The computer on Kim's desk turned itself on. “Kim, are you there?”
“Damn,” Kim crawled out of bed, pulled on a t-shirt and turned on the web-cam. “Yes, Wade, I'm here. What do you need?”
“I need to talk with Shego. Do you know where she is?”
Kim grinned, “I think so.” She looked over her shoulder and called, “Put on some clothes -- it's for you. Wade, let me put a tissue over the webcam for a minute.”
“You never let me have any fun.”
“Never let you have any fun? You deleted that from your hard drive, didn't you?”
Wade ignored her, “Where's Bonnie?”
“She had a late rehearsal, promised us she wouldn't be back until eleven-thirty.”
Shego pulled the tissue off the web-cam. “Wade, Got news on Drakken?”
“Nothing that good. Got some information you really don't want to hear. Maybe you and Kim need to change your plans for Spring Break.”
A little more than a week later a small crowd surrounded three ragged figures as they waited at the Beijing airport.
“-- You must continue to take the antibiotics until you finish the bottle.”
“I can promise that,” Ron assured the doctor.
The American ambassador addressed Ron and Kim, Shego had her Mexican passport and tried hard to stay out of the picture when photographers snapped shots of the other two -- not that anyone could have recognized her. “We contacted your parents, everyone knows you're safe.”
A man they guessed represented the Communist Party had a message also, “On behalf of the government of China we would like to thank the three of you for bringing Dr. Su back. You realize, of course, that you will never be allowed back in China.”
“And after this last week we sure as hell wouldn't want to come back,” Shego thought.
The Kimmunicator beeped faintly before they boarded the plane.
“KIM! Thank God! It was on the news they found you -- I haven't heard from you in a week.”
“There are some places the Kimmunicator won't reach -- and it appears the Roof of the World is one of them. Battery low, poor signal. We'll talk once we get back to the US.”
She looked at the other two, “And maybe by then we can decide what we are going to tell them.”
Ron asked the cabin attendant for three pillows when they got on the plane -- he might need one for his head.
Kim sat in the center, with Ron on her left and the shadow of Shego seated by the window. “Okay, the Chinese government didn't buy our story -- “
“Would you? I mean, we come down from the mountains carrying their leading ethno-anthropologist, who has gone completely Fruit Loops, and say ‘Oh, on the other side of the world we heard her expedition was in trouble and came to help out.’ They hadn't told the world her expedition was missing. They didn't even know she was in trouble. And when they ask, ‘What happened to the rest of her party?’ we say, ‘Gee, we didn't see anyone else.'”
“Do you want to tell them we watched them being eaten?”
The other two shook their heads. “And, Kim, can you drop the subject while I'm eating.” They'd purchased every candy bar they could find in the Beijing airport and Shego was on her seventh. “Okay, that's three votes for not saying what happened to the expedition. Second question, do we tell anyone about the hairy men?”
“Without the Jack the hairy men are mostly harmless--”
“Mostly harmless? Weren't you listening to Dr. Su? According to Tibetan folklore the Yama chops off your head, sucks out your brains and drinks your blood while he's eating you.”
“Yeah, but she didn't KNOW that the Yama and hairy men -- “
“I have to agree with Ron, Princess. I don't know if the gShin rje, The Lord of Death, was based on some collective memory of those things or not. Let's say they're unrelated completely. Those things still weren't harmless.”
“Yes, but do you want to see them hunted to extinction?”
“Sorry, KP, I'm usually pro-ecology. Hug a tree and all that. But I could live with them being hunted.”
“Then how about the fact any hunter who tries to get to the temple has a better chance of dying of exposure than getting a pelt? I say we forget about it.”
“Not likely I'm going to be forgetting about it.”
“Okay, Ron. I mean I don't think we should tell anyone about what really happened.”
The vote was again unanimous.
“Shego… He, It knew you. Is that really the end?”
“I hope so Kim, I wish I could know. I've seen three of them go up in flames now -- purified by fire. The fourth one is supposed to be dead, but the one you saw was supposed to have died with him. I should have guessed he might come back to Asia. Drakken thought they started somewhere in South Asia.”
“That's funny, he didn't look Asian.”
“That's funny coming from you Stoppable, but Drakken guessed they had probably been British soldiers on one of their failed attempts to take over Afghanistan.”
“What do you think the chances are for Dr. Su, I mean realistically.”
“I've got no idea. When she made sense she told us she needed that Rinchen rilpo stuff. But will the Chinese take the request seriously? If they take it seriously will they ask the Indian government for help -- I can't remember whether they're speaking these days. And even if India and China are getting along I can't see the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute at Dharamsala helping the Chinese.”
“How deep do you think she got into the temple?”
“I don't know. Further than we did. Maybe if we'd gone deeper we'd have ended up like that.”
It wasn't a reassuring thought.
The cabin attendant came by with blankets. Ron took one for himself. Kim took two, and wrapped them both around Shego, then held her arms around the thin woman as she started another candy bar.
“At least the two of you kept warm those first couple nights.”
“Will you listen to this ingrate!” Shego snorted. “I unselfishly give him my sleeping bag so that he can have two, and he complains that the two of shivering together in that little sleeping bag, designed for one, had it better than him.”
“Maybe we could have asked him to join us?”
None of them wanted to talk about their mission, but none of them could think of anything else.
“Can you imagine if Monkey Fist heard about those guys?”
“They weren't monkeys Ron, you know that.”
“Hey, Stoppable, at least you know what they mean about ripping you a new one.”
