“With this latest advancement of mine,” Dr. Drakken cackled, rubbing his gloved hands together in maniacal glee as he watched the syringe fill from the tube running to it, multiple cylinders and vials pouring out their essence into it, to be condensed and mixed along the way. “I shall be truly unstoppable in my quest to take over the WORLD!”
“Mmm, yeah.” Shego seemed highly unimpressed, sprawled in a nearby chair with her feet propped up on a lab table, an issue of 'Evil Sidekick Quarterly' in her hands the way other women might treat a Cosmo. “Doncha mean 'with this latest advancement of DNAmy's'?”
Drakken growled quietly, tossing a glance over his shoulder. “Quiet, Shego! It's not about who does the busywork, it's about who puts the science to its best use!”
“Yuh-huh.” Shego turned a page. So, -so- unimpressed.
“Aha! It's ready!” Drakken snatched the syringe off of its holder and affixed the needle, then brandished it dramatically, as if posing with it for a statue in the villain hall of fame. Maybe he was. “Now, with this, I shall turn my henchman into an unstoppable engine of destruction! No one shall stand in our way, not even… KIM POSSIBLE!”
“Well, you have fun with that,” Shego replied offhandedly.
“… That henchman is you,” Drakken said flatly, letting his arms drop as he turned a bland gaze on Shego.
That actually got her to look up from her magazine. “Okay, first off, I'm your sidekick. Your sidekick who's not paid nearly enough for what she puts up with, but that does not make me a henchman, lackey, goon, or anything else of that variety. Second, 'no cloning' clause, remember?”
“Awwww, Shego!” Drakken danced in place a bit with frustration, then thrust his hands downward. “This isn't cloning! This is an entirely different kind of playing God!”
“Well, you just play your game over there,” Shego replied evenly, gesturing in a random direction.
“…” Drakken eyed Shego for a moment, then smiled beatifically, or as close as someone blue, unattractive, and scarred could manage. He tucked his hands behind his back and sauntered towards Shego. “Oh, all right then, Shego. If you don't want the power to whup on Kim Possible with ease…”
“Got it,” Shego insisted, though she glared a bit harder at the magazine's pages.
“Why, then I'll just use the subject I brought in here for it. Right over there.” Drakken pointed off to the side.
She didn't know why she did it. Sheer curiosity at who would be stupid enough to listen to what her employer had to say. The only way the irony could have been more complete is if she'd wound up looking into a mirror, because as soon as her head turned, she felt the needle jab her arm. She yelped and whirled, smacking Drakken across the laboratory with one good punch, then looked down at her arm. The syringe was still sticking out, the plunger all the way down.
“Drakkeeeeen!” Shego snatched the needle out of her arm and glared at the blue scientist, who was picking himself up out of the remnants of some test tubes. “What did you just do?! I better not turn fuzzy!”
“Oh, calm down, Shego!” Drakken brushed glass off his coat, then smirked at Shego. “It will just enhance you, not change you into something else entirely!” He paused, then tapped his chin. “At least, that's what I think it does. It said 'augments human DNA', and that just means to make better, not change, right?”
Shego snarled, then whirled and stalked out of the room. She made her way through several hallways, destroying a few synthodrones along the way, and that helped take at least a little of the edge off. She didn't like being screwed with, messed with, or “augmented” without her permission, that was for damn sure. Still, destroying a few of Drakken's drones… and that Glamour Shots photo of himself he liked so much that was hanging outside his room… helped take at least a little of the edge off by the time she got back to her room.
Just as she was about to turn on the computer to rewrite her contract to include a 'no genetic tampering' clause and a much, much higher retainer, a wave of dizziness washed over her. Well, that wasn't strictly accurate. It was more like a real wave had smashed itself against the full length of her body, enough like it that Shego actually staggered backwards as if she'd really been struck.
Ever since she'd been imbued with her powers, she'd already been faster, stronger, more agile and more durable than the average human. But right now her body felt like she'd been pushing herself hard with no rest for about four days straight. Every single muscle she knew about and a few that she didn't think of much was throbbing with a dull, tired ache that was painful. In a few places, it wouldn't have been debilitating. As it was, she barely had time to stagger towards her bed and get enough momentum going that when she collapsed, it was onto the mattress.
She dragged herself the rest of the way forward, grabbing handfuls of sheets and yanking herself an agonizing foot and a half so that her legs weren't dangling off the edge, the sheets pulled away at the top and leaving the pattern of the mattress visible. But she was beyond caring, and just let her head fall against the pillows, body shuddering. She tried to just let herself pass out, but the ache of her body, the way her heart had begun racing as if it would try to escape, all of it kept her awake, until she thought she'd have to suffer through the full change of whatever Drakken had shot her up with.
But finally, mercifully, unconsciousness claimed her, letting her fall down into a roiling darkness where she was free from pain and responsibility, but where she could lose herself if she didn't struggle with all she had.
She was suffocating, trapped. She tore at what was binding her, lashed out at her surroundings, trying to get free. After a bit of tearing, she felt less confined, but now she was hungry. Meat. Food. Hungry.
She ran, ran towards where some part of her knew food was. Something warm, somethings moving, but didn't smell like food, didn't smell like meat. She tore through them because they were in her way, and she had to hurry.
Yes, here she knew there was food. She pulled hard on what was keeping her from it, and tore through what was inside. Plants, hard things that smelled strange, but finally there, beneath a thin layer of something that was thin and tore like skin but wasn't, she could smell it, needed it. She tore open the strange clear skin and fed. It was cold, no blood flowing, just cold juices of the meat spattering across her, but it didn't matter, she was too hungry for it to matter.
She found two more feedings of meat, tore and ripped until her stomach couldn't hold any more, until it threatened to reject what she'd eaten already. Now she needed the closeness, needed to know she was safe while she slept and regained strength. She prowled forward, instinctively finding a dark place, enclosed place. The thing at the front moved when she touched it, and after a moment she grabbed it and yanked it closed. Dark. Peaceful, close, warm dark.
Shego groaned quietly as she woke up. She had a headache, a stomachache, and cramps in various parts of her body. And it wasn't even that time of the month. She opened her eyes, and then wondered why the hell it was so dark. As her eyes quickly readjusted, she realized she was laying on the floor of the pantry, amidst scattered boxes of macaroni and cheese and cans of soup.
'What the hell?' Shego sat up, rubbing her head, then realized that there was a distinct feeling of movement at her chest that she shouldn't be feeling, if she'd slept in her jumpsuit. She glanced down, then quickly laid an arm across her apparently bare chest before struggling to her feet and shoving the door open.
She winced a little as the kitchen lights hit her, then stared, first at the kitchen, then down at herself.
The door of the refrigerator was hanging mostly off, barely kept attached by one broken hinge. It had apparently been that way long enough for the fridge's motor to burn out, as there was a large puddle of water and other substances, with what looked like melted ice cream dripping down from the bottom of the freezer door. The contents of the fridge itself had apparently already been scattered around, the shelves crumpled in disarray, things thrown around the entire kitchen, with several store containers for what was probably three pounds of hamburger and a steak or two laying flopped in the forefront.
Shego's own state was perhaps even more disturbing. Her bodysuit was in tatters, having been torn at almost anywhere it was near a joint or pressed particularly tightly. The tear along the front looked like it had started at the collar and just been so forceful that most of the front of the garment had been removed, too. Her bare breasts were covered with what, from the smell, was probably dried meat juice, and from the color and other smells, had mixed somewhat with the drying synthodrone ooze that was spattered all over her. Dammit, it was even in her hair.
“Okay, this is getting out of hand.” Shego scowled, grabbing an apron from the back of the pantry door and tying it on. It was one of Drakken's, and had embarrassingly pink lettering that said 'Kiss the Mad Scientist' on the front, but stupid apron loss of dignity was a lesser evil than show the world your tits loss of dignity. “I think Dr. D and I need to have a long, violent talk.”
Shego stayed in the shower for quite some time, wanting the hot water to ease away the lingering aches in her muscles. It never quite did, though. This feeling reminded her of growing pains. Her body had developed quickly not very long after the meteor had affected her, as if she'd gone through one long, steady growth spurt that had lasted for years. When she'd been allowed to go back to school, she'd been the only one in sixth grade who was as tall as the teacher and better-endowed. Other girls had been wearing training bras, she was figuring out which B-cup bra didn't look too flashy in the locker room. It had been embarrassing enough that she'd finally acquiesced to her parents' repeated begging that she just stick to private tutors.
She was far beyond being humiliated by stares, glares, and jealous teasing from other girls, but she was not looking forward to another nineteen months of muscle aches. If Drakken had set something like that off, she was going to be most displeased.
Of course, “growing pains” might be the least of things she had to worry about.
The green-skinned woman sighed, worrying her lower lip gently. Then she yelped and stopped, touching her fingers to her mouth and then holding them up. The blood was already thinning in the indirect mist from the shower's spray, but it was there. Shego opened her mouth and slid a finger in, running the fingertip along her molars and forward. Even before she got there, she could feel the sharp length brushing over the rest of her finger.
