Middleton High School Gym – Monday Afternoon
Techno music blared through the school gymnasium as the Middleton varsity cheerleading squad went seamlessly through their complicated dance routine. Every girl knew her part and executed it to perfection, leading to the moment where Kim and Ron provided the finale for the routine by Kim making a graceful tumble and leap on to the top of the cheerleader pyramid with an assist from the slobber-spewing Middleton Mad Dog. Being as this was practice, there was only one person there to congratulate them on their fine effort, but Monique, there to study with Kim afterwards, made up for the lack of people with her boundless enthusiasm. “Awesome job, people. I would root for Middleton,” she assured everyone when the human pyramid had disassembled itself and everyone was walking to the bleachers. Everyone, Bonnie excepted, smiled at the honest praise.
“I think we need a break,” Kim decided, looking over a crowd of tired faces. “How about we take five minutes and then practice our cheers?” There were grateful murmurs of agreement before everyone scattered to get water and collapse for a rest. Kim dug into her bag to grab her water bottle and nearly dropped it when her Kimmunicator suddenly went off.
Kim smiled, happy that Shego was calling. “What’s up, Shego?” she asked, knowing that it was Shego because of the distinctive double four-tone chime her Kimmunicator gave when Shego’s watch was calling.
Shego’s face smirked back at her from the screen. “When are you going to be done there, Princess?” she asked. “I found something out about the planes and I wanted to go over it with you.”
“Practice lasts for another half hour and I am supposed to study with Monique after that,” Kim answered. “I don’t think I will be free for a while.”
“That’s cool,” Shego replied. “If you have got some time later tonight, swing by the Mansion. If not, I will catch you tomorrow. The info isn’t going anywhere.”
“You sure?” Kim asked quizzically.
“Sure. Have fun with the rest of practice, Pink,” Shego said, a teasing grin on her face.
“Bye, Junior,” Kim responded with a grin of her own and hung up. Still smiling, she put the Kimmunicator back in the bag and grabbed her water bottle, opening it up and taking a big swig. She turned, planning to sit down for a couple of seconds. She didn’t quite make it, though, as Bonnie’s taunting face regarded her from nearby. “What do you want, Bonnie?” Kim asked, knowing it had to be something with the look Bonnie was giving her.
“Nothing, really. I guess that conversation seemed rather cozy,” Bonnie replied looking pointedly at Kim, “and I was just wondering if your boyfriend over there knew you were crushing on someone else.”
Kim blushed at the implication but decided to ignore her warming skin. “Quit trying to make trouble, Bonnie,” she said, irritated.
Bonnie chuckled, happy that she had made Kim uncomfortable. “So, who is it?” she prompted. “Anyone we know? Or is it a new guy?”
“It was a friend of mine, a female friend of mine who was asking if I could stop by later,” Kim said flatly. “So she is not exactly crush material.”
“Why? Because she is an ex-con?” Bonnie needled. She laughed at Kim’s astonished face. “Yes, I know who you were talking to. My cousin is a lieutenant for the Middleton police force, and she told me all about your little adventure on Saturday,” she explained with glee.
The lieutenant had been a Rockwaller with a different last name, Kim mused. That was why the attitude had been so very familiar. “Who I hang out with is none of your business, Bonnie,” Kim said evenly, having regained her composure.
“No, it isn’t,” Bonnie agreed. “But this is high school and everything is everyone’s business. And everyone will be so interested to hear how you are about to dump Stoppable for a freaky-looking ex-con.” Kim remained silent, telling herself to calm down because Bonnie was just being Bonnie. “Oh, and by the way, Princess, if you and the green-glowing freak are friends now, and only just friends, why do you still have a picture of her in your locker?” Bonnie asked sweetly as she sauntered away.
“Kim, honey, if you kill her, you shouldn’t do it with so many witnesses,” Monique said softly from behind her.
Kim calmed down and smiled. “All right, girls, back to work,” she called out, and the squad gathered obediently around her. They spent the next half hour going through their cheers, and when they were satisfied with their progress, practice was over. Kim grabbed her stuff and Monique and got out of the gym as soon as possible, really not wanting to run into Bonnie again.
