By Gary Curtis

Powerpuff Girls created by Craig McCracken



Professor Utonium stared at the bubbling fluid in a mixture of rapt fascination and downright horror. He had no idea what the orange concoction was going to do. His right hand scribbled notes furiously on paper held by the clipboard in his left, then it slipped the pen into its holder on the clipboard and stirred the gooey substance one more time with a large wooden spoon. The stuff clung to the spoon and seemed to be growing thicker by the second. The results were not at all what he'd expected, and not good.

The inventor and father to the Powerpuff Girls had seen enough. He laid down his writing tools and turned off the flame, then took the spoon and rapped it on the side of the pot to remove as much of the congealing muck as possible. He set the spoon down on the adjacent tabletop and sighed. Another experiment had ended in failure.

Just then a noise caught his attention. It was the unmistakable sound of the Girls returning home from school. They would be hungry and expecting dinner before too long. Sure enough, Buttercup came sailing up to him.

"Hey, daddy-o, what up?" she said in passing as she gave his cheek a quick peck on her way back out and up to the bedroom the three shared. Bubbles and Blossom were right behind, and also greeted him happily. But Buttercup was reacting to what she saw.

"Ihhhh," she said in disgust, pointing at his afternoon's work. "What's that stuff?" Her sisters made similar noises and declarations of its grossness.

"Well, Girls, I thought I could save you a step by adding ketchup to the cheese before making dinner." He pointed to the empty box of Krapf macaroni and cheese sitting on the kitchen table.

[A/N: Pronounced 'Kraff'; the 'p' is silent.]

While he removed the pot from the stove, carried it to the kitchen sink, and began filling it with hot water, Blossom remarked, "If that's what ketchup does to the cheese, imagine what happens after we eat it."

Bubbles cried, "I'm never eating that stuff again!"

"Good thing you did this experiment, Professor," Buttercup said. "Who knows what that Krap would do to our insides if we kept eating it? So, what're we having tonight?"

As he listened to them, he scraped the sides of the pot and smiled, but Buttercup's last words jolted him. "Egad! I forgot to take something out of the freezer this morning!"

Calmly, he wiped his hands dry on a towel as he turned and smiled at them, never letting on to his gaffe. "It's 'Kraff', Buttercup, and I thought maybe we could go out for dinner."




Blossom won this time. In the past she had given in to her sisters' demands to go somewhere else, to keep the peace, and Professor Utonium had acknowledged that fact openly. So she got to pick, and now they were seated in a Chinese restaurant for the first time. The professor had suggested one of the buffet types that included Western dishes as well, so they'd be able to choose whatever looked good to them. Blossom's mouth watered as her eyes took in the dazzling array of hot dishes at the five islands. Buttercup was leery of some of the strange-looking-and-sounding things she saw, but was very happy to see the huge, red roast of beef and the hot chicken wings. Bubbles' eyes went straight to the dessert table.

But first they had to be seated. A smiling, middle-aged Chinese woman took them to a table near the food islands, sat them and left. Professor Utonium sat to Blossom's right, facing the islands; Bubbles sat opposite him, and Buttercup sat facing Blossom. The place was about half-full; not crowded but busy enough to keep emptying the serving trays and assuring that things were nice and fresh and hot.

"Now, Girls, this looks like a very nice restaurant. Promise me you'll behave?" The professor said this with a look towards Buttercup, then Bubbles, knowing if there was any trouble, it would start with the former and probably be directed toward the latter.

"I will, Professor," Blossom answered automatically. She was enchanted by everything around her and wasn't thinking about her sisters. It was a very nice place. The dining area was darker; the tables lit with candles in glass-shaded brass holders with the ceiling lamps with decorated bamboo shades above each table, dimmed and casting a soft glow about the large dining room. The individual food islands were well-lit from lights directly overhead that didn't affect the ambience of the dining area. Chinese wall hangings rather than prints were on the walls, vases large and small sat scattered throughout on pedestals, the ornately-patterned carpeting was thickly-padded, lacquered wood dividers stood between some tables toward the rear, to offer a measure of privacy to diners who desired a touch more intimacy. All in the predominant colors of red, gold, and black, with sprinklings of yellow, blue, orange, green and violet. And plants, loads of fresh, green plants in polished brass planters. Even brightly painted bamboo place mats on the tables, fake bamboo, probably, but pretty nonetheless. It looked like something out of a picture in one of her books, this sudden immersion into Chinese culture. She was thrilled.

