“GAH!” Garrett Frost jumped back, startled at the face that suddenly appeared on one of his numerous computer screens. “Jesus! You nearly gave me a heart attack.” He placed a hand over his racing heart and tried to regain his composure. It never failed to both scare and irritate him when Dr. Director did her sudden appearing act. If he didn't know any better, he'd say his boss got a perverse joy out of unnerving people.
“Only nearly? I must be losing my touch,” Betty replied, letting the corner of her mouth raise in a hint of a smile. She was well aware how her unexpected entrances kept her entire staff on edge. It was always good to keep people on their toes. “Any news from Agent Galloway?” Her tone was all business now.
Frost nodded, still perturbed. “She checked in a few days ago. I think we may have who stole the nuclear material for Drakken narrowed down. She's been hinting around and it seems he outsourced using HenchCo's services. Apparently, Jack's opened up a ‘rent-a-thief’ branch and Drakken can't speak highly enough of this mystery person.” He chuckled, “Of course, Harper wasn't too happy and was all too eager to remind him that his scheme still failed. She's still digging for more specifics.”
Betty nodded, “Anything else?”
Frost briefly contemplated telling Betty about Kim's surprise visit but decided to keep that information quiet unless asked directly. What the boss lady didn't know, wouldn't hurt him or his partner. “Shego mentioned something about a new scheme in the works.”
“Anything worth mentioning?”
He shrugged, “Depends on if you think creating a nuclear powered weapon of mass destruction is worth mentioning.”
Betty pursed her lips in displeasure, “Why am I only hearing about this now, Agent Frost?”
“It is in my report and I tried to get in touch when Shego first told me,” he defended.
“And what stopped you from contacting me directly?”
Frost grimaced, “Your lapdog did. He said he'd get the message to you but that ‘Dr. Director can't possibly be disturbed at this moment in time’,” he imitated Will Du's voice perfectly.
Betty sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. Really, Will. I thought you were above this, she thought. While the rivalry between Shego and Will was nothing new to her, she'd never thought an agent of his caliber would stoop to petty mind games and covert sabotage. Betty wondered what else he had been intercepting and keeping from her. “You couldn't have found a way regardless?”
Frost shrugged, “Hey, you're the one who told me you'd have my balls for stress relievers if I hacked into the secure mainframe again. I was just following orders.”
Betty shot him a look showing she was less than amused. Smart ass. She had indeed given him a dire warning about his probing into places he had no business being. “Fine. Bring them in for debriefing,” she said curtly, her mind already racing ahead to the reprimand she would have to give to her second best agent.
“Them?” Frost arched an eyebrow at her questioningly.
She nodded, “Yes, Agent Frost. Much as I'd like to keep her on the periphery, Kim needs to be on the same page as Shego for this mission. You know what to do.”
“On it boss lady, I'll send Wade the info PDQ.” He gave her a little salute and started tapping his keyboard furiously.
“Oh, and Garrett?”
“Yeah?” He looked up from his work.
“Until further notice, you are to relay all communications regarding Agent Galloway and this operation through the secure Sigma line. Is that understood?”
Frost nodded slowly and Dr. Director's image disappeared from the screen. While there was no love lost between him and Will Du, he felt a fleeting moment of pity for the young man. You really fucked up this time, buddy boy. He smirked a little at the thought of the harsh disciplining sure to find the agent. Better you than me, he mentally chuckled and commenced his typing.
Beep beep da beep
Kim was lying on her bed, staring up at the ceiling when her Kimmunicator went off. “What's the sitch?” she asked, warily.
Wade appeared on the screen and gave her a small smile, “Debriefing at GJ, Kim. They need you there within the hour.”
She hesitated a moment, “Will Shego be there?”
Wade blinked slowly, “Um, yeah. They want you both there. Why?”
Kim shook her head, “No reason. Tell them I'll be there.”
“Transport is on it's way.”