“Not funny, Shego. I'm going to be sleeping on my stomach for awhile.”
“Or maybe on someone else's stomach? You want to tell us why you're really getting off in Japan?”
“Kim, make her shut up, please.”
As they circled the Tokyo airport Kim spoke with Ron, “ “Will you be okay? What if you need to talk about it?”
“Actually, I will tell Sensei about it, he'll decide if the information needs to go in the Yamanuchi annals. I may check to see if there is anything about the hairy men there already.” Ron's carelessness made Kim glance over at Shego. “Not telling any secrets Kim, she knows where I went last summer.”
Before leaving the plane Ron promised, “I'll head home in a couple days. I think classes can start fine without me.”
“It's a bad habit to get into,” Kim warned.
“Ah, maybe I could get Bonnie to coach me.”
“I'll bet she would, Stoppable.” Shego laughed, “I think she'd enjoy it.”
Ron turned slightly pink and headed for the exit.
“Stay here Shego, I'm going into the terminal to see if I can get you some more snacks and candy bars during the layover.”
Shego ate three packages of dried squid, two spicy octopus treats, and four more candy bars before falling asleep over the Pacific.
Kim held the sleeping Shego in her arms, periodically pressing her cheek to Shego's forehead, reassuring herself the heat was really gone.
Shego woke up about an hour before California. The rustle of paper as she looked for any remaining candy bars or spicy octopus woke up Kim.
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Thanks to you. I can't believe you beat three of them. You are incredible.”
“Well, the one was hurting you. How's your arm?”
“A whole lot better than Stoppable's ass. The arm should be fine in a couple days and eventually I won't look like a famine victim. He's going to have a lifetime of explaining when people see that scar.”
“Not that many people should be seeing it.”
“Yeah, but what's the name of his girlfriend?”
“She'll see it I bet.
“Uh, Shego. Don't give me any credit. None of us would have made it back without you. Have you ever kept your plasma flame going that long before?”
“Never. God, I'll bet I lost ten pounds.”
“It's more like thirty.”
“The old ‘If I catch you, I can have you diet.'”
“Nasty, racist, homophobic joke.”
“Okay, skip it. Seriously, you've been eating since we got out and you still look anorexic. I'm afraid if I try and hug you I could break you. No more no-fat lattes until you're back to your old self. You have to order double-doubles.”
“Hey, while we're patting each other on the back, let's not forget Stoppable. He took the rear getting out of there. God, I was running for my life -- I couldn't have volunteered to get out last. And where did he get the strength to carry out Dr. Su -- especially with the pain he was in? And how far did he have to carry her? I don't even remember the trip down, I was weak as a kitten and you had all the gear. I swear, that boy has to have a pack mule somewhere on his family tree.”
“Ron's really quit a guy.”
Shego thought for a minute, then laughed “It just hit me, Ron Stoppable is Archie.”
“The comic book character?”
“Yeah, goofball boy with two cute girls running after him. I assume this Yori is cute.”
“You didn't have to say it so fast, I could get jealous.”
“You think Bonnie is really serious about Ron?”
“Oh, I don't know how serious, but she's interested.”
“She doesn't have a chance.”
“Well, I don't know Yori -- but my money is on Bonnie.”
“Sorry, Shego. Ron is loyal.”
“So's a Labrador Retriever. But a girl friend half a world away and a cute girl with the hots for you close to home? He's a guy. Bonnie will get him.”
“Not all guys are jerks.”
“Yeah, some are gay. In Finian's Rainbow, it's a play, this big leprechaun--”
“A big leprechaun?”
“Work with me, Kim. Anyway, his best song is ‘When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love, I Love the Girl I'm Near.’ Is Yori a nice girl?”
“I think so.”
“She's a Betty. Nice girls get walked on.”
“Bonnie is sure a Veronica -- doesn't have the money, but she's not a nice girl.”
“You're just standing up for Yori because you're a Betty.”
“And you're a Veronica… Hey, Shego, here's something you don't see in the comic books,” and she leaned over and kissed her lover.
The two got onto a domestic flight in LA. Shego stared down at the peaks and valleys of the Rockies as they flew over.
“Do you think there any hairy men in America?”
“Did you have to ask that question? I don't think I'll ever go skiing in Colorado again.”
“Kim, can we be together tonight? Just sleep. If the nightmares come back I want you there to hold me.”
The Drs. Possible and the tweebs were waiting in the Middleton airport.
James Possible gave his daughter a big hug. Jean stared at Shego with a look of horror. “My God, what happened to you?”
Kim answered, “She saved my life, Mom, Ron's too. Those last three days… She burned herself up for us.”
“We're getting you to the hospital. Now.”
“Please, Jean, can we stop somewhere and eat first?”
“Okay, where do you want to go?”
“Any all-you-can-eat buffet, or the House of Large Portions.”
Old Country Buffet lost money on Shego that evening. She protested she just wanted to sleep, but Jean insisted they stop at the hospital and check her over. Other than the dramatic weight loss and a slight sprain Shego appeared relatively healthy.
“I want her to stay with me tonight. I want her in my room.”
“No problem, Kim. Actually, Shego, I'd like you to stay with us for awhile. Until you regain some weight and strength. You need a doctor's supervision.”
“Really Mom? Will that be okay Shego?”
Shego nodded sleepily.
“Mom, we're sleeping with the light on tonight.”
“That's okay Kim. Your dad and I won't be coming in to check on you. You're an adult.”
“No Mom, you don't understand. We want to sleep with the lights on. Please don't turn them off.”