Buttercup stared at a large, bronze dragon sculpture. "Yes, Professor, " she said absently to his request. Even Bubbles seemed quite taken with their surroundings. She giggled and pointed to a large brass statue of a jovial, short, bald and obese Chinese man in a loose-fitting robe.

A shy young man with his eyes cast down deferentially arrived to wordlessly fill water glasses and place three bowls in the center of the table. The largest held crunchy, brown chow mein noodles; the two smaller ones contained dipping sauces, a tangy, orangy-brown, and a spicy light yellow mustard. A steaming, gleaming metal teapot came next, and the young man's eyes asked Professor Utonium if he would like some tea. The answer was a smile and a nod toward the empty cup on the saucer. After his cup was filled, Blossom smiled at the young man and said brightly, "Yes, please!" Her sisters followed suit, and the young man finally smiled at them all and scurried away.

Bubbles sipped at hers and made a face. "It's too hot!"

"Just blow on it," Buttercup said, to which the professor quickly objected. Bubbles was directly facing him. He'd already had one painful experience with one of his daughters and hot liquids.

"Just give it a minute to cool off, honey."

Blossom found hers just right, and she remarked that it was almost as good as the tea Mojo had served as Mojecia.

"Yeah," Buttercup agreed. "Mojo might be a jerk but that was some good tea."

"Hey, Professor?" Bubbles asked, "If Mojo couldn't talk or anything before, then how could he have a granny that had a tea recipe?"

Blossom sighed. "Bubbles, haven't you learned by now not to believe anything that guy says?" Then she sat up straight. Her moment had come!

A young Chinese girl decked out in the standard wait uniform of white blouse with black tie and slacks approached their table with a smile and a pad, to take their drink orders. Blossom had been practicing this since they first got in the car. "Oh, I hope I get it right!" She turned in her seat toward the girl, gave her a big welcoming smile, and said in perfect Mandarin, "This is a beautiful restaurant and we are happily looking forward to sampling your fine cuisine!"

The girl blinked at her in surprise. "Oh, great...not another one! I bet she asks for chopsticks and drops stuff all over the place!"

She smiled back at Blossom briefly before addressing the perfect English. "Uh, I'm Amy, and I'll be your waitress tonight. Can I bring you anything to drink?"

A very disappointed Blossom ordered root beer, along with her sisters.



While waiting for their root beer and the professor's solitary glass of plum wine, which he had explained to a shocked Blossom would be metabolized out of his system well before they got back in the car, they munched on the noodles. Bubbles refused to touch the duck sauce until she was convinced there were absolutely no little duckies used to make it. Buttercup preferred the hot mustard sauce. Blossom thought it might go good with some of the food, but the sweet duck sauce was better with her tea. Then Amy was back with their drinks, told them they could go help themselves to the buffet but take a clean plate for each trip, and she would be back. Bubbles promptly guzzled her root beer. Then she decided to sample the mustard sauce, and let out a gasping, "Too hot!" while fanning her tongue. The professor caught Amy's attention, and she quickly brought Bubbles another root beer... and the chopsticks that Blossom requested. Bubbles drank half, sighed in relief, and stuck more noodles in the mustard.

"Nice try, Bubbles, but two is all you get." Professor Utonium shook his head as the little blonde sat back, knowing she was caught. She could be as sly and sneaky as her green-eyed sister when she put her mind to it.

"But Professor," Blossom said, "The menu says we get free refills."

"Money isn't the issue, Blossom, but...all right, you can each have three, but that's it and no more. Now, let's go get some of that wonderful buffet."

He supervised Bubbles' selections, but left the other two to their own devices. He saw a nice, well-rounded assortment on Blossom's plate as she eagerly walked back to her seat, but he thought maybe he should have been watching Buttercup.

"Buttercup, you have to have more than just French fries. I want you to eat at least some vegetables."

Buttercup used her hands instead of her fork, which brought a wince to his face, and she pulled back some of the fries to reveal chicken wings and a pile of baby corn underneath. "Vezhbulls," she said, while chewing a mouthful of potatoes. A frown wiped the grin off her face, and they got to work eating. Blossom commented on how delicious everything was, while hoping no one had seen the three shrimp that had gone flying out of the grip of the unwieldy wooden sticks. She reached a shoe down to the floor surreptitiously and kicked them all the way under the table. She made a second trip to the buffet, and when she returned, the second root beer she'd asked for was there, waiting.

