-Brains. "It's a cat! Get it out of here! NOW!"
"Oh, but Boss…"
"Dr. Two-Brains," shouted an irate voice, and who should march angrily through the open lair door but Glen Furlblam. He was holding two cats in each arm while a fifth perched on his shoulder pawing at one of the plastic brains taped to his head. "I have a bone to pick with you!"
"Oh, no," Two-Brains said, swallowing and cringing on top of his crate. "Not more cats!"
"Your henchmen bought up all the catnip," Glen accused. He dropped two of his cats so that he could point at the doc, and they quickly rushed at the crate and started pawing excitedly at it. Dr. Two-Brains shrieked in fear, shaking as he tried to stay as close to the middle of the crate lid as possible.
"How am I supposed to keep my pets happy without catnip, huh?"
"You can have it! ALL of it," Dr. Two-Brains shouted. "Just get all these cats away from me!"
"Oh, great," Glen said with a smile, suddenly completely pacified. "Where is it?"
"In here," Two-Brains said, pointing down at the crate underneath him. He squealed and shrank back from a kitty paw that swiped up above the crate lid.
Glen was suddenly angry again. "Well, how am I supposed to get to it if you're sitting on top of it?"
"Get your flea-bitten terrors out of my lair and I'll give you the catnip!"
"Give me the catnip and I'll get my cats out of your lair."
"Are you sure we can't keep this one, Boss?" asked Henchman #1, fingering the tiny orange kitten Charlie was still holding. "He's so adorable!"
"Am I sure we can't keep a cat?" Dr. Two-Brains snipped, managing to drum up some anger in spite of his horror.
"I'm not getting any younger, here," Glen grumbled, impatiently tapping his foot.
"Yeah, and your little monsters aren't getting any further away from me, either!" Two-Brains argued.
"I could keep him outside the lair," said the henchman.
"Over my dead body!" said Dr. Two-Brains.
"What? But you just said I could have it!" said Glen.
"Not you, him!" said Two-Brains.
"Meow." "Meow!" MEOW!" said three of the cats.
"!" gasped Charlie.
Lil' Mittens had jumped out of his arms and was scampering over to the grow ray.
« « « « « … » » »
"… And one thing led to another, and… voila," the Narrator finished, metaphorically gesturing to the giant kitten now ravaging the jewelry store.
"Really?" WordGirl asked, raising an eyebrow. "One thing led to another? What kind of lazy exposition is that? Isn't it your job as the narrator to tell me how that thing led to… that?" WordGirl threw out her arms, literally gesturing to the giant kitten ravaging the jewelry store.
"Well, you can imagine, can't you?" the Narrator asked. "I established all the key elements of the scene. Leaving a few blanks for your brain to creatively fill in is part of good storytelling."
"Look, do you want to hear a detailed breakdown of what led to Dr. Two-Brains yelling 'Someone shoot something already!' or do you want to go save Reginald from losing several million dollars worth of inventory?"
WordGirl looked down to see the poor, pompous store clerk down on his knees outside the store wailing at the sky, "WHY?! All my beautiful jewels! Curse the beast's juvenile feline attraction to anything shiny!"
"Good point," WordGirl acknowledged. She gave the Narrator a smile and a thumbs-up. "Thanks for the recap. Now it's time for me to go save the—!"
WordGirl paused, her heart seizing with concern. "Oh, no. That was Dad's voice!"
Judging by the general direction, it had come from her house. Tobey was there, of course, and she knew he was perfectly capable of protecting her home and anyone there if some danger were to appear… Just in case, though, she decided to pop in and check.
Civic duty forgotten, she arrived at her house, zipped inside and asked, "Dad?! What's wrong?"
"Oh, there you are, Beck-a-roo," her dad said with a smile. He was holding up a pair of rabbit-ear antennas with a cord leading over to Tobey and TJ's work area, and he didn't appear to be in any danger whatsoever. "I need you to do me a favor. My roast is going to burn if I don't get it out of the oven, and I can't leave this spot."
"A little higher, Mr. Botsford," Tobey said without taking his eyes off the screen attached to Dad's antennas. Dad obediently lifted them up onto his head so that they looked like actual rabbit ears.
"Perfect," Tobey announced, shooting a thumbs-up. "Now don't move a muscle!"
WordGirl swallowed a little jolt of annoyance and asked, "Dad, why did you offer to help Tobey and TJ with their project if you have a roast in the oven?"
"Well, I didn't exactly offer to help," Dad answered with an awkward smile. "More like I got—um… Pumpkin, what's a word that means 'getting a task dumped on you that you didn't see coming and didn't sign up for'?"
WordGirl sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Coerced? Conscripted? Drafted?" She added sarcastically under her breath, "Kidnapped?"
"That's the one!" Dad said cheerfully with a smile. "I've been kidnapped."
"More to the left," ordered TJ. Dad took a step to the left, and TJ snapped, "No, not you, Dad! Bob!"
Becky blinked and looked across the room in the direction TJ pointed. She hadn't noticed before, but sure enough, there was Bob, squatting on top of a bookshelf between it and the ceiling, precariously holding out a second pair of antennas. He chirped in incredulous indignation. He was already at the edge of the bookshelf, and if he moved any farther to his left, he'd fall off.
