Kim wondered if she should have put Felix or Ron into her five week rotation. She had reluctantly decided against it. It would be too easy to spend time with them and it would prove nothing. Maybe she would find a Mr. Darcy in the bunch. She had a feeling of optimism as she prepared for the first date.
“Oh God, I am sorry about whatever I did to offend thee. Please give me a sign and I promise to never do it again.” Kim prayed as she headed home. She had neglected to bring along a Geek-English dictionary when she went with Dwayne to the Star Wars marathon. “It was like being stuck with cousin Larry,” she told Monique as she walked home. “I slipped out half way through the first movie and don't think he'll notice I'm gone.”
“Need me to pick you up?”
“No thanks, sounds like you're at a party.”
“A big one.”
“Let you go, bye.”
Kim caught herself wishing for a double chocolate mocha, or even a no-fat latte.
Earlier that evening, in the Lair, “So, you aren't doing anything tonight?” Drakken had asked.
“No, my plans kind of fell through, why?”
“Karaoke night! Have you forgotten?”
Shego slapped herself in the face. She had managed to drive karaoke with Drakken from her mind. The problem was that, having put it out of her mind, she had not prepared an excuse to get out of it. She wondered if she could escape by gnawing off her own leg.
Drakken looked around when they arrived, “That annoying Bonnie person isn't here,” he cackled. He could never figure out why the audience seemed to appreciate her singing more than his own. But with her gone he knew he would get the most applause that evening.
“Why don't you put in a request,” Drakken suggested as they waited at their table. “It will put you in your place when you don't get as much applause as I do.”
Shego flipped through the list of songs the karaoke jockey had available while ‘Blue Man Solo’ sang George Strait's “All My Exes Live in Texas.”
“Did I see you putting in a request?” Drakken asked when he returned to the table.
“Yeah, with any luck there won't be time to get to it.”
“What was it?”
“You'll hear it if they call it.”
Almost twenty minutes later the karaoke jockey had worked his way down the pile of requests until he could announce, “A new singer tonight, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to hear Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, sung by the Dragon Lady.”
“Dragon Lady,” Drakken snorted. “Sounds silly, doesn't it Shego? Shego?”
He looked around, but she was moving over to the microphone and monitor. He sat back and prepared to glory in beating her at something. But he realized the audience was hers by the time she sang the final verse.
Tears and fears and feeling proud, To say I love you right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange. They shake their heads; they say I've changed.
Well something's lost but something's gained, In living every day.
I've looked at life from both sides now, From win and lose and still somehow,
It's life's illusions I recall. I really don't know life, at all.
As loud applause accompanied a broadly smiling Shego to her table Drakken whined, “You never told me you could sing!”
“You never asked.”“And with any luck you won't be asking me along for karaoke again.”
“Oh God, my promise still holds. Give me a sign.” Craig had to be the male version of Bonnie -- too stuck on himself to talk with, and no movie lobby with a convenient exit. After she stopped listening to Craig talk about himself she thought about how much more fun she could have sitting in a booth at the coffee shop opposite Shego, and laughing with her -- but only because Shego listened and cared.
Shego had been right about karaoke. When she requested a hovercraft to ‘run errands’ that afternoon Drakken had told me to take her time.
It was none of her business what Kim was doing. Watching Kim was stalking and against the law. On the other hand, Shego was a villain and a stalking charge meant nothing compared with the other crimes with which she was charged. “I'm just curious,” the green woman told herself when she wondered why Kim's activities mattered to her.
The redhead rode home from school on the back of Ron's scooter. Shego made a mental note to herself, “Put a directional microphone in the hovercraft.”
She watched Kim give Ron a kiss on the cheek when he stopped at her home, and they spoke for minute and then Kim ran inside. Shego underlined the mental note to add a directional microphone as Ron rode off.
An hour and a half later Kim left with someone Shego didn't recognize. She trailed the pair all evening, as near as Shego could tell Kim was on some sort of date, and it wasn't going well. Shego grinned, “I told her she should have stuck with Stoppable.”
Stephen claimed he got his nickname, Octopus, from how he handled wrestling opponents. Kim suspected it was from the way he went at her with eight hands. Stephen's enthusiasm landed him in the emergency room that evening.
Kim didn't hurt anything but his pride. After she stalked off he'd dusted himself and tried to think of someone else with whom he could amuse himself. “Hey handsome. Know how to show a girl a good time?” a voice asked.
