Shego drifted through the water, sinking deeper and deeper, gently twirling, her arms and legs turning limply. Was she sinking in her dark ocean for good? What had happened? Why was she going deeper? Why couldn't she rouse herself to swim for the surface?
Something shifted the water around her. Probably the creature again, whatever the thing was that lived here in her dark ocean and made the depths its home. Maybe it was going to devour her completely this time. That would resolve things nicely.
Something latched around her wrist, but it wasn't a toothy maw or enormous claws, but instead slender, warm fingers. A hand, yanking her upwards, pulling her towards the surface. Shego opened her eyes, straining to see through the black water. Was that… red hair? Somehow, she found the strength to start kicking for the surface herself now.
They both burst into the air, gasping and scrabbling at each other, naked bodies seeking warmth in the numbing onyx waters. Finally they stilled somewhat, arms wrapped around each other, legs still kicking to keep them above, swaying back and forth in the storming waters.
“Nice of you to show up,” Shego panted, grinning a little.
“Did I show up? Or did you?”
“It's my dream, so you must have.”
They stared into one another's eyes, hundreds of truths so close to the surface here, held back only by the confusion of not knowing if they were indeed about to say these things to one another instead of just dreaming it.
Then a light flashed by just under the surface, drawing both of their attention.
“Was that… that thing?!”
“No… no, it was… I think it was something else, it was the wrong color…”
Light flashed by again, this time much closer. And then the creature burst up from the waves, raising up on its long body, black water streaming down its pearlescent pink scales and dripping from its long, lanky pink fur. Its tiger-like muzzle opened, letting out a terrifying yowl, the sound actually seeming to push the two terrified women backward in the water. It angled its head down, huge, gemlike red eyes fixing on its target.
“Ohgod,” Kim whispered.
“No! Leave her alone!” Shego shouted at the new monstrosity, even as it began hurtling its head downward toward the redhead, monstrous hands open and flexed, bloodred claws bared and swinging inward. “KIIIIM!”
With a sky-shaking roar, the green creature burst from the water, slamming against the pink creature and driving it back. The pink creature howled as the green's black claws and glistening white teeth sank into its flesh, raking its own claws down its enemy's scaly back. They writhed back and forth in the air, before toppling to one side and hitting the water with a loud slam, sending up new waves in the storming sea.
Shego clutched Kim more tightly to her as they were slammed under briefly by the impact wave, then gasped for breath as they both surfaced again. The glowing creatures were still savaging each other, great arcs of their sinuous bodies heaving above the surface as they tore at one another. The pink monster slammed both its limbs across its foe's head, knocking it aside, before it turned and made another run at Kim, its eyes just above the surface, darting in like a shark coming in for the kill. Shego screamed, in time with the roar of the green creature throwing itself out of the water and slamming down atop the pink creature, interrupting its charge and bearing it beneath the surface.
Slowly, the waters calmed, or as much as they ever did in the face of the silent, windless storm that drove the black waters. Kim and Shego looked back and forth, both of them shaking.
“Is it… are they…?!”
The world suddenly exploded into sound and color as the fighting creatures shot up out of the water, their bodies twined around one another, blood pouring across their sinuous hides like black water as they roared at one another. Kim and Shego found themselves borne up into the air amidst the coils of green and pink, being crushed together by the fighting.
Shego clenched her eyes shut in pain, then forced them open, looking at Kim's terrified face. Kim was saying something to her, likely something important, but it was drowned out by the roaring of the fighting monsters.
Bolting upright, Shego flailed her arms, swiping desperately at restraining coils that weren't there. Wide-eyed and breathing hard, she stared back and forth around her darkened bedroom, before scrambling to one side of the bed and slapping her hand against the lightswitch, flooding the room with dim “early morning” illumination.
“Jesus,” Shego whispered, crawling over to sit on the edge of the bed and putting her head in her hands. Her entire body was covered with sweat, and she was really hoping sweat was what had caused all that dampness on the bed. She hadn't been so terrified by a dream since she'd watched Nightmare on Elm Street with her little brothers as a kid. (She'd been hoping to freak them out, and spent most of the week afterwards trying to snitch sodas from the fridge to keep herself awake.)
She eyed the intercom, feeling the urge to buzz Kim's room. To ask if she was alright, or to ask if she'd had a similar dream. But it seemed too… needy, too pathetic. No. She wasn't going to be that weak.
She also wasn't going to be sleeping again tonight.
Punk smirked a little as she leaned against the kitchen doorway, watching the woman sitting at the kitchen table. Watching her try to be ever-so-calm and such the good host, trying not to clink the spout of the teapot against the cup from the way her hand was shaking.
Winter Kohlde was still an extremely beautiful woman, even now that she was past forty. She spent almost as much time in front of a camera as she did writing articles for the fashion magazines she appeared in. With her long, ultra-light blonde hair, and striking blue eyes, she seemed like some ethereal nymph descended to model fleece vests ($19.95, red in limited supply, plus sizes two dollars more).