She quickly shut the shower off and piled out, not bothering with a towel or trying to make the bathroom mirror clear up. Instead she went right to the mirrored front of her closet door, water streaming off of her naked body and soaking into the carpet. She tilted her head back and opened her mouth, twisting to try and get a good look.
She looked like she was ready to star in a really weird vampire movie. Others of her teeth had elongated and sharpened as well, besides her canines… the teeth just behind them, and to a lesser extent the two teeth on the bottom that matched them. But her canine teeth had become sharp and curved enough to truly qualify as fangs. She closed her mouth and used a finger to pull her lips open enough to look. The fangs were just long enough to settle over the teeth underneath them, without completely hiding them or digging into her gums.
“… Getting -seriously- pissed now.”
Even the emotionless synthodrones somehow knew it was time to get out of the way as Shego came storming into the lab. Dr. Drakken whirled, staring at his sidekick as she stalked towards him, green eyes almost literally flashing.
“What the hell did you do to me?!” she growl as she came to stand face-to-face with him.
“Really, Shego, it's just a little genetic augmentation. I was doing some further reading, and even though this is the first use of it, it's really only supposed to help you be a bit faster, stronger, all that, without changing you too much. It's just… augmentation!”
“If you say 'it's just augmentation' one! More! Time!” Shego grabbed the front of Drakken's coat, twisting her fingers in it to make sure she had a good grip. The way his eyes were bugging, she could tell that maybe she'd nicked him a bit under there with the pointed fingertips of her gloves. Good. “Did you ever think that there might be side effects?”
“Well, it did mention some possibility of minor, harmless side effects,” Drakken stammered nervously, too scared to lie for his own good.
“And did you ever think,” Shego continued with a snarl, her new fangs showing and causing Drakken to pale to a sort of watercolor blue shade. “That since my DNA's already been mutated once, it might mean there was a BIG possibility for side effects?!”
She lifted him into the air, up to the full extension of her arms. It was easy. Too easy. He felt like he was made of moving, wriggling Styrofoam. Somehow, Shego was guessing she could hold him like this for a good, long time, if she wanted to.
“I'll confess, that one skipped my mind,” Drakken squeaked.
Shego growled again, but this time it wasn't just in her voice. It came from somewhere deeper inside her, down in her chest, vibrating up through her throat and curling her lips. And suddenly, she could smell how afraid Drakken was. The fear filled her nose, not like anything she'd smelled before, just base, panicked fear. And it smelled good.
She took a long, deep breath through her nose. The fear was almost like a solid thing, sliding down the back of her throat, washing back into her mouth some, and then it wasn't just smell, it was taste. She could taste the scent of his fright on her lips, touching her tongue. Her breathing quickened, and with each breath more of the smell and taste washed into her. Her nipples were hard, her arms were trembling, but not with the effort of holding him up.
Food. He smelled like food. She wanted to throw him down, rip off the clothes, bare him helpless and open to her, and taste his fear as she sank her teeth into him.
Drakken swallowed hard, watching as Shego's pupils dilated and her breathing quickened. She was giving him a very odd look, and for some reason that alone was making him have difficulty controlling his bladder. “Um… Shego… are you alright?”
Shego suddenly dropped Drakken, giving a slight shove as she did to keep him from landing on his feet. She turned away, gritting her teeth, feeling her fangs lightly brush against each other. She hugged herself, fighting to keep her body from shaking, and losing. The smell of fear in her nose and the taste of it in her mouth had faded, leaving her with something sour, like the taste of being sick.
“… Undo it…” Shego murmured, not looking at Drakken. Then she said a word that she never would have used, if she wasn't so goddamn frightened of herself. “… Please.”
Drakken stared up at Shego, then nodded mutely. After a second, realizing she wasn't looking, he cleared his throat and said, “Certainly, Shego. I'll get right on it.”
Shego nodded once, then walked, very carefully, towards the door to the room. She paused next to a synthodrone, and muttered to it, “Fix the fridge, and restock it with steaks.” Then she left, hunching in on herself. For some reason, the black ocean that she'd seen before in her dreams seemed to be lapping at her toes, even though she was still awake.
She'd torn up the bed pretty badly when she'd left to go on her little kitchen raid last night. The sheets were goners, and the mattress had some pretty bad scratches in the cloth outer layer, but it would pull through. Sadly, she'd ripped open one of her favorite pillows, the one that fit her head just right. So, sweeping up stuffing into the ruined sheets, Shego prepared to go right back to bed.
Sure, she could pace around the lab and make sure Drakken stayed on the job. But the memory of wanting to tear off his clothes so she could feel him naked and writhing under her as she ate him was still a little too strong in her memory to want to be anywhere near him. And since sitting around worrying only seemed likely to get her all worked up again, her best bet seemed to be sleep.
She put on new sheets, then stripped out of her bodysuit and just left it on the floor as she climbed under the covers. Usually she wore pajamas, but most of those were fairly nice ones that she liked, and if she went all nuts again, she didn't want to tear them up. She had to spend a few moments messing with the pillows, with her favorite gone, but finally found a way that was comfy and settled down, closing her eyes.
Lying down, closing her eyes, made it easier to feel the deep ache in her whole body. Growing pains, she'd compared them to. Close enough. She was one tough bitch, but it was a fight not to be frightened of what she could literally feel happening to her. Eventually, she got herself calmed down just enough to sleep…
… and plunged deep into the black water. It wasn't new water, she'd known this ocean for a long time. It was inside of her, always had been. She didn't know when she'd first begun to dream of it, but once she had, she felt like she'd known it. It hadn't always been an ocean. A puddle, a pond maybe. Then it had grown, and grown. All the anger, rejection, fear, violence, it had all filled it up until it was this, this sea of black feeling, blotting out everything else.
She'd convinced herself long ago that she liked it. It was -her- ocean, it kept her afloat, it kept her away from who and where she didn't want to be. But now, ever since the injection, it was roiling, crashing, like there was some invisible storm driving it, sending the water smashing over her head and threatening to drown her. To pull her down into the depths, to quench the fire that was her self.
And now, as Shego struggled against the black water, tried to keep her head above it, she realized she was not alone in the ocean.
It slid through the water, glowing like some great neon fish in the black, the darkness muddying its shape. But it drew closer, and closer, bright, green, the water waving glowing fur and stroking across glowing scales. And it coiled around her, and sank in its claws, and sank in its teeth, and Shego screamed a soundless scream as its weight began bearing her down, down into the black depths.
“Shego?!” Drakken stared as he opened the door of Shego's room and heard her howl as if being tortured. His eyes were wide as he looked at her in the bed, writhing and jerking, her back arching so hard it seemed impossible that it didn't snap. The covers had been thrown aside, and her naked body literally dripped sweat, as if someone had doused her with several buckets of water. She twisted, her back still arched, and screamed again.
Dr. Drakken was not a brave man. He was, in fact, a coward. But a secret that he kept carefully hidden was that, deep down, he shared a trait with a certain blonde sidekick whose name he could never remember. And that was that when someone he cared about was in trouble, he could suddenly find inner wells of strength and courage. And so, digging deep into his inner self, Drakken summoned up his meager supply of bravery and dashed forward.
He leapt onto the bed, Shego's nudity unimportant in the face of trying to help her. He knew that the way she was thrashing around, she was going to hurt herself, and he tried to pin her down, stop her back from arching so dangerously, tried to pin her wrists down. She struggled against him, and he felt that incredible strength that had infused her body. But she wasn't conscious yet, and he had a good position, so he thought that he might just be able to hold her down until she could wake up or calm down.
And then her eyes snapped open.
The brilliant green had faded, if that was the word for it. It was now more like a green-tinged yellow. The pupils were wide, dark slits that narrowed as she apparently fixed her gaze on Drakken, her lips pulling back in a snarl that had none of her snark or anger behind it, just animal hatred.
Trying to attack her. It was trying to attack her, even though it smelled like fear and meat. She snarled and snapped, jerking up, but it was holding her down, trying to restrain her. Her anger mounted, mingling with panic at feeling restrained. She twisted and jerked, snapping, trying to get at it, trying to stop the thing attacking her.
Her fangs tore through cloth and sank into flesh, and she heard a yowl of pain, tasted trickles of blood in her mouth. She remembered the feeling, the heat, of pouring anger and power into her hands, using it to attack. But this time, she knew to channel the fierceness, the drive to attack, into her mouth, and it worked, it was good. There was a feeling as much as a taste of bitterness. The attacker made a sound like a gurgling scream and started to jerk, stopped being able to restrain her. She shoved it aside, threw herself away from it, landed hard on the ground. She heaved great breaths, trying to find some calm, trying to realize what was happening to her.
Slowly, her pupils contracted, becoming small round points, the yellow disappearing under the deeper color of green. Shego took deep, deliberate breaths, staring at the carpet, staying on all fours for the moment. 'What the hell just happened?'