“Thanks, Wade.” The screen went blank and Kim sighed. She only hoped she would be able to act like nothing had happened between her and Shego, that the older woman hadn't hurt her with her parting words, that there wasn't something between them that kept surfacing at inopportune moments. Her eyes closed as she remembered the vulnerable look on Shego's face before the agent had slammed the door on her emotions yet again. Why can't you just let me in, Shego? She sighed again and rose from the bed, pushing the bothersome thoughts aside. Keep it together, Possible. You've got a job to do.
A short vibration shook Shego's ankle pouch as she sat lounging, filing her nails. It was a slow day for evil, at least in Dr. Drakken's lair. She glanced around and seeing no one in the immediate vicinity, unzipped the pouch and pulled out the tiny communications device inside. She tapped the display and saw a text message flash across the screen:47 1 4687. Frost used the letter to number code found on every day telephones when communicating with her via text. HQ, 1 hour. Wonderful. She sighed and deleted the message. Betty must've just now gotten the update about Drakken's new hair-brained plan.
Shego placed her emery board and communicator back inside the pouch and stood, stretching languorously. Time to go to work. “Hey Dr. D? I'm going out for awhile.”
Garrett Frost checked his watch and leaned back in his computer chair, stretching his legs and arms. Being the top computer genius in the world was intellectually stimulating but hell on the joints, he'd learned. He ran a hand through his sandy hair and contemplated throwing a few items together to bring to the debriefing. Knowing Shego, she'd probably broken an expensive gadget already and would need a replacement. He stood and yawned, about to make his way down to the meeting when his arms were grabbed and twisted backwards. A firm shove had him face down on his console, the keyboard digging into his cheek.
“What the - ?” He struggled to move.
“Told you I owed you one, dorklinger,” Shego's voice was directly by his ear, her tone smug. “This'll teach you to open your big mouth.”
Frost sighed and stopped struggling. “I swear to God, woman. You just won't let anything go, will you?”
Shego stiffened at his words and abruptly freed his arms. “You know that better than most.” She stepped back and leaned up against the entrance door.
He stood and gingerly rubbed his cheek. “I know you want to put your hands all over me, but could you be a little more gentle? These are worth millions, y'know,” he wiggled his hands and grinned at Shego's eye roll.
“Looks like you missed your medication again, Frost. The delusions of grandeur are starting up.”
Frost laughed. “That's what they all say but I know the truth. Everyone wants a piece of this,” he gestured towards himself and adopted a classic body builder pose. He was unprepared when Shego swiftly leaned forward and poked him in the belly. A loud grunt escaped his lips as he hunched over, stomach smarting from the jab. “Ow! Bitch.”
“What can I say, I can't keep my hands off of you,” Shego smirked.
“I hate you.”
“Right back atcha. Now let's go, I wanna get this over with.” He nodded and still rubbing his belly, followed her out the door.
They walked down the hall, occasionally trying to trip and shove each other. It's moments like these, Frost thought idly, as he tried to sweep Shego's foot out from underneath her. I wish you were like this all the time, Harper. “Betty knows about Will Dufus circumventing my messages.”
They had known for quite awhile that Will had been intentionally withholding information from Betty until it was almost too late. Both Frost and Shego had been sternly lectured several times by their leader about the importance of timely updates. She had wanted to confront the stuffy agent the moment Frost alerted her to Will's duplicity. It was only his fast talking and a slightly diabolical plan for revenge that had saved Will from a plasma-filled beating one sunny afternoon. Shego snorted and lightly shoved him towards the wall. “It's about fucking time. She gonna do anything about it?”
“I'd say little Willy is reaping a bountiful harvest right about now. She was uber pissed.” He glanced at his partner and said quietly, “She gave me the go-ahead to use the Sigma line.”
Shego stopped and turned to face him, her expression unreadable. “Frost, about that - “
He shook his head, “Don't even go there, Galloway. I already told you, we're in this together.”