WordGirl shook her head in bewilderment, then turned to look at Tobey. "Wait… I thought you were working on a game station. What does that have to do with TV antennas?"
Tobey looked up at her with a self-important smile and pulled on the sides of his collar. "Oh, something brilliant, revolutionary, and far too complicated for me to explain right now. You'll just have to wait and see!"
From the way he said that, WordGirl got the impression he fancied she was bursting with anticipation. In reality, she was nearly on the verge of hoping this business venture would crash and burn just to teach Tobey's imperious ego a lesson.
"Oh, by the way, Darling," he added, looking up at her so sweetly that she forgot her frustration for a moment. "Are you finished with your superhero duties? We could really use some more help here."
She frowned, and the frustration came right back. That reminded her, though. "Oh, no! I still have to save the city!"
Bob immediately started chirping wildly for her to take him with her. One might have thought he was begging for rescue from the jaws of certain death from the fuss he made. An overreaction? Probably, but WordGirl could still sympathize.
"And of course I'll need the assistance of my trusty sidekick," she announced.
Bob cheered and tossed aside his rabbit ears, then jumped excitedly into WordGirl's arms.
"Hey, no fair," TJ grumbled, hands on his hips. "We had him first!"
"Sorry TJ," WordGirl replied in an entirely unapologetic tone. "Captain Huggyface's duty to the peace and safety of our city takes priority over helping you two with your game station. Gotta go!"
As she jetted off, she heard her Dad shouting after her, "Wait, Becky! My roast!"
She sighed, jetted back, turned off the oven, and blasted once more into town. Her Dad's thanks faded to silence behind her as she gave her sidekick a hurried recap of the situation with Not-So-Lil'-Mittens.
Bob had changed into his CHF costume by the time they reached the jewelry store, and the giant kitten was nowhere to be seen. Just Reginald weeping as he despondently gathered up his scattered jewelry and held it to his bosom.
WordGirl blinked. "What? Where'd he go?"
The Narrator suddenly let loose a loud cough that sounded an awful lot like the word 'helicopter.'
WordGirl and Captain Huggyface looked at each other, then looked around, and Huggy chirped and pointed to the right. Sure enough, there was a helicopter dangling a very familiar giant plush bunny over a city park. Lil' Mittens was pawing up at the stuffed animal trying to reach it while Glen Furlblam yelled in protest from his crow's nest in the kitten's hat.
"No! Bad Kitty! You're not supposed to be playing with toys, you're supposed to be helping your master—that's me, Dr. Four-Brains—take over the city!"
WordGirl ignored Dr. Four-Brain-Cells (she was still too peeved to be perfectly nice) and zipped over to the helicopter, pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Big at the controls with Leslie as his co-pilot.
"Not to worry, WordGirl," he announced with a salute. "I will keep the kitty-cat busy while you figure out a way to stop him." He gave an awkward laugh and fondly added, "Are there any problems that fuzzy bunnies can't fix, Leslie?"
"I'm pretty sure my employment contract requires me to answer 'no,' Sir," Leslie replied in her usual unenthusiastic tone.
"Right you are, Leslie! Right you are."
"Mr. Big?" WordGirl greeted with a surprised smile. "Why are you helping save the city? You're a registered villain."
"That is true," he said exuberantly with a finger in the air, "but I'm also an extremely savvy and incidentally quite handsome businessman. I can't allow this kitten to run rampant doing untold damage to the city. If everyone suddenly has giant construction bills, no one will have any money to buy my products! Even mind-control can't make people buy something if they don't have any money. That's what Leslie says, anyway."
Leslie nodded and dryly offered, "It's a fundamental law of economics."
Huggy nodded his head in agreement while WordGirl blinked, unsure how to respond. She shouldn't have been surprised that Mr. Big's heroic act was selfishly motivated, but she still couldn't help feeling a bit moved by it.
"Well… gee, thanks, Mr. Big!"
"Not a problem, WordGirl. Take all the time you need. My giant fuzzy bunny could keep any kitten hypnotized with its huggable cuteness for at least—"
Lil' Mittens sprang up and managed to snag the stuffed bunny with his claws. The helicopter got jerked down by its attached tether and WordGirl gasped as Mr. Big was dragged suddenly out of her field of view. She looked down just in time to see Mr. Big and Leslie leap from the cockpit and deploy parachutes as the helicopter crashed in the empty park below. Lil' Mittens was already playing with the stuffed bunny and didn't notice the crash or his self-proclaimed 'master' yelling at him to go wreck the city some more.
Captain Huggyface shrieked in concern and WordGirl zapped over to the edge of the park where the parachutes had come down.
"Oh my goodness, are you two all right?" she asked the lumpy sprawled-out chutes that looked like puddles. The lumps wiggled toward the edges of the puddles and Mr. Big and his assistant crawled out.