He looked at the lithe woman who had appeared behind him. She looked a little old for him, but damned attractive. “Sure, come here, I--”
In all his years of wrestling he'd never seen those moves, or felt that much pain. His face bleeding, he lay very quietly on the sidewalk and hoped the heel pressing down on his kidney didn't press down any harder. He felt the wallet taken from his pocket. “Hmmm… Stephen Burton… Let's rehearse our story Bertie. After a quiet little stroll alone in the park you got mugged. You can claim it was four guys if you don't want people to know one little woman did this to you -- or why. But if there is any word about Kim Possible in that report you're going to wish you'd spent the evening trying to castrate yourself with a rusty spoon. Am I clear Bertie?” The heel moved just a little and Stephen ‘Octopus’ Burton groaned loudly. “I'm taking that as a yes, Bertie. Here's another thought -- if you tell them you were mugged don't say the muggers were black -- people of color have enough problems with discrimination.” Stephen hadn't seen his attacker clearly enough to get the joke. “I'm keeping the wallet. I hope you don't mind. I think the line is, ‘corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative,’ when you tell your story. Oh, and your driver's license has your home address. Just in case I need to find you -- because Bertie-boy if I hear about you being near her, even talking to Kim Possible… I have a rusty spoon.”
Stephen didn't mention Kim when the police wrote up their report. He made it five guys. Hearing of his injuries and afraid she had hurt him Kim called the hospital. “No! Wasn't you! LEAVE ME ALONE!” he shouted as he slammed down the receiver. Several girls said it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
And if Kim had planned to continue her quest to fill her date calendar she would have noticed that invitations to anything suddenly dropped off after Stephen returned to school.
On the following Tuesday Kim celebrated her 18th birthday. She had a vague sense of what Shego felt. Kim had lots of friends and family. But for her birthday she would have liked one someone special to be there with and for her. She felt sorry for Shego. “If I'm this lonely with all my friends and family she must be feeling miserable to call me. That's the only reason I'm thinking about her.”
Wade's call effectively canceled Friday's date. On the other hand, she and Felix made the national news on a live feed.
One wheel had not descended on the airliner. Standard procedure called for the Middleton airport to foam down a runway and let the plane dump its fuel and skid in on its belly. Most passengers lived in such a scenario -- with almost none receiving serious injury. But such a landing was dangerous, and the passengers on the plane circling Middleton that late afternoon included a two year old scheduled for heart surgery at the Middleton hospital.
Kim requested the jump club plane with the widest possible door.
“You sure your wheelchair can go that high?”
“I told you, it can't go that high, but I can land from that altitude -- once I get low enough I'll have real control --- its mostly going to be a long roller coaster drop for me. Are you sure that suit will work?”
That was the big problem. Wade's voice came in over the Kimmunicator, “The combination of suction cups and electromagnets should keep you safe. At least that was what it was designed for. But it was designed for work on buildings, ships and subs. It wasn't designed for the speed of a plane.”
“Thanks for the reassurance.”
“Anytime… Kim? Good luck. And keep your mouth shut.” The last comment referred to the control for the electromagnets. Kim had to work it with her tongue to keep both hands free-- which also meant she could not ask questions if she ran into trouble.
“Miss Possible, you and Mr. Renton need to leave in FIVE… FOUR… THREE… TWO… ONE… NOW”
Kim had enough experience that the rush of thin air didn't bother her. She worried about Felix, but this was his idea. His wheelchair was the only thing small and maneuverable enough to get her close to the plane. It wasn't fast enough to match its speed, so she was going to get one chance to jump onto the plane as they essentially fell past. They had left their plane above and in front of the circling airliner. It was coming up fast beneath them. Best scenario was Kim jumping down on a wing. Bad scenario: Felix and Kim were too low and the plane passed overhead. Worst scenario: Kim sucked into a jet engine. Kim tried to keep the worst scenario out of her mind. Felix meanwhile had changed plans just a little without telling her. The wing didn't offer much of a target for Kim, the body of the plane offered more opportunity -- even though the tail then became a threat for him.
She hit the plane, and stuck. She felt sick as she thought she heard the sound of metal scraping metal and prayed it was her head and not Felix getting killed. But she had to put all that out of her mind and concentrate on moving over the wing like a gremlin and then crawling beneath to work on the stuck landing gear. The plane's body had so much aluminum she wasn't sure the electromagnets did much good, but she was grateful for any help they gave her as she inched along.