She heard a sound, like someone jerking around on the bed, and pushed herself up, staring. Dr. Drakken was spasming in place, his eyes wide open, foam flecking his lips. Before she could even say anything, he went still, the expression of pain and terror slackening but staying noticeable on his face, his body seeming to tighten.
“Dr. D?” Shego slowly crawled up onto the bed, staring down at her employer. She reached out to touch his shoulder, and hesitated as she saw the torn cloth on his upper arm, and the bite marks that looked like they probably matched her new fangs. Still, Shego put her hand on his shoulder and shook, hoping to get a reaction. “Dr. D? Dr. Drakken?” He didn't move right. Too stiff, like a board, like all his muscles were still seized. “… Drew?” she whispered, her voice hoarse and tight.
Slowly, Shego put her head against Drakken's chest, and listened. Nothing. Not the faintest murmur of a heartbeat or of breath being drawn. She stayed there, hoping for anything, any slightest sign, but all she felt was the warmth under her cheek slowly lessening.
“Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.” Shego pushed herself up, shaking her head in denial of the truth, of everything, of the entire last two days. Tears began streaking down her cheeks, sliding through the oily fear sweat already on her skin. She'd killed before, but she wasn't a killer. She certainly didn't want this. Never this.
Shego shoved herself away from Drakken's body, a sob tearing from her body as she scrambled off the bed, stumbling, hasty and clumsy as she yanked on the discarded bodysuit, forgetting all about the gloves and boots, and racing barefoot down the hall. She pelted down the hallways, letting memory more than thought lead her to the garage bay. She threw herself into the hovercraft, and began working the controls with such urgency that some of the plastic cracked in her hands.
Part of it was that she had to get away. Had to get away from what she'd just done, as if by fleeing the scene of it she could forget it had happened, that she had been the one who had done it. She half wished she were that delusional, that she could trick herself, make herself think it hadn't been her, that she was going off to avenge his death right now. 'Don't worry, Dr. D, I'll get the bastard that did this!' But it was her, and that thought never left her mind, even panicked as she was.
Part of it was that she had to get help. There was no one on her side she could go to. No one who wouldn't, for an absolute certainty, turn on her, use her, try to find some way, not to stop what was happening to her, but probably accelerate it, use it. Make her into their animal, their killer. Most of them weren't cold-blooded murderers, but when you could have something more evil than you do it at your beck and call, why worry about it?
She needed one of the good guys. And she knew exactly where she had to go, who she had to see. The night was dark, and rain was pelting her. Almost by reflex, she turned her head, opened her mouth, started to chastise Drakken for thinking an open-air hovercraft was so cool, before the realization that she was never going to snap sarcasm at him again hit her. She was never going to snark at him again, because she'd killed him.
She shook her head, swallowing back more sobs, trying to focus. But the sadness, the guilt, welled up inside her, fed the panic, the fear, made her heart beat faster. And suddenly her vision went all funny. She was seeing the hovercraft, but not properly, more like she was seeing the parts of it that had electricity or were hot or made noise, but it was all confused, like none of it was quite all there. And she couldn't see a damn thing out beyond the hovercraft other than a confused mishmash of input. With a yowl of surprise and pain at the sensory shift and near overload, Shego yanked the controls wildly, trying to get away from her pain.
The front of the hovercraft dug into the ground, and she went spilling out, tumbling wildly, hearing as much as feeling ribs break, feeling a sting more than pain as something danced across her hairline and opened up her skin. She came to rest on her face, lying dazed on the ground, and felt the heat of the hovercraft exploding wash over her back. She had to be gone, had to get to where she was going, before anyone came. Before she was stopped, or before she killed someone else who made the mistake of trying to help her up.
Shego shoved herself up, managed to get to her feet, and rushed off into the night, pain and that all-over ache making her move jerkily, as if her muscles didn't quite know how they were supposed to work anymore. Her bare feet passed over soaked grass, wet concrete. She could see again, but not very well, blood stinging in her eyes and blurring her vision.
It seemed like she walked hundreds of miles, probably more like five. Shego staggered up the steps, slumped against the door, and pounded her fist against it. She actually felt lucky she was exhausted, since it only dented the wood instead of cracking it or breaking through it. The green-skinned woman managed to push herself back a little as the door began to open, and almost fell, catching herself against one of the porch's banisters.
Dr. Anne Possible blinked at Shego, her eyes already widening at the sight of her, clothes barely on, feet bare, her entire body smeared with mud, blood streaming down her face, fangs visible between her parted lips as she panted for breath.
“Shego.” Yes, that was the name. She'd met her when she was subbing as Kim's sidekick. The girl had seemed rather saucy and cheeky, but not that bad, for a megalomaniac's assistant. “What's wrong? Are you alright?” It was a silly question, she obviously wasn't alright, but doctor instincts overrode the real question of 'What are you doing here?'
“Help… me,” Shego rasped, her tone pained, her body trembling. Her voice felt thick on her tongue, like some kind of sour syrup that she could barely spit out, sticking to the awkward pointed teeth. Then she fell backwards, tumbling, screaming as intense pain burst out in her hands, her fingers. She managed to land on her knees, her fingers twisting, curling.
“James! Call an ambulance! Kim!” Anne started forward, pausing for a moment to stare in horror as Shego's fingertips began to bleed, to split open. But only for a moment, before she started forward again, every intention of helping someone in pain.
“Don't… stay back,” Shego whimpered, shoving herself away and crab-scuttling backwards, away from the doctor. The image of Kim's mother came to her mind, twitching and frothing like Drakken had, and it chilled her.
And excited her.
The thing inside her rose up out of the black sea and wrapped a clawed hand around her, tried to drag her down to the water. And suddenly the scent of her own blood had her heart pounding harder than before, had her eager to grab at the vulnerable creature that was coming closer to her, to grab it and press it down into the mud beneath her, feel it struggle, hear it whimper as she put her teeth to it, into it, feel the blood wash her lips, hear it whimper as she conquered it and fed off its body.
Shego howled, lurching over onto her front and trying to drag herself away from the very woman she'd wanted help from, fighting her body's new impulses as much as fighting for control of her mind.
“Stay back, mom! Something's wrong with her!”
“Kiiiiiim… nooooo…” Shego rasped, as without any enhanced senses, she could sense the redheaded teenager drawing close. She knew that walk, that sound, that feel of her well enough. And she knew that Kim would try to pull her close, put an arm around her to hold her down, try to figure out what was wrong. And that if she was restrained, the monster would come out and Kim would die.
Shego struggled, bucked as Kim kneeled on the ground, put an arm around the green-skinned woman's shoulders, pulled her back against her lap, held her in an attempt at comfort as much as restraint, odd as it seemed. Shego whimpered, feeling herself wrapped in the beast's grip, its coils all around her. She slipped down in the water, and the beast was left to inhale, to take in the scent of this one that was daring restrain her. Mouth opened, fangs flashed. Scent of fear, only a little, but it was there, and scent of…
Her mouth closed, as she inhaled again, pressed closer. This wasn't an enemy that was holding her, this was… playmate.
Playmate helped you practice to fight, helped you practice to hunt. Playmate to sleep beside you at night. Playmate that you trusted not to hurt you, not for real. Playmate is part of pack. Part of litter. Of clutch. Doesn't matter.
She curled up in her playmate's embrace, shivering. She'd been so scared, so hurting. But it was all going to be okay, now. She pressed her face against her playmate's body, letting herself tremble, let herself mewl. Hadn't she come here for something? This must be it. This must be exactly it.
She felt something else close by, and then a little sting in her arm. She bucked a little, tried to turn to look, but everything was getting indistinct, unclear. The cold of the rain stopped bothering her, and she was warm. It was okay, she was with her playmate, she'd be fine.
Kim stared in the window of the observation room, still feeling shell-shocked. She didn't know what to make of what had happened with Shego's actions tonight. The green-skinned villainess had shown up on her doorstep, scared her mother half to death with writhing and howling like a crazed animal. Her eyes had been like some kind of cat's, and those fangs were definitely new, too. She'd jerked around like some beast in a frenzy, but almost as soon as Kim had touched her, she'd calmed down, curled up like a big kitten whose mother had found it, and that had given Kim's mother time to dope her up, get her to the hospital, so that hopefully they could find out what the heck was going on.
Dr. Possible emerged from the room, shaking her head. “She's conscious. And she wants to talk to you, Kim.” The older redhead paused, then continued, an uncomfortable look on her face and an almost pained tone in her voice, as if she didn't like having to say what she was about to about a patient. “She could be dangerous, so don't get too close to the bed.”
“Alright, Mom.” 'No big' just didn't seem appropriate in this situation. This seemed like it might be very much a big. She went into the room without further comment, heard the door close behind her, and just looked at Shego, in her hospital gown and under the thin sheet. The restraints had been adjusted to not get in the way of her IV, but there was something more creepy about the way the chains of them emerged from under the sheet at the bottom of the bed, like some combination of something that was supposed to be bad, restraints, and something that was supposed to help you get better, a hospital.