“I really am sorry, Punk, but I don't do that sort of thing anymore,” Winter was saying in her most reasonable, upbeat tone. “I've done all I can to put that life behind me. It wasn't my true calling, anyway. I'm happy here. My work is fulfilling, and my husband and daughter need me.”
“The pay's good. I took a look at the check. It's pretty damn impressive. And besides…” Punk pushed off the doorway, slowly prowling over and leaning down to whisper in Winter's ear, the other woman going stiff. “You can't convince me you don't sometimes think about the shocked look on somebody's face when they find themselves encased in their very own personal frozen cocoon… Ice Queen.”
“… I -don't-,” Winter insisted softly after a moment. “I really don't. And I don't want to start. Please, Punk,” she added in a plaintive voice.
Punk was glad she looked up, because otherwise Winter's head shooting up would have broken her nose.
“Summer! P-please, be quiet and go to your room!”
“No.” The teenage girl in the doorway scowled defiantly. She was lankier than her mother, lacking the impressive curves. But the cold look was there in spades. Her hair wasn't just pale blonde, it was completely white, cut short and rumpled like she'd just come in out of the wind. Her eyes were paler than her mother's, too, like there was a thin layer of frost covering them. Even her skin looked like it hadn't seen the touch of the sun in months, though it was a pleasant spring day out and she was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
“What was that you were saying, kid?” Punk asked thoughtfully, straightening up and tucking her hands into her jacket pockets.
“I want to know what someone looks like when that happens to them. I want to know what it feels like to have someone at your mercy, to actually use all this power on someone else instead of just pretending like it's not there.”
“Summer… you don't know what you're saying,” Winter whispered, tears starting to stream down her cheeks. Rather than make little damp spots as they fell to the table, they clinked lightly, tiny frozen droplets laying on the bright and cheerful placemat like little diamonds.
“I know what I'm saying. I'm not content to sit around and pretend to be a happy, normal, suburban family. I'm not normal, no matter how much you try and force me to be. And I don't WANT to be! You threw away power, riches, respect! And for WHAT?!” Summer screamed.
“For your father,” Winter sobbed quietly.
“And that really is pathetic,” Summer growled, lips twisting in contempt. She turned to look at Punk. “Whatever it is you're doing, I'm in.”
“… Sure.” The pink-haired woman pulled out a slip of paper and held it out. “Here's your first check. Car's parked out front, go get in.” She smirked a little, and added, “Ice Princess.”
Summer smirked back, snatching the check out of Punk's hand and turning to walk out of the kitchen without so much as a backward glance. Punk waited for a moment, glancing at the crying woman sitting in front of her, then walked towards the door as well.
“Punk!” The chair scraped across the floor and toppled with a bang as the blonde fell out of it and too her knees, grabbing desperately at the edge of Punk's jacket. “For God's sake, I'm begging you! Don't take my daughter away from me! Don't put her in that life!”
“…” Punk reached inside her jacket, pulling out the slim black sunglasses she'd stopped on the way and bought, sliding them on. “I'm not taking your daughter away from you, Winter. She's taking herself away from you,” she said quietly, walking away. Winter's hands fell away from her jacket, the blonde woman hanging her head and sobbing, tiny drops of ice still falling to the floor as Punk walked out the front door.
Kim Possible twirled a pen in her fingers. She was actually finding the majority of being a supervillain to be… well, boring. Well, except for Ron nagging her. That was more annoying.
“I mean, c'mon, Kim! You threatened to sink a mansion and everyone in it in lava! That's not just property damage!” Ron said for what seemed like the twentieth time. He leaned a bit across the desk, hands extended in a supplicating gesture.
“Yes, Ron, I threatened some bad people,” Kim said with a sigh, resting an elbow on the desk and propping her chin up in one hand. “As a result, when that plane landed, the terrorists were laying in the aisles, their hands on the backs of their heads, asking could they please be taken to an American prison and not sent home. Not really seeing the big, here.”
“Um, HELLO?! Lava! People!”
Kim sighed and closed her eyes as Ron launched into his complaints about the whole affair again. It had been all she'd heard for two days. It wasn't that she didn't see his point… after all, she'd essentially used the terrorists' own tactic of threatening someone to get what she wanted. Her own point, that the person she'd been threatening was in charge of the terrorists and all she'd wanted out of it was for the terrorists to stop what they were doing, kept getting a “Yeah, but…!”
In the first hours after she'd delivered her ultimatum, Ron's worries had worried her, too. Had she really gone to a bad place? After awhile, though… especially after the hostages had deplaned, safe and sound… his arguments had seemed less and less important. Now they were just annoying.
And he was -still talking-! One of Kim's eyebrows was starting to twitch. She really wished he'd just shut up for a little while. In fact, she -needed- him to shut up, or she was going to start seriously thinking about getting one of those minion-killing chairs like Gemini had. Had to think of something to say to shut him up, anything to shut him up…
“I kissed Shego.”
