New Year's Day was a break for everyone. Kim and Shego slept in until ten, then helped Jean clean up from the party
Monique stopped by for a talk while they were cleaning, “Just me and Kim, Shego, I've got some words to say to her that are too strong for your shell green ears.”
“Kim, before Monique takes you to the wood shed, please let me use the Kimmunicator, I really need to talk with the boy genius.”
Wade answered the call almost immediately, “Shego? Is Kim okay?”
“She's fine, I think. She tried to set up Monique last night and they're having words. I need to ask a favor.”
“You, asking me for a favor? I'm looking forward to turning you down.”
“So am I.”
“Look you're a good guy. You help people. I think someone has kidnapped Drakken.”
“And how does that concern me?”
“Damn it, stop looking so smug. Some of the Dr.'s work could be really dangerous in the wrong hands--”
“And it's safe in his?”
“STOP FIGHTING ME! I NEED HELP! THIS IS SERIOUS!”
“Okay, what do you need?”
“I need you to come with me to the lair and see if you can find any clues.”
“Uh, you know I don't like to leave my house. Can you borrow the Kimmunicator for a sweep of the place? Looking for clues is more of a job for police forensics.”
“In reverse order, I don't want police going through Drakken's lab. The Kimmunicator isn't as good as the brain behind it -- and that's you. Finally, I know you don't like to leave your place. Kim thinks you've got agoraphobia. Ron thinks you're lazy. I think you want to stay tied to your link with Kim--”
“Okay, I'll come with you.”
“I'll need to blindfold you when I take you to the lair.”
“Would that be your lair on Wistful Vista, or the one in North Bend?”
“Fine, you don't need a blindfold. When can I pick you up? Any chance we could go over this evening?”
“No way, this is family time. Tomorrow morning is the earliest.”
Shego felt guilty she wasn't doing more to help Drakken, instead she was enjoying herself at the house of his greatest enemy. She worried it was somehow her fault. No one could have taken the Dr. if she had been there. Rationally she knew she had been on her own time -- she earned that vacation. And she was doing all she could in seeking help. But the rational explanations and irrational feelings of guilt were in conflict. The only compromise she could come up with was to enjoy her time with Kim and feel guilty about it at the same time.
During lunch -- which consisted of leftovers from the night before. Kim suddenly stopped, “You're forgetting something,” she told Shego.
The older woman looked puzzled, “What am I forgetting?”
“We have a truce today.”
Shego simply looked more confused.
“Last spring,” Kim reminded her, “we were at C2K and talking about New Year's plans. We made a pinkie promise--”
Jean interrupted, “You made a pinkie promise?”
“I remember now,” Shego said, “There was some sort of bet about which of us would have the hotter date.”
“Exactly,” Kim laughed.
“Well, since the two of you were together it would seem to me the bet would be off.”
“I don't think so, Dad. We each had twenty bucks riding on this.”
“Well, Princess,” Shego asked, “how do you propose we settle this?”
Kim already had her cell phone out and hit a programmed number. “Hello, Ron? … Shego and I really need a big favor from you. … No, we need you come over here and decide which of us looks hottest. … I'm not kidding! Please, this is very important to us, you are settling a bet. … Half an hour would be great, bye.”
“So, we have half an hour to get ready?” Shego asked. Kim nodded her head yes. “How are we going to do this? I didn't bring a lot of clothing with me. “
“You and Kim want to know who looks hotter?” Jim interrupted.
“You two can go to your room or go see the Delaneys. I don't approve of this bet your sister made and don't want you here.”
Shego smiled, “I don't think it's going to be a contest.”
Kim snorted, “We'll see about that. I say Ron in the family room for judging. Shego, do you want to dress in the den?”
“Okay, but I don't want you seeing me before the competition.”
“That's fine. I don't want you seeing me either. I'll use the kitchen.”
“Shego grinned, “I am so winning this bet.”
“No way,” Kim scoffed, “it's mine.”
“Now, see here,” James said, “I don't want you two doing… things to poor Ronald.”
“Dad, I don't think it's going to be what you think.”
Ron was on the Possible's doorstep twenty-three minutes after the call, visions of a half-naked Kim and Shego in his mind. What would the two of them be willing to do to convince him she was hotter. “This is going to be so good,” he told himself. As he rang the doorbell another thought went through his mind,“This is going to be so bad,” he realized. If he said Shego was hotter he would hurt the feelings of his best friend in the world. If he said Kim was hotter he risked the plasma fury of an unstable woman with a short temper. “I am dead.”
Jean answered the door before Ron had a chance to turn and run. “Come in,” she invited. “Give me your coat. The girls said you should go into the TV room. Oh, before you go in there. I have to know, do you have a camera on you?”
He shook his head no.
“Does your cell phone take pictures?”
She stuck out her hand. “Give it to me. They do not want you to take pictures of this competition.”
