It had been a little more than a week since the men had staged their botched attempt to reunite Kim and Shego. The women were wreaking a terrible revenge on them. So far the women had done absolutely nothing, but the suspense was far worse than any damage the women might have inflicted. Both Ron and Wade jumped at the slightest sound, and the nervous tic which sometimes afflicted Drakken had become more noticeable. Kim called and suggested to Shego they simply give them wedgies and put them out of their misery, but Shego insisted they keep the pressure on for a few more days.
The two met in the Religious Studies department at Middleton U for their scheduled appointment with Rabbi Ruth. While they had talked on the phone, their meeting in the department office was their first time to see each other since the 'raid' on Drakken's Lair.
“How are you feeling?” Kim asked.
“Stressed, nervous… How are you doing?”
“A lot like you.”
“How are the girls?”
Kim brightened up, “They're great. But I think they wonder where you--”
The door to Ruth's office opened and Kim fell silent, “Come on in,” the professor invited.
“I don't normally do pastoral duties in my office here,” she apologized as the two women came in. “But with you both being U students and Sharon wanting an appointment as soon as possible this was the best time.” She gestured to two guest chairs and the couple sat down. Ruth turned her desk chair around and rolled it over to where it was close to Kim and Shego.
“Now, Kim,” Ruth began, “Sharon has told me why she was feeling unhappy. I recognize there are two sides to a story. I imagine you have issues also, and they are probably different from Sharon's. Do you want to tell me what is frustrating you in the relationship?”
Kim took a deep breath, “Did she tell you her past history?”
“What in particular?”
“How she was a criminal, how we used to fight each other all the time?”
“Yes, is that the problem?”
Kim hesitated, “Well, not directly. But because of that I don't always trust her judgment, I'm afraid of what she--”
“See,” Shego interrupted, “she admits she doesn't trust me!”
“Sharon, please be quiet while Kim is speaking. I asked her how she was feeling and she is telling me. Today we will work on two listening exercises. Kim, do you want to finish your thought?”
“I guess I've said the basics. She's right. I probably don't trust her the way I should. But I feel like she's made so many mistakes with her life that she needs to be watched. I worry about her.”
The Rabbi waited a minute to see if Kim wanted to say anything more. “Okay, you two have problems. But you both know that. One question before we start, are you really interested in trying to work things out or are you just looking for a way out?”
“Some couples go into counseling with one or both not really wanting to get back together. They can claim they tried because they went in to counseling, but they didn't want it to work. Counseling can't work if you don't want it to. It might not help even if you do. Do you both seriously want this to work?”
“I want us back together,” Shego told her.
“I love her,” Kim said.
“Good. Now recognize I'm not a professional counselor. I think a lot of problems happen because of poor communication. If you have more serious problems you need someone with more training than I've had. But I've got some communication exercises that might help. You both said you wanted to be back with the other. Today's first exercise follows up on that. Each of you will spend three minutes telling the other one why you love her and want the two of you back together. You will not interrupt each other when the other is speaking. You will not use this time to express any of your frustrations with the other. You will face each other. Kim, please go first.”
Kim took the older woman's hand and looked into her eyes, “I love Shego because she is the first person to ever really treat me like an adult. She helped me become aware of part of myself I never knew existed. I love her because…” Three minutes can be a long time to speak, and Kim was not able to fill the whole three minutes, but she did a remarkable job.
“Uh, my,” Ruth commented, “We don't usually get quite that detailed about 'how' in the 'why I love you sessions.'”
“Did I say something wrong?” Kim asked.
Shego had blushed a darker shade of green, “I think you told the rabbi more than she needed to hear, pumpkin.” Addressing the rabbi she commented, “We are, ah, fairly athletic…”
“It certainly sounds like it. Thank you, Kim. Now, Sharon, your turn to tell Kim why you love her.”
Shego smiled and began, “ How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
“I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
“My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
“For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
“I love thee to the level of everyday's
“Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light…”
Shego managed to fill the whole three minutes.
“No fair,” Kim protested. “She filled time with Burns, I didn't know you could use poetry.”
“I don't think it was Burns, I think it was Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” The rabbi looked over to Shego, who nodded in agreement. “And there weren't any rules -- it wasn't a competition to see who could come the closest to three minutes.”
“Everything is a competition with that woman,” Shego said.
“That's not… Okay, maybe that is true. But are you saying you're not competitive?”
“She's got me there, rabbi. We are probably too competitive with each other. In anything we do we want to beat each other.”