… Okay, maybe not that. Still, it had worked like a charm.
Ron was staring at her, goggle-eyed and with his mouth hanging open. He was apparently trying to figure out how to ask if she'd said what he thought she'd said without saying exactly what she'd said. Slowly, he leaned forward, until his face hit the desk with a loud THUNK.
“… Ron?” Kim blinked. She took the pen she was twirling and poked him on the head a few times. “Uh, Ron?” 'Oh crap. I think I killed him.'
Ron slowly lifted his head up, smiling brightly, despite the large bump on his forehead. “Oh, wow. Sorry, KP, I totally spaced on you there for a minute. I was telling you something, and then just poink, nothin'!”
“Er… I said I kissed Shego.”
Kim sighed, putting a hand to her face. 'This is gonna be a long day.'
“Oh, wow. Sorry, KP, I-”
“Totally spaced, I know, I know.”
Punk sat on the side of the boat, smoking her first cigarette in fifteen years. She'd almost convinced a guard to bring her one, in the early years (and that had taken promises of a lot of really, really naughty things), but he had apparently been found out and fired before she'd gotten it. They'd stopped making her brand, but she wasn't that picky.
Ice Princess was standing a bit forward, arms folded over her chest, the wind from across the water ruffling her hair and blowing back her cape. They'd had to have the GJ lackeys do a quick bit of tailoring to get the costume intended for the girl's mother to fit, but it wasn't a bad job. A white bodysuit with faint sparkles along the gloves and boots, making it look like she'd been stepping in and working with snow and it had melted there, and a long, gold-trimmed white cape that capped over her shoulders. Personally, Punk thought it suited the kid better than it would have suited Winter… the elder villainess's scanty style had always worked for her.
“You should like this guy, kid,” Punk commented after a few more moments, lowering her cigarette and breathing out a cloud of smoke.
“And why do you say that?” Ice Princess looked over at the older woman, frowning at the implication she would ever do something an adult expected of her.
“Real cold-blooded.” Punk let the pun hang for a moment, before chuckling and continuing. “He's a ninja. Everyone likes ninjas, don't they?”
The teenager's scowl deepened.
“… I can see why your mother was so attached,” Punk muttered, rolling her eyes.
The boat docked, and Punk slouched her way off, turning to watch Ice Princess stride off like she should have a royal retinue following her. The pink-haired villainess glanced after her young teammate, raising her eyebrows a bit. 'Shame she decided to keep the cape. Not much up top, but kid's got a great butt.' She shrugged and waved to the boat-driver, who pulled the boat out and went back out to sea. Wouldn't do to leave it sitting there at a prison whose point was to be isolated by water.
At least they got past a lot of the officiousness by her flashing the GJ operative badge she'd been given. Authority was apparently useful for something. She noticed that descending through the prison, and the various catcalls and hurled epithets from prisoners were putting a few dings in Ice Princess' armor, the pale girl flushing in a mingling of anger and embarrassment. But she was also pleased to notice that the kid didn't fly off the handle or try to retaliate.
'Got myself a good one, here. Eager to work, but can keep a her cool. … Ha. Well, if she's got her mom's power and talent, we're gonna be able to wrap this one up nicely.'
The cagelike door swung open with the sort of creak Punk had expected of her own cell door, and the two of them walked along the damp stone floor that indicated these cells were set into the depths of the stone of the island. Punk gestured for Ice Princess to stop before they stepped in front of the next cell.
“Hey, Ken,” Punk said after a moment. “How's it goin'?”
“… Ah. Punk. How interesting,” the smooth, soft voice from within answered after a few moments. “Of all the people to come and visit me in my little pit, you were quite low down on the list.”
“I'm low down on a lot of peoples' lists. You gonna play nice, Ken?”
“Mm. I've nothing with which to be 'naughty' with. You may approach.”
Punk stepped in front of the cell, peering in through the bars, Ice Princess joining her after a moment. On the fold-down shelf that served as a bed was a Japanese man, his legs folded, hands resting on his knees. His long black hair dangled around his face, hiding most of it due to his head being leaned forward.
“So, Ken. How's the food?”
“Care to leave?”
Ice Princess blinked in surprise, while Punk simply burst out laughing.
“Oh man, I knew it.” Chuckling, Punk slid a sheet of paper out of her jacket and gave it a toss through the bars. It drifted through the air, until one of the man's hands snapped out and snatched it out of the air. He didn't look up, but instead began to fold the paper. “So, why not? Are you getting some sort of spiritual fulfillment out of this?”
“Hardly. This place has all the ability to develop spiritual fulfillment as the common cockroach. No, it's merely that I do not believe whatever the authorities could offer me is worth the trouble you would get me into.”
Punk smiled, leaning closer. “Deportation to Japan. Not extradition. Just deportation. They do a flyover and drop you by parachute, on the understanding you don't show your face in America again.”