"Right as rain, WordGirl," Mr. Big laughed as Leslie smoothed her disheveled hair and adjusted her crooked glasses. "Admittedly my plan to distract the giant kitten didn't prove to be as sustainable as I'd calculated, but not to worry! Where normal people see setbacks, businesspeople see opportunities!" He turned to his assistant and said, "Leslie, temporarily suspend production at our toy factories and convert them to manufacturing construction equipment, effective immediately!"
"Yes, sir," Leslie answered, jotting something down in a notebook.
WordGirl just floated there staring dumbly at them. She shouldn't have been surprised that Mr. Big's selfish act was selfishly motivated, but she still couldn't help feeling a bit flustered by it.
Captain Huggyface snapped her out of her stupor by lightly slapping her face and chirping loudly as he pointed to Lil' Mittens. The kitten had tossed the giant fuzzy bunny toy, knocking it quite literally out of the park, and he was now bounding toward the building on whose roof it had landed.
"You're right, Huggy," she said, nodding at him. "Looks like it's up to us to contain this feline menace. Okay, Lil' Mittens! Playtime is—!"
"Oh, come on!"
She couldn't tell who the voice had belonged to this time, but she was pretty sure it had still come from her house.
"What's up?" she asked as she flashed into her living room a minute later. "I heard a call for help."
"That was me," said Scoops, raising his hand. WordGirl blinked and rubbed her eyes in surprise. She was certain Scoops hadn't been present when she was here less than five minutes ago. He was sitting at the coffee table beside Violet—who had also miraculously appeared—and the two of them had stacks of paper in front of them. Violet's was blank, while Scoops's was ruled.
"Please, Becky, I need to be rescued!" he entreated, looking truly distressed.
"From what?" WordGirl asked.
Scoops got a horrified look on his face and said in a trembling voice, "Tobey wants me to write a…"—he paused to swallow—"terms and conditions agreement."
"An airtight terms and conditions agreement!" Tobey stipulated from across the room where he and TJ were huddled together way too close to the television. "It needs to hold up when I have my lawyers look at it." He took a dignified sip from the teacup in his hand while TJ took a sip from the lemonade that had somehow been refilled.
"Save me!" Scoops mouthed at WordGirl, his eyes bugging.
WordGirl just hovered there for a moment and stared at him, too stunned to speak. She glanced down at Violet, who unlike Scoops looked perfectly content in whatever project it was that she was hunched over.
"Are you working on something for Tobey too, Violet?" she dared to ask.
Violet smiled up at her and mildly yet proudly announced, "I'm designing a logo." She paused as if in thought for a moment, then asked, "Becky, what exactly is a logo?"
WordGirl sighed, then compliantly defined, "A logo is a graphic or symbol that identifies the work of a particular person or company so that it can be easily recognized."
Violet smiled, looking quite satisfied with that definition. "Oh, I see! It's symbolic."
"Higher, Dad," ordered TJ, and WordGirl looked up to see that Mr. Botsford was still in the same spot she'd left him, only now he was holding the rabbit ear antennas high above his head, arms stretched taut. He looked over in TJ's direction and got a dubious look on his face as he said, "I don't think I can get it any higher, Tiger."
"Can't you get a stool or something?" TJ grumbled.
"Not without moving from this spot," Dad answered, "which, you may recall, I've been expressly forbidden from doing."
"Hey, Becky," TJ said with a smile, turning to her. "Since you're here anyway, why don't you make yourself useful and get Dad a stool?"
WordGirl made a disgusted face while her sidekick groaned and smacked himself on the forehead.
"I've… gotta go," she said, forcing herself to stop there and not blather out all the other stuff she'd really like to say. It was almost a relief to know that there was a giant kitten out there that the city needed saving from. She felt kinda bad for Dad and Scoops, but they'd just have to fend for themselves for a while… at least until Lil' Mittens was dealt with. After that… well… she didn't have time to worry about that now. She had a giant kitten to deal with.
"Still procrastinating on confronting the issue, huh?" poked the Narrator as she flew back into town.
"I'm not procrastinating," she insisted. "Procrastinating is putting something off until later. I'm… prioritizing!"
"Sure you are," he muttered sarcastically.
"You know what's really funny, though?" she asked, partly just for the excuse to change the subject. "I've answered three calls for help today and none of them have been that weird guy who's always looking for the police station."
Captain Huggyface chuckled into his palm.
They reached the street corner where Mr. Big's ill-fated distraction hung from the spire of a towering high-rise. Midway up the building, Lil' mittens was gradually clawing his way up, his booming MEW ripping through the air as he waggled his fuzzy tail. WordGirl fought the urge to exclaim in irrational girlish delight. She knew that the kitten was unintentionally threatening the safety of hundreds of people in his innocent pursuit of a toy, but still, something about the sight of that adorable thing climbing up a skyscraper couldn't help pushing all her buttons. He looked like a normal-sized cat climbing up a tree, or a giant monkey climbing up a… well, a skyscraper.
That second analogy wasn't the best since the image it brought to mind wasn't exactly 'cute,' but it did snap her out of her irrational reverie and get her mind back on track.
WordGirl closed her eyes and listened carefully, focusing on the building's interior. She gave a slight smile as she reported to Captain Huggyface, "They must have successfully evacuated the area in advance. I don't hear anyone in that building, which means we have a few minutes to plan our strategy while Lil' Mittens is busy scaling that skyscraper."