“So what was that all about back there, Kim?” Monique asked as soon as they had gotten out of sight of the gym. “You looked ready to kick Bonnie’s butt, even more so than usual.”
“It was nothing, really,” Kim sighed. “She heard some stories and overheard a conversation that I was having and it led to her making a few assumptions.”
“About what?” Monique inquired.
“That I am crushing on someone else and I am about to leave Ron for this other person,” Kim replied.
“And who are you supposed to be crushing on?” Monique said incredulously. “It has been all Ron all the time since you guys became a couple and there haven’t even been any rumors about anyone else.”
“Shego,” Kim answered succinctly.
Monique raised an eyebrow. “The green glowing chick? The one that kept trying to kill you? Kim, even if she wasn’t a girl, and even if y’all are supposed to be friends nowadays, that would jstill be a little weird. What gave her that idea?”
“She got some third hand information from a relative of hers who tried to arrest Shego on Saturday,” Kim said. “And she overheard my conversation with Shego and Shego likes to call me ‘Princess’.”
“Princess?” Monique questioned, thinking she had heard wrong.
“Or Pumpkin. She has also started calling me ‘Pink’ ever since our adventure together, but I am really trying to break her of that one,” Kim explained.
“I see,” Monique said noncommittally. “And what about this whole arrest on Saturday thing?”
“Apparently Bonnie’s cousin is a lieutenant for the Middleton police force, and she is the same lieutenant that tried to use bogus evidence to arrest Shego after she had given me a flying lesson. Ron wasn’t with us, but other than that, I have no idea what the lieutenant saw that made her tell Bonnie there was something going on between the two of us,” Kim admitted. She was about to say more, but her Kimmunicator interrupted her. “Hold on a sec, Monique,” she said, switching it on.
“Hey Pumpkin,” Shego greeted her.
“Hey Shego,” Kim replied. “Monique and I haven’t even started our studying, so it will be a while before I can come over.”
“That is why I was calling, Princess,” Shego interrupted her. “I got an unexpected phone call and I am going to be out of town for couple of days. I won’t be there tonight, so you don’t have to worry about stopping by.”
“Oh, okay,” Kim said. She smiled, unable to resist the urge to be nosy. “So, where are you going? Something I should be worried about or jealous of?” she asked.
“Quit fishing for information, Pumpkin,” Shego replied shortly, but with a smile. “I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
“Fine, be like that,” Kim retorted, also with a smile. “Talk to you later, Shego.”
“Later, Pink,” Shego answered and the connection went dead.
Kim put her Kimmunicator away, and looked up, only to find Monique looking at her with a strange little half smile on her face. “What?” Kim demanded.
“As much as I hate to admit it, Kim, Bonnie is right; you are crushing on someone else and it’s not Ron,” Monique stated.
“You’re joking, right?” Kim asked hopefully, knowing she might not be.
“No, and you know I am not,” Monique replied. Kim sighed. She wanted to be astonished and outraged at Monique’s declaration, but she wasn’t, and she knew it, so to act like she was would be an outright lie. “And I notice that you aren’t exactly denying it, now are you?” Monique added, also noticing Kim’s sudden silence on the issue.
“I can’t deny that there is something between Shego and me,” Kim admitted, blushing. “But I can’t exactly confirm it’s a crush.”
“I can,” Monique said firmly. “Both times you got a call from her today, your face lit up like a Christmas tree, and the instant you started talking with her or even about her, you nervously started playing with that thing around your neck, and, depending on what was said, you started blushing. With the giddiness, the nervousness and the blushing, I swear it is Josh Mankey all over again.”
“You overheard one phone call, Monique,” Kim protested. “How can you be so sure?”
“It wasn’t just the phone call, Kim,” Monique told her. “You have been acting, I don’t know, off, ever since you got back from that one mission with Shego. I couldn’t figure it out, but after you told me about Bonnie’s suspicions, it all started making sense. The phone call was just confirmation.”