In the Lair Shego changed into a fresh catsuit for another night of stalking Kim. She stopped at Drakken's quarters on her way out to say goodbye and found him watching the news.
“Catch you later, Doc.”
“Fine, fine. Have fun. It looks like we might not have to worry about Kim Possible anymore.”
“The news. She'd trying to get a wheel unstuck on an airplane.”
Shego joined Drakken in front of the television. Even with the telephoto lens the figure crawling out on the wing looked tiny. Shego wondered if she should get in a hovercraft and try to offer help.
The problem, Kim discovered, appeared to be a strip of rubber, probably a piece from some other plane's tire, caught in the mechanism. Kim pulled a knife and went to work.“Darn, steel belted…” she thought. According to her watch and the briefing she'd received the plane had about ten minutes of fuel left. They probably had a runway foamed below, but Kim had to keep sawing away. She felt the plane descending, it had to land, and if she didn't leave soon she would have to ride it out because there would not be enough altitude for her ‘chute to open. With that thought in her mind the weakened rubber snapped, allowing the wheel to fall out into place and knocking Kim off the plane.
Thousands of viewers across America, and two in the Lair, caught their breath. Some were literally still holding their breath when a news camera showed her chute opening.
In the Lair Drakken threw his arms around Shego and gave her a hug, “She made it!” he shouted.
Without thinking she returned the hug. Shego recovered first, “Uh, Doc, why are you cheering because Kim Possible is safe?”
He dropped his arms, embarrassed, “Well, I, uh, just got caught up with the emotion of the time,” he stammered. “Hey, wait a minute, Shego, it looks like you were crying.”
It was her turn to stammer, “Um, I don't want her hurt in an accident. I don't want her to have any excuse. If anyone is going to take Kim down it's going to be me.”
“And we could both forget this little incident ever happened.”
“The fact we were both cheering for--”
She gave him a look of disgust, “I was telling you I'd already forgotten it.”
“Look, I'm going out to run an errand or two. I'll be back soon. How about we go out for karaoke? I promise not to sing.”
He nodded and Shego smiled as she left the Lair. It was nice to have a boss so easy to manipulate.
At the airport news crews were going crazy. Did you film the plane landing and interview the passengers or go for the girl who saved them?
Another few hundred feet would have helped. At the lower altitude Kim had the breath knocked out of her; she wasn't even sure if her parachute had deployed fully. She hit hard and sat up, spitting pieces of the broken control unit out of her mouth. Her left leg didn't cooperate when she tried to stand. She probably had the majority of the film crews, but she really didn't care. “Felix, where's Felix, is he okay?”“He should have been here when I landed.”
Almost every ambulance in the tri-city area had been at the airport. The EMT told Kim that Felix was probably already in the hospital by the time she was on her way. The doctor ordered Felix to remain at least overnight for observation. It would take his mom weeks to get his wheelchair working or build a new one. Reporters were calling it a miracle he was able to survive with his right stabilizer smashed, but Kim gave the credit to Felix's skill and his mom's technical ability in building the chair. She also thought he should have abandoned the chair and used his own parachute, but was too grateful he was alive to scold him. X-rays showed no problems for Kim, and since her leg wasn't sprained too badly, she was allowed home after getting taped up. The press got shots of Kim and Felix, and the two holding the two year old, for the news before she left the hospital.
The orders from Kim's doctors were, not surprisingly, the same as those from her mother, “Go to bed now, you're exhausted.”
It was only a little past 10:00, but Kim had no intention of arguing. When she got into her room she noticed a tiny, gold foil Godiva box on her pillow. Underneath the box was a note:
Happy 18th, Princess.
Inside the box were four dark chocolate hearts. Kim nibbled on one, the outside was almost black, bittersweet chocolate, the inside was a rich butter cream mint -- a pale green that almost perfectly matched Shego's skin tone. Dark and bittersweet, with a sweet pale green center. Kim had no doubt who had left it there. It should have frightened her that Shego could get in and out of her room so easily, but somehow it didn't. Kim couldn't understand it, but the little box of candy excited her. It came in second only to the restored VW bug her parents had given her the morning of her birthday and Kim had christened Herbie. The tweebs were under strict orders not to touch it. She nibbled a little more of the one heart she would allow herself that evening.“Oh God, am I crushing on Shego?”
She threw the box and the half-eaten chocolate in a drawer. “Shego just needs a friend. That's all I am to her. That's all she is to me.” After repeating her mantra several times Kim felt better. Shego was just a lonely person who wanted someone to talk with. Kim went back to the drawer, she might as well finish the chocolate she had started.
