Shego could not believe it, but she was sharing an empty room with the little redheaded maiko again. She recalled that the girl’s name was Akako, but she was not using the girl’s name for anything. She did not really care to know the maiko’s name.
They were alone again thanks to Junior. He was drunk again and swore that “his skinny friend,” which were his exact words when referring to Shego that night, could use some “pretty company” again. He did not know that Shego was actually a woman and seemed to think that the bodyguard was just a shy, thin young man, which was actually the effect that she was going for. He was more than likely trying to be friendly toward her. She wished that he would stop trying to do her favors, but she supposed that it could have been worse. He could have been trying to share Bonnie with her and she had already gotten a vibe from that girl that if they were alone, she would strangle the blue-eyed female.
The vibe that she got from Akako was different, but she still did not trust the girl. So, she just sat there with Akako and let the slender entertainer pour her drinks. Akako seemed content with that, even though she did seem a little anxious too from her body language, like it made her nervous to just sit there and do nothing.
Kim did dislike just sitting there. It did not help matters that she was just sitting there and not getting any information from the bodyguard in regards to the plot to overthrow the government. She was used to being active most of the time and her body did not seem to appreciate doing nothing at all. So, as she sat there with her hands gripping her kimono at her knees, she began tapping her thumbs against her knees. Shego noticed the behavior and it was starting to get on her nerves before a minute even past.
“You got a problem?” the green-skinned bodyguard asked in a bit of a curt manner. She thought that the question might get the teen to quit the irksome movement with her thumbs.
“No, yojimbo-san,” Kim answered in the soft tone that she had adopted when speaking as a maiko. She used the tone to avoid possibly getting into any trouble with Vivian over sounding rude to anyone.
“Doesn’t seem that way,” Shego commented. She knew apprehensive behavior when she saw it and she could only wonder what the redhead’s problem was. She had not done anything to the girl, so she wished that the teen would calm down because her twitching was annoying. “You know, you don’t have to be nervous. I’m not going to do anything to you,” the bodyguard tried to assure the petite maiko.
“I know, yojimbo-san,” Kim replied.
Kim could tell that the bodyguard was not planning to hurt her or force her into anything. He (Kim was still questioning that status, but as far as she knew the guard was a male) seemed to want nothing more than to lie around and drink sake. He did not seem to drink in excess, so she did not have to worry about how he might act when he was drunk, but she did keep in mind that he might change at anytime during the night. It just did not seem likely that he might change from what she could tell. Her thumbs continued on, though.
“Then why don’t you calm down,” Shego suggested because she really wanted the girl to stop tapping her thumbs against her legs. It was just irksome. She hated it when someone was jumpy around her for no reason. If she wanted to scare the maiko, she could, but that was beneath her in her opinion.
“I am calm,” Kim tried to assure the bodyguard. She was mostly calm. She had already been assured that she did not have to do anything with the bodyguard to compromise herself and that was enough for her to be a bit easy. She just hated sitting there.
“Then what’s with your hands?”
“Oh.” Kim stopped knocking her digits lightly against her body.
“Why were you doing that?” Shego inquired. Now that the action stopped, she could see that the entertainer was not frightened of her, but she still seemed anxious about something. It was one thing to sit formally upright and everything, but she doubted that she would have been able to knock the teen over with a house as tense as she was.
“No, I’m just not used to sitting around like this,” Kim explained.
“No, I usually like to keep busy.”
Shego nodded. She could understand that only somewhat. She liked to relax when she could, but she supposed that if she was being forced to sit with someone, she would rather be doing something than just sitting there, especially when she was with Drakken and the Seniors. It was almost painful, like having a trillion needles slowly put in her eye, when she had to sit with those three and there was really nothing for her to do. She looked around for something that the maiko might be able to do that would not annoy her if only to get the painted female to stop tapping her hands.
“Why don’t you play your shamisen for me,” Shego suggested. When she had heard the redhead play the first time, the tune was stuck in her head for the past few days. In fact, she had been humming the tune when she and her party had returned that night for another meeting. Kim and Yori had been playing a different song, but it was just as lovely as the other one.
“Yes, yojimbo-san,” the olive-eyed teen answered in the most demure tone that she could mutter. It was a voice that was usually reserved for her grandmother, but it worked well for her current mission.
Kim reached back and grabbed her shamisen, which had been resting against the wall. She began playing the instrument and Shego nodded slightly. The pale woman decided that the girl played well and it was a nice sound to relax to. As time passed, Shego ended up just listening to the music and she did not realize that she had long ago finished her drink.