It seemed that Bubbles had grown bored with eating, though she hadn't eaten very much. Her sister was now fiddling with her set of chopsticks, holding them like she held her drum sticks. "Hey Girls? It's been a long time since we practiced. We should write some new songs!"

Smiling to herself, Bubbles began to tap the sticks on the table lightly, playing to some unknown tune in her head. She grew more engaged, her face reflecting the building rhythm inside her. She included her plate, the mustard bowl, and the metal lid of the teapot as part of her impromptu drum kit, her elbows flying out to the sides as she picked up speed

Just as the professor and her red-haired sister both cried out, "Bubbles, stop that!", with a huge grin, she finished her solo with a rat-a-tat-tat on Buttercup's head.

"Hey! Give me those!" Buttercup shouted with her mouth full, enraged because she'd been minding her own business. She lurched toward her sister to grab the sticks away, and in doing so, her right elbow knocked over her glass of root beer, spraying it across the table. Blossom leaped up and her knee hit the table's underside. Over went her full glass, too. Professor Utonium watched in horror as the source of the trouble, sweet little Bubbles, added hers to the mess when she tried to escape her angry sister. Root beer flew all over and mixed in with everyone's food, the noodles and sauces, and the professor's wine glass.

Now floating and mortified, Blossom felt her face going crimson with embarrassment. She grabbed napkins in a futile attempt to stanch the flow of sticky brown liquid from leaking onto the carpet. Her father had gotten between the other two, and held Bubbles in his arms while a furious Buttercup scowled at her.

"Bubbles, what's gotten into you?" he said sternly.

"I'm sorry, Professor," she said mournfully, her eyes starting to fill. "I don't like Chinese food that much."

He saw Amy, the young man who had set them up, and another girl rushing toward them. "Well, I think everyone's had enough, and these nice people have certainly had enough of us for one day."

"Great," said Blossom in shame and disgust. "The one time I finally get to go where I want, and you guys have to ruin it for me."

"Me?" Buttercup answered hotly. "I didn't do it, she did!" She looked at her father. "No fair, Professor! I didn't even get to have my meat yet!"

"There's still plenty over there, so go help yourself," Amy said soothingly. "Don't worry about this, sir, things like this happen all the time. We'll just get you another table."

Blossom gave the girl a grateful smile, and Professor Utonium knew this was going to demand a very nice tip. "All right, Girls, but no more monkey business!"



A new table, set up just like before, with a few exceptions. The nice place mats were gone, replaced by cheap paper ones, just in case. Fresh glasses filled with water and sodas, but no more wine for the professor. A fresh outlook on things, too. Blossom enjoyed the six different varieties of chicken that she sampled, along with steamed white rice, fried rice and the soft, delicious lo mein noodles that was her favorite dish of all. Buttercup eagerly tucked into a big slab of rare roast beef. The carver had only wanted to give her a tiny slice until she made a deal with him: "I don't finish it, I wash your car. I do finish it, you give me some more."

Bubbles idly munched a few fries along with the only thing Chinese she took a liking to, the sauces. She had pushed her plate away, and was admiring the caricatured animals that ringed the border of her paper place mat. A big drop of duck sauce splatted on one of the animals, the horse, and she wiped it away. She bent forward to take a closer look.

"Hey Girls, did you see all the cute animals on the place mats? And it says something about each one of them!"

Buttercup mumbled, "The only animal I care about, Bubbles, is the one on my plate."

"That's mean!"

"Now, Bubbles, let's not start," the professor said warningly, then got her back to her animals. "What you're looking at, Bubbles, is the Chinese Zodiac."

"Is that anything like our zodiac, Professor?" Blossom asked. She meant the astrology-based zodiac familiar to Westerners. Her exposure to Chinese culture hadn't gotten that far yet.

"Yes and no, Blossom. The zodiac you know is based on a calendar year and various constellations for which the twelve signs are named. Some people believe when you are born is important, but the traits assigned to those signs are actually traits shared by just about all of us at some time, no matter when we are born. The Chinese Zodiac, while somewhat similar...but here, it's right on the mat."

Blossom started reading aloud. "The Chinese Zodiac consists of a 12-year cycle, each year of which is named after a different animal that imparts distinct characteristics to its year. Many Chinese believe that the year of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining that person's personality traits, physical and mental attributes and degree of success and happiness throughout his lifetime. To learn about your Animal Sign, find the year of your birth among the twelve signs running around the border."