Kim sighed as the last hint of dark chocolate and mint disappeared from her tongue. Maybe, just maybe, there was a chance she liked girls. More likely she just hadn't met the right guy yet. Why did everyone put pressure on her to find the right guy? Even if she like girls, Shego held no interest for her, the woman was a villain -- and liked guys. “All I am to her is a friend,” Kim reminded herself. “All she is to me is a person who listens and doesn't put any pressure to change on me.”
The relationship clear in her mind Kim got ready for bed. She smiled as she read the short note from Shego again. As she drifted off to sleep she thought about how curious it was that Shego being in her room didn't seem scary. Maybe she should have Wade analyze the chocolates to see if they were drugged…
Roger was a nice guy, attentive, handsome, polite -- and utterly dull.“What is wrong with me? Is my life so exciting that boys my age can only bore me? Do I need to see older men?” Disgusted more with herself than Roger she thanked him for asking her out, said good-bye early and left. “I wish I'd driven myself over, I'm walking too much these days.” Home was further away than she would have liked. She thought of using her cell phone to call for a ride, but didn't want to answer questions about why she was coming home early.
She strolled through a quiet, residential neighborhood; so quiet in fact she whirled and took a defensive stance. “Okay, I know you're there.”
The hovercraft decloaked. “Hey, Pumpkin, need a ride home?”
Kim hadn't expected Shego. She had not been sure what produced the noise which followed her, but felt a surge of happiness on seeing the green woman. The redhead jumped in the hovercraft, “No, I need an ear. To C2K, James, I'm buying.”
“Does that mean I have to drink that syrupy mocha crap you like?” Shego asked as she increased elevation and headed toward the coffee shop.
“You get no mercy, you weren't nice to me when you had the chance.”
A thought struck Kim as Shego found a spot for the hovercraft, “Hey, were you following me?”
“I think that's pretty obvious. After last week's stunt I thought you might need watching over.”
“Like you would come to my rescue?” Kim scoffed.
“Well, you're dragging in the kid with the wheelchair for backup. You obviously needed some help.”
They were still engaged in their half serious argument when they entered C2K and several voices called in greeting, “Kim! Sheila!” Half the Legals waved to them.
It looked like Tony was kicking a couple people out of their booth. He ushered the pair back and pointed proudly to a small brass plate which proclaimed, “Kim Possible sat here.” “We all watched you on the news last week. Anything you two want is on the house tonight.”
“No-fat latte grande!” Shego said quickly, “the little heroine wants her mocha with too much chocolate.”
“And two pistachio biscotti. I'm starting to like them.”
The argument over, the two settled into their booth. Shego wanted very badly to ask Kim what had been going on during the last few weeks, but the question would have revealed she had been following the younger woman. The curiosity burned in her stomach so strongly it could be interpreted as jealousy, but the pale woman refused to consider that as a possibility. It was curiosity, pure and simple.
Kim wanted very badly to tell Shego about the disasters during the last few weeks, but to do so would have required she explain her mother's suspicions, which she refused to do. Her mother was wrong. She and Shego were just friends, nothing more. Although Kim was still terribly curious why Shego had been following her…
Shego's focus sometimes drifted from Kim's words as she went on about her new car, last week's rescue, and next week's prom, but it never drifted from Kim herself. “God, she is so beautiful, and so good. Why is she here with me? She could be with anyone she wanted.”
They closed the coffee shop down once again, and Kim accepted the ride home Shego offered in the hovercraft.
Once home Kim opened the door quietly, but not quietly enough, the lights snapped on. “How was the date Kimberly Ann?”
“Uh, fine, Mom,”“I'm in trouble. I'm only Kimberly Ann when she's mad.”
“Anything you want to say about getting home at 1:30 in the morning?”
“No Mom, just that I was having a really good time and need to go to bed now.”
“Anything you want to say about the call from Roger at 9:30 asking if you made it home all right?”
“No Mom, I REALLY don't want to say anything about that.”
“If I check your breath am I going to smell coffee?”
“Kimberly Ann! You accepted another invitation from Shego?”
“No Mom, I asked her.”
“You…You asked her… Go to bed Kimmie. We're both too tired to think straight right now.”
“Oh, Mom, I really was going to tell you.”
“Really Mom, she accepted your dinner invitation. Three weeks from tonight okay?”