Huggy chirped with an inquisitive shrug and WordGirl replied, "Well, we obviously don't want to hurt him, but we definitely do want to get him shrunk back down to to his rightful harmlessly huggable size." Without thinking, she grabbed her sidekick and hugged him tight, smiling and nuzzling his face.
She once again snapped back to reality when she heard a loud snapping of fingers right next to her ear. She opened her eyes and saw Huggy jabbing a thumb in the direction of the giant kitten with a wan smile.
"Oh, um, heh…" She felt a flush of embarrassment as she sheepishly shifted him once more onto her back, saying, "Sorry, Huggy. Being around Lil' Mittens just… makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you know?"
Huggy offered an understanding squeal and a dismissive flick of his wrist, then perked like he'd just had an idea and offered a suggestion.
"Great idea, Huggy!" WordGirl praised, resisting the urge to hug him again. "Since it was Dr. Two-Brains' grow ray that turned Lil' Mittens giant, our best bet for getting him turned small again is Dr. Two-Brains' shrink ray!"
Huggy nodded, beaming with pride.
WordGirl nodded back. "Okay, then we need to head back to the Secret Spaceship Hideout. Hopefully Dr. Two-Brains is still there…" Wilting a bit, she added, "and hopefully he's calmed down by now."
The superhero duo was back at their base in a flash, and WordGirl called out, "Hello? Dr. Two-Brains?"
She floated into the pony room and found the sought-after villain sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, legs crossed in a meditative pose. He was even steadily humming, "Ommmm… Ommmm…"
He looked up at her and greeted with a muted smile, "Oh, hello WordGirl. I was just doing my meditation routine for calming down my heart after I've had a cat episode. Thanks for taking care of that for me, by the way."
WordGirl blinked and shook her head. "Uh, you mean the giant cat thing?" She paused to sheepishly rub the back of her head. "I actually haven't, uh… finished dealing with that yet."
"What?!" Two-Brains exclaimed. His relaxed meditation pose went suddenly rigid and his mouse brain started to throb. He caught himself, however, and took a few deep breaths as he closed his eyes and muttered to himself, "No, calm down. It's okay. The cat is still miles away."
He snapped his gaze up at WordGirl and nervously asked, "The cat is still miles away, right?"
"Yeah, he's still ravaging the city."
Dr. Two-Brains heaved a relieved sigh, but WordGirl hastily continued before he could say anything. "And that's exactly what I need your help with!"
"Forget it, WordGirl," he said, splaying a hand at her. "I'm not going anywhere near that monster. Darn thing makes Maria look like a yappy little lap dog."
"I'm not asking you to get near him," WordGirl clarified. "I just need to use your shrink ray to change him back to normal."
"You're asking me to give you my shrink ray?"
"Lend. And you can't tell me that wouldn't be a small price for knowing there isn't a giant rampaging kitten on the loose."
"We-ell, aren't you the shrewd negotiator," Two-Brains chuckled approvingly. "All right, I'll let you use my shrink ray. One problem, though: it's out of fuel."
WordGirl gestured an unconcerned flick of her wrist. "Oh, that shouldn't be a problem. It runs on parsnips, right?"
Two-Brains shook his head. "The grow ray runs on parsnips. Lucky for you, the shrink ray runs on something easier to find—baby carrots."
Two-Brains nodded. "Bingo! So, you just go get some baby carrots, WordGirl, and I'll contact my henchmen and tell them to bring out the shrink ray."
"Okay, that sounds like a plan," WordGirl said, nodding at Huggy who chirped his agreement. "Sit tight, Dr. Two-Brains. I'll be back with some baby carrots before you can say—"
"Hee—eee—lp!" belted a loud, frightened voice WordGirl recognized all too well.
She stared up into the sky and moaned incredulously, "You have got to be kidding me!"
"That's a weird example," Two-Brains muttered.
"Who is it this time?" asked the Narrator.
"It's that weird guy who's always looking for the police station!"
Huggy groaned in exasperation and wilted into a mass of dangling limbs over WordGirl's shoulder. She considered for a moment, then shook her head and said, "You know what? No! I'm a superhero on a mission! I have to find baby carrots so I can save the city from a giant rampaging kitten! Someone else can tell that guy where the police station is. I mean, it's not like there isn't someone whose one job is to tell people things they need to know."
"Oh, you are a sneaky little thing, aren't you?" quipped the Narrator.
WordGirl shot a wily smile at the ceiling, then jetted off to the grocery store.
« « « « « … » » » » »
"What do you mean there's no baby carrots?!" WordGirl exclaimed.
"In case you haven't noticed," grumbled a disheveled grocery store owner, "My store was just attacked by a giant cat!"
He righted a crate, knocking aside a few of the cabbages that had managed to stay inside, then started picking up the heads and tossing them back into the crate.
"Yeah, but—he wasn't eating the vegetables," protested WordGirl.