“We'll work on that another day,” the rabbi promised them. “We are now going to have another listening session. You will each spend five minutes telling the other why you feel angry, hurt, or frustrated. You will not interrupt the speaker. You will not use your time to rebut what the other says, to criticize, or to say she is wrong for the way she feels. You will try and express yourself in terms of your feelings rather than making accusations. Is that clear?”
Both women nodded. “Okay, Sharon, please go first.”
“It really hurts me that I don't feel trusted. I know I've made mistakes, but that doesn't mean I'm an idiot and incapable of thinking. I just want to be treated with some respect…”
Kim almost interrupted three times, but while Shego was able to tell from Kim's expression that the younger woman wanted to say something the redhead controlled herself and remained silent.
“Kim, it's your turn.”
“Sometimes I'm not sure if Shego trusts me either. Sometimes I want to know where she is going or what she is going to do not because I mistrust her, but because I love her and worry about her. I feel like she won't confide in me…”
Shego had more trouble controlling herself, and interrupted twice, but both times the rabbi quickly asked her to respect Kim's time and let her finish.
“Okay, that was great first session. Now, you really need to think about what the other said to you. The fact she loves you, and the fact she is feeling some frustrations. We're not going to worry about whether feelings are 'right' or 'wrong.' You must accept that is how the other person feels. Now, this is not going to turn into a time for defending yourself, or attacking the other, but we'll spend a little time just talking. If either of you has some questions about the other's feelings that you would like clarified this would be a good time to ask…”
A half hour later, after setting up an appointment for the next Tuesday afternoon, Kim and Shego left Ruth's office and the Religious Studies department.
“I feel better,” Kim said as they walked down the hall. “How do you feel?”
“I feel much better.”
“We're doing something to work on the relationship. Are you ready to move back in?”
“Not yet, Kim. I was so mad for a while I really didn't want to see you. I spent a lot of years taking care of myself; I needed alone time to sort things out. You're the closest thing I've had to a stable relationship in my entire life. I don't know about you, but that scares the crap out of me.”
“Three years ago we were fighting for real. I sometimes have nightmares where this is all some weird plot you're doing to stick me in prison.”
“You don't really believe that.”
“Not when I'm awake. When I'm asleep I sometimes hear you laugh as the cell door slams shut.”
“I hope that's not symbolic for feeling like being with me is like being in prison. I want you back with me and the girls.”
Shego smiled, “This was a good session. We will be back together. I'd like at least one more counseling session before I move back. And I think we should probably have several more sessions with Ruth or some professional counselor after that. But I feel good.”
“So, can we schedule a poker game on Saturday night?”
Shego hesitated, “You can schedule a game, but I don't think I should come. I don't know if my resolve could stand up to being there with you and the gang. I'm not sure I could leave.”
Kim saw that as a good sign, but decided not to press the poker game. “Okay. But if you're feeling better, can I ask you out for a date this Friday night?”
“A date? What do you have in mind?”
“Dinner and dancing.”
“I won't embarrass you on the dance floor?”
“You are doing much better. I promise to hold you close and tell you that you are a wonderful dancer.”
“Hmmm, and are you going to ply me with wine to lower my resistance?”
“And we'll stop for dessert as you take me home? You'll order something rich with chocolate and feed me two bites from your fork?”
“That's the plan.”
“You're hoping to get lucky, aren't you Kim?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I believe honesty is important in a relationship,” Shego grinned. “I think it should be rewarded.”
“So, will you reward me Friday night?”
“Well, I don't want to promise anything or you'll think I'm easy. But pack your toothbrush just in case. When are you going to pick me up?”
“How does eight-thirty sound?”
“It's a date.”
The two held hands as they descended the stairs and left the building. “Got time for a cup of coffee?” Shego asked. “It's just two blocks to C2K, and since you're paying for Friday night it's the least I can do.”
“I'm paying for Friday?”
“You asked me. You didn't say anything about going Dutch.”
They sat at their old booth in the back of the coffee shop. They had drunk as slowly as they could, but Kim had finished her double chocolate mocha and Shego her no-fat latte. Neither wanted to leave. Kim stretched her hand toward Shego, “I'm sorry for not trusting you. I'll try to do better.”
Shego took her hand, “And I'll try to be honest with you.”
“Is this going to work?”
Shego gently squeezed Kim's hand, “I hope so, Kim. I really hope so.”
--- The End ---