Ken's nimble fingers actually stilled in their paper-folding, before resuming their work, a bit more slowly this time.
“Very interesting. They must want someone dead very badly.”
“Not dead. Just… neutralized.”
“Even more interesting. Very well, Punk.”
His hand gave the barest flick, the paper throwing star embedding one of its points in the metal bar in front of Ice Princess' face with a loud SPANG, making her jerk her head back reflexively. He raised his head slightly, smirking through the fall of his hair.
“You have engaged the services of Shuri Ken.”
“So, I tried to tell Ron today,” Kim ventured in a rather rueful tone as she and Shego walked down a corridor, the redhead with her hands tucked behind her back and practicing her new Supervillain Stride, trying to get the length of her coat to swish in a properly dramatic manner.
“Tell Ron what?” Shego replied, walking along, well, normally. Though Kim was starting to appreciate it in a new way, of late, stealing surreptitious glances at her companion. She hadn't gotten many opportunities to see Shego just walk along, before, and not with the new eyes she'd gained lately. She wondered if the green-skinned woman had always moved with that same sort of deadly grace, like a sauntering tiger with her muscles moving in a casual dance of choreographed and barely-restrained violence.
“About, you know… us,” Kim answered, a bit lamely at the end, ducking her head and watching the floor. When Shego didn't say anything, she somehow felt the need to clarify. “That we kissed.”
“Oh yeah. That.”
“'Oh yeah that'? I'm sorry you found it so dull,” Kim muttered, a bit more acidly than she'd intended to.
Shego stopped, and Kim stopped with her, turning to face the other woman and folding her arms over her chest instead. “You know it wasn't,” Shego said after a moment, her tone almost annoyed, though her frown showed as much confusion as anything else. She rested her hands on her hips, looking off to the side. “Far be it from me to try and tell you not to get burned, Princess, but in this case you're almost literally playing with fire.”
She raised a hand, tracing a finger through the air, making a random design with the faint green glow from her fingertip. “I'm still figuring out what that stuff did to me. Amy doesn't know, and I think she's mostly guessing as she tries to put together some kind of cure. But I do know that… my control can be a really fine line, now.”
“Would it be so bad, to lose control?” Kim asked, her voice suddenly dropping to an earnest, husky whisper, as she stepped a little closer, looking up at Shego through her lashes. “Just a little?”
“Yeah, it could be.” Shego scowled, looking back at Kim for just a moment, before looking away again, her cheeks coloring. “This thing between us, I… dunno what it is, but I couldn't live with myself if I hurt you. Like… really hurt you.”
“I don't think you will. Please, Shego.” Kim's voice contained a gentle urging, her hands coming up, hovering just barely above Shego's waist, not quite touching. “Look at me. Touch me. That's all I want, it'll make me happy.”
“Don't,” Shego warned, then shuddered as Kim's hands rested on her sides anyway. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, her voice shaking with intensity as she spoke. “You don't know what it's like for me now, Kim… to smell everything you feel, smell you on my skin and in my clothes after we've been close together, smell you to where it's like tasting you, taste you to where it's like…” She trailed off, face tight, jaw tensed.
“Touch me, Shego.” Kim's voice was still soft, but now had an underlying vein of firmness, some trace of her own predator that she'd displayed earlier in her office.
Shego's hands slowly raised, hovering in the vicinity of Kim's shoulders, trembling, fingers curled almost clawlike.
“Touch me, Shego.”
Those fingers twitched a little.
And then they dove down, Shego suddenly thrusting her arms under Kim's and actually hauling her halfway off her feet, thudding her back against the wall as she kissed her, hard, hungry. Her hands twisted in the back of Kim's coat as she kissed the redhead almost bruisingly, a low growl shuddering from her throat to touch against Kim's mouth in a way that tried to set off a trembling in the rest of her body.
Kim wrapped her arms around Shego almost as if holding on for dear life, as if the sheer intensity of the kiss were going to sweep her away like a tsunami. Shego's tongue was in her mouth, feeling so hot and wet and… intimate, was the only way to describe it, knowing that part of Shego was actually inside her, touching her so deeply and exploring her. And her tongue was in Shego's mouth, too, almost as if it had found its way there on its own, sliding across the wiggling, slick surface of Shego's own tongue, finding the tantalizingly deadly sharpness of those new fangs.
Abruptly Shego broke the kiss, gasping for breath, her body abruptly setting up its own trembling. Only then did Kim become aware of how closely Shego was pressed to her, pinning her to the wall as much with herself as the grip of her arms, their chests pressed hard and hot to one another, and she was very conscious of the heat of the other woman's body even through the layers of cloth.
“Kim… have to stop,” Shego gasped out, closing her eyes again, knowing she'd be unable to keep her control if she gazed too long into those burning, wanting green eyes. “Got to… be careful!”
Kim responded by ducking her head and biting Shego's neck, teeth pressing against skin and cloth along the top of the high collar. No tender or soft little love bite… but a very hard, very passionate love bite. Shego yowled softly, pressing herself harder against that hot redheaded body, twisting her hands, the cloth of Kim's coat tearing.