The man heaved a flustered sigh and shortly said, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, we ran out before the cat showed up. Had 'em on sale since Tuesday and they went like hotcakes. We've got plenty of regular-sized carrots, though, in three delicious colors!"
WordGirl slumped her shoulders while Captain Huggyface sighed as if he were reading her mind. She gave him a barely hopeful look, he nodded, and she pulled out her Official WordGirl Mobile Phone™ and dialed her Super Secret Spaceship Hideout. She wondered if Dr. Two-Brains would pick up and was both relieved and irritated when he did—relieved because she didn't have to fly back there again, and irritated because it meant he was making himself a little too at home.
"Hey, Doc, it's WordGirl," she greeted. "Is there any chance regular carrots would work?"
"Nope," he predictably replied. "Has to be baby carrots."
"Of course it does," she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.
"Hey, what did you expect? It's a shrink ray."
WordGirl couldn't imagine what that had to do with anything on a scientific level, but she decided not to waste time mentioning it. "All right, I'll figure it out. See you."
She hung up and turned once more to her faithful sidekick. "Well, Huggy, I guess we're just going to have to find some baby carrots.
Huggy wilted, then smiled suddenly, like he'd just remembered something. He started chittering wildly, pointing into town, and WordGirl gasped happily in response. "Oh, good work, Huggy! That's just what we need! Word up!"
She jetted off and momentarily arrived back at her house… again. She steeled herself to ignore whatever was going on with Tobey and TJ and focus on the task at hand. Here goes nothing, she thought, taking a deep breath as she flew inside.
Of course, it was borderline impossible to ignore something like that.
In the seat across from TJ was none other than that weird guy with the ponytail who was always looking for the police station. He flailed his arms around as he exclaimed his plea, and this earned him a wrathful scowl from TJ.
"A-hem, focus please," TJ demanded, pointing insistently at a lineup of cardboard boxes on the table in front of him. They appeared to be full of cables, computer components, and various mechanical parts.
The guy started—or rather, resumed?—fishing through the mess in the box, but he looked pleadingly up at WordGirl and explained, "I was just looking for the police station to tell them about the giant kitten invasion and I suddenly got kidnapped and forced into doing manual labor!"
"Kidnapped? Forced?" Tobey repeated, sounding offended as he looked up from the computer chip in front of him and removed his goggles. He pointed at the guy with his soldering iron and imperiously said, "What a way to describe the opportunity to witness greatness in the making and even assist in the process of making it! Now hurry up and find that coaxial signal splitter. I still need an auxiliary shrinkatron modulator and a three and three quarters centicubit hexagonal washer."
"This is most definitely not the police station," Pony Police Guy sobbed.
WordGirl blinked and raised a hand to her mouth. Every other time she'd come home to find the latest victim of Tobey and TJ's ego trip she'd felt frustrated and annoyed, but now… well she wasn't proud of it, of course, but she had to exercise considerable restraint just to keep from laughing.
Focus, WordGirl, she reminded herself. You're on a mission, remember?
She shook her head and deliberately floated past Tobey and TJ, past Violet still happily doodling away, and past Scoops sweating as he pored over a legal dictionary and babbled half-intelligible definitions of judicial terms.
She approached her dad, who was now holding up two pairs of rabbit antennas. "Da—" she started, suddenly remembering Ponytail Guy and glancing nervously in his direction. "Da—ctylogram is a fancy word for a fingerprint… in case anybody was, you know, curious." She chuckled weakly.
"Wow, I never knew that," Dad exclaimed. "What an interesting word."
WordGirl grinned sheepishly, then asked, "So, uh, Mr. Botsford, do you have any more baby carrots?"
Her dad wobbled a bit, regained his balance, then shot her a confused look. "What do you need baby carrots for, Beck—I mean WordGirl?"
"It's a long story," she replied. "Short version: I need them to save the city. Do we have any more?"
Dad gave a good-natured chuckle. "Whoa, I never thought baby carrots would be so important. Sorry, Sweet Pea—I mean WordGirl—but I put all the baby carrots I bought in my roast." He glanced over to the kitchen and his smile instantly wilted. "My beautiful dinner roast that I… worked all morning to prepare… and that is now sitting in the oven getting cold… while everyone is too busy to enjoy it." He looked like he might start crying at any moment.
The sight tugged at WordGirl's heartstrings and she gently cooed, "It's okay Da—uh, I mean—it's okay good sir whose family I am certainly not a part of. It was made with lots of love, so I'm sure it will still taste delicious."
Dad sniffled and smiled at her. "You're right, WordGirl. Thank you. I feel better now."
"A little to the right, Dad," TJ called from across the room.
Dad moved one of his pairs of antennas and TJ snapped, "Not that one, the other one!"
Dad made a forced-looking smile and gently retorted, "Well, son, you didn't exactly specify." He jerked the other antennas in the direction indicated, and his face morphed into a grumpy pout that his family rarely got to see.
WordGirl sighed, rolled her eyes, and pulled out her phone. As it rang, she made a silent commitment to deal with this out-of-hand fiasco as soon as she had taken care of Giant Mittens.
"Hey, WordGirl," answered Dr. Two-Brains. "Did'ja find some baby carrots?"