“Yojimbo-san,” Kim said.
“Hmm?” Shego replied.
“Would you like me to fill your cup again?”
“Huh?” Shego then looked down at her empty cup. “No, that’s all right. I’ve had enough for one night. You can stop too.”
Kim nodded and she ceased playing the shamisen. She was glad to stop, even though she noticed that her music was getting to the bodyguard. Maybe if she got to play for him a few more times, he might open up to her and trust her once they were able to connect through the music. He might even eventually share some information about the plans to overthrow the Shogun.
Shego tipped her hat over her face a little more for lack of a better thing to do, even though the hat was doing what it was supposed to even without that action; it had been concealing her profile. She had no idea that the shamisen could sound so soothing, but the way the redhead strummed the instrument, it was heavenly. She had no idea that music could be so relaxing. It was unsettling and that was why she told the girl to stop. But, now that the music was done and the room was silent, she wanted something to do.
“Hey, girl,” Shego said.
“Akako,” Kim corrected the bodyguard.
“Girl,” Shego repeated. She was not about to be corrected by anybody, but especially not a maiko. She was going to call the redhead whatever it was that came to mind.
“Yes, yojimbo-san?” Kim asked through clenched teeth. Even though Akako was not her name, she would rather hear that than to be called “girl.” She was not even a girl; she was grown woman. It was just that she had to be extra-polite to the bodyguard and cater to his whims as that was in the job description.
“Who taught you how to play the shamisen?” Shego asked.
“My grandmother,” the redhead answered without thinking.
“She taught you well. I tried to play it when I was little,” the pale bodyguard admitted, also not really thinking. Perhaps that could be blamed on the relaxed state of mind that had been induced by the melody.
“Well, I didn’t get right off the bat, so I slammed it against a tree and decided it was stupid instrument anyway,” Shego said with a bit of a laugh. It was the truth. She had tried to learn the shamisen when she was a child, but it seemed too hard and it never sounded right when she plucked the strings. So, she quickly grew to hate it and had a ball breaking it against a tree.
“It is a stupid instrument,” Kim concurred.
Shego shrugged. She still liked the shamisen it would seem. She just was not cut out for playing the string instrument. But, Kim played it very well and she would not mind hearing Kim play.
“You hate it, yet you play it,” Shego pointed out. She said that because Kim liked pointing out how the bodyguard hung around people that she did not like and seemed to come to a place that the protector did not like.
“Well, if you met my grandmother, you’d know it’s better to just do what she says than to argue the matter,” the redhead remarked with a small laugh. She did not realize that she spoke in the present tense about her grandmother, but it thankfully seemed to go by her patron too since someone in Kim’s position was not supposed to have any ties with her family.
“I don’t know about that. I always find it’s fun to argue.”
“You don’t seem like you argue a lot,” Kim commented. From what she could tell, the guardian was rather laidback, but she did note that they were in a relaxed setting. The bodyguard was probably different out in the real world.
“Well, not much to argue with you about, unless you don’t pour my drinks fast enough,” Shego remarked.
“Is that a hint that you want another drink?” the redheaded teen asked in a bit of a comic tone.
“When it comes to drinks, I don’t hint. I figure you’d know that by now,” the pale woman replied with a smirk that Kim could not really see because Shego was wearing her usual hat.
“I did notice a little,” the olive-eyed female said with a little giggle.
Shego chuckled a bit too. Akako was a welcomed change from what Shego was used to being around, even though she did not realize it. There were no harsh exchanges like when Shego spoke to Drakken. There was no reason to roll her eyes like she did at least once a minute when Drakken and Senior were going back and forth with their great plan. But, since talking and being around Akako was so different, it would explain why Shego was not so irked the next time that Junior said she should be alone with Akako.
“Akako,” Shego sighed.
“Yes, yojimbo-san?” Kim asked.
“Why don’t you just tackle me while you’re at it?” Shego suggested.
“Hmm? Oh, sorry.” Kim blushed and then sat up super-straight.
The pair was sitting alone in a room, which was becoming their usual with their current meeting being their fifth in less than a month. The reason that Shego had said the girl’s name was because she could tell that Kim was staring at her, even though she had her hat pulled down over her eyes. She could just feel those olive eyes on her and she was right about that.
Kim was trying her best to get a look at the bodyguard’s face from under the hat, especially since the mask was not on; the cloth covering was lying limp on the floor by the guard’s feet. She was still trying to figure out if the bodyguard was indeed a male. Something seemed, well, not right about the bodyguard and she had the notion in her head that it was because the bodyguard looked like a female. She had glanced at the bodyguard’s face on occasion, but it always very brief, and all that did was have her think that he might actually be a she.