She looked up in amazement at learning such a new thing, only to see Buttercup smirking at her with meat juice running down her chin. "Gee, you're even a bore when you're reading someone else's words."

"She's not a boar!" Bubbles interrupted. "We weren't born any of those years!"

"Huh?" her sisters asked in surprise.

"The boar is an animal like a pig," the professor explained.

"Well, if I'm a bore, Buttercup, you are most definitely a pig."

"Oh yeah? Well, what's Bubbles, then?"

"A little squealer."

Buttercup nearly choked on her food, laughing along with Blossom. Bubbles replied angrily, "I am not! 'Sides, we weren't born any of those years!"

"Now, Girls, let's keep it quiet..."

Now they were all looking at the mats in front of them. "Let's find us!" Blossom cried eagerly.

"If anything, I'm a dragon!" Buttercup stated proudly. "Here, it says, 'You are eccentric and your life complex.' Well, I guess that's me. 'You have a very passionate nature and abundant health.' That's definitely me!"

Blossom grinned. "Read what else it says."

"'Marry a Monkey, or Rat late in life.' WHAT?!!"

Bubbles exploded in laughter. "Owhahahahaha!!! Buttercup's gonna marry Mojo! Or Ace!"

"I am not!"

"That's pretty funny," Blossom interrupted, "But it's still not us. Wrong year...wait. Here it is! I found it!"

"What? What are we?" her sisters asked excitedly.

"We were born in 1998, so that makes us tigers."

"Really?" Bubbles chirped. Buttercup said, "That's as good as any old dragon any day! What's it say?"

"'Tiger people are aggressive,' like you, Buttercup. 'Courageous,' like me. And 'candied and sensitive,' like Bubbles." Blossom looked at her father and tipped her head. "Candied?"

"Candid, Blossom. It means you say what's on your mind. Sounds like those descriptions fit all of you equally."

Bubbles asked, "What else does it say, Blossom? Who are we gonna get married to?"

Blossom looked down. "Look to the Dog or Horse for happiness."

"Oh, goody!"

Blossom gasped and she practically whispered the rest. "'Avoid the Monkey.'"

"Whoa," Buttercup breathed. "Maybe there's something to this hooey after all!"

"Read the monkey! Read the monkey!" Bubbles cried, squirming in her seat. Their father was starting to enjoy this. It was all bunk, but...funny.

"'You are very intelligent and able to influence people,' Well, that's true, he is. 'An enthusiastic achiever, you are easily discouraged and confused.'"

"Hah!" Buttercup slapped the edge of the table. "That is so true!"

"'Avoid Tigers.' Heh, no kidding! 'Seek a Dragon or a Rat.'" While her sisters laughed some more, Blossom checked the dates. "The closest year that makes any sense is 1992. Professor?"

They were all looking to him. "Well, let's see. I had Jojo for about two years before you three came along, and the research lab I got him from told me he was anywhere between three and five years old then. So, it could very well be..." He was beginning to think that maybe this wasn't all just superstitious nonsense.

"Let's find you, Professor!" Bubbles squealed.

"Yeah! When were you born, Professor?" Blossom eyed him quizzically. It was a mystery to them, but then, they'd never really given anyone's age much thought. You were either a kid or a grown-up.

"Um, let's finish up with our meals. Don't you Girls want any of those wonderful desserts over there?"

"They aren't going anyplace," Buttercup said. "Spill it, Professor."

"There's been enough spilling for one day, Girls." That didn't amuse them. "Um, really, Girls, it's getting late, so we should finish up and get home."

Blossom read the time on his watch. "Professor, it's not even six yet. But if you don't want to tell us, you don't have to."

"Thank you, Blossom."

"We'll just figure it out ourselves!"


"Start reading, Girls!"

"Here's one, here's one!" Bubbles read aloud, "It's the horsie. 'Popular and attractive to the opposite sex, you are often osten, osten, os,' oh, I give up!"

"Ostentatious, Bubbles, whatever that is," Blossom said. "And it doesn't sound very good, because it also says you're impatient, Professor, which you aren't."

Buttercup muttered, "Scratch that one."

"Sounds more like the mayor," Blossom said.

"Yeah. He's at least part of a horse." Buttercup and Blossom broke into a fit of giggling, which earned them a frown from their father.

Bubbles didn't laugh. "Aw, I wanted you to be a horsie, Professor."

"What for, Bubbles?" Blossom wanted to know.

"'Cause it's a match for the tiger, and I wanna marry someone just like you, Professor."