Their eyes met in silent understanding and Shego thought, not for the first time, that Garrett Frost was one of the few things in her life worth sticking around for. She gave him a little smile that told him how much his words meant. He answered her with a similar grin and resumed his trek down the hall. He was well aware when it came to Shego that the few moments she allowed herself to open up were moments best left unspoken. Mentioning anything would have her raising her defenses back up and using her scathing sarcasm to distance herself from any warm feelings she might have for the unlucky person stupid enough to comment on her sentimentality.
“So Green Bean, what's going on between you and every guy's wet dream?”
“Fuck you, Pointdexter.”
He chuckled, undaunted by the venom in Shego's tone. “Say the word babycakes and I'm all yours. Seriously though, you and Princess Perfection get stuff worked out?”
She smirked at his use of her nickname for Kim. Bet Kimmie would hate it even more if I called her the full version whenever we're going round and round. “Nothing to work out. She knows to stay away.” At least, Shego hoped Kim did. Considering the way she had treated the girl the last time they were together, she was fairly confident Kim would want nothing to do with her now. She ignored the stabbing pain that centered in her chest at the thought of Kim turning away from her. This was the way it had to be. Hopefully, Kim understood that now.
Kim never liked the feeling of deja vu. It bothered her on some level the idea that she wasn't in control of her life, that she was merely repeating a scene that had been played out numerous times with the same outcome. The irony wasn't lost on her as she stood in the exact same room with Dr. Director as she had the night she learned the truth about Shego. Except now she knew differently and the enemy she had neatly categorized and labeled was anything but.
She felt off-kilter. Whenever they fought, Kim was always confident in herself and her skills. Regardless of whatever Shego threw at her, she was sure she could adapt and overcome. Lately, she felt as if she was always one step behind her green-skinned former nemesis. The feeling unsettled and irritated her. She didn't like the fact she had been reacting instead of taking charge like normal and silently vowed that the days of Shego solely calling the shots were over.
A rich peal of laughter interrupted her thoughts as the elevator doors opened and the subject of her musings stepped into the room. Shego's head was turned but the easy affection between her and Frost was evident in her posture and the teasing tone of her voice. For a brief moment, Kim fervently wished the undercover agent would look at her that way. She felt a stab of jealousy as Frost leaned over and said something that had the other woman laughing again. That should be me making her laugh like that. Kim stopped short. Where had that come from? Heat suffused her cheeks at the direction her wayward thoughts had gone. It was crazy for her to be thinking and feeling this way and over Shego, no less. She hastily pushed the troublesome thoughts aside and tried to regain her composure before the newcomers noticed her.
It was too little, too late as Shego turned her head and their eyes met. Kim saw Shego's eyes widen in genuine surprise and something in her tightened at the openly vulnerable look on the double agent's face. Just as quickly, Shego's mouth set in a grim line and she pointedly turned her face away. Kim gritted her teeth. If that was how Shego wanted it, then that's how it would be but not before Kim evened out the playing field first.
“Ah, Agents Galloway and Frost. So good of you to join us and 15 minutes late at that,” Betty's tone held a heavy note of censure.
Frost had the grace to look chagrined while Shego crossed her arms and adopted an unconcerned tone. “We're here, aren't we? I wasn't aware debriefings involved civilians.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kim bristle at the comment.
Betty frowned slightly, “They don't but this is a special circumstance. So long as Drakken continues to hatch plots that involve a nuclear arsenal, we will bring in whoever is needed to ensure he's stopped. Now, Agent Galloway, what do you have to report?”
Shego shrugged, “Same shit as always. See item, steal item, sabotage plan. I do all the work and once again, the day is saved, thanks to Kim Possible.”
Kim stiffened and tried to reign in her temper as her hands balled up into tight fists. How dare she! The very idea that her efforts were nothing compared to Shego's, that she was somehow less of a hero made her blood boil. Wanting only to lash out, she gave Shego a look of contempt and said sweetly, “That's because real heroes don't need to pretend to be something else. Maybe when you can do that, you can save the day too.”