"Um, about that," she muttered gingerly, "Can the baby carrots be roasted?"
"I can't guarantee it won't mutate the cat," said Two-Brains.
At that the irate voice of The Butcher yelled through the speaker, "WordGirl, you'd better not roast my Lil' Mittens or I'll turn you into a roast! …Or, bury you in roast, at least."
"Butcher? Are you at my secret hideout?" WordGirl exclaimed.
Dr. Two-Brains made what sounded like an exasperated sigh and said, "He's a childhood friend of one of my henchmen. Also, he's apparently the owner of that c-c- that creature you're trying to deal with. One thing led to another, and here he is."
"Et tu, Two-Brains?" WordGirl grumbled. "I tell you, the phrase 'one thing led to another' should be rejected from the English language as an acceptable form of explanation!"
She frowned up at the ceiling, copying her dad's grumpy pout.
"What are you looking at me for?" rebuffed The Narrator.
WordGirl grumbled and rolled her eyes. "Ugh, never mind. I just need to find some uncooked baby carrots before—"
"Oh!" Dad exclaimed out of nowhere with a hearty belly laugh. "Silly me, I forgot! I put a few baby carrots aside so I could slice them up and put them on the salad. They're in the back of the fridge on the right."
WordGirl beamed gratefully. She zipped into the kitchen and snagged the coveted vegetables, then was back at her dad's side in a flash saying, "Oh, thank you, Da—Sir!"
"Happy to help!" He nodded cheerfully with a wink.
"Now I just need to get back to Dr. Two-Brains and—"
The front door flew open with a slam, revealing an irate-looking Captain Huggyface. Through the door, a taxi could be seen driving away from the house. He marched right up to WordGirl, but before he could start, she preemptively said, "Oh gosh! I left you at the grocery store, didn't I?"
He folded his arms and gave her a sharp nod.
"I'm sorry, Huggy," she said. She was being sincere, but she also needed to move things along, so she quickly added, "But look on the bright side. Getting left at the grocery store is better than being stuck here with Team Imperious, right?"
She wagged a thumb into the living room, and her sidekick looked over at Tobey and TJ's disgruntled labor force. He cringed, nodded, and jumped on WordGirl's back. All was forgiven.
« « « « « … » » » » »
"Okay, Dr. Two-Brains," WordGirl gasped as she and Huggy arrived back at their spaceship hideout. "I got baby carrots."
The doc, his two henchmen, and The Butcher were all sitting around her Pretty Princess table playing cards. In the middle of the table was a pile of meat and cheese. They all looked up at her in unison and The Butcher asked with a serious frown, "You got the kind that definitely won't mutate my sweet Lil' Mittens, right? "
"Sure did," WordGirl said proudly, holding up the baby carrots like a trophy.
The Butcher gave a pacified smile and went back to the game. "Okay, Charlie, I see your three hot dogs and I raise you a string cheese."
Charlie's mouth fell open and he started sweating as he studied his own cards.
Captain Huggyface stared at the table with stars in his eyes and tried to make a leap for it, but WordGirl snatched him out of the air and said, "Forget it, Huggy. We've got a city to save, remember?" He looked disappointed as she turned to Dr. Two Brains and asked, "Do you have the shrink ray?
"Right here," he said, holding up the gun she recognized from when he'd shrunk her. "Trade?"
Smiling, WordGirl tossed him the baby carrots, which he caught and loaded into a hatch on the back of the shrink ray. Then he closed the hatch and tossed the shrink ray to WordGirl.
"All right, Huggy," she announced as she snatched the shrink ray out of the air. "Let's go cut that kitty down to size!"
"Be gentle!" the Butcher called urgently after her as she took off once more for the City.
"MEEEEEEEEWWWWW," bellowed the playful roar of a happy kitten. He had finally reached the top of the skyscraper and started pawing at the plush bunny impaled on its spire.
"YES!" Shouted Glen Furlblam, pumping his arms in the air. "I'm on top of the world! Bow before me, puny humans!"
WordGirl hefted the shrink ray and confidently announced, "All right, Dr. Mittens-for-Brains! Your days of terrorizing jewelry and grocery stores are over!"
She fired, the ray blasted, and within seconds Lil' Mittens was little again. He lost his grip on the building and gave a squeaky 'mew' as he fell toward the ground.
"Oh no!" WordGirl shouted on instinct. She flashed toward him and scooped him out of the air, safe and sound. Huggy heaved a sigh of relief and gave her a thumbs up while the adorable kitten looked up at her with sparkling eyes. She just about died from cuteness overload and reflexively snuggled him close to her face.
"There, there," she cooed as the kitten purred in her hands. "You're safe now, lil' guy."
"Unhand my minion, WordGirl!" ordered a tiny voice. WordGirl's eyes popped open and she glanced down at the paper hat Lil' Mittens was wearing. Lo and behold, there was Glen Furlblam, reduced to the size of a GELO minifigure.
"AWWWWW!" WordGirl squealed. "He's so tiny and cute now!"
"I'm not cute! I'm fierce and powerful," Glen squeaked. "I'm warning you! Obey me or face the wrath of the mighty Dr. Four-Brains!"