"Not if I have anything to say about it." He smiled at the little blonde. "That's very sweet, honey, but you can do much better, I'm sure."

"Aw, don't say that, Professor," Blossom said. "You're perfect. Let's check out some of these other ones."

"The doggie!" Bubbles said hopefully. "That's a match, too!"

"'Loyal and honest, you work well with others,'" Buttercup read. "Sounds good so far. 'Generous yet stubborn, and often selfish.' Nah, scratch that one, too. You're not selfish, Professor."

"Wanna bet?" he said to himself, thinking about how he sometimes failed to live up to his expectations of what a good parent should be. He spent far too much time working, but just couldn't pry himself away at times. Aloud, he joked, "Oh, so I'm stubborn, am I?"

Blossom said eagerly, "Oh, I like this one! The Ox is 'bright, patient and inspiring to others. You can be happy by yourself, yet make an outstanding parent.'" She thought about that for a second. She knew, deep down, that her father wasn't happy with being alone. "But this sounds more like Ms. Keane than you, Professor."

"Yeah!" her sisters agreed. Bubbles said, "And the Ox's perfect match is the Snake or the Rooster."

They went to look. The vain, high-tempered snake was definitely out, because, though the professor was wise and, they thought, very handsome, he was pretty laid-back and not very intense. But the Rooster...

"'A pioneer in spirit, you are devoted to work and quest after knowledge,'" Blossom read. "'You are selfish and eccentric. Rabbits are trouble.'"

"So are cats," he thought.

"Professor, you said these things kind of go for everybody, and I guess everybody is a little selfish and weird at times, but the rest of it is" Blossom looked at him with deep affection, embarrassing him slightly. Bubbles saved him.

"I won't bring any more bunnies in the house, Professor, I promise."

"More bunnies?"


Buttercup saved her sister. "So, Professor, are we right? Are you a Rooster?"

They were getting dangerously close to a secret he didn't want them to know until they were older. If they started taking a closer look at the dates and really thought about it, and started putting two and two was a story for another time, hopefully well into the future.

"That's the fun with these things, Girls. There really aren't any right or wrong answers. And now that you've had your fun, who wants some ice cream?"



The rest of their dinner went uneventfully...well, almost. The Girls kept looking over several tables away to a young, attractive couple, one that had not seemed to be enjoying each other's company very much. Professor Utonium had to keep reminding the Girls not to be rude. Blossom and Bubbles stopped, but Buttercup stared at them one more time, very intently, until a sharp word got her attention. He asked Amy for the check, added a very generous tip, and then they were on their way out of the restaurant with clean place mats as souvenirs. They passed by the table of the young couple, who were arguing quietly, and Buttercup stopped suddenly.

She cleared her throat, much to the shock of her family, and the two turned their attention to see the Powerpuff Girl staring at them. "Hey lady, you're a real Rat."

"I beg your pardon?" the young woman said icily, while her sisters and the professor gasped. The man stood and said, "Who do you think you are to call my girlfriend a rat?"

"Siddown, you big Monkey," Buttercup said with a grin, then shoved her place mat in his chest. "Here, read this!"

The guy took it, read it, and blinked in astonishment, then handed it to his girlfriend. She studied it, and her face colored slightly. "How-how did you know?"

"I read your driver's licenses with my x-ray vision. That thing don't lie," she said, pointing at the mat in the shocked woman's hands. "So have a nice life!"

The couple grinned sheepishly and mumbled, "Thanks." Buttercup smiled smugly and floated on out of the establishment, her astounded family following.

On the way to the car, Blossom immediately said, "Buttercup, I can't believe you just did that!"

"Buttercup, that was an inappropriate use of your superpowers," her father scolded.

"Why? What's so wrong with Madam Buttercup giving advice to the lovelorn?"

"Well...nothing, I long as you do it for purely unselfish reasons."

"Don't worry, Professor, I will," she lied. It was going to be a very profitable venture, indeed.

Bubbles leaned into her sister's shoulder and whispered, "Don't worry, Buttercup, I won't long as you're not a pig and I get my cut."

"That's blackmail, you little...!" Buttercup whispered back harshly. "It's my idea!"

"Who made you spill your root beer? Deal?"

Buttercup had no choice. "Deal," she said, grinning back at Bubbles as Blossom and their father walked beside them, oblivious to it all. And all because of a stupid place mat. You just never knew where your inspiration was going to come from.



Story written May 25-26, 2003

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