“I don’t want to have a crush on her, Monique,” Kim said sadly just as they reached the Possible front door. Monique of course wanted to ask why, but decided to refrain until they had reached Kim’s bedroom in case Kim’s mom, dad or brothers happened to be there. After they had reached Kim’s room, Monique opened her mouth to say something, but got distracted by a black and white photograph sitting on Kim’s nightstand. Monique’s eyebrows lifted as she got a better look and she looked at Kim questioningly. Kim smiled. “It’s not us, Monique,” she said, answering the unspoken question. “That is Shego’s great-great Aunt Sheila and my great-great Aunt Mim.”
“Who were obviously a couple,” Monique commented. “Is that why this whole crush thing is freaking you out?”
“Partly,” Kim answered.
“Is it the gay thing?” Monique asked. “Because you have to know that I don’t care.”
“I know you don’t care,” Kim replied. “And Mom and Dad would be surprised, but I know that they would still love me. It is not the gay thing.” Kim sighed. “It is the Ron thing,” she said. “I do love him, I know that, but ever since Shego came into the picture, I really don’t know how I love him.”
“Oo. That is tough,” Monique said in sympathy. “Well, I am always here to talk to, if you need me.”
“Thanks. I really do appreciate it,” Kim said warmly. “But, I don’t want to talk about it anymore, so can we just study and I will figure out my love life at a later date?”
“Sounds good from here,” Monique agreed, and they studiously avoided the topic of crushes and boyfriends for the rest of the evening.
Kim’s Bedroom - later that evening
Kim sighed and flipped over on to her back. Sleep just wasn’t happening, because her mind kept taking her back to the conversations with Bonnie and Monique. Stupid Bonnie, she thought. Before she had stuck her nose in, Kim had been able to fool herself that Shego was just a friend. It was an odd friendship, that she would readily admit to, but it was only friendship; there was no undercurrent that had been present between them as enemies that had intensified now that they were friends and she was just being weird thinking that there was. Now, though, no such self-delusion was possible. Even Monique had been certain that Kim had a crush on Shego.
But was it a crush? Kim wondered. Or was it just curiosity? True, the underlying attraction had been there long before they had ever met Mim or Sheila. But did having them as examples make Kim more prone to think of Shego that way? Kim sighed again. She didn’t know the answers. Having a sudden flash of insight, though, she realized that there was one person who might. Kim got dressed and took off for the Mansion, hoping that Mim might actually materialize for her. If not, Mim’s journals would still be there and she might get some hints from those.
There was no one home; Shego was indeed gone for the evening, and Kim was grateful for it. She went upstairs to the library, knowing that was where Shego kept them. Kim had only managed to collect three of Mim’s journals, but from what she had read before, those should be the ones she needed. Kim blushed, knowing she would be embarrassed by what was in them, but needing to know anyway. She had already read the “1901-1902” one of them in its entirety and there was nothing in it that could help her. Next in line was “1903-1904” and Kim settled down in the comfy wingback chair near the empty fireplace to read it.
As she read, she learned of the year in Africa that Mim and Sheila had spent together and how they had crisscrossed the continent documenting the people’s lives and the state of the region. It was obvious from the tone of the entries that Mim was falling more and more in love with Sheila as they traveled, but she never said so, and Kim had to wonder if she actually realized how she felt about the other woman. “She would have had to eventually,” Kim mused out loud.
“Indeed I did,” came a voice from behind her, “but I did not want to. I tried everything in my power not to.”
Kim jumped out of the chair and turned around immediately. “Aunt Mim?” she questioned, before seeing a pale form dressed in khakis and a white shirt off to her left. Kim smiled and her ghostly visitor smiled back.
“In the flesh, so to speak,” Mim joked before gliding over to Kim. Kim rolled her eyes. “You didn’t think that Junior got it only from Sheila, did you?” Mim teased.
Kim grinned wryly. “Well, I was hoping that bad puns were limited to the Goshen side of the family,” she said
“Alas, but no, my dear,” Mim answered with a grin of her own. She studied Kim for a moment. “So what brings you here tonight, Kimmie-Ann?” she asked, an interesting look on her face. “It is late for you to be here and the way you were reading my journal makes me think that you were searching for something.”