Both girls' eyes snapped open and their bodies stilled completely. The sensation of being doused with cold water couldn't have been more concrete if they'd actually had a hose turned on them. Kim opened her mouth to release Shego's neck, and in almost perfect synch, they turned and looked to the side.
“Ladies,” Dr. Possible said mildly. She looked… remarkably calm, Kim thought. Maybe a little too calm. The only sign that she'd just caught her daughter in an extremely, almost wildly passionate embrace was a faint coloring of her cheeks and across the bridge of her nose.
Shego stole a glance at Kim, then did her best to be casual about disentangling her fingers from the redhead's coat and lowering her fully to the floor as she stepped back. Taking her cue from the other woman, Kim smoothed out the front of the coat as if nothing were amiss, giving her hair a little toss while she was at it.
“Hey, Mom,” she chirped in a cheerful tone.
“Mm.” Dr. Possible gazed at them both for almost two full minutes, before walking over and looking right at Kim, pointing down the hall towards the room she'd appropriated as an infirmary.
Kim bristled. She was not only a supervillain, she was almost seventeen! How dare her mother presume to order her around in her very own supervillain hideout! Then she shot a glance at Shego and abruptly deflated. Shego's bodysuit, which didn't really have much in the way of spare cloth to wrinkle, was still wrinkled and twisted about, her dark hair rather mussed, and a half-set of bite marks rather visible above the garment's collar on one side of her neck.
If Shego looked like that, she could only imagine how she looked.
Turning, she made her way into the infirmary, listening to the clack of her mother's shoes on the floor behind her. Once inside, the elder Possible moved to sit behind the flat, sturdy metal desk they'd found in storage, settling behind it and just looking at Kim for a moment, before sighing and holding a hand out.
Kim stared at her mother uncomprehendingly for a moment, wondering if she was doing the equivalent of a police chief demanding the rogue cop's gun and badge. Then she remembered the tearing sounds she'd heard towards the end, and her cheeks colored as she shrugged out of the sleeveless coat and handed it over. She could feel the heat of her face worsen as she actually saw the clawmark-like rents in the blue cloth, her mother calmly taking needle and thread out of one drawer and starting to stitch the garment in quick, efficient movements.
“I suppose it would be silly to ask if there's anything you want to talk to me about, but it's obvious that you don't.”
Kim was stung by the hurt in her mother's voice, deflating a bit more. “Mom, it's not like that. I wasn't hiding it or anything, I just… well…” She trailed off, then added, in a bemused tone, “I tried to talk to Ron about it and it didn't go so well.”
“No, I imagine it didn't.” Anne raised an eyebrow, glancing up at her daughter. “Was he angry, or hurt?”
“Neither.” The faintest traces of disgust colored Kim's tone as she shook her head. “He kept blacking out, hitting his head on the desk, and forgetting the last three minutes. I finally stopped trying because I was worried he'd give himself a concussion.”
“Not to sound too cliché, Kimmy, but I thought you liked boys.”
“I do like boys,” Kim replied, shifting in place nervously, sounding defensive.
“Mm-hm. Well that would certainly explain why you and Shego were about to tear each other's clothes off and have wild lesbian sex right in the hallway.”
Kim huffed, then rubbed the back of her head, looking off to the side. “I don't know. Shego's just… I feel something for her I've never really felt with a boy before.”
“Wha?” Kim stared, then scowled. “What, like a conquest or something? Mom, I don't-”
“No, no. I'm sorry, that's not what I meant. Kim, have a seat.”
Looking dubious, as if suspecting a lecture, Kim nevertheless pulled over a plain metal chair and sat down, watching her mother sew up the back of the coat.
“Kim, when I was in high school, I was a lot like you. A little less so, perhaps… I was on the tennis team, not cheerleading, and even then I was more devoted to my studies. And like you, I had various men to choose from.”
“No, I'm not going to go into details, honey. Relax. But I did have a lot of people who I was, and could have been, interested in. Pretty boys from the football team, popular boys from my school and others… I even had a somewhat bumbling, but very sweet and devoted male friend, too.”
Kim actually snorted a little, smiling. “You had a Ron?”
“Actually, dear, I had an Elliot.”
Kim frowned thoughtfully, trying to remember why that name sounded more familiar than it should. When she realized why, she actually choked and almost fell out of the chair.
“Mm-hm,” Anne acknowledged cheerfully, snipping off a piece of thread.
“Your Ron was my Ron's dad?! The… whosa… wha?”
“History repeats itself in interesting little ways, doesn't it?”
Kim nodded numbly, not really sure what to say to that.
“Elliot and I actually dated briefly in our senior year. It was very nice… we'd been friends since second grade, it was like having a friendship where you got to kiss, too.”