Captain Huggyface reached over and plucked him from Lil' Mittens' hat, much to his vehement and entirely ineffective protest, then stuck him in a pocket of his utility belt and gave WordGirl a thumbs-up.
"Well," she said, shouldering the shrink ray, "That was anticlimactic."
"At least it's over," muttered the Narrator.
"Yeah," WordGirl muttered wistfully. She would be more happy about it if it didn't mean she had to go home and deal with Tobey and TJ now.
Resisting the urge to sigh, she looked to Huggy and said, "Well, I guess we'd better get this lil' guy to the Butcher, get that little guy to Dr. Two-Brains so he can grow him back to his regular size, and then get the whole lot of them out of our secret hideout. Shouldn't take too long, right?"
Huggy raised his eyebrows at her and made a funny sound. Now that there was no imminent threat to the city, she flew a lot slower than she needed to toward her spaceship. Thinking out loud, she mused, "Do you think there's any chance that things back at the house will resolve themselves before I get home?"
Huggy shrugged, and the Narrator snickered.
« « « « « … » » » » »
WordGirl arrived at the Botsford House and surreptitiously flitted into her room through the window. Huggy hopped onto the bed and they changed out of their superhero attire. Becky sighed as she glanced over at the door, cringing in anticipation of the task at hand. She really didn't want to go downstairs and put TJ and Tobey in their place. It was hard enough to deal with just one of them. But a promise was a promise, so she took a deep breath and resolutely marched out of her room.
When she reached the living room, she was met with quite the surprise. The work area that Tobey and TJ had annexed was deserted—all the doodads and technical components they'd been working on packed haphazardly into cardboard boxes. The couch had been returned to its regular place across the room from the television, and Scoops, Violet, and Pony Police Guy were all sitting together watching the news story about the kitten fiasco WordGirl had just wrapped up. Just to the right of the TV, a flustered-looking Tobey was holding up a pair of rabbit ear antennas.
"A little to the left," Scoops instructed with a wave and a satisfied smile. Tobey grudgingly obliged, and the fuzzy image on the TV cleared up a bit.
"Ooh! And could I get some more popcorn?" asked Pony Police Guy, holding up an empty bowl.
Tobey sighed, pulled a remote from his pocket, and pushed a button. A little robot waddled into the room making popping sounds as it approached the couch, then it opened its chest and dumped a serving of popcorn into the empty bowl.
Becky blinked, dumbfounded. She looked questioningly down at Bob, but he looked just as confused as she was.
"Okay, Sport," said Dad's voice, calling Becky's attention to the kitchen. "I need a clove of garlic from the pantry, an onion from the fridge, and a sprig of fresh parsley from my miniature herb garden in the back yard.
"Dad, I thought dinner was already made," complained TJ, who was standing next to him. "Why are you making more?"
Dad answered with a good-natured smile, "Well, TJ, since the roast got cold and needs to be reheated, I need to make my special Leftovers Sauce to help compensate for the lack of freshness."
TJ groaned, and Sally Botsford's signature arresting 'ahem,' sounded in response. Becky only now noticed Mom sitting at the dining room table sipping a cup of coffee.
"TJ," she said sternly.
"Yes, Dad," TJ conceded, slumping his shoulders and moping off.
Becky was quiet for a beat, then tentatively muttered, "Um… did I miss something?"
"Boy, did you!" Scoops exclaimed from the living room. "Mrs. Botsford got home, saw what was going on, and held a family trial right on the spot."
Violet calmly added, "Tobey and TJ were convicted of coercion, unlawful detainment, and excessively imperious behavior."
"What?" Becky shouted, hands flying to her face. "I missed a family trial?"
Scoops nodded. "Yup! And I'll tell ya, it was headline-worthy! They were sentenced to two hours of community service," Scoops happily added, gesturing for Tobey to lower his antennas.
Tobey obliged with a groan and grumbled, "Becky, why didn't you tell me this could happen?"
Becky met his eyes, ambivalent. She would have thought she'd feel relieved and completely justified—and she did—but she also felt just a tiny bit guilty. The look on Tobey's face was not indignation or affront, but genuine disappointment. Tobey wasn't used to the way the Botsfords did things, so she supposed it really was a bit of a failure on her part not to prepare him.
She opened her mouth, still not quite sure what to say, when Mom suddenly spoke up. "Now, Tobey, it's not Becky's job to remind you about common courtesy."
"Besides," added Dad, "Being an honorary member of the family means you have all the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a Botsford. That includes being subject to family trials." He playfully waved his wooden spoon in Tobey's direction, then returned to stirring his pot and humming a happy tune.
Tobey heaved a resigned sigh and muttered under his breath, "Yes, sir." He aimed one last sad frown at Becky, then sighed and closed his eyes. Becky suddenly felt a bit self-conscious for some reason, so she quietly made her way back up to her room.
Bob followed her inside, and she took that as permission to get her thoughts out.
"It's weird, Bob," she said. "I was so reluctant to confront Tobey and TJ about their behavior, but now that Mom's taken care of it for me, I sort of feel like I failed somehow… Or maybe more like there's still something I need to do? I don't know."