“I was,” Kim admitted. She stared at the floor for a few moments, then looked back up at Mim. “I wanted to know when and how you fell in love with Sheila and why you picked her over Jonathan,” she said softly.
“And why would you want to know that, Kimmie-Ann?” Mim asked gently. “Is there something you are not telling me?”
Kim fidgeted. “Well, some people have noticed how I behave around Shego and they think that I have a crush on her,” she explained.
“So you are here to ascertain if your feelings are real or if it is mere curiosity,” Mim guessed. Kim nodded. “I am not sure how I will be of assistance, but what to do wish to know?” Mim replied, not liking the meddling but wanting to help Kim.
“When did you know that you had, well, feelings for Aunt Sheila?” Kim asked.
“‘Feelings’ is quite vague, dear, but I assume you mean romantic feelings,” Mim scolded mildly. “To be completely truthful, I knew when I sent off the letter asking her to join in my adventures. But, I didn’t admit I knew until exactly one year later when I was a guest at her parents’ annual New Year’s Eve costume ball.”
“What made you admit it?” Kim asked, interested.
“The fact that I was ready to kill every single high born male in Chicago who dared to dance with Sheila that night,” Mim answered truthfully. She saw Kim’s face and laughed. “Jealousy is very powerful emotion, Kimmie-Ann, and it managed to break through the illusion that all I felt for Sheila was platonic. If I had no romantic interest in her, there should be no reason for me to be plotting the deaths of every male who touched her.”
Kim had to agree. “How did you handle it when you realized?” she wondered.
“First, I left the room,” Mim stated. “If I was to have an emotional break down, I was not going to do it in front of Chicago high society. I found a nice quiet parlor not far from the ballroom, and retired there to brood. As I sat there and pondered my life, I realized I had been fooling myself for a great many months about how I felt about Sheila and by doing so, I had complicated several more lives besides my own. Obviously, first and foremost, there was Jon. We had been engaged for all of eleven days, and here I was realizing I had romantic inclinations towards someone else.”
“You were engaged to Jon?” Kim asked, mildly shocked.
“I was,” Mim confirmed. “He had asked me at my parents’ Christmas party, and I said yes. At the time, there had been no reason to say no, but now, sitting in that parlor, I realized there had been a significant reason to refuse him. A significant reason that had just slipped in through a side door and was looking at me with beautiful green eyes.”
“What did you do?” Kim said.
“For a few moments, nothing, but apparently I appeared to be upset because Sheila asked me what was wrong. I tried to lie and claim that nothing was amiss, but Sheila knew me too well to believe me. She persisted in her questioning, and finally I admitted to one thing out of the myriad things that were bothering me: I was jealous of the many dance partners that had monopolized her attentions that evening. She grinned saucily, and, bowing, she asked me to dance. I should have run, but instead we danced, and because of it, the last wisps of doubt about my feelings for her died with the last fading stanza of that waltz.” Here Mim paused, and a light blush covered her cheeks. “In fact, if we hadn’t been swathed in three layers of impossible-to-remove clothing and three wings away from any sort of privacy, there is little doubt about how that night would have ended,” she admitted. Kim looked at her briefly before color flooded to her own cheeks. Mim laughed. “You blush more than I do, dear, and that is not an easy feat.”
Kim grinned self-consciously and rubbed her cheeks as a thought popped into her head. “If you knew how you felt about Sheila in December, why were you in that cabin by yourself in October of the following year?” she asked, remembering the entry she had read a while back.
“Because I was running away,” Mim replied. “I knew who I wanted and I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to, so I ran.”
“Not to be naïve, Nana Mim, but why was it such a big deal?” Kim asked.
“You have to understand, Kimmie-Ann; it was a different time,” Mim pointed out. “Though nearly impossible to prove in court, had anyone been able to prove that Sheila and I were lovers, we could have been sent to prison for debauchery. But even besides that, by choosing Sheila, I would also be deeply hurting a man I cared for very much and relinquishing the last of what I considered to be normal in my life. I did not want to do either.”