Shego assumed that she was being stared at for another reason. People stared at her quite often. It had been like that for a long time now. She was odd looking, after all. Her skin was an awkward whitish green color and some people had little problem with gawking at her as if she was a puppet show there for their pleasure and curiosity.
“You wouldn’t like it if I stared at you, would you?” Shego pointed out, even though as soon as the words left her mouth, she thought it was a stupid question. As a maiko, the redhead probably enjoyed stares and attention. It meant that she could probably make a lot of money, after all.
“Well, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d be used to it,” Kim answered, more honestly than she meant to. Well, it was too late to take back now.
“I’ll bet you’re used to it,” Shego said in a teasing tone.
“What do you mean by that?” Kim inquired as if she was offended. She was used to being stared at, but it was not in a pleasant fashion like Shego assumed.
Shego wondered what was with the girl’s tone. She thought that was what geisha liked; someone paying attention to them, staring at them because it would more than likely add up to money. Had she judged the redhead wrong? She doubted it and now she was going to prove herself right.
“You know you want people to stare at you, to take in your beauty,” Shego said and then she realized that she had practically called the girl beautiful. Now, it was not a lie, but she did think that the makeup made it hard to be a lie. Maybe the redhead was not beautiful when her face paint was off.
“Take in my beauty?” Kim scoffed. People did not stare at her because they thought that she was beautiful, ever.
“Oh, you got a sob story you want to tell me? Crying that they stared at you because you’re disfigured in some creepy way or something like that?” Shego inquired in a tone of disbelief.
“You don’t know me, yojimbo-san, and you don’t know what my life is like.”
“Okay, fine, make me cry,” the green-skinned bodyguard said with an exaggerated sigh to tease her companion.
“You might just see the face paint and nice kimono and everything and assume that people swear I’m lovely when they see me, but people stare at me because of the same reason Senior-san thinks I’m exotic. They look at me and then they have to check my shadow. They follow me around and whisper things about me. ‘I bet you she’s a fox,’ ‘oh, I saw her change,’ ‘she always runs when she sees a dog.’ And I have to listen to this all the time. If that’s a good kind of staring, then you can have it,” the redhead replied.
“Hey, if you want to trade reasons that people stare, I’ll take that one,” Shego stated.
“Oh, so you have a sob story?” Kim countered.
The pale woman laughed a bit. She guessed that she should not have called Kim’s bluff earlier if she did not want her own words thrown back in her face. Well, she supposed that she had to top the redhead now. After all, there was no way that she could just let the teen think that she won their little argument.
“You’ve got the red hair. All right, it’s troublesome, but if it was really annoying, you could always throw on a wig. I’ve got green skin, Akako-chan,” Shego stated soundly, throwing the “chan” at the end of the name to further tease Kim. It was like that word would make her statement all the more powerful.
“I’ve seen stranger things,” Kim said in a dismissive tone. She really had and stopped noticing her patron’s skin color about the second visit in.
“Than green skin?” the bodyguard asked in disbelief. She scoffed a little too to further show that she felt the girl was being artificial with her statement.
“Yeah,” Kim replied convincingly.
“How could you have seen stranger things? And besides, you were just staring at me because of the skin thing,” Shego pointed out, feeling she would claim victory from that fact.
“Not because of your skin. I just wanted to see your whole face,” the redhead admitted plainly. She did not think to be ashamed of the confession. It just did not register to her brain to feel sheepish for a reason that had to do with her present company, but she did not realize it.
“Why? You’re a nosy little thing,” Shego commented. She was a bit stunned that the entertainer was not eyeing her because she was green, but she hid it rather well and Kim could not see her face anyway to know that she was slightly surprised.
“Well, I haven’t seen your whole face despite how many times I’ve seen you. I was wondering what you look like,” Kim confessed. She was curious as to what the bodyguard looked like and if seeing the guard’s whole face for more than a brief second might answer the question if “yojimbo-san” was a man or a woman.
“You shouldn’t wonder about things that don’t concern you. It let’s you live longer.”
“Are you threatening me, yojimbo-san?” Kim asked in a playful tone. She even smiled in an almost teasing manner.
Kim did not notice it, but she had become quite comfortable around the odd bodyguard. It might have had something to do with the fact that “yojimbo-san” acted so laidback when they were around each other. The protector did not ask anything of her that was outlandish, even though Kim took some offense with having to pour drinks all of the time, but that was because at heart Kim was a samurai and also liked doing what she wanted. Still, it was easy to talk with the bodyguard, when the bodyguard wanted to talk anyway and that seemed to set Kim at ease.