Bob shrugged and chattered a response. Becky sighed.
"Yeah, I think they did learn their lesson," she said. "They seemed pretty humble about accepting their punishment. That was surprising, actually. With how imperious they were acting earlier, I would have thought their egos would make it impossible for them to realize they did anything wrong. That was why I was so hesitant to talk to them about it."
She stared off into space, her mind wandering to the Lil' Mittens catastrophe that had kept her busy for most of Tobey and TJ's ego trip. She contemplatively touched her chin and started thinking out loud. "Maybe egos are like kittens… If they get too big, they run amok and cause all kinds of problems, but once they get shrunk back down to the right size, it's okay to stroke them a little."
Bob regarded her with a raised brow and an amused chuckle, but then he just shrugged in a good-natured gesture of 'yeah, maybe.'
Becky smiled and got up from her bed to sit down at her desk. "In that case, maybe there is something more I can do."
She grabbed a pencil and two pieces of stationary, then began to write.
Don't get discouraged. Humbling yourself and submitting to consequences is hard, but your willingness to do it says something awesome about you. For what it's worth, I want you to know that I'm proud of you.
Becky grinned at her work. It was short, simple, and sweet, just like she'd intended. She turned to the other paper and copied the letter, substituting Tobey's name for TJ's and adding a teasing little quip at the end. She turned to Bob, who had hopped up on her chair and was reading over her shoulder.
"What do you think?" she asked.
Bob gave her a thumbs-up.
She sealed the letters in two matching little purple envelopes, then slipped carefully out her bedroom window. A moment later she'd found TJ in the backyard snipping parsley. Landing behind him, she tapped his shoulder and held out an envelope. "Here, TJ. This is for you."
Her brother eyed the letter lethargically, then sighed and took it from her.
"Thanks," he said, unenthusiastically but not insincerely, and he stuffed the envelope in his pocket and headed inside. Becky smiled and followed him. He would read it later, and hopefully it would do him some good.
Once in the kitchen, they went their separate ways. TJ went to deliver Dad's sauce ingredients while Becky headed into the living room to deliver her second letter.
Tobey looked somberly up at her as she approached, still stuck by the TV holding up the antennas. She levitated over the television and dropped down beside him with a warm grin on her face. "Here, Tobey," she said, sticking the envelope behind his ear so that it was held in place by the temple of his glasses. "This is for you."
She gave him a pat on the shoulder and a kiss on then cheek, then trotted off toward the stairs before he had a chance to respond. Once upstairs, though, she closed her eyes and focused on him with her super-hearing. He didn't say anything, but his heartbeat got a little faster, and that never failed to put a smile on Becky's face. She stepped inside her room wearing that smile and feeling quite pleased with herself.
"Well, all's well that ends well, right, Bob?" she announced. "The city is safe from being destroyed by a giant cat and Tobey and TJ learned a valuable lesson."
Bob gave her a wry smile and challengingly asked her what she learned.
Becky's exuberance wilted, but only slightly, and she was surprised how easy the answer came. "That I shouldn't procrastinate, for one," she said. "But I think I also learned something about Tobey and TJ."
"What's that?" asked the Narrator.
"That there are lots of ways to shrink things," she replied. "Sometimes it takes baby carrots. Sometimes it takes kind words and consequences."
« ... »
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
— Romans 12:3
- Meowthra— Lil' Mittens is a stray kitten that The Butcher adopted in 'Meat With A Side of Cute' and then promptly fell head-over-heels in love with. The giant cat thing is sort of a nod to The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which you really ought to see if you haven't already. -VERY MINOR SPOILER WARNING- In that movie it was actually a regular-sized cat running rampant in a world full of tiny LEGO people, but the effect was basically the same—all the way down to the villain acting like this cat is his key to conquering the city when it was really just an accident and he doesn't even have control of the dang thing. XP
- Grow and Shrink Rays— These were from the episode 'Shrinkin' in the Ray' where Dr. Two-Brains built a shrink ray and a grow ray. He revealed that the fuel for the grow ray was parsnips, but he didn't say what powered the shrink ray. He just said shrinking things was 'easy.' I chose baby carrots as a veggie fuel that was both thematically fun and reasonably easy to come by. :)
-'One Thing Led to Another' — This is a reference to a sketch by Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians. Look up 'Brian Regan One Thing Led to Another' and you should be able to find it. ;P
- Maria— This is the name of the Energy Monster as revealed in 'Dinner or Consequences,' which also revealed that she can be quite the chatterbox when she actually has the ability to talk.
- 3 Colors?— If the grocery store owner's mention of having carrots in three colors was confusing to you, do an image search for 'rainbow carrots.' ;)
- The Butcher Knows Charlie— This, believe it or not, is canon. ;P It's revealed in the episode 'The Fill-In,' when The Butcher shows DTB a photo of him and Charlie together as small children.
- Family Trial— This adorable canon nugget was established in 'Dinner or Consequences.' Apparently the Botsfords have a long tradition of holding trials within their family to settle petty domestic disputes. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that accounts at least partly for Sally's vocation of choice. :P