Kim’s brow scrunched as she thought about that. Mim in her time would have been far from normal, Kim realized. Mim had a career; she traveled the world; she did what she wanted to do without really giving a crap about what society thought she should. But, even with such an attitude, being the girl who could do anything in a world that thought you could (or should do) almost nothing must have been tough. Kim could see how you might not want to give up the one thing that allowed you to fit it, even if it meant you sacrificed your own happiness. “Then why did you do it, Aunt Mim? Why did you choose Sheila?” Kim asked.
“Because I loved her more than I wanted to be normal,” Mim replied truthfully. “And after a few weeks, I was far too busy being happy to worry about being normal.”
Kim smiled. “Do you think I could have that with Shego?” she asked.
“I have no idea, my dear,” Mim replied truthfully. “In spite of our similarities, you and Junior are different than Sheila and myself. For one thing, Junior is much more of a true criminal than Sheila ever dreamt of being. You also live in a time where you will not be arrested because of your preferences. You can, however, be shunned for them, and, unlike my time, it would be difficult to disguise a love affair, for people nowadays want to create scandal wherever they may find it.”
“I am okay with that,” Kim stated. Mim looked at her in mild disbelief. “No, truthfully, I am okay with it,” Kim insisted. She grinned and Mim was amused to see the mischief behind it. “After all, I am descended from generations of life-long rebels and it might be nice to finally fit in,” Kim declared.
“I can understand that, but what about Ronald? Do you not care for him?” Mim reminded her.
The smile faded from Kim’s face and she dropped back down into the wingback chair. “I don’t know, Aunt Mim,” she confessed. “I mean, I do love him and we work well together, both as friends and as a couple. But I guess I am scared that I am only his girlfriend because he is my best friend and he wants me to be his girlfriend, not because I want to be his girlfriend.”
“I see,” Mim said. “I suppose that I can only tell I did love Jon and I loved him as more than a friend. If it had not been for Sheila, I would have happily married him and been happily married to him for the rest of my life.”
“But,” Kim prompted.
“But Sheila did come along,” Mim continued. “It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, and in the end, I had to choose the heart I could not bear to break.”
“Meaning you loved her more,” Kim said.
“I suppose, but the pain of hurting Jon lasted for quite a while,” Mim replied.
Kim slumped further down into the chair. “I don’t really know what to do about this,” she said wistfully.
Mim smiled gently. “Remember this, my dearest Kimmie-Ann: you are a teenager,” she reminded her. “Although everything seems of immeasurable import now, you actually have many years of your life left to live. I was married at 22, but those were the times; neither Ron nor Junior has to be your lifelong choice.”
Kim mulled that over. “No, they don’t,” she realized. She thought a little to herself and then turned once more to her ghostly shadow. “I do have one more question for you though,” she said
“You can ask me anything, you know that,” Mim reiterated.
“Was there ever anyone you met after Sheila that you wished you were able to be with? Did you ever regret choosing her?” Kim asked.
Mim smiled. “That inquiry is comprised of two questions, but, no, to both,” she admitted softly. “Sheila was one of a kind and no one could ever compare. Of course there were times when I was angry with her, and during those times I did wonder what my life would have been like with Jon. But then, even as I seethed, I would realize that I would rather be fighting with her than be at peace with Jon. And sooner or later, either she would come and adorably apologize or I would begin to miss her and I would apologize, and I would laugh at my own foolishness for entertaining such thoughts.”
“Meaning you fell head over heels for Sheila in spite of everything and you stayed that way for the rest of your life,” Kim interpreted.
“Precisely, but…” Mim began.
“…Shego is not Sheila, I know, Aunt Mim,” Kim interrupted affectionately. “I get it.” Kim stretched and looked around, deciding it was about time for her to go home. “Thanks for tonight,” she said. “You are the one person I knew would understand.”