She felt a stab of satisfaction at the double agent's sharp intake of breath. The expression on Shego's face was priceless and Kim felt a spiteful joy surge through her. Now you know how it feels. She ignored the twinge in her heart at the momentary flash of hurt on the other woman's face. She was sick and tired of Shego treating her like a child. If this was the only way for Kim to be taken seriously, then so be it.
“Well, if you see a real hero around here, you let me know, Pumpkin,” Shego spat the usually playful nickname as if it were a bad taste in her mouth. “While we're at it, how about we try and find you a new boyfriend, seeing as you can't keep one to save your life. Maybe we can finally find one that can stack up to Princess Perfection's ideals.”
“Why you -” Kim growled and stepped forward aggressively, eyes flashing with real hostility for the other woman.
“Bring it on,” Shego raised her fists and ignited her plasma. If that little brat wanted to mix it up, she was more than willing to accommodate her.
“That's ENOUGH!” Betty's voice rang out and both women stopped in their tracks. She lowered her voice and said in a tone that raised the hair on the back of Kim's neck, “The next person who opens their mouth, I will personally adjust their attitude myself. Now you will both cease this childish bickering at once and behave in a manner befitting your station. Are we clear?” She glared at them both and Kim dropped her hands, looking down at the floor.
“Agent Galloway,” the curt command had Shego extinguishing the green flames that surrounded her hands and staring off, a sullen look on her face.
“Now I don't know what the conflict is, ladies and I don't particularly care either. Get over it, it's as simple as that. You will maintain discipline throughout this mission or there will be severe consequences. Is that understood?” She turned her eye on Kim who nodded meekly, eyes still downcast. “Harper?”
Shego gave her a bitter smile and saluted. “Whatever you say, Bets.”
Dr. Director's eye narrowed, “I'm not amused. Back to the subject at hand; Drakken's plan. Specifics would be appreciated.” She was truly not in the mood to deal with any more outbursts. She was still on edge from the verbal thrashing she had given Will Du before the meeting. Betty had meant to keep the reprimand concise and professional but that plan had been shot to hell the moment she heard Will's unapologetic reasoning when confronted. Her temper had flared and she had given him a dressing-down that would've left anyone else a sobbing mess. Kim and Shego sniping at each other didn't help her mood and she was highly agitated by her slack control over her agents. It was time to restore some order and discipline.
Thankfully, Shego didn't press the issue and launched into detail about Drakken's plan to sink Australia and hold the other continents hostage, enabling him to take over the world. He needed the nuclear material to fuel his atomic death ray and had plans for them to pull a heist within the next few days.
Frost, who had been silent up until now, interrupted, “Wait, what's his beef with the Australians?”
Shego rolled her eyes, “Apparently, he doesn't like their attitude.”
The computer genius laughed, “Seriously? That's the stupidest reason I ever heard. What a psycho.”
“Be that as it may, Agent Frost,” Dr. Director said in clipped tones, “he has the wherewithal to achieve his goal. You will coordinate with Mr. Load as usual. Shego will proceed with Drakken's plan and steal the materials he needs.” She pointed a finger in Kim's direction, “Kimberly, you will not directly interfere with Agent Galloway's mission. She needs to steal that plutonium and let Drakken continue to think he has a chance of success. You will intercept them at the lair and diffuse the situation as normal. Agent Frost and Mr. Load will see the nuclear material returned safely once the mission is complete. Does anyone not understand their objective?” Her tone left no doubt that it was purely a rhetorical question. At the ensuing silence, she nodded once. “Dismissed.”