“Hey there, Pumpkin.” Shego was paler than usual, and the smirk she tried to give was a paler version of itself, as well, more a wan grin than anything else.
“Shego. What happened?”
“… Dr. Drakken's dead. I killed him.”
Kim blinked. Somehow, she'd always expected to hear those words from Shego. Some undercurrent of the true depth of the green-skinned woman's rage had said that one day, she'd step over the line from comic book supervillain to real, dangerous bad guy, and that the first casualty would be Drakken. She'd always expected, or feared those words, but had never expected them to sound so utterly sad.
Shego was staring at Kim, guilt, loss, remorse, sadness on her face, her eyes glistening in the low light of the hospital room. Kim could have asked why, but that look made her know she didn't have to. It hadn't been intentional. Shego was not the sort to hide what she was feeling, what she thought. If she'd intended to do it, she might be grim, or sour, or even, Kim's worst fear, smug. But all that was there was mourning, regret.
“What happened?” she asked, softly, surprised at the sadness in her own voice.
“He injected me with something that was supposed to augment human DNA with animal genes. The id-…” Shego closed her eyes briefly, and it forced two tears out, let them run down her face, before she managed to continue. “He didn't know what it would do, didn't think about how I was altered already. It started doing things to me. I think he saw me having some kind of attack in my bed, and tried to help me. I bit him, and… I think it poisoned him.”
“Like a snake?” the words were blurted out before Kim could stop them. Sometimes she wondered if tact under stress was one of those things that the legendary Kim Possible -couldn't- do.
“Yeah.” Shego smiled, bitterly. “Just like a snake. A dangerous snake slipped in somebody's bed.”
“You didn't mean to. It's not your fault.” Kim almost added that it was Drakken's own fault, but that seemed wrong. It might be true, but it would hurt Shego to hear it. Matter of fact, it hurt Kim's own feelings a little just to think it.
“I'm turning into an animal, princess. I can't hold it back.” Shego lowered her head, averting her eyes. “… Just promise me something. Promise me as the good guy, okay?”
Kim blinked. “Promise you what?”
“Don't let them just put me in a cage, to be poked and prodded at, or used. If I become that much of an animal… just be merciful and put me to fucking sleep.”
The redhead's eyes widened. “Shego, I… I ca-”
“Please, Kim.” Shego raised her eyes, gazing earnestly at her rival, saw the shock rock her. “I know I've never done anything to deserve a favor, but no one deserves a life like that. Just put me down instead of putting me in a cage and letting what's left of my humanity drain away.”
Kim swallowed hard, feeling her gut wrench just a little. But after a few seconds, she nodded. “… Alright. I promise.”
“Thanks, pumpkin.” Shego slumped back against the pillow, closing her eyes. “Could you give me a few? I'm pretty tired.”
“I bet. Um, talk to you later. Call me if you wanna reach me.” Kim turned and walked out of the room, closing the door and just staring at it for a moment, before turning to walk down the hall and almost bumping into her mother, who was talking with several other people in white coats.
“Oh, Kim, good. These are some geneticists I contacted. Now, you told me once that Shego was altered by a meteorite when she was younger, right?”
“Uh, yeah.” Kim nodded. “That's the story her brother told me.”
“How old was she, do you know?”
Kim pondered, trying to remember the story. “She must have been pretty young. She was still hanging out with her brothers in their treehouse.”
Dr. Possible exchanged worried glances with the other doctors, causing Kim to frown.
“Out with it, what's the sitch?”
“… That's a bit troubling, Kim. If she's had her DNA altered this long, her body's grown up adjusting to it. There's probably no way she could ever be 'normal' again.”
“That's no big, though. I mean, it'd be great if we could disarm her and stuff, but we just need to get rid of the new stuff, don't we?”
“It's not that simple,” one of the other doctors said, a bit gruffly. “If she had normal DNA, it would still be extremely difficult, this alteration isn't like anything any of us have ever seen before. But whatever's been done to her is mixing with this altered DNA of hers, further changing it. She's not going to stop this transformation until it's run its course.”
“…” Kim stared at him, then lowered her eyes and said, in a quiet voice, “Mom, could I talk to you alone?”
“There is much about this case we need to discuss, we do not have time for family conferences,” the gruff doctor snapped.
Anne Possible turned a gaze that had cowed some of the more precocious or powerful people on the planet on him, and he balked slightly. Then he summoned up a scowl from somewhere, and muttered, “This is a genetics case, not neurosurgery.”
“I admitted her. She's my patient. Is that very clear?” Dr. Possible said quietly, evenly. Kim remembered that tone. She'd heard it only once in her life, when she was young and she'd done something very, very bad. She owed a lot of her current desire to lead an upright and heroic life to that tone of voice.
“… Clear. For now.” The other doctors turned and stalked off, though a bit more quickly than someone at ease with the situation would have.
“… Mom.” Kim swallowed hard. “Shego's so scared that it makes me terrified.”
Dr. Possible blinked, but said nothing, letting her daughter continue.
“She may be a bad guy, but she's like the strongest person I know, at least as far as her will goes. But she's so scared of what's happening to her that she just…” Kim swallowed again, and raised her hands to rub her upper arms, as if she were cold. “She just asked me to make sure that if she lost her mind, and people tried to keep her in a cage and study her, that she died. … She's so scared she asked me to kill her.”
Anne closed her eyes, and just stood there. There had been more than one patient that had asked for her help with a similar situation. Shego's was worse, perhaps… the young woman knew that her sickness meant she might kill others, not just lose her mind. But right now, Dr. Possible's thoughts were on her daughter. You lost something the first time someone asked you to help them because death would be considered a mercy, lost something to seeing someone that desperate, that hurting, that dying was honestly the better option.
She didn't blame Shego, because she'd seen plenty of people in similar situations. Alzheimer's patients, terminal cancer, burn victims. People who literally had no hope of ever having a life of anything but pain and hurting those around them just by being alive. No, she didn't blame the young woman suffering in there, bound to the bed because she might go crazy and slip into an animal state. She didn't know if she blamed anyone, she just hated it.
“Kim.” Anne opened her eyes and fixed them on her daughter, putting both hands on Kim's shoulders. “I promise you, no one is ever going to turn Shego into a test subject. Not as long as I have anything to say about it.”
Kim smiled, despite the tears in her eyes. In spite of the situation, Anne couldn't help but cherish that smile. It was the smile of someone that still had utter trust in their parents, in the power they held not because they were a skilled surgeon or brilliant scientist, but just because they were Mommy or Daddy. One day, the world would take that smile away from Kim, and Anne just hoped she wasn't alive for that, selfish as that hope was.
“It might be helpful if you could contact her family, and let them know what's going on. Having some more insight into the alterations caused by that meteorite could be invaluable.”
“If you say so, I'll do my best. Just as a warning, Shego and her brothers don't get along very well.”
“Kim sweetie, if some sibling rivalry is the worst she has to put up with this week, she'll count herself very lucky.”
“Good point,” Kim murmured, a bit of wry tone sneaking into her voice. She took a deep breath, then nodded. “I'm gonna give Ron a call, then get ahold of Wade to arrange a ride to Go City.”
Anne blinked. “You can't just call them…?”
“Nope. I'm not one of their villains.”
Kim's mother opened and closed her mouth several times, as if searching for the correct response to that, then finally simply gave a mute nod.
“Right. Pretty much what I thought myself. I'll be back as soon as I can.”
“Whoa. So Drakken's dead.”
Kim nodded, not looking at Ron, not wanting to think about or deal with whatever emotions he had, too busy trying to figure out her own. She shifted on the seat where she had her legs pulled up, green eyes fixed on the scenery whipping past.
“Should we… I dunno, shouldn't we do something, like go check? Or recover his body?”
Kim winced a little. She hadn't even thought about that. Drakken's mother… someone would have to tell her. Obviously she'd want to bury her son, and someone needed to make sure she'd be able to, instead of learning that some of his synthodrones had thrown him out with the day's trash.
“I… yeah, guess so,” Kim said quietly. “But we can't worry about that now. We need to worry about Shego.”
“Um, Kim, you know I'm always for helping somebody, but this -is- Shego, and she's more dangerous than ever. Maybe we should just-”
The blonde boy stopped speaking immediately, mouth still open, as his lifelong friend gave him such a dirty look that he briefly wondered how it hadn't reduced him in height a few inches. He cleared his throat, then turned to a rack of guitars. “So, this tour bus should get us to Go City pretty soon, huh!”
“Look, don't touch,” Kim chastised absentmindedly, looking back out the window.
“Awww. What's the point of being on KICK's tour bus if you can't manhandle all their stuff?!”
Anne Possible sat at her desk, nervously tapping the end of a pen against her lips. Kim had left for Go City a little while ago, leaving Shego under Anne's protection. And it was looking more and more like “protection” was the right word for it.