“Ah, sorry, a little too close to details?” Anne quieted for a few moments, eyes on her work, perhaps sorting her own thoughts. Her tone was a bit more subdued when she continued. “Elliot was very bright, and very sweet, but eventually I realized that there was something missing. The same way there was something missing with my tennis partner, the other man I was convinced, for a while, was someone I could spend my life with.”
“So… what happened?” Kim asked, tilting her head. “Was it, like… a faith thing?”
“Not really. Ron and his father are more alike than you can probably realize, despite Ron substituting physical pursuits for intellectual.” Anne took a deep breath. “And I don't want you to think this is a slight on him at all, Kimmy, because it's not, but just like Ron is never going to quite measure up to you in physical pursuits, Elliot was never going to match me intellectually. He's a very, very intelligent man… but…”
“But… you needed someone that wasn't just 'very, very'?” Kim ventured.
“Bingo,” her mother replied, smiling rather sadly, before the sadness evaporated into fondness. “Kim, when I met your father, it took awhile, but I realized he was one of the very few people on the planet that would ever be right for me. He was not only sweet and kind and had a sense of humor that hit me just right, he challenged me intellectually. And back in those days, he was still quite the fair hand on a tennis or racquetball court, too. We… matched.”
“So… what you're saying is…?” Kim said slowly.
“Shego is a near exact match to you physically, perhaps a bit ahead now. And from what I've seen, she seems to be an exceptionally intelligent young woman, even if she doesn't always deign to show it. She certainly matches you quip for quip in verbal sparring, from all I've ever seen or heard.”
“… I told Shego that we were like mirrors for each other, in how we showed what the other could have been…”
“And that's probably true. You're two of the most evenly-matched people I've ever met. I think the sheer balance of mental and physical challenge makes you, by many standards, ideally suited for each other.” Anne finished the last stitch and held the jacket up to examine her work, adding thoughtfully, “The fact that you're hot for her bod is apparently a bonus.”
“Dear, I think after that little display, you can drop the protests.” The elder redhead tossed the jacket to her daughter, grinning. “It's okay. Really, it is. I won't pretend that I'm actually as calm and happy about it as I appear, and there's a lot more that needs to be talked about and worked out, but… I think I saw this coming, to a certain extent.”
“Could've told me,” Kim muttered, standing up and pulling on the jacket again.
“I'm serious about the talking and working out, though, Kim.” Anne's features grew a bit grave. “We've been getting through so far on good old Possible luck and stubbornness, and the help of a lot of friends. But a relationship can damage you in ways that nothing else, not even this estrangement from our friends, family, and society, can.”
“… I know.” Kim shrugged the jacket a bit further into place, giving it a few tugs and flourishes to try and get it settled. “Maybe I'm pushing her too hard, too. But things seem so uncertain right now…”
“And it's hard to know who to cling to when it feels like you're going to drift away?”
“I accept that you're too old to be comfortable with that being me. I understand how hard that is… trust me.”
“I… I know. I do.”
“But if you really do care about her… or even think you do… then you need to find out how to hold her and be held by her, and have it be just that. And I do think it's worth it, Kim.”
'I know it is,' Kim thought as she left the infirmary, heaving a sigh. 'More than that… I know how bad it could be to deny it.'
Dr. Director leaned against the doorframe of the small office, staring intently at Punk. It was an office intended for a low-level clerk, and had actually been vacant for almost two years. Still, she felt obligated to make sure Punk didn't start feeling she was welcome here. The two guards posted outside were intended to help with that. Personal scrutiny every so often was, too.
Infuriatingly enough, Punk was pretty much ignoring both. She was just sitting there at the desk, going through hard copy files, and every so often checking something on the computer, still rather slow at using the device. Betty had been hoping she'd destroy the screen or put a foot through the computer itself in some fit of user rage, providing an opportunity for cold, analytical dissection of just what a violent, unreasonable creature her former nemesis was.
Unfortunately, she'd actually, willfully booted up the new user tutorial and gone through the entire thing without losing her temper. Damn the woman.
“So just what is taking you so long?” she said after a few more minutes of waiting. “I let you out to track down Kim Possible, not acquaint yourself with Windows.”
“No, you let me out to, in your own words, 'disable her operation',” Punk replied without looking up from the screen. “As well as capture her and 'bring her to justice'. You and I both know that just snagging a supervillain is easy enough. Making sure they're not up to their old tricks five minutes after they slip their restraints is the tough part.”
“… True,” Dr. Director allowed after a moment.
“So, I'm looking for the person who can help me pull up the roots, not just the weed. Ice Princess and Ken will give me the edge I need to take down any of the fighters. But I need someone who can not only take care of themselves in a fight, but also…”
She trailed off, staring at one file in particular, and flipping through the pages, before turning to the computer and starting to bring up the more comprehensive records.
“What?” Dr. Director pressed, frowning.
“Hm. Yeah… think this one might do.” Punk stood and tucked the folder under her arm, walking to the door and pausing expectantly.