There was also the fact that they spent hours together when they did see each other. They conversed about the shamisen sometimes or other instruments. They had some mildly philosophical discussions on life, surprising each other in agreeing on some points, like one should do what one wished with life. Of course, Shego thought that was more talk than anything else from Kim since the maiko was shut away in the teahouse.
“You’ll know when I’m threatening you, Akako-chan,” Shego replied, her tone was also lighthearted.
“Well, if you get around to it, just a warning, I’m not easy as you might think, yojimbo-san,” the redhead commented.
Shego laughed. She liked bantering with Akako. She was not so opposed to coming out now when her party wanted to go talk about their plans and everything. It was good to get away from them and talk with someone that she did not feel the urge to shove her sword down the person’s throat, even if the person did seem to think highly of herself.
“You talk big for a person that pours my drinks and plays me songs on command,” Shego retorted.
“Just because that’s all you’ve seen me do doesn’t mean it is all I do. Just like because all I see you do is lie there like a lazy frog and drink doesn’t mean that’s all you do,” Kim pointed out.
“You got me there.”
Kim smiled just a little, which made Shego smile too. The redhead was a curious creature because she was not acting as modest as the other entertainers. Kim considered that the bodyguard was a curious creature too because Shego did not seem to want to do anything that her “big sisters” told her that many men would try when alone with one of them.
“That bodyguard seems to have taken a liking to you,” Vivian commented, speaking to Kim. They were alone in a room. The blonde woman was just checking up on Kim as she had a habit of doing with the redhead and also with Yori. She watched over them like a mother hen when she could and when she was not scolding them for whatever reason.
“Not really. He still won’t even tell me his name,” Kim replied.
“So, you’re not getting anything from him when he takes you off to be alone?” The blonde was teasing and asking a serious question at the same time.
“He just doesn’t like being around the other fellows and he just lies there and drinks,” Kim answered with a bit of a blush as she realized what the teasing was meant to imply. The color was visible on her face because she was not wearing her maiko makeup.
“You should work your charm on him. Maybe he’ll spill his guts,” Vivian remarked with a smirk and a little wiggle to give the girl an idea of what she meant.
Kim blushed even more as she realized what Vivian was suggesting. She would never do something like that! She was engaged for crying out loud. Sure, she was promised to a jerk that she probably could beat up if she felt like it. But, she would never think to do anything like that with the bodyguard, even though he was a lot more interesting than her fiancé.
“I’m sure he’s good looking, especially without the hat and mask,” Vivian continued on because it was fun to play with the samurai considering the stress that the redhead and Yori had put her through while she was training them.
They still put her through stress once they were in the party because she was not sure what they would do when they were out of her sight. It was not like she could trust Bonnie to watch them since it was clear that Bonnie looked at them as a threat. Bonnie seemed to think that she was going to lose Junior’s attentions to the two musicians.
“Surely he would tell you everything if you really wanted him too,” Vivian continued to poke fun at Kim.
The redheaded samurai was not too sure how she should respond to such words. She knew that she should take offense to the statement and she did, but she was not even sure where to begin huffing about it. Vivian seemed to notice that she had overstepped the teasing line.
“Don’t take it too hard, Akako. I’m only playing. You shouldn’t compromise your beliefs for something that you might not even get,” Vivian said in her usual tone.
“May I go to my room now, please?” Kim requested. She did not want to be around Vivian anymore because of those words, even if she was playing. She did not want to think of “yojimbo-san” in that manner.
Kim retreated to her room, where Yori was already lying down. The redhead quickly did the same. Yori looked at Kim as soon as they were on the same level. Kim could feel the eyes on her, so she turned to face her fellow spy.
“Nothing happened,” Kim assured Yori. It was becoming their routine for her to say that because Yori did worry that something would happen to her while she was alone with “yojimobo-san.”
“Has he told you anything?” the ninja inquired after breathing a sigh of relief. She thought that something might happen between her friend and the bodyguard. She trusted that Kim would not allow herself to be dishonored, but she did not want Kim to be in such a position.
“Nothing really. You got anything?”
“Nothing much. Drakken-san just boasts that his weapons are great and Senior-sama talks about how good that is and wants to know when they’ll be able to arm his men and then Drakken-san goes on that genius takes time. It’s all very tedious,” Yori reported.
“After that first night, I thought we’d be out of here by now with how openly they talked about everything,” the redhead admitted.
“I thought the same,” the ebony-haired female concurred.