The geneticists she'd originally called in for help were now banned from the hospital, with security having been alerted to their identities and to be on the watch for them. The moment phrases like “for study” had begun being added to phrases like “brain tissue sample”, she'd called a halt to things. Unfortunately, neither had gone quietly, making loud threats against her career, the hospital's reputation and existence, and one of them had added that he had contacts in GJ that would hear of the incident.
While Anne was worried about neither herself nor the hospital, it was entirely possible that such a high-profile geneticist did indeed have a way of getting in touch with Global Justice. From what she'd gleaned off of Kim's stories, Anne knew that the organization was likely to be quite no-nonsense in its handling of the situation.
It now seemed as if she was in a race against time, on multiple fronts. She had to track down reputable geneticists actually capable of helping before Shego's condition became worse in some way. She also had to get that help for Shego before the other scientists managed to interfere in some way.
At the same time, there was the very real possibility that Shego herself could become a danger to everyone in the hospital. And from all the young woman had said, in that case she wanted everyone protected from her, as permanently as necessary.
Anne had never been the sort to turn to drink to help settle her nerves, but she was beginning to wish she was one of those doctors who kept a bottle of scotch in their offices.
Instead, she'd had to resort to taking out a certain item she'd hoped she'd never have to actually keep on her person in the hospital. She'd been in the medical profession too long, seen things go bad on too many colleagues, to not have considered the need for such a thing. She'd just hoped she'd never actually find herself needing it.
“Come ON!” Kim shouted, pounding her fists against the massive doors of the Go Team tower. “It's not like you have anything else to do with your life, you big, pompous-!”
Ron just stood back and watched his longtime friend as she continued her verbal abuse of the absent Hego. He'd noticed in the bus that she seemed more distant and a bit more snappish than usual, but had attributed it to the shock that one of their villains was actually dead. But she just wasn't acting like herself, at this point. He'd rarely seen her willing to go on like this about anyone, except possibly her cousin, and considering that they were actually trying to get Hego to -help-…
“-and then you'll need a handle to get at it!”
“Whoa, whoa, Kim!” Ron rushed forward, grabbing Kim by the shoulders and hauling her back a bit as she pulled back one foot to deliver what looked like a very serious kick to the door. “You'll break your foot! Why don't you just call Wade and have him open it?”
Kim looked at him as if about to snap off an angry retort, then simply blushed and pulled out the Kimmunicator, trying to soften her glare as she tapped the buttons.
“Hey, Kim, what's up?”
“We need you to open up the Go Team headquarters, Wade.”
Wade waited for a moment, then blinked when no 'Please and thank you' seemed forthcoming. Shrugging, he turned slightly and began typing at one of his keyboards. “Kim, you do realize you're asking me to find a superteam's secret base, hack through whatever unknown and possibly impenetrable defenses they may have, and violate their personal space?”
“Look, if some birdbrained idiot can do it, so can you!” Kim replied with a frown.
Simply sitting and looking taken aback for a few moments, Wade finally replied, in a quiet voice, “Just making conversation while I did it. It's open.” And with that, he closed the link.
Some part of Kim realized that she had probably just damaged her relationship with one of her best, most constant, and most reliable friends, but at the moment she just felt too jumpy and driven to actually think about it. The doors were sliding open, and she strode forward between them, Ron scuttling after her.
“Hey! -Hey-!” Kim called, looking around as she walked through the base towards the central area. “Hego! Mego! Wego! Get out here!”
“Y'know, Kim, they're probably still not really super-ing much,” Ron began.
“Oh, c'mon, Hego probably hangs out here all the time,” Kim grumbled, stopping in the meeting room and turning around. “HEY! C'MON!”
Nothing but silence answered her, and Kim simply stood there fuming, before turning and slamming her hands down against the tabletop, letting her head hang forward, her hair falling over her shoulders and hiding her face.
“… Kim?” Ron stepped closer, hesitantly, reaching a hand out to rest it on his friend's shoulder. He almost jerked it back when he saw her tremble at the touch. “… Kim, talk to me…”
Kim swallowed heavily, another shudder running through her. “… Ron… she asked me to kill her.”
“Er… what?” Ron stared at his friend, not comprehending. In the back of his brain, he acknowledged that he really wasn't that stupid, he knew what she meant, his mind just didn't want to process it.
“She was… so scared.” Kim's fingers slowly curled in under her hands, the shaking of her body increasing. “So scared that she'd become an animal, or a test subject, that she asked me to make sure she died if it came to that.”
Ron said nothing, just trying to get himself used to the concept. Sure, he knew people who were sick sometimes wanted to die rather than keep being sick, it was almost impossible to live in the world and not know about the cases like that. But to have it be someone he knew, and for reasons like this.
“Uh, Kim, I'm sure we'll-”
“Ron!” Kim blurted out, interrupting him, though the word seemed as much a plea as anything. “You… you don't understand!”
“…” No quip, no bit of good-natured buffoonery was going to make this better. His voice quiet, Ron answered, “So make me understand.”
“Shego… she… she's always been so strong, and… and I knew I had to be that much stronger. If she was confident, I had to be more confident! Because that was how I won, as long as I could push myself to be just a bit more than her! As long as she thought she could win, it made me be SURE I could win! And as long as she wasn't scared… I couldn't be scared… but…”
Kim's voice died off in a small, choked sound, her shoulders jumping, a single tear falling to the tabletop beside her hand.
“But now she's terrified!” Kim's voice seemed weak, as if forced out around something harsh in her throat, tears streaked down her cheeks, collecting at her chin, a drop separating every so often to gently spatter on the table or her hand. “And -I'm- terrified even more! I don't know what to do, I don't know how to help, I'm just stumbling around! I…!” Kim shook her head, closing her eyes tightly. “I'm not the girl who can do anything! I can't do anything at ALL!”
“Kim,” Ron forced out, tears sliding down his own cheeks.
“Oh Ron!” Kim suddenly flung herself at her childhood friend, clinging to him as if she were drowning, sobbing against his shoulder. “I don't know why, but if she dies, I don't know how I'll live with myself!”
Ron just held her against him, trying his best to be strong, to be a man for her, to be the place where she could cry. But he couldn't stop his own tears, and he cursed under his breath as he rubbed the back of one gloved hand across his eyes.
“Halt, evildoers! Don't think you'll get away with-! … Oh.”
Kim and Ron both lifted reddened eyes towards where Hego was standing posed in the doorway, one finger pointed dramatically, a rather dumbfounded expression on his face as he cut himself off mid-posturing.
“It's you two. What are you doing in the Go Team headquarters, and what on Earth is wrong?”
Anne Possible was just finishing up the last of her paperwork, the content of some of it enough to push her beyond wishing she drank to wishing she smoked as well, when a nurse came pelting down the hall and into her office with such speed that he almost skidded and fell as he made the turn.
“Doctor Possible! One of those guys is back, and he bullied his way past security because of a couple of suits that are with him!”
Anne was on her feet and moving before the nurse had quite finished, taking long strides down the hallways in the near-run-but-still-a-walk that all doctors developed after a time. She indeed saw several security officers standing around outside of Shego's room, looking angry. Walking right past them, Anne burst into the room, where the pompous man that had talked down to Kim was looking at the restraints and discussing the best way to securely transport “the specimen”, a pair of towering, stony-faced men in blue suits and sunglasses flanking him. Shego was laying in bed, her skin the color of light green chalk on a sidewalk, staring at the geneticist and shaking all over. Though it could easily have been attributed to fear, the tightness of her muscles told Anne that it was likely also extreme self-restraint.
Slipping past them as they were just registering her presence, Anne placed herself squarely between the bed and the three men. “And just what do you think you're doing?”
“This person is a highly-wanted felon, Possible,” the geneticist huffed, reaching up and straightening his glasses with a self-important air. “Between that and the extensive modifications to her biology, it is perfectly within GJ's right to take her in for further testing.”
“She is -my- patient, and she is remaining signed into this hospital until we see fit to transfer her, and that will -not- be to you,” Anne said, her eyes narrowing. “And I will be perfectly happy to block any and all attempts by you or any organization you are associated with on the grounds that you're being investigated for malpractice and possible human rights violations.”
“Preposterous!” the man blustered, going rather maroon in the cheeks. “I'm not being-!”
“Correction. You weren't under investigation when you entered this hospital this morning. That's changed since you left it.”
The geneticist spluttered angrily, then gestured to the suited men. “You can't do anything to stop this, Possible!”
Everyone in the room went very, very still, even Shego. Though the geneticist seemed to have taken over her trembling for her, as he crossed his eyes to stare at the barrel of a shining chrome Glock.
“Anything's possible for a Possible,” Anne said coldly, her eyes narrowed.
“Y-… y-… you…” The geneticist swallowed heavily.