The one-eyed woman glared at the pink-haired criminal for long moments, before stepping back. Smirking, Punk stepped out and trotted down the hall.
“I'll bring the car back with a full tank of gas, mommy!” she called, waving flippantly without looking back.
Dr. Director seriously hoped that the guards couldn't hear her teeth grinding together. It wouldn't be good for her image.
Shego leaned heavily against the shower wall, her teeth close to chattering from the sheer cold of the spray pelting her body. She was starting to feel rather numb on the outside, but something hot and squirmy seemed to still be writhing around in her middle, barely driven into something approaching quiescence by the coldest shower she'd ever taken in her life.
“God damn but she knows what buttons to push,” she murmured to the empty shower, her voice a tight, tense rasp. “At this rate, I'm gonna run out of batteries.”
Deciding that the cold water had done as much as it was going to do, and that she didn't need hypothermia on top of everything else, she finally turned the handles and shut off the shower, stepping out and wrapping herself miserably in the largest and fluffiest of her towels. Slumping out into the main room, she flopped onto her back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
Infuriatingly enough, despite some intense scrubbing and almost ten minutes under increasingly cold pouring water, she could still smell Kim all over her, faint though it was. She raised a hand to her neck and rubbed lightly, the marks themselves gone, but the memory of that bite still very strong.
The intensity of… everything… with Kim was still rather scary. She'd wanted to devour the saucy little redhead in more ways than one there in the hallway, having as much an urge to sink her teeth into skin and hear Kim whimper as she did to kiss her. She'd almost panicked when Kim had started tonguing her fangs, though luckily DNAmy had confirmed they weren't actually poison-coated or anything.
She was tense around Kim, worried about her control, confused about her feelings. When she wasn't with Kim, her body ached for the other woman, as if needing those unique scents to wrap around her like a security blanket.
“Damn I'm miserable,” she grumbled.
As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. Groaning, Shego slapped both hands to her face and slid them down, then snarled out a “Wait a minute!” in the general direction of the door. She tossed the towel and yanked her closet open, scanning the rack to find her long black bathrobe, pulling it off the hangar and onto her body in quick, annoyed movements, before stalking to the door and hauling it open.
Mego looked at her blandly. “Well a good evening to you, too.”
Rolling her eyes, Shego turned away and walked back towards the bed. “Boy, you're just such a little misery sprite that you must be drawn to the biggest source of it in the place.”
“As opposed to the usual rays of sunshine and magical love waves you usually put out?” Mego replied, stepping in and nudging the door closed behind him.
“Yeah, as opposed to those. What is it, Melvin?”
Mego made a yapping motion with one hand, muttering 'What is it, Melvin?' under his voice, before eyeing his sister. “So. You doing okay, now, or what?”
Shego paused in straightening up the bed, then resumed her work, glancing over her shoulder. “You want to leave, don't you?”
“Well -some- of us have lives to get back to,” he replied defensively, though some guilt was seeping into his expression.
“No you don't, Mel.” Shego turned around to sit on the edge of the bed, leaning back on her hands. “Even if Global Justice doesn't know who you really are and didn't arrest you the moment you showed up, that's not a life.”
“Just because you think you're too good to be normal like the rest of us-” Mego began, scowling.
“You're not even normal! You're sub-normal!” Shego threw a hand in the air in agitation, waving it around as if to indicate a more massive amount of patheticness than mere words could convey. “Even Herman got out from under Dad's thumb, but there you are! Sitting in a tiny little office doing work that anyone with a GED could do, because you're too bitter to ask him for something better and too afraid to strike out on your own!”
“Don't you talk to me about -my- choices!” Mego snapped back.
“Well dammit that's what it's always about, isn't it?! -Your- choices, -your- needs, and -you- keeping -yourself- miserable so that you can sit around and bitch instead of confronting things!”
“At least I didn't make Mom leave!”
Silence descended on the room, the anger draining out of Shego's features, replaced by wide-eyed shock and hurt. It was long moments before she was even able to manage a hoarse “What?”
“… She… stopped coming by, after you left,” Mego said slowly. His was the tone of a man who knows he's said something he can never take back, but was still too angry to be entirely remorseful. “First three months, then six, and at about a year we realized she wasn't going to. I think she might still write to the kids, but…”
Shego slowly lowered her head, covering her face with her hands.
“… Fuck it.” Mego sighed, walking over to sit on the bed as well, though not too close. “I'm sorry I said that, Shego. Honest.”
“Did I drive her away? What?” Shego said, muffledly, her sobbing barely audible.
“… I dunno. But dammit, what kind of mother does that, anyway? There for three months, gone for three months, all the time coming home looking like she'd walked in from a bar fight. Who cares if it was your fault?”
“You do, obviously,” Shego murmured, wiping her face before finally dropping her hands to her lap.
“Yeah, maybe,” he allowed after a minute's thought. “But I was probably pissed because you… maybe were right.” Mego sighed. “Sitting in that stupid fucking office sure has made it easy to have an excuse not to do anything else, besides an excuse to be pissed at the old man.”