“You are certainly welcome, but I think it has actually become morning,” Mim pointed out. Kim glanced at the wall clock, and indeed, it read 2 AM. Kim yawned, suddenly feeling very tired. “The couch is quite comfortable, Kimmie-Ann, and you are welcome to stay.”
Kim thought about it. Home was just right around the corner, but then again, the couch was on the other side of the room. “Maybe I will,” she decided sleepily, crossing the room and collapsing on it. As she was pulling up the covers, one more thought occurred to her. “Aunt Mim?” she called out.
“Still here,” Mim replied.
“What if Shego doesn’t have those feelings for me?” Kim asked when Mim had glided over.
Mim chuckled. “Do you know where the chain that holds the dampener comes from?”
“No,” Kim answered, puzzled at the change in subject.
“Well, then, let me tell you a story. It used to be mine, and it was one of the first courting presents that Sheila ever gave me,” Mim told her. “We gave it to Junior, along with the amulet, when she just a child and we made her promise that she would always care for it and never lose it. She promised, and even at that age that stubborn will was so entrenched that we knew if she made us that promise, she would keep it. Anyway, about a week later, she came shuffling into the living room with the oddest look on her face. ‘Can I ask you about this?’ she said, pulling the chain and amulet out from under her shirt. We agreed, and her first question came to me. ‘This was yours, right?’ I said that indeed it was. Her next question was for Sheila. ‘And you gave it to Nana Mim, right?’ she questioned further. Sheila nodded. ‘Why?’ came the third question. Sheila paused, obviously thinking about what to say, but she had never lied to Junior and she was not about to start. ‘I loved your Nana Mim and I wanted her to marry me.’ Junior pondered that for a couple of seconds and then looked at me. ‘Then why did you give it to me?’ she asked. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘Because I have already married your Nana Sheila, she said I could give to whomever I wanted just as long as I loved them very, very much. So I gave it to you.’ Junior broke out into the widest smile and jumped into my arms. ‘I love you too, Nana Mim,’ she said, settling into my lap. She sat still for a few seconds, but then started fidgeting, a sure sign that she still had something else on her mind. ‘Do you have something else to ask, Junior?’ I prompted. ‘Yes,’ she admitted. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘If I ever find someone I love as much as Nana Sheila loves you and you love me, can I give it to her?’ Sheila and I looked at one another and smiled and then I gathered her up into my arms. ‘Of course you may,’ I said. ‘But you have to love that person very, very much.’ ‘Thanks, Nana, I promise,’ she said happily and whenever we saw her after that she always had the amulet on.” Mim paused and smiled at Kim. “Junior could have left the amulet on that obelisk, Kimmie-Ann, but she found a way to take it away from the temple. She then gave it to you.” Kim looked at her quizzically, wondering if Aunt Mim had truly said what Kim thought she had. “Good night, dear,” Mim said with a smirk and disappeared.
Kim stared at where Mim had been, trying to process it all. Eventually, though, sleep overtook her and she nodded off. When she was asleep, a quiet, previously invisible spirit materialized and looked at her fondly. She started to leave but was interrupted by an unexpected addition.
“Am I allowed to meddle now that you have?” Sheila asked Mim as she appeared in the room.
“I did not meddle,” Mim insisted. “And I thought we agreed you should stay behind.”
Sheila ignored her pointed remark. “You tell Mim-jay the story of the chain and yet you are not meddling?” Sheila asked incredulously.
“I was informing, not meddling,” Mim huffed.
“Surely you jest,” Sheila scoffed.
“All right,” Mim said grumpily. “Perhaps I meddled a bit. It still does not mean they will fall for each other.”
“Open your eyes, my love,” Sheila informed her with a smile. “They already have.”
Mim sighed. “And I do not know if we are to be congratulated or blamed,” she mumbled.
“We will figure it out later,” Sheila assured her. She sneaked a peek at Kim. “She is finally asleep; we should leave her in peace.”
“Now you are jesting,” Mim said as they faded away. “If she is in love with Junior, peace will be a long-forgotten memory. She is a Goshen after all.” Sheila said nothing, but laughed as the two of them slipped back into their own plane.