“I am holding a gun on you, yes,” the redhead replied evenly. “And before either of these fine gentlemen get any ideas, they might want to be aware of the fact that I've done surgery on submarines that were being depth-charged. It's in my file, boys, look it up. I have the reflexes to shoot you before they even clear leather, and even assuming they can draw down on me before I can turn my weapon on them, there's the matter of the two security guards behind them.”
Both GJ men turned their heads slightly, catching sight of the brown-clad security men pointing guns at their backs.
“Need anything else from us, ma'am?”
“No thanks, Jacob, you're great where you are,” Anne replied with a thin smile, her eyes and gun never leaving the shaking scientist in front of her. The smile disappeared like smoke, however, as she continued. “Let me be very clear. As her doctor, and as a mother, and as a human being, there is absolutely no way I am letting you lay so much as a finger on this young woman. If you press the issue, the only moving she will be doing is to a clean room as this one is scrubbed of your brains and sterilized. Am I understood?”
“You… you've just ended your career, Possible,” the man squeaked out, his bravado not quite covering up the smell of ammonia that was starting to filter into the room.
Anne tightened her finger a little on the trigger, and let him see her do it. “Am. I. Understood?”
He swallowed audibly, gave a small jiggle of his head as he considered nodding then seemed to think better of it, and finally said, “Yes. Understood.”
“Then take these two gorillas and get out of my hospital.”
The geneticist turned and went with his best attempt at not breaking into a flat-out run. The GJ men instead both raised their hands slightly, backing away from her before turning and filing out between the guards, who turned to follow them.
Sighing, Anne let the gun drop, her arm aching. She was glad he'd caved when he had, much longer and her hand would have started shaking. That wouldn't exactly have conveyed the position of strength she wanted.
“Damn, Doctor P. You're pretty badass,” Shego rasped behind her, smiling weakly.
“Well, you didn't think Kim got it from nowhere, did you?” Anne replied with forced cheer, turning back to Shego. “We'll get someone to come in and clean up in a moment, sorry about that. How are you feeling?”
“Hungry.” Shego closed her eyes tightly, voice getting just a bit fainter, as if she were using her strength for other things. “It… it got worse while they were here, and it's not going away.”
“Red meat, I'm guessing,” Anne said quietly.
“… Yeah.” Not opening her eyes, Shego gave the barest nod of her head. “… Raw.” The disgust was clear even in her quiet tone, threaded through with desperation.
“I'll have someone bring something in immediately,” Anne said briskly, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. “And then we'll just give you some private time.”
“Alright. Thanks.” Shego turned her head away, eyes gazing at the wall.
'Hurry, Kim,' Anne thought as she strode out of the room. She'd seen that look before in patients' eyes.
It was the look of someone whose hope was fading.
“Can't you fly this thing any faster?” Ron prodded, hopping up and down in place behind the pilot's chair.
“'Can't you fly this thing any faster?'” Mego mocked, wagging his head side-to-side, then bending lower over the controls.
“There there, chum,” Hego said in a friendly tone, patting Ron on the shoulder. “Don't be too hard on Mego. After all, it was our sister who was the most accomplished pilot. We'll be there soon all the same.”
“Ohhh, Mister High-and-Mighty steps in with the condescension!” Mego grumbled. “Doesn't mention that he can't fly it at all!”
“In any event,” Hego continued, as if his brother hadn't spoken. “Just have a seat and get some rest. We're going to do all we can to help our little sister.”
“Well, yeah, okay,” Ron acknowledged, rubbing the back of his head and turning around, walking back towards the passenger cabin.
He paused for a moment to gaze sympathetically at Kim, slumped against the chest-crossing straps of the seatbelts. He was mostly glad that she'd finally fallen asleep, he was starting to worry about how emotionally exhausted she was seeming earlier. Ron himself was just starting to get a sense of that, as the plain information of what was happening around him sank in and became real knowledge, starting to set off emotions, vague ones he wasn't even close to understanding. But they'd seemed much stronger for Kim, to the point that she'd been acting very much unlike herself.
In fact, now that he was starting to get a sense of what was happening, too, he heartily wished he could be as relaxed and unworrying as Kim was at the moment.
Kim gripped the sides of the little boat as it was tossed upon the black waves, leaning her body forward to try and keep herself balanced as the small craft seemed to rise up the side of an ebony wall of water, before it tipped to slide down the other side. She couldn't even understand how she could tell what was ocean and what wasn't, it was just black here… black water under black sky, and then her and her tiny boat made of white wood.
The only sound in the dark expanse was the crash of waves on water, the thump of water against the wood of her boat. It was eerie, to be adrift on this storming sea of intimidating black water, but without the howl of wind, without the patter of rain. Somehow, being left with no distraction from that dangerous-looking sea was worse than having to endure a full storm.
And then a single other sound invaded through the smash of waves on water and the thump of waves on wood.
Kim's head shot up, green eyes seeming to know just where to go to find that pale green speck amidst the black, the arms waving frantically, the waves crashing over her head.
“Shego!” Kim shouted back, standing up in the boat despite her precarious position.
“Kim!” Shego spluttered as a wave lifted her high in the air, started to carry her further away. “Kim, HELP!”
A moment ago she had been terrified of the water, would have been scared to even let it touch her. Now, without a second thought, Kim dove from the safe haven of her little white boat and into the blackness, plunging herself headlong into the roiling dark. Only as she felt its icy substance slide along her did she realize she was naked, that the water seemed to be trying to leech the warmth from every part of her bare body. But she didn't care, she had only one thought on her mind.
Shego needed her help.
Shego, one of the strongest and bravest people she'd ever met, needed her help.
Shego needed Kim Possible.
Kim fought the waves with every stroke of her arms, with every kick of her legs. The black tide as well as the soundless storm seemed to be trying to pull her away from Shego's struggling form, as if it were a sentient thing trying to keep them apart. But she wouldn't let it. She could do this.
She could do anything.
Her hand reached out, burst from the surface of the ebony waves, and wrapped around Shego's wrist, pulling the green-skinned woman close. Kim wrapped her arms around Shego, and the other girl did the same, both of them clinging to each other, kicking their legs to keep afloat. Shego's skin was so cold, as if she'd been in the water forever, as if there were no warmth there.
But as their naked bodies pressed together, clung together against the storm, Kim felt warmth rekindle in Shego's body, sparked by her own, that pale green skin slowly losing some of the edge of cold, in turn warming what Kim had lost in her swim.
“Kim,” Shego sobbed, seeming too overcome to get out more than that.
“It's okay, Shego, we'll be okay,” Kim enthused. Even as she tried to sound confident, she knew what she said was true. If the two of them were together, there was nothing that could stop them.
Then she saw a green glow slice through the water beyond.
Shego seemed to feel it more than see it, her eyes going wide, her head whipping back and forth. “No…”
“Shego, what is it?!”
“I… I don't…!”
Then the glow was there again, but not distant… it was coming from behind her. Kim felt scaly hands and wet-furred limbs wrap around her, interpose themselves between herself and Shego, something huge and inhuman trying to pull her away.
“Kim!” Shego screamed in fear, tightening her grip.
“I won't let go!” Kim shouted back, shaking her head wildly. She had no clue why she said it, or why it was the most important thing in the world right now, but she had to say it. “I won't let go of you, Shego!”
“Kim!” Shego's scream seemed to tear from somewhere deep inside of her. She pulled at the redhead frantically. “No! Let her go! You can't have her! Kim!”
Kim jolted against the belts as she came awake, her heart hammering in her chest, her hands flying to the straps and pulling at them in a panic.
“Whoa, Kim, snap out of it!”
Kim turned her head towards the voice, actually staring at Ron for a few seconds before her mind would calm down enough to recognize him. “… Ron?” her voice sounded shaky, unsteady, even in her own ears.
“You must've had-”
“-one heck of a nightmare!”
Kim turned, looking over at the red-and-black clad twins sitting across the compartment from her. She grinned at them wanly, trying to force herself to relax. At any other time, being reminded so strongly of her brothers would be annoying. Right now, anything even vaguely familiar was welcome.
“One heck of a -weird- nightmare,” she muttered, mostly to herself.
“This has you pretty rattled, huh?” Ron says quietly. “Um, since we've told Shego's brothers about this, maybe we should just let them help? I mean, you seem like you could use some more rest…”
“No.” Kim shook her head firmly. “I have to see this through. I just…” She narrowed her eyes determinedly. “I just need to buckle down and figure out what's running through my head. This is such a weird sitch, Ron… I just have to figure it out.”
“I hear ya, KP.” Ron gave a small nod, though the worried expression didn't leave his face.
'I will figure this out. Until then…' Kim's eyes hardened until they seemed to be carved of solid emerald, her fists tightening around the straps of her seatbelt. 'I'm not letting go.'
“What the heck?!” Ron called as he spotted the activity going on outside of Middleton General Hospital.
“Something seems amiss,” Hego commented, rubbing his strong chin thoughtfully.
“No, -really-?” Mego said with a sigh, rolling his eyes. “No -wonder- you're the leader!”