They both sighed. At the rate they were going, they were going to be there for a while. They were going to be there longer than they wanted, they knew that much. At least they could confirm that there was a plot afoot, but Betty wanted specifics. She wanted to know where the weapons were and who the men were that were going to wield those weapons. She wanted to know what kind of weapons and she wanted to be able to collect those weapons before they were used. In short, Betty wanted to know everything and they had nothing more to offer than they had that first night. They were going to have to put up with things until Betty was satisfied, which was a depressing thought.
Yori missed her husband, after all. They had already been parted for a month. She felt almost empty without his presence being near her and she secretly pined for him almost as if she was involved in a one-sided love affair. Little did she know, but he was doing the same while worrying deeply that something might have happened to her, even though he was getting assurances from Betty that his beloved was “fine.”
“You asked for me, yojimbo-san?” Kim asked as she entered a room and sat down.
Shego was already in the room and lying down like she usually was. She liked reclining suddenly. She was the only person in the room because she had come on her own. She had to get out of the lair before she ended up impaling Drakken and she was not going to use her sword when doing it.
“I need someone to pour the sake,” Shego remarked. It was the best that she could come up with because she was not sure why she had come there when she left the lair. She had other places that she could do, but instead, she went to see the little maiko.
“There are about twenty other people that you could have called to pour sake,” Kim pointed out, almost as if she was scolding the bodyguard.
“Yeah, but I called for you, so get to pouring,” Shego replied.
Kim rolled her eyes and moved to do as she was ordered to. As nice as it was conversing with the bodyguard, she was a little irked with having to do whatever he ordered. She put up with it, though. She could not just blow her cover or anything, after all.
“So, where’s the rest of your party?” Kim asked curiously.
“Acting like idiots as usual. It’s funny to see these morons think they could rule anything and if either of them is smart, one is going to kill the other anyway,” Shego commented as if it was nothing, like she was talking about anything else that she would with the teen. Obviously, she was growing rather comfortable with the redhead because that was the first time that she even referenced the plot and she had done it so casually that Kim was stunned for a moment.
“Do you really think so?” the redhead inquired.
“Like I said, if either of them is smart, but I doubt they’re that smart,” the nonchalant bodyguard remarked.
“Is that what you would do?” Kim inquired.
“If I wanted,” was the almost frivolous response. It was clear that she meant those words, but the whole matter seemed trivial to her.
“So, it’s not what you want?” the redhead asked curiously.
Shego shrugged. “These morons don’t know what it means to rule anything at all. They don’t know what life is about. They don’t know what life should be,” she replied and then took a sip from her cup. She doubted that they truly knew what they wanted out of life and that was why they were going through with their scheme.
“And you do?”
“I know what I want life to be like, but then again, I guess they know just as much. The only thing is that they’re assholes about it.”
Kim laughed a little bit because she had not expected the bodyguard to say that. Now she was curious as to why Shego was involved in a plot to overthrow the government when it was clear that the bodyguard did not have faith in the people looking to rule and she did not seem all that in favor of the plan. It seemed like an odd thing, but she figured now was a good time to fish for information since Shego was finally being open about things.
“Well, why go with them on this plan if you don’t agree with it?” Kim inquired.
“It’s something to do, something exciting. It’s better than sitting around here pouring drinks and playing the shamisen, I’ll bet that much,” Shego replied.
“How do you know? You haven’t done it.”
“You don’t ever look to happy to do it,” Shego commented quite seriously.
“Really?” Kim asked with some surprise. She was not happy to do it, but she thought that she hid that fairly well.
“Nope,” the pale bodyguard replied. She noted that Akako was just about the most reluctant geisha she had seen and she had seen more than most people would guess. The redhead clearly was not pleased with being ordered around, which made it a little fun to command her about.
“Well, just because I don’t look happy about it doesn’t make what I do any less than what you do,” Kim argued.
Shego scoffed. “You’d probably give you right arm to get out of here.”
Kim opened her mouth to dispute that, but closed her mouth for a moment. She did not have a retort for more seconds than she liked, which just confirmed what Shego said. But, that did not end the discussion.
“Maybe not the right arm,” Kim replied. After all, she did need that arm to wield her sword.
Shego laughed; it was a good idea to come there, she figured. Answers like that were why she liked hanging around the shamisen player. Being around the maiko was way better than hanging around the lair with Drakken or even sitting in a party with Drakken and the Seniors. Plus, she could get on the redhead’s nerves a little bit, which was fun too.
Next time: Kim is questioned about her feelings for “yojimbo-san,” after disappearing with the bodyguard.