“Do we really need an excuse?” Shego asked after a moment, smiling just a little.
“Maybe we do. I dunno.” Mego scowled again, though this time it seemed to be at the world in general. “They tried for us. And you especially.”
“They tried. Just not too hard.”
The siblings sat in silence for awhile, unsure of what to say next, and brooding on their own thoughts. Ironically, Shego was self-aware enough to realize that this was the brother she actually had the most in common with, and wonder if that was what kept driving them to these sorts of hurtful fights.
“Listen,” she said eventually. “I'm okay. I mean, all that can be done is being done. If you really wanna go, no guilt or anything.”
“I'm not good at this,” he admitted with a grumble, picking at imaginary lint on his pants. “You'd think our little supergroup play club would have taught me to be, but-”
“Team Go's the last place to learn how to function in a group well,” Shego replied dryly.
“… I love you,” Mego said quietly, with obvious difficulty. “You're my sister, and I'll always love you. But… there's nothing for me to do here. I'm not sure if I'm gonna go back to that half-assed thing I call a life or not, but… I think I need to leave.”
“It's okay. We're just gonna get mad and say more crap to each other we can't take back if we're together, probably.” Shego paused, then leaned over, saying what she found to be the most difficult words in her vocabulary, especially when she meant them. “I love you, too.”
They held the hug briefly, before Mego stood up. “I'm just gonna sneak out, I think. Smooth things over for me, wouldja?”
“Well there's an original thought,” Shego said with a snort and a roll of the eyes, shaking her head and grinning as her brother walked out of the room.
Punk held the stuffed doll on both hands, giving it a small shake to make its hard plastic head wobble back and forth. “Man, you could really brain another kid with this thing,” she said brightly.
“Yeah, great, isn't it?” the redhead sitting nearby replied dryly. “They've got all sorts of cute nicknames in the collector industry… brother beaters, sibling smashers, skullcrackers…”
Grinning, Punk set the Fearless Ferret toy down, taking a longer look around the apartment. “You've definitely got plenty of the stuff. Posters, toys, props… hey, authentic costumes!” she said, pointing at the brown bodysuit dangling from a hanger.
“My inheritance,” the woman replied with unmistakable bitterness. “My father bet everything on being Timothy North's agent. When he died, a warehouse full of this crap was about all there was to pass on. I'm just lucky that for some reason, nostalgia is making it popular again. Internet auctions net me enough to scrape by on my bills.”
“Gee. You sound bitter.”
The redhead scowled and reached down, gripping the wheels of her wheelchair and turning herself back towards her computer, rolling up to it until the screen reflected off of her glasses. “You think?”
“Yeah, I think if some crazy fan taking a shot at my dad's big client and put a bullet in my spine instead, it might make me a tad standoffish about the whole thing.” Poison walked over to stand behind the wheelchair, hands clasped behind her back. “There's only one thing I don't understand, Babs… s'okay if I call you Babs, right?”
“Why are you scraping by, just 'paying the bills', when Global Justice places your hacker threat rating at… a twelve, second highest there is?”
Punk heard the intake of breath, and smirked. The fish had just bitten down on the hook.
“How do you… how does…?”
“You'd be surprised what they know. But you're good enough to clean out any computer company mogul and get away with it. Why hold back?”
“Aside from the fact I'd have to explain where my sudden riches came from?” Babs muttered. “… It would be wrong. I may break the law by hacking, but I don't steal.”
“Still. What if something wandered along…” Punk smiled, sliding around and seating herself right across the redhead's legs. “And sat itself in your lap?”
Besides looking rather startled at suddenly having a catgirl in her lap, Babs seemed intrigued, tilting her head. “What do you mean?”
“A chance to actually use those skills. Get out there, do something.” Punk reached into a pocket, pulling out a check and holding it up. “And get paid like this for it.”
The hacker's eyes bulged, reaching up to take the corners of the check. She stared at it, then lifted her gaze to Punk. “Okay… I can get maybe doing something, but 'get out there' seems a bit unrealistic.”
“Not necessarily.” Punk slid out of Babs' lap and leaned an arm against the handle of the wheelchair. “Ever heard of a Dr. Rexton?”
A strange mixture of bitterness and excitement flitted through green eyes. “What paraplegic hasn't?”
“Global Justice has access to Rexton's latest prototype. I doubt she'd be happy about having it appropriated, but hey, she can deal. I need someone in the field with me who knows this stuff.” Punk scooted around a bit, resting her hands on the redhead's shoulders and kneading lightly, receiving a grunt that was part pleasure, part thoughtfulness in reply. “Besides, you already have the costume,” she teased, knowing that she was mostly just waiting for the fish to get a little more tired before she hauled it into the boat.
Green eyes stayed fixed on the amount on the check for long minutes, before Babylon Cordon's gaze raised up towards the Ferretgirl costume hanging on her wall.
-End Part Four