Ron felt just a little better. He was going to die. But before he left this world he would have Kim and Shego in next to nothing trying to convince him she was the hotter of the two. We all have to die sometime. He could not imagine a better way to go.
Jean ushered him into the TV room. “They haven't seen each other,” she told him. “Shego,” she called, “are you ready?”
“I'm ready,” she responded from the den.
“Uh, Mrs. Dr. P? Are you going to stand here and watch this too?”
She smiled, “No, Ron. You're right. I think I'll leave you to your duty. Shego won the coin toss before you arrived. Call her in first.”
Ron settled back into the chair. He allowed himself twenty seconds to fantasize what Shego might be wearing. Or might not be wearing. Could she go beyond the limits of his imagination? What would she do to prove how hot she was? “Shego, I'm ready.”
The door to the den slid open and Shego stepped in, and Ron stared in amazement. “That's your costume for the contest?”
She nodded. Shego wore gardening overalls, apparently borrowed from Kim's dad. Grass stains covered the knees, and a large red handkerchief hung from a pocket. An over-sized, and equally disreputable, sweat shirt hid any figure that might have escaped the cover of the overalls. A moth-eaten straw hat held most of her hair, except for some wisps that hung down.
Ron continued to stare. “Going to say anything,” she asked.
“Uh, Kim? Your turn.”
The kitchen door swung open and Kim stepped into the room.
Shego fell on the floor laughing. Kim had borrowed her father's winter down outfit and stuffed it with newspapers until she looked like she weighed four hundred pounds. Her pigtails had been braided on wires that stuck out at grotesque angles.
Shego got up from the floor, went over and put her arm around where Kim's waist would normally have been, “Okay, Stoppable. Who is hotter?”
His eyes went back and forth, wondering what sort of nightmare he was in. Then Kim smiled, and revealed she had stuck raisins over some of her teeth so that her smile looked like she was missing teeth.
Ron hide his face in his hands, unwilling to gaze upon the horror. “Oh, God,” he moaned. “Shego is hotter.”
“Yes!” Kim shouted as she pumped her arms in the air and began a victory dance, “I win! I win! Twenty bucks, Shego!”
Ron looked blank, “Huh? I said Shego looked hotter. Kim? Why are you celebrating?”
He heard laughter from behind him and turned to see the Drs. Possible standing in the doorway and watching.
“They made a bet months ago over who would have the hotter date this New Years's Eve,” James explained.
“So when you said Shego looked hotter,” Jean continued. “It meant that Kim won the bet.”
Ron still looked confused, “Shego and I will take you out to the mall for hot chocolate and we'll explain it slowly,” Kim told him.
“Okay, I guess. But you can you two change? I don't want to be seen with you looking like that.”
When they got back from the mall Kim and Shego took one out of three bridge games from the Drs. Possible. If Drakken hadn't been on Shego's mind they might have taken two.
Wade was impressed when he saw the Lair the next day. “I've never seen a place so clean. Do you think whoever took Drakken cleaned it up to hide evidence?”
“No, it was the Evil Lair Cleaning Service.”
“You don't have to be sarcastic.”
“I'm not. It's a subsidiary of Jack Hench Enterprises. The background check to get hired is tougher than working for the Department of Justice. Do you have any idea how jealous mad scientists get about people stealing their secrets? They should have been here last Thursday. That means Dr. D was taken before that.”
“You're ruling out Jack Hench?”
“Drakken bounces the occasional check, but I can't see Hench closing his account.”
Wade's fast sweep of the lair revealed no obvious clues left behind after the cleaning service. His second, more detailed sweep turned up so much microscopic evidence from so many identifiable and nameless individuals it was equally useless.
Unused to so much activity Wade sat down in a chair to rest.
“What now, Shego?”
“Well, before we start talking Drakken I want to know if I'm going to have trouble with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, am I the only person in the world who realizes that you wouldn't do the work you do for Kim -- the website, the secret weapons, the Kimmunicator -- as a hobby, that it's a labor of love?”
“You haven't told her, have you?”
“No, and I don't plan to. You were probably what, eleven or twelve when you first saw her little website? You thought she was cute -- but was never going to take a kid like you seriously. So you used your genius and made yourself indispensable. You took over the website and became the brains of Team Possible. That's how I read it.”
“So what do you want?”
“First, I don't want you to sabotage me and Kim. You could do it, you have the brains.”
“You really think so?”
“I know it. You're a genius, and Kim really trusts you and relies on you. She's the heart and soul of Team Possible, but you're the brains. It wouldn't be there without you.”
“Thanks. What's Ron?”
“Stoppable? I'm tempted to say he's the left nostril. But he and that rat are seriously under-rated. I'm just not sure what body part to call him.”
“Okay, Shego, I am jealous of you and Kim. But I just want her to be happy. You hurt her and there's no place you can hide.”
“I don't want her to get hurt either. And I really want your help in trying to find Drakken. Please, Wade.”