Carefully guiding the jet into a vertical landing in an empty stretch of the secondary parking lot, Kim, Ron, and Team Go piled out and made their way hurriedly towards and through the crowd, drawing close to a barricade where a news team had managed to wrangle enough free space to broadcast.
“-where a standoff has developed between a small contingent of doctors and security guards, who are apparently holding off armed men from an unknown government agency…”
Kim drew in a hard gasp.
“What is it?” Hego demanded, a little too loudly. “What's happened?!”
“Quiet,” Kim snapped, then tried to soften her tone as she continued in a whisper. “Global Justice must be trying to take Shego, and my mom won't let them.”
“Damn,” Mego growled under his breath. “We've gotta get in there. Okay, let's-”
“Wait,” Hego interrupted, in a strangely tight voice.
Everyone turned to look at him. Even under his mask, Kim could see the tightness around his eyes, the big man worrying his lower lip with his teeth like an unsure child.
“Oh, man! Not this!” Mego snarled. “Listen, you big palooka-!”
“Mego, stop,” Kim said quietly.
Something in her voice actually made the short-tempered, purple-hued man stop, and he settled into an uneasy silence, frowning. Kim stepped over in front of Hego, looking up at him. He looked down at her, silent, unsure.
“Hego. I know how you're feeling right now. Trust me, I feel it too, because Global Justice has usually helped and believed in me. They're good people.” The softness left her voice a little as she continued, some of that emerald hardness coming back to her eyes. “But this time, they're wrong. That's your sister in there. She may have done enough wrong things that they can take her away and lock her up, but this time, if they lock her up, they're going to cage her like an animal. They're going to poke her and prod her and test her, and all the while they're going to keep her caged.
“Shego was so afraid of that that she asked me to kill her rather than let that happen, let her lose her self and her mind as well as her freedom. I'm not going to do that, because I'm not going to let it happen. I, and anyone who wants to come with me, are going to make a plan. Then we're going to go in there, bust Global Justice up, and take Shego to safety. You can come with us and help, or you can decide that your sense of duty to the law means you can't. If that's so, I hope you'll just stay out of our way rather than try to stop us.
“Because whatever the law says, whatever she's done, that's your sister in there. That's your sister laying in a hospital bed, frightened and hurting, with the only people she can see willing to fight for her some strangers and one woman she barely knows. I'm going in there to show her different. What are you going to do?”
Hego closed his eyes and bowed his head, his shoulders slumping. Mego started to speak again, but Kim held up a hand, not looking away from the blue-clad man.
The sudden clarity that had gripped her did not allow her to be angry at him. Since he was a child, perhaps all his life, he must have felt himself devoted to law and order, to fighting for the forces of good, to opposing the forces of evil. And now he was being asked to turn his powers against those forces he had vowed to fight for, not against. To use violence against people whose job it was, normally, to defend the defenseless and safeguard lives. To perhaps start down a path that he could never step off of again… or at least step off of the path he had always dreamed of walking.
It was a lot to ask, even for his own sister.
Slowly, Hego's shoulders rose again, squaring themselves. He lifted his head, his jaw now set, his eyes opening to show that they were hard and fierce.
“Go Team, go,” he whispered.
“You truly do invite us to all the most interesting parties, Anne,” Dr. Manor said dryly from behind the cabinet they'd hauled over to provide cover near the doorway.
“Never let your colleagues grow bored of you,” Anne said brightly from where she was crouched to one side and below the shattered observation window, sliding a new clip into her Glock. “I try to keep things festive for everyone around me, you know that, Tim.”
“Festive's one word for it,” he murmured, firing a shot into the wall just ahead of where a GJ agent's head had been about to be, making the man scuttle backwards.
“Doctor P, I'm not worth this,” Shego murmured miserably from where she was curled up on the bed's mattress, which had been moved to the floor in one corner. Her voice was faint, as if it were fading away with the sun setting outside. “I… I can't take all of this, I can feel…” She swallowed heavily, but couldn't keep the panic or how close she was to sobbing out of her voice. “I can feel it all pressing in on me, trying to make me lose it again…”
“You just hold out a little longer, sweetie, it'll all be okay,” the redheaded surgeon said in a soft, soothing tone. Then she whipped upright and fired three times, the first two digging into the wall, the third tearing through the thigh of a GJ operative and burying itself in the wall beside the other two, the man giving a yowl and thudding to the floor, the other two who had been making the move with him forced to grab him by the arms and drag him back out of sight.
“Oh dear, I do hope I didn't hit anything that might make him bleed out,” Anne murmured with sincere worry as she dropped back into her crouch.
“I'm sure these guys brought their own medics with 'em,” one of the security guards commented.
“Still, I can't help but worry, I do hope they didn't just trust to standard medical kits, you wouldn't believe how substandard some of the thread is in those.”
Despite the throbbing, aching pain that filled her body and the sick feeling that swam through her mind, Shego gave a short, half-hysterical laugh. The apple really didn't fall far from the tree.
The reports suddenly flooding the GJ channels were numerous, confusing, and nearing frantic. Squads A, B, and C were being overrun by a flood of identical masked kids. Squad K was being harried by some skinny guy in purple who would appear, smack one of the agents around, then apparently disappear, only to reappear somewhere else a short distance away and start again. And four other squads had been tossed around like paper dolls by a big guy in blue.
Even so, the squad coordinator might have thought they'd still come a little heavy for this amount of resistance. But once he heard that Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable were apparently working their way through any squad between the south entrance and the room where the target was holed up, he couldn't get on the communicator and call for reinforcements fast enough.
As Kim smashed the side of her hand into the juncture of one GJ agent's shoulder and neck, sending him toppling to the ground, Kim had to admit that Ron's Monkey Kung Fu was in fine form today. In the back of her mind, she was keeping watch on him at the edge of her senses, as she always did, but she was starting to think there wasn't much need. He seemed almost as focused as she was, and that apparently benefited the unique martial art he could channel.
Kim spun and slammed her foot into the side of a tall agent's head, using the momentum to take her into a short spin, her body horizontal in the air, forcing a few more agents to stagger back, putting them off-balance as she landed and dropped into a sweep, knocking them on their asses. She flipped forward from her dropped position, legs swinging out in a split, and slammed her calves across their stomachs, knocking the wind out of them.
She springboarded from the position and into the air, wrapping her legs around a surprised agent's head, then dropping her upper body backwards, letting her weight pull him down until her hands were braced on the floor and she could use the strength in her legs to pull him around and slam him to the ground. As she rolled up to her feet, she silently apologized to Ron for giving him such a hard time about trying to get her to play fighting games with him.
There was little elegance to the haymaker she delivered to the next agent's face. Her fingers and knuckles stung with the impact. Hitting someone in the face was not exactly the best way to go about things, as likely to mess up your hand as their face. Besides, the little rational voice in her mind that was watching her fight said, it was harsher than necessary.
But the part of her that was driving her forward said it was. That it was necessary to not just incapacitate the GJ agents, but to make sure that they remembered this. Because they were trying to hurt her mother, and they were trying to take away someone important to her. And she was not going to let them think they could get away with either.
She ducked as a SWAT-geared GJ agent took a swing at her with the butt of his rifle, hooking her arm between his legs and lifting, hauling one leg out from under him and toppling him onto his back. She stomped a foot in a certain area of his stomach, taking into account the armor as she calculated the force to use, and even in the hard, focused place she was in, couldn't help but wince as she heard him fill his tinted helmet with vomit.
Ron had drawn up beside her, now, and she used the few moves of Monkey Kung Fu she'd learned from observation to synch up with him, letting him take the lead, following up his own strikes with hers. Neither of them even paused at the sight of a massive GJ agent blocking the end of the hall and towering over them both. Ron bobbed and weaved, driving his fist into the man's side, knocking him off-balance, while Kim stepped in and drove both of her forearms against the inside of his arm as he tried to retaliate with a punch, knocking the blow away. Ron leapt into the air in a tight spin, arms extending with elbows bent, hands up and curled downward, his shin slamming against the big man's ear and sending him hurtling aside to slam into the wall and slide down, unconscious.
Ron landed and stood, Kim straightening up as well, both of them not moving forward, but instead staring at the last Global Justice member standing between them and the observation room where Kim's mother was fighting to protect Shego.
“Doctor Director,” Kim said coolly, emerald-hard eyes fixed on the one-eyed woman's face.
Doctor Director slowly strode forward, her hands tucked behind her back. Neither Kim or Ron moved, as if the tense situation were just an elaborate game of “two for flinching”, waiting to see who would wince.
Closer, and closer, and then Doctor Director was not standing in front of Kim, but beside her, still facing down the hallway. Kim's scowl deepened, but she kept her gaze resolutely forward.
“Do you realize what you are doing? What your mother is doing? And what this means?” Doctor Director said, her voice even, as if inquiring what the younger woman's plans were for the weekend.