Kim bolted out of the debriefing room, desperate to get away from Shego, from Dr. Director, from Global Justice altogether. She was sick over what had just happened. She hadn't meant to say such horrible things to Shego and the agent's cutting retorts had only served to wound her anew and drive them further apart. Kim ducked down a deserted, dimly lit hallway and leaned up against the wall, trying to quell the hurt and anger roiling inside her. Stupid, stupid! I shouldn't have opened my big mouth. Shego…I'm so sorry. Shame filled her as she realized just how much of a spoiled brat she had been acting the past week. Her eyes closed in despair over how badly she had messed things up again. How was she going to fix this? How was she ever going to get Shego to trust her now?
She was so busy wallowing in her misery that she was completely caught off guard as two hands painfully gripped her arms and shoved her roughly up against the opposite wall.
“Who the FUCK do you think you are?”
Kim opened her eyes to see Shego glowering at her, their faces so close she could see her reflection in the stormy green eyes. “I…”
“Shut up,” Shego was furious; furious at Kim for her thoughtless remarks that had cut deeper than she had let on, furious at herself for losing control and letting the situation get so far out of hand. She was so sure Kim would back off, would just let things be. Now it seemed there was only one way to get through to the stubborn teenager.
“Now you listen to me, Cupcake,” she sneered, “I don't give a shit what anyone says, you pull something like that again and there won't be someone stopping me next time. I've had it with your bullshit tantrums. I tried reasoning with you, hell I even tried asking you nicely and played your asinine twenty questions game and you still wouldn't let it go. You just keep fucking pushing me.”
Kim felt a small tremor of fear run through her. She thought she'd seen Shego angry before but the double agent was practically vibrating with rage. Their numerous run-ins had shown just how fierce Shego's temper burned. Now she was seeing a side of the pale-hued woman she was loathe to admit scared her the tiniest bit. “Shego, I'm sor-”
“Save it,” she cut Kim off, “I'm not interested in hearing anything you have to say anymore. You wanna see who the real hero is, Princess? You were so fucking eager to prove it was you earlier.” She jerked Kim forward, bringing them even closer together. Her lips curled in a scornful smirk, “If that's how you wanna play it, Kimmie, that's how we'll play it.” She gave Kim a feral smile, “Next time we meet, the gloves are off. You're gonna see once and for all who the hero is around here.”
“Whoa, Harper. What the hell?” Frost stood in the hallway, eyes wide at the scene he had inadvertently stumbled upon.
“Fuck off, Frost. This doesn't concern you,” Shego didn't even glance his way, her eyes still intent on boring a hole straight into Kim's.
“C'mon girls, let's play nice. Preferably with me in the middle,” he hoped resorting to humor would snap Shego out of her fury. He'd cringed at the callous words the two women had flung at each other during the debriefing. It seems they had taken several steps back instead of forward. So much for working things out, he thought morosely. “Harper,” he entreated quietly, seeing the frightened look on Kim's face. “Stop. You're scaring her.”
She turned and gave him a menacing look, “So you're on her side now, Frost? Wait,” she laughed bitterly, “of course you are. She's young, has tits and hasn't had the guts to tell you to fuck off yet.”
Garrett flinched at the spiteful words. He knew better than to let her caustic barbs get to him. She was just angry, striking out at the people she cared for the most. He gave her a sad little smile and shook his head, “If you need to take it out on someone, I'm right here. But let her go before you do something you're going to regret.”
“Oh no. Princess Perfection doesn't get a pass from all the trouble she's caused me. Kimmie here wants to play with the big girls, she can step the fuck up then.” She pushed Kim back against the wall and stepped back, giving her another baleful look, “Just remember, you brought this on yourself.” She turned on her heel and brushed past Frost, her shoulder knocking him back a few steps as she quickly exited the hallway.
Kim slid down the wall, her legs suddenly weak. Hot tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. A choked sob escaped from her lips and she felt someone crouch down near her. She looked up into Garrett Frost's compassionate hazel eyes. He shook his head and offered her a tissue before settling down beside her. They sat there in silence with Kim's occasional sniffles the only sound echoing down the hallway.