Monique's jaw dropped when Kim told her about inviting Shego over for dinner
“I told you, this is getting serious between you two.”
“No, it's not! She just needs a friend.”
“Uh-huh. And what have you told Ron?”
“Nothing yet. I'm waiting for the right time.”
“Like when you can tell him, ‘Ron, Shego and I are moving in together.’?”
“Come on Kim, sometimes the two people in a relationship are the last to know. Maybe your Mom and I are picking up vibes you want to deny to yourself. I'll tell you, I hope I'm wrong -- anything with Shego has to be sick and twisted. But you know what really hurts… Wasn't I cute enough for you? What, think you're too good for me?”
“MONIQUE!” Kim picked up a throw pillow from the couch and started to swat her friend, who was laughing hysterically.
“Any idea why we have the latest prom in the entire world? Some schools held theirs in March. A week before graduation? This is insane.”
“I think you get the band at a discount when they don't have other gigs.”
“My theory is they wait until they know who is really going to graduate. They can say it's their Senior Prom. Flunk city and its Junior Prom II.”
“No, they want everyone there for graduation. Prom in March, home pregnancy tests show positive before graduation and some guys have disappeared before they hand out the diplomas.”
“Really Monique, that is why we wear the robes when we graduate -- in case anyone is starting to show.” Monique noticed Tara blushing a bright red.
Kim looked around her large table. Zita was stunning next to Ron, who had cleaned up surprisingly well. Jamal, who graduated last year and was now a freshman at Middleton U, went out with Monique occasionally -- she had asked him to be her date so she didn't have to solo. Felix, with Kim, was in an old non-mechanized wheelchair -- his mom hoped to have the new one ready by next week. Tara and Josh sat across the table. Kim remembered crushing on Josh, and feeling hurt when he started going out with Tara. Today Kim wondered why it had ever bothered her. The two looked good together.
Kim had Felix on the dance floor for four numbers. While he obviously had no foot work they were both having fun, and that was what was important. She remembered about how awkward she felt when she met Felix, and said a little thanks in her mind to Ron for helping her.
Ron watched the two closely. He wondered if it could be serious between them. He wanted Kim to be seeing someone and he couldn't think of a nicer guy than Felix. Sadly it seemed like Kim saw Felix in the same way she saw him, a close friend with nothing deeper. Ron had quizzed Felix when he told him that he would go to the prom with Kim. Felix denied any romantic feelings towards Kim, but Ron suspected Felix -- while outgoing and friendly in most social situations -- felt isolated by his handicap.
Monique loaned Jamal to Kim for one slow dance. “So, going to cheerlead for Middleton U next year? I made the basketball team -- be like old times.”
At one point during the evening Monique whispered to Kim, “You remember I couldn't find a good present for your eighteenth? You get your present next week -- and you had better thank me for the effort.”
Kim made the mistake of going on the dance floor once with Ron. Steel toed dance shoes would have served her better than the open-toed sandals she was wearing. She suspected this was why Zita and Ron sat at the table for most of the time with Felix and her instead of dancing more.
Herbie was too small for Felix's wheelchair, so Kim had the distinction of being the only girl at the prom chauffeured home by her date's mom -- in a handicapped accessible van.
Only four tickets were allocated to each family of a graduating Middleton senior.
Middleton High had never seen so much media coverage for a graduation. Perhaps no school in the country had ever seen this kind of media coverage. Kim felt grateful that some of it was not for her. Justine Flanner had left classes at Middleton High after her sophomore year to go on to MIT, but was back for her official high school graduation.
Before they lined up for Pomp and Circumstance Ron looked around, “Great turnout KP, I think everyone is here but Stephen Burton and Denise Vos. I hear she broke her leg in a crash after the prom… Oh, wait, there she is -- that is one big cast.”
It seemed like a thousand flashes went off as the seniors processed in. The administration was playing this up for all the coverage they could get. Before the diplomas were handed out the audience had to endure three scientists no one could understand talking about Justine and several testimonials about Kim's bravery. At least the last one included the mother of the two-year old and Felix was mentioned. It bothered Kim that Ron didn't get the credit he deserved -- except for a mention of the Naco.