Rather than snapping off an answer, Kim closed her eyes and bowed her head. DID she know what she was doing? She went over every thought she'd had since this all began just under twenty-four hours ago. Every bit of her roller-coaster emotions, everything her mother had said, every word Shego had spoken. Her thoughts and considerations since awaking on the Go Team jet. But somehow, the thing that swam to her mind most powerfully was the sound of her own voice in the dream she'd had, the words that she'd said, and meant them without reservation, without knowing why, simply knowing that they came from the deepest part of her.
She opened her eyes, and raised her head.
“Yes,” she said quietly, her voice firm. “I do.”
Doctor Director was quiet for long time. Finally, she answered in that same simple, even voice. “I suppose this changes the nature of our relationship.”
“Yeah.” Kim nodded slowly, still not actually looking at the woman she'd once hoped one day to work under. “I suppose it does.”
“I'm sorry to hear that, Miss Possible.” Doctor Director slowly walked on, her boots rapping softly on the tile as she somehow found the one straight path through all the downed men. “We'll be waiting outside for you.”
Ron craned his head to watch Doctor Director turn the corner. Kim did not. She simply strode forward, hearing the various yells that signaled the rest of her team were drawing close.
She did not look back.
“Kim!” Kim's mother wrapped her arms around her, then drew back to arm's length. “Young lady, it's wonderful to see you, but you should have known better than to take such risks!”
Kim found a bit of a grin in her. She wasn't fooled. But she shook her head, the grin disappearing as she looked over towards the corner. “Mom, how's Shego?”
“Not very well,” Dr. Possible admitted with a worried expression, looking over as well. “She's been going in and out of consciousness. She's holding onto her self-control with every ounce of will she has, I think, trying to avoid another episode of whatever happened earlier.”
Kim nodded, turning to walk towards Shego, while her mother attempted to act as if the situation were entirely normal.
“Ronald, I don't think you've met my colleague? This is Dr. Tim Lee Manor. Tim, this is Ron Stoppable.”
“Hey. Uh, nice AK-47.”
“Thanks! I was going moose-hunting this weekend.”
Kim knelt down to the small pallet that had been made, something inside her feeling tight and hurtful at the way Shego's body was trembling. “Shego? It's me… I'm back.” She reached a hand out towards the other woman's shoulder.
Too much. Too many bad sounds. Too much moving around. Too many smells. Smell of fear and blood and many other things that almost hurt to breathe in. Too hungry.
And now something was too close. Too many smells, too upset. She didn't want it close!
It tried to touch her, and she lashed out, striking at it with claws, but it was fast and drew back. She hissed, angry, confused, wanting satisfaction, wanting not to feel helpless anymore. She leapt forward, grabbing for it, wanting to sink her fangs in.
But something grabbed her, yanked her back. Booming voice, too loud! She hissed again, wheeled, slashed at this new threat, but it grabbed her again, her wrist encircled, held. That sound again! Familiar, from deep down in, but she was too upset, couldn't recognize it, couldn't acknowledge, just wanted to strike, escape! But it had her other wrist now, and before she could sink her fangs in, it had drawn her up, holding her off the ground! She howled and kicked, biting but finding nothing but air, unable to reach.
Leave her alone!
“Shego! Shego please!” Hego begged as his sister howled and thrashed in his grasp. He was holding her by both wrists, arms extended, feet off the ground as she kicked and bit at him, unable to connect with either.
A half-dozen Wegos tumbled into the room, and quickly collapsed down to two, who grabbed Shego's legs, attempting to hold her still. Mego rushed into the room at small size, before expanding back to his full height.
“What the hell's going on?!” he demanded.
“She was attacking Miss Possible!” Hego replied a little plaintively, as if trying to avoid the blame for lifting his sister into the air.
Kim indeed looked shaken, if whole, her eyes wide as she leaned against the bed frame. Her mother, however, was all business as she drew out a syringe and checked the dosage.
“I was afraid of this. Kim was able to calm her down last time, but the stress has been too much, she can't recognize friend and foe,” she said in a calm voice, hoping it would transfer to the rest of the people around her. She yanked the needle cover off with her teeth, her further words only faintly affected by the plastic. “I was hoping to avoid sedating her, she had symptoms of low blood pressure. Boys, hold her as still as you can.”
Wego immediately doubled themselves, letting their legs bend, using the additional body weight to drag down on Shego, who yowled with renewed anger, body trembling with her struggled, teeth gnashing together as she continued her futile attempts to sink her fangs into the dumbfounded Hego. With uncanny aplomb, Anne pulled aside a back flap of Shego's hospital gown and plunged the needle into a buttock, ignoring the green-skinned girl's renewed howls of rage as she pushed the plunger in.
Shego's struggled quickly lessened, then stopped. Wego let go, and Hego shifted Shego around to carry her more properly in his arms, his expression stricken as he gazed down at her.
“Whoever did this ta my sister is gonna pay!” Mego snarled, slamming his fist against his palm.
“He's already dead,” Kim said, her voice flat as she stepped forward. “Shego accidentally killed him.”
That seemed to take the wind out of the purple-hued hero's sails, and he finally gave a small sound of annoyance and turned away. Kim looked down at the floor, then around at everyone in the room.
“Everyone… listen to me, please.” She waited a moment, then continued, her voice soft, but even. “I've done some thinking lately, and realized that I can't give up on Shego. No way, no matter what. I have to see her through this. … Probably most of Global Justice is assembling outside this building right now. When I walk out of here with Shego, they're going to do all they can to stop me. I'm going to become as much of a criminal to them as anyone I've ever stopped.”
Kim paused, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. Even she needed a moment to let that sink in. But her eyes were still clear as she opened them, her voice firm.
“Anyone that comes with me is going to be labeled the same way. You'll be in danger of your lives. Global Justice probably isn't going to stop on this one, so it could mean years, or the rest of your lives, on the run. … Normally, I'd say that I'm just going to do it on my own, refuse to let anyone help.
“But whether I know you or I don't, everyone in this room has already risked their lives for Shego. So it's not up to me to tell you to stop now. It's up to you. Some of you I've known my entire life. Some of you I only know a little. Some of you, I've just now met.” She smiled a bit wanly at the two security guards, an older black man with a mustache, and a somewhat younger white man with a bit of a paunch, then at the young Asian doctor holding the rifle. “… You've all risked your lives for her. So now it's time to decide whether you call it a job well done, or if it's something worth giving up everything for.
“I'm sorry. But you've got to choose now. There's no time for anything else.”
“You don't even need to ask.” Hego's normally forceful voice was barely a whisper now, his gaze fixed on his sister's face, dark marks on his mask under his eyes showing where it had soaked up tears. “I will cross Hell and then go all the way back for her.”
“You shouldn't even have to ask me either, KP,” Ron chimed in, rubbing his hand across his own eyes. “I'm with you for good.”
“Yeah, Kim!” Rufus chirped from Ron's pocket.
“It'll all just get screwed up without me, anyway,” Mego added gruffly, folding his arms and looking away.
“-in all the way!”
“Oh, honey.” Anne shook her head slowly, then nodded it once. “Of course you can count on me.”
“I'm with you in spirit!” Wade's voice chimed in, the surveillance camera in one corner turning further towards Kim. “And… and as soon as I can, in body, too!”
“Well, this seems more interesting than hunting moose. Can't say that about much,” Dr. Manor said with a chuckle, shouldering his rifle. “Sure. I'm in.”
“Got a daughter about her age,” the black security guard mused. “So I know how I'd feel if she was mine. I'm with you, little lady.”
“Thank you, Jacob.”
“Nothing to it, ma'am.”
“Nothin' flowery ta say. I'll do it. Name's Williams,” the other guard said with a grunt, tucking a thumb into his belt.
“… Thank you. Everybody.” Kim closed her eyes again, knowing they weren't so clear anymore. She opened them as she turned, looking at Shego for long moments. Then she turned and walked towards the door. “Come on. It's time to go.”
News crews and onlookers had been cleared away, replaced by a ring of Global Justice agents that was just as thick as the crowd had previously been. Guns were lowered to point at the exit of the hospital, actions worked, safeties removed.
Shadows grew thicker at the doorway, resolving into shapes, which suddenly exploded into colors and human forms as a bright spotlight snapped on from the helicopter circling above. From that same helicopter came the booming of an official-sounding voice through a megaphone.
“KIM POSSIBLE! YOU HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED AS A LEVEL ONE THREAT SUPERVILLAIN! YOU AND YOUR HENCHMEN WILL SURRENDER TO GLOBAL JUSTICE AGENTS IMMEDIATELY! THERE WILL BE NO NEGOTIATION! WE HAVE CUT OFF ALL AVENUES OF ESCAPE! YOU CANNOT ELUDE CAPTURE!”
Kim, her hair being whipped about by the wind from the helicopter, slowly raised her head, gazing up into the brightness of the spotlight with eyes as hard as emerald, and smiled.
“Nothing's impossible for a Possible.”