Without any evidence the two tried brainstorming ideas. Shego almost asked if he wanted a piece of paper for taking notes -- then decided his memory was probably better than her note taking skills.
“I think we can take Professor Dementor off the list of suspects, he seems to have no respect for Drakken.”
“Uh, do you remember? You and Ron captured him a couple months ago. You said he'd probably blame Drakken.”
“Ooops, I'm having a ‘Doh!’ moment. Still, I think Dementor would show his disdain for Drakken by just ignoring him -- but you're right, he's a suspect. And if he took the Doctor it's my fault. But I think we can take Duff Killigan off the list -- he and the Doc are almost buddies.”
“It doesn't really fit the MO for Monkey Fist or DNAmy --”
“Yeah, but I'm not sure how stable Monkey Fist is. I'd put him down as a long shot. Oh, I think we need to give serious consideration to the Bebes. They've come back from the scrap yard a couple times and might want Drakken for an upgrade.”
“Like the Daleks looking for Davros.”
“It's a Doctor reference.”
“What does it have to do with Doctor D?”
“Kid, if you tell me ‘What's on second,’ so help me, I'm going to punch you.”
“Kim has fought some people who have probably never heard of Drakken, like Falsetto Jones --”
“I've heard of Jones, thinks he's a better thief than I--”
“I! But I can't see him going for the Doctor. Oh, what is the last word on WEE? I heard Gemini basically went nuts and destroyed it himself. He was talking with his Chihuahua.”
“Lot's of people talk to their pets.”
“Yeah, but they don't all listen. He was in a room with rubber wallpaper the last I heard -- but check up on current status. If WEE was going to make a come back they might have some plan that called for Drakken's talents.”
“Didn't Kim say that Drakken showed up at the end of the battle with your brothers against some enemy?”
“Aviarius. Yeah, put him high on your list to check out and see if he's still in prison. I'm wondering if it's someone from the past for me and Drakken. Can you check -- No, it isn't him or pieces of Drakken would be all over the lair -- and if you Google his name you fry your hard drive. It can't be Speed Queen -- she has no interest in Drakken. But remember that name if I ever go missing. I may be hanging up somewhere in velvet wrapped chains and a ball gag. They aren't kidding with that saying about a woman scorned.”
“Isn't she supposed to one of the good guys?”
“Don't trust an angsty hero. Do you know what her teammates pay a month to keep her name out of the papers?
“Oh God, they called themselves the Four Jacks. I know two of them died in a fire -- but make sure the other two are still in prison.”
Shego's top suspects for kidnapping Drakken were Aviarius and the Bebes, with Professor Dementor and WEE having an outside chance and Monkey Fist representing a long shot. Wade had person or persons unknown as his most likely suspect, but agreed to check the names on Shego's list.
Wade found nothing in his initial search, “No one seems interested in the materials the Bebes used on their last two plots. Either they really are gone or the Doctor has modified their construction so much I'm not sure what to search for.”
“How about other suspects, what's the word on Aviarius?”
“A giant mechanical flamingo broke him out of jail a year ago. We can't rule him out.”
“Was having a very good time in Monaco the last week in December. Can we rule him out?”
“Better not, he might have been providing himself with an alibi.”
Wade could tell Shego was worried about Dementor. “I don't think it's him. He wouldn't be interested in using the Doctors’ know-how. If it was Dementor he would have been sure to let you know he had Drakken to make you feel bad.”
“Yeah, unless it's a trap-trap.”
“It gets complicated. How about Gemini?”
“He strangled an orderly and escaped the asylum. He's so crazy I can't see the former WEE agents flocking to him in numbers big enough for WEE to be a threat.”
“Did you check on the Jacks like I asked you to?”
“There's not much out there. The two who were in custody died in a prison riot almost three years ago.”
“Did they use DNA testing to confirm identity?”
“DID THEY CONFIRM IDENTITY WITH DNA!”
“Don't shout. How would I know? The news story didn't say.”
“Doesn't matter. Unless they cut off their heads and stuffed the mouths with garlic, then buried them with wooden stakes through the heart I'm not sure I'll believe they're dead anyway.”
“You're scaring me Shego.”
“Just kidding Pointexter, just kidding. You know me. But, do me a favor and check for any unusual stories regarding large quantities of silver in the last three years, and any stories about the desecration of churches in the same time frame, okay?” “And pray to God you don't find any.”
“There are a lot of faked photos of Speed Queen in the newsgroups… Is she really that hot?”
“You aren't supposed to be looking at porn, you're too young.”
“C'mon Shego, I just see them when I'm doing research on villains.”
“Sure, at alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.supers.fake… Say, any pictures of me out there?”
“Me and Speed Queen?”
“How about me and Kim?”
“They started to appear about the time she turned eighteen.”
“I'll make a deal with you kid, burn me a CD of the better ones and I won't tell your Momma where I got it.”