During the speeches by the scientists Kim looked around the auditorium. It appeared some of the smaller families had sold tickets to reporters who couldn't get press passes… “Who is that with Monique's family?” Kim asked herself. Her jaw dropped when she realized it had to be -- Shego!
Monique had watched Kim and saw her start. When Kim looked over at Monique she found her friend already grinning at her.“Happy birthday, Kim!” she mouthed silently.
Somehow the ceremony seemed to drag even slower for Kim than before, she wanted it to be over with, she kept staring at Shego and wondering why she had come. Shego dressed to fit in with the crowd, a conservative charcoal outfit including gloves to cover her hands and a hat with a broad enough brim to shade her face and make her pale skin tone less obvious. Kim suspected Shego could walk into a shadow and disappear completely.
With her mind on Shego Kim could only remember a few highlights of the evening. There was thunderous applause as she finally walked across the stage. Ron got a huge laugh as he walked across -- someone had taped a ‘Kick Me’ sign to his back, Kim suspected he'd done it to himself. As Ron strolled across stage, flashing V for victory gestures with both hands, Rufus, in a tiny little graduation gown and a miniature mortarboard held on his head with a rubber band, ran alongside. Kim wondered if anyone else in the audience realized how competent Ron really was, how he used the buffoon act as a distraction. Sometimes she wondered if she even knew how good he was.
It seemed like everyone wanted pictures with Kim and Justine after the ceremony. Kim couldn't go to Monique's family without drawing attention to Shego.
“Kim can you come to my MIT graduation?” Justine pleaded as the photographers snapped them together.
“Sure, when will that be?”
“Next month! You're graduating MIT in two years?”
“Yeah, they made me take a bunch of quote required courses unquote. They were all boring. I start my doctorate at Berkeley this fall. Oxford wants me for a post-doc in two years, but their research facility stinks -- I think they want me to give them some credibility. I may come back to Middleton though, the research center here is totally cutting edge in robotics and AI.”
Friends and family, as well as the yearbook photographer snapped group pictures of the graduating cheerleaders. As the girls went to their respective families Kim stopped Bonnie for a minute. “Just think, one of the few times in the high school we can agree on something.”
“How glad we are we never have to see each other again.” They gave each other a high five.
“Where you going to be this fall?”
“I've decided to stay in Middleton for at least a year,” Kim told her. “Where you going?”
Bonnie groaned, “I'm saving money by staying here too.”
“It's not to save money! Middleton has…” The two stared at each other for a minute. “Tell you what,” Kim suggested. “If we see each other on campus we pretend we don't know each other.”
“It's a deal.”
“See you, stranger,” Kim called as Bonnie moved away.
“Not if I see you first,” Bonnie called back over her shoulder.
Kim smiled. She and Bonnie were finally rid of each other. She expected Bonnie felt as good about it as she did.
Professional and amateur photographers continued snapping pictures. Kim watched helplessly as Monique went over to her family. Kim felt her own little stab of jealousy as she watched Shego give Monique a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“KIM! Do you see who is over with Monique?”
“Yes Ron, I know.”
“You know, oh, you've seen her already. You have a plan? How are we going to take her down?”
“We're not, Ron. Come over with me.”
“Okay, KP, I got your back.” Ron felt like something was definitely wrong as they walked across the gym floor. It both hurt and angered him. Shego was with Monique's family. Kim seemed to approve of it. The two of them knew something, but no one had told him anything. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “Don't let them see anger. Don't yell. We are dealing with a dangerous woman here, let's not have a fight during graduation.”
“Kim, you were wonderful.” Ron stared, unbelieving, as Kim received her own hug and peck on the cheek. The redhead found herself wondering if she had gotten a longer hug than Monique. “Mr. Stoppable, you outdid yourself in this evening's performance.”
Ron stared at the outstretched hand. “Shake,” Kim snarled in an undertone.
“Okay, but I want to know who is wearing the mind control chip.”
“At least some of us have minds,” Shego hissed.
“Kim,” Monique interrupted, “I asked your family to come over to our house for some cake and punch. Your Dad said yes. Can you come, Ron?”
Ron felt like he was on an episode of the Twilight Zone. “Sorry, Monique, no can do. The Ronnster has a family party -- got to collect those bets from the folks who said I'd never graduate. Yep, Mom and Dad owe me big.”
The Possibles had moved towards Monique's family when they saw where Kim went.
The twins had kept the Drs. Possible too busy to see Shego earlier, and Kim's mom looked unhappy to see her now. “Good evening,” she said stiffly. “I believe you're coming over for dinner next week. Are there any special dietary requirements?”
“I got to go Kim,” Ron whispered. “I'm going to see if I'm asleep so I can wake myself up.”
“No Dr. Possible, thank you for asking. I'm certain anything you serve will be delicious. Oh, and I was hoping to invite Kim and Monique out for coffee a little later tonight. Would that be acceptable, would you care to join us?”
“No thank you, Shego,” Mrs. Possible responded with the same exaggerated politeness. “Please try to have her home at a reasonable hour.” She glared at Monique, feeling, quite rightly, that Kim's friend had set her up.
After Ron left the group he found his parents and told them a mission had come up. It was relatively easy to watch Kim and Shego in the gym without being observed. “Kim is just waiting until no one will be hurt before she takes Shego down,” he told himself.
He managed to follow them to Monique's without being seen. He had less luck keeping them under observation at Columbia to Kenya. The stocking hat he used to cover his hair was too warm for the evening, and the large black moustache was so obviously fake it drew attention to him rather than hiding him.
“Should we invite him to sit with us, or pretend we don't see him?” Monique asked.
“Pretend we don't see him,” was Shego's vote.
“That's not nice,” Kim said. She got up and walked to the table where Ron sat.
“Do you want to join us?” Kim invited.
“I donna tink I knows you, lady.”
“Cut the accent Ron.”
“Its'a notta… Is it that obvious?”
Kim nodded yes.
“What in the hell is going on KP?” He sounded more hurt than angry. Kim cringed, but tried to make the best of it.
“The three of us are having coffee. I invited you to join us.”
“You know that's not what I meant. Why are you sitting there with Shego? Why was she with Monique's family? She's going to have dinner at your house! Why were Wade and I the only--”
“Actually, Wade knows.”
“I'm the only person who doesn't know that the world turned upside down?” He was angry now.
“Look, I'm sorry Ron. But I was afraid you'd take it badly.”
“That's the only thing I've heard tonight you got right,” Ron said before stomping out.
“Well, Princess, that looked like it went very well,” Shego commented as Kim arrived back at the booth.
“Drop it, Sheila,” Kim warned her. “I owe him an apology and an explanation tomorrow.”
“You don't owe him--”
“Yes, I do,” Kim interrupted. “I can wait until tomorrow or I run after him now if you don't drop it.”
Shego dropped it, and eventually the tension Ron's presence had created began to lift.
Monique let Kim and Shego share the other side of the booth. Monique watched them closely as she sipped her espresso can panna, Shego kept her eyes on Kim too often and for too long in Monique's opinion, and Kim seemed more bubbly and talkative than Monique could remember. Monique hoped it was only the excitement of graduation.
At least tonight Monique discovered why Kim enjoyed the older woman's company. Shego could tell a story well. She had both girls laughing until their sides hurt with what she claimed was a true story from her early days in crime -- a simple little heist that had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Shego was about to throw caution to the wind and suggest another round when she noticed the time, “Oops, almost midnight. You better head home Princess. I promised your Mom I wouldn't let you stay out as late tonight. I want to show her I'm a responsible adult.”
“But you're not Sheila. That's what I like about you. Wait a minute, one question before I take Monique home. How did she… how did you… Why were you sitting with Monique's family?”
Monique and Shego laughed. “Sorry Princess. You can try to guess if you want, but I don't think either of us will tell.”
And despite all of Kim's efforts to pry the secret from Monique on the ride home it would be many months before she learned the answer.